Thursday Reads: Bitter White Men, the Petraeus Affair, and GOP Cluelessness

Good Morning!!

Following on Dakinikat’s post about the bitter old white men who can’t handle four more years with a black president, I recommend you read a scary article by J.M. Berger at Foreign Policy on “Why white nationalists are thrilled with Obama’s victory.” Several white supremacist leaders are quoted in the piece; I’ll just give you a couple of examples.

Kevin MacDonald, a professor of psychology whose anti-Semitic writings make him a favorite of Neo-Nazis, penned a pro-secession piece for a prominent white identity site, The Occidental Observer, that might finally get him fired from California State University, where he inexplicably still works.

White males constituted only 34% of the electorate and this will continue to decline. It’s no accident that stocks of gun companies soared after the election, even though the stock market as a whole took a dive. What we have here is a situation in which around 70% of traditional American White men (correcting for the overly inclusive White’ category used by the media) are now pretty much officially disenfranchised in a country where they see themselves as the founding population. That’s a lot of angry White men….

It may take a while for this 70% to wake up to the reality that they are politically impotent. But it will happen. Separatist movements in the many states that are deeply red are certainly a possibility. … Is there any other realistic alternative? Apart from futile violence against the Leviathan, do White men really have any other choice?

The concept of a wake-up call articulated by MacDonald was widely echoed in posts on white nationalist blogs and forums. Some thought it would come sooner, others thought it might come later, but many agreed the writing was on the wall.

Then there’s John Derbyshire, who was fired from National Review earlier this year.

When you look at the overall picture, however, we are still fighting the Civil War. That is to say, the contest was mainly between two huge groups of white people who don’t much like each other, with the colored folk playing a marginal role. That’s how it was in the War Between the States, and that’s how it still is today.

He went on to suggest whites will ultimately have no choice but to unite as a race-based voting bloc. The current problem, Derbyshire explained, was that “Republicans are white, sure enough, but whites are not Republican.”

Berger concludes that when these groups finally realize that history and demographics are leaving them behind, they will have no choice but to turn to violence. I just hope the Secret Service and FBI are aware of and ready to deal with this threat from the right.

Disgraced General David Petraeus will testify before Congress on Benghazi today “behind closed doors,” according to the Washington Post.

He is likely to be asked — both by reporters on his way in and by lawmakers — about any possible intelligence breaches involving his biographer, Paula Broadwell. Law enforcement officials said Broadwell is the woman with whom the retired general has acknowledged having an affair….

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told reporters Wednesday that Petraeus has agreed to testify. After his sudden resignation, acting CIA Director Michael Morell had been tapped to appear in Petreaus’s place.

“Gen. Petraeus is willing to come before the committee and the details will be worked out,” Feinstein said.

Noam Scheiber has an interesting and thoughtful piece about the relationship between Paula Broadstone and David Petraeus: Paula Broadwell, a Hanger-On in King Petraeus’s Court. According to Scheiber, the people around Petraeus could not understand how Broadwell managed to get so close to this supposedly “intellectual” general.

Petraeus wasn’t just the Army’s most famous general. He was the military’s best-known and most accomplished intellectual. If he wanted an official biography, he could have had his pick of dozens of scholars and writers. “My gosh, if you are going to have someone interview everyone who has ever touched you in your life, choose someone who has written a biography or at least a history book,” Peter Mansoor, one of the general’s top aides, told The Washington Post.

Scheiber describes Petraeus as the “ultimate meritocrat–with his Ph.D. from Princeton and his reputation as a “brainiac.”

[T]he term “meritocracy”—a bit like its cousin, “the best and the brightest”—wasn’t actually intended to be complimentary. It entered the lexicon through a book, “The Rise of the Meritocracy,” by the British social thinker Michael Young, who imagined a dystopian world in which a small group of highly educated elites controls society. The meritocrats persuade themselves that, unlike the ruling classes that came before them, they are uniquely deserving of power because they earned it rather than inherited it. (And they have the SAT scores to prove it, by God!) And yet, over time, they somehow manage to become just as inbred, self-serving, and corrupt.

Over time, Petraeus went through that same transformation, surrounding himself with

…growing hoards of groupies who descended on his command posts, including conservative think-tankers from Washington, for whom he arranged office space and aircraft….Paula Broadwell, it turns out, was the kind of hanger-on whose arrival heralds a meritocracy in decline. Outwardly, she checked all the right sociological boxes: High school valedictorian, all-state basketball player, West Point alum, Harvard master’s degree. But, up close, she could be remarkably shallow. “There was no room for a conversation of shortcomings of the Petraeus theology. She wasn’t a reporter. She struck me as an acolyte,” a wonk who met her told the Post. “I was underwhelmed….

