» An Army Of Davids

Ed Driscoll

An Army Of Davids

Political Correctness is the Essence of Leftism

January 27th, 2015 - 10:42 pm

“In a widely praised piece for New York Magazine, liberal writer Jonathan Chait says the leftist language police are perverting liberalism,” Sean Davis writes at the Federalist. “Chait is wrong. The politically correct language police don’t pervert modern liberalism; they embody it. And amateur leftist thought cop Jonathan Chait himself is proof.” Read the whole thing, including this passage:

Now, some will say that Chait has been unnecessarily provocative in his writing. That he should’ve made a better effort to reach out to the people he’s criticizing. The problem with this framing is that it presumes the angry rage mobs roaming Twitter in search of someone who has insufficiently checked his or her or its privilege are open to debate, to having their mind changed. That they’re interested in having a calm, rational discussion. This is a faulty presumption. It’s impossible to have a polite discussion on this topic because the outraged don’t want to have any discussion on this topic. As Chait puts it:

If a person who is accused of bias attempts to defend his intentions, he merely compounds his own guilt. (Here one might find oneself accused of man/white/straightsplaining.) It is likewise taboo to request that the accusation be rendered in a less hostile manner. This is called “tone policing.” If you are accused of bias, or “called out,” reflection and apology are the only acceptable response — to dispute a call-out only makes it worse. There is no allowance in p.c. culture for the possibility that the accusation may be erroneous. A white person or a man can achieve the status of “ally,” however, if he follows the rules of p.c. dialogue. A community, virtual or real, that adheres to the rules is deemed “safe.”

Actually, there’s been a term for this since at least 2010, when Eric Raymond of the Armed & Dangerous blog coined the portmanteau “Kafkatrapping”:

One very notable pathology is a form of argument that, reduced to essence, runs like this: “Your refusal to acknowledge that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…} confirms that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…}.” I’ve been presented with enough instances of this recently that I’ve decided that it needs a name. I call this general style of argument “kafkatrapping”, and the above the Model A kafkatrap. In this essay, I will show that the kafkatrap is a form of argument that is so fallacious and manipulative that those subjected to it are entitled to reject it based entirely on the form of the argument, without reference to whatever particular sin or thoughtcrime is being alleged. I will also attempt to show that kafkatrapping is so self-destructive to the causes that employ it that change activists should root it out of their own speech and thoughts.

My reference, of course, is to Franz Kafka’s “The Trial”, in which the protagonist Josef K. is accused of crimes the nature of which are never actually specified, and enmeshed in a process designed to degrade, humiliate, and destroy him whether or not he has in fact committed any crime at all. The only way out of the trap is for him to acquiesce in his own destruction; indeed, forcing him to that point of acquiescence and the collapse of his will to live as a free human being seems to be the only point of the process, if it has one at all.

This is almost exactly the way the kafkatrap operates in religious and political argument. Real crimes – actual transgressions against flesh-and-blood individuals – are generally not specified. The aim of the kafkatrap is to produce a kind of free-floating guilt in the subject, a conviction of sinfulness that can be manipulated by the operator to make the subject say and do things that are convenient to the operator’s personal, political, or religious goals. Ideally, the subject will then internalize these demands, and then become complicit in the kafkatrapping of others.

But it’s all moot anyhow, since the blunt force of the mob doesn’t arrive en masse to discuss an issue, but to pummel the soon to-be-unperson guilty of doubleplusungood thoughtcrime into submission, or at least into silence, as Davis writes in his response to Chait, and as Ace writes in his:

Mobs do not “argue.” They intimidate or humiliate (or both). Mobs do not engage in an enlightened, reasonable dialogue. They shout ritualized chants. Mobs are not interested in persuading someone of their wrongness of their claims; they only care about shutting the speaker up, whether he’s changed his mind or not.

An argument from a single author (or group acting together to write a single paper) is an instrument of reason; a mob which selects a target and then attacks that target with wolf-pack like tactics is an instrument of emotion.

Human beings are in fact hard-wired, as an evolutionary matter, to cringe before the baying mob; and they are further hard-wired to feel empowered by being part of an angry, screaming mob.

So it’s not quite true that joining up with a mob is “speech” just like any other speech. The “speech” of a mob is emotionally abusive and personally intimidating — and it is hardwired into our brains to find it such, when directed at we ourselves.

On the other hand, we’re also hard-wired to really enjoy leading a mob against someone. It feels good. There is no denying that; I’ve felt damned good everytime I’ve joined up with a mob.

And it is precisely because it Feels So Good to engage in coordinated mob cruelty that thoughtful people must resist the lure and call out mobs where they see them.

And of course, it’s not like Chait himself is very pure in this department, but as Steve Hayward quips at Power Line, “A Foolish Consistency Is the Hobgoblin of Chait’red Minds”:

Except that Chait doesn’t seem to live by his own principles.  Because last week he wrote a column in which he argued that climate skepticism ought to disqualify someone from holding public office:

The Republican Party confidently and forthrightly rejects the firm conclusions of science on a major public-policy question. Isn’t that a completely disqualifying position? If a candidate for a managerial job at your office insists that two plus three equals seven, it wouldn’t matter how well-qualified this candidate may be at any other aspect of the job. Even if you agreed with everything else the Republicans stood for, how could a party so obviously unhinged be entrusted with power?

Never mind Chait’s completely tendentious rendering of the climate debate in those three sentences: I guess there are limits to Chait’s embrace of free expression.

And as Kevin D. Williamson adds at the Corner, Chait’s main beef is that the leftwing mob is now using PC “as a cudgel against white liberals such as Jonathan Chait, who had previously enjoyed a measure of immunity”:

Chait isn’t arguing for taking an argument on its own merits; he’s arguing for a liberals’ exemption to the Left’s general hostility toward any unwelcome idea that comes from a speaker who checks any unapproved demographic boxes, the number of which — “cisgendered,” etc. — is growing in an appropriately cancerous fashion. “White males” is a category that includes Jonathan Chait and Rush Limbaugh, and Chait, naturally, doesn’t like that much.

As Williamson notes, Chait still hates the right far more than he does any activity by the left. His piece in New York magazine even mentions:

liberals are correct not only to oppose racism and sexism but to grasp (in a way conservatives generally do not) that these biases cast a nefarious and continuing shadow over nearly every facet of American life. Since race and gender biases are embedded in our social and familial habits, our economic patterns, and even our subconscious minds, they need to be fought with some level of consciousness.

Nice. Is this a subconscious attempt at the old Marxist trope that those who aren’t true believers are suffering from “a false consciousness?” Or that those on the right have no conscience at all? Additionally, Sean Davis has a screen shot of Chait calling those who oppose Obamacare not just wrong but both “denialists” and “insane” a year ago, which simultaneously dovetails with his aforementioned wish to blacklist those who don’t tow the global warming orthodoxy, and mashes up a callback to Holocaust deniers with the classic Soviet political psychiatric style of declaring your opponents insane.

Of course, madness is a trait Chait has some familiarity with himself; 12 years ago he explored “Why I Hate George W. Bush” in a piece published by the New Republic.

P.C. M.D., heal thyself.

