Get PJ Media on your Apple

Ed Driscoll

Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal

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:

That’s what Glenn Reynolds argues, linking to Megan McArdle’s article at Bloomberg News on Obama’s trolling State of the Union address. “This is a win-win: He gets the blame, or he vetoes it,” Glenn writes.

The problem though is that Obama might not get the blame.

As with Democrats talking George H.W. Bush into raising taxes in 1990, one huge danger to this sort of game is that Democrats will play along in 2015 and then run ads like the above the following year directed towards the individual GOP senators and congressmen who raised taxes:

They would also receive a very painful, albeit well-deserved reminder from one of Senator Blutarsky’s colleagues.

“Anyone reading this knows where he was on September 11, 2001. A diminishing number remember where they were on January 30, 1965—the day we said farewell to Winston Churchill. (He died fifty years ago, January 24, 1965.),” Richard Langworth writes at the Weekly Standard:

For me it was a life-changing experience. Suddenly, unforgettably, on my flickering, black and white TV screen in New York City, the huge void of Westminster Abbey filled with The Battle Hymn of the Republic. He was, we were reminded, half-American, an honorary citizen by Act of Congress.

That day was the start of my 50-year career in search of Churchill—of what his greatest biographer, Sir Martin Gilbert, calls, “labouring in the vineyard.”

After the funeral I picked up The Gathering Storm, the first volume of his World War II memoirs. I was snared by what Robert Pilpel called his “roast beef and pewter phrases.” It’s biased, as he admitted—“This is not history; this is my case.” But it is so ordered as to put you at his side for the “great climacterics” that made us what we are today.

Churchill’s life spanned sixty years of prominence, unmatched in recent history. Of course, he insisted, “nothing surpasses 1940.” That was the year Britain and the Commonwealth—“the old lion with her lion cubs,” as he put it, “stood alone against hunters who are armed with deadly weapons” until “those who hitherto had been half blind were half ready.”

But I soon learned there was more to Churchill than 1940. Martin Gilbert wrote: “As I open file after file of Churchill’s archive, from his entry into Government in 1905 to his retirement in 1955, I am continually surprised by the truth of his assertions, the modernity of his thought, the originality of his mind, the constructiveness of his proposals, his humanity, and, most remarkable of all, his foresight.”

Sadly, England as a whole lacked Churchill’s foresight; at MercatorNet, Alun Wyburn-Powell explains “How Winston Churchill lost the 1945 election:”

Among the excuses the Conservatives offered after their defeat was that the Army Bureau of Current Affairs had indoctrinated service personnel to vote Labour. This excuse was at least plausible in principle, but it was pretty flimsy stuff.

There were some more obvious reasons for Churchill’s humiliation. Ultimately, the Conservatives had simply lost the electoral “ground war”.

In contrast to the other parties, the Conservatives had stuck rigidly to the spirit and the letter of the wartime electoral truce, only holding one party conference during the war and putting little effort into policy development and constituency organisation. The result was that the party machine was in a terrible state, with a greatly depleted band of agents and volunteers.

The party was also still carrying the blame for the appeasement of Hitler in the 1930s, for which it had been excoriated by the 1940 book Guilty Men.

Public memory was also against the Tories for another reason: the travails of David Lloyd George, who died in 1945. While still credited as the man who won World War I, Lloyd George’s record as prime minister after the war was dismal, marked by broken promises, unemployment, industrial unrest and threats to start another war. His dire tenure created a popular consensus was that good war leaders do not necessarily make good peacetime leaders.

Meanwhile, British society had changed during the war. Voters had become less class-bound; the evacuation of urban children to rural areas, service of all classes in the armed forces, and civilians sharing bomb shelters with strangers, had facilitated social mixing on an entirely new scale.

That in turn helped create a whole new political atmosphere. After World War I, many people had wanted a return to life as it had been – but after World War II, most people wanted a complete break with the past. In that climate, Labour’s forward-looking election slogan, “Let us face the future”, was far more appealing the Conservatives’ plea to let Churchill “Finish the job”.

Everyone should watch the 26-part World at War series released in 1973 by Thames Television, available on DVD from Amazon, and pretty easily found in streaming format on the Web. As I’ve written before, it was produced at exactly the right moment — when television was technically sophisticated enough to undertake a project of this scope, and while many of the major players were still alive and many still relatively young, and while Laurence Olivier was alive to narrate the series with the gravitas it deserved.

But perhaps most importantly, before the excoriating impact of political correctness would begin to tarnish how we view World War II, which unless we really have reached what Robert Tracinski of the Federalist calls “Peak Leftism,” will likely only get worse in coming decades. Political correctness is a disease that advanced slowly before fully metastasizing; but its roots were already present among 1930s British leftwing elites, who vowed would “in no circumstances fight for king and country,” and feared Churchill more than they feared Hitler (plus ça change). And as the 15th-episode of the World at War, titled “Home Fires” notes, even as England was on the verge of defeating National Socialism in Germany, it was about to institute an ever-increasing peacetime amount of nationalization and socialism at home:

That’s an excerpt from that episode; watch the whole thing here.

As to how Labour would radically reshape the people who inhabited postwar Britian, Peter Hitchens, the Tory-leaning brother of the late leftist Christopher Hitchens, does a remarkable job of highlighting the transformation of his country in his 2000 book, the The Abolition of Britain: From Winston Churchill to Princess Diana. (Please, somebody release this book in Kindle format). As the book’s title suggests, Hitchens begins by comparing the British people who turned out with stiff upper lips for the 1965 funeral of the Man Who Won World War II, and 30 years later, ululated en masse over the demise of Princess Diana, who was largely famous for being famous and for being a wannabe pop star and fashion icon. In other words, for purely aesthetic reasons.

