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Coalition of the Shilling
May 6, 2003 10:09 AM   Subscribe

The Coalition of the Shilling
Tired of killing Muslims, we are now trying to teach their survivors some democracy.
... this town shows virtually no interest in liberty, the Constitution, or democracy these days - except when prescribing them to those in far away lands.
... Don't be too hard on the Iraqis if they fall for it. After all, we did.


I may not agree with everything Sam Smith says but he does make some very good points about government and media today.
posted by nofundy (30 comments total)

 
When I was going on about the FEMA bit in the 80s I was called a kook and conspiracy theorist. I guess the contemporary Left is looking that way too, or at least portrayed that way in the media.

In any event, this clearly political FP post merely has me saying "Wake me when the zombie holocaust begins." Maybe then I can feel good about participating in a team sport again.
posted by infowar at 10:32 AM on May 6, 2003


So long as the author of this piece can publish this rant, then what he says is in fact untrue and he and the nation still have a freedom well beyond that allowed in many many nations.
posted by Postroad at 10:53 AM on May 6, 2003


"Then there is the most elitist media in American history demonstrating its love for democratic debate by blacklisting voices of dissent before and during the Iraq invasion, turning its airwaves over to spooks and military brass, and embedding itself without a hint of skepticism in the administration's agitprop."

Just like to note media has-been Chris Matthews was on The Daily Show show last night. Mr. Matthews referred to media focus groups as "peasants under glass."
posted by The Jesse Helms at 10:56 AM on May 6, 2003


Postroad: I love your "nothing to see here, please move along" derailment. How about addressing the article instead of your own perception of the article writer's agenda?
posted by Cerebus at 11:00 AM on May 6, 2003


I don't really understand how the "Progressive" affinity for liberty (this town shows virtually no interest in liberty) and the Constitution (the slow acculturation to unconstitutional behavior by police, military and prosecutors) and hatred of the free market (myth of inexorably beneficent predation) mesh together.

This isn't a snark. I really don't understand it.
posted by trharlan at 11:01 AM on May 6, 2003


trharlan plays dumb. film at 11.
posted by quonsar at 11:17 AM on May 6, 2003


I'll take "Because the free market has fsck-all to do with individual political rights and freedoms" for $200, Alex.
posted by Cerebus at 11:24 AM on May 6, 2003


...among them being that the curriculum is in the hands of the most authoritarian, deceitful, anti-democratic, and constitution-wrecking administration we've ever had.

Nice way to start an essay. What a turn-off.

and later, "...George Bush, but the president - though arrogant, proto-fascist bully he may be..."

...it is small wonder that so much of America no longer wishes to be America anymore.

Huh? Speak for yourself G.

There are some interesting tidbits and truths in there. But bundled together like he's done, it all just comes across as being a tad paranoid and conspiracy-this, conspiracy-that. It's always so easy for guys like this to sum things up by saying we had September 11th coming to us because of everything he just told us. I don't buy it.
posted by Witty at 11:25 AM on May 6, 2003


Postroad: I love your "nothing to see here, please move along" derailment. How about addressing the article instead of your own perception of the article writer's agenda?

For the same reason that almost everyone on the left would content themselves with trashing neo-nazis and their motives - when they claim the holocaust never "really" happened. To even start refuting it as though it is a credible perspective that requires reasoned debate is to acknowledge that it has intellectual legitimacy. (Good grief, this damn article actually speaks, with an apparently straight face, about the "myth" of the single Kennedy assassin - a myth created by "television" ... and you want this kook's article to be addressed as though it is serious?)

This rubbish follows the well-worn script of those on the radical fringe (left or right), which basically reduces to asserting that everything's gone to hell, and the "government" and the "media" have virtually everyone fooled. Everyone, that is, but the author, who's laser-like clarity of thought has pierced the veil of ignorance that deep and dark forces have woven around the consciousness of "the masses".

The last paragraph sums it up:

What has changed is the impunity with which those in power can act as though they believe something different. Washington has become the capital of great pretenders, where the powerful talk as democrats but walk as tyrants and where television and advanced agitprop have made it perfectly possible to create a dictatorship that the people still regard as a democracy. This is the same coalition of the shilling that now purports to export its sordid distortion of democracy to Baghdad. Don't be too hard on the Iraqis if they fall for it. After all, we did.

It's been quite awhile since I've read a paragraph as condescending towards the American people as that one.

And he's wrong. When he says ...

"The nation's capital has given up on the very principles it wants to teach the Iraqis. With such leadership, it is small wonder that so much of America no longer wishes to be America anymore."

