Monday, November 28, 2005

Linx 4 U

I have to leave for a few days; should be back Friday. But, c'mon, it's not like I haven't posted plenty of material the last few days. Anyway, here's some goodies to tide you over:

Wingnuts on Planet P.

Let the good times roll. These guys are in super thick with Bush (google it!). Looks like it's paying off. It's like H.L. Hunt and Howard Hughes teleported to the 00's.

First they came for the artists, then they came for the historians.

Propertarianism in the music industry.

Now that's environmentalism.

Family Values.

Take a leak.

The candid version of PNAC.

Murder by the state for a victimless crime, what a propertarian paradise. More here.

Dont forget Poland!

Just Fucking Awesome

This is the most excellent takedown of Christopher Hitchens I've seen yet, because it is so comprehensive.

It's not too long; it's dense yet somehow light and in a few places witty. Great stuff. Heavily footnoted. I wanted to do something like it for a long time but could never pull it off.

Two suggestions for Lenin I humbly offer. Check out Hitchens's political epitaph of Conor Cruise O'Brien in .. Unacknowledged Legislation, I think. He might as well have been writing of his future self. Also, while I will never say that Hitchens was insuffienciently hermetic in his Leftism (I'm not about to do the Norman Podhoretz trick of saying that he was rat from the start), or that's it's somehow axiomatically evil or evidence of shoddy character when one shifts ideological allegiance, I do agree that Hitchens always had a certain, significant soft spot. The fucker always played games with the dialectic to argue that America-Britain was always on the right ("left") side, the revolutionary side of history, and anyone in A-B's path was "reactionary". Here's an example that, when I found it, made me retch:

But those who view the history of North America as a narrative of genocide and slavery are, it seems to me, hopelessly stuck on this reactionary position. They can think of the Western expansion of the United States only in terms of plague blankets, bootleg booze and dead buffalo, never in terms of the medicine chest, the wheel and the railway.

One need not be an automatic positivist about this. But it does happen to be the way that history is made, and to complain about it is as empty as complaint about climatic, geological or tectonic shift.

Pathetic. Pathological. A bald defense of genocide, almost perfectly mirroring that of Glenn Reynolds. Blaming the victims or, at best, consigning blame to a "natural" phenomenon.

RETARDO Montalban and Marie Jon' in....

The Wingnut' Who Loved Me'

*In medias res*

*Agent Retardo Montalban is surrounded by thugs. It's obvious he's in some sort of studio*

Sean Hannity: We have you now, RETARDO. You'll never get away! It's time we stopped your treasonous, evil ways! We have moral clarity, and you have shit!

Bill O'Reilly: I'll get you for persecuting me, RETARDO! At last, this nice Irish guy from Levittown, Long Island will have revenge on your terrorist-coddling, elitist, America-hating hide, you commie scumbag!

*fat, bloated Roger Ailes wheels up in his fatty cart. He pets a white Persian cat*

Ailes: Yes, yes. I expect you to die, RETARDO!

Rupert Murdoch: Aye, I reckon you Yank commie bahstards will awl bloody doie!

*RETARDO desperately searches for a way out. He is outnumbered and, seemingly, outgunned*

RETARDO: If I don't report in, my partner is to drop a full bottle of RU-486 into the Greater Utah water supply, so I suggest you back off.

O'Reilly: *gasps* You wouldn't dare! Who do you think you are, Media Matters?!?!

*RETARDO backs out of the studio door. He is chased by the wingnuts. He dodges Murdoch's boomerang, but it's a close call. Finally, he gets to the satelite feed. He uses a gadget, reverses something, sets a timer, and takes off*

*In 10 seconds, Fox's satellite feed will be replaced with the Sundance Channel, causing, like, total protonic-ideologic-reversal, exploding the whole Fox Broadcasting apparatus*


*RETARDO runs*


*RETARDO throws a copy of the Constitution at a wingnut henchmen; the wingnut is crippled*


*RETARDO runs farther away*


*RETARDO is shot at by Ann Coulter's spitwad blowgun, but Alan Colmes's frail, lifeless corpse absorbs all the projectiles*


*RETARDO dodges Bill O'Reilly's flying spittle. RETARDO throws a copy of Al Franken's book at O'Reilly. O'Reilly screams "Shuuuuuut uppppppp!" as it touches him, its truth making him explode into a million pieces*



*Fox News Studios explodes, flying debris all around. Agent RETARDO has barely made it to safety, his work done*

Surviving Fox Technician *to RETARDO*: My god, what happened to the studio?

RETARDO: They had technical difficulties. Please stand by.

*RETARDO presses a button on his watch. A gay marriage magic rainbow appears under his feet and takes him away to safety*


Cut to : opening credits as music plays. In the background are silhouettes of dancing naked women with guns shooting yellow elephants.

Nobody does it better
Especially not Sadly, No!
Nobody else does it half as good as you
Baby you're the best

I was a wingnut, but somehow still human
I tried to hide from your Liberal logic
But like heaven above me
The Liberal who saved me
Is keepin' all my secrets safe toniiight

And nobody does it better
Though sometimes I wish Sadly, No! could
Nobody does it quite the way you do
Why'd you have to be so good?

Darlin' you're the best
Baby you're the besssssssst


Josh from elementropy blog as RETARDO Montalban 007

Marie Jon' as Marie Jon'

Robert Blake as Sean Hannity

Mickey Rooney as Roger Ailes

Joe Don Baker as Bill O'Reilly

DJ Qualls as Judson Cox


Cut to: Special Agent RETARDO Montalban of The Secret Liberal Service knocking on a finely-panelled oak door. He enters.

RETARDO: Yes, M, you wished to see me?

M: Heh indeedy, RETARDO. *he snickers slightly* I'm tasking you with a very important mission. As you know, the wingnuts are making some suspicious manuevers on the Alito and Murtha fronts, and of course Iraq Incompetence and Plamegate go on and on. I needn't remind you that we are at a very crucial moment in Liberal-Wingnut relations. If the wingnuts prove that the Prime Liberal is conclusively fat in this week's punditry battles, we could lose everything until 2008.

RETARDO: Yes, because if the Prime Liberal is fat, a Chewbacca Defense scenario then occurs: Bush is right, Bush is Jesus, Jesus is Bush, Liberals hate freedom, munichappeasementhitler... doomsday.

M: Quite right.

RETARDO: So what is to be done, sir?

M: Our man in California sent a message that a local in the wingnut movement wants to defect. She's very important. Apparently the Wingnut High Command is grooming her to be the next Laura Ingraham. We can't allow that to happen. Another wingnut on a magazine cover looking sexy in a leopard-print miniskirt all the while spewing noxious ersatz-Victorian moralist crap is a terrible thing to contemplate. Plus, it is rumored that she is much, much hotter than Laura Ingraham ever was. She's destined for wingnut television if we don't act in time.

You, RETARDO, must fly there immediately; ascertain the situation. She must be allowed to defect, willingly or...

RETARDO, you must know that our man in California disappeared soon after reporting this information. You're to rescue or recover him, as the case may be.

We suspect that the defector, and our disappeared agent, have something to do with the nefarious wingnut plot to "prove" the Prime Liberal fat. You must tread carefully, 007.

*M hands RETARDO the case file, with a picture of the defector attached*

Dismissed, RETARDO. Be sure to see Q before your flight.

*Fade out*

*New scene opens in an underground testing facility. Many odd contraptions laying around. Here, a history book is opened in front of a mannequin labeled "wingnut" while technicians nearby cower. The mannequin explodes. There, a tape of Bush administration officials lying and/or contradicting themselves is played in front of another mannequin labeled "wingnut." The mannequin bursts into flames. RETARDO enters and watches, amused.*

Q: Ahh, good evening, RETARDO.

RETARDO: Q. *observing the smoking hulls of the mannequins* I didn't know wingnuts had such brittle shells.

