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Ed Driscoll

Bobos In Paradise

Shot:

Q: There’s a perception that vaccine refusal is especially common among affluent, well-educated, politically liberal parents—is there any truth to that?

S.M.: It’s dangerous to make broad generalizations about a group, but anecdotally and from the overall data that’s been collected it seems to be people who are very actively involved in every possible decision regarding their children’s lives. I think it relates to a desire to take uncertainty out of the equation. And autism represents such an unknown. We still don’t know what causes it and we still don’t have good answers for how to treat it. So I think that fear really resonates.

Also I think there’s a fair amount of entitlement. Not vaccinating your child is basically saying I deserve to rely on the herd immunity that exists in a population. At the most basic level it’s saying I believe vaccines are potentially harmful, and I want other people to vaccinate so I don’t have to. And for people to hide under this and say, “Oh, it’s just a personal decision,” it’s being dishonest. It’s a personal decision in the way drunk driving is a personal decision. It has the potential to affect everyone around you.

Q: But why liberals?

S.M.: I think it taps into the organic natural movement in a lot of ways.

I talked to a public health official and asked him what’s the best way to anticipate where there might be higher than normal rates of vaccine noncompliance, and he said take a map and put a pin wherever there’s a Whole Foods. I sort of laughed, and he said, “No, really, I’m not joking.” It’s those communities with the Prius driving, composting, organic food-eating people.

“Why the ‘Prius Driving, Composting’ Set Fears Vaccines,” Science magazine’s 2011 interview with Seth Mnookin, the author of The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear.

Chaser (click to enlarge):

vacc-rate-2012-electoral-map-2-3-15-4-sml

Eh, make it a double:

Hangover:

Update: This topic is time-limited, MSNBC. Get your faux outrage in fast!

 

And speaking of NBC…

More: The Daily Beast “senior editor” offers cool, reasoned and entirely objective nonpartisan commentary on the topic:

FDR had breadlines for as long as the eye could see. Bill de Blasio has…

Entirely related!

And of course, as with FDR and the Depression, de Blasio and Cuomo are doing everything they can to make a bad situation worse, because, power: 

 

 


A few years ago when New York was pounded by many inches of global warming despite the Times predicting in 2000 that snowfalls would be a thing of the past, Victor Davis Hanson warned of “The Bloomberg Syndrome:”

It is a human trait to focus on cheap and lofty rhetoric rather than costly, earthy reality. It is a bureaucratic characteristic to rail against the trifling misdemeanor rather than address the often-dangerous felony. And it is political habit to mask one’s own failures by lecturing others on their supposed shortcomings. Ambitious elected officials often manage to do all three.

The result in these hard times is that our elected sheriffs, mayors, and governors are loudly weighing in on national and global challenges that are quite often out of their own jurisdiction, while ignoring or failing to solve the very problems that they were elected to address.

Quite simply, the next time your elected local or state official holds a press conference about global warming, the Middle East, or the national political climate, expect to experience poor county law enforcement, bad municipal services, or regional insolvency.

The names of the players have changed — and going from Bloomberg to de Blasio, the players themselves have gotten worse. But the political disease lingers on.

Update: One Twitter user squares the circle:

Shark Jumped

January 16th, 2015 - 11:30 am

Behold the international healing power of bad ’70s folk music.

“Kerry Brings James Taylor to Serenade French With ‘You’ve Got a Friend,’” the Weekly Standard’s Michael Warren reports. No, I’m not kidding:

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Paris Friday in what was billed as a show of solidarity with the French people after terrorists attacked last week. The former Massachusetts senator brought fellow Bay Stater and singer-songwriter James Taylor to sing a slightly off-key rendition of “You’ve Got a Friend” to a Parisian audience. Watch the video below:

No. And you can’t make me. If the New Republic can write film reviews without actually watching the movie, I can snark about this without risking the video of James Taylor singing “a slightly off-key rendition of ‘You’ve Got a Friend’” being seered — seeered! — into my brain.

Picture this: Tom Wolfe is working on his next satiric novel, set in the White House. A French magazine has just had a dozen staffers murdered by Islamic terrorists. The president, who was dubbed by his critics “The World’s Biggest Celebrity” after his 2008 speech to pick up the badly needed electoral college votes of Germany, can’t be bothered to attend the enormous protest rally in Paris in memorial to the slain writers. His Francophile secretary of state can’t be bothered to attend. A week later, the 71 year old Washington lifer whose mind and haircut are trapped in his halcyon youth of Vietnam and the Beatles arrives to pay his respects.

With a folk singer in tow.

Critics would howl that Wolfe has gone senile — that this would never happen in real life. No administration is this cartoonish. Even George Bush, known for his “cowboy diplomacy” wouldn’t have brought a country & western singer armed with a Martin guitar to France.

Of course — it could have been worse. Kerry could have brought Cat Stevens, aka Yusuf Islam, to sing “Peace Train.” Or Jimmy Page and Robert Plant to play “Stairway to Heaven” on acoustic. I wonder if they were Kerry’s first choices?

In his Third Law of Politics, historian Robert Conquest posits that “The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies.” This administration, which began with handing out an iPod of Obama’s speeches to the Queen of England and a Staples-style “Reset Button” to Putin really does seem to be the living embodiment of how a conservative would satirize a far left White House, doesn’t it?

On the other hand, look on the bright side. “With this the Boomer era is officially over, making today a wonderful day,” Allahpundit writes.

And speaking of aging boomers — if Lorne Michaels doesn’t jump on this tomorrow night on Saturday Night Live, we’ll know that…no wait, that shark was jumped decades ago. But this sketch does write itself, doesn’t it?

Update: Naturally, Twitter is having loads of fun with Kerry’s stunt:


Plus Senator Blutarsky offers his thoughts on the musical stylings of his esteemed Bay State colleagues.

Mario Cuomo and the Descent of Political Man

January 2nd, 2015 - 12:04 pm

The left’s “Hamlet on the Hudson” is placed into perspective by Kevin D. Williamson:

Cuomo was something of a Barack Obama before his time: Like the president, Cuomo came to prominence after making a highly regarded speech at the Democratic National Convention. Like the president, he never quite figured out that there was more to his job than making speeches. Take a look at the books written by and about Cuomo, you’ll find a couple of books about Lincoln, emphasizing his oratory, and a bunch of variation on the theme More Than Words: The Speeches of Mario Cuomo and Great Speeches, Volume IV.

In 2015 anno Domini, well-spoken mediocrity goes a long way — a longer way than it did in the elder Cuomo’s day, which is why Barack Obama became president and Mario Cuomo did not.

If the Cuomo-to-Cuomo timeline traces a depressing descent in American public and intellectual life, it is far from marking the deepest decline. Consider that the Senate seat occupied by Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York subsequently was filled by Hillary Rodham Clinton and then by Kirsten Gillibrand. The phrase “decline and fall” leaps to mind when contemplating that succession. It is a pity, though, that Herself stopped pretending to be a New York politician; she would have made a much better mayor of New York City than Sandinista leftover Bill de Blasio does, the job being about the right size for her intellectual scope and well suited to her talents, which are heavy on triangulating among lefty constituencies and light on things at which a secretary of state (or, angels and ministers of grace defend us, a president) might be expected to excel.

The lines of heirs and epigones can be illuminating. Consider: Much of what is wrong and distasteful about the modern Republican party can be compressed into the fact that John McCain, an authentic war hero and authentically unbearable poseur occupies the Senate seat previously held by Barry Goldwater. Terry McAuliffe sits in a chair previously occupied by Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, though that’s an unfair comparison, but George Allen looks pretty good in comparison, too. Jerry Brown, the New Age goof who occupies the governor’s mansion in California, was preceded by Jerry Brown, the New Age goof who had a couple of good ideas about taxes and budgeting, as well as by a noted organized-labor leader who went on to become president. Similarly, the line of Senate succession that led from Andrew Jackson to Lamar Alexander has had its ups and downs, its nadir being Al Gore.

Despite the increasingly primitive — and punitive — nature of our political leaders, some things in American life have actually gotten better — much better in the last half century. As Rich Lowry writes in his review of the new film Selma, its “implicit message” is that “it is not 1965:”

The temptation for the Left to live perpetually in 1965 is irresistible. It wants to borrow the haze of glory around the civil-rights movement of that era and apply it to contemporary causes. It wants to believe that America is nearly as unjust as it was then, and wants to attribute to itself as much of the bravery and righteousness of the civil-rights pioneers as possible.

Of course, 1965, the brief apogee of Lyndon Johnson’s New Deal-inspired “Great Society” was also yet another moment when America reached what Walter Russell Mead calls “Peak Left.” Only for the leftists to discover, to borrow one of their current favorite buzzwords, the ideal political world of Lyndon Johnson, Mario Cuomo and Barack Obama — a giant socialist nanny state from sea to shining sea — is unsustainable. And as we saw during the mid-t0-late ’60s and in 2014, severe cognitive dissonance can set in while the collective left collectively processes that fact.

“Oh, God, while the Sony situation isn’t funny George Clooney’s reaction to it certainly is,” Moe Lane writes. “Well, not Good Funny.  This is Bad Funny… anyway, let’s go over who Clooney blames, shall we?”

As Moe notes, between the media, trial lawyers, movie executives and Obama,”That’s… a large cross-section of the Establishment Democrats’ supporters up there, huh?”

We’re just missing the academics, Big Labor, and Big Green.*  George Clooney thinks of all of these people as being a bunch of cowards, which is certainly true; but what he’s apparently not getting (while sounding like quite the fire-eating Republican on this issue, might I add) is that they didn’t become cowards overnight. This is, in fact, pretty much reflective of the standard operation procedure that’s been adopted by the Other Side over the last few decades; and forgive me for saying this, but that’s why they were targeted. Nobody over there wanted to fight.

Alternate headline: Man who made film declaring fighting communism a witch hunt wakes up one day to discover that there actually are real Capital-C Communists in the world. And they’re very bad people. Even worse than the inhabitants of film studio boardrooms. (And that’s saying something.)

* Clooney’s most hilarious pro-environmental statement was in 2011, when promoting his vanity film The Ides of March with his fellow leftists at the L.A. Times said that he wanted to see the internal combustion engine banned by executive fiat, so to speak:

“If we’re cut off from oil, we will find a way to power our cars. So say it and make it happen,” Clooney said. “It’s not ridiculous. It is possible. And these are the kind of leadership things I would love to see and could be argued about. People will say, ‘It’s just actors.’ But I truly believe it.”

This from the man who owns a Lexus, a Carrera, and a ’59 Corvette. Of course, to paraphrase something Virginia Postrel once said to Brian Lamb, North Korea’s start-from-zero let ‘em eat grass and ride bicycles basket-case economy is a Hollywood environmental fascist’s dream come true. One in which, Kim Jong-un always gets the final cut, in every way imaginable.

obamacare_wheel_mud_big_11-3-13

“You can’t attribute the entire mess to one cause, but it certainly didn’t help [Democrat Governor Peter Shumlin's] case to have Jonathan Gruber involved in the project to the tune of roughly $400K. The voters probably weren’t looking forward to being lectured on videotape about how stupid they are in 2015:”

But perhaps the most telling feature of this staggering failure was the fact that the plan could not work without a massive influx of federal dollars. They were not able to secure a guarantee that the money would be available and the project went under. Now imagine scaling that up to a national single payer plan. Who would be available further upstream to help fund that? Nobody. The money would all have to be extracted from the taxpayers and every business in the country. And if we managed to pull it off you could soon be enjoying the benefits of waiting for years to get an appointment or some critical surgery.

Vermont is clearly a leader in socialist experimentation. In this case they may have actually provided us with a valuable lesson in what not to do.

