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Klavan On The Culture

Monthly Archives: November 2011

New Video From GBTV

November 29th, 2011 - 7:00 am

Some of you may have finished eating, but it’s not too late to learn the history of Thanksgiving in my Very Serious Commentary video:

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Cut or Tax? Are You an Adult or a Child?

November 28th, 2011 - 5:00 am

credit: flickr.com/bbaunach

If, like the hero of Rafael Sabatini’s wonderful adventure novel Scaramouche, you were “born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad,” you no doubt guffawed as I did at the CBS News show 60 Minutes‘ reaction to the failure of the mis-named super-committee. Those twelve stout-hearted congressional heroes were assigned the task of cutting 1.2 trillion dollars out of a 44 trillion dollar deficit over the course of ten years — so minuscule a drop in so vast a bucket that it wouldn’t even have gone plink when it hit the bottom. And they couldn’t do it — couldn’t do even so little as that.

In the wake of such abject failure, 60 Minutes might have noted that President Obama — who has increased the debt more rapidly than any other president — showed precisely zero leadership during the committee negotiations. He demagogued the issue in public while leaving committee members without support or guidance behind the scenes. The news show might also have pointed out that committee Democrats rejected offers from Republicans that would have given them some of the increased tax revenue they so desperately crave.

But no, of course not. Instead 60 Minutes rushed into the fray with a profile of anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, whom “many” (translation:  the Democrats at CBS News) blame for scuttling the process. Well, for uproarious predictability and silliness, it was good for a spit-take anyway. As for the truth of the matter, the mighty Krauthammer has it here.

And look, I like to have fun as much as the next fellow, but our journalism can’t be all frivolity and games, ever delighting us anew with fresh examples of clownish buffoonery. Along with the delightful hijinks, there are some serious questions that ought to be asked.

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Where Are The Videos?

November 27th, 2011 - 8:47 am

Some folks have been writing me to ask:  Where are my videos?  I’ve been steadily turning them out for GBTV but there have been scheduling difficulties. Only four or five of the ten I’ve done have run—and only three of those are available outside the GBTV pay wall.  I hope they’ll run more soon.

Happy Thanksgiving

November 24th, 2011 - 7:00 am

I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving, but most especially, my prayers today are for those whose loved ones are deployed in foreign fields in service to this country.

I read the comments on this blog and see many people ready to despair at the state of the nation. I read some of the experts too and hear them predicting the end of the west. I think there is something wrong with this. I really do. No one knows the future. That’s why hope is one of three great virtues:  it’s a natural by-product of honest humility. We have been through very tough, even desperate, times before, some within my own memory, and we have always come through. That’s no guarantee we’ll come through again, but who said you get a guarantee?  The only real guarantee is that if you give up, you fail. As long as young men are willing to fight in the field, offering up their life’s blood for the things this country stands for, what right have any of the rest of us to throw up our hands? Let me answer that for you to save you some brainwork: We have no right at all.

I have a friend, an old Reagan hand, famed for his political optimism. He’s still predicting McCain will win the last election! Once, recently, in a worried moment, I said to him, “What do you think will happen?” He shrugged happily and said, “Good guys win.”

Let it be so. Let us make it so. Never surrender.

Happy Thanksgiving.

The Return of Me

November 23rd, 2011 - 7:00 am

For those of you interested in my crime fiction—or, indeed, in crime fiction in general—the new and wonderful MysteriousPress.com has just reissued a number of my old, often pseudonymous, out-of-print titles. There’s the John Wells series I wrote under the name Keith Peterson, which includes the Edgar Award winner, The Rain. There’s also The Animal Hour and Hunting Down Amanda which still hold up very well, if I say so myself. And there’s even a non-crime novel, Agnes Mallory, which was published in England to fine reviews but never found a publisher here in the U.S.. I think it’s well worth your time. Anyway, check out the site for the lost works of some of the field’s best practitioners.  And by me.  Here’s a promotional video by Open Road Media:

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Fighting for The Mainstream

November 21st, 2011 - 7:06 am

Another Objective Reporter for NBC News

I’ve just returned from the National Review cruise, seven days of listening to major conservative minds like PJ Media’s own Victor Davis Hanson, Mark Steyn, Jonah Goldbergh, Ramesh Ponnuru, Mona Charen, John O’Sullivan, Andrew McCarthy, John Yoo, and many others. Again and again, as we motored through the Caribbean, I was struck by the speakers’ quality of thought, their breadth of knowledge and depth of insight. And again and again, I found myself thinking, why doesn’t the world at large get to see these guys more often?

