Media

Hitchens on The Beck Rally: Large, Vague, & Moist, "The Waterworld of White Self-Pity"

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Hat tip: Alan Vanneman!

Over at Slate, Christopher Hitchens weighs in on the Beck-a-Palooza:

The numbers were impressive enough on their own, but the overall effect was large, vague, moist, and undirected: the Waterworld of white self-pity.

The Washington Post quoted Linda Adams, a Beck supporter from Colorado, who said, "We want our country to get back to its original roots," adding that "her ancestors were on the Mayflower and fought in the American Revolution." She was also upset that some schools no longer require students to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Well, the U.S. population is simply not going to be replenished by Puritan pilgrims from England, and the original Pledge of Allegiance was fine with most people as a statement of national unity, until its "original intent" was compromised by a late insertion of the words "under God" in the McCarthyite 1950s. But one still sees what she means and can feel sympathy with the pulse of nostalgia.

In a rather curious and confused way, some white people are starting almost to think like a minority, even like a persecuted one. What does it take to believe that Christianity is an endangered religion in America or that the name of Jesus is insufficiently spoken or appreciated? Who wakes up believing that there is no appreciation for our veterans and our armed forces and that without a noisy speech from Sarah Palin, their sacrifice would be scorned? It's not unfair to say that such grievances are purely and simply imaginary, which in turn leads one to ask what the real ones can be. The clue, surely, is furnished by the remainder of the speeches, which deny racial feeling so monotonously and vehemently as to draw attention.

Whole thing here.

Having experienced both Waterworld and the Restoring Honor rally, I can honestly say the special effects and storyline of the latter was far better, though I'm sure we all missed the villains on Jet Skis.

Hitchens is right that Christians—or even believers more generally—do feel endangered, as if religion is less in the public square than ever. This is empirically wrong: As Cathy Young noted back in 2004, it's secularism that is conspicuously missing from contemporary politics. The attendees that I and my Reason.tv colleagues spoke to at Saturday's rally were emphatic that any sort of faith (most pointedly included Islam in their list) was a mitzvah (sorry) and that secularism or atheism, which they saw as running the field, was a bad thing. "We've got to turn back to God," various people said with a lot of feeling but not a helluva lot of clarity.

This sort of ecumenicism is a massive shift from 30 or so years ago, when evangelicals routinely accused Catholics of belonging to the World's Greatest Cult. There are some echoes of this in attacks on Beck's Mormonism from Christian believers, but overall, it was a real Kumbaya crowd when it came to the Beck rally.

But what of Hitchens' point above, that since religion is doing just fine in public discourse, the real message has something to do with race? I think that the sense of loss (and nostalgia) promoted by Beck and others reflects a huge amount of anxiety and worries about displacement—not by an Other coming from Mexico, say, or by a secret Muslim in the White House but by a system that has resolutely shown it doesn't really care about any of the cogs in its machine. Most of the folks I talked with offered up George W. Bush as an idiot who got the ball rolling with bad and corrupt policies. Obama is pushing that all to the next level. Three years of recession, massive amounts of corporate bailouts, useless stimulus spending (under Bush and Obama), and more will do that to people.

For me, the strangest and most off-putting element of the day was the disjuncture between the anti-authority dimension of the rally—our leaders have disappointed us and must be called to account! – and the whole-hog deference to militarism – we need to thank our soldiers for following orders so honorably and self-sacrificingly. While there were plenty of wounded soldiers on the stage, there was absolutely zero discussion of why these guys were being sent overseas and whether we should expect the same pols who lie to us on domestic policy to be any better on foreign policy. This crowd desperately wants to believe in an ordered, moral universe, but it seems that even they can't quite nurture that mustard seed into a robust faith.

Reason.tv at the Beck rally:

NEXT: For Certain Is Debt for the Born

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  1. Why the racial angle? Well, Hitchens is still a leftist, after all.

    1. The clue, surely, is furnished by the remainder of the speeches, which deny racial feeling so monotonously and vehemently as to draw attention.

      I’ve said this a few times, but I’m going to keep on repeating it until it gets across or until a large enough number of people tell me to shut up.

      Saying that people oppose Obama because he’s black means they believe those same people would enthusiastically support Joe Biden or Hillary promulgating the same policies. If it were only Joe or Hillary, there would be 100% accord in our nation.

      Unless you are insane or stupid, it’s hard to see how you could believe this.

      1. Can you at least wait until it’s relevant?

        1. Um… Hitchens was talking (in part) about the racist opposition to Obama. Did I hallucinate that? Was the line I quoted a figment of my imagination?

      2. Yeah, I’m routinely disgusted with the religious right, but I never found the “party of racists” meme all that persuasive. We see irrational behavior and glaring inconsistencies because, well, people are people.

        1. Because racism is only a small part of their Teabaggery.

          These assholes want to roll back advances in stem cell research, reproductive rights, church/state separation, science in schools, forced prayer, and every Wahhabi Christian suffocation in civil and personal liberties they can muster.

          Hitchens – that “leftist” (presumably because he is an atheist) knows theocrats like Beck are the primary threat to liberty if they ever gain power.

          1. “Hitchens – that “leftist” (presumably because he is an atheist)…”

            No, leftist be cause he’s been a proud, outspoken Socialist for most of his life.

            1. “Most”? Why care about the 80s/90s?

              Hitchens defended his libertarianism here at Reason back in 2002 or so.

              The man has intellectual courage. Don’t lie about his statements.

              1. You’re a lying cunt.

                1. Cytotoxic,

                  I just adore such insightful, well-developed responses.

                  You slit your mama’s throat with the fingers that typed that sentence?

