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One mo’ Steyn…

I hate beating a dead horse (unless its wife and children are tied up and forced to watch) but since my Mark Steyn post set the world on fire I thought I’d expand my comments a bit on the state of conservatism and Mark Steyn’s place in it. I was attracted to Steyn as my subject because I have traditionally cut a break to Goldwater-era conservatives, like Buckley, Will and even Cal Thomas, respecting them as the elder statesman of a movement that once had an intellectual component to it. Those men could hold up their end of the conversation without flecking their opponents faces with spittle. And so, owing to Mark Steyn’s moderate tempo and his affected English accent, I was fully prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. But the more I listened the more he sounded to me like any modern conservative, just slowed down and with a bit more cheer. He solidified my opinion of conservatism as a movement in retreat, mowed down by its own rage like a soldier on the beach in Saving Private Ryan, trying to stuff its entrails back into its torso for one more run at the enemy. All that’s left for “happy warriors” like Steyn to do now is cash in on a few more book sales and lectures. The summit of their mission will never be reached, and I think Steyn’s breed understands this. What Steyn has done is let the cat out of the bag about what is happening within conservative thought; the malaise, equivalent to liberalism’s own, that can no longer be concealed with the red-hot rhetoric of the recent past. For example, who these days, left or right, can find a double standard in their enemy that they do not themselves ascribe to? Given the abject bitterness of today’s politcs, Steyn strikes me as too smart not to realize the emptiness of  feigning incredulity at what liberals will stoop to. But though it clearly bores him, he is still opportunistic enough to give it a go. So here is Steyn in a Q&A contrasting the merits of conservative “civility” vis-a´-vis liberals. As usual, we see the scales falling backwards, attaching themselves to Steyn’s eyes with some sort of Super Glue. He upbraids Bill Mahrer for calling Sarah Palin a nasty name, saying “It is a very bizarre world in which…calling Sarah Palin the C-word is the height of wit (…) Generally speaking I’m a kind of believer in civility, but I think that the right shouldn’t get its knickers in a twist by making a virtue of not playing by the left’s rules.” Now, I agree that CUNT! CUNT!! CUNT!!! should be doled out with an eyedropper (save it for Ann Romney, not also-rans like Palin), but this is classic conservative double-think, like trying to bluff while your cards are facing your opponent. The idea that the right wing is constrained by Victorian manners is moth-eaten camouflage these days. Is Rush not calling women sluts with near impunity? Does O’Reilly not feel secure in waving his balls in the President’s face during interviews? And Anne Coulter’s routine of trotting out words like “fag” and “pussy” to bait liberals is now so old hat that if she were to post a YouTube video where she’d tied Al Gore to a chair and proceeded to shove Bullet Ants up his urethra we would merely roll our eyes. And yet Steyn and his cohorts perpetually claim that the right plays by “different rules”. It’s all part of conservatism’s tedious strategy to portray themselves as the babysoft underdogs, barely hanging on by their fingernails no matter how many governors mansions or houses of Congress they hold. Now conservatives are in genuine retreat, not in numbers, but in ideas. Books like Steyn’s–dire warnings of a future without a muscular America–have accidentally hit the target. But how has the Hyperpower come to this? Conservatism can’t help owning its share of the blame; their ideas simply did not work when they were given their best chance to succeed. In conservative hands, America’s economy became the plaything of the free market and would now resemble Somalia’s if not for overwhelming government interference, the thing conservatives were pledged to prevent. And the economy still has not righted itself despite as much genuflecting to Wall Street as any president has ever done. Meanwhile, our bicep-flexing wars against Islam, the longest wars in American history, have left the entire nation in a tepid mood. Finally, no one believes anymore that Republicans didn’t inflate the debt as much as Democrats. So we must ask: what is left in the conservative’s bag of tricks? “Culture trumps economics everytime, everytime,” Steyn tells us, repeating the popular righty talking point that the Sons of Flyover Country need to storm Hollyweird. Yet why do they only advance one hostile howler monkey after another in this cause? “Culture” was the war cry of the late conservative firebrand Andrew Breitbart as well. He also thought that conservatism’s mission ought to be creating more right wing sitcoms, but his brief career as political bad boy was ultimately reduced to a viral video of him shaking his fist at a clutch of Occupy protestors. You can see why Democrats are glad for Bill Clinton. For all his faults, “It’s the economy, stupid” was the revelation that conservatives still ignore while they gradually push out a plutocratic turd as their nominee for president. This kind of tone-deafness is endemic amongst conservatism today. Scott Walker is facing a recall election that should have been impossible if contempt for labor was what Republicans believe it to be. The fact of the matter is, you can throw as many copies of Atlas Shrugged at the public as you want: the majority of people in this country still punch a clock. They don’t rub elbows with corporate titans like Wisconsin’s governor does. And when those powerhouses are funding a national drive to shrink pensions so that they don’t have to pay an excise tax on their quail eggs, sooner or later the People are going to remember what brought unions into existence in the first place. Rather than address the blowback from conservatism’s successes, the likes of Steyn would rather keep us jumping at the threat of jihadists even while Islam’s Second Prophet has a family of fiddler crabs nesting in his chest cavity. When 9/11 popped the right wing’s “End of History” prediction, conservatives began madly trying to resurrect America’s Cold War spirit with a muslim face. The problem is, the Cold War was all about sexual tension: decades of agonized frisson with the Soviet Union leading them to finally succumb to capitalism’s wiles. But  we have been engaged in a hot war with our new enemy for over a decade. All that fucking wears you down! Working Americans aren’t interested in manufactured threats from the Canadian Islamic Congress any more than they care what Alec Baldwin thinks about driftnet fishing. And while Steyn may not know what the country’s real concerns are, he knows what sells books and fills lecture halls: it’s Jud Muhammed! And so we get more duplicity as Mark Steyn fills us with fears of Sharia law being written into the Constitution. Yes, a Muslim shot Jews (and  non-Jews) in Toulouse, France. It may be religiously motivated, and deserves our disgust and a clear-eyed look at the motives behind it. But is Steyn seriously suggesting that White Christendom doesn’t have troubles in their own camp? Hey, here’s a hate crime for you. Here, have another! And another! And I hope you saved room for dessert! As conservatism struggles to walk back the consequences of their own triumphs–the sub-prime bubble, the wholesale transfer of the democratic process to the monied elites, games without frontiers and war without tears–book tour conservatives are left with nothing but peevish, nativist humbug to stir up the crowds. Public intellectualism like Steyn’s is just a racket. He can’t advance real answers to the real issues because he doesn’t even know what people who work for a living are looking down the barrel of. Here’s a clue: It’s the austerity, stupid.


  1. Legion

    That’s because things like “truth” and “observed reality” have literally no meaning whatsoever to modern conservatives. In a world where the Republican Party can systematically push anti-abortion, anti-healthcare & anti-sex-ed laws in very state in the country, attempt to get contraception outlawed, and repeal equal-pay laws while _at_the_very_same_time_ claiming there is now GOP”War on Women” AND claiming the real anti-women policies are Obama’s are just the most current evidence that these people are clinically insane and cannot be reasoned with.

    They don’t care about finding an actual solution to any problem – they just want to “beat” someone else in what they see as just another game. Even if the only thing they win is a giant dung ball, they’ll kill your children to get it.

  2. Cid Durand

    Thank you Jason for the e-mail to invite me back here. I know it’s prob. an auto, but hey! As I read your post, only one think comes to my mind. Maybe because I’m getting old, maybe because I’m not sure how much time I have left. The last spoken line of A Canticle for Leibowitcz. “Sic Trans Mundus”. I am not Catholic, I am not a Republican or Democrat. I am not a Liberal or Conservative. I just want to live. I lost my house, and live with my folks. Health was never the best, but I’ve accepted that. In fact, your comment “It’s the austerity” left me thinking what my granddad said before he passed. “Live within your means.” Oh how so true. Thanks for the comic, hope to see more of your works!

  3. Mike

    So, did you just call Ann Romney a cunt?

    I think Steyn has a point about the civility.

  4. Brandi

    None of the conservative women mentioned deserve to be called cunts.

    Since when have they ever displayed anything like warmth, depth, or charm?

  5. Jody

    You’re uncivil because you brought up the word cunt in a discussion about civility, whereas Mr. Limbaugh was merely expressing a desire to see his tax dollars at work when he demanded videos of Sandra Fluke having sex. Or when he called Chelsea Clinton the White House dog. And all the rest of the bilge he’s been spewing for thirty years.

    Yeah. Lots of parity there, yessir…

    Have I made myself clear? What do you think, Captcha?

    “Whetina clear”, sir.

  6. Hitching Post

    Off-topic post, sort of, except that it is about another foul-mouthed right-wing tool, C. Hitchens.

    I know you admired him, JY, and I understand that. Many of us who are old and admired his writing before he became Bush Jr.’s little puppy dog feel differently.


    The only reason I am posting this link here is because I admire your work and think you might at least find the link article interesting.

  7. Tim Willard

    They talk about civility and manners, yet their biggest supporters aren’t dapper gentlemen sitting about tea houses grumbling about the latest doings of the poors.

    It’s that loud mouthed fat guy with the American flag all over his truck, yelling about darkies and Aye-Rahbs in Denny’s, who’ll cheerfully tell you to “burn all dem faggots and lie-berals and edumacated peoples” if you give him a chance.

    Not content with getting the conservative Christian vote, they’ve gone out and managed to get the same people they’re busy screwing over to vote for them.

    When the party actively courts bigotry, intolerance, racism, and anti-intellectualism, they are not a party for the future of any nation, they’re the party of has-beens, only capable of causing damage as they go through their death throes, destroying what they no longer understand.

    Conservative Republicanism is a T-Rex that managed to shoot itself in the head.

  8. TeamAmerica

    The free market is bad? Go to AmericanRhetoric.org and hear JFK’s speech to the New York Economics club citing the success of Eisenhower’s tax cuts as a model for his own proposed cuts. Reagan referred to JFK’s tax cuts as an inspiration for his. All three presidents presided over multiple years of economic growth. Leaving more resources for the free market is a proven formula for growth.

  9. TeamAmerica

    Tim Willard – Here’s a reality check. When Sen. Lieberman announed he was running as an Independent, the ‘liberal,’ ‘progressive’ Huffington Post was full of anti-semitic comments. You may also Google OWS anti-semitism. I.e. the left has no shortage of bigots.

    JY: I’ll make you a deal. For every one authentically anti-Semitic remark caught on tape or print by someone legitimately associated with the Occupy movement, I will provide three bigoted remarks from the Tea Party. Ante up!

  10. Malachi42

    Lenny Bruce you are not JaSon. We all ignore our fellow americans. The proof is, do you know what our current corporate puppet was discussing down there. Talk amongst yourselves, I’m booking tickets to Cartegena before the exchange rate changes, that girl was well worth $800. $800 in Nevada would get you my ex with a bottle of Boones Farm.

  11. celtthedog

    Thanks for your email.
    Alas, reading this post persuades me you haven’t actually read Steyn’s book or much of anything he writes. When it comes to economics, Steyn won’t shut up. And he does connect culture, however wildly, to economics.
    As for civility, well that’s been in short supply since the late 1960s IMHO
    Finally, commentators from both the left (Zakaria, Luce) to the Right (Steyn, Buchannan) are all saying America is on a seriously wrong path and consequently in decline.
    Bugger Steyn — this is the real problem this country faces.

  12. Tim Willard

    “Tim Willard – Here’s a reality check. When Sen. Lieberman announed he was running as an Independent, the ‘liberal,’ ‘progressive’ Huffington Post was full of anti-semitic comments. You may also Google OWS anti-semitism. I.e. the left has no shortage of bigots.”

    Google “Alabama” or “Texas” or “South Carolina” for any type of bigotry and tell me what you see.

