Monday, March 19, 2007

If you think that the whole of American democracy is a lie, Mark ...

... At least have the guts to come right out and say so.

Here is the latest:
I'm remembering the strange sensation I had in both '96 and '00, when men were anointed by a mysterious process and presented to the party faithful as a fait accompli, despite the fact that nobody seemed to want him (Dole) and nobody seemed to have heard of him (Bush) until the party moguls announced that all the political winds were blowing that way. One got the distinct impression that "voting" was a sort of rubber stamp ratifying what a small group of wealthy men had decided was fore-ordained.

I'd love to be wrong. But it looks pretty much like the same thing is happening again.

I am going to keep hammering on this conspiracy of millionnaires notion that Mark seems to seriously believe because, while not spiritually tainted the way that say, Robert Sungenis's stuff is, it is as much of a kook notion as anything that came out of the John Birch Society. If he seriously believed that American democracy is over and we are now ruled by a clique of millionnaires determined to kill off a sizeable number of the lower classes (this was basically the sentiment when he first broached the notion), one would think that you would be trying to do something more about it than just blogging away in frustration. Now granted, he holds out the possibility that he might be wrong here, but if he understood for a moment the full implications of what he is claiming he might want to sit back and think through the consequences of such a situation before just casually airing notions like this.

In answer to his questions, I didn't follow the 1996 election very well but if memory serves there was a fairly heated GOP primary fight before Dole ended up on top. Mark apparently doesn't remember the extremely nasty primary fight between Bush and McCain in 2000, which is odd because he blogged about it on Friday. The idea that Bush or Dole just magically appeared and won the presidential nominations is simply counter-factual by anyone who was paying attention at the time. Now to be fair, a lot of people weren't, and there is no shame in that. And some people still aren't if they are going to label Deroy Murdock a neocon when in fact he is a conservative libertarian.

UPDATE: He does it again.

In a funny way, stuff like this and Barack Obama viral ad gives me a certain amount of empathy for the Dem rank and file who, like us conservative types, feel a certain amount of bafflement at how their political masters (who are also basically a small number of rich guys) can just herd them around like cattle and say, "Now you will vote for Hillary, Now you will vote for Pelosi" and deliver such a disastrously low return on their investment. As the party elders on our side of the aisle condition the herd to vote for Rudy, I will think from time to time of the frustration that many Dems must likewise be feeling as Hillary is rammed down their throats and Pelosi stabs them in the back on the one issue that put her where she is.

I would be very interested for somebody to see if they can get him to explain who exactly these elites he continues to reference are. The answer, if nothing else, should prove to be an illuminating one.

And here in reference to Human Events's decision to print an editorial by Deroy Murdock that supported Giuliani:
This editorial is part of a meme that is being spread by a party that is fixing to anoint Rudy. It's what they do. That's how we got Dole and that's how we got Bush. A few oligarchs decide. We are presented with a done deal.

Now here again, I am willing to grant him a rhetorical flourish on some of this stuff, but the more this meme keeps popping up the more we keeping heading closer and closer into the "conspiracy of the elites" stuff that so typifies Larouche-esque thought. I'm not even going to get into his continued and increasingly absurd fear that the US is gearing up to invade Iran (with what troops, for God's sake) or his view that there is some kind of establishment candidate in a Republican primary that has no declared candidate, which is precisely why it is so contentious.


paul zummo said...

There is like an entire subfield within political science dedicated to studying how the primary system has affected the presidential nomination process, with a large swath decrying how too much democratization has negatively impacted it. To say that Mark's thesis runs counter to just about all of the litterature would probably be an understatement. B8ut hey, I'm sure Mark has spent a lot of time studying the issue, so who's to say really.

BTW, no one had heard of Bush? No one had heard of the former son of a President who was also the governor of the second most populous state in the Union? Were these the people that constituted the OJ Simpson jury pool?

Donald R. McClarey said...

I find this all hilarious. Outside of voting, I would be very surprised if Mark has ever had any involvement with a political campaign. It is similar to someone who rarely goes to Church pontificating on the quality of the worship.

