Saner Than Thou

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Cathy Young–who contemplated who was nastier, the left or the right, in Reason a couple years ago–reviews Dave Neiwert's review of Michelle Malkin's new book Unhinged and finds both unbalanced:

Malkin sets out to prove that while conservatives are commonly stereotyped as intolerant, extreme, rabid, etc., it's really liberals who are all of the above. And she collects some good examples of left-wing nuttiness and nastiness, from conspiracy theories on the "stolen" 2004 election to kill-Bush fantasies to Cameron Diaz suggesting that voting for Bush meant voting for legalized rape to her own (Malkin's) racist and misogynist hate mail. But it's absurd for her to suggest that there is no similar nuttiness and nastiness on the right, or that "conservatives zealously police their own ranks " against extremists and conspiracy wackos.

Cathy adds that "while Neiwert clearly strives to be fair-minded and acknowledges that there is a lot of ugly behavior on the left, he can't resist the partisan temptation to argue that right-wing nastiness is a lot worse." Can't we just agree that the left and the right each has its share of assholes?

I can't say the word on Malkin's book comes as a surprise. But I assume that she, like Ann Coulter, is only kidding, while counting on her fans and anti-fans to miss the joke.

[Thanks to Tom Miller for the tip.]

NEXT: Queen of the Mountain Bootleggers

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  1. Don’t it suck that writers who specialize in insanity get lots of fame and money, while magazines with a more, well, Reasonable approach only have niche markets?

  2. Looking at the cover of Malkin’s book, you could replace the donkey’s picture with hers as the title(but not the subtitle) would make perfect sense.

  3. “Coulter and her brood [of conservative women pundits] should be treated like spoiled brats who mouth off. Put them over the knee, paddle their fannies, tell them to wipe that smirk off their face and to speak up only when they have learned something about the world.”

    LMAO!

  4. Conservatives have mastered the tactic of muddling their own weaknesses by starting fights. No one actually expects Michelle Malkin to convince people that the Right is polite, honest, and grounded in reality. The superiority of mainstream liberals over mainstream conservatives in these areas makes such an argument wholly implausible.

    But by starting the argument, even if they lose it, conservatives can manage to muddle the issue enough that liberals are compelled to defend their (superior) ground, rather than attack from it. Another example is the discussion of military service during the last elections – no one is actually going to believe that Bush’s service was equivalent to or better than Kerry’s, but by organizing the Swift Boat campaign, the debate became about whether Kerry really did have an honorable record, rather than what it mean that Kerry had a much more impressive record. Even though they lost this debate, just the fact that that debate was happening, and crowding out the substantive debate, was a strategic victory.

    The key here is to make a claim of such counterfactual audacity that the MSM will consider it an interesting story.

  5. I really didn’t like Coulter until time did it’s piece on her. I thought of her as the right’s Michael Moore.

    But time’s piece did show a much more entertaining angle on her. My favorite was when the article that mentioned that she used to date a moslem (first clue that she is not all she preaches) and that she convinced her moslem boyfriend to go to church with him. And then she said “though I did not get him to convert at least he was not killing anyone at the time”

    That is funny, I don’t care who you are!

  6. Can’t we just agree that the left and the right each has its share of assholes?

    …as do the libertarians and the greens. We’ve all got ’em. Though, I’m not convinced that the argument over whose assholes are worse, or have more influence, is not a valid one.

  7. Both parties are full of nuts, but Republican nuts are more likely to be voted into actual positions of authority. I mean, for all the crazy things Michael Moore, Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton may have said and done, at least they never had Congressional backing.

  8. … and jesse jackson had those cute bumper stickers for the front of the car… 🙂

  9. Joe:

    “But by starting the argument, even if they lose it, conservatives can manage to muddle the issue enough that liberals are compelled to defend their (superior) ground, rather than attack from it.”

    I kid you not, practically this exact sentence appeared in a Coulter book my sister was reading. You are doing the same thing she does from the other side of the aile. Both sides have assholes, any attempt to argue which side has more is utterly pointless. Gathering up the worst arguements form either flavor of wingnuts throwing the together and declaring ‘haha they are dumb!’ doesn’t tell you jack about the quality of the best arguements coming from either side; which is, in my opinion, the only thing worth discussing.

