The Omaha World-Herald
||"Former Nebraska governor [Republican] Kay Orr attributes some of the
political divergence [between NE and IA] to differences between the World Herald and the
Des Moines Register ..."
-Omaha World-Herald, 11/13/00
Fox newsroom slogan: "It's better to be first than right, and better to be Right than
Left." -How different is the Omaha World-Herald?
Nebraska's "brain drain" undoubtedly has multiple causes, but the World-Herald's
narrow partisanship is certainly one of them. "Employee ownership" of the paper
is a front; one man calls the tune. Former State Senator Chip Maxwell, a moderately
liberal (but staunchly pro-life) legislator, says that when he wrote
editorials at the WH, they would be rewritten so thoroughly by Woody Howe or John
Gottschalk that he couldn't recognize them. As Executive Editor Larry King explained (WH
2/24/02): "The editor of the editorial page executes the newspaper's editorial policy
as determined by our publisher," Gottschalk at the time, whose openness to the views
of others was revealed during his tenure on the commission deciding the location of a new
Arts Center. He favored destruction of several beautifully restored historic properties
for a parking lot adjacent to the new center. The owners of the buildings argued that
their preservation would enhance the charm of the area, and tried to negotiate with
Gottschalk, whose five-word response to them was: "Take it or leave it."
Ironically, when the old Swanson plant was demolished to make room for the Arts Center,
one of the historic properties, "Frankie Paine's," both a home and a business,
was accidentally smashed by debris.
Incidentally, this is not the first time a WH publisher showed his contempt for preserving
our architectural heritage: Harold Anderson was instrumental in demolishing Jobber's
Canyon, the largest Historic District ever destroyed in the US, but that's another story.
Instead of opening up a vast horizon of ideas, the WH's conservative, restricted,
provincial perspective presents the world as if seen from a small town 1950s Mississippi
Delta sheriff's office. This depressing conservative slant does influence the area's
political culture. One result is the surprising gap between Nebraska and neighboring Iowa.
Although like us geographically, Iowa is ahead of us in most measures of quality of life,
a much more progressive state politically, ranking among the top ten states in the nation
for voter turnout (WH 12/9/02), while Nebraska stagnates (the three poorest counties in
the entire nation are in Nebraska -WH 12/31/00).
Rainbow Rowells column (1/1/01) quoted a visitor in town for the holidays, about the
anti-gay Proposition 416, Every time I consider moving back, Nebraska does something
to remind me why I left.
"Former Nebraska governor [Republican] Kay Orr attributes some of the political
divergence [between NE and IA] to differences between the World Herald and the Des Moines
Register ..." -WH 11/13/00.
Let's look at the WH in more detail, including a sampling of their narrow conservative
1. Editorial cartoonist Jeff
2. Public Pulse.
3. News, editorials, features,
4. Jobber's Canyon: the untold story.
One: The WHs Great Anti-Imperialist Crusade of 1900.
Section Two: The Truth About Vietnam.
6. The Challenger: Frances
Part One: Editorial
cartoonist Jeff Koterba
Legitimate editorial cartoonist, drooling moron, or partisan propagandist? You decide.
I'm told Jeff Koterba's really a nice guy in person, a jazz musician, and that may be
true. He denies he's a GOP shill, claims to be a "passionate centrist," whatever
that might mean (to me, the phrase evokes Bill Keane's "Family Circus" in the
Sunday comics), but his editorial cartoons certainly come across as crude GOP propaganda.
See for yourself. Here's a year and a half's worth:
6/14/01 Cartoon: Local working folk, crabby and spoiled by unions, always want more. They
already have Labor Day, why Septemberfest?
[For the reality of workers' lives & political influence, see
6/15/01 Bush is right to reject the used car junker, the Kyoto Treaty.
[Reality: http://www.whrc.org/globalwarming/warmingearth.htm -Kyoto Protocol]
6/17/01 Ridiculing FDA concerns about salmonella danger in runny eggs. [Too eager to cater
to anti-gummint prejudices, this turned out to be premature. The FDA had said no such
thing. Egg on J. Koterba's Teflon face? Retraction? Never!]
6/18/01 (More global warming). Poor innocent old GOP elephant finds it ironic that he's
accused of being "closed minded," when it's the Democrat donkey slandering Bush
with "poisoning our planet" and "killing our kids." [No Dem official
accused Bush personally of any such thing, but for hard scientific data on the grim truths
about environmental policies and their consequences, see http://dieoff.org/ ]
6/22/01 Dems are deceptive about the Patients' Bill of Rights.
6/24/01 Summer reading for kids: Mayor Fahey's "horror story," the Living Wage.
6/26-7/5 K's on vacation: guest cartoonists continue the attack on the Patients' Bill of
7/8/01 Wimps complain of the record heat [see 6/15].
7/10/01 Condit scandal: What would Clinton do? [Analysis of Clinton-bashing:
7/12/01 An anti-Bush cartoon! He hit himself in the head with the anti-gay Salvation Army
bell. [His "Faith-Based Initiatives" came under fire when it was learned the
Salvation Army (anti-gay) would use a million dollars of tax money to fight
7/16/01 Yet another anti Living Wage. [On which: http://www.newparty.org/livwag/ ]
7/17/01 Raft (surplus) threatened by shark (spending) [Not by Dubya's tax cuts? Not by
spending on the military? Reality, in easy chart form: Tables 4 and 6 of the Nov/Dec 2003
issue of Defense Monitor: http://www.cdi.org/news/defense-monitor/dm.pdf ]
7/19/01 Working folk could compromise & name the riverfront park the "Labor Lewis
Union Clark AFL-CIO Sacagawea Park." Ha, ha.
Equally mean-spirited guest cartoonist: Jimmy Carter throwing rocks at Bush from glass
house labeled "Habitat for Inanity."
8/2/01 Clinton, moved to Harlem, singing, prompts a reaction: Hey, keep the noise down,
property values were going up. (And if he'd moved to an all white 'hood? He'd be attacked
for bringing values down: no-win).
9/11 Terrorist attack
9/27/01 Uncle Sam with a can of Roach Rid, and a dopey kid with a Peace symbol T-shirt:
"Wait! Why not just try talking to them instead?" Exterminate the sub-humans.
Called on this by a UNL Prof, the WH was forced to try to defend it (10/5): "If
Krejci's analysis were correct, what would be the point of the cartoon? Depicting
terrorists as roaches would be a sort of visual name-calling, not much more." But
"most editorial cartoonists -including Koterba- strive for a higher level ..."
It's not "the crude propaganda trick Krejci alleges." [If you say so.]
12/3/01 By bringing up the downturn in the economy (really Clinton's fault, doncha know),
the Dems start the "downturn in civility."
12/23/01 "Another Polluted Site," Ernie Chambers' yard, in which are signs like
"Non-white and poor children don't rank high on the agenda of white
politicians," which plainly offends Massa K's delicate sensibilities.
12/24/01 Cat reaching through mouse-hole for rat labeled "Osama." (From roach to
12/30/01 K displays his appreciation of our architectural heritage: Omaha Performing Arts
Center performance spoiled by hacking, coughing, wheezing slob labeled "Preserve the
1/7/02 [Sympathy for Clinton after his dog Buddy hit by car? Are you kidding?] The
cartoon: His bored cat Socks sneaks away in disgust as Bill Clinton reminisces about
Buddy. [2/22/04, Bushs dog died: No nasty unsympathetic cartoon appeared.]
c1/25/02 Warm spell evokes global warming hysterics.
1/28/02 Arafat: "What weapons?" Predictable simplistic mainstream view that
Palestinians have no right to defend themselves. [Reality: Editorial, "on the edge of
the abyss," in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, c. 1/24/02. Many Israelis understand
& oppose where their Rightist government is taking them. See 3/25/02, below.]
1/30/02 Omigod! Even K can't go along with Cheney's refusal to turn over records.
2/6/02 Although military spending accounts for more than everything else added together [
http://www.cdi.org ], Dubya seeks budget cuts only in social programs. K's view: Bush in
an F-16, his path blocked by a herd of pigs. (Note: As his 2004 re-election approached,
Dubya reversed course and spent so much he evoked the wrath of fiscal conservatives.)
2/7/02 Daschle's the villain for opposing the phony "stimulus" package (more tax
cuts for the rich). [K never took Econ 101: "marginal propensity to consume."
Again, by 2003 the irresponsibility and unfairness of the tax cuts was finally arousing
2/13/02 Shame on these kids, they should just say no to their abusers. A firestorm of
outraged letters appeared (most on 2/16): "ignorance and insensitivity,"
"disgusting," "shocked & sickened," "saddened &
angry." [Hey, wake up! Waddya expect? This is the World-Herald! This is Jeff
Koterba!] See Rainbow Rowell's thoughtful column of 2/20.
2/15/02 K supports the GOP: Inhibiting the ability of corporations to buy elections is
inhibiting free speech. [A sudden ACLU convert!]
2/25/02 Another one against campaign finance reform, backed up by a George Will op-ed and
by a letter from Omahas Curmudgeon-in-Chief, Lee Terry Sr., who for years got to
spout off his benighted Rush Limbaugh type opinions as a newscaster/commentator. His
name-recognition factor got his son, Lee Terry Junior, elected to Congress. Just what we
needed, yet another mediocre, conservative, white male corporate lawyer. Stuck in endless
on-the-job training, Juniors turned out to be an ineffectual party-line lapdog. No
surprise, Senior thinks restricting corporate propaganda means different ideas will
be gagged. As they were on his TV show?
2/27/02 [Not a GOP shill?] Dem donkey attacking innocent Bush judicial nominees. [No
cartoon would appear about Rumsfeld's scheme for a global propaganda arm, the Office of
Strategic Influence, which he dropped that very same day -a perfect cartoon opportunity.]
2/28/02 Another anti campaign finance reform; it would trample the Constitution underfoot.
c3/1/02 Gas station hose stretches across Atlantic, while ignoring our own vast reserves.
[Wrong. Letter 3/12: US has only 3% of world's reserves. Cartoons always based on the
least possible knowledge, the minimum information, the slightest, vaguest awareness of
reality. His cartoon images always reflect the most common myths and propaganda, never the
result of careful research or expertise.]
3/8/02 Attack Daschle for daring to open discussion about Der Leader's conduct of the war.
Accompanied by letters from two Rightist regulars, Mark Shiller and Mark D. Anich, who
actually says "love it or leave it." [In reality, if the Dems are guilty of
anything, it's that they initially failed to see through Karl Rove's irresponsible
militarist strategy, or at least to speak out more strongly against it:
3/13/02 Mushroom clouds over DC. Dopey peacenik with sign: "Leave Iraq Alone."
Uncle Sam: "you were saying?" [Far cry from actual peace movement concerns for
civilian casualties. And, as even hawkish arms inspector David Kay finally admitted in
January of 2004, there was no nuclear threat from Iraq. But a good propagandist would do
all he could to whip up hysteria.]
3/17/02 Gays can't be good parents, it's too confusing for a girl to come home from school
to two moms. [Huh?]
3/18/02 [Not a GOP shill?] Donkeys have literally lynched judicial nominee Pickering from
a tree. [A simple test: was there ever an equivalent cartoon during the years of the GOP's
obstruction of Clinton's nominations? Nominations which, incidentally, scored far higher
on the ABAs ratings than Bushs nominees.]
