Ed Driscoll

Ed Driscoll

Go Fly a Drone!

June 2nd, 2015 - 8:08 pm

In December I’m going to be joining Glenn Reynolds, Dana Loesch, Ed Morrissey, Kevin Williamson, Roger Simon, Steve Green, and Mark Rippetoe for a spectacular Second Amendment program called Bullets & Bourbon.  The event will be held at Rough Creek Lodge, which is a fantastic venue in Glen Rose, Texas (about an hour and a half south of Dallas). Later this month, I’ll be putting together a video shot at various locations at Rough Creek, and in order to round up the source material, my wife and I were out there today experimenting with a DJI Phantom 2 Vision Plus drone we rented from EyeInTheSkyRentals.com (who have been great to work with). The drone is remarkably intuitive to fly, and with some practice to operate the controls, it’s possible to easily land it as well. I only crashed it a couple of times…

drone_crash_1_sml

Which is also a reminder of how ruggedly it’s built; it was flying again immediately after we recovered it off the roof. The drone can be flown manually, but what makes it truly useful for aerial video photography is the unit’s downloadable smart phone app, which allows the user to program in a route via Google Maps.  As I said, we’re going to be editing this footage into a shorter, faster moving sequence, but I wanted to upload the raw footage and share it with you as soon as possible because… well, because we had such a blast and were so excited we didn’t lose or break the drone! I hope you enjoy them, and will think about joining us in December.

This is an overflight of the entrance to Rough Creek Lodge; for a really extreme overview, you can get a sense of where we were via this Google Map:

This is the spectacular three-story main compound which contains the facility’s two-story dining room, and the picturesque lake it overlooks, where catch and release fishing is available:

Rough Creek contains two pool facilities for its guests; here’s a flight over the family pool area, the zip line ride, the tennis court, the petting zoo, plus the main building:

And finally, here is the Mallard Lake House, which is a rentable guest house near RCL’s equine area, and another view of the RCL’s main building:

In a few days, we’ll also be uploading some (ground-based) videos of Tanner, one of the Rough Creek guides, at some of the many shooting venues.  In the meantime, follow Bullets & Bourbon on Twitter and stop by the event’s Website for many more details.

Quote of the Day

June 1st, 2015 - 9:05 pm

…Stewart Brand (whom I’ve met a few times and who is one of the co-authors of the recent Eco-Modernist Manifesto) says that after a while when doomsday doesn’t come you have to begin wondering whether the underlying theory is simply wrong.

* * * * * * *

Prediction: In about 20 years or so, the [NYT's] Retro Report will be doing a big story on “The Unrealized Horrors of Climate Change.” (That’s if the New York Times is still around in 20 years. Heh.)

“Whatever Happened to the ‘Population Bomb’?”, Steve Hayward, Power Line, today. Read the whole thing.

(And note that some people aren’t even giving the Gray Lady as long a projected lifespan as Hayward.)

Related: “For Germany, Demography Is Doom.” As Mark Steyn warned a decade ago, “what’s the point of creating a secular utopia if it’s only for one generation?”

In response to the scandal currently embroiling former GOP House Speaker Dennis Hastart, Ana Marie Cox of the Daily Beast asks, “How can Hastert’s reputation even be worth $3.5 million?”

Hastert is a former member of Congress known to have profited off of a shady land deal and he’s a registered lobbyist—these are already the two professions that Americans regard as the most disreputable careers available. They are literally last (lobbyist) and second-to-last (congressman) on Gallup’s list of what jobs Americans regard as “honest” and “ethical.” What would one have to do to be thought even less of?

Given the ickiness of what has been reported, it might not be good to think about that question too hard, so let’s turn that question on its head: What kind of reputation could be worth spending $3.5 million to protect?

To consider $3.5 million a reasonable sum to spend on protecting one’s reputation, presumably it has to be worth a lot more than that. And, indeed, in the context of the lobbying world, $3.5 million just isn’t that much money. Especially considering that Hastert was apparently making pay-offs over time. Special interest groups spent almost 1000 times that—$3.2 billion—in 2015 alone. If Hastert viewed protecting his reputation as a kind of investment in future earnings, $3.5 million is on the scale of buying an alarm system for your home, not buying a whole other house.

And, it’s important to remember, what Hastert was covering up with that hush money was not a “reputation” as an average citizen might conceive of it: something akin to honor or trustworthiness or fidelity. A lobbyist’s reputation, after all, actually hinges on his or her established lack of principles.

As Cox notes, “A lobbying client for someone who is a former member of Congress is paying a premium for that person’s willingness to engage in barely-legal favor-trading. A lobbyist’s prices go up the more corrupt he is. Who wants to hire an honest one?” Well, no one at the Daily Beast; Cox is the former namesake editor of the Gawker-owned Website Wonkette, which routinely trashed small government conservatives in the mid-naughts. Her editor at the Daily Beast is former Giuliani speechwriter John Avlon, who has made a career of routinely smearing small government conservatives and libertarian Tea Party members as “Wingnuts.”

As John Fund writes at NRO today in response to the Hastart scandal:

All of this self-dealing is a major reason that Americans hold Congress in such low esteem today. It helps explain why GOP presidential candidate Carly Fiorina is bringing audiences to their feet when she cites a recent Rasmussen Reports poll: It’s sad, she says that ’82 percent of the American people now believe that we have a professional political class that is more focused on preserving its power and privilege than it is on doing the people’s work.

That’s certainly true in the offices of the Daily Beast, where no one is interested in shrinking the power or corruption of an out of control federal government.

And so, as he flies the blue lady of the skies into the sunset, we say, aloha, Five O’Clock Bobby! Let me remind you that the weblog is open 24 hours a day for your dancing and dining pleasure:

CBS’ Bob Schieffer signed off from Face the Nation [yesterday] and sat down with Fox News’ Howard Kurtz to share his thoughts on the changing media landscape and whether the media has certain pro-establishment or pro-Democratic biases.

Schieffer said that maybe people like him were too cozy with people in power, but at least back in the days when that was prevalent, people knew each other, were friendly to each other, and “the town worked a lot better.”

Read that last line as the good old days, when Democrat New Deal leftists and me-too Republicans blindly went along with their worldview. Until that horrible Barry Goldwater went along, whom my former colleague Walter Cronkite smeared as a crypto-Nazi. That evil pioneering conservative was a springboard for Ronald Reagan, who governed in wildly successful fashion despite our best efforts to destroy him, as my former colleague Dan Rather would attempt in ham-fisted fashion against his successors, father and son George Bush.

More from Kurtz’s interview with Schieffer:

Many people in this country, as you know, think the three broadcast networks are too biased, too liberal. Would you agree looking back that the media gave Barack Obama an incredibly easy ride in 2008, and for much of his presidency?

BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, I think, I think the whole political world was struck by this fella who sort of came out of nowhere with this very unusual name and when he won out in Iowa, I think people sat up and took notice.

And notice that as late as the end of October of 2008, on the eve of the presidential election whose outcome the DNC-MSM worked so hard to orchestrate, Charlie Rose, Schieffer’s sometime colleague at CBS was still playing the “fella who sort of came out nowhere” game with NBC’s Tom Brokaw; both men pretended to not have a clue about Barack Obama’s worldview, despite having decades of experience between them and entire newsrooms of reporters at their beck and call. The following year, Schieffer’s then-CBS colleague Katie Couric would recite a Christmas-themed poem to shill for Obamacare on the air at Thanksgiving time.

To his credit, Kurtz, who even after being dumped by CNN and the Washington Post still all too frequently plays the “see no bias” game, calls Schieffer on this:

KURTZ: But isn’t it the job journalists to be skeptical even of the young phenom?

SCHIEFFER: Yeah, it is. It is. And I don’t know, maybe we were not skeptical enough. ["The understatement of the century" howls the Jamie Wearing Fools blog at this point -- Ed] It was a campaign. Howie, my feeling is, it is the role of the other — of the opponents to make the campaign. I think as journalists, basically, what we do is we watch the campaign and we report what the two sides are doing. I think it is the politicians who make the campaign.

KURTZ: But don’t journalists have an adversarial role to play when you have a presidential candidate in the chair facing you –

SCHIEFFER: Sure.

KURTZ: You want to be tough on that person?

SCHIEFFER: Well, I think you want to get at the truth. What you’re trying to do is find out who this person is and what he’s about. I don’t think that always has to be adversarial.

Unless there’s a conservative involved, as we saw both in 2008, when Schieffer’s fellow Democrats with bylines hounded Sarah Palin, and as recently as this past April  from Schieffer himself. If Schieffer had been honest with his audiences, we could take him at his word and view him as an elderly “Progressive” Democrat with a courtly demeanor and adjust our expectations to fit his far left big government/anti-conservative agenda. As it is, he’s going out like he spent his career, obfuscating to the end.

By the way, unless NewsBusters and Mediaite both completely missed it in their recaps, Howard Kurtz failed to ask Schieffer the exit question of the century: So Bob, what do you think about your successor on Face the Nation writing a column in 2013 that advised President Obama to “Destroy the GOP?”

In Defense of Joe Biden

May 31st, 2015 - 10:16 am

“Joe Biden is still the VP of the worst administration in American history. The country may not survive the damage he and Barry have caused. Right now, however, he is a man dealing with the worst blow life can inflict on a person, the death of a child. On behalf of Ace of Spades HQ and all of the co and open bloggers, my prayers go out to him in this, his moment of loss.”

Read the whole thing.

The schadenfreude is strong in this one, given the memories of his presidential bid, his role as secretary of state in Mr. Obama’s endlessly snakebit administration, and fellow anti-American socialist Harry Reid’s similarly disastrous alleged recent exercise mishap:

US Secretary of State John Kerry broke his leg in a bike crash Sunday, apparently after hitting a curb while taking a break after talks in Geneva, Switzerland.

The diplomat was biking near Scionzier, France before the accident, which caused him to scrap the rest of a four-nation trip that included an international conference on combating the Islamic State group.

Kerry, 71, was in stable condition and in good spirits as he prepared to return to Boston for further treatment with the doctor who previously operated on his hip, US State Department spokesman John Kirby said.

He said X-rays at a Swiss hospital confirmed that Kerry fractured his right femur in the 9.40am incident.

“The secretary is stable and never lost consciousness, his injury is not life-threatening and he is expected to make a full recovery,” Kirby said in a statement.

Kerry was taken by helicopter to Geneva’s main medical center, HUG, after apparently hitting a curb with his bike in the French town about 40 kilometers southeast of the Swiss border.

Paramedics and a physician were on the scene with his motorcade at the time and provided him immediate attention. They quickly decided to order the 10-minute-long helicopter transport.

Kerry’s cycling rides have become a regular occurrence on his trips. He often takes his bike with him on the plane and was riding that bicycle Sunday.

As Twitchy notes as they round-up the Twitter response, “Monica Crowley sees John Kerry’s bike troubles in Switzerland as the perfect metaphor for U.S.-Iran nuke talks.” And that was before Crash Kerry’s French misadventure.

Judging by the photos that accompany the London Daily Mail’s article,  Kerry is of course, one of those bikers who are a staple on nice days in Silicon Valley and elsewhere — a middle-aged man who dresses in the full skin-tight spandex bodysuit striking cosplay dress-up poses as Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France.

Not surprisingly, while Kerry goes under the knife, Matt Drudge is fully prepared to twist it: “Flashback Kerry: ‘I Don’t Fall Down’…”

Exit question: What is the likely Obamacare treatment for a 71-year old man nearing the end of his government career sustaining such an injury?

(Headline first used by Susan Olasky in 2004 in regards to everyone’s favorite Boston Brahmin turned Winter Soldier turned Iranian nuclear procurer.)

“Public sector jobs are in decline, and one community has been hit particularly hard,” Walter Russell Mead writes at the American Interest:

African Americans. Historically, the black middle class has relied on the government for good jobs. One in five African Americans are employed by the government, making them more dependent on public sector employment than whites and Hispanics. But those jobs are disappearing. . . .

The loss of these jobs has and will hit the African American community hard, putting it in an even more economically precarious position in the coming years. But there’s no reversing the economic and technological trends of the last half-century that have eroded the blue model and employment it generated. These jobs are gone and it’s futile to lament the end of the glory days of peak blue—or strive to bring them back.

Instead, those concerned for the welfare of the black middle class should be putting more energy into considering what the high-wage middle class jobs of the future will be.

Entrepreneurship and small business ownership should be encouraged as a replacement, but that will require elite leftists to undergo a sea-change in their thinking to stop demonizing business owners of all races. For black businesses to succeed, the left must cease saying such as destructive sentiments as “you didn’t build that,” and demand that their constituents of all races cease destroying small businesses as well.

Found via Instapundit, where one of the commenters quips, “In other words, ‘government hiring fewer people, women and minorities hardest hit.’” And note the headline of the post underneath from Elizabeth Price Foley: “Who voted to bring 33 million immigrants from Mexico?”

There’s got to be a connection between the two posts somewhere…

“The Most Ominous Opening to a Scandal in a Long Time,” as spotted by Jim Geraghty in his emailed Morning Jolt:

Yeesh. We don’t know what Dennis Hastert did . . .

According to the indictment, the former House Speaker agreed to pay $3.5 million in 2010 to a person identified only as “Individual ‘A,” in an effort to “compensate and conceal” Hastert’s “prior misconduct.”

