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October 4, 2007

Dicks
Posted by Avram Grumer at 09:34 PM *

Dammit, blogosphere, you’re making me write about Ann Coulter.

People are complaining that Coulter, in a recent interview with the New York Observer, fantasized about taking the vote away from women:

If we took away women’s right to vote, we’d never have to worry about another Democrat president. It’s kind of a pipe dream, it’s a personal fantasy of mine, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women.

It also makes the point, it is kind of embarrassing, the Democratic Party ought to be hanging its head in shame, that it has so much difficulty getting men to vote for it. I mean, you do see it’s the party of women and ‘We’ll pay for health care and tuition and day care — and here, what else can we give you, soccer moms?’

And there’s the usual noise about how no liberal could get away with advocating the disenfranchisement of a whole group, etc, etc, and nobody seems to notice what’s actually going on it that quote. The payload is in the second paragraph: “the Democratic Party […] has so much difficulty getting men to vote for it.” Translation: Oh, those Dems are so faggy and effeminate. The GOP is the manly party!

You may recognize this as a more vicious version of the framing pattern George Lakoff talks about, where conservatives are a strict father and liberals a nurturant mother. In Coulter’s version, Republicans are a strong father who can protect you from evil bearded brown people, and Democrats are limp-wristed homosexuals who hate daddy because he’s so strict, and will just surrender to the brown people.

We’ve seen this before, when Coulter called John Edwards a “faggot”. The McCain, Giuliani, and Romney campaigns all denounced her comment as inappropriate in a way that left the linkage between Edwards and homosexuality intact. The best example is the denunciation from the Romney campaign:

It was an offensive remark. Governor Romney believes all people should be treated with dignity and respect.

See? The formulaic invocation of tolerance? It’s just what he’d have said if Coulter had made some general slur against homosexuals. Romney gets to look as if he’s denouncing Coulter, while he actually subtly reinforces her slur against Edwards. There’s an evil brilliance to the tactic.

It’s not a coincidence that our current pseudo-fascism is coming along at the same time as an increase in acceptance of homosexuality. One important element of fascism is the worship of masculinity and fear/hatred of the feminine/effeminate. There was an upswell in acceptance of gays back in the 1920s; America’s first gay rights group was founded in 1924. In Germany, there was a widespread movement to decriminalize gay sex. The bigots — those who hate gays, and those who fear that they themselves might be gay — find macho posturing more attractive as they feel more anxiety about what they see as the spread of male effeminacy and the breakdown of patriarchal gender boundaries.

Exposing this sort of thing to the light is one way of fighting it, which is why I’m violating my ignore-Coulter policy.

Comments on Dicks:
#1 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 09:57 PM:

What jumped out at me is that she says women are voting "so stupidly", but then goes on to talk about all the things that Republicans want to take away from women -- health care, education, day care, and of course the big one that she didn't dare articulate, reproductive rights and control over their own sexuality.

OF COURSE women are voting Democratic! That's not stupid; from their point of view, it's the smartest choice they can make!

#2 ::: LizT ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 10:03 PM:

It also makes the point, it is kind of embarrassing, the Republican Party ought to be hanging its head in shame, that it has so much difficulty getting women to vote for it.

Just sayin'.

#3 ::: Deire ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 10:12 PM:

I've had to forcibly restrain myself in bookstores from adding bookmarks to her book "How to Speak to a Liberal (If You Must)": Step One: Remove your head from your ass.

#4 ::: Deire ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 10:12 PM:

I've had to restrain myself in bookstores from adding bookmarks to her book "How to Speak to a Liberal (If You Must)": Step One: Remove your head from your ass.

#5 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 10:17 PM:

Deire @3,4: I wouldn't countenance defacing books, but I can't see any problems with adding a bookmark. Except that someone may catch you doing it and invent a law on the spot that says you can't do it, demanding your arrest.

#6 ::: breeamal ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 10:20 PM:

Apparently though, she rather likes hanging out with homosexuals. As posted on Firedoglake today It was shocking to see America’s deplorable scion of extreme right-wing fanaticism pour herself a glass of wine in a casual white tank top and jeans (no black cocktail dress) and effusively greet the liberal media that she’s made a career crusading.
The gays squealed with delight. They all shelved their political beliefs and giggled to one another about the famous guest, cooing over how skinny she is…

Funny, I'd think better of her if her hate and bile were consistent. Hearing about her being lovely and nice to people she screams she hates is just so banal.

#7 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 10:24 PM:

My father was registered as a Democrat for years while my mother was registered as a Republican. She changed hers in 1980, when George senior changed his expressed views in order to get on the ticket. Now what was that about real men voting GOP again?

#8 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 10:38 PM:

"It is discouraging how much recent political history can be explained as an expression of masculinity doubt."--me, several times over the last several years.

#9 ::: Joy ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 10:40 PM:

Does she realize she would be disenfranchising herself, should her fantasy become real?

#10 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 10:44 PM:

It's a running theme in the GOP book.

See if it weren't for the blacks, "X" wouldn't have been elected. The Native American vote is going to the Dems.

So real (i.e. white) folks vote for the GOP, and all those effete, latte-sipping, faggoty, weaklings are who vote dem.

Which also lets them say the Democrats in office aren't "real" representatives of the people.

Coulter has been saying women don't deserve the vote for years. I'd not seen this aspect of it before but it's part and parcel of the GOP theme.

#11 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 10:47 PM:

Joy: she says yes, she does.

But the world will be so much better run that it's OK.

Oh yeah, she's rich, so the things which bother you and me, aren't going to be as much of a problem for her; just hop a flight to Canada and get the things which are denied her here.

#12 ::: Writerious ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 10:48 PM:

Interesting how she refers to "women" as though they were another species.

As though she's not one of them.

Just sayin'.

#13 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 10:48 PM:

"Does she realize she would be disenfranchising herself, should her fantasy become real?"

I think she figures she can seduce enough powerful men that it doesn't matter. She's probably right. One of the things that the most sexist men don't appreciate is that sexism makes chumps of men.

#14 ::: Andrew Pontious ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:06 PM:

What bugs me, what makes me despair, is that the GOP has been doing this for years and years and years, and yet no elected Dems seem to get it.

Edwards, who I am currently favoring, never did come up with a good narrative against Coulter's attacks.

Al Gore's book, The Assault on Reason, is one long litany of complaints against the Bush regime and the media, but it seems to be premised on the idea that talking about the whole sorry affair politely is going to get us somewhere.

It has, in fact, gotten us here.

#15 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:08 PM:

Joy... Does she realize she would be disenfranchising herself, should her fantasy become real?

"... does not... bzzzt... comp... whirrr... compute.... does... not..."
Boom!
"Time to take Questor back to the lab for a new head fitting."

#16 ::: Nick D. ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:09 PM:

It's incredible the amount of hatred toward women that remark reveals. The implication that the Democratic Party should be ashamed because women vote for it is really revealing of her self-identification with the type of playground bullies who tease boys who aren't masculine enough for them. Ghastly.

Also, it's her assumption that compassion is a sign of weakness, stupidity, or gullibility. Maybe she's never known anyone who has been both compassionate and strong. That would be my guess... but then I'm indulging in armchair psychology now.

I've often said that in some ways I prefer the tag "Progressive" to "Liberal," because to many people "Liberal" suggests the kind of overly permissive parent who lets their kids have ice cream for dinner, i.e., weak and ineffectual parents.

#17 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:24 PM:

She should put her money where her mouth is and stop voting. And being independent. And sit down and shut the fuck up.

It would argue in favor of her position, because it would instantly make the world a better place.

#18 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:29 PM:

She reminds me of Phyllis Schlafly, who spent her time travelling around the country making speeches about how women should stay home instead of going out to work.

Cognitive dissonance, much?

#19 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:31 PM:

Terry, #11: "just hop a flight to Canada and get the things which are denied her here."

I'd be in favour of a law to deny her entry.

Her specifically. By name. She's enough of a special case that it would be worth doing.

This is a picture of Canada, Ann.

NOT YOURS.

#20 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:33 PM:

I have an idea for a political cartoon in my head, but I'm no artist. If anyone wants to try it, feel free.

Image: Rich, powerful man in expensive suit talking (business? politics?) with another man, or several other men, all well-dressed. Behind him is Ann Coulter: Sex Slave -- collared, leashed, handcuffed, and wearing a porno-style French maid's uniform. If you want to make it really explicit, put her in a bondage headdress, the kind that holds the woman's mouth open (and, not so incidentally, keeps her from talking). I don't know whether it would add or detract from the idea to have the other men each holding the leash of his own fantasy woman-object.

Caption: "Ann Coulter's Ideal America".

#21 ::: Marna Nightingale ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:35 PM:

#19: I'd support that law.

Even though it WOULD be amusing to see the effect that being looked at as if she had two heads all the time would have on her composure... it just wouldn't be worth it.

#22 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:43 PM:

Writerious #12: Interesting how she refers to "women" as though they were another species. As though she's not one of them. Just sayin'.

There have been persistent rumors to that effect, but it's so durned easy to focus on what that person actually says instead of obsessing over why that person failed to make a gender selection on a recent voter registration form, that it's really not worth bothering with, and would almost certainly devalue criticism of that person due to the distraction from the substantive issues involved.

#23 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:58 PM:

Indeed, let's not fall into countering Coulter's despicable misogyny with equally despicable transphobia. The "It's a MAN, BABY" thing that seems to crop up around her isn't clever, isn't funny, and isn't helping.

#24 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: October 04, 2007, 11:59 PM:

The best example is the denunciation from the Romney campaign:

It was an offensive remark. Governor Romney believes all people should be treated with dignity and respect.

Except, while he was Governor, Mitt tried to block same sex marriage, so he can piss right off when telling anyone about treating people with fairness and dignity. Good denunciation, but it doesn't mean a thing coming from that jerk

#25 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 12:02 AM:

She's doing nothing more than forwarding the basic neocon worldview: the infatuation with violence. Anything not violent or incapable of violence or not forwarding the viewpoint of violence should be swept under the rug, out of sight, and shouldn't be allowed to vote. It's nothing more than your basic, run of the mill, war pr0n.

I always find it humorous when the chest beating knuckle dragging ijits come up with some idea that basically boils down to "everyone who has our worldview should be allowed to vote".

Er, right. That's what democracy is all about, ya know, making sure that everyone gets to vote, as long as they vote fascist republican.

#26 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 12:18 AM:

I linked to this in open threads, but it bears reposting.

Coulter isn't a fringe figure in conservative figures, they're proud enough of her to put her on a poster full of other righty heroes. A poster stating that "No education is complete until it includes us.":

"Hang the leaders of the Conservative Movement on the wall in your office, home, or dorm! Young America's Foundation is excited to offer our latest breakthrough poster that brings together the strongest leaders and advocates of the Conservative Movement in a unique group photo! This is the only poster of its kind that includes these twelve conservative luminaries: John Ashcroft, Ann Coulter, Michelle Malkin, Robert Novak, Ward Connerly, Dinesh D’Souza, Walter Williams and many more."

Ask Mark Frauenfelder put it, "They had me with the first seven words of their pitch."

#27 ::: annalee flower horne ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 12:40 AM:

I generally have a 'don't feed the ugly, ugly trolls' policy when it comes to Coulter myself, because paying attention to her doesn't do anything but raise the blood pressure (and perhaps make people dumber-- clinical test results on that point are inconclusive).

But when this story started appearing on my friends' list, my first reaction was 'she ought to check the statistics on that, because I don't think there's any evidence suggesting women are more liberal than men.' It didn't occur to me until a few seconds later that the possible factual inaccuracy wasn't what made this a story... I think I'm just too used to Ann Coulter saying ridiculous things.

#28 ::: Naomi Libicki ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 02:26 AM:

There's so many different offensive things going on here, it's hard to choose. But I think to me, the most offensive thing is the implication that tuition and day care are women's issues, as if men have no responsibility to care for their children.

