“A Dog Dressed Like Santa Zooms Around on a Roomba, and It’s Awesome,” People magazine exclaims in hyper-BuzzFeed style. I’m not sure about awesome!!!!, but it is oddly hypnotic.
OK, that truncated headline is a perennial. The full version of John Nolte’s story at Big Journalism is “Narrative Journalism Fail: HuffPo Blows Story of Last Night’s Police Shooting,” which as John notes, “took place just a few miles from Ferguson, Missouri:”
After the hoax was revealed, The Huffington Post removed the phony interview and posted a correction:
“A previous version of this story included an interview with a man claiming to have been at the scene of the shooting and friends with the deceased. As police have released statements saying the second person involved in the incident has fled the scene, the source is now suggesting he was never there.”
As of now, police officials say Martin pulled a gun on the police officer. A surveillance video appears to back the officer up.
Like the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” lie spread by a reckless and unquestioning media after the shooting death of Michael Brown at the hands of Officer Darren Wilson, the Huffington Post got it horribly wrong in an apparent rush to be the first to use the Martin shooting to further the phony and now-deadly media narrative that cops are on the hunt to kill black men.
And just as the media’s “Hands Up, Don’t, Shoot Lie” lie resulted in months of hell raining down on the predominantly black working class city of Ferguson, the Huffington Post’s recklessness (in the obvious name of Narrative Journalism) could have opened a whole new chapter of mob violence on that small city.
But then, HuffPo might as well end the year the same way the left’s media has operated throughout the year — with tragic results for all of America:
2014: the year it all blew up in the face of America’s race and rape hustlers … and did so at a terrible cost.
— John Nolte (@NolteNC) December 23, 2014
“For New York leftists, Pottersville represents a wonderful life,” Paul Mirengoff writes this week at Power Line. And indeed it does, as I wrote in my “It’s a Wonderful Fountainhead” post, originally posted last year:
From now until December 25th (and perhaps January 1st), Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life will be playing somewhere. It’s available on Blu-Ray. There’s currently a sharp-looking copy on YouTube. It will be on TV, where the film’s reputation was made during its many annual repeats; it was unexpectedly flat at the box office during its initial 1946 big screen run. And it will likely also be playing at a revival theater near you. My wife and I caught one such showing at the movie theater in San Jose’s Santana Row yesterday, which was actually the first time I had seen it on the big screen, in a beautifully remastered digital version. It was a vivid reminder that as popular as It’s a Wonderful Life is on TV, this was a film made to be seen by a large audience in a theater, and their knowing laughter during the film’s best moments — and likely, their weeping by the end of the film as we were — adds immeasurably to its impact.
The film is now a double piece of nostalgia, something not intended by its makers. Certainly Capra and company viewed its initial flashback scenes to the early 20th century, the 1928 high school dance and the 1932-era bank run, as nostalgia. But the film’s contemporary setting of post-World War II America is now almost 70 years in the rearview mirror, as are the morals of the people who made the film.
You certainly can get a sense of that merely from reading the film’s Wikipedia page, when you come to the section on how the film is viewed by leftwing urban critics today, particularly the scenes set in “Pottersville,” the segment in which small town Bedford Falls is transformed into Reno on the Hudson:
In a 2010 Salon.com piece, Richard Cohen described It’s a Wonderful Life as “the most terrifying Hollywood film ever made”. In the “Pottersville” sequence, he wrote, George is not “seeing the world that would exist had he never been born”, but rather “the world as it does exist, in his time and also in our own.”] Nine years earlier, another Salon writer, Gary Kamiya, had expressed the opposing view that “Pottersville rocks!”, adding, “The gauzy, Currier-and-Ives veil Capra drapes over Bedford Falls has prevented viewers from grasping what a tiresome and, frankly, toxic environment it is… We all live in Pottersville now.”*
The film’s elevation to the status of a beloved classic came decades after its initial release, when it became a television staple during Christmas season in the late 1970s. This came as a welcome surprise to Frank Capra and others involved with its production. “It’s the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen,” Capra told the Wall Street Journal in 1984. “The film has a life of its own now, and I can look at it like I had nothing to do with it. I’m like a parent whose kid grows up to be president. I’m proud… but it’s the kid who did the work. I didn’t even think of it as a Christmas story when I first ran across it. I just liked the idea.”In a 1946 interview, Capra described the film’s theme as “the individual’s belief in himself” and that he made it “to combat a modern trend toward atheism”.
Of course, atheism doesn’t necessarily mean socialism — even if that’s how it invariably works out (more on that later); and after the page break, allow me to reprint my 2010 post titled “It’s a Wonderful Fountainhead,” which compares Capra’s 1946 film with its very different contemporary, which was based on Ayn Rand’s novel about a young man who dreams of going to the big city, becoming an architect and building giant phallic symbols, and, unlike George Bailey, who has to reconcile never leaving his small town, succeeds on his own terms. Followed by some further thoughts and links from 2013, and a jaw-dropping moment at Wikipedia.
Not a very Christmas-themed post, but then, the idea of December being a slow news cycle has been rendered anathema in the “never let a crisis go to waste” even if you have to gin the crisis up yourself era of Mssrs. Obama and Holder. And as Charles C.W. Cooke writes at National Review Online, “What a difference party identification makes:”
Also playing this game are Media Matters (2011: rhetoric is lethal; 2014: rhetoric is harmless); the NAACP (2011: civility is crucial; 2014: civility is irrelevant); and Al Sharpton (2011: our political discourse has real consequences; 2014: such thoughts are misguided). Elsewhere, the Washington Post’s Wesley Lowery — a man who was quick to jump on Sarah Palin’s map back in 2011 — yesterday mocked the notion that words and behavior might lead to murder, while Politico’s Glenn Thrush pooh-poohed suggestions that he had once made himself. In 2011, his Twitter feed shows, Thrush treated Gabby Giffords’s shooting as “a watershed moment that will immediately redefine current debate and view of pols embracing of extreme rhetoric.” Yesterday, he shamed Governor Pataki for advancing the very same theory.
