Give Goldberg a Chance

Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does many things. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Paris Bureau" from Dio Press (early 2021).

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53 Responses

  1. Here’s what I want to know about Goldberg: How do you go from 568 Amazon reviews for your first book to 3 for your second? What kind of career trajectory is that?Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Tony Comstock says:

      I think it’s all in the titles. You call a book “Liberal Fascism” and it’s going to provoke a response. It reminds me of the old Buck Henry sketch on SNL where he’s a talk radio show how and nobody’s calling in so he starts saying things like, “Babies- I’m against them! Call in and tell me what you think!”Report

      • Tony Comstock in reply to Rufus F. says:

        And he only brought 2% along to the next book? Not a good sign for him or his movement.

        As to NRO, Salon, etc, tell me again why I’d be reading either one? Oh right, I don’t. I don’t think I’ve seen a timely thought referenced at either of the publications in the entire time I’ve been online, which predates both of them.Report

      • Koz in reply to Rufus F. says:

        And also the subject matter. One meta-lesson of Jonah’s book was how many relatively apolitical American conservatives have indiscriminately been called fascists, and how tired they are of it.Report

  2. Mike Schilling says:

    It is a pretty stupid column, though, for Goldberg, unremarkably so. Not that there’s anything wrong with his main point — it’s the drive-by sneers, most of them idiotic, that give it that unmistakable flavor of inanity.

    But compared to the stuff Lisa Schiffren writes for NR (e.g. the fact that Obama’s mother married a black man proves that she was a communist) Goldberg is de Tocqueville.Report

    • Ah, I just think of it as shtick. You write for conservatives and that’s the shtick you use. You write for liberals and it’s a different shtick. If I agree with someone’s main argument, I don’t care if he wants to think I’m a free-love hippie or a capitalist zealot for agreeing. Whatever. Let’s agree on the main point and go get a beer.Report

      • Will H. in reply to Rufus F. says:

        I get sick of hearing that sort of thing too, but it’s really one of the benefits of Obama being elected.
        Conservative authors no longer need to go through how much they hate the Clintons to establish their conservative bona fides before they get on to making their main point.
        I wasn’t sure if I would ever live to see that.Report

  3. Rufus F. says:

    Just a note: I did put this in ‘off the cuff’ because it felt pretty tossed off to me. But I do appreciate the vote of confidence from whoever smuggled it across the border.

    Also, the Goldberg Thesis (as opposed to any Goldberg Variations) reminded me of this old Robert Anton Wilson line: “It only takes 20 years for a liberal to become a conservative without changing a single idea.”Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to Rufus F. says:

      That would be me, Rufus. It didn’t belong on the sidebar…Report

    • Heidegger in reply to Rufus F. says:

      “Also, the Goldberg Thesis (as opposed to any Goldberg Variations)….” Ah, mercifully, finally, a breath of fresh air…BACH!!! The Immortal Goldbergs. And GG, in the ultimate musical Nirvanic Zone, spinning the Aria into a state of total, complete timelessness. Hear, listen, for yourselves, please may all of you oppressively ponderous, desultory Libertarians not all be bloodless Philistines. Doesn’t the excruciating weight of your dour, spiritless, vigorless, excruciatingly pedantic rhetoric make all of you want to scream? Ever??? Here’s Glenn to liberate you. Please, close your eyes, breathe deeply, and allow yourselves to kiss the face of God! Yes, you too, atheists!! Do Hitler and Ghandi really occupy the same void, the same void that swallows every living, sentient, breathing being upon death? Allow your souls to awaken. Why condemn yourselves to such a colorless, prosaic, banal Universe? Everything that is, was, and shall forever be, is here, in every blessed, glorious, wondrous, moment–Liberation is at hand!! And none other than J.S Bach is going to unlock the chains of your spiritual confinement–ENJOY!

