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September 29, 2005


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During my late afternoon commute I sometimes find myself flipping the AM dial back and forth between the various Right-Wing pundits...Rush, Sean, and Bill.. I listen to them, not because I anticipate a profound intellecutal debate, I listen to them because they're nuts. Radio-hosts,like Bill Bennett, make outrageous comments as means to "out-conservative" their rivals. Similar Howard Stern's shock-jock antics, these guys don't give a shit about who they're offending as long as it gets them higher ratings, book deals, and spots of Fox News...

...this doesn't speak to the nature of the Right-wing, it speaks to the nature of blowhards looking to make a buck. The problem with the left is that they take jackasses like this seriously and not with a grain of salt...


RodKong, I will respectfully disagree. I think Bennett, while an unlikely advocate of genocide, is expressing something truthful about his position - that crime is largely a racially specific issue and not a class or economic one. He might add something about a "culture of poverty" but it still makes the point.


Since Bennett had been the education tsar as well as a values champion, I didn't think that people viewed him the same as Rush, who has always been a radio figure (and doesn't the same go for Sean?) I thought the only real connection with Rush is that both he and Bennett had addiction problems (pills and gambling).

Also, as a general guide to thinking, I tend to agree with Zizek that the truth lies in the extremes, that is, the truth of a given ideological or discursive formation is apparent not in the middle or compromises but in the extreme manifestation of the view.

This sets up, I think, an interesting problem for thinking about left/liberal politics. As a political theorist, I think of liberalism in terms of individual rights, private property, and limited government. Thus, Clinton was a liberal--he was not a pro-labor president or one who 'put people first.' In US politics, leftism (the extreme view here is of course communism) has been largely (and to my mind tragically) discredited--the 20th century can be thought in terms of the demonization of commmunism, from some of the early racism against Italian and southern european immigrants in the 20s, the opposition to the New Deal in the 30s, the struggles to unionize (IWW), and of course the Cold War. So, mainstream politicians don't even bother to argue with the left and the truth of the Democratic party makes it close to some Republicans (Eisenhower, to be specific).


"Also, as a general guide to thinking, I tend to agree with Zizek that the truth lies in the extremes, that is, the truth of a given ideological or discursive formation is apparent not in the middle or compromises but in the extreme manifestation of the view."

...can you expand on this?


Meanwhile, CEO's continue to go to jail for crimes that have wiped out the livelihoods and meager fortunes of thousands of people. If only targeted abortion was as simple as Bennett makes it out to be.

Eugene Ekks

Maybe free trade in foetal tissue would allow the market to define the optimum abortion demographic?


It might be worth while to check out the National Review's response to Bennett...if you have the stomach.



Here's Steve Levitt's response:



Aborting all the black babies is like torturing prisoners at Guantanamo: the fact that it's wrong is part of its fascination. (Because the exceptional problems facing America require exceptional measures, just like always.)

I feel like part of the jouissance driving Bennett's position is missed if you don't already take for granted the anti-choice position that abortion is always wrong. If you're pro-choice, Bennett's suggestion is still disgusting, but it's only if you're anti-choice that it's actually fascinatingly Evil.


Well, I'm pro-choice and it sounded pretty Evil to me.

But let me know what you parts of Bennett's suggestions you enjoyed.


I don't enjoy them -- I'm pro-choice. But I think I can imagine a kind of enjoyment for someone with rather different views.

The distinction I was trying to draw -- but apparently wasn't very clear about -- wasn't between "not evil" and "evil" so much as between "evil" and "fascinatingly evil".

