Visions and the Envisioning Visionaries who Envision Them

by Ted on October 30, 2003

Mark Kleiman points out that Luskin’s threatened suit against Atrios is a blatant attempt at harrassing a critic by threatening to reveal his identity. However, we ought to be equally angry at the National Review if they allow Luskin to pursue the lawsuit while he’s on their payroll.

I agree with Mark. However, he’s got to keep in mind that the original vision that William F. Buckley had for the National Review explicitly addresses this eventuality:

* To stand athwart history yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so;
* To become the premier voice for self-reliance, small government, anti-communism, and the state-sponsored punishment of sodomites;
* To openly stand up for the cultural and intellectual superiority of White over Negro until, say, the 70s or so;
* To eventually hand the reins over to chuckle-headed hacks and legacies whose lack of journalistic principles, knowledge of economics, policy, or basic math, or motivating principle apart from loyalty to the GOP leadership will make this publication a bad joke;
* To one day publish a fantasy about the murder of the only child of a politician that we don’t like;
* To justify, by any means possible, revealing of the identity of CIA agents;
* And to have our writers threaten frivolous lawsuits against people who hurt our feelings

The National Review has brilliantly lived up to his dream.

UPDATE: There’s been a lot of talk about John “Eminem” Derbshire’s Chelsea Clinton column in the comments. I should mention that there was quite a controversy about the column at the time. Check out the classy way that he dealt with it.



jb 10.30.03 at 5:09 pm

You know, you guys spend a lot of time pointing out how conservative blog postings take things out of context, or don’t tell the whole story.

Claiming that the Derbyshire article fantasizes about the murder of Chelsea Clinton is just as deceptive and context-omitting as anything Glenn Reynolds or anyone else has done.

Congratulations – you’re not any wiser, better, smarter or more honest than the conservatives you despise – you just lie in different ways.


Steve 10.30.03 at 5:15 pm

I think the problem is that the moniker ‘conservative’ is misapplied to the neo-National Review and most of the so called ‘conservative’ stake-claimers in the blogosphere.

As you correctly note, although I’ll expand upon it a bit, loyalty to the GOP seems to be the only criterion for membership in the ‘conservative’ movement.

Since when are loyalty to elected politicians, expansion of state spending and power, price supports for agriculture, steel tarriffs, and foreign interventionism ‘conservative’ principles?

Mr Bush, his cronies, and his ’til death do we part’ supporters are classic Wilsonian liberals.

There, I said it.


Ophelia Benson 10.30.03 at 5:21 pm

Dang, I’ve never read any Derbyshire before. That guy is *nuts*! You can practically feel the spray of spittle hitting you even just reading him – he must be a real trip in person.

Or will that get you sued. Okay, he’s not nuts – he’s just obsessive, malicious, hyperbolic – oh the hell with it, he’s nuts.


aimai 10.30.03 at 5:24 pm


I just read the “fantasize about killing chelsea clinton” piece and came to exactly the opposite conclusion. Now that we have to hear, ad nauseum, how the left irrationally “hates” Bush I am struck by the fact that this person, whatever his name is, begins, middles, and ends with a baseless (and he admits it is baseless), personal (highly personal) and in its whole imagining quite violent attack on the child of two people who he dislikes. He excoriates her, he exploits her, and he does, indeed, make a joke in quite poor taste about wishing to live in a stalinist or otherwise dictatorial society in which the child could be made to pay for the (fantastized) crimes of her elders. How sick is that? How sick is it to find it funny? How sick is it to make money off such a meaningless, bitchy piece of soft porn violence? Or, alternatively, why do people who pretend to be “conservative” and who tell us they stand up for “conservative” or even “libertarian” principles keep coming back to these transparently authoritarian, fascistic and even stalinistic fantasies of domination and violence. Remember bush saying things “would be easier” for him in a “dictatorship?”



Ted Barlow 10.30.03 at 5:24 pm


You’d have me if I had said “calls for the murder of Chelsea Clinton” or something like that. Derb says that it’s a good thing that we don’t kill the children of political opponents like despots. But Derbyshire absolutely fantasizes about the murder of Chelsea Clinton.

