Friday, July 25, 2003

Rush, Newspeak and Fascism for the masses!

[I'm repeating this post -- from July 6 -- because the original post's link is bloggered, and it contains the best quick explanation of the donation for "Rush, Newspeak and Fascism," and I wanted to link to it from the text at the upper left of the blog. I've added a few words, but for regular readers, this is nothing new. Just repair work, as it were.]

Well, after 16-plus ridiculously long posts, numerous letters and a fairly tough rewriting and editing process, it's finally compiled and available in PDF:

Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An Exegesis

This is, as regular readers well know, the extended essay that appeared here over the course of multiple posts. As promised, I've put it together into a version you can download and read on your computer or print out and read it on the bus, or share it with friends.

I'm asking for a $5 donation (button at the upper left of the home page) with each download, because my bandwidth requirements are undoubtedly going to come back and bite me on this one. Besides, I've always been loath to hand out the tin cup and ask for donations -- I prefer to have something to offer in exchange. So the donation (and donors should feel free to make it more than $5 if they like!) is also an opportunity for Orcinus readers to support independent journalism.

The completed essay is about 40,000 words and 87 pages long. It contains large chunks of new material, and as you'll see, it's been rearranged and edited significantly. I think you'll find it's both more cohesive and more coherent, a little livelier, a little more detailed. Read it onscreen or print it out and share it with your friends. E-mail it around if you like. I'm frankly more interested in having it read than in the donations; I'm mostly just hoping to cover my expenses.

I tussled with what to do with the "Rush" essay for quite awhile. It's long enough to form a short book. But frankly, I remain extremely doubtful about its chances of being published through traditional venues -- a portion of it, after all, began life as a feature for Salon (that would be those sections dealing with Clinton-hate as a venue for coalescing the extremist and mainstream right) that never ran in the magazine; and if Salon wouldn't run it, I can't imagine who would. Let's face it: The material I'm writing about here is considered very explosive, and very sensitive, by mainstream publishers, and very few of them would be willing to back these kinds of ideas.

In previous centuries, when these kinds of ideas floated about, they often found expression through alternative publishing that was distributed through other means and was nonetheless consumed by the public at large. This was mainly the pamphlet, which was the chief means of publication for many of the world's great thinkers, including Tom Paine and Baruch Spinoza.

So I'm following their example with 21st-century means. Think of the 'Rush' essay as a kind of Web pamphleteering -- a way to spread information and ideas without relying on traditional, staid and reluctant publishing houses, including newspapers and Webzines. I already view blogging in general as this kind of alternative medium; and the 'Rush' pamphlet is the next logical step, a way to springboard from blogs and produce something that non-computer users can read too.

Of course, any and all feedback is always appreciated. Later this month, I'm going to start serializing the revamped 'Rush' essay so that it is available in an online version as well.

Finally, a big shout-out and THANKS to Paula at Stonerwitch for her hours of fine work, helping me put the essay together into the PDF form.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

The forgotten terrorist

Hey, what happened to that anthrax guy anyway?

You know, the one who killed a handful of people and terrorized the nation for the better part of two months?

Yeah, that one. The one the FBI can't seem to nail down.

The case that was a clear case of attempting to piggyback off the terror wrought by the events of Sept. 11. The case no one in the media ever talks about.

At least Dan Thomasson is paying attention:
Another botched investigation?

What is of grave concern here is the vulnerability of Americans to this kind of continued anonymous assault by madmen who seem able to escape detection by the nation's most celebrated law enforcement agency.

Richard Jewell was the wrong guy and when the right one was identified it took forever to catch him.

The Unabomber ultimately was caught by his own brother whose efforts to inform the bureau of his suspicions were summarily dismissed until he hired a lawyer to "drop the dime," as informing is known in street parlance.

All of us would feel more secure if the bureau and the other agencies working on this case were more effective.

It is legitimate to ask how long it takes for the attorney general or the current director of the bureau to consider that an investigation of a particular individual may have run its course.

It is also legitimate to ask when the press will give this case the attention it deserves, if for no other reason than its deep and disturbing implications regarding the proliferation of biological weapons.

