Another Sane Conservative Pushed Aside
Original blogger AllahPundit is leaving Hot Air after 16 years.
The man who has blogged for nearly two decades under the pseudonym AllahPundit has
fallen out of a window parted ways with Hot Air, where he has written 36,591 posts since being hired by founder Michelle Malkin 16 years ago. The current ownership had the decency to let him say goodbye.
[T]hank you to Jon Garthwaite and Townhall Media, who stuck with me even as the GOP changed and I declined to change with it. At this point I must be the only strident critic of Donald Trump serving a pro-Trump populist readership across all of conservative media. And that’s been true *for years.* Since 2020, at least.
It was possible only because of Townhall’s sufferance, a show of integrity for which they don’t get enough credit. But I think all of us knew it couldn’t last. When you hire someone to run your hot-dog stand and he starts telling the customers that hot dogs are bad for them, that relationship won’t endure. Even if he’s right about the hot dogs.
While I haven’t been a regular reader of the site for years, I’ve caught quite a few of his posts over the years and had indeed been surprised that he was still holding true to 2006-era principles against a tide of MAGA commenters and a paymaster eager to retain their patronage. It does indeed say something about Garthwaite and company that they let him go so long. Out of kindness, I suppose.
AP is kinder to his critics than I might be in his shoes:
Thank you to my critics — the earnest ones, who weren’t just axe-grinding because I wouldn’t join a cult. I am not dishonest but am frequently stupid and you were right to call me on my moments of stupidity. Accountability is good. The right needs more of it from its own side, urgently. If the average populist slobberer had a few like you in their ear, we wouldn’t be in the fix we’re in.
Lastly, to those who spent the last seven years barking insults at me in the comments for not genuflecting to Trump, I’ll give you this: You’re not phonies. You believe what you say. We have that much in common. I respect honesty and paid you the respect of being honest. It would scandalize you to know how many of your heroes sound like you in public and like me in private. Audience capture has brought most of conservative media to ruin by making it predictable and shrill.
I hear Lincoln’s words in my head as I write that: “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies.” Let’s hope. But let’s also be real: To a certain sort of Very Online Trumpist weirdo, having the right enemies is what politics is all about. To any who insist upon having me as one, I’m okay with it. Few badges of honor shine as brightly as the scorn of authoritarians.
As I and the other front pages have moved left while the GOP turned crazy, we went from a commentariat that was mostly Republican with a handful of liberals interested in what the sane conservatives had to say to one in which the commenters are mostly to our left and the few conservative commenters are indistinguishable from trolls.
I awoke to find five comments in moderation from a pseudonym I hadn’t seen before. Whether she was earnest and believed what she had to say, is a nut, or just spouting MAGA talking points for the lulz, I really can’t say. I sent them to the spam folder.
AP’s summation of the state of play is astute:
As to the state of the right.
Partisan media serves two masters, the truth and the cause. When they align, all is well. When they conflict, you choose. If you prioritize the truth, you’re a traitor; if you prioritize the cause, you’re a propagandist. One recent example of the latter is the left mocking Republicans who accepted PPP loans during the pandemic for opposing Biden’s student debt bailout. The differences between those two programs would be evident to a reasonably intelligent fourth-grader but the imperative to serve the cause by rationalizing Biden’s giveaway forced liberals to treat it as a smart own. I think some even talked themselves into believing it. Propagandists lie to others, then lie to themselves to justify propagating the original lie. Propaganda rots the brain, then the soul.
That’s one reason why, when I’ve been forced to choose, I preferred to be a traitor than a propagandist. Here’s another: What is the right’s “cause” at this point? What cause does the Republican Party presently serve? It has no meaningful policy agenda. It literally has no platform. The closest thing it has to a cause is justifying abuses of state power to own the libs and defending whatever Trump’s latest boorish or corrupt thought-fart happens to be. Imagine being a propagandist for a cause as impoverished as that. Many don’t need to imagine.
