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Ed Driscoll

Punks, Meet the Godfather

April 19th, 2014 - 9:18 pm

Oh, that higher education bubble.

“It appears that the decline of standards — indeed, the abolition of any standards at all — has come to the world of college debate,” John Hinderaker writes at Power Line, before quoting an ugly-sounding passage from the Atlantic:*

On March 24, 2014 at the Cross Examination Debate Association (CEDA) Championships at Indiana University, two Towson University students, Ameena Ruffin and Korey Johnson, became the first African-American women to win a national college debate tournament, for which the resolution asked whether the U.S. president’s war powers should be restricted. Rather than address the resolution straight on, Ruffin and Johnson, along with other teams of African-Americans, attacked its premise. The more pressing issue, they argued, is how the U.S. government** is at war with poor black communities.

In the final round, Ruffin and Johnson squared off against Rashid Campbell and George Lee from the University of Oklahoma, two highly accomplished African-American debaters with distinctive dreadlocks and dashikis. Over four hours, the two teams engaged in a heated discussion of concepts like “nigga authenticity” and performed hip-hop and spoken-word poetry in the traditional timed format. At one point during Lee’s rebuttal, the clock ran out but he refused to yield the floor. “Fuck the time!” he yelled.

I think it’s a very safe bet that in less enlightened days, that last quote would be grounds for an instant forfeit, but “Progress” marches on. Or, “Forward!” as they say at MSNBC and the Obama administration.*** In any case, about 15 minutes after reading that quote at Power Line, I downloaded Charles Murray’s new book, The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead: Dos and Don’ts of Right Behavior, Tough Thinking, Clear Writing, and Living a Good Life into my Kindle and came across this passage early in the book:

5. On the proper use of strong language.

One of the things that curmudgeons have a hard time believing about the twenty-something generation is that the f-word in all its variants has become for many of them just another word, not much more intense than darn was for my generation. But people who are in a position to know have persuaded me that it has become just another mild expletive among a good many Millennials. Even so, my advice is that you never use it around senior executives unless you know for a fact that they use it freely themselves.

* * * * * * * *

It’s not that curmudgeons don’t use the f-word. Some don’t — a surprising number of highly successful people don’t swear at all — but most of us (including me) do. But we try to use strong language appropriately, and that’s the point of the rest of this tip. Life’s vagaries confront us with situations that call for us to express the full range of reactions. One of the glories of the English language is that it has vocabulary that can be called upon for all those situations. The heedless younger generation has frittered away that patrimony. Explain it to me: If you use the f-word as a kind of oral punctuation mark, how do you convey to your fellow human beings that you are really, truly shocked or angry about something? Say it five times in a row? The dialogue on some cable TV shows suggests that is indeed today’s solution. It’s pathetic. What’s true of the f-word is also true of the other classic Anglo-Saxon monosyllables. Their ubiquitous use is tiresome and pointless, casts a thin coat of grime over the conversational landscape, and degrades your ability to draw upon their shock value when needed.

* * * * * * * *

[A]bstaining from casual obscenity gives you the aura of an adult. Maybe I’m just out of touch, but ask yourself if I might be right: No matter how commonly the classic Anglo-Saxon monosyllables are used, they continue to carry with them a whiff of the jejune. In some small way, they say to those around you, “See, I’m still not a grown-up.” That’s not something you really want to advertise in a job setting.

I would definitely recommend that the would-be debaters quoted above read Murray’s Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead. But then, halfway through the book, based on what I’ve read so far, I would recommend that just about everyone under the age of 40 read it as well.

* Of course, the decline of standards came to the Atlantic itself sometime in the last decade, manifesting itself last year in spectacular fashion in print, and more subtly behind the scenes.

** Lyndon Johnson, call your office.

*** As with many examples of America’s declining standards, Britain got there first, thanks to their own “Progressives.” In 2012, Theodore Dalrymple explored “How polite Britain became addicted to foul language.”

History’s Second Greatest Monster

April 19th, 2014 - 7:00 pm

In “Charlie Chaplin, monster,” Roger Lewis of the UK Spectator reviews a new biography of the other world figure of the first half of the 20th century with the tiny mustache, and finds him to nearly as tyrannical in his own way:

No actual birth certificate for Charles Spencer Chaplin has ever been found. The actor himself drew a blank when he went on a rummage in Somerset House. The latest research suggests that he was born ‘in a gypsy caravan in Smethwick, near Birmingham’. But surely the truth has been staring people in the face ever since the Little Tramp first popped on the screen: Chaplin is the lost twin of Adolf Hitler.

Peter Ackroyd almost suggests as much. Both men first drew breath in April 1889. They had drunken fathers and nervous mothers. There were patterns of madness and illegitimacy in the family tree. They were short and sported an identical moustache. They had marked histrionic skills, each man ‘appealing to millions of people with an almost mesmeric magic’. They were despotic towards underlings — and Chaplin’s The Great Dictator is less political satire than back-handed homage. Hitler watched it at a private screening — twice.

Which dovetails eerily well with this 2006 observation by Ron Rosenbaum, the author of the 1998 book, Explaining Hitler:

And speaking of trivializing, there is no more trivializing, over-rated, treatment of Hitler than Chaplin’s dimwitted, laboriously unfunny Great Dictator. Yes Chaplin made some funny movies, but when he tried his hands at politics Chaplin made a movie that did nothing but help Hitler because he made him seem like an unthreatening clown just at a time, 1940, when the world needed to take Hitler’s threat seriously.Yet Chaplin’s film makes it seem like Hitler was nothing but a harmless fool (like Chaplin, same mustache and all). And he made it at a time, during the Nazi-Soviet pact, when the world most needed to mobilize against Hitler’s threat. And yet Chaplin, to his eternal shame ended the film not with a call to oppose fascism, and its murderous hatred, but rather—because he was following the shameful Hitler-friendly Soviet line at the time—ended his film with a call for all workers in the world to lay down their arms—in other words to refuse to join the fight against fascism and Hitler.

