Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The GOP has found a new word

An old word, but new to them, of course. It's only the latest Rovian strategy to define the terms according to his own warped ideology:

President* Bush in recent days has recast the global war on terror into a "war against Islamic fascism." Fascism, in fact, seems to be the new buzz word for Republicans in an election season dominated by an unpopular war in Iraq.

Bush used the term earlier this month in talking about the arrest of suspected terrorists in Britain, and spoke of "Islamic fascists" in a later speech in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Spokesman Tony Snow has used variations on the phrase at White House press briefings. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., in a tough re-election fight, drew parallels on Monday between World War II and the current war against "Islamic fascism," saying they both require fighting a common foe in multiple countries. It's a phrase Santorum has been using for months.

And Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Tuesday took it a step further in a speech to an American Legion convention in Salt Lake City, accusing critics of the administration's Iraq and anti-terrorism policies of trying to appease "a new type of fascism."

These men are obviously confused about the word. Merriam-Webster defines fascism as "a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition".

A recent definition is that by Robert O. Paxton:

"Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victim-hood 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."

So essentially you can't be a fascist unless you have a country and an economy. You can, however, be a religious fundamentalist/extremist without a nation, but you still must be able to finance your revolution.

But the Republican party, its own hoary alliance with Christian fundamentalists -- and yes, extremists -- together with the billions in US corporate largesse, fits the definition perfectly. And believe it: Bush knows a fascist when he hosts one.

Simply put (for you conservatives still having trouble understanding), the Islamic fundamentalists attack us because they want us out of the Middle East. It's not just about oil or money or power; they reject our commercialism because they fear Islam losing its influence to the siren song of Western fashion, electronic gadgets, cinema, music, and vices. And because they want revenge for what (they perceive) we have done to the region and the religion.

But back to the Fascists. I know; let's ask someone who actually was a Fascist for his definition. Hey, Benito Mussolini:

"Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power."

What do you have to say about this, Sinclair Lewis?

"When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."

Here's more from the AP:

Dennis Ross, a Mideast adviser to both the first Bush and Clinton administrations and now the director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said he would have chosen different words.

"The 'war on terror' has always been a misnomer, because terrorism is an instrument, it's not an ideology. So I would always have preferred it to be called the 'war with radical Islam,' not with Islam but with 'radical Islam,'" Ross said.

Why even mention the religion? "Because that's who they are," Ross said. "Fascism had a certain definition. Whether they meet this or not, one thing is clear: They're radical. They represent a completely radical and intolerant interpretation of Islam."

While "fascism" once referred to the rigid nationalistic one-party dictatorship first instituted in Italy, it has "been used very loosely in all kinds of ways for a long time," said Wayne Fields, a specialist in presidential rhetoric at Washington University in St. Louis.

"Typically, the Bush administration finds its vocabulary someplace in the middle ground of popular culture. It seems to me that they're trying to find something that resonates, without any effort to really define what they mean," Fields said.

Naah, that can't be true, Mr. Fields. (Can it?) So how long has this been going on, Mr. President?

"The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the large centers has owned the government of the U.S. since the days of Andrew Jackson."

That was FDR, not GWB. Another US president:

"I hope we shall... crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

Thomas Jefferson said that. In 1816. Once more from the original source:

Stephen J. Wayne, a professor of government at Georgetown University, suggested White House strategists "probably had a focus group and they found the word 'fascist.'

"Most people are against fascists of whatever form. By definition, fascists are bad. If you're going to demonize, you might as well use the toughest words you can," Wayne said.

Remember who the real fascists are as you hear this phrase repeated over and over again in the coming days and weeks.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Fixing the vote (and then fixing that)

Stephen Pizzo writes:

If you can watch this entire video and still use an electronic voting machine, you deserve the government you get. If your state or district has decided to use electronic voting machines this November demand an absentee ballot today. Watch this video. Then join those of us who have decided that since paper was good enough for our Constitution, it's good enough for our vote too.
Oh, and when you're done watching the whole video... pass it along. November is only a few weeks off and the last thing Republicans want to see is either house returned to Democratic control. Because if that happens, hearings happen. And if hearings happen... well, who knows - someone(s) could go to jail. So demand a paper ballot or an absentee ballot in Nov. and leave the cheaters with a pocket full of worthless Diebold electrons.

Here's a partial transcript if you don't have time to watch right now...

Are there computer programs that can be used to secretly fix elections?


How do you know that to be the case?

Because in October of 2000, I wrote a prototype for Congressman Tom Feeney [R-FL]...

It would rig an election?

It would flip the vote, 51-49. Whoever you wanted it to go to and whichever race you wanted to win.

And would that program that you designed, be something that elections officials... could detect?

They'd never see it.

Two recent Houston Chronicle editorials detailed the concerns of fraudulent vote processing associated with Hart Intercivic's e-Slates, the DRE voting machines in use in Harris County and throughout the state. First, Stan Merriman wrote:

When the Hart voting systems were acquired in 2001, voters in Harris County thought they were being treated to the "latest and greatest" in voting system technology. This electronic system replaced a punch card system (remember hanging chads?) with the belief that we needed to enter the electronic age in the electoral process while also meeting emerging federal guidelines to simplify the voting process for our disabled citizens. ...

In the 2002 election some strange "vote flipping" incidents occurred that actually resulted in the temporary sequestering of machines reported as malfunctioning. The problem occurred with votes cast for senatorial candidates Ron Kirk and John Cornyn "flipping" to both rival party candidates. Lawyers were dispatched to scratch their heads over the cause and effect. No resolution of the situation was achieved.

This same anomaly occurred in the Kerry/Bush presidential election in 2004 in Harris County. Once again, the matter was dismissed as a "glitch" of no consequence and blamed on improper voter use. ...

In all, 1,218 voting machine complaints were filed in Texas in the 2004 general election with People For The American Way's Election Protection Division. In Harris County, 2,400 voting machine complaints were filed with a national voting advocacy group during that election.

In addition to these complaints, others were filed in Collin, Travis, Bexar and Wichita counties. Complaints included vote "transfers" (Kerry/Bush evidenced the same phenomenon reported in the 2002 and 2004 election in Harris County), lost votes, and machine and memory card failures. For the 2004 election, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Verified Voting Foundation received more complaints from Harris County than from any other voting jurisdiction in the nation.

And the Chronicle editorial board wrote:

"If folks can hack the Pentagon," Harris County Democratic Chairman Gerry Birnberg said, "they can certainly hack a machine in Harris County."

County Clerk Beverly Kaufman, a Republican, says such concerns are unfounded. "There's this kind of cavalier attitude on these folks' part that all you've got to do is just bolt on a printer and there it is," said Kaufman, who estimates that it would cost up to $8 million to buy equipment and reprogram the system with the capability to print ballots in three languages. "We're just not at a point here where we're able to do it if we wanted to, which we don't."

Well, we're just going to have to fix this, Bev. And we're going to do so first by replacing you with someone who does.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Hola, Ernesto

No esta bienvenido aqui. Vaya se.

Update (8/27): "There will be probably be a restrengthening after it leaves the Cuban coast to a Category 2, and Wednesday night it will be west of Fort Myers as Category 3. That's the current thinking," (Ron) Goodman (a forecaster at the National Hurricane Center) said.

Update (8/28): Ernesto has heeded my warnings; he has veered so far to the east, away from Houston and New Orleans, that his dirty side appears ready to deliver an upper cut to Miami. He now poses a greater threat to the eastern US seaboard than to anything in the Gulf. With so much of the Florida peninsula to traverse, his impact will (hopefully) be greatly and quickly diminished.