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November 28, 2006

Gingrich, still
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 03:05 PM * 109 comments

To go with the post below about McCain, here’s more of an insight into what the Republicans want, how they think, and what they’ll do if allowed back into power:

MANCHESTER – Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich yesterday said the country will be forced to reexamine freedom of speech to meet the threat of terrorism.

Gingrich, speaking at a Manchester awards banquet, said a “different set of rules” may be needed to reduce terrorists’ ability to use the Internet and free speech to recruit and get out their message.

“We need to get ahead of the curve before we actually lose a city, which I think could happen in the next decade,” said Gingrich, a Republican who helped engineer the GOP’s takeover of Congress in 1994.

Comments on Gingrich, still:
#1 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 03:14 PM:

Did he mean to make it that easy? "Before we actually lose a city"? It doesn't take terrorists to lose a city, just a lot of rain and lousy response to it.

#2 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 03:18 PM:

That shining example of 'morality'? Why do the GOoPers think that recycling failed politicians is better than changing failing policies? (I think he belongs in the circle of 'don't make waves'.)

#3 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 03:18 PM:

...We need to get ahead of the curve before we actually lose a city..

Such as New Orleans?

#4 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 03:24 PM:

If it weren't for that nasty ol' "freedom of speech" no one would know that we'd lost New Orleans.

#5 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 03:27 PM:

Does he actually have real legal-type evidence that those evil terr'ists are recruiting via Internet? I'd think that word of mouth and the ever-present cell phone are more effective in recruiting, especially in areas where the Internet is not.

#6 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 03:57 PM:

Does he actually have real legal-type evidence that those evil terr'ists are recruiting via Internet?

No, it's just that he doesn't like freedom of speech.

#7 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 04:11 PM:

I was afraid of that. @#$%^&* recycled wanna-be-dictator immoral politician.

#8 ::: Jacob Shelton ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 04:43 PM:

Yes, the raising of an Army of Evil Terrorists through hate filled speeches. Like Tom Paine's Common Sense...oh, wait, they were freedom fighters. 'Cause of being white and all.

#9 ::: Dave Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 05:02 PM:

Others have pointed out how those evilnastybad terrorists recruiting on teh Intarwebs cost us New Orleans.

At least the Gingrinch isn't currently in office.

#10 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 05:03 PM:

I'm wishing his collaboration with William Fortschen had been the runaway success his publisher wanted it to be. Then maybe he'd leave politics alone and stick to boring his willing readers.

#11 ::: Bruce Adelsohn ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 05:06 PM:

No, it's just that he doesn't like freedom of speech.

Except for himself, of course, and folks who say what he needs to have heard.

#12 ::: arto ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 05:08 PM:

If it weren't for that nasty ol' "freedom of speech" no one would know that we'd lost New Orleans.

More to the point, if it wasn't for that nasty freedom of speech, nobody would've known who to blame for losing New Orleans.

#13 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 05:30 PM:

Let's see if I can work this out logically:

(Major premise)We stand for freedom, they stand for evil.
(Minor Premise)We must give up freedom in order to defeat evil.
(Conclusion)Freedom is evil.


Makes as much sense as Newt's celebrated statement that women shouldn't serve in the front lines because they get an 'infection' every month.

#14 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 05:40 PM:

The founders of the Republican Party picked that name because they stood for classical republican principles: that a free state was free because it was governed by free citizens who came together to deliberate on public matters. Those principles -- the principles of Machiavelli, Harrington, Sidney, Franklin, Madison, and Washington -- were given a fresh democratic burnish by one A. Lincoln, who famously contended that the American republic had a government 'of the people, by the people, and for the people'.

The 'principle', if such we could call it, that 'freedom must be given up to defend freedom' is one that men and women beside whom Gingrich is a pismire would have laughed to scorn.

That such men as the Bushes, Gingrich, McCain, Allen, Santorum, and Reed, and such women as Katherine Harris, Phyllis Schafly, and, save the mark, Helen Chenoweth, could be considered leading figures in a party which was once adorned by Fremont, Lincoln, and Douglass, is beyond tragic.

#15 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 05:47 PM:

Fragano, have you ever discussed with their ilk the Ben Franklin quote about not deserving freedom if one is willing to give it up for some small safety?

#16 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 05:56 PM:

"That such men as the Bushes, Gingrich, McCain, Allen, Santorum, and Reed, and such women as Katherine Harris, Phyllis Schafly, and, save the mark, Helen Chenoweth, could be considered leading figures in a party which was once adorned by Fremont, Lincoln, and Douglass, is beyond tragic."

Yes. if it wasn't for those pesky democratic elections they'd never have got into power...

#17 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 05:56 PM:

Exactly whose freedom is going to be given up? His? People like him?

No. I didn't think so.

Freedom of speech is a real bummer, isn't it, giving people who disagree with you the (inalienable) right to stand up and say so. Its the same freedom that allows Napoleons like these stand up on their hind trotters and pontificate how everything will be better if only we hand over everything to those who know better than us.

There's only one defence of freedom, and that's freedom. Mistrust anyone who says otherwise.

#18 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 06:02 PM:

Martyn, comparing them to Napoleon is an insult to the little Corsican.

#19 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 06:16 PM:

Freedom of speech had nothing whatsoever to do with either 9/11 or the New Orleans debacle. It did help bring down Gingrich, though, which is doubtless what he had in mind when he made those remarks.

The outcome of the 2006 elections took many Republicans by surprise. Don't kid yourself that they aren't preparing to strike back. These are guys who don't consider it legitimate to have the other side win elections.

#20 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 06:30 PM:

Serge, I'm pretty sure that Martyn's talking about the Napoleon in Animal Farm.

#21 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 06:31 PM:

...which is insulting to pigs, I guess.

#22 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 06:41 PM:

...and there's also Napoleon Solo who might be offended, NelC. (Not that I care that much.. I always preferred Ilya Kuryakin.)

#23 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 07:06 PM:

Serge #15: I do enough beating of my head against brick walls while marking student essays. Thank you.

("Located in the Southeastern region of Europe, Romania is a country that is saturated with history.")

#24 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 07:08 PM:

Zander #16: As in those 'pesky democratic elections' in which black, Hispanic, and Jewish voters somehow found their votes nullified? Or in which, for some strange reason (as happened to my son in 2004) voters in precincts known to vote heavily for liberal Democrats had to wait up to seven hours to do their civic duty? Pull the other one.

#25 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 07:13 PM:

Well, as all good Rethugnicans know, any area with a sufficiently large population of Spanish speaking black and/or brown people is indistinguishable from Baghdad anyway

Soon enough, anti Castro sentiment will not be enough to keep Florida republican because of sh*theads like Tancredo. I say someone should interview him on a regular basis. He does more for democrats than Daily Kos.

#26 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 07:51 PM:

Hey, I just noticed something: There's almost no direct quoting of Gingrich in that news story. The only quoted bit that comes close to being a full sentence is the part about losing a city, which doesn't contain anything about free speech or censorship.

I'm perfectly willing to believe that Gingrich said what Riley Yates said that he said, but until I see a transcript of the speech, or at least some paragraph-length unbroken quotes, I'm also going to entertain the possibility that Yates is making it up. I've seen journalists do that.

