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Ed Driscoll

Obama’s Golf War

August 20th, 2014 - 8:55 pm

Kudos to the New York Daily News, a center-left newspaper, for having a rare moment of clarity, even as its crosstown rival pulls its punches and retracts its own golf-related punch at their boss, and unlike the Daily News a likely accidental one, to boot.

But then, as John Hinderaker writes at Power Line, “In recent months, Barack Obama has crossed an important threshold. He has always shown contempt for his opponents; now he shows contempt for his supporters. He has quit pretending to be a leader, and more or less quit pretending to be a president. On the right and the center, he has become a joke,” as demonstrated by the Michael Ramirez cartoon that Hinderaker links to in his post.

Ace compares Mr. Obama’s contempt for — at this point, well, pretty much the entire world — as something akin to the mammoth level of OCD displayed by the Sheldon Cooper character on CBS’s The Big Bang Theory sitcom. But the subtext of the show is that Sheldon really is genius-level smart — and as a side-effect of his enormous intellect, clueless about how to deal with the rest of the world.

Setting aside the inherent limitations of the modern PC Ivy League education (I’m looking at you, Fareed and Matt), Barack Obama is no dummy — nobody who gets to the White House is — but he’s clearly not the Nietzschian uber-intelligence that he thinks he is. His hauteur isn’t a byproduct of OCD, it’s just leftwing arrogance and contempt for the entire world. Also, Sheldon is a comparatively lowly theoretical physicist at Caltech, with few people to remind him when he’s screwing up. Mr. Obama merely has his entire staff, both houses of Congress, and the entire American media as a performance gauge. And as Hinderaker writes, he’s increasingly flipping the bird to them all and hiding out from the rest of the world in the bunker — and the sandtrap.

The Hollywood Reporter has an intriguing look today at Saturday Night Live’s reactionary leftwing politics, both onstage and off.

When Don Pardo, SNL’s venerable announcer passed away this week, I was reminded that while I haven’t watched an entire episode of Saturday Night Live since the late Phil Hartman left the now-ancient series in 1994, I loved the show’s first five seasons — there was simply nothing else like it when it debuted, even if the misses greatly outweighed the hits. So in a way, I’m glad that its creator, Lorne Michaels, who is still with SNL, has what is essentially a comfortable NBC-funded retirement plan, no matter how unwatchable his current product is.


Robert Smigel, writer: It wasn’t until my last season that the network refused to air a “TV Funhouse.” It was a live-action one that was meant to be about racism and profiling, an airline-safety video with multilingual narration, and whenever you heard a different language, they would cut to people of that nationality. First, typical white Americans, then a Latino family, then a Japanese family, all being instructed about seat belts, overhead compartments, et cetera. Then it cuts to an Arab man, and the narrator says, in Arabic, “During the flight, please do not blow up the airplane. The United States is actually a humanitarian nation that is rooted in the concept of freedom,” and so on. … When the standards people freaked, Lorne fought them. Standards pushed back hard. They even got someone at NBC human resources to condemn it. … Lorne said, “I have a plan.” Obama was doing a cameo in the cold open. Lorne told me he would show my sketch to Obama. “If Obama thinks it’s OK, they won’t be able to argue it.” I thought it was a brilliant idea, except why would Obama ever give this thing his blessing? What if word got out? “Hey, everybody, that guy over there said it was cool. The one running for president of the country.” But I loved Lorne for caring this much and being willing to go that far to get this thing on TV.

Michaels: Obama said, “It’s funny, but no, I don’t think so.”

No wonder Obama tends to think of NBC as his personal TV network — complete with his own heckler’s veto, which he’s employed at least three times now.


And the bad 1979-era flashbacks just keep on coming: “U.S. military attempted secret rescue operation for James Foley this summer,” claims a report from ABC, the House of Stephanopoulos (link safe, goes to Hot Air):

U.S. special operations forces early this summer launched a secret, major rescue operation in Syria to save James Foley and a number of Americans held by the extremist group ISIS, but the mission failed because the hostages weren’t there, senior administration officials told ABC News today.

President Obama authorized the “substantial and complex” rescue operation after the officials said a “broad collection of intelligence” led the U.S. to believe the hostages were being held in a specific location in the embattled Middle Eastern nation.

When “several dozen” U.S. special operation members landed in Syria, however, they were met with gunfire and “while on site, it became apparent the hostages were not there,” one of the officials said. The special operators engaged in a firefight in which ISIS suffered “a good number” casualties, the official said, while the American forces suffered only a single minor injury.

The American forces were able to get back on helicopters and escape.

Gee, that story rings a bell, doesn’t it? (Not to mention its source at ABC, which turned the Iranian Hostage Crisis into a relentless drumbeat against their fellow Democrat in the White House, via the innovative late night news program, Nightline.)

