1. Klint Finley

    No, it’s not about Discordianism. It’s about the real world discord and human misery that is the political situation in Greece. It’s written by Laurie Penny and illustrated by Molly Crabapple, and it’s worth your time.

    It’s not just political journalism, either — it touches on youth culture, the way a movement’s drug of choice reflects the zeitgeist, art, feminism and more.

    You can buy the digital single from Amazon, or see a preview and read an interview with Penny and Crabapple here.

    See also: Greece’s Fascist Homophobes Have God and Police On Their Side

  2. Klint Finley

    Rick Perlstein takes a look at the various snake oil and get rich quick schemes peddled on right-wing e-mailing lists, and dives into a bit of the history of New Right funding raising:

    Following the standard scare-mongering playbook of the fundraising Right, Weyrich launched his appeal with some horrifying eventuality that sounded both entirely specific and hair-raisingly imminent (“all-out assault on our traditional family structure”—or, in the case of a 1976 pitch signed by Senator Jesse Helms, taxpayer-supported “grade school courses that teach our children that cannibalism, wife swapping, and the murder of infants and the elderly are acceptable behavior”; or, to take one from not too long ago, the white-slavery style claim that “babies are being harvested and sold on the black market by Planned Parenthood”). Closer inspection reveals the looming horror to be built on a non-falsifiable foundation (“could become”; “is likely to become”). This conditional prospect, which might prove discouraging to a skeptically minded mark, is all the more useful to reach those inclined to divide the moral universe in two—between the realm of the wicked, populated by secretive, conspiratorial elites, and the realm of the normal, orderly, safe, and sane.

    Weyrich’s letter concludes by proposing an entirely specific, real-world remedy: slaying the wicked can easily be hastened for the low, low price of a $5, $10, or $25 contribution from you, the humble citizen-warrior.

    Full Story: The Baffler:

    There’s much more. Perlstein concludes with some thoughts on what this says about the psychology of modern conservatism:

    Lying is an initiation into the conservative elite. In this respect, as in so many others, it’s like multilayer marketing: the ones at the top reap the reward—and then they preen, pleased with themselves for mastering the game. Closing the sale, after all, is mainly a question of riding out the lie: showing that you have the skill and the stones to just brazen it out, and the savvy to ratchet up the stakes higher and higher. Sneering at, or ignoring, your earnest high-minded mandarin gatekeepers—“we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers,” as one Romney aide put it—is another part of closing the deal. For years now, the story in the mainstream political press has been Romney’s difficulty in convincing conservatives, finally, that he is truly one of them. For these elites, his lying—so dismaying to the opinion-makers at the New York Times, who act like this is something new—is how he has pulled it off once and for all. And at the grassroots, his fluidity with their preferred fables helps them forget why they never trusted the guy in the first place.

  3. Klint Finley

    Deeply weird piece by Mark Ames and Alexander Zaitchik on the murder of CIA operative/godfather of the goldbug movement Nicholas Deak, which uncovers some possible connections between the homeless woman who killed him, Lois Lang, and the CIA’s MK-ULTRA program:

    Police responding to the motel room took Lang to nearby Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. For the next month, she was put under the care of Dr. Frederick Melges, a psychiatrist associated with the Stanford Research Institute. One of Dr. Melges’ main areas of research: drug-aided hypnosis. A few years after Lang was put in Melges’ care, the New York Times exposed the Stanford Research Institute as a center for CIA research into “brain-washing” and “mind-control” experiments in which unwitting subjects were dosed with hallucinogenic drugs and subjected to hypnosis. Melges, who died in 1988, is today remembered in the field for his research on the relationship between perceptions of time and mental illness.

