Showing posts sorted by relevance for query jonah goldberg. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query jonah goldberg. Sort by date Show all posts

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


Jonah Goldberg:
If you’ll forgive the self-indulgence, let me start by sharing a few things about my professional life since Donald Trump won the Republican presidential nomination, in no particular order. Every day, on social media, I am attacked, dismissed, or otherwise declared an illegitimate analyst or fake conservative because of my criticisms of President Trump, even if I include praise or beneficial context. During the election season, I lost large sums of money — large to me, anyway — because I had to turn down speeches in which I was expected to be a de facto surrogate for the Republican point of view. My appearances on Fox News have dropped precipitously...
One might wonder what this workshy legacy pledge, whose columns betray an ever-decreasing amount of effort, could possibly have to bitch about. Rick Perlstein, it turns out; Goldberg claims he has been slandered by him at the New York Times Magazine, thus:
National Review devoted an issue to writing Trump out of the conservative movement; an editor there, Jonah Goldberg, even became a leader of the “Never Trump” crusade. But Trump won — and conservative intellectuals quickly embraced a man who exploited the same brutish energies that Buckley had supposedly banished, with Goldberg explaining simply that Never Trump “was about the G.O.P. primary and the general election, not the presidency.”
The quote, BTW, is accurate. Goldberg retorts:
For starters, Perlstein’s insinuation — that my declaration that “Never Trump” is over represents some kind of “embrace” of Trump — isn’t just wrong, it is breathtakingly dishonest. The very article he’s quoting from has the sub-headline: “The Never Trump movement is over, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop criticizing Trump when he deserves it.”
Which is like saying, "I lost, but that doesn't mean I'll stop complaining about it." Goldberg actually lists several columns where he's been "criticizing Trump." Let's take one at random -- "The False Prophecy of the Presidential Pivot” -- and look at the lede:
It was just last week that Donald Trump had the finest moment of his short presidency — his address to a joint session of Congress. Even many of his harshest critics praised his speech or reluctantly conceded that it was “presidential.”
Really lets him have it, huh? Actually Goldberg does get to criticizing eventually, but it's mainly criticism of Trump's intemperate Tweeting -- that is, his failure to "play the part of a somewhat sober, serious, responsible president — even one with an ambitious populist-outsider agenda" when he's handling his device. And he can't even do that without qualifying it -- for example, talking about Trump accusing Obama of tapping his phones, Goldberg admits it sounds bad but has to stick in that "there is an enormous amount we do not know" and "I think more investigations are in order (including of the leaks plaguing the administration)." And here's his finish:
The pivot stuff was always false prophecy. Being president has a funny way of making people more presidential. And by day, Trump’s White House staff can contain his worst instincts. But all bets are off when he’s alone at Mar-a-Lago and the moon calls forth the beast.
In other words: Trump's got a good staff, so things are going okay, but hoo-boy, those crazy Tweets, am I right? He sounds like a 70s Democrat talking about Billy Beer.

Though Trump directly insulted Goldberg and won the nomination by basically telling the establishment Goldberg represents to fuck off, the fact is Goldberg's always been willing to praise Trump. Why shouldn't he? Trump's viciousness is right in tune with Goldberg's brand of conservatism -- it's just less dainty. Even during the campaign for the Republican campaign, Goldberg's NeverTrumpiness was already beginning to take on water. Here's me last May describing one such column:
Take Jonah Goldberg, dean of the #NeverTrump crew at National Review. Last week, Goldberg taxonomized and reviled several Trump-allied factions: "alt-right" loons, converts "who don’t in fact believe in anything at all beyond their own self-interest," "Closet #NeverTrumpers" without the courage of their convictions, and "Fake Moderates" who, Goldberg claimed, had "urged the GOP to be more inclusive and nice" before endorsing Trump.

But conservatives "who simply think supporting Trump is making the best of a bad situation" — well, that was different. "I understand that position and I have sympathy for it," said Goldberg. It would also be okay if Ted Cruz and this year’s other unsuccessful GOP contenders gave Trump "some grudging, pro-forma support… albeit reluctantly and with grave reservations," said Goldberg. Helping to destroy the country is only bad, in other words, if you seem too cheerful about it; a grim visage redeems you. Sort of like Puritanism!
Or you can read him from August defending Trump's transparently bogus outreach to blacks ("Just because one has cynical motives doesn’t mean one’s actions are objectively bad. Lots of people cynically give to charity to make themselves look good to the public, that doesn’t mean charities should refuse money from anyone not of pure heart..."). Or you can --

Ah, what's the point. I could continue to pick apart his bullshit buffalo stance, but who's left to convince -- no one hears about some Trump outrage and says, "I can't wait for Jonah Goldberg to weigh in on this!" That's because the movement Trump took over is still his home and, like Charley Partanna and the Prizzis, he's got nowhere else to go. Even when he's being pissy, he still inside the tent pissing out; just because he can't quite find the flap and catches splashback every time doesn't mean he was ever even thinking about going outside to piss in.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

CITIZEN JOURNALISM: DON'T TRY IT OUTSIDE THE HOME! A few years ago Jonah Goldberg laughed (spraying cracker crumbs and globules of Marshmallow Fluff, no doubt) to think of Al Franken and his sissy liberal colleagues trying to compete in the rough-and-tumble world of talk radio. "Conservatives are more entertaining than liberals," said Goldberg, because liberals always had to watch what they said -- "They respect all sorts of false pieties which conservatives can poke fun of. They dance around politically correct landmines and confuse themselves for ballerinas" -- whereas wingers could let the good times roll a la, well, Jonah Goldberg. And of course the straitjacketed libs were always bitching and moaning that oooh, the wingers were being demogogues. Bwa ha ha. Fuck those guys.

Flash forward to last weekend, when liberal op James Carville managed with the rhetorical equivalent of a pinky thrust to knock crusty old Bob Novak right off his rocker. Jonah Goldberg, now scowling parentally in his toga, reacts:
This all illuminates the rot in cable-news political discourse...

...I disagree with the Bush administration on a wide number of issues — from immigration policy and “compassionate conservatism” to its grotesque overspending. But it’s very hard to offer a balanced defense when your opponent is shouting that you’re a whore to the GOP and that Bush is a liar with his pants on fire...
Yes, the world of talk TV is too rough-and-tumble for Goldberg. Maybe the addition of visuals pushes the thing over the edge for him.

Now to be fair, this is not the linchpin of Goldberg's argument. Maybe he started out like that, then realized how ridiculous he, wielder of the NatRev whoopee-cushion, sounded in Comstock mode. In any case, he guides our attention to the harrumph-harrumph real problem: too many political operatives on TV, as opposed to creatures of pure air, light, political philosophy, and barbecue sauce such as Jonah Goldberg.

Tucker Carlson and Bob Novak "are journalists," says Goldberg, "opinion journalists, to be sure, but journalists nonetheless. They speak for nobody but themselves and they have a long-term interest in maintaining their credibility." Whereas trash like Carville and Paul Begala, he informs us, are "party operatives and always have been. They were even advisers to the Kerry campaign while still keeping their 'analyst' jobs at CNN."

Yes, Jonah Goldberg is arguing that professional journalists are more credible than outsiders with other jobs. Good thing Ole Perfesser Reynolds is on vacation, because I'm sure the celebrated Citizen Journalist would pounce right on that elitist thinking! In fact, I'm sure all the pie-eaters are rising up against Goldberg as I write this. There must be something wrong with Technorati, which is not showing any such activity.

I wonder if Goldberg would consider the problem solved if the nets replaced operatives like Carville and Begala with -- oh, let's say Eric Alterman and Juan Cole. I'm guessing not.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


British PM David Cameron's anti-porn proposals are so stupid he's already begun to back off them, and even Charles C.W. Cooke, an asshole, has come out against them. The best you can say for the program is that is has stirred Jonah Goldberg to one of his classic foot-in-bucket fartfests:
I understand that we are in a very libertarian moment. I myself have become far more sympathetic to libertarianism over the years.
Wait for it...
But I just can’t get as worked up about David Cameron’s porn crackdown as Charlie can.
I think libertarianism is bullshit and even I'm offended by this.
The “who’s to judge?” refrain very often strikes me as camouflage for the more radical claim that judgment is either impossible or simply illegitimate.
This is really about standards. If you depict women having orgasms, soon every woman will want one! What then? Fart.
In other words, hand-waving about, say, the peril to free speech of banning Lady Chatterley’s Lover says little about how to view some dimly lit bukkake compilation (don’t look it up if you think you might not want to know).
Goldberg moves as easily from a right to say "yuk, bukkake, amirite?" to a right to stop other people from watching it as, I expect, he moves from eating leftover meatloaf with his fingers to drinking salsa out of the jar in his midnight (and 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.) raids on the fridge.
It’s a bit like the death penalty. Opponents always want to argue that the death penalty is 100 percent wrong when the person about to be executed is a somewhat sympathetic figure, or when there is some real or alleged ambiguity about his guilt. But sometimes the evidence of guilt is overwhelming and the convict is a child rapist, mass-murdering demon. Then, suddenly, death-penalty opponents grow quiet as they await a more convenient poster child.
That's why they picked rape-murderer Robert Lee Willie as the model for Dead Man Walking. So mediagenic!
Unless you believe that there should be no legal impediment whatsoever to hardcore porn on, say, Saturday-morning broadcast television, you too believe in censorship. Similarly, if you believe there is some information — any information! — the government should be allowed to keep the press from reporting, you also believe in censorship. Now that we’ve established that in principle...
...Jonah Goldberg gets to be yukmaster general. I wonder if this junior-high debate bullshit works with anyone.
I am not for banning porn (if you could ban it at the local level, I would be more sympathetic to that).
I have followed Goldberg for over a decade and this is as classically Goldbergian a "veer in one direction, then another, then disappear into a cloud of farts" as I have seen.
But I find the desire to help parents shield their kids from it entirely reasonable, humane, and laudable — and, yes, difficult.
Two separate cheats -- "for the children" blubbering, and "no easy choices" chin-stroking -- in the same sentence. This shit is prime.

