Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The Sign Of Four

Kevin handed this thing off to me, so here goes (and it'll be slightly different than the one I left in Roy's comments section):

Four jobs you've had in your life: Farmer, printing press assistant, welder, assembly line peon

Four movies you could watch over and over: Aguirre, The Wrath of God; Sling Blade; The Elephant Man; The Big Lebowski

Four places you've lived: BFE, AR; Memphis, TN; Newburgh, IN; Newark, DE

Four TV shows you love to watch: The Daily Show, The Simpsons, X-Files, Antiques Roadshow

Four websites you visit daily: Eschaton, alicublog, Sadly No!, TBOGG

Four of your favorite foods: BBQ, shrimp, fried chicken, kluski szlonski

Four places you'd rather be: Altair-4, Easter Island, never-neverland, deep inside Denise Richards.

Four cars you've owned: 66 Mustang Fastback, 70 AMC AMX, 87 Jeep Wrangler, 89 Jeep Wrangler.

Four toys from childhood you wish you could have back: Lawn Darts, Star Wars AT-AT, Legos before they got stupid and too specialised, Plastic bags.

Four exes I've missed: Rebecca, Alicja, Teagan, Elizabeth.

Four games I can't stop playing: Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty: United Offensive, GTA: Vice City (I just got San Andreas, ok), Return to Castle Wolfenstein.

Four things you hate to your core: republicans, wind, traffic, libertarians.

Four favorite trees: Liriodendron tulipifera (Tulip Poplar), Juglans nigra (Black Walnut), Taxodium ascendens (Bald Cypress), Prunus serotina (Black Cherry).

Four movies no one who knows you thought you'd like, and you never thought you'd like, but you liked a lot anyway: Places in the Heart, Dancer in the Dark, The Matrix, The Passion of the Christ.

The four most deplorable things related to movies: prices of Criterion dvds, Keanu Reeves, Jerry fucking Bruckheimer, that so many movies are based on comic books or "graphic novels".

Now I'd like to steal a few of Gavin's:

Four movies you'll never watch: Daredevil, Pearl Harbor, Narnia shit, divine secrets of the ya-ya sisterhood or whatever.

Four bands that people say are great, that actually basically aren't: Pavement, the Beastie Boys, Uncle Tupelo, and to go well back into the archive, Deep Purple.

Four foods that you like, that other people are appalled by: Pork rinds, squid jerky, venison, goose.

Four blogs that you don't understand why a lot of people read them: Instapundit, Kevin Fucking Drum, Andrewsullivan.com, Craptain Ed.

Four beautiful things: snowfall, images from Hubble, Vida Guerra's ass, the sound of a Rickenbacker 4003.

(Completed 2-17-06)

Look Sir, Randroids!

Johann Hari on the catastrophic influence of Ayn Rand on American life:

the Ayn Rand Institute sent out a stark press release. It was headed: “US Should Not Help Tsunami Victims.” Do not give cash. Do not send help. Leave them.

This was not a random piece of spite. It expressed – with admirable clarity – a philosophy that has influenced some of the most powerful people in the world. Ayn Rand is the Philosopher-Queen of America’s billionaire CEOs, a woman who wrote a book called ‘the Virtue of Selfishness’ and meant every word. Although she is virtually unknown here in Britain, Rand is the only novelist whose work has been read by every single US Congressman.

Poor startled Britons, no doubt involuntarily exhaling a mist of tea through their noses as they read of this horrible, horrible woman whose work is such a blight on our culture. Hari's right: Rand-worship isn't an Anglosphere thing, it's a strictly American thing; and here it is pervasive.

Oliver Stone didn't invent Gordon Gekko out of whole cloth. Gekko is a type. The Randroid type. And people like Gekko are legion in America.

Where the Bolsheviks collectivised everything and left the individual with nothing, Ayn demanded a mirror-image world where everything was privatised and nothing – no scrap of humanity – was left for the public sphere.

Also a mirror-image to Bolshevism (or, at least its calcified version) is the totalism of her "philosophy." Or probably a better word would be totalitarianism. For Randroids, it seems there's a "moral" way and an "immoral" way to do literally everything: to hold a toothbrush, to part one's hair, to read a book.

I won't quote more chunks of his piece, but read it. It's great.

A few points, though. Hari says that Randroid extremism is often indistinguishable from parody, then he references that Simpson's episode. The tell-tale sign of a Randroid is utter lack of humor -- so much so that, parodoxically, they sometimes come across quite hilariously. But they don't ever mean to. Obviously to anticipate the responses ("you must be joking," "that's just awful!") of normal humans hearing or reading her batty rants for the first time, Rand's trademark closing statement was "And I mean it." So, no, it wasn't a joke. For Randroids, there's never a joke; the world's a too serious place for all that.

It's been years since I've read the execrable Atlas Shrugged, but one thing I remember that not many people touch on is Rand's obvious contempt for what normal human beings call unspoiled nature. She considered undeveloped areas a waste (sort of like how we normal human beings view a toxic industrial dump). If she were alive today, Ayn Rand would write a Tech Central Station column.

Christopher Hitchens has been in the throes of a creepy flirtation with Randianism for a few years now.

The first time I'd ever read Rand's philosophy termed "crypto-fascist" was in -- brace yourself -- one of Ward Churchill's books. He's exactly right. Though Churchill's name is mud, I recommend his essay on the objectivist "Native American" fiction of Rand's friend Ruth Beebe Hill.

The blogosphere is polluted with Randroids, from the much-dread Megan McArdle (a.k.a. Jane Galt), who famously hoped that anti-war protestors would be beaten with 2x4s, to the atrocious proprietor of Atlas Shrugs, the Pamela Des Barres of LGF groupies; from several of the nutballs at Reason, to the annoying but not altogether useless, obsessive-compulsive self-quotation machine Arthur Silber.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Wingnut All-Star: Mark Steyn

Wingnut: Mark Steyn

Team: Wingnutiens

League: Douchebag

AKA: "Mark Whine", "Shitsteyn", "Canada's Leading Asshole"

Specialty: "Steynwalling"

Managed By: Conrad Black, William F. Buckley, Hilton Kramer, Sun Myung Moon

The Style Is The Ann:

Coulter, that is. After National Review fired Ann Coulter, its editors quickly made up for that slight to wingnuts by hiring Mark Steyn who, though less possessed of a prominent adam's apple than (m)Ann, had previously and has subsequently proven himself to be every bit "her" equal, or even clone, when it comes to sheer batshit-insane wingnuttery.

Steyn both mimics and competes with Coulter on three essential wingnut fronts: bigotry, dishonesty, and bellicosity. Which neatly explains his popularity with other wingnuts; they know what they like, and Steyn obliges them, shares with them their values, tosses them chunks of bloody meat, then dives into the feeding frenzy himself.

