News & Criticism

The First Rule of a Thomas Friedman Column…

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Matt Taibbi and I both nurture an unhealthy interest in the comically (yet lucratively!) awful writing of New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas L. Friedman. Taibbi, however, is considerably funnier about it:

Remember Friedman's take on Bush's Iraq policy? "It's OK to throw out your steering wheel," he wrote, "as long as you remember you're driving without one." Picture that for a minute. Or how about Friedman's analysis of America's foreign policy outlook last May:

"The first rule of holes is when you're in one, stop digging. When you're in three, bring a lot of shovels."

First of all, how can any single person be in three holes at once? Secondly, what the fuck is he talking about?

It goes on like that. Link via Andrew Sullivan.


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  1. First of all, how can any single person be in three holes at once? Secondly, what the fuck is he talking about?

    Awesome.

  2. Matt Taibbi’s review of “The World is Flat” is still one of the funniest criticisms I’ve ever read.

    http://www.nypress.com/article-11419-flathead.html

  3. Well, the next sixth months will be critical…

  4. “It’s OK to throw out your steering wheel,” he wrote, “as long as you remember you’re driving without one.”

    How did that go over on Friedman’s driving test?

  5. Friedman is like the Steven Wright of political commentary, except for him, it’s unintentional.

  6. He wrote one of the worst book titles ever: The World is Flat. It’s a title that just begs for the response, “no it isn’t, dumbass.”

  7. This column was good, but Taibbi’s world is flat review was better, and this passage:

    Where does a guy whose family bulldozed 2.1 million square feet of pristine Hawaiian wilderness to put a Gap, an Old Navy, a Sears, an Abercrombie and even a motherfucking Foot Locker in paradise get off preaching to the rest of us about the need for a “Green Revolution”?

    Is factually challenged in a host of ways.

  8. Obviously, there’s a contest going on among the cab drivers of the world to see who can make the Mustache of Understanding write the stupidest thing.

  9. First of all, how can any single person be in three holes at once?

    I suppose one could have each foot in a hole and one’s head in one’s ass. 😉

  10. I really wish the first rule of a Friedman column was, nobody talks about Friedman columns.

  11. the comically (yet lucratively!) awful writing of
    New York Times foreign affairs columnist Thomas L. Friedman

    OK, OK, cherry-picking his most awfulest scribblings is fun (and lucrative?) but let’s take it a step further, shall we? Why is he successful? Why is Friedman one of the go-to guys on Sunday morning political roundups? Could it be that we Americans are boobs? Dopes? Dupes? Why is reason reluctant to say it? Satire is well and good, but shouldn’t reason take the comedy a step further? Why stop at a Daily Show-like analysis of Friedman’s popularity? Is reason.com a site of ideas, or lowbrow comedy? Is Friedman to blame, or are we, his enablers?

  12. @ed
    I blame airport bookstores.

  13. Friedman is popular because he is an “expert” who tells us exactly what we want to hear. Better yet, he tells us exactly what we want to hear couched in the language of “hard truths.” Conventional wisdom is reinforced, and positions of cowardice and convenience are reborn as courageous, original thought. Whether it’s invading a crippled and constrained Iraq or simply outsourcing your company’s IT department, Thomas Friedman is there to convince you of your virtue and foresight.

  14. Conventional wisdom is reinforced, and positions of cowardice and convenience are reborn as courageous, original thought.

    IE, “Suck. On. This,” stated by a Very Important Person on the teevee, means that it must not be the lowest form of barbaric warmongering to argue that we should start a war to teach a different ethnic group that we’re better than them.

  15. AMERICAN PORK BELLY PRICES vs. WHAT MIDGETS THINK ABOUT AUSTRALIA 1972-2002.

    I LOL’d

  16. First of all, how can any single person be in three holes at once?

    Lots of lube.

  17. He’s definitely gone off message on Gaza. Instead of the straight declaration of bloodlust, he should have instead rambled about his Toyota and Indian call centers for a couple paragraphs before lurching into the flowering of peace and prosperity in Indonesia, then lurched again into likening Hamas with Attila the Hun and the WTO protestors, and finally summarized with a single line about how collective punishment is perfectly moral. That is how you make the big bucks.

