The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Profiles in Narcissism: Charles Johnson Blinded by His Own Self-Righteousness

Posted on | April 7, 2012 | 84 Comments

Among the books I most often recommend are The Vision of the Anointed: Self-Congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy (Thomas Sowell, 1995) and The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations (Christopher Lasch, 1979). Thoughtful readers familiar with both books will understand how the phenomenon described by Sowell — liberals enacting disastrous social policies that serve mainly to make liberals feel good about themselves — is related to the narcissistic impulses described by Lasch.

In a society where traditional institutions of moral authority are decadent or discredited, individuals engage in self-righteous political gestures to demonstrate (to themselves, if to no one else) their own superior virtue. Liberal policies appeal to such impulses, e.g., Dick Durbin: “I may be a corrupt swine, but I drive a hybrid!” or Alec Baldwin: “I may be a vicious bully, but I’m all about a woman’s right to choose!

The politicization of morality is not a new phenomenon, but it has gained a new vehemence in recent decades as the traditional sources of moral authority — the church, the family, the local community, etc. — have declined in influence, and as bourgeois virtues (sobriety, chastity, industry, thrift, etc.) have been undermined by the counter-culture.

When people turn to politics seeking affirmation of their own virtue, the results are often disastrous for the people directly affected by the policies enacted. To cite just one example, the AIDS crisis of the 1980s spiraled out of control in part because liberals were unwilling to shut down the gay bathouses that profited by facilitating the anonymous promiscuity which spread the pandemic. (David Horowitz and Peter Collier include an amazing chapter on this in their 1989 book, Destructive Generation: Second Thoughts About the Sixties.) The AIDS issue became a moral crusade for liberals, who saw themselves defending the “rights” of an unpopular minority in a battle against oppression, as if the “right” to commercialized sodomy trumped legitimate public health concerns.

Controversies that involve race, even indirectly, have often been hijacked by this sort of liberal crusader mentality, as in the infamous Duke University lacrosse team “rape” scandal, where certainty of the guilt of the accused was a kind of moral litmus test. People who had nothing to do with Duke University, people who had never been within a hundred miles of Raleigh, N.C., nevertheless presumed to know that the lacrosse players were guilty and excoriated anyone who did not join them in denouncing the perpetrators of this alleged atrocity.

What you learn, if you observe this tendency long enough, is that the people who delight in pointing the accusatory finger — racist! sexist! homophobe! — are generally engaged in an exhibition of moral narcissism, trying to fill the “hole in their soul” with self-righteousness by gestures intended to prove their own superior virtue. Not only are they not racist (or not sexist, etc.), but they are anti-racist (or anti-whatever) and are courageously donning their shining armor and mounting their horses to lead a crusade against the Evil Menace.

Heroism on the cheap, as it were.

When the Trayvon Martin case became a national controversy, it was certain to attract swarms of such moralistic finger-pointers, demanding that everyone join them in Standing Up to Hatred, etc. I’ve had little to say about the case, but one thing I did say was this:

The first time I talked to anyone about the Trayvon Martin case, I cautioned against the urge to jump to conclusions based on media accounts.

The federal Justice Department was involved and a special investigation was underway, and there was no need to engage in furious debates over every detail of a case about which we had no direct knowledge, and in which we were not directly involved. Insofar as I have since commented on it at all, I’ve mainly called attention to the way people were making fools of themselves over the case. (Damn, how I wish Keith Olbermann were still on TV!) So in the wee hours this morning, when I noticed people on Twitter giving Dave Weigel grief over something written by John Derbyshire, my reaction was, “What the hell is this about?”

After investigating, I wrote a post:

While it is impossible to imagine any scenario in which Lowry won’t be forced to fire Derbyshire now, I’m actually more fascinated by the Left’s attempt to bully Weigel for failing to denounce Derbyshire in strong enough terms.

This is a familiar ritual, The Denunciation Derby, in which liberals demand that everyone compete for the Sweepstakes Prize offered for whoever can express the most indignant outrage against the target. It seemed obvious that Derbyshire was doomed, and there was no point even trying to defend him, but Weigel — who has never been accused of being a racist — was under attack for having blogged about Derbyshire with insufficient outrage.

