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Ed Driscoll

Democracy In America

With Landrieu losing a Senate seat that had been in Democrat control for 132 years last night, Kevin D. Williamson puts her shellacking into nearly a century’s worth of context:

Bearing in mind that four presidential elections is not a very large data set, the fact is that voting is racially polarized across the country, not just in the South. In 2012, Barack Obama won 332 electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 206; if only whites’ votes had been counted — if Mitt Romney had been running for the office of President of White Folks — then Romney would have handed Obama a crushing loss, roughly 438 to 100 in the Electoral College. Romney would have won such Democratic strongholds as California, Illinois, and New Jersey; in fact, he would have won every state except for Iowa, Washington, Oregon, New York, and a few small states. Race is not the only cleavage, of course: If the vote had been white men only, chunks of New England would have slipped away, leaving Barack Obama with something like half a dozen states and 40 electoral votes.

On the other hand, have a gander at the 2014 midterm-election map: Does this look like the showing of a rump Southern white people’s party to you? It may be that presidential elections, unlike congressional and gubernatorial elections, really are mainly about culture, about signaling identity and values, about how we see ourselves and our country. If that is the case, it should not surprise us all that much that blacks and whites vote differently. Not only do policy preferences reflect racial divisions, but there are racial differences in all manner of beliefs, tastes, and opinions. We can all laugh at jokes about the O. J. Simpson verdict’s role as a black-authenticity heuristic today, but roughly contemporaneous racial disagreements are not amusing even in retrospect.

That the Democratic party has attempted to hijack for itself credit for the hard and often bloody work performed for a century almost exclusively by Republicans, from Lincoln to Eisenhower, is a reminder that the party of Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton is not a place for men with a very developed sense of decency.

That being the case, Democrats should spare us their batty tales about Louisiana sending off the South’s last Democratic senator — a sanctimonious white lady if ever there was one — because white bigots are being inspired by a governor one generation away from Punjab, Haitian refugees representing Utah in the House, and this National Review cruise aficionado. From George Wallace’s infamous stand in the schoolhouse door to Barack Obama’s, embarrassing racial politics are the Democrats’ bread and butter. And what happened in the 1960s wasn’t the parties’ “changing places” on racism and civil rights; it was the Democrats’ — some of them, at least — joining the ranks of civilized human beings for the first time.

It only took them a century.

But I’m not holding my breath waiting for the cohorts of Al Sharpton, not to mention the man himself, dubbed “smart… entertaining… experienced… thoughtful… provocative, all the things I think that MSNBC is” by that channel’s president to enter the 21st century anytime soon.

Update: QED.

AP Calls Landrieu’s Loss

December 6th, 2014 - 6:33 pm

Wow, that was fast:


As to why “Democrats still confused as to why the South has given up on them,” Moe has you covered on that topic as well. (Update: QED.)

Fortunately for her election bid, Hillary knows that the right song is all it takes to win back the South…

Update: To modify the gender on a line from this classic “Yankee’s Guide to the South,” if you ever hear a Southerner exclaim, “Hey, y’all, watch this!” stay out of her way. These are likely the last words she will ever say:

News You Can Use

November 26th, 2014 - 11:40 pm

But if all else fails:

Have a happy Thanksgiving from myself and everyone else at Ed, including me.

Well, Here’s Something to Look Forward To…

November 4th, 2014 - 11:49 pm

Two entries in the “Yes, Tonight Was Fun, But…” column. First up, Here’s Charles Hurt in the Washington Times  positing, “America faces most dangerous two years in 150 years:”

If President Obama suffered a “shellacking” in the 2010 elections, then what he endured Tuesday night was nothing short of a vicious gangland beatdown the likes of which have rarely been seen before in the history of electoral politics.

This, of course, is a wonderful and well-deserved outcome. But beware: America now enters the two most dangerous years of her existence — or certainly the most dangerous since the Great Depression and possibly going all the way back to the Civil War.

* * * * * * * * *

President Obama still has two more years left in his final term.

