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Old 02-10-2005, 08:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
A Proposal for the new Liberal

Living Under Fascism

You may wonder why anyone would try to use the word “fascism” in a serious discussion of where America is today. It sounds like cheap name-calling, or melodramatic allusion to a slew of old war movies. But I am serious. I don’t mean it as name-calling at all. I mean to persuade you that the style of governing into which America has slid is most accurately described as fascism, and that the necessary implications of this fact are rightly regarded as terrifying. That’s what I am about here. And even if I don’t persuade you, I hope to raise the level of your thinking about who and where we are now, to add some nuance and perhaps some useful insights.

The word comes from the Latin word “Fasces,” denoting a bundle of sticks tied together. The individual sticks represented citizens, and the bundle represented the state. The message of this metaphor was that it was the bundle that was significant, not the individual sticks. If it sounds un-American, it’s worth knowing that the Roman Fasces appear on the wall behind the Speaker’s podium in the chamber of the US House of Representatives.

Still, it’s an unlikely word. When most people hear the word "fascism" they may think of the racism and anti-Semitism of Mussolini and Hitler. It is true that the use of force and the scapegoating of fringe groups are part of every fascism. But there was also an economic dimension of fascism, known in Europe during the 1920s and '30s as "corporatism," which was an essential ingredient of Mussolini’s and Hitler’s tyrannies. So-called corporatism was adopted in Italy and Germany during the 1930s and was held up as a model by quite a few intellectuals and policy makers in the United States and Europe.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago (in “The Corporation Will Eat Your Soul”), Fortune magazine ran a cover story on Mussolini in 1934, praising his fascism for its ability to break worker unions, disempower workers and transfer huge sums of money to those who controlled the money rather than those who earned it.

Few Americans are aware of or can recall how so many Americans and Europeans viewed economic fascism as the wave of the future during the 1930s. Yet reviewing our past may help shed light on our present, and point the way to a better future. So I want to begin by looking back to the last time fascism posed a serious threat to America.

In Sinclair Lewis's 1935 novel "It Can't Happen Here," a conservative southern politician is helped to the presidency by a nationally syndicated radio talk show host. The politician - Buzz Windrip - runs his campaign on family values, the flag, and patriotism. Windrip and the talk show host portray advocates of traditional American democracy — those concerned with individual rights and freedoms — as anti-American. That was 69 years ago.

One of the most outspoken American fascists from the 1930s was economist Lawrence Dennis. In his 1936 book, The Coming American Fascism — a coming which he anticipated and cheered — Dennis declared that defenders of “18th-century Americanism” were sure to become "the laughing stock of their own countrymen." The big stumbling block to the development of economic fascism, Dennis bemoaned, was "liberal norms of law or constitutional guarantees of private rights."

So it is important for us to recognize that, as an economic system, fascism was widely accepted in the 1920s and '30s, and nearly worshiped by some powerful American industrialists. And fascism has always, and explicitly, been opposed to liberalism of all kinds.

Mussolini, who helped create modern fascism, viewed liberal ideas as the enemy. "The Fascist conception of life," he wrote, "stresses the importance of the State and accepts the individual only in so far as his interests coincide with the State. It is opposed to classical liberalism [which] denied the State in the name of the individual; Fascism reasserts the rights of the State as expressing the real essence of the individual." (In 1932 Mussolini wrote, with the help of Giovanni Gentile, an entry for the Italian Encyclopedia on the definition of fascism. You can read the whole entry at http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/...ni-fascism.html )

Mussolini thought it was unnatural for a government to protect individual rights: The essence of fascism, he believed, is that government should be the master, not the servant, of the people.

Still, fascism is a word that is completely foreign to most of us. We need to know what it is, and how we can know it when we see it.

In an essay coyly titled “Fascism Anyone?,” Dr. Lawrence Britt, a political scientist, identifies social and political agendas common to fascist regimes. His comparisons of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto, and Pinochet yielded this list of 14 “identifying characteristics of fascism.” (The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 23, Number 2. Read it at http://www.secularhumanism.org/libr.../britt_23_2.htm ) See how familiar they sound.