The indictment doesn’t reveal details of the misconduct, but it does note the two have known each other for “most of Individual A’s life” and that the individual is from the same Illinois town where from 1965 to 1981 “Hastert was a high school teacher and ‎wrestling coach.”

To conceal the relationship, prosecutors allege that Hastert, over a four year period, withdrew a total of $1.7 million from a number of his personal bank accounts to give to Individual A.

According to the indictment, at first, he took out large amounts — “$50,000 withdrawals of cash” on 15 occasions. But when “bank representatives questioned” him in 2012, “Hastert began withdrawing cash in increments of less than $10,000” because banks are required by federal law to report anything larger.

In 2014 the FBI questioned Hastert about his withdrawals, and he allegedly lied, telling agents “Yeah… I kept the cash. That’s what I’m doing,” explaining that he did not trust the banking system.

. . . but whatever Hastert did, we can all take a guess at what kind of a secret is so bad that it’s worth paying $3.5 million for and sufficiently damaging that it would destroy the life of a 73-year-old man long removed from political office and enjoying a quiet, lucrative life as a lobbyist. The fact that the indictment pointed out the alleged blackmailer’s connection to where Hastert was a high-school teacher and coach sure seems . . . particular.

I hope somebody’s keeping an eye on him.

“So What Did Hastert Do?”  Tom Maguire is speculating on possible scenarios, including:

Hastert is paying child support to the mother (or child) of an out-of-wedlock relationship from his youth. A possible clue – the indictment is quoted as saying, my emphasis, that Hastert was paying in order to compensate for and conceal his prior misconduct…”. And why is this coming out now? Well, for years Hastert was a lowly-paid teacher, and then a (relatively) low-paid member of the House. But now? Back to the Times:

Since leaving office, Mr. Hastert has been a prominent lobbyist in Washington. He is co-leader of the Public Policy & Political Law Practice at the Washington law firm of Dickstein Shapiro, according to the firm’s website.

And he moonlights as the firm’s bagman, paying off officials and staffers that the lobbyists are bribing? Please. Hastert is finally cashing in on his Washington connections, as is his acquaintance from his youth. And for all anyone knows, Hastert may have been paying this person a pittance out of his own somewhat larger pittance for years without attracting attention; this only caught the Feds attention when Hastert’s paycheck spiked.

Could that be it? As Glenn Reynolds writes, “Well, stay tuned.” And as he spots in Maguire’s comments, “Hastert should have started a charity and hired this person on at a Blumenthalian pay level.”

Heh, indeed.™

Filed under: The Memory Hole

Over at the PJ Lifestyle blog, I have an interview with Jimmy Wallace, the creator and prime mover behind the annual Dallas International Guitar Show, now almost 40 years old, which starts tomorrow and through Sunday at Dallas’s Fair Park. If you’re at the show tomorrow and see me, stop by and say hi.

“I finally found a Mexican willing to do a job no American will do!” Coulter quips. “I have an explosive book on the No. 1 issue in the country coming out next week, I’ve already written 10 New York Times best-sellers — I’d be on a postage stamp if I were a liberal — but can’t get an interview on ABC, NBC or CBS. Only Mexican-born Jorge Ramos would interview me on his Fusion network. Yay, Jorge!” The other interviewers were likely terrified that Coulter would ask questions back to the interviewer. And no Democrat operative with a byline wants to be caught blurting this out:

After Ramos said he thinks “diversity” is “fantastic” and “beautiful,” Coulter wrapped the full segment with a question of her own for him.

“We have taken in one quarter of the entire Mexican population,” Coulter asked him. “At what point will we have taken in enough, in your view?”

That’s where Ramos made his stunning admission.

“I think that with the legal system—“ he started to answer.

“Half the Mexican population? The entire Mexican population?” Coulter kept pressing.

“No, I think with the legal system we wouldn’t need and we wouldn’t be having hundreds of people dying crossing the border,” Ramos replied.

“That isn’t an answer to the question,” Coulter corrected him. “One quarter of the Mexican population. How much more do we have to take?”

Ramos dodged again, essentially admitting he supports no limit whatsoever.

“It’s an economic situation,” he said. “As long as you have people here who need immigrants and workers and as long as you have workers needing a job, they’re going to be coming here. It’s an economic situation.”

So in other words, as Matthew Boyle paraphrases at Big Government, Jorge’s admits his dream boils down to “Bring All of Mexico to Live Here.” Hey, it’s not like the US has been having structural unemployment issues, particularly involving large percentages of unemployed minorities. Or as A. J. Delgado wrote at NRO last year, “Black Americans: The True Casualties of Amnesty.”

Also in Boyle’s article, don’t miss Coulter’s calculation that there are nearly three times the numbers of illegal immigrants in the US, calculated via a careful reading of the numbers generated by that house organ of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, Time magazine.

Two Time-Warners In One!

May 28th, 2015 - 3:43 pm

“Chris Cuomo to Pam Geller: We don’t show Mohammed cartoons for the same reason we don’t use the N-word,” as Allahpundit writes at Hot Air on perhaps the ultimate example of a Democrat with a byline employed CNN, a division of Time-Warner-HBO:

Via the Blaze, the key bit starts at 3:50. This is transparently false, of course, but it’s telling that he’d reach for this analogy for the cartoons instead of another obvious example of blasphemy like “Piss Christ.” The word “nigger” became taboo because Americans became more conscious of the injustices of racism. It’s been expunged from polite society due to a cultural consensus that blacks were treated shamefully and that equality requires eschewing words that had been used as tools of intimidation. The power dynamics behind the Mohammed cartoons are the opposite of that. The fear isn’t so much that the minority will feel intimidated by the majority if the taboo is dropped, the fear is that members of the majority will end up being machine-gunned by fringe members of the minority. That’s why the media never thought twice about showing “Piss Christ” or giving rave reviews to “The Book of Mormon” on Broadway. Christians and Mormons might have been offended but they weren’t intimidated by the insult, and there was next to zero risk that any of them were going to go blow up theaters and art galleries in protest.

As I said, CNN is a cog in the mega-corporation that is Time-Warner — and so is HBO, which I doubt very much censors the N-word from Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction, or from its follow-up, Jackie Brown, about which Spike Lee claimed the N-word is spoken 38 times. Until recently, Time-Warner also owned multiple record labels and their publishing houses. How much do they censor the N-word from their rap artists?

Related: “DC Metro Suspends All Political Issue Ads, Rather than Run Pam Geller’s Mohammad Ad.”

When the trailers for Tomorrowland played at my local theater and made the rounds on the Internet, I admired the glittering digital effects, but waited to read the initial reviews before seeing it, as I knew that anything starring George Clooney had to be packing a huge leftwing sucker punch in there somewhere. And of course, it turned out to be the obvious one — global warming. (Shocker!) As Rick McGinnis writes at The Rebel (H/T: Kathy Shaidle), “Tomorrowland chokes on a big, fat Green pill:”

The damning verdict on mankind’s self-sabotage is delivered in a bombastic, furious speech by Hugh Laurie’s Governor Nix, the film’s affably caustic villain. But hold on – by Tomorrowland’s logic, aren’t we the real villains, snuffing out the future as we despoil the planet despite the warnings subliminally beamed to us by Nix from Tomorrowland’s cosmic wifi?

As Pogo the possum said in Walt Kelly’s comic strip, “We have seen the enemy and he is us,” and it is still some kind of heavy s***, apparently.

Laurie’s speech – and the whole clanking ecogeddon conceit – sits astride the film like a colossal choking bolus, a sour, finger-pointing jeremiad that kills the hurtling action dead, and forces anyone who doesn’t worship the gospel of Green and its sackcloth truisms abruptly out of the story and into an eye-rolling frenzy.

If you’re looking for some kind of internal logic, give up now. Our loss of faith in the future and the technology that was supposed to take us there is the tragic condition that Bird and Lindelof make their film’s foundation. And yet the same technology that harvests energy and improves crop yields, enables travel at once-implausible speeds and makes cities denser yet healthier places to live than they ever were is the villain that robbed us of that future.

Ponder this message for a minute, and then wonder that no one who read Tomorrowland’s script ever drew a red line through Laurie’s big scene and said, “OK – right here. You’ve lost me.”

There is, to be sure, a great film – still unmade – about our loss of faith in a better world we imagined so fervently in the shadow of two world wars. But a new kind of faith – the gospel of Green and all of its logic-busting assumptions – has clouded reason and, almost like collateral damage, ruined what could have been a great little film about wonder and optimism and scientific inspiration.

At the Washington Post, Sonny Bunch adds that the filmmakers have met the enemy and he really is us. To paraphrase Bertolt Brecht’s legendary quote about socialism (see also, previous post on Bernie Sanders), Disney and their fellow Democrat stenographers with media bylines seem to think it would be easier to dissolve the audiences and elect another, after “‘Tomorrowland’s’ dour brand of optimism proves a hard sell:”

As is usually the case when something flops pretty hard, the Hollywood press is searching for answers. This time around, the wheel of blame landed on “audiences.” “As much as people claim they love fresh and unique movies, they’re more likely to shell out money for sequels and reboots,” writes Brent Lang at Variety.

* * * * * * * *

Allow me to suggest, though, that “Tomorrowland” had bigger problems than a recalcitrant audience. Moviegoers didn’t shy away from Clooney’s latest picture because it was an original property or because they were in search of “noisy thrills and dumb jokes” (of which “Tomorrowland” certainly had plenty). They avoided the film because Hollywood didn’t know how to sell its rather scolding message of spiritual uplift.

Lang hints at this problem. “Disney may have erred in keeping too many of its secrets close to the vest,” he writes. “Aside from a magical pin, Clooney as a crusty inventor and a few sequences of spaceships hurtling through what appeared to be a cornfield, it wasn’t always clear what the movie was about.”

After seeing the flick, one can understand why the Mouse House obscured the plot: “Tomorrowland” is less a kid-friendly action-adventure flick than a moralizing tale that demands we as a society shed our pessimism and embrace a more optimistic outlook — or die horribly.

There’s another issue at work, which John Nolte of Big Hollywood has written about for years: George Clooney is beloved in Hollywood because he’s a great looking guy and outspoken “old-time liberal and I don’t apologize for it,” as he once described himself in an interview. Which is why, other than his all-star Oceans 11 caper franchise, he’s not quite the surefire box office draw that Hollywood believes he is. There are some actors whose myriad personal quirks and idiosyncratic beliefs can be overlooked because audiences are reasonably assured that for their $10+ ticket and a similar amount for popcorn and a Diet Coke, they’ll likely receive a solid two hours of stuff gettin’ “blow’d up real good,” as legendary film critics Big Jim McBob and Billy Sol Hurok used to say. (I’m looking at you, Tom Cruise.) But with Clooney, the reverse is true, which is why he’s often a recipe for under-performance at the domestic box office.

But still isn’t that for the best, considering that the less movie theaters in operation, the less air conditioning being used, the less DVDs being sold (as enviro-obsessive James Cameron once told an interviewer while hawking his own DVDs!) and the less people attending the related theme park rides. Plus, smaller payoffs for the One Percent. Too bad in this case the One Percent turn out to be socialist Hollywood stars and executives, but hey, I’m sure for a price, Giorgio Armani’s Beverly Hills boutique can custom-tailor a fine hairshirt.

Bernie Sanders’s Dark Age Economics

May 28th, 2015 - 9:35 am

“Bernie Sanders, the Brooklyn socialist who represents Vermont in the Senate, generated a great deal of mirth on Tuesday when he wondered aloud how it is that a society with 23 kinds of deodorant and 18 kinds of sneakers* has hungry children,” Kevin D. Williamson writes at NRO:

Setting aside the fact that we must have hundreds of kinds of deodorant and thousands of choices of sneakers, Senator Sanders here communicates a double falsehood: The first falsehood is that the proliferation of choices in consumer goods is correlated with poverty, among children or anybody else, which is flatly at odds with practically all modern human experience. The reality is precisely the opposite: Poverty is worst where consumers have the fewest choices, e.g., in North Korea, the old Soviet Union, the socialist paradise that is modern Venezuela, etc. The second falsehood is that choice in consumer goods represents the loss of resources that might have gone to some other end — that if we had only one kind of sneaker, then there would be more food available for hungry children.

Lest you suspect that I am distorting the senator’s words, here they are:

You can’t just continue growth for the sake of growth in a world in which we are struggling with climate change and all kinds of environmental problems. All right? You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different pairs of sneakers when children are hungry in this country. I don’t think the media appreciates the kind of stress that ordinary Americans are working on.

This is a very old and thoroughly discredited idea, one that dates back to Karl Marx and to the anti-capitalists who preceded him. It is a facet of the belief that free markets are irrational, and that if reason could be imposed on markets — which is to say, if reason could be imposed on free human beings — then enlightened planners could ensure that resources are directed toward their best use. This line of thinking historically has led to concentration camps, gulags, firing squads, purges, and the like, for a few reasons: The first is that free markets are not irrational; they are a reflection of what people actually value at a particular time relative to the other things that they might also value. Real people simply want things that are different from what the planners want them to want, a predicament that can be solved only through violence and the threat of violence. That is the first reason that this sort of planning leads to gulags. The second is that there are no enlightened planners; men such as Senator Sanders imagine themselves to be candidates for enlightened leadership, but put a whip in his hand and the gentleman from Vermont will turn out to be another thug in the long line of thugs who have cleaved to his faith. The third reason that this sort of planning always works out poorly is that nobody knows what the best use of resources actually is; all that the would-be masters know is that they do not approve of the current deployment of resources.