Recently, Ace’s sidebar linked to a piece by a left-leaning journalist at Splice Today.com who found himself caught up in the middle of the Socialist Justice Warrors  and the GamerGate brush wars.  He described himself as being “Swiftboated on Twitter” by the SJWs, which, of course, he described as a pejorative:

John Kerry started off as a war hero but then got swiftboated by the opposition with lies. As a result, an honorable soldier who had risked his life in the service of his country came to be seen by many voters as having a compromised military record.

Oh to be a fly on the wall if he was ever asked how exactly did Kerry’s fellow vets lie about him, especially Kerry’s own “JJJJenggggghis Khan” moment where he launched his far left political career by selling out his fellow vets in the Senate.

I don’t want to rehash the history of 2004 — or 1971. But as with Chait inserting his imagined superiority over the right at a moment where he could use their help in his defense, why use a phrase that instantly alienates half of your potential allies on the right?

Because being attacked by the left apparently isn’t as bad as facing banishment to the complete intellectual Siberia of being declared an apostate, which seems to be Chait’s fear as well.

At least for the moment. Don Kilmer, an attorney and, like me, a fellow conservative denizen behind the Blue State lines of Silicon Valley argues it’s just a matter of time for Chait to really have second thoughts. On Twitter, at least one person attempted to disabuse Kilmer of this notion:

I agree — and it’s difficult to be sympathetic to someone who will probably resume attacking conservatives and the right in general even more vociferously now, if only to tacitly beg for admittance back into the (alas) PC club. I’d like to be more sympathetic to Chait’s current plight, but until he stops attacking the right, I’m inclined to agree with Michael Walsh at the PJ Tatler when he declares Chait’s current predicament “a Laughing at the Death of Little Nell” moment.

Though to be fair, if anyone would accuse the right of having a heart of stone, it’s Jonathan Chait.

Update: Dispatches from the Manichean left:

An Army of Dagnys

April 20th, 2014 - 5:04 pm

So my wife is in the middle of reading a 2012 detective novel titled The Bubble Gum Thief, written by an author called Jeff Miller, built around a quirky distaff anorexic FBI agent named Dagny Gray.

A few minutes ago, she ran into the den with her Kindle said, “You’ve got to see this passage,” about three quarters of the way through the novel:

“Yesterday, we found a safe house in Chula Vista, and Draker’s prints are all over it. Right now we have cops visiting places in Bethel and Salt Lake City. It could be something; it could be nothing. We’ll know within the hour.”

“Does Fabee know about this?” “We had to tell him about Chula Vista, of course, and we’ll tell him about the others if they check out, too. But he doesn’t know how I’m tracking it down. He thinks I did all the work. Probably driving him crazy, since he’s got a huge team of his own sifting through much of the same data. They’ve probably gotten an earful about how one guy found the Chula Vista house by himself. When in fact, it’s not one guy, but an army of Davids.”

“An army of what?” Dagny asked. “This law professor, Glenn Reynolds, wrote a book called An Army of Davids,” Victor explained. “It’s about how technology and the Internet let individuals work collaboratively to compete with big media or big government. Like the way bloggers got Dan Rather fired over the phony memos, or how they dug up stuff on Trent Lott.

Reynolds says that Goliath is no match for an ‘army of Davids,’ at least not in the Internet age.”

“And Draker is Goliath?”

“Actually, I think Fabee would be Goliath, in this particular metaphor,” Victor said. An army of Davids. Maybe it would change law enforcement, just as bloggers had changed the media. It was pretty darn smart— even smarter than her use of chain e-mails, which turned up the third crime.

Heh, indeed.™

For what it’s worth, my wife is enjoying the book, and it’s gotten very good reviews at Goodreads and Amazon. And it’s got an Army of Davids reference. What’s not to like?

Interview: Glenn Reynolds on The New School

January 5th, 2014 - 6:20 pm


“It’s no secret that existing schools are underperforming,” Glenn Reynolds notes in his latest book, The New School: How The Information Age Will Save American Education From Itself. “We keep putting more money and resources into them, but we keep getting poorly educated students out of them”:

In 1983 – three decades ago – the report A Nation at Risk was published by President Reagan’s National Commission on Excellence in Education and famously observed, “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.” Since then, things have, if anything, gotten worse. But in the essentials, not much has changed.

Except that these days, as the University of Tennessee law professor and host of Instapundit.com notes in the excerpt of his new book published this past weekend in the Wall Street Journal, “In the field of higher education, reality is outrunning parody”:

A recent feature on the satire website the Onion proclaimed, “30-Year-Old Has Earned $11 More Than He Would Have Without College Education.” Allowing for tuition, interest on student loans, and four years of foregone income while in school, the fictional student “Patrick Moorhouse” wasn’t much better off. His years of stress and study, the article japed, “have been more or less a financial wash.”

“Patrick” shouldn’t feel too bad. Many college graduates would be happy to be $11 ahead instead of thousands, or hundreds of thousands, behind. The credit-driven higher education bubble of the past several decades has left legions of students deep in debt without improving their job prospects. To make college a good value again, today’s parents and students need to be skeptical, frugal and demanding. There is no single solution to what ails higher education in the U.S., but changes are beginning to emerge, from outsourcing to online education, and they could transform the system.

Those potential changes are the subject of our 20-minute interview, during which, we’ll explore:

● How today’s education system is an industrial age one-size-fits all dinosaur in today’s diverse Internet-driven world.
● “It’s not white flight now.  It’s just flight,” Glenn notes: Why families of all backgrounds that can afford to are increasingly pulling their kids out of urban public schools.
● Why technology alone won’t repair the current education system.
● Could education reform help break the logjam that political correctness has imposed on education?
● What does Glenn make of parents’ recent complaints over Obama’s Common Core agenda?
● Plus some thoughts on where Obama goes next as his administration reaches its nadir.

And much more. Click here to listen:

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‘The Closing of the Scientific Mind’

January 2nd, 2014 - 7:29 pm


Tremendous article by David Gelernter in the new issue of Commentary, which appears to be outside of the subscriber paywall, at least for the moment. I’m not sure if I fully agree with all of Gelernter’s conclusions, but the sheer scope of the article is pretty staggering. “Mind-blowing” isn’t a 1968-era compound word I use very often, but it seems sort of apropos, given the Blade Runner-esque topic of the piece:

Where does the physical end and the mental begin? The resonance between mental and bodily states is a subtle but important aspect of mind. Bodily sensations bring about mental states that cause those sensations to change and, in turn, the mental states to develop further. You are embarrassed, and blush; feeling yourself blush, your embarrassment increases. Your blush deepens. “A smile of pleasure lit his face. Conscious of that smile, [he] shook his head disapprovingly at his own state.” (Tolstoy.) As Dmitry Merezhkovsky writes brilliantly in his classic Tolstoy study, “Certain feelings impel us to corresponding movements, and, on the other hand, certain habitual movements impel to the corresponding mental states….Tolstoy, with inimitable art, uses this convertible connection between the internal and the external.”

All such mental phenomena depend on something like a brain and something like a body, or an accurate reproduction or simulation of certain aspects of the body. However hard or easy you rate the problem of building such a reproduction, computing has no wisdom to offer regarding the construction of human-like bodies—even supposing that it knows something about human-like minds.

