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Ed Driscoll

GE: We Bring Bad Karma to Life

April 24th, 2014 - 11:56 am

“General Electric to investors: Obamacare is hurting our medical business,” Patrick Howley writes at the Daily Caller:

General Electric is telling its investors that Obamacare is to blame for recent losses in the company’s health care division, The Daily Caller has learned.

“Hospitals and clinics appear to be delaying purchases and responses to the ACA [Affordable Care Act],” stated GE senior vice president and CFO Jeffrey S. Bornstein in the company’s first-quarter earnings call.

General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, an outside economic adviser to President Obama, confirmed at a shareholder meeting Wednesday that the health sector is experiencing uncertainty.

Asked at the meeting about Obamacare’s impact on the company’s earnings, Immelt responded, “I think there’s still a lot of uncertainty in health care and we’ll just have to see that over time.”

But what’s causing the uncertainty? Not knowing from day to day what the “law” will be it comes to Obamacare — because the “law” is whatever Barry says it is that day. But who went all in from 2009 until it divested itself of its television division last year to promote Obamacare? Why…GE, which co-owned NBC, CNBC, and MSNBC, the latter of which went out of its way — and is still going out of its way — to smear any opponent of Obamcare as racist. Including this classic disaster from 2009:

On Tuesday, MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer fretted over health care reform protesters legally carrying guns: “A man at a pro-health care reform rally…wore a semiautomatic assault rifle on his shoulder and a pistol on his hip….there are questions about whether this has racial overtones….white people showing up with guns.” Brewer failed to mention the man she described was black.

Following Brewer’s report, which occurred on the Morning Meeting program, host Dylan Ratigan and MSNBC pop culture analyst Toure discussed the supposed racism involved in the protests. Toure argued: “…there is tremendous anger in this country about government, the way government seems to be taking over the country, anger about a black person being president….we see these hate groups rising up and this is definitely part of that.” Ratigan agreed: “…then they get the variable of a black president on top of all these other things and that’s the move – the cherry on top, if you will, to the accumulated frustration for folks.”

Not only did Brewer, Ratigan, and Toure fail to point out the fact that the gun-toting protester that sparked the discussion was black, but the video footage shown of that protester was so edited, that it was impossible to see that he was black. The man appeared at a health care rally outside of President Obama’s speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix, Arizona.

Last year, GE, employing the voice and face of actor Hugo Weaving, reprising his role as Agent Smith from the 1999 film The Matrix, was comparing its healthcare division in advertisements to the all-seeing electronic agents who guard the otherwise inescapable cybernetic Matrix, which has entombed mankind. As I wrote at the time, “No, That’s Not Creepy At All” for GE to build a TV commercial around this theme:

I know Agent Smith is a beloved baddie, much like Darth Vader from the Star Wars movies; as James Lileks once quipped, Smith, as portrayed by Weaving, is akin to the characters portrayed by Tony Roberts in Woody Allen’s earlier, funnier movies such as Annie Hall and Play it Again, Sam — the only non-neurotic in the film; the only character having any fun. But given how deeply GE is plugged into the Obama Gleichschaltung, that’s quite an…interesting choice for GE’s healthcare spokesman.

Beginning around 2007, strange messages started emerging from GE and the television networks it owned at the time. First GE, which makes it’s money selling, among other things, light bulbs, told us that we all needed to turn ours off, for the good of the planet. The following year, the large conglomerate got deeply into bed with first candidate and then President Obama; NBC and (particularly) MSNBC are essentially a de facto propaganda wing of the administration, to the point where the White House has emailed in “corrections,” which were read on the air by the latter network.

At the beginning of the Obama administration, GE CEO Jeff Immelt was appointed to the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, presumably helping to see the administration’s now annual “Recovery Summer” debacle, leading near monthly “unexpected” bad economic news.

Patrick Howley of the Daily Caller noted above that when asked at the shareholder meeting “about Obamacare’s impact on the company’s earnings, Immelt responded, ‘I think there’s still a lot of uncertainty in health care and we’ll just have to see that over time.’”

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

“Hamburgers are the Hummers of Food in Global Warming: Scientists.”

—Headline at far left Common Dreams.org linking to an article by (often as far left) Agence France Presse wire service, February 16, 2009.

“Multi-million dollar global warming disaster epic ‘Years of Living Dangerously’ beaten in TV ratings by ‘Bob’s Burgers’ reruns.”

—Headline at Anthony Watts’ Watts Up With That enviro-blog Tuesday, who adds that based on the ratings numbers, “Even this blog reached more people on Sunday…typically one of our slowest days.”

Speaking of hamburgers and global warming (and the lack thereof), I wonder if Harrison Ford headed off in his private plane for yet another cheeseburger run, after filming his segment for the sandwich-board-style doomsday crankery of the Showtime series?

(Via SDA.)

Gauntlet Thrown—and Caught

April 23rd, 2014 - 7:26 pm

“Republicans should be winning by acclimation for every position from dog catcher to president,” Roger L. Simon writes today in his PJM column:

But they’re  not.  And you don’t need Strother Martin to tell you why – it’s a failure to communicate.

And that’s not just the so-called establishment or the so-called Tea Party — it’s both.  Both are doing an atrocious job of taking their message to the people. The establishment remains super cautious, equivocating and boring while the Tea Party walks around pretending as if wearing a three-cornered hat and waving the Constitution (great as it is) is going to impress a culture the vast number of whom (incorrectly!) associate that Constitution with geriatric white slave holders in jodhpurs.  Also, you have to be at least as sophisticated as your high school sons and daughters.  We do live in 2014. (If you’re not, what you get is a clueless Sharron Angle losing to that hideous mafioso Harry Reid.)

Rather than dealing with these realities, both sides — establishment and Tea Party — spend their time aiming fusillades at each other. How infantile and suicidal.

