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Ed Driscoll

Daily Archives: September 29, 2009

ACORN v. Polanski

September 29th, 2009 - 9:16 pm

At NRO’s Corner, Jonah Goldberg quotes an email from a reader on the MSM’s surprisingly elastic resources:

Isn’t it interesting that the MSM claimed a week ago that it was too distracted by two wars, health care debate, the economy etc to dedicate resources to cover the Acorn mess, yet they seem to have plenty of time and personnel to give a boatload of coverage to a 60 plus year old pedophile fugitive who hasn’t been in the news for two decades.  Yep, that’s more critical to our societal fabric right now….

Oddly enough, it is, but not reasons that the average L.A. Timesman might think: like little else recently, it’s exposed the planetary-sized gap between “Big Hollywood” (to coin a phrase) and the rest of America. As the Professor writes, linking to a must-read response from Ann Althouse to French philosopher and libertine Bernard-Henri Lévy, “because the real argument is that as one of the creative elite, Polanski is supposed to enjoy a sort of droit de seigneur — but if you come right out and say that, the peasants will get angry.”

They certainly have — and rightly so.

Update: At Maggie’s Farm, Bruce Kesler writes:

Just listening to the radio on the way home I heard Hugh Hewitt suggest what he called the “game-set-match” question to Hollywoodites supporting Roman Polanski not being tried: “Should someone drugging and raping your 13-year old daughter be prosecuted?” (I’d add sister or mother, as all in Hollywood must have at least one of the above.)

The shortest Hollywood film ever would be a unanimous ”yes” from all.  However, it may be too much to assume that none would answer “no.”  It is Hollyweird, after all.

Sadly, true.

How Bauhaus Arrived At Your House

September 29th, 2009 - 6:56 pm

After escaping from Dessau Germany in the mid-1920s, (with a little assist from America’s Philip Johnson), it apparently established a toehold in the kitchen at some point in the 1930s, as James Lileks illustrates in the latest addition to his sprawling Website. Overall, a number of the designs (more “moderne” than Bauhaus-style modern, to be fully accurate) seem remarkably fresh, even 70 years later. But the busy patterns on the linoleum floor covering (then considered a surprisingly breakthrough product) are pretty frightening. Or as James writes:

Oh yeah. I’d live here, for several reasons: the color. The porthole. The machine-for-living aesthetic. The linoleum!

Well, maybe not the linoleum. You take a look at that some morning when you have a hangover and dropped your eggs on the floor, it would be trouble with a capital Puke.

Heh. As Lileks adds, these are “ultra-modern kitchens you could afford, as soon as they finished up with the Depression and Hitler.” And once they did, modernism would become, for better or worse (and often worse), the mid-century design aesthetic.

Well, Glad We Cleared That Up — Updated

September 29th, 2009 - 3:40 pm

Andy Levy of Fox News’ Red Eye show tweets, “Shocking: Woody Allen signs petition demanding Polanski’s release.”

The Guardian adds the following names to the list:

Woody Allen, David Lynch and Martin Scorsese today added their names to a petition demanding the immediate release of Roman Polanski from detention in Zurich. The director was arrested on Saturday over a three-decade-old underage sex case when he arrived to receive a lifetime achievement award at the city’s film festival.

“Film-makers in France, in Europe, in the United States and around the world are dismayed by this decision,” says the petition, which is co-ordinated by the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs Dramatiques (SACD), a film industry organisation which also represents performance and visual artists.

“It seems inadmissible to them that an international cultural event, paying homage to one of the greatest contemporary film-makers, is used by police to apprehend him,” it adds.

The petition has now been signed by more than 70 film industry luminaries, including Polanski’s fellow directors Michael Mann, Wim Wenders, Pedro Almodóvar, Darren Aronofsky, Terry Gilliam, Julian Schnabel, the Dardenne brothers, Alejandro González Iñárritu, Wong Kar-Wai, Walter Salles and Jonathan Demme. Actors Tilda Swinton, Monica Bellucci and Asia Argento, as well as producer Harvey Weinstein, have also put their names on the petition. Yesterday, Weinstein stated he was “calling on every film-maker we can to help fix this terrible situation”.

The five members of the jury at the Zurich film festival, headed by the actor Debra Winger, yesterday released a statement protesting that the event “had been exploited in an unfair fashion”.

