Friday, May 20, 2005
By Pamela Troy
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
[Part 1 in a 4-Part Series]
His blood carries not honor, and honesty, rather criminality, fraud, hypocrisy, lies, the lust for defilement, and the lust for murder ... a race that has drives toward the unnatural and toward criminality cannot recognize natural moral laws. -- Julius Streicher, on the Jews
... the Democrats – far too many of them – are evil, pure and simple. They have no redeeming social value. They are outright traitors themselves, or apologists for treasonous behavior. They are enemies of the American people and the American way of life. -- Joseph Farah, "Baghdad Bonior," Worldnet Daily 10/8/02
Liberalism is a mental disorder that has undermined our families, our society, and our national security … -- Michael Savage, Newsmax.com interview 2/1/03
Look up the name “Julius Streicher” in the index of most recent books on the Third Reich and you’re likely to be referred to one or two brief mentions. He was a lout whose anti-Semitic newspaper, Der Sturmer, was so crude that he’s sometimes called “Hitler’s pornographer.” He is usually described as a squat thug with a paltry talent for harnessing the combined power of ignorance and malice, someone who intelligent people could safely ignore with a contemptuous laugh.
Many of those who watched the rise of the Third Reich as it happened weren’t that dismissive. In 1936 Time Magazine referred to him as "One of Nazi Germany’s Most Dangerous Clowns." Hitler himself considered Streicher’s ability to mobilize the masses to the cause of Nazism invaluable and Himmler was quoted in Streicher’s newspaper Der Sturmer, "In times to come when the story of the reawakening of the German people is written, and when the next generation will be unable to understand how the German people could ever have been friendly with the Jews, it will be said that Julius Streicher and his weekly newspaper were responsible for a good part of the education about the enemy of mankind."
The tribunal at Nuremberg in 1945 agreed. Part of the indictment against Streicher read:
In the early days he was preaching persecution. As persecution took place he preached extermination and annihilation and, as millions of Jews were exterminated and annihilated, in the Ghettoes of the East, he cried out for more and more.
The crime of Streicher is that he made these crimes possible, which they never would have been had it not been for him and for those like him.
For the past twenty years, Streicher’s voice has been most faithfully echoed in the pronouncements of people like Rush Limbaugh, Michael Savage, Ann Coulter and countless other less well-known "clowns" who frequent cable TV, talk radio and the Internet. Like Streicher, they are often dismissed as so obviously ridiculous that they’re barely worth the attention of well-informed citizens.
And while they are not anti-Semites and their rhetoric is unlikely to lead to the mass murder of those they target, it has, like Streicher’s, made mindless hatred not just acceptable in the minds of many people, but downright virtuous.
There’s a saying about the sleep of reason and what it produces. For far too long, thinking Americans have treated the irrationality steadily bubbling up from the far right as if it were a harmless amusement, unlikely to impact ordinary citizens. We have been unwilling to look at the extent to which the mediums of right-wing talk radio and the Internet have popularized the agenda of influential people who are not stupid, but who are willing to foster and use stupidity and hatred as a means to an end.
“Undesirable Impulses” and The Tactic of Delegitimization
The relatively recent successes of New Left ideas in law and legislation have only been made possible because their proponents were able to capture the cultural institutions--e.g., the media, academia, publishing houses, advertising agencies, Hollywood--some years earlier … We will not try to reform the existing institutions. We only intend to weaken them, and eventually destroy them.-- Eric Heubeck, The Integration of Theory and Practice
Substituting contempt for reason is not a new phenomenon in this country, nor is it a vice confined to the far right. A thorough search of the Internet will uncover leftist sites containing gross, sometimes threatening statements about conservatives. This kind of mindless garbage has always to some degree been present in political commentary in every time, belief, and nation. It only becomes truly dangerous when it mirrors the aims and tactics of powerful interests.