Steyn is so very macho. No, really, his columns are a constant reminder of his manly man weltanshauung. Kill 'em all and let George W. Bush sort them out. Mark Steyn has made a career out of basically saying, "I will not be out-jingoed."

Since the beginning of time, Mark Steyn has yearned for a Dear Leader who'd destroy stability in the Middle East, which, when you think about it, is just so since he also believes that "colonialism is progressive and enlightened." Steyn thinks America needs to invade many countries, not just Iraq. Confrontation, by which he means unprovoked war and the more murderous the better, is a wonderful thing, and those who disagree are appeasers, traitors, cowards.

And not just cowards, but something more intrinsically anti-masculine (and therefore offensive to his value system): wimps. From the safety of his New Hampshire igloo, Steyn feels comfortable in calling the likes of Nelson Mandela -- who has had such a sheltered life, don't you know -- a wus. But then the Canadian Mark Steyn's schtick has always been to present himself as not only more American than anyone else, but more Texan, too. He identifies with American force when it is sufficiently harsh for his tastes, but when said force is removed and at least presents a humane face (as well as having the merit of being comparatively more safe for the Americans actually fighting the battle), Steyn predictably finds it cowardly. No glory in that, according to war-lover Steyn, as he pushes the Patton dvd into the player once again, K-Y and cleanup towel at the ready.

Steyn delights in positioning himself so far to the right that he is even frequently compelled to attack the administration of his Dear Leader, Prosecutor of Holy War. When Bush apologized for Abu Ghraib abuses, Steyn was livid, formulating his argument, ironically, along the Stalinist lines that American abuses were not intrinsically evil but should be weighed according to a relativist's calculus, and that Bush's apology gave ammo to the enemy -- the enemy being, in typically lump sum, anti-war Westerners and terrorists.

Steyn wrote an angry missive of impatience when he thought that Bush's war was taking too long to develop. Replete with sneers at Hans Blix, Steyn scolded Bush for not having killed Saddam yet, a dilly-dallying delay that, Steyn argued, had the effect of emboldening Kim Jong-Il. Steyn is also more American than Alma Powell and Barbara Bush who, in his estimation, give aid and comfort to the enemy. Moreover, Steyn is more American than those Congressional Republicans whom he characterizes as Munich-minded (i.e. like Democrats) for having the temerity to demand of Dear Leader an exit strategy; the Wingnutien is compelled to construct a fatuous tautology with which to rebuke them.

But then Steyn has a sense of urgency that most people don't share, and even most wingnuts won't share openly. Steyn wants an overt Empire, and he wants it now, goddamn it. The Arabs sit on "our" oil, and don't like America, so it's time to take the whole region over. Diplomacy? Hah, it's a -- get this -- a pre-enlightenment, anti-democracy concept only suitable for umbrella-wielding appeasers.

Mark Steyn is a liar:

Again working from the Ann Coulter template of wingnut punditry, Steyn is devoted to dishonesty and deceit, pulls opinions from his ass and presents them as facts, has a remarkable gift for what Thomas Jefferson called "twistifications." Mark Steyn is bullshitter extraordinaire.

Tellingly, Steyn stole directly from Coulter's lie-smear of Max Cleland. In attempting to smear John Kerry, Steyn told lies about Bill Clinton. He's lied about the 2000 (s)election; he's lied about Richard Clarke, lied about Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson.

He's lied about Australia, and, more broadly, about those countries who've been on the right side of history. Lied about WWI, lied about Latin America. He lied about John Kerry when he didn't gratuitously smear him by conjecture. Steyn said of John Edwards that "his stump speech often sounds less like a political platform and more like a laundry list of class-action suits he'd like to get a piece of..."

Steyn is one of the first to use a Clinton Did It Too excuse, always a crowdpleaser among wingnuts whose cretinous idea of a "gotcha, liberals!" argumentative scenario gives delight to those of us who live in reality. Steyn also has a penchant for using false dichotomy as slander, with bonus wingnuttery employed in his (probably conscious) use of a dubious source. He lied about celebrities "controlling" the Democratic Party. He lied about the rationale for war. And so on.

The unintentionally comedic results of wingnut lies, and the exploded cigar in their face reaction to our laughter, is fairly typical but for Steyn quintessential. Steyn confidently argued that in Iraq, conditions were great, life was "jolly."

Steyn lied about Able Danger and the 9-11 Commission, then lied about his previous lies. But the real fun comes when he's so publicly busted that he can't "steynwall" his way around it. His reply is very much along the lines of "you're a big fat meanie for proving I'm a liar." In Steyn's world, facts are plainly evil.

The Bigot

Rounding out the unholy trinity of Coulterian traits is unhinged bigotry, and Steyn here, as before, doesn't disappoint.

Steyn seems to consider the rights of disabled people to be a crackpot concept, unworthy of anything more than a sneer, which the tragedy of 9-11 provided Steyn with the opportunity to utter:

"The post-Cold War interlude is over, an era of follies--OJ, Monica--and fatuities, a few of which Tuesday's horror stories cruelly underlined: employees in wheelchairs, whom Bob Dole's Americans with Disabilities Act and the various lobby groups insist can do anything able-bodied people can, found themselves trapped on the 80th floor, unable to get downstairs, unable even to do as others did and hurl themselves from the windows rather than be burned alive."

That must have been satisfying: hahaha stupid paraplegics, you can't walk! But speaking of 9-11, Steyn offered this chestnut of wingnut assholery in the service of pissing on the victims of flight 93 by presuming to know their politics:

The Flight 93 hijackers might have got lucky. They might have found themselves on a plane with...an Ivy League professor immersed in a long Harper's article about the iniquities of U.S. foreign policy. They might have found themselves travelling with Robert Daubenspeck of White River Junction, Vermont, who the day after September 11th wrote to his local newspaper advising against retaliation: "Someone, someday, must have the courage not to hit back but to look them in the eye and say, 'I love you.' " But, granted these exceptions, chances are any flight full of reasonably typical Americans would have found a group of people to do the right thing, to act as those on Flight 93 did. Everything that mattered after September 11th--Bush's moral clarity, the Afghan innovations and the crystal-clear understanding that this is an enemy beyond negotiation -- was present in the final moments of Flight 93.

Like many "anti-PC" conservatarians, Steyn comes to the correct conclusions about "hate speech," but for the wrong reasons. Actually, he just wants the freedom to be an asshole, so take that homofagfags!. And women? Steyn thinks they should get back to their rightful job of providing eye candy for rumpled, scuzzy hacks who fly on Conrad Black's dime. Certainly, argues Steyn, anyone born with a vagina (neatly providing a loophole for his friend "Ms" Coulter) has no place on the Judiciary Committee.

