Saturday, March 05, 2005

Save the Whale

It's fund-raising week at Orcinus. Click here (or one of the handy links at your immediate left) for more info.

Persons of interest

The composite sketches of the suspects in the Lefkow killings have proved helpful in identifying some potential "persons of interest" in the case.

Leading the charge has been my old friend and militia compatriot, Devin Burghart of the Center for New Community, who has posted a veritable rogue's gallery of Hale supporters from the World Church of the Creator and elsewhere, taken from the same photo shoot that produced Max Blumenthal's earlier possible ID of Suspect No. 1.

That person is a WCOTC White Beret Scott Gulbranson of Creve Cove, Illinois. There are more photos of Gulbranson at the CNC site (one of which can also be found at Blumenthal's).

A second person of interest has emerged as well, according to the most recent column by Michael Sneed of the Chicago Sun-Times:
Sneed hears police investigating the murders of the husband and mother of federal Judge Joan Lefkow on Wednesday night questioned a man who in 2003 was identified as a confidant/follower of jailed white supremacist Matthew Hale.

Hale, who is awaiting sentencing at the Metropolitan Correctional Center for soliciting the murder of Lefkow two years ago, was accompanied by the man in 2000 when he was collecting petition signatures in an effort to get his white supremacist World Church of the Creator recognized by Northwestern University as an official campus religious organization.

A Sneed source claims the man, a former Deerfield High School student who was once charged with littering and violation of curfew while passing out racist pamphlets, reportedly gave police an alibi at the time of the murders, which occurred between 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday at Lefkow's North Side home.

Meanwhile, Sneed has been told part of the police investigation's focus is on a New York Times photograph of Matthew Hale being accompanied by several followers, one of whom seems "strikingly similar" to one of the two police sketches released of possible murder suspects.

The Deerfield student mentioned in Sneed's article is a young man named John Schlissmann, who according to the CNC report claimed at one time to be one of Hale's bodyguards.

Another person of interest is another WCOTC activist, a Florida man named Jerald Overturf. One reason Overturf raises investigators' interest is his attempt to takeover the WCOTC when Hale was arrested. At one point, Overturf apparently contacted all the members of the Guardians of the Flame Committee (the group which appoints the "Pontifex Maximus").

In his newsletter, The Gathering Storm, Overturf essentially appointed himself "Hasta Primas" of the Creativity Movement as the group is now called. He wrote:
I am sure this will come as a shock to most U.S. members, but it is now time for us to take matters into our own hands. Time to do what must be done to save not only Our Church, but also Our Race and Our Pontifex Maximus. This is not an action I'm looking forward to taking, nor is it a task I ever contemplated taking on at this time in my life. However, it has become clear to me that no one else with a working knowledge of the teachings of Creativity is willing to step forward.

I have waited, day after day with a heavy heart, hoping that those in a
position to do so would appoint someone to take the place of the last Hasta Primus that P.M. Hale placed in charge. I have waited in vain it seems! Day after day, after offering myself as the next "sacrificial lamb," I continue to wait. Listening to excuse after excuse as the trial of our P.M. grows near. A quick review of the teachings of Creativity will show that I am well within my rights in taking the bull by the horns.

After contacting the Guardians of the Faith Committee with the idea of becoming the next H.P. of The Church, I was told that other things and people are being considered. This is all well and good and I am sure that given enough time they will find the best man for the job. Now I ask you, how much time do we have? How long do we wait? I don't mind waiting, but do we really have to stay in this state of limbo while we're waiting?

I am done with waiting, and there are a good many that feel the same. So, I offered to take on the role of H.P., either for good, or on a temporary basis. Meaning of course, until a replacement can be found! I just want us back at a respectable state. Back to where we were. Back to a respectable state, in the event of P.M Hale gaining his release as we all expect and hope he will. If P.M. Hale was to gain release today, I'm absolutely certain he would be ashamed of our total inaction in his absence.

Apparently, in Overturf's release photo (he was paroled just earlier this year), he looks a great deal like Suspect No. 2.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Is it terrorism?

So, if it turns out that the Lefkow murders were indeed committed by a couple of white supremacists from Matthew Hale's World Church of the Creator, as many suspect (Max Blumenthal may have ID'ed one of the two suspects), does that make the killings an act of terrorism?

Or is it just a retributive killing -- heinous enough, but not necessarily terroristic?

Well, consider the following:
-- Many white-supremacist terror advocates, notably the National Alliance's William Pierce, specifically highlight assassinations against the judiciary -- who they see as "Satanists" doing the bidding of Jews -- as a significant (if not primary) component of any "war" to bring down the government.

Pierce is well known for writing The Turner Diaries, which served as the blueprint for a whole generation of far-right terrorists, including The Order and Tim McVeigh. The latter killed 168 people in Oklahoma City in the hopes the act would spark a nationwide "race war." (It obviously hasn't come to pass, but the haters who tread in his footsteps are hoping it may yet.) And among the assassinations Pierce describes in the book are of "black-robed traitors."

But it's another Pierce work, Hunter, that may be more the relevant blueprint here. Hunter describes a "lone wolf" type terrorist who enacts a campaign of assassination that includes, notably, "Jewish controlled" judges.

-- Among the other white supremacists agitating for a "white revolution" is the World Church of the Creator, the focus of much of the current investigation. There is a reason that the WCOTC has a history of violence surrounding its believers: it specifically advocates the use of violence, culminating in all-out revolution, which they call "racial holy war" (or "RAHOWA").

In other words, the retributive aspects of the murders are intertwined with the terroristic motivations. The purpose is to intimidate the judiciary and to undermine the public's sense of security: if the government can't keep federal judges safe, who can they? In the end, if Hale supporters committed this, it is certainly an act of terror.

As the investigation continues apace, it's important to keep this possibility in mind, for one specific reason: These people have likely just gotten started.

To understand the nature of the beast we're dealing with here, a little history might be helpful.

The man at the left is Ben Klassen, the inventor of the electric can opener and a former Republican state legislator from Florida. By the late 1960s he had become completely radicalized and set about creating a new religion, with his fortune from the can-opener design funding the way.

He called his eventual concoction "Creativity." The book above is probably the centerpiece of a collection of books Klassen went on to write over the ensuing years. The core beliefs are relatively simple: Klassen rejects all previously established religions, including Christianity (because it emanated from the debased Jewish faith; WCOTCers, unlike most white supremacists, are actually eager to point out that Jesus was a Jew). His religion does not worship God: it worships white people, who are the "cream of creation."

