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Klavan On The Culture

America in Retreat

December 7th, 2014 - 9:14 am

“Little minds think great thoughts,” a wise man once wrote, “but great minds proceed in the smallest stages.” Oh wait, that wasn’t a wise man, that was me (in the novel The Uncanny) — but even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Increasingly, I find myself noticing the fact that the very best thinkers and writers on the political right — who are the best thinkers and writers in the political sphere (it’s not even close) —  get less immediate attention than the blusterers and bloviaters on both sides. Big Ideas that almost always turn out to be untrue, paranoia and hysteria sell books and bring in ratings, while close observation, fact gathering, skepticism and calm common sense tend to be less commercial. As a result, there’s a pressure on thinkers to start screaming “Fire!” at every new development. It’ll get you interviewed and help you peddle whatever your wares are. (On the left, of course, screaming “Fire!” is known as talking.)

Over time, however, cool, skeptical wisdom often does rise to the top. Charles Krauthammer is an excellent example. His recent book (which I’m reading now and which is lovely) eschews hysteria and self-certainty, but sold a bundle. PJM’s own Andrew C. McCarthy, who has become one of my go-to’s for sharp, informed but measured observation of the political scene, has been discovered by Megyn Kelley and will continue to gain readers.

And then there’s the increasingly remarkable Bret Stephens.

Stephens is the Pulitzer winning foreign policy columnist for the Wall Street Journal. His new book America in Retreat: The New Isolationism and the Coming Global Disorder is a wise, measured, hugely intelligent and vastly well informed look at where our foreign policy is and where it should go. (You will note the rather hysterical sub-title. The publisher slapped one of those on McCarthy’s last book too. They know where their bread is buttered, but once you get between the covers with the writer, things settle down.)

Stephens does not engage in anti-left name calling (anyone who wants to indulge in that low and degraded business can simply watch one of my videos!), he doesn’t demonize the current president, or his editorialist colleagues on the other side — he simply, quietly and factually vivisects them by quoting their words, outlining their actions and pointing to the results:

The evidence of where the Obama administration’s foreign policy has led is becoming difficult to ignore. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine; China’s aggressive maritime claims against Japan and the Philippines; Iran’s confident march to nuclear capability; North Korea’s nuclear tests; the unfolding chaos in Iraq; the calamity in Syria. Averting one’s eyes, keeping our hands clean, staying out, remaining in a supine position, is not a foreign policy option for the United States.

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Gamergate And My Shirt

December 5th, 2014 - 10:45 am

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I released a video this week in support of #Gamergate — the left’s corrupt attempt to game gaming journalism — and I was interested to hear from a lot of my fellow gamers who said, “No, no, we’re not conservatives like you. We just don’t like authoritarians.” Well, guess what, friends? All the authoritarians are on the left. All of them. The liberals and libertarians are mostly on the right.

I know a lot of gamers consider themselves lefties. But maybe they’re not paying enough attention. They’re like comedian Chris Rock. The other day Rock said he didn’t play college campuses anymore because they’d become too “conservative,” and wouldn’t let him make politically sensitive jokes. Guess what again? That’s not conservatism. Conservatives will let you make any jokes you want. They may not come to your show, but they won’t chase you away either. It’s the left, not the right, that Rock is having trouble with.

Which brings me to the shirt… which I’m wearing in the vid…  and which really highlights my lovely eyes by the way.  This, of course, is the shirt worn by Dr. Matt Taylor in an interview after he helped land a spacecraft on a comet in a triumph for mankind. He was bullied into an apology by a bunch of squealing feminist harridans, who had not just landed a spacecraft on a comet or done anything else for mankind, or womankind, ever. They didn’t like the pictures of babes in leather on the shirt. Sad panda.

PJM’s own Roger Kimball, who in his spare time runs and edits the best high culture journal in America, The New Criterion, has a lot to say about the shirt in this quarter’s issue :

The case of Dr. Taylor’s shirt may seem like little more than a bad joke. In fact, it is something more sinister. It is a vivid example of what happens when a self-enfranchised politically correct cadre sets about quashing freedom and eccentricity in the name of an always-evolving sensitivity. The goal, as one wag put it, is a testosterone-free society in which everything that is not mandatory is prohibited.

