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Category: Robert Farley

The Authentic Face of the Right…

[ 33 ] June 5, 2011 |

Shorter Glenn Harlan Reynolds: The non-violence of public employee unions is evidence that they lack commitment.

And verbatim:

In fact, it made them so formidable that they were able to put together unions solid enough to send the industries they depended on overseas, where labor was more tractable, because the bosses weren’t willing to face the headache of trying to get rid of the unions, and couldn’t afford to pay the wages the unions, with their toughness, had managed to extract.

As Glenn undoubtedly knows, labor overseas was most often more “tractable” because of violent state suppression of independent, organized labor movements. But of course, we know that state violence is completely acceptable when conducted in service of capital…

Queen City 1848

[ 2 ] June 4, 2011 |

Check out this groovy photograph of Cincinnati from 1848. Taken from the Kentucky side of the Ohio.  Story here.

The Inevitable…

[ 32 ] June 4, 2011 |

Let me outsource my Hitchens commentary to Phil Nugent…

For this, Hitchens gives Chomsky a sound, blunt bashing upside his pointy little head, which is what Chomsky deserves and what Hitchens is good for, The one problematic thing about the essay is that, when a man goes so far in damning another man as a fool and a churl and a sanctimonious bullshit artist, it seems an odd thing for him to fail to acknowledge that he once strove to identify himself as that very man’s greatest defender and ideological ally. “Chomsky,” Hitchens writes, “still enjoys some reputation both as a scholar and a public intellectual.” Fifteen or more years ago, Hitchens was writing articles in which he had nothing but harsh words for those who failed to recognize what he then saw as Chomsky’s towering stature as a public intellectual, and lamented the fact that someone he now regards as on the level with an apocalyptic street crazy wasn’t at the head of the rolodex of whoever was booking Nightline.Back in the ’80s. he wrote a ferocious defense of Chomsky after his hero was attacked for allowing an essay he’d written in defense of free speech to be used as an introduction to a book by the French Holocaust denier Robert Faurisson. The situation was complicated, to put it mildly, but Hitchens’s approach was characteristic: he held Chomsky up as a hero who could do no wrong while excoriating everyyone who found fault with him as a propagandist stooge. And this was in the days when Chomsky regularly issued political pronouncements that were… well, consistent with what he often says today. It’s not as if there’s any question of who moved…

I think the common thread running through the decades of Hitchens’s political writing is the thrill he gets out of taking the most extreme moralistic (as opposed to moral) position possible, for the chief purpose of then condemning as many people as possible for being too cowardly, weak-kneed, short-sighted, whatever, to go as far as you have. When Hitchens was younger and the thought of international terrorism upending Manhattan a paranoid fantasy, the best way to have fun doing this was to assail the conservative ruling classes, in the manner of Chomsky and Gore Vidal (who Hitchens also once regarded as a master and supreme example of the politically engaged man of letters, and who he has since thrown on the compost heap with Chomsky and Michael Moore.) At his peak of inspired, empty, self-glorifying rhetoric, he was able to spend an entire book painting Mother Teresa as his moral inferior. But around September 2001, Hitchens was at an age, and the world was at a place, where it seemed more promising to start denouncing people who weren’t as pro-American or who were too soft on terrorism. It must have helped that, given Hitchens’s notion of cool, it must have been a lot easier for him to fall in love with George W. Bush than with a tacky, soft-hearted hillbilly like Bill Clinton–someone who I suspect Hitchens, like a lot of people Clinton’s age in politics and the media, could never forgive for having become the first Boomer-Generation President of the United States, when it was so clear that Bubba was not the man these worthies could accept as more deserving than they of the title…

He’s someone who picks his targets for shock value or to align himself with whoever picks the seating arrangements in whatever level he’s just ascended to, and who, having declared his allegiance, talks about whoever’s on the other side of the issue of the day as if they were ax murderers. Everything comes down to those he disagrees with not having the passion to hate someone as much as he does; in the early seventies, the point of every complex geopolitical situation came down to using it to demonstrate your loathing of Henry Kissinger, just as, thirty years later, the question of whether you supported a war of choice against a weak and non-threatening country when a major terrorist act of mass murder for which that country bore no responsibility. and which had yet to be fully answered for, came down, in his mind, to: why don’t you hate Saddam Hussein? It’s a useful point of positioning for him, because, while Hitchens is often blatantly dishonest, devoid of empathy, and views any kind of nuance as a form of intellectual and moral corruption, he can always make a supremely convincing case for why you should hate someone.

If Hitch doesn’t beat the cancer, we’re going to be subjected to an endless series of navel-gazing testimonies from the small, incestuous circle of British intellectuals that helped bring him to prominence in the first place. They’ll remember his cleverness, his ferocious intellect, his incisive wit, etc. and wring their hands about his late life turn to neoconservatism etc. American commentators will echo these arguments, although the second round will be altogether less personal and less interesting.

To be sure, I hope Hitch beats the cancer. His survival is unlikely to change my reading habits either way, though. Because let’s be frank: Is there anyone who would be even vaguely surprised if Christopher Hitchens converted to doctrinaire Catholicism? It would give him a new community of fellow travelers to be incisive and indignant about, a new crowd to shock, and a new ax to grind.


[ 17 ] June 3, 2011 |

Charli and her partner discuss Khal Drogo’s war speech from last week’s Game of Thrones. Spoilers, etc.