3/21/02 After several letters on how bad K's recent cartoons are, the WH runs an editorial
about great he is, he was nominated for some award (from the "liberal" media
establishment, no doubt).
3/25/02 Arafat's behind the suicide bombers. [ (I'll bet Arafat wishes he could control
what happens!) Again, vague impressions in place of nuanced understanding. Meanwhile, on
page one: "Israel making plans for assault ..." Even proponents of all-out
attack & occupation "doubt it would end all Palestinian attacks." One
official says "all the Palestinian have to do to win is to survive." ...Ominous
implications of genocide (maybe we can fix it so they don't survive), the path prepared by
3/27/02 Letter defending K: "is not an unfeeling moron....I admire his
tenacity." [Ah, that's what you call it!]
4/12/02 Critical of debate over ANWR. [Guess which side he's on.]
4/21/02 [Recession leads to painful budget cuts at the State & local level. For
example, it was reported that OPD response times to 911 calls were lengthened by
cutbacks.] Cartoon: the Unicameral surrounded by a mob of hogs. [To the ignorami and the
haters of gov't, it's all pork.]
4/30/02 Bush playing "Iraq Attack" board game with Saddam, but handicapped by
all these pesky rules of international law (while juggling a bowling ball). [See the
parody at http://www.theonion.com/onion3836/bush_seeks_un_support.html]
The next day, AP reports "Investigation Can't Link 9/11 to Saddam." So, linkage
After another year and a half of spin-doctoring, a noted study found that 80% of those who
derived their news from Fox News believed that Saddam was behind 9/11, while only 23% of
those who derived their news from PBS or NPR had such misperceptions. Little doubt where
WH readers fell on this spectrum. Overall, the news media did a terrible job of informing
the public: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/16922
5/1/02 [Predictable:] Dour old judge bringing his gavel down on the head of the choir
director of Woodbine school. [While an appeal was in progress, the Judge had suspended
their plans to sing the Lord's Prayer at graduation.]
5/5/02 Clinton hosting a talk show: Viewer "seriously nauseated."
5/6/02 Let pilots carry guns on planes. [Or anyone with pilot I.D.? Simultaneous with DOT
hearings on non-lethal weapons. Why are alternatives to guns so unthinkable in our
5/16/02 [Critical of Bush! Twice a year, to claim nonpartisanship.] Bush on Air Force One
selling pictures to GOP donor list. [Shocking disloyalty to Der Leader brought protest
letters from stunned Neberskies.]
5/18/02 [Dems even get attacked for imaginary sins!] If Bush had acted before 9/11:
Democrat donkeys would have screamed "Warmonger!" "Idiot!"
5/21/02 [Critical of Bush!] Bush anti trade with Cuba but pro trade with China.
6/4/02 [Critical of Bush! But this'd be the last one for a very very long time --gotta
think about the midterms coming up. Besides, its critical of Bush for the wrong
reason -Dubya was finally forced to acknowledge the evidence on greenhouse gases when the
NAS report came out.] Cartoon: "George W Gore" now believes in global warming.
[I sent K a long letter packed with the science of climate change and after several
exchanges he finally allowed as well gosh maybe there might be something to it after all,
duh. Had never bothered to research it on his own, but yet felt qualified to ridicule Gore
& others, who had.]
6/28/02 [He didn't pay attention to what the appeals court actually said:] Kids in class:
"Miss Smith! Nathan used the 'G' word!"
7/4/02 Picky judge yelling at Thomas Jefferson for reference to a Creator. [a) Jefferson
didn't use the phrase, it was inserted later, b) The Declaration of Independence isn't the
law of the land, the Constitution is, with its Bill of Right to protect minority opinions,
c) It's easy (and typical of K) to side with the inflamed majority against the Bill of
7/22/02 Smiling white suburban mom in car waiting for her kid. Car's sticker: "My
child is an honor student." Smiling little boy with sticker on his back-pack:
"My mom didn't use day care." [Message: good mothers don't send their kids to
day care. They don't work. If you're not rich and have to work, well, screw you! Your
kid'll never be an honor student. --As with 2/13/02, Rainbow Rowell provided a thoughtful
counterpoint to this nasty idiocy. Must be tough working at the same paper.]
8/5/02 Statue of Liberty :"Give me your Muslim extremists yearning to kill
Americans." [I wrote him the following:]
And of course, to be fair, a matching cartoon: "Give me your Christian extremists,
yearning to kill Americans."
Their lesser toll certainly isn't from lack of trying. After all, William Pierce's
followers envision using the Grand Canyon as a mass grave for the Jews, race-mixers,
leftists, atheists, gays, and all. And Christian Identity (of which there is a chapter in
Nebr) believes Satan mated with Eve to produce the black race (or the Jews, depending on
which branch of the cult you consult). And Timothy McVeigh set off his bomb in retaliation
for the death of the messiah, David Koresh. And so on. (Check out
So, how about it? Equal time for denunciation of Christian terrorists as well?? Or is it
just so much easier to demonize people of different ethnic and religious background that
self-righteous ethnocentrism is irresistible and inevitable?
8/11/02 [Cockroaches, rats, now mosquitoes. In the news: Minorities being stopped by cops,
"D.W.B.," etc.] Guy with paper rolled up (has a "West Nile" story),
about to swat the mozzie, which is saying "How dare you profile me! I'm calling my
lawyer." Ha, ha.
8/20/02 "Be careful on your way to school" to little girl dressed provocatively
in shorts and tube top with a playboy bunny on it. [Now, what the heck is this supposed to
mean? a) The girl's "asking for it"? Could K be that clueless? b) A sincere
warning? But why? Abductions are down, only the hype -like this cartoon- is up. c) Kids
don't walk to school anyway, because of this kind of hype & the fear it engenders, and
it's a shame, too. Walking to school through the seasons is a childhood pleasure. Both b)
and c) were subjects of recent WH stories. Maybe K doesn't read his own paper.]
8/26/02 Uncle Sam is listing Saddam's sins to a hopelessly stupid Frenchman, who says
"So ... no current evidence ..."
[I sent K this article by ex-Marine Scott Ritter, who has since become a nonperson,
vanished from the news shows because he won't play the game.]
Jeff; Beware buying into official propaganda versions of situations. Scott Ritter is
no ridiculous Frenchie the Frog figure, he spent seven years as a chief
weapons inspector in Iraq.
Published on Saturday, July 20, 2002 in the http://www.boston.com/globe/
||Is Iraq a True Threat to the US?
by Scott Ritter
RECENT PRESS reports indicate that planning for war against Iraq has advanced
significantly. When combined with revelations about the granting of presidential authority
to the CIA for covert operations aimed at eliminating Saddam Hussein, it appears that the
United States is firmly committed to a path that will lead toward war with Iraq.
Prior to this occurring, we would do well to reflect on the words of President Abraham
Lincoln who, in his Gettysburg Address, defined the essence of why democracies like ours
go to war: so ``... that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall
not perish from the earth.''
Does Iraq truly threaten the existence of our nation? If one takes at face value the
rhetoric emanating from the Bush administration, it would seem so. According to President
Bush and his advisers, Iraq is known to possess weapons of mass destruction and is
actively seeking to reconstitute the weapons production capabilities that had been
eliminated by UN weapons inspectors from 1991 to 1998, while at the same time barring the
resumption of such inspections.
I bear personal witness through seven years as a chief weapons inspector in Iraq for the
United Nations to both the scope of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs and the
effectiveness of the UN weapons inspectors in ultimately eliminating them.
While we were never able to provide 100 percent certainty regarding the disposition of
Iraq's proscribed weaponry, we did ascertain a 90-95 percent level of verified
disarmament. This figure takes into account the destruction or dismantling of every major
factory associated with prohibited weapons manufacture, all significant items of
production equipment, and the majority of the weapons and agent produced by Iraq.
the exception of mustard agent, all chemical agent produced by Iraq prior to 1990 would
have degraded within five years (the jury is still out regarding Iraq's VX nerve agent
program - while inspectors have accounted for the laboratories, production equipment and
most of the agent produced from 1990-91, major discrepancies in the Iraqi accounting
preclude any final disposition at this time.)
The same holds true for biological agents, which would have been neutralized through
natural processes within three years of manufacture. Effective monitoring inspections,
fully implemented from 1994-1998 without any significant obstruction from Iraq, never once
detected any evidence of retained proscribed activity or effort by Iraq to reconstitute
that capability which had been eliminated through inspections.
In direct contrast to these findings, the Bush administration provides only speculation,
failing to detail any factually based information to bolster its claims concerning Iraq's
continued possession of or ongoing efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction. To date
no one has held the Bush administration accountable for its unwillingness - or inability -
to provide such evidence.
Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld notes that ``the absence of evidence is not evidence of
absence.'' This only reinforces the fact that the case for war against Iraq fails to meet
the litmus test for the defense of our national existence so eloquently phrased by
War should never be undertaken lightly. Our nation's founders recognized this when they
penned our Constitution, giving the authority to declare war to Congress and not to the
president. Yet on the issue of war with Iraq, Congress remains disturbingly mute.
Critical hearings should be convened by Congress that will ask the Bush administration
tough questions about the true nature of the threat posed to the United States by Iraq.
Congress should reject speculation and demand substantive answers. The logical forum for
such a hearing would be the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.
Unfortunately, the senators entrusted with such critical oversight responsibilities shy
away from this task. This includes Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, a Vietnam War veteran
who should understand the realities and consequences of war and the absolute requirement
for certainty before committing to a course of conflict.
The apparent unwillingness of Congress to exercise its constitutional mandate of
oversight, especially with regard to matters of war, represents a serious blow to American
democracy. By allowing the Bush administration, in its rush toward conflict with Iraq, to
circumvent the concepts of democratic accountability, Congress is failing those to whom
they are ultimately responsible - the American people.
Scott Ritter is author of ``Endgame: Solving the Iraqi Problem Once and For All.'' ©
Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company
That cartoon prompted a letter 9/1, pointing out that Saddam received US aid long before
and after he gassed the Kurds in '88, and Hans Blix confirms that Iraq didn't expel the
inspectors, they were pulled out by the US just ahead of an escalation in our military
operations, and because Iraq was on to the CIAs use of inspection teams for their
Two years later, after all the damning revelations from David Kay, Hans Blix, and Richard
Clark, it was obvious that Scott Ritter was right, and Koterba and the Bush sycophants
were duped. Shame on them; it wasnt that hard to discern where the truth lie:
Then, on 10/4/04, a comprehensive investigation involving thousands of man-hours yielded
the most authoritative report yet. The Duelfer report concluded that although Saddam never
lost his desire for WMD, he had (because the UN sanctions were hurting so badly) complied
with UN demands and had deliberately destroyed all Iraqs WMD programs. There was
nothing there. Bush had lied. Apology from Koterba from being part of this deception? On
the contrary, spin it (10/8). Make up a fantasy scenario of what might
have been, depicting Saddam getting sanctions lifted, and one of his henchmen
sneering Now lets execute some children! (Oh, you mean like they did
when they were our ally under Reagan & Bush 1?) Days later David Brooks joined the
spin bandwagon, ignoring the other 960 pages of the Duelfer report to focus on
Saddams intent. David Kay remarked: intent without capability is
not an imminent threat. But neither Brooks nor Koterba nor the other Bush apologists
seem to be able to grasp that simple point.