Elsewhere in his introduction to Economics 101, a refresher that will of course go unread by the reprimitivized socialists who need it the most, Williamson writes:

Prices in markets are not arbitrary — they are reflections of how real people actually value certain goods and services in the real world. Arbitrarily changing the dollar numbers attached to those preferences does not change the underlying reality any more than trimming Cleveland off a map of the United States actually makes Cleveland disappear.

Real people simply want things that are different from what the planners want them to want, a predicament that can be solved only through violence and the threat of violence.

Dollars are just a method of keeping count, and mandating higher wages for work that has not changed at all is, in the long run, like measuring yourself in centimeters instead of inches in order to make yourself taller, or tracking your weight in kilograms instead of pounds as a means of losing weight. The gentlemen in Washington seem to genuinely believe that if they measure their penises in picas they’ll all be Jonah Falcon — in reality, their interns won’t notice any difference.

Heh. And that dovetails nicely with the Sanders’ own writing, circa 1972. If we’re going to look back at what presidential candidates said in high school or college (with the notable exception of BHO in 2008, of course), then this sounds like something that should be put into circulation as well:

In an article entitled “Men-And-Women,” published in an alternative newspaper called the “Vermont Freeman” Sanders shared his thoughts on male and female sexuality in ways that would cause a media firestorm if it had been penned by any current GOP candidate. Even one with as little chance at grabbing his party’s nomination as Sanders currently has.

“A man goes home and masturbates his typical fantasy,” wrote Sanders. “A woman on her knees. A woman tied up. A woman abused.”

Sanders didn’t specify as to how he had gained such a deep understanding of the male psyche.

In terms of his understanding of female sexual fantasies, Sanders provided similar insight.

“A woman enjoys intercourse with her man–as she fantasizes about being raped by 3 men simultaneously.”

It is unclear where Sanders acquired his early expertise on male and female sexual desires. But what is clear is that had Ted Cruz or Rick Santorum wrote something along these lines–even 40 years ago–the media wouldn’t stop talking about it for weeks.

But of course, like John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008 before him, Sanders enters the presidential field in the full knowledge that his fellow socialists with bylines will never question his past statements.

* No word yet what a key industry in Sanders’ constituency thinks of this notion.

Quote of the Day

May 25th, 2015 - 5:01 pm

“A generation is now growing old, which never had anything to say for itself except that it was young. It was the first progressive generation – the first generation that believed in progress and nothing else…. [They believed] simply that the new thing is always better than the old thing; that the young man is always right and the old wrong. And now that they are old men themselves, they have naturally nothing whatever to say or do. Their only business in life was to be the rising generation knocking at the door. Now that they have got into the house, and have been accorded the seat of honour by the hearth, they have completely forgotten why they wanted to come in. The aged younger generation never knew why it knocked at the door; and the truth is that it only knocked at the door because it was shut. It had nothing to say; it had no message; it had no convictions to impart to anybody…. The old generation of rebels was purely negative in its rebellion, and cannot give the new generation of rebels anything positive against which it should not rebel. It is not that the old man cannot convince young people that he is right; it is that he cannot even convince them that he is convinced. And he is not convinced; for he never had any conviction except that he was young, and that is not a conviction that strengthens with years.”

“85 Years Ago, Chesterton nailed the Boomers,” as quoted by Elizabeth Scalia at her Anchoress blog. Note the photo attached to her post.

Jack Shafer is often a very astute media critic, but ultimately, he’s a man of the left, which explains the howlers in this paragraph in an otherwise somewhat interesting piece on “What Liberals Still Don’t Understand About Fox News” at the Politico:

The Republican Party had been fielding “Foxy” presidential candidates for decades before the network’s 1996 launch, such as Barry Goldwater in 1964 and Richard Nixon in 1968 (Ailes, by the way, was his media consultant), which suggests that the network isn’t leading the right-wing parade but has only positioned itself at the front of the procession. Another Foxy candidate on the 1968 general election ballot was George Wallace, who collected 13.5 percent of the presidential vote as a third-party candidate. Wallace traversed the sort of outré political frontiers that have become Fox territory. His politics make the Tea Party’s look like a very weak brew. To suggest that Fox alone pushed the GOP in the direction of radicalism is to ignore the political history that followed: After wounding Gerald Ford in the 1976 presidential campaign, Reagan completed the reset of the GOP as an ideologically driven conservative party in 1980, and there it has largely remained.

Where to begin?

It’s difficult to think of two more ideologically diverse candidates than Barry Goldwater and Richard Nixon; Goldwater, smeared as a crypto-National Socialist by no less than Walter Cronkite in 1964, was in reality the first postwar conservative presidential candidate, and the most libertarian candidate since Calvin Coolidge. In sharp contrast, Richard Nixon governed domestically as an extension of LBJ’s Great Society; and inflicted the EPA, OSHA, Amtrak, and for a time, a disastrous freeze on wage and prices on America. In recent decades, leftists such as New York Timesmen Thomas Wicker and Paul Krugman, film critic Roger Ebert, and Mad Men producer Matthew Weiner have all expressed their grudging admiration for Nixon’s intrusive big government policies. George Wallace’s politics do indeed “make the Tea Party’s look like a very weak brew,” as no matter how many times the Politico, Salon and MSNBC insinuate, he wasn’t a Republican. And try as the Politico might, Nixon wasn’t a racist; building on Ike’s efforts, he campaigned on civil rights in 1960; Jackie Robinson supported him then, and black Americans as diverse as James Brown and Sammy Davis Jr. supported him in ’68 and ’72.

But Shafer is right — there’s much “Liberals Still Don’t Understand About Fox News” — which makes sense, as the above paragraph from Shafer illustrates, there’s so much 21st century “Liberals” get wrong about 20th century history in general.

One of These Things Is Not Like the Other

May 24th, 2015 - 11:02 pm

A $190 million summer blockbuster starring George Clooney based on an area in a Disney theme park hits theaters, presumably hoping to rake in at least that much at the box office. Its narrative goal, however: to get you to stop caring so much about the vapid capitalistic things that are ruining us all and instead maybe do something to make the world a better place.

“George Clooney’s Global Warming Shaming: George Clooney’s new summer blockbuster shames us for our roles in global warming and a potpourri of other earthly calamities,” The Daily Beast, today.

As the Insta-Professor likes to say, I’ll believe it’s a crisis when the people who tell me it’s a crisis start to act like it’s a crisis themselves. Since Clooney and Disney’s corporate management apparently believes that “global warming” and other “vapid capitalistic things are ruining us all,” but lack the conviction to eliminate their carbon footprints by shutting down down their theme parks and ceasing production of $190 million dollar movies, then the next best thing would be to shun their products until the corporation ceases “shaming” its customers. (Given the film’s poor ratings from both critics and audience members at Rotten Tomatoes.com, it sounds like there are far better ways to spend your time than watching Clooney’s hectoring new film.)