At least one jury member, producer Henning Molfenter, has now boycotted the festival, with others expected to follow suit. “There is no way I’d go to Switzerland now. You can’t watch films knowing Roman Polanski is sitting in a cell 5km away,” he told the Hollywood Reporter.

France’s Society of Film Directors joined in the chorus of disapproval, voicing concern that the arrest “could have disastrous consequences for freedom of expression across the world”.

Yes! It could mark the slippery slope back to the horrible days of the Hays Office — that neanderthal period when Hollywood made its best movies.

And as “the Arquette Sisters”, also members of the vast Gutfeldian media empire ask, “It raises the question what else do these people believe in if Polanski’s crime is defensible?”

Update: Related thoughts from the Anchoress and Fausta Wertz; meanwhile, film critic/blogger Christian Toto is disapointed that Martin Scorsese is defending Polanski:

Hollywood’s penchant for moral relativism can be tough to swallow, especially for an unabashed movie lover.

As much as I adore Woody Allen’s best films, I’m aghast at how he segued from dating Mia Farrow to stepping out with her step-daughter, Soon Yi. It never stopped actors from signing up to star in Allen’s films, and even taking a pay cut for the honor.

So when some Hollywood heavy hitters signed a petition demanding the release of director Roman Polanski, I knew what to expect. I also guessed a few of the names on said list. (hat tip: Ed Driscoll)

And as PunditReview notes on Twitter, “Diane Sawyer’s hubby, director Mike Nichols, is cool with raping a 13-year old.”

Since, as that left likes to say, “silence equals consent” (or worse), at this point, I sort of assume that anyone in Hollywood who hasn’t spoken up in outrage over Polanski’s crime supports him, at least tacitly.

Something to keep in mind the next time Hollywood slips into one of its frequent puritanical phases.

Related: Would President Obama’s “safe school czar” be cool with Polanski? Certainly sounds that way, if the information in this Washington Times op-ed is correct.

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post goes all-in to defend Polanski.

Update: Welcome Big Hollywood readers clicking in from the site’s headlines — the most complete list of Polanski supporters in the Hollywood and European film communities seems to be this one. It’s also linked in the above post, but I wanted to make it a bit easier to find.

Meanwhile, two rare voices of dissent in an otherwise lockstep artistic community:

“Polanski-admitted raping a 13 yr old-whys every1 in the arts upset hes facing jail? cause hes a gifted director? what am i missing?” asked bewildered singer-songwriter Jewel via Twitter.

Also chiming in was The View‘s Sherri Shepherd.

“Whew…long day at The View…two shows today…hot debate over the Statutory Rapist Polanski. 45 year old man plies a 13yr old w/drugs & Liquor and anally & orally penetrates her w/o her consent is a RAPIST,” she tweeted. “We hunt down 75 year old Nazis. We must protect our children.”

Sadly, Whoopi doesn’t agree.

So what does it take to be shunned in Hollywood? the “Trogolopundit” offers photographic evidence of the quickest route to becoming a Tinseltown pariah.

(Bumped to top.)

Update: After fleeing the US in the mid-1970s, Polanski would of course arrive in Paris, where he quickly resumed his film career, complete with A-list Hollywood stars at his beck and call. It was all part of the, “horrible, soul-wrenching price for the infamy surrounding his actions”, as the L.A. Times recently wrote. In 1979, he told one interviewer:

“If I had killed somebody, it wouldn’t have had so much appeal to the press, you see? But… f—ing, you see, and the young girls. Judges want to f— young girls. Juries want to f— young girls. Everyone wants to f— young girls!”

What a vile little man.

Ray Kurzweil believes that “By 2040 you will be able to upload your brain.”

Here’s a nice bookend to the previous post on Dan Rather. Another powerful player in the legacy media of the first half of the naughts makes an appearance in John Podhoretz’s latest post at Commentary:

Howell Raines, the one-time editor of the New York Times who left in disgrace after the exposure of the fallacious reporting of his protégé Jayson Blair, mis-memorializes the late William Safire in a jaw-dropping piece on the New Republic’s website. Key quote:

In his grasp of political combat and public policy, Bill Safire was one of the smartest men I ever knew. His rigid loyalty to the Republican Party stood in contrast to his intellectual habits, which were liberal in the old-fashioned sense of being comprehensive and open to new information.

