I'm a libertarian who has written, among other things, an essay on "Conservatism for Punks" (the slogan and at least occasionally the theme of this blog) for the book Proud to Be Right, which is a collection of essays edited by Jonah Goldberg. In it, I espouse a sort of "fiscally conservative, socially liberal" worldview, urging that the government be kept small and unobtrusive to foster both prosperity and the space for experimental subcultures to thrive. I was part of a panel discussion featuring contributors to that volume, during which I hit on a few of my favorite themes, including markets, punk, sci-fi-like technology, and skepticism about supernatural claims. The whole ninety-minute discussion can be viewed here thanks to C-SPAN2 -- and you should certainly order the book, which, as the subtitle puts it, features twenty-three "Voices of the Next Conservative Generation."
(You might also contact me about the monthly Manhattans Project social gatherings I host for politics and media people, now that I'm no longer organizing debates at Lolita Bar. And you should read this blog, which has some broken links and other flaws at the moment, having recently migrated to Blogger, but I'll fix those things. It has been a time of transition.)
But the brief clip from the panel discussion that went viral yesterday (you'll find a long list of links to that clip and to articles about it below the break) featured me criticizing my fellow contributor to that volume, Helen Rittelmeyer. Though Helen broke up with me about three days before we found out we would be co-panelists, after a tumultuous two-year relationship, I was not (as a few of the less-careful online observers have implied) criticizing her for not dating me (a choice some 3.5 billion women make every day, after all). Rather, in my comments, I alluded to the fact that Helen's ostensibly Catholic-conservative philosophy is actually an ironically-veiled, far darker philosophy, a sort of Nietzschean valorization of cruelty for the sake of cruelty that even Nietzsche would not endorse.
The only manifestation of her philosophy that I revealed in my comments that was not already publicly known was her willingness to engage in cruel personal gamesmanship, as for instance by playing matchmaker for a couple, planning in advance to break them up later by seducing the male, in part to raise and dash the hopes of the female (an accusation that she did not deny in her later comments to Daily Caller, tellingly). That action of hers is horrible enough by any conventional moral standard, including Catholicism, but Helen, if she's reading this, knows there are countless other examples I could give of the way in which her dark thinking is paralleled by dark behavior. I don't want or intend to say any more about such examples, though, even though I know I risk being thought by many to be merely griping about an ex for light and transient causes.
Rather, because I believe in loyalty and in the possibility of redemption, it is my sincere hope that Helen -- instead of making revealing jokes about wanting to beat me up (as in her statement to the Daily Caller, which really got the viral ball rolling, to mix metaphors) or feeling that she is the put-upon party -- will seize this opportunity to examine her life and adopt a code of ethics and personal behavior rooted in kindness, not another layer of irony disguising darkness and cruelty. Reform, Helen. Reform. Make this the most positive turning point in your life and everybody wins.
Some think me a bully, but in fact I have shown incredible restraint (and a generous willingness to take a small reputational hit by appearing cruel myself), engaging in a sort of public intervention in perhaps the only way open to me that is likely to alter Helen's behavior. Nothing would make me happier than to learn that it had been effective, that she was thankful for it, and that her life had been transformed for the better on multiple fronts (rather than that she'd simply begun urging people to take her "side" over mine, a battle that would not likely leave her looking good in the panopticon of public examination, if either of us were pressured into more detailed explanations). I really don't want more beating up of Helen, though, and hope to move on to fresh topics tomorrow, both online and in my head. Please stick around.
And now, just a handful of yesterday's dizzying array of links (and I'm not even on Facebook, Twitter, or any other social networking systems where I assume much of the action is). Most of these feature the controversial clip (which came from about 40-47 minutes into the full ninety-minute program linked above):
•Daily Caller (where Helen briefly worked -- but it was Mary Katharine Ham who wrote the piece and, on Twitter, is was Daily Caller contributor Amanda Carey who said she "kinda sorta" has to support Seavey on this one, which I greatly appreciate, though, again, I'm the one who doesn't want everything to degenerate into mere combat)
•A small Twitter sample -- and, oddly, I have also been condemned by Bruce Bartlett and Dave Weigel, the latter pronouncing that I should no longer be taken seriously, since Weigel is now an expert on no longer taking people seriously, apparently (I'm planning to attend a gathering of right-wing Twitter users tonight at 7pm in NYC, in fact, so I'll endeavor to be circumspect in my comments). Responding to Bartlett (the political commentator, not the Aaron Sorkin character, who I assume would love my witty banter), Dave Henderson, I think it was, observed that despite me looking harsh at first glance, closer examination suggests that Helen does not have "a humanitarian bone in her body."
