How Gary Hart’s Downfall Forever Changed American Politics – nyt magazine

EXCERPT: “If Nixon’s resignation created the character culture in American politics, then Hart’s undoing marked the moment when political reporters ceased to care about almost anything else. By the 1990s, the cardinal objective of all political journalism had shifted from a focus on agendas to a focus on narrow notions of character, from illuminating worldviews to exposing falsehoods. If post-Hart political journalism had a motto, it would be: “We know you’re a fraud somehow. Our job is to prove it.”

EXCERPT: “They [journalists] never had to grapple with the complex issues of why Hart was subject to a kind of invasive, personal scrutiny no major candidate before him had endured, or to consider where that shift in the political culture had led us. Hart had, after all, given the media no choice in the matter.”



As anyone alive during the 1980s knows, Hart, the first serious presidential contender of the 1960s generation, was taken down and eternally humiliated by a scandal, a suspected affair with a beautiful blonde whose name, Donna Rice, had entered the cultural lexicon, along with the yacht — Monkey Business — near which she had been photographed on his lap. When they talked about him now in Washington, Hart was invariably described as a brilliant and serious man, perhaps the most visionary political mind of his generation, an old-school statesman of the kind Washington had lost its capacity to produce. He warned of the rise of stateless terrorism and spoke of the need to convert the industrial economy into an information-and-technology-based one, at a time when few politicians in either party had given much thought to anything beyond communism and steel. But such recollections were generally punctuated by a smirk or a sad shake of the head. Hardly a modern scandal passed, whether it involved a politician or an athlete or an entertainer, that didn’t evoke inevitable comparisons to Hart among reflective commentators. In popular culture, Gary Hart would forever be that archetypal antihero of presidential politics: the iconic adulterer.

The rest of the world was finished with Gary Hart, but I couldn’t get his story out of my mind, which was why I ended up standing alongside him at Red Rocks on that summer day, like an archaeologist searching for shards of a lost political age. I had come to believe that we couldn’t really understand the dispiriting state of our politics — and of our political journalism — without first understanding what transpired during that surreal and frenetic week in April nearly 30 years ago.

The Hart episode is almost universally remembered as a tale of classic hubris. A Kennedy-like figure on a fast track to the presidency defies the media to find anything nonexemplary in his personal life, even as he carries on an affair with a woman half his age and poses for pictures with her, and naturally he gets caught and humiliated. How could he not have known this would happen? How could such a smart guy have been that stupid?

Of course, you could reasonably have asked that same question of the three most important political figures of Hart’s lifetime, all Democratic presidents thought of as towering successes. Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson were adulterers, before and during their presidencies, and we can safely assume they had plenty of company. In his 1978 memoir, Theodore White, the most prolific and influential chronicler of presidential politics in the last half of the 20th century, wrote that he was “reasonably sure” that of all the candidates he had covered, only three — Harry Truman, George Romney and Jimmy Carter — hadn’t enjoyed the pleasure of “casual partners.” He and his colleagues considered those affairs irrelevant.

By the late 1980s, however, a series of powerful, external forces in the society were colliding, creating a dangerous vortex on the edge of our politics. Hart didn’t create that vortex. He was, rather, the first to wander into its path.

The nation was still feeling the residual effects of Watergate, which 13 years earlier led to the first resignation of a sitting president. Richard Nixon’s fall was shocking, not least because it was more personal than political, a result of instability and pettiness rather than pure ideology. And for this reason Watergate, along with the deception over what was really happening in Vietnam, had injected into presidential politics a new focus on private morality.

Social mores were changing, too. For most of the 20th century, adultery as a practice — at least for men — was rarely discussed but widely accepted. Kennedy and Johnson governed during the era that “Mad Men” would later portray, when the powerful man’s meaningless tryst with a secretary was no less common than the three-martini lunch. Twenty years later, however, social forces unleashed by the tumult of the 1960s were rising up to contest this view. Feminism and the “women’s lib” movement had transformed expectations for a woman’s role in marriage, just as the civil rights movement had changed prevailing attitudes toward African-Americans.


Hart said this in an annoyed and sarcastic sort of way, in an obvious attempt to make a point. He was “serious” about the sentiment, all right, but only to the extent that a man who had been twice separated from his wife and dated other women over the years — with the full knowledge of his friends in the press corps and without having seen a single word written about it at the time — could have been serious about such a thing. Hart might as well have been suggesting that Martians beam down and run his campaign, for all the chance he thought there was that any reporter would actually resort to stalking him. Dionne certainly didn’t take the comment literally, though he suspected others might. “He did not think of it as a challenge,” Dionne would recall many years later. “And at the time, I did not think of it as a challenge.”
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As it happened, Dionne’s cover story was set to appear Sunday, May 3, the same day the Herald published its front-page exposé. No one at The Herald had a clue that Hart had issued any “challenge” on the previous Monday when Fiedler heard from his anonymous tipster or when he continued to chase the story during the week or when McGee flew off to Washington and began prowling outside the townhouse on Friday night. All of this they did on their own, without any prodding from Hart.

In those days before the Internet, however, The Times circulated printed copies of its magazine to other news media a few days early, so editors and producers could pick out anything that might be newsworthy and publicize it in their own weekend editions or Sunday shows. And so it was that when Fiedler boarded his flight to Washington Saturday morning, eager to join the stakeout, he brought with him the advance copy of Dionne’s story, which had been sent to The Herald. Somewhere above the Atlantic seaboard, anyone sitting next to Fiedler would probably have seen him jolt upward in his seat as if suddenly receiving an electric shock. There it was, staring up at him from the page — Hart explicitly inviting him and his colleagues to do exactly the kind of surveillance they had undertaken the night before.