Along the way, as Chip Berlet explains, they developed a distinctly violent approach to overturning the current order of things:
In Klassen's book, On the Brink of a Bloody Racial War, the inevitability of genocide carried out by White racial warriors is obvious throughout, however, while the WCOTC is struggling to gain total control over the political system in a country, Klassen urges followers to stay within the boundaries of what is "legal, constitutional, and non-violent. This is a tactical, not a strategic, command. Klassen, On the Brink of a Bloody Racial War, p. 375.

Klassen's words are reprinted by Hale as part of a public statement in the WCOTC newsletter The Struggle, that includes the claim: "Our Church does not condone or advocate violence or illegality in any way." The Struggle, Issue XC, Dec. XXIXAC, p. 12

In his article "Creativity's Strategy for White Victory," Hale makes it clear that the call for nonviolence is merely a temporary tactic. Hale cites Klassen's admonition to use legal means to win the struggle. "We must spread the message of Creativity legally so that we can continue to spread it, rather than wind up in jail." Matt Hale, "Creativity's Strategy for White Victory."

Yet the WCOTC philosophy makes it clear that once in power, the Church will create the conditions whereby people of color, Jews, and White "race traitors" will wither away and eventually disappear off the face of the Earth. This fits the UN definition of genocide.

Hale writes: "It cannot be denied that Ben Klassen envisioned that one day, there would probably be an all-out war with the mud races. After all, he did not speak the words 'RAHOWA! This Planet is Ours!" for nothing. In Nature's Eternal Religion, he describes how once we get the White Race's thinking straight, the White Race will cease to subsidize the mud races, and they shall wither on the vine. Then, the White Race under the banner of Creativity shall expand its territory until all the good lands of this planet earth are ours. The mud races may very well offer some resistance and that resistance will have to be destroyed."

While this call for future genocide is clear, Hale repeats his call for nonviolence at the present time. The intrinsic heroic warrior theme of Creativity, however, rebuts that claim because it makes it clear that "real" masculine men take action against their enemies and advance their race. This creates a dynamic whereby followers of Creativity could easily decide to increase their status through aggression or even violence against their enemies.

Klassen committed suicide in 1993, after one of his followers killed a black veteran in Florida, and the family wound up winning a wrongful-death lawsuit (filed by the SPLC) that essentially stripped him of the final remnants of his fortune.

At the time, many of us hoped that the group would spin into permanent decline. As I've described before, at that point the WCOTC was down to a handful of pathetic losers -- the most notable being Klassen's original designated successor, a former cattleman named Rudy Stanko, who had done prison time for selling tainted meat to Montana schoolkids (it was a massive Jewish conspiracy, you see) -- hanging onto a vast pile of Klassen's books. I actually first read the WCOTC's material when some of those followers were recruiting in the town of Laurel, Montana, by leaving copies of the books on people's doorsteps, like abandoned children, and a few copies made their way back to a church organization I worked with.

Then Matt Hale showed up on the scene, breathed another half-life into the beast like Dr. Frankenstein, and sent it lurching out into our streets again.

Another thing we know about Hale: he doesn't lack for chutzpah. The Chicago Tribune reports that two days before the murders, Hale made a court filing contending "authorities owed him and the judge apologies for causing Lefkow and her family 'to think that her life was in danger needlessly and wrongly.' "

Of course, Hale isn't alone out there. There's also radio talk-show host Hal Turner, who drew a visit from federal agents for some of his previous remarks:
He said federal authorities have focused on him because two years ago he said on the air that Lefkow "was worthy of being killed." On Thursday he defended his statements.

"If I say some politician should be assassinated, that's an opinion. If I say, 'Let's go kill so-and-so,' that's solicitation of murder," Turner said. "It's a very fine line, and sometimes people can't distinguish."

The line he's talking about, of course, is the legal one.

The moral one, of course, is the one that people like Turner, Hale, and the rest of their wretched lot can't distinguish. Which means that it's only a matter of time before someone is going to be crossing not just the legal line, but the line between mere crime and terrorism.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

What color is your star?

Well, a lot of people have been comparing David Horowitz's fatwa against liberals in academia to McCarthyism. Now, one of Horowitz's followers made the connection for him.

Via JuliusBlog we learn about the latest incident involving a student inspired by Horowitz:
SRJC uproar over Republican protest:
Several instructors targeted by student's posting of red stars, state code on teaching of communism

Santa Rosa Junior College's oak-studded campus is aflame with controversy triggered by the anonymous posting of red stars and a reference to communist indoctrination on 10 faculty office doors.

Instructors quickly saw the action as a threat to academic freedom, but the student who claimed credit for the protest said it was about left-leaning bias in the lecture hall.

The stars, which unnerved some instructors, were accompanied by a copy of a state Education Code section prohibiting the teaching of communism with the "intent to indoctrinate" students.

"It makes me a little anxious," philosophy instructor Michael Aparicio said.

Ed Buckley, the college's vice president of academic affairs, weighed in with a defense of academic freedom, saying in an e-mail to SRJC faculty that it includes teaching "difficult and controversial material."

But political science major Molly McPherson of Rohnert Park said she had only intended to start a discussion about the personal politics of SRJC humanities instructors by posting the stars.

"It's a big issue," said McPherson, president of the SRJC Republicans, a campus club. "The opinion of the far left is presented as fact, with no alternative."

You can see the text of the law the student is citing here:
51530. No teacher giving instruction in any school, or on any property belonging to any agencies included in the public school system, shall advocate or teach communism with the intent to indoctrinate or to inculcate in the mind of any pupil a preference for communism.

In prohibiting the advocacy or teaching of communism with the intent of indoctrinating or inculcating a preference in the mind of any pupil for such doctrine, the Legislature does not intend to prevent the teaching of the facts about communism. Rather, the Legislature intends to prevent the advocacy of, or inculcation and indoctrination into, communism as is hereinafter defined, for the
purpose of undermining patriotism for, and the belief in, the government of the United States and of this state.

This law, as it happens, is a Cold War relic of McCarthyist agitation in California (of which Richard Nixon was only one of the leading figures) during the late 1940s and '50s. The laws passed at the time included not only these prohibitions, but a "loyalty oath" required for all faculty members at state schools. (For more on this, see Ellen Wolf Schrecker's excellent exploration of the anticommunist campaign's history and its effects on academia.)

And, then, of course, there's the matter of the red stars. Pinning stars on your enemies' doors, as Julius reminds us, has an even uglier history.

Horowitz must be so proud.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Two killers

These are composite drawings of the two chief suspects in the killing of the husband and mother of Judge Joan Lefkow in Chicago. The man on the left is a white male, age "mid 20s, 5-8 to 6-0, strawberry blonde hair, eyes unknown and medium build. Clothing unknown." The man on the right is a "white male, ages 50-60, hair unknown, eyes hazel and large build. Subject last seen wearing dark green coveralls, black watch cap and grayish/green coat."

