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March 06, 2005

Comments

I think that the name of his site is a coy reference to the John Birch society, which began in Belmont, MA.

Some things never change.

praktike -- you don't say. I grew up in Belmont, and Mr. Welch lived near me. (Always gave out candies made by his family company on Hallowe'en, which was annoying to us as kids, since Welch didn't make any of our favorites.) He never let us cut through his yard, either, which was both annoying and uncharacteristic, for the neighborhood.

I thought it was all about the Belmont Report.

Timmy: now there's an unlikely thought: the Belmont Club as an unlikely reference to 'Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research'. -- I had always thought it was just another attempt to sound tony and British, but praktike's idea makes a sort of horrifying sense.

We need a reprinting and mass distribution of Hofstadter's Paranoid Style. Neiwert is doing very good work, but I think limits hisperspective to the twentieth century, and maybe too much to European scholarship to see the biggest picture. Hofstadter was trying to sum up his impressions of the McCarthy era.

Propaganda

Ezra Klein mentions tangentially the CIO movement in the post-WWII South, and Taft-Hartley. My point is the rhetoric of anti-communism was used as an instrument of domestic and economic policy. Now I have been called conspiratorial and paranoid myself, so when I say that Wretchard is using the WoT to sell Bush's Social Security agenda, understand Wretchard and I both swim in deep muddy waters.

As to Neiwert, I can go back to the 1890's war on anarchism, the Know-Nothings, Aaron Burr, the fear of the Spanish (who had made slavery illegal)in the late 17th century South. Bad this paranoid discourse definitely is, but not new, not a precursor to an inevitable fascism, and something that America seems to endure without permanent damage.

Now I don't actually follow Wretchard's connection of Islamist extremism to its source in analytic philosophy, but I am not the sharpest of dudes. Nor am I in the same service as he to his capitalist warmonger overlords.

A different view of fighting militants of Islam.

"As to Neiwert, I can go back to the 1890's war on anarchism, the Know-Nothings, Aaron Burr, the fear of the Spanish (who had made slavery illegal)in the late 17th century South."

Bob, if looking at the paranoid style, and specifically the Know-Nothings, I think one needs to go back to at least the 1850's.

But I'm inclined to think that the paranoid style goes back to the Stone Age, and any variations unique to America are, while quite interesting and important, not truly immensely unique. (And, yes, I read Hofstadter around age 13 or so, and it's a valuable work.)

I just figured that Wretchard was tired with judges. It is shame that he didn't read this article which may have given him some comfort.

Then something unusual happened on that day in January, said Mr. Bunglawala and others who were there. The several Islamic militants in the room were chased outside by the crowd, and a fistfight broke out. The militants, followers of Abu Abdullah, a firebrand imam, quickly retreated. "These jihadis are like schoolhouse bullies," said Mr. Bunglawala, the communications director for the Muslim Council of Britain, the country's largest Muslim organization. "We sense a feeling of enough is enough now."

Read the rest, it is good stuff.

Gee, Timmy, thanks for following up on my link. Classy.

Well, Gary, take solace in the fact that what you referenced was read by someone, pity the point you make is too subtle for them.

Somehow I don't consider it unclassy to fail to follow up every link in a discussion, esp. cryptic ones with no excerpt. The style of TtWD's comment above is more useful to me, though I probably often go the cryptic route.

Incidentally, while I'm linking to myself, I trust Katherine (and others) have read the most recent Times piece on rendition.

(But perhaps such a description is also as "cryptic" as "A different view of fighting militants of Islam" and "british-muslims-are-fighting-radicals.html" -- very mysterious, those words are, apparently.)

Hey isn't Wretchard from New Zealand? So, TC cares more about what's going down in Indonesia and the Phillpines for a very good reason.

Is there a John Birch society in NZ or OZ?

I'd like to add that Wretchard wrote some of the best analysis of Iraq when things were looking bad in summer 2004. SDB quality stuff.
By the way praktike, did you see that Bill Quick post where Den Beste is chiming in on various comments about what to do about SAudi Arabia?
Oh my God! TRENT TELENKO is saying to go slow on Saudi Arabia. I almost couldn't believe I was reading it!

See rilkefan, I was going to bring up Alger Hiss to sooth Bob's frayed nerves, but I thought the NYT post was better on the overall subject (whatever it actually is, the subject that is).

Perhaps Gary believes in the tooth fairy, believing, rather mysteriously, as he does, apparently, a number of odd things.

yep. Thnaks. There was also a 60 Minutes Special that just ended. I was before my time, I guess.

On the Times piece,

1. I don't buy this for a minute, based on what I know of various cases:

"We get assurances, we check on those assurances, and we double-check on these assurances to make sure that people are being handled properly in respect to human rights," the official said. The official said that compliance had been "very high" but added, "Nothing is 100 percent unless we're sitting there staring at them 24 hours a day."

I know mainly about cases from Syria and Egypt. Perhaps it is different in Jordan, where we seem to have a closer relationship with the intelligence services. But I know of only one possible "rendition", involving 5 suspects, where the detainees have been released and have not made allegations of abuse or torture. Those suspects were taken from Malawi to Zimbabwe for interrogation before eventually being released from Khartoum. Based on our relationship with Zimbabwe and its atrocious human rights record, I am not certain that it qualifies of "rendition" at all; I would guess the suspects remained in U.S. or Malawian custody. Of the rest of those "rendered" since 9/11, there have been allegations of abuse or torture in the cases of Khaled el-Masri, Mamdouh Habib, Maher Arar, Ahmed Agiza, Muhammad Al-Zery, Muhammad Saad Iqbal Madni, Muhammad Haydar Zammar, Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, Osama Nasr, one other detainee sent to Egypt whose name I don't know, and two to three detainees sent to Uzbekistan whose names I don't know. There are three other cases that are not renditions, as the suspect traveled to the country that held him voluntarily, but the evidence suggests the suspect was arrested & interrogated on behalf of the United States, and there are allegations of torture: Ahmad Abou El-Maati, Abdullah Almalki, and the Abu Ali case that hilzoy notes Wretchard's response to. (Ali is a U.S. citizen who was studying in Saudi Arabia.)

2. I don't know why the officials quoted think these things make it better:

"The transfers were portrayed as an alternative to what American officials have said is the costly, manpower-intensive process of housing them in the United States or in American-run facilities in other countries."

"The officials said that most of the people subject to rendition were regarded by counterterrorism experts as less significant than people held under direct American control, including the estimated three dozen high ranking operatives of Al Qaeda who are confined at secret sites around the world."

CBS link here.

Timmy -- the original subject was the amazing revelation that I am in fact a small part of the One Ring, foundation of the Dark Lord's power and a source of corruption to all who touch me. Which no doubt explains why I'm single.

I am in fact a small part of the One Ring, foundation of the Dark Lord's power and a source of corruption to all who touch me.

Aha! hilzoy reveals the true source of her antipathy to Wretchard the Hobbit (whose capitalist warmonger overlords -bob- are probably sheep herders or something:)

I feel like we are living within an Orwellian lie. We are all supposed to be afraid of terrorism. We are supposed to assume that terrorism is of such overwhelming threat to us that we must unite behind the Leader and allow the Leader to do things which normally we would oppose, including compromising our own values and undermining our own institutions.
Bush appeals to fear. (which isn't a whole lot different than appealing to cowardice--we wants us to be afraid).
The biggest threat to us of terrorism isn't the terrorists at all. It's the use to which the fear of terrorists is being put by our own government. The article sited by Hilzoy is an example of how fear is used to promote hate which is used to promote a domestic political agenda.
Terrorists killed three thousand Americans. I went to high school with one of the victims. But terrorists are not promoting hatred of one American for another, they are not responsible for the torture done by our government, they are not responisble for people being imprisoned without charges or trial, and they are not responsible for the abuses of the Patriot Act.
Terrorism is a police and intelligence problem, containable through normal, conventional means and best "fought" through hearts and minds approaches. If Bush was serious about combatting terrorism we would have stayed in Afganistan and made it a model of small farm and herder prosperity. We would be co-operating with prosecutions in places like Indonesia. We would be focused on securing stashes of chemicals and nuclear materials. We would be devising ways to check the cargo holds of container ships. And so on, practical stuff.
I'm not afraid of terrorists. They kill fewer people here than drunk drivers. The war in the Sudan is much worse than anything Al Quaida ever dreamed of. The problems we face now will be made minor shortly by the problems caused by global warming anyway.
The best way to stand up to the hatemongering is to refuse to buy into the fear.