The discovery of Hart’s supposed challenge, which the Herald reporters took from the advance copy of The Times Magazine on Saturday night and inserted at the end of their Sunday blockbuster — so that the two articles, referring to the same quote, appeared on newsstands simultaneously — probably eased any reservations the editors in Miami might have had about pushing the story into print before they had a chance to identify Rice and try to talk to her. Soon enough, as The Herald would put it in their longer reconstruction a week later, Gary Hart would be seen as “the gifted hero who had taunted the press to ‘follow me around.’ ” Everyone would know that Hart had goaded the press into hiding outside his townhouse and tracking his movements. So what if The Herald reporters hadn’t even known about it when they put Hart under surveillance? Hart’s quote appeared to justify The Herald’s extraordinary investigation, and that’s all that mattered.

The difference here is far more than a technicality. Even when insiders and historians recall the Hart episode now, they recall it the same way: Hart issued his infamous challenge to reporters, telling them to follow him around if they didn’t believe him, and then The Herald took him up on it. Inexplicably, people believe, Hart set his own trap and then allowed himself to become ensnared in it. (When I spoke to Dana Weems, she repeatedly insisted to me that she had only called The Herald after reading Hart’s “follow me around” quote, which was obviously impossible.)

And this version of events conveniently enabled The Herald’s reporters and editors to completely sidestep some important and uncomfortable questions. As long as it was Hart, and not The Herald, who set the whole thing in motion, then it was he and not they who suddenly moved the boundaries between private and political lives.

They never had to grapple with the complex issues of why Hart was subject to a kind of invasive, personal scrutiny no major candidate before him had endured, or to consider where that shift in the political culture had led us. Hart had, after all, given the media no choice in the matter.


If Nixon’s resignation created the character culture in American politics, then Hart’s undoing marked the moment when political reporters ceased to care about almost anything else. By the 1990s, the cardinal objective of all political journalism had shifted from a focus on agendas to a focus on narrow notions of character, from illuminating worldviews to exposing falsehoods. If post-Hart political journalism had a motto, it would be: “We know you’re a fraud somehow. Our job is to prove it.”


Gary Hart announces his candidacy for the Democratic nomination in 1987 at Red Rocks Park in Colorado with his wife, Lee, center, and daughter, Andrea. Credit Ed Andrieski/Associated Press

Diego Garcia: No Justice for the Chagos Islands and Its People — CounterPunch

The Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean (Diego Garcia).


Many know of the forced displacement of the people of the Bikini Islands, who were removed from their land to make room for US Army and Navy joint testing of nuclear weapons in the 1940s. While the islanders were told that they would only have to leave “temporarily” so that the US could test atomic bombs “for the good of mankind and to end all world wars,” many of the Bikini islanders have yet to return home to this day, citing fears of nuclear contamination, despite US assurances of the land’s safety.

Of course, it is not just a home that is lost when colonial powers forcibly remove a people from their land – it is a history, a community, a cultural heritage. The Bikini islanders are not the only people who have been displaced for American military hegemony. Lesser known but all-too relevant is the story of the Chagos Islands and the Chagossian people.

The Chagos Archipelago consists of over 50 small islands in the Indian Ocean. No Chagossians now inhabit the island, which once was home to 1,500-2,000 indigenous peoples, mostly of African, Malagasy, and Indian origin

brought to the islands as slaves to work on coconut plantations in the 18th century. Today, the island of Diego Garcia in the Chagos Archipelago is home to “The Footprint of Freedom” – or the Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia – one of the most strategically important US military bases in the world.

The campaign of terror to forcibly remove the Chagossians began in the 1960s, during the British period of decolonization. In 1960, a US Navy admiral visited Diego Garcia to survey the land for a huge military base. At the time, the Chagos islands belonged to the UK and were governed from Mauritius. When Mauritius gained independence from Britain in 1968, it was under the condition that Mauritius would not claim Diego Garcia and the Chagos islands. This agreement – in direct contradiction with UN resolution 1514 and international law which stated that colonies being decolonized had to be done as a whole – not carved up for profit – was hidden from both the British Parliament and US Congress.[Lots of thing HIDDEN from "democratically elected parliaments and congresses, both in war AND peace.]

Following the (illegal) agreement, US/UK back terrorism campaign went into full swing to have the island “swept and sanitized” of the Chagossian people.

It began with an embargo aimed at starving the population out. Cut off from basic supplies like milk, dairy, salt, sugar, and medication, many on the island left.

Those remaining didn’t last long. They were told that if they didn’t leave, the island would be bombed.

Then, in the Spring of 1971, US military officials gave the order to round up all of the pet dogs on the island and have them killed. About 1,000 pet dogs were taken – some straight from screaming children – and gassed with exhaust fumes from American military vehicles.[PURE HITLER -- this was the FIRST WAY THE NAZIS USED TO GAS HUMANS AT AUSCHWITZ!]

The Chagossians were told that if they didn’t comply, the same would be done to them.

The remaining Chagossians were rounded up and placed onto a ship – The Nordvaer – allowed to take only once suitcase.

The horses were given precedence and were put on deck. The women and children were forced to sleep in the hull on bird fertilizer – bird shit. Marie Lisette Talate, a Chagossian, recalled,

“All of us Chagossians, women, children, it was ourselves who were the animals on the Nordvaer.”

From there, they were taken to the Seychelles islands to a prison – where they were kept in cells until finally being transported to Mauritius, where most of the Chagossians now remain. There they were left – without money, adequate housing, jobs, water, food, electricity, or any institutional support in a country unknown to them.