In the years immediately preceding the Third Reich, political violence by right-wingers and left-wingers was a fact of life on the streets of Berlin. Unlike their leftist counterparts, however, the Nazis came to enjoy widespread, if often tacit support of wealthy industrialists and influential members of the military, many of whom, as educated people, saw Hitler’s more outrageous statements as a form of political theater. “In fact to a certain extent, Hitler succeeded because he was dismissed as being more ridiculous than dangerous,” write James and Suzanne Pool in their 1978 book, Who Financed Hitler:
The man who shouted crude anti-Semitic slogans in public could, to the amazement of those who met him in private, discuss complex political and economic issues with logic and penetrating insight. He was able to convince his financiers that he was not a rabble-rouser at heart but had to act that way to attract the masses away from the Communists.
The resulting infusions of financial support to the Nazi Party helped make Streicher more than an individual crackpot ranting from a soapbox on a street-corner. He was a hatemonger promoting a political party that had generous financial backing and friends in very high places. Whether or not it was taken seriously by most Nazis, Streicher’s language of dehumanization, by sheer repetition, ceased to shock Germans and helped prepare the ground for the policy of annihilation Hitler enacted not only against Jews, but against all who opposed him.
By the same token, Coulter, Savage, and other such commentators are not merely obscure bloggers or occasional posters to Internet bulletin boards. They are commentators who have been given greater access to the media than most leftist pundits, and thus greater leeway when it comes to outrageous statements. It would be hard to find a writer for a prominent liberal publication who had, for instance, suggested that the Bush twins should be executed, as John Derbyshire did about Chelsea Clinton in the February 15, 2001 issue of National Review Online.
There are, of course, differences. Streicher embraced the notion of Jews as genetically evil, so inherently corrupt that their moral "taint" could be spread through rape. So far no prominent modern American right-winger has claimed that a conservative woman who has sex with a liberal man is "irredeemably lost" to conservatism, as Streicher claimed about Gentile women who had even nonconsensual sex with Jewish men. The National Review has stopped short of claiming that liberals drink the blood of conservative children in unholy rites.
But the similarity in language remains. If they don’t present liberalism as an inherent genetic taint, they do present liberalism – or even membership in the Democratic Party – as an irrefutable sign of an inherent moral or mental malaise. “"Liberals are in my estimation, just not bright people. They don’t think deeply, they don’t comprehend, they don’t understand …" said Republican Senator Dick Armey in 2002. “They don’t seem to have a fundamental understanding of good versus evil in the world, and the need to destroy those that would otherwise destroy innocent life,” said Sean Hannity on Pat Robertson’s "700 Club." In short, to be a liberal is to be “evil,” “not bright,” afflicted with a “mental disorder.”
And as with Streicher’s propaganda, whether or not everyone who uses this kind of language actually believes it is beside the point. In 2001, an essay appeared online that briefly garnered attention on the Internet. “The Integration of Theory and Practice: A Program for the New Traditionalist Movement” was written by someone named Eric Heubeck for the Free Congress Foundation.
It’s important to note that the Free Congress Foundation is not merely an obscure right-wing blog but a well-funded conservative think tank headed by right-wing strategist Paul Weyrich. An article about Karl Rove in the April 30th, 2001, issue of Time Magazine (“The Busiest Man in The White House” by James Carney and John F. Dickerson) mentions the influence the foundation wields:
Each Wednesday Rove dispatches a top administration official to attend the regular conservative-coalition lunches held at Paul Weyrich’s Free Congress Foundation … When Weyrich heard a few weeks ago the Bush’s budget slashed funding for a favorite project called the Police Corps, which gives scholarships and training to police cadets, he complained to the White House. To Weyrich’s surprise, Rove called back. “We’ve taken care of it,” Rove said. "The problem is solved." Weyrich, who says his memos to the Reagan and Bush Sr. White Houses were rarely read, was impressed. "That," he gushes, "is what it means to have friends in the White House."
