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March 22, 2006

Comments

What Tristero said is that I really am too stupid to realize how stupid I am -- which is what Atrios' post argued by way of "explaining" me through a 1999 study. I found Tristero's eagerness to please Atrios by approvingly citing his assessment of me rather obnoxious and unfair; I further found it ungracious of him, given that he'd posted 40-50 comments on my site over the last couple weeks, and I don't recall being rude to him, or impeding him in any way from expressing his opinions.

If he finds me to be an idiot, why the desire to engage? Or, if he's the genius you claim he is, why is he hanging out poking us clearly inferior (both intellectually and, evidently, creatively, too) mouth breathers with a stick?

At any rate, you have much factually wrong here: first, I stopped reading tristero's comments on my site. I had been trying to stay out of arguments in the comments sections and concentrate on posts, so I simply skipped over them. Some of the threads have 400+ comments. So I can't read and respond to them all. That doesn't mean I didn't read his POST, which is what I took offense to. I did.

Second, you note the "civil war" comment but neglect to mention that my purpose, which I later explained quite clearly, was to frame it as an extension of the culture war -- particularly the war for the soul of classical liberalism, which I see as being under attack from what is a pernicious brand of collectivism that shows itself in identity politics, the "diversity" movement, and a particularly dangerous, epistemologically decentering form or multiculturalism inspired by Edward Said -- and I noted that I had no idea how it would happen, but that it could manifest itself in demographic shifts or certain states re-dedicating themselves to federalist legal principles and legal conservatism. Now, I realize it doesn't seem quite so shocking put that way, but there you have it, all neatly explained.

Third, if you don't believe the "Bush lied" meme -- and other idiotic repetitions have objectively hurt the war effort -- then you must believe that words carry no weight. The question becomes, if these mantras are so ineffective, why spend so much time repeating them? Do they effect public opinion, which then impacts poll numbers? If so, they are weakening the public will -- and this was a strategic aim of UBL. Read his own words. Denying that words have an effect (and here's an idea, ask a few soldiers -- plenty of them comment over at my site, or read some of the work Austin Bay has done on the subject) is a way to avoid responsibility. I have had no problem criticizing what I believe has been done wrong as far as military tactics and strategy in Iraq; why should those whose rhetoric had an impact on the way the Iraq narrative has been formed and peddled not be willing to take responsibility for their efforts?

Finally, if you're going to pimp my fiction, pick something that is at least finished. This or this might do.

Incidentally, I was asked by readers to expand my "about" section and post some of my fiction. I did this only very recently, though my site has been running since 2001. So I hardly think I go out of my way to "advertise" my artistic pretensions.

That's all. I'm glad you have a high opinion of Tristero. Me, I had no opinion of him whatever until he decided to ingratiate himself with Atrios by taking an unprovoked shot at me.

Not that any of this will matter to you. You have your story, told to you the way you wish to hear it, and you'll stick to it.

Now, I realize it doesn't seem quite so shocking put that way, but there you have it, all neatly explained.

Somehow, I don't think shocking was the word hilzoy would chose to describe the "civil war" comment. At least, not the way you seem to mean it...

But as for this:

Not that any of this will matter to you. You have your story, told to you the way you wish to hear it, and you'll stick to it.

Then what exactly are you doing posting here?

Josh -- it's his bid for the Karnak award, no doubt. Though since he divined that I think Tristero is -- a genius? I'm never sure how to use that word -- at any rate an extremely good composer, as good as anyone now living that I can think of offhand, without my so much as saying a word one way or the other, he has a better track record than a lot of Karnak contenders.

Maybe being epistemologically decentered helps. Who knows?

I still can't figure out why he kept dragging his poor dog into it, though.

Jeff, I love you man, you're like a drunk, 10 year old literary postmodernist. With the thin skin! I never knew such a thing existed. Maybe you could go on the road as the right-wing comedy Chomsky?

Hilzoy: I think we've got him on the ropes. Every Keyboard Kommando launched embarrassingly over the edge is a notch in our teepee, eh?

Hi Jeff,

I don't comment or read the comments at your place because of limited time, but look at protein wisdom fairly often, maybe 3+ times a week, and find informative and eloquent posts, plus some amusing stuff and even short stories from time to time. Thanks for dropping in. I imagine you run your household sort of like Pat Conroy's dad did, except you are a wimpy stay at home Mr. Mom instead of a dogface. Still, yelling at a toddler for not keeping their caulk bead consistently thick and straight is something I'd like to see. Do me a favor, give Gary Farber a call some time (he's in your neighborhood), take him out to Chuck E Cheese and immerse him in a quasi-Lileks experience. Then you can both write about it, which would be sweet, and maybe fix up the grout in the shower afterwards.

Sifu Tweety: I think he launched himself. (Maybe with a Hindrocket!)

Does that fact that UBL has also said his goal was to bankrupt the US by having it spend its treasure on fighting terrorism mean that Bush is hurting the war effort by doing what UBL said he wanted the US to do?
Just curious.

