Re: We mourn the passing of Wm F Buckley

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One.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 10:45 AM
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Ahem.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 10:45 AM
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Dang. I was really hoping the next person would say "And a second."


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 10:46 AM
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To Jesus' link, I must add:

And they collapsed into each other's arms in silence, with animated sobs coming from deep in Caroline's throat. Blackford drew out and in a voice kind, but gently stern and mocking, he whispered to her:
"Courtesy of the United States, ma'am.""

Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 10:56 AM
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Animated sobs?


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:02 AM
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4: Christ, I forgot that part. I was a teenage virgin when I read that book, but I still knew enough to wince in embarrassment for Buckley at that scene.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:03 AM
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Nah, Buckley made me smile, and sometimes laugh out loud. I spent a lot of time watching Firing Line in the 60s, and Buckley was the place on TV to see Galbraith, Harrington, Vidal, so many others. Even better than Charlie Rose. Buckley was almost always kind & polite and welcoming to his guests, friendly across ideologies.

And he changed, with his novels and his pot, perhaps not in his politics, but in emphasis. And there was always the Roman Catholic tragic sense of life.

I liked him. I can hate people as a members of a class or group, while still liking them as individuals. I hate the abstract Republican, and the embodied abstraction, the concrete instantiation.

Damn, I was thinking Gore Vidal was gonna outlive all the intellectuals of his generation, but I had forgotten Buckley. Go Gore.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:04 AM
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4: Wait. Seriously? That's real?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:04 AM
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NINE!!!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:06 AM
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I predict that the next several days will see more than a few reasonable lefty figures saying nice things about Buckley, especially along the lines of "well of course compared to Bush and Cheney and Bill Kristol he was actually rather nice and sane," so I'd like to briefly note that William F. Buckley really was a hateful old proto-fascist bigot.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:07 AM
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10: and, even more tragically, a terrible lay.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:09 AM
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THIS SEX ACT GOES TO ELEVEN!


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:09 AM
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I think Lars-Erik Nelson summed up Buckley best:

Bill Buckley exists to wrap up peoples' base, greedy, low-life, mean and nasty views into high-faluting language so that they don't have to go around thinking they are just mean, stupid and nasty, but instead have a philosophy like Buckley's.

Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:10 AM
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Whenever I think of Buckley, I think of a cartoon that appeared in the Brown Film Bulletin my freshman year: "I WAS FIST-FUCKED BY WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY AND ALL I GOT WAS THIS LOUSY T-SHIRT." I don't know why I continue to find that so delightful, but I do.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:12 AM
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This monkey's going to heaven?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:12 AM
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To be fair, stras, when Cheney and Kristol die, you'll find liberals saying nice things about them, and how they weren't so bad compared whatever the new model monster is.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:12 AM
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I grew up with the following family anecdote:

I was a late speaker, pointing and grunting long after it was obvious that I could have spoken had I wished to. But when I did start speaking, it was in complete sentences, big words and all. And so my mom always described the surprise on strangers' faces looking down and seeing this small child (3?) speaking "like William F Buckley."

Once I became an adult, that last part of the story was faintly embarrassing. Did she have to pick him?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:12 AM
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What can I say, I have a soft spot for those Catholic Inquisitor types. Fould Maistre weirdly attractive last week.

But more probably a generation thing.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:12 AM
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13: God, yes. And that stupid faux-English accent. What an evil little fucker.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:13 AM
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10: It's begun. I can't say I don't feel a bit of it. The man had style and grace and gave good face, as the Bard put it.

I read Judis's Buckley bio in college, along with a number of books on the New York Intellectuals and some other things good for understanding the second half of the 20th century.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:13 AM
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I think the previous reading of the Buckley scene is incorrect. He's not hurting her with his unbearable stamina, it's the sheer force his dick generates.

That he only needed ten strokes to inflict such pain is, in fact, a testament to his American sexual fortitude.


Posted by: destroyer | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:15 AM
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20: God fuck it.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:15 AM
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Rick Perlstein has an interesting tribute. It's a lot harder to be mean to people who've been gracious to us personally, I think.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:16 AM
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Damn, pwned by 20.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:16 AM
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19: The accent isn't faux. Plimpton had it, too. Vidal has a variation of it. It's what fancy NYers used to sound like.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:19 AM
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23: I suppose it's also a lot easier to be gracious in defeat when you're not part of a class singled out for opprobrium by your ideological adversary. To be a liberal interlocutor in Buckley's universe is to be a peer to be combatted; to be black or gay or poor, something less.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:20 AM
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It's a lot harder to be mean to people who've been gracious to us personally, I think.

I've successfully avoided these dilemmas by repelling inappropriate niceness. I was unwobegonianized during my 40 years away from home.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:20 AM
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We don't have to be mean, we just have to be truthful. And the truth is, Buckley pushed policies that were very unpleasant to black people, and poor people, and women. And in his grace and class, he gave graceless and classless people cover to say and do nasty things about the defenseless among us.

And he had very strange ideas about women's anatomy, and about human sexual behavior.

And we don't have to say it right now, maybe, or within the next few hours, because we are civilized people after all. But we should say it, perhaps, tomorrow or the day after.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:20 AM
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The central question that emerges . . . is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not prevail numerically? The sobering answer is Yes - the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced race. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is a fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists.

National Review believes that the South's premises are correct. . . . It is more important for the community, anywhere in the world, to affirm and live by civilized standards, than to bow to the demands of the numerical majority.

(Buckley in National Review, August 24, 1957)

Surely a great loss, the advocate of views like the above, so much unlike anything now popular in the White House.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:20 AM
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Me, from CT:

Besides being wrong and right wing, Buckley made a lot of extremely unpleasant statements, especially about race. His civility was limited to those whom he deigned to recognize as peers and who were willing to play his game, and did not extend, e.g., to queers like Gore Vidal. Or most other people.

I've always thought of him as someone who provided a veneer of class for tacky people with unpleasant attitudes. A bit like Hugh Hefner as a marketer of a cultural trend to people who needed training wheels. His intellectual accomplishments seem to have been at the level of a generic second rank English or History professor who has a knack for popular writing. Nothing very interesting, though better than Jonah Goldberg. His affectation of aristocratic mannerisms was parodic. Without his inheritance and his claque, he wouldn't have been anything.

That should cover the motherfucker.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:23 AM
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And we don't have to say it right now, maybe, or within the next few hours

Why not? We're talking about Buckley at the moment, and while we're talking about him we might as well tell the truth about his life's work. And it's not as if we'll hurt his feelings at this point.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:23 AM
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I wonder why I always thought of him as William H. Buckley.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:24 AM
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Because of William H. Macy?


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:26 AM
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I didn't say we couldn't or shouldn't, straw, I said we don't have to.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:28 AM
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I mourn the passing of Myron Cope, with deep sincerity and really sad nostalgia.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:28 AM
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25 could just establish that fancy NYers liked to put on faux British accents.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:29 AM
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Myron was awesome.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:30 AM
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I actually can't believe how shaken up I feel about Myron. He was sick for a long time, but his voice is the soundtrack to every Sunday afternoon of the first 20 years of my life.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:32 AM
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I listened to him call a radio show on the way up to a game this past season. He was great, but he sounded like he was about to die then.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:33 AM
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Why not? We're talking about Buckley at the moment, and while we're talking about him we might as well tell the truth about his life's work. And it's not as if we'll hurt his feelings at this point.

Because there's a pretty standard norm about speaking ill of the dead, particularly just after they've died, when people who believed good things about that person might be feeling particularly raw. And because general taboos are often worth following even when the specific instance doesn't seem to merit it.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:34 AM
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Sybil Vane gets it right.

Check out this piece he wrote for the City Paper last year about the Pirates' horrible management team.

With the passing of ultimate evil and ultimate good in one day, we now need the death of someone about whom nobody has any really strong opinions. I'm thinking maybe Alan Simpson.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:34 AM
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There's some level of nastiness when the norm goes into abeyance. Individual thresholds vary.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:39 AM
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That's a great piece re: the Buccos.

Re: saying nasty things about people who just died, I remember this same debate happening at B's last year when Falwell died. I think I came down on the hold-nastiness-in-abeyance side, but couldn't ever defend that position very persuasively in a way that wasn't mealy-mouth liberal-y.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:42 AM
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The reason is that people aren't one thing, and aren't to you what they are to someone else, and there are always people who can't help having real attachments to people who've been otherwise bad or evil, and out of respect for those individuals, and out of respect for the enormity of death, and out of humility about our ability to judge a person's life, we keep our mouths shut, at least for a little while.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:47 AM
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That was very eloquent, Ogged.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:47 AM
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Apparently the norm of not speaking ill of the dead is weakening, at least on the internets:

Dissing the dead, as these screeners call it, has become a costly and complicated problem for Legacy and other Web sites where people gather to mourn online. Legacy, which is now eight years old, carries a death notice or obituary for virtually all the roughly 2.4 million people who die each year, but few foresaw how nasty some of the postings to its guest books would be.