“Chelsea is a Clinton. She bears the taint; and though not prosecutable in law, in custom and nature the taint cannot be ignored. All the great despotisms of the past — I’m not arguing for despotism as a principle, but they sure knew how to deal with potential trouble — recognized that the families of objectionable citizens were a continuing threat. In Stalin’s penal code it was a crime to be the wife or child of an “enemy of the people”. The Nazis used the same principle, which they called Sippenhaft, “clan liability”. In Imperial China, enemies of the state were punished “to the ninth degree”: that is, everyone in the offender’s own generation would be killed, and everyone related via four generations up, to the great-great-grandparents, and four generations down, to the great-great-grandchildren, would also be killed. (This sounds complicated, but in practice what usually happened was that a battalion of soldiers was sent to the offender’s home town, where they killed everyone they could find, on the principle neca eos omnes, deus suos agnoscet — “let God sort ’em out”.)

We don’t, of course, institutionalize such principles in our society, and a good thing too. Our humanity and forbearance, however, has a cost. The cost is, that the vile genetic inheritance of Bill and Hillary Clinton may live on to plague us in the future. It isn’t over, folks. Dr. Nancy Snyderman, a “friend of the family” (how much money did she give them?) is quoted as saying that Chelsea shows every sign of following her parents into politics. “She’s been bred for it,” avers Dr. Snyderman. Be afraid: be very afraid.”

Tell me a little more about the “context” that makes that appropriate for the premier journal of conservative opinion.


Doug 10.30.03 at 5:24 pm

That Derbyshire article isn’t just what Ted says it is. It’s a whole lot viler.

Read the whole thing.


Ophelia Benson 10.30.03 at 5:25 pm

Oh yeah, and that ‘context’ that got omitted from poor Derbyshire’s rave. The context is that he really really hates Chelsea Clinton, he really really hates all Clintons, largely (as far as I can see) for doing things that Republicans do even more, so why he can’t find sources of outrage that are a little more unique to Democrats is a bit of a puzzle. Anyway, he really really really hates Chelsea Clinton, and wants us to know all about it, for the space of a long article, finishing up with the murder fantasy. Yeah, right, Ted got it all wrong. Uhuh.


Rob 10.30.03 at 5:25 pm

I agree with jb. Debyshire provides obvious points that he hates Clinton and the line onviously should be stopped. But I’m sure he’d settle for forced sterilization over death.


Ophelia Benson 10.30.03 at 5:28 pm

Multiple cross-posts there. Yeah, what everybody said. And read that ‘double-bagger’ link, too. All about how ugly Hilary Clinton is and then how ugly all leftish (or his idea of leftish) women are, and what an affront it all is. How dare women be his idea of ugly! The nerve!


Andrew Northrup 10.30.03 at 5:59 pm



J. Ellenberg 10.30.03 at 7:21 pm

What’s interesting is that Derbyshire is rather humane and charming when writing about math. His book on the Riemann hypothesis is very good. Probably most people have certain topics their worse natures simply don’t allow them to talk about fairly or honestly. For me, the New York Yankees. For JD, Chelsea Clinton.

None of which is to deny that the linked article is a nasty piece of work.


Casmir Radon 10.30.03 at 8:48 pm

The Falangists have hijacked the GOP at the same time the Spanish Inquisition has hijacked Protestantism.

And is not “To stand athwart history yelling Stop…” both hubristic and quixotesque? Like standing athwart the Earth’s orbital path yelling stop.


Dave Irvine 10.30.03 at 8:53 pm

Now I understand why Sullivan features a “Derbyshire Nominee” on his blog now and then. Derbyshire is one sick puppy, and I am moved once again to wonder, just what is it about conservatives that makes them attack even the children of people they don’t like?


Barry 10.30.03 at 9:17 pm

Perhaps one could read the article and see why – Derbyshire is some breed of fascist, and would love to use their methods. He isn’t talking about Stalin’s methods with revulsion, but rather envy.