Careful, gents. You don't know where that face-slapping extremity has been.

you're like a drunk, 10 year old literary postmodernist

I want to frame this.

Steve: until I checked out Balloon Juice just now, I didn't know that Tim F. chose today to wonder why everyone is picking on Jeff. And until I read the comments, I didn't know the comment you're referring to. What with all those face-slapping genitalia, molested dogs, even me "pimping" his writing, there's a certain sameness to his metaphors. (Although, now that I think of it, pimping writing is sort of unlikely, in the same way as fellating Atrios' post.)

Unlikely in the same way, perhaps, but the latter seems more prone to result in splinters.

Steve: maybe he should slap the post with the pride of his manhood...

(OT: my second favorite sentence from a trashy novel: "The glory of his manhood filled the room."

Best of all time: "Her breasts glowed like amber melons."

Both remembered from over 20 years ago in college; when something makes you laugh that hard, it's hard to forget.)

A one hundred twelve "word"-- epistomological-- and I noted, sentence. A pernicious brand of a Goldstein record. Or something.

Second, you note the "civil war" comment but neglect to mention that my purpose, which I later explained quite clearly, was to frame it as an extension of the culture war -- particularly the war for the soul of classical liberalism, which I see as being under attack from what is a pernicious brand of collectivism that shows itself in identity politics, the "diversity" movement, and a particularly dangerous, epistemologically decentering form or multiculturalism inspired by Edward Said -- and I noted that I had no idea how it would happen, but that it could manifest itself in demographic shifts or certain states re-dedicating themselves to federalist legal principles and legal conservatism.

Oy.

I dunno, I don't think I've ever seen anything in the least interesting under Tristero's name at Digby's place, while Jeff (if I'm not confused) is considered by Plameologists to be one of the sharpest people in their ranks. And I would I think react rather negatively if I found out that someone commenting here in apparent good faith and civility had anything positive to say about a post comparing an ObWi PTB to people at "at the 12th percentile in tests of humor, grammar and logic".

pernicious brand of collectivism that shows itself in identity politics, the "diversity" movement, and a particularly dangerous, epistemologically decentering form or multiculturalism inspired by Edward Said

I love this shit. String together four standard-issue rightist catchphrases, add the hated Edward Said, and toss "epistemologically decentering" in there for pseudo-intellectual spice and Goldstein thinks he's got some grand theory of all that is wrong with left/liberal politics, "neatly explained." Like a college freshman who got drunk instead of doing the reading so he just throws some jargon in his essay hoping to bullshit the TA into a C-.

We are now into meta-irony territory. Remember: Tristero's sin was trying to "engage" Jeff on Protein Wisdom while bashing him on Hullabaloo. Jeff has been sort of engaging here, but on PW he says:

"Which puts me in mind of a joke:

Q: Why did hilzoy cross the road?

A: To piss on the chicken. BECAUSE ATRIOS COMMANDED IT!"

I feel so wounded. I think I'll have to take to my bed and sink into a decline.

That, and irony is dead.

Jeff (if I'm not confused) is considered by Plameologists to be one of the sharpest people in their ranks.

You're confused. That's Tim Maguire.

Allegedly bashing, I should say. As I said, I can't recall Tristero's post, but bashing isn't his style.

I've met Jeff a few times in meatworld. He's nice, funny. Likes to have a beer. He's a good guy.

Why the hate?

Robert: it's not hate; I honestly read his Tristero comment, with the stuff about the dog, and thought: he's lost it.

I for one welcome our new Atriot overlords.

Hi, Jeff. A few points.

"Second, you note the "civil war" comment but neglect to mention that my purpose, which I later explained quite clearly...."

She actually linked to it, so anyone who desires can read what you wrote.

"I realize it doesn't seem quite so shocking put that way...."

I'm sure you understand that "civil war" has connotations of, you know, mass death and tragic killing and suffering. If you don't want to arouse those images and ideas and connotations, best to choose another term; having chosen to use "civil war," complaining that people find it a strong term seems a bit questionable.

The "objectively hurting the war effort" stuff is fraught with a number of sub-points.

I'll try to take it one bit at a time.

"Third, if you don't believe the 'Bush lied' meme -- and other idiotic repetitions have objectively hurt the war effort -- then you must believe that words carry no weight."

First off all, I'm not sure what assumptions are and aren't contained in "objectively hurt[s] the war effort."

Does something so doing mean it should not be engaged in? Does it mean instead that it might be engaged in, but is serious enough that the value must be weighed against the alleged damage to the "war effort"? Does it mean something else?

I don't know. I'm hesitant to assume I understand what you mean, since I clearly don't understand a number of your points of view. If we could start by your explaining the above, that would be helpful.

But I'll observe that it definitely seems to beg several essential political questions, such as that the "war effort" (and of course I don't know for sure if you mean "the war in Iraq" or "the global war on terror," or if they are identical to you, or what, precisely, you have in mind) is something there should be no disagreement about. I'd say that there are a lot of separable issues under the heading of discussing what wars we are or aren't and should or shouldn't be engaged in, and what said war or wars should or shouldn't consist of and what is legitimate and acceptable to disagree about. What you find legitimate and illegitimate I don't know, though doubtless you've written about this a lot, so pointers to past posts by you in response are welcome; I apologize that I've not studied your oeuvre, just as likely you've not studied mine.