What a difference party identification makes.
Well yes. But then, it was the left that decided to collectivize guilt and race shame the American people merely for daring to vote out the Democrat majority two months before the tragic incident in Tucson, by some of the same
Democratic operatives with bylines pundits that Charles quotes in his article.
Mark Steyn in the London Spectator on that most American of songs, Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas:”
In the end, ‘White Christmas’ isn’t a song about snow. They had white Christmases in Temun, Siberia, where Berlin was born, but a white Russian Christmas wouldn’t be the same: It’s not about the weather, it’s about home. In 1942, those GIs out in the Pacific understood that. Twelve years later, building a new movie named for the song, Berlin acknowledged the men who made it special, in the best staging in the picture: Bing singing in the rubble, accompanied only by Danny Kaye’s musical box, as the boys rest their chins on their rifle butts and think of home. Berlin couldn’t have predicted Pearl Harbor, but there’s no surprise that, once it had happened, his were the sentiments the country turned to.
Christmas was not kind to Irving Berlin. At 5 o’clock on the morning of Christmas Day 1928, his 31/2-week-old son, Irving Junior, was found dead in his bassinet. ‘I’m sure,’ his daughter Mary Ellin told me a few years back, ‘it was what we would now call “crib death”.’
Does that cast ‘White Christmas’ in a different light? The plangent melancholy the GIs heard in the tune, the unsettling chromatic phrase, the eerie harmonic darkening under the words ‘where children listen’; it’s not too fanciful to suggest the singer’s dreaming of children no longer around to listen. When the girls grew up and left home, Irving Berlin, symbol of the American Christmas, gave up celebrating it. ‘We both hated Christmas,’ Mrs Berlin said later. ‘We only did it for you children.’
To take a baby on Christmas morning mocks the very meaning of the day. And to take Irving Berlin’s seems an even crueller jest — to reward his uncanny ability to articulate the sentiments of his countrymen by depriving him of the possibility of sharing them.
Berlin was a professional Tin Pan Alleyman, but his story, his Christmas is there in the music. 23 years after his death, he embodies all the possibilities of America: his family arrived at Ellis Island as poor and foreign and disadvantaged as you can be, and yet he wove himself into the very fabric of the nation. His life and his art are part of the definition of America. Whatever his doubts about God, Berlin kept faith with his adopted land — and that faith is what millions heard 70 years ago in ‘White Christmas’.
Pour yourself an eggnog and read the whole thing.
And some various and sundry Christmas-related items we’ve linked to over the years. First up, Chris Muir’s Day by Day:
From Hot Air‘s boss emeritus:
Neo-Neocon: “Twas the bloggers’ night before Christmas.”
Orrin Judd has lots of Christmas-related posts. Just keep scrolling.
From Reason TV via Instapundit, it’s Christmas, TSA-style! (Shudder.)
From Claire Berlinski at Ricochet, Happy Jewish Christmas!
And from Gabriel Malor at Ace of Spades, some parting words (at least for now) from a Mister L. van Pelt:
Update: If Santa hasn’t arrived yet, he sends his apologies for running late.
Originally posted in 2012.
Oh and reminder this year to always respect diversity as much as those obsessed with the topic respect your beliefs…
I’m okay with Christians worshiping on Christmas, but it should be quietly and out of the public eye. That’s how you respect diversity.
— Male Feminist (@Warden_AoS) December 15, 2014
Heh. But then, as that parody of the typical leftist’s thoughts about Christmas remind us, as Christopher Caldwell of the Weekly Standard wrote a decade ago to explain why “the laments of the small-town leftists get voiced with such intemperance and desperation. As if those who voice them are fighting off the nagging thought: If the Republicans aren’t particularly evil, then maybe I’m not particularly special.”
As for the rest of us, see headline atop this post.
“EXCLUSIVE: 911 operators made ‘anti-police’ remarks, causing quarrel with FDNY dispatchers as 2 NYPD cops were dying,” sources tell the New York Daily News:
A war of words erupted in the city’s 911 call center Saturday over allegations two operators made “anti-police” remarks after the assassinations of two cops, the Daily News has learned.
The fracas occurred when news broke that Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu had been shot execution-style by a deranged gunman, sources said.
The remarks were allegedly made by a couple of the 911 operators who handle NYPD calls — and two Fire Department dispatchers in earshot got heated in response, sources said.
The alleged comment that created the most friction was when one said the cops had “deserved it,” said a law enforcement source.
Even if a Republican wins the White House in 2016, good luck resetting an out of control American culture if the rot on the left is this deep and systemic. And in the meantime, linking to the above article, Ace writes, “It’s hard to claim this is all just a Few Bad Apples when you have 911 operators rooting on the murders even as the cops are bleeding out in the streets.”
And as Moe Lane adds in a post on “Black Bloc” cop-hating anarchists infecting Ferguson and other protests, “the murder of two cops was not a function of a failure of the system. It is a function of the system. And it was the more mainstream Left’s job to keep these… people… under control. But apparently nobody on the Left actually knows how to do something like that.”
According to a report via the well-connected* Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush in Politico, those commuters were not entirely unmistaken. Though de Blasio may not have felt himself entirely in league with the protest movement, he certainly sought to cater to them so as to avoid inflaming an already volatile situation.