Poor people -- especially poor black people? Steyn here is on typically egregious, which is to say predictable, wingnut ground. Strom Thurmond was a heck of a guy, and not just because he was a racist demagogue, but also because he was such a horndog. Steyn was cheerfully condescending to the victims of Katrina, allowing that their plight wasn't their own fault (true), but due to the fact that "welfare culture" had eroded their "self-reliance and resourcefulness." In other words they were lazy; thus their plight, and it was all liberals' fault. Yeah, yeah. Anyway, even some other conservatives can see the depravity of Steyn's "loathsome dictum that one of the key measures of a society's health is how easily you can insulate yourself from its underclass."

To say that Steyn's ethnocentrism descends to outright racist/sectarian/tribalist bigotry is to make a grievous understatement. As is typical with wingnuts, Steyn's position is that Anglophones, usually white, (Protestant) Christian or Jewish, are Good and anyone else is at best stupid or, more often, simply concentrated Evil.

For an instance of mild bigotry, Steyn, pretending for the moment to admire democracy (and the strain shows), argues that only Anglophones are inherently democratic, with Latin Americans-Iberophones being too concerned with fruitbasket headgear and making tacos -- or something like that -- to be democratic. Perhaps if Steyn had mentioned that his beloved, (s)elected, election-stealing President was passably fluent in a patois approximating Spanish, one might have been slightly, briefly persuaded by his argument. But no matter.

It's when Steyn considers Muslims that the truly flaming bigotry is present. Steyn proudly circulated the "Muslims knew!" 9-11 conspiracy theory -- just as slimy, racist, and untrue as the "Jews knew!" theory from the other side. Seriously, Mark Steyn hates Muslims, and he's not gonna let you forget that they're responsible for, like, everything bad ever. Indeed Islam, according to the Wingnutien, is so stupid, so bereft of originality, so... well, evil that it can't even create anything newly evil on its own: "There's something pathetic about a culture [Islam] so ignorant even its pathologies have to be imported."

Steyn reserves almost as much venom for "multiculturalists," the term he uses for people who do not share his view that Muslims are by nature so subhuman that the best way to deal with them is, if not quite yet the gas chambers and coke ovens route, then by means of daisy cutters neatly dropped on their heads. Edward Said, for the signal crime of codifying Orientalism, earns special scorn. Meanwhile, Steyn nearly shit his self with schadenfreude when Robert Fisk was beaten by Afghanis: "Multiculturalist gets his due." That episode, of course, went over hugely with the wingnuts on the internets, no matter that Steyn, in his vulgar glee, had plagiarised Oscar Wilde in the process. But then it's just as well: wingnuts are the sort that think Oscar Wilde got what he deserved, too. Can't let Wilde's name ruin the party.


Interlarded into most of Steyn's anti-"multiculturalist" diatribes, as well as pointedly written for their own sweet sake, are various rants against Europe, which Steyn sees as decadent, appeasing, suicidal, its "radical secularism" inherently anti-semitic. The EU's politics, in Steyn's view, is only ever so slightly better than the worst "isms" of the 20th century. What a wicked EU indeed. Steyn is a classic reactionary; he detests Europe mostly because he thinks it's anti-American, when it's not. Actually, it's just not friendly to a stupid -- by which I mean, wingnutty -- sort of Americanism: the very sort of bellicose Americanism Steyn, the Canadian, espouses with the grace and fair-mindedness one has come to expect:

Europe, for one, hasn't caught up to September 11th: When it comes to Saddam, the Continentals are like the passengers on those first three planes; they're thinking he's a rational guy, just play it cool and he won't pull anything crazy. But America learned the hard way: it's the world of September 10th that's really crazy.

And what goes for Europe in general goes doubly for France in particular. According to Steyn, the situation in France has been worse than the one in Iraq for a while now. But that goes without saying since (brace yourself for the batshit libertarian argument) France is a "modified totalitarian" state. Because of its welfare program. All of which means that Steyn has an excuse to cheer when a disaster strikes and Frenchmen die. He's funny that way. He's an idiot and a fool.

Then there's Spain, which voted out its jingos, leading Steyn to declare that it had "dishonoured" its dead and that its democratic exercise was an instance of "mass self-gelding". Later, despite his previous, Olympian scorn, Steyn complained that Spaniards had been "let off lightly for their contemptible behaviour."

As when he feels his champion Dear Leader W might be going soft on him, Steyn sometimes feels obliged to pep-talk his Supremely Good Anglophone countries when he fears they may go the Spanish route. He stiffly warned Australia to back geopolitical wingnuttery Or Else, and attacked British society when he thought it was beginning to show an insufficiently stiff upper lip. And Steyn's home country of Canada is of course for him such a lost, anti-wingnut cause that he's obliged to flagrantly lie about its condition.

The Pavlovian Zhdanovian

One of Steyn's schticks is that of culture critic, which means that, as a wingnut, he's obliged to write glowingly about art that he thinks serves the purposes of The Wingnut Politburo, and to slag the art that he thinks does not conform to the "proper" ideology. As such, he's pretty predictable. Which is to say, reflexive:

Paul McCartney's music will live forever but John Lennon's sucks, the lyrics of which Steyn finds especially repugnant. Rent is no good, and neither is Elton John. Harold Pinter is an incoherent ideologue, meanwhile the only good thing about Star Wars Episode III is that it's bound to be disappointing to liberals. The real entertainment in Steyn's wingnut kulturkrit comes when he adopts the triumphiantly self-pitying tone of the oppressed in defending his atrocious tastes. You see, according to Steyn it's an act of pure radicalism and rebellion to opine that liking Perry Como is cool, while liking Mick Jagger (or the Violent Femmes) is boring and stodgy in comparison.

The Cassandra Wingnuts Deserve

According to myth, Cassandra was cursed with the ability to accurately forsee the future but condemned to be always be ignored. Steyn is a suitable Cassandra figure for the Bizzaro world of wingnuts: he gets from them plenty of laudatory attention for his predictions which are laughably wrong at best.

Get a load of these:

I find it easier to be optimistic about the futures of Iraq and Pakistan than, say, Holland or Denmark.

And Gannon cites a Washington Times piece in which Mark Steyn predicted that the Kerry campaign would drop Wilson in the future. (For what it's worth, Steyn also predicted -- incorrectly -- that Wilson would be disinvited from the Salon cruise.)

I bet my assistant a hundred bucks that the sniper would turn out to be a Middle Eastern terrorist, and that bet's looking better every day.

...of whom the leading practitioner, who'd been preaching for months that Bush could not possibly win fewer than 40 states and 378 seats in the electoral college, was Steyn. The results, whatever they finally are, seem certain to leave Mark Steyn looking an even bigger fool than the predestinarians.

...just as Steyn looked into his crystal ball in April 2003 and forecast that "In a year's time, Iraq will be, at a bare minimum, the least badly-governed state in the Arab World and, at best, pleasant, civilized and thriving."

