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June 06, 2006

Comments

'm not worried about the average left type who says something about Ahmadinejad. I'm worried about Ahmadinejad. If you think Bush is influenced by Rush I guess you can worry.

If that's the case, they, as I see it, your attempt at creating an equivalency falls flat. When I invoke (if I have said it, I actually don't know if I have) the political pressures that Ahmadinejad is responding to, I promise you I am under no illusion that he is really a nice guy and if he just didn't have those darn extremists pushing him, he'd probably be making matzo balls for Passover. On the other hand, when people on the right excuse Coulter with a notion that she's just having a 'bit of fun', they are suggesting that what Coulter says and does is not what she thinks and believes.

Also, one can be worried about Ahmadinejad while simultaneously attempting to understand the forces that shape and amplify that message. Suggesting that we deal with some of the conditions that allow him to pander for domestic consumption is not the same as giving Coulter (or Rush or Hannity or O'Reilly) a pass or saying they are just have a bit o' (rightwing) fun™.

World-O-Crap manages to broadside both Coulter and Russert on this one. It's true enough that it's almost not funny...

If you think Bush is influenced by Rush I guess you can worry.

Actually I do think Bush is influenced by Rush. How could he not be? Limbaugh has an audience of millions, the vast majority of whom are Republican voters. Surely Bush is concerned about someone who has that much influence on his base.

Slartibartfast:

And yet so many of them are falling over themselves to excuse what she said.

You have anyone in mind, here?

Why, yes, I do. Michelle Malkin for one; and Whither The Fool? for a second (and he managed to sneak in some whinging about mean ol' libruls not being nice to Trent Lott, Rush Limbaugh, Bill Bennett and Dan Quayle while he was at it); Seetness & Light; Flopping Aces; Confederate Yankee; Mark in Mexico; and a sizable number of other blogs linked from the Captain's Quarters blog entry in question, as well as a number of the people leaving comments to that entry.

Sebastian:

"And yet she regurgitates the party's talking points with incredible frequency and volume."

So what does that make her? A wannabe?

If the commentary on her on the blogs I cited in my reply to Slarti is anything to judge by, it makes her a hero to the right.

Why, yes, I do.

Ah, I thought maybe you had someone in mind that comments here.

But the difference lies in the fact that I think your average right type has more influence on the political discourse in the US than the average left type who might suggest that it is pandering for domestic consumption has over political discourse in Iran...

The average lefty??? Moi??? Ah well, I guess it's a step up from eurotrash.

Sebastian, if someone had suggested that all precautions had to be taken to make sure Ann Coulter would never be near a Supreme Court justice I might have said that she was mainly pandering for rightwing consumption. If I was inclined to discuss these kind of internal US affairs, which I am usually not.

The discussion wasn't about wether Ahmadinejad was right in saying that (AFAIK nobody condoned the statement), but about wether he would follow up on the statement. People weren't defening what he said, but were assessing the real-time danger.

Anyone want to defend Rush's comparison of the putative liberal response to Haditha with gang rape? Or even to equate it with any similarly positioned commentator on the left?

Dutch,
apologies for any collateral damage from my comment, it sounded like Sebastian was attributing the pandering for domestic consumption thought to the left rather than any particular person, and I didn't want to say 'hey it was just one of those crazed european socialists who thinks soccer is called football' ;^)

'hey it was just one of those crazed european socialists who thinks soccer is called football'

For the next few weeks, it bloody well is!

Given that I pay approximately equal attention to Limbaugh and Coulter (some number, epsilon, defined as smaller even than my attention span), no. Hadn't seen it, and am not interested in it.

If you know someone who listens to Rush, ask them. I actually don't know anyone who does, and admits to it.

LJ: I just quoted from yours because I couldn't find Sebastians comment as quick as yours :). I think he said in another thread that he ment me when he quoted about that incidence, so I now assume he thinks about me whenever he mentions it.

US football... hmmm... isn't that the adaption of rugby that has players carrying around so much protection that they need 10 minutes of rest after every two minutes of action? :^)

Unfortunately I am married to someone who hates to watch sport :(. We compromise on me just watching the Dutch team, so next sunday I will have the whole family, including British in-laws, suffer *if* their tvchannel broadcasts the game... I did buy everybody a new orange football shirt, so they'll at least look the part. It is hard to find a street without orange flags these days :)

Our youngsters (under 21) actually became European Champions this week - for the first time in our history.

I actually don't know anyone who does, and admits to it.

Obviously, this is why Cheney showed up there...

I actually don't know anyone who does, and admits to it.

Hell, even I do...

Slartibartfast I actually don't know anyone who does [listen to Rush Limbaugh], and admits to it.

Anarch: Hell, even I do...

Me WHY???

Isn't life irritating enough already?

If not, we can probably make it so ...

However, in proof that there is in fact a God:

Fafblog's back!!!

*dances the dance of ever-so-scrutable joy!*

This is a surprise why?

Jeepers, you could have danced when I announced it, but no.

dr ngo: Me WHY???

Because some of them are my relatives (I think; don't know if they still listen to him, actually), some of them are my friends, some of them have been my students, and for all them there's been a tacit agreement that we never EVER talk about it so as not to spoil whatever relationships we have.

Gary: This is a surprise why?

No offense, Gary, but when you ask a question that stupid and back it up with your subsequent post, you don't really deserve an answer.

Hell, even I do...

So...have you asked them if they'll defend the gang-rape thing? Seems like you have greater access to the Limbaugh fan-base than I do.

"No offense, Gary, but when you ask a question that stupid and back it up with your subsequent post, you don't really deserve an answer."

Hmm?

Kind of a trivial thing, but why are you calling me "that stupid" and saying I don't deserve an answer for mildly suggesting that I might be trusted on the question in question?

Admittedly, it was bragging slightly for me to point out that I announced the return in advance, but, still, this seems a tad rude for no particular reason.

Not that I want to get into a thing about it. I'm just rather puzzled, in a very low-key way. And "that stupid" seems a bit unnecessarily, well, whatever.

"Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi was the world's most unhinged lunatic. He's dead now, so that moves Ann Coulter up to first place.”
--David Letterman (June 9, 2006)

Actually, since Gary was kind enough to teach me how to link things, I really oughta use it...