Then Goldberg says he's "confused" by Cooke's analogy with King Canute -- no surprise there; he probably thought it was something like "Linus the Lion Hearted" that came on TV after he stopped watching cartoons -- and, feebly grasping that it has something to do with fighting the forces of nature, persists:
Regardless, it seems to me that virtually every major challenge of the human condition is ultimately “unstoppable”: Disease, crime, natural disasters, cosmic entropy, karaoke, etc. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to smooth out the rough edges, go for the small improvements where we can, and muddle through from one generation to the next.
No one can prove that oceans of internet porn have done anything worse to humanity than give Goldberg another opportunity to embarrass himself, yet he compares it to disease and crime as something we should do something about, rather than as something normal people just shrug off and learn to live with, like, say, universal health care.

Cooke basically tells him where to get off (politely, though -- a man's gotta eat) and Goldberg actually comes back, this time with buckets on both feet: Charlie is far more knowledgeable about his exotic homeland than I, I’m willing to defer to him when it comes to distrusting the British government.
Translation: I didn't know what the fuck I was just talking about but it doesn't matter, I'm a legacy pledge.
Fortunately, Charlie has elevated the discussion from the particulars to the general, and on that ground I’m less deferential. He alludes to what “the story of government in the West” is but I’m not sure what he’s saying. If he’s saying it’s always preferable to keep the government from making mistakes in the first place, rather than trying to fix them later, I suppose that’s fine (though some things, like gas station burritos, only emerge as mistakes after you try them). If he’s saying that once we acknowledge a principle for Orwellian/Statist/Censorial expansion we start riding the slippery slope to ever greater oppression, I’m afraid I disagree.
This is literally gibberish. But the next line is killer:
The best one can say about this kind of argument is that it is sometimes true and it’s sometimes false.
To match this with our traditional Goldberg signifiers is difficult, but a close equivalent might be Goldberg farting from every pore.

Thereafter Goldberg does his own version of Peter Boyle's "One guy lives in Brooklyn, one guy lives in Sutton Place" speech from Taxi Driver, demonstrates that he can't understand why child pornography is about child exploitation rather than free speech, and actually says this:
Right now, thanks to censorship, it is illegal to put up a giant electronic billboard in front of a school depicting fictional scenes of gang rape or child sex. Given his embrace of free speech absolutism, is that a bad thing?
And (I hope this is graven on his monument):
The internet is no billboard, but I think the principle can make the leap.
Then he brings up "Plato’s Republic... the Jacobins, the Nazis, the Communists" to show that he is too an intellectual, see?

I give it four farts.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


My thanks to mortimer2000 in comments on a previous post for alerting me to this job listing:
Bestselling author and columnist, Jonah Goldberg, writes on U.S. politics and culture as a fellow at AEI. One of the most prominent conservative political commentators today, Goldberg frequently appears on television and radio shows, and his syndicated columns are circulated widely across the United States. Interns will conduct research on a large range of policy-related topics to assist Mr. Goldberg with his columns, lectures, and media appearances. The ideal candidate will possess strong research and writing skills, as well as a demonstrated interest in U.S. politics, culture, and the media. 
Job Location
Washington, District of Columbia, United States 
Position Type
0.00 - 0.00 USD
Doesn't that suggest a scene --

JONAH and K-LO in the NR breakroom; JONAH thumbs through a pile of resumes.

JONAH. (through a mouthful of Hot Pockets) Lookit all these resumes from old guys! (pulls one out) "Mark Gauvreau Judge." God, why can't they get their moms to get them jobs! Losers. (wipes mouth with resume)

K-LO. (sniffs) Something smells -- (gasps, stands) Mother of Christ! Jonah, not again! (gags, pulls her wimple across her nose and mouth) Do you have Satan inside you?

JONAH. Better call a exorcist, K-Lo, 'cuz I just shotgunned a can of these.

JONAH holds up an empty tube of French's French Fried Onion Rings, and simultaneously farts, knocking over a ketchup bottle and two wastebaskets. K-LO flees.

JONAH. If ya can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Hey, I should put that in the ad! (pulls a resume marked BEN SHAPIRO out of the pile, reads aloud as he writes on the back with eyeliner pencil) "Candidate must have high level important eh-pee-see-mo-lotical discussions with his boss,  Jonah Goldberg." (wraps one of his hands with the resume, talks to it) So, you went to Harvard, huh? (shakes hand wrapped in resume, speaks in a falsetto) "Yes I did, Mr. Goldberg, I'm a very smart man and I'm 40 years old and I write for free on the internet." (normal voice) Oh, I see. Well, tell me, Mr. Harvard Man, can you tell me what is happening now? (farts, knocking down a set of venetian blinds. Sirens are heard in the distance.) "Oooooh, Mr. Goldberg, you made a very bad fart!" Is that so? Well perhaps they didn't teach you at Harvard that HE WHO SMELT IT DEALT IT! "Ooooh noooo!" Oh yes! "Ooooh noooooo!" Oh yes! (JONAH pushes the resume-draped hand between his legs) Ha! "Ack! Oh no! P.U.! It stinks in here! Lemme gooooo!" No! "Lemme gooooo! Lemme --"

TWO FIREFIGHTERS in Hazmat suits burst in and lay hands on JONAH.

FIREFIGHTER. Methane levels are beyond the safety limit, sir! We're taking you out of here!


He lunges and grabs an industrial-size bag of Tostitos Hint of Jalapeno Chips as they carry him away.

Thursday, November 12, 2015


All the cool conservative kids are talking about how college student activists are the new Hitler. Since Jonah Goldberg has already established that all liberals are already double-Hitler, infinity, he has to go another way. So:
Campus Commotions Show We’re Raising Fragile Kids 
...Consider play. Children are hardwired to play. That’s how we learn. But what happens when play is micro-managed? St. Lawrence University professor Steven Horwitz argues that it undermines democracy. 
Free play — tag in the schoolyard, pickup basketball at the park, etc. — is a very complicated thing. It requires young people to negotiate rules among themselves, without the benefit of some third-party authority figure. These skills are hugely important in life. When parents or teachers short-circuit that process by constantly intervening to stop bullying or just to make sure that everyone plays nice, Horwitz argues, “we are taking away a key piece of what makes it possible for free people to be peaceful, cooperative people by devising bottom-up solutions to a variety of conflicts.”

The rise in “helicopter parenting” and the epidemic of “everyone gets a trophy” education are another facet of the same problem. We’re raising millions of kids to be smart and kind, but also fragile.
Whereas Goldberg is dumb and mean, but also muy macho (in a sedentary sort of way) because he was raised right in the rough-and-tumble New York City political operative's kid scene. So that today's social-justice sissies may feel bad at what they missed, here are some vignettes from Goldberg's childhood:

Young Goldberg at a playmate's carpeted rooftop playground, getting up a game of Firing Line: Okay, you be Michael Kinsley -- just act like a creepy faggot -- and I'll be William F. Buckley Junior! (grunts) Shoot, I can't get my legs to cross! OK, forget it, let's play HUAC -- I'll be Whittaker Chambers and you -- hey, where's everyone going?

Young Goldberg leans out the window of his penthouse, yells at black people: THEY SAY THAT SHAFT'S A BAD MOTHER -- (ducks behind sofa; forty minutes later goes back to window) SHUT YOUR MOUTH!

Young Goldberg goes politely up to the line of bums waiting outside H&H for stale bagels; sotto voce: Hey guys, five bucks if you  do my Geography homework for me. (A bum steals his wallet; Goldberg runs home to his mother, who wipes away his tears and says, "Gee, that's terrible, kid. You want a cigarette?")

Plus the Goldbergs weren't on welfare and earned everything they had, fart.

UPDATE. In comments, DN Nation, considering Goldberg's compliant of an "epidemic of  'everyone gets a trophy' education" -- "Who do these educators think they are, anyway? Regnery Publishing?"