The sight of Saddam looking like a department-store Santa who has been sleeping off a bender in a sewer for a week will deal a fatal blow to the Ba'athist thugs' ability to intimidate local populations. The insurgency will continue for a few weeks yet, but it will peter out, like the dictator, not with a bang but a whimper.

Obviously, Vegas should pay attention to Steyn and adjust the lines against his predictions. Not that Steyn would necessarily disagree:

In a column subtitled "One Man, One Gloat," Mark Steyn wrote, "I got a lot of things wrong these last three years, but looking at events in the Middle East this last week ... I got the big stuff right."

Right. Like Weapons of Mass Destruction.


For wingnuts, science, like art, must conform to the views of the Republican Politburo. Steyn obliges, joins in the crackpot conservative crusade against fact.

Terry Schiavo? Oh yes, for wingnuts Mark Steyn is again a "must-read"! "Intelligent Design"? Why yes, thank you, because Steyn decides "that hyper-rationalism {meaning, evolution] is highly irrational." Global warming? Well its protestors shiver in the snow, so it can't be true. And for good measure, in Steyn's expert view Jared Diamond's historical study of the effects of human-caused environmental degradation doesn't apply, because the societies Diamond studied were not America.


Part of being a wingnut all-star is working well with fellow wingnuts, praising wingnut saints, coordinating attacks, staying loyal, affirming all that is hack-like. Steyn here too is a model.

Steyn's often so eager to spread Republican talking points that he doesn't even bother to put hardly any of the original text into his own words. Not that wingnuts care much. Anyway, Steyn's enthusiasm usually pays wingnutty dividends. Need a dishonest historical argument against "The Liberal Media"? Steyn's there. Worried that too much attention will be paid to your fundie, domestic terrorist friends? Steyn's there again, with a helping-handful of lies. Need to mischaracterise the opposition? Steyn's there yet again, this time with convenient amnesia. Need someone to spew wingnut lies on your fledgling radio show? Steyn will oblige. Need the politically dangerous Katrina fallout to be deprecated as much as possible? Ta da. Got a crackpot scheme to bilk venture capitalists out of a few million and need a MSM presence to help cover your ass? Oh yes. On the other hand, to his credit he stops short of endorsing his fellow wingnuts' calls for an anti-flagburning law.

When it comes to bestowing a jaw-spraining blowjob on Republican Presidents, past and present, Mark's always there, mouth round and ready, kneepads to the floor. Steyn so rigs the game for George W. Bush that, whatever he does, it's perfect; indeed, Steyn came to so identify with Bush that he, in his typically vainglorious, self-aggrandizing way, threatened to quit writing if Bush lost the 2004 election.

Of Reagan, Steyn was an idolatrous fanboy -- even to the point of insisting that the late President's "success" was due to -- and not in spite of -- his ostentatious stupidity. And Nixon even merits something of a Steyn encomium, though naturally this has to be more subtle than Reagan tributes. Steyn's reaction to the news of the identification of Deep Throat was to mourn that if it weren't for people like Felt (who was malicious) and Rose Marie Woods (who was careless), Nixon might have gotten away with it all. In the same piece, however, he brightened at the thought that liberals too would be disappointed in how the Felt saga turned out, though obviously for different reasons.

Steyn is also loyal to his managers; in the case of Conrad Black, Steyn's loyalty goes above and beyond the call of duty. When Black abruptly stops walking, Steyn's head is in danger of completely disappearing. In reponse to teasing letters he recieved asking if the disgraced Black's scandal had caused Steyn to forget his benefactor, Steyn replied emphatically to the contrary, insisting on Black's innocence, but admitting, in a rare moment of candor, that he is "a lazy hack and the fine print of corporate governance isn't really my bag." Actually, many things aren't really his bag, but he gets points for narrow honesty there. But then sometimes he's honest in other ways, too. By which I mean, honest in a half-assed and accidental way.

Supreme Winguttery

Steyn lays out his credentials for Wingnut MVP, by my figuring, with the following calculus. As mentioned above, he advocates Imperialism Now, and none of that Soft Empire shit either. Such a call can only come from someone who, deep-down, despises democracy. And Steyn does:

By comparison, consider Haiti. John Kerry, in quite the most stupid observation of his campaign, insisted that Bush should have sent in the troops to Haiti to prop up President Aristide - or "Father Aristide", as Kerry likes to call him, defrocking notwithstanding - because the Holy Father was "democratically elected". After a fashion. But so what? Charles Taylor, the recently retired head wacko of Liberia, was also democratically elected. The tinpot thugs of the world have got very good at being just democratic enough to pass muster: they kill a lot of people, they hold an election for the benefit of the IMF, and then, when the international observers are gone, they pick up the machetes and resume where they left off. The problem in Haiti is that the necessary conditions for civil society don't exist. Fetishising Aristide's "election" appeals to Kerry's reflexive belief that government is the be all and end all. But it isn't.

This is a classic wingnut trick, but few can pull it off with the insane panache that Steyn here displays. The comparison of Aristide's election with Pat Robertson's friend Charles Taylor's "election", in the service of denigrating the concept of legitimate democracy, is pure wingnut gold. But of course real democracy does suck for wingnuts: a functioning democracy free of thieves and crooks would not have elected George W. Bush, and they know it.

Far from being (small d) democrats, wingnuts like Steyn rather admire the anti-democratic policies of other systems; admire them so much a sort of penis-envy of the harshest propertarianism shines through: "I'd say the Chinese are doing it the right way round: historically, economic liberty has preceded political liberty." This is of course hedged with the familiar argument that the former begets the latter, but the point, I submit, is in Steyn's subtle emphasis; property rights for him obviously trump other rights, which is the assumption of a classic corporatist wingnut, of which the most famous and problematic example is our current ruler, Mark Steyn's Dear Leader.

Note: Minor style edits 2-17-06

For more on Steyn, see also: Mark Steyn Watch; Bouphonia; Lawrence Auster, whose views, needless to say, I don't wholly endorse; Glaivester; Glaivester As Time Traveller; TBOGG; TBOGG , again; Pandagon; James Wolcott; and Glenn Greenwald (II) (III).

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Sports For Sports' Sake

WBC's credibility undermined without Cuba:

So the U.S.'s long-running feud with Cuba has now polluted the forthcoming World Baseball Classic.

Recently, the U.S. Treasury Department announced that Cuba would not be allowed to participate in the inaugural WBC, which is baseball's answer to soccer's World Cup and will take place next March. Since a number of the games of the first WBC will be played on U.S. soil, the Treasury Department is within its rights to bar Cuba as part of the U.S.'s ongoing — and pointless — embargo against the island nation. It's still a travesty of the first order.