Leave aside the classically parochial and self-congratulatory suggestion that non-liberal ideas “stand in contrast” to ones that allow one to be “open to new information.” Raines’s description of Safire as a rigid Republican loyalist is simply and embarrassingly wrong. Safire voted for Bill Clinton in 1992 because he was so disgusted by George Bush the Elder. He spent much of his time in his final years as a columnist excoriating the second Bush administration for its transgressions against his civil-libertarian views. Raines was his supervisor during many of those years. Maybe he would have done well, in that role, to have read Safire’s actual writing once in a while.

And of course, it’s a classic case of projection. When did the hyper-liberal Raines (to borrow Andrew Sullivan’s(!) formulation) ever deviate in the slightest from his own rigid party loyalty?

Raines’ stewardship of the Times may have permanently damaged his paper’s reputation; at Pajamas, Jennifer Rubin explores the sorry state of the 2009-era Times.

pull-the-pin-dan-8-09

Five years to the month after Rather’s most infamous moment, and its resulting circle-the-wagons defense by an old media colleague which inadvertendly helped to launch PJ Media, Dan’s suite against CBS has been tossed, Ed Morrissey writes:

The state court of appeals in New York has dismissed a lawsuit from Dan Rather against CBS for wrongful termination and $70 million in damages. The court was apparently not impressed with the claim that CBS did any more damage to his reputation than he did himself with a collection of fraudulent documents and unsubstantiated allegations:

Bad news for Dan Rather: His $70 million lawsuit against CBS is no more.

In a 19-page decision made public Tuesday, a state appeals court dismissed the legendary newsman’s suit against CBS. …

A lawyer for Rather and a CBS spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Jammie Wearing Fool hopes Rather will now slip into obscurity. That should be easy to do as a reporter for HDNet, of course. Obscurity is usually the final stop after humiliation, and in truth Rather has mostly arrived at that destination except for news about this lawsuit.

Will he appeal? What else does he have to do?

Well, the completely unbiased and totally objective newsman does have those fundraisers for the far left Nation magazine to keep him busy.

Update: Courage, Dan!

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The Next Liberal Pundit At The Post

September 29th, 2009 - 11:18 am

The Washington Post sounds like it’s channeling Iowahawk these days — though I trust the Bard of Des Moines far more to get the facts of a story right, before launching into intentional satire.

As Hot Air quips, “Newspapers in decline: It’s come to this.” Danny Glover adds:

The Washington Post is conducting a pundit contest to find “the next Dana Milbank or Eugene Robinson.” Michelle Malkin doesn’t expect the newspaper to get many takers:

The barriers to entry into the opinion journalism market are zero. Gatekeepers have been rendered obsolete by blogs, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. And the allure of a “mainstream” media affiliation has fallen exponentially in value.

Malkin is right about the nonexistent barriers to entry, but I disagree with her underlying point. The Post has a huge audience, and I suspect that many bloggers, not to mention aspiring journalists, will jump at the chance to have their work seen by the readership of a paper the size of the Post, even when it is in decline.

Remember, too, that more liberals than conservatives want to be journalists. Contestants also aren’t competing for a long-term job at the Post, but a baker’s dozen of clips from there might boost the winner’s chances of landing a job in a tight and transforming media market.

The bad news: Bright, young conservatives need not apply. The Post has a habit of hiring up-and-coming liberal pundits. Odds are good that the contest is aimed directly at that market.

If readers alone were to pick the winner, a conservative writer with a strong social network might stand a chance. But you can bet that the “panel of Post personalities” won’t include more than token conservatives, and the panel will be the final arbiter.

A conservative has about as much chance of winning a contest to be the The Washington Post’s next pundit as he or she does of becoming the “Opinion Media Monitor” (aka, “Secret Agent Editor“) at The New York Times.

Assuming the Post’s next pundit will not be writing anonymously, as is the Times’ wont these days, I nominate Miskel Spillman.

“The Manchurian President”

September 29th, 2009 - 11:06 am

I’m sorry, but I completely disagree with this post by Steve Green. As far as I’m concerned, President Obama is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life….

Filed under: Muggeridge's Law

Smitty, Stacy McCain’s co-blogger asks, “Does this tune sound familiar?”

