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Breaking! Wingnut Publisher to Publish Bad Wingnut Books!


For some reason, every couple years a media outlet feels compelled to do a lazy puff piece on walking argument against nepotism Adam Bellow.   The latest one is definitive because of the sheer density of cliches.  It starts with a bunch of bullshit about conservatives being the “party of ideas” that you’d think nobody would be shameless enough to repeat in 2011.   And Bellow is a “former liberal,” don’t you know — he used to be a Democrat, but since someone said something dumb at an apocryphal Upper West Side cocktail party he’s outraged by the Voting Rights Act.   It also  does do us a favor by reminding us of the books that made Bellow’s reputation, such as it is:

Attention, conservatives: Adam Bellow says this is your moment.

The intellectual left, he contends, is in a vacuum. The right is where there are ideas, variety, excitement. And Bellow, a former liberal who has made a career of pushing conservative writers and controversial issues to the forefront of American publishing, wants to hear from you.

As an editor at the Free Press and then Doubleday, Bellow, son of the late novelist Saul Bellow, guided such provocative voices as Dinesh D’Souza (“Illiberal Education”), David Brock (“The Real Anita Hill”), Jonah Goldberg (“Liberal Fascism”), and Charles Murray and Richard J. Herrnstein (“The Bell Curve”) to the top of the bestseller lists.

So let’s see. We have an attack on “political correctness” by someone with a strong self-interest in opposing “political correctness” given his strong tendency to say racist things. We have a smearing of an innocent woman so completely fraudulent it’s been repudiated by its own author. We have an intellectually fraudulent walking punchline.* And, tying everything together, some intellectually fraudulent racism.

So what new books are Bellow putting out that justifies this most recent fluffing? Do they look interesting? Are they selling at all?

Most of the digital offerings from “Voices” are on ways to beat the system, or at least expose it. One author is Milton R. Wolf, a Kansas physician and distant cousin to President Obama who opposes his health-care plan. He wrote “First, Do No Harm.” Another is Dallas tea party leader Lorie Medina, who wrote “Community Organizing for Conservatives.”

Sales have been “modest,” Bellow says. The health-care pamphlet had been the best-selling, at 500 copies, until a satiric offering by Frank J. Fleming titled “Obama: The Greatest President in the History of Everything” sold 2,300 copies in its first week. Starting this month, Broadside will add longer works, called e-originals and running 20,000 to 30,000 words, to the series. First out of the blocks: “The New Quislings: How the International Left Used the Oslo Massacre to Silence Debate About Islam,” by Bruce Bawer.

So that would be a “no” on both counts. Worse, he hasn’t given a contract to Alec Rawls, to complete the “talent leaps over a generation” circle.

*For more on the argument that had never been made in such detail or with such care, see here here, here, and here.

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  • I do find it somewhat interesting that both Bellows took a retrograde arc through their careers, moving from helping the trodden upon by writing uplifting novels of their triumphs from the ghettoes of life to immersing themselves in the stench of the conservative muck like a high diver into a bog.

  • c u n d gulag

    “The intellectual left, he contends, is in a vacuum.”
    If the left is in a vacuum, what’s the right in?
    A f*cking “Black Hole?”

    And actor212 pegs the father and the son. If you read early Saul, you can’t help loving him. If you read later Saul, you question your earlier judgement. Then you realize – he changed for the worse, unlike you.

    And I’d be hesitant in boasting about “guiding” David Brock.
    You “guided” him to start an organization that you hate almost as much as the ACLU. Until, that is, you need the ACLU to protect the rights of YOUR stupid asses, of course. Then they’re fine as long as that takes, and if they win for you – then, the next day, it’s back to talking about the ACLU like it was the 2nd only to Satan.
    Just like they crow whenever Media Matters criticizes the NY Times, or MSNBC, and ignores what they say about the WaPo and FOX News.

  • Epicurus

    ‘…ideas, variety and excitement…’ from the spewing of Jonah Goldberg’s capacious rectum? Really? Really?? Heck, I’m surprised Bellow hasn’t tried to land other such great intellectuals as Pam Geller and Andrew Breitbart. Also, too, it appears that there is typo: “watching”? I think you meant to type “walking”?

    • Personally, I’m waiting for Jonah’s follow up tome “Conservative Marxists: Why Marx Was A Free Marketeer”

      Which is mostly true, by the way.

    • “I know you are but what am I?” is an idea, isn’t it?

      • Bill Murray

        it’s also a credo, the creepy Corleone that lived in the basement and was not included in the movies

        • It was you, Credo. You killed intellectualism.

          • I’m smart! Not like people say!

            Send Credo to wind up some campaign volunteers, send Credo to flesh out a letter to the editor…I’m smart and I want respect!

          • You broke my brain.

  • As it is, the Edward R. Hamilton remainder catalog, without Regnery and Crown Forum, would fit on a tri-fold.

