Saturday, February 02, 2008

Perhaps The Very Last Ann Coulter Post Ever

-- by Sara

I don't know whether to laugh out loud or mourn the ending of an era. I do know that I'd been looking forward to the CPAC convention, which starts next Thursday, for months now -- but the conference's organizers have cruelly yanked away the single biggest reason a liberal should care.

That reason, of course, is Ann Coulter, for whom CPAC has been the annual shining moment for nearly a decade. As I pointed out shortly after last year's convention -- that's the one where where she called John Edwards a faggot -- Ann seemed to save up her most over-the-top, gobstopping, new-lows-in-bad-taste-setting remarks each year especially for this appearance, as a summary of her CPAC performances over the years amply demonstrates:
CPAC 2007 -- "I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word ‘faggot,’ so I — so kind of an impasse, can’t really talk about Edwards.”

CPAC 2006 -- "I think our motto should be post-9-11, 'raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences.'"

CPAC 2005 -- “Liberals like to scream and howl about McCarthyism, I say let’s give them some. They’ve have intellectual terror on campus for’s time for a new McCarthyism.”

“Since they’re always acting like they’re oppressed…I say let’s do it, let’s oppress them.”

“In addition to racist and Nazi, how about adding traitor to the list of things that professors can’t be? And yes, I realize I just proposed firing the entire Harvard faculty.”

CPAC 2004 -- "You can never be too scandalous in talking about liberals. These people are animals; they want to destroy the country and they support the Taliban and al-Qaida the way they supported Stalin in McCarthy's day." (She also characterized the Democratic Party as being run by "breathtakingly stupid women").

CPAC 2003 -- “Why not go to war just for oil? We need oil."

CPAC 2002 -- "In contemplating college liberals, you really regret, once again, that John Walker is not getting the death penalty. We need to execute people like John Walker in order to physically intimidate liberals by making them realize that they could be killed, too. Otherwise they will turn out into outright traitors."

(In this same talk, Coulter also accused U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta of being consumed with hatred for America, belittled his experiences in Japanese-American internment camps during World War II, and appeared to imply that she would celebrate if he were killed.)

CPAC 2001 -- Ann Coulter told the crowd that George W. Bush had done a spectacular job during his first month in office, and speculated that perhaps he is far more clever than people had believed. In less than a month, Coulter stated, Bush has managed to totally disarm the Democrat's most cliched criticism: that Republicans are mean. Coulter suggested that Bush has apparently figured out that "all you have to do is go around calling yourself nice," making it surprisingly "easy to hornswoggle liberals." Bush has managed to control the agenda, and will continue to do so, said Coulter, as long as he continues to "treat liberals like small children having nightmares." According to Coulter, it seems as if "the mistake Republicans have been making for years was to treat liberals like adults."

CPAC 2000 -- Coulter received CPAC's annual journalism award.
As I wrote last spring, there's a lot of synergy between CPAC and Coulter: over the years, each has leveraged its fame on the platform of the other. That synergy was driven by the cozy fact that Ann's publicist, Lisa de Pasquale, is also the executive director of CPAC. (Pasquale and her boyfriend, Floyd Resnick, also co-own New York Close Protection Services, which provides bodyguard services to conservative blowhards, and were also credited as research help for Michelle Malkin's book, "Unhinged.") That cozy little connection pretty much explains why Ann always saves her biggest steamers for CPAC events.

And that's why I was getting all excited. I mean, what on earth could she possibly say that would top that parade of Greatest Hits? Enquiring bloggers were squirming in their chairs, they were so eager to know.

And now it turns out that, whatever it is, she won't have the chance to say it on CPAC's rostrum this year. Ann's invitation to address the 2008 wingnut extravaganza seems to have gotten lost in the backdraft. For the first time since the late 90s, spring will come and go without a fresh Coulter outrage for liberals to bitch about. One wonders what we'll find to do with ourselves.

The Young Americans for Freedom, one of CPAC's three main sponsors, has invited her to speak at a separate YAF event that will take place at the conference. So she will have her moment to spew -- but she won't be having it on the main stage, in front of the national TV cameras. In fact, off in that corner, she'll be delightfully easy to ignore.

What we should not ignore is the victory this represents for both progressives -- who decided some time back that it was time to cut off Coulter's oxygen supply -- and for principled conservatives, who in the past year also began agitating for CPAC to shut her out, saying that her moment was over and her continued presence was actually hurting the party. Apparently, the pressure built to the point where De Pasquale, who also counted herself as a close personal friend of Ann's, finally had to pull the plug.

Don Imus is gone (though crawling back through the side alleys). Melanie Morgan's numbers are in the sewer. Chris Matthews was forced to apologize on air. Michael Savage lost four of his major sponsors. And now this.

Wear them like feathers in your cap whenever someone tries to tell you that progressives don't have the power to change the discourse. We are getting better by the day at changing the messengers; and if we keep at it, we'll continue to reclaim our share of the media as well.

Rolling right along

-- by Dave

The donations are still coming in for our annual fund-raiser, and so are the shout-outs from friends and colleagues.

Joining the honor roll today:
Charles Pierce at Altercation

Pacific Views


I Am TRex [a post that has me a bit conflicted; see my comment near the end]

This is definitely the most successful Orcinus fund-raiser ever -- we now stand at $6,529.23!

Thanks all. Someone knock me over with a feather.

Speaking truth to ... er ... something

-- by Dave

Damn, Michelle Malkin is finally starting to make sense, via Sadly, No! and Chet Scoville:
So, Arnold Schwarzenegger endorsed John McCain. He extolled McCain for “reach[ing] across the political aisle to get things done.”

We’ll hear that annoying platitude a bazillion and one times through Super Tuesday and beyond.

To which I say: When did it become the Republican Party’s top priority to “get things done?”

Damn straight. The past eight years have made clear to everyone that the Republican Party's top priority was to "fuck things up."

Friday, February 01, 2008

If conservatives really, really hate being called fascists ... #3

-- by Dave

... maybe they shouldn't talk and act like them.

Maybe they shouldn't, at every turn, reveal their innate misogyny every time they talk about Hillary Clinton -- or for that matter, virtually any liberal woman politician.
[RUSH] LIMBAUGH: But a lot of Democrats are worried that, you know, she doesn't have what it takes. She doesn't connect on TV. We talked about this. She doesn't come across as friendly. She doesn't -- she, you know, she's like -- my favorite name for her is Nurse Ratched. I mean, we created this whole concept of a testicle lockbox in connection with Mrs. Clinton. I mean, she has that kind of appeal to people. She's -- you fill in the blanks here.
-- Source

[WILLIE] GEIST: Well, I think the metaphor in this next story, Tucker, is pretty clear. So I will just report the straight facts. The newest collector's item on the presidential campaign trail is a Hillary Clinton nutcracker. They're going like hot cakes in Rochester, Minnesota, where the idea for the nutcracker was hatched.

It's a Hillary doll with serrated stainless steel thighs that, well, crack nuts. If you can't make to it Minnesota to pick one up, you can go to and that could be yours for the low, low price of $19.95. They'll also throw in a bag of Hillary nuts for five bucks. Now, I don't know what they're getting at here, Tucker. What do you think they're saying about Hillary?

[TUCKER] CARLSON: I don't know, but that is so perfect. I have often said, when she comes on television, I involuntarily cross my legs.

GEIST: I know you do.

CARLSON: I'm getting one, by the way.
-- Source

Cliff May:

Gene, this is an amazing statistic: 94 percent of women say they'd be more likely to vote if a woman were on the ballot. I think of all the times I voted for people just because they're male. You know? The ballot comes up, and I'm like, "Wow. He's a dude. I think I'll vote for him. We've got similar genitalia. I'm -- he's getting my vote."

Questioner: How do we beat the bitch?

McCain: [laughs] All right, may I give the translation? ...

Audience member: I thought she was talking about my ex-wife.