Yes, the media and Hollywood and the academy are against us and millions of Americans are on the dole (therefore bought)… blablabla.  But the facts remain — at public relations, the right sucks.  The proof is, again, that on almost every issue — with the possible exception of same-sex marriage, and in that instance the GOP libertarian wing is an asset — the right has not just the upper hand, but the wildly superior upper hand with the public.  Liberal ideology is not only dead, it’s decomposed.  Nevertheless, even though Republicans have a good possibility with the Senate (they should have every seat), Hillary seems poised for the White House.

Time to wake up, n’est-ce pas?  But how to do it?

Exactly like this:

“The first goal of every novice candidate is to make an impression on voters,” Allahpundit writes at Hot Air. Watch this spot from Monica Wehby, via the Examiner, and tell me how she did:”

She’s running uphill as a Republican in Oregon but she’s got a few things working for her. One: It’s hard to follow ye olde “war on women” playbook against a candidate like this, especially after watching this ad. Two: Wehby’s a centrist on some issues, including abortion, which might help her play better in a blue state. Three: Her first ad (which you’ll also find below) was a critique of ObamaCare, which sounds risky in a Democratic stronghold until you remember that Oregon’s O-Care exchange was a flaming bag of shinola even more so than Healthcare.gov was. If there’s any state in the country where centrist Democrats might be willing to cast a protest vote against ObamaCare — especially for a doctor — it’s Oregon.

For the right candidate, that’s an absolutely brilliant template for an ad. More — and faster, please.

Jonathan Chait Redlines the Orwell Meter

April 23rd, 2014 - 4:12 pm

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“Behold the Democratic Future, Boasts Jonathan Chait, Because Suspicion of Government Is Racist,” as spotted by J.D. Tuccille at Reason’s Hit & Run blog, whose post begins with a brilliant lede:

Over at New York Magazine, which today suffered a website crash that temporarily lowered Internet smug levels by a measurable degree, Jonathan Chait makes the bold claim that the Democratic Party is entering a period of dominance. His argument is partially rooted in favorable ethnic and generational trends that have much to do with the relative skills of the two major parties in enticing new voters—something that can confer a very real, but hardly permanent advantage. But Chait also proclaims victory for the donkey party because, he says, “America’s unique brand of ideological anti-statism is historically inseparable…from the legacy of slavery,” and who wants anything to do with that?

So Freedom is Slavery…? As a famous Indiana lineman once said, “Dammit! I know this. I know what this is! This means something. This is important!”

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A reminder that while George Orwell didn’t intend for 1984 to become a how-to guide, it’s book-within-a-book, Emmanuel Goldstein’s Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism, really wasn’t meant to be a how-to guide. Even in New Oceania, err New York.

The Passing Parade Grows Larger

April 23rd, 2014 - 2:20 pm

Ezra Levant of Canada’s Sun News calls it “a riveting collection of stories chronicling the lives of the men and women who helped shape the 20th century,” and he’s right. For a perfect snapshot of what life was like among the overculture – in the media, in pop culture, and in politics in the last and first decade of the new and old millennium, simply read the profiles Steyn has crafted for his Passing Parade. The book is an anthology of his obits, written for National Review, the Spectator (both its UK and American incarnations), the London Telegraph, and until 2007, a monthly staple of the Atlantic. That the Atlantic traded Steyn for a multi-year dalliance with leftwing former Brit Andrew Sullivan is a classic example of ideologically-driven managerial incompetence. The following year, Excitable Andrew assumed the role of America’s Foremost Uterine Detective, and the Atlantic, even after Sullivan left in 2011 for first the Daily Beast and then (at the moment at least) a solo career last year, seemed doomed to live out the epic 86-year old curse of the Boston Red Sox after they discarded Babe Ruth in 1919.

And at the moment, not even Xenu can save them.

For everyone else, check out Mark Steyn’s Passing Parade, finally on Kindle, and updated with numerous obits added since its initial publication in 2006 on dead tree, ranging from Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II and Eugene McCarthy, to Bob Hope and Alistair Cooke, to Evel Knievel and Tupac Shakur. (The last pair are joined by the leitmotif of Mark quoting the lyrics of Wayne Newton’s “Danke Schoen.” Coincidence? You be the judge!)

NBC’s Cognitive Dissonant Hack Syndrome

April 23rd, 2014 - 12:19 pm

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NBC’s David Gregory and his anemic ratings were recently analyzed by, depending upon who you ask, either a “brand consultant” or a “psychological consultant.” Either way, the network paid a hefty fee for a consultant to explain to them what the rest of the country long ago figured out for free: “The first answer is: David Gregory is a phony. The second answer is: He’s a jerk,” Michelle Malkin, who in her salad days served as an intern for the late Tim Russert, writes at Townhall. “And no amount of brand therapy and rehabilitation consulting can fix him:”

Gregory is the anti-Russert. His boorish behavior around D.C. is legendary — from his juvenile tantrums with the Bush press staff to his drunken radio appearances to his diva snit fits with innocent bystanders while filming news segments. One of the most telling and notorious anecdotes involves Russert himself, who reportedly reprimanded Gregory in 2008 for going ballistic on a poor waitress while the two TV stars dined at a D.C. restaurant. But “Gregory still treats most of … the newsroom like s**t,” an insider told the website Jossip. “Amazing how NBC cares more about food servers than about the people who have to deal with Gregory’s arrogance every day.”

Since Gregory doesn’t have the intellectual heft to carry in-depth interview segments the way Russert did, “Meet the Press” producers have reduced substantive exchanges to a few minutes and larded the rest of the show with fluff and stunts.

That means: If it’s Sunday, it’s “Meet the Jerk.”

Last fall, Gregory the gun-control activist masquerading as a Sunday talk-show journalist made headlines with his brazen hectoring of NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre — while illegally brandishing a 30-round ammunition magazine on national television. He has used the show to fawn over vulgar, misogynistic “comedian” Bill Maher and to repeatedly browbeat Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, over gay marriage.