Heubeck’s essay outlines a strategy for a grassroots movement of “cultural conservatism,” one that, as Heubeck put it, “must channel undesirable impulses to serve good purposes.” An example of these “undesirable impulses” can be found in the following quote:
We must always operate based on this cardinal principle: Leftists are never morally responsible for the evil they commit; but we as conservatives are morally responsible for not having done more to prevent them from committing that evil. We must learn to treat leftists as natural disasters or rabid dogs.
One does not debate natural disasters or rabid dogs, or even treat them as if they were capable of framing an argument. Both are problems to be prevented, if possible and if they occur, contained or destroyed.
This is not to say that Heubeck and others like him relish the idea of liberals being physically destroyed. It is to say that they would like to destroy any rational public discourse on the subject of anything they label as “liberalism.” They want any liberal or anyone labeled as such to be dismissed out of hand no matter how valid their arguments might be, denounced as mad, stupid, or evil.
That an inevitable byproduct of this approach is a significant number of people believing that liberals are the equivalent of natural disasters and mad dogs and relishing the idea of liberals being physically destroyed is apparently unimportant to them.
The tactic of delegitimization promoted in Eric Heubeck’s piece has been echoed in Bush administration statements, most notably those made in the wake September 11th. One of the most well known of these is then Attorney General John Ashcroft’s comment at a press conference, in which he both implied that administration critics were irrational or dishonest, and equated dissent with giving aid and comfort to America’s enemies.
… to those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America’s enemies and pause to America’s friends. (December 6, 2001)
Even opposition within the context of an opposition party is increasingly depicted as illegitimate. Not content with control of both the Executive and Legislative branches, the Republican Party has attacked some of the most basic tools of dissent within government. The judicial filibuster has been denounced by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist as “radical. It is dangerous and it must be overcome.” This kind of language, the use of terms like “dangerous” and “radical” to describe a tactic that Republicans – including Frist -- have used in the past, should be at least startling to Americans. Unfortunately, the quality of modern political rhetoric has been so lowered that it doesn’t seem that unusual. Compared with some of the comments about Democrats and liberals heard regularly on Fox, CNN, and MSNBC, it seems downright benign.
If reasoned debate is eliminated as the way to deal with dissenters, even those who dissent as members of the opposition party within the halls of government, how does one respond to those who refuse to be silenced? How does one deal with the “problem” of those liberals and Democrats who are, with increasing frequency, being referred to as dangerous, radical, as traitors, lunatics, rabid dogs, and haters of America?
[To be continued ... This is Part 1 of "Dangerous Clowns," presented as a 4-part series.]
Scapegoat of the Week: Newsweek
"It's appalling that this story got out there," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on her way back from Iraq.
What's not appalling to Condi is that the US is holding prisoners at Guantanamo under conditions termed "torture" by the Red Cross. What's not appalling to Condi is that prisoners of the Afghan war are held in violation of international law after that conflict has supposedly ended. What is not appalling to Condi is that prisoner witnesses have reported several instances of the Koran's desecration.
What is appalling to her is that these things were reported. So to Condi goes to the Joseph Goebbels Ministry of Propaganda Iron Cross.
But I don't want to leave out our President. His aides report that George Bush is "angry" about the report -- not the desecration of the Koran, but the reporting of it.
And so long as George is angry and Condi appalled, Newsweek knows what to do: swiftly grab its corporate ankles and ask the White House for mercy.
But there was no mercy. Donald Rumsfeld pointed the finger at Newsweek and said, "People lost their lives. People are dead." Maybe Rumsfeld was upset that Newsweek was taking away his job. After all, it's hard to beat Rummy when it comes to making people dead.
And just for the record: Newsweek, unlike Rumsfeld, did not kill anyone -- nor did its report cause killings. Afghans protested when they heard the Koran desecration story (as Christians have protested crucifix desecrations). The Muslim demonstrators were gunned down by the Afghan military police -- who operate under Rumsfeld's command.
Our Secretary of Defense, in his darkest Big Brother voice, added a warning for journalists and citizens alike, "People need to be very careful about what they say."
