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December 22, 2004 6:51 AM   Subscribe

James Lileks vs. James Wolcott. That link is Wolcott's blog entry about this whole "Merry Christmas" vs. "Happy Holidays" thing. This is Lileks' response. Can't wait for Round 2!
posted by braun_richard (121 comments total)

 
Lileks understands why "Merry Christmas" is disappearing. He even comes right out and says it when he writes "...if the term has faded from the common language of advertising, then it reflects something in the culture", but then he spends another several paragraphs trying to make us believe he doesn't understand it, by instead blaming the "overculture".

I didn't know what "overculture" meant, but thankfully he also provided the definition: " ... twitchy, cheery, idiot blare produced by a stratum of coastal types who think the rest of America truly gives a shite whether Lindsay Lohan lost her Blackbird at a party last week, and who actually know who Anna Wintour looks like."

And then it all became crystal-clear to me.

Bloggers killed Christmas.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:20 AM on December 22, 2004


My money is on Wolcott.
Lileks is an idiot.
And tell Mary Rosh I said so.
posted by nofundy at 7:24 AM on December 22, 2004


This is kind of funny- this morning someone gave me an invitation to News Corp's Holiday Party from a few weeks ago. Interesting how Bill O'Reilly hasn't managed to condemn his employer on the Factor yet.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 7:27 AM on December 22, 2004


I just want to take this opportunity to wish everybody a Happy Holidays!
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:29 AM on December 22, 2004


but I dasn’t let on what I really feel

He's doing blackface now? What a tool.
posted by trondant at 7:32 AM on December 22, 2004


Monju included the Jews! Thanks, Monju!

-- the Jews
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 7:33 AM on December 22, 2004


Lindsay Lohan lost her Blackbird at a party last week,
Is this some sort of euphemism I'm not yet familiar with?

posted by Wolfdog at 7:38 AM on December 22, 2004


When someone spends this much time rebutting what amounts to a few throwaway observations, what occurs to me is, "Methinks thou dost protest too much", and thus the thought that Woolcott has nailed Lileks perfectly.

And Lileks knows it.
posted by Mike D at 7:39 AM on December 22, 2004


Lilek: Wank wank wank.
Wolcott: Wanka-wanka wank.
Lilek: Wankedy-wank, wankedy wank!
Wolwott: A-wanka, a-wanka? Wanker!

I feel somehow... validated... by all these goings on...
posted by JollyWanker at 7:40 AM on December 22, 2004


Lileks found it interesting that when he said "Merry Christmas" to some mall employees they didn't immediately know how to respond.

My guess is that polite people don't wander the streets or the mall wishing strangers a merry Christmas anymore, because more and more people do not celebrate Christmas. It's considered somewhat impolite to assume someone celebrates Christmas. I would be somewhat taken aback if someone were to approach me at the mall and say "Have a great Kwanzaa."

As far as a listing of seasonal stamps from the post office that do not include Christmas - I would like to see that link.
posted by xammerboy at 7:41 AM on December 22, 2004


Lilek does have a point about the USPS inconsistency: if they can say "Happy Hanukah" then they should be able to say "Merry Christmas."

Other than that, he doesn't have much of a point.

This reminds me of a story I heard from a friend who moved to Georgia. The most common introductory question there was not "what do you do?" or "where do you live?" but "what church do you go to?"

Since my friend didn't go to any church, this led to a number of awkward exchanges.
posted by alms at 7:42 AM on December 22, 2004


From the Lileks retort: Well. If they’re saying Merry Christmas on the Upper West Side, then obviously my first-hand observations in Minnesota shopping malls are baseless.

As a student of the ancient art of sarcasm, I see Lileks as Darth Vader-- I dislike him and the ends towards which he uses his gift, but I have to admire his prowess.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:42 AM on December 22, 2004


My feeling about the particular stamps that Lileks was looking at is that he was probably looking at a "catch all other than Christmas" listing. A set of stamps that mentions Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and a Holiday traditional" sounds to me like something I might buy to send some Christmas cards to my non-Christian friends. I would be shocked if I couldn't find Merry Christmas stamps in abundance.
posted by xammerboy at 7:45 AM on December 22, 2004


I can't wait until April or so, when Lileks complains that even with drugstore shelves crammed with chocolate and jelly beans and strange men dressed as bunnies taking pictures with young children in shopping malls, he is personally aggrieved when a supermarket cashier won't wish him a Happy Easter, which is his God-given right as an American to expect.

Oh, and here's an example of how the Postal Service shies away from Christmas. I guess he's bothered that Christmas is listed under a category called Holiday and not "Christmas and Lesser Holidays".
posted by turaho at 7:47 AM on December 22, 2004


"coastal types"?
posted by 40 Watt at 7:47 AM on December 22, 2004


The assumption being made by the post office in that case is that you've already bought a set of Merry X-Mas stamps. Instead of supporting Lileks suggestion that the post office is afraid to say the word "Christmas" I think it shows the opposite bias. The post office assumes you have tons of X-Mas friends and assumes you only have one or two friends that celebrate Chanukah, Kwanzaa, or something else.

Which supposition is more reasonable? Mine, or that the post office is afraid to make Merry Christmas stamps?
posted by xammerboy at 7:50 AM on December 22, 2004


Lileks doesn't know what he's talking about, at least when it comes to the stamps. Compare the Hannukah stamp and the Kwanzaa stamp to the Christmas stamp.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 7:50 AM on December 22, 2004


The holiday season is a 45 day (or so) period that includes secular holidays like Thanksgiving and New Years Eve/Day, religious holidays like Ramadan (sometimes), Chanukah and Christmas.

The right wing nuts are protesting that the religious aspects of Christmas are being attacked because Macy's is asking its salespeople to wish "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas", but this and other such things are actually the secularization of Christmas.

The HOLY portion of Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, not about buying makeup or dodging perfume sellers. It is not about floats in parades, or neon Merry Xmas signs. It's not about Santa, decorated pine trees or greeting cards. It is about faith, love and Jesus Christ.

Over the years there has been an added secular overlay of Christmas, which is OK. I like the tree (decorated mine last night with my five month old daughter!) and the greeting cards and the presents and the big dinners and Santa and stockings and all the rest of it. It's a great time, but these parts of it are not Holy. They are secular.

For Christians the Holy should be for December 25th, not for the rest of the holiday season. It shouldn't slip out to December 12th, or the front door of Macy's, or the top of the Denver municipal building. That is secular, and if it stays or goes should not be a religious concern.