    Full Story: Salon: James Bond and the killer bag lady

    It goes deeper than that, with Ames and Zaitchik speculating that it may have been Argentine gangersters with knowledge of MK-ULTRA who ordered the hit:

    If Lang was tapped to whack Nicholas Deak, she was part of a long tradition. In mobster literature, insane assassins are regular characters. “Nuts were used from time to time by certain people for certain matters,” explains Jimmy Hoffa’s former right-hand man, Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, in his memoir, “I Heard You Paint Houses.” Chuck Giancana, brother of Chicago mob boss Sam Giancana, writes that he once heard his brother say that “picking a nutcase who was also a sharpshooter” to carry out an assassination was “as old as the Sicilian hills.”

    I found this bit interesting as well, though it’s more of a side note:

    Meanwhile, the sunny side of Deak’s business thrived. Its retail foreign currency operation, now reconstituted under new ownership and known to the world as Thomas Cooke, became a staple at airports, its multi-packs of francs and marks symbols of every American family’s European vacation. Deak’s retail precious metals business dominated the market after the legalization of gold sales. After a series of sales and reconstitutions, it is today known as Goldline, a major sponsor of Glenn Beck and subject of a recent fraud settlement.

    (via Abe Burmeister)

  4. Long piece from Foreign Policy about the FBI’s attempted infiltration of the “Patriot Movement” during the 90s:

    Despite the fact that PATCON was set up as an intelligence-gathering operation, no evidence has emerged to date that information from the operation came into play during the bombing investigation, despite the links between some of McVeigh’s contacts and the organizations targeted.

    The dilemmas of PATCON point toward current debates over the use of infiltration, particularly in cases such as the NYPD’s monitoring of Muslim communities in New York, investigations predicated on the need to collect intelligence rather than build prosecutions on specific criminal activities. The value of the intelligence collected by PATCON is unclear in the final analysis. The only PATCON targets ever prosecuted were already under investigation by the Army, and none of the specific terrorist plots alleged in the FBI’s records ever came to fruition. Meanwhile, the perpetrator of the worst act of right-wing violence in U.S. history was in contact with several targets of the FBI’s investigation but apparently flew under the radar.

    Foreign Policy: Patriot Games

    (via Innovation Patterns)

    See also:

    The Paranoid Center

    Democracy Now guests on right wing populism and Tiller

  5. Prussian Blue was a pop duo consisting of 13 year old twins Lamb and Lynx Gaede. Their lyrics contained racist and white nationalist themes, which attracted international media attention. I feel bad about piling on to the media spectacle, but this this an interesting story. I always felt bad for these two, who were clearly being used by adults to push certain messages. I’m glad they’re moving on with their lives.

    Now 19, they both still speak in a disarmingly girlish singsong. Their message, however, was not always so sweet. In 2006, the sisters, who formed the band at the suggestion of White Nationalist leader William Pierce, drew international notoriety with songs like “Hate for Hate: Lamb Near the Lane,” a dreamy folksong cowritten by Lamb and the late David Lane, a member of the violent terrorist splinter cell The Order, who was then serving 190 years in prison for his involvement in the murder of Jewish talk show host Alan Berg in 1984 (he and Lamb were pen pals).

    Prussian Blue was never a presence on the pop charts and only played small venues. But for a brief time in the mid-2000s, Lamb and Lynx were seemingly everywhere — “the new face of hate,” as one news program put it. They appeared on “Primetime Live” and in a number of other media oulets, including GQ (where I profiled them in 2006).

    The Daily: Former Nazi teeny boppers are singing a new tune

    Here’s Gell’s above mentioned 2006 profile of the sisters for GQ.

  6. Another update: DHS supposedly issued a memo saying Loughner was influenced by the racist right wing group American Renaissance (DHS denies issuing the memo). If true, this would obviously out more inline with the racist right than with the left (someone who knew him when they were teenagers said he was liberal or left wing when she knew him). Speculation that he is mentally ill remains rampant. The NAACP’s Tea Party Nationalism paper reported links between various Tea Party members and right wing groups, but American Renaissance wasn’t one of the ones mentioned. So there’s still no clear link to the Tea Party or Palin, so far as I know.