I cite Keats or Rilke, Wordsworth, Tolstoy, Jane Austen because these “subjective humanists” can tell us, far more accurately than any scientist, what things are like inside the sealed room of the mind. When subjective humanism is recognized (under some name or other) as a school of thought in its own right, one of its characteristics will be looking to great authors for information about what the inside of the mind is like.

To say the same thing differently: Computers are information machines. They transform one batch of information into another. Computationalists often describe the mind as an “information processor.” But feelings are not information! Feelings are states of being. A feeling (mild wistfulness, say, on a warm summer morning) has, ordinarily, no information content at all. Wistful is simply a way to be.

Let’s be more precise: We are conscious, and consciousness has two aspects. To be conscious of a thing is to be aware of it (know about it, have information about it) and to experience it. Taste sweetness; see turquoise; hear an unresolved dissonance—each feels a certain way. To experience is to be some way, not to do some thing.

The whole subjective field of emotions, feelings, and consciousness fits poorly with the ideology of computationalism, and with the project of increasing “the plausibility of the hypothesis that we are machines.”

Thomas Nagel: “All these theories seem insufficient as analyses of the mental because they leave out something essential.” (My italics.) Namely? “The first-person, inner point of view of the conscious subject: for example, the way sugar tastes to you or the way red looks or anger feels.” All other mental states (not just sensations) are left out, too: beliefs and desires, pleasures and pains, whims, suspicions, longings, vague anxieties; the mental sights, sounds, and emotions that accompany your reading a novel or listening to music or daydreaming.

At a minimum, Gelernter’s article raises puzzling questions about whether the Turing test is sufficient to determine just how intelligent artificial intelligence is; beyond that, it’s an unsettling look at what transhuman life could be like in the coming decades. Of course, transhumanism may not arrive on the timetable its proponents suggest; as Gelernter notes, “imagine predicting the state of space exploration today based on the events of 1960–1972.” But radical advances in cybernetics are on their way, it’s just a matter of when. Gelernter is giving a rather unsettling look at some of their downsides.

As I said, I’m not sure if I agree with all of Gelernter’s conclusions, but definitely read the whole thing, to coin an Insta-phrase.

And for my interview last year with Gelernter on America Lite, his look at the transformations the radical left imposed first on academia, and then the rest of the nation in the last 50 years, click here.

Bang the Drum Sustainably

December 2nd, 2013 - 10:27 am

“An Energy Department watchdog last week questioned hundreds of thousands of dollars in energy efficiency stimulus expenditures to a group of African drummers and a media company with ties to top officials who oversaw stimulus awards,” Lachlan Markay writes at the Washington Free Beacon. “The groups received a combined $630,000 in grants under DOE’s stimulus-funded Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program to monitor and inspect energy efficiency retrofit efforts, despite their lack of experience on such projects:”

[District Department of the Environment] failed to consult with its general counsel or ethics officer before granting the funds to [Prosperity Media Enterprises] based on a proposal that, the IG found, may have improperly inflated the group’s qualifications.

The selection committee gave PME’s proposal a score of 97 out of a possible 100, which the IG said “was clearly not warranted.” Similar scores were given to other organizations with significantly more experience in managing energy efficiency projects.

Neither PME nor a group called the African Heritage Drummers and Dancers, which also received weatherization funds, had much experience in the area.

See, this is why government is so wasteful and bureaucratic — couldn’t the African Heritage Drummers and Dancers simply have been sent over to Harry Reid’s office, to provide the percussive backing for his legendary Cowboy Poetry sessions?

Why ‘Progressives’ Always Get Tech Wrong

October 7th, 2013 - 2:59 pm


“There are two Americas, all right, Glenn Reynolds notes in his latest USA Today column. “There’s one that works — where new and creative things happen, where mistakes are corrected, and where excellence is rewarded. Then there’s Washington, where everything is pretty much the opposite:”

That has been particularly evident over the past week or so. One America can launch rockets. The other America can’t even launch a website.

In Washington, it’s been stalemate, impasse, and theater — the kind of place where a government shutdown leads park rangers to complain, “We’ve been told to make life as difficult for people as we can. It’s disgusting.” Well, yes. The politics don’t work, the websites don’t work — even for the people who manage to log on — and the government shutdown informs us that most of government is “non-essential.” Instead of correcting mistakes or rewarding excellence, it’s mostly finger-pointing, blame-shifting, and excuse-making.

Meanwhile, in the other America — the one where people have their own money and ideas invested, and where they get the credit for their successes and pay the price for their failures — things are going a lot better. Just a couple of examples:

Read the whole thing, to coin an Insta-phrase. (And yes attempting to reward the parasitical half of America, USA Today is still featuring their insane “Cost of the Shutdown” counter on their homepage, as if government were something that makes money, instead of simply printing it and spending yours.) And then check out fellow Michael Malone in Forbes, who explains “Why Progressives Always Get Tech Wrong:”

If we have learned anything (not least from Progressivism’s crazy cousins Fascism, Nazism and Stalinism) over the last century it is that none of this is true.  Human beings are messy and unpredictable creatures, with 10 billion different perspectives and opinions about how to live a good life.  There are also more good ideas, intellectual capital, in those 10 billion brains – especially regarding some problem at hand – than in the combined faculty of Harvard and Stanford.   Moreover, some people actually prefer liberty to comfort, freedom to happiness. That’s what Steve Jobs was trying to say; and that’s what’s going unsaid at those select Valley dinners with the President.

So, instead of a healthcare Twitter, we get a gigantic mess as the government tries to impose a single, software-driven system on 300 million Americans.  Anyone who has ever worked on or, worse, bought a big software application – and this is one of the biggest in history — could have told HHS that the final result would be buggy, late, unsatisfying to users, unable to live up to its billing, and most of all, resistant to upgrades, much less wholesale changes.  In the real world, you can’t just order “Make it so!”

Whatever else it was, Progressivism was a top-down, mass-control, limited-freedom political philosophy that has only grown more anachronistic as the decades have passed and as, ironically, technology itself has increasingly supported de-centralized, networked, and bottom-up institutions.   Corporations learned that a generation ago (or they disappeared).  In successful corporations today, management works best when it is the servant of employees and customers:  look at the backlash from a billion users every time Facebook or eBay tries to impose some new rule or pricing scheme from above.  And what are open systems and crowd-sourcing but the next evolutionary step in the inversion of the old top-down model?

That leaves the federal government the last true bastion of late 19th century command-and-control thinking.  It can build as many websites and social networks as it likes, but as long as it tries to impose mass solutions from the top in a world of personalized solutions from the bottom, it is doomed to fail – and our nation continue its slide into debt and enfeeblement.

And along the way, plenty of astonished “I was sure it would work this time” reactions from “Progressive” true believers. Responding to Silicon Valley Obama supporter Cindy Vinson’s now-legendary cri de coeur in the San Jose Mercury that, “Of course, I want people to have health care. I just didn’t realize I would be the one who was going to pay for it personally,” Neo-Neocon writes, with an assist — and a little diabolical laughter –from Monty Python, “No one expects The Obamacare Sticker Shock!”

But it’s that last quote from Vinson that seems to encapsulate a common liberal mindset on Obamacare—or on government-funded benefits in general—that so infuriates conservatives. Who doesn’t “want people to have health care”? But the real question—and the real difference between the approaches of conservatives and liberals, inflammatory rhetoric aside—is how such a thing would be paid for, and especially whether it is possible to do so without putting an undue burden on the wage-earning tax-paying public.

Vinson, like so many people, uses the term “health care” to mean “health insurance,” but let’s gloss over that and stipulate that most people couldn’t afford the former (particularly if a major health problem were to arise) without having the latter. Vinson probably isn’t saying that she didn’t expect to pay for her own health insurance. She is saying that she expected to pay only for her own health insurance, not for the health insurance of those others she “of course” wants covered.

So the trillion-dollar question is: who did she expect would pay for their insurance?

As Moe Lane wrote yesterday, “The most expensive thing in the world is something that’s free, Ms. Vinson. And if you sit down at the poker table and you don’t know after a half hour which person is going to be taken to the cleaners, it’s going to be you.”

“PS: No Republican voted for Obamacare,” Moe adds — presumably with a little diabolical laughter of his own.

Related: Speaking of “Progressives” getting tech and the rest of the business world wrong, “Repeat after me: Politicians don’t matter when your nation is run by unelected unionized bureaucrats-for-life,” Kathy Shaidle writes. As Mark Steyn wrote in late October of 2010, when the polling data made it obvious the GOP would return to the Congressional House after four years in the wilderness, “Where do you go to vote out the CPSC? Or OSHA? Or the EPA?”

At Ricochet, Troy Senik writes that “Populism’s Hard When You Don’t Like the People.” And the left truly dropped the mask last week. But will enough of the “Progressive” religious faithful such as Ms. Vinson discover over the next few years just how much they’re loathed by the leftwing ruling class?

The Ed Gallery

October 6th, 2013 - 12:11 am


As frightening as the Obama administration can be at times, I’d like to think that the following is a much cheerier exhibition than anything Rod Serling ever proffered to TV network audiences. Back in November of 2011, I ran a retrospective of some of my more interesting Photoshops, created both for my own PJM column and for other authors here at the PJM Website. Since then, as you’ve probably noticed, I’ve produced many more. Here are some of the more interesting ones, either from an aesthetically interesting point of view, or because of what went into creating them, or simply, like the image above, because they were fun to produce. Apologies for all of the techno-wonk details to follow, but those who wish to jump-start the potentially steep Photoshop learning curve may benefit from them.


Road to Iran: Victor Davis Hanson’s September 22nd column was titled “Goodbye Syria, On to Iran!”, which immediately suggested a parody of a Bing Crosby and Bob Hope “Road” movie, and Road to Morocco certainly fit the theme nicely. VDH had emailed in his column early enough on a Sunday morning that I had sufficient time to knock this out. This took almost three hours, beginning with tracking down suitable photos of Obama, Kerry, and Samantha Power, then sizing them to fit. There are plenty of layers as well, one of which is the base “wood” of the road sign. After realizing that using either the clone tool or the content-aware fill tool would have been a brutal task to replace the background under the sign, I ended up replacing the whole sign with a photo of a wood panel from Shutterstock, which I painted with the Photoshop Paint Daubs filter. I then found a free font that was close enough to the original whimsical “Road to Morocco” font, then resized the stock Myriad Web Pro font to 130 percent of the original height to get close to the tall letters used for the stars’ names on the poster.

The whole poster was a lot of work, but the end result looks pretty darn good, I think.


Obama Hope Drones: This was originally created for a VDH article that ran in April, titled “America in the Age of Myth.” On Friday, September 27th, Obama “Hope” artist Shepard Fairey was recorded in an interview by TMZ saying that if he had to do it over again, he would replace the word “HOPE” on his iconic poster with the word “DRONES.” As soon as I read the story, I quickly found my Photoshop file, and thanks to the power of Photoshop layers, simply blanked out the word “Hope” in his poster, and substituted his newly preferred slogan. (Hey, Rube!)

The original image was a combination of Fairey’s artwork and his source photo, in between a Shutterstock image of a white canvas on an artist’s easel, in front of a neutral gray photography backdrop, and a separate Shutterstock photo of an artist holding a paintbrush. That image had the artist wearing a white polo shirt (isn’t that what all artists paint in?), which I colored black to give him more contrast from the gray wall. I simply cloned the shirt to another layer, colored it black, and then on another layer, painted on folds and the bottom of his collar in white, and then adjusted the opacity, to allow them to blend into the “fabric.”

For the “Hope” poster, I sized it to fit the canvas, then on a separate layer underneath, sized the original photo it was based on to match up, and then using a soft basic Photoshop brush, erased away the right portion of the “Hope” poster, revealing the photo underneath.

In order to create the impression of a shadow of the painting on the wall, on the layer between the “Hope” poster and the wall behind it, I drew a black box, and then blurred it with the Gaussian Blur filter, and then adjusted the opacity down. Little tricks like that really help to create the suspension of disbelief that you’re looking at a photograph of an event, rather than a bunch of files cobbled together in Photoshop.  Though in retrospect, if I had to do it over again, I probably would have added a filter to simulate the texture of fabric on the polo shirt.

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12 Years of Instapundit

August 10th, 2013 - 5:32 pm

Everybody has their story of how they discovered the Blogosphere; for lots of people, it was via Instapundit.com, which turned 12 years old this week. Here’s my take (originally published in 2011), a visit to the Jurassic days of the early Blogosphere.

Ten years ago, when I was making my living as a freelance writer, and writing four to six articles a month to magazines in various fields — back then mostly “on dead tree,” I had only just started to write for political Websites. I had submitted an article on the Mies van der Rohe exhibition then ongoing at New York’s Museum of Modern Art to National Review Online, and then followed up with an article on the Computer History Museum, then at Moffett Field in northern California. I was always doing Google vanity searches on my name, to see who was linking to my articles online.

Shortly after the piece on the Computer History Museum went up at NRO, I found it had been linked to by something or someone called “Instapundit.” I had seen Weblogs before, but they were always of the “I went to the mall and bought a great pair of Nikes” or “I had a really great date at Applebee’s last night” variety of daily diaries.

And I had seen self-published e-zines, in the form of Virginia Postrel’s Dynamist.com, KausFiles, and maybe Andrew Sullivan in whatever incarnation he was then currently in, plus of course the self-published Drudge Report, and had thought about launching a Website of my own, but these looked like they were beyond my then-meager Web skills. Designing a page template? FTP’ing up new pages every day? I didn’t know of any programs that automated that sort of thing.

But what set Instapundit apart, at the time, was that it was on Blogger. In fact, as Glenn Reynolds mentions in his new video at PJTV celebrating the tenth anniversary of his pioneering blog, his original URL was indeed instapundit.blogspot.com.That little Blogger Button in the corner of Glenn’s Weblog made all the difference. It suddenly became obvious that the platform of Blogger.com and the content it held were two very different things. While the vast majority of blogs on Blogger.com’s Blogspot hosting site were daily diaries, in reality, a blog could be anything.