People close to de Blasio also said he supported the Garner protesters not because he backed their position, but because he wanted to avoid antagonizing them in the wake of the grand jury decision not to indict the officer who killed Garner. Above all, one source said, de Blasio wanted to avoid provoking riots akin to the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, after a white cop shot an unarmed black man whom he later said had attacked him.**
This disconnect between America’s elected officials, who have been effectively intimidated by a small but menacing anti-law enforcement protest movement and the greater public has, in part, fueled the backlash against the mayor’s office in the wake of the execution-style murder of two NYPD officers.
In an effort to project concern, New York City’s embattled mayor requested that the city’s protesters, to whom he has extended a perhaps inappropriate level of deference over the last several weeks, to observe a moratorium on demonstrations against the NYPD until after slain Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were laid to rest. De Blasio’s appeals have gone ignored.
According to a CNN reporter who was on the scene in Brooklyn on Monday at a memorial honoring the fallen officers, a group of protesters stormed the commemorative service and began screaming at the attending officers (h/t The Blaze).
While reporting on this episode, Sara Ganim made an effort to insist that the vast majority of those who attended this memorial were supportive of the NYPD. Her efforts could not have been more thoroughly undermined, however, by the sounds of angry protesters whom she had to speak over in order to be heard.
Crashing memorials for brave men killed in the line of duty? Why, it’s as if:
#AlSharpton is the Fred Phelps of the Democratic Party. Which is quite an accomplishment, considering Fred Phelps was also a Democrat.
— Katewerk (@katewerk) December 22, 2014
* Well, that’s one way to describe them. This definition works as well.
** Why does that sound like Thrush and Haberman are attempting to cast doubt on Darren Wilson’s story? Oh right, see previous footnote.
Related: “Bill de Blasio goes after media.” As I said at the start of the month, “There’s One More Shoe Waiting to Drop.” Since the far left de Blasio likely views all of the media — New York media(!) — as being to his right, does this count as our first big right-wing media bias sighting of the post-election season? In any case, this probably won’t end well for him.
At NewsBusters, P.J. Gladnick quotes from a juicy Washingtonian article on how David Gregory — once nicknamed “Stretch” by President Bush due to his 6’5″ height — lost his swank gig as replacement for the late and sorely missed Tim Russert on NBC’s Meet the Press. Network news executive Deborah Turness, imported in 2013 from England’s ITV channel, played a large role in Gregory’s exit, but not before she engaged in classic network meddling with the show. Including — as if Gregory wasn’t enough of a reactionary leftwing dinosaur — the suggestion that “Gregory stack newspapers on his desk to give the set an intimate, coffeehouse feel.” To which Gladnick quips “How about a pile of VHS movies placed on his desk for that traditional old timey feel?” But as if Gregory wasn’t hosting a clown show already (see above photograph of Gregory’s nadir as the second coming of Network’s crazed Howard Beale, or perhaps NBC’s own Keith Olbermann), Turness’s wacky ideas would only get worse:
And she pressed the staff to book more politically active celebrities that non-white, non-male, non-senior citizens—the people who aren’t watching Meet the Press—might be drawn in by.
Gregory chafed at these changes, people close to him say, fearing they were too radical and would cheapen the brand. But he complied. On one show, rapper will.i.am joined former White House communications director Anita Dunn, Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz, columnist Kathleen Parker, and Chuck Todd for the roundtable segment. Instead of loose, as Turness wanted, the result was utterly stiff.
So, will.i.am, what is your opinion of Dodd Frank? The Quantitative Easing by the Federal Reserve? Okay, forget all that. What’s the latest dish on Beyonce?
At one point, Turness suggested that Gregory have a live band close out the show to commemorate the death of Nelson Mandela. Gregory was appalled, people close to him say. Although he recognized the need to broaden the program’s appeal to a younger, more diverse audience, he worried that Turness’s approach was about to turn Meet the Press into a political gong show.
How about Peter Pan flying around the Meet The Press set on wires to commemorate the victory of nepotism in live musical TV productions?
Suddenly, stories about the palace intrigue at Meet the Press began appearing with suspicious frequency. By March 2014, only two months into Turness’s turnaround effort, rumors that Gregory was on the chopping block had gained so much traction that he asked NBC to respond and quell them.
“I cannot be more declarative about David—[he] is our guy, is going to be our guy, and we are really happy with him,” Turness’s top lieutenant told the Huffington Post.
Translation: “Stretch is a dead duck who doesn’t know it yet.”
Gregory was becoming a spectacle, and it was clear to him, friends say, that this was no accident—someone was planting these stories in the press to discredit him. The question was who.
Do we really need to call in Sherlock Holmes to find the source?
Heh. Maybe Dan Rather, O.J., or Rolling Stone could investigate.
But Gregory’s debacle wasn’t something that happened in a vacuum, and it didn’t occur overnight. There’s a great book waiting to be written, along the lines of Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad’s Backstage History of Saturday Night Live or William McGowan’s Gray Lady Down, on the recent history of NBC and its subsidiary channels. NBC was the network in the 1980s, whose shows, from Cosby to Cheers to Miami Vice and beyond, appealed to a vast audience. Its network news division was seen as relatively fair, at least by today’s standards. During the early to mid-1990s, while Roger Ailes oversaw CNBC and the very early days of MSNBC, those channels didn’t antagonize conservative viewers. On the flagship network during the mid-1990s, Seinfeld, Friends, and Mad About You continued the winning sitcom formula. By the early “naughts” though, the dramatic events of the 2000 election, followed by 9/11, sent a psychic shock through the network, and certainly through its then-network president Jeff Zucker, these days working his “magic” with CNN. During his reign of error at NBC, the network and its subsidiary cable channels all swung increasingly to the far left, and tossed objectivity out the window, in everything from the sports programming on NBC to the rampant racist obsessions of MSNBC. When the bottom fell out in 2013, parent channel NBC finished fifth in the ratings, losing to ABC, CBS, Fox — and even to Spanish language channel Telemundo.
