posted December 31, 2005 by G.L. Jeff

G.L. JeffG.L. Jeff's Sober award this year goes to-

The Declaration of Independance

and here's why

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,–That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." So at least we have an out. I almost said pot. The recent moves toward decriminalizing marijuana are truly groundbreaking. 5 states and one major city now hold only the smallest of penalties for possesion even in rather large amounts. Score one for admitting we made a mistake as a culture in maintaining prohibition. This year has been characterized by people who were way wrong, not admitting that they were, in fact, wrong at all. This of course brings me to my BENDER.

G.L. Jeffs Bender of the year- George W. Bush and the undeniable march toward an American facist state

All fascist regimes show the following characteristics:

1. Powerful and continuing expressions of nationalism. From the prominent display of flags and bunting to the ubiquitous lapel pins, the fervor to show patriotic nationalism, both on the part of the regime itself and of citizens caught up in its frenzy, are always obvious. Catchy slogans, pride in the military, and demands for unity are common themes in expressing this nationalism. It is usually coupled with a suspicion, bordering on xenophobia, of foreign countries.

2. Disdain for the importance of human rights. The regimes themselves view human rights as of little value and a hindrance to realizing the objectives of the ruling elite. Through clever use of propaganda, the population is brought to accept these human rights abuses by marginalizing, even demonizing, those being targeted -- using secrecy, denial, and disinformation.

3. National emergencies/tragedies as a unifying cause (the Reichstag fire in fascist Germany, for example). One common thread among fascist regimes is the use of national emergencies as a means of diverting the people's attention from other problems, to shift blame for failures, and to channel frustration in controlled directions. The methods of choice -- relentless propaganda and disinformation -- are usually effective. Active opponents of these regimes are inevitably labeled as unpatriotic and dealt with accordingly.

4. The supremacy of the military/avid militarism. Ruling elites always identify closely with the military and the industrial infrastructure that supports it. A disproportionate share of national resources are allocated to the military, even when domestic needs are acute. The military is seen as an expression of nationalism, and is used whenever possible to assert national goals, intimidate other nations, and increase the power and prestige of the ruling elite.

5. Rampant sexism. Beyond the simple fact that the political elite and the national culture are male-dominated, these regimes inevitably view women as second-class citizens. They are adamantly anti-abortion and also homophobic. These attitudes are usually codified in draconian laws that enjoy strong support by the orthodox religion of the country, thus lending the regime cover for its abuses.

6. A controlled mass media. Under some fascist regimes, the mass media are under control and can be relied upon not to stray far from the party line. Other regimes exercise more subtle power to ensure media orthodoxy. Methods include the control of licensing and access to resources, economic pressure, appeals to patriotism, and implied threats. The leaders of the mass media are often politically compatible with the power elite. The result is usually successful in keeping the general public unaware of the regime's excesses.

7. Obsession with national security. Inevitably, a national security apparatus is under direct control of the ruling elite. It is usually an instrument of oppression, operating in secret and beyond any constraints. Its actions are justified under the rubric of protecting "national security," and questioning its activities is portrayed as unpatriotic or even treasonous.

8. Religion and ruling elite tied together. Most fascist regimes attach themselves to the predominant religion of the country and choose to portray themselves as militant defenders of that religion. The fact that the ruling elite's behavior is incompatible with the precepts of the religion is generally swept under the rug. Propaganda keeps up the illusion that the ruling elites are defenders of the faith and opponents of the "godless." A perception is manufactured that opposing the power elite is tantamount to an attack on religion.

9. Power of corporations protected. Although the personal life of ordinary citizens is under strong control, the ability of large corporations to operate in relative freedom is not compromised. The ruling elite see the corporate structure as a way not only to ensure military production but also as an additional means of social control. Members of the economic elite are often pampered by the political elite to ensure a continued mutuality of interests, especially in the repression of the ordinary citizen.

10. Power of labor suppressed or eliminated. Since organized labor is seen as the one power center that could challenge the political hegemony of the autocracy and their corporate allies, it is inevitably crushed or made powerless. The poor form an underclass, viewed with suspicion or outright contempt.

11. Disdain and suppression of intellectuals and the arts. Intellectuals and the inherent freedom of ideas and expression associated with them are anathema to fascist regimes. Intellectual and academic freedom are considered subversive to national security and the patriotic ideal. Universities are tightly controlled; politically unreliable faculty harassed or eliminated. Unorthodox ideas or expressions of dissent are strongly attacked, silenced, or crushed. To a fascist regime, art and literature should serve the national interest or they have no right to exist.

12. Obsession with crime and punishment. Fascist regimes maintain draconian systems of criminal justice with huge prison populations. The police are often glorified and have almost unchecked power, leading to rampant abuse. "Normal" and political crime are often merged into trumped-up criminal charges and sometimes used against political opponents of the regime. Fear, and hatred, of criminals or "traitors" is often promoted among the population as an excuse for more police power.

13. Rampant cronyism and corruption. Those in business circles and close to the power elite often use their position to enrich themselves. This corruption works both ways: The power elite receive financial gifts and property from the economic elite, who in turn gain the benefit of government favoritism. Members of the power elite are in a position to obtain vast wealth from other sources as well. For example, by stealing national resources. With the national security apparatus under control and the media muzzled, this corruption is largely unconstrained and not well understood by the general population.

14. Fraudulent elections. Elections are usually bogus. When actual elections with candidates are held, they are usually perverted by the power elite to get the desired result. Common methods include maintaining control of the election machinery, intimidating and disenfranchising opposition voters, destroying or disallowing legal votes, and, as a last resort, turning to a judiciary beholden to the power elite.

You make the call!