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Ed Driscoll

Ride the SJW Mobius Loop!

December 27th, 2014 - 6:28 pm

“ESPN Site Compares Michael Sam’s Gay Kiss to Iconic Victory Over Japan Photo,” Tim Graham writes at NewsBusters:

Oprah Winfrey’s documentary on gay NFL tryout (and washout) Michael Sam airs on Saturday night. Secular leftist journalists and gay activists desperately wanted a happier story line than the one that unfolded. What was pitched a Major Historical Moment vanished into put-on-waivers obscurity.

Bryan Curtis at ESPN’s Grantland site compared the Sam kiss, carefully choreographed for the ESPN cameras by ESPN activists (what other seventh-rounder has a camera crew?), to Victory Over Japan in 1945:

How’d you feel when you saw the kiss? You know the one I mean. If I weren’t such a jaded soul, I’d call it the V-J Day photo of 2014. Michael Sam, the defensive end who’d just been drafted by the St. Louis Rams, turns to his boyfriend, Vito Cammisano, and kisses him. Right on the mouth. Right in front of the world. Jaded soul, right? Not at that moment. I forgot all about the NFL’s long history of coded bigotry and imagined we were on a Devin Hester glide path into the future.

Is Curtis implying that Sam sexually assaulted his boyfriend? Because in 2012, that’s what one of his fellow socialist justice warriors, in this case, serving in the radical feminist corps, specifically the “everything is rape” division, declared was occurring in the legendary photograph he referred to:

A few facts have come to light. Far from being a kiss between a loving couple, we learn that George and Greta were perfect strangers. We learn that George was drunk, and that Greta had no idea of his presence, until she was in his arms, with his lips on hers.

The articles even give us Greta’s own words:

“It wasn’t my choice to be kissed. The guy just came over and grabbed!”

“I did not see him approaching, and before I knew it, I was in this vice grip. [sic]“

“You don’t forget this guy grabbing you.”

“That man was very strong. I wasn’t kissing him. He was kissing me.”

It seems pretty clear, then, that what George had committed would be considered sexual assault by modern standards. Yet, in an amazing feat of willful blindness, none of the articles comment on this, even as they reproduce Greta’s words for us. Without a single acknowledgement of the problematic nature of the photo that her comments reveal, they continue to talk about the picture in a whimsical, reverent manner, “still mesmerized by his timeless kiss.” George’s actions are romanticized and glorified; it is almost as if Greta had never spoken.

I miss the days when football was merely football, and the end of World War II was merely the end of World War II. But then, as Ace noted in his link to the 2012 SJW attempt to craft a “rape narrative” around the legendary V-J Day photo, strange things happen when narratives collide, cultures enter their decadent Weimar/Frankfurt School phase and past icons are deconstructed by the socialist left and reshaped into metaphors to advance their current cultural agendas.

Update: Gee, I didn’t think this post was that cryptic as these things go, but still, I always leave the final interpretation to the readers:

To borrow from Stanley Kubrick on one reviewer’s take on Dr. Strangelove, “I would not think of quarreling with your interpretation nor offering any other, as I have found it always the best policy to allow the [blog] to speak for itself.”

Death Wish VI: On the Turning Away

December 27th, 2014 - 5:11 pm



Ten years ago, Dan Henninger of the Wall Street Journal wrote that a then-recent issue of the Sunday Times “asked famous New Yorkers to identify New York’s golden age. At least four identified the 1970s as the golden age:”

This is worth notice because in the 1970s banks said New York had spun its credit rating into dross and refused to lend more money to a city whose accumulated deficit reached $8 billion. Today its budget office reports that starting in FY2006, per-annum deficits for three years will be $3.7 billion, $4.5 billion and $3.7 billion. There is a mayoral election this November when we’ll get the opinion of all New Yorkers on the city’s current alchemists. But perhaps we should regard the famous Times’ commentators yearning for the 1970s as canaries in the gold-plated mine shaft.

The actor John Leguizamo: New York in the ’70s “was funky and gritty and showed the world how a metropolis could be dark and apocalyptic and yet fecund.” Fran Lebowitz, a contributing editor for Vanity Fair: The city “was a wreck; it was going bankrupt. And it was pretty lawless; everything was illegal, but no laws were enforced. It was a city for city-dwellers, not tourists, the way it is now.” Laurie Anderson, a well-known New York artist and performer, admits the ’70s were considered “the dark ages” but “there was great music and everyone was broke.”