Am I the only one who finds Wretchard to be particularly annoying when he's doing his Brilliant Thinker With Big Ideas schtick?

If you're part of the one ring, shouldn't you have three elves, seven dwarves, and nine men following you around?

Heck, I thought the original subject was selfhatred but then someone brought up birchers and trick or treating and some how we got off track.

Isn't the "Dark Lord" a bar down in SoHO, change venue to the "West Side" to advance one's social life.

And yes, I'm pretty sure you don't live in New York but somewhere on the east coast.

Katherine: I don't buy this for a minute, based on what I know of various cases ...

Katherine, you are much better informed than I, so perhaps my agreement is superfluous, but let me stick in my two cents:

"We get assurances, we check on those assurances, and we double-check on these assurances to make sure that people are being handled properly in respect to human rights," the official said.

It doesn't pass the laugh test. This extaordinary rendition is vital for our security, we're getting intelligence that's preventing terrorist attacks, but we're taking care to assure that human rights are respected? Why do we need to send people to Egypt to interrogate them? Can't we do it ourselves? Please.

They're not even pretending to make sense any more.

I live a few miles north of Baltimore. And I didn't reveal my part-of-the-foundations-of-Barad-Dur-hood; that was Wretchard.

It's not just that he's pretending to be a big thinker with big ideas; it's that he's living in this alternate universe in which no one sticks up for our country's values and judges grovel and our real enemy is within. -- Actually, I might sign on to that part if I thought he meant that that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself -- fear, and our willingness to let it lead us into hatred of one another, and to toss aside Constitutional principles that have served us well for several centuries. But somehow I don't think that's what he had in mind.

rilkefan writes: "Perhaps Gary believes in the tooth fairy, believing, rather mysteriously, as he does, apparently, a number of odd things."

?

Hilzoy, I'd probably want to ask if you were familiar with the old Usenet usage of "marry me?" before saying "marry me?"

The war in the Sudan is much worse than anything Al Quaida ever dreamed of.

1) AQ terrorist trainees are "practicing" killing people with the janjawid.

2) IIRC, AlQaeda was based in Sudan until it got hot in 1998, then moved to Afghanistan.

3) Pres Bush pressed for and got a cease-fire in the south of Sudan by backing the Sudan Peace Act.

Hard to say what's most bogus in the anonymous official's defense of extraordinary rendition, but I'd have to vote for this that Katherine quoted:

"The transfers were portrayed as an alternative to what American officials have said is the costly, manpower-intensive process of housing them in the United States or in American-run facilities in other countries."

Saving nickels in the War on Terror? For what? Social Security "reform"?

I mean, How Stupid Do They Think We Are? "Well, 51% of you *did* vote to re-elect our boy." Doh! He's right!

(Though doubtless, Egyptian torturers are much cheaper than American ones. Lower pay, no benefits, etc.)

it's that he's living in this alternate universe in which no one sticks up for our country's values and judges grovel and our real enemy is within.

I've set myself the task of trying to figure out where Wretchard is from, but I don't see anything in his archive that explains much (the closest thing is this which explains the name). My best guess is that he is an American living in the UK. (if you would like the evidence I use to support this assertion, please ask, but I don't want to spoil the fun of the chase for anyone else.) so the possibility of a shout-out to the Birchers is possible.

It's actually quite impressive that he seems to have been able to avoid virtually all traces that could even hint at his personal life in his blog. There are a few other things to investigate that I will take a pass on, as I'm not really interested in 'outing' him, just curious how much one can surmise from a set of writings someone makes.

lj: jeez, what an awful poem. If rilkefan hasn't already clicked this link, we should warn him off. But thanks for undertaking your quest: I really, really hope that the Belmont Club is not named after my hometown. The fact that the John Birch Society was founded there (and used to have its headquarters right next to the Post Office) is bad enough. It's really quite a nice town otherwise, though recently its overgrown raggedy woods (the same woods that used to be most of Zeptorland) have been decimated to make room for houses that should have stayed on the set of Dynasty where they belonged.

Gary: I never got into usenets. So, um, what does 'marry me' mean in that context?

L J, I think his name is actually "Stephen Den Worst"

Anderson--yeah, opponents of rendition thought calling it "torture outsourcing" was our clever framing.

Dennis Hastert's using it too:

"Unfortunately, the outlook for this legislation is not good. I asked Pete Jeffries, the communications director for House Speaker Dennis Hastert, if the speaker supported Markey’s bill. After checking with the policy experts in his office, Jeffries called back and said: “The speaker does not support the Markey proposal. He believes that suspected terrorists should be sent back to their home countries.”

Surprised, I asked why suspected terrorists should be sent anywhere. Why shouldn’t they be held by the United States and prosecuted?

“Because,” said Jeffries, “US taxpayers should not necessarily be on the hook for their judicial and incarceration costs.”It was, perhaps, the most preposterous response to any question I’ve ever asked as a journalist.

I'm sure the private jet operations are a bargain compared to a prison cell.

As for Barad-Dur, as I've pointed out before, and Kieran Healy pointed out before me, it's in Nashville.

Tolkien really is endlessly "applicable" I guess. In the books I remember reading (and the movies I remember seeing), one of the main themes was that there are some means that the ends cannot justify, because they are intrinsically evil and inevitably corrupt those that use them.

thanks for the warning, hilzoy, taking your word for it.

... and Katherine, that's some good commenting over at Kevin Drum's blog re Casey - props.

Of course the reference to plutocrat overlords was meant to be funny. The Ezra Klein link link has examples of vehement leftist polemic...would that there were more.

hilzoy, I think you may have slightly misinterpreted the bold passage of Wretchard's. I would paraphrase it as

"Every victory in the War on Terror seems to embolden the Western domestic enemies of [whatever], and it is a good thing that these hidden divisions are brought to light, for these domestic enemies may actually be the greater threat."

Timmy above seems at first not to take the passage at all seriously, referring to Wretchard being upset at judges. Later he talks of "Self-hatred". I actually do take "the argument" very seriously, whatever "the argument" might actually be. Wretchard may actually be thinking along vague Jane Fonda/Ward Churchill lines, Fonda had little in common with Ho and the Communists, Churchill little in common with Islamists, Wretchard might say simply "They hate America." Or not, people who speak in parables and metaphors are particularly hard to mindread.

Someone of greater depth (or logorrhea) might say that a totalitarianism of libertarian pluralism (or a decadent distortion of the Enlightenment Project or whatever) has weakened the West in its ideological struggle against any competing fanaticism. This can filter down to a simplistic "We got trouble in River City" demagogic sloganeering, but that doesn't mean the feeling has no justification.

I think the left (which does not include Fonda or Churchill, at least my side of the left) needs a competing patriotic ideology so as to reassure the people in River City that their values will be defended from threats domestic and foreign.

Oh, and that I might take "the argument" seriously doesn't necessarily mean I agree with it. I don't. I usually think the stuff the right believes to be our weakness is actually our greatest strength, and best weapon against our enemies. You don't fight fire with fire, you fight fire with water.

Jenna Jamison against Osama will win every time.

Hilzoy sez: "Gary: I never got into usenets."

It's a singular proper noun, but don't worry about it.

"So, um, what does 'marry me' mean in that context?"

Typically, some variant of "I muchly muchly loved that post of yours" to whatever is being responded to; an expression of great admiration and agreement. I thought I'd offer it in somewhat more generic fashion, since you gave the irrestisible opening.

Another variant might be "may I have your baby?"

Hilzoy sez: "Gary: I never got into usenets."

It's a singular proper noun, but don't worry about it.

Not anymore.

Katherine: As for Barad-Dur, as I've pointed out before, and Kieran Healy pointed out before me, it's in Nashville. (the Batman Building)

Do you remember the President's Analyst? It's funny how the phone company has these weird buildings. There's also the "Chippendale Building" in New York.

Tolkien ... there are some means that the ends cannot justify, because they are intrinsically evil...

I believe Tolkien himself identified nuclear weapons as our "ring of power." Would that we had the wisdom to cast them into the fire.

ral: I believe Tolkien himself identified nuclear weapons as our "ring of power."

I had exactly the opposite in my head - that The Great War (and the triumph of the Industrial Revolution) was behind The War of The Ring, not WWII.

Odd. Now I can't find the quote but I have a distinct memory of it. Evidently Google isn't everything.

