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[ 142 ] December 26, 2012 |

All of our favorite conservative writers are up in arms because David Gregory brought a high-powered ammunition magazine onto Meet the Press yesterday in order to discuss gun violence.

William Jacobson is calling for Gregory’s prosecution and wants more of this kind of thing (Legal Insurrection!!!!32131!!!!) Glenn Reynolds of course agrees, etc.

There’s only one logical solution to this problem.

We need to arrest George H.W. Bush for possession of crack cocaine.*

If the problem is really going on television with a proper visual to demonstrate a political problem despite technically breaking the law, consistency demands Bush’s arrest. After all, we all know that crack went to W after the press conference so I feel an intent to distribute charge may be in order……

*Since some in the conservative world are too uneducated to understand metaphor, let me introduce them to another part of the English language. This is called sarcasm.

Coup d’FreedomWorks

[ 44 ] December 26, 2012 |

What the what?

Until this year, the partnership between Kibbe and Armey worked well. Armey’s renown as a former House member drew media attention and crowds of conservative activists — most of them old enough to remember Armey’s role in the Republican revolution in Congress in 1994. And Kibbe’s youthful intellectualism drew a new generation of libertarian soldiers into the FreedomWorks fold. In 2010, the two co-wrote a book, “Give Us Liberty: A Tea Party Manifesto,” that became a New York Times bestseller and a successful marketing tool for FreedomWorks, which collected the book’s proceeds and used it to attract donations.

The partnership came to a crashing end when Armey marched into FreedomWorks’s office Sept. 4 with his wife, Susan, executive assistant Jean Campbell and the unidentified man with the gun at his waist — who promptly escorted Kibbe and Brandon out of the building.

“This was two weeks after there had been a shooting at the Family Research Council,” said one junior staff member who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media. “So when a man with a gun who didn’t identify himself to me or other people on staff, and a woman I’d never seen before said there was an announcement, my first gut was, ‘Is FreedomWorks in danger?’ It was bizarre.’ ”

By nearly all accounts, including from those loyal to him, Armey handled his attempted coup badly. Armey says he was stepping in because of ethical breaches by Kibbe and Brandon, accusing them of improperly using FreedomWorks staff resources to produce a book — ironically, named “Hostile Takeover” — for which Kibbe claimed sole credit and was collecting royalties. The use of internal resources for Kibbe’s benefit could jeopardize the group’s nonprofit tax status; the group denies any impropriety.

“This is not only about this one incident,” Armey said. “But that one incident was a matter of grievous concern.”

Armey also accused Brandon, Kibbe and other staff members loyal to them of squeezing him out of media appearances and management decisions while using his name to market the group.

Armey appeared out of touch and unsure of how FreedomWorks operated when he took over that Tuesday morning, according to interviews with more than a dozen employees on both sides who witnessed the takeover. Sitting in a glass-walled conference room visible to much of the staff, he placed three young female employees on administrative leave, then reversed himself when they burst into tears; his wife lamented aloud that maybe they had “jumped the gun.”

Jumped the gun indeed. Of course, given the reality of gun-nut power-hungry conservatives, the idea that Dick Armey would lead an armed rebellion against the leadership of his own organization makes sense. Unfortunately for him, he seems to have read the Guidebook to Overthrowing Mikhail Gorbachev before doing so.


[ 78 ] December 25, 2012 |

My brother bought me Jason Wilson’s Boozehound for Christmas. In the introduction is a 1959 quote from A.J. Liebling that should be good for a few comments here:

The standard of perfection for vodka (no color, no taste, no smell) was expounded to me long ago….and it accounts perfectly for the drink’s rising popularity with those who like their alcohol in conjunction with the reassuring tastes of infancy–tomato juice, orange juice, and chicken broth. It is the ideal intoxicant for the drinker who wants no reminder of how hurt Mother would be if she knew what he was doing.

Since the book also discusses the “overrated” in spirits, I assume there will be a whole chapter on absinthe, a liquor that so far as I can tell has its primary value in its small but important role in the sazerac. Otherwise, it’s entire value comes from pretending like I’m in a Hemingway novel.