* * * * * * * *

One of the better-known artifacts in the archaeology of New York is the movie “Death Wish.” Released in 1974, it stars Charles Bronson as a Manhattan liberal who snaps under the burden of New York’s violence and goes into the subways to mow down thugs the cops can’t or won’t catch. Back then the city’s audiences cheered and screamed as Bronson smashed one civil-liberties platitude after another.

Peter Hall, in his magisterial study of history’s great urban centers, “Cities in Civilization,” remarks offhandedly that “not for nothing did New York develop so rapidly after the first subways . . . brought their trains into the center of Manhattan.” The subways, of course, aren’t for the tourists but for unwealthy city-dwellers. Starting in 1970, fires, collisions and derailments routinely wrecked New York’s subways, injuring and even killing passengers. In August 1973, a chunk of concrete fell from the roof of the IRT Steinway tunnel and killed a passenger. A 1975 fire trapped 12,000 evening rush-hour passengers. But the cars were colorful. They were covered with graffiti, celebrated by Norman Mailer in a famously provocative paean to the graffiti painters.

The ’70s golden-agers in the Times story don’t deny what was going on then–but they kind of miss it. The photographer Mary Ellen Mark remembers “it was a time of costume and excitement, a time of youth and great energy.” Caleb Carr, the novelist of old-time New York, thinks the city has been “sterilized by the Giuliani years.” He says that “like a troublesome child taking Ritalin, New York may be more manageable now, but it has also sacrificed its personality.”

These comments raise the question of just what liberalism believes makes a city great or even golden, rather than just . . . interesting.

As New York reverts back to the era of Bronson’s Paul Kersey and DeNiro’s Travis Bickle, we’re all about to find out — and not just Manhattan’s SoHo bobo class, but its citizens who lead far less cossetted lives. As Heather Mac Donald noted this past week, “thousands of black men are alive today who would have been killed years ago had data-driven policing not brought down the homicide levels of the early 1990s.”

And note that the left is having a meltdown over the NYPD turning their backs en masse on New York’s tyro far left, radical chic-loving mayor. We’ve seen this panic before from Democrats and their operatives with bylines haven’t we?

Why, yes we have.

Update:Oof: Bill de Blasio spurned by NYPD at Rafael Ramos funeral.

Time for Comcast-NBC to Fire Al Sharpton

December 27th, 2014 - 12:50 pm
“Happy New Year,” Jeffrey Lord of NewsBusters proffers to Comcast-NBC. “Now do yourself and your company a favor and fire the man identified by Mediaite as ..really…’the most powerful man in America.’ Who would that be, as described here, exactly? ‘Outside of the president, Al Sharpton might possibly be the most powerful man in America right now:’”

And — drumroll, please — Power Indicator # 4 is that “Unlike the rest of us, he’s excused from paying taxes.” The latter point stunningly correct, Sharpton’s massive unpaid tax bills clearly one big no-never-mind to even the president himself.

But to the point here the most important indicator of Sharpton’s power, as noted by Concha with what seems to be unerring accuracy, is Power Indicator # 3, Sharpton’s hour-long nightly show on MSNBC. Not only is Sharpton a lousy, painful-to-watch TV host, his ratings are somewhere below the cellar, losing his time slot regularly and worse than badly to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and, of course, to Fox’s Bret Baier. Yet there is not a hint that Sharpton’s show will get the axe from the network.  And why might that be? In Concha’s perceptive words;

“So if the ratings are bad and the delivery even worse, why and how does Sharpton still have a program on the air? Answer: Because Comcast and NBC — and this is just an educated guess — must be petrified to fire him (by, yes, the race card being turned against them). Remember, Sharpton gave his crucial blessing to the Comcast/NBC Universal merger a few years back. Not long after, he was magically given his own show at 6:00 p.m. on MSNBC. Reciprocity at its finest.”


Not since President Woodrow Wilson used the White House to showcase the film Birth of a Nation has such a stark reveal existed between progressive leaders, their media camp followers, and their joint and constant need to play the race card — use out and out racism –  for everything from getting votes to ratings or audience support.