Mark's comments about 96 and 00 demonstrates how little he understands the process. Dole had been running for President ever since he was chosen as Ford's veep running mate in 76. Dole's campaigns rarely got off the ground because he was a fairly poor national candidate with a lacklustre downbeat campaign style. He got the nod in 96 because the smart candidates realized that Clinton was probably unbeatable, especially with Perot siphoning off votes. No mystery at all.

In 2000 Bush, a highly popular governor from Texas, had a hot contest from McCain in the primaries and earned the nomination by beating him in several key contests, and by McCain doing his best to antagonize conservatives, especially pro-lifers. Bush ran to the right in the primaries and clobbered McCain. Once again no mystery.

Some day, perhaps, Mark will learn the wisdom of not commenting on subjects he obviously knows little about.

Christopher Fotos said...

To say that Mark's thesis runs counter to just about all of the litterature would probably be an understatement

Being familiar with the literature is not Mark's strong point.

Roger H. said...

Regarding Deroy Murdock, Mark not only misidentifies him as a neocon (as if Mark even knows what that means) he ascribes Murdock's views upon Human Events even though there is no indication Human Events has endorsed said views.

Oh, that's right. Mark has telepathic powers.

Phillip said...

This is a bit of analysis but Mark's attitude seems like some in the homeschooling culture. Many homeschool because of poor schools or poor morals in those schools.

However some do so because they have a fear of civil society. Anything apart from the family or their fellow homeschooling families is a threat - either politically or morally. Interacting with such a civil society would contaminate their pure thoughts and open them and their children to temptation. Perhaps it is a minor variation on Amish/Mennonite cultures.

This subculture in a subculture frequently has no grasp of the moral injunction to be involved in the world, to transform civil society and, at times, to choose between the lesser of two evils. I believe Mark drinks deeply from this sub-subculture. After all, the only thing he finds as absolutely good is homeschooling. As such, any interaction with the world will render him ritually impure.

The net result is that he will consign the world over to far more evil forces.

Pauli said...

PZ: "BTW, no one had heard of Bush? No one had heard of the former son of a President who was also the governor of the second most populous state in the Union?"

I know, that one gave me a laugh attack.

Phillip, your succinct assessment is fairly spot-on, at least for many whom I know in "sub-subcultures". It's sad to see good people seeking solace in conspiracy theories which brainwash them into a "resistance is futile" mentality. There has always been a tendency toward extrinsicism within Christianity. We're supposed to be IN but not OF. It's often a tightrope walk and it's so easy to fall off either side.

I say this as someone who's planning to homeschool my kids, BTW.

Victor said...

What do we expect from the man who haughtily talks down to (imagined) others about the perils of learning about life from TV ... and then objectively shills for Islamist victory by citing THE TWILIGHT ZONE.

I feel trapped ...

Phillip said...

The key paragraph perhaps from the WaPo editorial Mark cites to support his "Faustian" Twilight Zone claim:

"But the assumption that Mohammed was tortured comes from the fact that, as we all now know, the White House, the Pentagon and the Justice Department were also debating the merits of torture about the time of Mohammed's capture. Alberto Gonzales, then White House counsel, now better known for his disastrous performance as attorney general, had advised the president as early as 2002 that torture might be permissible under certain circumstances. And all of us have seen the pictures from Abu Ghraib."

So the White House debated what would constitute torture, a finding was written by the AG that torture could be used under some circumstances and Abu Ghraib happened. Therefore KSM was tortured. Mark's right. One should throw out one's TV as it impairs your ability to think. It did in Mark's case.

Patrick said...

I don't buy conspiracy theories, either.

However, considering that every GOP ticket since 1976 has offered the country someone named "Bush" or "Dole," the Republicans do seem to have some dynastic tendencies.

Victor said...

Except that there is exactly zero chance of that happening at the top of the ticket this time. And only a very slim chance at No.2 (depending on who wins obviously; Elizabeth Dole).

kathleen said...

