Progressive Calendar 08.10.09
From: David Shove (shove001tc.umn.edu)
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 2009 06:16:48 -0700 (PDT)
            P R O G R E S S I V E   C A L E N D A R   08.10.09

1. Rosemary/press   8.10 8am
2. Peace walk       8.10 6pm RiverFalls WI
3. Organic farm     8.10 6pm
4. Crash-proof life 8.10 6:30pm

5. NWN4P vigil      8.11 4:45pm
6. Free spaghetti   8.11 6pm
7. RNC court watch  8.11 6pm
8. Open discussion  8.11 6:30pm
9. Health/potluck   8.11 6:30pm
10. Amnesty Intl    8.11 7pm

11. Settgast/Frost - Want more choice? Pick single-payer
12. David Sirota   - The me-first, forget-everyone-else crowd
13. Sara Robinson  - Is the US on the brink of fascism?

--------1 of 13--------

From: Women Against Military Madness <wamm [at] mtn.org>
Subject: Rosemary/press 8.10 8am

SUPPORTERS needed!!
8:00 A.M. Press Conference at home of Rosemary Williams
Monday  August 10th
3138 Clinton Ave S
Minnapolis MN

On Monday morning it is very important for all who can, to come to
Rosemary's home and show support.  With the weekend over, the danger of a
police raid is very high on Monday.  Please come and join the press
conference, if you cannot be there at 8am it is important to come as soon
as you can during the day.  It will be extremely to have supporters
present if the police move in.

Join in the struggle to keep Rosemary Williams in her home!

Press conference organized by MN Coalition for a People's Bailout and the
Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign.


--------2 of 13--------

From: Nancy Holden <d.n.holden [at] comcast.net>
Subject: Peace walk 8.10 6pm RiverFalls WI

River Falls Peace and Justice Walkers. We meet every Monday from 6-7 pm on
the UWRF campus at Cascade Ave. and 2nd Street, immediately across from
"Journey" House. We walk through the downtown of River Falls. Contact:
d.n.holden [at] comcast.net. Douglas H Holden 1004 Morgan Road River Falls,
Wisconsin 54022


--------3 of 13--------

From: Erin Parrish <erin [at] mnwomen.org>
Subject: Organic farm 8.10 6pm

August 10: Women's Environmental Institute Organic Farm School. "Wild
Rice and Biological Patents" with Winona LaDuke of the White Earth Land
Recovery Project. 6 - 8 PM at Midtown Global Market in the Greenway
Conference Room. Register.


--------4 of 13--------

From: Brian Kaller <briankaller [at] yahoo.com>
Subject: Crash-proof life 8.10 6:30pm

Organizer promotes crash-proof life

MN writer returns from rural Ireland to discuss peak oil, economy

Journalist, organizer and former Minnesota resident Brian Kaller will
speak at two venues in the Twin Cities in August on how to live well in a
worsening economy and less energy. Kaller will promote crash-proof living
at 6:30 pm Monday, August 10 at the Walker Methodist Church at 3104 16th
Ave. S., Minneapolis.

A second talk will be held at 6:15 pm Wedesday, August 12 at the John B.
Davis Lecture Hall in the Campus Center at Macalester College in St. Paul.
Both talks are free and open to the public, and will be followed by a
question-and-answer period.

For many years Kaller has written about "peak oil," the point when global
energy resources begin to decline, as well as related issues like climate
change and the global economy.

Several years ago Kaller and his family moved to rural Ireland, where they
grow much of their own food. Their adventures in simple living can be seen
at Kaller's web site, www.restoringmayberry.blogspot.com
<http://www.restoringmayberry.blogspot.com/> .

Since moving to Ireland four years ago, Kaller has worked with a local
group, FADA, to prepare Irish villages for the future. FADA members have
held courses in gardening, cooking, home heating, clean energy,
insulation, economics, and peak oil. They have also created a community
garden to allow County Kildare residents to grow their own food, and a
food buying club to allow residents to buy local food cheaply. Their
project in County Kildare is related to the Transition Town in Kinsale,
County Cork, which began around the same time and inspired the Transition
Town network.

