I think…


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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64 Responses

  1. Avatar Roque Nuevo says:

    Could you do me a favor? When you link to Andrew Sullivan, could you make that clear in the link itself somehow? That way I wouldn’t have to click on the link and get frustrated because it’s Andrew Sullivan BS again and then click “back” etc etc. Just as a favor, that’s all…Report

  2. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Use Firefox and hit ctrl when you click a link – that opens it up in a different tab. Then you don’t have to bother with the “back” button.Report

  3. Avatar Roque Nuevo says:

    That’s what I do. But it’s annoying to see Sullivan open up in a new tab and then have to close it and go back to what I was reading before. If you made it clear that you were linking to him, you’d save me some aggravation.Report

  4. RN:
    Usually if you just scroll over a link without clicking on it, it will give you the address of the outgoing link.Report

  5. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    I’ve had people complain of the same thing re: Miss Malkin. Sorry, but I can’t give spoiler alerts for everyone’s taste…Report

  6. Avatar angulimala says:

    Don’t limit it to waterboarding.

    The argument that just because something is not torture when performed voluntarily under one set of circumstances that it cannot be torture when applied forcefully to a person in detention and under interrogation.

    Everyone voluntarily engages in sex. Does that mean that rape isn’t torture? I knew a girl who came harder if she was chocked during sex. Does that mean that it isn’t torture to choke unwilling detainees? The examples are too numerous to mention.

    The argument is so ridiculous that I often question if it is being offered in good faith. It isn’t hard to notice that the same people who swear these techniques are not torture almost always also swear that the terrorists deserve to be tortured.Report

  7. Avatar Gus says:

    Right wing nuts have rendered the both the word conservative and the word liberal meaningless. They are now working on socialism and fascism as well.Report

  8. Avatar j says:

    Fox is trashy and awful, especially Beck and Hannity. Ifyou listen though, OReilly is much less predictable, and sometimes rather moderate. On gay issues for example, his tone is sometimes respectful of the gay rights advocates (NOT the nuts in San Fran trashing churches), and he ran Colbert’s spoof on gay marriage with a VERY light hearted reference to those people going to hell.Report

  9. Avatar j says:

    Andrew Sullivan links to all kinds of interesting things, but he has become a repetitive, un-nuanced nut on Palin and torture, and most of all Obama, for whom he has endless creativity with which to justify all things. He is making a fool of himself shilling for Obama on EVERYTHING.Report

  10. Avatar Ottovbvs says:

    Fox News is a business. Like any business it identifies a market demographic. Fox’s demographic is basically working class and middle class movement conservatives of one sort and another. These people have religious, militaristic or social hot buttons and Fox knows how to push them. Many of them also respond to populist trash talk. It’s that simple.Report

  11. Avatar RWB says:

    There does seem to have been a change. In the past, the left would be thought of as the boorish, uncultured guys–union members and working class socialists who vastly prefer a baseball game to a symphony. The right were the cultured, educated elite–the country club set that sat on the board of the local symphony.

    Now, for reasons I don’t fully understand, the culture has semi-reversed itself–which gives the right license to call the left a bunch of museum-going, NPR-listening, latte-sipping elitists. And to distinguish themselves from these high-culture liberals, the right seems to have adapted a working class knuckle-dragger pose.

    I think these cliches are absurd and are basically unrelated to people’s actual politics. (I am certain many liberals will be watching Crank II this weekend and many conservatives going to the symphony–neither of which has anything to do with their politics.)Report

  12. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    j – that’s Andrew’s style, though. He uses his medium, and his repetitiveness, as a way to drive his points home, and indeed he often oversteps – which is probably a symptom of posting upwards of 300 times a week….

    …this is also likely why this little unimportant rant of mine gets linked but my two-thousand word yawner on some other, non-divisive issue does not I suppose, so good with the bad….Report

  13. Avatar Harry says:

    The best way to look at Fox News is as a brilliant media product, one which is perfectly designed for its target audience and which succeeds
    because it gives its audience exactly what it wants. Just keep in mind
    that the same “conservative” company responsible for Bill O’Reilly and
    his culture war is also responsible for the Simpsons and Family Guy and

  14. Avatar E.D. Kain says:


    Now, for reasons I don’t fully understand, the culture has semi-reversed itself–which gives the right license to call the left a bunch of museum-going, NPR-listening, latte-sipping elitists. And to distinguish themselves from these high-culture liberals, the right seems to have adapted a working class knuckle-dragger pose.

    Good point. I suppose the caricature of working class folk as “knuckle-draggers” is also part of the problem. Many working class people I know also appreciate higher culture, and certainly I think there is a market for it. The media, and specifically the conservative media (as it relates to this post) could do better and quit appealing to the lowest common denominator.Report

  15. Avatar Matt says:

    Per j: Andrew Sullivan is an “Un-nuanced nut about torture.”

