Column: Things Are Worse Than I Thought

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Mr. Carpenter holds a Ph.D. in American History from the University of Illinois and is a syndicated columnist.

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An appreciable thickness of skin is required to wear the garb of an online correspondent, especially one still inhabiting America's shrinking isle of sensible progressivism. Write anything on a regular basis that challenges the regnant curiosities of modern conservatism -- itself a 40-year-old admixture of scripture-thumping hypocrites, vapid economic terrorists and taunting man-boy jingoists -- and you'll become a target for every brow-protruding reactionary who's learned to manipulate a keyboard without benefit of opposing thumbs.

Almost invariably it is they, the anthropoid ideologues out there, who self-obsess with writing online rebuttals to sociopolitical sanity. Of course, their rebuttals never hit the mark; in fact, these verbal snipers go out of their way to avoid any key argument made in defense or promotion of sanity. Their's is a tough job, and in that respect only, I feel for them. Tough indeed is the task of intelligently bad-mouthing progressives' reach for such common societal decencies as guaranteed health care, unprivileged education, genuine equal opportunity, a reasonable distribution of national wealth, a competitive marketplace, the subordination of political money to political ideas … you get the drift, even if they don't.

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In lieu of tackling decency head-on -- because, as I say, that's such an intellectually bruising experience -- our online proctors from the right opt for schoolyard silliness. This commentator, for one, has been called by right-wing overseers all manner of swine: a non-recovering communist, an atavistic leftist moron, a Stalinist and Trotskyite (try reconciling those two), a Saddam Hussein-lover, a Luddite (ok, perhaps a nolo contendere on that), a Leveler and, in general, a bonehead. With proper skin density, we are quite amused.

Yet, I did recently receive an email from a friend -- I'm down to the one in this age of alienation -- whose contents cut me to the quick and ravaged my virginity of emotional distance. What my thoughtful friend forwarded was a comment posted somewhere on History News Network by a gentleman reader of same: to wit, that Ann Coulter is to the right what Maureen Dowd, Michael Moore, Michael Lind -- and here was the spleen-wrenching bomb -- P.M. Carpenter are to the left. I was mortified.

I'd sooner adopt a true Stalinist outlook on life than accept any comparison to that fascist harpy of intellectual dishonesty and meagerness, Ann Coulter -- as I'm sure would Ms. Dowd and Messrs. Moore and Lind. The gentleman's barb hurt like the dickens, chiefly because said gentleman, unlike the usual vat of uneducated, shoot-from-the-hip right-wing loonies, appeared to be a man of intelligence and seemed to believe what he wrote. Ouch! Stop, you're killing me here.

This fellow of apparent learning concluded his online knifing with, "Let's not forget those on the left [in part, the above gang of evil, I guess] who routinely support and excuse vastly more brutal figures [than Joe McCarthy] from both past and present." He should have cut that line before pressing "Send," since its tiresome right-wing choral properties somewhat deflected his main thrust. But that's a digressive point.

So, I hear you asking, what in hell IS the point of all this? My hurt feelings? Hardly.

The point, which I suspect you've already suspected, is that the sad political situation in which we find ourselves today is even sadder than I thought. Here was a man clearly awash in mainstream modern conservatism -- and much, much more important, a man of education -- who had sunk to the level of quasi-defending a rabid female dog who herself is daily growing in stature as an "intellectual" voice of the right.

Until reading this learned gentleman's opinion I had yet to entirely appreciate the stark similarity between conservative American intellectuals of today and those of an Aryan bent ca. early 1930s. That any bona fide thinker on the right would wade anywhere close to uttering any respect for an imbecilic child of what we thought three-score ago was defeated genocidal madness was a blood-curdling realization to me. Naturally the thought of similarity had occurred before -- and with some frequency -- but this individual really drove it home.

We are in big, big trouble.

© Copyright 2003 P. M. Carpenter

Mr. Carpenter's column is published weekly by History News Network and

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More Comments:

Jesse Lamovsky - 8/7/2003

The other day, Paul Wolfowitz referred to Iraqi guerrillas who are fighting the Americans as "forces of reaction"- a quote that could have come straight out of "Pravda", circa 1956. Neo-cons are more than happy to call for ever-more, Khrushchev-style "wars of liberation" in the Middle East and elsewhere.

I hope Mr. Carpenter knows the difference between real American conservatives and the nutty, sham variety running Washington these days.