  10. kwais-

    I’ll bet her boyfriend said “I didn’t actually get her to shut her mouth, but at least I got her to use her wide open mouth for things other than talking.”

    I don’t care who you are, that’s funny.

  11. That is funny, I don’t care who you are!

    Only if you assume all muslims are killers.

  12. she used to date a moslem (first clue that she is not all she preaches)

    kwais,
    I’ll have to respectfully disagree. I’m not saying that she is an anti-Muslim bigot, but dating a Muslim scarcely proves that she’s not one. At least based on my past experiences. People have a strange ability to comparmentailize things.

    How serious was this relationship where she was trying to convert him? Did she ever go to mosque?

  13. Bah! Everyone can burn in Hell (assuming there is such a place) for all I care! Humanity is a festering, degenerate collection of greedy, hateful, slobs who get a sick thrill out dominating one another in the name of whatever self-deluding ideology or religion they have happened to attached themselves to…

    …I need more morning dose of Lithium.

  14. No one hold their own truths more self evident than “mainstream liberals” liberals… although evangical Christians, environmentalists and talk show hosts make it an interesting race. At least some of the people who come to my door and proselytize feel compelled to convince me of something. My general experience with liberals is that look at me like some soulless creature the moment I question why they should be taking my money for some inane government program. Of course, I get much the same reaction from conservatives when I question why they should be infringing upon my personal freedoms for some obscure moralistic reason.

    Ted Rall and Ann Coulter are two sides of the same coin… bad pennies, if you ask me.

  15. Don’t it suck that writers who specialize in insanity get lots of fame and money, while magazines with a more, well, Reasonable approach only have niche markets?

    Human nature. After all, we’re talking about Ann Coulter’s sex life now, aren’t we?

  16. Can’t we just agree that the left and the right each has its share of assholes?

    I’m with ya so far.

    Republican nuts are more likely to be voted into actual positions of authority.

    Jennifer, I invite you to consider some of the nuttier members of the Congressional Dems. For sheer elected moonbattery, I will put Sheila Jackson Lee up against anyone.

    Another example is the discussion of military service during the last elections – no one is actually going to believe that Bush’s service was equivalent to or better than Kerry’s,

    And indeed, no one made such a claim that I am aware of. Nice straw man, though, joe.

    but by organizing the Swift Boat campaign,

    Note the subtle implication here that the Swift Boat campaign was organized by dark, nefarious forces. Just who is hiding behind your passive construction here, joe?

    the debate became about whether Kerry really did have an honorable record,

    Well, the debate became about just what exactly Kerry really did in Vietnam. Although if you ever really looked at what the Swifties were saying, they were much more interested in what he did after Vietnam. The Dems, though, chose not to defend his post-Vietnam activities, and focussed on the kerfuffle over magic hats, Christmas in Cambodia, etc. Ya know, Kerry still hasn’t released his complete military records to the public. Hard to believe, but there it is.

    Even though they lost this debate,

    From where I sit, the Swifties are ahead on points, having successfully challenged Kerry’s veracity and portrayed him quite convincingly, not as heroic warfighter, but an ambitious, ticket-punching politico even then.

    But this is ancient history; everyone has processed this according to their pre-existing templates, and I doubt any minds will be changed. Just couldn’t let joe’s selective vision go unbalanced by my own.

  17. we’re talking about Ann Coulter’s sex life now, aren’t we?

    But, but, but, teacher, kwais started it!

  18. How serious was this relationship where she was trying to convert him? Did she ever go to mosque?

    I would think it’s a safe bet that Coulter didn’t. After all, she told us that we’re supposed to be killing them or converting them to Christianity, right?

    Saying that “Coulter dated a Muslim,” sounds sort of like “I’ve got lots of black/Jewish/gay/etc. friends, but…”

  19. I would date Coulter, if she were physically my tipe and she were within my age range. (I say I would meaning I would give it a trial run, based on what I read in the time magazine.)