Today, the left seamlessly transmit their memes through an endless variety of media, but even in 1939 and ’40, what Rosenbaum describes above was a multimedia theme of the left while the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact was in force, until Hitler violated it in 1941, much to Stalin’s shock. Chaplin in film, Dalton Trumbo in print, and Pete Seeger in song (when he wasn’t swindling obscure black South African artists out of millions in royalties.)

Within the film industry itself, Chaplin was the precursor to much of the business’s darker side: Like Stanley Kubrick, another obsessive, vertically challenged director, Chaplin’s “one unfulfilled ambition was to star in a biopic about Napoleon,” Lewis writes. And speaking of Kubrick, Lewis asks, “Did Chaplin inspire Nabokov to write Lolita? He’d have been a better Humbert Humbert than James Mason.” Which brings us to the similarities between Chaplin and his cinematic successor in the second half of the 20th century:

The girls he liked were dewy 15-year-olds — he’d wait until they were 16 before he married them, when they’d find themselves mistress of a large mansion in Beverly Hills and a body of servants, plus an obligation to the School Board of Los Angeles ‘to continue their education’. As with Woody Allen, Chaplin could help his brides with their homework — or maybe not. ‘Charlie married me and then he forgot all about me,’ was a frequent complaint cited in divorce hearings. He was always off chasing fresher meat, painting his private parts with iodine to ward off the clap. Louise Brooks was terrified to see his ‘bright red erection’ coming at her in the dark.

On that note, do I even need to add, read the whole thing?

(Found via the Brothers Judd; headline inspired by H.J. Simpson.)

The other night, after staying up too late watching an episode of Rumbole of the Bailey on the Acorn channel on my Roku set-top box, I clicked over to the Vemo channel. Acorn is devoted to classic British TV series, such as the Poirot murder mysteries, Brideshead Revisited, Edward & Mrs. Simpson, and the aforementioned Rumbole, starring veteran British actor (and occasionally scenery devouring over-actor) Leo McKern in the eponymous role. Vevo is an entirely different channel, one that also has a large YouTube presence, as a repository for rock videos old and new. At the start of the week, while listening to Sirius-XM on headphones while working, I heard Aerosmith’s “Jaded” song from 2001 for the first time in ages, and Joe Perry’s riff, which sounds inspired by Jimmy Page’s sharp-suspended fourth riff on Led Zeppelin’s “Dancin’ Days” rapidly became an earwig, playing over and over in my head.

So I thought I’d check out the video for the song, since Vevo generally does a very good job with running the videos in HD with full-range audio. And really – who doesn’t conclude a segment from a 1978 Thames Television show about an aging British barrister by saying, “Well, now that I’ve seen Rumpole of the Bailey, it’s time for some classic Aerosmith!” But I’m me, and that’s how my brain works, after years of having been badly mutated through massive Chernobyl-level  overdoses of pop culture.

While Vevo’s clips are free to watch, they’re often preceded by commercials for various products that sponsors believe would be appropriate for a rock video audience. However, in this case, the video was not preceded by a commercial, but by a public service announcement (PSA) designed to encourage young people to stop smoking.

Through the use of the most disgusting imagery possible.

The PSA began with a young man entering a convenience store and asking for a pack of cigarettes. Plunking a five dollar bill and his ID on the counter, he asks the clerk, “This enough?” Whereupon the clerk says, “Nope, there’s one more thing I need” – and proceeds to rip the customer’s front teeth out with a pair of pliers.

As James Lileks would say, pure 100 proof nightmare fuel.

Once the pliers came out, I averted my eyes until Steve and Joe and the boys began playing. I understand that not everyone realizes that excessive smoking can have injurious effects on a person’s dentition — and that Seinfeld is no longer on the air to remind them of this fact. At which point the juxtaposition was grimly hilarious, considering that Steve Tyler and Joe Perry used wear T-shirts in their rock videos describing themselves as “the Toxic Twins” – by the late 1970s and early ‘80s, before they went through maximum-strength rehab, puffs from a Marlboro 100 were by far the healthiest thing they were putting into their bodies.

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The Latest Beauty Treatments from Adobé

April 18th, 2014 - 7:02 pm

“PhotoShop whiz transforms this model in 37 seconds,” Rare.us notes.

Yes, it’s amazing what those fine skincare treatments from the Adobé line of cosmetics can accomplish:

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) intensified his criticism of armed militia members supporting rancher Cliven Bundy, calling them “domestic terrorists.”

“They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists,” Reid said Thursday at an event hosted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, according to the newspaper. “I repeat: what happened there was domestic terrorism.”

“Reid: Bundy backers ‘domestic terrorists,’” The Hill today.

On the Senate’s first day back since an Arizona gunman critically injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others, Majority Leader Harry Reid urged his colleagues to join him in a more civil debate over the chamber’s upcoming legislative fights over health care, deficit reduction and the debt limit.

“There is no evidence that partisan politics played any role in this monstrous attack. Even so, we should be more civil anyway. Being more mindful of the weight of our words always helps. We have much more to gain than to lose from civility and discretion. …” Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said Tuesday morning in his opening remarks on the Senate floor.