Q: *annoyed* Spare me your witless remarks, 007. Now, observe. This appears to be an ordinary wallet. But look *he opens it and out folds many expanding documents*. At close range, lethal to Libertarians of almost all stripes. These pictures and documents contain the US Constitution, with the "promote the general welfare" part of the preamble, and the commerce clause in the main body highlighted. Also, there is a picture of Milton Friedman's goons in Chile, assorted stock footage of American 19th century child laborers, a chemical chart of pre-FDA canned hams, then for the coup de grace, a print of Lord John Russell and Sir Charles Trevelyan dancing on the withered corpses of starved Irish while singing "There's No Such Thing As A Free Lunch".

RETARDO: Impressive.

Q: Of course it is, 007. I take my work seriously. But beware: it doesn't work on Randroids. In fact, it only excites them. Now, for your mission. This is the latest standard issue among Secret Liberal Agents. It's a self-immolating American flag, guaranteed to burn at 5000 degrees Celsius.

RETARDO: Oh say can you singe?

Q: *rolls eyes* Pay attention, please. Here is the latest Berlitz French Language course. Only a few words can burst the internal organs of most wingnuts, so do be careful.


Q: Stop that! Now look, this is a normal belt, size 32. Ah, but inside the buckle, a Swiss Army Abortion kit!

*Q moves across the room, and with a voila motion, he removes a tarp from a gleaming car*

This automobile is now standard issue as well. It's a 2006 Greenpeace Vega. It runs on hemp diesel and gets 189 miles to the gallon. Its chassis is made of compressed tofu; it has a state of the art bong in the dashboard with automatic and ergonomic face-mask extentions for the driver and all passengers. Its computer is solar powered, and speaks in the voice of Ed Begley, Jr. Its defences are as follows: at a click of this button, jars of fetuses pop out of the fenders and trunk, shielding you from wingnut attack. This other button plays Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American" at high volume, causing wingnuts to stop in their tracks, shed tears, remove their hats, and join in singing. Your ears will be protected from this aural atrocity inside the car, of course. To activate the car's flying properties, the bong must be extensively used.

Now remember, 007, all this equipment is the property of the People's Republic of Liberalism and I expect it to be returned in pristine order.

RETARDO: Have I ever let you down, Q?

Q: Repeatedly.

*Cut to: RETARDO huffing on bong and flying West*



Sunday, November 27, 2005

RETARDO's Skeptic's Guide To American Presidents (II)

The next eleven, because you asked for it.

Zachary Taylor: "Old Rough and Ready" wasn't so ready to serve a full term: he promptly died after a couple years. Don't laugh. You'd be ready to die too, after spending that much time in Texas. And take a look at his face in some of the pictures: the poor guy was a slob and looked at least 40 years older than his age.

Millard Fillmore: Hmmm, I don't remember much except that he was another accidental President, and did some good work helping the compromisers to mend sectionalism. At least, I think so. Two things unfortunately named for him: the awful wingnut cartoon, and the fictional high school where Dr. Johnny Fever taught young Republicans and huge nerds on Tuesday nights in the late 80s on ABC. Ugh. Fillmore was also one of those one-in-a-bazillion people who actually worked their way to the top, semi-honestly, from nothing -- yes, an example of the Horatio Alger story that wingnuts constantly push as what is bound to happen ("anyone can do it!") to plucky hard-working people who refuse welfare and pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

Franklin Pierce: Drunken. Enlisted pretty much to further his career. Served in the Mexican War, albeit incompetently. Dim and uninspired, but at least had good taste in friends (Nathaniel Hawthorne, who said that Pierce was "deep, deep, deep" when in reality he was mud puddle-shallow). Pandered to the South as President. Must be forgiven for his drunken remoteness due to the fact that, well, you'd be pretty broken up too if you and your wife had seen your child die before your eyes in a horrible trainwreck.

James Buchanan: Actually a fine diplomat. Unfortunately, he resolved as President to devote all his diplomacy to the South. Never married; his niece functioned as White House hostess. White House became a shithole during his tenure, which he compensated for by building the finest of barns, of brick (!) where the DC mall is now located. Weird posture, as if he always had a crick in his neck. Possibly it was scoliosis. Or maybe it was just too many attempts at autofellatio.

Abraham Lincoln:Probably syphilitic. Possibly bisexual. Like Jefferson, hostile to religion. A prose master. Didn't give a shit about philosophy, only about politics. Nakedly ambitious, even for a President. Contrary to conventional wisdom, was never an abolitionist, even though he did finally do the noble, but legally difficult, deed. Rather, he was a Unionist. Started the unfortunate trend of bearded Presidents, which culminated in the election of President ZZ Top in 1882. Continued and greatly expanded the execrable tradition of suspending civil liberties as a "necessity;" and in contributing to the precedent of "if the President does it, it's legal," Lincoln's actions served Nixon and serves Bush very well indeed. Employed some truly awful people, from the technocratic, waffling fucktard General McClellan, to the ridiculously scoundrelish Dan Sickles, who was essentially a 19th Century version of G. Gordon Liddy. Suspended habeas corpus; his Attorney General actually experienced a near-sexual glee at jailing newspaper editors. Figuratively shredded the constitution with such alacrity that in a fit of exasperation the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court actually threw a copy of the document at Lincoln's head. Wanted to colonise blacks to Central America, proving that he just didn't get the issue. Lincoln gave the first important jobs (and oh, how they got great training!) to butchers like Sheridan and Sherman who later presided over the full-tilt genocide of the Sioux. Union saved, in the end he wanted reconciliation with the South, not retribution. When played by "Rex Hamilton", he actually fired back at John Wilkes Booth. Often cracked jokes and was famed for his "funny stories", yet for us is a sad and tragic figure, Shakespearean even; his wife was insane, two of their sons died very young.

Andrew Johnson: How's this: Gave his innaugural VP address stinking -- and I mean blind, hiccuping, sloshing -- drunk. It was all downhill from there. Couldn't get along with anyone, but he gets a bad rap for taking on the Radical Republicans in Congress, who wanted, contra Lincoln, to be as vindictive as possible to the South. In return for following -- or trying to follow -- Lincoln's basic plan, Johnson was impeached.

U.S. Grant: Breathtakingly corrupt. Grant's fans insist he didn't know what was going on, which is a grave insult to a very intelligent but bitter man who always knew exactly what as going on. In Gertrude Stein's appraisal, our nation's finest prose stylist. First Lady Julia Dent Grant had as crossed eyes as you could imagine. Eventually ruined by a speculator friend of his son's, which was karmic justice for his and his administration's involvement in Jim Fisk's and Jay Gould's scheming to corner the gold market, which ruined many people. And karma was something Grant definitely understood. Also wished to colonise blacks; in his case, to Santo Domingo in the Carribbean. As President, knowingly allowed the enhanced genocide policy of the American Army under Kill 'Em All Sherman and "The only good Indian is a dead Indian" Sheridan. A great general and an incredibly intelligent man but also the worst, as in the most corrupt, President of his century. Why? Bitterness. After journeying to England and seeing what Her Majesty had bestowed on Albion's saviors (estates, titles, fabulous riches), Grant, who never had much money, was envious of the Wellingtons, et al, and incensed that the American Republic didnt reward its savior in the same way. Thus the anything goes policies his administration tailor-made for crooks, and his close personal proximity to those crooks. Grant's relations with Gould (possibly the most repellant plutocrat of the 19th century) and Fisk make Bush's with Ken Lay look remote and on the level.

Rutherford B. Hayes: Or, as his friends called him, "Ratherfraud." Beneficiary of the stolen election of 1876. Dull-witted and bovine, had really nothing going for him except that he personally could pass the smell test, which, after Grant, was really saying something. But then what good's a smell test when you steal the election, anyhow. His opponent, Samuel Tilden, ran on a reform platform: one can see how democracy had to be thwarted to stop that. Like many beneficiaries of stolen elections, he promised to be a healer. And he was if "healing" means pretty much allowing the corruption that had become institutionalised in the government and the Republican Party to go on as it was. His wife, Lemonade Lucy, was a typically wingnutty teetotaler.