I used Google News and found twenty-odd stories on this speech, and most of them just recycled the Mancheter Union-Leader's version of the story. The exception was a Boston Globe piece that uses the same "different set of rules" sentence-fragment and puts it in a different context:

Noting the thwarted London terrorist attacks this summer, Gingrich said there should be a Geneva Convention for such actions that makes those people subject to "a totally different set of rules."

Huh. What's up with that? (Also in that Globe piece: Gingrich opposes McCain-Feingold, and supports the "under God" phrasing in the Pledge of Allegiance.)

And I couldn't find a transcript of the speech on Newt's website. (And Newt, if you somehow wind up reading this, could you maybe arrange for Newt.org to be moved to a server that serves pages in Internet time instead of geological time?)

#27 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 07:58 PM:

The problem with the Internet is that these people fear they might be getting virtual kinky sex with a fake congressional page.

#28 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 09:15 PM:

Avram, that remark was also quoted by the Manchester Union-Leader, which has slightly mellowed in recent years but is still a belligerently conservative paper. Their writeup of Gingrich's speech (delivered at a Manchester, NH awards banquet) was Slashdotted. Nobody seems to have published a complete text, but between the Union-Leader's account and the story you cited in the Boston Globe, it's clear that Gingrich's speech took him far to the right.

He's been hanging out there a lot. Check out stuff like his recent death-or-victory column in Human Events, and the various statements Shelley Lewis recently quoted in the Huffington Post. Gingrich intends to run for President in 2008, and he's trying to position himself to the right of McCain.

(You've got to figure the guy's desperate to get back into politics. After he fell, he had so much time on his hands that he was writing dozens and dozens of book reviews on Amazon.)

And why should the Union-Leader quote something that inflammatory from Gingrich's speech? Possibly because he would make a catastrophically bad presidential candidate, and they're trying to scuttle him. He's sounding as scary as ever. Check out his remarkable new formulation of the basis of American self-government at the end of the Boston Globe piece:

"We are the only society to say power comes from God to you personally and you loan part to the state," Gingrich said. "It doesn't begin with the lawyers , with the bureaucrats... If there is no creator, where do your rights comes from?"
Okay now, in unison:
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. ..."

#29 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 09:26 PM:

Fragano Ledgister [23]:

"Located in the Southeastern region of Europe, Romania is a country that is saturated with history."

Located in the Northwestern region of Europe, Finland is a country whose history oozes across the permafrost, desperately striving to penetrate the dense frozen tundra below.

#30 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 10:03 PM:

Teresa @ 28

I figure he's afraid becuse 'We the People' is so inclusive. It isn't 'We the Citizens' or 'We the Wealthy White Males' or any of the groups he seems to think are qualified by something-or-other (I'd use the word nature but I don't think nature has anything to do with it) to run the country, probably none of which include more than maybe a quarter of the actual residents.

#31 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 10:10 PM:

Not only are the evil terrorist using teh interweebie tubular thingies, they're doing it in LIBRARIES. So we must shut all of them down. (play tape from the 1934 Nurembeg Rally)

Gingrich has always been that far right. I was going to do a take on "You're a mean on, Mr. Gingrich" but I didn't change any of the words, the the joke was moot. I'm sure he would want it mute.

So while this country is still free of anti-sedition laws, Mr. Gingrich divorced his first wife while she was recovering from cancer, or so I'm told. One of the reasons he disappeared from public life for so long was he was divorcing his second wife after he left Congress. How's that for your family values?

The last time I felt like I needed to purchase a firearm was watching Pat Buchannon speak at the 2000 Republican National Convention. Why do I feel like I need to go get one all the time now?

#32 ::: Turtle ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 10:13 PM:

Thanks for directing me here, Teresa. As a lead-up to a sequal political career, the tag-line is kind of scarily effective:

Newt 2: A Different Set of Rules.

(When I start seeing this on bumper stickers, I'm going to regret making the joke.)

#33 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 10:55 PM:

Teresa, I know about the Manchester Union-Leader article -- it's the one Jim linked to in the first place, and I mentioned that paper in my comment (though I dropped the S in "Manchester"). I've no opinion on whether Gingrich has moved to the right or not (he started out pretty far right to begin with).

What I care about is whether the news story are accurately representing what he said. Comparing the two very different paraphrasings that the Union-Leader's Riley Yates and the Boston Globe's, um, anonymous AP writer built around that quoted sentence fragment, I'm guessing that at least one of them is wrong, and it might well be Yates.

#34 ::: Glenn Hauman ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 10:55 PM:

An ever-so-slight digression: Newt isn't the only censor happy person lurking in the news this week.

In the wake of the Michael Richards incident, Laugh Factory owner Jamie Masada said "the comedy club will ban comedians from using all "hateful words" including the "n-word." Masada also said "We want to be the first place in the world to ask all of the comedians if they go on stage and use the 'n-word,' (it) comes out of their paycheck."

Shecky Magazine, an industry mag for stand-up comics, editorialized:

In this matter, there has been a suspicious lack of any talk of a slippery slope, a deafening silence from the usual defenders of free speech. This is not about the "n-word." It's about free expression in general. When Masada broadens his proscription to include "hateful words," he goes down a road that no one should go down. It is easy to imagine that the language and the work of comedians at the Factory might come under the scope of what amounts to a speech code. His blanket banning of a word (or ill-defined set of words) doesn't consider context, and it opens up every comedian who might work there to intense scrutiny. It quite possibly might have the effect of shutting them down. And then there is the matter of making them vulnerable to lawsuits or monetary extortion. (Masada himself has gone so far as to lead the charge when it comes to punishing comics who work his room and violate his speech code. What assurances does any comic who works there have that Masada would not throw him or her under the bus should a patron take offense to say, the use of the word "cunt?" Or maybe an attack on Christianity? Or a percieved slight of gay people?) By broadening the ban, Masada has declared open season on the "A-word," the "B-word"... you get the idea.

If Jesse Jackson can stand next to Masada and declare that the "n-word" is "unprotected" (his exact word!), then who is next in line? Will Andrea Dworkin exert sufficient pressure on Masada so that the "c-word" is banned (along with any comic who might dare to construct a joke using it)? Will Ralph Reed be sending registered letters to Masada in order to pressure him to ban comics who might offend the sensibilities of evangelicals? Let's take it to a far-fetched but perfectly logical extreme-- Will comics who ply the boards at the Factory be instructed not to say how much they hate cats lest PETA come down too hard on Masada? (If you think that's implausible note that PETA is trying to banish the term "pet" from the lexicon and replace it with "animal companion." In effect paving the way for legislation against any/all "animal ownership.") It seems like only yesterday that there were police detectives in Philadelphia and San Francisco taking notes during Lenny Bruce's shows. We can easily see a return to such an oppressive atmosphere.

#35 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 11:01 PM:

They're banning the n-word? But the only comedians who regularly give it a workout are black. It's like a cherry bomb that only they can set off.

#36 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 28, 2006, 11:15 PM:

Gingrich may be serious in his intention to run in 2008, but does he even realize what a favor he's doing for John McCain? (See other thread.)

I bet he does. (If I can't be President, how about Secretary of State...? That'd be cool.)

#37 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 12:08 AM:

I spent my formative years in a time when we were 1 flock of geese, 1 bad joke, 99 balloons, or 3 software bugs- plus 20 minutes- away from losing 5,000 cities. And we need a new set of rules now?

#38 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 12:19 AM:

If our rights and freedoms come from God . . . why didn't every nation in "Christiandom" have a Bill or Rights since way, way back?

Frigging revisionist sectarians.

#39 ::: Bill Humphries ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 12:59 AM:

Glenn @ 34: If Andrea Dworkin complains, that'd be a major feat, since she died in 2005.

#40 ::: A.R.Yngve ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 01:23 AM:

I, for one, welcome our new Gingrichian overlords.

#41 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 02:24 AM:

They're banning the n-word? But the only comedians who regularly give it a workout are black. It's like a cherry bomb that only they can set off.

They had a black comedy writer on Olbermann tonight talking about how black comedians are banding together to quit using the word.

Now if they could only make my uncle and cousin stop...

MKK

#42 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 03:02 AM:

Since the awards dinner was sponsored by the Union Leader, it's likely that Yates was there in person and would be unlikely to get it wrong since the head honchos of the Union Leader would also have been present.

They saw fit to run the piece on page one, above the fold.

The AP writer may have been quoting from Yates, rather than from direct knowledge. (The awards were being given to a small New Hampshire newspaper that had reported on a local issue, and to a New Hampshire politician.)

#43 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 04:20 AM:

Newt running in 2008? We should be so lucky ... he couldn't even win a statewide race in Georgia these days. If a miracle occurred and he got the R nomination, it would be measure the drapes Mr or Mrs Democrat.

#44 ::: Joe Crow ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 05:00 AM:

The last time I felt like I needed to purchase a firearm was watching Pat Buchannon speak at the 2000 Republican National Convention. Why do I feel like I need to go get one all the time now?

Because you do. Seriously. The more armed liberals and progressives there are, the safer liberals and progressives all are. Governments tend to tiptoe very carefully around the interests of armed citizens.

They'll still try and screw you blind, a'course. But they'll be a lot sneakier and quieter about it. That's one of the reasons that the ReThugs (and the Dems, for that matter) all tiptoe around the Dominionists. Most of them are armed to the teeth.

Not a cure-all, by any means, but it's a big help.

#45 ::: JulieB ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 10:21 AM:

When the Internet is outlawed, only outlaws will have the Internet.

(Can you tell I live in Texas?) ;-)

#46 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 10:23 AM:

JulieB... I didn't realize that the original saying came from Texas. I don't know how many variations of that there are, but I have a t-shirt that says "When they outlaw Evolution, only outlaws will evolve."

#47 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 10:49 AM:

Since this thread is discussing free speech so much, it might be a better place for the link I put on another thread, to info about Russian crackdowns on books -- see the November 23 posting in Anna Tambour's blog.

#48 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 10:52 AM:

Those idiots obviously don't realize that the software and hardware are already out there to operate a parallel Internet. Try to lock the Internet away from the other side and they'll just activate their own Internet.... Oh wait! Maybe that's it! Our people want to force competition to emerge. Then we'll have a reason to hire people to snoop on the alternate Internet in order to gain intelligence. What an idea. Full employment once more unless the CIA decides to outsource the snooping.

#49 ::: JulieB ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 11:21 AM:

@Serge - I like that T-shirt. I don't know if that saying originated from here, but it's a popular bumper sticker.

But you can pry my Internet from my cold dead hands. (There's another one.)

#50 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 11:22 AM:

John Houghton #29: If only I had students with that kind of imagination!

(The student who described Romania as 'saturated with history' also wrote that the Roma of Romania were under 'psychical attack'... I find that I can count on that sort of thing happening every semester.)

#51 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 11:30 AM:

What's the difference between a psychical attack and a psychic one, Fragano? Let me guess. One shows a poor grasp of the English language.

#52 ::: badducky ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 12:10 PM:

I once met a local politician who idolized Newt Gingrich, and thought "liberal" was the same thing as "stupid and lazy".

He had an autographed gavel given to him by Newt Gingrich.

He liked to talk about how poor people need to stop whining and waiting for the government to come help them out.

I asked him if he ever knew anyone personally who was poor, and what they thought about losing government assistance.

He said something about laziness.

He also had inherited his successful local business from his grandfather.

He was able to spend all his time and energy in local politics because of his hard-working staff, who were often left to their own devices while the owner spent hours fuming about liberals like Anne Coulter.

The highest paid member of his staff needed government assistance to cover her and her husband's healthcare. And she had to sit and listen to this guy fuming about how people like her were lazy and stupid.

I knew what I wanted to do with that gavel.

#53 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 12:13 PM:

fuming about liberals like Anne Coulter

Maybe she is one, badducky, in Star Trek's evil universe.

#54 ::: Lydia Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 01:33 PM:

#31 Steve Buchheit:

The last time I felt like I needed to purchase a firearm was watching Pat Buchannon speak at the 2000 Republican National Convention. Why do I feel like I need to go get one all the time now?

And what would you do with it after you bought it?

I have no issue with people owning gnus. Have at it. But as protection against the government...how can this work? If you're planning on organizing a militia, a _big_ militia, gnus are the least of your problems. Anything less is just another Ruby Ridge.

Can we actually be pushed into a civil war? It seems very unlikely, to me. Or if we are, which do you want to win, the gnu nuts who tend to be terrifyingly right-wing (there's no causal relationship, as far as I know, but there is sure a strong correlation), or our magnificently evil government? I'm also thinking that the gnu nuts will get squished like ants. I can't see a power base from which to wage a violent conflict.

But every time I look at civil war as an option, all I can see are dead children. Does this make me less than a patriot? Thomas Jefferson would say so.

Me, I'm back to elections, I guess. Corrupt as the government is, it's not corrupt all the way through. The much maligned bureaucracy, the working guys (not the political appointees) are mostly opposed to graft, or are not in a position to bet any. The middle levels of the government are where our real strength lies. The administration is scraping away at it (poor FEMA), but that's one of the fights we might be able to win.

I better take my own advice and start paying closer attention to County Environmental Officers and the like. So much easier to give advice than to follow it.

#55 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 01:35 PM:

#44 Joe Crow:

Far be it from me to discourage a hardware collection--shooting is great fun, and a gun can convince a freelance criminal to depart the premises in a hurry. But the record of armed citizens in the US preventing police oppression doesn't look so good. Look at the drug war for ample examples.

#56 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 01:37 PM:

Gingrich getting the Republican nomination is about as likely as his winning the lottery. If he ran, he'd lose even despite the Democrats' tradition of finding the least electable Democrat in America to run for president every four years.

#57 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 01:42 PM:

As you may know, I lost my brother, a journalist who covered the television industry, last week. In reading this thread about speech and liberties, it occurs to me that his contrarian remarks on the recent O.J. Simpson affair might be of interest.

Here are the final published words of John M. Higgins:

Monday, November 20, 2006
Anyone Else Find the O.J. Decision Disturbing?

Does anyone find News Corp.’s decision to cancel O.J. Simpson’s“confession” disturbing? It’s pretty scary to see a a major media company as powerful as News Corp. cowed into cancelling a program and a book just because a lot of people who have seen neither product find it inappropriate.

It is pretty hard to defend Fox and HarperCollins slating O.J. Simpson: If I Did It, Here's How It Happened, doubtless funneling millions of dollars his way. But once the TV interview and book were slated, I hate the idea that critics could shout it both off the air and off the bookshelves even before anyone gets to see what’s in it.

If the dispute involved some sexy crime show opposed by Christian TV indecency groups or, worse, Congress, some of the same critics of the The OJ Show would be defending the media giant.

