Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Friday, July 27, 2007

The Birchers

by tristero

The blogosphere seems astounded that Glenn Beck fluffed a John Bircher. In fact, it really should surpise no one. There is no ideological difference of any importance between modern conservatives and the John Birch Society, something I noted in my very first post, dated February 14, 2003:
In October of '02, I made a speech to a parent's gathering at my daughter's school about the Cuban Missile Crisis. In that speech I asserted that the Bush administration had been mistakenly classified by the press as "conservative." Instead, they are right-wing extremists with "intellectual" ties to the nuts of the Kennedy era, like Curtis Lemay or the John Birch Society members.
What follows is adopted from a post I wrote in September of '04.

The John Birch Society arose in the late 50's and rapidly grew to considerable prominence. It is worth noting that the Birchers were thought to be so extreme that William F. Buckley himself denounced them in the pages of National Review. Among their goals were:

1. The abolition of the graduated income tax.

2. The repeal of social security legislation.

3. The impeachment of various high government officials,

4..The end to busing for the purpose of school integration.

5. The end to U.S. membership in the United Nations.

As you can see, these goals, which were, 40 years ago, the platform of an extremist group on the fringes of American politics, are the all but spoken platform of the Bush administration and the modern Republican party. We have seen numerous attempts to eliminate the income tax; Bush has proposed changes to Social Security that will send it down the road to extinction; Bill Clinton was impeached and Governor Gray Davis of California removed from office; the busing issue has morphed into an intense focus of the easier-to-frame affirmative action; and the Bush administration, on the issue of Iraq and in many other ways, great and small, has worked assiduously to bypass the United Nations and make the actions of the UN worthless (see this notorious article by Perle for a neo-Bircher perspective.).

It is useful to read Bircher literature because, if for no other reason, it will give you insight into what underlies some -perhaps a lot - of the secular components of Bush's worldview.

Birch Society Founder Robert Welch believed that "an elite international cabal...is seeking to establish a world tyranny." In the U.S., that cabal was centered in the Council on Foreign Relations. Of course, Welch and his followers were convinced that Franklin Roosevelt was a communist and that the New Deal was pure socialism. But the Birchers went further. Some of the abettors of the vast communist conspiracy Welch saw as an imminent danger to freedom were President Dwight D. Eisenhower and John Foster Dulles.

But there is more, much more, to the Birchers than just this. At one point, the Birchers had "a minimum of 6,600 corporate-financed anticommunist broadcasts, carried by more than 1,300 radio and television stations at a total annual budget of about $20 million," which was an enormous sum in the early 60's.

Important Birch Society members were close to the Bush family and the close relationship between the families has continued to the present. The Birchers had major sponsors among Texas oilmen, of course, men like H.L.Hunt and J. Howard Pew. President George H. W. Bush was close enough to the Hunt family to say that H.L. Hunt's wife was "one of the loveliest human beings I have ever encountered." In the fall of 2004, the ambassador to Saudi Arabia is James C. Oberwetter; he was appointed by Bush II, and he was a high ranking member of the oil company founded by H.L. Hunt.

In short, the intellectual tradition, if you can call it that, that underlies Bushism is a branch of the conservative movement that's grown directly from the trunk of a crackpot tree. Since the 60's, the heirs to the Birchers dropped the more bizarre claims (no one's talking too much anymore about Eisenhower being a communist), and learned ways to disguise what they say (Dave Neiwert has written brilliantly on this; for a start, download his "Rush, Newspeak, and Fascism"). But they haven't lost sight of their end goal: to create an America fully in sync with Robert Welch's core vision.

Take, for example, the UN. Naturally, the role that an international organization might have in world affairs is a complex and subtle topic. However, the criticism and contempt Bush heaps on the UN does not address any of the real issues involved, nor can it, because it descends not from a serious intellectual engagement with the concepts, but from paranoid rumination.

The Bush administration's view of the UN and and the views of their apologists are directly analogous to the creationist assault on evolution. In both cases, there are serious issues and differences to be hashed out (how to respond to genocide/whether the punctuated equilibrium model fits the evidence for evolution). And in both cases, the people who are heaping the most scorn and garnering the most attention are completely unqualified for a serious, useful discussion.