Monday, April 23, 2012

Resign, Art -- For the Good of the Organization

Well, NOW I'm convinced....

In his address to the home office staff after dislodging Vance Smith as CEO of the JBS in October 2005, Art Thompson promised that he would leave that position voluntarily if he became a liability to the organization.

Man up, Art. Make good on your promise. You're an embarrassment to the organization and a burden on the hard-working people who have to clean up after you.

For the past three weeks, Art has done his formidable best to validate the common stereotype of the JBS as an insular group of aging reactionaries perversely nostalgic for the Cold War. In two previous installments, Art has spoken with and entirely unwarranted pretense of expertise regarding the supposedly malign influence of the RT (formerly Russia Today) media group.

Last week, the curators of the JBS Facebook page offered this binding guarantee:

That promise conjured images of the JBS's research department embarking on a determined quest to exhume the truth about this mysterious entity: Trained eyes would carefully scrutinize terabytes of detailed information archived in voluminous databases; hard-copy files would be plundered, and dust would be blown from the covers of venerable reference books, in tireless pursuit of long-forgotten but now-relevant biographical details and organizational connections. Phone calls would be made, e-mails dispatched; sources would be contacted; favors would be called it. In short, no reasonable effort would be spared to stalk the elusive truth to its lair.

After all, according to Art Thompson -- He Who Sits In Robert Welch's Seat -- RT is nothing less than a potentially lethal threat to our beloved republic!

A week later, after promising "hard facts" and "specific examples" regarding RT's campaign to subvert all that's good, true, and decent, Art provided ... a one-page summary of nebulous charges made by a former KGB functionary named Konstantin Preobrazhensky.

"So I hope that kind of clears things up on Russia Today," Art declared, as if this were dispositive.

"All right," one might say. "We're dealing with the world of covert operations, after all. Perhaps this subject is buried so deeply in mystery that the JBS was able to identify Mr. Preobrazhensky through an exception expenditure of effort."

Well, no.

The statement by Preobrazhensky that Art read was originally published by a silly little store-front alarmist group called America's Survival, Inc. That "group" consist of Cliff Kincaid, a gravel-headed dope who actually Red-baited Ron Paul, suggesting that the Ron Paul campaign is a Soviet-controlled operation designed to split the Republican vote and return Obama to the White House. Kincaid went so far as to file a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that an endorsement of Dr. Paul by Adam Kokesh in his RT program "Adam vs. The Man" constituted a "violation of the ban on political contributions and expenditures by foreign nationals."

Kokesh, of course, is a U.S. citizen. He is also a Marine combat veteran who has become an outspoken peace advocate and proponent of the libertarian principle of self-ownership. Kincaid is a Chickenhawk and -- as demonstrated above -- a statist tattle-tale. In this instance, Kincaid was acting as a Stukach -- a derogatory Russian term used to describe secret police informants.

"We must guard against foreign regimes and their puppets interfering in our elections," gloated Kincaid after RT dumped Kokesh's program. "That's why I filed the complaint."

Perhaps as a reward for his service to the Rodina, Comrade Cliffy could be presented with a Young Pioneer bandana and have his name enrolled in the ranks of the Pavlik Morozov Brigade.

This doesn't mean that Preobrazhensky's claims about RT are without merit, of course. The problem here is that Preobrazhensky, who worked for Soviet intelligence under cover as a journalist, is now employed by another State-run media organ -- Voice of America, which is more properly described as "Voice of the Government Afflicting America." In that capacity, this erstwhile KGB official shares such glistening specimens of lapidary insight as these: "Anti-Americanism has become the basis of Russian foreign policy nowadays. Hatred of America is hatred of democracy."

It's difficult to see how statements of that kind are anything other than clumsy statist propaganda.

Let's assume that RT is exactly what Art Thompson, Cliff Kincaid, and others of their persuasion believe -- a State-controlled media organ run by KGB veterans loyal to Vladimir Putin. This would mean that RT's Grand Nefarious Plot (tm) would include, inter alia:

*Warning Americans about the implacable advance of the domestic police state -- including personalized manifestations of secret police hostility to dissidents -- rather than urging them to support it;

*Urging Americans to diversify their news intake, rather than being content with state-aligned corporate media organs;

*Assailing key planks of the Communist Manifesto, including a central bank and a progressive income tax, rather than subtly advancing acceptance of them;

*Exposing torture-murder committed by federal law enforcement agents, rather than rationalizing such acts as somehow necessary to deal with "socially dangerous persons."

