Tagright wing populism

Just how pro-choice is America, really?

And going strictly by the numbers, it may not look like public opinion on abortion has changed very much over the years. In April 1975, according to Gallup, 21 percent of Americans thought abortion should be legal under all circumstances and 22 percent thought it should be illegal under all circumstances. In the early nineties, there was a brief spell where a full third of Americans believed abortion should always be legal. That started to slide midway through the Clinton years, and by May of this year, we were almost exactly where we started in 1975: 22 percent saying always legal and 23 saying always illegal.

But that downward trajectory could continue. If forced to choose, Americans today are far more eager to label themselves “pro-life” than they were a dozen years ago. The youngest generation of voters—those between the ages of 18 and 29, and therefore most likely to need an abortion—is the most pro-life to come along since the generation born during the Great Depression, according to Michael D. Hais and Morley Winograd, authors of Millennial Makeover, who got granular data on the subject from Pew Research Center. Crisis Pregnancy Centers, dedicated to persuading women to continue their pregnancies, now outnumber the country’s abortion providers, who themselves are a rapidly aging group (two-thirds are over 50, according to a National Abortion Federation study from 2002). In the wake of the murder of Dr. George Tiller this year, the Senate couldn’t even pass a resolution condemning violence against abortion providers.

NY Mag: Just how pro-choice is America, really?

Yes, Sarah, There is a Media Conspiracy

Matt Tabbi’s colorful description of how political journalism works:

Once the signal comes down that this or that politician doesn’t have the backing of anyone who matters, that’s when the knives really come out. When a politician has powerful allies and powerful friends, you won’t see reporters brazenly kicking him in the crotch the way they did to Dean and they’re doing now to Sarah Palin. The only time they do this is when they know there won’t be consequences, meaning when the politician’s only supporters are non-entities (read: voters), as in the case of Ron Paul or Kucinich. Like America in general, the press corps never attacks any enemy that can fight back. To illustrate the point via haiku:

Journos are pussies

Only attack when it’s safe

Lay off entrenched pols […]

For those of you who can’t connect the dots, I’ll tell you what it means. It means she’s been cut loose. It means that all five of the families have given the okay to this hit job, including even the mainstream Republican leaders. You teabaggers are in the process of being marginalized by your own ostensible party leaders in exactly the same way the anti-war crowd was abandoned by the Democratic party elders in the earlier part of this decade. Like the antiwar left, you have been deemed a threat to your own party’s “winnability.”

And do you know what that means? That means that just as the antiwar crowd spent years being painted by the national press as weepy, unpatriotic pussies whose enthusiastic support is toxic to any serious presidential aspirant, so too will all of you afternoon-radio ignoramuses who seem bent on spending the next three years kicking and screaming your way up the eternal asshole of white resentment now find yourself and your political champions painted as knee-jerk loonies whose rabid irrationality is undeserving of the political center. And yes, that’s me saying that, but I’ve always been saying that, not just about Palin but about George Bush and all your other moron-heroes.

Matt Tabbi: Yes, Sarah, There is a Media Conspiracy

See also: Jay Rosen’s “Sphere of Legitimate Debate.”

And on the subject of Palin and the GOP’s future: Max Blumenthal thinks she’s going to take the GOP down with her (Sarah Palin Rules the GOP — And She Will Destroy It). I’m not so optimistic, but one can always hope.

Majority of Republicans polled believe ACORN stole the election for Obama

The poll asked this question: “Do you think that Barack Obama legitimately won the Presidential election last year, or do you think that ACORN stole it for him?” The overall top-line is legitimately won 62%, ACORN stole it 26%.

Among Republicans, however, only 27% say Obama actually won the race, with 52% — an outright majority — saying that ACORN stole it, and 21% are undecided. Among McCain voters, the breakdown is 31%-49%-20%. By comparison, independents weigh in at 72%-18%-10%, and Democrats are

TPM: Majority Of Republicans Think Obama Didn’t Actually Win 2008 Election — ACORN Stole It!

