Sunday, July 29, 2007

Slouching toward Gomorrah…or Fascism?

In 1996 former Supreme Court nominee, Robert H. Bork, authored his dystopian vision of modern Western society, “Slouching toward Gomorrah”. A thumbnail sketch of that book’s thesis, according to Wikipedia:

“Bork's thesis in the book is that American and more generally Western culture is in a state of decline and that the cause of this decline is modern liberalism and the rise of the New Left. Specifically, he attacks modern liberalism for what he describes as its dual emphases on radical egalitarianism and radical individualism.”
It is indisputable that Bork and his like-minded cohort, virtually all of the hard reich wing and neocons, detest the very idea of egalitarianism for this, of necessity, diminishes their perception of their own imagined superiority. Individualism is perceived as being fine for the exalted class (of course, Bork and his fellow travelers belong to this class) while it is anathema for the unwashed masses. This goes almost without saying.

For Bork and his reich wing cohort, egalitarianism is fine among those in the ‘lower classes’, however, it should never even be suggested that there is any equality whatsoever between the lumpenproletariat and the ‘masters of the universe’ class to which the reich wing belong.

Just as the concept of egalitarianism is all well and good (as long as it is confined strictly and solely to the lumpenproletariat), the concept of individualism is to be kept as the strict domain of the uber class. Yes, it is all well and good to be ‘quirky’, ‘peculiar’, ‘idiosyncratic’ or ‘unpredictable’ if one is a member of the anointed ‘elite’, however, to even try to imagine oneself as a unique and valuable entity for one of the despised lumpenproletariat is heresy of the highest order. If members of the lumpenproletariat began to see and value themselves as individuals deserving of value and respect, why chaos would ensue! It would become ever so much more difficult for the ‘elite’ managerial class to sell whatever predigested pablum to the masses that was in the ‘elite’s’ interest.

Rather than ‘slouching toward Gomorrah’, as Bork suggests, it seems far more evident that we are, as a nation and a society, ‘slouching toward fascism’. As was pointed out by the father of modern fascism, Benito Mussolini:

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

In the minds of the ├╝ber class, every combination of corporate power is to be applauded, nay, even aided by the State at each and every turn. Massive state sponsored corporate welfare, relaxation of any and all regulations, even the selection of ‘corporate leaders’ to head governmental regulatory agencies and boards is to be celebrated. However, the very thought of allowing, permitting or enabling members of the lumpen to in any way combine to better their lot, be it through unions, collective bargaining or any other conceivable means of self organization is simply beyond the pale.

As is obvious to any who have eyes to see and a mind to cogitate, at least since the time of Reagan, the American society has been going ‘back to the future’. Hard won workers’ rights have been eviscerated, anti-monopoly statutes have either been repealed or simply remain totally unenforced. The Supreme Court, at least since the Burger court, has been drifting reichward. Since the ascension of Rehnquist, followed now by Roberts and with the addition of Alito, that reichward drift has become a very sharp turn to starboard indeed. Individual rights, workers’ rights, minority rights have all suffered severely. Under Rehnquist and Roberts, the rights of property, capital and the State have far outpaced and displaced the rights of workers’, minorities and the common man.

So, the cogent question is, are we ‘slouching toward Gomorrah’ or have we been ‘slouching toward fascism’? To this writer, that ‘slouching toward fascism’ has turned into an all out sprint.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Scooter and Martha and Paris, Oh My!
An examination of ‘justice’ for the rich and especially the powerful

Unless one were in a coma over the last 3 months it would be impossible to miss the myriad stories on Paris Hilton, especially the manufactured furor over her release from jail after a total of one day. Many of the loudest haranguers were from the retributive punitive conservatives, oddly enough, the very same group who howled the loudest over Scooter Libby’s conviction and applauded the loudest at the commutation of his sentence.

What is often missed in all the fulminating over the ‘light’ treatment of Paris Hilton is the following:
  1. The ‘crime’ for which Paris was convicted was a misdemeanor; literally, “An offense less serious than a felony.”;
  2. Paris was jailed for ‘operating a vehicle on a suspended license’; not DWI, not for an accident involving property damage or personal injury;
  3. With the immense and intense degree of jail overcrowding, it is illogical to jail someone who poses virtually no danger of flight.
  4. A sentence of ‘home detention’ would have been more than sufficient a punishment, especially for a notorious ‘party girl’ who would have been put ‘out of the loop’ for the time of her detention.
In the case of Martha Stewart the ‘common knowledge’ is that she was convicted and imprisoned for violating SEC rules. Of course, like the large percent of the American public who still believe that Saddam Hussein was guilty of either planning or funding the 911 terrorists, this ‘common knowledge’ is wrong. What Martha Stewart was actually convicted of was of lying to the FBI. This was not lying to a grand jury. This was not perjury on the stand. In both those cases, the offense is lying while under oath! In Martha’s case, the misstatements or lies were made to the FBI during an interview; not in a deposition, not a court action, but an interview with the FBI. As opposed to depositions and court actions, Martha did not have a chance to review her records and could, very plausibly, have made a mistake in recollection, a defense far less plausible in a deposition, grand jury appearance or a trial.

In the case of the infamous Scooter Libby, he was actually convicted of multiple instances of perjury and obstruction of justice. The reichwing echo chamber’s spurious claim that ‘there was no underlying crime’ is simply fallacious and fanciful. By that self same standard, the perjury which formed the basis for the impeachment of Bill Clinton was indeed perjury which did not rest on any ‘underlying crime’. The lie in deposition of Bill Clinton was of a personal nature and involved a consensual sexual encounter and there was no crime or possible crime that this lie was made to obscure. Scooter Libby, by contrast, lied under oath to a grand jury so as to obstruct a criminal investigation and so committed repeated acts of perjury which are felonies.

Bush’s commutation of Scooter Libby is a continuation of Scooter’s obstruction of justice. Now that Scooter has been freed of the possibility of becoming 350 lb. Bubba’s girlfriend in prison, he has absolutely no motivation to reveal the identities of those above him in the chain of command who were involved in or perhaps even initiated the release of top secret information the release of which seriously compromised national security.

In summation what we see is that simply being rich and notorious, like Paris Hilton and Martha Stewart, is not sufficient to have relatively innocuous charges treated appropriately. In fact, the notoriety of the two women may well have led to their cases being treated disproportionately harshly. In Paris’s case we have a bubble headed bleached blonde being treated like a hardened criminal. In Martha’s case we have a high visibility, powerful woman who, interestingly enough, was a Democrat, being treated much more harshly than Republican ‘white collar’ criminals whose crimes were far more egregious and resulted in far wider damage to the public at large. In the case of I. Scooter Libby, convicted of multiple serious felonies, the underlying crimes that he was perjuring himself to cover seriously damaging the intelligence community and national security, he will get to go scot-free; not even serving as much jail time as Paris did even at the time of her first, premature, release.

So, the motto must be: “Being rich is wonderful. Being famous is nice. Knowing where the bodies are buried…priceless!”
Byzantine Blog