“Wouldn’t it be simpler,” socialist playwrite Bertolt Brecht famously wrote, if the government dissolved the people and elected another?”

It took a few decades, with a timeout of sorts during the Thatcher years, but mission accomplished in postwar, post-Churchill England.

Speaking of political correctness, the transformation of a people, and Margaret Thatcher, Mr. Obama couldn’t be bothered to attend her funeral in 2013. Presumably, he wouldn’t have made time for Churchill’s either, right?

Update: At Power Line, Steve Hayward is more optimistic about the West’s future than I am, dubbing Churchill “Not the Last Lion:”

Manchester wrote in 1983 (in National Review, surprisingly enough) that “If there is a high office in the United States to which Winston Churchill could be elected today, it is unknown to me.”

The irony is that pre-war Churchill thought very much the same thing: see his remarkable essay from around 1930 entitled “Mass Effects in Modern Life,” which is in the must-have collection, Thoughts and Adventures. “Modern conditions do not lend themselves to the production of the heroic or superdominant type,” he wrote.  This was, Harry Jaffa pointed out in a splendid essay entitled “Can There Be Another Churchill?,” an instance of Churchill being wrong:

In 1939, Winston Churchill did not think so. But, as so often in his life, he was mistaken. Let us take comfort in that.

And in response to my post, Kathy Shaidle proffers excellent advice:

“In-Flight Catalog SkyMall Files for Bankruptcy,” the Wall Street Journal reports:

“With the increased use of electronic devices on planes, fewer people browsed the SkyMall in-flight catalog,” Mr. Wiley said.

The increase in the number of airlines providing Internet access “resulted in additional competition from e-commerce retailers and additional competition for the attention of passengers, all of which further negatively impacted SkyMall’s catalog sales,” he added.

The SkyMall business had revenue of about $33.7 million in 2013, but only $15.8 million for the nine months ended September 28, 2014.

SkyMall filed to preserve their assets by seeking “to achieve a sale of their assets and complete an orderly wind-down of their affairs,” said Mr. Wiley.

Is nothing sacred? 2015 is certainly starting off on a consolidating note as first Radio Shack, and now SkyMall as the mighty buzzsaw of Amazon continues to devour the rest of the retail world. I’m not sure if I can face living in a world without SkyMall, but how will Barney Stinson survive?

And where will the rest of us get our backyard-enhancing products made from “quality designer resin,” eh?

 

“NY Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver accused of $4 million bribery and kickback scheme, Dems continue to support him.” Kudos to the New York Daily News for not playing the “name that party” game with Silver; it’s tacitly right in the headline and explicitly stated six paragraphs in, which for a left-leaning publication is likely as good as transparency gets when a newspaper is reporting bad news concerning one of its own party members:

“I am confident that after a full hearing and due process, I will be vindicated of these charges,” a relaxed Silver announced after his release on $200,000 bond following a Manhattan Federal Court hearing.

Silver, spied earlier taking an uncomfortable ride to the courthouse alongside an FBI agent, made his brief appearance after U.S. Attorney Preet Bhahara blasted him as the epitome of a corrupt politician.

“For many years, New Yorkers have asked the question, ‘How could Speaker Silver, one of the most powerful men in New York, earn millions of dollars in outside income without deeply compromising his ability to honestly serve his constituents?’” said Bharara.

“Today we provide the answer: He didn’t.”

The stunning five-count criminal complaint accused the Manhattan Democrat, an Albany power broker for decades, with pocketing millions in bribes and kickbacks in return for wielding his massive influence.

Much more from Michael Walsh at the PJ Tatler:

New York state is essentially an organized crime racket, one that for many years was stable in its distribution of the swag. The upstate-controlled Senate was in the hands of the GOP under Joe Bruno, while the assembly lay under the thumb of the weaselly Silver. But somebody broke the peace back in 2008, when Bruno abruptly resigned his leadership positions and announced he wouldn’t be running again; in January 2009 he was indicted on eight corruption counts, and later convicted of two of them. The convictions were overturned on appeal and Bruno was subsequently found not guilty at a retrial last year. He’s been itching for payback ever since. This is it.

Exit quotes from John Podhoretz (channeling Hyman Roth) and Iowahawk (channeling the performer Time magazine once dubbed “The smartest man in pop music”):


Speaking of which, exit question via Michael Walsh: “Is Andrew Cuomo Next?”

Tweets of the Day

January 20th, 2015 - 8:03 pm

Writing in the Atlantic, David Frum may be on to something here, a sentence that I don’t believe I’ve uttered in the last six or so years. As Frum writes, “Neither Reagan nor Clinton tried to hem in their party’s likely next nominees in the way that President Obama is hemming in Hillary Clinton. Why the difference?”

Obama strongly opposed George W. Bush, but when he was defining himself as a national figure, it was Bill Clinton against whom he defined himself. Clinton politics were petty and personal. “In the back and forth between Clinton and Gingrich,” he wrote, in The Audacity of Hope, “and in the elections of 2000 and 2004, I sometimes felt as if I were watching the psychodrama of the baby boom generation—a tale rooted in old grudges and revenge plots hatched on a handful of college campuses long ago—played out on the national stage.”

In 1995 Bill Clinton announced to both houses of Congress that the era of big government had ended. In 2009, Obama, speaking from the same rostrum, warned that “the danger of too much government is matched by the perils of too little.” At some deep level, Obama’s entire project has been a reply, not to Republican conservatism but to Democratic neoliberalism. Now, as his presidency nears its close, the wife, heir, and namesake of the leader of the neoliberals has emerged as the overwhelming favorite to lead the Democratic Party in 2016.