          2. Their threat to social liberty is of the same magnitude as the liberal threat to economic liberty.

            1. Tell that to the Bushpigs who ran federal spending up 120%.

              1. And where did it go from there? Your vagina monologues bore me to tears.

          3. Really? I didn’t know this.. thanks for telling me. Idiot.

          4. No, shreik, not because he’s an atheist (I’m agnostic), but because he’s a once and future Trotskyite.

            1. You miss the point.

              Conservatism is dying as it has no useful function other than to bolster shitty religion.

              Hitchens knows that once we move past conservatism better times are ahead.

              1. “Past conservativism”… into what? Its evil twin, liberalism?

                Gosh. That’s like choosing to have your cock stuck in a toaster, or in a waffle iron.

                1. LOL!
                  I guess I would choose the waffle iron for the nice plaid design

                2. Well, I’ll suggest, since I’m here at Reason, that one should move into libertarianism. But, I understand to the Republicans gathered here, the world is binary

      3. Being a libertarian true-believer, you are well positioned to know what combinattion of insanity and stupidity is required to believe nonsense, asshole.

        1. OH GOOD ONE

        2. Takes one to know one. Diseased Cunt Flavored Colostomy Bag.

    2. The lede paragraph from the widely printed AP story on this event used the term “predominantly white” to describe the crowd. How is that relevant? Who brought up the racial angle?

      1. My God, America is predominantly white! Nuke the bastards!

        1. From orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

        2. Not so much as you might think….errr, hope

      2. Did the AP story on the competing Sharpton rally call the crowd “predominantly black”? If so, at least they were consistent. Sadly, with so many people tossing around “racist!” accusations, race has become relevant in these stories.

    3. And still wrong.

  2. (hic) No one gives a rats ass about me anymore. Except Buddhists. They know how to treat a universe.

    1. Oh baby, you still our favorite bitch. Now roll over.

  3. For me, the strangest and most off-putting element of the day was the disjuncture between the anti-authority dimension of the rally – our leaders have disappointed us and must be called to account! – and the whole-hog deference to militarism – we need to thank our soldiers for following orders so honorably and self-sacrificingly.

    (1) Probably just the mirror-image reaction against the left’s simultaneous exaltation of the authority of the Total State, and complete disdain for the military.

    (2) Perhaps it actually shows a healthy appreciation of the distinction between a free civil society, where overweening authority isn’t welcome, and the sadly recurrent need for rough men to stand watch on the walls?

    1. When was the last time we were under threat of invasion? Where is this “recurrent need”?

      And name a leftist who has expressed “complete disdain for the military.” I dare you.

      1. You can’t handle the truth.

      2. I LOATHE THE MILITARY

      3. And name a leftist who has expressed “complete disdain for the military.” I dare you.

        Feeling the disdain!

      4. Ted Rahl, not a politician but a leftist all the way.

      5. The Soviet Union’s existence was this threat.

      6. I have personally met few self-avowed leftists who do not disdain the military. In fact I only know of one who has actually expressed any respect for service folks, beyond the obligatory I support the troops but…

        1. Good for them. Most leftists I know don’t have the balls to attack the military for the bloated, bureaucratic tool of big government it is. They still think the military is going to free Haiti, punish evildoers in Africa, etc. etc. I would submit there is, in fact, a real contradiction between supporting the Second Amendment, and supporting a large military. The whole point of the Second Amendment was to make sure we never had a large standing bureaucratic army that would lead, inevitably, to tyranny. The citizens’ militia was supposed to be our ideal.

    2. And whatever invented leftists might say in your imagination about the military, it’s gold-ribbon-wearing flag-waving patriotic republicans who tend to send soldiers off to die in pointless wars, so whenever a rightwinger like Sarah Palin gets on a soapbox about “supporting the troops” excuse me for asking “to which oil-rich country would you like to send them to be killed?”

      1. Thanks for forgetting me.

      2. Tony how many times do we have to remind your dumb ass about Democratic wars (Korea, Vietnam, Kosovo) and of the fact that the Democrats have controlled Congress since 2006 and the Whitehouse since January of 2009 yet we have more people on the ground now in Afghanistan and almost as many in Iraq as we did in 2005.

        Seriously, shut the fuck up. The people on this thread are smarter than your dumb ass lefty friends. Stop pretending they aren’t.

        1. You shut the fuck up you ignorant slut. You have no credibility on anything. I will grant you that it would only be fair to mention Vietnam since R C Dean seems to be stuck in that era with his comments about lefties who hate the troops.

          1. It would actually make more sense for lefties to hate the troops now versus Viet Nam because most of the troops in Nam were there against their will whereas all the troops there now signed up willingly for the duty, essentially enabling the idiots in charge to send them on these stupid missions.

            Being a lefty means never having to admit you don’t know what co-dependent means.

            1. I can’t speak for anyone else but I have no problem with soldiers doing their job, which is to follow the orders of their superiors. It’s the assclowns who send them to die for oil that I have a problem with.

              1. Yes. Obama has sent more troops to Afghanastan for the oil.

                Stupid cocksucker.

                1. It would be awesome if there were some countries closer, like just to the north or south, we could innvade for oil. The old war-for-oil narrative. That’s rich.

              2. Hey – Hey
                Barack Hussien
                How many kids did you kill today?

              3. …their superiors…

                Fuck you Tony!

                I only had seniors, not superiors.

              4. I can’t speak for anyone else

                That about covers it.

          2. So, NO Democrat has ever sent our troops to war. Got it.

          3. Lefties might not hate “the troops” the way they did back then, but they do hate the military as an institution. Or maybe they like bake sales, I dunno.

            1. And what would be wrong with that? This IS the place for hating vast, wasteful government bureaucracies, is it not?

              1. Sure, but why is that the only vast, wasteful government bureaucracy the left doesn’t love?

          4. Tony, when is the next anti-war rally? Team blue forgot all about bringing the troops home once their man was in the White House. Getting the White House back must have been their mission all along.