Duelfer was the CIAs chief weapons inspector. The LA Times ran an interesting
summary of Duelfers analysis of the world as seen from Saddams viewpoint: He
assumed the CIA knew he had disarmed, but had to bluff to keep Iran from discovering he
A few days later and an Israeli security think tank issued a detailed report blaming the
invasion of Iraq for increasing terrorism, but what do the Israelis know,, eh?
9/10/02 [Induce hysteria.] Bedraggled survivors in the smoking ruins: Saddam had The Bomb
after all! [Versus the 9/13 article, p. 8A: "Experts say Baghdad is far from building
a bomb." Unlike with biological agents, it's impossible to hide such a gigantic
undertaking. Cf. Oak Ridge, Hanford, Sandia, etc. Iraqs former nuclear research had
been undertaken at the city-sized al-Tuwaitha complex, covering a hundred square
kilometers. Again, by 2004 the way the administration had lied to the American people was
becoming a hot topic.]
9/11/02 The best 9/11 memorial: Osama's grave.
9/18/02 A glaring eagle & flag, and a giant spray can of "OFF!" [Does he
even realize that's a brand name?]
9/19/02 a) Letter about 9/11: "I was appalled at the cartoon that a fitting memorial
would be the death of bin Laden ...more appropriate would be the US taking a leadership
role in promoting world peace." (Never in Koterba-land!)]
b) Cartoon: His ideal Americans, the typical petty-minded GOP couple in their humble
cottage, grumbling about those nasty pols always raising the property tax. (Better to cut
back on the public school system.) [Elsewhere in the same issue: it would involve a $73
increase on a $100,000 house.]
10/1/02 Two-headed snake, "Ossadama," with "Iraq-Al Qaida link?" on
its side. In reality Saddam's regime jails, tortures & kills all fundamentalists,
including Al-Qaida (at this time, they do have a presence in the US-protected zone in
Northern Iraq, as an anti-Saddam force). But fusing two of our enemies into a grotesque
"Ossadama" beast tells us "all our enemies are the same enemy,"
precisely the function the mythical master-villain Emanuel Goldstein served in Oceania in
Orwell's 1984. He could never be caught, so the perpetual war and the emergency that it
justified would never end, keeping the ruling elites in place for the duration. Orwell was
a prophet. See http://www.k-1.com/Orwell/1984.htm ]
10/9/02 [Science isn't his thing.] Fictional Supreme Court decision to let stand that
Quaoar will replace Pluto as the 9th planet. [Actually, astronomers were using Quaoar to
make the point that neither it nor Pluto are planets.]
10/18/02 Babbling idiot attacking Bush's "axis of evil." His word balloon is
punctured by North Korea's missile. [About which K knows as much as about Quaoar. See
http://cns.miis.edu/research/korea/overview.htm on Korea and their missile program, and
for weekly updates on the interface of science and politics (and some humor), go to
10/20/02 Blame Harkin (D, IA) for the 11 Hispanics found dead in a RR hopper car because
he's "soft" on immigration. [Prompted a 10/23 letter about how "tasteless
and humorless" it was.]
Note: Some of his cartoons are inoffensive. In fact many of them have no particular point
of importance at all (eg, 7/6, 7/18/01). That is, they are literally pointless. But it all
pays the same, eh?
10/28/02 Maps on Sen. Hagel's walls show he can't tell the difference between Iraq &
Afghanistan. [He's dared to express doubts about the wisdom of sending an army of mostly
Christian "crusaders" into the midst of the Muslim world's most explosive area.
Besides, look whos talking! The author of "Ossadama"!! ]
Latest estimate of what such a war might cost (WH 12/6/02): At least $200 Billion, and
possibly up to $2 Trillion dollars, that's Trillion with a "T." For comparison,
that's roughly 20 times what it would cost to eliminate poverty in America. But hey, look
at the upside: The gang of oilmen in the White House would get to control the world's
second largest oil reserves, and we could all go on setting our thermostats at 68 in the
summer and 84 in the winter, and keep driving our SUVs!
12/5/02 "John Kerry ushers in the 2004 Presidential Campaign" by throwing a pie
at an industrious Bush bent over the war maps of Iraq. [Should be "Koterba ushers in
the 2004 Presidential Campaign," and it doesn't take much imagination to picture what
that is going to be like, an inspiring model of intelligence & sophistication ....]
3/21/04 Sure enough, Osama in his cave, gloating over statements by Kerry. In response I
From: Jim Bechtel
Sent: Sunday, March 21, 2004 11:09 AM
To: Koterba, Jeff
Yeah, Kerry's giving aid & comfort to the enemy.
Say, isn't that the definition of treason!?
(Gosh, good thing you've assured me you're not a rabid GOP propagandist, or I might
He replied: Accuse me all you like. i will wear the badge proudly if that's what it takes.
.... You can talk the economy, jobs, till the cows come home, but, if a dirty bomb should
ever be detonated in new york city, well, all those economic efforts won't mean
(Note that he embraced the label.) I replied: You evade the point of your
cartoon. I'm sure alert observers will write to the Pulse to explain it. Aid & comfort
to the enemy is treason, and under your Leader's Patriot Act why shouldn't Kerry vanish in
a "Nacht und Nebel" operation?
Cartoon disgusted me
I saw Jeff Koterba's Sunday cartoon, and I found it disgusting.
My first thought, in fact, is that Mr. Koterba has become a paid agent of the Karl Rove
school of dirty politics. To impugn a sitting United States senator, candidate for
president of the United States, by blatantly accusing him of being so soft on terrorism
that he is the candidate of choice of Osama bin Laden left me sickened.
And I would point out that both Sens. John McCain and Chuck Hagel, in accusing the Bush
administration of engaging in low tactics, have said in the past week that there is no way
that John Kerry would be soft on defense or terrorism.
It's one thing to argue that Mr. Kerry's positions are wrong or disagree with them, but to
smear him as a friend of terrorists is beneath contempt.
John Haas, Papillion
As one snake-oil salesman to another, local quackery guru Michael Braunstein
immediately wrote in (3/27) to defend Koterba and praise his insightful
cartoons. I would have thought Braunstein was a New Age liberal, but I should have known
better. Both are just purveyors of unexamined belief systems, propagandists to the core.
In fact, it would be tempting to go further and call them pimps, in the sense
that they both make money prostituting their talents for gain at the expense of society,
but the difference is they know not what they do, innocent in their ignorance. (I guess
that excuses the harm they do.)
3/26/04 As if to thumb his nose at all those who object to his low-road tactics, only five
days after the Kerry is a traitor cartoon and 3 days after Mr. Haass
horrified response, Koterba again visits Osama in his cave, now reading the book by the
long-time counter-terrorism chief Richard Clark (who apologized to the American people for
being unable to get the Bush gang to take seriously his warnings about Al-Qaida).
Obviously Koterba intends to stick stubbornly to the Bush re-election battle plan:
Criticism provides aid and comfort to the enemy. Patriotism demands blind support for the
worst President in our history. Criticism is treason, crime-think, in Big
In August 2004 WH publisher emeritus Harold Anderson launched an almost non-stop series of
powerful attacks on Kerry which took me by surprise; the intensity of the junkyard-dog
Democrat-bashing revealed him to be much more of a right-wing extremist than I would have
guessed from his more moderate positions other culture war issues.
Given all this, the treatment of Doonesbury is ironic, if not hypocritical. It was removed
altogether for a while by stodgy men who didnt share its brilliant humor, then
brought back but quarantined to the editorial page. After a few years of this, the WH
editors must have begun to feel foolish, as the strip often contains biting satire but
equally often has no more political comment than any other strip. (Besides, most readers
could see that the targets of the satire richly deserved it.) And the WH must be under
pressure to open up and be more moderate. Editor Frank Partsch solemnly intoned that
Doonesbury sometimes repeated accusations as fact without the documentation
(as contrasted with Koterba?!?!), but that it was being returned to the comics page
because it fits well with the other comics now.
Well, that's all I've got the stomach for. You can predict it'll be more of the same, day
in, day out, from Koterba. Quite a depressing thought, isn't it?
But wait! There's more:
Part Two: The Public Pulse
Maybe I hang around with the wrong folks, but "Isn't the World-Herald just a horrible
paper?" will bring enthusiastic agreement from just about everybody I meet. And if
you ask about the Public Pulse, they just roll their eyes in sympathy.
One can envision various scenarios: A letter column where the editors screen out idiots
and strive to create a forum for intelligent people, a letter column where the editors
screen out intelligent comment and strive to create a forum for idiots, or a letter column
where the editors screen out those whose ideology they disapprove of and strive to create
a forum for those like themselves. Although they vigorously deny it, the editors of the
WH's Public Pulse seem to aspire to a combination of the second and third scenarios. When
it comes to comments from the Right, anything goes, literally. For eight years, for
example, no abuse of Clinton was too vile or extreme to be rejected, while getting an
unpopular view published was like pulling teeth, as many, many progressive people in Omaha
will tell you. In fact, most have long since given up and left the Pulse to the
Neanderthals by default. I recall S.W., a UNO Professor, author of several significant
works on social and political issues, who expressed surprise when asked about something in
the WH: "Jim, I quit reading that a long time ago!" It's a shame when
knowledgeable people have to avoid their home town paper -the editors of which wring their
hands from time to time over the state's "brain drain." Duh!. Some Pulse letters
are vicious, extremist, neo-fascist, others reveal a stultifying drabness and pettiness.
Here are some samples:
For just pointing out that Gore won the popular vote and for criticizing the antiquated
Electoral College in her column, Rainbow Rowell is attacked as a "feel-good,
flower-child columnist" with "rose-colored glasses," who should stick to
"writing about some tulip festival." -Craig Jorgensen of Valley. In perfect
Orwellian quackspeak, Laura Brommer-Ramsay calls Rainbow a "bleeding-heart,
tree-hugging liberal." Laura is "sick of her liberal leaning." 11/15/00
"For as long as I can remember, the word 'hypocrisy' has been epitomized by the
Democratic Party." -PL Butcher of Shenandoah. Another by him: Why should Bush pay any
attention to blacks, they voted for Gore! No favors, and "if that's not good enough
for them, then the hell with them."
"...the ACLU of Nebraska ... goes out of its way to support evil" -Alton Dawson.
Another: The ACLU is "the tyranny of the majority." (Exact opposite.) And one on
how great a source of truth Rush Limbaugh is (12/9/00).
More Alton Dawson: Upset over Woodbine (see Koterba 5/1/02), he opposes separation of
church and state and believes "something needs to be done about states rights. Maybe
Another one (12/17/02): We shouldnt bother to fight AIDS. That brought a reply from
the Director of Education & Prevention of the AIDS Project. And yet another of
Dawsons (1/5/03): God is not one-dimensional (as in God is love), but
approves of vengeance. The US has an obligation to kill Saddam. Thats Gods
will. This is the kind of stuff we get from the typical Neanderthal Public Pulse
Extreme exaggerations go unchallenged. Steve Kellmeyer, 7/13/02: "Family planning ...
always causes abortion." And the UN Population Fund in China ensures that
"children are being killed on its watch."