•Gawker (go New York City!)
•Jezebel (a friend notes that one of the commenters here wisely picked up on the fact that Helen is not denying my comments for most of the clip but, disturbingly but honestly, is instead nodding and smiling with approval until I hit the part she doesn't want known)
•The Awl (thank you, Laloca)
•The Yahoo News blog
•Mediaite, where it was #1 at one point, bumping Kanye West, who I think will nonetheless go places
•Not surprisingly, the most humorless reaction is also the least accurate -- claiming I likened women who won't have sex with me to Hitler, when in fact I likened liars (jokingly) to Hitler, a whole different issue -- except to people like Amanda Hess at some site called TBD, who seems to equate liars with women in a rather misogynistic fashion -- but then, once the self-contradicting feminists get involved in an online dispute, you can be sure accuracy will quickly go out the window. Even now, imaginary Todd quotes are likely spreading due to some angry feminist commenter somewhere posting something like: "We know Todd's attitude: 'Women should be slaves' -- as if! ROTFL!" I won't have time to correct them all, so, again, I will move on to new topics.
Interesting, by the way, to see some feminists automatically side with Helen, though (A) she would despise them and (B) they would no doubt cheer a comparable public shaming of a badly-behaved male.
•A particularly nasty -- and uncreative -- one from some lazy male who is making other males look bad at Wonkette
•The Washington Post gossip column
•The New Republic
•And one of the few people I know who was awake at 3am last night tells me that the whole thing was featured on the TV show Red Eye, about four hours ago as I type this. On another TV note, I suggest that C-SPAN start using the moment when Helen says with exasperation that this will be "on C-SPAN!" as their new promo bumper (followed by a narrator saying "C-SPAN: You never know if something might happen").
And tomorrow, time permitting, an entry on what really matters: budget cuts.
Face it dud, you are pathetic.
You should have considered yourself lucky to have gotten laid and kept it at that.
Now everyone that didn't know you will consider you to be a cry baby geek.
Helen's moral status was probably a bit off-topic. It's too bad that that part of the program got all of the attention, because I thought your comments on religion and social conservatism deserved wider consideration.
Todd, I, and many, many men out there, feel your pain. I wish I could have five minutes of time on C-SPAN2 (even C-SPAN3) to vent like you did. But, let me also say that the majority of Left leaning websites are now saying "Aha! Helen Rittelmeyer is the face of the Right we've always known and despised", so in that sense, you may have gone a little too far. In any event, thanks for scoring one small point for manipulated men everywhere.
I'm just watching your speech now. Think you're a great speaker - very articulate and engaging.
One thing I disagree with at the moment, though, is your assertion that the US is seen as a place to go if you want to "start a punk band", or do something else that is in some way outside of cultural norms.
While I agree that the US is extraordinarily diverse culturally, I would argue that things have changed in the last 15 years - not so much in the US as they have elsewhere.
Nowadays, when I think of places to go to live outside the norm, to express yourself artistically and "live your own life", so to speak, places like Berlin and Damascus come to mind.
Perhaps this isn't particular to nations so much as it is invidual cities though.. I think that Detroit is also getting to be known as a city where anything is possible, so to speak.
Assuming that there isn't some sort of cultural authoritarianism in place, I would argue that cities throughout the world in which property prices are low (in relation to other nearby cities) lead to an increased expression of artistic and cultural freedom.
Thanks to rents being extraordinarly low (for germany), a pizza that costs 12 euros in Amsterdam can be bough for 4 euros in Berlin. Cheap pizza = less time spent earning pizza money, more time available to do something crazy and fun.
Artists in Detroit have the ability to rent (or buy) cavernous, multi-story buildings in which to create and display their art.
Anyway, I don't think that much of the world still views the USA as a place to go in order to be culturally free, so to speak. At least not when compared to other places that have become known for this specific freedom in the last 15 to 20 years.