You can read the whole thing here.

Related: See also “Why the #GamerGate Story Is So Boring


December 3rd, 2014 - 11:23 am

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Man, I wanted to like this movie. And I didn’t dislike it exactly. There was plenty of talent in it. Great premise, great acting all around. And the look of the thing is wonderful. It isn’t often you see Los Angeles captured without romance, just the real feeling of it. It’s a fun film to watch for that alone.

The idea is that a sociopath becomes a stringer cameraman for local TV news. The excellent Jake Gyllenhaal plays the guy who builds a business out of selling blood soaked crime and accident footage to Rene Russo‘s if-it-bleeds-it-leads morning show. Gyllenhaal’s character is a soulless lunatic stoked on internet self-help advice. Which makes for some funny and more or less incisive commentary on local news sensibility in a corporate age.

But after the first act, it just all got a bit repetitive for me. If your lead mugs a man for his watch in the first scene, we pretty much know what he is — and he never changes, just gets to be more and more of the same. That may be commentary, but it’s not actually a story. The real story, I thought, was what happens to Rene Russo, how she goes from trying to do her job to being sucked into the sociopath’s imagined reality. That story, unfortunately, ended up on the cutting room floor.

That said, it’s not boring, and there’s plenty to watch and think about. I disliked it more for failing to be what it could have been than for being what it was. Too bad though: it could’ve been terrific.

The picture gets a 95/87 on Rotten Tomatoes, so obviously a lot of people felt differently. I’d love to hear comments from anyone who disagrees.

Please Don’t Take Away My Oppression!

November 30th, 2014 - 11:57 am

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As one egregious incident of racial oppression after another turns out to be imaginary — the Duke lacrosse players didn’t rape Crystal Magnum, George Zimmerman didn’t murder Trayvon Martin, Darren Wilson didn’t murder Michael Brown — the purveyors of the racism narrative are getting desperate. The facts may be wrong, they seem to be saying ala Newsweek‘s Evan Thomas, but the narrative remains right! It’s all about the white privilege, explains one group of Big Thinkers. You don’t need racists to have racism says another. It’s all about the micro-aggression says yet another.

You can almost hear them begging:  ”Please don’t take our oppression away! It’s all we have!”

Well, quite. America is the least racist multi-cultural society since the Roman empire. There’s really never been anywhere on earth where so many different peoples live together so well. The trouble that besets us is not white against black, and it’s not black against white either. It’s the left against liberty.

Leftism — by which I mean the end of liberty through forced “equality” — by which I mean the absolute power of a ruling class over the unwashed many — by which I mean tyranny — by which I mean leftism — uses race as a ploy, uses the poor as pawns, uses violence as a means, but has only one purpose: power; the power of the elite few.  As valid excuses to exercise that power (slavery and segregation) fall away, it creates false excuses (Duke, Trayvon, Ferguson). When the false excuses are exposed, it creates make-believe injustices (white privilege, micro-aggression). When the make-believe is laughed off, it seizes the next moment of high tension to spew lies, gin up emotion, and engineer violence. Then, in the aftermath of the wholly unnecessary turmoil, rage and destruction, we’re all supposed to wearily agree:  ”Something must be done.”

The only thing that needs to be done is to boot the leftists out of power and off TV.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

November 26th, 2014 - 6:00 am

And now some lessons in history and some words of wisdom from the redoubtable Ben Shapiro. An excellent video on an excellent holiday. Enjoy them both!

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May the Englishman’s God bless you all!

CBS: The Corrupt Broadcasting System

November 23rd, 2014 - 11:45 am

There are very few things that are actually as dishonest, wicked and corrupt as conservatives think they are. But CBS News is one of them.

I’ve just finished reading Sharyl Atkisson’s book Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington. It’s an excellent book by a terrific and non-partisan investigative reporter who was as hard on the Bush administration as she tried to be on Obama. Every thinking person, left and right, should read what she has to say about the news business in general and CBS News in particular.