Not surprisingly, the Chagossian islanders began to die, some from malnutrition and disease, some from drugs, but many, as the islanders say, from sadness. In an interview with David Vine, anthropologist at American University, Marie Rita Elysée Bancoult, one of the Chagossian people, recounted her life after the forced relocation. After learning that they would never be returning home, her husband, Julien, suffered a stroke shortly afterwards and five years later, died. In the years that followed, her sons Alex, 38, Eddy, 36, and Rénault, 11, also died.

“My life has been buried,” she said.

“It’s as if I was pulled from my paradise to put me in hell. Everything here you need to buy. I don’t have the means to buy them. My children go without eating. How am I supposed to bear this life?”

Today, the island is used as a central military base for US operations in its ironically named War on Terror in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere in the Middle East and is home to 3-5,000 US troops. While the islands are officially controlled by the United Kingdom (part of the British Indian Ocean Territory or BIOT), it is effectively a US military base that houses an astonishing number of military weapons – including two dozen cargo ships, billions of dollars in bombers, NASA facilities, intelligence and surveillance equipment, and nuclear weapons.

There are also allegations of military “black sites” or secret prisons, housing detainees – possibly subjected to torture techniques like water-boarding – and of rendition operations on the island.

For years, the exiled Chagossian people – removed from their land in what the Washington Post called “an act of mass kidnapping” in a 1975 article – have been fighting for reparations and for the right of return.

Thus far, both the UK and US government have failed to take responsibility for the forced exile – mass kidnapping – of the Chagossian people, despite numerous lawsuits and petitions.

The cries of the people have been ignored or derided. In 1975, Michel Ventacassen, a Chagossian, brought the case to the High Court in London. In 1982, the case was settled and 1,344 Chagossians living in Mauritius received GBP 2,976 each in compensation –

roughly $4,500 for a campaign of state-sponsored terrorism that took from the people of Chagos their homes, their communities, their culture, and their lives.

Many people did not take the compensation and staged hunger strikes in response. For those that took the funds, they were required to sign a renunciation form of their right to return written in English – a language many of them did not understand.

Now, this case is being used against the Chagossians in their quest for justice. In 2012, the European Court of Human Rights found the Chagos Island v. the United Kingdom inadmissible, siting that since some Chagossians had received compensation in the 1982 ruling, they had no claim to “victim status”.

So even though many of them had never received any compensation, even though Chagossians in the Seychelles did not even participate in the 1975 case, even though the amount of money paid to the Chagossians that took it was laughably small, and even though many of the people who signed the document to take the money were sometimes illiterate, spoke Creole or were unaware of what they were signing away – victim status was not afforded to them. These people – considered expendable still today by the governments of the UK and the US – have been kidnapped from their land, forced into abject poverty, and allowed no audience from the courts. Justice, it seems, is only for the few.

But the Chagos people are still fighting for their right to return.

In 2009, Wikileaks released classified US embassy cables detailing UK plans to turn the islands of Chagos into a Marine Protected Area, stating that it would make it near impossible for the Chagossians to win the right of return. The “former inhabitants would find it difficult, if not impossible, to pursue their claim for resettlement on the islands if the entire Chagos Archipelago were a marine reserve,” stressing that the UK’s “environmental lobby is far more powerful than the Chagossian’s advocates.” [Yet one more case of the "environmentalists" selling out humans and justice.]

Since then, the Chagos Islands have been granted Marine Protection status, making it the largest no-take marine reserve in the world. No take, of course, holds no jurisdiction over the inhabitants of Diego Garcia – the thousands of soldiers living there. In 2010, military personnel on the base took more than 28 tonnes of fish from the waters. While the Wikileaks document is itself inadmissible in US and UK courts [fuck these fucking legal rules IT SHOULD BE ADMISSIBLE!] , it has served as a powerful tool to put fear into the government, and confirms the conspiratorial nature of the US/UK fight to keep Chagossians from their rightful return home.

In the meantime, Chagossians push on, fighting for reparations, their right of return, and football. The Chagos Island team plays in the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) with other nations, dependencies, unrecognized states, and stateless peoples who are not welcomed into FIFA. They have launched an Indiegogo campaign to help fund a trip for the Chagossian team to play their first game outside of the UK against CONIFA member, Szekelyföld LE, a Hungarian-speaking minority group in Transylvania. An immediate return to Chagos may be too much to hope for, but at least, with the help of donors, they can play some football.

Alyssa Rohricht maintains The Black Cat Revolution and can be reached at

George Monbiot: Remote Control — How the media shafted the people of Scotland — Guardian

monbiot laughing

Perhaps the most arresting fact about the Scottish referendum is this: that there is no newspaper – local, regional or national, English or Scottish – which supports independence except the Sunday Herald. The Scots who will vote yes have been almost without representation in the media.

There is nothing unusual about this. Change in any direction except further over the brink of market fundamentalism and planetary destruction requires the defiance of almost the entire battery of salaried opinion. What distinguishes the independence campaign is that it has continued to prosper despite this assault.

In the coverage of the referendum we see most of the pathologies of the corporate media. Here, for example, you will find the unfounded generalisations with which less enlightened souls are characterised. In the Spectator, Simon Heffer mainatains that “addicted to welfare … Scots embraced the something for nothing society”, objecting to the poll tax “because many of them felt that paying taxes ought to be the responsibility of someone else.”(1) [How much does that sound like US Right Sector rhetoric?]

Here is the condescension with which the dominant classes have always treated those they regard as inferior: their serfs, the poor, the Irish, Africans, anyone with whom they disagree. “What spoilt, selfish, childlike fools those Scots are … They simply don’t have a clue how lucky they are,” sneered Melanie Reid in the Times(2). Here is the chronic inability to distinguish between a cause and a person: the referendum is widely portrayed as a vote about Alex Salmond, who is then monstered beyond recognition (a Telegraph leader last week compared him to Robert Mugabe(3)).[How much does that sound like US Right Sector rhetoric?]

