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In the in box

You know, the Journolist “scandal” was pretty weird. Tom Tomorrow has a sane perspective on it all, but even for seasoned culture-war observers like me, it was surprising.  I mean, I can understand wingnuts getting all spittle-flecked about Michelle Obama going to Spain or feeding homeless people who happen to own cellphones.  But shrieking and pearl-clutching about the fact that liberalish writers had a liberalish listserv on which they debated liberalish things liberally?  Really?  That’s more of an outrage than gay marriage or having to press “one” for English?

One thing wasn’t surprising, though: the guy who “broke” the “story,” Tucker Carlson, was the very guy Ezra Klein was thinking about adding to the listserv.  Evidently, Ezra thought Carlson was one of those “reasonable conservatives” with whom it is possible to have a “dialogue.” Don’t get me wrong—I’m sure they exist somewhere in the American mass media, because people keep telling me they do.  But I doubt whether Ezra or anyone else is going to make that mistake with Tucker again. 

There’s a little story I like to tell about encounters like this.  You may have heard it before—it’s the story of what happened to the “liberal” journalist in the PC wars:  one day in 1991 he came across a right-wing attack dog who was nosing around the dumpsters in the back of the American Enterprise Institute, barking about all this crazy deconstruction and radical feminism that leftist professors were foisting on unsuspecting American undergraduates.  “Gee, I hate deconstruction and radical feminism too,” thought the liberal journalist.  “This right-wing attack dog doesn’t seem so bad.” So he brought the dog home, gave him a big, ten-thousand-word spread in the Atlantic, a regular spot on a half-hour cable opinion show, and a plate of leftover steak scraps.  “I’ll call him ‘Fluffy,’” said the liberal journalist.  But imagine the journalist’s surprise a few days later, when his dog Fluffy began barking that liberal journalists were “traitorous scum”!  “But I fed you and gave you a home,” said the liberal journalist, mortally wounded.  “Yeah,” replied Fluffy, “but what did you expect?  Come on—I’m a right-wing attack dog.”

Anyway, the Journolist “scandal” has now metastasized, thanks to Free Republic, and apparently my name, along with 150 or so other names, is all over the interwebs.  Yes, I’ve been found out.  And how?  Because of the super sleuthing of one BuckeyeTexan in Freeperville: yes, this intrepid fellow has found the seekrit “open letter” a bunch of people published on the Internets and in the Nation back in 2008.  From there, it was only a matter of time before someone else connected the dots from that open letter to George Soros, ACORN, Saul Alinsky, the New Black Panther Party, the Democratic Socialists of America, and “the D.S.A.’s ‘brain,’ the Washington DC-based, far left ‘think tank,’ the Institute for Policy Studies.” (Real quote!  I couldn’t make that up—I’m not that creative.)

And from there, it was only a matter of time before I received this email.  I know, I don’t often publish the emails I receive, and by “not often” I mean “never.” But this one was just about perfect, and gave me Wingnut Bingo three different ways:

There is and old saying, “you can judge someone by the friends they hang out with”.  In the case, of your secret online chat with your comrades in arms gives me an indication of the idiot, arrogant, “intellectually-challenged” class who call themselves journalist.

The bigger point I want to make is that those journalist with progressive ideas are the most stupidest assholes in the world.  The know nothing about economics, international relations, taxation, and how everyday human beings live.  Their progressive thinking is based on utopian ideas that have no basis in reality.  They failed with Marxism and they failed with Socialism.  Included in this class are tenured professors who think their shit doesn’t stink.  They can be compared to the aristocracy during the French Revolution and should come to the same fate.

I read some of the articles these people have written in the Huffington Post, New York Times, etc.  I saying to myself, these people are idiots, they are stupid.  It is apparent, amoebas have more critical thinking skills than these morons.

They are so full of class envy, they are race baiters, they are whiners, etc.  This is why this nation is going downhill because they have an asshole in Washington that is so pathetically stupid because he makes bad policy decisions based on ideology, which is reflective of your comrades in arms.

