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Ed Driscoll

‘Aaron Sorkin’s Misguided Assault on the Media’

December 16th, 2014 - 3:04 pm

Actually only the first three words of Ed Morrissey headline at The Week are really necessary when it comes to anything involving the pedantic Hollywood archleftist. As Ed writes, “The famed screenwriter is unhappy that news outlets are publishing emails leaked by hackers. But that’s what the media do:”

Sorkin, for his part, argued that the leaked material had no real news value, unlike the leaks from the Edward Snowden cache or the Pentagon Papers. Sony isn’t a government or Enron, he pointed out, but a movie studio, and nothing of what was stolen and published had any social or cultural value, appealing only to the prurient and the nosy.

In this, Sorkin landed a clean punch — but perhaps he was too much on target. His essay could easily be taken for an argument against the existence of Variety altogether. After all, Variety doesn’t cover governments or the Enrons of the world. What exactly is Variety supposed to cover, if not news about the studios and celebrities, the appetite for which can be best described as prurience and nosiness?

For that matter, the entertainment industry hardly rises to Sorkin’s stated standards, despite his best efforts. He fulminated about a NATO-type treaty among studios and unions to lobby Congress for some kind of action to defend against an attack on “one of America’s largest exports.” Sony Entertainment is a subsidiary of the Japanese corporation, of course, so it’s not exactly an American export. And if the American film industry as a whole is so important that it requires Congress to protect it, then suddenly we’re back to grounds that it is newsworthy, and that Variety and other media outlets are correct to exercise scrutiny whenever possible.

There is also a hint of double standards in Sorkin’s outrage. If the Rudin-Pascal email exchange had taken place at another corporation — say, Walmart or Koch Industries — would Sorkin have objected to a hack that exposed it, and media coverage about the exchange? Or would it have been just great journalism, as long as it didn’t gore Sorkin’s own ox?

Consider this: The IRS leaked confidential financial information about the National Organization for Marriage before the 2012 election, after which it ended up in the hands of its opponents, Human Rights Watch. It then got disseminated to media outlets, which published the data and damaged the conservative group’s operations during a political campaign. A similar leak struck the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, whose financial records also got published by a liberal outlet before the 2012 election.

On a public policy basis, as well as on the affront-to-American-values scale, those infractions should rank a little higher than the Sony hack. Yet Sorkin didn’t seem bothered by reporters following up on those leaks. Or perhaps I missed Sorkin’s call for Congress to take action against the IRS and its targeting of private conservative organizations.

Note that Sony’s op-ed ran in the New York Times, which published the Pentagon Papers during the Nixon era, but famously did everything it could to bury the Climategate scandal in November of 2009, as Alana Goodman wrote at Commentary:

Some may argue that it’s unfair to criticize [New York Times’ ‘environmental’ ‘reporter’ Andrew Revkin] for his private comments, and point out that none of these emails on its own could be characterized as an egregious ethical lapse. Maybe. But combined, they point to a pattern. There’s also this: Revkin was the same Times reporter who refused to publish the first trove of ClimateGate emails in 2009, claiming they were off-limits because they were “private” conversations (a standard the paper evidently hasn’t applied to other leaked documents). He also dismissed the scandal as meritless.

As one of the leading national environmental reporters, Revkin had a huge amount of influence over whether the ClimateGate controversy went anywhere. He ended up doing all he could to snuff it out. Should the fact that he wasn’t just involved in the emails, but also seemed to portray himself as an ideological ally to the scientists, raise ethical questions about the Times’ coverage of the first ClimateGate? I’d say so. And maybe Revkin’s departure from the news section one month after the emails leaked in 2009 means that, internally, the Times thought so as well.

As I wrote in November of 2009, Revkin’s motto back then seemed to be “All the News That’s Fit to Bury:”

Seeing as they each impact key pillars of what today passes for liberalism, there seems to be more than a few connections between the recent ACORN stings by Giles, O’Keefe and Breitbart, and the recent hacking of the emails of the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit, or “Global WarmingGate”, as Charlie Martin dubs it elsewhere at Pajamas. Not the least is that they each sent the legacy media into full gatekeeper mode, hoping to prevent exciting, important news of current events from ever reaching their readers. Or perhaps, like the scandal last year involving John Edwards, sitting on the stories for so long, while making claims that they have to endlessly research them to verify their authenticity — Keep rockin’! — that when the legacy media decides to go “public” with news that everyone already knows, they can dramatically dilute the ultimate impact of these stories.

And then the Times went on to ask its readers to crowdsource any revelations in Sarah Palin’s emails, confirming its biases, and what news the admittedly leftwing paper deems fit to print.

Related: While Sony’s Amy Pascal, who previously banished Mel Gibson to industry Siberia for his drunken anti-Semitic rants rushes to Al Sharpton in an effort to save her job (see also: Imus, Don), don’t miss the New York Post on Scott Rudin, her co chair, “The man known as Hollywood’s biggest a-hole.” And that’s saying something, given the industry baseline.

If the Lies Don’t Fit, Time Magazine Must Omit

December 16th, 2014 - 2:22 pm

“Jonathan Gruber should’ve been Time’s Person of the Year,” Jonah Goldberg writes at the L.A. Times, likely much to the consternation of his ultra-PC editors there, who I’m sure have dreams of using Time as a career escape valve, one way or another:

I think Time missed an opportunity in not putting Gruber on the cover. Tea partyers and Wall Street occupiers disagree on a great many things, but there’s one place where the Venn diagrams overlap: the sense we’re all being played for suckers, that the rules are being set up to benefit those who know how to manipulate the rules. The left tends to focus on Wall Street types whose bottom line depends more on lobbying Washington than satisfying the consumer.