  18. I really wish the first rule of a Friedman column was, nobody talks about Friedman columns.

    The second rule of a Friedman column is NOBODY TALKS about Friedman columns.

  19. “First of all, how can any single person be in three holes at once?”

    Three words.

    Long Dong Silver.

  20. Satire is well and good, but shouldn’t reason take the comedy a step further?

    What, and deprive The Onion of it’s raison d’etre?

  21. But with this dude, it’s like “Whoa, baby.” This dude is digging tunnels.

    Toby Chu?

  22. The only good thing one can say about Friedman is that any time spent discussing him is by definition not time spent discussing Maureen Dowd.

  23. Since I’m supposed to be a liberal, I’m sitting here trying to think of a liberal columnist that I like consistently.

    I’m still thinking…

  24. OK, so I went to wiki’s list of newspaper columnist list, and the following liberals I like to read most of the time:

    Roger Ebert
    Michael Kinsley

    That’s it.

  25. Friedman would make a lot more sense if he drew a few simple conclusions from a fixed set of dogmatic principles and repeated them ad nauseam–like a fucking libertarian zombie. Donate now!

  26. Okay, there is no way the real Lefiti would defend Friedman.

  27. I’m not a liberal, but here are some liberal columnists I like, but don’t generally agree (in no particular order):
    Al Hunt
    Eugene Robinson
    William Raspberry
    Richard Cohen
    E.J. Dionne

    I see now that most of these are Washington Post columnists, so it’s likely my appreciation for them is that I pretty much learned to read by reading their columns (and their conservative counterparts, Will, Krauthammer and the muddled middle of Broder and Samuelson)

  28. First of all, how can any single person be in three holes at once?

    Mind Freak!

  29. The real lefiti will defend anybody the moronic zombie Matt Welch attacks. There isn’t a kettle little Matt won’t call black.

  30. …and their conservative counterparts, Will, Krauthammer and the muddled middle of Broder and Samuelson…

    No quibble with the rest of your list, but…

    You like Krauthammer? YUCK.

  31. Liberal columnists worth reading…

    Hmmmm.

    I like this blog:
    http://3quarksdaily.com/

    Many of their regulars are worth reading.

  32. Yeah, I often like Raspberry, but isn’t he dead?

    Al Hunt is always sharp and Dionne is ok.

    I actually think George Will and David Brooks are good columnists on the other side. And Novak.

  33. Yeah, I can’t stand the Kraut.

  34. Nat Hentoff?

    OOoooh, I know! Jacob Weisberg!

  35. Yeah, I often like Raspberry, but isn’t he dead?

    He’s retired (in what I think was the same early retirement surge that affected a bunch of newsrooms over the last few years), but not dead.

    I don’t agree with Kraut on many things either, but unlike say Kristol (or even Brooks), I think he writes what he believes, and not what other people would like to hear.

    I could never figure out if Novak is Broder with a dark soul, or if Broder is Novak without any soul at all. At least with Novak, he embraced his more normative writing, while Broder always seem to claim descriptivism, except when it comes to facile, nebulous ‘bi-partisanship’ (Otoh, having myself a rather amoral utilitarian bent when it comes to political economics, that never bothered me all that much.)

  36. Urrgh. Lefiti angry.

  37. Shouldn’t Lefiti be having orgasms over the Obama Coronation?

  38. I agree with Neu Mejican. It’s tough to think of any liberal columnists whose dead-tree writings I like.

    I read columns from the 2008 Nobel Lauriate in Economics, but mainly for his Econ writing.

  39. I don’t agree with Kraut on many things either, but unlike say Kristol (or even Brooks), I think he writes what he believes, and not what other people would like to hear.

    Point. I just like the story where a speech Krauthammer was giving at AEI caused Fukuyama to freak out and question the meaning of life or some damn thing.

  40. Krugman is my favorite.

  41. I remember as a kid a farm truck with two vise-grip pliers for a steering wheel.

  42. Lefiti is not real. This thread seals it. Friedman = liberal = Lefiti must defend is a logic train that only works from a libertarian conservative mindset. Real liberals hate Friedman more than anyone outside of NRO and the Weekly Standard, and real conservatives generally see Friedman as a sensible “center-leftist.” To even arrive at the mindset that someone like Lefiti would defend Friedman, you’d pretty much have to have the mindset of a Reason regular from a conservative mindset, to whom Hollywood, Al Gore and vegan straightegers are all on the same page.