Discovering the Journolist was the ultimate stab in the back by those idiots who the have inability to establish dialogue with those of opposing points of view.  The alternative is to stab people in the back with lies, just like what Joseph Goebbel did.  They have done a great disservice to freedom of the press and to this country.

If the idiots had their way, they piss on our Constitution, steal the wealth of the productive class and turn our country into a dictatorship.

Thank goodness for the 2nd Amendment because there are many citizens who would have no hesitancy in taking the fuckers down along with their families and blowing their fucking brains out.  They want anarchy they will have it.

The people of this country are not going to put up with the shit these morons dish out.  This is why the majority of people do not listen to the mainstream media.  You can listen to idiots for so long before you shut them out.

Shorter angry email guy: we need to kill liberals because they don’t engage in dialogue.  The “stab in the back” is a nice touch, though.  It’s almost as if he’s been reading Kevin Baker!

I actually do have a response to this kind of thing ... you know, being committed to dialogue as I am.  I’ll tell you what it is on Monday.  In the meantime, kudos, Mr. Tucker Carlson!  I think you’ve won the right to say mission accomplished.

Posted by on 08/13 at 09:38 AM
  1. Well, this is the basic problem I have with the rhetorical stance of this blog.  Emails like the one this creep sent are not actually funny.  Mocking them is not actually funny.  When someone shows up threatening that there are people out there who want to shoot you and your family, you have two basic choices—you can either dismiss them as you’d dismiss the mentally deranged homeless person who mumbles about killing people but who you know probably won’t ever do anything, or you can react seriously. 

    Reacting seriously means calling the police, perhaps, but even if you assume that this guy is an Internet blowhard and the police won’t care, it’s still incitement to right-wing violence.  As a Jew, and given Jewish history, I don’t find it funny.  Oh yeah Godwin and all that.  But just because our society is deranged to the point where this sounds like acceptable political discourse doesn’t mean that it is.  Someone has to eventually respond with something other than snark.  Don’t they?

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  11:47 AM
  2. I think that “most stupidest assholes in the world” is the most awesome writing I’ve seen in a long time, maybe ever.

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  11:47 AM
  3. I wonder how getting whipped in two straight elections figures into this fellow’s conspiracy theories.

    I forget, did FOX News report on the 2008 election outcome? I can’t remember.

    Posted by Martin  on  08/13  at  12:17 PM
  4. They failed with Marxism and they failed with Socialism.

    This lovely fellow has, at least, a leg up on Goldberg and the majority of professional conservatives in that he recognizes that these are two different things.

    Posted by SEK  on  08/13  at  12:24 PM
  5. I’ll tell you what it is on Monday.

    Will there be mention of Proctor & Gamble?

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  01:08 PM
  6. I hope there won’t be mention of Proctor & Gamble.  That whole P & G series basically said that people who spread these stories are knowingly lying, vicious falsifiers who do this because it makes them feel better, when they aren’t doing it because it directly benefits them—i.e,, they are scum.  And somehow that got transmogrified, in the minds of many of its liberal readers, to the same bit about them being dupes that the articles said wasn’t true, except now they were dupes of—social forces?  Their “innocent” desire to be part of a community, however vicious?  I don’t know what.

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  01:18 PM
  7. Wait, this means that you were part of [DUN-dun-DUUUUUN!] Journolist.  Where’s the prominent statement of this fact on your blog, ideally using the <FLASH> tag?

    the Democratic Socialists of America

    Wait a little bit more, weren’t you actually in this one?  Which means you could also have collaborated with the others on that list, without disclosing such conflicts of interest on your blog using a <FLASH> tag.

    And somehow that got transmogrified, in the minds of many of its liberal readers, to the same bit about them being dupes that the articles said wasn’t true, except now they were dupes of—social forces?  Their “innocent” desire to be part of a community, however vicious?

