Dear Esteemed Folks on the Right,

We seem to keep having this problem over and over. Once again we must scrub a carbon-ashy freeze-frame silhouette off the wall, and pry lumps of metal from the floor that were once the hapless possessor’s spectacles, wedding ring, dungaree rivets, &c. This is inconvenient for everyone involved, and we’ve taken the initiative to post a short list of people with whom you should not engage in feckless argument, if we are all to avoid this inconvenience in the future. (It is not an exhaustive list by any means.)

1) Juan Cole

We’ll think of some others, but this is the one that most readily springs to mind. It simply never goes well, ladies and gentlemen. We’ve had to circle next Tuesday in our appointment book because that’s when we expect Christopher Hitchens’s ancestors since roughly Regency times, after having been belched from their graves, to come flaming back to Earth one after the next. We just looked in our big 1848 edition of Webster’s, and it has now always held an entry for the word, ‘pwned,’ with a daguerreotype of Christopher Hitchens’s ass. We went to adjust the timing in our car, and the manual now shows settings for ‘advance’ and ‘hitchens.’ In short, please stop because you keep messing things up all over the space/time continuum.

Thank You,
Your Housemates on the Left

PS: Dishes In Sink.


Comments: 44


At long last, Hitch, have you no decency at all?


Well, I don’t think it is any secret that Hitchens has for some time had a very serious and debilitating drinking problem.

Boo-yah! Cole completely takes the gloves off. He made the best argument against an Iran war that I have seen yet.


Wow. What a thorough and verbally vicious smackdown. “We don’t want your stinking war!” isn’t harsh enough — there should be profanity.

James Wolcott is probably another name to add to the “do not engage” list, but Cole has now definitely risen to the top of it. I still remember reading his response to Jonah a while back.


What does “pwned” mean?? Apologies for my ignorance.


Lucy, you may want to look here, regarding ‘pwned’ and other instances of “leet speak”


Oh, it’s leet. I see. It looked like “owned” to me anyway, but I was too out of it to puzzle out what it was doing there. BTW, Hey! I’m not nobody’s parent! Thanks for that ref anyway, Jas.


There is probably some devastatingly witty pun about Reaganites, refuting them, and bringing about a “pwnerzship society”. But I’m too lazy to make it right now.


Oh my…I think I need a cigarette after that smackdown.

Almost as good as when Cole took out Goldberg. I say “almost” because it’s much more fun seeing an arrogant prick like Goldberg get his comeuppance than seeing a sad, old drunk like Hitchens get his (despite the fact that he deserved it).

Ditto on Wolcott.


ugh you can’t cite to the Microsoft website to define leet speak.


Urban Dictionary is better for most l33t and other new slang, but it’s a minefield of vulgarity and horrible written depravity. (Don’t look up Black Hawk Down, whatever you do.)

At your own risk, here’s the UD definition of pwn.


I don’t get linking, obviously.


Yeah, I would say you can safely add James Wolcott and Gore Vidal to that list.


Moussaoui just got life in prison, not the death penalty. Cue wingnut outrage.


I would put James Wolcott on top of that list, just in terms of sentence by sentence take-downs. Wolcott could probably take someone down even if he were on the wrong side of the argument.

Cole gets high up there on the list because he’s got a devastating grasp on the facts to bludgeon you with and the tenacity to actually go through with it.

I also wouldn’t mess with Berube, Tbogg, or Roy Edroso. Those guys will mess you up like Stephen Colbert on a three day bender.


JK47, I just popped over to Free Republic and they are lamenting how weak America has become, as if killing someone is a sign of strength and “testicular virility,” as Rod Blago. would have it. Anyhow, my favorite comment was, “Kill Da Wahhabi! Kill Da Wahhabi!”


Michael Beruube definitely belongs on the list. One should never mess with a Lit Professor who plays Hockey.


I nominate the Rude Pundit in addition to the other fine nominees. Wolcott may cut swiftly, and so finely you perhaps wouldn’t even realize at first, and the professors would serve you a relentless mental beatdown on a platter(plus fail you for the semester), but R.P. would leave you with an indelible mental image of your utter humiliation that would cause you to wake sweaty and screaming, yet somehow strangely titillated.