Cuban dictator Fidel Castro has evolved into a menace to freedom, human rights and the ideals of democracy. That much is incontrovertible. However, the U.S. is gallingly selective in its outrage toward oppressive regimes. In the recent past, we've propped up and otherwise provided aid and comfort to genocidal abominations like Augusto Pinochet in Chile, General Suharto in Indonesia and George Papadopoulos in Greece, to name only a handful. It's only when these tin-pot monsters run afoul of corporate interests that our leaders summon up their righteous indignation.

So don't make the mistake of thinking that this is some noble stand for human rights on the part of the U.S.; rather, it's a punitive measure toward a regime whose economic policies don't benefit the American private sector.

Dayn Perry's a damn good writer, and a friend. The whole column's great, especially as he describes the WBC's Cuba-snub as a pandering exercise to the Cuban-American crowd in Florida, most of whom would have prefered (this is my characterisation, not Dayn's) it that Fulgencio Batista had stayed in power.

Slugs For The Historical Arcade

Bush Approves Presidential Dollar Coins:

WASHINGTON - New dollar coins featuring all 37 of the nation's dead presidents will begin rolling out of the U.S. Mint in 2007 under a bill
President Bush signed into law on Thursday.


The front of the new dollar coins will depict former presidents, but not those who are living or have been dead for less than two years; the backs of the coins will show the Statue of Liberty.

Four coins a year will be issued, beginning in 2007, in the presidents' order of service. The treasury secretary will have authority over the designs.

Fuck that. Statue of Liberty? Wait a minute, that was our planet. And you blew it up! Goddamn you to hell!

But seriously, the Statue of Liberty obverse sucks. I propose something different, along the lines of the 50 State Quarters: a unique design for each President, according to that President's record and/or particular traits.

Think "political cartoon":

George Washington: An open portmanteau displaying wooden teeth, a tri-corner hat, and a long needle to lance those nasty carbuncles

John Adams: A printing press in a jail cell

Thomas Jefferson: Same portrait as the other side, but this one showing fangs; fitting, for our Janus President

James Madison: White House aflame

James Monroe: Wagging Finger pointed in a face labeled "Europe"

John Quincy Adams: The President addressing a sleeping crowd

Andrew Jackson: Like a Coat of Arms, duelling pistols over a field of Seminole and Cherokee carcasses

Martin Van Buren: Magician's hat, with hand pulling out of it an uncommonly stupid-looking rabbit labeled "Panic of 1837"

William Henry Harrison: Tombstone surrounded by empty cider barrels

John Tyler: A beanpole

James Knox Polk: Conquistador's helmet

Zachary Taylor: Iced milk and cherries (his last meal)

Millard Fillmore: That stupid fucking duck cartoon

Franklin Pierce: Whiskey bottle

James Buchanan: Buchanan as train engineer, leering stupidly to the side as the train approaches a cliff

Abraham Lincoln: Ticket stub to Ford's Theatre

Andrew Johnson: Map of United States sewn together haphazardly and incompetently

U.S. Grant: Plutocrats frolicking in an ocean of money

Rutherford B. Hayes: Plain label obverse stating "counterfeit"

James A. Garfield: Back of a man holding books in each hand, taped on his back is a crude sign, a la "kick me" in grammar schools, "shoot me"

Chester Arthur: Top hat, cravat, cane

Grover Cleveland: President devouring a turkey leg as farmers starve in the background

Benjamin Harrison: Resume' blank save for one word, "grandaddy"

Grover Cleveland: A huge crosses of gold in a Golgotha scene with the condemned being a farmer, a union worker and an empty space labeled "Asia" which was crucified later; in the Roman roles are cigar-chomping plutocrats

William McKinley: Marines torturing a Filipino

Theodore Roosevelt: Roosevelt as Yosemite Sam, guns blazing, stomping on the globe

William Howard Taft: Banquet Table

Woodrow Wilson: Schoolteacher lecturing stupid and unruly students (labeled as European countries) and well-behaved students (labeled as Latin American countries)

Warren Harding: "If the closet's rocking, don't bother knocking"

Calvin Coolidge: Coolidge genuflecting before a smog-belching factory

Herbert Hoover: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse; plutocracy, social darwinism, laissez-faire, dust bowl

Franklin Delano Roosevelt: A Japanese-American family behind barbed-wire

Harry Truman: Mushroom cloud

Dwight Eisenhower: The President playing putt-putt, each hole labeled as a country the CIA fucked with in the 50s

John F. Kennedy: "Welcome To Dallas" street sign

Lyndon Johnson: Southeast Asian Village bombed by a huge foam cowboy hat

Richard Nixon: Document labeled as "Constitution" floating in a toilet

Gerald Ford: The President is reading an upside-down newspaper

Jimmy Carter: Handing the Taliban a bag of peanuts

Ronald Reagan: The President presents a cake to a grinning mullah, while a leering Contra, busy doggy-style-raping a nun, pulls dollars out of smiling Ronnie's pocket

George H. W. Bush: A Wonderbread wrapper

Bill Clinton: Kneepads and pizza boxes

George W. Bush: You do it in comments!

Friday, December 23, 2005


I have to move out of my apartment by the end of January, which means that, starting soon after Christmas, I won't be blogging for a short while.

This move is sucky by a huge order of magnitude; it is not my choice to move, but what must be done. Sob Sob.

Anyway, here are some pics for the record.

And more books, plus some, and more, still more, from the balcony, down the stairs, from the kitchen, the stairtop, and out, to a shit-eating grin.

I'm moving back to the farm shack (don't expect any pictures of it), but once I'm set back up, I'll start blogging again regularly.

The Psychiatrist's Shorter Charles Krauthammer

Impeachment Nonsense (Krauthammer's Version):

Bush might have commited a political error; but that doesn't mean it's a crime, so you people who wish to conserve the Fourth Amendment should just shut the fuck up.

Impeachment Nonsense (Krauthammer's Neurotic Subconscious Version):

I shall project my own partisan hackery onto others!

Plus: Bonus New Krauthammer twist: "Clinton did it, too" is no longer wingnut SOP. Krauthammer now argues to the effect that because Clinton didn't do it, Clinton's actions have no bearing. New Formula: If Clinton did it, it's an excuse for Bush; if Clinton didn't do it, it's still an excuse for Bush.

***Previous Editions of TPSCK here: I, II.

RETARDO Montalban, who formerly practiced psychiatry, is an op-ed columnist for elementropy.blogspot.com.

Thursday, December 22, 2005


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What Are The Linguistic Roots Of "We Told You So"?

Tresy argues that the wiretapping scandal may end up vindicating that America-hating scumbag antichrist... what's his name, Noam Chomsky. Noooooooo. That's unpossible! He's no good and, furthermore, he's never been any good!

I know this because of the sheer number, and variety, of people that told me so back in the heyday of "anti-idiotarianism". You know, from the well-meaning but cringingly naive, to the crackpot yuppie Glibertarian, to the perenially vile.

