Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Neocons "care about morality"

Via Lawyers, Guns, Money, Steven "Mate of Mearsheimer" Walt takes on Josh "Decentiya Interviewee" Muravchik in a debate about neoconservatism; disaster or joke? As noted, the most interesting bit is when Muravchik claims that neoconservatism is all about caring about "Morality", and then gets his head handed to him by the simple point that pointless bombing isn't very moral. This is of course a popular line with our own Decent Left, satirised on Decentpedia so well it's not worth my adding more here. Check it out.


Blogger Alex said...

Sadly No finds Mad Mel making a fool of herself.

ISTR she used to make a big thing of having been a "marxisant radical" herself.

10/15/2008 07:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mel's been pushing this line on Obama for a while now. Even by her own standards this stuff is serious out there.

I loved the Naziometer. Pure genius. I think someone should also set up a Mad Mel's Anger Meter. Preferably it should be modeled on the Madometer that Chris Morris used on Mad Frankie Fraser in Brasseye. If I remember correctly it went from 'low miff' at one end to 'mad as a lorry' at t'other.

10/15/2008 11:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry should be *seriously.

10/15/2008 11:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As we've said before, "morality" is a Decent code word for "superficially plausible reasons for doing things that are against the rules".

Moussaka Man

10/16/2008 09:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's mad than mad, even for Mad Mel. She's seriously damaged goods, I wonder what kind of event(s) in her life leave her with such views. How did she work at the Guardian? How does she still get work on the Moral Maze?

10/16/2008 12:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"madder than mad", of course.

10/16/2008 12:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I wonder what kind of event(s) in her life leave her with such views."

Imbibing specifically from the US hard right and its language, syntax and preoccupations. She's really a geographical outlier on that network rather than a bog standard British conservative operator. It's part of what makes her so weird in a British context.

rioja kid

10/16/2008 01:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How does she still get work on the Moral Maze?

The panelists they get on the moral maze are awful. Claire Fox is on there FFS.

10/16/2008 01:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know this is a bit OT, but our beloved watched Nick is going the same way as Mad Mel. Presumably MM had similar "liberal" views to the former Nick in order to work at the Guardian. She may be channelling the US right at the moment, but that's still a distant journey. What's happened to her on the way, apart from getting pally with Chris "I'm glad I'm not on the sex register" Woodhead?

Ah, Claire Fox of bonkers contrarian LM fame. I wonder who the producer of the Moral Maze is? That's already a hell of an invitation list.

10/16/2008 02:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"she used to make a big thing of having been a "marxisant radical" herself"
She may well have, but is there any evidence for the claim? I find it somewhat difficult to believe she has ever read a word of Marx, or indeed the most basic social science methodology textbook, given her unshakeable belief that comments overheard at dinner parties provide a sound basis for generalisations about British society. As for radical political activity, I think as with our Nick you would find it very hard to produce any evidence of Mel ever having indulged in any. I think that her "being on the left" was largely a matter of journalistic positioning, given her first job was with New Society.

10/16/2008 02:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's so amazing about Mad Mel is not her writings which are absurd to the point of parody, but that she is probably one of Britain's most widely read and influential journalists.

Look at her media profile. Regularly on various BBC programmes, a mass audience Daily Mail slot, a regular column in the Spectator and the JC.

I am constantly amazed that people of the intellectual calibre of Mad Mel and the various LM nutters can actually get such well paying gigs in the MSM.

10/16/2008 03:12:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

OK, this is a sort of joking response to Ephraim - take it any way you want.

Mad Mel read English at Oxford in the late 60s/early 70s. Wasn't 'Marxism' en vogue in Lit Crit at the time?

Bubby, there's a sort of answer here. The media loves internal fights like nothing else. It has nothing to do with "liberal TV", as Levin fantasizes. Mel calls herself a "progressive" (see Wikipedia link above), yet she winds up "progressives" (I hate that word; it strikes me as euphemistic). So she's a fun media figure. Or 'maverick'.

Actually, you could say that the BBC having her on is a form of bias: she's one of the least credible "conservatives" out there.

As for the US elections, Josh Marshall had the Surprise release of McCain debate prep tapes. Actually, the Peguin was surprisingly honest compared to Sarah Palin.

10/16/2008 03:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

She used to be whereabouts Polly Toynbee is now, a bit further to the left maybe and always more of an overt authoritarian: she got her start on the old New Society magazine.

