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The Apologist

[ 46 ] February 7, 2011 |

I know I should lie low for a while, but when the targets are this soft arguments are this remarkably silly*:

Could you please read this NYT article very carefully and explain to me how we know it was the Egyptian government’s secret police as opposed to an exercise by opponents of the government, done to induce reporters to write stories antagonistic to the government?

Ok. Well, let’s start with this:

We had been detained by Egyptian authorities, handed over to the country’s dreaded Mukhabarat, the secret police, and interrogated.


At the outskirts of Cairo, we were stopped at what looked like a civilian checkpoint.

We had been through many checkpoints without problems, but after the driver opened our trunk a tremendous uproar began. They saw a large black bag with an orange ZDF microphone poking out. In the tense environment, television crews had been attacked and accused of creating anti-Egyptian propaganda. We had been in the middle of a near-riot with the same crew the day before.

The crowd shouted and banged on the car, pulling the doors open. The ZDF crew in the other car managed to drive off, while we were stuck. Instead of dragging us out as we expected, two men pushed their way into the backseat. We were relieved that they were taking us from the crowd, until one pulled out his police identification. Rather than helping us escape, he was now detaining us.

Perhaps too charitably, let’s assume that not even Althouse could believe that the reporters were delivered to the resistance by…the Egyptian authorities themselves. So what we have to assume if we’re to buy Althouse’s conspiracy theory is that the nascent, largely ad hoc resistance 1)successfully impersonated one level of state authority convincingly enough to fool both experienced reporters and other Egyptian civilians, 2)successfully disguised a building to look like a detention center, 3)successfully impersonated another level of state authority, and 4)managed to cast a bunch of people to convincingly play torture victims. We’re already dealing with implausibility packed on implausibility here, with no convincing explanation (let alone evidence) to explain a single one.   Conversely, there’s no underlying reason to doubt the account — the Egyptian state has detained and threatened a substantial number of journalists, and the Mubarak regime’s extensive use of torture is well-documented.

But wait — it gets nuttier. What makes Althouse skeptical about the account is “the hearing without seeing.” So, her logic seems to be that if the reporters had been detained by real state authorities, they would have been shown the torture first-hand! Because of the typical policy of most authoritarian regimes is to give reporters as much access to their private torture chambers as possible! I…Jesus.

I think this tops “Maybe Rand Paul’s goons were Code Pink ratfuckers,” although perhaps not “it’s entirely plausible that Jose Padilla had to be tortured to keep him from blinking secret terrorist messages to other people from solitary confinement at Gitmo.” Either way, if there’s some conservative necessity to defend arbitrary violence Althouse can always be counted on for an argument that makes your average Troofer theory look like a model of logical rigor.

*Edited to conform to the war on metaphor.  Which is not a real war!


Comments (46)

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  1. Malaclypse says:

    I just read this article and felt like the reporters could have been duped by people manufacturing disinformation.

    Ann, just because you could be duped by an eight-year-old in a Halloween costume with a cardboard box for a room, does not mean the world shares your track record.

    The irony is she believes she is displaying skepticism with this post.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      Seriously, John Yoo or Rush Limbaugh could sell her 50 acres of oceanfront property in Wyoming.

      • Bill Murray says:

        The key is not to say when the ocean was there.

        also, did you mean Mukhabarat when you used Mubarak in the sentence below?

        “and the Mubarak ’s extensive use of torture is well-documented.”

      • Malaclypse says:

        The thing to remember, whenever she gets you really annoyed, is that 30 years or so from now Madison will become a mecca for every grifter selling magazine subscriptions, driveway paving services, and roofing under the sun.

  2. Xenocrates says:

    Anne has finally gone around the bend, and is now working her way to the richly-deserved obscurity from which she arose. Wrong, wrong, wrong again, but still free to hit the “Publish” button after two boxes of wine. At least she continues to amuse me…stupid cow.

  3. rm says:

    Sounds an awful lot like the duplicate android police department in Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? How indeed can we be sure that the protesters are not all androids? Or the police agents?

    (For the record, I am against using gender-specific epithets to attack stupid or wrong writers, so Xenocrates, do you really think the word “cow” is worth using? And if you do, you’re a stupid asshole whatever your gender).