#29 ::: John Rynne ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 02:51 AM:

Are we living in "The Handmaid's Tale"? The bit where the televangelist called for women to be disenfranchised and sent back home to cook and make babies. (She succeeded, only to discover that it applied to her, too!)

#30 ::: Megan Messinger ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 02:57 AM:

>Indeed, let's not fall into countering Coulter's despicable misogyny with equally despicable transphobia. The "It's a MAN, BABY" thing that seems to crop up around her isn't clever, isn't funny, and isn't helping.

Thank you, Dan @ 28 -- and while we're at it, Randolph @ 13, let's keep her sex life out of it, too. We may think she's ridiculous, but a fair fight is a credit to us...and she gives us more than enough material to work with!

#31 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 03:25 AM:

I've seen pictures of Ann Coulter, and there's a wrongness about her look that I've not seen in the real women I know who have that bodyshape. Perhaps it's the personalities, and if I hadn't know who the photographs were of... But I would be unsurprised to discover that Ann Coulter were anorexic, trying to deny her own femininity, while her spouting of vitriolic shit frightens so many young women into the same denial.

Maybe she'd be happier after a sex-change?

#32 ::: vito excalibur ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 03:55 AM:

I find it an odd response to dismiss a respected right-wing pundit's advocated disenfranchisement of half the country's citizenship as "noise" and claim that the real issue here is her (implied) attack on homosexual men. She's not attacking effeminate men for being like women here; she is directly attacking women. Making this be about men is kind of a stretch.

Someone I read earlier made the point that the real message communicated here is that women's votes are optional but men's aren't. One could just as accurately and perhaps with more justice say that Republicans would have no chance of getting elected without male suffrage and the stupidity they've been using it for lately, but you wouldn't get that printed in the Observer.

#33 ::: Francis D ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 04:21 AM:

Also, it's her assumption that compassion is a sign of weakness, stupidity, or gullibility. Maybe she's never known anyone who has been both compassionate and strong. That would be my guess... but then I'm indulging in armchair psychology now.

If she thinks that compassion is a sign of weakness my guess is she's never known anyone who has been compassionate or strong.

#34 ::: Francis D ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 04:36 AM:

I find it an odd response to dismiss a respected right-wing pundit's

Are you calling Ann Coulter a respected right wing pundit? Listened to, yes. Respected by whom?

#35 ::: Zander ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 04:46 AM:

My gods! She quoted Chesterton! She actually QUOTED CHESTERTON! May her tongue shrivel up in her mouth!

(And yes I know that he was in many respects quite reactionary himself but if he were alive today he most definitely would not be and she does not deserve to touch his words with her facial parts. Or whichever parts she was talking out of. Gods that made me angry.)

#36 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 05:02 AM:

Francis D #34: Listened to, yes. Respected by whom?

Enemies of freedom.

#37 ::: bad Jim ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 05:08 AM:

I swear, reading Coulter can lead to a temporary intelligence loss. Perhaps reading anything by anyone as aggressively stupid would. Last year I read a chapter of "Godless" online and it did a number on me for the better part of a day, until I had teased apart all the differently dishonest strands of argument. I've had more fun cleaning out drains and less pain having a firecracker explode in my fingers.

Last year I was in Amsterdam, and the middle-aged whores wearing the world's ugliest lingerie would rap their windows as I passed: look at me! I decided I'd rather not, and I apply the same aversion towards Miss Ann.

As to her appearance: I saw her on the Tonight Show, along with George Carlin, and she looked exactly as skinny as an ex-junkie I knew before she took up running. Her voice was very nice, though, honeyed, cultured, rich, no matter how cheap and obvious her words were.

#38 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 05:12 AM:

It's interesting, in an alarming sort of way, that we have both Limbaugh and Coulter chewing on their own feet recently, like they were trapped on a desert island together and had just run out of coconuts. Who will be the third pundit for the trifecta?

My quatloos are on O'Reilly.

#39 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 05:49 AM:

Weirdly, the opposite is true in Britain. Labour got a bigger share of the male vote than the female vote in every election since 1945, and vice versa for the Conservatives.
http://www.aph.gov.au/LIBRARY/Pubs/rp/1997-98/98rp03.htm#CROSS

The same thing is apparently true in much of Europe, and Australia: women tend to be more conservative, or at least vote more conservatively. The US is the outlier here, with women more liberal than men.

Why? Good subject for a thesis.

Maybe it's because the left parties in Europe grew from the trade union movement, which historically was mostly male (because the workforce was too); American unions never had the same strength.

Maybe it's because left-wing views tend to go with higher levels of education, and men tended to have better access to education (though this was presumably the case in the US too).

Maybe it's because many of the European left's early triumphs, like national insurance, safety at work laws, right-to-strike laws etc, benefitted the mainly male workforce.

Maybe... well, any number of reasons.

#40 ::: Francis D ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 06:45 AM:

The same thing is apparently true in much of Europe, and Australia: women tend to be more conservative, or at least vote more conservatively. The US is the outlier here, with women more liberal than men.

I do not see the US as an outlier. The Republican party in the US at present is not even slightly conservative. It is reactionary - and therefore any genuine conservatives (as opposed to "Conservatives") will currently be voting Democratic as the Democratic party is genuinely conservative (i.e. it doesn't want to change very much or very fast).

Men are more likely than women to take risks* and hence to vote for parties who want change (which is itself a risk). Therefore women are more likely to vote for genuinely conservative parties - and the current Republican party lives up to its Conservative billing about as well as a Peoples Democratic Republic ever lived up to its...

* I don't want a discussion about why - but there is a fair amount of research showing this to be the case.

#41 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 06:55 AM:

Megan, #28. "Thank you, Dan @ 28 -- and while we're at it, Randolph @ 13, let's keep her sex life out of it, too. We may think she's ridiculous, but a fair fight is a credit to us...and she gives us more than enough material to work with!"

I don't understand the objection, here. Her looks are part of her public persona and, really, without the in her looks give her, she'd be near-universally hated by the very sexist men on the radical-right; she's a strong, abrasive personality. I also don't think she is in any sense ridiculous; I think she's very dangerous.

#42 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 07:01 AM:

What I find fascinating about Coulter is the fact that she is taken seriously when she has nothing interesting or original to say.

#43 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 07:05 AM:

Hmm. But the gender gap in the US isn't a new thing; it's existed since 1980 (http://www.pbs.org/now/politics/gendergap.html) at least. I can't find data for any elections further back. So whatever is causing the gap, it can't be the peculiar features of the Republican Party circa 2007... I suppose you could argue (Reagan Revolution) that the GOP has been a radical party since 1980, though.

More data needed! (I swear, when I die they'll find that graven on my heart, like "CALLOUS" on Broody Mary's.)

#44 ::: myrthe ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 07:18 AM:

ajay @ 39:

My wife suggests that maybe it's because a bunch of the so-called "women's issues" in the US experience (healthcare, education) aren't *even* issues over here or in Europe (They're just provided as basics).

Are guns more of a male issue? There's another US issue that doesn't really play elsewhere.

So think about what remains as "conservative issues" versus "liberal issues". Fiscal responsibility is the first that come to mind and yeah, we can see that being a coin-toss, gender wise.

#45 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 07:44 AM:

44: Abortion, too. Not an issue in mainstream British politics at the moment. If the Conservatives came out as pro-life I bet that would reduce their female support...

#46 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 07:52 AM:

Anne Coulter, Joseph Goebbels -- is it just me, or do they look awfully similar?

#47 ::: elizabeth ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 08:08 AM:

As many here know, I'm certain, there's an idea in gaming known as min-maxing (or munchkin, depending on where you were taught). The basis is profoundly simple - use or bend whatever parts of the rules you can find to minimize the downside and maximize the upside of the stats and abilities your character has.

Now, the gamer that enjoys role-playing is likely irritated by the min-maxer. They feeling that the min-maxer is missing the point of the game, and very possibly ruining other people's fun.

But the min-maxer, in the end, will probably win.

That's what all of politics looks like to me, right now. The Republicans will use every dirty trick in the book, because it will make them win. The Democrats are still role-playing a free society, not acknowledging that it is not in fact a cooperative game.

#48 ::: jhetley ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 08:14 AM:

Sweet suffering Elvis (to quote a guy):

My mother hiked down Main Street with my grandmother, carrying a suffragette banner, way back in the Dark Ages. She thought they'd won...

And after all that, Mom served as a Republican poll-watcher in Cook County. She would have voted to revoke Coulter's membership in the female race.

#49 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 08:21 AM:

When Coulter was at Cornell (the early 1980s) her newspaper, the Cornell Review (funded by only the best conservative sources) issued death threats against the head of the gay students association, who I knew from my dorm and theatre productions. I don't know if it was Coulter herself who wrote the editorial, because I wasn't keeping track of wingnuts then (stupid me). But that can be checked if anyone cares enough to do research in Ithaca.

And as for the transgender rumors: she was in Delta Gamma, the most exclusive sorority on the campus. That, I think, refutes them.

#50 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 08:32 AM:

Frances D #40:

Yeah, that's a big point. The party that wants to keep the 72-year old national pension scheme in place, that's the conservative party, right? And the party that has presided over more-or-less redesigning the balance of power between government and citizens, heavily in favor of government power, those can't possibly be conservatives, because conservatives are suspicious of government power. Right? Right?

Well, at least the conservative party doesn't support us playing world policeman and spending our lives and treasure on nation-building exercises. And they're in favor of small government and balanced budgets. Right?

I feel like there ought to be one of those dialog snippets stolen from Ghandi here:

"What do you think of the conservative movement in the US?"

"I think it would be a good idea."

I mean, I'd have plenty of problems with real conservatives, too, but at least the problems would be with someone who wanted to do something sane, but suboptimal, not head off the cliff and stand on the gas.

#51 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 08:49 AM:

Lee #1:

Yes! Why on earth would anyone argue "What's wrong with the Democrats that they can't get men to vote for them?" and not "What's wrong with the Republicans that they can't get women to vote for them?" Given the gender gap, one question implies the other.

#52 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 08:55 AM:

Why should she care if women are disenfranchised? It's not like she votes legally, anyway.

#53 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 08:56 AM:

Randolph #41:

I understand the urge to respond to nastiness with more nastiness, but I really think sexual imagery and innuendoes about Coulter are out of line. ly prominent, and arguably for any man, as well.

Fragano has it right: Coulter has nothing interesting or useful to say. She deserves contempt for her dumb and evil ideas, not for being an attractive woman.

#54 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 08:57 AM:

Sorry, garbled post.

Randolph #41:

I understand the urge to respond to nastiness with more nastiness, but I really think sexual imagery and innuendoes about Coulter are out of line.

Fragano has it right: Coulter has nothing interesting or useful to say. She deserves contempt for her dumb and evil ideas, not for being an attractive woman.

#55 ::: cleek ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 09:00 AM:

Are you calling Ann Coulter a respected right wing pundit? Listened to, yes. Respected by whom?

a recent poll of right-wing blogs puts Coulter and Malkin tied for 2nd, behind Limbaugh. category? their favorite people on the right.

i'm not sure if "favorite" is closer to "respected" or "listened-to", but it's an interesting little survey anyway.

#56 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 09:06 AM:

I find the model of masculinity that Coulter seems to advocate distinctly unmasculine.* It may be necessary to use force in defence of yourself, your family, and your country, but that doesn't stop you from being compassionate, or from recognising that others are humans and deserving of your care and respect. Not to mention avoiding cruelty to animals.


* The model of masculinity I learned at my father's knee involved determination, sobriety, responsibility, hard work, and, ahem, socialism. It had its flaws, many of them, but I cannot imagine my father (for all that he clung to some remarkably Victorian views) approving of Coulter.

