Steamshovel Press


"Michael Kelly and the Conspiracy Fusion"
by Kenn Thomas

      Michael Kelly made a final distinction on his vitae: he became the first US journalist killed in the Iraq war. Prior to that, his career spanned the gamut of opinion magazines, starting with the New Republic (holding the same job once held by Michael Straight, a now confessed spy who had a hand in the persecution of Wilhelm Reich), including the New Yorker and National Journal, a regular column for the Washington Post, and winding up with Atlantic Monthly, where he served as editor in chief before becoming "embedded" with the third infantry in Iraq. He died there on April 4.

      "Embedding" with the military was only the latest, most egregious example of the press whoring to the Pentagon, and Kelly's contribution was hardly distinguished in that sense. Previously, Rob Sterling's Konformist listed Kelly as a co-recipient of its Beast of the Month award to note "his hack work ensuring the swindling of the presidency"--for Kelly's anti-Clinton writing--and noted with that to his credit Kelly died in a war he helped promote. No one yet has placed Kelly on the mysterious Clinton-related deaths list, but some mystery still surrounds the circumstances of his passing. Reports suggested it resulted from a Humvee accident that happened in an attempt to avoid enemy fire, but in other reports military officials concluded it had not been combat related.

      One quote appearing in the news stories about it reflected the irony of Kelly's under-abundant paranoia about the chaos and injustice of war: "There is some element of danger, but you are surrounded by an Army, literally, who is going to try very hard to keep you out of danger." It is precisely that effort that led to many friendly-fire deaths in this conflict.

      Kelly and I spoke once about the Clinton death list. He interviewed me, in fact, for an article that appeared in the June 19, 1995 issue of The New Yorker entitled "The Road To Paranoia". It focused on Robert Fletcher of the Militia of Montana. Rather than the wild-eyed caricature of such people very common in the media at the time, Fletcher was a grandfatherly type, well versed in conspiracy literature and articulate, who believed that ideologies of the left and right "must converge to fight their common enemy--the governing elite."

      Kelly coined the phrase "fusion paranoia" to describe Fletcher's idea, specifically as it related to the alternative media, for which, I provided him a list. According to Kelly, such "fusion" paranoids "meet in Paranoia, the magazine. They also meet in such publications as Flatland, Spotlight, The New Federalist, NEWSPEAK, Kattazzzine, Steamshovel Press, Nexus, Crash Collusion, Behind the Barriers, Conspiracy Update, The Probe, The Eye, Incite Information, EXTRAPHILE, Flashpoint, Trajectories; in publishing houses such as IllumiNet Press, III Publishing, Victoria House, SPI Books, Aries Rising Press, Feral House; in the bookstores-by-mail of America West, Flatland Books, and the Ruling Class/Conspiracy Research Resource Center; in computer databases such as CIABASE and NameBase; on the Internet in the news-groups alt.CIA and alt.conspiracy." If it was good for nothing else, at least Kelly's writing provided a snapshot of a heady period, eight years ago, when reading in this area was abundant. Jim Keith and I took this idea of "fusion paranoia", which was later utterly eschewed by Konformist Rob), and made it the basis of a radio discussion that Steamshovel now makes available on CD ($6, post paid, from POB 210553, St. Louis, MO 63121 --checks payable, as always, to "Kenn Thomas" not "Steamshovel Press").

      (In the eerie coincidence department, another journalist casualty of the Iraq war, NBC's David Bloom, died of a pulmonary embolism that may have resulted from a knee thrombosis due to the cramped conditions of his "Bloom mobile" reporter's vehicle. Officially, Jim Keith died that way as well, of a knee injury that led to an embolism.)

      Kelly's conclusions at the time were relatively generous, especially in light on the caustic conservative he later became. Of the fusion paranoids, he remarked: "They question everything, and believe nothing but what is proven to their own satisfaction, until they have refigured the world. In this way, truth lies. Unfortunately, so does madness." People like Fletcher, Kelly determined, "are undone by an excess of expectation and a dearth of imagination, by the failure of their country to live up to itself, and by their own failure to explain how this can have happened." Strange how those words might apply to Kelly himself now.

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