Cognitive Liberalance

At the library* over the weekend I saw a car that was plastered with bumper stickers ticking off every box in the liberal catechism–separation of church and state, gay rights, pro-choice, anti-war, etc., all of them conveyed in that smug, preachy, self-congratulatory tone that helps you understand (if you needed any help) why ‘liberal’ became a term of derision.

The best example of the tone I’m talking about was the pro-gay rights one, which read, “I’m straight but not narrow.” I’m sure the gays are thrilled to know they have such a broad-minded fellow standing behind them. I don’t recall the exact wording of any of the others, except for this: “anti-abortion and pro-war: make up your mind!”

Of course, this sticker, noting the contradictory positions of those poor dumb Republicans, sat mere inches away from an Obama sticker, apparently oblivious to the irony. I was tempted to wait for the guy to return to his car so I could suggest another sticker that said, “anti-war and pro-Democrat: get your head out of your ass!”

*Where else, except maybe in the parking lot of Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s?


War Is Not the Answer (Usually)

I know I shouldn’t be surprised by this kind of thing—and I’m not, really—but I’ll admit that every time I see or hear a liberal plumping for war I think, ‘I thought you guys were supposed to be against using violence to solve problems,’ until I remember, ‘Oh, yeah, liberals are just conservatives who love food stamps and public schools,’ and then everything comes back into focus again. And I’m not even talking about members of the professional pundit class, who are paid to toe the line of whatever party they happen to be, directly or indirectly, affiliated with. I’m talking about your regular Joe Arugula, the kind of guy who can be counted on to mouth all of the usual pieties about gay marriage and the minimum wage, and who no doubt voted for Obomba in part because he wasn’t going to drag us into some unnecessary war like that evil terrible Bush, droning on (no pun intended, of course) about chemical weapons and the Geneva conventions, and referring to Assad as a “bad guy” and suggesting that maybe, instead of firing a bunch of missiles into a country full of people, which might wind up killing a few innocent bystanders, they “bring back” the James Bond style assassination.* I guess it’s too much to expect that these people consider that a government that dumped millions of gallons of poison on one country (Agent Orange) and supported the use of nerve gas against another (Saddam, Iran), not to even mention the depleted uranium used a few years ago in Iraq, might not actually care about chemical weapons and might just being using them as a pretext to do something they’ve wanted to do all along for entirely different reasons.

*Paraphrasing a coworker who said all of the preceding this morning while talking to a neighbor in my cubicle subdivision here.

These fuckin’ Hollywood liberals

Well, I mean we open up not a can of worms, we open up an actual oil tanker of worms, in my mind, if we start talking about your opinion and my opinion of what the government should be spending money on…I could give you another three or four hours of my objections to that.  Listen, it’s about freedom of expression.

Alec Baldwin

Yes, how would we fund the military-industrial-prison-national security-spy-police state apparatus if people were free to express their opposition to such things?

Whacking Off

While I was over at Taki’s Rag checking out that Derbyshire piece about how you should avoid black people unless you want to die, or something like that, I noticed this “letter” to Henry Rollins (apparently a mock tribute to the segment of Rollins’s old IFC show in which he composed acid letters to various celebrities, e.g., Ann Coulter) over in the sidebar.  I don’t have much affinity for the Taki’s crowd, in general, but I have to admit, this strikes me as spot-on, in particular:

While you seem to think your political opinions are still perceptive and edgy, they’re mostly recognizable as the default liberal opinions of the LA set you hang with these days. But having read a few books by Howard Zinn or Noam Chomsky does not make you somehow more enlightened than the average Joe with whom you claim affinity but toward whom you actually condescend. At this point you have a lot more in common with Tori Spelling than you do with Sid Vicious.

I’ve been to two of Rollins’s verbal bludgeonings, aka “spoken-word shows,” the most memorable aspects of which were their sheer length and the numbness in my ass by the time they finally ended (I had no interest the second time, but I allowed a friend to talk me into going), and I’ve seen several episodes of the IFC show, and pretty much the exact same thought occurred to me on more than one occasion.  I remember him ranting, for instance, in the “teeing off” segment of one of the IFC episodes, about the creationists sneaking “under God” into the pledge of allegiance, as if it somehow ruined the majesty of an otherwise rousing work of poetry.

