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A Rant is Not an Argument

April 18th, 2009 by Bill Brown · 21 Comments · The Horror File

In general, I don’t put any stock in what an actor says about politics. The following video with Janeane Garofalo {via} is nothing I haven’t read in the leftist blogospere; what makes it unique is having it all in one place and making Keith Olbermann seem cool-headed in comparison:

I enjoy these things because it reminds me how impotent and ignorant our opponents are. (Warning: there’s some vulgar innuendo, naturally.)

21 Comments so far ↓

  • Raman Gupta

    While the bile spewed by Garofalo and Olbermann is standard fare for leftists, I do note that the Pensacola tea party attendees did indeed boo when the speaker rightly pointed out that Bush, among others, is just as responsible as Obama for our current state of affairs.

    That people, even at pro-freedom events, would be happy simply voting Bush back into power is the true tragedy.

    Huge Disclaimer: I wasn’t there so I don’t know if that was truly the mood of the crowd or not, or whether the Olbermann clip was cut to make it seem that way. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was.

  • anon

    Mr. Gupta,

    Makes you wonder why so many Objectivists are so suddenly optimistic about engaging with the small-government crowd. I can’t understand why Bush love (and it is Bush love/Obama hate, or Santelli would have sparked this whole thing in September) is any more valuable than the “freedom” fetish of so many Libertarians.

    That those people would have booed that guy when he criticized Bush was about as safe a bet as Secretariat winning the Belmont.

  • Myrhaf

    You’re getting tedious, anon, making the same false point bashing Objectivists on post after post. It’s ridiculous to compare anything Objectivists do today to Kelley’s outreach to the Libertarians 20 years ago because 1) Kelley is an enemy of Objectivism; and 2) Libertarians are an enemy of Objectivism and civilization. It is fine if Objectivists associate with the Tea Party Movement today precisely because, unlike the Libertarians, the movement is an inchoate protest against statism with no official ideology. If the movement crystallizes into something religious conservative or anarchist, then it will be wrong to sanction it.

    Regarding Garofalo, her theorizing about the limbic brain is so over the top that I expect her to admit she is not serious. She is doing meta-comedy, like Andy Kaufmann used to do. It is a highly sophisticated way of smearing the right and then saying, “Hey, it was a joke. Lighten up.” At least, this is my guess. If she is serious, then she lacks intelligence.

  • Bill Brown

    She’s been spewing this theory for a long time and hasn’t fessed up to it being a joke. And a further Google search explicitly excluding “garofalo” shows that others have said it more seriously.

    These leftists truly believe that there is something neurologically wrong with conservatives and those opposed to them. It allows them to dismiss arguments with a “tut tut” and without a response.

  • Andrew Dalton

    The funny thing is that I’d be very surprised if Janeane Garofalo could explain what a neuron is and how it works–and yet she has this wonderfully tidy theory about how neurology determines politics.

  • madmax

    Isn’t all this just part of the empiricist claim that humans are wired for altruism and the welfare state?* And isn’t that just another way of saying that socialism is the scientific system? This is how its been since Rousseau and then the French Revolution: reason and science claim the inevitability of collectivism and socialism and freedom is only defended on the grounds of faith, god and tradition (ala Edmund Burke). Garofalo like all leftists is just regurgitating stuff which filters out of the academy.

    * Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins have both made similar arguments. That’s how they answer the religionists who say without god no absolute morality would be possible. Dawkins and Harris both claim that evolution wired us for “compassion” and that the social welfare state is an expression of that evolutionary wiring system.

  • Andrew Dalton


    We can see how the Left has been greasing the rails to censorship here. If you disagree with them, you’re not merely mistaken or even immoral, but rather you’re defective as a human being and a threat to the welfare of the species. And since reason cannot persuade you (even if the leftists cared to used it), you need to be silenced for the common good.

  • dismuke

    “If you disagree with them, you’re not merely mistaken or even immoral, but rather you’re defective as a human being and a threat to the welfare of the species. And since reason cannot persuade you (even if the leftists cared to used it), you need to be silenced for the common good.”