    Mo,
    This is neither here nor there, but what you said makes me remember when (on MSNBC)an attorney for a cop was claiming that it was ridiculous that his cliant was a racist as he was married to a black woman. And the civil rights guy’s retort was that slave owners were known to rape their property, and yet they were still racists.

    I am with you on the amazing ability of girls (thus people in general) of compartimentalizing and rationalizing.

  20. we’re talking about Ann Coulter’s sex life now, aren’t we?

    I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

  21. After all, we’re talking about Ann Coulter’s sex life now, aren’t we?

    EWWWWWWW! Strike that concept from this blog, please… and my mind! The thought of that desicated hapry having coitus is a horror of Lovecraftian proportions!

  22. Ancient One Coulterthulu devours 1d3 investigators per round.

  23. I think there’s a bit of difference. I bet Coulter actually writes her (?) stuff, though how seriously she takes it, who knows. Malkin, on the other hand, I doubt if she even writes anything in her name. Or even thinks up the ideas for her ghostwriters to fill in.

    You’ll recall during the Clinton Penis Wars this chorus of bleached harpies came out of nowhere to howl on the TV. Coulter is probably the most sucessful post-Clinton. Anyway, whoever makes such decisions decided things were a little too blonde and they needed some international flava. So Michelle Malkin was born fully formed from Roger Ailes’ head and the rest is history.

  24. Gotta love self-refuting posts. Thanks, RC!

    Sheil Jackson Lee is a junior member of the House. Dick Cheney is the Vice President of the United States.

    “And indeed, no one made such a claim that I am aware of.” Except for the people who declared Kerry a coward and traitor, and who obsessively posted about the mortality rate of TANG pilots and claimed that Bush had volunteered to go to Vietnam.

    Imagine someone suggesting that the Swift Boat group was organized by “dark, mysterious forces.” Especially since the Republican Texas lawyer and fundraiser who ran the group had already carried out an anti-John Kerry campaign for one Republican White House, and had nominated Nixon at the Republican convention organized his campaign according to standard Rovian strategy.

    And we all remember that it was the Democrats who drew attention to Kerry’s medical record, his journal entries about his missions up the river, and the initials on the reports documenting his actions in battle that won him his medals, right? How Democrats hacked into Instapundit, NRO, and the WSJ and planted stories about these topics there? LOL.

    “Ya know, Kerry still hasn’t released his complete military records to the public.” Ah, the irrelevant smear, an RC favorit. Hey, RC, would you please tell us about something racist a Democrat did before my parents were born? Freaking shill.

    “From where I sit, the Swifties are ahead on points, having successfully challenged Kerry’s veracity and portrayed him quite convincingly, not as heroic warfighter, but an ambitious, ticket-punching politico even then.” In other words, they were successful at creating a “cloud” over a story that presented the opponent in a good light, even though their actual assertions were disproven. And, from where you sit, this is a victory. Thank you for demonstrating my thesis about using phoney arguments to win through attrition.

  25. Ancient One Coulterthulu devours 1d3 investigators per round.

    …all surviving investigoators makes a 1d20/1d100 Sanity Check.

    Ah, “Call Of The Cthulhu,” the only game where if you win, you loose.

  26. Dear Baby-boomers (and everyone else),

    Vietnam is completely irrelevant.

    Love,
    Tim

  27. Akira: This is why you have 10 characters ready to go at the start of the game…which lasts maybe three hours :-).

  28. we’re talking about Ann Coulter’s sex life now, aren’t we?

    But, but, but…

    Yes. Well now. Hmmm.

  29. Vietnam is completely irrelevant.

    Sigh… I’m afraid that won’t happen until they plant the last Boomer in the cemetery. By then, our kids and grand kids will be the ones telling us that “The War On Terror is completely irrelevant…”

  30. Sorry, but all this “The crazy assholes are on the left!”/”The crazy assholes are on the right!” is nothing more than hairsplitting.