Kaller has spoken to numerous churches and schools in the U.S. and Europe,
has participated in several international conferences on peak oil, and in
2006 helped create a seminar on the subject. For three years he has
written a weekly newspaper column on self-sufficiency and preparedness for
the Irish newspaper The Nationalist. His writings have also appeared in
The American Conservative, Permaculture and Energy Bulletin.


--------5 of 13--------

From: Carole Rydberg <carydberg [at] comcast.net>
Subject: NWN4P vigil 8.11 4:45pm

NWN4P vigil every Tuesday.
Corner of Winnetka and 42nd Avenues in New Hope. 4:45 to 5:45 PM.
All welcome; bring your own or use our signs.


--------6 of 13--------

From: Lydia Howell <lydiahowell [at] visi.com>
Subject: Free spaghetti 8.11 6pm

Monthly free meal with the RNC 8
Vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options available!
TUE. AUG.11 @ 6pm at Walker Church
3104 16th Ave S. Minneapolis

Defend the RNC 8! www.RNC8.org
Free, but donations are gladly accepted.
please forward!


--------7 of 13--------

From: Do'ii <syncopatingrhythmsabyss [at] gmail.com>
Subject: RNC court watch 8.11 6pm

RNC Court Watchers are in need of participants to help with organizing
court information, documentation and etc.  RNC Court Watchers Meetings are
every Tuesday, 6 P.M. at Caffeto's. Below is announcement for our
meetings.

Preemptive raids, over 800 people arrested, police brutality on the
streets and torture in Ramsey County Jail. Police have indiscriminately
used rubber bullets, concussion grenades, tasers and chemical irritants to
disperse crowds and incapacitate peaceful, nonviolent protesters. The
RNC-8 and others are facing felonies and years in jail. We must fight this
intimidation, harassment and abuse!

Join the RNC Court Solidarity Meeting this coming Tuesday at Caffetto's to
find out how you can make a difference in the lives of many innocent
people.

Caffetto's Coffeehouse and Gallery (612)872-0911 708 W 22nd Street,
Minneapolis, MN 55405
Every Tuesday @ 6:00 P.M to 7:00 P.M
participate and help organize RNC court solidarity.
For more information, please contact: rnccourtwatch [at] gmail.com
THE PEOPLE UNITED WILL NEVER BE DEFEATED!

--------8 of 13--------

From: patty <pattypax [at] earthlink.net>
Subject: Open discussion 8.11 6:30pm

This Tuesday, Aug. 11, will be open discussion.  Perhaps the discussion
can center around what our guests talked about last week, How we can have
100% renewal energy in Minnesota.  Or , what else is on your minds? patty

Pax Salons ( http://justcomm.org/pax-salon )
are held (unless otherwise noted in advance):
Tuesdays, 6:30 to 8:30 pm.
Mad Hatter's Tea House,
943 W 7th, St Paul, MN

Salons are free but donations encouraged for program and treats.
Call 651-227-3228 or 651-227-2511 for information.


--------9 of 13--------

From: joel albers <joel [at] uhcan-mn.org>
Subject: Health/potluck 8.11 6:30pm

Next mtg to finalize ACTIONS during this crucil time for single payer.

Tues, August 11, at joels house, 6:30PM cookout, 7:30PM, mtg to finalize
actions. (3500 35th ave s, longfellow,Mpls, 55406, take Lake to 35th ave,
or Hiawatha to 35th Street etc). Bring stuff for the grill.

Feel free to welcome more groups on board to organize/participat e in
these.


--------10 of 13--------

From: Gabe Ormsby <gabeo [at] bitstream.net>
Subject: Amnesty Intl 8.11 7pm

JOIN US FOR OUR MINNEAPOLIS AMNESTY MEETUP: TUESDAY, AUGUST 11 - 7 P.M.

Join other Amnesty members and friends for a casual, agenda-free social
meetup on the second Tuesday of each month. Free flowing conversation
about our shared interests. Common Roots Cafe, 2558 Lyndale Ave S.,
Minneapolis MN 55405. Beer, wine, coffee, and food available. If the
weather cooperates, we'll be outside on the deck. Look for an Amnesty logo
or ask for Gabe.

For a map, directions, and more info on Common Roots Cafe, visit their web
site: http://www.commonrootscafe.com/


--------11 of 13--------

Letter to the Editor:
Want more choice? Pick single-payer
by Ann Settgast and Elizabeth Frost

"The health care reform debate is reaching a feverish pitch. As
physicians, we are troubled by the direction the debate has taken.
Whether via a public option or a mandate to purchase insurance, the
proposals on the table aim to cover more, but not all Americans. They
build on the structure of our broken system - one that ranks as the most
costly, fragmented and bureaucratic in the world.