That’s been Vermont’s primary role in the Union for well over a quarter of a century.

How bad has the state become?

As unlikely as it may seem, a prime area for heroin users is now the sleepy state of Vermont. On Wednesday [in January of 2014], Gov. Peter Shumlin’s entire State of the State address was devoted to what he called Vermont’s “full blown heroin crisis.” Vermont now has the highest rate of illicit drug use in the United States.

That bad.

Quote of the Day

October 23rd, 2014 - 4:11 pm

Heh, indeed.™ Kudos to Albright and/or her ghost-tweeter for a hilarious response.

‘The Secret Torment of Joni Mitchell’

September 1st, 2014 - 2:31 pm

Other than the self-hating misanthropy of “Big Yellow Taxi” (“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.” Yes, and over the last 150 years, “they” also put up electric lights, air conditioning, the polio vaccine, and err, the musical instruments, concert halls, record players, radio and TV networks, and the commercial aviation that made your career possible), I’ve enjoyed a number of Joni Mitchell’s songs, and her adventurous musical spirit. But this article in today’s London Daily Mail paints a picture of a very tormented 70-year old soul:

Reflecting on her childhood, Mitchell reveals she was terribly affected by Bambi, particularly the scene where the deer’s mother was trapped in the fire. It was an unlikely spark for her artistry. The traumatic scene made her obsessively draw pictures of fire and deer running, in an attempt to exorcise it from her mind.

‘I think maybe that’s the beginning of my contempt for my species and what it does. How ignorant it is of sharing this planet with other creatures. Its lack of native intelligence, common sense, or spirituality addressed to the earth…’, she told the author.

* * * * * * * *

While living luxuriously between two homes, she’s adamantly negative on America and the industry that made her so successful.

‘America is like really into Velveeta (the processed cheese). Everything has to be homogenized. Their music should be homogenized, their beer is watered down, their beauties are all the same. The music is the same track’.

But it’s in America that her music is playing in department stores and in elevators. Joni Mitchell has become the soundtrack to millions of lives, and the royalties from those songs have made her very wealthy.

* * * * * * * *

But it’s not a recurrence of polio.

‘Morgellons is constantly morphing. There are times when it’s directly attacking the nervous system, as if you’re being bitten by fleas and lice. It’s all in the tissue and it’s not a hallucination. It was eating me alive, sucking the juices out. I’ve been sick all my life’.

Mitchell broke off friendships feeling she was wasting her time with some people she calls ‘deadwood’.

She lost her drive and doesn’t follow projects through to conclusion. She’s forgetful and can’t remember what she just said, Marom writes.

If she’s out walking and has a thought she wants to remember but no notebook, she won’t remember when she gets home.

‘There’s a lot of lethargy with my illness. I’m fatigued’, she laments. And the medicines she was taking gave her brain fog, adding: ‘My creative energy went into survival and into furnishing the interior of the house [in British Columbia]‘.

If you hate mankind so much that you admit “contempt for my species and what it does,” then you must on some level hate yourself, your own existence, as well. Honest question: how much stress does that put on a body and impact a person’s health?

Related: While Mitchell’s hatred for humanity seems to be largely self-destructive, here’s a reminder that it could be far worse. In 2003, Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders “opined that she hopes the United States loses if it goes to war with Iraq,” infamously shouting on stage at a San Francisco concert hall, “Bring it on! Give us what we deserve!”, as the San Francisco Chronicle reported in March of 2003. Here’s one distaff rocker who seems to have taken Hynde’s advice one better, according to a new post at Breitbart.com: “Rocker Girl, Mother of Two, ISIS Recruit Wants to Behead Christians with ‘a Blunt Knife.’”

Update (9/2/14): Linking to our post, Ace of Spades has some thoughts on “Morgellons syndrome,” which Mitchell is quoted above as stating that she’s suffering from, and adds:

I’m not a doctor and I can’t say if “Morgellons syndrome” is a real thing or not, but people who are doctors seem pretty convinced that it’s not.

Enough people have frantically gone into their doctor’s office complaining of tiny fibre-parasites that if these parasites actually existed, we would know about it by now.

And what does this have to do with Joni Mitchell?

Well, people often say a leftist outlook makes people miserable. That may be true, but I think that the more important thing in this relationship is that tormented, miserable people frequently seek out a politics — a philosophy, a religion — that gives meaning to, and thereby redeems, their own pain.

And that politics is leftism.

Read the whole thing.

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

It’s baffling that they hold themselves in such high regard. Take President Obama, an academic socialist who’s never competently performed an executive function in his life, including during the last five years. Yet he somehow still believes himself to be himself to be God’s gift to humanity. Literally. Except, instead of turning water into wine, he was going to make the oceans recede and cool the earth. We do need to give him credit, I guess. While the oceans haven’t receded, the Earth isn’t getting any warmer, which naturally doesn’t stop the slack-jawed global warming sucker caucus from insisting that the planet will turn into Hades if everyone besides them doesn’t ditch their SUV.

I guess it’s easy to be moral when morality is defined as whatever you need at that moment. Still, it’s annoying to listen to people with such a weird, unearned sense of their own moral superiority. In truth, they are utterly morally illiterate. These are folks who draw parallels between Hamas and Israel when the only parallel between the Israelis and the jihadist degenerates is that they share the habit of breathing oxygen.

You’d be better off discussing ethics with your terrier. At least your dog isn’t going to come up with excuses for Ted Kennedy.

They’re delusional in that they really believe they’re somehow better than people who actually contribute to society. This reinforces the fact that liberalism has become a mere affectation, an act, a pose. It’s like a hipster’s trendy pork pie hat, except it’s an attitude – by having it you send some sort of message about your own awesomeness. Advocating liberalism is the “I only listen to music on vinyl” of American political thinking.

“‘Liberal’ Is Just A Synonym For ‘Smug,’” Kurt Schlichter, Townhall, yesterday.

And while there are some thinkers scattered around town, Miami is overrun with lawyers, jewelry designers and personal trainers, all trying to sell services to one another.