Wednesday, August 05, 2015


Jonah Goldberg has had a fartful morning. At The Corner, he reacts to a feature about Chelsea Clinton -- first, by acknowledging that he wrongly characterized it as a puff piece without reading it  (for which he blames Twitter, no dog or intern being handy); then, by taking the opportunity to harsh on C. Clinton at length for -- well, for existing, it would seem, and for allegedly being a "total political mediocrity" which might mean something if 1.) the current GOP Presidential field did not exist as a point of comparison and 2.) C. Clinton were actively running for something. (She has said she's "open" to running for office in the future.) Also, she only got where she got to because of her family. "Are there many average people who can take inspiration from Chelsea’s 'struggle'?" asks Goldberg. "I doubt it." (To quote August J. Pollak, "PLEASE tell me Jonah Goldberg is whining about someone getting where they are because of their parents." Oh, here's a bonus.)

Goldberg then tries a few carom shots to get at Hillary via Chelsea ("she is also a total political mediocrity. In this sense she takes entirely after her mother," "she certainly didn’t get her dad’s political chops. This is pure Hillary," etc.), but this hot mother-daughter action isn't really doing it for him so eventually he just unpantloads:
As for the bit about her being the closest thing America has to a princess, well, when you think about it for a second, I think that’s right. The problem is that the closest thing to a princess in America is very, very, very far from an actual, you know, princess. We don’t do royalty here very well. The thing that makes her most princess-like is that she really doesn’t seem to know what to do with herself except get caught up in the lie of her family business. What I mean is that she may actually believe that the Clintons are a kind of secular royalty and a dynasty. No doubt she’s been told that a lot. No doubt her parents don’t loop her in on the seamier side of how the Tudors of the Ozarks operate. She probably thinks the primary purpose of the Clinton Foundation is philanthropy rather than extending the Clinton brand and empire, in much the same way descendants of the original medieval robber barons believe their family has always been about public service. Bless her heart
There is no coherent meaning to the paragraph other than "Are you proud of me now, Mom?" In the ancient tradition of Goldberg's less-connected colleagues coming to his rescue, Jim Geraghty tries to hand Goldberg a much stronger case against C. Clinton -- that she's been promoted beyond her competence in the media world due to her celebrity -- to which Goldberg responds that he entirely agrees "about the broader phenomenon of Chelsea Clinton, which is why I assumed that Contrera’s piece was just another one of these insipid sweeteners." Well, Jim, you tried.

Goldberg also has an anti-Planned Parenthood article that starts with the kind of bloody fetus prose-poems that have become his movement's new lazy-man equivalent of clinic protesting, and proceeds to what I'm sure he thinks is a brainstorm:
...It was Thomas Jefferson who wrote, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” 
It was at least partly on these Jeffersonian grounds that proponents of removing the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s statehouse grounds won their argument. The statehouse belongs to everyone, and forcing those who abhor that flag to pay for it, even symbolically and even if many of its supporters meant no offense, is still sinful.

Well, if you don’t believe that a fetus with arms, legs, a face and a brain is an actual human life worthy of protecting, or at least deserving of a level of respect greater than a hangnail, it’s doubtful anyone will ever persuade you otherwise.  
But maybe you can still accept that other people disagree with you. Abortion is not simply a symbolic act, but perhaps it would help to see it as one. And, if you can muster that much imagination, maybe you can also understand why those truly offended by the practice don’t want their tax dollars subsidizing it.
In other words: Look, be fair -- we took down our tributes to the Confederacy, the least you can do is enact the Hyde Amendment what you already did well no uh because fungible did I say that right and in conclusion  farrrrrrtttt.

Monday, March 31, 2008

JONAH GOLDBERG SWINGS FOR THE FENCES! At the Canadian National Post, John Moore defends prostitution -- puckishly, to be sure (the author is a talk-radio host) though he does take time to provide a few examples of happy sex workers to support his point.

At National Review Online, Jonah Goldberg is stirred to combat! The noted historian commences:
I find this amusing for several reasons...
(Like what, Goldberg doesn't and probably couldn't say, but he's just setting up the killer follow-through:)
...but the most glaring is that the argument is really stupid.
We could stop right there, but both Goldberg and I have column inches to fill.
In formal debate you'd call his opening an "appeal to authority."
Well, that's a slight stretch of that term, but let's allow it, and (even better) let's allow Goldberg to explain it:
This is like arguing "The U.N. is necessary because Henry Kissinger says it is." But in this case instead of Henry Kissinger, the authority in question is a two-bit gigolo actor who drops to his knees for a part and can't even imagine why he wouldn't since he already does it for free so often. The other authority — and his only actual example — is a single mom who whores herself out to make time for "volunteer work" and raising her daughters. No doubt Mr. Moore thinks Mrs. Brady-by-day, hooker-by-night, is a perfectly representative example of a "sex worker." And we know she's not being demeaned because she never has to dress up like a school girl. Because that would be repugnant! But servicing even dirty old men is just a straight-forward business transaction.
And so Moore's argument is proved fallacious because his authorities are pervs. They know what they're talking about, but what they're talking about is gross. And if Goldberg had called this an argument from example instead, he wouldn't have been able to bring in Henry Kissinger, which is funny because his name has a "K" in it. Also, he'd have to line up unhappy sex workers as counter-examples, and that would kill the buzz.

But Goldberg's rhetorical arsenal is not yet depleted -- in the last ditch he avails the argument from geography:
But I suspect that there's another variable at work here. Moore's Canadian. And as I discovered years ago, lots of Canadians have weirdly amoral views toward prostitution, perhaps because being "judgmental" is just so American.
Killer logic like this has kept libertarians happily yoked to the conservative coalition, and Goldberg gainfully employed, lo these many years. It's like the Enlightenment never happened. If you need a chaser, take up Goldberg's homage to Eric Voegelin.

Monday, March 14, 2005

FUN WITH RETARDS. When I saw the first installment of Jonah Goldberg vs. Some Guy, I was perplexed, but by Jonah Goldberg vs. Some Guy II (Extended Remix), I was tickled, because I had hit upon the appropriate visualization of the colloquy: Goldberg in a dark room, wrestling feverishly and at length with a large rubber doll.

No one knows how Goldberg and the doll came into contact with one another -- perhaps Derbyshire had been using it to explain buggery to Kathryn J. Lopez, and left it in Goldberg's office as a gag. But it is clear that upon contact with the doll Goldberg panicked, and now flails so violently that he cannot tell that his assailant is of rubber and cloth, and poses no threat to him. To make matters worse, whenever it starts to dawn on Goldberg that his opponent is not really reciprocating the struggle in any meaningful way, the poor man inadvertently touches a button on the doll's head, causing a tiny speaker there to emit phrases like "that's not conservative" and "we'll be watching." Goldberg, his terror renewed, resumes flailing.

Actually the whole Corner is pretty hilarious this morning. We also have Rick Brookhiser harshing on Lucas and Spielberg, an obvious provocation in this nest of nerds. Brookhiser gets a little too into it, of course, and falls into that sinners-in-the-hands-of-an-angry-God mode to which culturecons are prone ("Junk on stilts... It was excrement you would not put in the compost..."). He argues that Lucas' and Spielberg's creations have been detriments to our culture, and uses the lofty examples of Keats and Shelley to, if not support, then sanctify his thinking ("Keats's and Shelley's imaginations did not match their talents or their intellects," sniff), and -- get ready for the punchline! -- ends by asking, "Thought experiment: post-Lucas, post-Spielberg: Could Lawrence of Arabia be made today?" Lawrence of fucking Arabia! Keats and Shelley aren't quite up to snuff -- now David Lean, he was a giant! In the immortal words of Edmond O'Brien, Jesus wept!

Some of the hilarity comes by proxy. One of the madder Cornerites, Stanley "Save the White Race Through Financial Ruin" Kurtz, sends us off to visit Harvey Mansfield, who is on about manliness and Teddy Roosevelt. Mansfield's man-thing starts with the assignment of political gender roles common among conservative testosteronologists like Mansfield: liberals have been "delivered... to the feminists," while conservatives "sneakily enjoy" TR's "political incorrectness." (What does Mansfield mean by that, I wonder -- perhaps TR's white supremacism? If so they have good reason to enjoy it "sneakily.") Also, "conservatives keep their admiration [for TR] under wraps because they fear the reaction of women should they celebrate his manliness." I guess those creatures we imagined to be female conservatives actually belong to some sort of Ladies' Auxiliary.

Having established his butch bonafides, Mansfield dives into the TR legacy, and what he comes up with does not bear close reading, but do get a load of this excerpt:
Reason is disdained by pragmatism as being prompted by the tender wish that things will somehow fit together on their own. Progress under pragmatism requires an addition of will-power, of manly assertiveness, to reason so that reason, in the form of science, does not construct a boring, peaceable civilization that appeals only to mollycoddles and fails to meet the ambition of humans who want dignity more than peace. The trouble is that the manliness needed to express confidence depends on doubt of reason, yet reason is the source of our confidence in better things to come. When you add manliness to reason so as to make reason more capable, you also subtract from the capability of reason. The danger to progress is that manliness, instead of endorsing reason, will get the better of reason.
I think I saw an early draft of this leaning in a corner of the Second Avenue F-train stop, along with some rags and other personal effects. Then, as now, it seemed a cry for help. Still, the image of a white-coated Professor Mansfield in his lab, painstakingly measuring out the appropriate amounts of Reason and Manliness to give his creature LIFE!, is at least as amusing as the others.