"The question becomes, if these mantras are so ineffective, why spend so much time repeating them?"

Similarly, I could pick out various common utterances by Bush supporters and refer to them as "mantras" and thus rhetorically ask why they are being said, but the answer to any of these questions would be that people utter various convention opinions for a variety of reasons, good and bad, from simple belief in their correctness and aptness to lack of imagination to that they reassure themselves to that they think them wise and insightful, and so forth and so on. Why a given person utters a given statement, pro or anti war, or a more complex view, is another question, and one apt, I think, though you may disagree, to find more useful to answer.

"Do they effect public opinion, which then impacts poll numbers?"

Affect. Presumably some people say things in hopes of convincing others, certainly. This is non-ideological. Again, if you are a priori suggesting that the only acceptable discourse is that which you agree which, which is that which you define as "supporting the war effort," then you're pretty much disallowing disagreement over fundamental political issues. Maybe your views are correct and all who disagree with you are wrong, but if you try to put disagreement with you, or the President, on the level that questioning or disagreeing with "the war effort" is unpatriotic, then you are being fundamentally anti-democratic. Would you have thundered against those who questioned Clinton's "war effort" in Bosnia and Kosovo? Perhaps so. Or perhaps times are different. I don't know. In any case, wherever I'm likely misunderstanding you, please do feel free to clarify and explain, if you feel inclined.

"If so, they are weakening the public will -- and this was a strategic aim of UBL. Read his own words."

And therefore anything that "weaken[s] the public will" is... what? I don't want to assume: why don't you explain what it is you are intending to imply here, please.

Obviously, saying something that bin Laden happens to agree with is, you know, allowable. He favors drinking water, I bet. But people can have views that he agrees with and still not be traitorously supporting him, you know. You know, right?

And, of course, as already mentioned, there are those who would argue that various Bush policies have helped bin Laden in various ways; that might be wrong, or right, but is it debatable?

"I have had no problem criticizing what I believe has been done wrong as far as military tactics and strategy in Iraq...."

So what about if people criticize the entire idea of a war in Iraq? Illegitimate? Okay?

Is it okay to politically oppose a President during a war? Is it okay to say nasty things about the President during war time? Not?

I'm really not at all clear what lines you are drawing where: are we supposed to simply automatically agree with our President on "war" issues? Or are there specfici limits to what we should be respectably allowed to disagree with? Or what? What are you saying, exactly?

"Finally, if you're going to pimp my fiction, pick something that is at least finished."

If you don't want stuff you post in public commented on, best not to post it in public, I suggest. Though saying which you think is better and worse is perfectly reasonable, of course.

DaveC: "Do me a favor, give Gary Farber a call some time (he's in your neighborhood), take him out to Chuck E Cheese and immerse him in a quasi-Lileks experience. Then you can both write about it...."

I've written at great length about meeting Jeff, the one time we've met (he linked to it). Odds are high we'll meet again, whenever I finally make it out to another regional blog gathering, or a party at Steve and Melissa Green's finally, or somesuch. But since it takes me about two hours to get to a given place in Denver via bus, and then the same back again, it's a pretty major effort me for to get there; I cancelled on the last Blogger Bash a few weeks ago when another subzero freezing spell/storm hit that weekend.

Ahh, thanks for the correction, Straw Grasper. Obviously I'm not doing due diligence keeping track of conservative voices.


hilzoy: "as good as anyone now living that I can think of offhand"

John Adams? Arvo Paert? Steve Reich?

Second, you note the "civil war" comment but neglect to mention that my purpose, which I later explained quite clearly, was to frame it as an extension of the culture war -- particularly the war for the soul of classical liberalism, which I see as being under attack from what is a pernicious brand of collectivism that shows itself in identity politics, the "diversity" movement, and a particularly dangerous, epistemologically decentering form or multiculturalism inspired by Edward Said -- and I noted that I had no idea how it would happen, but that it could manifest itself in demographic shifts or certain states re-dedicating themselves to federalist legal principles and legal conservatism. Now, I realize it doesn't seem quite so shocking put that way, but there you have it, all neatly explained.
Hadn't read what you actually wrote, before. What you actually wrote is, of course, this:
Never before in my lifetime did I find it even remotely possible that our country could fight another civil war. But I’m beginning to think that a (non-violent) civil war is coming—and that, frankly, it needs to happen. How it transpires, I have no idea—though I suspect migration patterns and a strong move to re-affirm federalist principles could provide the groundwork.

Philosophically, we have lost our way. And we’d better find our way back to our founding principles, or—as powerful as we are—we are doomed to slip into nannystate socialism, while a feckless foreign policy permits radical Islam to spread across the globe like the cancer it is.

Certainly I'm often frustrated that the meaning of stuff that I've written that I think is very clear isn't read that way by others.