Already, he has demonstrated again and again that he has no regard for the constitution or the legitimacy of laws when they do not suit his agenda. He flaunts his disregard for the constitutional process, dismisses laws he doesn’t like and rewrites others.

He mocks the powers of Congress. The Supreme Court has slapped him down more than any president in recent times. All of this as he tells us he is an expert on constitutional law.

Now come his very explicit threats to pass more illegal and unconstitutional presidential edicts to grant amnesty to illegal aliens already in the United States. This, in turn, will issue invitations for millions more illegals to come streaming across the border.

It will not end at immigration. Unchecked power is addictive.

Disowned by Democrats and made to feel irrelevant in this election, President Obama’s enormous and unjustified ego is deeply wounded. He is frustrated and feels caged, cornered. This is when people like him are most dangerous.

Buoyant Republicans will make an effort to engage him.

But President Obama is not a listener. He is not a negotiator. He is not a learner. He will just take what he wants. It is easier that way.

And while a wounded Obama with nothing to lose is a very dangerous proposition indeed, he’s certainly done plenty of damage already. Which is why Roger L. Simon, our own Maximum Pajamahadeen Emeritus, adds that as great as tonight’s victory was, “Too bad there’s no time to celebrate.  We almost lost our country.  There’s no time to lose getting it back:”

Depending on whether Barack Obama decides to behave like an adult or not in the face of massive defeat, all Hell can break loose in the next few months.  He can subvert Congress and initiate an absurd amnesty program that nobody wants except for perhaps some random aging members of La Raza.  Just as bad, or maybe worse — it involves weapons of mass destruction — he can subvert Congress again and sign a deal with the Iranian mullahs that, on latest reports, relies on our good friends the Russians to police the Iranian nuclear program. How insane is that? Ask any Ukrainian.

And that’s only getting started.  The litany of possible mischief small and large is endless from Obamacare to accusations  of racism (how else could Obama lose?) to that monumental absurdity the “War on Women.”  (That one doesn’t seem to be working out too well lately with the Senate filling up with Republican women.)

And then there are the Clintons who have been in their Westchester bunker all night long working the phones while staring at walls of televisions and plotting their way back, speaking of the “War on Women.”  There must be another way.  It doesn’t matter what to them.  Power is all.

So what should Republicans do?  Stand up and lead, obviously.  Come up with programs and put them through the House and Senate.  Do away with Obamacare, either in one gulp or, if that’s not possible, piecemeal.

But they all should make a monumental and immediate outreach to African Americans.  No group has been so brutally screwed over by the Democratic Party — and I suspect more than a few of them are beginning to realize it. Republicans should take this opportunity to come up with some fresh ideas and communicate with them, and with Latinos, and Asians, and with women, and break the back of our identity politics that is so reactionary and divisive, so hurtful to the very people it pretends to help.

Roger’s post is titled, “Hooray for the Wave: Now Forget It.” I rarely argue with his advice, but I’m going to delay implementing it until tomorrow; tonight there’s a cigar and a snifter of cognac with my name on them.


Say, that Sen. Obama seemed like an interesting, and at times sensible guy; whatever happened to him?

…CBS establishment leftist fossil Bob Schieffer, who really needs to expand his circle of friends on Twitter, where for half the country, the mood is anything but “nasty” right now, judging by the euphoria in my Twitter stream.

Update: And speaking of temper tantrums:


Tweet of the Day

November 4th, 2014 - 8:05 pm


Tuesday’s Stakes

November 3rd, 2014 - 7:06 pm

“GOP Senate Means Obama Owns Gridlock,” Jonathan S. Tobin writes today at Commentary:

Republicans face formidable challenges once they are in charge of both houses, though most of these will come from within. But what liberal pundits and even some conservatives forget is that the dynamic next year will be a lot different from the past. Obama is weak and getting weaker in terms of the political capital he has to spend every month. A Congress that puts him on the defensive by passing its own agenda will potentially be offering the nation a coherent alternative to liberal patent nostrums. On a host of issues, including energy, education, and immigration, if Obama’s only answer to Republican bills is to say no, it won’t be as easy for him to say that it’s all the fault of the other side. He’s the one will be saying “no,” not Speaker John Boehner or even the Tea Party. That’s even more more pertinent if he is also seeking to institute one-man rule via executive orders so as to prevent Congress from having its say.