Pretty sure that people pestered T with the ring==bomb interpretation and he disagreed - that the text was gestating during the 30s and in large part written before Hiroshima. Anyway, Gary will surely chime in with an authoritative take if no one else does.

L J, I think his name is actually "Stephen Den Worst"

I'm a pretty link driven reader (I don't have that many blogs I read regularly, but when I find a post, I tend to burrow through the archives) and after having a chuckle, I realized I hadn't clicked through to anything by Den Beste recently, and so hit google. I was a bit saddened to learn of the reason he stopped blogging. It's not that I agreed with very much he said, but it just pulled me up a little. This is not to give praktike a hard time, just a FWIW.

It wasn't that Lord of the Rings was an allegory of WW II. Rather, the sense of it was that we face our own test, to abjure means that if we use them will lead to our own destruction.

Oh well, perhaps I'm misremembering.

"I believe Tolkien himself identified nuclear weapons as our "ring of power." Would that we had the wisdom to cast them into the fire."

I'm pretty sure you are wrong about that. He hated direct allegory enough that I would find such a quote highly unlikely.

Wretchard provides lots of great information, but is sometimes overwrought. I'm surprised that Neiwert is mentioned positively while Wretchard gets a negative treatment. I'm not just playing the your side does it too game when I say that they are almost exact mirror images of each other. Both provide useful information from time to time--enough that they can't be totally written off--both have a huge following of people who want to complain about their disfavored group, but both see their boogeymen underneath every rock.

In my mind the distinction is that Wretchard reports on a huge danger and sometimes overdoes it while Neiwert is focusing on at most a medium-level danger. Although, of course I would think so wouldn't I? :)

But both are at their worst when they try to generalize from the actually awful groups to the political movements that they want to tar. Wretchard does it by suggesting that 'The Left' doesn't know how to fight real threats and Neiwert does it by suggesting that pretty much everything Republicans do is furthering a new American fascism. Ugly. His "The Rise of Pseudo Fascism" series (which I see beat out Katherine's series) has huge elements which exactly parallel what Hilzoy says about Wretchard here:

Wretchard began, as best I can tell, by hating the Islamists who attacked this country on 9/11 and the unspecified "Left" who, in his view, enable and support them. But now his hatred has circled back on itself. At least, that's the only way I can interpret his saying that it's a good thing that cracks are spreading through the ideology that supports this country, and that the West he began by defending contains "the foundations of Barad-Dur".

Neiwart plays the 7 degrees of Kevin Bacon game and links everything remotely conservative into a huge conspiratorial 'network'. He demonizes almost every possible conservative as a neo-fascist. I can't find the quote now (it was from a post about two years ago) where he goes on and on about some local political corruption proving that conservatives were fascists who are taking over the south, but a little independent research reveals that all the actors he was talking about were Democrats. When I saw that one I realized that he would and could find his hated enemy everywhere, and every bad thing was a sign of his enemy in action.

SH - I don't read Orcinus that much currently but I've always found it to be very evidence-based if a bit less optimistic about human nature than I am. If you have a solid case against Neiwert's objectivity that might disabuse me of the above, you ought to consider putting up a post. It would be fair to him to have quotes etc to look at and if nothing else a service to this mote of the left blogosphere.

And I should note, about Neiwert, that he's usually quite careful about distinguishing between what bothers him about some parts of the right and genuine fascism. I also recall, but can't find, a post from him (maybe sometime around last May?) in which he was very exercised about the fact that someone had described him as thinking that fascism was alive and well in America, and went to considerable lengths to show that he had not. Iirc, his main point was:look, fascism really, really scares me, and precisely because I take it seriously, I try to be really, really careful about distinguishing genuine fascism from things that share some tendencies with it but are also importantly different.

Was being cryptic - "evidence-based" was intended to encompass hilzoy's 02:09 AM point.

There was a very interesting essay about LoTR as being on Arts and Letters Daily a while back, but a google search doesn't turn it up.

Googling about, there was these two MIT Opencourseware videos by Prof. Anne McCants. Rather undergraduate-y (I love the passing the potato chips around), but discusses Lewis in addition to Tolkien, with Braudel, Beowulf and heroism thrown in so it may be of interest.

Neiwart is anything but careful about circumscribing his arguments. See part five of his fascism series for instance:

A lot of these beliefs have been bubbling to the surface in large numbers in recent years, particularly as we approached the millennium. Remember all the fears about Y2K? Remember all the conspiracy theories by right-wing extremists that President Clinton intended to use the "Y2K meltdown" to install martial law? Remember the "Y2K survival kits" being sold by Patriot movement types, and the stores of generators and large bags of beans, rice and canned goods that turned out not to be needed?

Most of these fears receded to just below the surface after Y2K turned out not to be the apocalypse after all. But then came the advent of the "war on terror" on Sept. 11, 2001.

This exhibits Neiwart's favorite game: "right wing extremists". It is used in exactly the same was as "left-wing extremist" is used by Reynolds when he complains about nasty pseudo-Indian professors in Denver. You take an idea from the most extreme fringe and then generalize it via tenuous connection to 50% of the population. He then engages in pop-psychology for the next few paragraphs eventually reaching the conclusion that the American public was suckered into overreacting to the threat of Islamic terrorism and gets to make constant allusions to one of his biggest boogeymen "The Christian Right" by defining everything under apocalypticism--which he showed was a big deal with his silly mention of Y2K apocalyptics who in reality represent the utter-most fringe.

He does it in Part One as well. Here he is quoting another reporter, but he goes with the conclusion as the basis for his whole methodology:

The network, as Stein diagrams it, includes scores of powerful organizations -- most of them with bland names like the State Policy Network and the Leadership Institute -- that he says train young leaders and lawmakers and promote policy ideas on the national and local level. These groups are, in turn, linked to a massive message apparatus, into which Stein lumps everything from Fox News and the Wall Street Journal op-ed page to Pat Robertson's "700 Club." And all of this, he contends, is underwritten by some 200 "anchor donors." "This is perhaps the most potent, independent institutionalized apparatus ever assembled in a democracy to promote one belief system," he said.

The exact same type of reporting could be done with respect to the Democratic Party--with links to the modern Communist Party via anti-war protests with links to MoveOn.org which heavily funded all sorts of pro-Kerry and pro-Democrat campaigns. Throw in Dan Rather and you have the makings of a vast pseudo-Communist conspiracy. And if I had about 20 hours free I would make a parody that did exactly that. The frustrating thing about Neiwart is he sometimes comes up with interesting stuff, but you have to be willing to play his conspiracy games to get it. His reporting on the Dan Rather fiasco was especially awful. I still don't think he acknowledges that the memos were fraudulant. I suppose I have more tolerance for Wretchard doing the same thing because he isn't attacking me.

"I still don't think he acknowledges that the memos were fraudulant."

I still don't know that they were, actually - last I heard this was still a matter under investigation.

The material you quote seems innocuous out of context - will have to check the context.

Sebastian: I really have to go to bed, but two minor points: first, in the post you cite (and my impression is, in general) Neiwert calls the people he's talking about 'right-wing extremists'. He does not conflate the extremists on the right with the right per se. In this he's very different from Instapundit. Second, in line with my last post, it's his series on pseudo-fascism, which he says is not fascism.

I believe that the post hilzoy is thinking about is this one. I also agree with rilkefan, that's a pretty big accusation against Neiwert, and I think it needs to be backed up with a cite, not a simple "it was from a post about two years ago". In fact, Neiwert points to the fact that a mindset that sees conspiracies everywhere is what forms the foundation of fascism, and I would also note that Niewert has bumped heads with Raimundo (who no one would ever connect to the conservative movement under any definition of 7 degrees of separation) precisely on that point.

In preview, I see that you have pulled some points from his series. You choose the opening statement from part 5, but you do not note that Niewert is discussing not right wing extremists, but the present situation where Americans are susceptible to "apocalypticism". You choose the fact that he notes that there were people who were arguing about this were from the right. Well, if you read this link, that gives you a taste of it.

Your second quote (which was made by another person and you are using it as a stand in for what you infer Neiwert to believe) is followed immediately by this

When movements like this take shape and gain real power -- and especially when they consolidate complete control of the reins power, as the conservative movement has done in the past four years -- they often take on a real life of their own, mutating into entirely separate entities that often bear little resemblance to their root values.

I truly appreciate that you are, in a real sense, defending Katherine's work, but doing it by misrepresenting quotations is really not acceptable. I do not think Katherine would like to be defended in this way.