In brief, the KGB's disinformation agenda here -- assuming that Thompson, Kincaid, and Company are correct -- is focused on defending individual liberty and property rights against the lawless state, and cultivating skepticism toward the Official Line, rather than dutiful acceptance thereof (RT's corporate motto is: "Question More.") This putative Communist disinformation campaign contrasts sharply with the approach preferred by the "free" press in America -- namely, retailing the Official Line with slavish docility

Remember: At a time with the American media goes to ridiculous lengths to deny the existence of the Ron Paul campaign, RT was practically the only English-language news service to provide Dr. Paul with a mass media platform.  Perhaps that's why Cliff Kincaid, confused little child that he is, assumed that Ron Paul must somehow be a tool of the "Soviets."

Does Art Thompson believe that the people in his organization are so weak-willed and weak-minded that they will be caught in a propaganda undertow and become Communists through mere exposure to RT News? Apparently so. I can't imagine what Birchers could have done to deserve such an insult.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Finding Himself in a Hole, Art the Clueless Digs a Little Deeper (Update, 4/18)

Which one is the Kool-Aid this guy's been drinking?

Honestly, this is downright puerile. The guy must believe that he's addressing an audience of confused little children:

"OK, kids -- the glass in my right hand is full of vile, Commie lies; the one on your right --no LEFT hands here! -- contains the pristine waters of 100 percent, 'murickun TRUTH! I suppose it never occurred to you that as we're sitting here chatting so pleasantly, those despicable Soviets are polluting our precious bodily fluids! -- er, adulterating our patriotic discourse! I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist subversion, Communist indoctrination, and the International Communist Conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids -- uh, our otherwise Simon-pure news media!"

As if Art's little Mr. Rogers-by-way-of-General Ripper illustration weren't sufficiently convincing, he offers what to his confused little mind must seem absolutely crushing evidence that RT News is a vital cog in the machinery of Soviet disinformation: The fawning coverage they don't provide of tiny, stupid, insignificant Communist demonstrations in Russia and elsewhere. 

RT News is a government-funded media enterprise. The same is true of every major American media network, each of which is part of a vertically integrated corporatist entity that Dr. Andrew Bacevich -- a West Point graduate, Vietnam veteran, and outspoken critic of Washington's empire -- calls the "Military-Industrial-Media Complex." The biggest difference is that Washington is an immeasurably greater menace to individual freedom and international peace than Moscow.

RT News's American service is expansively critical of Washington's militarism and profligacy. This isn't because they are seeking to disarm the West so the "Soviets" can prevail; this is actually of a piece with its editorial policy toward Russia, as well -- something Art might understand if he took a minute to learn something about a subject about which he pontificates with imperturbable and entirely unearned confidence. 

The Russian government -- under Putin or anybody else -- is not a benign entity. This doesn't mean it is an enemy, unless foolish people insist on making them into one. There is no government anywhere in the known universe that is as powerful, corrupt, violent, and dangerous as the one ruling the United States of America. 

Vladimir Putin is a nasty piece of business -- but he isn't the one that forced Americans to surrender a huge portion of their earnings today; that wasn't Putin's KGB, it was the far more despicable terrorist entity known as the IRS.

In March 2005, about a year and a half before Art and his fellow geldings stabbed me in the back, I wrote the following essay as a "Last Word" column for The New American magazine. It dealt with a subject not unfamiliar to readers of that publication: The "convergence" between former Soviet Russia and the proto-Soviet USA. The reaction when I submitted it was ... interesting: Gary Benoit dutifully took it to Upper Management (aka The Realm Where Principles Go To Die); meetings were held; voice mails were exchanged -- and eventually I was told that it was simply unacceptable for the pages of TNA. It just wouldn't do, I was told, to compare the beloved President George W. Bush to Vladimir Putin. 

Bear in mind, this was the assessment of people claiming the mantle of Robert Welch, who didn't flinch from calling Dwight Eisenhower a Com-Symp.