According to the Sun-Times, these descriptions probably are derived from witnesses who saw two men lurking about the neighborhood:
Another mystery for detectives is a suspicious car parked outside a church on the Lefkows' block Monday morning.

At 8 a.m., the church administrator at North Shore Baptist Church saw two men sporting "military-style haircuts'' sitting in a red Ford Escort in a no-parking zone on the block, smoking and drinking Cokes, the police report said. The administrator said he asked the men to leave and they did, the report said.

The administrator was interviewed by detectives Tuesday. "It was a little unusual," he told the Sun-Times. "You just don't usually see a car parked there at that time of day."

There was another strange clue (or red herring) thrown in for good measure:
One puzzle is a series of phone calls the Lefkows received Sunday night. Caller ID suggested the calls came from inside a correctional facility, a police report said. When Joan Lefkow answered the first call, she heard nothing.

Investigators were seeking the source of those calls and were focusing on the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago, where white supremacist Matt Hale is being held, a source said.

Judge Lefkow also gave an interview to the Sun-Times, saying she feared it was connected to her work:
"I fear that to be true, and that's the great tragedy of it," Lefkow told the Chicago Sun-Times. "If someone was angry at me, they should go after me. It's not fair to go after my family."

The piece also gives us some insight into the pain the killers inflicted on all their victims:
She declined to discuss the details of the probe, but noted the cruelty of it. Her husband was slowed from Achilles' tendon surgery, and her 89-year-old mother used a walker.

"It's just so cruel," Lefkow said. "He was on crutches after some surgery, and they didn't have a chance. It was just cold-blooded. Who would do this? I'm just furious."

Lefkow is now in protective custody, something she said could continue for some time. She is preparing for the funerals, set for Saturday morning at St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Evanston. The couple's four daughters have assembled in town. Michael Lefkow also has a fifth daughter from a previous relationship.

"They sob and they laugh about good things that happened and their dad's nutty behavior and various things," Lefkow said of their daughters. "But they're heartbroken. They're heartbroken."

Daughter Helena is to be married this summer, a ceremony Michael Lefkow was eagerly awaiting.

"He had gotten himself a tux to wear to the wedding, and was so looking forward to walking his daughter down the aisle," Lefkow said. "And now he won't be able to do that. The daughters cry and say, 'I never had a grandfather, and I wanted my children to have a grandfather.' "

I hate the phrase "the banality of evil." There is nothing banal about evil. Yes, it always comes wearing the mask of normalcy. That, tragically, is how it slips into our basements. But there is nothing banal about what happens next.

And I notice that no one has gotten around to calling these killers "terrorists" yet. I wonder if they ever will.

What, me divisive?

Update on the eliminationism front:

Ed Schultz was teeing off on Air America today regarding U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons' recent remarks concerning liberals who opposed the invasion of Iraq.

Nevada Democrats are decrying remarks Gibbons made at a Lincoln Day dinner in Elko, apparently warming up the faithful by doing a little liberal-bashing -- and suggesting we start shipping them off to Iraq to serve as "human shields":
While praising the efforts of American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gibbons accused liberals, movie stars and song makers of "trying to divide this country."

"I say we tell those liberal, tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, hippie, tie-dyed liberals to go make their movies and their music and whine somewhere else," he told the crowd, according to the Elko Daily Free Press.

He then said it was "too damn bad we didn't buy them a ticket" to become human shields in Iraq.

His comments came a week after he apologized for calling those who oppose corporate donations for President Bush's inaugural parties "communists."

We also get a view of why liberals have earned his wrath:
Gibbons, a combat pilot veteran of the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars, said "Hollywood established a climate that made our returning troops feel ostracized" during the Vietnam War.

"I see similar actions on the part of some members of the entertainment community today," he said. "Today, such efforts to break our resolve in Iraq are also used to inspire the insurgents to continue their assault."

Ah, yes. Liberals are on the side of the enemy, trying to break our resolve. We've heard that particular tune a lot the past few years, dating back at least to Ann Coulter's and Sean Hannity's books equating liberalism with traitors and terrorists. (This, despite the converse being historically true of conservatives, including many of those currently in power.)

But it's obviously picking up volume on the right now. Witness especially David Horowitz's absurd graphics connecting Micheal Moore to Osama bin Laden (ably limned recently by Michael Bérubé).

Who exactly is trying to divide our country here?

It's also worth noting that Gibbons isn't just some Republican loose cannon. He was in line to take over for Porter Goss as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (he was passed over for Peter Hoekstra) and chaired one of its subcommittees, and he's vice chair of the House Resources Committee.

Well, I've remarked previously about talk of eliminating liberals:
Perhaps I'm more sensitive to this kind of rhetoric than most, because I've been exposed to it for a long time. It is hardly different in nature from the kind of hate regularly spewed by the cross-burners at Aryan Nations, who of course hate mainstream liberals right alongside Jews, blacks, and every other permutation of their Other. One bleeds into the other for them -- and eventually, it does likewise for everyone else who partakes of this kind of talk. There is a special quality to eliminationist rhetoric, and it has the distinctive stench of burning flesh -- no matter where it emanates from.

If I thought for a moment that talk about committing violence against conservatives were as pervasive, especially in the public square, as it currently is against liberals, I do not doubt that I would do my best to attack it. But I almost never hear it from that sector now. For the past twenty or more years, I've been hearing it from the far right. And it deeply disturbs me when I begin hearing it from people who supposedly operate within the mainstream.

Of course, Gibbons will neither apologize nor back off the remarks. (Somehow, I'll wager, it will be all the fault of those nasty liberals, and produce another round of hand-wringing by Nick Kristof and Howard Kurtz about the decline of civility in our discourse.) Republican pundits and bloggers will flock to his defense. And the descent into the abyss will advance another notch.

But this will be noteworthy, marking by the day that eliminationist rhetoric became officially sanctioned.

Murderous hate

Even though there are reasons not to jump to assumptions about the murders of Judge Lefkow's husband and mother in Chicago this week, it frankly would be foolish, given the history, not to turn a big spotlight on white supremacists generally and the World Church of the Creator's remnants specifically in looking into the case.

Certainly that's the view of the neighbors, as well as experts. According to a Washington Post report:
Because of the notoriety of the Hale assassination plot, few seemed to believe the killings could be a coincidence. In the upscale, tree-lined Edgewater neighborhood where Lefkow lives, Eddy McDonough said he had seen squad cars parked outside the judge's house in the past. He considered it a targeted attack.

"This is a hit," McDonough said. "Most people living here don't feel threatened, since this wasn't aimed at them, but we're in shock."

On average, about 700 threats are made against court officers each year, according to the Marshals Service, which secures federal courthouses across the country. In 2003, marshals managed special security for 20 federal judges and prosecutors.