We already noted earlier today the New York Times‘ “Mush from the Wimp”-styled headline — “Obama, Outraged Over Beheading, Vows to Stay on Course” — right to the 18th hole of the country club. It’s deja Jimmy all over again; somewhere, a Killer Rabbit licks his chops in glee.

Update: A blog commenter at Hot Air wonders if the Underwear Gnomes at the White House are hard at work:

Loving the progression here…

1. Foley murdered.

2. White House knew it was going to happen.

3. Report comes out..”We really tried to save him!!”

4. ???

Meanwhile, the headline writers at the otherwise reliably supine-left Associated Press are also feeling a little salty this week.

Related: Of course: Obama’s fellow Democrat operatives at the New York Times fix embarrassing golf-related headline. More mush from the wimp’s wusses.

The News Anchors Who Didn’t Bark

August 20th, 2014 - 3:44 pm

“MSNBC Wouldn’t Be This Calm If Tea Party Protesters Threw Rocks at Their Hosts,” Larry O’Connor writes at the Washington Free Beacon:

So, imagine if you will: The scene is a small town in Missouri and the tea party is holding a protest against high taxes, illegal immigration and Obamacare. Chris Hayes is reporting on the scene and conservatives wearing masks start throwing rocks at him and screaming at him to “tell the real story.”

Would Hayes’ response be “People are angry, man”?

Of course not. Why? Because Chris Hayes agrees with the rioter in Ferguson but not the tea party protester? I think there’s more to it than that. I think maybe it’s also because in Chris Hayes’ own arrogant, intellectually self-satisfied superiority, he actually expects less from the rock-throwers Monday night than he does other members of society. And that’s the real problem with progressivism.

But we don’t need a hypothetical like this to tell us how MSNBC would react to this scenario. In 2012, an MSNBC producer physically assaulted a person at the RNC convention merely for heckling Chris Matthews over his famous “thrill up his leg” comment. No rocks involved in that incident, just good, old-fashioned free speech.

As I mentioned yesterday, why should an MSNBC anchor be upset at a rock thrown at him, while covering a protest ginned up by his fellow MSNBC anchor?

We can see a similar dynamic at work at CNN, which has been fanning the flames of race hatred at Ferguson almost as badly as MSNBC, even without having Al Sharpton on their payroll.

Compare and contrast: as Jim Treacher notes today at the Daily Caller, “I’m not sure if [CNN's Anderson Cooper] thought bringing the diminutive racist and former filmmaker [Spike Lee] on the air would help him in his nightly battle with MSNBC for second place in the ratings, but at least Spike said some really stupid crap.” In 2012, as Treacher notes:

The last time America’s race-baiters and their helpful idiots worked themselves into a frenzy over someone shooting a violent criminal in self-defense, Spike Lee gave out the home address of an elderly couple who had nothing to do with it. If you think he’s learned anything from that experience, you don’t know much about Spike Lee.

Flash-forward to last night, when Lee ranted to Cooper:

“When people get to a point, [unintelligible] that tipping point, they can’t take it anymore. And I’m not saying that people should burn down stuff, riot, and loot. And I don’t even want to use the work ‘riot.’ I’m gonna use the word ‘uprising.’ But this is not the first time we’ve seen this. And I just hope that things will really blow up if the people aren’t happy with the verdict of this upcoming trial.”

As Treacher notes, “And Cooper just lets all that go. He wouldn’t want to question Lee’s judgment and ongoing public advocacy of mob rule, because then somebody might say, ‘Hey, Anderson, you’re a racist!’”

Compare that 2009, when CNN Democrat operatives with bylines field reporters were insulting Tea Party members to their faces, and Democrat operative with a byline CNN anchor Anderson Cooper played along with self-hating homophobic “tea-bagging” jokes himself.

Don’t get me wrong — part of me is quite happy that the MSM dropped the mask at some point in the last ten years, and we know precisely what their biases are, even if they’re not always honest about them. But perhaps, given that the leftwing MSM consists, on TV, of CNNCBSNBCABCMSNBCPBS and more, and right-leaning media to be Fox News, perhaps instead of income inequality, it’s time to start discussing media inequality instead.

Related: “What if the Rioters Were White?”, Walter Hudson asks at the PJ Tatler. “If Ted Nugent talked about white empowerment, would it be tolerated like Al Sharpton talking about black empowerment?”

Blog Comment of the Day

August 20th, 2014 - 3:28 pm

“Missouri cop was badly beaten before shooting Michael Brown, says source,” according to Fox News. Glenn Reynolds adds that “The Narrative Seems to Be Breaking Down.” His first blog commenter outlines exactly what the narrative du jour is:

There seems to be a pattern: 1) unarmed young black guy is shot, 2) there is a vast media outcry over the young “honor student’s” death, 3) family provides photos of the dead guy taken when he was 11 years old, well before he had opted for the ghetto thug look, 4) it comes out that the “honor student” has been committing felonies, 5) witnesses say the honor student was beating the hell out of the person who shot him, 6) Democrat politicians call for the shooter’s conviction, and 7) prosecutors, fearing rioting, black voters, or what have you, prosecute the shooter anyway.

