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Ed Driscoll

Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O’Donnell Brawl Backstage at The View

November 22nd, 2014 - 3:38 pm

“They might as well change its name from ‘The View’ to ‘The Feud,’” quips the New York Daily News:

A shrill, backstage brawl at “The View” Wednesday left co-host Rosie Perez in tears while panelists Whoopi Goldberg and Rosie O’Donnell battled over how to cover the latest allegations against Bill Cosby and the racially charged upheaval in Ferguson, Mo., sources said.

O’Donnell believed the show — now overseen by ABC News — needed to delve deeper into both controversial subjects, while Goldberg wanted to steer clear of the topics altogether.

Ultimately, both news stories were discussed at length on the air by the panel.

“There’s terrible frustration and there are problems,” a source close to the show told the Daily News. “Whoopi didn’t want to talk about Cosby and Ferguson, Rosie (O’Donnell) did — how could you not? These are topics that are uncomfortable for everyone, but it’s ‘The View’ and it’s their job to talk about topics that might make some people tense.”

If viewers are tense, it may due to the show’s increasingly uncomfortable format, now that Barbara Walters has finally retired.

The formula for a successful TV talk show isn’t that much different than the formula for a successful TV sitcom or drama, and has been the same since the medium took off in the 1950s. (That’s why they call it a formula.) A network talk show casts an appealing straight-shooting everyman and surrounds him with wacky, offbeat sidekicks for leavening. In the 1960s, the boyish Johnny Carson was flanked by big drinking heavyset Ed McMahon and the psychedelically-attired  Doc Severinsen. In the 1980s, long before he became churlish and partisan in his dotage, David Letterman was a fratboy variation on the same theme, another Midwestern everyman, this time with postmodern zaniness swirling around him. Fictional TV has long used the same formula, with Star Trek’s JFK-esque Captain Kirk surrounded by the pointy-eared Spock and Mencken-esque Dr. McCoy. Happy Days had clean-cut WASP Richie Cunningham, surrounded by Fonzie the Italian greaser and Ralph Malph the class cut-up. And M*A*S*H ran for a million years with Alan Alda’s Hawkeye character surrounded by oddball characters such as Radar, Klinger, Frank Burns, etc.

The View was a distaff variation on the same formula, with Barbara Walters the veteran journalist and everywoman surrounded by zany offbeat showbiz types such as the caustic Joy Behar, loony conspiracy theorist Rosie O’Donnell, and the far left Whoopi Goldberg. With Walters now retired, there’s no center of gravity to the show, no one to reign in the lunatics inside the asylum. No wonder the ratings have plummeted with the formula broken and the cast is feuding with each other.

When will ABC put this tired dysfunctional show out of its – and the remaining viewers — misery?

Pompeii with Mirrorballs

November 22nd, 2014 - 2:28 pm

The Last Days of Disco, Whit Stillman’s 1998 film, as reviewed, stream of consciousness style, by Eve Tushnet:

For the first half of this movie I was not totally sold on it–despite its setting in “The Very Early ’80s” and its discussions of group socializing vs. “ferocious pairing off” and the Robert Sean Leonard of it all. “It’s fun enough, but it’s no Damsels in Distress,” I thought.

By the end I was so fascinated and pleased that I wanted to rewatch it immediately. I listened to the commentary track, which I rarely do with Netflix dvds because I am greedy and want my next one as fast as possible. But The Last Days of Disco is an intelligent souffle. It’s light–if it were heavy it would be lugubrious, but it’s so light that it’s poignant instead–and endearing, and insightful.

It’s a great film, one that benefits from repeated viewings, as I wrote a year ago in a post titled “Turn the Beat Around: A Reformed Disco Hater Looks Back at Whit Stillman’s The Last Days of Disco.”

And speaking of Pompeii with mirrorballs, at the start of the month, the Flashbak Website assembled an incredible collection of mostly black and white photos of the real Studio 54 from the late ’70s. Beyond the coke-fueled Weimar-esque decadence of the period, what’s fascinating is the intermingling of politics and cultures, where Italian socialist film director Lina Wertmuller meets Ed McMahon, Pat and Debbie Boone drop in, and Gerald Ford’s son Jack Ford chats with Alice Cooper. I’m not at all sure if the highly segregated puritanical left would sanction such a diverse intermingling of culture these days, in their all-consuming efforts to root out original sin.

“How it is that we once again find ourselves rooting out sin, shunning heretics, and heralding the end times,” asks Joseph Bottum in the Weekly Standard, exploring “The Spiritual Shape of Political Ideas:”

Just as, for Paul in Romans, “the law entered, that the offence might abound,” so our awareness of our own racism massively increases when we realize that we are utterly formed as racists in America. And just as, for Paul, “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound,” so it is that only from this overwhelming awareness of racism can we hope to escape racism.

The doctrine of original sin is probably incoherent, and certainly gloomy, in the absence of its pairing with the concept of a divine savior—and so Paul concludes Romans 5 with a turn to the Redeemer and the possibility of hope: “As sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” Think of it as a car’s engine or transmission scattered in pieces around a junkyard: The individual bits of Christian theology don’t actually work all that well when they’re broken apart from one another.

