Friday, January 14, 2011

Jared and Adolf: Just a couple of lefties

Although this post appears about five days later than intended, the points raised here remain pertinent.

Jared Lee Loughner is the would-be assassin of a Democratic politician. He is a paranoid plot-spotter who spent a great deal of time blathering on about the gold standard, controlled demolition, NASA fakery and the use of "grammar" to control minds. These are all far-right conspiracy memes, familiar to students of American extremism. Anyone who pretends otherwise is disingenuous.

Nevertheless, in the aftermath of the Tucson shooting spree, the right wing media infrastructure quickly repackaged Jared Lee Loughner as a "leftist."
"The hard left is going to try and silence the Tea Party movement by blaming us for this," Tea Party Nation founder Judson Phillips wrote. "The left is coming and will hit us hard on this. We need to push back harder with the simple truth. The shooter was a liberal lunatic. Emphasis on both words."
This sentiment was not confined to a single nutjob -- it became the party line of the day throughout right-wingerland. From the New American:
Far from being a tool of the right, it appears as if Jared Loughner, the notorious mass murderer who killed six persons last week in Arizona, was schooled in a program hatched by that American terrorist par excellence, Bill Ayers. World Net Daily reports that Loughner was a student in one of Ayers' radical education projects. And the man who ran the program, WND adds, is "a former top communist activist who is an associate of Ayers."
Turns out, however, he went to a high school associated with radicals and communists — most notably, Ayers. The school program to which the high school was attached was funded by the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, whose chairman at the time was Barack Obama...
And so on. This has to be the loopiest conspiracy theory I've heard all month. Even someone as nutty as Jared Lee Loughner might have a hard time believing that Barack Obama somehow managed to turn Arizona high schools into communist training grounds.

Here's that ever-reliable propagandist for psychopathology, Jerome Corsi:
Jared Loughner, the alleged Arizona assassin, may have been inspired by the radical leftist punk-rock band Anti-Flag, one of his favorite bands, according to a schoolmate who posted on her reminiscences about her association with Loughner.
By this logic, I must be an anti-Semite because I listen to Wagner. I must also be a neurotic Jew because I listen to Mahler.

Now looky here:
Despite this headline, the contributors to the above-linked blog seem impressed by Loughner's marksmanship. I'm reminded of R. Lee Ermey's memorable line about Oswald in Full Metal Jacket.

Check this out:
The evidence that assassin was on the left of the political spectrum continue to pile up. Friends, political ideology, religious beliefs, favorite books and activities already proved this lunatic was a progressive-liberal. Now comes word that Loughner was anti-Bush and a 9/11 Truther.

Hardly a Palin follower or Tea Party member, wouldn’t ya say?
Actually, I would say.

The "bombs in the buildings" mythos originated with Holocaust deniers and conspiracy buffs who came out of the far right John Birch/Milton William Cooper tradition. Circa 2005, the meme began to infect the left, forcing the more intelligent progs to staunch the spread of the virus. When the moderators at Daily Kos and Democratic Underground put a lid on "CD" posts, infuriated conspiracists derided the "liberal gatekeepers."

One of the key conspiracists pushing that "CD" nonsense is Alex Jones, the famed blowhard from Texas who is no-one's idea of a progressive. Jones originally stumped for the Tea Party, although he now believes that Sarah Palin has betrayed the movement. While it is true that the split between Jones and Palin exemplifies a larger rupture within the conservative movement, let's not pretend that there are liberals standing on either side of that line.

"Truther" Jones also supported the ultra-conservative teabagger candidate Debrah Medina in the Texas race for governor. Medina, you may recall, famously came apart on Glenn Beck's program because she wouldn't distance herself from the theorists who believe in a controlled demolition of the twin towers.