    Well, the commentariat at Fred Clark’s Slacktivist when he deals with this phenomenon don’t seem to be quite so Kum-ba-yah.  But many of them are religious in a way that makes them frustrated by their brethren.  Just as being a former fundamentalist Christian, with family still on the inside, gives me sufficient perspective to make me an insomniac.  Yes, a bunch of these people really do want liberals, Muslims, gays, etc., to be killed in order to protect their deranged vision of “America,” but simply lack the courage to act without sufficient mob or governmental approval.  Nonexistent heaven protect us if they increase their influence sufficiently, especially during rocky economic times.

    Still, as a fan of Brazil and other black comedies, I can spare a chuckle for an e-mail screed that looks like it was the result of pushing Chinese symbols under a door.  If I stopped laughing, I wouldn’t stop crying.

    Everyone enjoy the weekend.

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  02:43 PM
  8. Posted by  on  08/13  at  03:29 PM
  9. Yes thank goodness for the 2nd amendment which protected the right of a 5 year old to shoot and kill his 5 year old twin brother here in Chicago this week.


    Posted by  on  08/13  at  03:35 PM
  10. Ah, IPS as the brain of the left—I feel a wave of nostalgia.

    To pick up on Rich’s points, the reasoning generating this screed/threat is: (a) why does the government not reflect my politics (b) because there’s an elite that twists reality, so (c) said elites are my mortal enemy.  This fits the pattern of political antisemitism.  It’s also a license to lie given the assumption of mortal struggle but also, more insidiously, the idea that reality itself is in play, so who can know what’s true.  This seems a little different from the P&G story.

    I’m struck by the way the letter moves from the prissy “inability to establish dialogue with those of opposing points of view” to the more direct language of threat.

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  03:42 PM
  11. I must confess to being a bit charmed by the artless naivete of the emailer’s essay-composing skills. They are just like those of incoming freshmen who struggle with writing—the same way of opening with a quotation, the same gear-grinding transitions, the same not-quite-but-almost-an-essay organization—one cringes but feels proud of the writer who made this effort so earnestly.

    Except, of course, that freshmen are not threatening anyone’s lives in their essays. Being totally evil is the only difference.

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  03:43 PM
  12. Thanks to mds and rm for their responses.  I don’t want to divert the thread any more, so I’ll say nothing more about that for now.

    But what did I mean by seriousness, up at the top?  Well, let me go back to the archetypal conflict that I think of in these contexts—the one between José Millán-Astray y Terreros and Miguel de Unamuno. There’s a fairly description at the wiki page here—scroll down to the “Confrontation with Unamuno” section.  I’ll see if I can get blockquote to work.

    But now I have heard this insensible and necrophilous oath, “¡Viva la Muerte!”, and I, having spent my life writing paradoxes that have provoked the ire of those who do not understand what I have written, and being an expert in this matter, find this ridiculous paradox repellent. General Millán-Astray is an invalid. There is no need for us to say this with whispered tones. He is an invalid of war. So was Cervantes. But unfortunately, Spain today has too many invalids. And, if God does not help us, soon it will have very many more. It torments me to think that General Millán-Astray could dictate the norms of the psychology of the masses. An invalid, who lacks the spiritual greatness of Cervantes, hopes to find relief by adding to the number of invalids around him.”

    Millán-Astray responded: “¡Muera la inteligencia! ¡Viva la Muerte!” ("Death to intelligence! Long live death!"), provoking applause from the Falangists. Pemán, in an effort to calm the crowd, exclaimed “¡No! ¡Viva la inteligencia! ¡Mueran los malos intelectuales!” ("No! Long live intelligence! Death to the bad intellectuals!")

    Unamuno continued: “This is the temple of intelligence, and I am its high priest. You are profaning its sacred domain. You will succeed, because you have enough brute force. But you will not convince. In order to convince it is necessary to persuade, and to persuade you will need something that you lack: reason and right in the struggle. I see it is useless to ask you to think of Spain. I have spoken.”

