The Watering Hole; Thursday March 5 2015; Of ‘Demagogues and Stooges’


“If we don’t find alternatives to this corrupt ‘two’ party system, our Representative Republic will die and be replaced with what we are rapidly descending into with nary a check or balance: a fascist corporate wasteland.” ~Cindy Sheehan; May 28, 2007

Earlier this week I happened across a New York Times Op-Ed on the subject of American Fascism, a topic which, when blended with the myriad press releases recently emerged from the annual CPAC event in Washington DC, can quickly capture one’s attention. Below are selected excerpts from the Times article which, even though they represent only about a third of the original document, do nevertheless convey an incredibly clear message that describes precisely what we in this country are now witnessing each and every day upon our corporate and political stage.

A fascist is one whose lust for money or power is combined with such an intensity of intolerance toward those of other races, parties, classes, religions, cultures, regions or nations as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends. The supreme god of a fascist, to which his ends are directed, may be money or power; may be a race or a class; may be a military clique or an economic group; or may be a culture, religion, or a political party.

[. . .]

The obvious types of American fascists are dealt with on the air and in the press. These demagogues and stooges are fronts for others.. . . The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information. With a fascist the problem is never how best to present the truth to the public but how best to use the news to deceive the public into giving the fascist and his group more money or more power.

[. . .]

If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful. . . . They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead.

American fascism will not be really dangerous until there is a purposeful coalition among the cartelists, the deliberate poisoners of public information, and those who stand for the K.K.K. type of demagoguery.

Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion. . . .

The symptoms of fascist thinking are colored by environment and adapted to immediate circumstances. But always and everywhere they can be identified by their appeal to prejudice and by the desire to play upon the fears and vanities of different groups in order to gain power. It is no coincidence that the growth of modern tyrants has in every case been heralded by the growth of prejudice. . . .

The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy . . . to conceal their own selfish imperialism. . . .

. . . Monopolists who fear competition and who distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity would like to secure their position against small and energetic enterprise. In an effort to eliminate the possibility of any rival growing up, some monopolists would sacrifice democracy itself.

[. . .]

Democracy to crush fascism internally must . . . develop the ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance the budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit. We must not tolerate oppressive government or industrial oligarchy in the form of monopolies and cartels. As long as . . . this liberal potential is properly channeled, we may expect the area of freedom of the United States to increase. The problem is to spend up our rate of social invention in the service of the welfare of all the people.

[ . . .]

It should also be evident that exhibitions of the native brand of fascism are not confined to any single section, class or religion. Happily, it can be said that as yet fascism has not captured a predominant place in the outlook of any American section, class or religion. It may be encountered in Wall Street, Main Street or Tobacco Road. Some even suspect that they can detect incipient traces of it along the Potomac. It is an infectious disease, and we must all be on our guard against intolerance, bigotry and the pretension of invidious distinction.

Granted, the author did not name names; he did not identify any particular “on the air and in the press” . . . “perversion of truth and fact” events or examples, he simply pointed to ALL those who exhibit that “insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives.” He didn’t mention Fox News, or Rupert Murdoch, or the Wall Street Journal, or Rush Limbaugh, or Glenn Beck, or George Bush, or Dick Cheney, or Pat Robertson, or Ted Cruz, or Lindsey Graham, or the Koch Brothers, or Sheldon Adelson, or the Tea Party, or Steve King, or Sarah Palin, or Rick Perry, or Newt Gingrich, or John Boehner, or Mitch McConnell, or Scott Walker, or . . . the list of every political voice and/or corporate entity that puts money and power ahead of human beings is as interminable as it is familiar.

There is, however, another reason why none of those names familiar to us were mentioned in the referenced article — it was published by the New York Times on April 9, 1944. It was written by then Vice President Henry A. Wallace at the request of the Times who asked him to, as Wallace noted, write a piece that answered the questions “What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are they?” I first ran across word of the Wallace essay in a 2004 Common Dreams article by Thom Hartmann. A google or two later, I located the complete essay entitled The Danger of American Fascism from which the excerpts above were chosen.