Have I missed anything?

And as another blog commenter writes, expect things to get worse as a result:

We will soon see an almost complete lack of Policing in inner cities following the lynching of this officer. Why on Earth would a cop risk jail for enforcing the law? Of course the people that will suffer the most are the citizens of Ferguson and similar areas. They will soon degenerate into Jungles; the biggest and most aggressive will run rampant, and rob, and beat, and kill, without fear of the law.

See also: Detroit, a quarter of a century ago.

More Mush From the Wimp

August 20th, 2014 - 12:25 pm

As Wikipedia notes, “‘Mush from the Wimp’ was a joke headline accidentally passed through to publication at the top of a Boston Globe editorial in 1980:”

On Saturday, March 15, 1980, the Boston Globe ran an editorial that began:

Certainly it is in the self-interest of all Americans to impose upon themselves the kind of economic self-discipline that President Carter urged repeatedly yesterday in his sober speech to the nation. As the President said, inflation, now running at record rates, is a cruel tax, one that falls most harshly upon those least able to bear the burden.

There was nothing exceptional about it except the headline: “Mush from the Wimp”. The headline — which was supposed to have read “All Must Share The Burden” — was corrected during the press run after 161,000 copies had already gone to circulation.

In November 1982, Globe editorial page editor Kirk Scharfenberg wrote an op-ed piece discussing his creation of the phrase and the use of “wimp” as a popular political insult afterwards. “I meant it as an in-house joke and thought it would be removed before publication,” he explained. “It appeared in 161,000 copies of the Globe the next day.”

In the meantime, Theo Lippman Jr. of the Baltimore Sun declared “Mush from the Wimp” the second most famous newspaper headline of the 20th century, behind “Wall St. Lays an Egg” and ahead of “Ford to City: Drop Dead”.

The New York Times inadvertently had its own “Mush from The Wimp” headline today, which manages to combine Obama’s feckless Middle East policy, his monolithic lack of introspection, which prevents him from admitting mistakes and reassessing his administration’s goals, with his penchant for long hours out on the links into one inadvertent brilliant headline.

As Orrin Judd noted recently, it’s only a matter of time before the killer rabbit emerges onto the back fairway as well. But Glenn Reynolds warned us very early into former President Obama’s administration, “A Carter-rerun is now looking like a best-case scenario. . . .”


Update: The president vows to stay relentlessly on course:

2016 Might Not Be Much Fun for Harry Reid

August 19th, 2014 - 2:31 pm

Of course, no year is really fun for Harry Reid — simply because, hey, he’s Harry Reid. But as Moe Lane writes, “Everybody Harry Reid’s ever viciously attacked is getting ready for 2016:”

But in some ways it’s irrelevant: contra the Politico article, I suspect that most of the groups that will be going after Harry Reid would be going after him if Reid’s opponent was Bozo the Clown.  And they’re going to do that because while getting Harry Reid out of office is business, for these guys it’s personal, too.  Harry Reid made it personal.  Harry Reid has been accusing his opponents of being a bunch of secret anti-American totalitarians, and he did so in the nastiest way possible. I am not a libertarian, per se, but I am familiar with the people who are – and Harry Reid is everything that they detest in an American politician. He has no fixed principles. He has no shame. He has no compunction against feathering his own nest with public funds. In fact, Harry Reid flaunts the fact that his riches comes not from actual work, but from manipulating the system and collecting favors.

Read the whole thing. Of course, you can ruin this year for Harry Reid as well, by helping return him to minority leader of the Senate.

“Bear Flag State Turns Bearish,” Steve Green writes, linking to a column on the formerly golden state at Investor’s Business Daily. Of course, for those of who still live here, our first thought is, “Turns?”

his time last year, liberals around the country were trumpeting the big fiscal comeback of the Golden State in the wake of Jerry Brown’s giant tax increase — Proposition 30.

That initiative was passed by voters on Nov. 6, 2012, and it raised the personal income-tax rate on taxpayers making over $250,000 for singles and $500,000 for married couples to as high as 13% — which is the heaviest tax penalty on working and investing in the nation outside of New York City.

What was especially devious is that the tax hit was made retroactive to January 2012. Sacramento was so desperate for money that nobody seemed to mind this after-the fact taxation is really a form of confiscation.

In the short term, it worked and revenues climbed a whopping 21% because California’s top 2% had to pay taxes twice in 2013 — once on their current-year income and a supplemental check to pay for the retroactive tax on income from the year before.