And it helped that Glenn picked a catchy name for his nascent enterprise. As marketing gurus Al Ries and Jack Trout once wrote, there’s reason why we remember Apple as the first personal computer, and not the Altair 8800 or the IMSAI 8080. Because Apple had the name that made computing sound simple, easy to learn, and reliable, and not something you needed Wehner von Braun and Stanley Kubrick to walk you through. Similarly, the name Instapundit instantly explained the purpose of this new Website. Want news? Want opinion? What it fast? Who doesn’t, in the age of the World Wide Web? Well, this is your Website.

Once I saw the short “hit and run” style of Instapundit, the light bulb went off for me, as it did for hundreds, possibly thousands of other would-be bloggers back then: you could point readers to a story, and interject a short comment, but you needn’t hold yourself out as an expert on a particular topic. You were essentially an Internet traffic cop, directing traffic to the hot story of the moment, and blowing the whistle on those stories were the journalist got it wrong. And unlike a magazine article, which typically is of a fixed word count to fit into an existing page space in-between advertisements, a blog post could be any length, as we’ve seen from Glenn’s short one sentence (occasionally even one word) posts, to 5,000 word essays that Steven Den Beste routinely used to post in the first half of the previous decade. Or a blog could be devoted primarily to photos or video.

In other words, it was immediately obvious there was a whole new freeform style that had opened up, when I clicked on Instapundit around September 3rd or 4th of 2001.

And then the next week, the world changed. As Bryan Preston writes at the Tatler:

It’s hard to believe it’s been 10 years since Glenn Reynolds started InstaPundit.com. His blog was the first I ran across in the chaos of 9-11, and I was instantly hooked by his calm, reasonable, patriotic and liberty-focused take on the horrors of that day, and he way and speed with which he assembled opinion and reaction from all over the world. The way he dissected and destroyed media memes was a lifeline to sanity. InstaPundit was a revelation to me. Later I would start my own blog, JunkYardBlog, inspired and led by Glenn’s work. Thousands of other bloggers out there have been similarly impacted and inspired by Glenn Reynolds, and millions of readers have too. Glenn Reynolds is the blogfather to the blogosphere itself, among the right and libertarian blogs.

Right from the start, Glenn’s list of permalinked Weblogs were worth clicking on in and of themselves, just to see who was out there in this new world of journalism.

In early 2002, as I was planning to launch Ed Driscoll.com, originally simply to promote my magazine articles, I decided to use the Blogger.com interface to allow for easy access of the site, but with a different color scheme to differentiate myself from Glenn. (The hat design, based on a Trilby I had picked up in London in the summer of 2000, and swanky ’50s font came a couple of years later, when I commissioned Stacy Tabb to update my Weblog.)

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Court and Spark and Blackface

July 30th, 2013 - 11:53 am

When her hometown said they wanted to pave paradise and put up a museum in her honor, Canadian songstress Joni Mitchell condescendingly sniffed, “Saskatoon has always been an extremely bigoted community. It’s like the deep south.” (Naturally, the Saskatoon StarPhoenix relaying that quote buried it over 30 paragraphs into their article, demonstrating their keen proboscises for news.)

As Kathy Shaidle writes at the PJ Lifestyle blog, Mitchell’s “idiotic ‘cue-the-banjos,” ‘Deep South’ boogieman is deplorable, although typical of the 1960s/70s era liberal she is.” This is…interesting…however:

Saskatchewan resident Kate McMillan duly posted on this dust up at her blog Small Dead Animals — a post that drew a couple of… interesting comments:

“You might, like me, come to think you love Joni, not the musician but the human being, only to be terribly disappointed when you start to learn about all the racism and cultural appropriation perpetuated by her on her later albums–and in her everyday behavior, too. I mean really, Joni, REALLY?!

Weller glosses over this latter point with a “well, it was a different time…people just did that stuff”…but, no. I can not accept that “people” just [see photo above] dressed up in blackface as their “inner black person, a pimp named Claude” (while also claiming to be socially colorblind, no less! ARGH!) to go to parties and whatnot and it was totally cool. In the ’60′s–’80′s?! Maybe in the 1860′s and ’80′s. Harumph”

Then there’s this:

Lott discussed one moment in particular when Mitchell performed for Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter, the promising African-American boxer who was convicted of murder. During the performance, held at Carter’s prison, Mitchell was booed off stage because the black prisoners thought her music was a ‘whitewashed version’ of jazz and blues, he said. Out of anger, Mitchell publicly called Carter the N-word.

That was not the first time Mitchell was controversial regarding black culture, Lott said. On the cover of her 1977 album, Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter, Mitchell appears in blackface drag.

Lott explained that Mitchell’s fantasy of being a black man was apparent in both her music and the relationships she had with men. Having a relationship with a black man came satisfyingly close to being one, Lott said.

‘Joni thought she inhibited blackness,’ Lott said. ‘That’s why she didn’t see a problem with her wearing blackface or using the N-word.’

Click over to Kathy’s post for the photo.

War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and as the left amply demonstrated last year and during their show trial for George Zimmerman, their mindset seems to be, “only by keeping primitive racial stereotypes alive in perpetuity, can we hope to progress.” Last year, as the Daily Caller reported, “NY Democratic assemblyman wears blackface, struggles to understand the problem, finally apologizes.”

As I wrote at the time, this keeps happening — and it invariably involves someone who fancies himself [and now herself] a “Progressive.”


(L to R): Ted Danson, Tom Hanks and investment banker James Montgomery, and Brooklyn Democrat assemblyman Dov Hikind.

A Visual History of Social Media

July 19th, 2013 - 11:59 am

Social Media - A History

Along with what is certainly an impressive visual timeline, this site breathlessly announces, “Social Media did not start with Facebook or Twitter. Actually, it has been around for decades!” I know — I was first online around 1981 or so, connecting to bulletin board systems and Compuserve. (Minus the white Sleeper-style jumpsuit, for better or worse.) How ’bout you?

By the way, here’s a quick reminder from back then — this whole online news thing is just a fad; it’ll never catch on:

“Hollywood’s summer is more than halfway over, and the box-office report is telling,” Kyle Smith writes at the New York Post. “If you want to have a hit, don’t lard your film with tendentious, off-putting, off-topic political messages:”

In “White House Down,” a Tea Party-like cabal goes so far as to attack the White House and force a president (Jamie Foxx) obviously modeled on Barack Obama into fighting for his life (right at the moment when he was going to sign a major peace deal and also eliminate poverty). The film is so overtly (and, given that its director is Roland Emmerich, comically) political that audiences couldn’t even take it as seriously as the generic “Die Hard” rip-off “Olympus Has Fallen.”

Said Isaac Chotiner of The New Republic, the film “resembles a season of ‘24’ as re-written by Noam Chomsky.” Hey, nothing says blockbuster like Noam Chomsky. “White House Down” is one of the year’s biggest flops.

Disney’s “The Lone Ranger” is meant to continue in the 50-year-history of “revisionist Westerns,” meaning “this time white dudes are the villains.” The title character is played as an oafish sidekick by the bland actor Armie Hammer, while the actual star is Johnny Depp as Tonto. Tonto informs us solemnly, “Indians are like coyotes. They kill and leave nothing to waste. What does the white man kill for?”

Simple. As Woody Allen once said, we kill for food. And not only that, frequently there must be a beverage.

But the tired idea that Indians were ecologists, right down to their allegedly noble killing habits, is itself an early-’70s myth that doesn’t stand up to historical scrutiny, so this would-be daring film gets stuck in PC quicksand.

In fact, the Indians used any wasteful methods they could to kill buffalo (including driving them off cliffs or setting fire to the land on all four sides), then left most of the meat to rot in the sun.

The villains of “The Lone Ranger”? Greedy capitalists. Like the ones at Disney who charge 3-year-olds $89 for a day’s admission to the Magic Kingdom.

After watching The Lone Ranger, Blogger/talk radio host J.P. Travis asks, “When did white men become second class citizens?”

I’m hard to insult. Maybe it’s my thick skin, maybe it’s my thick head. But racist insults directed at white men in this movie—mostly from Tonto—were so rampant and so contrived I was noticeably subdued when it was over. I felt like a Gitmo detainee forced to watch a video of his own water boarding.

If it was just once that Tonto called the Lone Ranger a “stupid white man” that wouldn’t be so bad, but the racism was constant and left me wondering why our culture considers this okay. Obviously, if Hollywood made a movie that spent $259 million and 149 minutes insulting some other race, the crap would be in the fan. At the denouement of the movie, when Tonto is summing up the lessons learned from his epic battle with his lifelong enemy (by the way, why wasn’t the movie titled Tonto instead of The Lone Ranger since it was basically all about Tonto and the Lone Ranger was an idiot?)… where was I? Oh yeah, Tonto says to the bad guy:

“All these years I think you are wendigo [a Native American demon]. Now I see that you’re just another white man.”

In other words, in case that was too subtle, “white man” is synonymous with “demon.” He has another little speech later where he tells some Chinese railroad workers how bad white men are, whereupon all the Chinese guys nod their heads in agreement—”Very funny!” as TBS would say—but I forget what he said that time. I was thinking about other stuff by that point. Like how to get my money back for the ticket.

As Kyle Smith writes, politicized films can sometimes have an effective opening weekend (although that wasn’t the case with the Lone Ranger). However, word of mouth that a film is a giant leftwing sucker punch spreads fast — these days, faster than ever. At the end of his article, Smith notes:

Every summer the Brad Pitts of the world have to relearn the wisdom of MGM mogul Sam Goldwyn (though the line attributed to him actually came from playwright Moss Hart): If you want to send a message, use Western Union.

But for the past decade, the audience — an Army of Eberts! — can send themselves messages as well — which have been known to quickly sink a film if it’s bad enough.

As Glenn Reynolds writes in the New York Post today, “Sen. Dick Durbin thinks it’s time for Congress to decide who’s a real reporter,” which is a bit like Al Capone deciding who’s a real cop:

The ability to publish inexpensively, and to reach potentially millions of people in seconds, has made it possible for people who’d never be able to — or even want to — be hired by the institutional press to nonetheless publish and influence the world, much like 18th century pamphleteers.

Over the past few years, a lot of big scoops have come from people other than the institutional press — from James O’Keefe’s exposés of ACORN and voter fraud, to Edward Snowden’s release of NSA secrets via Glenn Greenwald, who talking head David Gregory suggested is not a “real journalist.”

Durbin’s pontifications about who’s entitled to press freedom were uttered in the course of promoting a federal “shield law” that would allow those “real” journalists to conceal their sources. I oppose such laws in general, but to the extent that they exist, they should protect everyone who’s doing journalism, regardless of where their paycheck comes from.

I wouldn’t trust Durbin (or most of his Senate colleagues) to baby-sit my kid. I certainly don’t trust them to decide who counts as a “real” journalist — and, more importantly, who doesn’t.

That last sentence is already leaving a mark. In addition to the examples quoted above, Glenn mentions the Egyptian tweeters and bloggers, who are running rings around the MSM, particularly since many Egyptians are carrying signs and banners that the American media considers samizdat. Just this past weekend, the first images of the Boeing 777 crash at SFO was tweeted by a Samsung executive who happened to be cool enough under pressure to document the aftermath of the landing:


Dick Durbin would like to silence such reporting. Of course, perhaps he’s merely concerned about the excessive hyperbole frequently employed by citizen journalists. I mean, you never know when some crazed leftie is going to compare the American military to Pol Pot, the Nazis or the Soviet Union.

Related: “Settled:”



As veteran Hollywood producer Lynda Obst makes abundantly clear in her enjoyable new book Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales from the New Abnormal in the Movie Business, Hollywood’s got a fevaaaah, and the only prescription is cranking out more and more superhero and sci-fi franchises. Warner Brothers has Batman and Superman, Paramount has the Star Trek and Mission: Impossible franchises, and Disney has Marvel Comics and now Star Wars as well.

Beginning with the subhead of her book’s title, Obst calls this “The New Abnormal” — the Old Abnormal she defines as the revolution that Spielberg and Lucas ushered into Hollywood via Jaws and Star Wars, and basically exhausted itself sometime after 9/11. (Obst explored some of the reasons why in the excerpt of her book in Salon, which we blogged about a couple of weeks ago.) Of course, the Old Abnormal itself replaced an earlier abnormal cinematic era — “New Hollywood.” That was the post-studio system period, when Hollywood stopped ingratiating itself with the audience, and started producing all those dark cynical (and occasionally brilliant) films that dominated the pre-Lucas 1970s, an era whose alpha and omega works were summed up in the title of Peter Biskind’s definitive history of New Hollywood, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls.

Obst explains the formula for ‘The New Abnormal” thusly:

1. You must have heard of the Title before; it must have preawareness.

2. It must sell overseas.

3. It should generate a Franchise and/ or Sequel (also a factor of 1 and 2).

And when you’ve got franchises and sequels, you have much less need for expensive, temperamental superstars. Which explains this recent headline in the London Independent: “The last action heroes: Have Tom Cruise, Will Smith and Brad Pitt lost their mojo?”

Studios now have more control over their product when stars are not involved. This is especially true of superhero movies. The exception that proves the rule came recently when Robert Downey Jr caused a ripple by threatening to stop playing Iron Man. The studio dithered, no doubt knowing they could save a fortune by letting him go. Fans balked and the studio relented. A hefty payday will see him star in Avengers 2 and 3, a comic-book ensemble that doesn’t need Downey Jr in it to guarantee bums on seats.

A caveat is that the appeal of the stars seems to have not been so diminished in foreign markets, especially nascent territories such as China and Russia. There has been a big shift in Hollywood studios’ attitudes in the last 10 years as the takings from foreign markets have started to dwarf those of domestic audiences. So while After Earth was deemed to have bombed in America, foreign takings a week later softened the crash landing.

The reaction of Cruise and Smith to their box-office numbers suggest they are in consolidation mode. Cruise has abandoned plans to star in an adaptation of 60s TV show The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and announced that he’s making a 5th instalment of Mission: Impossible. There’s also talk that he’s considering turning Jerry Maguire into a TV show. Will Smith has been on American talk shows downplaying the weak opening of After Earth and, while talking about looking for more risks in his choices and moving away from blockbusters, he has also been rumoured to be preparing for sequels of Bad Boys, I, Robot and Hancock. Although his Men in Black franchise has seen each sequel make less money than predecessors. The stars are following the studios in relying on their best-known characters to sell their movies.

What’s intriguing is that there seem to be no successors to Cruise, Pitt and Smith. The recent huge blockbuster franchises have been superhero movies, Batman and Spider-Man, or ensembles based on books, Harry Potter, Twilight and Lord of the Rings. It’s hard to imagine Christian Bale breaking box-office records outside of the bat-suit. The summer blockbusters have evolved away from being star vehicles as studios have hit on a formula where they can call the shots. That’s bad news for the non-tights-wearing action star.

It’s actually not all that “intriguing” as to why there are few successors to Cruise, Pitt, Smith, and their older partners-in-greasepaint such Bruce, Sly, Harrison and Schwarzenegger (and Mel Gibson before he nuked his career). They’re the last remaining action-oriented superstars before the rise of World Wide Web completely demassified pop culture beginning in the mid-1990s. Since none of these actors are getting any younger, Hollywood has increasingly relied upon the sci-fi and superhero franchises that existed before the demassification of media to provide a reason for audiences to go out to the movies.

Unfortunately, the result is  a dismal chart such as this, reproduced in Sleepless in Hollywood as a damning portrait of Hollywood’s lack of creativity:


Click to enlarge.

On the other hand, there is a new hope, to coin a cinematic phrase, which we’ll discuss right after the page break. (Pick up some popcorn in the lobby while clicking over.)

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Alec Baldwin and the End of the Red Carpet

June 29th, 2013 - 2:01 pm

Virginia Postrel once noted that “Despite what the fashion-magazine cover blurbs suggest, glamour is not a matter of style but of psychology:”

It is an imaginative exchange, in which an audience projects its longings onto the glamorous object and sees in that person, place or thing the fulfillment of those desires. By binding image and desire, glamour gives us pleasure, even as it heightens our yearning.

That process requires distance and mystery, because glamour is always an illusion. The word originally referred to a literal magic spell making things appear better than they really were. To “glamorize” something means to remove distractions or flaws. Too much information breaks the spell.

Which dovetails perfectly with what Nick Gillespie, Postrel’s successor at the helm of Reason magazine writes today: “Alec Baldwin’s Real Twitter Problem Isn’t Homophobic Ranting — It’s the End of the Red Carpet:”

In an interview with Gothamist, the talented actor and annoying loudmouth inadvertently lays bare the real online dynamic behind his anger – and it has less to do with factually incorrect journalism than you might think.

Baldwin’s core issue with new media – he slags Tumblr, Vine, MySpace, Facebook, and more – is that they level kings and queens and even celebrities into a mosh pit of direct, unmediated exchange that is hard as hell to control. It turns out that there’s really no red carpet or champagne room when it comes to the way that stars (read: world leaders, sitcom heroes, famous authors, former child actors, you name it) are treated.

In the Q&A, Baldwin says,

Twitter began for me as a way to bypass the mainstream media and talk directly to my audience and say, “hey here’s a show I’m doing, here’s something I’m doing.”… But I realized it’s something I’m not really… it certainly isn’t worth the trouble. Rosie O’Donnell is on my podcast this week, and she said that she’s getting off of Twitter, and I said “God, I was thinking the same thing.” I said “you just end up absorbing so much hatred.” You get these body blows of all this hatred from people who… their profiles are almost identical, like “tea party mom, I love my job, I love my kids, I love my country #millitary #guns” and there’s a screaming eagle in the background of their profile, grasping some arrows and tanks rolling in the background and they all want to tell me how much they can’t stand my politics. And I go, “OK.” What kills me is these are people who want to put me out of business, so to speak, as fast as they possibly can, but they don’t want to put BP out of business, who turned the Gulf of Mexico into a cesspool….

Baldwin sputters that the very tools he can use to bypass “the mainstream media and talk directly” to his audience also empowers all those dim people out there in the dark. What’s more, his followers have minds of their own. They may enjoy his turns in Glenngarry Glenn Ross and 30 Rock and guest-hosting on Turner Classic Movies but not really find his views on fracking to be worth a damn. It’s a real kick in the pants for a celebrity to be reduced to asking, “Do you think I’m really changing anybody’s mind?”

As Gillespie writes, “Remember the good old days, not just when there were only three national TV networks and one or two national newspapers, but when Hollywood studios could virtually completely control the image surrounding their contract players like halos on a saint’s shoulders? Those days are over, Baby Jane.”

But who’s forcing Baldwin onto Twitter and other social media? Doesn’t Baldwin have a manager, an agent, a PR person — a wife — who can say to him, “Maybe the instantaneous nature of Twitter isn’t for you, Alec?” Despite its recent ratings woes, NBC, where Baldwin’s low-rated 30 Rock seemed to run for a decade to a tiny audience of Baldwin’s fellow coastal arch-leftists is certainly a solid platform for publicity, via the Today and Tonight Shows. (Though even on that circuit Baldwin’s raging inner fascist emerges from time to time.) I’m sure Baldwin’s manager can demand to see a puff-piece before it runs in Time-Warner-CNN-HBO’s People magazine, or Jann Wenner’s Us. Or hire a ghost Tweeter.

It’s like something out of Lost Weekend or Michael Keaton’s Clean and Sober movies: What exactly is the narcotic power of Twitter that makes Baldwin return again and again to a medium that has so badly damaged his reputation?

In the meantime, over to you GLAAD and Capital One

At Freedomworks, Jimmie Bise explains how the Blogosphere works:

The most earnest desire for any blogger, no matter if they’re a big-time political writer on a national website or a lone hobbyist writing about his love for miniature wargaming, is more traffic. Wait, I mean MOAR TRAFFIC! I have to be “pop-culturally relevant” here or you’ll all stop reading and I’ll be cast into outer darkness, which for us new media folks means a horrid land where no one visits your blog and millenials walk by and laugh at you until you grab your handy cane, shake it furiously, and demand they get of your lawn….err, where was I?

Right. Web traffic. Visitors. Hits. The sweet, sweet manna of the online world. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, like checking your site traffic one afternoon to find a traffic spike soaring upward like the Burj Dubai thanks to a link from Professor Glenn Reynolds, the Instapundit. Known also as The Blogfather, because his blogging inspired quite literally dozens if not hundreds to take up the keyboard. Reynolds’ blog is one of the most widely-read on the Internet. A link from him, also called an Instalanche or ‘Lanche’ if you want to sound cool, can crash a website. I know because he’s crashed mine a couple times.

Read the whole thing, to coin an Insta-phrase.

Just in time for the potential chaos on Tuesday, I talk with Hans von Spakovsky, the co-author (along with NRO’s John Fund) of Who’s Counting?: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk. As you may know from his frequent contributions to PJM, Hans is a Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, and a former commissioner on the Federal Election Commission.

During our interview, we discussed:

● Did a 2008 article that appeared on a Website owned by the Washington Post really claim that “Believing in vote fraud may be dangerous to a democracy’s health”?
● On the flip-side, is discouraging voter fraud actually an attempt to suppress minority voters?
● We need to produce ID when we drive a car, purchase liquor, get on an airplane, and go to the hospital. Why don’t we need it to vote?
● Whatever happened to that 2008 case of the New Black Panthers brandishing billy clubs in front of a Philadelphia polling place on election day?
● The late Andrew Breitbart instructed readers that thanks to flip-cams and the Internet, they were now the media. Does that same Army of Davids spirit also allow individuals to be better poll watchers, as well?
● How did voting fraud impact the Minnesota race between Norm Coleman and Al Franken in 2008, and how did the election of a former Saturday Night Live writer to the Senate have ramifications for the entire nation?
● How quickly — or how slowly — could we know the winner this Tuesday?

And more.

Click here to listen:

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(12 minutes long; 11 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this week’s show to your hard drive. Or right click here to download the 3.33 MB lo-fi edition.)

If the above Flash audio player is not be compatible with your browser, click below on the YouTube player below, or click here to be taken directly to YouTube, for an audio-only YouTube clip. Between one of those versions, you should find a format that plays on your system.

For my earlier podcasts, start here and keep scrolling.

L to R: Breitbart, Glenn Reynolds, Driscoll at 2008 GOP convention.

Breitbart is here

In the early days of PJ Media — back when we were still had our pajamas, but before we founded PJTV — Andrew Marcus was our first in-house video maker, and gave me plenty of valuable advice when I first began to ever-so-tentatively dip my toes into the video pool back in 2007.

These days though, Andrew is directing on the big screen — his new documentary, Hating Breitbart, debuts later this month — and as Andrew explains during the interview, the keyword is later; its release has been delayed by the MPAA, who wish to slap an R-rating on the documentary, as The Hollywood Reporter recently mentioned:

The release of a documentary about deceased new-media provocateur Andrew Breitbart that was to open Friday has been delayed one week because of a rift between the filmmakers and the MPAA, which has rated the film R due to obscene language.

The movie, called Hating Breitbart, is largely about the subject’s battles against the mainstream media over the way it allegedly unfairly maligns the Tea Party movement. Clips of Anderson Cooper, Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, Chris Matthews, Bill Maher, Janeane Garofalo and others who call conservatives “teabaggers,” “racists” and other disparaging terms are used throughout the film.

The movie originally contained several uses of the F-word, which was routinely hurled at Breitbart when he’d show up at liberal gatherings. Breitbart also uses the word a few times in the film.

Under current MPAA guidelines, if a film uses “one of the harsher sexually derived words” — such as the F-word — more than a certain number of times, it receives an R rating. But the MPAA sometimes has made inconsistent rulings over language.

The MPAA gave Hating Breitbart an R rating last week, much to the dismay of director Andrew Marcus and distributors Rocky Mountain Pictures, who were hoping for a PG-13 rating. Marcus then cut out the offending word nine times but left in some that he deemed important to the integrity of the film. The MPAA still rated the film R.

We’ll also discuss:

  • How Marcus sold Breitbart on the idea of a documentary by appealing to his love of ’80s rock.
  • How the conservative Breitbart ironically became Saul Alinsky’s most brilliant disciple.
  • The transformation of Breitbart from backroom boffin at the Drudge Report and the Huffington Post to master showman, culminating in the legendary moment when he took the stage at the press conference for Anthony Weiner’s press conference — aka The Best. Press Conference. Ever.
  • What Breitbart would think of the MSM’s all-racism-all-the-time approach to the presidential election.

Click here to listen:

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

(23 minutes long; 21MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this week’s show to your hard drive. Or right click here to download the 7 MB lo-fi edition.

If the above Flash audio player is not be compatible with your browser, click below on the YouTube player below, or click here to be taken directly to YouTube, for an audio-only YouTube clip. Between one of those versions, you should find a format that plays on your system.

For my earlier podcasts, start here and keep scrolling — and don’t miss my first interview with Breitbart himself, originally recorded in late November of 2005 discussing his then-new book Hollywood Interrupted, click here.

Quote of the Day

August 19th, 2012 - 7:27 pm

“I’ve always believed that nothing is withheld from us what we have conceived to do. Most people think the opposite – that all things are withheld from them which they have conceived to do and they end up doing nothing.”

“Wait”, I said, pausing at his last sentence ”What was that quote again?”

“Nothing is withheld from us what we have conceived to do.”

That’s good, who said that?

God did.


God said it and there were only two people who believed it, you know who?

Nope, who?

God and me, so I went out and did it.

– Joel Runyon and Russell Kirsch. Read the whole thing.

YouTube Preview Image

“The World Deserves a Giant Rideable Hexapod,” the IEEE Spectrum Website reports:

Okay, look. In a lot of ways, we’re really not living in the world of the future. Those jet packs we were promised? They’re more like ducted fan packs. And flying cars? Really just driveable planes. Sigh.

And then there’s Stompy. A giant hexapod. That you can ride in. The world needs this.

Stompy is the brainrobot of Artisian’s Asylum, a hackerspace out in Boston. This is a serious undertaking: the guys behind it are experienced roboticists from places like Boston Dynamics, Barrett, and DEKA. The robot will be powered by a 135 horsepower engine driving a whooole bunch of hydraulics, and while it’s largely designed to stomp around in an exhibitory manner, the team has big, huge, world-changing plans:

The robot isn’t just being built for fun, though – it has incredibly practical purposes, as well. With 6 force-sensitive legs and a ground clearance of 6 feet, the robot will be able to walk over broken terrain that varies from mountainous areas, to rubble piles, to water up to 7 or 8 feet deep – everywhere existing ground vehicles can’t go. Not only that, but while navigating such terrain, Stompy could carry 1,000 pounds at 2-3 mph, and up to 4,000 pounds at 1 mph. This is important because in disaster areas like Haiti’s Port Au Prince, it’s taken more than three years to clear the rubble out of some areas – meaning that throughout that entire time, people have had to be rescued or resupplied by helicopter, because no ground vehicle could reach them. Stompy (and the technology it represents) could easily reach people who can’t be reached by any other means in a natural disaster.

Stompy’s builders should hire Syd Mead to put the finishing touches on their new design.

Incidentally, you have to love any group that’s fundraising with T-shirts such as these:

Quote of the Day

August 4th, 2012 - 5:00 pm

For 2000 years my ancestors dreamed of returning to their homeland and reestablishing their sovereignty. I have had the privilege of living that dream. How amazing is that?

We have to judge ourselves by whether we’ve lived up to our ideals and done our best. Not by the accumulation of power, wealth or fame; not for failing to achieve the impossible.

A famous Jewish story about that is the tale of Rabbi Zosia, who said that he did not expect God to berate him for not having been Moses—who he wasn’t—but for not having been Zosia.

To me, that means we must do the best to be ourselves while trying to make ourselves as good as possible. I’ve really tried to do that. I don’t have big regrets, nor bitterness, nor would I have done things very differently.

And I’ve discovered the brave community of those who are supporting and encouraging each other in the battle against this disease.

– Barry Rubin, “Why I’ve Always Written So Much with Such Intensity … And Why I Won’t Stop Now.”

Filed under: An Army Of Davids