Of course, there's a difference between someone you personally knew and someone you only "knew" through his/her public persona. But still. I'm with SCMT and slolernr on this. It's unseemly to speak ill of the dead, at least until they've been properly buried.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:50 AM
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The Iranians have their quaint beliefs. I've heard that they worship fire too.

People should lead there lives in such a way that their heirs and friends aren't affronted on the day thay die, and in such a way that their great-grandchildren will be proud of them even though they never knew them.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:51 AM
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46, 47: and the Papists.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:52 AM
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Ogged is right, even if his use of "enormity" is questionable. Still, reading some of the encomia to Buckley on the Times site makes it difficult to bite one's tongue.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:56 AM
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It's unseemly to speak ill of the Papists? People should lead their lives in such a way that the Papists aren't affronted on the day they die?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:56 AM
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47 is bullshit. You can name, I suppose, several persons whose lives you know in such detail as to be able to claim that they have never given anyone reason to speak ill of them? This live by the sword, taking names approach makes me wince.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:56 AM
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It's not helping anyone to speak ill of the recent dead, in most cases. Of course that doesn't make it a good idea to dig up begrudged praise upon a passing you don't, in fact, mourn.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 11:56 AM
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Ogged's is a fine defense of why we shouldn't; for the record I really did mean we, as civilized people, don't have to.

I assume that competing gorillas do need to beat their chests or otherwise claim their primacy upon the death of their antagonist silverbacks, so they can claim their place in the new hierarchy; I assume they need to do this for their own individual reasons and for group reasons, i.e., to establish order lest the group fragment.

I meant that we do not need to do this: that civilization affords us time, and indeed may accord us the benefits of taking that time, to make an appropriately substantial response that is truthful and not mean.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:00 PM
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45: "eloquent" s/b "articulate".


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:00 PM
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Great, since we know we've evolved past the need to bash B.H.B, can we move on to saying nice things about Cope, as I tried to get us to do? Double yoi!


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:03 PM
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44: Blogger, please. Pinochet still had real attachments to real people who were still alive at the time of his death, and most decent people had no problem making judgments on Pinochet's life when he kicked it, regardless of the enormity of death. Was Bill Buckley as bad as Pinochet? No, but he was still a fucking evil bastard, and it's not a bad thing to be able to point that out after he spent a lifetime on earth being an evil bastard.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:06 PM
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that civilization affords us time, and indeed may accord us the benefits of taking that time, to make an appropriately substantial response that is truthful and not mean

" ... Time that with this strange excuse/Pardoned Kipling and his views,/And will pardon Paul Claudel,/Pardons him for writing well."


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:07 PM
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William F. Buckley had a perfectly serviceable middle initial.

He also made a Podhoretz look like a nimrod once.

There!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:09 PM
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He also made a Podhoretz look like a nimrod once.

So? Podhoretz does that to himself all the time.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:10 PM
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44: Is there a distinction here between discussing the person when you're among his friends and mourners and discussing the person's public legacy?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:11 PM
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53: And this has nothing to do with being civilized or uncivilized. When incredibly destructive people are allowed to be widely hailed as saints, it shifts the public discourse towards the destructive policies and agendas those people advocated. The world is a slightly worse place now that Ronald Reagan is a bipartisan hero, and it'll be a slightly worse place if liberals tip their hats to William F. Buckley at his death.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:12 PM
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59: look I was kind of grasping at straws there.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:13 PM
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OT: Is there an obvious/non-obvious way to track a criminal court case? I was a member of a jury pool for a case yesterday. I didn't get picked for the jury, but I'm terribly interested to see how it turned out.


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:13 PM
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We are not a civilized people, dreamers. Civility was nice, and the Bamiyan statues were nice, but they're gone. Deal with it.

I think we have disagreements about how nasty a guy Buckley was. He wasn't just someone we disagree with, he was a creep. His veneer of class was a detriment as far as I'm concerned.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:17 PM
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63: Call up the clerk's office a few days later & find out how it turned out.


Posted by: Anderson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:19 PM
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I'm with stras. There's far too much class-based solidarity about people like Buckley, more or less because he was polite to the people he didn't want as enemies. (Can you picture what people will say when Kissinger--Kissinger, a genuine monster--finally kicks the bucket?)

Norms? Hah. Middle class soft lefties (among whom I sadly count myself) have adhered politely to lots and lots of norms in the last twenty years, leaving the evil free to work their will largely unhampered.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:22 PM
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It's not just that Buckley was a creep, but that he was a tremendously influential creep, one who helped raise to power (or defend once in power, or try to rehabilitate once out of power) many of the worst people in American politics of the last three generations. Furthermore, he was a major figure in the trend to excuse all sorts of filthy crap as long as it's said in a style someone finds clever, which reinforces the notion that there's not actually anything but style in politics and leads very directly to Rush Limbaugh and the political shock jock era. And none of that happened by accident: this is what Buckley took as his life's work, the triumph of a particular kind of conservatism by foul means when fair ones failed. We live in the nation he and his allies set out to make while the ashes of World War II were barely cooled. We are not compelled to appreciate it.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:25 PM
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Klug, I know nothing of such matters myself, but Groklaw has some pages on what you can get about court cases from the net.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:26 PM
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65: Thanks. I don't know if that sort of thing is looked poorly upon, even if it is public record.


Posted by: Klug | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:26 PM
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63: It depends -- some counties have criminal court case records online...and others don't.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:27 PM
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Apo:

How can you not like him?

"Marijuana never kicks down your door in the middle of the night. Marijuana never locks up sick and dying people, does not suppress medical research, does not peek in bedroom windows. Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could."

-William F. Buckley, Jr.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:28 PM
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71: Even a stopped clock finds a blind pig twice an acorn.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:31 PM
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"Marijuana never kicks down your door in the middle of the night. Marijuana never locks up sick and dying people, does not suppress medical research, does not peek in bedroom windows. ..."

" ... No, my friends, it is the politicians I repeatedly endorse at election time who reliably ensure all these things happen. To people other than myself, naturally."


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:35 PM
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If Nixon had died during the existence of Unfogged, I wonder how it would have gone down here.

I would have been on Hunter Thompson's side, I think.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:37 PM
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Buckley's support for drug legalization would have meant more if he hadn't always supported the presidents who appointed the justices who always rule against it.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:38 PM
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74: I've always thought that a well researched, thorough and utterly damning retrospective a few months after the person dies has to be much more effective that `ding dong, the witch is dead'. To much noise right after the fact.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:41 PM
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Somewhere around 1970 or so (I think) Buckley said something like "do we really need another government program to teach the people in Harlem to flush their toilets?" I wish I could document that, but ever since that that's been my emblematic bit of Buckley prose.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:43 PM
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74: How bad of form is it to do an early obituary? I've been writing Broder's in my head for the past n years (5<n<10) and want to get it down on electrons before I lose the edge, or in case the bastard outlives me.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:45 PM
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I don't claim that my anti-Buckley comments here or anywhere else are effective. Unfogged posting is a way of wasting your life, not a way to get things done. That's where it all starts for me here.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:47 PM
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My previous statement on this matter (circa when I had a blog and Dershowitz wrote an article attacking Rehnquist a couple hours after he died) is that "don't speak ill of the dead" gestures at, though doesn't capture, a morally important norm and society would be better off if it were generally followed. I reiterate said view.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:47 PM
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JP, actually, prewritten obituaries are standard at the wire services for prominent people in ill health or just plain old.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:48 PM
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I am sitting at a coffee shop and a woman here just had what was very likely a stroke and paramedics are attending while her companions freak out. And maybe she is a total creep and kills kittens in her spare time. And none of us was there to look at a sick Buckley. But if death does not occasion some quiet in decent people, some sense of interpersonal connection, then, well, then it should, I guess. I can't believe what I am looking at. Today is very morbid.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:48 PM
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If Nixon had died during the existence of Unfogged, I wonder how it would have gone down here.

Error. Unfogged has always existed. You are speaking of when it made itself known to us.


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:54 PM
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Sybil, I think you're making an error the name of which I forget at the moment. (Sorry, allergy crud is high today.)

There's a distinct difference between what we should presume as the default and what we should do about specific known cases. J. Random Person deserves respect and courtesy, particularly in the face of sudden trauma, and it should take a significant push from the other side to outweigh that. But the barrier against other responses shouldn't be infinitely high.

There are a lot of people dying today who deserve my presumption that they were trying to do good things, and in any event deserve no dissing from me now or maybe ever. There's a hospital full of such folks visible out my dining room window - I wouldn't dream of doing anything to make the life or passing of any patient there harder. There are administrators and laborers and emergency workers and fishers and derelicts and all kinds of people within a few minutes of her whose death would warrant nothing but my courtesy. This is, more or less, a Rawlsian approach - treat them as I'd want me and mine treated, because I don't know jack and/or shit about them.

But William Buckley is not a random person. The veil of ignorance doesn't apply. To treat him as I would a random stranger is to ignore everything he did in life to make an impression on me and my society.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:55 PM
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The most important time to try to say nice things about people is when they are alive, when there is a real person in front of you whom you can treat with compassion and charity.

I've flirted with the Buddhist thesis that one should never speak ill of anyone ever, but as you can imagine I've found it unworkable.

