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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 10/30/10

Yes, Of Course They're Brownshirts. What The Hell Did You Expect?

Message David Michael Green
You know, I hate like hell using the tired old Nazi analogy.
For one thing, everybody does it, and everybody does it all the time. It hasn't exactly earned an A for originality in about a half century now.
For another thing, not only does everybody do it, but now complete idiots who couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel are doing it too, and of course they're too dumb to even use the term properly. You can't foam at the mouth about what a freaking socialist Barack Obama is and then call him a Nazi at the same time. Unless, of course, you happen not to mind looking like a moron. Which, of course, all too many Americans don't anymore. But here's a hint to all y'all in the ganglion-cyst-where-there's-supposed-to-be-an-actual-brain crowd: Nazis hate socialists. Indeed, they murder them, along with Jews and Gypsies and homosexuals. Get it?
And then there's a third reason to avoid the Nazi analogy, namely that because everyone else is doing it, the term has now been diluted to the point of lacking all impact or meaning anymore. If everyone's a Nazi, no one is.
All good reasons not to use the term.
But, that said, there are also three good reasons to do just that.
One is that people sometimes do act like Nazis. In fact, a lot of them. Especially lately.
The second is that if you wait too long to point that out, it won't much matter anymore.
And the third is that if you wait too long to point that out, you won't be able to anyhow. Indeed, you probably won't even be. Period.
And so, with appropriate reluctance, I feel compelled to note that the wheels are coming of the wagon in America right now, and it does indeed smell all too much like a Germany-in-the-1930s kinda moment.
American politics have been driven to a fever pitch, even though no one is talking about the real problems the country faces. The radical right has induced those problems with their kleptocratic policies. They have then demonized as un-American anyone who would dare offer even the most tepid (non-)solutions to those problems. They have captured control of the legislative and executive branches of government by means of purchasing politicians wholesale. Those politicians have, in turn, appointed justices to the federal bench, such that the regressives own that institution, as well. The Supreme Court has recently handed down decisions that set aflame even the tattered legal shreds once remaining between corporate money and government power. They are doing the same at the state level. The Court even ruled that judges receiving campaign contributions from litigants appearing before their bench did not need to recuse themselves from the case. In America today it's bought legislation, bought (non-)regulation, bought (non-)justice.
Now the latest trend from our good friends on the right is to go after the 17th Amendment, that heinous bit of federal tyranny that forces the public to choose their own senators through the ballot box, rather than having (bought) state legislatures do it.
Meanwhile, the plutocratic string-pullers have marshaled massive sums of money for purposes of organizing angry white seniors into an army of Know Nothings, about to send as scary a crop of folks to Washington as have been found since... Well, you know when.
Like Joe Miller in Alaska, for instance, who wants to kill the minimum wage, and who rails against the oppressive tyranny of federal socialism, even though he and his family have taken every kind of subsidy and payment Washington has to offer. Perhaps that's part of why he started refusing to take questions about his personal background last week. Although that probably also had something to do with him not wanting to discuss the fact that he had used public office in the past to help steal elections.
Or there's Rand Paul in Kentucky, who doesn't seem to mind the prospect of hotels and restaurants posting "Whites Only" signs in their windows, and would thus be okay with repealing the Civil Rights Act.
Or maybe you prefer Wisconsin Senate candidate Ron Johnson who once testified against strengthening pedophilia laws because of the potential costs to business.
Then there's Ken Buck (and four other GOP Senate candidates), who want to make abortion illegal, even in cases of rape or incest. Buck also wants to make birth control and fertility treatment illegal.
Or Jim DeMint, already in the Senate from South Carolina, who argues that unmarried sexually active women should not be allowed to teach in public schools.
Or the guy in Michigan, a sitting Congressman, who is already calling for the impeachment of Barack Obama.
Or the California candidate who wants to eliminate all public schools. Woo-hoo! No more homework!
Or Sharon Angle, who has suggested that we solve our health care crisis by just returning to the good old days of the barter system, so that patients could presumably then bring in a chicken and exchange it for an angiogram. She has also called for "Second Amendment solutions" "to protect people against a tyrannical government". In case you're somehow unsure, what that means is that if Barack Obama and Harry Reid cannot be removed from office by the ballot box, she thinks someone should pick up a gun and shoot them for the despotic crime of creating a national health care system.
Then there's Rich Iott, a congressional candidate who likes to dress up with his kids as Nazi SS officers. (Or is he actually a Nazi SS officer who sometimes dresses up as a normal person? Hard to tell with this lot, I'm afraid.)
But surely the best is Republican Senate nominee Christine O'Donnell of Delaware, who once "dabbled in witchcraft", does not appear to have had any profession in decades other than running for office, told no less than three major lies about three different educational institutions she claims to have attended, and said that "evolution is a myth" because she doesn't see monkeys evolving right before her eyes. She does have one redeeming virtue, though. She has been a long-time advocate against masturbation, which I think we can all agree is an American epidemic today, threatening our nation to its core. (You know who you are, people.)
