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Ed Driscoll

Memo to Bill de Blasio: Radical Chic Not How-To Book

December 21st, 2014 - 2:49 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They got their wish.

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

“Allegedly.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or its clip art.

 

Quote of the Day

December 20th, 2014 - 5:18 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Its Orgin and Purpose, Still a Total Mystery

December 20th, 2014 - 3:25 pm

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

 

Related:

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

Update:

More from Rick Moran at the PJ Tatler.

The Next Late Shift Writes Itself

December 20th, 2014 - 1:42 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baby, There’s a Lot of Hoden Angst Outside

December 20th, 2014 - 11:11 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 19th, 2014 - 10:55 am

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

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

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

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

But KCNA applauded the attack.

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

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

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

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

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

* Foreign and domestic.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

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

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

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

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

obamacare_wheel_mud_big_11-3-13

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

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

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

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

How bad has the state become?

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

That bad.

Asking the Important Questions

December 18th, 2014 - 10:29 am

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

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

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

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

More: Potemkin numbers, all the way down.

Shep Smith Fails the Ailes Test

December 17th, 2014 - 8:18 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“The great start-up slowdown” is explored by the Washington Post:

The more pronounced of those trends is a slowing birthrate for new businesses. The slowdown has persisted over two decades and has worsened since 2000. Economists aren’t entirely sure what’s causing it.

The nation’s “start-up rate,” the number of new companies as a share of total companies, declined by 12 percent from the late 1980s to the eve of the Great Recession. That’s according to research by John Haltiwanger, a pathbreaking University of Maryland economist who studies business dynamics, and several co-authors. They found the rate dropped even further during the recession: By 2011, it was about 25 percent lower than it was in the late ’80s.

Recent research from the Brookings Institution confirms that compared to 25 years ago, a smaller share of Americans today work in start-up companies and that a smaller share of companies are start-ups. Even the tech industry — that bastion of venture capital and IPOs — has seen its start-up rate decline. In 1982, Haltiwanger and coauthors report, 3 in 5 high-tech firms were young start-ups; in 2012, that had fallen to less than 2 in 5.

This is bad for middle-class workers. Newer companies create a lot more jobs, on net, than long-established ones, according to several studies, including a recent one by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which compiles economic statistics for wealthy nations around the world. (This is true even though so many start-ups fail.) Haltiwanger’s research suggests America would have 1.1 million more jobs today if dynamism were still at even mid-1980s levels. More jobs would reduce competition among would-be workers for available slots, which would mean companies would need to pay workers more to attract or keep them.

I blame the Washington Post.

Well, at least a little bit. After pulling out all the stops to get Mr. Obama elected, at dawn of his presidency, the Post, through its then-Newsweek division, ran the following cover:

2009_socialist_newsweek_cover_5-5-13-1

If you’re plumping for socialism, you’re also rejecting a dynamic entrepreneur-friendly economy in search of what Virginia Postrel calls stasism, a freeze-dried early-20th century economic paradigm in which big corporations, through plenty of help from government, happily crush small businesses into the ground.

Short of full-out nationalization*, that model seems like an ideal solution or at least a nifty modified limited hangout** when your industry is in its death-throes, and it’s not a coincidence that the Graham Family first divested itself of Newsweek after a half century of ownership for a dollar a year and a half after the above cover, and then last year offloaded the Post itself at fire-sale prices to Jeff Bezos.

Since Bezos made his money launching a quintessential start-up, presumably the new iteration of the Post is a bit more start-up friendly (at least for now). But the sins of their namesake predecessors shouldn’t be forgotten.

* Which Salon called on the government to do to all of media. No, really. Say, I wonder if they’ll ask the new Congress to take up the idea next year…?

** Whom the Gods destroy, they first transform into the second coming of the Post’s nemesis, the Nixon Administration. (See also: Rather, Dan.)

Quote of the Day

December 17th, 2014 - 5:01 pm

“I just think it’s ironic that in the 50 years that have passed under embargo, America has moved closer to communism than Cuba has to liberty.”

—Kate McMillan, Small Dead Animals, today.

Life in Post-Truth America

December 17th, 2014 - 4:03 pm

American transformed itself into Orwell’s Oceania so slowly, I hardly even noticed. Fortunately, Daniel Greenfield did; at his Sultan Knish blog, he charts the Inner Party’s descent into madness from Bill Clinton’s “what the meaning of ‘is’ is” moment until today, when he concludes:

Progressives don’t only live in a post-American world; they live in a post-Truth world. A world without facts and without truth is one in which the America that was cannot exist.

America had prospered because of a firm belief in a discoverable and exploitable reality. That was the country that could build skyscrapers and fleets in a year. Post-Truth America has little interest in big buildings because it’s too busy enacting a psychodrama in which the earth is about to be destroyed. And fleets, like horses and bayonets and facts, are 19th century toys that are much less interesting than the manipulation of people through lies and deceit.

Lena Dunham’s Barry and Obama’s Barry are both imaginary creatures. They are the sophisticated products of disordered minds and a disordered civilization whose leading figures lie as instinctively and as shamelessly as any pre-rational culture that could not distinguish between lies and truth.

Read the whole thing.

What happens when those disordered minds shaping a disordered civilization are called on their madness? “Win, and a multitude of weaknesses will go unnoticed. Lose, and out comes the crazy,” Steve Sailer writes on “The Progressive crack-up of late 2014,” And who brings the muscle behind the crazy? It’s “The Left’s Shock Troops,” Rich Lowry adds at NRO. “Anti-police protesters have found their enemy, and it is commuters and shoppers.”

But then, the left have been targeting hapless American commuters for decades now:

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‘Pretend Mel Gibson Is Roman Polanski’

December 17th, 2014 - 3:19 pm

“3 Ways The Biblical Blockbuster Can Get Its Groove Back,” as proffered by Hans Fiene at the Federalist:

I know, I know. Nobody in Hollywood wants to touch him. I know he got behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated and said some reprehensible things about Jewish people. But remember what Mel Gibson accomplished in 2004. He took a cast of mostly no-name actors, had them speak exclusively in Hebrew and Aramaic, and made the highest grossing R-rated film in U.S. history.

More importantly, he made an absurdly Catholic film, and all the Pope-hating Protestants in the country poured into their church buses and made pilgrimages to the local multiplex to see it. Seriously, “The Passion of the Christ” is the cinematic equivalent of a two-hour, spurting crucifix, and the same people who won’t even walk into sanctuaries with the corpse of Jesus carved onto a cross rewarded him with $370 million domestic.

So if you want to achieve “Passion”-level results at the box office, you need to get over your aversion to Gibson and hire a man who has both the trust of Christian audiences and the cinematic talent necessary for such a feat. But how do you forgive his unforgivable transgressions? Easy, just pretend he’s Roman Polanski, the critically acclaimed director who hasn’t stepped foot on U.S. soil since fleeing sentencing for six sexual assault related charges in 1977.

Polanksi hasn’t had a hard time getting work after his indiscretions. He’s directed eleven feature films since then, and notable actors such as Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Johnny Depp, Ewan McGregor, and Kate Winslet have had no moral objection to working with him. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences even gave him a Best Director Oscar, along with a standing ovation. in 2003. So if giving work to Mel Gibson makes you feel a little ill because of the unforgiveable speech that spewed forth from his drunken lips, just pretend that he did something far more pardonable, like Roman Polanski did.

If your conscience can’t handle employing a man who said some anti-Semitic words a decade ago, just pretend that he drugged and sodomized a 13-year-old girl instead, and that should put you at ease when you sign the contract.

Or heck Hollywood, just pretend Mel’s a film executive at Sony, and everything’s golden, right?

‘This Is Cyberwar, Not Tabloid Fodder’

December 17th, 2014 - 2:54 pm

OK, to be fair, modern Hollywood has beclowned itself so badly in the post-9/11 era, that there is a weird kabuki-like performance art to the whole North Korea-versus Hollywood story, but as Abe Greenwald writes at Commentary, “The Sony hacking story has largely been treated as a juicy showbiz gossip scandal. We’re probably going to regret that:”

If North Korea is behind the computer hacks and threats to terrorize theaters showing The Interview, it confirms a new era of rogue-state terrorism, one for which there’s no counterterrorism blueprint. According to the New York Times, Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema has killed its scheduled New York premier of the anti-Kim Jong-un comedy. The Hollywood Reporter says that the country’s top five theater chains have pulled out of showing the film. Time says the movie’s stars, James Franco and Seth Rogen, have called off their publicity tour. A spate of film executives are backpedaling for their lives as their emails are picked through and published to viral derision. The Times’s Michael Cieply and Brooks Barnes write that the theater threat “opens a new range of worry for Hollywood.”

As Allahpundit adds at Hot Air, “Rarely do you see a terrorist victory quite this total. Bow down, America:”

I hope our fearless leadership in Washington is preparing some form of retaliation, cyber or otherwise, for the NorKs for terrorizing an American industry into submission. By dropping the film under pressure, the theaters are making the same concession that newspapers made in refusing to publish the Mohammed cartoons, replacing the free-speech norms of American culture with the norms of a more illiberal one. Going forward, with respect to North Korea at least, Hollywood will follow North Korean rules for what can and can’t be said. That can’t stand. And it’s a disgrace that Obama hasn’t said so already.

Speaking of retaliation, this is a nice idea but fraught with problems. Imagine being a North Korean peasant who picks up a DVD of “The Interview” that he found on the ground, brings it back to his home having no idea what it is, and then gets a surprise visit from the NorK gestapo, who find the disc on his kitchen table. What happens to that guy? There has to be a better way to strike back. This is one, especially if Sony makes the download free.

Update (Allahpundit): North Korea’s GDP as of 2011 was $40 billion. Sony’s market cap today is $22 billion. Seems like a reasonably evenly matched virtual fight. Why doesn’t Sony build its own cyberarmy and counter if the feds won’t?

Update (Allahpundit): What’d I just say about following North Korean rules?

The chilling effect of the Sony Pictures Hacking and terror threats against The Interview are reverberating. New Regency has scrapped another project that was to be set in North Korea. The untitled thriller, set up in October, was being developed by director Gore Verbinski as a star vehicle for Foxcatcher’s Steve Carell. It’s a paranoid thriller written by Steve Conrad and it was going to start production in March. Insiders tell me under the current circumstances, it just makes no sense to move forward. The location won’t be transplanted.

Jihadi hackers would be nuts not to try this the next time a war movie is in the works. In hindsight, it’s amazing Zero Dark Thirty made it to the screen.

Oh sure, ISIS and the Iranians are great at headchopping and blowing stuff up, but they don’t have the technological know-how to pull off serious Neo-in-the-Matrix-level corporate database hacking cyberwar activities, right? Which brings us back to Abe Greenwald at Commentary:

In February, hackers laid digital waste to Sheldon Adelson’s Sands casino, forcing the Sands to temporarily disconnect from the Internet. It was a massive undertaking that wiped out or compromised millions of files. Bloomberg reports that “recovering data and building new systems could cost the company $40 million or more” (a figure coincidently close to the $44 million Sony sunk into The Interview). Why did hackers target Adelson? The cyberterrorists who hit him call themselves the “Anti-WMD Team.” They are based in Iran, and claim retaliation for Adelson’s hawkish remarks about the Islamic Republic. Here’s the rub, via Bloomberg:

The security team couldn’t determine if Iran’s government played a role, but it’s unlikely that any hackers inside the country could pull off an attack of that scope without its knowledge, given the close scrutiny of Internet use within its borders. “This isn’t the kind of business you can get into in Iran without the government knowing,” says James Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

So, if the evidence is pointing in the right direction, dictatorships are tanking our enterprise, holding us hostage, and essentially turning us into their offshore subjects.

And thus we come full circle with our opening Tweet:

It’s hard to imagine worse people than today’s Hollywood executives and actors, but North Korean, Iranian and Cuban terrorists all qualify. And our semi-retired president, in full YOLO mode, is negotiating with at least two thirds of those monsters. Sleep tight, America.

Michelle Obama’s Rashomon Racism

December 17th, 2014 - 2:11 pm

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

The protective bubble that comes with the presidency – the armored limo, the Secret Service detail, the White House – shields Barack and Michelle Obama from a lot of unpleasantness. But their encounters with racial prejudice aren’t as far in the past as one might expect. And they obviously still sting.

* * * * * * * *

“I tell this story – I mean, even as the first lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new.”

“The Obamas: How We Deal with Our Own Racist Experiences,” a People Magazine “Exclusive,” today.

“That’s my Target run. I went to Target,” she said. “I thought I was undercover. I have to tell you something about this trip though. No one knew that was me because a woman actually walked up to me, right? I was in the detergent aisle, and she said — I kid you not — she said, ‘Excuse me, I just have to ask you something,’ and I thought, ‘Oh, cover’s blown.’ She said, ‘Can you reach on that shelf and hand me the detergent?’  I kid you not.”

As the audience laughed, she went on, “And the only thing she said — I reached up, ’cause she was short, and I reached up, pulled it down — she said, ‘Well, you didn’t have to make it look so easy.’ That was my interaction. I felt so good. … She had no idea who I was. I thought, as soon as she walked up — I was with my assistant, and I said, ‘This is it, it’s over. We’re going to have to leave.’ She just needed the detergent.”

“Michelle Obama talks Target and her dad on Letterman’s couch,” the Politico, March 19, 2012.

As the Insta-Professor adds today in response to the First Lady’s Target-ed revisionism, “What’s interesting to me about this obviously-contrived episode is how hard the Obamas are working to position themselves as Super-Sharptons for the post-presidency.”

(H/T: Ashe Schow.)

Update: From Jim Treacher, “Michelle Obama: America Is So Racist, A White Lady At Target Asked Me To Reach The Top Shelf,” with video of Michelle on Letterman in 2012 during her earlier, funnier days.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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