Undermining the American Dream – Part 4 – Fascism Wins.

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by

Joseph O’Shaughnessy

Once you have committed a crime, it is easier to do it again. That is why gangs initiate their newest young members by having them commit a crime. Their guilt binds them to the group. Gang leaders know that such a person can be made reliable, an unquestioning follower. He, or she, will become a cipher, a slug, an unimaginative, cowardly menial who can be manipulated.

In 2009, when Mitch McConnell told his gang, the Republican Party, that his goal was to make Barack Obama a one-term President, he already knew that he had hundreds of greedy, malevolent Republican politicians ready to do his dirty work. For over a decade at least, he had been the main fundraiser for the Republicans in the Senate, sucking up to the Super-Rich, offering them irresistible deals—tax breaks, reductions in environmental regulations, free rein in handling their depositors money, unlimited interest rates, the creation of transitory health insurance and highly speculative investments.  He had a whole group of Republican politicians who had already proved that they would do anything for money.

How else do you think a small-time Senator from one of the smallest, poorest states in the country could become Republican leader in the Senate?  Mitch McConnell made friends with the Super-Rich, and then found enough venal gang members—House members and Senators, both in the obdurate Confederate southern states and eventually throughout the country and initiated them into criminally scandalous political behavior. McConnell could take money from the Koch brothers and other billionaires, give it to his mindless Republican  followers, buying votes like penny candy—against the American people–until or unless the money ran out.

Eventually the Kochs and the rest of their billionaire pals cut out the middle man and began to elect their own gang members, farther to the Fascist Right than the standard McConnell Republican. The Tea Party Republicans know on which side their croissants are buttered. They vote against any kind of health care, public services and, most of all, relentlessly against taxes and for tax cuts. The Tea Party are the Fascist robots of the Super-Rich.

The Republicans won. They succeeded in defeating the Obama Presidency and the Middle Class, just as McConnell swore to do. His leadership in slowing the recovery from the Great Bush Recession, prevented good jobs and small business from returning, despite the huge suffering it caused. By the time President Barack Obama passed through the White House door, 16 million people had lost their jobs, millions of them for more than two solid years. The Republican-controlled Congress refused to help restore the economy.

Even after years of obstructing jobs bills and small business incentives from receiving a vote in the House or passage in the Senate, the Republicans, in a final malicious act, denied unemployment insurance to a group of 1.3 million families, who though constantly seeking work, were still unemployed and pushed them onto welfare in 2012. McConnell claimed all this was to defeat President Obama. In fact, it was only a continuation of their marching orders from the oligarchs, the Super-rich and the global corporations that they owned. The Fascist Republicans had decided that campaign money was more important than their constituents or average American families.

After a brutal two years of layoffs and foreclosures and bankruptcies, President Obama, with not only no Republican support but active resistance at every turn, passed the Affordable Care Act by one single vote in the House and one vote in the Senate. Only one Republican a House member from Louisiana, voted to make health care delivery for all Americans more reliable and affordable. Every other Republican voted with the health insurance industry.

The Koch brothers joined their brothers-in-arms, the other anti-Middle Class lobbying groups to get out and lie for the insurance companies. They started something called Americans for Prosperity and another called FreedomWorks, repurposed remnants of old tobacco lobbying groups. They traveled throughout the country spreading lies, backed up by the Right Wing radio groups and by publicity from constant favorable coverage by Fox News. The result was total confusion about Obamacare, which the Republicans were happy to call it, because, controlling most of the media, they could characterize it as a disastrous Communist or Socialist policy designed to destroy individual choice of doctors and hospitals…which, of course, it was neither.

By 2012 many people of a certain age would never work again at the kinds of work they had done for a lifetime, thanks to McConnell’s successful use of lies and propaganda to elect his now Republican/Fascist followers. As a result, many people began to think about early retirement. By 2014, a full six years after the crash, after long years without the kinds of wages and benefits they had built up over a lifetime, some having spent a year or more unemployed, often having exhausted savings, 401k plans, equity in their homes, many people decided to retire. After retirement, finding that Social Security would not cover all their costs, and with ever-increasing Medicare deductions and higher prescription costs, they returned to part time work, bagging groceries  at Jewel, Publix, Kroger or clerking at Walmart or Target. The Fascist Right Wing radio hosts praised and commended these people for their work ethic and claimed that it was proof that Social Security was not the answer and that people wanted to continue to work.

