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TBR News August 28, 2020

Aug 28 2020

The Voice of the White House

Comments for August 28, 2020:  One always thought that the American social and economic structure was very firm but it is becoming very evident that this was an illusion. The arrival of Donald Trump on the scene coupled with the mysterious Covid19 business and the increasing social disruptions is proving to be as deadly to America as the 1929 economic collapse. And does anyone benefit from this downfall now in progress? Yes, someone surely does. Vladimir Putin benefits. It removes  critical US government and population from dominance on the world scene and gives Putin more room to develop Russia as the leading world power. Is this blogger nonsense? If one examines the situation closely and applied Occam’s Razon, it obviously is not. But presently, logic and critical analysis is not present in the American media that is hysterically hyping the relatively harmless virus to the exclusion of all else.

 

The Table of Contents

 

  • Republican convention praise of Trump economy is risky strategy, poll highlights.
  • The Social Fabric of the U.S. Is Fraying Severely, if Not Unravelling
  • Why Americans Are Dying from Despair
  • The Encyclopedia of American Loons
  • Suffering Fools Gladly?

 

Republican convention praise of Trump economy is risky strategy, poll highlights.

August 28, 2020

by Howard Schneider and Chris Kahn

Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Americans’ support for President Donald Trump’s management of the economy has slipped, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows, challenging a bedrock re-election argument laid out at the Republican National Convention this week.

About 58% of respondents said the U.S. economy is on the wrong track in a survey taken August 19 through 25th.

And for the first time this year, Trump’s net approval on economic issues dipped into negative territory, with 47% saying they approved of his stewardship of the American economy and 48% saying they disapproved. That is down from an approval margin of 14 percentage points in late March.

While the poll shows Trump still has an edge with voters over Democratic opponent Joe Biden on the economy, the results highlight the risks the Republican Party is taking by leaning on memories of last year’s strong economy and arguing that Trump will easily be able to restore it.

“Our economic choice is very clear. Do you want economic health, prosperity, opportunity and optimism, or do you want to turn back to the dark days of stagnation, recession and pessimism?” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said at the convention on Tuesday night.

“Who do you trust to rebuild this economy?,” Vice President Mike Pence asked Wednesday night. “A career politician who presided over the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression? Or a proven leader who created the greatest economy in the world?”

BOUNCE AHEAD, BUT THEN WHAT?

Looking to the fall, just as the U.S. witnessed a historic drop here in gross domestic product from April through June, Trump will be able to trumpet a record increase – equivalent to perhaps 25% on an annualized basis – when statistics are released in October covering the July to September period.

Neither data point, products of a deliberate shutdown of the economy in March and the automatic impact of reopening from that sudden stop, say much about the economic fortunes of families and businesses during the first months of the pandemic, or in the weeks to come.

The coronavirus health crisis, with nearly 6 million infected and over 175,000 Americans dead, is still raging. The onset of the conventional flu season is on the horizon, and an experiment underway in reopening schools and colleges is already leading to new spikes in infections.

Consumer confidence, which can influence future economic activity, remains weak. The national unemployment rate at 10.2% in July is the highest in 39 years, and improvement seems to be slowing. Nearly 15 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits, the highest on record and double the number hit during the 2007 to 2009 Great Recession.

The blow has been received hardest among groups including blacks, Hispanics and women who benefited most from last year’s record low unemployment rate. Continued support among white women in particular will be critical to Trump’s electoral chances.

TRUMP EDGE OVER BIDEN

The Reuters/Ipsos poll found most voters would not currently back Biden on the economy.

Trump’s team has been hammering Biden’s discussion of tax policies to pay for rising government debt due to the Trump administration’s earlier tax cuts.

Among registered voters, Trump still has a five-point edge over Biden in who would be better to manage the economy.

But the poll also found 30% of Republicans felt the economy was on the wrong track, the highest since February 2018 when Reuters/Ipsos started tracking the question.

The poll gathered responses from 4,428 American adults, including 1,929 Democrats, 1,750 Republicans and 430 independents. It has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of between 2-5 percentage points.

If the economic impact of the pandemic has been in some ways less severe than feared, with household spending returning to pre-pandemic levels and Americans boosting their savings, it is only because of massive government spending and a larger federal footprint in the economy.

Both Republican and Democratic leaning economists feel much more federal help and a larger federal footprint will be needed to avoid a deeper slide this fall – steps that Trump would have to embrace even as he tries to brand Biden a “socialist.”

The lapse of $600 a week unemployment benefits, the expiration of loans for small businesses, and the lack of help for state and local governments may in short order pull the rug from economic data that has been more positive than expected since a wave of business lockdowns and social distancing measures in April.

A Census survey in July said reported “food insecurity” rose more than 20% early in the pandemic, reaching nearly 30 million.

As former Fed chair Janet Yellen and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities senior adviser Jared Bernstein said in a New York Times column, a lot more people are hungry.

Both have been briefing Biden on economic issues, and wrote that without further federal spending, “millions of needy Americans will suffer — and the overall economy could degrade from its current slow rebound in growth to no growth at all.”

Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Heather Timmons and Alistair Bell

 

The Social Fabric of the U.S. Is Fraying Severely, if Not Unravelling

Why, in the world’s richest country, is every metric of mental health pathology rapidly worsening?

August 28, 2020

by Glenn Greenwald

The Intercept

The Year 2020 has been one of the most tumultuous in modern American history. To find events remotely as destabilizing and transformative, one has to go back to the 2008 financial crisis and the 9/11 and anthrax attacks of 2001, though those systemic shocks, profound as they were, were isolated (one a national security crisis, the other a financial crisis) and thus more limited in scope than the multicrisis instability now shaping U.S. politics and culture.

Since the end of World War II, the only close competitor to the current moment is the multipronged unrest of the 1960s and early 1970s: serial assassinations of political leaders, mass civil rights and anti-war protests, sustained riots, fury over a heinous war in Indochina, and the resignation of a corruption-plagued president.

But those events unfolded and built upon one another over the course of a decade. By crucial contrast, the current confluence of crises, each of historic significance in their own right — a global pandemic, an economic and social shutdown, mass unemployment, an enduring protest movement provoking increasing levels of violence and volatility, and a presidential election centrally focused on one of the most divisive political figures the U.S. has known who happens to be the incumbent president — are happening simultaneously, having exploded one on top of the other in a matter of a few months.

Lurking beneath the headlines justifiably devoted to these major stories of 2020 are very troubling data that reflect intensifying pathologies in the U.S. population — not moral or allegorical sicknesses but mental, emotional, psychological and scientifically proven sickness. Many people fortunate enough to have survived this pandemic with their physical health intact know anecdotally — from observing others and themselves — that these political and social crises have spawned emotional difficulties and psychological challenges.

But the data are nonetheless stunning, in terms of both the depth of the social and mental health crises they demonstrate and the pervasiveness of them. Perhaps the most illustrative study was one released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this month, based on an extensive mental health survey of Americans in late June.

One questions posed by researchers was whether someone has “seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days”— not fleetingly considered it as a momentary fantasy nor thought about it ever in their lifetime, but seriously considered suicide at least once in the past 30 days. The results are staggering.

For Americans between 18-24 years old, 25.5 percent — just over 1 out of every 4 young Americans — said they had. For the much larger group of Americans ages 25-44, the percentage was somewhat lower but still extremely alarming: 16 percent. A total of 18.6 percent of Hispanic Americans and 15 percent of African Americans said they had seriously considered suicide in the past month. The two groups with the largest percentage who said yes: Americans with less than a high school degree and unpaid caregivers, both of whom have 30 percent — or almost 1 out of every 3 — who answered in the affirmative. A full 10 percent of the U.S. population generally had seriously contemplated suicide in the month of June.

In a remotely healthy society, one that provides basic emotional needs to its population, suicide and serious suicidal ideation are rare events. It is anathema to the most basic human instinct: the will to live. A society in which such a vast swath of the population is seriously considering it as an option is one which is anything but healthy, one which is plainly failing to provide its citizens the basic necessities for a fulfilling life.

The alarming CDC data extends far beyond serious suicidal desires. It also found that “40.9% of respondents reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition, including symptoms of anxiety disorder or depressive disorder (30.9%), symptoms of a trauma- and stressor-related disorder (TSRD) related to the pandemic (26.3%), and having started or increased substance use to cope with stress or emotions related to COVID-19 (13.3%).” For the youngest part of the adult population, ages 18-24, significantly more than half (62.9 percent) reported suffering from depressive or anxiety disorders.

That mental health would suffer materially in the middle of a pandemic — one that requires isolation from community and work, quarantines, economic shutdowns, and fear of illness and death — is not surprising. In April, as the realities of isolation and quarantine were becoming more apparent in the U.S., we devoted a SYSTEM UPDATE episode to a discussion with the mental health experts Andrew Solomon and Johann Hari, both of whom described how “the traumas of this pandemic — the unraveling of our way of life for however long that lasts, the compulsory viewing of all other humans as threats, and especially sustained isolation and social distancing” — will exacerbate virtually every social pathology, including ones of mental health.

But what makes these trends all the more disturbing is that they long predated the arrival of the coronavirus crisis, to say nothing of the economic catastrophe left in its wake and the social unrest from this year’s protest movement. Indeed, since at least the financial crisis of 2008, when first the Bush administration and then the Obama administration acted to protect the interests of the tycoons who caused it while allowing everyone else to wallow in debt and foreclosures, the indicia of collective mental health in the U.S. have been blinking red.

In 2018, NBC News, using health insurance studies, reported that “major depression is on the rise among Americans from all age groups, but is rising fastest among teens and young adults.” In 2019, the American Psychological Association published a study documenting a 30 percent increase “in the rate of death by suicide in the United States between 2000 and 2016, from 10.4 to 13.5 per 100,000 people” and a 50 percent increase “in suicides among girls and women between 2000 and 2016.” It noted: “Suicide was the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States in 2016. It was the second-leading cause of death among people ages 10 to 34 and the fourth-leading cause among people ages 35 to 54.”

In March 2020, the New Yorker’s Atul Gawande published a survey of data from two Princeton economists, Anne Case and Angus Deaton, under the headline: “Why Americans Are Dying from Despair: the unfairness of our economy, two economists argue, can be measured not only in dollars but in deaths.” The decadeslong economic stagnation for Americans, the reversal of the American Dream, and the shockingly high mass unemployment ushered in by the pandemic are obviously significant reasons why these pathologies are rapidly worsening now.

Observing these trends is necessary but not sufficient for understanding their breadth and their impact. Why is virtually every metric of mental and spiritual disease — suicide, depression, anxiety disorders, addiction, and alcoholism — increasing significantly, rapidly, in the richest country on earth, one filled with advanced technologies and at least the pretense of liberal democracy?

One answer was provided by Dr. Laurel Williams, chief of psychiatry at Texas Children’s Hospital, to NBC when discussing the rise of depression: “There’s a lack of community. There’s the amount of time that we spend in front of screens and not in front of other people. If you don’t have a community to reach out to, then your hopelessness doesn’t have any place to go.”

That answer is similar to the one offered by the brilliant book on depression and modern western societies by Johann Hari, “Lost Connections,” along with his viral TED Talk on the same topic: namely, it is precisely the attributes that define modern Western societies that are crafted perfectly to deprive humans of their most pressing emotional needs (a book by Hari on addiction, “Chasing the Scream,” and an even-more-viral TED Talk about it, sounds a similar theme about why Americans are turning in horrifyingly large numbers to serious problems of substance abuse).

Much attention is devoted to lamenting the toxicity of our discourse, the hate-driven polarization of our politics, and the fragmentation of our culture. But it is difficult to imagine any other outcome in a society that is breeding so much psychological and emotional pathology by denying to its members the things they most need to live fulfilling lives.

 

Why Americans Are Dying from Despair

The unfairness of our economy, two economists argue, can be measured not only in dollars but in deaths.

March 16, 2020

by Atul Gawande

The New Yorker

It all started with a bad back. For more than a decade, the Princeton economist Anne Case had suffered from chronic lower-back pain, and nothing seemed to help. She’d made her name studying the connections between health and economic patterns in people’s lives; her research showed, for instance, a connection between your health in early childhood, or even in utero, and your economic status later in life. So she decided to research the patterns of pain in the population. And as she pulled on this thread she found a bigger, more alarming story than she ever expected.