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.
2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of “need.” The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.
3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial, ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.
4. Supremacy of the Military
Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.
5. Rampant Sexism
The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Opposition to abortion is high, as is homophobia and anti-gay legislation and national policy.
6. Controlled Mass Media
Sometimes the media are directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media are indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.
7. Obsession with National Security
Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.
8. Religion and Government are Intertwined
Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.
9. Corporate Power is Protected
The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.
10. Labor Power is Suppressed
Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.
11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts is openly attacked, and governments often refuse to fund the arts.
12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment
Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations
13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.
14. Fraudulent Elections
Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

This list will be familiar to students of political science. But it should be familiar to students of religion as well, for much of it mirrors the social and political agenda of religious fundamentalisms worldwide. It is both accurate and helpful for us to understand fundamentalism as religious fascism, and fascism as political fundamentalism. They both come from very primitive parts of us that have always been the default setting of our species: amity toward our in-group, enmity toward out-groups, hierarchical deference to alpha male figures, a powerful identification with our territory, and so forth. It is that brutal default setting that all civilizations have tried to raise us above, but it is always a fragile thing, civilization, and has to be achieved over and over and over again.

But, again, this is not America’s first encounter with fascism.

In early 1944, the New York Times asked Vice President Henry Wallace to, as Wallace noted, “write a piece answering the following questions: What is a fascist? How many fascists have we? How dangerous are they?”

Vice President Wallace's answer to those questions was published in The New York Times on April 9, 1944, at the height of the war against the Axis powers of Germany and Japan. See how much you think his statements apply to our society today.

“The really dangerous American fascist,” Wallace wrote, “… 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.”

In his strongest indictment of the tide of fascism he saw rising in America, Wallace added, “They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest. Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.” By these standards, a few of today’s weapons for keeping the common people in eternal subjection include NAFTA, the World Trade Organization, union-busting, cutting worker benefits while increasing CEO pay, elimination of worker benefits, security and pensions, rapacious credit card interest, and outsourcing of jobs — not to mention the largest prison system in the world.

The Perfect Storm

Our current descent into fascism came about through a kind of “Perfect Storm,” a confluence of three unrelated but mutually supportive schools of thought.

1. The first stream of thought was the imperialistic dream of the Project for the New American Century. I don’t believe anyone can understand the past four years without reading the Project for the New American Century, published in September 2000 and authored by many who have been prominent players in the Bush administrations, including Cheney, Rumsfleid, Wolfowitz, Richard Perle and Donald Kagan to name only a few. This report saw the fall of Communism as a call for America to become the military rulers of the world, to establish a new worldwide empire. They spelled out the military enhancements we would need, then noted, sadly, that these wonderful plans would take a long time, unless there could be a catastrophic and catalyzing event like a new Pearl Harbor that would let the leaders turn America into a military and militarist country. There was no clear interest in religion in this report, and no clear concern with local economic policies.
2. A second powerful stream must be credited to Pat Robertson and his Christian Reconstructionists, or Dominionists. Long dismissed by most of us as a screwball, the Dominionist style of Christianity which he has been preaching since the early 1980s is now the most powerful religious voice in the Bush administration.

Katherine Yurica, who transcribed over 1300 pages of interviews from Pat Robertson’s “700 Club” shows in the 1980s, has shown how Robertson and his chosen guests consistently, openly and passionately argued that America must become a theocracy under the control of Christian Dominionists. Robertson is on record saying democracy is a terrible form of government unless it is run by his kind of Christians. He also rails constantly against taxing the rich, against public education, social programs and welfare — and prefers Deuteronomy 28 over the teachings of Jesus. He is clear that women must remain homebound as obedient servants of men, and that abortions, like homosexuals, should not be allowed. Robertson has also been clear that other kinds of Christians, including Episcopalians and Presbyterians, are enemies of Christ. (The Yurica Report. Search under this name, or for “Despoiling America” by Katherine Yurica on the internet.)
3. The third major component of this Perfect Storm has been the desire of very wealthy Americans and corporate CEOs for a plutocracy that will favor profits by the very rich and disempowerment of the vast majority of American workers, the destruction of workers’ unions, and the alliance of government to help achieve these greedy goals. It is a condition some have called socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor, and which others recognize as a reincarnation of Social Darwinism. This strain of thought has been present throughout American history. Seventy years ago, they tried to finance a military coup to replace Franlkin Delano Roosevelt and establish General Smedley Butler as a fascist dictator in 1934. Fortunately, the picked a general who really was a patriot; he refused, reported the scheme, and spoke and wrote about it. As Canadian law professor Joel Bakan wrote in the book and movie “The Corporation,” they have now achieved their coup without firing a shot.

