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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

WASHINGTON — The deficit that should most worry us is a deficit of reasonableness. The problems the United States confronts are large but not insoluble. Yet sensible solutions that are broadly popular can’t be enacted.

Why? Because an ideological bloc that sees every crisis as an opportunity to reduce the size of government holds enough power in Congress to stop us from doing what needs to be done.

  • freethinker

    It apparently hasn’t crossed E.J. Dionne’s mind that, just maybe, the writer is viewing the world from too far left which would make even a real centrist party appear to be right wing. If all you can do is talk about ‘right-wing’ without inclusion of ‘left-wing’, there is a good chance you are too far left to be objective.

  • AnnaSolomon

    Fourteen Defining
    Characteristics Of Fascism
    By Dr. Lawrence Britt
    Source Free

    Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

    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. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

    6. Controlled Mass Media – Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is 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 and letters is openly attacked.

    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.

  • valszy

    The most frightening aspect of this how many of the fourteen are in full force in the U.S. today. Patriotism and Religion, the two most damaging philosophies in the history of humankind.

  • csbrudy

    A third party is a disaster waiting to happen. The only way out is for everybody else to register Democratic, take over the party in the primaries, then toss out all the corporate minions, starting with the Republicans and ending with the Democratic Blue Dogs. Then, we could get back to the New Deal with higher taxes on the rich, even as we reduce our absurdly huge military budgets.

  • doc4cd1

    No Ralph Nader in 2000, no George Bush for eight years. PLEASE think about that. Nader won enought “protest” votes to swing the election and, in many ways, poison the nation for over a decade.

    We need to focus on the Radical Reactionaries that have convinced a small, but vocal number of the electorate that the Reactionaries are really on their side. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Fourteen Tenets of Fascism are how this is being pulled off. Wake up America….there is a movement afoot to eliminate the Middle Class and return us to those thrilling days of yester-year…the Lone Fascista rides again (if the reference is too obtuse ask your parents or, better yet, ask your grandparents).

    Keep up the good work Mr. Dionne, the sleeping giant that is the American Electorate needs a sharp kick in the side (or should I say a-s).

  • boba

    We need to change our voting process to ‘Instant Runoff’ where you rank order your candidate choices and votes are repeatedly tabulated, eliminating the low vote count candidates until someone has a majority. You could then truly vote your top choice which might be a ‘third party’ candidate and your vote would still count after that candidate is eliminated and your second (or third, or fourth, etc) choice becomes your top choice. As long as we only can vote for one candidate, we are stuck with a two party system.

  • terango.lf

    While my proposal may seem of point, think about how a third Party could prevail and not cause the splits as the do at the National level:
    Can WV. State law (or any state) dictate the terms of campaign finance for their own U.S. House of Representative members? Can WV. force their own U.S. house representatives to only accept constituency monies from their own districts? Moreover, by doing so can we, the representative client, the simple citizen, actually be the lobbying influence foremost in our representatives mind. Perhaps, regaining the reins of power from wealthy out of state congressional interlopers; that most of the time has an agenda, running counter to our own interests. Then hopefully, the common American can reap the benefits of a more Jeffersonian form of representation.