#57 ::: Laurel Lyon ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 09:11 AM:

Now I always thought Coulter was a left-wing performance artist, like a more installation oriented Colbert... you mean she's real?
How can people take guff like this seriously? And isn't she liable to hate speech laws? Do you have hate speech laws in the US? (pardon my ignorance)

#58 ::: dsl ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 09:15 AM:

Don't surrender a single anti-Coulter talking point. She's playing up the sex angle - so it can and should be used against her. Linda Hirshman wrote a very good piece in The Guardian about how Coulter's book sales have risen while her outfits on the cover get smaller and smaller:

Ann is hardly the first female author to try to sell her work with titillating pictures of herself. But usually such author photos accompany, say, memoirs of anal sex, like ex-ballerina Toni Bentley's Surrender, rather than screeds on behalf of a political movement deeply rooted in American religious and social conservatism. Like the image of senator Larry Craig in the men's room, Ann Coulter's increasing nudity is revolting mostly because it stands in such contrast to the sexual pieties of the political movement she purports to represent. Will Jerry Falwell now have to consider whether Muslim fundamentalists hate the US because of the pornographic photographs on the covers of right-wing political diatribes?

Judging Coulter By Her Covers

#59 ::: Pat Kight ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 09:19 AM:

PJ @ #18: Ann C. is Phyllis Schlafly's ideological heir(ess) and current contender for the title of America's Leading Female Impersonator.

#60 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 09:22 AM:

I always thought of Ann Coulter as a boxing ring bimbo, one of those women who walk around in a boxing ring between rounds and hold up a big sign telling everyone something they already know. They don't say anything original. They don't add to the discussion. They repeat what someone else told them, and they're running around half naked.

If the political pundit gig hadn't worked out for her, I would have expected she would have ended up working at NASCAR.

#61 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 09:33 AM:

Laurel Lyon @ 57

Do you have hate speech laws in the US? (pardon my ignorance)

Only the laws enacted by the neoconservatives, who hate (other peoples') speech.

#62 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 09:39 AM:

Aren't we assuming that Coulter is for real? I think she knows this is all crap, but it's an ecological niche that makes her very wealthy so why should she stop?

#63 ::: mayakda ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 09:48 AM:

Is SecDef Gates' aide Debra Cagan Coulter's long lost twin?

#64 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 09:53 AM:

As for Coulter's looks, I think they're relevant in that she has worked very hard to create a dysphoric female image, one that the "conservative" subculture she touts generally rejects as unfeminine. This is drastically at odds with her overt message, and makes me think she uses it as cover, in effect saying "I am a loud and obnoxious female, emblematic of what is wrong with educating and giving power to women; listen to my arguments and agree with them because I present a paradigmatic example of why I'm right." This strategy certainly seems to work well; she's accepted on an intellectual level by others of her ideological stripe, while not being considered an exception to her own rules. So the paradoxical nature of her presentation is used to prevent her target audience from noticing the extreme cognitive dissonance of her position.

The dimunution of her photo costumes may be a part of the same strategy: increasingly point out by example that women's salient features are physical, not intellectual; that a woman who recognizes her place must also recognize her role as sexual object.

And why does anyone listen to someone who so clearly has no original thought or analysis to provide? She's a mouthpiece, not a queen but a pawn in the political game she's playing, and not expected to be original, merely effective in spreading the orthodox dogma. I would not be at all surprised to find out that her handlers and writers* have direct connections to people much more highly placed in the Neobarb propaganda system.

* I'm assuming she has a staff, and that at least one person on that staff, though perhaps not having the title, is in fact a speechwriter. It's quite possible I'm wrong, but if she is in fact working directly for some part of the Neobarb political machine, that she has people making sure that her message is idealogically pure and politically on-message.

#65 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 09:54 AM:

And speaking of on-message, make that "it seems likely that she has people".

#66 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 09:59 AM:

Charlie Stross @ 46

Well, you've never seen them together, now have you?

But seriously folks, I would be more likely to compare her to Leni Riefenstahl than to Göbels. As I said above, I don't think she's a prime mover, just another flack for the team, if a highly visible one.

#67 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 10:01 AM:

Exactly, Serge (@62).

Coulter is only really in favor of one thing: keeping power in the hands of Republicans, who pay her handsomely for saying crazy things, which distracts people from discussing real issues and policies (like the fact that Republicans want poor kids to go without health care, Iraq, our tanking economy, etc).

She knows full well no one is going to revoke women's suffrage and we're not going to invade Iran, kill it's leaders and convert everyone to Christianity, etc. But so long as we're talking about what insane things Anne Coulter said, we aren't talking about real issues, either. The status quo is maintained and she gets a nice fat check.

#68 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 10:07 AM:

#15 Serge

Souldn't that be, "Norman, coordinate" (BOING!, the little control tag flashes and the head lolls to the side)

#69 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 10:34 AM:

No accounting for taste, I guess. There are conservative pundits who explain their positions with some measure of thought and reason (George Will, Wm. F. Buckley) and some even a measure of humor (David Brooks, P.J. O'Rourke), and even though I disagree with their viewpoints, I can read them without vomiting inside my mouth.

Coulter aims for coarser tastes, and the only way I know to counter her is by calmly pointing out where she is wrong.

And laughing derisively.

#70 ::: vito excalibur ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 10:39 AM:

dsl@58, we surrender some possible talking points against Coulter not out of concern for her feelings, but because those points hurt ourselves. When you attack a female public figure for her physical presentation or lack of attractiveness, you reinforce the idea that it is legitimate to demand perfection in the attractiveness and physical presentation of female public figures. Those of us who are tired of hearing Hillary Clinton's laugh criticized rather than her position on the war need to cut that out.

#71 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 10:41 AM:

Bruce (STM) #66: Coulter's not Riefenstahl. Riefenstahl had, if nothing else, a talent.

#72 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 11:17 AM:

Those who must resort
To pointless vitriol,
Are hoping we'll retort
And somehow lose control.

But life is all to short,
And discord takes its toll.
If there's not much import
Then DO NOT FEED THE TROLL.

#73 ::: The New York City High School Math Teacher ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 11:20 AM:

Anne Coulter was in DG? Across the street from DDD on Triphammer on North Campus?

One of my signal memories of freshman year was rush week in January during an awful cold snap, three days after course exchange, after dinner at Risley, walking past DG and DDD and observing ~75-90 freshman women in thin evening gowns, some strapless, all shivering, bawling communally in the subzero cold, makeup streaked and tears frozen. The very picture of desolate misery, like the third bolgia of the 9th circle of hell.

I never joined the Greek system - since EAM wasn't that Jewish anymore, AXS was coed chem and I wasn't chem, though a lot of my friends were, and I wasn't interested in SXA, the other coed service frat.

My other favorite memory of fraters and sorors is of SP going up in brilliant flames on slope day, 1994, because of a dumb idjit, a welding torch, and a gas line.

I'm trying to remember - which frat was it that sat right across the street from Risley?

#74 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 11:20 AM:

ethan... Riefenstahl had, if nothing else, a talent.

Speaking of whom... A few years ago, I read that Jodie Foster was going to play her in a biopic, but I haven't heard anymore about that for a long time. Also... Watching "Triumph of the Will" was interesting. Very modern in some respect, but incomprehensible if one doesn't know the detailed History of the era. My favorite moment though was when the Shovel Corps bragged about its accomplishments.

#75 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 11:22 AM:

Steve Buchheir @ 68... Ptoinnngggg!!!

#76 ::: The New York City High School Math Teacher ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 11:25 AM:

My last year in Ithaca, I lived directly beneath AC's successor at the Review, Joe Sabia.
Google young Sabia. In person not as scabrous as his prose.

Needless to say I got no sleep on the night of November 8, 2000, and not just because of the chaotic election results.

#77 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 11:26 AM:

Abi... DO NOT FEED THE TROLL.

Which was my point. By paying attention to the garbage that Coulter knows is garbage, we transmute the garbage into gold that pours into her coffers. (Keith @ 67... I don't know if she cares if the GOP stays in power, as long as they pay her well.)

#78 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 11:42 AM:

What vito excalibur said at 70.

I don't give a toss about Limbaugh's weight or Coulter's looks or the way she dresses or any of that easy-target nonsense that snark too often gives rise to. (It's not like there aren't any funny-looking leftists, after all.)

And I think we ought to be particularly careful about using the language of slut-shaming regarding Coulter, because doing so ulimately reinforces her misogynist nonsense rather than countering it. She'd be just as vile, ridiculous, and venomous if she was plain and mousy and dressed like a Mennonite.

That said, I think Bruce Cohen's analysis at 64 has a lot going for it; it's possible to critique the interplay of her words and her presentation without reflecting her offensiveness on ourselves. Understanding that her looks may carry a certain meaning is not the same as passing judgment on them. And if that feels like a fine distinction, well, that's what we in the reality-based community are supposed to be good at.

#79 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 11:43 AM:

Remember how the late Rev Fallwell would periodically say something so bizarre and creepy that it would ignite a media storm, which somehow mysteriously kept him in the public eye? I suspect there's some similarity here.

#80 ::: Nick D. ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 12:08 PM:

"I don't understand the objection, here. Her looks are part of her public persona and, really, without the in her looks give her, she'd be near-universally hated by the very sexist men on the radical-right."

I dunno... I can't see any good reason to discuss her looks at all. They're irrelevant to the discussion, whether she uses them to her advantage or not. I mean, a woman can dress any way she wants. It is after all her views that we disagree with, isn't it? And they're easy enough to discredit.

"But the min-maxer, in the end, will probably win."

What I don't understand is why the Democrats seem to give the Republicans' tactics a free pass, instead of exposing them tit-for-tat, very agressively, for the cheap tricks they are. That's the only way to take the teeth out of them... unless gaming theory has another suggestion?

#81 ::: Nick D. ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 12:22 PM:

Sorry to post twice and at length, but... I think it behooves us to try to understand the opposition's point of view, otherwise all they hear is the same noise that we hear when someone like Coulter speaks. Which is why she is so ineffectual at convincing us, but so compelling for non-discriminating dittoheads who just want their opinions reflected back at them. Let's not make the same mistake.

E.G.:‘We’ll pay for health care and tuition and day care — and here, what else can we give you, soccer moms?", as intemperate and offensive as that quote is, reflects conservatives' belief that entitlements are unnecessary, counter to American values like self-sufficiency, and ultimately hurt the economy.

Counter THAT argument effectively, and you may just make a conservative think twice about the healthcare issue.

Flame them with language couched in liberal terms like "You don't care about the welfare of children" and they won't even hear you, because they will rightly preceive that you are not disputing their argument on the terms they have presented it.

OK, I'm done lecturing.

#82 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 12:24 PM:

Nick D. #80

I think the Republicans are rapidly losing their teeth:

Iraq
Blackwater
Gonzales
Larry Craig
SCHIP
Katrina
Sub-prime mortgage meltdown
Rumsfeld

We do need to keep their feet to the fire - the fires they started.


#83 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 12:44 PM:

Ms Coulter may have a point in suggesting that women are not competent to vote -- Republican women, that is.

Consider: One of the responsibilites that tradtionally falls upon women is teaching small children how to behave towards their relatives and other people, and how to distinguish between Right and Wrong.

A considerable numer of Republican women fail to indoctrinate their children properly in Republican doctrine and their kids grow up to become Democrats or even (*ghasp*) Liberals.

Others succeed (by Republican standards) and their kids grow up to be Republicans and Conservatives -- like those we read about in the more scandal-oriented tabloids, or those who are bringing about radical and destructive changes in our national polity.

Mind you, I may be a trifle confused, here -- I'm still struggling with the fact that I'm now a Liberal because I support state's rights (more than Conservatives do, anyhow), favor a reasonably-balanced budget, and oppose extreme foreign enganglement and massive growth of the Federal Government bureaucracy.