            1. Have you not noticed the troops coming home? They did only spend about 2 minutes on it on FOX so maybe you missed it.

              1. Yeah, and Obama took his sweet fuckin’ time bringing them home.

              2. Tony, we still 50,000 troops in Iraq now, but you’re willing to ignore the presence of 50,000 troops, because team blue is in charge now.

                By the way. I don’t watch Fox News. I don’t have cable. So much for your stereotype.

                1. I’m not ignoring them. I’m saying thank God President Palin isn’t sending the rest of them to Iran.

                  What do you people want? Obama could wave a magic wand and make Iraq a peaceful place after his predecessor completely gutted the country for no reason, and you’d still be bitching about something.

        2. It’s best to just ignore him John, he will never admit he’s wrong and he gets off when people respond to him.

          I’m just glad I don’t live in the same world as he, since it sure sounds pretty fucked up.

          1. Tman, please watch your language.

        3. You left out WWI and WWII. GW is a piker compared to the Democrats.

        4. You left out WWI and WWII. GW is a piker compared to the Democrats.

        5. Combat deaths in Kosovo “War”: 1

          1. Of course you mean American combat deaths. And that was one too many.

          2. I think the Serbians would push that number up a bit there MNG. We essentially bombed the civilian infrastructure until the population got so miserable they revolted against the government. Not that I care. But the same people that spent the 00s screaming about War crimes in a Iraq, didn’t say word one about the US bombing power stations and civilian water supplies in Yugoslavia.

            But you wouldn’t have been one of those people would you have MNG? You are not some Dem hack who thinks wars are only good and just when your side fights them. right?

            1. I think he’s just a person who doesn’t morally equate everything in order to give Republicans a pass.

            2. “But the same people that spent the 00s screaming about War crimes in a Iraq, didn’t say word one about the US bombing power stations and civilian water supplies in Yugoslavia.”

              You are astoundingly ignorant in your assumptions of what leftists think. The left roundly criticized Clinton for his Serbian action, didn’t you see Bowling for Columbine (or did Hannity tell you it was Teh Evil so you felt you didn’t have to?)

              1. Yeah, there were 100s of thousands marching on the Capital over the Kosovo War. And no I haven’t seen Bowling for Collumbine. I have more important things to do like scratch my ass.

                And further, the overall point stands, Democrats fight just as many wars and do so in just as harsh a way as Republicans do. So all the talk about Republicans sending people off to wars is just partisan hackary.

                But that is pretty much what you and Tony do isn’t it?

                1. John, the last “war” started under a Democratic administration was Nam which was decades ago. You cite Kosovo? Get real.

                  BTW-there were marches against the Kosovo war, they were led and conducted primarily by leftists. Of course they were not as large or repeated as the anti-Iraq ones since the military action was smaller and shorter. Duh.

                  1. Kosovo certainly counts as a war to the Serbs. Do their lives not count?

                    And further, the Democrats have owned congress since 06 and the Presidency since Janurary of 09. And they have done nothing to stop the two wars that are going on. In fact Obama escalated Afghanistan. And he is currently waging a de facto war in NW Pakistan.

                    And Bush didn’t just “start” those wars. He went into both of them with majority Democratic Congressional support.

                    Give me a fucking break. Only a delusional hack could think that we are less likely to go to war if the Democrats are in charge. That is not a slam on Democrats, that is just reality.

                    1. In this day and age we are very much less likely to go to war with Democrats in charge. Would Al Gore have invaded Iraq?

                      Would John McCain NOT have invaded Iran?

                    2. The majority of Democrats in Congress voted for invading Iraq. So I would say there is at least a decent chance Al Gore would have done the same.

                      There is your porn for the day.

                    3. “The majority of Democrats in Congress voted for invading Iraq.”

                      Does saying something that is inaccurate over and over make it true to you?

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iraq_Resolution#Passage

                    4. Tony said the GOP sends our troops to die in war, and you said “Kosovo! Democrats!” But of course very few of our troops died in that war, so it’s a pretty stupid example.

                      Also, you are an idiot here:

                      “He went into both of them with majority Democratic Congressional support.”

                      61% of House Dems voted against the Iraq War resolution.

                      And for all your babble, Obama has still started no new wars.

                    5. Of house Dems. How many Senate Dems voted against it? And look, they sure as hell support it now. Are any Congressional Dems taking Obama to task for conducting illegal drone strikes in Pakistan? For the surge in Afghanistan?

                      Obama hasn’t bombed Iran yet. But there is certainly is a lot speculation he will. It is not out of the question.

                      And when he does, you and Tony will be on here waving the flag singing the national anthem talking about how great it is or telling us how it is not a real war.

                      You have no consistency whatsoever in your positions other than a Democrat did it, it must be good.

                    6. John you idiot. I won’t speak for MNG but I’m a pacifist. If Obama started a war that was not absolutely necessary I would be protesting it just as I was for Bush’s unnecessary wars. Stop projecting. Just because you are a craven political hack party apologist doesn’t mean some of us don’t actually have principles.

                    7. “If Obama started a war that was not absolutely necessary I would be protesting it just as I was for Bush’s unnecessary wars.”

                      I am sure that is true. Of course you will find any war he starts to be necessary. We know who you are and where you stand Tony. You play on team Blue. Stop pretending otherwise.

                    8. John yes I’m a Democrat. There’s one very simple and good reason for that. They tend to be less likely to start unnecessary wars for oil.

                    9. unnecessary wars for oil

                      God, I hate this old canard. Please give me one shred of evidence that we have stolen, or unjustly taken in any way, even one barrel of oil from Iraq or Afghanistan.

                    10. “If Obama started a war that was not absolutely necessary I would be protesting it just as I was for Bush’s unnecessary wars.”

