Posts Tagged ‘politics of fear’

I have here in my hand…

September 29, 2009

This cartoon by Herblock (Herbert Lawrence Block) is from the 2000 Library of Congress exhibit and appeared in the May 7, 1954 Washington Post.

Dendron resident Thomas Byrd waved a petition before Town Council September 14, saying he had 190 supporters for the plant, according to Smithfield Times‘s Jim Tuttle (email) reports in his September 16 story “Dendron to send project to county planners.

Dendron Councilwoman Misti Furr tells me that she has never seen Byrd’s petition up close (see also this post regarding the proposed plant and Byrd’s petition.) That had me thinking of ol’ Joe McCarthy and the list he waved February 9, 1950 at a Lincoln’s birthday address to the Women’s Republican Club of Wheeling, West Virginia According to the U.S. Senate’s site, he said,

While I cannot take the time to name all the men in the State Department who have been named as members of the Communist Party and members of a spy ring, I have here in my hand a list of 205.

But as Robert Griffith (email), now the chairman of the History Department at American University wrote in In The Politics of Fear: Joseph R. McCarthy and the Senate (2d ed., 1987),

McCarthy, of course, had no list at all.

Griffith explains, that McCarthy might have been extrapolation from a a letter from Secretary of State James F. Byrnes to Congressman Adolph J. Sabath of Illinois, dated July 26, 1946, which had appeared in the Congressoinal Record (page 50)

…a preliminary screening of some 3,000 federal employees…had resulted in recommendations against the permanent employment of 285. Of these 285, the employment of 79 had already been terminated as of July 1946; 285 minus 79 leaves–if your arithmetic and logic ar enone too scrupulous–2005 “communists in the State Department.

The next day, enroute to Salt Lake City for a second speaking engagement McCarthy changed planes in Denver where

he was surrounded by reporters clamoring for the list of “Communists” in the State Department. He offered to show them the list, but then “discovered he had left it inhis baggage on the plane.” there was an engaging picture of the senator peering into his briefcase for the elusive list [in the Denver Post of February 11, 1950.]

Mr. Byrd’s list–of those he claims as supporters, rather than enemies–also is not readily available for inspection. And no reporter has even reported asking for it.


I grew up reading the WaPo, so Herblock was my hometown cartoonist. His last cartoon appeared on August 26, 2001 and he died on October 7 of that year. I still miss him. I’ve got to wonder what Herblock would have drawn about 9-11 and the subsequent attack on civil liberties, on the shrill attacks we hear now of socialism and worse being attributed to Mr. Obama who is nothing of the sort–although his critics to the left of the political spectrum might wish he were.

I’d love to see what he do with health care reform, which continues to flounder–the Senate Finance Committee deleting the public option. Nick Anderson’s (email, blog, bio) 8/11/09 cartoon “Bipartisanship” for the Houston Chronicle foreshadowed the latest on money, politics and healthcare from Open Secrets today.

With Herblock gone, I’d argue we can still get an idea of what he might have done by looking at Anderson’s 9-11 gallery. Anderson started at the Chronicle February 13, 2006, after starting his career at Louisville Courier-Journal 1991. He won the Pulitzer in 2005. for instance here’s one from November 23, 2001:

Anderson’s philosophy according to his bio:

An editorial cartoonist, fundamentally, should be anti-establishment. No matter which party is running the government, it is the essence of satire to question authority.

Herblock would be proud.


Latest wingnuttery: Green for All logo is secret community iconography

September 6, 2009

Logo from the website Green for All, an Oakland-based non-profit started by Van Jones to press for environmental quality, justice and economic opportunity.

In the wackiest thing yet, stumbled on this comment at under research “Photo: Van Jones makes a Salute.” (Look it up, I’ll not bolster the Technorati score). Complete with a slew of supporting illustrations, “Ace, an administrator there, describes the above logo as

very creepy, are the miscellaneous Communist symbols seen elsewhere

Kind of reminds me of the supposed connection between Proctor and Gamble and the Church of Satan.

So, did J. Edgar Hoover or Joe McCarthy rise from the grave? No, it’s shock jock Glen Beck, who’s very much still with us, Besides his television show on Fox, his radio program and his website, Beck has 118,277 followers on Twitter. On July 24, Beck tweeted this message to what he calls his Watch Dogs:

We are transforming as a nation. It is about Race, Social Justice, Control through czars etc, class warfare & global governance.Stand&speak

The Color of Change, of which Jones was a co-founder, had complained about Beck’s statement :

This president has exposed himself as a guy over and over and over again who has a deep-seated hatred for white people … this guy is, I believe, a racist.

The group wrote,

Beck is on a campaign to convince the American public that President Obama’s agenda is about serving the needs of Black communities at White people’s expense. It’s repulsive, divisive and shouldn’t be on the air.

So Beck put out a contract on Jones’s head, seemingly in retaliation for the Color of Change campaign to persuade advertisers to drop Beck’s show. And Van Jones, absent any support from Obama, announced his resignation today. That’s right, the only visible member of the administration to say Appalachian needed something new, not mtr.

Back on March 10, 2009, the Obama White House was happy enough to align itself with Van Jones, calling him “an early green jobs visionary” and appointing him as Special Adviser for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation at the White House Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ).

Van Jones has been a strong voice for green jobs and we look forward to having him work with departments and agencies to advance the President’s agenda of creating 21st century jobs that improve energy efficiency and utilize renewable resources. Jones will also help to shape and advance the Administration’s energy and climate initiatives with a specific interest in improvements and opportunities for vulnerable communities.

