Being a few things that I found that are not connected, nor necessarily timely.
Murtha’s patronage for his district has made him one of the most powerful members of the House of Representatives and a huge roadblock standing between the Democrats and the kind of meaningful ethics reform they promised during their 2006 “culture of corruption” campaign. The money he secures for Johnstown comes back to him in the form of campaign contributions, which ensure his reelection and provide him with surplus cash to give out to other members. Murtha has been reelected 16 times, giving him seniority in the House and the plum committee assignments that go with it. His chairmanship of the defense subcommittee gives him control over half of the earmarks in every defense appropriations bill, which buy him even more loyalty and influence in the House. On top of all that, Murtha has a strong relationship with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, dating back to when he helped get her a seat on the powerful Appropriations Committee. He is an integral part of the new Democratic majority — and it cannot be the party of institutional reform as long as he is in power.
Evidence of that was on recent display when Murtha twice violated a new rule governing earmarks — provisions lawmakers can attach to bills directing agencies to fund specific projects — and got away with it when his party defeated a Republican’s attempt to hold him accountable. During one of their sporadic attempts at ethics reform since taking over Congress, House Democrats passed a new rules package in January that included a measure forbidding members to condition earmarks for other members on how they vote. In early May, Rep. Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, offered a motion to remove a $23 million earmark for the National Drug Intelligence Center from the intelligence authorization bill on the grounds that several government agencies tasked with auditing the center have declared it to be an inefficient and duplicative waste of taxpayer money. The only problem with Rogers’s attempt to cut the center’s funding was that the center is in Johnstown, and the guy who sponsored the earmark was John Murtha.
First, Murtha allegedly threatened Rep. Todd Tiahrt, a Kansas Republican and fellow member of the Appropriations Committee, for voting with Rogers. (Tiahrt, whose district houses a Boeing assembly plant with business before Murtha’s subcommittee, declined to comment for this article and isn’t discussing the incident.) Then Murtha went after Rogers: “I hope you don’t have any earmarks in the defense appropriation bill because they are gone, and you will not get any earmarks now and forever,” Murtha said. When Rogers told Murtha that this was not the way to handle their dispute, Murtha responded, “That’s the way I do it.”
A few items about Willi Münzenberg, a very influential propagandist for the Communist Party of Germany in the Weimar Era and founder of many of the front groups that spread Communist theory internationally.
From Stephen Koch at the New Criterion.
He was a major German Communist, but he was more. Since around 1921, Lenin had empowered Münzenberg in a series of tasks, some very public, some very secret, that left this dynamic man the de facto director of the Soviet Union’s covertly directed propaganda operations in the West.
The field of covertly directed propaganda operations is an area in the world of secret services which until now has rarely been mapped. As a result, the role of such operations in both the cultural politics of this century and its power politics has rarely been understood. Yet if one follows Münzenberg from Lenin’s side to the forest where he died, his path serves as an Ariadne’s thread through much in twentieth-century politics. The byways of his career link the most secret operations of revolutionary politics to central cultural events of the century. Through Münzenberg, the Kremlin is tied to Bloomsbury; the effects of his operations move from the Elysée to Hollywood and back to the Left Bank, from the life of Ernest Hemingway in Spain to André Gide speaking at the state funeral of Maxim Gorky. It is a thread that snakes through many mysteries, and across many encounters with betrayal, terror, and murder, not least of which is the possible murder of Münzenberg himself. It leads to the Second World War. It leads to the founding events of the Cold War. [link]
A review of The Red Millionaire: A Political Biography of Willi Muenzenberg, Moscow’s Secret Propaganda Tsar in the West, by Sean McMeekin, from Quadrant.
EVERYBODY SEEMS agreed that Willi Muenzenberg (1889 – 1940) was a genius. Arthur Koestler said it repeatedly. David Caute spoke of his “financial genius”, Stephen Koch of his “entrepreneurial genius”, Richard Krygier and Arnold Beichman of his “propaganda genius”. I did my bit too – describing him years ago as an “impresario of genius”. So after all that nonsense, it is a relief at last to read Sean McMeekin who says that, if Muenzenberg was any sort of genius at all, it was an evil genius.