    That’s the exact same attitude that this crowd had back when they were in power in the Soviet Union. Dissidents were declared to be “mentally ill” and were locked away in asylums. They even came up with a name for such alleged mental illness: “sluggish schizophrenia.”

  • anon


    From the “objective” section of the DontGo Movement’s website (one of the three main national organizers of the Tea Parties):

    The #dontgo movement is for anyone who supports free markets, low-taxes, low-regulation and personal freedoms.

    From the “introduction” section of the National Libertarian Party’s website:

    The Libertarian Party is for all who don’t want to push other people around and don’t want to be pushed around themselves.

  • Natasha Hale

    In my opinion it seemed like they were not booing what Garofalo and Olbermann said they were. At the beginning it seemed they were receptive of the idea that this is at least partially Bush’s fault. It was only when he started saying, to paraphrase, “YOUR taxes are going down, so what are you complaining about?” that they got upset… and rightfully so.

    From talking to other attendees and viewing message boards, etc, this seems to be the standard response from they type of people who attended. They are starting to realize that it doesn’t matter if they pay less than zero taxes, when other people’s liberty is being taken away. This is about the government not having the right to tell people what to do with their own money, even if they do not understand why.

  • Andrew Dalton

    Natasha –

    There was a comment on another blog that correctly pointed out a weakness in the Tea Party message–much of the language was focused on taxes (which haven’t *yet* increased much, at least on the federal level) rather than the root problem of ballooning spending.

    That spending may be paid for though future tax increases, but it could just as easily be funded through inflation. People’s money will be taken one way or another.

  • dismuke

    “The Libertarian Party is for all who don’t want to push other people around and don’t want to be pushed around themselves.”

    Maybe that’s the case. But they are also for or give a nod to ALL SORTS of stuff that is absolutely horrible – for example, anarchism, subjectivism, relativism and a foreign policy that Janeand Garofalo and Cindy Sheehan would feel at home with.

    Contrary to your apparent impression, Objectivists have never said anything to the effect of “thou shall’t not engage in political activism” – though it is true that, outside the long term context of wider cultural change, political activism can only have a limited impact.

    Nor has anybody ever suggested that one should have nothing to do with individuals who consider themselves to be Libertarians or that such individuals themselves are necessarily morally deficient. I have been on very friendly terms with individuals who consider themselves to be Libertarians. Heck, I myself was a Libertarian for a few years until I eventually learned more and understood why that movement is NOT consistent with the values I support. I also have good friends who are religious and social conservatives. They would’t be my friends if they weren’t good people. But I do have profound disagreements with them on certain issues. I have a Catholic friend who has attended anti-abortion rallies. I consider him to be a good friend – but when it comes to the issue of abortion, he and I both realize that the other is firmly on the side of our respective ideological enemies. He DOES have a lot of very good views on a number of other political matters. But I would never even THINK of making ANY sort of common ideological cause with him beyond something like attending a Tea Party.

    What Objectivists take exception to is making common cause with one’s ideological enemies.

    Yes, when I attended the Dallas Tea Party last week, there were plenty of people in the crowd with whom I have profound ideological disagreements with. There were people who, by their posters, made it pretty clear that they were Libertarians, anti-abortionists, anti-immigration, social conservatives. And I wouldn’t be surprised if at least some of the organizers of the Tea Party fell into one or more of those camps. But in no way was I making common cause with ANY of that. The focus of the Tea Party was VERY specific and VERY narrow: making it known to elected officials and the public that a significant portion of the country does NOT support the power grabs going on in Washington and that they will NOT just roll over and take it. That is something that I CAN support – and I would hope that Libertarians, religious conservatives and any individual who has any grasp at all of the issues and any ounce of moral decency could support as well. I don’t necessarily mind working on an ad hoc basis with other individuals with whom I might have certain disagreements. But I am very particular about what kinds of organizations and movements I lend any support to.