                      Just like leftists marched in the streets to protest Clinton’s Kosovo actions, but hey, John doesn’t know that happened because it wasn’t covered at Beck U!

                    11. John
                      I’m confused. Was the House not part of Congress back then? Or were you wrong to say “The majority of Democrats in Congress voted for invading Iraq.”

                      I’m betting you were wrong, but then again I usually take that bet…

                    12. Is the Senate not part of Congress. The House is only half of it.

                      And again, they support it now. They are waging wars on two fronts as we speak. Why is that so hard for you to admit you creepy little fucker?

                    13. Yes the Senate is part of Congress. But so is the House. And I wasn’t the one who made some idiot statement like this:

                      “The majority of Democrats in Congress voted for invading Iraq.”

                      So you were wrong, eh? Talking point shot down…

                    14. You are a less mature more pathetic Joe. 29 Democratic Senators voted for it, as opposed to only 21 who voted against it. And the resolution passed cloture 75-25. And even by your account 39% of the Dems in the House voted for it.

                      And the Democrats took over Congress in 2006 and continued it and approved Bush’s surge. Iraq is a bi-partisan war. When it mattered the Democrats did the right thing. They just fed boobs like you and Tony and enough bait to get you to keep voting for them.

                    15. “the last “war” started under a Democratic administration was Nam which was decades ago”

                      See, I try to think before I type. My claim is true, because unlike you and the concept “congress” I know what an “administration” means. And, I’m not wrong. See how we differ?

                    16. Your claim is that Kosovo, despite it resulting in 1000s of deaths was not a war. That is full retard.

                    17. His tenure is still young, MNG.

                      By the by… why didn’t 100% of Democrats vote against the Iraq War resolution?

                    18. “Kosovo certainly counts as a war to the Serbs. Do their lives not count?”

                      Not to a racist like MNG.

                  2. BTW-there were marches against the Kosovo war, they were led and conducted primarily by leftists

                    I will grant you that there is a small subset of pacifists who oppose any military action, regardless of party in power. But, that sidesteps the point in question.

                2. Boys boys, calm down. Democrat wars, Republican wars, it’s all good.

                  1. No. Only Democrat wars are good. And they’re not even really wars.

                    1. Now, now…let’s not argue about..who killed who…this is a joyous occasion…

                    2. World WAR II wasn’t a war, MNG?

                3. John – almost all “true” leftists (as opposed to establishment Democrats) opposed the Kosovo war. That’s a fact. I was in Cambridge, MA at the time. I saw the rallies, heard Chomsky snidely attacking Clinton on NPR, etc. etc. My right wing friends felt compelled to support the war because they didn’t want to be on the same side of an issue as Zinn and Chomsky. Stop muddying your arguments by clinging to this fantasy of yours. Talk about the invasion of Haiti – that’s a better example of leftist hypocrisy.

              2. I saw “Bowling for Columbine” all I remember from it was a cartoon that equated the NRA with the KKK because they were both formed right after the Civil War. The screen writer was ignorant of the fact that the NRA formed to protect the second amendment rights of blacks that the KKK was trying to take away.

                1. jtuf you really missed the point of that movie then. While it does explore the issue it doesn’t come down against guns at all. It comes down against a media culture of fear if anything.

                  1. Tony, I think Moore’s point was, “Ug, Ug, Conservatives stupid. Me genius.” Personally, I don’t have much respect for him or for his fans.

    3. Or because Tea baggers are Republicans who hate their leaders because they are Democrats and love the military because they are authoritarians?

      Occam’s Razor, dude

  4. The problem is that many people on the right don’t know any way to proceed other than the old reliable “Small government, Jesus, militarism” trifecta, so they double down on it in times of crisis.

    And it’s tempting to focus on the last two in any speech you give, because spending time on the first one will force you to make on-the-record statements about opposing certain government programs that Republicans [even Tea Party Republicans] are often still too chicken to officially oppose.

    1. According the the Fluffy Doctrine, which you introduced to justify the eulogies over a Hezbollah death, you are a close minded hater unless you say something nice about the other side. Fluffy, please take a moment to praise the Tea Party folks and the Republicans.

  5. Large, moist and vague… sounds like a blind date I once had.

    1. Actually, it sounds like Hitchens.

      1. No, he’s often specific.

        1. And he’s shrinking.

          1. That’s cold.

  6. Vanneman shits all over The Jacket every chance he gets, but continually gets enthusiastic hattips from him. Puzzling.

  7. This rally reminds me of the Nixon speech where he said, “It’s time for the common man in America to stand up and be counted.” Personally, I never cared if I was left out of the census.

  8. useless stimulus spending

    You mean stimulus spending that hasn’t resulted in a perfect world full of lollipops. Most economists think the jobless picture would be a lot worse without the stimulus, and you guys know that.

    So a good first step toward quelling some of this irrational anger on the right would be to stop lying to them for the very purpose of making them angry.

    1. You mean most economists who use commonly accepted multipliers of 1.55 and other BS like that.

      1. Obamaism: You have two cows. The government digs a large hole, puts your cows in, fills the hole back up, then posts a large sign telling you how many jobs were saved or created burying them.

    2. There is no way to know whether the unemployment rate would be worse without the stimulus. But the people who claim that that is the case are the same people who promised that unemployment would stay below 8% if the stimulus bill was passed. So they have little or no credibility with me.

      Remember TANSTAAFL. If we have inflated markets (real estate, labor, higher education are three examples) then sooner or later the bubble will burst and the prices will find their true floor. We can delay that with stimulus bills, zombie corporations, mortgage bailouts, etc or we can get it over with quickly and let a true recovery begin.

    3. How can you possibly know what “most economists” think about anything?

    4. “Most economists think the jobless picture would be a lot worse without the stimulus, and you guys know that.”

