I was born at a relatively young age in the first year of "Camelot" -- no, not King Arthur's reign in the 6th Century, but President Kennedy's in 1961. You could say I was literally a child of the 60s, but love, peace and understanding had no chance to pervert my young mind, since my family was strictly Christian conservative.

I left religion at age 12, and conservatism at age 26, to become the godless pinko commie lying socialist weasel that conservatives find at right. I'm sure that liberals will recognize something of the kindly, gentle, good-humored progressive student I actually am in this photo, which makes this a political Rorschach ink-blot test (and probably about as attractive).

I've led an interesting life, even if it hasn't always taken me where I want to go. Upon graduating from high school in 1979, filled with high hopes and dreams of wealth and fame, I promptly ran into the back-to-back recessions of 1980-82, the worst since the Great Depression. So I did the politically correct thing to do -- for a conservative -- and joined the Army. I must have scored really low on their qualifications tests, because they relegated me to military intelligence. This included a year of learning a foreign language (Russian) while basking in the sun at the Presidio of Monterey, California.

I had just begun wondering why everyone complained about Army life when they shipped me off to Fort Bragg, to play G.I. Joe in the dirt. While my paperwork was still being processed, President Reagan decided to invade Grenada. I waved my comrades goodbye at neighboring Pope Air Force Base, unable to join them without my paperwork. (Damn bureaucracy!) No matter -- I got to see a war anyway, in Central America, doing things I am not at liberty to discuss (but which you can read about in any newspaper).

In 1984 they shipped me off to Berlin, to do more of the things I can't discuss. Basically this involved electronic eavesdropping on Soviet military units in Eastern Europe, analyzing the transcripts and reporting back to NATO. It was here that I learned that a Soviet invasion of Western Europe was impossible, because their soldiers lacked certain sophisticated training -- like, oh, say, driving skills. But I must not have been in the entire intelligence loop, for our leaders could often be seen on television solemnly warning us of the grave Soviet threat that hung over Europe like a pall.

And then there were the wake-up calls -- the terrorist bombing of a Berlin discotheque only a few blocks away from my living quarters. In response, Reagan ordered the bombing of Libya, even though it later turned out that we had no proof they did it. (The subsequent terrorist alert, however, forced me to cancel my vacation to Spain.) And then there was the Soviet's assassination of Major Arthur Nicholson, one of my intelligence compratiots, whose funeral I attended. The image of his 4-year old daughter clutching a Cabbage Patch doll throughout the entire service is one that is forever burned into my memory. This was a pivotal moment in my life, causing me to question my conservative beliefs and take a more serious look at the costs and benefits of the arms race. And I was also there when Chernobyl experienced the worst nuclear disaster in history, giving Berlin a nice radioactive bath in my last month of service. But other than this, I loved Europe.

With an honorable discharge in one hand, and the GI Bill in the other, I flew back to California in 1986 to recreate the college lizard lifestyle. Port of entry into said lifestyle was the University of California - Santa Cruz. This campus is one of the most beautiful in the world, sitting atop a small mountain of redwood forests, overlooking all 50 miles of Monterey Bay. It is also one of the most liberal places in America, only one of two U.S. cities to have ever elected a socialist mayor. Needless to say, Santa Cruz is often the target of Rush Limbaugh's wrath. UCSC is also famous for its appearance in the movie Pulp Fiction, albeit as an emblem on John Travolta's "dorky" T-shirt. (The yellow creature you saw was a banana slug, the school mascot.)

Going from the Army to USCS was like going from conservative heaven to liberal heaven at warp speed. There, kindly professors pointed out to me the illogic of defending life by taking it, destroying the planet for a buck and shutting down schools to build more prisons. I am now thoroughly brainwashed to believe that kindness and human decency are positive traits to be emulated and encouraged. I know this is a radical thought for a straight white male, but I suppose it proves that European traits are not really, reeeeeaallly genetic.

Today I have a major in Russian studies, with an emphasis on political science and economics. However, I am applying to grad school in U.S. political science, which has interested me much more since communism fell. I visited Russia in 1989, and the trip was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. The Russians are the warmest, friendliest people I've met anywhere. But their country was in the final stages of collapse, with devastating environmental problems and economic stagnation. Yet more proof, if more be needed, that dictatorships are disastrous. Long live democracy...

I have many interests in life, among them traveling, writing, movies and socializing in Santa Cruz's deservedly famous coffee shops. But one of the biggest is chess. From 1992 to 1995, I served as the Santa Cruz Chess Club President, where I am both a tournament director and a strong A-player. Teaching chess to school children is one of my life's greatest joys.