  43. Kolohe – I hate E.J. Dionne. He embeds his personal (wildly statist) policy preferences into his columns and just baldly justifies them, like a 10-year-old would argue. Look at this column where he talks about conservative jurisprudence:

    what would be the legal fate of new regulations on banking called forth by the economic devastation of the subprime mess, or bank bailouts that may be necessary to keep capitalism on track, or mandatory mortgage renegotiations to keep people from being thrown out of their homes?

    There is so much question-begging and oversimplification in there I don’t know where to start. I mean…there is just such a tangle of unsupported premises in there (i.e. that the homes people have to negotiate for are theirs in the first place, that we should justify the mandatory mortgage renogotiations under policy grounds of not expelling people from homes they don’t own…)

    I mean, I could write a book, but seriously, Dionne sucks. One more:

    The four conservatives on the Supreme Court…have already shown their willingness to overturn the will of Congress…when doing so fits their political philosophy. The same majority could keep conservative ideas in the saddle long after the electorate has decided that they don’t work anymore.

    Does anyone here think conservatism reigned in anyway over the past eight years? Fuck me, Dionne.

  44. Friedman, Kristol, Kristoff (“I’m saving the world while YOU go to PROSTITUTES!”), Dowd, and Warner.

    Those are some pretty terrible columnists they have over at the NY Times.

  45. dbcooper–

    What do you mean? They have all the bases covered: big government liberals, big government centrists, and big government conservatives!

  46. MAX HATS is right.

    Tom Friedman is mercilessly mocked on every liberal blog I’ve ever read.

  47. Why is Friedman one of the go-to guys on Sunday morning political roundups?

    Lexus and the Olive tree was a good book as well as timely…also i heard he did some good journalism about Palestine and Israel like 200 years ago..

    If you do those two things and talk well and look like a small home town fireman you get to milk media attention for years and years and years.

  48. Does anyone here think conservatism reigned in anyway over the past eight years?

    In the Supreme Court? There’s a case to be made that many of the opinions (esp after the Alito appointment) have conformed to ‘Movement Conservatism’ as commonly understood, while being at odds with small c conservatism. Raich, ‘bong hits 4 jesus’ are just two that come to mind. Otoh, Dionne will be wrong if the Court follows their other overriding rules lately, which are near absolute deference to legislative plain text, and more generally giving broad discretion to executive authority where the text in unclear. But we’ll see.

    Overall, I debated putting Dionne on that list, because I do disagree with him more than any of the others.

  49. “Does anyone here think conservatism reigned in anyway over the past eight years?”

    Yeah, me. Like Kolohe said, the case can be easily made.

    But I imagine for a proto-conservative like you they have not gone nearly far enough, so I can understant your incredulity.

  50. Alito has interestingly shown more indepedence (as far as that goes for a movement conservative) than Roberts (like the Bong hits case), which is interesting given the MSM’s storylines on the two.

  51. Uggh, “a proto-conservative like you thinks they have not gone nearly far enough, so I can understand your incredulity”

  52. There is all this talk about strict Kirkian or Burkian “conservatism.” Bull. Conservatism as a movement in the U.S. (and most places) has been about authority and tradition. Religion, militiarism, and jingoism are clearly the three main strands of “conservatism” as any kind of popular movement (read Burke or Kirk, I have extensively).

    It’s always good of TAO though to betray his conservative rather than libertarian leanings. I’ve always suspected so of course.

    There is some intellectually honest “conservatism.” One can find it these days in The American Conservative and ISI, both of which I highly endorse.

  53. MNG – I guess I should have provided the full context:

    Article.

    Anyway, the crux of Dionne’s article is that the conservative court is going to reinstitute conservatism by judicial fiat, even though conservatism has been thoroughly repudiated by the public at large. I take multiple issues with this:

    1. That anything resembling conservatism reigned in the executive branch or the legislature from 2000-2006, let alone for the past EIGHT years.

    2. That the public at large repudiated conservative ideals, as opposed to the obvious fact that the 2008 election was a referendum on the Bush Administration.

    In SCOTUS, I agree that a strain of conservatism is present (but as Jeffrey Toobin said, it is authoritarian conservatism), but I reject the silly notions of Dionne that the great engine of liberalism that the unwashed wants is going to be held at bay by the court.