President Barack Obama acknowledged in his national address last week
that a single-payer system, because of automatic enrollment, is the only
way to cover all Americans. We agree, and we encourage him to re-embrace
this solution to the health care crisis. Single-payer is the only option
that will actually work.

Mainstream media coverage of the health care debate is confusing.
Conventional wisdom leads us to believe there are only two culprits
responsible for skyrocketing costs - doctors and patients. Doctors order
too many unnecessary tests, while patients demand too much care. As
doctors, we acknowledge that overtreatment of patients guided by improper
incentives occurs, and must be addressed.

There are also patients who overuse care. However, this problem is
minuscule compared to well-documented underuse. In its most extreme form,
this underuse leads to death for more than 18,000 Americans annually as
revealed in a sobering 2002 Institute of Medicine report. Blaming doctors
and blaming patients ignores the giant health care elephant in the room:
private insurance. Of every health care dollar spent in the United States,
31 cents is spent on administration (more than double that of other
industrialized nations). This enormous waste comes from our unique
multi-payer financing structure based on private health insurance.

So we are wary of proposals that seek to simply expand private insurance.
Such expansion may decrease our embarrassing numbers of uninsured, but it
will not help the insecurely insured - a group to which we all belong,
even those of us who "like what we have."

Private insurance has been likened to an umbrella that melts in the rain.
Consider the study released last month in the American Journal of Medicine
revealing that 62 percent of all personal bankruptcies are related to
medical bills. More astonishing is that 77 percent of Americans who go
bankrupt due to medical bills had insurance when they became ill.

Because it is a business, private insurance has, at its core, the bottom
line. In his recent testimony before a U.S. Senate committee, Wendell
Potter, former head of communications at Cigna, reported, "Members of
Congress and the public have good reason to question the honesty and
trustworthiness of the insurance industry. Insurers make promises they
have no intention of keeping." The only way to succeed in the insurance
business is to selectively recruit healthy patients or to deny coverage to
patients when they become sick. As professionals who strive to make sick
people well, we find this model for our system illogical and fatally
flawed.

Elimination of U.S.-style private insurance has been a prerequisite to
achieving universal health care in every other industrialized nation. One
must ask, "What if the rest of the world is right?" Only under
single-payer can we eliminate the administrative waste spent on billing
hundreds of payers and the sizeable overhead of the private insurance
industry.

These overhead dollars are spent marketing, underwriting, lobbying and
fighting claims - none of which makes our patients healthier. Elimination
of this administrative waste would save more than $400 billion annually,
enough to cover the uninsured and improve coverage for the remainder.
There is enough money in the system. We do not need more money - we need a
new system. As physicians, we are obligated to use evidence-based medicine
in our decision-making. The reform debate must be held to the same
standard. Ample evidence, including studies by the Congressional Budget
Office and the Government Accountability Office, have concluded
single-payer can assure universal coverage while saving money.

For those who suggest we would lose choice under single-payer, we ask,
choice of what? Choice of insurance plan - yes. Choice of doctor and
hospital - no. A high-quality system is not one in which our patients
choose their insurance plan, but one in which they choose their doctor.
Single-payer is the only reform option that actually expands choice.
Bringing private insurance or a public option to more Americans retains
limited provider networks and restricted choice.  For those who say
single-payer is socialized medicine and worry that government bureaucrats
will suddenly begin making health care decisions, one only needs to
remember that single-payer is publicly financed but privately delivered.
Medical decisions should be made by patients and doctors alone. Medicare
is an example of a single-payer system. For those who say competition
among insurers is needed to keep costs down, we say the experiment must
end. It has been tried, and it has failed. While it is trendy to refer to
patients as consumers who need to exercise more personal responsibility,
we believe health care is a public good, not a commodity that can be
bought and sold like a flat-screen TV.

For those who ask whether something is better than nothing (i.e.,
implementation of a public option), we again look at the evidence.
Multiple states have tried to patch their systems with piecemeal reforms
over the past two decades. None has produced universal coverage while
controlling costs. Given the magnitude of these difficult economic times,
including a $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009 and rising unemployment, it is
high time to reconsider the most fiscally conservative and financially
sustainable option for reform."

