Sunday, March 05, 2006

Crunchy, Soggy, Salty, Minty, and Sweet-and-Sour Conservatism

Apropos Caleb's post on ur-crunchyism in the Economist, I can only say he doesn't go nearly far enough. Why stop at "crunchy" versus "soggy," when granola comes in so many more varieties? In the interest of turning a relatively unified right wing into as many squabbling cliques as one sees on the Left, I would like to revise and extend Caleb's thoughts:

Salty-cons: A salty-con always tells it like it is: straight-up, no rocks, stop-your-whining-and-take-it-like-a-man. The best example is George Will, who hasn't smiled since that "lost weekend" when he sailed out into international waters with WFB in the late 1960s. Charles Krauthammer is also pretty salty, as demonstrated by the fact that he's hidden the fact that he was a cripple since his early 20s almost as well as FDR did. Come to think of it, FDR is about as salty as Jimmy Carter is crunchy, so I'm going to call him a salty-con. Besides, he looks really cool with that cigarette holder.

Ed: Several people have suggested I should add John Derbyshire to the list. At first glance there is a strong case to be made. He is so gloomy that physicists have recently discovered that light actually bends around him. However, he is also English, and as anyone from West Texas knows, that's pretty much the same thing as "gay." It doesn't matter how much of a homophobe he pretends to be. Have you ever noticed that he and Andy Sullivan agree on nearly everything else? In fact, Greg Gutfeld recently told me that Annie Proulx actually based the original "Brokeback Mountain" short story on the summer that Derb and Sully spent herding sheep in the Scottish highlands back when they were in college.

Sweet-and-Sour Cons: Where saltycons want to make you cry, sweet-and-sourcons wrap harsh truths in humor. Think TimesSelect abductee John Tierney, who became famous for his article on why recycling is environmentally hazardous. The fact that S&Scons (not S&Mcons, this is a family blog) delight in making Big Macs out of sacred cows makes them the arch-nemeses of Crunchy Conservatives, who distrust humor as "a frivolous and undignified pursuit unworthy of free men."

Minty-cons are fresh and fun and utterly forgettable once you're done with them. They're the Jessica Albas of the right-wing: more deserving of celeb status than Paris Hilton, but still clearly cruising thanks to a face made for television. Michelle Malkin is today's leading MintyCon, and gets the Scrabble double bonus for being both hot and Asian. Sorry Michelle, but let's be honest: if she was as talented as William Safire and ugly, you know what she'd be doing? That's right, answering Bill Safire's mail. It's not just a girl's game, either, as Sean Hannity proves. Still, just because life isn't fair doesn't mean we should dislike the minty-cons among us. They're useful, so long as they don't make the rest of us look stupid.

Related to the minty-cons are the Glamservatives, who manage to be as intellectually compelling as they are shaggable. All bow to Virginia Postrel, whose opinions will still be widely read long after Fox News replaces Hannity and Colmes with a pair of Brazilian strippers. While standing next to a minty-con just makes you look ugly by comparison, a Glamservative's casts an glow of fabulousness that makes the rest of us look a little bit better by association. William F. Buckley, Jr. is thus the original Glamservative. Anne Coulter could be glam, but she's a bit too harsh. I'll bet she calls her gay male hairdresser "Nancy Boy" and needs to be tied to the chair to prevent her from bashing him. Come to think of it, that should be a show on Fox.

43 Comments:

Blogger K T Cat said...

I'd like to suggest a new category. Hairball cons. We're difficult to get rid of and ultimately unpleasant.

Hey, can I go write a book now and get it talked about all over the web and radio?

5:28 PM  
Blogger James Rovira said...

Ha...alright, this one made me laugh...

8:19 PM  
Blogger Casey said...

Funniest line on the Cruchblog today comes from Rod Dreher: "I'm about to be mostly out of pocket doing book-promotional things for a couple of days, but I wanted to post a few things before I left for the airport."

Ah yes, that ol' small-is-beautiful, local-is-sacred, anti-big-capitalist crunchy lifestyle of airport-hopping to peddle books at mall megastores.

Before James rightfully reminds me that we're all hypocrites, some of Rod's fellow-NROers are also getting tired of his anti-big-capitalist talk vs. his pro-big-capitalist walk. JPod got on the horn to announce that, as a truly crunchy person, he wouldn't travel across the country in anything except a wagon train.

At least the Crunchblog has gotten off the food thing, which had turned duller than Frederica's deep-frozen veggie burritos. Now Stegall is saying that Homer Simpson is a crunchy con, which has set off much mirth from Podhoretz and Goldberg.

Still wish they would discuss birth control, the subject Dreher dropped so casually on the Crunchblog yesterday.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

The hilarious thing is that, in the post in which Rod announced his world tour, he asks whether crunchies are doing enough to live out their principles.

In his defense, he admits that he's "especially bad" about such things, but I see no hint of irony or self-awareness when he essentially writes, "Are we crunchy enough? Oops, I'm about to miss my flight."