The question she began with, in 2014, was whether pain had grown more or less prevalent in the United States over the past few decades. Given advances in labor-saving technologies and in pain treatments, she expected that the prevalence reported in population surveys would have fallen. Instead, it had gone up. Some hundred million Americans now suffer from chronic pain—that is, they’ve been in pain on most days for the past three months. And the rates are especially high in middle age: Americans in their fifties, unlike their counterparts in other countries, have higher rates of chronic pain than those in their seventies and eighties.

Case’s husband, Angus Deaton, is also an economist at Princeton. In 2013, he published a sweeping economic history, “The Great Escape,” which traced the way people had become healthier and wealthier in the past couple of centuries, though at a cost to economic equality. During his research, he’d noticed that people’s happiness was largely disconnected from this story. As wealth rose, so did health and quality of life; happiness did not necessarily follow. He was struck, then, when his wife told him that pain rates had not declined, either.

Was there a link? They combed through survey data together and found that communities with higher rates of chronic pain also had higher rates of suicide. What’s more, rates of both had risen markedly for middle-aged, non-Hispanic white Americans—but not for black or Hispanic Americans. And the data grew only more curious and concerning the further they looked. As Case and Deaton recount in their new book, “Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism” (Princeton), they dug deeper into national vital statistics and compared rates of suicide with those of other causes of mortality. “To our astonishment, it was not only suicide that was rising among middle-aged whites; it was all deaths,” they write.

This was nearly unfathomable. Outside of wars or pandemics, death rates for large populations across the world have been consistently falling for decades. Yet working-age white men and women without college degrees were dying from suicide, drug overdoses, and alcohol-related liver disease at such rates that, for three consecutive years, life expectancy for the U.S. population as a whole had fallen. “The only precedent is a century ago, from 1915 through 1918, during the First World War and the influenza epidemic that followed it,” Case and Deaton write. Between 1999 and 2017, more than six hundred thousand extra deaths—deaths in excess of the demographically predicted number—occurred just among people aged forty-five to fifty-four. Case and Deaton first wrote about the rise in deaths from suicide and self-poisoning—what they came to call “deaths of despair”—in a 2015 paper. The editors at JAMA and The New England Journal of Medicine, the two most prominent medical journals, somehow missed the paper’s significance and rejected it without even a formal review; it was eventually published in a more technical journal, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in November of that year. A few weeks before it appeared, Deaton was named the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics, for his earlier work in development economics. But he considered this new paper to be as important as anything he’d done in his life. Sure enough, when the paper came out it was discussed on television, talk radio, and social media, drawing the sort of public response that seldom greets economic research. It had put numbers on a long-simmering but inchoate sense among many people that something had gone profoundly wrong with the American Dream.

But what, exactly? Why was this happening here and not elsewhere? Case and Deaton’s original paper offered no explanation, but their new book does. And their explanation begins by dismantling several others.

Was the source of the problem America’s all-too-ready supply of prescription opioids? For decades, drug companies notoriously played down their addictive properties, and we physicians, to our lasting shame, gave out the drugs like lollipops. Looking back, I am aghast at the glib reassurance I gave patients who hesitated about taking oxycodone after surgery. “Don’t worry,” I’d say. “Addiction is unusual after surgery.” But it wasn’t, and I should have known. Studies revealed that three to eight per cent of surgery patients who took narcotics for the first time after brief hospital stays were still taking the drugs as much as twelve months later. Abuse became widespread in the early years of this century. After regulations tightened the legal supply of opioids, users turned to other sources. About a million Americans now use heroin daily or near-daily. Many others use illicitly obtained synthetic opioids like fentanyl.

Yet white Americans with bachelor’s degrees have accounted for only about nine per cent of overdose deaths in the past quarter century. Such deaths are even rarer among black Americans. As Case and Deaton note, most people who abuse or become addicted to opioids continue to lead functional lives and many eventually escape their dependence. The oversupply of opioids did not create the conditions for despair. Instead, it appears, the oversupply fed upon a white working class already adrift. And, although opioid deaths plateaued, at least temporarily, in 2018, suicides and alcohol-related deaths continue upward.

Could deaths of despair be related to the rising incidence of obesity? Obesity is known to increase chronic illness and joint pain, and its regional and demographic patterns track with deaths of despair. But Case and Deaton report that we’re seeing the same troubling health trends “among the underweight, normal weight, overweight, and obese.”

Is the problem poverty? Death rates for the white working class have seen no decline for nearly three decades, even as poverty rates fell during the nineteen-nineties, rose during the Great Recession, and fell again in the years afterward. Overdose deaths are most common in high-poverty Appalachia and along the low-poverty Eastern Seaboard, in places such as Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Delaware, and Connecticut. Meanwhile, some high-poverty states, such as Arkansas and Mississippi, have been less affected. Black and Hispanic populations are poorer but less affected, too.

How about income inequality? Case and Deaton have found that patterns of inequality, like patterns of poverty, simply don’t match the patterns of mortality by race or region. California and New York, for instance, have among the highest inequality levels in the country and the lowest mortality rates.

A consistently strong economic correlate, by contrast, is the percentage of a local population that is employed. The numbers have undergone a long decline nationally. In the late nineteen-sixties, Case and Deaton note, all but five per cent of men of prime working age, from twenty-five to fifty-four, had jobs; by 2010, twenty per cent did not. In 2018, well into the recovery from the Great Recession, fourteen per cent were still not at work. Of that fourteen per cent, only a fifth reported that they were looking for work and were therefore counted in official statistics as “unemployed.” The rest were not in the labor force. What Case and Deaton have found is that the places with a smaller fraction of the working-age population in jobs are places with higher rates of deaths of despair—and that this holds true even when you look at rates of suicide, drug overdoses, and alcohol-related liver disease separately. They all go up where joblessness does.

Conservatives tend to offer cultural explanations. You see this in J. D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” and Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010,” not to mention a raft of state initiatives that would impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. People are taking the lazy way out of responsibilities, the argument goes, and so they choose alcohol, drugs, and welfare and disability checks over a commitment to hard work, family, and community. And now they are paying the price for their hedonism and decadence—with addiction, emptiness, and suicide.

Yet, if the main problem were that a large group of people were withdrawing from the workforce by choice, wages should have risen in parallel. Employers should have been pulling out the stops to lure people back to work. But they haven’t. Wages have stayed flat for years.

So what does explain the rise of deaths of despair among white Americans without college degrees? Case and Deaton argue that the problem arises from the cumulative effect of a long economic stagnation and the way we as a nation have dealt with it. For the first few decades after the Second World War, per-capita U.S. economic growth averaged between two and three per cent a year. In the nineties, however, it dipped below two per cent. In the early two-thousands, it was less than one per cent. This past decade, it remained below 1.5 per cent.

Different populations have experienced this slowdown very differently. The earnings advantage for those with college degrees soared. Anti-discrimination measures improved earnings and job prospects for black and Hispanic Americans. Though their earnings still lag behind those of the white working class, life for this generation of people of color is better than it was for the last.

Not so for whites without a college education. Among the men, median wages have not only flattened; they have declined since 1979. The work that the less educated can find isn’t as stable: hours are more uncertain, and job duration is shorter. Employment is more likely to take the form of gig work, temporary contracting, or day labor, and is less likely to come with benefits like health insurance.

Among advanced economies, this deterioration in pay and job stability is unique to the United States. In the past four decades, Americans without bachelor’s degrees—the majority of the working-age population—have seen themselves become ever less valued in our economy. Their effort and experience provide smaller rewards than before, and they encounter longer periods between employment. It should come as no surprise that fewer continue to seek employment, and that more succumb to despair.

The problem isn’t that people are not the way they used to be. It’s that the economy and the structure of work are not the way they used to be. This has had devastating effects on the family and on community life. In 1980, rates of marriage by middle age were about eighty per cent for white people with and without bachelor’s degrees alike. As the economic prospects of those two groups have diverged, however, so have their marriage prospects. Today, about seventy-five per cent of college graduates are married by age forty-five, but only sixty per cent of non-college graduates are. Nonmarital childbearing has reached forty per cent among less educated white women. Parents without bachelor’s degrees are also now dramatically less likely to have a stable partner for rearing and financially supporting their children.

Religious institutions previously played a vital role in connecting people to a community. But the number of Americans who attend religious services has declined markedly over the past half century, falling to just one-third of the general population today. (The rate is lower still among non-college graduates.) Union membership has declined even more precipitously. Case and Deaton see a picture of steady economic and social breakdown, amid over-all prosperity. Physicians like me attend to the individual circumstances of illness and mortality. We see the seeds of suicide in pain, depression, or addiction, perhaps germinated by a life event, such as a breakup, a financial crisis, or a new health problem. But climate—the amount of social and economic instability not only in your life but also in your family and community—matters, too. Émile Durkheim pointed out more than a century ago that despair and then suicide result when people’s material and social circumstances fall below their expectations. The connection appears to be just as powerful for other forms of self-harm, such as drug and alcohol abuse.

Yet why has the steep rise in deaths of despair been so uniquely American? Case and Deaton identify a few factors. The United States has provided unusually casual access to means of death. The availability of opioids has indeed played a role, and the same goes for firearms (involved in more than half of suicides); we all but load the weapons of self-destruction for people in misery. The U.S. has also embraced automation and globalization with greater alacrity and fewer restrictions than other countries have. Displaced workers here get relatively little in the way of protection and support. And we’ve enabled capital to take a larger share of the economic gains. “Economists long thought that the ratio of wages to profits was an immutable constant, about two to one,” Case and Deaton point out. But since 1970, they find, it has declined significantly.

A more unexpected culprit identified by Case and Deaton is our complicated and costly health-care system. There is, to be sure, a strong correlation between lack of health coverage and increased risk of suicide (not to mention over-all mortality), but the problem doesn’t end with the plight of the uninsured. The focus of Case and Deaton’s indictment is on the fact that America’s health-care system is peculiarly reliant on employer-provided insurance.

As they show, the premiums that employers pay amount to a perverse tax on hiring lower-skilled workers. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2019 the average family policy cost twenty-one thousand dollars, of which employers typically paid seventy per cent. “For a well-paid employee earning a salary of $150,000, the average family policy adds less than 10 percent to the cost of employing the worker,” Case and Deaton write. “For a low-wage worker on half the median wage, it is 60 percent.” Even as workers’ wages have stagnated or declined, then, the cost to their employers has risen sharply. One recent study shows that, between 1970 and 2016, the earnings that laborers received fell twenty-one per cent. But their total compensation, taken to include the cost of their benefits (in particular, health care), rose sixty-eight per cent. Increases in health-care costs have devoured take-home pay for those below the median income. At the same time, the system practically begs employers to reduce the number of less skilled workers they hire, by outsourcing or automating their positions. In Case and Deaton’s analysis, this makes American health care itself a prime cause of our rising death rates.

It also means that, in order to revive the American Dream for people without college degrees, we must change the way we pay for health care. Instead of preserving a system that discourages employers from hiring, retaining, and developing workers without bachelor’s degrees, we need to make health-care payments proportional to wages—as with tax-based systems like Medicare. Democrats are split over whether our health care should involve a single payer or multiple insurers. But that’s not the crucial issue. In other advanced economies, people pay for health care through wage-based taxes. In some countries, such as Germany and Switzerland, the money pays for non-government insurance; elsewhere, the money pays for Medicare-like government insurance. Both strategies work. Neither undermines the employment prospects of the working class.

So far, the American approach to the rise in white working-class mortality has been to pour resources into addiction-treatment centers and suicide-prevention programs. Yet the rates of suicide and addiction remain sky-high. It’s as if we’re using pressure dressings on a bullet wound to the chest instead of getting at the source of the bleeding. Meanwhile, people whose life prospects have deteriorated respond, publicly, with anger (sometimes cynically inflamed) toward nonwhites and immigrants, whose prospects, though worse than their white counterparts’, may have improved compared with those of their forebears. But Case and Deaton want us to recognize that the more widespread response is a sense of hopelessness and helplessness. And here culture does play a role.