Being sad and publicly wallowing in self-pity isn't very punk rock. Accept the situation (and that there's no possibility of reconciling, duh) and move on. If she's as awful as you say you're better off and revenge is that she has to be who you say she is.
But mainly don't comment on this anymore. You're making it worse.
Just to clarify, I'm not disputing that the US is more "culturally free" than many places around the world, I'm just saying that things have changed - that the world has moved on from a reality where the US was seen as the shining beacon on the hill for freedom of expression. Other places now have this reputation as well.
One question which I as an objective have, the answer to which will be quite telling, if not dispositive, has to do with the FACTUAL ASSERTION you made about an argument she made that had been rebutted by Will Wilkinson.
She flatly denied to Daily Caller having made that argument. Is there a link to Will rebutting it? Is he willing to say whether your charge or her denial is true?
Once you know which of two people is expediently lying when they flatly contradict each other, the rest is a cakewalk.
I should add in the philosophical/political realm, any smart, intellectually rigorous and philosophically ruthless conservative opponent of health care reform would make PRECISELY the argument she made about "suffering," but only in private (in looks bad in public, especially for an ostensibly Catholic intellectual). Heck, David Brooks alluded to that argument in the NYtimes, as has David Frum on his site.
The problem for conservatives with state intervention in health coverage is that it WORKS and it's POPULAR in every single developed country where it's been installed.
Dude, your ex-girlfriend is a socially functioning sociopath. She CAN'T reform without professional help. She's extremely sick. You're well rid of her, and she'll just go on to victimize someone else.
It would be almost AMUSING watching a Yale student claim that suffering builds character. If it wasn't so sad, and obviously the product of a deranged mind.
Didn't conservatives used to be grownups? Am I just romanticizing the past? Back when I was in college I too thought the world revolved around my every mood-induced epiphany. If drunk, I might even have imagined that the whole world needed, for its own sake, mind you, to be warned about the she-devil that was my ex. But by daylight, I might have remembered that at one time I'd liked her, actually, and maybe she still had some likable qualities too--and maybe my fantasy about "warning the world" was really just a cheap mode of emotional revenge for the way she'd disappointed me. And if I was lucky, I would have dimly sensed that I had lost all sense of proportion and social propriety, and was in fact acting as though I were a God, the most important center of the universe, a jealous and punishing kind of God--and I might have thought, just for a moment, "I'll bet everyone feels that way about themselves, secretly. It can't possibly be true, then." And then I would have gone on with my day, less vengeful, and a bit saner, and probably happier.
Hoping to see you tonight, Todd. For what it's worth I've been leaving comments on various posts and Facebook links noting that you are a calm, rational guy and I've seen you get along well with several of your ex-girlfriends (ie: you're not a bitter guy who hates women in general). Hope you're doing ok with the firestorm.
More like punk-ass b!tch
Todd, I'm still a bit wide-eyed after watching that exchange in the C-SPAN clip. Kudos for addressing the issue here, after the fact, rather than shutting down and hiding in the face of what is sure to be some vicious verbal beatings.
But still...the old adage about "time and place" was probably appropriate in that instance - whatever the history you two had, that wasn't the proper forum under ANY pretext for bringing it up.
I'm afraid, Mr. Seavey, that whatever history you might have with your ex, and whatever her philosophy, you threw your own position into question by exhibiting such, to use an old-fashioned term, caddish behavior.
The offense wasn't just to her, but also to the roomful of hapless listeners who did not ask to be drawn into your emotional life, such as your friend above. You owe them an apology, you owe (and I cannot tell you how much it pains me to say this) Jonah Goldberg an apology for bogarting his forum, and you need to add another item to your exhaustive list of requirements for a potential girlfriend:
"Are you able to ignore piles of dead canaries, she-lions whelping (as they do) in the streets, airbourne lamentations in strange tongues, and other ominous signals that ending a relationship with a fella may be used by that fella as justification for a scorched-earth campaign against you on national television and online, when that fella could have at the very least maintained the sort of dignified silence that would have confirmed his self-description as a reasonable person? And are you computer-illiterate in the extreme? Then we may have a chance at a relationship."
Whether this actually hurts your social life, Mr. Seavey, I suppose depends on whether you can take an interest in the sort of female who considers disaster films chick flicks. You might want to reconsider your reluctance to date the deformed; it appears you're going to have to broaden your pool of prospects.