While I had long understood that the infotainment ecosystem had evolved to reward hyperbole and outrage, I didn’t fully realize how much performance was going on until the day after the 2006 midterms, when both Rush Limbaugh and Hugh Hewitt confessed that they had been lying to their listeners in carrying the water for Congressional leaders they believed were failing the cause. I observed,
Commentators, whether they be syndicated columnists, talk show hosts, or bloggers, build audiences by putting themselves on the line arguing for things that they believe in. Those who are perceived to merely be ranting for the sake of outrageousness, like Ann Coulter, are quickly dismissed as frauds.
It’s one thing to be a partisan and quite another to be a partisan hack. If a commentator believes that their party’s leaders are failing to live up to their self-proclaimed values, then it’s incumbent upon him to say so. That’s how you build credibility.
I’d say AP has done that, which is all the more laudable given that he had to know what was coming.
I agree with others who say that, fundamentally, the last six years have been a character test. Some conservatives became earnest converts to Trumpism, whatever that is. But too many who ditched their civic convictions did so for the most banal reasons, because there was something in it for them — profit, influence, proximity to power, the brainless tribalism required by audience capture. “Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket,” Eric Hoffer wrote. We’ve all gotten to see who the racketeers are.
I would rather fail as a writer than succeed if success means being some demagogue’s footstool. To the extent my work at Hot Air has made that clear, I’m happy with it.
Never forget, it’s not the 30 percent of Trump worshipers within the party who brought the GOP to what it is. It’s the next 50 percent, the look-what-the-libs-made-me-do zombie partisans, who could have said no but didn’t. I said no. Put it on my tombstone.
Thankfully, he ain’t dead yet. He’s going to be writing for The Dispatch after a short respite under his own name.
UPDATE: The original version of this post stated definitively that AllahPundit had revealed himself as the scholar Marvin Olasky when in actuality it was a surmise compounded by a misreading.
AP declared in the post that he would be writing under his own name when he joined The Dispatch, so I went over to the site to see if they had made the announcement. There, the above-linked post from Jonah Goldberg began “Dear Reader (Especially the newest member of The Dispatch team, Allahpundit!)”
The link is to a Tweet from Olasky announcing the news, which I took to be a personal announcement. And it may well have been. It would certainly be curious to link to the single word “Allahpundit” and a Tweet from Olasky linking to the Hot Air announcement rather than to, well, the Hot Air announcement itself if it wasn’t a subtle hint that Olasky and Allahpundit were one and the same.
Nobody had pushed back on the surmise until a commenter noted that some significant biographical details didn’t add up but I’ve amended the post accordingly.
UPDATE II (Sept. 5): Olasky has assured me that he is not, in fact, AllahPundit’s secret identity. My apology for the error and I had further modified the post accordingly.
Something that all too many seem to be immune to. I can only surmise that that is because they have no soul, having already sold it to the highest bidder.
Happy that he still retains his.
eta thank dawg I have an edit function today as I can’t type worth a shit right now
Mote, Beam, Eye.
No one was mocked for accepting PPP loans. Many were for having those loans forgiven, after they complained of Biden forgiving a portion of student loans.
Interesting quote, and I think it applies to a lot more than just causes. It applies equally well to businesses and NGOs and PTAs and religions and just about every human endeavor. I think it’s inevitable for successful entities, as the type of personality and skill set needed to conceptualize and champion something must give way to the type of practical “growth and management” type that will steer it through the day to day, non-dramatic challenges that must be overcome if an organization is to become self sustaining. And once that happens, the organization has power and that attracts people primarily interested in feeding off that power and are much less interested in the actual purpose of the organization, although they usually have mastered the shibboleths and are great performance artists in their own right. No one moralizes more fervently than a Bishop with a hundred secret vices.
I had no idea that Olasky was Allapundit. The insults the commenters hurled at him when he wrote an anti-Trump column–or even when he didn’t–for HA were horrific.
As I wondered yesterday, will Jazz Shaw be next? He doesn’t strike me as particularly enamored of Trump, although he’s not as blunt as Allahpundit.
That is a remarkable goodbye. I have come to really appreciate AllahPundit over the years.
I also felt the timing of it, unintended thought it was, made it sort of a bookend to Biden’s speech.
This (chilling) paragraph, from immediately after the one about the Republicans lack of platform James shared above, echoed the core of Biden’s message:
I give AllahPundit all the credit in the world for saying that not only in public, but on a site that is increasingly working to normalize that mission.