And Newsweek has now promised to be very, very good......
New Rule: The people in America who are most in favor of the Iraq war must now go there and fight it.
The Army missed its recruiting goal by 42% last month. More people joined the Michael Jackson Fan Club. "We've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit." And now we need warm bodies. We need warm bodies like Paula Abdul needs...warm bodies!
Now, last week, a Baptist minister in North Carolina told nine members of his congregation that unless they renounced their 2004 vote for John Kerry, they had to leave his church. Well, if we're that certain these days that George Bush is always that right about everything, then going to Iraq to fulfill the glorious leader's vision would seem the least one could do. And, hey, if it makes it any easier for you, just think of it as a reality show: "Fear Factor: Shitting Your Pants Edition." "Survivor: Sunni Triangle." Or maybe it's a video game, "Grand Theft Allah."
Now, I know you're thinking, but, Bill, I already do my part with the "Support Our Troops" magnet I have on my Chevy Tahoe. How much more can one man give? Well, here's an intriguing economic indicator. It's been over a year since they graduated, but neither of the Bush twins has been able to find work. Why don't they sign up? Do they hate America or just freedom in general?
And that goes for everybody who helped sell this war. You've got to go first. Brooks and Dunn, drop your cocks and grab your socks! Ann Coulter, darling, trust me, you will love the Army. You think you make up shit!
Curt Schilling, b-bye! You ended the curse on Boston. Good. Let's try your luck in Fallouja. Oh, and that Republican Baldwin brother, he's got to go so that Ted Nugent has someone to frag.
But mostly, we have to send Mr. And Mrs. Britney Spears. Because Britney once said, "We should trust our president in every decision that he makes, and we should just support that and be faithful in what happens." Okay, somebody has to die for that. Or at least go. Hey, maybe she'll like it. Hell, she's already knocked up. That'll save the MP unit about ten minutes.
And think of the spiritual lift it will provide to troops and civilians alike when actual combat smacks the smirk off of Kevin Federline's face and fills his low-hanging trousers with dootie.
In summation, you cannot advocate for something you wouldn't do yourself. For example, I'm for fuel efficiency, which is why I drive a hybrid car and always take an electric private plane. I'm for legalizing marijuana, and so I smoke a ton of it.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Bush Wins Papal Vote
23 April 2005 0953 GMT VATICAN CITY -
In a turn of events that stunned Vatican officials, U. S. President George W. Bush has been named to succeed John Paul II as the next leader of the Roman Catholic Church. For the first time in history --and unknown to the fawning media-- the College of Cardinals employed electronic voting machines to select the next Supreme Pontiff. Bush won by a margin of 2,528 votes, despite the fact that only 115 Cardinals took part in the process. The machines, which were last used in Ohio for the 2004 presidential election, also registered 27 votes for Democratic candidate John Kerry.
"It's a miracle!" cried Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio's Secretary of State, gubernatorial candidate and unofficial spokesperson for voting machine manufacturer Diebold Corporation. "This result vindicates our use of Diebold machines last November. They work just as they are supposed to every time. They delivered the desired vote in Ohio and now they've done so in the Vatican. God has spoken."
Supporters of Panzerkardinal, Joseph Ratzinger, whom initial reports had leading by a comfortable margin in the voting, demanded a recount. But Blackwell said the voting machines, which had been modified to emit a plume of white smoke when a plurality was reached, are unable to produce a paper audit trail, rendering a recount impossible. "Herr Ratzinger should return the ring. Mr. Bush is the duly elected pope!"
When informed of his victory, President Bush expressed surprise. "I was not aware I was running for the popecy," he said. "I wish people would tell me these things." However, he added "I am impregnated with humblidity, and would be honored and privileged to serve as Supreme Pontoon for the rest of my natural life, or until I die, whichever comes first."
"This dual role for Mr. Bush can only help the GOP," intoned House Majority Leader Tom DeLay. "Having a president who is infallible will make it impossible for our Democratic opponents to deny that God approves of our antediluvian agenda."