“Some may be inspired by the town halls of two Augusts ago. Others by the heated election debates. Some may be motivated by the conversation that started after Arizona. And many will seek more civility simply because it’s the right thing to do,” Reid added. “Whatever the reason, I hope the turn to more responsible rhetoric is more than empty rhetoric. I intend to do my part.”

“Reid calls for civility in wake of Tucson,” The Politico, January 25, 2011.

“I hope the turn to more responsible rhetoric is more than empty rhetoric. I intend to do my part.”

Feel free to begin anytime you like, champ.

Reid’s latest rhetorical meltdown (and he’s had so many of them already) is on top of Joe Biden calling the Tea Party terrorists as well in 2011, at least according to the Politico.

Of course, if they really were domestic terrorists, future Democrat presidents would be launching their political bids in their homes, they’d be getting fat book contracts and tenure at prestigious universities, Rolling Stone would be running Jim Morrison-esque cover stories, the New York Times printing up fawning profiles, and Robert Redford would be making sympathetic movies about them.

By the way though, if you’d like to say thanks to Senator Reid for his latest Profile in Rhetorical Courage, you can leave your compliments on his Facebook page

Through a Google Glass, Darkly

April 17th, 2014 - 11:52 pm

1984-not-a-users-guide

In the mid-1960s, George Plimpton signed an insurance waiver, donned an NFL helmet and uniform, went through training camp, and played a few downs of preseason football for the Detroit Lions to describe what it was like to see the world through the eyes of an NFL quarterback. In the new issue of the Weekly Standard, Matt Labash plunks down $1,500 (“$1,633.12 with tax,” he adds) to be a beta tester for Google, and describe what it’s like to see the world through Google Glass, the first device since the Segway that simultaneously places its user both on the cutting edge of 21st century technology, and makes him appear as a dork ripe for satire.*

Along the way, Labash encounters several creepy moments — such as Google contacting him out of the blue, perhaps based on their examining the material he’s been compiling via his Google Glass, and then this moment inside a “hillbilly bar” in Rockville Maryland, the sort of place where where Labash can wear his “futuristic face computer into these bastions of the past and report the results:”

We order a pitcher of beer, and after two glasses of lubricant, I lunge into the crowd, taping people, telling them I’m taping them, basically being a Glasshole, just trying to get a rise.

I can’t seem to agitate anybody. One guy asks me, “Can we put it on?!!!” Another tough guy wants to know, “How do you scroll?” Others take pictures of me with their iPhones. Everybody’s so used to being Instagrammed, Tweeted, and Facebooked​—​what’s one more on the dogpile? Most of them, I’m told, work for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, just down the road. (“Montgomery County is totally being taken over by government drones,” Eddie says.)

Finally, a whiskered older gent in a blue-crab-adorned Maryland sweatshirt that reads “Don’t bother me, I’m crabby” squares up to me. It seems he’s been eavesdropping on my conversations, and I’m guessing he’s about to tell me where I can put my Glass, which is still rolling. His name is Charles Wilhelm, a retiree who used to work for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Just so he’s clear, I inform Wilhelm that I’m taping him with my face. Then, I prepare to take my medicine.

“It doesn’t matter,” he says. Huh? “Because you’ll find in this society, we’re all subject to videotaping.” But, I point out to him, I’m a private citizen, taping another private citizen for no compelling reason. Just because I can. What if he were here with his girlfriend instead of his wife, and I posted it on the Internet? “So?” he shrugs. “Really, so that’s it?” I ask him. “Yes,” he says, nonchalantly. “Why?” I ask. “Because I’m a follower of George Orwell’s 1984, and so I’m a believer in the concept of community observation.” I point out that I’m fairly certain Orwell was trying to make the opposite point, that his was a critique, not an endorsement, of a surveillance society.

“I disagree,” he replies, obstinately. “Because in my view, you would have less terrorism if you had more observation by the state.” I wave my hand at the surrounding khakis, pointing out that I’m fairly certain I’m not recording any terrorists in Hank Dietle’s. “That’s irrelevant,” huffs Wilhelm. “You can still explode a fairly good device.”

“And maybe this is it,” I say, pointing to my Glass.

“So what’s your point?” he asks. I tell him I’m just giving him a hard time. “Have a good evening, sir,” Wilhelm says brusquely, stomping off.

I trudge back to my table, defeated, relaying the conversation to Eddie, who is gobsmacked. “So he read [1984] as utopia instead of dystopia?” Seemingly, he did​. ​I give up.

That’s just a taste of Labash’s 10,000 word article; definitely port the whole thing into your cerebellum through whichever downloading technique you prefer. (Those not yet retrofitted with bioports for instant media assimilation will have to simply read the article.)

Of course, even in San Francisco, whose city government — and presumably, a pretty good chunk of the electorate who vote for them — similarly view 1984 as a how-to guide to better living through totalitarian oligarchies, Google Glasses are despised. Earlier in Labash’s article, he retells the story of the women who had her Google Glass smashed in a San Francisco punk rock bar in February — funny how people in bars don’t really like being recorded, eh? Particularly by someone who goes in shouting of “I want to get this white trash on tape!” and flipping the bird to your fellow tipplers, while wearing a Star Trek prop on her face.

In a recent post at the Daily Caller, Jim Treacher (who makes a few snarky cameos via Twitter and Instant Messenger in Labash’s article) Describes another incident involving Google Glass in happy, peaceful, tolerant San Francisco:

Sometimes a theft is just a theft. But not when the item being stolen is Google Glass, and especially not when the victim is a tech writer in San Francisco.

Kyle Russell, Business Insider:

On Friday night, I was assaulted while walking down the sidewalk in the Mission District of San Francisco.