Which is why it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that an infinite sadness often haunts expressions of the white-privilege notion that we must become more aware of race in order to end the inherited sin of being aware of race. If we cannot escape it, then how can we escape it? When Prof. Jensen cries out in his chiliastic pain, “I will carry this privilege with me until the day white supremacy is erased,” he’s speaking in tones once reserved for the moral solution that only the Second Coming could provide. The strangeness of the isolated concept can be discerned in its unendingness, its never-satisfied ratchet. Discerned as well, I would suggest, in some of the disturbingly salvific terms with which President Obama’s campaign and election were first greeted.

Of course, however Christian the idea of white privilege may have been in origin, it emerged in contemporary America stripped of Christ and his church, making it available even for post- and non-Christians. For that matter, an explicit anti-Christianity is often heard alongside rejections of white privilege. At Radersma’s race conference, a fellow presenter named Paul Kivel defined white privilege as “the everyday pervasive, deep-seated and institutionalized dominance of Christian values, Christian institutions, leaders and Christians as a group, primarily for the benefit of Christian ruling elites.”

But that, too, is typical of much post-mainline moral discussion in America: the Church of Christ Without Christ, as Flannery O’Connor might have called it (to use a phrase from her 1952 novel Wise Blood). The mainline congregations may be gone as significant factors in the nation’s public life, but their collapse released a religious logic and set of spiritual anxieties that are still with us—still demanding that we see our nation and ourselves in the patterns cast by their old theological lights.

As Umberto Eco wrote in 2005, “God Isn’t Big Enough For Some People:”

It is the role of religion to provide that justification. Religions are systems of belief that enable human beings to justify their existence and which reconcile us to death. We in Europe have faced a fading of organised religion in recent years. Faith in the Christian churches has been declining.

The ideologies such as communism that promised to supplant religion have failed in spectacular and very public fashion. So we’re all still looking for something that will reconcile each of us to the inevitability of our own death.

G K Chesterton is often credited* with observing: “When a man ceases to believe in God, he doesn’t believe in nothing. He believes in anything.” Whoever said it – he was right. We are supposed to live in a sceptical age. In fact, we live in an age of outrageous credulity.

And finally, as Kate quips today at Small Dead Animals, “You Clever Matchmaker, Gaia!”, spotting someone who really red-lines the phrase “outrageous credulity:”

Afton Burton left her parents’ home in Illinois at age 19 to move to California, where she could be closer to Manson, Burton said.

It was Manson’s work as an environmentalist that drew her daughter into him, according to Burton.

“He’s an environmentalist, and she’s involved in his environmentalist program,” Burton said.

Say what you will about Charles Manson, but he took the “warrior” aspect of the phrase “Social Justice Warrior,” not to mention the quasi-religious doomsday implications of that strange mindset, seriously.

* The Chesterton Society traced the complex history of this brilliant aphorism, and concluded, “we must point out the irony that critics have chastised Chesterton for misquoting other writers, while he is the most misquoted writer of all. No one would be more pleased than G.K. Chesterton.”

Related: “Professor says she can no longer give common-sense advice for fear of being accused of victim-blaming.”

More: “Funniest Paragraph of the Day, Courtesy of the NY Times:”

“Unitarian Universalism is not a theologically grounded religion,” Ms. Brock said. “If we mess up our principles and values, we don’t have a theology to fall back on. We’re not Catholic — we can’t just keep giving communion until we figure it out. If we don’t have our values figured out, our institutions become pointless bureaucracies.”

And finally, William Voegeli writes that “MSNBC Shrill Is No Accident. It’s How Liberals Really Think:”

Convinced that no intelligent, decent person could take conservatism seriously, liberals believe it is not necessary or even possible, when engaging conservative ideas, to go beyond diagnosing the psychological, moral or mental defects that cause people to espouse them. Liberals claim to understand conservatives better than they understand themselves on the basis of seeing through the cynical self-interest of conservative leaders (and funders), and the fanaticism or stupid docility of conservative followers. The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, scourge of the Koch brothers, went on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show in 2010 to deny that the Tea Party movement was “a spontaneous uprising that came from nowhere.” In fact, Maddow explained, many of those attending its demonstrations “were essentially instructed to rally against things like climate change by billionaire oil tycoons.”

This condescension has always been part of the liberal outlook. In 1972, eight weeks after George McGovern suffered a historically massive defeat against Richard Nixon, film critic Pauline Kael told the professors at a Modern Language Association conference, “I know only one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.”

The evil sinners are out there, I can feel them! Don’t get too close or their demonic ideas and/or cooties will rub off on you, too!

Today’s edition of Ed Driscoll.com is brought to you by the word “Man-spreading.” Or as Rich Cromwell writes at the Federalist, “The Rabid Equality Crowd Finally Outright Admits They Hate Testicles:”

They’re not called the family jewels because they are ordinary. They’re not referred to as stones because they’re impervious to injury. No, they are both extraordinary and surprisingly fragile. So, sorry notsorry if we give them some breathing room when we sit, if we don’t smash them betwixt our legs on public transit. But as the horizon of “male privilege” is constantly expanding, giving the old wedding tackle ample space is now a crime against humanity.

The Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) announced on Monday that a new campaign addressing courtesy on public transportation will come into effect by January. One of the targeted behaviors is ‘man-spreading’ — the act of spreading one’s legs so far apart that other passengers are forced to squish their own together.

Or, if you prefer a more nuanced description, one of the most infuriating and outright ridiculous display of male privilege and machismo in existence today. As Mic’s Derrick Clifton succinctly put it, ‘Hey, bro, you’re not that well-endowed.’

Maybe. You don’t know.

Granted, I don’t use public transit. I luxuriate in a nicely padded captain’s chair without panhandlers and formidable smells. If I lived in a dense urban area, I would likely take advantage of the added reading time that public transit offers. For now, though, I don’t have that option, so I crank the tunes and spread my legs far and wide. But as a member in good standing of the patriarchy, I have to stand up for my brethren who live in constant fear of oppression.

Not the least of which being this fellow, who’s rather well-known for capping off his eight years in office by man-spreading on the cover of a well-known men’s magazine:

bill_clinton_esquire_11-21-14-1

Stacy McCain describes the sort of person who’s a Socialist Justice Warrior obsessed with ending “man-spreading” as being one of the “Nowhere People:”

It’s important to remember that, although these people exist in real life — that is to say, there are actual human beings running those batshit crazy troll accounts — they are as altogether artificial in their politics as they are in their online personas. They themselves have never done a goddamned thing for “social justice.” They simply enjoy mouthing these slogans about “oppression” and “patriarchy,” etc., because posing as Our Moral Superiors is an emotional compensation for their own obscurity and worthlessness.

They are the Nowhere People — rootless, without loyalty to family, community or religious tradition, and thus “free” to create for themselves imagined identities and idiosyncratic belief systems. Although they usually think of themselves as unique individuals, they are really sheep in a herd, predictable and therefore ultimately boring. Any politics, as long as it’s not conservative politics; any religion as long as it’s not Christian religion; any sexuality as long as it’s not normal sexuality. One notices that the Nowhere People are seldom husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. Idle narcissism is incompatible with the dutiful commitments of marriage and motherhood.

Related:


Hey, those six figure salaries that college professors earn for classes on lesbian deconstructionist poetry aren’t going to pay for themselves, you know.

Standup Comic In Chief’s Zany Bedpan Humor

November 21st, 2014 - 3:02 pm

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don’t even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I’ve heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.

Ezra Klein, January of 2008.

“America is not a nation that accepts the hypocrisy of workers who mow our lawns, make our beds, clean out bed pans, with no chance ever to get right with the law.”

—The president today in Las Vegas (appropriately enough), as transcribed by C-Span. Mockery on Twitter was, not surprisingly, swift and appropriately brutal. As one Twitter wag responded to the president’s inane remarks, “And we have reached peak ‘If it were Bush’. Thanks for playing everyone.”

Update: Hillary isn’t covering herself in glory either today. Shot:

Chaser:


Cringe, indeed.

The Ultimate Friday Afternoon Document Dump

November 21st, 2014 - 2:32 pm

mussolini_obama_lerner_forward_6-13-13-1

“30,000 missing emails from IRS’ Lerner recovered,” according to the Washington Examiner:

In all, investigators from the inspector general’s office combed through 744 disaster recovery tapes. They are not finished looking.

There are 250 million emails ion the tapes that will be reviewed. Officials said it is likely they will find missing emails from other IRS officials who worked under Lerner and who said they suffered computer crashes.

Investigators said the emails could include some overlapping information because it is not clear how many of them are duplicates or were already produced by Lerner to the congressional committees.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee he chairs will be one of the committees that will examine the emails.

“Though it is unclear whether TIGTA has found all of the missing Lois Lerner e-mails, there may be significant information in this discovery,” Issa told the Examiner. “The Oversight Committee will be looking for information about her mindset and who she was communicating with outside the IRS during a critical period of time when the IRS was targeting conservative groups. This discovery also underscores the lack of cooperation Congress has received from the IRS. The agency first failed to disclose the loss to Congress and then tried to declare Lerner’s e-mails gone and lost forever. Once again it appears the IRS hasn’t been straight with Congress and the American people.”

And…? Other than the (admittedly enjoyable) videos of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen appearing regularly on Capital Hill as Trey Gowdy’s punching bag, will there be any real consequences to the agency for its malfeasance?

(H/T: SDA)

Update: “That’s a lot of emails. But remember when the New York Times asked its readers to ‘crowdsource’ the review of 24,000 of Sarah Palin’s emails?”

More:

Sarah Palin committed no crime other than being a conservative woman. Lois Lerner has been implicated in using the power of the IRS to stifle the First Amendment rights of thousands of Americans and conservative Tea Party groups.

Surely, the media will investigate these newly found Lois Lerner emails more aggressively than they looked into Palin’s emails. Right?

Of course they will.