But Gruber is something special. He was supposed to be better, more pure than the fat cats. Touted by press and politicians alike as an objective and fair-minded arbiter of healthcare reform, the MIT economist was in fact a warrior for the cause, invested emotionally, politically and, it turns out, financially through undisclosed consulting arrangements. The people who relied on his expertise never bothered to second-guess his conflicts of interest because they, too, were warriors in the same fight.

In speeches and interviews, Gruber admitted he helped the Obama administration craft the law in such a way that it would seem like it didn’t tax the American people when it did. Using insights gleaned in part from his status as an advisor to the Congressional Budget Office, Gruber helped construct an actuarial Trojan Horse that could smuggle a tax hike past the CBO bean counters. If the individual mandate was counted as a tax it would be a big political liability for President Obama (fortunately for Obamacare, the Supreme Court saw through the subterfuge and called it tax, rendering it constitutional).

Gruber then mocked the “stupidity of the American voter” for not seeing through the camouflage he helped design.

No matter much Gruber and his fellow leftists hate us, as Iowahawk has noted, it wasn’t we on the right Gruber was mocking; we immediately saw the multifaceted dangers of Obamacare for what they were and sounded the alarm. Still, perhaps Time magazine didn’t want to rehash their previous mea culpa last year for how badly they and the rest of the cogs in the Time-Warner-CNN-HBO* conglomerate blew this story:

But in 2009 and 2010, when it mattered,  during the run-up to Obamacare’s passing, HBO and CNN, both owned by the same conglomerate as Mark Halperin’s Time magazine were doing the DNC’s bidding by insulting any of its detractors as racists, and CNN was inviting high school kids into the studio to sing pro-Obamacare propaganda:

* Time left their namesake owners this past summer. But they were very much a key member of the conglomerate during the period it thoroughly enjoyed being spokesmen for the Obama administration’s disastrous signature “achievement.” I mean, they gave themselves cake and everything to celebrate the joys of being used.

If the Lie Doesn’t Fit, Politifact Must Omit

December 16th, 2014 - 1:57 pm

“The actual Lie of the Year was too hot for PolitiFact,” as is often the case when it works against The Narrative. As Don Surber notes, “for three months, Dorian Johnson’s lies fueled riots across the country. The whole Hands Up, Don’t Shoot movement is based on this lie. The news media including Fox News has refused to call his lies what they are: lies:”

Rather than take on the biggest prevarication of 2014 — one that threatened to tear the nation apart along racial lines — the people at PolitiFact went with a vague and lame “exaggerations about Ebola.” A lie is a statement that is knowingly false. Exaggerations stretch the truth. PolitiFact’s confusion over what is a lie is the most embarrassing admission by a new organization that compiles these lists since Time Magazine selected YOU! as its Man of the Year in 2006.

The lie of the year is Dorian Johnson’s statement to Wolf Blitzer about the shooting and death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last August: ”I saw the officer proceeding after my friend Big Mike with his gun drawn, and he fired a second shot and that struck my friend Big Mike. And at that time, he turned around with his hands up, beginning to tell the officer that he was unarmed and to tell him to stop shooting. But at that time, the officer firing several more shots into my friend, and he hit the ground and died.”

That was a lie. The autopsy and testimony from at least a half-dozen witnesses confirm that Dorian Johnson lied through his teeth.

But PolitiFact is too spineless to call that the Lie of the Year because the American press in the 21st century is afraid of being called racist by liberal black organizations.

When it comes to the Orwellianly-named “Politifact,” as the Insta-Professor would say, “Just think of them as Democratic operatives with bylines and you won’t go far wrong.”

Update: “PolitiFact got nearly everything about its ‘Lie of the Year’ wrong,” Commentary’s Seth Mandel writes. Which brings us back to the previous quote from Glenn Reynolds.

The Last Grownup at Oberlin

December 16th, 2014 - 1:19 pm


“No Exam Delay for Oberlin Students ‘Traumatized’ By Grand Jury Decisions,” Elizabeth Nolan Brown writes at Reason’s Hit & Run blog, spotting a hilarious exchange between a distaff Oberlin freshman (apologies for using that doubleplus ungood crimethink oldspeak word) and her terse, but spot-on professor, who just might be the only grownup left at Oberlin. And it gets better:

After receiving his professor’s response, the student posted the exchange publicly to Facebook, with the message: “TRIGGER WARNING: Violent language regarding an extremely dismissive response from a professor. This is an email exchange I had with my professor this evening. … We are obviously not preaching to the choir. Professors and administration at Oberlin need to be held accountable for their words and actions and have a responsibility to their students.”

But I don’t mean to pick too much on this student, an Oberlin freshman. This is the environment she’s inherited and set of social cues she’s learned from people who should know far better—like professors and administrators at Ivy League law schools, for a start.


Stephen Kruiser nominates Professor Raney as “Teacher of the Year,” but wonders how long before he’ll be experiencing the joys of President Obama’s “Funemployment:”

Look for this guy to be out of a job within the year. Dissent from the progressive orthodoxy is not tolerated.

But what I’m really waiting for is Oberlin alumnus Lena Dunham to weigh in with her take on Mr. Raney.

“What Happens to Society When Robots Replace Workers?” William H. Davidow and PJM alumnus Michael S. Malone ask at the Harvard Business Review. Though note the chilling phrase that concludes this passage:

Estimates of general rates of technological progress are always imprecise, but it is fair to say that, in the past, progress came more slowly. Henry Adams, the historian, measured technological progress by the power generated from coal, and estimated that power output doubled every ten years between 1840 and 1900, a compounded rate of progress of about 7% per year. The reality was probably much less. For example, in 1848, the world record for rail speed reached 60 miles per hour. A century later, commercial aircraft could carry passengers at speeds approaching 600 miles per hour, a rate of progress of only about 2% per year.

