Nina Yablok (aka PJM’s attorney, aka Mrs. Ed Driscoll) who’s been organizing the Bullets & Bourbon event in the Dallas Fort Worth area coming this December featuring Glenn, Dana Loesch, Ed Morrissey, Kevin D. Williamson, Roger L. Simon, Steve Green and Mark Rippetoe is scheduled to appear on Michael Graham’s radio show at 10:45 eastern/7:45 pacific tomorrow morning on Atlanta’s News Radio 106.7 FM. Tune in here to listen online; for more on Bullets & Bourbon (we’d love to see you attend), click here.
I know there are some regular readers of PJM who don’t also frequently scan Instapundit.com to get the latest headlines. If you’re one of them and wondering where I’ve been lately, I’m over there posting links to breaking stories. Ed Driscoll.com was one of many blogs that started in the wake of 9/11 inspired by Glenn Reynolds’ early use of blogging software to aggregate news, and when, after his recent vacation, Glenn asked his regular co-bloggers to stay on posting, I was happy to take up the call.
As you’ve seen over the past couple of weeks, my wife has been running our regular series on our planned escape from the policies of Sacramento to Texas, and I’ll keep using this space for longer articles, podcasts, interviews, etc. But until Glenn and/or the Powers That Be at PJM come to their senses, you can catch me every day at Instapundit. (And also on Twitter – follow me here.)
As someone once said, read the whole thing.
(And if you can make plans to be in the Dallas-Fort Worth area in December, you’re invited to hang out with Glenn, Roger L. Simon, Steve Green, Dana Loesch, Ed Morrissey, Kevin D. Williamson, Mark Rippetoe — and me, by attending here.)
Has it been a week since I last posted? Bad Nina, no donuts.
It’s been a hectic week. In addition to crazy-making work, we’ve had a new shower installed in Texas. While a lot of the house is really nice and well done, the shower in the master bathroom… not so much. It was a one piece, install it yourself type thing, which I’m sure could be perfectly nice. But I’m also pretty sure you’re not supposed to see screw heads all around the shower. I think perhaps you’re supposed to screw the flanges that hold it in place into the studs and put sheet rock over the flange. But what do I know, I’m just a silly girl but I didn’t want a shower with screw heads visible all around the top.
So we found a great (I hope) shower/tile guy (we get to see the results in person next week) and a plumber with great reviews online and I’ve been playing minor project general contractor remotely all week. We did a huge remodel project here in California about 12 years ago, and we had a terrific general contractor so we didn’t have to do any coordinating. But I spent a lot of time on the phone this week making sure people had keys and knew who was supposed to be where. I’ve now added on my list of things to look for in builders for when we do more major construction… someone who can do all of the logistics. I love doing that and if I didn’t have a day job, I’d be thrilled to do it. But it’s not in the cards.
But as I said, we don’t see that until we visit next week. So the other exciting thing is Mongo has Gone To Texas!!!! Mongo as you may remember is our 1998 Toyota 4Runner. He’s our first big thing to be moved. So back to the Interwebz, find a car shipping company (it’s really an referral type company, they post moves and find trucking companies to do the work). I found one (yes I will name names once Mongo is safe and sound in Texas), and waited… and waited and finally Monday I got the call “your truck will be up your car on Thursday.” And today Mongo was loaded on a car trailer. He’ll arrive in Texas on Sunday.
Ed never named his cars, but I have named many of mine, except the ones I shared with my ex, who was not as tolerant as Ed of my car naming habit. In order, the named ones are: Supercar, (Mustang convertible that was stolen from a rental company in which my father owned an interest and which was found near my college, which was my first car) Florence (green VW beetle); OMG, I forgot the name of the 912 Porsche, maybe it didn’t have a name; Lemming V. Supercar (another VW Beetle). And more recently Swampmobile, Swampmobile II (both early 1990s Toyota Camrys), Landcrusher (1987 Toyota land Cruiser, the selling of which can still bring tears to my eyes), Mongo Sr. (2007 Toyota Tundra which we would ever have sold had we known we were moving to Texas ), Blue Max (1987 pristine Mercedes 350 SEL) and Mongo Jr. Anyway — in spite of promising Ed I wouldn’t do it, I told the driver that Mongo’s name was Mongo. Ed advised him that Vanishing Point was a not how-to guide for southwestern auto delivery. I did not however tell the driver to sing “Soft Kitty” to Mongo if he got homesick.
God Speed Mongo. Next week in Texas.
I realized that I’m starting this Ed and Nina’s Excellent Adventure series somewhere after the beginning. So I thought I’d tell the backstory so you know what’s going on. As a result this post may be a bit long. You can skip it, and if the rest of our shenanigans grab your interest, you can come back to see how it started.
My father played football. He was All American in college and played in the East-West Shrine game with Bronco Nagurski. He made it to the pro ranks when football players got $250.00 a game. He wasn’t all that good, and the money wasn’t all that good, and the risk of getting a concussion was that good. He and football parted company. I tell you this because I was brought up watching football on TV, and football is an important theme in this story.
I was born and raised in New York City. I’m talking Manhattan, New York City: apartment houses, subways, concrete, no lawns. Queens has lawns, Brooklyn has lawns – Manhattan, at least where I grew up, has no lawns. It’s the concrete jungle, maaaan.
After college, a job and then law school, not to mention a stint driving a cab in NYC while in school, I moved to California.
I have a lawn now. I live in the suburbs, in a track house (albeit highly remodeled). We have a lawn – in fact we have two lawns, one in front, and one in back. But we can see all of our neighbors’ rooftops from our windows. Depending on who’s living in the rental next door, we can HEAR our neighbors from inside. Living on a cul de sac among other cul de sacs, we have lots of back yard neighbors. On warm summer’s evenings, if we’re sitting outside we can hear our neighbors as well as Jimmy Stewart heard his in Rear Window. You know, the suburbs. Not the concrete jungle, but not rural.
So here I am, New York City girl living in the suburbs in Silicon Valley.
I became re-singled about 20 years ago. I met a guy on a CompuServe dating oriented forum. He lived in New Jersey. A year later he moved to California. A year later we got married. What brought us together over 3000 miles? Well in addition to lots of other compatibilities – it was football.
Our little CompuServe forum had a chat room. This was way before anyone had heard of “social media” and the www part of the internet wasn’t ubiquitous. But we, the few the proud, the early adopters had a chat room. On Sundays people would gather in the chat room. I would occasionally type an expletive. People probably thought I had some rare form of written Turret’s Syndrome. But this guy from NJ was obviously watching the same football game as I, and he knew that my expletive indicated that Jerry Rice had dropped a catch or Joe Montana had been tackled. So we started to talk in the private chat window that CompuServe also had.
A year later Mr. NJ (aka Ed Driscoll) had moved to California and a year after that we got married – romance growing from me cursing at a football game.
When we first bought our house, we obviously told a few friends and relatives people that we bought a house in Texas.
Mostly they fell into two categories, let’s call them Group E for excited, and Group C for cranky… or colonoscopy.
Group E people really did get excited. They asked for pictures, asked where they could plug in their RV, and when we showed them pictures, they said things like “OMG it is so spacious and light. So much room!!!” or “I love the view from the back deck.” Or I think you are going to love it there! All that land and an infinite horizon.” And then they took a breath.
Group C people got really… well they would sound like I just made a colonoscopy appointment for them. The telephone receiver would start to get cold in your hand as they pause and try to regain some semblance of control. Then they said ”How nice. What do you do there?”
Group E people ALL bet us that we’d move there sooner than we thought back last year when we bought the place.
Group C sounded relieved when we said we weren’t moving right now and would spend a few weeks a year there to see if we liked it. We would end the phone call with the group C people saying, reassuringly, if we don’t like it we can always sell it. Which is not why we bought it – but geez people, it’s not like a tattoo which you can’t get rid of.
Now that we’ve decided to move, the Group E people, who of course were the first ones we told, are strutting around saying “told you so”… well except for one friend who said “I know you’d move, you’ve run out of projects on this (our current) house.”
We’ve not told the Group C people we’re moving. I believe some of them have written us off as dead or at least partially brain dead. Notwithstanding that I have cousins on both coasts and DFW is sort of in the middle, I have been led to believe it would be inadvisable to attempt a family reunion in Texas (did I mention my family background being NYC liberal?) . I’m just having too much fun with my spreadsheets to br brought down by attitude.
We now have meetings with one acoustic designer/architect; one architect-builder; one just architect; and one just builder for our trip in July. Hopefully when we get back at the end of the month we will have made some progress on the building front. Until then, I’m going to bounce up and down in my chair and be excited.
The challenge for this week is to get the 4Runner we bought here in California, to Texas. Renting a car every time we visiting was getting expensive. And we’ll need another “daily” car once we move. Our current cars (yes they all have names) are a 1992 Toyota Camry called the Swampmobile. It’s really Swampmobile II. Our prior car was a 1990 Camry that had been left in the rain with the sun roof cracked open and… well it was a swamp when we bought it; and the Blue Max – a pristine 1985 Mercedes 350 SEL, bought from the proverbial little old lady from Pasadena (only she was from Los Gatos) who only drove it on weekend jaunts. We bought it with only 89,000 miles on it about 3 years ago. The little old lady had picked it up at the factory and had every single piece of paper related to the car, including the ads from that year for the car and a little note from the factory saying “if you arrive at the factory before 10am, please feel free to have some breakfast in the employee’s cafeteria.”
We figured we needed a bigger car for running errands etc. And we tend not to buy new cars. Given that Ed’s father once owned a Chevrolet dealership, there’s a long culture war story about cars, if y’all want some family gossip, and when I have time, I’ll share it. But a used 4Runner seemed a good idea.
We bought it here because we have close friends who are car people, and we figured we would get a much better deal and be able to fix it up for much less if we did all that here, and then shipped it. My spreadsheet figured out that we could actually save money that way. So right now I’m waiting for the shipping company to put me in touch with a truck taking cars from California to Texas.
As we have excellent adventures… and can make some recommendations of the service providers we’ve found, I will post names and links.
Oh and the 4Runner’s name is Mongo. And yes, it is just a pawn in the game of life. And yes, there is a story behind that too.
Hello everyone. I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say hey all y’all yet, but as some of you may know, Ed and I are moving to Texas in 2016, and I’m not sure if I’m allowed to say all y’all if we’re just property owners or if we have to have moved.
Oh and I didn’t introduce myself, I’m Nina Yablok, aka Mrs. Ed Driscoll.
I’ve wanted to blog about moving to Texas but I’m miserable about blogging consistently. In fact I started to blog last year when we were buying the house, but then … did I mention the terrible about blogging consistently thing?
But now we have an approximate move date and we’re starting to do things, so I thought that by blogging here at Ed’s blog he could sort of egg me on. And if nothing else I would hate to embarrass him by wimping out again.
I am VP in charge of logistics and planning Chez Driscoll-Yablok. While I may not be as bad as the Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon Cooper — I’ve never created a bowel movement spreadsheet — I am rather fond of my spreadsheets and Gantt charts. So obviously I started one… OK three… as soon as we made the decision that we would in fact move in spring of 2016. I thought I was a bit premature, but since we’ve started talking to some of the professionals we’ll be using, it seems I’m not too early at all.
So here are the details. You should probably book mark this (or make a spreadsheet) so you can always refer back to it as I regale you with our trials and tribulations.
The spread, aka the Fairlight Ranch aka Rancho Casa de Ed and Nina House, 16 acres of prime prairie land at an secret location (we’re big on secret locations) somewhere a bit less than 60 miles (as the vulture flies) southwest of DFW. It has five fruit trees (that actually bear fruit); four big old oak trees; some flowering dogwoods. The structures other than the house are an adorable well house (I’m from NYC, well houses can be adorable), a 30×30 metal shed, a barn with a small corral (and a tractor — which is also adorable).
The house itself was lovingly crafted in a secured, climate controlled environment to ensure it was built to careful specifications out of the way of wind, rain and creepy crawlies. In other words, it’s a prefab factory-built home. But it’s laid out almost perfectly for us, has 3000 square feet of big kitchen, big living room, big closets, big master bath and three bedrooms. And it’s nice inside, we just need to get it not to look so much like it was was lovingly crafted in a secured, climate controlled environment to ensure it was built to careful specifications out of the way of wind, rain and creepy crawlies.
But the one thing it didn’t have is a music studio. Ed has always wanted a music studio where he can play and create his music without disturbing me or any neighbors. So we’re building a combined music studio and guest house a little bit away from the main house. We’re also going to do a little something to the outside so it doesn’t look so much like it was lovingly crafted in a secured, climate controlled environment to ensure it was built to careful specifications out of the way of wind, rain and creepy crawlies.
Which brought us to start talking to architects and audio designers, three of whom we will meet when we visit Fairlight Ranch in late July. Which brought us to finding out that 10-11 months out is NOT too early to be making plans.
If anyone wants, you can look at our Pinterest page of ideas which we probably for one reason or another (can you say “budget” boys and girls?) wont implement. But it might be amusing to see how things turn out.
I hope all y’all will join us on this journey.
(Artwork created using a modified Shutterstock.com image.)
Of course. But as Hannan wrote last year in the London Telegraph, “The greatest cultural victory of the Left has been to disregard the Nazi-Soviet Pact:”
Why do we downplay that memory? Largely because it doesn’t fit with what happened later. When Hitler attacked the USSR – to the utter astonishment of Stalin, who initially ordered his soldiers not to shoot back – it was in everyone’s interest to forget the earlier phase of the war. Western Communists, who had performed extraordinary acrobatics to justify their entente with fascism, now carried out another somersault and claimed that the Nazi-Soviet Pact had only ever been a tactical pause, a moment when Stalin brilliantly stalled while building up his military capacity. Even today, the historiographical imprint of that propaganda lingers.
To the modern reader, George Orwell’s depiction of how enmity alternates between Eurasia and Eastasia seems far-fetched; but when he published his great novel in 1948, such things were a recent memory. It suited Western Leftists, during and after the War, to argue that Hitler had been uniquely evil, certainly wickeder than Stalin. It was thus necessary to forget the enthusiasm with which the two tyrants had collaborated.
If you need a refresher, read the whole thing.
(Via Small Dead Animals.)
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) June 19, 2015
How the Muslim world stomped on Obama’s heart http://t.co/ZtzvXtJ2Ur
— HotAir.com (@hotairblog) June 20, 2015
— HuffPost India (@HuffPostIndia) March 22, 2015
Forget John Kerry’s 2004 insinuation that America has failed “the global test.” The entire world has failed the Obama test. Everyone. Probably beings on other planets, too, given the media’s now-hilarious “President Spock” claims as the honeymoon was wearing off the hopenchange era to explain away his prickly, aloof nature.
As Moe Lane writes, “Like all people who are… perhaps not up for the job… Barack Obama rigorously maintains a firm distinction between ‘I’ and ‘we.’ When good things happen, it’s ‘i;’ when bad things do, it’s ‘we.’ Pretty straightforward, really.”
“The Horror,” as spotted by InstaPundit:
So, do you wanna go to The Gap?
Plus, the real takeaway:
Michael hated her own “Whiteness,” but admitted she “disliked the Whiteness of other White people more.”
“I felt like the way to really end racism was to feel guilty for it, and to make other White people feel guilty for it too,” she stressed.
Just replace “White” with “Jewish” in these sorts of stories and “Progressive” headlines, and it all makes sense. (It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be angry that this is the left’s latest obsession, but it does make sense. Fish gotta fish, birds gotta be, and the left needs an Emmanuel Goldstein to explain away why socialist nirvana never arrives.)
Well, since 2008, NBC has certainly been doing their damnedest to gin up the race hatred via their spin-off channel, “better described as Jim Crow TV,” as Jeffrey Lord of the American Spectator accurately described it last year.
In 1977′s Annie Hall, Woody Allen memorably satirized the differences between the cultures of Los Angeles and New York, tropes that exist to this day. And while New Yorkers look down upon L.A. culture with a certain amount of justified bemusement, high tech residents of Silicon Valley observe the patched-together technological infrastructure of New York with a wry grin as well. My wife once compared New York to those scenes in Terry Gilliam’s Brazil or the Max Headroom TV series where vast banks of computers exist side by side with telephone and electrical systems that look like they’re out of 1930s Berlin. (Mike Bloomberg’s obsession with bike lanes only increased the Blade Runner-like atmosphere of the place.)
So it’s not surprising that New Yorkers don’t quite seem to get the Internet in the same way as we Silicon Valley residents. (Yes, I’m stereotyping wildly here. See also: observations of Allan Stewart Konigsberg on L.A.) Legendary technology expert Sen. Ted Stevens, the Marshall McLuhan of the 21st century, famously referred to the Internet as “a series of tubes” in 2006. Long before the birth of the Internet, New York had its own series of tubes — the subway, and its use by millions of commuters is a big reason why the city can sustain five major newspapers. And while the New York Times is these days, a scrappy underdog struggling for survival (as Iowahawk would say) when compared to the much larger readership of the Wall Street Journal (and on the Web, the London Daily Mail), you’d think its editors wouldn’t be so provincial as to allow the following passage about NBC and Brian Williams into print:
NBC’s handling of Mr. Williams suggests that the network is still clinging to an increasingly anachronistic vision of the anchor’s chair as a sacred throne, and the anchor as the voice of moral authority. It’s a response that seems in many ways tone-deaf to the striking changes in the way we consume information — changes that are reshaping the relationship between newscasters and consumers. The news anchor is no longer the embodiment of reason and truth; his voice is now just one of many. And network TV is just another platform.
Who is “we” in the above passage? Those of us on the Internet don’t watch TV news anymore, except when held hostage in airport departure lounges or when a breaking horror story on the magnitude of 9/11 or a Space Shuttle exploding occurs. (Or in the case of the Ferguson and Baltimore riots, not for the news, but to grimly observe CNN and MSNBC stoking the flames with evil abandon.) The only people left watching the nightly news on a regular basis are those dwindling number of elderly citizens too scared to go online. (Just check the target audience of the commercials that run.) When Tom Brokaw retired in 2004, paving the way for Williams’ succession, Thomas Sowell wrote:
During his long tenure as NBC News anchorman, Tom Brokaw took that program from last place among the big three broadcast networks to first place. But he had more viewers when he was in last place, more than 20 years ago, than he had in first place this year. That is because fewer people now watch NBC, ABC, or CBS News. Good!
Today, those numbers are at ten million or less for each of the Big Three networks’ nightly news broadcasts. The other day, Kathy Shaidle spotted a similarly antediluvian tone from the New Yorker. In response, she quipped, “Someone at The New Yorker just discovered the Web, everybody!”, specifically social media such as Twitter, blog comments, and Internet forums, causing the magazine to sniff:
It’s comments all the way down. Social media, at any rate, and Twitter in particular, are a continually metastasizing accretion of marginalia. A tweet is a comment implicitly calibrated to provoke further comment, by way of replies or retweets or favorites: it is a form of text produced in order not just to be read but to generate the production of further text. (Almost every time I compose a tweet and click send, I become discomfitingly aware that I just made the Internet slightly longer than it already was, which was way too long in the first place.)
Who knew! Other than everyone (with the exception of Brian Williams viewers) in the vast empty area between New York and L.A. in the New Yorker’s classic 1976 “View of the World from 9th Avenue” cover, that is. As Kathy told interviewer Mary Lou Ambrogio last year, “Read the paper upside down:”
Q: When you post articles about controversial subjects, you often introduce the article by saying, “As always, the real story is in the comment section”. That really resonates with me because I’m always struck by this phenomenon myself whereby, you’ll read a very milquetoast article on a touchy subject and then see that in the comment sections, readers let loose and talk like real people. Is it just the anonymity that makes people feel safe about expressing themselves honestly? And what, if anything, does that say about how we are being served by the main stream press when it seems like people aren’t satisfied with the kind of coverage touchy subjects get?
A: One place you’ll really see that phenomenon in action is in daily papers covering a “controversial” local story. For instance, a few years ago, there was a “racist” incident at a high school basketball game in the States; allegedly some white players had called the Hispanic players names. In the comments, however, people on the scene argued that the Hispanic players had started the name calling, but that the naive reporter didn’t realize that what they were saying was an anti-white phrase – or knew but didn’t want to report that, because that would ruin the liberal narrative. So while the comments are often full of cranks, you can also see a lot of Average Joe wisdom and insight (and fact checking) in there. That’s why I often say, “Read the paper upside down.”
Over 20 years ago, libertarian computer scientist John Gilmore famously said, “The ‘Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” Having constructed a fantasyland view of America that only exists in a handful of TV networks and newsrooms, the New York-dominated legacy media was caught utterly flat-footed both when Matt Drudge appeared on the scene in 1998, and a few years later, when the technology of the Blogosphere allowed anyone to self-publish news and opinion. No wonder they’re terrified of a vast army of Internet commenters critiquing their work. As Pauline Kael, the New Yorker’s film critic once said of Republicans, “I live in a rather special world…They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.”
Of course, there is one group that all of us, Democrats and Republicans alike, whether we work in old media like the New Yorker and New York Times, or in new media can look down upon with equal derision — YouTube commenters:
Back in April, during one of their GLoP podcasts on Ricochet.com, Jonah Goldberg, Rob Long and John Podhoretz explored the fables of the Rolling Stone rape article, Columbia’s Mattress Girl, and the general tendency of college campuses to be hotbeds of false accusations of rape, racism, and other fever swamp delusions:
PODHORETZ: But it doesn’t have to be everybody; that’s partially, I think Jonah’s point. It can be two people, it can be three people, on a campus of 4,000 or 25,000, or 50,000, who can turn the place upside-down. Somebody paints a swastika on his own door, and the entire place revolved around this fact for an entire week. It is very empowering of dangerously deluded or fallacious behavior.
GOLDBERG: We’re in a weird Nietzschian transition moment where victimhood is the way you assert your will to power.
I found that to be an intriguing concept, given that Nietzsche lit the fuse for so much of the bloodshed of the 20th century in Europe. On this side of the pond, he also empowered much of the “Progressive” and anti-American movement of the first half of the 20th century. On the left, this included Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno of the infamous Frankfurt School, transplanted to America after a rival form of Nietzsche-worshipping socialism won the day in post-Weimar Germany. And (more or less) on the right, famed journalist H.L. Mencken, who was the first to translate Nietzsche in English in 1907 and whose later polemics are chockablock full of Nietzsche-inspired attacks on traditional American culture, democracy and religion. (Including, in a much more benign form Ayn Rand — whatever her later protestations, Objectivism shares a lot in common with Nietzsche’s Will to Power. And eventually Stanley Kubrick; it’s no coincidence that 2001: A Space Odyssey’s central leitmotif is Richard Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra.)
Partially as a result of Nietzsche’s influence, think of the polar opposites that the American student is taught throughout his young life: with all of the self-esteem and “you can change the world!” rhetoric pumped into his psyche since kindergarten, by the time he gets into college, today’s student is caught between believing on the one hand, he’s the second coming of the Nietzschian Superman (no relation to famed journalist Clark Kent). And on the other, with all of the left’s obsessions with the notion that everyone is a victim, he’s concurrently Nietzsche’s Last Man, “who makes everything small” — micro, you might say, as in an obsession with “micro-aggressions.”
In his latest syndicated column, Jonah attempts to square the circle:
In 2015, our society is shot through with Nietzschean ressentiment. Today it is a great sin on college campuses — and elsewhere! — to make anyone other than the “privileged” feel uncomfortable, challenged, or otherwise psychologically threatened by the use of the wrong words or concepts.
The University of California recently issued a set of guidelines about the terrible danger of “microaggressions” — small, usually unintended slights that allegedly hurt the feelings of the newly anointed classes of victims. One must no longer say that America is a “melting pot,” for to do so is to suggest that minorities should “assimilate to the dominant culture,” according to the new moralists at the University of California.
And one mustn’t say anything that advances “the Myth of Meritocracy.” Saying “America is the land of opportunity” or “everyone can succeed in this society if they work hard enough” is now a form of bigotry.
Of course, the surest way to guarantee that America is not a meritocracy is to teach young people not only that it isn’t one, but that it’s evil to say it is, or should be, one.
Read the whole thing, which connects Nietzschean ressentiment to not just today’s campus insanities but to Rachel Dolezal (the spray-on tanned posterchild for the Will to Power through victimhood) and Hillary Clinton as well.
What is the role of art? Is it, as Lenin and his fellow thinkers believe, a tool to shape minds? Must we reject art that is impure, that comes from sources we hate or preaches messages we find distasteful? I cannot support this; indeed, I strongly reject it. It is a variation on the politicized life, that deeply harmful worldview that demands we consider all aspects of our being by some ever-shifting political standard. I can’t help but think of Kingsley Amis’ snubbing of this view in “Girl, 20.” In that 1971 novel, the narrator, a music critic, is confronted by an editor angry with him for “advertis[ing] these bastards” — “these” being the East Germans.
“You do realize, don’t you, that this chap’s only allowed abroad because he’s a loyal and trusted servant of that bloody awful regime?” the editor asks.
“Whether I do or I don’t doesn’t come into what I’m supposed to be at,” our hero replies. “The job you hired me for was to cover the most important events, and important judged by musical standards.”
Intriguingly, this fictional defense of the right to cover a communist who made beautiful music came even as Amis was drifting rightward. A few years previously, Amis had published an essay entitled “Why Lucky Jim Turned Right.” In it, he jokingly complains of being “driven into grudging tolerance of the Conservative Party because it is the part of non-politics, of resistance to politics. I have seen how many of the evils of life — failure, loneliness, fear, boredom, inability to communicate — are ineradicable by political means, and that attempts so to eradicate them are disastrous.”
—Sonny Bunch, “We’re losing sight of what art is really for,” the Washington Post, today.
“If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.”
—George Orwell, via Terry Teachout.
California? No, in this case, it’s North Korea, Walter Russell Mead writes at the American Interest. After linking to a BBC report on the Hermit State’s H20 woes, as equally avoidable as California’s, Mead responds:
The North Korean state will likely do what it normally does: pass blame while glorifying itself and continuing to subjugate its people. But the bad luck of natural phenomena like droughts merely throws the failures and incompetence of state policy into relief. As the great science-fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein once wrote:
Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as ‘bad luck.’
North Korea’s ills aren’t bad luck. When societies don’t govern themselves well, the conditions aren’t right for the people who could think through an issue like how to manage mass industrial farming. The Kim regime is so repressive that it makes the emergence of effective institutions and or individual problem solvers impossible. The North Korean would-be geniuses are mostly in gulags or starving or marching in a military parade.
After comparing Saudi Arabia’s totalitarian regime with California, Steve Green concludes:
Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy based on Islamic sharia law, which forbids drinking alcohol, oppresses women and unbelievers, and protects its borders.
California is a single-party state based on modern progressivism, which forbids smoking tobacco, oppresses the middle class and unbelievers, and protects “the environment.”
I’m not saying I prefer Saudi Arabia to California — not by a longshot. But unlike California’s Democrats, at least the Saudi Royal Family makes the toilets flush on time.
“It’s official: Brian Williams is moving to MSNBC and Lester Holt will formally replace him as ‘NBC Nightly News’ anchor, NBC News and MSNBC chairman Andrew Lack announced today,” showbiz bible Variety reports; an appropriate source considering both the Orwellian nature of the Big Three’s TV news operations, and Williams’ desire to transform himself from a more-or-less trusted newsreader to the second coming of Jon Stewart or David Letterman:
Holt, who joined NBC in 2000, has been serving as the “Nightly News” anchor since Williams was suspended in February after allegations surfaced that he misrepresented his involvement in a 1993 reporting trip to Iraq.
“I’m sorry. I said things that weren’t true,” said Williams. “I let down my NBC colleagues and our viewers, and I’m determined to earn back their trust. I will greatly miss working with the team on ‘Nightly News,’ but I know the broadcast will be in excellent hands with Lester Holt as anchor. I will support him 100% as he has always supported me. I am grateful for the chance to return to covering the news. My new role will allow me to focus on important issues and events in our country and around the world, and I look forward to it.”
Lack and Steve Burke, CEO of NBCU, have decided that Williams will return to MSNBC — where he worked from 1996 to 2004 — as anchor of breaking news and special reports. He will work with Mark Lukasiewicz, SVP of Special Reports for NBCU News Group.
When you reverse the two phrases in Variety’s headline on the Williams story, “Brian Williams Moves to MSNBC, Apologizes for Losing Audience’s Trust,” as I did for my headline above, it all makes sense, doesn’t it? As Ed Morrissey writes today, “Media analysts wonder: What does Williams move say about MSNBC?”
It confirms an argument long made about MSNBC by conservatives, which is that it has no credibility as a news bureau, even while operating under the supervision of NBC News. In fact, assigning an anchor exposed as a serial fabulist to a position of the cable channel’s “face” of news coverage almost looks like an admission that MSNBC operates at a much lower level of credibility.
Ed quotes Bloomberg’s veteran media analyst Jack Shafer, who tweets, “Not good enough for NBC but good enough for MSNBC. How does that work?”
Well, MSNBC has long served as both NBC’s farm team, where, as Variety notes, Williams began his career with the network, but it’s also the place where NBC reporters can go to really let their biases hang out for all to see (QED: Andrea Mitchell, Chuck Todd) and where the network can dump fabulists such as Al Sharpton but still keep them on the payroll. (And in the case of Sharpton, pay him protection money to reduce the odds he’ll destroy one of their own again, as Sharpton did in 2007 to former MSNBC star Don Imus.) As I wrote last night, perhaps quietly tossing Williams down into the bowels of MSNBC makes more sense than a long-protracted tabloid fodder lawsuit between Williams and the network if they terminated his contract.
Meanwhile, “Washington Post media blogger Erik Wemple sounds distraught over CNN reporter Brian Stelter’s reporting that speculation around how NBC will use disgraced anchor Brian Williams is centering on MSNBC,” NewsBusters’ Tim Graham writes, spotting Wemple pleading in his headline, “Do not foist Brian Williams on MSNBC.” As Graham writes, “Doesn’t MSNBC have enough problems?”
Putting aside the structural problem that liberals are splintered in their brand loyalties, MSNBC has caused a great deal of its struggles. Lifeless programming, tepid panel discussions, excessive liberal agreeing and the occasional nasty comment followed by an excellent apology — these are the dynamics that help to account for the cable channel’s worm-level ratings.
One problem it doesn’t need is Brian Williams. By one count, this is the guy who’s been busted by an internal investigation for 11 quite outrageous embellishments regarding his past. At the same time, Williams is a smooth news delivery vehicle with a high name recognition: If he is unloaded on MSNBC, how much worse can things get?
Considerably. MSNBC’s critics are a motivated bunch and are already busy enough with Ed Schultz, Chris Matthews & Co. Just watch what happens when Williams pilots a report having to do with Iraq or helicopters or Israel. Then again, there really aren’t a lot of places to hide a liability like Williams, whose six-month suspension is up in August. Newsrooms don’t designate set-asides for embellishers.
Now who’s being naive, Erik? As Graham writes in response, “Actually, CBS did let Dan Rather anchor the evening news for a few months after he disgraced himself in 2004, and didn’t dump him until the summer of 2006. It can be joked that every interview for Bill and Hillary Clinton is a ‘set-aside for embellishers.’ Remember ‘I dodged sniper fire in Bosnia?’” And Walter Cronkite had more than his share of “embellishments” during his two decades as CBS anchor, but the sites like NewsBusters, Hot Air and our own didn’t exist to call him out on his lies and biases during that era of monolithic mass media. More recently, ABC doesn’t seem to mind at all that George Stephanopoulos is a Hillary stalking horse posing as a journalist.
Regarding Williams, Ed Morrissey asks, “So [NBC's Andrew Lack] has chosen a fabulist to lead MSNBC to the Promised Land of journalistic integrity and objectivity?”
That would make for a hilarious joke under other circumstances, and actually is pretty amusing in this context, too. Consider this: NBC News has a stable full of talent to help them make that transition, ranging from foreign correspondents like Richard Engel to political analysts like Chuck Todd. For that matter, they could look outside the organization to woo upcoming talent away from competitors who have established credibility outside the NBC/MSNBC organization.
Rather than do that, they’ve decided to make Brian Williams the face of objective credibility at a cable channel so poorly considered that it’s become a joke in the industry. There’s only one possible reason for this decision, and that’s the money that it would take to shove Williams out the door.
In response to Erik Wemple’s cri de coeur at the Washington Post (home for several years for juiceVox ringleader Ezra Klein, self-admitted fabulist Matt Yglesias, and leftist posing as a conservative/libertarian Dave Weigel), Ed concludes, “if the plan is to hide Williams for the duration of his contract, there really isn’t any better place to put him.”
Heh, indeed — read the whole thing, as Ed’s co-speaker at the upcoming Bullets and Bourbon event in December would say.
Update: This is also equally heh-worthy:
The mafia must be looking at the Brian Williams situation and wishing they had a place like MSNBC to hide their dead bodies.
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) June 18, 2015
And elsewhere at Hot Air, Jazz Shaw adds, “As for Williams himself, it’s surprising to me that he’d even consider this move:”
Back in the nineties he started out with the company working an evening gig on MSNBC. After that he moved up to NBC News and and finally landed in the big chair. Going to Griffin’s operation has got to feel like being sent back to the kids’ table for someone who has stood on top of the mountain. But who knows? Maybe Williams just has the need to be doing the news on television engrained so deeply in his blood that he’d rather take anything than go home and retreat to obscurity with a big asterisk next to his name in the annals of journalism.
Like Dan Rather joining HDNet, Mark Cuban’s comparatively obscure cable network in 2006 after the disgrace of RatherGate, or like an aging athlete who just wants a bit more time on the field and in the locker room with the lads (Unitas’ last season with the Chargers, Namath’s with the Rams, and Emmitt Smith’s last years with the Cardinals all come immediately to mind), what else did you expect him to do?
Not every disgraced public figure can be John Profumo.
“Williams to Stay at NBC, but Not as News Anchor,” the New York Times claims tonight:
NBC is planning to announce on Thursday that Brian Williams will not return to his position as the anchor of its “Nightly News” show, four months after the network suspended him for exaggerating his role in a helicopter incident in Iraq, according to two people briefed on the discussions.
Mr. Williams is expected to move to a new role primarily at the cable news network MSNBC, probably in a breaking-news capacity in the beginning, according to one of the people.
Lester Holt, who has been filling in for Mr. Williams as anchor, will take on the position permanently, one person said.
NBC could not be reached for comment. Mr. Williams’s lawyer, Robert Barnett, declined to comment. News of the decision was first reported by CNN.com.
The new role is a humbling comedown for Mr. Williams, who before the controversy was one of the country’s most prominent and respected broadcast journalists.
Prominent? Sure. Respected? Williams’ only real advantage was that he had done or said nothing serious enough to harm NBC’s brand with low information voters; he was simply there to deliver the news with a pleasant voice, decent enough hair, and a Savile Row suit.
Having sullied his reputation, but still under contract with NBC, sending him to their bargain basement outlet brand is the best way to allow both sides to ride out their employment obligations without a messy lawsuit, and give their Animal House* cable network the closest thing to someone who at least looks like a grownup.
On February 11th (around the time I did the above Photoshop), I asked “Where Does Brian Williams Resurface Next?”; among the eight choices I had gamed out, MSNBC was number two on the list:
1. Back to NBC News: Here’s a possible scenario: The ratings of Williams’ successor flat-line. Jon Stewart doesn’t want the gig. Williams does the celebrity talk show as therapy grand tour, and goes over like gangbusters. NBC does polls and focus groups, and decide what the heck, let’s give him another shot. As Dylan Byers writes at Politico, this is unlikely, but far stranger things have happened in network TV.
2. Down to NBC’s bargain basement spin-off, MSNBC: After it was discovered in 2010 that Dave Weigel, who was promoted by the Washington Post as their man reporting from “inside the conservative movement,” rather viscerally loathed those whom he was covering, the Post suspended him for about a month or so, and then simply transferred him down the hall to their openly leftwing spinoff, Slate. As Daniel Foster quipped at the time at NRO, “One wonders if he has to fill out new W-4s.” Perhaps Williams could bring some of his NBC audience to the network’s flailing and failing hard left spin-off. Credibility issues? Imaginary stories? Likely not much of a concern to the network that keeps Al Sharpton on its payroll.
And there you have it, at least according to the New York Times. Only thing that could make this better: Rachel Dolezal joins him as co-anchor — and since she’s shopping for TV gigs (albeit of the reality show variety, not surprisingly) make that powerhouse of a show happen, NBC!
* Yes, comparing MSNBC to the Delta House that’s an insult to to that fictional august fraternity that would give us all the comparatively illustrious future Sen. Blutarsky. But I had already used up the Star Wars cantina analogy earlier today in the post on the New York Times.
Every month another story emerges from California that makes out-of-staters think, “Now will those Democrat voters get it?” Then the state sends another batch of leftists to Sacramento to pass more job-killing, life-denying restrictions on their everyday activities. But the current crisis isn’t merely bad economic theory or social justice activism; a state filled with rivers, lakes and bordering an ocean is running out of water.
I ask again: Now will they get it?
I drive on the 99 freeway past Kingsburg on the way to Visalia. It is a road-warrior maze of construction and detours. The construction hazards are of the sort that would earn any private contractor a lawsuit. (How do you sue Caltrans — and why is it that four or five men always seem to be standing around one who is working?) Only recently has the state decided to upgrade the fossilized two-lane 99 into an interstate freeway of three lanes. But the construction is slow and seemingly endless. Could we not have a simple state rule: “no high-speed rail corridors until the 101, 99, and I-5 are three-lane freeways, and the neglected Amtrak line achieves profitable ridership?” It is almost as if California answers back: “I am too bewildered by your premodern challenges, so I will take psychological refuge in my postmodern fantasies.”
—Victor Davis Hanson, “Goodnight, California.”
“If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in 5 years there’d be a shortage of sand.”
That last quote actually does worry the left; a local Bay Area “artisanal” glassblower advertises on her storefront window that her products are “sustainably made” — as if the planet is facing a looming sand shortage.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book quite as eye-opening as Michael Oren’s Ally, the bestselling historian’s stunning new memoir of his four years as Israel’s ambassador to the United States,” John Podhoretz writes at Commentary. “For what Oren has written is an account of serving as a diplomat during a Cold War — the Cold War the Obama administration launched against Israel upon coming into office.” And then there are Mr. Obama operatives with bylines:
[Oren] called the New York Times editorial-page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, after the paper published an op-ed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in which Abbas startlingly claimed the Arabs had accepted the UN Partition Plan of 1947. The conversation went thus:
“When I write for the Times, fact checkers examine every word I write,” I began. “Did anybody check that Abbas has his facts exactly backward?”
“That’s your opinion,” Rosenthal replied.
“I’m an historian, Andy, and there are opinions and there are facts. That the Arabs rejected partition and the Jews accepted it is an irrefutable fact.”
“In your view.”
“Tell me, on June 6, 1944, did Allied forces land or did they not land on Normandy Beach?”
Rosenthal…replied, “Some might say so.”
As the kids say on Twitter, “SMH,” short for shaking my head.
So just to place the above moment into context, speaking of clueless teenagers with computer keyboards: The Times is owned by a man who in his 2os wanted to see American soldiers shot in Vietnam. Its editorial columnists include a former Enron advisor obsessed with alien invasions. (Of the little green man variety, needless to say. Illegal aliens coming over the border into Texas don’t concern Krugman the slightest.) A woman who flew into Denver and ate an entire marijuana-laced candy bar for her big investigative piece on Colorado’s new pot laws and had William S. Burroughs-level drug hallucinations as a result. A man who advised Mitt Romney in 2012 to “Stick that in your magic underwear.” A 60 year old former editor who immediately after being fired last year posed for a New York Daily News cover standing next to a punching bag while wearing boxing gloves, a ironic trucker’s cap, a visible tattoo and a Les Misérables tank top. Her successor, current editor “Dean Baquet called an associate professor at the USC Annenberg School an ‘asshole’ on Facebook [in January] after the professor took a shot at Baquet for not running Charlie Hebdo’s Muhammed cartoons.” And an alleged conservative who told Mr. Obama that one day he’d be president because of his awesome trouser creases.
As Matthew Continetti wrote last year in the Washington Free Beacon in response to Jill Abramson’s posed photo as the distaff Rocky Balboa, the Times is a daily Saved By the Bell rerun, a high school bereft of grownup supervision. But even at this late date, with all of the paper’s Star Wars-cantina level characters who fancy themselves as being Masters of the Journalistic Universe, it’s still astonishing to read just how far round the bend this one great newspaper has gone.
As I mentioned at the start of the month, I was out at Rough Creek Lodge near the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex videotaping the vast resort with an aerial drone to help promote our upcoming Bullets & Bourbon event in December. With a major assist from my friend Steve Green on narration, I’ve incorporated the best of the aerial footage into a two minute video that also highlights Rough Creek’s yuuuuge (as The Donald would say) two-story dining room, its luxury suites, and its shooting facilities.
Join Glenn Reynolds, Dana Loesch, Ed Morrissey, Kevin D. Williamson, Mark Rippetoe, Roger L. Simon, Steve and myself in December — click here for all of the details.
In the ’60s, “political” comics shared a wink and a nod with fans as to who was due a beat-down, a comeuppance, a reversal of fortune. The power was Johnson or Nixon, the big chemical companies that manufactured napalm, the military-industrial complex, the KKK and its think-alikes—even the networks themselves. When the Smothers Brothers (whose writers included Steve Martin and Rob Reiner) started doing sly political humor, stinging critiques of the Vietnam War, guns, and even censorship, CBS canceled the Emmy-winning variety show.
But now the one perceived as having the power—even as much as the one-percenters, the banks, the NSA—is the celebrity comic himself. He must audition for the right to deliver a pointed opinion as if it were just one more entitlement. Big names like Seinfeld, Rock, and Maher—rich, famous—have to prove they’re worthy of their privilege before their observations on the economy, civil rights, domestic spying, dating, marriage, you name it, are given a fair hearing.
The comic is barely performer anymore; he is more the audience. It’s his or her job to applaud the people in the seats for being exactly who they are, the evolutionary high-water mark of sensitivity to other people’s powerlessness, which is just a projection of their own inner insecurities and dissatisfactions. Like the poor kid whose immunity is shot and must live in a plastic bubble for fear of an errant sneeze, our college kids fear microaggressions and so construct bubbles of their own. Approach at your own peril.
In short, the students of 2015 are not the rightful heirs of hip ’60s audiences, willing to let the latter-day Bruces pull them—for good or for ill—they know not where, but of their grandparents’ sensibilities, only with the world as their living room. They expect to have their self-image reflected back to them, they tut-tut “abusive” language, they become outraged at wrong attitudes. Don’t you know what we suffered through in
the Depression, World War II, heteronormative patriarchy? Instead of calling the networks or writing a letter to the editor, this generation takes to social media to vent spleen as to what’s wrong with these kids today.
What’s lost in all this talk is what’s funny.
But in a way, the comedians that Sacramone names above, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Bill Maher, and others of their ilk, have only themselves to blame for not knowing that it is the nature of their ideology to devour the host organism. The original “Progressives” at the start of the 20th century devoured puritan America. When the New Deal-era left became the dominant culture in Washington, Hollywood and New York by the mid-1960s, they too were devoured by the radical upstart New Left.*
In the early 1990s, journalists and critics ranging from John Leo at US News & World Report all the way to Siskel & Ebert on their TV film review series warned of the looming dangers of political correctness, and were largely ignored, likely because of how crazy the stories then emerging from campuses across America sounded. I realize that the left tends to ignore its own history, but the more astute among them should have anticipated this moment, if only because similar headlines were emerging about 15 years ago out of England, a socialist hothouse due to its much smaller size. Perhaps, as with the the left and Islam, leftist comedians presumed that if they kept quiet, they’d be devoured last by their audiences. Well, “last” has now arrived at last.
* Other than Barry Goldwater’s Pyrrhic run for the White House, the entire history of America in the 1960s is blue on blue on blue, all the way to Nixon’s White House, which governed domestically as an extension of LBJ’s Great Society.
Update: Of course, part of what made the comedian’s job easier in the old days was that if society as a whole was relatively functional, all he needed to do was to hold its perceived excesses up for ridicule. In contrast, as Mark Steyn writes today, “I try to stay chipper about Rachel Dolezal and the rest of this stuff, but it’s not really funny, is it? More and more levers of civilization appear to be in the hands of the clinically insane.”