That’s right: She knows who Miami’s thinkers are — all of them, apparently — and also knows where they are! “Scattered around town.”

I wish the Times had printed a map, so I could go see them.

This is from her final paragraph:

There was a lot of pleasure in Miami, but not enough surprising interactions and ideas. Miami may one day be the city for normal-looking people with semi-intellectual aspirations and a mild social conscience. But it’s not there yet.

So she’s saying we have a chance! Not to be New York or Paris, of course, but some day — if we have a few more “surprising interactions and ideas” thanks to enlightened visitors who deign to visit us — we might develop semi-intellectual aspirations! And a “mild” social conscience!

I don’t know what we would do down here without the New York Times.

“Thanks, New York Times!”, Dave Barry, yesterday.

Didn’t South Park warn about the dangers of “The Perfect Storm of Self Satisfaction,” leading to massive smug cloud formations over major metropolitan areas, back in 2006?

Oh, and for my April interview with Dave Barry, click here.

“Notwithstanding two years of headlines re Jimmy Savile, Stuart Hall and others, not everyone at the Beeb in my day was a paedophile — or at least I don’t think so,” Mark Steyn wrote last week, in a profile of Rolf Harris, who at the end of last month was “found guilty of 12 counts of indecent assault on young girls in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties,” Mark writes:

Just about the only part of my career I truly regret was the time I spent at the BBC, who very kindly fired me back in the Nineties. Otherwise, I’d have a lot more time to regret. Notwithstanding two years of headlines re Jimmy Savile, Stuart Hall and others, not everyone at the Beeb in my day was a paedophile — or at least I don’t think so. Nonetheless, it was something of a shock to hear that Rolf Harris has been found guilty of 12 counts of indecent assault on young girls in the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties. As I said when he was charged nine months ago, it almost certainly marks the demise of his small but enduring catalogue of novelty songs. “Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport” and “Jake The Peg (With The Extra Leg)” delighted generations of children in both Britain and Australia, but it’s hard to see them getting much airplay now, or any other singer reviving them given the name of the author.

I knew none of that when I selected Rolf Harris’ biggest hit as Steyn’s Song of the Week to mark his 80th birthday in 2010. We reprint it here as an elegy for a number we’re unlikely to be hearing much of after yesterday’s verdict:

Naturally, England’s left are taking the news about as well as you’d expect. “Some university academics make the case for paedophiles at summer conferences,” Andrew Gilligan of the London Telegraph wrote on Saturday:

Last week, after the conviction of Rolf Harris, the report into Jimmy Savile and claims of an establishment cover-up to protect a sex-offending minister in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet, Britain went into a convulsion of anxiety about child abuse in the Eighties. But unnoticed amid the furore is a much more current threat: attempts, right now, in parts of the academic establishment to push the boundaries on the acceptability of child sex.

A key factor in what happened all those decades ago in the dressing rooms of the BBC, the wards of the NHS and, allegedly, the corridors of power was not just institutional failings or establishment “conspiracies”, but a climate of far greater intellectual tolerance of practices that horrify today.

With the Pill, the legalisation of homosexuality and shrinking taboos against premarital sex, the Seventies was an era of quite sudden sexual emancipation. Many liberals, of course, saw through PIE’s cynical rhetoric of “child lib”. But to others on the Left, sex by or with children was just another repressive boundary to be swept away – and some of the most important backing came from academia.

As one of Glenn Reynolds’ commenters quips, “the day is coming when the Catholic Church will be excoriated not for covering up pedophilia, but for opposing it.”

Meanwhile, at the newspaper of choice for those who practice the religion of socialism in England, “Guardian blogger Jonathan Jones feels vindicated. He alone once had the courage to call the inexplicably famous Rolf Harris a shitty painter to his face, and now Harris is a convicted child molester, so there. Or something,” Kathy Shaidle writes, noting that Jones wrote “a particularly sweeping statement of smug class-conscious snobbery, even by Guardian standards.”

Jones sneered, “Perhaps it all goes to show that the middlebrow is inherently corrupt.” As Kathy responds:

Jones didn’t even bother name checking the usual convicts—disgraced American daubist Thomas Kinkade; serial killer-cum-clown painter John Wayne Gacy; the freeze-dried personification of evil Amerikkka, Walt Disney—to bolster his theory. Why bother?

Pointing to frustrated artist Hitler’s taste for baroque spectacle and corny symbolism, leftists have equated lower- and middlebrow kitsch with fascism for generations, and “fascism” with “anything they don’t approve of” rather more recently. (When I still “worked” with flaky progressives, my complaints about their inefficiency were always met with a somber, “Mussolini made the trains run on time, you know…”)

If earnest, unironic kitsch is Nazi Germany, then its first cousin—gay, “edgy,” winking camp (which the left adores)—is Weimar. And we all know who won that scuffle. But leftists love nothing so much as a lost cause. Camp is the Spanish Civil War of aesthetics.

The Nazis may have won the scuffle, but Weimar really won the war, as its intellectuals fled Nazi Germany, resulting in Weimar culture and its worldview being spread far and wide, as Allan Bloom perceptively noted in 1987′s The Closing of the American Mind. I suspect a Weimar-era boulevardier of 1920s-era Berlin put into a time machine and fast-forwarded into today’s London, New York, Hollywood, or San Francisco would find much to approve of those cities’ culture and nightlife, and the values their media pumps out to the rest of the world.

Today’s middlebrow may well be “inherently corrupt,” but I wonder if anybody at the Guardian will explore how it got that way — and explain why, from their perspective, they consider that corruption to be a bad thing?

“NY Times: GOP’ers sounding more like Occupy Wall Street, scaring business leaders,” Noah Rothman writes at Hot Air:

“Mr. Cantor’s loss is much more than just symbolism,” the Times reported on Saturday. “He has been one of Wall Street’s most reliable benefactors in Congress. And Mr. Brat used that fact to deride the majority leader as someone who has rigged the financial system.”

What has concerned many businesses with a stake in federal policy is a growing anger on the right from people who can sound more Occupy Wall Street than Tea Party.

The Times quotes Potomac Research Group strategist Gregory R. Valliere who said that it is not unreasonable to make a comparison between tea party conservatives and “Elizabeth Warren liberals” in terms of the rising tide of economic populism. He declined, however, to make that direct comparison.

If businesses are truly sensing that an element of Occupy’s disaffected populism has begun to characterize the tea party’s rhetoric, they have only now started listening. Among the organizing principles which drew grassroots conservatives to the tea party movement in the first place was its willingness to attack Republicans as well as Democrats who facilitate what they view as crony capitalism. In the sense that both groups are suspicious of celebrated practices in Washington which enrich the well-connected and expand the state, but which never seem to directly or even indirectly benefit average Americans, Occupy and the tea party do share a common ideological bond.

But that’s about where the similarities end. It is difficult to believe that business and financial interests see the likely ascension of an economics professor from Virginia with an affinity for laissez-faire markets to the House of Representatives represents some horrible portent. The tea party seeks, and has always sought, to reduce the distortion in markets created by the collusion between politicians and moneyed interests. As an extension of the perennial squabble between Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian philosophies, the tea party’s rise to become a functional wing of the GOP is a most uniquely American political expression. Occupy, meanwhile, would have liked nothing more than to lead the American financial class to the gallows. There is nothing in the American political tradition which serves as a precedent for that virulent form of populism.

Occupy was the latest, and arguably more “successful” of the many attempts by the left to find a counter-narrative to the Tea Party, whose success in 2009 and 2010 utterly unnerved the left, who had convinced themselves that conservatism was dead, and the Brave New World that the Lightworker had ushered in would last for a thousand years. Or at least forty, as James Carville boasted in 2009 at the apex of Hopenchange. But it’s curious that these days, the Gray Lady appears somewhat ambivalent about the Occupy-style tones coming from the right, since they went all-in to support Occupy in the fall of 2011, with one Times reporter arrested during Occupy’s attempt to hold the Brooklyn Bridge hostage, and several columnists having Dr. Zhivago-esque flashbacks from the the motley crew down in Zuccotti Park. Paul Krugman becoming so obsessed, James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal dubbed Occupy “the Krugman Army,” and I created the Kiss Army-inspired Photoshop to accompany my posts on the topic.

But one reason businesses never took Occupy that seriously is that there was a huge element of kabuki to it — the Occupiers wanted more government, not less, and more regulation increases the cronyism that benefits big businesses — plenty of taxpayer dollars for bailouts, Solyndra-style vaporware start-ups, and all sorts of fiscal hijinks, and plenty of new regulations to keep smaller start-ups from interfering with megacorporations that have reached the “too big to fail” state.

Which is why Wall Street fell as hard for Obama in 2008 as the Times did for Occupy in 2011.

You can get a pretty good sense of the overall mental health of America based on the amount of camouflage being worn — outside of on-duty military personnel and hunters of course — at any given time.

Camouflage as ironic leisurewear for the elite took off in the late 1960s and early 1970s as a protest against the Vietnam War. As Tom Wolfe wrote in his epochal 1976 article “The ‘Me’ Decade and the Third Great Awakening,”  the New Left students of the 1960s “lived in communes that were much like the hippies’, except that the costumery tended to be semimilitary: the noncom officers’ shirts, combat boots, commando berets — worn in combination with blue jeans or a turtleneck jersey, however, to show that one was not a uniform freak.”

By the mid-1970s, the post-Watergate left had slashed America’s defense spending in Vietnam, and prohibited President Gerald Ford from retaliating against what would result in the NVA’s final push against South Vietnam. Having snatched American defeat in Vietnam from victory, that long war began to fade from American memory, and camouflage from college campuses.

But around 1978 and 1979, the Southern Californian-based skateboard culture embraced L.A.’s burgeoning punk rock scene. As photos in Skateboarder magazine illustrated, in the space of about six months, professional skaters decided they’d rather wear punk-inspired reactionary crew cuts than the flowing curly locks inspired by mid-‘70s rockers such as Peter Frampton, Roger Daltrey, and Jimmy Page.

In the early 1980s, England’s Clash embraced a paramilitary look and an album titled Combat Rock. Simultaneously in L.A., the Powell-Peralta Skateboarding Company, which for several years had been selling urethane skateboard wheels called “Bones,” branded their pro skaters the “Bones Brigade,” a sort of paramilitary-styled proto-A-Team of skateboarding, and dressed them in camouflage T-shirts. Concurrently, manufacturers of knee and elbow pads and padded nylon skateboarding shorts began selling their protective wares in olive and tan camouflage colors. (These days, Tony Hawk, an early Bones Brigade member, shills Obamacare, removing the irony from the skate team’s early paramilitary look and bringing it full-circle into socialism.)

By the mid-1980s, the last vestiges of Carter-era American malaise had given way to an American rebirth under the popular and confident President Reagan, whose common-sense motto was “Peace Through Strength.” Punk Rock had largely dissipated. Professional skateboarding had collapsed into an underground sport, and camouflage seemed to fade into oblivion, replaced in the fashion world and pop culture inspired by preppy clothes, Wall Street’s navy blue pinstripes, and Miami Vice pastels.

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Tell Us, Ronan, Where You Used to Work

May 19th, 2014 - 10:50 am

Hey, did you know MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow worked for the State Department? Don’t worry, he’ll be happy tell you — repeatedly:

Please MSNBC, have John “did you know I served in Vietnam?” Kerry on as a daily segment to be interviewed by Ronan “did you know I used to work in the State Department?” Farrow. Make this happen!

Oh That Return of the Primitive

April 14th, 2014 - 3:38 pm

“US Airways tweets graphic photo of nude woman to customers, then apologizes,” the New York Daily News reports:

“Inappropriate” doesn’t begin to cover it.