The last is hopeless, and the second probably so, but for the first, and the person he quotes, there's simply no excuse. Disagree with the "far" left as much as you like, but when you take batshit wingnuts seriously at the same time, you're setting yourself up for a fall. Now look at where we're at. Mostly because "serious" people were so damn certain that they just knew who the real nutjobs were, and by god, they were not in the White House.

I Don't Remember It That Way


The 90s were a delightfully wonky era when serious center-left political types spent lots of time debating lots of things.

Funny, I don't remember it that way. But then I suppose it depends on what he means by "center-left".

A lot of that "debate" was Clinton and the technocrat-centrists doing their triangulation schemes, the grassroots left busting them on it, and then the Clintonoids telling them to STFU.

Sorry, but a policy debate between the Washington Monthly crowd and the American Prospect bunch isn't much of a debate. Centrists aren't bad because they are centrists; they suck because they present themselves as the only "serious" liberals out there. And what this does is plays directly into the hands of the wingnuts, who are actually far-far-rightwing; the average centrist engages a wingnut, legitimates the wingnut position.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

The Very Definition Of Reactionary

Here's former Senator Gary Hart:

HREE WEEKS after I took the oath of office in the Senate in 1975, then-Majority Leader Mike Mansfield appointed me to a newly created committee — the Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations With Respect to Intelligence Activities, which soon came to be known as the "Church Committee," after its chairman, the late Sen. Frank Church of Idaho...

The Senate had impaneled the committee because of increasing reports of abuse of authority by the country's myriad intelligence agencies under the Nixon administration as well as previous administrations. For two years, the committee investigated broadly — the CIA, FBI, DIA and NSA were all within its purview — and finally, in 1976, it issued a series of recommendations designed to prevent future abuses.

The Church Committee -- and its mirror Committee in the House chaired by Congressman Otis Pike -- shone a disinfectant light on a lot of germy rot in the intelligence community, specifically in the relationship of it to the Executive Branch, which had resulted in crimes abroad (what LBJ called in a moment of candor "a goddamned Murder, Incorporated) and constitution-shredding activities at home (COINTELPRO).

Today, one has only to consider the behavior of the Bush administration during the Iraq war to appreciate how soon we forget, how little we learn and how pervasive is the tendency to violate civil and constitutional liberties in the name of war. Virtually all of the reforms recommended by the Church Committee — many of which were passed into law — have been evaded, ignored or violated in the name of the "war on terrorism."

It is often said that the first victim of war is the truth. In fact, the first victim of American war is the liberty of Americans.

During our investigations of intelligence abuse, we discovered that the government had engaged in widespread surveillance of a very large number of American citizens. Civil rights leaders were monitored. Antiwar groups were under surveillance. Domestic phones were tapped. Mail was opened. The FBI conducted warrantless "black bag" break-ins of private residences and offices. We wrote an entire report on warrantless electronic surveillance by the FBI — exactly what the NSA has now been authorized to do by the president.

One particularly egregious program, code-named COINTELPRO, went beyond the mere collection of intelligence on domestic groups to actually trying to "disrupt" or "neutralize" target groups. The excuse given by the FBI and others was, "We are at war, and we need to do everything we can to defeat our enemy." Sound familiar?

Indeed it does. I have tried in vain to find the quote over the years, but I distinctly remember almost immediately after 9-11 James Baker blaming the whole disaster on the Church Committee. No, he didn't say it by name, he just said something like "congressional actions in the late 70s that hamstrung our intelligence agencies." But I knew what he meant, knew that he spoke for the establishment, knew that "Here Come The Fascists", knew that this was the excuse for the roll-back that they'd always wanted.

The Establishment (which includes neocons and so-called "realists") always deeply resented that the crimes of Kennedy-Johnson-Nixon-Ford came to light in the Church and Pike Committees; moreover, they always deeply resented the post-Watergate reform atmosphere that allowed those Committees life. The Committees recommended, and started the re-institutionalisation of, congressional oversight -- something the Constitution had always required but the Establishment resisted, and resists.

You hear a lot, rightly, of the Bush penchant for roll-back -- rolling back the 70s reforms (die EPA, die), the New Deal (social security), the Progressive Era (19th Century Bush), and now the Bill of Rights itself (King George Dubya). It's all true; Bush politics is the quintessence of what it means to be reactionary.

The fact that the NSA is spying on American citizens (a violation of its charter) is the logical effect of this political disposition. The NSA, DIA and CIA were chartered for exclusively extranational work. No spying on Americans, which is what made these agencies distinct from the FBI. With the PATRIOT Act, as its enthusiasts told us, came down the walls between intelligence agencies. Everyone thought, "well, it's to cut out red tape bureaucracy, so that they may better share info." Actually, as we have now seen, it was to make an intelligence clusterfuck agency that could and did spy on anyone, anywhere, regardless of the target's citizenship or location, or the legality of the matter. One sees why the PATRIOT Act is so important to them.

Give them a war, and they will give you a tyrrany every time. Give them a perpetual war, a war on a concept, and you will have a permanent tyrrany.

Their behavior betrays a reaction against... liberty, law, the very idea of America. Osama bin Laden may "hate freedom;" but if he does, George Bush has definitely shown that he shares the sentiment.

Imperium (II)

Inspired by The Poor Man.

George W. Bush:

We used the process to monitor.

But also, this is a different era, different war. It's a war where people are changing phone numbers and phone calls, and they're moving quick. And we've got to be able to detect and prevent.

I keep saying that. But this is -- it requires quick action.

And without revealing the operating details of our program, I just want to assure the American people that, one, I've got the authority to do this

Gaius (Caligula):

Bear in mind that I can treat anyone exactly as I please.

Gaius (Caligula):

Can there really be an antidote against Caesar?

George Mason (Brackets by James Madison):

This government will set out [commence] a moderate aristocracy: it is at present impossible to forsee whether it will, in its operation, produce a monarchy, or a corrupt, tyrranical [oppressive] aristocracy: it will most probably vibrate some years between the two, and then terminate in the one or the other.

Tiberius (to the Senate):

So long as my wits do not fail me, you can count on the consistency of my behavior; but I should not like you to set the precedent of binding yourselves to approve a man's every action; for what if something happened to alter that man's character?

Darth Sidious:

Wipe them out. All of them.

George W. Bush:

The other question was...

QUESTION: Sir, the other...

BUSH: You asked a multiple-part question.

QUESTION: Yes, I did.

BUSH: Thank you for violating the multiple-part question rule.

I didn't know there was a law on that.


BUSH: There's not a law.


It's an executive order.


In this case, not monitored by the Congress.


Nor is there any administrative oversight.


Haha, motherfucker.


Dear me, I must be turning into a god.


At one particularly extravagant banquet [Gaius] burst into sudden peals of laughter. The Consuls, who were reclining next to him, politely asked whether they might share the joke. "What do you think?" he answered. "It occured to me that I have only to give one nod and both your throats will be cut on the spot!"