Our plutocrats have had no particular interest in religion. Their global interests are with an imperialist empire, and their domestic goals are in undoing all the New Deal reforms of Franklin Delano Roosevelt that enabled the rise of America’s middle class after WWII.

Another ill wind in this Perfect Storm is more important than its crudity might suggest: it was President Clinton’s sleazy sex with a young but eager intern in the White House. This incident, and Clinton’s equally sleazy lying about it, focused the certainties of conservatives on the fact that “liberals” had neither moral compass nor moral concern, and therefore represented a dangerous threat to the moral fiber of America. While the effects of this may be hard to quantify, I think they were profound.

These “storm” components have no necessary connection, and come from different groups of thinkers, many of whom wouldn’t even like one another. But together, they form a nearly complete web of command and control, which has finally gained control of America and, they hope, of the world.

What’s coming

When all fascisms exhibit the same social and political agendas (the 14 points listed by Britt), then it is not hard to predict where a new fascist uprising will lead. And it is not hard. The actions of fascists and the social and political effects of fascism and fundamentalism are clear and sobering. Here is some of what’s coming, what will be happening in our country in the next few years:

* The theft of all social security funds, to be transferred to those who control money, and the increasing destitution of all those dependent on social security and social welfare programs.
* Rising numbers of uninsured people in this country that already has the highest percentage of citizens without health insurance in the developed world.
* Increased loss of funding for public education combined with increased support for vouchers, urging Americans to entrust their children’s education to Christian schools.
* More restrictions on civil liberties as America is turned into the police state necessary for fascism to work
* Withdrawal of virtually all funding for National Public Radio and the Public Broadcasting System. At their best, these media sometimes encourage critical questioning, so they are correctly seen as enemies of the state’s official stories.
* The reinstatement of a draft, from which the children of privileged parents will again be mostly exempt, leaving our poorest children to fight and die in wars of imperialism and greed that could never benefit them anyway. (That was my one-sentence Veterans’ Day sermon for this year.)
* More imperialistic invasions: of Iran and others, and the construction of a huge permanent embassy in Iraq.
* More restrictions on speech, under the flag of national security.
* Control of the internet to remove or cripple it as an instrument of free communication that is exempt from government control. This will be presented as a necessary anti-terrorist measure.
* Efforts to remove the tax-exempt status of churches like this one, and to characterize them as anti-American.
* Tighter control of the editorial bias of almost all media, and demonization of the few media they are unable to control – the New York Times, for instance.
* Continued outsourcing of jobs, including more white-collar jobs, to produce greater profits for those who control the money and direct the society, while simultaneously reducing America’s workers to a more desperate and powerless status.
* Moves in the banking industry to make it impossible for an increasing number of Americans to own their homes. As they did in the 1930s, those who control the money know that it is to their advantage and profit to keep others renting rather than owning.
* Criminalization of those who protest, as un-American, with arrests, detentions and harassment increasing. We already have a higher percentage of our citizens in prison than any other country in the world. That percentage will increase.
* In the near future, it will be illegal or at least dangerous to say the things I have said here this morning. In the fascist story, these things are un-American. In the real history of a democratic America, they were seen as profoundly patriotic, as the kind of critical questions that kept the American spirit alive — the kind of questions, incidentally, that our media were supposed to be pressing.

Can these schemes work? I don’t think so. I think they are murderous, rapacious and insane. But I don’t know. Maybe they can. Similar schemes have worked in countries like Chile, where a democracy in which over 90% voted has been reduced to one in which only about 20% vote because they say, as Americans are learning to say, that it no longer matters who you vote for.


