Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Jack is Back!

(A couple from the Archives, Fall, 2009)

The Paranoid Style in the US Senate 


Robert Stacy McCain has foreclosed on Sheldon's Whitehouse, with video here.

"Far from appealing to the better angels of our nature, too many colleagues are embarked on a desperate no-holds-barred mission of propaganda, obstruction and fear. History cautions us of the excesses to which these malignant, vindictive passions can ultimately lead. Tumbrils have rolled through taunting crowds, broken glass has sparkled in darkened streets. Strange fruit has hung from Southern trees. Even this great institution of government that we share has cowered before a tail-gunner waving secret lists..."

Translation: "Tumbrels" were the carts used by French revolutionaries to haul victims to the guillotines. "broken glass" means Hitler's "Kristollnacht" terrorism, and "strange fruit" means Klansmen lynching blacks. And they all teamed up with Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, 56% of the American people, Glenn Beck and the insurance companies to stop Hope and Change.

Whitehouse obviously doesn't know his French tumbrel from his Scotch tumbler.

The Jacobins were the original Leftists, the Hitlerites were National Socialists and the Klansmen were all Democrats. Leftists, Socialists and Democrats. Sheldon has a much better claim to all of them than do American conservatives.

American Spectator:
If you oppose this bill, you're a dangerous nut.

Such was the essence of Sunday's floor speech in which the junior senator from Rhode Island quoted at length from Richard Hofstadter's 1965 classic, The Paranoid Style in American Politics and offered it as a diagnosis of the health bill's opponents. ...

Certainly this should sound familiar to conservatives, as Hofstadter's psycho-political theory -- derived from the work of Theodor Adorno -- was analyzed and dismissed by William F. Buckley Jr. a half-century ago. ...

To denounce fearmongering while simultaneously likening one's opponents to the murderous rabble of 1938 Germany is a neat trick, as was Senator Whitehouse's effort to blame Senate Republicans for having "ruined" Christmas by delaying passage of the health-care bill. Of course, it is Democrats who have pushed the bill toward a projected Christmas Eve roll-call vote in order to give President Obama a major legislative accomplishment to tout in his State of the Union Address next month. ...

Such is the state of affairs as we approach the first Christmas of the Hope and Change presidency. Democrats rush toward a vote on major legislation -- more than 2,000 pages [now pushing 3,000-ed.], its cost to taxpayers estimated at more than $2 trillion -- before its contents can be read or analyzed, even while insisting that it is not they, but their opponents, who are in the grip of madness.

Hofstadter's "The Paranoid Style" has kept Liberals from processing two facts: a Commie killed JFK and the Venona Files largely vindicated "Tail-Gunner" Joe McCarthy.

For example, here's 'The Obama Haters--We still don't understand how fringe conservatism went mainstream.' By David Greenberg:

Over the next decade [after leaving the Communist Party--ed.], Hofstadter retained his interest in ultraconservatism. As the fury of McCarthyism gave way to the more quotidian conformity of the Ike Age (and the popular rejection of the cerebral Adlai Stevenson), Hofstadter trained his focus on the historical sources of America's long-standing hostility toward the life of the mind, producing perhaps his most brilliant work, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (1963). Just at that moment, however, right-wing extremism came roaring back. In 1964, the far right won the Republican presidential nomination for its own standard-bearer, Barry Goldwater. And the assassination of President Kennedy on a trip to seething, ultraconservative Dallas—where mobs had just verbally and physically harassed Stevenson and where a John Birch Society newspaper ad on Nov. 22 menacingly charged the president with communistic sympathies—made the extremists appear newly dangerous.

Hofstadter hints at the influence of the assassination on his thinking in "The Paranoid Style." He recounts a congressional hearing, following Kennedy's murder, on a gun-control measure that so exercised three Arizona men that they "drove 2,500 miles to Washington from Bagdad, Arizona, to testify against it … with what might be considered representative paranoid arguments, insisting that it was an 'attempt by a subversive power to make us part of one world socialistic government. ' " If nothing else, the assassination crystallized the worries about a resurgent right that led historians in the 1960s to look again at conspiracy-mindedness.

Did you see that? Lots of dark words around conservatives--but it was a Commie who pulled the trigger! Not that you would ever know it from that account.

Ed Driscoll:
"So how do you get, really, from this place in 1963, where Kennedy is shot by a communist, to '68 where communists like Castro are heroes to the left?" Piereson believes this could have only happened due to the cultural disorientation caused by the airbrushing of Kennedy's assassination and the attempt to "view it as a civil rights event, instead of a Cold War event." ..."The anti-Americanism and the conspiracy theorizing and the rough political language characterized by the left now enters into liberalism," Piereson says.

As for "a tail-gunner waving secret lists", he was right about this much:
Soviet espionage in America, Haynes said, is one area where many historians have been especially biased; in fact, the bulk of In Denial deals with this "lying about spying." Haynes himself has found (in Soviet telegraphs decrypted as part of the Venona Project) overwhelming evidence that hundreds of influential Americans-including high-ranking government officials Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White-served as spies for the USSR.