To make things even more amusing, Caleb Stegall responds to Rod's post by suggesting that we all ought to be farmers but recognizing that "even crunchies will by and large succumb to the pressure to sacrifice their kids to the opportunity swindle of higher-ed that takes their generational wealth far from home promising Gay Par-ee! but mostly only delivering a life of servitude, the shackles of early debt, skills suited only to doing what one is told, an aversion to physical labor, and a death-of-education one-way ticket to the soulless cubicles of Dilbert-ville."

And who is Caleb Stegall, one might wonder? Is he a farmer or a stay-at-home dad who resisted the temptation of higher education?

Ahem.

"Caleb Stegall is a private attorney and legal counselor heading The Stegall Law Firm. Formerly of Foulston-Siefkin and former law clerk to the Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Stegall graduated Order of the Coif from the University of Kansas School of Law where he served as a member of the editorial staff of the Kansas Law Review. Stegall has previously published commentary in Touchstone, Books & Culture Online, Comment, Re:generation Quarterly, and Reformed Presbyterian Witness. He lives with his wife, Ann, and their four sons in rural Kansas."

Sure, he's a lawyer who worked for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Kansas Law Review, but he lives in rural Kansas. He is, truly, the salt of the earth.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Casey said...

I shouldn't have been so quick to dismiss the Crunchblog foodfest as dull. Jack Fowler just posted a wickedly (and unlike the crunchies' stuff, intentionally) funny broadside against the Diet Imans.

Jack, the crunchies won't pry my Hershey bars out of my cold, clammy hands...because they'll be dead first.

Just kidding...I think.

12:13 PM  
Blogger James Rovira said...

Bubba -- check your facts more carefully. Caleb Stegall quit the law firm and is trying to live out his principles on a farm.

10:01 PM  
Blogger Casey said...

I don't know that Stegall has quit his law practice. Google gave me the phone number to The Stegall Law Firm. I tried the number and got...Stegall's voicemail!

How crunchy! Anyway, Stegall's recorded voice just gave today's date and said he was away from his presumably crunchy desk. Maybe he was busy bustin' sod with a horse-drawn plow.

6:08 AM  
Blogger James Rovira said...

I didn't say he wasn't practicing law. I said he quit his job with the firm he used to work for. Not sure why continuing to practice law is inherently a bad thing or contrary to crunchy principles -- the implication that it is is pretty dumb, actually. The question is, -how- is law being practiced? To what ends?

6:28 AM  
Blogger Casey said...

I don't have a clue as to what kind of law Stegall practices, and I really don't care. I just have to smile a little when one of the world's biggest cheerleaders for the sacred, wonderful, awe-inspiring traditional agricultural lifestyle sends me to voicemail at his law firm. I bet all those old-time sodbusters had lots of options on their voicemail software.

Yes, I know the usual line that we're all hypocrites. But it seems like the crunchies dislike and distrust today's technology...except when they use it themselves.

6:46 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

James, the information I quoted is from The New Pantagruel, an online magazine for which Mr. Stegall is the editor.

(Editing an online mag: there's a crunchy vocation.)

If you think that I should "check [my] facts more carefully," are you implying that Caleb Stegall is not a reliable source for information about Caleb Stegall?


At any rate, it doesn't seem to me it matters much how he's practicing law, unless it's from behind a plow.

I'm not the one who criticized college as "the opportunity swindle of higher-ed that takes their generational wealth far from home promising Gay Par-ee! but mostly only delivering a life of servitude, the shackles of early debt, skills suited only to doing what one is told, an aversion to physical labor, and a death-of-education one-way ticket to the soulless cubicles of Dilbert-ville."

Stegall wrote that. After attending college. And law school. And presumably making a pretty hefty sum for practicing law. Which he still does.


Consider the viciousness with which Caleb Stegall has attacked non-crunchy consevatives -- "soggy" people who exhibit a mindset that is "coldblooded," "sterile," and "not quite human".

People who move away from home? They're "selfish." Parents who don't stay at home? They're "negligent."

And now, higher education is a swindle.

You don't think a man who speaks with such self-righteous arrogance ought to have the light shined on his life?

7:26 AM  
Blogger James said...

I think the crunchies have made a lot of dubious points, but tracking down and calling one of their phone numbers does seem a bit obsessive and stalker-ish. (Although I would agree that the point drawn from the discovey of his voice mail is valid.)

9:08 AM  
Blogger Casey said...

Obsessive and stalker-ish? Oh, come on. I just wanted to see if Stegall's work phone number, which he listed on a public web site, was operative.

I have no intention of stalking or obsessing about Stegall in any way, shape or form, and I don't much care for the implication that I do. The only point I was making is that Stegall doesn't mind using up-to-date technology like voicemail and the Internet in his work - and his work is hardly the traditional farming life he so lavishly praises.

