Category Archives: Rants

America’s Laziest Fascist


May 20, 2004 | Michael Savage doesn’t get out much. The hardcore conservative radio host of “The Savage Nation” has always been a relatively reclusive figure. He doesn’t do book tours or publicity stunts. He’s not exactly approachable either: He claims to carry a gun with him at all times, and he doesn’t like nosy journalists asking for interviews.

Not that he’s the shy, retiring type. Lately, as the Iraq torture scandal has dominated the headlines, he has taken to calling Arabs “non-humans” and has called for the U.S. to kill “thousands” of Iraqi prisoners and nuke a random Arab capital. Deciding whether to pay attention to Savage has always been tricky, though. It’s never clear whether he really believes what he says in his tirades or if they are simply ploys for public outcry. His is currently the third-most-popular radio program in the nation. Nonetheless, it may be hard for Savage to sit by and watch the FCC’s crackdown against fellow jock Howard Stern effectively lift Stern’s profile even higher into the stratosphere. But Savage’s outbursts are often so unhinged, so vicious, that ignoring them seems irresponsible, especially when so many Americans apparently are nodding in agreement. So when I learned that Savage would be making his first public appearance in three years Saturday night, it seemed worth checking out, if only to see who was paying attention to him and why.

“Savage Uncensored,” as the event was called, marked the end of what’s been a crummy year for the once-hot Savage. Last March, MSNBC gave him a weekly program only to cancel it after four months when he labeled a caller a “sodomite” and told him to “get AIDS and die.” Then the San Francisco radio station that gave him his first big break dumped him and rubbed salt into the wound with billboards that depicted Savage morphing into Sean Hannity, beneath the slogan “Out With the Old, In with the New.” When a couple of anti-Savage Web sites started a boycott of his advertisers, his syndicator, Talk Radio Network, tried to revoke their domain names. When that failed, it tried to sue them for $1 million. That failed too.

Savage’s star may have faded, but it’s still too early to write him off, with “The Savage Nation” pulling in 6 million listeners a week. His latest screed against fifth columnists such as liberals, gays and atheists, “The Enemy Within,” debuted at No. 8 on the New York Times nonfiction list. But when it comes to the true measure of a talker’s cachet — buzz — Savage has slipped several notches in the past year. The anti-Savage sites are now dormant, their owners apparently satisfied that he would never make it back on TV. Fans and foes who once duked it out in Internet chat rooms appear to have moved on. These days, it seems the only people paying attention to Savage are diehard fans and perhaps a few incorrigible rubber-necking journalists.

Savage was scheduled to appear at the Concord Pavilion, an outdoor amphitheater in the suburban hills east of San Francisco. As a Metallica cover band called Creeping Death wailed, 5,000 or so people filed in to see him in the flesh. A quick look around made the demographics of the Savage Nation quickly apparent: Ninety percent were men and a good 95 percent were white. During the next three-and-a-half hours, there would be clear affirmation that they like gay jokes, Arab bashing and mass displays of patriotism. They will offer to share their freedom fries with a complete stranger. And when that stranger fails to boo liberals, holler the phrase “under God” during the Pledge of Allegiance or show sufficient enthusiasm for torturing Iraqis, they are polite enough not to drag him out to the parking lot and pummel him.

The crowd at Concord had paid as much as $100 for an evening of rhetorical red meat for the right-wing faithful. At first, we weren’t disappointed. But by the end of the night, I wasn’t the only one checking my watch.

Savage’s son, Russ Weiner, kicked off the show. With his spiky, dyed-orange hair and calculated scruffiness, he was reminiscent of Dr. Evil’s son Scott from the Austin Powers movies. The resemblance was confirmed when Weiner proclaimed, “I’m proud to be the son of Savage!” The 30-something Weiner is the founder of RockStar, an energy drink that he developed with his dad, drawing on Savage’s previous career as a Marin County herbalist and ethnobotanist named Michael Weiner. RockStar’s herbal liver-cleansing formula is supposed to enable drinkers to “party like a rock star,” which presumably means drinking and doping. Generous free samples had been passed out to the crowd on the way in. It lived up to its hype: The antifreeze-colored, cough-syrup-flavored beverage can only be enjoyed if you’re taking drugs.