But surely somebody has to wonder whether Comcast/NBC will now allow themselves to be portrayed as the network that gives TV hosting duties to a man accused by no less than a former New York City police commissioner (among others) of having blood on his hands after the killing of two New York City policemen in the wake of the Eric Garner grand jury decision. Specifically, former Commissioner Bernard Kerik lumped Sharpton specifically in with New York Mayor de Blasio when he said of the assassinations of the two NYPD cops:

“De Blasio, Sharpton and all those who encouraged this anti-cop, racist mentality all have blood on their hands. They have blood on their hands.”

If all of the above wasn’t enough, there’s also the unseemly nature of a Comcast-NBC anchorman critiquing another corporation’s media output. Back in the mid-naughts, when Howard Kurtz and Mickey Kaus were both employed by divisions of the Washington Post, Kaus frequently pointed out the potential conflict of interest for Howard Kurtz hosting a weekly TV show critiquing the mistakes and excesses of the MSM on CNN while being employed by the Post. (Not to mention soft-pedaling scandals involving the brass at CNN.)

Kurtz’s wearing of multiple hats had nothing on Sharpton being a potential one-man Hays Office passing judgement over Sony Pictures.

(Slogan in above mock MSNBC ad supplied by network president Phil Griffin.)

2014: The Year of the Imploding Narrative

December 27th, 2014 - 9:45 am

Ever since the days of Watergate, at least on the level of the national media’s overculture, America has had very little pure journalism, but loads of narratives being advanced by the left. But these can only be pushed so far before they overreach. 2014 was the year a lot of leftwing narratives overreached very, very badly, with occasionally exceedingly ugly results for those at the center of them. At Reason, Cathy Young describes 2014 as “The Year the Crusade Against ‘Rape Culture’ Stumbled:”

Kingkade also suggests that the numbers are beside the point, since the effort to combat campus sexual assault is about people, not statistics—specifically, “about students who said they were wronged by their schools after they were raped.” Of course every rape is a tragedy, on campus or off—all the more if the victim finds no redress. But if it happens to one in five women during their college years, this is not just a tragedy but a crisis that arguably justifies emergency measures—which is why proponents of sweeping new policies have repeatedly invoked these scary numbers. (Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, has now had the one-in-five figure removed from her website.) And while the stories told by students are often compelling, it is important to remember that they are personal narratives which may or may not be factual.  Only last June, Emily Renda, a UVA graduate and activist who now works at the school, included Jackie’s story—under the pseudonym “Jenna”—in her testimony before a Senate committee.

Of course this is not to suggest that most such accounts are fabricated; but they are also filtered through subjective experience, memory, and personal bias. Yet, for at least three years, these stories been accorded virtually uncritical reception by the mainstream media. When I had a chance to investigate one widely publicized college case—that of Brown University students Lena Sclove and Daniel Kopin—for a feature in The Daily Beast, the facts turned out to bear little resemblance to the media narrative of a brutal rape punished with a slap on the wrist.

Now, in what may be another sign of turning tides, the accused in another high-profile case is getting his say. The New York Times has previously given ample coverage to Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University student famous for carrying around a mattress to protest the school’s failure to expel her alleged rapist. Now, it has allowed that man, Paul Nungesser, to tell his story—a story of being ostracized and targeted by mob justice despite being cleared of all charges in a system far less favorable to the accused than criminal courts. No one knows whether Sulkowicz or Nungesser is telling the truth; but the media have at last acknowledged that there is another side to this story.

Will 2015 see a pushback against the anti-”rape culture” movement on campus? If so, good. This is a movement that has capitalized on laudable sympathy for victims of sexual assault to promote gender warfare, misinformation and moral panic. It’s time for a reassessment.

Another myth of the left is also long overdue for a reassessment, when, as Heather Mac Donald writes at City Journal, “The Big Lie of the Anti-Cop Left Turns Lethal:”

Protesters’ willingness to overlook anti-cop homicidal intent surfaced again in St. Louis in November. A teen criminal who had shot at the police was killed by an officer in self-defense; he, too, joined the roster of heroic black victims of police racism. This sanctification of would-be black cop-killers would prove prophetic. The elites were playing with fire. It’s profoundly irresponsible to stoke hatred of the police, especially when the fuel used for doing so is a set of lies. Hatred of the police among blacks stems in part from police brutality during this country’s shameful era of Jim Crow-laws and widespread discrimination. But it is naïve not to recognize that criminal members of the black underclass despise the police because law enforcement interferes with their way of life. The elites are oblivious both to the extent of lawlessness in the black inner city and to its effect on attitudes toward the cops. Any expression of contempt for the police, in their view, must be a sincere expression of a wrong.