By now it's no secret that the crunchies don't practice what they preach. But it is a little amusing that the most fervent crunchy of them all - Caleb Stegall - doesn't mind using the conveniences of modern technology in his law practice.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Casey said...

Stegall just got on the Crunchblog to brag about raising and slaughtering his own chickens. Has this guy ever admitted on that blog that he's a lawyer? From his posts you'd think that all he did was chainsaw timber and raise livestock.

By the way, Stegall's tone has improved recently, though he still sounds preachy about us wretched non-crunchies: "There is only so much reality modern man can take, and it seems he can take less and less of it as time goes on."

That line was irritating when T.S. Eliot expressed more succinctly, and it doesn't improve with the Stegall treatment. But at least he doesn't shout that non-crunchies are "not quite human."

I can't tell you how I know this, but there was some very direct intervention at NRO to get Stegall to tone it down. Looks like the intervention worked, at least partly.

10:42 AM  
Blogger SophiaQ said...

Perhaps some of you have heard of "working out of your home."

Most professionals who do so have a separate business line. When people call and get voice mail, what makes you think that they can make any reliable assumption about *where* the particular office is?

If Caleb has formed his own one-man law firm and is working at home so as to better live out his crunchy philosophy, more power to him!

12:05 PM  
Blogger kathleen said...

what is so crunchy about working at home? a lot of dreaded "mainstreeeaam" conservatives work out of their homes, after all.

6:16 AM  
Blogger Hey said...

What's wrong with Caleb is that he has said that leaving home is bad, university is evil (and presumably grad school is worse), and that we should all be subsistence farmers.

He's know a hobby farmer with a law practice and an online opinion magazine that he edits.

He is nowhere close to living his ideal, and the fact the he has been hectoring people like me as unconservative for daring to try to make the world a better place and leaving home for education opportunities disgusts me.

These people are a serious threat to our party, country, civilisation, and continued survival. They elevate the tribal values that mire the middle east in suspicion, violence, and poverty. They celebrate the idea of subsistence agriculture as the truest good, denigrating the city of man as unworthy of the attentions of conservatives (or anyone) and that only the city of god matters.

They are eo-feudal luddites with a thirst for theocracy and obscurantism, mirroring the worst sort of christian though and policy that brought about the fall of Rome and more than a thousand years of barbarism. They need to be confronted at every turn and exiled from the community of respectable people.

I'm disappointed that NR has not aggressively culled them as they desrve, but it pleases me that Caleb at least has been disciplined somewhat

5:10 PM  
Blogger James said...

I apologize for the terminology I used to describe Casey. As for me, I couldn't imagine myself calling a pundit who was a complete stranger to see if he had a voice mail or not, but that's probably because I'm shy/cowardly, not because those who would make such a call are obsessive.

6:59 PM  
Blogger G.J. said...

Some of you people are incredible fools, and your obsession with the "crunchy" is very hard to account for. Scroll down the New Pantagruel masthead a little further, my fair nematodes. What does it say there? "James Rovira?"

I point his out not to legitimate the foolish adolescent diatribes about "hypocrisy" but in the hope of inducing a little calm and reasonableness, but perhaps Casey and Bubba prefer to assault straw men with conspiracy theories and the conviction that they know all, including the fact that the evil crunchies think they know all.

I do not know all, but I know Mr. Rovira is accurate in his facts about Mr. Stegall and that Mr. Stegall has not been "disciplined." I am very curious as to what that might mean to any imagination.

Now I would prefer to settle this outbreak of insult and barbarism with a duel, but the whiff of cowardice hangs heavy in these quarters, and for all I know, it is to be explained by the calumny of third-rate junior high school minds who merely want a good pandying. I administered one to Mr. Goldberg some years ago, and I think he was mildly improved by it.

7:33 AM  
Blogger SGT Ted said...

Most of these "crunchy" cons didn't grow up on a farm or ranch so they romanticize this existance, like big city leftwing enviros. Having grown up in and around the ranch and farm lifestyle made the Army seem easy in comparison, so I went there. Crunchies are as pretentious and ignorant of their preferred but seldom practiced lifestyles as limousine libs eating a rice dinner at $500.00 a plate to combat homelessness and hunger.

8:24 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

G.J., it is obvious that a person who calls others fools and nematodes is not the least bit interested in "inducing a little calm and reasonableness."

It is also no brave thing (nor a sign of maturity) for a schmuck from the New Pantagruel to lament from behind an Internet connection how he would like to settle things with a duel.

I missed the fact that Rovira's from the New Pantagruel, just as Rovira apparently missed the fact that I had quoted from his own irrelevant web magazine when he told me to check my facts more carefully.

Are you saying that I don't know all the facts about Caleb Stegall's life, so that my criticism is off-base? (It's so hard to tell what precisely you're saying, as enamored as you clearly are with your gift of using a thesaurus.)