The problem with the media is exemplified by Dominic Lawson’s column for the Daily Mail last week(4). He began with Scotland, comparing the “threat” of independence with the threat presented by Hitler (the article was helpfully illustrated with a picture of the Fuhrer, unaccompanied in this case by the Mail’s former proprietor).[How much does that sound like US Right Sector rhetoric?]

Then he turned to the momentous issue of how he almost said something wrong about David Attenborough, which was narrowly averted because “as it happens, last weekend we had staying with us another of the BBC’s great figures, its world affairs editor John Simpson”, who happily corrected Lawson’s mistake. This was just as well because “the next day I went to the Royal Albert Hall as one of a small number of guests invited by the Proms director for that night’s performance. And who should I see as soon as I entered the little room set aside for our group’s pre-concert drinks? Sir David Attenborough.”[How much does that sound like US celebrity culture?]


Wingnuts’ crippling Ebola fury: Why they’re enraged about fighting a disease — Salon

Fox News and co. have a brand-new conspiracy theory — and it’s combining with ISIS hysteria to make them loony [MORE INSANE!]

[The bigger question, though, is in what ways is Global Warming/ADC Anthropogenic Climate Change contributing to the problem.]

Heather Digby Parton

EXCERPT: “The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air. You can now get Ebola only through direct contact with bodily fluids. But viruses like Ebola are notoriously sloppy in replicating, meaning the virus entering one person may be genetically different from the virus entering the next. The current Ebola virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented; there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years. Each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice.

“If certain mutations occurred, it would mean that just breathing would put one at risk of contracting Ebola. Infections could spread quickly to every part of the globe, as the H1N1 influenza virus did in 2009, after its birth in Mexico.”

It certainly seems as though there have been a lot of fearful events over this long hot summer of 2014. Yahoos with too much firepower are blowing airliners out of the sky, terrorists are videotaping themselves beheading journalists, and police are shooting unarmed kids down in the streets of America, just to name a few incidents of the past few months.

But it’s hard to imagine anything more scary than a rapidly mutating contagious killer disease pandemic that features all the worst symptoms of the flu until it culminates in bleeding from the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and rectum, the eyes swell shut, your genitals swell up, all of your skin hurts and you have a blood-filled rash all over your body. And then you die. In the panoply of things to be afraid of you’d think everyone could acknowledge that this is the big one.

In an Op-Ed in the New York Times last week Michael T. Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, laid out a potential scenario right out of a movies — a horror movie. He discusses the very real potential that Ebola will make its move into the mega-cities of Africa, which will make it much more difficult to contain than it has been in previous outbreaks in the smaller villages. But this should make your hair stand on end:

The second possibility is one that virologists are loath to discuss openly but are definitely considering in private: that an Ebola virus could mutate to become transmissible through the air. You can now get Ebola only through direct contact with bodily fluids. But viruses like Ebola are notoriously sloppy in replicating, meaning the virus entering one person may be genetically different from the virus entering the next. The current Ebola virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented; there has been more human-to-human transmission in the past four months than most likely occurred in the last 500 to 1,000 years. Each new infection represents trillions of throws of the genetic dice.

If certain mutations occurred, it would mean that just breathing would put one at risk of contracting Ebola. Infections could spread quickly to every part of the globe, as the H1N1 influenza virus did in 2009, after its birth in Mexico.

An article in Wired discusses a recent epidemiology study that shows the “reproductive number” of the virus could end up infecting nearly a quarter of a million people by the end of this year. That’s what I call scary.

There’s no need to panic, of course. This is just one of many possibilities. But the fact that this virus’s hyper-evolution is unprecedented should make us all pay close attention. And some people are, including the president who made a big speech this week in which he announced that he would send 3,000 troops to Africa in an effort that will “entail command and control, logistics expertise, training, and engineering support.” The administration is being forthright that this is a very serious crisis and may cost upward of a billion dollars to successfully combat.

Now if there’s one thing we can usually count on from the right it’s that they will back the troops. Indeed, their first reflex is to send in the armed forces to solve just about any crisis, especially overseas. Right now they are nearly frothing at the mouth over President Obama’s ISIS strategy because it doesn’t include enough of an armed commitment to eradicate what they see as a uniquely dangerous threat to America. [Fascist] Sen. Lindsey Graham shrieked on behalf of the entire American right wing when he declared over the weekend:

“[T]hey’re intending to come here. So, I will not let this president suggest to the American people we can outsource our security and this is not about our safety. There is no way in hell you can form an army on the ground to go into Syria, to destroy ISIL without a substantial American component. And to destroy ISIL, you have to kill or capture their leaders, take the territory they hold back, cut off their financing and destroy their capability to regenerate.

“This is a war we’re fighting, it is not a counterterrorism operation! This is not Somalia; this is not Yemen; this is a turning point in the war on terror. Our strategy will fail yet again. This president needs to rise to the occasion before we all get killed back here at home.”

If they survive our best shot, this is the last best chance, to knock him out, then they will open the gates of hell to spill out on the world. This is not a Sunni versus Sunni problem, this is ISIL versus mankind!”

They are, as Graham illustrates there, nearly paralyzed with fear over the threat of ISIS and are demanding that the president commit to all-out war with American troops on the ground to stop them. One can only assume they mean for the U.S. to occupy the entire Middle East for the foreseeable future as [the fascist]John McCain once quipped he was prepared to do “for a hundred years.” They certainly haven’t offered any other scenarios that would address the issues in the comprehensive way they seem to think is necessary.