@CSK: I had the same thought. Jazz’ posts are a lot less political.
This is a sidebar to the column, but like Kathy this excerpt bothered me:
It was not the *acceptance* of the loans that was at issue, it was the blatant hypocrisy of the “bUt i PAid mY loAnS” screeching by conservatives which ignored the PPP forgiveness program. There are times when forgiving a loan makes good policy sense, and it would be nice if conservatives were at least cognizant of that–and how it looks to say that businesses that received in some cases hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars FORGIVEN are somehow worthy of that enormous gift and students getting a $10K write-off are not.
A reasonably intelligent fourth-grader would understand this.
@Kathy: @Jen: Thanx, now I don’t have to. For some reason my mind glossed over that.
Thanks for the Pancho and Lefty reference. Townes Van Zandt is a gift that keeps on giving.
I can’t quite point to a specific date when The American Conservative capitulated to Trumpism, but it was an amazing about-face. It became clear by the time they were playing footsie with Tucker Carlson and Victor Orban.
Viktor Orban is a hero to the MAGAs.
Allahpundit is one of the bloggers I’ve been reading consistently since the Bush years, along with OTB and Dave Schuler. His prioritization of the truth was evident early on, and I communicated with him offline a few times on intelligence and military issues. I had no idea he was Olasky – a person I’d never heard of until today.
I think it’s appropriate for him to land at the Dispatch. That is really the bastion of conservative intellectual thought in a sea of MAGA douchebaggery.
I think the point you both are missing is that the PPP was structured as a giveaway program, unlike student loans. Congress wanted to help workers stay solvent, and the idea was to give money to employers to pass on to workers in the form of wages. I don’t know all the details, but that design (as opposed to giving wages to workers directly) was driven by practical considerations – namely, that the federal government really had no idea which workers should get money and which shouldn’t so the program compliance centered on employers.
But how do you keep employers from just pocketing the money? Well, the money was structured as a loan, but that was only to provide an incentive for employers to pass the funds on as wages. The program was designed so that if employers met certain criteria, then they wouldn’t have to pay it back. In fact, the program was specifically designed to encourage this because the goal was to get money to workers. In short, the government wanted these loans to be forgiven.
The loan part of it was specifically designed and intended to incentivize employers to pass through the money as wages – if employers kept the money or used it for other purposes, then they’d have to pay it back. In other words, loan forgiveness was completely intentional and build-in from the start. Everyone who took a PPP loan understood that if they met certain conditions defined in the law, the loan would be forgiven.
Now contrast that with student loans which do not include any loan forgiveness. No one taking a student loan expected (or should have expected) to have it forgiven.
Secondly, the PPP was a law passed with overwhelming bipartisan support and was extended via additional legislation signed by Biden himself. The student loan forgiveness was not passed via legislation; instead, it was done by fiat using dubious claims of 9/11 emergency powers.
I’ve known of Olasky as the author of “Compassionate Conservatism,” a book familiar on the right during the Dubya Bush years.
Please, I don’t want to cut-and-paste, but what I just posted on the Biden / MAGA topic is very much a filling a response here as well.
I provide link: https://www.outsidethebeltway.com/biden-maga-republicans-threaten-republic/#comment-2725845
I didn’t “miss” that point (I have banking clients and actually understand quite a bit about how PPP was structured and why, thanks), I just don’t think it’s relevant to the issue at hand, which is conservative hypocrisy about loans. I explicitly pointed out that there are times when loan forgiveness is sound policy.
@Jen: There is some difference with the forgiven PPP loans. They were always intended to keep employees employed and, ideally, just flowed through the businesses to get money into the pockets of employees who would not otherwise be working or generating revenue for the business. Having said that, I am aware that much of that money ended up in the employers’ pockets because some or all of the employees were in fact generating some or all of their usual revenue. The program – as designed – had no way to react to that.
This doesn’t make sense to me – where it it confirmed this is Allahpundit? Allahpundit presented himself as being in his 40s, atheist, former catholic. Texas fits but not the rest.
@speculator: I’ve explained in an update to the OP.
“Olasky is kinder to his critics…”
You might want to change Olasky to Allahpundit.
