Change, alright -- at Little Green Footballs

"An extraordinary moment in the political blogosphere," noted @Greatdismal on Twitter, and I agree. "Feels like some rare astronomical event, something we hear about but don't bother hoping to see," he added -- "somebody changing their mind." Why I Parted Ways With The Right, at Little Green Footballs (yeah, you read that correctly).


  1. I’m confused, possibly because of my lack of familiarity with LGF. Are they usually right leaning or something? I’ve now looked at their top five stories and they all look pretty left.

    Is the dude who parted ways with the right someone we know? This has apparently been re-tweeted 3000 times, and the writeup on boingboing makes it sound significant. . . what am I missing?

    I don’t even know who the author of the post is, so to me it sounds like another Christopher Buckley op-ed or something.

  2. Yeah, I’m with #2. Feel like someone who’s been let in on an in-joke only to realize I have no idea who the joke’s talking about. I don’t “twitter” so I didn’t know “Great Dismal” was William Gibson. But even knowing that, it still means nothing without knowing the context of why it’s so amazing that LGF has gone right. Can we get some context as to why this is “an extraordinary moment” that should mark the point of the “Silver Age of Blogging”.

    1. He’s some right wing bloggist called Charles Johnson. Achievements include nominating Robert Fisk, John Pilger, and Noam Chomsky for ‘idiotarian of the year’.

      It is a bit of a seismic shift when people like that honestly change their minds.

  3. #2, #3, maybe you need to have been reading the blogs for a while to really get a full perspective on this. In the early days of political blogging (2001-2003 or so) LGF was about the most full-throated warblogging site there was, preoccupied with the threat from “Islamofascism” and frequently crossing the line into what (ahem) some people would call Islamophobia or even racism. To see them turn their back on the right is astounding in the context of what was going on back then.

  4. Wow. What’s next? DailyKos stops being self-promoting and self-agrandizing? HuffPo starts getting columns from people that actually know something about what they’re talking about instead of some C-list commedian, B-list actor, and D-list syndicated talk show hosts?

  5. >honestly change their minds.

    read the comments

    “durr what would libertarian hero ronald reagan have to say about the horrifying new direction the republican party is taking”

    he hasn’t changed his mind about anything he’s just making an extremely vague statement to avoid looking like an idiot (in case you haven’t noticed, republicans are, wait for it, currently unpopular) while making no policy changes

  6. The problem really is the whole bogus left/right divide. It isn’t just the idiots who think civilized nationalized health care is “socialism”. At least in the blogosphere there are people who still take *actual* socialism (as in centralized control of markets) seriously — despite the classic 1989 moment being East Germans rushing to go buy things at the KaDeWe that the socialist Konsum stores couldn’t hope to provide.

  7. Little Green Footballs was basically a race-hate site.

    From the look of his comments as to why he left this guy would appear to agree… but… you know, outside America, fascism is (now) on the whole, a fairly marginal phenomena – if it wasn’t for the fact that we (well, some of us) seem to get dragged into unbelievably self-damaging wars at America’s behest, people like LGF would be given the attention etc that they deserve – which is as some sort of grotesque freak show.

    Unfortunately, this same grotesque freak show appeared to be running the country for most of the 00’s so instead of just laughing at them, people argued back.

  8. This has been a long time coming. Johnson has been calling out Ann Coulter, and the right’s support of her, for quite a while, and he’s always been openly critical of the right’s creationist, anti-abortion wing. I’m just surprised that he made a full-on coming out statement like this before Glenn Reynolds (who happens to be a fan of boing boing).

    Between this and the fact that you’ll never see a constitutional ban on minarets in America, I’m particularly proud of how we do things here right now.

  9. He’s also very famous for having shown that Dan Rather et al. made up the “I won’t rate” Bush Texas ANG documents.

  10. I feel like I’m watching someone have a life-changing epiphany about what color the sky is at noon on a clear day.

    Every item listed there (in some form or other) has been so blindingly obvious to me for the last 20 years that I can’t understand why it’s not obvious to EVERYONE.

  11. I don’t know if the internet is self-aware or has developed a sense of irony, but the banner ad I got at LGF says “John Kasich for governor. Paint Ohio Red” Ha ha ha!

    1. I’ve read LGF for years. It has never been a racist site, despite Anonymous’s claim at #12.

      I agree it was never a central focus of the site, but they passed along some pretty rough stuff and looked the other way when their commentariat ran with it. Especially circa 2003-4.

      Racist? probably not. Happy enough in the company of racists? Yes.

  12. I am a long time reader of lgf, and the site has never been racist and its positions haven’t changed, nor are they being misrepresented now by the ten point manifesto. It opposed anti-government conspiracy theorists when Bush was president, as it does now. It opposes American injustice against women and the much much much much much worse kind in much of the Muslim world, etc.