Danny 10.30.03 at 9:55 pm

Nothing like historical inaccuracies to support your position.

At 21, Pitt the Younger was Prime Minister of England.

Or not, seeing as Pitt the Younger took office when he was 24. Solid work, too, with managing miss the fact that there have never been prime ministers of England.


Conrad Barwa 10.30.03 at 10:26 pm

Yeah I think its was 21 when Pitt entered the House (or was it 22) but the guy was pretty precocious. As for the PM of England, it was sloppy but hardly a massive error.

The best bit in Derbyshire’s ‘defence’ was where he says that Chelsea Clinton isn’t an 8 year old girl; true enough but it hardly does much to add to the sight of a mature man who feels that a 21 year-old is somehow deserving of such attention. I assume most political scion families in the US have progeny that are less than flattering to them, the Bushes’ come to my mind. Setting up a column to explore their exploits and then calling it journalism is hardly classy. The excuse that “oh I come from Britain and am bit of Bronx boy” also should be treated with the contempt it deserves.


Dave Irvine 10.30.03 at 10:52 pm

Derbyshire’s “defense” that “some unknowable number of the votes that elected Hillary were inspired by Chelsea” is particularly risible. Tricia and Julie Nixon went out to the public on their father’s behalf, and I don’t recall that they were ever mocked. No liberal expressed fears that “there was another Nixon in our future”, or in any way implied it might be a good thing if they along with their parents were liquidated as enemies of the state.


bryan 10.30.03 at 10:58 pm

well I always liked Chelsea Clinton, I remember when Rush Limbaugh made fun of her I had some fantasies about killing him, most definitely.

However I can’t help but say that this certainly shows all the signs of being meant to be funny, it is somewhat mean-spirited fun, but as he does point out she’s an adult. And in his defence of the original article (I know that it has now been described as Classy meaning absolutely not Classy) there is the following:

“Lunatics might take the piece as an incitement to assassinate Chelsea. This underestimates the subtlety of the lunatic mind, which ranges much wider than this in its search for inspiration. Charlie Manson thought that the Beatles song “Helter Skelter,” which is about a fairground attraction, was telling him to murder movie stars. If we tailor our writing to the sensibilities of lunatics, nothing will get published.

We don’t mock the president’s family. She’s not president’s family. She’s ex-president’s family.

the first part seems to find laughable any suggestion that one should want to go out and kill Chelsea Clinton from reading the article. Which I have to agree that the reasoning in the first article does not really seem to be on the level required to get someone worked up enough to hunt down and exterminate another human being, I guess this is often a problem with humor.

The second part struck me as funny just because of the bitchy tone.

Now I have to admit that while I thought the articles were funny I also found them uncomfortable because of course I didn’t want to read about people disliking Chelsea Clinton, but that didn’t stop them being funny nonetheless.

One thing I find strange here is that at least one person whose intellect I have some respect for, Ted Barlow, is so morally indignant as to resemble one of the grandiose right-wing idiots he normally is so good at puncturing. It reminds me of a shorter Lileks he posted once, something like: “people who say things I don’t like are not funny” or something like that.

Perhaps now one of you will say there are just some things one doesn’t joke about. This is an excellent theory of humor; as an example I give you two words: Full House.
Actually any adequate history of humor will show you that penultimate works in that field are generally on impolite subjects, this is nowhere near one of those but it’s far from the neocon 12 steps to murder that you’ve been ranting, raving and frothing over.


bryan 10.30.03 at 11:20 pm

quoting Ted:
But Derbyshire absolutely fantasizes about the murder of Chelsea Clinton.

okay I read that part Ted, basically I feel like insulting you just as I would feel like insulting a neo-con who claimed high intelligence or truthfulness for Bush (given that those would be lies insulting to my own intellect), but I’ll forbear.