Oh, and given that Disney is ABC’s parent company, what say you, 105 million dollar Disney corporate spokesman George Stephanopoulos?

Quote of the Day

May 24th, 2015 - 8:09 pm

“People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.”

Absolutely true — even if George Orwell never wrote it directly. As to how the phrase became credited to the Prose Artist Formerly Known as Eric Blair, Quote Investigator has you covered.

obama_osama_mirror_5-24-15-1
Daniel Drezner has an amusing take in the Washington Post on “What we can really learn” from the contents of the library inside the compound where “Osama bin Laden, perpetual impoverished grad student” spent his last days before matriculating into Hell:

This is not the collection of an ordinary policy wonk. No, as I perused this mish-mash of conspiracy tomes, quasi-conspiracy tomes, radical texts, mainstream bestsellers, and the occasional hidden gem, it struck me as an off-kilter, but very familiar mix.

And that’s when it hit me: this is the precise collection of books you would find if you went to a used bookstore and bought out the entire international relations section.

Any former graduate student who trolled used bookstores in search of bargains while living off of a modest stipend in the days before Amazon.com knows what I’m talking about. The search for book bargains never ends for impoverished grad students. The problem is the kind of books that find their way into used bookstores. Seriously, if you were to go to Half-Price Books in Austin or Powell’s in Chicago’s south side or Capitol Hill Books, this is pretty much the assortment you would find: crazy conspiracy books, past bestsellers, random think tank monographs, and Noam Chomsky. Lots of Noam Chomsky.

Read the whole thing, which concludes with Drezner’s very funny imaginary set of shopping instructions from bin Laden to one of his henchmen.

I can’t be the only person who read Drezner’s column and thought of a similarly named (just ask the late Teddy Kennedy!) perpetual grad student. As Michael Ledeen wrote in his PJM column in 2010, like the late Osama, Obama “doesn’t much like America or Americans, or the ‘former colonial powers’ like Britain.” and “Like so many would-be intellectuals, he admires lefty writers and screenwriters and actors and actresses:”

He likes the downtrodden, like the Palestinians, but he’s overcome with awe for the occasional cool (non-Western) monarch or emperor (whether Arab or Chinese).  He probably has a Che tee shirt tucked away in a drawer, don’t you think?

He doesn’t know much history (he thinks Muslims invented printing), geography (his America has 57 states), or economics (he believes you can reduce health care costs by adding millions to the public rolls).

The most important thing to this president is how you feel and what you say, not all those annoying facts (50 states, the Chinese invented printing, and you increase deficits when you spend more).  And, like most students, when the debate goes badly for him, the president makes fun of his critics–when he actually lets them talk a little bit.  Remember when he hosted a few Republicans in the White House so he could listen to what they might say about health care…and then talked twice as much as they did?

As a typical undergrad, Obama loves to talk, and loves to talk about peace and justice.  You know, the really important things.  His new nuclear policy is right out of a college bull session:  “Why don’t we just promise not to use them?”  Nukes are bad, ugly things. Doesn’t everyone agree that the world would be better off without them?

Well,  grownups don’t necessarily agree.  It all depends how you get there, and what the others do along the way.  We do have real enemies, but our undergrad-president understands their ire and shares their pain.  It’s up to us to make things right.  And so he apologizes, worrying more about our nukes (about which he has done something) than Iran’s (we haven’t done a thing).

Finally, he doesn’t seem to realize what a mess he’s making.  And when he gets his grades, he blames the professors (we the people, in this case) for being unfair.

That’s the sort we’ve been graduating for a generation or more, isn’t it?  Did you really think we’d never get one as president?

It was only a matter of time before we’d be forced to suffer daily with Obama’s voice, which shares the exact timbre and frequency range as the stereotypical wah-wah’d trombone-style Peanuts cartoon teacher. Speaking of which, “The secret to the Obama annoyance is snotty lecturing,” P.J. O’Rourke added shortly after Michael’s article went online:

His tone of voice sends us back to the worst place in college. We sit once more packed into the vast, dreary confines of a freshman survey course—“Rocks for Jocks,” “Nuts and Sluts,” “Darkness at Noon.” At the lectern is a twerp of a grad student—the prototypical A student—insecure, overbearing, full of himself and contempt for his students. All we want is an easy three credits to fulfill a curriculum requirement in science, social science, or fine arts. We’ve got a mimeographed copy of last year’s final with multiple choice answers already written on our wrists. The grad student could skip his classes, the way we intend to, but there the s.o.b. is, taking attendance. (How else to explain this year’s census?)

America has made the mistake of letting the A student run things. It was A students who briefly took over the business world during the period of derivatives, credit swaps, and collateralized debt obligations. We’re still reeling from the effects. This is why good businessmen have always adhered to the maxim: “A students work for B students.” Or, as a businessman friend of mine put it, “B students work for C students—A students teach.”

It was a bunch of A students at the Defense Department who planned the syllabus for the Iraq war, and to hell with what happened to the Iraqi Class of ’03 after they’d graduated from Shock and Awe.

The U.S. tax code was written by A students. Every April 15 we have to pay somebody who got an A in accounting to keep ourselves from being sent to jail.

Now there’s health care reform—just the kind of thing that would earn an A on a term paper from that twerp of a grad student who teaches Econ 101.

Why are A students so hateful? I’m sure up at Harvard, over at the New York Times, and inside the White House they think we just envy their smarts. Maybe we are resentful clods gawking with bitter incomprehension at the intellectual magnificence of our betters. If so, why are our betters spending so much time nervously insisting that they’re smarter than Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement? They are. You can look it up (if you have a fancy education the way our betters do and know what the unabridged Oxford English Dictionary is). “Smart” has its root in the Old English word for being a pain. The adjective has eight other principal definitions ranging from “brisk” to “fashionable” to “neat.” Only two definitions indicate cleverness—smart as in “clever in talk” and smart as in “clever in looking after one’s own interests.” Don’t get smart with me.

The other objection to A students is what it takes to become one—toad-eating. A students must do what teachers and textbooks want and do it the way teachers and texts want it done. Neatness counts! A students are very busy.

Well, we can’t call Obama and “A” student, as he’s never revealed his grades. But how’s our perpetual grad student doing in his current gig? John Podhoretz isn’t giving him very good grades today, as “ISIS rises, the economy falters, and Obama’s legacy falls apart:”

So it will be up to his successors to bail him out in the eyes of history and make it appear as though his legacy wasn’t the nuclear destabilization of the Middle East!Speaking of legacies, how’s that key domestic-policy legacy going? Not so hot.

ObamaCare remains unpopular; far more Americans oppose than favor it.