‘The Nihilist in the White House’

November 21st, 2014 - 1:49 pm

“This White House seems driven—does it understand this?—by a kind of political nihilism. They agitate, aggravate, fray and separate,” Peggy Noonan wrote last night:

ObamaCare, whose very legitimacy was half killed by the lie that “If you like your plan, you can keep it,” and later by the incompetence of its implementation, has been done in now by the mindless, highhanded bragging of a technocrat who helped build it, and who amused himself the past few years explaining that the law’s passage was secured only by lies, and the lies were effective because the American people are stupid. Jonah Goldberg of National Review had a great point the other day: They build a thing so impenetrable, so deliberately impossible for any normal person to understand, and then they denigrate them behind their backs for not understanding.

I don’t know how ObamaCare will go, but it won’t last as it is. If the White House had wisdom, they’d declare that they’d won on the essential argument—health coverage is a right for all—and go back to the drawing board with Congress. The only part of the ObamaCare law that is popular is its intention, not its reality. The White House should declare victory and redraw the bill. But the White House is a wisdom-free zone.

The president’s executive action on immigration is an act of willful nihilism that he himself had argued against in the past. It is a sharp stick in the eye of the new congressional majority. It is at odds with—it defies—the meaning and message of the last election, and therefore is destructive to the reputation of democracy itself. It is huge in its impact but has only a sole cause, the president’s lone will. It damages the standing of our tottery political institutions rather than strengthening them, which is what they desperately need, and sets a template for future executive abuse. It will surely encourage increased illegal immigration and thus further erode the position of the American working class.

Jonah’s latest G-File (emailed today, online tomorrow) illustrates just how craven Mr. Obama can be. I don’t believe the president is a crypto-Muslim — he’s far t00 in love with himself to worship Allah, as one wag has noted — but note this disgusting bit of theater:

One last item I don’t want to fall down the memory hole. I was going to write a whole column on this, but Mona Charen beat me to the punch. Still, my jaw dropped when I heard Obama’s reaction to the beheading of Peter Kassig.

“ISIL’s actions represent no faith,” Obama said, “least of all the Muslim faith which Abdul-Rahman adopted as his own.”

Abdul-Rahman was Kassig’s Muslim name, which he adopted only while being held captive by Islamists. Perhaps the conversion was sincere, though I suspect Kassig did it to stay alive and certainly under duress and I can begrudge him it. Either way, there’s something disgusting about using Kassig’s Muslim name in order to score a propaganda point.

It’s even worse when that propaganda point is so incandescently stupid.

As Mona notes (and as I argued here), no one except Barack Obama thinks it’s a revelation that the Islamic State kills Muslims. No Kurd, no Shia, no moderate Sunni stays in his home when the Islamic State is at the gates, and says “Hey, we’re Muslim and Muslims don’t kill Muslims. We’ve got nothing to worry about.”

But it’s the phrase “least of all the Muslim faith” that is truly infuriating. Least of all? Really? So other faiths are more implicated in this atrocity than Islam? Which ones? Does he really mean to be suggesting that while the Islamic State’s actions “represent no faith,” if we have to assign blame, Islam is the least culpable? Could a team of rhetoricians, theologians and logicians working around the clock in some Andromeda Strain bunker beneath the Nevada desert come up with an argument that puts even a scintilla more blame at the feet of, say, the Lutherans or Quakers? On the one hand we have a bunch of dudes who shout “Allāhu Akbar!”, memorize the Koran, and rape and murder in the name of the Islamic State. On the other hand, we have a grab bag of Buddhists, Jews, Seventh Day Adventists, and Southern Baptists. And the one faith least implicated here is Islam? Really. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.

Heh. But then, along with cynicism, crazy is the currency of the Beltway at the moment.

Update: Bedpans.

Nihilism on the Edge of Town

November 21st, 2014 - 1:08 pm

“The temptation is to laugh at Bruce Springsteen and his admirers,” Ryan Cole writes in the Weekly Standard, in “Born to Rant:”

Springsteen embraced the imagery, iconography, and gestures of the genre. He threw on a leather jacket, sculpted his sideburns, and posed broodingly in Corvettes and Cadillacs. Then he name-checked John Steinbeck and Flannery O’Connor, sang of American decay and inequality, and rebuffed Ronald Reagan, whose reelection campaign had the nerve to assume that “Born in the USA”—a gloomy song about a homeless Vietnam veteran dolled up with a misleadingly anthemic chorus and sold with imagery of Springsteen draped in Old Glory—was actually a statement of patriotism. Which is not to say that Sprinssteen isn’t a patriot. It’s just that he articulates progressivism’s brand of national pride: America is noble in theory, nightmarish in reality; cool around the edges, but rotten to the core.

James Wolcott, writing in Vanity Fair, once quipped that it was almost as if Springsteen was “built to rock-critic specifications.” Others, such as Fred Goodman in Mansion on the Hill: Dylan, Young, Geffen, and Springsteen and the Head-on Collision of Rock and Commerce (1997), have suggested that his career since partnering with Landau has been one long and meticulously plotted public relations exercise to present the Boss as a rock ’n’ roll holy man.

If that’s the case, it has worked: Springsteen has sold and continues to sell millions of albums, and his shtick is catnip to baby boomers. In fact, a standard component of Springsteen hagiography is the breathless recollection of that moment, long ago, when the author, young and searching for truth, first stumbled across the Boss’s magic. For David Brooks, it was February 1975, when he caught a live performance on WMMR in Philadelphia. For David Remnick, it was November 1976, from his perch on the balcony of New York City’s late Palladium. It was heady stuff, no doubt—and it forged four decades of adoration, which often gives the impression that some writers view Bruce Springsteen the same way young boys do, say, Superman.