In fact, by fighting to protect all of that these people are cheapening the Holy nature of the day. They should lay off and go to church or have some other religious remembrance this Saturday.
posted by nathanrudy at 7:52 AM on December 22, 2004


Wolcott wins. Why? Because he seems to have read what Lileks wrote and is actually responding to it.

Lileks, on the other hand, first mischaracterizes what he wrote in the original column: "The column addressed religion only to note that it’s an honor to have someone wish me happiness on a day that’s central to their creed, whatever it might be. " Actually, the column was a shrill screed about how people seem terrified of talking about Christmas, saying Happy Holidays instead. Religion is implied from the first sentence to the last.

Then he mischaracterizes what Wolcott wrote, despite quoting it extensively: "Did I mention Macy’s? I did not." (Lileks seems to miss the fact that Wolcott stopped writing about him after two paragraphs.)

Someone on MeFi called Lileks a genius the other day. Geniuses have sharp minds, and are good at details of their chosen profession. Lileks doesn't qualify. Wolcott may.
posted by barjo at 7:55 AM on December 22, 2004


Just want to point out that the posted link says the Macy's ban on its salespeople wishing others a Merry Christmas is not true.
posted by xammerboy at 7:56 AM on December 22, 2004


If you look at the link to the Postal store you can see that every Christmas stamp is referred to merely as Holiday and the other holiday stamps are referred to by holiday name. I take this to mean something different than Lileks does. I take it to mean when the word "holiday" is mentioned by the postal service they assume everyone understands they mean Christmas.

Again, to me, that speaks of a huge bias toward Christmas as a "the" holiday, not a shying away from it.
posted by xammerboy at 8:02 AM on December 22, 2004


Lileks seems to miss the fact that Wolcott stopped writing about him after two paragraphs.

I imagine that's a common theme in his life.

Lileks was mildly amusing as a collector of kitschy Americana. As a wannabe pundit, he's a longer winded and less amusing version of Ed Anger.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:06 AM on December 22, 2004


...what occurs to me is, "Methinks thou dost protest too much", and thus the thought that Woolcott has nailed Lileks perfectly.

And Lileks knows it.


The at length ham handedness suggested as much to me as well.
posted by y2karl at 8:07 AM on December 22, 2004


Lileks is pretty intellectually dishonest. OH GOD NO THE STAMP SAYS CHRISTMAS BUT THE WEBSITE SELLING IT DOESN'T REPEAT THE WORD BECAUSE IT'S ONLY VALID IF YOU SAY IT A BUNCH OH THE HUMANITY
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:09 AM on December 22, 2004


Someone on MeFi called Lileks a genius the other day. Geniuses have sharp minds, and are good at details of their chosen profession. Lileks doesn't qualify. Wolcott may.

Given your definition, I would say Lileks qualifies, but Wolcott certainly does not. But you say Tomayto, I say Tomahto.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:11 AM on December 22, 2004


nathanrudy: It might be interesting for you to look into the actual secular roots of Christmas as a holiday. The Bible doesn't mention Dec. 25th at all. I've read that it would actually be sometime in the spring. Also, the holiday didn't really become the big deal that it is in America, really, until all the accoutrements and gift-giving traditions were brought over from Germany and northern European nations - thus the emphasis on winter. (If you've ever celebrated a Christmas in Louisiana, say, in 75 degree weather, you get the oddity of this.) And the roots of all that were of the almost purely pagan variety.
posted by raysmj at 8:11 AM on December 22, 2004


bias toward Christmas as a "the" holiday

Now, I'm no fan of Christianity (or of any religion), but for more than three-quarters of the United States' population, Christmas *is* "the" holiday (and I would guess that a large portion of the "nonreglious" folks there consider Christmas "the" Winter holiday).
posted by uncleozzy at 8:11 AM on December 22, 2004


Conservatives should believe in civility, as civility is one of the things at the base of a smoothly functioning and respectful society. It is uncivil to wish strangers a Merry Christmas when you do not know their religious preferences. Conservatives who insist on wishing everyone a Merry Christmas are jerks. People who do not believe in Christmas, but wish a conservative Happy Holidays are promoting peace and goodwill. I am promoting peace and goodwill. If I could get a promotion for Christmas I would have a lot more goodwill to promote.
posted by OmieWise at 8:12 AM on December 22, 2004


Note to self: Vanity Fair obviously has higher standards than the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Over the years there has been an added secular overlay of Christmas, which is OK.

Oh, that's fucking hilarious. Over the years, there has been a Christian overlay of pagan winter festivals (Yule, Mithras, Saturnalia), which, I suppose, is OK. And over the years, Christmas has been revived and retained its popularity precisely because it's been stripped of its religiosity. Thank Charles Dickens for that one. There ain't no Jesus in 'A Christmas Carol', and what we now celebrate is more or less 'Scroogemas'.

Let's get this straight. Christmas is a jumbled-up palimpsest holiday. In the Anglo-American tradition, there has never been a purely religious Christmas, and I double-dare anyone to provide evidence to the contrary. The Puritan settlers in America didn't even celebrate it, because they thought it was a Papist (or Anglican) excuse for a piss-up in the dark days of winter. Which it was, is, and every shall be, Amen.
posted by riviera at 8:13 AM on December 22, 2004


"Can't wait for round 2"?

Please, just poke out my eyes with knitting needles -- that would be much less painful than having to read another smarmy Lileks column.

I used to like what he wrote, back in the day, but over the past two or three years I've not been able to stomach the bilge he produces.

His "writing" usually reduces me to tears -- how can someone be so stupid? How, o ye gods, how?
posted by mooncrow at 8:15 AM on December 22, 2004


If I said "Merry Christmas" to someone and they appeared to be taken aback, I would assume that the person who was taken aback didn't celebrate Christmas themselves and was, perhaps, as surprised as I might be if someone came up to me on Friday and wished me a good Shabbes.

Mr. Lileks, however, leaps with alacrity to the conclusion that the store clerk must be a victim of the Great Anti-Christmas Conspiracy. Santa needs to leave a case of Occam's Razor in his stocking.

I adore Mr. Lileks in his role as a chronicler of the charming weirdnesses of the past. As an editorialist, he's worth about one metric lark's fart.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:18 AM on December 22, 2004


I just want to take this opportunity to wish everybody a Happy Holidays!

As a depressed person, I take offense at your exclusionary tactics. Am I a second-class citizen, merely because I choose not to be happy?
posted by fungible at 8:19 AM on December 22, 2004


Never read him before this, but I get the feeling Woolcott took great joy in rattling Lileks' cage and getting him to react.