If the Chicago killings are eventually connected to Lefkow's work on the bench, it will be the first time that relatives of a federal judge have been killed. Three judges have been assassinated.

Mark Potok, chief of the hate group monitoring project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said he believes it is "highly likely that a follower or sympathizer of Matt Hale is responsible. This is a group with a really remarkable record of criminal violence. The members of this group have been involved in murder, bank robbery, innumerable beatings and aggravated assaults."

And it's not as if Hale's supporters are recoiling in horror over the murders. Indeed, according to the last graf of the New York Times report:
Sympathizers abound. "Everyone associated with the Matt Hale trial has deserved assassination for a long time," read an Internet essay posted Tuesday by Bill White, editor of The Libertarian Socialist News. "I don't feel bad that Judge Lefkow's family was murdered today. In fact, when I heard the story, I laughed."

Getting a clearer picture of this involves wading into the white-supremacist swamp. (Click on the following links only if you're prepared to take a nice long shower afterward.)

The National Alliance online magazine National Vanguard [warning: hate site] ran a version of the story ran a photo of Lefkowitz, while its story noted that the judge is "still unharmed."

Meanwhile, over at the Liberty Forum ("Powered by Reason and Principle"), which specializes in far-right causes, the posts are even more specific:
What this incident shows is that:

The American people will not stand by while their country, their rights and their economic livelihood is stolen from them for Bush's sick anti-American policies.

As the famous saying has it: Whatever happens to the Americans will happen to you.


Because the police state and the Jew monopoly media want to create the impression that Admiralty-Maritime tribunal administrators (judges) are important in the minds of the sheople.

The same way they indoctrinate the sheople to believe politicians, and presidents are important, and that the Jew monopoly media is a respected, credible source of information.


So an attorney and a judge's blood-sucking mother are axed. Big whoop! Good riddance. May they be eternally tormented. Too bad the judged wasn't axed as well.

Maybe next time

More judges need to be shot!

You want your freedom? Retribution is the key.

Also at Liberty Forum, Hal Turner gives the story the full-fledged paranoia treatment, warning "white nationalists" that they should expect to be targeted by authorities, and to clean up their acts:
Believe me when I tell you, the next few days and weeks will be like nothing we've seen in the WN movement so far. EVERY one of us should expect an abrupt visit from the feds. When they come knocking, it won't be friendly. It will be ruthless, arrogant and abusive. They will be looking to incite some type of reaction worthy of arrest from every single one of us. They want us ALL in jail. . . . . yesterday. Whatever it takes to achieve that, they will do.

So now's the time to get things in order and prepare. Right now. Not later, not tomorrow or this weekend. Right now.

No doubt they'll be oiling their guns this weekend.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Totoro and the culture of fear

The past week or so, I've been enjoying the recent American releases of two of anime master Hayao Miyazaki's earlier films, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and Porco Rosso.

Like all of his work, they're both wonders to watch. Nausicaa, his first film, is a worthy variation on Dune as a kind of biological fable, while Porco Rosso is an amazing piece of work for those (like me) who have a love of well-crafted flying sequences. It also has a line for the ages: "I'd rather be a pig than a fascist."

There is, unfortunately, a cloud over these releases -- one that speaks to the climate of fearfulness that is beginning to pervade our cultural climate. It's not a fear of terrorism or war, but a fear of ourselves.

These two films were originally scheduled to be part of a troika of Miyazaki masterpiece releases this spring. The third -- the one that didn't make it -- is probably the most anticipated of all: My Neighbor Totoro.

If you haven't seen it, you should, whether you have kids or not: It's not just one of the best children's films ever made, it is one of the finest Japanese films of any kind, anime or otherwise. (Kurosawa was a fan of this film, and stole some shots from it for Rhapsody in August.)

You can still get the Fox version of Totoro on DVD, at least while the stock lasts. It's a mediocre pan-and-scan version (with a pretty good vocal cast, actually). Fans have been awaiting a proper wide-screen release with a quality dubbing job (as well as Japanese w/subtitles as an option) for a long time.

But, inexplicably, Disney -- which is releasing all these films under its label and distribution network -- yanked Totoro from the announced releases and substituted for it The Cat Returns, a pleasant enough Studio Ghibli release that can't help being inferior.

Actually, it may not be all that inexplicable. Because, even though Totoro is globally a phenomenon -- it holds the title as the most popular children's film ever made outside of the U.S. -- it has one little problem when it comes to the guardians of our prurience in the good ol' USA.

Early in the film there's a brief scene where the two main characters -- 9-year-old Satsuki and her 5-year-old sister Mei -- take a traditional family bath with their father (a thirtysomething anthropologist named Kusukabe) at the end of their first day in their new home in the country. The wind is howling outside, and the girls are frightened by noises they hear, so their dad breaks up the tension by getting the three of them to laugh out loud boisterously, splashing in the tub as they do so.

Now, in a cultural context, the scene is harmless. But dirty minds see dirty things where they want to see them. And Disney, it's feared, is succumbing to the new torch-bearing moral purists who have been on the March since Janet Jackson bared her boob.

Daniel Thomas (who has reviews of the films as well) remarks on this:
Let's use the Janet Jackson fiasco as a starting point. The infamous Super Bowl Halftime Show incident sparked another one of those moralizing crusades from the Religious Right, who yell and bellow at the sight of a woman's breast as a sign of the Apocalypse. Before anyone could say, "where are the WMD's?," the Bush administration and the FCC have swarmed in and taken over.

Add in some threats, add in some fines, and then start looking for other targets. Howard Stern found himself under fire from the government. Some 30 ABC affiliates refused to broadcast Saving Private Ryan because of its profanity and violence (as opposed to the current war you never see). Recently, James Dobson turned his guns on Spongebob Squarepants, because the cartoon character appeared in a video promoting tolerance, and PBS was attacked by the Education Secretary for a cartoon that depicted two mommies.

The broadcasters are scared. Disney, we remember, owns ABC, which means they've been on the hot seat since the beginning. They're worried, and the last thing they need is another target painted on their backs.

What does this have to do with Totoro? Plenty. The movie is based in 1950's rural Japan, and includes a scene where the family - father and two daughers - are in the bathtub together. This is purely a cultural thing, but it's dynamite in the hands of the culture warriors.

The Michael Jackson trial is about to start, and then we'll hear Dobson, Fallwell, and Robertson, accusing Disney of peddling child pornography. Why, they'll screech, they have a cartoon that shows a grown man in a bathtub with two naked girls! Imagine that scenario playing out.

At this point, all this is still speculation. (I have a call in to the Disney publicists seeking comment, and will report back.) But in the current milieu, the suspicions that Disney got cold feet are well justified. However, they probably have not reckoned with the international backlash if they do hold back Totoro, because they will look incredibly blind and, frankly, stupid.