All of which means that the stakes tomorrow are a lot higher than many on the left are willing to concede. A GOP Senate presents the party with an opportunity to not only make Barack Obama’s last two years in office miserable but also to lay the foundation for a strong 2016 effort. As much as it is tempting for Democrats to say they win by losing, the truth is, they have far more to lose in the midterms than they are letting on.

It only happens if you get out tomorrow to make it happen. As my friend and PJM colleague Stephen Kruiser “joked” in 2010, assume elections are within the margin of ACORN — or as Hugh Hewitt presciently warned in 2004, “If It’s Not Close, They Can’t Cheat.”

Exit quote:

Update: Make this happen, America:

He’s Got My Vote

October 30th, 2014 - 2:11 pm


Heh, indeed.™ (Via Twitchy.)

‘Can Obama Find Thumpin’ to Say?’

October 28th, 2014 - 12:32 am

“No one knows what’s going to happen next week, never mind Nov. 4, Peggy Noonan wrote this past Friday. “But it is increasingly reasonable to believe what a grizzled journalistic veteran of the campaign trail said last week in conversation. The election will be a wave for Republicans; the only question is whether it will be a big one or a small one:”

On Nov. 5, Mr. Obama will have to say something that shows he gets it. That shows without saying that he’s humbled, that he isn’t living in a bubble.

Here’s the problem. The qualities required of such a statement—humility, self-awareness, sensitivity to the public mood—are sort of the opposite of what the president brings to the table.

His people are going to have to figure this out.

Republicans in 2006 lost the House and Senate. In a news conference just before 7 p.m. the next day, President George W. Bush said: “Look, this is a close election. If you look at race by race, it was close. The cumulative effect, however, was not too close. It was a thumpin’.” That did the trick, declaring the obvious with an air of chagrin, admitting he’d been wounded, and acknowledging that politics at bottom is combat.

Democrats in 1994 took an even worse pounding. Republicans not only won the Senate and House but did so on the Contract With America. President Clinton responded the next day with a nearly perfect statement: “We were held accountable . . . and I accept my share of responsibility in the result.” He said of the voters’ message: “I got it.” He acknowledged the election had real political meaning, saying the people “still believe government is more often the problem than the solution.” The voters backed “sweeping changes.” He then made a mistake in seeming to claim his election in 1992 was part of the change, and 1994 just a continuation of its spirit. But he backed off under questioning and reporters didn’t press the matter.

What would an Obama White House meeting on What the President Should Say sound like?

Good luck with that; Obama’s horrid and historically illiterate young speechwriters have little to show for their efforts, and as Obama himself has said, “I think I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” But while Obama may have disdain for his inner circle, his hatred of everyone to his right, Republicans and moderate blue collar Democrats alike has been the stuff of legend since 2008.

All of which is a reminder that Republicans should work extra hard over the next week to ensure that at a barely restrained fury is on display from the semi-retired president — and Harry Reid, of course — next Wednesday.

10/4! It’s National CB Radio Day

October 4th, 2014 - 3:30 pm

“Regardless of your feelings toward Jimmy Carter, I think we can all agree that his finest act as president was the creation of National CB Radio day. Carter designated October 4, 10/4, as a day to honor the citizens band,” Road and Track notes.

CB radio was hated by elites back in its faddish heyday, of course. Near the end of his mammoth (22,000 words!), otherwise beautifully-written profile of Johnny Carson for the New Yorker in 1978, Kenneth Tynan noted that while Carson was glad millions of America tuned in every night to make him exceedingly wealthy in the limited mass media era of only three national commercial TV channels, he loathed the idea that just anybody could have access to the airwaves as well. And of course, the man writing his profile for the New Yorker* concurred entirely:

Before I go, Carson takes me down to a small gymnasium beneath the module. It is filled with gleaming steel devices, pulleys and springs and counterweights, which, together with tennis, keep the star’s body trim. In one corner stands a drum kit at which Buddy Rich might cast an envious eye. “That’s where I work off my hostilities,” Carson explains. He escorts me to my car, and notices that it is fitted with a citizens-band radio. “I had one of those damned things, but I ripped it out after a couple of weeks,” he says. “I just couldn’t bear it—all those sick anonymous maniacs shooting off their mouths.”