As Ed Driscoll notes, “Hollywood Unites To Defend Polanski“. Forget the “What if that was a conservative” question. The more interesting question is “How does this resemble Ted Kennedy?”

On the one hand, we’re asked to justify statutory rape. On the other, some sort of murder. We’ll let the legal beagles split those hairs.

In either case, the left enjoins us to reject standard interpretations of the law, and pursue instead some hand-wavy sort of justice: “He’s an artisté”, or “He’s done so much good legislative penance”.

So I differ slightly with Ed on this one. It’s not so much a dark Kafka moment of the Law attacking an individual, but a bifurcation of the idea of equality under the law into a common and elite branch of law.

Oddly enough, I think that’s what I was trying to say, though obviously now in retrospect I wish I had phrased my thoughts more clearly.

I think I’ve been pretty clear though, about how disgusting I think Polanski’s original act was. In contrast, I wonder if Whoopi Goldberg has an ounce of shame over her remarks today on the View?

Meanwhile, Jim Lindgren of the Volokh Conspiracy writes, in an Instalanched post:

When I was running university film societies in the 1970s and early 1980s, I considered Roman Polanski’s Chinatown the best film made in the 1970s. I don’t know what I would think today because I haven’t seen it for three decades. And I still consider Rosemary’s Baby one of the best horror movies ever made.

I mention this because good artists are not necessarily good people and bad people are not necessarily bad artists.

That last sentence is actually a topic I explored back in the very early days of Blogcritics, with an artist whose sins, though venial, were, to the best of my knowledge nowhere in the league of Polanski’s.

And to follow-up on a post from early Monday morning, Patterico spots a Washington Post journalist’s latest modified limited hangout; as Patterico phrases it, “Anne Applebaum: I Had Absolutely No Way to Know That My Husband Was Helping Polanski — That Is, Other Than by Reading a Story Which I Myself Linked.”

Finally, to bring this post full circle, regarding the Kennedy clan, “U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy fears that supercharged passions fueling the national health-care debate may lead to violence.”

A topic he’s certainly familiar with.

Update: Further thoughts here.

“California, Here We Come”

September 29th, 2009 - 12:49 am

In the New York Post, E.J. McMahon writes:

How much, specifically, should the [New York State] Legislature reduce school aid? How about forcing action, for once, on Medicaid? And what’s happened to the promised cost-saving reforms to New York’s unaffordably generous public pensions?

Paterson keeps talking about the need for reductions, but has yet to publicly propose any. Instead, he’s been squandering precious time, claiming he would prefer to reach some budgetary consensus with the nation’s most discredited and dysfunctional Legislature.

The resulting leadership vacuum all but sucked the air out of the Red Room during last week’s “leaders’ meeting” at the state Capitol.

“I am asking that the Legislature find ways to address this structural [budget] defect before we get into very, very serous trouble,” Paterson said.

But it’s obvious that New York is already in “very, very serious trouble.” And Paterson by now should have done much more to start addressing it.

After all, in the absence of a specific gubernatorial proposal for balancing the budget, the Assembly and Senate have had nothing to react to — and no reason to convene the special session that the governor says is essential.

The stage for this looming disaster was set by the April deal on the 2009-10 budget. Paterson and his fellow Democrats in the Legislature agreed to a noxious stew of tax and fee increases, temporary federal aid and increased spending — all in the face of a severe economic downturn whose full impact had yet to be felt in New York.

Surprise, surprise: The tax hikes have brought in lower-than-projected revenues as the economy continued to weaken. Passage of a federal health-care-reform bill could make matters worse — either by raising federal tax rates on New York’s high-income households, or by increasing the state’s Medicaid spending or some combination of both.

Meanwhile, Paterson disclosed last week that the estimate of this year’s deficit has risen from $2.1 billion to $3 billion. His budget-crunchers were already projecting some cash-flow problems under the lower number; at this rate, New York will be stiffing vendors and inviting a credit-rating downgrade by spring.

California, here we come.

And speaking of which, the No Oil for Pacifists blog notes that “California Government Admits Regulations Kill Huge Numbers of Jobs”:

Regulations on small businesses in California have cost the state 3.8 million jobs, according to a report quietly released by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office this week.

