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March 03, 2009

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Seems like now would be an excellent time to remind ourselves exactly how Bush came to power.
These people have done wonders for conspiracy theorists. I can only wonder what we still have to find out.

Like you said, Publius, it doesn't surprise me at all. The word "fascism" is thrown around a lot now and, as usual, the press pretends that it's just an outrageous term, used by the right and the left, for hyperbole. Trouble is, when it was used against John Yoo and company, it wasn't hyperbole at all.

In addition to the real pain caused by the Bush administration to so many people (Iraqis, innocents who were denied due process, and everyone who is suffering and will suffer from the financial fraud and mismanagement that's become the global econoomic crisis - and, yes, I blame them for that too), they have done untold harm to our goverment just by lowering the bar so greatly for a totalitarian, fascist regime to be taken for granted here. That's what scares me the most. That's why I refuse to equate my minor quibbles (comparatively) that I have with Obama (as some of those here from across the pond enjoy doing) with what Bush created. It's going to take a long time, a lot of very smart legal and political work, and tremendous commitment and good will to return to where we were pre-Bush. And even that is not where we should want to be in the long run.

I saw that on the Dish and I'd like to make a counterargument: It's actually not that shocking an opinion. To some extent, that's been understood as a reality of war in this country for a very long time starting with the Alien and Sedition acts.

Far more worrying is the memo: Memorandum Regarding Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities within the United States (10-23-2001) which directly and savagely undermines Posse Comitatus for the purpose of hunting terrorists in the United States.

To be clear, I value and respect freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Abridging that, however, is an order of magnitude less horrifying than the fact that they set the legal foundation for the deployment of the US military domestically and virtually without restriction.

To use the Kirkpatrick formula, the former is authoritarian. The latter is totalitarian.

Ergh. Not that I'm defending the Alien and Sedition Acts.

-sigh-

All I was trying to say was that while one is obviously a breach of trust with the republic, the other was the nightmare of the Founding Fathers and the reason for our early militia system and the Second Amendment to the US Constitution.

And I should read what Publius wrote more carefully before posting comments--it's been that kind of day.

The problem, then, isn’t so much Yoo’s position. It’s the failure of people to have grasped the full implications of his arguments. We’re seeing those now and are shocked by them – but they’ve always been there, embedded in the logic.

a few of us figgered it out...

John Yoo doesn't seem to be a fan of freedom, America, or democracy in general.

I sort of thought the President took an oath to defend the constitution from people like Mr. Yoo.

One thing I'm not certain of - was the allowed use of the military vs terrorists restricted to certain circumstances, or was it carte blanche?

For an active emergency ( terrorists hijacking a fleet of planes ) I assume the military would be called on by any president.

And potentially, I could see the military getting involved for some cases of widespread terrorism on US soil.

But I get the feeling the memo(s) went farther than that.

Yoo's memos are literally the legal road to Facism.

And as noted above, what is alarming is how little adverse reaction there was to this evil.

Yoo's "reasoning" is well outside any understanding of legal argumentation, and it is also shocking that someone this intellectually dishonest has tenure at Berkeley.

Another thought in relation to Statler's comment about the past expressions of this view, and he is right to note that it is not a new line of thought. Probably the best expression of its prior use was the Japanese internments in WWII, and the Korematsu decision upholding the detentions.

Which Yoo presumably would think was correctly decided.

John Yoo doesn't seem to be a fan of freedom, America, or democracy in general.
Oddly, the UC Berkeley law school remains a fan of John Yoo - just last semester, he taught three classes, including Constitutional Law.

In fairness to Berkeley, Yoo is not teaching any classes this Spring semester, even though he taught two (!) Constitutional Law classes in each of the two previous Spring semesters. I hope this means Berkeley has realized that letting Yoo teach Constitutional Law is like letting David Duke teach Civil Rights - but I have no confidence. I guess we'll see if they actually take action against him, or failing that we'll see when the fall course schedule is released.

Amazing. The country was potentially secretly placed under martial law by Bushco.

Could you imagine the screaming from the right-wingnutosphere if Bill Clinton had garnered that kind of power for himself?

I want to know what Yoo has to say about the Third Amendment. I find myself wondering if he isn't relying on the fact that this provides the only right which is expressly not waived during time of war.

Could you imagine the screaming from the right-wingnutosphere if Bill Clinton had garnered that kind of power for himself?