I’m curious if anyone has any polls indicating the percentage of Democrats who believe Bush stole one or more elections.

(For the record, I do think both of Bush’s elections were stolen)

(Thanks Bill!)

Birther Site Is Already Lying About Ft. Hood Shooter and Obama

Jerome Corsi, of Swift Boat infamy, has written a piece connecting Nidal Malik Hasan to Obama on WorldNetDaily (“the leading source of disinformation that the president wasn’t born an American.”)

Corsi points to a Homeland Security Policy Institute at George Washington University paper titled “Thinking Anew – Security Priorities for the Next Administration: Proceedings Report of the HSPI Presidential Transition Task Force” which lists Hasan as “Task Force Event Participant.”

What does that mean? It means Hasan, as Spencer Ackerman writes: “Hasan attended a meeting of a private organization that gave the transition some unsolicited advice.”

Washinton Independent: Birther Site Is Already Lying About Ft. Hood Shooter and Obama

(via Jeremy Scahill)

Fascism Watch: Police and Military Lining Up Against Obama

Launched in March by Las Vegan Stewart Rhodes, Oath Keepers bills itself as a nonpartisan group of current and retired law enforcement and military personnel who vow to fulfill their oaths to the Constitution.

More specifically, the group’s members, which number in the thousands, pledge to disobey orders they deem unlawful, including directives to disarm the American people and to blockade American cities. By refusing the latter order, the Oath Keepers hope to prevent cities from becoming “giant concentration camps,” a scenario the 44-year-old Rhodes says he can envision happening in the coming years. […]

It’s the “cross-pollinating” of extremist groups — some racist, some not — that is of concern, Potok said. As evidence that the danger is real, he points to several recent murders committed by men with anti-government or racist views.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security reached a similar conclusion in a report earlier this year about the rise of right-wing extremism. The report said the nation’s economic downturn and Obama’s race are “unique drivers for right-wing radicalization and recruitment.”

The homeland security report added that “disgruntled military veterans” might be vulnerable to recruitment by right-wing extremist groups.

That warning was enough to make Rhodes feel paranoid.

“They’re accusing anybody who opposes Obama of being a racist or a potential terrorist,” he said. “What they’re saying is, ‘We’re coming after you.'”

Las Vegas Review: Ready To Revolt: Oath Keepers pledges to prevent dictatorship in United States

(via Nick P)

To their credit, the “Oath Keepers” acknowledge the Patriot Act’s erosion of civil liberties as well. But where were they during the 8 years that Bush was president? Obama gets 400% more death threats than Bush but still lets people carry assault rifles around him, and the Oathers think that they’re being persecuted? Bush had people hauled away for wearing the wrong t-shirts.

I have little good to say about Obama, but I can’t say that his administration is less tolerant of dissent than Bush’s.

From the Oather’s Declaration of Orders We Will NOT Obey: “We will NOT obey any order to conduct warrantless searches of the American people, their homes, vehicles, papers, or effects — such as warrantless house-to house searches for weapons or persons.”

I take this to mean they will start refusing to do warrantless searches for drugs? For 28 years the federal government has waged war on its people (a disproportionate number of them black), using militarized civilian law enforcement agents, and it’s only now that a not-right-wing-enough black president has been elected that they are worried?

Now, there have been militia movements before, and they got particularly scary during the Clinton years. But most of those fears were overblown. The Oklahoma City bombing was used to justify the proto-Patriot Act: the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996. So it’s worth while to reiterate that this should not be a call for more repressive laws.

These latest developments – Oath Keepers, assault rifles at Obama rallies, violent attacks on pro-health care demonstrators – do seem particularly more frightening than those of the Clinton-era. And those Clinton-era movements did have a real result. Not the assassination of a president, or a legitimate insurrection by right-wing militias. The result was the sharp right-wing turn the country took during and after the Clinton administration.