I understand what he means. Most of what you hear on CB radio is either tedious (truck drivers warning one another about speed traps) or banal (schoolgirls exchanging notes on homework), but at its occasional—and illegal—worst it sinks a pipeline to the depths of the American unconscious. Your ears are assaulted by the sound of racism at its most rampant, and by masturbation fantasies that are the aural equivalent of rape. The sleep of reason, to quote Goya’s phrase, brings forth monsters, and the anonymity of CB encourages the monsters to emerge. Not often, of course; but when they do, CB radio becomes the dark underside of a TV talk show. No wonder Carson loathes it.

As Glenn Reynolds wrote back in 2003 at Tech Central Station (where I was also a regular contributor), Weblogs in their early days were often sneeringly compared to CB radio by elitist leftwing outlets such as Columbia Journalism School. Glenn added that  while “Citizens’ Band radio gets a bum rap nowadays...CB was a revolution in its time, whose effects are still felt today:”

Before Citizens’ Band was created, you needed a license to be on the air, with almost no exceptions. Radio was seen as Serious Technology For Serious People, nothing for normal folks to fool around with, at least not without government approval. Citizens’ Band put an end to that, not by regulatory design but by popular fiat. Originally, a license was required for Citizens’ Band, too, but masses of people simply broke the law and operated without a license until the FCC was forced to bow to reality. It was a form of mass civil disobedience that accomplished in its sphere what drug-legalization activists have never been able to accomplish in theirs. No small thing.

And it didn’t stop there. Citizens’ Band radio became popular because of widespread resistance to another example of regulatory overreach: the unpopular 55-mile-per-hour speed limit. Actually passed in 1974, but popularly identified with Jimmy Carter’s “moral equivalent of war,” speed limits were for the first time set not for reasons of safety, but for reasons of politics and social engineering. Americans rejected that approach in massive numbers, and entered into a state of more-or-less open rebellion. CB was valuable — as songs like Convoy! and movies like Smokey and the Bandit illustrated — because it allowed citizens to spontaneously organize against what they saw as illegitimate authority.

And it worked: the 55 mile per hour speed limit was repealed. That (plus the gradual introduction of cheap and effective radar detectors, which allowed citizens to watch for speed traps while still listening to their car stereos) gradually ended the Citizens Band revolution.

Well, sort of. Because like many fads, Citizens Band didn’t really go away. It just faded from view, and turned into something else.

CB played an inadvertent role in launching the early days of the online world as well. Even as the CB radio craze was fading from the headlines in 1980, CompuServe branded their first chat applications their “CB Simulator:”

CompuServe CB Simulator was the first dedicated online chat service that was widely available to the public. It was developed by a CompuServe executive, Alexander “Sandy” Trevor, and released by CompuServe in 1980.

At that time, most people were familiar with citizens band radio, often abbreviated as CB radio, but multi-user chat and instant messaging were largely unknown. CompuServe CB used the CB radio paradigm to help users understand the new concept. Like CB radio it had 40 “channels” and commands like “tune”, “squelch”, and “monitor.” CompuServe CB quickly became the largest single product on CompuServe despite virtually no marketing. When 40 channels was not enough, additional “bands” were added, such as the “Adult” band.

The first online wedding occurred on CompuServe CB, and worldwide fans organized events to meet in the “real world” people they had met in CB. Compuserve’s CBIG (CB Interest Group) Sysop Chris Dunn (ChrisDos) met his wife Pamela (Zebra3) there in the early 1980s, eventually being featured on the Phil Donahue Show.[3] Later, enhancements to CompuServe CB were made to enable multiplayer games, digital pictures, multimedia, and large conferences. For example, Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones held the first online multimedia conference using CompuServe CB from London on December 7, 1995.