Ichiro, Ichiro

Another sign of Ichiro Suzuki's utter coolness:

Why No. 51? I'd originally heard that he wore the number 51 (he wore it in Japan as well) after the Yankees' Bernie Williams, who wears the same number. But Suzuki later told an interviewer (during the 2001 ALCS) it was not true. Later the story cropped up that he kept it in Japan because the number in Japanese sounds similar to his name. But the P-I set us all straight the other day:
The truth is far simpler. Ichiro tells John Hickey, Mariners beat writer for the P-I, that he was a low draft pick and that he was simply handed a uniform bearing #51 in recognition of his lowly status at the start of his career. When Ichiro began to demonstrate his prodigious talents, he was offered a more prestigious number (#7) but declined. He has stayed with #51 ever since.

Integrity is a rare commodity nowadays, especially among the famous.

Creeping fascism

I was on a remote island much of last week and am just now catching up. Certainly worth mentioning was this piece:

A Kind of Fascism Is Replacing Our Democracy
Like previous forms of totalitarianism, the Bush administration boasts a reckless unilateralism that believes the United States can demand unquestioning support, on terms it dictates; ignores treaties and violates international law at will; invades other countries without provocation; and incarcerates persons indefinitely without charging them with a crime or allowing access to counsel.

The drive toward total power can take different forms, as Mussolini's Italy, Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Soviet Union suggest.

The American system is evolving its own form: "inverted totalitarianism." This has no official doctrine of racism or extermination camps but, as described above, it displays similar contempt for restraints.

While the author, Sheldon S. Wolin -- a Princeton professor emeritus -- reaches his conclusions through different avenues, I was gratified that they were essentially the same as those I explored in "Rush, Newspeak and Fascism" -- namely, that fascism remains alive and well and is threatening to re-emerge in strange new American clothing.

[Many thanks to Joel S. for forwarding this.]

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Mad Max and the Jews

There's a storm brewing in the culture wars, all of it building around Mel Gibson's forthcoming "Passion Play" film, which is bearing all the earmarks of reviving that old tradition's hoary anti-Semitism as well, blaming "the Jews" for Christ's crucifixion.

It's hard to tell exactly what the content will be -- other than the gruesome and graphic depictions of crucifixion -- but it's clear that Gibson is building political chits among the punditry well in advance. See, for instance, today's Lloyd Grove column:

Mel Gibson's Washington Power Play
Yesterday's secret screening at the Motion Picture Association of America included columnists Peggy Noonan, Cal Thomas and Kate O'Beirne; conservative essayist Michael Novak; President Bush's abortive nominee for labor secretary, Linda Chavez; staff director Mark Rodgers of the Senate Republican conference chaired by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.); former Republican House member Mark Siljander of Michigan; and White House staffer David Kuo, deputy director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

"I find this sad," said ADL National Director Abraham Foxman, who hasn't been permitted to see the movie. "Here's a man who appeals to the mass audience, but he feels he has to surround himself with a cordon sanitaire of people who back him theologically and maybe ideologically and will stand up and be supportive when the time comes. My request still stands: I would like to see the movie, and if it turns out I was wrong, I'll be the first to say so."

Were it anybody else, the concern might be misplaced. But Gibson -- who has displayed a talent for starring in revenge melodramas over the years, ranging from the first Mad Max to Ransom, Payback, Braveheart and The Patriot -- has made a series of public pronouncements that have been troubling. Some of them are a reflection of Gibson's extremist father, Hutton Gibson.

The issue came into focus this spring when Christopher Noxon of the New York Times wrote a piece titled, "Is the Pope Catholic . . . Enough?" that featured bizarre and outrageous remarks from Gibson, his father and his mother. There was a brief flurry of stories about it that quickly dropped from the radar, notably this ABC report:

Gibson Family Under Fire for Anti-Semitism

Of particular note was the bizarre conspiracy-mongering of Hutton Gibson, accompanied by a full dose of Holocaust denial:
The actor's father, Hutton Gibson, told The New York Times he flatly rejected that the terrorist group led by Usama bin Laden had any role in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon Sept. 11.