Hell YES! I am completely behind the good professor.

His attack on Hitchens was beautiful. He gets lied about so often that this one finally ripped out the restraints.


evidently, Hitchens’ way of fighting the Muhammedeens is to imbibe as much as possible of a substance forbidden my Allah – as long as he’s got a bottle of whiskey – it means that the Islamic hordes have not prevailed.
“Allah can have my scotch when he pries it from my cold, dead, hand!”

re: Moussaoui – duh – executing him is exactly what he wants. Smart move on the jury’s part to give him life in prison. Even if one was for the death penalty (I’m not,BTW) in this case it would be foolish to make a martyr out of Moussaoui.
Besides, I’m sure the general population in prison is full of nice Christian men who’ll be more than willing to do whatever they deem just.


Oh…I would definitely add PZ Myers over at Pharyngula.

He’ll pull out your motherfucking heart and show it to you before you die. In, you know, a metaphorical sense.



*Ahem*, the proper term is pwnt.

Thank you.


Berube, definitely.

Cole pours on the “unfrozen caveman lawyer” ‘I’m just one simple professor’ bit a little too thick for it to always be completely satisfying.

I’d also add the Kung Fu Monkey as someone not to piss off, for this gem alone.

verplanck colvin

A second for Myers. You can’t smack down anyone harder than to provide empirical evidence for your point.

(Wolcot seems the best suited for sending you crying home to momma, though)


Hey Gavin. Good on ya, lad, for the Juan Cole linkage. He definitely was feeling jumped on, first by the Fund/WSJ op/ed and now Hitch the self-loathing brit drunk.

As far as Moussaoui goes, no civilized nation murders people. But if you ARE going to kill people under the auspices of the legal system, you really should only kill people who have committed the most egregious of crimes. This guy didn’t kill anybody. He didn’t hurt anybody. He thought he wanted to be a terrorist, but al-Quaida wouldn’t let him play on their team ’cause Khalid sheik Mohammed thought he was a wackjob. Imagine just how loony you’d have to be to be rejected by al-Quaida!

But if we’re gonna start putting to death people who have entertained the concept of blowing up their workplace or a government building, well, traffic would get a lot better, fer shure….



The simple message bears repeating:

We are not going to let you have a war against Iran. So sit down and shut up, American Enterprise Institute, and Hudson Institute, and Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and American Heritage Institute, and this institute and that institute, and cable “news”, and government “spokesmen”, and all the pundit-ferrets you pay millions to make business for the American military-industrial complex and Big Oil. We don’t give a rat’s ass what Ahmadinejad thinks about European history or what pissant speech the little shit gives.


and all the pundit-ferrets you pay millions to make business for the American military-industrial complex and Big Oil. We don’t give a rat’s ass what Ahmadinejad thinks about European history or what pissant speech the little shit gives.

Ok, I just gotta say one thing. I write. I write for fun. I write to relax. Oh, yeah, I write for a living. And there are times when my work has been eloquent, powerful and true. But that, up there, the shit in italics? Dammint, when you can build sentences like that, where the power and the passion live side by side and don’t get in each other’s way? You have broken thru–to the place where at least eighteen of us appreciate the work. Thanks…



I loved the Juan Cole article and found the Sadly, No advice to Hitch to be even funnier. Keep it up Gavin!

Short Gary Ruppert


’nuff said…



Thanks for the link to Cole; I wouldn’t want to have missed that. A warning about the photos would have been nice, though.

I’m tempted to ask what’s the story on the 4-year-old kid sitting with the man behind barbed-wire…but I’m pretty sure the answer would leave me more heartsick than I already am.


You’ve got to be kidding, right? No honest person could think that Cole won that debate, unless you’re the sort of person who simply gets distracted by Cole’s incessant attempts to change the subject.

Fact 1: In his prior email, Cole offered a translation of a single sentence: “The Imam said that this regime occupying Jerusalem (een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods) must [vanish from] from the page of time (bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad).”