"Anything apart from the family or their fellow homeschooling families is a threat - either politically or morally. "

you forgot the threat to the ego: one's posture of enlightened omniscience is threatened mightily by the heathens next door or down the block who happen to be better -- quite a bit better -- at math or music or writing. better for the omniscient one's ego to withdraw entirely, thus consigning such people to the abyss of people one can pretend don't exist.

Phillip said...


Good point. Perhaps that's why Mark's ego is so easily bruised. Also it could explain his dismissive attitude. If you are used to being the authority on everything its easy to talk down to people.

Art Deco said...

However, considering that every GOP ticket since 1976 has offered the country someone named "Bush" or "Dole," the Republicans do seem to have some dynastic tendencies.

Robert Dole, not his wife or daughter, was on the Republican ticket in 1976 and in 1996. In the first instance, it was at the discretion of Gerald Ford. His second candidacy constituted the conclusion of more than 37 years as a federal official. (Also, his wife was already a part of the Washington Establishment when she married him).

You could argue that the political career of George Bush - pere was a dynasntic manifestation. The trouble with viewing it as such is that its genesis was in a milieu which lacked more than a skeletal Republican organization, which was culturally quite distinct from that of his father, and within which the nurturing business and personal connections were likely very much his own. As for his national career, who in 1980 or 1988 (other than Hugh Sidey) knew much or thought much about Prescott Bush, Sr.?

The careers of the current Bush generation are something of a dynastic phenomenon in that a crucial component of same is the name-recognition and contacts developed by their father. However, if one compares the life and works of the Bush brothers with those of Joseph Kennedy and Patrick Kennedy, it is difficult to regard dynasticism as a peculiarly Republican phenomenon.

torquemada05 said...


I think that the issue of homeschooling very much depends the particulars of the situation. I certainly wouldn't want any parent to subject their child for the horrors of what passes for education in certain parts of the country. Mark says that he is sincere in his explanation of why he homeschools his children and I see no particular reason to dispute that given his frequent linking of fairly abhorrent educational abuses. And while I agree with the broader issue of becoming too absorbed in the homeschooling subculture, I know quite a few people who manage to do it without falling into the types of behavior that Mark has adopted with increasing regularity over the last several years. I strongly suspect that many homeschoolers have a very different take than he with the war on terrorism, for instance, let alone his current lapse into increasingly bizarre conspiracy theories.

As far as why people adopt conspiracy theories, I think that A Culture of Conspiracy puts it best:

"Some stigmatized knowledge is just obsolete knowledge, like alchemy or astrology, that the academic establishment no longer takes seriously on its own terms. Some of it is folklore and urban legends. Some of it is political ideas that have lost their bid for dominance in the wide world, but survive in niches and sects. The stigmatization of knowledge does not necessarily mean it is worthless: acupuncture, for instance, has risen from subcultural disrepute to the status of a recognized treatment. Whatever the merits of stigmatized ideas, people who accept stigmatized knowledge about one subject are likely to be more open to entertaining it in others. This leads to an attitude that views esoteric and unpopular ideas favorably, simply because they are stigmatized. Any official or consensus explanation is viewed with suspicion.

If you think that what most people believe about important aspects of the world is consistently wrong, the most economical hypothesis is that those people are being systematically deceived. This implies a deceiver, who must have confederates. The larger the conspiracy, the more a theory about it can explain: hence the attractiveness of conspiracy theories. "A Culture of Conspiracy" does not address the question of whether there is a perennial Western tradition of conspiracy theories, one that might include the legends about Rosicrucians, witches, Brethren of the Free Spirit, and similar shady characters. Rather, the book focuses on the well-known tradition of secular conspiracy theories, whose best-known originator is the Abbe Barruel. This tradition began in the aftermath of the French Revolution. Barruel's account sought to explain the Revolution as the work of groups of a generally Masonic character, of whom the most famous were the Illuminati of late 18th-century Bavaria.

