Get PJ Media on your Apple

Ed Driscoll

‘This Org Gives Me an icky Feeling’

December 22nd, 2014 - 6:10 pm

mussolini_obama_lerner_forward_6-13-13-1

“BOMBSHELL REPORT: IRS Targeted ‘Icky’ Conservative Groups,” Patrick Howley writes at the Daily Caller. Money quote here:

4. Lois Lerner expressed her frustration about having to potentially approve a lot of groups, and her colleagues in the agency assured her that she wouldn’t have to.

“Lois [Lerner] would like to discuss our planned approach for dealing with these cases. We suspect we will have to approve the majority of the c4 applications,” IRS official Holly Paz wrote to colleagues.

IRS official Don Spellman replied, “This line in particular stood out: ‘We suspect we will have to approve the majority of c4 applications.’ That’s an interesting posture.”

Deputy Division Counsel Janine Cook replied, “[G]uess they are thinking they’ll have suspicions about reality but the paper/reps will pass muster.”

5. So the IRS reached out to outside advisers to help come up with ways to deny tax-exempt status to “icky” organizations.

“It appears that the org is funneling money to other orgs for political purposes,” a Cincinnati-based IRS agent working under Lois Lerner wrote to tax law specialist Hilary Goehausen in April 2013. ”However, I’m not sure we can deny them because, technically, I don’t know that I can deny them simply for donating to another 501(c)(4). . . .  Any thoughts or feedback would be greatly appreciated.”

“I think there may be a number of ways to deny them,” Goehausen replied. “Let me talk to Sharon [Light] tomorrow about it and get some ideas from her as well. . . .This sounds like a bad org. :/ . . .  This org gives me an icky feeling.”

Trust your icky feelings, Luke. You know them to be true:

Perhaps the House of Repeal can take up this issue as well.

Related: “Report: IRS ‘totally politicized’ by Obamacare, targeting of Tea Party applicants,” from Mark Tapscott at the Washington Examiner.

What Could Go Wrong?

December 22nd, 2014 - 2:26 pm

“The apocalypse that is Hollywood gossip guru Nikki Finke may soon descend upon Washington like a dark mushroom cloud,” Betsy Rothstein writes at the Dailler caller. “The NYT reports that Politico is ‘in talks’ to bring her on as a political columnist:”

NYT Magazine writer and This Town author Mark Leibovich is all for it. “I’m for anything that injects discomfort into the system. Especially from a media platform,” he said.

But one former Politico staffer is aghast at the prospect of Finke coming to This Town.

“Nikki is brilliant but she is way more trouble than Politico needs,” the source said. “Who in that newsroom is going to have the spinal fortitude to deal with Nikki and the people she enrages routinely? Do they really want unhinged Hollywood types (including Nikki) screaming down the phone every day? Will they back her up? Let’s hope for everyone’s sake this doesn’t go through.”

That same ex-staffer referred to Finke as “so crazypants.”

When told that some former Politico staffers think a Finke addition could really work and that Politico could function under such drastically opposing viewpoints, the source replied, “WTF? Maybe they just don’t know the raging ball of crazy that is Nikki Finke. And let’s face it, Politico is not exactly safe haven for difficult women.”

I’m sure the late and sorely missed Cathy Seipp is loving this story somewhere. And it’s not the first time that the de facto Obama house organ has hired someone who was a little, um, on the edge — even by Politico standards — before. Fortunately, he didn’t last long there:

And as for crazypants? Well, Politico’s veteran columnist Roger Simon, no relation to our beneficent Maximum Pajamahadeen Emeritus, has had that base covered from time to time as well:

C’mon Politicomake this happen. And if things hit the fan between you and Nikki, we’ll be happy to BenSmith away the chaos. Trust us — just like we trust you.

 

 

 

 

 

“Where is the Left that was concerned about what unstable people might make of violent political rhetoric?”, John Sexton asks at Big Journalism. “Why are they silent now, when it seems what they claimed they feared may actually have happened?”

To ask the questions are to answer them.

God has quite a sense of humor when He wants to, as Box Office Guru notes this week:

Dropping heavily in its second weekend was the Biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings which took in an estimated $8M this weekend a drop of… 66.6% from last weekend. You can’t make this stuff up folks. Any slight change up or down would make that percentage change as well but still, it’s almost as if someone planned it. The cume for Exodus now stands at $39M with a final total in the $55M range likely.

“Exodus, Stage Left,” John Podhoretz quipped in the headline of his review of Ridley Scott’s latest film at the Weekly Standard:

Raise your hand if you want to see Moses portrayed as an insurgent lunatic terrorist with a bad conscience, the pharaoh who sought the murder of all first-born Hebrew slaves as a nice and reasonable fellow, and God as a foul-tempered 11-year-old boy with an English accent.

All right, I see a few hands raised, though maybe they belong to people who are still demonstrating about Ferguson. So let me ask you this: How many of you want to see how Hollywood has taken the story of the Hebrew departure from ancient Egypt—by far the most dramatic tale in the world’s most enduring book—and turned it into a joyless, dull, turgid bore?

I don’t know when I’ve seen a movie as self-destructively misconceived as Exodus: Gods and Kings, the director Ridley Scott’s $200-million retelling of the Moses story that has as much chance of making $200 million at the American box office as Ted Cruz has of winning the District of Columbia in the November 2016 election.