National Review editor Rich Lowry tried to distance himself from Derbyshire — “needless to say”! — and I reacted to that this afternoon:

“Needless to say,” however, they don’t pay you the big bucks to waffle in times of crisis, Rich. Your executive authority must be exercised and, with this howling Internet lynch mob demanding Derbyshire’s scalp, you must either satisfy the mob or deal with the consequences.

While I was aggregating further reaction in updates, I was being stalked by a creepy Twitter troll. Pay careful attention to the sequence:




Charles Johnson is doing his “Race Detective” bit: He accuses me and Dan Riehl of being “the first to defend Derbyshire,” then he writes a blog post using Riehl’s name to connect the “racist” meme to And then — exhibiting a stunning lack of self-awareness — Johnson complains to Pam Spaulding that right-wingers “spend so much time & energy trying to smear & discredit me.”

Got it? Charles (a) writes a blog post to “smear and discredit” Dan Riehl and Dan’s employers, then (b) engages in psychological projection to claim that his enemies are doing to him what he is doing to them.

This kind of blame-shifting rationalization is typical of narcissistic personalities: Nothing is ever their fault. Whenever anything goes wrong, some scapegoat must be blamed for the failure.

You see why paranoia is so closely related to narcissism, in that the damaged ego, being unable to accept responsibility for failure, eventually exaggerates the evils of scapegoated enemies to the point where contact with reality is lost amid persecution fantasies of an all-powerful “them” conspiring against the grandiose self.

Grandiosity — the unrealistic inflation of personal significance — is necessary to the delusion: Why would all these powerful forces of evil be conspiring against an obscure nobody? The damaged ego must inflate the imagined power of scapegoated enemies in order to explain how the grandiose self has been thwarted.

During a three-year purge that began in 2008, Charles Johnson banned more than 15,000 commenters from Little Green Footballs, destroying his own traffic, alienating his friends and making himself the laughingstock of the blogosphere. The only person responsible for this was Charles Johnson, yet he continues to seek out “racists” and other scapegoats to blame for his self-destruction.

Good luck turning your paranoid delusions into a career, Charles.

Meanwhile, Lowry has fired Derbyshire, describing the offending column as “so outlandish it constitutes a kind of letter of resignation.”

This was exactly what I’d predicted in the wee hours when I commented on the “get Weigel” sideshow. How that amounted to me joining Dan Riehl as “first to defend Derbyshire” is perhaps something that Charles Johnson can try to explain when the nice men in white coats show up to take him to the Funny Farm.

Remember: Charles Johnson tried to destroy Pamela Geller by smearing her as a crypto-fascist. After I defended Geller, CJ tried to destroy me as a “white supremacist.” By now, CJ’s list of right-wing enemies is so long as to include just about everyone who ever voted Republican. But CJ’s crazy crusade was never really about the evil of his enemies — Geller, Robert Spencer, Diana West, Melanie Phillips, Geert Wilders, Michelle Malkin, Jim Hoft, Ace of Spades, Dan Riehl, et al., ad finitum — it was always all about Charles Johnson.

And it still is.

Happy Easter, everybody. Go hit Da Tech Guy’s tip jar.



UPDATE: Does anyone remember “Liberal Avenger,” a/k/a Sirkowski, a/k/a Sébastien Fréchette? If we can believe his own online bio — alas, he is a notorious and habitual liar — Fréchette is a 35-year-old illustrator specializing in (NSFW) “Loli” cartoons. NTTAWWT.

During his most notorious years weeks, Sirkowski/Fréchette/”Liberal Avenger” was best known for slinging hateful slurs at Republican women, including Condi Rice and Mary Cheney, as well as altering comments and other such stunts as sociopathic trolls do with their own blogs. (See, “Sirowski Watch.”)