The whole world's a circus, Mike, if you know how to look at it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

STREAKING. When I saw Jonah Goldberg hoisting a flagon of Pibb Xtra and declaring, "I score that as Anti-Wilsonites 5 defenders 0 (or forfeit)," I was intrigued. As has been proven by several incidents since his famous declaration that, after Juan Cole had handed him his ass, he was "going to take my victory lap now," Goldberg is never more ebullient than when he's pooped his drawers.

Turns out he's scoring an NYT seminar on the conservative fad of bashing Woodrow Wilson starring six historians -- not frauds like Goldberg, but experts in their field who write books rather than book-length cheerleading manuals. All concede negative aspects of Wilson's Presidency, which is probably why Goldberg thinks he's bested the field -- his agenda is that Wilson is a rat, and if other people discuss the subject without insisting Wilson was a saint, that means they're losers in the Jonah Goldberg remote control debate.

Some of the historians explain that the most obnoxious parts of the "progressive" Wilson program -- censorship, opposition to women's rights -- have since been absorbed by the conservative movement. Goldberg gets right to the important part:
A few of the folks use [the Times article] as an excuse to beat up on Glenn Beck, even trying to make him into a mouthpiece for Leo Strauss (no, really).
No, not really. The two guys who mention Beck and Strauss -- the conservative George H. Nash and the liberal Michael Lind -- don't "beat up" Beck; they just don't take him seriously, and who can blame them. But since Goldberg believes that "Beck got on the anti-Wilson train largely because of my book," you can see how he'd consider this an assault of some kind. (Also Goldberg himself is mentioned in the article and even more quickly dismissed. You can see how this became a grudge match!)

When John Milton Cooper, Wilson's biographer, says that "the main problem with this current denunciation is that it does not spread the blame far or early enough" and mentions that Theodore Roosevelt also made use of Big Government, Goldberg flies into a sack dance. That's "a game-ending concession," he yells:
So, John Milton Cooper — a great and revered historian — says that the chief problem with the right’s indictment of Woodrow Wilson is not that it is wrong on the merits, but that it’s too selective? In other words, the substance of the attack is fine, it’s just not inclusive enough. I’ll take that any day.
If you read the essay by Cooper -- Goldberg clearly hopes that you won't -- you'll see that the "main problem" passage is a rhetorical gambit used to bring up the immense change in Republican standards of government activism over the years. But Goldberg seems not to have read any further, and goes on for a couple more paragraphs about the tangential TR connection as if it were his Safe Place and he were afraid to leave it; yet even ensconced there, he's never out of danger so long as he keeps yapping:
So while Cooper is right to a limited extent, what he leaves out is that TR wasn’t nearly the progressive Wilson was as president. It is entirely possible that had TR won in 1912 (and all else was held constant) the same conservatives would be beating up on TR more than Wilson. Though even that I doubt, for the simple reason that Wilson’s progressivism was a real ideology. TR’s progressivism was far more instinctual...
Etc, fart, burp. If K-Lo hadn't come along and banged him on the back of the head, he'd probably have started typing IS TOO IS TOO IS TOO over and over again. Once unstuck, Goldberg relies on his old standby arguments. For example, his response to the comments of Harvard's Jill Lepore is "Riiiiiight." When challenged, he explicates:
What I found hilarious was the claim that liberals don’t label things. This from the crowd that has shouted “tea bagger” at everything that moves.
I have not been able to find any writings by Professor Lepore in which she talks about teabaggers, but unlike Goldberg I'm not looking for them through Miss Nancy's Magic Mirror.

Goldberg on what he considers a victory lap is like one of those guys who run out onto the field during a ball game, hear the bellowing crowds, and think, "They love me!"

UPDATE. Thanks John for correx.

UPDATE 2. "I'm a little confused here," says DKF in comments. "Are we modern liberals supposed to venerate Wilson? If we didn't, what would be the point of all this right-wing Wilson-bashing? I don't give a rat's ass about Woodrow Wilson. Why should they?"

I have a couple of theories on it, DKF.

1.) Republicans -- having been for a half-century the Party of Dirty Tricks, Southern Strategy, and the allegedly magical Deregulation that was supposed to make us wealthy forever but has instead doomed us all -- like to shift the conversation to the distant past, especially eras with decent Republicans and problematic Democrats. Hence the "GOP Can't Be Racist, Look at Frederick Douglass" argument (though I believe those National Review readers who actually looked upon Douglass' visage in that post probably wondered what Fred Sanford was all dressed up for.)

2.) Conservatives really despise Franklin Roosevelt, but when they tell people that FDR's crimes include using the federal treasury to employ hobos, they do not get the horrified reaction they seek. They can't even bitch about the Japanese-American relocation camps because that would get Michelle Malkin mad. So they turn to Wilson, who is not associated with such heroic issues as World War II and the Great Depression, and tell people about all the horrible things he did and that Obama would do if he had the chance. (Sometimes he does, unfortunately, but the problem with Obama's conduct is not that it differs radically from that of his Republican predecessor, but that it resembles it too closely.)

3.) Goldberg wrote a book called Liberal Fascism that made millions of rightwing knuckleheads believe a bunch of bullshit.

(Freshly Squeezed Cynic's explanation, also in comments, is shorter and better, which I can mention now that you've just read mine.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2020


I have reduced the pace of production here at the old plant, not out of laziness but because between my God Damn Job and my daily efforts on the subscription newsletter Roy Edroso Breaks It Down (Subscribe! Cheap!), I'm very short of time anymore. Thus some of the many rightwing writers who have become stock characters in the Droll Satire of Contemporary Mores that is this site go unspanked.

One of the ones that got away is Jonah Goldberg, who has mostly retreated from his much-befouled perch at National Review to occupy the Assness Chair ("No, Asness! Asness!" Potato, potahto) in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute, and to contribute to The Dispatch, a redoubt for JustTheTip- and Never-Trumpers of the old school which is mostly subscription and thus beyond the reach of my self-punishment budget (though I did have a look-in at an early issue, which showed the Old Gasster in good form).

But someone has tipped me to a recent Goldberg white paper from the Ass Chair, and I must report, first, that it is about 4,000 words long -- not as hard a slog as his terrible books, but for readers accustomed to his short NatRev columns that he only made SEEM long an ordeal nonetheless.

It carries the Mark of Goldberg from the very start, with a quote from DeTocqueville (whom conservatives were ruining well before they ruined Orwell) followed by this...
Few students today — or their parents — saw the 1964 James Bond movie Goldfinger when it premiered. Like many old Bond films, it violates some modern norms, particularly of the #MeToo variety.
Neophytes would already be wondering if it's some sort of joke. But hang in there, aficionados, because Goldberg's about to uncork:
But in one respect, it remains very relevant. Its eponymous villain, Auric Goldfinger, loves only gold. The story climaxes at Fort Knox, the famous gold depository, though Goldfinger's plan is not to steal the treasure there but to irradiate it, making it unusable.This will increase the value of Goldfinger’s hoard of gold. Naturally, because it's a James Bond movie and Goldfinger is the villain, he fails. But his plot is akin to something happening in modern education and our culture, where the largely well intentioned villains are mostly succeeding in irradiating the historical gold reserve of our civic tradition and national narrative.
I assume AEI rejected Goldberg's Star Trek-themed first draft, "The Trouble with Libbles."

Thence proceeds a long, long recounting of one of the rightwing foundation myths: How earlier Bond-villain liberals like Dr. NoNukes and Ernst RainbloParty taught everyone Wrong History. See, kids today don't know their Parson Weems, as is revealed in the latest of several million polls given on the subject since the 1960s, and this is why kids like socialism and speech codes.

Why do kids today cotton to these things when they didn't in the 1980s, when they were also dumb? Because they're all politically correct snowflakes, thanks to "certain social obsessions—physical safety, college admittance, antibullying, self esteem, and so on" -- not like the intellectual hand-to-hand combat on which ruff-tuff contrarians like Jonah Goldberg were raised.

Perhaps sensing this by itself won't do for a think-tank thing, Goldberg lards in more wingnut history: How John Dewey and Woodrow Wilson made "a cultural movement that began to reject America's past" and a New Class of pointy-heads who believed "that they as a class should rule," which begat the G.I. Bill, which "created a mass market for discontent that exploded in the 1960s."

These Baby Boomers, Goldberg goes on, "turned inward to remake society," leading to Howard Zinn turning American history into "the story of victims" in which "the heroes of previous ages become villains, their ideals villainous," which foul libel on American Exceptionalism has been taken up by their wimpy kids via the New Class, which "now controls American education."

For some reason Goldberg doesn't offer as evidence of this Victim History the most obvious, pertinent and widely-known example -- namely, the toppling of Confederate statues that so distresses his Southron colleagues and neo-Nazis. Of such status anxieties are NeverTrumpers made!