      Yeah, and they say that based on the same New Keynesian analysis that said the stimulus would limit unemployment to 8%, and that those MBS’s were AAA.

    5. “Most economists think the jobless picture would be a lot worse without the stimulus, and you guys know that.”

      Yeah, and they say that based on the same New Keynesian analysis that said the stimulus would limit unemployment to 8%, and that those MBS’s were AAA.

    6. So, it’s a chiseled-in-granite fact – after the fact – that the stimulus staved off certain economic doom.

      Got it.

      1. You tell me how we suddenly stopped losing half a million jobs a month. Maybe Obama’s election restored market confidence? haha

        1. Because we cut all the deadest weight in the first few months?

          1. It’s a theory. Luckily since this is a libertarian site there is no need for data or numbers.

            1. We use numbers…

              8% unemployment, remember that one?

              1. You use talking points.

                1. Whereas we liberals NEVER use talking points.

                2. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

        2. Yeah, not like it follows a parabolic curve with little on no discernable relationship to who controlled the White House or anything…

          http://bit.ly/bBzy6i

        3. Yeah, we’re not losing half a million jobs a month… but we’re still losing jobs every month.

    7. You mean stimulus spending that hasn’t resulted in a perfect world full of lollipops. Most economists think the jobless picture would be a lot worse without the stimulus, and you guys know that.

      Remember! These are the same “most economists” who all predicted that unemployment would not exceed 8% if the original “stimulus” was passed.

      “Fool me once, shame on you…”

    8. Tony’s right, you know.

  9. Hey, Waterworld is a fun movie you jacket wearing bastid’!

    And the stunt show at Universal Studios: Hollywood is off the hook, yo!

  10. As far as honoring our soldiers, here is one staff sgt’s take on the Afghan operation:

    Col Sellin’s piece, written for the news agency UPI and called “PowerPoints ‘R’ Us”, was published on Tuesday, but appears to have been born of a long period of frustration.

    Beginning by acknowledging the piece may not benefit his career, but explaining it would be therapeutic, he wrote: “I have been assigned as a staff officer to a headquarters in Afghanistan for about two months. During that time, I have not done anything productive. Fortunately little of substance is really done here, but that is a task we do well.”

    He said the international coalition’s sprawling joint command, which oversees operations across Afghanistan, was probably founded “to provide some general a three-star command”.

    It had grown from a small group of “dedicated and intelligent officers” to “a stove-piped and bloated organisation, top-heavy in rank” where “you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a colonel”.

    However he reserved his deepest criticism for the daily slide show presentations junior officers must give to keep top brass updated.

    “For headquarters staff, war consists largely of the endless tinkering with PowerPoint slides to conform with the idiosyncrasies of cognitively challenged generals in order to spoon-feed them information,” he wrote.

    Giving good presentations had become an end in itself, he said, suggesting “random motion, ad hoc processes and an in-depth knowledge of Army minutia and acronyms are also key characteristics of a successful staff officer.”

    Actual progress in the war had become “optional”, he believed.

    The cornerstone of HQ life, the commander’s update, was delivered to “semi-comatose” audience of one and two-star generals where each briefer has “1 or 2 minutes to impart either information or misinformation”.

    “Usually they don’t do either. Fortunately, none of the information provided makes an indelible impact on any of the generals.”

    Col Sellin said the joint command was to grow even more because “an officer, who is currently without one, needs a staff of 35 people to create a big splash before his promotion board”.

    Soldiers have long complained of the growing reliance on slide shows to brief people and the time dedicated to writing the presentations.

    A spokesman for the Nato joint command said Col Sellin had been sacked because he had failed to clear his comments with public affairs officers.

    Colonel Hans Bush, chief of public affairs said: “His comments do not reflect the reality of the work done every day at [joint command].

    “His insights are his own, however, his duty position and responsibilities did not offer him the situational awareness needed to validate his postings to the media.”

    The main difference between liberals and conservatives, is that liberals hate waste and inefficiency in the military, but forgive it in social welfare programs, but conservative abhor waste in inefficiency in domestic welfare initiatives, but don’t mind it in the military.

    1. Anyone who doesn’t know that war involves unbelievable waste and inefficiency and doesn’t know that militaries are giant bureaucracies that succeed often in spite of themselves, has never been to war or been around the military much.

      But there is difference between the organization and the people in it. And every war has been fought by armies with the same flaws or in most cases more. Go back and read about the World War II army. Talk about waste, incompetence and corruption. But that fact didn’t make many of the people in that Army any less noble or their cause any less just.

      1. “But that fact didn’t make many of the people in that Army any less noble or their cause any less just.”

        I think John ejaculated a little as he wrote that…

        1. Spare me your homosexual fantasies about me MNG. Seriously. That is really creepy. At least put a no homo with it or something.

          1. John
            There is nothing homosexual about you masturbating to the Battle Hymn of the Republic while watching video of WWII troop deployments. For something to be homosexual you have to have at least two men involved, and that scenario is two men short…

            1. You are really fucking weird MNG. Seriously, that is not even funny. Why don’t you go take trolling lessons from Warty or Fluffy or something. If they will give them to you.

              1. I’d just as soon drown MNG in a toilet, thank you very much.

            2. MNG, it is homosexual for you to fantasize about John masturbating during a Reason debate. I like hanging out in the gay chat rooms as much as the next guy, but there is a time and place for it. Making sexual remarks at John here is inappropriate sexual harassment.

        2. You really are a strange person MNG. And not in a good way.

          1. ^^THIS^^

        3. Right into my mouth.

          1. +1, but you’re still a douchebag bro.

      2. You know John, MNG and Tony had me feeling all warm and fuzzy for you, but, like always, you had to ruin it with your typical horseshit.

        I don’t dispute your facts, but your implication that military waste is somehow acceptable is fucking reprehensible.