Jones is the founder of Green For All, an organization focused on creating green jobs in impoverished areas. He is also the co-founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Color of Change, and was the author of the 2008 New York Times best-seller, The Green Collar Economy.

Now, however, they have thrown him under the bus. As Jane Hamsher noted in “Van Jones: A Moment of Truth For Liberal Institutions in the Veal Pen.”

If you can’t get it together to at least put out a statement of support for Van Jones and condemn the White House for using him as a sacrificial lamb to right wing extremists that will devour us all if left unchecked, it’s time to add “proudly liberal only when it doesn’t matter” to your logo and be done with it.

This kind of reminds me of when President Bill Clinton didn’t stand by Lani Guinier …And yet, it’s okay for Obama’s chief speechwriter Jon Favreau to drunkenly grope a cardboard cutout of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to “forget” his taxes.

If anything, Obama can be accused of the the opposite of Beck’s claims: the President seems willing to kowtow at the expense of the disenfranchised. Van Jones, when asked why Republicans were more effective when they held the Congress, infamously said

The answer to that is: They’re assholes. That’s a technical political science term. And Barack Obama’s not an asshole. I will say this, I can be an asshole. And some of us who are not Barack Hussein Obama are gonna have to start getting a little bit uppity.

Who Profits from Fear?

September 11, 2007

The Political Compass and U.S. Presidential Politics: Was tagging old entries this evening and looking up current versions of sites I had liked. This is an update from Political Compass. I had taken the test in 2006 and landed near the center, a bit left libertarian, the quadrant for Nelson Mandela and Gandhi , or Mozart, all of whom I regard as fine and admirable company. As the authors explain,

If we recognise that this is essentially an economic line it’s fine, as far as it goes. We can show, for example, Stalin, Mao Tse Tung and Pol Pot, with their commitment to a totally controlled economy, on the hard left. Socialists like Mahatma Gandhi and Robert Mugabe would occupy a less extreme leftist position. Margaret Thatcher would be well over to the right, but further right still would be someone like that ultimate free marketeer, General Pinochet.

the social dimension is also important in politics. That’s the one that the mere left-right scale doesn’t adequately address. So we’ve added one, ranging in positions from extreme authoritarian to extreme libertarian.

Just to show the state of American politics, I’m left of any of the presidential candidates except Kucinich and Gravel, neither of whom would be my choice for this office. The skewing brings to my mind that quote about the American eagle needing both left and right wings to fly. Mario Savio attributes it to Jessee Jackson. Or there’s the Pat Paulsen version:

Assuming either the Left Wing or the Right Wing gained control of the country, it would probably fly around in circles.

In looking at particular candidates, I’m interested how tight a cluster there is for the Democratic Party candidates (again, other than Kucinich and Gravel.) And that Edwards and Clinton are the most libertarian. Also that Ron Paul, who considers himself the libertarian falls above the dividing line. Contrast his placement with that of a conservative libertarian, Milton Friedman, on this chart:
An aside about Paulsen: according to his memorial he came in second in the 1996 New Hampshire Presidential Primary (makes me wonder how Colbert would have done if SC Dems had let him on the ticket.) And although I did not find the context for the above quotation, I found a site which includes his political editorials, as well as a now dead link I’ve revived thanks to the Internet Archive to Paulsen’s quite serious answers to the 1996 Presidential Primary Natioinal Political Awareness Test from Project Vote Smart.

Since it’s 9-11, I’ll provide some content devoted to terror: How’s this for Keystone Kops? NYC will deter nuclear attack with concentric circles of Geiger counters according to the New York Times today in “Suburban Police Enlisted to Help Protect the City” by Corey Kilgannon. Don’t you feel safer now?

The counters didn’t work so well in the latest dirty bomb scare. According to “MTA didn’t tell us of dirty bomb scare: officers,” by Alison Gendar in the NY Daily News on September 10, one officer who works at the Verrazano Bridge complained,

They’ll give us two weeks of training for how to collect tolls, making sure we charge a three-axle truck more than a two-axle, but no field training on what a bomb might look like, how to stop cars or use this radiation detector.

Meanwhile, besides Geiger counters, LA is spending its homeland security money on robots and portable media hubs, according to Richard Winton in the September 9 LA Times.

I guess it all comes down to fear being a great motivator for letting loose the purse strings.

And speaking of fear: John Judis (email) had an interesting piece in the the New Republic August 17 explaining why West Virginia supported Bush. In “How Political Psychology Explains Bush’s Ghastly Success. Death Grip” (referred to here), he writes about research since the early 1980s by Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg, and Tom Pyszczynski (interview, article, research), who developed “terror management theory.”

Their experiments showed that the mere thought of one’s mortality can trigger a range of emotions–from disdain for other races, religions, and nations, to a preference for charismatic over pragmatic leaders, to a heightened attraction to traditional mores.

It seems that this tendency could be counteracted, if folks were asked to think as rationally as possible. (Not something the current administration espouses.)

On the poetry front: again, with regard to 9-11, Tillie wrote me to say he’d mentioned my poem, “Windows on the World” on his blog entry today.

Other mention on the net:

  • Coal: a poetry anthology and my poem in particular, got mentioned in this online review by West Virginia storyteller Susanna Holstein.

My journalism on Memeorandum: Just found out that my August 22, 2007 post at WV Blue, “Suit by West Virginia Protesters Reveals Bush Tactics,” got a link from The topic is the 2002 Bush advance manual for handling dissent. For those of you who haven’t seen Memeorandum, it aggregates political news around memes.