      “There is something in it of Divinity more than the ear discovers: it is an Hieroglyphical and shadowed lesson of the whole World, and creatures of God; such a melody to the ear, as the whole World, well understood, would afford the understanding. In brief, it is a sensible fit of that harmony which intellectually sounds in the ears of God.”Report

      • Mike Schilling in reply to Heidegger says:

        Again, I prefer period instruments, even if Mr. Pinnock isn’t the genius Mr. Gould was.Report

        • Heidegger in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          Mike, oh yes, also absolutely LOVE period instruments. I had the great experience of playing these Goldbergs on a clavichord my brother built. A small, relatively quiet instrument but oh, what expressive capabilities it had!! Somewhat lute-like, much different than a harpsichord, if you know what I mean. I’m also very happy you love Bach. Uh-oh, looks like I stepped in it again.Take that last sentence. Do you have any idea of how an innocent statement like that would result in me being taken to woodshed? Libertarians: What precisely do you mean by love? This is a profound fallacy. This is is elitist. This is illogical. This is authoritarian. Music has nothing to do with the existence of God. And blah, blah, freaking blah. You know what I mean, Mike. And, yes, I DO love Landowska on the harpsichord! All the best in 2011!Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to Heidegger says:

            If I believed in God, the first movement of the Fifth Brandenburg would be one of the reasons.Report

            • Heidegger in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              Mike, certainly, an excellent choice. It’s interesting that there appear to be an inordinate, disproportionate number of atheists among Libertarians, at least as represented on this Libertarian website. I suspect, it can’t be a coincidence. Even, among scientists, both social and natural, the number is around 60% believe in a God, 40% don’t or are agnostics. Among the general population it’s about 73% believers, 27% non or agnostics. There has to be a logical reason why atheists are so attracted to Libertarianism. I’m inclined to believe very deep-seated anger and resentment at always being thought of as “outcasts” and social “misfits” plays a significant role. Again, Libertariansm providing the safe, welcome refuge with all the concomitant tribal rules, strategies, and hierarchies playing out. The obvious advantage to being an atheist is that, beyond your own moral ethics, there is no accounting to any higher authority, no worry of moral sanctions, no accountability to any God. There are considerably fewer moral and ethical demands placed on oneself with the absence of God. It’s quite obvious, Libertarianism and atheism make perfect bedfellows on that alone. Not having to answer to a higher authority whether government of God. Just idle thoughts….Report

      • Heidegger in reply to Heidegger says:

        It appears I have my very own little Krazy Korner. Would it be acceptable to manufacture my own posts and my own commenters–no one would need to read any of it. Everyone’s all made up, not real. A totally fictitious creation. I’d love to hear spirited debates between Beethoven and Mozart. Nixon getting drunk with Kissinger. Liszt and Chopin trying to seduce the same woman. Einstein debating Newton. Jesus debating Buddha. And I get to make everything up! I get to create every character. Leonardo debates Maplethorpe. I’ll even be more than happy and pay for rental space on this site. How about Hitler debating Thomas Jefferson!!! I LOVE it! Again, I get to invent and create all characters and dialogue. I may even have to ban certain moral reprobates but that’s no problem. LOOG does, after all, have some blogging standards. Thanks, gentlemen and scholars!Report

  4. Jaybird says:

    In that vein, I thought I’d check The Corner and see what’s happening.

    The top post is from Vicky Dave Mmmbop (I can’t believe that that phrase doesn’t show up in Google!!! And, Taylor Hanson has four kids! I’m so old!) and it’s a post complaining about liberal opposition to ROTC in the post-DADT era.

    Number 8 is on the topic of “Self-congratulation” and mentions the Orwell.