By contrast, progress today comes rapidly. Consider the numbers for information storage density in computer memory. Between 1960 and 2003, those densities increased by a factor of five million, at times progressing at a rate of 60% per year. At the same time, true to Moore’s Law, semiconductor technology has been progressing at a 40% rate for more than 50 years. These rates of progress are embedded in the creation of intelligent machines, from robots to automobiles to drones, that will soon dominate the global economy – and in the process drive down the value of human labor with astonishing speed.

This is why we will soon be looking at hordes of citizens of zero economic value. Figuring out how to deal with the impacts of this development will be the greatest challenge facing free market economies in this century.

“Hordes of citizens of zero economic value?” Frances Fox Piven, call your office.

Great Moments in Journalism

December 15th, 2014 - 9:19 pm

“Story of the $72 million teen trader unravels” CNN-Money reports. Possible alternate headline? At Long Last CNN Finds a Media Outlet It Can Look Down Upon:

It didn’t take long for New York Magazine’s story on a 17-year-old stock whiz with a rumored net worth of $72 million to make a splash. But the story’s juicy premise unraveled almost as quickly.

Jessica Pressler wrote the profile of Mohammed Islam, a senior at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, for a feature called “Reasons to Love New York.”

After getting an advanced look at Pressler’s piece, the New York Post put the improbable story on its Sunday front page. By Monday morning, Islam’s story was one of the hottest on Facebook.

Then it fell apart. In an interview with the New York Observer published Monday night, Islam admitted that he fabricated the whole story and has never actually made a return on any investment. “So it’s total fiction?” asked the Observer. “Yes,” Islam said. (updated)

Early Monday, CNBC’s Josh Brown wondered if Islam was duping “an overly eager press willing to believe.”

That last sentence is certainly a perennial these days, isn’t it? In any case, perhaps the once mighty New York magazine, founded in the late-1960s by legendary editor Clay Felker as a spin-off of the dying New York Herald Tribune, which helped put Tom Wolfe, Jimmy Breslin and other practitioners of “the New Journalism” on the map, should these days stick to profiling men who have sex with horses. It’s safer for them, that way.

As Jeff Jacoby spots in the Boston Globe, “Journalists, says Jorge Ramos, shouldn’t make a fetish of accuracy and impartiality:”

Speaking last month at the International Press Freedom Awards, Univision’s influential news anchor told his audience that while he has “nothing against objectivity,” journalism is meant to be wielded as “a weapon for a higher purpose: justice.” Of course, he continued, it is important to get the facts right — five deaths should be reported as five, not six or seven. But “the best of journalism happens when we, purposely, stop pretending that we are neutral and recognize that we have a moral obligation to tell truth to power.”

As it happens, Ramos delivered those remarks soon after the publication of Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s 9,000-word story in Rolling Stone vividly describing the alleged gang rape of a freshman named Jackie at a University of Virginia fraternity party. Erdely had reportedly spent months researching the story, and its explosive impact was — at first — everything a tell-truth-to-power journalist could have wished: national attention, public outrage, campus protests, suspension of UVA’s fraternities, and a new “zero-tolerance” policy on sexual assault.

Of course, one can find examples of every area of journalism in which leftwing industry publications and industry spokesmen have called for the abandonment of objectivity. For Ramos, it’s to advance socialism through the amnesty of illegal immigrants, through others, it’s to advance socialism through pushing the theme of “climate change.” In 2008, old media seemed like the second coming of Beatlemania-struck preteen girls over Barack Obama. In 2009 and 2010, ostensibly “objective” network TV news readers openly plumped for higher taxes and socialized medicine. The MSM in general loves to transform local crime stories into National Conversations on Race — with plenty of “Mostly Peaceful” riots along the way. For others, the quest for nihilism is advanced via aggressively socialist justice warriors in the reporting of videogames and sports.

And speaking of which, NBC’s low-rated pariah network MSNBC is thinking of covering or running sports in an effort to boost ratings. Or perhaps to find a home for Bob Costas in-between massively politicized halftime lectures on Sunday Night Football. (An earlier, funnier Saturday Night Live would be rubbing their hands together in anticipation of writing sketches along the lines of “Al Sharpton’s Sports Machine.” But then, like the rest of NBC, SNL became palace guard comics long ago.)

‘Answer of the Year’

December 15th, 2014 - 12:41 pm

“I hereby nominate Dick Cheney’s answer to Chuck Todd’s question about a United Nations official who’s called for the criminal prosecution of U.S. interrogators, as the 2014 Sunday Show Answer of the Year,” writes Bill Kristol at the Weekly Standard, and at least half of America seconds the nomination.

Or as Michael Walsh writes, “As I Was Saying About That ‘Torture’ Report…”

Fun With Flags

December 15th, 2014 - 12:10 pm


Sheldon Cooper’s next “Fun With Flags” episode on YouTube should be awesome!

These Kids Today!

December 15th, 2014 - 12:03 pm

The Atlantic whines about “The Cheapest Generation: Why Millennials aren’t buying cars or houses, and what that means for the economy:”

In 2009, Ford brought its new supermini, the Fiesta, over from Europe in a brave attempt to attract the attention of young Americans. It passed out 100 of the cars to influential bloggers for a free six-month test-drive, with just one condition: document your experience online, whether you love the Fiesta or hate it.

Young bloggers loved the car. Young drivers? Not so much. After a brief burst of excitement, in which Ford sold more than 90,000 units over 18 months, Fiesta sales plummeted. As of April 2012, they were down 30 percent from 2011.

