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Ed Driscoll

Is Mark Steyn’s PR Firm Accepting New Clients?

October 20th, 2014 - 10:02 pm

undocumented_mark_steyn_10-20-14-1

Because seriously, I don’t know how they do it. The week that After America came out in 2011, the Dow Jones dropped 512 points on Thursday, and S&P shorted America’s credit rating on Friday. When After America was released in paperback the following year, riots across the Middle East broke out, a feckless “Quantitative Easing” program by the Chairman of the Federal Reserve began, and the POTUS ran roughshod over the First Amendment.

Today, The Undocumented Mark Steyn, an anthology of his columns, hits the streets; its introduction is titled “Me and My Little Black Dress.” It begins with Mark flashing back wistfully to the 1990s, America’s holiday from history, having just won the Cold War (we thought) and the Gulf War (we thought) and seemingly without a care in the world, when we could laugh at a hapless randy president and his extramarital affairs. Since Miss Lewinsky wasn’t taking many interviews at the time, Mark hopped into the Clinton White House’s Hot Tub Time Machine and flash-forwarded to 2018 to interview her older and wiser dress instead:

She is older now, her once dazzling looks undeniably faded, her famous beauty worn and creased.

“Sorry about that,” she says. “I was supposed to get ironed yesterday.”

Yes, it’s “that dress”— the dress that, 20 years ago this month, held the fate of a presidency in her lap. It has been two decades since the day she gave her dramatic testimony to the grand jury and then promptly disappeared into the federal witness protection program. Even as she recalls her brief moment in the spotlight , she looks drawn. But that’s because, following extensive reconstructive surgery, she’s been living quietly as a pair of curtains in Idaho.

“What do you think?” she says, saucily brushing her hem against the sill as her pleats ripple across the mullions. “It cost less than Paula Jones’ nose job.”

To be honest, I was lucky to get the interview. The dress was supposed to be doing the BBC— the full sob-sister treatment, Martin Bashir, the works— but, to protect her identity, they wanted to do that undercover secret-location protect-your-identity trick with the camera that makes part of the screen go all fuzzy and blurry. “Are you crazy?” she yelled at them. “It’ll look like I’ve still got the stain.”

Apparently to tie in with his book’s launch, somehow Mark’s PR people managed to convince Lewinsky to join Twitter on the very same day The Undocumented Mark Steyn debuts. “Monica Lewinsky Joins Twitter—To Fight Cyberbullying,” Fast Company.com reports today; since the Hillary Clinton campaign and its operatives at Media Matters and CNN are experts on the topic, I can’t wait to see Monica’s incredible lack of response when the cyberbullying really starts to fly — which it likely will starting sometime in mid-November, or perhaps early next year.

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What, Coolidge, Hoover or Reagan weren’t available as candidates to live rent-free in Pierce’s mind years after they left office?

CHRIS HAYES, host: There’s some scary stuff out there. ISIS, monstrous and scary. Ebola, scary, doing horrible things to people in West Africa. Killed someone here. It’s understandable. These are genuinely scary things, but the magnitude with which they are interpreted makes me think there is something about the American political consciousness that’s looking for something to fear at all times.

CHARLES PIERCE, Esquire: I think that that’s part of the conditioned reflex that was placed into the American public and into our political culture by the last administration. In which, you know, you had 9/11, then you had anthrax, then you had the snipers, then you had every bit of the government dedicated to scaring you about nuclear bombs from Iraq. You had three years of being blindsided by enormously terrible events, and then when that was done, you had a hurricane in New Orleans that the government’s response to was awful, and the entire economic system collapsed what seemed like overnight.

So the ground had already been prepared by fake threats and then you got real catastrophes for which we weren’t prepared, and all of that adds up to the kind of thing you’re seeing now.

HAYES: Charlie Pierce, thank you.

But as DNC co-chairwoman Donna Brazile finally admitted last year at CNN, “Bush came through on Katrina.” Besides, I’m not at all sure why Pierce is that suddenly now concerned with people drowning in waterborne disasters:

If she had lived, Mary Jo Kopechne would be 62 years old. Through his tireless work as a legislator, Edward Kennedy would have brought comfort to her in her old age.

Charles Pierce writing the Boston Globe MagazineJanuary 5, 2003, on his way to an easy win as the Media Research Center’s “Quote of the Year,” capping off their annual DisHonors Awards, “Roasting the Most Outrageously Biased Liberal Reporters of 2003.”

“President Obama delivered a blow to Democratic Senate candidates looking to distance themselves from his flagging approval ratings Monday, saying lawmakers avoiding him on the campaign trail were ‘strong allies and supporters’ who have ‘supported my agenda in Congress,’” the establishment left Website The Hill notes disdainfully:

The president said that Democrats faced a “tough map” and noted that many Democrats in crucial races “are in states that I didn’t win” during a radio interview with Rev. Al Sharpton.