This is all occurring within a backdrop of Disney generally mishandling the release of all of Miyazaki's films in the United States. As Thomas notes:
We have to understand something important here: Studio Ghibli is a competitor. Ever since Nausicaa, Miyazaki and Takahata have created one masterpiece after another; they've managed to revolutionize animation as an art form, stretching it and growing it. Disney hasn't released anything in my lifetime, except for probably the Destino short, that even comes close. Even the early '90s string of box-office hits, Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King being their best, are stuck in a simple-minded rut of cutesy melodrama, banal sing-alongs, and good-versus-evil cliches.

My 3-year-old daughter loves the Disney films, some better than others. But Totoro is her cherry-on-top favorite. A stuffed Totoro and Catbus are perched on her bed. She thumbs through the manga version I bought her. Of course, it helps that Daddy prefers watching Totoro to any of the Disney dreck, especially the gawdawful Princess crapola laden with messages I don't really want her to be getting. Totoro's relative sanity -- it's nearly devoid of trauma and there are no villains -- is like breathing oxygen after being drowned in treacle.

The idea that there is anything wrong with exposing children to this piece of art is not just profoundly dumb. It's outrageous. And so far, no one has come out and said that.

But they don't have to. The examples have been made. Everyone else is on warning. Including, it seems, gigantic, fuzzy forest kings.

UPDATE: A couple of readers have directed me to the following at the Miyazaki Web site:
The DVD for My Neighbor Totoro was replaced by The Cat Returns, due to technical problems with the DVD transfer. BVHE wanted to make certain to put out the best quality product, so delaying Totoro made the most sense.

There's still no date set for release. This certainly alleviates the concern for now, but if the release keeps getting put back, look for these questions to be raised again.

An ominous tragedy

Following up on last night's report of the horrifying murders of family members of a judge who had been previously targeted by white supremacists, it's clear that authorities are working hard to track this one down. formed a task force to look into the case.

Most of the details that have emerged so far -- they were killed by multiple gunshot wounds in the basement of their home -- have not given any clue that the killings were payback for the conviction of white supremacist Matthew Hale for soliciting Lefkow's murder, but the circumstances certainly point in that direction.

Chicago Tribune reporter Eric Zorn hits the notes just about right at his blog:
Tempting though it is, I’m not going to leap to the conclusion that Monday's murder of U.S. Judge Joan H. Lefkow's husband and mother in her family's North Side home was an act of revenge against Judge Lefkow for her role in white supremacist Matthew Hale's legal troubles.

At this writing I know of no evidence that links Hale's followers to the horrifying crime other than that he was convicted in April of soliciting Lefkow's murder.

While that fact plainly raises suspicion, it's important for observers and police alike to remain open to the possibility that Michael F. Lefkow and Donna Humphrey were the victims of a random home invasion gone bad, a grudge killing unrelated to Judge Lefkow's work or even a grudge killing related to her work on a different case.

That said, however, these murders, if they turn out to have been committed by white supremacists loyal to or working for Matthew Hale, would be among the most ominous in the recent history of this nation.

We have more than our share of mayhem here —- random, predatory, twisted, senseless. But assassinations of public authority figures or, even worse, their relatives, have been mostly a third-world phenomenon for nearly a quarter of a century.

Meanwhile, some of the speculation from white supremacists about the killings is well worth noting:
White supremacist discussion forums on the Internet are abuzz today with the news that the husband and mother of a federal judge have been slain.

Posters debated whether the shooting deaths of 64-year-old Michael Lefkow and 89-year-old Donna Humphrey are good or bad for their movement.

Some posts predict a crackdown on the white nationalist groups. Others theorize the slayings were the work of federal agents who want a severe sentence for white supremacist Matthew Hale.

They never miss a chance, do they?

[Hat tip to David Finley for the WQAD link.]

Drip, drip, drip

You can now add Davis to the growing list of California locales dealing with a growing tide of hate crimes and white-supremacist activity, mostly among young people.

According to a Sacramento Bee report [registration req'd], a longstanding problem was only dealt with cosmetically, and now it's coming home to roost:
Swastikas, racist graffiti and satanic messages were spray-painted on two schools and a church near Davis early Monday morning, stunning members of the liberal college town and sparking a multiagency hate-crimes investigation.

Another church near Davis' western border also was severely vandalized. No graffiti was sprayed on that church.

"I'm just so sickened by what's happened," said Mayor Ruth Asmundson. "I think it's important that everybody in Davis know of this, so we can clean up the mess and make sure this doesn't happen again."

The vandalism occurred less than two years after the city and its school district held a series of emotional public meetings concerning hate crimes committed by a few of the city's youths. At the meetings, dozens of students and local residents described acts of bigotry and racism in the community that they believed were being ignored by local officials.
The school district later adopted new protocols to address bullying and racism on campus and the Police Department assigned a full-time officer to investigate hate crimes.

But several community members said Monday that they believe problems of racism in the city still are not being adequately addressed.

They criticized the school district for not informing parents in a timely manner that racist graffiti had been spray-painted at the high school two months ago and that racist literature had been distributed there last week.

"By covering that up and not publicizing it, it encouraged the people to do it again and this time they did it all over the city," said the Rev. Tim Malone, a member of the Davis-based Blacks for Effective Community Action and a parent of two children in city schools.

"Davis is like that," Malone said. "The people think if you ignore it long enough, it will go away."

As I've explained numerous times, ignoring these crimes or only issuing wrist slaps is a dangerous thing to do. The mentality of haters is such that they take such signals as tacit approval, a kind of confirmation. The result, always, is escalation. Shining light on these dark corners is the only way of making their occupants scatter.

Monday, February 28, 2005

The scourge of hate

Terrible news tonight out of Chicago:
Judge's husband, mother found dead

The federal judge whom white supremacist Matthew Hale attempted to have murdered found her husband and mother lying dead in her house when she returned home Monday night, police said.

Judge Joan H. Lefkow returned to her house in the 5200 block of North Lakewood Avenue after work and found the bodies of her husband, attorney Michael F. Lefkow and her mother, Donna Humphrey, lying in blood in the house, police said.

Detectives, U.S. Marshals and FBI agents rushed to the scene and were investigating the deaths as a "death investigation," police said. Other family members may also have been present when the bodies were discovered, neighbors said.

Police sources were cautious about describing the deaths Monday night, and said it was too early to say how the victims were killed.

As the story explains, Matt Hale remains in prison after bring convicted for attempting to hire someone to kill Judge Lefkow. He's scheduled to be sentenced in April.

I've posted quite a bit about Hale's saga, including a note when he was first arrested here. What's been noteworthy, of course, is that even before his arrest -- but especially in its wake -- his little World Church of the Creator fiefdom has been crumbling dramatically.