Patterico had a go-round with “Liberal Avenger” back in the day. Sébastien still seems to have a problem with Republican women:

Some people’s political reactions are like a Rorshach inkblot test, inexorably exposing their inner freak. Sirkowski/Fréchette spent Saturday re-Tweeting Charles Johnson and then showed up in the comments on this post screeching about racists and fascists.

Sébastien: Go back to doing dirty drawings of girls, OK?

LGF is scraping the bottom of the barrel these days . . .



  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    So why does Marion Barry still have a job?  Check out the comment I copied from The Atlantic.  Amazing.  

    And Charles Johnson, fuck you too.  That guy must have been one of your few remaining Lizoids.  

  • SVT

    Johnson is clinical proof that obsessive mental masturbation causes insanity – and he probably has hairy palms as well.

  • MrPaulRevere

    Great post Stacy. Anything you or Riehl had to say about Derbyshire would be considered racist by default by that lunatic; verdict first, trial later. At best he’s a shallow buffoon, at worst a candidate for a straightjacket. 

  • Arthur Fufkin

    Charles still has a blog? I thought he died in 2010

  • ThePaganTemple

    I would just ignore him. I think the main reason he attacks you and Dan Riehl, among others is he knows you’ll respond, and get him more attention. He’s nothing but a little gerbil crawling around up inside the collective leftist asshole, only in his case he crawled up there of his own volition.

  • Sirkowski

    Right, Derbyshire writes a disgustingly racist rant and you’re the victim.

    Geller, Robert Spencer, Diana West, Melanie Phillips, Geert Wilders, Michelle Malkin, Jim Hoft, Ace of Spades, Dan Riehl…

    All these people are indeed racist and/or fascists.   Geert Wilders
    is a known white supremacist. And in the case of Pamela Geller, certifiably insane. (probably schizoid personality disorder)

    What’s the saying? When you sleep with dogs you wake up with fleas? But you wouldn’t know that, Bob. Because in this analogy, you’re the flea bag.

  • Garym

    That should be “little coke covered gerbil”. I think that clown is heavily into drugs.

  • AnitaPiece

    Oh dear, someone’s off her meds.  It’s amazing, everyone she doesn’t like is raaaaacist, and some are even mentally ill. 

    hooo kay, Sirkowski, you’re right. Everyone’s a raaaaacist.  Everyone.  Except you.  And Chuckles.  That’s ok, it’s all right.  Calm down, you’re fine. Just take this little pill and you’ll feel better.  Shhhhhh.

  • Garym

    I don’t agree with you, so you must be a RAAAAACIST! Fucking leftists. They pigeon hole themselves into different niches, so automatically if you are conservative you must be a raaaaacist. Go away commie.

  • Trippin60

    This is a coordinated effort by the left to distract from what’s important. They use these tactics to draw your attention from the Unemployment, the economy, gas prices, and the other issues that are effecting Obama’s poll numbers.  Don’t allow them to distract you. FOCUS!!

  • sybilll

    Oh good grief.  I’m certain that Charles was the model for a vagina that some feminazi knitted and mailed to the RNC to protest the “war on women”.  Only problem was there was no sand in that knitted vagina, but Charles’ certainly does. 

  • JeffS

     He does bring new meaning to the phrase, “self made man”.

  • robertstacymccain

    Idiot: Johnson’s playing silly guilt-by-association games — using Riehl as a stick with which to beat Breitbart’s corpse — and all you can think about is RAAAAACISM!

    Where are the victims? Who has been victimized by the racism/fascism of Spencer, West, Phillips, et al., you twisted Canadian freak?

    It doesn’t matter to you whether there is any basis to your malicious slanders. You’re just enjoying a warm bath in your own self-righteousness.

    Why don’t you go back to hurling slurs at Condi Rice and stop bothering the grown-ups?

  • Shelleys Playtime

     ? I’m a fascist racist and I’m proud
    I use to feel alone in a crowd
    but now you look around these days
    and it seems there’s a fascist racist CRAZE

    I’m a racist, he’s a racist, she’s a racist, we’re a racist
    wouldn’t you like to be a racist too?

    be a racist, be a fascist racist, come on?…

  • Adjoran

    It’s a classic tale of addiction leading to a man’s fall.  At one time, LGF was a fixture in the top 50 blogs in the world, many weeks cracking the top 20.  But CJ threw it all away.  Now he’s around #92,500 on the Alexa rankings – really.