Still, if you are going to speak ill of someone, the end of their life is a fine place for it. The record is there, the topic is on your mind.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 12:58 PM
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84 is perhaps the most moving defense of speaking ill of the dead I've ever seen. Color me re-convinced!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:00 PM
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Gore Vidal on the undead Buckley, 1969:

"It is estimated that in New York one half of the chronically poor are disorganized poor, who cannot be persuaded even to flush their own toilets." (National Review, 4 June 1968.)

Buckley on tattooing warnings on HIV carriers' buttocks, 2005 version:

The objective is to identify the carrier, and to warn his victim. Someone, 20 years ago, suggested a discreet tattoo the site of which would alert the prospective partner to the danger of proceeding as had been planned. But the author of the idea was treated as though he had been schooled in Buchenwald, and the idea was not widely considered, but maybe it is up now for reconsideration.

Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:00 PM
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There might be an error re: the particular vs the general in my experience today, or the stranger vs the known persona. But instead of 'treat her decently because I don't know jack and/or shit about her,' I might take something more like 'treat her decently because she is human and death is profound and unknowable and leveling. And the only equalizer.'

It feels dumb to have some arbitrary timeline in place: don't speak ill of the dead for the day they die, or some such. But I'd rather feel dumb than indecent.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:01 PM
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Sifu: Thankee. The tricky part is of course making the individual judgments well. This is why it's good to practice expressing judgments while people are still alive, so that one can get the important corrections in time to assimilate them. It's much better to have to say "I was terribly wrong about X and need to take all these other things into account" while X is still alive.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:02 PM
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81: Yeah but they don't make them public...


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:05 PM
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82: I don't get the point of the woman's hypothetical crimes. Buckley's offenses are multiple and documented.

If I were at the fringes of Buckley's social circle, as per impossible, I'd probably be more discreet. But Lord be praised, I've lived my life so that couldn't happen.

If Buckley's admirers had had the decency to keep their filthy mouths shut, we probably would have too.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:05 PM
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Sybil, I don't think we're actually disagreeing on the default. Or at least I'm nodding here in agreement with you. People deserve good treatment, as a general statement, both alive and dead. (So does the rest of the world, come to that, but we have some extra duties to our fellow people, I think.) Everyone should be able to expect comfort, dignity, security, and good things like that. I don't even favor revoking the quality of care for no-good shits; I just think that individuals can forfeit the presumption of respect, based on what they have worked to do to others and why they've done it.

If Buckley were to come back from the dead, arrive on my porch, and have a heart attack, I'd call 911 and do what I could to keep him going until better help can arrive. I wouldn't go out of my way to run Rush Limbaugh down. I don't favor cruelty or neglect, and if I were to glory in another's treatable, preventable pain I'd want to be called on it for lapsing from my own standards. But that seems to me compatible with the kind of judgment some of us are passing here.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:07 PM
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66: I love the idea that somehow liberals were too kind to Buckley in life and this let him get away with being evil. Come on, get over yourselves. What is it that you think counterfactually could have been done, should have been done, that wouldn't have let all these Snidley Whiplashes get away with tying poor Nell to the tracks all these years? Should he have been burned in effigy by enraged mobs? Should we have boycotted any PBS channel which aired his program? Should we have forcefully demanded Gore Vidal get up and spit on him? All this chest-thumping is just self-aggrandizement. "Damn, it's because we tolerated the mother-fucker so much! We have to stop being so tolerant!" And so what does that look like? Yeah, I know, let's write nastygrams on blogs more often, that'll do it! No more tolerance! Hulk get mad, Hulk get strong, Hulk smash puny humans!

I'm with Ogged. Even when people are evil motherfuckers, when they're dead, it's time to think more complex thoughts about who they were, why they were, what happened because they were. Humanity is never so neat or simple. When you make men into demons, you lose any ability to understand why or how they are what they are in the world. All you can do is fumble around and make the rhetorical equivalent of the sign of the cross every time their name is mentioned.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:08 PM
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And now I'm off to get prone while the decongestants and detoxing supplements have their way with my lymphatic fluid. (Because other bodily functions should sound naughty too.)


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:10 PM
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I'm not saying, by the way, to not speak ill of the dead. There is much ill to be spoken about Buckley's life and work. I'm just not convinced by this notion that this is the only thing that can be said, or is allowable to say when someone we very much opposed, who had a part in many bad things, passes.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:10 PM
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Is the proposition in question "Don't speak ill of the dead" or "try to find a few nice things to say about the dead (and perhaps also mention the bad things, too)."

The second claim is much easier to defend.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:11 PM
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96 crossed with 95. My point is that I don't think anyone would disagree with 95.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:12 PM
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Not even nice. Try to appreciate the full humanity of the dead, of all the things that they were in life. What better time to do so?


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:12 PM
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One quick parting shot:

Tim, a bunch of us are responding to the praise being lauded on Buckley in other quarters, from (in some cases) people we really think ought to know better. "He was, like any wealthy person with substantial freedom to live and work exactly as he pleased, complicated and nuanced, and a full judgment is a matter for another time" wouldn't bug me nearly so much, or at least it'd ust incline me to sigh and move on. "He was a really decent guy as long as you weren't one of the dozens of millions of people in groups he set up as enemies and why are you being so mean to my buddy" does get a harsher reaction.

At least that's my excuse.

Now I do go.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:13 PM
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14: Weirdly, I remember that one. The Film Bulletin was inconsistently funny, but when it was on, it was damned good Ratty reading.


Posted by: mrh | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:15 PM
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OK, I'm convinced. I retroactively request a three week time delay on posting #13.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:16 PM
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try to find a few nice things to say about the dead

That Buckley sure had a big vocabulary.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:16 PM
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Sure people would disagree with 95: that's how I read Frowner in 66 or stras and Emerson. Don't talk about Buckley's civility to a certain class of opponents, don't say that sometimes his show was an interesting spectacle, don't try to get inside the intellectual and social moment that produced his early writing, etcetera, because that's being some kind of middle-class softy who forgets all the bad things he said and did.

There's nothing exclusive about any of this. Remember the comments on tattooing people with AIDS and the racism of his National Review in the 1960s. Remember the bad fiction and the weirdness of the sex scenes. Remember the odd charm of Buckley in that crowd of 60s intellectuals. Remember the curious moments where he looked on his conservative heirs and clearly wondered, "What have I wrought?" Remember all of it. Why not?


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:18 PM
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Aphorisms... fight!
"Speak no ill of the dead."

"The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar."


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:19 PM
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I love the idea that somehow liberals were too kind to Buckley in life and this let him get away with being evil.

Don't know where that straw man came from. Lots of civilized people, mostly not liberals, were suckered by Buckley's veneer of class to ignore the fact that he was a nasty guy. If he'd had Evelyn Waugh's talent, some of his other stuff might have been ignorable, but he didn't. He was a political operative, albeit highly talented by the standards of that class.

Did Dante honor a 24-hour-grace period before putting people in Hell up to their nostrils in shit? Research is required. We'll probably never know. He put living people in hell, and long-dead people, and recently-dead people, but his lines aren't dated so we will never know whether he ever put someone in hell the day they died.

I knew Dante was good for something.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:20 PM
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Weirdly, I remember that one.

It was catchy!


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:21 PM
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Well, but Marc Anthony didn't really *mean* that, did he? That was sort of the point, no? That it's shitty to let the good be interred with the bones. So says Emerson, and Emerson is an honorable man.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:21 PM
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95 seems perfectly obvious to me, especially as modified by 97:

Try to appreciate the full humanity of the dead, of all the things that they were in life. What better time to do so?

Gosh, shouldn't you try to appreciate the full humanity of people *all the time*?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:22 PM
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Dante, iirc, didn't even wait for the subjects to be dead before putting them into hell.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:24 PM
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105: Ok, John. I'm guessing there are an awful lot of past intellectuals, novelists, artists, politicians, philosophers and so on whose work you abstemiously deny yourself or who you refuse to allow any appreciation for at any possible moment because, you know, they were nasty guys. Sure, you have an escape clause: if you're really talented, it's ok to be nasty. Otherwise, there's nothing to be said beyond, "Nasty motherfucker"? Fuck, that's a long list of "Nasty Motherfucker" to be making. Is Waugh the cutoff level of "talent sufficient to escape the nothing-but-nasty list"? Or does that start a bit below Waugh but just above Buckley?


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:25 PM
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Gosh, shouldn't you try to appreciate the full humanity of people *all the time*?

Nah, most of them us kind of suck.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:25 PM
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Bill Buckley was a funny and eloquent person, who supported drug legalization and opposed the invasion of Iraq. In all likelihood, he was a loving father and husband, capable of all the acts of love that human beings are capable of.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:26 PM
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"As we contemplate the horror of Bill Buckley's time on earth, should we not choose this moment to reflect the innate capacity for despicable evil shared by all humans.

All humans, but above all -- ourselves".

Fixed.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:28 PM
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The "straw man" you ask about in 105, Emerson, comes from Frowner's 68, I imagine:

"Middle class soft lefties (among whom I sadly count myself) have adhered politely to lots and lots of norms in the last twenty years, leaving the evil free to work their will largely unhampered."


