Well, now Cassandra accuses me of "missing the point," as does Little Miss Attila, to both of whom I will reply with the famous words of The Outlaw Josey Wales:
"Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining."In this context, i.e., don't insult me and then pretend you didn't intend to insult me.
"Oh, you missed the point" = "You're too stupid to understand my argument." No, I'm just too busy (or perhaps too lazy) to bother with a point-by-point forensic engagement with your argument.
To assert that my Rule 5 blogging is sometimes indecorous is to state the obvious. Being indecorous is kind of the point. We live in a world constrained by political correctness, including the feminist insistence (backed by threat of federal lawsuit) that even the mildest workplace acknowledgement of a woman's beauty is vicious "harassment."
So it occurs to me that normal red-blooded guys might need some kind of "safe zone" exempt from this uptight neo-Victorianism. Out there in the cruel world, a guy could be professionally ruined if he were overheard to remark, "Hey, nice stems on that blonde." But here? Heh.
Cassandra, perhaps you didn't catch the significance when one of your commenters, Joan of Argghh, observed: "I don't even get the idea that he is being serious, it is almost a parody of Ace's site."
Bingo! Ace of Spades is like the John Galt of the 'sphere in this regard. I was an anonymous AOSHQ Moron for a long time before I started this blog, and even if I am a second-class imitation Ace, at least I chose a first-class model to emulate. (Never emulate mediocrity. There is already one too many of David Brooks.)
Some explanation is in order. When I first started reading AOSHQ, I was then employed as a news editor at The Washington Times, where I was forbidden to have opinions, and could have been "dooced" if my anonymous contributions to the moronosphere had been discovered. Meanwhile (after nearly being fired for my commentary on Ralph Reed at my old Donkey Cons blog), I assumed the role of unofficial blogospheric ambassador for the newspaper, promoting our news content to conservative bloggers.
This role continued up until I quit the paper in January 2008, after which (a) Matthew Vadum and I threw the most kickass party in the history of CPAC, and (b) Ace won "Blogger of the Year" honors at CPAC. Those two events are associated in my mind because it seems to me that, if the GOP has any future as a vehicle of conservatism, we need to put the "party" back in the Republican Party.
Look, I'm an ex-Democrat. I voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 but have since co-authored the most thoroughly documented compendium of Democratic Party scandals ever published. My background gives me a distinctive, if not indeed unique, perspective on why so many voters hate the Republican Party. (As they most certainly do.)
Nothing hurts the GOP worse than the perception that Republicans are a bunch of stuffy, uptight, plastic, hypocritical, think-they're-better-than-everybody phonies.
A few weeks ago, I had an interesting telephone conversation with Andrew Breitbart, in which we each expressed our own perspective on this phoniness problem that plagues the GOP. What Breitbart said, to paraphrase generally, is that there are too many Republicans who think that wearing a nice suit is what it means to be "Reaganesque." This superficial, phony, cookie-cutter faux-Reaganism is destroying the Republican Party. Why?
First of all, it allows sub-standard ability and unsatisfactory behavior to be tolerated. Congressman X may have voted for all kinds of bad legislation, he may be a puppet of lobbyists and a closet homosexual, but so long as he looks good in a suit and sounds "Reaganesque" in his speeches, well, he's all right with the "base."
And ditto for all the campaign consultants and operatives who helped the national Republican Party spend nearly $800 million in the 2008 election cycle. Never mind whether Consultant Y actually delivers winning campaign strategies. He's a longtime Republican who's got all the right friends, says all the right things, and wears the right "Reaganesque" suits, so he keeps getting hired and keeps losing elections.
The other, and more profoundly problematic, aspect of this imitation-Reagan schtick is that it attracts phonies to the Republican coalition while driving away many Ordinary Americans who, while they might embrace basic conservative values, can't stand the phoniness and the dumbed-down RNC talking-points style of discourse emanating from the GOP. If people don't want to be in the "Big Tent" nowadays, maybe it's because they can't stand the stench of heaped-up bullshit.
Ace of Spades HQ is a bullshit-free zone. Ace does not hesitate to call bullshit when he sees it and, even if he sometimes has to chastise the morons who push things too far, he is basically hostile to the kind of weak, defensive, cowardly craving for Republican "respectability" that is the essence of the GOP's current problems.
Look, I am not in the business of politics. I am in the business of journalism. I Write For Money. My objective is to make a gazillion dollars. So far, this greedy profit scheme hasn't exactly worked like a finely-tuned machine. However, let me point out to you that there are quite a few people out there who claim to be philosophical idealists -- disclaiming any interest in filthy Mammon -- who have gotten rich in politics.