And yet, despite the comparisons to Elvis Presley, as well as to Chuck Berry, both of whom created music that was an amalgamation of prior American styles, Springsteen’s work is strikingly inorganic. With its fist-pumping chord changes, cluttered arrangements full of guitars, runaway xylophones, and honking saxophones, layered behind his maudlin, over-emoting voice, with its affected “heartland” accent, Springsteen’s music is meticulously processed and choreographed, akin to ersatz rock show tunes conceived by a committee of rock critics and Broadway producers.

Coming of age in the pre-Beatles era in which critics began to treat rock music as Serious High Art, Presley and Chuck Berry viewed themselves as performers. A very different role than the strange working class yet cult-like figure that Bruce proffers, more so to adoring critics, than his fans, the majority of whom simply want to boogie and luxuriate in the hits and those golden memories of seedy small town New Jersey, circa 1975. And as Cole writes, Springsteen offers up endless portraits of working class losers, but little opportunity for transcendence, despite Springsteen’s own staggering achievements:

Springsteen’s songs, in fact, often overlook how dynamic this land truly is: In his telling, untouchable corporations, cruel lawmen, and lawless leaders inevitably block the working folks’ access to the American Dream. You need not turn a blind eye to America’s deficiencies to see how incomplete this picture is, as summed up by “The River,” the title track from Springsteen’s 1980 album. Its young protagonist takes his love down to the aforementioned river and impregnates her. Then comes the shotgun wedding and the union card (I got a job working construction for the Johnstown Company / But lately there ain’t been much work on the account of the economy). As Springsteen sings, Man, that was all she wrote. But isn’t the Boss’s success and fortune—he is, after all, the son of a working-class father, as his admirers never tire of pointing out—evidence against the inevitability of his own narrative?

But if Springsteen’s characters pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and made something of their lives, they’d be (a) off the dole, (b) America wouldn’t be the 3000 mile-wide hellhole that Springsteen (and Landau’s) ideology demands that it to be and (c) they’d be less likely to vote for whichever Democrat political candidate Springsteen and Landau are plumping for that year. So instead, Bruce is born to run — on a golden treadmill to nowhere. Too bad; those albums from The Wild, The Innocent through Burn in the USA before Springsteen became as, Paul Shaffer’s Don Kirshner would say, “a viable commercial product,” were pretty awesome.

Related: “Despite highest poverty numbers in 50 years, Obama okays illegals to compete for jobs in US.” Sounds like the underpinnings of a great Springsteen song on the plight of the American working man, if only the Boss weren’t completely in the tank for Barry and whatever his political whims are this week.

#Grubergate and ‘Low Information Experts’

November 21st, 2014 - 12:02 pm

Note the acronym those first letters form,  James Bovard writes at the Washington Times:

Unfortunately, contemporary Washington is calibrated to defer to experts who defer to politicians, providing an intellectual Praetorian Guard for the constant growth of a leviathan. As Denver University professor David Ciepley noted, “Starting in the First World War, and much more so during the New Deal and World War II, American social scientists became part of the autonomous state themselves, helping staff the mushrooming government agencies.” The closer that intellectuals get to politicians, the more weaselly they usually become.

Playing off Mr. Gruber’s derision of average Americans, one wag suggested a new acronym — L.I.E. — for Low Information Experts. Mr. Gruber and many other professors have gotten rich by pretending that government is far more competent than it actually is. Economist Robert Skidelsky, writing about the history of modern socialism, observed that “the collectivist belief system existed independently of the facts of modern life.” The same is true of the academic cadre who profit by vindicating endless government interventions that breed chaos and dependency.

The shenanigans by which Obamacare was enacted vivify how far this nation has fallen from the Founding Fathers’ ideals. We increasingly have a caretaker democracy in which rulers dupe and punish citizens for their own good. Supposedly, voters still enjoy self-government because they are permitted a token choice in who will deceive and shackle them.

‘Low Information Experts’ and its resulting acronym certainly sums up Websites such as Washington Post castaway Vox.com — as one of its founders will admit in his more candid moments:

yglesias_sophistry_8-10

And certainly Politico’s Glenn Thrush and BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith are certainly more than willing to became rather “unexpectedly” incurious as journalists when it suits advancing socialist power.

Speaking of the latter fellow and the controversy he currently finds himself in given that, as Sean Davis writes at the Federalist, “BuzzFeed’s Executive Chairman Is Invested In Uber’s Competition,” here’s a question asked and answered:

By the way, the Daily Caller reports today that “House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa is calling on MIT economist and so-called Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber to testify next month about ‘transparency failures and outright deceptions surrounding Obamacare.’”

Pass the popcorn.

Related: “Ben Smith BenSmiths Buzzfeed’s Stake in Uber Hit Piece.” Unexpectedly.