    From where I sit, there seem to be just as many evil powermongers on the left as there are on the right.

    Ultimately, it boils down to which particular flavor of evil you find least distasteful. But just because the left/right is busy forcibly sodomizing an issue that doesn’t push your buttons doesn’t change the relative level of contempt for the productive class that is inherent to both sides of the aisle.

  31. Oh, and Malkin really ought to tend to that rather ungainly 2×4 poking out from under her eyelid.

  32. By then, our kids and grand kids will be the ones telling us that “The War On Terror is completely irrelevant…”

    It’s entirely possible, it’s true, but I get sick of “he’s a decorated war hero” trotted out during campagins. It bothered me about Kerry, it bothers me about Murtha, Dole, whoever. Tarring Clinton as a draft dodger was equally stupid.

    Whether or not you served honorably in some foreign war 30, 40, 50, 60 years ago has no bearing on whether or not you’re spouting good ideas during today’s electoral campaign. It’s simply another form of identity politics, and I’d like it to quit. Now. Today.

  33. Political discourse has become a competition of we’re-hated-and-slandered-more.

  34. Timothy, elections are not just about ideas, but also about the character of the candidate. We don’t vote for party slates to choose our president, but for an individual. You don’t think someone’s personal history is useful in understanding their character?

  35. Timothy, elections are not just about ideas, but also about the character of the candidate. We don’t vote for party slates to choose our president, but for an individual. You don’t think someone’s personal history is useful in understanding their character?

    I think it’s pretty safe to say that if a candidate is able to rise through the political ranks to challenge for the presidency, it’s likely that their character isn’t worth much.

    And for what their character is worth, I’m voting for the candidate as they stand today, not the kid who did marijuana/cocaine or did/didn’t fight in some war. People change over time, usually signifcantly. The extent to which personal history is important is an order of magnitude less than we make it out to be.

  36. At the hazard of jumping into a subject I have very little interest in and have not researched adequately but just to address the apparent logic someone used, why is:

    not as heroic warfighter, but an ambitious, ticket-punching politico

    stated as if the two choices for describing Kerry are mutually exclusive? Since after all, they clearly are not.

  37. Joe, are you saying that when Kerry claimed “My war hero record is better than Bush’s NG record” we should accept that on faith? Simply because Democrat’s claims are “superior” to Republican’s? That it’s illegitimate for other Swift Boat vets to dispute the claim?

    but by organizing the Swift Boat campaign, the debate became about whether Kerry really did have an honorable record,

    Obviously an illegitimate question, since we all know that politicians never enhance their resumes.

    Is this to say, for instance, that when Kerry posed as a hunter to defuse the gun control issue, it was wrong for the NRA to point out that some of his recorded statements illustrated “confusion” about how hunting is actually done, and that he posed for a photo op gratefully receiving a firearm that legislation he sponsored would have made illegal?

  38. joe,

    I think what he’s saying (or at least, what I’m saying) is that service in Vietnam 40 goddamn years ago doesn’t tell you a hell of a lot about a candidate’s character or his fitness to hold office. Lots of people served, lots of people didn’t serve. It doesn’t make either group more or less qualified to be president.

  39. What’s funny is that there are some otherwise intelligent people who actually believe that one party has more integrity than the other and won’t stoop to the other side’s level.

    Shows what good kool-aid they’re serving the faithful I guess.

    nmg

  40. Stretch,
    I kind of agree with you. When Clinton first ran in ’92, I thought his draft dodging was the worst of all things. (How could you elect a man to command the Armed services he himself would not serve).

    I have matured in my political thinking much since then. But I still don’t know how I would vote if Clinton were running today and he were a libertarian. If he refused to serve because he was against the draft, or sending people to war, then for himself as he is now for others then he would be cool. But as I see it he was against serving for himself, because he believed that he is above it. I don’t think I can vote for such a man.

    The opposite of course is McCain. I do admire and respect McCain as a person for what he did and what he lived through. But I can’t vote for him as a president for his lack of understanding of the constitution.

  41. Larry A,

    No. None of that is even a rough approximation of what I’m saying.