How this sea change in philosophy swept through a once great network and increasingly rendered it anathema to mainstream viewers would make for excellent reading, if any of its current or former executives would be willing to go on the record and explain how advocacy replaced ratings and at least the appearance of objectivity at this once great institution.
“BOMBSHELL REPORT: IRS Targeted ‘Icky’ Conservative Groups,” Patrick Howley writes at the Daily Caller. Money quote here:
4. Lois Lerner expressed her frustration about having to potentially approve a lot of groups, and her colleagues in the agency assured her that she wouldn’t have to.
“Lois [Lerner] would like to discuss our planned approach for dealing with these cases. We suspect we will have to approve the majority of the c4 applications,” IRS official Holly Paz wrote to colleagues.
IRS official Don Spellman replied, “This line in particular stood out: ‘We suspect we will have to approve the majority of c4 applications.’ That’s an interesting posture.”
Deputy Division Counsel Janine Cook replied, “[G]uess they are thinking they’ll have suspicions about reality but the paper/reps will pass muster.”
5. So the IRS reached out to outside advisers to help come up with ways to deny tax-exempt status to “icky” organizations.
“It appears that the org is funneling money to other orgs for political purposes,” a Cincinnati-based IRS agent working under Lois Lerner wrote to tax law specialist Hilary Goehausen in April 2013. ”However, I’m not sure we can deny them because, technically, I don’t know that I can deny them simply for donating to another 501(c)(4). . . . Any thoughts or feedback would be greatly appreciated.”
“I think there may be a number of ways to deny them,” Goehausen replied. “Let me talk to Sharon [Light] tomorrow about it and get some ideas from her as well. . . .This sounds like a bad org. :/ . . . This org gives me an icky feeling.”
Trust your icky feelings, Luke. You know them to be true:
“This org gives me an icky feeling.” That’s pending indictment, douchebag. #IRS
— Santa Hat (@Popehat) December 23, 2014
Perhaps the House of Repeal can take up this issue as well.
Related: “Report: IRS ‘totally politicized’ by Obamacare, targeting of Tea Party applicants,” from Mark Tapscott at the Washington Examiner.
“The apocalypse that is Hollywood gossip guru Nikki Finke may soon descend upon Washington like a dark mushroom cloud,” Betsy Rothstein writes at the Dailler caller. “The NYT reports that Politico is ‘in talks’ to bring her on as a political columnist:”
NYT Magazine writer and This Town author Mark Leibovich is all for it. “I’m for anything that injects discomfort into the system. Especially from a media platform,” he said.
But one former Politico staffer is aghast at the prospect of Finke coming to This Town.
“Nikki is brilliant but she is way more trouble than Politico needs,” the source said. “Who in that newsroom is going to have the spinal fortitude to deal with Nikki and the people she enrages routinely? Do they really want unhinged Hollywood types (including Nikki) screaming down the phone every day? Will they back her up? Let’s hope for everyone’s sake this doesn’t go through.”
That same ex-staffer referred to Finke as “so crazypants.”
When told that some former Politico staffers think a Finke addition could really work and that Politico could function under such drastically opposing viewpoints, the source replied, “WTF? Maybe they just don’t know the raging ball of crazy that is Nikki Finke. And let’s face it, Politico is not exactly safe haven for difficult women.”
I’m sure the late and sorely missed Cathy Seipp is loving this story somewhere. And it’s not the first time that the de facto Obama house organ has hired someone who was a little, um, on the edge — even by Politico standards — before. Fortunately, he didn’t last long there:
And as for crazypants? Well, Politico’s veteran columnist Roger Simon, no relation to our beneficent Maximum Pajamahadeen Emeritus, has had that base covered from time to time as well:
C’mon Politico — make this happen. And if things hit the fan between you and Nikki, we’ll be happy to BenSmith away the chaos. Trust us — just like we trust you.
— David Harsanyi (@davidharsanyi) December 22, 2014
Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin, http://is.gd/knNgl
— Markos Moulitsas (@markos) January 8, 2011
Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin, http://is.gd/knNgl
— Male Feminist (@Warden_AoS) December 22, 2014
Huffpo: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords certainly thought Sarah Palin’s map was relevant to the threat of violence. http://t.co/0XmoJ68AjH
— Male Feminist (@Warden_AoS) December 22, 2014
— Matthew (@Matthops82) December 21, 2014
“Where is the Left that was concerned about what unstable people might make of violent political rhetoric?”, John Sexton asks at Big Journalism. “Why are they silent now, when it seems what they claimed they feared may actually have happened?”
To ask the questions are to answer them.
Dropping heavily in its second weekend was the Biblical epic Exodus: Gods and Kings which took in an estimated $8M this weekend a drop of… 66.6% from last weekend. You can’t make this stuff up folks. Any slight change up or down would make that percentage change as well but still, it’s almost as if someone planned it. The cume for Exodus now stands at $39M with a final total in the $55M range likely.
“Exodus, Stage Left,” John Podhoretz quipped in the headline of his review of Ridley Scott’s latest film at the Weekly Standard:
Raise your hand if you want to see Moses portrayed as an insurgent lunatic terrorist with a bad conscience, the pharaoh who sought the murder of all first-born Hebrew slaves as a nice and reasonable fellow, and God as a foul-tempered 11-year-old boy with an English accent.
All right, I see a few hands raised, though maybe they belong to people who are still demonstrating about Ferguson. So let me ask you this: How many of you want to see how Hollywood has taken the story of the Hebrew departure from ancient Egypt—by far the most dramatic tale in the world’s most enduring book—and turned it into a joyless, dull, turgid bore?