  54. It’s always good of TAO though to betray his conservative rather than libertarian leanings. I’ve always suspected so of course.

    I’m conservative because Dionne is laughably wrong? Mmm-kay.

    I know you think I am conservative because I couch libertarian arguments a certain way (instead of acting like a hyperemotional college kid and calling all politicians murderers and thiefs)…but you’re wrong.

  55. Oh TAO, you work from the SIV-ian paradigm that “REAL CONSERVATISM” was not involved in the Bush administration. Actually, it was there in all it’s flair. The religiosity of “REAL CONSERVATISM” (evident in Burke and Kirk), the jingoism of “REAL CONSERVATISM”, the militiarism of “REAL CONSERVATISM.” It was totally a conservative rule.

  56. “I know you think I am conservative because I couch libertarian arguments a certain way”

    Nahh, I think you’re a conservative because you have no libertarian principles to speak of, but plenty of conservative ones!

  57. Wow, MNG, you really unmasked TAO’s evil, sinister, hidden motives there. Did you learn that trick in Postmodernism 101 or Postmodernism 201?

    “I’ve always suspected so of course.” Why, it’s like I can see you doodling a goofy moustache on TAO’s posts!

    AFAIC, The American Conservative is shit, if their willingness to post this kind of sophistry is any indication: http://www.amconmag.com/article/2005/mar/14/00017/

  58. Well, once you realize that Bush was a great conservative, as the conservative voters of 2004 said overwhelmingly, then you are wrong on both points my boy!

    Of course conservatives (like you) don’t NOW want to claim him. He’s stinky!

  59. Oooh, Graphite, you don’t like American Conservative, you scholar you! Get bent.

  60. “you think I am conservative because I couch libertarian arguments a certain way”

    You couch libertarian arguments? Really? Shit, who believes that anymore?

  61. It embodies exactly the kind of authoritarianism (especially xenophobic kinds) which you rail against above. Seems kind of silly to me to praise it for being “intellectually honest” in that endeavor.

    If I were to engage in some pomo “motive unmasking” of my own, I’d say you like American Conservative more for its critiques of libertarianism than its advocacy of conservatism.

    Also, eat turds.

  62. If this is your first time, you have to fight Thomas Friedman.

  63. If the term “conservative” doesn’t apply to those who have claimed the title or the millions who elected them to office, then who does it apply to? Tom Delay and George W. Bush republicanism wasn’t some rogue outgrowth that just happened to run the country for six years. It was entirely the logical outgrowth of Newt Gingrich, Ronald Reagan and Nixon. And if none of these politicians count as “conservative” who does? How can a terms real definition be so totally divorced from the tens of millions who describe it as their own?

    It’s not like “liberal” has held the same meaning for the last 200 years.

  64. Graphite
    You do realize the extensive sharing of talent between Reason and AMC, right? Oh, you don’t, because you don’t actually subscribe and read both mags? Well, there you go.

  65. Isn’t there some way that we could convince a pack of Naomi Klein drones that Thomas Friedman is the evil economist of Chicago fame, and get them to pelt him at a public speech or something?

  66. Max
    It’s the conservatives who have not said something embarrasing in the past eight years who are the “real” ones. The others are fakers, obviously.

    “Real” conservatives for TAO/Graphite are the former. It’s a hindsight thing.

  67. Real conservative?

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2006/07/22/eveningnews/main1826838.shtml

    “I think Mr. Bush faces a singular problem best defined, I think, as the absence of effective conservative ideology – with the result that he ended up being very extravagant in domestic spending, extremely tolerant of excesses by Congress,” Buckley says. “And in respect of foreign policy, incapable of bringing together such forces as apparently were necessary to conclude the Iraq challenge.”

    Asked what President Bush’s foreign policy legacy will be to his successor, Buckley says “There will be no legacy for Mr. Bush. I don’t believe his successor would re-enunciate the words he used in his second inaugural address because they were too ambitious. So therefore I think his legacy is indecipherable”

    WFBjr.

  68. Conservatism is about coming down on the side of the traditionally powerful and authority. Like TAO has the uncanny ability to often do.