    Anyway, I thought that that was Ironic like Alanis Morissette having a son on Christmas Day.Report

    • Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

      There’s also a post by Stanley Kurtz decrying ” the adoption of a federally guaranteed annual income, and a giant leap toward American socialism”, something favored only by Commies like our Jason.Report

  5. Mike Farmer says:

    The gay couples I know are pretty conventional in their day to day lives. I suppose that as contrasted to public perception, it is ironic. The Gay Pride parades might have caused the cognitive dissonance which struck Goldberg.Report

    • Trumwill in reply to Mike Farmer says:

      It’s also the case that those most conspicuously gay are far more likely than those you inadvertently discover are gay to live up to certain stereotypes and be… well… conspicuous with their differentness. So when a lot of people think of gays, they think of that guy that lives up to the part.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Mike Farmer says:

      Mike, at this point I might sounds nuts already, but I also thought there was a sort of dry wit to what Goldberg was saying there that was probably intended. If you read that piece as if it was written by Steven Colbert, I think a lot of the irony comes through.Report

  6. Koz says:

    For some reason liberals can’t entertain any rational thoughts at all when the subject turns to Jonah Goldberg, Megan McArdle or William Kristol. They are personally unabrasive, and make their living in punditry arguing for this or that. But somehow it’s a group solidarity ritual to hate any of these three (or a few others, but they’re the ones who come to mind) as though they were the Object of a Two-Minute Hate, like Emmanuel Goldstein in 1984.

    There’s not a whole lot that’s good about liberals’ political inclinations, but there are two that are just horrifically awful. The first is misanthropy against the likes of Jonah.

    The second is the inability, in certain circumstances, to contemplate that a contrary argument actually exists and that some subset of people believe it. This is different in very important ways than just disagreeing with someone. Mickey Kaus gives a great example an explanation of this about halfway down this link:

    • Rufus F. in reply to Koz says:

      Yeah, I wonder if there isn’t a sort of amateur/professional rivalry going on with pundits. I used to see that with bands- everyone would like a band until they’d sign with a major label and get on the radio and then, all of a sudden, everyone hates them.

      With McArdle, she can be a bit funny because sometimes she’ll write about a topic I know and, when she gets something blatanly wrong and someone else points it out, she’ll just try to b.s. her way through it, “Oh, well I knew that. I was right all along- just right in a way too subtle for the likes of you to pick up on!” But, you know, I just find that sort of thing amusing. And it’s pretty absurd anyway the expectation that pundits should know about every topic under the sun. Also, let’s be honest, her occasional flubs don’t make McArdle the worst blogger in history and the darkest hour of the Atlantic like some bloggers clearly think she is.Report

      • Tony Comstock in reply to Rufus F. says:

        Ms. McArdle has a talent for dropping Leona Helmsleyesque bon mots that leave me breathless. (Her description of her feeling of post 9/11 shame when she had to attend a performance of rent in shabby clothes is, in my opinion, her all time pinnacle in this regard.)

        But the The Atlantic Food channel has long since eclipsed Megan is this regard. I push back against the deluge of Tuscan villa dropping with frequent mentions of my leaky 30 year-old plastic sail boat with many bluewater miles under her keel!Report

        • North in reply to Tony Comstock says:

          Megan’s a fun read. She can be bad about peddling back when she’s wrong but she’s often right and pretty witty.
          Her fiasco with HCR was a train wreck though, she pretty much said anyone who thought it would pass was insane and then took it passing as a personal offence. Watching her dodging the entire crow she was supposed to eat for months after that was a bit unnerving.Report

          • Rufus F. in reply to North says:

            I had a running McArdle joke going on another message board in which, for weeks after the bill passed, I would post “I now give this bill only a 25% chance of passing”. But, again, you know, it wasn’t any more mean-spirited than any of the jokes I make about any of the other Atlantic bloggers I read (meep! meep!)Report

            • North in reply to Rufus F. says:

              Yeah lol, oh lord Sully and his roadrunner Obama stuff. And yet still I read him every day.Report

            • Koz in reply to Rufus F. says:

              I don’t think Megan has much to be ashamed of on that score. The date rape quality of the passage of the health care bill was a new low in American politics.

              Narrowly speaking those of us who read those particular tea leaves wrong ~Feb 2010 (Keith Hennessy thought the probability of passage was around 0% at that time) misjudged the unwillingness of the Demo House to pass the Senate bill unchanged to be more significant than it turned out to be.Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to Koz says:

                I don’t expect her to be ashamed when she gets things wrong. Actually, I don’t really mind anyway, because other people can just blog their corrections. An occasional “Oh, my bad!” would be nice though.

