In an email exchange with Ironbear earlier I mentioned the incomparable onetime blogger Billy Beck, who I used to correspond regularly with back in the day. We were like those “brothers from different mothers” i’ th’ adage: both of us working guitar-slingers, military aviation buffs, and RightwingNaziDeathbeast Hitlerbloggers with a penchant for expressing ourselves in a totally unrestrained and, shall we say, plainspoken fashion.
I somehow lost touch with Billy some years back, and find myself wondering now about where he might be and what he might be getting up to out there. Though some of the more staid blogosphere denizens in those days regarded him (and me, let’s face it) as way too offbeat, obnoxious, and extreme for civilized company (if not actually crazier than a shithouse rat), as it turns out, what Billy in fact was was a fucking prophet. It’s positively uncanny how many of the things he was sounding the alarm about years ago have come to pass, no matter how seemingly outlandish or outside the odds the prediction might have seemed at the time.
Unfortunately, his blog archives were long ago cast into the outer darkness and are now unavailable anywhere, near as I can make out. Despite this grievous loss, I’m sure almost all CF Lifers will be familiar with his best-known apophthegm: “All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war.” Bizarrely, and to Billy’s horror and disgust, that one was later hijacked for nefarious purposes by none other than a certain William J “Bill” Clinton:
Since inception, the line “All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war” has been listed on or near the mastheads of a number of politically-oriented websites, among them Sipsey Street Irregulars and Western Rifle Shooters Association, as well as a popular signature phrase in the posts of Usenet newsgroup participants at the time. (The quote was later cited in HL Goodall’s 2010 book, Counter-Narrative: How Progressive Academics Can Challenge Extremism and Promote Social Justice.)
Clinton’s mangle, in a speech to the Center for American Progress, April 6, 2010:
“…One of these guys the other day said that all politics is just a prelude to the ultimate and inevitable civil war. You know, I’m a southerner. I know what happened. We were still paying for that 100 years later when I was a kid growing up, in ways large and small. It doesn’t take many people to take something like that seriously. So I don’t want the whole story of this retrospective just to be about this, and trying to turn everything into politics….”
Naturally, Billy returned fire at The Creep with a characteristically eloquent, thunderous, yet laid-back salvo that was pure 180-proof Billy Beck™:
“Here is my conjecture: the ex-president either briefly eyeballed that blog himself, or accepted a memo from one of his flunkies which included the line that I wrote.
I have made up my mind that I would be no more interested in hearing his apology than I am offended by his presumption. It is simply a matter of note that The Lying Bastard of The Ozark Long March knows nothing of which he speaks, amid his insinuations that I advocate violence in this poor country’s current straits.
Here is a word for that despicable person: I am “a Southerner”, too, you strutting ignoramus. I was born in Little Rock, and my mother graduated Central High School six years before Eisenhower finally saw fit to roll out the National Guard. Don’t even try to hand me your threadbare sanctimony about “paying” for the Civil War. For many reasons which I will not attempt to relate to you, I am quite beyond your ex cathedra pose in the matter. You have nothing to say to me. Sit down and shut your insipid mouth.”—Billy Beck, April 21, 2010
Oof. I mean, just…OOF. Also: OUCH.
In casting about trying to locate other traces of his former online presence, I did manage to run across a few more good ‘uns, the first from another sorely-missed Dearly Departed colleague:
Billy Beck nails the auto industry “bailout”
“Things will start to get better when the last indignant buggy-whip maker is strangled with the entrails of the last commissar.”
– Billy Beck, 8 December 2008
Tasty stuff, no? And then there’s this, which is so dead-on descriptive of where we find ourselves today as to make the hair on the back of one’s neck stand straight up and salute:
I keep saying it: the basic conflict in American politics is individualism vs. collectivism in all its pretense forms and manifestation. I keep saying it because no arrangements of coalition electoral politics will address this fundamental schism: as the necessary economic implications become real, so-called ‘democracy’ becomes impotent to manage coalition demands, all while the force of ‘law’ becomes more arbitrary at coalition demand.
I’ve been saying it for at least fifteen years: “The pace of this thing is picking up.”
I hate to keep saying it, because I know it’s no fun to hear it and it just wears my narrow white ass out to keep-ass saying it, but the real problem under all this is fucking enormous.
I really don’t think it can be fixed before it really goes the way of the pear. We’re really in it. In our lifetimes.
Billy Beck, Two-Four – What Really Happened
A decade and more ago, Billy was an adept enough visionary to pierce the fog and discern the Big Issues clearly, when the rest of us silly kids still went around acting as if elections mattered.
Time was, stuff like the above sounded genuinely over the top and excessive to most people even on this side of the Great Divide. Now those placid days grow ever harder to recall, while the steady march of history goes about guaranteeing that Billy Beck’s wisdom and insight won’t be forgotten. As I said to ‘Bear: Poor Chicken Little is always laughed at as a nut and a hysteric by more sensible people. And then, one day, the sky comes crashing down on everybody.
Billy, wherever you are: my deepest respect and fondest regards to you, my friend. Hope you’re well.