The president/pope is expected to adopt an appropriate name for his reign on the throne of St. Peter. Unnamed sources close to Bush say even money in White House circles is on the name, Pope Clement VX, in honor of Clement V, the 14th century pope who gave away the Church's wealth to his relatives, leaving a bare treasury.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Keith Olbermann bitch slaps Scott McClellan
SECAUCUS -- I smell something - and it ain’t a copy of the Qu’ran sopping wet from being stuck in a toilet in Guantanamo Bay. It’s the ink drying on Scott McClellan’s resignation, and in an only partly imperfect world, it would be drifting out over Washington, and imminently.
Last Thursday, General Richard Myers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Donald Rumsfeld’s go-to guy whenever the situation calls for the kind of gravitas the Secretary himself can’t supply, told reporters at the Pentagon that rioting in Afghanistan was related more to the on-going political reconciliation process there, than it was to a controversial note buried in the pages of Newsweek claiming that the government was investigating whether or not some nitwit interrogator at Gitmo really had desecrated a Muslim holy book.
But Monday afternoon, while offering himself up to the networks for a series of rare, almost unprecedented sit-down interviews on the White House lawn, Press Secretary McClellan said, in effect, that General Myers, and the head of the after-action report following the disturbances in Jalalabad, Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, were dead wrong. The Newsweek story, McClellan said, “has done damage to our image abroad and it has done damage to the credibility of the media and Newsweek in particular. People have lost lives. This report has had serious consequences.”
Whenever I hear Scott McClellan talking about ‘media credibility,’ I strain to remember who it was who admitted Jeff Gannon to the White House press room and called on him all those times.
Whenever I hear this White House talking about ‘doing to damage to our image abroad’ and how ‘people have lost lives,’ I strain to remember who it was who went traipsing into Iraq looking for WMD that will apparently turn up just after the Holy Grail will - and at what human cost.
Newsweek’s version of this story has varied from the others over the last two years - ones in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post, and British and Russian news organizations - only in that it quoted a government source who now says he didn’t have firsthand knowledge of whether or not the investigation took place (oops, sorry, shoulda mentioned that, buh-bye). All of its other government connections - the ones past which it ran the story - have gone from saying nothing like ‘don’t print this, it ain’t true’ or ‘don’t print this, it may be true but it’ll start riots,’ to looking slightly confused and symbolically saying ‘Newsweek? Newsweek who?’
Whatever I smell comes from this odd sequence of events: Newsweek gets blasted by the White House, apologizes over the weekend but doesn't retract its story. Then McClellan offers his Journalism 101 outdoor seminar and blasts the magazine further. Finally, just before 5 PM Monday, the Dan Rather drama replaying itself in its collective corporate mind, Newsweek retracts.
I’m always warning about the logical fallacy - the illusion that just because one event follows another, the latter must have necessarily caused the former. But when I wondered tonight on Countdown if it applied here, Craig Crawford reassured me. “The dots connect.”
The real point, of course, is that you’d have to be pretty dumb to think that making a threat at Gitmo akin to ‘Spill the beans or we’ll kill this Qu’ran’ would have any effect on the prisoners, other than to eventually leak out and inflame anti-American feelings somewhere. Of course, everybody in the prosecution of the so-called ‘war on terror’ has done something dumb, dating back to the President’s worst-possible-word-selection (“crusade”) on September 16, 2001. So why wouldn’t some mid-level interrogator stuck in Cuba think it would be a good idea to desecrate a holy book? Jack Rice, the former CIA special agent and now radio host, said on Countdown that it would be a “knuckleheaded” thing to do, but “plausible.”