A colleague and I had just finished covering a march in protest of a Google employee who had recently evicted several tenants after buying and moving into a home in the area…

The aforementioned colleague and I were on our way to the 16th Street BART station — I’ll note that I wasn’t using any device at the time — when a person put their hand on my face and yelled, “Glass!”

In an instant the person was sprinting away, Google Glass in hand.

I ran after, through traffic, to the corner of the opposite block. The person pivoted, shifting their weight to put all of their momentum into an overhand swing. The Google Glass smashed into the ground, and they ran in another direction.

The thief and vandal hasn’t been caught. And to young Mr. Russells’s surprise, people on Twitter haven’t been very nice about it:

Wow, if you can’t Start From Zero and reprogram basic human emotions in San Francisco, where can you reprogram them?

* I haven’t tried Google Glass yet, but I can vouch firsthand for the simultaneous bleeding edge/endorkening effect of riding a Segway, as this February 2002 blackmail photo shot inside the offices of Segway’s PR firm for a magazine article illustrates.

I never posted anything to mark the 12th anniversary of my blog last month, but this Tweet by Rob Nebbell, aka N.Z. Bear, found by Moe Green, sure brings back memories. I’m there at about nine o’clock on the above chart. As for how I made it into the Blogosphere, well, an article I wrote on the nascent Blogosphere, based on interviews with a few of the same folks in the above chart — and written almost the same time as  Rob’s was crafting it — has you covered.

And while my blog is positively paleolithic, if you really want to feel old, just watch:

As I posted in the comments at Ricochet in response to the above video, if you really want to blow the minds of these impressionable tykes, hand ‘em a 12-inch laser disc.

Pangender’s Game

April 17th, 2014 - 3:27 pm

“Adventures in Gender Neutral Bathrooms,” a recent post at the College Fix blog, is the launching pad for Roger L. Simon’s latest article at PJM, “College: The Sixty-Five Thousand Dollar Misunderstanding:”

And the cost of this misunderstanding has expanded exponentially  - to sixty-five thousand dollars!  That’s the current approximate total for room, board and tuition at many of our finest private universities for those considered “fortunate” enough to be able to pay the full amount.  For others it can be anything from ten to forty grand, still a princely amount.

And what are we parents getting for this (besides broke)?  The College Fix’s editor Nathan Harden gives us a look in a report today — “Adventures in Gender Neutral Bathrooms” — that begins:

When you really have to pee at Columbia University, there is one question that must be answered before you can go: What is my gender today?

If you are biologically male, for instance, but feel like a female, you may feel the need to use the ladies restroom. And why shouldn’t you? If the girl in the stall next to you doesn’t like to take her pants down next to a man she doesn’t know, that’s just evidence of her hetero-normative bigotry. That’s why the Obama administration ruled in 2012 that dudes who feel like ladies have a right to use the women’s bathrooms on campus, no matter how unsafe that makes the women on campus feel.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t have anything against everyone  having his, her or [question mark's] bathroom.  In fact, I read in Slate there are now fifty-six genders on Facebook and  if they each want their own baths, or to share forty-eight of them,  I say knock yourselves out. But — excuse me for being heteronormative or, worse than that, for using caps — I DON’T WANNA PAY FOR IT!!! — either via taxes or tuition.

If you missed it, the Slate article from February that Roger links to is an astounding bit of sophistry, but just when you thought it was safe to venture out of the multi-gendered bathroom, comes word from “Think” “Progress” that the very air that you breathe is — of course! — racist. (Link safe, goes to Twitchy):

A study produced by the University of Minnesota concluded that race is a determining factor in who is most affected by air pollution. Specifically, non-white people breathe air that is substantially more polluted than the air that white people breathe.

According to Julian Marshall, who led the University’s research, race outweighed income in regards to who is most affected by poor air quality. When low-income white people were compared to high-income Hispanic people, the latter group experienced higher levels of nitrogen dioxide. Altogether, people of color in the U.S. breath air with 38 percent more nitrogen dioxide in it than their white counterparts, particularly due to power plants and exhaust from vehicles.

The creator of Twitchy proffers a modest proposal:


Pro-PRC spokesman Thomas Friedman says it’s a remarkably enlightened place to live. Just be sure to pack a (gender neutral) gas mask.

In related news

Gore cited two “game changers” in recent years that will help. The first is the growing realization from even climate-change deniers that something seems to be strange with the weather. The second is the exponential growth in photovoltaic solar panels, driven largely by consumer demand for lower prices.

The “barriers” to doing something about climate change are business and political interests that profit off of fossil fuels — “dirty energy that causes dirty weather.” He compared fake science from polluters stating that humans are not to blame for the climate to tobacco companies that used to hire actors to play doctors who denied cigarettes were dangerous.

“That’s immoral, unethical and despicable,” he said of both.

Says the immoral, unethical and despicable man whose business and political interests profit off of fossil fuels.

Finally, one more from the indoctrination camps formerly known as academia: “Where’s the feminist anger at Brandeis over Ayaan Hirsi Ali?” In the eye of the hurricane, whipping it up, writes Stacy McCain.

Dispatches from Time-Warner-CNN-HBO-BHO-DNC

April 17th, 2014 - 1:15 pm

“Dee Dee Myers to Join Warner Bros. as Head of Communications,” Glenn Reynolds notes, describing it as “The Political-Entertainment Complex” in action:

“Dee Dee Myers, once the White House press secretary to Bill Clinton, will be joining Warner Bros. as executive vice president for worldwide corporate communications and public affairs, the studio said on Wednesday. Ms. Myers is not the first political operative to join Hollywood’s ranks. Jim Kennedy, recently named to the top communications post at News Corp. after serving in similar jobs with the Sony entertainment operations, for instance, had also served in the Clinton administration, and was once a deputy press secretary in the White House.”