I love Fox News. Love Hannity, O’Reilly, the whole gang, not to mention Rush, Ann Coulter, and of course the guy who gives my videos a home, Glenn Beck. But if you don’t happen to be a conservative, if you’re the typical individual who doesn’t follow politics very closely but votes for the person who seems “fair” or “nice” or the one who doesn’t cheat on his wife or the one who looks presidential, the most popular conservative commentators can seem brash, loud, aggressive, and even mean.

Meanwhile, you’re probably getting your news from people whose approach to information is so one-sided as to be dishonest — people,I mean, like Brian Williams, George Stephanopolous, and Diane Sawyer. And yet they appear thoroughly presentable: polite, well-spoken — exuding elegance and good will even as they go about demonizing anyone they disagree with.

That’s why the sort of commentators who were on the NR cruise could be invaluable weapons in the information wars. It would, I think, be very difficult for anyone to accuse Mona Charen of being brash or aggressive, or anything but the gracious, thoughtful, well-spoken lady she obviously is. It would be pretty hard to peg the soft-spoken, professorial VDH with being loud or mean. So too with Goldberg, Ponnuru, McCarthy, and the others.

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Anchors Aweigh on the NRO Cruise

November 11th, 2011 - 7:00 am

All right, folks, I’m taking off for a week to join the National Review Online cruise where I’ll rub elbows with the conservative elite until complaints of elbow frottage lead to my being hurled overboard. By the time I get back, I will expect Rick Perry to have remembered what he was going to say; five more Cain accusers to have been debunked by Ann Coulter; France to have loaned money to Italy who will loan it to Greece so they can pay back France; Newt Gingrich to be the GOP front runner; and Barack Obama to have finished his new memoir, “Okay, So I Was Wrong!” For those of you who can’t get by without my movie and book reviews, they are, “Fair,” “Over-rated,” and “Ruined By Mindless Liberalism.” Apply where appropriate.

Until my return, don’t let any of it get you down.  Remember:  God doesn’t run for re-election.

A Brief Response to Various Comments

November 8th, 2011 - 10:35 am

One of the things I dislike about internet debates is that people argue with statements you didn’t make and then the debate continues around those arguments. Today, for instance, Dr. Helen—aka Glenn Reynolds’ Insta-wife—said of my Monday post on Herman Cain:  “What Klavan is advocating is political suicide. He might as well have taken his playbook from Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals where Alinsky’s fourth rule is ‘Make the enemy live up to their own book of rules. You can kill them with this…’” She goes on to cite an episode of the TV comedy Fresh Prince of Bel Air in which a candidate refuses to respond to low attacks and thus loses the election.

I respect Doc Helen tons professionally and like her very much personally and her remarks echo those of commenters that essentially assume I think Cain is guilty or shouldn’t fight back or that the remarks of his accusers should be taken at face value. (One fellow, to prove his point, accuses me of sexually harassing him and dares me to disprove it. On the contrary, it’s a night I’ll always remember fondly.)

But I neither say nor believe any of these things. I don’t know yet whether Cain is innocent or guilty. If he’s innocent, he should fight back like a lion. If anyone can fairly discredit his accusers, go to it. I always thought George W. Bush was far too gracious in his response to unfair attacks, and the republic was harmed because of it. And certainly no one can accuse me of suffering fools gladly myself.

But there’s a difference between allowing your opponents to hold you to their absurd re-creation of your standards and not living up to your standards yourself. Would we really ignore the homicidal sins of a right wing Ted Kennedy merely because he was right wing? Man, I hope not. It is precisely the folly of the left that they confuse their political positions with virtue and thus think themselves exempt from ordinary moral considerations. They riot, lie and even kill in the certainty that what they will achieve will be so wonderful as to justify them even in their foulness. I pointed to the foolishness of this point of view in my Monday post last week. I don’t now plan to adopt it in dealing with Cain or anyone.

Alinsky notwithstanding, we can’t live down to the standards of the left.  A  victory won on those terms is ultimately a defeat both for ourselves and the nation. Cain stands accused. The burden of proof is entirely on his accusers. But if they do make their case, I’m not going to change my values to save his neck.