But "(non-violent) civil war" is an oxymoron, and people tend to misinterpret those, no matter that they perhaps shouldn't.

"That, and irony is dead."

No, no, September 11th was the end of ironing, not the end of irony. Graydon Carter corrected himself.

"You're confused. That's Tim Maguire."

Is he related to Tom Maguire?

In all seriousness, as the owner of two dogs, I'm am concerned about bringing them up in a neo-con world where all the conservatives can talk about is man-dog sex.

That is why I homeschool.

I had so managed to repress my memory of this post.

"I honestly read his Tristero comment, with the stuff about the dog, and thought: he's lost it."

I don't read Jeff that frequently, which is why I'm trying not to make assumptions, but I do believe that he's rather a fan of the sexual metaphor and reference, and has been since he's been blogging. I don't think there's anything new in that, although I wouldn't be up on the, ah, ins and outs of his usages.

Of course, you can find an awful lot of some versions of that sort of thing at, say, Unfogged, which is generally a pretty leftish set of commenters; different folks have different comfort levels with that sort of thing.

I tend to use "f*ck" a fair amount in my writing, myself, but tend not to get into anatomical references or metaphors.

Robert sez:

Why the hate?

Why not? We're talking about leftists here. Why breathe? It's just what they do, when they're not busy losing elections.

"Why not? We're talking about leftists here. Why breathe? It's just what they do, when they're not busy losing elections."

There's a thoughtful and substantial analysis. Very hate-free.

I think this calls for another stupid open thread!

Personally, I think Jeff's quite amusing when he's being amusing and insightful when he's being serious. I don't always agree with what he says, but I don't always agree with what hilzoy says, either. I do agree that you don't call someone an idiot in public and then expect them to engage you in conversation, which is kind of why I'm a little torn over links here to HOCB.

Not going to psychoanalyze Jeff, because I've never met the guy and he can speak pretty well for himself besides. But I gather that he's pretty much had it with the parade of Atriettes that show up and ridicule his opinion without bothering to find out what that is. And I'd guess that tristero caught it extra hard because of that.

If it were me, I'd enforce posting rules kind of like what we have here, which would tend to eliminate a lot of garbage from all points of the political compass. But that's just me. John Cole and Tim F. have faced similar problems at their place, and are still dealing with them.

All of that said, I think it's time for another stupid open thread!

That said, I think there's been plenty of room for discussion between you and Jeff on issues that concern you, hilzoy, and it kind of surprises me to see this as your first dissection of a Goldstein post (that I can recall, anyway), given that there's so much difference of opinion between you two that's relevant to current events. If you want dialogue and debate on these points as you say, well, I've been kind of trying to surreptitiously fix you guys up. Maybe I should have been less subtle.

I'd be happy if Jeff would choose to show up here for some discussion; you can umpire, Slart. He could start with the questions I've put to him, if he likes.

Goldstein is, in my opinion, the funniest blogger on the web. Clearly, there's some jealousy going on here -- a typical PW thread garners 4 or 5 times the number of comments that see you on a typical thread over here.

You're a player hater, pure and simple.

From far above: "...I really am too stupid to realize how stupid I am." Reminds me of an old high school Sociology gem: "I am what I think you think I am." Can't we just all get along? Slarti, are you saying opposites attract? I did detect a moment or two of appeasement. Could be the start...

You're a player hater, pure and simple.

If I had any idea of what this meant, I might be able to figure out whether it was posting-rules compliant or not.

you can umpire, Slart

I always umpire. What would be different?

PW does get more comments - largely from people who, at least on paper, I would NOT want to know IRL. Not because they hold different opinions, but because they hold VIOLENT different opinions.

That, and they have an unhealthy regard for authority figures combined with a unhealthy disregard for brown people and facts.

We are known by the company we keep. I don't care for most of Jeff's company.

Hilzoy, otoh, is consistently accompanied by the cream of the crop.

Mostly.

Jake

Sort of a guilt/innocence by association argument?

I propose a http://www.historychannel.com/thisday/>duel. Actually, a fascinating peek into history. Lesson learned - sometimes the good guys don't win.

Guilt? Innocence? I wasn't going there - just exposing my preferences for non-violence and truthiness.

But, yes, Jeff is tarred by his commenters.

As hilzoy is gilded by hers.

Jake

I'd prefer a debate. That's completely up to hilzoy and Jeff, though.

Don't we fight a non-violent civil war every four years. And when someone proclaims we have lost our way is detached from our history. No one can package what "our way" is - and it certainly won't happen in Iraq. Hell, it won't happen in Peoria.

The problem with Goldstein and hilzoy actually engaging on the issues is that, as hilzoy pointed out above, Goldstein would violate his own standard by commenting here. By which I mean, according to Goldstein, it is a banworthy offense to comment on a site while simultaneously slamming it on your own site.