Don’t blame Ford. The company is trying to solve a puzzle that’s bewildering every automaker in America: How do you sell cars to Millennials (a k a Generation Y)? The fact is, today’s young people simply don’t drive like their predecessors did. In 2010, adults between the ages of 21 and 34 bought just 27 percent of all new vehicles sold in America, down from the peak of 38 percent in 1985. Miles driven are down, too. Even the proportion of teenagers with a license fell, by 28 percent, between 1998 and 2008.

In a bid to reverse these trends, General Motors has enlisted the youth-brand consultants at MTV Scratch—a corporate cousin of the TV network responsible for Jersey Shore—to give its vehicles some 20-something edge. “I don’t believe that young buyers don’t care about owning a car,” says John McFarland, GM’s 31-year-old manager of global strategic marketing. “We just think nobody truly understands them yet.” Subaru, meanwhile, is betting that it can appeal to the quirky eco-­conscious individualism that supposedly characterizes this generation. “We’re trying to get the emotional connection correct,” says Doug O’Reilly, a publicist for Subaru. Ford, for its part, continues to push heavily into social media, hoping to more closely match its marketing efforts to the channels that Millennials use and trust the most.

In 2012, Ann Althouse spotted the New York Times sneeringly dub Millenials the “The Go-Nowhere Generation” and complaining that “Back in the early 1980s, 80 percent of 18-year-olds proudly strutted out of the D.M.V. with newly minted licenses, according to a study by researchers at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute. By 2008 — even before the Great Recession — that number had dropped to 65 percent.”

As Althouse replied, “Isn’t that what the Boomer generation told them to do? Cars are bad. They are destroying the planet. Then, when they avoid driving, we scold them for being — what? — sedentary? unambitious? incurious?!”

If they were supposed to believe that movie — “An Inconvenient Truth” — that was showed to them by one public school teacher after another, why aren’t we celebrating them now for their teeny tiny carbon footprint? Just give them a tiny room and a computer with high-speed internet, and they’ll be perfectly happy.

But Generation Y has become Generation Why Bother….

Etc. etc. These kids today! Speaking of “Why Bother,” why did we boomers bother to teach them to sneer at aggressive capitalism, consumeristic acquisitiveness, and driving powerful cars if we were going to turn around and whine about their not competing vigorously enough?

Over to you, Atlantic, Vox, BuzzFeed, Gray Lady, and their ultimate boss, our semi-retired president, who began down the path to his golden Millennial-funded retirement plan with gems such as this in 2008:

(Via Maggie’s Farm.)

Gray Lady Down!

December 15th, 2014 - 11:08 am

“Layer upon layer of factcheckers and proofreaders, yo.” Plus this: “Great moments in journalism: The New York Times correction on the pope’s ‘animals in heaven’ remarks:”

Correction: December 12, 2014

An earlier version of this article misstated the circumstances of Pope Francis’ remarks. He made them in a general audience at the Vatican, not in consoling a distraught boy whose dog had died. The article also misstated what Francis is known to have said. According to Vatican Radio, Francis said: “The Holy Scripture teaches us that the fulfillment of this wonderful design also affects everything around us,” which was interpreted to mean he believes animals go to heaven. Francis is not known to have said: “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.’’ (Those remarks were once made by Pope Paul VI to a distraught child, and were cited in a Corriere della Sera article that concluded Francis believes animals go to heaven.) An earlier version also referred incompletely to the largest animal protection group in the United States. It is the Humane Society of the United States, not just the Humane Society.

Other than those mistakes, the stories were accurate. Or as John Hindaker writes at Power Line, “Will the Last Employee of the NY Times Please Turn Out the Lights?”

Which better all be Al Gore twisty bulbs. And Saul Alinsky and I better not find any air conditioning on, or toilet paper in the corporate bathrooms!

Related: “How Much Does the NYT Hate America? Click Here!”  As Michael Walsh writes, even his radical chic leftwing alter-ego David Kahane couldn’t make this up, as the Gray Lady slides even deeper into self-parody. Though all those crazy low-sloping foreheads high atop Pinch Avenue are forcing the rest of us to really step-up our game:

Alternate headline: Bill Cosby is heading into O.J. Simpson territory:

“Let me say this. I only expect the black media to uphold the standards of excellence in journalism and when you do that you have to go in with a neutral mind,” Cosby said.

The comedian, who is being represented by attorneys Martin Singer and John B. Schmitt, said he has been advised not to talk to reporters about the ongoing allegations. More than two dozen women have publicly claimed that the “Fat Albert” creator drugged and raped them.

The allegations span at least four decades, beginning in the 1960s.

The New York Post article goes on to note that pioneering black supermodel Beverly Johnson “alleges that Cosby put drugs in her cappuccino after he invited her to his New York brownstone to rehearse lines for an episode on his hit NBC television show,” which jibes with the quotes last month in the New York Daily News from Cosby’s network fixer during his tenure at NBC in the 1980s at the height of the legendary comedian’s career. Assuming the allegations are true, why on earth would someone at that ozone level of superstardom do such a thing, beyond the notion of droit du seigneur?

The Breakdown of Civil Society

December 13th, 2014 - 5:06 pm


“NYC cops preemptively uninvite de Blasio to their funerals,” Jazz Shaw writes at Hot Air. We mentioned this story yesterday, but Jazz’s conclusion to his post is worth highlighting:

What we’re witnessing here is, yet again, the breakdown of civil society and the weakening of the line between order and mayhem. As long as protesters were out there having their voices heard and the city presented a sympathetic, yet unified front which was willing to engage with them in a positive conversation, things could move ahead over this tricky terrain. But the Mayor has sent the message that he is not on the side of the police and sides with their accusers. He has let them know that the executive offices which are charged with leading law enforcement do not stand with the officers on the street and that they view them as the problem rather than the criminals. This will do nothing but embolden responses on the streets where the police already take their lives in their hands by the simple act of suiting up and heading out each day to do their jobs and protect the citizens.