    2. The main difference between liberals and conservatives, is that liberals hate waste and inefficiency in the military, but forgive it in social welfare programs, but conservative abhor waste in inefficiency in domestic welfare initiatives, but don’t mind it in the military.

      The other difference is that conservatives know that having the federal government fund a military is necessary and constitutional, while liberals don’t know that having the federal government fund social welfare programs is arguably unnecessary and unconstitutional.

      1. The question is how much military is necessary. Since neocons are going to be taking power again in 2010 this question will not be brought up for debate in the near future.

  11. In a rather curious and confused way, some white people are starting almost to think like a minority, even like a persecuted one.

    Considering that not a day goes by when white people don’t open a newspaper or to turn on a TV but to be confronted with this kind of crap, does that really surprise you?

    1. What is “this kind of crap” that you speak of?

    2. As far as I can tell, the only white people who are continuously “confronted” with “crap” about a disappearing majority and widespread racial tension are the ones who clearly want to hear exactly that, and bring the TV ratings to prove it.

  12. I think that the sense of loss (and nostalgia) promoted by Beck and others reflects a huge amount of anxiety and worries about displacement – not by an Other coming from Mexico, say, or by a secret Muslim in the White House but by a system that has resolutely shown it doesn’t really care about any of the cogs in its machine.

    Not without justification, cons see a moral-relativism/lack-of-individual-responsibility/irreligion/what-the-hell-has-happened-to-this-country nexus when they look at the left. Moral laxity, tepid spirituality, and government profligacy are tied together.

    1. Preach it. Excuse me while I go have sex with a prostitute.

    2. Right on! Oh excuse me, I had a random stranger’s cock in my mouth.

    3. Crystal meth and male prostitutes are okay because God forgives.

    4. What can I say, I like ’em young?

      1. So I guess since you have an R after your name, it is all okay then?

        1. You aren’t too bright are you?

          1. So because Mark Sanford cheated on his wife, it is okay to do so? Wow.

            1. Was someone talking to you?

              1. What do Mark Stanford or Newt Ginrich’s sexual habits have to do with whether it is a good idea for lots of people to cheat on their wives and husbands?

                1. Read Attorney’s post, idiot.

                  1. So because there are a few craven rightwing politicians, somehow the left isn’t libertine? yeah that makes sense.

                    1. We’re not perfect, but we’re not the ones claiming moral superiority and a consequent higher fitness to govern. It’s the hypocrisy, stupid.

                    2. So because there are hypocrites all morality is bunk? So what if the right can be hypocritical? Everyone can be.

                    3. We’re just really, really good at it.

                    4. As opposed to the rest of the human race.

                    5. We aren’t seeking to control the most powerful country on the planet.

                    6. So Democrats are not human? Wow.

                    7. Yes, we are human. We have affairs. We just don’t do so while pretending to be sooo morally superior and on Jesus’ side and everything.

                    8. And you never mention religion. I guess that is why you have ordained reverends in congress and the most overtly evangelical President of the 20th Century (Jimmy Carter). Democrats never beat anyone over the head with religion. Never.

                    9. There is a difference between claiming God is on your side, and striving to be on God’s side.

                    10. Now that is full retard.

                    11. Just thought I’d jump in here… John you’re going to hell.

                    12. John, you’re going to hell.

                    13. We just don’t do so while pretending to be sooo morally superior…

                      Yes you do. Always.

                      That is a near hallowed hallmark of Democratic thought and behavior.

                    14. Well, sometimes…

                    15. Don’t forget me!

                    16. Proclaiming moral and ethical standards and not living up to them is worse than having no morals and ethics and living down to that lack of standards? That makes no sense.

                      Hypocrisy being the only offense worth critcizing is intellectually lazy.

                    17. Who said Democrats had no moral standards? They are simply quieter about them AND better able to live up to them.

                    18. Transcripts of your campaign speeches notwithstanding….

            2. STFU

    5. Moral laxity, tepid spirituality, and government profligacy are tied together.

      …in a great big web of intellectual laziness and myopic exceptionalism, yeah.

      1. The Dwarves and the Elven folk can fight side by side. For the time being.

  13. Religion is childish. Hitchens hits the spot in his observation that the people at this rally were wallowing in a vague nostalgia. They want to return to a time when they were safe and warm and Mommy made them cookies and GM ruled the automotive world and they had friends just like Wally and The Beav.

    1. I forgot who said that the difference between liberals and conservatives is that conservatives have an unrealistic, idealized picture of their childhood while liberals have a an unrealistic, idealized picture of their teenage years.

    2. Fools. Don’t they know how wonderful they have it here in Obamaworld?

      1. More God! We need more God!
        Everything will be fine if we can just get some more God!

        1. As opposed to what? More debt? More government?

          1. Who wouldn’t want more debt and more government?

          2. It’s not an either/or, John. Believe it or not, you can be an atheist and want smaller government and fiscal responsibility. Those things don’t come from God.

            1. Sure you can. But if you want smaller government you better make friends wherever you can. Most people are not atheists. So you better figure out a way to deal with people who are not, or live in the wilderness.

              1. I kinda like the wilderness.

              2. It seems to me that by virtue of the existence of atheists in a largely theist world (if you don’t mind understatement), atheists have already learned how to deal with theists for their own survival.

                It is theists who need to learn to deal with those who are not.

                I don’t need to go back to god in order to believe in limited government.

              3. I don’t mean any disrespect John, but most the beef of the non-religious/atheist seem to have(at least I do) is that many Christians seem to ignore Matthew 7:3-5

                I can think of quite a few politicians and talk radio hosts that need to go and really study that passage. Until then, they can get the hell out of my affairs and leave them up to me and the big guy when it’s my time.

              4. Most people are agnostics who label themselves with the faith of their parents. A few label themselves atheists. But they, like most, are agnostic.

