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The Political Animal

How Fast, So Furious, the Grim-faced Libertarian Falls in the Forest

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Lost amid the attention to the Supreme Court’s decision upholding the Affordable Care Act was the House vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress – the first sitting cabinet member to be so cited in the history of the United States. Maliciously partisan Republicans went ahead with this vote on Thursday even though the previous day Katherine Eban had published in Fortune a Pulitzer Prize worthy expose of the gross media misreportage and congressional misrepresentation of the facts of the Fast and Furious ATF program. Holder has been cited for contempt because of his responses to a congressional investigation of a federal law enforcement scandal that is a fiction. Your tax dollars at work, frugally wasted by the GOP.

Just the Friday before on Bill Maher’s Real Time, as I discussed in Pride of a Partisan, libertarian lion Nick Gillespie had grimly chastised Rachel Maddow and other liberals for claiming that the Fast and Furious hearings were now primarily motivated by conservative conspiratorial craziness: lunacy postulating that the non-existent program to sell firearms to Mexican drug cartels was intended to frighten the populace with rampant gun sales and deaths that would then better support an Obamian campaign to restrict Second Amendment gun rights. (One experiences a minor loss of mental stability simply describing this convolution of mind.) More, the cranky libertarian insisted, there were clearly signs of wrongdoing that justified the Fast and Furious investigation. Gillespie made these claims with a humorless yet insouciant aplomb, like Pierrot juggling: see how I toss the softboileds lazily over my shoulder, dip at the knees, glance back sadly and extend my hand. See the egg all over my face.

It is not that often that the confirming stink of having talked shit is wafted so rapidly into the general atmosphere, but in this case Gillespie went full potty on a Television City sound stage.

Moving from Congress to cranky to creepy, readers may have noticed the first comment to my post of a few days ago, Massacre of the Cheyenne. Reilly and Rob, who responded to him, and all others, may be interested to know that this is the same ill-delivered correspondent who has been writing me for nearly a year now. I wrote about him twice before, in Anti-semitism, the Ur Hatred and Anatomy of an Anti-Semite. He has moved from calling me first, “Jew hack” to, in multiple expunged comments, “Judenrat”, to, now, “kikey little fart academic.” (I really despise being belittled as an academic.) David, here, continually conceives new names, email addresses and mock websites via which to evade junk comment moderation. Occasionally, as in this instance, when he went for the known and overt anti-Semitic insult, I think it valuable to expose him to public scrutiny.

In David’s apparent earlier semblances, he has hated by the name of Ross Vachon, a claimant, previously, to a marginal Hollywood career in which Vachon also hung tight to Native American actor connections. Ross Vachon, dear readers, is a voice over journeyman who wrote long ago for Counter Punch, and whose greatest claim to ignominy is having provided narrative voice, along with Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Ken Loach, and Mairead Maguire to the film version of Goldstone Facts, supporting the notoriously biased, poorly investigated and since repudiated report of Richard Goldstone on the Gaza conflict of 2008-09. From such twisted antagonism to Jewish nationalism is sponsored unavoidably the utterance of the Ross Vachons, who will protest and deny their race-hating contortions of humanhood until, at last, “kikey” erupts from the throat like an alien head bursting out of its hosted entrails.

I’m done.

AJA

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The Political Animal

Pride of a Partisan

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As much as some people might be apt to choke on the mere thought of it, ahead of the very thing itself, the central node of American political tendencies was to be found this past Friday, June 23, 2012 in a studio at Television City, in California, on Bill Maher’s Real Time.

What? you say.

Maher’s guests panelists were the cable news liberal heroine of the day, Rachel Maddow, a suitably wealthy media magnate and mainstream business Republican, in Mort Zuckerman, and, in Nick Gillespie, the editorial force behind Reason magazine and Reason.com, the show’s just as representative cranky libertarian. Not a half wit or lightweight among ‘em.

Guess who played the horse fly that keeps landing on your arm no matter how many times you swat it away? The cranky.

Gillespie offered the best show of grim-faced and relentless argumentative boring-in since Christopher Hitchens left the scene, though with none of the dexterous wit for which libertarians are less known than a good disgruntled piss.

Maddow generally comports herself during such encounters with calm and deft argumentative assurance, but while she did not perform poorly this night, she was not at her best. She properly understood, under Gillespie’s focused attack, that the best defense begins in not standing on defensive ground, by not accepting the defensive role, but she failed to execute the reversal. She failed to disarm Gillespie, as neither she nor anyone else on the panel identified the hollow point at the head of Gillespie’s thrust – the accusation of partisanship.

Gillespie accused Maher and especially Maddow of being partisans and challenged them to name a Republican they would support. While Maddow did not agree to argue on these terms and thus to respond to the challenge, she was left appearing as if – as is likely true – she could not, in fact, name a Republican she could support and was accordingly, for whatever it might be worth, probably guilty of Gillespie’s claimed failing.

But what kind of failing is it?

Gillespie is the author of Declaration of Independents, and were the title’s homonym play the homonym and not the play he would have been forming an argument with legs to stand on. But as the world, or the U.S. portion of it anyway, turns, exactly what point of intellectual pride is discoverable, today more than ever, in standing as an independent?

From the twentieth century on, particularly since Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic and Republican parties have represented, within the framework of capitalist liberal democracy, clearly distinct philosophies of government and conceptions of society. Not since the Civil War era’s reversed polarities of liberalism and conservatism, on the subject of slavery and states’ rights, in very different parties from today, have those differences been more stark. Once, only a few decades ago, a Democrat faced with an uninspired candidate from his own party might have been comforted in turning to a big business, but social liberal Republican such as Nelson Rockefeller or Jacob Javits or John Lindsay. Maybe she could vote for John Anderson running as an independent in 1980. Maybe such a Democrat today would hope for such a Republican to support against a Blue Dog Democrat like Max Baucus or Ben Nelson or Kent Conrad. That hope now leads only to a museum of natural history.

Yes, “partisan,” in its negative denotation indicates a deterioration to “blind, prejudiced, and unreasoning allegiance.” But it begins in allegiance to a cause and its principles. The Italian Partisans against the Nazi occupation and Mussolini were not cheap political hacks; they staked their lives on their beliefs. To be a liberal partisan – and a conservative one, too – can properly mean that one espouses a developed and coherent political philosophy, promotes a deeply considered vision of government and society, one that, of course, entails that a vote for someone not adhering to that philosophy is unthinkable. What virtue is it exactly, in today’s America – standing between these two magnetic poles of social geography – to claim to be an independent, other than to say one is forgivably unschooled or unforgivably uninterested in the world one inhabits?

Gillespie, who played the forest boor throughout the show, was in reality himself no nonpartisan. He sang the anthem’s lyric, but the melody was all anti-government, a philosophy that could reasonably draw no liberal. Zuckerman was left unusually quiet and looking frequently bemused. He even, in contrast to the cranky extremism, defended supermarket ingredient labeling against Gillespie’s blithe satisfaction that consumers be left instead to research the information between daycare and the second job.

In defending, in the end, fracking against the well-versed criticisms of actor Mark Ruffalo, Gillespie revealed his own partisanship, genuine and misguided enough to be judged by it. The more unregulated the free market and the weaker the government in law, the stronger the corporations in fact. But the voice of individual liberty that is the libertarian’s quaking before government power remains without tremor in the face of corporate supremacy. The government leviathan in law produces nightmares of slavery. The corporate monster in fact does not trouble his sleep.

That is the upshot of Gillespie’s philosophy, and he’s sticking to it. Like a good partisan.

AJA

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