It's a singular proper noun, but don't worry about it.

Not anymore.

I well recall Bush's gaffe, and have enjoyed many plays on it. However, it was "internets," and not at all in reference to Usenet (which is also sometimes put in all caps, as if it were an acroynm, which it is not, and which is also incorrect).

"I believe Tolkien himself identified nuclear weapons as our 'ring of power.' Would that we had the wisdom to cast them into the fire."

I don't recall him using those words, or speaking directly about nuclear weapons, though I could easily be forgetting; what I do recall is his stating that were LOTR an allegory of WWII (which it isn't), the Ring would have been taken by the West and used. Possibly that's what you're thinking of, ral.

And, yes, LOTR isn't an allegory of either war, as should be plain by any superficial examination. It was, however, very influenced by Tolkien's experience in the infantry, particularly during the Somme, in the Great War, where he lost his closest friends, who had formed an extremely close-knit club they called "the Tea Club and Barrovian Society." (I've not yet read this, though I likely will sooner or later.)

Liberal Japonicus, sometimes I honestly can't tell what you are arguing for or against. Is the passage you quote intended to contradict my interpretation? Because it doesn't even address my point--that from the very beginning of his series he plays that game that you dislike so much when Instapundit played it with Summers. Complaints about that were everywhere on this board, and Neiwart does exactly the same thing. Both take extremists and then pretend that the entire other side of the debate is essentially the extremists. If it is ridiculous when Reynolds does it, it is ridiculous when Neiwart does it. The principle difference between the two is that Neiwart hides some of it behind pop-psychology and fake sociology while Reynolds is straightfoward about it.

"Second, in line with my last post, it's his series on pseudo-fascism, which he says is not fascism."

This is a big cop out and a classic Neiwart conceit. You don't choose inflammatory terms and then back away slightly as if you didn't use them. If every time I talked about people on the Left I called them "psuedo-Communists" and pointed out that while they 'formally' renounced Stalinist excesses there were a number of 'disturbing' parallels with Communist movements, that would be insinuation. In any case, he doesn't back away very far, he suggests that the worst parts of fascism are prevalent in American conservatism--his main exception is the "rise of the phoenix" trope.

He does it with "apocalyptic" as well. For many reasons, apocalyptic is not the proper word for what he is describing. The most obvious being that the Christian apocalysm that he is trying to invoke would imply a US loss in the War against terrorism if it were applicable. But apocalyptic has a great advantage over any other term--it lets a writer whose contempt for conservatism drips out every pore allude to one of his boogeymen--the Christian Right--at numerous opportunities without naming them.

Introduction to Part III: "Its whole purpose being the acquisition of raw power through any means necessary, the discrete "conservative movement" and its dealings can at times be extremely disorienting."

He isn't describing fringe groups. He believes this is an accurate description of the whole conservative movement.

The quote from Part I that I initally used is (contra liberal japonicus) never backed away from, and in fact represents the core of Neiwart's argument--that everything he later identifies (from Fox News to the WSJ to the 700 Club to anti-abortion groups to people who believe that Y2K was about Clinton trying to sieze power permanently) forms a vast neo-fascistic cabal. His argument is specifically about NOT making distinctions between conservative groups and relies almost entirely on the idea that talking about any one is talking about all of them.

"This fist-shaking style of response to normative political discourse, in fact, was one of the real hallmarks of fascism. It signaled, above all else, the rightness of power by virtue of its naked use to intimidate and silence dissent. To the fascist leader, diplomacy is a parlor game for the weak; what counts is the raw will of the man of action. Whether he is right is moot; what counts is his strength and resolve in the exercise of power."

To call the above a 'hallmark' of fascism is to reveal a complete ignorance of human politics. Sometimes I wonder if he has ever heard of Stalin or Mao. Both are perfectly described by that sentence and neither could fairly be called fascist. They would be known as Communist--which I could easily link to the modern Democratic Party using Neiwart's insinuation and guilt by association techniques.

In that paragraph we get another of his favorites--liberal as martyr. "It signaled, above all else, the rightness of power by virtue of its naked use to intimidate and silence dissent." Excuse me? I believe there is a guy named Neiwart who hasn't been thrown in jail for speaking against the Bush administration. I've heard of this Michael Moore guy who gets rich off of the same. There are rumors of an 'Atrios' who hurls invective at the administration and yet avoids capture--perhaps he should publish a book outlining his many near escapes from police that wanted to send him to a concentration camp so that idealistic young people can learn his escape techniques.

"The flash of Cheney's signal to the troops illuminated clearly the fact that the conservative movement had developed an architecture to its argument -- that is, the core of its appeal to the masses -- that was indistiguishable from that of fascism." (Here Neiwert is talking about Cheney's use of the four letter curse word beginning with 'F').

Neiwart is not talking about extremists, he uses extremists to tar every part of what he calls the conservative movement which under his definition is almost everything that to the right of the Democratic Party.

Really his 7 part series is just the culmination of his previous years of conspiracy mongering. In almost every post he peddles his characterture of the conservative movement.

BTW this is certianly not a 'defense' of katherine's work--it doesn't need a defense. If one thing is true on the left, right and center in American politics, it is that innuendo is more popular than solid reporting.

I grant that, in this case, Wretchard was more poetic than clear; however, I think Hilzoy is far off base in interpreting him.

Quite simply, every significant blow struck by the West against our Islamist enemy is accompanied by defeatist warnings before the fact, second-guessing during the process, and recriminations (often based on an unrealistically rosy view of the alternatives) after the fact. The Iraq war shows this phenomenon writ large; the trial of would-be murderers educated at madrassas in Northern Virginia shows it writ small.

This internal dissent as to means is an inevitable part of democracy. What baffles and angers Wretchard is the apparent dissent as to ends -- the unwillingness to robustly defend one's own way of life or realistically evaluate the alternative on offer. (What irritates me is the vacuity of the objections, which so seldom take the form of viable counterproposals.)

Btw, praktike's puerile name-calling at Steven den Beste is the most childish and frankly stupid comment I have seen in months.

Liberal Japonicus, sometimes I honestly can't tell what you are arguing for or against. Is the passage you quote intended to contradict my interpretation? Because it doesn't even address my point--that from the very beginning of his series he plays that game that you dislike so much when Instapundit played it with Summers.

OK Sebastian, where have I commented on the Summers thing? $100 dollars to any charity you name if you can find me making one damn comment about Summers. If you want to link this to my discussion of Instapundit that I had with Gary, fine, but take the time to know what I was talking about rather than making crap up.

I'll try and put my thesis a little more clearly. You are constructing a false version of Neiwert's thesis. You are misrepresenting, you are taking things out of context, your interpretation is of some version of Neiwert that you have constructed in your head. Clear enough for you?

The next quote is from Hilzoy (if you can't assign who says what, why should anyone believe that your interpretation has any basis in what is actually being said?), so I will let her defend it, but suffice it to say that people give things a different name when they think they are different things. That you believe that this is just a ploy so Neiwert can accuse conservatives of being fascists does not make it true.

Rather than try and disentangle what you think was written from the actual content of what Neiwert wrote, let's start over. You said that Neiwert and Wretchard are 'almost exact mirror images of each other' If that is the case, please find the equivalent Neiwert quotes to these Wretchard quotes.

Iraq war illegal, says Annan Posted by wretchard to IowaHawk On News/Activism 09/15/2004 5:44:44 PM PDT · 26 of 53

The Left is ripping off the mask. It's becoming a straight powergrab, a straight gimme. The public good manners are going out the window. The culture wars were always a civil war, but restricted to cultural weapons. The scary thing about new developments like CBS and the UN is that the Left are casting away these weapons as inadequate ...

Revolts in Iraq Deepen Crisis In Occupation
Posted by wretchard to Texasforever
On News/Activism 04/18/2004 12:59:21 AM PDT · 6 of 16

It does talk about 6 year old girls dropping grenades from overpasses, of wide belief that hospitals were turning over wounded to US forces and blood-curdling oaths to kill all the Kurds when this is over. Some of that is probably exaggeration, but a lot of it is doubtless true. The Iraqis can regress to their default mode, their primitive mode, and they have done just that. The society seems to be fatally attracted to extremist and paranoid solutions. Possibly the only solution is to basically force stuff down their gullet, like one pushes medicine down a patient's throat in the fruit farm.