As I’ve noted many times over 20-plus years in this business, the problem isn’t bias. It’s the pretense of non-bias. Gregory and his peers suffer from cognitive dissonant hack syndrome, a common affliction among incurable left-wing journalists who sanctimoniously pay lip service every day to neutrality and objectivity, while brazenly using their platforms to promote partisan political narratives.

Meanwhile, Dylan Byers of Politico, whose worldview is certainly similar to Gregory’s, attempts to explain “The death of the Sunday shows:”

“There was a time when everything would stop on Friday afternoon and Cabinet members and senators would gather around a table and say, ‘Who are we putting out on Sunday?’” one former Democratic White House official said. “Now if you want to make news, you can tweet it, or you can call any number of outlets.”

The options for influencing the news today are numerous: A politician can go on cable news, give a newspaper interview, stop by talk radio, hold a press conference or simply send out a tweet. And he or she can do any of those things on a Tuesday night or a Friday afternoon. The news will invariably percolate up the media chain — from the Twitter-chattering press corps to the front pages of leading news sites — and become fodder for next Sunday’s roundtables.

CBS shoving Dan Rather out the door after RatherGate, the retirement of NBC’s Tom Brokaw, the death of ABC’s Peter Jennings, andmeant the end of nightly network broadcasts as an influence, except for those viewers who can’t find the remote control and are still asking themselves, as Bryant Gumbel famously muttered on the Today Show in 1994, “What is Internet, anyway?” The Sunday political talk shows have reached a similarly exhausted state. It’s time for the dinosaur networks to let them go off into the ether.

Will they? Probably not. Unlike their audiences, old network formats never die off. In 2002, PBS’s Ken Bode predicted the clock was ticking on the nightly news shows:

As Ken Bode tells [Howard] Kurtz: “When Brokaw, Jennings and Rather retire” — and Brokaw at 62 is the youngest of the three — “it is a perfect time for these corporations to decide their newscasts are no longer worth it. Unless something dramatic happens, inevitably, the network newscasts are gone.” With news available at all hours on the all news channels and the Internet, the evening news isn’t what it used to be, particularly since younger viewers didn’t grow up with the 6:30 evening news-watching habit of the pre-cable viewers.

Besides, there’s now a view that the deities who anchor the news are irreplaceable. Such is their (inflated) stature, who could possibly fill their shoes? “I can’t see anyone out there who could even approach Peter’s stature,” an ABC producer told Kurtz. In time, each will be consigned to his own mausoleum.

Brokaw, Rather and Jennings are all gone, but the nightly news shows trundle on, even though their collective viewership is a shell of their pre-Internet and pre-cable numbers. Expect the Sunday morning chat shows to similarly trundle on, jerk hosts and low ratings not withstanding. As we’ve mentioned before, the big three networks and CNN have become closed circuit TV for the ruling class. Building an audience outside the beltway, or looking for an innovative replacement doesn’t enter into the networks’ equation.

2016: A Juxtaposition Odyssey

April 23rd, 2014 - 11:08 am

 

In 2008, much of the far left mocked John McCain’s age to further contrast the veteran senator against his youthful and inexperienced competitor in the presidential race. Those same pundits have already declared Hillary’s age — she’ll be only a year younger in 2016 than McCain was in 2008 — off limits. Their tut-tutting is already producing some fun juxtapositions, illustrated by the example above, as spotted by Twitchy, which also has a nice juxtaposition from Slate juiceboxer Matt Yglesias. Is he lying then, or is he lying now? Well, let’s ask him:

yglesias_sophistry_8-10

So let’s review: In 2004, the cry was that we must have an experienced veteran Navy man, who by the way, served in Vietnam in the White House, which is why we must vote for John Kerry over George W. Bush. In 2008, John McCain was too old, and who knows what his time in Vietnam did to his cerebellum — ex-military guys are bonkers, you know. Plus he’s old, really old. So old, he can’t send an email, as an Obama attack ad in the fall of 2008 pointed out:

(more…)

Curmudgeon v. Thought Police

April 22nd, 2014 - 8:03 pm

Charles Murray pens “An open letter to the students of Azusa Pacific University” at the American Enterprise Institute Website:

I was scheduled to speak to you tomorrow. I was going to talk about my new book, “The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead,” and was looking forward to it. But it has been “postponed.” Why? An email from your president, Jon Wallace, to my employer, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said “Given the lateness of the semester and the full record of Dr. Murray’s scholarship, I realized we needed more time to prepare for a visit and postponed Wednesday’s conversation.” This, about an appearance that has been planned for months. I also understand from another faculty member that he and the provost were afraid of “hurting our faculty and students of color.”

You’re at college, right? Being at college is supposed to mean thinking for yourselves, right? Okay, then do it. Don’t be satisfied with links to websites that specialize in libeling people. Lose the secondary sources. Explore for yourself the “full range” of my scholarship and find out what it is that I’ve written or said that would hurt your faculty or students of color. It’s not hard. In fact, you can do it without moving from your chair if you’re in front of your computer.

You don’t have to buy my books. Instead, go to my web page at AEI. There you will find the full texts of dozens of articles I’ve written for the last quarter-century. Browse through them. Will you find anything that is controversial? That people disagree with? Yes, because (hang on to your hats) scholarship usually means writing about things on which people disagree.

Read the rest at the AEI Institute’s Website. As it happens, I interviewed Murray today regarding The Curmudgeon’s Guide, which I loved; and having read his open letter this morning, I asked him about being censored by Azusa Pacific. Here’s a quick transcription of that portion of the interview:

DRISCOLL: As I was prepping for this interview, I came across your “open letter to the students of Azusa Pacific University.” Could you discuss what happened there?