    It is illegitimate to dispute, or support for that matter, ANY claim with bullshit. I’ll note that the veracity of any challenge to Kerry’s statements matters not a whit in your formulation – indeed, this dimension of the question doesn’t seem to have worked its way into your thinking at all.

    If it had, you’d know the answer to the questions you ask in your final ‘graf.

  42. Steve, “I think what he’s saying (or at least, what I’m saying) is that service in Vietnam 40 goddamn years ago doesn’t tell you a hell of a lot about a candidate’s character or his fitness to hold office.” I disagree. Personal history can be very useful, especially sitations – like how one responds under the stress and confusion of a firefight – in which the basic qualities of a person’s character come to the fore.

    “Lots of people served, lots of people didn’t serve. It doesn’t make either group more or less qualified to be president.” I agree. I’d say it’s more important how they did it. Bush “served.” And McCain “served.” That doesn’t tell us much. But the distinctions that can be drawn, relating to how they served, are what tells us something. Similarly, Dick Cheney, he of the five deferrments and unshakable support for the war, “didn’t serve,” just like Muhammed Ali “didn’t serve.” Once again, I think we can glean something about their character from the circumstances surrounding their lack of service.

  43. But as I see it he was against serving for himself, because he believed that he is above it. I don’t think I can vote for such a man.

    That’s understandable, but I think his beliefs now are much more relevant. What if he views his draft-dodging with shame, as a mistake that he has learned from? That, to me, is the pressing issue…what are his current beliefs. Certainly, his personal history has played a significant role in shaping his viewpoint, but the important thing is his current viewpoint.

    Of course, we can depend on him to boldly lie about his current beliefs in order to get elected, so perhaps verified past actions have a larger role than I’d like them to.

  44. You don’t think someone’s personal history is useful in understanding their character?

    Anybody with sufficient will to want control over others through elected office is already of questionable character, as Stretch pointed out. I also don’t think what one did as a youth 40 years ago really says much about what that man is like now. A voting record in the Senate/House and actions as Governor or in other elected offices are much more telling. David Horowitz was an SDS big-wig, if you recall.

    When I’m 60 I doubt I’ll be the same binge-drinking, pissing in the street sot I was in college. Hell, I’m only a year out of school and that behavior is gone except on very rare occassions. Responsibilities will do that to a person.

    And, honestly, while I respect folks who sign up for the military, I don’t see it as any more honorable than any other profession. It’s another job that needs doing, and it’s an important and dangerous one, but I can’t see a good reason for valuing combat acheievement over business acumen, constitutional understanding, economic literacy, or a whole host of other qualities that might be useful in elected officials.

    Put another way: I fail to see how being a grunt or NCO back in ‘Nam, Korea, or WWII, makes one any more qualified to determine the scope and power of the US Government.

  45. It is illegitimate to dispute, or support for that matter, ANY claim with bullshit.

    I agree absolutely, joe.

    Of course, I suspect that you believe that every single thing the Swifties said was bullshit, even though much of it (especially the post-Viet Nam stuff) obviously was not.

    And I suspect you believe that every single thing Kerry said about his Vietnam sojourn is gold-plated gospel, even though some of it obviously is not. C’mon, joe, it won’t kill you to admit that the flying dog, the magic hat, Christmas in Cambodia – these are not exactly sterling examples of veracity on Kerry’s part.

    Kerry was spinning his stint in Vietnam even while he was there, for Chrissake. Having his men film him re-enacting the battle – dunno about you, but that gives me the creeps.

    His rotation is a laboratory specimen of the ticket-punching junior officer. That’s not to say it was dishonorable, its just to say that Kerry’s spin is not the be-all and end-all of his quick spin through the ‘Nam.

  46. What if he views his draft-dodging with shame, as a mistake that he has learned from?

    Good enough for me. As long as it is not the “yes, but I didn’t inhale” variety. Ie, if he is contrite and says he made a mistake and is convincing, that is good enough.