McCain: [laughs harder, pauses] ... But that's an excellent question.
-- Source

Frank Luntz:

I always use the line for Nancy Pelosi, "You get one shot at a facelift. If it doesn't work the first time, let it go."

Ann Coulter:

I think [women] should be armed but should not [be allowed to] vote. No, they all have to give up their vote, not just, you know, the lady clapping and me. The problem with women voting — and your Communists will back me up on this — is that, you know, women have no capacity to understand how money is earned. They have a lot of ideas on how to spend it. And when they take these polls, it’s always more money on education, more money on child care, more money on day care.”

Ann Coulter:

“If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream, it’s a personal fantasy of mine, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women.

“It also makes the point, it is kind of embarrassing, the Democratic Party ought to be hanging its head in shame, that it has so much difficulty getting men to vote for it. I mean, you do see it’s the party of women and ‘We’ll pay for health care and tuition and day care — and here, what else can we give you, soccer moms?’”

Ann Coulter, discussing George W. Bush's "gender gap" with women voters:

"I'm so pleased with my gender. We're not that bright."

Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism:

"The quintessential liberal fascist isn’t an SS storm trooper; it is a female grade-school teacher with an education degree from Brown or Swarthmore."

Of course, misogyny existed long before fascism, and will probably exist long after its memory vanishes. But as with torture and eliminationism, it is a significant and definitive facet in the complex of traits that constitute the fascist reality.

It's important to remember, as we've explained previously, that fascism is not a single, readily identifiable principle, or even a discrete ideology as we typically understand such things, but more of a political pathology. It is best understood (as in psychology) as a constellation of traits. Psychological pathologies are rarely boiled down to a single trait or behavior; rather, they comprise a constellation of these, and only when a particular combination manifests itself can we identify them as a real pathology. The same applies to a political pathology like fascism: some traits can give us an outline of a given syndrome, but only when all the stars align can we confirm the diagnosis.

Taken individually, many of these traits seem innocuous enough, even readily familiar, part of the traditional American political hurly-burly. A few of them are present throughout the political spectrum -- but definitely not all of them. Only when a particular combination manifests itself can we identify them as a real pathology. It is only when they come together in a particular alignment does the constellation become clear. And when it comes together, it is fated to take on a life of its own.

Misogyny, as I've explained at length previously, plays a critical psychological role in the fascist worldview:
Hitler and Mussolini both were ardent in their sexism: "The Nazi Revolution will be an entirely male event" was one of Hitler's most repeated phrases. Hitler's views on women, in fact, were a core component of the Nazis' mass psychological appeal, and were widespread throughout fascist movements. What was remarkable, perhaps, about the Nazis was the open glee with which they murdered women; they retained the ancient Catholic hatred of female putrefication, but freed from whatever constraints might have existed in the context of a church, they became relentlessly violent.

The German scholar Klaus Theweleit a few years ago examined the literature created in the post-World War I Weimar Germany by the paramilitary Nazis called the Freikorpsmen, and published his findings in a two-volume work titled Male Fantasies.

Theweleit found that, essentially, the fascist psychodrama entailed a wholesale unleashing of male desire, including incest, rape and murder. The fascist mindset entailed reveling in control over the bodies of others, embodied perhaps in their embrace of torture. And at the bloody beating heart of it all was a pathological fear of women.

The Nazis, who envisioned themselves as forging a revolutionary future, had no real place for women except in a secondary role -- as mothers and helpful supportmates. To this extent, their ideal Nazi woman was described thus:

Therefore a woman belongs at the side of a man not just as a person who brings children into this world, not just as an adornment to delight the eye, not just as a cook and a cleaner. Instead woman has the holy duty to be a life companion, which means being a comrade who pursues her vocation as woman with clarity of vision and spiritual warmth.

-- Paula Siber, "The New German Woman," 1933, from Fascism [1995, Oxford University Press], edited by Roger Griffin

Theweleit describes the resulting pathology thus:

Men themselves were now split into a (female) interior and a (male) exterior -- the body armor. And as we know, the interior and exterior were mortal enemies. ... What fascism promised men was the reintegration of their hostile components under tolerable conditions, dominance of the hostile "female" element within themselves. ...

As a matter of course, fascism excluded women from the public arena and the realms of male production. But fascism added a further oppression to the oppression of women: When a fascist male went into combat against erotic, "flowing," unsubjugated women, he was also fighting his own unconscious, his own desiring-production. This is clear from the fact that whereas in World War I, the Hohenzollern women had posed as nurses, Hitler concealed his "beloved" from the public. Not only was she useless for the rituals that maintained Hitler's rule, she would have gotten in the way.

Indeed, this is about how Hitler himself spoke regarding women:

Man's universe is vast compared to that of a woman. Man is taken up with his ideas, his preoccupations. It's only incidental if he devotes his thoughts to a woman. Woman's universe, on the other hand, is man. She sees nothing else, so to speak, and that is why she's capable of loving so deeply.

-- Adolf Hitler, Hitler's Secret Conversations, pp. 344-345.

In his 1989 book Our Contempt for Weakness: Nazi Norms and Values -- and Our Own, Norwegian scholar Harald Ofstad sums it up:

The Nazi view of sex roles is based on conventional notions taken to extremes. Sexuality has no intrinsic value; it is only a means of unleashing the power of men and the strength of the nation. Women are instruments.

A real man can never have any deep emotional contact with a woman. Her world is totally at odds with his. Real men can only have meaningful contact with other men, e.g., in such organizations as the SS. There they share the bonds of companionship and loyalty to their leader.

As Ehrenreich, in the foreword to Male Fantasies, explained, the Nazi compartmentalized the women of his world. To fall outside the "acceptable" role for women in Nazi society meant that one was an Enemy. And they reserved some of their most venomous hatred for such women:

In the Freikorpsman's life, there are three kinds of women: those who are absent, such as the wives and fiancees left behind, and generally unnamed and unnoted in the Freikorpsmen's most intimate diaries; the women who appear in the imagination and on the literal battlefront as "white nurses," chaste, upper-class German women; and finally, those who are his class enemies -- the "Red women" whom he faces in angry mobs and sometimes even in single combat.

Theweleit later describes this latter class in more detail:

The description of the proletarian woman as monster, as a beast that unfortunately cannot be dealt with merely by "planting a fist" in its "ugly puss," hardly derives from the actual behavior of women in situations such as those described above ... Rather, it can be traced to an attempt to construct a fantastic being who swears, shrieks, spits, scratches, farts, bites, pounces, tears to shreds; who is slovenly, wind-whipped, hissing-red, indecent; who whores around, slaps its naked thighs, and can't get enough of laughing at these men. ... [p. 67]

Women who don't conform to any of the "good woman" images are automatically seen as prostitutes, as the vehicles of "urges." They are evil and out to castrate, and they are treated accordingly. The men are soldiers. Fighting is their life, and they aren't about to wait until that monstrous thing happens to them. They take the offensive before these women can put their horrible plans into practice. [p. 171]

Hitler made an explicit link between "liberal" feminist and suffrage movements -- which even then were working to undermine the traditional disempowerment of women -- and Jews shortly after obtaining the chancellorhood in 1933. The next year he denounced the so-called New Woman as the "invention of Jewish intellectuals." He also urged German women to reject as unnatural the "overlapping of the spheres of activity of the sexes" as embodied in "Jewish intellectualism."

Hitler was fond of complaining about "feminized" Christianity and consistently prescribed a vision of Christ as "a fighter" and of the faith as "manly" and "hard." The Nazis' Christian wing, the Deutsche Christen, likewise railed against how "feminized" the church had become, and argued for a "virile" vision of the faith.

After Hitler's defeat, this pathology again slithered to the fringes. Mostly you could find complaints about "feminized" Christianity from folks like Identity pastor Pete Peters and Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler. The former, in fact, was fond of describing the source of the "feminization" thus:

The Jewish leaders believe they already control America. Recently, one of them stated publicly: "We have castrated Gentile society, through fear and intimidation. It's manhood exists only in combination with a feminine outward appearance. Being so neutered, the populace has become docile and easy to rule. As all geldings are by nature, their thoughts are not concerned with the future, or their posterity, BUT ONLY WITH THE PRESENT and the next meal." What a perfect "word picture of modern American society. It is the attitude of Christians, who don't want to be involved, and allow Jews, to control the school and often the church. We MUST break these fatal bonds, if we are to remain free.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, however, a lot of this talk -- as well as the vision of the "warrior Jesus" -- has returned with some intensity to the mainstream, though there had already been some seepage from the far right in the previous decade. Much of it, in fact, is closely associated with the increasing prevalence of pseudo-fascist thought as part of our political discourse. As we've well established by now, any American fascism is going to be wrapped in a flag and thumping on a Bible, extolling the virtues of "tradition" that includes sex and gender roles. And that's what we're getting.

It cannot be a mere coincidence, in fact, that while this is occurring, we're seeing more psychotic murders by controlling males whose chief mission seems to be to bring women under control and to avenge the damage done to their own twisted souls.

Stan Goff at Truthdig has been paying attention to the fascist undertow, and he notes:

The rise of fascistic masculinity prefigures systemic fascism, often in the form of vigilantism. Gun culture is steeped in vigilantism, which is steeped in military lore. Guns in this milieu transcend their practical uses and take on a powerful symbolic significance.

In the last decade, the National Rifle Association (NRA), which has always had close ties with the military, has been taken over from what are considered within the organization as "moderates," that is, those whose message emphasizes peaceful, law-abiding gun use, like hunting (which is not peaceful for the game animals, but that's another issue).

During my service with 3rd Special Forces Group in Haiti in 1994, members of the SFU initiated back-channel communications in support of the right-wing death squad network, FRAPH.

Two of the favored preoccupations of [Steve] Barry, the SFU, Soldier of Fortune, and the NRA were Ruby Ridge, where Vicki Harris, the wife of an ex-Special Forces white supremacist (Randy Weaver), was killed by an FBI sniper with her baby in her arms, and the outrage at Waco against the Branch Davidians.

... My critique of gun culture is a critique of those sectors for which guns have been combined with imaginary enemies and taken on a deeply symbolic value as tokens of a violent, reactionary masculinity that fantasizes about armed conflict as a means to actualize its paranoid male sexual identity.

The problem is that this reaction is far from ab-normal.

There is a kind of interlocking directorate between white nationalists, gun culture, right-wing politicians, mercenary culture (like Soldier of Fortune), vigilante and militia movements, and elements within both Special Forces and—now—the privatized mercenary forces. It is hyper-masculine, racialist, militaristic and networked.

If one simply pays attention to cultural production in the United States, especially film and video games, it is fairly easy to see that the very memes that are the cells within the body of white nationalist militarism are ubiquitous within our general cultural norms. The film genre that most closely corresponds to a fascist mind-set is the male revenge fantasy, wherein after some offense is given that signifies the breakdown of order (usually resulting in the death or mortal imperilment of idealized wives or children) in which Enlightenment social conventions prove inadequate, and the release of irrational male violence is required to set the world straight again. Any reader can list these fantasies without a cue. It is one of the most common film genres in American society.

Arthur Silber (via Avedon at Eschaton) explores this point even further:

One of the most fascinating parts of Goff's discussion is his focus on the sexual and gender part of this equation: how surpassingly and bloodily violent "masculinity" is glorified and romanticized, in stark and negative contrast to a "weak," "vacillating," and ultimately useless "femininity." To see the popularized version of the "general cultural norms" that Goff mentions, you need only watch the hugely popular television series 24. Courtesy of a friend, I recently watched all of season four. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to imagine a more repellent embodiment of vicious, revenge-driven, murderous male fantasies, replete with innumerable bloody deaths and even the noxious idea that torture "works." That last idea is indisputably false, but even Hillary Clinton now repeats the lies that inflict monstrous pain, and that ultimately kill. So much for "opposition" to the rising tide of barbarism. And series like 24 are the manure out of which grows our fascist future.

Much of the outrage directed at 24 (such that can be found) focuses on the regular use of torture, and on the savage notion that torture is "effective" (and that "they deserve it," too, of course). But keeping Goff's broader analysis in mind, it is crucial to appreciate the more complex system that 24 and similar propaganda glorifies, including most especially the system of myths upon which such "entertainment" relies. Tens of millions of Americans are being conditioned every day to view an incomprehensibly violent, utterly arbitrary militarized domestic state as representing "virtue," and indeed a necessary virtue: supposedly necessary to protect us from the enemy, who is now to be found everywhere. Perhaps it's your next-door neighbor. That day, too, may not be all that far away.

Making such observations, incidentally, is quite a different thing than what Jonah Goldberg claims liberals do with great regularity, which is to simply conflate conservatism with fascism because they're both "on the right." Indeed, the purpose of pointing all this out is to emphasize that there always has been a bright line of demarcation between conservatives and fascists -- though the latter, in recent years, have been intent on erasing that line, and the former have been seemingly content to go along. And it's in everyone's interest (except the fascists') to call it out.

Indeed, when I criticized paleo-conservatives and pseudo-libertarians like Justin Raiomondo for claiming that "today's conservatives are fascists," I emphasized this:
What all of them miss, importantly, is the role of movement leaders -- particularly Bush, Cheney, Karl Rove, and the neocons -- in encouraging these proto-fascist traits. There is no evidence that they're doing so because they themselves are actually proto-fascists; rather, I think it remains clear that these people are pro-corporate crony capitalists, and the evidence strongly suggests that they're indulging this style of politics for the sake of shoring up their numbers and securing their political base. The strongest evidence for this is the ongoing minuet the Bush administration dances with the neo-Confederate faction that now rules the South.

In other words, "movement conservatives" are being molded into a mindset that increasingly resembles classic fascism, but it's being done by leaders who mostly find this mindset convenient and readily manipulable. Unfortunately, the history of fascism is such that the arrogant corporatist belief that they contain these forces is not well grounded.

What's important to understand is the real dynamic: A growing populist "movement" is being encouraged increasingly to adopt attitudes that, taken together, become increasingly fascist. Greater numbers of individuals are being conditioned to think alike, and more importantly, to accept an increasingly vicious response to dissent. This does not mean that genuine fascism has arrived as a real political force in America; but it does mean the groundwork is being created for just such a nightmare, by irresponsible politicians tapping into terrible forces beyond their ability to control.

Aided and abetted, of course, by their Newspeak-spewing propagandists.

[A note explaining this series.]

Spreading the bullshit

-- by Dave

Yesterday Glenn Beck teamed up with Minutemanmeister Jim Gilchrist to spew anti-Latino bigotry in the form of the decrepit and discredited claim that Latino advocacy groups are actually "racist" -- a claim that actually has its origins in the white-supremacist far right:
GILCHRIST: La Raza and MEChA are, in my opinion, the largest organized racial supremacy group in the United States today. And if we're going to have a La Raza Plaza sign, what's next? A KKK Plaza sign, a Black Panther Plaza sign? This goes right to the heart of free speech.

The broadcast raised a number of eyebrows for its outrageousness. But the truth is, this entire line of argument -- despite its utter falsity -- has become a standard talking point for conservatives.

You can find it everywhere -- even, for instance, in Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism:
Certain quarters of the left assert that "Zionism equals racism" and that the Israelis are equivalent to Nazis. As invidious and problematic as those characterizations are, why aren't we hearing similar denunciations of groups ranging from the National Council of La Raza -- that is, "The Race" -- to the radical Hispanic group MEChA, whose motto -- "Por La Raza todo, Fuera de La Raza nada" -- means everything for the race, nothing outside the race?" Why is it that when a white man spouts such nonsense it's "objectively" fascist, but when a person of color says the same thing it's merely an expression of fashionable multiculturalism?

Well, as I pointed out at the time:
This is factually false on several counts.

-- First, the slogan "Por La Raza todo, Fuerna de La Raza nada" is not the MEChA "motto." (It was simply a slogan crafted by late '60s Chicano radicals who used it in a handful of early MEChA documents.) MEChA's actual motto is La union hace la fuerza, or "Unity creates power."

-- Second, Goldberg (whose language skills, as Jeet Heer has observed, are something of a problem for his text anyway) mistranslates the slogan -- though, as we noted when exploring the MEChA meme, he is hardly the first to do so. In addition to Michelle Malkin's use of this mistranslation, it has subsequently appeared in a multitude of conservative attacks on MEChA, both in the mainstream media (see, for example, Bustamante's Fox interview, cited by Mickey Kaus, at which he was obviously baffled by the distorted translation) and throughout the blogosphere.

The slogan is intended as a declaration of fealty to one's community and their cultural heritage. Its syntax is clearly inward, not outward, in orientation. A more accurate translation would read, "In service of my people, everything; [for] apart from my people, [I have] nothing."

-- Third, "La Raza," as the Wikipedia entry accurately explains, is correctly translated not as "the race" but "the people," since it refers generically to "the people of Latin America" (or more narrowly, "of Mexico"). It's generically a multiracial term, not a racist one.

The most amusing part of Gilchrist's rant came a little further in the interview:
BROOKS: Well, speaking about bigotry, Jim, I've read that the Anti-Defamation League, ADL, has gotten involved in this campaign. What dog do they have in this fight?

GILCHRIST: Fundraising. Anti-Defamation League, like the Southern Poverty Law Center, are professional fundraising groups. And if they can proliferate hate by using people like Mark Krikorian and the Center for Immigration Studies or Jim Gilchrist, Minuteman Project, as a target for their hate, they can raise millions of dollars.

BROOKS: They monitor hate groups. They monitor hate groups. I mean --

GILCHRIST: They don't. They participate in encouraging and proliferating hate. These are not groups that you want to get -- you rely on for any valid information.

Especially not when they use a mountain of evidence to make abundantly clear what a pack of hateful, xenophobic vigilantes Jim Gilchrist and his friends are.

You'll note, perhaps, that Gilchrist's line of argument in dismissing the SPLC and ADL is awfully similar to Jonah's in dismissing my critique of his work as well -- attack the messenger's motives, and don't discuss the facts in question.

The fund-raiser: New heights

-- by Dave

Wow. The donations have been coming in steadily for our annual fund-raiser, and they've been both numerous and generous. As of this morning, we've hit $5,827.97, meaning this is the most successful fund-raiser we've ever had.

A lot has to do with all the great shout-outs we're getting. In addition to yesterday's batch, several more came up in the interim, all of them incredibly flattering:

Pam's House Blend

paradox at the Left Coaster

A Chicken is Not Pillage

Polite Company

Newsrack Blog

Many, many thanks to all. I'm still blown away by all this.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Stealing Our Future, Part II: Democracy, Fear, and the War on the Middle Class

-- by Sara

This week's piece is up over at The Big Con as of today. (If you've been wondering where I've been hiding out while Dave was so energetically and thoroughly working over Jonah Goldberg, now you know.) It's a sequel to last week's piece on how the conservative war on America's infrastructure is undermining our ability to function as a democracy.

Also, a piece I wrote for Group News Blog last week on how RU-486 is changing the politics of abortion will (according to their editors) be appearing on Alternet's front page in the next couple days.

As you can see: I've been a very busy blogger the past week or two -- just not a lot of it here. I hope to fix that tomorrow.

In the meantime, I'd also like to echo Dave's thanks to everyone who threw a coin in the tin cup to keep this place going for another year. You are, quite simply, the best.

If conservatives really, really hate being called fascists ... #2

-- by Dave

... then maybe they shouldn't talk and act like them.

Maybe they shouldn't, in the name of the "war on terror," begin condoning torture as an acceptable tactic for American military or intelligence officials.

And maybe conservatives shouldn't show such enthusiasm for the idea, either.

CALLER: It was like a college fraternity prank that stacked up naked men --

LIMBAUGH: Exactly. Exactly my point! This is no different than what happens at the Skull and Bones initiation and we're going to ruin people's lives over it and we're going to hamper our military effort, and then we are going to really hammer them because they had a good time. You know, these people are being fired at every day. I'm talking about people having a good time, these people, you ever heard of emotional release? You ever heard of need to blow some steam off?

...LIMBAUGH: You know, if you look at -- if you, really, if you look at these pictures, I mean, I don't know if it's just me, but it looks just like anything you'd see Madonna, or Britney Spears do on stage. Maybe I'm -- yeah. And get an NEA grant for something like this. I mean, this is something that you can see on stage at Lincoln Center from an NEA grant, maybe on Sex in the City -- the movie. I mean, I don't -- it's just me.
Rush Limbaugh, May 4, 2004

Which brings me to this week's scandal about No Such Agency [NSA] spying on "Americans." I have difficulty ginning up much interest in this story inasmuch as I think the government should be spying on all Arabs, engaging in torture as a televised spectator sport, dropping daisy cutters wantonly throughout the Middle East and sending liberals to Guantanamo.
Ann Coulter, Dec. 21, 2005

It turns out that the most unpleasant aspect of life at Guantanamo for the detainees came with the move out of the temporary "Camp X-Ray." Apparently, wanton homosexual sex among the inmates is more difficult in their newer, more commodious quarters. (Suspiciously, detainees retailing outlandish tales of abuse to the ACLU often include the claim that they were subjected to prolonged rectal exams.) Plus, I hear the views of the Caribbean aren't quite as good from their new suites.

Even the tales of "torture" being pawned off by the detainees on credulous American journalists are pretty lame.

The Washington Post reported that a detainee at Guantanamo says he was "threatened with sexual abuse." (Bonus "Not Torture" rule: If it is similar to the way interns were treated in the Clinton White House.)
Ann Coulter, June 23, 2005

I don't mean to be too comedic in the political arena, but these so called abuse photos frankly are mild by comparisons to what goes on in South of Market clubs in San Francisco.

... And eventually you're gonna find that we need more of the humiliation tactics, not less. ...

I don't know what its gonna take for you to finally welcome what the troops are doing, what the interrogators were doing until you finally recognize the enemy, the true face of the enemy and what its gonna take to break this death grip that they seem to have on the minds of the Democrats. ...

These people don't fear death, they fear humiliation. The only way to humiliate them is take their deepest fear, the pig, the dog, the woman with the leash, and use it on them to break them!

... Instead of putting joysticks, I would have liked to have seen dynamite put in their orifices and they should be dropped from airplanes. How's that? You like that one? Go call somebody that you want to report me to, see if I care. They should put dynamite in their behinds and drop them from 35,000 feet, the whole pack of scum out of that jail.
Michael Savage, May 10-11, 2004

GLENN BECK: Waterboarding, everybody was on board when this particular case happened. It was effective. I don't believe waterboarding is torture. Some do. That's okay. That's a debate. But now it's being played as if it was the evil United States torturing people when everyone was on board because we thought another attack was right around the corner.

REPRESENTATIVE POE: That's correct. The people are switching sides on this very issue and many people talk about waterboarding. They don't even know what it is but they --

BECK: Do you believe it's torture?

REPRESENTATIVE POE: I don't believe it's torture at all, I certainly don't. You know --

BECK: You know, I've wondered because it does [no] physical damage. It supposedly freaks the living daylight out of you but it does no damage to you physically.
Glenn Beck and Rep. Ted Poe, Dec. 12, 2007

[A brief editorial interruption: As Human Rights Watch points out, while waterboarding can be performed in ways that do not cause lasting physical damage, it often is not. and when it is not, not only causes extreme pain, damage to the lungs, brain damage caused by oxygen deprivation, and injuries (including broken bones) due to struggling against restraints, it can also cause death. Moreover, waterboarding victims -- like victims of all kinds of torture -- suffer psychological effects that endure for years, even decades.]
"I believe every opponent of waterboarding would use the technique if it would save their children, their spouse, their mother and father from death. So why should other people die while politicians debate ethics? In my opinion, it is immoral to allow terrorists to kill people when you can stop them. ... Opponents of tough interrogations are lost in a fog of misguided indignation, crazy with hatred for Bush."
Bill O'Reilly, Dec. 11, 2007

IFILL: I just would like to — but do you think that waterboarding, as I described it, constitutes torture?