OJ is unimportant to me. I am in complete control of my exposure to what he has to say. I could choose not to watch the TV special; I could choose not buy the book. Critics had the same options.

What worries me is who will back down in the future in the face outcry over some truly important issue. A Fox News look at, say, civil liberties abuses by U.S. intelligence agencies. (Unlikely? Imagine the NSA investigating gun owners.) Or a 60 Minutes piece on plans for an invasion of Iran. Or a CNN documentary on soldiers that murder civilians in Iraq.

So just remember that the OJ critics just made it a little bit easier to keep media outlets from speaking.

By John M. Higgins

#58 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 01:54 PM:

Bill, so sorry. He sounds like a mensch. And 45 is too damn young to go!!!

#59 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 01:56 PM:

Sorry to hear about your brother, Bill.

I think he's right. My opinion of O.J. is rather low, and of his book exploit is even lower, but I couldn't care less if it reached the book stores or not. But I don't like the precedent.

Heck . . . remember the outrage and indignation when ABC's Nightline announced that it was going to show pictures of soldiers killed in Iraq? And how some affiliates actually didn't show the episode? What kind of fucked up jingoistic blackwhite goodthink was that about?

#60 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 02:01 PM:

I can't say that I'm upset about the OJ interview being pulled, but my feeling about the book was 'If you don't want to read it, don't buy it!' (I don't know why this is such a hard concept to get across, but it is. I've seen it several times, with conservatives in the role of the Severely Offended Party.)

Bill, your brother sounds much-loved by his colleagues. I'm sorry I never met him.

#61 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 02:15 PM:

Stefan @#59, don't forget the brouhaha about "Saving Private Ryan" back in 2004, too. I had an e-mail exchange with our TV station manager about the station's decision not to run it.

#62 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 02:19 PM:

That's America for you, Linkmeister. They have no problems showing people getting burned alive on TV, or seeing brain matter make a forceful exit out of someone's skull, but no bad language please.

#63 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 03:35 PM:

I have no issue with people owning gnus. Have at it. But as protection against the government...how can this work? If you're planning on organizing a militia, a _big_ militia, gnus are the least of your problems. Anything less is just another Ruby Ridge.

Yes, exactly. When I hear anyone talking about needing to have guns "to protect ourselves from the government," I know they don't fully understand what they're saying. Unless it is indeed the Second American Revolution (or rather, the third -- the Civil War was the second, which failed) and you have outright, widespread armed rebellion, the Feds are just going to roll right over you.

And one of the reasons this will happen is that the government has much bigger and better guns that you can get hold of; there hasn't been reasonable parity of equipment between the government and the populace since... well, at least since WWI, if not before.

At this point, I think our best hope is for the ballot-box revolution to continue. And if it doesn't -- if the Republicans manage to get their juggernaut back on track in 2008 -- our second-best is that sooner or later, the Armed Forces will remember their oath and turn against the theocrats... because no amount of armed civilians is going to make a lot of difference if the Army is fighting for the theocrats.

#64 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 03:40 PM:

I have no issue with people owning gnus.

I'd rather own a llama.

#65 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 03:54 PM:

I have no issue with people owning gnus.

In principle, I would say yes, but in practice I would rather not have to deal with their viral nature.

#67 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 04:18 PM:

#57:

Sorry to hear about your brother.

I agree that the OJ book and interview spiking is creepy. I've heard of several examples of this kind of thing throughout the years, and I assume most examples aren't so well publicized. For example, does anyone remember the book about the current president's alleged drug use that was spiked a few months before the 2000 election? Another example was a book on heritability of intelligence and race/IQ stuff (from what I've read, but I haven't read the book) called "The G Factor," which was spiked by the publisher after some initial controversy. (Just to make things confusing, there's a different book by the same name by Arthur Jensen out there, I think about similar topics.)

Does anyone know how common it is to have a book deal spiked because of outside pressure? I guess I've always assumed this was really rare, but how would I know if it happened twice a week? What other examples are there of this sort of spiking of books? What does it take to get a publisher to throw a bunch of already-printed books away rather than sell them?

#68 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 04:23 PM:

Serge #51: A psychical attack is indeed the same thing as a psychic attack (if a trifle provincial and old-fashioned); however the term should not be applied to such things as beatings, shootings, burnings of residences and such like as have happened to the Roma in Romania. Hence my question to the student: 'Was Dracula involved?' Hence, also, my evil pun in #50 above.

#69 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 04:25 PM:

Bill Higgins: I'm sorry to hear about your brother. It must be a hard loss.

#70 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 04:27 PM:

Lydia Nickerson #54:

I'm a gnu—I'm a gnu
The g-nicest work of g-nature in the zoo
I'm a gnu—how do you do?
You really oughtta g-know w-who's w-who
I'm a gnu—spelt G - N - U
I'm not a camel or a kangaroo
So let me introduce, I'm neither man nor moose
Oh, g-no, g-no, g-no, I'm a gnu!"

-- Michael Flanders, of course.

#71 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 06:24 PM:

Mr. Higgins, reading some of the tributes from his co-workers, your brother must have been quite a guy.

I'm sorry for your loss.

#72 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 08:01 PM:

And here's what a new Democrat, Senator-elect, says:

At a recent White House reception for freshman members of Congress, Virginia's newest senator tried to avoid President Bush. Democrat James Webb declined to stand in a presidential receiving line or to have his picture taken with the man he had often criticized on the stump this fall. But it wasn't long before Bush found him.

"How's your boy?" Bush asked, referring to Webb's son, a Marine serving in Iraq.

"I'd like to get them out of Iraq, Mr. President," Webb responded, echoing a campaign theme.

"That's not what I asked you," Bush said. "How's your boy?"

"That's between me and my boy, Mr. President," Webb said coldly, ending the conversation on the State Floor of the East Wing of the White House.

#73 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: November 29, 2006, 10:23 PM:

#54 Lydia Nickerson, that's why I currently don't own a firearm. I still believe the Constitution works and will outlive its detractors. It has come uncomfortably close to home in the past few years of just what my oath meant when I was a young man wearing a uniform.

Yes I do believe there should be limits on firearm ownership (extreme weapons, convicted felons, etc.). I also think that having background checks at gun shows is not an infringement, and can be done easily by the organization running the show. I do, however, believe that the 2nd Amendment was written specifically to have a well armed populace. Given the 4 (or was it 5) rebellions under the Articles of Confederation, our Founding Fathers would have known the dangers of including this right, and went ahead with it anyway (well, the NE States held up ratification unless the BoR would be included).

Do I think the "militias" are mostly wack jobs? Yes I do. Their politics are even more restrictive and they're ineffectual. I would give reasons why, but I personally don't want them to actually get better by giving them hints.

That being said, having Pat Buchannon stand before and idolatrous crowd and talk about how "we" should take back America like we did LA by using the 82nd Airborne, my back gets up and I do my best Charleton Heston impression.

And yes, I would rather die protecting my country and my rights than live meekly in the world the fear mongers like Gingrich, Cheney, Buchannon, Robertson and the rest want for us. Even with their positions of power they can't change the country to what they want, that is the strength of the Constitution. Also understand that this doesn't mean I'm going to stand in front of the tank as my first and only action.

For now, the Constitution works, that's the line. Getting the government to work for the people instead of business is the more immediate problem, and one that doesn't need the fires of revolution.