Plus: “Ms. Myers’ husband, Todd Purdum, is a senior writer for Politico and was formerly a correspondent for The New York Times.”

Perhaps it’s necessary to swap journalists between Time-Warner-CNN-HBO and the Democrat Party to maintain an even balance of propaganda: Time-Warner-CNN-HBO trundles Jay Carney off to be Mr. Obama’s press secretary (and keeper of pro-totalitarian propaganda); Myers is dispatched to a division of Time-Warner-CNN-HBO.

In any case, the interconnections between Time-Warner-CNN-HBO-BHO-DNC definitely puts the zero into zero sum game.

Oh and speaking of Carney:

JAY CARNEY: I remember we had some discussion during 2012 about well, is it appropriate for the president, the sitting president and candidate, to give interviews with Jon Stewart and others. And the answer was yes, again because the young voters we were trying to reach are more likely to watch The Daily Show than some other news shows. But also, I think if you look back at 2012 and the series of interviews the sitting president of the United States gave, probably the toughest interview he had was with Jon Stewart. Probably the most substantive, challenging interview Barack Obama had in the election year was with the anchor of The Daily Show. (A Conversation with Jay Carney at George Washington University, April 17, 2014)

Note that in 2004, Stewart was also likely the only talking head to ask then-presidential candidate John Kerry about Cambodia in light of the Swift Boat Vets’ ads — and as I noted back in August of 2004, even Stewart got a non-answer from the legendary leftwing flip-flopper.

I’d ask the MSM if they’re proud of themselves, but as a group made up largely of Democrat Party operatives with bylines (to coin an Insta-phrase), the answer is: of course they are.

“Is Vladimir Putin Another Adolf Hitler?”, asks Paul Johnson at Forbes. Yesterday, I wrote, “The verdict is out on that,” when I linked to the piece. Mea culpa — I wrote that before seeing this headline, from Bridget Johnson (no relation, to the best of my knowledge to the Modern Times author) at the PJ Tatler: “Chilling: East Ukraine Jews Ordered to Register with Pro-Russia Authorities.”

Bridget writes:

Israel’s Ynet News is reporting on a chilling flier given to Jews in the eastern Ukrainian province of Donetsk, ordering them to register with the local authorities:

A leaflet distributed in Donetsk, Ukraine calling for all Jews over 16 years old to register as Jews marred the Jewish community’s Passover festivities Monday (Passover eve), replacing them with feelings of concern.

The leaflet demanded the city’s Jews supply a detailed list of all the property they own, or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportion and see their assets confiscated.

Ace of Spades was initially skeptical of the authenticity of leaflets:

Unless those distributing the leaflets think Jews Control The World and hence that any perceived threat to Ukraine’s Jewry would result in NATO storming in to repel the Russian insurgents.

Which is its own issue.

Update: I needn’t have been as skeptical as I was. They’re real.

From USAToday:

The leaflets bore the name of Denis Pushilin, who identified himself as chairman of “Donetsk’s temporary government,” and were distributed near the Donetsk synagogue and other areas, according to the report.Pushilin acknowledged the flyers were distributed by his organization but he disavowed their content, according to the web site Jews of Kiev, Ynet reported…

So Pushilin says he doesn’t agree with the order, but acknowledges his men are in fact ordering Jews to register.

Jesus wept.

And Barry and Joe took selfies:

(more…)

Paul Johnson: ‘Shades of Munich’

April 16th, 2014 - 6:50 pm

“Is Vladimir Putin Another Adolf Hitler?”, asks Paul Johnson at Forbes. The verdict is out on that — though I’m sure he’d want to be another Stalin, which is as equally bad — and as Johnson writes, the 21st century does not lack for Chamberlains:

What’s to stop Putin? The West is led by the modern equivalents of Chamberlain: President François Hollande of France is a political nonentity repudiated by his own compatriots; Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany have both ruled out the use of force to stop Putin from annexing Ukraine; and worst of all, President Barack Obama–the one man who has the power to stop Putin in his tracks–does nothing. He makes Neville Chamberlain seem like a bellicose activist.

The U.S. is the richest country in the world. Thanks to the fracking revolution, it has the means to meet the energy needs of all the former Soviet states. Its fleets and armies make Russia’s much reduced military power seem puny. It could move troops and aircraft into Ukraine within 24 hours, and its fleets could ensure protection to the Baltic states in a way that Putin would find unanswerable. Yet Obama makes no decisive moves. What ails the man? Is it cowardice? Indecision? A kind of executive paralysis he tends to display when firmness is called for? Clearly there’s something fundamentally wrong with the U.S. President. Meanwhile, Putin, who runs what is, in essence, a second-rate nation with a weak and declining demographic structure, behaves as if he rules the Earth.

Sadly, there is no Churchillian voice to sound the alarm and call the democratic world to action.

Comparing Obama to Chamberlain? Hey, it’s not like with staggering naivete, the president promised the world “Peace In Our Time,” or anything.

Oh wait

Oh and speaking of Obama as Chamberlain, as Richard Fernandez noted last night at the Belmont Club, the president stands ready to offer American assistance to Ukraine…minus any “lethal assistance,” of course:

The Voice of America carries a similar account. “WHITE HOUSE — The Obama administration has suggested that Ukraine’s operations against pro-Russian separatists are justified, but that the U.S. is not considering providing lethal assistance.”