As Steve adds, “So it turns out that ‘California Comeback’ was based on smoke and mirrors.” I wouldn’t recommend smoking whatever Jerry Brown’s sycophants are puffing (just ask Maureen Dowd) and those mirrors can be be deadly:

Workers at a state-of-the-art solar plant in the Mojave Desert have a name for birds that fly through the plant’s concentrated sun rays — “streamers,” for the smoke plume that comes from birds that ignite in midair

Federal wildlife investigators who visited the BrightSource Energy plant last year and watched as birds burned and fell, reporting an average of one “streamer” every two minutes, are urging California officials to halt the operator’s application to build a still-bigger version.

And thus, the radical environmental left comes full circle:

Wasn’t it obvious that when Al Gore titled one of his books “The Assault on Reason,” he meant it as a how-to guide?

And finally, in other news from the socialist state, at City Journal, Rory Cohen writes, that Los Angeles’ “infrastructure crumbles as public-employee compensation balloons.” But then, that describes much of the rest of California as well, which has some of the worst roads — even NPR admits it — and the most graffiti in the nation.

Far Left Activist Calls for Mass Vandalism

August 19th, 2014 - 11:56 am

“Erica Payne, founder and president of the left-wing Agenda Project, is encouraging people to deface the cover of Paul Ryan’s new book, which is hitting shelves today,” Daniel Halper writes at the Weekly Standard:

“Hi Daniel,” Payne writes in an email. “Just a heads up, Paul Ryan’s new book comes out today and his publisher is furious! It turns out that they accidentally shipped it with the wrong cover, and they need your help to make things right.

“We have the correct cover and it’s up to us to get it on as many of his books as possible, as soon as possible. The real cover is right here. Just print it out, take it to your nearest bookstore, and place it over the book jacket. Rep. Ryan is counting on us, let’s not let him down!”

Of course, it’s a lie. Payne is encouraging people to deface Ryan’s book with this phony cover:

Click over to see the Payne’s proposed cover, which vandalizes Ryan’s book with a Photoshop of him — of course — pushing a terrified grandmother in a wheelchair. (Perhaps granny is simply frightened by the growing amount of taxes she’s paying.)

I was also spammed by Payne; as was Scott Johnson of Power Line, who writes that thanks to her proposal, “A window opens onto the left-wing mind:”

Payne is about as funny as cancer. I wrote her back:

Hi Erica: I appreciate your including me on your email distribution, but I think you are encouraging the criminal abuse of property. Are you so desperate to discourage Ryan’s ideas from seeing the light of day?


I’ll post an update if I hear back from her.

Heh. That’s a debate I’d love to observe.

To be fair, at least she’s “only” proposing mass vandalism of a book whose ideas she’s frightened of, unlike San Jose State’s Meteorology Department, which prefers to burn them.

Related: Click here to listen to my interview with Daniel Halper last week on his new book, Clinton, Inc. As we discuss, Halper has also run afoul of the left’s Thought Police with his new book.

Just MSNBC the Mobius Loop

August 19th, 2014 - 11:38 am

“MSNBC’s Chris Hayes was reporting live from Ferguson, Missouri Monday night when protesters began throwing rocks at him,” Mediaite reports, complete with video.

So just to confirm, an MSNBC newsreader received collateral damage during a riot whose flamed have been stoked by MSNBC’s Al Sharpton.

On Sunday, fellow Democrat operative Andrea Mitchell lied on NBC’s Meet the Press that Sharpton is in Ferguson “on a peace mission.” I wonder if Hayes agrees with that assessment today.

I hope the brass in NBC’s news division — once the home of grownups such as John Cameron Swayze, David Brinkley and John Chancellor — are proud of themselves today. But then, they probably are. As MSNBC President Phil Griffin told NPR in 2011, “I’m a big fan of the Reverend Sharpton. I’ve known him quite a bit. he’s smart. He’s entertaining. He’s experienced. He’s thoughtful. He’s provocative, all the things I think that MSNBC is.”

Perhaps the most inadvertently honest words that Griffin, or anyone associated with MSNBC, have ever spoken.


And it’s not just the Democrat operatives with bylines. Their boss is a superhero as well by that standard. As Steve Bartin noted yesterday, “Chicago Murder Total Under Mayor Daley 14,653 : Chicago Murder Total Under Rahm Emanuel 1475 So Far- Yet Barack Obama Sends Eric Holder to Missouri.”

Heckuva job there, Barry, Al, Eric, and Rahm.

More: “MSNBC News Crew Chastised By Ferguson Police For ‘Endangering Lives.’” Which brings us back to Phil Griffin’s quote above.

As does this post, as well.


Click to enlarge.

The most recent copy of the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual I own is dated 1998; I scanned the relevant page and highlighted the text in question. I also own a copy from my college days with a 1977 copyright on it. They both have the same guidelines for referring to someone as a “youth:”

youth Applicable to boys and girls from age 13 until 18th birthday. Use man or woman for individuals 18 and older.