    Because, really, torture is where you want people’s arguments to be nuanced. (And this immediately following his comment defending O’Reilly, the king of nuance.)Report

  16. Avatar R says:

    Andrew Sullivan has been Brilliant in his approach. He is certainly not making a fool of himself. Obama has a nuanced approach to politics. It takes one of intellectual honesty to get. Clearly Sullivan gets it. The time for hard criticism for Obama may be necessary, but its only been 4 months.

    Fox news is a Joke, a painful Joke.Report

  17. Avatar charles says:

    Ah, but Fox News is “conservative” if you consider conservatism to be a mere marketing gimmick, in the same way that Air America radio is “liberal.” The distinction between Fox and NPR is not conservative versus liberal, but low-brow versus high-brow entertainment. Or some might say entertainment versus news, or unserious versus serious news. Sports versus athletics.

    Sadly, I think too many people mistake the marketing hype for their “team” with the actual substance of their politics.Report

  18. Avatar Matt says:

    Fox News resembles nothing so much as prole-feed. Buckley must be spinning in his grave.

    When you stop and think about it, it is truly a marvel worthy of admiration that a bunch of extremely rich people have actually managed to convince lower- and middle-class conservatives to favor tax cuts for the super-rich and to oppose the estate tax, which affects only the tiniest fraction of uber-wealthy people and, even then, still leaves them millionaires. Prole-feed is indeed very effective!Report

  19. Avatar SplendidOne says:

    charles – I think you have it. It’s all about your team, as in the one you are a fan of or, in earlier times and other cultures, your tribe.Report

  20. Avatar Chris says:

    Matt: “Because, really, torture is where you want people’s arguments to be nuanced.”


    I’ll never get why people think Sullivan on the level of Limbaugh. There’s a severe difference between neurotic and downright inhumane.Report

  21. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    I wonder about the chasm between the two parts of the “conservatives”….on one hand the base worships Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin…..but the intellectual conservatives like Reihan and Frum utterly reject Palin and Beck.
    TAS and the Gentlemen aren’t even discussing this..Suderman fiddles with culture while the GOP crashes in flames…..Reihan blows Palin off on the Daily Beast and opens himself up to a ritual scourging by fellow “conservatives” that call him a muslim and a “salami”. And I thought catholicguilt was bad!
    Glenn Beck is an insane clown…even Charles Johnson can see that……until the intellectual wing of the conservative party can call him out on that….you are all just juggalos as far as the eye can see.Report

  22. Avatar truthynesslover says:

    What is a sociopath?No conscience,no shame and no empathy.Thats the new conservative model.Report

  23. Avatar SomeCallMeTim says:

    Now, for reasons I don’t fully understand, the culture has semi-reversed itself

    I think the apparent change in tone reflects a change in the underlying location of votes for each party. In 1956–or a year after Buckley founds the Nat’l Review–Stevenson only picks up electoral votes in seven southern states. The culture hasn’t changed; the parties have.Report

  24. Avatar Julian says:

    I don’t necessarily think there’s anything basically conservative about the approach taken by NPR. NPR is reasonable, measured, and non-sensationalist. While on the subject, Sullivan continues to make a similar mistake in relation to Burke and the founding philosophy of our Federation. Neither side, philosophically or politically, has a monopoly on being sensible; this is an attribute of approach and tone, something applied to, not inherent in, a certain mode of thought.

    Fox News is conservative in that it champions conservative politics. One can do that with a calm mind and a logical approach, or one can do it with a red face spewing spittle-flecked invective and constantly accusing those you disagree with of being inhuman traitors. This is intemperate, not radical, and the policies championed by Fox News do not become radical simply because they are pushed with intemperate, dismissive, imperiousness.

    In its focus on multiculturalism, civil rights, internationalism, humanism, and a pantheist approach to religious issues, NPR is a liberal spot on the dial. It is simply a sensible, generally inoffensive spot that sees no contradiction in celebrating the American experience while not ignoring the darker places in its history. This message being portrayed in measured tones and without offensive assertions does not make it any less liberal. I some conservatives may be used to thinking of the left as insane and unworthy of consideration, but perhaps its time you abandon such simple dichotomies, not simply try to redefine the reasonable sections of the left into the conservative camp.Report

  25. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    matako – I thought we’d done a lot of that, discussing the two types of conservative appeal, the Palin vs. Burke thing ad nauseum….and over at TAS. Think we need more of it?Report

  26. From E.D:

    Why have they conceded defeat there – in the arts, in literature, in music – trading it instead for trash television and cheap rhetoric?