I suspect he'll do it again. We all have our sports.
posted by chicobangs at 8:21 AM on December 22, 2004


I dearly wish Lileks would segregate his blog into Punditry and Non-Punditry sections. He writes cheerfully and sometimes movingly on his kid and dog and run-of-the-mill homeowner foibles and whatnot--probably because they're actually things he understands and isn't staggering from strawman to misunderstanding to invalid (but pretty-sounding) analogy to force factor ten what-the-fuck?s about.
posted by Drastic at 8:27 AM on December 22, 2004


What I said above? Armitage Shanks said it better, and somehow I missed it on scroll:

Lileks was mildly amusing as a collector of kitschy Americana. As a wannabe pundit, he's a longer winded and less amusing version of Ed Anger.

"I'd be over there fighting now, if it weren't for this dang steel plate in my head!" Hee. Ed Anger.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:31 AM on December 22, 2004


Lileks is an interesting read some of the time but I find his over long essays tedious and boring. I got a paragraph into his rebuttal before something shiny caught my eye and I remembered that I couldn't give a damn.

By the way, people who say "Merry Christmas" offend me as a cynical agnostic.

Just like people who "God Bless You" when I sneeze in public.

I just don't get the mentality of a group trying to force the rest of the world to kow-tow to their beliefs when they are incredibly disrespectful of other beliefs.
posted by fenriq at 8:38 AM on December 22, 2004


As an editorialist, he's worth about one metric lark's fart.

...and...

As a depressed person, I take offense at your exclusionary tactics.

Hah! I love it! 'Tis the season!
posted by 327.ca at 8:38 AM on December 22, 2004


Late to the party. When did that funny "gallery of regrettable foods" guy morph into this shrill wingnut?
posted by felix betachat at 8:39 AM on December 22, 2004


What riviera said.
posted by nofundy at 8:44 AM on December 22, 2004


The holiday season is a 45 day (or so) period that includes secular holidays like Thanksgiving and New Years Eve/Day, religious holidays like Ramadan (sometimes), Chanukah and Christmas. [emphasis mine]

Replace "sometimes" with "rarely" and you'll have it right. Ramadan moves back about 10 days each year, and even this year it ended a few weeks before (U.S.) Thanksgiving. See here for Ramadan dates for 1997-2020. (Scroll down to "Ramadan starts;" also note "'Id al Fitr" which is the first day after Ramadan.) So please don't lump Ramadan in with the "holiday season" holidays.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:44 AM on December 22, 2004


When did that funny "gallery of regrettable foods" guy morph into this shrill wingnut?

September 11, 2001, at approximately 9:03 AM EST.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 8:46 AM on December 22, 2004


thanks riviera, i just learned a new word : "palimpsest". how cool is that?
posted by littlegirlblue at 8:55 AM on December 22, 2004


Yeah, what riviera said.

FWIW- I have been given a Holiday-type greeting only once so far this season and that was a "Merry Christmas" from the young lady who got me my order at a neighborhood Asian-food restaurant.
posted by jaronson at 8:58 AM on December 22, 2004


I'm shocked 1016 hasn't posted yet.
posted by drezdn at 9:08 AM on December 22, 2004


I think we all know who to blame for this blasphemy. His name is Bush.
(Chuckles.) Thank you all.

Q (Off mike.)

PRESIDENT BUSH: Huh?

Q Are you going to the Rose Bowl?

PRESIDENT BUSH: No, I won't be going to the Rose Bowl. I'll be watching the Rose Bowl.

And by the way, in case you're not following high school football in Texas --

Q (Laughs.)

PRESIDENT BUSH: -- you're -- atta boy, Jackson -- the Crawford Pirates are the state 2-A, Division 2, champs. And we look forward, don't we, to wave the championship banner above the Crawford High School.

All right. Happy holidays.
Doesn't he know, as Lileks does, that saying "Happy Holidays" is akin to declaring one's undying belief in Satanism?
posted by wah at 9:27 AM on December 22, 2004


What riviera said.

always. I'm thinking of buying myself a "what riviera said" username

another favorite of mine, "WTF?" is already taken, by the way
posted by matteo at 9:29 AM on December 22, 2004


I have my troubles with Lileks, but I have to say I'm disappointed with the conversation here. He's not an "idiot" or a "wingnut" or a "tool" -- there are plenty of those, and Lileks isn't one. He's frustrating, but he's very much worth keeping around (you want a world without frustration?).

The worst we could say about Lileks is that, after all the verbal calisthenics and protestations he goes through, he winds up as merely a Republican. That is, I wish he'd devote his energies to his overall thinking instead of his sentence-by-sentence wit, which is enormous. If he did he wouldn't lapse into gaffes like "coastal types" or his reflexive comparisons with Life a Half-Century Ago (which proves what, again?).

I still remember his argument (circa late 2002) that the invasion of Iraq would be a bloody horse's head in the bed of every Arab dictator. Moderately clever. Now: Why couldn't he use that cleverness to recognize that he's using the freakin' Mafia as a model for our foreign policy? And a movie about the Mafia at that?
posted by argybarg at 9:31 AM on December 22, 2004


God example of naval gazing. We have gone from He Said/She said, to He said/he said in return/and said back/and He saild responded with etc

Outsource all bloggers!
posted by Postroad at 9:36 AM on December 22, 2004


I'm surprised that 1313 hasn't posted yet.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:45 AM on December 22, 2004


I'm thinking of buying myself a "what riviera said" username ...
posted by matteo at 9:29 AM PST on December 22


what matteo said. :-) (is that meta or what?)

And I'm getting a "what matteo said" username too 'cause he's pretty awesome himself!
posted by nofundy at 9:46 AM on December 22, 2004


Wolcott stings like a bee, but Lileks's long response, pulling out clever-sounding metaphors to simulate wit at a desperate pace, shows he's just a clumsy n00b. That crack about the uteruses of Manhattanite women was just ugly, too.
posted by inksyndicate at 9:46 AM on December 22, 2004


For Christians the Holy should be for December 25th, not for the rest of the holiday season. It shouldn't slip out to December 12th, or the front door of Macy's, or the top of the Denver municipal building. That is secular, and if it stays or goes should not be a religious concern.

Lots of Christians celebrate Advent during the four weeks preceding Christmas. However, there isn't a convenient vernacular catchphrase for wishing someone an Advent so most of them, at least, use Merry Christmas as a substitute. Which is fine because Advent, theologically, is really about anticipating Christmas.