When it comes to people whose lives aren’t going well, American culture is a harsh judge: if you can’t find enough work, if your wages are too low, if you can’t be counted on to support a family, if you don’t have a promising future, then there must be something wrong with you. When people discover that they can numb negative feelings with alcohol or drugs, only to find that addiction has made them even more powerless, it seems to confirm that they are to blame. We Americans are reluctant to acknowledge that our economy serves the educated classes and penalizes the rest. But that’s exactly the situation, and “Deaths of Despair” shows how the immiseration of the less educated has resulted in the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives, even as the economy has thrived and the stock market has soared. To adapt the old Bill Clinton campaign motto, it’s the unfair economy, stupid.

“We are not against capitalism,” Case and Deaton write. “We believe in the power of competition and of free markets.” But capitalism, having failed America’s less educated workers for decades, must change, as it has in the past. “There have been previous periods when capitalism failed most people, as the Industrial Revolution got under way at the beginning of the nineteenth century, and again after the Great Depression,” they write. “But the beast was tamed, not slain.”

Are we capable of again taming the beast? In earlier eras, reform involved child-labor laws, worker-safety protections, overtime requirements, social security, a minimum wage. Today, the battles are over an employer-based system for financing health care, corporate governance that puts shareholders’ interests ahead of workers’, tax plans that benefit capital holders over wage earners. The dispiriting politics of stasis and scapegoating can prevail for a very long time, even as the damage comes into clearer view. We are better at addressing fast-moving crises than slow-building ones. It wouldn’t be surprising, then, if we simply absorbed current conditions as the new normal. We are good at muddling along.

But unexpected things happen, as the coronavirus pandemic demonstrates. One reality in particular will surely fester. Because economic policy is inseparable from health-care policy, the unfairness of the health system is inseparable from the unfairness of the economy—an unfairness measured not only in dollars but in deaths. The blighted prospects of the less educated are a public-health crisis, and, as the number of victims mounts, it will be harder to ignore. ♦

Published in the print edition of the March 23, 2020, issue, with the headline “The Blight.”

 

 

The Encyclopedia of American Loons

Tom Vineyard  

In 2011 Oklahoma City just passed an ordinance prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, but not before a bizarre series of local clowns had been given the opportunity to speak their minds on the issue. Tom Vineyard, pastor of Windsor Hills Baptist Church, for instance, claimed that more than half of murders in large cities are committed by gay people, and received standing ovation for the remark. The claim was made as part of an attempt to argue that adding explicit protection against discrimination would “bring down God’s judgment on [the] city.” It is not the only time Vineyard has either just made up statistics to argue against gay rights or marriage equality, or picked them from old, strange websites like Tradition in Action (a radical traditionalist Catholic hate group that says that Hindus worship devils and apparently speaks approvingly of the Spanish monarchy’s 1492 royal edict expelling all Jews who declined to convert), the WND, a 1787 book that said Rome fell in part because of “an increasing interest and obsession with sexual perversions”, and the alleged 1963 congressional testimony of a Florida woman who said that Communists were promoting homosexuality as part of a plot to take over America. Relatively standard fare for people of Vineyard’s caliber, in other words. Otherwise, Vineyard is a fanatic advocate for gun rights, and his church is apparently offering plenty of gun training, also for children.

Vineyard is also a (one-time) president of the Oklahoma Baptist College, a staunchly complementarian institution that pretends to offer “education” in line with Biblical principles (only men can take administration classes, for instance – women may choose between sewing and cooking classes), including teaching young-earth-creationism under the heading “scientific creationism” insofar no one would otherwise ever connect what they offer to anything having to do with science.

 

          Jim Meehan

Jim Meehan is a dangerous crank and conspiracy theorist – he has been caught promulgating the craziest fake news – heavily involved in the anti-vaccine movement. Now, Meehan is an MD. That, of course, doesn’t mean that he knows anything about research or rational or scientific assessment of evidence (Meehan demonstrably does not), but the distinction between MD and medical researcher is one not generally recognized by conspiracy theorists, who’ll take anything whatsoever that looks like it can be promoted as an “expert” or authority supporting their side of things. Meehan has no background or expertise in vaccination or immunology – he is actually an ophthalmologist by training – but he is into functional medicine, which is as ridiculous as quackery comes. Currently Meehan operates a “wellness” center in Oklahoma.

He also doesn’t have the faintest idea how the VAERS database works. Meehan has tried to argue that the HPV vaccine is confirmed to have caused 144 deaths (by 2013), because there are 144 reports of death associated with the HPV vaccine in the VAERS database. This is not how the database works (indeed). “It absolutely is evidence,” says Meehan. It isn’t evidence.

But he does know how to parrot standard anti-vaccine claims, and his rants have been relatively widely distributed on social media by people who do not know anything about vaccines or actually bother with the evidence either; most of them is a combination of the claim that infectious diseases aren’t dangerous, toxins gambits – admittedly effective on the chemically illiterate – and conspiracy mongering: the science behind vaccines is untrustworthy because scientists are uniformly corrupt and bought by Big Pharma, who would actually benefit vastly more from hospitalizations due to vaccine-preventable diseases than from vaccines, but like all good conspiracy theories this one requires that you don’t look too closely. There is a thorough takedown of his claims here. Meehan has also been caught supporting the debunked idea that physical trauma and child abuse are “vaccine injury”.

Diagnosis: Aggressive lunatic and unhinged conspiracy theorist. Stay far away.

 William John Meegan

William John Meegan is a fundie, conspiracy theorist, astrologist and author, for instance of the book The Sistine Chapel: A Study in Celestial Cartography. “From the brilliant mind of researcher-author William John Meegan, The Sistine Chapel … is a highly mystical and contemplative inquiry into The Mysteries and Esoteric Teachings of the Catholic Church,” says the description on Meegan’s website, apparently written by himself. (We do wonder how calling your inquiry “mystical” would be a selling point; not that the intended audience is likely to notice.) Apparently it’s the third of a series, following The Secrets & the Mysteries of Genesis: Antiquity’s Hall of Records and The Conquest of Genesis: A Study in Universal Creation Mathematics, which we haven’t seen but sounds suspiciously like it might deploy some serious numerology – Meegan is heavily into what he calls “esoteric science”, which is as far removed from science as numerology and astrology, which, by the way, is what his esoteric science apparently is (gematria, to be precise), with a heavy sprinkle of sacred geometry.

You can read Meegan’s own description here. Senseless babble comes no less sensible than that. Illuminating sample: “Each letter of the world’s sacred literature is symbolized and alphanumerically structured, which makes the interpretation of each word far more important than the sum of its letters;” one would think that the interpretations of words go beyond the sum of their letters in ordinary conversation (insofar as there is a difference between seeing a string of letters you understand and seeing one you don’t understand), but we nevertheless have our doubts that they do in the rants and ravings of William John Meegan.

Despite their contents, Meegan’s books seem to be marketed as non-fiction.

Diagnosis: Small fish, but fantastically weird, colorful and insane. Probably harmless.

Michael Medved

Michael Medved is a right-wing radio host (the fundie Christian Salem Radio Network), movie critic (some of his earlier writings on film are actually pretty decent: Medved also helped launch the popularity of Plan Nine from Outer Space) and senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, a creationist think tank that occasionally tries to pretend to be thinking about science but usually forgets that they’re supposed to, such as when they hired Medved, who doesn’t have any background remotely related to science. Medved claims to be a “moderate” and is, indeed, moderate on a number of issues, having even critized the extremists on the far right; but he is also a supporter of the Tea Party, as well as various fringe conspiracy theories and a broad range of denialist positions, including global warming denialism (“a complete scam”) and creationism. His recent work includes such claptrap as Hollywood vs. America: Popular Culture and the War on Traditional Values.

Creationism

Medved is a firm supporter of Intelligent Design Creationism (it is worth noting that Medved’s father, David Medved, who was a physicist and emphatically not a biologist, was a signatory to the Discovery Institute’s laughable petition A Scientific Dissent from Darwinism). It has therefore been natural for Medved to invite non-scientist ID-creationists like Stephen Meyer on his show to discuss their pseudoscience without having to engage with the damning criticisms of that pseudoscience. After being appointed Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute Medved promptly spilled the beans and admitted, somewhat inadvertently, that Intelligent Design is not a scientific theory but a fundie PR campaign against the scientific theory of evolution. Medved is otherwise apparently familiar with some of the more ridiculous PRATTs creationists use to fuel their Gish gallops, but doesn’t even begin to grasp the basics of biology and science.

In 2018 we should apparently be looking forward to his Great Minds, an audio and video podcast that will feature interviews with various “key scholars” at the Discovery Institute, bringing their ideas to a wider audience – in line with the institute’s mandate, which was never about doing science anyways, but about promotion of silly ideas.

Medved is apparently also a firm believer in the Bigfoot myth.

According to Medved, God has intervened in human history on several occasions. In his book The American Miracle: Divine Providence in the Rise of the Republic, Medved argues precisely that “there is intelligent design in America’s history”, stating for instance that God hid all the gold in California until “the very moment” that the territory became the property of the United States – as Medved tells the story, the gold was discovered on the very same day the treaty was signed, so the best explanation is that God actually put it there on that very day. In the real world gold was discovered before the treaty was signed, but when the facts don’t fit the premises and Medved needs to infer divine intervention, the facts must go.

Racialism and Civil Rights Issues

Medved has also adopted some notably cranky views on civil rights issues, and has even promoted racialism. In his own words (a 2008 Townhall article, one of the most idiotic in the history of idiotic articles): “The idea of a distinctive, unifying, risk-taking American DNA might also help to explain our most persistent and painful racial divide – between the progeny of every immigrant nationality that chose to come here, and the one significant group that exercised no choice in making their journey to the U.S. Nothing in the horrific ordeal of African slaves, seized from their homes against their will, reflected a genetic predisposition to risk-taking, or any sort of self-selection based on personality traits.” At least Medved doesn’t have the faintest clue how genes work. In any case, Medved goes from these observations to conclude that Obama’s policies were doomed to fail, since they go against the risk-taker genes (Republican ideas are apparently now hardcoded in our DNA). Also, talking about the trans-Atlantic slave trade: “Perhaps the most horrifying aspect of these voyages involves the fact that no slave traders wanted to see this level of deadly suffering: they benefited only from delivering (and selling) live slaves, not from tossing corpses into the ocean.” This is not the most horrifying aspect of these voyages. He has also argued that an American Indian Holocaust was just political correctness gone mad, since the US government never deliberately killed Native Americans. This is incorrect as well.

Zeh gays

As you’d expect, Medved is no fan of the LGBT movement, and used to argue against the repeal of DADT applied to gays but not to lesbians, since gay sex is an act of “aggression” and lesbian sex, by contrast, an act of “affection”. The most interesting detail here is that Medved has apparently thought long and hard about this (but, given that he’s stupid, failed to come up with anything intelligent). Gay marriage, meanwhile, is an existential threat, and “one man and one woman” is “essential for the survival of our civilization”. According to Medved states have never banned gay marriage, though – “that’s a liberal lie”; he’s apparently trying out his own, particularly dishonest, version of a favorite argument among opponents of interracial marriage.

And taking a page from the belligerent lunatic ravings of Scott Lively, Medved has also stated, against all facts, that most Nazi leaders, including Hitler, were gay. This is false.

Donning his movie critic (tinfoil) hat (he once praised the inane conspiracy pseudodocumentary Expelled, too), Medved criticized the movie “Happy Feet” for apparently featuring a subtle pro-gay message, at the same time implying that some gays can make themselves straight when they have “turned their lives around”.

Miscellaneous politics

Medved was not pleased when mainstream media labeled the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooter a “right-wing extremist”, calling such labeling an attack on conservatives, which, if Medved were correct, would not really portray conservatives in a particularly favorable light. There is little chance Medved is right about stuff like this, though.

In 2012 he published The Odds Against Obama: Why History and Logic Make the President a Likely Loser, arguing that Obama was bound to lose according to the “iron rules of history and logic”, which he pushed rather loudly even after it was painfully obvious that Obama would win. (The book is garbage in most other ways, too.) Here is Medved trying to argue why Americans shouldn’t ever vote for an atheist president. Here is Medved claiming that God votes conservative (because Medved does and God always agrees with Medved on politics). And here is Medved complaining about how liberals are given a free pass to talk about their faith, and that conservatives never do.