A shockingly graphic tweet by U.S. Airways featuring a woman and an airplane has led to an investigation and red-faced apology by the airline.

A photo of a naked woman lying exposed on a bed with a toy plane between her legs was publicly shared by the airline late Monday afternoon while responding to disgruntled customers who were angry about a recent flight delay.

The extremely graphic image sent to one Twitter user came with the caption: “We welcome feedback, Elle. If your travel is complete, you can detail it here for review and follow-up.”

Instead of a link matching that description, however, it was a link to the photo.

Twitchy of course has a round-up of reactions to US Airways’ disastrous tweet, and a blacked-out version of the photo itself. And note the airline’s gobbledygook response:

As author Kim Harrington tweets, “No matter how bad of a day at work you’re having, at least you don’t run the US Airways twitter account. That person is having a worse day.”

Update: NSFW version online at the Frisky.com. Repeat: Not. Safe. For. Work. Click at your own risk to employment and/or sanity.

Then Came Dave

April 13th, 2014 - 7:13 pm

“Letterman was a turning point in American cultural history,” Michael Long writes at NRO. His article went online after I wrote my piece on Letterman, Leno, Colbert, and HBO’s Late Shift, or I would have certainly excerpted it there. But it’s worth reading the piece in full, for a reminder of how Letterman’s original late night show at NBC in the early to mid-’80s was the beginning of Weimar-esque irony absolutely permeating the American media’s overculture. To the point where even the New York Times published a piece late 2012 titled “How to Live Without Irony.” For which they found themselves pilloried for even suggesting the idea, by leftwing Websites who wish to remain permanently trapped behind the Irony Curtain.

OK, sorry about that last pun; here’s how Long’s piece concludes:

Before Dave, irony was like that little jar of allspice your mom got out once a year for Thanksgiving. Dave decided it would go well with everything, and it turns out we agreed. We live in Dave’s world now, communicating by sarcasm, and not liking him doesn’t make it any less true. Dave dragged a narrow, curmudgeonly worldview from obscurity to majority. Not even Carson pulled off anything that big.

Unless you have seen Letterman in his most amazing, early days — those desperate, late-night NBC shows where he built on Ernie Kovacs and Steve Allen by narrating the sidewalk traffic as a passing parade, or broadcasting his program in Spanish, or pestering people just to ask “What’s in your bag?” — he’s just a grumpy old man to you now, in the same way that Leno’s early (lantern-)jaw-dropping talents are forgotten in favor of his later vanilla appeal. (Another lost fact: It was Letterman who made Leno a star, and together they defined the cutting edge of comedy in the 1980s.) But Dave was a giant, bigger than even Jolson and Hope, whose achievements were, relative to Dave’s, parochial and of their time. Letterman’s mark is on culture and language, and is so ubiquitous that few even know we used to speak and act some other way. But that’s how giants do it.

But as the policeman who found Lenny Bruce immediately after he shuffled off to the great night club in the sky was quoted as saying, “There is nothing sadder than an aging hipster.” Though perhaps even more pathetic are aging ironists, as their worldview becomes insular and reactionary, and their performance becomes freeze-dried and formulaic.

Of course, as far as formulaic at 11:30 PM at CBS, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Why Not Try for the Popularity Contest?

February 26th, 2014 - 3:52 pm

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“Alec Baldwin, Drama Queen,” writes Michelle Malkin in her latest column, quoting from Baldwin’s train wreck New York magazine column, adding that Baldwin is “especially mad, mad, mad about how angry and hateful the rest of America has become:”

“The heart, the arteries of the country are now clogged with hate. The fuel of American political life is hatred,” he fumes. It’s all the fault, he fulminates, of Roger Ailes, Fox News, and Andrew Breitbart.

Funny guy. These complaints are coming, after all, from the hate-clogged hate-monger who called Breitbart “a festering boil on the anus of public discourse” for exposing rapes and violence at Occupy Wall Street camps — and who taunted Breitbart’s friends after the father of four’s tragic death in 2012 by gleefully floating conspiracy theories on Twitter.

Bawling Baldwin can’t take it anymore, America, but he sure loves to dish it out.

Remember: Our born-again champion of civility and tolerance is the same rageball who attacked a Starbucks barista he didn’t like as a “queen,” derided conservative women who identity themselves as “moms,” mocked Filipina women as mail-order brides, smeared the entire state of Florida as a “f***ed up parallel universe,” and savaged an American Airlines stewardess who told him to put his iPad away before takeoff. “Last flight (with) American,” he sneered. “Where retired Catholic school gym teachers from the 1950s find jobs as flight attendants.”

One of the most interesting segments of the otherwise fluffy Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee series of Web videos from Jerry Seinfeld was the episode in which Baldwin was Seinfeld’s guest. It reminded me in a way of the hermetically‎-sealed insularity of the first Godfather movie. As long as it’s just Jerry and Alec, hangin’ out, toolin’ around town in a boss 1969 Mercedes roadster, slingin’ the hash, sippin’ the coffee, it’s sort of fun watching the banter between these two very different television veterans each made very wealthy from the largesse of NBC. But the segment becomes hypnotic each time the waitress — the “civilian” amongst these two showbiz Godfathers — approaches to deliver their food or refill their coffee mugs, and you’re waiting for Baldwin to switch into HULK SMASH!!!! mode if she says the wrong thing or simply looks at him funny.

Perhaps that’s totally unfair, but Baldwin has done quite a job over the years crafting a very toxic image for himself. As the late Cathy Seipp wrote a decade ago in a piece on show biz anger titled “California Screaming:”

Some screamers can hardly utter a sentence that doesn’t contain the f-word. The syllable almost seems to function as their sound, signifying only that they are in the room. Others are more careful with their language, because being sworn at is the point where many screamees stop listening and may even quit. So bland, schoolmarmish words of displeasure are amplified to ear-splitting volume. A vein-popping “Un-ACC-EPT-able!” is a great favorite. Also, a drawn out “DIS…A…PPOINTED!!!”

When in full throttle, the classic Hollywood screamer cannot be neither stopped nor shamed. I once heard a story about a studio executive who screamed at someone’s assistant for a good five minutes before realizing he was in the wrong office — possibly even on the wrong floor. “Well, if you see her,” he yelled before stomping out, “tell her what I said!”

Screaming actors, it seems, can be easier to deal with, perhaps because they are not always famous for their brains. Many years ago, I read a story about how Roger Moore (a nonscreamer) took a younger actor aside and suggested he stop attacking everyone on the set. “I’m not in this business to win a popularity contest,” the screamer fumed. “I just want to be a good actor.”

“Well, you’ve failed at being a good actor,” Moore replied reasonably. “Why not try for the popularity contest?”

Sounds like good advice – I wonder if anyone ever suggested something similar to Baldwin early in his career?

Sex and the Stasism: A Century of Standing Still

February 17th, 2014 - 4:39 pm

“‘The Revolt Against the Masses’ reveals liberalism’s elitist roots,” Michael Goodwin writes in the New York Post:

Ever wonder why Barack Obama seems more suited for a European coffee shop than the Oval Office?

Wonder no more. Fred Siegel’s new book explains all you need to know about liberalism, a political philosophy that, despite good intentions, careened off track after World War I and hasn’t found its way back yet.

“The Revolt Against the Masses” is a brilliantly argued, well-timed case against reactionary snobs who were and remain disgusted with American society. Under the subtitle “How Liberalism has Undermined the Middle Class,” Siegel documents with scholarly detail the arrogance of elites who launched a movement that romanticizes the poor while trying, with distressing success, to dismantle the democratic, capitalist traditions that helped establish the middle class.

“The aim of liberalism’s founding writers and thinkers — such as Herbert Croly, Randolph Bourne, H.G. Wells, Sinclair Lewis and H.L. Mencken — was to create an American aristocracy of sorts, to provide the same sense of hierarchy and ­order long associated with European statism,” he writes.

A century after the ideology’s birth, how’s it working out for both self-styled “Progressives” and for the rest of us? Look no further than a pair of shows produced by the very fountainhead of “Progressivism” itself, Time-Warner-CNN-HBO for some hints, as Peggy Noonan writes at the Wall Street Journal, comparing and contrasting HBO’s 1990s-era series Sex and the City, with its successor, Girls, starring that tattooed Obama postergirl herself, Lena Dunham:

On “Sex and the City” they had careers but were not precisely careerist. On “Girls” they want careers but have no demonstrated capabilities.

On “Sex and the City” the subtext was friendship. In “Girls” the subtext is competition. It is a truer show in a material sense, but a colder one. People aren’t really nice to each other. There’s a sense of grieving over something that isn’t quite named. There’s little emphasis on glamour.

The differences in the tone and mood of the two shows is explainable in part by the fact that the characters in “Sex” were in their 30s and the characters in “Girls” are in their 20s and just out of school. They’re more lost, less fully formed. They’re trying to get a start on who they will become but can’t gain purchase because they don’t yet know who they are.

But watching, I thought the show’s creators were saying, or simply reflecting in their work, that young and academically credentialed girls now are a little more lost, a lot less fully formed than young women in past eras. The great recession is a quiet presence. It’s hard to get a job; sometimes Hannah acts as if she’s scrounging for food. The parents of the characters are mostly affluent flakes who wouldn’t have taught their kids much beyond the idea of rising.

“Sex and the City” had an air of rebellion. “Girls” is living in the middle of what the rebellion wrought.

Back in 2008, a few critics described the crazed fans of Sex and City as the distaff equivalent of  Trekkies and equally obsessive Star Wars fanatics. And since Barack Obama been endlessly compared — even before taking office — to FDR, numerous pundits have referred to 21st century “Progressivism” itself as a cargo cult beholden to the days of FDR. So with all of those holographic reflections in mind, how’s all that hopeychangey stuff working out for them?

‘Fast Times at Eighth Avenue High’

February 7th, 2014 - 4:57 pm

The New York Times and “our adolescent media” are dissected today by Matthew Continetti at the Washington Free Beacon. Continetti notes that the recent article “The Tyranny and Lethargy of the Times Editorial Page,” by Ken Kurson, at the New York Observer, uses as one of its sources of information regarding the dysfunctional world of the New York Times, an unnamed journalist, who as Continetti notes, “is so upset at editorial and op-ed page editor Andrew Rosenthal that “he will literally not allow Mr. Rosenthal to join their lunch table in the cafeteria:”

On the most superficial level, the article is a delight. The experience of reading it is like watching a colony of red ants turn against each other—a violent and morbidly fascinating event towards which one is completely apathetic. It reminded me of the practice of some high school teachers who, having intercepted gossipy notes passed between students, read the messages aloud to the entire class. Except in this case the students gave their teacher the notes.

High school is an apt metaphor for the shenanigans inside the Times’ $850 million skyscraper at the corner of Fortieth Street and Eighth Avenue. The Times portrayed in Kurson’s article is not the established, serious, and competent institution of the liberal imagination. It is the Beverly Hills High School in Clueless, a cliquey and catty war of all against all, where the self-importance of the occupants masks deep insecurities. The next time our reporters and producers and anchors and bloggers affect an air of moral or social superiority, the next time they pretend to know the answers to every political and economic and cultural question, remember this: They are basically teenagers.