In terms of the general population I think the phrase Merry Christmas is not necessarily specific to an occasion or specific day but more of a general anticipatory farewell like 'Have a Good Weekend.'
posted by Endymion at 9:47 AM on December 22, 2004


I'm surprised that 1313 hasn't posted yet.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 9:45 AM PST on December 22


He did, just under another name. (Some say its Mary Rosh!)
Hint: Look in the threads for "Lileks is a genuis" comment.
posted by nofundy at 9:48 AM on December 22, 2004


Why couldn't he use that cleverness to recognize that he's using the freakin' Mafia as a model for our foreign policy? And a movie about the Mafia at that?

Because he's an idiot, a wingnut, and a tool who lives in a weird bubble of unreality? That would be my guess.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:50 AM on December 22, 2004


The worst we could say about Lileks is that, after all the verbal calisthenics and protestations he goes through, he winds up as merely a Republican.

At this point, he's more like a caricature of the Angry Heartland Republican. I mean, in this article alone:

"stratum of coastal types"

"a certain segment of a narrow island attached to the East Coast"

"I don’t think people in the Evil Coastal Godless Baal-Loving Media hate Christianity. I’m sure some hold it in disinterested contempt,"

"chic upper-left-side Mo-Dowd demographic whose uteruses have turned to something indistinguishable from papyri rescued from Herculanuem"

This isn't good writing; it's just obsessive blather pandering to a shrinking and increasingly nasty fan base.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 10:00 AM on December 22, 2004


That last one continues to bug me. Is he trying to imply that menopause somehow disqualifies one from rational thought? Because that is SO fucked up in SO many ways.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:09 AM on December 22, 2004


Lilek: Wank wank wank.
Wolcott: Wanka-wanka wank.
Lilek: Wankedy-wank, wankedy wank!
Wolwott: A-wanka, a-wanka? Wanker!


That about sums it up. Why are we reading this again? Are we gonna be subjected to a post every time some blogger cranks have a dust-up?
posted by rushmc at 10:10 AM on December 22, 2004


No, that last one is a reference to the fact that all liberals have had at least one abortion.
posted by wah at 10:12 AM on December 22, 2004


What inksyndicate said, among others.

It's not just that Lileks' reply was verbose and desperate; it's that it was embarrassingly addle-brained. Woolcott uses rapier wit to dispatch Lileks ("I think he's right" catching the reader up, before clarifying that he's agreeing instead with Lileks' disclaimers - "It [is] just him, he is overly sensitive, and he doesn't get it, whatever 'it' is") and still has time to mock Glenn Reynolds ("I've noticed the same thing," he posts, before lowering periscope") with laugh-inducing imagery before tying up the whole subject with a red-&-green bow in five paragraphs. Lileks goes on for screens and screens, specifically attempting to mock a given line of Woolcott's (e.g. "blogger beloved in the daycare community" or the "Macy's" ref) and then deciding later that he didn't hit quite the right note and having a whole nother go at it from a different angle.

Kind of pathetic, actually. But fun holiday-time reading, so... to answer you, rushmc: yeah, probably.
posted by soyjoy at 10:29 AM on December 22, 2004


Lilek: Wank wank wank.
Wolcott: Wanka-wanka wank.
Lilek: Wankedy-wank, wankedy wank!
Wolwott: A-wanka, a-wanka? Wanker!


To paraphrase and update an old joke:

Q: If James Lileks and James Wolcott were in a fight to the death, who would win?

A: Everybody else in the world.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 10:32 AM on December 22, 2004


OH GOD NO THE STAMP SAYS CHRISTMAS BUT THE WEBSITE SELLING IT DOESN'T REPEAT THE WORD BECAUSE IT'S ONLY VALID IF YOU SAY IT A BUNCH OH THE HUMANITY

uh-oh! :O
posted by jimmy at 10:43 AM on December 22, 2004


nathanrudy, "...decorated mine last night with my five month old daughter!"

You hung your kid from a tree? Doesn't sound very Christian to me .

Mind you, I don't think it's a bad idea or anything.
posted by cedar at 10:48 AM on December 22, 2004


Lileks doesn't know what he's talking about because in the post office near my office (in the bluest of the non-states, Washington, DC) they are playing Christmas carols over the speakers, wearing santa caps and wishing everybody a merry Christmas. And they certainly didn't seem to liek it when I replied with "Christmas? Is that this month?"
posted by terrapin at 10:57 AM on December 22, 2004


Did you know that you can say "Seasons Greetings" anytime of the year and its still correct?

And thanks for the reminder, I need to go and delete my link to Lileks as I've not read the wanker in at least a year.
posted by fenriq at 11:14 AM on December 22, 2004


Hello there, James.
posted by NortonDC at 11:47 AM on December 22, 2004


You hung your kid from a tree? Doesn't sound very Christian to me.

Sure it is. That's what God the Father did, ain't it?
posted by soyjoy at 12:04 PM on December 22, 2004


You hung your kid from a tree? Doesn't sound very Christian to me .


posted by felix betachat at 12:04 PM on December 22, 2004


soyjoy wins.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:25 PM on December 22, 2004


As a student of the ancient art of sarcasm, I see Lileks as Darth Vader-- I dislike him and the ends towards which he uses his gift, but I have to admire his prowess.

I've been a huge fan of Lileks in spite of his politics, but like a lot of humorists, he uses molasses-thick sarcasm as a crutch whenever he doesn't have a stronger defense of his viewpoint. It makes him sound like a teen-ager, adopting an affected sneer to protect himself from ever being accused of taking something seriously.

Judging this exchange as a sport, I'd have to say Lileks lost when he asked the dumb question, "Did I mention Macy's? I did not." It was his "he forgot Poland."

Lileks is a gifted writer and a funny observer of our culture, but it can be tough to like someone who combines an utter lack of empathy with a belief that he's the poster child of good old-fashioned Middle American values.

He can be extremely venomous to political antagonists, writing once of Michael Moore, "I don't hate Michael Moore, I pity him -- he's going to die in 15 years of a massive coronary on a cold tiled bathroom floor, awash in the blasts of his emptied bowels, his autopsy photos posted to The Smoking Gun's new 3D holographic photo section."

An essay by Michael Finley, one of his former colleagues, makes a similar claim:
I have read some wonderful things by him that go beyond funny or incisive, like a piece he wrote a decade ago on the death of his mother.

But he doesn't go there very often, I don't think -- to grief, to confusion, to anxiety, to heartbreak -- because it's unsure footing for him, a tough place to keep his exquisite balance, to be a cool guy.
posted by rcade at 12:34 PM on December 22, 2004


Did anyone notice that the Holiday Traditional stamp says "Christmas" on it?
posted by elwoodwiles at 12:34 PM on December 22, 2004


Did anyone notice that the Holiday Traditional stamp says "Christmas" on it?

