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Lucky, lucky us. I look forward to seeing the Delaware River aflame.

The danger of American fascism

Written by Henry A. Wallace. An article in the New York Times, April 9, 1944. From Henry A. Wallace, Democracy Reborn (New York, 1944), edited by Russell Lord, p. 259.

Henry Wallace was one of two Republicans FDR appointed to cabinet positions; he served as Secretary of Agriculture, and was selected to run for vice president in 1940. He was an unusually progressive thinker, having started school lunches and food stamps during the Great Depression.

His words still ring true today:

On returning from my trip to the West in February, I received a request from The New York Times to write a piece answering the following questions:

What is a fascist?
How many fascists have we?
How dangerous are they?

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 perfect type of fascist throughout recent centuries has been the Prussian Junker, who developed such hatred for other races and such allegiance to a military clique as to make him willing at all times to engage in any degree of deceit and violence necessary to place his culture and race astride the world. In every big nation of the world are at least a few people who have the fascist temperament. Every Jew-baiter, every Catholic hater, is a fascist at heart. The hoodlums who have been desecrating churches, cathedrals and synagogues in some of our larger cities are ripe material for fascist leadership.

The obvious types of American fascists are dealt with on the air and in the press. These demagogues and stooges are fronts for others. Dangerous as these people may be, they are not so significant as thousands of other people who have never been mentioned. The really dangerous American fascists are not those who are hooked up directly or indirectly with the Axis. The FBI has its finger on those. The dangerous American fascist is the man who wants to do in the United States in an American way what Hitler did in Germany in a Prussian way. 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. Most American fascists are enthusiastically supporting the war effort. They are doing this even in those cases where they hope to have profitable connections with German chemical firms after the war ends. 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. The European brand of fascism will probably present its most serious postwar threat to us via Latin America. The effect of the war has been to raise the cost of living in most Latin American countries much faster than the wages of labor. The fascists in most Latin American countries tell the people that the reason their wages will not buy as much in the way of goods is because of Yankee imperialism. The fascists in Latin America learn to speak and act like natives. Our chemical and other manufacturing concerns are all too often ready to let the Germans have Latin American markets, provided the American companies can work out an arrangement which will enable them to charge high prices to the consumer inside the United States. Following this war, technology will have reached such a point that it will be possible for Germans, using South America as a base, to cause us much more difficulty in World War III than they did in World War II. The military and landowning cliques in many South American countries will find it attractive financially to work with German fascist concerns as well as expedient from the standpoint of temporary power politics.
Fascism is a worldwide disease. Its greatest threat to the United States will come after the war, either via Latin America or within the United States itself.

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. American fascists of this stamp were clandestinely aligned with their German counterparts before the war, and are even now preparing to resume where they left off, after “the present unpleasantness” ceases:
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Matt Damon

No happier with Obama than we are:

This is not the man he voted for.

Matt Damon sat down with Piers Morgan for an interview that will air Thursday night, and among other things, talked about his feelings on the first two years of President Obama’s administration. During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Damon was a vocal Obama supporter, campaigning for the then-candidate at rallies, promoting him through aMoveOn video contest and attending fundraisers for him.

Now, he’s not so enthused about Obama. When asked if he was happy with the way the President is running the country, Damon said, point blank, “no.”

“I really think he misinterpreted his mandate. A friend of mine said to me the other day, I thought it was a great line, ‘I no longer hope for audacity,’” Damon said. “He’s doubled down on a lot of things, going back to education… the idea that we’re testing kids and we’re tying teachers salaries to how kids are performing on tests, that kind of mechanized thinking has nothing to do with higher order. We’re training them, not teaching them.

Virtually Speaking tonight

Jay Ackroyd and Stuart Zechman explore U.S. movement liberalism (as opposed to 3rd Way or centrist liberalism) in both an historical and current context.

Tonight: the Taft-Hartley Labor–Management Relations Act, the roles of labor unions in democratic politics, and the budget negotiations. Listen live. Bookmark the archive

6:00pm pacific | 9:00 pm eastern

Lenore Skenazy – who coined the phrase “Free Range Kids” – is a syndicated columnist, author of Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe Self-Reliant Children Without Going Nuts with Worry, and very funny public speaker.  Tonight she and Jay talk about sensible security: kids and parenting.

Listen at or after  6:00pm pacific | 9:00 pm eastern March 3

One trick Republican ponies

Not that the truth has much to do with anything these days, but E.J. Dionne nails it: It’s a lot easier to keep cutting than it is to come up with real solutions. Of course, the current austerity trend has much more to do with the long-term political interests of the Republican’ts, and not the actual needs of the economy:

If you want to get national attention as a governor these days, don’t try to be innovative about solving the problems you were elected to deal with – in education, transportation and health care. No, if you want ink and television time, just cut and cut and cut some more.

Almost no one in the national media is noticing governors who say the reasonable thing: that state budget deficits, caused largely by drops in revenue in the economic downturn, can’t be solved by cuts or tax increases alone.

There is nothing courageous about an ideological governor hacking away at programs that partisans of his philosophy, including campaign contributors, want eliminated. That’s staying in your comfort zone.

