Warning: Cheap Shot Ahead


Jonah Goldberg on McCarthyism: "McCarthy behaved like a jerk, but he was also right."

Jonah Goldberg on anti-Semitism: "Chris Matthews…talks about Jews in the administration the way Tailgunner Joe talked about Communists in the State Department."

Hmm. What are you trying to tell us, Jonah?


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  1. I see where this is headed, but I don’t think Jonah is capable of syllogistic reasoning.

  2. Extremely weak.

  3. As if Goldberg never takes cheap shots! Let me just say that every time I can recall seeing Goldberg use the word “libertarian,” it’s been to set up a cheap shot of one kind or another, usually at expense of libertarians. He seems to think that the targets of his barbs have little or no sense of humor if they don’t laugh along with him. Hey, I laughed the first few (hundred?) times, but his approach quit being funny after a while. I might start laughing again if I ever once saw him accord libertarians some respect that wasn’t backhanded. I suppose it could happen someday. I’m not holding my breath, though.

  4. Jews in the adminisration might be insulted by Jonah Goldberg but his reasoning is so weak that he’ll never figure out why. Actually their more likley to be embarrassed and I’m sure Chris Matthews is just amused. With friends like Jonah…

  5. Reading comprehension, anyone?

    “McCarthy was right” and “so-and-so talks about Jews as if they were Communists, which is wrong” are not contradictory or hypocritical statements. Communism is an evil and oppressive ideology that sought, and seeks, to overthrow democracy in the United States; Judaism isn’t, and doesn’t. Talking about Communists the way McCarthy talked about Communists (on the infrequent occasions when he actually found any) is fine; talking about loyal Americans of the “wrong” ethnicity the way McCarthy talked about Communists isn’t.


  6. Jesse is continuously posting alleged contradictions other bloggers or presidents have made, that actually aren’t. I worry about the little guy. https://www.reason.com/jwmain1.shtml

  7. “…and…Reich are among the Jewish noses I’ve counted…” hmmmm; it’s a good thing for Jonah that he’s Jewish or he’d be facing a JDL firing squad right about n-n-n-n-n-NOW! Anybody remember Roy Cohn?

  8. Classic. Sometimes I wonder if Goldberg ever thinks before he posts.

  9. First of all, the Simpsons is past its prime by eight or nine seasons, but it’s currently enjoying a burst of quality it hasn’t had since, say, Season 9. Even at its worst it’s still the best show on television.

    Second, Jonah Goldberg is a jerk, and merits a moderately intellectually dishonest cheap shot every now and then, because moderately intellectually dishonest cheap shots are his chosen milieu.

  10. Lefty, Kevin’s website is here. There is some interesting stuff here, although if I were an anarchist, I would probably be more of the David Friedman type.

  11. Duh, Jim and Lefty. Kevin has the top post on this thread. You could have just clicked on his name.

  12. Jonah only thinks about whether he needs to throw in either a beer or Simpsons reference in an attempt to appear au courant.

  13. Thanks, Joe and Jim.

    Lefty, the only kind of Communism I can accept is anarcho-communism based on voluntary association. And if such communism is voluntary, it will just be another form of interaction within a free market society. It will have to coexist with money exchange, unless the market is actually suppressed.

    Do you believe it can ever be moral for a collective to prohibit an individual from producing for the market and selling for whatever medium of exchange both parties agree to?

  14. Kevin,

    “Do you believe it can ever be moral for a collective to prohibit an individual from producing for the market and selling for whatever medium of exchange both parties agree to?” It depends on the morality of what he’s producing, how he produces, etc. If it’s just an attempt to establish monopoly or cronyism, then no. But forbidding polluting or otherwise harmful processes or products, then maybe.

  15. Keep going, guys. Jonah is the guy you’re supposed to feel good about putting down.

    But it’s a trick.

  16. Memo to Usually-clever-Reason-staffers:

    Translation: He’s saying that Chris Matthews is acting like a jerk.

    IF, with all the pudding-brained commentary available on the wonderful WWW, trying to pick a fight with Jonah Goldberg is your best idea, maybe you should use a little more of that “Reason” you’re so proud of.

  17. Lefty,
    Do the Star Trek folks have mortgages? Yes and no. In “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” Jillian says to Kirk “Let me guess, you don’t have money in the 23rd century” “Well..we don’t!” he responds sheepishly. Then In “Star Trek: Generations” he tells Picard “It’s OK, it’s my house. At least, it used to be…I sold it years ago…” SOLD IT???? Bottom line: Star Trek is fantasy, just like Communism.