Fact 2: Cole claims that this merely means that Israel should stop occupying any part of Jerusalem, just as Sharon stopped occupying Gaza. As Hitchens points out, this apology is pathetic: Is it really better for Iran to want Israel to “vanish from the pages of time”? That phrase clearly points to Israel’s total destruction.

Fact 3: Hitchens ALSO pointed to several OTHER remarks that are completely consistent with wanting to destroy and eliminate Israel: “Our dear Imam targeted the heart of the world oppressor in his struggle, meaning the occupying regime. . . . For over fifty years the world oppressor tried to give legitimacy to the occupying regime, and it has taken measures in this direction to stabilize it. . . .If we get through this brief period successfully, the path of eliminating the occupying regime will be easy and down-hill.”

Fact 4: Hitchens claimed that “Professor Cole has completely missed or omitted the first reference in last October’s speech, skipped to the second one, and flatly misunderstood the third. (The fourth one, about ‘eliminating the occupying regime,’ I would say speaks for itself.)”

Fact 5: Cole offers ABSOLUTELY NO REBUTTAL to Hitchens’ claims here. He doesn’t offer another translation for phrases like “eliminating the occupying regime.” He doesn’t even try.

Conclusion: Anyone who says that Cole refuted Hitchens doesn’t even comprehend that there’s more to the debate than nitpicking over the single phrase “wiped off the map.”


Thurmond, you’re missing Cole’s most important point, that Hitchins had quoted from a draft, not a finished argument, and, according to Cole, quoted it selectively to boot. For Hitchins to deploy all of his rhetorical devices as if Cole were engaged in public debate is disingenuous, to say the least.



Okay, here are two phrases in English, each with a different meaning.

1) “This too shall pass.”

2) “We are going to kill people.”

Note that ‘pass’ is often used in English in the sense of someone dying — e.g., ‘to pass away.’

Therefore who can say that they’re not equivalent — that ‘this too shall pass’ doesn’t refer to the killing of a person? Answer: Someone who speaks English.

Now, of the two contenders in this argument over translations from Persian, one of them speaks Persian and the other doesn’t. I, personally, would think it wise to go with the one who actually speaks Persian instead of the guy who merely collects bits of Persian translations from US press accounts, trusting that they mean what he thinks they mean.

Throwing more suspect Hitchens translations into the mix (and labeling them ‘facts’) can certainly produce what seems to be an argument. I would say, however, that it isn’t an argument, but merely a bunch of stuff thrown together.

Like Hitchens’s piece.


The only problem with your analysis is that Cole never, not once, suggests that the meaning is anything akin to “this too shall pass.”

Here’s what Cole says about that phrase:

He quoted Khomeini that “the occupation regime over Jerusalem should vanish from the page of time.” It is in fact probably a reference to some phrase in a medieval Persian poem. It is not about tanks.

What does “vanish from the page of time” actually mean then? Cole tries to insinuate that it would mean something to “withdrawing from Jerusalem,” just like withdrawing from Gaza. But he provides zero evidence for this translation. And at least one Iranian has pointed out that the phrase does, in fact, mean something akin to “must be destroyed.”

Why are we supposed to find it comforting that Ahmadinejad wants Israel to be destroyed, as opposed to “wiping it off the map”?

Especially when that phrase occurs in the context of a speech that, as Hitchens points out at length, is chock-full of statements that clearly indicate a desire for Israel’s destruction.

You know what is so pathetic? Cole doesn’t even TRY to answer the main point of Hitchens’ article — i.e., that there are many other indications that Ahmadinejad wishes for Israel’s annihilation. All Cole can do is whine about his email, reprint inflammatory pictures, accuse Hitchens of being drunk, etc. Anything but an actual answer to Hitchens’ point. All Cole can do is nitpick about whether the phrase should be translated literally, or whether it’s OK to use an English-equivalent idiom.


Just as you, Thurmond, are choosing to ignore Cole’s main point and the basic starting assumption of anyone with half a brain: it doesn’t matter what loony-ass Ahmedinejad says, what matters is what he has the capability actually to do. Even if we stipulate that sloppy drunk Chris Hitchens understands Ahmedinejad better than the guy who can read Farsi, so what? Just because he’d like to destroy Israel doesn’t mean that he can, and we don’t need another pointless war because another tinpot nutjob made threatening noises and is working really hard to back those threats up with something tangible. Fuck that. You’re not rushing us into the same mistake twice.


ooh, ad hominem attacks! What an intellectual badass!

