Flaming the Left

by Kieran Healy on August 19, 2005

Flaming the Left is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your holiday games;
You may think at first I’m as mad as a hatter
When I tell you, you’re going to need THREE DIFFERENT FLAMES.
First of all, are the flames that the bloggers use daily,
Such as Ignorant, Jerk-in-the-Box, Leftist or Lame,
Such as Asshat or Poopy-head, Liberal or Crazy—
All comprehensible, everyday flames.
There are fancier claims if you think they sound neater,
Some for the heated times, some for the tame:
Such as Clintonite, Keynesian, New Deal, Single-Payer—
But all of them regular, everyday flames.
But I tell you the left needs a flame more particular,
Something less honest, a bit more cockeyed,
Else how can we keep up our image testicular,
Or cook up the data, or tell garish lies?
Flames of this kind are by now ten a penny,
Such as Darwinist, Feminist or Stab-in-the-Back,
Such as Idiotarian, or else Fifth Columnist,
Codes the wingnuts all listen for, on their antennae.
But above and beyond there’s still one name left over,
And that is the charge you by now have all guessed;
The thing that no liberal will ever admit to—
But RIGHT-WINGERS ALL KNOW, and have often expressed.
When you engage a liberal in argumentation,
Your tactic, I tell you, should be to defame
His motives, his background, his disloyal mother,
And be sure to
Cry Treason,
With no sense of shame.

{ 1 trackback }

Indigo Jo Blogs
08.21.05 at 11:36 am

{ 59 comments }

1

stupidbaby 08.20.05 at 12:08 am

hehehe

2

catherine liu 08.20.05 at 12:11 am

You forgot that there one should cast aspersions on said lefty’s manhood (elitist actually works very well here doing double duty as one knows elitists are tainted sexually and morally by the vice that dare not speak its name), and if said lefty is a female, one should Ann Coulter-like, insult her looks and her femininity while flaunting one’s Goldilocks Republican Absstinence in the City sort of look.

3

catherine liu 08.20.05 at 12:17 am

You forgot that insulting the Lefty’s sexual identity, if a male, “elitist” will evoke enough limp wristedness as to make all other adjectives unnecessary. If female, Lefty will warrant the Ann Coulterish aspersions upon her femininity and her looks, which wilt in comparison with Goldilock’s Abstinence in the City Republican charm.

Thus has Right always convinced itself that Leftists are not worthy of life itself. I think “scum” is an epithet favored by military dictatorships of the Right-wing. So how do you fight fair with people say they want to hunt you down, with dogs no less?

4

Bruce Baugh 08.20.05 at 12:31 am

“Tell them you is sick and will probable get better.” – P.T. Bridgeport, in Pogo

5

bad Jim 08.20.05 at 12:49 am

Caesar had his Brutus
Charles the First, his Cromwell
and George the Third
(cries of “Treason! Treason!”)
George the Third may profit by their example.
If this be treason, make the most of it!

6

minnesotaj 08.20.05 at 1:15 am

I’d laugh, except the Northwest Mechanic’s Union just went on strike… a silly move for a group of “blue collar” workers who, as individuals, make nearly 2x family median income in an industry struggling to survive. Sometimes, the right is… right.

7

minnesotaj 08.20.05 at 1:51 am

On reflection, two thoughts:

1) This is really funny.

2) The right isn’t even right–it’s the left that’s just wrong. The compromises of the New Deal are coming ’round fast & furious to bite us in the ass. Ah, but how to get out of this jam? That’s tough…

8

Glenn Bridgman 08.20.05 at 1:57 am

It isn’t even the left they are attacking. One would be hard-pressed to define my politics as left-wing, even in America, but these folks would put me up against the wall about ten seconds after the pinko commie lesbian atheist post-colonial studies professor.

9

abb1 08.20.05 at 1:57 am

…a silly move for a group of “blue collar” workers who, as individuals, make nearly 2x family median income in an industry struggling to survive

Well, good for them, how much do the executives in an industry struggling to survive make compare to the median income family?