I don’t know when I’ve seen a movie as self-destructively misconceived as Exodus: Gods and Kings, the director Ridley Scott’s $200-million retelling of the Moses story that has as much chance of making $200 million at the American box office as Ted Cruz has of winning the District of Columbia in the November 2016 election.
For one thing, Exodus: Gods and Kings is jaw-droppingly offensive in the way it bastardizes its source material. The God of Sh’mot, the second book of the Torah, manifests Himself in many ways—as the burning bush, as a cloud that follows the Hebrews on their journey, as rain and fire, even as a trumpet blast. But he most certainly does not manifest as a human being, since the incorporeality of the divine is a central feature of Jewish theology, the third of Maimonides’ 13 principles of faith. I know Jews make up only 2 percent of the U.S. population and are therefore not collectively a box-office consideration—but if you’re going to make a movie out of their holy book, shouldn’t you, I don’t know, be careful not to throw the holy book into the garbage can?
Well, yes; it’s not hard to understand what went wrong. While the motley young Turks who replaced the old guard in Hollywood in the 1960s had widely varied backgrounds, though with the exception of John Milius, identical left-leaning politics, as filmmakers, they shared one trait in common. As Peter Biskind wrote in Easy Riders Raging Bulls, they loved themselves plenty of genre deconstruction. On the surface, Warren Beatty’s Bonnie & Clyde was a rerun of a 1930s Warner Brothers gangster picture, but in the post-Hays Code 1960s, this time around, the gangsters were the good guys, and the cops and bankers the enemy.
Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper’s Easy Rider subverted both the Roger Corman biker films of the 1960s, and John Ford’s westerns, to create a beautifully photographed American Southwest, albeit one filled with xenophobes terrified of two hippies on their Harley Davidsons and their football helmeted lawyer. (A few years later, Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles would really deconstruct the western and pummel it into the ground for good.) Jack Nicholson’s Chinatown is on the surface, a Sam Spade-style private eye film, but its environmental subtext argues that Los Angeles should never have been built.
In the “United States of Anxiety,” Kevin D. Williamson of NRO writes:
Liberal, open societies are always vulnerable to encroachments from illiberal forces with sufficient motivation, whether it’s the totalitarians in Pyongyang, the ones in Riyadh, or the ones in Cambridge, Mass. That’s especially true when elites lose their confidence in such liberal principles as free speech and freedom of conscience. As soon as you accept the premise that a person’s right to free speech (or a professor’s ability to conduct his class) is circumscribed by another person’s “right” not to be offended, then you have jettisoned principle entirely, and all that’s left is brute-force negotiation — a situation in which the partisans of liberty and humaneness always find themselves lamentably outnumbered. And if we’ve learned anything from the waning days of Harry Reid, during which Senate Democrats attempted to repeal the First Amendment, it is that our own elites do not have very much confidence in traditional American liberalism.
In “Collectivism and the presumption of guilt,” Red State’s John Hayward rounds up the First Lady’s then-and-now flashbacks of her 2011 trip to Target, Samuel L. Jackson’s cry of racism in the deaths of petty criminals Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the Australian “I’ll Ride With You” journalistic fable and similar stories and concludes:
What all of these stories, and so many others, have in common is the assumption of bad faith by liberals, who claim they can read the minds of everyone from dinner-party guests to society at large and detect the dark secret impulses seething beneath every word and deed. The worst bad motives are assumed for every action, including something as harmless as a short woman asking a taller department-store patron to grab a box of detergent off the top shelf for her. If events that cannot be construed as social-justice crimes are not ready to hand, the liberal will simply invent them, transforming lies into Deeper Truth with the magical power of leftist ideology. We’re even presumed guilty of crimes no one actually committed, most notably the horrible “anti-Muslim backlash” that never actually happens after Muslim terrorists commit atrocities.
This presumption of guilt is absolutely crucial to collectivism. The Left must teach its subjects to think of themselves as criminals. That’s the only way law-abiding people will endure levels of coercive power that would normally require specific accusations, a fair trial, and the possibility of appeals. Social-justice “crimes” can be prosecuted without any of those things. There is no appeal from the sentence, and no statute of limitations on the crimes, as any left-winger who thinks today’s American citizens need to suffer for the historical offense of slavery will be happy to explain to you. There’s no evidence you can present in your defense, for the Left has read your mind, and knows better than you what demons lurk in its recesses.
This is one reason the Left dislikes the trappings of constitutional law and order.
And increasingly, through once-respected journalistic outlets such as the New York Times, Time Magazine, the Washington Post and NBC, they’re not afraid to admit it.
“Time Magazine warned of a growing threat to cops nationwide in September 2010,” Scott Greer writes at the Daily Caller today, one of many visits to the memory hole that conservatives are doing today, to remind readers of just how paranoid the left were from mid-2009 when the Tea Party movement first swept the country, until their orgy of anti-right wing rhetoric in the wake of the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords* by an apolitical lunatic. As Greer noted, “The nationally renowned publication argued that sinister individuals would launch targeted attacks against police officers and even ambush them in their patrol cars…Who are these groups that present such a threat to police? Right-wing militias, according to Time.” At the end of his article, Greer notes:
The author specifically warns that these groups pose an imminent threat to law enforcement officials and should be closely monitored. Gellman relies heavily on a retracted 2009 DHS report — simply titled “Rightwing Extremism” — for his finding. That very same report was quickly pulled by the DHS after its release and was widely criticized for claiming that ordinary citizens upset by the election of President Barack Obama pose a danger to the country.