  4. DrDick says:

    This woman gets paid to teach law at the University of Wisconsin??!? The mind she boggles and the stomach she churns.

  5. herr doktor bimler says:

    Could you please […] explain to me how we know it was the Egyptian government’s secret police as opposed to an exercise by opponents of the government [..] ?

    One indicator might have been the fact that only one of the two parties is motivated to drive journalists out of the country and to ensure that events in Egypt receive no attention from the outside world.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’m beginning to think that the next time Professor Althouse goes to open a fresh box of wine, she may find several of them missing.

  7. herr doktor bimler says:

    I imagine that Prof. Althouse has no great personal investment in the theory that the people arresting and intimidating journalists are really among those trying to topple Mubarak’s regime, any more than in the journalists’ own report that they were Egyptian police. So really she’s being contrarian here for for its own sake.

    I can’t see the appeal of empty sophistry myself, but it motivates any number of Internet trolls so clearly it exists. Perhaps she’s hoping to become the next Camille Paglia. Of course that brings me no closer to an explanation because I have no idea why anyone would want to seize Paglia’s mantle, but it is not for me to delve into the motivation of law professors.

  8. Uncle Kvetch says:

    So really she’s being contrarian here for for its own sake.

    I fear you’re giving her too much credit. The emergent wingnut meme is that the protests are a stalking horse for the takeover of Egypt by crazee radical Mooslims, with Obama’s acquiescence or enthusiastic support, take your pick. Glenn Beck is squealing it nightly, while Palin and Althouse are sticking to dark insinuations…for now, anyway. How do we know the protesters are sincere about democracy, and that they aren’t actually crazee radical Mooslims? Just because they say they’re not? Well they would say that, wouldn’t they? And what if the President is secretly backing the establishment of a crazee radical Mooslim government in Egypt? Sure, he’d deny it…but he would, wouldn’t he?

    Nobody knows what’s going to happen in Egypt, but for Althouse and her ilk, it isn’t really important. What’s important is that whatever happens be spun as a Very Bad Thing, and this Very Bad Thing be directly imputable to Barack Obama. Nothing else matters.

    At this rate I’d wager that Althouse stands a good chance of getting a plum assignment in the next Republican presidential administration…as Scott points out in the OP, she’s got the Rovian ratfucking instincts down pat. And notice that her defender and spouse hasn’t uttered a word about the actual topic of the post. Just deflect, deflect, deflect. That’s how the game is played.

  9. Gus says:

    You know, Althouse must have some smarts. It takes some brains to be a professor at a very good law school. So why does everything she says outside of her professional realm sound so incredibly stupid?

  10. […] yes, but how do we know that the protesters weren’t torturing themselves? Certainly, that seems much more plausible than a regime with an extensive history of torture using […]

  11. […] in the wrong place — clearly, “Blogger” is just a simulacrum created by the Egypitan resistance.   And, yes, her defenses of her witlessly offensive commenters are particularly hilarious in […]

  12. Hogan says:

    Can someone put Meade in a cab and send him home?

  13. Tyto says:

    Apparently, we don’t all know too well what a Glock looks like: that’s clearly a Beretta. But thanks for playing.

  14. Malaclypse says:

    Hey, we all know now, only too well, what Glocks look like, right?

    Does it look like a lower-case “d”?

  15. Scott Lemieux says:

    Wow, an Althouse acolyte goes straight for the (feeble) ad hominem rather than trying to defend the indefensible on the merits. What are the odds? It must be said that, in this respect only, her troll army is smarter than they appear.

    Alas, I didn’t design the logo and know basically nothing about guns. I remain firm in my conviction, however, that going to ridiculous lengths to attack critics of arbitrary detention and/or torture is rather substantially worse than using military-derived metaphors in a non-violent context.

  16. DrDick says:

    And why would this be any different from pretty much everything else?

  17. Hogan says:

    He did say “It isn’t a Glock.”

    And now I have to go wash. Never make me defend Meade again.

  18. DocAmazing says:

    ‘Cuz right-wing types claim to know about firearms. The corollary is that they think that we left-wing types don’t know about firearms. Little do they know that I can field-strip a 1911 Colt in under a minute, and so can most of my leftist friends.