In fact, the tea party movement is hopelessly intertwined with the so-called "truth movement" and other strains of reactionary American conspiracism. See here. Also see here:
Tea Party Patriots for 9/11 Truth are a diverse group of non partisan supporters of the constitutional liberty and free enterprise message espoused by liberty candidates such as Ron Paul during the 2008 presidential elections.
Many of our members joined us after taking Constitution Classes with the Institute on the Constitution ( Most of our members are members of national truth and liberty groups such as the Campaign for Liberty, John Birch Society, GOOOH, Institute on the Constitution (; Restore the Republic, National Veterans Committee on Constitutional Affairs (, and/or are members of various local Tea Party groups and national 9/11 Truth groups such as; pilots for 9/11 truth, the DC for 9/11 Truth,, scholars for 9/11 Truth, military intelligence of 9/11 truth and many others...
And that, friends, is the truth about the truthers. Today, there are very few remaining left-wing CD nuts; the phenomenon skews sharply right.

The right-wing propagandists who have tried to paint Loughner as a liberal want you to believe that anyone who has ever had an unkind word for Dubya must be pinker than Emma Goldman. That false dichotomy shouldn't fool anyone with a triple-digit IQ. In fact, many right-wing conspiracists (Alex Jones being the most famous example) have always viewed the Bush family with suspicion and animus. Throughout the postwar period, reactionary conspiracists have often damned traditional Republicans -- yet no-one in his right mind would ever use the word "liberal" to describe these right-wing extremists. The most infamous example was provided by John Birch Society leader Robert Welch, who genuinely believed that Eisenhower was a communist.

Today, the Birchers, the Skousenites and their ideological confreres have taken over a large segment of the GOP. This takeover has created an under-recognized fracture within the right.

Fundamentalist Christians created a similar fracture when they put George W. Bush into office, because the fundamentalist mind-set is also notoriously receptive to ultra-paranoid political theories. Many of those theories target the neo-cons and the Bush family from the right.

Loughner himself was a self-proclaimed atheist, of the sort familiar to Flannery O'Connor readers: The perpetually enraged God-denier whose loud, inarticulate blasphemies mask a secret longing for the blood of the Lamb. Only someone raised in a culture of fanaticism would mount a rebellion of this sort. Both Jared Loughner and Hazel Motes might have turned out differently had they lived in a community where moderation has a voice; alas, in Arizona, the ultra-right controls the mainstream media and the ultra-ultra-right controls the samisdat alternative. When all trails lead back to the same place, confused young people have nowhere to go. Except when they go crazy, as Loughner did.

Of course Loughner became a right-winger between 2006 and today. He had no other frame of reference.

Back in the days when I hobnobbed with hard-core conspiracists, I met quite a few Jared Loughners -- including at least one unhinged individual who, I suspect, may one day commit a similarly violent act. (That's a tale for another time.) I've seen many naive and unstable individuals make the same segue that Loughner made.

To put the matter very simply: People can become Weirdness addicts. They get hooked on bizarre political ideas. Those who have the most serious addictions will eventually turn to right-wing pushers, because they're the ones who supply the hardest shit.

That's why the teabagger takeover of the Republican party is so dangerous. Today, one can no longer easily distinguish the "mainstream" Republican party from the underground culture of paranoia addiction. The modern GOP has become the party of conspiracy, both in its willingness to exploit fearmongering (example: Glenn Beck) and in the actual practice of dirty tricks (example: Karl Rove).

The most insidious forms of deception involve the rewriting of history. From Alex Jones' site:
In a Tweet, fellow student Caitie Parker said the accused gunman was “quite liberal” and a “political radical.” He listed Hitler’s Mein Kampf and Marx’s Communist Manifesto as his favorite books.
But it was not simply leftist radicalism and worship of diehard socialists like Marx and Hitler that motivated Loughner.
Even more reprehensible is this:
The Associated Press didn’t want to use Adolf Hitler’s or Karl Marx’s name, since these are the heroes to those on the left who have a fondness for Socialism and Marxism.
I have cited but two examples; one can find many more.

Apparently, right-wingers believe that you'll find swastikas and pictures of Der Fuehrer at any given left-wing gathering. In fact, you're much likelier to encounter that kind of imagery at a gun show in Utah -- as I once did.