There is absolutely nothing in that section you quoted which could be interpreted as absolutely fantasising about murdering Chelsea Clinton, unless absolutely fantasising with fantasising in italics is usually understood as talking about something that is pretty much unrelated. The obvious context of the part that you quote is not “oh how I wish Uncle Joe was still here so he could send out the troops to get that evil little Chelsea” but rather “Sadly living in a democracy which doesn’t allow the evil methods of nazis, communists, or imperial Chinese, we must suffer the presence of those deplorable Clintons.”

from what I’ve seen of British humor I believe this might even be what is sometimes referred to as irony. or sarcasm, unsure which is which anymore.

I think JB also made some succinct observations on this earlier. you’ve been willfully misreading this in order to put a negative spin on it, I hate republicans but I despise the act of misinterpreting writing, especially misinterpretations this bad.

Perhaps I am mistaken in saying that you have willfully misread it, but I think not, I’ve read enough of your posts to know that you were not brought up in a house filled with Reader’s Digest and nothing else for reading purposes, and were just introduced to the interweb and all its myriad riches last week.


Captain USA 10.31.03 at 12:40 am

What a vile man Mr. Derbyshire reveals himself to be.


Ophelia Benson 10.31.03 at 12:41 am

Yoo hoo. Fantasising about the murder of CC *is not identical with* fantasising about murdering CC. As a matter of fact, it’s quite different. Do be careful about translation. It makes a difference.


Ophelia Benson 10.31.03 at 12:49 am

Okay, now that I’ve read Derbyshire’s pissy response to the people who thought that column was a bit much, I have to ask – what is all this crap about how entitled and rich and greedy and overprivileged and entitled the Clintons are? Eh? *Eh????* Does the name George W Bush mean anything to him? Is he under some delusion that George W Bush earned by the sweat of his brow every atom of money and access and influence and help and fame and name recognition and election to high office that he got, whereas Clinton just kicked back and rode on the glory that comes from being born to nobody in particular in small-town Arkansas and going to Arkansas public schools? Is that what he thinks? Because if it’s not, what in the hell is he raving about? And if it is – how can he possibly think that? Is the man clinically delusional?

[Excuse me, I beg your pardon. I’m not even that fond of the Clintons, I voted for Nader in ’96, but lies get up my nose.]


Galois 10.31.03 at 12:56 am

Derbyshire never ceases to amaze me. In a column today he notes an article in the Daily Telegraph about a report showing British school children spend too much time on World War II and not enough on any other part of English history. The unescapabale conclusion by Derbyshire….

One cannot help but suspect that this has something to do with the fact that the British educational establishment, like our own, is dominated by Lefties, who all hold the peculiar conceit that Hitler was “right-wing,” and therefore an ideological ancestor of, say, George W. Bush.

Of course, ther article never hints that this could be the reason for the focus on Hitler. It points instead to a lack of time, a focus on testing, and lack of money for textbooks. One might also think it has something do with WWII having such an interesting and profound efect on not only Europe, but the world. No, one cannot help but think it must be a vast liberal conspiracy to compare Bush to Hitler.


praktike 10.31.03 at 5:01 am

Wow. Thanks for the reminder of how viscious the right wing is. It’s refreshing to be able to put the current “hate speech” about Bush in its proper context.

Reading this Derbyshire tripe makes me want to puke. I can’t believe anyone would ever defend this money. What a fucking dickhead.

I hate GWB, his policies, and his lies, but I would never bring his daughters into it. They didn’t chose their father.


Keith M Ellis 10.31.03 at 8:03 am

I agree with Praktike. Most of the press about the Bush girls makes me uncomfortable. To my mind, the restaurant assistant manager here in Austin that called the police when one of them tried to order a drink (calling the police wasn’t standard procedure, and additional details made it clear it was politically motivated) is an example of something about politics that brings out some of the worst in human nature. It’s closely akin to the instinct for villification; I suppose it’s the tendency to cast a very wide net, sweeping up the innocent as well as the guilty and then sarificing them as scapegoats.


praktike 10.31.03 at 4:06 pm

BTW, Sully puts the smackdown on Derbyshire, too.

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