By 2016, thanks to many non-congressional initiatives by President Obama to improve domestic economic activity (for each of which he was regularly excoriated by the Right Wing) and the natural business cycle, the economy had slowly, gradually picked up, climbed over 2% GDP and under 5% unemployment. Wages had not gone up. Corporations moved jobs to right-to-work states where unions could not exist and therefore workers had no “right” to collective negotiation for higher pay. The Republican/Fascists and their corporate sponsors fought increases to the minimum wage on every occasion the issue was raised.

In 2014, Volkswagen built a plant in Tennessee, and, accustomed to favorable relations with unions in Europe, offered no resistance to one in their plant. In fact, they encouraged it. But the Republican Party of Tennessee and that state’s billionaire governor said that, if Volkswagen had a union (God forbid Tennesseans should be able to negotiate better wages) then many of the incentives for Volkswagen would be dropped. After gigantic union busting methods were applied by political operatives, the vote to unionize was dropped.

It is not surprising Tennessee workers sought to increase their wages. The minimum wage in many areas is still $7.25. In some states it is higher and in some, mostly Southern states it is lower. While the minimum wage is not livable, producing a maximum of only the $15,000 per year, things are far worse than that. In the late 1960s, the minimum wage was only $1.50, but that was the equivalent of $10 in 2012 buying power. By 2017, the minimum wage of $7.25 was worth less than $5 of buying power. The point is that…if you thought you were poorer than you used to be on a higher income…you are right. In addition, the rich, because their taxes are becoming a smaller and smaller percentage of their gross income, are getting richer and the poor, poorer.

Certainly by 2016, the Fascists–McConnell, the Koch brothers, the Super-rich and global corporations –had won. Americans were being  told by the Republican/Fascist propaganda arm, through Right Wing talk radio and Fox News that people would have to work longer. That there was no reason that people should be able to retire at any age under 70. People lived longer, were healthier,  and actually “wanted” to work longer bagging groceries, instead of playing with the grandchildren, going to the beach or playing golf.

Meanwhile, no Republican/Fascist ever brought up the growing national debt except to offer the suggestion that we cut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid services. No Republican/Fascist ever even whispered the idea that we should trim the military budget in the slightest. When Democrats complained that continuing to cut taxes on the rich was the real reason that we had deficits, they were blasted on Right Wing radio for wanting to return to “tax and spend” Democratic policies.  The Big Lie, since Reagan, is that tax cuts actually stimulate the economy sufficiently to grow it enough to increase tax revenues larger than the cost of the tax cuts to the Treasury. One only has to look at the Treasury department historical tables to see that every tax cut created deficits and the accumulated debt (over 90% under Republican Presidents and Congresses) has reached almost $20 trillion. The evidence is also undeniably clear that the top 1% of American households have benefited from this and the rest of us have suffered from it.

Of course the bigger lie was that tax increases would reduce jobs and the economy, which simply did not happen. Under George W. Bush, we had the lowest tax rates in the last 50 years and we had extremely high unemployment followed by a crash and the highest unemployment, for a period, since the Great Depression. President Clinton raised the top income tax rate by a mere 4.6% over Republican screams and howls and not one Republican vote. The result was the longest sustained period of economic growth in our country’s history, a balanced budget and record low unemployment.

The Republicans used the Obama Presidency to turn their party from Conservative to Fascist. The Republicans vowed to use propaganda to lay all the problems of the Bush/Cheney Recession—all the foreclosures, all the lost savings, all the lost companies and jobs and 401K plans at the foot of the Democrats with a non-stop propaganda campaign for 8 solid years rather than doing one single solitary thing to help American workers and families.