                To be honest, I wasn’t thinking of healthcare. The example I had in mind: she’s posted a few times now about the discontinuity between professors being left wingers who, hypothetically, support better labor conditions, while hiring so many adjuncts. My first thought is usually, “Wait- professors aren’t the ones who open hiring lines.” I’m pretty sure others have pointed that out, but I don’t remember her ever writing, “oh yeah, that’s right.”Report

              • Koz in reply to Rufus F. says:

                I only vaguely remember what you’re talking about. From my pov, the real problem with adjuncts is their willingness to indefinitely work in that situation.

                “My first thought is usually, “Wait- professors aren’t the ones who open hiring lines.””

                Is that right? High-level university administrators are almost always professors iirc. And even if the overall university budget is set by the state legislature or some other outside entity, the division of spoils between tenured faculty vs. adjuncts and non-tenured assistant professors is definitely something that the faculty as a whole has control of.Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to Koz says:

                I think profs should be more up-in-arms about the situation- sure. It’s grating to hear them go on about sweatshop conditions in Guatamala between their sabbaticals. Of course I’m pretty biased about this. But, at least at our university, the profs don’t get to hire anyone until the admins consent to opening a hiring line and pretty much n0ne of our admins are former faculty, or anyone with any experience in a lecture hall, which is probably a whole other rant. Also, none of our admins are remotely left-wingers. Now, really, I don’t know if it’s a good or bad thing that our left-leaning professors don’t control the till.

                As for adjuncts, they absolutely need to do a better job of organizing and demanding better conditions of employment. If universities want to phase out tenure (and they do indeed), there needs to be something better than adjuncting because asking your next generation of bright young people to give up nearly a decade of their lives and take out thousands of dollars in debt for the chance to schlep around the country working temporary jobs with no job security whatsoever, and no respect besides, to cobble together enough courses to earn on the low end of between 20-30 thousand a year- well, it’s not a winning long-term plan. I suspect that what’s really happening is that adjuncts do it for a few years and leave for greener pastures, just like high school teachers.Report

              • Koz in reply to Rufus F. says:

                Ok, we agree to a significant extent then. As far as adjuncts go, I suspect that the best solution doesn’t involve unionization but the private sector (and here I’m thinking of people who have gotten the terminal degree in the geekier fields). But at least so far it hasn’t worked out that way. The possibility of being an associate professor at Albuquerque State Community College seems to outweigh anything Motorola can offer.

                As far as Megan goes, I don’t remember exactly what she’s written about this. It is fair to say that tenured faculty are aggressive in agitating for as small a teaching load as is humanly possible. That leaves the actual teaching to be done by non-tenured assistant profs, adjuncts and grad students. It seems reasonable to me that the profs should bear some amount of responsibility for this.Report

  7. Steve S. says:

    I only read a couple of paragraphs other than the one you quoted and had to stop because I could see where it was going; bald assertion of harebrained theses. If someone finds something resembling argument or insight in the rest of the piece please let know, otherwise I’d prefer to keep those minutes of my life.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Steve S. says:

      No, I think my second paragraph covers the column in two sentences, so don’t worry about skipping it.Report

      • Steve S. in reply to Rufus F. says:

        “He argues that the current goals of the gay rights movement are, essentially, bourgeois if not conservative”

        To be precise, in the bits of his piece that I read he argues that a past, monolithic gay rights movement had subversive goals, in contrast to now. I see no reason to take a silly claim like that seriously, so I stopped reading at that point. Whatever goals a supposed left movement has — workers’ rights, civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights — become “bourgeois” once they are attained, virtually by definition, do they not? Hence my observation that, partisan tone aside, there is nothing particularly interesting or insightful in what Goldberg is saying. So thank you for confirming that the rest is similarly impoverished.Report

  8. J. Peron says:

    Mr. Goldberg actually speaks of the Right-wing version of the Gay Left, not the reality. Most gays consider themselves on the Left, but then given the way the Right treats them, this is only to be expected. Most gays simply aren’t masochists (another “conservative” value perhaps).