At some point it will not be worth the time of the cops to keep showing up in the highest crime areas. And when they stop, let’s see how much everyone enjoys that civil society with nobody around to enforce the laws.

See also: history of Detroit. And the future of Ferguson.

In the fall of 2013, when my wife and I were in New York to visit family and friends, and Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure was nearing its end, I was well aware walking around the city that I was witnessing the potential end of an era. On the other hand, right around that time, New York-based journalist Fred Siegel was positing in the American Enterprise Institute that “New York After Bloomberg” wasn’t likely to descend back into its Death Wish, Taxi Driver, Panic in Needle Park, Taking of Pelham 1,2,3, bad old days. A period that despite whatever moral uplift beloved Mayor Ed Koch brought the city, stretched for varying degrees from the late 1960s until Rudy Giuliani took office and revolutionized New York’s crime prevention techniques:

By the time the next mayor is forced to face up to the fiscal issues, he or she will likely also have to face the consequences of their support for eliminating stop-and-frisk policing. A somewhat hysterical Bloomberg has warned that New York could become Detroit or Chicago should the policy end for good. That is unlikely. Unlike New York, Detroit and Chicago don’t have professionalized police departments. What will likely change, however, is that Gotham will shift from the active policing first introduced by Giuliani (but overdone by Bloomberg, who pushed arrest quotas on the police in recent years) back to the passive policing of the Dinkins years. Active policing eliminated the sense of menace that once defined the city’s streets. Pre-Giuliani and Bratton (his first police commissioner), just asking for a cup of coffee the wrong way could get you a fat lip.

But then, as Daniel Henninger noted in the Wall Street Journal back in 2005, there’s a certain class of Manhattan intelligentsia and SoHo Bobos who longed for a rerun of the Travis Bickle-era — and with Bill de Blasio, they certainly have the right man for the job to return New York to the Bad Old Days.

In 1968, Richard Nixon was elected president on a platform promising law & order after voters were disgusted by the race riots, assassinations, and leftwing mayhem at the 1968 Democrat Convention, which proved that both words in Lyndon Johnson’s “Great” “Society” to be lies. It’s entirely possible that a Republican could win back the White House in 2016 if voters are sufficiently angry over the violence, corruption, and rampant lawlessness of the eight years of the Obama era. But as the horrors of the 1970s remind us (including Watergate, of course), there’s only so much a president can do to restore order, when the rot in the nation’s leaders and bureaucrats is so systemic.

Yeah. You know how else it looks? Very much like this:

And the giant Buddha statues destroyed by the Taliban in early 2001. But then, the religious zealotry of radical Islam, radical socialism, and radical environmentalism do tend to echo other very strongly. Just ask Mohamed Atta, Socialist Critic of Capitalism, or this pair of fervent environmentalists, whose doom-laden ideas for the future of mankind intersect surprisingly well:


On the other hand, at least Greenpeace has raised awareness that they’re still around, so they’ve got that going for them, as Sonny Bunch writes in the Washington Free Beacon:

The best—and by best, I mean absolutely the worst—part of this story? Greenpeace’s “apology.” Here’s Reuters:

The group said it was sorry if the protest at the historical site on Monday caused any “moral offense” to the people of Peru.

“Moral offense.” As if they were only guilty of hurting the feelings of the Peruvian people. And didn’t, you know, tromp all over a giant, incredibly fragile piece of art.

Amazing. Just amazing. But hey: At least now we know that the future is renewables, or some such. Greenpeace for the win!

As I’ve joked before, the vengeful Goracle didn’t title one of his tomes “The Assault on Reason” for nothing.

Rolling Stone and the Myth of a Rape Epidemic

December 13th, 2014 - 2:08 pm

“The stunning news that Rolling Stone now disowns its story that claimed a female student was gang-raped at a University of Virginia (UVA) fraternity shows that the drive to root out ‘rape culture’ is spinning out of control,” Sean Collins of England’s Spiked writes. “We’re living through a full-blown panic, akin to the daycare sexual abuse scandals of the 1980s and early 1990s, with bad consequences for both women and men:”

The unravelling of the Rolling Stone article is not an isolated event, nor simply the case of one journalist’s lapse in ethics. The New York Times has highlighted cases at colleges such as Columbia and Hobart and William Smith, among others, in a similar way to Rolling Stone’s latest, focusing on the accuser’s allegations at the expense of the full picture (an enterprising journalist might revisit these stories, too). But more importantly, the UVA story is the product of a fevered atmosphere whipped up by ‘rape culture’ campaigners, an atmosphere where advocacy and emotion override fact.

Central to the myth of a rape epidemic is a statistic: that one in five women are sexually assaulted on US campuses over four years. The survey from which this statistic derives has been thoroughly debunked by Christina Hoff Sommers and others, who note, in particular, that the survey was based on a small sample (two schools) and a definition of assault so broad as to include uninvited touching and kissing, which even most respondents did not think rose to the level of an attack. In fact, according to more reliable Department of Justice data, sexual assault has fallen by more than 50 per cent in recent years, to a rate of 1.1 per 1,000 women, with similar rates on and off campus.

Found via Kate of Small Dead Animals, Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist asks if by singling out Rolling Stone, and its journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely, conservatives aren’t ignoring or downplaying the bigger picture, the “widespread journalistic worship of narrative and advocacy over truth,” expected in political coverage, it’s now rampant in all facets of modern journalism, from sports to videogame magazines to (of course) radical environmentalism.