Ralph Reed collected something like $5 million from Jack Abramoff's clients, OK? And he sure as hell isn't the only guy in GOP politics who's hustled a fortune out of Conservatism, Inc. (People talk a lot at Washington cocktail parties, especially if they don't take you too seriously. Hint, hint.) So if I act the part of a clown, if my blogging doesn't always exemplify Christian values, if I make a point of being a greedy capitalist blogger, maybe it's because I would never want to be mistaken for one of those pious, uptight, power-tripping 501(c) phonies.
Think back in your mind to 2004-2005, when with the help of Ohio "values voters," it seemed that Karl Rove had achieved the Permanent Republican Majority. Now, ask yourself what happened. Did the GOP piss away its majority because . . .
. . . Ann Coulter said mean things about John Edwards?Maybe you're starting to get my drift here. There is zero evidence for the contention that the GOP's woes can be blamed on "mean-spirited" remarks by various conservative media personalities. On the other hand, you may wish to ask whether the GOP pissed away its majority because . . .
. . . Rush Limbaugh said mean things about Donovan McNabb?
. . . Ace of Spades killed too many hobos?
. . . Jack Abramoff got a bunch of Republican congressmen neck-deep into an ugly influence-peddling scam?
. . . the ambitious try for Social Security reform allowed Democrats to scare Grandma that those mean Republicans were going to take away her check?
. . . the average middle-of-the-road "swing" voter couldn't understand why keeping Terri Schiavo alive was an issue requiring emergency legislation in Congress?
. . . "compassionate conservatism" meant compromising with Ted Kennedy in such a way that the "conservatism" kind of got lost in the process?
. . . we invaded Iraq without a coherent exit strategy and the president declared "Mission Accomplished" about 3,000 dead GIs too soon?
. . . Rep. Mark Foley showed a keen interest in House pages, Rep. Vito Fossella showed a keen interest in fathering an out-of-wedlock child, and Sen. Larry Craig showed a keen interest in an undercover cop?
. . . the open-borders "immigration reform" promoted by President Bush and Republican Senate leaders was 180 degrees opposite of the kind of policy that most voters actually wanted?
. . . the Republican Party nominated as its 2008 standard-bearer a short, bald, grumpy old guy who had managed to be on the wrong side of nearly every issue since 1998?
Like I said, maybe you're getting my drift here. Hindsight is 20/20, but I think we can all agree that there were plenty enough policy miscues, personal scandals and political blunders to explain the electoral misfortunes of the Republican Party, without scapegoating Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter or anyone else who isn't a former Republican president or a senior senator from Arizona. I don't know about you guys, but when Republicans fuck up, I tend to want to blame the fuck-ups.
Maybe I'm an asshole. Or maybe I just play one on the Internet. Miss Attila has met me on at least four occasions (CPAC 2006, 2008 and 2009, plus a 2007 shindig in Santa Barbara), and I hope she would testify that, despite my legendary weakness for the double-entendre, I can be reasonably civil and at times downright courtly. Certainly, after that 2008 blowout party, I cannot be accused of a lack of hospitality.
Ace of Spades isn't my only role model, you know. Watch this video of two excellent role models in action, in the library of Twelve Oaks:
Accused of wrongdoing, Ashley protests his innocence, seeking to ease Scarlett's hurt with words of kindness. She maligns innocent Melanie. When Scarlett slaps his face, he stiffens in a dignified manner and silently departs. Well played, sir!
Ah, but then that "black-hearted varmint" Rhett makes his appearance, scoffing at Scarlett's pretended virtue, returning insult for insult with frankly lecherous insinuations. Scarlett is outraged, denouncing Rhett, who sends her off with masculine laughter ringing in her ears. Well played, sir!
Shall I manifest the spirit of chivalry or mischief? Dear ladies, forgive me if my irreverent remarks about Carrie Prejean's fake boobies offended your delicate sensibilities. Please understand that years of youthful association with companions of low character have irretrievably corrupted me, rendering me permanently unfit for polite society. Whether or not my apologies are accepted, let me directly address this question:
"How does one celebrate human sexuality and sexual differences in a way that’s still fundamentally respectful?"
Why, Miss Attila, do you mean to suggest that this question never entered my mind? Or rather, do you suppose that I must also balance other considerations, such as how to generate enough traffic for my blog so that I can occasionally sling a bit of traffic toward my friends? And do you suppose that I am the only blogger on the planet who realizes the traffic to be gained by being the first to blog about, inter alia, "Sarah Palin bikini pics"?