#84 ::: Ann Coulter sucks ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 12:54 PM:

<rimshot>
going for the cheap shot
sidebar entry real hot
content though is so not

#85 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 01:40 PM:

It's not like Coulter's original or anything. She seems to have borrowed her playbook from Sinclair Lewis's Adelaide Tarr Gimmitch:

She was full of friendliness toward all the men present: she wriggled at them, she cuddled at them, as in a voice full of flute sounds and chocolate sauce she poured out on them her oration on "How You Boys Can Help Us Girls."
Women, she pointed out, had done nothing with the vote. If the United States had only listened to her back in 1919 she could have saved them all this trouble. No. Certainly not. No votes. In fact, Woman must resume her place in the Home and, "as that great author and scientist Mr. Arthur Brisbane has pointed out, what every woman ought to do is have six children."
Granted, Coulter's younger than the Gimmitch, and a trendier dresser. But otherwise: same line, same playbook. Tired now.

#86 ::: Nell ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 02:22 PM:

Excellent points about the subtext of Coulter's message and the "condemnations" of R candidates, etc.

But on the mundane level of fact, men are voting Democratic. The only subgroup of men in which D's don't outpoll R's is among white, Christian, non-union men. And there it's a rout, 70-30 Republican. The demographic is shrinking (and would shrink even more quickly if the Employee Free Choice Act were to become law, and a Democratic administration made new appointments to the NLRB).

This info via a post full of other interesting data points at OpenLeft.

#87 ::: Chris Gerrib ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 02:30 PM:

Question: What do Ann Coulter and Ozzy Osborne have in common?

Answer: They both do outrageous things to get publicity and thus make money.

Does anybody really think that Ozzy Osborne likes the taste of bats? So why do we think that Ann Coulter really wants to take away her right to vote? All she wants to do is sell books and get TV / radio ratings.

#88 ::: Renee ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 02:42 PM:

Chris Gerrib @87: Exactly. When I first heard this latest quote, my first thought was, "Her book sales must be down."

As for the rest of her comments--well. She's living proof that blonde bimbos *can* spell. Whodathunkit?

#89 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 03:28 PM:

every new outrage
buys me fifteen minutes' more
time on TV screens

#90 ::: Mike Bakula ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 04:15 PM:

Elizabeth @ 47:

Ding! You've got it exactly. As an old role-playing hand, I 've dealt with that type on a number of occasions. The difference here is that in the gaming envronment, you can tweak the context to send them minning and maxing in some direction that's interesting for the other players. I don't know how one would accomplish that in the real world. (Space Race II, maybe?)

#91 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 06:13 PM:

#73: Zeta Psi.

Jon (Risley '81)

#92 ::: vastleft ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 06:32 PM:

An argument against ignore-Coulter policies.

#93 ::: Mr. Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 07:54 PM:

Nick D. @81:

Thanks for the lecture. I would suggest, however, that American liberals (and by present American standards, the term "liberal" seems to be applied to anyone to the left of Dwight Eisenhower) can best show their respect for the principle of self-sufficiency by responding to the arguments that the right wingers actually make, not the arguments they wish they could make. How can the pundits of the far right learn to make their thuggish worldview more appealing if their opponents are always doing their propagandizing for them?

In adddition, the argument you've set forth would hold more water if the Democratic Party actually came out against self-sufficiency. Personally, I'm not aware of any Democratic politician who's come out in favor of low-interest student loans on the basis that they make students dependent on government handouts. From the liberal standpoint, what those loans do is allow lower-income students to compete (for grades, for internships, for jobs) on a more equal footing with their wealthier classmates. Similar arguments can be made regarding health care and child care.

Consequently, it's not obvious at all to me that Coulter's opposition to such programs is based on a desire to inspire others to become self-sufficient; rather it strikes me as a straightforward defence of entrenched privilege.

With that in mind, let's look at Coulter's statement again:

"I mean, you do see it’s the party of women and ‘We’ll pay for health care and tuition and day care — and here, what else can we give you, soccer moms?’"

If I were to summarize that statement by saying "Ann Coulter doesn't says that other women should receive the same level of health care or financial security she enjoys," I'd rightly be accused of distorting her statement into a strawman argument. But saying "Ann Coulter says that other women would benefit by becoming more self-sufficient" is no less a distortion of what she said; it's just that in this case, the statement is mischaracterized to make it more palatable. I don't know if there's a term for this particular rhetorical trick, but for now I'll refer to it as a "brickman argument," in reference to the third little pig's choice of building material.

In short, I'd rather that liberals engage the statements that hatemongers like Coulter make, rather than engaging the lofty principles that you imagine underlie Coulter's statement. In part, this is due to what I said about not wanting to do my opponents' heavy lifting for them.

Another reason for this is because by focusing on the issue of self-sufficiency, you've managed to overlook the operative phrase in the Coulter statement in question, which is that the Democratic party is "the party of women." That's her thesis, argument, and conclusion right there; that's the red meat being thrown to the base. Everything else in that quote is nothing more than a honeytrap to lure Democrats and liberals into a discussion of the finer points of federal health insurance and tuition payments, which will just prove Coulter's point: Look at those Democrats yakking and nitpicking about the tiresome details of single-payer health insurance! What a bunch of women!

So I suppose the big question here is: why should the Democrats keep walking into that particular rhetorical trap? Why can't they point out that Coulter's statements, when taken at face value, cover a range from "vapid" to "repugnant," and use that to marginalize Coulter and her ilk? Arguing policy with Coulter, Limbaugh, Malkin, etc. is of especially dubious use since their function in the reactionary political machine is to villainize Democrats and liberals, not to advocate any coherent set of principles or ideals.

Finally, I feel that I should point out that Coulter has a law degree, appears on television frequently, and has written at least 5 books; she's had more than enough opportunity to articulate her beliefs and arguments. If others find her beliefs repugnant and her arguments unconvincing, it's hardly because Coulter has had insufficient opportunity to articulate them. If her arguments fail to stand on their own, that's evidence of Coulter's own failings as a pundit and thinker, not evidence that her opponents are unwilling to engage serious arguments in favor of conservative policies.

#94 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 08:09 PM:

Well, certainly her comments, while ostensibly about women, most definitely are about men. What she's clearly saying is that any men who vote Democratic are not real men, just wannabe women. And that dovetails perfectly with all the other sexually-oriented rhetoric she and other Republicans use.

Also -- I think it's quite relevant to examine how she plays the sex card directly. She's playing a role -- she looks like a rich bitch, perhaps even a liberal, but she's on "our side". Also, she's an uppity woman, which gives the conservative man a little frisson when she talks about political submission. It's a control issue. Taking the vote from women is power over women is, effectively, rape. It tittilates. Having a blonde and provocatively dressed woman advocate it is like heroin to a junkie.

A lot of Republican politics is all about addictive behavior. I say it again: trust me, I'm from Indiana, I know this at a gut level. The Republican party is a disease.

#95 ::: Nick D. ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 08:42 PM:

@#93: you misinterpret me. I was not recommending debating with Coulter and her ilk that way. Clearly, she is not open to that kind of reasoned argument. I was referring to debate with rational conservatives who are actually capable of of it.

If you go back and read my post, you'll see that what I actually was saying is that the orthodox conservative view on the subject was such and such, and that's what we should dispute, instead of getting into mudslinging matches with nuts like Coulter. I never said we should not call her out as being a demogogue.

"In short, I'd rather that liberals engage the statements that hatemongers like Coulter make, rather than engaging the lofty principles that you imagine underlie Coulter's statement."

Once again, misrepresenting what I said.

"Another reason for this is because by focusing on the issue of self-sufficiency, you've managed to overlook the operative phrase in the Coulter statement in question, which is that the Democratic party is 'the party of women.'"

Thanks for relieving me of my crushing ignorance, but, again, you are totally misrepresenting what I said. That was one example. Please save the fine tooth comb and the invective for the opposition.

#96 ::: Jim Satterfield ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 09:02 PM:

This isn't exactly the first time that a Republican has expressed these opinions.

#97 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 09:26 PM:

"I can't see any good reason to discuss her looks at all. They're irrelevant to the discussion"

Physical appearance is important with media figures; we blind ourselves if we ignore it in analysis. Now, Coulter is a very smart person (graduated with honors from Cornell) as well. As far as I can tell her experience of life is one of privilege, and this includes beauty--she has most likely had boys and men competing for her company since she was a teenager, and one of her problems with feminism is likely that it calls this into question. She appears to believe--and she may be correct in this belief--that she would be a powerful figure in any but the most sexist of societies, vote or no. So women's rights don't matter to her (in fact, may actually be a problem for her), nor does the vote. Privilege, now, matters a great deal. Calling her a bimbo underestimates her--in fact it's quite sexist as well. She's very smart, and very destructive.

#98 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 09:40 PM:

Mr. Chris @ 93 -- if you think Ann Coulter is presenting an argument or presenting policy suggestions, you have already lost. Her positions cannot be addressed -- that's the whole point. You cannot logically address this. You can only paint pictures for the cavemen.

Ah, that's needlessly pejorative, of course. What I should be saying, inclusively, is that there is a caveman in every one of us. And that caveman does his arguing in pictures painted on the wall, inarticulate screams, imprecations to thunder gods, and thrown excrement. If you want to engage American politics, you have to talk to that caveman, because everybody else already understands this. Everybody with a voice, anyway.

If there's any actual failing I see in progressives, it is a failure to understand this. Politics is not a rational game. Ever so often, it manages to wobble towards a rational goal anyway. That's great. In times like that, we should be ready with rational goals. But people don't make these decisions on a rational basis. People make the important decisions on decidedly irrational bases -- questions like, am I afraid of terrorists even if I live in Indiana and do I want strong, violent daddy figures in charge to tell me they're fighting for my right to free speech over there so they won't have to over here? It all dribbles together into a vaguely comforting, vaguely terrifying mush.

Cutting into that with logical arguments about how best to finance public goals is so twentieth. It literally takes the conservative aback -- it is as plain as the nose on his face that you, the now-disenfranchised Democrat, would rather go back to the days of your power, the technocratic people in Washington who wanted to tax and spend and support welfare queens and so on and so forth.

Sure, it makes sense to talk about policy. But maybe you haven't noticed this -- in the public sphere, nobody does. This is because it reeks of history.

I've babbled on long enough. Suffice it to say that listening to this is just like listening to my (European theoretical physicist) wife trying to explain to me yet again that it's not logical to believe in the fundamentalist Christian God. Oh, really? Maybe they've never thought of that!! Or, hey, maybe their belief system has already inoculated them against that form of attack. The same applies to Republicans.

#99 ::: Nick D. ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 09:54 PM:

#97: Randolph, for the record I thought your observation about sexist men being mainpulated by their sexism was spot on accurate.

#100 ::: Vastleft ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 09:58 PM:

Michael Roberts,

Pardon a little more blogwhoring, but you might enjoy "Why you can't reason with a Republican."

#101 ::: Nick D. ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 10:16 PM:

#98: Michael, I'm not sure what you're advocating here. Abandoning logic for screaming and cave painting?

"Sure, it makes sense to talk about policy. But maybe you haven't noticed this -- in the public sphere, nobody does."

Rational debate may be in the ICU, but it ain't dead yet. Absolutes like "nobody" can rarely be shown to be true, and this is an example.

I'm also disappointed and discouraged by the current state of American politics, but I would consider myself a coward if I abandoned my principles in favor of some Realpolitik version of cave painting.

But OK, I agree that much of politics is irrational. Of course people are only rational part of the time. They are also rational part of the time. And anyway, rational debate is only one political tool, I recognize that. But it's one of the best that I know of.

Your dismissal of anyone's approach that isn't your "speaking to the caveman" reminds me of when conservatives patronizingly call me naive, and say I don't know how the world works, when I probably have much wider experience of the world than they do.

And your assertion that all Republicans are irrational is equally patronizing to them. Have you never known a Republican that could think logically?

But wait, I guess I'm giving comfort to the enemy and helping them accomplish their goals. Hmmm...where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, that's how conservatives characterize those who disagree with their foreign policy. I must be a naive, wooly headed traitor to the progressive cause. Yikes!

#102 ::: Vastleft ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 10:41 PM:

Nick D.,

As the GOP has spun completely off its axis, it has become necessary for their loyalists to eschew logical thought.

How can anyone look at the last seven years and support their failed, corrupt, and draconian policies without giving up a goodly part of their capacity for rationality (and morality)?

It seems so uncivil to talk about our fellow citizens this way, but when they rally around torture, shredding of Constitutional protections, rolling back science, completely irrational and counterproductive militarism, and ever-more corrupt reverse Robin Hoodism, perhaps it's time we learned to be a little gauche.

#103 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 05, 2007, 11:04 PM:

Vastleft @ 102... How can anyone look at the last seven years and support their failed, corrupt, and draconian policies without giving up a goodly part of their capacity for rationality (and morality)?

I don't know how they do it either. Believe it or not, they still bring up how to explain to the kids what a blowjob is. Mind you, since the whole sordid affair happened in 1998, I'm sure the kids are now old enough that they figured out what that act is all about.

#104 ::: Nick D. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 12:01 AM:

Vastleft: I am also sick at heart about all those things. I'm not against getting a little gauche, or making waves, or even shocking people. But there are limits, and in the end you just wind up fueling the fire of fanaticism (pardon the alliteration) when you start playing on too low a level. You help make the lunatic fringe the mainstream when you do that, and then they really have won.

#105 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 12:02 AM:

serge #103:

Yeah, so can I complain just a little bit that it's thanks to the Republicans that I have to turn off my car radio in the morning, while driving my son to school, because I don't want him hearing detailed discussions of what torture techniques we're using? I mean, I agree, I don't want to explain blowjobs to him either. But it's not even in the same *league* with torture.

#106 ::: Vastleft ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 12:12 AM:

Nick D.,

I disagree. The story of the failed Democratic Congress and the pliant press is one where people are afraid to call things what they are, because it would be too shrill and to ungenteel to call people murderers, crooks, and incompetent over such peccadilloes as killing people, oozing corruption, and fucking up everything that made America great.

#107 ::: Vastleft ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 12:21 AM:

Oh, and Nick...

They are the ones who have made the lunatic fringe into the mainstream, putting Rush Limbaugh on Armed Forces Radio and Ann Coulter on the bestseller list.

Our job is to drag the Overton Window back where it belongs, and being shy about calling those who have defiled our country "country-defilers" is precisely the opposite of helping making them the mainstream. It is reminding people of what freaks these characters are.

Remember how liberating it was when Franken came out with his "Lying Liars" book? It gave voice to the idea that, no, Fox and Rush and Ann aren't journalism, and their moralizing is pretty fucking far from morality. So, let's shrill it up, bro!

#108 ::: Vastleft ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 12:23 AM:

Excuse me, that should be "not being shy"...

#109 ::: Nick D. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 12:51 AM:

If you're implying that I meant anything like "it would be too shrill and to ungenteel to call people murderers, crooks, and incompetent" then you have completely mischaracterized my argument and I suggest you reread my post. Ditto your other gross exagerations and misrepresentations of my position.

But OK, I'll shrill it up for you:

If you want to whine and complain about how the right doesn't fight fair (boo hoo hoo), while at the same time surrendering the playing field, the agenda, the rulebook, and your own oh-so-easily vacated so-called principles to them at the first utterance of a hurtful (sob!) word, or the first loss of a policy battle, then you need to grow up and learn how to play with the big boys and stop crying like a little girl who's been pushed down in the mud by a (sniffle) big (sob) mean ol' fascist meanie.

And then realize that you are not fit to govern, either.

How's that?

#110 ::: John S. Quarterman ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 01:02 AM:

Coulter's function is to push the Overton Window as far as possible by saying outrageous things. So when self-styled moderates try to split the difference between "liberals" and "conservatives" they end up still farther to the reactionary right.

That and to rally the base by getting their attention with sexual titillation and engaging them with the same outrageous statements.

'Flame them with language couched in liberal terms like "You don't care about the welfare of children" and they won't even hear you, because they will rightly preceive that you are not disputing their argument on the terms they have presented it.'

It's pointless to try to get Coulter to hear you; she's not listening. Counter her, yes, so people can't so easily claim she's right because nobody denied what she said. But spending a lot of time on that just reinforces her points by bringing them up again.

If you must counter them, continue each counter with what you are *for*. Coulter is for taking the vote away from women. Democrats are for everyone voting, and more real men do vote for the Democratic party than for any other, probably because they're for fiscal responsibility, educating people so they can decide how to vote, health care so they'll live long enough to, protecting the environment so they'll have a place worth living, and a rational defense so we only fight when we need to instead of pissing away the money we need for education, health care, and the environment.

That way we engage our own base and push the Overton Window in a healthy direction.

#111 ::: Vastleft ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 01:22 AM:

Nick D.,

I'm taking issue with two arguments in your recent comments.

1. "And your assertion that all Republicans are irrational is equally patronizing to them."

The track record of the Bush era is such that only someone drunk on tribal loyalty (or tragically uninformed, or just plain rotten) could defend his administration and the rubberstamp Republican Congress (and increasingly, the accommodationist Democratic Congress) that has enabled him. Today's GOP has long-since qualified for no-quarter rhetorical treatment. In its present form, it is a completely valueless organization. The notion that it can be spoken of in any respectful way is IMHO a dangerous mirage.

2. "But there are limits, and in the end you just wind up fueling the fire of fanaticism (pardon the alliteration) when you start playing on too low a level. You help make the lunatic fringe the mainstream when you do that, and then they really have won."

I am buffaloed by the implication that outspoken lefties are in someway abetting the far right. Some argue that rhyming with "Petraeus" was beyond the pale and a fatal mistake for the left -- is that the sort of fire-fueling you mean? The fact is that there is virtually no visible far left in this country. The Overton Window sits in Rush's studio, the way the Repubs like it. Just consider the farce it is that Hillary Clinton is commonly portrayed as the polarizing "too liberal" candidate. In what theater does this going too far or too low take place? Seriously, I don't know what you mean.

#112 ::: Nick D. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 01:26 AM:

Notice I said "Flame them." Them. Not "Coulter."

I repeat: Not. Coulter.

OK, once again in case that wasn't clear, or you missed it the first twenty times I said it: NOT! COULTER!

Please people, try to read and understand my post before you respond to it.

#113 ::: Nick D. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 01:28 AM:

Oh, uh, that was addressed to John S. Quarterman, BTW.

#114 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 01:44 AM:

ethan @ 71

Point taken. But I'd be even more reluctant to compare Coulter to Göbels; as I said, she's a pawn, not a prime-mover. Whatever else you want to call Göbels*, he was not a pawn.

* It is, IMO, impossible to call him enough names for him to be sufficiently villified.

#115 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 01:44 AM:

Nick D @ 95: "Please save the fine tooth comb and the invective for the opposition"

@ 95 also: "Thanks for relieving me of my crushing ignorance, but, again, you are totally misrepresenting what I said."

@ 101: "But wait, I guess I'm giving comfort to the enemy and helping them accomplish their goals. Hmmm...where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, that's how conservatives characterize those who disagree with their foreign policy. I must be a naive, wooly headed traitor to the progressive cause. Yikes!"

@ 109: "If you want to whine and complain about how the right doesn't fight fair (boo hoo hoo), while at the same time surrendering the playing field, the agenda, the rulebook, and your own oh-so-easily vacated so-called principles to them at the first utterance of a hurtful (sob!) word, or the first loss of a policy battle, then you need to grow up and learn how to play with the big boys and stop crying like a little girl who's been pushed down in the mud by a (sniffle) big (sob) mean ol' fascist meanie."

Which of these is not like the other?

#116 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 01:47 AM:

Serge @ 103

One tactic is simply to wait as the Republicans discover that their kids already know what a blowjob is and have been giving them to each other for some time now. And then wait just a little bit longer as they discover that the changes to American society they hate so much haven't been a pendulum swing; many of them are permanent, as least relative to their lifespans.

#117 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 01:47 AM:

Coulter and Sen Craig belong locked in a lavatory together...

Oh look what can the matter
Coulter and Craig they are locked in the lavatory
They should be there from Sunday 'til Saturday
Tell everyone they are there.

The first day Ann Coulter
Mistaken for male was there
Larry Craig tapdanced
And let down his hair for her
Ann Coulter said she'd forgotten her Nair
Therefore, everyone knew they were three.

[refrain]

The second day Ann Coulter
Called for a haidresser
Blonde needs attention
And some new confessor
I'd rather it were someone
Who would depress her
For everyone knew she is there.

[refrain]

The third day Fux News did arrive
For an interview
Claimed that the Democratics
Plotten them all to sue
Said Hillary Clinton
Had plotted the whole thing through
Tell everyone they were there.

[refrain]

The fourth day when Larry Craig
Called up his lawyer,
Said he;d mistaken a stall for the foyer
Ann Coulter he said
Was a victim of voyeurs
Who wanted to see they were there.

[refrain]

The fifth day Bill Mahr
Found his good friend Ann missing,
He'd had it with all of the talk
That was dissing
Ann Coulter accused
Of bisexual kissing
And everyone knew they were ther.

[refrain]

The sixth day was wearing
Though not very fancy
And Senator Craig
With those ants in has pantsies,
The two them seem
To practice necromancy
And all the dead know they are there

[refrain]

The last day Karl Rove
Had arrived to rescue them
A quite rare confusion
Mistaking butch and fem,
They bendered their gender
More skewed than some old pulp BEM
Who knew who could have been here?

Oh look what can the matter
Coulter and Craig
They are locked in the lavatory
They were there from Sunday 'til Saturday
That was years less than deserved!

#118 ::: Nick D. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 01:49 AM:

Vastleft:

Per #1: I believe that George Bush has demonstrated the courage of his convictions (that America is a democracy in a world in which democracies are imperilled, and that decisive action needs to be taken, as we took in WWII), and that the Congress has voted their conscience and their well-considered opinions in backing him. And by the way, the Democrats in Congress have rubberstamped all of those same decisions, from going to war in Iraq to granting indemnity to the telecommunications companies that executed his illegal wiretapping.

See? It's not so hard. Surely there's ONE Republican out there who debates like that, without calling liberals faggots? Hmmm? I don't even believe any of that, and I can construct a reasonable argument, even when exhausted from arguing with people who share my values.

2) "I am buffaloed by the implication that outspoken lefties are in someway abetting the far right."

Sorry, never said or implied that. Please reread my posts.

"Just consider the farce it is that Hillary Clinton is commonly portrayed as the polarizing "too liberal" candidate."

You may find that farcical, but it's the reality on the ground in our very conservative, not to say reactionary country. Hillary is not radical, but when the mainstream is right of center, that's what she is to them. Time to face the fact that we're not living in a liberal think tank here. You agree with that, right?

"In what theater does this going too far or too low take place? Seriously, I don't know what you mean."

Any liberal reaction that is equivalent to what Coulter and Rush Limbaugh spew out is what I mean. If you think that there is no liberal equivallent, and that such liberal spewing is merely hypothetical, then you have grasped the thrust of my position. I.e., if Democratic politicians exhibited the same hysterical, offensive-to-anyone-who-has-a-sense-of-decency quality that so many commenters here have shown, then they will have revealed themselves to not have the discipline needed to win any struggle, let alone a political struggle against determined enemies who have the upper hand.

#119 ::: Nick D. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 01:54 AM:

@#115: "Which of these is not like the other?"