Goldstein certainly gives the impression of having a point, but I can't say as I've ever seen him engage in an actual debate over anything greater than a mere nuance. Usually it's just a matter of dropping a steaming pile of verbiage, as with the first comment in this thread, and ho, Lone Ranger, away. And as demonstrated on his own site, one drawback of running an echo chamber is that when a dissenting view does show up, you never need to actually debate it; you can simply deliver a rhetorical Internet smackdown, and voila, 20 fanboys will show up to cheer you on and confirm that the guy wasn't worthy of a real response anyway.

Oh, I think there are plenty of commenters that would tar hilzoy, if we didn't clean sweep out the house frequently, and didn't make it crystal clear that there are rules, here.

I also think it's awfully hard to engage in debate unless you do clean house; otherwise things rapidly devolve into the slinging of feces.

Wait...Jeff slammed hilzoy? Where?

"That, and they have an unhealthy regard for authority figures combined with a unhealthy disregard for brown people and facts."

Oh, please. Disregard for brown people? You're the ones who didn't think we should liberate the brown people of Iraq.

Please, let's not go there. I haven't noticed a disregard for brown people either here or at Jeff's place so much as a disagreement as to what we as a country ought to involve ourselves in.

If you're going the objectively anti-brown-people route, please spare me.

Yes, and dammit you'll liberate them if you have to kill every last one in the process.

PS Arabs are Caucasian kthxbye.

Lets see, does liberate mean kill in the latest PW speak?

Besides, and this might more be philosophy than it is debate, I don't actually think any county ever has been liberated by another country.

It's sort of like faith - you have to get it for yourself. Now, when we leave Iraq, and we will leave Iraq, THEN the Iraqis will work out what freedom means to them. Right now, it means civil war with an added dollop of death by American "mistake".

And if we were going to liberate some brown people, why wouldn't we liberate some DESPERATE brown people? Say, the ones in Darfur? It seems to me that the oppressed people of Darfur were in much greater need than the brown people of Iraq.

Or we could have done Afghanistan right - now theres a thought! We could have finished something we started.

Slart - see hilzoy's comment here.

Slarti, you mean to say that keeping an accurate count of how many coalition forces die in the liberation of Iraq but guessing that there might be 30k or more (like lots more) Iraqi deaths attributable to the effort doesn't mean that we really just don't care?

When we start keeping accurate track of how many Iraqis die, or better yet, lumping all the deaths together like they were equally important, then I'll begin to think we actually care a smidgen.

"Please, let's not go there"

My attitude towards this entire "controversy". Is there anything more useless than a blogosphere-wide flame war?

Slarti, you mean to say that keeping an accurate count of how many coalition forces die in the liberation of Iraq but guessing that there might be 30k or more (like lots more) Iraqi deaths attributable to the effort doesn't mean that we really just don't care?

Baffling. Yesterday you interpreted me absolutely correctly; today you read extra volumes into just a few words.

But to answer: no, I don't mean to say that. What's more, I didn't say that.

Steve, I agree that was...well, undignified, to be terse. And I'm all about terseness.

Ok. Maybe it was the terse thing.

In which case, I abdicate and stick to work stuff for the rest of the day.

That's pretty much why I'm all about terseness these days, Jake.

Wow, I don't go into comment sections very often, and it's nice to be confirmed in that. I'm trying to think of a situation where I would make references to sexual activities with dogs and am drawing a big blank.

slarti,
I do agree that you don't call someone an idiot in public and then expect them to engage you in conversation, which is kind of why I'm a little torn over links here to HOCB.

I'd like to think that neither I nor Jackmormon has called you know who an idiot at HoCB (DaveC, well, let's face it, he's uncontrollable ;^). And if that's not clear, I'll go on the record here and say that I don't think Charles is an idiot and the site is not a CBwatch site.

In fact, the purpose is not to holler 'iijit', but to have a space to analyze the rhetoric closely, a closeness that would be called an over-attention to detail if done over here. I'd like to think of it as being similar to the Japanese tradition of a 'nijikai' or a party after the main party. Generally, after a major party, groups break off and go to another drinking establishment to hash out things in more detail. There may be a bit of kicking and screaming, but jackmormon (and to a lesser extent, me) have said a number of times, 'well, X is a fair point, but if it hadn't been accompanied by this, it might have been more acceptable'. That seems like the exact opposite of calling someone an idiot, imho.

I'd like to think that neither I nor Jackmormon has called you know who an idiot at HoCB

Thanks, but I wasn't concerned about what you were saying about me, if anything. Not that there isn't anything there to criticize. I think that there's much to criticize about Charles, too, I'm just mentioning that I'm conflicted about having that criticism be perhaps too uncivil to take place over here whilst simultaneously throwing links to it.

This might all be me misunderstanding what y'all are doing over there; if so: never mind.

I speak in metaphors, literally.

The assorted "war(s) on" provided by the Republican Party over the past 30 years, on taxes, on government, on the culture, on liberalism, on Iraq, and now "civil war" are now to be taken as mere metaphors. But they are aimed at the Biblical literalists and the Constitutional literalists who live in a world without metaphors.

Pablo:

"It's what they do."

Hey, Pancho, getting a good head of metaphorical hate up for your metaphorical "wars" is actually what I do.