Almost as much as a Republican victory, a Clinton succession would punctuate the Obama presidency with a question mark. Obama’s highest priority over the next two years seems to be to convert that question mark into an exclamation point, to force Hillary Clinton to campaign and govern on his terms. Whatever happens after that, he can at least say that it was his kind of Democratic Party—not Bill Clinton’s—that won a third consecutive mandate, after having twice done what Clinton never did: win an outright majority of the presidential ballots cast.

Of course, Hillary Clinton can see all this, too. So can Bill Clinton, perhaps even more acutely. The next fascinating question is: what will they do about it?

Read the whole thing. And between all of the material produced by Obama and his operatives in the MSM to attack Hillary in 2007 and 2008, and Obama’s apparently still ice-cold relationship with the Clintons, whatever happens in November of 2016, it will be fun to watch Hillary traverse the many landmines in her path to the White House.

As for tonight, Steve Green, our friendly neighborhood Vodkapundit, is scheduled to drunkblog Obama State of the Union speech in less than an hour on the PJM homepage. I hope he and his liver are up to the daunting task ahead:

Update: Allahpundit wonders if Mr. Obama, our “Semi-retired troll ready to bring his troll A-game” will also be trolling Elizabeth Warren as well tonight.

Roles of a Lifetime

January 13th, 2015 - 9:38 pm

Neo-Neocon quotes from Obama’s speech at the 2004 Democrat convention, his first appearance on the national stage, and one in which he would return triumphantly four years later, backed by styrofoam columns almost as phony as the man in front of them. In 2004 though, his rhetoric sure sounded good, but as Neo writes:

I didn’t listen to Obama’s 2004 speech, or much of either convention that year; I’m not a big fan of speeches in general. But reading it now I could almost weep, because it is so deceptive, so unlike the Barack Obama we’ve come to know so well. If the guy portrayed in that speech had won an election, the result probably wouldn’t have been half bad. But that guy never existed; he was an actor reading his lines. 2004 was his first performance on the national stage, and he ought to have won an Oscar for it.

Reading Neo’s post, I was reminded of the other actor armed with stirring rhetoric at the other national political convention that summer, in which Arnold Schwarzenegger claimed that in 1968 he was listening to Hubert Humphrey’s Great Society-style proposals shortly after arriving in the US:

Everything about America seemed so big to me, so open, so possible.I finally arrived here in 1968. What a special day it was. I remember I arrived here with empty pockets but full of dreams, full of determination, full of desire.

The presidential campaign was in full swing. I remember watching the Nixon-Humphrey presidential race on TV. A friend of mine who spoke German and English translated for me. I heard Humphrey saying things that sounded like socialism, which I had just left.

SCHWARZENEGGER: But then I heard Nixon speak. Then I heard Nixon speak. He was talking about free enterprise, getting the government off your back, lowering the taxes and strengthening the military.

(APPLAUSE)

Listening to Nixon speak sounded more like a breath of fresh air.

I said to my friend, I said, “What party is he?”

My friend said, “He’s a Republican.”

I said, “Then I am a Republican.”

Well, it sounded good at the time. But in the coming months, faced with the opportunity of being Scott Walker before Scott Walker and reforming Sacramento’s union-dominated out of control spending and regulation, Arnold quickly revealed himself to be a political girlie man, and a pampered actor who’d rather have the perks of office than fighting for lasting accomplishments:

And then there was the man who was the focus of both conventions, the stiff and effete John Kerry, now Obama’s Orwellian sidekick posing as Secretary of State.

Just as a reminder though, as Mark Steyn wrote in early 2008, there was another politician who actually was a straight shooter in 2004:

Two months into the new regime, no less an authority than Anthony Lewis of the New York Times assured us that “George W. Bush and his people are driven by right-wing ideology to an extent not remotely touched by even the Reagan Administration.” In those heady days of spring 2001, it was easy to take Señor Compasión at the Left’s estimation of him. Do you remember some of the “controversies” around back then? Arsenic in the water supply? I didn’t even know I was in favor of that until Bush started doing it.

But it turned out the compassionate conservative did mean it — on immigration, education, and much else. And, whatever we feel about those policies, we cannot say that we were betrayed — for few candidates have ever been so admirably upfront. Indeed, it is a peculiar injustice that the 43rd presidency’s most obvious contender for a Bartlett’s entry should be “Bush lied, people died.” The activists who most assiduously promoted the line are now having to adjust to the news that their own beloved “anti-war” candidate’s commitment to bring home every last soldier within 16 months has been “revised” into a plan for some 30,000–70,000 troops to remain in Iraq after 2011. On Fox News the other night, I found myself talking to a nice lady from Code Pink who was trying to grapple with the fact that Henry Kissinger and Karl Rove are more enthusiastic about Obama’s national-security team than she is. Many other Obama policies now turn out to be inoperative, and we haven’t even had the coronation. I don’t know about my Code Pink friend, but I already miss Bush’s straightforwardness. He spoke a language all but extinct in the upper echelons of electoral politics. “Bush lied”? Here he is in Crawford, early in 2002, being interviewed by Trevor McDonald of Britain’s ITN:

“I made up my mind that Saddam needs to go,” said Bush.

“And, of course, if the logic of the War on Terror means anything,” Sir Trevor responded, relentlessly forensic in his determination not to let Bush get away with these shifty evasions, “then Saddam must go?”

“That’s what I just said,” said the president. “The policy of my government is that he goes.”

“So you’re going to go after him?” pressed Sir Trevor, reluctant to take yes for an answer.

“As I told you,” said the president, “the policy of my government is that Saddam Hussein not be in power.”

Etc. George W. Bush is who he is, and he never pretended to be anything but. Do you know how rare that is? If you don’t, you surely will after six months of Barack Obama’s enigmatic cool.