Congrats, you have demonstrated that you are unable to detect subtleties like satire or sarcasm, or playing devil's advocate. Should I refer you to a good course on rhetorical technique, so that you can learn to distinguish someone demonstrating an idea from someone stating their position? Vastleft had no trouble getting the gist.

#120 ::: Nick D. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 02:00 AM:

PS @#115: do you have anything to add to the discussion, or are you just going to quote me to me? Seriously, I'd love to hear what you have to say.

#121 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 02:07 AM:

I find it odd that Nick D. and Vastleft had never posted anything here before they showed up in this thread. I don't mean to say that you need an established posting history to be a valid member of this community, not by any means, but when two people show up out of nowhere and start yelling at one another and at others, it feels weird.

#122 ::: Nick D. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 02:15 AM:

"I find it odd that Nick D. and Vastleft had never posted anything here before they showed up in this thread. I don't mean to say that you need an established posting history to be a valid member of this community, not by any means, but when two people show up out of nowhere and start yelling at one another and at others, it feels weird."

Who's yelling? In my opinion, Vastleft has made the most intelligent arguments of anyone with whom I've interacted.

What can I say to the fact that you feel weird? It's a public forum, it's not invitation only.

If it makes you feel better, I got onto this site through bOING bOING, where Theresa Nielsen-Hayden is the moderator, and whose work there I've enjoyed immensely.

I have to go to sleep now. Ciao.

#123 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 02:16 AM:

ethan@121

Having been out most of the day, and having now read the thread in one fell swoop, I too detect that phenomenon. Its not unlike a Punch and Judy show, although less edifying.

#124 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 02:21 AM:

Nick D., VastLeft -- I see y'all are recent arrivals here. So far you've only posted in this one thread.

Tell me: is this a continuation of a long-standing flamewar y'all were already having somewhere else, or was your near-simultaneous arrival and apparent lack of other interests merely happy coincidence?

#125 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 02:25 AM:

Nick D. @ 119: "Congrats, you have demonstrated that you are unable to detect subtleties like satire or sarcasm, or playing devil's advocate. Should I refer you to a good course on rhetorical technique, so that you can learn to distinguish someone demonstrating an idea from someone stating their position? Vastleft had no trouble getting the gist."

Interestingly, neither satire nor sarcasm makes insulting behavior less inappropriate. Accusing your opponents of treating you like an idiot is many things, but none of them subtle. Accusing them of calling you a traitor is, likewise, rather obvious. Saying that anyone who does not agree with you one hundred percent needs to take a rhetoric course, as you have done multiple times, is simply stupid: if your readers repeatedly don't understand you, it's your fault.

I'd keep going, but I'm pretty sure you're troll, trotting merrily towards banishment. Toodles!

#126 ::: Nick D. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 02:26 AM:

Jim,

Happy coincidence. I've never talked with anyone here before. I posted a comment, people replied, and we were off.

#127 ::: Nick D. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 02:37 AM:

Oops, I sense I have been a bad guest here at Making Light. My apologies to anyone I may have offended in over-strenuously making my case. If I'm not welcome, I won't visit again.

Sincerely,
Nick D.

#128 ::: Mr. Chris ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 02:39 AM:

#98:

I never said that pundits like Coulter are presenting policy suggestions; as I suggested earlier, that's not their purpose. I tend to agree with David Neiwert's assertion that they function to transmit the ideas of the lunatic fringe into the mainstream. In addition, they work to silence liberals and progressives by painting them as idiots, dupes, or villains.

This is not to say that they don't present arguments, even if those arguments are typically as simplistic as "Democrats are effeminate wimps who'll let the terrorists kill us all." The problem is that while it's a lousy argument, it's not one that can be safely ignored; ignoring the argument just reinforces the image of Democrat-as-wimp.

@95:

Why should we ("we" being liberals, presumably) bother to engage the orthodox conservative view on anything these days? Orthodox conservatives aren't agitating for war with Iran, aren't advocating torture, and aren't dismantling the federal government. Unfortunately, they also aren't doing much of anything to uphold the principles of individual freedom or fiscal conservatism, either; they've been increasingly marginalized in the Republican party since the 90's.

In short, I don't think orthodox conservatives are currently a powerful enough force in American politics to be worth worrying about; I'm more worried about the people who actually hold the lion's share of power in this country and seem hell-bent on dismantling the rule of law.

In general:

I don't know how productive it is to try and rationally engage American conservatives in principled debate when the American right finances a well-oiled noise machine dedicated to shouting down the opposition. It's awfully hard to conduct a reasonable discussion when there's some lunatic shrieking "TRAITOR!" into your ear every time you open your mouth.

The fact that so many conservatives have sat by for so long allowing the Coulters of the world to engage in this behavior also makes me question their good faith. If they're willing to engage in genuine debate over ideas and principles, why don't they make more effort to keep their fellow right-wingers from shouting down any real discussion.

I think it's dangerous to try and ignore the Coulters and Limbaughs because as long as they continue to get airtime, they'll continue to shut down real discussion in their own self-aggrandizing way. So far as I'm concerned, the left needs to bring the rhetorical hammer down on the hatemongers' heads at every opportunity until they're recognized as the fringe nutcases they are, and repudiated by mainstream America. Once that happens, maybe we can start moving the Overton Window as Vastleft suggests at #107. I'm just not sure how feasible it is to enact liberal political changes if we continue to allow the reactionary fringe to maintain a dominant voice in our political discourse.

#129 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 02:41 AM:

Are there new candidates for disemvowelling?

#130 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 03:05 AM:

Mr. Chris @ 93: Brickman argument. That's an excellent way of putting it--I'll remember that. It's a problem I see a lot too, especially with those damn liberal hawks: "Well, but see, if they invaded Iraq just the way I suggest, it'd work out great! So let's roll!" Nevermind that they AREN'T invading Iraq the way the liberals would want.

The biggest problem I see with pursuing brickman argumentation like Nick D. suggests we do is that we've already had those arguments. We won. That's why they're making the cheap rhetorical attacks--in substantive argument we sweep the floor with them. We won the reproductive choice argument on the merits decades ago, yet it's still a huge issue. Why? Because they've been screaming every disingenuous "What about the BAY-BEES?" argument at the top of their lungs, and using the nastiest ad hominem "Dirty sluts!" attacks they can imagine. You can't argue with the supposed underlying basis, because it's bullshit all the way down. Remember: these are the people who dispute evolution.


But you can't ignore it either, because that just lets them spread their views unopposed. It has to be called out, as bullshit, at every opportunity. If we don't, their audience will assume that liberals have been caught dead to rights, and don't have any counter-argument. Sure, they're terrible arguments that they're making. They aren't designed to be good--they're designed to sound good. Which means the counter has to sound good too, as well as be devastatingly accurate.

#131 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 03:07 AM:

Nick D. @ 119

Congrats, you have demonstrated that you are unable to detect subtleties like satire or sarcasm,

I think you need to learn how to make such subtleties evident in a medium neither designed for nor especially suited to expressing them. In other words, don't blame others for not getting it, especially when you've been rather obnoxious in making your points to start with.

Please back up and reduce the level of rancor in your posts. You're not going to get people to agree with you by beating them over the head.

#132 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 03:24 AM:

Heresiarch, Mr. Chris

In my estimation you are correct that rational argument is not what's needed to counteract the necon babble. I think you're also correct that we can't afford to just ignore it and hope it will go away; it won't. Unfortunately, I also think that both the babblecasters like Limbaugh and Coulter and their audiences are not, and will not be, listening to us or anyone else who doesn't say precisely what they want to hear. We're not going to be able to confuse them with any facts; they've already made up their minds.

Which leaves us precisely where? Whatever strategy we take up, two outcomes are necessary: 1) it must be made clear that the dittoheads are really in the minority; that most citizens and voters of this country do not* fall for the BS they're spouting, and 2) Democrats, especially those in political office at the state and federal level must be convinced that they can't duck the issues by sitting back and letting the Republicans do a pratfall on their own; the Dems have to start taking action in support of their positions, or be exposed as hypocrites interested only in political advantage.

* at least, not anymore.

#133 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 03:33 AM:

I was searching for a rhyme for Coulter, intending to commit limerick on her, when I discovered the definition of the word "coulter": a sharp steel wedge that precedes the plow. Good description.

#134 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 04:33 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 132: Debates like this are never really about convincing the other side, no more than a Presidential debate will end with one saying, "Huh, you're right. I never thought about it like that." The goal is to convince those in the middle, those who are undecided. (It can also serve to arm your supporters with eloquent and cutting arguments to use on their own.) To be sure, I don't expect to convince any die-hard Limbaugh fans to support gay marriage.

But there is nonetheless a huge middle who can be convinced. The neo-cons have parlayed their rhetorical ruthlessness into almost complete dominance of the common wisdom. As a result anyone who forms their opinions based on main-stream media will, unwittingly, agree with them.

This is a fragile dominance, though. Their power is dependent on fooling an awful lot of people all the time, and sooner or later, people start to catch on. And when they do, they're lost to the neo-cons forever. No one likes being fooled.

They're trying to shoot the moon: if they make it, they make it forever, bootheel grinding into a human face and all. But if they don't, they're utterly, utterly fucked.

@ 133: Wow. That pretty well sums it up, doesn't it?

#135 ::: citizen905 ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 05:03 AM:

The antidote for this kind of crap is not rational discourse.

The only response Coulter and her ilk deserve is contempt. No whining. No complaining. No long-winded analysis and deconstruction. Just the simple, unmistakable contempt for an inferior.

You might worry that it will alienate the heartland, that it will reinforce the "flyover" stereotype, but it only hurts us as long as they continue to identify with the members of noise machine. As long as you're clear about whom the contempt is directed, eventually people will stop identifying with them, and start sharing your contempt of them. People will identify with whomever they perceive as stronger.

I mean, for God's sake, she just called all women stupid, so the last thing you should be concerned with is alienating the squares. The only response it deserves "only a stupid women would listen to a freak like Ann Coulter". That's it. Anything more and you're giving her credibility where none exists.

Her "message" doesn't matter, because her message has never been more complex than "I'm a submissive woman who, nonetheless, liberals are afraid of". Pretending she is making a cogent point in all that inflammatory babble is acting afraid of her. If you want to debate conservatives, save it for someone who merits it.

#136 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 07:16 AM:

albatross @ 105... I don't want to explain blowjobs to him either. But it's not even in the same *league* with torture.

This shows that our side has the wrong morality standards. Had they invited me to join the discussion, I might have pointed out that there are worse things in life than oral sex (all the while trying to keep my sarcasm subroutine at a low setting). But, not being part of that group, I thought it better to just stay out of the deliberations.

#137 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 07:55 AM:

Bruce Cohen @ 116... Maybe they forgot that kids will discover some things about sex on their own, or if they spend time with other kids, or if they peek at the Playboy mags of adults who live under the same roof. No President need be involved in that learning process.

#138 ::: Vastleft ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 09:47 AM:

I hope those savvy enough to recognize the obvious subterfuge of two strangers interacting in a popular thread are paying attention to the big conspiracy out there.

Nick, my secret comrade,

I did re-read your post, and my point stands. Whether it's intentional or not, your position resembles that of the concern troll, wringing your hands over the virtually non-existent problem of over-zealous American lefties.

#139 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 10:13 AM:

I have to admit, I find the "they're all wingnuts, rational argument is pointless, let's just be shrill and nutty back" sort of argument pretty unconvincing.

I think the genius of the right in the last couple decades is the idea of a culture war--the idea that the left and right have fundamentally different cultures and values, and can't resolve their differences rationally. This lets them largely sidestep facts and real debatable issues, in favor of us/them rhetoric. "Are you with us or against us?" "This is a clash of cultures between the Christian West and the Muslim East."

I think propogandists smile when they see a debate turning into an issue of identity (are you one of us or one of them?), or an irreconcileable moral disagreement. Because logical argument then won't apply.