I know we’re all supposed to get more conservative as we age, and I have no idea if Rollins’s political views were ever anything beyond a half-step to the left of tepid mainstream liberalism, but all I could think the whole time was here’s the former lead singer of a punk band called Black Flag defending the integrity of the pledge of allegiance.  The pledge of fucking allegiance, for crying out loud!  Take away the tattoos, the black T-shirts, and the sudden outbursts of shouting, and you’re looking at someone whose next gig could be as the angry white dude on The View.

With peaceniks like these who needs warmongers?

I love the shameless stroking of Obama’s “national security cred”—based upon his willingness to continue to prosecute and expand upon Bush’s wars—in an article ostensibly denouncing “the warmongers” who want to attack Iran.  Obama’s “made his bones on national security” by killing children with remote control airplanes.  He might as well have said, “Hey, Mitt, how many kids have you killed with Predator drones?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.  Now sit down and shut up.”

But we’re supposed to view Obama as the only option for peace because—so far—he hasn’t launched an attack on Iran.  So what?  There were plenty of people yammering about the threat from Iran back during the Bush regime, and he didn’t attack them either.  I guess somebody should go on down to the ranch in Midland and present the man with a Nobel.

This is a variation on the pathetic argument that if Gore had been elected instead of Bush we would never have invaded Iraq, except instead of a hypothetical past reality we’re dealing with a hypothetical future reality—i.e., if Romney gets elected the tanks’ll be rolling into Tehran by Valentine’s Day.  It’s also a pretty good illustration of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of lesser-evilist Dimbot apologists.

Show me you really care

As I mentioned before, the beauty of having Ron Paul as a presidential candidate is the turd-in-the-punchbowl effect he has on the defenders of the political status quo, whether “left” or “right,” in our midst.  This time we have a nice twofer from the liberal camp (one, two), wherein we learn, among other things, that Ron Paul isn’t really a civil libertarian because his opposition to the Patriot Act and the War on Drugs isn’t based on any genuine concern for civil liberties but rather opposition to federal legislation.  Proof of this is that he also opposes the Civil Rights Act.  Now, if you assume that a federal law is the only thing standing between relative freedom for blacks and the return of Jim Crow, and that “states’ rights” is just code for “oppression of minorities,” then I guess you might have a point.  On the other hand, the Patriot Act and its various offshoots are pretty clearly about making it easier for the feds to trample on whatever rights U.S. subjects–pardon me, citizens–are still, more or less, permitted to enjoy.  Also, the implication that the War on Drugs is somehow not a civil rights issue, especially considering how it disproportionately screws over blacks, is just absurd (not to mention ironic, coming from people who are apparently so concerned about the welfare of the poor and minorities).

Even more ridiculous, though, is the idea that he’s not actually anti-war.  It’s just that he doesn’t care enough about foreigners to drop bombs on them.  No, seriously:

But the nature of his anti-war stance is fundamentally different from that of liberal opposition to any given war. The tipoff is in his opposition to foreign aid, and his anti-United Nations position: he’s anti-war because the rest of the world just isn’t worth it.

And what exactly does “liberal opposition to any given war” mean in practice?  Voting for a “peace” candidate, who, once in office, proceeds to continue prosecuting the wars liberals oppose while expanding them into new areas?  At least ABL is honest when she writes, “So, am I monster for caring more about my uterus and the rights of minorities and the underclass than I am about the victims of drone strikes in a foreign land? Maybe. But I’m ok with it.”

Not to get too into trying to divine motive here, but it sure seems like the real problem is that certain liberals just hate seeing a conservative take a more principled stance on their issues, while their savior, the glorious Obamalord, continues to prove that he has no principles.