So...have you asked them if they'll defend the gang-rape thing? Seems like you have greater access to the Limbaugh fan-base than I do.

As I said, my relationships with these people is contingent upon me never talking about Limbaugh with them.

If you know someone who listens to Rush, ask them. I actually don't know anyone who does, and admits to it.

You know Charles Bird, at least in a limited sense.

You know Charles Bird, at least in a limited sense.

I know him equally well as Anarch does, do he's free to ask CB himself. Which he kind of did, without naming names.

I know him equally well as Anarch does, do he's free to ask CB himself. Which he kind of did, without naming names.

I actually didn't (or didn't intend to) because I thought CB said he no longer listened to Limbaugh. Anyway, I was only referring to relationships IRL, not online.

Anyway, I was only referring to relationships IRL, not online.

You guys got relationships IRL? Gee, I better get on the stick...

Digby's No True ScotsConservative theory gets another boost.

Looks as if it's more of a demonstration of damned if you do, damned if you don't.

And, actually, I think Ted Rall invented the smearing of 9-11 widows, not Rush. But Rall is no true liberal, probably.

And, actually, I think Ted Rall invented the smearing of 9-11 widows, not Rush. But Rall is no true liberal, probably.

On the contrary. He is indeed a liberal. He's also a real jerk.

Um, well, others disagree.

What happened there is confusion about what 'liberal' means. Conservatives tend to use it as if it were parallel to 'conservative' -- you can be a moderate conservative or an extremist conservative, so you can be a moderate liberal or an extremist liberal. Leftists tend to use it to denote only moderate leftists, using progressive or far-left to denote those at the extremes of the spectrum.

Someone on the right saying Coulter isn't a conservative is disowning her -- saying that they aren't on the same side. Someone, like Gary, on the left, saying that Rall isn't a liberal is saying that he isn't a moderate leftist, not that he's not on the left. I'd agree both with Gary that Rall isn't a liberal, and with what I assume Jeff Eaton means by saying Rall's a liberal: that although he's a jerk, he is on the left politically, and we can't truly disown him by saying he isn't roughly on our side of the political spectrum.

Which is pretty much the same as what's happening over here on the Right: others on the Right are disowning Coulter by saying she's not a Conservative; in effect they're saying (I believe Ace said this almost verbatim): if Coulter is a Conservative, I am not a Conservative, and vice versa.

That they're saying so using imprecise language isn't all that remarkable, IMO.

No, my point was that Gary wasn't disowning Rall by saying 'not a liberal' -- disowning him perhaps as individually unpleasant, but saying 'not a liberal' isn't the same, for a leftist, as saying 'not on my side'. For a conservative to say, 'not a conservative', that's a claim not to be politically associated with her.

For a conservative to say, 'not a conservative', that's a claim not to be politically associated with her.

I think this is an overgeneralization, although it may accurately describe some of the Coulter reaction. "Conservative" and "Right(ist)" aren't synonymous any more than are "liberal" and "Left(ist)".

Anyway, all of those terms are excessively overloaded and hinder communication as much as they help. We need a blogosphere standards organization that will come up with an official political spectrum and the corresponding official terms, so that we can all speak with more precision.

For a conservative to say, 'not a conservative', that's a claim not to be politically associated with her.

There's lots of conservatives I'm not politically associated with, so I'm even more unclear as to what your point is than I was last time I posted a comment. People distance themselves from those they disagree with in a variety of ways.

Me, I couldn't care less where Coulter stands, politically. She doesn't speak for me. Whether she's Conservative, or a Rightist, or whatever sort of label you'd like to paste on her, is irrelevant.

Anyway, all of those terms are excessively overloaded and hinder communication as much as they help.

I think they hinder communications a great deal more than they help.

"No, my point was that Gary wasn't disowning Rall by saying 'not a liberal' -- disowning him perhaps as individually unpleasant, but saying 'not a liberal' isn't the same, for a leftist, as saying 'not on my side'."

That is pretty clearly wrong. The move by liberals and conservatives in saying that Rall and Coulter are not liberal or conservative is precisely the same. Both are saying "My group is more to the center than them" with the implied caveat--though on the same side of the overall left-right continuum. Only an idiot would deny that if you are using a binary scale Rall would be on the Left and Coulter would be on the Right. When conservatives or liberals say that Rall and Coulter are not "of them" they are denying a binary right-left and saying that Rall and Coulter are more on the extremes than the speakers are.

When conservatives or liberals say that Rall and Coulter are not "of them" they are denying a binary right-left and saying that Rall and Coulter are more on the extremes than the speakers are.

Maybe I don't understand conservative-speak then. What's the word for 'person on the right who's too far right to be called a conservative', in the same fashion that Rall is a progressive rather than a liberal? I can't think of when I've seen such a word used.

If you're seeing labels as only having two dimensions (right, left) I think we've discovered the nature of the problem.

I can see that there could be someone of approximately the same political persuasion as me who's nonetheless orders of magnitude more of a flaming asshole (which, I admit, may stagger the imagination). I'd tend to distance myself from such a person's point of view in that case as well.

Can I say asshole, here?

Authoritarian cultist?

The move by liberals and conservatives in saying that Rall and Coulter are not liberal or conservative is precisely the same.

Perhaps, Sebastian. If we were to draw a giant chalk line down the nation's demographics and call one side 'liberal', the other side 'conservative,' I don't think anyone would have any arguments about which side of the line Rall and Coulter fall on. There are, of course, arguments about whether they represent the 'extremes' or the 'cores' of their respective camps.

I understand that you have no interest in Coulter -- I nave no interest in Rall. But our respective views on those personalities can't change the nature of their positions within the general political circles we roost in.

The difference, I think, lies in relative spheres of influence that both Rall and Coulter have. Disowning Rall, pretending that he's some sort of unknown loony off in the corner, is obviously disingenuous. But pretending that Coulter is not a far MORE influential and widely accepted conservative spokeswoman and punded is simply impossible without lying. That she has gone this long, said so many tremendously offensive and violent things while maintaining such a strong base of fans, does reflect negatively on 'mainstream conservatism.'

A clarification. I am not suggesting that Rall somehow has less responsibility to behave himself, or that Coulter should be held to a harsher standard than Rall because she sells more books.