    When FauxNews blatantly LIES on camera, in their ticker-tape, host bigots, and the Republican Party gets down on their bended knee, not to kiss the ring, but to slobber all over the cock of racist and regressive “conservative Christian” organizations and notable personages, they show they aren’t worried about the Constitution (Which the Bush Era spent 8 years raping and then wiping their dick on) or moving America forward, they’re more interested in returning America to a fake 1950’s that never existed.

    When a certifiable moron like Sarah Palin does all but stand on the podium and shriek that Obama can’t be the president because he’s black, and the Republican party not only has instances of bigotry but seems to revel in it, roll around in it like a dog in a rotting carcass. When they hide their bigotry behind religious rhetoric and racial scare mongering, it becomes less something that sadly exists within the party and quickly becomes one of the touchstones, the foundations of the party.

    You point out some anti-semetic remarks, but how about the entrenched racism, classism, sexism, religious discrimination, and hatred for free speech that seems to be the backbone of the modern Republican Party. Combine that with the sheer hypocrisy that runs rampant in a party that has become known for lying, back room deals, and its willingness to screw over the American citizenry just for the chance to wrap their bloated wrinkled aging lips around the throbbing cock of special interest groups and corporations and you have a party that represents less of America and more of the rich and powerful.

    A political party that has managed to convince the very people they victimized the most that the Republican Party is those same people’s only chance to keep America from being overrun by the darkies.

    And stop holding up Grandpa Reagan. We all KNOW that the last years of his presidency he was in charge of little more than toys and brightly colored string. In the meantime he ran up the national deficit, traded arms, unleashed the CIA in an orgy of unrestrained assholery not seen since Vietnam, ignored national infrastructure repairs, violated the SALT Treaties, proclaimed ketchup to be a vegetable for school lunches, and on and on.

    The economy under Reagan was artificially punched up by the rape and destruction of the American corporate infrastructure and the rise of stockholder boardroom deals.

    Unchecked Free Market is bad. You want to see unrestrained Free Market? Check out Somalia. I’m not talking about government controlled economy, but I am saying that Wall Street broke the law, knew they were going to melt down the economy, and did it anyway. The excessive greed of the 80’s ripped apart American corporations and merged them together in massive conglomerations that manufacture in nations with the loosest laws while enjoying American tax breaks.

    It isn’t free market in America. It’s government funded corporate welfare in the form of tax breaks, recognizing Corporations as people, legal protections, bought and paid for Senators, and the stripping of consumer protections.

    Whipping out Grandpa Ronnie doesn’t impress me.

    Captcha: the takepart

  13. Holms

    I notice TeamAmerica’s retort to the accusation of Replublican bigotry was something like “but so do liberals!” as if that somehow excuses conservative conduct. What I take from this attempt at defense is that even their own membership knows there is no point trying to deny the rampant racism & etc. within conservatism.

  14. Tim Willard


    There isn’t any denying it any more.

    Which is why I’m not a Republican any more.

  15. TeamAmerica

    Sheesh! Where to start? Backroom deals? You mean the ‘Cornhusker Kickback,’ etc.
    ‘Faux news’ NBC deliberately edited Zimmerman’s 911 call to make him sound racist.
    The right is narrow-minded? The Phila. Inquirer, a liberal paper, was thrilled during the 90s when liberal Rebecca Rimmel took over the leadership of the Pew Trust. Who does Pew’s research show is actually intolerant. Read for yourself: http://ricochet.com/main-feed/Liberals-Intolerance-and-Facebook
    Repubs serve special interests? Who did Wall St. give 70% of their political contributions to in 2008? Uh, yeah, the Obamessiah. Remember the Pres. campaign promises? Close Gitmo, no lobbyists in White House etc. Obama is more humane of course. Bush water-boarded terrorists. Obama skips the interrogation phase and merely incinerates ‘em.
    As for Reagan, in 1981 1 million African-American households earned $50K per year. When he left office, it was 2 million. Wanna bet that Obama will ever be able to make a similar boast?

    JY: I will let the tone of the responses to my original Steyn post (“leftist crank sophistry”, “leftist junk”, “what a load of BS”) serve as my response to what the Pew poll allegedly reveals about the hateful left. As for Gitmo and the drone strikes, hey, no argument here. But let’s not forget who it was in Congress that forbade any transfer of prisoners from Gitmo to our unbreachable Supermax prisons: the party of torture.