If my criticism is out of line, what do you say about Stegall's blanket condemnation of people who move away from home, people who aren't stay-at-home parents, and people who allow/encourage their children to go to college?

Are you too busy calling us barbaric worms to address the content of our criticism?

10:13 AM  
Blogger G.J. said...

Stegall did not make a "blanket condemnation of people who move away from home." He said there are generally selfish reasons for doing so. This hardly implies no necessarily valid judgement of any specific case, nor does it imply anything about his own life. If he has made such a move himself, perhaps he has regrets. Do regrets necessarily imply a wrong choice that one would decide differently in retrospect? Maybe but not necessarily. Does "selfish" imply "sin to be avoided at all costs" in Stegall's view? I doubt it. I saw it as a point about hidden costs not usually counted when they ought to be.

I don't recal a "blanket condemnation" of "people who aren't stay-at-home parents" either, just a remark about putting *infants* in day care being almost always uneccessary and wrong, probably because he sees it as a selfish choice with high costs for the child and society, among other considerations. That is all common sense, common experience, and well backed-up by people who study these things.

On college, again no "blanket condemnation" but an observation of the thoughtlessness of those who see college very instrumentally as some kind of union card for the middle class. With the kind of debt load and degraded education that is common these days, it hardly seems a risible criticism if you look at the facts. There are many young striplings entering the work force today $20k+ in the hole to show for a paltry to middling quality education which gets them an entry level management job with something like Enterprise rent-a-car. With the cash and equity they and they parents put into four years of education, a man of average intelligence could make a cool half million easily in real estate.

4:15 PM  
Blogger G.J. said...

"This hardly implies no necessarily valid judgement of any specific case..." Gah! I meant: to note some degree of selfishness in the usual motives for moving does not necessarily imply that any given choice to move is ethically unjustifiable.

An analogy: the desire for "one for the road" frequently indicates a motive toward immoderate alcohol consumption. It does not necessarily imply that every last "one for the road" indicates an alcoholic or tips the scales of propriety, prudence, good sense, or the legal limit. It implies a need for caution and self-examination.

Applied to the family and mobility issue, it hardly seems unreasonable to suggest that we pay more attention to moral calculations that are often overlooked at a time when the president's bioethics council (I think that was it) is saying there is no way Americans can handle the needs of the aging unless there is a sharp spike in the number of multi-generational households or children physically close enough to parents to care for them.

4:26 PM  
Blogger James Rovira said...

Bubba -- I probably misread your post, and took it to be claiming more than it was. I've gone back to reread it and all you said was that Caleb was currently a lawyer who -worked for- (past tense -- I probably read it present tense somehow) the tenth circuit court of appeals, and that is true.

I still think your reasoning is ridiculous, on two points.

First, the fact that Caleb has benefited from education in the past doesn't mean he has no right to criticize US education in the present. I teach at a small liberal arts college, and I think Caleb's assessment of the college climate is basically right -- with some caveats about what field you go in to, what college you go to, etc.

The fundamental assumption you're working with is that for one to advocate for a moral position, one must have lived consistently with it for one's entire life.

That's simply ridiculous. People can change their minds.

Next, you're still playing the rather adolescent hypocrite card. As far as I can tell, Caleb is doing more to get crunchy than anyone I've met or read about. He's sacrificed significant income potential with the decisions he's made. As I said in my most recent comment to the first post on this blog, the difference between the sincere and the hypocrite doesn't lie in perfect adherence to one's principles, but in the trajectory of one's life.

It'd be more intelligent to argue on principle rather than keep talking like a bitter teenager.

5:27 PM  
Blogger Casey said...

I've already pointed out how the crunchies play the hypocrisy card against the wretched "mainstream conservatives" they so dislike. (The gospel according to Dreher, p.15.) But when crunchies do it, I guess it's not adolescent.

Stegall was strongly advised to take down a challenge he posted on the crunchblog to NRO staffers about using daycare, among other things concerning their personal lives. And, in fact, the challenge got taken down. I can't get any more specific because my source requested anonymity. Since then Stegall's been a little more careful with his language.

6:24 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

James and G.J.:

Since none of us mere humans are perfect, I don't require one to be perfect in order to uphold some moral standard.

(Though I do believe that the standard of crunchy conservatism appears to be internally inconsistent, so that even a perfect adherent to that hypocritical standard could not help but be a hypocrite.)

My problem is not really that Caleb Stegall appears to have lived a life inconsistent with what he preaches, but that there seems to be no admission of that fact on the CC blog. Rod Dreher admits he lives an inconsistent life, and that admission goes a long way to keeping me as a reader open to his criticism of modern life.

James, you write that Caleb's basically right about college "with some caveats about what field you go in to, what college you go to, etc." Well, as far as I can tell, he hasn't been making those caveats. He has been making fairly broad (nearly universal) condemnations of certain lifestyle choices. I believe that you and G.J. are considering what he wrote in light of what you know about him; take what he's written at the CC blog at face value, as if you don't know him, and perhaps you will see how (at least superficially) offensive his comments have been.