And it worked. Despite the fact that President Obama did not enter office until after the crash and major corporate failures and huge job losses, Republican Right Wing radio and Fox News were able to use a nightly barrage of lies, written by Roger Ailes, Frank Luntz and the Republican National Committee to pin all their mistakes on President Obama. For whatever reason, a rapidly expanding era of liberal thought and progressive government out of the 1950s and 1960s came to a halt with the Reagan Administration and the south gave way politically to the turncoat Democratic Segregationists, like Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms and our current Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who became Republicans.

The Reagan Conservative, Neo-Conservative and then Fascist Republicans in the south became the reliable voting bloc against gun control, against radical anti-abortion, against unions, higher wages, banking regulations, stock market manipulation—they became the reliable source of votes to pass these anti-Middle Class laws. The Confederate states, and some fringe states, became statistically the last out of 50 states in income, education, health care, pollution and mortality rates. They were good as gold for the Koch brothers, who were undoubtedly laughing all the way to the bank.

One example of the way propaganda has put the Fascists in the driver’s seat is health care. Long before Trump was elected, in late 2014, a Republican/Fascist Senator by the name of Marco Rubio, a man of limited intellect but a favorite of all the old Batista Cuban exiles down in Miami, discovered a way to insert something into legislation that would de-fund the supports for health insurance companies that had been built into the Affordable Care Act as security for health insurers in case of some sudden unexpected cost increases. These “price corridors.” Guaranteed a certain amount of support for a company like, say, United Healthcare until the government and insurers could determine how prices could be brought down naturally. Rubio’s amendment, or whatever it was, to an appropriations bill, killed those payments. It simply de-funded an essential part of the Affordable Care Act in a way that the President finally could not veto.

The result of Republican/Fascist Rubio’s action was that insurance premiums started to shoot way up. He had simply pulled the rug out from under tens of millions of unsuspecting Americans. Within six months people were finding it harder and harder to get affordable health care. By 2016, some insurers, no doubt in cahoots with the Republican/Fascists had decided to drop coverage altogether from parts of the country, leaving no health care insurance available at all.

Scores of regional health insurance companies that were set up after Obamacare was passed, were bankrupted, including a number of cooperatives only created to sell affordable health insurance. By mid-2016, the Koch brothers’ lackey, Paul Ryan, was claiming that Obamacare was “spiraling down” implying that it was the Affordable Care Act itself that was responsible (a complete lie and total mischaracterization of the problem.)  Having tried and failed to repeal health care for all Americans 61 times before, the Republican/Fascists finally came up with their own plan to “repeal and replace” Obamacare.

In May of 2017, after Trump had taken office, they passed the bill in the House. The Senate simply took a few passes at amending it and then dropped it, leaving the Affordable Care Act quietly in place. The  Republican/Fascist Senators realize that it would have been a death knell for any Senator who voted it for it. As it was, the GOP/Fascist House members were being overwhelmed with so many threats by constituents that the more cowardly ones, like insurance industry favorite, Peter Roskam of Illinois, simply hid out and refused to have any Town Hall or any meetings with constituents at all.

So we now have a weakened Affordable Health Care, with no mandate for anyone to have health care, which is essential for all universal health care plans, because that part was dropped through an amendment inserted in the Trump Billionaire Tax Cut Bill.

All the while, night and day on radio and television during the 2017 debate, we had heard the Right Wing Fascist commentators urging Americans to dump Obamacare before it was too late. Too late? What was the alternative? Nothing. They had finally attempted to repeal the ACA without any alternative…as Trump demanded. That would have been the ultimate disaster for an estimated 150 million Americans with pre-existing conditions who would lose health care. Fascists don’t care. Fascists work for the big industrialists, the banks, the global corporations and the Super-Rich. They think that they control you because they have controlled you until now. They see that Americans have elected a total Fascist government from top to bottom, so why would they expect anything else?

As a reminder, the Fascist propaganda portrays President Obama as an ineffectual President but we know now that he was instead a very competent and strong President. From day one, the daily Trump lie machine began to criticize every aspect of the former Democratic President’s administration. Trump tried to make us overlook the 410 filibusters of jobs and economic bills in the Senate that would have accelerated the restoration of the economy after the Republican Recession. In the House, during the Obama administration, not one single jobs bill or other economic bill–after the initial stimulus to stem the flow of jobs ruining the country from the Bush Recession– was ever allowed to reach the floor of the House of Representatives for a vote.