    Tucker Carlson is encouraging killers, via the Orcinus-described method of putting right-wing tropes into the mainstream.  But he is not a figure with the gravity of General Millán-Astray.  The incoherent Email writer is not a Falangist.  It’s tempting to dismiss them as evil clowns and be done with it.  Certainly, it only looks ridiculous to elevate these relatively ineffectual figures into historical bogeymen.

    But, you know, when Unamuno was confronted with the final result of the rhetoric of people like Tucker Carlson—when he said the last things he’d really ever say, since he died in house arrest ten weeks later—his mode of response wasn’t something about Wingnut Bingo.  You can’t find a “Shorter” for “Death to intelligence” ...

    Maybe something serious will never need to be said.  I hope so!  But I don’t even know what it is, what it could be.

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  04:52 PM
  13. Where’s the prominent statement of this fact on your blog

    Unlike Eric Boehlert... As for stating the obvious that is oblivious to “them that are so concerned,” Jon Stewart reminded the audience the other night that no matter how you wish to spin it, China is still a communist country (and one to whom we owe more than a trillion dollars).

    3.5.1.  paging Archibald Buttle, Archibald Buttle to the red telephone…

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  05:03 PM
  14. MB,

    You do Mickey Kaus a disservice, because that ol’ goat blower, as the kids say, drove the first iteration of Journolist party poopin’, subsequently followed by the Weigel thing and Tucker time. Tuck a l’orange we like to call him due to his Neutrogena bronze.

    Posted by Pinko Punko  on  08/13  at  05:31 PM
  15. a href="http://conservapedia.com/Counterexamples_to_Relativity">Death to <Intelligence</a>

    Because when the stupid gets stupid, it knows no bounds.

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  05:32 PM
  16. Sadly, neither MB nor any other Journolist members whatsoever even make it to the top 25 on this list, appropriately topped by History’s Greatest Monster.

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  05:47 PM
  17. I love how McVeigh is on that list, JP.  Wow.

    Posted by Pinko Punko  on  08/13  at  08:08 PM
  18. I find myself agreeing with Rich at Crooked Timber a lot, but invoking one’s Jewishness when arguing that to crack wise about life-and-death issues and to ridicule oppressors is not to take them seriously? That Michael must not have called law enforcement, because he ridiculed his attacker? I’m afraid I’ll have to ask Jew Protective Services to revoke the man’s “As a Jew” card. Seriously, Rich, read a book about Jewish humor. And thank G-d that Michael’s outrage motivates him to give these people the ridicule they deserve.

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  09:33 PM
  19. Tuck a l’orange we like to call him due to his Neutrogena bronze

    His l’orange is a meek and pale facsimile of young John Boenher. And for asking for the mercy killing of Senators, we have this story from .... drum roll.... downtown Spokane:

    The resulting atmosphere is such that you get episodes like this one, in which a perfectly normal-seeming consitutent, a business owner, told Dino Rossi, the GOP candidate for Senate in Washington, that both the state’s Dem Senators should be “shot”:

    One woman, the owner of two gyms and a temporary-employment agency, was venting about a pro-union bill supported by Murray when she blurted out: “She ought to be shot. Murray and (Sen. Maria) Cantwell ought to be shot.”

    Rossi quickly pointed out a reporter in the room, and then said, “That’s not really what you meant.” The businesswoman quickly agreed: “I didn’t mean that.”

    Gary Sargent blogging

    Posted by  on  08/13  at  09:53 PM
  20. JP,

    What’s great about that list is they can’t even add properly. Michael Moore got the same number of votes as the Clintonistas but got a better ranking.

    I guess this is the same kind of fuzzy math that the right uses to criticize the democrats after Reagan and Bush II ran up the biggest deficits in history.

    Let’s not let the real math get in the way of a good story.


    Posted by  on  08/13  at  10:55 PM
  21. I don’t have anything to add, but my captcha word is “hell”, and I just can’t pass that up. Besides, it does seem appropriate somehow (as it is with most topics addressing the right wing loony bin).