I note that Allahpundit and Olasky have separate Twitter accounts.
@Joe: I know, I understand fully how PPP was designed to work (I wrote communications pieces, internal and external, for banks on this topic). It was designed as a loan program with the potential for loan forgiveness, if established criteria were met. I also know that the sole discretion for loan forgiveness was placed with the lenders (banks) and that they had only 60 days from forgiveness application to determination; because of the short time frame lenders were not required to conduct verifications of materials submitted to support the application for loan forgiveness.
I truly do understand the differences. Really.
I didn’t mean to derail the thread on this, but the fact remains that the assertion that “One recent example of the latter is the left mocking Republicans who accepted PPP loans during the pandemic for opposing Biden’s student debt bailout,” is an incorrect characterization of what was being mocked by “the left,” which was not the *acceptance* of the loans.
@Andy: If Republicans don’t like those dubious emergency 9/11 powers, they could have repealed them in 2017, when they controlled all the government.
They didn’t, did they? They spent their time elsewhere.
This really is a BSDI thing, though, since the Dems have had opportunities to do so. This really is why “sunset” provisions are a good idea. Just let the powers go away on their own unless renewed.
Out of curiosity this morning I checked Wiki on Olasky and found no mention of AllahPundit. Noting that this may have nothing to do with AllahPundit, I’ll spare myself reading the book, but note that W talked about “compassionate conservatism” without mentioning the book. Many others pointed out at the time that the book the phrase came from argued for tough love, making the poor stand on their own two feet, i.e., doing nothing. Which was what W planned to do while talking a lot about compassion.
“PPP wasn’t loans, it was actually just yet another US goverment giveaway to the rich” is not the crack defense of PPP forgiveness compared to student debt relief some may think it is. Yes, PPP was a slush fund, reinforcing the hypocrisy of being given hundreds of thousands up to multiple millions of PPP free money while whining about fairness and personal responsibility because a struggling college grad who makes $80k a year is getting a measly $10,000 write-off.
The “but it went to employees” canard is laughable. The PPP program was rife with fraud and abuse, including wealthy entitling collecting this free money while they had still enough revenue or income to pay their employees themselves. Did they give their employees the extra PPP cash? No. Are they paying back their “giveaway?” No. They just put the money into their already-rich pockets.
Yet those guys get excuses and tortured defenses, while lectures and invective are hurled at young people whose futures have been mortgaged by the irresponsible and selfish policy of their forebears: unfunded wars, tax cuts for and endless bailouts and giveaways to the rich, stealing from youth workers’ Social Security trust to fund Boomer retirements, electing climate denialists, and giving a majority of their votes to a patholgical lying racist who caused mass death and record small business failure.
Make it make sense.
Allahpundit *is* Hot Air. I’ve been reading him longer than any other blogger. Not surprised at all, I was wondering how long he could last over there.
I am excited to see him posting at The Dispatch under his given name, I may resubscribe there forthwith as I have missed David French anyway.
Olasky was in Dubya’s orbit, sort of an advisor (or guru) so there is a connection.
In my view, the details and substantial and material differences between student loans and the PPP undercut the hypocrisy charge.
It’s like suggesting that people who want to raise taxes are hypocrites for taking advantage of the system as it is and not voluntarily paying more.
Yes, the PPP was a poorly run and managed program that was prone to graft, which a lot of us pointed out in the beginning. That didn’t stop it from getting overwhelming bipartisan support, with AOC being the only Democrat to vote against it.
Bad policy is bad policy. That’s a different question than supposed hypocrisy.
@Jay L Gischer:
Yes, I’m a big fan of sunsetting provisions. I’m consistently skeptical of Executive power grabs and Congress actively or passively deferring to the President.
As for why no one has done anything about it? The obvious answer is that partisans want that authority when their person is President, and Congress, as an institution, exercises constant political cowardice.
Thanks for the update. I did think it was a bit weird that it could be Olasky – I was expecting someone younger.
And if it is Olasky, it’s weird that the Tweet you linked to would refer to himself in the third person:
@Andy: I read the tweet quickly in the context of the hyperlink from Goldberg. I did find a few instances where Olasky pointed to something AP wrote and vice versa—which could be evidence in either direction.