But let’s not move on entirely from examining the corruption at Rolling Stone just yet. Veteran blogger Tom Maguire senses a pattern in their reporting of campus rapes, and/or the lack thereof.

Update: As one Rolling Stone-approved artist would say, strike a pose, there’s nothing to it:

More: ”The Violent Threat Near UVA that Rolling Stone Downplayed,” as spotted by Jim Geraghty, who adds, “This is one more consequence of ‘narrative journalism’: When you set out to write the evil-fraternities story, you end up missing the serial-killer-stalks-campus story.”

Oh, that return of the primitive. Backwards ran the progress until reeled the mind:

While drunk and naked. At the Weekly Standard, James W. Ceaser of the University of Virginia charts “The Flight from Reason on Campus,” while at Harvard, you can actually see it as it jogs away. As Sonny Bunch notes in astonishment on Twitter linking to an article in yesterday’s Harvard Crimson, “This is the greatest story ever told:”

A group of about 30 students attempted to hold a silent demonstration in the first minutes of Primal Scream, a biannual naked run around Harvard Yard, early Thursday morning, inadvertently leading to a chaotic exchange of words and gestures that reversed the usual direction of the run and left many questioning the significance of the heated interaction.

The run is a College tradition in which students, at times inebriated, run naked around the Yard on the eve of the first day of exams. It usually attracts more than a hundred participants.

Protesters said that their goal was not to protest Primal Scream itself, but to hold a four-and-a-half minute period of silence before the run for Michael Brown of Ferguson, Mo. and Eric Garner of New York—two unarmed black men who were killed by white police officers this summer—and to join in solidarity for people around the nation who have experienced racism. The organizers of the demonstration had posted a Facebook event describing their plans for the protest ahead of the event.

While protesters said they felt ignored and angered by the actions of Primal Scream participants, several students in the run said they could not see nor hear the protesters because of the noise and nature of the gathering, with some saying they would have participated in the protest if they had known about it in advance.

Read the whole thing; perhaps I need to update my usual line about Orwell’s 1984 being a how-to guide for the left — and remind them that neither is the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup. I’d say we’ve definitely spotted the next leaders of Freedonia, but alas, these are the future leaders of us.

Nuke the site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

Update: Stacy McCain on “Our Oppressed Elites.” As Stanley Kurtz noted last year at NRO, “What do America’s college students want? They want to be oppressed.”

The New Barbarism: Truth Is Optional

December 13th, 2014 - 12:32 pm

Bill Whittle puts all the pieces together in Ferguson and beyond; watch the whole thing. And note this passage from about halfway through Bill’s video:

[Tawana Brawley's story] would, indeed, be horrible. If it were… you know… actually true. But it wasn’t true. Brawley made up the story to avoid a beating from her mother. Despite the fact that she named and slandered an innocent man, Assistant DA Steven Pagones (who eventually was awarded $345,000 for defamation), in 1991Legal scholar Patricia j. Williams wrote that Brawley “has been the victim of some unspeakable crime. No matter how she got there. No matter who did it to her—and even if she did it to herself.” 

We clear on that? Doctor of Jurisprudence from Harvard Law School and current law professor at Columbia University, said that Tawana Brawley — who slandered an innocent man with the most vile charges imaginable to avoid a beating from her own mother — was not the perpetrator of an unspeakable crime, but the victim of one.

These are the new barbarians. Truth doesn’t matter. Law doesn’t matter. Individual lives do not matter. All that matters is Progressive politics, Progressive intimidation and Progressive power.

Just a few days ago, Brietbart reporter John Nolte traveled to Oberlin college to look into widely-read rape allegations on the part of Progressive darling Lena Dunham. Dunham, you may remember, was called on by Barack Obama personally to help get out the youth vote. Truth Revolt’s own Ben Shapiro published a withering critique of what is nothing but infant sexual molestation which Dunham brags about in her best-seller, “Not That Kind of Girl” – allegations utterly unremarked upon by Dunham’s admirers on the Left.

After recapping Nolte’s trip to Oberlin to clear the reputation of “Barry,” Dunham’s fellow student at Oberlin whose reputation she later casually smeared in her autobiography, Whittle adds:

How did Dunham, and Brawley, and millions of other New Barbarians get this way? They were taught, that’s how. While trying to find the identity of this famed mustachioed, purple-boot wearing, Conservative Republican Racist named Barry, John Nolte spoke with Sophie Hess, manager of the on-campus radio station, about searching the records for Real Talk with Jimbo.When he explained that he was only searching for the truth, this college administrator suddenly turned cold and said, “Asking whether or not a victim is telling the truth is irrelevant. It’s just not important if they are telling the truth.” When Nolte explained he was simply trying to clear the name of an innocent man, this Progressive Barbarian retracted her offer to search the archives and asked him to leave.

Both quotes dovetail perfectly with some of “Jackie’s” more intense supporters at the University of Virginia. As we noted yesterday, their student newspaper quoted a pair of college-age video makers who told the paper:

“I felt people were fixating on the details and quality of Rolling Stone reporting, and the fact is, whatever happened, something happened to Jackie,” Mirza said. “And even if she made up the story, things like this do happen, and there are sexual assaults that don’t get reported, so I meant to bring the focus back to Jackie. Whatever comes of this, we’re still behind her and we still think she did something brave by coming forward.”

In response, Mark Steyn wrote:

The blogger Oliver Willis thinks it’s “super dangerous” that the right is seizing on the implosion of Rolling Stone‘s story to insist that “all rape allegations can be ignored”. But isn’t it the left that’s trivializing real rape by according fake rape the same protected status? After all, if Jackie is incredibly “brave” for “coming forward” to “pull back the curtain” on something that never happened, if “gang rape” no longer requires either rape or a gang, if it is not necessary to have actually been attacked, brutalized and sexually violated in order to be a rape victim, then what’s the big deal if one has been?