    True U.S. congressional finance reform
    The U.S. Constitution Bill of Rights 1st Amendment says that the people may lobby their government for change and redress. So does limiting our representatives to only accept campaign funds from their constituency, really limit the “people” from lobbing their government? I believe the constitution says nothing of campaign money when any reference is made to lobbying. The exact words are “to petition the government for a redress of grievances”, nothing about using money is said. Therefore, by default the Bill of Rights Tenth Amendment should allow States to regulate this shade of gray corrupting our “American Dream”; what was once a grand experiment of humanity, now gone horribly wrong.
    This and this alone, could defang the National Oligarchy. The diffuse number of votes would then be more valuable to those that live in the perspective districts. Our 1/435th congressional vote and our 2/100th senatorial vote(s) will truly wield some political power. It would then force all those lobbyists’ clients to come to our districts, to our communities, to open up shop to establish residency in some form or fashion and convince us the voters, that this is what I want my vote cast for. This would include any…any special interest group; banks, Wall Street, social interest groups, corporations, wealthy trusts of all kinds.
    Imagine the strength your small congressional vote would carry when they have to be physically in your district if they want to use money for (yours-or-theirs) influence upon your congressional representative or senator. The charity events, the community gifts such as parks, schools, other civic improvements, and maybe, just maybe corporations would actually be manipulated into opening business satellites in nowhere districts to be qualified to lobby our representative. Deny the powerful & wealthy lobbyists’ clients one stop shopping in Washington D.C. for working on a majority vote. Obviously, these clients would not invest in all 435 districts; however, they would have to lobby 220 or so districts to win legislation. The overlap in districts between these lobbying clients could go a long way to spread the wealth and influence around the country. Because they would be forbidden to contribute to campaigns in the central government setting, politics would have a chance to become local once again.
    Corruption will always be present in any money driven enterprise. However, when all contributions have to be personally presented within a representatives district, transparent-see will have a better chance to survive, because people would actually have a chance through proximity to “rub shoulders” with (and possibly confront) both the representative and campaign contributor. This would be especially so for the local oligarchic wealth, people would have a chance of knowing how these people are connected to affluence because they perhaps now know who they are.
    This system would still allow lobbyists, corporations and individuals to petition your representative or anyone else’s representative at the Capital in Washington D.C., thus allowing the people access to petition their national government as before. No one can deny these special interests access to anyone else’s representative or ours. It is just that lobbyists would have to sell their ideas and legislation, at the National level, and not be able to purchase, as they did before. Lobbyists could still wine/dine, luncheon, or have breakfast with representatives, it is just that they would have to contribute campaign monies physically in the representatives district and only if they qualified as a resident or business interest of said district.
    House Representatives would and should still “horse trade” votes with one another to form collations that would move legislation forward and I believe it would improve these congressional collations by house members, because it would probably lead to regional relationships vs. partisan relationships.
    This is the crux of my proposal…controlling the money locally used to influence and write law at the national level. But is this legal? I don’t know if it is for myself…cause I aint no constitutional scholar. The reason that I believe we can do this, is that all States exclusively conduct all elections; local or national. So, if we can do that, why can’t we control the occupational position we filled. Article II Section III states, “The Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments”… “Judgment in cases of impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit under the United States: but the party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to indictment trial, judgment and punishment, according to law”. I think this says we the electorate cannot fire our representative, the Senate has to. However, we can give cause for impeachment by arrest and conviction by using a body of laws the state can impose on the congressman and senators that represent us.
    Why not set the occupational policies that reflect what the majority of us are expected to comply with and have to endure? Let’s start with a 40 hr work week while in session. As our employee, it would not matter that congress is closed on Monday and Friday, our representative would be on the clock at his office working directly with his staff. If our representative worked IN THE CAPITOL BUILDING over 40 hours (verifiable by time a clock) then maybe we could let him have some comp time for long weekends at home. When Congress is not in session, then the representative would have to work 30 hours a week in his district office, being available to his constituents for lobbying and working with staff to craft legislation. We could also directly control our representatives’ ethics, with real penalties imposed through either public referendum or State laws that would be prosecutable in our state court system, not those corrupt, toothless, cronies, “Do Nothing” congressional and senatorial ethics committees.
    Furthermore, we could dictate how much the state and national political parties can contribute to our U.S. House of Representatives. Perhaps limiting political parties to only matching $0.50 to $1.00 of the locally contributed monies. We could also enact our own laws disclosing every penny given or used in all our elections. This would greatly reduce the obligation of our representatives to participate in fundraisers for the National Parties and Political Action Committees
    I think that a majority of Appalachians (or any regional citizen group) do not care if their representative look like a million dollars, this is not what we see when we look in the mirror. Other representatives might look like a million dollars, and that is ok if their district is full of millionaires, but not ours (we do have Jay Rockefeller, but he has been slumming it here for thirty years or more). One representative may look wealthy and the other look like a Hill Billy, but their vote has the same value; 1/435th or 1/100th of deciding an issue. So why do we allow BIG money to cheapen the value of our representative vote.
    Additionally, multi-national corporations, as with all corporations are legally individuals, endowed with all the rights of any citizen, and so they are entitled to representation and being able to lobby the government as we can. With district-controlled finances, the corporations would not be able to buy 10, 20, 40…218 congressional votes at one time. They too would be required to buy influence in the home districts of their legal residency and wielding the same 1/435th or 1/100th representative vote, the same as you or I. Bringing back the politically incorrect phrase “one man, one vote” could be said with a fair and equitable taste to be savored. Focusing that “free speech equals money” or “money equals free speech” argument into a whole another arena: the home district. Perhaps then, “We the People” would have a more level playing field and a greater voice in policies.

  • G Schmidt

    I must confess that I am a Moderate Republican that voted for Obama in 2000. Back then it was not an easy choice as I do not like his politics or his background from Chicago, but for me it was the lesser of 2 bad choices (not having Romney to vote for I really wanted Hillary to win the democratic nomination instead) I liked Mc Cain, but the one that ran against Bush in 1992, not the one that picked Sara Palin as a running mate.

    I do not feel the Republican party represents me anymore and I do not think I can ever be a Democrat (I like effective small government that do not interfere in people liberties unless those affect somebody’s else, do not like government employee unions and excessive unemployment/welfare/DI Benefits that lots of people are abusing beyond reasonable)

    There is a need for a third party that represent people like me.(no welfare state or no religious right wing corporate rule either) If that leads to a Republican right wing control of government for a period, (I doubted since Republicans are now as divided as Democrats) so be it

  • rustacus21

    …above the fear & empty monologues, Liberals just do government BETTER. Bill Clinton didn’t want to offend anyone. President Obama appears fearful to speak the name! But neither are Conservative, so what’s the problem? FDR, w/the best cabinet of the CENTURY (w/T.R., Kennedy, Clinton & Eisenhower running closely behind), and an acknowledged Liberal, saving the country, Carter, a definant Liberal, doing his best w/the worst a president has been dealt since the Truman admin., then Clinton, dealing w/the worst national crisis since the Depression (to that point, anyway), were all able to make head-way & put the nation back together. W/Liberal – NOT – I SAY NOT!!!- Conservative policies! Oddly, Conservatives come right behind each of them & screw up EVERYTHING!!! What do we think is their habit? Pattern? M.O.? Want? Desire? Ability? History? They into sabotage. Treason. Sedition. Look at the record. They hate America! Liberals simply need to stand tall for the nation yet again!