Haha, motherfucker.

(See also: The Roman Chickenhawk.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The Shorter Bill Kristol

Vital Presidential Power:

Quick! There's a ticking time bomb; what do you want, a decisive, action-hero President to spy on Americans, or a lumbering Congress to go though all that legal rigamarole, defering to an antique concept called "due process", after which it may or may not take the necessary steps to solve the problem?

The state of emergency-ticking time bomb argument is so cachet among reactionaries it's in danger of becoming careworn. Dr Kraphammer, of course, used it to wingnuts' glee in the torture debate. Kraphammer's argument was authoritatively disposed of by Michael Kinsley.

Kristol essentially uses the same argument to excuse the President's wiping of the First Ass with the constitution. (Also, he and Bush are using another argument we'd better get used to, the Lincoln Defense, which basically goes as follows: Congress acts too slowly, and I have sworn an oath to execute my office and defend the constitution. Of course in Lincoln's day, due to technological and logistical issues, Congress did act slowly -- much of its membership wasn't even in Washington when Lincoln had to make crucial decisions in a real [as opposed to a contrived, intentionally never-ending] state of emergency. In other words, context please. But the wingnuts don't care about that; they simply see precedent and therefore an excuse.)

Anyway, I never thought I'd approvingly link to Jim Henley, a libertarian who sees in the New Deal a scheme of soul-crushing oppression. Yet Henley is a legitimate libertarian, not a propertarian, and so approvingly link I will, because he's demonstrated how the ticking time bomb-state of emergency argument has been the philosophical -- if that's the right word -- core of Bush-neocon wingnuttery from the get-go.

See also Crooked Timber.

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The Shorter George F. Will

Why Didn't He Ask Congress?

While conservatives philosophically deplore excess executive power, the fact that we have a Republican president renders many of us aphasic and amnesiac with regard to conservative principles.

But, alternately, shorter GFW's terrific hedge:

Assuming that Congress and the courts would have gone along with Bush's domestic spying, he should have consulted them.

The People As Walter Sobchak?

Yeah, probably. The President as "Donny"? Definitely.


WALTER: You're out of your element [Dubya]!

WALTER: Shut the fuck up [Dubya]!

WALTER: [The constitution] does not start and stop at your convenience you miserable piece of shit.

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Despicable

Or, otherwise wingnutty.

Ace of Debased

American Speculum

The American Phalange

Anal Thouse

Anntichrist Coulter^^

Apparatchiks On Parade

Astroturfing For Lysenkoism

Assholes & Elbows In The Sausage of Wingnuttery

The Basement Dweller

Big Hollowheads

The Big Lie

Boortz' Snorts

Bull Shit

Canada's Leading Asshole**

Cathy's World of Self-Pity, Resentment, and Condescension

Clay-Eating White Trash


The Cornhole^

Crack Pipes

The Crank

Crapitalism Magazine

Crap 'N' Quaaludes

Crazy Davey Horowitz


Disinherit This Foundation

Dr. Inanity

Dredge, Purport

Donald Douchebag


Fake Titty Randroid Bimbot Committee

The Fascist Party

Finger Bang


Freepers, Creepers


Hate Air^^^


Kaus Hackula^^


La Loonan^^

Liberal In Name Only

Likely Teh 5uxx0r

Literary Gangsters

The Little Green American Bund

A Man Named Stacy

The Marble Douchebag

Max Jingo

Mikey Come Lately, the 10th rate Hitchens


Modern Eugenicist

Moonies R Us

The Money Pit

More Jew Than You

Moses Whine*

Murdoch's Minions



No-Clue America

Optimistically Titled

The Penguiness

The Pod's Putzes

Polluting The Airwaves

The Pompous Pornographer


Pork Swords Crossed

Praxis of Weasel

Propertarian Graffiti

Protein Jizzdom

Queen of the Randroids

Red Sonja of the Militia Set

The Runts

Rush Needs Flushed

Shut-In Von Clausewitz*

Silicone, Collagen and Stupidity

Slouching Towards Internment

Social Darwinism Wears Prada

Sour Krauthammer****

Spineless: Or, Marty Parrots Meir Kahane

Sully The Pooh^

Town & Country & Chickenhawkery

Triangulations 'R' Us

Troglodyte Gruntings

Trying To Count***

Useless Idiots

Virgin Ben*

The Virtual Gulch - "'A' is 'A'"

The Volokh Degeneracy


Yoest Infections

Zhdanovian Hacks

* - Stolen From TBOGG
** - Stolen From Harry Hutton
*** - Stolen From Sadly, No!
**** - Stolen From James Wolcott
^ - Stolen From Andrew Northrup
^^ - Stolen From Roger Ailes
^^^ - Stolen From Dr. Sebly F. No


Someone's really got her number:

Many of the e-mails I'm getting tonight go something like this one:

Turn your vibrator off before you post next time.


I can't believe the Prudely Den Mother even posted it. But then she complains that, well, Jonathan Chait's vagina was moistened too by Dear Leader's speech, so there.

Pbbbt. Jonathan Chait is the pundit version of Joe Lieberman. Of course he soaked his seat: he's a war "liberal" in thrall of a war-monger. Even if he has "misgivings". Fuck him.

Since I'm getting linked to on the subject of Chait, let me actually deal with his response to the speech.

There's a reason why Kathryn Lopez used Chait as an excuse for her own (obvious even to wingnuts) quivering reaction. Chait's post sucks:

I am not, to say the least, a fan of President Bush. But a portion of his speech tonight genuinely moved me and made me think more highly of him. It was the part where he addressed opponents of the Iraq War, said he understand [sic] their passion but asked that they think of the stakes of defeat now that the war had happened

"Happened"? That Chait interprets the speech with such a euphemism betrays his ..yes, desire (ritual throat-clearing in the first sentence notwithstanding) to come to an understanding with his fellow Crusader, The President.

This may be easy for me to say because I supported the war and oppose withdrawal.

Ya think?

But even Bush's prior pro-war speeches mostly struck me as simplistic, ugly and demagogic, reminders that I supported the war despite the administration rather than because of it.

But the cause was so righteous: the Saddam-bin laden connections, the WMD, the domino theory, it was all good!

Bush and his supporters... have made it so damn hard to support them on this war. It just got a little easier tonight.

If Bush had spit the gobbyiest hocker squarely in Chait's face during the speech, Chait would have still found a way to come to the same conclusion.

For more instances of Chait's suckitude, see here, here, here, here, and here.

Chait's function is to provide an "Even the liberal ______ says..." crutch for wingnuts to balance their bloodlusty opinions on.

Songs From The Wingnut Recovering Alcoholic Jug Band Setlist

Stupid ditties or stupidity?

Here's an old post from Atrios, where wingnut Yalies identify, through song, with Nazis.