Ann Settgast and Elizabeth Frost are primary-care physicians practicing in
the Twin Cities. Gillian Schivone, a third-year medical student at the
University of Minnesota, also contributed to this column. They serve on
the steering committee of the Minnesota chapter of Physicians for a
National Health Program (www.pnhp.org). Write to them by e-mail at
pnhpminnesota [at] gmail.com.


--------12 of 13--------

The Me-First, Forget-Everyone-Else Crowd
David Sirota
Summit Daily
Friday 07 August 2009

I know I should be mortified by the lobbyist-organized mobs of angry
Brooks Brothers mannequins who are now making headlines by shutting down
congressional town hall meetings. I know I should be despondent during
this, the Khaki Pants Offensive in the Great American Health Care and Tax
War. And yet, I'm euphorically repeating one word over and over again with
a big grin on my face.

Finally.

Finally, there's no pretense. Finally, the Me-First, Forget-Everyone-Else
Crowd's ugliest traits are there for all to behold.

The group's core gripe is summarized in a letter I received that denounces
a proposed surtax on the wealthy and corporations to pay for universal
health care:

"Until recently, my family was in the top 3 percent of wage earners,"
the affluent businessperson fumed in response to my July column on taxes.
"We are in the group that pays close to 60 percent of this nation's taxes
... Think for a second how you would feel if you built a business and
contributed more than your share to this country only to be treated like a
pariah."

This sob story about the persecuted rich fuels today's "Tea Parties" .
and I'm sure you've heard some version of it in your community.

I'm also fairly certain that when many of you run into the Me-First,
Forget-Everyone-Else Crowd, you don't feel like confronting the faux
outrage. But on the off chance you do muster the masochistic impulse to
engage, here's a guide to navigating the conversation:

What They Will Scream: We can't raise business taxes, because American
businesses already pay excessively high taxes!

What You Should Say: Here's the smallest violin in the world playing for
the businesses. The Government Accountability Office reports that most
U.S. corporations pay zero federal income tax. Additionally, as even the
Bush Treasury Department admitted, America's effective corporate tax rate
is the third lowest in the industrialized world.

What They Will Scream: But the rich still "pay close to 60 percent of
this nation's taxes!"

What You Should Say: Such statistics refer only to the federal income tax.
When considering all of "this nation's taxes" including payroll, state and
local levies, the top 5 percent pay just 38.5 percent of the taxes.

What They Will Scream: But 38.5 percent is disproportionately high!  See?
You've proved that the rich "contribute more than their share" of taxes!

What You Should Say: Actually, they are paying almost exactly "their
share." According to the data, the wealthiest 5 percent of America pays
38.5 percent of the total taxes precisely because they make just about
that share - a whopping 36.5 percent! - of total national income. Asking
these folks to pay slightly more in taxes - and still less than they did
during the go-go 1990s - is hardly extreme.

Stripped of facts, your conversation partner will soon turn to
unscientific terrain, claiming it is immoral to "steal" and "redistribute"
income via taxes. Of course, he will be specifically railing on "stealing"
for stuff like health care, which he insists gets "redistributed" only to
the undeserving and the "lazy" (a classic codeword for "minorities"). But
he will also say it's OK that government sent trillions of dollars to Wall
Streeters.

And that's when you should stop wasting your breath.

What you've discovered is that the Me-First, Forget-Everyone-Else Crowd
isn't interested in fairness, empiricism or morality.

With 22,000 of their fellow countrymen dying annually for lack of health
insurance and with Warren Buffett paying a lower effective tax rate than
his secretary, the Me-First, Forget-Everyone-Else Crowd is merely using
the argot of fairness, empiricism and morality to hide its real motive:
selfish greed.

No argument, however rational, is going to cure these narcissists of that
grotesque disease.

David Sirota is the bestselling author of the books "Hostile Takeover"
(2006) and "The Uprising" (2008).

[I rather favor the Everyone For Dave First movement, presently sweeping
the country. Trust me. -ed]


--------13 of 13--------

Is the US on the Brink of Fascism?
Sara Robinson
The Campaign for America's Future
Friday 07 August 2009

There are dangerous currents running through America's politics and the
way we confront them is crucial.