    (I’m blogging from the road this week, so I probably shouldn’t be trying to blog about this as it unfolds. It’s dicey enough to blog about a sensitive subject like this before all the facts are in without having to deal with work and travel at the same time)

    It’s looking like there’s very little to connect the alleged Tuscon shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, to the Tea Party or to Sarah Palin’s hit list. There’s some references to the gold standard on his YouTube channel, but also a lot of nonsense about the grammar and literacy. The SPLC thinks the grammar stuff is
    connected to the far right, but they see Nazis behind every tree so their credibility is a bit compromised at this point. (It would bring a whole new meaning to the term “Grammar Nazi” if true though, eh?)

    I’m not expert, but it looks like the work of either someone who is crazy or wants to be seen as crazy. From what can be found publicly, he sounds more like your average EsoZone attendee than a Tea Partier. But it is, however, still early in the investigation.

    None the less, it looks like this might actually stick the Tea Party if they can’t manage to spin this to their advantage. Loughner cited both Mein Kampf and The Communist Manifesto. Sounds like perfect ammunition for the likes of Beck and Limbaugh to use to connect liberalism with National Socialism.

  7. Giffords Event

    Please see this update

    David Neiwert writes:

    It can happen, in fact, because conservatives so thoughtlessly and readily use violent eliminationist rhetoric when talking about “liberals” (to wit: anyone who is not a conservative). They will adamantly deny it, of course, but the cold reality is that this kind of talk creates permission for angry and violent people to act it out.

    Crooks and Liars: Eliminationist rhetoric and the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords: There were plenty of precursors

    Neiwert wrote in his book The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right:

    a particular trend that has manifested itself with increasing intensity in the past decade: the positing of elimination as the solution to political disagreement. Rather than engaging in a dialogue over political and cultural issues, one side simply dehumanizes its opponents and suggests, and at times demands, their excision. This tendency is almost singularly peculiar to the American Right and manifests itself in many venues: on radio talk shows and in political speeches, in bestselling books and babbling blogs. Most of all, we can feel it on the ground: in our everyday lives, in our encounters, big and small, with each other.

    I have a hard time blaming Palin’s antics and the “Target” campaign, any more than I blame rap music or action movies for other violence. At the same time, I don’t think this elimination rhetoric is entirely blameless. I’m reminded of Leon Wieseltier’s words about religion and terrorism:

    If the standpoint of broadly collective responsibility was the wrong way to explain the atrocities, so too was the standpoint of purely individual responsibility. There were currents of culture behind the killers. Their ideas were not only their own.

    It’s worth revisiting Sara Robinson’s writing on the 2010 election as the a tipping point for fascism. This is the first high profile case of non-state violence since the election. This incident does not a trend make. If we’re lucky, this could be the event that turns discredits the Tea Party. They get shamed out of public life and the violence stops. I wouldn’t bet on it though.

    This conversation around Dr. Tiller’s death is also very relevant today.

    (via Zen Werewolf)

  8. You might recall this essay by fascism scholar and futurist Sara Robinson from last year. Robinson has just published a rather dismal follow-up examining how the Tea Party is shaping up to be a legitimately scary fascist party.

    Here is the part I found rather unsettling (emphasis mine):

    The successful fascisms, on the other hand, were the ones that held together and to gained enough political leverage that capturing their governments became inevitable. And once that happened, there was no turning back, because they now had the political power and street muscle to silence any opposition. (Fascist parties almost never enjoy majority support at any stage — but being a minority faction is only a problem in a functioning democracy. It’s no problem at all if you’re willing to use force to get your way.)

    I had taken some comfort in the fact that the Tea Party isn’t representative of the United States. However, that’s seeming like much less of a comfort lately. Consider the following, from Business Week:

    Americans who support the Tea Party brim with contradiction. An October Bloomberg National Poll found that while 83 percent of Tea Party supporters favor repeal of the health-care reform bill, majorities would keep key provisions of it. Fifty-seven percent would prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to patients with preexisting conditions, 52 percent would add more prescription drug benefits for Medicare users, and 53 percent would require states to set up plans for people with major health problems. “The ideas that find nearly universal agreement among Tea Party supporters are rather vague,” says pollster J. Ann Selzer, who conducted the survey. “You would think any idea that involves more government action would be anathema, and that is just not the case.”