Yeah, I said OH GOD NO THE STAMP SAYS CHRISTMAS BUT THE WEBSITE SELLING IT DOESN'T REPEAT THE WORD BECAUSE IT'S ONLY VALID IF YOU SAY IT A BUNCH OH THE HUMANITY

I think Lileks and co. would only be happy if, in order to buy such a stamp, you went to http://christmas.usps.gov/christmas/cgi-bin/CHRIST-MASS/stamps-for-christmas-and-other-lesser-and-inferior-holidays.htm
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:55 PM on December 22, 2004


drezdn, here I am...was interrupted most of today by that pesky thing called work.

rcade's post says much of what I would have posted, albeit perhaps not as eloquently. And: I've no problem with Mr. Lileks's politics. I do find it it odd that to disagree with someone renders that person a hack, an idiot, a tool, a moron...I disagree with, say, Al Franken all the time, and I harbor no affection whatsoever for him, but I readily acknowledge that he is a talented individual. Same with Moore (although his mendacity taints his polemical gifts, sometimes fatally.)

This essay by Lileks was no where near the top of his game. Anybody else ever have a bad day?

Still find Lileks endlessly amusing, entertaining, and invigorating.
posted by 1016 at 1:16 PM on December 22, 2004


Because he's an idiot, a wingnut, and a tool who lives in a weird bubble of unreality? That would be my guess.

He's none of those things, but you'd actually have to read his writing to realize that.
posted by pardonyou? at 1:42 PM on December 22, 2004


He can be extremely venomous to political antagonists

Wolcott on Likeks:

a beloved blogger in the daycare community

...he is overly sensitive, and he doesn't get it, whatever "it" is

thin skinned grievance collecting...


Lileks on Wolcott:

a beloved blogger in the birding community

I suspect that if a Fox anchor ascribed the conquest of Fallujah to God’s will, Wolcott would erupt in hives so great and so lurid his cats would scuttle under the sofa, and would not come out until he’d coaxed them out with a crab cake from Dean and Deluca.

But when I read that, I thought: he has cats. Everything about his work suggests that he has cats. Not that there’s anything wrong with cats. I love cats, even though I prefer dogs. But sometimes you just get the impression of a soul whose incessant pissy hauteur is best expressed at the moment when they dump a stinky disk of fish guts into the bowl and mutter something clever to the elegant creatures feasting at their feet.

Anyway, I was wrong. He doesn’t have cats. He has ocicats. Yep. Absolutely.


Who has the hair up their ass here and who is the pettier of the two ?
posted by y2karl at 1:50 PM on December 22, 2004


I haven't read Lileks in a long time. I see he still loves to write about his interactions with public service drones (i.e. the cashier at Target, the clerk at the library) who do something wrong or stupid, and thereby demonstrate what's wrong with society.
posted by runtina at 1:50 PM on December 22, 2004


I've read pretty much everything Lileks has written, and I agree with Sidhedevil. I used to like his stuff a lot (we've even had a good-natured back-and-forth) but, wow, the man is in a massive downward spiral.
posted by MrMoonPie at 2:01 PM on December 22, 2004


Look, I don't care if he's Virgil, Chaucer, Cervantes, Shakespeare, Poe, Faulkner, Borges and Kafka all rolled up into one. When you wallow in the same stink as every mean-spirited right-wing blowhard out there, you're going to smell like shit. He rolls around in said stink, ergo he smells like shit.

To put it another way: either he believes this drool, in which case his judgment is necessarily suspect, or he doesn't, in which case he's simply stirring up the usual gibbering horde of flag-waving toenail chewers who fall for this pathetic crap as reliably as the rising and setting of the sun.

On preview: Anybody else ever have a bad day?

Al Capone comes to mind, but syphilis had eaten his brain by then, so he has an excuse.
posted by trondant at 2:16 PM on December 22, 2004


I agree with trondant.

Lileks has a number of parlor tricks that are impressive, but behind them is a basic awfulness. Look, Ann Coulter is a horrible human being, but I couldn't imagine sitting around writing graphic fantasies of her vomiting out her bowels, or whatever it was that the supposedly lovable Lileks said up there. It's wordplay in service of the above-mentioned toenail-chewing.
posted by inksyndicate at 2:38 PM on December 22, 2004


In fact, pardonyou? I do read Mr. Lileks, and I think that my characterization of him regarding his writing on anything having to do with politics is spot-on.

I've already provided several examples of what I found idiotic, wing-nutty, and tool-like in this particular column. So have others in the thread.

You, on the other hand, seem to believe that "Is not!" is a fine riposte to any and all critiques of Lileks. Pardon me for not finding you even a teensy-weensy bit convincing.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:42 PM on December 22, 2004


I'm also not keen on 1016's "But he's written better stuff!" excuse for this particular column. Many of us have acknowledged that Mr. Lileks has, indeed, written better stuff. That doesn't make this stuff any better.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:48 PM on December 22, 2004


Note to self: Vanity Fair obviously has higher standards than the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

Sure. However, the Strib is not a half-bad paper, Lileks nonwithstanding (their editorial board is actually unusually enlightened). In fact Here's what they had to say on this very subject just today (reg. required -- sorry, but it's worth it).

*sound of Lileks receiving his dope-slap*
posted by scatman at 3:01 PM on December 22, 2004


James Lileks is a one-trick jerk who doesn't deserve his press because he is hopelessly self-absorbed and at day's end, not that intelligent. I hope he gets a trouncing.

I just joined metafilter so I could say that.
posted by daleshipley at 4:10 PM on December 22, 2004


Not a jerk, and many tricks and more than that, but he doesn't need me to defend him.
posted by 1016 at 4:30 PM on December 22, 2004


It's sad. I was a fan of his for years. Spit-takes happens to some people so often I wonder if their screens are covered with a permanent scrim of Coke, but he actually delivered a few to me, the most memorable being when he described some piece of interior decorating as resembling a "tombstone cozy." Then September 11 came to him like a personal memo: stop being funny, start being a flame of moral truth. I stopped reading him soon after, but this is the lowest point I've seen him. That quote that's bothered sidhedevil gets me too: chic upper-left-side Mo-Dowd demographic whose uteruses have turned to something indistinguishable from papyri rescued from Herculanuem, because here's how I slice it: to show how unlike snooty childless cat-owning Wolcott he is, middle-American everyman dog-guy Lileks ends his screed with what he sees as his roundhouse punch: he has a real child, but yawn. So obvious.