But while Weiner has cashed in on other people’s bad behavior, he made it clear that he’s a family-values kind of guy. “Who’s heterosexual and proud?” he asked, prompting manly cheers. “If you’re not, hopefully you will be soon!” Before handing the stage over to the man he called “our leader,” he advised the audience how to handle his hot-tempered dad: “Let him know you love him!”

Love — or an acceptably heterosexual version of it — filled the air as Savage drove onto the stage in a classic red Cadillac convertible. He warmed up the audience by riffing on the day’s news, joking that “Shiite” should be spelled with one “I” and calling Muqtada al-Sadr “a fat bastard in a burka.” Dressed in a calfskin jacket, slouch hat and blue jeans, Savage was at ease, swearing freely and peppering his speech with “Hey, mans” that evoked his days as a North Beach beatnik wannabe. Whatever was in his coffee cup was certainly helping. When it ran dry, he called out, “I need a drink!” and a young woman sauntered over and poured champagne into the mug.

Like everyone else these days, Savage was fixated on Iraq and the Abu Ghraib prison abuse scandal. He managed to combine the two dominant conservative takes: The first being Rush Limbaugh’s insistence that what happened in Abu Ghraib was a harmless prank; the other being Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe’s assertion that the prisoners got what they deserved.

These are tough interrogations?” Savage asked. “My father put me through tougher interrogations when I was 16!” He portrayed now-infamous Abu Ghraib prison guard Lynndie England as a poster girl for the war on terrorism — an embodiment of the idea that kicking Muslim ass can be fun. “Let’s hear it for Laurie [sic] England!” he cheered. “The leash chick! Hey man, she had a great time over there!” He couldn’t understand why liberals were so outraged. After all, he said, the acts of sexual humiliation and degradation that took place in Abu Ghraib were no more perverted than typical homosexual behavior. Try to follow his tortured logic: Savage was saying he didn’t mind the Abu Ghraib abuses because they were good clean fun, like gay sex, which he openly abhors.

Savage moved on to another of his favorite topics: bombing the bejeezus out of Iraq. Just a few days before the Uncensored event, he’d been ranting on the radio about dropping fiery death on civilians throughout Iraq and the Middle East. “I don’t give a damn if they hide behind their women’s skirts,” he foamed. “Wipe the women out with them! Because it’s our women who got killed on 9/11! And it’s our women who are gonna get killed tomorrow unless we get rid of the bugs who are destroying us!” Tonight, Savage continued to elaborate on this disturbing vision of how to win the war in Iraq. He said he fantasized of being woken up by the sound of B-1 and B-52 bombers flying over his house on their way to the Middle East. Imagining bombers overhead at 4 a.m., he gushed about these nocturnal missions, “It’s better than an orgasm — it is an orgasm!

Savage continued the psychological striptease, peeling off more layers of mainstream conservatism to expose his raging right-wing id. Though he has long billed himself as the original “compassionate conservative,” his brand of conservatism does not share George W. Bush’s pretense of caring about Muslim hearts and minds, much less lives. It appears that for Savage, the war in Iraq has nothing to do with spreading democracy or respecting human rights. It is about asserting American power by any means necessary, and screw what anyone else thinks. Predictably, and sadly, this notion went over well with the audience. When Savage blurted out, “Does anyone in this crowd give a shit about the Iraqis?” he was answered with a deafening “NO!

But if the first half of the event showcased Savage’s ability to stir the faithful, the second half was an object lesson in how a performer can take his audience — and his talent — for granted. Basically, he bombed. He spent nearly 20 minutes sitting in a stuffed chair in front of a television set, free-associating as he channel surfed. Seeing footage of Jordan’s King Abdullah, he screamed, “Kiss my ass! Shut the hell up!” To a soccer match in Spanish, he quipped, “Reminds me of my gardener.” It was about as entertaining as watching a middle-aged man yelling at his living room TV. Savage eventually realized things weren’t going well. “You don’t like this shit,” he said. “It’s a bad act.