Between this lack of humble honesty about his own life and the nearly vicious criticism of others, Caleb Stegall is coming off (at least in my opinion) as a modern-day Pharisee, arrogant and censorious.

To give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe Caleb has misunderstood the blog's audience. The blog isn't just for a "mutual admiration society" (a much more vulgar phrase comes to mind), it's for those who are on the convivial, lovingly handmade fence about the whole proposition.

When Stegall suggested that Jonah Goldberg was guilty of Stalinsm, Lopez felt compelled to write, "a few more posts like that last one and good luck, Crunchies, convincing anyone but each other that you've got something constructive to offer." Maybe Stegall hasn't really grasped that pursuasion is part of the point of the blog.

Lopez, Goldberg, and Jim Geraghty all apparently think that Stegall's written some things that are provocative, bordering on the offensive. It seems highly unlikely to this NRO-nik that they're all completely off-base.

6:32 AM  
Blogger James Rovira said...

The tu quoque fallacy -- "you too" -- asserts that because an opponent has done the same thing, therefore condemnation of it in this instance is wrong.

It's quite possible that charges of hypocrisy on the CC blog are just as adolescent as charges of hypocrisy here. I haven't been over there the last few days to look -- I don't read it every day.

I will say that the charges of hypocrisy here seem to be along the lines of, "Don't criticize this lifestyle, it makes me feel bad about things I can't do anything about," while charges of hypocrisy there seem to follow from valid priciple.

I'll side with principle. I'll admit that I live and have lived in a lot of ways that are inconsistent with some of my core values, simply because those are the simple options societally available to me. It doesn't bother me to admit this and see that I'm still doing so. This realization just gives me a trajectory.

My wife thinks along crunchy lines much more naturally than I do, and the net effect of all this is for me to pay closer attention to what she says about these things. For her, it's just a few little things -- use cloth diapers or organic diapers, eat organic foods or from the local farmer's market when possible, don't feed the kid baby food in jars but feed him real food we make ourselves, etc. They're just little things, but they're a beginning.

Now, Caleb and I have had our disagreements about higher ed. in the past -- probably two years ago. But I have moved closer to his position since my wife worked in the public school system. He's probably still much more absolutist about this than I am.

So far as a lack of humility on his part goes -- I really don't care. That's between he and God. I care about the truth of his words and don't need all truth spoon fed to me. Again, bristling under the manner of presentation without recongizing the truth being presented is somewhat adolescent.

He may indeed be failing in his obligation to present the truth in love, but that won't keep me from failing in my obligation to recognize and acknowledge the truth in all its forms.

Honestly, though, I don't think he's all that bad.

8:20 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

James, you wrote that "the charges of hypocrisy here seem to be along the lines of, 'Don't criticize this lifestyle, it makes me feel bad about things I can't do anything about.'"

I don't believe that I am personally guilty of any such thing. In which case, I would welcome you to begin addressing the substance of what I've written.

I stand to be corrected, of course.


And it's nice to see you so concerned with the truth that you give Caleb Stegall a pass for being an asshole. Of course, you have no trouble calling us "shrill", which makes me wonder how consistently you cling to your obligation to recognize and acknowledge the truth in all its forms.

Maybe you're not guilty of hypocrisy in this case, but I'm sure that, if you are, it's for the most principled of reasons.

10:23 AM  
Blogger Casey said...

James, you might have to go after NRO writer Maggie Gallagher as well. She just slammed Dreher for - oh, I won't use the h-word - inconsistency:

"A true traditionalism would not be represented by people who move to Dallas, buy a nice bungalow and invite friends over for tasty organic cooked food."

What's even worse is that Stegall approvingly quoted the passage on the crunchblog. He seems to be piling on Dreher for, uh, inconsistency as well. This could get interesting, no?

At any rate, it is perfectly valid to look at the way Dreher is marketing his book to see if it is consistent with the book's own argument. And in all honesty, peddling the book at mall megastores, News Corp. cable TV outlets, and super-capitalist (and porn-laden) websites doesn't look all that crunchy. So why does Dreher get a free pass, while the rest of us must follow the One True Way Of Crunchiness?

It's correct that Dreher seems at least somewhat conscious of his strayings from the crunchy path, while Stegall appears oblivious to his own inconsistencies. But people are going to note the obvious - oh hell, I'll say it - hypocrisy in any case.

8:29 AM  
Blogger James Rovira said...

Eh...I haven't really seen any credible inconsistencies with crunchiness being pointed out in Caleb's case. They seem to either follow from the fact that he's participated in all this stuff -in the past-, or make really dumb generalities about practicing law.

Small town lawyers can do a lot of good for a lot of people.

At any rate, condemnation of inconsistent -practice- is not the same as condemnation of inconsistent -principle-.