    I’m a long time Reason reader, and someone very interested by the ability of conservatives to influence libertarians. There are libertarians (like fluffy, thoreau, j sub d, bdb, etc) and there are conservatives hoping to influence libertarians (TAO, SIV, Guy Montag, etc).

  69. NM
    The mistake you make is that conservatism is against government. As long as government is “keeping order” (law enforcement) or “furthering national interest” (jingoism) conservatives have always loved it. They also like it when government fosters religion.

  70. MNG,

    How is that a mistake I make?

    Do you mean that this is a mistake that William F. Buckley makes?

    I haven’t attempted to define a real conservative or to discriminate between the libertarians and the conservatives in the discussion.

    I was just adding grist for the mill.

    William F. Buckley, a man often given the label “father of modern conservatism” felt that George W. Bush lacked an effective conservative ideology.

    That seems like it might be relevant in a discussion of whether Bush led as a conservative or not.

    Just grist…for your mill.
    Grind it how you like.

  71. More grist:

    http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/8856

    Particularly around 7:45 of the video.

  72. WFB’s philosophy was to support “the most electable conservative.” Hardly someone I would think is the voice of “real conservatism.”

    But as a social movement about conservatism WFB has great weight. Sadly this interview was in 2006 when anyone, even WFB, could see Bush was a failure. His denunciation of Bush could easily be seen as self-serving at best.

  73. there are conservatives hoping to influence libertarians (TAO, SIV, Guy Montag, etc).

    The Amazing Kreskin strikes again. I am a libertarian, MNG. You can tell as many lies as you want, but the fact remains.

    Anyway, you are the supposed Burke scholar, so when you say this:

    Well, once you realize that Bush was a great conservative

    Would you care to clarify in what ways, in terms of specific policies and actions, Bush was a “great conservative”?

  74. I wouldn’t put TAO in the same breath with fucking Guy Montag! Jeeze!

  75. WFB’s philosophy was to support “the most electable conservative.” Hardly someone I would think is the voice of “real conservatism.”

    Really? I’ve seen a lot of weird pronouncements from left leaning folks lately on the origins of modern conservatism (the most recent being how the Korean War was a touchstone*) but yours is the most bizarre statement I’ve read)

    (*it’s important in the sense that it sidelined until 1991 the isolationist elements of the political right, but considering the putative ‘conservative’ faction in politics at the time ‘ended’ the war, the Korean War cannot be seen as a jumping off point for modern conservatism. Not in the way the opposition to the New Deal consensus and Hugh Hefner was)

  76. We really need MNG, aka CED, at the next Libertarian convention to distinguish the real from faux libertarians. After all, no one else will try to make the distinction, right?
    Also, I’ll pay good money to see a fight-to-the-death cage match between MNG and Neu Mejican. I can’t be the only one Why hasn’t it happened? Market failure?

  77. Libertarian oppose Friedman because he is not opposed to outsourcing and free association? Am I getting that right?

  78. MNG returns to his crow-eating-dumbass persona and sez Conservatism is about coming down on the side of the traditionally powerful and authority.

    That is ONE branch of conservatism, and possibly even the dominant one, but it is hardly the ONLY one.

    For someone who claims to have read Burke you didn’t learn much from the effort. Particularly if you can conjoin Nixon and Reagan in a single intellectual construct. [And Reagan was always far more pragmatic then his rhetoric would lead you to believe.]

  79. MAX HATS,

    “Lefiti is not real. This thread seals it. Friedman = liberal = Lefiti must defend is a logic train that only works from a libertarian conservative mindset.”

    Nice piece of inductive logic. But flawed. Just because the particular Lefiti post isn’t real doesn’t mean Lefiti himself isn’t real. I confess to having spoofed Lefiti on occassion (not recently.) Poorly and transparently, but I am certain I’m far from the only one. Lets have it: who else has spoofed Lefiti? Rate your attempt soberly on a 1-10 scale. I’ll give myself a 4/10.

  80. I haven’t read Burke, but I don’t feel bad about it, because 99% of republicans haven’t either. Given that I haven’t read Burke, could someone please explain to me what “conservative” is? I am particularly curious how a politician can describe themselves as “conservative,” tens of millions of people who call themselves “conservative” voters elect that politician, but all the while everyone is terribly, horribly wrong.

  81. Domo: I see what you’re saying, but I have a gut feeling that the Lefiti in this thread (so far) is the original Lefiti. Obviously I can’t prove it.