    More than anything its founder believes Western secular liberalism is superior to stone age fundamentalism, and that the fundamentalism in the Muslim world is worse, and more dangerously murderous, than that presently found in America. That’s apparently enough to make many leftists descend into apoplexies of rage and accusations of hatred and racism, even though it is a political statement.

    I repeat: the site has not changed, people were as deranged about Bush-or more, judging by frequency of Nazi imagery-than they are about Obama, and this site calls out both lunacies. It says that our mostly secular America is better than theocracy: a value judgement (gasp!) that applies to religious people in America and Afghanistan.

  13. For those who do not understand — Charles Johnson is a man who might be described as a 9/11 “mugged by reality liberal” who for a while, was considered right-wing because his “Throbbing Memo” helped to bring down Dan Rather of CBS (he showed how documents were faked by using modern-day Microsoft Word to libel the military career of George W. Bush), and his extreme emphasis on the negative side of Islamists the world over.

    As ever, people got it wrong, including myself.

    The meltdown seemed to happen after a blogger called Pam Geller attended an anti-Jihad conference in Brussels in 2007. That was his Andrew Sullivan-like moment of epiphany, and was never the same since. Now everyone who is right-wing is a fascist, a racist, and bigot. It’s like saying all liberals are commies, pinkos, and effeminates. It’s one of those grab-the-popcorn instances the internet does give one, if one is savvy enough to know the insider details. Enjoy.

  14. Sounds like a convenient shift-with-the-winds-of-change-to-generate-traffic move to me — you know, the opposite of what Glenn Beck did a few years ago.

    Then again, if he was always an anarchist (aka libertarian) it might just be the belated realisation that some people take freedom to mean things like ‘freedom to commit genocide’ or ‘freedom to defraud’ and therefore pure freedom is a pipe dream because of those rotten apples.

    On the third hand, maybe he lost his job in banking or IT and realised that hard work is compensated less than easy work.

  15. LGF was the islamophobic Muslim-bashing American hate site until some years back, and they attracted a huge crowd, including people who’d agree with the infamous “Gates of Vienna” blog (and nuking Mecca and Medina).

    The had an important falling-out a couple of years ago, over the Belgian/Flemish nationalist and neo-Fascist party Vlaams Belang. This caused a split, where Charles Johnson after some initial doubts came out against people misusing “anti-Jihadism” to promote Fascism of various sorts.

    I believe he has moved even further, when he accuses the American right of “anti-Islamic bigotry that goes far beyond simply criticizing radical Islam, into support for fascism, violence, and genocide” – because this is what LGF was all about in its heyday, support for any and all means against the Muslims.

    This is a huge shift, and as it’s written, it really does look as if Johnson has learned something. Which is important, even though one might say it was about time …

  16. > “I’m just surprised that he made a full-on coming out statement like this before Glenn Reynolds (who happens to be a fan of boing boing).”

    I doubt that he’s still so. For all that LGF’s moved away from the right, Reynolds has doubled that in the move to towards it. But in the last 5 years, he’s become just as much of a friend to the wingnuts as Malkin or Hewitt. He supported the PATRIOT Act, thinks that torture was justified, supports military tribunals and the death penalty, and thinks the War on Drugs (including mandatory minimums and repealing medical marijuana) is justified. And on his “online TV show” and blog, it’s the same tired rehash of “Obama is supporting socialism,” claims that no one ever bowed in China (like, say, Nixon) unlike Obama in Japan, or “birther” links posted unabashedly and without scorn.

    He was supposedly a libertarian blogger, but how he can support all of that above–most of which is the backbone of American libertarianism–and still manage to call himself a “libertarian” is beyond me. Honestly, at this point, the only difference between Michelle Malkin and Glenn Reynolds (who are apparently good friends) is a Y chromosome and the amount of WHARRGARBL in the actual posts.

  17. Before 9/11, LGF was a rather good tech and photography blog, and generally kind of centrist (there’s a fairly balanced, if dismal, post on Sep 1st 2001 about the Arab-Israelic conflict).

    After 9/11, yeah, it swung quite hard to the right. It’s really, really, genuinely good to see someone who’ll stand up and say “I’ve changed my mind and here’s why”.

  18. This reflects the reality of neo-cons: they are not particularly conservative, but have kept a roost in the Republican party because it provided the most convenient home for their abject warmongering.

    Remember, every major war of the 20th century was entered into by a Democratic president. This Republican Party=War thing is really quite new, a sickness that took hold somewhere during the cold war.

    The neocons have consistently been no enemy of big government. When Bush made government more intrusive than ever, they applauded his “conservative” credentials. Let them rot.

    The questions is, now that they have thoroughly compromised the Republican party (and yes, most of the shills he mentions in the post are justifiably crap), and with the Democratic party having revealed that their anti-war pretenses were merely a knee-jerk anti-Bush response, who will stand against the worst excesses and criminality of the government? Who will stand against war?