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:32 PM
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93: So you're saying either that there was nothing we could have done about Buckley's poisonous, racist argumentation other than courteously point out his...er...gaffes or else that his poisonousness wasn't really serious enough to challenge? That public, um, "intellectuals" don't shape debate in any significant way?

I think it would be entirely appropriate if people did show up at PBS and protest people like Buckley, send nasty letters to the papers that publish them, write and submit editorial columns to contradict their views, protest them vigorously when they speak at colleges, etc. And I think that should be part of a larger culture both of active protest and program creation. "Buckley doesn't want social services? Well, we do; here are some proposals." Of course, some people do stuff like this, but it's--you know--more effective when lots do.

I know it's rather individual, but I don't find that my politics get used up by commenting on blogs. Actually, when I get worked up about something here or elsewhere, I often want to go out and do actual political work. Especially when I feel like I've learned something new about policy. (Which I often, of course, do)

I grew up in a conservative town and got, frankly, a piss-poor college education (yes, yes, you can tell from my poor argumentation, etc.) and I remember reading stuff by Buckley in the paper and in high school--his work was always spun as very classy and intellectual. It got over with many semi-liberals I knew because people felt that someone who wrote in such a genteel manner had to know what he was talking about. Now, you can certainly say that the best way to challenge Buckley-ish people is to adopt their tone and general concerns, and maybe that works sometimes. It just hasn't in my experience. Which is, I admit, parochial. But parochially among people who voted and gave money to candidates.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:32 PM
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Timothy, I draw my line, you draw yours. If you feel that your little bit of pious decency makes the world a better place, go for it. If you feel that running around squeaking about people who don't follow your ritual makes the world a better place, go for that too. Like the rest of the world, I will go on as I would have without your input.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'll research an important question: which circle of Hell is Buckley in?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:33 PM
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Now at this time there was a bodhisattva Monk named Never Disparaging. Now, Gainer of Great Authority, for what reason was he named Never Disparaging? This monk, whatever persons he happened to meet, whether monks, nuns, laymen or laywomen, would bow in obeisance to all of them and speak works of praise, saying "I have profound reverence for you, I would never dare treat you with disparagement or arrogance? Why because you are all practicing the bodhisattva way and are certain to attain Buddhahood."


Posted by: Lotus Sutra | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:33 PM
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Yay Frowner! I'm sorry I called you a man.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:34 PM
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116: Eighth, probably.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:35 PM
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118: But not sorry that you called me straw...Oh well, straw is warm in winter and cool in summer, that's something.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:36 PM
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116: Eighth seems to fit.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:36 PM
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If you're going to protest, may as well go to the funeral. Rev. Phelps has some tips.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:37 PM
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Cala-pwned, but we've got a consensus going.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:38 PM
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104 - Is it worth noting that Antony had no intention of letting the good be interred with the bones? That the whole point of his speech was to rile up the crowd against Caesar's murderers by talking about how great Caesar was?

Shakespeare quotes taken out of context seem usually to be used to mean more or less the opposite to what they mean in context.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:38 PM
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122: Wait, I was talking about protesting Buckley while alive, in response to a post about how liberals couldn't have "done anything" about Buckley and were in no wise responsible for his wickedness. Now, you can collapse "speaking critically of the dead in the media and on the internet" into "doing everything you can against them up to and including picketing their funerals"--I don't think that's an impossible leap of logic--but it's not what I was suggesting.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:40 PM
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Which part of the eighth circle does one put Buckley in?

Hypocrites? Fraudulent advisors? Sowers of discord?


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:41 PM
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Probably bolgias 8, 9, or 10. I'll look for an appropriate epitaph.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:43 PM
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Fair enough, Frowner. I did misread your comment. The sense of duty or moral obligation to speak out immediately about Buckley's nastiness on the day of his death is really irking me. It is both absurdly self-important and crass. And I am a pussy I guess, but oh well. Seriously, the Myron Cope thing threw me into this whole space.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:44 PM
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Which part of the eighth circle does one put Buckley in?

Hypocrites? Fraudulent advisors? Sowers of discord?

Compulsive masturbators.

Is that still 8th circle?


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:46 PM
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Bolgia 8.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:47 PM
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And I am a pussy I guess

Don't admit it! Everybody here hates vaginas.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:47 PM
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Compulsive masturbators.

Isn't self-flagellation one of the paths to divine enlightenment?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:49 PM
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This is very strange. No one here is arguing that you can't ever speak ill of the dead, but that, as IA said, you should at least wait until the dude is buried.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:50 PM
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Everybody here hates vaginas.

No, w-lfs-n just hates fallopian tubes, and I am missing one of those so I'm already on his good side.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:50 PM
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It is both absurdly self-important and crass.

It's a week or so in which talking about him, one way or other, is what people are doing. If one is in the public sphere, why shouldn't one feel the need to have what one says be about his nastiness? It's not as if the man himself hesitated to say nasty things. Is it more self-important than feeling the need to say something nice?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:50 PM
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126: Flatterers? Which ones end up in the river of shit their words produced?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:51 PM
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I would like to quibble with stras' original point. Since the social norm is to say nice things about the recently departed, the fact that people say nice things about the recently departed contains no judgement.

That said, I want to disagree with Tim Burke strenuously. So strenuously that I'm going to show up at his funeral to bring this point up again. In terms of dispassionate judgement, there is nothing special about Buckley's death. He is exactly as entitled to complexity in our thoughts today as he was yesterday, and he will be tomorrow. The only reason to shut up about it today is for the reasons Ogged outlined in 44.

And the _reason_ conservativism came so close to winning before exploding from its own inability to run a taco cart let alone a government is that liberals yearn to shove the entire world into a seminar room, where they can stand around and discuss the complexity. Yes, how complex Buckley was, and how terrible it is that stras, Frowner, and Bruce Baugh, and John Emerson said mean things about him on the Internet.

Before Buckley and people like him, liberals ran the country. Not every liberal program was in place, but liberal ideas had the air of inevitability. How do you think we lost that, Tim? We weren't civil enough? Maybe if the government had funded two PBSes?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:52 PM
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128: I don't know, for me it's more about anger. I'm angry that someone like Buckley (who in his public persona was indubitably a Bad Person who made the world worse) gets lots and lots of praise from people who should know better. I'm angry that this is where many people (again, the half-educated middle class, my people) will learn most of what they'll remember about Buckley and it all needs to be written as if he were just a capital fellow. I'm angry at the idea that our political morality somehow doesn't matter as long as we speak nicely and are kind to people of our race and class.

I hate it, because I hate to see people like Buckley and Reagan win, honestly. And they do win--they advocate for and prosecute wars, they get rich by appealing to racism and greed, and then they die and everyone falls all over themselves to reminisce about how wonderful they were. As I write it down, I see that this isn't a particularly smart and nuanced position to take, but it's not so much about me-and-my-moral-duty as about me-and-my-anger-and-despair.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:53 PM
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Hey, John, I'm not shilling for pious decency. But I am asking how on earth you manage to go about reading literature, philosophy and so on and yet righteously and abstemiously avoiding all the nasty motherfuckers who belong in the eight circle of hell. Because, you know, when *I* read a lot of work by dead people, or consider the history made by people now dead, I see a lot of nasty motherfuckers whom somehow, some way, seem to be something more than the sum of their nasty motherfucking. About whom there is more to be said than just that they were bad people.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:53 PM
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One problem with the idea that we should wait before mentioning anything nasty is that a week from now, no one will be talking about Buckley's legacy. Reagan was lionized at his funeral, and then we went back to worrying about kidnapped white chicks and diets and iPods. Whatever criticisms were made didn't get noticed.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:56 PM
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Before Buckley and people like him, liberals ran the country. Not every liberal program was in place, but liberal ideas had the air of inevitability. How do you think we lost that, Tim?

Not through too much civility, I'd say. The Vietnam War and Republican exploitation of racial resentment, plus the fall of the boom economy of the postwar period, were the main causes. That dirty fucking hippies took over the Democratic Party in 1972 didn't help. Nor did Jimmy Carter's disastrous presidency (or the fact that Democrats took the opportunity of Watergate to elect a president as illiberal and unappealing as Carter)


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:56 PM
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Maybe the problem came because liberals thought their ideas were inevitable, Walt. The answer to that isn't that they should have gotten up and kicked Buckley in the nuts a bit more often.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:56 PM
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139 - Indeed.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 1:57 PM
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Hey I've got a good troll for this thread, since we are talking about dead intellectuals:

Simone de Beauvoir had the nicest ass of any philosopher in any tradition.

Now I know everyone is rightly outraged that a woman philosopher is being remembered for her sex life and not her work. But certainly here at unfogged, if no where else, it can be safely asserted that de Beauvoir's rear is to philosophy what Heebie's is to mathematics.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:01 PM
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No shit Buckley died? How can they tell?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:01 PM
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This is that stupid West Wing theory, isn't it? Liberalism lost because we watched the West Wing and thus mistakenly believed that everyone was good and (so the story goes) forgot to have divisive partisan politics.