And I do agree that the 'spectrum' view of politics, with the moderates in the middle and verious levels of conviction spreading off to the right and left, is deeply and fundamentally flawed. It's a big part of the problem, and more than a few pundits and writers exploit that fact, to their own profit and the nation's detriment.

Do you suppose Jay Leno will give Rall equal time tonight because he's having Coulter on?

Only if Rall wears a cocktail dress.

Only if Rall wears a cocktail dress.
I'd watch that.

"But pretending that Coulter is not a far MORE influential"

What do you mean by "influential"? Sells more books? I'll grant you. More likely to change policy that would not otherwise have gone his/her way? I doubt it. More representative of his/her 'side'? No.

A poll would find far, far more Republicans who had heard of and approved of Coulter than liberals who had heard of and approved of Rall? Yes.

I meant Democrats for liberals there -- I was looking for an unambiguously definable group on each side, but can't type straight.

What do you mean by "influential"? Sells more books? I'll grant you. More likely to change policy that would not otherwise have gone his/her way? I doubt it. More representative of his/her 'side'? No.

More likely to 'change' policy? By that standard, we can say that no pundit is influental, as none have the ability to vote directly on pending legislation. What I meant by 'influential' is that she is read and listened to by a group of people orders of magnitude larger than Rall ever has been or (likely) will be. She is an influential writer in the same way that Chomsky is an influential writer -- the things that she says help shape discourse, and help shape the lenses through which her approving readers perceive our nation's ideological landscape. She is certainly no high-falutin' intellectual, but denying her reach, like that of Rush Limbaugh's or Jesse Jackson's is a little odd.

If you don't move in the same circles with the people who nod approvingly at Coulter, it's a credit to you. The level of heated dialogue in the Conservative blog circles is a small indication of her reach, though. If anyone else had made this comment, they would've been dismissed as irrelevant without a further word. Only Coulter's reach and influence forced a real reckoning. I've been very encouraged by the number of conservatives who finally felt she crossed a line in this case, though it was distressing that her other statements (saying McVeigh should've blown up the Times, etc etc) were excusable.

Lauer should have said, "You are disgusting."

Coulter's basic message has nothing to do with policy - her basic argument is that the real problem in this country is liberals. Hating liberals may or may not be a core conservative policy value, and may not serve to get legislation passed, but boy howdy, a whole s**tload of conservatives in this country really hate liberals. I guess rather than a substantive conservative policy plank, hating liberals is more like an extremely popular and widespread conservative hobby, like golf, say, and Ann Coulter is the current Tiger Woods of liberal-hating.

My point is that it doesn't really matter that she doesn't influence "policy" per se - she is in front of as many people as Woods, but instead of selling Buicks, she's selling the idea that liberals are communist traitors who want this country to fall and American servicemen to die.

Sebastian:

More representative of his/her 'side'? No.
I have to disagree with you on this - the sheer volume of people who have posted defenses of Coulter stating "She may not have said it nicely, but she was still right" is growing on a daily basis. I saw no such groundswell of support for Rall - nor, before people started citing his cartoon in an attempt to draw an equivalency between him and Coulter, do I remember having heard of the cartoon which got him in trouble.

Coulter is unarguably more representative of her 'side' than Rall is of his. First of all, as you concede, she is much more widely read. No, not everyone who reads her agrees with her, but surely there is a correlation. Second, she gets rock-star treatment at conservative gatherings.

Finally, many conservative objections to her rhetoric are quite limited. Her falling-out with National Review, for example, was about her behavior, not the substance of what she wrote about invading Muslim countries etc.

This woman is very popular on the right, as is Limbaugh.

I saw no such groundswell of support for Rall - nor, before people started citing his cartoon in an attempt to draw an equivalency between him and Coulter, do I remember having heard of the cartoon which got him in trouble.
To be fair, I saw quite a bit of measured support for the substance of Rall's cartoon, laced with objections to the way in which the message was delivered.

I saw quite a bit of support for Rall so I'm going to have to disagree with you.

I really hate to ask this, but after some months of seeing Rall appear in various arguments, and inferring that he/she/it is a liberal who said or did something idiotic, and not wanting to derail discussion by asking, who? I am now going to ask: who is Rall? and what did it do?

Oh, I think there's no question that Coulter is more tightly tied in with the popular radio-pundits and such than Rall ever was, although Rall was for a long time widely syndicated. I believe Hannity, Limbaugh and probably a few others still have her on when possible.

Rall had his own cheering section, but I doubt it's anywhere near as big. For me, though, the integral of disturbing over the respective populations is about the same. Subjective, I know.

All of that said, I think Coulter's primary function is to piss people off. It's about the same relationship with real political debate as professional wrestling bears to the real thing. With the same attendant audience participation and asymmetry of popularity.

Sebastian:

I saw quite a bit of support for Rall so I'm going to have to disagree with you.
Then you can no doubt provide some names, the way I provided names of people supporting Coulter?

Slartibartfast:

All of that said, I think Coulter's primary function is to piss people off.
Very possibly, but if so, it's in order to introduce right-wing talking points that can then be repeated by others. At least if the sheer volume of posts to the blogosphere asking why people are focusing on the "enjoying their husbands' deaths" twaddle, instead of her argument that the left somehow have a monopoly on trying to shield itself from criticism by waving the bloody shirt, are anything to judge by.

Looks as if it's more of a demonstration of damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Hardly. If anything, it's a demonstration of "damned since you didn't". It's nice that more people are now willing to stand against her -- although as several commenters have noted, supporters for her views (and maybe her personally) still exist and in alarming numbers -- but it would have been nicer had they done so when she'd started her bile-filled rants instead of waiting eight years to throw a penalty flag.

I really hate to ask this, but after some months of seeing Rall appear in various arguments, and inferring that he/she/it is a liberal who said or did something idiotic, and not wanting to derail discussion by asking, who? I am now going to ask: who is Rall? and what did it do?

Basically, Rall is a left-of-center political cartoonist and blogger who has been widely syndicated. I'm not sure where his circulation is at now, but I see his stuff in Salon now and then when I swing by.

His stuff has always struck me as not-particularly-witty, and a little predictable. A few years ago, he did a single strip about the 'Terror Widows' that cast them as vacuous talking heads who'd hit an insurance windfall and were being eaten up by an adoring media.