Why We Should Be Unfair to Herman Cain

November 7th, 2011 - 7:03 am

"We're from the mainstream media and we're here to help."

Conservatives have been expressing genuine anguish at the recent treatment of Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain.

It isn’t fair, they say. In 1998, when Newsweek reporter Michael Isikoff got the full details of President Bill Clinton’s adulterous affair with a 21-year-old intern, the magazine killed the story, leaving the nascent new media, in the person of The Drudge Report, to bring it to light. In 2007, when John Edwards was still a viable Democratic presidential candidate, the National Enquirer broke the news of his illicit affair and illegitimate child, but the mainstream media actually covered it up, with one CNN journalist explaining it was “unimportant.”

And yet when the left wing news website Politico recently published anonymous allegations about 10-year-old sexual harassment complaints against Cain, the mainstream media lit up like a Christmas tree. For a week, the aforementioned CNN and the other left wing outlets went wall-to-wall with the charges. And now, with Sharon Bialek finally stepping forward to make more detailed accusations in person—accusations Cain wholly denies—we can be sure the story will remain explosive for some time to come.

Not only is the news coverage of alleged sexual misconduct different according to political affiliation, the consequences of actual misconduct are often quite different as well. Republican congressman Mark Foley sent suggestive emails to male pages; he resigned under GOP pressure. Democratic congressman Gerry Studds actually had sex with one of the boys, then flung defiance at the House when they censured him; he was re-elected by Democrats until his retirement.

And what if a drunken Republican senator had accidentally dropped a car containing his adultery mate into the water? What if he had sauntered back to his hotel to clean up while the poor woman desperately pounded on the car window until she drowned horribly? Would conservatives have re-elected that man? Would they have declared that man “The Lion of the Senate?” The very idea makes one ill. Conservatives would have demanded his arrest and trial with a single voice.

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About “The Daily”

November 4th, 2011 - 7:00 am

Well, I wanted to blog my thoughts this week about Rupert Murdoch’s iPad newspaper The Daily. Then news reached me that one of my publishers—Thomas Nelson, who’s been doing a terrific job bringing out my young adult fiction—is being acquired by News Corp.’s HarperCollins…  which means, I’ll now actually be working for Murdoch. So everything I say from this sentence on can be assumed to be an obsequious attempt to curry favor with the boss.

Nah, I’ll savage anyone—that’s just the kinda guy I am. And while all in all, I like The Daily, I do have some major complaints.

It was easy to decide to cancel my subscription to the Los Angeles Times and replace it with The Daily.  The Times had been running increasingly hilarious and desperate headlines on the order of, “Obama Heroically Defends Civilization Against Savage Child-Killing Republicans” as the O presidency continued its historic collapse. And for around forty bucks a year, an iPad newspaper sounded like a good deal—and to a large extent, it is.

So far, here’s what I love about The Daily (Mr. Murdoch, sir).  Love the beautiful hi-def photos. Love the gimmicks: 360 degree pictures, video, interactive screens. Love the sports coverage—one of the main reasons I take a second paper in the first place after the Wall Street Journal. Love the energetic tabloid-style writing. Especially love the New York Post level headlines:  ”No More Moammar;” “Rotten to the Corzine;” there’s a good one almost every day.

Here’s what doesn’t work. Murdoch’s media business model has been not—despite what his detractors say—to add conservative bias to his news outlets, but to eliminate liberal bias. That’s what makes libs so nuts about Fox News—it actually is fair and balanced. The most popular commentators there are conservative or libertarian, but there are plenty of liberal voices available and the first half hour of Bret Baer’s program is quite simply the fairest and least biased news delivery service on TV.

But The Daily seems to have slipped the Murdoch net. The liberal bias is not yet egregious but it’s edging that way. The coverage of the Herman Cain sex accusations has been shamefully one-sided (loved the “Squirmin’ Herman” headline, but still). And the anti-God bias is even worse. Virtually every mention of God or religion in the paper is snarky or even nasty. It’s off-putting—first, because there actually is a God and second, because, even if there weren’t, most of the audience believes there is and you ought to have respect for the people who pay for your product.  [I wrote this yesterday -- and this morning, there was a strong piece by Jen Floyd Engel defending Tebow's Christianity in almost the same terms I did here Wednesday, so good on her.]

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