Dubbing their chat program “CB” was a marketing masterstroke for CompuServe, as it made the applet both immediately understandable and it broadcast to the world that it was user-friendly, no small feat in an era where buying a first personal computer and getting online were both scary propositions for all but the most dedicated early adopters.

I know — I was connecting to CompuServe myself around 1982 and ’83 on my TRS-80 Model I and blazing fast 300 baud Hayes Smartmodem; I joined the online network largely because of the CB brand name, having been involved in CB as well a few years earlier.

The impact of CB radio on the culture was astonishingly deep considering how quickly it flamed out in the pop culture as a fad; it will be fun to look back around 2030 to see how the early Web culture of the late ’90s and early “naughts” plays out.

…Assuming the oceans haven’t “shut down” by then of course, as NBC, with Carson and his cool self-assurance having long left the building, is currently predicting.

*Then home for Pauline “I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them” Kael.

RIP Former Rep. James Traficant

September 27th, 2014 - 11:58 am

“James A. Traficant Jr., colorful Ohio congressman expelled by House, dies at 73,” the Washington Post reports:

[Traficant], an iconoclastic nine-term Ohio populist in the U.S. House of Representatives who was convicted on corruption charges in 2002, becoming the second member of Congress to be expelled since the Civil War, died Sept. 27 at a hosptial [sic] in Youngstown, Ohio. He was 73.

A family spokeswoman, Heidi Hanni, confirmed his death to reporters. The former congressman was injured in a tractor accident on his farm near Greenford, Ohio, on Tuesday. A former aide told reporters in Ohio that he apparently had a heart attack while driving the tractor, which overturned inside a building and left the former congressman trapped underneath.

Mr. Traficant, a maverick Democrat who found his own path politically and seemingly in everything else, was one of the most deliberately outrageous members of Congress in history. Glib and voluble, he was known for wearing cowboy boots, skinny ties and out-of-date polyester suits and for a bouffant mound of hair that seemed to defy gravity.

Reporters outdid themselves in trying to describe Mr. Traficant’s pompadour — and to determine whether it was real. In the words of the Los Angeles Times, it was a “Planet of the Apes sort of hair helmet” or, as Washingtonian magazine put it, “a creature from Lake Erie before it was cleaned up.”

As the Post goes on to note:

Mr. Traficant, who spent virtually his entire adult life working for the government in one capacity or another, often said he loved America but hated the government. He once admitted that an incendiary comment he made about the “political prostitutes” in Congress was out of line.

“I want to apologize,” he said, “to all the hookers of America for associating them with the United States Congress.”

Heh. The very definition of “a character,” Traficant, via his populist Congressional rants, which always ended with some variation of this phrase (I’m paraphrasing from here), “What kind of craziness is this? Beam me up, Mr. Speaker!”, became perhaps the only Democrat Rush Limbaugh could cotton to during the early days of his national radio show, which brought Traficant’s zaniness to a national audience. RIP.

‘A Bridge Too Far’

September 16th, 2014 - 1:09 pm

Jacob Weisberg of Slate reviews The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan by self-admitted “European-style Social Democrat” Rick Perlstein, in Democracy Journal:

If he were willing to look more critically at the left, the way he does at the right, Perlstein might give more weight to the visible bridge of Reagan’s stated views. By the mid-1970s, the failures of Great Society liberalism were evident: Despite some popular and meaningful accomplishments like Medicaid, the poorly thought-out War on Poverty was arguably doing more harm than good. Broken welfare and public housing systems were not liberating the urban poor, but trapping a new underclass in a new kind of poverty. Crime, bad schools, and the threat of busing were driving the middle class away from America’s cities. With a top marginal rate of 70 percent kicking in at just over $100,000 for individuals (or around $275,000 in adjusted terms), income taxes were both too high and, with as many as 25 brackets, gratuitously complex. Few people paid 70 percent, of course, but the pursuit of shelters and loopholes was creating pervasive distortion in economic behavior. Delegated regulatory authority empowered unaccountable bureaucrats not only to ignore the economic cost of greater safety, but to set prices for everything from airline tickets to long-distance phone calls. Liberal government had arrived at an impasse that an interest-group-dominated Democratic Party was unable to address.