NYGuy - 7/21/2003


The reason you don't understand GW is he is a genius, "someone who sees a target no one else sees and hits." Look he got us out of the Clinton recession and now he is building a peaceful new world. If he were a democrat he would get the Nobel Peace Prize. But, no one ever said life was fair.

Josh Greenland - 7/21/2003

Carpenter wrote an entire column in reaction to a posting of yours. So Elia, how does it feel to be in the big time?

George Oilwell - 7/20/2003

Did you miss your Doctor's appointment or just stopped taking your medication?

George Oilwell - 7/20/2003

"the usual vat of uneducated, shoot-from-the-hip right-wing loonies"

George Oilwell - 7/20/2003

NY guy just can't stand it whenever a rare voice of moderation and reason like P.M. Carpenter is able to get a word in now & then.

In fact, NY guy just can't stand moderation & reason from anyone.

Shannon - 7/20/2003


May I point out to you that most American's have views which lean left or right depending upon the issues. There are just as many liberal leaning people who agree with the war, own guns, love community and family, oppose abortion, don't believe that homosexuality is normal, support the tax cuts, and see the left lunatic fringe, as exampled by our friend Carpenter here, as a threat to American society and culture. Many who lean left, actually love their Country, are Patriotic, and are rightfully disturbed that their party is falling down the slippery slope of subversive, dilusional, and radical thought. Consider this posting as a balance to yours - after all, balance is what all American's should strive for, wouldn't you agree?

I admire Ann Coulter's tenacity and her no holes barred approach to the liberal problem in America. We need someone to balance the lunatic left fringe and I believe she does just that. At least she's not sublimally trying to control our minds. 911 snapped me out of the fog of liberal mind control and deception. I was a victim of the liberal re-education camps until I was shaken to the core after seeing the second plane fly into the WTC. I was stunned when the first to say, "America deserved 911", came from the mouths of the Liberals. In the spirit of being 'fair and balanced', thankfully, there are just as many left leaning people in America who DON'T believe that America deserved 911. What is unfortunate is that their voices are being shouted down by the lunatic left, and the blind followers of the Clintonistas.

NYGuy - 7/19/2003


We are discussing Carpenters message. Like yours it is a bunch of propaganda with misleading facts and falsehoods. It is pure garbage.

You and he simply like the sound of your "words" and love to see how cute you are. Well, cutness if for your parents, not for this board.

NYGuy - 7/19/2003


You make even less sense with your oil crap. You have know nothing about what is happening in the world, you come on this board repeating the same meaningless, false, hate stuff that others try to peddle. Nothing original, except the message of hate.

That is not reason or intelligent debate. It is plain and simple "hate". You have a right to hate anyone you want. But, except for you and Carpenter, most people are trying to exchange ideas, not messages of hate.

Take you deep seeded hatred to one of the boards who agree with you. Remember this is a history board with a large number of PhD's, not some ideological hate group site.

George Oilwell - 7/19/2003

Yes, Carpenter's columns.

They are so devastatingly on target, it's no wonder history professors (even the few conservative ones left) get so beside themselves.

Dr. Carpenter is a huge breath of fresh air in these days of modern times, when you can't tell the ac's from the dc's.

Course, Dinesh DiSousa (another voice of moderation)
might be more to your liking. That's ok. But, it does beg the question: why are YOU here? If you are unable or unwilling to engage in a discussion of Carpenter's message, why are you here? It's unbecoming to keep shooting the messenger.

Have another day.

George Oilwell - 7/19/2003

NY State of Mine:

Who you calling "sicko," bro?

I'd rather be sick, than one of the greatful dead, KIA in Eye Rack for Halliburton, Bechtel, Dyncorp or any of the other war profiteers who could care less that our AWOL/deserter "president"
lied to the world for a few pieces of silver, and black tea.

NYGuy - 7/19/2003


What a sicko. You must be one of Kriz's goons. Sound just like him. Everything in the post you sited has been debunked. The so called "what if" is only accepted by idiots like you and Carpenter:

"If the assumption-and it's a doozy-is that somehow then Vice President GHW Bush was involved in the assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, we are forced to ask what would he have to gain, did he have the wherewithal, and why would he need to resort to assassination?"

If pigs could fly, transportation costs could be reduced and pork chop prices could be lowered.


"Prescott also carried on the time honored Bush family tradition of German double-dealing by financing the Nazi industrialists on the NYSE. He was ordered by Congress to cease and desist on October 20, 1942. Under the "Trading With the Enemy Act" the US, seized the shares of the Union Banking Corporation (UBC)."