SEN. KIT BOND: There are different ways of doing it. It’s like swimming: freestyle, backstroke. The waterboarding could be used almost to define some of the techniques that our trainees are put through, but that’s beside the point. It’s not being used.
Sen. Kit Bond, Dec. 11, 2007

"Our rules for interrogation need to catch-up with this awful new form of war that is being fought against all of us and the free world. The post-World War II standards do not apply to this new war.

"We must redefine how our lawful society treats those who have nothing but contempt for the law and rely on terrorizing the innocent to accomplish their objectives. The lines must be redrawn and then we must pursue these criminals as quickly and as aggressively as the law permits."
The Rev. Lou Sheldon, Traditional Values Coalition

Michael Mukasey: I don't think I'm saying it is simply a relative issue. There is a statute under which it is a relative issue. I think the Detainee Treatment Act engages the standard under the Constitution, which is a "shocks the conscience" standard, which is essentially a balancing test of the value of doing something as against the cost of doing it --

Sen. Joe Biden: When you say "against the cost of doing it," do you mean the cost that might occur in human life if you failed to do it, do you mean the cost in terms of our sensibilities in what we think is appropriate and inappropriate behavior as a civilized society --

Mukasey: I chose the wrong word. I meant the heinousness of doing it, the cruelty of doing it, balanced against the value.

Biden: Balanced against what value?

Mukasey: Of what information you might get.

[Via Digby; also, what she said. Meanwhile, Marty Lederman at Balkinization has more.]
The point is that terrorism has consequences beyond life and property. It requires a tightening of liberty no one desires. The prevention of terrorism prevents the need, real or perceived, for further tightening. The Pelosi cop-out is that if you’re scared and angry, you get a free pass to do things you find morally objectionable. Well, terrorism makes people scared and angry; that’s sort of why they call it “terrorism.”
Jonah Goldberg, Dec. 14, 2007

But there is no equivalent word for murder when it comes to torture. It’s always evil. Yet that’s not our universal reaction. In movies and on TV, good men force evil men to give up information via methods no nicer than what the CIA is allegedly employing. If torture is a categorical evil, shouldn’t we boo Jack Bauer on Fox’s 24? There’s a reason we keep hearing about the ticking time bomb scenario in the torture debate: Is abuse justified in getting a prisoner to reveal the location of a bomb that would kill many when detonated? We understand that in such a situation, Americans would expect to be protected. That’s why human-rights activists have tried to declare this scenario a red herring.

Sullivan complains that calling torture “aggressive interrogation techniques” doesn’t make torture any better. Fair enough. But calling aggressive interrogation techniques “torture” when they’re not doesn’t make such techniques any worse.
Jonah Goldberg, Sept. 27, 2006

The issue here is context. Coercion of the sort we’re discussing is used by good guys and bad guys alike — in films and in real life. Just as with guns and fistfights, the morality of violence depends in large part on the motives behind it (that’s got to be one of the main reasons so many on the left oppose the war: They distrust Bush’s motives. Very few of Bush critics are true pacifists).

American audiences — another word for the American public — understand this. A recent poll by AP-Ipsos shows that some 61 percent of Americans believe torture can be justified in some cases. Interestingly, roughly half of the residents of that self-described “moral superpower” Canada agreed, as did a majority of French citizens and a huge majority of South Koreans.
Jonah Goldberg, Dec. 9, 2005

You see, if conservatives were serious about not wanting to be mistaken for fascists, they'd not only eschew such talk, they would denounce it.

There are many reasons to associate torture, and the public acceptance of its use, with fascism. When movement conservatives become defenders and advocates of the practice, people tend to just naturally think -- Fascist!

And for good reason:
It's not that torture is unique to fascism. It has, after all, been around since the Dark Ages, and remained alive as a component of theocratic and feudal states for centuries. Certainly it has always been a commonplace feature of communist regimes as well, with the Soviets and Chinese providing abundant examples. What can be said generally is that torture is a feature of totalitarianism, regardless of its content.

But it occupies a unique position in the fascist ideological hierarchy, which is, after all, not so much a cohesive ideology but a multifaceted pathology. What makes fascism so potent on a personal level is its psychosexual component, expressed mostly as a desire to purge "unhealthy" elements through eliminationist violence, including the control of the body of the Other, and the ability to inflict purgative pain and suffering on that body. (For more on this, see Klaus Theweleit's study of this aspect of fascism, Male Fantasies, especially Vol. II.)

Fascists are particularly fond of torture because it represents such a complete expression of the fascist will to power. So when a nation adopts torture as an officially condoned policy -- as the United States has just done -- it immediately raises the specter that, indeed, it may be descending into the fascist abyss.

Of course, beyond its mere fascist qualities, there are many other good reasons for thinking, decent Americans to stand their ground on the use of torture.

For starters, there are serious practical reasons not to condone torture, the most obvious being that it encourages and induces similar treatment for American prisoners.

More significantly, torture is obviously immoral, and its open embrace by conservatives reflects more on the black hole that is their movement's soul than their actual desire to "keep the nation secure." The same can be said of the nation's media, who have stood silently by while these practices became imbedded in the system.

Movement conservatives have lost sight of what the norms of human decency are when they condone torture and the abrogation of both national and international law in the process. As the late Joan Fitzpatrick put it:
The prohibition on torture is a peremptory norm of customary international law binding on all nations. The torturer is the enemy of all mankind.

The same, it could be said, is true of the fascist. Indeed, torture (like eliminationism) is one of the real harbingers of fascism. And it's the words and actions of conservatives themselves that make the connection between the two in people's minds.

[A note explaining this series.]

The KIRO clusterfuck

-- by Dave

Seattle's radio market is possibly the best example of why the demise of the Fairness Doctrine and the rise of mass corporate-owned media have combined to create real distortions in the information market.

Located within our market are not one but two stations devoted to nothing but right-wing talk -- KVI-AM and KTTH-AM, both with plenty of "local talent" (including KTTH's Michael Medved) in addition to the nationally syndicated bile from the likes of Limbaugh and Savage. Meanwhile, the only "liberal" talk station, KPTK-AM, is all canned stuff.

One of the only local liberal talk shows of any note was David Goldstein's weekend gig at KIRO-AM, a station which otherwise mostly features the work of the very centrist Dave Ross and the unlistenable right-winger Dori Monson, notorious for being a WATB and a generally vindictive little prick.

The funny thing is, Seattle is a very liberal town. And hardly anyone I know who lives here actually listens to AM radio at all anymore, because the range of offerings has gotten so bad. So the right-wing talkers can justify their existence by pointing to the relatively good showing they make in the market, but no one acknowledges that in reality, talk radio in Seattle is a barren wasteland that most people avoid.

So what did KIRO do this week? Why, they fired Goldy, of course -- along with its only other liberal talkers, Carl Jeffers and Bryan Styble. Ostensibly, it's for "budgetary" reasons -- though everyone knows that's bullshit.

KIRO, you see, is owned by Bonneville International. BI also owns KTTH (which calls itself, incidentally, "the Truth" -- in Russian, that translates as "Pravda"). Its right-wing lineup went utterly untouched. How can they justify taking Seattle's only local liberal talkers off the air while leaving us with a lineup that includes the likes of David Boze (ugh!)?

Blatherwatch has all the details, including an internal report that makes clear this is can largely be laid at the feet of Monson, who's hated Goldy since nearly the day he was hired for having had the audacity to criticize him.

I'm hoping my readers outside of Seattle are outraged by this travesty too. If you are, please feel free to sign the online letter to KIRO telling management how you feel.