Instead Goldberg gingerly pleads for some still-more-dead victims of revisionism -- "It is fine to argue that Christopher Columbus was terrible, but is that all there is to him?" -- before turning to the last refuge of a rightwing scoundrel, famous black people:
Students could learn much from [Frederick] Douglass's righteous anger. But his anger is not what is most instructive. Its righteousness matters more. For despite America's sins, Frederick Douglass did not seek its destruction. He focused on America's "hypocrisy," demanding that we live up to our ideals, not abandon them.
A century later, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke similarly. Like Douglass, King's anger was righteous...
To the trained ear, this strikes a familiar, wounded and baffled Goldbergian chord -- how is supporting the grievances of King and Douglass a retort to the kids who are also "focused on America's 'hypocrisy'"? And even if this is just an evasive rhetorical maneuver -- admitting an opponent's point to gain an advantage -- what would the advantage be? With Goldberg, we know what the result of such a gambit will be 99 times out of 100, and sure enough:
It would have been better if the founders had never been hypocrites. But we should feel deeply grateful for that hypocrisy, because it was the irritant that created the pearl.
FARRRRRRRT The pearl is FREEDOM you stupid liberals FARRRRRT stop laughing if it weren't for slavery how could you even HAVE the Emancipation Proclamation FARRRRRRRRRT

There's the old Goldberg! You just have to dig for it. Whether it's worth digging for is an open question.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017


Don’t look now but Jonah Goldberg has a podcast. The debut is here and no, no fucking way guys; last November I actually listened to a Reason podcast with Nick Gillespie and I still wake up shaking in the middle of the night. But I did read Goldberg’s stupid “G-file” letter on it (no link — it’s for fans!), and I can report that it’s full of the shitty goofy-image-Mad-Libs Goldberg considers jokes, and some director’s-cut insights into his working method:
I’m the first to admit that, like Flamenco Dancing or buffalo taxidermy, solo podcasting doesn’t come naturally to me.
What’d I tell you.
I don’t want to be an “interviewer.” Conversation good, Q&A boring. So I went into this with no notes and nothing prepared.
What a shock. Goldberg is so lazy I’m told when he wants to eat, he has one intern pack his maw with Cheetos and another intern put the belt from an old-fashioned reducing machine under his chin and turn it on high.
…In my imagination, I want [the podcast] to be like being stuck in an airport bar with a relatively sober Hunter S. Thompson, a tipsy William F. Buckley and a few entertaining strangers in the mix.
Yeeeahh that sounds great. Anyway why listen to the actual atrocity when we can enter the World of Pure Imagination:

GOLDBERG: Heidi ho, National Review interns, American Enterprise Institute interns, Heritage Foundation interns, and friends of my mother, it’s the Jonah Goldberg Podcast. I want to thank 3 Doors Down for that righteous musical intro aaaand I’ve just been handed a note, whoa, really nice stationery, “Arent and Fox” it says on the letterhead… okay, that was the last time we’re going to play that particular tune and I just want to say one of the worst things Obama did to this country was make people uptight about copyright laws. I mean think what if National Review was copyrighted. Copywritten. Whatever. I mean, who would have ever heard of William F. Buckley Jr. Or me! Something to think about. But I’m being rude to my guest, Megan McArdle, a columnist for the, uh, Weekly Standard, and I understand she’s working on a book about Puerto Rico and Hurricane Whatshername, isn’t that so?

MCARDLE: Literally none of that is true.

GOLDBERG: Hey, lighten up there, Megan! I’m just flying by the seat of my pants here, no prep, no notes, cuz “facts” and “proper attribution,” I mean boring, right? [tries to do Homer Simpson voice] Bo-ring! Did you recognize that? That’s, that’s, that’s the guy on The Simpsons.

MCARDLE: I’m a proud Bloomberg View columnist and I’m not writing a book about Puerto Rico — though I suppose I could, because I was surrounded by those people growing up in New York, and the fact that they’re still there filling up perfectly good East Village property with their housing developments despite their lack of economic dynamism is one of the worst things about the de Blasio Administration —

GOLDBERG: De Blasio, he’s the worst! You folks can’t see it but I’m giving him a big thumbs-down. And that goes double for Ma-Mumia-something-something whatshername the Puerto Rican.

MCARDLE: I mean God, the Italians, Italian-Americans I should say, they gave us all this gorgeous food that I enjoyed so much when I went to Italy. And what have the Puerto Ricans ever given us, culinarily? I mean guacamole, right? And what else? Refried beans. Yuck. It’s poor people food.

GOLDBERG: Yeah. Pretty ghetto. Pret-ty ghet-to. It’s the internet, we don’t have to be politically correct.

MCARDLE: Is there a gas leak in here?

GOLDBERG: Cheese, that’s cheese. I had a cheese. Have a cheese sandwich. In my pants. Pants pocket. [squeaking noise] That was the wind, a mouse. [rustles papers] Homina, homina. Please go on.

MCARDLE: But anyway, what I am interested in is the inevitable, like it’s so predictable, all these people after Las Vegas, talking about and it’s of course a terrible tragedy but they want to just get rid of the guns, like you could do that, and it’s like, haven’t you been paying attention, I mean like Marine Todd, well I mean not Todd he’s fake okay [laughs], but this other Marine, I saw him on CNN, this man took out an armed robber in a store because the robber did. Not. Know. He was a Marine. And those people? In Las Vegas? I mean maybe they were brainwashed by all those gun-control movies like, I don’t know, tsk, I’m sure you know what I mean, like —

GOLDBERG: Like Stop-Loss and Lions for Lambs.

MCARDLE: Uhhh, pretty sure they’re about Iraq.

GOLDBERG: Uhhhh, pretty sure not.

MCARDLE: Whatever, but these people in Las Vegas who just did what was expected of them and just ran and ducked and died, what they didn’t realize was that the sniper — he didn’t know whether they were Marines or not. Right? I mean, people gave me a hard time after Sandy Hook when I said rush the shooter. But what they didn’t know, and what just occurred to me now, is if the shooter thinks you’re a Marine, and you run toward him, then that shooter is going to hesitate and that’s when you get him, when he’s off his guard! Or if you can’t get to him because, and omigod I just realized this [laughs], he’s like twenty stories up in a hotel window, then you can go [in a deep voice] “Ooo-rah!” Like really loud. “Ooo-rah!” And that gives the police time to get him, because he’s intimidated because he thinks you're all Marines. Now, would it work? Would people do it? How should I know? But it certainly makes more sense than gun control. [Pause] Hello?

GOLDBERG: YES! Got the high score, BITCH! [Sound of chair tilting back and falling, GOLDBERG hitting the ground; GOLDBERG’S voice, slightly off-mike] OWWW! OMIGOD! SHOOT! That’s all we have time for! Oww! I wanna thank whatshername for coming on the podcast. [Loud farting sound] Sorry guys, I said I wouldn't but I had to activate the “gas cushion.” I hurt my bummy-bum real bad! [Cries; Three Stooges closing music]

Friday, March 26, 2010

PANTLOAD AND THE PERFESSER DO AMERICA. Every once in a while some smartass tells me about something awful at Pajamas TV. That pisses me off, because PJTV wisely doesn't offer transcripts, which means I have to watch the fucking things if I want to keep up.

A few of you recently lured me to a chat between the Ole Perfesser and Jonah Goldberg. This promised the greatest team-up since Beavis and Butt-head, but alas, these two titans are not at their best. Nonetheless, some highlights:

• The Perfesser asks why "conservative intellectuals" like David Brooks have "not a lot of enthusiasm" for the totally awesome Tea Party movement. "There are different reactions from different people," muses Goldberg, "but you're right to generalize."

That could be the Shorter! But let's press on:

• Goldberg finds it "really bizarre" that Brooks compared the Tea Parties to the old New Left. Why, the New Left was "seeking to tear down existing institutions," says Goldberg, whereas the TP movement is "about restoration. There's a reason why they're buying all these books about the American Founding, why they're constantly talking about Thomas Paine and Don't Tread on Me."

That these alleged restorationists are attracted mainly to the most violent Revolutionary sentiments rather than, say, The Federalist Papers does not alert Goldberg to any contradiction, even when the Perfesser later elaborates that back in the colonial era, it was assumed that "if the government went too far, the people would just rise up in a body, it would be an organic thing" -- presumably like Shay's Rebellion, defeat of which began our long descent from the libertarian Valhalla of the Articles of Confederation to the Era of Big Gummint. (Or was it a false-flag operation?)

(BTW, do they know Paine thought Washington was an asshole?)

• Goldberg, in a semi-coherent ramble about the populism of the Ross Perot Reform Party, says that in '92 "the timing was just wrong because of Clinton and Bush I and the rest." Too bad there was no citizen journalist on hand to ask him the Tough Questions as to what he meant by that.

• The Perfesser gets down with The People! "The minute they do get interested in politics," he says, "everybody is basically saying 'why are all these ordinary Americans out there, shouldn't they just listen to their betters?' And actually that 'listen to their betters' is a lot of the tone I get not just from David Brooks but from a fair-number of sort of higher-level conservative intellectual types..."