Since the format was a bit different (political cartoon rather than book or on-air-interview) I think the effect was a bit more muted. There was never as direct a statement as Coulter's "witches" reference, or her "they're enjoying their husbands' deaths" comment. But many felt it was in terribly bad taste, and a lot of conservative bloggers held it up as an example of liberals despising ma, pa, apple pie, and so on. There were those who defended him, too, as having made an important point, but I think that Rall's relatively long track record of bitter snarking via his comic meant that those inclined to call him on the carpet had pretty much stopped reading.

I, too, only heard about that mini-controversy in retrospect. I tend to lean towards von's interperetation: there is an important point to be made, but Rall was unwilling to focus on it and went for barbed cheap shots, instead. Coulter, in my opinion, went further with her nasty comments and attacks, but the difference was quantitative rather than qualitative.

it's in order to introduce right-wing talking points that can then be repeated by others

Possibly that, along with making lots of money from book sales.

As for Rall's repugnant pieces, I think his series on Pat Tillman was just as bad. I'd link to the original comic, but apparently the archives only go back a couple of months.

I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, the evidence is gone. On the other, think of how many pixels that frees up for OW archives.

"Then you can no doubt provide some names, the way I provided names of people supporting Coulter?"

No, I'm not particularly interested in scouring the world for the support I saw. If you suspect I'm an unreliable narrator I'm frankly not interested enough to disabuse you of that notion on this issue. The reason Rall was brought up instead of the wildly popular (which is apparently identical to saying influential) Michael Moore was because of the almost identical way in which Rall and Coulter unfairly maligned 9/11 widows.

I'm happy to call that Rall piece repellent. It's not much worse though than the way the admin and the right used Tillman.

As for Rall's repugnant pieces, I think his series on Pat Tillman was just as bad.
I think I remember some of those strips at the time -- the jist, if I remember them correctly, was that Tillman was a brainless Rambo-type, yes? Ironic, as more and more of the details about Tillman's life and views come out. He seemed to be the antithesis of the stereotype Rall painted.

I was a true-blue (red?) dyed in the wool republican campaign volunteer during the Clinton era. One of the primary factors in my eventual departure was the the teeming multitude of conservative commentators, writers, cartoonists, and speakers that swam in the same acid bath that Rall frequents. I left the scene before Coulter really ascended, and her emergence cemented for me the conviction that the 'party ideology' had eclipsed any specific principles for many of the people I'd once worked with, supported, and admired.

If we go back far enough, we can trot out the old Vince Foster fun. It took all of a few minutes for people to start publishing op-eds, cartoons, and vitriolic screeds stating flat out that the President of the United States had had a friend of his killed in cold blood. Even today, it's an article of faith among the freeper crowd. I haven't seen anywhere near as much of this on the Left, though it could be that I tend to shy away from any of the 'true believer' political camps these days. It sure seems, though, that the hateful screeds from the right tend to come from much higher visibility sources, folks with much greater reach and (yes) influence.

Eventually, though, the 'they did it first' ping-pong has to stop and each individual (regardless of political ideology) has to be held responsible for their own statements, as well as the statements they've chosen to defend and support. I think it's abundantly clear that you don't support or condone the kind of bile Coulter dispenses, and as I said that's a credit to you. It's sobering to see how many people do, though, and how many people have for years when even uglier things were said.

Well, I think that many people have a certain hysteresis about such things. Myself included, of course. I think many people tend to circle the wagons, so to speak, and make allowances for those who have a certain amount of agreement with them, even if their mode of expression is repugnant. At some point, a threshold is passed, and then a move is made to ensure you're not associated with that person. I'm much like this in the rest of life, too: I tend to let clutter build up for a while, and then it's time to clean house.

Of course, this is all based on about fifteen seconds' worth of thought, so it's probably complete crap.

I think many people tend to circle the wagons, so to speak, and make allowances for those who have a certain amount of agreement with them, even if their mode of expression is repugnant.
Pretty good analysis, I'd say, of human nature and how it relates to this kind of thing.

At some point, a threshold is passed, and then a move is made to ensure you're not associated with that person.

I tend to agree with that thesis, I'd've just liked the threshhold to have been passed when Coulter started wishing extermination on her political foes. For myself, I'd certainly hope that if anyone on the left said anything as vile as Coulter (or Limbaugh or Malkin or Savage or any of a number of other conservative commenters) that I'd react -- viscerally as well as cerebrally -- to dissociate myself with them as soon as damn well possible.* I'm happy enough, sorta, that it's happening now (although the invocations of No True Conservative grate) but the delay speaks poorly of her erstwhile supporters... and worse yet of her current ones.

* I didn't really do so with Rall because I wasn't really aware of him until the fiascos in question, so there was no "But he's on my team!" reaction to counteract.

"that it's happening now (although the invocations of No True Conservative grate) but the delay speaks poorly of her erstwhile supporters... "

Hmm. But no one here for instance supported her even two or three years ago. So unless you think that we are all really weird conservatives....

Sebastian:

No, I'm not particularly interested in scouring the world for the support I saw.
Whereas all I had to do to see the right's support for Coulter was click a few links.

Hmm. But no one here for instance supported her even two or three years ago. So unless you think that we are all really weird conservatives....

You can't have it both ways. In various threads, you have invoked a variety of people who you feel liberals support, but who no one here particularly supports. In fact, you have, at least on one occasion, accepted points that Coulter made about McCarthy, and I think I read you saying something a few years ago about the equivalent of Coulter being Bill Moyers(!) (but perhaps that was on another board)

So unless you think that we are all really weird conservatives....

I generally do, yes -- in a good way, and I mean that with utmost sincerity -- which is why I hang out here. I'd've thought that was obvious, but apparently not.

I don't think Coulter is serious. I got the feeling Rall is. But the latter is absent from any discourse I'm familiar with.

"You can't have it both ways. In various threads, you have invoked a variety of people who you feel liberals support, but who no one here particularly supports."

I can't have it both ways? Why not? Let me eat cake! :)

I don't typically tar anyone with Rall and I think the main lesson of Ward Churchill is that the screening process for becoming a professor might be broken. When I talk about Michael Moore I suggest that he might represent a troubling pacifistic strain of the Democratic Party. When you talk about Coulter are you worried that too many Republicans secretly believe that 9/11 widows wanted their husbands to die?

OTOH...