US tanks deploy in Baghdad as Shiite radicals take to streets
Posted by wretchard to lakewriter
On News/Activism 04/03/2004 3:35:29 PM PST · 46 of 109

They simply hate everybody. They are equal opportunity despisers. The Shi'ites hate the Sunnis and the Sunnis hate the Shi'ites. Both hate the Kurds. They bomb the Turks. Iraq and Iran warred on each other. Hamas hates Fatah and vice-versa. There's a Fatwa on Muslim preachers who cooperate with the West. The trouble is, most anybody can issue a Fatwa and you have mutual Fatwas.

They hate the Indians, Russians, Filipinos, Europeans despite all, Americans and most of all the Jews. They hate everyone, individually and personally. They hate those who hate them and hate those who love them. They hate those who surrender and those who resist. They hate, hate and hate. We shouldn't take it personally. I'm beginning to think that if you took the hate out of Islam you would find nothing at all.

Red, Blue and . . . So 17th Century
Posted by wretchard to rogueleader
On News/Activism 03/30/2004 5:15:20 PM PST · 7 of 12

It's a belated recognition by liberals that the conflict they have been waging on "reactionary" or "old fashioned" America has become mutual, hence the conflict has become undesirable. The bad word in civil war or 'war between red and blue nations' is 'between'. The article also recognizes that the reds have the demographic and long term advantages. Hence, it calls for dialogue, which is another word for hudna.

For this reason, America will not split up. Now that the Red nation has been pushing back, the liberals after a period of anger, will start becoming more civil. What they have achieved in the long term is a radicalization of ordinary folk against the process of slow cultural infiltration. The Liberals are losing and they can see it.

Posted by wretchard to Alouette
On News/Activism 08/27/2003 2:48:17 PM PDT · 7 of 20

This Nigerian case is a trailer of the movie coming to a theater near you: 'Sharia in America'. The movie has not yet beens scheduled for release, but is in the last stages of pre-production. Liberals are purchasing advance tickets in droves. Even though the final cut is not out yet, nearly every Leftist intellectual is breathlessly awaiting the release of this masterpiece. The final cut is said to include stonings, hand choppings, tramplings, decapitations, execution by burial, whipping and eye-gouging. One particularly zany scene shows a man facing the camera before his throat is slit, saying 'I am a Jew and my mother was a Jew'. "A film for the whole family", one Berkeley film critic said, after seeing the trailer with his same-sex partner.

The liberals are so smart.

Usama’s strategic reasons behind the attacks
Posted by wretchard to MHGinTN
On News/Activism 09/13/2003 12:50:21 AM PDT · 26 of 35

If one reads Walid's points carefully, it becomes evident that the current democrat party leadership has similar aims to Osama, as if the democrats are trying to accomplish from within what Osama's terrorist assault failed to accomplish.

The comparison fails on one point -- the democrats want an ongoing concern to take over. A taxpayer cash cow, if nothing else. In the end of course, the democrats will destroy America, but not before they have glutted themselves materially. Osama wished to be sated in blood. When you think about it, Osama was the more forthright kind of guy.

Flag is Divisive in post 9/11 World
Posted by wretchard to moodyskeptic
On News/Activism 11/09/2003 12:26:15 PM PST · 35 of 41

In many ways, the American flag is to the Left as garlic is to vampires. In both cases, as long as the offensive substance stays in the cupboard, they can walk among us in apparent normalcy. But when September 11 unleashed what the Left was at pains to deny existed, people suddenly started reaching for touchstones. Many said prayers they didn't even realize they still remembered. And many reached for the American flag.

The sight of the flag, waving in the clear breeze of morning, is a constant reminder to most of what we cherish. It is also a reminder to the Left of all that they secretly hate; and by negation of all that they secretly desire. No wonder that they cannot bear to see it.

Finally, I suggested that this was a defense of Katherine's work not because I felt her work needed a defense but to try and give you a decent motive as to why you are trafficking in innuendo yourself.I'm hitting the hay, and looking forward to those mirror image quotes when I wake up. O-yasumi

Liberal Japonicus, sometimes I honestly can't tell what you are arguing for or against. Is the passage you quote intended to contradict my interpretation? Because it doesn't even address my point--that from the very beginning of his series he plays that game that you dislike so much when Instapundit played it with Summers.

OK Sebastian, where have I commented on the Summers thing? $100 dollars to any charity you name if you can find me making one damn comment about Summers. If you want to link this to my discussion of Instapundit that I had with Gary, fine, but take the time to know what I was talking about rather than making crap up.

Were you responding to me? Did I mention Summers? Why yes I did. You have a lot [email protected]#@%#%ing nerve accusing me of making stuff up and misrepresenting people's point. Please read the following:

This exhibits Neiwart's favorite game: "right wing extremists". It is used in exactly the same was as "left-wing extremist" is used by Reynolds when he complains about nasty pseudo-Indian professors in Denver. You take an idea from the most extreme fringe and then generalize it via tenuous connection to 50% of the population.

That is what you were responding to. Did you read my comment?

You may now apologize to me, or you will never hear another response from me on any of your comments. I am done with you. I realize that isn't much of a threat, because it will be relieving not to have to deal with your incessant inability to comprehend basic textual communication.

Um, just for the record, the "nasty pseudo-Indian professor" is named Ward Churchill. Larry Summers is the President of Harvard. So if

This exhibits Neiwart's favorite game: "right wing extremists". It is used in exactly the same was as "left-wing extremist" is used by Reynolds when he complains about nasty pseudo-Indian professors in Denver. You take an idea from the most extreme fringe and then generalize it via tenuous connection to 50% of the population.

is supposed to refer to someone named "Summers," how in heck was LJ supposed to realize that? If you didn't know who you were talking about, how do you expect LJ to?

Aha, you caught me ranting inappropriately. For which I apologize.

So on that note, I should probably retreat in shame. But I'm an evil conservative so in response to LJ's other points:

I already have made the mirror quotes--before you even wrote. Neiwert suggests that the entire conservative movement is about will to power and explicitly compares it Nazism. He does that time and time again. He is calling me a neo-Nazi. He is calling my father a neo-Nazi. He is calling my sister a neo-Nazi.

And I apologize for going off on you--I just spent the last hour going through Neiwert's 'work' where he calls me (a member of the conservative movement) a pseudo-fascist about 50 times.

I can see why you don't like Wretchard's rhetoric--he is attacking you. I'm surprised you can't see the same in Neiwert. But here is an experiment. Find in that 7-part essay the places where he clearly discriminates between the non-pseudo-fascist modern conservative movement and the pseudo-fascist part. Point it out to me. The best I can find is a hint that at some time deep in the past there might have been a non-fascist conservative movement.

Sebastian,

I think that reading of Neiwert's essays as attacking *you*, your father, sister, etc is a defensive interpretation. I see much the same reaction from people on the left when it comes to communism and socalism. To me, Neiwert is clearly discussing an extreme fringe and how it has invaded the conservative movement, but NOT saying it IS the conservative movement. Thats a ver subtle disctinction which maybe Neiwert should do more to elucidate, but why not give him the benefit of the doubt, and email him personally with your concern? Point him to thisthread and invite his to respond to your reading. Any lefty with an ounce of sense will see from your posts that you're not a fanatic; I think if you approach Neiwert (who also posts at The American Street) rather approachable because of what I perceive as your essentially shared moderate natures.

Sebastian - do you really mean that you are a member of the conservative movement in the sense of "conservative movement" that Neiwart clearly explains at the opening of the piece?

When trying to make sense of the seemingly inextricable political morass into which we've descended, one of the real keys to understanding our situation is realizing that conservatism and the "conservative movement" are in fact two entirely different things.

Conservatism, like liberalism, is not a dogmatic philosophy, but rather a style of thought, an approach to politics or life in general. It stresses the status quo and traditional values, and is typified by a resistance to change. Likewise, liberalism is not relegated to a discrete "movement" but rather describes a general politics that comprises many disparate concerns.

The "conservative movement," however, is a decidedly dogmatic political movement that demands obeisance to its main tenets (and exiles those who dissent) and a distinctly defined agenda. Movement followers proudly announce their membership. (In contrast, there is no "liberal movement" worth speaking of -- just a hodgepodge of loosely associated interests.) Importantly enough, their raison d'etre has transformed from the extenuation of their "conservative" impulses into the Machiavellian acquisition of power, usually through any means necessary.

The presence of this discrete movement, in fact, is something that nearly everyone who follows the contours of the political landscape is well aware of...

My impression was that you were not.