(Conservatives never mention that Loughner's reading list also includes a seminal work by the vile Ayn Rand, who has become a Tea party goddess.)

For decades, the John Birch Society has pushed the notion that Nazism was a form of communism. Neo-Bircher Glenn Beck has tried very hard to make this notion mainstream -- and he has had an appalling success.

What astounds me is not the ignorance of the young, but their jack-ass certainty about the things they know that just ain't so. If much of our population no longer finds Hitler locatable on the right, then all dialogue has become impossible. One cannot debate the mad.

In a later post, I suppose I'll have to demonstrate why Beck is wrong. I'll have to point out that Hitler was never a socialist (despite the name of the party he commandeered), that Nazi brownshirts and other Freikorps thugs routinely beat and assassinated leftists, and that the Nazi movement was funded by the fiercely anti-socialist Henry Ford. I'll also have to demonstrate that the Birch movement itself grew out of the pro-Nazi segment of the American right of the 1930s -- and that, to this day, the Birchers idolize Henry Ford, Hitler's paymaster. Birchers invented the "Hitler was a socialist" canard in order to camouflage their own Nazified origins.

Yes, I'll have to write a post like that. More than one.

But, frankly, the task is infuriating.

I used to have an entire floor-to-ceiling book case filled with works about Nazism. Each and every one of them was written by historians who understood Hitler as the ultimate exemplar of radical revanchist conservatism. Alas, nowadays one must argue with nearly-illiterate ninnies who would rather eat Vegemite on cowcrap than read a book by Shirer, Heiden, Toland, Bullock, Waite or Infield. This smug new generation prefers to get what it is pleased to call "history" from fruitcakes like Glenn Beck and Alex Jones.

Being asked to prove that Hitler was a right-winger is like being asked to prove that water is wet and the sun is hot. It's galling.
Oh fer chrissake, Loughner's a paranoid schizophrenic who listened to no voices but those in his head, and the opportunistic jerks on the so-called Left and the opportunistic idiots on the Right are equally loathesome IMO. A pox on both their houses.
What LandOLincoln said.
"Each and everyone of them was written by historians."

Well, there you go. A quick look at Beckian authorities, who so quickly spout these proclamations: Hitler = Left ideology are 'not' historians by anyone's wildest imagination. David Barton, for instance, was plucked from obscurity by Beck and has been discredited innumerable times. Yet, too many people buy into this schtick as Gospel. The World According to Beck et al.

It's the work of the charlatan: mix a little bit of truth with a whole lot of fiction. Voila! The past becomes your best friend and the opposition becomes the "other." And that fits right into the hate speech and imagery that calls for elimination of all things not pure enough, not of 'original intent,' suspiciously unpatriotic.

Add a confused mind and what do you get? Another tragegy, until the next one hits the headlines and we wring our hands and mutter what to do, what to do.

Enough is enough! Rewriting history is an old trick. We ignore these abuses at our own peril.
WOW! I really enjoyed reading that piece. Yes, there is even a video of a guy wanting to get rid of Veterans benefits and have them ask for charity while he goes Tea Party Postal on the interviewer.

Exploding Tea Party Protester Threatens Interviewer

If you listen to what he is yelling, anyone who believes in social justice and caring for others is a 'socialists'. The thing that irks me is that they assume that only 'conservatives' are in the military, and that is wrong. This is why they were able to make Kerry into an 'anti-American' veteran with one ad. Truly scary and disgusting and it is this type of incitement that will eventually boil over into some tragic event.

Any hoo, hope you made it to the East with little to no problems on the way.

Woman Voter ( I still can't find my password )
One thing I know for certain about so-called "lefties". They don't understand schizophrenia. No wonder we don't get much progress in taking care of the mentally ill. Neither side grasps what is happening in the brains of these patients.
I was looking back at what the Nixon White House tapes revealed of conversations at the time of the Arthur Bremer assassination attempt on George Wallace.

The question was asked among the top advisors, was he left wing or right wing? The answer was, he'll be left wing when we are through with him.