The big fund-raiser boost

-- by Dave

Wow! We had a big jump of nearly $2000 overnight in the fund-raising drive, nearly doubling the total already.

I have a lot of folks to thank, including the many donors (who will be hearing from me personally). But I also have to say thanks!!!!! to the many fellow bloggers who gave the drive a shout-out at their sites.

The fabulous honor roll:

Matt Stoller at Open Left

d at Lawyers, Guns and Money


Susie Madrak

The General



Lean Left

Upper Left

The American Street

Doug's Dynamic Drivel

Many thanks to all. I'll continue updating as we go along. And if I missed your shout-out, drop me a line.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Decemberists in January

We're off to see the Decemberists at the Moore Theatre tonight. I've been looking forward to this show since last fall, having purchased tickets for their originally scheduled December show at the Moore.

A bit of trivia: Mrs. Orcinus used to babysit Colin Meloy when he was a toddler living in Helena, Mont.

If conservatives really, really hate being called fascists ... #1

-- by Dave

... then maybe they should stop talking and behaving like them.

Maybe they should refrain from adorning their book covers with logos ...

... that have enjoyed circulation among various neo-Nazi "pop" figures for several years now.

[A note about this series.]

Conservatives and fascism

-- by Dave
"Now for the evidence," said the King, "and then the sentence."

"No!" said the Queen, "first the sentence, and then the evidence!"

"Nonsense!" cried Alice, so loudly that everybody jumped, "the idea of having the sentence first!"

"Hold your tongue!" said the Queen.

"I won't!" said Alice, "you're nothing but a pack of cards! Who cares for you?"

Dealing with Jonah Goldberg over his book Liberal Fascism has been like talking with the Queen of Hearts from Alice: Sentence first, evidence later. The sentence being: "Nyah nyah nyah, you liberals are the real fascists!"

It's been abundantly clear, as I've noted, that what has animated this entire enterprise has been his desire to refute the old easy left-wing name-calling canard identifying conservatives with fascism. It's been a constant refrain in nearly every interview, and he also spells it out in text (p. 329):
Ever since I joined the public conversation as a conservative writer, I've been called a fascist and a Nazi by smug, liberal know-nothings, sublimely confident of the truth of their ill-informed prejudices. Responding to this slander is, as a point of personal privilege alone, a worthwhile endeavor.

I think Timothy Noah at Slate has it about right:
Liberal Fascism is a howl of rage disguised as intellectual history. Some mean liberals called Goldberg hurtful names, so he's responding with 400 pages that boil down to: I know you are, but what am I?

Indeed, it's clear that Goldberg, having settled upon not merely his thesis -- "nyah, nyah, nyah, etc." -- but simultaneously his title, then did his merry best to go about finding anything and everything that would support them. This includes, of course, eliding nearly every bit of the mountain of real-world evidence that, in truth, "fascism is a phenomenon of the right."

As things have gone along, its also included making the claim that he got his title from a speech by H.G. Wells that announced the phrase and concept of "liberal fascism" (which, as John Holbo explains in detail, was derided even then as an oxymoron, and gained no traction whatever). In his Bloggingheads interview with Will Wilkinson, Goldberg even received absolution of sorts for his obviously provocative title by virtue of the notion that "I didn't make it up, it came from Wells!"

He's made the same defense at NRO, where he wrote:
I tried to explain, for those whose feelings were so hurt they didn’t even crack the spine, that the title Liberal Fascism comes from a speech delivered by H. G. Wells...

But strangely, this seems to directly contradict what he wrote in the book -- specifically, on p. 429, in note 19:
I did not get the title of this book from Wells's speech, but I was delighted to discover the phrase has such a rich intellectual history.

Of course, Goldberg is being entirely disingenuous by saying that he didn’t invent the phrase. Because he’s perfectly aware that he’s trying to introduce a new, “controversial” concept. Right there on p. 21, near the end of the Introduction, he writes:

The introduction of a novel term like “liberal fascism” obviously requires an explanation.

So, is he “introducing a novel term” or is he just quoting H.G. Wells? Goldberg, like another Queen of Hearts, wants to have his cake and eat it too (a consistent MO throughout both his book and his subsequent defense of it).

Ah well. I'm sure that for pointing this out, we can just be summarily dismissed again as Marxist dupes. "Off with their heads!"

And of course, it's become manifestly clear that Goldberg's whining about how "no one on the left wants to take my book seriously" was just a fraud like his book. I'm not the only serious critic he's dismissed out of hand (Holbo and Spencer Ackerman have both earned a response that has never come, and his response to Yglesias was a joke). Meanwhile, the extent of Goldberg's linking to my posts has been just to make a generic link to my blog instead of to the individual posts. It's all been either neurotically petty or delusionally dismissive. (Meanwhile, he's been all too eager to embrace those fawning fan letters. Pwned!!)

However, there really is a serious undertext here, and at a certain level, I think Jonah's complaint raises an important point that deserves to be explored in greater length. To wit, as I tried to explain previously:
[L]et's also be clear: mainstream conservatives are not fascists. While both are clearly creatures of the right, they are quite distinct, and it's essential to our understanding of fascism that we make that distinction. Moreover, it's my belief that right-wing extremists pose at least as great an existential threat to mainstream conservatives as they do to liberals, even though the latter are in fact their natural enemies. Maintaining the line between the far right and the mainstream is an essential project for all of us -- especially conservatives.

That's an important project, whether conservatives wish to join us or not. Certainly, their longtime propensity for self-serving bullshit is not indicative of any such willingness, and Goldberg's book in fact indicates quite the opposite. Yet it remains not merely worth pursuing, but I think imperative, as explained later:
I have in fact written at length about the crosscurrents between American proto-fascists and mainstream movement conservatives, and have done so by insisting rigorously on people making the distinction between them. But at the same time, it's important to understand that the rise in ideological traffic between the far right and the mainstream actually means that the constellation of traits that constitute the fascist pathology gain traction, and the demon itself starts to take shape.

This is why so many people outside the conservative movement look at its True Believers and see budding little fascists. If Jonah Goldberg is concerned about people mistaking conservatives for fascists, he'd do far more good calling on conservatives to stand back and take a look at where they're heading ideologically.

If conservatives like Jonah don't want to be mistaken for fascists, they won't embrace the racial politics of people like Buchanan or Brimelow or Malkin. They won't let a far-right extremist like Ron Paul, whose campaign is riddled with white supremacists, even into the Republican Party, let alone play a significant role in the GOP presidential campaign, and they won't embrace vigilante organizations like the Minutemen. Maybe they won't write books that manage to trivialize an utterly monstrous and destructive right-wing ideology, pretending that entities like the Klan really aren't right-wing in the process. But conservatives like Jonah have done all these things.

Most of all, perhaps, they could eschew the eliminationist rhetoric that has not only deeply infected the conservative discourse but has poisoned the larger public discourse as well. After all, as Robert Paxton observes:

The legitimation of violence against a demonized internal enemy brings us close to the heart of fascism.

So in the spirit of trying encourage conservatives to think about why other people -- and not merely liberals -- are increasingly mistaking them for fascists, we're going to run a helpful series this week and perhaps longer.

We'll call it "If conservatives really, really hate being called fascists ...". Each post will explore reasons why folks in the general public -- whose understanding of fascism, while loose and corrupted, is closer to the reality than Goldberg's Bizarro book -- are increasingly mistaking movement conservatives for fascists these days.

They'll be presented, of course, in the hope that these things will change. But -- given conservatives' now-intense state of denial about their political aislemates the fascists and other right-wing nutcases -- not exactly hopeful that they will.

No. 1 will be up shortly. Hope you enjoy.

Ron Paul and that money

-- by Dave

We've all noticed Ron Paul's fundraising prowess, but has anyone noticed that in spite of this, there haven't been any indications that he's actually spending it?