People still remember the disaster of the October 2013 rollout, which still casts a shadow over the program today.

Those hard feelings were deepened last year by the discovery of a series of talks by key ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber in which he bragged that it had been falsely marketed to the American people to take advantage of their stupidity.

Its defenders say the program is beginning to work, in the sense that it’s covering more people — but it’s not covering as many as the administration said it would by this time.

They tout the fact that the cost of the program is lower than it was supposed to be by now.

But that’s an inconsistent claim; it’s only less expensive because it isn’t meeting its target numbers, not because cost savings have suddenly materialized from the ether.

Meanwhile, at some point over the next month, the entire policy may be thrown into terminal chaos when the Supreme Court issues its judgment in a case called King v. Burwell — which challenges the legality of a central component of ObamaCare.

As the Supreme Court debates and writes its opinions, the overall economy continues to sputter. Over the past five years, it grows and halts, grows and halts, in a somewhat mystifying pattern that has kept the American people on guard and on edge.

In the latest RealClearPolitics polling average, 62% say the country is on the wrong track — more than seven years after Obama moved into the White House.

Of course, that assumes that Obama means well, both in America and the Middle East. Obviously, he’s no OBL — but as Rudy Giuliani pointed out in February, much to consternation of Obama’s Democrat operatives with bylines, that doesn’t mean he unambiguously has the best interests of America at heart, either.

But then, don’t all perpetual grad students long to play socialist dictator and try reshaping her, one way or another?

Escaping the Shaming Spiral

May 23rd, 2015 - 7:48 pm

Chris Pratt, the actor starring in the upcoming Jurassic World, the umpteenth sequel to the venerable Steven Spielberg franchise has a novel approach for dealing with the Twitter mobs — he’s proffering a pre-outrage pre-apology for whatever he says during a press conference that will trigger the mob:

I want to make a heartfelt apology for whatever it is I end up accidentally saying during the forthcoming ‪#‎JurassicWorld‬ press tour. I hope you understand it was never my intention to offend anyone and I am truly sorry. I swear. I’m the nicest guy in the world. And I fully regret what I (accidentally will have) said in (the upcoming foreign and domestic) interview(s).

I am not in the business of making excuses. I am just dumb. Plain and simple. I try. I REALLY try! When I do (potentially) commit the offensive act for which I am now (pre) apologizing you must understand I (will likely have been) tired and exhausted when I (potentially) said that thing I (will have had) said that (will have had) crossed the line. Those rooms can get stuffy and the hardworking crews putting these junkets together need some entertainment! (Likely) that is who I was trying to crack up when I (will have had) made that tasteless and unprofessional comment. Trust me. I know you can’t say that anymore. In fact in my opinion it was never right to say the thing I definitely don’t want to but probably will have said. To those I (will have) offended please understand how truly sorry I already am. I am fully aware that the subject matter of my imminent forthcoming mistake, a blunder (possibly to be) dubbed “JurassicGate” is (most likely) in no way a laughing matter. To those I (will likely have had) offended rest assured I will do everything in my power to make sure this doesn’t happen (again).

Sonny Bunch of the Washington Free Beacon, who mocks the left’s highchair-banging outrage industry mindset by posing as a perpetually p.o.ed leftie at his Everything’s a Problem blog awards Pratt’s witty post with the maximum four problematics:

Oh, how cute. Chris Pratt thinks our outrage is something to be mocked. Chris Pratt thinks our hurt is something for you to play with. I cannot even with this. FFS. In some ways this is worse than Marvel’s Dude Bros acting all Dude Bro-y. Pratt’s implicit mockery of outrage culture for choosing to seize on any little dumb thing he might say is an incredibly marginalizing tool of oppression.

Apology NOT accepted. We’ve got our eye on you.

I give the transgression of making fun of outrage culture four problematics.

Heh. As Hans Fiene wrote last month at the Federalist, “We’re Addicted To Judgment Porn”; kudos to Pratt for simultaneously heading off the mob before they attack, and for subversively mocking their tactics.

In an article titled “The Shaming Spiral” in the new issue of Commentary, Christine Rosen reviews the recent book So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. From the various reviews I’ve read, it sounds like Ronson’s book is a flawed by still useful look at a rapidly growing trend, as torch-wielding Frankenstein mobs search the Web and especially Twitter for the latest outrage to burst their blood vessels over. This passage from Rosen’s article features sums up one way to fight back — to simply choose to avoid being outrageously outraged over the outrage!!!!! surrounding you, although the person featured is someone who sounds like a rather flawed messenger to deliver it:

Ronson’s most interesting case study is the story of Max Mosley, a British Formula One racing executive well known mostly because his parents were Sir Oswald Mosley, founder of the British Union of Fascists, and Diana Mitford, one of the dazzling Mitford sisters (Joseph Goebbels hosted the Mosley’s wedding, which Hitler attended). Having unrepentant Fascists for parents is difficult enough; but in 2008 the tabloid News of the World published grainy photos of Max Mosley engaged in what they called a “sick Nazi orgy” at an S&M dungeon in London.

Such a revelation might have spelled doom for someone else, but as Ronson notes, Mosley immediately went on BBC4 Radio and acknowledged that he had a kinky sex life (Princess Dolore would approve) and stated that he had done nothing wrong. “If our shameworthiness lies in the space between who we are and how we present ourselves to the world,” Ronson writes, “Max was narrowing that gap to nothing.” Mosley successfully sued the now-defunct News of the World for claiming his activities were Nazi-tinged when in fact they were not (the evening merely had a martial theme, he noted). Mosley told Ronson that he refused to feel ashamed by the exposure. “As soon as the victim steps out of the pact by refusing to feel ashamed,” he told Ronson, “the whole thing crumbles.”

In her review of Ronson’s book at Bloomberg, Megan McArdle writes that “Twitter makes it absurdly easy to shame someone:”

 You barely have to take 30 seconds out of your day to make an outraged comment that will please your friends and hurt the person you’ve targeted. This means it is also absurdly easy to attack someone unfairly, without pausing to think about context — or the effect you are having on another human being much like yourself. No matter what that person did, short of war crimes, you probably would not join a circle of thousands of people heaping abuse upon a lone target cowering in the center. But that is the real-world equivalent of what online shame-stormers do.

This sort of tactic may buy silence, though it is likely to be the most effective on people who already agree with you and simply said something infelicitous. What it cannot buy is community, beyond the bonds that build between people who are joined in collective hate. With the exception of Lehrer — who clearly realized he’d done something wrong without needing to be told — the people whom Ronson interviews do not think that they were the victims of perhaps excessively harsh justice; they think they were victims of abuse. They often recognize that they did something stupid, but they don’t think they deserved to be fired after having their lives dissected and their character impugned by thousands of people who had never even met them.