That is, laid out in plain language on tape, was the plan at the highest level (put in motion by Nixon himself) to smear the Democratic Party by connection with Bremer. They had E. Howard Hunt do a little B&E, and plant Democratic campaign literature.

Plus ca change! (sorry but I don't know how to make diacritical marks or whatever that 'c' styling is called)

Anon 12:33 -- I know rather more than you may suspect about schizophrenia. You may have noted the remark about the "unhinged individual" of my acquaintance. Well, there is a long story to tell, one day, about HIM. Suffice it to say that he is a somewhat well-known internet presence. And he may be the most frightening individual I've ever had to deal with.

I discuss the need to institutionalize schizophrenics a couple of posts down. Sorry, but we have to blame the right on this score. They simply do not want to fund mental health. I document all of this in my earlier post.

I do think that the literature of "weird politics" can act as a psychotoxin -- if that term is permissible -- on individuals who are already somewhat unhinged.

By the way, please do not be anonymous.
A thread can be made he is a right winger, and when first hearing some of his rants, I thought Ron Paul libertarian.

But that still doesn't change the nut factor.

The Dems blew it and should have staked claim on the mental health issue and basically battled the Republicans on high ground.

By pointing fingers at Palin, they have lost the plot again, and the labeling/blame battle continues without real solutions.

Not really directed at you Cannon, because you did discuss the mental issue and are now dealing with the the rest.
Jonah Goldberg certainly had a lot to do with the confusion, thanks to his incoherent "Liberal Fascism" crap. Also much of the right has hooked onto a crudely simplified liberty vs tyranny dynamic as their one size fits all political explainer. With that compass, the only difference between Hitler, Stalin and any given Federal bureaucracy is merely one of scale. Which is, let's face it, just stupid.

Zeitgeist is much less simple. It ignores the left-right spectrum and replaces it with, practically literally, gnostic certainty. The world is an illusion. Apparently this guy Loughner was also into lucid dreaming. This 'occult' kind of stuff can be crazy-making and is generally interpreted as apolitical, but gimme a break, look at the environment, the effect is clearly political.
Elmo, I used to say (in the pre-net days) that the left and the far right met in two places: The health food store and the New Age bookshop.

In the late '80s and the early '90s, those specialty bookstores were often the primary places where JBS-style conspiracy theories would surface. In 1985, you had to go to a major university library if you wanted to find a copy of the "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion." In 1990, you just had to go to the local New Age bookstore, because those stores carried Cooper's godawful book, which reprinted the Protocols.

Of course, those same stores also carried a lot of "channeled" material from J.Z. Knight and similar toons. These books repackaged a lot of right-wing conspiracy theories about "international bankers" and such. Most of the UFO literature from that period included a lot of paranoid right-wing claptrap.

And let's not even talk about the occult bookstore off of Topanga (in the L.A. area) run by the fanatically reactionary Elizabeth Clare Prophet. I've been there. That place was likely to feature titles on lucid dreaming next to the works of Nesta Webster.

Most of the notable cult leaders have demonstrated a weakness for right-wing conspiracy theories. Think of Prophet, Hubbard, Ballard...hell, one might even mention LaVey.

My point is this: The righties talk about Loughner's occult dabblings as though they provide proof of his leftism. Hardly. Although occultists come in many different political flavors, quite a few of them -- perhaps the majority -- veer right.

I haven't yet seen the "Zeitgeist" movie, but from what I've read, this is simply another instance of right-wing conspiracy theory packaged in such a way as to appeal to naive young lefties. Sheez. How many times have I seen THAT trick...?
damn you, Joseph, you tease.

WTF is the "well-known" rightwing theory about mind control via GRAMMAR????? You bring it up then offer no links, no history, not even a single anecdote? I never heard of it.

Now I have to go search it out myself. That one obsession alone made me think nutcase, nonpolitical, because I have read a lot of accounts of the mentally ill being obsessed with words and letters, but have never run across any rightwingers obsessed with grammar, far from it.