Will the American voters prefer a return to more honest president in 2016 after their eight year tour of Obama’s postmodern Fantasyland is concluded? We’ll find out soon enough.

Will it be titled “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee and Hitting on High School Girls?”

OK, sorry about that. But presumably, Jeff Bezos was prepared for plenty of bad jokes about the Woodman’s rather complex reputation these days. “Amazon Makes a Risky Bet on Woody Allen’s Tarnished Prestige,” David Sims writes at the Atlantic (a Website that’s no stranger to hiring names with tarnished prestige themselves):

Will the viewer boost outweigh whatever hit Amazon’s prestige might take? It’s hard to say. Thinkpieces will undoubtedly flood the Internet, but despite the chilling nature of Dylan Farrow’s public letter, when actors who worked with Allen were asked about it, they mostly referred to the matter as a complicated family issue too sensitive to wade into, and the furor eventually died down. Other networks have worked with unappealing creative personnel without really harming their brand—FX gave accused serial domestic abuser Charlie Sheen 100 episodes of Anger Management in 2012, but remains best-known for highly praised original programming like Louie, The Americans and Justified.

The even bigger question is whether Allen will produce anything remotely watchable. He won an Oscar just three years ago for writing the breezy Midnight in Paris, and within the past decade Blue Jasmine and Vicky Christina Barcelona have both won high praise for their performers. But Allen’s output has been undoubtedly scattershot since the mid-‘90s, with a series of duds usually surrounding every mild-to-moderate hit.

While I understand that the man needs to keep his cashflow up to live in New York (see also: subplot of Manhattan, a film whose gorgeous cinematography helped to make its creepy themes go down that much smoother with unassuming late-’70s audiences), as Sims writes, I’m not at all sure how Amazon benefits from this deal, other than, as United Artists and Orion bet in the ’70s and ’80s, Amazon hopes that Allen’s name will bring in younger, hotter directors looking to establish themselves.

A warning to Amazon: partially thanks to Allen’s increasing number of box office busts starting in his post-Annie Hall period, UA and Orion ultimately each lost that bet. And note that Allen is once again employing his self-deprecating shtick to discuss this new project:

Amazon Studios vice president Roy Price spoke of the decision in a statement, saying, “Woody Allen is a visionary creator who has made some of the greatest films of all-time, and it’s an honor to be working with him on his first television series.” He finished: “From Annie Hall to Blue Jasmine, Woody has been at the creative forefront of American cinema and we couldn’t be more excited to premiere his first TV series exclusively on Prime Instant Video next year.”

Allen also spoke of the opportunity, adding: “I don’t know how I got into this. I have no ideas and I’m not sure where to begin. My guess is that Roy Price will regret this.”

That routine was charming when Allen was at the apex of career as a comedic cinema auteur with Annie Hall and Manhattan. These days, Amazon might want to take him at his word.

In the meantime though, might want to buy plenty of shares of whichever company produces the Windsor type font. Just to be able to short it in a few months.

Given the Allahpundit-esque headline this post started with, we might as go out with another of his trademarks. Exit quote:

More Good News from the Times

January 6th, 2015 - 6:02 pm

The Times, which over the years has railed against air conditioning, refrigeration, toilet paper, consumerism, brunch, the automobile, and the entire Midwest should be pretty thrilled about an increasing amount of American acreage returning to their feral state, right?

Besides, less malls means more room for golf courses, right?

Update: Forget malls. “Why do liberals hate highways?”

It’s a safe bet that the further to the left a city or state is, the more it punishes motorists. (See also: Manhattan, Seattle, California, etc.)

Where’s the Progressive End Zone?

January 5th, 2015 - 3:13 pm

“Some years ago, after his governorship of NY, [the late Mario] Cuomo had a short-lived national radio talk show,” Maggie’s Farm reminiscences:

I phoned in once, on a whim. He was gracious, warm, and pleasant, and I was pleasant to him. I asked him what was on liberalism’s agenda. He said government needs to provide and run medical care in the US. I said “OK, what after that?” He hesitated. I said “How about government car insurance?” He said “That’s definitely something to look into.”

Then I got to my point: I asked him “At what point is the progressive agenda complete – where does it end?”  He hesitated again, then said (approx) “Government needs to assure that all Americans get what they need.” I cheerfully responded “That’s what I thought.” It went on for a brief while.

So Cuomo was basically LBJ minus the ten-gallon hat?

In a 1964 campaign rally in Providence, RI, Lyndon Johnson, standing on the hood of a car and armed with a bullhorn, summed up the Great Society for the assembled masses: “I just want to tell you this — we’re in favor of a lot of things and we’re against mighty few.”

40 years later, in the Wall Street Journal, later reprinted by the Claremont Institute, William Voegeli attempted to narrow things down a bit, and ask the same question that Cuomo was asked on his mercifully brief radio show: what’s the end game? How much control, how much regulation is enough? This of course was back in 2004, when the federal government under then-President Bush was merely gigantic, not yet leviathan:

The Democrats’ problem is not that they, like “Seinfeld,” are a show about nothing. It’s that they are a show about everything, or anything. (At one point, the Kerry-for-president Web site referred to 79 separate federal programs he wanted to create or expand.)

Ruy Teixeira says that after 2004, “the bigger question is: What do the Democrats stand for?” Here’s a better and bigger question still: What do the Democrats stand against? Tell us, if indeed it’s true, that Democrats don’t want to do for America what social democrats have done for France or Sweden. Tell us that the stacking of one government program on top of the other is going to stop, if indeed it will, well short of a public sector that absorbs half the nation’s income and extensively regulates what we do with the other half. Explain how the spirit of live-and-let-live applies, if indeed it does, to everyone equally–to people who take family, piety and patriotism seriously, not merely to people whose lives and outlooks are predicated on regarding them ironically.