MURRAY: I was going to go speak to them tomorrow; actually going to being talking about Curmudgeon’s Guide. This has been in my calendar for a couple of months, and I have discovered as of yesterday afternoon, that they have decided my appearance should be “postponed,” on account of needing more time to for a “review” of my “full scholarship.”

Well.

The Thought Police have struck again. So I decided that I would vent a little bit regarding that. So I did an open letter that I posted on AEI’s Ideas Page, it’s blog. I had a lot of fun writing it, by the way.

DRISCOLL: Do you think that “postponement” is a euphemism for cancelled?

MURRAY: [Laughs.] Yeah. It is definitely is, and I will also say that they may think that they’ve postponed it, but I certainly don’t look at it that way. I think that the administration behaved in that kind of way which most irritates me.

Ed, the degree of cowardice, just plain, simple cowardice in academia is unbelievable.

Look for the rest of my interview with Charles Murray in about a week or so with audio and transcript. In the meantime, the incident he describes dovetails perfectly with Glenn Reynolds’ latest USA Today column, titled, “Toss out abusive college administrators:”

Like most professors, I hate doing administrative work. And since somebody has to do it, universities have increasingly built up a corps of full-time administrators. That’s fine, but lately, the administrative class has grown too numerous and too heavy-handed. As colleges and universities increasingly face financial pressures, it’s time to rethink.

Full-time administrators now outnumber full-time faculty. And when times get tough, schools have a disturbing tendency to shrink faculty numbers while keeping administrators on the payroll. Teaching gets done by low-paid, nontenured adjuncts, but nobody ever heard of an “adjunct administrator.”

But it’s not just the fat that is worrisome. It’s administrators’ obsession with — and all too often, abuse of — security that raises serious concerns. At the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, Clyde W. Barrow, a leading professor, has just quit, complaining of an administration that isolates itself from students and faculty behind keypads and security doors.

Read the whole thing, to coin an Insta-phrase.

Earlier: Punks, Meet the Godfather.

And Speaking of Surveys…

April 22nd, 2014 - 5:30 pm

A fan of the site who is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Political Science at Stony Brook University emailed asking for some help from our readers:

My colleagues and I are conducting a national survey and I was hoping that you would be interested in helping us.  The survey we are conducting is interested in how people’s personal characteristics and beliefs shape their understanding of other people and American society. Conservatives tend to be underrepresented in surveys, their opinions aren’t heard as a result and we don’t get an accurate picture of what Americans think about their society.

The survey takes roughly 15-20 minutes to complete. All survey responses will be completely confidential, and all identifying information will be stripped by the survey collection software.

The authors at BrothersJudd recently helped us out, and I was hoping you could do the same by posting the link to this survey on your site and encourage your readers to participate. I would be more than happy to send you (or any of your readers who are interested) the results of the data our team collects. If you have any reservations, I encourage you to take the survey yourself before posting it to your blog. I think you will find that it is interesting as well as quick and easy to complete.

Previous versions of this survey have been posted on a few liberal and conservative blogs and based on the feedback, readers have really seemed to enjoy taking it.  However, we desperately need conservative responses to the survey, as liberal responses currently outnumber conservatives about 2 to 1.

I would ask that you please discourage your readers from discussing the study until it’s over as it could bias other people’s results if they take the study after hearing about it from someone else (disabling the comments section would be ideal).

Thanks for your time!

Here’s the link to the survey; have fun.

“Over the past decade, Americans have clustered into three broad groups on global warming. The largest, currently describing 39% of U.S. adults, are what can be termed ‘Concerned Believers’ — those who attribute global warming to human actions and are worried about it. This is followed by the ‘Mixed Middle,’ at 36%. And one in four Americans — the ‘Cool Skeptics’ — are not worried about global warming much or at all,” Gallup reports.

Isn’t everyone skeptical of global warming? Barry and Kerry can’t take it too seriously when they’re jetting everywhere on Boeing 747s, and Al Gore declared the movement over when he sold out to Big Oil-fueled Qatar. The EPA can’t take it too seriously, since they’re similarly jetting their staffers all around the country. NBC can’t take it too seriously, since they pay to run NASCAR races. CBS can’t take it too seriously, since they run shows devoted to the joys of high-carbon ’60s muscle cars. ABC can’t take it too seriously: parent company Disney makes its money in non-essential amusement parks and the merchandising of oil-based polystyrene toys. (Not the least of which are oil-based polystyrene toys devoted to the joys of oil-based high carbon vehicles.) Sister channel ESPN regularly devotes coverage to NASCAR and other high-carbon leisure time activities. Hollywood can’t take it too seriously because they haven’t ended their industry to help save the planet. (Not to mention the grossly hypocritical lifestyle of the wealthiest celebrities who feign an eco-obsession to assuage their guilt.) Time-Warner-CNN-HBO can’t worried much about global warming at all, if they send Kate Upton up in a jet aircraft — the “Vomit Comet,” as NASA calls it — just to take a few photos of her in zero-gravity.

To paraphrase the Insta-professor, more people might take the rantings of radical environmentalists more seriously, if the people who preach radical environmentalism first lived the lifestyle they espouse for the rest of us. Otherwise, it’s pretty obvious that their goal is to further what James Delingpole of Ricochet and Breitbart UK, whom I recently interviewed, dubs “The Drawbridge Effect.” Leftwing wealthy elitists have theirs; they want to dramatically reduce the odds that anyone else will succeed on a similar level. Or as Daniel Shuchman of the Wall Street Journal notes in his review of Thomas Piketty’s Marxist update, “An 80% tax rate on incomes above $500,000 is not meant to bring in money for education or benefits, but ‘to put an end to such incomes.’”