“Governance” Assistance

[ 0 ] June 2, 2011 |

My latest column at WPR is about the difference between security assistance and “governance” assistance:

In March, the Stimson Center released a report (.pdf) by Gordon Adams and Rebecca Williams reviewing U.S. security assistance programs. Titled “A New Way Forward,” the report argued that the United States should restructure its security assistance programs away from “security,” as defined in Cold War terms, and toward “governance,” which more accurately reflects U.S. interests in the post-War on Terror world. The difference is hardly trivial. “Security” assistance focuses on improving the tactical and operational capabilities of fielded armed forces, whether against domestic or international foes, while “governance” assistance aims to “strengthen state capacity in failing, fragile, collapsing and post-conflict states.” Potentially at stake are the resources dedicated to security assistance programs, which involve training, facilitation of doctrinal learning, and very often the transfer of military equipment.


[ 44 ] June 2, 2011 |

Dana Goldstein:

I recently picked up Ross Perlin’s “Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy.” The book is a scathing critique of intern culture, which Perlin indicts as “unethical” and “illegal” for all the expected reasons: Low- and middle-income students don’t have equal access to the best internships; many internships don’t provide real learning opportunities; and internships have replaced good, paid, entry-level jobs at many companies and nonprofit organizations.

Where I take issue with Perlin is his solution to these problems: He proposes an “Intern Bill of Rights” that would require employers to pay almost all interns at least minimum wage. This would most certainly result in fewer internships, when what we really need to equalize opportunity are more internships organized through the school system. Every high school, community college and university student in America should be required to complete several internships for credit, and should be given time during the school day and year to intern.

Um… doesn’t this seem like a middling effort to solve problem 1 (access), while doing nothing about problem 2 (learning opportunities) and egregiously exacerbating problem 3 (free labor competing with paid labor)? I’m not even convinced that problem 1 is really being solved; at the high school and especially at the college level, the barrier between low and middle income students and “good” internships isn’t so much the lack of provision of college credit as it is the inability of students to relocate to where the “good” internships are.

A New Contributor

[ 26 ] June 1, 2011 |

First, I’d like to thank Charli for her contribution to LGM. She has moved to other projects for the time being, but we hope that someday she’ll be able to return.

Second, I’d like to welcome our newest regular contributor. Many of you will be familiar with Erik Loomis from his plentiful comments on this site, as well as from his blogging at Alterdestiny. Erik has also served as a guest blogger on a couple of occasions. Erik received his BA in History from the University of Oregon in 1996, his MA in History from the University of Tennessee in 1999, and his Ph.D. in History from the University of New Mexico in 2008. In the fall, he will join the Department of History at the University of Rhode Island as an assistant professor.

Facts about Erik*:

  • He’s such a lapsed Lutheran that he’s marrying a Catholic
  • He stabbed a man in Bangalore, just to watch him die.
  • He’s more familiar with the north Cambodian opium industry than he really should be.
  • He has a soft spot for Knoxville, Tennessee.
  • He once co-habitated with Maoists.
  • He is often mistaken for an albino Mormon.
  • He’s more familiar with the North Texas/Southern Oklahoma crystal methamphetamine industry than he really should be.

*Only some of these facts are true.

On Burning Down the House…

[ 11 ] May 31, 2011 |

Good catch by Media Czech on the consequences of anti-government speech. Turns out that some forms of violent radical extremism are more equal than others…


[ 72 ] May 30, 2011 |

The Ohio State University: You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.

Pima Raid

[ 47 ] May 30, 2011 |

Read David Axe’s fantastic account of the Pima County SWAT raid:

The May 5 assault by a Pima County SWAT team on an address on Red Water Street, outside Tucson, was meant to apprehend a suspected member of a “rip crew” — a team of heavily-armed thugs, working for one of the cartels, that steals drugs from rival cartels. The special-weapons team, made up of at least seven men and seen in the leaked helmet-camera footage above, would pull up in a “Bearcat” vehicle — a sort of law-enforcement-optimized Humvee. Then they’d bust into the single-story house, hold the occupants at gunpoint and serve a search warrant, looking for drugs, illegal weapons and other evidence of cartel involvement. Just another day for a team accustomed to risky missions.

But something went very wrong. And within seconds of ramming in the door, the SWAT team opened fire, killing Jose Guerena, the owner of the house. Guerena, a 26-year-old Marine veteran, reportedly confronted the police with an AR-15 semi-automatic assault rifle, possibly to protect his wife kids, who were huddled in rooms behind him.

Let’s say it again; there is no remaining plausible defense for the War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs. Whatever interest the state may have in controlling consumption of certain substances is clearly overwhelmed by the economic, social, and legal cost of enforcing prohibition.


[ 188 ] May 30, 2011 |

This wouldn’t have been my first choice:

John F. Kennedy will have a second aircraft carrier named after him.

The Navy announcement came Sunday, on what would have been the president and World War II naval veteran’s 94th birthday.

Designated CVN-79, the carrier will be the second in the Gerald R. Ford class of carriers. The first, the Gerald R. Ford, CVN-78, is scheduled to be delivered to the fleet in September 2015. It was unclear when the John F. Kennedy would be completed and delivered.

I dunno; seems to me that the USS Roosevelt could be renamed “Eleanor Roosevelt,” thus freeing up FDR for a second carrier. On the upside, at least they didn’t name it after yet another Republican President; with Harding, Nixon, Hoover, and Bush II still toxic, we might have been stuck with the USS Calvin Coolidge or the USS William Howard Taft…

Memorial Day

[ 39 ] May 30, 2011 |

Like Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day has now lost its original meaning. I’m generally against detaching remembrance holidays from the wars that generated them, because generalizing does damage to the experience of the particular. Rather than hazy recollections of all US wars (and of all US military service) Armistice Day and Decoration Day once represented the very genuine horrors of World War I and the Civil War, with the latter honoring Union servicemen in particular.

But then time passes, generations fade away, and we can’t very well have a holiday for every war. And so while enjoying your Memorial Day in whatever fashion you see fit, spare a moment for American soldiers who have died in all of the nation’s wars, and an extra moment for those who died in the Union cause in the Civil War.