Environmental concerns are ridiculed. Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge: "Personally I
would like to see the refuge turned into the world's biggest parking lot." -Andrew
Sullivan, a notorious local so-called libertarian (anti-choice). C. Michael
Cowan says he "strenuously" opposes wind turbines. If you want them, put them in
5/23/02 Jimmy Carter visits Cuba. "It's only natural that two failed leaders and
socialists would have a lot to talk about." -Jerry Wagner. And Bob Buresh is glad
Bill Maher's show is cancelled. (Yeah, God forbid there should be any counterweight in the
media to all the Limbaughs, O'Reillys, Buckleys, etc!)
Day in, day out, the Pulses goose-stepping rural regulars,
crypto-racists, militarists and neo-fascists in all their fanatical glory, spout their
poison, like Walter Bumgarner of Arcadia (1/1/01, 2/11/01), Merlyn Braunsroth of Pleasant
Dale, (11/8/00, 7/12/04 -a blast at Kerry which prompted this reply from a Brett T.
Kobjerowski, : ... I can see where the writer misses the times when strong leaders
imposed their ideals and values upon their countrymen and countrywomen. Braunsroth must
wax nostalgic for the good old days of the 1930s, when Europe was under the rule of such
leaders as Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco and Adolf Hitler. ), Dale Earhart of
Beaver Crossing (1/22/01), PR DeMarco of Springfield (1/3/01, 2/28/02), Bob Buresh of
Murdock (1/21/03), Allen ODonnell of Wayne (1/25/03) and, in Omaha, Brian K Conrad
(10/1/01, defending the Christian Identity racist militia cult -look them up on
Klanwatch), Mark Shiller (12/17/02, 1/28/03), Bob Riedel (3/6, 5/14/02, 12/10/02), and the
Rev. Patrick Carroll (11/19/00), who represents the extreme right wing of the Catholic
Church, the old die-hard enemies of the Vatican II Councils reforms.
Nebraska was once home to Populists who fought the corporations and militarism (see Part
5, section 1, below), but a survey in January 2004 found two thirds of rural Nebraskans
supporting Bushs pro-corporation militarist regime. This reversal is an intriguing
transformation, which I assume some graduate student in History or Poli Sci will research
some day (or perhaps already has -let me know.)
Incidentally, I dont use the term neo-fascist lightly. The Nazis are only the most
well-known case, but fascism is seen by many scholars of political theory as representing
the chief temptation and danger to modern secular civilization, for reasons far too
complex to go into here, but having to do with reaction against the liberal Enlightenment
values of tolerance, secularism, and rationality, and fed by the alienation and anomie
resulting from the stresses, problems, and complexities of the Industrial Revolution and
the impersonal, urban, commercial culture it has spawned. Its a difficult term to
define (partly because of its anti-intellectualism, stressing action over theory), but for
Ive also appended a discussion of Umberto Ecos definition of fascism at the
very end of this entire piece on The World Herald.
The online edition of the WH now has a Comments section. Originally limited to
1,000 characters, it was reduced to a 500 character limit, apparently because it was
easier to develop an intelligent comment in 1,000 characters but much harder with 500,
encouraging rants, bumper-sticker slogans and superficial word bites. Actually, they
probably reduced the limit to reduce their workload. Jim Anderson said four editors are
involved in reading something like 800 comments a day, allowing only a few minutes each,
and what a horrid task that must be, as the Comments are far more histrionic, more
neo-fascist, than even the Pulse letters, mirabile dictu! (Soon they made additional
changes to further discourage comments, and I quit going there.)
Part 3. News, editorials,
In a sidebar (if thats the right term) the WH runs a column of what it believes is a
summary of National News (later Nation), which I think is
misnamed. In keeping with the papers superficiality & sensationalism, it should
be called Crime News. (Youd never know crime declined throughout the
Clinton era). A random sample of National News 3 days in a row:
6/14/02: 1) Columbine Survivor ... 2) Driver Gets 215 Years ... 3)
Man Turns Self In ... 4) Girlfriend Charged ... 5) Gotti
Said to be ...
6/15/02: 1) Ex-Aide to Bush Pleads Guilty ... 2) Former Senators
Wife Charged ... 3) Accused FBI Spy ... 4) Swimmer for Charity
Mistaken for Escapee ... 5) Missing Interns Parents ...
6/16/02: 1) Federal Death Row Inmate ... 2) Suspect in Killing ...
3) Man Passes Out, Runs into Woman ... 4) NOW President Retires
... [the one story out of 15 that was not crime-related] 5) Tour President
Charged in Theft ...
Now, I have to admit it seems to have improved recently (couldnt have gotten much
worse), but how did it ever get like that in the first place?
Inside the front cover is a kind of index, Digest, intended to summarize the news stories
within, but whoever writes these reflects the general scientific illiteracy of Americans.
For example, consider the progress being made in decoding the chimpanzee genome, and its
importance. So closely related to us, why dont they get AIDS or malaria? How do our
brains differ? A major report on this on 4/12/02 was referred to in the Digest as
Todays science trivia: Chimps and humans share nearly 99 percent ...
And of course the column titled People should actually be Show Biz
People. This is too obvious to need documentation. Apparently, celebrities of the
entertainment industry are the only notable People. In reality, this kind of
fluff is the true trivia.
The problem with conservatives has always been their ahistorical, ideological blinders,
which make it difficult for them to understand the nature of the society they live in. I
was presumptuous enough to submit a few facts of life to editor Woody Howe. Like water off
a ducks back.
Today (9/1/97) you wrote: "It would be hard to find a better tag [for the 1990s] than
the Decade of Image." I couldn't disagree less. You hit the nail on the head. We are
swamped with spin-doctors, propaganda, and sheer B.S. But you overlooked the roots of this
situation. In his book, Conservatism in America, Clinton Rossiter, a fine Republican
political essayist of an earlier generation, remarked that because America is a nation of
change, a purely conservative party would always lose to a purely liberal party, and thus
the party system stabilized around two similar groupings containing both liberals and
conservatives, dedicated to maintaining an image of centrism. Our first century was
dominated by the Jeffersonian ideal of an agricultural society with a minimal, inactive
government. The Industrial Revolution swept all that away, and starting with Teddy
Roosevelt and his "New Nationalism," America embraced the idea that we, thru our
government, must protect our social and natural environment from exploitation, protect the
environment, and actively "promote the general welfare," as stated in the very
first sentence of the Constitution. Unregulated "Free Enterprise" had failed
miserably, producing a J.P.Morgan on top, whose millions rested on "working 200,000
men twelve hours a day for wages that barely kept their families alive." (Historian
H. Zinn.) Men had to literally fight and die to force a change in the system. We
could debate the details, perhaps, but in broad outline the picture is quite clear to any
serious student of American history: the people believe they have the right, thru their
votes, to make use of the flow of wealth they create. Thus we tax ourselves to pay for
public schools, for example. But what of those who can send their kids to exclusive
schools, who have no need for public schools, and resent taxes? What of the political
heirs of Morgan? For most of the 20th century, they have had to bite their tongues.
But it wasn't bloody likely they would just pack up and vanish. Attitude surveys,
opinion polls, and political science studies of how the three branches of government
actually function (conveniently summarized in J. Harrigan, Empty Dreams, Empty Pockets:
Class and Bias in American Politics) reveal the facts of life of late 20th century
America. Americans are taught to filter out any evidence of class struggle, yet persist in
their uneasy awareness that the political system is biased against them. It should come as
no surprise that those with power and influence continue to use that power and influence
for their benefit at the expense of the majority, even to the extent of attempting to
reverse the progress we've made and attacking badly needed reforms. Just one example: the
United States is the only advanced nation in the world without a system of public health
care. Haynes Johnson and David S. Broder researched the behind-the-scenes fight by Clinton
to fill his mandate (overwhelmingly popular) to establish health care, and in their book,
The System: The American Way of Politics at the Breaking Point, they conclude that Newt
Gingrich et al could not let health care pass because it would have made Clinton too
popular and revive the Democratic coalition. But: How to defeat the people? By
image. It's nothing new. Listen to this exchange: Concern over our schools in the
1950s led Pres. Eisenhower to state that he was liberal about people's needs but
conservative about spending. To which his opponent Adlai Stevenson replied "I assume
what this means is that you will strongly recommend the building of ... new schools but
won't provide the money." It took conservatives a couple more decades to pursue Ike's
approach to its logical conclusion: change the subject. Not "what needs to be
done?" but "gosh, it'll cost money!" Reality: Our peak period of
prosperity was 1950-1970 (national income doubled each decade, 2/3 of families owned their
homes, etc.) and this coincided with wartime maximum tax rates of 91%, which were only
gradually reduced (by JFK/LBJ to 70%). Productivity rests on many things other than
tax rates (eg, infrastructure, R&D, etc) but wouldn't it be great for the powers that
be if they could convince people of the contrary? A Congressional inquiry in 1978
found American business was "spending $1 billion a year on grassroots
propaganda" against taxes, welfare, and the "L" word. (Zinn.) Given
the funds available to what C. Wright Mills called "the power elite," and the
linkages described by Harrigan (or any poli sci or sociology text) it's no surprise,
again, that it worked. One such linkage: campaign spending (in millions):
1978: GOP $59.2, Dems $14.4 (4:1 ratio)
1980: GOP $169.5 Dems $37.2 (4 1/2: 1 ratio)
1982: GOP $214.9 Dems $39.0 (5 1/2:1 ratio)
(Since then the gap has closed to about 2:1 as the Dems pursue "centrism" and
corporate funding.) The result of all this was the election in 1980 of a minor
actor who had participated in McCarthyite purges and then spent years in public relations
for General Electric: Ronald Reagan. By cutting taxes and boosting spending (military) he
tripled the national debt. I know you folks don't like to hear that, but there it sits in
the history books, in all its embarrassing clarity, shorn of the spin-doctoring.
Predictably the Laffer curve failed to materialize, and cutting social spending brought on
the usual recession, but what are facts to an ideologue? His chief of staff Don Regan said
Reagan had a "mind uncluttered by facts." But there was more to come. The new
monstrous national debt permanently changed the terms of debate in America. (Reagan is
credited by historians with being immensely successful as a political leader because of
this. They assume it was on purpose.) Never again can we discuss "what needs to be
done?" Henceforth we can only ask "what else can we cut?" And still more.
The old unspoken contract to share gains with Labor went out the window. As profits
soared, wages stagnated. (Surely this is too well known to debate? The more interesting
debate is HOW it happened. See Harrigan, among others.) And yet more. The Contract
with America. It was used to sweep into office the freshman class of what some pundits are
now referring to as "Shi'ite Republicans" who aren't interested in "what
needs to be done" because, like Montana militiamen, they view the government as the
enemy. Thus the "Contract ON America." The World Herald carried, on 11/19/95, an
article titled "Just Slogans, Not Contract, Were in Poll." It now turns out the
Contract with America was a fraud, the ultimate triumph of image over reality that so
concerns you in today's editorial. "Republican pollster Frank Luntz, a Gingrich
protege, ...merely measured the popularity of the strongest slogans that the contract's
drafters could come up with. ...A Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey ...found that by a
45 to 35 percent margin, the public disagrees with most of what the House GOP is proposing
to do." And just yesterday you carried an article, "Conservative Groups
Good at Pushing Policy," in which we learn that the nation's "shift to the right
[may be] not quite as natural as it seems" in view of the powerful influence of the
well-heeled "handful of conservative philanthropies." Corporate-funded
right-wing "think tanks ...have refocused national debate." Refocused it away
from "what needs to be done" and on to "what can we cut," of course.