Imagine the concupiscent fellow out there who Googles in quest of such a keyword combination. Would you prefer that the traffic thus generated be monopolized by liberal sleazebags like Perez Hilton? Should such traffic go only to people who hate Sarah Palin and hate Carrie Prejean and hate everything they stand for? Or do you think there may be some redemptive value if occasionally -- perhaps only in 1 out of 100 such random Google hits -- that fellow clicks onto a conservative site?
Hey, maybe some of these guys might decide to vote Republican. And maybe some of them will be intrigued enough by my crazy-ass blogging that they start clicking around the site and read some of the more serious stuff I write. Maybe some few of them will look at my blogroll and say, "Who is this Little Miss Attila?"
Click. You're welcome. "Hits is hits," eh?
Sometimes, when I do one of these autobiographical things, especially in Rule 4 situations, the object of the lecture will link my rebuttal and accuse me of "incoherence." Excellent. If there is method to my madness, do you suppose I'd write an instruction manual to the method and post it on my blog, all in one place, so that any random left-wing asshole could e-mail it around for analysis?
It was enough that I posted The Rules -- a few tips without much explanation of the underlying philosophy -- and if someone wants a more thorough understanding of the method (or the madness) they've got two choices:
- Pay me for it; or
- Keep reading and trying to figure out exactly what the hell I'm up to.
Look, I spent years reading Allah, Ace and other top bloggers. For most of those years, I was prohibited from doing personal blogging. But I studied hard to try to figure out how this whole blogosphere doohickey works, and fancy that my scholarship has not been in vain.
In his novel, The New Austerities, my friend Tito Perdue wrote a scene where his protagonist, a man of tremendous culture and erudition compelled by penury to labor for an insurance company, is called into his boss's office. The protagonist notices that, in this entire magnificent office, there is only one book, The Tao of Management -- a satirical reference to all those silly how-to-succeed books that are consumed by philistines. In that one tiny detail, Tito expressed a whole lot about what is wrong with the world.
Pastor Sam Childers (a Christian missionary whose book Another Man's War has been prominently displayed on my sidebar for the past two months) told me something that has stuck in my mind. Sometimes, Sam will go to one of these big pastor's conferences and find himself sitting in a seminar on a subject like "effective leadership," and the guy in charge of the seminar can hardly even be considered an adequate public speaker, much less an effective leader. So why is that guy getting paid to run this seminar, while Sam -- a natural-born leader -- is paying money to sit in the audience, bored and annoyed at the waste of his time?
We seem to be suffering from what can only be described as a "meritocracy of mediocrity," a system of perverse incentives, a faulty mechanism which guarantees that only second-rate people rise to the top. (Tim Geithner? Arlen Specter? Joe Biden?)"Personnel is policy" was a maxim that conservatives learned during the Reagan era. If you get the wrong man for the job, don't expect the job to be done right. When things go wrong -- and things have gone disastrously wrong for the GOP in recent years -- you can be assured that incompetent, dishonest, stupid or just plain wrong-headed people have weaseled their way into key positions.
Lately, the Republican Party seems to have been operating a full-employment program for the congenitally clueless, and until people wake up to the true nature of the problem, it's never going to get fixed.
Is this "incoherent"? What does this have to do with Cassandra and Attila criticizing my boobie-blogging? I began this post by saying they had insulted me, and they have.
If Cassandra thought my blogging was offensive, my e-mail address is not exactly a secret, and even if my inbox is always overflowing, I might have been expected to notice an e-mail from a lady with a clever subject line. But rather than criticize me privately, she held me up to public ridicule. And when I threw the "tu quoque" brushback pitch, she insinuated that I was too stupid to understand her argument. Attila, my friend, was more gracious, but certainly a friend might have considered not piling on as she did.
What should I do in response? Well, I could have stiffened and ignored the insults. But this would have left them believing a lie. So instead I have devoted time to pointing out the nature of their mistake: Just because you don't know what I'm doing, don't jump to the conclusion that I don't know what I'm doing.
Nothing succeeds like success, and nothing fails like failure. I've seen enough of both to know the difference, and when I see success, my habit is to emulate and praise it. This habit has led some to accuse me of being a suck-up: "Oh, he just says nice things about [insert successful conservative blogger] because he wants the traffic."
