Sunday, May 26, 2019

The Best Qualification of a Prophet... to have a good Memory. -- George Savile, First Marquess of Halifax

This evening I'm taking the cool, stone stairs down to the deep cellars for a vintage selection from the archives of the late Steve Gilliard who passed away 12 years ago next week.

I got into this racket after spending a comfortable time haunting the comment section of Steve's blog.  He finally kicked me out and told me to go forth and do my own thing.  And I did.

Here is some of what was posted on Steve's blog on the occasion of his passing:
A Voice

Remarks of how Steven touched the lives of bloggers have poured in. Many remark that his is the first blog they read every day. Even those who were vastly opposed to Steven's decidedly liberal political voice, respected his opinions and read him to get their history lesson as his facts could not be disputed. His quick wit and fearless candor landed him on many panels, radio talk shows and the like and he was either thoroughly appreciated or he infuriated many. Either way they came away with more information than they had when they came. Steven was skillful at pulling apart history and military strategy and clearing away the spin to reveal the real truth, which is something not many others are capable of doing.

Many bloggers have commented that they waited for his commentary when any major news event took place to get the "full" story. Well known for his attack on Michael Steele (MD Senator, whom he depicted in blackface) and his fierce opposition to George Bush and the war in Iraq long before it was popular to be anti-war, Steven was a door opener for African American bloggers. Many described him as a "hardnosed independent" (Daily Kos) with a powerful voice that supported the values and issues important to working people.

His cry "We Fight Back . . ." will hopefully ring in the ear of every liberal blogger as they pick up the reins and try to cut through the news spin to the truth and speak out loud for justice, equality and those things that are important to the common man, like jobs, healthcare, and peace, albeit without Steven's pronounced voice leading the way.

The paradox of Steven's Blog persona and the man cooking with his niece defines who he was. A humble man… a brilliant mind… that touched the lives and, no doubt, changed the lives of many. Steven said it best himself, "I said what I meant and I meant what I said"...
After Steve died, there were several projects launched to capture his writing and memory in a more permanent form, but none of them ever came to much.  And so, with the exception of a veteran or two of those times who haul out some of his words every now and then, much of who he was and what he meant has faded away.

However, since we are (mostly) Liberals here, and since memory is our super power, I thought you'd enjoy delicious and aromatic bit of accidental prophecy from Steve on the subject of Mr. David Brooks.

As a rule, Steve was usually too busy writing about a dozen other things to worry about Mr. Brooks, and at the time many people believed that the beat-downs Paul Krugman regularly handed out to Mr. Brooks would be sufficient to shame The New York Times into prying that particular wingnut-quota-hire barnacle off the hull of the Grey Lady.

Sadly, this was not to be.

Since then, Steve has left this vale of tears, Krugman won a Nobel Prize, and as I write this, Mr. Brooks is on a book tour monetizing his midlife crisis as a book of Moral Instruction for Our Parlous Times.  Which brings me to this column by Steve Gilliard, which I have retrieved from his archives and am reposting in its entirety here.  The only changes I have made are cleaning up a couple of typos in the original and adding a little emphasis to guide your eye to the spot where Steve's insight into Mr. Brooks' soul shines through as prophecy.

Monday, January 02, 2006

The He-Man Woman-Haters Club

Them bitches scare me 

The Year of Domesticity


Hirshman's essay really clears the sinuses. It's a full-bore, unapologetic blast of 1975 time-warp feminism and it deserves one of the 2005 Sidney Awards, which I've created for the best magazine essays of the year, because it is impossible to read this manifesto without taking a few minutes to figure out why she is so wrong.

But of course, she is wrong.

First, she's wrong with her astonishing assertion that high-paying jobs lead to more human flourishing than parenthood. Look back over your life. Which memories do you cherish more, those with your family or those at the office? If Hirshman thinks high-paying careers lead to more human flourishing, I invite her to spend a day as an associate at a big law firm.

Second, she's wrong to assume that work is the realm of power and home is the realm of powerlessness. The domestic sphere may not offer the sort of brutalizing, dominating power Hirshman admires, but it is the realm of unmatched influence. If there is one thing we have learned over the past generation, it is that a child's I.Q., mental habits and destiny are largely shaped in the first few years of life, before school or the outside world has much influence.

Children, at least, understand parental power. In "Eminem Is Right," a Sidney Award-winning essay in Policy Review, Mary Eberstadt notes a striking change in pop music. "If yesterday's rock was the music of abandon, today's is the music of abandonment." An astonishing number of hits, from artists ranging from Pearl Jam to Everclear to Snoop Dogg, are about kids who feel neglected by their parents. This is a need Hirshman passes over.