  82. Lefiti lends himself to spoofing. If it weren’t for the fact that I already knew Tom Friedman’s name was Mud with the far left, I would have fallen for the Lefiti spoof. That said, Lefiti is Edward (who is not, however, Teh Concerned Observer) who was also MK2.

  83. John C,
    Libertarians pissed off at Friedman because he frequently says things that are retarded, thus making us look bad when he agrees with us.

  84. I am not Edward!

  85. I am Edward, I admited it long ago. Donate Now!

  86. “Conservatism as a movement in the U.S. (and most places) has been about authority and tradition”

    as has any political movement that actually WINS elections.

    heck, i wouldn’t be surprised if the libertarians wouldn’t morph into authoritarians IF THEY EVER HAD THE FRIGGING CHANCE.

    the reality is that conservative (so called) politicians generally are authoritarians, just like liberals, because the very nature of politics and govt. encourages it.

    it’s very difficult for any politician once given power to say “give me less power!”

    people in power tend to betray their principles, all too often.

  87. Domo,

    Interesting summation. I too have spoofed Lefiti but I can count the number of times with just my hands. I would say about 8 or 9 times. As a rated Lefiti spoof: 5/10. I recall spoofing someone recently but can’t remember his name. Seemed like a CO post though.

    economist,

    Neil/Cesar were the same but I could never get Jesse Walker to just come out and say that CO/Lefiti/Edward were the same guy. I suspect the answer is one of three things: liability issues prevent a clear unmasking, one of the reason writers is trolling his own thread(my personal conspiracy theory), or a combo of the first two.

  88. Also, I’ll pay good money to see a fight-to-the-death cage match between MNG and Neu Mejican. I can’t be the only one Why hasn’t it happened? Market failure?

    Because I don’t believe in the initiation of force?

    Or because I ain’t gay enough for the MMA (which is the gayest sport ever–not that there’s anything wrong with that).

    Are you a submission man, do you like the ground and pound?

  89. heck, i wouldn’t be surprised if the libertarians wouldn’t morph into authoritarians IF THEY EVER HAD THE FRIGGING CHANCE.

    The day I realized libertarians were passive/aggressive tyrants who, if given the opportunity, would probably be the worst authoritarians of the lot, was the day I ceased to be a libertarian.

  90. This is easy. Burke loved him some government, he didn’t just support monarchy he thought folks should have a proper awe about it. He supported government induced religious orthodoxy through his support for a state established church and the anti-dissenter laws. And he prized order above all and emphasized the state’s role in keeping it.

    And if you want to predict whether a given person is a self-identified conservative in America you can ask them some questions on religion, patriotism and support for the police and the military and you will be right nearly all of the time. Bush is what you get when you talk about conservatism in America.

    That’s what conservatism is as an empirical reality and as a historical school of thought (Burke, Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver, etc).

  91. By the way, conventionalism and a strong support for traditionally established authorities (church, military, the police etc) and the powerful, essentially what defines conservatism, is the current working definition of authoritarianism in the social sciences.

    And yes, to bring it all around, the conservative justices on the Supreme Court certainly show pro-military (look at their recent ruling in the sonar case), pro-religion (the recent 10 commandments cases, in which Scalia said that the government can favor monotheistic religions) and the police (a great deal of cases).

    But yes I imagine they were’nt conservative enough for TAO, hence he doesn’t think “real conservatives” were at work there.

  92. Kolohe
    Given that WFB’s own self professed goal was not to construct the most intellectually consistent philosophy of conservatism but to construct the most politically popular conservative philosophy then I indeed do have a hard time thinking of him as the defining voice of what some “real” conservatism would be. I think Russell Kirk would have that honor and until recently most conservative intellectuals would I think have said the same.

    Also, I was responding to a post which said essentially that since WFB said Bush was not a conservative then he was not one. But of course as Bush became less popular WFB was going to distance his movement from the guy, that was what WFB was all about after all, so that’s what I meant when I said I don’t think he’s the defining voice of whether Bush was a conservative or not…

  93. I’m convinced that the “real” Lefiti/Edward could have a heart attack and die, and no one would notice for 6 months because enough reason regulars would be spoofing him, that nothing looked amiss.