James A. Garfield: Some Republicans by Garfield's time had come to the conclusion that reform was needed; such Repugs were opposed by fans of the status quo, called "Stalwarts". Garfield and many others played to each side. Garfield himself had been in on the Credit Mobilier scandal, so he was very much of the wink-nudge Gimme A Kickback side, but he'd also somehow convinced at least one person that he was a reformer. That one person, named Charles Guiteau, mananged to shoot Garfield in the small of the back (perhaps aiming for the ass?). Garfield soon died. Garfield was considered good-looking for some reason, and was very intelligent: it was said that he could write with one hand in latin while the other wrote greek. Can you imagine? Well, no, you can't, because you're used to mouth-breathing dullards like W, or cornball dipshits like Reagan.

Chester Alan Arthur: A dandy, a ladies' man, an establishment Dude who flashed the bling-bling and frequented the plutocrat/kleptocrat clubs filled with cigar smoke and the smell of brandy. Arthur was a made man in the mafia of a Republican Party that ruled at the time. Yet as another accidental President, actually discovered principles upon getting the highest office. Pushed through some reforms, mostly watered-down but a definite improvement. An underrated President. Could have been, and "should" have been, far worse.

Grover Cleveland: Our first tubby President: his jowls easily passing Ted Kennedy territory into the elevated realm of the Gamorrean Guards. Was honest by the day's standard, which means that when he stole your wallet, he might have only taken the cash while leaving you your credit cards. Fathered a bastard in his early partying years while in Victorian Buffalo's Studio 54 district, for which he was given much grief. Bachelor, later married while President. Was a Democrat, but also a proto-wingnut, which explains his appeal at the time. Campaigned for Free Trade, advocated the "liberation" of Hawaii, a regime change of the tyrant Queen's rule in favor of the dour missionaries and utterly vile sugar barons that desired "freedom". Happily got his way. The fat bastard.

And that's it. Next eleven at request. By the way, the same caveats apply to this post as to the other: I didnt look up anything, all this is off the top of my head, and if I made any mistakes they are absolutely your fault.

The Shorter Charles Krauthammer

The Truth About Torture:

Torture is a moral abomination, and is rarely a useful tool, but I'm sanguine about it anyway -- ticking time bombs! -- so bring out the rubber hoses and fuck you, John McCain

Friday, November 25, 2005

RETARDO's Skeptic's Guide To American Presidents

Brad DeLong recently solicited comments on the subject of Worst President Ever. Many contributed to the thread, including yours truly.

Which gave me an idea:

George Washington: His success was a tribute not so much to charisma as to will. Not very literate. Conceited. A grossly overrated general who was quick to punish anyone who dared point out the fact, or who highlighted any instance of his incompetence; or, worse, he often did his best to punish those more talented than he. Vindictive. Childless, he was highly susceptible to fawning, conniving young men like, say, a Mr. A. Hamilton. Spent huge amounts of time doing things like picking out official silverware: an overriding concern with the pomp and circumstance of his office. Had a stupendous temper. A proto-propertarian. Still, without his strength of character (not at all the same as charm), the revolution wouldn't have held together.

John Adams: Crusty, curmudgeonly, utterly charmless except at a distance. Gifted in the art of invective (Hamilton, for instance, was "that Creole bastard"). Given to grudges, which is understandable, for he was betrayed by his own party and mercilessly pillioried by the other side. Married very well. Was that rarest of birds: a moralist who actually applied his moral condemnations equally to himself. Envious. Backed the Alien & Sedition Acts, a fascist bit of law the text of which is probably embroideried on John Ashcroft's pillows. Made up for it slightly by sabotaging the undeclared war with France via a peace pact, an accomplishment he was so proud of he desired it be put on his tombstone.

Thomas Jefferson: Our finest political philosopher and rhetorician was a terrible president, which figures, because the man was a walking contradiction his whole life. Polymath. Notorious abuser of animals. Foppish and given to expensive tastes, an irony for a man acknowledged as the Ur-democrat. Provided the ideological kernel that John C. Calhoun later developed with tragic consequences. Attacked the institutions and personages of the federal judiciary like no one else before or since. Perhaps the biggest patron of press hacks. Incredibly thin-skinned. Bought Louisiana unconstitutionally then commenced to rule it as a satrapy. If he'd had his way, "constructive treason" would be law instead of the thankfully much more difficult to prove concept of treason we now follow -- this, while knowingly employing as commanding General of the Army a man, James Wilkinson, who was known to be in the pay of Spain, and therefore a traitor no matter what the concept. Humorless. Given to advanced-at-the-time but ultimately super-crackpot ideas on race. And... it's not that he had an affair, but that he fucked a slave, someone structurally unable to resist his advances. More creepy is that Sally Hemmings was almost certainly Jefferson's late wife's half-sister. Vulnerable to the chickenhawk charge had he been much more of a war-monger.

James Madison: Tiny and balding, he was like Mickey Kaus without all that face pollution baggage. A stridently sober personality. Not at all the fan of democracy that Jefferson was. Still, it was widely known that he, and Monroe who followed him, were in Jefferson's bag. Presided over the first war that we lost. Shy, he married late but well, thanks to ladies' man Aaron Burr's fixing him up with sweet Dolley of pastries fame. Lost the White House to enemy torches.

James Monroe: Nothing happened! Soldier; along with Burr and Hamilton, actually served in the Revolution. Not very bright in comparison to the other Founders but then look who the others are. His First Lady actually wore a crown and sat on a dais, bought tons of expensive furniture for the refurbished White House. Almost duelled that hothead A. Hamilton, whom ignorant fools like, say, Josh "Tacitus" Trevino wrongly believe was a picked-on party in these matters just because he finally got the bullet he'd teased for so long.

John Quincy Adams: An Untimely Man, his high-mindedness was ill-suited for his age. Cold, severe personality. Indefatiguable, but it was futile. He never recovered from his "election", which stank of corrupt dealings since he was actually chosen not by the people but by the House of Representatives. Quid pro quo, rival Henry Clay dropped out of the running to give the Presidency to Adams. Adams promptly made him Secretary of State. But no one liked him. It's too bad. Enhanced the office of Ex-Presidency, which others were subsequently to soil (until Jimmy Carter). Joined the House and served until his death, where he did good work defeating pro-slavery procedures that had previously stopped debate on the issue. Specifically anti-jingo. See also here.

Andrew Jackson: Extended democracy, a wholly good thing. But aside that it's all crap. Was the worst sort of populist: jingoistic, racist, anti-intellectual. Which should sound familiar. Unlike his modern admirers, however, Jackson was personally courageous. Indeed, he was one tough son of a bitch; he lived with a bullet in his body for a long time, and fought several duels. An accidental adulterer, the political attacks over which were greatly distressing to his goose of a wife, Rachael, whose divorce from her first husband was never made legal. Jackson blamed his political enemies for Rachael's subsequent death. The most hotheaded of Presidents until our time. Declared war on the National Bank with disasterous consequences. Defied a Supreme Court decision in sending the Cherokees west, setting a precedent for "legal" and "democratic" ethnic cleansing, to the delight of our latter day Milosevices and Sharons. Jefferson said of Jackson, while the latter was in Florida personally slaying Indians and scheming against Spain, "Now he really is crazy." How true. Invented the spoils system. Thanks a lot for that one.

Martin Van Buren: Mr. Smooth. Our first modern President in the sense that he was a politician first and foremost. Not a philosopher, warrior, statesman. Inherited from Jackson the consequences of the National Bank fiasco; panic of 1837 ensued. A failure as President, but probably the best diplomat to hold the office excepting Jefferson, who cut a very fine cloth indeed. On the other hand, Van Buren was our finest presidential blogger.

William Henry Harrison: Didn't live long enough to fuck-up anything, but judging by his campaign -- which was the sleaziest, structurally, in history at the time -- he would have. Famed Indian killer. The bastard.