“Thanks to Obama jumping the gun and supposedly addressing the humanitarian concerns of those already here, Republicans have the opening to argue that the serial approach is now the best way to solve the problem. That is what I meant by political jujitsu,” Ed Morrissey writes:

In jujitsu, one does not confront an opponent’s strength head on, but uses it against him. Obama clearly wanted to make himself look like the compassionate actor in this debate, and Republicans the heartless, cruel nativists. Instead of trying to fight that battle, make Obama own it and bypass it for the real battle the GOP wants to win on border security. Make Democrats vote against a border security bill, and make Obama veto one while his own amnesty remains in place.

How many Senate Democrats would be willing to sustain that veto before the 2016 election? I’m betting not too many. But Republicans have a perfect opportunity to turn the debate in that direction now and force Obama and his shrinking number of allies on Capitol Hill to go on the record.

Glenn Reynolds adds, “You know, if one of the GOP big-money donors — I’m looking at you, Sheldon Adelson — is smart, he’ll fund a welcome-wagon operation in swing states. Reach out to these newly-amnestied immigrants, help them get jobs, connect them with social services, offer them American civics education to help integrate, register them Republican. . . .”

And perhaps the best proposal of all is by Drew M. at Ace of Spades’ blog. “Let Obama Give The State Of The Union Somewhere Else:”

Yes the media will be apoplectic about this. Good, that’s the point. This is a serious moment in our nation’s history. I’ve not seen a single Republican, even ones who strongly support legislative amnesty, support the President on this. The outrage caused by what is an extreme step will help to focus the nation on the threat to our constitutional order.

The President and his supporters have repeatedly said the “prosecutorial discretion” he claims is well within in the law and his power. Well, not inviting the President to speak to the assembled members of Congress is well within the discretion and power of the Speaker of the House.

[Note: This is meant as an addition to the de-funding and nomination blocking ideas, not instead of them]

Drew’s suggestion would be a particularly devastating example of political jujitsu, but it would require Boehner and Mitch McConnell to grow spines sufficient to deal with, as Drew puts it, an apoplectic assemblage of DNC operatives with bylines. Which means it probably won’t happen, and more’s the pity.

Update:

 

Quote of the Day

November 20th, 2014 - 5:01 pm

Actually I think the whole racial angle on Cosby should be turned on its head: How come Roman Polanski’s film career wasn’t ended after a conviction for rape? Or Woody Allen’s career after the facts of his behavior emerged? And if we’re now going to end careers over old charges, can Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey now get their due against Bill Clinton, whose sexual assaults didn’t end his career. To the contrary, he is honored as if he were the Dr. Huxtable of politics. The double standard here is obvious: if you’re a powerful (liberal) white man, you can survive being a rapist. Maybe the liberals are ironically right for a change.

Steve Hayward, Power Line, today.

“Influential gay rights advocate and top Obama donor, Terry Bean, and alleged former boyfriend arrested,” Brett Decker writes in USA Today:

This story was first reported by the local press, and there have been vague references to sexual trouble for Bean and Lawson since June, but the national media has not picked it up. That oversight is politically convenient for President Obama as he tries to pull off one of his riskiest political moves ever with his amnesty executive order.

If one of President George W. Bush’s bundlers would have been charged with child rape, make no mistake about it, the media feeding frenzy would have been uncontrollable – which would be legitimate given the severity of the allegation. The silence surrounding Terrence Bean exposes the national media’s partisan double standard in obscene detail.

In 2003, after it was obvious that CNN had been in the tank for Saddam Hussein, Eason Jordon, the network’s then-president, wrote a mea culpa in the New York Times titled “The News We Kept To Ourselves.”

The MSM sure has been keep a lot of news to itself since 2008, haven’t they? Two guesses as to why.

“Jeff Fager has stepped down as chairman of CBS News, leaving full command of the news division to David Rhodes, two sources at the network told POLITICO on Thursday,” Dylan Byers reports:

Fager, who spent four years as chairman, will return to CBS’ “60 Minutes” full-time as executive producer, effective at the beginning of the new year. Rhodes, who Fager hired as president four years ago, will remain in that role and assume sole leadership of the division.

As the Daily Caller noted in May of 2013, “Top Obama official’s brother is president of CBS News, may drop reporter over Benghazi coverage.” That reporter was Sharyl Attkisson who has since left CBS:

“We still don’t know who changed talking points but have had at least 4 diff explanations so far,” Attkisson tweeted on November 27, 2012.

But on Friday, ABC News reported that the Benghazi talking points went through 12 revisions before they were used on the public. The White House was intimately involved in that process, ABC reported, and the talking points were scrubbed free of their original references to a terror attack.

That reporting revealed that President Obama’s deputy national security advisor, Ben Rhodes — brother of CBS News president David Rhodes — was instrumental in changing the talking points in September 2012.

ABC’s reporting revealed that Ben Rhodes, who has a masters in fiction from NYU, called a meeting to discuss the talking points at the White House on September 15, 2012.

Curiously, the relationship between the two Rhodes isn’t referenced in Byers’ story above, or in this article on Jeff Fager stepping down at the Huffington Post.

Unexpectedly.