“AP violating own style guidelines to refer to Michael Brown as ‘teenager’?”, Allahpundit asks at Hot Air. “Question mark in the headline because the AP Stylebook’s not available online, so I can’t confirm that it’s true. But I’m going to trust Eddie Scarry” of Mediaite:

The Associated Press Stylebook states that in reports referring to a person’s age, the figure for the age number should be used. It also states that reports should “use man or woman for individuals 18 and older.”

Why, then, are AP reports on the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown solely referring to him as a “teen” and “teenager”?

“Don’t know’ if Missouri teen shot with hands up,” reads one AP headline from Monday. “County autopsy: Unarmed teen shot 6 to 8 times,” reads another.

And an excerpt from yet another AP story, emphasis added: “Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon lifted a curfew but ordered the National Guard to step in to help restore order. Holder over the weekend ordered a federal medical examiner to perform a third autopsy on the teenager, Michael Brown.”

Unless the rules have changed at AP after 1998, then yes, they violated their Style Guide. But hey, that narrative doesn’t write itself, you know.

Update: “AP Violated Stylebook at least 11 times with at least 7 reporters,” frequent PJM contributor Tom Blumer writes.

There’s a Mobius Loop Going On

August 18th, 2014 - 4:27 pm

“Why should the crime — real or alleged — committed by person X make it okay for person Y to do harm to person(s) Z? No one has ever been able to explain that to me,” Jonah Goldberg writes, regarding the riots in Ferguson. As I mentioned earlier, the video that CNN* ran last night featuring a pregnant woman being helped with her gas mask(!) by her boyfriend/S.O./spouse or perhaps simply a helpful male fellow protester before going back to the barricades was wearing a tie-dyed T-shirt to complete the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago atmosphere.

A recurring topic here at Ed is that paradoxically, for an ideology that calls itself “Progressivism,” the left is stuck in a series of intertwined and seemingly unbreakable Mobius Loops, chief among them the cargo cult of FDR and the New Deal and its enabling mechanism, the Moral Equivalent of War, as a method to circumvent the Constitution and its checks and balances on the power of government. Both of these memes are well over 80 years old, and they show no signs of ending. Whatever the state of the country in early 2017, something will be deemed to be a crisis that requires FDR-level action, if President Hillary or Elizabeth Warren takes office. No matter how old the Single Wing Offense is, it’s just not coming out of the left’s Bronko Nagurski-era playbook.

Almost as old is the American race riot, which Fried Siegel dubs “A Grotesque Pantomime of Repression and Redemption” at City Journal today. “The American understanding of riots and racial violence was shaped a half-century ago, during the insurrections of the 1960s.” As with other “Progressive” cargo cults, “To judge by the responses to the current rioting in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis, little has changed since then,” Siegel writes:

Riots bring but one certainty—enormous economic and social costs. Businesses flee, taking jobs and tax revenues with them. Home values decline for all races, but particularly for blacks. Insurance costs rise and civic morale collapses. The black and white middle classes move out. Despite its busy port and enormous geographic assets, Newark, New Jersey has never fully recovered from its 1967 riot. This year, Newark elected as its mayor Ras Baraka, the son and political heir of Amiri Baraka—the intellectual inspiration for the 1967 unrest.

The story is similar in Detroit, which lost half its residents between 1967 and 2000. Civic authority was never restored after the late 1960s riots, which never really ended; they just continued in slow motion. “It got decided a long time ago in Detroit,” explained Adolph Mongo, advisor to the jailed former “hip-hop mayor,” Kwame Kilpatrick, that “the city belongs to the black man. The white man was a convenient target until there were no white men left in Detroit.” The upshot, explained Sam Riddle, an advisor to current congressman John Conyers, first elected in 1965, is that “the only difference between Detroit and the Third World in terms of corruption is that Detroit don’t have no goats in the streets.”

As Kevin Williamson noted in What Doomed Detroit:

The concentration of poverty and related social dysfunction in its inner city, in no small part a legacy of the explosion of the city’s black population during the Great Migration, which saw Detroit’s black population soar from 6,000 in 1910 to 120,000 in 1929, and from 1.2 percent of the population in 1910 to about 30 percent of the population by [1961]. It is one of the great ironies of American history that wherever black Americans go, from the Jim Crow South to the great industrial cities, they are persecuted by the Democratic party, and then help to entrench the power of that party.

More from Siegel:

The grotesque pantomime of repression and redemption, riots and never-quite-achieved rewards, plays out time and again. The chaos in Ferguson is but the latest episode of this long, sad drama of resentment and revenge. The drama persists in part because so many journalists and academics, not to mention black activists, have so much invested in it.

And as with the Trayvon Martin-George Zimmerman debacle, they won’t let a little thing like facts get in the way of their narrative. But then, as Jim Treacher notes:

* And speaking of Mobius Loops, yes, it’s quite evident that CNN is thrilled that they’re out of the disappearing airplane/Anthony Bourdain travelogue rerun business for the time being.

(Apologies to Sly and the Family Stone for the headline.)