"Anybody can put out a passenger list," the elder Gibson told The Times.

"So what happened? They were crashed by remote control."

He and the actor's mother, Joye Gibson, also told The Times that the Holocaust was a fabrication manufactured to hide an arrangement between Adolf Hitler and "financiers" to move Jews out of Germany to the Middle East to fight Arabs.

"Go and ask an undertaker or the guy who operates the crematorium what it takes to get rid of a dead body," Hutton Gibson told The Times. "It takes one liter of petrol and 20 minutes. Now six million?"

Said Joye Gibson: "That weren't even that many Jews in all of Europe."

And then there were Gibson's plans for the movie:
The comments from the Gibson family come just after the actor built a church in near Malibu that caters to a revisionist version of Catholocism. According to The Times, the church has a congregation of 70, including the star of such films as "Braveheart" and "Conspiracy Theory."

Mel Gibson, a devout Catholic, is directing and co-wrote an upcoming movie "The Passion," rooted in a theological movement known as Catholic traditionalism that seeks to return the faith to its pre-1962 period, before the Pope issued what is known as Vatican II, a series of proclamations that did away with the notion that Jews were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus.

Bill Berkowitz addressed the underlying issues further at Working for Change:

Does Mel Gibson have a Jewish problem?

Gibson's theology, writes Christopher Noxon in the New York Times, "is a strain of Catholicism rooted in the dictates of a 16th-century papal council and nurtured by a splinter group of conspiracy-minded Catholics, mystics, monarchists and disaffected conservatives -- including a seminary dropout and rabble-rousing theologist who also happens to be Mel Gibson's father."

In the 1992 El Pais interview, Gibson said that "For 1,950 years [the church] does one thing and then in the 60s, all of a sudden they turn everything inside out and begin to do strange things that go against the rules.

"Everything that had been heresy is no longer heresy, according to the [new] rules. We [Catholics] are being cheated. ... The church has stopped being critical. It has relaxed. I don't believe them, and I have no intention of following their trends. It's the church that has abandoned me, not me who has abandoned it," he said.

Frederick Clarkson, the veteran right-wing researcher and author of "Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy" (Common Courage Press) told WorkingForChange in an e-mail that "Traditionalist Catholics describes those who insist on practicing the Latin mass and other features of the church prior to the reforms of Vatican II. Some Traditionalists operate within the Church; others belong to a faction, the Society of Saint Pius X that has been excommunicated en mass for disobedience to the Pope. Its far right views include conspiracy theories that the Catholic Church is controlled by liberals as a result of an ancient conspiracy of Freemasons."

According to, a web site that aims "to foster devotion to the Tridentine Latin Mass and traditional forms of Roman Catholic piety, and to propagate the orthodox Faith of the Church," Gibson "attends the Tridentine Mass exclusively."

Also worth noting, but not available online, is a piece by Allan Brown in the Sunday Times of London from May 5, 2002, titled "Braveheart and the Nazis," which included this:
Euan Hague, an academic who has investigated the development of Celtic supremacist ideas in the United States, describes the perception of "a pure white culture where the men are strong and the women dance. For most American followers, Highland games mean having a beer and a laugh with 10,000 other people. But, for some, they can be a way to assert their whiteness".

That the KKK was founded by two emigres from Paisley is embarrassingly well-documented, a matter of historical record dating back to the 1860s.

Far more recent, however, is the passion of the other parties for Celtic racial mysticism; traceable almost entirely, believes historian Tom Devine, to the rise of "Braveheartism" in the mid-1990s, which overnight made William Wallace the new kid on the neo-Nazi block.

As their battles contracted to squabbles over the need for secession from larger states or economic protectionism in the face of rampant immigration, Wallace and his efforts were recast in the extremist mind as a kind of medieval Neighbourhood Watch scheme.

A particular fan was William Pierce, the "Farm Belt Fuhrer" and head of the National Alliance in America, whose novel of white supremacism, The Turner Diaries, was published under the pseudonym (or nom de guerre) of Andrew Macdonald in tribute to his Scots ancestry. He considered Braveheart a hymn to the need for personal sacrifice in the name of one's cause.