Related: “Bombshell: Email Proves that White House, DOJ Targeted Reporter Sharyl Attkisson,” from Bryan Preston at the PJ Tatler. I’m sure CBS will want to blow the lid off this story…

Update:

“Democrats across print, web, and cable media have been repeating the claim that Obama is doing nothing more than what Presidents Reagan and Bush 41 did first.” Not true, Gabriel Malor writes at the Federalist:

In 1986, faced with a large and growing population of illegal aliens, Congress created a new, time-limited form of immigration relief for certain aliens who, among other things, had to have come to the United States more than six years previously. This is the much ballyhooed Reagan amnesty. It was, unfortunately, riddled with fraud in its execution, the uncovering of which is still roiling the immigrant community. But even setting that aside it left President Reagan with a moral dilemma. Congress’ amnesty was large—just shy of 3 million people—and it had the unanticipated effect of splitting up freshly-legalized parents from their illegally-present minor children who did not qualify for relief.

So Reagan, seeing this family unity problem that Congress had not anticipated or addressed when it granted amnesty to millions of parents, issued an executive order to defer the removal of children of the people who had applied for immigration amnesty under Congress’ new law. He allowed those children to remain in the United States while their parents’ applications for amnesty were pending. A few years later, Bush 41 extended this bit of administrative grace to these same children plus certain spouses of the aliens who had actually been granted immigration amnesty under Congress’ new law.

Congress, though it had desired to grant amnesty, had not considered and not included the spouses and children. Importantly, nor had it excluded them. So Presidents Reagan and Bush 41 filled that statutory gap. “What do we do with spouses and children?” INS asked. “Well,” the executive branch leaders said, “defer their deportation. Decline to exercise your lawful authority for the particular cases that are related to those Congress has offered amnesty.”

These Reagan and Bush 41 executive actions were obviously different than what Obama is doing now.

Read the whole thing.

‘The wide-eyed idealist turned out to be an emperor,” Charles C.W. Cooke writes at NRO. But then, it’s only a matter of time before all men of the left reveal their inner liberal fascist:

Modest Republican efforts to limit the tool in judicial nominations, Obama claimed in 2005, were illustrative of an “ends justify the means mentality” that would see the “right of free and open debate . . . taken away from the minority party” in the name of short-term expedience. “We’re here to answer to the people, all of the people, not just the ones that are wearing our particular party label,” he said. “What [voters] don’t expect is for one party, be it Republican or Democrat, to change the rules in the middle of the game so they can make all the decisions while the other party is told to sit down and keep quiet.” Even more important: The “nuclear option” — whereby the filibuster is abolished by a simple majority — “doesn’t serve anyone’s best interests and it certainly isn’t what the patriots who founded this democracy had in mind.”

Senator Obama was joined in this judgment by leading Democrats, who together made a stirring case in favor of retention. The judicial filibuster, Harry Reid exclaimed, is “part of the fabric of this institution we call the Senate” and an “integral part of our country’s 214 year history.” Chuck Schumer described the device as “an important check and balance, to be preserved not vaporized.” Dianne Feinstein warned that, “blinded by political passions, some are willing to unravel our government’s fundamental principle of checks and balances.” Patty Murray agreed, accusing Republicans of “attempting to dismantle the checks and balances that our founding fathers created.” Without the mechanism, Murray contended, the Senate might become a “rubber stamp for the president.” And, as so often, Joe Biden put it best, proposing that to do away with the filibuster without the approval of a supermajority was “an example of the arrogance of power” and a “fundamental power grab.”

Those “patriots who founded this democracy” must have changed their minds since 2005, for, when the system proved too destructive to Obama’s agenda, he not only happily endorsed its abolition but got on board with the “nuclear option” that he had once so vehemently denounced. The filibuster was “not what our Founders envisioned,” Obama told the press in November of 2013. And then he chastised those who would defend the mechanism for their reliance upon “arcane procedural tactics.”

Today, the transformation of Barack Obama from wide-eyed idealist to bitter imperator will finally be completed. Amid the glitz and the artifice of Las Vegas, the last vestiges of the one we were waiting for will be swept ignominiously away, leaving only power, cynicism, and partisanship in their stead. There was a time when our 44th president claimed to stand for transparency, modesty, moderation, tolerance, humility, reason, and calm. Today, just feet from Caesars Palace, he will don the robes of the emperor and spin minor discretion into gargantuan usurpation, all norms and touchstones be damned. However convincing are the promises of the ambitious, Lord Acton always has the last laugh.

Was Mr. Obama lying then or is he lying now? Obama stooges such as Jonathan Gruber, Matt Yglesias, Dan Rather and Toure say: yes.

yglesias_sophistry_8-10

On the other hand, it’s not like lying isn’t a bipartisan sport at times: “Republicans Can Defund Obama’s Executive Order, They Just Don’t Want To,” Sean Davis writes at the Federalist.

The Gray Lady is not happy about a lawless, out of control White House, and demands checks and balances be put in place after November’s stunning election results:

Ask a long-serving member of the United States Senate — like, say, Patrick Leahy of Vermont — to reflect on the Senate’s role in our constitutional government, and he will almost invariably tell you a story from our nation’s founding that may or may not be apocryphal. It concerns an exchange that supposedly took place between Thomas Jefferson and George Washington in 1787, the year of the constitutional convention in Philadelphia. Jefferson, who had been serving as America’s ambassador to France during the convention, asked Washington over breakfast upon his return why he and the other framers created a Senate — in addition to the previously planned House of Representatives and presidency — in his absence.