10

a 08.20.05 at 2:56 am

“defame His motives, his background …”

What an extraordinarily hypocritical piece of doggerel. Just read your own blog, for heaven’s sake.

11

bad Jim 08.20.05 at 4:04 am

The righties above all are governed by fear
of Islam, of women, of guys far and near.
They dreamed about communists year after year
yet weren’t relieved when they didn’t appear.
Somehow they know that all they hold dear
is something that some day will just disappear.
It won’t be their fault – there’s nothing more clear.
It’s due to the Other: the Muslim, the queer.

12

steve 08.20.05 at 6:10 am

Sam I am,
Green eggs and ham.

13

Marc 08.20.05 at 7:53 am

You don’t understand, abb1. Apparently we are not to question obscene pay for corporate CEOs. Only workers can be greedy. It’s in the wingnut playbook, right next to the rule where wingers never have to defend anything another winger says – but leftists are required to ritually denounce anyone on their side that the right-wing decides has committed some sin.

14

Brock 08.20.05 at 8:00 am

I’m disappointed that you didn’t work barking moonbat into your poem.

15

Kieran Healy 08.20.05 at 8:18 am

What an extraordinarily hypocritical piece of doggerel

I’d forgotten this common move — viz, “No, _you_ are the true _x_”, where x is whatever the problem at hand is. I suppose the pure form of this would be “No, you are responsible because _you_ are really the President, as any objective observer can see.”

16

Fribbledrinker 08.20.05 at 8:36 am

O weep for the winger there in his grief!
Has all he wanted, but feels no relief.
Three branches of guvmint, a two-term prez,
two wars: comfort his dark fears less and less.
At every turn panic, foes, and treason
But he can’t choose exactly the reason.
Iraq a win, Osama forgotten,
It must be libruls his goats have gotten!
They doubt Bush, ask questions, fuck who they please
Which helps insurgents and makes IEDs!
“If they’d clap harder and keep heads in sand
Things would go just like our great leaders planned.”
And now watch the winger worldview implode
By one grieving mom camped by Bush’s road.
“She’s a nut! Hates Jews! Her son would be sad!”
Her sacrifice shows what makes them so mad,
Ruffles their feathers, causes shouts and squawks:
They look in the mirror: see chickenhawks.

17

Thomas 08.20.05 at 9:06 am

And never forget the parry to the common move: more rhetorical bullshit.

18

jet 08.20.05 at 10:02 am

“Your tactic, I tell you, should be to defame
His motives, his background, his disloyal mother,
And be sure to Cry huge farg’n hypocrite,”

It is sweetly ironic that the poem is bitching about unjust flaming on a site that took as gospel every unproven imagined motivation of the administration and never let the chance pass by for the most unkind interpretation of an opponent’s comment. And you really have to appricate the calling of those who torment you “wingnuts” and “right-wingERS” while bemoaning the name calling from those same “wingnuts”.

Did someone’s feelers are hurt and they need some hot chocolate and a hug? We like you Kieran, we really like you.

19

Uncle Kvetch 08.20.05 at 10:26 am

And when the need to smear is keenest,
Don’t forget to invoke the Clenis.

20

Eamonn Fitzgerald 08.20.05 at 10:58 am

Don’t give up the day job, Kieran.

21

otto 08.20.05 at 11:06 am

Kieran

You left out the anti-semitism smear.

Cf Josh Marshall:
“A case in point is the increasingly brazen tendency for conservative columnists to label any critical discussion of neoconservatism as a form of anti-Semitic diatribe.”

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2004_01_04.php#002372

22

Kieran Healy 08.20.05 at 11:40 am

And you really have to appricate the calling of those who torment you “wingnuts” and “right-wingERS” while bemoaning the name calling from those same “wingnuts”.

Yeah, that was a total accident, jet, because I myself am of course without sin.