August 18th, 2014 - 2:59 pm

The left confuses cause and effect, Fred Siegel writes at City Journal:

Time and again in recent months, I’ve heard inverted arguments on a range of topics. A devout anti-fracking activist, fighting to keep the southern tier of New York in Appalachian penury, assured me that the poverty of northern Pennsylvania was the result of the extraction of wealth-producing natural gas. But the evidence is to the contrary. While fracking has brought in some “roughnecks” and torn up some roads, it’s also brought rising incomes on the southern side of the New York-Pennsylvania border. On the non-fracking New York side, employment in metro Binghamton and Elmira has declined 12 percent since 2001.

In Gotham, Alex Vitale, a Brooklyn College professor, and MSNBC host Al Sharpton both claim that Broken Windows policing produces criminality by labeling otherwise law-abiding black youths as criminals. But if Vitale and Sharpton were correct, then New York’s prison population should have increased as a result. That has not been the case. While the prison population of most states rose rapidly over the last two decades, New York’s, thanks to Broken Windows, declined.

CNN anchor Jake Tapper offers up another perverse argument, this one to explain the violence in Gaza. Tapper suggests that it is “hopelessness” in Gaza that’s produced the imperative to fire missiles and build tunnels into Israel. As Tapper and others who spout the Hamas line see it, Israel’s economic blockade of Gaza has engendered the poverty that leaves no choice but war. This is a bizarre argument, since Hamas needed massive quantities of imported concrete to construct the electricity-laden tunnels it used to attack Israel. Here, too, as with Broken Windows policing, an empirical record is available if Tapper had the inclination to consult it. When Israel, led by Ariel Sharon, withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it left behind a system of greenhouses which could have been used to employ and feed thousands of Gazans. But in an act of savagery, Hamas leveled those greenhouses. In the years since Israeli troops withdrew from Gaza, Hamas has started three wars with Israel, each time claiming that it had no choice but to initiate hostilities—often seconded by a suborned press that, whether by ideology, intimidation, or a mixture of both, has toed the Hamas line. Even if you take Tapper’s argument seriously, the three wars have done nothing to alleviate Gaza’s hopelessness.

All of which may explain the “reasoning” the leads to former President Obama’s zero-sum worldview, Star Parker writes today at Townhall:

What a zero sum worldview will produce more of is political, class, and ethnic resentment and strife.

It so happens we have a leader today that has this worldview and his name is Barack Obama. It is not surprising that today’s world over which he is presiding, at home and abroad, increasing shows these characteristics.

President Obama was very candid in a recent interview with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times in which he stated his zero sum view of the world.

“Obama made clear,” Friedman writes, “that he is only going to involve America more deeply in places like the Middle East to the extent that different communities there agree to an inclusive politics of no victor/no vanquished.”

There you have it. No suggestion that there is right and wrong, or better answers that make everyone better off and worse answers that don’t. No, in our president’s take on the world, if there is a winner who winds up better off there must be a loser who winds up equally worse off.

The president then made clear that he views the world through this zero sum lens at home as well as abroad.

The zero-sum worldview may also explain Mr. Obama’s Manichean “Republicans = evil / Democrats unalloyed good” worldview as well. But then, Charles Krauthammer covered that one well over a decade ago.

For my interview with Fred Siegel on his 2014 book, a history of the American left and “Progressivism,” The Revolt Against the Masses, click here.

Related: Forget Zero Sum. I just wish the former president would avoid a zero necktie worldview.

And Now, a Word From Our Sponsor

August 18th, 2014 - 2:03 pm

The groundskeeper for the Bushwood Country Club golf course just called and said, “I’m Carl Spackler, and I definitely approve this message.”

Filed under: Muggeridge's Law

Was It Good For You?

August 18th, 2014 - 1:40 pm

“Is the U.S. economic recovery almost over — already?”, James Pethokoukis asks at The Week:

Half of America still thinks the Great Recession never ended. That, even though the U.S. economy continues to grow and add jobs.

It’s an understandable view, of course. Median family incomes are 3 percent lower today than five years ago, new jobs pay a fifth less than those lost during the downturn, and the share of adults with a job remains well below pre-recession levels. For most workers — particularly those who aren’t software engineers at Google — the Not-So-Great Recovery has been a bust.

That’s not even the worst of it. If history is any guide, we’re overdue for another recession. The average length of a post-WWII upturn after a downturn is 58 months. The current recovery, which began in July 2009, has been plugging along for 62 months. But because this recovery has been so weak, even a mild downturn, like the one after the internet stock bubble popped, could conceivably push the jobless rate back over 8 percent.

The good news? Recoveries don’t have a built-in expiration date. They simply don’t die of old age. Something bad has to happen. Often that bad thing is the Federal Reserve jacking up interest rates to keep inflation in check. But just because upturns tend to last less than five years doesn’t mean this one will.

But what could go wrong? Well, a lot.