In the meantime, is there any hope, or do we just band together like lemmings and dive off a cliff? Yes, there is always hope, though at times it is more hidden, as it is now.

As some critics are now saying, and as I have been preaching and writing for almost twenty years, America’s liberals need to grow beyond political liberalism, with its often self-absorbed focus on individual rights to the exclusion of individual responsibilities to the larger society. Liberals will have to construct a more complete vision with moral and religious grounding. That does not mean confessional Christianity. It means the legitimate heir to Christianity. Such a legitimate heir need not be a religion, though it must have clear moral power, and be able to attract the minds and hearts of a voting majority of Americans.

And the new liberal vision must be larger than that of the conservative religious vision that will be appointing judges, writing laws and bending the cultural norms toward hatred and exclusion for the foreseeable future. The conservatives deserve a lot of admiration. They have spent the last thirty years studying American politics, forming their vision and learning how to gain control in the political system. And it worked; they have won. Even if liberals can develop a bigger vision, they still have all that time-consuming work to do. It won’t be fast. It isn’t even clear that liberals will be willing to do it; they may instead prefer to go down with the ship they’re used to.

One man who has been tireless in his investigations and critiques of America’s slide into fascism is Michael C. Ruppert, whose postings usually read as though he is wound way too tight. But he offers four pieces of advice about what we can do now, and they seem reality-based enough to pass on to you. This is America; they’re all about money:

First, he says you should get out of debt.

Second is to spend your money and time on things that give you energy and provide you with useful information.

Third is to stop spending a penny with major banks, news media and corporations that feed you lies and leave you angry and exhausted.

And fourth is to learn how money works and use it like a (political) weapon — as he predicts the rest of the world will be doing against us. (from http://fromthewilderness.com/free/w..._snap_out.shtml )

That’s advice written this week. Another bit of advice comes from sixty years ago, from Roosevelt’s Vice President, Henry Wallace. Wallace said, “Democracy, to crush fascism internally, must...develop the ability to keep people fully employed and at the same time balance the budget. It must put human beings first and dollars second. It must appeal to reason and decency and not to violence and deceit. We must not tolerate oppressive government or industrial oligarchy in the form of monopolies and cartels.”

Still another way to understand fascism is as a kind of colonization. A simple definition of “colonization” is that it takes people’s stories away, and assigns them supportive roles in stories that empower others at their expense. When you are taxed to support a government that uses you as a means to serve the ends of others, you are — ironically — in a state of taxation without representation. That’s where this country started, and it’s where we are now.

I don’t know the next step. I’m not a political activist; I’m only a preacher. But whatever you do, whatever we do, I hope that we can remember some very basic things that I think of as eternally true. One is that the vast majority of people are good decent people who mean and do as well as they know how. Very few people are evil, though some are. But we all live in families where some of our blood relatives support things we hate. I believe they mean well, and the way to rebuild broken bridges is through greater understanding, compassion, and a reality-based story that is more inclusive and empowering for the vast majority of us.

Those who want to live in a reality-based story rather than as serfs in an ideology designed to transfer power, possibility and hope to a small ruling elite have much long and hard work to do, individually and collectively. It will not be either easy or quick.

But we will do it. We will go forward in hope and in courage. Let us seek that better path, and find the courage to take it — step, by step, by step.

I have not come to any conclusion about this article. I am very interested in the perspective of many of the liberals here on TFP.

This proposal, to alter course from a direction of rationalism to emotionalism may indeed be a viable option for restoring (initializing) the "good" to this country. But it is one of the very specific issues I have had with the conservative mentality (particularly since 9/11). I have viewed emotionalism as dangerous, in and of itself, in regards to the means of political authority. What is a liberal brand of emotionalism and how can it be justified in the wake of the evidential absurdities of the past 3+ years? I would like to have an answer to that which allows me to forgo my present plan to go down with the ship. But is that wishful thinking.
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Old 02-10-2005, 09:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
... a sort of licensed troubleshooter.
Willravel's Avatar
The sermon was right to point out some things that are less than apparent on the surface. The Lawrence Britt essay on the 14 identifying characteristics of fascism was striking in it's resembelance to current events (if you so choose to see them in that way). Everything from nationalism to fraudulent elections are right here for all to see. Some people will see it, some people won't. The thing that worrries me is that if we wait and see who's right, we could be losing valuable time to try to circumvent what rules are already in place in order to prevent the inevitable problems that will come about if America does become a facist state. I'm not saying that all facism is wrong, but considering who might be in charge in an American facist regime, I'd say we're screwed if facism is the finality of the neo-con plan. Of course, it could all be paranoia. It could just be a coincedence that all of this matches up. I honestly accept that as a possibility. It would be foolish to discount either side. What I keep seeing concerns me a great deal. It concerns me enough to become active.