But no one here for instance supported her even two or three years ago.

a) That's not true AFAIK; no front-page posters supported her that I recall, but there were several commenters who did.

b) You say this like literally dozens of other conservative sites, including many on ObWi's blogroll, weren't rife with Coulter supporters two or three years ago. Heck, I'm fairly sure that one could still find decent levels of Coulter support on at least one blogrolled site, though I'm loathe to actually verify this.

"When I talk about Michael Moore I suggest that he might represent a troubling pacifistic strain of the Democratic Party."

Moore supported General Clark last time around...

. . . others on the Right are disowning Coulter by saying she's not a Conservative; in effect they're saying (I believe Ace said this almost verbatim): if Coulter is a Conservative, I am not a Conservative, and vice versa . . .

Ace? The same Ace who took the time to smear Michael Berg as a morally vacuous human being for stating that he felt as badly for Zarqaw's family as people probably had felt for him? I'd think he'd be her goddamned press agent. He's about as slimy, and doesn't even have the advantage of decent legs.

When you talk about Coulter are you worried that too many Republicans secretly believe that 9/11 widows wanted their husbands to die?

no, I'm worried you still think Bill Moyers and Coulter are equivalents.

Of course, don't take our word for the fact that there are a number of conservatives who still support Coulter. I think this is a conservative leaning website, so I feel certain he has a lot more conservative friends than I do.

Lets go over the Moyers quote shall we?

"They measure America only by their place on the material spectrum and they bask in the company of the new corporate aristocracy, as privileged a class as we have seen since the plantation owners of antebellum America and the court of Louis IV. What I can't explain is the rage of the counter-revolutionaries to dismantle every last brick of the social contract."

Conservatives as slaveowners. Thanks Bill. Every last brick of the social contract if we don't agree with you? Great.

You support the conservatives/slaveowners metaphor?

"Their stated and open aim is to change how America is governed - to strip from government all its functions except those that reward their rich and privileged benefactors"

I'll repeat what I said in the thread--Really, that is their stated aim? I wasn't even aware that was a hidden aim.

"More recently, in commenting on the fiscal crisis in the states and its affect on schools and poor people, Norquist said, "I hope one of them" – one of the states – "goes bankrupt." So much for compassionate conservatism. But at least Norquist says what he means and means what he says. The White House pursues the same homicidal dream without saying so."

Homicide by school voucher. Rove is Brill-Yant.

"That concentration in the production of goods may sometimes be useful and efficient, but monopoly over the dissemination of ideas is evil."

I kind of like my response to that one: "Since when do conservatives have anything near a monopoly over the dissemination of ideas? It isn't as if Moyers had been dragged off his PUBLIC FUNDED tv show in chains and thrown into a gulag."

Surely Bill Moyers counts as a mainstream liberal (not a leftist). Glad to see mainstream liberals avoid misleading and over-the-top rhetoric.

Since my comments were made with respect to her book "Treason" (in which she goes way over the top by suggesting that liberals have betrayed the country with multiculturalism) I stand by the parallel between her ridiculous claims in that book and Moyers as quoted.

Sebastian, I think that there's a good deal of hyperbole in Moyers' statements, specifically in his slathering of all conservatives with accusations that I (personally) think only apply to a very few.

This sort of broad-brush statement, though, is part and parcel of conservative op-ed. That liberals and even moderate Democrats are willing murderers is an article of faith in pro life circles, for example.

Coulter ratchets this level of rhetoric up a notch, however. Since you've said before that you don't really listen to her much, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you've missed some of her doosies. She has a particular fondness for wishing death upon her political enemies. The New York Times? Should've been killed by McVeigh. Muslim leaders? Kill 'em. Liberal court justices? It's about time someone offed a few.

She also continually reiterates, in interviews and columns, that she means exactly what she says and is not being taken out of context. This is not a minor detail -- when given opportunities to clarify her inflammitory statements, she reiterates them rather than qualifying. She pairs this rhetoric with a tremendous laziness; her columns and books are so notoriously badly sourced that she makes Michael Moore look like the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

Even when she's not calling for death, she's wallowing in ad homenim. Not just 'overwrought comparisons,' but lazy, pointless thrashing. Like the famous column that got her bumped from the Post, in which she spent several paragraphs of convention coverage explaining that liberal women were ugly and conservative women were cute.

I'll be honest -- I didn't find this particular outburst of hers that bad. Amusingly enough, the fact that conservatives have fixed on this incident does give credence to the idea that victims of disasters are 'untouchable,' but it tends to poke holes in the 'liberals are responsible for it' corollary.

I'll agree that Moyers' statements were hyperbole, but I fail to see how they are comparable to Coulter's day-in day-out rhetoric. As you said, the Rall/Coulter comparison is apt because they commented on the same subject at different times. If you're trying to argue for 'rhetoric parity,' you're going to have to dig a lot deeper in the sludge-barrel than Moyers.

Um. Just a quick note on grammar: Stating that "X is the best example of [feature A] since Y and Z" is not the same as saying "X is precisely the same as Y and Z." It's stating that they all share a particular feature. (Obviously, what one chooses as one's Y and one's Z can be steered towards a particular rhetorical effect.)

Sebastian,

"When you talk about Coulter are you worried that too many Republicans secretly believe that 9/11 widows wanted their husbands to die? "

No, I worry that too many Republicans secretly believe all (and yes, I mean all) Democrats are traitors. That they believe Democrats deserve nothing other than being put to death. That the eliminationist talk by Coulter, and Limbaugh, and Savage and others on the Republican side is not really for "entertainment" (though if millions of Republicans find that sort of talk entertaining, it is a different, but also scary, commentary on them), but rather speaking to their true desires. And as was made several times earlier in this thread, this type of eliminationist fantasy rhetoric is totally lacking among Democrats with any level of visibility.

I know you do not feel that way, which is why I am happy to be part of this community. But based upon the type of rhetoric out there, and the popularity of that rhetoric, I worry that you are a minority in your party.

Sebastian, I was curious for some context on a few of those quotes and did some googling. I was particular curious that you cut one of the most inflammitory quotes ("Conservatives are slave-owners!") off in mid-sentence. It's worth it for a bit of clarification:

"Many people are nostalgic for a golden age. These people seem to long for the Gilded Age. That I can grasp. They measure America only by their place on the material spectrum and they bask in the company of the new corporate aristocracy."