"That, I think, is one of the strongest things in our people and is something we need to call on and recognise, and for more people to be willing to do whatever is necessary, as William Wallace was," Pierce said.

In Italy, meanwhile, Umberto Bossi was heading the fascist Northern League in its attempt to secede from the southern half of the country. By displaying a Braveheart poster on his office wall he was equating the struggle of Wallace with his own against Roman dominance. These days, the newly-respectable Bossi serves in Berlusconi's government and his fondness for nebulous ideas of racial integrity has given way to a more naked aggression against all forms of economic immigration.

"Bossi has no real international outlook and no real passion for Scottish politics," says Joe Farrell of Strathclyde University. "He capitalised on something that was in the air at a certain time. The downside is that the follow-up is so tainted with racism."

Finally, there's the interview Gibson gave in Playboy, July 1995 (Vol. 42 ; No. 7 ; Pg. 51). Some excerpts:
PLAYBOY: What does he [Hutton Gibson] have to do with the Alliance for Catholic Tradition, which one magazine called "an extreme conservative Catholic splinter group"?

GIBSON: He started it. Some people say it's extreme, but it emphasizes what the institution was and where it's going. Everything he was taught to believe was taken from him in the Sixties with this renewal Vatican Council. The whole institution became unrecognizable to him, so he writes about it.


PLAYBOY: Do you believe in Darwin's theory of evolution or that God created man in his image?

GIBSON: The latter.

PLAYBOY: So you can't accept that we descended from monkeys and apes?

GIBSON: No, I think it's bullshit. If it isn't, why are they still around? How come apes aren't people yet? It's a nice theory, but I can't swallow it. There's a big credibility gap. The carbon dating thing that tells you how long something's been around, how accurate is that, really? I've got one of Darwin's books at home and some of that stuff is pretty damn funny. Some of his stuff is true, like that the giraffe has a long neck so it can reach the leaves. But I just don't think you can swallow the whole piece.

PLAYBOY: We take it that you're not particularly broad-minded when it comes to issues such as celibacy, abortion, birth control --

GIBSON: People always focus on stuff like that. Those aren't issues. Those are unquestionable. You don't even argue those points.

PLAYBOY: You don't?


PLAYBOY: What about allowing women to be priests?


PLAYBOY: Why not?

GIBSON: I'll get kicked around for saying it, but men and women are just different. They're not equal. The same way that you and I are not equal.

PLAYBOY: That's true. You have more money.

GIBSON: You might be more intelligent, or you might have a bigger dick. Whatever it is, nobody's equal. And men and women are not equal. I have tremendous respect for women. I love them. I don't know why they want to step down. Women in my family are the center of things. An good things emanate from them. The guys usually mess up.

PLAYBOY: That's quite a generalization.

GIBSON: Women are just different. Their sensibilities are different.

PLAYBOY: Any examples?

GIBSON: I had a female business partner once. Didn't work.

PLAYBOY: Why not?

GIBSON: She was a cunt.

PLAYBOY: And the feminists dare to put you down!

GIBSON: Feminists don't like me, and I don't like them. I don't get their point. I don't know why feminists have it out for me, but that's their problem, not mine.


PLAYBOY: How do you feel about Bill Clinton?

GIBSON: He's a low-level opportunist. Somebody's telling him what to do.


GIBSON: The guy who's in charge isn't going to be the front man, ever. If I were going to be calling the shots I wouldn't make an appearance. Would you? You'd end up losing your head. It happens all the time. All those monarchs. Ifhe's the leader, he's getting shafted. What's keeping him in there? Why would you stay for that kind of abuse? Except that he has to stay for some reason. He was meant to be the president 30 years ago, if you ask me.

PLAYBOY: He was just 18 then.

GIBSON: Somebody knew then that he would be president now.

PLAYBOY: You really believe that?