Until those questions are answered, until Americans have confidence about the limits liberalism will establish and observe, it’s hard to see when the Democratic narrative will again have a happy ending.

In the time, as America continues with the aftermath of reaching what was (hopefully!) Peak Left in 2009, “unexpected” repercussions keep occurring, even to the elite leftists who forced these disasters onto the rest of us:

“Seriously: to quote Oscar Wilde’s famous witticism, you would need to have a heart of stone not to laugh at the way Harvard professors are reacting to the news that they now have deductables and out-of-pocket limits and co-pays and all the rest of it.” Plus this is fun:

A smart “Progressive” so baffled by the other side of the aisle. So very, very baffled. To borrow from one of the left’s most oft-repeated phrases they employ to avoid even a hint of doubleplusungood crimethink, “I can’t understand” why that keeps happening so…“unexpectedly.”

Update: James Taranto on Cuomo’s passing and his boosters among the far left “Village People.”

“Someone Gave the World a Brutal Look at Comcast’s Inner Workings — but Their Identity Is Still in Question,” Zach Noble of The Blaze reports:

Comcast doesn’t exactly have the best reputation when it comes to customer service, so when a man claiming to be a Comcast customer account executive went on Reddit Saturday to tell all about the company, loads of people eagerly participated in the back-and-forth.

The executive spilled plenty of juicy tidbits…but was he who he said he was?

Noble writes that “The executive proved his identity by posting a picture of his Comcast company T-shirts…and sending a picture of his company ID to a Reddit moderator:”

So, commenters quickly began asking, is Comcast as bad as people say?

The man said bad practices pervade the company, writing, “It’s not just the higher ups it’s the whole way we operate from s***ty schedules to overnight shifts, no transportation for employees, the health conditions of the office we work at.”

He had plenty of personal gripes, complaining that Comcast bosses “make your life miserable until you are basically forced to quit” and saying that he’d stopped caring about the job and would probably be fired soon.

“How does it feel to talk to people who resent you and your company every day?” a commenter asked, to which the man responded, “I stopped caring about 2 weeks into the job.”

Gee, if this guy actually does work for Comcast, the work conditions he’s describing don’t sound at all like the ideal happy fun time “socially-responsible” corporation and “Progressive” labor relations championed by its spokespeople on one of its subsidiary cable TV channels. And so far, it’s an extremely under-reported topic on that channel’s Website. So c’mon Al, Andrea, Rachel, Lawrence, Melissa and company — isn’t it time to flood the zone on this story, as former former Times editor Howell Raines would order his troops?

(Of course, MSNBC will jump on this story as soon as they convince Comcast and parent network NBC to drop NASCAR coverage due to “global warming.”)

“Drop in New York Police Arrests Continues for a Second Week,” the Gray Lady reports:

For a second straight week, New York City police officers sharply cut back on their actions in the street, arresting less than half as many people and writing more than 90 percent fewer summonses than in the same period a year ago.

The slowdown built on a drastic drop in activity that began shortly after the murder of two uniformed patrol officers in Brooklyn on Dec. 20, and continued across all 77 precincts in the city.

For the seven days ending Sunday, officers made 2,401 arrests citywide, compared with 5,448 in the same week a year ago, a 56 percent decline. For criminal infractions, most precincts’ tallies for the week were close to zero. Citywide, there were 347 criminal summonses written, compared with 4,077 in the same week a year ago, according to Police Department statistics. Parking and traffic tickets also dropped more than 90 percent, the statistics showed.

Of course, this is the paper that made Fox Butterfield a semi-household name for his infamously clueless headlines, as Boston radio host Michael Graham noted a decade ago:

“The Butterfield Effect” is named in honor of ace New York Times crime reporter Fox Butterfield, the intrepid analyst responsible for such brilliantly headlined stories as “More Inmates, Despite Drop In Crime,” and “Number in Prison Grows Despite Crime Reduction,” not to mention the poetic 1997 header, “Crime Keeps on Falling, but Prisons Keep on Filling.”

Mr. Butterfield is truly perplexed at what he calls the “paradox” of more criminals in prison coinciding with less crime in neighborhoods. An observation that might appear obvious to an 8th grader (crooks + jail = fewer crimes) is simply beyond his grasp. Butterfield of the Times is the poster boy for the greatest conundrum facing the American Left today: How do you explain to people who just don’t get it that the problem is they just don’t get it?

So I’m not sure if the Times — at least Pinch, MoDo, David Carr and their effete left-wing editorial board — considers this latest story to be good news or bad. The rest of New York may find out sooner rather than later though, as the Bad Old Days return to Manhattan much quicker than even us cynics on the right who had seen it all before anticipated in the fall 2013 once de Blasio was elected.

Update:

Insert Mencken “good and hard” quote here.

Shake ‘em On Down

January 4th, 2015 - 10:02 pm

“Sharpton’s #1 Rule: No Palm Greasing — No Peace,” Jeff Dunetz writes at his Yid With Lid blog:

Its not just corporations; politicians bow to the throne of Sharpton the hater. On October 1, Sharpton held a 60th birthday celebration at Manhattan’s Four Seasons restaurant.  All the big shots of New York Democratic Party politics were in attendance, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Rep. Charles Rangel and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (there are unconfirmed reports that Chuck Schumer was there also. “Sharpton raised $1 million for NAN at his 60th birthday bash in October, with donations rolling in from unions and a corporate roster of contributors including AT&T, McDonald’s, Verizon and Walmart.”