It is that aristocracy (not the mainstream conservatives who 'bask in their company') that is described as being 'just as privileged' as plantation owners or French courtiers. The quote may hintat the connection of slavery, but the mention of Louis IV seems to make it doubly clear that he is conjouring up images of material wealth and luxury, not whips and chains. While they are certainly strong words, they seem carefully measured. Certainly moreso than Ann's oft-repeated and oft-reiterated wishes for death and blanket accusations of treason, murder, etc.

By this I don't mean to defend hyperbole. Rather, I want to point out that suggesting he compared 'conservatives to slaveholders' is either a mistake on your part due to quick-reading, or a disingenuous distortion. I know you well enough from this blog to assume that it was the former and not the latter. :)

Sorry, I should have included the link of the speech from which Sebastian takes his excerpt. I leave it to the commentariat to determine for themselves if this speech, given live without the benefit of post delivery editing can appropriately be compared with a book which supposedly underwent an editing process yet is rife with factual errors.

The same Ace who took the time to smear Michael Berg as a morally vacuous human being for stating that he felt as badly for Zarqaw's family as people probably had felt for him?

Hmmm...choices are: Michael Berg doesn't feel sorry for Zarq's family, and he doesn't think anyone feels bad for him, or Berg does feel bad for the family of a guy who's on tape sawing off the head of his own SON, for crying out loud, whcih makes him...you tell me. Maybe Berg feels sorry for the family of Zarq for being related to such a poor excuse for a human being, but I doubt that's the emotion he's thinking that people are bestowing on himself.

So, I have no idea where your outrage is coming from. Really. I'm sure you thought your point an obvious one, but somehow I missed it.

What happened there is confusion about what 'liberal' means. Conservatives tend to use it as if it were parallel to 'conservative' -- you can be a moderate conservative or an extremist conservative, so you can be a moderate liberal or an extremist liberal. Leftists tend to use it to denote only moderate leftists, using progressive or far-left to denote those at the extremes of the spectrum.

Someone on the right saying Coulter isn't a conservative is disowning her -- saying that they aren't on the same side. Someone, like Gary, on the left, saying that Rall isn't a liberal is saying that he isn't a moderate leftist, not that he's not on the left.

No. This is extremely historically confused.

I barely know where to begin. Sometime in the mid 1800s, probably, when communitarians were coalescing, though we could go back far earlier.

But let's not go back to far; modern American liberalism has its roots in such movements as the British Factory Reformers and similar movements. The Left, a variety of roots, including the Luddites and the Fabians.

In America, one might suggest Tom Paine as a radical, compared to Jefferson as an antecedent liberal. Marx grew out of and was of the Left, but was certainly not a liberal.

By the end of the 19th Century, the earlier liberal movement was known primarily as "progressivism," and of course was made most famous by Teddy Roosevelt and the Republican Party; they warred against the monied interests, and for reform, but also with the left, which wanted revolution.

The reform/revolution split has pretty much always been the key divide between the two enemies, the Left and Liberalism; by the turn of the 20th century, there was a continued split and war between the liberal reformers, and the various Socialists/Communists. This further developed with the Russian Revolution. (See the movie Reds for some colorful, but accurate, representation.)

Very loosely speaking, both the reformers and the revolutionaries, of somewhat various ilks on both sides, could be very very very loosely said to both be on the "left," but the emnity on both sides was great.

And in the Thirties, the split was exemplified by those on the moderate left, who were Eugene Debs supporters, along with the many varied more radical, fully revolutionary, socialist/communist parties, and those who were liberals, who supported Franklin Roosevelt.

The war between the left and anti-communist liberals was already in full force.

Post-WWII, it only became yet more inflamed and defined. And in the Sixties, we saw it continued as the New Left disowned and attacked the liberalism of their parents and grand-parents, to a great extent. (I'd talk about the Port Huron Statement, if I thought it would get me anywhere.)

This continues to this day in various forms; one can still find members of the various little Marxist parties of the left running around, and the Ted Ralls, and then there are the various forms of mainstream liberalism, generally in the Democratic Party.

It's hard to untangle, given the ins and outs of the evolutions of terms -- particularly of "progressives" and "progressivism," and the frequent historic ignorance of many users, but usually it's not so hard to figure out where to roughly place people, based on their actual attitudes, positions, and approaches, rather than their terminology.

But I think it's far more confusing than not to refer to liberals as "leftists," and worse it perpetuates the woolly-headed notion a lot of vaguely liberal people in the Sixties, Seventies, and through today took that somehow Marxist revolutionaries are just extreme liberals; nothing could be more wrong.

Generally speaking, for instance, the Marxist revolutionary program calls for killing many of the bourgeouis liberals, after the Revolution. This point was often missed by liberals without a clue about history or actual politics, in the last fifty years. But it's kinda important.

Also, liberals don't actually want to install a dictatorship of the proletariat led by the Vanguard Of The Masses. For instance.

What Rall thinks of himself as, I'm unclear. He likes to call himself a "subversive." He also wrote a book about "Wake Up: You're A Liberal!" He's had some Democratic affiliations at times, but so have plenty of leftists, in a love-hate way, which seems to be Rall's view.

[...] To me, comic shops are icky. I don't like to go to them. Comic shops are full of fat white boys. And comic shops are polluted by all that superhero crap. I don't think that stuff should even be allowed to be sold. It's like, enough is enough. This is why we need a state-run economy, like in the former Soviet Union. There ought to be a cultural czar, who would say, 'we have issued enough of dees superhero crap, vee will have no more' and there would be no more. It's like clear dish washing liquid -- it's an excess of capitalism.

[...]

KW: You're this political kid, you come to New York, how come you didn't join a sectarian group, like the Sparticist League?

TR: I did join the Democratic Socialists. I went to a bunch of protests, I went to the big Solidarity Day protest in Washington, DC in 1981. I protested at the New York Hilton in 1982 against Reagan's visit to New York. I was very much a political activist. The Reagan years were an interesting period. They were so fucking depressing.

[...]

But politically, it still baffles the mind that people could be so insane as to elect this guy to public office. And to support his policies. I still can't get over it. But certainly politics were very polarized. Left was left, and right was right, not like now, where's there no political spectrum at all. Anyway, I was involved in a number of lefty causes at Columbia. I was the New York City coordinator for the Mondale campaign in 1984.