Down with OSHA and EPA, away with taxes and social programs! J.P. Morgan's ghost lives!
OK. The bottom line is: yes, you're correct, this has become an age of image. But
didn't image first replace reality most importantly on the field of political struggle?
And aren't you, then, part of the problem? Noam Chomsky, perhaps somewhat cynically,
says corporations fund antigovernment propaganda because it (govt) is the only
institution left that is responsive to the people and it is therefore in their interest to
weaken it. Any sociology text carries a chapter on "social control;" how
societies instill norms and values, but Chomsky summarizes the topic succinctly with his
observation that "propaganda is to democracies what terror is to dictatorships."
Finally, I close with this insight from Australian social scientist Alex Carey: "the
20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance:
the growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate
propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power from democracy."
Traditionally, conservatism was understood to mean not the lunacy that todays
reactionaries embrace but rather the valuing of stability and resistance to change.
Obviously if youre on top this attitude is easier to maintain. But defending a
system against change requires you to reject the idea that there are flaws in society that
call for change. Thus the need to deny history (did we really need to outlaw child labor,
or clamp down on the sale of rotten food?). No wonder Hannah Arendt said conservatism is
based on rhetoric.
An easy way out for conservatives is to postulate some mysterious rays from Mars that
cause intellectuals to turn into Leftists. The obvious answer why they do, that to become
expert on the problems of society is to become aware of whats wrong and what needs
fixing, would be impossible to admit. This can lead to absurdities that expose the vacuum
at the center of conservative thought. George F. Will, 2/25/04: ...the
intelligentsia, which has leaned left for two centuries will now become anti-Semitic
because all their other causes have been discarded. Such cartoon logic from
La-La land, typical of columnists like George Will and William F. Buckley, reveal a kind
of polysyllabic stupidity, disguised by their ivy league vocabulary.
Another way for them to evade the obvious is to deny that people can take collective
action; deny that government is able to do anything well --outside the military, of
course. (Thus no point in trying to fix anything.)
Finally, another way to undermine the political consequences of critical reasoning is
through the corporate-funded think tanks which provide a forum for
pseudo-intellectuals who can appear on talk shows and lend an air of legitimacy to
ruling-class ideology (e.g., Robert Rector).
Roland Hathaway, commenting on Luke Helders pipe bombs (5/13/02): Theres
an antigovernment sickness going around that needs to be cured. Yet the WH continues
carrying gummint-bashing Right-wing columnists, long on rhetoric, short on analysis.
Speaking of Helder, he illustrates the dangers of encouraging gullibility, having made the
transition from Out Of Body Experiences to cult fanaticism. (Meanwhile, the local weekly
The Reader continues carrying New Age guru Michael Braunsteins quackery, which
encourages such gullibility -see my Braunstein Chronicles.).
Same issue, their main editorial, on child soldiers, laments that weapons are cheap
and accessible, without any acknowledgment that the US is by far the worlds
largest arms merchant, outselling its 2nd, 3rd and 4th place rivals combined.
Partisan hatred of ex-President Clinton has no expiration date. Omaha Democratic supporter
Vinod Gupta gave Bill Clinton an expensive coat as a gift, but Clinton sent him a
reimbursement for it. A WH editorial (2/18/02) bashed Clinton anyway, saying it was a
Neither in the Public Pulse nor in the online Comments will the editors allow criticism of
semi-retired publisher Harold Anderson to see the light of day. Whether its about
his role in the destruction of Jobbers Canyon, or the King scandals,* the editors
have revealed themselves to be as firmly committed to censorship to protect this fellow
member of the ruling elite as any editor of Pravda ever was to protect his apparatchiki.
(*Mondo was jailed on less.)
When Anderson opposed the expensing of options (most accountants said it was only fair to
do so, especially after the Enron fiasco), it was impossible for me to get a Comment past
the censors. As Mel Brooks said, Its good to be king! But in this case
Andersons defense of Privilege brought a storm of rebuttals anyway, in the Comments
and then in the Pulse. Wouldnt it be great if the Comments were uncensored? Like
glasnost, or the Chinese wall bulletin boards, unleash the publics right to dissent
from the ruling classs spin-doctoring? Not around here.
As former publisher, Andy gets a free pass to ramble on in the most
embarrassing way. Is anybody really interested in his descriptions of his junk mail or his
wifes dog? We all get junk mail and many folks have yappy mutant dogs. And could
anything be more tiresome than his curmudgeonly rants against immigrants, against wind
power, against this, against that, against, against, against.
And get this: UNO gives out an Andy Award each year to a Nebraska news media
whose coverage best enhances awareness of Nebraska.
To fill the Grand Canyon with garbage would provoke outrage: Dont use it as a
landfill, its a crime to deprive future generations of the pleasure of this awesome
sight. But what about the awesome beauty of the night sky? Light pollution is a
serious problem. UNL astronomer Martin Gaskell pointed out that the new lights on Abbot
Drive could wear little caps to make them more efficient and cut the glare, but Harold
Anderson flew to his typewriter to head off such nonsense. Old Grump Anderson loves the
Abbot Drive lights, and dismisses complaints about light pollution. I tried to submit a
Comment online. The first version never made it in to print, don't ask me why. So a second
version was sent next day to the Comments via the archives, where nobody'll see it. (As
mentioned before, Ive quit using the Comments.)
Anyway, "light pollution" is apparently something we are so used to that no one,
including Harold Anderson, is even aware of how the night sky can look. Among my fondest
childhood memories are looking thru my dad's telescope. The awe and joy of amateur
astronomy leads one to really appreciate the true night sky. I've seen the Galaxy from a
remote part of the Andes and it is beyond words. Unforgettable. Of course we can't see
anything like that around here, in town. We can get a fairly good view --but only if we
drive at least an hour out of town.
But to say, as Harold did, that what we see from inside the city is acceptable --that
light pollution is OK-- is ludicrous. That washed out gray imitation of a night sky, with
its few pale stars, is a pitiful substitute. To settle for that is so unfair to our kids.
That same day the editor called to say he couldn't run my letter about the Koran
(including: "...begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors.")
because some Mickey Mouse translation he found on the internet translates
"aggressors" as "transgressors." I argued with him that the context
(war) clearly favors the translation from my source, but he had to pull the letter until
he could "resolve" this. Do you think they subject those loony raving Right Wing
letters to the same microscopic examination? Haw!
Although they have started to allow moderate columnists to appear over the past few years,
the WHs most favored op-ed columnists still send shudders up the spine. The Rev. Cal
Thomas is a regular. In Secular West Cannot Grasp Taliban (3/7/01 -written
after theyd blown up the giant Buddhas but before theyd destroyed the WTC
towers), he opens with Exodus 20:3, forbidding idols, to explain why the Taliban are so
destructive. They take Gods word seriously, as should we. This and other columns of
his illustrate the peculiar unholy alliance of Muslim & Christian fundamentalist
extremists, united in their hatred of modern secular society. (This alliance has been the
subject of stories not found in the WH.) Agitators like Cal Thomas were forced to dampen
their fires temporarily after the 9/11 attacks. By 11/10/01 Rev. Thomas was advocating
using A-bombs against his former buddies, the Taliban.
The Religious Right still equates tolerance with moral decay, and will attack an editorial
like Bush Veers Too Far to the Right by claiming its a moral
revival that were seeing from Dubya (versus the reality of his gang of amoral
hoodlums like Ken Lay, John Ashcroft, Tom Delay, Karl Rove, Trent Lott, etc).
On a visit to Omaha, Cal Thomas spoke to a Religious Right group at Central Christian
School, and agreed with their condemnation of public schools as evil, and he
referred to their opponents as human garbage. After much correspondence with
editor Jim Anderson, I was finally allowed to print a softened version of a letter calling
Thomas on this, but Anderson deleted Thomass use of the term human
garbage. Why? He said it, why shouldnt he be held responsible for it?
In October 1996, a fundraiser at that same American madrassah, Central Christian School,
featured Josh McDowell of the Campus Crusade for Christ. He has authored 52 books, more
titles than fellow theocrat Tim LaHaye, author of the Left Behind series.
Julia McCord reported on McDowell's beliefs (WH 10/4//96), many of which remind one of the
assertions of LaHayes paranoid Mind Siege movement. McDowell claimed
"America has now entered an anti-Judeo/Christian age," and that
"[absolutist] moral judgments have given way to what is good or bad for the
community." (Horrors!) He says (and here comes the scary part where bigoted theocracy
openly attacks tolerance and freedom) "tolerance and justice cannot co-exist because
...tolerance says we must be indifferent and that we can't impose our beliefs on
others." He blames the NEA and the "values-clarification movement" in which
"teachers were facilitators who helped children discover their own values."
McDowell said "That's outrageous." If only he could do away with our freedom to
form our own beliefs and values, and impose the absolutist ways of his god, ....hey, if
that ain't the description of a madrassah, folks, I don't know what is.
John Rosemonds weekly column, ostensibly on parenting, is another example. We know a
lot about how religious indoctrination works, and to many of us Timothy McVeigh, the
Oklahoma City bomber, is a personification of the results of such brainwashing. Half a
century of social psychology has shed light on how we are socialized into our beliefs and
attitudes. But knowledge about the processes of socialization is poison to religious
absolutists like Rosemond. He sneers at the politically correct trend toward
victimizing the criminal by seeking a cause. He says looking for causes
ignores the Biblical doctrine of free will (5/22/01). Nothing in Rosemonds
background prepares him to understand McVeigh, so he resorts to asserting that McVeigh was
just pure evil. But worse than that, he actually says it is evil to try to
understand and explain McVeighs crime in psychosocial terms.
The wedge strategy of the Religious Right is to repeat such assertions often
enough to weaken support for modern secular civilization, allowing for the rise of
Theocracy. (See links at www.reason.ws .)
Part 4. Jobber's Canyon story
[gestating -will write this up and add it in later]
On later trip to Prague restored area expanded to where now is Paris of the east &
deservedly so, vs Omaha where magnif romanesque PO led to Landmarks Inc defeats, biggest
Job Canyon. Massive vandalism, white collar crime (more common than street crime but -as w
more common AFDC)
"Harmsen, an Omaha television news reporter in the 1960s, has owned 25 restaurants,
including Doodles and Gallagher's. Today, with Mahmoud Feddin, he co-owns two places named
Billy Frogg's, one of which is in the Old Market."
Interesting side-light on that: A popular waitress at Billy Frogg's in the Old Market
named Wendy was on duty on the morning of September 11, 2001. Wendy's outgoing and
cheerful, and above all, a caring person, and when the television showed the explosions
and collapse of the Twin Towers, killing thousands of people, she broke down and cried,
for which Mahmoud fired her! Sent her home, not to return. It came as a shock to everyone
who witnessed it. I'm sure current employees who were there remember it. Just a footnote.