However, as I've also pointed out, these groups can remain lethal even in their death throes. Sadly, this appears to have been the case with Judge Lefkow's family.

Masters of war

So it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.

I couldn't help but utter a low mordant chuckle when I heard George W. Bush speak these words in his inauguration speech, and repeat the call for "ending tyranny in our world" in his State of the Union address.

Because the history of the Bush family -- including the current White House occupants, and the power cadre they have gathered -- tells us a little about just how W. defines "tyranny." It's all in the eye of the beholder.

This was driven home recently by news of the recent war-related windfall that just happened to befall W's own Uncle Bucky Bush:
William H.T. "Bucky" Bush, uncle of the president and youngest brother of former President George H.W. Bush, cashed in ESSI stock options last month with a net value of nearly half a million dollars.

"Uncle Bucky," as he is known to the president, is on the board of the company, which supplies armor and other materials to U.S. troops. The company's stock prices have soared to record heights since before the invasion, benefiting in part from contracts to rapidly refit fleets of military vehicles with extra armor.

William Bush exercised options on 8,438 shares of company stock Jan. 18, according to reports filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He acknowledged in an interview that the transaction was worth about $450,000.

In an earnings report issued Tuesday, the firm disclosed that net earnings for the first quarter ending Jan. 31 reached a record $20.6 million, while quarterly revenue hit $233.5 million, up 20% from a year ago. As a result, the company boosted its projected annual revenue to between $990 million and $1 billion.

None of this should come as a surprise, really. This is the world of the Bush family, after all.

The Bush family fortune, you see, was built on making steel castings, primarily for two of the linchpins of industrial society: railroads and armaments. Bush's grandfather, Samuel Prescott Bush, ran an Ohio manufacturing firm called Buckeye Steel Castings. The Bushes had many business and family connections to other giants of industry who were often business partners, including the Harriman family of Union Pacific Railroad, and the arms-making Remington family. Sam Bush was also director of small armaments and ammunition on the federal War Industries Board board between 1918 and 1924, which made him responsible for government assistance to arms makers like Remington, whose owner, Frank Rockefeller, was a former Buckeye Steel company president. Bush also oversaw the takeover of numerous small arms manufacturers and the cartelization of the industry.

As I've described in detail previously, the Bushes -- Samuel Bush as well as his son Prescott -- had little compunction about doing business with tyrants, particularly the rapidly rising Nazi regime of Germany in the 1930s. Indeed, Prescott Bush appears to have continued doing business with the Nazis, for a while at least, even after America went to war with them.

The problem with all this, as I explained then, is not that the Bush family has Nazi ties (it doesn't) or that the family fortune is built with Nazi money (which is arguable). The problem is that this way of running the world -- of doing business with and propping up murderers and tyrants so long as they're "on our side" -- has remained with us, and plagues us, to this day:
This really is why the questions around the Bush family's connections to the Nazi regime are relevant today. The episode does not point to some secret ideological affinity for fascism so much as it reveals a willingness to empower them if it furthers their ends. The really interesting question raised by the "Bush-Nazi connection" is not so much a hidden skeleton in the family closet as what the episode says about American society's willingness to ignore inconvenient truths of history, and how that affects the ethos of current public policy.

Cecil Adams, in his attempt to debunk the connection, alludes to this when he argues:

So, did Bush and his firm finance the Nazis and enable Germany to rearm? Indirectly, yes. But they had a lot of company. Some of the most distinguished names in American business had investments or subsidiaries in prewar Germany, including Standard Oil and General Motors. Critics have argued for years that without U.S. money, the Nazis could never have waged war.

While this is quite accurate as far it goes, for some reason, Adams considers this an excuse of some kind: "Hey, everybody did it, and we still do it." This elides the larger question of the real moral culpability that exists for aiding and abetting not just the Nazi nightmare, but violent totalitarian regimes through succeeding years. While it is true that certain American figures -- notably Henry Ford -- faced even greater degrees of culpability for their overt support of fascism, the people who gladly profited from providing essential cogs to the Nazi war machine cannot escape accountability by merely claiming that it was "just business." This defense for all kinds of atrocities is common among American capitalists, and it is at base corrupt and amoral. Indeed, it continues to serve as a handy excuse for the kind of foreign policy that has been practiced ever since the war, and which was specifically shaped by the same self-interested forces that gave way to the Holocaust.

Two other texts -- both balanced, accurate and reliable -- have tackled the larger issue of the role of corporate America's investment in and financial and logistical support for the Nazis, both in their nascent and military-building phases: New York Times reporter Charles Higham's groundbreaking 1983 book, Trading With The Enemy; The Nazi American Money Plot 1933-1949, and Christopher Simpson's 1993 The Splendid Blond Beast: Money Law and Genocide in the Twentieth Century.

Both books -- which deal at least tangentially with the Harriman-Bush connections -- focused on the question of why these captains of industry never had to confront their culpability in the Nazi nightmare. According to Higham, investigations were begun by international tribunals to look into this matter but "the government smothered everything during and even after the war." Higham contended that government officials believed "a public scandal ... would have drastically affected public morale, caused widespread strikes and perhaps provoked mutinies in the armed services," and thought "their trial and imprisonment would have made it impossible for the corporate boards to help the American war effort."

Simpson delves even deeper into this point and ultimately concludes that when it came time for accountability in the mass genocide sponsored by corporatists, international tribunals were stymied by the same machinations of privilege and power that were in fact responsible for the problem. The elites whose fortunes were at stake found that the structure of international law was weak and easily manipulated so that they could simply "get on with business."

In a followup post, I discussed this point further:
This legacy has two dimensions that that need reckoning: domestic and international.

-- The willingness of elite capitalists to sponsor the activities of the thuggish elements that are intrinsically a major component of fascism as a bulwark against "leftists" has never left us entirely. Indeed, it has been occurring with renewed vigor since the early 1990s, when the conservative-movement dogmatists decided that Bill Clinton was a major threat to their drive for power, and began forming alliances with proto-fascist elements, specifically transmitting their ideas and agendas into mainstream conservatism. (This is, of course, the primary subject of "Rush, Newspeak and Fascism.")

That propensity has been rising to the surface in increasing numbers with the George W. Bush regime, which deployed thuggish elements in the Florida debacle in 2000 and turned them loose against antiwar protesters in 2002-03. The levels of violence and thuggery have remained subdued so far, but a serious challenge to Bush's power in the 2004 elections may well raise it another notch. In any event, the willingness to form these alliances dates can be traced directly back to the behavior of such capitalists as Prescott Bush and George Herbert Walker in the 1930s.