There were indeed Illuminati, and the revolutionary phase of the Enlightenment was often organized through lodges and secret societies. However, conspiracy theorists tend to view secret and underground societies, not as vehicles for political activity, but as its cause. They see the public acts of statesmen and political groups as a mere smokescreen. For conspiracists, is it not necessary that the puppet-masters be altogether secret. Financial institutions and private associations will do nicely, as they did in conspiratorial accounts of politics that appeared as the 19th century progressed. (Barkun mentions Ignatius Donnelly for his popularization of Atlantis, by the way, but Donnelly also had the Jewish-Corporate Government connection down pat as early as the 1880s.) Around 1900, the Czarist secret police produced the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," which ascribed a plot for world domination to the early Zionist movement. By about 1920, there was a standard superconspiracy model. The model linked international bankers, the central banks, the Masons, the Jews, and other groups in a long-running project, always almost complete, to establish a worldwide atheist tyranny.

In one form or another, this model has been remarkably durable. People with all kinds of perspectives can adapt it to fit any historical circumstance and any set of characters. Theorists with little interest in Jewish conspiracies, for instance, might read "Illuminist" in the "Protocols" wherever the text reads "Jew." So great is the explanatory power of superconspiracies, however, that they threaten to engulf in despair those who believe in them. Conspiracy theorists often think that little stands between them and an intolerable future, brought about by forces that are invisible to the general public and yet nearly omnipotent."

I think that there is a lot of truth to this.

Roger H. said...

I KNEW Mark was going to respond with that "they published it, so they must agree" line. He even goes further by imputing on me a free speech argument I didn't make (that mental telepathy again).

As I replied, Heaven forbid that there should be a diversity of thought within conservatism which I think Human Events is generally about. After all, in addition Deroy Murdock, Human Events regularly publishes Pat Buchanan, who nobody would mistake for a "neo-con" much less a Giuliani supporter.

Phillip said...


I don't think we disagree. That's why I noted that many people homeschool because their local schools are poor educators or that these schools have poorer morals. That's also why I conditioned my statement to say that some homeschoolers take the road I mentioned.

Having known quite a few homeschoolers myself I know why many choose to do so. Some do so for very good reasons. Some do so in an effort to cut themselves off from society. I've been to homeschooling meetings that were outstanding and open to the world. I've also seen homeschoolers work to exclude kids from public and private schools from functions of Catholic organizations so that their children wouldn't be exposed to such influences. I've seen many homeschooling kids who grew to be outstanding young men and women. I've also seen many become withdrawn and fearful - a habit unfortunately inculcated by the process.

My concerns with homeschooling are not particularly important. There are pros and cons of it. My point was that Mark seems to be slipping into that sub-subculture that I talk about, where anything apart from one's own are suspect.

paul zummo said...

Mark's latest "neocon" outing has inspired me to create a list of other neocons, some well known as being such, others not so much. I think a registry will be the most effective means of keeping this mysterious cult in line, sort of like the sex criminal registry. After all, wouldn't you like to know if a neocon is living next door to you?

Anonymous said...


Mark's desire to "out neocons" is something like his obsessive desire to hunt down people who manifestly disagree with him. In both cases, he acts like a one-man, self-appointed inquisition.

As I've said, give this man another world view and put him in the right context, and he'd be a great bureaucrat in the SD or the KGB (but probably too volatile to be an agent in the field).

This has nothing to do with Mark being a Nazi or a Communist, or adhering to any other ideology. It has everything to do with Mark's obsessive propensity to track down and destroy anybody who disagrees with him.

If Opus Dei actually did hire albino assassins, Mark would be the perfect candidate.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else see the fight between Shea and Jones/Sungenis ... wherein Shea's now a neocon. Bwahahahaha. Couldn't happen to a more-deserving guy.

I look at it like the Iran-Iraq War (or WW2's Eastern Front) ... you want both sides to lose.

Anonymous said...

And of course, that post (now) come right underneath his latest burbling fantasies about the thoughts of others (whom he constructs as "neocon realpolitik consequentialist fake Catholics").

I must really also note the richness that the Sungenis post is, in part at least, complaints about inaccurate citations. Remember this sequence from WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION? And remember later, when Charles Laughton expressed surprise that "the Scripture did not leap from [Marlene Dietrich's] hands" when she took the oath.