  94. But yes I imagine they were’nt conservative enough for TAO

    you need to learn to follow an argument. The original context of this line of discussion was me castigating E.J. Dionne for saying that the outgoing Administration and legislative branch from 2000-2006 looked conservative. It did not.

    What’s even funnier is that you set out these definitions:

    1. Pro-police
    2. Pro-military
    3. Pro-Religion

    As some of the aspects of conservatism. So, atheist little me, who talks about the police like NWA…I’m conservative? you undercut yourself with your own definition.

  95. The day I realized libertarians were passive/aggressive tyrants who, if given the opportunity, would probably be the worst authoritarians of the lot, was the day I ceased to be a libertarian.

    Just for a time, until the revolution is safe.

    Look, it’s perfectly just – nay, mandatory – to use force in the defense of property. We know those unionist bastards are scheming to steal people’s property; should we wait until they control the whole country?

    Oh yeah, big time.

  96. joe,

    I think you’re wrong – but the argument seems hypothetical since no libertarians have any actual power. Wait, perhaps the fact that libertarian types don’t seek power in practice, actually is some evidence that they wouldn’t tend to authoritarianism given the chance.

    ???,

    what, exactly did you morph into, given your professed anti-authoritarian bent? I’m really curious about that one…

  97. Given that WFB’s own self professed goal was not to construct the most intellectually consistent philosophy of conservatism but to construct the most politically popular conservative philosophy then I indeed do have a hard time thinking of him as the defining voice of what some “real” conservatism would be.

    I know not of this ‘self-professed goal.’ I do know that he supported tje segregationist in the 50’s (but renounced in the 60’s), supported McCarthy (and never renounced that as far as I know), supported Goldwater in ’64, ran his own quixotic third party campaign for New York City Mayor in ’65. The man was a lot of things, but ‘political opportunist’ is one of the most unusual charges I’ve seen leveled at the man.

  98. domo,

    The fact libertarians can’t get elected to high office doesn’t mean they don’t seek power. They’ve got their own party, they tried to push a candidate in 2008, and they sure as hell put a lot of resources into DC think tanks for people who aren’t interested in power.

  99. The fact libertarians can’t get elected to high office doesn’t mean they don’t seek power. They’ve got their own party, they tried to push a candidate in 2008, and they sure as hell put a lot of resources into DC think tanks for people who aren’t interested in power.

    Speaking personally, it’s difficult to dismantle the apparatus of the state from the outside without fire, bloodshed and revolution, none of which I’m particularly eager to see here. So trying to gain power to subvert the state from within strikes me as a perfectly reasonable approach. Somewhat duplicitous, but this is politics we’re talking about here.

  100. T,

    It is a reasonable approach, and one that is necessary for any group that seeks revolutionary change.

    Which is why it’s also reasonable to assume that they would behave like every other group that seeks revolutionary change.

  101. what, exactly did you morph into, given your professed anti-authoritarian bent? I’m really curious about that one…

    As I’m suspicious of any kind of ideology, I suppose you could consider me some derivation of a Kirkian small c conservative.

    I’m not intrinsically opposed to authority. Even a libertarian proposition such as all activity except force and fraud should be permitted requires an authority, at least the authority of consensus, to enforce it. I make a distinction between legitimate and illegitimate authority.

  102. Which is why it’s also reasonable to assume that they would behave like every other group that seeks revolutionary change.

    Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind the slime of a new bureaucracy?

    Or more simply, and set to a catchy tune, meet the new boss, same as the old boss?

  103. The day I realized libertarians were passive/aggressive tyrants who, if given the opportunity, would probably be the worst authoritarians of the lot, was the day I ceased to be a libertarian.

    Everyone knows a homosexual teacher would molest his students. Good thing we never let those homosexuals become teachers.

  104. “Look, it’s perfectly just – nay, mandatory – to use force in the defense of property. We know those unionist bastards are scheming to steal people’s property; should we wait until they control the whole country?”

    Fight that Straw Man, joe!

  105. “The day I realized libertarians were passive/aggressive tyrants who, if given the opportunity, would probably be the worst authoritarians of the lot, was the day I ceased to be a libertarian.”

    Could it be that you were a passive-aggressive tyrant, assumed all libertarians had the same motivations as you, and thus just made yourself sound like an utter tool?

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