For one thing, Exodus: Gods and Kings is jaw-droppingly offensive in the way it bastardizes its source material. The God of Sh’mot, the second book of the Torah, manifests Himself in many ways—as the burning bush, as a cloud that follows the Hebrews on their journey, as rain and fire, even as a trumpet blast. But he most certainly does not manifest as a human being, since the incorporeality of the divine is a central feature of Jewish theology, the third of Maimonides’ 13 principles of faith. I know Jews make up only 2 percent of the U.S. population and are therefore not collectively a box-office consideration—but if you’re going to make a movie out of their holy book, shouldn’t you, I don’t know, be careful not to throw the holy book into the garbage can?

Well, yes; it’s not hard to understand what went wrong. While the motley young Turks who replaced the old guard in Hollywood in the 1960s had widely varied backgrounds, though with the exception of John Milius, identical left-leaning politics, as filmmakers, they shared one trait in common. As Peter Biskind wrote in Easy Riders Raging Bulls, they loved themselves plenty of genre deconstruction. On the surface, Warren Beatty’s Bonnie & Clyde was a rerun of a 1930s Warner Brothers gangster picture, but in the post-Hays Code 1960s, this time around, the gangsters were the good guys, and the cops and bankers the enemy.

Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider subverted both the Roger Corman biker films of the 1960s, and John Ford’s westerns, to create a beautifully photographed American Southwest, albeit one filled with xenophobes terrified of two hippies on their Harley Davidsons and their football helmeted lawyer. (A few years later, Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles would really deconstruct the western and pummel it into the ground for good.)  Jack Nicholson’s Chinatown is on the surface, a Sam Spade-style private eye film, but its environmental subtext argues that Los Angeles should never have been built.

And in perhaps the ultimate genre deconstruction, George Lucas’ Star Wars uses the high tech sci-fi of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek, and Forbidden Planet to recast the Vietnam War with the Communist Vietcong as the Rebels and Richard Nixon and the US as the Evil Empire.

Etc. etc. all the way up to Brokeback Mountain, which is yet another western deconstruction.

The problem with genre deconstruction in a biblical film is that Blue State audiences won’t touch religious-oriented films with a barge pole, and Red State audiences know when they’re being gaslighted, and those who see the film during its opening weekend quickly tell their friends to avoid yet another boilerplate Hollywood attack on religion. While some initial leftwing critics screamed that Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ was arguably torture porn and/or anti-Semitic, Red State audiences quickly discovered through word of mouth that Mel was perhaps the last filmmaker in Hollywood who took the notion of God and Jesus seriously. (As Hans Fiene of the Federalist quipped last week, if Hollywood wants to get its biblical blockbuster groove back, just “Pretend Mel Gibson is Roman Polanski.”

Besides, wasn’t the Ten Commandments already deconstructed nearly ten years ago? At least in mash-up mock trailer form, which looks like a lot more fun than Ridley Scott’s dire-sounding film:

(H/T: JP)

In the “United States of Anxiety,” Kevin D. Williamson of NRO writes:

Liberal, open societies are always vulnerable to encroachments from illiberal forces with sufficient motivation, whether it’s the totalitarians in Pyongyang, the ones in Riyadh, or the ones in Cambridge, Mass. That’s especially true when elites lose their confidence in such liberal principles as free speech and freedom of conscience. As soon as you accept the premise that a person’s right to free speech (or a professor’s ability to conduct his class) is circumscribed by another person’s “right” not to be offended, then you have jettisoned principle entirely, and all that’s left is brute-force negotiation — a situation in which the partisans of liberty and humaneness always find themselves lamentably outnumbered. And if we’ve learned anything from the waning days of Harry Reid, during which Senate Democrats attempted to repeal the First Amendment, it is that our own elites do not have very much confidence in traditional American liberalism.

In “Collectivism and the presumption of guilt,” Red State’s John Hayward rounds up the First Lady’s then-and-now flashbacks of her 2011 trip to Target, Samuel L. Jackson’s cry of racism in the deaths of petty criminals Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the Australian “I’ll Ride With You” journalistic fable and similar stories and concludes:

What all of these stories, and so many others, have in common is the assumption of bad faith by liberals, who claim they can read the minds of everyone from dinner-party guests to society at large and detect the dark secret impulses seething beneath every word and deed.  The worst bad motives are assumed for every action, including something as harmless as a short woman asking a taller department-store patron to grab a box of detergent off the top shelf for her.  If events that cannot be construed as social-justice crimes are not ready to hand, the liberal will simply invent them, transforming lies into Deeper Truth with the magical power of leftist ideology.  We’re even presumed guilty of crimes no one actually committed, most notably the horrible “anti-Muslim backlash” that never actually happens after Muslim terrorists commit atrocities.

This presumption of guilt is absolutely crucial to collectivism.  The Left must teach its subjects to think of themselves as criminals.  That’s the only way law-abiding people will endure levels of coercive power that would normally require specific accusations, a fair trial, and the possibility of appeals.  Social-justice “crimes” can be prosecuted without any of those things.  There is no appeal from the sentence, and no statute of limitations on the crimes, as any left-winger who thinks today’s American citizens need to suffer for the historical offense of slavery will be happy to explain to you.  There’s no evidence you can present in your defense, for the Left has read your mind, and knows better than you what demons lurk in its recesses.

This is one reason the Left dislikes the trappings of constitutional law and order.

And increasingly, through once-respected journalistic outlets such as the New York Times, Time Magazine, the Washington Post and NBC, they’re not afraid to admit it.