Some fans — mostly older people and parents with small children — started to leave. If this were radio, they would probably already have changed stations. Most of the audience stuck around as Savage went into freefall, flailing wildly for something to catch his fans’ attention. He read from the Bible, played with his new puppy, moaned about his “mother issues” and asked for more booze. The evening’s low point came when he played the audiotape of Nicholas Berg’s beheading over the P.A. system. Berg’s pitiful, frenzied screaming filled the amphitheater. Having not heard or seen the gruesome tape before, I covered my ears in shock. I was not alone. If Savage was trying to incite the audience, it didn’t work. Playing the tape only revealed his desperation for a reaction, any reaction.

What made you come out on this night?” he asked. “You see the vultures circling this great nation. We feel the vultures flying over the Concord Pavilion.” And perhaps they could smell Savage dying on the stage below.

In a last-ditch attempt to rouse the listless crowd, Savage tried to root out some closet liberals. “Is there any asshole here who hates me, who’s gonna try and rush the stage?” he asked. It was a long way between the cheap seats and the stage, but I was getting tired and bored. Rushing the stage might have prolonged the evening by a few more minutes, so I stayed put. Hurrying off stage, Savage promised, “Wait till you see the close.

Luckily, the finale lasted all of 15 seconds. From the wings, Savage, obviously thinking he was off-mic, barked, “Play the Arab music!” A Middle Eastern tune blared as his red Cadillac lurched onto the stage. Savage was perched on the back seat, dressed in white robes and sunglasses, looking like a costume-party sheik. As the car disappeared off stage, he waved to the crowd, “Goodbye, infidels! I’ll see you in hell!” And with that, “Savage Uncensored” slouched to its perplexing though somehow fitting conclusion.

The house lights came on, revealing a few thousand blinking and bewildered fans — Savage had just resoundingly bombed on his home turf. “That’s it?” wondered one woman behind me, with real disappointment in her voice. “He said he was going to do Dr. UnSavage,” she said, referring to one of the jock’s longtime on-air characters. A couple of young guys shook their heads. “He misread his audience,” one said. His friend added, “He got into the champagne too much.” Maybe some RockStar would have helped.

His poor performance was not entirely surprising. Unlike his compatriots Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Dr. Laura, Savage often comes off as a remarkably amateurish and lazy showman. None of his colleagues — no matter how big their egos — would dare adlib their way through a two-hour live performance.

Savage’s unprofessionalism makes it easy for liberals to dismiss him as a crank. But that’s an easy way to overlook his ever-more xenophobic, homophobic and authoritarian political message. Ultimately, his invective may be what keeps his listeners coming back for more. Savage says what many mainstream conservatives can’t or won’t. As frustration with the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq adventure and the war on terror grows, his message holds appeal for those who believe nothing but desperate measures will work against an increasingly hostile world. And so, Savage will keep calling for Iraqi prisoners to be sodomized with dynamite. If he’s lucky, such antics may score him a public showdown with the FCC. Or perhaps he will finally rant his way into oblivion. Considering the recent developments in Iraq, even if Savage waits another three years to emerge from his veil of heavily armed privacy, there may be no shortage of fodder for his bizarre stage spectacle and the audience it attracts.

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Disturbing Revelation

As a kid, one of my favorite games was Contra for the original Nintendo NES. As an adult, I now know this game was a propaganda effort to raise support for the reactionary Contras in Nicaragua fighting against the Sandinista government.

  • The ending theme of the original game was titled “Sandinista” (サンディニスタ?).
  • You’re known as a “Contra” and you fight against evil aliens called “Red Falcon.”
  • The two main characters were modeled after reactionary action actors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.
  • They are on a mission from the U.S. imperialists to kill all Red Falcons that are planning “an invasion” of Earth (the U.S.).
  • To make matters worse, in the Japanese version you fight on the fictional Oceania archipelago of “Galuga.”
  • The American NES version takes place in the present (1980’s at the release of the game), in South America. Yes, they were that ballsy.

History

“Contra” literally meant counterrevolutionary for those in Nicaragua. They were fighting against the democratic socialist Sandinistas with help from Ronald Reagan’s cronies. Congress was so horrified by the Contras they even cut off funding in 1985, which led Reagan and the CIA to start covert illegal funding, ergo, the Iran-Contra Affair.