All through the dark years of the Bush Administration, progressives
watched in horror as Constitutional protections vanished, nativist
rhetoric ratcheted up, hate speech turned into intimidation and violence,
and the president of the United States seized for himself powers only
demanded by history's worst dictators. With each new outrage, the small
handful of us who'd made ourselves experts on right-wing culture and
politics would hear once again from worried readers: Is this it? Have we
finally become a fascist state? Are we there yet?

And every time this question got asked, people like Chip Berlet and Dave
Neiwert and Fred Clarkson and yours truly would look up from our maps like
a parent on a long drive, and smile a wan smile of reassurance.
"Wellll...we're on a bad road, and if we don't change course, we could end
up there soon enough. But there's also still plenty of time and
opportunity to turn back. Watch, but don't worry. As bad as this looks: no
-- we are not there yet."

In tracking the mileage on this trip to perdition, many of us relied on
the work of historian Robert Paxton, who is probably the world's
pre-eminent scholar on the subject of how countries turn fascist. In a
1998 paper published in The Journal of Modern History, Paxton argued that
the best way to recognize emerging fascist movements isn't by their
rhetoric, their politics, or their aesthetics. Rather, he said, mature
democracies turn fascist by a recognizable process, a set of five stages
that may be the most important family resemblance that links all the whole
motley collection of 20th Century fascisms together. According to our
reading of Paxton's stages, we weren't there yet. There were certain signs
-- one in particular -- we were keeping an eye out for, and we just
weren't seeing it.

And now we are. In fact, if you know what you're looking for, it's
suddenly everywhere. It's odd that I haven't been asked for quite a while;
but if you asked me today, I'd tell you that if we're not there right now,
we've certainly taken that last turn into the parking lot and are now
looking for a space. Either way, our fascist American future now looms
very large in the front windshield -- and those of us who value American
democracy need to understand how we got here, what's changing now, and
what's at stake in the very near future if these people are allowed to win
-- or even hold their ground.

                         What Is Fascism?

The word has been bandied about by so many people so wrongly for so long
that, as Paxton points out, "Everybody is somebody else's fascist."
Given that, I always like to start these conversations by revisiting
Paxton's essential definition of the term:

"Fascism is a system of political authority and social order intended to
reinforce the unity, energy, and purity of communities in which liberal
democracy stands accused of producing division and decline."

Elsewhere, he refines this further as:

"a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with
community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of
unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed
nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with
traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with
redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of
internal cleansing and external expansion."

Jonah Goldberg aside, that's a basic definition most legitimate scholars
in the field can agree on, and the one I'll be referring to here.

                From Proto-Fascism to the Tipping Point

According to Paxton, fascism unfolds in five stages. The first two are
pretty solidly behind us -- and the third should be of particular interest
to progressives right now.

In the first stage, a rural movement emerges to effect some kind of
nationalist renewal (what Roger Griffin calls "palingenesis" -- a
phoenix-like rebirth from the ashes). They come together to restore a
broken social order, always drawing on themes of unity, order, and purity.
Reason is rejected in favor of passionate emotion. The way the organizing
story is told varies from country to country; but it's always rooted in
the promise of restoring lost national pride by resurrecting the culture's
traditional myths and values, and purging society of the toxic influence
of the outsiders and intellectuals who are blamed for their current
misery.

Fascism only grows in the disturbed soil of a mature democracy in crisis.
Paxton suggests that the Ku Klux Klan, which formed in reaction to
post-Civil War Reconstruction, may in fact be the first authentically
fascist movement in modern times. Almost every major country in Europe
sprouted a proto-fascist movement in the wretched years following WWI
(when the Klan enjoyed a major resurgence here as well) -- but most of
them stalled either at this first stage, or the next one.

As Rick Perlstein documented in his two books on Barry Goldwater and
Richard Nixon, modern American conservatism was built on these same
themes. From "Morning in America" to the Rapture-ready religious right to
the white nationalism promoted by the GOP through various gradients of
racist groups, it's easy to trace how American proto-fascism offered
redemption from the upheavals of the 1960s by promising to restore the
innocence of a traditional, white, Christian, male-dominated America. This
vision has been so thoroughly embraced that the entire Republican party
now openly defines itself along these lines. At this late stage, it's
blatantly racist, sexist, repressed, exclusionary, and permanently
addicted to the politics of fear and rage. Worse: it doesn't have a
moment's shame about any of it. No apologies, to anyone. These same
narrative threads have woven their way through every fascist movement in
history.