This is good politics, but it's really, really bad for the country. When it's all about identity, when there's no room for loyal opposition, bad things seem inevitable for the country.

#140 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 10:55 AM:

Nick D. #109: And then realize that you are not fit to govern, either.

Under my benevolent administration as Dear Leader For Life, government would be fully funded (including the wiping out of the principal of the national debt) solely by the Soylent Red National Patriotic Recycling Program. The Neocon Greed gene cluster would be eradicated within a generation.

#141 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 11:23 AM:

Nick D. @ 109
And then realize that you are not fit to govern, either.

Go read the last page or so of John Dean's latest book, where he's quoting (anonymously, for good reasons) an old friend. It's much more to the point than what you've said in this sentence.

#142 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 11:32 AM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers), you mean something like:

The worst thing about Ann Coulter
isn't that she's such a dolt; her
hand is too long,
her words are so wrong,
and it looks like a snake tried to moult her.

#143 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 11:38 AM:

Nick D @ 109... learn how to play with the big boys and stop crying like a little girl

I suddenly find myself reminded of the recent discussion of the equivalence between testicles and courage.

#144 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 12:14 PM:

Nick D. is one of the better posters at Boing Boing. Vastleft is a blogger at Corrente. Citizen905 is a mysterious newbie.

Nick D., of course you're welcome here. Perhaps you didn't realize that the person you were arguing with was also making his first appearance on Making Light, and that your one-on-one argument made an odd impression.

Vastleft: Hello there! What brings you over from Corrente?

Citizen905 (135), I cannot agree with your advice. It gives people no way to come home again after they've fallen into believing Coulter and her lot.

We would do a great deal of damage by alienating the midcontinental states and making them feel that we didn't care about alienating them. The same goes for expecting them to fall into line with our opinions if we aren't giving them arguments and analyses about why they should do so.

The only option you'd give them is capitulation as to a superior. The ones you want won't do it. The ones who are content not to think or understand have already found a home.

You may hold Ms. Coulter in contempt, but we can't make good government by holding our fellow-citizens in contempt.

#145 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 12:16 PM:

Fragano (142), I just read that one aloud to Patrick.

#146 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 12:35 PM:

Fragano #142

That's a good one - may I quote that on another blog on the Houston Chronicle site?

#147 ::: Vastleft ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 12:59 PM:

Teresa, thanks for the welcome!

I found this post via a link on Avedon's Sideshow.

I'm quite exercised about a theme that's been hovering over some of the comments: the implication that liberals need to stop being so shrill, and that we are somehow to blame for the cesspool that is modern political discourse.

What motivated my first comment here is a variation on that theme: the ever-popular standing argument that we shouldn't dare heap scorn on the Ann Coulters because that's just what they want.

Did the conservatives wring their little right wings about whether to trump up MoveOn's Petraeus-rhyming into the Greatest National Affront since 9/11? Not hardly.

A similar back-to-the-closet panic has been going on in atheist circles, where many skeptics are offering a heaping helping of STFU to their so-called "militant" brethren.

So, if I'm a little "pouncy," it's because it's loud and proud that moves the Overton Window, not being afraid of our own shadow and falling back on courtly customs long-since trashed-and-burned by our "moral values party" betters.

Anyway, nice and lively community you got here, and sorry if my interloping has weirded out anybody or frightened the horses.

#148 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 01:17 PM:

TNH #145: Thanks. I hope he laughed.

#149 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 01:19 PM:

Steve C #146: Certainly; with proper attribution. I'm flattered.

#150 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 01:23 PM:

Serge @ 143

the equivalence between testicles and courage

Being tickled by a white feather makes them both operational?

#151 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 01:40 PM:

Fragano Ledgister @ 142

The very thing, if I hadn't been sidetracked by discovering the meaning of the word.

Ann Coulter, a neocon shill,
parrots words that have made us all ill.
Her fans think her sexy
but a girl can't be Prexy;
she's accepted as long as she's shrill.

#152 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 01:43 PM:

You know, I think there's room for both approaches (i.e., rational analysis, and extreme statements). The key, to me, is that word "we." As long as there's the belief that "the left" has to be a monolithic entity, with nobody ever being allowed to say anything that the quietest, most risk-averse members could not support, the Overton Window of accepted public discourse is sure to keep on moving to the right.

To put it plainly, you need to have some people out there advocating, say, the total confiscation of all monies gained through war profiteering -- naming names, and listing dollar amounts to be taken back for the US Treasury. Sure, the screams from the privileged will be audible in Mozambique, but it gets the idea out there. It's "outrageous" -- but people start to think that, hmm, maybe war profiteering is a problem we should be doing something about.

Next you need others coming along to say, no, total confiscation is really going too far; we should just fine them heavily to teach them a lesson. Those people will sound more reasonable because they're more "moderate" than the first group.

Because the public is focusing on the evils of war profiteering, the downside of seeming to be soft on war profiteers will start to weigh more heavily. There's now a chance of persuading even the most purchasable of legislators to pass some tougher laws against ripping off the US taxpayer under cover of war.

At the very least, you may gain actual enforcement of existing laws. That's an improvement.

So, strategically, you may well disagree in public with the "extremists" on your side, but you should still be grateful for their existence; they are making your own very sensible position much more likely to gain a hearing.

#153 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 02:41 PM:

Useful definition of the Overton Window from the place of its origin.

Because some of us aren't quite as au courant as others.

#154 ::: Jim Satterfield ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 02:57 PM:

The culture war meme only has validity if you look at the extremes. The extreme religious right that truly believes not only in outlawing abortion, but sexual references in media, contraceptives and anything else that their particular brand of religion disapproves of really is a different cultural mind set than those who think that freedom of religion includes freedom from religion. But how large is that extreme? I think that their power is disproportionate to their actual numbers because of their influence in Republican politics.

#155 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 03:00 PM:

Linkmeister #153: Because some of us aren't quite as au courant as others.

"au coulterant"? Does that work? heh.

#156 ::: Vastleft ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 03:18 PM:

Jim,

It is the GOP's embrace of its extremist base that deeply differentiates it from the Democratic Party, yes? Much -- if not most -- of the latter runs in fear from even its moderate-progressive elements.

The racist, homophobic, warmongering Bible thumper is the GOP's mascot. In contrast, there is no Fidel McEarthshoe anywhere who has the Democrat's ear.

#157 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 03:31 PM:

Bruce Cohen @ 150... I wouldn't know as no feather ever touched either.

#158 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 03:37 PM:

Sylvia Li @ 152... True. It does not have to be one or the other.

#159 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 03:50 PM:

Earl @ #155, Arrgh!

(I was going to use akamai but thought that was too Hawaiian for general recognition.)

#160 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 04:06 PM:

Vastleft @156

George Soros seems to be the new boogeyman, judging from some blog postings I've read elsewhere. A wealthy man supporting the left? How dare he?

#161 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 04:17 PM:

Steve C @ 160... Well, not only is Soros Jewish, but he is also a financier.

#162 ::: vastleft ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 05:09 PM:

Steve C.,

Precisely. A party that's crawling with Henry Potters and Montgomery Burnses freaking out because there's one progressive industrialist helping the Dems.

So, instantly, he becomes the Marxist devil, just like the compulsively centrist Hillary Clinton is.

Yet the equivalation memes tell us that both sides are equally extreme.

There's one Village-approved direction for Dems to move in. When the GOP loses any power, the Dems need to move to the right to be bipartisan. When the GOP has total power, the Dems need to move to the right to grudgingly qualify as patriots of a lesser god. It's good to be the GOP, ain't it?

#163 ::: Cat ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 05:24 PM:

So....Real Men (TM) don't need health care or education? Good to know.

#164 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 05:33 PM:

Cat @ 163... What doesn't kill me makes me stronger, although I'm not sure what Nietzsche had to say about hammers hitting kneecaps.

#165 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 07:05 PM:

Serge @ 164

What doesn't kill me likes to keep me around to play with later.

#166 ::: Vastleft ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 07:12 PM:

Bruce @ 165

What doesn't kill me isn't as delicious as what does.

#167 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 07:18 PM:

I dunno, I still feel a bit queasy about Hillary Clinton's alleged complicity in the Travelgate scandal. I guess I have the unreasonable expectation that people who actually want to be politicians can never be trusted to not violate the public trust. I'm ready to be disappointed.

#168 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 07:36 PM:

What doesn't bill me makes me richer.

#169 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 08:02 PM:

What doesn't fill me makes me hungrier.

#170 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 08:10 PM:

What doesn't thrill me makes me hornier.

#171 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 08:20 PM:

What doesn't trill me makes chirpier.

#172 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 08:24 PM:

What doesn't spill on me leaves me cleaner.

#173 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 09:09 PM:

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) #151: Nice! Fortunately, I wasn't drinking anything when I read that.

#174 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 09:12 PM:

What doesn't krill me makes me prawnier...

#176 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 09:18 PM:

What shills me makes it Coulter.

#177 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 10:36 PM:

What doesn't grill me has to eat em raw.

#178 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 10:48 PM:

"Conservatives become indignant when you question their patriotism, but simultaneously work overtime to give fascists a cushion for the next attack and laugh at dumb Americans who love their country and don't hate the enemy." -- Bizzaro Htrae Ann Coulter

#179 ::: Jim Satterfield ::: (view all by) ::: October 06, 2007, 10:56 PM:

Vastleft @ 168

Yes, I do agree that in spite of those who claim otherwise it is the Republican party that is for all practical purposes run by their extremists. The claim that the culture war is widespread is inaccurate and proposed only in an attempt by the extremists of the right to make themselves seem to represent more of the country than they do. But they do succeed in scaring some people who don't agree with them on everything into being afraid of a "boogeyman" version of the other side.

#180 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 01:19 AM:

Bruce @ 133: That was brought up in relation to the character called Mrs Coulter in the Open thread 85 discussion of the film of The Golden Compass.

#181 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 07:09 AM:

Nick D. @ 127: So you are in fact a real person! I apologize for calling you a troll @ 125, and since a real person is worth effort that a troll is not, I'll try to explain what made me think you were one.

There are two things you do over and over on this thread. Put together, they are the very epitome of trollishness. There's this perfect little microcosm of them right here (from 95): "Thanks for relieving me of my crushing ignorance, but, again, you are totally misrepresenting what I said. That was one example. Please save the fine tooth comb and the invective for the opposition." First, you insult the person who disagreed with you, both by calling them patronizing and by accusing them of misunderstanding your point. Then, in the next breath, you state that you find both pointed critique and insults inappropriate. This is the hallmark of the troll: eagerness to dish it out, and intense outrage when on the receiving end.

Now, I don't know if you know this, but the regulars here at ML are all pretty smart people, who've all devoted a considerable chunk of our lives to reading and writing. We're not rhetorically illiterate. Quite the opposite really; we take a great deal of pride in our skill with language. So when you accuse us of being unable or unwilling to understand what you've written, that is a very profound sort of insult. And you did it over and over: almost every time anyone had the temerity to disagree with you, you countered by saying that they must be too stupid or too uneducated to understand.* Examples:

@ 95 (to Mr. Chris): "If you go back and read my post, you'll see that what I actually was saying is that..... Once again, misrepresenting what I said."

@ 109 (to Vastleft): "you have completely mischaracterized my argument and I suggest you reread my post. Ditto your other gross exagerations and misrepresentations of my position."

@ 112 (to John S. Quarterman): "OK, once again in case that wasn't clear, or you missed it the first twenty times I said it: NOT! COULTER! Please people, try to read and understand my post before you respond to it."

@ 119 (to me): "Should I refer you to a good course on rhetorical technique, so that you can learn to distinguish someone demonstrating an idea from someone stating their position?"

It seems to be your first, knee-jerk reaction when anyone disagrees with you: an ad hominem attack against your critic's intelligence and education.** Can you see why that might make you come across like a troll?

