Many Americans are suggesting that the Patriot Act (and its proposed "improvements" in Patriot II) is totally new in the experience of America and may spell the end of both democracy and the Bill of Rights. History, however, shows another view, which offers us both warnings and hope.
Let's be blunt. The real agenda of the new conservatives is nothing less than the destruction of democracy in the United States of America. And feudalism is one of their weapons.
During this lull in the fighting between the 2002 election cycle Iraq conflict and the soon-to-come 2004 election cycle conflict, it's a good time to (anonymously) sit in a library or bookstore and browse "The Turner Diaries" and Gore Vidal's "Perpetual War For Perpetual Peace."
In the midst of news of foreign wars, Americans are beginning to wake up to the real war being waged here at home. It is, however, a confused awakening.
Marching in the streets is important work, but wouldn't we have greater success if we also took control of the United States government?
The 70th anniversary wasn't noticed in the United States, and was barely reported in the corporate media. But the Germans remembered well that fateful day seventy years ago - February 27, 1933. They commemorated the anniversary by joining in demonstrations for peace that mobilized citizens all across the world. It started when the government, in the midst of a worldwide economic crisis, received reports of an imminent terrorist attack.
It's easy to vilify George W. Bush as a cynical warmonger, anxious to attack Iraq to repay the oil companies that funded his election campaigns. But to do so is to make a dangerous and fundamental error, and such a myopic view of the Bush administration's policies puts America's future at risk.
Santa Clara County, of all jurisdictions in America, should have known better. They could have started by looking at Florida.
They're hoping Americans won't notice. Indeed, in late February a "senior administration official" presented The New York Times with a masterpiece of obfuscation and avoidance of responsibility.
Maybe Nebraska Republican Chuck Hagel honestly won two US Senate elections. Maybe it's true that the citizens of Georgia simply decided that incumbent Democratic Senator Max Cleland, a wildly popular war veteran who lost three limbs in Vietnam, was, as his successful Republican challenger suggested in his campaign ads, too unpatriotic to remain in the Senate. Maybe George W. Bush, Alabama's new Republican governor Bob Riley, and a small but congressionally decisive handful of other long-shot Republican candidates really did win those states where conventional wisdom and straw polls showed them losing in the last few election cycles.
While Nike was conducting a huge and expensive PR blitz to tell people that it had cleaned up its subcontractors' sweatshop labor practices, an alert consumer advocate and activist in California named Marc Kasky caught them in what he alleges are a number of specific deceptions. Citing a California law that forbids corporations from intentionally deceiving people in their commercial statements, Kasky sued the multi-billion-dollar corporation. Instead of refuting Kasky's charge by proving in court that they didn't lie, however, Nike instead chose to argue that corporations should enjoy the same "free speech" right to deceive that individual human citizens have in their personal lives.
The good citizens of Pennsylvania have done it again. Back in 1776, they hosted at Liberty Hall in Philadelphia a gathering of people radicalized by the predations of the East India Company. The world's first multinational corporation then held a virtual stranglehold on commerce and politics in North America, and brazenly used British troops as its enforcers. On the first week of December, 1600, when she created the East India Company, Queen Elizabeth I became the first CEO monarch, and by 1776 King George II was following in her footsteps with his sizeable holdings in and open advocacy of corporate rule.
The railroad barons first tried to infiltrate the halls of government in the early years after the Civil War. The efforts of these men, particularly Jay Gould, brought the Ulysses Grant administration into such disrepute, as a result of what were then called "the railroad bribery scandals," that Grant's own Republican party refused to renominate him for the third term he wanted and ran Rutherford B. Hayes instead. As the whitehouse.gov website says of Grant, "Looking to Congress for direction, he seemed bewildered. One visitor to the White House noted 'a puzzled pathos, as of a man with a problem before him of which he does not understand the terms.'"
"All Democrats are fat, lazy, and stupid," the talk-show host said in grave, serious tones as if he were uttering a sacred truth. We were driving to Michigan for the holidays, and I was tuning around, listening for the stations I'd worked for two and three decades ago. I turned the dial. "It's a Hannity For Humanity house," a different host said, adding that the Habitat For Humanity home he'd apparently hijacked for his own self-promotion would only be given to a family that swears it's conservative. "No liberals are going to get this house," he said.
Computers in the electoral process started in 1964, the year Goldwater opposed Johnson for the presidency. Back then, though, when states bought computers to read punch-card votes, the states owned and operated the computers, and the electorate could thus examine their processes and results. Even Barry Goldwater, ever suspicious of the creeping power of government, approved: the process was relatively transparent.