Patrick J. Mullins

Bennett's infuriation over the fact that the exclusion of his inclusion of doing such a thing would be 'reprehensible' just shows that he thought it could cover his ass where necessary and to hell with the rest--he just wanted to say the first part because he enjoyed it even though it's stupid and not at all proveable (actually, it would be merely incendiary if proveable; the fact that it's not proveable is what really makes us have to see this uncovered ass). But I agree with rodkong to a degree, therefore, it's a matter of blowhardism on the part of Bennett, who is one of the most celebrated of all coarse sensibilities. I don't believe he even cares that the 'White House distanced itself', as the NYTimes reports; and I don't even believe he really even believes it is 'reprehensible,' that was just to stave off Trent Lott Syndrome. At least 10 years ago, he was still credible enough to be crowned 'the national scold.' By now, he's just 'the national old fart.' I got a little jouissance out of hearing the word 'jouissance' used above in relation to anything this precious and noisome national treasure might intone, but that's the end of my enjoyment of Bill Bennett...although related items like 'there's no fool like an old fool' are beginning to pop up, I'll admit..


Hugh - sorry for my misinterpretation.

I think the fascination / enjoyment is similar to that of genocide - which is basically what Bennett was describing.

The idea that something "good" (e.g., the elimination of crime) could come out of something so evil is one source of fascination - kind of an unconscious realization of the dialectic. The fact that it is a misreading is besides the point - the movement of the reversal is what mesmerizes.

I think Bennett is aware of the power of this imagery - he is not an idiot (despite what we think about his morality) - which makes his statement even more reprehensible.


Read carefully. Where do you see evidence that Bill Bennett fantasizes about genocide?


The reduction of crime through the annihilation of a whole race. That's exactly what Bill Bennett was prophesing: genocide.

(To Rodkong)
Bill Bennett is not just a racist jackass, he was a highly placed racist jackass in a Republican Administration as Secretary of Education. This is not just a foul-mouthed radio announcer, this was not an Al Campanis or a Rush Limbaugh; this was a highly placed official who expressed the views that linger in the back, and now, in the front of the head of the far-right(and I hate using such anachronic categorisation) extremists that are "leading" the United States. The response of the White House officials atest to this. They have said that the comments were "not appropiate" or "not adequate in the public airwaves", without really condemning the comments. in fact, considering Michael Brown's comments in the investigation of FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina, which ravaged mostly black communities, and his defiance stance in the sense that "hey, it was their fault", show a disturbing trend in the thinking of these government officals. In fact,Bush's praise for Brown and Chertoff in the wake of the aftermath of Katrina show the arrogance and smug of these individuals.

But, setting indignation and repugnance aside, the White House does have a point. Those comments are inappropiate, especially in the public sphere. Those comments should be made in private, in the comfort of the White House, surrounded by friends and colleagues. I mean, something has to be learned of the Nazis.

What this troglodyte, who says that he was only conducting a "thought experiment on public policy", the public policy being GENOCIDE, does not acknowledge is that crime results from various socio-economic factors that apparently he does not want to acknowledge. The criminalization of poverty has long been a theme that people have associated with "bleeding-heart liberals" (another of the innumerable idiotic characterizations that permeate the airwaves, but in fact it is a theme that is associated with public policy and race relations. Class and race sure matter and they sure make a difference. Because, apparently a democracy, U.S. style, implies that after 200+ years we will "free" our slaves; and 70 years later we will LET the women vote.

But, supposing that Bill Bennett is right, and that the annihilation of blacks, the genocide, ethnic cleansing and riddance of a whole race (and I believe that if we give him time, he'll think of some other race to include in the equation) would signify the end of some problems, then we should consider what the annihilation of male caucasians would mean to the stability of the World. Wars have been started, at least globally, almost exclusively by white people, the war industry is controlled by white people, the high posts of command in the armed forces who decide whent and how to kill, are mostly occupied by white people. In fact, almost all genocides and the attempts of genocide have been conducted by white people. Can Bill Bennett, for the benefit of the whole World support the policy of aborting every white child? (Of course, this would be morally reprehensble, but it would be for the sake of humanity).

Patrick J. Mullins

Miss 'someone'--your rabid theories are just as boring when you won't disclose your obvious name as when you yell and shriek them on your own blog.