As someone who's been following Neiwert for three or four years now, I have to say that while the language he uses is sometimes unnecessarily inflammatory, his dedication to definitions -- both their explication and his adherence to them -- is admirable. You absolutely cannot read his articles (or series of articles) inside-out; if you read them top-to-bottom, however, they're not prey to the various accusations that Sebastian et al have been making.

Aziz,

"To me, Neiwert is clearly discussing an extreme fringe and how it has invaded the conservative movement, but NOT saying it IS the conservative movement."

I don't think so. He suggests that the Wall Street Journal ought to be considered part of the pseudo-fascist conservative movement in his explanation. He suggests in his posts that the entire Christian right ought to be considered part of the pseudo-fascist conservative movement. He suggests that Iraq-war supporters are either part of or dupes of the pseudo-fascist conservative movement. He suggests that the leadership of the Republican Party are part of the pseudo-fascist conservative movement. He suggests that the beneficiaries of the Scaife, Bradley, Olin, Coors foundations are part of the pseudo-fascist conservative movement. He is absolutely not limiting himself to an "extreme fringe".

JerryN,

He distinguishes conservatism as an ideology from conservatism in practice. But his view of the practice is that it is pseudo-fascist. He does not limit himself to saying that fringe conservative movements are pseudo-fascist. He says that "the conservative movement" is pseduo-fascist. That term was not forced upon him. Since he includes almost every facet of political conservatism in "the conservative movement" your quoted passage does nothing to make me think he is not attacking me.

Sebastian - it's clear to me that Neiwert is not talking about conservatism in practice. He is specifically talking about "movement conservatives" and how they have 1) initially aligned with more extreme elements for tactical reasons, 2) allowed these fringe elements to gain prominence within the movement, and 3) that the result over time has been a shift in both substance and temperament in the movement. Perhaps his use of "conservative movement" is leading to some confusion. I'm pretty sure he means it in the same sense that AndrewSshi does in this post. Does this make any sense or are we just talking past each other?

"Btw, praktike's puerile name-calling at Steven den Beste is the most childish and frankly stupid comment I have seen in months."

You haven't been reading a lot of blogs, have you? In any case, I'm sorry about his health problem, but I still find his views and those of Wretchard's to be absurd.

"I'm pretty sure he means it in the same sense that AndrewSshi does in this post. Does this make any sense or are we just talking past each other?"

I'm pretty sure that they are not talking about the same thing at all.

In the first part of his pseudo-fascism he strongly suggests that includes almost the entire active Republican Party in his definition of the conservative movement.

I've quoted part of this already, but here I go again (bold is my empahsis of his words):

The "conservative movement," however, is a decidedly dogmatic political movement that demands obeisance to its main tenets (and exiles those who dissent) and a distinctly defined agenda. Movement followers proudly announce their membership. (In contrast, there is no "liberal movement" worth speaking of -- just a hodgepodge of loosely associated interests.) Importantly enough, their raison d'etre has transformed from the extenuation of their "conservative" impulses into the Machiavellian acquisition of power, usually through any means necessary.

The presence of this discrete movement, in fact, is something that nearly everyone who follows the contours of the political landscape is well aware of. Recall, for instance, the recent New York Times piece outlining the work of a fellow named Rob Stein, who has carefully examined the structure of the movement and its effectiveness:

The presentation itself, a collection of about 40 slides titled "The Conservative Message Machine's Money Matrix," essentially makes the case that a handful of families -- Scaife, Bradley, Olin, Coors and others -- laid the foundation for a $300 million network of policy centers, advocacy groups and media outlets that now wield great influence over the national agenda. The network, as Stein diagrams it, includes scores of powerful organizations -- most of them with bland names like the State Policy Network and the Leadership Institute -- that he says train young leaders and lawmakers and promote policy ideas on the national and local level. These groups are, in turn, linked to a massive message apparatus, into which Stein lumps everything from Fox News and the Wall Street Journal op-ed page to Pat Robertson's "700 Club." And all of this, he contends, is underwritten by some 200 "anchor donors." "This is perhaps the most potent, independent institutionalized apparatus ever assembled in a democracy to promote one belief system," he said.

In this passage, Neiwart says that "the conservative movement" as he defines it includes everything from the 700 Club, to Fox News, to the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, and to the beneficiaries of the named trusts. That covers a huge amount of ground. It implicates all the National Review conservatives, all the Heritage Foundation conservatives, potentially Reason conservative/libertarians and many others. This is not just extremists. Later on in the essay he directly suggests that nearly all of the leadership of the Republican Party counts as "the conservative movement" for purposes of the essay.

If we want to talk about nasty extremist elements of either party, or even just one, fine. But talking about essentially the entire intellectual and political system of American conservatism as pseudo-fascistic is just a smear game. And that is the game Neiwert is playing.

Sebastian - we are just talking past each other. I think that I'll just let this one drop, if you don't mind.

Ok, but I don't understand in what sense we are talking past each other. You suggest that Neiwert is talking about a fairly limited subset of conservatives when he uses the term "conservative movement". His own words suggest that he talking about almost every single public conservative in America and then accusing them of being pseudo-fascists. We aren't talking past each other at all. We are disagreeing about a specific issue--the number of people in and the specifications of "the conservative movement" as used in Neiwert's charge of pseudo-fascism. I quoted him. I don't know what more you would want as evidence for what he thinks of us the conservative movement. If you believe I have misquoted, or selectively quoted, just show me where you think he limits the above.

My take on it is that Neiwert is describing the influence and behavior of the groups that he believes have risen to prominence within the "movement". These folks have come to dominate the message that is put forth both through the media and the, for lack of a better term, water coolers and barstools. Where you and I probably disagree is his notion of the extent to which these groups (as represented by the advocacy groups that are dominant voices within the Republican Party apparatus) are now indistinguishable from the larger "conservative movement".

Where you and I probably disagree is his notion of the extent to which these groups (as represented by the advocacy groups that are dominant voices within the Republican Party apparatus) are now indistinguishable from the larger "conservative movement".

I don't know what he thinks, I only know what he writes. When he writes "the conservative movement" he uses a specific definition which includes almost everything anyone would include in the phrase "the conservative movement" if they were using it without a precisely delimited definition. He then applies to all of those people (which certainly includes me and my whole family) the label pseudo-fascist--a term which is not at all far from 'traitor' which people on the left are so worried about being labeled in terms of negative connotations. His use of the limitation 'pseudo' is limited only by the fact that we are not YET a dictatorship and not YET using violence to crush our political opponents. Note he does not merely say that I am not aiming for a dictatorship or do not desire to use violence against my political opponents, he says that I do not yet have a dictatorship and do not yet use violence against my opponents.

The insinuations in that alone are as serious as what Wretchard says.

OK, I just did a quick scan of all of the series to refresh my memory and, to me, Neiwert is clearly talking about the influence of the leadership of the current Republican Party and many of the prominent voices on the right in the media. If you and your family are part of that group, then you should take it personally. But, and this is where I feel that he differs from Wretchard, I don't see him painting the entire right with that brush. Perhaps I'm misreading, perhaps the distinction is unimportant, but I don't think so.

Well, I guess I get to keep my $100. Some people who have a bit more distance on this than I do have answered your points better than I could have. For my part, I will realize anytime I use the word conservative, no matter how carefully I attempt to define it, you will take it to mean that I am talking about directly about you and your family's personal beliefs. Thanks for the warning.

"For my part, I will realize anytime I use the word conservative, no matter how carefully I attempt to define it, you will take it to mean that I am talking about directly about you and your family's personal beliefs."

No, if you attempt to define it as practically all conservatives, as does Neiwert, I will take it personally. Just as many on this board take attacks on 'the left' personally.

"Neiwert is clearly talking about the influence of the leadership of the current Republican Party and many of the prominent voices on the right in the media."

Neiwert is talking about leadership and prominent voices no more than Wretchard is.

I would first like to note that earlier in this discussion I was assured that Neiwert was only talking about fringe groups.

You can argue that they both are talking about all of the left or right. You can argue that they are both talking about the fringe groups. You can argue they they are both talking about the leadership. But they are doing the same thing with the same type of free-form evidence so saying that one of them is doing a bad rhetorical thing while the other one is doing a good rhetorical thing doesn't make sense. I suspect that both are doing bad rhetorical things, but that both have interesting information from time to time because their bad thinking causes them to seek out information that wouldn't normally come to light from other people.