Is the word "traitor" a metaphor? If so, so are the words "f*ck you, suck on this concealed weapon."

If people were banned for metaphors, whither poetry?


In it, Jeff not only provides several different graphic (and completely gratuitous) descriptions of things Tristero is supposedly doing to or with his (Jeff's) dog, but also the fascinating suggestion that Tristero has been fellating, not Atrios, but one of Atrios' posts. (Is that conceptually possible?)

*thinks*

Yes.

But you'll either need a longer tongue, or a smaller uvula.

...what? It's not like this thread was going anywhere...

"Thanks, but I wasn't concerned about what you were saying about me, if anything."

Errr, 'you know who' is not you, but Charles.

And it's not so much that the criticism is uncivil (though it can get heated), but that if it took place over here, it would simply overwhelm discussion here.

For what it's worth: I normally don't think about the consequences of individual posts here, except in cases in which I am either hoping to draw attention to something (e.g., the Graham amendment), or trying to explain something (e.g., how to think about quarantine.) Had I done so in this case, I would of course have thought: oh, this will degenerate into a Goldstein snark-fest; and then I would have explicitly decided for or against creating one.

In point of fact, though, I just read his comment and thought: jeez, he's losing it. -- I might have had a more sympathetic response to that had he generally shown more generosity to the people he disagrees with, but as it was, I thought: this is too odd not to comment on, and also: since I myself normally don't read the comments at PW, I wouldn't have found this without the link at Hullabaloo, and I think that if other people read PW similarly, this comment is worth knowing about, so they know more about who they're reading.

I don't think my original post was all that snarky, fwiw.

Slarti: if it's all the same to you, I'd rather not argue with Jeff, though of course if he wants to come over here and engage, I will (not having his view of engaging in one place while criticizing in another.) For one thing, I prefer to argue with people who don't think criticism is like slathering one's genitalia with peanut butter and hoping Jeff's dog will lick it off, or like sticking one's finger up orifices normally left to the dog itself and its proctologist.

More seriously, though, I think his writing is generally marred by a kind of overheated paranoia, and by an unwillingness to engage with his opponents. He seems to have a pretty well-developed picture of "the left", and to think that it's an adequate response to more or less any criticism to suggest that whoever made it just is exactly like that picture. Since, as far as I can tell, he hears any argument coming from anywhere to his left as made by his fantasy creation, it's hard to see how one would engage him.

About his comments here: I quoted the 'civil war' claim without going on to say anything about what I thought it meant. If he thinks that's misleading, he should consider whose fault that is. And it's perfectly possible to think that words have effects without thinking that they have, in particular, the effect of damaging the war effort in any material way.

Jeff Goldstein demands your utmost respect and worship. He is a god among men. He will annihilate you with mind bullets.

This whole exercise was useful if only because it produced a gleaming specimen of the Goldstein prose for which he is so devoutly admired.

Second, you note the "civil war" comment but neglect to mention that my purpose, which I later explained quite clearly, was to frame it as an extension of the culture war -- particularly the war for the soul of classical liberalism, which I see as being under attack from what is a pernicious brand of collectivism that shows itself in identity politics, the "diversity" movement, and a particularly dangerous, epistemologically decentering form or multiculturalism inspired by Edward Said -- and I noted that I had no idea how it would happen, but that it could manifest itself in demographic shifts or certain states re-dedicating themselves to federalist legal principles and legal conservatism.

I mean, really, hilzoy, it was awfully gauche of you to simply quote the comment without explaining that Goldstein was referring to an extension of the culture war -- particularly the war for the soul of classical liberalism, which he sees as being under attack from what is a pernicious brand of collectivism that shows itself in identity politics, the "diversity" movement, and a particularly dangerous, epistemologically decentering form or multiculturalism inspired by Edward Said -- and that he noted that he had no idea how it would happen, but that it could manifest itself in demographic shifts or certain states re-dedicating themselves to federalist legal principles and legal conservatism. Would that have been so hard?

Really, given that he went to such pains to convey his meaning "clearly," the least you could have done is provide that simple explanation to your readers. I'm afraid your failure to supply any context brands you as objectively pro-Derrida.

"Second, you note the "civil war" comment but neglect to mention that my purpose, which I later explained quite clearly"

So we are all now responsible for reading all of his posts, and I mean all of them, just in case an update later on unmentioned in the original post clarifies the situation.

Apparently with Jeff, we are not supposed to take words as having meanings on their own, except when he says they do.

We used to have Trotskyist sectarian in-fighting. Now we have blogs.

Thus spake Maxathustra.

jerry: it's all part of being epistemologically decentered, doncha know.

"More seriously, though, I think his writing is generally marred by a kind of overheated paranoia"

Pot, meet kettle.