"UBC's leading German partner was the notorious Nazi industrialist Fritz Thyssen,"

This has already been debunked. The largest Partner in UBC was the great Democrat and close friend of Roosevelt, the Harriman family, with over 98% of UBC stock. The same was true in Brown, Bros. Harriman. Notice the last name. Harriman also was the leading partner in this firm.

You say, "Under the Trading with the enemy Act> This Act was enacted in 1917, and gave thwe President certain powers in time of war. In October 1942 he issued the Alien Property Orders which confiscated over 5,000 assets owned by "enemy" interests. This was not an act that accused, or prosecuted anyone for "collaborating with the enemy." The Act has been applied to enemy properties before and after 1942.

Prior to the President's order all the more than 5,000 assets were not in violation of any U. S. law in carrying out their business. If you extrapolate these figures you would be calling over 1.0 million loyal Americans collaborators, even though many fought against Germany and some were KIA. This type of report is know as, "Hate mail". Your repeating it is shameless and unamerican.

Interesting to see who comes to the defense of Carpenter. Birds of a feather stick together.

NYGuy - 7/19/2003

Hey George,

You said:

THINK, Clayton. It might be a new experience.

What are you a wise guy trying to disrupt this board. We are talking about the Carpentener article. If you want an article with intelligent information, you have come to the wrong place.

We know he is an idiot and go along for the laughs. Why are you here?

Elia Markell - 7/19/2003

Well, yes, this point might be valid, were it not for the fact that Carpenter's entire "message" was itself a cheap shot -- at ME! But I'm not complaining. I am enjoying myself. So on with the show.

George Oilwell - 7/18/2003

Is there some particular reason why you chose to take a cheap shot at the messenger, rather than respond to his message?

THINK, Clayton. It might be a new experience.

Herodotus - 7/17/2003

Don't forget, Cthulu is behind it all, working with the Masons!

Clayton E. Cramer - 7/17/2003

Actually, I think what you are seeing is more a symptom of what happens when a smart, well-educated person finds out that they are never going to make enough money to justify the money they spent on graduate school.

Clayton E. Cramer - 7/17/2003

I kept waiting for the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Illuminati to show up.

Some forces of mental illness transcend political definitions.

George Oilwell - 7/16/2003

Guaranteed to cause paroxysms (especially to liberal professors).

Herodotus - 7/16/2003

This, from the guy who thinks Hitler wasn't as bad as Bush, and who believes that Tim McVeigh was on far right web sites before they were created. Don't even ask him to be consistent on the problems of the Electoral College...he'll tell you the Daley machine's control of the Illinois electoral votes or Johnson of the Texas ones were negligible while decrying Florida in 2000.

Dave Tabaska - 7/16/2003

Well, if that is the case, then why doesn't Carpenter actually put his PhD to good use and present us with some actual, historical examples of people and nations who have faced similar situations and tell us what they did right compared to Bush? That's what makes some historian-writers, IMO, like Victor Davis Hanson or Clayton Cramer interesting - they back up their arguments with some actual history. I may not always agree with them, but what they say is always much more interesting and thought-provoking than Carpenter's regular insults, smears, and hatred of everybody who happens to hold a view opposite of his.

Interested Reader - 7/16/2003

After reading Carpenter's rantings for several months, I have three questions. Is the hyperbole of his writing and argumentative and reasoning skills as demonstrated on this forum typical of the quality needed to gain a PhD from the U of Il? What publications actually syndicate him (apart from this august forum)? Do they actually pay him for his production?

If the answer to any of the above is "yes," the end is not near, it is here!

William H. Leckie, Jr. - 7/15/2003

Look, Carpenter's not a blonde bimbo paid well for her sleazy bimbo eruptions over the media equivalent of a certain famous steam grate. The only thing she and Carpenter have in common--at least to me--is that I wouldn't want a date with either of them!

George Oilwell - 7/15/2003

Yes, bush The Lesser and his water carriers in Congress ARE about the worst things around. And that's saying something, when you remember that it hasn't been that long since DICK Nixxon & Spiro Gyro were doing their best to undermine America's image in the known physical universe.

Dave Tabaska - 7/15/2003

I am quite impressed that P.M. Carpenter finds things are worse than he thought. One would think that, reading the weekly vitriol coming from his word processor, Dubya in the White House and Republicans in Congress *were* the worst things could get.

Joey G - 7/15/2003

See, Ann Coultier has it all over Carpenter. Did Carpenter call for the wholesale killing of conservatives? No. Has Carpenter called for terrorists to destroy buildings housing conservatives? Not even once. Nuking the Arabs? Nope. Come on!