I'm going to guess that civility isn't the problem. (Nor the solution.)

124: Yes, I know. But I still like how Antony leads off with that as if it is a commonly accepted maxim, before undermining it. In fact, I think it would be funny if Burke were to write a speech that did the same, but started with a very civil 'speak no ill of the dead.'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:02 PM
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Tim, did you sleepwalk through the past 14 years? The Republican party rose to power by kicking liberals in the nuts. That's been their entire political strategy since 1994.

The problem with your explanation, Wry, is that it's completely mechanical. If Reagan had lost in 1980, the country would have gone in a much different direction than it did.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:02 PM
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Sybil, we're just chatting on the internet, not rampaging out in the streets.

TITLE:

If you can't say something good about someone, don't say anything at all

HOMILY:

As we contemplate the horror of Bill Buckley's time on earth, should we not choose this moment to reflect the innate capacity for despicable evil shared by all humans?

All humans -- but above all, ourselves.

EPITAPH (tentative):

Mentre ch'io forma fui d'ossa e di polpe
che la madre mi die, l'opere mie
non furon leonine, ma di volpe.

Canto 27, Eighth Circle, Eighth Bolgia


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:02 PM
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Cala, you are wrong, and the West Wing theory is right. When Paul Wellstone died, the Republicans immediately politicized his funeral. What happened? They won. Conservatives count on liberal hand-wringing. I have a friend who was a member of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) during the 80s. They would run pro-contra counter-protests. Their entire strategy was to try to trigger a debate on complexity of the situation, since liberals love discussing complexity.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:07 PM
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Is the proposition in question "Don't speak ill of the dead" or "try to find a few nice things to say about the dead (and perhaps also mention the bad things, too)."

The second claim is much easier to defend.

I don't know that I would defend the second claim. For me, this isn't about being "nice" or providing "balanced" coverage in the interests of, as some would have it, middle-class norms of polite discourse. It's more about a sense of awe and humility in the face of what ogged calls "the enormity of death." Don't speak ill of the dead (which may require remaining silent about the dead) until a certain (admittedly arbitrary) interval has passed.

It doesn't mean you have to actively endorse the encomium; it doesn't mean that once someone has died you should never again make a critical or negative statement.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:08 PM
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139: As I said, the talent level has a lot to do with it. And the pastness of the the offense, and the degree to which the offense was personal to me. Buckley's offenses were highly person, like Gingrich's, Delay's, Limbaugh's, Dubya's and so on.

Even so, knowing what I do about Evelyn Waugh makes me less likely to read him. There are other funny novelists. I read Pound with much less pleasure and admiration than I would because of his political affiliations (though ias it happenst, I was looking at Personae this very morning.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:09 PM
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OGGED:
Peace, ho! What news-
LB:
-Have you not heard, fair sir?
I call you fair for you...
[short monologue about fairies]
Buckley the son of dogs has died today.
FREE REPUBLIC:
Alas, alas, alackaday
Alack, alack, alack.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:11 PM
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Simone de Beauvoir had the nicest ass of any philosopher in any tradition.

I don't know ... when the ladies thought about what most evoked Freddie Ayer, the consensus was a view of his backside, rather than a sign reading "AJ Ayer."


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:11 PM
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As far as I know, Buckley did not have a single one of the virtues which might incline me to overlook his offenses. His writing and scholarship, to my knowledge, were insignificant, and the veneer of class which attract many to him repels me.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:12 PM
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Did Republicans win in 2002 because they whined about Paul Wellstone's funeral? Or did they win because the Democrats ran a horrible campaign, and because the Republicans had massive structural advantages due to the war?


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:13 PM
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149: I thought we were talking about civility, not complexity.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:13 PM
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BURKE:
Friends, bloggers, Unfoggedtariat;
lend me your links!
I come to give a nuanced procedural liberal critique of Buckley, not to praise him.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:17 PM
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First Commenter
Methinks there is much reason in his sayings.
Second Commenter
If thou consider rightly of the matter,
Buckley has had great wrong.
Third Commenter
Has he, masters?
I fear there will a worse come in his place.
Fourth Commenter
Mark'd ye his words? He would not take the crown;
Therefore 'tis certain he was not ambitious.
First Commenter
If it be found so, some will dear abide it.
Second Commenter
Poor soul! his eyes are red as fire with weeping.
Third Commenter
There's not a nobler man in teh Interwebs than Burke.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:19 PM
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BECKS:
Peace, peace. Let noble Burke speak!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:21 PM
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153: Little-known fact-- AJ Ayer had "AJ Ayer" tattooed on his ass.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:21 PM
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Trashing Wellstone's funeral was a significant part of the Republican's closing strategy in 2002. They called out a lot of their big guns: Noonan, Novak, Christopher Caldwell (the one with the intellectual pretensions, probably Buckley's heir apparent).

In 1994 Gingrich ghoulishly tried to use mentally-ill mother's murder of her children to score points against the Democrats. He became Speaker of the House (the second most powerful man in US Government) at that eection, and never paid any price at all. All Repulicans sucked up to him. And it's now rude to mention the actual facts of the case, which is that the murderess Smith had been sexually molested by a stepfather who had been a member of the Republican State committee. (Google Beverly Russell). And I am a creep for saying this kind of thing.

So that's why I say compare civility to the Bamiyan statues. Both nice, both non-existent.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:22 PM
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FREEPERS:
Never, never. Come, away, away!
We'll burn his body in the holy place,
And with the brands fire the traitors' houses.
Take up the body.

Second Commenter:
Go fetch fire.

Third Commenter:
Pluck down benches.

EMERSON:
Pluck down forms, windows, any thing.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:25 PM
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On the "speaking ill of the dead" thing--you know, there really is a difference between what "we, the civilized" agree on (with all due respect to Slol, who is a much better person than I am) and what we the marginalized feel.

The fact is that Buckley was a very powerful man, and has a lot of friends and hagiographers among the very powerful. And most of us aren't that powerful, and some of us are--esp. w/ respect to some of the things Buckley and his friends used their power *for*--pretty powerless, in fact.

So while it's incredibly admirable for minor and powerless folks to exercise restraint and, uh, class when they're given a chance to strike back, in whatever minor and piddly way, at very powerful people who have said very nasty things about *them* in the past, it's surely *as* tacky to lecture them for not doing so as it is for them to say mean things about dead people in blog comments.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:25 PM
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BURKE
Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up
To such a sudden flood of mutiny.
I am no orator, as Buckley is;
But, as you know me all, a plain tenured liberal,
That love everyone, up to a point; yea, even Emerson.
I tell you that which you yourselves do know;
were I Buckley, and Buckley Burke, and Ogged AWB,
In every wound of Burkely that should move
Things would become quite complex.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:27 PM
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Walt: so the answer is to live in Punch-and-Judy land, where all things are manichean? There is the good, and we are it. There is the evil, and all things that are not us are so. Never talk beyond that, more than that. There is nothing more to the business of being human than that?

Fuck, I get dizzy just thinking about all the interesting films and TV shows and novels and so on that you must regard as an odious part of the liberal conspiracy to wallow in complexity. Not to mention policy questions. Hey, it's not hard to eliminate poverty, fix homelessness, deal with crime, ensure economic growth, prevent war, guarantee high-level health care for all, and so on. That's all easy, and anybody who tries to think or talk about how to do any of that is just some motherfucking liberal trying to wallow in complexity while conservatives rip him a new asshole.

Life is easy when you live in a simple fairyland. I guess you got so tired of seeing Paul Wolfowitz and his bunch live in such a land, where flowers are thrown to occupiers, that you figure that the answer is not to beat them but join them, only in a fairyland of our making and design. Cool. I happen to think that all the people who want to live in a world where everything is simple, transparent, and obvious and who confer upon themselves the mantle of total goodness are the problem, whichever happy-happy land they want.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:29 PM
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OK, how about this: tomorrow about this time Ogged will change this post's datestamp, and we all will retroactively become decent himan being, I I won't have to go through life with the stigma of having violated the 24-hour grace period.

Frankly, do you people have no respect for Dante -- the greatest poet of the Christian tradition? He would know what to do in a case like this.

I mean, of course Ogged doesn't. And Tim is Jewish, I suppose.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:31 PM
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That said, Perlstein's piece is classy, and I love this:

He was friends with those he fought. He fought with friends. These are the highest civic ideals to which an American patriot can aspire.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:31 PM
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YGGLES THE BLOGGER
Briefly, I dwell by the Capitol.

Third Citizen
Your name, sir, truly.

YGGLES THE BLOGGER
Truly, my name is YGGLES.

First Citizen
Tear him to pieces; he's a blogger.

YGGLES THE BLOGGER
I am YGGLES the respected foreign policy analyst, I am YGGLES the respected foreign policy analyst.

Fourth Citizen
Tear him for his bad verses, tear him for his bad verses.

YGGLES THE BLOGGER
I am not YGGLES the blogger.