    I wish HarperCollins well.

  • John

    As an American living in Oslo, I’m simply appalled by Bawer. As vile as the WaPo’s Rubin; the cognitive dissonance must be killing him.

    • Jamie

      The New Quislings: How the International Left Used the Oslo Massacre to Silence Debate About Islam,” by Bruce Bawer.

      Nazi-era reference, tied to Norway, check. Leftists covering for Muslims, wha?

      I suppose this is the Jonah Goldberg problem, but I don’t even know how to start arguing with people who don’t make sense.

    • herr doktor bimler

      The New Quislings

      I would love to see either the author or the publisher spend some time in Norway promoting this book, but I guess it ain’t gonna happen.

  • Slocum

    From now on anyone who describes what they say, write or do as “political incorrect,” or in anyway decries “political correctness,” will be welded into a steel box 1x1x1 meters, placed in a large rocket ships, shot into the heart of the sun, just before another rocket ship delivers a massive black hole into the sun ripping it apart. My only regret is that the sun cannot be made to go supernova so that we can do the job right.

    Adam Bellow’s punishment: confined to a Zulu village for the rest of his life.

  • Malaclypse

    The right is where there are ideas, variety, excitement.

    To be fair, it is certainly the case that once you have abandoned the idea that “ideas” should be “true,” it is indeed easier to achieve “variety.”

    Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’ — Isaac Asimov

  • Swurg

    A view from someone who actually read the book being criticized: Nick Cohen’s review of Liberal Fascism from The Guardian.

    • I read the book too. In fact, I read a galley proof AND the book, so I can tell you that, after editing, Goldberg’s book was worse AND stupider than he originally wrote it.

      Cohen’s generally not wrong about stuff, but in this case, he’s dead wrong, simply because he draws conclusions from Goldberg’s work in some instances, but then fails to apply that same logic to other instances. It’s almost like Cohen wanted to write a similar book, but couldn’t find the nerve to confront liberals alone.

      • Swurg

        If you had an argument I might be persuaded. Do tell.

        • I’d be happy to oblige.

          For one thing, he bothers to track down the Clooney quote, yet fails to note that Woodrow Wilson was not the first President to militarize the nation,conveniently ignoring Lincoln and even John Adams.

          Did you need more to realize how fundamentally uninformed the review is?

          • Swurg

            Wilson didn’t justify militarization based on necessity.

            • So you disagree with Cohen, as well. I’m glad we can agree it’s a lousy review, then.

    • Malaclypse
      • Swurg

        SEK didn’t read the book. Indeed, it’s clear he didn’t read the book because he ignores Goldberg’s argument.

        SEK is a fraud.

        • Malaclypse

          All frauds fail to appreciate the genius of Goldberg. They just fail to see that it is a very serious, thoughtful, argument that has never been made in such detail or with such care.

          • This is central to Swurg’s point

          • Swurg

            No, and I don’t think I have to take that position. If you want to offer a persuasive refutation you could at least make an argument. SEK doesn’t do that. Criticizing the title is lazy and fraudulent.

            • chris

              the title is lazy and fraudulent.


        • Warren Terra

          If you want to play that game, “it’s clear he didn’t read the book because” he bloody well says so:

          without even having read the book

          ; he then goes on to say:

          People should not write books about things they haven’t read. (That’s what blogs are for.)

          And, indeed, he constructs a series of arguments that, while they don’t attempt or claim to be a comprehensive review of Jonah’s masterwork, don’t require him to have forked over twenty bucks to Jonah’s publisher and subjected himself to the whole book. If you want to disagree with a post SEK wrote four years ago, that’s fine (though this may not be the correct venue) – but don’t try to criticize it for not being something it never attempted to be.

          • Swurg

            Scott Lemieux brings up SEK’s review as if it means something.

            It doesn’t. SEK is a fraud. He was a fraud four years ago, he’s probably a fraud now. Lemieux should know better.

            That’s all.

            • Malaclypse
              • Bill Murray

                and you keep feeding the trolls

            • mark f

              I happen to think that the Spencer incident is unflattering to Jonah whether or not SEK bothered to read the book. But for the sake of argument let’s say you’re right about SEK. Of course, Person A being a fraud doesn’t preclude Person B from also being a fraud.

              My favorite piece of Liberal Fascism media was Jonah’s promotional interview with Salon, wherein Jonah’s response to the question

              You’ve talked about Mussolini remaining on the left and remaining a socialist, and in your book you’ve got a lot of quotes from the 1920s about that, but I’m wondering — how does that fit in with what he wrote and said later, especially “The Doctrine of Fascism” in 1932?

              was that he doesn’t know what Mussolini had to say about fascism.