#74 ::: Joe Crow ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 04:55 AM:

But the record of armed citizens in the US preventing police oppression doesn't look so good. Look at the drug war for ample examples.

Drug war's not about preventing police oppression, from the dealer's side. It's about keeping drugs illegal. As soon as drugs become legal, their competition ceases to be the other dude on the corner and becomes Phillip-Morris, Budweiser, and Glaxo-SmithKline. When dealers shoot at cops, it's just to keep them off their back at the moment. Otherwise, you'd see stuff like police stations getting blown up and cops getting deliberately targeted, just like you do in Iraq. Drug war's just a gimmick to pump up the funding and get a bunch of legal precedents set up so's the cops get a free-er hand next time they want to do something their employers care about.

And one of the reasons this will happen is that the government has much bigger and better guns that you can get hold of; there hasn't been reasonable parity of equipment between the government and the populace since... well, at least since WWI, if not before.

At this point, I think our best hope is for the ballot-box revolution to continue. And if it doesn't -- if the Republicans manage to get their juggernaut back on track in 2008 -- our second-best is that sooner or later, the Armed Forces will remember their oath and turn against the theocrats... because no amount of armed civilians is going to make a lot of difference if the Army is fighting for the theocrats.

Take a look at Iraq and Afghanistan. How well is the big dog doing in those fights? The Iraqi insurgents don't have armor, jets or anti-aircraft rocket batteries. All they've got is small arms, improvised explosives, mortars and some anti-tank
munitions, but they seem to be doing OK for themselves against the world's largest and most technologically advanced military force. If they'd stop shooting at each other and concentrate on us for a bit, we'd be done even quicker than we're gonna be. How much easier do you think it'd be for the US military to function against an uprising in their own supply base, fighting against their own people? I'm not talking about shooting at poor half-drowned refugees in New Orleans, I'm talking about snipers and IEDs in New York City, LA and Dallas. The government can only threaten to nuke so many stateside cities for insurrection before things get complicated. They can only trash so much of their own economic infrastructure before they can't resupply the folks in the tanks anymore.

Understand, this is not the direction that anybody sane wants to go. But the potential for this sort of madness is one of the things that keeps the folks at the top of the machine from getting more ambitious than they've gotten thus far.

For now, the Constitution works, that's the line. Getting the government to work for the people instead of business is the more immediate problem, and one that doesn't need the fires of revolution.

Of course the Constitution works. It does precisely what it was built to do; it keeps nearly all political power in the hands of the elite, distracts the general populace with periodic opinion polls and popularity contests, and keeps the tools of power separate enough that nobody at the top gets too greedy and tries for the whole shebang. That last bit's getting a bit ragged of late, but it's still sorta working.

Yeah, every once in a while the folks at the bottom manage to work around the machine and make enough noise to convince the elite to throw them a few more bones (Eugene Debs, the civil rights movement, that sort of thing) but those tricks only work once. The machine adapts pretty quickly for something so large, and the folks at the bottom keep trying the stuff that worked last time. The founders wanted a setup that'd make sure that they and their sort (the rich white dudes) would keep most of the pie, that me and my sort (the broke white dudes) would shut up and do what we're told in exchange for a few crumbs of pie, and everybody else (women, black folks, etc) would fuck off and die. Over the last few centuries, a few of the folks in the FOAD category have managed to sneak into the few crumbs category, and every once in a while one of the folks in the big slice category feels generous or guilty and tosses a few bigger chunks over the balcony, but overall, the machine does what it always did. It keeps us from seeing what's going on and keeps those who do see what's going on from doing anything about it.

#75 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 05:02 AM:

I have no issue with people owning gnus.

I disagree. For me, no gnus is good news.

GOOD GNUS
A Vignette in Verse
by
Charlotte Mulliner

When cares attack and life seems black
How sweet it is to pot a yak
Or puncture hares, or grizzly bears
Or others I could mention;
But in my animals' "Who's Who"
No name comes higher than the gnu
And each new gnu that comes in view
Receives my prompt attention.

When Afric's sun is sinking low
And shadows wander to and fro
And everywhere there's in the air
A hush that's deep and solemn;
Then is the time good men and true
With view halloo pursue the gnu
(The safest spot to put your shot
Is through the spinal column).

In order to achieve surprise
We must adopt some rude disguise
(Although deceit is never sweet
And falsehoods don't attract us);
So while with gun in hand you wait
Remember to impersonate
A tuft of grass, a mountain pass,
A kopje or a cactus.

A brief suspense and then at last
The waiting's o'er, the vigil past.
A careful aim, a spurt of flame,
It's done. You've pulled the trigger.
And one more gnu, so fair and frail,
Has handed in its dinner pail
(The females all are rather small,
The males are somewhat bigger).

#76 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 06:50 AM:

Dr. H.S. Thompson, of course, opined that he should have guns, but not just every kid who wanted them.

That aside, let us briefly reflect on Joe Crow's sick genocide fantasy as a strong argument that people should not have guns. At least, not him.

#77 ::: martyn taylor ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 08:16 AM:

Everyone bemoaning News International pulling the OJ book/interview/whatever, ask yourself when was the last time the cancer (as I call Mr Murdoch as Dennis Potter called his cancer 'Rupert') took any notice of anyone?

Now I'm only an English lawyer, rather than an American one, but I rather fancy that the cancer's lawyers - and he buys only the most expensive - had a quiet word with him and mentioned the figure he would almost be guaranteed to lose when the readily identifiable class of individuals who would be put to great pain and distress by this enterprise took his scraggy Australian arse to court.

Sorry to pour cold water on your parade and associated breast beating, but I don't really believe any one of us who expressed outrage had any effect on the cancer's thinking.

And, yes, I am aware he's an American now. He couldn't own a tv station if he wasn't, now could he. Pity the Chinese don't have the same law.

#78 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 08:18 AM:

Alex wrote -
Dr. H.S. Thompson, of course, opined that he should have guns, but not just every kid who wanted them.

Yes, elitists* often think in such fashion. Gingrich wants only those who agree with him to have freedom of speech - doesn't make him right, either.

Alex again wrote -
That aside, let us briefly reflect on Joe Crow's sick genocide fantasy as a strong argument that people should not have guns. At least, not him.

Perhaps some reading comprehension - or forgetting your "skim reading" lessons and actually taking time to actually read the whole thing - is in order?

Joe Crow wrote -
Understand, this is not the direction that anybody sane wants to go. But the potential for this sort of madness is one of the things that keeps the folks at the top of the machine from getting more ambitious than they've gotten thus far.

While I may not agree with his rather bitter comments about the Founding Fathers, the idea that Joe's interested in killing all dem rich white folks is - a bit hyperbolic given the statement above, don't you think? (and realistically - genocide? This word does not mean what you think it means, I think.)

*I have quite a bit of respect for the late, great HS Thompson. But there is no doubt in my mind that there was a latent streak of elitism in some - maybe even much - of his writings.

#79 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 09:24 AM:

Hmm, there's enough strawmen in there to hold bayonet drill..

#80 ::: Scott Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 09:58 AM:

Alex wrote -
Hmm, there's enough strawmen in there to hold bayonet drill..

There is?

Hmm - there certainly wasn't intended to be? Perhaps, instead of accusing me of strawman tactics, you should, instead, refine what you meant? After all, I'm just an American of Very Small Brain, so doubtless your agile and cunning meaning was lost on me.

