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stars were never well aligned for this adventure, and that's why Bush the Elder tried to dissuade his intrepid frat boy. Maybe it was an Oedipal thing.

Are the U.S. neoconservatives and their allies in the Pentagon and Vice President Dick Cheney's office worried about America's inability to put down the Iraqi insurgency with time to spare before November?

I expect they're shittin' screw worms, as we say in Arkansas.  And don't confuse the Pentagon with Rumsfeld.  He probably needs body armor to walk around in that building.

"Like to a little kingdom," Shakespeare wrote.  I feel sure there is talk of an insurrection. But maybe with a combination of good old fashioned appeals to Republican white supremacy, well-financed sound-byte demagogy, Diebold voting systems, Democrat cowardice, and a friendly Secretary of one or two states, Rove and his boys can pull another mangled rabbit out of a hat.

[JVB] Do you think the war on terror has caused infringement on civil liberties?  Some people feel that this country is transforming into a fascist state.  Do you agree?  If so, what makes you think so?  If not, do you think democracy is intact?

[SG] I think we already have a fascist executive branch, but that does not translate into systemic fascism yet. You have to be careful about going too far in a country like the United States that's armed to the teeth.  They don't want to ignite the right-populists who fear some World Jewish Conspiracy or UN black helicopters and run paramilitary camps in the woods.  One of these guys was found in Texas recently making cyanide bombs with notes that suggested he was eyeballing power plants.  I wonder when Ashcroft will implement racial profiling against white guys with Anglo-Saxon surnames.

The infringement on civil liberties is incremental, and consistent with the measures taken by the American security state in the past.  I know a lot of people like to hearken back to the day before democracy was hijacked by Bush, but that's such a mutilation of history. It's difficult to find a period in US history for more than 20 years when there weren't openly repressive measures in place, or that they didn't target scapegoated populations and dissidents, usually in conjunction with some foreign policy objective like hot and Cold wars.

That's bad, but that's not fascism. I also hear some lefties calling Talibani and so on "clerical fascists." This is a mistake, too. We should be very wary of being imprecise because it's easy or convenient.

Fascism is a middle class phenomenon, which means it is something that happens in countries that have achieved a level of development.  Domestic populations are kept quiescent with a dose of imperial privilege, a comparatively high standard of living based on invisible exploitation of poorer places, of colonies, both internal and external.  

Margaret Wyles wrote a very good essay on this, called "Sex, Lies, and Fascism." She said that propagandists play on the insecurities and ambivalence of the middle class "to corral the frustrations of middle class and redirect them to the designated scapegoats, both here and abroad.  A drastic economic downturn, such as that experienced in pre-war Germany, could spell equally disastrous results."  Hear hear! That's when it

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