Of course I want the traffic, you morons! But if Michelle Malkin or Glenn Reynolds deserves praise, should I be silent rather than risk the accusation of suck-uppery? I also praise M. Stanton Evans, Phyllis Schlafly and Thomas Sowell, who don't have blogs, to say nothing of my praise for Edmund Burke, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek and Ronald Reagan -- dead men who don't throw a guy a lot of traffic. I didn't praise Hayek out of a desire to be named "a top Hayekian public intellectual," but because Hayek was a great genius who wrote great books that deserve to be studied by everyone who wishes to understand economics.
While we're on this subject, perhaps somebody could testify how hard I work -- admittedly in a haphazard way -- to lift up conservative bloggers who are not in a position to throw me any huge amount of traffic. If somebody's doing good work out there, trying hard to improve their blog-fu, I consider it an obligation to help them, in the same way other bloggers have helped me. Blogging is a cooperative enterprise, which is the not-so-secret philosophy of Rule 2. It gets lonely as hell out here, sometimes, and reciprocal linkage is like that cold beer and an "attaboy" to let you know you've got friends.
Way back in May 2007, I helped organize a roundtable discussion of conservative bloggers to address the basic question: Why is the Left kicking our ass out there? It was plainly evident after the 2006 election that the Right didn't have its mojo working online, and one of the answers that came up at that roundtable was this: Conservative bloggers don't cooperate effectively as activists the way bloggers on the Left do.
You can make of that what you will, but I think it's a fair criticism, and we need to ask ourselves why this is so. Part of the problem, it seems to me, is that conservatives take pride in their independence and individuality. They don't want to be seen as part of an amorphous blob, which is why the right doesn't have anything remotely like DailyKos, with umpteen-thousand diarists and 700 comments on every post.
Well, OK, fine. I don't go for the blob mentality, either. But this same individualistic pride leads to two harmful and interrelated tendencies on the Right:
- The Praise Deficit -- The Left is never afraid to praise its leaders and heroes, but many on the Right seem to feel they are somehow diminished if they praise others. Every once in a while, it would be nice if some conservative columnist would devote 700 words to pointing out what a tremendous thing Rush Limbaugh has accomplished. It is not much of an exaggeration to say that the man single-handedly created talk radio as we know it today. If many columns like that have been written, I haven't seen them, and there ought to be more of them. People who are out there doing good work need to be celebrated, and held up as role models for others to emulate, and we on the Right don't do this -- at least until these great people die.
- The Criticism Surplus -- As soon as anyone has any meaningful success as a conservative, a flock of Republican ravens sets upon them, denigrating everything they say or do. The same people who feel themselves diminished if they praise others tend to feel that they can build themselves up by tearing other people down. Has Ann Coulter said some things I wish she hadn't said? Yes. But is she also a powerful conservative voice who regularly fills auditoriums on university campuses, exposing untold thousands of students to a message they never hear in their classrooms? Hell, yes. But oh, don't the likes of Megan McCain and Kathleen Parker love to take cheap shots at Coulter!
So I've tried, in my own relatively insignificant corner of the 'sphere, to reverse these tendencies. I've trashed people like David Brooks, who have "succeeded" by never doing anything useful for the conservative cause (if there's anything the New York Times loves, it's a thoroughly useless "conservative"), and I've praised people like Malkin, Limbaugh, Instapundit, and Coulter, who have striven mightily to accomplish something.
And, yes, I've done a little blogging about boobies. "Respectful"? Well, maybe there are more respectful ways to blog about a great rack. But I call your attention to the Arthur Koestler quote at the top of the page:
"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up."
I wish Carrie Prejean hadn't gotten breast implants, and that's the ruthless truth. Crucify me.
One hears a lot of chatter from Republicans nowadays that conservatives need to be more tolerant and "inclusive" toward gays. Well, how about a little tolerance and inclusiveness for heterosexuality, huh? I mean, if we don't want people to think we're the party of clueless, uptight fuddy-duddies, how about we stop acting like a bunch of clueless, uptight fuddy-duddies?
And how about some consideration of the possibility that if I go a little bit overboard (OK, a lot overboard) in this regard, maybe it's because I'm trying to smack some people upside their thick heads so they'll pay attention to the real nature of some of the problems in the conservative movement?
Like I said, Cassandra, just because you don't know what I'm doing doesn't mean that I don't know what I'm doing. You've insulted me and sought to humiliate me, and then -- here you caused me to invoke the Josey Wales Principle -- pretended I was too stupid to understand that I was being insulted.
For any genuine wrong I have committed or offense I have caused, I am always willing to apologize. When others do me wrong, I am sometimes hot-tempered in response, and for this I also apologize. But still, don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining.