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MSNBC: ‘Spiraling Out of Control’

January 31st, 2014 - 1:49 pm


“MSNBC’s latest public apology shows the network has a problem that is ‘spiraling out of control,’ The Blaze’s S.E. Cupp said Thursday:”

The network prompted outrage Wednesday after it sent a tweet claiming that “the rightwing” would supposedly “hate” a Cheerios commercial because it featured a biracial family. It eventually responded to online pushback by deleting the offending tweet and issuing a retraction.

Cupp is a former co-host of MSNBC’s “The Cycle,” a show on which race “came up a lot.”

“I always welcomed that idea where someone, some less thoughtful pundit, would introduce that idea that half the country is racist because they’re Republican, because I thought, ‘This is great. If liberalism exposes tolerance, I’m glad we are showing and exposing that lack of tolerance for what it is,” she said Thursday on TheBlaze TV’s “Real News.” “It’s all they can see.”

Cupp added that it was also fun “shooting down” these ideas when they were brought up by her former MSNBC colleagues.

“But when it comes in an official capacity from the network,” she said, referring to the Cheerios tweet, “I think that’s deeply disappointing. Deeply, deeply disappointing.”

It may be “deeply disappointing,” but it shouldn’t be at all surprising — and short-term, it’s simply not fixable. As the ideology that once described itself as “liberal” from about 1920 until about 2007 or so has moved further and further left ever since Al Gore ran for the White House in 2000 (and then much more so in the fevered response to his loss), racism has become increasingly hard-wired into the modern left’s mindset. (Not that it wasn’t there previously.) Recall in 2008, during the Democrat primaries, when the late Nora Ephron was trashing Hillary Clinton supporters in the Huffington Post: “This is an election about whether the people of Pennsylvania hate blacks more than they hate women. And when I say people, I don’t mean people, I mean white men.” (So white men aren’t people? Joseph Goebbels, call your office.) Near concurrently, while attempting to tamp down the outrage over his association with Jeremiah Wright and the racialism of his cohorts, Barack Obama described his grandmother as “a typical white person.”

Spencer Ackerman, then of the Washington Independent suggesting on the JournoList, also in response to the Rev. Wright firestorm, “take one of them — Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists. This makes *them* sputter with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction.”

Or after the election, the seemingly daily insults hurled at the Tea Party as being racist, many of which emanated from MSNBC hosts or regular guests such as Janeane “Racism straight up!” Garofalo. Or the claims that “Maybe fifteen people about fifteen times” shouted the N-word on the steps of Congress when Nancy Pelosi and her giant novelty gavel led the brigade that passed Obamacare in 2010. That effort by the left to smear the right as racist was debunked by the late Andrew Breitbart and colleagues so thoroughly that even JournoList member Ben Smith, then of the Politico declared, “I think you’ve pretty much won this one, no?”

No. Because otherwise, we wouldn’t have had MSNBC’s meltdowns late last year, culminating in Martin Bashir’s racialist-inspired scatology-laden rant directed towards Sarah Palin, and the panel led by Melissa Harris-Perry goofing on Mitt Romney’s adopted black grandson. Etc., etc.

As Reason’s Jesse Walker astutely noted in 2009, elites at the center of power are as paranoid as any fringe group — and certainly, the boardroom of NBC counts as a center of power — one of the centers of power — for this administration.

Of course, when Hillary and/or Elizabeth Warren hit the campaign trail in earnest next year, get ready for the left to pivot on a dime (historically, they’ve always been able to perform sharper and faster 180-degree pivots than Tony Hawk on his best day) to declaring rampant sexism across the land, too.

MSNBC may tamp down its daily racism — if only because it’s currently shining such a powerful spotlight on how the left thinks about its fellow countrymen — but it’s simply too systemic to disappear from the left’s worldview.

Update: QED:

At Commentary, Peter Wehner adds, “This incident demonstrates how for some on the left virtually everything is reduced to politics — even a cereal ad. It reveals an obsession with politics that is distorted and unhealthy.” Wehner’s post is titled, “For Leftists, the Personal is Still the Political”; read the whole thing.

‘Now They Tell Us’

March 4th, 2012 - 12:57 pm

At Power Line, John Hinderaker and one of his readers spot yet another unintentionally hilarious moment at the New York Times, courtesy of columnist Joe Nocera, who writes:

During the McGovern-Mondale era, the Democrats were exactly where the Republicans are now: the party had been taken over by its most extreme liberal faction, and it had lost touch with the core concerns of the middle class….Those terrible losses in 1972 and, especially, in 1984 were the Democrats’ shock therapy.

What happened in the interim? In effect, moderate Democrats wrested the party back from its most liberal wing….“We had become a party that had stopped worrying about people who were working and only focused on people who weren’t working,” [Al] From told me. “The party didn’t understand how big a concern crime was. It had stopped talking about opportunity and growth.”

As one of Power Line’s readers chortles:

Wait…WTF??? NOW they’re telling us this? (While conveniently leaving out the Dukakis disaster…”competence, not ideology.”) What did they say THEN? Weren’t they actively denying these claims about Democrats, at the time? Weren’t they relentlessly attacking conservatives and Republicans with every weapon at hand precisely to deny that these issues were shortcomings of the Dems and the left? Indeed, were there not many voices heard even at the Times–THEN–denouncing conservatives for even raising these issues on the usual grounds of heartlessness, racism and venality?

Let’s go through what Nocera wrote, which is a piñata of humor; any way you swing at it, comedy treats emerge. First up, at Power Line, Hinderaker answers his reader’s question, “What did they say then?” and goes through the Times’ archives to find the expected glowing sales pitches for McGovern, Mondale and Dukakis, during the very era when the New York Times itself “had been taken over by its most extreme liberal faction, and it had lost touch with the core concerns of the middle class,” as its columnist writes. Just read William McGowan’s recent book Gray Lady Down for example after example of how accurate that was.

But let’s go back to Nocera’s quote once again:

During the McGovern-Mondale era, the Democrats were exactly where the Republicans are now: the party had been taken over by its most extreme liberal faction, and it had lost touch with the core concerns of the middle class.

I doubt if I’d call Dubya, Mitt Romney or John Boehner the GOP’s “most extreme liberal faction,” though certainly both Bush #41 and #43 often found themselves in trouble when they decided to work with the same Democrats that Nocera is decrying. Bush #41 was talked into caving on “No New Taxes,” his one campaign promise, which both brought on the recession of 1990, and was later demagogued against him by the same Democratic Party who initially welcomed the notion. It was a classic case of Animal House’s “You f***ed up – you trusted us” motto in action.

Similarly, Bush #43 certainly welcomed every opportunity to work across the aisle, whether it was Ted Kennedy and “No Child Left Behind,” bringing in Underperformin’ Norman Mineta as a cabinet official, or reaching out to Joe Lieberman. Just as with Bush #41 and taxes, Regime Change in Iraq was a carryover from the lip service at least of Al Gore, as well as Bill Clinton, and Madeleine Albright. And there wasn’t anything conservative about TARP, as savvy conservatives wrote at the time. Certainly Romney having brought socialized medicine to Massachusetts does little for his conservative bona fides, but in the Obama era, that doesn’t quite make him a member of either party’s “most extreme liberal faction.” Similarly, while Boehner’s waffling during the debt crisis did nothing to reduce the Debt Star explosion to come, he can’t be blamed for the runaway entitlement state and spending, which began under FDR and was super-duper-mega-sized by Mr. Obama.

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“American Pride is Back Out of the Closet!” And Iowahawk has some fun with the newly jingoistic left:

Of course, I’m not naive enough to think our current wave of national unity will last forever. At some point, possibly after the next election, American troops will once again assume their traditional role of psychotic baby-killing objects of fear and pity. And, doubtlessly, those of us who still admire them must once again assume our traditional role as America’s flag-humping racist chickenhawks. But when that day comes, we can look back at the week of May 1, 2011 and realize that it isn’t personal. Hey, that’s just the way the chad crumbles.

As Jim Geraghty wrote in 2008, when the pro-Obama left Alinskized Hillary Clinton and her supporters (only to welcome Hillary back into the family as Secretary of State):

In and of itself, it’s shocking, but it’s otherworldly when we think about what Hillary Clinton has meant to liberals for most of the past sixteen years.Maybe Bill Richardson owes James Carville money, because that would help explain the bitter jihad the former Clinton strategist seems to be on, so relentlessly decrying the New Mexico Governor as “Judas” that Richardson stopped doing media appearances. It didn’t take much for Obama-backing General McPeak to declare Bill Clinton the equivalent of Joe McCarthy. And if you’ve read any Hillary vs. Obama thread on a liberal blog lately, you know that there have been friendlier back-and-forth exchanges in snakepits.

There’s something vaguely reassuring about all this, from the view of sitting on the right. It reveals to conservatives that the nastiness exhibited in our earlier disagreements with these folks was never personal; these people are clearly nasty to anyone who disagrees with them. Geraldine Ferraro’s long service to the Democratic party means nothing to many Obama backers; she’s a racist, “David Duke in drag,” as Rhodes put it. I’m sure Senator Patrick Leahy thought his decades of work on the left side of the aisle had bought him some street cred from feminists, but no, he was called sexist when he called on Hillary to leave the race.

Hillary gets called a “monster” by Obama’s surrogates; Hillary’s surrogates wonder out loud if Obama ever sold drugs. Today Clinton surrogate Ed Rendell speculates that Americans know only half the story of Barack Obama. Day in, day out, in this race it continues.

Is there nastiness on the right? Sure. But it’s hard to imagine somebody being the equivalent hero to the right the way Hillary was a hero to the left, so suddenly and severely pitched overboard – no, that’s not it, denounced and demonized — when somebody else came along.

See also: career arc of Joe Lieberman, from Al Gore’s vice presidential nominee to pariah in six years.

To the best of my knowledge, George Bush never used the left’s 180 degree pivot on Iraq in 1998 versus 2003 against them; will the next GOP president be more aggressive at political jujitsu?

Related: “Hipster Irony Alert!: Watch Stephen Colbert Celebrate Results of Cheney’s ‘Secret, Lawless Assassination Squad’ and ‘Torture.’”

Related: Schadenfreudegasm:  “Telegraph, Citing WikiLeaks: Break In Hunt for Bin Ladin May Have Been Provided By Not Only Enhanced Interrogation Techniques, But by Enhanced Interrogation Techniques Performed On An Al Qaeda Operative Captured in Iraq.”

Howard Dean Comes Full Circle

March 23rd, 2011 - 2:41 pm

At Hot Air, Allahpundit writes:

To cleanse the palate, via RCP, skip ahead to 6:00 and see for yourself the depths to which this guy will sink to defend interventionism once there’s a Democrat giving the “go” order in the Middle East instead of a Republican. Remember, in 2003, Dean-o was the anti-war candidate, the guy who galvanized the nutroots by lashing Bush on Iraq. Fast-forward eight years, past a stint as party chairman, and now he’s mumbling about having to “take chances.” When Joe Klein calls him on the hypocrisy, he waves him away with leftist boilerplate about having been lied to about WMD. In fact, though, Dean opposed the Iraq war before we knew anything about the fate of Saddam’s weapons program; he was thinking about running for president and saw an opening among the anti-war crowd and he filled it. The whole reason progressives hold him in such esteem is that he questioned the war before the WMD issue came to the forefront — just as Obama did, long before his own metamorphosis into a humanitarian interventionist.

Before skipping ahead to the six-minute mark in the Real Clear Politics video, skip ahead to about 45 second into this clip (or watch the whole thing if you’ve never seen it before; it’s remarkably instructive), to see Dean in action in 1998 defending President Clinton and Vice President Gore’s calls for regime change in Iraq. “There are such things as international outlaws. I’m not sure China is, but I’m quite sure Iran and Iraq are,” Dean was saying back then on the DC chat show circuit.

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Of course, by 2003, much more pressing domestic issues would occupy Howard’s mind.

Update: And since Joe Biden is featured on the above video’s screen-cap, it’s worth mentioning that he’s made some remarkable pivots himself on the topic.

Living the Smugness!

March 22nd, 2011 - 7:58 am

Asking if Obama was playing the rubes, or if was he a rube himself, The Troglopundit has a great turn of the phrase here:

Ed Driscoll is the latest conservative blogger who’s living the smugness:

The Great Barack & War Swindle

…Having just punked the anti-war far left, Obama is similarly asking them — where are you going to go? He’s got them in his pocket.

But: did Obama really “punk” the anti-war left? Or did Obama get punked just like they did?

Some of us warned the voters: Senator Obama was dangerously inexperienced to be considered for the Big Chair. Simply becoming President Obama did not suddenly convey the necessary experience onto him.

Senator Obama had, up to that point, had things easy. How hard is it to become a “community organizer” in an Alinsky-driven political culture like Chicago’s? How hard is it to win a Senate race in overwhelmingly Democratic Illinois against a sex-scandal-shamed Republican?

Obama might be forgiven for not realizing that things can be harder than they appear. So he said all the right things, and made all the right promises, and then he won. And then he found out just how impossible fulfilling all his promises would be.

As much as I love the phrase, which would make a great punk rock album title (BILLY IDOL: LIVING THE SMUGNESS — NOW OUT ON EMI), I’m not intentionally trying to be smug, let alone “living the smugness” — but it is amazing to watch the latest in a series of pivots that have gone on for 20 years now:

  • It was wrong for George H.W. Bush to have left Saddam Hussein in power.
  • Regime change of Iraq under Bill Clinton: Good!
  • Regime change of Iraq under George W. Bush: Really, Really, Really Bad!
  • It was wrong for George W. Bush to have removed Saddam Hussein from power.
  • General Petraeus under George W. Bush’s command: General Betray-us.
  • General Petraeus under Barack Obama’s command: help us Obi-Wan Petraeus, you’re our only hope!

Or as Ed Morrissey writes at Hot Air, “Awkward: Dems trying to recast Petraeus as a savior:”

And those pivots are coupled, as Ace noted a few years ago, with a remarkable sense of hauteur from the left, that both makes them possible, and ideologically blinds them when they occur:

Liberals have a particularly large gulf between their cherished self-image and their realistic self-awareness. Everyone has this to some extent, of course. I’m not saying it’s unique to liberals, just that they often seem to have an especially big gulf between their idealized view of themselves and a more grounded self-assessment.Again, I don’t want to claim that liberals have cornered the market on inflated self-opinions. However, it seems to me that conservatives have far less reservation about admitting they often act due to simple self-interest. Oh, we’re not eager to offer that admission. But because we believe that human beings are inherently flawed — and on this point religious cons and non-religious cons agree, although not for the exact same list of reasons — we’re less hung-up about admitting we act in our own self-interest for no particular greater good or noble purpose.

Liberals have a big-time hang-up with this. Try extracting this admission from a liberal sometime even in the most nonthreatening way. Most will simply not admit it. Or it will take you two and a half hours you’ll never get back.This is, it hardly needs be said, an enormous bit of self-deception on the part of many liberals. (Generally, the less humorous ones, which is most of them; the funny ones, seeing the flaws of humans (including themselves) more clearly have a much easier time with this.) They have a large amount of self-esteem riding on the proposition that they act almost entirely selflessly and thinking only of others in their daily lives.

I’m not saying they’re more selfish than conservatives. I’m just saying there’s a much larger gulf between their actual level of selfishness and their admitted level of selfishness. Their emotional investment in their presumed near-zero level of mercenary impulse causes them to verge more wildly from reality on this point.

Indeed, many liberals seem to believe they have already pretty much acheived the Buddhist ideal of Nirvana, the complete self-abnegation of the soul so that the world is viewed entirely objectively, from an angle’s high-above-it-all point ov view, rather than subjectively, down on actual planet earth competing and striving against millions of other people doing the same. If you don’t believe me, ask them “Would it be preferable to save an American’s life or a foreigner’s?” [There's more than a Pinch of truth there -- Ed] They will usually decline to express a preference because the destruction of the self and joining of the universal oversoul admits of no feelings of tribal or sectarian loyalties whatsoever; they can’t say “I choose the American if I’m forced to choose” without admitting they haven’t quite attained Nirvana yet.

For serious Buddhists, it’s not hard at all to admit the non-attainment of the ultimate metaphysical state of Nirvana — it’s supposed to be hard, and can take a lifetime. (Or, you know, several lifetimes.) But liberals have this notion that believing in liberalism is itself a very efficient shortcut to that exalted state of emptiness of ego. A Kerry-Edwards bumper-sticker gets you pretty much as far as a lifetime of devotion to the teachings of Krishna.

In a similar vein, a year ago, James W. Ceaser described “The Roots of Obama Worship” at the Weekly Standard:

Postpartisanship, we are told, never meant anything as mundane as dealing with the other party. It referred instead to working with those who embrace the consensus of the new era. It therefore explicitly excludes the bulk of the Republican party, which comprises those who cling stubbornly to their theology and metaphysics. Only those elements that have adapted or evolved qualify as potential postpartisan partners. The standard for inclusion is not an expression of popular will, but criteria supplied by the idea of progress. What has made many Americans increasingly suspicious of the office of leader of Humanity is their growing perception that it rests ultimately on contempt for the people.

The conflicting demands of the Religion of Humanity and the presidency of the United States have become most apparent in the administration’s approach to dealing with the threat of Islamic terrorism. The Religion of Humanity, by its own reckoning, admits to facing challenges from two quarters: from those who have not yet fully entered the age of Positivism, which includes the terrorists, and from those who are part of the advanced world but who refuse to embrace it, which includes the likes of George W. Bush. In the present situation, these two groups are understood to have a symbiotic relationship. The existence of the terrorists is regrettable, not only because of the physical threat that they pose, but also because, by doing so, they risk strengthening the hand of those in the West who reject the Religion of Humanity. Supporters of the Religion of Humanity therefore believe they have good reason to deny or minimize the danger of terrorism in order to save the world from the even greater danger of the triumph of the retrograde forces. This is the dogmatic basis of political correctness, and Obama and his team have gone to considerable lengths by their policies and by their use of language to hide reality. But reality has a way of asserting itself, and it is becoming clearer by the day that being the leader of Humanity is incompatible with being the president of the United States. No man can serve two masters.

Which brings us to the various “Norman Coordinate! Norman Coordinate!” moments from the left this weekend.

Back in October of 2008, I did a Silicon Graffiti video on 20 years of rhetorical pivots and airbrushes by the left, along with imagery and riffs from 1984, A Clockwork Orange (655321) and The Prisoner. Watching it with over two years of hindsight, and, I’d like to think, improved video chops, there are a million things technically I’d change. But I think it gets its point across. In light of this weekend’s latest pivot, I thought it would be fun to dust it off, as we continue to go Barack to the Future:

A Little Late for the Third Way

December 8th, 2010 - 12:03 pm

While the Democrats’ civil war rages on, an Instapundit reader quips,”You know, I didn’t vote for Barack W. Bush, but I’m starting to like the cut of this man’s jib:”

  • Leaving Gitmo open.
  • No trials for terrorists
  • 30,000-soldier surge in Afghanistan.
  • Extending tax cuts.
  • Re-upping the Patriot Act.

And of course, George W. Bush ran in 2000 with the explicit promise as more of a continuation of Bill Clinton’s post-’94 “Third Way” policies than Al Gore, who was much further left than the American mainstream, even then. (And Bush was a continuation of Clinton’s policies in more ways than one of course.)

But perhaps because of Clinton’s southern good ol’ boy persona and salesmanship — and sheer lust for to remain in power for another four years — he could pivot to the center relatively seamlessly in retrospect. It helped that he ran as a centrist; his tack to the hard left after taking office is what led to the Republicans winning in 1994 in the first place.

No such luck with Clinton’s Democrat successor having as smooth a pivot towards the center, as Allahpundit noted yesterday — he’s willing to go there, but he’ll remind you how ever so painful it is for him to compromise his grand Chicago ideals:

Ace’s co-blogger DrewM had the best take on this afternoon’s presser turned mini-meltdown: “Man, if Obama is Spock, he’s in the middle of the Pon Farr.” Two clips for you, the first of him snottily reprising Bob Menendez’s terrorist analogy by comparing Republicans to “hostage-takers” on taxes — and then using that to justify his decision to negotiate with them(!). Note to The One: Probably not a good idea for America’s top law enforcement officer and military commander-in-chief to broadcast the fact that he’ll come to the table only if you play rough enough with him.

Or as Peter Wehner wrote at Commentary yesterday, “He has met the enemy, and they are him:”

It appears to me that Obama is a man of tremendous internal contradictions. He fancies himself as a post-partisan, post-ideological figure who alone can elevate public discourse. He obviously took great pride in presenting himself as America’s Socrates during the presidential campaign.

At the same time, Mr. Obama is a man of unusual arrogance who, if things don’t go his way, becomes prickly. He lashes out. And he begins to feel sorry for himself. Notoriously thin-skinned and accustomed to worshipful treatment by those around him (including the press), Obama is now clearly disquieted.

On some deep level, Obama must understand that, at this moment at least, his presidency is coming apart. It’s not at all clear to me that he’s particularly well equipped to deal with the shifting fortunes, the hardships, and the battering that a president must endure. Difficult circumstances seem to be bringing out his worst qualities rather than his best. And that may be what was on display this afternoon.

Scroll down the Commentary house blog for John Podhoretz’s near line-by-line blogging of Obama’s speech and its often Olbermann-esque rhetoric. As Rich Lowry wrote yesterday, “We’ve learned today that what really gets under his skin and makes him boil is criticism, and especially criticism from progressives.”

Wait, there are actually Americans to his right? This always seems to be news to The Won.

On a purely partisan level, there’s plenty of schadenfreude to be had watching the second coming of Lincoln, FDR, JFK, Spock, Caesar and Christ melt down. On the other hand, the last two years have done enormous damage to the fabric of the nation via the endless internal conflicts from the man sold to the American people as “no drama Obama.”

Will the White House begin to affect a more grownup tone beginning next month when the GOP Congress takes office? Why should we hope for change now?

OK, let’s count the left’s pivots on Iraq and war in the Gulf over the last 20 years:

  • It was wrong for George H.W. Bush to have left Saddam Hussein in power.
  • Regime change of Iraq under Bill Clinton: Good!
  • Regime change of Iraq under George W. Bush: Really, Really, Really Bad!
  • It was wrong for George W. Bush to have removed Saddam Hussein from power.
  • General Petraeus under George W. Bush’s command: General Betray-us.
  • General Petraeus under Barack Obama’s command: help us Obi-Wan Petraeus, you’re our only hope!

Or as Ed Morrissey writes at Hot Air, “Awkward: Dems trying to recast Petraeus as a savior:”

David Petraeus trudged up to Capitol Hill today to win a certain confirmation from the Senate, and one has to wonder whether the general is considering the odd twists of history that have surrounded him.  Today, he’s the heroic commander tapped by Barack Obama in desperation to salvage his Afghanistan surge and to reinstill confidence in the war.  Three years ago, Obama’s allies in Congress and on the Left painted Petraeus as a very different figure, and The Hill reports on the awkward position Democrats now face:

Liberal advocacy groups and senators at the time accused Petraeus of misrepresenting the success of the surge of nearly 40,000 troops. …

[Harry] Reid told CNN in April of 2007 he did not believe Petraeus’s claim that the surge was working in Iraq.

“I don’t believe him, because it’s not happening,” Reid said. “All you have to do is look at the facts.”

At a press conference a few months later, Reid said: “For someone, whether it’s Gen. Petraeus or anyone else, to say things are great in Baghdad isn’t in touch with what’s going on in Baghdad, even though he’s there and I’m not.”

In other words, the Senate Majority Leader strongly implied that Petraeus was either a liar or a fool three years ago.  Nor was he the only Democrat in the Senate to have made that accusation.  When Republicans offered a resolution defending Petraeus “and strongly condemn personal attacks on the honor and integrity of General Petraeus,” 25 Democrats voted against the resolution, including Hillary Clinton, Dick Durbin, Harry Reid, and Carl Levin, chair of the Armed Forces Committee.

What about Barack Obama, the Commander in Chief who wants Petraeus to rescue them from the debacle of Stanley McChrystal’s exit?  He didn’t vote at all, although he was certainly present.  Obama voted in favor of a measure that would have forced a retreat from Iraq on that same day in the very next roll call vote.  He also voted in favor of an amendment prior to the Petraeus vote that offered similar support for men and women in uniform but failed to mention Petraeus.  When it came time to defending the honor of the man Obama now needs to help him win a victory, then-Senator Obama was nowhere to be found.

Or as the Professor wrote last week, when the Ministry of Truth MoveOn.org was caught deleting their infamous 2007 “General Betray-Us” ad (which the New York Times gave them a sweetheart rate to run) from their site, “Have you noticed how these people are always airbrushing? It’s kind of an admission that their stuff won’t sell if they tell the truth…”

Mona Charen and Orrin Judd also note the irony.

Good Wars, Then And Now

November 23rd, 2009 - 10:50 pm

Michael Goldfarb of the Weekly Standard writes of his experience shooting an appparently abortive Bloggingheads.tv segment with Malou Innocent of the Cato Institute, in which Goldfarb compared the War in Afghanistan in the naughts, with the War in the Pacific of the 1940s — in other words, comparing the GWOT with WWII:

As soon as I started comparing the war in the Pacific with the war in Afghanistan, Innocent jumped all over me. “You’re not comparing Imperial Japan to al Qaeda?” she asked. “No, of course not,” I assured her. Respectable people can’t compare the wars America is fighting now with the Great and Good War America fought against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.

But, you know what? On second thought, Imperial Japan and al Qaeda have a lot in common — and so do the Second World War and the war in Afghanistan. The Japanese attacked us at Pearl Harbor, killing more Americans than any attack on U.S. soil until al Qaeda launched its own sneak attack on 9/11. The Japanese and al Qaeda also share the same fanatical devotion to their “cause.” The Japanese had kamikazes and al Qaeda has kamikazes — with hundreds of passengers on board. Our enemies in both wars shared a suicidal commitment to an impossible delusion of world domination. The war in the Pacific was a bloodbath as a result. Women and children threw themselves off of cliffs on Saipan rather than surrender to U.S. Marines. Only 1,000 Japanese surrendered on Iwo, the other 22,000 died fighting or were buried or burned alive in the island’s caves. On Okinawa the Japanese sacrificed 100,000 men in the service of a lost cause.

The American people braced for the invasion of Japan, but Truman wasn’t prepared to see a million Americans killed or wounded when there was a chance to end the war quickly with the Bomb. Truman would use nuclear weapons against civilian populations, so committed was his government to total victory and so costly would that victory have been if it was pursued by conventional means.

In Afghanistan today, against a fanatical enemy who attacked the United States and murdered 3,000 civilians, the president and his party seem to be looking for a way out. No more pay any price, bear any burden. They would have us surrender rather than spend another $50 billion to provide McChrystal with the troops he needs. They would have us leave Kandahar and Kabul to the Taliban and their al Qaeda allies rather than lose hundreds, maybe thousands, more American soldiers in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Maybe the great mistake in Afghanistan was to treat it like it was a different kind of war than World War II. If there was a chance to get bin Laden in the caves of Tora Bora, we should have sent in the Marines with flame-throwers just like we did on Iwo. Now the President of the United States considers abandoning the fight against an enemy that attacked America and is determined to attack America again. We could leave and hope for the best, but Truman could have done the same in June of 1945. ‘We’ll contain them from Okinawa, Iwo Jima and the Philippines, we’ll use airpower to disrupt their operations, we’ll send the boys home and maintain a flexible, over-the-horizon strike force,’ Truman might have said — and that’s essentially what the Democrats are proposing, and Obama is now considering.

One big difference between the GWOT and WWII of course, was how the left responded. At the start of WWII, the American left, following Stalin’s orders, were effectively in agreement with the isolationist right that America should stay out of the war, though needless to say, for different reasons. It was only Hitler invading Russia that caused the American left — again, based on Stalin’s orders — to support the war, causing some amusing pivots along the way, perhaps most visibly by screenwriter/novelist Dalton Trumbo and proto-folkie Pete Seeger.

In contrast, during the 1990s, in terms of Afghanistan, American feminists appeared to be united that something should be done about the perilous conditions of women living under the Taliban. And the American left and right were in agreement that in Iraq, Saddam Hussein should be isolated from the world stage and removed from if it all possible — and indeed, Al Gore, Bill Clinton and the rest of their administration sounded remarkably hawkish during that period:

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Of course, once somebody actually did do something about Saddam and the Taliban, support from the left began to evaporate, in contradistinction to their pivot in the 1940s:

“I’ll tell you my impression. We really in this last election, when I say we…the Democrats, I think pushed it as far as we can to the end of the fleet, didn’t say it, but we implied it. That if we won the Congressional elections, we could stop the war. Now anybody was a good student of Government would know that wasn’t true. But you know, the temptation to want to win back the Congress, we sort of stretched the facts…and people ate it up.”

* * *

The Democrats backed themselves into defending the idea of Afghanistan being The Good War because they felt they needed to prove their macho bonafides they called for withdrawal from Iraq. Nobody asked too many questions sat the time, including me. But none of us should forget that it was a political strategy, not a serious foreign policy.

There have been many campaign promises “adjusted” since the election. There is no reason that the administration should feel any more bound to what they said about this than all the other committments [sic] it has blithely turned aside in the interest of “pragmatism.”

* * *

“I assumed that because we elected Obama to end the war in Iraq that it went without saying that the war in Afghanistan would be ended as well. Apparently not so.”

Well, to be fair, the jury’s still out on the second half of that last equation.

Al’s Pivot

June 12th, 2007 - 11:48 am

Just click.

(Further background here.)

Outsourcing The Truth—About The 1990s

May 31st, 2007 - 8:03 pm
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Here’s Al Gore yesterday on PBS’s NewsHour, being interviewed by Gwen Ifil:

Ifill: You write of a “determined disinterest” in learning the truth, on the part of the Bush administration on pre-war intelligence. You accuse the White House of an “unprecedented and sustained campaign of mass deception,” very strong words. And you say that President Bush “outsourced the truth.” Are you suggesting that President Bush deliberately misled the American people when it comes to the Iraq war?

Gore: Well, there was certainly a coordinated effort in the White House and in the Department of Defense simultaneously to convey the image of a mushroom cloud exploding over an American city and to link it to a specific scenario, the very strong and explicit implication that Saddam Hussein was going to develop nuclear weapons and give them to Osama bin Laden, and that would result in nuclear explosions in American cities.

Here’s a statement issued by the Justice Department in 1998 during the administration under which Gore served:

Al Qaeda reached an understanding with the government of Iraq that al Qaeda would not work against that government and that on particular projects, specifically including weapons development, al Qaeda would work cooperatively with the Government of Iraq.

And here’s Gore himself, five years earlier:

“The suffering inside Iraq can come to an end when Saddam Hussein’s regime is replaced,” said a top Clinton administration official at the time. “And I hope — and most of the world community hopes — that this regime based on terrorism and atrocities against his own people will be replaced. Over time, we hope to achieve that result.”

The pivot–not to mention the Assault on Reason–continues apace.

Update: Another reality of the 1990s goes down the Memory Hole, this time courtesy of NPR.

Late Update: Here’s Al in 1992 on Iraq.

Ban The Bombs–From Hollywood

April 4th, 2007 - 11:00 am

Quick celebrity update gleaned from scanning today’s headlines:

Mid-level Hollywood celebrity Rosario Dawson says flying commercial? That’s for the booboisie:

Rosario Dawson and two girlfriends hit a fashion show in L.A. last week before hopping on a Gulfstream jet, which circled the city at 41,000 feet as they enjoyed in-flight massages from Rita Hazan’s top esthetician, Arsi Tavitian.

Mrs. Sting replies, let the little people take public transportion!

It’s one rule for them, and another for the rest of us.Trudie Styler, wife of Sting and self-styled eco-warrior, recently took a helicopter to travel 80 miles from Wiltshire to Devon, a journey that would have taken less than two hours by train.

The actress and film producer is forever harping on about saving the environment, having set up the Rainforest Campaign in the late 1980s with her pop star husband.

The Stings are known for eating only organic food, supposedly grown on their land, although one member of staff recently admitted to serving up nonorganic salad from the supermarket.

So what was Styler thinking as she clambered into her gas-guzzling chopper, off to stay with friend and fellow greenie Zac Goldsmith on his organic farm in Devon?

Thinking? Celebrities feel. They emote. And speaking of which, Leonardo DiCaprio tells Vanity Fair(aptly named in this case):

Because we’ve waited, because we’ve turned our backs on nature’s warning signs, and because our political and corporate leaders have consistently ignored the overwhelming scientific evidence, the challenges we face are that much more difficult. We are in the environmental age whether we like it or not. So, what does the future look like? We know the United States, the greatest consumer and source of waste, needs to make a transition to a greener future, but will our pivotal generation create a sustainable world in time?

Wouldn’t banning movie production be a way to save resources? Films involve miles of celluloid, a petroleum-based resource. Plus the fuel involved in transporting the celebrities, crew, and equipment. They involve thousands of watts of electricity for their lighting. Imagine what the lights themselves are doing to the ozone. Then more reels of celluloid when the finished product is shipped to theaters. What about the chemicals involved in processing the film? Then all of the DVDs, which are made of plastic.

Then there are the forests cut down to produce magazines to promote them, such as Vanity Fair. And what about the obesity issues caused by theater concession stands? Is the popcorn grown organically? Is the CO2 in the Coke machines harming the atmosphere?

I call on Leonardo DiCaprio to put his money where his mouth is. He’s made enough. It’s time to (a) quit the film industry and (b) call on studio executives to voluntarily cease production of all movies and television shows.

And if they won’t do it, perhaps it’s time for Sacramento to swing into action.

Do it for the children. Or at least the fur children, for Gaia’s sake.

(Sorry, just taking Leo’s absurdity to its natural conclusion. Dissent, highest form of patriotism, etc. But wouldn’t you love a reporter to ask a celebrity why shouldn’t film production be severely curtailed out of concern for the environment?)