What do I personally do about it? I vote for the party that best represents me, not try to choose which of the two main parties I disagree with less. I have been to more non-violent protests (I've been arrested 12 times at various protests) than I can count. In most political situations that require real action, as opposed to debating and discussing, I always ask myself, "What would Ghandi do?". I usually realize that non-violence and civil disobediance are powerful tools for a pacifist.

Last edited by Willravel; 02-10-2005 at 09:43 PM.. Reason: too alarmist
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Old 02-10-2005, 09:50 PM   #3 (permalink)
Will -

I understand your first paragraph. I am of the opinion that all fascism is unacceptable and the past 3+ years of American gov't have accelerated the course to full-on fascism. I'm sure there will be a lively debate on the "question" of fascism in America today, primarily from those who support the actions of this administration. I can tell you right now that debate is not going to interest me.

As for your second paragraph, it is admirable. Unfortunately, the days of effective protestation (if they existed for more than a fleeting moment at all) are over. When the world, including millions in this country, protest a war and that protest is either ignored or viewed as the actions of lunatics or viewed simply as an annoyance in traffic congestion while you drive to work - protest has failed. There are two options: change the method of communication (from rational, in the case of liberals) or give up. As this article has offered one means of a change in communication, I feel the need to consider it. My initial thoughts, as expressed above, are apprehensive. Is there an alternative method of change? I have yet to see it.

When the lowest common denominator is, in fact, so low ... how do you raise the level of discourse?

Last edited by Manx; 02-10-2005 at 09:54 PM..
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Old 02-10-2005, 09:52 PM   #4 (permalink)
Originally Posted by willravel
If these nightmare conclusions ever came to pass, I would urge non-violence and civil disobediance as opposed to outright violence against the facist regime. My hope would be for a peaceful resolution.

I'm getting ahead of myself. The sermon was right to point out some things that are less than apparent on the surface. The Lawrence Britt essay on the 14 identifying characteristics of fascism was striking in it's resembelance to current events (if you so choose to see them in that way). Everything from nationalism to fraudulent elections are right here for all to see. Some people will see it, some people won't. When and if the time comes to pick sides, either apathetic slave or insurgent liberator, I know which side I'll be on.
willravel.....WTF are you and Manx talking about......????
<a href="http://www.wired.com/news/privacy/0,1848,66521,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_3">Fence Fight: Estuary or Security? 10:04 AM Feb. 06, 2005 PT</a>
WASHINGTON -- A ragged fence and a canyon called Smugglers Gulch mark the westernmost stretch of the California-Mexico border, a crossing point for illegal immigrants and drug runners.

The federal government and a powerful local Republican congressman have been pushing for years to fortify the 3 1/2-mile stretch of border just north of Tijuana, Mexico. Their plan is opposed by California coastal regulators and environmentalists who say it could harm a fragile Pacific estuary.

Now supporters may be getting closer to victory. A provision in an immigration bill expected to pass the House next week <h2>would give the homeland security secretary authority to move forward with the project regardless of any laws that stand in the way, and would bar courts from hearing lawsuits against it.</h2>

"We need to get this thing done, and we need to do it for security reasons, and at some point we just need to do it," said House Armed Services Committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-California, whose district is just north of the border.

But environmentalists and the California Coastal Commission, the independent state agency that regulates the state's coastline, say the plan promoted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection is too extreme.

Among other provisions, it would level the peaks lining Smugglers Gulch and fill part of the deep canyon with 2 million cubic yards of dirt in order to build a road across it. The Coastal Commission voted down the proposal a year ago, saying it would erode soil near the federally protected Tijuana Estuary that's home to marshes, California brown pelicans and rare plants and birds.