  18. In defense of all the clueless posters, they’re just trying to find some way to make Jesse’s blog entry make sense. It’s classic cognitive dissonance, and they are trying to resolve it in Jesse’s favor.

  19. Re Jonah’s Simpsons references: Only a conservative would make constant reference to a show that’s five years past its prime to show how hip he is.

  20. Charles,

    Goldberg’s style is tiresome, but it seems to me that he quotes The Simpsons because he thinks it’s a funny show. But being a “libertarian,” you know the real truth behind the obvious truth that the sheeple fall for – he’s doing it to try to prove his hipness. Then, in the fantasy you’ve just constructed, it turns out that you are much more with-it than he is (since The Simpsons is past its prime.) Surprising.

  21. Whatever, JDM. I never said this was a contradiction, and I frankly declared my post a cheap shot. I’m fully aware that Goldberg is not an anti-Semite, but some jokes are irresistible. (And it’s more fun than actually critiquing the columns, both of which are complete messes.)

  22. Charles,

    Now I get it! You don’t actually have to be a libertarian to write for Reason. They take paranoids of all stripes.

    It’s all very clear to me now.

  23. Everybody takes it for granted that Communism is and always will be evil. In fact, as practiced by Joe Stalin it probably was because he attempted to speed up the process by thuggery and worse. In theory, though, Communism will occur more or less naturally after a system experiences Capitalism and gets sick of its excesses.

    So maybe this show ain’t over yet. Theoretically.

  24. That’s why I initially said it was just “extremely weak.” Not “inexcusable” or some such. A good cheap shot would have involved something that could at least *appear* to be a contradiction when taken out of context. It is immediately and obviously clear that the quotes you posted do not indict Goldberg in even the “cheap shot” sense.

    Unless your post was just a collection of random words, you would have to be saying that there was at least a superficial contradiction.

    I never thought or said that you were saying Goldberg was an anti-semite.

  25. “I never thought or said that you were saying Goldberg was an anti-semite.”

    Too bad. That was the joke.

  26. JDW, I never said I was a “libertarian” or even a libertarian.

  27. Lefty,

    Communism is never a good thing. I am comfortable stating the term “never” as historical fact. I may be proven wrong in the future. I’ll concede that right now – just as my absolute belief in the law of gravity may prove unfounded and I may be picking my bruised self off the ceiling one day. But until it happens, I won’t believe it.

    Every time communism has been tried, it has resulted in abject failure, often accompanied by the deaths of tens of thousands, millions, tens of millions, or perhaps a hundred million people. The only difference between earlier and later forms of it is that the later forms have been much more efficient in their genocide.

    And as for historical inevitability, the dialectic appears to have been dialectically undone by the move of so many communist nations back to market economies and self-interested democracy. I know, I know, the communists weren’t faithful enough to the system to make it work… perhaps 140 years of it, and 200 million more dead in the gulags will make it work this next time?

    For goodness sake, please read some Hayek.

  28. Lefty, you can’t be serious. Communism will never happen naturally, because its fundamental prediction–that people who live under capitalism will get progressively more destitute–isn’t true at all. The prediction was, put simply, that people would become so desperate and so poor and so enslaved and so miserable, that they will have nothing to lose by armed revolt. To be that miserbale requires a level of extreme enslavement and abuse that no thoroughly capitalist system has even got near. That didn’t even happen under the iron boot of communism itself. What chance does it have of happening in America and the rest of the developed world?

    So any faith you have in the left’s “predictions” is so anti-empirical that you can’t really believe what you just said.

  29. Lefty,

    I think you’re getting sloppy with your terms. Communism is what Stalin, Lennin, Mao, Castro, and Pol Pot brought about. It’s about a huge and necessarily oppressive unelected government that controls the entire economy.

    I think you mean communism, or commune-ism. Now that might work. There’s no reason a commune can’t compete with a for-profit business, and nobody has anything to fear from an organic milk co-op. Go to Kevin Carson’s site for some neat stuff. But that’s not Communism, and it’s a common mistake of the Right and the deluded Left to confuse the two.

  30. Yeah, but there’s always those stockbroker types that will fuck up the communal mojo.

    I don’t know for sure. I just watch Star Trek sometimes and wonder if they have mortgages.