But make no mistake, I am implicated in Neiwert's rhetoric every bit as much as Hilzoy is in Wretchards. That can be bad or good or neutral. But it is.

Fine. You're reading is correct in your mind. Mine is correct in my mind. And we are where we were several iterations back. I'm done. Peace out.

Oh no! Not a relativist! :)

JerryN & LJ,

Strictly speaking, you're both correct -- Niewert is attacking the conservative leadership, punditry, etc. But to see where Sebastian is coming from, try turning the tables for a second: imagine that someone was labelling CBS News, the NYT editorial board, MoveOn.org, the Democratic leadership, etc. as "pseudo-communists" and raising the specter of a nascent red menace. Wouldn't you get the sense that s/he wasessentially accusing all liberals of being communists, since s/he basically covered every public representative of liberal thought?

Seb
Please be aware that while the first quote is mine, the second quote is not. And eventhough I can agree with a lot of what Jerry and others have said, I do not assure people of the meaning of what other people wrote. I can only assure them as to how I understand it, and that is what I have done. As aziz suggested and as Slarti often counsels, if you have a beef with what Neiwert wrote, please go over to his blog or to American Street and take it up with him.

kenB
If that had been the observation, I would like to think that I would have had no problem with that. If Sebastian had written "I'm not sure why Wretchard is attacked, but Neiwert is cited approvingly as I think he falls prey to the same problem" and left it at that, I don't think I would have said anything. If he had left it at "Neiwart plays the 7 degrees of Kevin Bacon game and links everything remotely conservative into a huge conspiratorial 'network'," I might have said that I disagree, and we may or may not have had a conversation about what Neiwart's linkages "mean". But to say "He demonizes almost every possible conservative as a neo-fascist. I can't find the quote now (it was from a post about two years ago) where he goes on and on about some local political corruption proving that conservatives were fascists who are taking over the south, but a little independent research reveals that all the actors he was talking about were Democrats," bereft of proof is wrong, IMHO and I tried to gently point that out in the first part of my first post.

I do (and this is not snark) understand Seb's comments a bit more now that I realize that he feels that Niewert is attacking him and his family. Given that my father I am the product of a mixed marriage and I was raised and my family still lives in a real real red state, I really can't imagine I would take someone attacking CBS, the NYTimes, the Dem leadership et al as a liberal conspiracy as attacking my family.

kenB - to echo LJ's comment, I really can't see it in the terms you present. To me, there is a qualitative difference between blanket statements about "the left" or "the right" and statements that are directed at the groups and individuals that actually hold power (political, media and otherwise). Again, this is only my take, but I thought Neiwart was pretty careful to avoid applying the broad brush or to provide some evidence for those times when he was more expansive. I also know that Sebastion does not agree with that characterization. As LJ said, it would be best for him to take it up with DN directly.

I was just looking to see if anything else had appeared, and I just noticed that in Seb's 1:19 had an apology that I missed, and so my 6:12 reply was overly harsh. I'm sorry I missed that and I wouldn't have been so snarky had I caught that.

This is not the example I was thinking of, but it provides a good example of the fact that when Democrats are nasty, Neiwert is perfectly willing weave them into the conspiracy theory as if they were Republicans. Here he turns some nasty comments by a Democrat into evidence that his pseudo-fascists 'transmit' their ideas to the Republican Party:

"Hitler was more moral than Clinton," intoned the nice-looking, dark-haired man in the three-piece suit. "He had fewer girlfriends."

The audience laughed and applauded, loudly.

A remark like that might hardly have raised an eyebrow in post-Monica America, particularly in the meeting-halls of mainstream conservatism, where it often seemed, by the end of Bill Clinton's tenure in the White House, that no hyperbole is too overblown in the campaign to depose him -- mostly, it seems, by convincing the rest of us that he was too grossly immoral to continue to hold the presidency.

As the scandal wore on, the volume, intensity and downright nastiness of his critics reached impressive levels. It wasn't unusual to hear of congressmen calling him a "scumbag" and a "cancer on the presidency," or for mainstream conservative commentary to refer to him, as Orlando Sentinel columnist Charley Reese did at one point, as "a sociopath, a liar, a sexual predator, a man with recklessly bad judgment and a scofflaw." Even right-wing scribe Andrew Sullivan played the armchair psychologist on national television, describing Clinton as "sociopathic."

But the scene above took place four years before Monica, in 1994, long before Clinton handed his enemies a scandal on a platter that seemingly made such references acceptable. It was not at a Republican caucus or Christian Coalition meeting, but at a gathering of right-wing "Patriots" who had come to hear about forming militias and common-law courts and defending their gun rights -- indeed, their families -- from the New World Order. They numbered only a hundred or so and only half-filled the little convention hall in Bellevue, Washington, but their fervor saturated the room with its own paranoid energy.

And the speaker, who could have passed even then for a local Republican public official -- actually, he was nominally a Democrat -- in fact was one of the nation's leading Patriot figures: Richard Mack, then sheriff of Arizona's mostly rural Graham County. As a leader in the fight against gun control (his lawsuit eventually led to the Supreme Court overturning a section of the so-called Brady Law), Mack was in high demand on the right-wing lecture circuit as he promoted the militia concept to his eager acolytes. He usually sprinkles his "constitutional" gun-rights thesis with his theories on church-state separation -- it’s a "myth," he claims -- and "the New World Order conspiracy."

Seb,
Please don't take this personally, but I would ask you to consider that Neiwert, because he is (I hope we can agree) writing to an audience of liberals, is using this out of the possible universe of examples to suggest that this is not simply a Republican problem. I think it points to the problematic aspects of 'agrarian' politicians, a thread in US history that incorporates both nativism and progressivism, but setting that aside, don't you think that the possibility is to have the reader say 'damn republicans, damn republicans, damn, hey, that early? and a nominal Democrat? Geez, maybe this isn't simply a question of partisanship. I better keep reading'

In fact, my reading is that the entire point seems to separate this group from Republicans and part of what you quote is (with my emphasis):

But the scene above took place four years before Monica, in 1994, long before Clinton handed his enemies a scandal on a platter that seemingly made such references acceptable. It was not at a Republican caucus or Christian Coalition meeting, but at a gathering of right-wing "Patriots" who had come to hear about forming militias and common-law courts and defending their gun rights -- indeed, their families -- from the New World Order.

I think (hope?) we can agree that the whole Clinton-Monica affair did no honor to either side, and Neiwert specifically notes that.

Furthermore, N specifically cites Chip Berlet's model of the American right, which spcifically separates the secular conservative right, the theocratic right, and the xenophobic right. I don't know how much clearer he can be.

This caught my eye:

Mack's Clinton-bashing was mostly a gratuitous nod to one of the Patriot movement's favorite themes: an almost pathological hatred of the former occupants of the Oval Office, manifested as a willingness to believe almost any slander directed at "Billary," as they like to refer to the Clintons.

Again, you would have to go the Neiwert, but I read 'occupants' to be not simply the Clintons, but anyone who is president. In fact, Bush 1 came in for a lot of flak because of his CIA and UN ambassadorship, IIRC, but this was before the Internet.

I am not asking you to agree with me, I am just asking you to consider this possible reading. And take it up with him. As Aziz said, you may find that you share a essentially moderate nature.

Your reading of the passage as trying to warn people that even Democrats can be fascistic is not well supported in the text. My comments are in square brackets for the quoted text. And considering the huge level of anti-Repbulican snark on the site I don't think I'm being over the top. I'm not a big fan of the fisking format, but it appears we need to go through this line by line:

"Hitler was more moral than Clinton," intoned the nice-looking, dark-haired man in the three-piece suit. "He had fewer girlfriends."

The audience laughed and applauded, loudly.

A remark like that might hardly have raised an eyebrow in post-Monica America, particularly in the meeting-halls of mainstream conservatism, where it often seemed, by the end of Bill Clinton's tenure in the White House, that no hyperbole is too overblown in the campaign to depose him -- mostly, it seems, by convincing the rest of us that he was too grossly immoral to continue to hold the presidency. [Nope that isn't true at all. In the meeting halls of mainstream conservatism, which I am well familiar with, many jokes about Clinton won't raise an eyebrow, but comparing him to Hitler definitely would. This is classic Neiwert technique: take something true (that lots of Republicans REALLY disliked Clinton and thought he was immoral and then exaggerate it by taking an extremist and suggesting that the extremist position is mainstream.]

