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?

Advertisements

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 LewRockwell.com, 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.