What the fuck is Brooks problem with educated, achieving women? First it was quit working, now, it's they should be mommies.

How small is his penis. Because high-achieving women threaten the shit out of him. If I was his wife, I'd be wary, because guys like this usually wind up with a younger, compliant woman in their lives.

And I would point out to Brooks, with the exception of Eminem's fractured relationship with his mother, those songs refer to missing fathers. And Eminiem has been the primary care giver to his child for years.

But to Bobo, a wimmin who gets edumacated is a threat, with all them fancy words and stuff. They needs to be birthin' babies and fixin' vittles.

What a seriously fucked up attitude. This is like two steps above the abusive husbands of Maury, telling their women not to look up without their permission and justifying smacking them around.

All of which pairs perfectly with Mr. Brooks own moralizing finger-wagging column on "The Power Of Marriage" written back before the dawn of recorded history -- before Mr. Brooks jettisoned wife #1 fir his much younger research assistant -- when Mr. Brooks used his privileged New York Times real estate to write this:
Anybody who has several sexual partners in a year is committing spiritual suicide...
And this
But marriage is the opposite. Marriage joins two people in a sacred bond. It demands that they make an exclusive commitment to each other and thereby takes two discrete individuals and turns them into kin...
And this
Marriage is in crisis because marriage, which relies on a culture of fidelity, is now asked to survive in a culture of contingency. Today, individual choice is held up as the highest value: choice of lifestyles, choice of identities, choice of cellphone rate plans.
And this:
Freedom is a wonderful thing, but the culture of contingency means that the marriage bond, which is supposed to be a sacred vow till death do us part, is now more likely to be seen as an easily canceled contract. 
And, yes, this:
Men are more likely to want to trade up, when a younger trophy wife comes along. 
And this
Men and women are quicker to opt out of marriages, even marriages that are not fatally flawed, when their ''needs'' don't seem to be met at that moment. 
And this
You would think that faced with this marriage crisis, we conservatives would do everything in our power to move as many people as possible from the path of contingency to the path of fidelity.
And, finally, this:
Marriage is not voting. It's going to be up to conservatives to make the important, moral case for marriage, including gay marriage. Not making it means drifting further into the culture of contingency, which, when it comes to intimate and sacred relations, is an abomination.

To which I would only add, fuck the fucking Yankees!

Behold, a Tip Jar!


bowtiejack said...

Wonderful! I miss him too. Thank you.

duquesne_pdx said...

I still miss his fierce voice and his genuine compassion.
Peace be unto him.

rapier said...

It's damn rare for anyone to have much of anything of worth reading or listening to or reading on a regular basis. I came on this blogging thing just about the time Steve died and I can't speak to him but he was surely one of the exceptions.

I can't think of a single 'serious' newspaper columnist in my lifetime, 67 years, that has much worth reading 90% of the time. The very nature of the job, being forced to comment, seriously, on the passing scene endlessly, pretty much dooms the project. Who should give a fk what some self described every-man thinks? That is unless it's consistently funny because after all humans are hopelessly flawed and the only way to deal with them that's really honest is to point that out that they are just plain, stupid, vain, greedy, etc. etc. etc. Then, if the topic is politicians and the job is to take them seriously, and one does, then they are the biggest fools of all.

The regular newspaper column should be put to death, especially a the Times. If they insist on keeping to the tradition I suggest a salary of $10,000 a year. Making these pricks and pricketts modestly wealthy only turbocharges the stupid.

Hal Rager said...

I – doubtless imperfectly – recall your comment blogger longevity — " I was doing this when Steve Gilliard was white and Digby was male."

Habitat Vic said...

I still think of Steve Gilliard when I use my Zojirushi rice cooker (bought after reading one of his cooking posts extolling its virtues). That's been - what - 14 or 15 years ago? Can't even remember how I found the News Blog. Maybe started with, surfed over to SG somehow. Eventually made SG and Billmon/WhiskeyBar daily check ins. And, of course, led me to Driftglass.

Loved his political take on things, particularly W. But his historical/military takes on Iraq & Afghanistan - Jesus, brilliant, fucking brilliant.

Retired Patriot said...

Boy, I sure miss Steve. Through him I came to you and Blue Gal. And many others. He sure had a way with words - and I'll never forget the whole Michael Steele escapade. In fact, every time I see Steele holding forth on the "liberal" MSNBC, I see Gilly in my minds eye and wish him sitting right there next to Mike. Alas, Gilly's gone and we're left here in this "vale of tears." To fight.

And F the f'ing Yankees!


Davis said...

One of the many things I liked about him was that he was a Mets fan.

dinthebeast said...

As Richard Thompson put it:
"Al Bowlly's in heaven and I'm in limbo now"

-Doug in Oakland