And, a more recent post from Catch where Kevin is forced to roll his eyes and stiffle a gag at a purplely-themed wingnut song that has more in common with Barney than, say, Prince or Ritchie Blackmore.

Both links bring to mind an old column by Hitchens (back before he joined the Sith). He'd acquired the recreational songbook of the 77th Tactical Squadron of the USAF, stationed in England. How does one know that these were composed by wingnuts? The lyrics are proof. Bear in mind the following is Reagan-era wingnuttery, so lets see if it holds up as well as The Thompson Twins* and Wham! and other execrable 80s acts we're all trying to forget:

Phantom flyers in the sky,
Persian pukes prepare to die,
Rolling in with snake and nape,
Allah creates but we cremate.

North of Tehran, we did go,
When the FAC said from bellow,
'Hit my smoke, and you will find,
The Arabs there are in a bind.'

How about some cretinous, obscene chauvinism -- with a touch of necrophilia?

Down in Cunt Valley where Red Rivers flow,
Where cocksuckers flourish and whore mongers grow,
There lives a young maiden that I do adore
She's my Hot Fuckin' Cocksuckin' Mexican Whore

Oh Lupe, Oh Lupe, deadin her tomb,
While maggots crawl out of her decomposed womb.
But the smile on her face is a mute cry for more!!!
She's my Hot Fuckin' Cocksukin' Mexican Whore.

How about another:

I fucked a dead whore by the road side,
I knew right away she was dead.
The skin was all gone from her tummy,
The hair was all gone from her head.

After reminding us that these guys carry nukes, Hitchens quotes another bit of Freedom Rock, man, so let's crank it up:

Leaving the orbit our pits start to sweat
We'll asshole those fuckers and that's a sure bet
Burn all those Russkies and cover 'em with dirt
That's why we love sitting Victor Alert.

RHAW Scope is flashing, the floggers are closing
SAM's all around us, the GUN-DISH is HOSING
Flying so fast our hair is on fire
Killing those commies is our one desire.

When the shit fills up your flight suit
and you're feeling had, just remember that
Big mushroom cloud and then you won't feel SO BAD...

Wingnuts. When it comes to songcraft, they aren't just whistling "Dixie".

* I confess I have a soft spot for a couple Thompson Twins songs. Yeah, I know..

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Attempted Jury Sabotage: A President's Done It Before

The good news is, that President lost.

George Bush publicly declared Tom DeLay innocent of charges.

Of course, this is not only wrong, and perhaps criminal on its own merits, but it exposed Bush's own hypocrisy, as he'd been so steadfast in other instances to not comment on, say, the Fitzgerald probe. Watch Scotty catch righteous hell for the double-standard here. See also here and here.

I haven't read much more of the discussion, but as I said in comments to this post, a President Behaving Badly has done this sort of thing before. I haven't seen the historical precedent otherwise mentioned in any of these discussions*.

It's not taught that Thomas Jefferson was in many ways a terrible President, who effectively nullified everything he'd previously (and afterward) believed in. But he was, and he did.

Thomas Jefferson tried to railroad his ex-Vice President, Aaron Burr. Because he had a personal vendetta against Burr, Jefferson tended to involve himself into the proceedings. He publicly announced Burr's guilt, before the trial took place, just as Bush has publicly declared DeLay's innocence. Here is a fairly long but illuminating passage from Leonard Levy's Jefferson and Civil Liberties: The Darker Side:

In the closing years of his presidency, the Burr conspiracy and the embargo fixed Jefferson's attention. On both subjects he was insensible to constitutional limitations and to standards of fairness. Had Timothy Pickering masterminded the Administration's conduct of the Burr case, it would not have been remarkable. But Thomas Jefferson was responsible. The President of the United States, in a special message to Congress, gave the nation to understand that a citizen who just a few weeks earlier had been exonerated by a federal grand jury was guilty of high treason. On the basis of "little" that constitututed "formal and legal evidence," chiefly letters "often containing such a mixture of rumors, conjectures, and suspicions, as render it difficult to sift out the real facts," Jefferson announced that Burr, at the head of a military enterprise, "had sought the severance of the Union." He had planned to seize New Orleans, plunder its wealth and military supplies, use it to detach the West beyond the Alleghenies, and conquer Mexico. Burr's guilt, concluded Jefferson, "is placed beyond all question." Whether Burr's criminal enterprise was a filibuster against the territory of a friendly nation, or treason against the United States, or conspiracy to commit treason, is quite beside the point. John Adams made the point simply enough: "But if Burr's guilt is as clear as the Noon day Sun, the first Magistrate ought not to have pronounced it so before a Jury had tryed him."

Having convicted Burr before the bar of public opinion prior to his apprehension, the first Magistrate proceeded relentlessly to mobilize executive resources to prove the preconcieved guilt...

The object was not to secure justice by having Burr's guilt -- or innocence -- fairly determined, but to secure a conviction, no matter how, on the charge of high treason...

Of course, this is the only way Bush compares to Jefferson (though Christopher Hitchens has a fantasy to the contrary), and here was Jefferson at his absolute worst. Bush has declared DeLay innocent, Jefferson declared Burr guilty; Jefferson lost his case and his cause, let's hope Bush's fate is the same.

*Edit: I missed it the first time. Dwight Meredith recalls a different example.

George Bush Is Toast

Bush Asserts U.S. Is Winning Iraq War:

Democrats were scornful even before the president spoke. Regarding a turnover to Iraqi troops, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid said Bush "has to tell us how we're going to get there. The people on the ground said there is one battalion that can fight alone.

"The last speech he gave, he used the word `victory' 14 times. What does that mean?" asked Reid.

Arguing against withdrawal, Bush said that "to retreat before victory would be an act of recklessness and dishonor and I will not allow."

As he has in the past three weeks, Bush acknowledged that missteps and setbacks and took responsibility for ordering the invasion based on faulty intelligence.

But, he said, "Not only can we win the war in Iraq — we are winning the war in Iraq."

He said there were only two options for the United States — victory or defeat.

"And the need for victory is larger than any president or political party because the security of our people is in the balance. I do not expect you to support everything I do but tonight I have a request: Do not give in to despair and do not give up on this fight for freedom."

Shorter George Bush: It's easy to call my political rivals defeatists when I refuse to define "victory."

"Victory" is Bush's new "freedom," a word to be repeated endlessly, a stick of a purposely-undefined concept to bash non-wingnuts with.

Folks, this is a long established pattern, and it's not just a rhetorical exercise. An open-ended, ill- or non-defined concept is, ultimately, an excuse. "Good," "evil," "freedom," "war on terror," "victory" -- all these are not instances of moral clarity, as the wingnuts like to tell us, but of obfuscation. Because it enables and perpetuates the Calvinball desires of the Bushies. All these things can mean anything at any given time, so there's no accountability; the dividend it pays is that he's always right and non-wingnuts are always wrong.