Apparently, the upper-left-side ladies' wombs have gone to dust not just because they are old, but they've never borne fruit. They are too media-addled for that, too busy tracking the movements of minor pop stars and worshipping shoes and getting pissed every time someone says Jesus. Like Wolcott, they don't realize that modern American life is a serious business. No, that's something only a salt of the earth parent like Lileks gets. That's not a claim a media- and pop-culture obsessed newspaper columnist and blogger and right-wing radio darling whose sense of humor has nearly drowned in the bottomless well of his self-importance should make.

I could be wrong, and he could mean something else entirely, but what's obvious enough is that this is bad, unclear, shrill writing, and that the Lileks I used to read has been replaced by a bitter idealogue sans ideas.
posted by melissa may at 4:36 PM on December 22, 2004


ChristmasHolidayFilter
posted by bwg at 4:37 PM on December 22, 2004


Wolcott just rocks. (And i'd like to wish him--and all of you--very happy holiday!)
posted by amberglow at 4:39 PM on December 22, 2004


"James Lileks is a one-trick jerk who doesn't deserve his press because he is hopelessly self-absorbed and at day's end, not that intelligent."

Let's see. James writes a popular blog, writes at least two newspaper columns, has published two novels and two very successful books of humor, has been a radio host and goes out of his way each year to promote youth orchestra in the city where he lives. And he makes his living does pretty much exactly what he wants. Those are a number of excellent tricks for a one-trick jerk, I would say.

Calling someone self-absorbed based on the writing found on his personal Web site is eye-rollingly dim; it's damn well axiomatic that one's writing on one's personal site is self-absorbed.

Basically, just because your attack on someone is ad hominem doesn't mean it has to be so embarrassingly lazy.
posted by jscalzi at 5:37 PM on December 22, 2004


Basically, just because your attack on someone is ad hominem doesn't mean it has to be so embarrassingly lazy.


Trade lame for lazy and that sentence could be said for Lileks in the example provided. One could even add the adjective extremely to ride postilion therein.
posted by y2karl at 5:52 PM on December 22, 2004


it's damn well axiomatic that one's writing on one's personal site is self-absorbed.

(Considers)

No, it's not.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:56 PM on December 22, 2004


jscalzi, what do you think of the specific piece being discussed here? Do you think it's intelligent, well-written, or in any way a useful contribution to any discussion on the topic which it addresses? You seem to object to ad hominem comments here--what do you think of Mr. Lileks's bizarre slap at Maureen Dowd and her uterus?

It's great that Mr. Lileks promotes "youth orchestra", and many of us in this thread have expressed our affection for his humorous writing.

He probably makes a mean chicken cacciatore and always remembers to clean out the bathtub ring, too. But that doesn't make his political writing any less embarrassing.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:14 PM on December 22, 2004


His political writing is what it is, Sidhedevil...you may find some or even most of it embarrassing, but some of us find it something else.

For one, I find his stuff always interesting, even when I don't agree. But I never, ever feel the vitriol expressed here. Nor do I understand it.
posted by 1016 at 7:20 PM on December 22, 2004


But I never, ever feel the vitriol expressed here. Nor do I understand it.

By whom, Mr. Lileks, or the posters?
posted by ludwig_van at 7:30 PM on December 22, 2004


What I find embarrassing for both men is the apparently total lack of editing, and prevalence of typos, in either piece. When did opting in to the More Scathing Than Thou Tournament come to mean that one can abandon basic rules of grammar and syntax?
posted by pineapple at 7:33 PM on December 22, 2004


Could someone who is defending the Lileks piece point to one sentence that works in it? In this specific piece, I mean.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:56 PM on December 22, 2004


1016, even if the rest of the piece were brilliant (which it isn't), I would still experience an emotion I can only describe as three parts outrage to ten parts WTF? when reading the passage about the "uteruses" of those who disagree with him.

Because I just don't see how suggesting that either a) menopause, or b) childlessness (or perhaps both) somehow automatically make someone's opinions suspect is at all "interesting" (except in the trainwreck sense), or "fresh", or "distinctive".

Frankly, it smacks of a misogyny so profound that it almost makes me cry.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:00 PM on December 22, 2004


Sidhedevil asks:

"jscalzi, what do you think of the specific piece being discussed here?"

It's not one of James' better Bleats, in my opinion. We all have our bad writing days. And as a general rule I find bitch-slap sessions between writers to be fundamentally silly, even when (on occasion) I'm one of the writers doing it.

I'm not defending that particular piece. I just get annoyed when people say things about other people that are ignorant and disprovable on their face.

"You seem to object to ad hominem comments here--what do you think of Mr. Lileks's bizarre slap at Maureen Dowd and her uterus?"

I firmly believe Ms. Dowd's uterus should be left alone.

Be that as it may, that's neither here nor there regarding the particular comment to which I reponded. Holding up Lileks' ad hominem attack to justify someone else's ad hominem attack basically boils down to the "he did it first" defense, which is easily countered by the "If James Lileks jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?" argument.

Yes, yes, I know what the snarky follow-ups to "If James Lileks jumped off a cliff" will be, so if you're going to make them, do try to be original.
posted by jscalzi at 8:07 PM on December 22, 2004


I'm sure that by the end of the week, Lileks will offer up a long, flailing piece on how Wolcott is going bald.

(And yes, the line about 'two bald men fighting over a comb' does somewhat apply here.)
posted by riviera at 8:22 PM on December 22, 2004


Lileks is doing his best star-bellied sneetches routine here, isn't he? When Lileks stopped being an occasionally wry Thurber-wannabe and turned into Dagwood Bumstead-meets-Michael-Douglas-from-Falling Down, I stopped paying much attention. Now I laugh when foreign clerks ignore James and I chuckle when James worries that liberals are stealing Gnat's Christmas. De gustibus, I guess, but I'd rather believe that James Lileks is Roy Edroso's own brilliant comic invention.

Happy Chaunakwanzamas, everyone!
posted by octobersurprise at 8:50 PM on December 22, 2004


Dude is a poor man's Dennis Miller - which is awful - but at least Miller has to spit that stuff out to a camera. Lileks can sit all day at Thesaurus.com to beef up his Ann Coulter arguments.

He resorts to attacking Wolcott personally, whereas Wolcott keeps to the subject at hand - taking the higher road approach.

Since Lileks is such a Trekkie, has anybody ever mentioned the Prime Directive to his Iraqi-invading beliefs?
posted by destro at 10:04 PM on December 22, 2004


If I had to pick between the two, I'd pick Wolcott, largely because his sully was shorter and funnier. But neither of these two windbags have even contemplated the idea that the clerk might not be jumping up and down for joy because (a) they have to deal with upper middle-class assholes spreading faux tidings and joy all day, (b) they're worried about how their going to buy Xmas presents on their meager salaries, and (c) the job is, for the most part, base and thankless.