Well, that’s comforting. In the summer of 2006 — aka, America’s good ol’ days — one economic blogger quipped, “Americans Hate Their Fabulous Economy,” two years before before the Clinton-approved Housing Bubble and the Pelosi Premium on gas prices blew up the economy in the waning days of the Bush administration. If the Obama economy slows visibly enough for even the MSM to “unexpectedly” notice, how will that play for Hillary’s presidential bid?

Oh right — she and the MSM will simply blame it all on Bush. Sorry for temporarily forgetting.

Update: To borrow from my “good ol’ days” line above, here’s a scary thought.

Dispatches From the European Civil War

August 18th, 2014 - 1:01 pm

The more things change…

The more they stay the same…

When exactly did the ceasefire in the “European Civil War” conclude?

‘Ferguson Is Not Binary’

August 18th, 2014 - 12:47 pm

“The world is not a binary place. People and events can sometimes be simple and can sometimes be complicated. Simple events can have tangentially related complicated issues involved and complicated events can have tangentially related simple issues involves,” Erick Erickson writes at Red State:

Conservatives are a law and order bunch. It is, in fact, the natural order to gather into societies and cede our individual rights of protection to a governmental body that wields the sword on our behalf. But that sword can be turned on us. As we become a society where more and more legislation and regulation causes more and more well meaning people to accidentally run afoul of laws and rules, we should be more concerned with militarizing our police and extending the jurisdictions of law enforcement agencies.

Police do a good and necessary job. But if power corrupts men and absolute power corrupts absolutely, we should be wary of putting our neighborhood man in blue in camouflage, a helmet, and an AR-15 inside an armored personnel carrier except in the most serious of circumstances.

No conservative is saying police do not need to be able to outshoot and out arm the bad guys. But many of us are saying police are more quickly than ever before resorting to playing soldier when they could accomplish the same as just a policeman.

One can view the events of Ferguson, MO and decide it was a good call to, before rioting even began, suit up the police as soldiers. But the world is not binary. Regardless of how one views the events of Ferguson, we should all be troubled by the over-militarization of routine police activity. We should all be troubled at the growing number of well documented cases of heavy handed local and state police. Being a conservative means we should support the judicious use of force. It also means that, unlike liberals who routinely turn a blind eye to the abuses of the state targeted toward their opponents, we should not simply presume the ends justify the means.

Of course, it’s important to consider what “the ends” should be, as Kevin D. Williamson noted at NRO last week:

People in places such as Ferguson, Mo., often talk about the police as though they were an occupying force, and there is, in Ferguson and in many other places, a strong racial component. During my time in Philadelphia, the city had a black mayor, a black police commissioner, and a heavily black police force, and the city’s worst crime was concentrated in two black neighborhoods. Police innovations such as sending extra patrols to schools at dismissal time were criticized by community leaders who complained that the police were “targeting” black neighborhoods. Which, of course, they were: That’s where the crime was. The police were of course in an impossible position: On the one hand, they were regarded as unwelcome intruders; on the other, they could not simply abandon those neighborhoods.

But they might seem a little bit less like an occupying force if they didn’t dress like one. If they weren’t armed like one. If they didn’t roll through like one. If they weren’t being told, and telling themselves, that they are “at war.”

And though I recognize that the police have a difficult task, they might also get a little more support from communities such as Ferguson if they were doing their job. [pioneering 19th century British law enforcement expert Sir. Robert Peel] again: “Recognize always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.”

That sound like Ferguson, Mo., to you? Or Chicago? Or Detroit? Or Los Angeles?

Related: J. Christian Adams on “‘Dehumanized’ HuffPost Reporter Ryan Reilly’s Struggle With Facts.”

And from Jim Treacher, “Mother Of The Year: Pregnant Ferguson Protestor Needs Help With Gas Mask.” (Auto-play CNN video at link.)

Love that retro tie-dyed T-shirt she’s wearing with her gas mask. Recreate ’68!

Lonesome Barry

August 18th, 2014 - 12:07 pm

Victor Davis Hanson spots Our ‘Face in the Crowd:’”

Elia Kazan’s classic A Face in the Crowd is a good primer on Barack Obama’s rise and fall. Lonesome Rhodes arises out of nowhere in the 1957 film, romancing the nation as a phony populist who serially spins yarns in the most folksy ways — confident that he should never be held to account. Kazan’s point (in the film Rhodes is a patsy for conservative business interests) is that the “folks” are fickle and prefer to be charmed rather than informed and told the truth. Rhodes’s new first name, Lonesome, resonates in the film in a way that Barack does now. Finally, an open mic captures Rhodes’s true disdain for the people he champions, and his career crashes.