KW: Really?

TR: What finally drove me out of mainstream politics was the divestment protest at Columbia in 1985. I had been expelled but I was still hanging out on campus. I was on the steering committee for the first protest. We were trying to get the university to divest themselves from all their financial ties to South Africa as a protest against apartheid. I didn't really agree with this because there were so many local issues to deal with. This country is a disaster. I never thought it was our business, even though I think apartheid was evil and that racism is evil. I just thought 'first things first, let's deal with homelessness, let's deal with systematic poverty'. Whatever. The point is that most of the protesters said that the group should block the doors of the administration building and sit outside during the middle of winter, to which I brought up the rather obvious point, 'it's fucking January, it's freezing cold (this was before global warming), why don't we sit inside and lock the doors and take the building?' They said, 'oh no, then we'll be arrested for trespassing'. I was like: (a) you people are going to be arrested anyway, for violating the fire code, and (b) getting arrested is what you are supposed to want. Are you militant or not?

The bottom line is that all these mainstream political groups are populated by a bunch of wimps. It's not like the sixties. They're not willing to put their asses on the line and really make things happen. If I'd been around in the '60s I would have joined the Weathermen, you know? They were the ones.

KW: Too many cops.

TR: In the Weathermen? Well, you know what I'm saying. I've always believed this about anything. If you're going to do it, do it. If you're going to eat, eat a big meal, and if you're going to drink, get really _drunk_, and if you're going to be political, be _radical_. Otherwise, don't bother. Compromise is the worst thing in the world.

That's a leftist talking, not a liberal. Similarly:
[...] TR: Yeah. Party politics in this country are totally dead. Voting is an exercise in futility. These days, if you want to make a political point you have to do it outside of the system. I make my political points every week, three times a week, in cartoons. I wish there was a better way, and I'm waiting, but for now there just isn't.
That's not a liberal talking.

"Generally speaking, for instance, the Marxist revolutionary program calls for killing many of the bourgeouis liberals, after the Revolution."

I should have modified "Marxist" with "Leninist" or "post-Leninist," actually.

"No, my point was that Gary wasn't disowning Rall by saying 'not a liberal' -- disowning him perhaps as individually unpleasant, but saying 'not a liberal' isn't the same, for a leftist, as saying 'not on my side'."

No, I'm speaking as a liberal, and disowning Rall as a leftist. See what I mean about your being confused?

"What's the word for 'person on the right who's too far right to be called a conservative', in the same fashion that Rall is a progressive rather than a liberal? I can't think of when I've seen such a word used."

Fascist. But I don't agree with the use of "progressive" in the sense lots of kids and other folks do today; I don't actually know what most of them really mean, other than "don't call us either liberals or radicals"; my suspicion is that lots of them don't know what they mean, either.

kenB:

"Conservative" and "Right(ist)" aren't synonymous any more than are "liberal" and "Left(ist)".
Correctamundo!

Jeff Eaton: "If we were to draw a giant chalk line down the nation's demographics and call one side 'liberal', the other side 'conservative,' I don't think anyone would have any arguments about which side of the line Rall and Coulter fall on."

Yeah, but that would be a deeply misleading thing to do.

Hilzoy: "I am now going to ask: who is Rall? and what did it do?"

His site. He's a cartoonist and syndicated columnist whose work appeared in syndicated form at the Washington Post and NY Times (he calls himself a "liberal," there; more) for some years until his a bit after his "terror widows" cartoon, which is why he's brought up in context of Coulter's latest. (Strip here.)

"As for Rall's repugnant pieces, I think his series on Pat Tillman was just as bad. I'd link to the original comic, but apparently the archives only go back a couple of months."

But, still on the web.

Sebastian: "Lets go over the Moyers quote shall we?"

I'd be curious to; can you give a cite for the full quotation and context, please?

Wait, here it is. (Sorry; didn't see anything clickable.)

Um, you seem to be entirely ignoring the context of his speech, Sebastian. Are you really claiming that present-day conservatives are epitomized by McKinley and Mark Hanna? If not, I see no grounds for ignoring that that's whom Moyers was writing, at length, about. (Moyers naturally uses "progressive" properly, too.)

"Lets go over the Moyers quote shall we?"

Okay: "Many people are nostalgic for a golden age. These people seem to long for the Gilded Age. That I can grasp. They measure America only by their place on the material spectrum and they bask in the company of the new corporate aristocracy, as privileged a class as we have seen since the plantation owners of antebellum America and the court of Louis IV. What I can't explain is the rage of the counter-revolutionaries to dismantle every last brick of the social contract. "

Does that describe you and people of like-mind? Are you, in fact, "nostalgic for a golden age" and do you "long for the Gilded Age"?

If not, what's the problem?

But, still on the web.

Well, yes. If you'd clicked on the first link, you'd have noticed that same cartoon there. Amazing, what one can do with the internets these days.

When I talk about Michael Moore I suggest that he might represent a troubling pacifistic strain of the Democratic Party.

I really don't know what to say about statements like that. You feel that people who think that war should only be used as a last resort are troubling?

"You feel that people who think that war should only be used as a last resort are troubling?"

He objected to Afghanistan. I find that troubling.

Thanks for the background on Rall. I was especially interested in Gary's interview. Anyone who can say, at any date after, oh, their first bomb went off, that they would have joined the Weathermen is someone my views have nothing whatsoever to do with, and whom I want no part of. Which is to say: Gary was completely right about 'liberal' and 'leftist', at least as used by people who know the background, and are not using 'leftist' as a synonym for 'somewhere to the left of center'.

I mean, the Weathermen??? They were not just violent revolutionaries; they were certifiably nuts in their basic take on things. Saying you'd have joined the Weathermen sounds, to my ear, exactly like saying you would have joined Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch, had you been around. It's that bizarre.

Hmmm...choices are: Michael Berg doesn't feel sorry for Zarq's family, and he doesn't think anyone feels bad for him, or Berg does feel bad for the family of a guy who's on tape sawing off the head of his own SON, for crying out loud, whcih makes him...you tell me.

Or that everyone is somebody's child, and that Zarqawi had family that probably loved him just as much as Berg did his own son, and it may have been equally painful for them to have to watch their family member die publicly as it was for him. You know, the kind of stuff human beings think about from time to time. Or maybe you don't; I can't read your mind. I have a suspicion here that you're just being tendentious, though.