You see, I see the words as follows

Alex -
"That aside, let us briefly reflect on Joe Crow's sick genocide fantasy as a strong argument that people should not have guns. At least, not him.

Sick - in this reference scheme, doubtful that it mean "ill" as in "possessed of some illness or disease". Rather "Psychotic" or "not right in the head" or "disgusting, perverse" seem rather more likely meanings

Genocide - There are those who have started to use "genocide" and "Genocidal" to merely refer to "mass murder", yet it actually has a deeper and more sinister meaning. The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide defines it as -

"any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; and forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

by this definition, Darfur is genocide (however much the world might not want to say it, because then they'd have to get off their asses and actually do something about it). The WTC was not, despite killing thousands of people, in that its intent was most likely not to "destroy, in whole or in part" the national group known as Americans.

Fantasy - I find it doubtful you refer to the genre of fiction in this case, which leaves us with either the connotation of a psychological fantasy ("a situation imagined by an individual or group, which does not correspond with reality but expresses certain desires or aims of its creator") or a sexual one (which is more unlikely - but much more creepy).

So it certainly appears to me (being, as noted, an American of Very Small Brain) that you are accusing JoeCrow of harboring perverse or psychopathic fantasies of killing or destroying some ethnic, national, religious or racial group - which, exactly, you don't specify. You further suggest that, on this basis alone, he - and perhaps all peoples - should be denied gnus.

So, where, exactly, did I go wrong? Perhaps by "sick genocide fantasy" you actually meant "fluffy bunny rabbits" and meant to impugn that, because Joe is an owner of cottontails, that he should not be allowed to own firearms?

Please, do enlighten me.

#81 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 10:15 AM:

When gnus are outlawed, only outlaws will have gnus. (Well, someone had to say it.) Great poems/songs, upthread!

#82 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 10:52 AM:

Scott, in #79 Alex didn't even make clear which message had the "strawmen." He may have been referring to your message in #78, or he may not.

#83 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 11:21 AM:

this [armed insurrection in the USA] is not the direction that anybody sane wants to go

This is not the direction that anybody sane would expect to go, imho. It is not the direction that anybody sane would spend more than two seconds contemplating, because it ain't gonna happen. Not in any of our lifetimes. The closest we've come to it recently was New Orleans, and I haven't heard that gun ownership helped anybody out then.

To me, it sounds like the Rapture.

#84 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 12:35 PM:

Lawrence:

Are you saying that there is no conceivable set of circumstances in which the US would collapse into civil war? I can see plenty of ways in which this could happen. The issue here isn't primarily about citizens shooting at government and vice-versa, it's about whether we shift over at some point to resolving our political disputes by violence at the highest levels.

For example, the president has claimed the authority to arrest, detain, and torture anyone he calls an unlawful combatant, on his word alone. If the president asserted that authority in the wrong way, and it came out, I think there is a real chance we could make that shift as a country--the president might be deposed in a coup, or might have to have other people with a lot of influence arrested or killed to keep power.

Now, I don't expect the president to do this. And there are doubtless internal constraints on this behavior--if the president has obviously lost his mind, nobody's going to accept his orders, and in any event, an order to arrest Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton and ship them off to Guantanamo will not be followed by anyone.

But I think it's fantasy to imagine that the US is somehow immune to this sort of thing. We have concentrated scary levels of power in the federal government in general, and in the presidency in particular. That power probably includes the power to screw the country up so badly that we never recover.

#85 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 01:48 PM:

albatross and Laurence, well, let's speculate a little less. In June or July of 2004 a low-level administration employee made the comment to a reporter about how the President may need to delay that year's election if the security threat level was too high.

Balloon goes up, balloon comes down in a fiery crash.

Or, re-read the pre-election discussions here and elsewhere and feel the anger. It's not that far below the surface even for the high-level, literate discussions that happen here.

Do I think it's immediate? Not by a long shot. I think the possibility exists though.

#86 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 02:11 PM:

I did say "Not in any of our lifetimes." Sure, it's possible. I'd even agree that we're heading in that direction. But we're still very, very far from that kind of social breakdown.

#87 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 02:56 PM:

The whole Newt thing: I read things like this, and I have to wonder: Setting aside political affiliation, can any American, especially one who theorectically understands the principles this country is founded on, can he or she really say things like "no free speech" or "limited free speech" and believe that's being American, regardless of the reason? Is someone who says that really that nakedly obsessed with power? Or do they really, truly not understand what they are saying? I'm on the wrong end of the vote in this country more often than not--politically, religion-wise, and socially--and yet I know that banning thoughts and ideas I disagree with is very dangerous. Again, do they believe this? Do they not see the parallels to say, Iran or Russia? Or are they really so stupid as to believe they will always be in power? And if so, have they no knowledge of history?

#88 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 03:21 PM:

I've got a question here -- What would it take to get Bush, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld declared to be insane?

Am I correct in thinking that they could be removed from office because of it?

#89 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 03:39 PM:

#87: What scares me about the Gingrich speech is that I hear occasional person on the street interviews on NPR where the interviewee professes at least one of the following:
1. trust in Bush because he is a decent Christian
2. intrusion on personal privacy is ok because the government is doing it only to the terrorists

What Gingrich actually thinks, to a certain extendt is immaterial. What's troubling is that there is a segment of the US population which thinks that differential rights are ok. Those are the people that Gingrich et al. are rallying and encouraging. Based on these statments, it seems he would like nothing better than for more people to join that pool.

#88: IANAL, but if I read the 25th Amendment correctly, there is no automatic mechanism. Cheney et al. could remove an insane W by notifying Congress, but there is nothing there to remove an insane VP or an insane Secretary of State. (We shouldn't have to worry about Rummy for much longer.) The Secretary of State serves at the pleasure of the President. However, unless there is something else in the Constitution itself, I think the VP needs to be impeached and convicted.

#90 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 05:59 PM:

In #88, Lori Coulson writes:

I've got a question here -- What would it take to get Bush, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld declared to be insane?

Am I correct in thinking that they could be removed from office because of it?

Not that the answer to Lori's question is uninteresting, but I would be very frightened to find myself living in a country where people arranged to have their political adversaries declared insane-- four at a time.

#91 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 06:38 PM:

#87 Mark DF:

You mean like obscenity laws? Or hate speech laws? Or laws against burning flags?

Plenty of people would prefer to limit some kinds of speech. If there weren't a first amendment, and you put it to a vote whether people should have freedom to say whatever they want, I don't think you'd like the outcome....

#92 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 09:30 PM:

On a debate board I frequent, we were recently discussing the case of the six imams kicked off of their U.S. Airways flight. A number of posters claimed that while *of course* they weren't saying what happened was right, the men should have expected problems when they prayed in a public place and made "anti-American" statements in the airport. I pointed out several times that "anti-American" statements could simply mean criticism of what the Bush adminstration has done in Iraq, but they stood their ground and said that people should know better than to make such statements in an airport.

Yesterday, somebody started a new thread about Gingrich. Of course, everybody thought it was terrible that anyone would want to limit free speech. Nobody seemed to notice the irony.

#93 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: November 30, 2006, 10:32 PM:

I don't read Joe's post as a genocidal fantasy, but it does strike me as a tactical fantasy; there's a big difference between a country in which a million-man army has just been "disbanded" (especially when that country has a number of heavily-armed neighbors) and the US. Joe, where do you think IEDs come from? What I've read says they're mostly artillery shells; I doubt ANFO is as effective.