I would rather see a person fail in their attempts to do the right thing than succeed in their disregard of the right thing.

Again, addressing the -principles- would seem to me to be the -adult- way to proceed.

Shrill is a good word, yes. But shrill isn't the same as hypocritical. See dictionary.com.

1:21 PM  
Blogger James Rovira said...

One follow up:

Why does Dreher get a free pass?

No one's given him one. My failure to address Dreher doesn't reflect on the accuracy of my critiques -here-, just as your failure to adequately or intelligently critique crunchy conservatism is not proof that it's above critique.

But let's say I was to give Dreher a free pass.

Let's assume that he's arguing from valid principles. Doesn't he have an obligation to disseminate them as widely as possible? We have to work within the system to change it. We have to use media to change people's response to media.

Are we inherently compromised by doing so?

Eh...possibly.

Does that mean we should make no attempt to make change?

No.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Casey said...

Don't worry. I just follow the rule: What Would Rod Dreher Do? So I'm going to enjoy all the benefits of big capitalism and modern technology, just as he does. Oh, I probably won't subject my kids to a dangerous crime-ridden area just because I get a pretty house "for a song."

As for our ol' buddy Stegall, he just posted his most obnoxious thing ever on the crunchblog:

"Conservatives who care about the military and about the strength of our national character ought to be concerned with the decadence inherent in much that Rod critiques. Sure, they won’t give a hoot about sandals and organic chicken, but they should care in a violent world about where we will find the kinds of men needed to honorably defend our country. From the suburban landscape of instant gratification, fear, and spoiled denizens of personal desire? Seems doubtful."

At this moment tens of thousands of suburban kids are putting it on the line in Iraq and Afghanistan. Meanwhile, Stegall is sitting on his asshole in Kansas, practicing law and pretending to be a dirt farmer on the crunchblog.

As I said on another thread, our local high school, located in a suburb north of Dallas, has lost two graduates in the Iraq war. I want this...object...Stegall to tell those kids' parents that their sons came from a landscape of instant gratification, fear, and spoiled denizens of personal desire.

5:17 PM  
Blogger Casey said...

One correction: I want that...thing...Stegall to tell every parent of a suburban kid who has died in Iraq or Afghanistan that their child came from a landscape of instant gratification, fear, and spoiled denizens of personal desire.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Casey said...

Allright, as I said on another thread, I've calmed down. I still believe Stegall's unconscionable slander against the suburban kids fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan is repulsive, unfair, disgusting...well, you add your own adjectives.

But I shouldn't have let myself get so angry. I'm a little ashamed that I let Stegall bother me as much as he did.

10:27 PM  
Blogger G.J. said...

Casey, what makes you think Mr. Stegall has such complete control over what gets posted? As I understand it, he has to pass censors, and they clamped down in the case you mention. I suppose you were using "discipline" as a clever substitute for "censorship."

Funny how you seem to agree with the censors taking out questions about NRO staffers' "personal lives," but this is precisely what Bubba wants to dig in re. Stegall.

I previously thought this blog might be occupied mainly by pseudonymous NRO staff, but now I think it is just a pathetic cadre of adolescent hangers-on who scurry with glee like rodents with rotten food when someone "inside" feeds them some shop gossip.

Well so much for the censors today. Maybe it is the give 'em enough rope strategy. But don't stretch the rope too early kids. A million books, movies and TV shows have for years essentialy implied that suburbanites come "from a landscape of instant gratification, fear, and spoiled denizens of personal desire."

How un-American.

A good NRO toady doesn't even need Lopez, Goldberg, and Geraghty to all agree this is *provocative!* and *bordering on the offensive!* Indeed, HIGHLY offensive!

Well then.

Bubba used the phrase "certain lifestyle choices." Perhaps he'd like to answer the question Pod-man totally avoided. It's bad to pick on certain "lifestyle choices" but not others. Suburbs good, married gay men bad? (Wait, aren't gay men sometimes crunchy? And butch lesbians for sure.)

Re. Bubba's wondering questions:

"Why does Caleb not list his faults, why does he not try to persuade by making nice humble talk to turn his radical ideas into mild suggestions?"

In general and especially given Jonah's early attacks on CC as a personality cult of superficial "lifestyle choices" as political fashions, it makes little sense or Stegall or anyone else to write at length about their own lives, limitations, compromises, and failings just to assure every last sensitive reader that they do not think they are "better than anyone else." It is inappropriate and irrelevant.

Finally, Bubba deeply misunderstands NR/O and CCblog. Goldberg and others have positively hated CC for years. They have had every intention of using this forum to subvert, coopt, or simply beat down CC if possible.

1:07 AM  
Blogger Pauli said...

To elucidate his opinion of this blog, Father Jape wrote:

> now I think it is just a
> pathetic cadre of adolescent hangers-on
> who scurry with glee like rodents with
> rotten food when someone "inside"
> feeds them some shop gossip.