Shades of 1997′s Wag the Dog, in which Dustin Hoffman’s Hollywood executive and Robert DeNiro’s Carville-esque political fixer stage a fake war in a green screen studio to salvage’s the president’s tanking poll numbers and afterwards quip:

Conrad ‘Connie’ Brean [DeNiro]: Well, if Kissinger can win the Peace Prize, I wouldn’t be surprised to wake up and find out I’d won the Preakness.

Stanley Motss [Hoffman]: Well, yes but, our guy DID bring peace.

Conrad ‘Connie’ Brean: Yeah, but there wasn’t a war.

Stanley Motss: All the greater accomplishment.

But then, considering how much stuff the left made up throughout the 20th century to advance their cause, why shouldn’t the new millennium begin in exactly the same fashion? Or to put it another way, “When The Legend Becomes Fact, Print The Legend.”

Related: “Lynched effigies reportedly discovered at UC Berkeley [photos].”

Flashback: “Scared America: 8 Crises and Collective Panics of the 1970s.”

Communist Propaganda Writ Small

December 13th, 2014 - 10:40 am

Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to.

—Theodore Dalrymple, as quoted by Mark Steyn yesterday in the wake of Rolling Stone’s meltdown over its collapsing University of Virginia rape story. Along a similar line, Ann Althouse spots a New York Times columnist on Thursday drafting a column which posits, “What if every kid on every college campus was given new language — a phrase whose meaning could not be mistaken, that signaled peril for both sides, that might be more easily uttered?”

A doubleplus good rip off of George Orwell’s “Newspeak,” Althouse notes, the dumbed-down, Soviet and Nazi-inspired socialist proto-PC language spoken by the Inner and Outer Party controlling England in 1984:

His sexual life, for example, was entirely regulated by the two Newspeak words sexcrime (sexual immorality) and goodsex (chastity). Sexcrime covered all sexual misdeeds whatever. It covered fornication, adultery, homosexuality and other perversions, and, in addition, normal intercourse practised for its own sake. There was no need to enumerate them separately, since they were all equally culpable, and, in principle, all punishable by death. In the C vocabulary, which consisted of scientific and technical words, it might be necessary to give specialised names to certain sexual aberrations, but the ordinary citizen had no need of them. He knew what was meant by goodsex— that is to say, normal intercourse between man and wife, for the sole purpose of begetting children, and without physical pleasure on the part of the woman: all else was sexcrime. In Newspeak it was seldom possible to follow a heretical thought further than the perception that it was heretical: beyond that point the necessary words were non-existent.

Yet another reminder that consciously or otherwise, the left views 1984 as a how-to guide, and not Orwell’s warning of wear socialism invariably leads.

Related: “‘I could cry right now’: Al Sharpton’s DC protest blasted for VIP section, threats to call security.” Hey, all violent socialist revolutions end with an Outer Party performing all the actual manual labor and an Inner Party reaping their spoils — why would Al’s be the exception?

“Mel Gibson & Racist Emails: H’Wood’s Only Choice Is to Exile Pascal & Rudin,” John Nolte writes at Big Hollywood, noting that Sony Pictures and its chairwoman have come full circle:

Make no mistake, I’m not calling for anyone to be fired. This is just an observation on my part that, due to Pascal’s and Hollywood’s own standards, there really is no other choice but to fire her and exile Rudin.

Pascal was one of the first Hollywood executives to exile Mel Gibson after news of his drunken anti-Semitic rant became public in 2006. The rest of Hollywood soon followed. One of Hollywood’s most bankable stars, who also happened to be an Oscar-winning director, was ruined. And for the last eight years (there was another incident in 2010) Gibson has remained ruined.

Gibson’s rants sickened me. So too do the Pascal/Rudin emails that diminish a black man (forget he’s our President) to the color of his skin and mock him over it. Worse, the exchange reads like two mean girls getting together to feel better about themselves through the petty act of lording their superiority over someone else. In this case, it can be interpreted as racial superiority.

“Should I ask him if he liked DJANGO?” says Pascal, according to the reported e-mails. Rudin writes back: “12 YEARS.” Pascal responds: “Or the butler. Or think like a man?” Rudin: “Ride-along. I bet he likes Kevin Hart.”

In a statement, Pascal said that the emails “are not an accurate reflection of who I am.”

I take her at her word. We all should. No one should be judged or defined by a single lapse of judgment.

Who Amy Pascal is as a person, though, is the not the issue here.

The issue is the message Hollywood sends to black America if racism hurled at a black man is forgiven when racism hurled at Jews is not.

As Nolte notes, “With the banishment of Mel Gibson, Hollywood set a standard. If that standard is broken for Pascal and Rudin, the message it sends to all of us, but most especially to black America, is unmistakable and inexcusable.”

The London Telegraph reports that Sony has suspended filming on numerous movie shoots (and other sources say all shoots) as a result of their recent hacking playing havoc with their ability to process payments, and adds this detail:

In an email to Amy Pascal, the co-chairman of Sony Pictures, Scott Rudin, who made Moneyball and No Country for Old Men, described Angelina Jolie as a “minimally talented spoilt brat” who possessed a “rampaging ego”.

On the same day that the hacked exposed an email exchange, the actress came face to face with Pascal at a Hollywood event.

A stony-faced and stiff Jolie glared at Pascal who attempted to embrace her, at the Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment Power 100 breakfast on Wednesday.

John McCain never recovered in 2008 after he temporarily suspended his presidential campaign during the financial crisis of late September. Voters seemed to think he had given up his quest for the White House and permanently suspended his campaign. Perhaps Sony should consider permanently suspending its film business in the wake of this scandal.