In 2003, Medved launched his campaign (later picked up by others) against the fictional character Captain America, whom Medved said was being depicted as sympathetic to terrorism because Captain America questioned official U.S. policy with regards to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Diagnosis: Denialist and emphatically as far from scientifically literate as you get, even though the Discovery Institute seems to think otherwise (of course, they wouldn’t have the faintest clue about what the difference between a scientist and a pseudoscientist might be). He is a bit of a C-level celebrity, though, and there are apparently some people who listen to him.

 

Suffering Fools Gladly?

David Irving & Revisionism

by Dr. Karl Kolcheck

An aged David Irving, who has begun to look more and more like a demented Rudolf Hess with lantern jaw and sunken eyes, was once considered the enfant terrible of the world of historical writers.

Now, he is merely the enfant, having slipped into almost total obscurity. This diminution of public attention is highly distressing to Irving, the victim of a deprived, fatherless childhood, who lusts after public attention like a hart panteth after water but in his case, the well has run dry.

His early books such as the “Destruction of Dresden,” first published in 1963, were well-researched and crafted but the decline set in early and progressed to the terminal state, an awful biography of Hitler’s propaganda minister, Josef Goebbels, published in 1996. Based to a very large degree on completely fictitious documentation prepared by the former Soviet KGB as political disinformation, this book is full of pointless anecdotes, sniggering sexual innuendo and leaves an objective reader with the distinct feeling that the book should have been written in the sort of soft crayon supplied to therapy patients in locked wards.

Although Irving has written, co-authored or translated, thirty-odd books, the great majority of them have the greatest overall similarity to a meringue; there is bulk but no substance.

This plenitude of books must be viewed by their owners as being of great value because they are so seldom touched.

A fair number of Irving’s works could have been found, in palmier days, in many major, and some minor, public and academic libraries but as he has diminished in an accelerated fashion, these books have been removed from the shelves in increasing numbers.

Their author attributes this to the underhanded work of malicious Jewish groups but since the index cards have also been removed from the library files, it would be safer to assume that librarians, like so many others, have had quite enough of David Irving.

Irving ascended, or descended (depending entirely upon the view of the reader), from a pro-German writer to a fierce and highly partisan supporter of Adolf Hitler, his acquired and well-worshipped father figure, and an intemperate and completely inaccurate denigrator of his legion of critics.

He once had access to the personal diaries of a number of luminaries of the Third Reich and was able to publish a great deal of interesting information that proved to be of limited use to legitimate historians. Unfortunately for students of history, most historical diaries are, more often than not, completely self-serving and Irving’s interpretations of them have proved to be equally so.

His major fault as a historical writer, aside from a serious lack of literary style, has been that he wrote to an idea and instead of making a study of authentic documentary, as opposed to anecdotal, sources, he selected material that supported his various ideological thesis and deliberately ignored anything else that might refute the ideas he tried to nourish in the minds of his readers.

Also, Irving has no problem whatsoever in inventing conversations or archival records and putting these spurious evidences into his political screeds with perfect aplomb.

The respected historian John Lukacs has devoted what amounts to more space than he deserves to Irving in his 1997 book, “The Hitler of History.” In this work, which is a scholarly and reasonably balanced work on Hitler’s place in historical reporting, Lukacs, on pages 229 through 232 points out a small sampling of Irving’s deliberate distortions of records and his habit of not identifying any references for important assertions.

In a number of specific cases, it is obvious that Irving has simply invented sources, quotes and other supportive data.

British author and historian Martin Middlebrook has dealt with Irving’s failings very clearly in his 1973 book, “The Nuremberg Raid.” On pages 293 through 296, Middlebrook dissects a story that Irving reported in his work “And the German Cities Did Not Die-A Documentary Account” published by a small, right wing Swiss house in 1963.

In this book, Irving stated categorically that the Germans had learned in advance about the disastrous 1944 British air raid on Nuremberg in which a very large percentage of the raiding aircraft were lost to German action.

Irving quotes three British airmen, who were prisoners of war in Germany, to the effect that the Germans had prior knowledge of this raid.

Very extensive research on the part of Middlebrook proved that two of the named airmen had no knowledge whatsoever of the statements attributed to them by Irving, in fact flatly denying them, and the third alleged witness simply never existed anywhere except in Irving’s imagination.

Another exposition of Irving’s literary mendacity can be found in a chapter of a 1994 book entitled “The Churchill Papers” by Alexander Baron, pages 13 through 17.

This study lists a large and significant number of serious errors of fact appearing in Irving’s book, “Churchill’s War.”

In all of his books, Irving consistently misstates or creates facts, invents important dates and proper titles and generally acts as if has never read any of the works in the lengthy bibliographies he always provides as proof of his research.

Probably the worst example of this can be found in “Hitler’s War”, published in 1977, in which Irving discusses the German Freikorps leader, Albert Leo Schlageter. This man was involved in the Ruhrkampf in the 1920’s and was caught and executed by the French in Dusseldorf in 1923.

This part of Irving’s reportage is correct.

What is not correct, however, and is an error exposing such a gross unfamiliarity with the subject of German history as to stagger the imagination, is the connected statement that at Schlageter’s side on that date was also shot one Andreas Hofer.

As any legitimate scholar of German history will instantly recognize, Hofer was the man who raised the Austrian Tyrol against Napoleon I and was indeed captured and shot by the French but in Mantua, Italy in 1810!

Also in “Hitler’s War”, on page 260, Irving speaks of a “secret meeting” held at the Kremlin by Josef Stalin on May 5, 1941. Present at this meeting were top members of his government. In this “secret meeting”, Irving claims that Stalin outlined his plans to attack Hitler.

This episode was tailor-made by Irving to support his thesis that Hitler did not have any reason to attack Stalin in 1941. Unfortunately, this “secret” speech (and another one on the following evening) was not secret and copies of it survive in the Russian archives.

In spite of the historical importance of this speech, Irving completely neglects to credit or footnote it.

Irving, who once had access to Russian archives, must doubtlessly have seen these files, which are certainly not secret nor permitted to be viewed by only a select few, among whom Irving, by inference, includes himself.

If he ever had such a positive relationship with the Russian archives, it was quickly terminated when the archive authorities discovered that Irving had been systematically pilfering their papers and selling them to document collectors. ‘Irving, in breach of an agreement which he had made and without permission, removed and transported abroad certain microfiches of Goebbels’ diaries, thereby exposing them to a real risk of damage;’ Judgement, Paragraph 4, section 5. (in Appendix

This light-fingered, and very profitable lifting, (an original Hitler signature is worth over a thousand dollars on the autograph market) has not been limited to the contents of the Moscow archives but extends to the German Bundesarchiv, the American National Archives and several other prominent repositories of Third Reich documents.

In 1996, Irving attempted to sell a number of valuable papers from this era to Charles Hamilton, New York-based autograph expert and dealer.

Hamilton became suspicious of the origins of these documents and contacted a number of archives. Discovering that most of them had been stolen, Hamilton informed various authorities both in Germany and England.

 

 

Letter from Hamilton to author Gregory Douglas-

 

From the Desk of Charles Hamilton

Mr. Gregory Douglas

75 West Alexander Ave., No. 10

Merced, CA 95348

 

Dear Gregory:

August 19, 1995

 

 

Like to take this opportunity of thanking you for the Christian Wirth signature! This is a scarce one indeed!

The second volume should be out in a few months and I am now working on the third. Since the German Army is one of your specialties, would appreciate anything you might have in the way of signatures.

Just send these to Roger with a copy to me.

I thought I would keep you up to the mark on my problems with David Irving.

He has been sending me quantities of Hitler, and other personalities, papers for sale in my auctions. So far, until this month at least, no problems but Irving is really terrible to deal with. No manners and very rude.

The last batch contained a number of Hitler documents. I had to tell Irving that some were mechanically signed and he became very abusive…as usual.

I had my suspicions about the origins of several of these and found a circular from the former Soviet Archives about stolen Hitler papers. Sure enough, one of these Irving pieces turned out to be stolen.

Well, as you know, I am careful about this so I did some more digging and discovered that all of these Irving pieces had been taken from various archives over the past few years.

I naturally informed Irving about this and he became extremely abusive, telling me that he had no idea (hah!!) that they were stolen (but all seem to have come from archives that he had visited) and then absolutely demanding their immediate return!

When I told him that these pieces were being returned to their legal owners, he really let fly at me! He demanded their return, threatened to actually sue me for stealing his (stolen) documents! He also said that if I ever mentioned his name in connection with all of this, he would also sue me for defamation!

Of course he won’t get them back and he will be damned lucky if he isn’t permanently 86’ed out of these archives.

He has a bad reputation for selling very, very dubious Nazi relics and now this!

I think I made a mistake when I told him off because I said that Pete Stahl knew all about his diddlings and cons. I am sure he now hates Stahl and will now turn on him!

I did blow it but perhaps he will realize that I can no longer have any dealings with him. (J. Costello told me three years ago that Irving was stuffing original papers into his briefcase at the NA.)

Thanks again for your courtesy and I promise not to put your name into this sorry business.

 

Yours,

 

Bud/s/

 

 

An article appearing in a Toronto, Canada, paper of November 9, 1996 was headed: AUTHOR’S LONDON HOME RAIDED, bylined by Canadian Press and covered a raid conducted by British police at the London Mayfair apartment of David Irving wherefrom a large number of documents allegedly stolen from British, American and German archives were recovered.

It is also interesting to note that the raid also uncovered a “considerable quantity of documents with Nazi letterheads, a folder containing what appears to be Adolf Hitler’s personal note paper, 1940’s-era German typewriters, Nazi document stamps and seals and examples of original signatures of prominent Nazi officials.”

Perhaps this latter information indicates the source of the oft-repeated comments from outraged, legitimate historians that if Irving can’t find a supporting document, he makes one.

Irving has developed an understandably strong interest in the subject of forgeries; loudly criticizing the authenticity of any documents discovered and utilized by any other writer whose work refutes his own pet theories and postulations. In these denunciations, he is shrill, vindictive and completely devoid of substance, lending some credence to the old saying that it is the kicked dog that yelps.

Also in his “Hitler’s War”, Irving states, on page xxiii, that postwar faked Mussolini diaries were “perpetuated by two Italian nuns.” If Irving had taken the trouble to research the subject, he would have found that the forgeries, which fooled all of the recognized experts, had been prepared by an Italian woman named Amalia Panvini and her eighty-four-year old mother.

At the time Irving made this statement, the actual and accurate information on these faked diaries was certainly well-known, especially in England and reference to it can be found in the highly entertaining book by Robert Harris entitled “Selling Hitler” which appeared in 1986. The section on the Panvini fraud can be found on pages 289-290.

This work also contains a number of uncomplimentary commentaries on Irving’s personal behavior in the Hitler diary scandal including references to a £26,000 overdraft on Irving’s bank account.

It is an enormous series of errors of omission and commission that render Irving’s literary excursions into historical fiction as little more than propaganda pamphlets for the promulgation of the godhead of Adolf Hitler and which have no place in the history section of any library.

A compilation of these errata would fill, at the very least, a small book and are viewed as absolutely appalling by any serious historical researcher, regardless of whatever point of view they espouse.

Most of these exposed errata are of such a nature as to very clearly establish that David Irving is either an ideological fabricator of the worst kind or a grossly incompetent and thoroughly careless researcher.

His desperate craving to be noticed, to be the cynosure of all eyes, once led him to initially attack the authenticity of the Stasi-created “Hitler Diaries” that caused so much amusing havoc in the publishing world in 1983, and then, seeing that the tide appeared to be running in the favor of their authenticity, Irving at once publicly reversed himself and claimed that the terrible fakes were indeed authentic.

According to a British writer, Irving was the first to call the documents fake and the last to authenticate them.

By doing this, Irving certainly obtained the print media attention that he so frantically craves, but in the long view, he forever destroyed the tattered remnants of his professional reputation.

Irving, who once enjoyed considerable fame and recognition in ideological circles, has certainly given validity to the statement by Charles DeGaulle that old age is shipwreck. His extramarital adventures in sundry different arenas cost him his wife and daughters and his increasingly polarized and erratic political views resulted in his being banned from Germany, Canada, Australia, Italy, Russia and New Zealand.

