Over at the PJ Lifestyle blog, I have an interview with Jimmy Wallace, the creator and prime mover behind the annual Dallas International Guitar Show, now almost 40 years old, which starts tomorrow and through Sunday at Dallas’s Fair Park. If you’re at the show tomorrow and see me, stop by and say hi.
“I finally found a Mexican willing to do a job no American will do!” Coulter quips. “I have an explosive book on the No. 1 issue in the country coming out next week, I’ve already written 10 New York Times best-sellers — I’d be on a postage stamp if I were a liberal — but can’t get an interview on ABC, NBC or CBS. Only Mexican-born Jorge Ramos would interview me on his Fusion network. Yay, Jorge!” The other interviewers were likely terrified that Coulter would ask questions back to the interviewer. And no Democrat operative with a byline wants to be caught blurting this out:
After Ramos said he thinks “diversity” is “fantastic” and “beautiful,” Coulter wrapped the full segment with a question of her own for him.
“We have taken in one quarter of the entire Mexican population,” Coulter asked him. “At what point will we have taken in enough, in your view?”
That’s where Ramos made his stunning admission.
“I think that with the legal system—“ he started to answer.
“Half the Mexican population? The entire Mexican population?” Coulter kept pressing.
“No, I think with the legal system we wouldn’t need and we wouldn’t be having hundreds of people dying crossing the border,” Ramos replied.
“That isn’t an answer to the question,” Coulter corrected him. “One quarter of the Mexican population. How much more do we have to take?”
Ramos dodged again, essentially admitting he supports no limit whatsoever.
“It’s an economic situation,” he said. “As long as you have people here who need immigrants and workers and as long as you have workers needing a job, they’re going to be coming here. It’s an economic situation.”
So in other words, as Matthew Boyle paraphrases at Big Government, Jorge’s admits his dream boils down to “Bring All of Mexico to Live Here.” Hey, it’s not like the US has been having structural unemployment issues, particularly involving large percentages of unemployed minorities. Or as A. J. Delgado wrote at NRO last year, “Black Americans: The True Casualties of Amnesty.”
Also in Boyle’s article, don’t miss Coulter’s calculation that there are nearly three times the numbers of illegal immigrants in the US, calculated via a careful reading of the numbers generated by that house organ of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, Time magazine.
“Chris Cuomo to Pam Geller: We don’t show Mohammed cartoons for the same reason we don’t use the N-word,” as Allahpundit writes at Hot Air on perhaps the ultimate example of a Democrat with a byline employed CNN, a division of Time-Warner-HBO:
Via the Blaze, the key bit starts at 3:50. This is transparently false, of course, but it’s telling that he’d reach for this analogy for the cartoons instead of another obvious example of blasphemy like “Piss Christ.” The word “nigger” became taboo because Americans became more conscious of the injustices of racism. It’s been expunged from polite society due to a cultural consensus that blacks were treated shamefully and that equality requires eschewing words that had been used as tools of intimidation. The power dynamics behind the Mohammed cartoons are the opposite of that. The fear isn’t so much that the minority will feel intimidated by the majority if the taboo is dropped, the fear is that members of the majority will end up being machine-gunned by fringe members of the minority. That’s why the media never thought twice about showing “Piss Christ” or giving rave reviews to “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway. Christians and Mormons might have been offended but they weren’t intimidated by the insult, and there was next to zero risk that any of them were going to go blow up theaters and art galleries in protest.
As I said, CNN is a cog in the mega-corporation that is Time-Warner — and so is HBO, which I doubt very much censors the N-word from Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, or from its follow-up, Jackie Brown, about which Spike Lee claimed the N-word is spoken 38 times. Until recently, Time-Warner also owned multiple record labels and their publishing houses. How much do they censor the N-word from their rap artists?
Related: “DC Metro Suspends All Political Issue Ads, Rather than Run Pam Geller’s Mohammad Ad.”
When the trailers for Tomorrowland played at my local theater and made the rounds on the Internet, I admired the glittering digital effects, but waited to read the initial reviews before seeing it, as I knew that anything starring George Clooney had to be packing a huge leftwing sucker punch in there somewhere. And of course, it turned out to be the obvious one — global warming. (Shocker!) As Rick McGinnis writes at The Rebel (H/T: Kathy Shaidle), “Tomorrowland chokes on a big, fat Green pill:”
The damning verdict on mankind’s self-sabotage is delivered in a bombastic, furious speech by Hugh Laurie’s Governor Nix, the film’s affably caustic villain. But hold on – by Tomorrowland’s logic, aren’t we the real villains, snuffing out the future as we despoil the planet despite the warnings subliminally beamed to us by Nix from Tomorrowland’s cosmic wifi?
As Pogo the possum said in Walt Kelly’s comic strip, “We have seen the enemy and he is us,” and it is still some kind of heavy s***, apparently.
Laurie’s speech – and the whole clanking ecogeddon conceit – sits astride the film like a colossal choking bolus, a sour, finger-pointing jeremiad that kills the hurtling action dead, and forces anyone who doesn’t worship the gospel of Green and its sackcloth truisms abruptly out of the story and into an eye-rolling frenzy.
If you’re looking for some kind of internal logic, give up now. Our loss of faith in the future and the technology that was supposed to take us there is the tragic condition that Bird and Lindelof make their film’s foundation. And yet the same technology that harvests energy and improves crop yields, enables travel at once-implausible speeds and makes cities denser yet healthier places to live than they ever were is the villain that robbed us of that future.
Ponder this message for a minute, and then wonder that no one who read Tomorrowland’s script ever drew a red line through Laurie’s big scene and said, “OK – right here. You’ve lost me.”
There is, to be sure, a great film – still unmade – about our loss of faith in a better world we imagined so fervently in the shadow of two world wars. But a new kind of faith – the gospel of Green and all of its logic-busting assumptions – has clouded reason and, almost like collateral damage, ruined what could have been a great little film about wonder and optimism and scientific inspiration.
At the Washington Post, Sonny Bunch adds that the filmmakers have met the enemy and he really is us. To paraphrase Bertolt Brecht’s legendary quote about socialism (see also, previous post on Bernie Sanders), Disney and their fellow Democrat stenographers with media bylines seem to think it would be easier to dissolve the audiences and elect another, after “‘Tomorrowland’s’ dour brand of optimism proves a hard sell:”
As is usually the case when something flops pretty hard, the Hollywood press is searching for answers. This time around, the wheel of blame landed on “audiences.” “As much as people claim they love fresh and unique movies, they’re more likely to shell out money for sequels and reboots,” writes Brent Lang at Variety.
* * * * * * * *
Allow me to suggest, though, that “Tomorrowland” had bigger problems than a recalcitrant audience. Moviegoers didn’t shy away from Clooney’s latest picture because it was an original property or because they were in search of “noisy thrills and dumb jokes” (of which “Tomorrowland” certainly had plenty). They avoided the film because Hollywood didn’t know how to sell its rather scolding message of spiritual uplift.
Lang hints at this problem. “Disney may have erred in keeping too many of its secrets close to the vest,” he writes. “Aside from a magical pin, Clooney as a crusty inventor and a few sequences of spaceships hurtling through what appeared to be a cornfield, it wasn’t always clear what the movie was about.”
After seeing the flick, one can understand why the Mouse House obscured the plot: “Tomorrowland” is less a kid-friendly action-adventure flick than a moralizing tale that demands we as a society shed our pessimism and embrace a more optimistic outlook — or die horribly.
There’s another issue at work, which John Nolte of Big Hollywood has written about for years: George Clooney is beloved in Hollywood because he’s a great looking guy and outspoken “old-time liberal and I don’t apologize for it,” as he once described himself in an interview. Which is why, other than his all-star Oceans 11 caper franchise, he’s not quite the surefire box office draw that Hollywood believes he is. There are some actors whose myriad personal quirks and idiosyncratic beliefs can be overlooked because audiences are reasonably assured that for their $10+ ticket and a similar amount for popcorn and a Diet Coke, they’ll likely receive a solid two hours of stuff gettin’ “blow’d up real good,” as legendary film critics Big Jim McBob and Billy Sol Hurok used to say. (I’m looking at you, Tom Cruise.) But with Clooney, the reverse is true, which is why he’s often a recipe for under-performance at the domestic box office.
But still isn’t that for the best, considering that the less movie theaters in operation, the less air conditioning being used, the less DVDs being sold (as enviro-obsessive James Cameron once told an interviewer while hawking his own DVDs!) and the less people attending the related theme park rides. Plus, smaller payoffs for the One Percent. Too bad in this case the One Percent turn out to be socialist Hollywood stars and executives, but hey, I’m sure for a price, Giorgio Armani’s Beverly Hills boutique can custom-tailor a fine hairshirt.
“Bernie Sanders, the Brooklyn socialist who represents Vermont in the Senate, generated a great deal of mirth on Tuesday when he wondered aloud how it is that a society with 23 kinds of deodorant and 18 kinds of sneakers* has hungry children,” Kevin D. Williamson writes at NRO:
Setting aside the fact that we must have hundreds of kinds of deodorant and thousands of choices of sneakers, Senator Sanders here communicates a double falsehood: The first falsehood is that the proliferation of choices in consumer goods is correlated with poverty, among children or anybody else, which is flatly at odds with practically all modern human experience. The reality is precisely the opposite: Poverty is worst where consumers have the fewest choices, e.g., in North Korea, the old Soviet Union, the socialist paradise that is modern Venezuela, etc. The second falsehood is that choice in consumer goods represents the loss of resources that might have gone to some other end — that if we had only one kind of sneaker, then there would be more food available for hungry children.