As for the gold standard, sure, but this nutso wanted to design his OWN currency. Hardly standard rightwing rant.

Don't get me started on the 9/11 nuts. Your facts are correct, and of course the "Jews control the world" freaks were behind this cult but their trap caught just as many leftwingers as rightwingers, if not more. I know many, many, many, personally, whom I had to talk down (and to this day), and yes, the holocaust deniers were my number one bit of evidence to try to knock some sense into them. And PROMINENT lefties, from the unfortunately turned Obot professor at NYU, Mark Crispin Miller (who was particularly impressed with the "scholars" for truth, starting with that Mormon University nut) to the AA Dem congresswomen, turned Green presidential candidate, Cynthia McKinney, whom I could not vote for solely on her 9/11 nutter position alone.

This was an interesting piece, thank you, and yes the rightwingers are annoying trying to pin "leftist" on the shooter....but since the Palin Bashists (it's achieved a cult worship worthy of its own name) baselessly started this pissing contest, who cares how the other side responded? Leave both sides to their shrill absurdities.

Fact. Lougher's obsession started in 2007 when Giffords shot down his wise-ass "do words mean anything" nonquestion...long before Palin was on the scene. His rampage had nothing to do with the tea party, no matter how he does or does not resemble them. End of story.
"The 'bombs in the buildings' mythos originated with Holocaust deniers and conspiracy buffs who came out of the far right John Birch/Milton William Cooper tradition. Circa 2005, the meme began to infect the left"

I guess I'm motivated to quibble slightly in part because all the truthers I've personally met are liberal/left, and some were taking this stance considerably before 2005 (I know that there are many on the kooky right, and it's enriched among Ron Paul devotees, but my personal experience with them is probably not completely uninformative about the skew). That seems to concord with a 2007 poll that suggests a left skew (yes, it's Rasmussen - but probably not totally invalid).

When I try looking into the history of the truther stuff, what I find suggests that many of the originators were liberal/left - e.g. Wikipedia, article 1, article 2 (this last one is actually by a CD nut - I'm only including it because of the history outline). Most sources seem to name Jared Israel & Illarion Bykov as publishing the first truther article (apparently four days after the attack). Overall, people publishing the early claims appear to skew left - though clearly not exclusively left (e.g. Alex Jones, etc.) and with obvious anti-Semites included among the early authors.
Mildly interesting. Though much of Loughner's writing and video content is pretty incoherent word salad, there do seem to be elements consistent with the so-called "Sovereign Citizens Movement" (info here, here, and here). Also - Loughner was apparently obsessed with 2012 prophecy, and David Wynn Miller, the grammar/language conspiracy nut had posted a video on this same topic (e.g. postings on 2012 might have drawn him to Loughner's attention). So this potential connection has some plausibility (here's a righty blog attempting to make the counterargument against such a connection).
Looks like my earlier comments on this piece are probably trapped in the spam filter.

My own take on Loughner at this point. The fundamental problem was paranoid schizophrenia. He was already highly politically engaged (apparently with relatively liberal/left views) when his descent into psychosis started. And he apparently had already begun to obsess about Giffords in 2007. His more recent writings include both recognizable themes from the right (e.g. a bunch of elements resembling "Sovereign Citizen Movement" views; NASA conspiracies; etc.) and left (e.g. opposition to Iraq and Afghanistan wars - calling them war crimes - and apparent opposition to the prospect of war with Iran; quoting Universal Declaration of Human Rights articles 23 & 25 - i.e. right to work, right to form trade unions, right to equal pay for equal work without discrimination, right to standard of living adequate for health and well-being; I suspect he came into the truther stuff from the left; etc.). So a stew, with a heavy focus on paranoid conspiracy stuff (which the paranoid schizophrenia would have drawn him toward). I think there's a legitimate argument that fear/paranoia inherently tends to track in a direction incompatable with liberalism. And the stuff he got into politically (including views that resemble those from the Sovereign Citizen Movement) may have made it more likely that he would act out in the particular way that he did (assassination attempt).
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