"We're going to destroy our environment in the name of fear," said Peter Douglas, the commission's executive director. "Frankly, there are ways that we can do both, protecting the environment and meeting the concerns of border control and homeland security."

Coastal Commission officials contended Customs and Border Protection didn't meet them halfway when they proposed alternatives, including switchback roads through the gulch.

A spokesman for Customs and Border Protection did not immediately respond to calls for comment Friday. But Hunter said environmentalists' demands were unreasonable.

"You could run a thousand plans past some of these people. I don't think they understand the issues and I don't think they care," he said.

Rep. Bob Filner, D-California, whose district encompasses the border, disagreed. "The waiving of all environmental rules for this is just criminal," Filner said. "It's just too extensive a trade-off for the limited security advantage."

More than 10 miles of the border between the Pacific Ocean and inland hills have already been fortified with fences, lights, motion sensors and beefed-up patrols. The border agency's apprehensions of illegal immigrants declined 88 percent from 1994 to 2003.

The provision to finish off the border barriers is part of immigration legislation introduced last week by House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, that would also prevent illegal immigrants from getting driver's licenses and make it harder for them to get political asylum.

The measures passed the House last year as part of the intelligence bill, but were struck from the final package. The bill is set for a House vote next week and is expected to pass. How the fence provision would fare in the Senate is unclear. California's two Democratic senators have not announced their positions.
<a href="http://www.signonsandiego.com/news/nation/20050210-2000-cnsimmig.html">House passes controversial immigration bill</a>
Law would deny driver licenses to illegal aliens, provide anti-terror measures

By Jerry Kammer
February 10, 2005

WASHINGTON – Dividing largely along party lines, the House passed a controversial bill Thursday designed to curtail illegal immigration as a way to achieve greater homeland security.

The bill, which passed 261-161, would pressure states to deny driver licenses to illegal aliens, make it easier to turn away some political asylum seekers and ease the deportation of suspected terrorists.

The measure would empower bounty hunters to go after immigrants who have defied orders of deportation and <h2>remove environmental barriers blocking completion of a triple fence along the U.S.-Mexico border near Imperial Beach.
The bill's author, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., said the measure would help "prevent another 9/11-type attack by disrupting terrorist travel" and by making it more difficult for terrorists to take advantage of the asylum system or penetrate the border near San Diego.

"We must ensure that terrorists no longer can exploit these weaknesses," he said.

Passage in the House completes the first step in Sensenbrenner's strategy to ensure that the measure is considered in the Senate, where it faces longer odds.

As part of a deal last year with House leaders who wanted to strip the immigration bill from intelligence overhaul legislation, Sensenbrenner got a commitment that his bill would be included in the first essential legislation Congress considers this year.

Next week, Sensenbrenner plans to attach his bill to legislation that would provide funding for troops in Iraq, which almost certainly will be approved by the House. Then the combined measure will go to the Senate.

"That way, the Senate can't ignore it," said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which favors greater restrictions on immigration.

Even if the Senate jettisons the immigration provisions, as some consider likely, a House-Senate conference could reinstate them.

Called the "Real ID ACT," the bill was recently endorsed by President Bush, who is pushing a sweeping overhaul of immigration laws, including a guest-worker program.

Before passing the Sensenbrenner bill, the House defeated an amendment sponsored by Sam Farr, D-Carmel. His proposal would have stripped out a provision granting authority to the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to waive any laws impeding completion of the border fence near San Diego.

"My amendment was not about preventing the remaining three miles of border fence in San Diego from being built," Farr said, adding that he was trying to protect environmental laws and the review process they created..........
host is offline  
Old 02-11-2005, 12:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
Originally Posted by host
The bill, which passed 261-161, would pressure states to deny driver licenses to illegal aliens, make it easier to turn away some political asylum seekers and ease the deportation of suspected terrorists.
I suppose you think there's a downside to this....I just can't find it.

I heard a speaker decrying the Patriot Act yesterday. He was pretty miffed because, according to its provisions, a group that blocked a road with a protest MIGHT GET SUED if they prevented an ambulance from carrying out its mission!!!

