Column No. 90 By Steven Jonas, MD, MPH - December 22, 2005
Here, once again, is my short definition of fascism: “Fascism is a politico-economic system in which there is: total executive branch control of the government; no independent judiciary; no Constitution that embodies the Rule of Law standing above the people who run the government; no inherent rights or liberties; a single national ideology that first demonizes and then criminalizes all political, religious, and ideological opposition to it; and total corporate determination of economic, fiscal, and regulatory policy.” (If you want to see my longer definitions, please refer to my columns of May 27, 2004 “On Fascism -- And The Georgites” and of Jan 27, 2005 “Comparing George W. Bush and Adolf Hitler”).
On Tuesday, Dec. 13, our Editor/Publisher, Judge Stephen Gheen ran the following commentary:
Doug Thompson of Capitol Hill Blue has just released another macabre insight into President Bush. Bush summoned Republican Congressional leaders to the White House to urge extension of the Patriot Act without significant changes to the expansive provisions of that Act. Thompson reports the following exchange occurred during the meeting. GOP leaders told Bush that his hardcore push to renew the more onerous provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives still mad at the President from his botched attempt to nominate White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.
“I don’t give a goddamn,” Bush retorted. “I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”
“Mr. President,” one aide in the meeting said. “There is a valid case that the provisions in this law undermine the Constitution.”
“Stop throwing the Constitution in my face,” Bush screamed back. “It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”
I’ve talked to three people present for the meeting that day and they all confirm that the President of the United States called the Constitution “a goddamned piece of paper.” -- Capitol Hill Blue”
One may have to take what is published in Capitol Hill Blue with a grain of salt or two. Two respected, and certainly anti-Georgite, political analysts who are good friends of mine have reservations about its credibility, especially on specifics. However, even if Bush did not utter those exact words (one of my friends surmised that he would have said something like “F--- the Constitution” rather than the more literary version of rejection quoted above) there is plenty in his actions that demonstrates that the “goddamned piece of paper” reference is exactly how he feels about it. For example, as I have said on numerous occasions in these columns: the assumption of the independent power to declare war, the trashing of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments, the ignoring of treaties that are part of the Constitution, the fact that the arguments of his surrogate Cheney (or is it the other way round?) against the McCain anti-torture amendment turned around Cheney’s absolute determination to have “nothing interfere with the power of the President.”
Put that together with other major features of the Georgite reign that fit in with the definition of fascism above and it seems to me that with the statement quoted above, or a position embodied by them if those words were not actually uttered, we are now in this country living on the brink of fascism. How will it be implemented here, one might ask. Through the Patriot Act, is the answer.
Why do the Georgites want these powers? Certainly not because they have to have them in order to “fight terrorism” (any more than the War on Iraq is necessary “to fight terrorism”). If the Georgites really wanted to do that, they already can under pre-Patriot Act statutes. For example, there is plenty of evidence, as gathered by the 9/11 Commission itself, that the plans for the World Trade Center horror could have been detected and the attack aborted. Further, European nations are constantly finding and arresting potential terrorists without enacting basic changes in their criminal justice systems.
The purpose of the Patriot Act would not be, it would seem, further to strengthen “Homeland Security,” beyond providing the FBI with unprecedented independent powers of surveillance. However, report after report, from a multitude of bipartisan sources over the last three years (most recently, Dec. 5, 2005, from the 9/11 Commission itself which called his efforts a “dismal failure”), directly contradicts Bush's promises in this regard, citing dangerous under-funding, misplaced priorities, over-reliance on private industry and dire neglect at local, state, and federal levels.”
So if the Patriot Act is not about catching about particular terrorists and not about improving homeland security in general, what is it about? By the process of elimination it would seem that, it cannot be about anything else but giving the Georgites broad-ranging powers of oppression and repression against any kind of dissent, verbal, written or physical, legal or illegal, to virtually any of its policies and programs, here at home. With the powers granted to the President by the Act as it now stands he can label anyone he wants to, non-citizen and citizen alike, as a “terrorist” or an abettor of same, and lock them up indefinitely, without charges, without access to any part of the judicial system, and without any public notification, and apparently order them to be tortured as well.
If, in the realm of civil rights and liberties, the powers granted to the President seem to bear a strong resemblance to those granted to Adolf Hitler by the German Enabling Act of March 24, 1933 (see my TPJ columns of June 3 and June 24, 2004) in my view that is no coincidence. Now one might say: “But Hitler and his financial backers were looking for ways to suppress major political and economic dissent from the Communist and Socialist Parties and the powerful German trade unions. No equivalent of any of those powerful forces exists here, now.” That is true. However, consider the following.
Perhaps Bush and his financial backers may not have done very well in advance planning for dealing with the situation in Iraq following the invasion. But dollars to donuts they know very well what is going to happen in this country as the chickens come home to roost as a result of their policies on taxation, the economy, Social Security, higher education, the military, and foreign policy. For example, when the credit crash that will surely come with the Georgites in power there might well be millions of people protesting on the streets. And that is not the only issue that would bring people out in numbers never seen before in this country. Think: the financial collapse of the health care delivery system under the assault of the profit-makers; the end of Social Security as we have known it under the assault of the privatizers; the next Great Depression resulting from the credit crash and the increasing export of capital; to say nothing of the results of the Draconian laws governing private thought and behavior that could be enacted in a second Bush term as part of implementing the agenda of the Christian Right.
In my view, it is to be able to very forcibly control the foreseeable massive resistance, perhaps not well organized but nevertheless massive, to the oppression and repression of the vast majority of the people of our country on behalf of the super-rich and the major corporations that form the foundation of the Georgites and Georgitism that is what the Patriot Act is all about. Pure and simple, and frightening and fascist.
Author’s note: The second half of this column draws heavily upon a column that I published on October 28, 2004, “Why the Patriot Act?’
Postscript: As if on cue, On Dec. 16, 2005 the New York Times published a lengthy article on how the President, by Executive Order set up a domestic extra-legal, extra-judicial spying operation. (The above column was written on Dec. 14, and is based in part on one from 10/28/04.) Although the Georgites often take actions that have no legal or Constitutional authority behind them, on this case the President presumably acted under the powers given to him by the original Patriot Act (which among other things repealed the Fourth Amendment protection against extra-judicial search and seizure) to do just about anything he wants to US citizens and non-citizens alike residing in the United States once he, on his own authority, labels them as "terrorists."
Bush has already indefinitely imprisoned without any judicial/legal rights one US citizen, Jose Padilla, under this power. Only a long and costly court struggle has changed that situation. But this is the central issue of the Patriot Act. This is why it is the equivalent of the Nazi-German Enabling Act of March 27, 1933, as I have written on numerous occasions in this column. The matter of spying on library records is a distraction, a sideshow that may actually have been put into the mix by the Georgites so as to distract Congress and the American people from the real issue: the establishment of Presidential dictatorial power over any and all actions of US citizens, just as long as he labels them as "terrorist".
The Times held their article for one year under White House pressure. That's not good. The Times released the article on the day the Senate took up reauthorization of the Patriot Act. That's good. Hopefully Senator Feingold and those Democrats with a devotion to Constitutional Democracy, and maybe even a few of those so-called "moderate" Republicans who will be called to account here, will get to the real, central issues of the Act. If they do, we may have seen the beginning of the end of the march toward Georgite Theocratic Fascism which to my mind has to this point been inexorable.