Since the article’s publication, there have hardly been any reported cases of violence stemming from individuals connected to the militia movement. There is one possible case from June of this year, but it could not be determined whether the two killers in the Las Vegas shooting spree had any connections with militia groups.
Meanwhile, the suspected gunman behind the Saturday ambush of two New York City police officers was certainly not a right-wing militant. Ismaaiyl Brinsley was reportedly a member of the notorious prison gang, the Black Guerrilla Family, which espouses a mix of black nationalism and Marxism. The gang declared “open season” on NYPD officers earlier in December following the non-indictment of the officer involved in the death of Eric Garner. (RELATED: Suspect In NYPD Cop Execution Sought Revenge For Mike Brown And Eric Garner)
A thorough search of Time’s archive produced no stories about the threat that communists, black nationalists or prison gangs pose to police.
Until this past summer, Time magazine was owned by Time-Warner-CNN-HBO. CNN would hire admitted communist and 9/11 truther Van Jones to co-host Crossfire, (a brand name the network reviewed despite their pledge in January of 2011 to cease using gun-related language) and Piers Morgan to aggressively push their radical anti-Second Amendment agenda. Jones would later go on to demagogue the Ferguson riots last month while on location for CNN.
* And a federal judge appointed by George H.W. Bush, usually forgotten by the left because he didn’t fit the requirements needed to advance their anti-GOP narrative.
In 1987, while I was still living in New Jersey, I watched Al Sharpton’s initial TV debut in 1987 on the infamous Morton Downey Jr. Show on WWOR, and read in horror as he orchestrated the even more infamous Tawana Brawley hoax that same year. In 1991, I reead about the Crown Heights riots, where, as Jay Nordlinger wrote, “A rabbinical student, Yankel Rosenbaum, was lynched. Over a hundred others were injured.” So I was more than a little horrified to watch Sharpton transform into “Al Sharpton, Power Dem,” as Nordlinger dubbed him in 2000, when Democrat presidential candidates Bill Bradley and Al Gore felt obligated to make the trek to Sharpton’s office and kiss his, err, ring.
And then there was MSNBC a decade later. The Comcast-owned cable network began 2011 vowing a new tone of civility (no really) and comparing gun and violence-related metaphors to the N-Word. That was in January. By August of that same year, MSNBC was demonstrating its commitment to the Era of New Civility and Measured Discourse by giving Al Sharpton his own show. Even New York magazine noted early on that Sharpton’s “biggest opponent so far” was the teleprompter, and in the years since, Sharpton’s nightly “Resist we much!” battle with the teleprompter has become the stuff of legend.
But that didn’t stop Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC from telling NPR that “I’ve known [Sharpton] 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.” And curiously, the NPR anchor was apparently non-horrified at that thought.
But today, after Sharpton-led protests have lead to an escalating spiral of violence culminating last night in the death of two NYPD patrolmen, Peter Ingemi, writing at his Da Tech Guy Blog, has had enough:
You might say, “But DaTechGuy Mr. Sharpton has 1st Amendment rights” indeed he does, but said right does not extend to a programing on MSNBC, if that was the case then I would demand one myself.
I call upon the network to immediately “suspend” Mr. Sharpton and remove his show from their lineup.
It is their network and they of course have the perfect right to ignore my call for this action, conversely I have the perfect right to express my opinion that a failure to do so is a direct endorsement of the events of Saturday afternoon by MSNBC and by their parent company Comcast and consumers should act accordingly.
The Comcast contact page is here.
You can contact MSNBC here.
Or perhaps you might choose to contact their advertisers, I’m sure they must be delighted to have their brands associated with the face of the anti-police movement at this time.
Closing thought, If Comcast decides the Rev Al is a liability & removes him from MSNBC & said reverend’s followers quit the network in protest, would anyone be left watching?
Presumably, Phil Griffin believed that hiring Sharpton was a Corleone-level masterstroke: by having Sharpton on the NBC payroll, he’s not very likely to defenestrate another NBC or MSNBC anchor as he did to then MSNBC-star Don Imus in 2007. But Griffin had to know that he was making a Faustian bargain by hiring Sharpton.
However, reasonable people can disagree with Ingemi as to whether or not Sharpton should be dumped in the rapidly escalating wake of the violent protests Sharpton helped gin up. As with past anchors Keith Olberman at his must lunatic, Alec Baldwin at his most violent, and Martin Bashir at his most scatological, Al Sharpton is the spokesman for MSNBC — and Comcast — right now. After all, Sharpton is “all the things” its network president thinks “that MSNBC is.” as the network’s president says. And he’s a powerful daily reminder of just much hatred lurks in the hearts of the left:
I WANT Al Sharpton to stay on MSNBC. I want him to be the FACE of NBC. I want people to think Al Sharpton whenever anyone mentions NBC.
— SmallgGay (@SmallgGay) December 21, 2014
Can the mayor of New York govern without the support of the police? We’re finding out right now, Roger Kimball writes:
Consider this exchange, overheard yesterday at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn:
De Blasio: “We’re all in this together.”
Unnamed police officer: “No we’re not.”
This was after police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, shot by a crazed black Muslim named Ismaaiyl Brinsley, had been pronounced dead but before the mayor and his entourage made their way through a hospital corridor jammed with police who turned their backs on the mayor, shunning him.
On December 3, in the aftermath of the death of Eric Garner, who died of a heart attack after resisting arrest, the mayor held a press conference and told the world that he worried that his biracial son Dante might be the victim of police brutality. “I’ve had to worry over the years,” de Blasio said, “Is Dante safe each night? And not just from some of the painful realities of crime and violence in some of our neighborhoods but safe from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors.”
“What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!”
They got their wish.