Read the whole thing; A Face in the Crowd resonates in other ways — Andy Griffith’s early star turn as the manic cornpone corporatist demagogue “Lonesome Rhodes” came full circle near the end of his life, as Kathy Shaidle noted in 2010:

Usually typecast as the lovable innocent backwoods boy, Andy Griffith shocked viewers with his portrayal of Roads, an amoral drifter with a gift for gab, boundless ambition and no redeeming qualities. (That’s a true Hollywood rarity, because viewers tend to appreciate villains as long as they are charming. Perhaps only Edward G. Robinson’s stupid, humorless, sadistic Scarface (1932) character comes close to Roads in terms of sheer incorrigibility.)

Now, Griffith is shocking some folks again, many years later: he’s become a shill for Obamacare. has already done the heavy lifting in terms of, well, fact checking the claims Griffith makes in this new PSA.

But oddly enough, Media Matters et al. aren’t making any Lonesome Roads references today, even though Griffith’s new ad is more like something from A Face in the Crowd than anything Glenn Beck’s ever uttered on the air. What a surprise.

Lonesome Rhodes was inspired by the hypocrisies of Will Rogers:

After having visited Italy and interviewed Mussolini in 1926, the American humorist Will Rogers, who was informally dubbed “Ambassador-at-Large of the United States” by the National Press Club, said of the fascist dictator: “I’m pretty high on that bird.” “Dictator form of government is the greatest form of government,” Rogers wrote, “that is, if you have the right dictator.”

Griffith, apparently a life-long Democrat, made the decision to go out as his Lonesome Rhodes character, rather than beneficent public servant Sheriff Andy Taylor. As they say at David Horowitz’s Front Page

Update: Actually, I would assume the 2010-version of Griffith would have been pretty cool with this proposed reboot of his beloved 1960s sitcom.

Literally hot, considering the arson and looting going on Ferguson. In-between the end of the (first) Cold War between America and Russia and the dawn of the War on Terror, America enjoyed its brief timeout from horrible world events. The World Wide Web was ascendent, Bruce, Arnold, Harrison, Clint, Tom and Mel were producing watchable movies, and Seinfeld gave us “The Summer of George.”

Well, it was fun while it lasted. Welcome to, as Chris Stirewalt dubs at Fox News, “The Summer of LBJ:”

What’s brought the president back to town for two days in the midst of his Martha’s Vineyard vacation? It might be anything. But for now, the White House wants you to know that the president is holding meetings about two hot topics: the ongoing unrest in Ferguson, Mo. and the newly resumed U.S. war against Islamist separatists in Iraq. How do you know Team Obama wants you to know those things? Because an administration that forbids reporters from seeing even happy events is allowing journalists to observe the president talking to senior officials about these unhappy subjects today. And for this president, there could hardly be two subjects more sensitive than his reinvigorating the war he took credit for ending and for why the Democratic governor of Missouri has ordered National Guard troops to suppress race riots. It’s Obama’s Summer of LBJ: war abroad, unrest at home and a party slipping out of his grasp.

In both cases, gross overreach by a president who thought government can (a) do anything and therefore (b) should do everything led to a massive sense of malaise and dissipation amongst his fellow disillusioned socialists once reality set in.

Unlike Johnson though, who had a firm grasp on the comings and goings of Congress and the Senate, former President Obama is simply phoning it in. Or as John Hayward tweets, “I was going to make a joke about Obama being livid when he read about Ferguson in the papers, but he beat me to it.”

Oh, and speaking of the Summer of LBJ redux:

We’ve all seen this movie before. The real question is, why did people vote for a repeat?

Oceania Comes Full Circle

August 18th, 2014 - 12:00 am

“It’s hard to fathom how the president who started with the press fluffing his pillows has ended up trying to suffocate the press with those pillows.” Perhaps still coming down from overdosing on a mile high chronic-infused chocolate bar, Maureen Dowd has an all-too-rare moment of clarity:

How can he use the Espionage Act to throw reporters and whistle-blowers in jail even as he defends the intelligence operatives who “tortured some folks,” and coddles his C.I.A. chief, John Brennan, who spied on the Senate and then lied to the senators he spied on about it?

“It’s hypocritical,” Risen said. “A lot of people still think this is some kind of game or signal or spin. They don’t want to believe that Obama wants to crack down on the press and whistle-blowers. But he does. He’s the greatest enemy to press freedom in a generation.”

Risen points to recent stories about the administration pressing an unprecedented initiative known as the Insider Threat Program, which McClatchy described as “a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.”

Risen may be trapped in Ibsen, but Obama is channeling Orwell.

Which seems only fair, as that’s how his presidential bid began in early 2007, as Obama (through his campaign surrogate who created the video) compared Hillary Clinton to Big Brother from 1984. I’m certainly OK with the comparison of the woman who brought us Hillarycare, “It Takes a Village,” and the Vast Rightwing Conspiracy as Orwellian, but in retrospect, perhaps the man who would use Orwell’s 1984 — and the anti First Amendment policies of Woodrow Wilson, America’s pioneering fascist — as his toolbox might not have been the best person to deliver the message.

But then again, neither is a representative of the New York Times.