Elites’ Sacrificial Victims

April 22nd, 2014 - 3:32 pm

Victor Davis Hanson writes, “When your goal is to save the planet, you can’t worry about who may get hurt:”

Why do our well-meaning elites so often worry about humanity in the abstract rather than the real effects of their cosmic ideologies on the majority? The dream of universal health coverage trumped the nightmare of millions of lives disrupted by the implementation of it. Noble lies, with emphatics like “Period!” were necessary to sell something that would hurt precisely those who were told that this was going to be good for them. A myriad of green mandates has led to California’s having the highest-priced gasoline and electricity in the continental United States, a fact that delights utopians in San Francisco and in the long run might help the rest of us, but right now ensures that the poor of the state’s vast, hot interior can scarcely afford to cool their homes or drive to work. Fresno on August 1, after all, is a bit warmer than Berkeley or Menlo Park.

In a word, liberal ideology so often proves more important than people. Noble theories about saving humanity offer exemption from worry about the immediate consequences for individual humans. In a personal sense, those who embrace progressive ideas expect to be excused from the ramifications of their schemes. For the elite who send their kids to prep schools and private academies, public charter schools for the poor are bad, given that they undermine the dream of progressive, union-run education that has turned into a nightmare for those forced to enroll in it.

The notion that elites, well-meaning or otherwise, “worry about humanity in the abstract rather than the real effects of their cosmic ideologies on the majority,” certainly isn’t a new one. In November of 2009 at the New Criterion, Anthony Daniels (aka Theodore Dalrymple) explored “The costs of abstraction — On the intellectual irresponsibility of Soviet sympathizers:”

In a desultory kind of way, I have collected, over the years, many books about the Soviet Union published in Britain, France, and America during the 1920s and 1930s. They are not by any means overwhelmingly pro-Soviet, with titles such as Soviet Russia Fights Crime, The Protection of Women and Children in the Soviet Union, and Soviet Russia Fights Neurosis (in which, published at the height of the famine, are found the immortal words, “The greatest and most far-reaching values of the Soviet dictatorship are psychological and spiritual”); on the contrary, many of these books give the most compelling evidence of all the horrors of the Soviet Union, all of them now attested and accepted as being true.

My little collection has led me to the conclusion that the Soviet Union was valued by contemporary intellectuals not for the omelette, but for the broken eggs. They thought that if nothing great could be built without sacrifice, then so great a sacrifice must be building something great. The Soviets had the courage of their abstractions, which are often so much more important to intellectuals than living, breathing human beings.

Leftwing ideology and a love of abstractionism caused intellectual elites to look the other way at the eggs being broken in the Soviet Union. (Other than Orwell, who famously asked, “But where is the Omelette?”) No wonder they can avert their eyes so easily to the slow-motion rolling disaster of Obamacare.

Or heck, the original sin of today’s eco-holiday:

Related: If you haven’t read it yet, don’t miss Victor Davis Hanson’s PJM column yesterday on “Cliven Bundy and The Rural Way,” with an assist from VDH’s rough-hewn grandfather, and his horse named — of course — Paint.

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Or, Two NBCs in One!

The connection between slavery and fossil fuels, however, is more than metaphorical. Before the widespread use of fossil fuels, slaves were one of the main sources of energy (if not the main source) for societies stretching back millennia. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, nearly all energy to power societies flowed from the natural ecological cascade of sun and food: the farmhands in the fields, the animals under saddle, the burning of wood or grinding of a mill. A life of ceaseless exertion.

Let me pause here once again to be clear about what the point of this extended historical comparison is and is not. Comparisons to slavery are generally considered rhetorically out of bounds, and for good reason. We are walking on treacherous terrain. The point here is not to associate modern fossil fuel companies with the moral bankruptcy of the slaveholders of yore, or the politicians who defended slavery with those who defend fossil fuels today.

In fact, the parallel I want to highlight is between the opponents of slavery and the opponents of fossil fuels. Because the abolitionists were ultimately successful, it’s all too easy to lose sight of just how radical their demand was at the time: that some of the wealthiest people in the country would have to give up their wealth. That liquidation of private wealth is the only precedent for what today’s climate justice movement is rightly demanding: that trillions of dollars of fossil fuel stay in the ground. It is an audacious demand, and those making it should be clear-eyed about just what they’re asking. They should also recognize that, like the abolitionists of yore, their task may be as much instigation and disruption as it is persuasion. There is no way around conflict with this much money on the line, no available solution that makes everyone happy. No use trying to persuade people otherwise.

MSNBC talking head Chris Hayes in The Nation today. Link safe; goes to Twitchy, where Twitter users are wondering if Hayes was intoxicated from, presumably, non-petroleum-based spirits, when he wrote the above and Tweeted:

Wait’ll Chris discovers how his bosses make their money:

NASCAR has finalized the other half of its next long-term TV contract with NBC and severed future broadcast ties with ESPN and Turner Sports.

NBC and Fox will share rights to the Sprint Cup Series beginning with the 2015 season.

NBC and NASCAR agreed to a contract that runs from 2015-2024, but didn’t release financial terms of the deal.

NBC picks up the last 20 of a scheduled 36 points Sprint Cup races, and they could air Sunday afternoons as a lead-in to Sunday Night Football. Fox and NBC will share TV rights to the Nationwide Series, which has aired on ESPN since 2007 ABC and ESPN began a NASCAR deal in place of NBC.

— “NBC returns to NASCAR in deal that runs through 2024,” USA Today, July 23rd, 2013.

OK Chris, here’s your action plan. If indeed there are “parallels between the abolition of slavery and today’s climate fight,” then your mission is to barge into the NBC boardroom and convince them to drop NASCAR coverage. And the NFL — all those charter flights to the games, and the Goodyear Blimp circling around overhead at the stadium — those will have to be dropped from coverage. And no car chases in cop shows, unless it’s hot Prius on Prius action. And no stretch limos for NBC, CNBC and MSNBC execs and the on-air talent. No helicopters or jet flights for the news team.