He was also angry because other provisions hadn't resulted in terrorist arrests--it had only stopped "a few thousand money launderers and illegal immigrants."

I can see why so many people hate the Patriot Act.
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Old 02-11-2005, 06:48 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by sob

I can see why so many people hate the Patriot Act.
Sarcasm aside....Many people dislike the Patriot act because of the implied, if not likely changes it creates concerning civil liberties,personal freedom, and government control. These are far from the extreme circumstances you have chosen above, and effect more of the underlying rights we generally consider as a part of American Society.
I have watched, and attempted to understand the direction this legislation is heading, and must admit to some discomfort in the trend. As with most of the issues we deal with in this forum.....it seems to take on a black vs. white mentality. I try very hard to remain in the grey by looking at all aspects of a situation, and formulating an opinion based on the data in place. The information availible regarding this "ACT" is disturbing to me, not because of a paranoia factor, but because of a logical (to my mind) path it sets my beloved country on.
Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned. - Buddha
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Old 02-11-2005, 08:44 AM   #7 (permalink)
... a sort of licensed troubleshooter.
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Originally Posted by Manx
Will -

I understand your first paragraph. I am of the opinion that all fascism is unacceptable and the past 3+ years of American gov't have accelerated the course to full-on fascism. I'm sure there will be a lively debate on the "question" of fascism in America today, primarily from those who support the actions of this administration. I can tell you right now that debate is not going to interest me.

As for your second paragraph, it is admirable. Unfortunately, the days of effective protestation (if they existed for more than a fleeting moment at all) are over. When the world, including millions in this country, protest a war and that protest is either ignored or viewed as the actions of lunatics or viewed simply as an annoyance in traffic congestion while you drive to work - protest has failed. There are two options: change the method of communication (from rational, in the case of liberals) or give up. As this article has offered one means of a change in communication, I feel the need to consider it. My initial thoughts, as expressed above, are apprehensive. Is there an alternative method of change? I have yet to see it.

When the lowest common denominator is, in fact, so low ... how do you raise the level of discourse?
Media! I've been involved with FSTV (Free Speech TV, Dish channel 9415) and several independant media radio stations. Finding larger media outlets without corpriate funding is almost impossible, I've found. We may have to go through regular media. Find people with the credentials to work at a particular media station. Get a lot of people working at the media station who are friendly to the cause and add an extra story every once in a while about what's really going on.

There are alternatives. Sabatoge comes to mind. If someone were able to get a hold of a piece of the plan, people could take steps to ensure failure while avioding lawbreaking or violence.

This is all off the top of my head. Any real attempt to stop what's happening would be a serious endevor to undertake. It would take the efforts of hundreds or thousands of people working in cells in various media and governmental organizations. We'd probably be caught and sentenced to death for treason. Is America worth fighting for? I've been contemplating fighting for a country that is apathetic and passive to a government that is openly torturing people and is gaining control of most of the resources on the planet.
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Old 02-11-2005, 08:47 AM   #8 (permalink)
... a sort of licensed troubleshooter.
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Originally Posted by host
willravel.....WTF are you and Manx talking about......????
We're looking at the big picture, if you will. Trying to add up the symptoms to see if they mean we have a cold or cancer. We're also talking about what kind of treatments we might need for the cancer.
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Old 02-11-2005, 10:20 AM   #9 (permalink)
Location: bedford, tx
Originally Posted by sob
I suppose you think there's a downside to this....I just can't find it.
did you look at the other aspects of this bill? Like electronic data on every card that without it you will be denied things like flight, certain types of travel, and the ability to enter federally owned property?
"no amount of force can control a free man, a man whose mind is free. No, not the rack, not fission bombs, not anything. You cannot conquer a free man; the most you can do is kill him."
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Old 02-15-2005, 09:30 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Location: CT
I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe--"That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which the will have. Government is at best but an expedient; but most governments are usually, and all governments are sometimes, inexpedient.
Thoureau said it better than I can. The simple fact is that regardless of what our laws ans Constitution say, nobody, under any circumstances, has the right to do much of what our government does.
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