“Time Magazine warned of a growing threat to cops nationwide in September 2010,” Scott Greer writes at the Daily Caller today, one of many visits to the memory hole that conservatives are doing today, to remind readers of just how paranoid the left were from mid-2009 when the Tea Party movement first swept the country, until their orgy of anti-right wing rhetoric in the wake of the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords*  by an apolitical lunatic. As Greer noted, “The nationally renowned publication argued that sinister individuals would launch targeted attacks against police officers and even ambush them in their patrol cars…Who are these groups that present such a threat to police? Right-wing militias, according to Time.” At the end of his article, Greer notes:

The author specifically warns that these groups pose an imminent threat to law enforcement officials and should be closely monitored. Gellman relies heavily on a retracted 2009 DHS report — simply titled “Rightwing Extremism” — for his finding. That very same report was quickly pulled by the DHS after its release and was widely criticized for claiming that ordinary citizens upset by the election of President Barack Obama pose a danger to the country.

Since the article’s publication, there have hardly been any reported cases of violence stemming from individuals connected to the militia movement. There is one possible case from June of this year, but it could not be determined whether the two killers in the Las Vegas shooting spree had any connections with militia groups.

Meanwhile, the suspected gunman behind the Saturday ambush of two New York City police officers was certainly not a right-wing militant. Ismaaiyl Brinsley was reportedly a member of the notorious prison gang, the Black Guerrilla Family, which espouses a mix of black nationalism and Marxism. The gang declared “open season” on NYPD officers earlier in December following the non-indictment of the officer involved in the death of Eric Garner. (RELATED: Suspect In NYPD Cop Execution Sought Revenge For Mike Brown And Eric Garner)

A thorough search of Time’s archive produced no stories about the threat that communists, black nationalists or prison gangs pose to police.

Until this past summer, Time magazine was owned by Time-Warner-CNN-HBO. CNN would hire admitted communist and 9/11 truther Van Jones to co-host Crossfire, (a brand name the network reviewed despite their pledge in January of 2011 to cease using gun-related language) and Piers Morgan to aggressively push their radical anti-Second Amendment agenda. Jones would later go on to demagogue the Ferguson riots last month while on location for CNN.

* And a federal judge appointed by George H.W. Bush, usually forgotten by the left because he didn’t fit the requirements needed to advance their anti-GOP narrative.

Should MSNBC Cancel Al Sharpton?

December 21st, 2014 - 4:06 pm

sharpton_msnbc_lean_forward_parody_ad_4-8-12

In 1987, while I was still living in New Jersey, I watched Al Sharpton’s initial TV debut in 1987 on the infamous Morton Downey Jr. Show on WWOR, and read in horror as he orchestrated the even more infamous Tawana Brawley hoax that same year. In 1991, I reead about the Crown Heights riots, where, as Jay Nordlinger wrote, “A rabbinical student, Yankel Rosenbaum, was lynched. Over a hundred others were injured.” So I was more than a little horrified to watch Sharpton transform into “Al Sharpton, Power Dem,” as Nordlinger dubbed him in 2000, when Democrat presidential candidates Bill Bradley and Al Gore felt obligated to make the trek to Sharpton’s office and kiss his, err, ring.

And then there was MSNBC a decade later. The Comcast-owned cable network began 2011 vowing a new tone of civility (no really) and comparing gun and violence-related metaphors to the N-Word. That was in January. By August of that same year, MSNBC was demonstrating its commitment to the Era of New Civility and Measured Discourse by giving Al Sharpton his own show. Even New York magazine noted early on that Sharpton’s “biggest opponent so far” was the teleprompter, and in the years since, Sharpton’s nightly “Resist we much!” battle with the teleprompter has become the stuff of legend.

But that didn’t stop Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC from telling NPR that “I’ve known [Sharpton] quite a bit. he’s smart. He’s entertaining. He’s experienced. He’s thoughtful. He’s provocative, all the things I think that MSNBC is.” And curiously, the NPR anchor was apparently non-horrified at that thought.

But today, after Sharpton-led protests have lead to an escalating spiral of violence culminating last night in the death of two NYPD patrolmen,  Peter Ingemi, writing at his Da Tech Guy Blog, has had enough:

You might say, “But DaTechGuy Mr. Sharpton has 1st Amendment rights” indeed he does, but said right does not extend to a programing on MSNBC, if that was the case then I would demand one myself.

I call upon the network to immediately “suspend” Mr. Sharpton and remove his show from their lineup.

It is their network and they of course have the perfect right to ignore my call for this action, conversely I have the perfect right to express my opinion that a failure to do so is a direct endorsement of the events of Saturday afternoon by MSNBC and by their parent company Comcast and consumers should act accordingly.

The Comcast contact page is here.

You can contact MSNBC here.

Or perhaps you might choose to contact their advertisers, I’m sure they must be delighted to have their brands associated with the face of the anti-police movement at this time.

Closing thought, If Comcast decides the Rev Al is a liability & removes him from MSNBC & said reverend’s followers quit the network in protest, would anyone be left watching?

Presumably, Phil Griffin believed that hiring Sharpton was a Corleone-level masterstroke: by having Sharpton on the NBC payroll, he’s not very likely to defenestrate another NBC or MSNBC anchor as he did to then MSNBC-star Don Imus in 2007. But Griffin had to know that he was making a Faustian bargain by hiring Sharpton.