23

Kieran Healy 08.20.05 at 11:40 am

Don’t give up your day job

Hey, I least I have one. I pay my taxes.

24

Barry Freed 08.20.05 at 12:31 pm

Don’t give up your day job

Hey, I least I have one. I pay my taxes.

hypocrite enabler, mon semblable, mon frère!

25

Chris Clarke 08.20.05 at 1:21 pm

It is sweetly ironic that the poem is bitching about unjust flaming on a site that took as gospel every unproven imagined motivation of the administration and never let the chance pass by for the most unkind interpretation of an opponent’s comment. And you really have to appricate the calling of those who torment you “wingnuts” and “right-wingERS” while bemoaning the name calling from those same “wingnuts”.

Ah, the old argumentum ad nauseam. Damn that moral equivalence between using unflattering terms to describe the powerful and smearing those who oppose the powerful.

Don’t give up the day job, Kieran.

I’m sure he’s crushed that you think the lucrative world of political poetry yet eludes him. I know I would be.

26

Dustin Ridgeway 08.20.05 at 1:46 pm

Wow, you usually only encounter this kind of sanctimonious self-pity among conservative types. I guess we aren’t so different after all. Though conservatives generally prefer to bewail their martyrdom in the form of overwrought melodramatic prose, as opposed to semi-amusing, fully jejune poetry.

I do hope you find the strength to persevere against the big bad meanies.

27

P O'Neill 08.20.05 at 2:00 pm

what, no SHRILL?

28

abb1 08.20.05 at 2:11 pm

Wingnuts are nuts, what else is new.

29

gzombie 08.20.05 at 2:34 pm

Wow, you usually only encounter this kind of sanctimonious self-pity among conservative types. I guess we aren’t so different after all.

And they say conservatives have no sense of humor…

30

jet 08.20.05 at 2:37 pm

Anyone who says it was poorly done should either point out why or give one better. Don’t hate the playa, hate the game (ie don’t hate him for ponting out the mudslinging, hate the mudslinging).

I actually thought it pretty clever.

31

Dustin Ridgeway 08.20.05 at 3:37 pm

To be fair, my grievance was more with the “sanctimonious self-pity” than the quality of the poem, to which I admittedly cannot imagine myself bettering. And that’s not to say I don’t sympathize; I was recently driven near mad from a series of posts by Ann Althouse about the London subway shootings, in which she and some of her didiots opined that anyone taking objection to her on the matter was an anti-capitalist, anti-semitic moveon.org loving ultra-left America hater.

It’s just than when I read the entry, it immediately reminded me of all the sensational, self-sympathetic tomes I’d ever read about how awful and unbearable it is to be a conservative white heterosexual male, who’s existence in the modern world is akin to slavery (or worse).

Such self-pitying hyperbole should remain exclusively their domain (and hopefully to their peril), not ours.

32

Kieran Healy 08.20.05 at 4:04 pm

Jeez, Dustin. It’s just a bit of fun.

33

Jake 08.20.05 at 4:11 pm

Dustin–

34

Jake 08.20.05 at 4:16 pm

Ahem. Perhaps my comment #33 is excessively concise. What I was going to say was, Dustin, I didn’t get any sense of self-pity from Kieran’s bit of versification, rather it was simply striving to make a point in an amusing way. Which was nicely abetted by the old-fashioned format in which he presented it.

35

Penta 08.20.05 at 4:18 pm

*covers eyes*

Bad poetry! Mounds of bad poetry!

Why do you hurt me with bad poetry?

*whimpers*

In other words: Nobody here quit their day jobs.

36

Kieran Healy 08.20.05 at 5:04 pm

I should also apologise to T.S. Eliot.

37

Syd Webb 08.20.05 at 7:10 pm

I should also apologise to T.S. Eliot.

Why? TS Eliot still hasn’t apologised to me. “Like a patient etherized upon a table” indeed!