Do all that, have NBC sign off on it, then get back to us. If you’re going to accuse your bosses of the moral equivalent of slavery (Because Al Gore took the moral equivalent of the Holocaust decades ago, I guess), you must force them to stop.

Do it for Gaia, man. Do it for Gaia.

On the other hand, somebody else at the Nation has a much better handle on things: “Let This Earth Day Be The Last:”

F*** Earth Day.

No, really. F*** Earth Day. Not the first one, forty-four years ago, the one of sepia-hued nostalgia, but everything the day has since come to be: the darkest, cruelest, most brutally self-satirizing spectacle of the year.

F*** it. Let it end here.

Works for me; as Kathy Shaidle joked when she forward the above link, “Iowahawk, is that you…?”

Related: “Hard. Core.”

More: Heh, indeed:

Update: “The message to the carbon industry seems to be: You are surrounded. Give up. Don’t make us shoot,” Byron York notes at the Washington Examiner, unpacking the violence lurking just underneath what York describes as Hayes’ “radical ‘climate justice’ manifesto.”

Which would perfectly square the circle, as it wasn’t that long ago that MSNBC was declaring violent metaphoric imagery as racist.

The Gross Domestic Pissants

April 22nd, 2014 - 12:15 pm

“There is, as every petty official knows, a great deal of pleasure to be had from the obstruction of others, especially if they appear to be more fortunate, better placed, richer, or more intelligent than oneself,” Theodore Dalrymple notes:

There is a pleasure in naysaying, all the greater if the naysayer is able to disguise from the victim the fact that he is not only doing his duty but gratifying himself. Indeed, there are many jobs, meaningless in themselves, in which the power to say no is the only non-monetary reward.

More to be feared even than the secret sadist, however, is the person who genuinely believes in the intrinsic value and even indispensability of his absurd task. He is as dangerous as any true believer. In my hospital, I saw many such people, scurrying like the White Rabbit in Alice from one meeting to another—meetings which medical staff were required to attend, thus diverting them from the main purpose of having medical staff in the first place. A friend of mine who had waited all day for a minor but potentially life-preserving operation was told at the last minute that his operation had been postponed because the surgeon had been called to attend a meeting. Only a credible threat by my friend of dire consequences for the hospital if the operation were not performed as planned diverted the surgeon from his pseudo- to his real work.

I am obliged by law to charge some of the publications for which I write Value Added Tax, which I then have to forward to the Treasury. The publications, however, are permitted to claim back from the Treasury the Value Added Tax with which they have been charged. No doubt most of this to-ing and fro-ing is done by computer, but it must involve some human labor, which clearly constitutes activity rather than work.

How many people, I wonder, are laboring hard to reduce the economic output of their country? In total it must be many millions.

Or as we like to call them in California, Sacramento.

See also, the Federal Government in Washington DC, where those who have labored particularly hard to reduce the economic output of their country look forward to the day when they become the subjects of fawning documentaries:

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Kerry: ‘It Was Easier’ in Cold War

April 22nd, 2014 - 11:02 am

Oh, John:

Secretary of State John Kerry attested Tuesday to the massively complex challenges Washington faces in Ukraine, Russia, Iran and the Middle East, declaring “it was easier” during the Cold War.

In a candid moment during a State Department speech, the top US diplomat said changing global power dynamics made a quaint memory of the early East-West stalemate, when American children would “crouch under our desks at school and practice” safety steps for a possible nuclear attack.

“During the Cold War… it was easier than it is today — simpler is maybe a way to put it,” Kerry told aid and development experts.

“The choices were less varied, less complicated, more stark, more clear: Communism, democracy, West, East, the Iron Curtain.”

Yes, for Kerry, it was a much simpler choice deciding how to screw his country back in the day.

Shades of Bill Clinton in 1993, who as Jonah Goldberg wrote a few years ago, joked: “Gosh, I miss the Cold War.”

Because, he explained, somberly: “We had an intellectually coherent thing. The American people knew what the rules were.”

Such Cold War nostalgia vexed many conservatives. It seemed to us that the Cold War consensus had broken down with the Vietnam War. Clinton himself didn’t much like that Cold War endeavor, which is one reason he worked so assiduously to avoid serving in it. A young John Kerry did serve, but he also threw away his medals and denounced his fellow servicemen as war criminals. Jimmy Carter, meanwhile, had proclaimed that he had no “inordinate fear of Communism,” suggesting that those who disagreed with him did.

The “intellectual coherence” of the Cold War didn’t stop many liberals from opposing Ronald Reagan’s foreign-policy efforts in Europe, the Caribbean, and Central America, nor did it dampen Hollywood’s ardor in portraying Reagan as a warmonger, a dunce, or both. In the 1980s, the SANE/Freeze movement fired the minds of much of the Democratic party. And when the Cold War ended without a shot fired, the Left worked hard to give all the credit to Mikhail Gorbachev, since he seemed like a more reasonable fellow.

And speaking of the Cold War, at Reason today, Jesse Walker charts “Four Great Myths Of The McCarthy Era:”

The great radical myth of the Red Scare is that it was nothing but a scare—that the Americans accused of being Russian agents were virtually all innocent. (It’s hard to maintain that position now that the Venona files have been released and some of the left’s biggest causes célèbres have come crumbling down—at this point even Julius Rosenberg’s children have acknowledged that he was a spy—but some folks still hold onto the dream.) The great conservative myth of the period, meanwhile, is that the espionage justified the witch-hunts. People like Ann Coulter and M. Stanton Evans have taken to declaring that McCarthy was right without acknowledging that the bulk of his accusations were false, and that this was true of many other red-hunters too. And then there’s the great liberal myth of the period: the idea that the libs of the day managed to plot a course between the Soviet apologists and the paranoid hysterics, striking a delicate balance between protecting the country’s liberties and protecting its security. In fact, the Red Scare, like the Cold War itself, had liberal fingerprints all over it. . . . Speaking of Kennedy: His brother Bobby, later a liberal heartthrob, was a counsel for the McCarthy committee, and McCarthy was godfather to Bobby’s first child.