    1. Er… Not quite.

      Although you’re correct on most wars, First-, Second-, Korean- and Vietnam war, not all major wars were started under a Democratic president. In the wars mentioned democratic presidents Wilson, FDR, Truman and Johnson were at the helm.

      The Vietnam war escalated royaly under the reign of Nixon. Minor wars were fought in Nicaragua and Panama under Reagan’s presidency and both Gulf wars were stated under a Bush presidency.

  19. He’s right. Their party has been hijacked by some of this country’s craziest citizens, but he allowed this to happen. And now he is whining about the hatred and WWE-mentality he himself has fostered on his website?

    If nothing else, it’s nice to see these lunatics display something of a conscience now and then.

  20. As a long time believer of fiscal conservatism and small government, and a 20+ year republican voter, I am feeling a lot of the same things. The republicans have lost their way and their agenda has been hijacked by the far right and the religious crazies. They have lost their mantle of small government and fiscal conservatism.

    IMHO, the democrats have also lost their way; their party is now being led by the far left, the “progressives”, who used to just admit facts and call themselves “socialists”. At least Bernie Sanders has the balls to call himself that.

    It seems that lately, both parties refuse to vet or support candidates who are not “polar” enough, and that it my biggest lament. I hope that in 2010, people stop blindly voting on party lines, actually consider the candidates’ platforms, and elect some people who are more toward the middle of the political spectrum.

  21. #24: “It seems that lately, both parties refuse to vet or support candidates who are not “polar” enough, and that it my biggest lament.”

    Um, what? One of the biggest issues in Congress right now is that the Senate is deadlocked procedurally by a number of Democrats firmly in the middle. The other big issue is that–surprise!—Republicans are blocking even just talking about anything Democrats support, let alone voting on bills themselves. This even extends to programs many of these same Republicans created themselves *cough*Medicare Part D*cough. The House managed to get 1 Republican to vote in favor of health care, whereas 30+ Democrats voted against it.

    In both houses, there are moderate or even conservative Democrats with their own caucus, most of whom vote against their party regularly. They are still supported by their various campaign committees. There is no Republican equivalent of the caucuses, and they are actively working on “purity oaths” for campaign support, so your “lament” is essentially without merit.

  22. 2002: Charles Johnson digs a hole and poops in it. He places a sign next to the hole inviting others to poop in it as well. He climbs in the hole and 10,000 people read the sign he wrote, and take him up on the offer while he sits there.

    2009: Charles Johnson: “Hey, what smells?”

  23. Is anybody going to link to this alleged race baiting on lgf, so we can judge for ourselves? Or is everybody going to repeat the canard that it was a racist site as if that will make the charge credible?

  24. 35: I searched the page after every citation from that quiz. Every comment attributed to lgf was either deleted or never existed. None were even attributed to the founder of lgf. How can you judge a website negatively based offensive readers’ comments that it deletes? By that ridiculous standard every website with open comments is every bad adjective you can come up with.

  25. What do you mean LGF hasn’t changed its views. Look up the postings on global warming prior to 2008 and compare them with now.

  26. I love how he accuses Lew Rockwell (whose heroes include the Ludwig von Mises) of bigotry, hatred, and white supremacism and it does not get challenged.

  27. Don’t know if anybody is still reading this thread, but I will add my two cents:

    Little Green Footballs was never a very ideological blog. Johnson quoted an article and made a short comment about that quote. Then the “lizards” or “lizardoids” or whatever he called/calls them started talking about the quote or about Johnson’s comment.

    The problem, it seems, with Charles is that he gets obsessed with things. Earlier he was obsessed with Islam (he’s a New Yorker, and a lot of New Yorkers, even leftist or “liberal” New Yorkers, probably took 9/11 even harder than other Americans) and its leftist appologists, and now it’s “right wingers”, “far right”, “religious right” and “climate change deniers”. Next time it might be “left wingers” or the “far left”. He’s simply not very ideological. He finds something that irritates him and then spends his life obsessing about that. An example: let’s say Mitt Romney wins next election. As an American patriot, which I believe he is, he will congratulate Romney and wish him the best. When the left starts referring to Romney as Mitt Hitler (Hitler references are popular with both the left and right, it seems) or the like he will probably say, “Hey, that’s my president, and he is a good person” and stand behind Romney, despite their ideological differences. Next thing you know he will be quoting the “bad craziness” and “hate” at Daily Kos and the Huffington Post and The Guardian’s Comment is Free section.

    Regarding the disgusting “poop” comment by Anonymous 12:32 on Tue, Dec. 1… Why do some people have problem arguing for/against something without being obscene??


    A reader from Europe

  28. I have been reading LGF since ’02
    Charles Johnson has always been sincere, even if I haven’t seen eye to eye with him on some issues.

    Also, he has never hesitated to call-out bigots and racists.

    He is most certainly not “islamophobic”, he is only opposed to the dangerous social/political movement…

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