But essentially, the same could be said of their publisher, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr. aka “Pinch,” as William McGowan noted in his 2010 book, Gray Lady Down:

It was fortunate for Sulzberger that he was arriving at the Times as the influence of Abe Rosenthal was beginning to ebb. Rosenthal was an up-by-the-bootstraps hardscrabbler who clawed his way to the top of the Times. Arthur Jr. was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and grew up as the presumed heir to one of the country’s most important and richest media families. Rosenthal was deeply patriotic and temperamentally, culturally and socioeconomically allergic to the Woodstock Generation. Sulzberger was proud to the point of vanity to be part of the sixties and its emancipatory spirit. [Of course, Sulzberger didn't want everyone to emancipated back then -- Ed] Nor had his efforts to submerge his sense of entitlement, successful on some people, worked with Rosenthal. According to some reports, Rosenthal had little regard for Sulzberger’s talents and informal affectations. Once, barely containing his fury, Rosenthal grabbed a shoeless Sulzberger by the arm and told him never to come into an editorial meeting in his office that way. At another point, Rosenthal’s secretary caught Arthur Jr. reading her boss’s messages outside his office. “Who do you think you are?” she snapped. Sulzberger contritely apologized. “I’m a reporter. I’ve got all the instincts. I can’t help it,” he supposedly replied.

Years later, in 1999, when he had been firmly established as publisher since 1991, Sulzberger finally got his delayed revenge on Rosenthal when he called the older man into his office to tell him that he would no longer be writing his op-ed column. “It’s time,” Sulzberger said, giving little other explanation. After having given his life to the paper, Rosenthal felt betrayed and heartbroken. “I didn’t expect it at all,” he reportedly told his good friend William F. Buckley.

One need only compare the shenanigans described in McGowan’s recent book with the infinitely more sober — not to mention patriotic — Timesmen in Gay Talese’s mammoth 1969 tome The Kingdom and the Power, to understand what has befallen the paper.

There is daily newspaper that’s called the New York Times. It shares the same masthead and slogan, and for those who pick it up in dead-tree form on a newsstand or vending machine, the same form it has always had. However, the similarities end there, if only because the people who now produce the paper share a radically different worldview than the people who originally established the modern form of the New York Times in the first half of the 20th century. But then, the same could be said about much of the elites running the country, and shaping its minds via academia and the rest of the media as well.

Interview: P.J. O’Rourke on The Baby Boom

February 5th, 2014 - 10:52 pm

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If anybody deserves an interview with PJ Media, it’s certainly P.J. O’Rourke — although as I explained to him before we began rolling, while many of us have been inspired by his writing, our Website’s name of course derives from a scandal involving a very different journalist.

O’Rourke has made a career of puncturing the excesses and pretensions of tyrants both domestic and abroad, and anyone who wishes to impose big government statism on others. And since that’s been the goal of the Baby Boom since Tom Hayden wrote the Port Huron Statement in 1962, it’s no surprise that O’Rourke would eventually devote a book to his own generation’s myriad excesses.

During our interview, he’ll discuss:

● Did an AARP membership card lead to Osama bin Laden’s death?

● Were the radical shifts in culture in the 1960s foreshadowed by any previous decades?

● How do the freshman, sophomore, junior, and senior classes of the boomers differ from each other?

● Did the younger boomers learn anything from their older classmates?

● How did growing up as a boomer make P.J., in his college days, a man of the left, and how did he eventually join the vast right-wing conspiracy?

● The secret Hillary Clinton, Cheech & Chong connection, revealed at last!

● Does hashish and dynamite mix?

And much more. Click here to listen:

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Pinch’s Poverty Chic

January 12th, 2014 - 2:40 pm

“Poverty,” the New York Times declared this past week, “is suddenly the subject of bipartisan embrace,”  Matthew Continetti notes at the Washington Free Beacon. Continetti adds that he’s spent “a lot of time parsing that sentence:”

There is, for example, the adverb: “suddenly” does a lot of work; it carries the weight of the entire piece on its eight letters. The condition of the working poor, after all, has been a subject of political dispute since, oh, the Industrial Revolution. The author of the Times article, Jeremy W. Peters, seems to recognize the Groundhog Day aspect of his argument when he writes, in a fine example of mixed metaphor, “To read the flurry of fundraising solicitations that flood email inboxes can, in fact, seem a lot like a rerun of the last presidential election.” Jeremy has a short memory.

There is also the matter of subject-verb agreement. Isn’t the subject of an embrace the one doing the embracing? That would make poverty the object, not the subject, of the sentence. Or does “subject” in this case mean a topic of discussion? And wouldn’t a “bipartisan” embrace be between a Republican and a Democrat, leaving poverty in the cold? How does one embrace a concept or state of being? Is poverty really a condition anyone would like to embrace—to welcome, to envelop, to receive cheerfully—in the first place? You don’t “embrace” poverty. You escape it.

The unintelligibility of the Times pronouncement does not diminish its significance, however. Mike Allen of Politico had good reason to call it the “sentence du jour”: The eight words capture, however badly, the mood in Washington, the character of recent debate. A less hurried or less pretentious writer might have said, “Poverty has of late become a subject of concern in both political parties.” The inequality business is booming. Obscene wealth is unfashionable. Poverty is “in.”

Meanwhile, the Dinocrat.com blog spots the Times transforming itself into the Onion more and more every day:

“Fast-Food Purchase Seething With Unspoken Class Conflict.”

– Headline at the Onion, August 1st, 2001.

“As Shop Owner, Woman Sees Troubling Sides of Herself.”

– Headline, the New York Times, this past Friday.

The article itself actually does read like a bad Onion parody, beginning with its opening:

Living in New York can curiously and frequently feel like an exercise played out on a narrow emotional field, a continual toggle between envy and guilt. You wish for more; so many others seem to have it, after all — more space, nicer furniture, a greater number of things from Lululemon. But you also harbor a discomfort at possessing plenty while legions haven’t nearly enough. In any given hour you might veer from feeling unduly blessed to woefully disadvantaged. It is not the job of politics to solve the problem of this kind of split perspective, but it remains one of the chief psychological byproducts of inequality for those who occupy a place in the city’s vast and steeply tiered middle class.

Read the whole thing, which really puts the rococo back into Tom Wolfe’s essay from the dawn of the new millennium, “In the Land of the Rococo Marxists.”

And speaking of which, what’s the deal with the Times’ italicized headlines, which just look extra silly and too cute for words pretentious?