    Look at it in reverse – a religious conservative was IN NO WAY undercutting his cause or betraying his beliefs by standing next to me and other Objectivists at that Tea Party. If that Tea Party, however, was sponsored by the North Texas Objectivist Society – well, it would be PROFOUNDLY inappropriate for a religious conservative to participate as that would involve giving support to a wider philosophical agenda that is profoundly at odds with and works to undermine his convictions. It would also be inappropriate for Libertarians to participate because, by giving sanction to Objectivism, they are in effect giving a silent nod to Objectivism’s wider agenda with regard to politics (including foreign policy) ethics and epistemology which they may neither support nor understand. (Unfortunately, most Libertarians are very sloppy about who they jump into bed with ideologically. They have little grasp of what it means to be ideological consistent and think nothing of referring to themselves as “Objectivists” on grounds that they happen to agree with Ayn Rand on certain points while completely ignoring all of the many other things that must first “buy into” before one can accurately and properly call oneself an Objectivist. )

    Furthermore, I suspect that most Objectivists are VERY cautious when it comes to putting too much hope and enthusiasm into the Tea Parties. No Objectivist certainly believes that they are any sort of long term answer to the problems we face today. As Harry Binswanger wrote, their primary value is that they provide a cultural barometer of the American public’s response to the Washington power grabs. I think that the best that any Objectivist can hope for from them is that they help to at least slow down and throw bumps in the road to the government takeover. Assuming that the Tea Parties are successful in throwing the Congress to the Republicans in 2010 and getting rid of Obama in 2012, we will once again be back to fighting many of the very same people we stood next to at the Tea Party rallies.

    As for David Kelley who you mention in other comments – whatever confusions people might have had about him and his intentions 20 years ago, enough evidence has accumulated since to make it more than clear that this man does NOT understand Objectivism and does NOT support it and, indeed, wishes to define it out of existence. And contrary to popular belief, my understanding is that the basis for ARI disassociating itself from him was NOT his talk to the Libertarian supper club but rather the ideas he articulated in his response to Peter Schwart’s criticism of that talk. My understanding is that several Objectivists who knew him were able to see the direction in which he was heading philosophically and made a PRIVATE decision to have nothing more to do with him well before ARI made its official decision. Well, 20 years later, there is an ABUNDANT body of evidence based on his subsequent behavior to indicate that they were correct in what they saw.

    If David Kelley or Ron Paul lived in my neighborhood and happened to be members of the Citizens Crime Watch patrol, I would have no problem working with them in that capacity. If David Kelley attended the Dallas Tea Party – or even if he was one of the voluntary security personnel keeping an eye out for troublemakers, I would still have no problem attending. But in any context in which my behavior would suggest that this guy is an example of or a representative of Objectivism, I want no part of. And under NO circumstances do I wish for my viewpoint to, in any way, be lumped in with the likes of Ron Paul’s or the Libertarian Party’s.

    Based on your previous comments, I am not sure what your motive here is. More and more you seem to have an agenda. If it is to advocate or throw bombs on David Kelley’s behalf – well, you are probably better off doing that elsewhere. David Kelley’s organization has been floundering for years and is now on life support. Even its own champions regularly talk about how pathetic and ineffective it is. Personally, I don’t mind taking the time to discuss the matter with someone who is honestly not aware of what the issues are and wants to have a better understanding before making a judgment. But I have zero desire to engage in public with people whose minds are already made up on the matter. Heck, Objectivist blogs such as this one probably have a wider sphere of influence these days than does the dying remnants of Kelley’s organization – so I, for one, have zero desire to give it any additional publicity by means of any such engagement.

  • dismuke

    One more thing anon I was going to say on Libertarianism but forgot to include:

    I would have zero problem if an Objectivist speaker accepted an invitation to appear at a public event sponsored by a Catholic organization debating the issue of abortion. Catholics have the good sense and decency to regard Objectivists as opponents on that and many other issues. There is no danger whatsoever of people confusing Catholics and Objectivists. There is no implied sanction involved at all on anyone’s part.

    The problem with doing something similar with Libertarians is that they routinely go around trying to attach themselves to and benefit from Ayn Rand’s coattails. Indeed, it is not uncommon for Libertarians who proclaim support for limited government as opposed to outright anarchism to refer to themselves as “Objectivists” even though they may never have read anything by Rand and, if they have bothered to, have only a very superficial grasp of her wider points.