However, reasonable people can disagree with Ingemi as to whether or not Sharpton should be dumped in the rapidly escalating wake of the violent protests Sharpton helped gin up. As with past anchors Keith Olberman at his must lunatic, Alec Baldwin at his most violent, and Martin Bashir at his most scatological, Al Sharpton is the spokesman for MSNBC — and Comcast — right now. After all, Sharpton is “all the things” its network president thinks “that MSNBC is.” as the network’s president says. And he’s a powerful daily reminder of just much hatred lurks in the hearts of the left:

Can the mayor of New York govern without the support of the police? We’re finding out right now, Roger Kimball writes:

Consider this exchange, overheard yesterday at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn:

De Blasio: “We’re all in this together.”
Unnamed police officer: “No we’re not.”

This was after police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, shot by a crazed black Muslim named Ismaaiyl Brinsley, had been pronounced dead but before the mayor and his entourage made their way through a hospital corridor jammed with police who turned their backs on the mayor, shunning him.

On December 3, in the aftermath of the death of Eric Garner, who died of a heart attack after resisting arrest, the mayor held a press conference and told the world that he worried that his biracial son Dante might be the victim of police brutality. “I’ve had to worry over the years,” de Blasio said, “Is Dante safe each night? And not just from some of the painful realities of crime and violence in some of our neighborhoods but safe from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors.”

Ten days later the mayor was back in front of the microphone praising the anti-cop protestors in New York for being peaceful. That was the protest at which one could hear this chanted refrain:

“What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!”

They got their wish.

It was during that pacific event that two police lieutenants were, as the New York Post  reported, viciously attacked by a mob.  The mayor described the attack as “an incident . . . in which a small group of protesters allegedly assaulted some members of the NYPD.”

“Allegedly.”

When my wife asked me last night why the NYPD loathe de Blasio so much, I quipped that as a young man, he read Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic as a how-to guide. I was being glib, but didn’t realize how close to the mark that was until I read this link later in Roger’s post, to a September 25th article in the New York Post titled “Top adviser to de Blasio dates a cop-bashing killer:”

A top adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio is in a live-in relationship with a convicted killer and drug trafficker who considers police officers “pigs” and continues to get into serious scrapes with the law, public records show.

For six years, Rachel Noerdlinger, who serves as chief of staff to first lady Chirlane McCray, has been living with boyfriend Hassaun McFarlane, sources told The Post.

While McCray, accompanied by Noerdlinger, enjoys attending high-level NYPD CompStat meetings, her top aide’s boyfriend has plenty of serious crime stats of his own — a rap sheet that includes homicide, conspiring to run a cocaine operation, and nearly running a cop off the road in Edgewater, NJ, last year in an incident that was later pleaded down to disorderly conduct.

Still, the administration is sticking by him, despite what DNAinfo.com, which broke the story, described as online posts — since taken down — in which he repeatedly called cops “pigs.”

Classy stuff. But still though, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the left in January of 2011, there’s no way you can attack a single organization for the crazed actions and statements of its more extreme members. Or non-members.

Or its clip art.

Update: And speaking of radical chic:

 

Quote of the Day

December 20th, 2014 - 5:18 pm

The two officers [Wenjin Liu & Rafael Ramos] were pronounced dead at Woodhull Hospital, where their colleagues and family members huddled tearfully.

City Council President Melissa Mark-Viverito and Mayor Bill de Blasio were less than welcome guests at the poignant gathering.

“We’re all in this together,” the mayor told grieving cops, according to a cop who was there.

“No we’re not,” one officer said tersely in response.

“Gunman executes 2 NYPD cops as ‘revenge’ for Garner,” the New York Post, today.

Incidentally the phrase “We’re all in this together” has echoes back to Terry Gilliam’s dystopian masterpiece Brazil, where it was a frequently-uttered slogan. Presumably de Blasio views the movie as a how-to guide to good government. Gilliam certainly does these days.

Update: “VIDEO: NYPD officers turn away from Mayor de Blasio as he enters police presser for murdered cops.”

And at Instapundit, the “Tweet of the Year.”

Its Orgin and Purpose, Still a Total Mystery

December 20th, 2014 - 3:25 pm

That’s the shot (literally, alas). Here’s the chaser:

 

Related:

Twitchy has a round-up of initial “f*** the pigs”-style tweets from those expressing sympathy for the shooter and his “unclear” motives, a a thoroughly depressing but necessary archive, as some will likely be deleted upon further consideration.

Update:

More from Rick Moran at the PJ Tatler.

The Next Late Shift Writes Itself

December 20th, 2014 - 1:42 pm

Hey, remember when December used to be a slow month for news? But with the MSM and Hollywood committing Seppuku on multiple fronts (mass resignations at TNR, Rolling Stone’s UVa rape fable, and Sony’s eagerness to surrender to both North Korea and Al Sharpton), it’s been quite a month in the media wreckage business.

When Chris Hughes imploded the New Republic to kick December off, I wrote:

Incidentally, earlier in her article, [Bloomberg's Megan McArdle] writes, “But even by my profession’s cinematic standards, [Chris Hughes' TNR debacle] is going to be one for the Criterion Classics collection.” Heh. If a decent comedy screenwriter could be found, it would certainly make for a great made-for-TV movie along the lines of HBO’s The Late Shift or its likely inspiration, Larry Gelbart’s satiric 1993 adaptation of Barbarians at the Gate.

In the meantime, a riveting documentary about a magazine with an eccentric plutocratic socialist leader and aggrieved staff exists already: The September Issue, on Vogue magazine in 2007. It really does have a Last Days of Pompeii feel to it, seeing as it was filmed a year before the housing bubble blew up the economy, followed by Barack Obama getting to work at fundamentally transforming America to a standard that TNR could finally give its blessing to.