The Contras committed atrocities:

“But despite the efforts of the White House PR machine, the Contras increasingly appeared to be a particularly ruthless and bloodthirsty bunch. Stories of atrocities against civilian noncombatants certainly didn’t help. In the words of human rights group Americas Watch, ‘the Contras systematically engage in violent abuses … so prevalent that these may be said to be their principle means of waging war.’ Another NGO compiled a year’s worth of Contra atrocities, which included murder, rape, torture, maiming children, cutting off arms, cutting out tongues, gouging out eyes, castration, bayoneting pregnant women in the stomach, and amputating genitals.”

Good stuff, eh?

Imagine all the people who donated 53¢ to see people…kill people. For democracy.

President Ronald Reagan explains who is fighting to overthrow the current Nicaraguan regime:

“Thousands who fought with the Sandinistas have taken up arms against them and are now called the Contras. They are freedom fighters.”

President Ronald Reagan attempts to drum up public support for the Contras:

“They are our brothers, these freedom fighters, and we owe them our help. I’ve spoken recently of the freedom fighters of Nicaragua. You know the truth about them. You know who they’re fighting and why. They are the moral equal of our Founding Fathers and the brave men and women of the French Resistance.”

Try saying video games are “class neutral” now, liberals.

Nepal’s Maoists: Surrender is “Undogmatic”

CHITWAN, Nepal — In a major step forward in Nepal’s tortured peace process, Maoist political leaders on Saturday formally relinquished control of their 19,000-member army to a special governmental committee.

At a ceremony held about 110 miles from the capital, Katmandu, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, chairman of the Unified Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) signed a statement with the country’s caretaker interim prime minister, Madhav Kumar Nepal. Then the prime minister raised the national flag over a gathering of former Maoist fighters.

“It is a positive development,” said Samuel Tamrat, a senior United Nations official. “It shows the parties are keen to move forward and take responsibility.”

The unresolved status of the Maoist combatants had been a constant concern since Maoist leaders signed an agreement in 2006 ending their decade-old guerrilla war and allowing the Maoists to form a political party that would participate in writing a new constitution.

But Maoist leaders and Nepal’s other political parties bickered for almost five years over how to reintegrate the fighters, essentially leaving the Maoist army intact and outside the government’s authority.

Their presence has deadlocked the broader effort to write the new constitution. And for the past six months, Nepal has had a caretaker government as the parties have been unable to agree on a prime minister. Even with the handover complete, the terms of how the fighters will be returned to society or blended into security forces are still being negotiated. The government has a deadline to finish that work, choose a new prime minister and complete a constitution by the end of May.

“I want the integration and rehabilitation of all the Maoist combatants to happen as soon as possible,” said one of the fighters, Sarjan Bk, 27. “We have been staying here for more than four years.”

Kiran Chapagain reported from Chitwan, and Jim Yardley from New Delhi.

Thoughts on the DPRK

It is a well-known fact that there has not been any famine in North Korea since 1997, and that the famine that did exist was mostly the result of serious natural disasters and leftover destruction from the Korean War, not mismanagement. The videos repeatedly shown today as starving North Koreans are all from pre-1997. The US invaded North Korea on June 25, 1950 to consume it in the Syngman Rhee dictatorship that ruled in the South. In 1949 alone, there were 2,913 such incidents, some with thousands of troops. Finally, the North responded with a full invasion of the South. This is what the US government means when it says the North “started the war.”

Why is Revisionism the Enemy?

Recently a group of revisionists tried to liquidate your author’s arguments and activism by bringing up his past history of being in a variety of revisionist parties and over time changing his ideology. It is precisely because I was a member of these revisionist groups that I see revisionism for what it is. I was personally shown the ropes. But I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t buy Trotskyism or Maoism, I couldn’t follow the liberal line, and eventually saw they were all hot air and no substance.

The propagation of revisionist theories is the advocacy of bringing knives to a gunfight. It revises fundamental principles of the theory and advocates for our slaughter. Liberalized “anti-dogmatism” in the vein of the Kasamaites, Titoites, Brezhnevites and Maoists doesn’t have the strength to stop an international genocide. The reason we have to combat revisionism is for the success of revolution, and the reason we must succeed is to stop what can only be described as a genocide.

All one has to do is think of one case of suffering, and then try to imagine it multiplied exponentially. The utter depravity of what world capitalism brings about is enough to make one physically sick. Revisionists advocate peaceful co-existance and collaboration with the forces responsible for this state of affairs. This is the hallmark of all revisionists from Tito to Kautsky to Kasama Project.

