I need help

There’s a lot that the nation needs to clean up in the aftermath of Katrina. I have faith that we will — as long as we don’t get bored, pour another drink, and choose to feel better before the work is really done. Racism. Bureaucracy. Anarchy. Incompetence. Posse Comitatus.

There’s a particular issue that I’m interested in. I’m looking for is a word or phrase to help me define a tiny a piece of what I’m seeing. The concept isn’t any more or less important than the others that are being discussed. I’d like to find a label for the concept, so that we can talk about it, without simply saying “President Bush is bad.” That just cuts off conversation for 50% of the country. That’s not fair, and it doesn’t fix the problem.

There’s something happening here.
What it is ain’t exactly clear.
There’s a man with a gun over there.
Telling me I’ve got to beware.

The concept that I’m thinking about goes back to classical Rome. One faction would simply kill its enemies. It would reward only its political members. A guard would bear fasces before The Leader in a triumphant parade. Then the leader of the faction would eventually be murdered. It was all something like a To-The-Death form of a generic T-shirt that I’ve recently seen: “The local sports team from my area can beat the local sports team from your area.”

We’ve seen a lot of this from Karl Rove. Outing spies that criticize the administration, telling Barbara Walters how he was beat up as a geeky kid but nobody’s beating him up now, or openly excluding industry experts from US delegations to trade conferences because “They didn’t win the election.” We’ve seen it in blue state vs red state discretionary spending and base closings, and we’ve seen it in on-the-ground preparations for New Orleans vs Houston. I feel this is wrong, but it isn’t obviously and universally regarded as wrong.

My Republican wife is convinced that this is some sort of partisan genocide. I’m looking for a word that describes this as obviously and blatantly a Bad Idea. Not just soccer hooligans rooting for their team, but partisan soccer hooligans with their fingers on the Button.

About Stearns

Howard Stearns works at High Fidelity, Inc., creating the metaverse. Mr. Stearns has a quarter century experience in systems engineering, applications consulting, and management of advanced software technologies. He was the technical lead of University of Wisconsin's Croquet project, an ambitious project convened by computing pioneer Alan Kay to transform collaboration through 3D graphics and real-time, persistent shared spaces. The CAD integration products Mr. Stearns created for expert system pioneer ICAD set the market standard through IPO and acquisition by Oracle. The embedded systems he wrote helped transform the industrial diamond market. In the early 2000s, Mr. Stearns was named Technology Strategist for Curl, the only startup founded by WWW pioneer Tim Berners-Lee. An expert on programming languages and operating systems, Mr. Stearns created the Eclipse commercial Common Lisp programming implementation. Mr. Stearns has two degrees from M.I.T., and has directed family businesses in early childhood education and publishing.


  1. I think the word you want is fascism.


    I think of this government as a mafia. I don’t mean a figurative mafia, I mean a literal mafia. The best way to understand Bush is to understand Tony Soparano, and the best way to understand Karl Rove is to understand Michael and Sonny Corleone. BushCo are mafiosi in power. This is how mafiosi behave.

    They are motivated by power and by the need for eternal struggle:

    9. For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather, life is lived for struggle.</i>

  2. It may be applicable, but it’s not the word I want! It’s tough to have a serious conversation when someone brings in a WWII-laden comparison. My plea is not intended as a back-door way of making the link, even if my bad writing and personal feelings make it seem like I did intend that. (The entry started as a public journal. The allusion to facism is just where my mind went.)

    I really do want put a proper label on this that will allow discussion. On the one hand, if we ‘name it and frame it,’ we’re not truly inviting open discussion but rather leading folks down a particular path. But on the other hand, if these kinds of actions go unlabeled, it’s tought to fight them. Hey, maybe Americans will decide that this is a perfectly reasonable way to live. I hope not, but I don’t want the decision to be made by default, without an explicit national conversation on the subject.

  3. Perhaps the word you want is “dictatorship.” The last two major examples of single-party states (the stated goal of Karl Rove, Grover Norquist, and other prominent right-wing — as opposed to conservative, or even Republican — sorts) are in fact the fascisms of the WWII Axis and the USSR. What you need (and I have seen, but am too tired to dig back up) are the specific parallels; controls on speech, travel, and creativity come right to mind.

    Good luck!

  4. Here’s a suggested title for the madness that is descending on us:


    Visit my Timeline at:

    _TIMELINE_050916.pdf” rel=”nofollow”>http://summeroftruth.org/ka…

    Or email me at <rayd95@yahoo.com> for a more recent version. Thanks.

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