There is a strong, and hopefully successful, movement now in train to have him permanently banned from the United States to which he had fled after losing a libel suit in England and being forced into involuntary bankruptcy. This would leave only France and England for Irving to sport in.

The French, it should be noted, revere the actor Jerry Lewis as a brilliant performer and the British are simply stuck with him.

Being banned from a county in no way discourages Irving. In August of 1998, Irving ostensibly came to America to address what he claimed was a “crowd” of thousands at a meeting in Buffalo, New York. He did indeed travel to Buffalo but instead of addressing the multitude from the balcony of the city hall in emulation of the Führer or the Pope on Easter Sunday, he was quietly driven into Canada via Windsor, and did address a meeting of his Canadian minions in Montreal where he regaled the house with his daring exploits in swimming across a river in the dead of night and escaping Canadian border guards and their snarling dogs.

Since Irving has considerable difficulty getting in and out of his bathtub due to various infirmities, it is doubtful that he could brave more than a tepid wading pool at a day care center.

A head count of the Montreal meeting disclosed that the total number of attendees was one hundred and five, three less than his biggest house in Los Angeles, earlier in the year. At the Los Angeles meeting, held in a motel meeting hall by the Institute for Historical Review, Irving sold an incredible fifteen copies of his book on Goebbels.

The impressively titled Institute was once a reputable historical revisionist entity but was taken over by ideological radicals and was housed in a rented garage in a run-down commercial area of Costa Mesa, California. They once produced a historical journal with a large circulation, but chronic mismanagement coupled with expensive legal problems reduced their subscription list to less than twenty individuals of the type who once worshipped Irving and their slim “Journal” appears about as often as Irving’s books after the fall.

One of its “directors” was once arrested in Germany for defacing a Catholic church with swastikas and now supplements his income by acting as a shift manager for a fast food restaurant in South Central Los Angeles.

A second “director” abruptly resigned his position after posting on his Internet site the stunning revelations that he was a space alien whose parents had been giant turtles.

A third “director” found it necessary to leave the United States and he now lives in a small village outside Tijuana, Mexico and runs a Flying Saucer Research Center. His own newsletters specialize in well-illustrated articles on anal probes allegedly conducted by small, pale men with large black eyes. The illustrations come from a book on proctology and are not recommended for viewing before eating.

On this particular trip to Los Angeles, as on many others, Irving was accompanied by a very young woman who was passed off as a “research assistant.” His antics with her were such that his California host had to remove them from his home and put them up at a local hotel where the bill for three days of frolic amounted to over three thousand dollars.

But still Irving made his presence known to the masses, diminished though their numbers might be.

Where once he addressed large crowds of screaming young former East Germans, his later meetings with his admirers are confined to small rooms with ten or fifteen strange, pale people of the sort who believe in flying saucers and Martin Bormann’s survival as a fruit stand operator in Brazil.

However, as long as vanity presses exist, Irving will always be able to pay someone to print his increasingly disoriented books.

These he has dragged around the United States in a rented car, offering them like so many wilted cabbages to the attendees of Nazi relic shows. Even this avenue has finally been closed to Irving who was unceremoniously forbidden entrance to the prestigious American Military Extravaganza show held on a yearly basis in Pennsylvania and he is now totally dependent on occasional sales to those of his devoted followers who are still at liberty or above room temperature.

In England, a photograph was published in a British newspaper in 1984 that showed Irving, in shabby clothes, selling his book, “The Destruction of Dresden” on the sidewalk in front of his former apartment house on Duke Street, a practice that eventually resulted in his being ordered by the police to cease and desist because of a flood of complaints by his neighbors.

At the same time he was proffering his books like overripe melons to disinterested passersby, Irving was also accused by the same police report of making “loud and incoherent” speeches about his persecutions by “powerful Jewish groups.”

Stories of persecutions, including mythic break-ins at his flat and public assaults, are part and parcel of Irving’s standard speech to his loyalists.

Two examples of Irving’s bizarre pursuit of any kind of public attention he can obtain are herein dissected.

According to a number of British newspaper articles, on November 27, 1963, Irving excitedly informed the media that a number of “dangerous men” attempted to smash down the door of his flat and assault him. He claimed he drove them off by physically confronting them.

The actual truth of the matter, in an article in the “Evening Standard” of November 28, 1963, was that three men attempted to gain entrance to Irving’s apartment by displaying a stolen government television technician’s card. Irving invited them in, called the police and the three men were arrested for “an attempt at burglary.”

The police reports indicated that no one attempted to smash down a door. Irving, needless to say, did not chase the putative burglars away, being genuinely terrified of anything over ten years of age and not confined to a wheelchair.

Another incident, often mentioned by Irving in his speeches, is one that occurred in 1992.

Irving claimed that on Sunday, July 12, 1992, he was having lunch at the Richoux restaurant in London with his mistress, one Bente Hogh, then 28, a Danish citizen.

He again called the press and claimed that he was attacked by an irate mob, which he was able to drive off although there were “a large number of them, all armed.”

This got into the press the next day but was immediately refuted by the manager of the restaurant, along with other witnesses, who stated that the “armed mob” consisted entirely of a young man having dinner in the expensive Mayfair restaurant. The diner had addressed several negative remarks to Irving on his way out of the building.

Irving, the witnesses stated, immediately jumped up from his table, and his mistress, and ran into the back of the Richoux in what was described in the police report as a state of terror, barricading himself in the men’s lavatory. He remained there, inconveniencing other patrons, and wouldn’t leave until a waitress gallantly escorted him out of the establishment through the kitchen. By mixing both stories together, it is apparent that Irving covered himself with glory on the one hand and flour on the other.

These entirely fictional accounts harken to the bombast of the Baron von Münchhausen and are designed to impress a shrinking legion of the awestruck with the importance of David Irving.

Irving constantly alludes to death threats, assassination plots, attempted kidnappings, avoided beatings, projected arsons and on and on to impress upon others, having first impressed it upon himself, that he is indeed a man of great importance in the scheme of things and a heroic and dauntless fighter for what he calls “Real Truth.”

This small band of fanatical followers continues to fan the dead ashes of his career with worshipful, if badly scrawled, letters, homemade fruitcakes and small checks.

If it were not for this support, Irving and Bente, his young Danish paramour, would have to go onto public assistance.

Of course there is a very strong belief in many circles, some official, that Irving has, in the past, received large amounts of money from various Saudi groups in order to encourage him to harass and embarrass the Jewish community.

Once Irving drove a Rolls Royce but now rides a bicycle or takes public transportation. He lived in an apartment that had one small room set aside as “David Irving’s War Room” and the walls of the entire establishment were covered with hundreds of pictures of David Irving in various mock-heroic poses as well as a number of sketches by the late, former Nazi Minister of Armaments, Albert Speer.

This interesting individual spent his own declining years making small ink sketches and passing them off, for considerable sums of money, to true believers and the gullible as “original Hitler artworks.”

It seems ironic that Irving, whose career has been based on self-delusion, prevarication and a frenzied campaign of Hitler-worship, would, in the end, have his apartment walls covered in sacred Hitlerian relics that are as fake as his own documentary references.

Miss Hogh was interviewed for an article in the “Spectator” on April 27, 1996, and her comments on her lover are both amusing and instructive.

The reporter, Nicholas Farrell, noted that Irving was constantly complaining in his presence about the fact that his mistress was not keeping the apartment clean and certainly not ironing his shirts. The interview was then moved to a nearby cafe where Ms. Hogh explained that Irving was a very moody, unpredictable man, an egoist who reveled in his disruption of governments and institutions and who boasted often, long and loudly about his many lawsuits against anyone he disliked.

And Irving apparently disliked nearly everyone who did not view him as having a nimbus surrounding his fundament.

The interview also disclosed that Irving was obsessive about his eating habits, demanding that his coffee cup be pre-heated in boiling water, that his beer be served in a frosted glass and that he refused to cook any meals or perform even the most simple of household tasks.

This lack of breeding has manifested itself a number of times over the years when Irving is engaged in speaking engagements in the United States.

He has been known to severely criticize his hosts for not serving him the kind of food he is used to or in neglecting to provide the sort of creature comforts he deems proper to his station in life.

Also, Irving, as a rule, will never thank his hosts for their hospitality.

While Ms Hogh expressed no particular animosity towards Jews, one of Irving’s most obsessive topics, she did indicate that both of them shared a hearty and highly vocal detestation of individuals of the colored persuasion who have emigrated to the United Kingdom from its former colonies.

At one time, Irving founded a political party in England, with a mercifully short lifespan, that advocated rounding up all the “Coloured people in England”, putting them into detention camps and then deporting them to any country that would accept them.

It is obvious from this that Irving has made excellent use of his research into similar activities during the course of what he firmly believes is his very own Third Reich.

In conclusion, Ms. Hogh also stated that her lover was sadistic towards others, supporting published interviews with Irving himself who stated that he was a very strong believer in corporal punishment.

Irving has always denigrated women, claiming that they were intellectually inferior to men and it has been openly discussed, and published in at least one book, by Alexander Baron, that Irving was homosexual. Given his frenzy to sue anyone who publishes even the mildest criticism of him, it is strange that Irving never filed a suit against Mr. Baron for his published and well-circulated accusations.

While Irving takes every opportunity to criticize women, he very publicly and aggressively drags around an assortment of attractive younger women on his book-selling tours. One of these, a 22-year old Miami waitress named Charlene Touhy, a high school dropout, was introduced as his “research assistant” and shown off to his hosts and admirers in America. Eventually a severely chastened, and apparently well-blistered, Charlene departed the Irving ménage and has made a number of very unkind remarks about the world-renowned writer, calling him, among other printable things, “Mr. Spanky”, which needs no further comment.

Mr. Baron has produced no evidence in support of his accusations but there are a series of letters that have surfaced between Irving and someone named Diane Schreiber that might bear on this issue.

Schreiber, a resident of Keene, New Hampshire, ran a Nazi relic emporium called “Brandenburg Historica” and became closely associated with Irving when he was still permitted to attend the larger militaria shows in America.

After establishing contact in the mid-90s, Schreiber and Irving have kept in

constant touch with each other by letter, fax, email as well as personal contact.

The only flaw in what on the surface might appear to be a romantic interlude is that Diane Schreiber is actually one Frank Russo, a fact that becomes quickly obvious to any first-hand observer.

It is doubtful in the extreme that Irving is unaware of the real gender, cross-dressing and other inclinations of his close associate but perhaps their shared interests extend well beyond busts of Josef Goebbels and photo albums of blonde, well-muscled former East German soldiers.

In the years following his decline and fall, Irving has increasingly sought more publicity by filing legal actions against as many people as he can identify as having criticized his inaccuracy, ideological nonsense and general literary buffoonery.

His lawsuits, which he files in his own name, being unable, as he falsely claims, to afford an attorney, are universally thrown out by the courts but only after he has put his victims through great expense and travail.

On July 22, 1994, the “Guardian” published a story about Irving receiving public aid to permit him to file suit against “The Sunday Times.” Public aid, in this case, was granted because Irving was believed to be significantly below the poverty level.

How much money Irving has is not known. It is known that he keeps several accounts in Florida banks in which he hides the money he gets from selling books in America. Irving does this to avoid the payment of taxes to the British Inland Revenue and the American IRS.

It is also known that Irving received money from Syrian Arab sources via a bank in Lebanon for promoting Arab points of view and for launching attacks against the Jewish holocaust writers and organizations.

Libel laws in England are very severe and Irving has delusional hopes that his victims will pay him off and avoid the expenses of lawsuits. To date, no one has accommodated him and he has seen case after case thrown out of court by indignant judges as having no merit whatsoever.

There is a provision in British law called barratry, which prohibits the continuous filing of frivolous lawsuits, and the courts in England have repeatedly threatened Irving with this but to no avail.

Irving became outraged by negative comments about his activities by American religious history professor, Deborah Lipstadt, a fanatic holocaust supporter and Jewish equivalent of David Irving, filing a libel suit against the academic and her publishers.

Claiming, in this case rightly, that he had no funds, Irving made the enormous error of appearing as his own attorney in the case while Lipstadt was ably supplied with an the services of an excellent firm of British attorneys, paid for by the Jewish community.

The outcome was never in doubt and Irving lost his case, the judge finding that he was not libeled. The court also confirmed that Irving had stolen valuable documents from the Russian archives in his research into the book on Goebbels.

