Posts tagged Karl Kraus

Sprachkritik (im Sinne Krauses) #3: a message from the commissar

From the inside cover of this year’s I.R.S. Form 1040 forms & instructions booklet:

A Message from the Commissioner

Dear Taxpayer,

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. notably said Taxes are what we pay for civilized society. We should be proud that the vast majority of American citizens pay their taxes honestly and of their own free will. In an ever more complex and global world, we cannot take for granted this cornerstone principle of our democracy.

For the IRS’s part, we owe it to all taxpayers to make the process of paying taxes as easy as possible. IRS employees are dedicated to helping taxpayers to quickly get their questions answered, complete their forms, pay their taxes, and get back to their lives. From the telephone representative who answers tax law questions, to the walk-in site employees who help low-income taxpayers, to the technicians that design and build our website — www.irs.gov — we are committed to providing top quality service.

Unfortunately, there will always be some that cheat their fellow citizens by avoiding the payment of their fair share of taxes. The IRS owes it to the millions of you who promptly pay your taxes in fll to pursue these people through strong enforcement programs. I believe this is a basic matter of fairness.

If you need more information about taxes, I hope you’ll visit us online at www.irs.gov, or call us toll free at 1-800-829-1040. Your government works for you, so please do not hesitate to contact us if you need help.

Sincerely,
Douglas H. Shulman

See also:

Sprachkritik (im Sinne Krauses) #2

That’s all fine and good and I make no excuses whatsoever for Jefferson’s slavery issue. NONE. But what I didn’t see in that entire article was something about Jefferson’s general views on governance and commerce. I was hoping to see laws or views he supported/held that showed an anti-libertarian POV.

There, slavery aside, I see very little to nothing.

— John V., comment to Will Wilkinson at The Fly Bottle (2008-04-18)

Sprachkritik (im Sinne Krauses)

Outrage Fatigue

I, like Roderick Long, haven’t had much to say about the war on Iraq lately; Roderick chalks it up to outrage fatigue. I think that’s right, but I don’t think—as one might take Roderick’s post to imply—that it’s merely a matter of personal psychology. The issue itself is tired: in the presence of such callous and brutal disregard for the truth, for rational argument, for other people’s lives and livelihoods, or for basic human dignity, there is no commentary left; at most you can only point out what you already said, and anything else is just more talk. The moral, political, and human disaster is, at this point, something so searingly obvious that it can only be shown, not said.

The War Party has surpassed both calumny and satire; there’s nothing left to us but the methods of Karl Kraus: to simply repeat what is being said verbatim, without comment. Wovon man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muß man schweigen.

Who Has the Better Argument? We Report, You Decide.

One of the favorite satirical devices of Karl Kraus, an acerbic critic writing in the last days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was to simply print verbatim quotes from prominent Viennese figures, without any additional commentary. Sadly, the tactic has only become more necessary since the end of the Great War—particularly within the discursive world of televised debate.

(link thanks to Tom Tomorrow)

Hannity & Colmes: Debate on Impeaching Bush

While inspectors in Iraq continue searching for weapons of mass destruction, some Americans are outraged at the president that so far no weapons of mass destruction have been found. Our next guest thinks that’s grounds for impeachment.

We’re joined by the publisher of Harper’s magazine, John MacArthur, who’s with us. And the author of the best selling book, Treason, Ann Coulter is with us.

It’s not even really intellectually worth discussing. After reading your article, my first reaction is to bubble and fizz and get mad. My second reaction is this is beyond silly, you know, but you really believe this?

Why do you invite me to go on the show if you think it’s beyond discussion?

Because Alan wanted you on. That’s why.

OK. But clearly…

It wasn’t my first choice.

Clearly, if the president of the United States has lied on a grand scale to Congress…

Name me one lie. Name me one lie.

Let me finish.

If you’re going to call him a liar, back it up.

I will, yes. I’ll talk about what he said to Bush…Blair at the press conference on September 7 at Camp David. He said…he cited a non-existent report from the International Atomic Energy Agency, saying that Saddam was six months away from developing a nuclear weapon and infamously said, What more evidence do we need? And from there…

We don’t have time for a speech.

… we moved on to aluminum tubes. We moved on to connections with Al Qaeda.

Did you call…

We talked about an atomic bomb threat that did not exist. Sean, this didn’t exist. This didn’t exist.

This isn’t a speech time.

You need me to give you the facts.

I’ve got to ask you, did you call for the impeachment of Bill Clinton?

I wasn’t interested in the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

You weren’t interested? So you’re only interested in the impeachment of Republicans?

No, no, no, no. I mean, it’s…Listen, I can’t stand Bill Clinton.

Did Bill Clinton lie to the American people?

Yes.

Why do you have one standard for him and another standard for a Republican?

I have the same standard for both of them.

No, you don’t. Because you didn’t write an article asking for his impeachment.

Actually, what I’m trying to tell you is that if you, as Senator Graham put it a few months ago very intelligently, if you apply the same standard to Bush that was applied to Clinton, then it’s impeachable. He should be impeached. Absolutely.

Ann…

Because as Alexander Hamilton said in The Federalist Papers, this has to do with the immediate consequences and harm done to society. What could be greater harm than the deaths of American soldiers…

Excuse me. The immediate consequences…Sir, you have yet to…

… in Iraq, who have been sent to Iraq on a fraudulent pretext, utterly…

My patience is really running thin.

… and they’re dying.

Could you please be quiet, because there are other people on the panel?

OK. Sure.

The idea here, he cannot give a specific example.

I did give a specific example.

He’s full of crap.

I did give an example.

And this is just, hatred of George W. Bush now has become a sport for these guys.

Ann Coulter?

First of all, I agree with you. I hate to treat this seriously by responding, but the particular lie that he cited as his leading, case in chief of the president lying, yes, Bush cited something like the Atomic Energy Commission. He misspoke.

Right.

It was the International Institute for Strategic Studies or something. He misspoke about the name of the institute.

No, he didn’t. He didn’t.

It’s my turn now. You stop that.

OK.

Point two, as you know, I’m something of an authority on the grounds for impeachment. And this is precisely the sort of thing that impeachment is not for. I mean, it’s not for policy disagreements. It’s certainly not for something that is in the president’s prerogative, such as waging war, for example.

To take a decision that I think is appalling, but is not grounds for impeachment. Bill Clinton sending a small Cuban boy back to a Bolshevik monster in Cuba. That is not grounds for impeachment, because that is part of the president’s authority.

Ann…

You don’t impeach for disagreements over policy. It is for misbehavior; that is what misdemeanor means. It’s for bad decorum.

Ann, we didn’t let Rick make a speech. You can’t make a speech, either.

Well, actually, you did.

I know it’s hard, but if you look to your left, I know that’s difficult.

Look, I don’t think he should be impeached. I disagree with Rick about that.

That’s very big of you.

Thank you. I think I’d rather put our time and effort toward 2004, and just like I don’t think Bill Clinton should have been impeached, I don’t.

But I understand Rick’s point. There are many Americans who increasingly seem to feel that we were not leveled with, for whatever reason, whether it was Bush who did it or people in his administration who gave him false information.

He did say the IAEA reported that Iraq was six months away from a nuclear capability, which turned out not to be true. It’s a scare tactic.

He got the name of the institute wrong.

Saying I misspoke, and they said they misspoke about a number of things. Misspoke about uranium. They misspoke about tubes, misspoke about how many things.

Right.

Misspoke lets him off the hook?

No. Liberals don’t want to fight terrorism. You want there to be lots of 9/11’s.