John Tyler: Much maligned. Inherited office at Harrison's death. To the horror of his party, he promptly decided to have principles -- never mind that they weren't all that great principles to have. Was a widower at taking office, later as President marrying a much much younger woman who might be the only First Lady a modern red-blodded American young man would consider a hottie. Seriously. At the new bride's prompting, however, "Hail To the Chief" was made the official song of White House pageantry -- a tune which might have been metal-up-your-ass at the time, but is, like, totally shit-sounding now.

James Knox Polk: Our first wingnut President. Yes, he was a Democrat, but it doesn't matter. Was a bloody imperialist, a conquistador; connived a war with Mexico to steal land that now Mexicans, sensibly, are filling back up. But yes he was a wingnut. A protege of Jackson. Attended famed Transylvania College in Kentucky, giving us a clue to where and when the Vlad of Wingnuts rampaged the Bluegrass meadows: the genesis of an ideological virus. Polk married, naturally, a religious nut who forbade alcohol in the White House. Counter-intuitively, for a wingnut he really was a hard worker: he didn't just talk about it then go on vacation. He died of exhaustion soon after leaving office.

Want more? Next eleven at request. And of course this is all off the top of my head, so if there are errors, well.. it's your fault somehow.

Toilet Clog

"Blogjam". Whatever. The last I saw so much shit packed together, it was time to reach for the plunger:

#24 Clifford May at November 24, 2005 12:28 PM

I'm at parents house in Florida (where else?) wearing shorts and a T-shirt that says in English and Arabic: "Who's Your Baghdaddy?"

At least, I think that's what it says in Arabic. For all I know it could say: "I'm an infidel, kick me." How would I know?

#26 Glenn Reynolds at November 24, 2005 12:30 PM

I'm wearing an Eddie Bauer nanotex shirt that's supposed to be practically stain proof thanks to (sort of) nanotechnology. So far, I've had several spills (I'm a messy cook), and they all wiped right off. Hooray for science.

Just stop. Just. Shut. Up.

See Also Catch.

Update: Kevin nicely sent a link my way. Which reminds me: I know he's been having problems with "Count Chocula" lately, so I offer this link as a small but sincere means of moral support.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Genocide Day!

By all means eat what the Pilgrims ate, but I somewhat advise not following all the way through with their example. So kindly refrain from murdering those who fed you today.

Anyway, here are some festive funnies:

TBOGG's Pajama's Media Blogjam

Escape From The Cornhole

Ted Barlow's Lightbulb Joke Archive

Roy's "Linkage" Parody

Seb's "Thank You America" Video Montage

Ship of Fools

The B-Squad

Xmas Security Threats

Lingerie Media

Super Wingnuts

Snotglass's Best


Michael Berube as "David Brooks"

Norbizness Does The Corner

Everybody's Gay?

Keyboard Kommando Komix presents "The Nightmare Before Fitzmas"


Nicotrol for Right Wing Blog Addicts

Save Toby

American Crusade Trading Cards

A Joke


Chimp or Kong?

Sooo Stupid

Terri Schaivo's iPod

TBOGG's Interview

Blogatrol: Booster Shot

"Babes" (source)

The "Two Cow Explanation", and Brad DeLong's version

Keyboard Kommando Komix presents: "Wingnuts of Hazzard"

Bush or Burns?

Calling Spades Spades

G.I. Joe Veterans For Truth

"Soviet" Wrestlers Mourn Reagan

Pick Your Conservative Asshole Reponse

Night of the Living Cornholes


The Britney Spears Guide to Semiconductor Physics

Anyway, that's it for now. I feel too fat to blog much.

If you do decide to murder those who've fed you, remember to follow the excellent example of Glenn Reynolds and blame the victims

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Don't Blog While Wasted sound advice, but then I dont listen well.

I'm drunk as snot, but I offer this bit of kulturkrit.

David Lynch's Dune is a masterpiece in its own way.

Yeah, I know, the story itself is sexist and, like most 50s and 60s potboilers, homophobic in the extreme. But in spite of that, Herbert's story is golden.

If I remember right, Herbert studied anth for many years, and spent time among the Navajo. At any rate, his universe is more involved than anything Lucas made -- by which I mean, Herbert's story is the product of one consciousness, where Lucas and Roddenberry's story are the collective product of many.

But then Herbert's vision becomes a collective one -- and therefore muddled; the intrinsic difference between written fiction and film -- in Lynch's movie. And still it passes muster.

Yes yes, it was universally panned whne it was new; I can remember it being termed a bomb almost immediately. And small wonder: I still have the paper passed out at the theatre by the studio, listing definitions and references. How did they expect you to reference such a thing in the dark?

As the Sci-Fi channel demonstrated, Dune is too much, too complicated for a two hour movie, but absolutely perfect for a mini-series.

Still, I prefer Lynch's version. Because of the casting, for one. Observe Kenneth McMillan's spittle fly as Baron Harkonnen: he is evil. Max von Sydow, as you'd expect, is a subtle Dr Kines. Jurgen Prochnow is intense, as he was in Das Boot, but also suitably regal. Sting is an excellent evil prancer (he said that, after readin the script in Mexico City, he resolved to act as gay as possible). Jose Ferrer actually makes for a strong emperor. There's a young Virginia Madsen as the Princess... Brad Douriff is an evil genius-weasel.. the casting's as good as it gets.

The dialogue, of course, is all set-up and therefore wooden. Poor Everett McGill, who is so expressive as a jibberish-talking (thanks to Desmond Morris Anthony Burgess) caveman in Quest For Fire is rendered a cornball waxwork here.

But then, the art direction and music is awesome in the Lynch movie. Seriously. Deco-Nouveau-Gilded Age motifs. The Royal Family -- especially Prochnow -- is consciously modeled, I believe, on the Last Romanovs: furs, beards, gold, epaulets, oppulence. The details are sublime: one of the emperor's marshals has a golden nose, a prosthesis; not so much an homage to Tycho Brahe, I don't think, as indicative of David Lynch's weird gifts for detail.

To this day I can't believe that Toto -- awful awful Toto of "Africa" and "Hold The Line" infamy -- is responsible for the most of the soundtrack. But then they aren't responsible is the main theme, "Prophecy", which instead was done by ambient genius Brian Eno. Still, the Toto songs aren't obnoxious buttrock, as you'd expect for a movie made in 1983. They hold up.

The pity, of course, is that Lynch's movie constricts the story at the expense of character development. An example is Duncan Idaho: you barely know him, yet in the book he's much more important. And this is too bad not just because it costs the dramatic arc, but because the late Richard Jordan was a great actor cheated of screentime.

As an exercise to determine the superiority (including the model sandworms which are so much better than their digital versions) of the Lynch movie, imagine the Sci-Fi Channel mini-series version's story development combined with Lynch's Dune's art direction. It's a great vision, which is what Lynch probably had (The Elephant Man is my favorite movie of all time and therefore I'm inclined to give Lynch all benefit of the doubt; plus, I once knew the hottest of hot Danish blonde who adored Lynch) in mind if only he had the format available to do justice to the whole story.

Anyway, I'm elegantly wasted and dealing with some personal problems so I'll probably erase this soon, and sorry if I've wasted your time. At any rate, it was fun to write.

And no, I'm not a fucking nerd like Steven den Beste. Still, especially when I'm wasted, I like Great Theme movies. Don't ask me to talk about Tarkovsky's Solaris, which Zizek even admits holds great possibilities for Theory. It's just that this shit makes my gears turn, and that's what I need at certain times.

***Added: another example of Lynch's movie's superior art direction. Look at the Saudukaur. In Lynch's movie they are scary and impersonal: he adopts Lucas's trick of dehumanising them; they are storm troopers. Then look at the Sci-Fi Channel's version, which resemble an especially goofy sort of Venetian Pilsbury Doughboys. There's no way they could be scary. Lynch's nasties, however, are. Or, at least, they are ominous, as the story demands. On the other hand, observe how the Sci-Fi channel's movie develops the backstory of the Bene Jeserit priesthood, like in the novel. A needful thing that Lynch's movie is lacking. And it shows who is kin to who, a very necessary plot development. Would that I could combine the two.