Amusingly enough, Yoo actually criticized the "imperial presidency" of Clinton, writing in 2000 that:

"President Clinton has accelerated disturbing trends in foreign policy that undermine democratic accountability and respect for the rule of law..."

"President Clinton has accelerated disturbing trends in foreign policy that undermine democratic accountability and respect for the rule of law..."

The GOP definition of "rule of law" is anything that limits the power of any Democrat holding elected or appointed office.

I think the Yoo memos are absolutely appalling. But in what sense are they fascist?

They're certainly tyrannical and authoritarian. But fascism is a particular form of tyranny and authoritarianism, and there's nothing uniquely fascist about the executive claiming unlimited authority for itself.

well, its also tough to broadly define fascism, but I can see the Yoo memos angling towards a Francisco Franco style fascism post WWII.

Not so repressive as to murder lots of people, but definitely not a democratic or free country.

I'd be the first to admit that fascism is tough to define. The Italian variety (which is its origin) was famously protean. And a number of more or less equally plausible definitions have been put forward by critics, proponents, historians, and theorists over the years. But all the definitions are a good deal more specific than "not democratic" or "authoritarian" (which I agree the Bush administration strove to be).

Rather than my choosing a definition of fascism that I think the Bush administration didn't fit, I'd rather ask those who want to call the Yoo memos "fascist" to give me one that does fit.

I don't disagree with you, but casting about for a definition of fascism that would cover the memos, how about a legal understanding that elevates the desire of the executive over any other law? That seems to be what Yoo is arguing for, and perhaps it might be better for the more general term of authoritarian, but that cult of personality for the head of the government is striking.

That seems to be what Yoo is arguing for, and perhaps it might be better for the more general term of authoritarian, but that cult of personality for the head of the government is striking.

But my sense of the inner workings of the Bush administration is that Cheney, not Bush, really called the shots on many of the most appalling things, as Barton Gellman and Jo Becker reported back in 2007. Although they may have helped build a cult of Bush, Addington and Yoo were taking their orders even more from the VP than from the President.

All of which is not to let Dubya off the hook in any way. But the inner workings of the Bush administration don't resemble the inner workings of Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy, where the cult of the leader went all the way to the top (though they arguably resemble the fictional vision of fascism in Sinclair Lewis's It Can't Happen Here in which the dim-witted figurehead Buzz Windrip is being manipulated behind the scenes by the evil Lee Sarason).

"The problem, then, isn’t so much Yoo’s position. It’s the failure of people to have grasped the full implications of his arguments. We’re seeing those now and are shocked by them – but they’ve always been there, embedded in the logic."

Call me cynical, but I think the problem is not that people don't understand the implications of Yoo's opinions or Bush's policies, but that too many people in this country agree with them.

It seems to me like there are a lot of people who don't really care about, or even actively hostile to these sorts of constitutional rights. I wonder what the constituent amendments of the Bill of Rights would poll at, if you didn't tell people they were part of the Hallowed Constitution.

How can the law students at as sophisticated a law school as Boldt at UC Berkeley listen to this criminal bloviate about "International Law" and "Constitutional Law" without laughing in his face?

When I lived in Berkely in the mid 60's the protests would have driven this deluded pr*ck out of a job and off the campus...

I guess law students these days are much more passive, and interested only in getting that degree and not making waves.

That's disappointing to me and it doesn't bode well for the future of the Constitution in the US!

I think what distinguishes right-wing totalitarism (of which fascism is the best known variant) from old-fashioned despotism and communist totalitarianism is its legalistic approach that pretends "fairness".
A despot can do without legal niceties and 'communist' jurisdiction was officially partisan, i.e. politically results-oriented.
That Yoo's masters considered it necessary to pretend that their actions were legal puts them at least in the same general category as fascists and nazis. It's (in a macabre way) fascinating to read nazi laws and to notice the obvious intent of the authors to make them look 'normal' and evenhanded (like putting protected rights for Jews into the Nuremberg laws*).
Yoo and Bybee use the same kind of sophistry to derive from the constitution the right of the president to ignore the constitution (and I feel reminded btw of Hitler's legal reasoning after the night of long knives).
Other apologists on the right followed more the communist way in claiming that 'laws' have to follow and obey the political intent ('the constitution is no suicide pact' was just one of the lesser versions).

*e.g. Jews had a state protected privilege to 'show the Jewish colours' while being forbidden to use the German ones.

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