I was linked to the video with a description that implied it was all about you making a fool of yourself.
And yeah, it was definitely not the place for such a thing. But you didn't come off that badly. Actually, kinda awesome. C-Span using it as a bumper would be hilarious as you suggest!
You are helped, I think, by the fact that your analysis of Helen is accurate.
Dude, she might well be a sociopath, but damn, you do realize your career in punditry effectively died the moment the video went viral? In public discourse, you'll never be anything but a punchline after this, an illustration next to the dictionary definition of "pathetic co-dependence" (and many other terms). Get a trade, learn to fix scanning tunneling microscopes, something...this phase of your life is over.
Ugh - you and Helen both come off very badly in that clip, but you in particular sound very foolish, combining a juvenile churlishness with a pedantic, overintellectual tone about what was apparently an emotionally-charged relationship.
I don't think there's a woman alive who wants to hear a man talk so clinically about a relationship - it's as though you're too cowardly to show any real emotion. I do respect, however, your openness in allowing the issue to be discussed here.
To quote South Park, or Sarah Silverman, or whomever, "When life gives you AIDS, make lemonAIDS." First, you need to make a YouTube remix. Then, put the song on iTunes. I'm telling you, this is the opportunity of a lifetime!
Socially liberal, fiscally moderate fellow here, and let me say that I enjoyed the dressing down that Todd gave Helen immensely.
Caddish behavior? Heck no. A brilliant dissection, I'd call it. And as for there not being a woman alive who wants to hear a man talk as Todd did, so what? When did men--conservative, moderate, or liberal--become such pansies that we can only tell women, apparently, what they want to hear?
If the truth hurts, well, maybe it will help Helen build her character a bit. She needs it.
Even if your accusations are all true, your behavior was grossly immature and, as others have pointed out, professionally suicidal. Personally, I would never want to work with someone like you or be affiliated with you in any other manner, even though I suspect we agree on a number of political issues.
What bothers me the most, however, is that the Left is having a field day with this and talking about how this whole scene is somehow representative of how young people on the Right think and act. Shame on you for facilitating this.
- A friend of a friend
When did men--conservative, moderate, or liberal--become such pansies
"Socially liberal?" Wrong on both counts. No, all counts.
My point concerned the lack of courtesy, much less wisdom, in rubbing observers' noses in this ex-couple's dirty laundry, regardless of how much certain observers "throughly enjoy" it.
Now Mr. Seavey has his little measure of meaningless viral celebrity, which will accompany him googleably through his days. The sort of female who will view it and say, "Implying on TV that the ex has cheated on him with half the room--I like it! I have got to get me some Todd Seavey!" is not likely to be a glowing picture of emotional health.
Better that they know someone on the right objected early and strenuously, should it get uglier later.
My reply was meant to be to "Friend of a friend," I should say.
Shorter Todd Seavey:
"My fee-fees were hurt by the only skank I could find who would actually fuck me, so now I'm going to piss all over myself with pseudo-intellectualism and won't THAT show the world how SHE IS EVIL."
Well put, Anonymous. OK, ducking out of this again.
"Now Mr. Seavey has his little measure of meaningless viral celebrity, which will accompany him googleably through his days."
LMAO @ "googleably" - well done!
Re: Tony Edwards
You hit the nail on the head with "pedantic, overintellectual tone". It's exhausting just reading & listening to Todd.
Both Todd & Helen seem to be the most smug, pretentious, obnoxious and awful people I have encountered in a long time. If this is what Yale is like, I'll be sure to stay far, far away.
Hey, I'm evidence that _Brown_ is awful, not Yale. Let's keep the record straight. OK, now I'll stop.
Even if everything you said about Helen is 100% accurate, it really lacked class to air your gripes publicly. Badly done.
Let's not mince words here: the woman is not attractive. But she makes up for that by being ugly. I think by admitting you "dated" for two years (there are no beer goggles strong enough to last twenty-four months) is more of an indictment of you, my man. As my farming uncle would say, "she looks like nine miles of bad road."
So you are better off. Really. It should be illegal to date that chick. I can't imagine she has any positive qualities except that she only needs a little tape on her glasses to make her "down syndrome girl" Halloween costume complete.
