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September 25, 2008

Just How Vicious, Greedy And Stupid Are We?

Jonah Goldberg posts this email from a reader:


I’m in my 40s. My IRAs and 401Ks are in the toilet and will take years to recover. We still have a ways to go on the DJIA before it approaches post-9/11, but I have faith we can get down there without much effort. Between me and my wife and 2 kids, we are on the hook for $40k for the bailout...

Based on this, I would wonder what planet we were living on if I heard McCain or Obama Friday night waxing poetic about reengaging North Korea to re-give up their nuclear ambitions, who was for the surge before the other guy was against it, or what to do about Iran, or Georgia or Chavez for that matter. My tolerance for these crackpots is nil. My tolerance for questions about what are now abstractions is even less. Our adversaries are creating additional crisis and are engaged in a defacto war already. Cancel the debate and earn your paycheck as a US Senator first. Secure the financial system. As to the foreign policy—the zeitgeist could be turning away from nuance and a lot more people could be ready to kick a little tail. The mood is changing and people are ticked. We don’t have an enemy like we had on 9/12 in this case, but I pity the next tin-pot that pushes a little too hard.

And then Goldberg updates the post with another email in response:

Amen! Amen! Amen!

Sometimes I think I’m alone and then I see an entry like this and I think – Thank God.

Holy crap. It's at moments like this I fervently pray I'm correct that America is too fat for fascism. But even if we are, we're not too fat for Timothy McVeigh X 10, particularly with a black-Arab-Muslim president.

Speaking of which: I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess both of Goldberg's confused, angry monkeys are white.

(via Cunning Realist)

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at September 25, 2008 09:07 PM

I live in Venezuela. I will remember to keep plenty of bottles of drinking water on hand in case these guys are right. Nice to think of my city being blown up because the local tinpot "pushed a little too hard." Even nicer to imagine the reaction from (currently just "visiting") Russian air force.

The U.S.A. gets the leadership it deserves. Sarah Palin should have been at the top of the ticket.

Posted by: hedgehog at September 25, 2008 11:02 PM

I know I'm too fat for fascism, but the stupidity of some people still amazes me.

Still, the bailout talk and all the smart people on teevee who know what's best for us make me wonder what the actual sentiment of people out there is, with respect to the meltdown.

Didn't anybody watch Ahmedinejad talk to the UN the other day about the waning of US empire and wonder,

"wait a minute: why is this guy supposed to be a nut?"

Posted by: Jonathan Versen at September 25, 2008 11:59 PM

Jonathan, you know how that works. Just as Bush was always good at showing how lousy Saddam was, Chavez and Ahmadinejad (and in finer moments probably Putin) are good at poking holes in U.S. imperialism. That doesn't make them sane or helpful. The day I hear these guys apply that level of critical thinking to their own regimes (which, by the way, they have nearly complete power over), they will rise in my estimation.

Posted by: hedgehog at September 26, 2008 12:51 AM

I have had some issues with the whole BAILOUT thing going on. I do not like the fact that we have not been shown any prof just how bad it is. Why should we trust these fools any more to just go on their word? If it was you or I needeing a loan we would have to show them everything and I ask this why are they not held to the same standard as we are?

Posted by: GWIZARD at September 26, 2008 01:53 AM

"...we have not been shown any proof just how bad it is."

That's because no one seems to know about this:

I just found it this afternoon. I don't know who Weiz Research is, but this pdf contains more facts in it's 24 pages than I've heard in the media in 10 years.

Read it and weep.

Posted by: steve at September 26, 2008 02:11 AM

make that Weiss Research

Posted by: steve at September 26, 2008 02:14 AM

And here I thought Roubini was the very fringe of respectable doom.

Posted by: buermann at September 26, 2008 04:59 AM


I believe Ahmadinejad does not have "Supreme Leader" status, Khamenei does.

Posted by: StO at September 26, 2008 06:39 AM

Well, that little document just went into my Yojimbo database.

Posted by: Mike at September 26, 2008 07:53 AM

"The day I hear these guys apply that level of critical thinking to their own regimes"

O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us
An foolish notion:
What airs in dress an gait wad lea'es us,
An ev'n devotion!

"(which, by the way, they have nearly complete power over)"
Ahmedinejad doesn't. He was voted in, but has little power compared to the religious leaders.

Posted by: me at September 26, 2008 07:56 AM

If Hermann Goering wasn't too fat for fascism, you're not!
Start marching. Links, rechts, links, but mostly rechts.