I wish Allahpundit well in his new digs. Wasn’t a reader of HA having grown fatigued with Michelle Malkin long before she bought the site, so I’ve only read him a few times. Wasn’t all that impressed, though he’s better than a lot of cohort. I think that’s a natural evolution of a world in which Jonah Goldberg is one of the more “thought provoking” conservatives, but I’m too cynical for right-wing thought anymore. It left me behind long before I’d found OtB as an outlet where one could find thoughtful conservative thought. Good luck and godspeed, Allahpundit, whoever you are.
Today I noticed that on August 2, Allahpundit briefly mentioned his leaving Hot Air on Twitter. I didn’t pick up on it then, and few others seem to have done so.
The sneering superiority even when advancing superficial arguments that were – after some thought – not very convincing was one of the main reasons I was never really able to take AP serious. He tends to be really heavily blinkered by his priors.
Even disregarding the fact that the retained employees in many cases still generated value, to argue that the employers only kept their employees on the payroll to help out government is bordering on the dishonest in an environment where you have constant headlines about the inability of employers to find enough staff. That should have been obvious even on a cursory glance.
Equally irrelevant seems to be whether the government decided on forgiveness before or after the implementation. In both cases government money is spent on a cause that is of benefit both to the final recipient (student/employee) and the society at large (lowering unemployment / keeping businesses running / enabling family + business founding and retail spending).
But he deserves all the kudos for his principled stand and the very graceful exit. Verklempt little me could never manage such a self-critical exit :D.
@CSK: Most comments on AP’s posts were nothing but ad hominems directed at the author and complaints that Townhall kept employing him. It was quite bizarre reading what were often long, evidence-based arguments in a post, followed by dozens of abusive comments that made no reference to the post at all. Like AP, I’m surprised they kept him on for so many years after 2015. I bet Michelle Malkin wouldn’t have.
It was an interesting insight into Trump Republicanism that Salem Commincations put all its sites’ comments behind paywalls a few months ago – Hot Air, Townhall.com, PJ Media, RedState and Twitchy. They quite openly stated the reason was to allow their loyal readers to engage in constructive discussions with like-minded folk, without having to deal with “trolls” who had the temerity to disagree with the received wisdom. It was amazing they allowed Allahpundit to keep posting material that drove their readers frantic with indignation.
Allah’s take on the issue is much better than yours, Kathy. But at least Biden got to bribe more voters just in front of the midterms.
The insults were indeed ad hominem, as you say. Nothing whatever to do with the substance of the piece.
Didn’t a similar purge of anti-Trump writers take place at Red State years ago?
Yup. And it’s no surprise that there’s been bipartisan howling about Biden’s student debt relief from establishmentarians, cosplay centrists, and corporate media hacks.
It’s this same “bipartisanship” cabal that has been raping the middle and working class for forty years, that authored the Afghanistan disaster and coddled Trump voters while telling us daily how “unlikeable” Hillary was. Biden said no more endless Afghan war, yes to student debt relief, no more singing kumbsys with Trump enablers, putting the American ahead ahead of war contractors, millionaires, billionaires, corporate donors, big banks, and Republicans’ fragile feeling.
We know the “bipartisan” establishment believes US policy should only be centered around the above, and that only right wing interests (Big Agriculture, retirees, megachurches, and Elon Musk) should get subsidized while the rest of us scrounge around on crumbs and bootstraps.
We been knew. That’s why the “bipartisan” establishment stays mad at Biden. After four decades of unfunded wars, giveaways to the rich, tax cuts for billionaires, worsening housing crisis, and looming climate disaster the “bipartisan” consensus that authored this failure can go to hell. Thank you, Mr. Biden.
Good riddance to bad rubbish. Much of the anti-Trumpian conservative commentariat reminds me of the Mensheviks.
@Argon: Well, TAC has seemed to have turned itself into a Catholic circle-jerk, where all the writers are so enamoured about turning the U.S.A. into The Papal States, Round Two that they haven’t thought what will happen in fact in the US after they manage to break down the barrier between State and Church.
Somehow I don’t think the more fervent of the Protestant sects will put up with being “ruled” by Catholics.
Thirty Years War, anyone?