    Speaking of which, “yes but I didn’t inhale” is along the same lines because, he also seems to think that it was ok and even understandable for him to smoke dope, and yet ok to have under him the force of law deprive people of 25 years of their life for the same.

  47. I’m sick of a Left that won’t leave my wallet alone. I’m sick of a Right that won’t leave my morals alone. I guess that makes me a true centrest. Any questions?

    If Malkin truly believes there are no problems in this area on the Right, she should spend more time on freerepublic.

  48. “Personal history can be very useful, especially sitations – like how one responds under the stress and confusion of a firefight – in which the basic qualities of a person’s character come to the fore.”

    ironically, that’s very similar to the claims made against clinton for his “draft dodging.”

    i dunno…the whole thing sounds like “no, my multimillionaire puppet is better!” versus “no, *my* multimillionaire puppet is better!” like, good for you guys…

  49. Calipyggie

    Damn. Someone took a handle I was considering to use. Well, a variation of it, anyway.

  50. It seems we both have known a few ring knockers, RC.

    I served long enough to know that putting in a few years for Uncle Sam is not a reliable indicator of character. I spent time with men I wouldn’t trust to babysit a lump of coal and others with whom I would trust the lives of my children. As for Kerry, I would never trust a man who would lie about hunting.

  51. Calipyggie

    Damn. Someone took a handle I was considering to use.

    Oh, you can have it. For me it’s ‘use once and discard’.

  52. Polite politics are boring and, in any event, unlikely.

  53. Joe: It is illegitimate to dispute, or support for that matter, ANY claim with bullshit.

    I’ll buy that. But it’s not illegitimate to dispute a claim because it’s BS.

    I’ll note that the veracity of any challenge to Kerry’s statements matters not a whit in your formulation – indeed, this dimension of the question doesn’t seem to have worked its way into your thinking at all.

    I spent a full tour in Vietnam as an infantry lieutenant, and I’m a Texas Hunter Education Master Instructor. Based on my experience and training in both issues the statements in opposition to Kerry made more sense than his statements in support did.

    If it had, you’d know the answer to the questions you ask in your final ‘graf.

    My answer would be that anyone who talks about cleaning and hanging doves, or crawling through the brush with a shotgun hunting deer, isn’t a hunter.

  54. Oh, you can have it. For me it’s ‘use once and discard’.

    That’s ok. It’s…..damaged goods now.

  55. “I can’t say the word on Malkin’s book comes as a surprise. But I assume that she, like Ann Coulter, is only kidding, while counting on her fans and anti-fans to miss the joke.”

    I’m not sure how many of her fans miss the joke. Nor the anti-fans for that matter…

  56. not taking sides here, but comparing comments by Cameron Diaz to comments by Michelle Malkin or Anne Coulter is comparing apples to oranges (or maybe bananas…as in MM and AC are bananas). Miss Diaz is a very doable actress. not a pundit. not a leader of a left-liberal group. not a leader in the Democratic party. MM and AC are fairly doable, but both are pundits, have large, right-wing audiences and appear regularly in the right-leaning media outlets. they have much more sway over public opinion than Miss Diaz, no matter how much more doable she is. similarly (as joe pointed out) RC’s comparison of a junior member of Congress (I’ll take joe’s word for this, as I’ve never even heard of this woman) as a source of lunatic comments is singularly unconvincing, especially with the recent tagging of Murtha as a coward in open session and the GOP attack on McCain (one of their own! supposedly, anyway) as being pro-terrorist because of his support of anti-torture legislation.

  57. More Rush Limbaugh clones. Put a dress on ’em and they get to be way sassy.

    For an X-rated romp, advanced search on blogspot for author Bachem Macuno.

  58. Both sides have their shares of assholes.

    But liberals’ assholery generally manifests itself in smug soccer-momism: “Democrats care! We’re socially engineering you for your own good, because we know better than you! Why can’t you accept common sense restrictions on etc., etc., etc.?”

    Conservative assholes, on the other hand, are a lot more prone to what Neiwert calls “eliminationist rhetoric” and brownshirt thuggery. People like Adam Yoshida are a lot more common on the right.

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