So I hope you enjoy your Christmas drinks. Just remember that we here at LGM are judging your choices.

The .223 Used Again

[ 204 ] December 25, 2012 |

Another horrible massacre, another high-powered rifle supported by the NRA used for the killing.

Chief Pickering also said that it was likely that the gunman used a semi-automatic rifle, one of three weapons recovered from the shooting scene, to kill the firefighters. He identifed the semi-automatic as a .223 Bushmaster rifle, the same weapon used in the school massacre in Newtown, Conn.

At the very least, can we make the ownership of this gun illegal?

Ideological Summer Camps

[ 173 ] December 23, 2012 |

This amusing piece by Charles Davis on how he went to capitalist summer camp and became a communist reminded me of this old Yglesias approval of a pretty cheap shot at Pete Seeger’s communism seventy years ago. Yglesias’ major complaint with his summer camp was that he was forced to sing terrible folk songs, including many by Pete Seeger, and thus learned to hate him for it.*

There’s a whole historical literature on red diaper baby summer camps and how 20th century radicals attempted to inculcate their children into their value systems through these camps. I don’t know if there’s a similar literature on conservative camps. If not, someone should look into this. But I have to wonder how effective these camps are? How many commie kids turned into capitalists and how many Randian kids learned to hold human values as an adult? Not sure how you could quantify something like this, but it’s an interesting question. I’ve often wondered if the only way to give any children I might have in the future the values I cherish is to raise them to be cold-hearted capitalists.

* Although I recognize that I am ideologically wrong about this, I wholeheartedly share Matt’s disdain for sing-alongs. I was once at the Highlander Center in Tennessee, where Guy and Candi Carawan were still the resident folksingers. This was probably 1999 or 2000. Guy Carawan is the individual who taught the old spiritual “We Shall Overcome” to the SNCC students in 1960, making it the anthem of the civil rights movement. Despite recognizing that I was in the presence of greatness, I really didn’t want to sing along. Neither did most other people under the age of 30. Disdain of pure raw emotion is an unfortunate byproduct of the Ironic Age. Contemporary writers about the IWW like Nels Anderson noted the power that common song had to unite the poor. We’ve lost that. Part of that is the greater diversity of musical styles in the 21st century–even if there were anthems to sing along to, what could we agree on? But an equal or greater part is dislike of the style.


[ 76 ] December 23, 2012 |

I finally saw Lincoln last night. I doubt what I have is to say is anything others haven’t verbalized. But a couple quick points. As a film, it’s classic Spielberg. Well made entertainment in the broad and often obvious populism of D.W. Griffith and John Ford. Several eye-rolling lines, BIG music. It’s also hard to believe that someone could make a film about the end of slavery in 2012 and neglect to have a single vital African-American character, but it’s Spielberg so there we have it. On the other hand, the film does do a good job on focusing on the political machinations of the 13th Amendment, with generally very good casting, pacing, and editing. Daniel Day-Lewis is always good, David Strathairn seems destined to play Forces for Good through his career but he does it well, Tommie Lee Jones was sufficiently cranky as Thaddeus Stevens. The movie definitely should have finished 20 minutes earlier, with Stevens in bed with his black partner. This would have avoided the pointless march through time to Lincoln’s assassination, though there was something so old-school Fordian about how it ended with Lincoln’s second inaugural address that it was hard not to feel a little warm about it.

What really matters here though is Spielberg’s point about politics. He so obviously wants to give today’s Americans a lesson on how to GET THINGS DONE IN WASHINGTON! So here’s how you do it. First, 35% of the country secedes. Every single one of the politicians from the seceding states opposes your platform. Without that 35% of the nation, you have a bare legislative majority that allows you to pass legislation if you hold your fractious party together. For situations that need a supermajority, you need your president going into a sort of mid 19th century Green Lanternism on politicians, combining LBJ style physicality with endless yarn spinning tales of life in Illinois and an appeal to morality that will convince them to Do The Right Thing. You also need the kind of patronage positions to buy off your opponents that mercifully began to end after the Pendleton Civil Service Act of 1883. And then, with luck, you can get your supermajority.