In Wallace’s day, the consummate fascist models were Benito Mussolini, Adolf Hitler, and their respective fascist regimes in Italy and in Germany. Ironically, Wallace’s essay was published just short of one full year prior to European fascism’s final collapse. It also seems ironic that today, just short of SEVENTY YEARS beyond European Fascism’s final collapse, “We the people of the United States” sit smugly and/or blindly back as we allow the rise and institutionalization of American Fascism. We listen as its agenda is shouted regularly and loudly by its professional adherents, by its candidates, and by the media — and all with nary an informative grunt from any official opposing voice to be heard. One can only wonder, where is a Henry Wallace voice when we really need one? More importantly, where is the mass media? Why the silence? When will come the moment for everyone to finally hear the truth — out loud and with CLARITY — that the American GOP has sufficiently morphed itself to become today’s AMERICAN FASCIST MOVEMENT?

In a true and genuine Democracy such as America pretends herself to be, there would be no problem; the free voice of Truth would be loud and clear, shouted from the rooftops and broadcast via media outlets everywhere. Such is clearly NOT the case, however, and for the obvious reason that when corporate media monopolists who fear competition and who distrust democracy because it stands for equal opportunity are faced with the truth vs. propaganda option, it’s no secret their choice will be to poison the channels of public information..

In any case and for whatever reason, this year’s CPAC ‘revelations’ in combination with detailed analyses of reality (such as Wallace’s, above) also reminded me of the quote William Shirer used to preface his historical treatise, “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” — the George Santayana line that reads:

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Wake up, America. Call out your demagogues and stooges.  If you dare. If you care.

OPEN THREAD — Feel Free to Call Out DEMAGOGUES and STOOGES Here!


The Watering Hole; Friday February 27 2015; “Conservascism”

Back in September of 2007 John W. Dean posted a article entitled Why Authoritarians Now Control the Republican Party: The Rise of Authoritarian Conservatism, Part Two in a Three-Part Series. In it, he wrote,

“. . . I prepared a list of the additional traits that [people] . . . who test high as right-wing authoritarians often evidence: highly religious, moderate to little education, trust untrustworthy authorities, prejudiced (particularly against homosexuals, women, and followers of religions other than their own), mean-spirited, narrow-minded, intolerant, bullying, zealous, dogmatic, uncritical toward their chosen authority, hypocritical, inconsistent and contradictory, prone to panic easily, highly self-righteous, moralistic, strict disciplinarian, severely punitive, demands loyalty and returns it, little self-awareness, usually politically and economically conservative/Republican.”

That same month, Jonathan Chait, in a New Republic article entitled “How economic crackpots devoured American politics; Feast of the Wingnuts” (sorry, the link I have is no longer valid) noted that,

“American politics has been hijacked by a tiny coterie of right-wing economic extremists, some of them ideological zealots, others merely greedy, a few of them possibly insane. The scope of their triumph is breathtaking. Over the course of the last three decades, they have moved from the right-wing fringe to the commanding heights of the national agenda. Notions that would have been laughed at a generation ago — that cutting taxes for the very rich is the best response to any and every economic circumstance or that it is perfectly appropriate to turn the most rapacious and self-interested elements of the business lobby into essentially an arm of the federal government — are now so pervasive, they barely attract any notice. The result has been a slow- motion disaster … Government is no smaller — it is simply more debt-ridden and more beholden to wealthy elites.”

Ah yes, government is “more beholden to wealthy elites.” September 2007 was almost eight years ago and yet both Dean’s and Chait’s descriptions are as precise and as accurate today as they were the day they were written. And today, the ‘conservatives’ have since retaken the majority in both congressional houses and are preparing each and every day to lay claim to 2016’s presidential election as well — with a list of candidates that each and all fulfill that “more beholden to wealthy elites” requirement more effectively than at any point in this country’s history.

Question of the day/week/month/year/decade is a simple one: WHY is this former democratic republic so absolutely willing to sacrifice each and every quality it was born with and instead WILLINGLY turn itself over to the billionaires, the corporate goliaths, and the bigoted fascist power-mongers?

Today, the Republican party’s principle agendas are (1) to authorize the Keystone XL Pipeline in spite of Obama’s veto; (2) to overturn Obama’s Executive Orders on immigration; (3) to overturn the FCC’s Net Neutrality decision. Why? Because they’re CONSERVASCISTS (read: Conservatives-fascists) and their owners demand it.

I have only two questions remaining: Whereto from here, America? -and- Do you still exist, and if so, why?