I'd date you, i don't even know why you would date her. Can you say gap tooth?! Anyway, I'm interested.
I don't understand your response to me - "objected" to what? Do you mean that you made some sort of public service announcement to protect men everywhere from Helen's dangerous behavior? Unless you have secret information that she is a serial killer or the like, I somehow doubt that this is particularly necessary/useful.
I wish you the same that you seem to wish Helen: that you should stop and take a long hard look at what you've done. I think there is a significant tendency to rationalize after such events, but perhaps (and I genuinely hope so) you can look past that tendency and apologize for what you've done. Again, I am not arguing about the substance at all of the political claims, and like I said, I think you and I probably see eye to eye on most of those (as well as on religion, for that matter).
- A friend of a friend
To those who claim that this was The Most Embarrassing or Humiliating C-Span Experience Like (sic) Ever, tell them that this title was forever retired on Oct. 9, 2009.
That's when C-Span's respected Brian Lamb "interviewed" (in quotes due to the forthcoming respondent's performance) something called S.E. Cupp.
The Daily Howler aptly titled the event this way: "When S. E. Cupp sat down with the Lamb, The Dumb was all around".
So don't worry about that foolishness. No one was or ever will be more self-humiliating on C-Span than S.E. Cupp on Oct. 9, 2009.
In the wake of your appearance with Ms. Rittelmeyer and Lucianne Goldberg's Boy on C-Span, a buddy of mine has been making book on your respective futures.
Understand only that these are mathematical prognostications and not declarations of fact. The idea is to create betting action - not predict the future and most certainly not define the actions (believed or otherwise) of the involved parties. Capitalism, son, free-market capitalism.
Some of the wagering options include:
Odds Seavey and Rittelmeyer reattach if Conservatives retake the House on Nov. 2: 17:1.
Odds Seavey and Rittelmeyer reattach if Conservatives retake the House and the Senate on Nov. 2: 14:1.
Odds Seavey and Rittelmeyer reattach if Democrats retain the House and the Senate on Nov. 2: 10:1.
Odds Seavey and Rittelmeyer reattach by Christmas Eve 2010: 22:1.
Odds Seavey and Rittelemeyer reattach if the Bush tax cuts are extended for two years: 18:1.
Odds Seavey and Rittelmeyer reattach if the Bush tax cuts are made permanent: 9:1.
Odds Seavey and Rittelemeyer reattach if the Bush tax cuts expire BUT the Paris Hilton Tax is abolished: 3:1.
Odds Rittelmeyer and Seavey reattach and then breakup again: 5:1.
Odds Rittelmeyer and Seavey reattach and local police are called to their place of residence on a domestic matter weeks/months/years down the line: 1:1.
Odds Rittelmeyer and Seavey reattach and local police are called to their place of residence on a domestic matter - and it's reported in the papers: 40:1.
Odds Rittelmeyer and Seavey never speak to each other again: 1:200. (Minimum bet: $17,000. Only way to get any action.)
Odds Seavey and Rittelemeyer reattach by April 15, 2011 and agree to co-author a book: 7:2.
Odds Seavey and Rittelemeyer fail to reattach BUT agree to co-author a book: 8:5.
Odds Seavey and Rittelemeyer fail to reattach, agree to co-author a book, and THEN reattach: 35:1.
Odds Regnery publishes the Seavey-Rittelmeyer tome: 1:5.
Odds Roger Ailes approaches Seavey and Rittelemeyer about co-host a show for Conservative college kids: 1:50.
Odds Roger Ailes approves production, including signed contracts, of such a show co-hosted by Seavey and Rittelmeyer for Conservative college kids: 12:1.
Odds a show co-hosted by Seavey and Rittelmeyer for Conservative college kids ever appears on Fox: 71:1.
Odds a show for Conservative college kids designed for Seavey and Rittelmeyer but co-hosted by either a former SEC football cheerleader in a 36C bikini or Carrie Prejean or Bristol Palin or Jenna Bush AND former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow or Peter Doocy or Luke Russert appears on Fox: 9:2.
(to be continued)
(Continued from above)
Odds Seavey and Rittelmeyer start their own 501(c)something blog: 3:5.