                People who are seriously religious or seriously atheist are much rarer than one might think.

                And, the discipline needed to really excel at one of the variants of the cult of the One God is beyond most people’s ability and desire(hence the collapse of Judaism and Christianity–both insufficiently totalitarian to succeed). So they dither at the edges.

                Likewise atheism. The ability to consign oneself to being nothing after death is something that eludes most of humanity–even those who claim a fervent atheism. To melt into the darkness behind one’s eyelids is hard to accept because there is no darkness behind one’s eyes–there is everything there. And so, these dither as well, claiming it, but harboring that little voice that tells them that they will continue.

                But morality does not come from God, no matter how much those who follow Jehovah/Yahweh/Allah would like you to think otherwise. There are thousands of years of stories about the gods that predate the bibles of the One God–and they make it clear that ‘morality’ is exactly what it appears to be–a shifting set of rules that enables people to live alongside one another without killing each other wholesale.

                And the ‘shifting’ part is important. We evolved from a shrew-like animal, would the rules of that society still apply? Would we be best served by using the morality of shrews? Humans change–it’s inevitable. Morality will–and must– shift to accomodate that change. Evolution. It happens whether you ‘believe’ in it or not.

                Yet humans cling to the maunderings of desert tribes as holy writ, permanent and immobile.Even the Constitution has mechanisms for change.

                By refusing to move, to change, you set yourself in place, and as humanity passes, the wilderness grows up again–leaving you in it’s midst, as humanity passes beyond your understanding.

          3. No, more individual freedom, more personal accountability.

            Do you know where you are?

            1. That’s what the event was about.

          4. More reason?

          5. More cowbell.

    3. *Yawn* Calling something childish is a classic demonstration of your inability to form a rational argument against it.

  14. This column of his, and the last one he quickly semi-retracted about the evil racist anti-mosque teafuckers, show Hitchens, faced with an ugly uncertainty, running back to his old God.

    It’s like raaaaayeeeeeyaiiiiiiin…

    1. Hardly. Hitchens proves that there are atheists in foxholes.

      1. of course there are.

        1. Indeed there are. There’s a whole group of them, in fact…

          http://www.maaf.info/

  15. Overall, people are getting less religious – the % of Americans that identify as having no religious affliation has gone from 8.2% to 15.0% from 1990 to 2008 (see here). People really are getting less religious, and at a fairly high rate.

    So how has religion maintaned such a public role even as the population gets more secular? The answer is eccumenicism. During the same time frame, affliation with specific Christian demoninations has generally declined, while non-affliated Christanity has increased. The rise of a more generic conception of Christianity that also emphasizes it’s commonality with other religious belief systems makes it easier to craft a religious message that the overwhelming majority of the population (the religious still compose over 75% of the population) will respond well too. And the eccumenicism itself may be a defense mechanism against losing believers – more flexibility about how far one must stray from doctrine to be an apostate may be an attempt to prevent dissenters from making a complete break from religion. Hence, we have conditions in which religious belief can be on the decline but the role of religion in public discourse can be on the rise and possibly even a causal relationship between the two.

    1. “the % of Americans that identify as having no religious affliation has gone from 8.2% to 15.0% from 1990 to 2008”

      85% still have a religious affiliation. What else can you say about that large of a percentage of the population? Maybe it is only a 700 pound gorilla rather than the old 800 pound one. But it is still one big gorilla.

      1. But how many of that 85% are really serious about it?

        All of America’s anti-religious behavior doesn’t just come from the 15%. Not that christians can’t fuck up, but daily, willing, repeated fuck-ups(by their own standards, not mine) make one question that persons commitment.

        I spent many years as a bible-quoting, scripture-dividing born-again christian, and I can say that most of the christians I encountered didn’t have a fucking clue about anything beyond ‘jesus is good’ and ‘god loves me’.

        1. You don’t seem to have a clue either, which is fine. It’s not about setting others “straight”, but setting yourself straight. You either do it or you don’t, it’s not your job to go tell everyone else how to live a life in accordance with god.

          I think this is what Beck is trying to communicate with the personal accountability rhetoric, but I know how politicians are going to grab onto this in 2010, and it scares me as much as what’s going on now with Obama.

          Beck said it himself on his own show about a year ago: there was a radical swing to the left politically because of Bush, but wait until the pendulum swings the other way. He seems to be helping to swing it, and he’s either oblivious to it or he’s reveling in it.

          1. Can you explain your first paragraph, because I don’t see how it follows from anything I said.

            Are you trying to tell me what christianity is all about? Who gives a shit? My point is that, of the 85% of Americans who call themselves religious, most aren’t, beyond a vague identification with a set of beliefs and culture that they barely understand.

          2. Can you explain your first paragraph, because I don’t see how it follows from anything I said.

            Are you trying to tell me what christianity is all about? Who gives a shit? My point is that, of the 85% of Americans who call themselves religious, most aren’t, beyond a vague identification with a set of beliefs and culture that they barely understand.

    2. Even if you look beyond Christians, Americans in general believe that good people of all faiths can get into heaven. I’ve mentioned this to non-Americans online. The idea was new to them, and they liked it.

  16. In a rather curious and confused way, some white people are starting almost to think like a minority, even like a persecuted one.

    White people aren’t a minority, but Glenn Beck doesn’t appeal to white people in general, but a subset of them which have specific religious and political beliefs – if people who identify with the worldview Beck is pitching were a majority, or even close to one, Obama certainly wouldn’t have been elected president. They probably don’t even compose more than 15% of the US population. If a group composes 15% of the population and most elected officials and a good chunk of the media is hostile towards them, it’s not hard to see how feelings of persecution will develop. Add to this the political advantages of claiming victimhood and it becomes inevitable.