A letter from John Van Matre

When I first heard that Steve Kangas may have died in Pittsburgh, I searched for an obituary and could find none.  I wanted to know about the circumstances.  I knew Steve Kangas had written an investigative essay on Richard Mellon Scaife and wondered whether there might be a connection, though I really didn't expect to find one.  Finally, someone with Lexus Nexus access verified that Steve Kangas had actually died, and sent me the short obituary from the the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette of Feb. 12:

"The body of a 37-year-old man found in a 39th floor bathroom of One Oxford Centre late Monday night has been identified as Steven Kangas of Las Vegas. He died of a gunshot wound to the head. The Allegheny County coroner's office ruled the death a suicide."
I plugged in One Oxford Centre and Scaife -what popped up made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
Scaife Foundations
One Oxford Centre
301 Grant Street, Suite 3900
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15219-6401
Since then, the questions surrounding the death of Steve Kangas have snowballed.  There were two parallel tracks being taken.  One track was seeking more information about Steve's death and wanting a further investigation.  The other track was bent on smearing Steve's reputation and turning him into everything from an embezzler to a neo nazi to a down and out womanizing drunk to an assassin out to murder Richard Mellon Scaife.  For instance Tucker Carlson, in an article "Stalking Scaife" characterized Steve Kangas as, "Kangas, a 37-year-old Internet pornographer from Las Vegas" and Tony Snow, in an article "Steve Kangas Left-Wing Vince Foster" characterized Steve Kangas as, "Squeeky Frohme with intellectual pretensions."

For any who are unfamiliar with Steve Kangas and wish to make up their own mind, I suggest you visit his web page and read through his essays ("The Origins of the Overclass" is the essay that mentions Scaife).

He posted his last essay to his Web site on February 3, just five days before his untimely death.  In my opinion, it is not the writings of a man in throes of alcoholism, though people like Richard Scaife have suggested as much and he may well view Steve's work as pornography.  See:

There are more questions than answers.  Richard Scaife hiring a detective to try and dig up dirt on Steve Kangas raises a red flag.  He used the same detective, Rex Armistead, that was used to try and dig up dirt on President Clinton for the Arkansas Project.  The Pittsburgh police should have been so thorough.  I doubt the police even questioned Richard Scaife, though one report did say they were thinking about it.  The systematic attempted trashing of Steve Kangas' raises questions.  Discrepancies between the coroner's report, in which Steve was injured when first found, and the police report, with no mention of injuries when he was first found raises questions.  The quick cremation and the erasure of Steve Kangas' hard drive raises questions. 

If magically I could have three questions about the circumstances around this case answered, I suppose they would be -- (1) Is the checking of the circuit breakers in One Oxford Centre rest rooms sop, and is there a log to prove this? (2) Was the gun that killed Steve empty when found? The news articles infer this, stating 47 rounds were found in his backpack and in one pocket.  This is important because if Steve Kangas were in custody of Scaife security, they may have initially taken his gun away and emptied the clip.  There may even be prints on the bullets or the clip, if the gun is still in evidence.  (3) One intriguing puzzle piece that doesn't fit with the theory of suicide -- the bullet found around the time that Steve Kangas was found.  There was a bullet hole found in the window of a street level clothing store.  The slug was found inside the store.  The bullet got there somehow.  The location of One Oxford Centre doesn't appear to be a part of Pittsburgh where random bullet holes would be found.  I suspect this may be the first time ever that a bullet hole was found in a window of one of the shops.  Maybe some time after all the stores had closed, Steve Kangas had attempted to leave, was stopped by Scaife security, shots or a shot were fired, with Steve Kangas was forced to go back up to the 39th floor.  If that bullet is connected, suicide becomes implausible. 

I don't know what happened to Steve Kangas on the evening of February 8.  I can write several scripts from the facts, as reported in the various newspaper articles.  Many of the facts of the case seem suspicious and do not fit well with the theory of suicide.  When I started digging on my own, that is what I expected to find.  But from the burglar alarm system, to the \$300 gun, to the intensive work he'd been doing on his political web site, that does not seem to be where Steve Kangas was at. 

And then there is that bullet hole in the window of the Kountz and Rider clothing store. 

For Steve's sake, this case deserves to be investigated further by someone with the means and abilities far greater than I.  Hopefully someone, or some agency, will investigate the death of of Steve Kangas in the manner it deserves.

Rest in peace Steve Kangas.

            John Van Matre

Best Place to Shop Around the World.
Best of Human Intelligence about Steve Kangas