The Quest for “Authenticity” in Art

“Authenticity” as preached by today’s critics is an idealist concept. The concept of “art” is an era of mechanical, industrial production frequently comes under fire by critics, who insist that the “passion” and “talent” of the art of old is all but lost on today’s youth culture, that Shakespeare is somehow more worthy of praise than modern writers, that the Rolling Stones had more “depth” and “character” than modern bands. While this notion may in some ways be right, it is wrong about quite a few of its major accounts.

The critics’ reactions to changes in the production of art-such as the fact that Van Gogh’s starry night piece now adorns many bedrooms throughout the US-are quite typical of intellectuals seeking the “real” in all things art-related. It makes me wonder how these same intellectuals feel about their books and essays being continuously reproduced, cited and read the world over due to the means of production-the publishing company-upon which they are dependant. Does that fact undermine their work’s “realness?” Does the mechanically reproduced plethora of copies diminish the “aura” of an original work of art, or do they increase it? Familiarity with copies of a painting will enhance response to the original when it is finally encountered. The work’s uniqueness is emphasized by reproduction. The only way this does not happen is if some of the original work’s revolutionary fervor is watered down by the other, copying works, in which case it is not the original work at all.

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Modernism

The word “modernism” is intentionally ambiguous, and perhaps without realizing it is a fitting term for such a literary movement. In the most common usage it refers to the twentieth-century movement that began with the concept of the “modern” (obviously, since without this word how could one have modern-ism?) and ended up being a collection of authors and works characterized by efforts by the individual character and author to remold and reshape reality while reflecting its social ills. This is quite a simplistic analysis of an entire movement, but I will go into greater detail below.

Modernism took elements from realist literature in that it sought to realistically portray the growing social isolation and alienation of individuals caused by industrial capitalism. Characters are almost always withdrawn, and the entirety of the work contains a bitter cynicism bordering on absolute nihilistic despair. The main geographic sites for this movement were England and America post-Industrial Revolution, blooming during the periods between World War I and World War II, the main places where this system had taken hold. These first few decades of the new century begin with writers such as Joyce, Eliot, Pound D.H. Lawrence, who all stepped forward onto the literary scene by creating texts that were called highly experimental on content rather than merely form. This is the movement we now call “modernism,” though I don’t mean to use it in a reductive sense to imply that outside of these few head writers there exist no modernist movement.

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Communism & Fascism: Same Thing?

I am sick to death of all these idiots comparing Stalin to Hitler and Nazis to Marxist-Leninists. It is time to face facts: comparing Communists with Nazis is objectively pro-fascist. It is completely unrealistic and only helps out the other side, including the fascists, Nazis, reactionaries and monarchs. It only assists them in whitewashing and cheapening the crimes of the Nazis and turning Nazism into a mere insult, a cliché, rather than the true danger it is.

Not only that, it indirectly blames Communism, the force that destroyed fascism, for the rise of fascism, by placing them both in the same so-called “totalitarian” category. This succeeds only in removing the blame from the CAPITALIST CLASS, which are the true people to blame for the rise of Hitler, Mussolini, Pinochet and Franco, since fascism is the last resort of a desperate and violent bourgeoisie that is losing its power. Hitler may have risen to power by speaking out against the big capitalists, but that was only because socialism was very popular in Germany at the time, and once he was elected Chancellor he did everything he could to save big German capital. Not to mention the very first people he sent to the gas chambers, before even the Jews, were the German communists, as shown in the popular “first they came for the…” quote, in which the first thing he says is, “First they came for the communists…”

All the reactionary ivory tower intelligentsia are eager to put forward this analysis of the swastika and the hammer & sickle being comparable only because throughout history intellectuals have been the willing puppets of the ruling class, whether it be kings, slaveowners or automobile moguls.

Fascism and Communism are not the same thing; in fact, fascism is merely the logical conclusion to bourgeois democracy. This is elementary common sense. Capitalism leads to fascism. Every wise human being knows this. So do not doubt—those intellectual idiots who prance around saying “Stalin is worse than Hitler” are objectively on the Nazis’ side and are working on their behalf.