Lest you suspect that I am distorting the senator’s words, here they are:
You can’t just continue growth for the sake of growth in a world in which we are struggling with climate change and all kinds of environmental problems. All right? You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country. I don’t think the media appreciates the kind of stress that ordinary Americans are working on.
This is a very old and thoroughly discredited idea, one that dates back to Karl Marx and to the anti-capitalists who preceded him. It is a facet of the belief that free markets are irrational, and that if reason could be imposed on markets — which is to say, if reason could be imposed on free human beings — then enlightened planners could ensure that resources are directed toward their best use. This line of thinking historically has led to concentration camps, gulags, firing squads, purges, and the like, for a few reasons: The first is that free markets are not irrational; they are a reflection of what people actually value at a particular time relative to the other things that they might also value. Real people simply want things that are different from what the planners want them to want, a predicament that can be solved only through violence and the threat of violence. That is the first reason that this sort of planning leads to gulags. The second is that there are no enlightened planners; men such as Senator Sanders imagine themselves to be candidates for enlightened leadership, but put a whip in his hand and the gentleman from Vermont will turn out to be another thug in the long line of thugs who have cleaved to his faith. The third reason that this sort of planning always works out poorly is that nobody knows what the best use of resources actually is; all that the would-be masters know is that they do not approve of the current deployment of resources.
Elsewhere in his introduction to Economics 101, a refresher that will of course go unread by the reprimitivized socialists who need it the most, Williamson writes:
Prices in markets are not arbitrary — they are reflections of how real people actually value certain goods and services in the real world. Arbitrarily changing the dollar numbers attached to those preferences does not change the underlying reality any more than trimming Cleveland off a map of the United States actually makes Cleveland disappear.
Real people simply want things that are different from what the planners want them to want, a predicament that can be solved only through violence and the threat of violence.
Dollars are just a method of keeping count, and mandating higher wages for work that has not changed at all is, in the long run, like measuring yourself in centimeters instead of inches in order to make yourself taller, or tracking your weight in kilograms instead of pounds as a means of losing weight. The gentlemen in Washington seem to genuinely believe that if they measure their penises in picas they’ll all be Jonah Falcon — in reality, their interns won’t notice any difference.
Heh. And that dovetails nicely with the Sanders’ own writing, circa 1972. If we’re going to look back at what presidential candidates said in high school or college (with the notable exception of BHO in 2008, of course), then this sounds like something that should be put into circulation as well:
In an article entitled “Men-And-Women,” published in an alternative newspaper called the “Vermont Freeman” Sanders shared his thoughts on male and female sexuality in ways that would cause a media firestorm if it had been penned by any current GOP candidate. Even one with as little chance at grabbing his party’s nomination as Sanders currently has.
“A man goes home and masturbates his typical fantasy,” wrote Sanders. “A woman on her knees. A woman tied up. A woman abused.”
Sanders didn’t specify as to how he had gained such a deep understanding of the male psyche.
In terms of his understanding of female sexual fantasies, Sanders provided similar insight.
“A woman enjoys intercourse with her man–as she fantasizes about being raped by 3 men simultaneously.”
It is unclear where Sanders acquired his early expertise on male and female sexual desires. But what is clear is that had Ted Cruz or Rick Santorum wrote something along these lines–even 40 years ago–the media wouldn’t stop talking about it for weeks.
But of course, like John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008 before him, Sanders enters the presidential field in the full knowledge that his fellow socialists with bylines will never question his past statements.
* No word yet what a key industry in Sanders’ constituency thinks of this notion.
“A generation is now growing old, which never had anything to say for itself except that it was young. It was the first progressive generation – the first generation that believed in progress and nothing else…. [They believed] simply that the new thing is always better than the old thing; that the young man is always right and the old wrong. And now that they are old men themselves, they have naturally nothing whatever to say or do. Their only business in life was to be the rising generation knocking at the door. Now that they have got into the house, and have been accorded the seat of honour by the hearth, they have completely forgotten why they wanted to come in. The aged younger generation never knew why it knocked at the door; and the truth is that it only knocked at the door because it was shut. It had nothing to say; it had no message; it had no convictions to impart to anybody…. The old generation of rebels was purely negative in its rebellion, and cannot give the new generation of rebels anything positive against which it should not rebel. It is not that the old man cannot convince young people that he is right; it is that he cannot even convince them that he is convinced. And he is not convinced; for he never had any conviction except that he was young, and that is not a conviction that strengthens with years.”
—“85 Years Ago, Chesterton nailed the Boomers,” as quoted by Elizabeth Scalia at her Anchoress blog. Note the photo attached to her post.
Jack Shafer is often a very astute media critic, but ultimately, he’s a man of the left, which explains the howlers in this paragraph in an otherwise somewhat interesting piece on “What Liberals Still Don’t Understand About Fox News” at the Politico:
The Republican Party had been fielding “Foxy” presidential candidates for decades before the network’s 1996 launch, such as Barry Goldwater in 1964 and Richard Nixon in 1968 (Ailes, by the way, was his media consultant), which suggests that the network isn’t leading the right-wing parade but has only positioned itself at the front of the procession. Another Foxy candidate on the 1968 general election ballot was George Wallace, who collected 13.5 percent of the presidential vote as a third-party candidate. Wallace traversed the sort of outré political frontiers that have become Fox territory. His politics make the Tea Party’s look like a very weak brew. To suggest that Fox alone pushed the GOP in the direction of radicalism is to ignore the political history that followed: After wounding Gerald Ford in the 1976 presidential campaign, Reagan completed the reset of the GOP as an ideologically driven conservative party in 1980, and there it has largely remained.
Where to begin?
It’s difficult to think of two more ideologically diverse candidates than Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon; Goldwater, smeared as a crypto-National Socialist by no less than Walter Cronkite in 1964, was in reality the first postwar conservative presidential candidate, and the most libertarian candidate since Calvin Coolidge. In sharp contrast, Richard Nixon governed domestically as an extension of LBJ’s Great Society; and inflicted the EPA, OSHA, Amtrak, and for a time, a disastrous freeze on wage and prices on America. In recent decades, leftists such as New York Timesmen Thomas Wicker and Paul Krugman, film critic Roger Ebert, and Mad Men producer Matthew Weiner have all expressed their grudging admiration for Nixon’s intrusive big government policies. George Wallace’s politics do indeed “make the Tea Party’s look like a very weak brew,” as no matter how many times the Politico, Salon and MSNBC insinuate, he wasn’t a Republican. And try as the Politico might, Nixon wasn’t a racist; building on Ike’s efforts, he campaigned on civil rights in 1960; Jackie Robinson supported him then, and black Americans as diverse as James Brown and Sammy Davis Jr. supported him in ’68 and ’72.
But Shafer is right — there’s much “Liberals Still Don’t Understand About Fox News” — which makes sense, as the above paragraph from Shafer illustrates, there’s so much 21st century “Liberals” get wrong about 20th century history in general.
A $190 million summer blockbuster starring George Clooney based on an area in a Disney theme park hits theaters, presumably hoping to rake in at least that much at the box office. Its narrative goal, however: to get you to stop caring so much about the vapid capitalistic things that are ruining us all and instead maybe do something to make the world a better place.
—“George Clooney’s Global Warming Shaming: George Clooney’s new summer blockbuster shames us for our roles in global warming and a potpourri of other earthly calamities,” The Daily Beast, today.
As the Insta-Professor likes to say, I’ll believe it’s a crisis when the people who tell me it’s a crisis start to act like it’s a crisis themselves. Since Clooney and Disney’s corporate management apparently believes that “global warming” and other “vapid capitalistic things are ruining us all,” but lack the conviction to eliminate their carbon footprints by shutting down down their theme parks and ceasing production of $190 million dollar movies, then the next best thing would be to shun their products until the corporation ceases “shaming” its customers. (Given the film’s poor ratings from both critics and audience members at Rotten Tomatoes.com, it sounds like there are far better ways to spend your time than watching Clooney’s hectoring new film.)
Oh, and given that Disney is ABC’s parent company, what say you, 105 million dollar Disney corporate spokesman George Stephanopoulos?
“People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”
Absolutely true — even if George Orwell never wrote it directly. As to how the phrase became credited to the Prose Artist Formerly Known as Eric Blair, Quote Investigator has you covered.
Daniel Drezner has an amusing take in the Washington Post on “What we can really learn” from the contents of the library inside the compound where “Osama bin Laden, perpetual impoverished grad student” spent his last days before matriculating into Hell:
This is not the collection of an ordinary policy wonk. No, as I perused this mish-mash of conspiracy tomes, quasi-conspiracy tomes, radical texts, mainstream bestsellers, and the occasional hidden gem, it struck me as an off-kilter, but very familiar mix.
And that’s when it hit me: this is the precise collection of books you would find if you went to a used bookstore and bought out the entire international relations section.
Any former graduate student who trolled used bookstores in search of bargains while living off of a modest stipend in the days before Amazon.com knows what I’m talking about. The search for book bargains never ends for impoverished grad students. The problem is the kind of books that find their way into used bookstores. Seriously, if you were to go to Half-Price Books in Austin or Powell’s in Chicago’s south side or Capitol Hill Books, this is pretty much the assortment you would find: crazy conspiracy books, past bestsellers, random think tank monographs, and Noam Chomsky. Lots of Noam Chomsky.
Read the whole thing, which concludes with Drezner’s very funny imaginary set of shopping instructions from bin Laden to one of his henchmen.
I can’t be the only person who read Drezner’s column and thought of a similarly named (just ask the late Teddy Kennedy!) perpetual grad student. As Michael Ledeen wrote in his PJM column in 2010, like the late Osama, Obama “doesn’t much like America or Americans, or the ‘former colonial powers’ like Britain.” and “Like so many would-be intellectuals, he admires lefty writers and screenwriters and actors and actresses:”
He likes the downtrodden, like the Palestinians, but he’s overcome with awe for the occasional cool (non-Western) monarch or emperor (whether Arab or Chinese). He probably has a Che tee shirt tucked away in a drawer, don’t you think?
He doesn’t know much history (he thinks Muslims invented printing), geography (his America has 57 states), or economics (he believes you can reduce health care costs by adding millions to the public rolls).
The most important thing to this president is how you feel and what you say, not all those annoying facts (50 states, the Chinese invented printing, and you increase deficits when you spend more). And, like most students, when the debate goes badly for him, the president makes fun of his critics–when he actually lets them talk a little bit. Remember when he hosted a few Republicans in the White House so he could listen to what they might say about health care…and then talked twice as much as they did?
As a typical undergrad, Obama loves to talk, and loves to talk about peace and justice. You know, the really important things. His new nuclear policy is right out of a college bull session: “Why don’t we just promise not to use them?” Nukes are bad, ugly things. Doesn’t everyone agree that the world would be better off without them?
Well, grownups don’t necessarily agree. It all depends how you get there, and what the others do along the way. We do have real enemies, but our undergrad-president understands their ire and shares their pain. It’s up to us to make things right. And so he apologizes, worrying more about our nukes (about which he has done something) than Iran’s (we haven’t done a thing).
Finally, he doesn’t seem to realize what a mess he’s making. And when he gets his grades, he blames the professors (we the people, in this case) for being unfair.
That’s the sort we’ve been graduating for a generation or more, isn’t it? Did you really think we’d never get one as president?
It was only a matter of time before we’d be forced to suffer daily with Obama’s voice, which shares the exact timbre and frequency range as the stereotypical wah-wah’d trombone-style Peanuts cartoon teacher. Speaking of which, “The secret to the Obama annoyance is snotty lecturing,” P.J. O’Rourke added shortly after Michael’s article went online:
His tone of voice sends us back to the worst place in college. We sit once more packed into the vast, dreary confines of a freshman survey course—“Rocks for Jocks,” “Nuts and Sluts,” “Darkness at Noon.” At the lectern is a twerp of a grad student—the prototypical A student—insecure, overbearing, full of himself and contempt for his students. All we want is an easy three credits to fulfill a curriculum requirement in science, social science, or fine arts. We’ve got a mimeographed copy of last year’s final with multiple choice answers already written on our wrists. The grad student could skip his classes, the way we intend to, but there the s.o.b. is, taking attendance. (How else to explain this year’s census?)
America has made the mistake of letting the A student run things. It was A students who briefly took over the business world during the period of derivatives, credit swaps, and collateralized debt obligations. We’re still reeling from the effects. This is why good businessmen have always adhered to the maxim: “A students work for B students.” Or, as a businessman friend of mine put it, “B students work for C students—A students teach.”
It was a bunch of A students at the Defense Department who planned the syllabus for the Iraq war, and to hell with what happened to the Iraqi Class of ’03 after they’d graduated from Shock and Awe.
The U.S. tax code was written by A students. Every April 15 we have to pay somebody who got an A in accounting to keep ourselves from being sent to jail.
Now there’s health care reform—just the kind of thing that would earn an A on a term paper from that twerp of a grad student who teaches Econ 101.
Why are A students so hateful? I’m sure up at Harvard, over at the New York Times, and inside the White House they think we just envy their smarts. Maybe we are resentful clods gawking with bitter incomprehension at the intellectual magnificence of our betters. If so, why are our betters spending so much time nervously insisting that they’re smarter than Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement? They are. You can look it up (if you have a fancy education the way our betters do and know what the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary is). “Smart” has its root in the Old English word for being a pain. The adjective has eight other principal definitions ranging from “brisk” to “fashionable” to “neat.” Only two definitions indicate cleverness—smart as in “clever in talk” and smart as in “clever in looking after one’s own interests.” Don’t get smart with me.
The other objection to A students is what it takes to become one—toad-eating. A students must do what teachers and textbooks want and do it the way teachers and texts want it done. Neatness counts! A students are very busy.
Well, we can’t call Obama and “A” student, as he’s never revealed his grades. But how’s our perpetual grad student doing in his current gig? John Podhoretz isn’t giving him very good grades today, as “ISIS rises, the economy falters, and Obama’s legacy falls apart:”
So it will be up to his successors to bail him out in the eyes of history and make it appear as though his legacy wasn’t the nuclear destabilization of the Middle East!Speaking of legacies, how’s that key domestic-policy legacy going? Not so hot.
ObamaCare remains unpopular; far more Americans oppose than favor it.
People still remember the disaster of the October 2013 rollout, which still casts a shadow over the program today.
Those hard feelings were deepened last year by the discovery of a series of talks by key ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber in which he bragged that it had been falsely marketed to the American people to take advantage of their stupidity.
Its defenders say the program is beginning to work, in the sense that it’s covering more people — but it’s not covering as many as the administration said it would by this time.
They tout the fact that the cost of the program is lower than it was supposed to be by now.
But that’s an inconsistent claim; it’s only less expensive because it isn’t meeting its target numbers, not because cost savings have suddenly materialized from the ether.
Meanwhile, at some point over the next month, the entire policy may be thrown into terminal chaos when the Supreme Court issues its judgment in a case called King v. Burwell — which challenges the legality of a central component of ObamaCare.
As the Supreme Court debates and writes its opinions, the overall economy continues to sputter. Over the past five years, it grows and halts, grows and halts, in a somewhat mystifying pattern that has kept the American people on guard and on edge.
In the latest RealClearPolitics polling average, 62% say the country is on the wrong track — more than seven years after Obama moved into the White House.
Of course, that assumes that Obama means well, both in America and the Middle East. Obviously, he’s no OBL — but as Rudy Giuliani pointed out in February, much to consternation of Obama’s Democrat operatives with bylines, that doesn’t mean he unambiguously has the best interests of America at heart, either.
But then, don’t all perpetual grad students long to play socialist dictator and try reshaping her, one way or another?
Chris Pratt, the actor starring in the upcoming Jurassic World, the umpteenth sequel to the venerable Steven Spielberg franchise has a novel approach for dealing with the Twitter mobs — he’s proffering a pre-outrage pre-apology for whatever he says during a press conference that will trigger the mob:
I want to make a heartfelt apology for whatever it is I end up accidentally saying during the forthcoming #JurassicWorld press tour. I hope you understand it was never my intention to offend anyone and I am truly sorry. I swear. I’m the nicest guy in the world. And I fully regret what I (accidentally will have) said in (the upcoming foreign and domestic) interview(s).
I am not in the business of making excuses. I am just dumb. Plain and simple. I try. I REALLY try! When I do (potentially) commit the offensive act for which I am now (pre) apologizing you must understand I (will likely have been) tired and exhausted when I (potentially) said that thing I (will have had) said that (will have had) crossed the line. Those rooms can get stuffy and the hardworking crews putting these junkets together need some entertainment! (Likely) that is who I was trying to crack up when I (will have had) made that tasteless and unprofessional comment. Trust me. I know you can’t say that anymore. In fact in my opinion it was never right to say the thing I definitely don’t want to but probably will have said. To those I (will have) offended please understand how truly sorry I already am. I am fully aware that the subject matter of my imminent forthcoming mistake, a blunder (possibly to be) dubbed “JurassicGate” is (most likely) in no way a laughing matter. To those I (will likely have had) offended rest assured I will do everything in my power to make sure this doesn’t happen (again).
Sonny Bunch of the Washington Free Beacon, who mocks the left’s highchair-banging outrage industry mindset by posing as a perpetually p.o.ed leftie at his Everything’s a Problem blog awards Pratt’s witty post with the maximum four problematics:
Oh, how cute. Chris Pratt thinks our outrage is something to be mocked. Chris Pratt thinks our hurt is something for you to play with. I cannot even with this. FFS. In some ways this is worse than Marvel’s Dude Bros acting all Dude Bro-y. Pratt’s implicit mockery of outrage culture for choosing to seize on any little dumb thing he might say is an incredibly marginalizing tool of oppression.
Apology NOT accepted. We’ve got our eye on you.
I give the transgression of making fun of outrage culture four problematics.
Heh. As Hans Fiene wrote last month at the Federalist, “We’re Addicted To Judgment Porn”; kudos to Pratt for simultaneously heading off the mob before they attack, and for subversively mocking their tactics.
In an article titled “The Shaming Spiral” in the new issue of Commentary, Christine Rosen reviews the recent book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. From the various reviews I’ve read, it sounds like Ronson’s book is a flawed by still useful look at a rapidly growing trend, as torch-wielding Frankenstein mobs search the Web and especially Twitter for the latest outrage to burst their blood vessels over. This passage from Rosen’s article features sums up one way to fight back — to simply choose to avoid being outrageously outraged over the outrage!!!!! surrounding you, although the person featured is someone who sounds like a rather flawed messenger to deliver it:
Ronson’s most interesting case study is the story of Max Mosley, a British Formula One racing executive well known mostly because his parents were Sir Oswald Mosley, founder of the British Union of Fascists, and Diana Mitford, one of the dazzling Mitford sisters (Joseph Goebbels hosted the Mosley’s wedding, which Hitler attended). Having unrepentant Fascists for parents is difficult enough; but in 2008 the tabloid News of the World published grainy photos of Max Mosley engaged in what they called a “sick Nazi orgy” at an S&M dungeon in London.
Such a revelation might have spelled doom for someone else, but as Ronson notes, Mosley immediately went on BBC4 Radio and acknowledged that he had a kinky sex life (Princess Dolore would approve) and stated that he had done nothing wrong. “If our shameworthiness lies in the space between who we are and how we present ourselves to the world,” Ronson writes, “Max was narrowing that gap to nothing.” Mosley successfully sued the now-defunct News of the World for claiming his activities were Nazi-tinged when in fact they were not (the evening merely had a martial theme, he noted). Mosley told Ronson that he refused to feel ashamed by the exposure. “As soon as the victim steps out of the pact by refusing to feel ashamed,” he told Ronson, “the whole thing crumbles.”
In her review of Ronson’s book at Bloomberg, Megan McArdle writes that “Twitter makes it absurdly easy to shame someone:”
You barely have to take 30 seconds out of your day to make an outraged comment that will please your friends and hurt the person you’ve targeted. This means it is also absurdly easy to attack someone unfairly, without pausing to think about context — or the effect you are having on another human being much like yourself. No matter what that person did, short of war crimes, you probably would not join a circle of thousands of people heaping abuse upon a lone target cowering in the center. But that is the real-world equivalent of what online shame-stormers do.
This sort of tactic may buy silence, though it is likely to be the most effective on people who already agree with you and simply said something infelicitous. What it cannot buy is community, beyond the bonds that build between people who are joined in collective hate. With the exception of Lehrer — who clearly realized he’d done something wrong without needing to be told — the people whom Ronson interviews do not think that they were the victims of perhaps excessively harsh justice; they think they were victims of abuse. They often recognize that they did something stupid, but they don’t think they deserved to be fired after having their lives dissected and their character impugned by thousands of people who had never even met them.
And perhaps this satisfies the shame-stormers; they may want to change hearts and minds but be willing to settle for silence. This sort of shaming has costs, however. If you haven’t changed someone’s mind, you haven’t changed their behavior, only what they say. If they do harbor the bad beliefs you accused them of, those beliefs are now festering in private rather than being open to persuasion. And you haven’t even necessarily changed what they say in a good direction, because people who are afraid of unjust attacks aren’t afraid of being punished for saying things they know they ought to be ashamed of, but of being punished for saying something they didn’t know would attract this kind of ire. So they’re afraid to say anything at all, or at least anything more interesting than “Woo, puppies!” That’s not norm enforcement; it’s blanket terror.
But it helps, as Marc Fitch noted last month at the Federalist, to return a sense of proportion by placing the angry mob to scale:
It is often quite easy to feel that you are greatly outnumbered and that the entire world is against you, particularly if you have the gall to air your beliefs in the public realm (or be caught in it, in this situation). Social media can seemingly explode with anger at your mention of a political or cultural position that goes against whatever the Video Music Awards are advocating this year. You are beset by Legion.
But are you, really? Two thousand people is a drop in the bucket of the overall population, but when they all turn and look at you it can feel overwhelming. While outrage is nothing new in cultural or political fights, the Internet’s ability to allow individuals to reach people they have never met or places they have never been perpetrates an illusion. Memories Pizza was deluged with one-star ratings by people who had never been to the establishment or sampled its pizza.
It was recently revealed that nearly 70 percent of the criticism lobbed at Rush Limbaugh (which is ample) comes from a small group of activists that have devoted their lives to attempting to make his miserable. However, to view coverage of Limbaugh in television and Internet media, you would think that the entire country is listening and vastly offended at everything he says. You would see and hear what appear to be great swaths of civilization amassing against this radio host. But this is an illusion born of spirit, not of substance, and it is meant to influence the spirit of others. It is necessary to separate the corporeal reality from the illusory zeitgeist.
Few people have time to be so incensed, and those that do should not drive culture. Their offense is an illusion. Their feelings may matter to them, but need not drive discussions and certainly shouldn’t attain such grandiose proportions. Ideas can be debated and talked through, and individuals who maintain a decorum of objective detachment can often find common ground. But fight with a spirit, with irrational rage, and there is no way to find commonality.
The anonymity of the Internet allows this illusion to truly reach its greatest power as a single individual can assume any number of Internet personas that can spew any amount of nonsense and vitriol with no accountability or personal reflection whatsoever. The pseudo-anger and the Internet’s ability to instantaneously connect users can often give the impression of widespread outrage, when really hardly anyone has noticed.
The first time one encounters the Internet outrage mob, the pressure can feel overwhelming. But when the virtual mob is perpetual, such tactics begin to lose their force. Perhaps Pratt’s deft preemptive strike is another sign that the power of the outrage mob is hopefully, becoming diluted.
(Unless you’re a business owner with a physical storefront, alas.)
The Hollywood Reporter has a fun look back at the “Starship,” a Boeing 707 that was converted into the rock superstar transport of the 1970s. Led Zeppelin originally chartered the plane to allow the band to stay in one hotel while touring various American regions, and as a potent PR tool when journalists were brought aboard to interview the band. The article’s headline derives from Robert Plant’s most memorable experience onboard the plane: ”Oral sex during turbulence.” And once Led Zeppelin started the trend, numerous other bands began hiring the Starship, given its usefulness as a status marker, as Peter Frampton tells the magazine:
“It was definitely a show of where you were in your career,” says the now-65-year-old Frampton, whose management leased the plane during his white-hot superstardom touring behind the unstoppable Frampton Comes Alive! “It was a statement of how well you were doing. ‘Whoopee! We must be big — we’ve got the Starship!’ ”
Led Zeppelin was the first to lease the plane, in 1973, after a white-knuckle flight from Oakland, Calif., to Los Angeles in a tiny Falcon 20 business jet terrorized the entourage. At the time, Led Zeppelin suffered from almost surreally bad press — Rolling Stone suggested the band change its name to Limp Blimp — and it was thought that the Starship might earn the group some respect. “It was an extremely useful tool because inviting a journalist onto the plane, the story kind of wrote itself,” says Danny Goldberg, Led Zeppelin’s publicist for the tour, who had been hired to gin up positive coverage. “The novelty value was significant.”
Zeppelin became indelibly associated with the Starship when the band posed with the plane in Bob Gruen’s iconic 1973 portrait. The picture, Gruen tells Billboard, “sums up the excess and decadence of the ’70s, the fact that here are these guys — they don’t even have to button their shirts — and they have their own plane.” The photo has been a touchstone for rock ‘n’ roll aspirants ever since. “[Keyboardist] Dave Bryan of Bon Jovi and many other musicians told me that when they saw that picture, that’s what they wanted,” says Gruen.
However, in England, a rebellion was brewing against such mid-’70s excesses of the American music market at its peak. If the Starship was the flying equivalent of the Palace of Versailles, then as Pete Townshend of The Who once told an an interviewer about punk rock in England, “It really was like the French Revolution. It could have ended up with the Beatles, the Stones and the Who being beheaded.”
Punk never established a serious foothold in America, but it was useful for NBC for attempting to scare the hell out of its viewers:
To understand how bifurcated NBC was becoming in the 1970s, that clip aired in 1977 on a magazine-styled news show called Weekend that, if I’m remembering correctly, aired every fourth Saturday night, to give the cast and crew of Saturday Night Live a breather. Within just two years, SNL would begin airing punk rock’s more musical brethren in the New Wave genre such as Elvis Costello, Gary Numan, Blondie, and after Lorne Michaels left the show for several years in the early 1980s, full-fledged punk bands such as The Clash and the L.A.-based punk rock band Fear, fronted by musicians with tasteful stage names such as Lee Ving, Derf Scratch, and Spit Stix.
The NBC Weekend Show was hosted by the avuncular Lloyd Dobyns, and its theme song was (no joke), the opening chords of the Rolling Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash.” (As one of three people in the country who watched the show, I remember this well.)
As Wikipedia notes, in 1978, Weekend was moved to 10:00 PM every Saturday night, and “Linda Ellerbee was added as Dobyns’ co-host and co-lead reporter. Placed against strong programs on ABC and CBS, the show eventually died of poor ratings. A few years later, Ellerbee and Dobyns reunited to anchor another late-night NBC news program, NBC News Overnight.”
A show to which James Lileks was one of its three viewers. Which is why, as he noted a few years ago, to get their revenge against crazed programming chief Fred Silverman, the following clip was circulated internally at the network in the early 1980s:
As Lileks adds, when Silverman discovered the above clip after Don Imus played it on his radio show, “You suspect everyone was fired. Everyone.”
“Bill Clinton is the greatest gaslighter in modern American politics,” Jonah Goldberg notes in his latest G-File. Click over for the Wikipedia definition of the term if you’re unfamiliar with it; after which Jonah writes:
A truly sociopathic liar (though his sociopathologies hardly end there), Clinton has a gift for making other people feel like there is something wrong with them for objecting to his deceptions.
At the outset of the 1990s, liberals had worked themselves into a moral panic about sexual harassment. If anything, it was a bigger obsession than the campus-rape panic we’ve been witnessing over the last few years (no doubt in part because there was more factual basis to the problem). Male politicians — Bob Packwood, John Tower, et al. — had their careers summarily ended because of their “womanizing” — a term popularized by Tower’s predations. (Ironically, the original meaning of the word was to “make effeminate,” i.e., to turn into a woman. Given the mainstreaming of sex-change surgery, maybe it’s time to rehabilitate the older definition?)
Then, the country was presented with proof, incremental and suggestive at first, overwhelming and indisputable by the end of the decade, that Bill Clinton was an irrepressible and irresponsible sexual predator, at least by the moral and evidentiary standards established by feminist activists and the press corps that loves them. And, rather than face the consequences of applying their own principles consistently, they prostrated themselves to the Oval Office. Gloria Steinem raced to the pages of the New York Times to advance the “one free grope” rule. Susan Estrich, Susan Faludi, and countless other professional feminists defenestrated their principles in a desperate attempt to defend Clinton.
It was a perfect example of what Lord Acton really meant by power corrupting. He didn’t mean that rulers are corrupted by power, he meant that intellectuals become corrupted by their worship of the powerful.
When Bill Clinton had to “apologize” to his cabinet for playing baron-and-the-milkmaid with an intern and lying about it, he asked if anybody had a problem with it. Donna Shalala foolishly assumed he was being sincere. She chimed in and said she had a problem. He berated her for her effrontery, explaining that her prudish standards would have prevented JFK from being president. And while those of us not ensorcelled by the cult of that charismatic mediocrity might respond, “Yeah, so?” this was a debate-settling argument for many liberals.
Clinton’s sexual exploits were only one facet of his full-spectrum gaslighting of America. He sold pardons. He sold the Lincoln bedroom. He lied and cheated in innumerable ways, large and small, and he successfully made the people who objected, or even pointed out the truth, seem like the weird ones.
Jonah mentioned the campus rape panic in the second paragraph quoted above; in her latest column, Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal writes, “Readers know of the phenomenon at college campuses regarding charges of ‘microaggressions’ and ‘triggers,’” and adds, “quite a bunch of little Marats and Robespierres we’re bringing up” — or actually, being programmed by their socialist teachers and professors. Noonan’s column is on the censoring of classic books and epic poems such as Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” which students at Columbia University attempted to suppress:
The class read the myths of Persephone and Daphne, which, as parts of a narrative that stretches from the dawn of time to the Rome of Caesar, include depictions of violence, chaos, sexual assault and rape. The student, the authors reported, is herself “a survivor of sexual assault” and said she was “triggered.” She complained the professor focused “on the beauty of the language and the splendor of the imagery when lecturing on the text.” He did not apparently notice her feelings, or their urgency. As a result, “the student completely disengaged from the class discussion as a means of self-preservation. She did not feel safe in the class.”
Safe is the key word here. There’s the suggestion that a work may be a masterpiece but if it makes anyone feel bad, it’s out.
At [Christina Hoff Sommers'] speech in April at Georgetown University, multiple undercover policemen were placed in the audience. At Oberlin, also in April, uniformed police officers never let her out of their sight and after her speech escorted her in a police car from the campus to a dinner. In May, she was the guest of honor at a Washington, D.C., meetup of “Gamergate” supporters—video gamers concerned about radical feminism’s influence in the video game industry (more on that later). In response, Salon and Daily Beast columnist Arthur Chu started a social media campaign to pressure the bar where the gamers were meeting to drop the event and sent emails to the venue accusing them of hosting a “right-wing hate group.” Despite the pressure, the owner of the bar, Local 16, emailed Sommers to tell her they “would never keep any group out. This is America.” A bomb threat soon followed, necessitating a heavy police presence and a tour of Local 16 by bomb-sniffing dogs.
Through all this, Sommers says, “I didn’t feel threatened. I’d never known feminists to be violent.” Her calm in the face of feminist extremism is in marked contrast to the fury of her critics. “I am a threat to their health, to their mental well-being. That attitude is new,” she says. “Before, they might have thought, ‘Oh, her views on feminism are reactionary.’ But now it’s that her views are a threat.”
Indeed, an inability to distinguish between threats and disagreements seems to be a hallmark of this contemporary feminism. Sommers is scary precisely because she doesn’t shy away from heightening the contradictions. Where op-ed writers have patiently picked apart the discredited “wage gap” statistics feminists insist on recycling, Sommers shows up in the proverbial lion’s den, calmly points her finger at the scolds-in-training, and challenges them to prove their commitment to female equality by changing their major to the lucrative and male-dominated field of petroleum engineering.
These days, campus feminists make no attempt to debate Sommers on substance. Instead, she routinely faces attempts to shun her, silence her, or distort her message. After her Georgetown speech, there were demands that the student group that had hosted her remove the protesters from video of the event. A university administrator warned that if the upset students weren’t edited out, “Georgetown [would] need to step in.”
Got that? Protesters showed up at a public event to draw attention to their message—but then realized that footage showing ostensible adults holding signs saying “Trigger Warning: Antifeminist” was an embarrassment to the students and bad PR for the school, so they wanted it censored. Another embarrassment is young feminists’ ignorance. When Sommers joked at Oberlin that the Junior Anti-Sex League had occupied campus feminism, a voice from her audience yelled, “What the hell is that?”
For the most part, Obama and Hillary love keeping already high-strung college kids on emotional tenterhooks, ready to swing into action at the latest perceived racial or sexual “microaggression,” and anyone who dares commit doubleplus ungood Emmanuel Goldstein-esque thoughtcrime. But isn’t there a huge, equally Orwellian contradiction here? Hillary is counting on those same college kids, who see sexism, male oppression and rape everywhere to swing enthusiastically into action to support her. (Presumably, as is Obama, as Hillary is a far safer bet to preserve his “legacy” than a Republican president.) Completely ignoring the fact that she’s the enabler of a former president whom Rand Paul dubbed one of Washington’s most prominent sexual predators. As Paul noted on C-Span last year:
Democrats are being hypocritical by criticizing Republicans as waging a war on women while at the same time embracing Mr. Clinton, who was impeached for lying about a sexual relationship with a White House intern.
“They can’t have it both ways. And so I really think that anybody who wants to take money from Bill Clinton or have a fundraiser has a lot of explaining to do. In fact, I think they should give the money back,” Mr. Paul, Kentucky Republican, said. “If they want to take position on women’s rights, by all means do. But you can’t do it and take it from a guy who was using his position of authority to take advantage of young women in the workplace.”
Or is the assumption that because Hillary will do “good things” (read: expand government and restrict freedoms — including, as she herself admits — freedom of speech) the same college kids obsessed with rape and sexual predators will overlook Bill’s serial macro-aggressions?
It’s too bad that Lord Acton is yet another dead white European male; because as Jonah wrote above, the Clintons really are the perfect example of what Acton “meant by power corrupting. He didn’t mean that rulers are corrupted by power, he meant that intellectuals become corrupted by their worship of the powerful.”
And young, self-styled wannabe intellectuals as well, as yet another generation of leftists are gaslighted.
I know the aforementioned Rand Paul did a fair amount of battlefield prep last year by pointing out Bill’s past, noting that “Mr. Clinton’s settlement with Paula Jones in 1999, in which he paid $850,000 to settle Ms. Jones’ claims of sexual harassment, is an admission of guilt by the former president.” Not to mention Bill’s “friendship [with] seedy billionaire and convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein,” as Sean Hannity discussed this past February. But I’m surprised more Republican candidates aren’t mentioning this enormous contradiction, which seems ripe for exploiting. And/or anyone on the left who’s serious about opposing her. Isn’t it time for the spouse of the man who made “Sister Souljah” a verb to experience a “Sister Souljah moment” of her own from one of her fellow Democrats?
We’ve mentioned the left devouring its own several times in recent months. The “campus rape epidemic” seems like a bizarre intellectual climate to serve as the background for Hillary’s campaign — and she has no one else to blame but her fellow Democrats for creating it. Or am I simply gaslighting myself?
In Tom Wolfe’s famous essay “The Great Relearning,” originally published in the December 1987 issue of the American Spectator and included in his 2000 collection of essays, appropriately titled Hooking Up, Wolfe believed that a leitmotif of the 21st century would feature mankind recovering the rules about art, aesthetics, and human relations that various degrees of socialism stripped away in the 19th and 20th centuries in the rush to “Start From Zero” by discarding vast quantities of man’s accumulated knowledge and wisdom.
But for that happen, first the “Swaddled Generation” needs to replace their diapers with the big boy pants and begin growing up. RINO Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post, last seen helping grease the skids of the ultimate swaddled man-child to reach the White House by shivving Sarah Palin in the fall of 2008, appears to perhaps be on the verge of experiencing the aura of the penumbra of second thoughts over whom she helped bring to power and his negative impact on today’s college students:
It seems that mostly conservative sites and writers are concerned with the increasingly draconian suppression of free speech on college campuses. But then, it is mostly conservative writers and speakers who are treated as though they’re bringing the Ebola virus rather than contrarian ideas to the sensitive ears of what we may as well name the “Swaddled Generation.”
A trigger warning is usually conveyed on a sign carried or posted near the auditorium where a speech is to be given, alerting students to the possibility that the speaker may express an idea that could trigger an emotional response. A discussion about campus rape statistics, for example, might cause a rape victim to suffer.
This was the case recently at Georgetown University when Christina Hoff Sommers, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and author of “Who Stole Feminism?,” was greeted by sign-carriers warning: “Anti-Feminism,” with the room number of a “safe space.”
Students elsewhere have taken their trigger-phobia a step further, urging professors to add warnings to syllabuses alerting swaddlers to the possibility that a course might prompt uncomfortable thoughts. At Rutgers University, a student proposed flagging F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” as potentially upsetting owing to “a variety of scenes that reference gory, abusive and misogynistic violence.”
Protections against unpleasant thoughts can be arranged only by managing unpleasant speech. Thus, anyone who dares question any of the communally collected “understandings” of proper thought, presumably embraced during share-time and group hugs, will not be celebrated as a curious mind but condemned as a “hater.”
Now there’s a winning debate argument. If you’re 5.
Which neatly sums up the intellectual development of the far too many college kids, and the leftwing professors and pundits who enable them:
— National Review (@NRO) May 21, 2015
Found via Josh Good of the American Enterprise Institute, whose description of Parker’s article and his allusion to Tom Wolfe work better as a meme than the Post’s own headline writers:
Kathleen Parker calls for a “great unswaddling,” on campuses where pampering today’s top grads is all too common: http://t.co/uOPiiETq7j
— Josh Good (@josh_good_) May 21, 2015
Update: This tweet by Twitchy.com manages to tie together both of the elements of our headline above:
Two men who tried to travel to Syria to fight alongside ISIS used student aid to purchase tickets http://t.co/0tokOLCqmq
— TwitchyTeam (@TwitchyTeam) May 22, 2015
Update: Leon H. Wolf of Red State on the corrosive impact of “The Emma Sulkowicz Generation,” on both their victims and their pet causes.
“Bin Laden had the book on Obama,” Paul Mirengoff writes at Power Line, who asks, “What should we make of the bookshelf?” Bin Laden’s bookshelf that is. Beyond being photographed on the 2008 campaign trail — chillingly in retrospect — holding fellow leftist Fareed Zakaria’s then-recent book The Post-American World, the pop culture-obsessed Mr. Obama seems to prefer binge-watching television to reading.
But Bin Laden’s choice of reading material is fascinating, as Mirengoff writes, who notes that Bob Woodward has the rare distinction of being on both Nixon’s enemies list, and Osama’s reading list:
Above all, it confirms that bin Laden was obsessed with the United States. Unlike ISIS, which strives to capture territory and create a caliphate, bin Laden focused on attacking America and American interests.
But attacking America wasn’t an end in itself. Bin Laden’s overriding goal was to drive the U.S. out of the Muslim world so that al Qaeda and its affiliates could topple hostile governments in these regions.
Once we understand this, we must see bin Laden as more of a success than a failure. And we must see President Obama as the vehicle through which bin Laden succeeded.
Under Obama, the U.S. is basically exiting the Muslim world. We pulled out of Iraq (and haven’t re-entered to any significant degree). We’re pulling out of Afghanistan. We never pulled into Syria, despite the advice of many in both parties that we should.
We didn’t stay in Libya. We’ve been driven out of Yemen. Our influence with Egypt and Saudi Arabia (two countries of special interest to bin Laden, surely) has waned considerably.
As for the toppling of governments, bin Laden’s dream is partially realized. The Afghanistan government hasn’t fallen, but it may well, once the U.S. leaves. And the government’s hold on large portions of the country is weak to non-existent.
The Iraqi government hasn’t fallen, but it has lost huge chunks of territory to Islamic terrorists, with even Baghdad now threatened. The government of Syria is in basically the same condition.
These two pop culture icons couldn’t be happier about the rapidly disintegrating state of the world:
(Artwork atop post created using multiple AP and Shutterstock.com images.)
“Letterman’s departure is 15 years too late,” Kyle Smith writes in the New York Post, tracing Letterman’s shift over the years from midwestern anti-comic like his doppelganger Bill Murray to hack showbiz insider:
When Letterman got a new job at CBS in 1993, it was even better. Now he was on at 11:30 p.m. instead of 12:30 a.m. I’d miss fewer shows, plus my new job (I started at The Post the day after he launched “Late Show”) meant I didn’t have to get up until noon. I saw practically every episode, for years.
But, somewhere around the turn of the century, I lost interest. The show became less and less surreal. Real celebrities started showing up, and I winced as Dave would suck up to them. Suddenly, everyone had a perfectly polished, self-deprecating anecdote — invariably meant to prove the utter fiction that Celebrities Are Just Like Us — that sounded suspiciously crafted by a team of writers. Suddenly, each episode had as many as three celebrities, with Letterman being unctuous and insufferable and fake-laughing his way through every minute.
At times Dave would turn depressingly earnest, particularly when he thought he had a Deep Political Point to make. He had George W. Bush on during the 2000 campaign and started grilling him about capital punishment. It was crushingly wrong for Dave to turn into a finger-wagger, especially since he seemed woefully out of his depth on any issue. His comedy started to sound like everybody else’s, with the same potshots at the same easy targets. His act sounded less like dada, more like Dad.
Letterman was the barking dog who caught the car, was invited in, and curled up delightedly on the seat. He was the outsider who joined the very club on whose doorstep he used to leave a flaming sack of dog poop. He was the cool guy who became Mr. Big-Time Showbiz Personality. Letterman shouldn’t retire. He should just continue doing his shtick. In Vegas.
Shortly thereafter, just as Vietnam and other events of the late 1960s cleaved American pop culture in two, 9/11 had a similar effect, alienating much of show business from its potential audience, including (especially) Letterman, who was far less adapt than Jay Leno at bridging the gap between the worldview of his fellow leftwing show business elites and Red State America.
CBS’s response to Letterman’s finale? They’re literally kicking his show to the curb, another article at the Post notes:
Just hours after Letterman said farewell after 33 years on late-night TV, Ed Sullivan Theater crews hauled off blocks of blue stage and hacked up pieces of the iconic New York City bridges that made up the set of the “Late Show.”
Fans and passers-by gathered around a police barricade cordoning off the Ed Sullivan to watch workers unceremoniously chuck red theater chairs into an overflowing Dumpster and take reciprocating saws to his miniature Brooklyn Bridge.
“It’s an end of an era,” commented onlooker Alex Lafreniere, 24, a fan visiting from Oklahoma.
The complete breakdown of the set is expected to take about a week.
No word yet if Cosmo Kramer will discover the remains of the set moulting away in a garbage skip and launch his own talk show from his Upper West Side apartment:
And as John Nolte adds at Big Hollywood, that’s not the only element of Letterman’s show that CBS is tossing into a dumpster:
Despite all the hype and hoopla and nostalgia around Letterman’s finale, CBS will not be filling his old timeslot with “Late Show” reruns.
Until Stephen Colbert arrives in September, CBS believes reruns of the CBS drama “The Mentalist” will attract more viewers than reruns of Letterman.
Did the door hit Letterman on the way out?
Probably not, it was already in the dumpster.
Sounds like the brass at CBS is as eager to be rid of Letterman as the rest of us.
Ace of Spades calls out lefty Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post, after the latter man plays the moronic “Is David Letterman a liberal? It’s surprisingly hard to say” game. No it isn’t — you could ask him, as Howard Stern did last year at the conclusion of his half-hour interview with him, which Roger Friedman of ShowBiz 411 accurately calls “Letterman’s Most Revealing Interview.” Click on the above clip to go straight to the relevant bit about Letterman’s politics, or go to Friedman’s post to hear the whole thing. And as Ace writes:
You could compare his extremely hostile interviews with Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh — in one he snapped, without smiling, that what O’Reilly was saying sounded like pure “bullshit” — with his fawning, Tell Me More interviews with Rachel Maddow and undisclosed (but obvious) liberals like Brian “Chopper Warrior” Williams and Tom Brokaw.
Not to mention the 2006 interview with O’Reilly in which Letterman admitted to essentially be rooting for Al Qaeda in Iraq, the precursor to ISIS:
In now a famous “You Tube” moment, Bill O’Reilly of the Fox News Channel, went on Letterman to be the recipient of the host’s rude and sophomoric antics. As the segment shifted into high gear, O’Reilly asked Letterman a pointed and direct question: “Do you want the United States to win in Iraq?”To the surprise of no one but his sycophants, Letterman could not or would not answer the question. When pressed by O’Reilly to answer, the best he could do was to play to his mostly left-leaning audience for cheap debating points and say, “It’s not easy for me because I’m thoughtful.”
But that segment of Ace’s post is really the least interesting aspect, as everyone who is honest knows Letterman is on the left, and everyone who isn’t is lying about him, as Cillizza attempts to do. What’s really fascinating is this:
One of the types of comedy Letterman has long been far too enamored with is Time-Wasting Anti-Comedy. In the early days of his show, Letterman got a lot of laughs by doing pointless, time-wasting (and sometimes budget-wasting) stunts.
The best of these were things like Throwing Objects Off a Fifth Floor Roof, or throwing himself, in a suit of Velcro, at a Velcro wall to see if he would stick. (He did, in fact. Science!)
The worst of these was Letterman just wasting time, having pointless chats with Schaeffer (Letterman would probably claim the pointlessness *was* the point, or some stupid meta-comedy conceit like that), or, as Norm MacDonald wickedly parodied him, just repeating the same word over and over, believing that if he said “Ehhhh…. Got some gum?” enough times, it would become funny.
Letterman got away with this in his early days because the show’s conceit was that the whole thing was an elaborate prank on the network, that they had no business being on TV, and that they were wasting the network’s time and money by staging this deliberately stupid, pointless show.
It made you think — if you were young, and fan — like you were in on the joke, and that you were right there alongside Dave wasting precious Network Minutes and Dollars for this lame thing.
Here’s what the Oscars did, though, at least for me: Letterman’s time-wasting nonsense — his “Oprah… Uma” introductions (between Winfrey and Thurman) that went on for two minutes and then was repeated later in the show — finally made me see the light:
Letterman wasn’t just wasting The Network’s time with this sort of so-unfunny-it’s-funny (but actually not) non-material.
He was wasting my time, too.
All long I thought I’d been in on the joke.
Suddenly, I realized: No, I was not in on the joke. I was in on one joke, the superficial one about vengeance against the network, but definitely not in on the deeper joke, the real joke.
The real joke is that while Letterman’s show was gleefully slapdash, I was still a prisoner of it five nights a week, and voluntarily so.
The real truth was — and perhaps Letterman intended us to understand this; and perhaps he should be praised for trying to make us understand this — was that if you were watching TV, you were wasting your time.
In the previous post, I quoted longtime Johnny Carson head writer Raymond Siller, who noted that “Johnny was a lot more sarcastic than his on-air persona, but he couldn’t bring himself to ridicule his fans.” But for Letterman, it’s an illustration of how his postmodernism was ultimately a vicious circle: Letterman’s early schtick was that he was doing cheap gags that made fun of the pointless nature of TV; so what does that say about the people who watched it religiously? No wonder Dave seems to have such a tortured relationship with his audience.
Or in recent years, the increasing lack thereof.
When NBC and Jay Leno took the dream of hosting the Tonight Show away from David Letterman, “the sweet, charming, irreverent Indiana kid became the angry, bitter, lazy New York asshole.” Spot-on take from John Nolte at Big Hollywood on how David Letterman lost his midwestern soul and alienated so many potential viewers, beginning with losing the Tonight Show to Jay Leno in 1992:
It was sometime around 2003 when I began to realize Letterman didn’t like me anymore. His anger was no longer subversive and clever, it was bitter and mean-spirited and palpably real. He was a jerk playing to his loyal audience — urban, cynical, elite, Blue State jerks. The humble, self-deprecating Dave had become the nasty, arrogant Letterman, an unrecognizable bully who reveled in pulling the wings off those he saw as something less.
Chris Christie’s weight; Rush Limbaugh’s personal life; everything Bill O’Reilly; Bush, Cheney, Palin, and the last straw, a statutory rape joke about Palin’s 15 year-old daughter. Suddenly you were a dangerous idiot for protecting the most Indiana of things — your gun.
The man who could make you laugh at yourself now wanted to hurt and humiliate.
Letterman’s politics were never the issue. You can’t share my passion for show business and movies and let politics get in the way. Carlin was probably to the left of Letterman, but Carlin was funny and thoughtful and smart. Watching Letterman berate and hector and attempt to humiliate conservative guests over guns and the climate and the brilliance of Obama was boorish. Describing Mitt Romney as a “felon” was just sad.
The American Heartland had disappointed its own Indiana son, and for more than a decade the son was out for payback.
Or maybe Letterman was just so scared and insecure about losing what little audience he had, that he sold out his genius and Midwestern decency to bitterly cling to them? He certainly never again displayed the courage to challenge them, or to make them feel in any way uncomfortable.
Night after night the man who became my hero for biting the hand was now licking the boot — and convinced while doing so that he’s superior to the rest of us.
How I pity him.
While I rarely watched Letterman on a regular basis by the mid-naughts (especially beyond the Top Ten List), all it took was one question from his guest Bill O’Reilly in 2006 that caused Letterman to drop the mask, and caused me to permanently tune out his show:
In now a famous “You Tube” moment, Bill O’Reilly of the Fox News Channel, went on Letterman to be the recipient of the host’s rude and sophomoric antics. As the segment shifted into high gear, O’Reilly asked Letterman a pointed and direct question: “Do you want the United States to win in Iraq?”To the surprise of no one but his sycophants, Letterman could not or would not answer the question. When pressed by O’Reilly to answer, the best he could do was to play to his mostly left-leaning audience for cheap debating points and say, “It’s not easy for me because I’m thoughtful.”
I don’t think it was anything in the water particularly at CBS; all of the Big Three are filled with equally cocooned and equally smug leftists. But Peggy Noonan, who began her career working for Dan Rather, had a revealing profile of what caused both his warped worldview and ultimately his self-destruction in 2004. This passage also rings true of Letterman; just substitute Indiana for Texas:
Ultimately this is what I think was true about Dan and his career. It’s not very nice but I think it is true. He was a young, modestly educated Texas boy from nowhere, with no connections and a humble background. He had great gifts, though: physical strength, attractiveness, ambition, commitment and drive. He wanted to be a star. He was willing to learn and willing to pay his dues. He covered hurricanes and demonstrations, and when they got him to New York they let him know, as only an establishment can, what was the right way to think, the intelligent enlightened way, the Eastern way, the Ivy League way, the Murrow School of Social Justice way. They let him know his simple Texan American assumptions were not so much wrong as not fully thought through, not fully nuanced, not fully appreciative of the multilayered nature of international political realities. He swallowed it whole.
He had a strong Texas accent, but they let him know he wasn’t in Texas anymore. I remember once a nice man, an executive producer, confided in me that he’d known Dan from the early days, from when he first came up to New York. He laughed, not completely unkindly, and told me Dan wore the wrong suits. I wish I could remember exactly what he said but it was something like, “He had a yellow suit!” There was a sense of: We educated him. Dan wound up in pinstripe suits made in London. Like Cyrus Vance. Like Clark Clifford. He got educated. He fit right in. And much of what he’d learned–from the civil rights movement, from Vietnam and from Watergate–allowed him to think he was rising in the right way and with the right crew and the right thinking.
That’s also a reminder of something that Christopher Caldwell wrote a decade ago at the Weekly Standard on the motivations of small town liberals:
There are basically two kinds of people in small towns–those who assume, as Shaw put it, that the customs of the tribe are the laws of nature; and those who have sussed out that there is a big and varied world beyond Main Street. This division used to have little to do with politics. But small-town politics in its Norman Rockwell variant–all those democratic battles over school bonds and ousting the crooked sheriff–is not what it was. Now, all politics is national. Political ideology, for most people, is a matter of whether they prefer to have Bill O’Reilly or Diane Rehm console them for their impotence in the face of events happening elsewhere.
At some point, Democrats became the party of small-town people who think they’re too big for their small towns. It is hard to say how it happened: Perhaps it is that Republicans’ primary appeal is to something small-towners take for granted (tradition), while Democrats’ is to something that small-towners are condemned for lacking (diversity). Both appeals can be effective, but it is only the latter that incites people to repudiate the culture in which they grew up. Perhaps it is that at universities–through which pass all small-town people aiming to climb to a higher social class–Democratic party affiliation is the sine qua non of being taken for a serious, non-hayseed human being.
For these people, liberalism is not a belief at all. No, it’s something more important: a badge of certain social aspirations. That is why the laments of the small-town leftists get voiced with such intemperance and desperation. As if those who voice them are fighting off the nagging thought: If the Republicans aren’t particularly evil, then maybe I’m not particularly special.
When Tom Landry retired from the NFL after coaching the Dallas Cowboys from their birth as an NFL franchise, his then-recent losing seasons were quickly forgotten, and as Skip Bayless wrote in his biography, Landry was free to become his own legend. The many losing seasons that Letterman racked up at CBS will similarly be forgotten, and what will be remembered will be the breakthrough of his early NBC years. Its empty postmodernism ultimately sewed the bitterness of Letterman’s unwatchable last years, but for a time, his willingness to puncture all of television’s most beloved tropes sure made for great viewing, didn’t it?
Related: “Johnny Carson Worried David Letterman Would ‘Self Destruct,’” former Tonight Show head writer Raymond Siller notes at Big Hollywood:
In ‘95 I invited Johnny to lunch for his 70th birthday at a restaurant in Malibu. Letterman, having lost The Tonight Show to Jay Leno, had begun The Late Show at CBS. Johnny had hoped he’d inherit his job, but NBC chose Jay. The helicopter dad in him was critiquing his protégé.
David’s on self-destruct and it may be too late to pull out. He’s consistently two ratings points behind Leno. People won’t want to say they watch him among their friends and he’ll never get them back. He’s changed since he went over to CBS. He makes his staff stay after the show each night to analyze it. And the way he makes fun of people. I could never do that.
Johnny was a lot more sarcastic than his on-air persona, but he couldn’t bring himself to ridicule his fans.
“I didn’t like how he handled hosting the Oscars. You’re at their event. You have to respect it”.
Then on the Letterman reclusiveness. “I’m private, but David is secret”.
Last year, when he reviewed former longtime Carson confidant Henry Bushkin’s memoirs at Commentary, veteran TV producer Rob Long praised Carson’s incredible acting skills:
It was Carson’s mother, according to the unlicensed psychoanalysis of Henry Bushkin, who was at the root of his emotionally distant, even cruel, behavior. “As long as [Ruth Carson] lived, he strove to win her love, and he never received it. He was the child of an emotionally abusive mother—no matter how strong or successful he became, he was a child whose trust had been betrayed.”
Others agreed. “‘She was selfish and cold,’ Johnny’s second wife, Joanne, once told an interviewer. ‘No wonder he had trouble dealing with women. Mrs. Carson was cold, closed off, a zero when it came to showing affection.’”
And when she died, he called Bushkin with the news: “The wicked witch is dead.”
None of this is really news, of course. We’re all primed to hear stories of movie stars and celebrities and their creepy emotional problems. But for actors—who, after all, appear only on screen, in character, or in a few carefully stage-managed publicity appearances—it’s easy to cover up the seams of a psychotic or broken-down personality.
But Johnny appeared on television every weeknight. He was playing himself—or, rather, an idealized version of himself: jovial, chummy, witty, warm. The strain of that kind of acting must have been monumental. It’s no wonder that real movie stars—Jimmy Stewart, Michael Caine, a whole bushel of A-listers—respected him so much. In one of the best stories in a book filled with great stories, when Johnny arrives late to a very exclusive industry event filled with movie stars, he lights up the room. He wasn’t just the king of late night television. He was the king of managing not to appear like the rat bastard he clearly was.
Given Carson’s own legendary anger issues off the air, Letterman’s palpable on-air burnout in recent years is a reminder of what a brilliant performance Carson gave pretending to be himself while the cameras were on, even as, like Letterman, his life became increasingly insular and isolated. But then, knowing what we now know about Carson’s inner demons, in an odd way, perhaps Johnny was personally far better at being a practicing the on-air art of postmodernist distancing than Letterman ever was, as he delivered nightly what Kathy Shaidle once dubbed “Carson’s cool-warmth — that charming-yet-menacing mien.”
“I am mystified as to why Republicans are always so polite to journalists who are, obviously, allied to the liberal side of American politics and are willing to carry water for it,” John Steele Gordon writes at Commentary. And we all know what the question is, at this point, right? ““Knowing what you know now, would you have invaded Iraq in 2003?”
So, if I were running for president (alright, no snickering in the back of the room, please), I’d answer in one of two ways. First way, ask the journalist a question. In response to “Knowing what you know now, would you have invaded Iraq in 2003,” ask “Knowing what you know now, would you have abandoned Iraq in 2011?” and then talk about how the new president in 2017 will have to deal with the results of the most shockingly inept American foreign policy since Woodrow Wilson sailed for Paris a century ago.
The second way to answer would be to ask, “Excuse me, is this a history show or a news show? Are you a historian or a journalist? If the latter why aren’t you asking about what I would do in the future, not what I would have done in the past? Are you trying to protect the Obama Administration from the criticism it so richly deserves for its disastrous foreign policy?” When the journalist, inevitably, says no to that, say, “Well, you could have fooled me. How about asking me an honest question?”
As Glenn Reynolds likes to say, punch back twice as hard.
This is the GOP primary, remember? Republican voters love it when their candidates punch back twice as hard against the MSM. George W. Bush lost no voters in 2000 when an open mic caught calling out the New York Times’ Adam Clymer as the big, well, Clymer he is. Newt Gingrich rose from the political dead to becoming a hair’s breadth away from securing the GOP nomination in 2012 purely because GOP primary voters loved watching him taking clueless DNC-MSM reporters’ questions and jamming them back into their throats. We saw Rand Paul do something similar recently when he tossed a hand grenade of an abortion question right back to the MSM and one of their de facto leaders, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
But why aren’t we seeing clip after clip this year of all of the Republican candidates employing similar tactics? They’ve had three years since watching both Newt nearly secure the nomination and Mitt Romney’s earnest but clueless presidential bid that followed. Old media’s tactics are, well, old. For once, why can’t the Stupid Party grow a brain?
At his new Diary of a Mad Voter site, Roger L. Simon noted last night, “Refighting the Iraq War of 2007 is waste of energy. We are up to our necks in a bigger one now and absolutely devoid of strategy.”
John Nolte answers the question thusly:
Dear Dumbass @GOP: REPORTER: Was Iraq a mistake? YOU: It will be if Obama continues to lose a won war in Iraq. –You’re welcome.
— John Nolte (@NolteNC) May 18, 2015
Particularly when, as Moe Lane writes, “Barack Obama campaigned on losing the war in Iraq” — and campaigned hard on doing just that in 2008. And concurrently banked (successfully) on his allies in the media having a serious case of amnesia concerning their fellow Democrats:
Update: “Ted Cruz dropped the hammer on the media for continuing to ask him about gay rights.” Don’t miss the clip at the conclusion of the post of Cruz pushing back against a DNC-MSM “that is obsessed with sex,” as Cruz tells one Democrat operative with a byline.
The other day, I mentioned the old cliche of journalism that invariably when a superstar “objective” MSM reporter or anchorman retires from his beat or unclips his lavaliere for the last time, he begins giving speeches and writing op-eds that reveal conclusively what everyone simply assumed from his story selection and tone — that he’s a flaming full-on lefty. (QED: Walter Cronkite and Dan Rather among many, many others, which is why it’s such a cliche.) Duke professor Jerry Hough is the very definition of politically correct; as Steve Hayward wrote yesterday at Power Line, in the 1980s, Hough’s anti-Reagan rhetoric was so extreme, “You wondered sometimes whether he was on the Soviets’ payroll.”
In other words, he’s MSNBC and NPR’s core demographic. Which is what makes Hough’s recent letter to the New York Times all the more powerful:
In 1965 the Asians were discriminated against as least as badly as blacks. That was reflected in the word “colored.” The racism against what even Eleanor Roosevelt called the yellow races was at least as bad.
So where are the editorials that say racism doomed the Asian-Americans. They didn’t feel sorry for themselves, but worked doubly hard.
I am a professor at Duke University. Every Asian student has a very simple old American first name that symbolizes their desire for integration. Virtually every black has a strange new name that symbolizes their lack of desire for integration. The amount of Asian-white dating is enormous and so surely will be the intermarriage. Black-white dating is almost non-existent because of the ostracism by blacks of anyone who dates a white.
It was appropriate that a Chinese design won the competition for the Martin Luther King [statue]. King helped them overcome. The blacks followed Malcolm X.
As Steve Hayward notes, “Hough is not backing down, sending a follow up comment to a local TV station:”
“I am strongly against the obsession with “sensitivity.” The more we have emphasized sensitivity in recent years, the worse race relations have become. I think that is not an accident. I know that the 60 years since the Montgomery bus boycott is a long time, and things must be changed. The Japanese and other Asians did not obsess with the concentration camps and the fact they were linked with blacks as “colored.” They pushed ahead and achieved. Coach K did not obsess with all the Polish jokes about Polish stupidity. He pushed ahead and achieved. And by his achievement and visibility, he has played a huge role in destroying stereotypes about Poles. Many blacks have done that too, but no one says they have done as well on the average as the Asians. In my opinion, the time has come to stop talking incessantly about race relations in general terms as the President and activists have advocated, but talk about how the Asians and Poles got ahead—and to copy their approach. I don’t see why that is insensitive or racist.”
Sadly, those two statements read as remarkably truthful words concerning the last 70 years of assimilation and advancement and the lack thereof, so naturally, the left are already attempting to devour Hough for his comments. But at age 80, presumably with a fabulous pension, what can they do to him? As Glenn Reynolds writes, “Even being an old commie apologist isn’t enough to keep you from being savaged over this badthink. But if you can’t say what you believe is true when you’re an 80-year-old professor, when can you?”