38

Randy Paul 08.20.05 at 7:34 pm

Don’t hate the playa, hate the game

So much for the party of personal responsibility.

Hate the player who plays the game.

39

bad Jim 08.20.05 at 9:03 pm

Penta:

I thank you for your kind concern.
I doubt you really mean it, though.
But you may be appalled to learn
I quit my day job years ago.

40

smuttynose 08.20.05 at 9:08 pm

thanks for some great verse. i will be suggesting this link to a small group of conservatives who have me as the token centrist/liberal posting on the site, FederalReview. i post under the name of john.

i have enjoyed this site immensely in recent months and tonight has been the best. thanks again.

41

goatchowder 08.20.05 at 9:15 pm

It’s all a great big high-school out there. Alas.

These have become purely tribal identifications. They’re like fans of rival football teams.

One can find only slightly less meaningful content in the wingnut chest-puffery of today than there was present in the rock-throwing radicalism of the 60′s. That was a tribe of young people railing against the old; it was almost purely tribal/generational. Now we have a tribe of macho-men and macho-women railing against– everybody else.

Questioned seriously about policy, most wingnuts would be forced to acknowledge their debt to socialism. Indeed, most Indymedia types would be forced to acknowlege their debt to capitalism too. The debates about other issues– war and peace– have also devolved into idiotic cartoons.

I want to say this is a new development, but, having been born early in the Vietnam war, I’m of an age now that I can’t remember it ever having been any other way, at least in the USA.

42

rm 08.20.05 at 10:01 pm

Kieran, I think you are being much to subtle for Dustin. He won’t realize that this is a pastiche of one of Eliot’s cat poems (the title is “The Naming of Cats”, I think?) unless you explicitly state it, without understatement or irony. Some of these commenters must be approached very carefully, and spoken to slowly. Brilliant stuff, by the way.

43

Steve Burton 08.20.05 at 10:53 pm

rm, I think even some of Eliot’s admirers make it a point of pride *not* to know the practical cats poems too well. (Heck – I can’t even get through “Rhapsody on a Windy Night” without the image of Barbra Streisand hoving, unbidden and unwelcome, into view – and that was great poetry, before Andrew Lloyd-Webber got his mits on it.)

44

MikeS 08.21.05 at 6:05 am

Such as Darwinist, Feminist or Stab-in-the-Back,

One syllable too many, I fear.

45

Ben Alpers 08.21.05 at 1:33 pm

With apologies to Philip Larkin

Flaming the Left ought to be easiestLying about them goes back so farAn emblem of wingnuts being dishonest.

Yet more and more posts roll by noisily.Outside the war’s incomplete unrestbuilds and disperses the pie in the sky.

And bullshit heaps up on the horizon.None of them cares for us. Nothing shows whyAt this unique distance from comprehension

It becomes still more difficult to findWords at once true and kindOr not untrue and not unkind.

46

Ben Alpers 08.21.05 at 1:34 pm

Ooops….let me fix the formatting of that…

Flaming the left ought to be easiest
Lying about them goes back so far
An emblem of wingnuts being dishonest.

Yet more and more posts roll by noisily.
Outside the war’s incomplete unrest
builds and disperses the pie in the sky.

And bullshit heaps up on the horizon.
None of them cares for us. Nothing shows why
At this unique distance from comprehension

It becomes still more difficult to find
Words at once true and kind
Or not untrue and not unkind.

47

Mike 08.21.05 at 1:46 pm

I find that the sure fire way to point out how Left-wingers have completely lost the plot. Is to sit back and let them talk. Typically the moonbat will assume, as there’s no one arguing against him, he’s with “family”. He then lets his guard down and starts to speak honestly. Immediately illustrating to one and all exactly what the term “fascist moonbat” really means.

Why go through the trouble of having to try and convince others that large portions of the “Left” are treasonous animals when the loony leftist can do it for you?

M

48

gzombie 08.21.05 at 2:08 pm

At least Kieran knows how to avoid sentence fragments.