As hysterical as this gang would be if it weren't for the fact that they're about to become the government of the world's only superpower, it's actually not funny at all.
Because even this insanity is not enough for them. This week the stompings began in earnest.
Miller had a reporter handcuffed and "arrested" by his private security goon squad at a public rally for the crime of asking questions about the candidate's secret election-stealing past.
Meanwhile, a young female MoveOn activist at a Rand Paul rally, who was doing nothing other than carrying a sign and trying to speak to the candidate, was thrown to the ground and had her head stomped by one of his staff. This pot-bellied oaf, who seemed in the video to get off on kicking women around later actually demanded that she apologize to him. For what, I'm not sure. Getting blood on the sole of his shoes perhaps?
And just last week, the courts dismissed the appeal of several individuals who had been on the way to a public George Bush event several years ago, without intent to speak, but never got there. They were arrested as soon as they got out of their car because it had the wrong bumper sticker on it. Somehow, the Republican appointees to the appeals court could find no constitutional provision which the police's behavior might have violated. Presumably, their copy of the Bill of Rights begins (and likely ends too) with the Second Amendment. And a distorted version of that amendment, to boot.
Like decent Germans of the 1930s let alone progressive ones no doubt did, I have spent the better part of the last decade repeatedly wondering where the bottom of the barrel of stupidity, laziness, greed and criminality can be found amongst the tribe called the the American public. Each time I think, "This is it it can't possibly get worse", I am rudely reminded again of my foolishness. It's a legitimate question to ask why I continue to be so naive, but there's actually a very good answer. It's not naivete at all. It's just that I grew up in the foreign country known as mid-twentieth century America. For all its faults and it had plenty it was never like this. It's therefore not naive to think it could be that way again.
And it wasn't naive to think, two years ago, that perhaps we were headed back toward some form of basic decency, definitely a repudiation of the evils of regressivism, and maybe even a new progressive era.
Now we have instead the worst imaginable scenario. We have a society in which near-dead regressivism has been revived, only in a more virulent form. And we have a society in which progressivism, which never even remotely took the stage, has been reviled for its supposed failings.
Each election cycle just brings uglier politics and greater transgressions, rapidly approaching the fail-safe point, beyond which any democracy is unsustainable. Now comes the tea party movement, the nastiest thing to happen to America since... well, the Bush administration.
This is the crossroads. This is the moment of truth, folks. This is the test. The destructive dogs of regressivism are baying outside our door. Many of them are inside already. They will not rest until they have looted the public of every last shekel to be had, and until they have ground into submission every last avenue for the little guy to seek even a modicum of justice.
To do that, it will also be required that all pretense of democracy and civil liberty will have to be destroyed as well. It may additionally be required that wars will have to be launched, in order to simultaneously divert public attention, crush domestic opposition, steal from the weak, and stimulate the moribund economy that the kleptocracy's policies have already created.
The right hasn't got the slightest plan for solving the country's problems. That's because they haven't got the slightest interest in doing so. That is not their function, and has not remotely been their function for thirty years now. They are here to rape the maiden called America and steal from her everything of value. Once they have done so, they will leave her body in the gutter, damaged, defiled and degraded. Erik Prince has shown the path for others to follow. His mercenary company, Blackwater Worldwide, which has grown unbelievably rich helping the Bush and Obama administrations fight two wars while avoiding a draft, is for sale and its former top managers are facing criminal charges. The appropriately-named Prince himself has left the United States and moved to Abu Dhabi. Noted a friend of his, "He needs a break from America". Yeah. Just like a chronic thief needs a break from courtrooms.
But governing in the absence of actual solutions to satisfy an angry electorate will fast prove problematic for the GOP, just as it did for them in 2008. This will be the most dangerous moment for the country, the historical linchpin juncture. The public will still be clamoring for solutions, and will be ready once again to turn out the Republicans for lacking same, just as it did two years ago, and just as it's doing now to the pathetic Democrats. This cannot be tolerated by the oligarchs, of course, and a decision will have to be made whether they are bold enough to double down and burn the Reichstag, eliminating the pesky albatross of elections once and for all. Bold enough? The folks who brought you Election 2000? The Iraq War? Legalized looting by Wall Street? A filibuster-crazed Senate?
This scenario is all possible, of course, because of the complete and utter failure in every sense of the word of the Democrats these last two years. That assessment assumes, though, that Democrats were somehow more sincere about wanting to serve the public than are Republicans. With a few rare exceptions, I don't harbor that illusion about any of them. However, I will confess that I expected them to at least seek to protect themselves and therefore do enough to get reelected. Not only have they not, they have succeeded in achieving what seemed like a miraculously improbable possibility only just a year or two ago. They have revived an opposition party that was utterly loathed and lying on death's door.