Excised from history, down Orwells memory hole: Barely hinted at in the
WHs special commemorative section for Omahas 150th birthday,
6/13/04. Page 6: with the removal of ugly structures ... a new era is under
way. And page 106: Mike Harper and other ConAgra executives wrote a proposed
set of tax incentives that passed in 1987 as LB 775 ... the next year ConAgra broke ground
on its downtown office campus on top of the remains of Jobbers Canyon, which
is not even mentioned. (LB 775s give-away to the rich has been under attack ever
since for many valid reasons including lack of accountability.) Obviously
commemorative does not include commemorating our heritage or conserving our
culture; to the WH and the elite, it means more like adulation of them and their
Part 5. Imperialism.
One: The Omaha World Heralds Great Anti-Imperialist Crusade of 1900.
(Condensed from a longer work.)
On February 5, 1999, the World-Herald carried this brief news item from its wire services:
Filipinos marked the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the Philippine-American
War amid demands that the United States apologize for alleged atrocities in its former
colony. The United States has generally depicted the war as an insurrection by Philippine
bandits against its rule, but many Filipinos consider the conflict a revolution for
independence crushed by U.S. colonialism.
To the best of my knowledge, no comment on this item appeared in any local media. No
World-Herald editorials, nothing. The irony!
A hundred years ago Nebraska and the World-Herald played key roles in this countrys
first Asian war. Nebraskans suffered the highest casualties in the war, and the state was
home to a powerful antiwar movement, given voice by the World-Herald, which in those days
(believe it or not) was Democratic and progressive. In 1899, as the new century
approached, the country was torn by bitter debate over the war in the Philippine and its
meaning for our future, with the leading critic of the war none other than Nebraskas
William Jennings Bryan. Backed by the World-Herald (where he had been an editor from 1894
to 1896), Bryan ran for President on a platform of opposition to our Imperialist
adventure and the militarism it would bring to American society. Now, heres a
tale! --the story of the turning point that perhaps made us what we are.
The nineteenth century was a harsh world. Free enterprise, pure unregulated
capitalism, reigned supreme. Heres two examples of the way things were --for the
lucky ones, the employed. 1) In one year (1889), 22,000 railroad workers were killed or
mutilated at work. No protection, no compensation. 2) Mill owners preferred to hire small
children because their tiny arms could reach more easily into the looms. Of course,
complained the owners, sometimes the childs attention wanders (at nap
time?) and an arm gets torn off. If they survive, what can you do but fire them?
Theyre of no use with one arm. Now, in 1893 conditions actually worsened. The
country was wracked by a severe depression. In those pre New Deal days, with no minimum
wages, no unemployment insurance or welfare, no safety nets of any kind, people were
literally free to starve to death.
Depressions ruined lives in ways we can only dimly imagine, and the desperation of the
destitute was seen as a danger to the social order. The possibility of a bloody class war
that would destroy civilization, as depicted for example in Ignatius Donnellys
apocalyptic 1890 novel, Caesars Column, haunted Americans of the late nineteenth
century the way nuclear war haunted our own generation.
The concentration of wealth at the top and the impoverishment of the masses meant that
there was too little consumer demand, with the result that the system was top-heavy and
unstable. The recurring depressions (1857, 1873, 1893) finally led some critics to propose
a wider sharing of the wealth, to raise living standards and reduce class conflict. They
advocated an increase in purchasing power for working people, through inflationary
policies involving greater use of silver coinage. Bryan, the champion of those railroad
workers and those kids in the mills, advocated this in his famous Cross of
Gold speech. But many others, especially Americas nineteenth century ruling
class, wanted nothing to do with any sharing of economic power, which (as always) they
called socialism. They preferred to believe the problem was not poverty
(underconsumption) but surpluses (overproduction), and that
expansion of markets was the proper cure. Where would the new markets be found? The
western frontier had been viewed as Americas safety valve, but the 1890
census had declared the frontier officially closed. The war with Spain in 1898, ostensibly
to free the island of Cuba, provided the answer. Far off in Asia Spain owned other
islands, the Philippines, that could be the perfect stepping stones to the fabled markets
of China, with its hundreds of millions of customers. So it was thought.
This ruling class ideology is still with us. In 2002, while the average wage continued to
stagnate and millions of potential consumers lived in poverty, George Dubya Bush said,
during a visit to Iowa, Oversupply is bad for the American economy. The best way to
get rid of that oversupply is to sell Iowa pork in foreign markets (WH 6/8/02).
House Republican leader Newt Gingrich said the purpose of the American government is
to strengthen American companies in the world market. (Not, as the Constitution
says, to promote the general welfare?)
Four days before Admiral Dewey destroyed the Spanish fleet at Manila Bay, Republican
Senator Albert J. Beveridge of Indiana said: We are a conquering race ... we must
obey our blood and occupy new markets...The Philippines are logically our first
target. And a prominent editor of the time, Henry Watterson, said: We escape
the menace and peril of socialism and agrarianism, as England has escaped them, by a
policy of colonialism and conquest.... We risk Caesarism [dictatorship], certainly; but
even Caesarism is preferable to anarchism.
But in the Philippines the Filipinos had their own ideas. Under Emilio Aguinaldo they had
attacked their Spanish masters, defeated them, occupied the Luzon plain, and had
established a government of their own in Malolos. They understood from a cable of Admiral
Deweys that he was there to liberate them, so they expected independence. The
American general who arrived on the scene, E. S. Otis, did not share that understanding,
and he didnt know what to make of the Filipino insurgents. Everything remains
quiet, ...business as usual, he cabled the War Department, followed, two days later,
by very shortly they will give us battle. He claimed that rumors were so
abundant sane conclusions were impossible. (General Otis had been shot in the
head in the Civil War.)
On December 10, 1898, the U.S. proceeded to sign the Treaty of Paris which gave Cuba its
freedom but made the Philippine Islands American possessions. The Treaty would have to get
through the Senate. The Anti-Imperialist League was formed to defeat the Treaty. For one
critical year a debate was held about what path the country would take into the new
century. The Anti-Imperialist League included not just pacifists, prohibitionists,
socialists, single-taxers, and free-traders, but the labor leader Samuel Gompers and the
philanthropic capitalist Andrew Carnegie, second generation reformers such as Ralph Waldo
Emersons son and William Lloyd Garrisons son, and the leading intellectuals of
the time, including William James, Charles Eliot Norton, humorist Finley Peter Dunne,
Charles Francis Adams, and novelist William Dean Howells. One member whose name is still
recognized by the man in the street was Mark Twain, although few are familiar with his
bitter proposal to replace the stars on the American flag with the skull and crossbones.
The Treaty of Paris, with its annexation provisions, increased tensions in the
Philippines. Was freedom out of the question? Had they fought and died only to see a
change in masters? As 1899 began, Aguinaldos rebels warned, in their newspaper Junta
Patriotica, any moment a shot may be fired by an irresponsible American or Filipino
soldier. As luck would have it, it turned out to be an irresponsible Nebraskan. On
the night of February 4, 1899, troops of the First Nebraska Volunteers at an advanced
outpost encountered four Filipinos and ordered them to halt. When the Filipino Lieutenant
answered back Halto, Corporal W. W. Grayson decided the best thing to do
was shoot him. He dropped.
In minutes the whole line was crackling with rifle fire. Word of the outbreak of war
reached Omaha at the same time as news of ratification of the Treaty by the Senate. The
Anti-Imperialist League had failed to stop it. The World-Herald ran two large headlines:
Treaty Ratified by Three Majority and Filipinos Attack the
Americans. Their editorial expressed pity for the Filipinos, who would be
slaughtered by the superior American troops; for the American soldiers, who were required
to slay liberty-craving Filipinos; and for the parents of the soldiers who
must die for such a damnable policy. Thinking that the war would be over
quickly, they asked what we would gain when we have in fact suppressed this people
... only to look out over a bloody field strewn with the corpses of lovers of
liberty....A conquering people will become haughty, domineering, arbitrary, corrupt.
The World-Herald was, in the words of one critic, the most constant, earnest and
zealous advocate of Bryanarchy in the country. The so-called
Bryanarchists were the dissenters, the silverites, radical agrarians, and
anti-Imperialists within the Populist and Democratic parties who opposed the Republican
administration of William McKinley and its twin goals of Gold and Empire, as
the editors put it. Imperialism was seen as the spawn of unbridled capitalism, and as the
war went on the World-Herald opposed it in a hundred editorials, on constitutional,
economic, diplomatic, moral, humanitarian, racial, historical, and political grounds,
which I have detailed elsewhere.
American forces enjoyed superior weaponry. On February 7 the paper reported that a
river gunboat did terrible execution among the rebels, sweeping both banks of the [Pasig]
river with her gatling guns and her heavier battery. Hundreds of Filipinos undoubtedly
crawled into the canebrakes and died there. A Kansan wrote home, about the gunboats:
Their searchlights just showed us where they were, and those not killed in the
trenches were killed when they tried to come out. No wonder they cant shoot, with
that light thrown on them, shells bursting and infantry pouring in lead all the time.
Honest to God, I felt sorry for them. The WH commented: We take it that
Private Conley did not mean that remark in a sacrilegious sense....it is a war of
organized greed ...fought not by the greedy ones but by brave men, who declare
honest to God we are sorry for the Filipinos. ( Richard Metcalfe and
Will Maupin, World-Herald editors, were pious men. Both had published collections of
inspirational essays and poems. Thus the sermonizing tone.)
On March 31, 1899, less than two months after Corporal Graysons shot, World-Herald
headlines announced that the Filipinos capital, Malolos, had been taken, at the cost
of thirty-four Nebraska casualties. It was assumed the war was over. But the U. S. was
about to become mired in its first Southeast Asian guerilla war. The insurgents fled into
the jungle as town after town went up in flames. Nebraska Sergeant L. Ryan wrote home that
we are now engaged in a kind of Indian warfare. And, as in the campaigns
against the Indians, pacification had an ugly racist side. Majority of
Volunteers Complain That They Did Not Enlist to Fight Niggers but Only
Spaniards, the WH reported on April 3.
While General Otis continued to assure Washington of impending doom for the rebels, morale
among his troops continued to sink. By May the First Nebraska was petitioning Otis for
release from service, having been reduced to less than half their normal strength. They
had in fact suffered the heaviest casualties of any regiment on any front in the entire
Spanish-American War and its aftermath, and the survivors were sent home. An earlier WH
headline maintained that Nebraskans hurried back from hospitals for fear of missing a
battle, but later in the summer a different picture emerged: the troops had been on the
verge of mutiny and were sent home just in time.
When the Republican legislature in Lincoln introduced a resolution of praise for the First
Nebraska Volunteers, the Governor, William Poynter, vetoed it! He did so on the grounds
that it falsely claimed that our soldiers were defending in the far-off Philippines
the principles of our government. The Governor pledged the honor of the
state to our troops, but added that the conflict in which they were sacrificed was
at utter variance with the principles of our government. Such criticism of the
war was treason in the eyes of the Imperialists. Senator Beveridge said I have seen
our mangled boys, and he condemned the critics whose voices have cheered those
misguided natives on, to shoot our soldiers down. The WH replied that the guilty
were the men who make sacrifice of American blood in order to gain new fields of
But they couldnt hide a certain pride in the arrival on the world scene of the
highest product of Nebraska: the World Cowboy. The rest of the country had discovered
an intelligence, a humanity, a chivalry in the prairie lads. The world
has now become his plain. He has become a world power and everybody will congratulate him
... and it is to be presumed that the next European nation that gets into war will cry
aloud for him.