In the international sphere, similarly, Reagan’s critique of Henry Kissinger’s amoral realpolitik and detente with the Soviet Union was far from preposterous or the worldview of a simpleton. The anger of both conservatives and anti-Communist liberals over Ford’s refusal to meet with Alexander Solzhenitsyn in the summer of 1975 was fully justified—even if they were ultimately proven wrong in their negative view of the Helsinki Accords. Perlstein’s understanding of Reagan is constrained by his tendency to see conservatives as either frightening wackos or cynical manipulators. The one thing he doesn’t do in his new book, infuriatingly, is take conservative political ideas—and, by extension, the people who voted for them—seriously.

An alternative thesis is the one Perlstein seemed to be framing up with his first, shorter, and better book: that the crucial bridge in modern Republican politics was the one leading from Barry Goldwater to Reagan. Nixon was the last important President of the New Deal Era, in the same way that Bill Clinton is best subsumed under the rubric of the Reagan Era. Constraining the federal government was not a significant component of Nixon’s political rhetoric, and he left it bigger, more expensive, and more powerful than he found it. Reagan did not ultimately reduce the size of the federal government in any meaningful sense, but he did diminish its scope and ambitions in ways that continue to resonate and define contemporary Republican politics.

Beyond the plagiarism charges circulating around Perlstein over this book raised initially by Craig Shirley, the conservative author of earlier works on Reagan that Perlstein, to say the least, apparently leaned on rather heavily, Orrin Judd had the best short critique of it. Dubbing him “The Accidental Hagiographer,” Orrin writes:

As you can see here, the premise of this volume is not only hilarious but inflates Ronald Reagan into a mythical hero far moreso than any of the fawning texts we on the right produce : the gnostic reality, known only to the Left, is that America is nothing special and, for one brief shining moment, in the 70s everyone was about to realize that, but Reagan, through the exercise of little more than his personal will, restores the delusion that America is more important than other states.

If Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh had given Reagan that much credit for reshaping the world around himself, they’d be dismissed as overenthusiastic cultists.  But Reagan looms so large in the mind of the Left that Friend Perlstein can’t see he’s gone far beyond any Reagan fanboy of the right in his claims for the greatness (let’s say we use the term in its value neutral sense) of the Gipper.

Of course, as great as the Gipper ultimately was (and his ghost is still living rent free in Obama’s addled mind) he couldn’t have done it without the left making a complete hash of America in the 1970s, as Weisberg notes above. To paraphrase an old line by P.J. O’Rourke, that’s the one and only reason we should always be grateful to Jimmy Carter.

(Via John Podhoretz.)

Peggy Noonan has a beautifully written encomium to the late Joan Rivers:

She was a Republican, always a surprising thing in show business, and in a New Yorker, but she was one because, as she would tell you, she worked hard, made her money with great effort, and didn’t feel her profits should be unduly taxed. She once said in an interview that if you have 19 children she will pay for the first four but no more. Mostly she just couldn’t tolerate cant and didn’t respond well to political manipulation. She believed in a strong defense because she was a grown-up and understood the world to be a tough house. She loved Margaret Thatcher, who said what Joan believed: The facts of life are conservative. She didn’t do a lot of politics in her shows—politics divides an audience—but she thought a lot about it and talked about it. She was socially liberal in the sense she wanted everyone to find as many available paths to happiness as possible.

* * * * * * *

I last saw her in July. A friend and I met her for lunch at a restaurant she’d chosen in Los Angeles. It was full of tourists. Everyone at the tables recognized her and called out. She felt she owed her fans everything and never ignored or patronized an admirer. She smiled through every picture with every stranger. She was nice—she asked about their families, where they were from, how they liked it here. They absolutely knew she would treat them well and she absolutely did.