It must be good to live completely ignorant of the needs and feelings of the service sector. It must be good to wrestle another blogger over a company image issue based exclusively on one employee. It must be good to sling arrows from the towers and decide that the paramount issues of our times can be concluded solely on the basis of a trivial moment rather than repeated and multiple examples.

I'm going gloriously bald myself, but at least I don't let my hair resemble a straw man's.

What next? Lileks deciding that because one Starbuck's employee spends ten minutes getting him his latte or doesn't give a damn about his kids when he's blabbing on about them, that the health benefits of all Starbuck's employees should be revoked? Resulting in Wolcott obtaining the Starbuck's employee manual through his Conde Nasty connections? Resulting further in Lileks posting 1920s advertisements of coffeehouse stands and then going on a completely unrelated rant about Tim Robbins?

You couldn't get more jejune then this sad excuse for a pissing match. Unless of course Tom Wolfe became involved.

Show me a real fight, Mefites. And then I'll serve up the popcorn.
posted by ed at 11:04 PM on December 22, 2004


Let's get this straight. Christmas is a jumbled-up palimpsest holiday.

Happy Palimpsest has a nice ring to it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:33 AM on December 23, 2004


It'd be a good (user)name, too, come to think of it.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:34 AM on December 23, 2004


Lileks is exactly what I try to avoid in order to maintain sanity.

The unctuous traditionalism in a country with absolutely no tradition was funny when it didn't matter so much. Hahahaha kitsch!

Like us all, I would imagine Lileks is just as confused. Only he'd never admit it. I guess he just won the luck of the draw to be a minor propagandist in the service of official state myth. Hahahaha, Lilek's emotive laziness will one day soil his mortal ego he'd love to see pass into timelessness.

Which is too bad. He could do some good if he weren't so partisan and creepily programmed with Nationalism 1.0.
posted by crasspastor at 4:12 AM on December 23, 2004


Calling someone self-absorbed based on the writing found on his personal Web site is eye-rollingly dim; it's damn well axiomatic that one's writing on one's personal site is self-absorbed.

Not really. A personal weblog lends itself well to onanism, but that doesn't keep some people from finding other things that fascinate them more than their own navels.
posted by rcade at 6:12 AM on December 23, 2004


"A personal weblog lends itself well to onanism, but that doesn't keep some people from finding other things that fascinate them more than their own navels."

Well, sure. But then it's generally about them observing themselves contemplating something that's not their own navels. I don't see all that many blogs and journals striving for ego-free objectivity.
posted by jscalzi at 6:39 AM on December 23, 2004


jscalzi, of course it's natural to be self-absorbed when describing one's personal life. That's different than confusing personal observations with some larger cultural truth. It's dangerous to use random personal experience to diagnose The Way We Live Now (especially if you do it meanly). To paraphrase rcade, it's like looking at your navel and mistaking it for a continent.

I agree with you that Lileks is intelligent, and that ego-free objectivity isn't possible, or even desirable. But like Thurber said, he'd be wiser if he knew his strengths better and stuck to talking largely about small matters, not smally about great ones.
posted by melissa may at 7:16 AM on December 23, 2004


But then it's generally about them observing themselves contemplating something that's not their own navels.

We probably should be discussing James Wolcott's newest retort, but now that we've delved into metacommentary ... that's an odd way to look at weblog authorship.

Most individually authored weblogs are just first-person newspaper columns freed from audience demands and editorial restraint. But few people would say that it's "damn well axiomatic" that a newspaper columnist is self-absorbed.

Would you say that George Will is observing himself write a politics, or simply writing about politics?
posted by rcade at 7:57 AM on December 23, 2004


Err, "observing himself write about politics" ...
posted by rcade at 7:58 AM on December 23, 2004


jscalzi: Be that as it may, that's neither here nor there regarding the particular comment to which I reponded. Holding up Lileks' ad hominem attack to justify someone else's ad hominem attack basically boils down to the "he did it first" defense, which is easily countered by the "If James Lileks jumped off a cliff, would you do it too?" argument.

I wasn't trying to "justify" anyone else's ad hominem attack. I am pointing out that if, like me, you feel that ad hominem and ad feminam attacks are cheap, childish shots, then it should trouble you that so much of Mr. Lileks's "political commentary" consists of such attacks.

I admire your energy in defending your friend, Mr. Scalzi, and you have the advantage of knowing Mr. Lileks personally. He may well be a wonderful guy, as you suggest.

But his "political" writing is full of shoddy reasoning, personal attacks, relentless axe-grinding, straw men, resentful whining and bizarre jumps to conclusions. The piece we're discussing is not unusual in its reliance on those instead of the actual good writing Mr. Lileks is capable of in his humor.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:13 AM on December 23, 2004


Because he's an idiot, a wingnut, and a tool who lives in a weird bubble of unreality? That would be my guess.

But his "political" writing is full of shoddy reasoning, personal attacks, relentless axe-grinding, straw men, resentful whining and bizarre jumps to conclusions.

Sidhedevil, I don't even agree with much of his political writing, but who's stooping to personal, ad hominem attacks, here? I know the uterus remark pissed you off, and it's probably not defensible, but since when does one piece entitle anyone to make character judgments about a person's intelligence ("idiot"), character ("tool"), ability to reason ("weird bubble of unreality" "shoddy reasoning" "bizarre jumps to conclusions")? I know you disagree with him (like I said, I often do, too), but it's crazy to go to such absurd lengths to portray him as some ignorant, reactionary stooge, which he clearly is not. That's what I meant by read his stuff. And if you have, in fact, read his stuff, and still insist that he's some sort of blubbering dolt, I'd suggest the lack of reasoning ability belongs to you, not him. Your opinion is being governed by your political opposition, not objective reason.
posted by pardonyou? at 9:22 AM on December 23, 2004


We probably should be discussing James Wolcott's newest retort, but now that we've delved into metacommentary ...

In a holiday season when some of the leprechaun people are lamenting that not everyone accepts their cry of "Merry Christmas!" like a wet kiss, I am happy to report that here in Manhattan we're taking the savior's upcoming birthday in stride.

