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Ed Driscoll

Bobos In Paradise

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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Transcript of our interview begins on the following page; for our many previous podcasts, start here and keep scrolling.

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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?

Deconstructing Manhattan

January 11th, 2014 - 2:02 pm

Movies have long had flashy and impressive opening title sequences. In the 1950s, graphic designer Saul Bass lashed up motion graphics and modernist stylings to movie credits for such classic Alfred Hitchcock films as Northwest by Northwest and Psycho and revolutionized the industry. Following his lead, Maurice Binder made the opening titles of the James Bond movies into their own miniature productions, filled with silhouetted scantily-clad girls moving in hypnotic slow motion across the giant Panavision screen. And Star Wars’ opening crawl, inspired by the Flash Gordon serials of a generation earlier, but  created using then-bleeding-edge Industrial Light & Magic technology, combined with John Williams’ stirring music and ending with a giant Star Destroyer spacecraft swooping in from atop the screen blew audiences out of their seats, and raised the bar for a generation of movie makers and completely upended late-‘70s-era Hollywood.

But is it possible for an opening title sequence to be so powerful, it completely distorts the meaning of the film that follows? The opening sequence of Woody Allen’s Manhattan certainly qualifies, mixing Woody’s very funny opening narration, (“Chapter One, he adored New York”), George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue,” Gordon Willis’ knockout black and white cinematography, and, of course, the carefully selected and rhythmically edited underlying images of New York itself. It’s absolutely stirring stuff, which must have been doubly so seen on the big screen, and I suspect that sequence alone left a lot of 1979-era moviegoers thinking Manhattan would be like the sequel to 1977’s warm, ingratiating Annie Hall.

Beyond the title sequence, in a way, the rest of Allen’s Manhattan is as much of a triumph of production design and background music as such stylized high-‘80s movies as Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, or Tim Burton’s Batman movies. With the exception of Jack Nicholson as the Joker, who’s clearly having lots of fun receiving an six million dollar paycheck (ultimately at least $60 mil once ticket grosses were counted) for rehashing his deranged but beloved Jack Torrance character from The Shining, these films are stuffed with dark, unsympathetic characters, behaving immorally, but surrounded by brilliant music and production design.

Similarly, Manhattan is no Annie Hall. Manhattan’s characters are much crueler than Alvy Singer and the eponymous Annie. Michael Murphy’s sidekick character in Manhattan is cheating on his wife with Diane Keaton’s coarse f-bomb-dropping wannabe critic. There’s a cameo appearance from Michael O’Donoghue, at the height of his lecherous “Mr. Mike” phase on the first iteration of Saturday Night Live. And of course, Woody’s 42-year old character is dating a 17-year old student played by Mariel Hemingway, foreshadowing Woody’s own fall from grace a decade later with Soon Yi; and then goes on to betray his best friend by cheating on the teenager with the best friend’s cheatee/mistress. His character has a young son being raised by his passive-aggressive and vindictive divorced wife (played by Meryl Streep in an early role) and her lesbian partner. For a film in which Woody’s character says he’s writing a novel “about decaying values,” the characters in his film seem to display them in Weimer-sized abundance.

Perhaps the best example occurs near the climax of the film, when Woody’s character, dictating ideas for his novel into a tape recorder, asks “what makes life worth living?”

Notice who’s missing? Merely his son.

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David Brooks: Choom Leader

January 3rd, 2014 - 1:30 pm

“Weed: Been There. Done That,” exclaims…the New York Times’ David Brooks? No, really!

For a little while in my teenage years, my friends and I smoked marijuana. It was fun. I have some fond memories of us all being silly together. I think those moments of uninhibited frolic deepened our friendships.

But then we all sort of moved away from it. I don’t remember any big group decision that we should give up weed. It just sort of petered out, and, before long, we were scarcely using it.

We didn’t give it up for the obvious health reasons: that it is addictive in about one in six teenagers; that smoking and driving is a good way to get yourself killed; that young people who smoke go on to suffer I.Q. loss and perform worse on other cognitive tests.

I think we gave it up, first, because we each had had a few embarrassing incidents. Stoned people do stupid things (that’s basically the point).

Suddenly, Brooks admiring then-rookie Sen. Barack Obama’s pants crease, and extrapolating from its sharpness that his trousers’ manifest destiny would be to take the man inside of them all the way to the White House three years later starts to make perfect sense. But only if can you picture the conversation occurring at 4:20 PM, with both legendary tokers higher than Air Force One while engaging in the conversation.

I don’t know about you, but once I acquired my first cable modem a decade and a half ago, I’ve watched a steadily-dwindling amount of television. What’s happening on the ‘Net just seems so much more interesting than 99 percent of what’s happening on the networks. One would assume that for the president of the United States, who has been entrusted by the American people to, you know, keep the nation out of harm’s way, and as the quaint phrase goes, run the government, he’d have far less time to watch TV than you or I.

Our current President Potemkin evidently has very different priorities. Or as Howard Portney asks at Newsbusters, pondering the difficult questions, “Where Is Obama Finding the Time to Watch So Much Television?”

Take a story from Sunday’s New York Times that addresses his TV viewing preferences:

These days, when Mr. Obama retreats to the White House residence after a long day on the other end of the colonnade, he is working his way through the DVD box set of AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad’….

Friends say Mr. Obama is also keenly awaiting the new season of the Netflix show ‘House of Cards.’…

Mr. Obama is also a devotee of Showtime’s ‘Homeland.’…

And the list of heavies continues. Mr. Obama has told people he is a big fan of ‘Game of Thrones.’… He has raved about ‘Boardwalk Empire’ and the BBC’s ‘Downton Abbey.’… And he has worked his way through the DVDs of AMC’s smoldering ‘Mad Men’ series.

Obama is also enamored, Times writer Michael Shear adds, of HBO’s ‘The Wire,’ ‘Real Housewives,’ ‘Glee’ ABC’s ‘Modern Family’ and NBC’s ‘Parks and Recreation’ and ESPN’s ‘SportsCenter.’

Meanwhile, with John Kerry chumming around with Snoop Doggy Dogg, one can assume the Middle East’s once-intractable squabbles will soon be solved forevermore. Poor New York magazine, tasked with having to defend their maladroit fellow Democrat, actually ran the headline,”John Kerry Fist-Bumping Snoop Dogg Is Somehow Not That Awkward” on Monday.

No actually, it’s all extremely awkward watching a 70 year old radical chic Boston Brahmin underneath his helmet-like Shatner Turbo 2000 declaring his love for rap music. A decade ago, the would-be presidential candidate Kerry publicly declared, “I’m fascinated by rap and by hip-hop. I think there’s a lot of poetry in it. There’s a lot of anger, a lot of social energy in it. And I think you’d better listen to it pretty carefully, ’cause it’s important.” In response, in his classic column back then dubbing Kerry “America’s first flip-flopper hip-hopper,” Mark Steyn compared one of the key differences between the two parties:

By comparison, here’s Gov. Bush four years ago being given a ”verbal Rorschach” test on American pop culture by Glamour magazine: What comes to mind, David France wanted to know, when you think of Madonna?

”I’m not into pop music,” replied Bush.

Boy, that MTV special would have been a short one. Stunned by the candidate’s ignorance, Maureen Dowd, the New York Times’ elderly schoolgirl, wrote a column mocking him for never having heard of ”Sex and the City,” beginning as follows:

”W. may have gone too far this time.

”Americans can forgive him not knowing that Gen. Pervez Musharraf seized power in Pakistan.

”But can we forgive him not knowing that Sarah Jessica Parker quaffs Cosmopolitans in Manhattan?”

Answer: Yes. Unlike Dowd, Americans are apparently willing to cut him some slack on this vital question. Some may even feel that his cheerful admission that ”I’m not into pop music” is the sign of a man secure in his sense of himself.

This isn’t entirely a matter of trivialities. The fads and fashions of the world aren’t confined to the Billboard Hot 100. All over the planet, men in late middle age are pretending to like stuff just ’cause it’s what the likes of Maureen Dowd tell them people want to hear. John Kerry pretends to like gangsta rap. Russia pretends it supports the Kyoto Accord. The European Union pretends Yasser Arafat is committed to peace with Israel. The Security Council pretends its resolutions mean something. Kofi Annan pretends the Oil-for-Fraud program is a humanitarian aid effort for the Iraqi people. The International Atomic Energy Authority pretends the mullahs in Tehran are good-faith negotiators on the matter of Iranian nukes.

While the Palestinian and UN figureheads have changed place-card settings, that last paragraph sounds remarkably timely right now, as does the reminder that a man who isn’t trying to embrace every current pop culture trend is indeed “the sign of a man secure in his sense of himself,” as Steyn wrote almost a decade ago.

Early last month, Peggy Noonan perceptively wrote that Mr. Obama’s administration is staffed with people “who’ve seen the movie but not read the book,” a phrase that takes on additional nuances, given the couch-potato like viewing habits of their boss. And even beyond Mr. Obama’s obvious pop cultural insecurities, there’s an even greater question, as Portney asks, at the conclusion of his column. The president’s television habits, “or at least the number of series, most with running times of one hour, that he professes to watch — do raise a question: When does he find time to play golf?”

Hey, the left didn’t dub the man the “Lightworker” back in 2008 for nothing.