The only people who didn’t recognize Joan were the people who ran the restaurant, who said they didn’t have her reservation and asked us to wait in the bar, where waiters bumped into us as they bustled by. Joan didn’t like that, gave them 10 minutes to get their act together, and when they didn’t she left. But she didn’t just leave. She stood outside on the sidewalk, and as cars full of people went by with people calling out, “Joan! We love you!” she would yell back, “Thank you but don’t go to this restaurant, they’re rude! Boycott this restaurant!” My friend said, “Joan, stop it, you’re going to wind up on TMZ.”

“I don’t care,” she said. She felt she was doing a public service.

As Roger Simon — who once pitched a script to Rivers — noted last night, eventually she did wind up on TMZ, as recently as this past July, when she brilliantly batted back their concern-trolling over the Palestinians:

Her comeback to their reference to Selena Gomez’s take (!!??) on the geopolitical realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was priceless.

Nancy McDermott, a New York-based contributor to England’s Spiked Website asks, “After Joan, who’ll slaughter the sacred cows now?”

Irreverence like Rivers’ has become increasingly rare as comedy has retreated into ideological niches where comics can preach to the choir without giving offence. The political correctness Rivers poked fun at through most of her career has slowly hardened into a climate of conformity in which it is not permissible to say certain things – not even in jest. This shift was not lost on her, and it made her irritable.

Over the past year or so, she seemed to go out of her way to wind up prudes and the press. She upset the PC brigade with her quip about the model Heidi Klum: ‘The last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into the ovens.’ In a facetious response to a reporter asking about same-sex couples in the White House, she said, ‘We’ve already got one!’ (because, she quipped, ‘Michelle is a tranny’). Then she refused to condemn Israel for attacking Gaza, and even worse, committed the modern sin of supporting Israel, igniting a Twitterstorm that is raging even now.

Perhaps this is why her death seems like the end of an era.

Indeed it does. For a snapshot of the world we now live in, where Very. Serious. People — who once mocked the Moral Majority, described themselves as “hip” and “liberal,” and preached the importance of “tolerance” — race to see who will become the most offended over a sexy comic book cover, check out this new clip by videomaker “Maddox:”

Fortunately, in an ever-changing world of global complexities and contradictions, the New York Times, with its layers and layers of fact-checkers and editors remains a constant — the all-knowing, all-seeing oracle that all of America can reply upon for its news:

Of course, if the Times really does believe it’s 1914, and Woodrow Wilson is in the White House, that would explain volumes about their “Progressive” worldview.

From Quest for Fire to the Four Seasons

August 2nd, 2014 - 11:04 am

“Home Cooking and Civilization” was explored by Jonah Goldberg yesterday in his latest G-File, a summer rerun alas, but a worthy topic nonetheless:

It is hard to fathom all of the trial-and-error that has gone into any great cuisine. Imagine how long it must have taken to come up with the idea that food should be cooked in the first place. How many deaths or vomiting sessions stemming from eating spoiled raw meat led to that discovery? How many mistakes were made – and learned from – in the process of aging and curing meats and fish? How many corpses are long since buried and decomposed thanks to someone working out the technical details of food storage? And then there’s the whole wonderful universe of flavor and technique that defines any truly distinctive cuisine. This much salt, that much paprika. Age the cheese this long for this taste, this much longer for that taste. Cuisines are the manifest product of wars, invasions, famines, revolution, religious awakenings, boom times, and scientific breakthroughs. The culinary lessons learned from these momentous times are humbly recorded, without much commentary, in cookbooks. Put it all together and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking is not merely akin to a time capsule, it’s a memory back-up, an auto-save of a document still being written. At least 99 percent of the things we know are things other people figured out first. Our manners, morals, technology, language, culture come to us on an assembly line that stretches off into prehistory with laborers in animal skins at the front and lab coats at the end.

Even rugged-individualist survivalists living completely alone in the woods somewhere are plugged into a support network of millions of human beings who came before him. Nearly every single thing he does alone in the woods was figured out for him by someone else. He didn’t discover how to start a fire. He probably didn’t forge his own gun or knife, and even if he did, he didn’t learn the techniques for doing so all by himself.

One of the ways we plug into all of this knowledge, how we transfer the data banks of civilization onto the empty barbarian hard drive of humanity, is at the dinner table. We teach our children not to be savages by eating with them and including them in the process of cooking. Food is primal, and by diluting and harnessing the primal urge to eat we start turning barbarians into less-than-barbarians.