Back in 2011 there were reports that Sharpton got his Job at MSNBC for helping push through the Comcast/MSNBC merger.  The Daily Caller reported:

It’s gone remarkably unnoticed that Sharpton was the first major black leader to endorse the Comcast merger, which met fierce resistance. Michael Copps, a Democrat who’d served on the FCC since 2001, declared, when he ultimately voted against it, that the merger “erodes diversity, localism and competition” and was “a huge boost for media industry (and digital industry) consolidation” as well as “a stake in the heart of independent content production,” charges that were echoed in a New York Times editorial. But Mignon Clyburn, the daughter of South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn and the only minority member on the FCC, threw her decisive support behind the deal, citing a comprehensive diversity memorandum of agreement (MOU) signed by Sharpton as a mechanism that “will serve to keep the new entity honest in promoting diversity.”

But Sharpton got more than a job:

A Comcast spokesperson told The Daily Beast that Comcast has given $140,000 to Sharpton’s National Action Network since 2009—the same year the merger was first proposed. Though MSNBC president Phil Griffin was honored with a top prize at the April 2011 annual conference of NAN—and he, Chris Mathews, and other NBC notables had a table at NAN’s dinner—NBC would not answer questions about how much it’s given Sharpton.

Read the whole thing. As Jeff Jacoby writes in the Boston Globe, “Racial tensions obviously haven’t vanished entirely from American life, but for all intents and purposes, racism as a political factor has. As the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act approaches, Jim Crow is dead in its grave, while black electoral vitality in America is alive and well.” But if the left were to acknowledge those facts, Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, Rev. Wright and their ilk would be seen as antediluvian charlatans, hence the elaborate performance art of all concerned.

Related, sadly enough: “Selma still works because filmmaker Ava DuVernay was able to construct phrases that conveyed King’s oratory without using his actual words. King, Inc., is controlled by King’s surviving children and holds the copyright to King’s speeches. It has so aggressively enforced its legal rights as to make it almost impossible to use those speeches without paying a hefty fee.”

‘Unexpectedly!’, Fox Butterfield Exclaimed

January 3rd, 2015 - 10:59 am

“Gasoline-Tax Increase Finds Little Support,” a dejected New York Times reports. Go figure:

When gasoline topped $4 a gallon, opponents of an increase in the gas tax argued that prices were already too high.

Now the average price of regular gas has dropped under $2.50 a gallon, but in the antitax environment that pervades Washington there is still scant support for increasing the gas tax to finance upkeep of the nation’s roadways and public transit systems.

The no-win dynamic is frustrating to advocates who hoped falling gas prices might reinvigorate the idea of raising the gas tax, which they view as one of the simplest, fairest and most efficient ways to pay for transportation repairs and improvements.

If there’s one thing you can count on, it’s the MSM plumping for a gas tax increase whenever gas prices are temporarily low, and the economy either appears wreckable, or after it’s just been wiped out. Such was the case of December of 2008, immediately after Barack Obama had won, and the MSM longed for a new FDR to preside over eight years (or more!) of the hoped-for Dickensian wreckage to follow. NBC in the form of Tom Brokaw, the Washington Post, and yes, the same New York Times who published the above story, all begged, in coordinated, Jounolist-style fashion for the public face of the infamous Office of President Elect to stick it to the voters who elected him, good and hard. (Oh how they’d get their wish, in just about every way but a gas tax, curiously. QED.)

Incidentally, the URL of yesterday’s Times story decodes as “Support For Gas Tax Increase Still Nil Despite Falling Prices.”

Fox Butterfield, is that you?

Related: At Ace of Spades, “The Gods of the Copybook Headings have been rudely shown the door, yet they are patient and enduring.” And “a comparison of the state-imposed energy taxes/fees courtesy of the American Petroleum Institute.”

Update: The comments at Hot Air’s link to yesterday’s NYT article are instructive as well — even if today’s Fox Butterfields at the New York Times will likely never see them to better understand those mysterious people out there in flyover country.

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.

2014: The Year of the Imploding Narrative

December 27th, 2014 - 9:45 am

Ever since the days of Watergate, at least on the level of the national media’s overculture, America has had very little pure journalism, but loads of narratives being advanced by the left. But these can only be pushed so far before they overreach. 2014 was the year a lot of leftwing narratives overreached very, very badly, with occasionally exceedingly ugly results for those at the center of them. At Reason, Cathy Young describes 2014 as “The Year the Crusade Against ‘Rape Culture’ Stumbled:”

Kingkade also suggests that the numbers are beside the point, since the effort to combat campus sexual assault is about people, not statistics—specifically, “about students who said they were wronged by their schools after they were raped.” Of course every rape is a tragedy, on campus or off—all the more if the victim finds no redress. But if it happens to one in five women during their college years, this is not just a tragedy but a crisis that arguably justifies emergency measures—which is why proponents of sweeping new policies have repeatedly invoked these scary numbers. (Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, has now had the one-in-five figure removed from her website.) And while the stories told by students are often compelling, it is important to remember that they are personal narratives which may or may not be factual.  Only last June, Emily Renda, a UVA graduate and activist who now works at the school, included Jackie’s story—under the pseudonym “Jenna”—in her testimony before a Senate committee.

Of course this is not to suggest that most such accounts are fabricated; but they are also filtered through subjective experience, memory, and personal bias. Yet, for at least three years, these stories been accorded virtually uncritical reception by the mainstream media. When I had a chance to investigate one widely publicized college case—that of Brown University students Lena Sclove and Daniel Kopin—for a feature in The Daily Beast, the facts turned out to bear little resemblance to the media narrative of a brutal rape punished with a slap on the wrist.

Now, in what may be another sign of turning tides, the accused in another high-profile case is getting his say. The New York Times has previously given ample coverage to Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University student famous for carrying around a mattress to protest the school’s failure to expel her alleged rapist. Now, it has allowed that man, Paul Nungesser, to tell his story—a story of being ostracized and targeted by mob justice despite being cleared of all charges in a system far less favorable to the accused than criminal courts. No one knows whether Sulkowicz or Nungesser is telling the truth; but the media have at last acknowledged that there is another side to this story.