US Backs Ukraine’s Separatist Crackdown

Without going as far as stating U.S. support for the Ukrainian government’s decision to send in tanks and troops, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters the United States appreciates Ukraine’s pledge that it will act responsibly and gradually against the separatists who have taken over government buildings and other facilities.

This brings to mind Obama’s “support” for Syrian rebels without providing any “lethal assistance”.   The president once again declares he stands ready to support his allies to the limit of his teleprompter. But about all else he has provided besides are a few containers of MREs.

One might well ask: of what does the administration’s support consist except an shouted exhortation from well to the rear to advance “responsibly and gradually”? It’s a phrase that sounds more like an slogan against drunk driving than the tocsin of resistance.

As Richard notes, “An endorsement without muscle may be worse than no endorsement at all.”

Conservatives in the Mist, Yet Again

April 16th, 2014 - 3:03 pm

Sally Kohn explains “What I learned as a liberal talking head on Fox News” to the Christian Science Monitor:

My time at Fox News was marked by meeting and working with some of the kindest, smartest, and most talented people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in life. As I said in my TED talk, Sean Hannity is one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet – and even now that I’ve parted ways with Fox, he remains a good friend and mentor.

For a radical progressive who once harbored negative stereotypes about folks on the right, it was a turning point for me to meet people such as Mr. Hannity, Karl Rove, Monica Crowley, Sarah Palin, and so many others, and see that – though we certainly disagree profoundly on political issues – they’re personable and kind and human. Just like me.

It’s strange to suggest that a seemingly simple realization such as that is in fact a profound revelation, but in our hyperpartisan era, when we often vilify the other side as being less-than-human, it is.

Which sounds almost exactly like what liberal Fox pundit Kirsten Powers said to Real Clear Politics’ Carl Cannon a couple of months ago:

Cannon began by asking Powers how she is treated by her Fox colleagues. He recalled that New York Times’ conservative columnist David Brooks was not well-received when he first started writing for the Times and asked if Powers had encountered a similar experience.

“People are really nice at Fox,” Powers revealed. “It’s been good for because I – before that, I lived in a real liberal bubble.”

“All my friends were liberals and I grew up in a really liberal family,” she continued. “I had a lot of ideas about conservatives and then I got to Fox and just, I was like, ‘Oh, they’re not all evil and stupid.’”

As I noted back then, Kirsten Powers was living out Krauthammer’s Law:

I realize she’s speaking glibly and off-the-cuff, but the inference is that on some level, Powers actually did believe that all conservatives are evil, thus butting up against fellow Fox News pundit Charles Krauthammer’s law of politics from over a decade ago. “To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil,” Krauthammer wrote in 2002.

Similarly, in response to Kohn’s article, Warner Todd Huston writes in the comments at Hot Air today:

You DO realize that there is a MAJOR admission in that op ed, right? She is essentially admitting that through most of her adult life she thought conservatives were evil… until, well into her late 30s, she finally MET SOME!

Sally Kohn lived in a liberal bubble for nearly all her life until 2 years ago she finally met some conservatives and discovered *gasp* they aren’t all like little Hitlers.

I’m glad that Kohn and Powers have granted those on the right are, as Kohn notes, “personable and kind and human. Just like me.” But why did it take working among them to make the epoch-shattering discovery* that half the country are actual flesh-and-blood humans and not The Other?

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Workers Versus Takers

April 16th, 2014 - 11:49 am

“86M Full-Time Private-Sector Workers Sustain 148M Benefit Takers,” Terence P. Jeffrey writes at CNS News.com:

All told, including both the welfare recipients and the non-welfare beneficiaries, there were 151,014,000 who “received benefits from one or more programs” in the fourth quarter of 2011. Subtract the 3,212,000 veterans, who served their country in the most profound way possible, and that leaves 147,802,000 non-veteran benefit takers.

The 147,802,000 non-veteran benefit takers outnumbered the 86,429,000 full-time private sector workers 1.7 to 1.

How much more can the 86,429,000 endure?

As more baby boomers retire, and as Obamacare comes fully online — with its expanded Medicaid rolls and federally subsidized health insurance for anyone earning less than 400 percent of the poverty level — the number of takers will inevitably expand. And the number of full-time private-sector workers might also contract.

Eventually, there will be too few carrying too many, and America will break.

Something that can’t go on forever won’t, to coin a phrase.

God and Tania at Yale

April 15th, 2014 - 8:16 pm

Cults In Our Midst: Patty Hearst And The Brainwashing Of America,” examined by Stella Morabito at the Federalist:

The Fundamental Transformation of Patty Hearst

So that’s what it looked like to an impressionable, politically unseasoned contemporary. But what was going on in the background?

Hearst’s 1983 book Every Secret Thing describes the kidnapping and the aftermath in meticulous, ghastly detail. Hearst also granted a fascinating interview with Larry King in 2002.

For several weeks, she was blindfolded, confined to a smelly closet, tormented, periodically raped, and subjected to a coarse Maoist style program of indoctrination and re-education. Her life depended on anticipating and meeting the demands of her captors. The leader Donald “Cinque” DeFreeze and the others propagandized and interrogated her constantly, explaining that “Amerikkka” was a racist and evil society, repeatedly calling her a privileged “bourgeoise bitch” and her father a “pig” of the “corporate fascist state.” But then her captors would let up a bit, offering food or tea—then continue more intensely with cruelty and degradation.

This cycle—isolation, threats, and humiliation, punctuated by a little peace (reward) for compliance—broke down Hearst’s sense of self. As she later told Larry King, “Most of the time I was with them, my mind was going through doing exactly what I was supposed to do… I had no freewill.”