In other words, Spielberg’s film has absolutely nothing useful to say about modern political life.

Call The Authorities!!!!!

[ 44 ] December 22, 2012 |

OMG, someone alert the authorities. Dr. Erik Loomis of the University of Rhode Island has Buster Keaton’s head on a stick. He is responsible for the murder of said actor. Nevermind the fact that Keaton died in 1966, nearly a decade before Loomis was born. His heads on sticks metaphor has gone too far. Not only has he killed some of Hollywood’s leading actors, but he has literally put their heads on sticks and flashed them before cameras. Has he no shame? How can taxpayer dollars support the employment of such a scoundrel. Even worse, he makes his students watch silent films, an outrage which knows no boundaries.

I call for a witch hunt against Loomis. Since in this case there is no metaphor, I won’t be accused of being an disingenuous lying moron by pretending like I take this threat seriously. See–it’s right there in front of you!!

I’ll heat up the tar if you provide the feathers!!!

In all seriousness, I can’t believe I forgot about this picture until now. I took it at a showing of Steamboat Bill Jr. in Seattle last summer. They provided audience members with pictures of Buster Keaton on sticks. Clearly my life has led to this moment.


[ 54 ] December 22, 2012 |

I have to say that Wonkette really delivers the best piece on the recent insanity:

On the internet, this sort of comment is pretty much what you call “mild.” However, Erik Loomis is not merely an academic; he is also a blogger at Lawyers, Guns & Money, and so he is someone whose comments get noticed in the Angersphere.

Naturally, Wonkette is also hip enough to know that “typical liberal postmodern weasel-words” is a compliment to the modern academic. Also, the comment section made me laugh.

And since between Wonkette, Gawker, and becoming a cliche for lazy conservatives I now have become my own meme and have pop culture meaning, shouldn’t I find a way to capitalize on my fame? Since I am obviously a horrible capitalist, advice would be welcome.

Meanwhile, allow my cousin the good Dr. Samuel Loomis, accompanied by one John R. Cash, to express more or less how my week has gone. Particularly the part where he is limping down the road looking for a ride.

The Words of Wayne LaPierre

[ 284 ] December 21, 2012 |

Wayne LaPierre at the National Rifle Association press conference this morning:

And here’s another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal. There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people. Through vicious, violent video games with names like “Bullet Storm,” “Grand Theft Auto,” “Mortal Combat,” and “Splatterhouse.”

And here’s one, it’s called “Kindergarten Killers.” It’s been online for 10 years. How come my research staff can find it, and all of yours couldn’t? Or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it? Add another hurricane, add another natural disaster. I mean we have blood-soaked films out there, like “American Psycho,” “Natural Born Killers.” They’re aired like propaganda loops on Splatterdays and every single day.

1,000 music videos, and you all know this, portray life as a joke and they play murder — portray murder as a way of life. And then they all have the nerve to call it entertainment. But is that what it really is? Isn’t fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography? In a race to the bottom, many conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of civilized society, by bringing an even more toxic mix of reckless behavior, and criminal cruelty right into our homes. Every minute, every day, every hour of every single year.

A child growing up in America today witnesses 16,000 murders, and 200,000 acts of violence by the time he or she reaches the ripe old age of 18. And, throughout it all, too many in the national media, their corporate owners, and their stockholders act as silent enablers, if not complicit co-conspirators.

Rather than face their own moral failings, the media demonize gun owners

Rather than face — rather than face their own moral failings the media demonize lawful gun owners, amplify their cries for more laws, and fill the national media with misinformation and dishonest thinking that only delay meaningful action, and all but guarantee that the next atrocity is only a news cycle away.

The media calls semi-automatic fire arms, machine guns. They claim these civilian semi-automatic fire arms are used by the military. They tell us that the .223 is one of the most powerful rifle calibers, when all of these claims are factually untrue, they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Worse, they perpetuate the dangerous notion that one more gun ban or one more law imposed on peaceable, lawful people will protect us where 20,000 other laws have failed.