  16. TeamAmerica

    JY \I’ll make you a deal. For every one authentically anti-Semitic remark caught on tape or print by someone legitimately associated with the Occupy movement, I will provide three bigoted remarks from the Tea Party. Ante up!\

    My desktop has died, a new one is in the works, but till next week am using a slow 7-ear old laptop. So I will try to ante up next week.
    All of you have a good weekend in spite of yourselves!

  17. Kenny

    If you ain’t pissed, you ain’t paying attention. As a politically moderate thinker I find both sides to be full of shit but the “Right” definitely has an unspoken but noticeable racist streak, along with socio-economic elitism that they try to hide by appealing to the lowest common denominator. The “Right”(helluva misnomer, that) as it’s defined today is the result of needing something to be mad at. Lacking that, they’ll find something. And once this whole War of Terror(All apologies to Borat) wears down, they’ll make a new monster. How else can you justify all that fearmongering? Hell, the Cold War was a wet dream for the “Right.” Such an epic feargasm of paranoia and witchhunting and hatred of civil rights made a great dry run for the GOP of today. If not for the likes of Joe McCarthy, the GOP might never have found a way to rule with fear. Of course combining that with the plutocracy that has defined your average politician, it seems a bit silly to hear them talk of how they feel the pain of the working man, the “Joe six-pack” type they beat to death during the ’08 election. Bullshit. How can any of these people who grew up and lived their adult lives in privilege even DARE to throw that line out? the worst they can say is “Well I had to let 3 of my ten household staff go because of the economy.”

    Should I get started on the whole tax issue? So much in favor of making the rich richer. There’s no problem with having a profit motive, but the rich seem to think paying taxes at all is a total burden and how dare people expect them to pay their fair share?

    Also thanks to the vitriol in this blog, my bylounda returned, according to Captcha.

  18. Jorpho

    Working American’s aren’t interested

    I really don’t mind these political pieces – they are hardly without entertainment value – but if you’re going to keep doing this, you ought to get one of Mr. Notely’s fine posters on the use of the apostrophe.

    Because, as Captcha says, correct grammar knows no enimity jecticsy.

    JY: It’s called a “newpostrophe” and it’s what all the kids are using these days, you square (er, hexagon).

  19. TeamAmerica

    The joys of Occupy Wall Street in action (I’ll let it speak for itself):

  20. TeamAmerica

    Speaking truth to power at the Fed, and predicting the results of the combined Fed easy money policy and Obama’s reckless spending:
    (Should’ve put this in my last comment)

  21. Jody

    All it takes is a coupla assholes to wreck the rep of an entire grassroots movement. And one asshole to latch on to it.

    Still waitin’ on those anti-Semitic remarks, Teemie. Or you just gonna keep shouting “Look! Over there!”? :)

  22. TeamAmerica

    When I get my new pc (Mon. or Tues.) I’ll locate some. For now, I’m using a 7 year-ld laptop that is agonizingly slow. In the meantime more spot-on Mark Steyn: http://www.nationalreview.com/blogs/print/299092

  23. TeamAmerica

    And some Dr. Sowell: http://www.ocregister.com/opinion/obama-352729-jobs-political.html

  24. TeamAmerica

    Not from the OWS, but still a fine example of lefty ‘tolerance’-http://ricochet.com/main-feed/Tolerance-And-Diversity-At-The-Academy

  25. TeamAmerica

    In this case, I think both Carville and Prof. Rahe make some good points, and I’d honestly like to see what you and your readers think. I think the election is ‘Mittens’ to win or lose, although I suspect even if he wins he’ll be a disappointment, kind of like Sarkozy tilting back and forth based on the most recent focus group and polling results. Anyway, here ’tis: http://ricochet.com/main-feed/Reading-the-Tea-Leaves

    JY: The election is Romney’s “to win or lose”? You’re kind of hedging your bet! I think the campaign is going to be hilarious.