And perhaps this satisfies the shame-stormers; they may want to change hearts and minds but be willing to settle for silence. This sort of shaming has costs, however. If you haven’t changed someone’s mind, you haven’t changed their behavior, only what they say. If they do harbor the bad beliefs you accused them of, those beliefs are now festering in private rather than being open to persuasion. And you haven’t even necessarily changed what they say in a good direction, because people who are afraid of unjust attacks aren’t afraid of being punished for saying things they know they ought to be ashamed of, but of being punished for saying something they didn’t know would attract this kind of ire. So they’re afraid to say anything at all, or at least anything more interesting than “Woo, puppies!” That’s not norm enforcement; it’s blanket terror.

But it helps, as Marc Fitch noted last month at the Federalist, to return a sense of proportion by placing the angry mob to scale:

It is often quite easy to feel that you are greatly outnumbered and that the entire world is against you, particularly if you have the gall to air your beliefs in the public realm (or be caught in it, in this situation). Social media can seemingly explode with anger at your mention of a political or cultural position that goes against whatever the Video Music Awards are advocating this year. You are beset by Legion.

But are you, really? Two thousand people is a drop in the bucket of the overall population, but when they all turn and look at you it can feel overwhelming. While outrage is nothing new in cultural or political fights, the Internet’s ability to allow individuals to reach people they have never met or places they have never been perpetrates an illusion. Memories Pizza was deluged with one-star ratings by people who had never been to the establishment or sampled its pizza.

It was recently revealed that nearly 70 percent of the criticism lobbed at Rush Limbaugh (which is ample) comes from a small group of activists that have devoted their lives to attempting to make his miserable. However, to view coverage of Limbaugh in television and Internet media, you would think that the entire country is listening and vastly offended at everything he says. You would see and hear what appear to be great swaths of civilization amassing against this radio host. But this is an illusion born of spirit, not of substance, and it is meant to influence the spirit of others. It is necessary to separate the corporeal reality from the illusory zeitgeist.

Few people have time to be so incensed, and those that do should not drive culture. Their offense is an illusion. Their feelings may matter to them, but need not drive discussions and certainly shouldn’t attain such grandiose proportions. Ideas can be debated and talked through, and individuals who maintain a decorum of objective detachment can often find common ground. But fight with a spirit, with irrational rage, and there is no way to find commonality.

The anonymity of the Internet allows this illusion to truly reach its greatest power as a single individual can assume any number of Internet personas that can spew any amount of nonsense and vitriol with no accountability or personal reflection whatsoever. The pseudo-anger and the Internet’s ability to instantaneously connect users can often give the impression of widespread outrage, when really hardly anyone has noticed.

The first time one encounters the Internet outrage mob, the pressure can feel overwhelming. But when the virtual mob is perpetual, such tactics begin to lose their force. Perhaps Pratt’s deft preemptive strike is another sign that the power of the outrage mob is hopefully, becoming diluted.

(Unless you’re a business owner with a physical storefront, alas.)

Punk Meets the Godfather

May 23rd, 2015 - 1:36 pm

The Hollywood Reporter has a fun look back at the “Starship,” a Boeing 707 that was converted into the rock superstar transport of the 1970s. Led Zeppelin originally chartered the plane to allow the band to stay in one hotel while touring various American regions, and as a potent PR tool when journalists were brought aboard to interview the band. The article’s headline derives from Robert Plant’s most memorable experience onboard the plane: ”Oral sex during turbulence.” And once Led Zeppelin started the trend, numerous other bands began hiring the Starship, given its usefulness as a status marker, as Peter Frampton tells the magazine:

“It was definitely a show of where you were in your career,” says the now-65-year-old Frampton, whose management leased the plane ­during his white-hot superstardom touring behind the ­unstoppable Frampton Comes Alive! “It was a statement of how well you were doing. ‘Whoopee! We must be big — we’ve got the Starship!’ ”

Led Zeppelin was the first to lease the plane, in 1973, after a white-knuckle flight from Oakland, Calif., to Los Angeles in a tiny Falcon 20 business jet terrorized the entourage. At the time, Led Zeppelin suffered from almost surreally bad press — Rolling Stone suggested the band change its name to Limp Blimp — and it was thought that the Starship might earn the group some respect. “It was an extremely useful tool because inviting a journalist onto the plane, the story kind of wrote itself,” says Danny Goldberg, Led Zeppelin’s publicist for the tour, who had been hired to gin up positive ­coverage. “The novelty value was significant.”

Zeppelin became indelibly associated with the Starship when the band posed with the plane in Bob Gruen’s iconic 1973 portrait. The picture, Gruen tells Billboard, “sums up the excess and decadence of the ’70s, the fact that here are these guys — they don’t even have to button their shirts — and they have their own plane.” The photo has been a touchstone for rock ‘n’ roll aspirants ever since. “[Keyboardist] Dave Bryan of Bon Jovi and many other musicians told me that when they saw that picture, that’s what they wanted,” says Gruen.

However, in England, a rebellion was brewing against such mid-’70s excesses of the American music market at its peak. If the Starship was the flying equivalent of the Palace of Versailles,  then as Pete Townshend of The Who once told an an interviewer about punk rock in England,  “It really was like the French Revolution. It could have ended up with the Beatles, the Stones and the Who being beheaded.”

Punk never established a serious foothold in America, but it was useful for NBC for attempting to scare the hell out of its viewers:

To understand how bifurcated NBC was becoming in the 1970s, that clip aired in 1977 on a magazine-styled news show called Weekend that, if I’m remembering correctly, aired every fourth Saturday night, to give the cast and crew of Saturday Night Live a breather. Within just two years, SNL would begin airing punk rock’s more musical brethren in the New Wave genre such as Elvis Costello, Gary Numan, Blondie, and after Lorne Michaels left the show for several years in the early 1980s, full-fledged punk bands such as The Clash and the L.A.-based punk rock band Fear, fronted by musicians with tasteful stage names such as Lee Ving, Derf Scratch, and Spit Stix.

The NBC Weekend Show was hosted by the avuncular Lloyd Dobyns, and its theme song was (no joke), the opening chords of the Rolling Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash.” (As one of three people in the country who watched the show, I remember this well.)

As Wikipedia notes, in 1978, Weekend was moved to 10:00 PM every Saturday night, and “Linda Ellerbee was added as Dobyns’ co-host and co-lead reporter. Placed against strong programs on ABC and CBS, the show eventually died of poor ratings. A few years later, Ellerbee and Dobyns reunited to anchor another late-night NBC news program, NBC News Overnight.”

A show to which James Lileks was one of its three viewers. Which is why, as he noted a few years ago, to get their revenge against crazed programming chief Fred Silverman, the following clip was circulated internally at the network in the early 1980s:

As Lileks adds, when Silverman discovered the above clip after Don Imus played it on his radio show, “You suspect everyone was fired. Everyone.”