It was during that pacific event that two police lieutenants were, as the New York Post reported, viciously attacked by a mob. The mayor described the attack as “an incident . . . in which a small group of protesters allegedly assaulted some members of the NYPD.”
When my wife asked me last night why the NYPD loathe de Blasio so much, I quipped that as a young man, he read Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic as a how-to guide. I was being glib, but didn’t realize how close to the mark that was until I read this link later in Roger’s post, to a September 25th article in the New York Post titled “Top adviser to de Blasio dates a cop-bashing killer:”
A top adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio is in a live-in relationship with a convicted killer and drug trafficker who considers police officers “pigs” and continues to get into serious scrapes with the law, public records show.
For six years, Rachel Noerdlinger, who serves as chief of staff to first lady Chirlane McCray, has been living with boyfriend Hassaun McFarlane, sources told The Post.
While McCray, accompanied by Noerdlinger, enjoys attending high-level NYPD CompStat meetings, her top aide’s boyfriend has plenty of serious crime stats of his own — a rap sheet that includes homicide, conspiring to run a cocaine operation, and nearly running a cop off the road in Edgewater, NJ, last year in an incident that was later pleaded down to disorderly conduct.
Still, the administration is sticking by him, despite what DNAinfo.com, which broke the story, described as online posts — since taken down — in which he repeatedly called cops “pigs.”
Classy stuff. But still though, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the left in January of 2011, there’s no way you can attack a single organization for the crazed actions and statements of its more extreme members. Or non-members.
Or its clip art.
Update: And speaking of radical chic:
Public defenders appear in ‘kill cops’ rap video | New York Post – http://t.co/xnolKfYGe0
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) December 21, 2014
The two officers [Wenjin Liu & Rafael Ramos] were pronounced dead at Woodhull Hospital, where their colleagues and family members huddled tearfully.
City Council President Melissa Mark-Viverito and Mayor Bill de Blasio were less than welcome guests at the poignant gathering.
“We’re all in this together,” the mayor told grieving cops, according to a cop who was there.
“No we’re not,” one officer said tersely in response.
—“Gunman executes 2 NYPD cops as ‘revenge’ for Garner,” the New York Post, today.
Incidentally the phrase “We’re all in this together” has echoes back to Terry Gilliam’s dystopian masterpiece Brazil, where it was a frequently-uttered slogan. Presumably de Blasio views the movie as a how-to guide to good government. Gilliam certainly does these days.
And at Instapundit, the “Tweet of the Year.”
1 New York police officer killed in shooting, 1 injured; suspected shooter commits suicide, his motive unclear http://t.co/P36gCk8xhf
— The Boston Globe (@BostonGlobe) December 20, 2014
That’s the shot (literally, alas). Here’s the chaser:
— jon gabriel (@exjon) December 20, 2014
Twitchy has a round-up of initial “f*** the pigs”-style tweets from those expressing sympathy for the shooter and his “unclear” motives, a a thoroughly depressing but necessary archive, as some will likely be deleted upon further consideration.
CNN Guest: ‘Al Sharpton got what he wanted.” http://t.co/bN57RbfMtz
— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) December 20, 2014
More from Rick Moran at the PJ Tatler.
Hey, remember when December used to be a slow month for news? But with the MSM and Hollywood committing Seppuku on multiple fronts (mass resignations at TNR, Rolling Stone’s UVa rape fable, and Sony’s eagerness to surrender to both North Korea and Al Sharpton), it’s been quite a month in the media wreckage business.
When Chris Hughes imploded the New Republic to kick December off, I wrote:
Incidentally, earlier in her article, [Bloomberg's Megan McArdle] writes, “But even by my profession’s cinematic standards, [Chris Hughes' TNR debacle] is going to be one for the Criterion Classics collection.” Heh. If a decent comedy screenwriter could be found, it would certainly make for a great made-for-TV movie along the lines of HBO’s The Late Shift or its likely inspiration, Larry Gelbart’s satiric 1993 adaptation of Barbarians at the Gate.
In the meantime, a riveting documentary about a magazine with an eccentric plutocratic socialist leader and aggrieved staff exists already: The September Issue, on Vogue magazine in 2007. It really does have a Last Days of Pompeii feel to it, seeing as it was filmed a year before the housing bubble blew up the economy, followed by Barack Obama getting to work at fundamentally transforming America to a standard that TNR could finally give its blessing to.
Today at NewsBusters, Jeffrey Lord asks, “Will Seth Rogen and Hollywood Make the Movie on the Sony Cave-In?”
So now that the North Koreans are taunting Sony and all of Hollywood, rubbing their face in this, isn’t it time for Rogen and all of Hollywood to pull together and stand up for the First Amendment? For creative expression? Doing this by making the Sony counterpart of the Edward Snowden film being made by Oliver Stone? Sending a defiant response to North Korea and tyrants everywhere not just from Seth Rogen but the entire American film industry?
If ever there is a film that begs to be made — with an entire industry that should be leaping to lend their talents — it would be the story of Sony, Seth Rogen’s film and the terrorists of North Korea’s Communist dictatorship.
Or is it just those who reveal US government secrets that Hollywood chooses for cinematic glory? The hypocrisy coming out of Hollywood is so thick it would take a chain saw to even make the first surface cut.
As Lord writes, “don’t bet the rent that this film will ever be made,” and of course he’s right. For one thing, it would expose, as Lord writes, Tinseltown’s utter hypocrisy on the issues of hacking and doxing:
But when it comes to, say, US government secrets? Oliver Stone is on the job with an as yet untitled film glorifying Edward Snowden, with Snowden already the subject of the documentary Citizenfour. Steven Spielberg is on the job with The Fifth Estate, glamorizing Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and starring Hollywood’s latest heartthrob Benedict Cumberbatch. And don’t forget the 2003 TV movie starring James Spader as Daniel Ellsberg in The Pentagon Papers.