Though for the first time and only time, I can’t wait to read what Maureen Dowd has to say about this topic…

Update: As always, Steve Green asks the important questions:

Since 9/11, Hollywood has increasingly rejected American audiences for the larger market overseas, hence their ubiquitous preteen-oriented zillion dollar 3D CGI-laden superhero movies. As Mark Steyn wrote last year, “Hollywood is now approaching the condition of Broadway in the ‘abominable showman’ David Merrick’s dotage: The shows are boring but the backstage machinations preserve the glamour a while longer.”

Since their product has put much of America on the sidelines, and we’re no longer active consumers of pop culture, pass the popcorn; sprinkle plenty of schadenfreude on top.

Certainly as a director, Lou Lumenick writes in the New York Post:

Robert Wise, the editor of “Kane” and “Ambersons,” says in an archival interview in “Magician” that RKO fruitlessly pleaded with Welles to come back and make changes after a disastrous test screening of “Ambersons.”

“Welles might have been spoiled by the total control he had in both radio and theater,” says the documentary’s director, Chuck Workman. “He went to Hollywood at a time where directors were not necessarily the final arbiter of their films, and what he wanted was not in sync with what the money men wanted.”

While Welles was still in demand in Hollywood as an actor for films like “Jane Eyre,” no one trusted him to direct another film until the independently produced thriller “The Stranger” (1946) — Welles’ one and only box-office hit as a filmmaker.

Welles managed to blow whatever goodwill he had in Tinseltown after Columbia Pictures’ Harry Cohn took a chance on him to direct “The Lady From Shanghai” the following year.

Not only was this beautifully filmed (but narratively inscrutable) noir the first flop starring the studio’s top star, Rita Hayworth — but Welles perversely turned Hollywood’s most famous redhead (also his ex) into a blonde for the role, further enraging Cohn.

Except for a Poverty Row production of “Macbeth” (that Republic Pictures had to redub because Welles insisted on thick Scottish accents), Welles didn’t work again in Hollywood a decade.

That take certainly jibes with earlier Welles biographer, the late Charles Higham. In the conclusion of his 1985 tome on Welles, published just weeks before its subject’s death at age 70, the veteran biographer offered a simple and concise summation of why Welles’ services as a director went unwanted in Hollywood after RKO rescinded his license to kill in the early 1940. In an era before VCRs, DVDs, 500-channel cable and satellite TV and Netflix, there was no ancillary market for movies — they had to make their money at the box office, and a director who flopped as spectacularly as Welles was not a welcome man. And Welles’ films, visually stunning as they were at their best, simply didn’t make money. Hitchcock, John Ford, Michael Curtiz and Frank Capra were bankable directors; Welles was not. (Apologies for any errors in the following passage introduced while transcribing it):

It is axiom in the commercial cinema that the central figure of any work must be a human being with whom the mass audience can identify. He or she has to be likable, attractive, desirable, even when capable of villainy; he or she must speak the language of the people. Scriptwriters of proven commercial worth have deliberately tailored their scripts to the specific needs of stars so as not to extend their range too far, and the stars themselves more often than not make further alterations to suit their personalities. Yet so relentlessly has Welles worked against the commercial grain that he has even dared to make the central figures of his films unsympathetic.

In Citizen Kane, Welles created a selfish heartless tycoon who is destroyed spiritually by his own greed and ambition. Americans could have comfortably accepted a rogue or a pirate of this sort, but someone who was haunted by agonizing visions of lost innocence alienated and confused the mass audience for decades. In The Magnificent Ambersons, Welles portrayed an impudent, bad-tempered puppy of a man, George Minafer, who disrupted the life of a small town; this charmless creature proved impossible to identify with in an age of heroes of the caliber of Tyrone Power and Errol Flynn. The other protagonist of the story, Aunt Fanny, was the sort of figure usually made fun of in American films: the tortured virgin spinster who hopelessly sets her cap for a man she cannot have. Contemporary audiences laughed at Aunt Fanny, whose misery failed to touch a chord in the American heart.

Citizen Kane lost well over $100,000. The Magnificent Ambersons lost more than half a million. Following his failure to finish It’s All True, Welles attempted a comeback with The Stranger, a movie in which the protagonist was a Nazi war criminal hiding in a small American town. Again it was impossible for the audience to identify with such a person; the war was only just over, and there were few families that had not been affected by it. The Lady From Shanghai had as its hero a liberal sailor who had supported the loyalist cause in the Spanish Civil War — and many Americans knew that people like that were Communist sympathizers. The making of Rita Hayworth, reigning sex goddess of the American screen, into a murderess further alienated the public.

Shakespeare has never been box office in America, so Welles’s Shakespearean trilogy sank without a trace. Ironically, while the films he directed were failing, Welles himself was highly bankable as an actor and public personality, much as he is today. In Europe, Welles’s discipline disintegrated, and he lost control of his career. As his waistline grew, his career shriveled; it was almost as though eating and drinking were substitutes for creativity.

Sadly, Welles could have been transformed himself into a sort of father figure to the easy riders and raging bulls of the 1970s New Hollywood era, but he was far too dissipated by that stage to serve as a workaday mainstream director. Or as George Orwell once wrote, “A man may take to drink because he feels himself a failure, but then fail all the more completely because he drinks.” Lumenick notes that of Welles’ six abandoned ’70s-era films, The Other Side of the Wind, which starred John Huston, another larger-than-life director-actor-raconteur, as Welles’ onscreen stand-in is being readied for Cannes next year in honor of the centennial of Welles’ birth.  Having seen clips of it, I’m not sure if anyone should get their hopes up that this will be Welles’ long-lost masterpiece, but I’d love to be proven wrong.