I agree with Ms. Wolf in most particulars but do see things in some respects quite differently. I will get to those differences at the end - I encourage you to read the links within this post as they elaborate much further on what's going on and why - but first, a short list of what I would describe as critical points along this sliding path to a police state.
As Wolf has pointed out in her book, The End of America, the initial stages of a "shift" contain fascist elements side-by-side with liberal democratic elements. This stage of co-existence can go on for some time, but sooner or later the fascist elements eat up the democratic ones. For those who aren't paying proper attention, in other words, day-to-day life can appear quite normal while the horrors build and build in the background.
Paying proper attention in our conditions means going outside of what the Democratic Party and the mass media are directing our attention to. Most people in this country aren't accustomed to doing this as they largely take their cues about what's going on and what they can and should do about it from the political leadership class.
But this is a terrible mistake in our case. Millions of people have got to step outside of the customary and into doing things that are outside their comfort zones. Being comfortable in one's political actions in times such as these will prove fatal.
1) The coup might be properly described as a rolling coup in that there have been distinct nodal points along the way, a description that I think Naomi would agree with (she has spoken of a "fascist shift.") The first nodal point was the surrender by Al Gore and the mass media in 2000 to Bush and Cheney's stealing the election. Gore could have, should have, and didn't, call for his supporters to march on the Supreme Court to demand that all the votes be counted. Once this election was allowed to be stolen in the open through the machinations of the Supremes, the die was cast for everything else that has followed.
2) The second nodal point was the USA PATRIOT Act's passage after 9/11 that gave unprecedented powers to the government to snoop and overrule core elements of civil liberties under the rubric of the unending "war on terror." The acceptance by the rest of the political leadership class of the "GWOT" has been absolutely critical to allowing the rampage of the Bush regime and their followers. It represents the foundation for a police state under any future president.
3) The third nodal point was the 2004 election being stolen - again in plain sight - with the Democratic Party and the mass media again permitting this to happen and refusing to investigate, let alone even mention, the mountains of evidence of fraud.
4) The fourth nodal point was the 2006 Military Commissions Act that abrogated habeas corpus and legalized torture.
5) The fifth nodal point was the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 that gave the president emergency powers.
6) The sixth nodal point was the Democrats' failure to defund the Iraq War and their withdrawal of language from a resolution that would have prevented an attack on Iran by Bush. In addition, in 2007 the Democratic majority in Congress also declared that they would not do anything about the eminently hackable voting machines until at least 2010, thus making a stolen election in 2008 a real possibility, indeed, a likelihood.
7) The seventh nodal point was the issuance of NSPD-51 and HSPD-20 that provided secret policies for the continuity of government (i.e., emergency powers/martial law). When Representative DeFazio was denied access to these procedures in July 2007 and the story wasn't covered by the mainstream press, the story was allowed to pass unremarked upon.
8) The eighth nodal point was on and after April 8, 2008 when Bush admitted approving torture and the rest of the US leadership class said nothing and did nothing when they should have called for and moved immediately for his removal from office.
9) The ninth nodal point was the surrender by the all-progressives' Minneapolis City Council to the police state by their green lighting in advance the fascistic measures seen in the streets of St. Paul and Minneapolis during the RNC and the failure of the mass media to give proper coverage to this clear evidence that free assembly and free speech were no longer to be respected. It reflected the coming home of "shock and awe," the use of the bogus claim of terror to crack down in pre-emptive attacks on American protestors, and the use of torture-lite on at least one protestor.
10) The tenth nodal point was the October 2008 knuckling under of Congress to the "sky is falling" claims by the White House demanding the $700 Billion bailout and the warnings to certain unnamed reluctant Representatives of martial law if they didn't vote for the bailout.
11) The eleventh nodal point was October 2008 Bush's ordering the day-to-day control by U.S. Army North, the Army component of Northern Command (NorthCom), of the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team who could and will be used to quell U.S. "civil disturbances."
Naomi Wolf speaks clearly and specifically to the last two items on this list in the video below.
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Ms. Wolf calls for the coup conspirators' arrests by District Attorneys. While I would and do support such an action, I think that we need to be clear here on what exactly it's going to take to stem this ugly tide and turn things around. What force will it take to do this? It will take the collective actions of the masses of people in this country. Such a massive action of millions will not materialize as a single act. It is something that must be built for and our efforts need to be aimed at bringing this into being as soon as possible.
The first thing we have to realize, and I know that this is a hard truth for many to face, is that elections don't mean a damn thing in this context. Even if you believe that electing Obama is critical, the chances that the 2008 election will be stolen, as have the last two, is very real and very likely. The grounds for "explaining" such an outcome, "proving" the pre-elections' polls "wrong" again are already with us: the surreptitious white racist vote and the energized Christian fascist vote. How many times do we have to be slammed in the head with the hard reality that votes are easy to steal before we realize that putting all of your hopes into your vote isn't the way to go? Money donated to the Democrats is wasted money. Supporting Obama (or any other third-party candidate) at this point is not only a waste, it takes away from the desperately needed real work to mobilize millions as an independent political force to fundamentally alter the balance of forces in the society. Funneling people, energy and resources into the electoral arena when yet another stolen election is probable and when the Democrats have repeatedly, blatantly, and criminally colluded with the Bush Regime on all fronts is a crime. You don't fight against fascists by supporting the enablers of fascists.
Our energies need to go - on the level of everyday life - into mobilizing the independent actions of the people. This is what the spreading of orange ribbons and other forms of orange in everyday life means: the public declaration that we stand against torture and against imperialist wars and that we call for others to also publicly declare themselves until millions are doing this.
Some might say, what will having a lot of orange do? The gendarmes will just round up the orange people. What this view fails to understand is that politics is determined by a combination of what is in people's heads and the use of coercion. Coercion only works if those who are using the force aren't losing the battle for public opinion. If enough people - who DO represent the large majority - are acting in open and public ways that manifest the PEOPLE's sentiments and that DO reflect truth and justice, then clampdowns with police state actions will not bury the movement but will expose the fundamentally monstrous nature of those using it and spur on others to step forward and further isolate the relatively small numbers who are the enemies of the people. This is a dynamic that has characterized every revolution.
Rolling back the fascist assault must and can happen. We don't have a great deal of time. Forcing war criminal John Yoo out of his UC Berkeley Law Professorship is an important battle. It will be an important victory and open the door to turning the tide against the war criminals who run this country now. Shutting down military recruiters preying on our youth is another important battlefront in this fight to change the future that we see unfolding in real time before us. Support and defend the RNC-8. Donate your money and your time to an organization that has consistently fought for the necessity to rely upon and mobilize the people - the World Can't Wait.
Finally, I agree with Wolf's sense of urgency here. But it is crucial to understand that mobilization can occur under varying conditions and we are not doomed if we do not mobilize sufficient numbers in a certain time frame. If the coup conspirators aren't arrested within three months or so, in other words, they don't necessarily win. The sooner we mobilize the forces necessary, the better, and we don't have anytime to waste because Wolf is right about fascism in the making. But even after fascism is officially and openly in power, should this come to pass, this doesn't mean that the rebellion is doomed. We need to be on the one hand alarmed at what's going on, but we also have to guard against getting freaked out and then becoming paralyzed into inaction.