What Broadwell excelled at instead was leveraging credentials to impress fellow achievers. She didn’t stop at her own. When my friend met her, she was fond of pointing out that her husband was no mere radiologist but a special breed known as an “interventional radiologist.” (She would draw out the word “interventional” for emphasis.) Later, she would boast about hanging out with the glitterati on the panel-discussion circuit—“Heading 2 @AspenInstitute 4 the Security Forum tomorrow! Panel (media & terrorism) followed by a 1v1 run with Lance Armstrong,” she recently tweeted, according to the Times. She was a kind of successful-person trophy collector who made no apologies for her ambitions. (My friend remembers the Facebook appeal in which she asked, “Can anyone introduce me to Lance Armstrong?”)

It’s a fascinating article, and an antidote to all the trashy coverage of the Petraeus-Broadwell scandal in much of the corporate media.

Rosa Brooks has written another serious article on the Petraeus affair at Foreign Policy: Sex and the Modern Soldier. Brooks asks:

Does the U.S. military have an adultery problem? A woman problem? A generic, all-purpose craziness, sleaze, and corruption problem? A public-image problem?

Answering these questions in order, I can offer a definitive “sort of,” “kind of, “maybe,” and “very possibly.”

The article is too long and detailed to sum up quickly, but here’s an excerpt from the section on the military’s “woman problem.”

The military remains plagued by allegations of sexual harassment and assault, and a number of studies by the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs have concluded that women in the military face higher rates of sexual assault than do civilian women. Here again, no big surprise: The military remains an overwhelmingly male — and overwhelmingly macho — institution. Women are outnumbered and often rendered nearly invisible in a culture in which nearly all senior officers are male.

This extends to the home front, as well. In certain ways, the informal culture of military officers resembles the 1950s more than the 21st century. Military life isn’t just hard on marriage — it’s also hard on the careers of the (mostly female) civilian spouses of military personnel. Rising up the career ladder isn’t easy when you move from one military base to another every few years. One military friend of mine recalls a general telling junior officers — in a recent lecture at an official Army command training event — that they should actively discourage their wives from pursuing careers, because career women would be less supportive and flexible military wives. And though official publications now speak of officers’ “spouses” rather than “wives,” the military still produces etiquette guides for spouses, with a rather gendered focus on appropriate forms of address at social functions and the proper pouring of tea and coffee.

Yuck. Read all about it at the link.

Frederick Humphries, FBI agent

Last link on the Petraeus clusterfu&ck: The NYT has learned the name of the mystery FBI agent who sent shirtless photos to Jill Kelley and disrupted the investigation by contacting Rep. Eric Cantor.

The F.B.I. agent who spurred the investigation that led to the resignation of David H. Petraeus as C.I.A. director is a “hard-charging” veteran who helped investigate the foiled millennium terrorist plot in 1999, colleagues said on Wednesday.

The agent, Frederick W. Humphries II, 47, is also described by former colleagues as relentless in his pursuit of what he sees as wrongdoing, which appears to describe his role in the F.B.I. investigation involving Mr. Petraeus. Suspecting that the case involved serious security issues and was being stalled, possibly for political reasons — a suspicion his superiors say was unjustified — he took his concerns to Congressional Republicans.

“Fred is a passionate kind of guy,” one former colleague said. “He’s kind of an obsessive type. If he locked his teeth onto something, he’d be a bulldog.”

Humphries says that the shirtless photos were sent to Jill Kelley long before the Petraeus investigation and were simply a “joke.”

I know everyone has probably heard already about how Mitt Romney spoke to donors yesterday on a conference call and insulted women, African Americans, Latinos, and young people by claiming that these groups voted to reelect Barack Obama because he <a showered them with “gifts” during his first term. But I can’t help including it, because it’s so typical of the cluelessness that Romney and his supporters showed throughout his campaign.  Here’s how the NYT Caucus Blog reported on the call:

In a conference call with fund-raisers and donors to his campaign, Mr. Romney said Wednesday afternoon that the president had followed the “old playbook” of using targeted initiatives to woo specific interest groups — “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”

“In each case, they were very generous in what they gave to those groups,” Mr. Romney said, contrasting Mr. Obama’s strategy to his own of “talking about big issues for the whole country: military strategy, foreign policy, a strong economy, creating jobs and so forth.” ….

“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” Mr. Romney said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”

The president’s health care plan, he said, was also a useful tool in mobilizing black and Hispanic voters. Though Mr. Romney won the white vote with 59 percent, according to exit polls, minorities coalesced around the president in overwhelming numbers: 93 percent of blacks and 71 percent of Hispanics.

“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge,” Mr. Romney said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”

Breathtaking, isn’t it? This man really needs to go away and never be heard from again. I certainly hope Obama won’t consult him on anything, including what the weather is like outside his window. Goodbye, Mitt. Please don’t ever come back.