The Perfesser quotes no examples of this, but as it's a matter of "tone," rather than actual words, he might have needed to express it via interpretive dance or his techno music, so it's just as well.

• "The Left," says Goldberg, "has bought into this idea that they have the monopoly on authentic protest" -- illustrated by a rant about "hippie kids" of the kind no one has heard since the days of Al Capp -- while conservative intellectuals are "trained to be skeptical of populism and mass-movement protest," which will certainly surprise anyone who's heard of Howard Jarvis and Proposition 13, the Moral Majority, etc.

Goldberg also chides the Left for being quick to call conservatives fascist, which I would find a charming piece of chutzpah if I had any faith that Goldberg knew what the fuck he was saying.

• After Goldberg claims National Review has always "had this internal debate about elitism vs. populism" -- Goldberg portrays William F. Buckley Jr. as a populist, which is like portraying Ernst Rohm as a scoutmaster -- the Perfesser pipes up, "I'm actually happy to be an elitist."

Well, of course he is -- after all, he's a Yalie and a tenured radical, and he's going to be among the elect for real when the Robot Rapture comes! But how's that square with his pitchfork Tea Party fervor? Simple:
I don't think the people running the country are an elite. I think if you look at it, they're not especially bright. They have no track record of especially good success.

What's happened in this country that's gone well over the last 50 years has mostly gone well in spite of the people running the country, not because of it. And so I don't think it's necessarily anti-elitist for groups of people to come up and say that the politicians and the journalists and the pundits are all a bunch of idiots because I think that's objectively a defensible position to take.

And I don't think that's anti-elitism. If you want to be an elitist, one of the things I think you have to be is an elite. It's like, you know, to be a diva, you're not actually just a woman who treats people badly, you're supposed to also be a woman who sings really, really well. And to be an elite, you have to be elite! You have to be good at something! And I look at Nancy Pelosi, or I look at, for that matter David Brooks, I think. what exactly are these people that good at, and I'm still waiting for an answer.
...says the guy doing a video in his rec room.

• "I think you make a good point," says Goldberg. Whereas "elite" is a meaningful term in plumbing, in politics "the word elite gets weird" -- because the political elite is really a "ruling class," or at least they are when they're Democrats, who are defending a "labor union-academic establishment and protecting their own interests to the detriment of society," in contrast to the altruistic oilmen behind George W. Bush.

• After a Perfessorial skein on his previous theme about how Politico is trying to work the "narrative" against the Tea Parties, Goldberg gently explains that Politico just likes to fuck shit up.

Corrected by Jonah Goldberg -- now that's a downfall! Fortunately for the Perfesser, the balance of the universe, and the ongoing cause of comedy, Goldberg immediately takes back the title of Clown Prince of Conservatism by offering as evidence of the Right's superior intellectual vibrancy the ongoing "healthy debate" between order and liberty as exemplified by... Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul.

Next time they should get Goldberg all hopped up on Pibb Xtra before they turn on the cameras. The same basic idea worked for Chris Farley!

Monday, November 22, 2021


I guess it’s time to remind people about the Doughy Pantload, aka the Flatulator. From an otherwise estimable Greg Sargent column about Stephen Hayes and Jonah Goldberg quitting whatever it was they were getting paid for by Fox News over Tucker Carlson’s pro-insurrection TV special:

Some liberals have scoffed that Hayes and Goldberg are unreliable allies who should have recognized Fox’s toxicity long ago and have taken other unforgivable positions over the years. But liberals should want the existence of a center-right that is fundamentally for the baseline of respecting democratic outcomes and institutions, for reasons I’ve outlined elsewhere, even if we disagree with them about everything else.

In the story linked from his “for reasons I’ve outlined elsewhere," Sargent acknowledges that people like Hayes and Goldberg aren’t exactly democracy’s best friends, but they are more likely to defend it in a pinch than are the true Trumpkins:

On CNN, [Trump apostate Miles] Taylor said: “The one place we are united with Democrats right now is in defending our democracy.” Unfortunately, when it comes to center-right voices willing to say this, right now we don’t have the option of being particularly choosy.

But we only have their say-so on that -- what’s the proof they’ll “defend democracy”? Taylor was revealed to be the author of the hilarious 2018 “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration” op-ed in the New York Times, in which he claimed to be one of “many Trump appointees [who] have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more misguided impulses until he is out of office.” But what’d he actually do, besides wait until just before the 2020 election to out himself? 

Taylor's anonymous op-ed suggests he and his buddies just tried to keep the mentally unstable Trump from fucking up Republican policy too much. Even the many “oh yeah, Trump was nuts but I couldn’t tell you at the time because I needed it for my upcoming book” reports out there don’t show Taylor or anyone like him stopping Trump from declaring martial law or anything. (I will add that I take the stories about Pence resisting Trump because of James Madison, rather than because he was ascared he’d get in trouble, with a megagrain of salt.) 

As I wrote when the op-ed came out:

…it's taken me more than a year to acknowledge that Max Boot, for example, is sincere about opposing [Trump]. Boot remains a war-mongering monster, of course, but he's not pretending to be anything else -- he even admits that he can't approve of Trump's saber-rattling, not because Boot has turned pacifist, but because he thinks Trump lacks the belly (figuratively speaking) to follow through with the civilizational slaughter Boot's approval would require.

So when Boot says he's hoping the Democrats take over to teach Republicans a lesson, I believe he means it, because he's not trying to snow me about why he wants it. Thus, if he and his comrades of convenience get rid of Trump and eventually install President Mattis, I won't be stuck with my thumb up my ass blubbering "B-b-b-but I thought we was pals" as America blows up half the Middle East and Boot orgasms voluptuously.

More likely Taylor et alia were just looking for a more comfortable niche in the rightwing universe with some staying power for after Trump sharts himself to death. Taylor is currently working something called the Renew America Movement, pitched by -- red alert! -- the Niskanen Center. These guys are less likely to save democracy than to save their own asses.

Now Sargent and others think Hayes and Goldberg are part of some post-Resistance. Hayes ran the Weekly Standard, the wingnut mag that went anti-Trump, thus driving away its rich rightwing funders -- at which, LOL, on many levels, not least because Megan McArdle thought the demise of this sinecure meant there was a “civil war shattering the [conservative] movement,” notwithstanding “some of the movement’s stalwarts did turn into Trump boosters, if only half-hearted ones.” Har de har har. Pick up a copy of National Review sometime and tell me how anti-Trump they are

As to Goldberg: Since his emergence as his mom’s backup in the Lewinsky affair, he’s been a public nuisance -- my alicublog archives return hundreds of entries on his awfulness, despite my getting bored with him over the past couple of years. The most recent phase of Goldberg’s failsonry is his quasi-demi-hemi-anti-Trumpism, by which he heretofore hoped to straddle Trumpworld and NeverTrumpworld -- here, for example, he sputters that he’s not technically a “Never Trump” conservative, but more of a “Trump skeptic.” Whatever you call his aposta-half-assy, he has mainly expressed it by sneaking snide remarks in between pats of the Former Guy’s back:

Goldberg actually lists several columns where he's been "criticizing Trump." Let's take one at random -- "The False Prophecy of the Presidential Pivot” -- and look at the lede:

It was just last week that Donald Trump had the finest moment of his short presidency — his address to a joint session of Congress. Even many of his harshest critics praised his speech or reluctantly conceded that it was “presidential.”

Really lets him have it, huh? Actually Goldberg does get to criticizing eventually, but it's mainly criticism of Trump's intemperate Tweeting…

The great irony here is, Goldberg’s intellectual cred is largely based on his book Liberal Fascism -- a book about, unsurprisingly, how liberalism is fascism. (Goldberg, sneaky little shit that he is, claimed the book wasn’t about that when hawking it in the prestige media, and mostly got away with it, though not with Jon Stewart.) Now Goldberg finds himself chased out of the top tier of conservatism by the actual fascists in his own movement. Don’t worry about him, though -- he still has his phony-baloney job at The Dispatch as well as his Asness Chair (snerk) at AEI. And eventually you’re see him again in some place of unaccountable prominence, admitting that while the Proud Boys sometimes go too far, they’re a welcome change from the protestors they’ve put in the hospital. FarrRRt

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

JONAH GOLDBERG'S I KNOW YOU ARE BUT WHAT AM I? I'll say this for him: Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism is full of fun historical facts, including these hilarious biographical details for Rabbi Michael Lerner: "When [Lerner and his bride] were married, they exchanged rings extracted from the fuselage of an American aircraft downed over Vietnam. The wedding cake was inscribed with the Weathermen motto 'Smash Monogamy.'"

But the book doesn't offer much in the way of analysis. As in his writing for National Review and elsewhere, Goldberg treats facts as dirt-clods to hurl at his opponents; the task of condensing them into a case that fascism comes out of liberalism (and that modern-day liberalism is still just a putsch short of fascist dictatorship) is well beyond him.