My guess is she gets gigs now because she's reliable, she grinds it out and she knows people: why anybody gets it once they start getting it. And up till fairly recently she was just doing the usual gradual shuffle to the right: the veer off into la-la land is post 9/11, as it seems to have been for a number of people.

I don't know how much there's an acknowledged 'crazy mel problem' in commissioning circles. I'd be surprised if it was entirely absent. Her spectator blogging colleagues are plainly embarrassed by her, and that's saying something when one of them's Stephen Pollard.

rioja kid

10/16/2008 03:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Her spectator blogging colleagues are plainly embarrassed by her, and that's saying something when one of them's Stephen Pollard.

Ha, ha that made me laugh.

But I think a lot of the reason why these dunderheads get so many gigs is that the media loves controversy, it loves back-biting, it loves contrarians and it loves people who say outrageous things. Michael Billington's hilarious review of the Burchill book nailed this beautifully.

About four years ago I went to conference which featured Brendan O'Neil as a speaker. Words can't begin to describe how dim this individual is. The only speaker I have witnessed who was less intellectually impressive was the crazed neo-con Douglas Murray. Murray was at least amusing, because his indignation was so great one feared he might self-combust at any moment.

10/16/2008 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

But it is partly a Spectator thing: they have a certain liking for saying very, very iffy things for purposes of provocation, because they think it's amusing and clever. And, of course, if you have a columnist who'll do this sort of thing, deniable (because you can always say "Mel? Well of course, that's what she's like, don't take it so seriously").

10/16/2008 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Ah, Dougie. He's the sort of clever chap who started out saying things that were trerribly extreme and exaggerated because he thought it was clever and his friends thought so too: and like a lot of people in that situation, he's ended up believing his own bluster and getting incredibly bothered when other people don't. It's not so unusual.

For that matter, there's always a very lucrative market for it. Which is ironic really since the sort of people who do it don't actually tend to need the money.

10/16/2008 04:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Mel was already roughly as far to the Right as Nick is now before she'd even left the Observer (wait a minute...)

"What bothers me ... is Tony Blair's obvious intention of redefining Labour as a kind of Socially Responsible Mildly Reactionary Party, somewhere between the Right of the Liberal Democrats and the Left of Melanie Phillips."

That was from something I wrote for Casablanca in 1994.

10/16/2008 04:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

btw, on the topic of mr cohen, in the standard today he appears to be arguing against his standard column of 2 weeks ago. and his opinions still make no sense.

10/16/2008 04:35:00 PM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

Michael Billington's hilarious review of the Burchill book nailed this beautifully

I missed this one; where was it?

10/16/2008 04:43:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...


10/16/2008 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Fuckers, I spent about a quarter of an hour with various search strategies and combination all involving Billington.

If anybody knows bubby's true identity and address can they let me know so I can go round and nail his head to the wall?

10/16/2008 05:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok I'm sorry. Its easy to make a mistake! The review's a cracker though.

10/16/2008 08:57:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

certainly in the very early 90s, when she was still at the guardian, mel had a cultural authoritarian line with a quasi-left flavour ("the free market is destroying all culture", this kind of thing), and teamed up for a while with michael medved to pimp it (he had written a book that proved that hollywood was out of step with american family values) -- they had a big-noise panel debate at the old scala cinema

it seemed a strange team at the time -- she was definitely considered "left", if dottily authoritarian (and always a turgid and self-righteous writer) -- but with retrospect they seem two of a kind

i remember a guardian column where she mistold the plot of terminator 2 to prove her point, about its evil effects (sadly i can't remember her misrepresentation)

martin kettle was busily on the same bandwagon, if not quite so vehemently

10/16/2008 11:00:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

Mad Mel read English at Oxford in the late 60s/early 70s. Wasn't 'Marxism' en vogue in Lit Crit at the time?

Ha! Not at Oxford. Whereas at Sussex Marxism was probably seen as dangerously right wing...

Didn't Mel first lose it over comprehensives? But in recent years she's been driven over the edge by her extremist Zionism, which is sadly not so unusual (though commoner in the US). Actually her Zionism might help explain her obsession with US conservative ideas, as the nuttier Israel Uber Alles brigade tend to be American.

10/17/2008 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger The Rioja Kid said...

You think you've seen Melanie Philips making a fool of herself? I'll show you Melanie Phillips making a fool of herself. This needs a front page post actually.

10/17/2008 03:47:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Shorter Mad Mel: 'Drat and double drat that Kantian nihilism!'

10/17/2008 04:10:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Jesus, that reads like the output of a Mad Mel ELIZAbot.

10/17/2008 05:10:00 PM  

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