    But what the Right refuses to do is look at the conglomerate of people who are gay, as opposed to merely Left-wing activists. The gay community was always bigger and more diverse than the stereotype of them. But the Right continued to use the stereotype and some Left-wing activists did so as well, as it benefitted both of their agendas.

    The movement for gay marriage did NOT originate with the main “gay rights organizations.” I remember well that these activists were telling proponents of gay marriage that the timing was wrong, that other agendas were more important, that America wasn’t ready, that it would embarrass the Democrats, that the Republicans would use it, on and on and on. They have every reason they could imagine, some valid, many not, to oppose a push for marriage equality. But they didn’t count on the pent up desire within the broader community for precisely that sort of agenda.

    My analysis is heavily reliant upon the age demographics and the period since the rise of gay libertarian. There is a “baby boomer” generation within the gay community very different from the one that is usually meant by that term. That is a huge number of “gay” people were born simultaneously on June 28, 1969. Yes, they were gay before that date but not officially. That was the day of the Stonewall riots which was a tidal wave of change within the gay community. When gay people fought back against police harassment (state harassment) the gay rights movement was really and truly born. There were glimmers of it prior to that day: Mattachine Society, protests at the White House in the 60s, but very little and very closeted. They were still in womb, so to speak, but on June 28, 1969, a birth took place. And it changed the gay community.

    For the first time large numbers of gay people were open about their sexuality. And younger gays found it easier to be open as well. The gay movement was in its adolescence then and it acted similarly to adolescents the world over. It was louder, more abrasive, and definitely wanted to have fun. But its members and the movement aged and people settled down and formed relationships. And those relationships became long-term relationships and they once again found themselves under a barrage of state laws that hurt them as a couple. And they got pissed off.

    The professional activists were more worried about the Democratic Party than the gay community and told these gay couples to settled down and live with it, at least until the promised Utopia of the Democratic Party comes into existence. And, true to their roots, the gay community told the leaders to STFU and lobbied for change anyway.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to J. Peron says:

      This is a good history of the issues. I hope I didn’t give the idea that gay marriage was first proposed by the gay left because, as you say here, that’s not how I remember it at all.

      I wonder- is the next stage going to be one in which the political parties finally have no say in these matters because there’s full equality under the law, and so no particular hold on gay voters? It seems to be happening anyway and you’d think it would put the GOP in a rush to give gays all the legal rights of heterosexuals.Report

      • J. Peron in reply to Rufus F. says:

        My apologies if I gave the impression that I thought you were saying that. I didn’t mean to do so. I was outlining my thoughts on where the marriage equality movement came from, not trying to directly respond to what you said. I was expanding the topic, not replying.

        But the problem I do have is the term “the gay left.” Most the people in the gay community would consider themselves on the Left, but the Right gives them little choice in that. So it is necessary to distinguish Left–wing “activists” versus the rank and file members of the gay left, which is most gay people. That is where there is a disconnect.

        The rank and file “gay left” is not the same as the activists who lead organizations. And I would say that they are far more decent people (from a libertarian view) than the top leadership of the gay political movement. Marriage equality is like a Tea Party movement on the Left. It came from the bottom-up, and did so in the face of opposition from the professional leadership.Report

  9. trizzlor says:

    I think you’re cutting Goldberg quite a bit of slack on that excerpt. The whole driving thesis of his article is that the left is inherently both anti-family and anti-military and their gay core is now ripe for co-opting. That he states this so matter-of-factly is what’s galling: he doesn’t begin with a quote from a prominent leftist, nor a singular anecdote, nor even the observations of a cab-driver. Rather, he simply gestures to some something “two decades ago” and builds the rest of the column from there.

    To Goldberg, the lefty principles of progressive taxation, gay rights, and a limited military are synonymous with being against soldiers and families. They are so synonymous, in fact, that he now predicts the left to turn on gays and drive them into the arms of conservatives. This kind of baseless yet deeply personal jab at on end of the political spectrum seems more than mere shtick.Report