“And so some of the candidates there — it is difficult for them to have me in the state because the Republicans will use that to try to fan Republican turnout,” Obama said.

“The bottom line is though, these are all folks who vote with me, they have supported my agenda in Congress, they are on the right side of minimum wage, they are on the right side of fair pay, they are on the right side of rebuilding our infrastructure, they’re on the right side of early childhood education.”

Obama went on to say that his feelings weren’t hurt by Democrats reluctant to campaign with him.

“These are folks who are strong allies and supporters of me, and I tell them, I said, ‘You know what, you do what you need to do to win. I will be responsible for making sure our voters turn out.’ ”

The president’s remarks appear tailor-made for Republican attack ads in states like Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, Kentucky, and Alaska, where GOP candidates have painted their Democratic opponents as rubber stamps for the administration’s policies. Democrats in those races have worked hard to distance themselves from Obama, with polls showing his approval ratings mired in the low 40s.

Why, it’s almost as if this Barack Obama fella is dramatically overrated as a political orator and off-the-cuff speaker or something.

Update: Former(?) members of the JournoList are not happy with their boss tonight:

 

Our Source was the New York Times

October 20th, 2014 - 4:50 pm

“You do not have to talk to a statist very long before he will profess an intense dislike, distrust and even fear of ordinary people,” Andrew Klavan writes today:

Ordinary people spend money on what they want (TV’s restaurants and cars) rather than what the elite know they ought to want (aluminum foil climate change reversers). Ordinary people teach their children that God created the world rather than a random pattern of mathematic realities that came into being through another random pattern that came…  well, the elite know: it’s random patterns all the way down! Ordinary people will give jobs and business to those who earn them rather than those the elite, in their greater understanding, know are historically deserving because of past oppression. And so on.

Now, of course, with the very elite of the elite running the country, we find that — what do you know? — this statism dodge doesn’t really work all that well. And there are two reasons for this. The first is that the statist premise is wrong. In fact, ordinary people left at liberty to do as they will are actually better at running their lives and businesses and country than the geniuses in Washington. Central planning works great in the imaginations of the elite, but in the real world…  not so much.

And the second problem is that the elite are stupid. No, really. They’re educated and sophisticated and they dress well and speak well. They may even have high IQs. But in the immortal words of Forrest Gump’s mother: “Stupid is as stupid does.” And the elite are stupid.

Take the columnists at the New York Times. Or as I call them: Knucklehead Row. These guys look like smart people, they talk like smart people, they’ve got the trappings of smart people. But they are not smart. They are the opposite of smart. What’s the word I’m looking for? Oh yeah. They’re stupid.

And as Matthew Continetti noted in the Washington Free Beacon a few months ago, “Gossipy, catty, insular, cliquey, stressful, immature, cowardly, moody, underhanded, spiteful—the New York Times gives new meaning to the term ‘hostile workplace:’”

What has been said of the press—that it wields power without any sense of responsibility—is also a fair enough description of the young adult. And it is to high school, I think, that the New York Times is most aptly compared. The coverage of the Abramson firing reads at times like the plot of an episode of Saved By the Bell minus the sex: Someone always has a crazy idea, everyone’s feelings are always hurt, apologies and reconciliations are made and quickly sundered, confrontations are the subject of intense planning and preparation, and authority figures are youth-oriented, well-intentioned, bumbling, and inept.

Indeed. Or to put it another way:

There are no grown-ups. We suspect this when we are younger, but can confirm it only once we are the ones writing books and attending parent-teacher conferences. Everyone is winging it, some just do it more confidently.

“What You Learn in Your 40s,” Pamela Druckerman, writing in the New York Times earlier this year, and linked to by Maggie’s Farm today.

Actually there are lots of grownups, who actually know what they’re doing in life, wisdom they’ve acquired through its hardscrabble lessons — but Druckerman will have to expand her social circle beyond the offices of Sulzberger & Company if she hopes to find some.

Gee, wait’ll they discover how Obamacare was passed against the will of the American people…

* Not to mention the “It’s Different When We Do It” card.

Update: “Turns out history for the left didn’t begin on January 20, 2009 but rather in April 2010 or thereabouts,” Allahpundit writes:

In fact, the ObamaCare omission here is so egregious, it reminds me in an odd way of those creepy liberal revisionist histories in which JFK somehow ends up dead at the hands of the right-wing city of Dallas while his left-wing assassin is conveniently airbrushed into oblivion. They used reconciliation to pass what’s arguably the most momentous piece of domestic policy of the past 50 years, and now, the instant Republicans use it for anything, the tactic will be deemed de facto cheating — despite endless leftist screeching since 2009 that we should probably go ahead and jettison the archaic 60-vote threshold for cloture entirely. You keep smiling, guys.

Which dovetails nicely with Sonny Bunch’s observation today in the Washington Free Beacon that “#GamerGate Makes the Left Uncomfortable Because Gamer Gaters Have Adopted the Left’s Tactics:”

Because when I look at #GamerGate, I don’t really see the Tea Party (just as I’m sure Jessica Hunter—a gay, liberal, female Canadian #GamerGater—doesn’t really see the Tea Party). No, I see the tactics of the modern reactionary left. Consider: The movement’s biggest accomplishment thus far has been to get Intel to pull advertising from video game blog Polygon Gamasutra after they flooded the company with complaints. We’ve seen this a ton over the last few years, but not from the Tea Party.

No, we’ve seen it from the anti-Prop 8 campaigners, who used their combined efforts to get Scott Eckern, the artistic director of the California Musical Theater, fired for donating to the anti-gay-marriage ballot initiative. We’ve seen it from astroturfed anti-gun groups trying to pressure Kroger into banning people from carrying guns. We’ve seen it in Black Twitter’s efforts to get Paula Deen dropped after she admitted to using racist language following an armed robbery. I could go on and on: the freakout over Grantland’s Dr. V. story; the effort to #CancelColbert; Feminism’s Toxic Twitter Wars; etc.

At the risk of engaging in some questionable psychoanalysis, allow me to suggest that one of the reasons the left is so disturbed by the rise of #GamerGate is that this is the first time in many years that these self-proclaimed Social Justice Warriors have met any sort of organized pushback. And they find it doubly infuriating to see the tools they have used so successfully—the Twitter mob, the email campaign, the claims of grievance—turned against them.

In their frequent use of brutal scorched earth Alinksy-style tactics to advance their goals and silence their enemies, the far left have increasingly opened up Pandora’s Box — did they think they’d get to keep all of its secrets to themselves?

Lionel Hutz Lives!

October 20th, 2014 - 3:22 pm

“Is Tito ’s Handmade Vodka really handmade? Would it taste any less good if it weren’t anymore?”

But in the summer of 2013, Forbes published “The Troubling Success Of Tito’s Handmade Vodka.” As its author Meghan Casserly explains, “Tito’s has exploded from a 16-gallon pot still in 1997 to a 26-acre operation that produced 850,000 cases last year, up 46 percent from 2011, pulling in an estimated $85 million in revenue.” She also describes “massive buildings containing ten floor-to-ceiling stills and bottling 500 cases an hour.”

So it was inevitable: On Sept. 15, lawyers representing Gary Hofmann in California filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging that Tito’s “manufactured, marketed, and/or sold . . . ‘Tito’s Handmade’ Vodka to the California general public with the false representation that the Vodka was ‘handmade’ when, in actuality, the Vodka is made via a highly-mechanized process that is devoid of human hands.”

This is why Americans can’t have nice things. Or as Lionel Hutz told Homer when the notorious cartoon trencherman was kicked out of an all-you-can-eat restaurant for taking them at their word, “Mr. Simpson, this is the most blatant case of false advertising since my suit against the movie The Neverending Story!”

There’s No Time to Lose!

October 20th, 2014 - 1:45 pm

Shot:

Chaser:


Two questions: What was the previous Ebola “czar” up to before she went under Obama’s legendarily huge and non-carbon-friendly bus? And two: where’s No-Time Toulouse when you need him?

‘Thunder on the Left’

October 20th, 2014 - 12:38 pm

“Much has been written about the right-ward shift of the Republican Party, but far less about a mounting left-wing movement among Democrats,” Joel Kotkin writes at the Orange County Register. “While the media tends to dismiss the right-wingers of the GOP as ‘wingnuts,’ it typically refrains from categorizing even the extreme left of the Democratic Party in a similar manner.” Gee, wonder why?

But now many on the political left are openly critical of the president, notably for his close ties to the moguls of Wall Street and Silicon Valley. These moguls have been the predominant beneficiaries of his economic policies while middle-class incomes have continued to languish – and even fall.

This disenchantment can be seen among many professional progressives and their allies in the associated media. Michael Moore, for example, recently suggested that in the future Obama would be remembered simply for being the nation’s “first black president.” This disenchantment is also spreading to the Left’s grass-roots, with the president’s favorability ratings dropping even in such progressive bastions as New York and California.

This situation resembles that which conservatives confronted in the waning days of the Bush administration. Bush’s failure to construct a successful market-based economic agenda, as well as his ill-conceived foreign policy engendered widespread anger on the right. The initial Tea Party insurgency had its roots in the movement by Bush, a “big government conservative,” to bail out the nation’s giant financial institutions.

Now, it’s the Left’s turn to be disappointed, and some, such as liberal commentator Sally Kohn, suggest that it’s time to create their own progressive version of the Tea Party.* These liberal critics, correctly, in my view, have been mortified by the Obama administration coziness – taking a page from Bush – with large financial institutions as well as increasing inequality.

The new left Democrats have little interest in embracing Obama’s clever meme of portraying himself as a moderate, bipartisan figure, something that helped him both win suburban voters and raise a ton of money from parts of the corporate elite. Instead of expanding crony capitalism, which has been the Obama default, but the new Left openly seeks to reshape the economic system itself.

Don’t worry — I’m sure it will work this time, right?

* Didn’t we already have that with the debacle that was Occupy Wall Street in the fall of 2011? Not to mention, as Glenn Reynolds noted just a few months before OWS kicked off, similarly stillborn efforts as “the Coffee Party, the Brownbaggers, The Other 95%, A New Way Forward, the One Nation Movement — am I leaving any out? I can’t remember — and none of them has gone much beyond a spot of initial positive coverage from the NYT.” Which brings this post full circle with Kotkin’s observation at the start of his article on the MSM seeing nothing but Skittles and unicorns** and double rainbows when it observes the far left.

** Yes, that was intentional.

“Quarantine ends this week for NBC’s Nancy Snyderman — but she could be out of a job as thousands of viewers claim they no longer trust her,” the London Daily Mail reports:

Upon returning to the United States, Snyderman and her crew agreed to quarantine themselves for 21 days, the longest known incubation period for the disease. They have shown no symptoms.

Yet New Jersey health officials ruled that her quarantine should be mandatory after Snyderman and her crew were spotted getting takeout food from a New Jersey restaurant.

NBC won’t give details about who actually went into the restaurant, or even how many of its employees are being quarantined.

Snyderman issued a statement saying ‘members of our group’ violated their pledge.

More than 1,100 people have subsequently written on Snyderman’s Facebook page, many expressing anger.

There were suggestions she should be fired or lose her medical license, and some viewers said they wouldn’t trust her again.

Snyderman’s failure to be more specific about the lapse or take greater responsibility was another flashpoint.

Snyderman’s ‘arrogance and dismissiveness’ create a huge PR and credibility problem for NBC, said Kelly McBride, an expert on ethics for the journalism think tank the Poynter Institute.

Why would that start to be an issue now? Arrogance and dismissiveness are resume enhancers at NBC. Just ask Andrea Mitchell, Bob Costas, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Al Sharpton, Lawrence O’Donnell, or even perpetual NBC mascot Alec Baldwin. Perhaps Snyderman could ask those last three fellas to beat up any viewers that give her grief.

Backward Ran the Progress, Until Reeled the Mind

October 20th, 2014 - 10:52 am

High art, circa 1622:

High art, circa 2014:


As someone joked in response on Twitter, “You misspelled that last word.”

Heh. Naturally, if you’re offended, the artist says it’s your fault:

“At first, I found the anal plug had a similar form to Brancusi’s sculptures,” he explained. “Afterwards, I realized it resembled a Christmas tree, but it is an abstract work. People can be offended if they want to think of it as a plug, but for me it is more of an abstraction.”

How retrogressive and reactionary.

Tina Brown: That Was Then, This Is Now

October 20th, 2014 - 10:29 am

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Here’s Tina Brown on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program, today. As Glenn Reynolds paraphrases at Instapundit, Tina told viewers that “Women Feel ‘Unsafe’ With Obama,” a statement that would be spun as dog whistle racism straight up just two years ago at that same channel:

“Economically, they’re feeling unsafe. With regard to ISIS, they’re feeling unsafe. They feel unsafe about Ebola. What they’re feeling unsafe about is the government response to different crises. And I think they’re beginning to feel a bit that Obama’s like that guy in the corner office, you know, who’s too cool for school, calls a meeting, says this has to change, doesn’t put anything in place to make sure it does change, then it goes wrong and he’s blaming everybody.”

Back on November 5th, 2008 though at the Daily Beast, Tina was singing a far different tune. Obama was “Magic,” her headline that day screamed; unfortunately, that headline was an abbreviation for “Magical Thinking:”

This has been an election full of magic. White Magic that only the black man from everywhere and nowhere could perform. Even his adored grandmother dying on the eve of the victory had a mythic feeling of completion to it in a candidacy full of signs and symbols. Remember the three-point basketball shot when he played with the soldiers in Kuwait? It’s as if Obama is the prince who lifts the curse in a fairy story, a curse that began eight years ago with an election wrenched away from the rightful winner and begetting as a consequence the wrathful visitation of tragedy and wars and hurricanes and economic collapse.

* * * * * * * *

His subtle guiding intelligence married to that uncanny connection to the fine-tuning of the zeitgeist made his campaign an unstoppable force before which everything fell away. The entertainment world saw it coming. This morning in the BBC Green Room, Richard Schiff, who played Toby Zeigler, the White House Communications Director on The West Wing, told me that in the 2004 series, Democratic candidate Matt Santos was based on Barack Obama. And, of course, Dennis Haysbert, who played the first President Palmer on FOX’s 24 further imagined for American audiences a black leader of the free world. Then the rest of the country caught up. You could almost feel the world spinning faster and faster in the last year, before it came to a stop in Chicago on November 4, 2008. As a new American, I pulled the lever for the first time and felt how lucky it was that it was this election I got to vote in. As I left the booth in the Catholic high school on East 56th street I felt as joyful and emotional as any Iraqi with a purple forefinger.

In retrospect, that last sentence was quite a nice touch, and an unintentional homage to what the man who preceded Obama in the White House had accomplished in spite of monolithic opposition from Tina and everyone else in the MSM, and how much his successor would be willing to discard in order to advance the leftwing narrative.

Quote of the Day

October 19th, 2014 - 6:53 pm

“Candy, we should be less concerned about giving the public the feeling that the government is on top of this and more concerned about the government actually being on top of it.”

“Ted Cruz Schools Candy Crowley on Travel Ban From Hot Zone Ebola Countries,” NewsBusters, today.

Earlier: Crowley “awarded” first runner-up Walter Duranty Prize by PJM’s Claudia Rossett earlier this year “for her extraordinary performance during the 2012 presidential race as moderator of the second debate between the Democratic incumbent President Barack Obama, and the Republican contender, Governor Mitt Romney.”

Filed under: Uncategorized

The Toxic President

October 19th, 2014 - 5:55 pm

“Chalk it up to karma, fate or bad luck. Whatever you call it, the Ebola scare is proof that Bad Things Happen to Bad Presidents,” Michael Goodwin writes in the New York Post today:

Credibility is like a reservoir or a bank account. You make deposits in good times so you can make withdrawals when you need them.

Obama never made the deposits. It’s been all downhill since Day One. He blames others for failures, and when cornered or ambitious, reaches for a lie. Routinely.

The claim that “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor” is a defining example, but hardly the only one. Don’t forget “shovel-ready jobs” to justify a trillion-dollar boondoggle. Or there’s “not a smidgen” of corruption at the IRS. And Benghazi was caused by an anti-Muslim video.

His lies are legion and now he’s like the boy who cried wolf. When he makes a national appeal on Ebola, the trust tank is empty.

Just as a reminder, it was a year ago this month when the disastrous Obamacare rollout permanently sullied the semi-retired president’s reputation, even among his true-believers in the MSM. (Headlines on this day a year ago today include the San Francisco-based Health Care Blog Website asking: “Should the Obamacare Exchanges Be Shut Down?”, and the left-leaning Website Mediaite noting, “CNN’s Don Lemon Savages ‘Terrible’ Obamacare Rollout: Makes Good Case for the GOP.”

And of course, as Goodwin noted above, last year it became clear that Mr. Obama repeatedly told the American people what is arguably the biggest lie ever spoken by a US president:

Which is why today, even the rank and file former true believers aren’t sticking around to hear what the president has to say, in what could be quite a metaphor for his party next month:


Exactly:

Is Our Children Learning?

October 19th, 2014 - 3:56 pm

Two observations: Assuming this fellow is a man of the left, why does he hate President Goldman-Sachs so? And just as a refresher, as Theodore Dalrymple recently noted, your dad is still not Hitler.

How was Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son fast-tracked for a naval commission at age 43(!) before allegedly testing positive for cocaine? The Weekly Standard’s Philip Terzian notes that the military have long been willing to take in the sons and friends of politicians:

The irony, of course, is that minor political scandals have erupted in the past over such questions. In 2000, the circumstances of George W. Bush’s service as a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard became a campaign issue. So did the promotion, in 1940, of President Franklin Roosevelt’s son Elliott to captain in the Army Air Corps. Abraham Lincoln’s eldest son Robert was criticized for his non-combatant status as a staff officer during the Civil War.

A more instructive parallel, however, might be to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, of all people. When one of McCarthy’s Senate aides, G. David Schine, was drafted into the Army and sent to basic training at Ft. Monmouth, N.J., Roy Cohn, another McCarthy aide and reputedly Schine’s lover, intervened persistently to obtain an officer’s commission for Schine. When the Army protested about repeated threats and interference from the senator’s office, McCarthy charged that the Army was attempting to retaliate against his investigations into communist subversion in the armed forces. The televised hearings that were held during April-June 1954 to investigate the matter — the famous Army-McCarthy hearings — not only revealed that McCarthy and his staff had repeatedly wielded their influence on behalf of Schine, but had done so despite Schine’s complete lack of qualifications for an officer’s commission.

The differences between Joseph McCarthy and Joseph Biden are self-evident, of course. But just as the effort to make G. David Schine an Army officer taught the country something about Senator McCarthy, so the brief, inglorious naval career of Hunter Biden tells us something about Vice President Biden — and the culture of entitlement in political Washington that has tarnished the Navy.

As a footnote to the above, Schine was something of a Zelig figure in his post-McCarthy days, as blogger Tom McMahon noted in 2008:

G. David Schine: Assistant to Senator Joseph McCarthy, Executive Producer of The French Connection, Part Owner of the Ambassador Hotel Where RFK Was Shot, Married to Miss Universe 1955, Purveyor of Bubble Gum Music, and Had A Cameo On the Batman TV Show.

I hope Hunter Biden goes on to have as varied and interesting a career.

Exit question: If Biden’s son was kicked out the military in February, why are we only hearing about it now?

The Banality of Justifying Evil

October 19th, 2014 - 3:13 pm

In “Stalin, Sane,” National Review Online’s Andrew Stuttaford links to Anne Applebaum’s review of a new biography of Joseph Stalin:

Writing in The Atlantic, Anne Applebaum reviews the first volume of what looks like an interesting new biography of Stalin (it takes the story up until 1928). Critically, its author, Stephen Kotkin, appears to dispense with glib ‘psychological’ alibi (tough childhood and so on) for what Stalin became, replacing it with the more sinister explanation that his actions were, in one sense, perfectly rational:

 His violence was not the product of his subconscious but of the Bolshevik engagement with Marxist-Leninist ideology. This ideology offered Stalin a deep sense of certainty in the face of political and economic setbacks. If policies designed to produce prosperity created poverty instead, an explanation could always be found: the theory had been incorrectly interpreted, the forces were not correctly aligned, the officials had blundered. If Soviet policies were unpopular, even among workers, that too could be explained: antagonism was rising because the class struggle was intensifying.

And if you think that that sounds a lot like a true believer trying to square the teachings of his faith with perennially inconvenient reality you would be right. The frontier between avowedly atheistic communism, a “political religion” (as it has often been described) and more conventional religious belief is not as clearly defined as is so often imagined. Trying to understand why Stalin was attracted to such a creed thus raises unsettling questions—over what we want to believe, and why— that go far beyond the motivation of a series of communist fanatics.

As Glenn Reynolds likes to say, “Communists are just Nazis with better PR”; those engaging in PR spin to defend Stalin and his crimes go far beyond the Russians themselves to include numerous academics in both the US and England (including venerated British historian Eric Eric Hobsbawm, a true believer to the very end), crazed filmmakers such as Oliver Stone, and more than a few journalists in places such as the New York Times. But note how similar the “Stalin was a hideously deformed monster” theories dovetail with those who wish to whitewash their nation of the crimes of another murderous tyrant. Or as Ron Rosenbaum, the author of Explaining Hitler wrote in 2006:

As I tried to point out in Explaining Hitler, so called “psycho-historical” theories of Hitler have long been justly discredited, but still attract those who find some kitschy thrill in contemplating the sexual and personal perversities of Nazis.

Psycho-historical theories have been discredited both for lack of credible evidence and for flawed notions of causation. Here, for instance, it sounds like the director has blindly accepted the dubious, contradicted hearsay that Hitler’s father beat him, promoted strenuously without corroboration by psychoanalyst Alice Miller (who, again without corroboration “explains” Hitler’s anti-semitism by claiming Hitler’s father beat him because the father was upset that he, the father, might have “Jewish blood”–a concatenation of unproven, unprovable old wives tales). Even if it were true that Hitler’s father beat him this does not support the notion that therefore Hitler became a mass murderer because he resented Daddy. All too many children are beaten by their fathers, true, but only Hitler became Hitler because his exterminationist impulses had the enthusiastic support of hundreds of thousands of “ordinary” Germans and other Europeans.

Second, the focus on Hitler’s alleged personal peculiarities, de-historicizes the causes of the Holocaust; making it some kind of outgrowth of personal revenge and perversion rather the culmination of centuries of murderous anti-semitic hatred in Europe carried out by hundreds of thousands of non bed-wetting accomplices to Hitler. It de-politicizes the genocidal hatred in an utterly trivializing way. The Holocaust was not the product of one man’s personal peccadilloes, but of a powerful historical, theological and racial ideology that a juvenile comic focus on “bed-wetting” utterly obscures and in effect denies.

In his recent article “Arendt, Banality, and Benhabib: A Final Rejoinder,” Richard Wolin of the Jewish Review of Books writes:

In The Origins of Totalitarianism, Arendt viewed Nazism as a manifestation of “radical evil,” insofar as, as she explains in her preface, its crimes could “no longer be deduced from humanly comprehensible motives.”

Actually, the motives of Nazism and Bolshevism, those twin “heresies of socialism,” as Richard Pipes has dubbed them, flow logically and inexorably from the rhetoric of those whom Martin Marty dubbed “The Bearded God Killers” of the 19th century, and the “Progressives” such as H.G. Wells and Margaret Sanger who followed them in the early 20th century.  And they certainly can be deduced from humanly comprehensible motives.

At least by those who wish to make the effort.

As reported in the New York Observer this past Wednesday, heretofore rarely a hotbed of anti-Obama sentiment:

In perhaps the most stunning documentation yet of abuses by Eric Holder’s Justice Department, two former Assistant United States Attorneys spoke to defense attorneys and revealed appalling deceit and corruption of justice. This latest litigation time bomb has exploded from multi-million dollar litigation originally brought by the Department of Justice against Sierra Pacific based on allegations that the lumber company and related defendants were responsible for a wildfire that destroyed 65,000 acres in California.

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Sierra Pacific Industries and other defendants were compelled to pay $55 million to the United States over a period of five years and transfer 22,500 acres of land to settle massive litigation brought against them by the United States alleging that they caused a 2007 fire that destroyed 65,000 acres in California. Sierra Pacific has always maintained that the fire started elsewhere and that the state and federal investigators and Department attorneys lied. Now that settlement may go up in smoke because of the new evidence of outrageous misconduct by the federal prosecutors and the investigators from state and federal offices, as well as findings earlier this year by a state judge.

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The Sacramento Bee reported on the Defendant’s filing. Indeed, the Defendants’ motion informs us that a former Assistant United States Attorney came forward and disclosed that he believes that he was removed from the original prosecution by “his boss, David Shelledy, chief of the civil division in the United States Attorney’s office,” because he “rebuffed” pressure to “engage in unethical conduct as a lawyer.” Of course, like other former prosecutors who were unethical, Mr. Shelledy is to receive Attorney General Holder’s highest award for excellence—this week.The defendants also reveal that another former federal prosecutor, Eric Overby, left the Moonlight Fire prosecution team also, stating: “It’s called the Department of Justice. It’s not called the Department of Revenue.” According to the motion, Mr. Overby told defense counsel that in his entire career, “I’ve never seen anything like this. Never.”

Well, sadly we have, and we’ve been reporting on it as fast as we can. This is part of a disturbing and rapidly increasing pattern of abuses by this Department of Justice to line government coffers or redistribute the wealth to its political allies—using its overwhelming litigation might and federal agencies as a tool of extortion and wealth redistribution.

The entire original prosecution against Sierra Pacific appears to have been driven by the Department of Justice’s interest in hitting a “deep pocket” for millions of dollars of revenue. The Defendants’ motion to set aside the settlement reveals a series of fraudulent acts by federal and state authorities that defiles our system of justice.

The news about the shakedown of Sierra Pacific comes on the heels of this report from a year ago on Lumber Liquidators being raided:

Although details were initially sketchy, Lumber Liquidators’ (LL) stock price plunged as much as 10% early Friday after a reported raid by federal investigators on its headquarters related to a probe of illegal imports.

In a statement, the top flooring retailer with more than 300 stores nationwide, said it would provide to investigators information and documents related to the import of certain products.

The Department of Homeland Security, along with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Justice conducted the raid, acting under a sealed court-issued warrant.

Lumber Liquidators said it gets products from more than 110 U.S. and international mills globally, and has more than 60 people who monitor imports.

“The company takes its sourcing very seriously, and is cooperating with authorities to provide them with requested information,” the company said in a statement.

Specific details on what the Department of Homeland Security agents were searching for were not immediately available, and the company and government officials declined to comment beyond the initial statements.

Federal agents conducted the search of Lumber Liquidators headquarters in Toano, Va., and at one of its stores in Richmond, Va.

The unannounced search was reminiscent of earlier raids on Gibson Guitar facilities.

Indeed. What is it with the Obama administration and lumber-based businesses?

(I know: as opposed to coal-based businesses, oil-based businesses, businesses with GOP or Christian CEOs, small business in general, and pretty much every other business except Comcast, Time-Warner-CNN-HBO and Goldman-Sachs, apparently.)

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

 

 

Of all the weekends to cancel the obligatory Saturday golf game, this would have been a good one, not the least of which because his administration and its steno pool inside the New York Times worked to craft what is effectively a press release on Obama “seething” over how he and his administration have botched the Ebola crisis — one year after the disastrous rollout of his signature socialized medicine bill. (Fun fact: On this date a year ago, the otherwise Obama-friendly Huffington Post ran the headline, “Obamacare Website Failure Threatens Health Coverage For Millions Of Americans.”

Glenn Reynolds rounds up Bobby Jindal’s complete four-step plan for how the increasingly semi-retired president acts during one of his administration’s many clusterfarks; apparently interim steps 1.5, 2.5, 3.5, and 4.5 can be summed as: Fore!

Meanwhile, Roger L. Simon posits that administration officials will find an obscure video to blame for Ebola when they make their rounds on the Sunday talk shows tomorrow. Paraphrasing historian Robert Conquest’s Third Law of Politics, which states that “The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by
assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies,” Roger wonders how the ghost of Andrew Breitbart got inside the controls of the administration’s evermore wobbly machine.

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BuzzFeed Accidently Gives MSM Game Away

October 17th, 2014 - 4:27 pm

“GOP rep: What if terrorists self-infect and bring Ebola into the U.S.?”, as spotted by Allahpundit at Hot Air, who notes:

This is posted at BuzzFeed without comment apart from a transcript, a classic way to imply “this is preposterous to a newsworthy degree” without actually having to explain why. Here’s Jonathan Last putting some meat on the bones of the idea Joe Wilson is expressing:

What’s to stop a jihadist from going to Liberia, getting himself infected, and then flying to New York and riding the subway until he keels over? This is just the biological warfare version of a suicide bomb. Can you imagine the consequences if someone with Ebola vomited in a New York City subway car? A flight from Roberts International in Monrovia to JFK in New York is less than $2,000, meaning that the planning and infrastructure needed for such an attack is relatively trivial. This scenario may be highly unlikely. But so were the September 11 attacks and the Richard Reid attempted shoe bombing, both of which resulted in the creation of a permanent security apparatus around airports. We take drastic precautions all the time, if the potential losses are serious enough, so long as officials are paying attention to the threat.

BuzzFeed’s point here, I guess, is that it’s bad form for a congressman to articulate this possibility even if plenty of Americans are already worried about it because that would be fearmongering, quite unlike what Democrats do routinely with climate change, the “war on women,” horsesh*t like this, etc etc. It’s one thing for the rank-and-file boobs on the right to see terrorists under every rock, it’s another for a man in power who’s, um, almost certainly going to be reelected anyway to broach the subject. But never mind that. What’s the actual argument for why Last’s point is stupid?

After 9/11, when he wasn’t accused of orchestrating the event himself by at least a third of Democrats, GWB was routinely crucified by the left for not being better prepared for a terrorist attack  on the World Trade Center. (As I think James Lileks noted years ago in one of his columns, plunging a 747 into the WTC is what just about everybody tries as a goof at least once soon after purchasing Microsoft’s “Flight Simulator” computer game.) But if Bush had been making speeches, starting from say, first running for national office in 1999 until September 10th, 2001 suggesting that the WTC was vulnerable to another terrorist attack, particularly an attack using multiple hijacked airliners by Jihadis on suicide missions, he’d have been looked at by the left, not the least of which their operatives with bylines, as a fear-mongering Strangelove-esque crank and anti-Muslim “racist,” in exactly the same way as GOP Rep. Wilson is being attacked today.

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Question Asked and Answered

October 17th, 2014 - 1:59 pm

“Who Do They Think We Are?”, asks Peggy Noonan, adding that “The administration’s Ebola evasions reveal its disdain for the American people:”

The language of government now is word-spew.

Dr. Frieden did not explain his or the government’s thinking on the reasons for opposition to a travel ban. On the other hand, he noted that the government will consider all options in stopping the virus from spreading here, so perhaps that marks the beginning of a possible concession.

It is one thing that Dr. Frieden, and those who are presumably making the big decisions, have been so far incapable of making a believable and compelling case for not instituting a ban. A separate issue is how poor a decision it is. To call it childish would be unfair to children. In fact, if you had a group of 11-year-olds, they would surely have a superior answer to the question: “Sick people are coming through the door of the house, and we are not sure how to make them well. Meanwhile they are starting to make us sick, too. What is the first thing to do?”

The children would reply: “Close the door.” One would add: “Just for a while, while you figure out how to treat everyone getting sick.” Another might say: “And keep going outside the door in protective clothing with medical help.” Eleven-year-olds would get this one right without a lot of struggle.

If we don’t momentarily close the door to citizens of the affected nations, it is certain that more cases will come into the U.S. It is hard to see how that helps anyone. Closing the door would be no guarantee of safety—nothing is guaranteed, and the world is porous. But it would reduce risk and likelihood, which itself is worthwhile.

Africa, by the way, seems to understand this. The Associated Press on Thursday reported the continent’s health-care officials had limited the threat to only five countries with the help of border controls, travel restrictions, and aggressive and sophisticated tracking.

All of which returns me to my thoughts the past few weeks. Back then I’d hear the official wordage that doesn’t amount to a logical thought, and the unspoken air of “We don’t want to panic you savages,” and I’d look at various public officials and muse: “Who do you think you are?”

Now I think, “Who do they think we are?”

“The ones we’ve been waiting for” as the man leading the con game said to his rubes. And speaking of one of the biggest of those rubes, if only Peggy had asked her question in the fall of 2008.

Incidentally, note that her column was written last night, before Obama appointed a Democrat hack and political fixer as his Ebola czar — or in reality, his new Ebola czar, as the previous one has been memory holed by the administration.