Reality…What a Concept

December 16th, 2013 - 7:32 pm

By now, we’ve all read the New York Times article that first made the rounds on Friday featuring multiple cri de coeurs from wealthy limousine leftists who are shocked to be losing their health insurance. Here’s the ending:

It is an uncomfortable position for many members of the creative classes to be in.

“We are the Obama people,” said Camille Sweeney, a New York writer and member of the Authors Guild. Her insurance is being canceled, and she is dismayed that neither her pediatrician nor her general practitioner appears to be on the exchange plans. What to do has become a hot topic on Facebook and at dinner parties frequented by her fellow writers and artists.

“I’m for it,” she said. “But what is the reality of it?”

At the Corner, Yuval Levin makes a great observation about that classic facepalm-inducing last paragraph: “Answer first, question second. This would be funny if it weren’t so sad and serious.”

Responding to another member of the Manhattan “Obama people” quoted by the Times who’s shocked — unexpectedly! — by the loss of her insurance, Richard Fernandez adds, “If I Can Fake It There, I’ll Fake It Anywhere:”

When Obama announced he was inviting people who could not or would not pay for healthcare to the feast, that necessarily meant the bill would have to be stretched over those with money in their pockets.  And the NYC elite made the cardinal mistake of having some jake in the first place. The fact that they were successful doomed them. It meant that their fund — and all other well-managed enterprises — would have to be raided to subsidize the failures.

This is called a transfer payment. This is called redistribution. You may want or not want it, but you cannot pretend that redistribution does not redistribute.

If Ms. Meinwald wanted to avoid getting slugged, her group should have imitated Detroit. When you’re bust, you’re off the hook. No stash, no tab. Or, as classic Marxian theory puts it, from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.  Of course the modern Democratic Party has rewritten the slogan slightly to “from each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed,” but that’s a mere detail; that’s progress for you.

What Meinwald may get is intangible. She’ll get first-class illusion. Illusion, Nathan Glazer once wrote, is sometimes a damned fine thing. Responding to Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s argument that humans are unequal in The Bell Curve, the Harvard sociologist argued in the New Republic that “some truths may not be worth knowing. Our society, our polity, our elites, according to Herrnstein and Murray, live with an untruth. I ask myself whether this untruth is not better for American society than the truth.”

So much for “the reality-based community.”

At the Federalist today, Mollie Hemingway also riffs on the wistful last words quoted by the Times in the title of her new article:

Maybe our fellow Americans disagree with every aspect of a piece of legislation, maybe they just disagree with a few particulars. But responsible adults must always ask about the consequences of legislative action. This may seem radical in an era of “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” but it’s really just a smart way for us all to come together to discuss reality before it’s too late.

So much of the increase in the size and scope of government happens because of Affordable Care Act approaches. As Rich Lowry put it, this involves “hiding and never acknowledging the costs of a given policy; giving legislation a warm and fuzzy name on the assumption that its results will live up to that label; and moralistic attacks on people who resist as fools and ogres.” Politicians and pundits are particularly good at refusing to acknowledge the tremendous downsides, unintended consequences and painful trade-offs of major government action.

But if Americans who are “for it” could work a bit more with the Americans who are asking “what is the reality of it?” we might be able to avoid some of the major mistakes we’ve made in recent years.

Given that a major component of leftism is the belief in your own superiority through demonization of your neighbors as heretics and non-believers,  it will take a major amount of rethinking and reformulating of the leftist belief system for the “If Obama wants it, I’m for it” gang and the “What is the reality of it?” crowd to begin speaking with each other again.

Don’t look to old media — which did everything it could to both amplify Mr. Obama’s message and to demonize everyone who dissented from it from 2007 through October of this year to begin bridging the gap anytime soon.

QED: “Christmas In The Tank: [NBC-Universal employee] Steve Harvey Says There Are Relentless Obama Critics, and ‘Those Of Us Who Get It,’” as spotted by Tim Graham of Newsbusters.

While I’m a confirmed Oba-skeptic, I know how comforting it must be to have that degree of religious faith in a higher power.

“Guys Prank Friend Into Thinking He’s Been In A Coma For 10 Years,” claims the Huffington Post:

Thought the government’s ‘don’t drink and drive’ campaigns have been hard-hitting over the years? Try this video.

Tom Mabe’s friend here had already been arrested five times for drink driving. So after passing out once more after a drinking session, his family decided to let Mabe and others teach him a lesson.

They put him in an office mocked up as hospital room – and when he woke up, told him he’d been in a coma for 10 years.