Today at NewsBusters, Jeffrey Lord asks, “Will Seth Rogen and Hollywood Make the Movie on the Sony Cave-In?”

So now that the North Koreans are taunting Sony and all of Hollywood, rubbing their face in this, isn’t it time for Rogen and all of Hollywood to pull together and stand up for the First Amendment? For creative expression? Doing this by making the Sony counterpart of the Edward Snowden film being made by Oliver Stone? Sending a defiant response to North Korea and tyrants everywhere not just from Seth Rogen but the entire American film industry?

If ever there is a film that begs to be made — with an entire industry that should be leaping to lend their talents — it would be the story of Sony, Seth Rogen’s film and the terrorists of North Korea’s Communist dictatorship.

Or is it just those who reveal US government secrets that Hollywood chooses for cinematic glory? The hypocrisy coming out of Hollywood is so thick it would take a chain saw to even make the first surface cut.

As Lord writes, “don’t bet the rent that this film will ever be made,” and of course he’s right. For one thing, it would expose, as Lord writes, Tinseltown’s utter hypocrisy on the issues of hacking and doxing:

But when it comes to, say, US government secrets? Oliver Stone is on the job with an as yet untitled film glorifying Edward Snowden, with Snowden already the subject of the documentary Citizenfour. Steven Spielberg is on the job with The Fifth Estate, glamorizing Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and starring Hollywood’s latest heartthrob Benedict Cumberbatch. And don’t forget the 2003 TV movie starring James Spader as Daniel Ellsberg in The Pentagon Papers.

The reviews of those upcoming films by Stone and Spielberg write themselves, don’t they? But it’s too bad that there may never be a documentary about Sony’s implosion, as film about a film studio being hacked, having racist emails published, shelving a film to appease Kim Jong-Il, and then turning around and handing their hoden in a lockbox to Al Sharpton would be an incredible film, whether it’s a documentary or a swinging Late Shift-style satiric farce.*

As the late Gene Siskel famously said, “I always ask myself, ‘Is the movie that I am watching as interesting as a documentary of the same actors having lunch together?’” And this would make for a much more compelling 90 minutes than that. But unfortunately, modern Hollywood probably lacks both the brains and the hodens to make it.

* Currently on Amazon Prime Video, incidentally, and well worth your time if you haven’t seen it.

Baby, There’s a Lot of Hoden Angst Outside

December 20th, 2014 - 11:11 am

“When the Pillsbury Doughboy from Hell tries to tell us what kind of movies we can make or see, the only honorable response is ‘Go f**k yourself,’” Jonah Goldberg writes in the latest edition of the G-File, which imports the potentially trendsetting  phrase “hoden angst” into America:

I made a similar point in my review of Dinesh D’Souza’s book The Enemy at Home years ago. D’Souza argued — plausibly! — that the Western decadence celebrated by the Left made it harder to win over socially conservative Muslims abroad. I think he’s right; I just don’t care. I think Miley Cyrus’s prime-time slatternly gyrations are an embarrassment and a sign of a real sickness in our culture. But if such behavior makes a bunch of murderous fanatics want to blow up Americans, that’s on them. As I wrote in the CRB:

. . . In short, D’Souza is right that the bawdy spectacle of Hollywood and the Left sometimes makes America’s job harder.

But here’s my primary objection: I don’t care. There’s something about The Enemy at Home that gets the Irish up, even in a guy named Goldberg. I can criticize and complain about my brother all I like, but if my brother bothers somebody outside the family, well, that’s just too bad. Similarly, Ted Kennedy may or may not be a Caligulan carbuncle, but if the jihadists want to behead him for it, they’ll have to get through me first. In short, if our debauchery fuels Islamic terrorists to kill us, the blame for that still resides entirely with the terrorists. One can wholeheartedly agree that some Americans make poor use of their freedom, and that certain behavior shouldn’t be promoted, but that’s our problem. And if it makes it harder for us to make our case to the Muslim world, then harder it must be.

The collective U.S. response to North Korea’s assault on Sony has been disgusting and dispiriting. I don’t think we should bomb North Korea over this (and not because I am against bombing North Korea per se, but because I think the costs of doing so outweigh the benefits), but the correct response is to flip Kim Jong-un the bird. What form that bird-flipping would take is open to debate. I’d like it if the TV networks all ran The Interview at the same time. I’d like Barack Obama to call the leaders of the House and Senate to a private screening of The Interview at the White House, just like Woodrow Wilson did with Birth of a Nation. Let’s play the thing on the Jumbotron in Times Square. Simply put, I want America to have some balls about this kind of thing. Instead we’re paralyzed with hoden angst.

(Quick explanation: I had a friend in college who told me about his high-school football or track coach, I can’t remember which. The coach was from Germany. He used to berate the boys about their fear of getting hit in their giggleberries. He would shout at them, “You must get over your hoden angst.” “Hoden” in German means “testicles.” Angst means fear, worry, anxiety. After we heard this term, a bunch of us would, in our best Schwarzeneggerian/SNL accents, walk around telling each other “Girly man, you must lose your hoden angst!” (Other friends of mine briefly named their band “Hoden Angst”) (“I’m losing track of all the parentheticals,” — The Couch)).