So pretty much like life at the average elite university, minus the increasingly swanky dorms — which if you read on, is sort of Morabito’s point. No wonder they morphed into Occupy gangs so easily.

occupy_wall_street_and_mom_10-2-11

Update: Once successfully brainwashed, it is necessary to re-educate the victim about the basics of society — and reality in general — at an extremely slow pace, lest potentially debilitating shock and trauma occur.

Two CNNs In One!

April 15th, 2014 - 5:09 pm

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

A new video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years. And the CIA and the Pentagon either didn’t know about it or couldn’t get a drone there in time to strike.

“Unsettling video shows large al Qaeda meeting in Yemen,” CNN, today.

Are “right-wing” extremists more dangerous than Al-Qaeda terrorists? According to CNN’s National Security Analyst Peter Bergen, they are. In a CNN commentary posted yesterday Bergen wrote, “U.S. right wing extremists [are] more deadly than jihadists.” He also also happens to be a director for the George Soros-funded liberal New America Foundation. What a coincidence.

 Bergen claimed that “white supremacists, anti-abortion extremists and anti-government militants have killed more people in the United States than have extremists motivated by al Qaeda’s ideology.” He cited a New America study which counted 34 people killed by right-wing extremist acts and just 23 people killed by Al Qaeda-linked terrorism, after 9/11. Why start there? Wouldn’t the 2,977 people killed that day by jihadists skew those findings somewhat?

The count included “hate crimes” in the tally of “political reasons.” Which is funny considering that Bergen cited the Southern Poverty Law Center in his article. The SPLC could be accused of a “hate crime” itself for inciting the shooting at the Family Research Council in 2012. Floyd Lee Corkins admitted that he targeted the conservative organization after the SLPC listed the FRC as a “hate group” for it’s “anti-gay” stance on marriage.

The study’s tally seemed suspect as well, considering that they counted domestic disputes where police officers are killed as “hate crimes” influenced by “political reasons.” For example, they included a 2009 shootout in a Pittsburgh home where Robert Poplawski  killed three police officers after his mother called the police during an argument. Later it was revealed that Poplawski had anti-Semitic views and was an alleged skinhead.

—”On Boston Bombing Anniversary, CNN Analyst Says U.S. Right-Wing Extremists Kill More Than Jihadists,” Newsbusters, today. At Big Journalism, John Nolte adds:

Bergen just happens to be a research assistant at the New America Foundation and apparently his colleagues chose to overlook cop killer Chris Dorner and the left-wing manifesto he left behind that expressed some real affection … for CNN employees.

Today, April 15, just so happens to be the one-year anniversary of Bergen using CNN’s airwaves to speculate that right-wing groups might be behind the Boston Marathon bombing. Bergen is apparently using today’s hysterical piece of selective, anti-science analysis to balm that embarrassment.

By publishing this junk, CNN is merely doing what CNN has been doing all throughout the failed Zucker-era: trolling the bottom of the barrel for attention.

“The media literally has the same storyline one year later,” Ace writes in response to the second link. “Nothing is ever learned; nothing ever changes.”

Except that the viewers have tuned out — knowing that Time-Warner-CNN-HBO is essentially accusing half their potential audience of being worse than Islamic terrorists — when they aren’t accusing them of being Islamophobes. As Ricochet’s Troy Senik has noted, “Populism’s Hard When You Don’t Like the People.”

Biden: Boston Bombing was ‘Worth It’

April 15th, 2014 - 4:38 pm


.

And to think how close we came in 2008 to having a vice president whose phrasing and sentence choices during speeches we’d have to parse and explain and justify.

Either America’s oldest living graduate of the Vic Arpeggio Hipster Speech Academy is saying that what the survivors went through during the terrorist attack last year was worth it — losing loved ones and/or being injured themselves — as some sort of catharsis, or that it was worth it for Joe himself to benefit from hearing their statements. Either way doesn’t speak well of the man.

On the other hand, this speech, and Joe’s willingness to at least be in the same room with victims of Islamofascist terrorism puts him one up on his boss.

Exit tweet, via Twitchy:

Update (4/16/14): Welcome those clicking in from:

And the PJM homepage.

diet_koch_can_2-24-11-2

In response to self-hating Democrats discovering themselves awash in Koch Brothers money, as Thomas Lifson writes at the American Thinker, “Glenn Reynolds realized the electoral gold. He suggested (in his trademark all-caps):”

“I SUGGEST RUNNING THIRD-PARTY ATTACK ADS TO ENCOURAGE DEM VOTERS TO STAY HOME.”

As Lifson writes, “Brilliant! The ads practically write themselves:”

Mary Landrieu’s Majority Leader says the Koch Brothers are un-American. embedded by Embedded Video
Download Video . So why did Mary accept $11,000 from Koch employees? Louisiana voters deserve better.

Rick Moran points out that Democrats used this tactic to great effect in 2012, driving down GOP turnout by 3 million.

Best of all, this sort of ad can be funded by 510 c 4 organizations, as voter education. No need to advocate a specific candidate. So, potentially, the Koch Brothers could  write the checks to blanket states and districts with vulnerable Dems.

Via Truth Revolt and the Weasel Zippers, here’s the list of potential candidates to target:

koch_to_dems_4-14-14

 

Pompeii With Jet Packs

April 15th, 2014 - 11:48 am

“From the Ford Mustang to colonies on the moon: Predictions that the 1964 World’s Fair got right… and what it got very wrong,” offered up by the London Daily Mail. Though I’m not sure I agree with all of their choices for what the 1964 World’s Fair got right:

At the Bell System pavilion, engineers touted a ‘picturephone’ that allowed callers to see who they were talking to, a concept that lives on in modern-day apps such as Skype and FaceTime.

At the time, though, picture phones didn’t take off, said Lori Walters, history professor at the University of Central Florida.

She attributed that to high setup costs that made them accessible to relatively few.

And at a time when many men attended the fair in coat and tie and women in dresses, people weren’t quite ready to be seen on the phone at any hour, in their pajamas or worse.

‘We were still a little more of a formal society,’ Walters said.

Yes, just a little more.

The concept of the Picturephone eventually arrived as an option in the last decade for those who want to see the person on the other end, thanks to the Internet, Skype, and business video conferencing. But the original notion was that the Picturephone would entirely replace the phone in much the same way that television supplanted radio. (A medium, that come to think of it, is also still doing rather well.)

But what really makes these photos fascinating is that they visualize the last gasp of optimism in the overculture, arriving six months after JFK was assassinated and a year or so before LBJ believed that the government could do anything — and worse, everything — simultaneously: manned moon landings, Vietnam, Medicare, and end poverty simultaneously. When his Texas Sized rehash of the New Deal failed, and chaos reined from 1967 through 1968 and beyond, distraught liberals and the angry punitive New Left decided to take it out on the rest of us, resulting in the cynicism and doomsaying that would dominate the late ’60s and much of the 1970s. Just compare the tone of the ’64 World’s Fair and its audience of cool early Mad Men-styled men and women in the photos at the London Daily Mail with the tone of the collapsed overculture of the following decade:

(Via 5′F)

Update: Gee, this wasn’t the Kennedy-era headline I had been hoping to see repeated in 2014.

Oh, that punitive liberalism:

Under California law, the Franchise Tax Board has the “presumption of correctness,” meaning that the onus always is on Hyatt to disprove what the tax officials say. And, he argues, they keep changing their stories and their allegations, thus resulting in more years of legal expenses and disputes.

“It’s ruined my life. They keep coming up with these intensive positions, many hundreds of pages of allegations and such that we have to try and disprove decades later and it’s just very consuming,” Hyatt told me in an interview last week. “The FTB is out to get taxpayers’ money and it will go to extreme ends to get money whether it is entitled to it or not….”

The state controller’s office has yet to review the newly filed lawsuit. But former Board of Equalization member Bill Leonard, a former Republican Assemblyman, believes the state government is abusing rules designed to give taxpayers every opportunity to appeal a judgment to drag out a case against a taxpayer. The Legislature could fix the problem with a law granting a right to speedy trial on tax matters, he added.

It’s hard not to conclude that California’s tax agency is out of line as it continues to run up administrative and legal fees — not to mention risking potential multimillion-dollar liabilities — to pursue a decades-old dispute over where a taxpayer lived for six months. There’s a troubling lesson here for wannabe entrepreneurs, who might want to think carefully about their residency before they hit the big time.

Read the whole thing.

So in-between shaking down entrepreneurs and inventors, how’s California doing managing its own money?

Calpers also notes that “the economic impact of CalPERS benefits far exceed initial taxpayer contributions.” Lo, the fund claims to return $10.85 in “economic activity” for every dollar taxpayers contribute, which would make public pensions the best government stimulus of all time.

Their crude economic calculation is something to behold. The fund estimates that employer contributions account for 22% of every dollar in pension benefits, which would equate to $2.8 billion for the fiscal year 2011. Calpers then contrives a 2.39 “multiplier” from a “Social Accounting Matrix” to compute that its $12.7 billion in annual retiree payments generated $30.4 billion in economic activity and 113,664 jobs—more than a third of the state’s employment growth that year.

Note: White House economists used a multiplier of a mere 1.5 to arrive at their off-the-wall estimate that the stimulus program would create 3.7 million jobs.

Here’s a more honest accounting of Calpers’s economic “impact.” California taxpayers have sunk about $70 billion into Calpers over the last decade, which they otherwise could have spent on more productive enterprises or pursuits. For every one dollar workers contribute to their retirement, taxpayers are investing two. Local sales and property taxes have risen to pay for increasing pension payments. Public workers have also been laid off and infrastructure delayed—all of which has depressed economic growth.

Why, it’s as if Sacramento is absolutely determined to transform the formerly Golden State into the next Detroit.

Related: “Republican National Committee Marks Tax Day by Suing IRS,” Bridget Johnson writes at the PJ Tatler.

Breaking News From 1977

April 14th, 2014 - 10:50 pm

“Glow-in-the-dark roads make debut in Netherlands,” Wired magazine’s UK branch reports:

Light-absorbing glow-in-the-dark road markings have replaced streetlights on a 500m stretch of highway in the Netherlands.

Studio Roosegaarde  promised us the design back in 2012, and after cutting through rather a lot of government red tape we can finally see the finished product.

One Netherlands   news report said, ”It looks like you are driving through a fairytale,” which pretty much sums up this extraordinary project. The design studio like to bring technology and design to the real world, with practical and beautiful results.

Back in October 2012, Daan Roosegaarde, the studio’s founder and lead designer, told us: “One day I was sitting in my car in the Netherlands, and I was amazed by these roads we spend millions on but no one seems to care what they look like and how they behave. I started imagining this Route 66 of the future where technology jumps out of the computer screen and becomes part of us.”

Huh. I started imaging the HO scale slot car set in my basement from 1977:

The real-life glow-in-the-dark road certainly looks cool, in a cross between Tron and the above Tyco slot car set. But I can imagine plenty of unintended consequences with the streetlights gone from the highways:

What’s your take on this experiment? Would you want to see it replicated on a highway you regularly traverse?