Posted by: donescobar at September 26, 2008 09:11 AM

"Just How Vicious, Greedy And Stupid Are We?

I guess 'we' are gonna find out, nest paw? Nothing will surprise me. Empires seldom recede gracefully, never gladly.

I'm glad I never had kids...

Posted by: woody, tokin librul at September 26, 2008 09:21 AM

Sapito hedgehog:

Yes, Ahmadinejad = Chavez. As I said a few weeks ago in my post to your blog, you haven't lived in Venezuela long enough. Show me the opposition being beaten up and the students being harassed and persecuted in Venezuela (last thing I read was one of them getting asylum from the Vatican after being charged with trying to rape a female cop and another one that got $ 500,000 from the Friedmanites at Cato Institute threatening to set Caracas on fire) and I'll believe you.

Just because Chavez's rethoric is sometimes over the top doesn't mean he's insane. What he is really is a Master in the art of manipulating the masses. I happen to think his manipulation is mostly positive. He gets carried away sometimes, but in Venezuela, who doesn't?


Posted by: Pepito at September 26, 2008 09:53 AM

There is a quote by Dr. Howard Zinn that stuck me: “If people naturally want to go to war, why is there always a propaganda campaign to get them to go to war?” I don’t know if that’s the exact quote but it struck me at the time. Dr. Zinn was arguing against the notion that people are warlike creatures and that war is inevitable as a result. From my own experience and knowledge of history, in the context of foreign wars, Dr. Zinn is correct but it takes little if anything to get someone to fight his or her neighbor. People may not be predetermined to go somewhere far away and fight for abstract principles or a vague threat but they seem more than willing to fight the person down the street if they somehow perceive that person of being any of a threat. There is usually propaganda involved to be sure but in these circumstances it seems to me that the propaganda involved is quite a bit less then would cause the fervor for warring against one’s neighbor.

When at most thirty members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in Harpers Ferry West Virginia and over a hundred people for around local area come to watch in favor and about forty people from further away come to protest the Klan, fascism is a real threat in America. It is my uneducated guess that most Americans don’t support fascism in the sense of beating up and lynching the fag and the spic but it is clear that a large portion, likely a majority, of American’s don’t favor equal rights for homosexuals and Hispanics. My sense of the prevailing attitude is that it will take some work but not a lot to move people from one level to the other.

I think the current wall street support plan will avoid a system changing crisis and instead postpone that crisis to 5+-2 years down the road. At that time America will go through another period of fundamentally changing from one capitalist system to another that it does every 30 years or so. There are a lot of possibilities of what the new system will be including both of the extremes seen in the United State and Germany during the 1930’s. For someone like me the question is how to best avoid the fascist solution.

Perhaps the best way to do so would be for Senator Barack Obama to start advocating for a liberal remake of the capitalist system today. If he would point out the shallowness of this solution, and how it only postpones the inevitable crisis, if he would point out that we will have to deal with the problems in our current system at some point, including excessive levels of credit, and that the longer we wait the more painful it becomes, if he would appeal to the American People to support a sane economy that strives to work for the average person, if he would be realistic and argue that it makes sense to switch to such a system now even if the next couple of years will be more painful than they are now but the longer we wait the more painful the inevitable switch will be, not only will he win handedly (similar to Governor Regan’s defeat of President Carter) but this will also stave of fascism for now.

This isn’t going to happen. America could luck out and fascists may not be able to accomplish the campaigning needed to bring about fascism within the next decade or so (if Senator Obama wins the election and doesn’t significantly and actually change the economic course of our nation and the system changing crisis happens with him in the White House and/or shortly after he leaves, the fascists will have a large propaganda tool). The odds may be against fascists actually motivating enough people to bring about fascism within the next decade or so but I think the odds are good enough that people need to be concerned about the possibility. The question for me is that what can I do and encourage others to do if this worst case scenario unfolds.

My solution may not be the best but it is the best that I have come up with. I need to be willing to stand up for democracy; I need to be willing to shed blood, sweat, and tears for democracy without being willing to draw these from the fascists; I need to be willing to die for what I believe in but not be willing to kill for what I believe. I need to do these things and hope that there are enough people who are with me and hope that the media isn’t under enough fascist pressure and has enough humanity left to accurately portray the inevitable struggles between me and people like me with the fascists and the government. I also need to do what I can convince people to be willing to stand up to fascism without doing so by using fascist tactics.