... in an attempt to assert that he has some sort of popular support for his argument ... he is wrong. According to polls, most of the country likes America (in fact, horror of horrors, the majority of Americans actually like Bush) and wouldn't want to live anywhere else. It understands democracy is messy, and rarely achieves an ideal state. The typical tactic of extremists is to compare a really jaded, conspiracy-ridden view of the current world against some ideal state that has never (and probably will never) exist in practice ... and then call the current leadership corrupt because they don't live up to that ideal, and imply that the American public is composed of foolish dupes because they haven't arrived at the same viewpoint.

Americans are actually pretty sharp people on the whole. In fact, what most of them are most unlikely to "fall for" is the notion that this fellow's big stream of nasty-tempered bilgewater paints anything even remotely like an accurate picture of America.
posted by MidasMulligan at 12:12 PM on May 6, 2003


I'll take "Because the free market has fsck-all to do with individual political rights and freedoms" for $200, Alex.

Bzzzz. Sorry, wrong.
posted by wrffr at 12:28 PM on May 6, 2003


I'll take "Because the free market has fsck-all to do with individual political rights and freedoms" for $200, Alex.

Bzzzz. Sorry, wrong.
posted by wrffr at 12:28 PM PST on May 6

-> So does that make the PRC free? What about Hong Kong or Singapore? What is the relationship between free markets and political liberty?
posted by infowar at 12:38 PM on May 6, 2003


There's three examples of free markets without political liberty. Got any examples of political liberty without free markets?
posted by timeistight at 12:44 PM on May 6, 2003


There's three examples of free markets without political liberty. Got any examples of political liberty without free markets?

Ding ding ding! timeistight wins the daily double!
posted by wrffr at 12:48 PM on May 6, 2003


Got any examples of political liberty without free markets?

Uh, how about most of western Europe? In terms of political liberty they compare on average pretty well with what we have here, and none of them have unregulated commerce.

Untrammelled corporate power is antithetical to human liberties, and the founding fathers knew it. I can't find a simple text of Jefferson's original proposed 11th amendment, but after a quick Google here's an article (try to see past the partisanship of the setting) which discusses its relevance.
posted by George_Spiggott at 12:56 PM on May 6, 2003


Why exactly shouldn't the owners of Walmart be able to decide what products they sell? It's not as if they are shutting down Maxim. They're just choosing not to sell it. BFD.
posted by UncleFes at 1:34 PM on May 6, 2003


'free markets' == unrestrained theft.
posted by quonsar at 1:35 PM on May 6, 2003


Fuckity fuck. I'm one thread off. Please ignore me. Sorry to throw a wrench.
posted by UncleFes at 1:40 PM on May 6, 2003


I've never done this before (and maybe I shouldn't but...), here' goes.

Metafilter: Fuckity fuck. I'm one thread off.
posted by Witty at 1:50 PM on May 6, 2003


If we really had a free market, I'd be able to buy crack at the pharmacy.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 2:21 PM on May 6, 2003


none of them have unregulated commerce

Are we talking about free markets or unregulated commerce? Nobody has unregulated commerce.
posted by timeistight at 2:21 PM on May 6, 2003


As usual, Sam Smith tells the truth.

To even start refuting it as though it is a credible perspective that requires reasoned debate is to acknowledge that it has intellectual legitimacy.

Translation: the poster is ill-equipped to refute, and so will resort to misrepresenting the author's points and calling the author a "kook".

And the author wasn't discussing popular support for his position. He was describing a retreat by Americans from longstanding American principles, which doesn't have anything to do with your little screed about polls showing support for America or Bush. You might want to read more carefully before you let slip such errant, jerky knees.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 3:17 PM on May 6, 2003


Translation: the poster is ill-equipped to refute, and so will resort to misrepresenting the author's points and calling the author a "kook".

No. Some assertions are self-refuting, by which I mean that they are so obviously divorced from reality that no reasonable person would find it a worthwhile use of their time to debate the issue. Simply hearing the proposition is enough to dismiss it. People who earnestly hold such views (by which I mean they are not trolling) are legitimately called kooks.
posted by kindall at 4:32 PM on May 6, 2003


To even start refuting it as though it is a credible perspective that requires reasoned debate is to acknowledge that it has intellectual legitimacy.

Translation: the poster is ill-equipped to refute, and so will resort to misrepresenting the author's points and calling the author a "kook".


Yes ... actually this is how my post would probably translate into the strange universe the guy lives in. It is also the normal response from any member of the Federated Union of Crazy Kooks With Idiotic Theses.

From the aformentioned right wing "No Holocaust" folks, and Buchananites who assert that everything from income tax to membership in the UN is really unconstitutional, to the left wing Sam Smiths, Oliver Stones, and Ruckus Society folks ("Anarchism has got a really bad rap, like communism.").