Debilitating drinking problem? Well, Christopher writes for Slate, Vanity Fair, Atlantic, London Times, etc., he usually has at least one book a year published, is the only journalist i know of to travel to iran, iraq, and north korea, makes frequent television appearances, teaches at the New School in New York, gives frequent speeches and debates, etc.

I wish i had such a debilitating problem. And as far Cole not being one to be messed with. You’re correct. I wouldn’t mess with a guy who cries about getting lawyers involved anytime someone says something about him that he doesn’t agree with.

I also question the self esteem of a man who links a site that basically says, “that guy is cool.”

“Honey, do you see this? They say i “pwned”. Well, no, i’m not quite sure what it means. But don’t you see? The kids think i’m hip!” *giddy dancing ensues*


and LOL@This too shall pass! Ding Ding Ding: We have a winner of the coveted Worst Analogy Ever Award!


I wish i had such a debilitating problem.

Ah, but you do!

Stealing from Andrew Sullivan’s blog.



In one of the Hitchens/Galloway debates, I heard Hitchens take a sideways, sarcastic swipe at Professor Cole’s language abilities, in the vein of “some people say” he has such skills. Dismissive without making any particular accusation. A dirty little rhetorical flourish, but typical of Hitchen’s sullen way of sniping at an opponent. Very passive-aggressive.

Some weeks later I saw Hitch on ABC’s “This Week”, where he concluded his remarks by saying,

“…I shall go on keeping score about [the Iraq war] until the last phony pacifist has been strangled with the entrails of the last suicide-murderer.”…

Hitchens looked pretty darn shaky to me and his color was not that good; it seemed that he could have used that “maintenance drink” right then. And when Hitch made the remark about strangling “the last suicide murderer” with the entrails of “the last phony pacifist”, his host, George Stephanopoulos, looked at him the way one would look at a crazy uncle, made no comment, and turned to ask someone else a question.


Okay, so Hitchens doesn’t know how to come out and say Cole is CIA and get away with it. Or not so much get away with it as avoid getting lynched. So he expresses himself in cumbersome even incomprehensible ways. But that’s the way it is in a situation (especially US involvement in the Middle East) where thanks to Ronny Baby and Bush I the CIA has come to run the show in American domestic as well as foreign politics. I dare say it would drive anyone to drink.


It was I who “hacked” (one must suppress a snicker here) Bat Juano Cole’s com-pew-ter. Good God, I’ve never seen such a massive collection of kiddie porn before! I had to take about three showers to get the residue of disgust off me.


This is amusing. A cute little fan club of gushing undergrads. Go discuss this subject with native farsi speakers, kids. Cole pwned! LOL


LOL It keepe getting funnier. So, because my response to Cole’s insults are similar to what was posted on a conservative’s site whom i don’t even keep up with, i must have stolen it. Yeah, great logic. How about this?

Let’s say someone says Kobe Bryant has such a sex addiction that it has seriously hurt his playing. A website shows some amazing stats that completely disprove the initial allegation. Many sports fans offer the SAME stats. By your logic, they MUST have stolen it from that website. You’re very smart. LOL


Wow, i just read what you said i “stole”. I assumed he wrote the same exact things i wrote with a similar order. It wasn’t even close. All he mentioned was a few of the magazines and the book. Nothing of his public speaking, his teaching, or his traveling.

But hey, when all logic fails, resort to ad hominem attacks. Hey, who does that remind me of?


But hey, when all logic fails, resort to ad hominem attacks. Hey, who does that remind me of?

Christopher Hitchens?

Seriously, let’s cut to the substance here. Hitchens has been wrong about nearly everything WOT-related these past few years, event by event. Whether it’s the alcohol or plain old hubris, I certainly can’t say. He’s a brilliant writer and rhetoritician, and I admire him for that. I read him for the fireworks he produces, piece after piece.

His politics, however, are becoming increasingly foolish. He believes things that aren’t true and convinces others of them.


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