-- The willingness to do business with, and indeed sponsor and arm, brutish thugs, dictators and continues to affect us today. After all, Iraq's Saddam Hussein was precisely the kind of dictator that America has historically armed and backed as an "enemy of our enemies" over the years since World War II, only to have them turn on us as a genuine threat themselves. For that matter, the terrorists who now operate Al Qaeda were originally sponsored by Americans in Afghanistan as part of our effort to undermine the Soviet Union in the 1980s.

Not that we have ever learned anything from this: Today, in the name of defeating Al Qaeda and Saddam in the "war on terror," we have allied ourselves with all kinds of reprehensible thugs and authoritarian regimes, including those in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China, and Malaysia.

A couple of weeks ago, Parade Magazine -- not exactly a hotbed of liberalism -- ran a feature titled "The World's 10 Worst Dictators". It apparently was predicated on taking seriously Mr. Bush's charge for ridding the world of tyranny in our time. But it was a very interesting list, since it included some of our chief allies in the "war on terror," as well as governments with whom we have remained at least somewhat cozy.

Included on the list:

-- Than Shwe of Burma. Burma: Even though the brutal military dictatorship of Myanmar has come under more scrutiny and criticism from the Bush administration recently, it was worth noting that Bush's Justice Department undertook a legal effort supporting Unocal's campaign to avoid legal and fiduciary consequences for underwriting and encouraging government brutality -- including murder and concentration camps -- to get a pipeline built in Myanmar.

-- Hu Jintao of China. Hu is only the leading figure of a government by cabal that has held the largest number of people in the grasp of tyranny for the longest period of time in history. As I've argued previously, China's government fits the definition of a threat as well as any nation on the planet: they have weapons of mass destruction; they torture and brutalize their own people, oppressing them through police-state tactics; they invade their neighbors and are a regional military threat; and they have engaged in military confrontations with American forces. But we do billions of dollars in business with China every year, and they are proclaimed a valued ally in the "war on terror" (which China has used, of course, as a pretext for suppressing regional dissent).

-- Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. The connections between the Saudis and the Bush family are almost too numerous to catalog, but Craig Unger's remarkable work in House of Bush, House of Saud is a good place to start.

-- Pervez Musharaff of Pakistan. Of course, Musharaff is now one of our prominent allies in the "war on terror," though it's hard to say why. After all, our own State Department reported before 9/11 on Musharaff's many connections to various terrorist factions, including Al Qaeda. Most significant were the many connections within the Pakistani intelligence agency (ISI) to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

-- Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenistan. Turkmenistan is also an ally in the "war on terror." The Bush administration turned down multiple pleas (including a recommendation by a federal commission) to designate both Turkmenistan and Saudi Arabia as "countries of particular concern" regarding their handling of religious freedoms and human rights. That couldn't have had anything to do, I'm sure, with that pipeline they're planning to build through Turkmenistan. Nah.

So how, exactly, are we going to "end tyranny in our world" when some of the biggest tyrants are some of this administration's closest allies? How can we take such talk seriously when it's clear there are a lot hidden agendas involved in deciding just who is the tyrant du jour?

And if anyone has been deluded into thinking it's peace that this administration wants, they should think, for just a moment, on how people like "Uncle Bucky" make their fortunes in this world. Because those folks are running the show now.

[Originally published Sunday at The American Street.]

Hate hath no bounds

A trend I've increasingly been reporting on is the seemingly emboldened white supremacist movement, particularly the way it is targeting teens for recruitment.

One of the predictable corollaries of this trend is that, increasingly, minority youngsters will be the targets of these haters.

Two reports out of California make clear that white-power hate groups have no boundaries when it comes to who they'll target. Even little kids. Of course, I've known this for some time; I remember how Keith Gilbert of the Aryan Nations used to harass a mixed-race family in Coeur d'Alene.

The most recent report involved threats against Indian teens on the Paiute Reservation in northeastern California, as Indian Country Today reported:
BISHOP, Calif. - Shock, fear and anger rocked the Bishop Paiute reservation recently when letters left at the tribe's education complex threatened to "kidnap, rape and dismember" young Paiute girls, aged 5 to 9.

Three original letters, typed in red ink with a cover sheet signed ''KKK,'' were left at the tribe's gymnasium and on the baseball field adjacent to the tribe's Head Start program and daycare center. Other copies were tossed on nearby roadsides, according to the tribe's chief of law enforcement services, Cal Stafford.

The letters sparked a firestorm of outrage and anxiety on the reservation and in the surrounding city of Bishop, a small rustic town in the Sierra Nevadas.

Addressed to the Paiute tribe, the letters promised retaliation for ''your half-witted bucks taking another white life'' and alluded to crimes involving tribal members dating back a decade. The letters were turned over to the Inyo County Sheriff's office, which notified the FBI.

"This is a terrorist threat," said Bishop Paiute Vice Chairman Sandra Warlie, who spearheaded efforts to inform and protect tribal members. "Whoever did this meant to put fear in our hearts by targeting our children. We are stepping up security measures and we will do everything we can to protect our people."

The threats are believed to be retribution for the death of a white liquor store manager, Dave Pettet, 48, who was allegedly shot by tribal member Wayne Bengochia in an alcohol-related incident four days before the letters were found. Begochia, 48, was charged with homicide and is awaiting trial.

The problem is that these events are not "isolated incidents" that are occurring in a vacuum. They're occurring in a context in which open hostility to Native Americans -- embodied in Gov. Arnold Schwarzengger's remarks that Indians were "ripping us off" -- are becoming part of the public dialogue. As Indian Country Today's editors put it:
Radio's hate-talkers agitate the masses with euphemistic language, charging at the ''multi-culturalists'' (or as Rush Limbaugh puts it, the ''diversity crowd'') when they really mean the non-mainstream, when their anger is actually directed at the non-white (and white) people who still understand the nature of racism. In some cases, politicians join in the game by chastising whole groups while attacking on a given issue. (Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's infamous characterization of Indians as thieves in his perhaps careless phrase ''The Indians are ripping us off'' is a case in point.) The intent of this hardball game is, of course, to score on the opponent, to pound the other guy into submission.

It is mostly just a game for Schwarzenegger and for most media hounds and politicians who play it, but it is a game that can have serious consequences for communities.

Meanwhile, in the Santa Clarita Valley, haters are targeting little kids too:
The valley has been roiled over the last few months by claims from at least half a dozen African American families that their children have been targets of intolerant, even racist, behavior from their white peers. They say the white teens have continually bullied, harassed and attacked their children at school and off campus for no apparent reason, other than the color of their skin.

The attacks, they said, occurred when youths were walking home from school, going to the park or visiting friends. The incidents have shaken the community because the alleged assailants are not skin-head outsiders but other teenagers who live among them in the pricey subdivisions.