British law had a provision that a litigating party in a civil action that loses his case is responsible for the legal expenses of the winner. In this case, Irving would owe Lipstedt and her backers over £2,000,000!

In essence, this defeat means that Irving can never publish, or republish, another book because all of his advances and royalties are subject to attachment. His publishers, one must note, are not held to answer for this but any monies intended for the author are now subject to seizure. Not only was Irving forced into bankruptcy by the British courts, his copyrights were seized by the same courts as valuable assets. This means that Irving can no longer publish any of his previous works without them being immediately attached by the Bankruptcy Court Trustees and anyone foolish enough to finance such a publishing venture would lose their investment.

The British firm of bankruptcy referees, Baker-Tilly in London, have possession of all of Irving’s copyrights.

Defeated in his libel action and held accountable for the immense legal fees opposing attorneys ran up, Irving was pushed into bankruptcy by the courts and subsequently fled to the United States where he lives, at last report, in a small rental house on Angela Street in Key West, Florida.

To his few supporters left in the United States, Irving has revealed his secret plan of becoming an American citizen and to achieve this worthy goal, he has gone to ground and refrained from any publishing ventures that would tend to irritate the American authorities.

What David Irving has not revealed to his far-right supporters is the surprising fact that Irving is a Jew! His father was an English naval officer but his mother was Jewish and in Jewish law, that makes the anti-Semitic writer a Jew. This startling information was found on Irving’s British birth certificate when the bankruptcy court launched an in-depth investigation into his background. When asked about this by a German publisher, Irving admitted the truth about his mother’s origins but said that “it really doesn’t matter because I never even thought about it.”

As Irving’s star sinks quickly, and mercifully, from the sight of mortal men, the failed writer had loudly blamed a great catalog of mythic enemies for his eclipse and obliteration.

He sets these earth-shattering truths forth in a newsletter for his true believers called “David Irving’s Action Report” which reads like the product of a remedial middle-school class in beginning journalism and contains such weighty statements as…”Today a man gave me a ride in a big car”…and shows a picture of a small child looking at plant life over the caption…”Jessica sees the big leaf.” This occasional publication, printed on yellow paper, covers Irving daily activities, his travels, his sore feet, waitresses he has met, the weather in various cities he visits and a plethora of miscellany of endless and boring intensity.

Irving, in his “David Irving Fighting Fund” newsletter, written and mailed from his rented beach cottage in Key West, Florida, his “American Battle Headquarters”, produces an endless series of whining requests for funds from the true believers, the “Inner Circle.”

Accompanying these tearful entreaties is a colored picture of an aging Irving clutching a very small child. This is presumably his out-of-wedlock daughter but if not, it makes him appear as an aged poster boy for pedophiles.

Irving moans that if he does not pay his rising legal bills, bills incurred solely because of the dismissals by various British courts of his endless and merit less lawsuits, he will be “driven from the battlefield of Real History forever.”

This is a consummation devoutly to be wished by anyone with a respect for written history and these feelings include historians of all beliefs and persuasions.

His Action Report has been filled with paranoid mutterings accusing anyone criticizing him with being an agent provocateur, a probable Zionist spy and a functional idiot.

Irving’s newsletters read like the diaries of a paranoid in the final stages of disintegration and he sees the hand of Zionism behind every unpleasant episode in his life, from inflamed piles, electrical problems to his recent eviction from his London apartment for non-payment of rent.

This Action Report, sent to his drooling devotees, was seized upon by the Lipstadt attorneys and used, very tellingly, against Irving in court

Being what he is, Irving has viewed his crushing British legal defeat as a stunning victory and has regaled cheering dozens throughout the United States with such idiotic phrases as “Yes, Irving has scored once more!” and “We certainly showed the other side who was right and who was wrong, didn’t we?”

A person like Irving cannot keep silent for long and from his secret Florida command post, he has issued confidential bulletins to the faithful concerning his latest book that he feels will be his magnum opus. This, he says, will be a scathing investigation into Jewish control of American media and banking institutions and he claims he can show clearly that the American President is a tool of the Israeli Mossad.

As a prelude to his literary and political rebirth, Irving has posted on his internet site, a doctored photograph of concentration camp inmates purported to have been forged by the California-based Simon Wiesenthal Institute.

This picture, which shows a chimney belching smoke in the background, has obviously been doctored but has been in existence long before the Wiesenthal people set up shop and has been used for years as “absolute proof” by the lunatic fringe of forgery concerning allegations of mass murder in the German concentration camps.

In addition to his own lawsuits against others, Irving himself has been sued for copyright violations and accepting moneys given to him by foolish, small publishing houses for books that he has not, never will, or can, write for them

An article in the “Independent” of February 22, 1994 discussed Irving being thrown in jail in England because of a lawsuit against him for his refusal to return a £50,000 advance from a gullible German publisher.

As Irving loudly claims to have no money, these lawsuits only serve to goad him into greater frenzies of manic activity.

No one seems to be successful in halting his increasingly disordered behavior and the catalog of his baseless charges, complaints, lawsuits and slanders continues unabated.

One of his most insistent, and meglomaniacal, charges is that criticism of him and his scribblings has made him fearful of assassination!

Famous, public figures like presidents and popes are assassinated but the killing of David Irving would be far more in the way of euthanasia than assassination.

Instead of being ashamed of his lunatic antics, Irving boasted of them on what he called his “Inner Circle” website. This site, which he terms “a confidential location which I have created for the inner circle of my supporters at http://www.fpp.co.uk/ Inner/ Circle.html” was a bizarre arena that was a compendium of whining pleas for money, psychotic and badly written attacks on everyone whom Irving sees as his enemy and delusional pages about his importance in the world order.

In addition to his Internet nuisances, Irving produced a pamphlet that was a color copy of a cover from the German “Stern” magazine, an institution that loathes him. This counterfeit printing, which Irving takes very seriously, was filled with pompous pictures of himself and accompanied by a thoroughly faked cover story about his greatness, coupled with a fictitious abject apology from the editorial staff of the German magazine for having defamed him.

There have appeared, from Irving’s hand, a number of his printed speeches, which would indicate that he addressed a “Clarendon Club” in London. These speeches appear to be very well received by the audience with a number of textual comments such as “loud laugher” and “wild cheering” from what one would assume were the assembled, aristocratic guests.

Unfortunately, there is no such club. Irving invented it and copyrighted the name so he could use it for his reportage. The speeches are made not to cheering upper class Britons but to a tape recorder in his London flat and the background noises are not loud laughter and wild cheering but the domestic sounds of his housekeeper-cum-mistress vacuuming his carpets and dealing with a screeching child.

As a matter of fact, in reading through these dismal anti-Semitic and anti-black babblings, the observation could well be made that anyone who would either laugh at or wildly cheer the speaker’s dismal bigotry would have to be either completely drunk or coked to the gills.

Probably the most illustrative, and bizarre, example of Irving’s eccentricity is to be found in a decades-long feud launched by Irving against a minor military historian, Peter Stahl.

Stahl, who has published a number of books on German military subjects, met with Irving in San Jose, California in June of 1980 at Irving’s request. Stahl was a friend of Dr. Charles Burdick, Dean of Social Sciences at San Jose University and an academic historian specializing in German military subjects. As Irving was visiting California, Burdick suggested to Irving that perhaps Stahl could assist Irving in locating specific Third Reich documents.

Burdick described Irving to Stahl as “a boorish type” who usually toured with “teenaged tarts” in tow but was a fairly competent researcher in his genre.

During the course of the meeting, Irving informed Stahl that he was looking for any period Third Reich documents that could prove, conclusively, that Adolf Hitler had no knowledge of the Holocaust. He also indicated that he would pay “most generously” if Stahl were able to locate such documents.

In a subsequent conversation with Dr. Burdick, Stahl described the British writer as overbearing and not overly conversant with his subjects. When he informed Burdick of Irving’s request, they both laughed because it was highly doubtful if such documents ever existed, saving in the imagination of David Irving.

Stahl did, however, contact Agnes Peterson of the Hoover Library at Stanford University and when queried about the possible existence of the Hitler-knew-nothing papers in the libraries’ extensive collection, the librarian, like Burdick, laughed and commented that David Irving had been frantically searching for something to exculpate his hero for a number of years and was considered to be a comic figure at the library.

She also advised Stahl to “keep his distance” from the British writer who, Peterson said, was a “terrible, rude pest” and highly demanding.

Shortly after this, Stahl discovered that Peterson was entirely correct in her evaluation of Irving’s persona. No sooner had Irving returned to London than he began to telephone Stahl on a regular basis, usually at four or five in the morning. When advised that the sun had not yet come up in California, Irving always replied with a giggle that it was certainly after lunch in England and then demanded to know what progress Stahl was making in his efforts at locating the desired documents. Since Stahl had quickly abandoned the project as a thoroughgoing waste of his time, he attempted, without any success whatsoever, to convince Irving that he was having no success in his searches.

Irving responded to this by increasing the number of pre-dawn telephone calls until Stahl finally had to resort to leaving the telephone unplugged until a more reasonable hour. This did not deter Irving who merely began his calling regimen very late in the evening instead of early in the morning.

Stahl discovered that Irving was totally incapable of comprehending that no Hitler-exculpating documents had been found and probably never would be. Irving’s response to this information was to become typically, sarcastic and verbally abusive, claiming that Charles Burdick had highly recommended Stahl as a source and urging him to “press forward” in his labors in the vineyards of what Irving called, the “needs of the most important of all modern historians.”

Finally, in a thoroughly misguided effort to silence the annoying Irving, Stahl asked a friend of his who had been a U.S. Army clerk once stationed in Germany, to write up a fake document in the most atrocious German he could muster. This production turned out to be a mythical letter from Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS, to Oswald Pohl, the head of the SS Economics Office. The letter claimed that Hitler had no knowledge of the killing of Jews in the Concentration Camp system and believed that Jews were being sent to these camps to work for the Reich.

The next time Irving called, Stahl gleefully advised Irving that he had indeed found the document Irving was so eager to have. Irving at once demanded that the document be read to him over the phone and when this was done, Stahl said Irving was “absolutely ecstatic” and promised to “liberally reward” Stahl.

A photo copy of the document was duly sent to a delighted Irving.

As Irving was very conversant with good German, Stahl naturally thought that Irving was being sarcastic with his outlandish praise but several days later, he was called by Dr. Burdick regarding the “remarkable find.” It seems that Irving had telephoned Burdick, bubbling with high spirits, and advised him that the redoubtable Peter Stahl was indeed the expert Burdick has so lavishly praised.

Irving’s “liberal reward” consisted of a wartime propaganda photograph of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, worth about twenty dollars on the postcard market.

Burdick, quite naturally, wanted to know what this miraculous document consisted of and when Stahl dropped a copy of it off at Burdick’s office at San Jose State University, Burdick laughed so loudly that his secretary rushed in expecting to see her employer in the midst of a seizure.

Not only had Irving swallowed this outrageous practical joke whole, he sent messages around to his supporters, bragging of his earth-shattering find.

 

 

June 21, 1980 (From the Diaries of David Irving)

New Orleans[…]
7:25 pm Telephoned Professor Joe Hobbs at Raleigh, North Carolina, and told him about the Peter Stahl document. He was astonished, and full of admiration and congratulations. He compared it with Copernicus and said that the difference was that I was living to see myself vindicated in my lifetime. He added that a few days ago he had seen a picture book on aerial warfare with several pages on the Dresden raids and drew the conclusion that even if I had written only the Dresden book I would have justified my writing activities for my lifetime. he will be in Washington at the end of next week and we will probably meet then.

Irving discusses the fake Himmler letter with one of his colleagues.

 

Here we have David Irving in all his delusional glory: “admiration”, “congratulations”, “justified… for my lifetime”, amazingly megalomaniacal, and even comparing himself with Copernicus.

In his 1977 book Hitler’s War, he first uttered his thesis that Hitler didn’t know anything about the final solution against the Jews, which stirred up quite a controversy and was rejected by all reputable historians. In his probably invented diary entry from June 21, 1980 and which he subsequently posted on his website, Irving openly writes that he was searching for corroborating evidence to support his controversial thesis that Hitler didn’t know, a theory that seems to be supported by the above quoted faked Himmler letter.