One of the most under-publicized analyses of 9/11 concludes that Osama Bin Laden assumed that the attacks on the U.S. would galvanize Islamic anger towards this country, and they'd overthrow their secular governments and woo-hoo we've got an international religious war. Obviously it didn't happen. It didn't even happen when the West went into Iraq. But if stuff like the Newsweek version of a now two-year old tale about toilets and Qu’rans is enough to set off rioting in the streets of countries whose nationals were not even the supposed recipients of the ‘abuse’, then weren’t those members of the military or the government with whom Newsweek vetted the plausibility of its item, honor-bound to say “you can’t print this”?
Or would somebody rather play politics with this? The way Craig Crawford reconstructed it, this one went similarly to the way the Killian Memos story evolved at the White House. The news organization turns to the administration for a denial. The administration says nothing. The news organization runs the story. The administration jumps on the necks of the news organization with both feet - or has its proxies do it for them.
That’s beyond shameful. It’s treasonous.
It’s also not very smart. While places like the Fox News Channel (which, only today, I finally recognized - it’s the newscast perpetually running on the giant video screens in the movie “1984”) ask how many heads should roll at Newsweek, it forgets in its fervor that both the story and the phony controversy around it are not so cut-and-dried this time.
Firstly, the principal reporter on the Gitmo story was Michael Isikoff - “Spikey” in a different lifetime; Linda Tripp’s favorite journalist, and one of the ten people most responsible (intentionally or otherwise) for the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Spikey isn’t just a hero to the Right - the Right owes him.
And larger still, in terms of politics, this isn't well-defined, is it? I mean Conservatives might parrot McClellan and say ‘Newsweek put this country in a bad light.’ But they could just as easily thump their chests and say ‘See, this is what we do to those prisoners at Gitmo! You guys better watch your asses!’
Ultimately, though, the administration may have effected its biggest mistake over this saga, in making the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs look like a liar or naïf, just to draw a little blood out of Newsweek’s hide. Either way - and also for that tasteless, soul-less conclusion that deaths in Afghanistan should be lain at the magazine’s doorstep - Scott McClellan should resign. The expiration on his carton full of blank-eyed bully-collaborator act passed this afternoon as he sat reeling off those holier-than-thou remarks. Ah, that’s what I smelled.
Monday, May 16, 2005
White House refutes UK Iraq memo
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Claims in a recently uncovered British memo that intelligence was "being fixed" to support the Iraq war as early as mid-2002 are "flat out wrong," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said Monday.
McClellan insisted the process leading up to the decision to go to war was "very public" -- and that the decision to invade in March 2003 was taken only after Iraq refused to comply with its "international obligations."
"The president of the United States, in a very public way, reached out to people across the world, went to the United Nations and tried to resolve this in a diplomatic manner," McClellan said.
"Saddam Hussein was the one, in the end, who chose continued defiance. And only then was the decision made, as a last resort, to go into Iraq."
However, McClellan also said he had not seen the "specific memo," only reports of what it contained.
Earlier this month, the Times of London published the minutes of a meeting of top British officials in mid-2002, including Prime Minister Tony Blair, Bush's staunchest ally in the Iraq war.
According to the minutes cited by the Times, a British official identified as "C" said that he had returned from a meeting in Washington and that "military action was now seen as inevitable" by U.S. officials.
"Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy," the memo said, according to the newspaper.
The minutes also quoted the unnamed British official as saying the U.S. National Security Council had "no patience" with taking the dispute to the United Nations and "no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record."
"There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action," the official said, according to the minutes published by the Times.
The memo also quoted British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon as saying that the final push to war would likely begin a month before the U.S. congressional elections in November 2002, with an actual attack coming in January 2003.
President Bush did begin trying to build public support for military action against Iraq during the mid-term election, which saw Republicans pick up seats in both the House and Senate. The invasion came four months later, in March 2003.
British officials have not disputed the authenticity of the memo published by the Times.
After the minutes of the meeting became public, 89 Democratic members of Congress sent a letter to Bush asking for an explanation.
The memo "raises troubling new questions regarding the legal justifications for the war, as well as the integrity of your administration," the letter said.
Find this article at: http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/05/16/iraq.memo/index.htm