Fourth Citizen
It is no matter, his name's YGGLES; pluck but his
name out of his heart, and turn him going.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:32 PM
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Oh for heaven's sake. I very clearly said in 28 things that anticipate and agree with Emerson in 30. I would not be as kind as Perlstein, by yards. My only dispute has to do with timing, and it was at least as much about tactics as it is about decency, though it is about both.

And whoever it was said we are not civilized, please surrender your internet connection right now, and go back to your mud hut where you can chew on your salamanders in peace.


Posted by: slolernr | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:33 PM
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Fun fact: I once sold movie tickets at Doc Films with Rick Perlstein.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:36 PM
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Tim, the people who scoff at complexity have been controlling the agenda for about 13 years. They get a significant proportion of the support because they don't begin every discusion with "On the one hand...."

As for Manichaeanism, evil, and the like: for me the whole world isn't Manichaean black and white, but Bill Buckley is firmly in the black part of the Manichaean zone.

I think that part of the argument here is about exactly how bad Buckley was, and I think that a lot of people were seduced by his manner. And Buckley's own civility was very restricted.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:38 PM
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OGGED:
Stand, ho!

FONTANA LABS:
Give the word, ho! and stand.

BITCHPHD:
You aren't funny.

CALA:
Stand mixers?


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:42 PM
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I'm not saying that Buckley wasn't very bad in a great many ways. I just don't see why one would demand that this is the only thing that can or should be said on the occasion of his death. (And conversely, why one should expect that at such a moment, nothing should be said about the many bad things he said and did: that's just as important).


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:44 PM
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169: I wasn't *trying* to piss you off, Slol! I agreed with what you said. I was actually referring more to the argument between Burke (who is being uncharacteristically pissy in 165), Frowner, and Baugh.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:44 PM
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On the other point: the people who scoff at complexity have been controlling the agenda for about 13 years.. John and Walt appear to admire that about those people. Or at least believe that it's worth emulating. I happen to think that's one of the primary things wrong with the people who've been controlling the agenda.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:46 PM
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BURKE:
That you have wrong'd me doth appear in this:
You have blog'd and noted Buckley
For writing in favor of dumb wars;
Wherein my postings, praying on his side,
Because I knew the man, were slighted off.

EMERSON:
You wronged yourself to write in such a case.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:46 PM
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Slol, American politics is not civilized. End of story.

Let me say in my own defense, not that I care, the Hugh Kenner apparently shared many of Buckley's views, and I didn't dance on his grave. The three books of his I've read were impressive. But on the one hand, he wasn't a political operative, and on the other, he had some talent.

So maybe I'm just, like, 80% evil and uncivil?

Sybil, Tim B: I feel no obligation to do this. This is fun for me. It's what I do instead of wasting my time on date movies.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:50 PM
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Tim: Of course I don't think any of that. I can think of positive things to say about Buckley. But I think you're missing what's motivating your reaction: striking a complexity pose is how you wrap yourself in a mantle of goodness. You are complexer-than-thou.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:51 PM
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Emerson & Walt,
I loved Paul Wellstone, but the Republicans weren't the ones who politicized Wellstone's funeral; the DFLers who spoke at it did that. Even if they hadn't, that "politicization" had legs because enough Minnesotans felt that something horribly uncivil had been done, and not by the IR. If your point was that Minnesotans shouldn't have cared about civility, at least enough to vote against Coleman, then I mostly agree with you, but their caring about civility means that it in fact does meaningfully exist.


Posted by: JPool | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:51 PM
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Emerson & Walt,
I loved Paul Wellstone, but the Republicans weren't the ones who politicized Wellstone's funeral; the DFLers who spoke at it did that. Even if they hadn't, that "politicization" had legs because enough Minnesotans felt that something horribly uncivil had been done, and not by the IR. If your point was that Minnesotans shouldn't have cared about civility, at least enough to vote against Coleman, then I mostly agree with you, but their caring about civility means that it in fact does meaningfully exist.


Posted by: JPool | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:51 PM
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I liked reading Buckley's spy novel in either my late teens or early twenties, and it took a while before I realized that he was the same person as Bill Buckley.

As for saying mean things about him, knock yourselves out. The worst that will happen is that people will think you're an asshole and oppose your other ideas out of spite, which is really no great loss when your ideas don't have traction anyway.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:56 PM
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And the best thing is that they will be subconsciously moved, the way endless demonization of liberals and hippies have moved American politics right.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:59 PM
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Complexitarians have a record of futility, Tim. They've failed to sell complexitarianism to the electorate, and increasingly the Democratic Party is switching to a non-complexitarian product. Anticomplexitarianism is taking over.

Government is making decisions, and a lot of big decisions are binary: war, yes or no? To get public consent for any decision of any weight, you have to present it in a way so that your side of the argument looks distinctly more convincing than the other. Complexitarianism isn't helpful for that.

Complexitarianism is a relic of the time when Americans often admired wise, urbane, pipesmoking professors. But a lot of Americans hate professors now. And frankly, a lot of academic discourse is methodologized in such a way as to make it useless for public-intellectual purposes. (There was brief Unfogged discussion recently on philosophy and the good life, and too much philosophy is Good-Life-neutral.)


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 2:59 PM
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Even if they hadn't, that "politicization" had legs because enough Minnesotans felt that something horribly uncivil had been done, and not by the IR.

I may be remembering this through a partisan lens, but didn't the fuss about the Wellstone funeral rely on some untruths? It was a political event, certainly, but I'm recalling claims made that the crowd was being directed to boo people that just weren't true, and were the basis of a lot of the outrage.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:01 PM
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I loved Paul Wellstone, but the Republicans weren't the ones who politicized Wellstone's funeral; the DFLers who spoke at it did that.

No, that's not true. Nothing unusual went on there.

Even if they hadn't, that "politicization" had legs because enough Minnesotans felt that something horribly uncivil had been done, and not by the IR.

They believed that because the Republicans were unanimous in saying it. They weren't all at the funeral, but they were all watching the news about it. If the news is dominated by people all saying one thing, that thing becomes the truth.

If your point was that Minnesotans shouldn't have cared about civility, at least enough to vote against Coleman, then I mostly agree with you, but their caring about civility means that it in fact does meaningfully exist.

I would state that their caring about "civility" while being led to vote Republican as a direct result of unbelievably cynical Republican anti-civility means that civility does not, in fact, exist.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:02 PM
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Or what CN said.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:02 PM
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Walt:

I don't give a shit if it makes me good or not. It's how I want to be. Maybe saints are simple people who think simple but elegant thoughts. Fuck saints then.

Being simpler-than-thou is what seems to give you a license to anoint yourself the man with the x-ray eyes and the halo on your head against all the dumb liberal intellectuals who supposedly made it possible for conservatives to triumph. We're all about blaming someone else for whatever darkens the horizons of our world, I suppose.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:09 PM
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140 is exactly right. I remember thanking God for Hunter S. Thompson's Nixon eulogy. I think the key is kind of like 28, with an exception for people like Hunter S. Thompson: you have to have a few designated haters.


Posted by: Wrongshore | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:10 PM
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Fuck saints then.

Finally! Emerson and Burke achieve comity.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:11 PM
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JPool: I researched that in considerable detail, and you're full of shit. The Republican machine, its media plants and talk radio took a clip from the funeral and blasted it everywhere to make the funeral look bad. It was a nationally-coordinated effort involving a lot of big guns.

It's pretty normal for the supporters of a beloved politician to politicize his funeral, especially when he dies a few days before the election, don't you think? Even a couple of the Republican retired politicans at the funeral (Durenberger or Grams) thought the Republicans should have laid off. But there was a seat to pick up and an advantage to be had.

A Google finds a swarm of nasty criticisms of the funeral by wingnuts.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:13 PM
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I don't really get B's power argument in 163. Is this another way of saying that famous people are fair game for mean shit or an oppressed/oppressor argument? The wretched of the earth are entitled to say mean things about Buckley?


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:18 PM
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Question: Did Coleman win because the Republicans successfully politicized Wellstone's funeral? Or did he win because the Republicans were in a very strong position that year generally, and the Democrats chose Zombie Walter Mondale as their replacement candidate? (No offense meant to Walter Mondale, who in many ways is a great liberal, but the choice was pretty symbolic of the timidity of the Democrats that year)

I think too much gets made of these little tempest in a teapot media scandals, and the big picture gets lost.


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:20 PM
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but the choice was pretty symbolic of the timidity of the Democrats that year

WTF are you smoking? They had like two weeks, and grabbed someone with 100% name recognition. Running Walter Mondale in cold blood with time to do something else might have been craven; given the actual time frame they didn't have any better choice.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:23 PM
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JPool, you're really full of shit. There was a massive, national-level, coordinated effort by a lot of top people (radio, TV, newspaper, Republican Party) dedicated to smearing the funeral. It was not spontaneous.

Ned is mostly right, but there were high-level individual Republicans who were offended by the Republican attacks on the funeral. But they were mostly retired. But the state and national machines were hitting the funeral hard.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:24 PM
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I blame ill-timed criticism of the freshly dead Buckley on the speed of communication in the Internet age. Absolution for everyone!


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:24 PM
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190: JPool: I researched that in considerable detail, and you're full of shit.