#94 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2006, 12:42 AM:

Olbermann's latest:

Have you no shame, Mr. Gingrich?

'. . . who among us can look to our collective history and not see its turning points — like the Civil War, like Watergate, like the Revolution itself — in which the right idea defeated the wrong idea on the battlefield that is the marketplace of ideas?

But apparently there are some of us who cannot see that the only future for America is one that cherishes the freedoms won in the past, one in which we vanquish bad ideas with better ones, and in which we fight for liberty by having more liberty, not less.

“I am seeking to create a movement to win the future by offering a series of solutions so compelling that if the American people say I have to be president, it will happen.”

What a dark place your world must be, Mr. Gingrich, where the way to save America is to destroy America.

I will awaken every day of my life thankful I am not with you in that dark place.

And I will awaken every day of my life thankful that you are entitled to tell me about it.

And that you are entitled to show me what an evil idea it represents and what a cynical mind.

And that you are entitled to do all that, thanks to the very freedoms you seek to suffocate.'

#95 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2006, 02:36 AM:

If there is any area where free spheech should be restricted, it is how it applies under the notion that “money is speech”.

#96 ::: Joe Crow ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2006, 03:56 AM:

I don't read Joe's post as a genocidal fantasy, but it does strike me as a tactical fantasy; there's a big difference between a country in which a million-man army has just been "disbanded" (especially when that country has a number of heavily-armed neighbors) and the US. Joe, where do you think IEDs come from? What I've read says they're mostly artillery shells; I doubt ANFO is as effective.

True, but there's also a difference between fighting insurgents in somebody else's country and fighting them in your own country where they can directly affect your financial and materiel supplies.

As for Alex's suggestions of my sick genocide fantasy, what part of "madness" didn't you understand? I live here, man. Why the fuck would I want to burn down my own country, especially while I'm trying to raise a kid in it?

What I'm trying to do is point out the fact that historically, one of the things that keeps the folks on top from saying "Fuck it, you're all serfs now!" is remembering the French and Russian Revolutions. Piss on the proles hard enough, and they flip out and burn the whole machine down. The knowledge that a sizeable chunk of the proles are armed keeps them farther from that edge of overt slavery than good will ever does. You'll notice how carefully both sides (Dem and Rethug) tiptoe around the dominionists and the antiabortion terrorists. That's because they're also heavily represented in the gun culture, and the rightist terrorists are still actually killing people. Leftist activists (ELF, BlackBloc, all of them) nearly always confine their attacks to property, which is why nobody in the machine gives a rat's ass about them. They're not scary enough to give the machine pause. One of the curses of behaving like civilized people, I guess. Makes things harder in the short run.

Another note: yeah, the machine looks pretty invulnerable and eternal right now. Factor in an economic collapse that'd dwarf the Great Depression and make Weimar Germany look like 1980's Japan. That's the sort of thing that'll turn the social fracturing that makes our public discourse so divisive these days into the kind of internal butchery that's sweeping over Iraq. Sudden economic collapses make people do crazy shit to each other, and there's a lot of crazy folks out there who're waiting for something to make people start taking their bad craziness seriously.

That's the stuff of my nightmares, right now.

#97 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2006, 09:16 AM:

#92 Jen:

Well, given the level of paranoia about Islamic terrorism, it's not exactly a shock that they had some trouble. And paranoia about Islamic terrorists is probably overblown, but it's not nuts, since there have been a bunch of high-profile terrorist attacks by Muslims, resulting in a lot of deaths.

In this environment, I think it's inevitable that there will be innocent people who scare some other passengers. I suspect what's needed here is some kind of visible response that demonstrates to the other passengers that yes, the authorities have noticed that there are half a dozen Muslim men traveling together acting a little odd, and no, they don't really look like a threat to blow the plane up. And that needs to be done in a way that is a minimal hassle for the Muslim men.

Perhaps this is just my bias here, but I think some of the obviously goofy TSA policies really backfire here. Most people aren't very good at thinking through attacks, but they're certainly bright enough to figure out that a lot of the policies being used are just silly. That makes it a lot easier to feel like you've seen the threat that the TSA drones at the checkpoint missed.

The broader problem relates to racial profiling, where it's actually a much bigger issue. In some places, a black 20 year old driving an expensive car is pretty likely to be a car thief. But it really, really sucks to be the 20 year old black guy who lives there, and gets pulled over every single time he goes out to the store in the middle of the night to get some milk or something. In the same way, Muslim Arab men are more likely to try to blow up the plane they're on than non-Muslim, non-Arab men. (But since almost nobody tries to blow up a plane, the probabilities are incredibly low here. Maybe it's one in a million vs one in a billion.) But it really, really sucks to be the Arab Muslim sales rep who spends an extra two hours clearing security every time he flies to see a client.

There's a tradeoff in both cases. And in both cases, the tradeoff has to take into account not only catching bad guys and minimizing the hassle faced by good guys, but also being seen to be doing something about crime or terrorism.

#98 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2006, 11:11 AM:

#90, Bill Higgins -- Maybe I should explain my line of reasoning, so you won't think I'm the Red Queen, wanting folks declared insane en masse.

It is my very humble opinion that the individuals who advocated and authorized the invasion of Iraq were, and are, insane.

The ringleaders in this folly were Bush, Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld, and they further demonstrated their feeble grasp on reality by having no plans to deal with the problems that arise when one nation occupies another.

I really hope Congress tells Bush the only money they'll authorize for the troops in Iraq are the funds to bring our people home.

#99 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2006, 12:42 PM:

re civil war, parity of arms and the like:

Parity of arms is not the bugbear it's touted to be.

The single greatest change in warfare is/was the metallic cartridge, and the readily available small arm.

Afganistan, Algeria, Iraq, Vietnam. All of those were/are, rifles, and some explosives, against tanks, planes and choppers.

They were small scale (even accepting the active involvement of the NVA through the latter part of U.S. involvment in Vietnam) actions of units with small arms, engaging some of the best trained armies in the world.

The armies lost/are losing. In part because the situation was untenable, supply lines were long, and the cause's import didn't rise the the level of complete national committment.

They were/are wars of politics. The best model I can think of is the sort of border actions which were the induldgences of monarchs before the French Revolution changed the game.

The Austro-Hungarians thought they could pull off such a thing in Serbia, and it backfired.

These days the locals have rifles, and they won't stand for it.

Can a tank flatten a village? Yep. Can a rifle take out a tank? Nope. But a well made molotov cocktail can (hell, one dedicated man can mobility kill an M1-Abrams, and needs nothing more than the knowledge of what lever to pull. The crew will bail out, and... well you can imagine the rest).

And rifles can make it hard for infantry to support tanks.

Conversations about Mogadishu, to slide a little sideways, almost always has people bemoaning Aspin's refusal to let the Army bring Bradleys. The idea being that if there were "tanks" around, those drug-addled street gangs couldn't have insulted us by shooting up the troops.

It's nonsense.

If there had been Bradleys in that mess, it would have been a lot worse. Densely packed urban environments are not places for armor. Armor is vulnerable from above. The rockets which crippled the Blackhawks, were designed for taking out tanks. Topside armor on a Bradley is nothing to them.