    Posted by  on  08/14  at  12:12 AM
  22. Just back from a day of wandering around a Major Urban Center with Jamie, and still making my way through the thread.  But before I turn in for the night, I just wanted to say how grateful I am that Rich Puchalsky kicked this off with his basic problem with the wide rhetorical stance of this blog.  And no, I am not being “snarky” or “ironic.” Or irenic!  I $%&*ing hate irenic.

    Posted by Michael  on  08/14  at  12:38 AM
  23. Goodnight Irenic.

    Perhaps I’m being overly sensitive, but at least as written and headlined right now (referred to in the headline as the “Ground Zero mosque"), they’ve spun this to read, “Obama to 68% of Americans, you suck.”

    Posted by  on  08/14  at  01:48 AM
  24. Well, Josh may be right when he says that I’m losing track of my ethnic heritage of coping devices.  But is the Email guy an “oppressor”?  No.  He’s just a thug.  Writing threats of violence over the Internet doesn’t make him powerful, it just makes him a loser who’s quite possibly going to end up in jail.  Cracking jokes about oppressors is ones of the things that you do when you’re powerless.

    Is Tucker Carlson?  Well, again no.  He’s not yet Father Coughlin, much as he’d like to be.  I’m as guilty of blurring these lines as anyone else, given that I’m bringing up Unamuno, but the political reality is that right now, we’ve won.  Insofar as it is possible to win in our system, and insofar as Obama and the Democrats are “left” (not very), we don’t really get to shrug and say what can you do about oppressors except laugh.

    In a comment box here, years ago, I argued with Michael about the rhetoric of mockery.  He wrote, pretty convincingly I thought, that it was a good answer to people who would be heartened by no response, and who didn’t deserve a serious response.  When someone makes up e.g. a ridiculous conspiracy theory about you, you don’t want to say nothing—that was the lesson of the Clinton/Gore years and the unopposed right wing noise machine.  But it’s impossible to dignify this stupidity with a serious answer, or, at least, doing so makes you look like you’re overreacting.  Un-cool.  Or you get sucked into a media he said/she said where they assume that the truth is somewhere in the middle of your serious response and the serious ridiculous conspiracy theory.

    So, I’m not really sure what’s best.  I’ll put down the Jew card that Josh has called a penalty on and just say that personally, I think that there’s something wrong about having to fall back on devices like “Shorter” in this context.  It’s like when Henry Farrell wrote his post about Journolist, he did it in complete Crooked Timber style.  Is there a style that will even express, you know, outrage?

    Posted by  on  08/14  at  09:13 AM
  25. It is apparent, amoebas have more critical thinking skills than these morons.

    I was going to make a joke about how an amoeba and a paramecium walk into a bar, but then I read Rich’s comments and so I’m going to wait until Monday. 

    Captcha: “going” as in “Hell, I must be”

    Posted by John Protevi  on  08/14  at  09:28 AM
  26. That should be “Hello, I must be”

    Paging Dr Freud!

    Or Dr Faustus.

    Posted by John Protevi  on  08/14  at  09:29 AM
  27. Well, JP, the President invited misunderstanding with this hopelessly muddy statement:

    “Let me be clear: as a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country,”

    He should have said we should Stay The (Constitutional) Course, that these embittered dead enders can Bring It On and America will prevail. He should use the language of, you know, the people.

    Out here in the heartland we recently experienced a perfect shitstorm of right wing fantasy. A Baptist church member desecrates an American flag protesting homosexuality at a military funeral and the Nebraska Supreme Court tells prosecutors to back off because of the Constitution.

    Captcha: medical. I think I got Oaktown Girl’s word and she got mine. Out here we prefer “heck” to “hell”.

    Posted by  on  08/14  at  10:11 AM
  28. Good gracious, what’s a person to do upon receiving a death threat?  The obvious, straightforward thing to do would be to find the guy and kill him first.

    But there are all sorts of problems with that, many of them involving morals or whatever, but for me, the biggest problem is that I just get so mad, because I only have so many neural cells and synapses and other brain stuff, and I hate it when I waste them ruminating on the implications of the imprecations from a proud would-be citizen-assassin.