Furthermore, your last paragraph is so full of shit (not to mention falseness), that even when your thinking is good, nobody with half a brain is going to pay attention to you because you prove yourself to be just a younger polar-opposite version of Bennett. You may be leftist and female, but you're just a propagandist ultimately. If you don't know how to convince but a handful of people of why your ideas are more than just propaganda (and you certainly do not), is it really all that pleasurable (even for you) to blast them about?


Dear Mr. Mullins?

My name is not important, unless you need it for some other reason. Furthermore, what theories are you talking about? Because instead of saying something of substance, you limited yourself to blast me, a good manipulation and may I say, "propaganda" technique, that has been used by many(say something derogatory about the messenger, without addressing the message)In fact, you don't explain how is it all false? Hmmm...let me see...
*)The Inquisiton; *)The Crusades *)The genocide of indians in the Caribbean, Continental U.S. and South America;*) the stealing of land from Mexico *)The Final Solution of the Nazis;*)US interventions in Salvador, Nicaragua, Vietnam, Grenada, Panama, Chile, Irak,*) the Spanish-American war(wrongly called a war, given the fact that the U.S. forces blew up their own USS Maine, so they could have an excuse to invade Phillipines, Cuba and Puerto Rico, all Spanish colonies at the time, so as you see it was an act of agression;*)all of the British invasions, which are just too numerous now to enumerate...But if you have doubts or are misinformed, you should go to your local library and find out things for yourself. Unlike you, what I say does not have to be taken at its word..but it sure can be verified. In fact, before the year 2000, which other race, other than the caucasians(be it pure europeans, or descendents of europeans, like the north-american inhabitants of the U.S.)started a conflict outside of their own backyard? Now, this is a question I pose to you, not because I care, but because you apparently do.

In fact, if you think everything is false...then you, my friend, have shown your true colors. Referring to Bill Bennett I believe you wrote "it's not proveable...actually it would be merely incendiary if proveable), yet now apparently you are extremely infuriated at the apparent falseness of my remarks. Well to that I say my remarks are "not proveable...actually [they] would be merely incendiary if proveable".

Furthermore, not to beat a dead horse, I believe you missed the point in all of what Mr. Bennett said. The important thing is not, as you think, if it is proveable or not, the neuralgic point is that a former member of the government of the United States of America, and probably many others like that,is forwarding ideas of GENOCIDE, under the guise of "thought experiment on public policy". That may be something easily discarded by you, but thankfully a great number of people do not process information like you do.

Patrick J. Mullins

Ms. Someone--indeed your name is not important, just because several of us know what it is (unless that's a pseudonym)--although several like you have made names before (I think those jobs are no longer available). Of course I don't 'need your name,' I just happen to know what name you go by. I've debated things with you before, so I don't consider that you can even ask an intelligent question, despite your admirable--no, impressive is the better word--ability to turn massive amounts of real information into something 'very hot air'. The falseness is easy to point out, which I've done on your infernal blog during the 3 or 4 weeks I could overlook your psycho-style rage and just concentrate on your artistic knowledge (but I can find quite as exhaustive elsewhere); so you'll just have to submit--if that's what you think it is--to a little mental cruelty, a little silent treatment, at least in the areas where you least want it. Actually, I would point it out even now if I thought it was urgent, but it's not. It's far more important not to gratify your hysterical outbursts. All I can say is I'll continue to point you out in other places, because your idea of dissemination of information has never been based on fact, as our litigious friend is also fond of pointing out (somehow he can still stand it on the premises, but I can't). Anyway, you have to put most of the comments on your own blog or they just don't mount up (oh yes, I still skim it, but that's it).

'Now, this is a question I pose to you, not because I care, but because you apparently do. '

Now that's just choice, because you cared so little you posed it and I didn't answer it, although the answer is very easy. However you will receive no gratification from me, although I might as well point out to anyone else who may not know it that you're white, and must be driven to distraction by the guilt at not being able to find enough self-flagellation. Your 'message' is just more bigotry and bias, just a particular sort of thing that used to be very popular at the Village Voice (they've weeded out the worst aspects of that by now.)

Do not refer to me as 'my friend' again.

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