“Why did you pour that coffee into your saucer?” Washington reportedly replied.

“To cool it,” Jefferson answered.

“Even so,” Washington said, “we pour our legislation into the senatorial saucer to cool it.”

The United States Senate has been called the world’s greatest deliberative body. By serving six-year terms — as opposed to the two-year terms in the more populist and considerably larger House of Representatives — senators are supposed to be able to stand above the ideological fray and engage in thoughtful and serious debate. What’s more, the filibuster rule allows a single senator to halt the creep of political passions into the decision-making process by blocking a given vote.

Perhaps nowhere is the ethos of the Senate, this commitment to principle over politics, more memorably captured than in the classic 1939 film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” when Jimmy Stewart, who plays an idealistic freshman senator wrongfully accused of graft, refuses to yield the floor until he has cleared his name. (After almost 24 hours, he winds up passing out from exhaustion but is ultimately exonerated.)

“We’re supposed to be the conscience of the nation,” Senator Leahy told me recently in his Washington office, which is decorated with New England folk art, including a print of a dog and cat cuddling on a throw rug that looks as if it could be on loan from a bed-and-breakfast in his home state.

Leahy is one of Congress’s so-called Watergate babies. He was elected to the Senate following Nixon’s resignation in 1974, and his arrival on Capitol Hill coincided with the sweeping bipartisan effort to investigate the Nixon administration’s abuses of executive power. “There was a sense inside the Senate among both Republicans and Democrats that the government had gotten off course and that we had a responsibility to find out what happened,” Leahy recalled.

Strong stuff. Of course, it was published on November 7th 2008, and the Times would go on to quickly forget its own words — if they even believed them in the first place. Since then, the paper has reveled in the glory of one-party government (as long as it’s as far to the left as possible) and nuking the Constitution.

No doubt, the only reservations the Carlos Slim-backed newspaper has on Obama’s amnesty is what a President Cruz or President Walker might do with such a precedent established. In the meantime, as Roger Kimball writes today, “It’s not every day that you get to have a ringside seat at the birth of tyranny.  Tune in tonight and you might have that dubious privilege.” The Times in particular should love their front row seats.

Related: “Watch Obama Admit That Obama’s Immigration Executive Order Is Illegal.”

Well, it’s not like the man held himself out as a professor who used to teach the Constitution while running for the presidency or anything.

Exit quote:

GruberGate’s Insider Problem

November 19th, 2014 - 5:49 pm

“So when I see journalists saying that Gruber’s revelations don’t matter because he’s just kind of awkwardly saying something that everyone knew, I get a little jittery,” former(?) Obama supporter Megan McArdle writes at the house organ for crony socialism, Bloomberg.com:

That politicians should try to exploit the accounting rules was inevitable; that is what people do with accounting rules. I’m not saying that’s what the rules are for, or that they do no good; I’m just saying that about eight seconds after your rules are made, some bright Johnny will start figuring out a way to game them.

What is not inevitable is that journalists should effectively sanction this by saying it’s no big deal. We don’t have to get elected, after all. And those politicians and policy makers aren’t our bosses; the reading public is.

Now who’s being naive, Kay?

Quote of the Day

November 19th, 2014 - 11:52 am

“Send this police chief to Ferguson because this is the TRUTH they need to hear!” The Right Scoop blog notes:

Man oh man this is awesome. Police Chief Edward Flynn spoke to reporters on November 6 after a Fire and Police Commission meeting concerning the shooting of Dontre Hamilton. And he doesn’t hold back with the brazen truth about people who care more about a black teen shot by a cop than they do about all the violent crimes against blacks in Milwaukee, something he says is the true threat to the racial disparity.

Spot on. Watch the whole thing.

 

Unexpectedly!

November 19th, 2014 - 11:29 am

“Another Keynesian Fail: Japan ‘Unexpectedly’ Falls Into Another Recession,” Tom Blumer writes at NewBusters:

There were several more of those infamous “U-word” (“unexpectedly”) sightings yesterday in the business press, as Japan — to the surprise of no one who has successfully avoided the Keynesian koolaid — reported that its economy shrank for the second quarter in a row, officially falling into yet another recession.

The U-word hit the trifecta, appearing in reports at the Associated Press, Bloomberg and Reuters.

The Keynesian clowns who are running economic policy in the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and who describe their program as “Abenomics,” really thought that raising the country’s national sales tax by 60 percent from 5 percent to 8 percent would cause only one quarter of pain, that the country would return to a growth trajectory after that, and that it could handle yet another planned steep sales tax increase.

“Instead, here’s what happens,” Tom writes, along with the gory economic details.

Who could have predicted such results, except for, well, just about everybody who isn’t invested in FDR-era Keynesianism or its supersized Obama version, crony socialism?

QED:

Related: “Where are all the startups? More on America’s economic calcification,” from James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute.

Promise Meets Expiration Date

November 19th, 2014 - 10:52 am


What could go wrong?