    I don’t know what’s more troubling. The notion that most conservatives behave like O’Reilly and Beck or that liberals believe it. I generally assume most liberals aren’t clones of Kieth Olbermann (O’Reilly’s liberal twin) or Bill Maher. I just wish intelligent conservatives could get the same from the Left.Report

  27. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    btw, E. D.
    BillO isn’t the face of the base…..Beck is.
    Own it.Report

  28. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Mike, conservatives at large are not helping this perception. This is largely the Fox News quotient, but it was also the fervor over Palin; it’s also the Tea Parties; it’s the tone, I think. The message is lost, or when it’s clear it’s divisive. The Left are no angels, and have been in a similar place before, but that’s no argument. This isn’t really about the Left vs the Right; it’s about the Right vs the Right.Report

  29. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Andrew picked his pic, not me. I mentioned Beck….or am I missing your point?Report

  30. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    “Think we need more of it?”

    Beck is an insane clown. I don’t see you guys calling that a’tall.
    There is a giant disconnect between the base and the leadership.
    Subtle contrast between Palinism and Burkian philosophies aren’t going to penetrate.
    How any sapient human can watch Beck and not recoil in horrified incredulous loathing is purely beyond me.
    York asks …why is the Left still so angry?
    The answer is….because the Right is still so stupid.Report

  31. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    “The message is lost, or when it’s clear it’s divisive. ”
    Exactly….the SNR is very low.
    The teaparty message is supposed to be anti-establishment, but its wholly swamped in anti-Obama noise.
    Conservatives just look like sore loozers trying a head fake.Report

  32. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    Even BillO and Dennis Miller see how insane Beck is.
    Shep Smith too.
    But the base adores him.
    Palin redux.Report

  33. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    E.D. …..you are lumping BillO and Hannity in with Beck.
    Do you honestly not see a difference?Report

  34. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Of course I do, matako. Beck is the logical extension of O’Reilly and Hannity. He’s the only way to top them. He’s the way to expand ratings, the one to raise the roof.Report

  35. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    I think it would be instructive to analyze the mob psychology themes that Beck is openly exploiting. The whole conspiracy theory mantra, the juxtaposition of pictures of Hitler and Stalin with President Obama in full wall slide shows, chanting “Obama the Messiah” to the tune of the Soviet nat’l anthem.
    Its the Dark Carnival all over.
    Do these things have consequences?Report

  36. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Sadly, they probably do matako. This is fire we’re playing with.Report

  37. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    So….what you doing about it, E.D. ?
    More importantly, is Ross going to address it, your figurehead, your intellectual factotem?
    Or just continue to wink and look the other way?Report

  38. Avatar Mark says:


    I beg to differ on NPR’s political slant. I don’t disagree that it is more focused on stories “multiculturalism, civil rights [and] internationalism,” but it is by no means liberal.

    If you look at studies of who’s actually speaking on NPR, you’ll find that men outnumber women; whites far outnumber ethnic and racial minorities; conservatives outnumber liberals; Republicans outnumber Democrats; CFR outnumbers any liberal think tank, etc, etc…

    NPR, like every supposedly “liberal” major media outlet in this country, rolled over for Bush. It’s not like we look back and say “Wow, the NPR commentariat so presciently opposed the torture regime.” Or “Wow, while everybody else was whipped up in a war frenzy, NPR was opposed to the war and the attacks on our civil rights.” Didn’t happen. NPR is, at best, centrist, but really a little bit Republican.Report

  39. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Unless I’m entirely mistaken I believe I devote a tremendous portion of my writing to this subject, matako. If you’re stating that I need to specifically write about the dangers of Glenn Beck, well, I mean how much can one write about that? He’s a fraud, a phony, and he’s toying with our more dangerous instincts. That’s very dishonest and possibly could lead to some wingnuts taking matters into their own hands – but honestly, I’m not sure anything can be done about it. Maybe he’ll have a King Fisher moment.Report

  40. Avatar Kovacs says:

    Thanks for the interesting post. This has gotten at two points I’ve thought about for a while: that FNC’s distinguishing characteristic, even more than its conservatism, is its tabloid mentality–the GOP talking points are always chockablock with junk news, sensational murders and tawdry sex stories; and that if you listen to “All Things Considered,” you’ll be a more well-rounded person than any corresponding 90 minutes of Rush Limbaugh or Fox News. Even if you grant the liberal bias, you’ll still hear stories about authors, artists, other cultures, human interest–stuff that has nothing to do with partisan politics, and is anathema to Hannity-lovers and dittoheads.Report