And all of this hand-wringing is despite numerous intelligence analyses that show ISIS is not an immediate threat to the United States (but rather a threat to the fragile order in the Middle East, which isn’t the same thing). They are hysterical about the possibility of an ISIS terrorist sneaking over the border to kill us all in our beds because we have failed to build a thousand-mile wall high enough or a moat deep enough to keep everyone out forever. (As Joan Walsh documented, the threat as “exposed” by James O’Keefe and company is almost too ludicrous to even be funny.)

But what definitely isn’t funny is the reaction these people are having to the Ebola threat. Media Matters documented the reactions:

Former congressman and Tea Party icon [fascist] Allen West:

The world need to step up against Islamo-fascism but I suppose fighting Ebola is easier for a faux Commander-in-Chief than to fight a real enemy of America. Nice optics there Barack, good try to change the subject, and make yourself seem like a leader fighting a really bad flu bug — all the while you dismiss the cockroaches who behead Americans.

[Fascist] Sean Hannity said that we should be sending those 3,000 soldiers to Iraq. (He did say he felt “bad” for the people who had Ebola, though, so he isn’t a total monster.) [Fascist] Rush also complained that we are sending troops to “fight” Ebola (which he claimed not to understand) when we should be sending them to fight ISIS. But nobody sounded more shockingly ignorant than the Cersei Lannister of the right wing, [fascist] Laura Ingraham:

“I’m just getting very confused about the nature of this enemy. Is it those scary little worms that Drudge always has on the Drudge Report? The scary little Ebola worms? Is that the real threat to national security?”

The woman went to Dartmouth.

She did go on to say that if we really want to stop Ebola the way to do it is to seal our borders. (For her, Ebola and small child refugees are the same thing.) Of course these people aren’t big believers in science, we knew that,

so one supposes it’s too much to ask for most of them to be able to tell the difference between lurid terrorist propaganda and a real existential threat from a deadly disease. (Some of them even believe that dinosaurs were on Noah’s Ark, which means they lived alongside humans.) Expecting them to understand the meaning of a real threat may be a bit beyond their capability.

Everyone should just pat these “thought leaders” on the head and say “that’s nice” whenever they start screeching about the next wave of scary monsters coming to kill us all in our beds. They don’t know what they’re talking about.

There may be monsters coming to kill us. But we can’t see them with the naked eye. And they aren’t making YouTube videos.

Heather Digby Parton, also known as “Digby,” is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

Will Self: The awful cult of the talentless hipster has taken over — NewStatesman UK

Our generation is to blame – we’re the ones who took the avant-garde and turned it into a successful rearguard action by the flying columns of capitalism’s blitzkrieg. [This is so good that I didn't highlight anything at all.]

by Will Self Published 15 September, 2014 – 10:00
A woman cheers on a team during the Hipster Olympics in Berlin. Photo: Getty

July 2014: it’s breakfast time at the Farmer’s Daughter, a boutique motel in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles. The decor is suggestive of some deconstructed Midwestern idyll, what with old farming implements nailed up against one exterior wall, yards of gingham hanging from assorted rails and plenty of rough-hewn yet varnished wood. The establishment is constructed around an exterior courtyard, and as I take my seat, intent on caffeine and carbohydrate, the soft, fume-tangy morning air is pulverised by the reverberating bassline of Massive Attack’s 1995 single “Karmacoma”. It makes me think of the neon-furred nights I endured that year, when, my synapses misfiring in a slop of MDMA, I’d rear up to look blearily at the dawn.

I rear up and head over to reception for the usual useless parlaying: would they please turn the music down? No, they would not, because they cannot comprehend why anyone wouldn’t want to eat their waffles to the accompaniment of loud trip-hop . . . When I reassume my seat, looking frazzled and out of sorts, one of my sons bellows sympathy over the shingly sonic backwash, and I say: “Really, it’s OK. After all, it’s my generation that’s to blame for this bullshit culture.”

And we are, aren’t we, us fiftysomethings? We’re the pierced and tattooed, shorts-wearing, skunk-smoking, OxyContin-popping, neurotic dickheads who’ve presided over the commoditisation of the counterculture; we’re the ones who took the avant-garde and turned it into a successful rearguard action by the flying columns of capitalism’s blitzkrieg; we’re the twats who sat there saying that there was no distinction between high and popular culture, and that adverts should be considered as an art form; we’re the idiots who scrumped the golden apples from the Tree of Jobs until our bellies swelled and we jetted slurry from our dickhead arseholes – slurry we claimed was “cultural criticism”.

So all I can do is sit there and reflect on the great world-girdling mass of mindless attitudinising that passes for “hip” in the third millennium since the death of the great sandal-wearing hippie. In 2005 Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris’s satirical series Nathan Barley aired on British television; in it, they portrayed the nascent scene around Shoreditch and Hoxton in east London as a miserable gallimaufry of web-headed, tiny-bike-riding, moronic poseurs. Watching these programmes again nearly a decade on, I’m struck not only by the uncanny prescience of Brooker and Morris, but, far more disturbingly, by how nothing has changed. Changed, that is, qualitatively – if you walk down Brick Lane nowadays you see the same beards, low-cut T-shirts and fixed-wheel bikes; and if you eavesdrop on conversations you hear the same idiotic twittering about raves and virtual art forms; but quantitatively the picture has been utterly transformed: this quarter of the metropolis is positively haunching with dickheads – but then so is Manchester’s Northern Quarter, or Clifton in Bristol, or the West End of Glasgow. If you venture further afield you will find dickheads the world over – downtown Reykjavik, I discovered to my horror, is a phantasmagoria of frothy-coffee joints and vinyl record shops.