194: JPool, you're really full of shit.

Note that JPool did not post anything between these two comments.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:27 PM
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Note that JPool did not post anything between these two comments.

Merely a reassessment.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:29 PM
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Good thing s/he didn't die between those two comments, or 194 would have been really tasteless.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:29 PM
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It must be admitted that the comments here are pretty funny.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:32 PM
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Tim, I encourage you to think thoughts of appropriate complexity, even of excessive complexity. Being a liberal intellectual is a fine thing to be. Some of my best friends are liberal intellectuals. I would let my daughter marry a liberal intellectual. But I swear to God, it's like you haven't been paying attention to American politics for twenty years. (I recognize from your other writings that this is not, in fact, true.)

And look where've you ended up. You are so eager to defend the complexity of Buckley's life, that you have to deliberately simplify the arguments of your interlocuters on this thread. No one has advocated Manichaeism. The rule we were arguing about was not whether we were allowed to mention the fact that Buckley advocated tattooing AIDS victims on the ass on the day of his death., or if that was rude.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:32 PM
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Fuck it, I'll just troll your sorry smug self-righteous asses, with WFB quotes from RedState.

Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views.

Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality, the costs become prohibitive.

...WFB
Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:32 PM
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OK, so I'll post something now, and then I have to go, certainly to be called "full of shit" again.

I wasn't living in MN that election, but I was visiting during Wellstone's funeral and I listened to it over MPR. Most of the service was in fact a quite reasonable and good cellbration of Paul's legacy, political and otherwise. I remember, perhaps incorrectly, things going south during Mike Hatch's speech and the final third of the service being "Paul fought against those horrible horrible people" stuff that just felt really out of keeping with the tone Paul had set for his campaigns. I know the Repubilcans beat this horse to death, but that doesn't change my point: Minnesotans responded to these attacks because they found their sense of decency violated by the whole thing.


Posted by: JPool | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:34 PM
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Wry: The race was close. Mondale was a weak candidate. But the funeral smear played a big role. In close races, stuff like that is especially important -- whim voters decide close elections.

When you say that people pay too much attention to these tempest in a teapot scandals, it's as if you're living in an alternate-universe US, a US without Karl Rove where Republcians were elected by..... magic, I guess.

On the decency issue: Caldwell, Noonan, and some of the others made the Democrat's indecency the issue. Karl Rove supporters (in Noonan's case almost certainly a Rove tool) drafted "decency" as Republican weapon to be used and then thrown back down in the mud until it would be needed again. An JPool here, self-described as a Wellstone admirer, remember the Republican storyline, and nothing else. Doesn't that tell you a.) that decency is really dead, and b.) that these are not "tempests in teapots", but effective Republican weapons.

Googling "Wellston Funeral" predominantly gets the Republican line.

And if anyone remembers Susan Smith any more, they probably vaguely remember that in the bad old Democratic days mothers murdered their children.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:34 PM
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193 - Hmm...I hadn't quite remembered how little time there was. Perhaps there was no better choice than Mondale. And perhaps the funeral stuff made a difference in that one race, given how close it was.

But I think elevating the Wellstone funeral to the lesson of 2002 is unwise. The key thing about 2002 is that the Democrats were weak and had no message, and were afraid to even talk about foreign policy.

I suppose that, if not for that, Mondale might have won. So then we have a 50-50 Senate instead of a 51-49 Republican one. Cleland was going down due to a massive Republican tide in Georgia that had little to do with Chambliss's disgusting attacks, and Jean Carnahan should never have run for re-election (and that certainly was a symbol of the Democrats' timidity) - appointed senators almost never win. Beyond that, a nominal Democratic majority in the Senate is entirely worthless. Would anything really have gone very differently even if Mondale and Carnahan had both pulled out wins and the Democrats had held onto their bare 51-49 majority in the Senate?


Posted by: Wry Cooter | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:34 PM
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196: I hadn't realized how crappy Jpool's comment was.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:37 PM
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191: I was basically saying that it's not terribly surprising when someone powerful dies and there's snarky "good riddance" commentary around the margins (e.g., in blog comment threads); and that beyond saying "it wouldn't hurt to wait a day or two," I don't really see the point of jumping on people for participating. If someone wrote a pissy eulogy in the NYT, then I'd be inclined to be on the "that's kind of tacky and undermines The Left" side of the argument, but blog comment threads? I'm more inclined to be on the, "eh, people are going to let off steam and I really don't think the comments have been *that* bad."


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:41 PM
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Walt: I have no beef with remembering Buckley's many heinous deeds and sayings on this day, any day, every day to follow for as long as anyone remembers him. But that isn't how I was reading you or John or Frowner. What I saw was that you were saying that was that's all that we should be talking about. Because everything else is just liberals being stupid about politics. I think the tent is big enough for Rick Perlstein's piece and for deLong reminding us that Buckley gave cover to McCarthyism and for PNH reminding us of his odious racism and for you all to get out the quote about tattooing AIDS sufferers. That's all good. The only thing I object to is folks saying what should and should not be remembered or said on the occasion of a death.


Posted by: Timothy Burke | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:44 PM
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I blame ill-timed criticism of the freshly dead Buckley on the speed of communication in the Internet age.

Between this and global climate change, is anything not the fault of Al Gore?


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:47 PM
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Wry: No one elevated the Wellstone funeral to THE lesson of 2002. I was just pointing out that for the Republicans, decency is a weapon to be used as convenient and to be trampled on the rest of the time.

In any case this isn't a strategy thread, it's an anti-decency thread. I have made no general assertion of the relative importance of smears, etc., in the Republican strategy, except to say that they're important. AFAICT the most general statement is yours -- that that stuff is overrated.

As I understand, Rove had motherlodes of smears and crack teams of smear artists at his beck and call, and when his numbers told him a race looked close he'd throw them in to turn the tide. In cases like that, if you can turn two percent of the voters a day or two before the election, you win. And in other cases the smears are used all election long to sap a candidate's strength.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:47 PM
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Note that I said nothing about sending Buckley to the hog farm. I showed that much decency at least.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:50 PM
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199: Pretty funny, my ass. Goddamn hilarious.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:51 PM
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I supported Alan Page (Minnesota Supreme Court, NFL Hall of Fame) to be the candidate. I was very disappointed when they wimped and went to Mondale. The DFL has an old-boy problem (not racism, but cautious party regulars).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:52 PM
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BTW, just for the record, I reject and denounce JPoole's comments. They are not representative of the JXxxx[x] community, nor of my own beliefs.

Thank you.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 3:55 PM
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On the Mondale tip, I would note that the NJ Dems threw in the retired Frank Lautenberg when their Senatorial candidate went down unexpectedly (I no longer recall why). Very much in the Mondale vein, right down to stepping into the Senate and instantly becoming a credible liberal voice (which I presume Mondale would have done).

Point being, on short notice, that sort of thing isn't a measurable error - you're making the best of a bad situation. TBH, Minnesotans should be ashamed for replacing Wellstone with Coleman* - talk about disrespecting the dead.

* Particularly since Coleman is such a tool - it's not like he was a respectable, credible candidate. He's a putz, and a majority of Minnesotans decided to memorialize a beloved leader by shitting on his grave.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 4:02 PM
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Do not shit ill on the dead.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 4:04 PM
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JRoth, it's not enough to reject and denounce. You must reject and denounce and repudiate, before making a recantation.


Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 4:05 PM
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213: Thanks for that; you all look alike to me.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 4:06 PM
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Looking back, I see that I pushed the conversation this way in 43 and that no, people aren't saying particularly terrible things about Buckley. And that there may not be anything especially ethical or politic or decent connected to my overall squeamishness with meanness.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 4:13 PM
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Sweet! Sybil says it's okay to be mean!

William F. Buckley was a friend and helper to many reprehensible racists and fascists! Pass it on! Fatty!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 4:16 PM
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Katie Couric just eulogised him, mentioning that without Billy B, "there wouldn't have been a conservative movement". In which case [and does Katie ever lie??], we must invent a time machine and go back and slaughter him in his cradle.

And yeah, the accent is upperclass New England. [Remember how Kate Hepburn spoke?] That Kennedy stuff is not.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 4:27 PM
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214

"On the Mondale tip, I would note that the NJ Dems threw in the retired Frank Lautenberg when their Senatorial candidate went down unexpectedly (I no longer recall why). Very much in the Mondale vein, right down to stepping into the Senate and instantly becoming a credible liberal voice (which I presume Mondale would have done)."

This isn't exactly correct, the Democrats pitched Torricelli overboard when (due to ethics problems) it looked like he might lose to a weak Republican.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 4:31 PM
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218:Dammit


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 4:32 PM
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Yes, Sybil's call for politeness has lead to reams of vituperation. Well played, Sybil.

Tim, everything you say is reasonable, but I'm still showing up at your funeral.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 4:39 PM
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222:Sometimes I think the big difference between leftists and liberals is that the Left knows we aren't the good guys in a melodrama.

The Rise of the Right was historically congruent with the decline of the American Left. This is not coincidence.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 4:41 PM
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I met Buckley when he spoke at my college and had maybe a three-minute conversation with him. He was totally pleasant and kept changing the subject from politics to sailing. No tips on lovin'.