Odds Lucianne Goldberg's Boy makes prepubescent jokes about your C-Span statement in his columns and during speeches at Christian colleges until the year 2044: 1:300. (Minimum bet: $35,000)
Odds National Review publishes a Rittelmeyer piece with a woman scorned angle on the C-Span event: 2:5.
Odds Kathryn-Jean Lopez uses the C-Span event to lament the loss of virtue in a Roman Catholic America: 1:60. (Minimum bet: $8,000)
Odds Mary K. Ham mentions the C-Span event without provocation on Howie Kurtz's next CNN show: 4:5.
Odds Howie Kurtz asks Mary K. Ham to comment on the C-Span event: 1:2.
Odds Howie Kurtz makes the C-Span event the third topic of his next CNN show: 1:10.
Odds Howie Kurtz makes the C-Span event the second topic of his next CNN show: 17:1.
Odds Howie Kurtz makes the C-Span event the first topic of his next CNN show: 49:1.
Odds Rittelmeyer marries a Liberal: 29:1.
Odds Rittelmeyer marries a Democrat: 82:1
Odds Rittelmeyer marries a Republican: 3:1.
Odds Rittelmeyer marries a Conservative: 1:2.
Odds Rittelmeyer marries a Tea Party member: 26:1.
Odds Rittelmeyer marries a D.C. political handler: 33:1.
Odds Rittelmeyer marries a hedge fund manager: 4:1.
Odds Rittelmeyer marries a Yale graduate: 1:5,000.
(Minimum bet: $200,000)
Odds Rittelmeyer marries a Harvard graduate: 550:1.
Odds Rittelmeyer marries an Ivy League grad: 1:500.
(Minimum bet: $35,000)
Odds Rittelemeyer marries someone who did not graduate from an Ivy League school: 10,000:1.
Odds Rittelmeyer marries for money: 1:150.
(Minimum bet: $4,000)
Odds Rittelmeyer marries for partner's looks: 82:1.
Odds Seavey marries a Liberal: 24:1.
Odds Seavey marries a Democrat: 14:1
Odds Seavey marries a Republican: 8:1.
Odds Seavey marries a Conservative: 4:5.
Odds Seavey marries a Tea Party member: 73:1.
Odds Seavey marries a D.C. political handler: 9:1.
Odds Seavey marries a hedge fund manager: 350:1.
Odds Seavey marries a Yale graduate: 19:1.
Odds Seavey marries a Harvard graduate: 23:1.
Odds Seavey marries an Ivy League grad: 1:5.
Odds Seavey marries someone who did not graduate from an Ivy League school: 36:1.
Odds Seavey marries for money: 8:5.
Odds Seavey marries for partner's looks: 5:1.
Odds Rittelmeyer, dressed as a dominatrix, is found before 2020 in a D.C. hotel with Dick Morris: 18:1.
Odds Rittelmeyer, dressed as a dominatrix, is found before 2020 in a D.C. hotel with a member of The Family: 89:1.
Odds Rittelmeyer, dressed as a dominatrix, is found before 2020 in a D.C. hotel with a Tea Party politician: 60:1.
Odds Rittelmeyer, dressed as a dominatrix, is found before 2020 in a D.C. hotel with a National Review higher-up: 57:1.
Odds Seavey, dressed as a submissive, is found before 2020 in a D.C. hotel with a Fox News female on-air personality: 34:1.
Odds Seavey, dressed as a submissive, is found before 2020 in a D.C. hotel with a member of The Family: 175:1.
Odds Seavey, dressed as a submissive, is found before 2020 in a D.C. hotel with a Tea Party politician: 86:1.
Odds Seavey, dressed as a submissive, is found before 2020 in a D.C. hotel with a Gawker higher-up: 28:1.
The window is now open.
I love you and want to have your nerdlings. Any chance you'll convert to Islam so we won't be going against Allah's will? ;)
"Let's not mince words here: the woman is not attractive. But she makes up for that by being ugly. I think by admitting you "dated" for two years (there are no beer goggles strong enough to last twenty-four months) is more of an indictment of you, my man. As my farming uncle would say, "she looks like nine miles of bad road."
haha nice and Todd is no John Hamm - get it? he's ugly too!
You are dismantling anyone who disagrees with you.
You are wholly neurotic!!! You scare me!!
There is not a woman of these posts, who say they want you, that are real. You are whacko!
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