We get a hint at the problem early on, when Goldberg defines fascism. "Scholars have had so much difficulty explaining what fascism is because various fascisms have been so different from each other," he says. But he is unwilling to take as a guide such apparently definitive statements as Mussolini's ("the resolute negation of the doctrine underlying so-called scientific and Marxian socialism") -- even while calling Il Duce "The Father of Fascism" -- prefering instead to emphasize Mussolini's youthful enthusiasms for Marx and socialism, which Goldberg accepts as proof that Marxism, socialism, and fascism are all the same thing -- that is, liberalism.

As a perhaps semi-conscious defense of this selective reading, Goldberg notes that "as a pragmatist, [Mussolini] was constantly willing to throw off dogma, theory, and alliances whenever convenient" -- yet he doesn't seem to grasp that this statement cuts both ways; if Mussolini was just conning people when he denounced the Left, why couldn't he have been conning them when he embraced it?

So Goldberg offers his own definition:
Fascism is a religion of the state. It assumes the organic unity of the body politic and longs for a national leader attuned to the will of the people. It is totalitarian in that it views everything as political and holds that any action by the state is justified to achieve the common good. It takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being, and seeks to impose uniformity of thought and action, whether by force or through regulation and social pressure. Everything, including the economy and religion, must be aligned with its objectives. Any rival identity is part of the "problem" and therefore defined as the enemy. I will argue that contemporary American liberalism embodies all of these aspects of fascism.
If the charge at the end surprises you, you have missed a trick: by "all of these aspects," he doesn't mean all at the same time. Any little piece of the bill of particulars, regardless of context, will serve. Thus, the fact that Mussolini supported old-age pensions and a minimum wage becomes as important to understanding his fascism as hyper-nationalism and the one-party state, because "takes responsibility for all aspects of life, including our health and well-being..." appears in Goldberg's definition.

You can imagine how this figures in Goldberg's classification of the Great Society and national health care as fascist phenomena. Indeed, there isn't an American welfare program or idea in the book that Goldberg doesn't find fascist or proto-fascist (this includes George Bush's compassionate conservatism). One wonders why he failed to mention the fascist provenance of Home Relief or the Sermon on the Mount.

Once you start using history and logic so irresponsibly, anything goes. For example, when we come to Hillary Clinton, Goldberg's "First Lady of Liberal Fascism," we are offered her 1973 Yale graduate paper arguing for granting legal autonomy to children in court cases as evidence of her fascism. Many of us might question the scope of Clinton's youthful claim, but it takes a Goldberg to compare Clinton's arguments to those of Robespierre and Hitler on the grounds that they, too, advocated "'capturing' children for social engineering purposes." Goldberg follows with some characteristic broken-field running, saying that Clinton's project "is in no way a Nazi project" -- and then compares her to Stalin and Mao ("they share a sweeping vision of social justice and community and the need for the state to realize that vision").

Clinton took a side in legitimate competing interests, and the most evident legacy of her efforts may be seen in the relatively mild legal and policy efforts of the Children's Defense Fund. But Goldberg finds her fascist because "while there are light-years of difference between the programs of liberals and those of Nazis or Italian Fascists or even the nationalist progressives of yore, the underlying impulse, the totalitarian temptation is present in both." And didn't Goldberg explicitly use the word totalitarian -- in italics -- in his bill of particulars? Close counts in horseshoes and Liberal Fascism.

If you think this is rich, see what he gives Norman Lear. Yes, that's Norman Lear the TV guy. The sitcom maker's formation of People for the American Way, and his despair at "the spiritual emptiness of our culture" and "our obsession with numbers, the quantifiable, the immediate," draws this analysis from Goldberg:
Lear's cri de coeur is an almost pitch-perfect restatement of the neo-Romantic objections to modern society that inspired fascist movements across Europe and the search for 'a cause larger than ourselves' of the American Progressives. He might receive an appreciative hearing from the early Paul de Man, Ezra Pound, and countless other fascist theorists and ideologues who denounced the Western -- particularly Jewish -- obsession with numbers and technical abstraction.
From wan, warm-hearted boilerplate to fascism in two easy sentences! And it can be used on anyone who pleads for deep feeling -- even Mr. Spock! ("It is almost a biological rebellion, a profound revulsion against the planned communities, the programming, the sterilized, artfully balanced atmospheres...") Try it at home yourself!

There are many similar howlers in the book. The barbarities of Leftist radicals in the 60s -- despite Goldberg's admission that these people sought to "differentiate themselves from liberals, whom the hard left saw as too concerned with politeness, procedure, and conventional politics" -- are connected to official Democratic politics because Howard Dean once spoke nostalgically of the Civil Rights Act and Hollywood made Easy Rider. Goldberg glides over the blacklists of the 50s -- he has previously spoken sympathetically of them -- but takes care to remind us that "[Joe] McCarthy's political roots lay firmly in the Progressive Era." The Da Vinci Code is linked to "the Nazi attack on Christianity." And there are all those brain-farts ("The white male is the Jew of liberal fascism") that have been the joy and solace of Sadly, No! lo these many weeks.

Goldberg is on firmer ground documenting the often deplorable overreach of the Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt Administrations. Of course, you may have already learned about many of their atrocities from Howard Zinn, Gore Vidal, and other liberal writers. That liberals, socialists, and progressives mainly took it in the neck from Wilson doesn't bother Goldberg -- after all, the Nazis fought the Commies, and they were all fascists. And I doubt Goldberg would even acknowledge that the more coercive aspects of the Roosevelt Administration are now rejected by most liberals, and indeed mainly defended by conservatives.

And that's really what this book is about. Throughout Liberal Fascism Goldberg inserts complaints that liberals unfairly call conservatives fascists -- a slur that, in our age of blogospheric intemperance and extraordinary renditions, is even harder to escape than when hippies were yelling it. Well, he'll show them. Having heard the "Why do you think they called it National Socialism?" routine for decades, I have some idea of the depth of Goldberg's well of resentment. Though he has plowed up a lot of source material to stuff his magnum opus, that sense of ancient grievance permeates and dooms his book. Goldberg betrays a palpable need to get all his (and previous generations of American conservatives') grudges in, from Rousseau to John Kerry. And he's got to prove they're all fascists. Even a skilled polemicist would have collapsed under the weight of the task, but a skilled polemicist would have known enough to rein it in a little. Goldberg doesn't. Whenever he does manage to string a few points together, The Quest calls him unto a new absurdity.

That won't matter to the built-in market of Coulter fans and dittoheads who have already adopted Liberal Fascism, but unaffiliated readers will probably be flummoxed. As for those of us on the other side -- the real fascists, if you will -- it is, as tradition dictates, just the latest, if also the largest, of Goldberg's gifts of laughter.

Friday, September 12, 2014


Obama says ISIS is neither Islamic nor a state; about the second bit, Jonah Goldberg says [squish of foot landing in bucket, crash of head striking cabinet and dishes falling out]:
...reasonable people can quibble. The terrorist army that calls itself the Islamic State is certainly trying to build a state — and not just a state but a super state, or caliphate. They’re not there yet; their delivery of social services seems spotty at best, though they do collect taxes and uphold the law (in a fashion). 
More relevant, it doesn’t really matter if it’s a state. Morally, this weed stinks just as much whether you call it a state or a soccer league that rapes, tortures, and murders people on the side. And legally, statehood would matter — and not very much — only if the U.N. and other bodies agreed to recognize the fledgling caliphate’s legitimacy. That’s not going to happen even if the Islamic State opens up post offices and DMVs on every corner.
So, ISIS is not a state. Moving along: about the Islamic part, Jonah Goldberg says [clunk of bucket-footed running, kee-rash of body tumbling down cellar steps]:
As for its not being Islamic, that’s at best unclear, if not just clearly wrong. And the fact that the majority of its victims are Muslim is irrelevant. Lenin and Stalin killed thousands of Communists and socialists...
Yeah, and what about those altar boys those priests raped? I suppose those priests suddenly turned Protestant! Not that I blame the church, it's rilly holy.
The president faces the same dilemma that bedeviled George W. Bush, and I sympathize with him. It is not in our interest for the Muslim world to think we are at war with Islam, not just because it is untrue...
Remember that thing I said about "clearly wrong"? You don't? Good.
....but more specifically because we desperately need the cooperation of Muslim nations. That’s why Bush constantly proclaimed “Islam means peace.”
(You might want to soak your head in ice awhile before reading the rest of this.) also seems flatly wrong for an American president to be declaring what is or is not Islamic — or Christian or Jewish.
Yeah, if we can't say America is a Christian nation (butitisdon'tworryFundieswejusthavetosaythat) I guess we can't say it isn't a Christian nation either. Fair's fair.
Given the First Amendment alone, there’s something un-American in any government official simply declaring what is or is not a religion.
Well, you can do whatever you want to us, but we're not going to sit here and listen to you badmouth the United States of America.
Bush’s formulation in his September 20, 2001, address to Congress was better: “The terrorists practice a fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars and the vast majority of Muslim clerics; a fringe movement that perverts the peaceful teachings of Islam.”
And it's better because (TK) (Sorry KLO lunch went a little long and the intern went back to prison).
Regardless, I’m not the kind of purist who would object to Obama’s version — if it worked. Aeschylus first noted more than 2,400 years ago that the first casualty of war is the truth.
Remember that "not just because it is untrue" thing I said before? Oh shit, you do remember? Farrrrrt.
And if saying that the Islamic State is guilty of religious false advertising makes it easier to win a war, that’s fine by me. 
But does it work?
...In fact, maybe it’s a mistake to concede the point up front? Instead of Americans trying to persuade Muslims of the world that terrorism is un-Islamic, why shouldn’t Muslims be working harder to convince us?
I don't see Mo-hammed or whatever his name is over there doing anything to convince Jonah Goldberg he's not a terrorist. I just see him making Jonah Goldberg's sandwich. Extra bacon, please. [(whispers) You can tell how big a jihadi they are by their reaction.]
Think about it. Whenever a tiny minority of bad actors hurts the reputation of its ethnicity, faith, or cause by doing terrible things in the name of its ethnicity, faith, or cause, the responsible thing is for the moderate, decent majority to cry “Not in our name!” or “They don’t speak for us!”
How about a #NotAllMuslims hashtag? Thank you, good night, more September-October 2011 retro bullshit to come.