In the second stage, fascist movements take root, turn into real political
parties, and seize their seat at the table of power.  Interestingly, in
every case Paxton cites, the political base came from the rural,
less-educated parts of the country; and almost all of them came to power
very specifically by offering themselves as informal goon squads organized
to intimidate farmworkers on behalf of the large landowners. The KKK
disenfranchised black sharecroppers and set itself up as the enforcement
wing of Jim Crow. The Italian Squadristi and the German Brownshirts made
their bones breaking up farmers' strikes. And these days, GOP-sanctioned
anti-immigrant groups make life hell for Hispanic agricultural workers in
the US. As violence against random Hispanics (citizens and otherwise)
increases, the right-wing goon squads are getting basic training that, if
the pattern holds, they may eventually use to intimidate the rest of us.

Paxton wrote that succeeding at the second stage "depends on certain
relatively precise conditions: the weakness of a liberal state, whose
inadequacies condemn the nation to disorder, decline, or humiliation; and
political deadlock because the Right, the heir to power but unable to
continue to wield it alone, refuses to accept a growing Left as a
legitimate governing partner." He further noted that Hitler and Mussolini
both took power under these same circumstances: "deadlock of
constitutional government (produced in part by the polarization that the
fascists abetted); conservative leaders who felt threatened by the loss of
their capacity to keep the population under control at a moment of massive
popular mobilization; an advancing Left; and conservative leaders who
refused to work with that Left and who felt unable to continue to govern
against the Left without further reinforcement."

And more ominously: "The most important variables...are the conservative
elites' willingness to work with the fascists (along with a reciprocal
flexibility on the part of the fascist leaders) and the depth of the
crisis that induces them to cooperate."

That description sounds eerily like the dire straits our Congressional
Republicans find themselves in right now. Though the GOP has been
humiliated, rejected, and reduced to rump status by a series of epic
national catastrophes mostly of its own making, its leadership can't even
imagine governing cooperatively with the newly mobilized and ascendant
Democrats. Lacking legitimate routes back to power, their last hope is to
invest the hardcore remainder of their base with an undeserved legitimacy,
recruit them as shock troops, and overthrow American democracy by force.
If they can't win elections or policy fights, they're more than willing to
take it to the streets, and seize power by bullying Americans into silence
and complicity.

When that unholy alliance is made, the third stage -- the transition to
full-fledged government fascism -- begins.

                    The Third Stage: Being There

All through the Bush years, progressive right-wing watchers refused to
call it "fascism" because, though we kept looking, we never saw clear
signs of a deliberate, committed institutional partnership forming between
America's conservative elites and its emerging homegrown brownshirt horde.
We caught tantalizing signs of brief flirtations -- passing political
alliances, money passing hands, far-right moonbat talking points flying
out of the mouths of "mainstream" conservative leaders. But it was all
circumstantial, and fairly transitory. The two sides kept a discreet
distance from each other, at least in public. What went on behind closed
doors, we could only guess. They certainly didn't act like a married
couple.

Now, the guessing game is over. We know beyond doubt that the Teabag
movement was created out of whole cloth by astroturf groups like Dick
Armey's FreedomWorks and Tim Phillips' Americans for Prosperity, with
massive media help from FOX News. We see the Birther fracas -- the kind of
urban myth-making that should have never made it out of the pages of the
National Enquirer -- being openly ratified by Congressional Republicans.
We've seen Armey's own professionally-produced field manual that carefully
instructs conservative goon squads in the fine art of disrupting the
democratic governing process -- and the film of public officials being
terrorized and threatened to the point where some of them required armed
escorts to leave the building. We've seen Republican House Minority Leader
John Boehner applauding and promoting a video of the disruptions and
looking forward to "a long, hot August for Democrats in Congress."

This is the sign we were waiting for -- the one that tells us that yes,
kids: we are there now. America's conservative elites have openly thrown
in with the country's legions of discontented far right thugs. They have
explicitly deputized them and empowered them to act as their enforcement
arm on America's streets, sanctioning the physical harassment and
intimidation of workers, liberals, and public officials who won't do their
political or economic bidding.