In that Spring, one hundred years ago, the World-Herald ran headlines eerily familiar to
anyone who followed events in Vietnam: It Is Real War Now: ....General Otis Believed
To Have Informed the War Department He Must Have More Men ...Rainy Season Complicates the
Situation and Reveals How Little of the Archipelago Americans Control. Manila, under
the Americans, experienced black-marketeering, and worse. The God-fearing WH editors were
outraged by stories such as this one in September: Vice Flourishes at Manila Under
Government Control --Most Horrible State of Affairs --Two Hundred Licensed Bawdy Houses
--Six Hundred Prostitutes --Hell on Earth.
Just outside Manila, three thousand of General Lawtons Kansans fought for days,
swimming the Zapote River under fire, for a gain of only 500 yards. Lawton was impressed
by the determination of the Filipinos: They waited until we brought our cannon to
within thirty five yards of their trenches. Such men have a right to be heard. All they
want is a little justice.
By July the First Nebraska was back in U. S. ports. The WH scooped its rivals by boarding
the troopships during their temporary quarantine. Interviews with soldiers critical of the
war brought cries of shirkers and riff-raff from Republican
papers, to which the WH replied that one of the shirkers was none other than
Corporal William Grayson.
Letters from the Second Nebraska, which was still in combat, reflected grim realities not
found in the papers pious editorials. Leo Fischer wrote that it did me good to
see the burning of an abandoned village, and an Omaha boy, Al Miller,
seemed to find the Filipinos reminding him of various animals. When the water treatment
was applied to them (a form of torture in which the captive was forced full of water
through a hose) they swell up like toads. Otherwise, I class them with a
hog or a dog. A Lieutenant Waugh of Plattsmouth casually admitted that his men took
a prisoner and mauled him up in a horrible manner.
But censorship ensured that the worst remained unknown. General Order No. 100 from the
Civil War was enforced, stating that rebels are violators of the laws of war, and
are not entitled to their protection and that they may be killed on capture because
they are not prisoners of war. General Otis reported the result: 333
fanatics killed in Aglipay with only two losses to the Americans, and he noted
that in some instances it was necessary to destroy villages. Cocaine use was
reported among the troops. It was blamed on the climate, not on the horrors the soldiers
were involved in. In an editorial pondering the important question of the need
for stimulants of white men in the tropics, the WH noted the instinctive desire for
... tea, coffee, cocaine or alcohol to counter the effects of the unnatural heat.
As the war dragged on, the editors began to write about its enormous cost.
American military appropriations had risen above those of France or Italy, to about the
level of Germany. And what do we get for the awful expenditure and the desertion of
time-honored principles? Recognition as a World Power and a welcome to the
turmoils and intrigues of Europe. Sixty-four thousand troops were in the Philippines
and the number was rising, McKinleys imperialism had resulted in doubling the
federal budget, and burdensome war taxes were necessitated by this folly, they noted. The
paper reported that the guerrillas were fortifying the mountains for a long siege. The
only solution to the war was a political one: to elect William Jennings Bryan and defeat
the Republicans, their selfish corporate Trusts, and their plans for the
United States. This campaign would determine what kind of a country we would become during
the new century. With the stakes so high, the paper campaigned hard.
The editors warned that the big money would all be arrayed against Bryan and working
people. When the New York Press gloated that the last vestige of the Jeffersonian
tradition is likely to be effaced in the coming election, the WH replied that would
be the downfall of America, and historians of the future would trace our decline to the
victory of financial exploitation as much as to imperialism. We enslaved ourselves first,
the editors explained, before we enslaved others.
Bryans speeches on Imperialism were answered by McKinleys on gold. The issue
of the campaign of 1900 became: what is the issue? On election day, Bryan lost with
forty-six percent of the vote. The World-Herald headline thundered: People Say Again
Not This Man But Barabbas. Having given it their all, the WH became
disillusioned and fell silent on the subject of the Philippines.
The war continued. War Department reports, unavailable until years later, spoke of shadow
governments established by the Filipinos simultaneously and in the same sphere as
the American governments, and in many instances through the same personnel. They
acted openly in behalf of the Americans and secretly in behalf of the
insurgents. General Arthur MacArthur noted the obvious: One traitor in each
town would effectively destroy such a complex organization. (Similar observations
would be made in 1968, about the Viet Congs Tet offensive.)
In March, 1901, Aguinaldo was captured, and the war moved farther to the back pages. In
Manila a pro-American party was formed, popular agitators were exiled, news
was controlled, and editors were jailed, prompting a court case taken all the way to the
Supreme Court. What about the Constitutions guarantees of freedom of the press and
freedom of speech? If the Philippines were now American, didnt American rights
apply? No, they didnt, said the Court, in a 5 to 4 decision. Americans came in two
classes, citizens with rights and colonial subjects without them. The World-Herald
headlined: United States a Part of an American Empire. It was just what they
Meanwhile, pacification intensified. At the town of Balangiga in Samar,
American troops were ambushed; no prisoners were taken. In revenge, General Jacob Smith
ordered Major General Littleton Waller to kill all males over the age of ten and turn
Samar into a howling wilderness. Wallers troops went to work. When word
of the slaughter reached General Adna Chaffee, he ordered an investigation that resulted
in the trial of Waller for murder, and of General Smith for conduct to the prejudice
of good order and military discipline. Congressional hearings revealed widespread
torture, disruption of agriculture, with resulting famine and hundreds of thousands of
deaths, and what today we would call human rights abuses in the conquest of
our new colonial possessions. In the same hearings, General MacArthur (senior) defended
the subjugation of the Philippines as the necessary stepping-stone to commanding
influence, if not political, commercial, and military supremacy, in the East.
The atrocity trials of Waller and Smith in the spring of 1902 roused the World-Herald from
its silence again, to exclaim that these deeds sound more as if they came from some
cannibal chieftain than from an American officer.... Advancing civilization? We are
sending it backwards.
In 1916 the Jones Act was passed, with a definite promise of independence for the
Philippines at an indefinite date. Gilbert M. Hitchcock, publisher of the World-Herald,
which had so consistently rejected the notion that any men can sit in judgment on the
fitness of other men for self-government, was now in the U. S. Senate and was, in fact,
chairman of the Committee on the Philippines. In this role he was instrumental in the
passage of the Jones Act. This law, the World-Herald now boasted, saw to it that the
Filipinos are to be trained in the difficult art of self-government as an
indispensable preliminary of freedom. With the adoption of the Imperialist notion
that Americans would decide for the Filipinos when they could be free, the
World-Heralds Anti-Imperialism was dead. Republican office holders had Bryans
statue removed from the rotunda of the State capitol. It has never been replaced (WH
And now the World-Herald can run a news item that says Filipinos marked the 100th
anniversary of the outbreak of the Philippine-American War amid demands that the United
States apologize for alleged atrocities in its former colony. The United States has
generally depicted the war as an insurrection by Philippine bandits against its rule, but
many Filipinos consider the conflict a revolution for independence crushed by U.S.
colonialism, without any comment appearing on its editorial pages. The U.S.
apologize? Like the Germans and Japanese have had to? Are you kidding? History is written
by the victors.
And the victors in the 1899 debate about the future of America were, in the admittedly
simplistic words of the time, the men who uphold the trusts, the advocates of
imperialism and militarism, the champions of corporate domination, the organized money
power and all the enemies of popular government, --in a phrase, the ruling class.
In brief outline, the arguments put forward around 1900 in support of Imperialism:
1. The overproduction theory of capitalism's cycles of crisis (versus the
inflationists plea to raise incomes).
2. Pressure for trade; the need for markets for surpluses.
3. Traditional manifest destiny, the transoceanic continuation of westward
4. The psychic crisis of the closing of the frontier, no more safety
valve. Nation at a crossroads. General aggressiveness in response; even reformers
5. Decades of involvement in Asia (Commodore Perry opens Japan in 1853).
6. Racism, the White Mans Burden.
7. Religion. Duty to uplift others. Missionary zeal.
8. Social Darwinism; the natural right of the superior W.A.S.P.s.
9. The outlook of Americas elites, destined to be world organizers (Sen.
10. From Indians to Filipinos, the proper use of the land (resources).
11. Geography; the Oceans joined us together (Beveridge). Nellie Bly had just circled the
globe in 72 days.
12. Extending the area of freedom. Thomas Jefferson's expansionism.
13. Selfdefense in the Pacific (defense of Hawaii, which had been a virtual U. S.
protectorate since 1875).
14. Natural growth. The State as organism.
15. European examples. The really important people conquer colonies.
In brief outline, the arguments put forward by the World-Herald against Imperialism:
1. American Exceptionalism. Dont neglect our true strength and follow decadent
Europe, but set a shining example, the Puritans City on the Hill.
2. Patriotic. The Constitution was trampled (5 to 4) by an Imperial Presidency.
3. Religious: the Prince of Peace, versus the Mohammeds sword approach.
4. Self-interest. Heal the class warfare that threatens civilization, instead of spreading
exploitation which will bring on collapse. Pursue internal improvements.
5. Humanitarian. Mowing down people for so little cause.
6. Concern over militarism, growing military budgets, glorification of
violence. A large standing army could be used to shoot down working men on strikes.
7. Economic. Cure the injustices of capitalism before subjecting other races to it. If the
problem is surpluses, develop our own internal market. Bad arguments:
8. Racism. Dont mix W.A.S.P.s with Filipinos.
9. Isolationism. Avoid involvement with the rest of the world.
On the future of the new American Empire: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/17013
Section Two: The Truth About
Part 6. The Challenger:
Another section not yet written, this will be a look back at the years when Frances
published a local watchdog paper. End with: Someone should revive WHO, or start a WHAMO
II. It could include an analysis of the stories from their wire services that the WH
Appendix on Fascism
The word is tossed around a lot, but what exactly is fascism? Our survival may depend on
our ability to recognize it when we see it .... http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/britt_23_2.htm
1. It's the "occupational hazard" of modern developed nations. As kids get
measles, nations get infected by fascism as they mature. Autonomy & anonymity are
scary. Taking advantage of alienation, the politics of emotion is a shortcut to power. See
Fromm, Escape from Freedom, and Adorno, The Authoritarian Personality for the psychology
2. It's not the same thing as anti-Semitism. The Italian fascists (who coined the term)
were notoriously reluctant to persecute their Jews to the extent that Hitler wanted, and
Japanese fascism was not big on anti-Semitism either. Whatever form fascism takes in
America it's unlikely to be anti-Semitic. (But you can bet there WILL be scapegoats,
probably secular humanists.)