As the scandal wore on, the volume, intensity and downright nastiness of his critics reached impressive levels. It wasn't unusual to hear of congressmen calling him a "scumbag" and a "cancer on the presidency," or for mainstream conservative commentary to refer to him, as Orlando Sentinel columnist Charley Reese did at one point, as "a sociopath, a liar, a sexual predator, a man with recklessly bad judgment and a scofflaw." Even right-wing scribe Andrew Sullivan played the armchair psychologist on national television, describing Clinton as "sociopathic." [Note that these aren't in the same league as comparing Clinton to Hitler. But you only note that if I point it out. If you just go with the flow you are nodding with Neiwert that of course this is all essentially the same thing. Note also that we are talking about Repbulicans]

But the scene above took place four years before Monica, in 1994, long before Clinton handed his enemies a scandal on a platter that seemingly made such references acceptable. [Once again conflating the Hitler comment with other serious expressions of disgust]It was not at a Republican caucus or Christian Coalition meeting, but at a gathering of right-wing "Patriots" who had come to hear about forming militias and common-law courts and defending their gun rights -- indeed, their families -- from the New World Order. They numbered only a hundred or so and only half-filled the little convention hall in Bellevue, Washington, but their fervor saturated the room with its own paranoid energy.[If you don't know where Neiwert is going with this, Liberal Japonicus' hypothesis might seem plausible for just this moment. Of course you have to ignore the "right-wing" part. But Neiwert's thesis is that his pseudo-fascists 'transmit' their evil ideas into the Repbulican mainstream. So saying that it isn't at a Republican caucus is read with an implied "yet". There is also the insinuation that dislike of Clinton started in the fascist cliques coupled with the really odd unstated assumption that if there wasn't some sort of 'transmission' from fascist groups there wouldn't have been so much Clinton dislike if this transmission weren't regularly taking place. It is almost ridiculous on the face when plainly stated, but this transmission which he is allegedly illustrating forms the cornerstone of the next 4 or 5 posts in this series.]

And the speaker, who could have passed even then for a local Republican public official -- actually, he was nominally a Democrat -- in fact was one of the nation's leading Patriot figures: Richard Mack, then sheriff of Arizona's mostly rural Graham County. [This isn't even close to Liberal Japonicus' hypothesis. '...could have bassed even then' means that even back then he had those evil Republican characteristics I complain about above. 'Nominally a Democrat' literally suggests "in name only" and when paired with the previous clause emphasizes the fact that this is not a real Democrat, but rather one of the evil Republicans disguised as a Democrat.]

So a Democrat is used to prove that fascism spreads to the Republican Party. It isn't an indictment of Democrats at all.

My reading is much truer to Neiwert's text than yours.

Uh, Sebastian? Do you recall the term "Hitlery"? I heard that, and others of its ilk, throughout the "meeting halls of conservativism" early in Clinton's Presidency*; comparing the Clintons to Hitler was commonplace throughout Orange County in 1992-93 -- at the time the most Republican county in the nation, as they'd proudly tell you, and generally considered to be the archetypal "mainstream Republican" stronghold -- and I assume it was still done thereafter, although I can't attest to that personally.

I'm not sure if you just tread in more civilized climes than I did, but Neiwert's description is bang on the money IME.

* I think the motif went back to the middle of the campaign, but I must confess I don't recall the exact moment when I first heard it.

Nope that isn't true at all. In the meeting halls of mainstream conservatism, which I am well familiar with, many jokes about Clinton won't raise an eyebrow, but comparing him to Hitler definitely would

I am going to assume, out of charity, that you make that statement out of ignorance rather than malevolence. A quick google search on "clinton hitler" reveals the following information:

Under the category "Some Comparisons Between Adolf Hitler and Bill Clinton" we find that:

Hitler never had a steady job until he got into government. Clinton
never had a steady job until he got into government.
Hitler was a chronic, polished liar. Clinton is a chronic, polished liar.
Hitler was highly intelligent. Clinton is highly intelligent.
Hitler often had temper tantrums. Clinton often has temper tantrums.
Hitler was often on drugs. Clinton has often used drugs.
Hitler deceived millions of people through his propaganda. Clinton has deceived
millions of people through his propaganda.
Hitler had fanatical followers. Clinton has fanatical followers.

And so on.

We find that:

Meanwhile the Clinton Administration, like all leftist regimes,
floats serenely upon the ocean of blood it's spilled in order to take and keep
power

We find that:

A New York Post survey of readers sampling nearly 20,000 people
ranks Bill Clinton second to Adolf Hitler as the most evil person of the
millennium.

We find that:

We are not sure Arnold Schwarzenegger admired Adolph Hitler. If he
did, he would share something with Bill Clinton.

The Clintons' anti-Semitism is now well known.

Those were taken from the first 4 links in the 598,000 links returned. Do the search yourself. I apologize if I don't have time to examine all 598,000 documents. Perhaps you would like to take the time to do so before you post such nonsense in the future. Again, I will take the most charitable stance possible and ascribe your post to mere ignorance, Sebastian. But some of us remember the Clinton years. We remember the hate that you wish to ignore.

felix, note the
"In the meeting halls of mainstream conservatism".

felix, note the
"In the meeting halls of mainstream conservatism".

598,000 results returned.

No further questions.

Ohh. Google Bush Hitler and you get almost a million and a half hits. So I guess the left is full of Communists, right?

I would avoid addressing the issue too if I were you, Sebastian. You said something stupid. Own up to it, deny it, the "you too" defense. Whatever.

You want to google the Earth is Flat and tell me that is a mainstream idea? You want to engage my argument? I doubt it.

Yo, felix, I suspect SH is wrong about Neiwert, and I would be somewhat surprised if there are no counterexamples to his meeting halls claim (clearly based on reasonable personal experience) out there, but you've done nothing like showing what you assert you have shown.

According to google: "Results 1 - 10 of about 4,290,000 for flat earth" Probably half are just the two words close to each other. Still more than your Clinton Hitler thing. Nice try. Care to engage the intellect or is yours unavailable?

SH, understand you're annoyed, but you made your point clearly at 3:28...

Care to engage the intellect or is yours unavailable?

Wow. That insult is surely the shocker that will lead me to turn my life around and become a devout Republican. Thanks.

Now, in all seriousness, you are trying to pretend hatred of Clinton, to the point of comparing Clinton to Hitler, is a non-mainstream position. Sadly, the record does not support your assertions. Insulting me will not change that, though it will, admittedly, keep me amused. Keep working on the "Communists" angle, I get a kick out of that.

In the meantime, we will note that you have expressed no disapproval of those who I mentioned that compared Clinton to Hitler. And if you do, I've got 597,996 posts to work on.

Sadly, the record does not support your assertions.

Could you please actually prove this statement instead of merely alleging proof-by-Google-bomb? I mean, I think you're correct and Sebastian isn't -- viz. my 3:03am comment -- but you've done a remarkably poor job of demonstrating that fact.

Felixrayman and Anarch, Neiwert's claim is not that somewhere you can find some crazy people who are willing to equate Clinton to Hitler. I am aware of the existance of Ann Coulter. His claim is: "A remark like that might hardly have raised an eyebrow in post-Monica America, particularly in the meeting-halls of mainstream conservatism, where it often seemed, by the end of Bill Clinton's tenure in the White House, that no hyperbole is too overblown in the campaign to depose him."

That claim is false. I am quite certain I am better acquainted with the meeting-halls of mainstream conservatism than you are. Not raised an eyebrow my ass. I've attended meetings where less was said and the speaker was called out on it. You are merely reinforcing my point--that Neiwert engages in wholesale exaggeration while trying to pass off extremist statements as mainstream.

This is EXACTLY what you all were complaining about with the Churchill debate. And you are now playing the part of Instapundit. I guess you don't like him because he knows your tricks?

I am quite certain I am better acquainted with the meeting-halls of mainstream conservatism than you are.

I am not disputing that. I am, however, saying that I am not unacquainted with said meeting-halls; and that, in my experience, such remarks were commonplace. Should you wish to dispute this, please do so on the basis of what I actually say.

[FWIW, I suspect we're about to go through round 2 of the great "What is 'mainstream' conservativism, anyway?", which will likely consist of some variation on theme of "Well, *I'm* mainstream" in either the key of liberal or conservative major.]

PS: I'm glad you're aware of the existence of Ann Coulter, I guess, but are you also aware about her frequent appearances in the media? It's somewhat hard to label her an "extremist" (as opposed to "mainstream") given her wretched ubiquity.

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