At the same time, the Fascists in the House voted to repeal the ACA over 60 times to please their campaign supporters in the health insurance industry. During and immediately after President Obama’s term the Fascists used the Koch-Brothers-McConnell-Paul Ryan controlled Fox News and AM radio to generate racial bias, using the basic propaganda technique of attacking with racist insinuations and then attaching blatant lies to his character or intentions and to subsequent legislation. Like associating Obama with Nigeria–because he is half-black–and then saying that he planned “Nigerian style” universal health care. Of course it is nonsense unless you are dealing with voters who are racists whose racism you want them to use against themselves, to vote against their own best interests and in favor of health insurance companies.

These kinds of media-supported schemes are traditional Fascist approaches, used repeatedly in Europe in the 1930s, leading of course to the great world-wide catastrophe of the 1940s. One technique was to continually lie about the Jews, lie relentlessly, about their morals and character. Then, when the Nazis would decide to attack newspaper offices and beat up people, they would accuse the Jews of having done it, or when they set a fire in a competing political office would blame the Jews. Of course, it was perhaps the most unlikely thing one could imagine…unless one had been constantly bombarded with lies about the character of the Jewish people.  Ultimately Germans believed the lies and 6 million Jews were murdered.

The attacks on President Obama were no less vindictive and deceptive but they were done with 70 years’ greater experience in the manipulation of language and audience.  There was no need for trucks filled with gangs of club-bearing thugs. The personal attacks on President Obama, the ridicule by acerbic and openly racist talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh (“Barack the Magic Negro”) and Hannity and O’Reilly and Beck (who said Obama hated “white people.”) These and others by Praeger and Hewitt and Savage and Levin and North and Plante and Sykes and Ingraham and on and on…tens of dozens, were really attacks on the Middle Class on behalf of the billionaires, and therefore ultimately attacks on all Americans—anti-American attacks, couched in “mere” racist language.

The lies worked, as propaganda often does, as Republican after Fascist Republican took office and voted as the billionaires told them to vote–against health care, against Social Security but in favor of lower taxes on corporations and the rich.

While the Republicans were not able to prevent the people from receiving a more reliable and less expensive health care system during the Obama administration, they were able, for half a dozen years, to prevent them from finding better jobs and higher wages. None of the jobs legislation President Obama or the Democrats ever submitted found its way even to the floor of the House. Later on, encouraged by his ability to completely shut down any kind of agenda for the public, Mitch McConnell would violate every ethical and moral code of the Senate (perhaps forever ruining Senate comity) by holding up the nomination to the Supreme Court for one entire year. This appointment should have been filled by the sitting President and the one-year postponement had never been done before. In addition, this was done despite the fact that the Obama nominees who were ignored were moderate Republican Judges. They simply were not Fascist Republicans, as is the Supreme Court Justice who was eventually appointed, Neil Gorsuch.

The worst aspect of the McConnell-Ryan era in U.S. politics is that we may never know what the true potential of the U.S. Presidency in conjunction with a rational Congress could be. President Obama, took office in late January and put a stimulus program in effect by March. Staggeringly high unemployment continued to grow alarmingly for six months, then in October began to decline. It continued to decline every single month, every year, even until today, June 2018. Not only did Republicans refuse his request for stimulus funds in the amounts that depression area expert economists like Ben Bernanke, the Fed Reserve Chairman recommended, but they actually demanded that a large part be a tax-cut stimulus that had previously failed under George W. Bush. So the Republicans who had caused the Great Recession were already working against the President and against a Middle Class that was struggling to hold a job or find a job or keep a mortgage or hang on to a few dollars of savings.