--the retort begins, sizzling ad hominem that it is, full of shoddy reasoning, personal attacks, relentless axe-grinding, straw men, resentful whining and bizarre jumps to conclusions--

After leaving the dermatologist's--I was relieved to discover I didn't have ringworm--I passed an adult video store in midtown which boasted a neon Christmas tree and menorah in the window, strategically flanking the latest exciting releases from San Fernando Valley. A Santa cap dangled from some sort of personal pleasuring device, a rather jaunty decorative touch, I thought. This is the sort of ecumenical spirit that ought to be encouraged in those fractious times.

Santa hats for the tools: Zing!

Your opinion is being governed by your political opposition, not objective reason.

Hey, lest I forget: season's greetings, pot kettle!
posted by y2karl at 9:30 AM on December 23, 2004


pardonyou?, the first is, indeed, a silly ad hominem attack, and you are absolutely right to call me on it.

The second, though, is a comment about Mr. Lileks's political writings, so let's see if my conclusions are warranted: I said it was

full of shoddy reasoning

Did the occupation of Tibet pass the Global Test? Of course. The suppression of Myanmar dissidents, the depredations of the Taliban, the hanging of rape victims in Iran -- they all passed the Global Test, inasmuch as no one did much about it besides make sad faces.

personal attacks,

The last thing an American movie brutally exposed was Kathy Bates in the hot-tub scene of "About Schmidt."

(thank Heavens we had, er, a naked Jack Nicholson to look at instead. Because that's hot!)

relentless axe-grinding
(the whole column; I've read it a couple of times and I don't know exactly what it is supposed to mean; even if Lileks means "the next Belsen" in the penultimate paragraph, I still can't follow his line of argument, but I do know that I'm supposed to think that WALLY SHAWN IS BAD BECAUSE HE VOTES DEMOCRATIC)

straw men,
And there will be great enmity until we let the innumerable Lilliputians of the globalist movement tie us down with treaties and U.N. resolutions and International Criminal Court indictments.

resentful whining (again, the whole column), and

bizarre jumps to conclusions.
But there's more to do -- success in Iraq, the end of the Iranian regime and the marginalization of Syria. For starters. Anything else hastens the day when another nightmare arrives in New York.

I didn't cherry-pick these, either--I just looked at what was on the first page of Lileks's archive at Newhouse. So I actually think my reasoning abilities are just fine, thanks!
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:03 AM on December 23, 2004


(For "writings" above, read "writing". Typos make the baby Jesus cry.)
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:05 AM on December 23, 2004


Hey, lest I forget: season's greetings, pot kettle!

How does that apply? I just got finished saying I don't agree with most of his politics.

And sorry, Sidhedevil, I still don't see anything beyond raw ideological disagreement in your quoted pieces. I don't see one area of faulty logic or reason; you might disagree with the premises and the beliefs that underly his arguments, but he's not saying 1+1=3. For example, the "Global Test" -- his statement makes sense depending on how one defines the Global Test. You apparently believe that's an unfair characterization of Kerry's statement (which it might be), but an argument can be made that when you begin using undefined phrases of import like these, they can be interpreted different ways. And the "straw man" example isn't setting up a distraction, it's trying to prove the point that there are people out there (some of whom run countries) who harbor resentment against the U.S. because of, inter alia, our opposition to the ICC, and Kyoto, etc. You disagree with his premise that that's a bad thing, but he's not diverting away from his essential argument -- namely that the global community that would be enforcing Kerry's "Global Test" often acts purposefully against U.S. interest for inappropriate reasons, like spite, or jealousy. Again, disagree with the premise, but he's not setting up a straw man.
posted by pardonyou? at 11:19 AM on December 23, 2004


But his "political" writing is full of shoddy reasoning, personal attacks, relentless axe-grinding, straw men, resentful whining and bizarre jumps to conclusions.

Calling the above paragraph an ad hominem attack is an insult to ad hominem attacks. There's a difference between a negative assessment of someone's work and a crack about desiccated uteruses. Give Lileks some credit for finding a new way to strike a low blow. He's good at it.
posted by rcade at 1:54 PM on December 23, 2004


The passage about "Lilliputians of the globalist movement" is, in my opinion, the perfect exemplar of the "straw man". Who are these "Lilliputians"? I don't know but they're SCARY!

Sure, there are ways in which other sovereign nations sometimes appear to make some decisions out of spite and resentment toward the US. But demonizing an imaginary "globalist movement" doesn't offer an intelligent response to that, in my opinion.

On the one hand, Lileks suggests that the "Lilliputians" would be "tying us down" with International Criminal Court indictments, etc. On the other hand, he criticizes the rest of the world for "not doing anything" about, say, the occupation of Tibet. How is that rational?

It's not about disagreeing with Lileks's premises, it's about noticing his inconsistencies and special pleadings.

And I note that you just skipped over three of my categories--ad personam attacks, resentful whining, and relentless axe-grinding. Because it's really hard not to see those in there.

pardonyou?, you are also making a bunch of unwarranted assumptions about my own political views. I'm an eclectic centrist unaffiliated voter, not a Democrat or a left-wing anything. I don't dislike Lileks's political articles because I disagree with them--I dislike them because I find a hateful, small-minded, ill-informed tone in them. I like the political writing of lots of people with whom I disagree profoundly--William F. Buckley, for example, and Cathy Young. I've never seen the kind of petty sniping that, to me, characterizes Lileks's political stuff in either Buckley or Young.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:23 PM on December 23, 2004


"chic upper-left-side Mo-Dowd demographic whose uteruses have turned to something indistinguishable from papyri rescued from Herculanuem"

Just waned to repeat that quote to make sure people remember it.
posted by destro at 6:50 PM on December 23, 2004


Just waned to repeat that quote to make sure people remember it.

Possibly, tentatively, conditionally, perhaps, maybe, with certain qualifications--the jury is still out--apparently it's probably not defensible
posted by y2karl at 7:05 PM on December 23, 2004


Completely indefensible. Only reason why I want people to remember it.
posted by destro at 8:36 PM on December 23, 2004


Completely indefensible, but still funny.
posted by rcade at 7:05 AM on December 24, 2004


Yipe! Makin' people mad at metafilter! Sorry, 1016, if I'm just being lazy while insulting a buddy of yours, but I go back with him farther than most of the people commenting on him here; he used to do the best show on "AM 1500 KSTP", something about "the diner", and I loved that, but the people who observed that the tragic et cetera events of nine eleven, transformed him into an irrational, shrieking doppelCoulter have my enthusiastic agreement.

The facts:
I was lazy, I write run-on sentences, and James Lileks could use a true friend to point out that he hasn't the decency to feel shame over his conduct in the Wolcott matter.
posted by daleshipley at 8:24 AM on December 24, 2004


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