A Bradly blocking the road can't be pushed out of the way, certainly it can' when guys with rockets are still on the roofs above.

Homemade napalm works pretty well too.

Can an armed insurrection happen in the U.S.? Sure. It's happened before. Some with more "sense" than others (The SLA were idiots, even if one doesn't believe they were just petty crooks with a snappy patter of justification, the Weathermen were also idiots).

Is it likely to be, "Gun-toting liberals" (like me)? No. Because one of the ideas people like me have is that Gov't isn't inherently evil. So we are much more likely to work inside the system (even when flawed).

It's not that I can't imagine being pushed to rebel, but I don't plan for it. Guys on the miltia end of the right, they see "the government" as evil (except when it's busy smacking down the people they don't like. They tend to see differences between goose and gander, where all I see is meat to be sauced). Because of that they spend a lot more time thinking about the need to do away with it; when it encroaches on "liberties."

Are we likely to see another sectional civil war (a la the rebellion of The South, which led to the war in 1861-1865)? No. The issues are too diffuse. There are enough people, everywhere, who; were it to rise to the level that force were needed to alter, or abolish, a government destructive to the ends of securing liberties to ourselves, and our posterity, it would be something more akin to Iraq, or Lebanon; in the 1980s, than it would be to the CSA/USA conflict.

More wars of the Roses, mixed with Serbia.

If it lasted long enough, there might be enough social disintegration, and migration, that several new countiries arose from the ashes, but if it comes to that (which I don't think likely, the scale is too great) I don't think a United States is going to come out of it at the other end.

#100 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2006, 02:16 PM:

albatross @ 91:

I'm troubled by those too. Obscenity laws* almost always are used for political targeting, hate crimes* feel way too much like thought crime, and, yes, I think you should be able to burn the flag***. Again, these are all examples that someone thought were good things, but have terrible downsides. My original frustration is why do seemingly intelligent people not see historically bad precedents?

*fwiw, I'm gay and theorectically a beneficiary of these laws. I don't see it that way. If my skull is bashed in, I do not in the least care why. I care that assault and battery charges are applied appropriately.
**this is the flipside of hate crimes. Typical mainstream glbt fiction is stopped at the Canadian border all the time, glbt mags are banned from mainstream bookstores, etc.
***this is an issue that both side get wrong. If you burn the flag, aren't you burning the symbol of the right to do so? I believe the country owns this flag, not any current administration. If you ban the burning, aren't you banning the rights that symbol represents? I believe you are more stupid than the burners.

#101 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2006, 03:09 PM:

I've been thinking about this. May I propose a scenario?

Newt Gingrich was way out of the political limelight, and he wasn't doing all that much to get back into it. Now all of a sudden he's running for President, publishing inflammatory books, and making public statements about how freedom of speech may have to go by the board if we're to protect ourselves from terrorism.

Is the Honorable Newt that stupid? I'd have sworn he's at least a little cleverer than what we're seeing. There's no shortage of candiates for the position of Scary Far Right Crazy Person, and no great call for them, either. If he were really running for President, Gingrich could do much better by positioning himself as "reassuringly reactionary, but not one of the utterly discredited Bush People." Instead, he's outdoing Pat Buchanan at the 2000 Republican National Convention -- and we all know what kind of backlash that provoked.

Gingrich may not be all that loyal to his country, but he's always been a loyal Republican. So: what are the chances that he's deliberately staking out the scary end of the spectrum to make McCain look like a moderate? It won't make Gingrich President, but it gets him back into the thick of things, and puts him in line to receive some suitable reward if McCain gets elected.

#102 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2006, 03:25 PM:

Nah, Teresa... They couldn't be that macchiavellian. And the People wouldn't be so stupid that they'd fall for such a trick. ("Where have you been for the last 6 years, Serge?")

#103 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2006, 03:50 PM:

Over at Talking Points Memo today:

(December 01, 2006 -- 12:05 PM EST // link)
Gingrich Prez campaign advisor: My guy has no chance.

-- Josh Marshall

===

It must be Machiavellian, if he has no chance, and his advisor is admitting it.

#104 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2006, 03:51 PM:

The other plausible theory about Gingrich's hypothetical nefarious purposes is that he doesn't give a damn about the welfare of the Republican Party any more than he gives a damn about the welfare of the US, and that he's increasing his publicity level so get gets leverage to bargin for more money in his speaking fees, consulting fees, and book advances.

That's the theory I'm hoping for, anyway. I don't particularly like the idea of a venal Gingrich throwing rhetorical bombs to enrich himself, but at least if this theory is true he probably isn't doing much real damage.

#105 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2006, 04:15 PM:

Apropos of nothing previously written in this thread:

As you know, Bob, Newt Gingrich remains the only Speaker of the House, and is, I believe, the highest government official, to address a World Science Fiction Convention. Twice.

#106 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2006, 05:03 PM:

Teresa @ #101: The same bulb went off in my head after my post! Prompted by China Mieville's recent essay The Lies that aren't Meant to Deceive Us. Combined with the recent Making Light thread about McCain's politics, I thought Newt might be the "Lie We Aren't Meant to Notice When We Vote For McCain."

I can believe this because, while I'm not a rabid political junkie, I think I tend to be more pro-active in my political reading that the "average" voter, and there's a whole McCain out there I didn't know about until recently. There's even more the average voter probably won't see beyond the burnished image the Repugs will present in 2008.

#107 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2006, 05:06 PM:

Actually, PJ, it might be extremely macchiavelian, especially since it does not look macchiavellian. Heheheh...

#108 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: December 01, 2006, 08:05 PM:

(takes off tin-foil hat) Gingrich's speech is part of a multi-pronged effort to weaken or destroy the 1st Amendment in an attempt to re-define the Establishment Clause to say we are a "Christian Nation" and you can choose any flavor of Christianity you want, but nothing else. This is also in conjunction with the evangelical attack on the ACLU (who would be their main opponent to this change). Gingrich is performing a flanking maneuver.(puts tin-foil hat back on, goes back to labeling the food stockpile)

#109 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: December 05, 2006, 10:18 PM:

OK, here's Gingrich again in Human Events Online, with a link to the text of a lengthy excerpt from his speech. Here's the relevant paragraph:

And, my prediction to you is that ether before we lose a city, or if we are truly stupid, after we lose a city, we will adopt rules of engagement that use every technology we can find to break up their capacity to use the internet, to break up their capacity to use free speech, and to go after people who want to kill us to stop them from recruiting people before they get to reach out and convince young people to destroy their lives while destroying us.

Here's the bit where Newt's an idiot: If you look at the Human Events Online article, he cites three examples of "very real threats that face Americans" that might require changes to what we allow under the 1st Amendment -- an open letter from the president of Iran, a supposed terrorist training website hosted by the Al-Fajr Information Center in Iraq, and supposed attempts by Hezbollah to build franchise group in Latin America.

Notice what these have in common? None of these sources are located in the US. So how exactly is the 1st Amendment involved? Gingrich wants to "close down websites" that recruit suicide bombers, but if the servers are located in, say, Iran, or Syria, or someplace where people aren't likely to do what we say, then what? Denial of service attacks?

Another thing: Gingrich claims that Ahmadinejad, in his letter, "threatens to kill Americans in large numbers if we don't submit to his demands." He doesn't link to Ahmadinejad's letter, just to a hostile editorial discussing it. Here's the letter. I didn't see anything in there about killing Americans.

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