    Who knows when or why he took that first sniff of his own bicycle seat?  Maybe he was inside, admiring his behind filling the Lycra shorts in a mirror, and decided to try it for a cheap thrill.  Perhaps he was on a break on a coastal highway ride with no one coming either way for miles – who would ever know?

    But soon it became more than an occasional quick whiff.  Charles NEEDED it.  He made excuses to be alone with his bike.  He began eating more legumes and vegetables.  When locking his bike in public, instead of the wheel, he took the seat with him.

    Eventually he spiraled down to where we now find him, blithering insane accusations against anyone who will listen, his once almost normal brain reduced to a cluster of festering lesions, his one-time horde of lizardoids reduced to a few dozen pathetic dehydrated salamanders frantically sniffing the air for a trace of their King.

  • Adjoran

     He’s a tranny from the kinky trade circuit. 

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  • ThePaganTemple

    I don’t think he ever was what he claimed to be. He was just a cynical opportunist riding the wave of what he saw as anti-Islamic hysteria, and rode it for all it was worth.

    Then his more natural leanings started clawing at him from the inside, which would have been right about the time he realized he had ridden the wave for all it was worth. He never caught on that the wave was not what he thought it would be. In fact, he never really understood it to begin with. And once he decided to go back to his true leanings, he focused on obvious targets like Pamela Gellar and Robert Spencer, Wilders, etc., as examples of what he claimed were the “fascist Right” as a way to excuse his seemingly abrupt “change”, while claiming the conservative movement was at its core inherently racist, Islamaphobic, and every other ill swimming around his head he could project on conservatives.

    And once the downward spiral began there was no stopping him. He only accelerated his descent, and as people like RSM and Dan Riehl stand around and watch the slide and point and laugh, his only response now, all he can do, is reach out and try to drag them down to the gutter with him.

    The best thing now about Charles Johnson and Little Green Footballs is that his turning himself into the sad little joke of the blogosphere is the only thing keeping him in the top 100,000-though barely-of those Alexa rankings.

  • Adobe_Walls

    I reccomend she take the whole bottle.

  • AnitaPiece

    Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize. I denounce my obvious anti-trannyness. My bad. I shall now retire to my basement to flog myself.

  • AnitaPiece

    Only his brain died.  The rest of him carries on, zombie-like, writing feverishly about how racists are everywhere, EVERYWHERE, MAN!

    Like, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a raaaaacist. They’re all over the place..they’re crawling on me, OH GOD, PLEASE GET THEM OFF ME! They’re under my bed, sitting on the back of my bike when I ride,……..

    They STARE at me when I go to Whole Foods.  STARE, man.  Don’t you get it??? I HAVE to let people know about this.  Every day I phone the FBI, the cops, the lady at the library down the street, my mommy.

    We’re in danger of being over-run by RAAAAACISTS! *pant*, *drool* I’m the only thing standing between Barack Obama and the raaaaacist hordes.  THE ONLY THING! *pant* *sob*.  I’m just so tired, man……

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  • robertstacymccain

    My own theory is a bit more — dare I say — nuanced.