    Tea Party candidates show no such ambivalence. When it comes to government, they don’t want to trim fat, they want to amputate limbs. Angle says she would eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency, the IRS, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. Buck says he would get rid of the Energy and Education Depts. And candidates across the country say they aim to eliminate the web of special tax breaks, earmarks, and subsidies that benefit industries from golf cart manufacturers to the largest automakers.

    In other words: The Tea Party rank-and-file support politicians they don’t even agree with. Why? Based on the data from the NYT/CBS poll and the Bloomberg poll: Because they don’t know what’s in the health care bill they’re so afraid of. They don’t realize their taxes have actually gone down since Obama was elected. They don’t know how their tax money is spent. And they don’t even seem to know what the politicians they support actually plan on doing.

    Here’s what I wrote last year on our chances of getting out of this one:

    I don’t share Robinson’s faith that we can pull out of this. I don’t have her faith in the Democratic Party, which I think plays the role of “good cop” in what’s actually a one party system. I think the entire establishment media, not just Fox News, is a party of that system and can never be made to “get the story right.” I don’t think we can rely on the police to do the “heavy lifting.”

    I haven’t seen much to change my mind in the past year, except possibly that the non-News Corps owned mainstream media has been getting somewhat better.

    Robinson proposes three different possible scenarios, this one being the “worst case”:

    A solid majority of the Tea Party candidates win their races, cementing the movement’s lock on the GOP and turning it into a genuine political power in this country. They’ve already promised us that if they take either house of Congress, the next two years will be a lurid nightmare of hearings, trials, impeachments, and character assassinations against progressives. (Which could, in the end, backfire on the GOP as badly as the Clinton impeachment did. We can hope.) Similar scorched-earth harassment awaits officials at every other level of government, too. And casual violence against immigrants, gays, and progressives may escalate as the Tea Party brownshirts become bolder, confident that at least some authorities will either back them up or look the other way.

    Unfortunately, the only alternative to the Tea Party seems to be the Democratic Party. And what happens if we do vote down the Tea Party and keep the Dems in power? I must admit to being surprised at how fickle the American public is. After only two years, we’re suddenly ready to give control back to the Republicans just because the Democrats haven’t been able to reverse the damage that the GOP spent eight years creating? But, even with a near super majority, the Democrats haven’t enacted anything even approaching progressive reform. No wonder people are getting impatient. Even with a majority in the House and Congress, it still feels like the GOP is still running things.

    Like so many others, I’ll probably be voting blue again this year - if for no other reason than millions of dollars are being spent to try to get me not to.

    And yet I know this is exactly what perpetuates the problems we have. Both the GOP and the Dems get people to vote for them out of fear of the other party. “Sure, we suck but are you really gonna let THEM take office?”

    There’s a scenario that Robinson doesn’t mention: the Tea Party candidates get elected, and they get gobbled up by the Washington DC machine and nothing much changes. The Tea Party base are just as disappointed with their candidates as liberals have been with Obama and the various “netroots” candidates.

  9. (Image from this old post by Nick P, it’s NOT from a Tea Party rally)

    First thing first, Robert Paxton’s definition of fascism:

    Fascism is a system of political authority and social order intended to reinforce the unity, energy, and purity of communities in which liberal democracy stands accused of producing division and decline. […]

    A form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.

    Now, Sara Robinson on the question “Are we there yet?”:

    And every time this question got asked, people like Chip Berlet and Dave Neiwert and Fred Clarkson and yours truly would look up from our maps like a parent on a long drive, and smile a wan smile of reassurance. “Wellll…we’re on a bad road, and if we don’t change course, we could end up there soon enough. But there’s also still plenty of time and opportunity to turn back. Watch, but don’t worry. As bad as this looks: no — we are not there yet.”