Whoa - I think that's probably what Dan Rather wanted to say about LGF. I think the shrill award has to go to G.J.

There's something I've been really curious about, Father. Are you a real Jesuit Priest or do you just play one on the internet? Only, you see, I've never been called those things by a good Catholic before, let alone a priest, and I want to know if I should lose my faith over a slight technical misunderstanding.

6:50 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

G.J.:

Funny how you seem to agree with the censors taking out questions about NRO staffers' "personal lives," but this is precisely what Bubba wants to dig in re. Stegall.

It's not so funny if you realize that Casey and I are two different people, so it's not necessary that we agree on every single thing. Caleb Stegall accused Jonah for being inconsistent because of something Podhoretz wrote, and now Casey is inconsistent because of something that *I* wrote?

I've made very clear that a few of my criticisms are pointed at Stegall alone, and not Dreher; I distinguish among different people on the same side, and I wish you would do the same.


Bubba used the phrase "certain lifestyle choices." Perhaps he'd like to answer the question Pod-man totally avoided. It's bad to pick on certain "lifestyle choices" but not others. Suburbs good, married gay men bad? (Wait, aren't gay men sometimes crunchy? And butch lesbians for sure.)

I'm not sure you actually want an answer, considering that you've called us "adolescent hangers-on" and compared us to rats.

To answer your question, all I've said is that Stegall has indeed painted with a broad brush. He hasn't used the caveats that James says he has, and he has recently admitted nearly as much.

His criticism is obviously controversial (and downright offensive to many), but I don't think I've ever said that certain lifestyle choices are off-limits when it comes to criticism.

I don't think Stegall's particular criticism is wholly accurate and I don't believe the solution the crunchy cons seem to support (as much as it can be discerned) will be effective.

But I don't think I've ever suggested anything like "It's bad to pick on certain 'lifestyle choices' but not others."

Has Podhoretz? I'm not sure; to my disappointment, he hasn't been that substantive in the CC blog, but I shouldn't be asked to divine his thoughts and answer the question on his behalf.


In general and especially given Jonah's early attacks on CC as a personality cult of superficial "lifestyle choices" as political fashions, it makes little sense or Stegall or anyone else to write at length about their own lives, limitations, compromises, and failings just to assure every last sensitive reader that they do not think they are "better than anyone else." It is inappropriate and irrelevant.

I'm not asking for anyone to write "at length" about their own failings. I just can't understand why Stegall seems incapable of displaying even a measure of the humility that Dreher's displayed. I disagree with Rod Dreher on a lot of things re: this entire discussion, but I respect him a helluva lot more than Caleb Stegall because he tempers his posts with Christian charity and humilty.


Finally, Bubba deeply misunderstands NR/O and CCblog. Goldberg and others have positively hated CC for years. They have had every intention of using this forum to subvert, coopt, or simply beat down CC if possible.

I'm frankly not sure this lengthy critique is just overflowing with hatred.

Does CC have Goldberg's respect? Obviously not, but it's possible that Jonah Goldberg is giving the whole thing a fair-minded look and is simply not convinced by what he has seen. It's possible that Goldberg's hateful, but it's also possible that CC is just inadequate -- or at least, hasn't yet made its case adequately.


If I may, I think that you New Pantagruel guys have -- as a collective -- thrown around a lot of pejoratives. According to y'all, people who move to another part of the country are selfish; people who take their kids to daycare are negligent; people who live in the suburbs are decadent cowards who indulge humanity's most base appetites; and we who have been skeptical of the whole thing are adolescents and vermin.

I don't think you realize it, but y'all are wasting your time attacking the rest of us. You should be spending that time trying to persuade us. Even if no one's positions changed, at least we would be having an actual dialogue and we would come to understand everyone else's positions better.

But you apparently lack both the decency and the intelligence to censor yourselves -- the decency to respect those who disagree with you, and the intelligence to know that your vitriol is counter-productive.

If the staff at NRO is censoring Caleb Stegall because he can't censor himself, they're doing y'all a favor by making you appear to be more civil than you are.

7:14 AM  
Blogger Casey said...

It's a matter of punbic record that Stegall's challenge to NRO staffers about using daycare and the size of their families and other very personal matters was taken down. A staff member at NRO who requested anonymity advised me that the site's editor forced Stegall to take down the chalenge.

So that's the story. If it makes me a scurrying rodent in the view of Fr. Jape, I'll just have to bear my troubles. (It won't be hard.)

I hope Fr. Jape - if he's really a Catholic priest - never gets assigned to a suburban parish. I would hate to see him become a part of the that landscape of instant gratification, fear, and spoiled denizens of personal desire.

Halfway seriously, I agree with Bubba's distinction between Dreher and Stegall. At least Rod seems capable of self-examination and self-criticism. He knew that he got himself into a mess with his gunshots and junkies yesterday, so he backpedaled into a far less judgmental attitude towards the suburbs.