President Obama’s next legislative initiative was to attack the rising cost of health care and lack of access to health care by a huge number of Americans. Prior to Obamacare, about 50 million Americans had been excluded from health insurance or paid exorbitant rates, either because they were elf employed or worked in minimum wage jobs or where health care was not available. Health insurance premiums were making insurance companies rich because they a) denied health care to the sick or b) simply often denied claims for a myriad of reasons, real or invented. Even though the government subsidized health care for the employed through corporate deductions, working families were being forced to pay premium increases of 10%-15% per year, or asked to pay an increasing share of their employer’s health care costs.

Obama immediately began to address this situation in early 2009, while trying to jump-start the economy. The Republican party refused to participate, offered no alternatives and allied more and more with the pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, the health insurance companies and the American Medical Association who all contributed huge amounts (in addition to the traditional Koch brothers allies, like the Chamber of Commerce and the NRA) to elect Republicans who would vote down the health care plan.  Only one Republican member of either the House or Senate had the courage or decency to vote for access by 50 million Americans to health care.

Only after the Affordable Care Act had been passed did Republicans offer an alternative. Even then, their plan simply called for the repeal the ACA, eliminating taxes on medical equipment, and eliminating the possibility of personal liability for physicians and hospitals in cases where physicians or hospitals maimed, or killed patients.

These same Republicans, who supported a plan that would return U.S. citizens to a devastating health care environment, would, nevertheless, be elected and re-elected to office repeatedly during the Obama years. As health care costs under the ACA were reduced –even as Republican/Fascist governors continued to find ways to prevent the poor from getting health care, 30 million more Americans were able to buy health care that could not be taken away.

How was it that these Republican/Fascists could continue to be re-elected? After all, these were House and Senate members who were on record—who had voted–to obstruct health care for children, to pollute rivers and streams, to make student loans more expensive and to make the poor and the elderly jump through hoops just to register to vote. How could Americans vote repeatedly for those who would not only allow corporations to send their jobs to China but also created incentives to send manufacturing to China? Or Republican/Fascist legislators who continually voted against raising the minimum wage  while one out of every six people employed by Walmart was forced to go on food stamps to survive? How could Americans vote for such cretinous, cruel people as these uncaring Republican/Fascists?

One word. Propaganda. The Koch brothers were hugely successful in using the Republican Party to destroy the United States middle class for their own purposes. They proved that. by spending hundreds of millions of dollars on “think tanks” and advertising to support Right Wing radio hosts and buying television networks and offering media exposure to crooked politicians, they could fool the people into voting against themselves.

The Koch brothers and their Republican/Fascist followers could spread propaganda that the poor (many of whom are Black or Hispanic) are vermin and that the rich pay too much in taxes to support them and that Christians—that is, those who are against abortion—are the only good people in the world and that it was secretly the illegal aliens who caused the Great Bush Stock Market Collapse and Recession.

It was the Kochs and the Mercers and the Uihleins and the Adelsons and the Anschutzes and the Friezes  and other billionaires who bankrolled the campaigns that lied about the Democrats being the big spenders and taxers. A simple review of the Treasury Department web site provides the facts. Clinton balanced the budget in his second term—eliminated deficits while creating affluence. It was Reagan, Bush I and then Bush II and Cheney and now Trump (by over $1 trillion more this year alone) that first took us $14 trillion into debt, then left Democrats and President Obama with 700,000 people a month losing their jobs, and a huge Recession resulting in another $5 trillion in debt over the next 7 years. After taking office, and stabilizing the economy, President Obama presided over 75 straight months of economic growth—despite all the Fascist obstruction—in fact, even much more than we described.

Yet people still listen to the vicious propaganda. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and many others, describing, for example, the children who survived the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas shooting alternatively as “crybabies” then “terrorists” and “thugs.” How many weekly Trump lies must we hear before the ignorant or the deaf or the complacent or the monstrously ignorant catch on that the ultimate message is merely greed and self aggrandizement.

This is the American way…unless we change it… let a Vice President (Dick Cheney) enrich himself to the tune of $80 million by demanding that one company—Halliburton, in which he owned huge numbers of shares–get a minimum of $12 billion in no-bid contracts. Or enable a crooked high government official (Donald Rumsfeld) force the FDA to approve a product that they had said was unsafe from a company that he would later head as CEO, earning $100 million in compensation.