  19. hv says:

    Yes, Meade, those are the type of photos that would be used to fool Ms. Althouse.

    Well done.

  20. DocAmazing says:

    Not left; just pulled his head out of his ass long enough to see that he was surrounded by lunatics and morons. Still a conservative, but able to recognize certain forms of insanity.

  21. hv says:

    My take is that the “scrub” retained the original meaning while adding a layer of mockery.


    You sure showed us, troll-david.

  22. Malaclypse says:

    Some humorous stuff but it seems a bit dated don’t you think?

    Definitely dated. Does not even mention any narcissistic Madison law prof, boxed wine, and her obsession with penises both Clintonian and other.


    She got a better deal than most human beings. She lived to the age of 61. She had 3 beautiful children, only one of whom died young. She was smart, happy, and beautiful for most of her life. She had a nice, handsome husband with a big cock who was greatly admired and brought her great admiration and wealth.

    She does seem a bit, unsatisfied, right now, doesn’t she?

  23. map106 says:

    The examples you quote are ad hominem?

    How would you describe her “target” ad? Surveyors’ lenses?

  24. hv says:

    I don’t think that Meade understands what “eliminationist” means. Or “climate.”

    And so he ends up complaining about rhetoric that is merely caustic.

    How he can manage to fail in the precise way that both the chosen quoted passages specifically exclude is amazing.

  25. hv says:

    I remind you of my remarks about your not knowing what “eliminationist” or “climate” means; the resulting embarrassment continues to mount.

    But at least since we agree there was no scrub; we can also agree that your preening, self-congratulatory claims were premature.


    On whether or not Mr. Lemieux’s shot is going in the basket, he appears to be aiming at Ms. Althouse’s particular stance on Egypt and I think his criticisms are not diminished by the alteration induced by your remarks.

    Where do you think the basket is?

  26. Malaclypse says:

    A witty rejoinder. Does that help you feel better about her obsessions?

  27. Scott Lemieux says:

    Allow me to quote something you didn’t:

    Yes, it’s true that there are a lot of marginal cases because of the extent to which military and other violent metaphors saturate political discourse. This is one reason I think that trying to criminalize speech that falls short of a direct threat is a bad idea. Still, it’s pretty silly to think that proposing “Second Amendment remedies” to government policies isn’t any different than talking about “fighting a political campaign.”

    I will leave it to readers to determine whether reference to a blog post as a “soft target” is the equivalent to a public figure talking about “Second Amendment solutions” (or even a major public figure putting targets over the names of individual politicians), as opposed to the military metaphors that saturate political discourse to no ill effect. But, as I said, criticize away if you have an actual argument that it could plausibly construed by anyone in this blog’s audience as a threat!

    I also note that 1)neither post contains any ad hominem attacks, and 2)content hasn’t been “scrubbed” when not only is the original language visible but attention has actually been drawn to the change.

  28. Scott Lemieux says:

    In the spirit of comity, I must say: good one.

  29. Scott Lemieux says:

    Extremity in uxoriousness is no vice.

  30. Hogan says:

    Hey, that was some nice work at Gettysburg. But you really shouldn’t have let Lee get away.

  31. DocAmazing says:

    You’re right.

    I’ve read some of her posts on law; they were pretty stupid, too.

  32. Malaclypse says:

    You are right – nobody here would be familiar with irony or mockery. Thank you for alerting us to the use of these rhetorical devices.

  33. Hogan says:

    her writing style, though exceptionally sharp and focused, is generally conversational and never pompous or pretentious. This throws off some readers who are unfamiliar with playfulness and clear wry wit in the writings of serious academicians.

    Dr. Berube, please report to brain surgery immediately.

  34. hv says:


    Let me, guess he didn’t mention Egypt.

  35. Gus says:

    Haha, you really have a thing for her, don’t you? That’s cute. Have you ever used the name Sprezzatura?

  36. Malaclypse says:

    Haha, you really have a thing for her, don’t you?

    He married her.

  37. Gus says:

    Hahahaha, I knew she married a commenter, but I didn’t know he showed up as her knight in shining armor to troll any blog that commented on her inanities. That really made my day. Absolutely hilarious

  38. hv says:

    Worst. Pre-nup. Ever.

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