Now for the second part, where you simultaneously declare yourself immune to any criticism and rule insults (which, as I have shown, you are busy flinging) out of bounds. Now, your hypocrisy regarding what exactly counts as invective and who gets to throw it is irritating, but it's this aversion of yours to fine-toothed combs that gets to me. Maybe I'm weird, but I think fine-toothed combs are exactly what you should be using on your allies' arguments. Your enemies deserve no more time or effort than it requires to render their arguments into smoking rubble; effort beyond that is an unearned gift. It's the arguments of friends that truly deserve in-depth, thoughtful commentaries. For your friend's arguments are ones that you want to make better and stronger, and construction is a much more difficult task than destruction.

But you're not interested in helping anyone develop their ideas, and you're not interested in being helped. From all evidence, you're here to tell us what you think and why you're right, and to hell with anyone who might think otherwise. Or, at least, that's what you sound like.

*Instead of say, trying to explain it again in other words, clarify our misunderstandings, or in any way engage in discussion (being as it is a two-way communication). I don't assume that everyone is going to understand everything I write perfectly, and when they don't, I don't assume that they are at fault. I assume I am, and work to clarify what was misunderstood. I don't hector them for their poor reading comprehension. This is the internet, for chrissakes, not a graduate seminar on Kant.
**It may not feel like an ad hominem to you, but I assure you it feels like one on this end. The interesting thing about rhetoric is, if you give a rousing, passionate and well-reasoned speech, and your audience wanders off unimpressed, the fault does not lie with them. When you fail to communicate, it's your fault.

#182 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 07:25 AM:

Epacris @ 180... The evil Nicole Kidman, aka Mrs. Coulter, coming to a theater near you on December 7...

#183 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 09:22 AM:

#111 VastLeft:

Calling the Republicans on what they've got wrong is a good thing, I completely agree with that. Shrill or not is a matter of style, because you can be non-shrill while very clearly stating that turning the US into a police state that disappears and tortures its enemies is a bad idea, and shrill while arguing about fine details of the inheritance tax or bankruptcy law.

But some of the response to comments here about Coulter involved sexual innuendoes or smears or sexual innuendoes. We ought not to resort to that, because it doesn't further our values. It combines the message that we don't like Ann Coulter with the message that when you disagree with someone, made-up allegations about their sex life are fair game. Or maybe that women ought to shut the hell up, and let the men do the talking.

More fundamentally, if you want people to believe you have some principles, you need to stick to them even when they help people you don't like. If it's shitty to smear Hillary with sexual imagery and innuendoes, then it's just as shitty to do that to Ann Coulter.

#184 ::: Vastleft ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 10:16 AM:

@183 albatross

I wasn't advocating ad hominem low-blows. I was making the following two points (links repeated below):

1. The pressure on bloggers *not* to cover the sins of the Coulters is ill-considered. We very much should document how sick the rightwing agenda is.

2. We need to stop the equivalation, the pretense that modern American politics is a gentlemanly tug-of-war between equally defensible or (equally indefensible) extremes. We should call the GOP's extreme behavior and bankrupt policies what they are, and it's more than alright to express anger about the defiling of the Constitution, the Treasury, and America's good name, and about the brutality unleashed abroad and the gleeful neglect at home.

#185 ::: Phil Armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 10:16 AM:

David Neiwert (and friends) over at Orcinus has been deconstructing this use of crypto-fascist frame-defining language by right-wing pundits for a number of years now. Well worth a trawl through his previous posts on the issue. See, for instance, his extended essay "The rise of Psuedo-Fascism" [PDF].

#186 ::: Phil Armstrong ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 10:18 AM:

I really don't seem to be able to type straight. Sigh: "Pseudo Fascism" obviously.

#187 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 10:21 AM:

Phil Armstrong @ 186... Too many consecutive consonants will cause catastrophic misspelling.

#188 ::: Vastleft ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 10:31 AM:

@187 Serge

Re: "Too many consecutive consonants will cause catastrophic misspelling."

Archchronicler, catchphrase, eschscholtzia, latchstring, lengthsman, and postphthisic each have six consonants in a row. Borschts has six consonants in a row in just one syllable. Words with five consecutive consonants include angstrom, angsts, birthplace, dumbstruck, eighths, heartthrob, lengths, postscript, strengths, thumbscrew, twelfths, warmths, and witchcraft.

http://www.rinkworks.com/words/oddities.shtml

#189 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 10:40 AM:

Vastleft @ 188... "No! Not the postphthisic ray!"

I wonder how many of those words our President would misspell. And can he spell 'misspell'?

#190 ::: Vastleft ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 10:51 AM:

Serge @ 189

You can call me "Postphthisic Ray." You can call me "Postphthisic Ray J." You can call me "Postphthisic Ray J. Johnson...."

#191 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 11:03 AM:

Vastleft @ 190... Not Phlogiston Johnson?

#192 ::: Vastleft ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 11:42 AM:

Serge @191

Friends call me "Phlo Jo."

#193 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 01:14 PM:

Serge #191:

Ooohhh, that name burns me up!

#194 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 01:43 PM:

Nick D., #99: thank you.

Hereisarch, #181: It's very frustrating to be rewritten by your readers, and then slammed for the rewriting. If I had a penny for every time I've written "I never said that", "Yes, but that's not what I said", the exasperated "Did I say that? Anywhere?", and similar things, I'd have a few dollars, at least. Often the dynamics of unmoderated groups lead to a pile-on, following that.

Albatross, #183: if we don't address sexual psychology in politics, we've pretty much lost before we started. (Please don't task me with advocating submission--of anyone--as a solution to these problems. I did not say that, and I did not imply it.) A huge component of human aggression is masculinity doubt. Coulter is taking advantage of that motivation, providing reassurance and support and understanding that seems to me necessary to respond. On the other hand, the adulation accorded the extraordinarily attractive shapes her behavior, and that is also important information.

This is really too big a subject for this little note. Thinking it over, I am struck by how little I have seen this subject addressed in net.discussion. It may be an intuitive recognition of how difficult it is to discuss. On the other hand, I rather suspect squeamishness.

#195 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 01:51 PM:

Albatross @ 193... Steven Spielberg's Phlogiston Johnson, two-fisted scientist, will be back in Phlogiston Johnson and the Atomic Skull's Dirigible of Doom.

#196 ::: Vastleft ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 02:05 PM:

Randolph @ 194

Also, I'll admit I found speculation about Coulter being a transsexual somewhat risible, given her bigotry about gender roles.

In addition to the women-shouldn't-vote thing and calling John Edwards a "faggot," she's said that...

... accepting gays makes the Episcopal Church not religious
... she supports banning gays from being scout leaders
... "I think we have a long way to go with censorship when we have 'Will and Grace' on TV"
... if she had a gay son, she'd tell him he was adopted
... she not only opposes gay marriage but said of the New York Times' posting of gay unions "it looks like a parody out of The Onion. Will they be showing them, you know, in full regalia getting dressed? Will we know which one is keeping his last name? I mean I just think it's not doing a service to gays. I think it makes them look ridiculous."

#197 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 02:23 PM:

Pick a quarrel, go to war
Leave the hero in the bar.
Hunt the lion, climb the peak.
No one guesses you are weak.

(W. H. Auden)

Just ran across this last night and it seemed apropos, somehow.

#198 ::: Mickle ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 05:08 PM:
Well, certainly her comments, while ostensibly about women, most definitely are about men. What she's clearly saying is that any men who vote Democratic are not real men, just wannabe women.

Isn't that rather like pretending the civil war was about states rights?

I mean, sure, replace the gendered insults with "dirty" and you can reasonably say that the focus is on the person you are calling dirty rather than the dirt itself, but the dynamic is a little different when you are insulting someone by saying that they are like someone else. In such instances, I'd say it's pretty fair to say that at minimum, the remarks are about both the person being insulted and the person being used as an insult.

At best her comment is an ignorant example of heteronormativity. At worst, she is trying to conquer and divide by making a statement that is supposedly about one group, but is really an underhanded insult to another.

I say it's both.

#199 ::: Heresiarch ::: (view all by) ::: October 07, 2007, 10:21 PM:

Randolph Fritz @ 194: "It's very frustrating to be rewritten by your readers, and then slammed for the rewriting."

I agree--it's happened to me too. But the correct response to that is not "you don't get it, YOU IDIOT" it's "you didn't understand me, and let me try to explain what I mean again." There are two big differences there.

#200 ::: mythago ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2007, 10:32 AM:

If it's shitty to smear Hillary with sexual imagery and innuendoes, then it's just as shitty to do that to Ann Coulter.

Hillary doesn't sell herself as "listen to me because I'm blonde and wear a miniskirt". That's been Coulter's schtick since law school.

Of course that doesn't mean any sexist/sexual comment is fair game, or that it's perfectly OK to attack any conservative woman based on her looks. But I admit I don't understand the notion that if Coulter pitches I'm-right-because-you-want-me that it's a bad thing to say "No, not so much. Ew."

#201 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: October 08, 2007, 08:12 PM:

Ann Coulter isn't the reincarnation of the female pilot who never flew without makeup to put on before she got out of the cockpit, and who, when she found out she was over the age limit for astronaut candidates, stood up in front of Congress saying women shouldn't be astronauts--the reason being she was a vicious Queen Bee, is she>
Jacqueline Cochrane, that was her name.

#202 ::: poopy pants ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2007, 01:12 AM:

George Gurley from the NYO always kisses Coulter's ass at the drop of a hat. Here is the url to a disgusting interview he had with Catherine Deneuve. Read to the end (2nd item), and then realize that the best one can do is ignore this ignoramous and everything he writes. (http://www.observer.com/2005/bottle-racket)

#203 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: October 09, 2007, 11:57 AM:

Randolph #194:

I've been thinking about this idea of masculinity doubt as a core of aggression. It's interesting to me that it can be triggered by both men and women, but in different ways. And that there's both an internal doubt (am I a real man?) and an external doubt (am I seen as a real man?). Both are pretty effective. There's also a sort of indirect form of this, where people want to believe they're led by or protected by real men.

I suspect many of the overt tough talking policies of Bush and company come from the need to reassure everyone that there are some Real Men in charge, protecting them. The actual protection doesn't look all that great, but the chest-thumping is impressive as hell. Similarly, I wonder whether there's any noticeable impact on citizen safety (say probability of being victimized or killed) when some local police force makes up a swat team and gets badass-looking military style gear. I'm guessing there's no effect, and that if there is an effect, it's negative (more SWAT team members->less safety on the streets).

I'll bet someone has done some research on this. It makes me think of the scene in Friday, where fur nccyvrq sbe n frphevgl thneq wbo ba n fuvc, naq jnf gbyq gung gurl jnagrq ovt oheyl zra, gb vagvzvqngr crbcyr vagb abg fgnegvat gebhoyr va gur svefg cynpr. (Vg jnf pyrne ng guvf cbvag gung Sevqnl pbhyq unir xvpxrq n tevmmyl orne'f nff nebhaq gur ebbz.)

The closest I've seen is that some guy had done some research on bouncers, and how they diffused most situations without a fight, largely by being pretty intimidating.

I also wonder how much of this stuff came down in our embedded programming, all the way back to when our ancestors lived in trees. (Like much legacy code, it's buggy, all but impossible to patch, and there are active exploits out there.)

#204 ::: Steve C. ::: (view all by) ::: October 11, 2007, 02:26 PM:

She just does not stop. Now she's saying that Jews should be "perfected" by accepting the New Testament.


Couter interview report

#205 ::: Dave G ::: (view all by) ::: October 22, 2007, 10:29 AM:

Dms r fgs ? th lst dmcrt t gt cght n sx scndl ws wth wmn hw bt th rpblcns? lt m s wth mn, wth mn n th bthrm HH! Ppl wh lv n glss hss shld nt thrw stns

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