In other words, this entry suggests that Irving did not adjust his theories according to the evidence he had at hand, but that he was frantically trying to find evidence to support his theories; that because of his ideological zeal, he turned a blind eye for years to the obvious fact that this grotesque “document” was an obvious forgery!

Furthermore, in his diary entries, he never mentioned that when he finally received a copy of this “document” he certainly ought to have immediately recognized  as a very crude forgery and then proceed to expose the evil man “Peter Stahl” who had cost him so much time and effort to delude him and cause him to make himself into a greater fool than God had already done.

Such an outrage must have left traces in his alleged diary, certainly producing the longest and most vicious attack on “Peter Stahl” to be found in it, but no such entry exists. However if Irving is true to his previous behavior. after he will have read this, he will invent this entry and post it immediately.

 

It was not before February 15, 1997–17 years after Irving allegedly wrote down the text of this “document”!–that he describes this Himmler “letter” as being “phony.” But surprisingly, he does not mention the impossible German language of this forgery that he touted for over a decade to his followers.

The text of the joke “Himmler letter”

 

REICHSFÜHRER SS
1 Berlin SW 11  den 20 Oktober 1943.
Prinz Albrecht Straße 8
Feldkommandostelle

SS Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen SS Oswald Pohl,
SS Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungshauptamt
Berlin Lichterfelde-West
Unter den Eichen 126-135.

Sehr geehrter Herr Obergruppenführer,

Der Reichsleiter Bormann hat mehrmals im letzten Monat eine besondere Interesse an der Degussa-Aktion und Ihr Verhältnis mit dem KZ-System. Wie Sie wissen, eine solche Interesse seinerseits völlig überheblich ist und gefährliche Folgerungen haben können.

Bis jetzt habe ich eine direkte Gegenüberstellung mit dem Reichsleiter vermieden, aber der gebraucht natürlich sein je näheres Verhältnis mit dem Führer um diese Einmischung in KZ-Gelegenheiten zu verlangen. Er hat dem Führer eingeredet, daß er erlernte Arbeiter von KZ-Insassen herausholen kann, und hat sogar den Reichsminister Dr. Speer wenigstens teilweise überzeugt von seine Fähigkeit eine solche Aufgabe durchzusetzen.

Der Führer hat mich gebeten in dieser Sache den Reichsleiter zu assistieren. Ich bin informiert worden, daß eine Kommission von fünf Männern der Bormann-Staffel wird in zwei Wochen das KZ Buchenwald besuchen. Zu dieser Zeit habe ich keine Liste ihrer Namen bekommen; ich habe gehört, daß ein Buchhalter unter ihnen sein wird.

Natürlich kann ich nicht gegen des Führers Wunsches die Erlaubnis für eine Untersuchung verweigern, aber unter keinen Umständen dürfen diese Einmischer die Akten der Degussa-Aktion nachprüfen.

Weiter muß die äußerste Sorgfältigkeit gebt werden, daß irgendeine Nachricht über unsere Methoden in der Endlösung der Judenfrage den Ohren des Reichsleiters nicht gelangt. Als der Führer keine Ahnung dieser Endlösung hat und glaubt, die Juden arbeiten in Übersiedlungsgebieten im Osten, es wäre höchst unratbar, ihn zu dieser Zeit zu informieren, besonders nicht mittels des Reichsleiters, der keinen Anlaß hat, uns sonst zu lieben.

Ich verlasse ganz und gar auf Sie für die Sicherheit dieser Sache und erwarte von Ihnen einen vollen Bericht alsbald die Kommission abreist.

Herzliche Grüsse und Heil Hitler
H. Himmler
Reichsführer

REICHSFÜHRER SS
1 Berlin SW 11 den 20. Oktober 1943.
Prinz Albrecht Straße 8
Feldkommandostelle

SS Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen SS Oswald Pohl,
SS Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungshauptamt
Berlin Lichterfelde-West
Unter den Eichen 126-135.

Sehr geehrter Herr Obergruppenführer,

Der Reichsleiter Bormann hat mehrmals im letzten Monat ein besonderes Interesse an der Degussa-Aktion und ihrem Verhältnis zum KL-System geäußert. Wie Sie wissen, ist ein solche Interesse seinerseits völlig unangebracht und könnte gefährliche Folgen haben.

Bis jetzt habe ich eine direkte Konfrontation mit dem Reichsleiter vermieden, aber er nutzt natürlich sein enges Verhältnis zum Führer, um diese Einmischung in KL-Angelegenheiten zu verlangen. Er hat dem Führer eingeredet, daß er aus den KL-Insassen ausgebildete Arbeiter  machen kann, und hat sogar den Reichsminister Dr. Speer wenigstens teilweise von seiner Fähigkeit überzeugt, ein solche Vorhaben umzusetzen.

Der Führer hat mich gebeten, den Reichsleiter in dieser Sache zu unterstützen. Ich bin informiert worden, daß eine Kommission von fünf Männern der Bormann-Staffel in zwei Wochen das KL Buchenwald besuchen wird. Bisher habe ich keine Namensliste bekommen. Ich habe gehört, daß ein Buchhalter unter ihnen sein wird.

Natürlich kann ich die Erlaubnis für eine Untersuchung nicht gegen den Wunsch des Führers verweigern, aber unter keinen Umständen dürfen diese Schnüffler die Akten der Degussa-Aktion prüfen.

Weiterhin muß äußerste sorgfältig darauf geachtet werden, daß keine Nachricht über unsere Methoden bei der Endlösung der Judenfrage dem Reichsleiters zu Ohren kommt. Da der Führer keine Ahnung von der Endlösung hat und glaubt, die Juden arbeiteten in Übersiedlungsgebieten im Osten, wäre es höchst unratsam, ihn jetzt zu informieren, insbesondere nicht über den Reichsleiters, der auch sonst keinen Anlaß hat, uns zu mögen.

Hinsichtlich des sicheren Ablaufs dieser Sache verlasse ich mich ganz und gar auf Sie und erwarte von Ihnen einen vollen Bericht, sobald die Kommission abgereist ist.

Herzliche Grüsse und Heil Hitler
H. Himmler
Reichsführer

Irving’s transcript Proper German

 

 

There the matter lay. Copies of the ludicrous forgery quickly found their way, via Dr. Burdick, into the hands of personnel at both the U.S. National Archives in Washington as well as the Hoover Library at Stanford University and a number of prominent, and legitimate, German military historians. Irving at once become, very privately, an in-house laughingstock in his profession.

In August, 1995, thanks to the irate indiscretions of handwriting and document expert Charles Hamilton (reproduced earlier in this study), it came to Irving’s attention that Stahl had accused Irving of theft and peculation.

From all accounts, Irving flew into a monumental rage and at once began to attack Stahl in his little newsletter, accusing him of document forgery  because by now Irving had discovered seventeen years later that the “Himmler letter” was a grotesque fake.

Shortly before Irving discovered the terrible joke played on him, author Gregory Douglas published the first of his books based on the wartime and post war career of one Heinrich Müller, once head of Hitler’s feared Gestapo and during the post war period, a CIA employee.

For reasons that no one but a psychiatrist could determine, Irving became convinced that the unfortunate Mr. Douglas was actually the evil Peter Stahl and this resulted in the following alleged letter to the Observer, a British newspaper. For obvious reasons, the paper, if it ever received it, did not print this, being subject to strict British libel laws, but Irving later posted it on his manic website for the benefit of his dimwitted adherents:

 

Letter to the Editor of The Observer
[Not published]

London, April 23, 1996

Sir,
May  I comment on Gitta Sereny’s entertaining article (Review, Apr.21). She is right in exposing “Gregory Douglas,” who has crafted the latest historical forgery — a book of supposed post-war interrogations of the missing Gestapo chief Heinrich Müller, as Peter Stahl the well-known American counterfeiter and forger. I first encountered this impostor in 1980, eight years before Ms. Sereny, and saw through the documents he was then offering me after making a few simple cross-checks (in that case with the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, and the Library of Congress). I have been warning everybody about him since — including, it is proper to say, Ms Sereny herself who was at first taken in by Stahl when researching an article about the Nazi mass-murderer Odilo Globocnik which she published in The Independent on Sunday, Jul 19, 1992; it was no doubt thanks to the five page letter which I wrote to that newspaper exposing Stahl that Ms Sereny realised she had been conned.

I also wrote to the German publishers of this latest book, warning them that many of the Müller “1945 interrogations” reproduced almost verbatim chunks of Stahl’s 1980 conversations with me (which I had taped); the result was a string of abuse from the publishers accusing me of envy and malice, and they went — or should I say forged? — ahead with their publication plans.

Yours faithfully,
David Irving

When this matter was brought to the attention of Mr. Douglas, he replied as follows:

“Dear Dr. Kolchak:

Thank you for your letter with the enclosed comments by David Irving.

I have had problems with this strange creature for a number of years past and nothing he says surprises me

I have never met David Irving but from what I have heard, and read, of him, Irving is as mad as a hatter.

He claims I am a half a dozen people and in his manic newsletter, screeches like a turpentined tom cat constantly about me.

Irving, it seems, sues everyone he can, hoping to extort money from them to avoid long and expensive litigation.

His suit against Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt is ironical in the extreme because Irving himself is a Jew (his mother is Jewish and according to Jewish law, so is her son)

In the late 90s, few people in the British media paid any attention to the rantings of an obviously unbalanced and failing Irving and it is extremely doubtful if he ever wrote such a letter to any newspaper editor, or that he seriously expected them to publish it.

This eruption occurred after Druffel Verlag in Germany had published the first edition of my series on Heinrich Müller. The publisher, Dr.Gert Sudholt, advised me that he had received a frantic letter (mentioned in Irving’s “unpublished letter”) from Irving attempting to convince him that he should not publish anything written by myself.

Sudholt, who was well aware that Irving had deliberately and knowingly swindled a number of German publishing houses by taking money for non-existent manuscripts which he was unable to even begin writing due to his failing creative abilities, wrote in response that “…you are obviously envious of the superior writing ability and research skills of Mr. Douglas… I am fully aware of your dishonest activities with other publishing houses in Germany and with the numerous accusations that you have stolen valuable historical documents from private persons and libraries.”

And further, Sudholt said, “I have been informed by Herr Genoud of Switzerland that you falsely obtained original Goebbels material from him and then tried to publish it against his express instructions.” Sudholt said later that Genoud had stopped the publication, in Germany, of Irving’s work on Goebbels that contained stolen copyrighted material.

Sudholt continued: “And the German publishing house lost much money because of this, money you refused to return to them.” Irving had been the target of several lawsuits in England and had been jailed over failure to return a £50,000 advance from a German publisher.

When I brought this documented matter to the attention of the St. Martins Press in New York, to whom Irving was attempting to peddle his book on Goebbels, I was subsequently informed that they refused to publish Irving’s book on Hitler’s Propaganda Minister exactly because of his previous legal problems with German publishers. They were well aware, I was told, that they discovered that Irving had a “terrible” reputation for fraud and theft in the trade and that they would never publish anything coming from him for fear of lawsuits.

It was also known to them at that time that the so-called “Moscow papers” purported by Irving to be “original Goebbels diaries” and on which his book was based, were, in fact, well-known post war KGB political fakes, designed to embarrass the West German authorities.

I am well aware of the lunatic writings of Irving in his yellow sheet and I wrote to Mr. Stahl to see if perhaps we might jointly sue Irving for libel. We hired a private investigator in England who eventually advised us that Irving was so deeply embroiled in lawsuits and teetering on the verge of bankruptcy that litigating him would be absolutely useless. One would have to wait in a very long line and would have to post a large bond with the courts as foreign litigants.

In the end, it proved to be pointless. It is felt by everyone I have spoken with about the Irving babblings that he has reached the end of his sordid career and attacking him would only be tantamount to kicking a decaying corpse.

The only other reason that I can determine that could possibly explain his prolonged hysteria concerning myself is that some years ago, I bought a collection of the correspondence between Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun.

These letters were in the Schloss Fischhorn collection and came from a Eugene Frankenfeld of Philadelphia. Frankenfeld was a CIC operator that was part of a team that discovered the papers of Hermann Fegelein that were buried at the SS Riding School at Fischhorn run by his brother, Waldemar. Instead of turning these letters, and other important historical papers, in to the U.S. Army authorities, Frankenfeld kept many of them and sold them off to various collectors.