Cop-killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who assassinated NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos on Saturday, exemplified everything the elites have refused to recognize: he was a gun-toting criminal who was an eager consumer of the current frenzy of cop hatred. (Not that he paid close enough attention to the actual details of alleged cop malfeasance to spell Eric Garner’s name correctly.) His homicidal postings on Instagram—“I’m Putting Wings on Pigs Today. They Take 1 of Ours . . . . .Let’s Take 2 of Theirs”—were indistinguishable from the hatred bouncing around the Internet and the protests and that few bothered to condemn. That vitriol continues after the assassination. Social media is filled with gloating at the officers’ deaths and praise for Brinsley: “That nigga that shot the cops is a legend,” reads a typical message. A student leader and a representative of the African and Afro-American studies department at Brandeis University tweeted that she has “no sympathy for the NYPD officers who were murdered today.”

The only good that can come out of this wrenching attack on civilization would be the delegitimation of the lie-based protest movement. Whether that will happen is uncertain. The New York Times has denounced as “inflammatory” the statement from the head of the officer’s union that there is “blood on the hands that starts on the steps of City Hall”—this from a paper that promotes the idea that police officers routinely kill blacks. The elites’ investment in black victimology is probably too great to hope for an injection of truth into the dangerously counterfactual discourse about race, crime, and policing.

All of which are reminders that the left’s omnipresent race card carries a steep cost to all of its victims, Thomas Sowell adds at NRO:

Mayor de Blasio has made anti-police comments with Al Sharpton seated at his side. This is the same Al Sharpton with a trail of slime going back more than a quarter of a century, during which he has whipped up mobs and fomented race hatred from the days of the Tawana Brawley “rape” hoax of 1987 to the Duke University “rape” hoax of 2006 and the Ferguson riots of 2014.

Make no mistake about it. There is political mileage to be made siding with demagogues like Al Sharpton who, as demagogue-in-chief, has been invited to the White House dozens of times by its commander-in-chief.

Many in the media and among the intelligentsia cherish the romantic tale of an “us” against “them” struggle of beleaguered ghetto blacks defending themselves against the aggression of white policemen. The gullible include both whites who don’t know what they are talking about and blacks who don’t know what they are talking about either, because they never grew up in a ghetto. Among the latter are the President of the United States and his attorney general.

Such people readily buy the story that ghetto social problems today — from children being raised without a father to runaway rates of murder — are “a legacy of slavery,” even though such social problems were nowhere near as severe in the first half of the 20th century as they became in the second half.

You would be hard pressed to name just five examples from the first half of the 20th century of the kinds of ghetto riots that have raged in more than a hundred cities during the second half. Such riots are a legacy of the social degeneracy of our times.

See also,  Pat Moynihan’s 1993 essay, “Defining Deviancy Down:”

Moynihan argued that deviancy — crime, mental illness, out-of-wedlock births, etc. — had become so rampant, had so thoroughly soaked into the culture, that we simply had to redefine the abnormal as normal to cope. By setting the bar lower, we comforted ourselves with the notion that the percentage of abnormal behavior was still manageable.

Moynihan’s most famous example was the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. That event was a major turning point in American history, credited with helping to convince Americans to abandon prohibition. It warranted two entries in the World Book Encyclopedia. The actual details? Four gangsters murdered seven gangsters.

In the early 1990s, Moynihan noted, Los Angeles suffered from the equivalent of one St. Valentine’s Day Massacre every weekend.

Don’t look for the left to experience much introspection anytime soon, however.


No Experience Necessary

December 27th, 2014 - 8:42 am

“Driver Wanted for Obama Motorcade. Novice Welcome,” the New York Times reports with a distinct lack of self-awareness:

Ms. Tyson said in a telephone interview several weeks after she drove in the motorcade that she had received little instruction from the Secret Service about what to do in the event of a high-speed emergency. She assumed that she should just follow the car in front of her no matter what happened.

“Whatever I am,” she said, “is good enough for them.”

“Good enough for them” is apparently having a driver’s license and a clean criminal record, and knowing someone at the White House.