As long as Carpenter resists the policy of murdering your opposition, I'm afraid he will never be the liberal's Ann Coultier.

Sorry, P.M. You don't cut it.

Wolf DeVoon - 7/15/2003

Mr. Carpenter skates perilously close to irrelevance. "Common societal decency" is one of the most childish notions I've ever seen on the web. That it refers, however coyly, to a bloated and indefensible bureaucracy does not strengthen his thesis, if one was offered in this article.

Wolf DeVoon

Josh Greenland - 7/15/2003

I'm no fan of the conservative movement, but I was thinking before Carpenter even mentioned her name that in this article, he sounded like a liberal version of her.

The smearing of conservatives as stupid and unevolved is cute but doesn't help anyone to understand conservatives. Carpenter is one of those folks who is working to keep people of the Left and Right apart, which I think is NOT a good thing as there are lots of agreements across the boundaries of the two labels. Many people on both "sides" hate NAFTA, GATT and the WTO, many dislike or have problems with the present administration's wars, many think the government at all levels is going way too far in curtailing civil liberties (upset on the Right at attacks on the 4th Amendment is especially heartening), and a surprising number of liberals and Democrats believe in the right to own and use firearms. People like Carpenter and Coulter are disuniters who feed the heads of their followers with button-pushing ad hominems to be hurled at "the other side," helping to keep discussion between Left and Right emotional and unproductive.

Clayton E. Cramer - 7/15/2003

Very impressed: Mr. Kriz engages in the same sort of character assassination and name calling as Carpenter.

Note: I've never hidden my real name. Of course, that may be because I'm not afraid of blacklisting in the academic profession. I have a real job.

Elia Markell - 7/14/2003

As the "learned gentleman" referred to in this latest from PM, I just want to clear up one thing. I most certainly did not intend to "quasi-defend" Ann Coulter. I consider her defense of Joe McCarthy to be exactly on a par with their invective -- and (given their ham-handedness)far more detrimental to conservativism. No, the fact that I see similarities in her style and substance and P.M. Carpenter's (or Dowd's, Moore's, etc.) is definitely NOT a quasi defense of her style or substance. Please, believe me.

Stephen Kriz - 7/14/2003

Mr. Carpenter nails the neo-conservative movement in America once again. Particularly poignant is his characterization of the conservative movement as cowards - they routinely refuse to engage in face-to-face debate or personal engagement over issues. They prefer hiding in dark corners and lobbing personal attacks (most of them untrue or stretched versions of reality) and then running for cover. An example are the conservative posters on this website, who invariably use assumed or stage names (e.g. NYGuy, Herodotus, et al.). The one time Rush Limbaugh has appeared outside of a conservative (read, friendly) venue, he got his fat head handed to him by David Letterman. Without a script and the power of the microphone switch, the obese college drop-out was made to look like a fool by Letterman and could not refute a single point Letterman made. That's why James Carville routinely makes mincemeat of Tucker Carlson on CNN. I feel sorry for Carlson, because he is so far out-gunned on that program.

I liken the conservative movement to the green slime that grows underneath a toilet bowl. Drag it out into the sunlight and it shrivels and dies. That's why conservatives prefer to hang out on FreeRepublic, NewsMax and the like, where they can percolate and fester their hatred in the company of like-minded (and I use that term loosely) individuals. The same is true of Limbaugh's radio program - even though he claims to put liberals right through on the call-in portion, the only ones that get through are those that are inarticulate or confused. Intelligent and articulate callers are screened out or quickly cut off, after they begin making fools of the poorly educated host.

Clayton E. Cramer - 7/14/2003

He wonders why anyone compares him to Ann Coulter. Perhaps it is descriptions like this: "modern conservatism -- itself a 40-year-old admixture of scripture-thumping hypocrites, vapid economic terrorists and taunting man-boy jingoists -- and you'll become a target for every brow-protruding reactionary who's learned to manipulate a keyboard without benefit of opposing thumbs."

Perhaps it is Carpenter's effort to equal conservative thought with the Nazis: "the stark similarity between conservative American intellectuals of today and those of an Aryan bent ca. early 1930s. That any bona fide thinker on the right would wade anywhere close to uttering any respect for an imbecilic child of what we thought three-score ago was defeated genocidal madness was a blood-curdling realization to me."

There is one big difference between Coulter and Carpenter. Coulter is, at least, sometimes funny when she is being cruel and unfair. Carpenter doesn't even achieve that.