    On the other hand, you have to be prepared.  Gah.

    Posted by  on  08/14  at  01:46 PM
  29. For a while, in my ute (okay, middle-aged 35+ years old, but still a long time ago), i had boxes of ammo laying around my house (my job as a summertime State Park Ranger/Lifeguard).  Those Reagan/Bush years really started to piss me off, so i began to put names on bullets.  I went back to the 50s even, with some of the riper elements of US wars on other peoples cultures.  Then, when we had to go out to the range for fire arms qualifying, i would take a box and blow em away (human targets and all).  It was a regular exercise that placated my anger at the time.  As inconceivable as it is, now is worse, and a box of ammo just doesn’t cut it anymore (though i still put some names on a few in case i go out to the range).

    Posted by  on  08/14  at  03:46 PM
  30. There is an attempt in the emailer’s composition to go full circle on the fecal/waste theme in the email: we (tenured professors) think our shit doesn’t stink so we (morons) try to dish said shit out to real Americans. And piss on the Constitution as a kind of appetizer, I guess.

    It kind of reminds me of the coprophagic passages in Gravity’s Rainbow or Naked Lunch except, you know, not very good.

    Posted by  on  08/16  at  07:34 AM
  31. I’m particularly impressed by the emailer’s ability to compare Journolist members to French aristocrats in one breath only to accuse them of “class envy” in another.

    Posted by  on  08/16  at  09:39 AM
  32. Crap, I need a new internet pseudonym now that the Orange Men with bottle/spray tans are ruining a perfectly good color name.

    The editor in me ticked off the language errors and infelicitous wordings in that hate mail and I lost count. Oy! How many people “have the inability”? “Lack the ability” is so much better.

    A panhandler on the Times Square Shuttle subway this weekend told my kid, “Edjumication is the most important thing.” But he said that knowingly, making a deliberate word choice for effect. I fear Michael’s correspondent doesn’t have a clue his writing isn’t clear and correct.

    Captcha: “longer,” meaning that the old ‘70s song “Longer Than” is now earworming into my head. (You’re welcome.)

    Posted by Orange  on  08/16  at  11:04 AM
  33. My only comment here (while we wait - is it Monday yet?) is my captcha: indeed.

    Posted by Dave Maier  on  08/16  at  12:30 PM
  34. I’m back again to report that my new captcha is “larger.” Since when did the captcha box have some sort of phallic obsession? I bet the next one is “girth.”

    Posted by Orange  on  08/16  at  02:59 PM
  35. Captcha words brought to you by Cialis.

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  09:59 AM
  36. I can’t believe my current captcha word is “wanted” rather than “adjacentbathtubs.”

    Posted by Orange  on  08/17  at  10:07 AM
  37. Adjacent bathtubs!  Now where’s mds with his guitar?  Probably wasting his time in the next thread, that’s where....

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  03:34 PM
  38. I’m back again to report ... my new ...  phallic obsession ... girth ... wanted ... adjacentbathtubs.

    Chicka-Wow Chicka-Wow Wow!

    Posted by  on  08/17  at  03:45 PM
  39. Indeed.  (Captcha: required.  Well, duh.)

    Posted by Dave Maier  on  08/17  at  08:20 PM
  40. i had boxes of ammo laying around my house (my job as a summertime State Park Ranger/Lifeguard)

    Armed lifeguards?

    “You in the water! Stop drowning or I shoot!”

    Posted by  on  08/18  at  11:18 AM
  41. For scoffing naysayers like ajay, I only have one word: landsharks.

    Posted by  on  08/18  at  11:56 AM
  42. Plastic landsharks.

    Posted by  on  08/18  at  10:00 PM
  43. I admit it; I really can’t hear “stab people in the back” and a Nazi mentioned in the same sentence without thinking of the Dolchstosslegende.

    Posted by Skyborne  on  08/20  at  03:53 AM





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