As Glenn Reynolds insta-quips, “If you don’t like the history you’ve got, just rewrite it!”

Of course, leftwing rewrites of history extend far beyond the Cold War.

Apocalypse Mau-Mau

April 21st, 2014 - 11:13 pm

“The global-warming apocalypses that didn’t happen,” are rounded up by Richard W. Rahn of the Cato Institute, who notes that “The defining moment for climate change has come and gone, again.” But we’ll keep seeing newer and ever-more frightening (not so) final countdowns:

Because crisis sells. It allows politicians to tax, spend and assert more control. Undoubtedly, more people would have read this column, if the headline had been, “World to end.” So ignore the “experts” and enjoy the summer, which most of us will find is too short.

And with “Earth Day” coming up, it’s worth revisiting I Hate the Media’sEarth Day predictions of 1970. The reason you shouldn’t believe Earth Day predictions of 2009″ — and the Earth Day predictions of this year as well. And then burn some rubber down the Information Super Highway over to Iowahawk’s Website, to enter your charp chort in competition in the Bard of Des Moines’ 2014 Earth Week Cruise-In.

Earlier: Interview: James Delingpole on The Little Green Book of Eco-Fascism.

A Century of ‘Progress,’ Illustrated

April 21st, 2014 - 5:00 pm

The Jersey Shore, circa 2005:

In the late 1960s, when the left had an aneurism over the election of Richard Nixon, and doomsdayers such as Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren, who now serves as Mr. Obama’s “Science” “Czar,” began obsessing over overpopulation, their timing at least made a certain amount of sense. Much of the west was feeling relatively happy as the post-World War II boom trundled on; having only discovered mechanized flight 65 years prior, man was about to land on the moon, and the prospect of exploring other planets seemed likely on the horizon. (Perhaps even colonizing them, which would certainly have been one solution to overpopulation.)

But the immediate post-World War II years were nowhere near as happy; Britain maintained food rationing for nearly a decade after the war ended. Reconstruction in the shattered post-fascist continent of Europe was even more painful. Which would seem to be a rather unlikely time to discuss reducing the population even further, even for one of the most prominent eugenicists of the 20th century.

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david_gregory_brandishes_illegal_gun_clip_6-23-13

Dr. Freud’s bills would be astronomical if he put everyone from MSNBC alone on the couch, let alone their parent network. And according to Betsy Rothstein of the Daily Caller, NBC hired a “brand consultant” not a psychologist, to analyze the obvious — no one wants to watch David Gregory. But still:

After a slew of publications, including this one, ran with the psych assessment from Paul Farhi‘s Washington Post story — which claims that a “psychology consultant” was brought in last year to interview Gregory’s wife and friends to find out why the Sunday morning program is failing and in third place — NBC now says Farhi’s story mischaracterized what happened.

“Last year Meet the Press brought in a brand consultant—not, as reported, a psychological one—to better understand how its anchor connects,” an NBC spokesperson told The Daily Caller‘s Mirror blog. “This is certainly not unusual for any television program, especially one that’s driven so heavily by one person.”

The exact paragraph in question was this one with the discrepancy in bold: “Last year, the network undertook an unusual assessment of the 43-year-old journalist, commissioning a psychological consultant to interview his friends and even his wife. The idea, according to a network spokeswoman, Meghan Pianta, was ‘to get perspective and insight from people who know him best.’ But the research project struck some at NBC as odd, given that Gregory has been employed there for nearly 20 years.”

That part about the consultant interviewing Gregory’s wife and friends is accurate.

While it may not be unusual for NBC, has any other journalist you know had their friends and family interviewed to find out why he’s failing so miserably? According to one TV personality, “No. Not standard at all. It’s insane.”

Rothstein adds that Farhi stands by his story. And as Troy Senik asks at Ricochet, “Since When Has Insanity Been Disqualifying in the TV Business?” Particularly at NBC, given who the network has had on the payroll over the years, from John Belushi to Keith Olbermann, from OJ Simpson to Alec Baldwin, from Bryant Gumbel to Brian Williams:

I think we’ve all been there. Your workplace performance slips a little and, next thing you know, you come home to a shrink trying to get your wife to handicap the probability that you’ll hurl a live grenade into a Lady Foot Locker. It’s a story as old as humanity itself.

You don’t need a “consultant” (truly America’s most elastic job title) to unearth the problem here. Gregory is a smug, self-satisfied narcissist; the kind of person who’s more interested in hearing himself ask the question than bothering to listen to the answer. He’s Piers Morgan without the patina of credibility that comes with a British accent. Is that really someone you want in your home for Sunday breakfast?

The answer is, no it’s not. In the Washington Post, Farhi writes that “In the final quarter of last year, viewing among people ages 25 to 54, the preferred group for TV news advertisers, fell to its lowest level ever.”

“Ever. As in, since 1947,” Jim Treacher adds.

Ann Althouse notes that Gregory’s edition of Meet the Press has tried to run shorter, punchier segments, but ultimately, the problem is Gregory himself — along with the ideology he espouses, often in brutally clumsy style, as the infamous photo atop this post — and atop numerous other blog posts today commenting on the NBC story — attests:

Gregory says the new look “delivers on the core of what ‘Meet the Press’ is” but “widens the aperture . . . I’m dedicated to building something that says we’re not just thinking about politics. We’re thinking about who the real influencers are in this country.”

He has no idea how smarmy and patronizing that sounds. My advice, stay out of what you call “America” (i.e., not Washington). Have your Washington people on and grill them for us. That’s what Russert did.

We’re not interested in you as the host of a vicarious cocktail party to which We the People never get an invitation and to which — this may surprise you, David — most of us would send our regrets.