The reviews of those upcoming films by Stone and Spielberg write themselves, don’t they? But it’s too bad that there may never be a documentary about Sony’s implosion, as film about a film studio being hacked, having racist emails published, shelving a film to appease Kim Jong-Il, and then turning around and handing their hoden in a lockbox to Al Sharpton would be an incredible film, whether it’s a documentary or a swinging Late Shift-style satiric farce.*
As the late Gene Siskel famously said, “I always ask myself, ‘Is the movie that I am watching as interesting as a documentary of the same actors having lunch together?’” And this would make for a much more compelling 90 minutes than that. But unfortunately, modern Hollywood probably lacks both the brains and the hodens to make it.
“When the Pillsbury Doughboy from Hell tries to tell us what kind of movies we can make or see, the only honorable response is ‘Go f**k yourself,’” Jonah Goldberg writes in the latest edition of the G-File, which imports the potentially trendsetting phrase “hoden angst” into America:
I made a similar point in my review of Dinesh D’Souza’s book The Enemy at Home years ago. D’Souza argued — plausibly! — that the Western decadence celebrated by the Left made it harder to win over socially conservative Muslims abroad. I think he’s right; I just don’t care. I think Miley Cyrus’s prime-time slatternly gyrations are an embarrassment and a sign of a real sickness in our culture. But if such behavior makes a bunch of murderous fanatics want to blow up Americans, that’s on them. As I wrote in the CRB:
. . . In short, D’Souza is right that the bawdy spectacle of Hollywood and the Left sometimes makes America’s job harder.
But here’s my primary objection: I don’t care. There’s something about The Enemy at Home that gets the Irish up, even in a guy named Goldberg. I can criticize and complain about my brother all I like, but if my brother bothers somebody outside the family, well, that’s just too bad. Similarly, Ted Kennedy may or may not be a Caligulan carbuncle, but if the jihadists want to behead him for it, they’ll have to get through me first. In short, if our debauchery fuels Islamic terrorists to kill us, the blame for that still resides entirely with the terrorists. One can wholeheartedly agree that some Americans make poor use of their freedom, and that certain behavior shouldn’t be promoted, but that’s our problem. And if it makes it harder for us to make our case to the Muslim world, then harder it must be.
The collective U.S. response to North Korea’s assault on Sony has been disgusting and dispiriting. I don’t think we should bomb North Korea over this (and not because I am against bombing North Korea per se, but because I think the costs of doing so outweigh the benefits), but the correct response is to flip Kim Jong-un the bird. What form that bird-flipping would take is open to debate. I’d like it if the TV networks all ran The Interview at the same time. I’d like Barack Obama to call the leaders of the House and Senate to a private screening of The Interview at the White House, just like Woodrow Wilson did with Birth of a Nation. Let’s play the thing on the Jumbotron in Times Square. Simply put, I want America to have some balls about this kind of thing. Instead we’re paralyzed with hoden angst.
(Quick explanation: I had a friend in college who told me about his high-school football or track coach, I can’t remember which. The coach was from Germany. He used to berate the boys about their fear of getting hit in their giggleberries. He would shout at them, “You must get over your hoden angst.” “Hoden” in German means “testicles.” Angst means fear, worry, anxiety. After we heard this term, a bunch of us would, in our best Schwarzeneggerian/SNL accents, walk around telling each other “Girly man, you must lose your hoden angst!” (Other friends of mine briefly named their band “Hoden Angst”) (“I’m losing track of all the parentheticals,” — The Couch)).
As far as worrying about American debauchery angering our enemies, it’s utterly impossible to appease them, as Mark Steyn noted at the start of the month, almost three weeks before co-chairman Scott Rudin and others at Sony caved over its Seth Rogan comedy and Paramount pulled its own (coincidentally?) Scott Rudin-produced 2004 film, Team America, World Police:
A few decades back, a young middle-class Egyptian spending some time in the US had the misfortune to be invited to a dance one weekend and was horrified at what he witnessed:
The room convulsed with the feverish music from the gramophone. Dancing naked legs filled the hall, arms draped around the waists, chests met chests, lips met lips . . .
Where was this den of debauchery? Studio 54 in the 1970s? Haight-Ashbury in the summer of love? No, the throbbing pulsating sewer of sin was Greeley, Colorado, in 1949. As it happens, Greeley, Colorado, in 1949 was a dry town. The dance was a church social. And the feverish music was “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” as introduced by Esther Williams in “Neptune’s Daughter.” Revolted by the experience, Sayyid Qutb decided that America (and modernity in general) was an abomination, returned to Egypt, became the leading intellectual muscle in the Muslim Brotherhood, and set off a chain that led from Qutb to Zawahiri to bin Laden to the Hindu Kush to the Balkans to 9/11 to the brief Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt to the Islamic State marching across Syria and Iraq. Indeed, Qutb’s view of the West is the merest extension of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” — America as the ultimate seducer, the Great Satan.
I’m a reasonable chap, and I’d be willing to meet the Muslim Brotherhood chaps halfway on a lot of the peripheral stuff like beheadings, stonings, clitoridectomies and whatnot. But you’ll have to pry “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” from my cold dead hands and my dancing naked legs. A world without “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” would be very cold indeed.
Of course, for Sony, things have only gotten worse: in addition to appeasing the likes of Kim Jong-un (let alone the successors to Sayyid Qutb), as Roger L. Simon writes today, Sony Pictures has just knuckled under to an equally powerful enemy of America: Al Sharpton.
No wonder Sony is so full of angst — in the course of one week from hell, they’ve surrendered the entirety of their hoden.