Comrade Stalin once observed that “Quantity has a quality all its own”, and the sheer quantity of dickheads now wandering bemusedly around the world represents, in my view, a big shift in cultural dynamics. In Los Angeles, arguably their Mecca, to be a dickhead is unremarkable; but Portlandia, the US equivalent to Nathan Barley, posits the Oregonian city as a sort of time capsule of all that’s righteously hip. The theme tune is a song featuring the lyric: “The spirit of the Nineties is alive in Portland!” If only that were the only place it was alive – but the truth is that this seisdick shift is global. If you log on to YouTube and key in “Being a Dickhead’s Cool”, you’ll be subjected to two and a half minutes of satiric genius. Reuben Dangoor, who wrote and sings this ditty, doesn’t seem to have done much else with his life, but frankly he doesn’t need to. With lines such as “I remember when the kids at school would call us names/Now we’re taking over their estates” he has so effectively skewered the phenomenon that he can rest eternally on his twisted laurels.

The rousing chorus of the song – “I love my life as a dickhead/All my friends are dickheads too” – suggests to me why the dickhead is at one with the zeitgeist. By providing even the most woefully untalented with an outlet for their “creativity”, the web has massively enlarged the numbers who style themselves as “artistic”, as well as increased the duration of their futile aspiration. In the kidult dickhead milieu, it’s now quite possible to encounter fortysomethings with weird facial hair, wearing shorts and still resolutely believing that their career is about to take off.

And in a way I suppose they’re right, because the totalising capability of dickheads + web = an assumed equivalence between all remotely creative forms of endeavour. Nowadays someone who sticks old agricultural implements on the wall of a Los Angeles motel regards himself as on a par with Michelangelo; moreover, since all their friends are dickheads, too, no one is about to disabuse them. Hell, on Planet Dickhead just turning up the trip-hop can be a work of unalloyed genius.

Sweden’s election has uncomfortable lessons for UK’s Cameron and Miliband [and Obama/Hillary/Democrats] — New Statesman UK

The centre-right was defeated after failed privatisations, but a weak centre-left fell short of a majority.

by George Eaton

Social Democratic leader Stefan Loefven addresses supporters at an election night party. Photograph: Getty Images.

Perhaps no small country enjoys a more disproportionate influence at Westminster than Sweden. Its elections and politics are studied for lessons in enlightened social policy and as reliable indicators of Europe’s ideological trajectory.

Both David Cameron and Ed Miliband, in their own ways, are admirers of the country, which still ranks as one of the world’s most successful. Long before entering Downing Street, Cameron forged an alliance with its now former prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, who had similarly sought to reposition his right-wing party, the Moderates, as a centrist outfit. After 2010, the pair championed the causes of EU reform and free trade, while their respective finance ministers, George Osborne and Anders Borg, swapped tips on fiscal conservatism. Those on the free-market right of Cameron’s party praised Sweden’s experiment in for-profit free schools and privatised health care.

As a proud social democrat, Miliband continues to draw inspiration from Sweden’s expansive welfare state and its system of universal childcare. During a visit last year, he tweeted: “Just arriving at Swedish Parliament building, passing two Swedish fathers with pushchairs. Scandinavian scene.” When aides briefly lost him at the airport, they joked that he had defected.

Cameron and Miliband will have watched Sweden’s general election on 14 September with interest and some discomfort. After eight years in opposition – their longest ever spell out of government – the Social Democrats have returned to power. With the resignation of Reinfeldt as prime minister, Cameron has lost one of his closest EU allies, further shifting the odds against a successful renegotiation if he wins the next general election. The defeat of the Moderates, whose vote fell by 7 points to 23 per cent, marks a revolt against privatisation and tax cuts for the wealthy, policies also pursued in the UK by the coalition. That the right’s eviction from power followed a period of strong and sustained economic growth is another reminder that the Conservatives may yet endure their own voteless recovery.

For Miliband, however, the precedents are not all encouraging. Although the Social Democrats finished first, their vote share increased by just 1 point to 31 per cent and even with the support of their putative coalition partners, the Greens (7 per cent) and the Left Party (6 per cent), they fell short of an overall majority.

This anaemic performance was the result of the Feminist Initiative, which split the progressive vote but fell short of the 4 per cent required for parliamentary representation, and the grim rise of the Sweden Democrats: the far-right party finished third and more than doubled its support to 13 per cent after a campaign that preyed on anxieties over immigration.

The parallels with Britain are suggestive. Here, too, the centre left leads in the polls but not by the margin historically required for an overall majority. After uniting progressive opinion against the coalition earlier in the parliament, Labour has shed supporters to the Greens, who are enjoying their best ratings in 15 years. Meanwhile, it is the insurgent right, in the form of Ukip, that lies in third place.

The Social Democrat leader, Stefan Löfven, whom Miliband met last year, will now assume power as the head of a weak coalition that lacks the support required for radical change. To some in Labour, that looks worryingly like a prophecy of their fate after May 2015.

This piece appears in this week’s New Statesman.

Eugenics: Made in America: ["We Built That"] — At Elite Media, ‘Scientific’ Racists Fit in Fine — FAIR

Nicholas Wade’s NYT science writing thrilled white supremacists


“Science is ALWAYS TENTATIVE and ALWAYS HAS SOME SORT OF BIAS.” — thom prentice.

When reading about science, ONE MUST ALSO be mindful of the science-based American Obsession with — the American Campaign to BUILD A MASTER RACE — EUGENICS and ETHNIC CLEANSING and GENOCIDE — something that was probably ***missed*** in your high school and college history and science textbooks and seems to always be missed on NatGeo, NOVA and Discover and similar channels and documentaries.

EUGENICS in SOME FORM seems to PERMEATE EVERYTHING in AMERICAN CULTURE but under cover, covert, hidden — the “science that dare not speak its name”. For the definitive work on EUGENICS/RACISM/WHITE SUPREMACY and the AMERICAN CAMPAIGN OF ETHIC CLEANSING, GENOCIDE AND EUGENICS which Hitler and Mengele copies ver batim, please get a copy of Edwin Black’s

“War Against the Weak: Eugenics and America’s Campaign to Create a Master Race” (paper, 2012, originally published 2003).