As it stands right now, most people I know who realize the threat and who are ready to combat fascism are willing to give up their democratic principles in order to do so. If this happens and the media is giving an accurate portrayal, those combating fascism have lost all moral ground in the tactics used it the struggle and thus public sympathy for our side. The public will be forced to choose between open fascists and open socialist, communists, and anarchists, and the public will see no differences in how these groups act. I fear the direction the public will chose in this case. I think that the only way to get the masses of the people to fight with the radical leftists against fascism is to demonstrate that the radical leftists are the ones that hold to democratic principles at all times and thus gain the public’s sympathy.

America is not to fat for fascism. Right now the fascist motivation in America is not enough to overcome the laziness of Americans but that can easily change. If it does then America will slim down to the point that it can effectively be fascist. This is enough of a possibility that people need to be prepared to do what is necessary to effectively combat fascism. Fascism is defiantly possible in America and it is my responsibility to prepare for that possibility.

Posted by: Benjamin A. Schwab at September 26, 2008 10:50 AM

I'm a little puzzled by talk of "system change." I'd guess 98% of Americans don't talk about and don't give a damn about "system."
The vast majority want enough for what they consider the basics (job, house, health, food + clothing schooling and some entertainment.)(
About 5-10% want that in spades, or big condo, second home on the Cape, private schools and Ivy education, $3-7M for retirement etc etc)
And it came to pass. And now it seems to collapsing.
Most people will live under any system, unexamined for the most part, if those "basics" are provided. The people in the US who created our "system," primarily to meet their ambitions and desires, will dEtermine how the next, "new and imroved" version looks, good for a shelf life of ---- years. And all will adjust, those on the bottom much more so than those at the top. And all will say that the "system" works because no blood was spilled and two representatives from the system supposedly duked it out to be its figurehead.
So, my follower Americans, what else is new?

Posted by: donescobar at September 26, 2008 11:31 AM

I think historians are going to puzzle over this. Bush seems to have lost his fine hand going into the bailout thing. Surely he must have known that only, only if his crowd was promised bloodshed would they go along with throwing a few extra trillion into the national debt. How, historians will ask, could the Master from Crawford have forgotten the lessons of history?

Is it too late? Can't we connect this bailout with the necessity to attack, say, Yemen? There was that embassy thingy a couple of days ago. Surely the Yemen government, even as I write this, is creating anthrax nuclear bombs, a deadly combo that could fit in a backpack - well, say a backpack the size of the old Met's stadium - and be carried on a plane! Now, there are those who want to appease this threat and oppose rescuing our American banks. And then there are those who don't want to be dominated by Yemeni tribal leaders, and isn't one of those tribes named the O-B'ami?

I guess Dick Cheney is tired. He's done good work here. Lucifer is calling him to another planet. Otherwise, we'd surely have a better rush to pilfer the citizenry.

Posted by: roger at September 26, 2008 07:45 PM

The US "too fat for fascism"? I don't know about you, but I've noticed over the past quarter century that an awful lot of jocks/cops/troops have decidedly right-wing leanings, and there are lots of them. I've learned to expect right-wing attitudes whenever I see a bodybuilder or a jock or a cop in the US. Those are the people that would be the street-level bedrock of US fascism.

Posted by: deang at September 26, 2008 08:05 PM

Why hasn't anyone addressed the fact that the US can't afford to kick anyone else's tail, due to the very financial meltdown that that stupid chump was talking about.

Posted by: thwap at September 27, 2008 09:19 PM

Mr. Thwap


"Why hasn't anyone addressed the fact that the US can't afford to kick anyone else's tail, due to the very financial meltdown that that stupid chump was talking about."

That can change very quickly. Once a large group of people are properly motivated and determined they can be capable of great displays of power (or anything else that's expensive) in a rather short period of time.

If you could travel back in time to 1932 and claim that Germany will have nearly all of Europe under military domination in a decade, nobody except the very few who knew what they were talking about would believe you.

Also I would be remiss in not pointing out that finances has never stopped this nation from going to war before.

Posted by: Benjamin A. Schwab at September 28, 2008 10:45 PM

Recently heard Naomi Wolf (she's on a book tour) make a strong case that we're marching into the jaws of fascism. She describes the characteristics of a "closing society" she detected by studying a batch of them. Check. Check. Check--right down the list.

She also says people standing up can stop it. Her newest book apparently lays out some strategies--or are those tactics? She also says the final weeks leading up to an election are the most dangerous time.

And she says a lot of other really interesting things. Can't recommend her highly enough. See her post about Evita Palin on Huffington Post, for example.

Posted by: OppEd at September 30, 2008 10:31 PM