The only good Republicans are dead Republicans. This does not mean that we should go out and shoot Republicans or anyone else. That would be illegal and some think immoral. But the dead Republicans in question, like Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight Eisenhower, and Ulysses Grant and Robert La Follette and literally thousands of other Republican politicians would not recognize the Republican/Fascist Party of today. Today’s Republican/Fascists are not the “small business” Republicans of the post-war era, who supported veterans who went to school on the GI bill and took their skills and built small businesses and created the post-war technology boom and became the core employers  of the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Today’s Republican/Fascists are very seldom, if ever, veterans, and none have the moral courage to refuse a bribe.

Who are the modern day counterpart of the Jews of Europe’s last century, the victims of the Nazi’s “big lie,” the scapegoats and the victims? We know from Trump’s actions that some are the Illegal Immigrants who have been coming to this country for generations now, working in the fields, on the streets, in the packing houses and the assembly plants and small manufacturers, or in the back rooms of restaurants, landscaping, building, cleaning and doing all the other jobs passed on to those who have few skills or English words. Others are the Blacks, African-Americans, undereducated, often disliked, impoverished, and abused by both Whites and other Blacks or by the police. And finally, there are the Liberals, those who fight for equality and education and better wages…these are the truly dangerous people to the Fascists because they see clearly what is happening and because many of them have the education and affluence to fight back.

To the Fascists, blacks will always be “troublemakers.” Progressives and Liberals will always be called “elites” no matter their income and position. Hispanics will always be “suspicious.” And anyone else who does not agree with their Fascist agenda “naïve” or “foolish” or  “dumb” or  “unpatriotic.” Or one of hundreds of other words that Frank Luntz has put on the tip of the tongue of the Right Wing radio propagandists who simply mouth what their bosses tell them.

If you support Republicans, you support politicians who voted repeatedly against affordable health care for Americans. You voted to tell your neighbor that his daughter cannot have an abortion under any circumstances. You voted to make elderly widows who lived in the same house for the last 40 years go find a place to register and then get a photo ID before they will be allowed to vote. You voted to keep your college age daughter from voting where she goes to school. You voted to kick her off your heath care program. You voted not to deduct your property taxes from your income tax, to double your deductible, and pay it all back through tax increases in about 3 years, by which time the national debt will be $3 trillion higher and Social Security, which you will rely on, will be cut by 25%. You voted to take children from their mothers and put them in cages. You voted to limit the amount of money the country will give to Puerto Rico because they are Hispanic and mostly Democratic. You voted for more pollution and more expensive Internet and cable television and higher drug costs and more expensive foreign cars and more…much more…of someone else’s religion being taught in your children’s schools.

Those are Fascist family values and if you voted Republican, just as if you supported Nazis, you were a Nazi, when it came time for retribution, then you are a Fascist. If you don’t like Fascist family values then don’t vote Republican.

The former governor of South Carolina found out what Fascism is all about recently. He, and many others, do not toe the new party line. The new party line is that you have to really hate the opposition and you must never, ever depart from Republican/Fascist policy. No taxes, a giant wall between the U.S. and Mexico, military action first and diplomacy second, friendship with dictators, arm’s length from countries with strong social networks, good education and unions.

Mark Sanford and some of the other Republican candidates this primary season did not go along with the Tea Party agenda of more tax cuts, reducing Social Security and Medicare benefits and returning to health care the way it was before Obamacare. The new Trump/Republican/Fascist alliance lied about him and propagandized him right out of office. This was a former favorite in South Carolina, a former popular governor, a man who had survived a very public affair and divorce, so popular in fact that after all that he still won a seat in Congress. But you can’t beat the expert propagandists who, under our current laws, can accuse you of whatever they want and spend unlimited dollars to obliterate your reputation and drown in television commercials any attempt to respond.

It is the end of the American Dream, a sort of nightmare scenario, like Orwell’s “1984” when the world is a dark and dismal place, run by those with the least intelligence, education and compassion. Fascism is the nightmare, not the dream. If we cannot vote it out, it will be the end, as it is already the beginning of the end—possibly–of the great American Dream of Democracy.