The report, authored by Sanjay B. Varshney, the dean of the business school at California State University Sacramento and Dennis H. Tootelian, a marketing professor at Sacramento State, totaled the “direct, indirect and induced” costs of regulation to calculate the [burden of] $134,122 per small business in 2007 and caused about one job loss per small business.

“This study provides the most comprehensive and complete analysis of the total regulatory burden in California,” the authors wrote in their findings.

They relied on data compiled by Forbes and used a complicated formula to calculate the primary and secondary costs of regulations. They concede that “much more work will need to be done to determine the exact nature of potential remedies to the regulatory burden.”

So regulations cost the average small business $134 thousand dollars? How about some examples of that? Recall this from June:

Bureaucrat scuffs dream of homeless shoe shiner

He sleeps under a bridge, washes in a public bathroom and was panhandling for booze money 11 months ago, but now Larry Moore is the best-dressed shoeshine man in the city. When he gets up from his cardboard mattress, he puts on a coat and tie. It’s a reminder of how he has turned things around.

In fact, until last week it looked like Moore was going to have saved enough money to rent a room and get off the street for the first time in six years. But then, in a breathtakingly clueless move, an official for the Department of Public Works told Moore that he has to fork over the money he saved for his first month’s rent to purchase a $491 sidewalk vendor permit.

“I had $573 ready to go,” Moore said, who needs $600 for the rent. “This tore that up. But I’ve been homeless for six years. Another six weeks isn’t going to kill me.”

Even the bootstrapping homeless sidewalk vendor has to pay off the Government Mafia. It is far easier for him to be homeless in San Francisco, and when he tries to help himself, some bureaucrat has to push him down. Indeed, the homeless flock to San Francisco. Just one reason why California has nearly a third of the welfare recipients in the country.

So, the bottom line is that the California legislature manufactures job-killing regulations, then has to create the biggest welfare program in the country to care for the out-of-work and ne’er do wells. These people have too much time, too much influence and too little sense.

There is hope — a movement in California to change the full-time legislature to a part-time legislature. Of course, nothing energizes government workers like the thought they might lose their plushy do-nothing jobs.

Prediction: Part Time Legislature in a Landslide next November!

I hope so, but given this state’s race to the bottom, I wouldn’t count on it. No Oil For Pacifists adds, “The total California labor force stands at 18.3 million people, down from an all time high of 18.5 million, as people have started to leave the state for who knows where.”

That’s the subject of this amusing San Diego Union-Tribune cartoon, found via Theo Spark — though in terms of states with the friendliest business climates, corporations would be better off in not heading all the way east, in contradistinction to the time of Horace Greeley:

theo3

Given enviropocalyptic policies such as this, who can blame them?

And finally, in the midst of an economic crisis that’s virtually entirely created by rapacious and out of control government regulations, the New York Times frets the failure of socialism to catch on even more than it already has in the original blue states.

Afghanistan, Then And Now

September 29th, 2009 - 12:20 am

Candidate Obama in 2008 on Afghanistan: “Losing is not an option”:

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During that period, as another video highlights, Obama blasted McCain and Bush “For Taking Their Eye Off The Ball In Afghanistan.”

All of which is why, as president, Obama has been in constant contact with his generals in the field:

Gen. Stanley McChrystal says he’s talked to President Obama only once since taking command of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan over the summer, a revelation that drew swift criticism from some who are concerned that the president is putting off McChrystal’s request for more troops.

“It’s startling,” Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., told FOX News.

McChrystal talked about his interaction with the president in an interview with CBS News.

“I’ve talked to the president since I’ve been here once on a (video teleconference),” he said.

“You talked to him once in 70 days?” CBS’ David Martin asked.

“That’s correct,” McChrystal said.

(Which isn’t all that surprising in one sense: As the RNC warned in 2008, “As Chairman Of The Foreign Relations Subcommittee On European Affairs, Obama Has Not Held A Single Hearing On The NATO Mission In Afghanistan.”)

As more and more members of the left such as the New York Times’ Frank Rich come out in favor of pulling the plug on a war they wholeheartedly supported up as “the Good War”, at least up until, oh, about the end of the day on November 4 of last year, former U.S. Army vet Baldilocks looks back at her numerous posts during that period that warned of what was to come, and writes, “Told Ya So.”

Update: Flopping Aces has plenty of additional earlier quotes from Obama on Afghanistan.