Another issue is the ancient template of the Sunday news show itself, as Senik writes at Ricochet:

Ricochet is home to an audience that’s highly politically literate. How many of you even watch one of the Sunday shows? Is there anything that could get you to tune in? What do you look for in someone tasked with conducting serious political interviews? Who do you think does it best?

How old is Meet the Press? So old that it originally began as a postwar extension of the American Mercury, a magazine founded in 1924 by H.L. Mencken. It, and the rest of the Sunday morning Beltway chat shows are part of the last holdovers from an era in which news consisted of three TV networks, and three wire services feeding a couple of newspapers per big metropolitan city. In the demassified era of 500-channel satellite TV and millions of blogs and Websites, they’re dinosaurs. Let them go peacefully into extinction.

Just make sure Gregory and his ilk continue to get plenty of medication, and are comfortably placed in areas where they can as little harm as possible to themselves and rest of us.

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Humble Pie, Served Good and Hard

April 21st, 2014 - 12:35 pm

“Kate Humble: We don’t value food because it’s not expensive enough,” screamed a headline at the far left UK Guardian, which was catnip to the Drudge Report. I know nothing of Humble’s politics, as I had never heard of her before the Drudge link. But I’m assuming if the Guardian is writing favorably about her, and she’s employed as a show host by the far left and equally reactionary BBC, she shares their worldview, while staring out upon, as the Guardian notes, “her 117-acre former council farm in Trellech, Monmouth, which she runs with her TV director husband Ludo Graham.”

In response to her Guardian profile, blogger Christopher Fountain writes, “I’m not exactly sure of the value of 117 acres of farmland in England, nor what the combined salaries of a TV director and a ‘television personality’ amount to, but I’m fairly certain that Miss Humble doesn’t live on the same income as the great unwashed she demands pay up. Isn’t it always that way?”

Yes indeed. And she’s about to get her way, at least in the US. “Alert shoppers are accustomed to watching food prices go up and down. But a string of forces—from droughts to diseases—is raising the cost of a trip to the grocery store at a rapid clip,” CNBC reported on Saturday, adding that “it looks like it will be a while before the price pressure eases:”

Consumers are also coping with higher costs beyond their supermarket shopping cart. After a brutal winter in much of the country kept shoppers home, a pickup in demand has sent clothing and used car prices higher in March.

Rents are also going up in most of the country, up 2.7 percent in the latest 12-months, a pace not seen since the housing market collapsed in 2007. Medical costs are also rising.

Because food prices are typically more volatile than other consumer costs, economists and policy makers at the Federal Reserve usually ignore them when looking at the so-called “core rate” of inflation. But after a long period of inflation running less than 2 percent a year, the latest surge in prices bears closer watching, according to Capital Insight senior economist Paul Dales.

“We suspect that core inflation will rise to 2 percent this year and beyond it next year, which would catch the Fed off guard,” he wrote in a recent note to clients.

Humble’s quote about food not being “expensive enough” sums up the 21st century state of the increasingly paradoxically named ideology that calls itself “Progressivism” rather well.

As Fred Siegel wrote in his new book, The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class, “The best short credo of liberalism came from the pen of the once canonical left-wing literary historian Vernon Parrington in the late 1920s. ‘Rid society of the dictatorship of the middle class,’ Parrington insisted, referring to both democracy and capitalism, ‘and the artist and the scientist will erect in America a civilization that may become, what civilization was in earlier days, a thing to be respected.’”

But those politicians who espoused liberal and progressive values in the first 65 years of the 20th century at least knew enough that if they wanted to get elected, they needed to pay lip service to ideas that would benefit the working man and in theory, make his life easier. Sure, it was mostly nonsense, but at least, unlike “progressive” intellectuals, they weren’t overtly punitive towards the working class. Today, their modern counterparts publicly espouse the notion of driving up prices. Barack Obama, running for the presidency in January of 2008, blurted out to the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle that he wanted to bankrupt coal companies and “under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” Well gee, thanks for that one, Barry.

At the end of 2008, at the peak of his popularity, comfortably ensconced in the command chair of the mighty Office of the President Elect, Mr. Obama deigned to grant an interview with Tom Brokaw of NBC. Brokaw begged the president elect to increase gas taxes, driving those prices up as well. (Gee, thanks for looking out for us, Tom.)  And “unexpectedly” moving in unison, as if in lockstep (paranoid folly, I know), the New York Times, the Washington Post and eventually CNN all agreed!  Why yes, it would be a good thing if the American people paid more for their gasoline. Perhaps these scrappy, populist hardscrabble journalists were simply echoing the thoughts of Steven Chu, who would become Obama’s “energy” secretary who gave the game away to the Wall Street Journal in September of that year, when he openly told them that “Somehow, we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”

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Specifically, CBS is too “‘ideologically entrenched’ to air stories critical of the Obama administration,” Ed Morrissey paraphrases at Hot Air:

CNN’s Brian Stelter broadcast a two-part interview with former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson to review her accusations of political bias at CBS News — and to take on the critics she has acquired over the last year or so. Attkisson told the Reliable Sources host that the departure of top executives in the wake of Katie Couric’s flop brought in “ideologically entrenched” managers who resented her investigative reporting on the Obama administration (via Jim Hoft):

TELTER: Let me read this from “The Washington Post.” This is in March 10th, right around the time you were resigning from CBS. And Erik Wimple wrote, according to a CBS News source you felt you were being kept off “CBS Evening News” because of political considerations. Did you feel that way? I mean, were there political considerations at times?

ATTKISSON: You know, it’s fairly well discussed inside CBS News that there are some managers recently who have been so ideologically entrenched that there is a feeling and discussion that some of them, certainly not all of them, have a difficult time viewing a story that may reflect negatively upon government or the administration as a story of value.

As I noted last month, that ideological entrenchment certainly dates back a long, long time:

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