The prank included fake medical staff and even fake TV news reports – and if it wasn’t making a serious point it would, of course, just be downright cruel. Check out how it played out above. And remember: don’t drink and drive, kids. Hopefully this video will be enough to persuade you of that…

I’m getting a major “this video is faked” vibe from the clip, but either way, its makers knowingly or unknowingly imitated the exact plot of a 1968 Mission: Impossible episode:

The plan is to convince Barrett that he has a terminal illness, and at the same time have him happen to discover that a local doctor (Jim) is working on a cryogenic process to freeze people until cures can be found for their diseases (yup, that concept was already around by 1968).  Dr. Jim pretends to be reluctant because it’s illegal to freeze him while he’s still alive (he can’t wait because his imaginary disease is progressive and would be incurable if he waited), but Barrett is allowed to find out that Dr. Jim”s being “blackmailed” by Willy because he illegally froze his terminally ill wife (good grief, he’s Mr. Freeze!), so that gives Barrett leverage to force him to do the procedure.  It’s one of those episodes where the team goes to great lengths to appear to be discouraging the mark from doing what they want him to do, on the assumption that he’d get suspicious if they pushed him toward it too obviously.  But this guy’s no great brain, and he’s not at all suspicious about being told he has a terminal illness just after he encounters the cryonics doctor.  They didn’t have to go to so much trouble to avoid tipping him off.  (And I’m positive I’ve seen the cryogenic chamber in some other show, though I’m not sure if it was in Star Trek.)

Anyway, Barrett wakes up to find himself in the fabulous future world of… 1980!  There are futuristic concept cars in the parking lot, and his hospital room is dominated by what looks uncannily like a modern flatscreen TV.  There’s a bank of small cartridges that contain video recordings that play on the screen.  It’s kind of striking how prophetic it is.  But then Rollin and Cinnamon come in wearing clear plastic raincoats over their hospital scrubs, and suddenly prophetic gives way to B-movie hokey.  But the sequence redeemed itself when Rollin told Nurse Cinnamon to administer “5 ccs of cordrazine.”  Rollin’s a Trekkie!

These things always run much more smoothly when you’ve got Jim Phelps, Rollin Hand and Barney Collier on your team — but if you have to go to nearly as much trouble to convince someone not to drink and drive, it may be too late to save him already.


.
(Via the London Daily Mail, which also appears to assume the clip is real.)

Update: Too bad the London Daily Mail and the Huffington Post didn’t bother to look up who Tom Mabe was before going with that story, a reader emails.

The Escape Into Fantasyland

December 5th, 2013 - 11:20 am

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“Snap: House Dem uses New Yorker satire blog as news source to hit Obamacare critics,” Paul Bedard of the Washington Examiner reports today. (H/T: JWF):

There was an awkward moment at today’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Obamacare when a New York Democrat rapped GOP critics with quotes from a satirical New Yorker feature, The Borowitz Report.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, while calling it her own “distinguished comedic think tank,” quoted from several stories in the Borowitz satire blog as if they were accurate, most notably one in which author Andy Borowitz joked that Republicans are complaining that the problem-plagued Obamacare website is working too fast.

It’s tempting to allow your mind to drift into fantasy when all appears to be lost. In the past, beleaguered members of the far left have retreated deep into the bunker, and dreamed of the collapsing empire whose fate was doomed through mismanagement and extreme overreach, and how — even as the walls are caving in — it could still, somehow, be rebuilt again.

A scene from Downfall? No actually, I was thinking of when Stephen Colbert dropped by the Democrat-led (specifically, Nancy Pelosi-led) 111th Congress in late September of 2010, despite — or maybe because of — their knowledge that virtually all polls indicated that the deluge was on its way in November. As John Podhoretz wrote at the time:

This may have been the single biggest pointless blunder in American political history, and I am not kidding. With an election only five weeks from now in which Democrats are poised for major losses, this morning’s depiction of Congress as ludicrous dupes of a TV personality — which will be replayed for weeks — will make the analogistic point that the majority is unfit to be running things. How exactly will they argue otherwise?

Did Colbert himself understand the damage he was going to do to the political and ideological forces he clearly supports by mocking the political process they control in this way? Is he, secretly, more O’Reilly than O’Reilly? Whatever is the case, the disaster was predictable and could have been avoided. I know, because I predicted it. What I didn’t predict is that the House leadership and the Democratic leadership generally are in such a state of degeneration that they didn’t know, or didn’t try, to intervene before this political Jonestown.

UPDATE: Oh my Lord. Speaker of the House Margaret Dumont Nancy Pelosi has defended Colbert’s appearance: “He’s an American. He has a point of view.”

And Andy Borowitz has a point of view as well. Like Colbert’s, it’s not based on reality, but you can’t have everything in the Obama era, especially when you’re toiling on his behalf.

(Which isn’t to say that the GOP isn’t debating its own retreat into fantasyland as well…)