              Jonah is lucky that conservative audiences stick to friendly media outlets (I think it was Julian Sanchez who called this phenomenon “epistemic closure,” which I only bring up because Jonah tried at least twice to discredit the thesis; once with “liberals do it too!” [I think “tu quoque!” would be Jonah’s response to a liberal sneezing] and again with “National Review does too hire interns!”), or else they might’ve noticed that the answer to every question was like that. They might’ve begun to think that he had no goddamn idea what he was talking about.

              • mark f

                The blockquotes are messed up.

                You’ve talked about Mussolini remaining on the left and remaining a socialist, and in your book you’ve got a lot of quotes from the 1920s about that, but I’m wondering — how does that fit in with what he wrote and said later, especially “The Doctrine of Fascism” in 1932?

                is the only part that should’ve been blocked.


            • Alan in SF

              SWURG: If Goldberg’s central thesis is that today’s progressives can be tied to anything ever done by anyone who called themselves a “progressive” or a “socialist,” then today’s “conservatives” can be blamed for the Spanish Inquisition, and the Republican Party can be blamed for succumbing to Communist infiltration and murdering nuns in the Spanish Civil War. Also the Troubles in Ireland.

            • SEK

              It doesn’t. SEK is a fraud. He was a fraud four years ago, he’s probably a fraud now.

              In what sense I am a fraud? Sorry, that’s a pretty serious accusation, especially one to make against someone who’s written and published extensively about Spencer. What right do you, anonymous person on the internet, have to call me a fraud? I’ll admit I don’t name him by name in my abstract, but anyone who knows anything about the period and subject I’m discussing knows I know my Spencer. So, please, I beg of you, tell me how I’m being fraudulent. I eagerly await the reply you’re too cowardly to ever write.

          • Really. I mean, if Swurg’s argument is that because SEK didn’t read Fudgie’s book, he has no standing to write a criticism, then what does it say about the person who wrote the book in question and his unwillingness and inability to even read his source material?

            • Swurg

              Whatever, SEK is still a fraud.

              • Whatever that was, it wasn’t an argument.

                Hand waving is not persuasive.

                • timb

                  It persuaded me this Swurg guy was a moron

        • SEK

          SEK didn’t read the book.

          That’s because I’m recounting a time when it hadn’t yet been published. His research methodology was so depressingly shoddy I should’ve never have bothered to read the book — I eventually did — but whether I’d read the book has no bearing on my opinion, as an academic, on his methodology … which was tendentious.

          • Malaclypse

            Sure, you say that you could not read a book that was as yet unpublished, but using that sort of logic, it would be impossible for Obama to go back in time to plant a fake birth certificate in 1961. What’s next, denying the obvious fact that Bill Ayers wrote Dreams From My Father?

  • Swurg

    Whatever that was, it wasn’t an argument.

    Hand waving is not persuasive.

    • “Whatever, SEK is still a fraud.”

      • Malaclypse

        Swurg makes a very serious, thoughtful, argument that has never been made in such detail or with such care.

    • Slocum

      Neither is jerking yourself off, asshat.

  • “The New Quislings: How the International Left Used the Oslo Massacre to Silence Debate About Islam,”


    Oh, is that what Vikun Quisling did?

    I guess that explains why the word “Quisling” has come to mean “Someone who reports on a criminal’s ideas in order to discredit those ideas.”

    • Isn’t it amazing how the real world keeps imposing facts and logic on the right wing attempts to fantasize the coming Islamist jihad on the entire globe?

    • Warren Terra

      There really ought to be extra points for misunderstanding what a Quisling is in the context of Norway.

      • John

        Bawer lives in Oslo, so triple points?

  • cpinva

    the right is where the ideas are, they just happen to all be really, really bad ideas, that no one who wasn’t a complete idiot would take seriously.

    imagine you’re a republican. now, imagine you’re an idiot. but i repeat myself.

    • Slocum

      The sad part is that there are interesting thinkers on the right ranging from Michael Oakeshott to Leo Strauss to John Kekes (lesser known American philosopher) to Roger Scruton (ok, I have serious reservations about him). Louis Dupre is an interesting conservative intellectual historian. Alastair MacInytre might be thought of as a conservative of some kind, and is brilliant and generous thinker. Alain Renault and Luc Ferry in France might count as conservatives in some sense. Thomas Hibbs at Baylor is a thoughtful Thomist-influenced philosopher.

      There’s no shortage of interesting thought on the right, its just that the usual suspects on the rightblogs and in the magazines don’t engage it at its level. Their heads would explode.

  • Someone should follow Jonah around with a sandwich board saying “The white man is the Jew of liberal fascism.”

    • Or “Free Blow Jobs For Buying My Book”

  • Abby Spice

    ??? How can someone in Kansas be the cousin of The Kenyan?

    [it’s that kind of day.]

    • Thlayli

      The Dunhams are Kansans.

      • Abby Spice

        Yeah…I…I was kidding.

        Poe’s Law, I suppose.

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