And that’s what’s scariest now. Even if the current movements don’t end in, say, a Blackwater coup (and the chance that something like that would happen this time around does seem greater), we’re still probably in for darker days.

Update: Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes opines on the drug war and the Bush administration here (via Jesse Walker in the comments):

The Pentagon and its close allies, the defense contractors, turned to the “war on drugs” and “terrorism” as the new cash-crop reason for the bloated Pentagon budget. We even had shrill warnings about the grave dangers of “narco-terrorists” who actually combined those two horrid evils (shudder) and we were told that only the military could stop them! Thus a new mission was born for the U.S. military which has steadily pushed its way into law enforcement, starting out in support roles, just like in Vietnam, but getting closer and closer to in-your-face and hands-on direct action. There has also been a corresponding and complimentary steady militarization of law enforcement such that the two are now hard to tell apart.

Is Rhodes position the official position of the Oath Keepers? As of now (10am PST 10/25/09) there is no official position on the drug war recorded on their site by Google. The question is posed here in the comments and not answered.

Still, I’m impressed with Rhodes’s position and encouraged by the fact that he’s “writing a book on the dangers of applying the laws of war to the American people.” (See Radley Balko’s paper Overkill for more on this subject.)

American Fascism: What It Is, How To Fight It

When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross

So now that we’ve established to some degree what fascism is, how do we fight it? Well, first and foremost, we do not fight it by begging the Democratic Party to “move to the left” and “get tough.” That’s been, historically speaking, a recipe for disaster. Organizations such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, which rely upon the cops and courts have a woefully inadequate analysis of what fascism is, and thus are completely unprepared to fight it. Fascism cannot be fought using cops and courts. […]

They [fascists] cannot, and should not be debated or provided with a platform to spew their filth. They should be met with overwhelming physical force and run out of town on a rail. The early days of the Anti-Nazi League in Britain (before they were co-opted by the Socialist Workers’ Party of Great Britain- the co-thinkers of the grotesque, pro-cop reformists of the International Socialist Organization) provides a great example of how to respond when the fascists- of whatever brand- want to show up in your city. A better model are Labor/Black Mobilizations against the Klan and, more recently, the Minutemen.

Because fascism is, in the final analysis, a cowardly movement. But like a coward, it needs to be confronted with sufficient force to get it to crawl back into the slime-filled hole from whence it came. A thousand screaming trade unionists, Black activists, and militant anti-fascist youth (possibly armed with such rudimentary and legal weapons as small baseball bats, bike chains, and sawn off pool cues) should be sufficient to spook any mob of racist thugs right the fuck out of town. But, unfortunately, this is only enough to deal with the foot soldiers on the ground. Defeating fascism ultimately means building a political movement to destroy the economic and social system which makes fascism a viable alternative in the first place.

Black Sun Gazette: American Fascism: What It Is, How To Fight It

Fascism by the numbers

As a follow-up to my recent post Is It Too Late to Stop Fascism in the US?, I worked from the definition of fascism proposed by Robert Paxton.

There are several other definitions of fascism, many of which are listed on the Wikipedia entry Definitions of Fascism. I’ve decided to go through the definitions that include specific lists of criteria and see which of them the United States fits.

I’ve made the case before that when Ronald Reagan signed the Military Cooperation with Law Enforcement Officials Act, he was quietly declaring martial law and creating a police state (and that the US has never really lived up to its liberal democratic ideals). I’m sure those with more knowledge of the right-wing populist movement of the 70s that culminated in Reagan’s election and with the Reagan administration itself could make the case that fascism, under many standard definitions, actually started then. I have more knowledge of the conteporary politics, so I’m focused mostly on the actions of the Bush administration, and to a lesser extent, the Obama administration.

I should also note that by the definition many of the pro-capitalist right wing definitions of fascism, which essentially equate fascism with the left, the entire world is fascist and the US was has been fascist at least since the New Deal. Still, I focus here on elements from contemporary America. For the most part, I’m considering business interests (especially Wall Street), right wing media (especially Fox News and talk radio pundits), the “Tea Party” Movement, the Republican Party, and to a lesser extent the Democratic Party to be one loosely connected coalition (even though some of them often fight amongst themselves).

John T. Flynn’s list

1. Anti-capitalist, but with capitalist features;

Mostly missing (though there are some anti-capitalist elements. Change it to “anti-socialist, but with socialist features” and then we’ve got a match. I think this is fair because 1) What we’re seeing is NOT an authentic capitalist movement, at least as Flynn would define it 2) Mussolini used the terms “state capitalism” and “state socialism” interchangeably.

2. Economic demand management…

3. …through budget deficits

Check and check.

4. Direct economic planning, reconciled with partial economic autonomy through corporatism


5. Militarism and imperialism


6. Suspension of rule of law.


Stanley G. Payne’s itemized list of characteristics of fascism

the creation of an authoritarian state


a regulated, state-integrated economic sector


fascist symbolism

Recursive definition.


This is less obviously a “Check” than it seems. During the 20s and 30s, “liberalism” more likely meant what today we’d call libertarianism or individualism (though social liberalism was already beginning). But, still, check.




Missing. Mostly because this round of fascism is in the guise of conservatism.

Umberto Ecco’s list

“The Cult of Tradition”


“The Cult of Action for Action’s Sake”


This one is confusing, but Wikipedia helpfully clarifies: “This, says Eco, is connected with anti-intellectualism and irrationalism, and often manifests in attacks on modern culture and science.”

Check Check and Check.

“Disagreement is Treason”

Check and check.

“Fear of Difference”

Check, check, check

“Appeal to a Frustrated Middle Class”


“Obsession With a plot”

Check and check

“Pacifism is Trafficking With the Enemy” because “Life is Permanent Warfare”

Check and check.

“Contempt for the Weak”

I’m not even sure where to begin with this one. Check.

“Selective Populism”





Here are the characters from above that fit modern America:

Economic demand management through budget deficits
Direct economic planning, reconciled with partial economic autonomy through corporatism
Militarism and imperialism
Suspension of rule of law
the creation of an authoritarian state
a regulated, state-integrated economic sector
The Cult of Tradition
The Cult of Action for Action’s Sake (along with anti-intellectualism and irrationalism, and attacks on modern culture and science).
Disagreement is Treason
Fear of Difference
Appeal to a Frustrated Middle Class
Obsession With a plot
Pacifism is Trafficking With the Enemy” because “Life is Permanent Warfare
Contempt for the Weak
Selective Populism

Here are the missing characteristics:

Anti-capitalist, but with capitalist features
fascist symbolism (technicality, due to recursive definition)

Is it too late to stop fascism in the US?

(Image from this old post by Nick P, it’s NOT from a Tea Party rally)

First thing first, Robert Paxton’s definition of fascism:

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. […]

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.

Now, Sara Robinson on the question “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. […]

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.

Alternet: Is the U.S. on the Brink of Fascism?

Robinson has 2 follow-up posts: 7 Ways We Can Fight Back Against the Rising Fascist Threat and 5 Ways to Build a Fascist-Proof America

I don’t share Robinson’s faith that we can pull out of this. I don’t have her faith in the Democratic Party, which I think plays the role of “good cop” in what’s actually a one party system. I think the entire establishment media, not just Fox News, is a party of that system and can never be made to “get the story right.” I don’t think we can rely on the police to do the “heavy lifting.”

I have, however, been considering what can be done. I will share my thoughts and conclusions eventually (unless of course I do decide there really isn’t anything that can be done).

In the meantime, here are some other things to consider.

Naomi Wolf in her own piece claiming we’re in the late stages of a fascist shift: (from 2007)

A friend emails me a story from USA Today about a 24-year-old college graduate who testified before Congress about her family of immigrants and the difficulties they face; shortly afterward, the entire family was arrested by immigration agents. Another online piece reports that Blackwater is setting up operations along the US/Mexico border and an insightful post on Daily Kos describes how the TSA list will revert from the airlines to the management of the Department of Homeland Security shortly and that by February we may well face the need to apply to the State for permission to travel. If this proposed regulation goes through, we will move from 1931 to about 1934–when the borders started to close– with the stroke of a pen. Jews in America have hardwired into their DNA a sense of the distinction between those who got out before the borders closed and those who waited a moment too long.

And these thoughts about life during totalitarianism from William S. Burroughs and RU Sirius.

Plurality of Republicans are birthers

The poll found that only 59% of voters believe that President Obama was born in the United States, with 23% saying he was not, and 18% undecided. Among Republicans only, a 42% Birther plurality say he was not born here, 37% say he was, and 22% are undecided.

As for the left, check out this question: “Do you think President Bush intentionally allowed the 9/11 attacks to take place because he wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East?” The top-line response is 14% yes, 78% no, and 8% undecided. But among Democrats, it’s a somewhat larger Truther contingent, at 25%-63%-12%.

The poll also extends this poll of conservative New Jersey voters on whether they believe Obama is the Antichrist to all voters. The interesting result here is that 25% of Democrats either believe Bush is the Antichrist or are unsure. Crikey.

TPMDC: Poll Begs Question: Is Extremism Mainstream?

(via Jay Rosen)

At least religion is on the decline.

Glenn Beck and left-right confusion

Some of this confusion is attributable to the fact that Beck himself doesn’t really appear to have any actual, identifiable political beliefs; he just mutates into whatever is likely to draw the most attention for himself and whatever satisfies his emotional cravings of the moment. Although he now parades around under a rhetorical banner of small-government liberty, anti-imperialism, and opposition to the merger of corporations and government (as exemplified by the Bush-sponsored Wall Street bailout), it wasn’t all that long ago that he was advocating exactly the opposite: paying homage to the Patriot Act, defending the Wall Street bailout and arguing it should have been larger, and spouting standard neoconservative cartoon propaganda about The Global Islamo-Nazi Jihadists and all that it justifies. Even the quasi-demented desire for a return to 9/12 — as though the country should be stuck permanently in a state of terrorism-induced trauma and righteous, nationalistic fury over an allegedly existential Enemy — is the precise antithesis of the war-opposing, neocon-hating views held by many libertarian and paleoconservative factions with which Beck has now associated himself. Still other aspects of his ranting are obviously grounded in highly familiar, right-wing paranoia. […]

Is opposition to the Wall Street bailout (supported by both parties’ establishments) left or right? How about the view that Washington is inherently corrupt and beholden to the richest corporate interests and banks which, through lobbyist influence and vast financial contributions, own and control our political system? Is hostility towards Beltway elites liberal or conservative? Is opposition to the Surveillance State and endless expansions of federal police powers a view of liberals (who vehemently opposed such measures during the Bush era but now sometimes support or at least tolerate them) or conservatives (some of whom — the Ron Paul faction — objected just as vigorously, and naturally oppose such things regardless of who is in power as transgressions of the proper limits of government)? Liberals during the Bush era continuously complained about the doubling of the national debt, a central concern of many of these “tea party” protesters. Is the belief that Washington politicians are destroying the economic security of the middle class, while the rich grow richer, a liberal or conservative view? Opposition to endless wars and bankruptcy-inducing imperial policy generally finds as much expression among certain quarters on the Right as it does on the Left. […]

Are the views expressed in that paragraph liberal or conservative ones? They’re neither. Instead, they’re the by-product of a completely different dichotomy that is growing in importance: between system insiders and their admirers (those who believe our national political establishment and its elites are basically sound and good) and system outsiders (those whose anger is confined not to one of the two political parties but who instead believe that the political culture itself is fundamentally corrupted and destructive).

Glenn Greenwald: Glenn Beck and left-right confusion

Is there enough common ground between various oppositional forces to stage even a modest “revolution” (for lack of a better word)?

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