  26. TeamAmerica

    One last example of Prof. Sowell’s brilliance as he discusses his new book:

  27. Jody

    Wow, Jason. You gotcherself a stalker. And we’re still waiting on those remarks. Funny how a slow computer prevents him from finding them but not from obsessively posting, wouldn’t you say? :)

    Oh, and Captcha tells me this thread is bursting with ensanal power.

  28. Mark

    I must say that I am VERY excited to see the upcoming TeamAmerica v. JY showdown.

    My two cents on the issue: every group will have people on the fringe who make everyone else look bad. Bill Mahrer calls Palin a cunt. Rush Limbaugh does any number of awful things. One significant difference, however, is the extent to which these fringe groups control the party. The tea party was able to bring in a whole crop of ultra-right wing Congressmen whose devotion to undermining their commander in chief led them to almost shut down the government several times (and don’t claim that it wasn’t politics; how else do you describe their opposition to the extension of the payroll tax cut right after they railroaded an extension of tax cuts for the super-rich?). The left, however, has not moved incredibly far. After all, Obama still bailed out the banks and the auto companies; hard to say that he’s an OWS controlled puppet after that. I suppose that the next Congressional elections could see a wave of OWS-endorsed liberal politicians (because apparently being concerned that the USA has a Gini coefficient more in line with the Middle East than with Europe is a purely liberal thing), but I doubt it.

    That said, JY’s original rant against Steyn shows us that vitriol is alive and well in the ranks of the left. JY supporters should at least admit that. But it does not excuse the rudeness of the right, either. JY hit it on the head when he wrote: “who these days, left or right, can find a double standard in their enemy that they do not themselves ascribe to?” The bright side: people on both the left and right are fully capable of also being well-reasoned and rational. JY’s revised Steyn rant shows us that much: it discusses issues of the renewed focus on social conservatism as well as the failures of conservative economic theories, all with much less harsh language than before. And I’m sure Steyn’s pieces generally have some well-thought out ideas as well.

    Long story short: although I do look forward to seeing TeamAmerica and JY face off to see who can gather more dirt on the other’s political allies, we should also remember that the other party is mostly made of people, not monsters.

    JY: I suspect TeamAmerica is not busily running around gathering evidence, and in any event, I am confident that a search of YouTube would allow me to match him point for point.

    I would not characterize what I said about Steyn as a “rant”, however ranty it comes across, since I do respond to specific points within his argument. I would call it a polemic.

  29. TeamAmerica

    I’m not busily running around etc? Okay, for instance-
    Look at the video and the comments-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l3Y9CARUwio
    More to come

  30. TeamAmerica

    The results of lefty vs. conservative policies and leadership at the state level:

  31. TeamAmerica

    A non-partisan post for your enjoyment ( The video’s context is that Corey Booker, a reformist Dem. mayor of Newark, and a likely future rival of reformist N.J. Repub. gov. Chris Christie, joined with him to make this video. It shows that they both have a sense of humor. Booker recently entered a burning house to rescue its occupants)

  32. JY

    A few rude comments in an agonizingly edited video is hardly dispositive, and you’ll note that their is no attribution for any of the hate-mongering alleged in the linked article by Israel’s ever-paranoid Night’s Watch.

    However, since you did manage to find proof of someone, perhaps intermingling with Occupy, picking on a guy in a yatmulke, I guess I do owe you three nuggets of Tea Party bigotry.

    -Of course, the Birther conspiracy was naked racism, substituting a mash-up of knee jerk xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiments for just straight-up calling the President a coon, so here’s ur-Tea Bagger Michelle Bachmann advancing that hoax. (By the way, even as of this week there are elected conservative assholes still humping the legs of Birthers. Let. It. Go.

    -Want some shades of Selma? Here’s a particularly egregious example of anti-muslim bigotry from the Tea Party at their peak. Remember: all those people that are being commanded to “Go Back Home?” American citizens.

    -And let’s not forget that they hate teh gays, too!

    Game, Set and Match, mein freund. Feel free to comment on my future political posts, but I am calling it quits on this thread.

  33. TeamAmerica

    Was Mayor Booker water-boarded by Obama?

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