This was the first time a "Last Word" column I had written was rejected by JBS management. It was published by Lew Rockwell, as were several other pieces  subsequently turned down by Appleton's ideological gatekeepers. 

It's worth recalling that in the letter of termination Art Thompson sent to me in October 2006, he insisted that "once we have rejected an article or nuance, you cannot go around us to post it elsewhere, identifying it as rejected material and publicly criticizing your employer for the rejection." In the specific example Art had in what passes for his mind, I had "criticized" them by the very act of pointing out that the piece had been rejected; I simply reported that fact, and let the reader draw his own conclusions. 

It was because of this tacit (if not entirely hypothetical) criticism of Leadership via samizdat that I was purged from the JBS, for which I have been consigned to the status of "un-person." Alan Scholl was the individual who instigated this, but Art Thompson is the one whose name was on the letter -- which is why he is exactly the last person entitled to accuse RT News -- or anybody else -- of keeping the Soviet tradition alive.

 Of Putin and Pig-Men 
March 4, 2005

Millions embrace him as the Dear Leader, an austere man with a steel spine summoned by destiny to defend the Homeland. Millions of others consider him an incipient tyrant, a figurehead representing a corrupt system. Many initially regarded his ascent to power as illegitimate, the result of appointment rather than election. But those misgivings were subdued after the deadly terrorist attacks that struck the nation the following September. 
Some of the Leader’s bolder domestic critics, carefully scrutinizing the evidence, accused the government of having prior knowledge of the terrorist plot. In any case, the Leader and his advisers certainly capitalized on the event. The power of the presidency was radically expanded, the security agencies were unleashed, police agencies were brought more fully under the central government’s control, and extra-judicial interrogation tactics – including torture – quietly received official sanction.
Just as alarmingly, the president himself became the centerpiece of a cult of personality. Despite a questionable personal background, the president’s supporters are firmly convinced that he is a sincere Christian devoted to defending the faith. Frequently seen in the company of military personnel, the president has been cast as a crusading warrior. One particularly memorable photo-op depicted the president at the controls of a military jet.

Is this a brief sketch of Russian President Vladimir Putin, or of U.S. President George W. Bush?


Like Mr. Bush, "ex"-KGB officer Vladimir Putin’s ascent to office was marked by irregularities. He was appointed Prime Minister by Russia’s then-President Boris Yeltsin in August 1999. A month later, hundreds of Russian citizens were killed in terrorist bombings of residential buildings. The resulting public outrage not only re-ignited Russia’s war in Chechnya, it also offered Putin – who assumed the presidency following Yeltsin’s January 2000 resignation – a pretext to proclaim a "dictatorship of the law." 

With an early presidential election called for May 2000, Russia’s state-controlled media, working in tandem with the Kremlin’s image-makers, relentlessly defamed Putin’s opponents, and began to build a cult of personality around the dour KGB careerist. This was an astounding accomplishment, given that Putin – who looks as if he could be Gollum after an unsuccessful makeover – has no discernible personality. 

According to Kremlin propagandist Gleb Pavlovsky, Putin was successfully re-cast in the role of "Stirlitz," a "dashing fictional KGB officer" from post -World War II propaganda films. The Russian public was regularly treated to "macho photo ops," such as Putin at the controls of a fighter plane, or handing out hunting knives to Russian troops on the Chechen front.

For all the superficial parallels that can be drawn between Mssrs. Putin and Bush, they made an oddly matched pair during their February 24 meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia. After all, it could be said, one of them heads an increasingly authoritarian and lawless government that is pursuing a radical vision of global revolution rooted in the teachings of the Soviet Union’s founders. The other is merely the president of the Russian Federation.

The essential tenet of the Soviet dictatorship, declared the regime’s founding dictator Vladimir Lenin, was "power without limit, resting directly on force, restrained by no laws, absolutely unrestricted by rules." The Bush administration has made extravagant claims of presidential power – to wage war abroad, to imprison "unlawful combatants" without trial both here and abroad, and to authorize the use of torture – that are in harmony with Lenin’s political formula. 