This is the catalyzing moment at which honest-to-Hitler fascism begins.
It's also our very last chance to stop it.

                         The Fail-Safe Point

According to Paxton, the forging of this third-stage alliance is the
make-or-break moment -- and the worst part of it is that by the time
you've arrived at that point, it's probably too late to stop it. From
here, it escalates, as minor thuggery turns into beatings, killings, and
systematic tagging of certain groups for elimination, all directed by
people at the very top of the power structure. After Labor Day, when
Democratic senators and representatives go back to Washington, the mobs
now being created to harass them will remain to run the same tactics --
escalated and perfected with each new use -- against anyone in town whose
color, religion, or politics they don't like. In some places, they're
already making notes and taking names.

Where's the danger line? Paxton offers three quick questions that point us
straight at it:

1.Are [neo- or protofascisms] becoming rooted as parties that represent
major interests and feelings and wield major influence on the political
scene?

2.Is the economic or constitutional system in a state of blockage
apparently insoluble by existing authorities?

3.Is a rapid political mobilization threatening to escape the control of
traditional elites, to the point where they would be tempted to look for
tough helpers in order to stay in charge?

By my reckoning, we're three for three. That's too close. Way too close.

                           The Road Ahead

History tells us that once this alliance catalyzes and makes a successful
bid for power, there's no way off this ride. As Dave Neiwert wrote in his
recent book, The Eliminationists, "if we can only identify fascism in its
mature form - the goose-stepping brownshirts, the full-fledged use of
violence and intimidation tactics, the mass rallies - then it will be far
too late to stop it." Paxton (who presciently warned that "An authentic
popular fascism in the United States would be pious and anti-Black")
agrees that if a corporate/brownshirt alliance gets a toehold -- as ours
is now scrambling to do -- it can very quickly rise to power and destroy
the last vestiges of democratic government. Once they start racking up
wins, the country will be doomed to take the whole ugly trip through the
last two stages, with no turnoffs or pit stops between now and the end.

What awaits us? In stage four, as the duo assumes full control of the
country, power struggles emerge between the brownshirt-bred party faithful
and the institutions of the conservative elites -- church, military,
professions, and business. The character of the regime is determined by
who gets the upper hand. If the party members (who gained power through
street thuggery) win, an authoritarian police state may well follow. If
the conservatives can get them back under control, a more traditional
theocracy, corporatocracy, or military regime can re-emerge over time. But
in neither case will the results resemble the democracy that this alliance
overthrew.

Paxton characterizes stage five as "radicalization or entropy."
Radicalization is likely if the new regime scores a big military victory,
which consolidates its power and whets its appetite for expansion and
large-scale social engineering. (See: Germany) In the absence of a
radicalizing event, entropy may set in, as the state gets lost in its own
purposes and degenerates into incoherence. (See: Italy)

It's so easy right now to look at the melee on the right and discount it
as pure political theater of the most absurdly ridiculous kind. It's a
freaking puppet show. These people can't be serious. Sure, they're angry
-- but they're also a minority, out of power and reduced to throwing
tantrums. Grown-ups need to worry about them about as much as you'd worry
about a furious five-year-old threatening to hold her breath until she
turned blue.

Unfortunately, all the noise and bluster actually obscures the danger.
These people are as serious as a lynch mob, and have already taken the
first steps toward becoming one. And they're going to walk taller and
louder and prouder now that their bumbling efforts at civil disobedience
are being committed with the full sanction and support of the country's
most powerful people, who are cynically using them in a last-ditch effort
to save their own places of profit and prestige.

We've arrived. We are now parked on the exact spot where our best experts
tell us full-blown fascism is born. Every day that the conservatives in
Congress, the right-wing talking heads, and their noisy minions are
allowed to hold up our ability to govern the country is another day we're
slowly creeping across the final line beyond which, history tells us, no
country has ever been able to return.

How do we pull back? That's my next post.

    --------

Sara Robinson is a Fellow at the Campaign for America's Future, and a
consulting partner with the Cognitive Policy Works in Seattle. One of the
few trained social futurists in North America, she has blogged on
authoritarian and extremist movements at Orcinus since 2006, and is a
founding member of Group News Blog.


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