Amazon Blurb:”War Against the Weak is the gripping chronicle documenting how American corporate philanthropies [Rockefeller, Carnegie, others] launched a national campaign of ethnic cleansing in the United States, helped found and fund the Nazi eugenics of Hitler and Mengele — and then created the modern movement of “human genetics.” Some 60,000 Americans were sterilized under laws in 27 states. This expanded edition includes two new essays on state genocide..”

I have to say that I am increasingly wary and even leery of all the “ooh-ahh” and “near-hysteric EUREKA!” reporting about ANYTHING about genetics — mostly because of what I know that I don’t know and I am wary of being misled as I have been over much science reportage of the past six decades. The images from Hubble are stupendous, even in false color, but the answers my friends and dear readers, to paraphrase Shakespeare from Julius Caesar, “is not in our stars, But in ourselves”. And from Dylan via Peter, Paul and Mary: “The answer my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, the answer is blowin’ in the wind.”


By Steve Rendall

[If you must read THIS Eugencist/Racist book, don't buy it, get it from the library.]

Nicholas Wade was a leading New York Times science writer for three decades, at one point the editor of the “Science Times” section. He retired from full-time work at the paper in 2012, and in May 2014 published “A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race and Human History,” a book that has been described as a full-throated defense of “scientific racism” (New Statesman, 5/20/14). Wade’s embrace of the pseudoscience of eugenics raises questions about his tenure at the Times, and about corporate media vigilance when it comes to racism.

Media frequently fail to challenge racism in high places (FAIR Blog, 6/27/14)—in part because some highly placed corporate media figures are themselves attracted to racialist ideologies. Extra! (4/05) documented this after New York Times columnists David Brooks (12/7/04) and John Tierney (10/24/04) approvingly cited the work of Steve Sailer, a central figure in the promotion of racist and anti-immigrant theories.

For his part, Brooks praised a Sailer article in the American Conservative (12/20/04) that celebrated white people who flouted the Western trend toward declining birth rates, having lots of children and leaving behind what Brooks called the “disorder, vulgarity and danger” of cities to move to “clean, orderly” suburban and exurban settings where they can “protect their children from bad influences.”

Sailer himself made clear what those bad influences were, mentioning “ghetto hellions,” “illegal immigrants and other poor minorities.”[DOES THIS INFORM RIGHT SECTOR, EVEN DEMOCRATIC (CLINTON/OBAMA DISCOURSE) AND CAPITALIST POLITICAL DISCOURSE IN AMERICA? You Decide.]

In 1994, when Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray published “The Bell Curve, a book espousing the so-called “academic racist” theories that black people are inherently less intelligent and more prone to crime than whites or Asians, the New York Times Book Review (10/16/94) published a fawning, credulous review by Times science reporter Malcolm Browne.

The Times wasn’t the only “liberal” outlet to praise a book that, according to co-author Murray (New York Times Magazine, 10/9/94), was largely based on sources so odious he would hide them from public view. The putatively liberal New Republic verily gushed over the book, with editor Andrew Sullivan dedicating an entire issue of the magazine (10/31/94) to it.

In that issue, Sullivan himself defended the book’s key premise: “The notion that there might be resilient ethnic differences in intelligence is not, we believe, an inherently racist belief.” [Yes THAT Andrew Sullivan of "The Dish".]

FAIR’s Jim Naureckas (Extra!, 1/95) answered Sullivan and fellow Bell Curve defenders:

In fact, the idea that some races are inherently inferior to others is the definition of racism.

What the New Republic was saying–along with other media outlets that prominently and respectfully considered the thesis of Charles Murray and the late Richard Herrnstein’s book–is

that racism is a respectable intellectual position, and has a legitimate place in the national debate on race.

[I would merely add here that one must define "inferior" and "superior". Were one to define "inferior" using Hiroshima; Auschwitz; crucifixion; the death penalty; empire; unending European and "Western" war with hundreds of millions of deaths and wounded; one Chernobyl after Fukishima after another; smoking; pesticides; genocide after genocide particularly of AmerIndians and Neanderthals; total hypocrisy and deceit; slavery - particularly of Africans; codification of lying; denial and cheating as a social and economic structure; "hate" and "abuse" as a way of life"; and, ahem addictive, obsessive extraction of fossil fuels for use as largely WASTED energy bringing about ADC Anthropogenic Climate Disruption -- Global Warming -- one MUST only conclude that the "SUPERIOR" race is CERTAINLY NOT the WHITE ONE! The "CIVILIZED ONE"." The MONOTHEISTIC ONE.]


It goes without saying that a right-wing outlet like the National Review, long steeped in bogus IQ science, biological determinism and plain old racism (Extra!, 4/05, 6/08; FAIR Blog, 4/11/12), was thrilled by The Bell Curve, dedicating most of an issue to the book (12/5/94), including an approving piece by Arthur Jensen, a patriarch of scientific racism, and one of the sources Murray had to keep hidden.

This brings us to A Troublesome Inheritance, in which a long-time New York Times science writer came fully out of the closet as an adherent of racist pseudoscience.

Wade argues that race is not, as many experts say, little more than a social construct, but rather centrally important, something like destiny. One culture’s superiority over another, Wade argues, is determined by evolutionary differences—genetics—forged by differing environments and manifested in various cultures. This leads Wade to some crude conclusions, like suggesting that Jews are genetically selected to be good with money:

Populations that live at high altitudes, like Tibetans, represent another adaptation to extreme environments. The adaptation of Jews to capitalism is another such evolutionary process.