  31. What’s Kevin’s URL? I did a quick search and came up with this but doubt that it does him justice.


  32. I asked this on my own blog, but I’ll raise it here, too. Am I the only one who thinks Jonah looks like the fatter, slightly less effeminate older brother of E! gossip reporter Ted Casablancas?

  33. JDM, if you had understood the joke, you would not have kept pointing out that it was not really a contradiction in order to make Jesse look bad. The joke relies on its not being a contradiction. Can’t you just admit that you got it wrong?

  34. Jim N,

    Now you’re just jabbering. I’ll walk you through this:

    The premise is that Goldberg is a poor writer because of a contradiction between his obviously not being an anti-semite (since he is a jew,) and something he’s written implicating him as one.

    Since what he’s written does not even superficially implicate him as an anti-semite, the premise fails. There is no contradiction to point out.

    Jesse admits that it is a taking cheap shot, and so only trying to prove superficial breech of logic, but nonetheless, that superficial breech does not exist.

  35. JDW, I’m going to guess you’ve never been hired as a comedy writer have you? But you probably have been a network consultant.

  36. I have a question for you too Kevin. Why did you let the Friedman comment go by without mention? I expected a long post directing me to authors who point out the flaws of anarcho-capitalism and much dissing of corporate rule. I’m a little disappointed in you.

  37. Anonymous,

    How’s this?

    Two jews walk into a bar. One says “McCarthy behaved like a jerk, but he was also right.” Then he says “Chris Matthews…talks about Jews in the administration the way Tailgunner Joe talked about Communists in the State Department.”

    The second jew says “You’re an anti-semite.”

    Funny, no?

  38. To anyone but the most ardent anti-Semite, there is no inconsistency in arguing that McCarthy was right to take the hard line against communists in the State Department, while criticizing Matthews for talking the same way about Jews.

  39. Yep, network consultant. Probably the one who said AfterMASH would be a hit.

  40. I’m not sure JDM is going to get it even after Jesse’s explanation that “that was the joke”, so let me explain it.

    “McCarthy behaved like a jerk, but he was also right” + “Chris Matthews…talks about Jews in the administration the way Tailgunner Joe talked about Communists in the State Department” = “Chris Matthews (on Jews) is a jerk, but he is also right.”

  41. “Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it.” –E.B. White

  42. Quite the non-sequitor, given that there was no humor in the first place.

  43. And you probably were the one who told NBC “Seinfeld” was too urban and Jewish to work.

  44. OOOO! Zing!


  45. JDM, your little lectures about humor would carry more weight if your own jokes weren’t so lame. “Quite the non-sequitor, given that there was no humor in the first place.” If that’s your idea of a clever zinger, you haven’t got much room for putting down our anonymous friend.

    As for the original joke, as everyone’s already tried to explain to you, it doesn’t rest on finding a breach of logic or a contradiction in Goldberg’s columns. It rests on putting two statements together in a way that makes it look like they imply a third. It CREATES a DELIBERATELY FAULTY piece of logic. The fact that “their manner of speech and their rightness are separate things” isn’t important, because the joke isn’t supposed to be an airproof syllogism — humor doesn’t work that way.

    I imagine you hearing Groucho tell his famous joke, “Last night I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.” Smugly, you explain to him that “even a 5 year old understands” that the phrase “in my pajamas” can be understood two different ways, so his joke is “extremely weak.” When he tries to explain the humor to you, you get defensive and use a lot of arrogant phrases like “the joke fails utterly” and tell everyone who disagrees with you that they’re idiots. You make a few jokes of your own, too. No one laughs.

  46. This thread is like a car crash. I can’t stop looking, but I feel worse every time I do.

  47. JJ,

    To paraphrase Mark Twain: Never try to explain a joke to a pig. You just frustrate yourself and annoy the pig.

  48. JJ,

    I wasn’t lecturing about humor, I was “lecturing” about logic, now I will lecture about humor:

    “It rests on putting two statements together in a way that makes it look like they imply a third. ”

    My entire point is that the first two statements IN NO WAY imply or look like they imply the third, and I cannot understand how a person of any intelligence could make the mistake of thinking that they do.

    “Last night I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.”

    See, that’s funny because it can be understood to mean the obvious – that groucho was wearing pajamas – or the funny part – that the elephant was wearing them. It is funny precisely because it makes sense, and the punchline is a surprising logical twist.