Posted by: bill | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 5:12 PM
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220: I'm pretty sure that most folks consider Buckley's speech to have been a prime example of Mid-Atlantic English as discussed on a previous thread here at Unfogged.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 5:12 PM
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Does the NYT's use of this picture on their front page constitute speaking ill of the dead?


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 5:13 PM
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White People like to think of themselves as being decent human beings.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 5:15 PM
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228:Word

224 was me


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 5:26 PM
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Sybil, for what it's worth, I seldom object to stopping and asking myself, "But is this actually something I would want to be doing if I were more in control of myself?" Clue checks are good.

One way of looking at Buckley's legacy is that he did a huge amount to make sure that no current young man or woman with the desire to apply moderate erudition and upper-class style to politics will be welcome anywhere near power in conservative efforts. He helped enthrone the barbarians he saw everywhere but where they actually did gather, right around him.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 5:30 PM
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I just reread that Hunter Thompson eulogy. God, was that funny.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 5:37 PM
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I was thinking about making these comments at the CT thread, but CT has been chock-a-block full of wankers just lately.

Listen, liberals!

WFB's politics and activism weren't just some airy perversity that we can bemusedly debate over our tea and crumpets (that would be Ayn Rand's politics). Buckley was hunger and cold and police brutality to the poor. He was harassment and glass ceilings and forced pregnancies and blaming-the-victim for women. He was humiliation and bashing and foot-dragging on AIDS policy for gays. He was the check on essential freedoms for Black and Hispanic people. He was death and maimings and psychological trauma for US soldiers, and he was mass murder for the millions of victims of US imperialism around the world. He was no better than a Botha or an Amin or a Sharon or a Pol Pot.

So if you meet with these historians nice liberals
I'll tell you what to say
Tell them that the Nazis
Never really went away

They're out there burning houses down
And peddling racist lies
And we'll never rest again...
Until every Nazi dies...


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 5:51 PM
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You're too late, minneapolitan. We've reached comity.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 5:59 PM
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I was thinking about making these comments at the CT thread, but CT has been chock-a-block full of wankers just lately since the beginning of time.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 6:01 PM
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I also object to esteemed friend's stigmatization of wankers. Wankers are people too. If you prick us, do we not bleed?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 6:03 PM
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If your prick is bleeding, your wanking needs work.


Posted by: Bruce Baugh | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 6:06 PM
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233: Yeah, I know, story of my fuckin' life here. Monday would have been the first day of the rest of my life, BTW, and I could have commented while the discussions were hott, but unfortunately, just when I thought I was out, they lured me back in. So no commenting during business hours for me for the next 2 months, alas.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 6:06 PM
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One hopes that the pot was tremendously sweetened and that your indispensability has been recognized.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 6:21 PM
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Probably I should forget about tarining for the world 24-hr.orgasm record, which is some unbelievable number (ask Apo).


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 6:25 PM
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Any disparaging of WFB on this thread was more than offset by the lengthy apologia/encomium delivered on All Things Considered by the NYT's Sam Tanenhaus.

This has been yet another episode of "Gosh darn that liberal New York Times!"


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 6:41 PM
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> Any disparaging of WFB on this thread ...
> This has been yet another episode

NOTICE: This is a One-Liner Blog - Mr. Emerson has just exceeded the O'Reilly rule on pithiness, and will be rendered to Romania where he will be XXXXXXed and XXXXXed until he confesses to suicide unpithiness.



Posted by: Alex Constantine | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 7:45 PM
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I think ogged's gotten a pass in this whole thread for taking the 'don't immediately speak ill' position. What did you think would happen when you put up the post? The kindest thing you could have hoped for was relentless and obscene mockery. That's not what most people would consider acting 'out of respect for those individuals, and out of respect for the enormity of death, and out of humility about our ability to judge a person's life, we keep our mouths shut, at least for a little while.'


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 9:21 PM
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FL put up the post.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 9:25 PM
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Also: Buckley was an evil ratfucker and I'm glad people here are reminding me of all the ways in which he was so.

After Reagan died, I was grateful to the interwebs for providing an immediate counter to the mainstream St. Reagan crap.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 9:26 PM
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We all know that Labs loves stirring the shit.


Posted by: bitchphd | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 9:28 PM
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Well, shit. I blame Buckley for the mistake.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 9:28 PM
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It's okay. It's never wrong to be mad at Ogged.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 9:32 PM
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I have not read the whole thread, but am generally in agreement with John Emerson. It is a fact that he was not an entirely pleasant man, and just as it is good that his friends in high places celebrate him, it is equally good that the unpleasant facts of his life are pointed out. He was a public figure who indirectly affected a lot of people's lives, and there is no harm done in pointing this out.

I had the same problem when Ms. Bhutto was assasinated, she was not a nice person and had committed grave crimes when alive (including being responsible for the deaths of multitudes at the hands of terrorists). It was a bit galling to read people virtually canonizing her.

So. I have a question, would the same standard ("dont speak ill of the dead") be applicable to someone like say Mr. Pinochet, who has committed some pretty terrible crimes?


Posted by: The Blue Flautist | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 10:26 PM
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People are taking Buckley way too seriously. A second rate intellectual, moderately influential propagandist at best, and most importantly, utterly unoriginal. His views were always whatever conservatives thought at the time, not because he shaped conservatism, but because he regurgitated it. Some seem to want to take out their disgust at what conservatism is on Buckley, others prefer to forget the ugliness he represented to remember him as a charming and gracious individual. I lean towards the former, but I'm amused by how many the sides in this thread are mostly the reverse of the Castro one where in addition to the nasty ideology you got action as well.


Posted by: tkm | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 10:33 PM
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Bhutto is a weird case, because the circumstances of her death were in themselves heroic.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 02-27-08 10:42 PM
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If you're going to protest, may as well go to the funeral. Rev. Phelps has some tips.

Naah, Byron said it best:

Posterity will ne'er survey
A nobler grave than this
Here lie the bones of Castlereagh
Stop, traveller, and piss.

And that was after the fellow had killed himself having gone from prime minister to loony bin in a few short years. So anything anybody has said here about Buckley is small beer in comparison.

I'm glad he's dead, hope it hurt; just a pity the fucker got to live so long.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 12:56 AM
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250: Actually, I differ there. To be really uncharitable, she got the same death that she caused (indirectly when she was PM) to many others. Keep in mind that the Taliban grew to its present state when she ran Pakistan, and it was supported actively by her. As you can see, I really dont think much of her.


Posted by: The Blue Flautist | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 1:14 AM
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240: The Times' coverage of WFB's death has only been a bitter reminder of their crowing and preening when Derrida died. That they danced on the grave of a controversial but ultimately politically benign academic and then went on to praise a man that actively advocated the permanent disenfranchisement of "lesser" races speaks volumes.


Posted by: tw | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 1:32 AM
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251: Byron is a really charming choice as role model for one's decency of conduct in the world.


Posted by: Sybil Vane | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 5:38 AM
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their crowing and preening when Derrida died.

Oh Jesus, yes, that was very bad.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 7:35 AM
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Fuck a bunch of Buckley, Jr. He was a charming, funny, bastard, I'll give him that. I'm glad he lived long enough to watch his ideological heirs mock and ostracize him for being smart enough to see what fuck-ups they were and I'm glad he lived long enough to watch his magazine run by a pack of clowns.

I grew up watching Firing Line and reading the Blackford Oakes books and enjoying both at times. I have no trouble saying now that Buckley, Jr. was charming, entertaining, and a bastard. I like Ezra Pound and Louis-Ferdinand CĂ©line, too. Doesn't mean I need to whitewash their sins.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 7:38 AM
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the other day i watched a french movie
with Amelie's actress starring, forgot its title
so it's kind of what goes around comes around like stories, many people interact with each other, an illustrated karmic payout like, generally correct things told etc
but there was a weird scene when a young man, a romantic hero in the movie, being in unpleasant encounter with a black woman-prostitute who is generally a very unsympathetic character, she works as a security and was mean to a sick hobo
in the first scene
so he crashes a cockroach and puts it into the prostitute's coffee when she is absent at the table and she drinks it
a filthier thing i never saw in my life
and this is a romantic hero?
how he is different from the mean security guard?
the final scenes after that looked just ridiculous how they two, the heroine and the young man, find each other in this messy messy world


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 7:40 AM
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249: People are taking Buckley way too seriously. A second rate intellectual, moderately influential propagandist at best, and most importantly, utterly unoriginal.

That's basically just false. Starting about 1950, when American conservativism was very weak and dominated by know-nothings and anti-Semites, Buckley provided a focus for conservative revival. There was a pretty steady upward curve in respectability and influence for more than three decades, and he was always a player. For about the last 20 years he's been semi-retired, but he played an enormous role before then.

The mediocrity of political ideas is unimportant if they're influential. Even utter falsehood is unimportant, granted success.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 8:01 AM
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254: Yes, Dante is a far better model. I like the buried-in-shit-up-to-his-nose paradigm best.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02-28-08 8:03 AM
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