The crass jokes, they write themselves

by Henry Farrell on October 25, 2010

Benedict Anderson takes time out of his discussion of the Cuban Revolution in _Under Three Flags_ to tell us that:

bq. With the help of two Asturian anarchists, a young Cuban nationalist called Armando Andre hid a bomb in the roof of the ground-floor toilet of the Captain-General’s palace. The device was supposed to explode when Weyler sat down on the pot, bringing the whole second floor down on his head. The plotters were unaware, however, that Weyler suffered so severely from haemorrhoids that he almost never used the facility, preferring an earthenware field-potty when he had to relieve himself. The bomb went off, but no one was hurt, and Weyler decided to inform Madrid that the explosion had been caused by stoppages which prevented the latrine’s gases from escaping normally.

I am sure that Anderson’s discussion on the same page of how the Captain-General was “partly relieved” at this outcome, and of the “diehard colons” of the Revolution, have _absolutely nothing to do_ with the subject matter of this footnote.

Rhetorical violence

by Henry Farrell on October 25, 2010

Megan McArdle “2010 vintage”:

bq. I thought it was pretty creepy when Jon Chait described another liberal journalist, Michael Kinsley, another journalist, as “curb stomping” economist Greg Mankiw for, yes, daring to suggest that higher marginal tax rates might have incentive effects. Woo-hoo! But why stop with curb-stomping? Wouldn’t it be fun to pile ten-thousand gleaming skulls of supply-siders outside the Heritage Offices? We could mount Art Laffer’s head on a rotating musical pike that plays The Stars and Stripes Forever! Then, in the most hilarious surprise ending of all, the mob could turn on Jon Chait, douse him with gasoline and set him on fire, and then sack the offices of the New Republic!

Megan McArdle “2003 vintage”:

bq. So I was chatting about this with a friend of mine, a propos of the fact that everyone I know in New York is a) more frightened than they’ve been since mid-September 2001 and b) madly working on keeping up the who-the-hell-cares-if -I-get-hit-by-a-truck? insouciance that New Yorkers feel is their sole civic obligation. Said friend was, two short years ago, an avowed pacifist and also a little bit to the left of Ho Chi Minh. And do you know what he said? “Bring it on.”

bq. I can’t be mad at these little dweebs. I’m too busy laughing. And I think some in New York are going to laugh even harder when they try to unleash some civil disobedience, Lenin style, and some New Yorker who understands the horrors of war all too well picks up a two-by-four and teaches them how very effective violence can be when it’s applied in a firm, pre-emptive manner.

I’m afraid I’m not quite bright enough to understand why kerb-stomping-as-a-metaphor for-argumentative-victory is creepy and unfunny, while _actually_ beating up war-protesters with bits of lumber is hee-LAIRIUS. Perhaps someone can tease out the nuances for me in comments.

Update: a commenter points to “this apology by McArdle a couple of years ago”: Fair enough, although it is worth noting that the apology makes much of the claim that she was only suggesting that the two-by-fours should be visited upon “violent protesters.” At the time, her definition of “violent protester” appears to have been a rather expansive one, as suggested by the disagreement between her and our own Daniel Davies in the comment section to her original post. DD noted:

bq. d^2 – The “mayhem” referred to appears to refer to such actions as “walking down the street” when told not to by the police, by the way.

To which he received the reply:

bq. D^2—have you ever been to a rally? Do you know what happens when you try to push past the police barriers? You get into a brawl with the cops, is what. Announcing that you’re going to walk on the street where the police tell you not to is announcing that you’re going to start a melee. There have always been jerks who went to these things spoiling for a fight, and I imagine these ones are going to get a little more than they bargained for. New York is not Seattle.

Or (and I believe I paraphrase fairly here) ‘if you want to walk where you are told not to walk by the police, you’re asking for it.’

What’s Happening to the Republican Party II

by Henry Farrell on October 25, 2010

The “New York Times today”:

bq. The anonymously financed conservative groups that have played such a crucial role this campaign year are starting a carefully coordinated final push to deliver control of Congress to Republicans, shifting money among some 80 House races they are monitoring day by day. … Many of the conservative groups say they have been trading information through weekly strategy sessions and regular conference calls. They have divided up races to avoid duplication, the groups say, and to ensure that their money is spread around to put Democrats on the defensive in as many districts and states as possible — and, more important, lock in whatever gains they have delivered for the Republicans so far.

bq. “We carpet-bombed for two months in 82 races, now it’s sniper time,” said Rob Collins, president of American Action Network, which is one of the leading Republican groups this campaign season and whose chief executive is Norm Coleman, the former senator from Minnesota. “You’re looking at the battle field and saying, ‘Where can we marginally push — where can we close a few places out?’ ”

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