Skillful political maneuvering, combined with moderately contemporary communications strategy and even the slightest accidental wisp of intestinal fortitude would have been enough to push that party over the cliff and end its ugly reign for a couple of generations, if not forever. And, yes, that could even have been done without necessarily solving the problem of the recession right away. Just ask Franklin Roosevelt, who won four terms as president without really fixing the Great Depression. Ask FDR, that is, if he hasn't picked up his corpse and moved to Canada by now, out of sheer disgust for his country of birth and, especially, the party his efforts invigorated for half a century.
But instead of Roosevelt, we have this other guy. This Neville Chamberlain dude. I regret to say that I think history will show the crimes of Barack Obama to be of incalculable damage.
Most astonishingly, they persist even still. I've given up expecting the guy to ever grow a pair of balls. But how about just some basic sentient consciousness? You would think that after the last two years, and with the humiliating drubbing he's going to take on Tuesday, that he would at least awake enough to realize what is happening here. But no. This week I saw video clips of Obama, Joe Biden and Harry Reid three walking corpses if ever there were such talking about how hopeful they are that Republicans will grow more cooperative following this election. Say what?!?! Are these guys insane?!?! Are they on drugs?!?!
Even if they couldn't possibly figure it out for themselves, it just so happened that this very same week, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner and Mike Pence were all out there explicitly saying "There will be no compromise by Republicans in the next Congress". But it will be, of course, far worse than that. The right will be hounding Mr. Hapless Happy Face mercilessly for the next two years, investigating every bogus claim they can fabricate, and probably also running another impeachment scam. Which is likely to turn out very differently this time. Back in the 1990s, I used to say that Bill Clinton was very lucky to be impeached at a time when the economy was fat. You might have noticed that it is somewhat less so today...
George W. Bush was indisputably the worst president in American history, but now Obama is remarkably giving him a run for it. Bush poisoned the body politic, but Obama is standing by and watching it die. Obama's crimes are of incalculable historical damage for the same reason that most scholars of the presidency (used to) judge James Buchanan to have been the worst president ever. Both fiddled while the republic burned.
In Obama's case, the indictment is worse, however. First because, like Bush, he is owned by the oligarchy and serves their interests far above anyone else's. Let's please start calling this what it is: This is a case of treason, pure and simple. Second, because, unlike Clinton perhaps, he had every reason to foresee the viciousness of the last two years coming from a thousand miles away, and yet he acted like the Republican Party of Atwater and Rove and Gingrich and Limbaugh and Beck was something that could be reasoned with, something with which to negotiate. And third, because he campaigned on the premise of the audacity of hope, but instead delivered the duplicity of despair. He would be far less culpable had he not raised people's expectations so dramatically. "Yes we can!" Can what? Govern as George W. Bush's third term?
History will be very unkind to Obama, but whatever. He's virtually irrelevant at this point. He's a dead man walking, and has been right from the beginning. It all started going south even before he took office with the appointment to his cabinet of Wall Street bandits from the Robert Rubin cabal, along with other sundry regressives. But I knew it was over when at the moment of his inaugural address he skipped the opportunity to articulate a broad, bold and honest vision of the national trajectory, and treated the record crowds who came to bear the freezing cold weather in order to be a part of history to a standard issue patchwork of platitudes instead.
Mitch McConnell said this week that his primary goal for the coming two years was to turn Barack Obama into a one-term president. Hmm. I would have thought the GOP had higher aspirations, since the Capitulation King has already taken care of that himself. If that wasn't already abundantly clear, the New York Times published some astonishing poll data the other day, documenting the extent of his party's hemorrhaging support under Obama's helm. In 2008, women (women!) voted Democratic by a 13 percent margin, and now they have swung to 4 percent in favor of Republicans. College graduates went from 2 percent Democratic to 20 percent Republican today. Catholics voted 10 percent Democratic in 2008 and are now polling 24 percent Republican. That's a 34 percent swing in less than two years! People with an income under $50,000 voted 22 percent Democratic in 2008 but are now actually polling at 2 percent Republican! Just what magnitude of idiocy does it require to drive the working class and poor into voting Republican during a massive recession? And independents, who went for Democrats in 2008 by an 8 point margin are now going for Republicans by 20 points nearly a 30 percent swing in this key constituency. The repudiation of this failed presidency is now reaching epic proportions.
That's fine with me. Obama amply deserves the lashing and humiliation he's going to receive Tuesday, and then again two years later. The White House is no place for the cowardly. In normal times that would be an embarrassment. In a moment of national crisis, it's a sin. But when the republic itself is being threatened, and when the very ideas of democracy and freedom are in jeopardy, timidity is treason.
And that is precisely where we are now. People are growing desperate. Each time someone comes along and offers them some relief but doesn't deliver, they become yet more willing still to let the most outrageous actors take control of the government. Anyone who promises solutions is acceptable, including people who during normal times would have been considered darkly dangerous, just plain laughable, or both.
I'm sorry. I really don't want to ring that ubiquitous Nazism-threat bell yet again.
But wasn't that precisely how it went down in 1933?
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David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York.  He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles (dmg@regressiveantidote.net), but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. His website is (more...)
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