But even if it’s all true, and Paul really doesn’t give two shits about civil liberties and it’s just all about hating the federal government—who cares?   If you’re rotting in jail on drug charges and somebody comes along and tells you you’re free to go, are you going to question their motives before you agree to leave?  Only if you’re a fool.  Or a liberal, apparently.

The Libertarian Menace

Is it me, or have there been an inordinate number of anti-libertarian diatribes in the media these days (sorry, no links)?  I realize that Ron Paul’s running for president again, but judging by all the soiled liberal drawers lying around you might think a horde of libertarians were marching on Washington as we speak.

Here’s another one, which posits that libertarianism is incompatible with democracy and is therefore a natural ally of right-wing autocracies because a few leading 20th-Century libertarians had good things to say about Mussolini and Pinochet, because libertarians tend to have elitist disdain for democracy, and because voters in modern democratic states overwhelming reject libertarian policies.  Okay.  Without getting into whether libertarianism is really right-wing, or whether Hayek and Milton Friedman are its most suitable representatives, or whether the voting results from Coke v. Pepsi democratic elections tell us much of anything about anything, I’d just say that finding an ideological hack or two willing to toss their supposed principles aside for a little taste of power isn’t exactly an argument against an entire political philosophy.  And if it is, then modern liberalism, which this piece implicitly defends, is in even worse shape than libertarianism.  And no, not because some liberals in the 1930s were apologists for Stalin, but because a lot of liberals in 2011 are apologists for Obama’s expansion of Bush’s “illegal wars,” his consolidation and expansion of Bush’s executive power grabs, his selling out to Bush’s Wall St. and Bush’s insurance companies and…so on.  Jonah Goldberg isn’t wrong about liberals.  He just forgot to mention that conservatives are fascists, too.

Then there’s this nugget:

But civil libertarian activists are found overwhelmingly on the left. Their right-wing brethren have been concerned with issues more important than civil rights, voting rights, abuses by police and the military, and the subordination of politics to religion — issues like the campaign to expand human freedom by turning highways over to toll-extracting private corporations and the crusade to funnel money from Social Security to Wall Street brokerage firms.

Really?  Who aside from Glenn Greenwald is writing about civil liberties issues from the left?  As for their “right-wing brethren,” what about Radley Balko, or Will Grigg, who writes regularly about police abuse for, which in a lot of ways comes pretty close to the right-wing caricature on parade here?  Just because they tend not to dress these issues up in the garb of identity politics doesn’t mean they’re not concerned with “civil rights.”  And libertarians are easily as good on anti-militarism as “the left.”

But this is the best:

Unfortunately for libertarians who, like Hayek, prefer libertarian dictatorships to welfare-state democracies, even modern authoritarians reject the small-government creed. The most successful authoritarian capitalist regimes, such as today’s China and South Korea and Taiwan before their recent transitions to democracy, have been highly interventionist in economics, promoting economic growth by means of state-controlled banking, state-owned enterprises, government promotion of cartels, suppression of wages and consumption, tariffs and nontariff barriers to imports, toleration of intellectual piracy, massive infrastructure projects to help industry, and subsidies to manufacturers in the form of artificially cheap raw materials, energy and land.

A liberal invoking China’s authoritarian state-capitalism as an argument for welfare-state democracy, and, even better, at the end of an article that attempts to discredit libertarianism in part by citing some of its adherents’ support for authoritarian regimes.  (Hey, I hear Kim Jong Il is no fan of libertarianism either.  You see?)  I wonder if it’s ever occurred to Lind that things like “government promotion of cartels,” “suppression of wages,” and “subsidies to manufacturers in the form of artificially cheap raw materials, energy and land” are what’s causing the problems that the welfare-state is designed to ameliorate.  The only question that remains to be settled is why anyone should pay attention to liberals.

A Faithful Servant of Big Money

This is how Joe Conason describes Mitch McConnell, apparently for acknowledging that the US defaulting on its debts might be bad for “the economy.”  Conason then turns around and chastises those childish Republicans in congress for listening to the “mindless ravings of Michele Bachmann” instead of the “expert opinion” of Ben Bernanke, Wall Street’s very own man in Washington.  (In another nice bit of irony, he says that the Republicans are suffering from “political schizophrenia”—this coming from a liberal who’s worried about the banks getting their interest payments.)