    Because there are superficial similarities between what Objectivists and Libertarians advocate which has led to widespread confusion and misconceptions that they are somehow one and the same, it is necessary for Objectivists to go out of their way to distance themselves from Libertarians to make the very substantial and crucial differences clear. This is especially necessary given that Libertarians out number and their movement is more famous than is Objectivism. It is NOT in the interest of Objectivism’s long term, big picture agenda nor its credibility to be in any way lumped in with the KOOKS that dominate the Libertarian movement.

    And this attitude is not just limited to Objectivists. There are certain VERY superficial things about which the National Rifle Association and various reputable conservative organizations agree with militia groups on. But I guarantee you that NO credible person with any such organization would accept a speaking engagement with a militia group nor would they want to have ANYTHING at all to do with them. They do not do so because they do not wish for their cause and their reputation to be diminished or undercut by associating with KOOKS.

    It is in NO responsible and legitimate movement’s interest to be associated with kooks. And the Libertarian movement is FULL of kooks and it is the kooks that set its agenda. Yes, there are a great many decent and well meaning people who do not know any better who buy into it without grasping the big picture implications. But that does not change the fact that it IS an organization whose direction is dominated by kooks. There are also many decent and well meaning people who do not know any better who buy into the “green” movement without grasping the big picture implications. That does not change the fact that it is a movement dominated by kooks who have very EVIL intentions. And observe the growing number of alleged conservatives who seek to bring such people into the Republican Party umbrella in the name of winning a few elections – and look what it leads to in practice. If conservatives wish to attract more reasonable people in the green movement to their party, what they need to do is staunchly OPPOSE environmentalism and change their minds – not try and pretend that the movement is anything other than vicious and evil.

    Objectivism needs to DIFFERENTIATE itself from Libertarianism and make the difference between the two VERY clear – NOT attempt to collaborate with it.

  • Bill Brown

    I have deleted anon’s comment and sent him an email (if his email address is, in fact, correct). We’re pretty easy-going around here about comments and discussions; we tend to perhaps grant too much latitude. He is welcome to comment on further topics so long as he confines himself roughly to the subject at hand and does not insert anti-ARI diatribes.

    [Incidentally, if it wasn’t his true address, he’s welcome to us our contact form with his actual one and I will forward along his comment. I don’t like spending effort writing something only to have it lost in the ether.]

  • Jim May

    “anon” needs to learn about the problems caused by counterfeit goods.

    When someone counterfeits your brand with a shabby version that appears exactly like the real things, its failures convince the buyers that the *original* brand is no good no matter what its actual quality is.

    Libertarians are an example of this; they have isolated good ideas in their platform, lifted from Ayn Rand, but their product is assembled with so many other bad “parts” (anarchism etc.) that the end result must be, and is, of severely compromised quality.

    We can and should ensure that our “brand” is not tarred with that brush; we have to ensure that people understand that Libertarianism’s failings are Libertarianism’s, not Objectivism’s. It’s not our “parts” that fail over there.

    The Tea Parties, on the other hand, are not a “brand” at all, at least not yet; they are instead a demand for a “product”, a product remarkably like the one we are selling. That is the root of our optimism.

  • Jim May

    As for Garofalo and the Left’s deterministic ideas, as such they share common roots with the old National Socialist and Communist concept of “polylogism” — i.e. the idea that different groups (races and economic classes, respectively) have a “logic” all their own.

    These common roots of course logically dictate a common end-of-road.

  • Jim May

    It allows them to dismiss arguments with a “tut tut” and without a response.

    “To those who understand, no explanation is necessary. To those who don’t, no explanation is possible.”

  • Myrhaf

    Let’s put some more posts up quick so I don’t have to see this woman’s ugly face every time I come to New Clarion.

  • dismuke

    How about I put up a posting about some topic which will enable me to post this picture:

    Something to give the blog a little more sex appeal!

  • Jennifer Snow

    “Woman”, Myrhaf? No, this is a “female” at best. Not a Woman.

  • Myrhaf

    I’ll buy that, Jennifer. I could think of a lot of names to call her, but we want to keep this blog at least slightly elevated from the gutter.

    Dismuke… you are a sick man.