    1. I would say they are more like 35%. But you make a good point.

  17. It’s no coincidence that FoxNews’ audience is less than 2% black. At the same time, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Fox, or Beck or O’Reilly, is racist. The strain of conservatism represented most on Fox is surely nativist and exclusive, however.

    I think the GOP is in the process of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. By playing the white victims of multiculturalism and demographic changes, Republicans alienate too many minorities, whether those minorities are defined by race, religion, or culture.

    As for religion, I don’t see how the far right can claim the high moral ground. Liberalism and socialism aren’t evil, IMO, just too idealistic for my taste, and perhaps poorly adapted to American culture and society. Beck and his like conflate religion and politics at their own peril…and ours, I’m afraid. http://www.newsprism.com

    1. The strain of conservatism represented most on Fox is surely nativist and exclusive, however.

      Oh, bullshit. “Nativist” is just a lazy slur against people who don’t like uncontrolled borders and tens of millions of illegal aliens, and from what I can tell from the Fox commentary shows I’ve seen, they practically have an affirmative action program to find guests who aren’t white males.

      1. Since “nativists” has always referred to people who had a problem with whatever group of immigrants were swarming over the borders, I don’t really see how it’s a slur.

        1. Nowadays it’s a semi-polite word for “racist.” A “code word,” if you will.

        2. Considering that Pascrell (NJ 8 Dem) sponsored HR 5397 in May of 2010. I would say the the left is rather nativist. Section 102 of HR 5397 says:

          If the employer employs 50 or more employees in the United States, the sum of the number of such employees who are H-1B nonimmigrants plus the number of such employees who are nonimigrants described in section described in section 101(a)(15)(L) may not exceed 50 percent of the total number of employees.

          When I asked Pascrell if he was willing to raise the number of diversity visas to 1 million per year and open the diversity lottery up to people from all nations, he said he would not because he wants to reserve jobs for Americans and he doesn’t want people from “certain countries” taking those jobs.

          The thing is, the left will never call Pascrell on his bigotry, because he is on team blue.

  18. @ 3:24:

    There appears to be some dude flashing Lunchables (TM).

    Subtle product placement Gillespie. Very sneaky.

  19. Why would someone as clueless as Hitchens be writing on a blog called ‘Reason’ since Hitchens is the most UN reasonable person I know? LOL

  20. With the untimely death of D.L. Hopper the legend of “Waterworld” continues to grow

  21. Liberalism and socialism aren’t evil, IMO,

    Since they are essentially the paint job on an authoritarian State, I would disagree.

    1. Ditto. The belly of the beast isn’t the problem, it’s about 6 inches south of there. Oh, it burns, it burns!!

    2. + 4 R C Dean

  22. Hitchens has an infinitely more intelligent take on the Beck rally than that cock sucking Nick Gillespie with his tepid right-wing apologetics.

    1. You’re very unpleasant. Please go away.

        1. He’s even more unpleasant than he appears. But his mom likes the way he licks her snatch.

      1. Go suck Ron Paul’s cock.

        1. What? Are you too tired from sucking mine? You are the resident cocksucker so get sucking you faggoty piece of shit.

  23. “…not by an Other coming from Mexico, say, or by a secret Muslim in the White House…”

    What about the guy in your video who said that a good Muslim kills Christians? Was that guy not xenophobic?

    Just because we, as libertarians, hate religion doesn’t mean that hate directed at people of a certain religion is acceptable. That goes for Beckian Judeo-Christian populists as well as Muslims. Both should be free to be who they be so long as they aren’t hurting anyone else. Gotta respect their right to practice how they want to — that is, if you have principles.

    You should be condemning that fucking bigot, Gillespie, but I haven’t seen you mention him once. At least you captured him on video, so that those of us with morals can do so.

    I think that Reason, as a whole, is far too tolerant of intolerance toward Muslims, an intolerance that is probably the most widespread, internalized, sanitized, and mainstream in America today.

    (I should also mention that I’m aware that some Muslims are intolerant of other peoples/religions. But that doesn’t make it okay to be intolerant to them. I would hope that libertarians, of all people, would be able to stick to a basic moral precept like that.)

    1. Calvin, I agree that there are many tolerant Muslims. Just look at http://www.reformislam.org and http://www.scadi-ny.com. However, I wouldn’t chalk up that man’s comment solely to bigotry. The most broadcasted Muslims are the ones that they Muslims have to kill others. It’s probably because so many Muslim majority countries are run by dictators who only let haters publish. It is no wonder that he forms his perception based on the most prominent representatives of Islam. If we want to stop the stereotypes about Muslims, we have to get more internet access and publishing resources to the Kurds and Kosovans.

      1. Or the millions of Muslims in the US? How deep is that cave you live in?

        John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington all wrote approvingly of Islam and of Muslims’ freedom to worship. Think we can get at least that far?

        1. I’ll defend Islam all day… but you fucking Christ-suckers, on the other hand, deserve no love.

          1. Hey! That’s what *I* was gonna post!

            1. No, you BOTH stole my post idea!

        2. Yeah, SCADI is based in North America. Tony, did you even bother to read my post and follow the links, or do you just have a knee jerk reaction of insulting anyone who suggests that there’s a problem we need to fix?

        3. Can you cite any of this? ‘Cos I’m pretty sure that Jefferson fought the Barbary War against Muslim pirates/privateers who were attacking the US–and that they were doing so expressly in accordance with their faith

          Of course, Hitchens could be wrong…

          http://www.slate.com/id/2157314/

  24. The strain oftwilight movie dvd conservatism represented most on Fox is surely nativist and exclusive, however.

    I think the GOP is in the process of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. By playing the white victims of multiculturalism and demographic changes, naruto episode dvdRepublicans alienate too many minorities, whether those minorities are defined by race, religion, or culture.

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