As brave and heroic and as self-sacrificing as those teachers were in those classrooms and as prompt and professional and well- trained as those police were when they responded, they were unable — through no fault of their own, unable to stop it.

As parents we do everything we can to keep our children safe. It’s now time for us to assume responsibility for our schools. The only way — the only way to stop a monster from killing our kids is to be personally involved and invested in a plan of absolute protection.

The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.

Would you rather have your 911 call bring a good guy with a gun from a mile away or from a minute away?

Now, I can imagine the headlines, the shocking headlines you’ll print tomorrow. “More guns,” you’ll claim, “are the NRA’s answer to everything.” Your implication will be that guns are evil and have no place in society, much less in our schools.

But since when did “gun” automatically become a bad word? A gun in the hands of a Secret Service agent protecting our president isn’t a bad word. A gun in the hands of a soldier protecting the United States of America isn’t a bad word. And when you hear your glass breaking at three a.m. and you call 9/11, you won’t be able to pray hard enough for a gun in the hands of a good guy to get there fast enough to protect you.

So, why is the idea of a gun good when it’s used to protect the president of our country or our police, but bad when it’s used to protect our children in our schools? They’re our kids. They’re our responsibility. And it’s not just our duty to protect them, it’s our right to protect them.

You know, five years ago after the Virginia Tech tragedy, when I said we should put armed security in every school, the media called me crazy. But what if — what if when Adam Lanza started shooting his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday, he’d been confronted by qualified armed security? Will you at least admit it’s possible that 26 little kids, that 26 innocent lives might have been spared that day? Is it so important to you (inaudible) would rather continue to risk the alternative? Is the press and the political class here in Washington D.C. so consumed by fear and hatred of the NRA and American gun owners, that you’re willing to accept the world, where real resistance to evil monsters is alone, unarmed school principal left to surrender her life, her life, to shield those children in her care.

No one. No one, regardless of personal, political prejudice has the right to impose that sacrifice.

No comment necessary.


[ 9 ] December 21, 2012 |

The word hero is used way too often in our society for any number of reasons. But actual heroes exist. One of them was the AIDS activist Spencer Cox, who died this week at the age of 44. He helped save thousands of lives through his actions, even if he couldn’t conquer his own demons in the end. Such is the way of life.

Milk Prices

[ 24 ] December 21, 2012 |

The fact that milk prices could go up as high as $8 a gallon because of a Truman-era policy that kicks in without a new farm bill is exhibit #113421 that we need a serious reexamination of our entire broken agricultural policy.

Lonely Street (A Metaphorical Lonely Street. Not an Actual Street With No One On It. Or a Street With Just Me Walking Alone)

[ 376 ] December 20, 2012 |

Well, it seems that we have passed peak wingnut (warning: Reynolds link ahead) and I can peek my head above the metaphorical bunker again.

I’m at the point where I’m pretty bloody angry with myself for using language intemperate enough to open the door to these people to try and change the narrative. It seems they failed, precisely because of the push back they received over freedom of speech. For this, I can’t thank the good people at Crooked Timber enough, not to mention so many other people. I never wanted to be the subject of a free speech campaign. Usually those are reserved for people who really said something offensive where one has to stand in principle. I still don’t see what I said as offensive, and certainly not as offensive as supporting policies that allow crazy people to have access to high-powered weapons. But while I generally use relatively measured language here, I was using Twitter as the site to express my true unabashed outrage about the world. I guess I have to be more careful on that going forward. Lesson learned.

That said, what really bugs me is that because of my intemperate language, we are talking about me and what others said about me instead of the policies of unrestricted ownership of killing machines that led to the death of 26 people in Connecticut last week and thousands around the United States and Mexico every year. I look forward to moving the conversation back to what really matters–regulations on guns.

Things were pretty lonely for me for awhile there. But thanks to everyone, and of course the Ray Price I was relying on to help me get through, there was indeed no Lonely Street for me. Except the song.

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