In fact the farther towards the fringe someone gets, the more they get dismissed as banal idiots, the more likely they are to assert (and really believe) that people are resorting to attacking them personally because their ideas are sooooo powerful and correct that no one can refute them.

Yeah, right.

(PS. I lile that phrase kindall ... "self-refuting". It is kind of the intellectual analog of a suicide bomber - when the act of simply stating an argument fully is, in and of itself, enough to discredit the argument being stated. Sam Smith kinda specializes in that. Really, it's quite a talent.)
posted by MidasMulligan at 6:53 PM on May 6, 2003


Metafilter: Opinions are like assholes.
posted by velacroix at 9:28 PM on May 6, 2003


Well worth the read. Thanks nofundy.
posted by muckster at 10:19 PM on May 6, 2003


You're very welcome muckster. Too bad others didn't read the article and discuss it's merits (or lack thereof, depending upon viewpoint.) Seems some would rather shout down any opinion perceived contrary to their own rather than read, learn, and discuss.
posted by nofundy at 4:59 AM on May 7, 2003


Basically, the guy is saying that since retired generals make good managers and 89% of police departments have SWAT teams and Continuity of Government procedures were developed decades ago under the real threat of Mutually Assured Destruction, the military takeover of the United States is imminent. He's a conspiracy theorist.

He seems to think that a retired general working as a librarian means that someone out there is planning to overthrow the Constitution.

He also thinks that democracy is dysfunctional if those elected to govern are more knowledgable about the inner workings of politics and government than the citizens they represent. Well duh-huh, they're supposed to be.
posted by techgnollogic at 6:03 AM on May 7, 2003


Midas,

When half of the people in this country believe Iraq had something to do with 9/11, I wouldn't be so quick to label them as "sharp."
posted by drstrangelove at 8:15 AM on May 7, 2003


nofundy: How do you know who read it or not? Who trying to shut your thread down? We read it and commented on it. Sorry it didn't go your way.
posted by Witty at 8:56 AM on May 7, 2003


I just want to point out something that midas et al have completely missed the point on:

Sam Smith writes:

What has changed is the impunity with which those in power can act as though they believe something different. Washington has become the capital of great pretenders, where the powerful talk as democrats but walk as tyrants and where television and advanced agitprop have made it perfectly possible to create a dictatorship that the people still regard as a democracy.

To which Midas chimes in:

It's been quite awhile since I've read a paragraph as condescending towards the American people as that one.

You took issue with perhaps the single most powerful paragraph in the essay. It's pretty hilarious how you guys flutter to the instances of semantic and rhetorical effect and not the issue that Sam Smith put right into your effin' face.

Read it again: television and advanced agitprop have made it perfectly possible to create a dictatorship that the people still regard as a democracy.

You, of all people Midas, are of the opinion, that:

Americans are actually pretty sharp people on the whole. In fact, what most of them are most unlikely to "fall for" is the notion that this fellow's big stream of nasty-tempered bilgewater paints anything even remotely like an accurate picture of America.

Which would make you tend to agree with the reason Sam Smith included this interesting quote:

Also in the mid 90s, Stephen Rosenfeld of the Washington Post wrote a strange and scary column praising one of the Army's advocates of Dunlap's bad dream. Rosenfeld described US Army Major Ralph Peters this way:

"At home, use of the military appears inevitable to him -- though not yet to an American consensus -- 'at least on our borders and in some urban environments' . . . He deplores our military's reluctance to join the war on drugs, which he attributes to a fear of failure. He would dutifully prepare for the traditionally 'military' missions, plus the new one of missile defense. But he would be ready to engage with drugs and crime, terrorism, peacekeeping, illegal immigration, disease control, resource protection, evacuation of endangered citizens . . ."


So let me get this straight. Sam Smith writes a whole essay detailing, exposing if you will, the filthy anti-democratic deals done by corporate elites and corrupt representatives to the good American public and you denounce it as condescending and "the typical tactic of extremists is to compare a really jaded, conspiracy-ridden view of the current world against some ideal state that has never (and probably will never) exist in practice ... and then call the current leadership corrupt because they don't live up to that ideal, and imply that the American public is composed of foolish dupes because they haven't arrived at the same viewpoint.?

I'm curious, do you think there is a conspiracy of people who actually, shockingly believe that corporate, elitist filth has subverted American democracy? Do you also believe in Enron, ClearChannel, World Com, Qwest ad infinitum? If you believe in the existence of any of the above companies then you must also be familiar with their histories and their connections to political power.

And you find this once again, condescending?

. . .television and advanced agitprop have made it perfectly possible to create a dictatorship that the people still regard as a democracy.

You're clearly one of them.
posted by crasspastor at 5:00 PM on May 7, 2003


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