A week before Mr. Obama arrived in San Francisco, a childhood friend of Ms. Tyson’s from Cupertino, Calif., who now works at the White House, reached out to her to see if she was interested in driving.

“He just texted me and said, ‘Do you want to volunteer as part of this and drive in the motorcade?’ ” Ms. Tyson said. “It was kind of sudden. I didn’t even know the president was going to be in town.”

Ms. Tyson said that her driving record was “pristine” and that she had “driven a pickup truck but not a van.”

Some security experts said the practice was troubling. Not only could the volunteers cause an accident — and they have — but they are sandwiched between the president’s limousine and the Secret Service ambulance, so neophyte drivers could create complications and delays in an emergency.

Gee, wait’ll the Times discovers what complications, delays and emergencies can result when promoting a neophyte politician to become the man at the center of that enormous motorcade, over a senator with four terms in office, a Navy war hero background and a sitting US governor as his veep.

On both a macro and micro level.

ISIS Hot Stuntaz

December 27th, 2014 - 12:12 am

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


“Mystery of ‘Britain’s White Jihadi’ with the baby face: Counter-terrorism experts probe meek-looking Islamic State suspect amid claims photo could be sophisticated fake,” the London Daily Mail reports, embedding the above photo, which quickly that went viral on Twitter.

Fake or not, I sense something. A presence I’ve not felt since


The douchebaggery…the douchebaggery…

Obama made his bones thanks to his “autobiography,” in which he later was forced to admit that his college-era girlfriend in Dreams of My Father was a “composite” of several women he knew way back when. And 2012 saw the debut of her cousin, the Obama reelection campaign’s distaff mascot, the equally imaginary, Orwellianly-named “Julia.”

And the composites keep coming, with Barry telling People this month:

The small irritations or indignities that we experience are nothing compared to what a previous generation experienced,” President Obama said. “It’s one thing for me to be mistaken for a waiter at a gala. It’s another thing for my son to be mistaken for a robber and to be handcuffed, or worse, if he happens to be walking down the street and is dressed the way teenagers dress.

With this latest bit of imaginary bad news revealed, at Ricochet, Stephen Miller attempts to round-up all of the imaginary scrapes and imaginary horrors that have befallen the otherwise “Extraordinary Life of Barack Obama’s Imaginary Son:”

Once again, Barack Obama’s imaginary son has found himself unfairly in trouble with the law. If you recall, his imaginary son was also shot by an imaginary neighborhood watch guard in the same style as Trayvon Martin. But Obama’s imaginary son is plucky and resilient and has lived a hard life in the hood so he keeps bouncing back.

In his life, Obama’s imaginary son has been shot at, concussed out of football, and racially profiled. Yet he keeps picking himself up and carrying on. Obama’s imaginary son should be an example to us all. No matter what kind of imaginary circumstances we find ourselves in, we can continue on with our imaginary lives.

One day this country can hopefully move on from racism experienced by imaginary people — and, let’s face it, the country doesn’t have the best of history of its treatment of imaginary people. We have, however, made progress in the civil rights of imaginary people and for that we, as a country, should be proud. We shouldn’t ignore, however, the real truth that racism toward imaginary sons is still a real problem, as our President constantly reminds us. We can’t be afraid to have the conversation, no matter how painful it might be, about continuing the racial healing of imaginary people.

President Obama, however, also should look inward and ask why his imaginary son continues to put himself in these situations. Perhaps it is also his own failings as an imaginary parent. Maybe his imaginary son is trying to rebel against the pressures that come with being the first imaginary son of the United States. Perhaps the President can get him some better-fitting clothes and tell him to stay in school instead of having constant run-ins with imaginary police.

Potemkin villages — and kids — all the way down.

‘Dear GOP: Show, Don’t Tell’

December 26th, 2014 - 10:29 pm

One night on the campaign trail in 1992, running against Bill Clinton, his Oprah-esque ”I feel your pain” statements, and goofy proto-emo sycophants like the infamous ponytail guy, George H.W. Bush “literally read his stage direction off a cue card, like Ron Burgundy in ‘Anchorman,’ proclaiming ‘Message: I care,’” Jonah Goldberg writes in his latest column. “I always wondered if, afterwards, some aide had to tell him, ‘Sir, you were supposed to convey that message, not literally read it out loud.’” Similarly, regarding Bob Dole’s promise to be the next Gipper four years later, all the way up to the GOP’s current crop of presidential candidates, Jonah adds:

If you want to be the next Ronald Reagan, be the next Ronald Reagan. Don’t tell people, “Starring in the role of Ronald Reagan tonight will be…” Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, John Kasich or whoever’s turn it is at the podium.