  41. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    “He’s a fraud, a phony, and he’s toying with our more dangerous instincts. That’s very dishonest and possibly could lead to some wingnuts taking matters into their own hands”
    Yes! I would like to see ALL of the rightside brain-trust publically repudiate Beck.
    And I would, actually, like to a see a post by you devoted just to Beck. Rather than lump him in with Hannity and BillO who seem innocuous and harmless by comparison.
    I think Beck is a dangerously toxic individual with a huge dedicated following, quite shockingly similiar to Insane Clown Posse and the juggalos.
    E.D. …….what responsibility does the intellectual leadership of the conservative movement owe its constituents?
    Douthat et al spent a lot of pixels justifying Rush.
    Can they justify Beck?Report

  42. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    I’m not sure justification or even explanation is the right approach for Beck (or Rush for that matter). I consider them self-defeating; weeds in the grass – indeed, toxic. If I were offering a critique of the Left I’d have no good comparison – similar figures, yes, but none quite so outlandish (at least within the ranks of the punditry) and this is a vital problem with the right in America. It has invoked fear instead of caution; reaction instead of skepticism; certainty instead of doubt; and the beat goes on…

    Maybe I can lick something together on Beck.Report

  43. Avatar William Brafford says:

    I was going to stay out of this, but if we’re going to play the comparison game: Glenn Beck is to ICP as Sean Hannity is to Korn?Report

  44. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Speaking of ICP – don’t ever have it on when some half-drunk hillbilly drops acid for the first time and wants to get in a fight. It only makes matters worse.Report

  45. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Hannity is Israel, Beck is Palestine?Report

  46. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Jaybird – NOOOOOOOO!!!!!Report

  47. Avatar Jaybird says:

    The comparison to Insane Clown Posse is an exceptionally good one, I think. An ICP shirt tells me “you probably don’t want to interact with this person” while, at the same time, the people holding up signs saying “something ought to be done about this insane clown posse” give, strangely enough, an *IDENTICAL* signal of equal strength (and sometimes greater).

    I don’t know about you guys but when I was a kid, the political commentators were much better. They wore ties and were measured and you felt like you were sitting in a room with grownups. Now it’s just people yelling into microphones and there’s no artistry. Same for music. Elton John, now there was a showman who could really play the piano. The musicians these days put their crap into pitch correcting software and they still sound like crap with inane lyrics about dumb stuff. How can you screw up a love song? Wake me up when this generation produces a Bootsy.Report

  48. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    “I consider them self-defeating; weeds in the grass – indeed, toxic. ”

    The problem is…the base thinks Beck is the second coming.
    Someone needs to disabuse them.
    The base may force Palin as the nominee….I see that as essentially harmless.
    She will just lose.
    But Beck’s juggalo posse is growing, and some of them are actually convinced that Obama IS Hitler and hes gonna take their guns.Report

  49. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    Jaybird meet Sonny.
    My favorite.
    Dude, the music never dies…..it evolves.Report

  50. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    Seal your lips with the black stich of a secret
    Parade with the speechless dryness of the desert
    Lay flat under the limelight you feed off of the fiction
    Cold calloused and boiled between the bleak deep of your dirty hands

  51. Avatar kormgar says:

    Becks juggalo posse…


  52. Avatar Jaybird says:

    “some of them are actually convinced that Obama IS Hitler and hes gonna take their guns.”

    This strikes me as similar to blaming Marilyn Manson for Columbine. Yes, the music is antisocial and he, himself, is not that attractive a pitchman (though he’s a lot better on, say, Politically Incorrect than 95% of the people who tend to show up).

    The problem isn’t Manson. The problem isn’t Beck.Report

  53. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    Consider the DHS report…..do you hear Malkin saying NOOOOO that isn’t us!
    We aren’t sociopathic proto-assassins and bombers!……..nope, instead….she gets pissed at the feebs!!! and Obama!!! because this is just a HUGE conspiracy to smear conservatives and keep “teh message” (w/e the f**k that is) from getting to the “American people”.Report

  54. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    “The problem isn’t Beck.”

    I suggest you haven’t actually watched Beck.
    And the Columbine killahs lissened to KRMS, not Marilyn.Report

  55. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    Don’t you see the comparison between Malkin’s Obama conspiracy theories, “Socialist America”, and the Dark Carnival?
    Malkin is a juggalette.Report

  56. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    And the Columbine killahs “theme” band was KMFDM.
    Theres the hookup……ICP is to Glenn Beck as KMFDM is to the Columbine killahs.Report

  57. Avatar matoko_chan says:

    Hannity can be Marilyn Manson.

  58. NPR ain’t highbrow. It’s middlebrow, like the NY Times Magazine.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that, if you don’t mind prep-school Bolshevism.Report

  59. Avatar dubiousraves says:

    Julian, you say “Fox News is conservative in that it champions conservative politics.”

    Since when does conservative politics include support for torture, executive branch lawbreaking and suppression of science?Report