Will 2015 see a pushback against the anti-”rape culture” movement on campus? If so, good. This is a movement that has capitalized on laudable sympathy for victims of sexual assault to promote gender warfare, misinformation and moral panic. It’s time for a reassessment.

Another myth of the left is also long overdue for a reassessment, when, as Heather Mac Donald writes at City Journal, “The Big Lie of the Anti-Cop Left Turns Lethal:”

Protesters’ willingness to overlook anti-cop homicidal intent surfaced again in St. Louis in November. A teen criminal who had shot at the police was killed by an officer in self-defense; he, too, joined the roster of heroic black victims of police racism. This sanctification of would-be black cop-killers would prove prophetic. The elites were playing with fire. It’s profoundly irresponsible to stoke hatred of the police, especially when the fuel used for doing so is a set of lies. Hatred of the police among blacks stems in part from police brutality during this country’s shameful era of Jim Crow-laws and widespread discrimination. But it is naïve not to recognize that criminal members of the black underclass despise the police because law enforcement interferes with their way of life. The elites are oblivious both to the extent of lawlessness in the black inner city and to its effect on attitudes toward the cops. Any expression of contempt for the police, in their view, must be a sincere expression of a wrong.

Cop-killer Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who assassinated NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos on Saturday, exemplified everything the elites have refused to recognize: he was a gun-toting criminal who was an eager consumer of the current frenzy of cop hatred. (Not that he paid close enough attention to the actual details of alleged cop malfeasance to spell Eric Garner’s name correctly.) His homicidal postings on Instagram—“I’m Putting Wings on Pigs Today. They Take 1 of Ours . . . . .Let’s Take 2 of Theirs”—were indistinguishable from the hatred bouncing around the Internet and the protests and that few bothered to condemn. That vitriol continues after the assassination. Social media is filled with gloating at the officers’ deaths and praise for Brinsley: “That nigga that shot the cops is a legend,” reads a typical message. A student leader and a representative of the African and Afro-American studies department at Brandeis University tweeted that she has “no sympathy for the NYPD officers who were murdered today.”

The only good that can come out of this wrenching attack on civilization would be the delegitimation of the lie-based protest movement. Whether that will happen is uncertain. The New York Times has denounced as “inflammatory” the statement from the head of the officer’s union that there is “blood on the hands that starts on the steps of City Hall”—this from a paper that promotes the idea that police officers routinely kill blacks. The elites’ investment in black victimology is probably too great to hope for an injection of truth into the dangerously counterfactual discourse about race, crime, and policing.

All of which are reminders that the left’s omnipresent race card carries a steep cost to all of its victims, Thomas Sowell adds at NRO:

Mayor de Blasio has made anti-police comments with Al Sharpton seated at his side. This is the same Al Sharpton with a trail of slime going back more than a quarter of a century, during which he has whipped up mobs and fomented race hatred from the days of the Tawana Brawley “rape” hoax of 1987 to the Duke University “rape” hoax of 2006 and the Ferguson riots of 2014.

Make no mistake about it. There is political mileage to be made siding with demagogues like Al Sharpton who, as demagogue-in-chief, has been invited to the White House dozens of times by its commander-in-chief.

Many in the media and among the intelligentsia cherish the romantic tale of an “us” against “them” struggle of beleaguered ghetto blacks defending themselves against the aggression of white policemen. The gullible include both whites who don’t know what they are talking about and blacks who don’t know what they are talking about either, because they never grew up in a ghetto. Among the latter are the President of the United States and his attorney general.

Such people readily buy the story that ghetto social problems today — from children being raised without a father to runaway rates of murder — are “a legacy of slavery,” even though such social problems were nowhere near as severe in the first half of the 20th century as they became in the second half.

You would be hard pressed to name just five examples from the first half of the 20th century of the kinds of ghetto riots that have raged in more than a hundred cities during the second half. Such riots are a legacy of the social degeneracy of our times.

See also,  Pat Moynihan’s 1993 essay, “Defining Deviancy Down:”

Moynihan argued that deviancy — crime, mental illness, out-of-wedlock births, etc. — had become so rampant, had so thoroughly soaked into the culture, that we simply had to redefine the abnormal as normal to cope. By setting the bar lower, we comforted ourselves with the notion that the percentage of abnormal behavior was still manageable.

Moynihan’s most famous example was the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. That event was a major turning point in American history, credited with helping to convince Americans to abandon prohibition. It warranted two entries in the World Book Encyclopedia. The actual details? Four gangsters murdered seven gangsters.

In the early 1990s, Moynihan noted, Los Angeles suffered from the equivalent of one St. Valentine’s Day Massacre every weekend.

Don’t look for the left to experience much introspection anytime soon, however.

 

It’s a Wonderful Fountainhead

December 25th, 2014 - 10:38 am

“For New York leftists, Pottersville represents a wonderful life,” Paul Mirengoff writes this week at Power Line. And indeed it does, as I wrote in my “It’s a Wonderful Fountainhead” post, originally posted last year:

From now until December 25th (and perhaps January 1st), Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life will be playing somewhere. It’s available on Blu-Ray. There’s currently a sharp-looking copy on YouTube. It will be on TV, where the film’s reputation was made during its many annual repeats; it was unexpectedly flat at the box office during its initial 1946 big screen run. And it will likely also be playing at a revival theater near you. My wife and I caught one such showing at the movie theater in San Jose’s Santana Row yesterday, which was actually the first time I had seen it on the big screen, in a beautifully remastered digital version. It was a vivid reminder that as popular as It’s a Wonderful Life is on TV, this was a film made to be seen by a large audience in a theater, and their knowing laughter during the film’s best moments — and likely, their weeping by the end of the film as we were — adds immeasurably to its impact.