    1. In 2001, Charles Johnson was a middle-aged man with no definite political ideology and with no real knowledge or experience in politics.
    2. “9/11 changed everything” — When LGF became a clearinghouse for War on Terror news, suddenly Johnson was plunged overnight into a world where support for the Bush administration was axiomatic. But Charles knew nothing more about conservatism, as a political philosophy, than he gathered from following the stories on the news.
    3. Success! — In 2004, LGF played a key role in one of the biggest stories of the campaign, the “RatherGate” scandal, and suddenly Charles was a VIP. He was a founding partner of Pajamas Media, he was hanging out with Victor Davis Hanson, etc. Circa 2005-06, he was at the pinnacle of his influence.
    4. Failure — New competition emerged. In 2005, Red State was launched, focusing on the more political side of news: Elections, campaigns, legislation, etc. In 2006, Michelle Malkin created Hot Air, an instant success, with lots of video and a member-registration commenting system that was “sticky” in much the way LGF’s own commenting system was sticky. Traffic at LGF did not immediately suffer, but it ceased its period of explosive growth.
    5. Scapegoating — In 2007, there was the unexplained report that Charles had left PJM. Later that year, Charles began his war against Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer. These former allies were succeeding, while Charles was failing, and when he saw an excuse to undermine them — to attempt to re-assert his influence as an arbiter of How to Fight the War on Terror — he jumped on it.
    6. Escalation — Johnson began doubling down on his attacks, trying to ostracize and isolate his chosen enemies, to prove his own continued relevance in a purely negative sense. The escalation phase continued through 2008 into 2009 — he threatened Malkin, he slammed Ann Coulter, and so forth. The populist grassroots resistance to Obama was incomprehensible to him, and CJ formulated the idea that there was some kind of ideological sympathy between “Euro-fascists” and Obama’s American opponents: RAAAAACISM! By the time he attacked me (while I was covering the 9/12 March on DC), this idea had already hardened in his mind.
    7. Collapse — The failure of his attempt to purge me was the obvious breaking point for CJ’s effort to regain his status as a VIP among bloggers on the Right. Within a few weeks, he published his “Parting Ways” post, which named me TWICE as a reason for this departure, demonstrating not my tremendous influence, but rather how large I loomed in Charles’s mind as a symbol of his problems. This showed that his “reasons” were actually excuses or rationalizations.

    The problem was never really political, but personal — the frustration of disappointed ambition — and his current effort to re-invent LGF as a sort of dime-store imitation of Daily Kos will obviously never succeed. As a weapon of personal vengeance against erstwhile allies, however, it serves a purpose.

    We could easily ignore LGF now, but he decided yesterday to “get in my face” on Twitter, and so I said to myself, if Charles wants attention, let’s give it to him: Fifteen hundred words. It’s useful, at least, as an object lesson in the psychological dimensions of politics.

  • richard mcenroe

    Charles is a model of moral purity.

    He looked to make big bucks off his conservative pose back when he was one of the founders of Pajamas Media.

    After he was involved in cheating Dennis the Peasant out of his participation, he was pushed out of PJM by Roger Simon and the VC investors.

    And suddenly rediscovered his progressive moral roots.

    That said, Stacy, many people who draw durty pitchers of girls are not drooling barking lefties.

    Also, MANY of the guys who look at the durty pitchers aren’t either.  Studies have found that conservatives look at more porn than lefties, who have been shamed out of their testicles.  Why do you think so many lefties have so much repressed anger and resentment toward women.

  • ThePaganTemple

     Stick to your cartoons, oh Dickless Wonder. Leave politics and other important issues to the non-maladjusted.

  • ThePaganTemple

    I’ll defer to your far greater knowledge of the man and the subject matter. I guess sudden, unexpected reversals in fortune will do that to some people, especially when they’ve convinced themselves they’re infallible and never take the possibility of failure into account. I wonder how much of his problems are financial? Perhaps he overextended his credit before the bubble burst. 

  • ThePaganTemple

    Happy Easter, by the way.

  • A Guy From Lithia Springs

    Let me get this straight………a representative of a movement that appears to accept little or no accountability demands absolute accountability from others?   Please explain.   What a show.  

  • Adobe_Walls

    A few lessons about the psychotic as well.

  • Adobe_Walls

    Who and what the hell are you babbling about?

  • ThePaganTemple

     Who’s your half-wit President accountable to, besides China?

  • Charles Johnson

    I was in my bunk.  What were you saying about me now RSM?  

  • Charles Johnson

    Just my integrity.  But that was before 2010.  

  • Charles Johnson

    There you go again wingnut!  Going into people’s bedrooms and prying into their lives.  What I do to satisfy myself is no business of yours.  