Finally, this one is for JJ. Check out this article at Mother Jones: Top Georgia GOP Lawmakers Host Briefing on Secret Obama Mind-Control Plot.

President Obama is using a Cold War-era mind-control technique known as “Delphi” to coerce Americans into accepting his plan for a United Nations-run communist dictatorship in which suburbanites will be forcibly relocated to cities. That’s according to a four-hour briefing delivered to Republican state senators at the Georgia state Capitol last month.

On October 11, at a closed-door meeting of the Republican caucus convened by the body’s majority leader, Chip Rogers, a tea party activist told Republican lawmakers that Obama was mounting this most diabolical conspiracy. The event—captured on tape by a member of the Athens-based watchdog Better Georgia (who was removed from the room after 52 minutes)—had been billed as an information session on Agenda 21, a nonbinding UN agreement that commits member nations to promote sustainable development. In the eyes of conservative activists, Agenda 21 is a nefarious plot that includes forcibly relocating non-urban-dwellers and prescribing mandatory contraception as a means of curbing population growth. The invitation to the Georgia state Senate event noted the presentation would explain: “How pleasant sounding names are fostering a Socialist plan to change the way we live, eat, learn, and communicate to ‘save the earth.'”

There’s much much more insanity at the link.

Now what’s on your reading and blogging list for today?


Late Night: A Spooky Tale

Those of us who remember the revelations of the Church Committee in the 1970s are at least somewhat familiar with the CIA’s Project MK ULTRA, a ghastly program that sponsored research on human subjects carried out by respected professors at prestigious universities.

Senator Edward Kennedy, 1977:

Some 2 years ago, the Senate Health Subcommittee heard chilling testimony about the human experimentation activities of the Central Intelligence Agency. The Deputy Director of the CIA revealed that over 30 universities and institutions were involved in an “extensive testing and experimentation” program which included covert drug tests on unwitting citizens “at all social levels, high and low, native Americans and foreign.” Several of these tests involved the administration of LSD to “unwitting subjects in social situations.”

One example is the CIA-sponsored work of famed personality psychologist Henry Murray at Harvard. Murray used Harvard students to carry out “research” in which he attempted to break down an individual’s defenses:

Henry Murray’s experiment was intended to measure how people react under stress. Murray subjected his unwitting students, including Kaczynski, to intensive interrogation — what Murray himself called “vehement, sweeping, and personally abusive” attacks, assaulting his subjects’ egos and most-cherished ideals and beliefs.

MK ULTRA researchers also famously dosed numerous people with LSD to see how they would react. Murray himself used LSD–he and Timothy Leary were on the Harvard psychology department faculty at the same time–and Murray may have administered the drug to his student subjects, one of whom was named Ted Kaczynski. That’s right, the man who later became the Unibomber.

Anyone who remembers this history could not be surprised by the collaboration of psychologists with the CIA in developing techniques of torture “enhanced interrogation” during the Bush years.

And now, all these years later, according to Raw Story,

A group of military veterans are suing to get the CIA to come clean about allegedly implanting remote control devices in their brains.

Whoa!

A 2009 lawsuit (.pdf) claimed that the CIA intended to design and test septal electrodes that would enable them to control human behavior. The lawsuit said that because the government never disclosed the risks, the subjects were not able to give informed consent.

Bruce Price, one plaintiff in the lawsuit, believes that MRI scans confirm that the CIA placed a device in his brain in 1966.

Recently, US Magistrate Judge James Larson ordered the CIA to:

produce records and testimony regarding the experiments conducted on thousands of soldiers from 1950 through 1975.

Dakinikat may be interested to know that much of this “research” was carried out at Tulane University.

According to the attorney for the Veterans, Gordon P. Erspamer:

papers filed in the case describe “electrical devices implanted in brain tissue with electrodes in various regions, including the hippocampus, the hypothalamus, the frontal lobe (via the septum), the cortex and various other places.”

Tulane claims they can’t produce any documents because they were lost during Hurricane Katrina.

This all sounds nuts, I know. But Jeff Stein, who writes the “Spy Talk” column at the Washington Post writes:

It’s not just science fiction — or the imaginings of the mentally ill.

In 1961, a top CIA scientist reported in an internal memo that “the feasibility of remote control of activities in several species of animals has been demonstrated…Special investigations and evaluations will be conducted toward the application of selected elements of these techniques to man,” according to “The CIA and the Search for the Manchurian Candidate,” a 1979 book by former State Department intelligence officer John Marks.

“[T]his cold-blooded project,” Marks wrote, “was designed … for the delivery of chemical and biological agents or for ‘executive action-type operations,’ according to a document. ‘Executive action’ was the CIA’s euphemism for assassination.”

The CIA pursued such experiments because it was convinced the Soviets were doing the same.

Spooky, huh?