The brave ones are governors such as Jerry Brown in California, Dan Malloy in Connecticut, Pat Quinn in Illinois, Mark Dayton in Minnesota and Neil Abercrombie in Hawaii. They are declaring that you have to cut programs, even when your own side likes them, and raise taxes, which nobody likes much at all. Rhode Island’s Lincoln Chafee has warned of possible tax increases too.

Indeed, to the extent that Quinn received any national press coverage, he got pilloried in conservative outlets in January when he signed tax hikes that included a temporary increase in Illinois’ individual income tax rate from 3 percent to 5 percent.

Despite all the commotion around whether the federal government will shut down, the clamor in the states may be even more important than what’s happening in Washington, which is missing in action on the moment’s most vital fiscal question.

What states are doing to ease their fiscal agonies will only slow down our fragile economic recovery, and may stop it altogether. The last thing we need right now are state and local governments draining jobs and money from the economy, yet that is what they are being forced to do.

As the last three monthly reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed, an economy that created a net 317,000 private-sector jobs lost 70,000 state and local government jobs. Cutbacks are dead weight on the recovery.

The bully boys of Wisconsin

Here’s the thing we all know: Right-wing Republicans don’t usually win if they’re honest about what they want to do. So in order to be successful, they have to lie, coerce, threaten, manipulate and cheat their way to victory. They can’t lead on the basis of their policies, because so few people support them once they know what they are.

So I’m not all that surprised that they’re trying to bully the Wisconsin Democrats out of their paychecks, their staff and their ability to serve. I’d be surprised if this new resolution is even legal:

MADISON – The 14 Wisconsin state Senate Democrats who left the state two weeks ago will now face fines of $100 for each day they miss, if they miss two or more days.

Republicans remaining in the Senate approved the daily fine on Wednesday morning with none of the Democrats present.

The Democrats left Wisconsin in order to delay indefinitely a Republican-backed bill taking away collective bargaining rights from public employees.

The resolution passed on Wednesday also requires the missing Democrats to reimburse the Senate for any costs incurred during attempts to force them to return. Their salary and other per diem payments can be withheld until they pay back the penalties and costs.

Republicans have already withheld the checks of missing Democrats from direct deposit and denied access to copying machines for their staff.

According to TODAY’S TMJ4′s Mick Trevey, there are punishments incorporated into the resolution which would allow for the removal of offices from senators, to downsize their offices, to take away spending capabilities for their offices for photocopies and office supplies, even to changing the way the staffs are run.

The two-day clock would not begin until Thursday, and if senators do not return two days later, the $100 fines and other measures could possibly begin.

I don’t think Democrats will have a problem raising the money, do you?

In the meantime, the Republicans might want to consider, you know, actually negotiating with the Democrats.

It seems kind of crazy to me that we can’t require background checks on everyone who buys a gun. We can require people to jump through hoops to own, insure and operate a vehicle, but we can’t do it with gun owners? That’s nuts. Aren’t we all tired of seeing people gunned down in the streets by someone who shouldn’t have had a gun in the first place?

Jared Lee Loughner, the Tucson shooter, and Virginia Tech shooter Seung Hui-Cho both passed gun background checks because their records were not in the system — even though Loughner had been rejected by the Army for drug use and Cho had been judged mentally ill through the courts.

Millions of records of criminals, drug abusers, mentally ill, and domestic violence offenders are missing from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. In fact, 28 states have submitted fewer than 100 mental health records to NICS.

About 40% of all gun sales are private. How convenient, since private, unlicensed sellers, who often sell at gun shows, aren’t required to do background checks. That’s how the Columbine High shooters got around the system: They bought guns at a gun show from an unlicensed seller: no paperwork, no questions asked.

The tide of public opinion, especially since the Tucson massacre, is turning in the direction of restrictions on gun sales. According to a bi-partisan poll conducted in January 2011 and just released by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group with more than 550 members:

  • 90 percent of Americans and 90 percent of gun owners support fixing gaps in the government databases that are meant to prevent the mentally ill, drug abuser and others from buying guns.
  • 86 percent of Americans and 81 percent of gun owners support requiring all gun buyers to pass a background check, no matter where they buy the gun and no matter who they buy it from.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has introduced the “Fix Gun Background Checks Act”, which would help fix a lot of the problems. It gets the names of prohibited gun buyers into the system by toughening the financial penalties for states that don’t provide the data on felons, drug abusers, the mentally ill and other high-risk categories to NICS. It also clarifies the definitions of “mentally ill” and “drug abuse.”

One much-needed feature is that it establish mental health plans for colleges and universities: Federally funded colleges and universities will be required to report to a state mental health agency when a student is expelled or suspended due to mental health concerns. The state agency will then determine whether the person needs to be reported to NICS.

The bill allows some transfers of guns without background checks, including gifts of guns from one family member to another, loans of guns among people at a hunting or shooting range, and inheritance of guns.

These are all eminently sane and reasonable restrictions. Maybe it’s just time. Call your senator and ask him/her to support the bill.

Negative thinking

The Death Set:


The Minks:

Jail la la

Dum Dum Girls:

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