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Jewish World Review March 22, 1999 /5 Nissan 5759

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Kangas, the Left’s ‘Foster’? More like a diligent nut

(JWR) ---- (
STEVE KANGAS IS BIDDING fair to become the left-wing equivalent of Vince Foster.

He committed suicide Feb. 8 in a bathroom stall on the 39th floor of One Oxford Center in Pittsburgh --- just feet from the office of a man he despised, Richard Mellon Scaife.

Kangas was one of the Internet's foremost defenders of Bill Clinton and haters of Scaife, a publisher and philanthropist who has given hundreds of millions to charities, including some conservative outfits that are openly hostile to the president.

Kangas ran a web site titled "Liberalism Resurgent," the purpose of which was to savage conservatives and catalog his voluminous rantings about everything from Ronald Reagan to his personal journey to nihilism. (He also included a resume and a picture. He was a stocky, roundish, bearded fellow who, with his wire-rimmed glasses and pleasant smile, could have been a dark-haired Santa.)

The poor fellow was a garrulous loser who used his word processor to airbrush away his empty spots and blemishes. He wrote that he was converted to radicalism during a stint in the Army. He boasted of being an intelligence analyst; he was a Specialist 4. He said he polished his knowledge of Russian and philosophy at the University of California at Santa Cruz, the former home of such Marxist luminaries as Herbert Marcuse. He never graduated.

He moved to Las Vegas in 1996. He tried number-crunching for an online gambling outfit. He also produced sadomasochistic porn flicks in his apartment. Although he told a friend he soon would be a millionaire, he spent most of his wealth on booze, bets and women. Perhaps chastened by failure, he informed visitors to his web site that he intended to escape the "hellhole" of Las Vegas and return to California.

Instead, he bought a 9 mm semiautomatic pistol on Jan. 21 and headed east a week later. He left without notifying his roommate and hopped on a bus (telling his sister he was going to collect debts from a couple of unnamed people).

He showed up in Scaife's building on the afternoon of Feb. 8 and killed himself nine hours later. Toxicology reports indicate he was drunk, with a blood alcohol content of 0.14. His personal effects consisted of a partially empty bottle of Jack Daniels, two boxes of ammunition, a satchel containing three books (including Hitler's "Mein Kampf") and pocket change totaling $14.63.

Conspiracy buffs point out that police and the coroner couldn't agree on where the bullet entered his skull, and when he was shot.

One might think of Kangas as Squeaky Fromme with intellectual pretensions.

He adopted all the right postures. He wrote of his passion for defending the working man but didn't seem to seem to spend much time among the grunts.

He depicted America as a cauldron of evil, controlled by the diabolical Scaife and an unholy conspiracy masterminded by such outfits as the CIA and the Knights of Malta. Key players in the cabal included The Washington Post, the media in general, former baseball commissioner Bowie Kuhn and Clair Booth Luce , who happens to be dead.

There are people in this world who are casually crazy and others who work hard at it. Kangas was a diligent nut. His web site features 20 extended essays on such topics as "The Origins of the Overclass," "The Great Depression: Its Causes and Cure," "Government Success Stories and Free Market Failures" and "Liberal Reasons Not to Celebrate Christmas."

(The reasons include worsening income equality, degrading the environment, encouraging the purchase of goods made in China and the unconscionable theft of pre-Christian pagan rites.)

The writing in some places is entertaining, but always passionate. Which brings us to the importance of this tale.

When Bill Clinton addressed a prayer service after the Oklahoma City bombing, he urged Americans "to purge ourselves of the dark forces which gave rise to this evil ... forces that threaten our common peace, our freedom, our way of life. ... When there is talk of hatred, let us stand up and talk against it. When there is talk of violence, let us stand up and talk against it. In the face of death, let us honor life."

Steven Kangas was suckered by such dark forces. He bought the argument, retailed by Clinton apologists, that right-wingers have organized a posse to get the president, and he evidently wanted to mete out some prairie justice before meeting his maker.

Make no mistake: The president is a target of incredible right-wing bile.

But he also has condoned concerted assaults on his foes. Kenneth Starr has a permanent security detail because of the volume of death threats. Larry Flynt has become Clinton's avenging pornographer. Of the women who have spoken about their unpleasant relations with Bill Clinton, only Juanita Broaddrick has avoided the nuts 'n' sluts treatment.

So perhaps rather than making Kangas the poster child for a great cause, we ought to remember him as a symbol of a political system gone nuts --- and an example of what happens when all politics aims at the business of personal destruction.


03/18/99: Does Forbes have a chance?
03/15/99: Team Clinton aren’t treasonists ...
03/11/99: Blackmun’s burden
03/08/99: The Lewinsky Principle
03/05/99: Buchanan & Ventura’s lure
03/01/99: Open season on women
02/25/99: The birth of political wisdom
02/22/99: Children of optimism
02/18/99: Wake up, Republicans!
02/16/99: Why we feel so good
02/11/99: What exactly does George W. stand for?
02/08/99: Run, GOPers, run?
02/04/99: The languid sigh of waves lapping ashore
02/01/99: Verbal vortex
01/28/99: To be a ‘sell-out’ or an unelectable pol --- that is the question
01/25/99: The apogee of a trend
01/21/99:What my 3-year-old taught me
01/17/99:Don't be fooled, folks
01/14/99: Must a pol be ‘baaaad’ in order to get elected?
01/12/99: Jumpin’ Jack (Kemp)
01/08/99 : Hot air in the Windy City

©1999, Creators Syndicate