Faced with such revelations, revisionists have gone from denying Soviet espionage to rationalizing or redefining it, Haynes reported. These American Communists were not spies, some of them insist, they were just internationally minded "progressives" who "exchanged information" with their friends from Russia. Some revisionists go so far as to claim that by helping to break the atomic monopoly and restrain American "aggression," Soviet spies contributed to world peace and even helped the U.S. (If that was the case, Haynes quipped, maybe America should have joined the Soviets in awarding the spies medals.)

And then have a drink everytime a liberal cites Hofstadter.

It is the now one of the oldest, lamest tricks in the liberal playbook; conservatives are fascists, conservatives are stupid, conservatives are kooks. It's the Soviet psychiatry weapon: "My opponents are mentally ill!"

Sheldon Whitehouse is so liberal, he once dated Miranda Warning. She had to get a restraining order.

But given that Democrats keep offering up such loosely-wrapped politicians as the Gothic Clintons, the Apocalypse Gore, Dennis Kucinich from Alpha Remulak-12, Joe Biden from whatever Welsh mining town Lord Kinnock grew up in, Escapee Grayson and B. Boyish Man, maybe ol' Shel should take on conservative arguments based on the merits, instead of psychoanalyzing us.

Crazy, huh?...............................

Why Oliver's Stoned 


"...[H]atred and bitterness...has been injected into the life of our nation by bigots.”--Supreme Court Chief Justice & Philosopher-King Earl Warren, blaming conservatives for what Communists did.

'Tis the Summer of our Discontentulation, and now is the perfect time to re-read Ed Driscoll's brilliant review of James Piereson's brilliant new book, Camelot and the Cultural Revolution: How the Assassination of John F. Kennedy Shattered American Liberalism.

What happens to a nation when a world-changing event occurs of such tremendous magnitude that half the population can't process who caused it?

September 11? Try the November 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. As James Piereson recently told me, "If Kennedy had been killed by a right winger with the same evidence that condemned Oswald, there never would have been any talk about conspiracies. It would have fit neatly into the moral framework of 1950s and '60s-style liberalism. And the liberals would have been off and running with it, and no one would have talked about conspiracies."

That's the subject of Piereson's new book...in which he argues both that Kennedy was a victim of the Cold War, and that the repression of his killer's ideology caused tremendous psychological damage to the collective health of the nation. [...]

It was during the 1950s and early '60s that that liberal elites declared America's nascent and disparate conservative movements to be a greater threat to the nation than the Soviet Union, as illustrated by films of the day such as Dr. Strangelove and The Manchurian Candidate. And the subtext of those films was very much based upon "a vast literature that developed in the '50s and early '60s about the threat from the far right," Piereson says, specifically mentioning Richard Hofstadter's The Paranoid Style In American Politics, and Daniel Bell's The Radical Right.

As Piereson writes, leading up to Kennedy's fateful trip to Dallas, there was a remarkable amount of violence in the south, caused by a backlash against the civil rights movement. In October of 1963, Adlai Stevenson, the Democrats' presidential candidate in the 1950s who had been appointed the ambassador to the UN by Kennedy, traveled to Dallas for a speech on United Nations Day. Stevenson is heckled, booed, spat upon, and hit over the head with a cardboard sign. Stevenson says publicly, there's a "spirit of madness" in Texas. And Kennedy's White House staffers believe that he should cancel his already announced November visit to Dallas.

Thus, at the beginning of November 1963 a framework has been established that the far right is the threat to American democracy, "and that they've moved from heated rhetoric to violent act," Piereson says.
At least no one bit his finger off.

"So when the news spreads that Kennedy has been killed, the immediate response is that it must be a right winger who's done it," Piereson notes. And while the Birch-era right definitely had severe issues, JFK's assassin on November 22, 1963 had, of course, a polar opposite ideology. "When the word is now spread that Oswald has been captured, and that he has a communist past, and they start running film of him demonstrating for Castro in the previous summer, there is a tremendous disorientation at this."

The shock that Kennedy was in reality a victim of the Cold War simply did not compute on a national level. This was in stark contrast to the narrative that framed the death of Abraham Lincoln a century prior. "When Booth shot Lincoln, everybody knew that Booth was a southern partisan, and they could easily understand why he wanted to kill Lincoln," Piereson says. "Northerners blamed the south for this, and you assimilate it into the moral framework of the Civil War."

In contrast, "Liberals had great difficulty assimilating this idea that a communist would kill Kennedy. It made sense to them that an anti-civil rights person might do it, or an anti-communist might do it, but not a communist."