"I need to be making college plans for my kids, and instead I'm fighting this mess," said Valencia resident Robin Williams-Nohara, who says her three sons have been harassed and beaten by white teenagers. "I can't believe this is happening in L.A. County in 2005. No way."

Williams-Nohara is African American and works as an infant-care specialist in West Los Angeles. Her Japanese American husband, Seiji Nohara, is a customer service representative for United Airlines. They moved to Valencia from Monterey Park four years ago, hoping the good schools and suburban environment would help their children excel and go on to college.

At some point, California's political leadership is going to have to step to the forefront and take an aggressive stance against these crimes. The fact that they have not so far, in fact, may speak even more loudly.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Support your local orca

I've now compiled and edited "The Rise of Pseudo Fascism" -- my seven-part essay that ran from September to November of last year, and which recently won a 2004 Koufax Award for Best Series -- into a single document available on PDF.

This version has been edited somewhat, particularly in Part 7, to reflect the exigencies of the post-election environment, as I was writing it just as the election was about to take place. I've also added a brief, two-page Introduction.

You can obtain it by clicking here or on the link in the upper left-hand corner of the blog, right under the shot of the orca. I've also attached, underneath that, a PayPal button.

This is, you see, my sorta annual fund-raiser. I don't like holding out a tin cup, but I am happy to ask people to pitch in to support my work if I can offer them something in exchange. So download the PDF to your heart's content, and if you like what you read, pitch $5 -- or whatever you like -- into the kitty.

I promise not to head for the sticks like, ahem, certain bloggers we could name, a few months after this. I will keep Orcinus an ad-free environment -- not that this makes me purer or anything like that, but just because it simplifies things for me a great deal, especially from an ethical standpoint; my old-fashioned newsroom church-state separation instinct, I'll admit, plays a role in this.

It's also important that the blog not become too entangling, or then it won't be worth it for me personally. Still, I think Orcinus has real continuing value in keeping track of some of the darker impulses at play in our current landscape, and more importantly, getting the information circulated and examined. But I have another book-writing project coming up this summer (I'll blog about it as it gets closer), with a great deal of time spent on research, so I need to see what I can do to make sure the blog pays for the quantity of my time it will be consuming.

In that sense, consider this fund-raiser a chance to support independent journalism. Think of it, if you like, as a subscription of sorts, and donate accordingly.

I'm operating largely on my own these days, and the freedom to publish material like "Pseudo Fascism" or "Rush, Newspeak and Fascism" is in the end utterly dependent on your support. I remain pretty certain I could not have published these in anything approaching a "respectable" printed publication, though I'm grateful for the support of folks like those at Cursor who continue to support my work.

All of you have my thanks just for showing up. I'm flattered and honored to get as many visitors as I do daily. I'm hoping to keep up the quality of work you've become accustomed to (though I can't promise any more Koufaxes). Do what you can to pitch in.

Many thanks to Real Genius for doing all the PDF and footnoting work.

[For those who want to donate by snail mail, my address is: P.O. Box 17872, Seattle, WA, 98107.]

Blogging about

From hither and yon ...

Liberals in the Northwest have been behind the game in getting their mutual-support act together (yours truly is notably slow on this particular uptake), but the appearance of Pacific Northwest Portal is decidedly a step in the right, er, left direction. (Note that Orcinus is a regularly syndicated feature on the portal's Washington blogs page. I've also added a button at the bottom of my blogroll for easy access.)

Gil Smart weighs in on hateful right-wing rhetoric and the response by "reasonable" conservatives.

My old friend John McKay of archy has put together a great little project titled Carnival of Bad History, which sounds like a great opportunity for friends and readers from Is That Legal? and Cliopatra to pitch in.

Oh, yes: I have a post up at The American Street on our Masters of War. Enjoy.

Corrections Department

Two corrections worth noting from last week's post on the Washington state elections:

First, the paragraph I cited from the study by Carla at Preemptive Karma and Torrid Joe at Also Also indicating a higher rate of error in Spokane County was incorrect: Here is their correction. It's worth noting, though, that even though this particular piece of evidence was off, the thrust of their findings -- which was that the rate of error rises exponentially with population -- remains rock-solid.

Second, I incorrectly reported that both Carla and TJ had been banned from Sound Politics by Stefan Sharkansky, but Carla has never been banned there. I also reported that links to their sites had been banned, but that appears to be at least partly incorrect; I've spoken to three different people who said their links to Also Also were rejected in SP's comments, but if that policy was in place at one time, it seems to have been lifted; Sharkansky himself has linked to them in his response, and I've also been able to link to Also Also in SP's comments.

More commentary on this may be forthcoming.

Something to die for

Max Blumenthal has an excellent new piece up at Media Transparency titled "Air Jesus: With The Evangelical Air Force", describing the wonderful time he had covering the National Religious Broadcasters' convention in Anaheim.

The best part is near the end, when he describes an appearance by James Dobson of Focus on the Family. Dobson in fact makes a point rather similar to mine about the whole SpongeBob controversy:
One of few times Dobson spoke out of turn was to make a clarification he had apparently wanted to issue for some time. "I did not say SpongeBob was gay," Dobson told the crowd, responding to media ridicule of his attack on the popular cartoon character:

"All I said was he was part of a video produced by a group with strong linkages to the homosexual community that's teaching things like tolerance and diversity. And you can see where they're going with that. They're teaching kids to think different about homosexuality."

Yes, indeed they are. They're now teaching them that being a "faggot" isn't a license for getting beaten up. The horrors.

Equally interesting were the remarks by Dobson's heir-apparent, his son Ryan:
Like everything else about Dobson, his passive attitude was calculated. The evening was to belong to Ryan, who dominated the discussion with long, blustery yarns about everything from his passion for skateboarding to his views on abortion. With close-cropped hair, gauge earrings and a handlebar mustache reminiscent of the biker from the Village People, Ryan had studiously cast himself as a rebel for Christ. But behind his bad-boy veneer, he is being groomed as the heir to his dad's political empire. Adopted by his parents when he was six months old, Ryan interned for a year at Washington's premier right-wing Christian think tank, the Family Research Council (website), which his father founded, and today is dispatched across the country for speaking engagements before evangelical youth groups, which his father promotes.

While at the NRB, Ryan explained the logic behind his latest book, 2Die4, a sequel to his other ghostwritten masterpiece, Be Intolerant: Because Some Things Are Just Stupid. "Kids today are looking for something to die for, they're looking for a cause," Ryan said. "If you give them something to die for, they'll go to the edge of the earth for you. Kids like that give me hope for revolution in America."

They needn't worry. These folks will always plenty of causes for young Christian soldiers to die for.

See, for instance, the young Christian soldiers currently marching off to war in Iraq. Hey, it sure is going swell there since the election, isn't it?