Stegall never seems to learn. Even when he tried to back off from his repulsive comment about the suburbs not producing soldiers to defend our country, he insisted - without a shred of evidence - that this "trend" is real.

I actually feel sorry for Rod. He's trying to hurry the blog along from suburb-bashing to education. He knows that the crunchies had a real bad day yesterday.

9:19 AM  
Blogger Casey said...

That should be "public record." Hey, it could have been worse (wink).

Amd let me apologize again for the harshness of my personal attack on Stegall. I shouldn't have called him a "thing" and an "object," and I shouldn't have referred to his, uh, rectal orifice. But I don't back down at all from my substantive comments about his really repulsive libel on the tens of thousands of brave suburban kids fighting and dying for this country.

9:29 AM  
Blogger G.J. said...

Perhaps the biggest misunderstanding here is simply this: many commenters assume they are representative of a super majority that will hold that position for the foreseeable future. Thus you deserve to be told only what you want to hear--i.e., "persuaded." Forget about it. Read Steyn, read "Spengler," read anyone eying heeding demographic trends. The "crunchy caliphate" is coming, like it or not, and if you'd put your hysterics aside, you'd realize the "american taliban" reaction is grossly unfair--and very lefty.

You have really mis-stated the "attack on the suburbs" as if you read nothing Stegall actually writes without predeteriming that it will say the awful things you want and need it to say. You might be interested in a new book by a former Christianity Today editor and pastor, called Death By Suburb. It recounts the author's soul-sucking experience in Wheaton, IL and his efforts since then to articulate and remediate the problem causes.

I guess he's Attila the Hun too.

10:55 AM  
Blogger G.J. said...

Really, you should see the mail CCblog is eliciting for your despised enemies. The book is making conservative dems rethink their position. The NRO crapsters on the CCblog are making a lot of conservative republicans rethink their position. Maybe they can start a third party and screw things up along with the Greens and other "quirky" types. Probably they'll just revolt and throw everyone else in the village stocks. Scary.

11:08 AM  
Blogger Bubba said...

G.J., I will once again speak for no one else, but I for one do not believe that crunchies should try to persuade others of their beliefs because I represent "a super majority that will hold that position for the foreseeable future."

I have the expectation because it's what decent human beings ought to do with each other. Right now, for instance, I'm explaining myself in what is apparently becoming an increasingly useless attempt to have you at least understand my position. I'm trying my best not to call you names.



About this "American Taliban" nonsense, I've checked this blog and the CC blog, and the word "Taliban" came up only three times: your comment just now, and Stegall twice defending himself from an accusation that no one apparently made.

No one is comparing you to the Taliban.

Fact is, if you've read my criticism in another part of this blog, you'll see that my criticism is not the criticism of a strict secularist who likes to compare Christian conservatives to the Taliban and the Inquisition.

It's that the standard that CC's uphold pales in comparison to THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT.

You're talking to a fellow Christian conservative here, one who thinks that the local government ought to be free even to reflect some of the religious values of its people, one who thinks that even the federal government is constitutionally permitted to invoke the name of God and is doing a good thing when it does so.

If you seriously think that this negative reaction is stemming solely from a secularist worldview, you're going to continue to be disappointed that your predictions don't match reality.


You have really mis-stated the "attack on the suburbs" as if you read nothing Stegall actually writes without predeteriming that it will say the awful things you want and need it to say. You might be interested in a new book by a former Christianity Today editor and pastor, called Death By Suburb. It recounts the author's soul-sucking experience in Wheaton, IL and his efforts since then to articulate and remediate the problem causes.

I misread Stegall, going out of my way to read it in the worst possible light, but suburbs suck people's souls? Which is it? Is Stegall really saying something less offensive than I'm interpreting? Or do you agree that suburbia is an expression of "our basest appetites"?

Or do you want have your convivial cake and eat it, too? Do you want to say truly controversial things and pout when it actually creates a controversy? Do you want us just to swallow your every proclamation as if you just came down from Sinai with it carved in stone tablets?

(Or does that last question answer itself?)


And I think you should answer Paul's question: Are you a real Jesuit Priest or do you just play one on the internet?

11:52 AM  
Blogger G.J. said...

Stegall never said anything as harsh as this soul-sucking Wheaton author I mentioned. (Maybe you'd have to see the book.) That was my point, which you ignored in order to throw down a bunch of rhetorical questions. I think you overstate Stegall's harshness. Other credible people have put worse down in print. But what matters is not who has the proper level of harshness but what is true. All you're doing is talking about your feelings as if you are the global standard. What upsets you is beyond the pale. Did someone say "narcissist?"

Controversy is fine, if it involves more than people talking past each other. Which I think you or others here have identified as being a problem.

9:30 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Controversy is fine, if it involves more than people talking past each other.

Let me guess that you don't see the irony of your having written that.

6:49 AM  

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