Irving, true to form, erroneously believed these documents to be in the possession of a man named Gutierrez in New Mexico and hounded him for several years in a futile attempt to get them for publication. When he discovered that I had purchased them from another party, he called up the seller and screeched like a petulant florist for nearly an hour.

The seller, a retired U.S. Army officer, told me later with some humor that Irving was probably the most obnoxious individual he had ever encountered, was in all probability a mental case, and wished me well.

It is interesting to observe a constant thread that runs through all of Irving’s hysterical outbursts aimed at me. He consistently accuses me and Peter Stahl, quite falsely and without any evidence to substantiate his claims, of the very things he himself has been repeatedly accused of, and been charged in court for, namely fraud, theft, and dealing in forged and stolen documents and counterfeit Nazi memorabilia.

At least he has not accused me of another of his failings; frantic and sordid dalliances with rather young women of no sense whatsoever whom he drags around the United States, transparently cloaked as ‘research assistants.’

If the bankruptcy courts do not put paid to his psychotic ramblings, perhaps some aggressive Child Protective Services might.

Most sincerely,

Gregory Douglas”

Anyone who doubts that David Irving is a sane man needed only visit his “confidential location” to realize that Irving entertains a strong possibility of eventually ending up in a padded room, hopefully sooner rather than later, eating cold beans from a tin tray while someone with a monocle watches him through a peephole in the door.

Instead of a diet of bubble-and-squeak, an appalling cockney dish of fried cabbage and potatoes that Irving regularly indulges in, he will end up gobbling fistfuls of Thorazine and spending his golden years, tightly wrapped in a sheet and immersed in a tub of cold water.

Here he will be able to endlessly chant paragraphs from “Mein Kampf” for the edification of his West Indian ward attendants and thoroughly soil the tub water.

Eventually, as Irving’s fortunes descended to somewhat below sea level, he has been reduced to asking his readers to pay the printer’s bill for reprints of his “Hitler’s War.” Investors are assured that they will be given a note personally signed by the Master and will have the rare privilege of purchasing these books (which they have already paid for in advance) at a special low price. It would be entirely up to the investor to sell these charitable productions and since bookstores will no longer handle Irving’s works, it is to be assumed that the investor will have to stand on street corners with a pushcart full of Irving’s books in order to recoup his investment.

Since his crushing, and very public, defeat in a British court, Irving was bankrupted by the court in order that he reimburse the defendants for their extensive legal costs. Losing his heavily mortgaged British apartment in the posh Mayfair district, Irving fled to the United States where he has been attempting to both become an American citizen and to persuade various individuals to republish various of his earlier works.

Unfortunately for this idea, the British courts through the bankruptcy commissioners of Baker-Tilly in London, now own all of Irving’s copyrights, seized as valuable property after the enforced bankruptcy.

If someone else published these books, the profits due the writer can, and will, be taken by legal action and in all probability, the books themselves will be subject to seizure and impounding.

Although he is fully aware of these dismal prospects, Irving still nurtures fond hopes of somehow making a stunning return from the literary cemetery, staggering down a moonlit road, dripping damp earth and body parts on the deserted tarmac as he heads for what he dreams will be a great hall filled with an adoring and cheering crowd of his equally resurrected and rejuvenated supporters.

As an added incentive to the tardy of donation, Irving personally offers a color poster of Adolf Hitler and some of his staff. Heavy investors receive one of these rare treasures absolutely free but the general public has to pay for them. Irving’s lecture tours are rapidly assuming the general appearance of something produced by the famous P.T. Barnum who, like Irving, believed that there was a sucker born every minute. Perhaps future listeners will be entertained by an Irving-operated Punch and Judy show followed by Irving singing “Knees Up Mother Brown.” while strumming a five-string banjo.

It is said in legal circles that he who defends himself in a court action has a fool for a client. By his verbose bumblings in a British court of law in the Lipstadt case, Irving did terrible damage to the historical revisionist movement. The post-case disclosure that Irving is Jewish will do nothing to repair his shattered reputation either.

However, every cloud has a silver lining and Irving’s has been the intimate friendship developed between himself and the redoubtable Lady Renouf. As a member of London’s high society, the former wife of a New Zealand lord, and prior to that union, the spouse of a member of the Imperial Russian nobility, Lady Renouf attended the long Irving libel trial and found herself in great sympathy with the embattled writer.

As a member of the famous London Reform Club, Lady Renouf made several attempts to invite Irving into her club but the unfortunate writer was promptly blackballed and forced to leave, never to return.

The matter of Lady Renouf is, upon closer examination, absolutely typical of the self-created imagery that Irving has delighted in foisting off on his small circle of adoring supporters.

“Lady Renouf” was born Michele Mainwaring in New Zealand in 1947.  Her father, Arthur Mainwaring, was a truck driver. Michelle, an attractive woman, was a model, an ‘exotic dancer’ and a beauty contest entrée before marrying a Jewish psychiatrist, Daniel Griaznoff, by whom she had two daughters.

Following her departure from the Griaznoff ménage, Michele adopted the name “Countess Griaznoff” and in January, 1991, married multimillionaire New Zealand financier, Sir Frank Renouf. On her marriage certificate Michelle stated that was the Countess Griaznoff, ex-wife of a Russian nobleman. Shortly after the wedding, Sir Frank discovered that his aristocratic wife was actually the daughter of a truck driver and her former husband was certainly not an Imperial Russian count.

Having been made a fool of, Sir Frank immediately left his new wife and they were eventually divorced in 1996.

This, then, is the “member of the British aristocracy” who has actively supported Irving. She was nearly expelled from her club by circulating a particularly vicious screed attacking Jewish press interests in England and attempting to get this published in British newspapers.

To a long list of frauds and deceptions including faked public assaults, burglaries, the counterfeiting of copies of German magazines praising him, the selling of non-existent manuscripts to gullible publishers and publishing grossly faked information in his books, Irving has now taken up a late autumnal romance with a woman who is as fraudulent as he is.

God does indeed have a sense of humor.

Even those who espouse a right-of-center philosophy find David Irving  to be an acute embarrassment and spend a good deal of their time in distancing themselves from his shrill, hysteric mouthings.

In point of fact, if Irving wishes to view the enemy who has destroyed him he need only look in the bathroom mirror while shaving.

The British have a long record of cherishing eccentrics and Irving is precisely the kind that ends up giving wild and emotional public speeches about his persecution by mysterious Jewish groups, speeches that would be filled with dramatic, Hitlerian gestures and what he considers biting sarcasm and wit.

These speeches are not to crowds of cheering, teen-aged neo-Nazis but to an audience composed of one small child engaged in picking his nose and a pensioner asleep on the same bench at London’s famed Hyde Park corner. Here he can join legions of other eccentrics who daily fulminate on Global Warming, Scientology and Martians who send radio messages to the select via their dental fillings.

Instead of the cheers of hundreds, the only noises that now greet Irving’s rants are the hootings of passing police vehicles and the rude, but not entirely unfitting, sounds emitted by a flatulent dog off to one side, and hopefully, downwind.

Since Irving has fled to the United States to avoid the penalties of the British bankruptcy court, he can no longer strut on the Hyde Park corner. It is Irving’s passionate desire to become an American citizen in spite of the fact that in his continental speeches, Irving has referred to Americans as “dirty and stupid farmers, controlled by the Jews.”

In November, 2005, Irving took a plane from England, headed for the Austrian city of Graz, in the southern province of Styria. He had been invited to address a very right-wing orientated group of Austrian studemts at the University of Vienna.

For this meeting he had chosen as his subject, the secret negotiations between Adolf Eichmann and the Jewish leaders in Budapest, Joel Brand and Rezsö Kasztner, the so-called “trucks for Jews” deal, and British knowledge of the scheme from codebreaking.

Traveling to Austria was not a good idea for Irving because in 1989, Irving had been arrested by the Austrian authorities for making “provocative” speeches and after an appearance before an Austrian judge, formally expelled from that country and forbidden future entrance.

However, Irving’s looming disaster was not due to his arrogance or his lust after public adoration but specifically to his ongoing and distasteful feud with American author Gregory Douglas. Irving, has been pathologically jealous of any historian who dared to write on Adolf Hitler, a man whom Irving adored without reservation and he and Douglas became involved in a savage battle. Irving instigated it and Douglas, as will be seen, finished it.

Irving’s jealous rage was based on the knowledge that Douglas’ books on Gestapo Chief Heinrich Mueller were selling better than his own and that, even more terrible, Douglas had managed to obtain important historical  documents that Irving lusted after.

At one point in their open warfare, Douglas, who has a reputation for appalling vindictiveness, warned Irving that if he persisted in his manic ad hominem public attacks; Douglas would retaliate in a manner that Irving would never forget. Irving’s response to this warning was to publish it, complete with snide commentary, and continue his drumfire against Douglas consisting of inaccurate and often pathological attacks.

When Douglas learned from a friend in England that Irving was planning to address the Burschenschaft at the University of Vienna, he got the relevant dates from his informant, rang up a friend in one of the ministries in Vienna and passed along the information. So despite Irving’s  precautions, the Austrian political police were aware of his travel plans and decided to intercept and arrest him, based on the 1989 expulsion order

On 11 November 2005, the Austrian police in the southern Austrian state of Styria, acting under the 1989 prohibition order, followed Irving after he landed at Graz until he was away from population centers and, blocking his rented car, siezed him at gunpooint at the town of Hartberg, northeast of Graz, just before he could get onto the A2 Autobann to Vienna.

Four days later, he was taken, in restrainst, to Vienna where he was rapidly charged by state prosecutors with the speech crime of “trivialising the Holocaust” and violating the 1989 expulsion and prohibition order. His application for bail was denied on the grounds that he would flee or repeat the offence. He remained in jail awaiting trial. On 20 February 2006 Irving pleaded guilty to the charge of “trivialising, grossly playing down and denying the Holocaust”.

         Irving is well-known for his cowardice and, trying to avoid a jail sentence, he quickly and firmly repudiated his long-standing opinions on the Holocaust .He stated to the Austrian court: “I’ve changed my views. I spoke then about Auschwitz and gas chambers based on my knowledge at the time, but by 1991 when I came across the Eichmann papers, I wasn’t saying that any more and I wouldn’t say that now. The Nazis did murder millions of Jews. ..I made a mistake by saying there were no gas chambers, I am absolutely without doubt that the Holocaust took place. I apologise to those few I might have offended though I remain very proud of the 30 books I have written”.

This spineless recanting did him no good and at the conclusion of the one-day official hearing, Irving was duly sentenced to three years of imprisonment “in accordance with the Austrian Federal Law on the prohibition of National Socialist activities (officially Verbotsgesetz, “Prohibition Statute”) for having denied the existence of gas chambers in Nazi concentration camps in several lectures held in Austria in 1989.

At his sentencing, the presiding judge, Peter Liebtreu, summarized:

“He showed no signs that he attempted to change his views after the arrest warrant was issued 16 years ago in Austria…. He served as an example for the right wing for decades. He is comparable to a prostitute who hasn’t changed her ways…. Irving is a falsifier of history and anything but a proper historian.”

In prison, Irving launched a campaign in which his piteous complaints about bunks that were too short and bad food went unheeded and in his anguish, he told everyone he had drunk cleaning fluid. This had some effect on the Austrian legal system and on 21 December 2006, Irving was technically “expelled” from Austria; he was banned from ever returning to the country again. Upon Irving’s arrival in the relative safety of England, Irving once again reaffirmed his position on the Holocaust, stating that he felt “no need any longer to show remorse” for his Holocaust views.

Should Irving, by some very remote chance, escape permanent residence in an asylum, and as his Inner Circle of admirers diminishes due to death or confinement, and the loss of his copyrights has frightened off putative publishers, he will quite predictably end his career talking to himself in public transportation and writing long, rambling screeds, dealing in the main with the Passion of David Irving, incoherent mumblings that the local newspapers will soon cease to publish.

Finally, he will burst a blood vessel when he tries to find a rare, unautographed copy of one of his earlier books in a second hand book store in Cincinnati, Ohio and hears a clerk say, “David Who?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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