It's high time to pschoanalyze the likes of the whiny crybaby Goldstein. In the face of so much obvious deceit, corruption, venality , and incompetence, Goldstein's dogged loyalty to Bush can only have its roots in an unstable emotional life. (Perhaps he wants to help destroy this country, subconsciously, to get back at someone or something?) A google search turns up an interview in which he states, in all apparent seriousness, that his musical idol is Dan Fogleberg. That suggests someone whose tastes have not evolved in 30 years and who is fearful/distrustful/suspicious/threatened by new and different things — a classic conservative trait. His amateur fiction, which you can find on his site, fails for precisely the same reasons that there are virtually no great rightwing fiction writers (Goldstein can ponder that riddle himself). And his posts are pretentious, verbose, and filled with errors in logic. Something almost certainly went very wrong in his childhood, and if he really is a nice guy who likes a beer, I kind of feel sorry for him.

"there are virtually no great rightwing fiction writers."

What about Jack London, Celine, Flaubert, and Saul Bellow?

Seriously, why would you want to "engage" anyone as narcissistic, thin-skinned, unfunny, and fundamentally wrong about everything as Goldstein?

There, I wrote it. Happy now, Atrios?

What about Jack London, Celine, Flaubert, and Saul Bellow?

Awww. I was gonna go with Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin, Powerline, Captain Ed...

He said "dogged."

Heh, heh, heh.

Celine was an antisemite, true. Was Jack London "great?" Not really. Flaubert has nothing in common that I can see with today's Republican Party, and in fact mercilessly ridicules (albeit with compassion), in Madame Bovary and elsewhere, the French version of middle-class, conservative redstaters circa 1850.

Bellow I don't know much about. Anyone?

What about Jack London, Celine, Flaubert, and Saul Bellow?

Hm, a possible 2 out of 4 ... the adjective was "great." Only Flaubert definitely makes the cut, from that list; but I confess to not having read Celine (isn't he the "..." guy?).

But I'll concur in the larger point, that it's mistaken to suppose that there aren't great fiction writers who are right-wing.

Dostoevsky should also fit. Tolstoy is hard to classify, but I suspect he's more right-wing than not. Those 2 plus Flaubert should resolve the issue conclusively.

Magyar, from the letters of Flaubert's that I've read, he would be blogging furiously against "moonbats" nowadays, not without contempt for the puerility of his apparent ideological compatriots.

He was friends with Georges Sand but wrote her the most appalling political comments.

What about Jack London, Celine, Flaubert, and Saul Bellow?

You mean the Jack London who wrote "Why I am a Socialist"? Real John Bircher, that guy.

Y'all are anti-Semitic. Jeff gets all this attention because he's Jewish. If a good Christian wrote a violent, foul, dorky, moron post, people wouldn't get all upset.

It's like they're entitled, whereas Jews are supposed to be all intelligent and civilized. But what if a Jew wants to break the sterotype and write dorky, moron, chauvinist posts?

Who are we to say that we shouldn't? We should just ignoe him like we ignore all the good Christian dorks. Jeff is a pioneer.

/Hitler

Since when is Jack "The Iron Heel" London right wing? Unless you're using the same ju-jitsu that turns nazism into a left-wing movement?

But I'll concur in the larger point, that it's mistaken to suppose that there aren't great fiction writers who are right-wing.

See, if you're going to take this seriously, what fun is it?

So we are all now responsible for reading all of his posts, and I mean all of them, just in case an update later on unmentioned in the original post clarifies the situation.

Jerry, that is God's own truth. If you try to engage him in a serious discussion on his site, (and can ignore the feces throwing monkeys that populate his comments section), he will insist that you need to read everything he's written on the subject. Sometimes he provides links, sometimes not.

And this from a guy who can turn a simple concept into a 200 word sentence. You would have to read reams and reams of grad student bullshit before he deems you worthy of response.

I actually tried, once, but he never links to original sources that I could find. Just back to more of his densely worded garbage.

I'll tell you what, though, he's convinced me he's a former English grad student and current hausfrau.

But are there any great Bush-supporting fiction writers working today? Musicians? Actors? Painters? Dancers? Scientists?

I can't think of a single one.

Nor do I think Tolstoy, Doestevsky, Flaubert, etc. would be fans of Bush-Cheney. At least, it's hard to imagine.

Ah, a kind of selective inverse appeal to popularity, or guilt by nonassociation. Interesting.

Now, this is a lot better than dog proctology. I tend to agree with Magyar about Jack London, who is, at any rate, a pretty silly example of right wing, unless the claims that there is a racial component are evidence of right wingedness, which is something that I wouldn't claim.

Celine is interesting person to claim as right wing. Certainly a great writer, but given the experimentation in his work, 'right-wing' would not refer to conservative, but to anti-semitic. He was also considered a Vichy collaborator, so definitely not someone you want to hold up as an example, though Leonidas' mileage may vary.

Flaubert is another interesting one, in that he was also supremely pessimistic (the descriptions of the cuckolded husband in Madame Bovary stick with me) and pretty disgusted with society of his time. The choice of those two as being great right wing writers is therefore a bit ironic, since it seems they are right wing because they are dissatisfied with the mores of the time.