As far as worrying about American debauchery angering our enemies, it’s utterly impossible to appease them, as Mark Steyn noted at the start of the month, almost three weeks before co-chairman Scott Rudin and others at Sony caved over its Seth Rogan comedy and Paramount pulled its own (coincidentally?) Scott Rudin-produced 2004 film, Team America, World Police:

A few decades back, a young middle-class Egyptian spending some time in the US had the misfortune to be invited to a dance one weekend and was horrified at what he witnessed:

The room convulsed with the feverish music from the gramophone. Dancing naked legs filled the hall, arms draped around the waists, chests met chests, lips met lips . . .

Where was this den of debauchery? Studio 54 in the 1970s? Haight-Ashbury in the summer of love? No, the throbbing pulsating sewer of sin was Greeley, Colorado, in 1949. As it happens, Greeley, Colorado, in 1949 was a dry town. The dance was a church social. And the feverish music was “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” as introduced by Esther Williams in “Neptune’s Daughter.” Revolted by the experience, Sayyid Qutb decided that America (and modernity in general) was an abomination, returned to Egypt, became the leading intellectual muscle in the Muslim Brotherhood, and set off a chain that led from Qutb to Zawahiri to bin Laden to the Hindu Kush to the Balkans to 9/11 to the brief Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt to the Islamic State marching across Syria and Iraq. Indeed, Qutb’s view of the West is the merest extension of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” — America as the ultimate seducer, the Great Satan.

I’m a reasonable chap, and I’d be willing to meet the Muslim Brotherhood chaps halfway on a lot of the peripheral stuff like beheadings, stonings, clitoridectomies and whatnot. But you’ll have to pry “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from my cold dead hands and my dancing naked legs. A world without “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” would be very cold indeed.

Of course, for Sony, things have only gotten worse: in addition to appeasing the likes of Kim Jong-un (let alone the successors to Sayyid Qutb), as Roger L. Simon writes today, Sony Pictures has just knuckled under to an equally powerful enemy of America: Al Sharpton.

No wonder Sony is so full of angst — in the course of one week from hell, they’ve surrendered the entirety of their hoden.

“Oh, God, while the Sony situation isn’t funny George Clooney’s reaction to it certainly is,” Moe Lane writes. “Well, not Good Funny.  This is Bad Funny… anyway, let’s go over who Clooney blames, shall we?”

As Moe notes, between the media, trial lawyers, movie executives and Obama,”That’s… a large cross-section of the Establishment Democrats’ supporters up there, huh?”

We’re just missing the academics, Big Labor, and Big Green.*  George Clooney thinks of all of these people as being a bunch of cowards, which is certainly true; but what he’s apparently not getting (while sounding like quite the fire-eating Republican on this issue, might I add) is that they didn’t become cowards overnight. This is, in fact, pretty much reflective of the standard operation procedure that’s been adopted by the Other Side over the last few decades; and forgive me for saying this, but that’s why they were targeted. Nobody over there wanted to fight.

Alternate headline: Man who made film declaring fighting communism a witch hunt wakes up one day to discover that there actually are real Capital-C Communists in the world. And they’re very bad people. Even worse than the inhabitants of film studio boardrooms. (And that’s saying something.)

* Clooney’s most hilarious pro-environmental statement was in 2011, when promoting his vanity film The Ides of March with his fellow leftists at the L.A. Times said that he wanted to see the internal combustion engine banned by executive fiat, so to speak:

“If we’re cut off from oil, we will find a way to power our cars. So say it and make it happen,” Clooney said. “It’s not ridiculous. It is possible. And these are the kind of leadership things I would love to see and could be argued about. People will say, ‘It’s just actors.’ But I truly believe it.”

This from the man who owns a Lexus, a Carrera, and a ’59 Corvette. Of course, to paraphrase something Virginia Postrel once said to Brian Lamb, North Korea’s start-from-zero let ‘em eat grass and ride bicycles basket-case economy is a Hollywood environmental fascist’s dream come true. One in which, Kim Jong-un always gets the final cut, in every way imaginable.

“Just think of them as Democratic operatives with bylines and you won’t be far wrong.”

It Looks Like You’re Going to Need a Bigger VCR

December 19th, 2014 - 10:55 am

Video: “The Top Five Liberal Lies for 2014.” as spotted by the Media Research Center, and it must have been quite a challenge whittling this down to just two minutes and five lies. As our own David P. Goldman, the aptly (self)-named “Spengler” writes, the left is basically just doing politics as performance art at this point. But it galls them that we know it’s performance art, and are laughing at the cut-rate kabuki.

Oh, and speaking of being called on her cut-rate kabuki, “Oh, so Now Donna Brazile is mad at the IRS?”

Hey, it’s not like they were on the Axis of Evil of anything:

North Korea has similarly denied the massive hack of Sony Pictures, which has been forced to cancel next week’s planned release of “The Interview,” a comedy about an assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

But KCNA applauded the attack.

“The hacking into the SONY Pictures might be a righteous deed of the supporters and sympathizers with the DPRK,” it said, using the acronym of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “The hacking is so fatal that all the systems of the company have been paralyzed, causing the overall suspension of the work and supposedly a huge ensuing loss.”

Experts point to several signs of North Korean involvement. They say there are similarities between the malware used in the Sony hack and previous attacks against South Korea. Both were written in Korean, an unusual language in the world of cybercrime.

“Unfortunately, it’s a big win for North Korea. They were able to get Sony to shut down the picture. They got the U.S. government to admit that North Korea was the source of this and there’s no action plan really, at least publicly no action plan, in response to it,” said Cha. “I think from their perspective, in Pyongyang, they’re probably popping the champagne corks.”