One suitable specimen of the Bush administration's neo-Leninism is found in a September 21, 2001 Justice Department memorandum written by Deputy Assistant Attorney General John C. Yoo. In that brief, Yoo claimed that it was impermissible for Congress to "place any limits on the President's determinations as to any terrorist threat, the amount of military force to be used in response, or the method, timing, and nature of the response. These decisions … are for the President alone to make." 

During a February 18 interview with Belgium’s VRT television network, Mr. Bush invoked that dictatorial doctrine with reference to a possible war with Iran: "You never want a president to say never, but military action is certainly not, is never the president's first choice. Diplomacy is always the president's – or at least my – first choice." Under the U.S. Constitution, which vests the power to declare war exclusively in Congress, that "choice" is never the president’s to make.

The Busheviks are also indebted to Soviet founder Leon Trotsky for the doctrine of "permanent revolution," through direct military intervention as well as support to surrogate movements in targeted countries – in the name of defeating "oppression," naturally. The shade of Trotsky could very well have ghost-written Mr. Bush’s declaration that "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." 

Like the countries over which they preside, George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin are very different. But as with the mutant pig-men creatures described at the end of Orwell’s Animal Farm, it’s becoming difficult to distinguish between post-Soviet Russia and pre-Soviet America.

Update: Look for Strike Three Next Week...

... according to this comment from the JBS's YouTube channel:

So right now the JBS Research Department is scrambling to compile a list of "hard facts" regarding a subject about which Art Thompson has been bloviating for the past two weeks. 

People worth listening to generally get the "hard facts" before they offer supposedly authoritative pronouncements of the kind Art has inflicted on us the past two weeks. This is especially true of people who present themselves as lonely paladins of reason, holding aloft the gleaming sword of truth in defiance of universal deceit and delusion, as Art did in the first installment. That was the program in which he assailed conservatives and libertarians, including Dr. Ron Paul and Lew Rockwell, who -- unlike the JBS -- consented to be interviewed by RT News, thereby making their views available to a large, politically aware audience on the sunshine side of 60.

It's hardly a news bulletin that Art Thompson is a dishonest, poorly informed fool. It remains a source of perplexity that he's actually getting paid to do what he does; most cranky, out-of-touch dinner table pundits do it for free. I know of more than a couple current JBS staffers who are weary of doing cleanup detail after a member of the ruling gerontocracy in Appleton makes a mess of things. I've not spoken with anyone in the research department, but I can't believe that duty of this sort is the best use of their time.

Monday, April 9, 2012

"Arrogance and Foolishness in the Same Package: How Efficient!"

Cluelessness coupled with alarmism: "Leadership," on the Appleton Model

If you can make it to the 4:18 mark in the most recent (April 9) edition of Art Thompson's weekly dronefest, you will be rewarded with the unvarnished truth about what he knows regarding the supposed menace of the RT (formerly Russia Today) television network:

"We have no real data concerning what and where this will all lead, only that it does not bode well if too many good people start to believe everything that they see and hear from this relatively new source for the news."

A clearer rendering of that thought would be: "I really don't know anything about RT, but I don't like it."

In any case, Thompson insisted, "When Moscow starts telling the truth, you can bet they have something in mind."

How devious of those perfidious Russkies -- telling us the truth! What chance have we to withstand this onslaught of Slavic guile? 

His mighty jowls tremulous with indignation, Thompson assails conservatives who recommend RT's programs as a better source of news "than Fox or CNN." He commends the example of the JBS, which has refused to grant interviews on RT "because we know what it is" -- except, as Thompson had just admitted, they don't. All they know is that it is a Russian government-operated news service, which means that it must be part of the ongoing and ever-escalating Communist assault on the Bastion of All Righteousness -- which, in defiance of any reasonable assessment of the evidence, Thompson insists originates in Moscow. Oh, and apparently Beijing is in on the deal, as well, since the wily Chinese are actually building business relationships in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Pay no attention to the hundreds of U.S. military installations pockmarking the globe; discount entirely the half-dozen wars (both direct and proxy) being waged by Washington in every continent and clime; plug your ears and scream really loud whenever someone points out that the U.S. military budget is roughly equal to that of the rest of the world combined. According to Thompson, America is "being surrounded by the Chinese and the Russians through the Communist empire in Latin America, while all of our people are overseas." 