  • AnitaPiece

    It IS the gerbil’s business though. Think of him. Animal abuser. You and Richard Gere. I’m appalled.

  • AnitaPiece

    Nothing Chuckles, no one’s saying anything. 

    Are you hearing those awful voices again? I guess we’re going to have to adjust your dosage again.  sigh.

  • Dianna Deeley

     Not even to China, it seems. Though he does want Vladimir Putin to know he’ll be more “flexible” after the rubes vote him back in.


  • Dianna Deeley

     He doesn’t know. I think it’s a macro, he just pastes it in the comments section.

  • ThePaganTemple

    It’s not that Charles uses gerbils, he IS the gerbil.

  • ThePaganTemple

    It’s not that Charles uses gerbils, he IS the gerbil.

  • ThePaganTemple

     Everything he does is to the benefit of China, from giving them a monopoly in metals to helping Brazil develop their oil resources, then backing off when they decide to sell that same oil to China. Then there’s Keystone, which he refused to support, which means all that oil that would be sold to us will instead be sold to China. On and on it goes, and what do we get out of it? Nothing, unless maybe its so China will agree to finance more of our debt, which still benefits them in the long run, long after he’s gone. But it will help him in the short term keep leftist gasbags like Lithium Springs happy.

  • DaveO

    I’m reminded of the perpetrators of the Salem Witch Trials. And of the Inquisition.

    G-d said something about being a false witness – knowingly accusing an innocent person of a crime.

  • robertstacymccain

    I don’t think most readers understand the significance o0f the commenter’s geographical identifier: I am also a guy from Lithia Springs, a 1977 graduate of LSHS.

  • robertstacymccain

    Perhaps he overextended his credit before the bubble burst.

    Probably not a bad guess. He cashed out at PJM in 2007, right before the housing bubble began its irreversible collapse, and California was one of the five states hardest hit. So if he sunk his gains into a house in 2007, he bought at the top of the market and has probably been “underwater” for more than three years.

  • DaveO


    Who wrote the certificate certifying Pamela Gellar is insane? Have you read the certificate? What is the doctor’s degree in? How is you’ve read a certificate of Gellar’s mental state, and no one here has ever seen Obama’s grades in school? 

    Have you read anything, unedited, that Robert Spencer wrote?

    How is Michelle Malkin racist? Both Jesse and the Rev Al have stated emphatically that it is impossible for a non-Caucasian to be racist. How many people does MM employ? And Jesse (that he doesn’t impregnate, to be fair), or Rev Al? Which of these persons of non-Caucasianity have the most diverse work force? Family?

    C’mon – I know you can click that mouse! Do it. Prove to us you can do research!

    Jim Hoft, Ace, Dan Riehl… my my my – certainly a Rogue’s Gallery of… estimable conservative bloggers who’ve got a record on what they think and on what principles they stand upon.

    Can you answer any of these questions and back up your assertions?

    Here are some questions you can answer:

    Derbyshire wrote that his is the White version of “The Talk” that black mothers give to their children.

    What, exactly, are the contents of that “Talk?”

    Are black mothers indoctrinating their children with racial animus?

  • DaveO

    OMG too funny! Glad I set down my coffee!

  • ThePaganTemple

     Well, that too, but I was talking about before LGF went into its reversal. It probably cost him a lot of ad revenue. I’m guessing he wouldn’t get near as much for an ad there now as he would when LGF was in its heyday.

     I guess though that wouldn’t be a bubble bursting suddenly, more like a fast leak.

  • robertstacymccain

    Studies have found that conservatives look at more porn than lefties

    1. I am generally dubious of “studies” like that.

    2. If the phenomenon you describe is real (which I consider only as a hypothesis), the explanation is probably a function of demographics, i.e., the gender gap or perhaps the age differential or something like that.

    3. You can’t spell liberal without L-I-E. So it is possible that liberals are simply more dishonest in answering survey questions.

  • Adjoran


    It was probably originally written for threads on NBC firing their phantom editor, but A Gay From Lithia Springs either got his topics mixed up or forgot what he had copied to paste.