I didn’t see the segment, but my wife was telling me that when she caught a few minutes of CNN while having lunch with some business associates today, everyone the network interviewed was angry with Sony (this was before news of Paramount knuckling under as well) for capitulating to North Korean demands to censor their media. Which seems rather paradoxical, given that, as is their wont with any socialist dictator*, CNN gave in to North Korean censorship long ago:

And let’ss not forget this infamous 2005 segment with the network’s goofy far left founder. Ted Turner red-lined the Godwin meter in interviews when he learned that Fox News was launching in the mid-1990s. But when faced with a 21st century national socialist regime, he was quite happy to sing their praises, the very definition of the phrase “useful idiot”:

* Foreign and domestic.

But then, it’s not like most MSM outlets don’t have a similarly huge mote in their eye on the issue of choosing self-censorship over advancing the First Amendment:

Update: From Ace, “What Exactly Has North Korea Done That Progressives Don’t Do Every Single Day?”

A professor blogged a criticism of a teaching assistant, who’d discussed gay marriage in her classroom, but then shut down all dissent, claiming dissent to be illegitimate (per his claim).

Result? The university is “investigating” him and has suspended him from all teaching duties.

Ace’s headline resonates particularly strongly here in California, where Sacramento’s first impulse is to ban everything. Not to mention at CNN, which has a pretty strong ban everything instinct as well. As does MSNBC, where “Lawrence O’Donnell probably would have pulled ‘The Interview’ too,” his associate Chris Hayes tweeted tonight.

Pages: 1 2 | 21 Comments»

Come on, man,” Ed Morrissey implores. Paramount bans showings of Team America: World Police in place of The Interview”:

Oh, the irony. After Sony cancelled the release of The Interview, a few theaters declared that they would show the 2004 hit Team America: World Police in its place as a protest against threats to free expression. That film also derided the government of North Korea, as well as the liberal Hollywood establishment that catered to anti-American despots in what was a prescient (if irreverent and very R-rated) satire.

As if to emphasize the latter critique, two cinemas have announced that Paramount Pictures has forbidden them to show the film publicly:

According to IMDB, Team America, while distributed by Paramount, was produced by Scott Rudin, the embattled (and uber-manic) Sony Pictures executive being eaten alive by the North Korean hacking scandal.  I wonder if he put in a frantic call to Paramount to have Team America banned as a substitute for the latest anti-North Korean movie whose production he led. (If so, the Norks will likely let us know in their next round of hacks.)

A few years ago, when TCM or AMC reran Bob Hope and Bing Crosby’s Road to Morocco, a 1942 Paramount production, I remember thinking, it’s a good thing this film is grandfathered in, as there’s no way Hollywood would make this movie today, in today’s leftwing hypersensitive, comedy-killing “multicultural” era. That iteration of Paramount was made of sterner stuff — but who knew that the 2004 version of Paramount was as well?

A couple of years after Team America snuck past Paramount’s leftwing censors, Mark Steyn had Hollywood’s number down pat: “Hollywood prefers to make ‘controversial’ films about controversies that are settled, rousing itself to fight battles long won”:

Say what you like about those Hollywood guys in the Thirties but they were serious about their leftism. Say what you like about those Hollywood guys in the Seventies but they were serious about their outrage at what was done to the lefties in the McCarthy era — though they might have been better directing their anger at the movie-industry muscle that enforced the blacklist. By comparison, Clooney’s is no more than a pose — he’s acting at activism, new Hollywood mimicking old Hollywood’s robust defense of even older Hollywood. He’s more taken by the idea of “speaking truth to power” than by the footling question of whether the truth he’s speaking to power is actually true.

That’s why Hollywood prefers to make “controversial” films about controversies that are settled, rousing itself to fight battles long won. Go back to USA Today’s approving list of Hollywood’s willingness to “broach the tough issues”: “Brokeback and Capote for their portrayal of gay characters; Crash for its examination of racial tension . . .” That might have been “bold” “courageous” movie-making half-a-century ago. Ever seen the Dirk Bogarde film Victim? He plays a respectable married barrister whose latest case threatens to expose his homosexuality. That was 1961, when homosexuality was illegal in the United Kingdom and Bogarde was the British movie industry’s matinee idol and every schoolgirl’s pinup: That’s brave. Doing it at a time when your typical conservative politician gets denounced as “homophobic” because he’s only in favor of civil unions is just an exercise in moral self-congratulation. And, unlike the media, most of the American people are savvy enough to conclude that by definition that doesn’t require their participation.

A KNOWN WOMAN These films are “transgressive” mostly in the sense that Transamerica is transsexual. I like Felicity Huffman and all, and I’m not up to speed with the latest strictures on identity-group casting, but isn’t it a bit condescending to get a lifelong woman (or whatever the expression is) to play a transsexual? If Hollywood announced Al Jolson would be playing Martin Luther King Jr., I’m sure Denzel Washington & Co. would have something to say about it. Were no transsexual actresses available for this role? I know at least one, personally, and there was a transsexual Bond girl in the late Roger Moore era who looked incredibly hot, albeit with a voice several octaves below Paul Robeson. What about that cutie with the very fetching Adam’s apple from The Crying Game? And, just as Transamerica’s allegedly unconventional woman is a perfectly conventional woman underneath, so the entire slate of Oscar nominees is, in a broader sense, a phalanx of Felicity Huffmans. That’s to say, they’re dressing up daringly and flouncing around as controversy, but underneath they’re simply the conventional wisdom. Indeed, “Transamerica” would make a good name for Hollywood’s view of its domestic market — a bizarro United States run by racists and homophobes and a poodle media in thrall to the administration.