While Bellow was on the opposite pole from Mailer and the anti Vietnam crowd, I wonder if Bellow's quote claiming there is no Zulu Tolstoy or Papuan Proust provides the main claim for Bellow being 'right wing'.

Anderson adds Dostoyevski and Tolstoy, but Dostoyevski was famously anti-Tsarist until tortured and subsequently became conservative while Tolstoy was pacifist (he inspired Gandhi) and a proto-anarchist, which seems a bit far from right wing.

All of this makes me wonder precisely what 'right wing' means in this context. Anyone want to take a stab at that?

Nope. I think it's starting to mean the same thing as neocon now does: "those bastards over there".

"Straw Grasper wrote:

'What about Jack London, Celine, Flaubert, and Saul Bellow?

You mean the Jack London who wrote "Why I am a Socialist"? Real John Bircher, that guy.'

Damn, you beat me to it.

However, London was also a pretty virulent racist. Maybe that's what Leonidas was referring to?

lj: I don't want to take a stab at defining it, but, with the caveat that most really great writers will be hard to characterize, and won't fit neatly into boxes, I'd suggest VS Naipaul. At his best, I think he really is great, and while I think he's incredibly insightful, his views have a rightward inflection to them that is not, imho, the most useful part of them.

Preemptively: I disagree with a lot of what he says about Muslims -- I think he's much weaker than usual there -- and I also think he's a misogynist, or at least does a decent imitation of one.

Now, this is a lot better than dog proctology.

As if there's anything better than dog proctology.

About the Naipaul comment (more preemption): when I said he was misogynistic, what I meant was not some sort of generic PC complaint, but this:

In a lot of his novels, especially from the 60s-80s, there's a scene in which a central female character is brutally sexually degraded. Naipaul is a good writer, so in any given novel you can think: well, I can see how the novel's development called for this, and it's not as though describing something is endorsing it -- as though, for instance, we somehow have to read Shakespeare as pro-blinding.

But when you read enough of them, you notice that it's basically the same scene, which finds its way into one novel after another. And that's different, it seems to me, and requires a different explanation than "the novel's development seems to call for it. Again and again and again."

His writings about Islam and Muslims are, I think, marred by a sort of basic contempt that gets in the way of insight. I think one is much more likely to get interesting insights about the Muslim world by reading some of his novels about non-Muslims, insofar as some of the problems there are not at all specific to religion.

That said, I think that A Bend In The River, The Mimic Men, and A House For Mr. Biswas are genuinely great novels.

London started left and ended right (wrong). Ditto John Dos Passos and Saul Bellow.

Y'all forgot Dostoyevsky, right from the start.

Methinks some of you take this blogging thing a wee bit too seriously.

Step away from your computers, go get some fresh air, and do something more substantive with your time. Do something that really matters.

All this neurotic need to prove moral, intellectual and ethical superiorty is boring and pointless.

The blogging world has turned into a junior high locker room where all the twits and bullies run around playing "rat tail" to see who can leave the biggest welt on someone else's butt cheeks.

How cleaver! How original! How intellectual!

Ick. A pox on you all.

Celine: anti-semite, misanthrope, and pacifist. Oh, and anti-captitalist (See Mort a Credit [Death on the Credit-System]).

Claiming Flaubert as a right-wing author is even sillier, but I'd be too tempted to go into excrutiating detail.

Where are all the great left-wing golfers?

I honestly can't think of any.

The blogging world has turned into a junior high locker room...

"Has turned into"? Hasn't it always been so? Gary, help me out here.

Naipaul is right-wing insofar as he is something of a cultural and intellectual elitist vis-a-vis those in the Carib who are stuck in angry post-colonial victim status.

Enough with Dostoevsky. The man was nearly executed and became virulently anti-capital punishment, making him a mushy bleeding heart to today's manly conservatives.

"You're confused. That's Tim Maguire."

Is he related to Tom Maguire?

Posted by: Gary Farber | March 22, 2006 at 03:19 AM

So far as I know, all MAG Maguires are from the same little town in Ireland, so distantly maybe, but yes.

Thank you for this moment of fame.

Be sure and leave your billing address, tim; there'll be a small charge. Better yet, email me your credit-card number.

The blogging world has turned into a junior high locker room...

It's been a long climb, and there is still a ways to go, but maybe we should pause a moment on this plateau ;^)

I think Naipaul's politics are shaped by colonialism and what appears to be a right wing tendency is really a desire to conform. In that sense, it is more akin to mimicry than to actual outlook.

See, if you're going to take this seriously, what fun is it?

Doh! Not normally one of my faults, Anarch, everyone will have to admit that.

But, LJ, Tolstoy's religious, moral and aesthetic views would probably make him *not* left-wing, at the very least. The right wing might claim him if he weren't too noisy. (The RCC is, if not pacifist, at least not terribly pro-war; and yet, Roman Catholics were told to vote against Kerry.)

Probably a party of one, like his wannabe Solzhenitsyn (sp?)? It's useful to read Tolstoy's religious writings to be presented with someone who cuts at a diagonal across our dehistoricized ideologies. Even if he was a bit daft about Nietzsche.

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