** Reposted at vermonster's request. I'm still pretty ashamed of it, but have decided that it wasn't all bad, considering how drunk I was. But I did get something wrong, which I've corrected now: it was Anthony Burgess (!) who did the dialogue for Quest For Fire, though the admirable (if occasionally silly) Desmond Morris was involved too: he "choreographed" it.


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Saturday, November 19, 2005

David Gelernter's Revisionism

I thought Gelernter was sacked by the Times, but apparently not. Anyway, as is his wont, Gelernter plays cut-and-paste with history so as to give a legitimacy to his batshit reactionary political stances.

This time, Gelernter is peeved that some annoying atheist has legally contested the "Under God" part of the Pledge of Allegiance as unconstitutional. Even worse for Gelernter, the courts have so far agreed. Now the fun begins.

Gelernter knows that it's futile to challenge the ruling on strict legal grounds (that pesky wall between church and state -- damn you Thomas Jefferson!). He also knows that arguing for "Under God" won't pass a historical test vis-a-vis the Pledge itself. So he doesn't go that route, therefore avoiding mention of the fact that a) the Pledge was originally contrived by a socialist and b) that the words "Under God" were added decades later, and only then because of the McCarthyite/HUAC climate of the time.

So what's Gelernter to do? Oh, genius! He makes it where those who wish to remove the unconstitional phrase are fighting the ghost of Abraham Lincoln! Shorter Gelernter: Those who wish to alter the pledge to make it legal actually hate Abraham Lincoln. Very clever.

But it just won't do. This is where it gets funny: to combat the founding legal principles of one infidel President (Jefferson), he has to misrepresent our other famous infidel President (Lincoln):

By delivering the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln built a sacred shrine out of words on the most important battlefield in American history — a small shrine, of wonderful beauty, that reminds us why an earlier generation of Northerners fought, bled and died to win the Civil War: So that "this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom."

Lincoln added the words "under God" at the last minute. They don't appear in drafts of the speech prepared beforehand. But he included them in copies he made afterward, and historians believe he said them in the speech. Lincoln had grown steadily more religious as he grew older. As his political and spiritual genius flowered, he re-conceived America as a nation where high ideals were not just words on parchment, they were marching orders, principles to fight and die for.

"It is my earnest desire to know the will of Providence," he said, "and if I can learn what it is, I will do it." He wished to be a "humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this, his almost chosen people." He knew well that Americans are far from perfect. But he believed in their duty to make themselves better.

When we invite our children to say the pledge, including "one nation, under God," we are asking them to repeat Lincoln's phrase, and perhaps even to feel his presence. Children who were reared as atheists, whose parents are wiser than Lincoln on the subject of God, are free to keep quiet.

And even if children should feel coerced by peer pressure (as the lawsuits have argued) to say that terrible G-word, they won't be magically converted into Christians or Jews or God-believers of any stripe. In fact, children who don't believe in God might still like to be reminded how Lincoln saw this nation, might like to test drive the worldview of the man who saved the Union and set it on the path to justice.

If that's unconstitutional, we have made a serious mistake somewhere along the line. If we have any guts, we will go back and put it right.

Take that, heirs of Jefferson! You hate Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, and America. What are you, pro-slavery?!?!

I love that "Lincoln had grown steadily more religious" line: the Great Emancipator as Jesus Freak. But, well, that's not really the truth.

Was Abraham Lincoln a Christian? Umm, no. He was something more subtle: like the ancient Greeks -- and, for that matter, like Jesus Christ himself -- Lincoln was a fatalist. I'll quote several passages from David Herbert Donald's Lincoln:

From his earliest days Lincoln had a sense that his destiny was controlled by some larger force, some Higher Power. Turning away from orthodox Christianity because of the emotional excess of frontier evangelism, he found it easier as a young man to accept what was called the Doctrine of Necessity, whish he defined as the belief "that the human mind is impelled to action, or held in rest by some power, over which the mind itself has no control."

"[Lincoln] disagreed with his father over religion. In 1823, Thomas Lincoln and his wife joined the Pigeon Baptist Church as did his daughter Sarah soon afterward; but Abraham made no move toward membership. Indeed, as his stepmother said, "Abe had no particular religion -- didn't think of these questions at this time, if he ever did." That difference appears to have led to the sharpest words he ever recieved from his father. Though Abraham did not belong to the church, he attended the sermons, and afterward, climbing on a tree stump, he would rally the other children around him and repeat -- or sometimes parody -- the minister's words.

Now obviously to be a successful politician in such a Red State millieu, Lincoln couldn't continue mocking religion in public. More from Donald:

Though New Salem had no churches, it was an intensely religious community... There were no Catholic or Jewish residents, but Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians were constantly engaged in hairsplitting doctrinal constroversies. A young Yale Divinity School graduate who came to teach in this central Illinois region found that he "was plunged without warning and preparation into a sea of sectarian rivalries, which was kept in constant agitation." Inevitably these relgious wars attracted Lincoln's attention, though, like his father he was reluctant to accept any creed. His parents' Baptist belief in predestination was deeply ingrained in his mind, though he felt more comfortable in thinking that events were foreordained by immutable natural laws than by personal deity. To his cool, analytical mind the ideas of the evangelists were less persuasive than those of the few local freethinkers, who gathered about the cracker barrel and, when there were no customers in sight, engaged in speculation about the literal accuracy of the Bible, the Virgin Birth, the divinity of Christ, and the possibility of miracles.
These contversations introduced Lincoln to Thomas Paine's Age of Reason, that classic rationalist attack on revealed relgion, and he probably also read some of Constantin de Volney's Ruins of Civilizations, which argued that morality was the only essential demonstrable part of religion. Discussion of such issues was heresy in this rigidly orthodox frontier community, and inevitably reports of Lincoln's participation in these conversations leaked out. So damaging was the allegation that he was "an open scoffer at Christianity" that in his race for Congress in 1846 he was obliged to issue a formal denial..

It's true that there is one special occasion where there is evidence that Lincoln personally waffled in his freethinking ways. But it, according to Mary Todd Lincoln, was well into the President's first term, when Willie, their third child, became their second to die at a tragically young age. Before Willie's death, Abraham had "never" considered religion. This is understandable, yet Lincoln still didn't give much indication of a conversion after Willie's passing: Gelernter lets this slip when he admits that that God reference in the Gettysburg Address was tacked-on at the last minute. It makes sense to think it was probably at the urging of an advisor. At any rate, why would it be tacked-on if the urge to Praise Jebus weighed so heavily on Lincoln's mind?

Anyway, I've saved the best for last. This is Gore Vidal, whose Lincoln was approvingly vetted by Professor Donald (quotes are from William Herndon, Lincoln's law partner and early biographer):

It will come as a terrible shock to many of those who have been twice-born in the capacious bosom of Jesus to learn that Lincoln not only rejected Christianity but wrote a small book called "Infidelity" (meaning lack of faith in God). Lincoln "read his manuscript to Samuel Hill, his employer (who) said to Lincoln: 'Lincoln, let me see your manuscript.' Lincoln handed it to him. Hill ran it in a tin-plate stove, and so the book went up in flames. Lincoln in that production attempted to show that the Bible was false: first, on grounds of reason, and, second, because it was self-contradictory; that Jesus was not the son of God any more than any man." Later, in the presidency, pressure was brought on Lincoln to start putting God in his speeches. At the beginning, he did so in the vague sense of the Almighty or heaven. Later, there is a good deal of God in the speeches but no mention of Jesus. At heart, Lincoln was a fatalist, a materialist of the school of Democritus and Lucretius.

So, clue to David Gelernter: Abraham Lincoln has nothing to do with the unconstitutionality of God reference in the pledge, but even if he did, he's not the religious nutjob that you claim -- or that you yourself are, for that matter.

See also Elton Beard's Gelernter summation.

**Edit: Eep, I'm a fuck-up. Corrected EP in favor of GA.

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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Out With It!

Okay, I've been promising a comprehensive follow-up to the original Wingnut All-Stars post for a long time now.

And I know that I've not follow-up on things I've promised in the past. But I've really been working on this, and it's coming along.

Gavin M. of Sadly, No! has generously offered his photoshop skillz for the project, while Seb of the same excellent blog helpfully re-posted some of his long-lost archives so that I have extra material with which to trash Steven den Beste.

A word or two for the tone I aim to use for WAS: I hope to make it light. Mostly. It will very much be "the politics of personal destruction;" it is indeed intended to humiliate, to "crush the infamous" as one of the original satirists perfectly put it. But I hope it will not be hateful, with a few exceptions.

I have my own personal wingnut bete noire, and he will be dealt with harshly, as he so richly deserves. There are also a select few wingnuts whom I find personally despicable; whose styles, personalities, lack of integrity, and especially disgusting politics bring out my urge to be wrathful. Put it this way, while Jonah Goldberg is a fool, a moron, and a devious fuckwit about most things, he's at least semi-honest about what he is and where he stands. Even bullshit, as a wise man said, has its own integrity. Then there are people like Michael J. Totten, Tacitus, Norman Podhoretz, Max Boot and Glenn Reynolds who have no excuse and, I believe, should be given absolutely no quarter. Fair warning.

Now for format. The information I've collected is massive: it's impossible to put it in one post. So what I'll do is write a relatively brief "team profile", then do an entry on an individual. Hopefully, when I'm done, everything will be collected in an orderly way with quicklinks on the righthand side of the blog.

Anyway, this is how I've got it laid out so far, hopefully the themes and connections will be obvious:

George W. Bush: Commissioner
George H.W. Bush: Former Commissioner and HOF member
Ronald Reagan: Former Commissioner, Innercircle HOFer and Patron Saint
Richard Nixon: Former Commissioner, Innercircle HOFer and Patron Saint
Augusto Pinochet: Former Chief, Wingnut Latin American Operations
Henry Kissinger: Innercircle HOFer; Architect, Wingnut Moral Operations
Paul Wolfowitz: Title uncertain
Donald Rumsfeld: Title uncertain

The teams and players:


David Frum & Danielle Crittenden
Mark Steyn
Rachel Marsden
Charles Krauthammer

Justin Darr

Joe Scarborough

Kaye Grogan
Jim Robinson & Freepers
Mike Krempasky, Leon, Bird Dog & the Red recovering alcoholic jugband

Jeff Gannon
Armstrong Williams

Brian Cherry
John J. Miller

L. Brent Bozell
Bernard Goldberg
Tim Graham
Michael Medved

Victor Davis Hanson
Paul Johnson

Tucker Carlson
Sebastian Holsclaw
Ed Morrissey
Gerard van der Leun
George F. Will

Peter Beinart
Richard Cohen
Mickey Kaus

Gregg Easterbrook
Schulz, Glassman & Tech Central Station creeps

Pat Buchanan
Werner Cohn
Alan Dershowitz
Bill O'Reilly

Robert Novak
Phyllis Schlafly

Charlie Daniels
Lee Greenwood
Toby Keith
Ted Nugent

William Bennett
Rush Limbaugh

Mark H. Creech
James Dobson
Jerry Falwell
Billy Graham
Sun Myung Moon
Fred Phelps
Pat Robertson
Jimmy Swaggart
Cal Thomas
Donald Wildmon

David Brooks
Rod Dreher

Vox Day
Newt Gingrich
Dennis Prager

Kenneth Baer
Jonathan Chait
Kevin Drum
Michael Kinsley
Nicholas Kristof
Sebastian Mallaby

Dinesh D'Souza
Michelle Malkin
Charles Murray
Steve Sailer
Ruth Shalit

Elliott Abrams
Midge Dector
John Podhoretz
Norman Podhoretz

Stephen Green
Meghan Cox Gurdon
James Lileks
Cathy Seipp
The Yoest Infection

Brit Hume
Sean Hannity
Michael Reagan

Rebecca Hagelin
Katherine Harris
Resa Laru Kirkland
Marie Jon'
Pamela S
Gabrielle Reilly
Debbie Schlussel
Heather Wilhelm


Glenn Beck
Tony Blankley
David Gelernter
Frank Luntz
James Taranto

Howard Finemen
Howard Kurtz
Judith Fucking Miller
Adam Nagourney
Nedra Pickler

Jonah Goldberg

Ann Althouse
Hugh Hewitt
Andrew McCarthy

Judson Cox
Glenn Reynolds

Charles Johnson

Kim du Toit
Jeff Jacoby
Michael Savage

Niall Ferguson
Christopher Hitchens
Andrew Sullivan

David Adesnik & Oxblog
Joe Sabia
Adam Yoshida

John Derbyshire
Matt Drudge

David Horowitz
Roger L. Simon
Michael J. Totten

Jane Galt
Alan Greenspan
Amber Pawlik
Leonard Peikoff
Sara of Trying To Count

Conrad Black
Steve Forbes
Alan Keyes
Rupert Murdoch
Martin Peretz
Richard Mellon Sciafe

William F. Buckley, Jr.
Kathryn J. Lopez
William Donohue

Neal Boortz
Virginia Postrel
Thomas Sowell
John Stossel
Eugene Volokh & the Volokh Degeneracy

G. Gordon Liddy
Ben Stein

Virgin Ben Shapiro
Hans Zeiger
Ben Ferguson
Ross Douthat

Max Boot
Ann Coulter
Rich Lowry
Marshall Whitman

Gertrude Himmelfarb
Bill Kristol
Irving Kristol

Donald Luskin
Larry Kudlow
Grover Norquist

Steven den Beste
Tom Friedman
Michael Ledeen
Richard Perle
Daniel Pipes
Richard Pipes

Pat Boone
Kirk Cameron
Orson Scott Card
Mike Ditka
Dan Haggerty
Paul Harvey
Dennis Miller
Pat Sajak
Curt Schilling
Ron Silver
Ultimate Warrior

So, what do you think? Suggestions? Got any especially nice takedowns of these wingnuts bookmarked, or anything especially stupid/offensive that they've said you'd like to share? Is there anyone I've missed?

I do have several wingnuts I'm uncertain which team to assign to. Peggy Noonan is one.

I want to hear your opinion. And gracias for your patience.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Scorn Of A Propertarian

Looks like I've earned some attention. Protein Wisdom, which my Dictionary of Slang defines as "the tickly brain-fart a bukkake whore experiences after the final swallow", manages to rise to the level of heavy, witless sarcasm in replying to my previous post.

And... that's about all Goldstein can do before heading out to file his teeth or microwave puppies or whatever he does on a Friday night. So he turns it over to his peanut gallery. I'm in his debt.

Actually, some of the responses aren't too bad, and some of the garden variety wingnuts there seem to be all right. Then there are others. Propertarians who equate a uterus to a warehouse (an especially nice Freudian touch to that one), mini-Krauthammers who diagnose me with Bush Derangement Syndrome. Good stuff.

But I'm really intrigued by this Jeff Goldstein character. What an interesting wingnut! The photos on his blog's left column show him to resemble an early Cat Stevens as shot though heavy gauze. One is also barraged by reminders that he is very funny. "Dinner with Augusto." Bwahahaha stop, you're killin me!

Obviously this schtick can't get him too far, even in the affirmative-action wingnut circles in which he fellow-travels. So, what else? Ahh, he's Literature Wingnut! Don't have many of those!

Here he pilliages the oeuvre of the tragic Richard Brautigan. He starts with banal editing, chop-chop here and there, seemingly at random, sort of like how crazy people cut words from newspapers to manufacture ransom notes. Then he gets really wingnutty:

Part 8

Baudelaire Michael Moore went
to the insane asylum Cannes Film Festival
disguised as a psychiatrist rhino-hipped filmmaker.
He stayed there
for two months days
and when he left,
the insane asylum Cannes Film Festival
loved him so much
that it followed
him all over
California France,
and Baudelaire Michael Moore
laughed when the
insane asylum Cannes Film Festival
rubbed itself
up against his
leg like a
strange cat [...]
[smelling of cheese
and, of course,

Drying our eyes and applying an ice-pack to muscles bruised by such thigh-slapping comedy, let's read another:

Man Michael Moore

With his hat on
he's about five thirty-seven inches taller wider
than a taxicab.

And on and on. I don't know why poor Richard Brautigan's poetry has to be molested to state over and over the incisive observation that Michael Moore is fat, but I'm guessing it has something to do with comedy genius. After all, his site says so. Would that liberals could be so brilliant!

But that's not all. Goldstein's art will not be denied, and so he moves on to mangle more mainstream pieces. How clever. How postmodern. Here's some of the Goldstein-mutated Conan Doyle:

"Sherlock Holmes's quick eye took in my occupation, and he shook his head with a smile as he noticed my questioning glances. 'Beyond the obvious facts that he has at no time done manual labor, that he takes drink, that he is a West African-born diplomat of some stature, that he has been bribed by a ruthless and since deposed dictator, and that he has done a considerable amount of lying lately, I can deduce nothing else.'
"Mr. Kofi Annan started up in his chair, with his forefinger upon the paper, but his eyes upon my companion.
"'How, in the name of good-fortune, did you know all that, Mr. Holmes?' he asked.

Teehee. [Golf clap. A tumbleweed blows by.]

Now I'm no comedy genius, much less someone who would presume to equal Goldstein's spectacular level of smary, sophomoric "humor," but I am curious about this particular artform. It seems to me that the most powerful statement would be in manipulating a piece the least amount possible in order to slander a political rival. Perhaps true comedic genius, then, lies in the act of selecting the work to be mangled. I wonder...

"Star Spangled" Nails

You've got
some "Star-Spangled"
in your coffin, kid.
That's what
they've[Wingnuts' Dear Leader] done did for you,


December 30
At 1:30 in the morning a fart
smells like a marriage between
an avocado and a fish head.

IJeff Goldstein has to get out of bed to write this down without my glasses on.before changing his Underoos.

Well, that's already boring; and the truth is that I just don't have the heart to mangle any more of Brautigan's work. For Goldstein's readers, though: you might want to read "The Pill versus The Springhill Mine Disaster", and since I know you'll take it literally ("why, that's pro-life!"), you can read "Linear Farewell, Nonlinear Farewell" and recognise your own type figuring very prominently in it.

Maybe I can have more fun with Conan Doyle. Oh, here's one:

There was a thin, crisp, continuous patter from somewhere in the heart of the crawling bank. The cloud was within fifty yards of where we lay, and we glared at it, all three, uncertain what horror was about to break from the heart of it. I was at Holmes's elbow, and I glaced for an instant at his face. It was pale and exultant, his eyes shining brightly in the moonlight. But suddenly they started forward in a rigid, fixed stare, and his lips parted in amazement. At the same instant Lestrade gave a yell of terror and threw himself face downwards on the ground. I sprang to my feet, my inert hand grasping my pistol, my mind paralyzed by the dreadful shape which had sprung from the fog. [An Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler] it was, an enormous coal-black [Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler], but not such a [wingnut Rottweiler] as mortal eyes have ever seen. [Bile] burst from its open mouth, its eyes glowed with a smouldering glare, its muzzle and hackles and dewlap were outlined in flickering [spittle] Never in the delious dream of a disordered brain could anything more savage, more appalling, more hellish be conceived than that dark form and savage face which broke upon us out of the wall of fog.

With long bounds the huge black creature was leaping down the track, following hard upon the footsteps of [an innocent muslim]. So paralyzed were we by the apparition that we allowed him before we had recovered our nerve. Then Holmes and I both fired together, and the creature gave a hideous howl, which showed that one at least had hit him.

Well, maybe that was too obvious. Let's try another. How about the Adventure of the Five Orange Pips.

"The [information] which [Wilson] carried [is] obviously of vital importance to the person or persons in [wingnuttia]. I think it's quite clear that there must be more than one of them. A single man could not have carried out two [smears] in such a way as to deceive [the public]. There must have been several in it, and they must have been men of resource and determination. Their [war] they mean to have, be the [soldiers] of it who it may. In this way you see K.K.K. ceases to be the initials of [Karl, Krauthammer and Kristol], and becomes the badge of a society."

"But of what society?"

"Have you never --" said Sherlock Holmes, bending forward and sinking his voice --"have you never heard of the [Republican Party}?"

Ahh, that was satisfying. I could get the hang of this. How about one more? From the Adventure of the Three Gables*:

The door had flown open and a huge negro had burst into the room. He would have been a comic figure if he had not been terrific, for he was dressed in a very loud grey check suit with a flowing salmon-coloured tie. His broad face and flattened nose were thrust forward, as his sullen dark eyes, with a smouldering gleam of malice in them, turned from one of us to the other.
"Which of you genelmen is Masser [Goldstein]?" he asked.
[Goldstein] raised up his pipe with a languid smile.
"Oh! it's you, is it?" said our visitor, coming with an unpleasant, stealthy step round the angle of the table. "See here, Masser [Goldstein], you keep your hands out of other folks' business. Leave folks to manage their own affairs. Got that, Masser [Goldstein]?"
"Keep on talking," said [Goldstein]. "It's fine."
"Oh! fine is it?" growled the savage. "It won't be so damn fine if I have to trim you up a bit. I've handled your kind before now, and they didn't look fine when I was through with them. Look at that, Masser [Goldstein]!"
He swung a huge knotted lump of a fist under [Goldstein's] nose. [Goldstein] examined closely with an air of great interest. "Were you born so?" he asked. "Or did it come by degrees?"
"Well, I've given you fair warnin'," said he. "I've a friend that's interested out Harrow way -- you know what I'm meaning -- and he don't intend to have no buttin' in by you. Got that? You ain't the law, and I ain't the law either, and if you come in I'll be on hand also. Don't you forget it."
"I've wanted to meet you for some time," said [Goldstein]. "I won't ask you to sit down for I don't like the smell of you, but aren't you Steve Dixie, the bruiser?"
"That's my name, Masser [Goldstein], and you'll get put though it for sure if you give me any lip."
"It is certainly the last thing you need," said [Goldstein], staring at our visitor's hideous mouth. "But [why is it that you can call your own people "niggers" and I can't? Seems like a double standard to me.]"

Hey, this is kinda fun! But that's, alas, all I have time for. I didn't quite manage the side-splitting laff-riot that Goldstein apparently conjures at leisure, but then I have a bit of a tougher crowd.

Seriously, what I quoted was just a tiny sample of the ostentatious displays of stupidity Goldstein offers his readers. Go over there for a laugh or two -- at him not with him, naturally.

*For those curious at the racism in this story, it's alleged by several Sherlockian scholars that it, being of a later collection published as "The Case Files of Sherlock Holmes", was ghost-written. I'd like to think so. Certainly it's uniquely nasty in the Holmes canon -- the Adventure of the Yellow Face, for example, is fairly sensitive on racial matters, adjusted for its era.

PS: Message for Goldstein, since I'm pretty certain he'll be unhinged by this post (Roy's perfect takedown earned two apoplectic trackbacks from Goldstein): I have to leave for two weeks. You have that long to land some punches. Do what you will.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Propertarians and Alito

In blogistan especially, those who self-identify as libertarians do it, often, as a means of deception: "libertarianism" as a figleaf to cover their sincere wingnuttery. Essentially, they are Republicans. Glenn Reynolds is probably the most infamous example.

This matters more than perhaps it should (given the small number of genuine libertarians in the electorate) because true libertarianism is distinct from garden-variety wingnuttery in one important regard: real libertarians give a very healthy shit about civil liberties. This means that they are diehard First and Fourth Amendment advocates, a noble calling for sure. Which, in turn, makes them palatable as a political species; their civil libertarianism somewhat balancing their "principled" rotten qualities -- like, say, unhinged hatred of government social programs which alleviate, with varying degrees of success, the suffering of the poor.

In other words, real libertarians have some positive qualities. Or, maybe it's better to say that they had them. There are left libertarians -- heirs of Jefferson -- and there are right libertarians, heirs of Milton Friedman. (I am excluding such freaks as minarchists and Randroids from this critique.)

Libertarians' prime concern is the conservation of maximum personal freedom. This is what they all say. Yet in practice, there comes a point at which the personal freedom of maximum property rights conflicts with the personal freedom of maximum civil rights, where one has an either/or choice. Jeffersonian libertarians acknowledge these crises, admit that there is a contradiction. Then they make the right choice, for the preservation of civil liberties. Friedmanite libertarians, on the other hand, refuse to acknowledge at all the contradiction. Their usual refrain to this charge is, "freedom is freedom." They make a choice (while denying that they have done so), all right, and it is always the wrong one. I posit that the modern libertarian movement is almost wholly composed of Friedmanites, thus rendering the rhetorical and ideological three card monte that the likes of Reynolds plays as a superfluous concern; put another way, when libertarianism means what it has come to mean, authoritarian creeps like Reynolds might as well be given their precious libertarian label. They've earned it.

The apotheosis of Friedmanite libertarianism was the regime of Augusto Pinochet, the economic scheme of which was indeed invented by Chicago School-of-Miltie thugs. Pinochet, of course, was a tinpot dictator with all the accoutrements of thugacracy we've come to expect: a secret police/death squad team (DINA), a repeal of democracy, a negation of all civil libertarianism. But there was personal economic freedom! Thus those Friedmanite libertarians made a choice: property rights over civil rights. A Jeffersonian libertarian spits on regimes like Pinochet's, as well as its enablers and collaborators. Given a choice between governments that maximise property freedom but minimise civil liberty with goverments that maximise civil liberties but have a welfare state (like, say, The Netherlands), the Friedmanites always choose the former while the Jeffersonians choose the latter. Now, both say -- and they are not lying -- that they'd prefer a government that maximised both freedoms (again, Friedmanites confuse things -- for others and themselves -- when they insist these freedoms are indivisible), but when it's time to choose between one or the other, Friedmanites prefer authoritarianism (or worse) to any involvement with a welfare state. Property uber alles.

When did the libertarians split? Jefferson himself, though too old to do anything about it, saw the danger when he wrote to George Logan, "I hope we shall crush in its infancy the birth of the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already challenge our government to a trial by strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." Thus he saw the essential conflict: a doctrinaire "right to property" belief threatens, or can threaten, other rights humans hold. Also, "property uber alles", congealed into entities like corporations which function as proxies for wealthy individuals, can be difficult to combat. Jefferson understood power, thus his fear: power accrues to super-wealthy entities in a way that has no democratic check or balance. Nor is corporate power checked by sociological means: a corporation has, in the words of another 19th century wise man, "no soul to condemn nor posterior to kick." In the 1880s, of course, the recognition of a corporation as a legal person (effected by the cynical co-option of Reconstruction Amendments designed to give freed slaves their constitutional rights) was decided by an intensely corrupt Supreme Court: Mistah Jefferson, he dead. Viewed through a Jeffersonian prism, the ironies here are even more twisted and evil than what is obvious. The correction of the supreme error of Jeffersonian government -- legalised chattel slavery -- was almost immediately hijacked by agents of property, while the newly freed blacks were concomitantly doomed to another hundred years of fascistic oppression. The correction effectively bypassed those for whom it was designed, and given rather to the powers that Jefferson expressly and correctly feared as a menace to democracy. Property uber alles!

Jefferson's yeoman libertarianism was unimpeachably sincere; it had a purity. Aside the ugly hypocrisy inherent in its endorsement of slavery, it strongly presumed a concept of equality -- if only among white males -- which is ultimately the antithesis of Friedmanite libertarianism, the final stage of which is, inevitably, corporatism and authoritarianism. Alas, Jefferson's libertarianism was also impractical. He wanted little more than a postal system and a judiciary. This almost minarchist conceit is the only reason he is still revered by modern Friedmanites -- well, that and making war on the Tripoli pirates.

But the point is that he recognised a heirarchy of rights: it was he who tweaked the older, Whiggish refrain of "life, liberty, property" and euphemised, beautifully, the embarassing third word to something much better: "the pursuit of happiness". I posit that this alteration was not just for literary improvement, but an acknowledgement of the crassness of the "property uber alles" mindset; and an implicit affirmation that the unlimited right to property is less important than the rights to life and to liberty -- the rights to be secure in one's person or home, to free speech, etc.

In a sense, the split of Jeffersonian libertarians from the rest was as much structural as philosophical. Jefferson was agrarian; the new libertarians (not yet known by that name) were industrialist. Philosophically, well .. the Friedmanites come from this mindset; the Jeffersonians do not. The split was inevitable, which figures, because Friedmanite libertarians are indistinguishable -- aside the occasional semi-sincere remarks against the Drug War -- from far-right conservatives.

It's just that they come to a reactionary stance from a different direction, the belief that there is no heirarchy of rights. Thus broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause is for them a Stalinist action, while the right of the state to usurp ownership of a citizen's uterus is good government.

Yeah, the irony is flaming: the level plane of rights -- strictly eschewing any notions of hierarchy -- perversely, for modern libertarians, translates in practice to mean that the right to property actually trumps all others. For the modern libertarians, the right of wealthy advertisers (like Nike) to lie is inalienable, but the right to a free press is at the government's indulgence. The right to own guns shall not be infringed, but ownership of one's uterus is right out. Thus authoritarianism begins, and we walk the path to Santiago.

In three consecutive posts Roy Edroso has a good time with the libertarian embrace of the Alito nomination. In comments to one of these posts, this guy offers a terrific neologism for these libertarian agents of authoritarianism: propertarians. Excellent.

Clicking through Roy's links (Instayokel's position was no surprise), the best is Protein Wisdom's "libertarians for Alito" roundup, and this hunk of shit from the Randroid nitwits at Reason. Note how the Reason non-endorsement endorsement neatly balances Alito's appeal to the Christian Right with his defense of unlimited property rights. Julian Sanchez then does his level best to excuse Alito's egregious Fourth Amendment-raping. Even the "real" libertarians are Instapundit-weaselly in their endorsements of Full Cavity Search 10 Year Old Girls Alito.

So it doesn't really matter if people like Glenn Reynolds dishonestly use the "I'm a libertarian" shield against accusations of flaming wingnuttery. The "real" libertarians are virtually identitical to him. I have no doubt if they were considering a judge who unambiguously authorised death squads and insisted that abortion was thoroughly unconstitutional but also argued that that the commerce clause was a tool of constitution-shredding socialist devils, they'd argue for the judge's swift confirmation. They are all about property, and nothing else.

Fuck the propertarians.


Crooked Timber and Suburban Guerilla on Alito's animosity to the democratic organ of Congress. Yet another reason for propertarians to love him! Do recall that when it comes to a choice between democracy and property, for propertarians the former is found quickly disposable. The propertarian author of this cheery non-endorsement endorsement of Alito once told me that the democratically-elected President of Chile deserved to be overthrown in a military coup and replaced by Augusto Pinochet. But then he is an admirer of Timothy McVeigh, as well as of the authoritarian (but property-protecting) Chinese Consitution (he claims this post is a joke -- unlikely since he has otherwise never demonstrated a sense of humor).

CATO, to which the suspected-of-a-conscience libertarian digamma often defers, endorses Alito. But then it hires former Pinochet thugs, and has been cheerfully accepting of other authoritarian-creepy actions of the Bush regime. Ignore the bust of Jefferson on CATO's masthead: they are propertarians, too.