And nearly a decade later, that’s still how, in its heart of hearts, Hollywood would prefer to view America:

 


A few months ago, John Nolte of Big Hollywood was excoriated by the left for daring to predict that Time-Warner-CNN-HBO would eventually ban DVD sales or streaming of Blazing Saddles. But he was certainly on to something: Hollywood likely doesn’t want to admit that its earlier executives were made of much stronger stuff than those running the town now.

Update: At the Washington Free Beacon, Sonny Bunch documents the “Signposts of a Broken Culture:”

Think about this for a second. What we are saying—nay, what we have accepted, as a society—is a situation in which a totally blameless third party would be held responsible for the evil committed by an irresponsible actor. Sony and the theater chains are being punished for the mere potential of a terror attack against them.

I joked with a friend that tort reform immediately became my number one concern for 2016. He pointed out, rightly, that this is a much larger issue. Tort reform? That’s just futzing around at the edges. Our problem runs much, much deeper than concerns over insurance costs for doctors. Our true problem is that, again, we have accepted, as a society, that it’s okay to sue a party for the bad behavior of a second party even if the first party has no role whatsoever in the malfeasance.

“This is also totally and completely bonkers,” Bunch writes, before concluding that “We made this world. [Sony's] just living with the rules we adopted.” I’m not sure who “we” is, but I do know the top five list of Obama donors in 2012 include both Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of DreamWorks, and Steve Mostyn, “a Houston-based personal injury attorney.” We now know which industry blinked first in that equation.

obamacare_wheel_mud_big_11-3-13

“You can’t attribute the entire mess to one cause, but it certainly didn’t help [Democrat Governor Peter Shumlin's] case to have Jonathan Gruber involved in the project to the tune of roughly $400K. The voters probably weren’t looking forward to being lectured on videotape about how stupid they are in 2015:”

But perhaps the most telling feature of this staggering failure was the fact that the plan could not work without a massive influx of federal dollars. They were not able to secure a guarantee that the money would be available and the project went under. Now imagine scaling that up to a national single payer plan. Who would be available further upstream to help fund that? Nobody. The money would all have to be extracted from the taxpayers and every business in the country. And if we managed to pull it off you could soon be enjoying the benefits of waiting for years to get an appointment or some critical surgery.

Vermont is clearly a leader in socialist experimentation. In this case they may have actually provided us with a valuable lesson in what not to do.

That’s been Vermont’s primary role in the Union for well over a quarter of a century.

How bad has the state become?

As unlikely as it may seem, a prime area for heroin users is now the sleepy state of Vermont. On Wednesday [in January of 2014], Gov. Peter Shumlin’s entire State of the State address was devoted to what he called Vermont’s “full blown heroin crisis.” Vermont now has the highest rate of illicit drug use in the United States.

That bad.

Asking the Important Questions

December 18th, 2014 - 10:29 am

Should All Women On Campus Be Allowed to Openly Carry A Handgun Since President Obama Claims There’s A Rape Epidemic? Are You Pro-Rape If You Want to Deny A Women Their Constitutional Right to Defend Themselves Against A Rape Culture?”

In answer to the first question, what, and actually give up being victims? In answer to the second, I’m sure if asked to Barry, Joe, Hillary, and virtually every college dean, they’d be quick to reply that hey, it’s not an epidemic-epidemic, to paraphrase Whoopi Goldberg’s defense, of you know, a rapist.

Of course, there’s an alternative approach that could be tried as well…

Update: And speaking of gun bans — in this case, toy gun bans — what could go wrong here?

More: Potemkin numbers, all the way down.

Shep Smith Fails the Ailes Test

December 17th, 2014 - 8:18 pm

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

[Roger Ailes] offered [self-admitted Democrat Chris Wallace] the job of hosting Fox’s Washington Sunday morning talk show—Rupert Murdoch’s favorite program— on two conditions. “Roger told me, ‘I want you to be equally tough on Republicans and Democrats. And I want to know if you can get up in the morning and not think that America is to blame for most of the world’s problems.’” Wallace assured Ailes that he could deliver on both counts, and went on the air in early December 2003.

—Zev Chafets, Roger Ailes: Off Camera, 2013.

Flash-forward to today, where Allahpundit catches Shep Smith wondering, is America about to “ruin” Cuba?

Actual quote about an honest to goodness police state, no apparent irony intended: “The last thing they need is a Taco Bell and a Lowe’s.”

Two ways to read that, I guess. One is that he’s objecting to having the wrong priorities, not to American businesses invading the island. Cubans need basic necessities, not fast food. Get a couple of Charmin factories in there churning out TP and that’d be a corporate move worth applauding. But wait — if that’s his point, why’s he reminiscing at the start of the segment about the sweet-ass four-dollar Cuban rum he likes to bring back whenever he travels there? That’s not a necessity. Which brings us to theory two: This is exactly what it sounds like, a guy seemingly willing to trade away greater prosperity for Cubans if it means Americanizing the island in return for preserving the quaint, simple culture that decades of authoritarianism and economic retardation have produced. It’s basically the “noble savage” view of economics. What doth it profit a Cuban to gain a middle-American depot for cheap building materials if he lose his cheap-rum-making soul? Where are we going to go to watch people riding around in 60-year-old Studebakers now?

Ahh, omnipotent tourism syndrome — even a Fox anchor isn’t immune: