— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) December 19, 2014
“Just think of them as Democratic operatives with bylines and you won’t be far wrong.”
— Mark Hemingway (@Heminator) December 19, 2014
“Just think of them as Democratic operatives with bylines and you won’t be far wrong.”
Video: “The Top Five Liberal Lies for 2014.” as spotted by the Media Research Center, and it must have been quite a challenge whittling this down to just two minutes and five lies. As our own David P. Goldman, the aptly (self)-named “Spengler” writes, the left is basically just doing politics as performance art at this point. But it galls them that we know it’s performance art, and are laughing at the cut-rate kabuki.
Oh, and speaking of being called on her cut-rate kabuki, “Oh, so Now Donna Brazile is mad at the IRS?”
Hey, it’s not like they were on the Axis of Evil of anything:
North Korea has similarly denied the massive hack of Sony Pictures, which has been forced to cancel next week’s planned release of “The Interview,” a comedy about an assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
But KCNA applauded the attack.
“The hacking into the SONY Pictures might be a righteous deed of the supporters and sympathizers with the DPRK,” it said, using the acronym of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. “The hacking is so fatal that all the systems of the company have been paralyzed, causing the overall suspension of the work and supposedly a huge ensuing loss.”
Experts point to several signs of North Korean involvement. They say there are similarities between the malware used in the Sony hack and previous attacks against South Korea. Both were written in Korean, an unusual language in the world of cybercrime.
“Unfortunately, it’s a big win for North Korea. They were able to get Sony to shut down the picture. They got the U.S. government to admit that North Korea was the source of this and there’s no action plan really, at least publicly no action plan, in response to it,” said Cha. “I think from their perspective, in Pyongyang, they’re probably popping the champagne corks.”
I didn’t see the segment, but my wife was telling me that when she caught a few minutes of CNN while having lunch with some business associates today, everyone the network interviewed was angry with Sony (this was before news of Paramount knuckling under as well) for capitulating to North Korean demands to censor their media. Which seems rather paradoxical, given that, as is their wont with any socialist dictator*, CNN gave in to North Korean censorship long ago:
And let’ss not forget this infamous 2005 segment with the network’s goofy far left founder. Ted Turner red-lined the Godwin meter in interviews when he learned that Fox News was launching in the mid-1990s. But when faced with a 21st century national socialist regime, he was quite happy to sing their praises, the very definition of the phrase “useful idiot”:
But then, it’s not like most MSM outlets don’t have a similarly huge mote in their eye on the issue of choosing self-censorship over advancing the First Amendment:
“Sony’s cave-in to North Korea sets a horrible precedent.” – Newspaper who wouldn’t run Mohammed cartoons
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) December 18, 2014
A professor blogged a criticism of a teaching assistant, who’d discussed gay marriage in her classroom, but then shut down all dissent, claiming dissent to be illegitimate (per his claim).
Result? The university is “investigating” him and has suspended him from all teaching duties.
Ace’s headline resonates particularly strongly here in California, where Sacramento’s first impulse is to ban everything. Not to mention at CNN, which has a pretty strong ban everything instinct as well. As does MSNBC, where “Lawrence O’Donnell probably would have pulled ‘The Interview’ too,” his associate Chris Hayes tweeted tonight.
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) December 18, 2014
“Come on, man,” Ed Morrissey implores. “Paramount bans showings of Team America: World Police in place of The Interview”:
Oh, the irony. After Sony cancelled the release of The Interview, a few theaters declared that they would show the 2004 hit Team America: World Police in its place as a protest against threats to free expression. That film also derided the government of North Korea, as well as the liberal Hollywood establishment that catered to anti-American despots in what was a prescient (if irreverent and very R-rated) satire.
As if to emphasize the latter critique, two cinemas have announced that Paramount Pictures has forbidden them to show the film publicly:
According to IMDB, Team America, while distributed by Paramount, was produced by Scott Rudin, the embattled (and uber-manic) Sony Pictures executive being eaten alive by the North Korean hacking scandal. I wonder if he put in a frantic call to Paramount to have Team America banned as a substitute for the latest anti-North Korean movie whose production he led. (If so, the Norks will likely let us know in their next round of hacks.)
A few years ago, when TCM or AMC reran Bob Hope and Bing Crosby’s Road to Morocco, a 1942 Paramount production, I remember thinking, it’s a good thing this film is grandfathered in, as there’s no way Hollywood would make this movie today, in today’s leftwing hypersensitive, comedy-killing “multicultural” era. That iteration of Paramount was made of sterner stuff — but who knew that the 2004 version of Paramount was as well?
A couple of years after Team America snuck past Paramount’s leftwing censors, Mark Steyn had Hollywood’s number down pat: “Hollywood prefers to make ‘controversial’ films about controversies that are settled, rousing itself to fight battles long won”:
Say what you like about those Hollywood guys in the Thirties but they were serious about their leftism. Say what you like about those Hollywood guys in the Seventies but they were serious about their outrage at what was done to the lefties in the McCarthy era — though they might have been better directing their anger at the movie-industry muscle that enforced the blacklist. By comparison, Clooney’s is no more than a pose — he’s acting at activism, new Hollywood mimicking old Hollywood’s robust defense of even older Hollywood. He’s more taken by the idea of “speaking truth to power” than by the footling question of whether the truth he’s speaking to power is actually true.
That’s why Hollywood prefers to make “controversial” films about controversies that are settled, rousing itself to fight battles long won. Go back to USA Today’s approving list of Hollywood’s willingness to “broach the tough issues”: “Brokeback and Capote for their portrayal of gay characters; Crash for its examination of racial tension . . .” That might have been “bold” “courageous” movie-making half-a-century ago. Ever seen the Dirk Bogarde film Victim? He plays a respectable married barrister whose latest case threatens to expose his homosexuality. That was 1961, when homosexuality was illegal in the United Kingdom and Bogarde was the British movie industry’s matinee idol and every schoolgirl’s pinup: That’s brave. Doing it at a time when your typical conservative politician gets denounced as “homophobic” because he’s only in favor of civil unions is just an exercise in moral self-congratulation. And, unlike the media, most of the American people are savvy enough to conclude that by definition that doesn’t require their participation.
A KNOWN WOMAN These films are “transgressive” mostly in the sense that Transamerica is transsexual. I like Felicity Huffman and all, and I’m not up to speed with the latest strictures on identity-group casting, but isn’t it a bit condescending to get a lifelong woman (or whatever the expression is) to play a transsexual? If Hollywood announced Al Jolson would be playing Martin Luther King Jr., I’m sure Denzel Washington & Co. would have something to say about it. Were no transsexual actresses available for this role? I know at least one, personally, and there was a transsexual Bond girl in the late Roger Moore era who looked incredibly hot, albeit with a voice several octaves below Paul Robeson. What about that cutie with the very fetching Adam’s apple from The Crying Game? And, just as Transamerica’s allegedly unconventional woman is a perfectly conventional woman underneath, so the entire slate of Oscar nominees is, in a broader sense, a phalanx of Felicity Huffmans. That’s to say, they’re dressing up daringly and flouncing around as controversy, but underneath they’re simply the conventional wisdom. Indeed, “Transamerica” would make a good name for Hollywood’s view of its domestic market — a bizarro United States run by racists and homophobes and a poodle media in thrall to the administration.
And nearly a decade later, that’s still how, in its heart of hearts, Hollywood would prefer to view America:
I’ve heard Hollywood people call Julianne Moore “brave” for playing Sarah Palin, which makes yesterday’s surrender even funnier/sadder
— David Rutz (@DavidRutz) December 18, 2014
A few months ago, John Nolte of Big Hollywood was excoriated by the left for daring to predict that Time-Warner-CNN-HBO would eventually ban DVD sales or streaming of Blazing Saddles. But he was certainly on to something: Hollywood likely doesn’t want to admit that its earlier executives were made of much stronger stuff than those running the town now.
Update: At the Washington Free Beacon, Sonny Bunch documents the “Signposts of a Broken Culture:”
Think about this for a second. What we are saying—nay, what we have accepted, as a society—is a situation in which a totally blameless third party would be held responsible for the evil committed by an irresponsible actor. Sony and the theater chains are being punished for the mere potential of a terror attack against them.
I joked with a friend that tort reform immediately became my number one concern for 2016. He pointed out, rightly, that this is a much larger issue. Tort reform? That’s just futzing around at the edges. Our problem runs much, much deeper than concerns over insurance costs for doctors. Our true problem is that, again, we have accepted, as a society, that it’s okay to sue a party for the bad behavior of a second party even if the first party has no role whatsoever in the malfeasance.
“This is also totally and completely bonkers,” Bunch writes, before concluding that “We made this world. [Sony's] just living with the rules we adopted.” I’m not sure who “we” is, but I do know the top five list of Obama donors in 2012 include both Jeffrey Katzenberg, the CEO of DreamWorks, and Steve Mostyn, “a Houston-based personal injury attorney.” We now know which industry blinked first in that equation.
“You can’t attribute the entire mess to one cause, but it certainly didn’t help [Democrat Governor Peter Shumlin's] case to have Jonathan Gruber involved in the project to the tune of roughly $400K. The voters probably weren’t looking forward to being lectured on videotape about how stupid they are in 2015:”
But perhaps the most telling feature of this staggering failure was the fact that the plan could not work without a massive influx of federal dollars. They were not able to secure a guarantee that the money would be available and the project went under. Now imagine scaling that up to a national single payer plan. Who would be available further upstream to help fund that? Nobody. The money would all have to be extracted from the taxpayers and every business in the country. And if we managed to pull it off you could soon be enjoying the benefits of waiting for years to get an appointment or some critical surgery.
Vermont is clearly a leader in socialist experimentation. In this case they may have actually provided us with a valuable lesson in what not to do.
That’s been Vermont’s primary role in the Union for well over a quarter of a century.
How bad has the state become?
As unlikely as it may seem, a prime area for heroin users is now the sleepy state of Vermont. On Wednesday [in January of 2014], Gov. Peter Shumlin’s entire State of the State address was devoted to what he called Vermont’s “full blown heroin crisis.” Vermont now has the highest rate of illicit drug use in the United States.
“Should All Women On Campus Be Allowed to Openly Carry A Handgun Since President Obama Claims There’s A Rape Epidemic? Are You Pro-Rape If You Want to Deny A Women Their Constitutional Right to Defend Themselves Against A Rape Culture?”
In answer to the first question, what, and actually give up being victims? In answer to the second, I’m sure if asked to Barry, Joe, Hillary, and virtually every college dean, they’d be quick to reply that hey, it’s not an epidemic-epidemic, to paraphrase Whoopi Goldberg’s defense, of you know, a rapist.
Of course, there’s an alternative approach that could be tried as well…
Update: And speaking of gun bans — in this case, toy gun bans — what could go wrong here?
More: Potemkin numbers, all the way down.
Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:
[Roger Ailes] offered [self-admitted Democrat Chris Wallace] the job of hosting Fox’s Washington Sunday morning talk show—Rupert Murdoch’s favorite program— on two conditions. “Roger told me, ‘I want you to be equally tough on Republicans and Democrats. And I want to know if you can get up in the morning and not think that America is to blame for most of the world’s problems.’” Wallace assured Ailes that he could deliver on both counts, and went on the air in early December 2003.
—Zev Chafets, Roger Ailes: Off Camera, 2013.
Flash-forward to today, where Allahpundit catches Shep Smith wondering, is America about to “ruin” Cuba?
Actual quote about an honest to goodness police state, no apparent irony intended: “The last thing they need is a Taco Bell and a Lowe’s.”
Two ways to read that, I guess. One is that he’s objecting to having the wrong priorities, not to American businesses invading the island. Cubans need basic necessities, not fast food. Get a couple of Charmin factories in there churning out TP and that’d be a corporate move worth applauding. But wait — if that’s his point, why’s he reminiscing at the start of the segment about the sweet-ass four-dollar Cuban rum he likes to bring back whenever he travels there? That’s not a necessity. Which brings us to theory two: This is exactly what it sounds like, a guy seemingly willing to trade away greater prosperity for Cubans if it means Americanizing the island in return for preserving the quaint, simple culture that decades of authoritarianism and economic retardation have produced. It’s basically the “noble savage” view of economics. What doth it profit a Cuban to gain a middle-American depot for cheap building materials if he lose his cheap-rum-making soul? Where are we going to go to watch people riding around in 60-year-old Studebakers now?
Ahh, omnipotent tourism syndrome — even a Fox anchor isn’t immune:
“The great start-up slowdown” is explored by the Washington Post:
The more pronounced of those trends is a slowing birthrate for new businesses. The slowdown has persisted over two decades and has worsened since 2000. Economists aren’t entirely sure what’s causing it.
The nation’s “start-up rate,” the number of new companies as a share of total companies, declined by 12 percent from the late 1980s to the eve of the Great Recession. That’s according to research by John Haltiwanger, a pathbreaking University of Maryland economist who studies business dynamics, and several co-authors. They found the rate dropped even further during the recession: By 2011, it was about 25 percent lower than it was in the late ’80s.
Recent research from the Brookings Institution confirms that compared to 25 years ago, a smaller share of Americans today work in start-up companies and that a smaller share of companies are start-ups. Even the tech industry — that bastion of venture capital and IPOs — has seen its start-up rate decline. In 1982, Haltiwanger and coauthors report, 3 in 5 high-tech firms were young start-ups; in 2012, that had fallen to less than 2 in 5.
This is bad for middle-class workers. Newer companies create a lot more jobs, on net, than long-established ones, according to several studies, including a recent one by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which compiles economic statistics for wealthy nations around the world. (This is true even though so many start-ups fail.) Haltiwanger’s research suggests America would have 1.1 million more jobs today if dynamism were still at even mid-1980s levels. More jobs would reduce competition among would-be workers for available slots, which would mean companies would need to pay workers more to attract or keep them.
I blame the Washington Post.
Well, at least a little bit. After pulling out all the stops to get Mr. Obama elected, at dawn of his presidency, the Post, through its then-Newsweek division, ran the following cover:
If you’re plumping for socialism, you’re also rejecting a dynamic entrepreneur-friendly economy in search of what Virginia Postrel calls stasism, a freeze-dried early-20th century economic paradigm in which big corporations, through plenty of help from government, happily crush small businesses into the ground.
Short of full-out nationalization*, that model seems like an ideal solution or at least a nifty modified limited hangout** when your industry is in its death-throes, and it’s not a coincidence that the Graham Family first divested itself of Newsweek after a half century of ownership for a dollar a year and a half after the above cover, and then last year offloaded the Post itself at fire-sale prices to Jeff Bezos.
Since Bezos made his money launching a quintessential start-up, presumably the new iteration of the Post is a bit more start-up friendly (at least for now). But the sins of their namesake predecessors shouldn’t be forgotten.
American transformed itself into Orwell’s Oceania so slowly, I hardly even noticed. Fortunately, Daniel Greenfield did; at his Sultan Knish blog, he charts the Inner Party’s descent into madness from Bill Clinton’s “what the meaning of ‘is’ is” moment until today, when he concludes:
Progressives don’t only live in a post-American world; they live in a post-Truth world. A world without facts and without truth is one in which the America that was cannot exist.
America had prospered because of a firm belief in a discoverable and exploitable reality. That was the country that could build skyscrapers and fleets in a year. Post-Truth America has little interest in big buildings because it’s too busy enacting a psychodrama in which the earth is about to be destroyed. And fleets, like horses and bayonets and facts, are 19th century toys that are much less interesting than the manipulation of people through lies and deceit.
Lena Dunham’s Barry and Obama’s Barry are both imaginary creatures. They are the sophisticated products of disordered minds and a disordered civilization whose leading figures lie as instinctively and as shamelessly as any pre-rational culture that could not distinguish between lies and truth.
Read the whole thing.
What happens when those disordered minds shaping a disordered civilization are called on their madness? “Win, and a multitude of weaknesses will go unnoticed. Lose, and out comes the crazy,” Steve Sailer writes on “The Progressive crack-up of late 2014,” And who brings the muscle behind the crazy? It’s “The Left’s Shock Troops,” Rich Lowry adds at NRO. “Anti-police protesters have found their enemy, and it is commuters and shoppers.”
But then, the left have been targeting hapless American commuters for decades now:
“3 Ways The Biblical Blockbuster Can Get Its Groove Back,” as proffered by Hans Fiene at the Federalist:
I know, I know. Nobody in Hollywood wants to touch him. I know he got behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated and said some reprehensible things about Jewish people. But remember what Mel Gibson accomplished in 2004. He took a cast of mostly no-name actors, had them speak exclusively in Hebrew and Aramaic, and made the highest grossing R-rated film in U.S. history.
More importantly, he made an absurdly Catholic film, and all the Pope-hating Protestants in the country poured into their church buses and made pilgrimages to the local multiplex to see it. Seriously, “The Passion of the Christ” is the cinematic equivalent of a two-hour, spurting crucifix, and the same people who won’t even walk into sanctuaries with the corpse of Jesus carved onto a cross rewarded him with $370 million domestic.
So if you want to achieve “Passion”-level results at the box office, you need to get over your aversion to Gibson and hire a man who has both the trust of Christian audiences and the cinematic talent necessary for such a feat. But how do you forgive his unforgivable transgressions? Easy, just pretend he’s Roman Polanski, the critically acclaimed director who hasn’t stepped foot on U.S. soil since fleeing sentencing for six sexual assault related charges in 1977.
Polanksi hasn’t had a hard time getting work after his indiscretions. He’s directed eleven feature films since then, and notable actors such as Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Johnny Depp, Ewan McGregor, and Kate Winslet have had no moral objection to working with him. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences even gave him a Best Director Oscar, along with a standing ovation. in 2003. So if giving work to Mel Gibson makes you feel a little ill because of the unforgiveable speech that spewed forth from his drunken lips, just pretend that he did something far more pardonable, like Roman Polanski did.
If your conscience can’t handle employing a man who said some anti-Semitic words a decade ago, just pretend that he drugged and sodomized a 13-year-old girl instead, and that should put you at ease when you sign the contract.
Or heck Hollywood, just pretend Mel’s a film executive at Sony, and everything’s golden, right?
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) December 17, 2014
hackers getting a nation to fight FOR the release of a seth rogen comedy is Black Mirror-level performance art
— Casey Johnston (@caseyjohnston) December 17, 2014
OK, to be fair, modern Hollywood has beclowned itself so badly in the post-9/11 era, that there is a weird kabuki-like performance art to the whole North Korea-versus Hollywood story, but as Abe Greenwald writes at Commentary, “The Sony hacking story has largely been treated as a juicy showbiz gossip scandal. We’re probably going to regret that:”
If North Korea is behind the computer hacks and threats to terrorize theaters showing The Interview, it confirms a new era of rogue-state terrorism, one for which there’s no counterterrorism blueprint. According to the New York Times, Landmark’s Sunshine Cinema has killed its scheduled New York premier of the anti-Kim Jong-un comedy. The Hollywood Reporter says that the country’s top five theater chains have pulled out of showing the film. Time says the movie’s stars, James Franco and Seth Rogen, have called off their publicity tour. A spate of film executives are backpedaling for their lives as their emails are picked through and published to viral derision. The Times’s Michael Cieply and Brooks Barnes write that the theater threat “opens a new range of worry for Hollywood.”
As Allahpundit adds at Hot Air, “Rarely do you see a terrorist victory quite this total. Bow down, America:”
I hope our fearless leadership in Washington is preparing some form of retaliation, cyber or otherwise, for the NorKs for terrorizing an American industry into submission. By dropping the film under pressure, the theaters are making the same concession that newspapers made in refusing to publish the Mohammed cartoons, replacing the free-speech norms of American culture with the norms of a more illiberal one. Going forward, with respect to North Korea at least, Hollywood will follow North Korean rules for what can and can’t be said. That can’t stand. And it’s a disgrace that Obama hasn’t said so already.
Speaking of retaliation, this is a nice idea but fraught with problems. Imagine being a North Korean peasant who picks up a DVD of “The Interview” that he found on the ground, brings it back to his home having no idea what it is, and then gets a surprise visit from the NorK gestapo, who find the disc on his kitchen table. What happens to that guy? There has to be a better way to strike back. This is one, especially if Sony makes the download free.
Update (Allahpundit): North Korea’s GDP as of 2011 was $40 billion. Sony’s market cap today is $22 billion. Seems like a reasonably evenly matched virtual fight. Why doesn’t Sony build its own cyberarmy and counter if the feds won’t?
Update (Allahpundit): What’d I just say about following North Korean rules?
The chilling effect of the Sony Pictures Hacking and terror threats against The Interview are reverberating. New Regency has scrapped another project that was to be set in North Korea. The untitled thriller, set up in October, was being developed by director Gore Verbinski as a star vehicle for Foxcatcher’s Steve Carell. It’s a paranoid thriller written by Steve Conrad and it was going to start production in March. Insiders tell me under the current circumstances, it just makes no sense to move forward. The location won’t be transplanted.
Jihadi hackers would be nuts not to try this the next time a war movie is in the works. In hindsight, it’s amazing Zero Dark Thirty made it to the screen.
Oh sure, ISIS and the Iranians are great at headchopping and blowing stuff up, but they don’t have the technological know-how to pull off serious Neo-in-the-Matrix-level corporate database hacking cyberwar activities, right? Which brings us back to Abe Greenwald at Commentary:
In February, hackers laid digital waste to Sheldon Adelson’s Sands casino, forcing the Sands to temporarily disconnect from the Internet. It was a massive undertaking that wiped out or compromised millions of files. Bloomberg reports that “recovering data and building new systems could cost the company $40 million or more” (a figure coincidently close to the $44 million Sony sunk into The Interview). Why did hackers target Adelson? The cyberterrorists who hit him call themselves the “Anti-WMD Team.” They are based in Iran, and claim retaliation for Adelson’s hawkish remarks about the Islamic Republic. Here’s the rub, via Bloomberg:
The security team couldn’t determine if Iran’s government played a role, but it’s unlikely that any hackers inside the country could pull off an attack of that scope without its knowledge, given the close scrutiny of Internet use within its borders. “This isn’t the kind of business you can get into in Iran without the government knowing,” says James Lewis, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
So, if the evidence is pointing in the right direction, dictatorships are tanking our enterprise, holding us hostage, and essentially turning us into their offshore subjects.
And thus we come full circle with our opening Tweet:
Sony email hack reveals Amy Pascal likened movie stars on TV as ‘the new black baby’ http://t.co/kRi0xrMjA0
— Ed Driscoll (@EdDriscoll) December 17, 2014
It’s hard to imagine worse people than today’s Hollywood executives and actors, but North Korean, Iranian and Cuban terrorists all qualify. And our semi-retired president, in full YOLO mode, is negotiating with at least two thirds of those monsters. Sleep tight, America.
For liberals who squeal about torture, human rights, and the dignity of human freedom, you’re in bed with monsters. Soak in it, hypocrites.
— Rick Wilson (@TheRickWilson) December 17, 2014
Past performance is no guarantee of future results:
The protective bubble that comes with the presidency – the armored limo, the Secret Service detail, the White House – shields Barack and Michelle Obama from a lot of unpleasantness. But their encounters with racial prejudice aren’t as far in the past as one might expect. And they obviously still sting.
* * * * * * * *
“I tell this story – I mean, even as the first lady – during that wonderfully publicized trip I took to Target, not highly disguised, the only person who came up to me in the store was a woman who asked me to help her take something off a shelf. Because she didn’t see me as the first lady, she saw me as someone who could help her. Those kinds of things happen in life. So it isn’t anything new.”
—“The Obamas: How We Deal with Our Own Racist Experiences,” a People Magazine “Exclusive,” today.
“That’s my Target run. I went to Target,” she said. “I thought I was undercover. I have to tell you something about this trip though. No one knew that was me because a woman actually walked up to me, right? I was in the detergent aisle, and she said — I kid you not — she said, ‘Excuse me, I just have to ask you something,’ and I thought, ‘Oh, cover’s blown.’ She said, ‘Can you reach on that shelf and hand me the detergent?’ I kid you not.”
As the audience laughed, she went on, “And the only thing she said — I reached up, ’cause she was short, and I reached up, pulled it down — she said, ‘Well, you didn’t have to make it look so easy.’ That was my interaction. I felt so good. … She had no idea who I was. I thought, as soon as she walked up — I was with my assistant, and I said, ‘This is it, it’s over. We’re going to have to leave.’ She just needed the detergent.”
—“Michelle Obama talks Target and her dad on Letterman’s couch,” the Politico, March 19, 2012.
As the Insta-Professor adds today in response to the First Lady’s Target-ed revisionism, “What’s interesting to me about this obviously-contrived episode is how hard the Obamas are working to position themselves as Super-Sharptons for the post-presidency.”
(H/T: Ashe Schow.)
Update: From Jim Treacher, “Michelle Obama: America Is So Racist, A White Lady At Target Asked Me To Reach The Top Shelf,” with video of Michelle on Letterman in 2012 during her earlier, funnier days.
Actually only the first three words of Ed Morrissey headline at The Week are really necessary when it comes to anything involving the pedantic Hollywood archleftist. As Ed writes, “The famed screenwriter is unhappy that news outlets are publishing emails leaked by hackers. But that’s what the media do:”
Sorkin, for his part, argued that the leaked material had no real news value, unlike the leaks from the Edward Snowden cache or the Pentagon Papers. Sony isn’t a government or Enron, he pointed out, but a movie studio, and nothing of what was stolen and published had any social or cultural value, appealing only to the prurient and the nosy.
In this, Sorkin landed a clean punch — but perhaps he was too much on target. His essay could easily be taken for an argument against the existence of Variety altogether. After all, Variety doesn’t cover governments or the Enrons of the world. What exactly is Variety supposed to cover, if not news about the studios and celebrities, the appetite for which can be best described as prurience and nosiness?
For that matter, the entertainment industry hardly rises to Sorkin’s stated standards, despite his best efforts. He fulminated about a NATO-type treaty among studios and unions to lobby Congress for some kind of action to defend against an attack on “one of America’s largest exports.” Sony Entertainment is a subsidiary of the Japanese corporation, of course, so it’s not exactly an American export. And if the American film industry as a whole is so important that it requires Congress to protect it, then suddenly we’re back to grounds that it is newsworthy, and that Variety and other media outlets are correct to exercise scrutiny whenever possible.
There is also a hint of double standards in Sorkin’s outrage. If the Rudin-Pascal email exchange had taken place at another corporation — say, Walmart or Koch Industries — would Sorkin have objected to a hack that exposed it, and media coverage about the exchange? Or would it have been just great journalism, as long as it didn’t gore Sorkin’s own ox?
Consider this: The IRS leaked confidential financial information about the National Organization for Marriage before the 2012 election, after which it ended up in the hands of its opponents, Human Rights Watch. It then got disseminated to media outlets, which published the data and damaged the conservative group’s operations during a political campaign. A similar leak struck the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, whose financial records also got published by a liberal outlet before the 2012 election.
On a public policy basis, as well as on the affront-to-American-values scale, those infractions should rank a little higher than the Sony hack. Yet Sorkin didn’t seem bothered by reporters following up on those leaks. Or perhaps I missed Sorkin’s call for Congress to take action against the IRS and its targeting of private conservative organizations.
Note that Sony’s op-ed ran in the New York Times, which published the Pentagon Papers during the Nixon era, but famously did everything it could to bury the Climategate scandal in November of 2009, as Alana Goodman wrote at Commentary:
Some may argue that it’s unfair to criticize [New York Times’ ‘environmental’ ‘reporter’ Andrew Revkin] for his private comments, and point out that none of these emails on its own could be characterized as an egregious ethical lapse. Maybe. But combined, they point to a pattern. There’s also this: Revkin was the same Times reporter who refused to publish the first trove of ClimateGate emails in 2009, claiming they were off-limits because they were “private” conversations (a standard the paper evidently hasn’t applied to other leaked documents). He also dismissed the scandal as meritless.
As one of the leading national environmental reporters, Revkin had a huge amount of influence over whether the ClimateGate controversy went anywhere. He ended up doing all he could to snuff it out. Should the fact that he wasn’t just involved in the emails, but also seemed to portray himself as an ideological ally to the scientists, raise ethical questions about the Times’ coverage of the first ClimateGate? I’d say so. And maybe Revkin’s departure from the news section one month after the emails leaked in 2009 means that, internally, the Times thought so as well.
As I wrote in November of 2009, Revkin’s motto back then seemed to be “All the News That’s Fit to Bury:”
Seeing as they each impact key pillars of what today passes for liberalism, there seems to be more than a few connections between the recent ACORN stings by Giles, O’Keefe and Breitbart, and the recent hacking of the emails of the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit, or “Global WarmingGate”, as Charlie Martin dubs it elsewhere at Pajamas. Not the least is that they each sent the legacy media into full gatekeeper mode, hoping to prevent exciting, important news of current events from ever reaching their readers. Or perhaps, like the scandal last year involving John Edwards, sitting on the stories for so long, while making claims that they have to endlessly research them to verify their authenticity — Keep rockin’! — that when the legacy media decides to go “public” with news that everyone already knows, they can dramatically dilute the ultimate impact of these stories.
And then the Times went on to ask its readers to crowdsource any revelations in Sarah Palin’s emails, confirming its biases, and what news the admittedly leftwing paper deems fit to print.
Related: While Sony’s Amy Pascal, who previously banished Mel Gibson to industry Siberia for his drunken anti-Semitic rants rushes to Al Sharpton in an effort to save her job (see also: Imus, Don), don’t miss the New York Post on Scott Rudin, her co chair, “The man known as Hollywood’s biggest a-hole.” And that’s saying something, given the industry baseline.
“Jonathan Gruber should’ve been Time’s Person of the Year,” Jonah Goldberg writes at the L.A. Times, likely much to the consternation of his ultra-PC editors there, who I’m sure have dreams of using Time as a career escape valve, one way or another:
I think Time missed an opportunity in not putting Gruber on the cover. Tea partyers and Wall Street occupiers disagree on a great many things, but there’s one place where the Venn diagrams overlap: the sense we’re all being played for suckers, that the rules are being set up to benefit those who know how to manipulate the rules. The left tends to focus on Wall Street types whose bottom line depends more on lobbying Washington than satisfying the consumer.
But Gruber is something special. He was supposed to be better, more pure than the fat cats. Touted by press and politicians alike as an objective and fair-minded arbiter of healthcare reform, the MIT economist was in fact a warrior for the cause, invested emotionally, politically and, it turns out, financially through undisclosed consulting arrangements. The people who relied on his expertise never bothered to second-guess his conflicts of interest because they, too, were warriors in the same fight.
In speeches and interviews, Gruber admitted he helped the Obama administration craft the law in such a way that it would seem like it didn’t tax the American people when it did. Using insights gleaned in part from his status as an advisor to the Congressional Budget Office, Gruber helped construct an actuarial Trojan Horse that could smuggle a tax hike past the CBO bean counters. If the individual mandate was counted as a tax it would be a big political liability for President Obama (fortunately for Obamacare, the Supreme Court saw through the subterfuge and called it tax, rendering it constitutional).
Gruber then mocked the “stupidity of the American voter” for not seeing through the camouflage he helped design.
No matter much Gruber and his fellow leftists hate us, as Iowahawk has noted, it wasn’t we on the right Gruber was mocking; we immediately saw the multifaceted dangers of Obamacare for what they were and sounded the alarm. Still, perhaps Time magazine didn’t want to rehash their previous mea culpa last year for how badly they and the rest of the cogs in the Time-Warner-CNN-HBO* conglomerate blew this story:
But in 2009 and 2010, when it mattered, during the run-up to Obamacare’s passing, HBO and CNN, both owned by the same conglomerate as Mark Halperin’s Time magazine were doing the DNC’s bidding by insulting any of its detractors as racists, and CNN was inviting high school kids into the studio to sing pro-Obamacare propaganda:
* Time left their namesake owners this past summer. But they were very much a key member of the conglomerate during the period it thoroughly enjoyed being spokesmen for the Obama administration’s disastrous signature “achievement.” I mean, they gave themselves cake and everything to celebrate the joys of being used.
“The actual Lie of the Year was too hot for PolitiFact,” as is often the case when it works against The Narrative. As Don Surber notes, “for three months, Dorian Johnson’s lies fueled riots across the country. The whole Hands Up, Don’t Shoot movement is based on this lie. The news media including Fox News has refused to call his lies what they are: lies:”
Rather than take on the biggest prevarication of 2014 — one that threatened to tear the nation apart along racial lines — the people at PolitiFact went with a vague and lame “exaggerations about Ebola.” A lie is a statement that is knowingly false. Exaggerations stretch the truth. PolitiFact’s confusion over what is a lie is the most embarrassing admission by a new organization that compiles these lists since Time Magazine selected YOU! as its Man of the Year in 2006.
The lie of the year is Dorian Johnson’s statement to Wolf Blitzer about the shooting and death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, last August: ”I saw the officer proceeding after my friend Big Mike with his gun drawn, and he fired a second shot and that struck my friend Big Mike. And at that time, he turned around with his hands up, beginning to tell the officer that he was unarmed and to tell him to stop shooting. But at that time, the officer firing several more shots into my friend, and he hit the ground and died.”
But PolitiFact is too spineless to call that the Lie of the Year because the American press in the 21st century is afraid of being called racist by liberal black organizations.
When it comes to the Orwellianly-named “Politifact,” as the Insta-Professor would say, “Just think of them as Democratic operatives with bylines and you won’t go far wrong.”
Update: “PolitiFact got nearly everything about its ‘Lie of the Year’ wrong,” Commentary’s Seth Mandel writes. Which brings us back to the previous quote from Glenn Reynolds.
“No Exam Delay for Oberlin Students ‘Traumatized’ By Grand Jury Decisions,” Elizabeth Nolan Brown writes at Reason’s Hit & Run blog, spotting a hilarious exchange between a distaff Oberlin freshman (apologies for using that doubleplus ungood crimethink oldspeak word) and her terse, but spot-on professor, who just might be the only grownup left at Oberlin. And it gets better:
After receiving his professor’s response, the student posted the exchange publicly to Facebook, with the message: “TRIGGER WARNING: Violent language regarding an extremely dismissive response from a professor. This is an email exchange I had with my professor this evening. … We are obviously not preaching to the choir. Professors and administration at Oberlin need to be held accountable for their words and actions and have a responsibility to their students.”
But I don’t mean to pick too much on this student, an Oberlin freshman. This is the environment she’s inherited and set of social cues she’s learned from people who should know far better—like professors and administrators at Ivy League law schools, for a start.
Stephen Kruiser nominates Professor Raney as “Teacher of the Year,” but wonders how long before he’ll be experiencing the joys of President Obama’s “Funemployment:”
Look for this guy to be out of a job within the year. Dissent from the progressive orthodoxy is not tolerated.
But what I’m really waiting for is Oberlin alumnus Lena Dunham to weigh in with her take on Mr. Raney.
“What Happens to Society When Robots Replace Workers?” William H. Davidow and PJM alumnus Michael S. Malone ask at the Harvard Business Review. Though note the chilling phrase that concludes this passage:
Estimates of general rates of technological progress are always imprecise, but it is fair to say that, in the past, progress came more slowly. Henry Adams, the historian, measured technological progress by the power generated from coal, and estimated that power output doubled every ten years between 1840 and 1900, a compounded rate of progress of about 7% per year. The reality was probably much less. For example, in 1848, the world record for rail speed reached 60 miles per hour. A century later, commercial aircraft could carry passengers at speeds approaching 600 miles per hour, a rate of progress of only about 2% per year.
By contrast, progress today comes rapidly. Consider the numbers for information storage density in computer memory. Between 1960 and 2003, those densities increased by a factor of five million, at times progressing at a rate of 60% per year. At the same time, true to Moore’s Law, semiconductor technology has been progressing at a 40% rate for more than 50 years. These rates of progress are embedded in the creation of intelligent machines, from robots to automobiles to drones, that will soon dominate the global economy – and in the process drive down the value of human labor with astonishing speed.
This is why we will soon be looking at hordes of citizens of zero economic value. Figuring out how to deal with the impacts of this development will be the greatest challenge facing free market economies in this century.
“Hordes of citizens of zero economic value?” Frances Fox Piven, call your office.
“Story of the $72 million teen trader unravels” CNN-Money reports. Possible alternate headline? At Long Last CNN Finds a Media Outlet It Can Look Down Upon:
It didn’t take long for New York Magazine’s story on a 17-year-old stock whiz with a rumored net worth of $72 million to make a splash. But the story’s juicy premise unraveled almost as quickly.
Jessica Pressler wrote the profile of Mohammed Islam, a senior at Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan, for a feature called “Reasons to Love New York.”
After getting an advanced look at Pressler’s piece, the New York Post put the improbable story on its Sunday front page. By Monday morning, Islam’s story was one of the hottest on Facebook.
Then it fell apart. In an interview with the New York Observer published Monday night, Islam admitted that he fabricated the whole story and has never actually made a return on any investment. “So it’s total fiction?” asked the Observer. “Yes,” Islam said. (updated)
Early Monday, CNBC’s Josh Brown wondered if Islam was duping “an overly eager press willing to believe.”
That last sentence is certainly a perennial these days, isn’t it? In any case, perhaps the once mighty New York magazine, founded in the late-1960s by legendary editor Clay Felker as a spin-off of the dying New York Herald Tribune, which helped put Tom Wolfe, Jimmy Breslin and other practitioners of “the New Journalism” on the map, should these days stick to profiling men who have sex with horses. It’s safer for them, that way.
As Jeff Jacoby spots in the Boston Globe, “Journalists, says Jorge Ramos, shouldn’t make a fetish of accuracy and impartiality:”
Speaking last month at the International Press Freedom Awards, Univision’s influential news anchor told his audience that while he has “nothing against objectivity,” journalism is meant to be wielded as “a weapon for a higher purpose: justice.” Of course, he continued, it is important to get the facts right — five deaths should be reported as five, not six or seven. But “the best of journalism happens when we, purposely, stop pretending that we are neutral and recognize that we have a moral obligation to tell truth to power.”
As it happens, Ramos delivered those remarks soon after the publication of Sabrina Rubin Erdely’s 9,000-word story in Rolling Stone vividly describing the alleged gang rape of a freshman named Jackie at a University of Virginia fraternity party. Erdely had reportedly spent months researching the story, and its explosive impact was — at first — everything a tell-truth-to-power journalist could have wished: national attention, public outrage, campus protests, suspension of UVA’s fraternities, and a new “zero-tolerance” policy on sexual assault.
Of course, one can find examples of every area of journalism in which leftwing industry publications and industry spokesmen have called for the abandonment of objectivity. For Ramos, it’s to advance socialism through the amnesty of illegal immigrants, through others, it’s to advance socialism through pushing the theme of “climate change.” In 2008, old media seemed like the second coming of Beatlemania-struck preteen girls over Barack Obama. In 2009 and 2010, ostensibly “objective” network TV news readers openly plumped for higher taxes and socialized medicine. The MSM in general loves to transform local crime stories into National Conversations on Race — with plenty of “Mostly Peaceful” riots along the way. For others, the quest for nihilism is advanced via aggressively socialist justice warriors in the reporting of videogames and sports.
And speaking of which, NBC’s low-rated pariah network MSNBC is thinking of covering or running sports in an effort to boost ratings. Or perhaps to find a home for Bob Costas in-between massively politicized halftime lectures on Sunday Night Football. (An earlier, funnier Saturday Night Live would be rubbing their hands together in anticipation of writing sketches along the lines of “Al Sharpton’s Sports Machine.” But then, like the rest of NBC, SNL became palace guard comics long ago.)