Maybe Berg feels sorry for the family of Zarq for being related to such a poor excuse for a human being, but I doubt that's the emotion he's thinking that people are bestowing on himself.

Or maybe he thinks that nobody should have to suffer the indignity of having their loved ones' postmortem photos displayed in lovingly framed 3'x3' color glossies on worldwide television. And that if they do suffer it, through no fault of their own, that he feels for them.

So, I have no idea where your outrage is coming from

Where did I claim any outrage, Kreskin? I pointed out that Ace is at least as prone to the slime attack as Coulter is. If, from that, you got "outrage," well, either you might want to consider that you aren't good at reading people's emotional states over the fricking Interweb, or . . . hell, I don't know. Toss me a second option there.

Really. I'm sure you thought your point an obvious one, but somehow I missed it.

Not to be rude, but you have a rather lengthy history of missing the point on stuff like this, Slarti. I have to conclude that that's your fault rather than mine.

Hey, if you want to defend Ace, it's your prerogative. I'll think just a little bit less of you, but I can sleep soundly knowing that's no skin off your back.

"If you'd clicked on the first link, you'd have noticed that same cartoon there."

It wasn't a jpeg or gif, but a link to FrontpageMagazine, whose writings about Rall I'm inclined to suspect I'd be uninterested in, absent specifics. If it had been a link to an actual illustration, or you'd indicated that there was one there, rather than writing about what a pity it was that the archives didn't have one, I'd have known what your point was.

Dutchmarbel:

When I talk about Michael Moore I suggest that he might represent a troubling pacifistic strain of the Democratic Party.

I really don't know what to say about statements like that. You feel that people who think that war should only be used as a last resort are troubling?

I can't see how you get that. "Pacifist" doesn't mean "people who think that war should only be used as a last resort," of course. It means people who refuse to fight or support or cooperate with any war, period, no matter what.

Pacifists apply for Conscientious Objector status in this country when there's a draft, but only qualify if they demonstrate that they sincerely believe the above, rather than what you say. If they pick and choose between wars, they're not pacifists.

Pacifists are the people who objected to fighting Hitler.

Hilzoy: "Saying you'd have joined the Weathermen sounds, to my ear, exactly like saying you would have joined Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch, had you been around. It's that bizarre."

Also, "stupid."

war should only be used as a last resort

I wonder what "last resort" really means in this context. Presumably you would support a war in some situations even if there were other options available (such as total surrender, or acquiesence in the face of genocide). So by "last resort", you probably mean something like "when it seems to be the least bad of the available options". Do you think that everyone who's more hawkish than you doesn't approach it the same way?

No doubt there are some people who just like the idea of kicking a** regardless of consequences; but I'd guess that most people are not actually eager for war, even though we might disagree on how to properly weight the potential plusses and minuses of it in a given situation.

"No doubt there are some people who just like the idea of kicking a** regardless of consequences;"

Well, there's Jonah Goldberg:

[...] here is the bedrock tenet of the Ledeen Doctrine in more or less his own words: "Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business." That's at least how I remember Michael phrasing it at a speech at the American Enterprise Institute about a decade ago.
Hilzoy recently mentioned this, of course.

"I'd guess that most people are not actually eager for war"

Yes, and no. No reasonable person, by definition.

But there's a distinct thread of macho right-wingedness that frequently, in some cases constantly, speaks differently, and extolls the need to go, yes, "kick ass" of various people the speaker/writer is offended by. Examples are endemic among commenters are certain belligerent blogs, though less frequent amongst right-wing intellectuals; but you can still find Max Boots and William Kristol speaking up for the manly virtues of fighting evil, and the like.

Then we could look back to Teddy Roosevelt's writings on the virtues of war.

Well, presumably even Ledeen (to the extent that that quote represents his sincere belief) feels that doing so would ultimately serve the greater good, although I grant you that it doesn't much resemble a "least bad option" in that framing. But you do remind me that I hardly have my finger on the pulse of the pro-war crowd in this country.

Anyway, there's at least a non-negligible number of people who are more hawkish than most of us left-leaning ObWingers but who nonetheless are fully aware of the costs of war and who simply hit the "last resort" stage a little sooner than the rest of us.

"Anyway, there's at least a non-negligible number of people who are more hawkish than most of us left-leaning ObWingers but who nonetheless are fully aware of the costs of war and who simply hit the 'last resort' stage a little sooner than the rest of us."

Sure, although I wouldn't even assume that every "left-leaning ObWinger" shares the same view, or that the center here is the same as at any particular other, more wholeheartedly left/liberal blog.

Not to mention that frequently people's views change with time and circumstance.

My point about Roosevelt, which I realize I wasn't clear about, was that he felt that going to war provided personal virtues in the development of A Man. A chance to find courage in one's self, to face death, to face what life means, to judge what is and isn't worth risking one's life for, and so on.

Winston Churchill had some similar views, though he wasn't blithe about what war meant to a society or land -- though neither necessarily was Roosevelt, a man of great paradox, who despite writing at length on said virtues of war for an individual, had no Americans die at war during his term of office. (Similarly, he was the greatest conservationist President ever, the man who created the National Parks from scratch, and founded the American Museum of Natural History as a child from his shoebox, but who also almost surely killed more animals via hunting than any other American President times ten.)

But this all has to do with changing views over time; admiring the personal glories and virtues of war was once highly popular in Western culture, and was overwhelmingly the majority view, at least amongst the upper classes, but clearly not only amongst them.

That was, to be sure, largely before the invention of the Gatling gun, and then the machine gun and poison gas.

The Great War put paid to much of that.

On the other hand, it's not as if charging into mass death was unknown prior to the 1850s, either.

But there are certainly still admirers of martial spirit, as well as those who are merely foolishly belligerent.

Indeed, we could start also discussing the cultural split in this country that's been growing for at least half a century, if not more, between those sympathetic to, and apt to volunteer for military service, and those to whom it is close to unthinkable, absent a national emergency.

But that could also be misleading, because many of those most fervidly against unnecessary war are soldiers or ex-soldiers, for reasons that should be obvious, but clearly aren't to all.

So the subject has non-obvious complexities, I suggest.

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