49

Delicious pundit 08.21.05 at 3:54 pm

Your scansion does the Left no favors.It’s on the rocks; I like it neatTrue, they shouldn’t call us traitorsBut now, it seems, we’ve ugly feet.

But say we wrote a perfect spondeeSkeptical of Bush and Condi –Our offense is our dissent.Bush and Country, equivalent.

To toe the party line is sweeter:Just keep in file to the rightCall that tunnel’s darkness LightAnd claim we only torture meter.

And if by chance that doesn’t workBellow out, “Trahisons des clercs!”

(See also here.)

50

Delicious pundit 08.21.05 at 3:56 pm

Wow, the above almost looks worse than it reads. Almost. One more try:

Your scansion does the Left no favors.
It’s on the rocks; I like it neat
True, they shouldn’t call us traitors
But now, it seems, we’ve ugly feet.

But say we wrote a perfect spondee
Skeptical of Bush and Condi—
Our offense is our dissent.
Bush and Country, equivalent.

To toe the party line is sweeter:
Just keep in file to the right
Call that tunnel’s darkness Light
And claim we only torture meter.

And if by chance that doesn’t work
Bellow out, “Trahisons des clercs!”

51

Chris Clarke 08.21.05 at 5:30 pm

They are the fallen flames, the lies of churls,
Those lies unblogged now, done through disgust,
But still lies, dented as they plough the dust.
If we the flamed on reading them have hurled,
Seen no Reds worthy to have been their mark,
It is that on the Left we see too clear,
Forgetting that as liberal faggot queers
Our missives always make too high an arc.
They soar o’er dittoed heads, their facts are checked
Yet never heard above the rightist drone;
And so we cringe at one more Limbaugh clone.
Oh this we know: a Mencken or a Brecht
Could flame them till the night resembled dawn
And still they’d grunt and grimace like Stallone.

52

Jake 08.21.05 at 5:33 pm

Chris–
I’d like to think that’s the first time Mencken, Brecht and Stallone have all occurred in the same sentence.

53

bad Jim 08.22.05 at 2:44 am

Clarke’s on it, proof that no matter how bad the situation, it can always get verse.

(Delicious is tasty, too.)

54

Dave F 08.22.05 at 4:24 am

The worst are full of passionate conviction.
As usual.

55

Shelby 08.22.05 at 5:48 pm

Kieran, very nice!

Jet, well analyzed, but alas, unfunny.

Chris, good lord, is that original? Or are you riffing off a Shakespeare or Donne sonnet I’ve overlooked? Either way well done.

56

Chris Clarke 08.22.05 at 10:27 pm

Shelby, that’s a riff on Frost’s A Soldier.

He is that fallen lance that lies as hurled,
That lies unlifted now, come dew, come rust,
But still lies pointed as it ploughed the dust.
If we who sight along it round the world,
See nothing worthy to have been its mark,
It is because like men we look too near,
Forgetting that as fitted to the sphere,
Our missiles always make too short an arc.
They fall, they rip the grass, they intersect
The curve of earth, and striking, break their own;
They make us cringe for metal-point on stone.
But this we know, the obstacle that checked
And tripped the body, shot the spirit on
Further than target ever showed or shone.

57

bad Jim 08.23.05 at 4:01 am

We have proclaimed that since we are at war
we can’t afford the luxury of reason.
No one may question what we’re fighting for.

Our noble cause may vary with the season,
but 9-11 is forevermore.
Alternatives we’ll simply slather sleaze on.

58

Shelby 08.23.05 at 11:48 am

Chris,

Thanks, that makes rather more sense. I hadn’t noted that one by Frost before, though I much enjoy his work. Thanks!

59

Ahistoricality 08.23.05 at 9:56 pm

Political Limerick: Shorter Kieran Healy

There once was a blogger named Kieran
who distilled down the names he’d been hearin’
right wing nuts call
liberals to “small
minded, treasonous villain.”

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