The film is now a double piece of nostalgia, something not intended by its makers. Certainly Capra and company viewed its initial flashback scenes to the early 20th century, the 1928 high school dance and the 1932-era bank run, as nostalgia. But the film’s contemporary setting of post-World War II America is now almost 70 years in the rearview mirror, as are the morals of the people who made the film.

You certainly can get a sense of that merely from reading the film’s Wikipedia page, when you come to the section on how the film is viewed by leftwing urban critics today, particularly the scenes set in “Pottersville,” the segment in which small town Bedford Falls is transformed into Reno on the Hudson:

In a 2010 Salon.com piece, Richard Cohen described It’s a Wonderful Life as “the most terrifying Hollywood film ever made”. In the “Pottersville” sequence, he wrote, George is not “seeing the world that would exist had he never been born”, but rather “the world as it does exist, in his time and also in our own.”] Nine years earlier, another Salon writer, Gary Kamiya, had expressed the opposing view that “Pottersville rocks!”, adding, “The gauzy, Currier-and-Ives veil Capra drapes over Bedford Falls has prevented viewers from grasping what a tiresome and, frankly, toxic environment it is… We all live in Pottersville now.”*

The film’s elevation to the status of a beloved classic came decades after its initial release, when it became a television staple during Christmas season in the late 1970s. This came as a welcome surprise to Frank Capra and others involved with its production. “It’s the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen,” Capra told the Wall Street Journal in 1984. “The film has a life of its own now, and I can look at it like I had nothing to do with it. I’m like a parent whose kid grows up to be president. I’m proud… but it’s the kid who did the work. I didn’t even think of it as a Christmas story when I first ran across it. I just liked the idea.”In a 1946 interview, Capra described the film’s theme as “the individual’s belief in himself” and that he made it “to combat a modern trend toward atheism”.

Of course, atheism doesn’t necessarily mean socialism — even if that’s how it invariably works out (more on that later); and after the page break, allow me to reprint my 2010 post titled “It’s a Wonderful Fountainhead,” which compares Capra’s 1946 film with its very different contemporary, which was based on Ayn Rand’s novel about a young man who dreams of going to the big city, becoming an architect and building giant phallic symbols, and, unlike George Bailey, who has to reconcile never leaving his small town, succeeds on his own terms. Followed by some further thoughts and links from 2013, and a jaw-dropping moment at Wikipedia.

Pages: 1 2 | 6 Comments bullet bullet

“EXCLUSIVE: 911 operators made ‘anti-police’ remarks, causing quarrel with FDNY dispatchers as 2 NYPD cops were dying,” sources tell the New York Daily News:

A war of words erupted in the city’s 911 call center Saturday over allegations two operators made “anti-police” remarks after the assassinations of two cops, the Daily News has learned.

The fracas occurred when news broke that Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu had been shot execution-style by a deranged gunman, sources said.

The remarks were allegedly made by a couple of the 911 operators who handle NYPD calls — and two Fire Department dispatchers in earshot got heated in response, sources said.

The alleged comment that created the most friction was when one said the cops had “deserved it,” said a law enforcement source.

Even if a Republican wins the White House in 2016, good luck resetting an out of control American culture if the rot on the left is this deep and systemic. And in the meantime, linking to the above article, Ace writes, “It’s hard to claim this is all just a Few Bad Apples when you have 911 operators rooting on the murders even as the cops are bleeding out in the streets.”

And as Moe Lane adds in a post on “Black Bloc” cop-hating anarchists infecting Ferguson and other protests, “the murder of two cops was not a function of a failure of the system.  It is a function of the system.  And it was the more mainstream Left’s job to keep these… people… under control.  But apparently nobody on the Left actually knows how to do something like that.”

‘This Org Gives Me an icky Feeling’

December 22nd, 2014 - 6:10 pm

mussolini_obama_lerner_forward_6-13-13-1

“BOMBSHELL REPORT: IRS Targeted ‘Icky’ Conservative Groups,” Patrick Howley writes at the Daily Caller. Money quote here:

4. Lois Lerner expressed her frustration about having to potentially approve a lot of groups, and her colleagues in the agency assured her that she wouldn’t have to.

“Lois [Lerner] would like to discuss our planned approach for dealing with these cases. We suspect we will have to approve the majority of the c4 applications,” IRS official Holly Paz wrote to colleagues.

IRS official Don Spellman replied, “This line in particular stood out: ‘We suspect we will have to approve the majority of c4 applications.’ That’s an interesting posture.”

Deputy Division Counsel Janine Cook replied, “[G]uess they are thinking they’ll have suspicions about reality but the paper/reps will pass muster.”

5. So the IRS reached out to outside advisers to help come up with ways to deny tax-exempt status to “icky” organizations.

“It appears that the org is funneling money to other orgs for political purposes,” a Cincinnati-based IRS agent working under Lois Lerner wrote to tax law specialist Hilary Goehausen in April 2013. ”However, I’m not sure we can deny them because, technically, I don’t know that I can deny them simply for donating to another 501(c)(4). . . .  Any thoughts or feedback would be greatly appreciated.”

“I think there may be a number of ways to deny them,” Goehausen replied. “Let me talk to Sharon [Light] tomorrow about it and get some ideas from her as well. . . .This sounds like a bad org. :/ . . .  This org gives me an icky feeling.”

Trust your icky feelings, Luke. You know them to be true:

Perhaps the House of Repeal can take up this issue as well.

Related: “Report: IRS ‘totally politicized’ by Obamacare, targeting of Tea Party applicants,” from Mark Tapscott at the Washington Examiner.