    In tracking the mileage on this trip to perdition, many of us relied on the work of historian Robert Paxton, who is probably the world’s pre-eminent scholar on the subject of how countries turn fascist. In a 1998 paper published in The Journal of Modern History, Paxton argued that the best way to recognize emerging fascist movements isn’t by their rhetoric, their politics, or their aesthetics. Rather, he said, mature democracies turn fascist by a recognizable process, a set of five stages that may be the most important family resemblance that links all the whole motley collection of 20th Century fascisms together. According to our reading of Paxton’s stages, we weren’t there yet. There were certain signs — one in particular — we were keeping an eye out for, and we just weren’t seeing it.

    And now we are. In fact, if you know what you’re looking for, it’s suddenly everywhere. […]

    All through the Bush years, progressive right-wing watchers refused to call it “fascism” because, though we kept looking, we never saw clear signs of a deliberate, committed institutional partnership forming between America’s conservative elites and its emerging homegrown brownshirt horde. We caught tantalizing signs of brief flirtations — passing political alliances, money passing hands, far-right moonbat talking points flying out of the mouths of “mainstream” conservative leaders. But it was all circumstantial, and fairly transitory. The two sides kept a discreet distance from each other, at least in public. What went on behind closed doors, we could only guess. They certainly didn’t act like a married couple.

    Now, the guessing game is over. We know beyond doubt that the Teabag movement was created out of whole cloth by astroturf groups like Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks and Tim Phillips’ Americans for Prosperity, with massive media help from FOX News. We see the Birther fracas — the kind of urban myth-making that should have never made it out of the pages of the National Enquirer — being openly ratified by Congressional Republicans. We’ve seen Armey’s own professionally-produced field manual that carefully instructs conservative goon squads in the fine art of disrupting the democratic governing process — and the film of public officials being terrorized and threatened to the point where some of them required armed escorts to leave the building. We’ve seen Republican House Minority Leader John Boehner applauding and promoting a video of the disruptions and looking forward to “a long, hot August for Democrats in Congress.”

    This is the sign we were waiting for — the one that tells us that yes, kids: we are there now. America’s conservative elites have openly thrown in with the country’s legions of discontented far right thugs. They have explicitly deputized them and empowered them to act as their enforcement arm on America’s streets, sanctioning the physical harassment and intimidation of workers, liberals, and public officials who won’t do their political or economic bidding.

    This is the catalyzing moment at which honest-to-Hitler fascism begins. It’s also our very last chance to stop it.

    Alternet: Is the U.S. on the Brink of Fascism?

    Robinson has 2 follow-up posts: 7 Ways We Can Fight Back Against the Rising Fascist Threat and 5 Ways to Build a Fascist-Proof America

    I don’t share Robinson’s faith that we can pull out of this. I don’t have her faith in the Democratic Party, which I think plays the role of “good cop” in what’s actually a one party system. I think the entire establishment media, not just Fox News, is a party of that system and can never be made to “get the story right.” I don’t think we can rely on the police to do the “heavy lifting.”

    I have, however, been considering what can be done. I will share my thoughts and conclusions eventually (unless of course I do decide there really isn’t anything that can be done).

    In the meantime, here are some other things to consider.

    Naomi Wolf in her own piece claiming we’re in the late stages of a fascist shift: (from 2007)

    A friend emails me a story from USA Today about a 24-year-old college graduate who testified before Congress about her family of immigrants and the difficulties they face; shortly afterward, the entire family was arrested by immigration agents. Another online piece reports that Blackwater is setting up operations along the US/Mexico border and an insightful post on Daily Kos describes how the TSA list will revert from the airlines to the management of the Department of Homeland Security shortly and that by February we may well face the need to apply to the State for permission to travel. If this proposed regulation goes through, we will move from 1931 to about 1934—when the borders started to close— with the stroke of a pen. Jews in America have hardwired into their DNA a sense of the distinction between those who got out before the borders closed and those who waited a moment too long.

    And these thoughts about life during totalitarianism from William S. Burroughs and RU Sirius.

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