DrSteveB at DailyKos has, and so he has some questions:
There has been no serious public campaign expenditures such as major TV ad buys to match the level of his fund raising. He is not actually getting serious levels of votes beyond what he would be getting anyway. I would suggest the appropriate comparison would be to the low-funded, free publicity, paleoconservative movement outside of the officially approved of Republican mainstream, would be to Pat Buchanan (like Buchanan, Lew Rockwell himself is from a post-Father Coughlin hard right wing Catholic politicial culture background).

Paul has minimal paid staff, and regardless of his enthusiasts, no real statwide comprehensive, yet down to the precinct level, campaign organization. In other words, no real campaign.

Now, one answer has been that he is going to run as an indepdent. Maybe. But still: Where is the money really actually going? What remains after election day November 4, 2008?

Actually, my guess is that Paul has conceded the GOP nomination and is laying the groundwork for a third-party run. That's where this warchest will be directed.

You can say you read it here first.

The Orcinus fundraiser

-- by Dave

Fund-raisers can be something of a mixed bag -- simultaneously inspiring and deflating, especially when you're like me and really don't care for certain things required of people who use them as the revenue sources for their blogs. Things like rattling your tin cup and bugging your friends and acquaintances.

But the donations themselves are always an inspiration. It's pretty amazing, really, that people send money to total strangers whose work they read and, evidently, like, and can get for free if they like. And no matter how many times I do this, I can't quite get over being amazed by people's generosity.

Thing is, I've never quite taken it as seriously as I need to. The first few times it happened, there were actual events around it (notably publishing my essays in PDF form) that were the inspiration, and I just kind of hung my cup out and was pleasantly surprised by how much people were willing to toss back in.

So this year I hung the cup out there again, but the best angle to hang it on was the fact that I've been at this for five years now -- not exactly a barn-burner. And I also decided not to bug my friends and colleagues in the blogosphere to send their readers my way.

I suppose it was predictable, then, that the results so far have been fairly tepid -- especially since I got caught up enough in my responses to Jonah Goldberg that I let the fund-raiser reminder just slide for awhile. To date, we've pulled in $2,638.39 -- a healthy amount, really, but definitely off previous years.

The donations themselves, at the same time, have been a real source of inspiration. Some people really stepped up to the plate, including one of my favorite congressional candidates.

And the one shout-out we got -- from Jesse Wendel at Group News Blog -- was so flattering and kind that we were blown away.

Unfortunately, however, the raw numbers of total donors is sharply down this year, along with the total so far. All of which is part of my ongoing assessment of whether to continue with the fund-raiser model for revenue generation at Orcinus.

But then, just as I was thinking the whole thing was going bust, I was inspired by an unlikely source: our counterparts at the World's Most Asinine Blog, Red State, who decided that the best way to get their readers to dip into their wallets is to scare them with liberal bogeymen, including those eeeeeevil software devs. Oh, and anyone donating tiny amounts through PayPal? Ve haf your numbers now, commie scum! (Dr. Biobrain has more.)

And the drive -- which started at about the same time as mine -- was such a stunning success that, when I last saw a graphic displaying the total (this was on Jan. 15), it sat somewhere south of $700. Meanwhile, over here -- with our puny little staff of two people, contrasted with the WMAB's cast o'thousands -- we were at that point already near the $2,000 mark.

This in fact told me something: That we're doing a lot of things right here at Orcinus, and people appreciate it. But fund-raising isn't one of them. We were able to easily outpace RedState without seriously trying -- which raises the question, why aren't you seriously trying?

Now, the last we heard from RedState (on Jan. 11) on this, Erick indicated that they were just a little shy of hitting $10,000 -- though in fact, on the 14th, their graphic showed quite a bit less than that amount. And since then? Nary a word for those RedState donors on just how well that drive went.

Mind you, I would have no reason whatsoever for getting some satisfaction out of this. Indeed -- there will be no petty references to revenge, cold dishes, whatever, in these parts. Nosiree. Uh-uh.

Though for awhile, I toyed with the idea of making a head-to-head competition out of our respective fund-raisers. ("Go killer whales! Eat Red State!") Woulda been kind of fun, dontcha think?

In the end, I decided not to, because it's really just another gimmick that isn't much about what this blog is all about. Much as I might like to sit all day and make fun of idiotic right-wing sites -- a truly target-rich environment -- it's not the best use of my resources.

As I've explained, I have my reasons for sticking with the fund-raising model for a revenue stream from Orcinus, including an antipathy to advertising, both professional and aesthetic, and an insistence on maintaining the journalistic integrity of the site. It does, however, require that I do things I really don't have much stomach for, including hitting my colleagues up for links and donations. And it also requires I keep readers updated, and send thanks to my many donors.

So if I'm going to give this revenue model a decent chance, I need to engage it properly. Thus, I've decided to extend the fund-raiser for one more week -- and this time, my friends and colleagues will be getting asked to help out.

However, there are still some things I won't do:
-- I won't threaten anyone who donates.

-- I won't tell my readers that only I, the great Killer Whale, stand between them and certain right-wing doooooom!

-- And I won't blame the devs at Blogger if it doesn't work out so hot.

In the meantime, if you've already donated, many thanks -- you'll be hearing from me personally -- and consider spreading the word.

If you haven't, please think about the value that Orcinus provides the blogosphere and the public discourse generally, and then decide if that's something you want to see continue, and are willing to help out to that end.

No gimmicks, just a straight appeal for support for what we do here.

I hope you all find that enough.

[As before, either click on the PayPal button above left, or send donations by snail mail to:

David Neiwert
P.O. Box 17872
Seattle, WA 98127-7872 ]

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Orcas and salmon

-- by Dave

It's becoming more than apparent in recent years that the Puget Sound orca population has been barely scraping by on their winter food resources, which as I reported awhile back used to consist mostly of Columbia River chinook congregating along the continental shelf. Now that those fish runs are a mere wisp of their former selves (less than 2 percent of their historic levels), the killer whales that always fed on them are having to look elsewhere.

This winter, they've once again (as they did last winter) traveled to northern California in search of chinook, as Robert McClure at the P-I reports:
In what a leading orca researcher calls an ominous sign, a group of the killer whales that frequent Puget Sound and nearby waters has turned up feeding off the coast of California for the sixth winter in a row.

L pod, one of three orca families that frequent Washington waters, was spotted Sunday off Monterey Bay.

The fact that the orcas are apparently ranging farther than they once did suggests that Washington's winter stocks of chinook, the orcas' main food, have dropped too low to support them, said Ken Balcomb, a San Juan Island scientist who has studied the orcas since mid-1970s.

Now, if the orcas want to eat, "they've got to go somewhere else," said Balcomb, founder of the Center for Whale Research.

Solving the problem might require a moratorium on salmon fishing for several years, Balcomb wrote in a statement released Monday by the research center.

"The path society is on, according to fisheries experts, is that chinook stocks will be driven to extinction before the end of this century," Balcomb wrote. "We consider that ... worse news for fishermen than a few years of closure to allow stocks the best opportunity to recover."

Problem is, those northern California stocks are in nearly as bad of shape:
The number of chinook salmon returning to California's Central Valley has reached a near-record low, pointing to an "unprecedented collapse" that could lead to severe restrictions on West Coast salmon fishing this year, according to federal fishery regulators.

The sharp drop in chinook, or "king," salmon returning from the Pacific Ocean to spawn in the Sacramento River and its tributaries last fall is part of broader decline in wild salmon runs in rivers across the West.

The population dropped more than 88 percent from its all-time high five years ago, according to an internal memo sent to members of the Pacific Fishery Management Council and obtained by The Associated Press.

Regulators are still trying to understand the reasons for the shrinking number of spawners; some scientists believe it could be related to changes in the ocean linked to global warming.

Some fishermen and environmentalists believe the sharp decline is related to increased water exports from the San Joaquin-Sacramento River Delta, which supplies drinking water to millions of people in dry Southern California, as well as irrigation for America's most fertile farming region.

"It's time to reduce pumping of delta waters before we destroy the fish and wildlife species we appreciate so much in California," said Mike Sherwood, an attorney for Earthjustice.