He was certainly a master con man, but according to McMeekin in his new book The Red Millionaire, he was also a true believer. He supported the Revolution from 1917 to his death in 1940. From the famines and the forced collectivisation on to the slave camps, Muenzenberg was always there to defend the Kremlin and the Soviet Union. The Communist Party was his life. It gave him his luxury apartment in Berlin, his chauffeur, bodyguard and private barber. It put him into the Reichstag and bailed him out of all his financial disasters.
In return he gave back two rich prizes. He invented the Front and he was the first to mobilise the Fellow Travellers. The front was an apparently independent organisation that was always secretly controlled by the Communist Party. Muenzenberg had a gift for conjuring them up – hundreds of them over two decades – at almost a moment’s notice. They might seem to serve any purpose – against poverty, racism, fascism, imperialism and war, or in support of peace, culture and justice. But they were all instruments of the Communist Party.
Their supporters and most office bearers were rarely members of the party. They were the fellow travellers who prided themselves on their cultural cultivation and their disdain for the brutish loyalty of party members. As Jim McAuley put it in his caustic autobiographical essay “On Being an Intellectual”, they all danced to the tune of their ideological pipers, some according to the strict choreography of Joseph Stalin and others in incoherent snatches. Muenzenberg despised them all – and knew how to stroke and use them.
Two pieces from the American Thinker of theological interest:
Wicca, along with the rebirth of such ancient nature religions as Druidism, are at the forefront of the modern Green movement. According to Catherine Sanders, author of Wicca`s Charm:
“Since Wiccans essentially deify the earth, a key element of Wicca is having a positive impact on the environment. Wiccans have become active in environmental circles, and I discovered that many Wiccans had been spiritual seekers or raised as Christians but felt that the Church had little to say about the care of the environment.”
The goddess movement, such a large part of Wicca, leads naturally to Ecofeminism, the fusion of feminist thought with radical environmentalism. In short, earth worship is at the core of the modern environmentalist movement. Gaia Theory draws its name from the ancient Greek goddess of the Earth, and there is a touch of mysticism involved; the theory is that all life and the inorganic parts of the Earth are hopelessly interrelated to the point of forming a sort of überlife. Gaia theory is a major factor in the thinking of many environmentalists, and consequently looms large in the whole Global Warming debate.
So, too does socialism, that 19th century worship of blind economic processes, and the fusion of the two is called Ecosocialism. It is interesting to note the many socialists are involved in the “save the planet movement” — most notably Mikhail Gorbachev, former dictator of the defunct Soviet Union. Why, one may ask, would environmentalism appeal to socialists? Every action of a human being has some affect on the environment. People must eat, which means someone must use land for farming, people must drink clean water, which means disturbing lakes, rivers, and wetlands, people must breathe which means exhaling the evil greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. By the very act of existence, a person necessarily disturbs his or her environment.
A doctrine which advocates the radical reorganization of civilization must find some impetus to compel people to make those radical changes. The promise of a future utopia was not enough to convince people to allow the communist yoke to remain around their necks, so the threat of extinction is being employed.
And Who Is Allah?, by Soeren Kern.
Muslims claim that in pre-Islamic times, “Allah” was the biblical God of the Patriarchs, prophets and apostles. Indeed, the credibility of Islam as a religion stands or falls on its core claim of historical continuity with Judaism and Christianity. No wonder, then, that many Muslims get uppity when the claims of Islam are subjected to the hard science of archaeology.
Because archaeology provides irrefutable evidence that Allah, far from being the biblical God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, was actually the pre-Islamic pagan moon-god. Indeed, it is an established archaeological fact that worship of the moon-god was the main religion of the ancient Middle East.
But what about the Arabian Peninsula, where Mohammed (570-632) launched Islam? During the last two centuries, prominent archaeologists have unearthed thousands of inscriptions which prove beyond any doubt that the dominant religion of Arabia during Mohammed’s day was the cult of the moon-god.
In fact, for generations before Mohammed was born, the Arabs worshipped some 360 pagan gods housed at a stone temple in Mecca called the Kabah. According to archaeologists, the chief deity of Mecca was the moon-god called al-ilah (meaning the god or the idol), which was shortened to Allah in pre-Islamic times. Pagan Arabs even used Allah in the names they gave themselves: Mohammed’s father (Abdallah), for example, had Allah as part of his name.