Here’s Conason again, flogging away at those “dysfunctional” tea partiers who want to stand on their silly principles rather than heed the sage advice of the grown-ups in the room:

They could listen to ultraconservative senators like Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.—members of the Gang of Six/Seven whose own profound ideological hostility to Obama and the Democrats still leaves space for prudence.

Or they could listen to more than 60 business groups, from the National Association of Manufacturers and the Chamber of Commerce to the Telecommunications Industry Association and the American Gas Association, all fearful of the consequences of default.

Yes, the prudent position is the one where you borrow more money to pay off your debts.  Tightening the budget, on the other hand, is wild-eyed recklessness.  I mean, those defense contractors need to survive, too!  We wouldn’t want to put Raytheon out on the street, now would we?  Oh, sorry, I meant Granny—we wouldn’t want to put Granny out on the street.  Because the best way to ensure Granny’s financial security is for the fed gov to keep borrowing and inflating the currency until she can barely afford a bag of chips with her measly $200 social security check.

Can we dispense with the fiction already that the Republicans are the party of Wall Street and the Democrats are the party of the little man?

Willy and the Rich Boys

While visiting some relatives a week or so ago, the subject of Chelsea Clinton’s wedding came up.  One of my relatives expressed genuine disappointment, even disbelief, at the fact that the Clintons would throw such an extravagant bash for their daughter’s wedding.

Now, this person is pretty much your standard-issue liberal, and a bit of a bleeding heart type, and the idea, I suppose, is that, with all the poverty and suffering in the world, dropping a few million dollars on a wedding was in poor taste and that the Clintons, of all people, should know better.  I understand the part about the decadence, but what I don’t get is how anyone would expect anything less (or more) from the Clintons.  Bill, in particular, is a starfucker extraordinaire, a man for whom the presidency wasn’t much more than a springboard to wealth and celebrity, notwithstanding the empty “feel your pain” bullshit and the occasional photo-op for a disaster relief project with his fellow ex-imperial chieftains, Bush I and II.  When I think of Bill Clinton, I think of a man dry-humping Bono in front of a camera or hanging out with Mick Jagger at the World Cup, not someone out trying to save the world (like, say, another former president, the peanut farmer guy who was disinvited to the 2008 Donkey Convention for having the gall to criticize the U.S. policy of neverending war).  At any rate, at the very least you shouldn’t be surprised when somebody who actively and publicly cultivates relationships with celebrities, and who is himself a celebrity, actually behaves like a celebrity.


Two bumper stickers that I’ve seen recently:

Every abortion stops a beating heart

Mean people make little mean people

Now, assuming the driver of the car sporting the first sticker is a conservative (a longshot, no doubt), I think it would be helpful to point out to this person that Hellfire missiles stop beating hearts, too, with the crucial difference that Hellfire missiles often stop several beating hearts at once, so they’re arguably worse than abortions, if what we’re actually concerned with is the loss of human life.  Of course, the moral outrage of conservatives tends to be somewhat selective, with the lives of the “innocent” ranking higher than those of the post-natal variety.  As George Carlin put it: “Before you’re born, we love you; after you’re born, fuck you.”

The second sticker is a variant of the old “Mean people suck” sticker, and I’m going to assume, in spite of its ostensibly politically neutral message, that this one belongs to a liberal.  Why?  Because, seriously, who but a liberal would even think such a whiny, crybaby thought, much less drive around advertising it on the back of his car?  (Also, the fact that it was on the back of a Prius pretty much guarantees that we’re talking about a liberal, since no self-respecting conservative would be caught dead driving a car that got more than 12 mpg highway.)  These are the people who write letters to NPR telling about how “offended” they were by a particular story—for having the gall to entertain views that were an outrage to their delicate, infinitely refined  sensibilities (in other words, views they disagree with)—and who would apparently like to see the world turned into a giant daycare center, where everyone is wet-nursed to death and the mean kids have to sit in time-out.