    Jesse would have told the joke “Last night I shot an elephant smoking a cigar. I’m not sure how he got into my pajamas.” There is no setup for his punchline. That joke might be funny to someone on another level perhaps, as a meta-joke poking fun at the nature of joking, or as absurdity, but that’s not what Jesse was going for.

    I wouldn’t have said anything if Jesse wasn’t trying to imply that Goldberg was a buffoon who couldn’t keep his rhetoric straight, but he is. When doing something like that, it is best to be clever yourself.

    I called “our anonymous friend” an idiot, because his posts don’t really follow the line of the conversation.

    I wasn’t really trying to be funny. (Except for the “two jews” post, which is funny, whether you realize it or not.) Nor do I care if anyone laughs.

  49. The pig is annoyed.

  50. Anon,

    I’m actually greatly amused. The real underlying premise of the joke we’ve been discussing is that it’s fun to laugh at dumb people.

  51. “This thread is like a car crash. I can’t stop looking, but I feel worse every time I do.”

    You and me both, Joe. I apologize for starting it.

  52. And yet you keep looking. And you can’t stop feeling worse. Why? Allow me to speculate:

    You want badly to believe that you were right, that you can trust your own immediate sense of reason that made you feel like you were making sense. You have to hope that someone can make the case for you that Jesse was right, since your own attempts are completly inadequate. You cannot accept that you were betrayed by your own mind. To come to that understanding would be to stare into the abyss that lies beneath your entire universe.

    I assure you there is no such comfort for you. I have correctly devined the truth in this matter, and battering your worthless selves against the razor blade of my intellect will only make you bleed more.

    Retire, lick your wounds, and try harder next time.


    You’re dumb.

  53. The pig is still annoyed.

  54. Does “JDM” stand for “Leonard Peikoff”?

  55. JDW,

    I’ve sold stuff to National Review, too. Guess they buy from paranoids of all stripes as well. But at least I’m not an antisemite.

  56. They certainly do – just not exclusively.

  57. I think the part about “Jewish noses I’ve counted” was deliberate sarcasm.

  58. Kevin,

    Well, what about markets based exclusively on barter? Or do you assume that some sort of referent like money is needed even there?


  59. JIM N,

    I understand the joke that Jesse was trying to make. It’s not that it’s too clever. The problem is that it’s not clever enough. Saying “Matthews talks about Jews like McCarthy talks about the Communist”, is not saying “Matthews = MCarthy in all of their aspects.” Since it should be obvious to a 5 year old that their manner of speech and their rightness are separate things, the joke fails utterly.

    Now, Jesse’s second post where he said “Too bad. That was the joke.” is a properly executed cheapshot. Since my “I never though or said you were saying Goldberg was an anti-semite” was a response to Jesse’s out-of-the-blue “I’m fully aware that Goldberg is not an anti-Semite,” not his initial blog entry. But by treating it as if it was, he got in a cheap shot, since, out of context it makes me look bad.

    He had a better one to make, due to poor editing of one of my posts, but I will leave finding it as an exercise to the reader.

    Most of you could use the practice.

  60. Jonah is not “trying to tell us” anything and
    in no way linked the 2 statements… does not link Joe and Chris… and is irrelevant.

    JW does the linkage…

    Saying that Chris is acting like a jerk in his promotion of the idea US foreign policy has been “hijacked” by a “cabal” of Jews…
    but is right.

    The end result is that I have to watch a little
    bit of Joe Scarborough every day to balance off
    Chris’ rants…

  61. 63 comments over nearly three days!

    Thank you all for a great laugh.

  62. I assure you there is no such comfort for you. I have correctly devined the truth in this matter, and battering your worthless selves against the razor blade of my intellect will only make you bleed more.

    See, he can be funny when he wants to.

  63. No, Peikoff has a better sense of humor.

  64. Thanks for indulging me, Kevin. I made my comment about Friedman partially because it’s true, and partially because I really wanted to know what you think.

    I first became aware of Friedman through Mike Huben’s “A Non-Libertarian FAQ” website. I think DF’s response is great, and I have a lot of admiration for the man for defending his positions logically, without getting overly emotional.

  65. Thanks for everything, guys.

  66. Thanks for everything, guys.

  67. EMAIL: krokodilgena1@yahoo.com
    URL: http://penis-enlargement.nonstopsex.org
    DATE: 12/20/2003 10:34:08
    Virtue never stands alone. It is bound to have neighbors.

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