But that's exactly who Oswald was, having defected to the Soviet Union in 1959 and then spending two and a half years there, and attempting to denounce his American citizenship along the way. Piereson says that his April 1963 attempt to kill Edwin Walker, former army general, anti-civil rights leader, and head of the John Birch Society in Texas says much about Oswald as well. In addition to his anti-civil rights action, Walker also gave frequent speeches calling for the overthrow of Castro. Piereson believes that Oswald's attempt to kill Walker sheds light on why he killed Kennedy: his policies towards Cuba and his leading the nation's other Cold War actions of the time.
John Birchers didn't kill Kennedy--Oswald was trying to kill them too--and for the same reason he killed JFK: it's what Fidel wanted.

"However, that is not how the Kennedy assassination was interpreted," Piereson says, with enormous understatement. Instead, a sense of collective guilt is imposed on the nation through its liberal elites and media. "And this is really the first time that you get on the liberal-left this idea that America is guilty. But this however now becomes a metaphor for the left for everything that happens moving on in the 1960s." [...]
"First, we Blame America First!"

"So how do you get, really, from this place in 1963, where Kennedy is shot by a communist, to '68 where communists like Castro are heroes to the left?"

Piereson believes this could have only happened due to the cultural disorientation caused by the airbrushing of Kennedy's assassination and the attempt to "view it as a civil rights event, instead of a Cold War event."

The conspiracy theories were also fueled by propaganda generated by the Soviet Union and Cuba, Piereson adds. The Soviet Union itself "was very quickly out of the box on November 23, 1963. TASS claimed that Oswald was being setup; and that the real assassins were Klansmen, rightists and 'Birchists' as they called them. They all claimed that it was a right wing conspiracy which brought Kennedy down. And some of them said that Barry Goldwater was responsible."

Which seems to neatly foreshadow the wild conspiracy theories that reached their zenith in Oliver Stone's 1991 film JFK, which paints Oswald as a near-completely innocent victim and pins Kennedy's assassination on virtually everyone from the mafia to LBJ. Stone's 1995 follow-up, Nixon, would, not surprisingly, also implicate its title character in Kennedy's assassination as well.
He implicates everybody...everybody except his partner-in-art Fidel Castro, even though a Castroite pulled the trigger.

Here's my theory: After they listened to their Vaugn Meader albums backwards (Meader the famous Kennedy impersonator, second only to Teddy), a 13-yr.-old Stone teamed up with shadowy Communists in the Peace Corps named "Chris Matthews" to get rid of JFK because he shook Bill Clinton's hand without sanitizer and brought Barack Obama's father to America during the famous Mboya Airlift of Extra Vowels--hey; let's make a movie!

But such conspiracy theories actually began almost immediately after the Warren Commission report was issued in 1964. As Piereson writes in Camelot and the Cultural Revolution, conspiracy theorists used the Warren Commission as their guide to understanding the assassination, even while simultaneously concocting reasons why everything in the report was in error. Pierson places this into context by noting that a sort of flip-over had begun to occur in the mid-1960s, with the left increasingly sounding like the paranoid Birchers of the 1950s.

This was a trait that a few journalists had spotted even before the far left's recent attempts had gotten started to conflate 9/11 into a conspiracy theory involving President Bush, the Pentagon, and presumably everyone in the federal and local governments.
Hey, Van Jones; Jack Ruby called--he wants his conspiracy theories back. If you're done with them. Which you're not.

Similarly, the overheated language of the modern left, such as Al Gore's attempt to demonize his critics as "Digital Brownshirts" begins to grow out of this mid-1960s period. "Just as the Birch Society had accused Eisenhower of being a communist," Piereson says, "by the late sixties, the liberals and leftists were accusing everyone else with being Nazis and fascists. That, and anti-Americanism. These now became features of the left."
"Pelosi"-what? "Reid"-who? Can you say "Ripped from Today's Headlines!"?

The psychological discord in the wake of JFK's assassination also destroyed the line that had previously separated New Deal-style liberals with the more extreme hard left. "The anti-Americanism and the conspiracy theorizing and the rough political language characterized by the left now enters into liberalism," Piereson says. [...]

"Oswald turned out to be one of the most consequential assassins in history," Piereson says. "He's a communist who shoots the president of the United States. You would think that there would be a reaction against communism. But there is no reaction against communism in the United States after Kennedy's killed. In fact, communism is the vogue," particularly on college campuses...Just look for the Ché T-shirt on a college kid—or his professor.
And there was no reaction against Arafat when an Arafatist killed Bobby Kennedy. Well--there was one reaction: First Pal Bill Ayers dedicated his book to Sirhan. I mean Ayers' first book, before he wrote "The Audacity of Hope".

Which may be the most curious element of Kennedy's death: Oswald may have been the ultimate "liberal in a hurry," as communists were often called during the Cold War. But Kennedy's death and the left's reaction to it caused many sixties and seventies liberal ideas to become seemingly frozen in amber. Which is the final remarkable paradox for a group that likes to call itself "progressive" these days.
It's an odd kind of "progress" that views everyday as Sept. 10, 2001--or worse yet, Nov. 21, 1963. And further, takes from those events that the bad guys are CIA interrogators and conservatives, not terrorists and communists.

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