Remember that these waters were also the scene of the West's largest fish kill ever when Klamath Valley irrigators, pumped up by Patriot types, managed to turn off the water downstream during critical periods. That was brought to us courtesy of Dick Cheney himself.

I agree with Balcomb that a moratorium is necessary for restoring Puget Sound stocks. But as I noted in my report for Seattle Weekly, they're going to have to do something about the Columbia chinook stocks too. And that means looking, once again, at tearing down those dams on the Snake, much beloved of Dick Cheney and inland Republicans.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Jonah's mutual-admiration society

-- by Dave

It seems that Jonah Goldberg -- who, as we have seen, already has a predilection for dubious sources in his book Liberal Fascism -- has quite a fan in the form of an Australian professor named John J. Ray, who fancies himself something of an Orcinus-killer. Today, Jonah put up a post extolling Ray's work:
Anyway, on the web one of the sites that's been finding fascism on the left for a very long time is Australia's John Ray. I was sent his garroting of Neiwert at his blog Dissecting the Left this morning and it reminded me that I should have alerted readers interested in this stuff about his work a while ago. You'll find much of this argument familiar, for example. Anyway, I'm delighted to form the Northern Hemisphere's side of the antipodean anti-fascism tag-team. (I'm sure someone will tell me if I'm using antipodean wrong.)

I'll let readers judge for themselves the value of Ray's critique; I'll have nothing more to say about it other than to point out that, once again, Ray (just like Goldberg) resolutely refuses to tackle the review's central thesis.

Ray, as I've mentioned previously, is not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed to begin with. But read on into his "dissection" of yours truly and you'll find this:
In fact, with his constant inspirational calls for national unity, Obama is eerily reminiscent of the Fascists. If he spoke German he might well be inclined to adopt as his slogan Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Fuehrer -- as Hitler did ("One nation, one government, one leader"). After all, right to the end most Germans saw Hitler as a warm and kindly father-figure. And if the ruthless power-seeker that is Hillary reminds you of Joe Stalin, don't blame me!

That sure is one insightful thinker you're citing there, Jonah!

Actually, a little background on Mr. Ray might be helpful at this point. Ray for awhile was among the writers empaneled at the white-nationalist website MajorityRights (no link, but if you Google it you can check it out), where "Miscegenation" is one of the main topics of discussion. He reportedly resigned in 2006 because the site became overtly anti-Semitic.

Ray is considered part of the Australian wing of what is politely called "academic racism." In addition to his own work, his website also hosts the work of "scientific racist" Chris Brand.

Here's what the Institute for the Study of Academic Racism has to say about Dr. Ray:
Ray himself holds some forthright views on racism. His book Conservatism as heresy includes chapters with such appetising titles as 'Rhodesia: in defence of Mr Smith' and 'In defence of the White Australia policy'. Ray also argues that it is "moralistic nonsense" to denounce racism.

Well might Ray defend racism. He does not mince his words when he writes about Australian Aborigines. Ray says that "aborigines are characterised by behaviour that in a white we would find despicable . . . White backlash is then reasonable. Unless we expect whites to forget overnight the cultural values that they have learned and practised all their lives, they will find the proximity of aboriginals unpleasant" (p.58).

Ray has conducted a number of academic surveys in order to bolster his prejudices. For instance Ray assumes that it is natural that whites should develop an antipathy towards Aborigines:

"If, for instance, people suddenly find themselves living in close contact with Aborigines and Aborigines happen to be in fact rather unhygienic in their habits, some people previously without prejudice will start to say that they don't like Aborigines." (p.261.)

Therefore Ray designed a survey to measure white Australians' attitudes towards Aborigines, comparing those who lived near Aborigines with those who lived further away.

The results of his survey failed to confirm his prediction; Ray did not find that whites living near Aborigines were in fact more prejudiced. Ray described his results as "disappointing" (p.267). Instead of discarding his hypothesis, Ray still strove to maintain his own prejudices; he searched around for reasons why his questionnaire might not have obtained the correct results. Thus, even in the face of negative results, Ray clings to what he calls his 'rational prejudice model'.

Ray's prejudices do not just relate to Aborigines. Dr. Ray enjoins us to "face the fact that large numbers of even educated Australians do not like Jews or 'Wogs'." (p.70.) Ray writes approvingly of people who will

"among friends, exchange mocking misnomers for suburbs in which Jews have settled: Bellevue Hill becomes 'Bellejew Hill' and Rose Bay becomes 'Nose Bay'; Dover Heights becomes 'Jehova Heights'." (p.71.)

Ray obviously has sympathy with the racists and anti-Semites. Many of the people who make the comments Ray cites, are according to our Australian psychologist "superbly functioning and well-adjusted Australians". In Ray's opinion such people will "justly deny being racists" (p.70): n.b. the give-away word 'justly'.

The main reason why Ray does not find such attitudes racist is that he considers them perfectly logical. Thus he asserts that people "who don't like sloth . . . may object to Aborigines. People who do not like grasping materialism, will certainly find no fault with Aborigines but they may find fault with Jews" (p.265).

It seems that Dr Ray, in an academic paper about psychology, is repeating the racist and anti-Semitic assumptions that Aborigines are lazy and Jews are 'grasping materialists'. It is hard to find any other explanation for Ray's continual defence of prejudice.

In his academic papers Ray has a tendency to use some curious turns of phrase. Thus when he criticises, as he often does, the classic work in the psychology of fascism, The Authoritarian Personality by Adorno, Frenkel-Brunswick, Levinson and Sanford, he refers to "the work of these Jewish authors" (see, for instance, the start of Ray's article in the distinguished social science journal Human Relations).(82) This is not the standard way of describing opponents' research, at least not since the days of Nazi Germany.

But there again Ray is not exactly ignorant of the ways of Nazism. During the 1960s Ray was a member of various Australian Nazi parties. In fact Ray has openly described his seven-year association with Nazism (see, for instance, his article 'What are Australian Nazis really like?' in The Bridge, August 1972).

Note that Goldberg also spends several pages frantically attacking "the Frankfurt School" and its "Marxist" professors, and similarly castigates The Authoritarian Personality. He's obviously been feeding from the same trough.

More to the point, Ray and Goldberg are busy indulging the same sort of enterprise: furiously finding "fascists" on the left as a way of diverting people's attention from the fact of the longtime existence of very real fascists operating within the realm of the political right. I'd guess their motives are different, but both the ploy and the outcome are the same.

UPDATE: Colugo in the comments notes that Ray claims he joined those Nazi organizations for the purpose of "investigating" them.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

'Liberal Fascism': The response

-- by Dave

I've appreciated everyone's patience while I've dealt with Jonah Goldberg's fraudulent bestseller, Liberal Fascism. The last few posts have been awfully long and have entailed some heavy wading, but I wanted to make the record as complete as possible so that people who have to deal with this archetypal piece of bogosity in real life can have some of the resources necessary.

Tomorrow I'll begin a new series that will deal with Goldberg's pap hackery (and that of the rest of the "liberals are the real fascists" contingent of the right) in a different and, I hope, amusing way. It's way of taking the conversation to a more useful level.

So, to wrap up the primary, factual-response phase of this discussion, here are links to all the posts I've done on Liberal Fascism to date. The idea here is to put them all in one place for resource purposes (and I'll put a link to this post in my left sidebar).


The ultimate Newspeak

Conservative fascism

'Liberal Fascism': A preview

The Pantload weighs in


*Jonah Goldberg's Bizarro History [TAP Online review]

Liberal Fascism leftovers #1

Shallow and cliche-ridden

That definition of fascism

Jonah's response

A serious person

The buck stops here

*The methodology of Liberal Fascism

An appendix on fascism

The Jonah note of the day

Jonah and the Klan

*Calling out Jonah Goldberg [Firedoglake post]

Liberal Fascism leftovers #2

Liberal Fascism: A correction, please

Jonah responds

*Responding to Jonah

About Jonah's sources

Wilson and fascism

*Asterisks indicate the major posts in the sequence.