Much of the reporting about the book has been centered on the government’s  intrusion into Attkisson’s life and work: their apparent attempts to stop her investigations by stealing and erasing her computer files, bugging her through her phones, harassing network executives and starting whisper campaigns against her character. News venues have either reported these appalling abuses of power or have tried to discredit Attkisson with personal slanders — including the charge that she might be, gasp, conservative (which, by the way, my sources say she’s not). I don’t know Attkisson personally but I’m familar with her work. I’d believe her long before I’d believe the people trying to smear her.

But to me, who already knows that government is always and everywhere the single greatest threat to a nation’s freedom, the most shocking sections of the book are not those exposing the thugs of the Obama administration, they’re the sections where Attkisson discusses the cowardice, stupidity and ideological corruption of CBS News. And in this regard, I have no doubt that CBS stands in for all three network news operations.

Attkisson details how the network repeatedly obstructed and killed her reports about Fast and Furious, Benghazi, misuse of Green Energy funds and any other story that might reflect badly on the Obama administration in particular or big government in general. Bias to the point of dishonesty and corruption, plus incestuous media-Washington relations — including the fact that Obama advisor Ben Rhodes is the brother of CBS News President David Rhodes — led the network to distort, lie, cover up and silence stories that might be damaging to the Washington leftists who represented their points of view.

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More On Conservative Culture

November 21st, 2014 - 10:52 am

And while we’re talking about conservatives and the culture, here’s Bill Whittle and I talking about…  well, conservatives and the culture!

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Dark Hearts:  The Secret of Haunting Melissa, should be available for download from the iTunes store this Thursday, the 20th, tomorrow as I write. This is the sequel to the innovative ghost story in an iOS app, created by Neal Edelstein and scripted by me. I haven’t seen the whole thing yet, but I’ve seen a lot of it and I can say without reservation that it looks absolutely terrific. Neal did a fabulous job with the material and so did the cast from the beautiful Kassia Warshawski — Melissa — on down.

Take a look at the trailer below, then get the app. It’s free though there are in-app purchases. If you have an Android…  dude, buy an iPhone.

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Actress, writer and Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Lena Dunham is the Barack Obama of Hollywood: a mediocrity elevated to icon status because she plausibly represents false ideas that make the left feel virtuous. In Obama’s case, the ideas are about the virtues of wealth redistribution and American non-exceptionalism. With Dunham, the ideas are about sex and feminism. Like Obama, Dunham is not very good at what she does but it doesn’t matter because she does what the left needs her to do so they support her.

The recent season finale of Dunham’s HBO show Girls garnered under 700,000 viewers which, by television standards, is essentially none. And yet if you read articles about her, you’ll find the show repeatedly described as a hit. Why do people describe it as a hit? Because even though it’s not watched by a lot of people, it’s watched by the right people. Who are the right people? The people who describe the show as a hit. There’s a reason this is called the Echo Chamber.

Recently, my friends at Ben Shapiro’s website Truth Revolt did for Miss Dunham what the economy and ISIS have done for Obama. They introduced her to non-leftism, also known as reality. They quoted sections from her recent autobiography Not That Kind of Girl under the descriptive headline “Lena Dunham Describes Sexually Abusing Her Little Sister.” Miss Dunham threatened to sue the site for quoting her verbatim! Then she canceled parts of her book tour. Then she went on a “rage spiral.” Then she jumped up and down three times and went through the floor like Rumpelstiltskin. Okay, that last part is a joke — but only just.

But the point is that the folks at Truth Revolt have recognized the revolting truth: liberty lovers need a cultural echo chamber of our own. It’s not enough to have talented artists and good works. We need a cultural infrastructure building up the good and tearing down the bad and bringing our view of culture to the forefront of the public’s attention. We haven’t got that infrastructure in place yet, but we’re getting there, as the TR-Dunham duke out shows.

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November 9th, 2014 - 9:21 am

I’m heading off this week to the David Horowitz Restoration Weekend in Florida and will try to blog from there on what I hear and learn. Meanwhile, here’s Bill and I chatting on PJTV about the value and danger of cynicism:

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