GIBSON: I really believe that. He was a Rhodes scholar, right? Just like Bob Hawke. Do you know what a Rhodes scholar is? Cecil Rhodes established the Rhodes scholarship for those young men and women who want to strive for a new world order. Have you heard that before? George Bush? CIA? Really, it's Marxism, but it just doesn't want to call itself that. Karl had the right idea, but he was too forward about saying what it was. Get power but don't admit to it. Do it by stealth. There's a whole trend of Rhodes scholars who will be politicians around the world.

PLAYBOY: This certainly sounds like a paranoid sense of world history. You must be quite an assassination buff.

GIBSON: Oh, fuck. A lot of those guys pulled a boner. There's something to do with the Federal Reserve that Lincoln did, Kennedy did and Reagan tried. I can't remember what it was, my dad told me about it. Everyone who did this particular thing that would have fixed the economy got undone. Anyway, I'll end up dead if I keep talking shit.

Gibson, of course, is entitled to his beliefs, as is any extremist. But it is troubling when they are given such a powerful forum as the national distribution the film no doubt will receive.

And it is even more troubling when they are given the imprimatur of high-profile mainstream conservatives. It is another clear sign of the increasing tolerance for radicalism among the ranks of conservatives.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Bush Doctrine über alles

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the Bush administration abused and misused intelligence for political purposes in selling the nation a bill of goods on the invasion of Iraq. Many of Bush's critics, however, are making the mistake of misjudging Bush's motives for going to war with Iraq.

Bush misled the nation not merely because he hoped to use the war for political fodder in the 2002 and 2004 elections, though that certainly figured into the equation. Neither was it merely because Iraq is such a significant source of oil, though that too probably was an added incentive.

No, this war was above all about ideology.

Specifically, it was about establishing once and for all the Bush Doctrine, otherwise known as "The National Security Strategy of the United States of America." Even a cursory read reveals that its emphasis on pre-emptive actions against threatening nations, all in the name of spreading "democracy," is a major departure. A more careful read reveals that the nation, under Bush's guidance, has taken the leap from semi-realistic self-promotion to outright self-delusion in its basic view of international relations.

If you want to understand the wellsprings of this ideology, look no farther than the neo-conservative Project for a New American Century, which not only endorsed it -- it obviously was its chief architect and promoter, the font of wisdom for such folk as Donald Rumsfeld.

Particularly chilling is the PNAC description of the Bush Doctrine:
Promoting liberal democratic principles. "No nation is exempt" from the "non-negotiable demands" of liberty, law and justice. Because the United States has a "greater objective" -- a greater purpose -- in the world, Bush sees in the war not just danger but an opportunity to spread American political principles, especially into the Muslim world.

(And let's not forget the chance to spread American religious principles as well.)

The reality, of course, as Jonathan Raban recently pointed out, is that western-style democracy may be meaningless or even destructive in the context of Muslim culture. Bush's presumption that democracy is a panacea for every nation is backed only by blind faith and ideological blinkers.

And then there's this:
The Bush Doctrine is also notable for what it is not. It is not Clintonian multilateralism; the president did not appeal to the United Nations, profess faith in arms control, or raise hopes for any “peace process.” Nor is it the balance-of-power realism favored by his father. It is, rather, a reassertion that lasting peace and security is to be won and preserved by asserting both U.S. military strength and American political principles.

Nor is it, for that matter, any of the multilateral approaches to foreign policy that have characterized the American approach since World War II. PNAC's arrogant unilateralism actually is, as Todd Gitlin has pointed out, a radical restructuring of American foreign policy, and possibly forever transforming our place in the world -- and not necessarily for the better.

A terrific resource on this point is Exposing the Project for the New American Century (who I'm adding to my blogroll).

Remember: This crowd had a plan in place for attacking Iraq the day Bush was elected (see especially the Philly Daily News' excellent report, Invading Iraq not a new idea for Bush clique: 4 years before 9/11, plan was set). It set that plan into motion on Sept. 12, 2001.

And there was no way the radical ideologues who now control American foreign policy were ever going to let it get derailed. Intelligence to the contrary be damned.

This is not as obviously crass a motivation as, say, trying to swing an election with a war, or helping out the president's oil-industry pals. But it is in many ways much more deeply troubling.