I’ve heard nearly every 2016 wannabe tell conservative audiences about the importance of optimism. Jeb Bush is particularly high on it these days. He says the nominee must be “joyful.” I agree. But stop telling me about the need for joyfulness and start showing me some frickin’ joy!

One of the main reasons Republicans read their stage direction, I think, is that they see politics as a game. And, as a game, they don’t take it as seriously as those who see politics as an obsession or even a religion.

This speaks well of them as human beings because it suggests that, unlike a lot of liberal Democrats, they don’t think politics — and by extension government — is everything and all-important. That’s a trait I want in a president. But it’s a real problem in a presidential candidate.

So please, more show, less tell.

And just about every potential Democrat candidate for the White House the GOP will be running against in 2016 absolutely believes in politics as their religion. Which dovetails well with Paul Mirengoff’s new post at Power Line: “Will 2016 resemble 1968 for Democrats?”

While it would take the Carter administration another decade to infamously put a name to it, 1968 was when he anti-progress malaise mindset became a permanent fixture of the American left’s presidential bids. In other words, with the arguable exception of the aforementioned 1992, doesn’t every presidential election year resemble 1968 for Democrats?

A Home-brewed Dictator, On the Other Hand…

December 26th, 2014 - 8:55 pm


TNR morphed from a fairly sensible center-left publication to a clone of Salon and Slate so quickly, I hardly even noticed. But the Website, revamped under the new ownership of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes has noticed that during the Christmas holidays, things really are brighter, and they’re vexed by this notion. Terribly vexed:

Two years ago, the U.S. Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy reported that of the eight types of outdoor lighting it studied in 2010—”building exterior, airfield, billboard, railway, stadium, traffic signals, parking and roadway”—over 178 million individual lamps were in use, up from 73 million in 2002. The Astronomical Observatory at Florida Atlantic University has also done extensive research on nighttime lighting. It found that in 2012, more than 35 billion kilowatts per hour (KWh) were used in “estimated wasted outdoor lighting”—considered to be “lights that are on where not needed or where no one is around to use them, on when they are not needed, or are directed upwards where no one can use them”—and it cost consumers $3.4 billion.

It’s possible to estimate the cost of holiday lighting on an individual level—a handful of websites provide calculators. But to get an idea of energy usage and cost increases between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, we’ll have to wait until NASA releases data on the 2014 holiday season, at which point it’s likely that universities and government agencies, not NASA, will study the implications.

As Twitter user Scott Welch writes in his reply to Virginia Postrel’s link to TNR’s article, you know what else uses plenty of energy, lights, and air conditioning? The server farms that Facebook and TNR run on. I look forward to the folks at TNR running a “study” on how much electricity, lighting and freon is consumed during that process.

Ordinarily, this is the time where I insert my usual rejoinder to what Virginia aptly calls leftwing environmental puritanism and call on TNR that if they want to walk the walk, they really need to set an example for the rest of us and close up shop first, if they perceive that “global warming / cooling climate change / climate chaos” is so dire that the rest of us need to turn off our Christmas lights and transform America into the second coming of North Korea at night.

Fortunately though in this case, TNR is for once far ahead of the curve:

Faster please — do it for Gaia’s sake, fellas.

Related: “David Brooks Calls New Republic Owner Chris Hughes ‘Callow And Incompetent,’” the HuffPo notes. I’m not at all sure if Brooks meant that as an insult or not, given his prior track record with callow and incompetent members of the far left.

Your Moment of Christmas Zen

December 25th, 2014 - 11:42 am

“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.

As is

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:

It’s a Wonderful Fountainhead

December 25th, 2014 - 10:38 am

“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 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.

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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.

Merry Christmas!

December 25th, 2014 - 10:07 am

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:

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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:

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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…

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.”

You stay classy, “Progressives:”

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:

* 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 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,, 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.

‘This Org Gives Me an icky Feeling’

December 22nd, 2014 - 6:10 pm


“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:

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.

What Could Go Wrong?

December 22nd, 2014 - 2:26 pm

“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 Politicomake 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.