3. It's not a synonym for "reactionary," although it shares roots & outlook
with the far Right. They certainly overlap: Both emphasize Order & Authority (Josef de
Maistre, b. 1753: "All society rests on the executioner's ax"), and both reject
rationalism and secular humanism, but fascism "lets the wild dogs bark," to
borrow Nietzsche's phrase. It plunges us into depths of the Dark Side not visited by
ordinary reactionaries. It has an almost religious dimension to it, what Nolte called
"pseudo-transcendence." But not to exaggerate the philosophical side; it
stresses action and sneers at formulating a coherent philosophy, which makes it hard to
conduct an intellectual analysis. Discussion of problems of defining fascism:
4. Here's one man's definition of it, Umberto Eco's. I wish the full New York Review essay
was available online, but it's not. I also tried to find Ibn Warraq's interesting use of
Eco's NYR piece to analyze fundamentalist Islam as fascism, in the Autumn 2001 issue of
American Atheist, but again not available online (there's still some value in hardcopy
print media!). Warraq was pretty hard on Islam --I think he could have made just as strong
a case about fascist characteristics in the more extreme fundamentalists of either of the
other two Abrahamic religions (cf Meir Kahane & Timothy McVeigh), but that's another
whole can of worms.
Instead here's an Utne Reader condensation of the NYR piece. Umberto Eco is brilliant, but
I don't agree with him 100% (nobody agrees 100% with anyone else on this subject). But
it's as good a short discussion as I could find, and it's accurate enough for our
purposes. [I've inserted comments.]
In spite of some fuzziness regarding the difference between various historical forms of
fascism, I think it is possible to outline a list of features that are typical of what I
would like to call Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. These features cannot be organized into
a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of
despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to
coagulate around it. The first feature of Ur-Fascism is the cult of tradition.
Traditionalism is of course much older than fascism. Not only was it typical of
counterrevolutionary Catholic thought after the French revolution, but is was born in the
late Hellenistic era, as a reaction to classical Greek rationalism. In the Mediterranean
basin, people of different religions (most of the faiths indulgently accepted by the Roman
pantheon) started dreaming of a revelation received at the dawn of human history. This
revelation, according to the traditionalist mystique, had remained for a long time
concealed under the veil of forgotten languages -- in Egyptian hieroglyphs, in the Celtic
runes, in the scrolls of the little-known religions of Asia [cf. New Age "chariots of
the gods" nonsense]. This new culture had to be syncretistic. Syncretism is not
only, as the dictionary says, "the combination of different forms of belief or
practice;" such a combination must tolerate contradictions. Each of the original
messages contains a sliver of wisdom, and although they seem to say different or
incompatible things, they all are nevertheless alluding, allegorically, to the same
primeval truth. As a consequence, there can be no advancement of learning. Truth
already has been spelled out once and for all, and we can only keep interpreting its
obscure message [Note the Biblical literalism & fundamentalism of the extreme
Religious Right]. If you browse in the shelves that, in American bookstores, are
labeled New Age, you can find there even Saint Augustine, who, as far as I know, was not a
fascist. But combining Saint Augustine and Stonehenge -- that is a symptom of Ur-Fascism
[Important role for irrationalism. Fascism thrives on the modern equivalent of
superstition: New Age gullibility & the rejection of critical reasoning].
Traditionalism implies the rejection of modernism. Both Fascists and Nazis
worshipped technology, while traditionalist thinkers usually reject it as a negation of
traditional spiritual values. However, even though Nazism was proud of its industrial
achievements, its praise of modernism was only the surface of an ideology based upon
mystical blood and earth (Blut und Boden). The rejection of the modern world was disguised
as a rebuttal of the capitalistic way of life. The Enlightenment, the Age of Reason, is
seen as the beginning of modern depravity [secular humanism, born in the Enlightenment, is
"evil," science, skepticism & rationalism are shallow & cynical, only
emotional response is trustworthy].
In this sense Ur-Fascism can be defined as irrationalism. Irrationalism also depends on
the cult of action for action's sake. Action being beautiful in itself, it must be taken
before, or without, reflection. Thinking is a form of emasculation. Therefore culture is
suspect insofar as it is identified with critical attitudes. Distrust of the intellectual
world has always been a symptom of Ur-Fascism, from Hermann Goering's fondness for a
phrase from a Hanns Johst play ("When I hear the word 'culture' I reach for my
gun") to the frequent use of such expressions as "degenerate
intellectuals," "eggheads," "effete snobs," and
"universities are nests of reds." The official Fascist intellectuals were mainly
engaged in attacking modern culture and the liberal intelligentsia for having betrayed
traditional values [sound familiar?].
The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In
modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve
knowledge. For Ur-Fascism, disagreement is treason. Besides, disagreement is a sign of
diversity. Ur-Fascism grows up and seeks consensus by exploiting and exacerbating the
natural fear of difference. The first appeal of a fascist or prematurely fascist movement
is an appeal against the intruders. Thus Ur-Fascism is racist by definition.
Ur-Fascism derives from individual or social frustration. That is why one of the most
typical features of the historical fascism was the appeal to a frustrated middle class, a
class suffering from an economic crisis or feelings of political humiliation, and
frightened by the pressure of lower social groups. In our time, when the old
"proletarians" are becoming petty bourgeois (and the lumpen are largely excluded
from the political scene), the fascism of tomorrow will find its audience in this new
majority. To people who feel deprived of a clear social identity, Ur-Fascism says that
their only privilege is the most common one, to be born in the same country. This is the
origin of nationalism. Besides, the only ones who can provide an identity to the nation
are its enemies. Thus at the root of the Ur-Fascist psychology there is the obsession with
a plot, possibly an international one [terrorists everywhere]. The followers must feel
besieged. The easiest way to solve the plot is the appeal to xenophobia. But the plot must
also come from the inside: Jews are usually the best target because they have the
advantage of being at the same time inside and outside. In the United States, a prominent
instance of the plot obsession is to be found in Pat Robertson's The New World Order, but,
as we have recently seen, there are many others.
The followers must feel humiliated by the ostentatious wealth and force of their enemies.
When I was a boy I was taught to think of Englishmen as the five-meal people. They ate
more frequently than the poor but sober Italians. Jews are rich and help each other
through a secret web of mutual assistance. However, the followers of Ur-Fascism must also
be convinced that they can overwhelm the enemies. Thus, by a continuous shifting of
rhetorical focus, the enemies are at the same time too strong and too weak. [Saddam's
feeble "hollow army" a threat to a gigantic superpower.] Fascist governments are
condemned to lose wars because they are constitutionally incapable of objectively
evaluating the force of the enemy. [Diplomat Kiesing: America is embracing Caligula's
"let them hate, as long as they fear." Will this bring a peaceful world,
favorable to American survival?] For Ur-Fascism there is no struggle for life but, rather,
life is lived for struggle. Thus pacifism is trafficking with the enemy. It is bad because
life is permanent warfare. This, however, brings about an Armageddon complex. Since
enemies have to be defeated, there must be a final battle, after which the movement will
have control of the world. But such "final solutions" implies a further era of
peace, a Golden Age, which contradicts the principle of permanent war. No fascist leader
has ever succeeded in solving this predicament.
Elitism is a typical aspect of any reactionary ideology, insofar as it is fundamentally
aristocratic, and aristocratic and militaristic elitism cruelly implies contempt for the
weak. ["Anybody can go to Baghdad, real men go to Teheran."] Ur-Fascism can only
advocate a popular elitism. Every citizen belongs to the best people in the world, the
members or the party are the best among the citizens, every citizen can (or ought to)
become a member of the party. But there cannot be patricians without plebeians. In fact,
the Leader, knowing that his power was not delegated to him democratically but was
conquered by force, also knows that his force is based upon the weakness of the masses;
they are so weak as to need and deserve a ruler. In such a perspective everybody is
educated to become a hero. In every mythology the hero is an exceptional being, but in
Ur-Fascist ideology heroism is the norm. This cult of heroism is strictly linked with the
cult of death. It is not by chance that a motto of the Spanish Falangists was Viva la
Muerte ("Long Live Death!"). [Macho US T-shirt slogan: "Kill 'em all, let
God sort 'em out."] In nonfascist societies, the lay public is told that death is
unpleasant but must be faced with dignity; believers are told that it is the painful way
to reach a supernatural happiness. By contrast, the Ur-Fascist hero craves heroic death,
advertised as the best reward for a heroic life. The Ur-Fascist hero is impatient to die.
In his impatience, he more frequently sends other people to death. Since both permanent
war and heroism are difficult games to play, the Ur-Fascist transfers his will to power to
sexual matters. This is the origin of machismo (which implies both disdain for women and
intolerance and condemnation of nonstandard sexual habits, from chastity to
homosexuality). Since even sex is a difficult game to play, the Ur-Fascist hero tends to
play with weapons -- doing so becomes an ersatz phallic exercise.
Ur-Fascism is based upon a selective populism, a qualitative populism, one might say. In a
democracy, the citizens have individual rights, but the citizens in their entirety have a
political impact only from a quantitative point of view -- one follows the decisions of
the majority. For Ur-Fascism, however, individuals as individuals have no rights, and the
People is conceived as a quality, a monolithic entity expressing the Common Will. Since no
large quantity of human beings can have a common will, the Leader pretends to be their
interpreter. Having lost their power of delegation, citizens do not act; they are only
called on to play the role of the People. [One columnist refers to Bush's "baby
talk," talking down to "the people."] Thus the People is only a theatrical
fiction. There is in our future a TV or Internet populism, in which the emotional response
of a selected group of citizens can be presented and accepted as the Voice of the People.
Because of its qualitative populism, Ur-Fascism must be against "rotten"
parliamentary governments. Wherever a politician casts doubt on the legitimacy of a
parliament [or Congress] because it no longer represents the Voice of the People [the
Silent Majority], we can smell Ur-Fascism. Ur-Fascism speaks Newspeak. Newspeak was
invented by Orwell, in 1984, as the official language of what he called Ingsoc, English
Socialism. But elements of Ur-Fascism are common to different forms of dictatorship. All
the Nazi or Fascist schoolbooks made use of an impoverished vocabulary, and an elementary
syntax, in order to limit the instruments for complex and critical reasoning. [Listen to
Ari Fleischer.] But we must be ready to identify other kinds of Newspeak, even if they
take the apparently innocent form of a popular talk show ["Hate radio"].
Ur-Fascism is still around us, sometimes in plainclothes. It would be so much
easier for us if there appeared on the world scene somebody saying, "I want to reopen
Auschwitz, I want the Blackshirts to parade again in the Italian squares." Life is
not that simple. Ur-Fascism can come back under the most innocent of disguises. Our duty
is to uncover it and to point our finger at any of its new instances -- every day, in
every part of the world. Franklin Roosevelt's words of November 4, 1938, are worth
recalling: "If American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking
day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in
strength in our land." Freedom and liberation are an unending task.
-end Umberto Eco excerpts.
This is just an appetizer. The two best recent scholarly books on fascism are by Walter
Laquer (Oxford) and Stanley Payne. Older classics are the ones by Ernst Nolte, Three Faces
of Fascism, and John Weiss, Fascism (the shortest of the lot). Zevedei Barbu's analysis of
fascism, democracy & communism is also valuable (though dated in its terminology).
These are all available from our REASON Lending Library. I also recommend these short
And, on corruption of democracy by Right-wing propaganda, see
- Jim B