Friday, March 04, 2011

JONAH GOLDBERG, GAY MARRIAGE, AND CHARLIE SHEEN: LINKBAIT FOR SURE. For your edification and my sins, I have examined a video interview by James Poulos of Jonah Goldberg on the subject of -- shudder -- gay marriage.

Poulos is bothered that judges may legislate America into gay marriage. But he's an intellectual, so not for him the usual goldurn-activist-judges yak.

"The problem isn't that judges are usurping the role of legislators," he says, "but that they're really usurping the role of philosophers. So as far as I see it, there's no way to get the gay marriage outcome through the courts without basically importing a new metaphysical view into the law as it stands."

Goldberg seems to like this "metaphysic" thing -- sounds fancy! -- and so lunges, grabs it, drops it, and watches it roll through a sewer grate. This section I reproduce entire:
…we now expect judges to do things that judges are not particularly well inclined to do. If you're gonna have people decide on a new metaphysic, if you're gonna have people decide, what were the crazy Kennedy decision about the sweet mystery of life kind of thing where they're gonna define what it means to be a human being in the universe? Then why have guys who go to law school do that? I mean it's sort of crazy. Why not have philosophers on there or theologians or just all-around really wise people from different walks of life?
This confirms my suspicion that Goldberg writes his columns by dictation.

Ultimately, Goldberg would "just push [gay marriage] all the way down to the most local level possible and if states or communities that don't want to recognize gay marriage don't want to recognize it, then they don't have to and vice versa." So he's sorta okay with gay marriage so long as it comes with states' rights. Or vice-versa, which I suspect for him means "whatever."

Poulos rolls a clip of Robert Scheer discussing gay marriage and saying "people define their own sense of happiness." Aha, says Poulos: "That leap from separation of church and state to separation of our individual sense of happiness from the content of the law, this is, as you I think hinted, Planned Parenthood vs. Casey all over again" -- now Goldberg's thinking, I gotta call this guy next time I forget junk like that -- "the plurality opinion there, about sort of the mystical experience of defining your own personal happiness. The idea, though, that law has no authority to reflect an understanding about the meaning of life, that itself is a metaphysical or religious idea, isn't it?"

"This is more your stomping ground than mine," says Goldberg, clearly dazzled. "I mean, but you cannot get out of the business of establishing sort of sweeping truths -- if you say the court can't impose sweeping truths, you're essentially establishing a sweeping truth, and all those sophomoric games we can play. The thing that bothers me about this -- or one of the things, I should say…"

Among the subsequent flailings: Atheists in the 19th century would find gay marriage absurd; Barney Frank is a hypocrite because he doesn't support polygamy; and "the difference between men and women are according to every biological textbook grounded quite firmly in nature."

Also, it's "ultimately an argument about elite populism," a term new to me, which Goldberg helpfully explains: "There's just a lot of people who now have decided that they want to redefine what the institution of marriage is, and because they have numbers and influence on their side they can make an argument that actually doesn't persuade very much I think on purely rational terms simply because it's a matter of power politics." So: Elite populism occurs when lots of people support an idea, which yet remains an elite opinion because Goldberg doesn't agree with it.

Poulos interprets the Frank anecdote as a sign of "tension that exists on the left," presumably between the left's warring monogamist and polygamist factions. Then he asks Goldberg what he thinks marriage is for.

"Historically, up until about five minutes ago, marriage was for forming the core basis of the family, right?" says Goldberg. "I mean I think that's sort of evolutionarily, historically the most obvious statement. It was a matter of forming a unit of two, a team of companions..."

Poulos, showing some spine, says yeah, but what does Goldberg think? The ploy seems to unnerve Goldberg:

"I'm more open-minded about some of this stuff," he stammers. "I mean marriage ultimately is what people who are married say it is, right? At some point a lot of these political institutions, they take on the meaning that people invest in them. And I am not the guy you want to have on if you want to me to make can objective have voice of God theological argument for the institution of marriage, even though I have great respect for that version of it…"

I'll be damned: Goldberg has imbibed some of that new metaphysic, and become a squish on gay marriage! But you know it can't last:

"In the Judeo-Christian Western tradition, marriage has meant something very specific for a very long time," he remembers to say, and so "from a libertarian perspective, I have great amount of trepidation about reaching in and just yanking out and messing around with an institution like that --"

(Libertarian perspective? Forget it, he's on a roll.)

"-- when you don't know what all the consequences are. It brings to mind Chesterton's famous parable about the fence…" Oh God.

"I hear your view on this," says Poulos charitably. He agrees that everyone's going gay and "this was captured in the Oscar-nominated film The Kids Are All Right," which he finds "an icon of where I think we're at in terms of mainstream culture right now. But culture is a funny thing, right, it can be stubbornly unofficial in some ways." (I pause to appreciate this rare acknowledgement by a culture warrior that culture may not be, at least on some occasions, within reach of his lance.)

"So you can have a very tolerant or even celebratory culture toward gay marriage," Poulos continues, "where nevertheless people tacitly understand that there is some kind of qualitative difference, between a gay household and a family with a biological dad and mom and kids…" Ah, rapprochement -- you can have your gay marriage, so long as we can keep our disgust at it.

"So a lot of conservatives I think would ultimately settle for that if that's where it ended," Poulos offers, "but not a lot of liberals would settle for that, I don't think."

Goldberg seems to recognize his cue, but not what to do with it. He points out that he's been in favor of civil unions for 10 years, but are the liberals happy? No, he says; "you have the left bring up hospital visitation rights for gay couples" -- Goldberg actually smirks at this -- " for 20 years now, when this has almost always been --" A spasm of uncertainly seems to seize him: "I think there were some real horrible cases in the very beginning, but for the last 15 years it's been a complete red herring made-up thing, but it so offends people's sensibilities that you can't have the people you love in the hospital room that they want to bring it up." It's amazing how conservatives suffer in the struggle for equality, and the visitation rights thing hardly ever happens.

Suddenly Goldberg remembers he's anti-gay-marriage again! "Let's not call these things marriage," he says, "because marriage is this word and this institution with this other meaning and history." Not only that, Obama's "lying in public" about his "evolving" stand on gay marriage, because really "he's in favor of gay marriage but he wants to get there incrementally." Between this sham anti-gay-marriage stand and Goldberg's forthright if sporadic anti-gay-marriage stand, it's clear which America would endorse if liberals hadn't hornswaggled them with elite populism.

Then Goldberg remembers when gays were against marriage and just wanted to get fucked at the Ramrod, presumably based on his extensive interviews of them, and denounces Andrew Sullivan for his "pro-cruising and anonymous gay sex position, which he was in favor of simultaneously while supporting marriage, which always seemed to me a pretty damning contradiction." Poulos gets excited, states that bourgeois straights as well as gays "especially want to do this kind of oscillating back and forth between the comfy enclosures of their domestic zone and the experience of transgression that they swore off as a full-time lifestyle when they went bourgeois. Case in point, Charlie Sheen…"

Charlie Sheen! Goldberg does his bit to make things worse: "One of the reasons why we're in trouble in this country is that we don't have as healthy institutions as we should, to create more decent people," he says. "Though I still think this is an inherently decent country with vast reservoirs of -- not to keep repeating the word -- decency to draw upon, but when you have people like Charlie Sheen…"

Oh Jesus -- Charlie Sheen is what's wrong with America! Him and gay marriage! Goldberg rolls off to a second lunch, leaving Poulos to editorialize about Marxism, democracy, Plato, and Charlie Sheen, and to declare that "gay marriage is a salient issue but it's not a root issue," and to predict is "homosexuality will only be as mainstreamed, in America at least, as far as Christianity will allow it to go. Judging by the sea change in sexual attitudes we're already witnessing in the churches, that might, at least in the very near future, be rather far indeed." Always leave 'em laughing! Next week: Natalie Portman's fetus and the left's tension over abortion.