At what point does cluelessness become a clinical condition?


To the extent that one can identify a point in Thompson's most recent harangue, it would appear to be this:

RT News is a diabolical Communist plot to distract conservative attention from the inspired agenda of the JBS -- as defined by Thompson, who as successor to Robert Welch (via palace coup) speaks ex cathedra on such matters. 

"There are three issues that, if we lose them, our free country could well be lost," insists Thompson:

*Extricating the U.S. from the United Nations;
*Withdrawing from the North American Union (formally called the Security and Prosperity Partnership);
*Supporting the "local" police to prevent them from being "integrated into a national police force."

"The Soviets are gonna getcha! Booga booga!"

 "Ask yourself: What other organization besides the John Birch Society is working on these agenda [sic]?" urges Thompson, who seems patently oblivious to a critical point:

None of the three issues he describes has anything to do with protecting individual liberty and property rights against State aggression.

We are already living under a State that is totalitarian in principle, and increasingly in practice. It already has a nationalized, militarized police force that is entirely unaccountable to the local population -- and preserving that monstrosity, rather than tearing it down, is the entire point of the JBS's revived Support Your Local Police campaign.

"Be very suspicious of people who promote RT, and attack the idea of ... 
supporting your local police," Thompson advises. Such people -- Yours Truly, presumably, among them -- are either paid agents of the Soviets, or unwitting tools of the Kremlin. 

No, really. That's what this fellow honestly seems to think.

 The senescent ideologues in charge of the JBS refuse to acknowledge that the "local" police -- which have always been the enforcement arm of corrupt municipal corporations -- have become the single greatest threat to the life, liberty, and property of Americans. So devoted are Thompson and his insular clique to the SYLP dogma that they recently recently fired TNA contributor Becky Akers after she published a splendid essay demonstrating that police have always been a standing army of occupation.
Regarding the police, the posture of the JBS ... no, wait; the word "posture" really doesn't describe a pose of supine submissiveness. Although Thompson will honk and grunt about making police "accountable" to local populations, the official SYLP manual makes it clear that any effort to enforce accountability  is to be regarded as subversive:
"The local police are not your enemy. Your committee is not here to attack them, blame them for violating the Constitution or your civil liberties because they are enforcing a measure of the Patriot Act or conducting a joint Federal and State anti-terror drill. Those are federal issues, which the local police in some cases may have already have little to no say if they are to continue receiving their additional Homeland Security funds, new equipment and weaponry.... We urge all responsible citizens in this community to work with us to ...[s]upport our local police in the performance of their duties [and] oppose all harassment or interference with law enforcement personnel as they carry out their assigned tasks.... [We must accept] our responsibilities to our local police, to defend them against unjust attacks, make them proud and secure in their vital profession, and to offer them our support in word and deed wherever possible." (Emphasis added.)

This paragraph frankly acknowledges that nationalization of the police is a fait accompli, and insists that among the "responsibilities" of citizens "to our local police" is the obligation to support them uncritically so that they can continue to receive federal subsidies

One of the most valuable things about RT is its coverage of atrocities committed by local affiliates of the militarized Homeland Security State, as well as the assault on rudimentary guarantees of individual liberty -- via the NDAA, the institutionalization of torture, the effective abolition of habeas corpus, summary assassination by presidential decree, and so on. They've also provided good coverage of the entrenchment of the corporatist oligarchy subsequent to the 2008 crash -- a situation not dissimilar to the rise of the Russian oligarchs during the early 1990s. 

If Thompson were a thinking person, he might suspect that the Russians, having lived through the kind of state America has become, are better equipped to recognize what's happening here and warn us about it.

It isn't "Soviet" troops who are kicking in doors and shooting Americans in their own homes; the black or olive-dram uniforms worn by the grim-faced, bucket-helmeted enforcers who patrol American streets don't display the Hammer and Sickle, or the UN seal; the thugs who abduct innocent people and spirit them away to be tortured in east European torture dungeons aren't employed by the KGB. This is all being done by the government in Washington. Thanks to the culpable incompetence of the people who call themselves its "leadership," the JBS is doing nothing of consequence to stop it.