Expanding on the lack of economic success in African nations relative to those in Western Europe, Wade writes, “Variations in their nature, such as their time preference, work ethic and propensity to violence, have some bearing on the economic decisions they make.”

Perhaps Wade’s conclusions aren’t surprising, considering his sources. As Jon Phillips writes in “Troublesome Sources: Nicholas Wade’s Embrace of Scientific Racism” (Hatewatch, 5/28/14), Wade employed leading scientific racists Arthur Jensen and Richard Lynn—two of Murray’s favorite sources—but didn’t seem too eager to put their work in context:

Wade manages to write a summary of American eugenics that completely neglects to mention the Pioneer Fund. Founded by Nazi sympathizers in 1937, the Pioneer Fund was, and continues to be, the chief source of financial support for eugenic research in the postwar period. One cannot help but wonder if this omission is related to the fact that Wade approvingly cites Pioneer grantees like Arthur Jensen, and relies heavily on the work of the Fund’s current president, Richard Lynn, for data on the low IQs of black populations worldwide.

There’s one encouraging sign resulting from the publication of A Troublesome Inheritance: The book has fared badly with reviewers, even in the outlets where the harsher, more malicious Bell Curve thrived. For instance, Wade’s former home, the New York Times (5/15/14), ran a review that stated half-way in, “This is where Mr. Wade’s argument starts to go off the rails.” The reviewer is describing Wade’s views on the differences “between tribal and modern societies”:

At times, his theorizing is merely puzzling, as when he notes that the gene variant that gives East Asians dry earwax also produces less body odor, which would have been attractive “among people spending many months in confined spaces to escape the cold.” No explanation of why ancient Europeans, presumably cooped up just as much, didn’t also develop this trait. Later, he speculates that thick hair and small breasts evolved in Asian women because they may have been “much admired by Asian men.” And why, you might ask, did Asian men alone prefer these traits?

The New Republic (5/25/14), which gushed over Herrnstein and Murray’s book,

called Wade’s “racist” and its arguments “stupid,” shooting holes in its scientific rigor and unsupported assumptions. Perhaps a different editor and the fact that the piece was a reprint from the leftish UK magazine New Statesman (5/20/14) made the difference, but the New Republic seems to have changed its mind about scientific racism.

Statistician Andrew Gelman (Slate, 5/8/14) elaborated on Wade’s gene obsession, showing how his assumptions often get him into trouble. For instance, in one passage, Wade asks, “Capital and information flow fairly freely, so what is it that prevents poor countries from taking out a loan, copying every Scandinavian institution, and becoming as rich and peaceful as Denmark?” Wade wants us to assume that genes are the answer; however, writes Gelman,

one might just as well ask why can’t Buffalo, New York, take out a loan and become as rich (per capita) as New York City. Or, for that matter, why can’t Portugal become as rich as Denmark? After all, Portuguese are Caucasians too!

And Wade’s genetic obsession isn’t anything new. In “The Hunt for the Hat Gene” (Language Log, 11/15/09), University of Pennsylvania linguist Mark Liberman noted Wade’s bizarre insistence in his Times reporting that every human action, cultural trait or behavior must have a corresponding gene, and how this apparent genetic fetish led him to over-interpreting or even fabricating the science:

Nicholas Wade is an inveterate gene-for-X enthusiast–he’s got 68 stories in the NYT index with “gene” in the headline–and he’s had two opportunities to celebrate this idea in the past few days: “Speech Gene Shows Its Bossy Nature,” 11/12/09, and “The Evolution of the God Gene,” 11/14/09.

Liberman explains why the first of these stories was “basically nonsense,” while describing the second as “a completely hypothetical just-so story” that “verges on the bizarre.”

Perhaps most telling, and damning, is the warm reception Wade’s book got from openly racist outlets, including the website VDARE (3/14/14), where racebaiting former National Review writer John Derbyshire weighed in with “heartfelt” praise; former National Review contributor Sailer published a positive review in Taki’s Magazine (4/30/14). Self-described white separatist Jared Taylor wrote his own fawning review on his American Renaissance website (3/2/14).

“Wade admits what Dr. David Duke and many others have long maintained—that there is indeed a biological basis to race,” Duke’s website (5/12/14) declared in a piece about “How Jewish Supremacism Attempts to Guard the Gates of Science.”

The racists’ adoring reviews revealed that they have had a fond eye on Wade for years, seeing in him a like-minded thinker. For instance, in his VDARE review, Derbyshire harshly criticized the New York Times’ science section, but singled out Wade as an exception:

All the more reason to


Nicholas Wade, longtime science reporter at the Times. Wade belongs to the

older [EUGENICS] tradition of science writer…. In his articles on genetics, he has distinguished himself for at least the past dozen years by

writing frankly about biological race differences.

In Taki’s, Sailer also praised Wade’s Times work, including a Times editorial (6/15/11) he wrote blasting the late paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould for being too hard on a racist scientist. [!!!!!]

Wade last wrote for the Times on May 27, three weeks after his book was released. It’s striking that in all those years that the racist right was admiring Wade’s work, the Times either didn’t notice or didn’t care.

Nicholas Wade – White Supremacists ‘treasure him’. Wade was a science writer for THE NEW YORK TIMES and editor of SCIENCE TIMES Monday Section over a period of THIRTY YEARS. THIRTY YEARS! SCIENCE WRITING CAN BE AS PERMEATED WITH BIAS AS ANY OTHER WRITING. [Over the decades I had an inchoate, uneasy, feeling while reading Science Times .. as if there was a big something that was there but wasn't perceptible. This is it. And maybe its just me, but something about Wade's eyes kinda creeps me out.]