Thursday while having lunch alone (my wife was with a client at a deposition), I poked around the YouTube channel on the Roku box, and came across a 2002 speech from Tom Wolfe on urban renewal that I had never seen before, which dovetails perfectly with Jonah’s take on the power of food. Wolfe argues, slightly tongue in cheek, but actually pretty convincingly, that Manhattan’s restaurants are the only thing keeping a number of corporations from leaving the massively over-regulated and over-taxed city. (Scroll to 14:30 if TubeChop doesn’t take you there automatically):

Keeping civilization and America’s greatest city functioning. Food: Is there nothing it can’t do?

(To subscribe to Jonah’s emailed G-File, click here.)

Hillary Clinton Praises George W. Bush

July 27th, 2014 - 3:55 pm

You go, Hill!

“George W. Bush is very popular in Sub-Saharan Africa. Why? Because of the president emergency program for AIDS relief whether you agree or disagree with a lot of what else he did — and I disagree with a lot of it — I am proud to be an American when I go to Sub-Saharan Africa and people say, ‘I want to thank President Bush and the United States for helping us fight HIV/AIDS.’ We spend a lot of money and a lot of time and effort trying to be influential around the world when I think we would be able to succeed more effectively if we were clearer about who we are and what we stand for and the values that we hold.”

Actually, I’d be really curious to hear which of GWB’s policies that Hillary disagrees with, as Bush #43 was, in many ways, an extension of the Clinton administration* — which made the left’s permanent seething all the more ironic to watch.

* Which Hillary is effectively running against, even as she attempts to conjure up nostalgic memories of that period.

RIP, James Garner

July 21st, 2014 - 1:27 pm

As Mark Steyn writes, “James Garner was one of those actors who was watchable in almost anything, even commercials:”

He had great sexual chemistry, which is why his leading ladies loved working with him. For my money, when it comes to Sixties sex comedies, he was better with Doris Day than Rock Hudson was, and not just for the obvious reason. In Move Over, Darling, Doris and Polly Bergen crank it up a tad too much too soon, and it’s Garner dialing it back and reeling it in who keeps the picture’s contrivances from getting too much. Over a third of a century, he made three movies with Julie Andrews, and made her seem desirable, which is a trick not every leading man could pull off. And, of course, he and Mariette Hartley turned those Seventies/Eighties Polaroid commercials into such mini-masterpieces of effortless charm that most viewers assumed the relationship had to be real. The chemistry was so good Miss Hartley began going around in a T-shirt proclaiming “I am NOT Mrs James Garner.”

He was also one of the few Hollywood leading men of the 1960s to survive and prosper in the awful decade that followed, in which American coastal elites in New York, Washington, and Hollywood all lost their way, producing horrid results for the rest of us. (Talk about déjà vu.) Somehow though, with the Rockford Files, as John Nolte writes in “A Tribute to The Mighty James Garner” at Big Hollywood, Garner, producer Roy Huggins, writer Stephen J. Cannell. and Universal TV managed to capture “lightening in a bottle,” and in an odd way, the 1970s middle American zeitgeist as well.

While he had nothing in common with the character he played, my dad loved James Garner on Rockford, and it’s easy to see why. During that period, when Hollywood was still in its post-Easy Rider “youth phase,” the cool leading men of the 1950s and ‘60s were in short supply: Cary Grant had retired, Sean Connery seemed to vanish in his early post-Bond years, and Steve McQueen’s career was in that fallow period that had begun with the dark grotesqueries of Papillon, and arguably never recovered. You respected Charles Bronson’s characters for their macho toughness and steely brass balls, but no guy really wanted to be Charles Bronson. Which left Garner, who made looking cool easy, unlike McQueen and Paul Newman, each with an ice cold veneer which masked an venomous anger just under the surface. (Arguably in real life, as well.)

As John Nolte – who once featured Rockford’s business card  on his Twitter homepage — adds, “Amiable, broad-shouldered, and handsome, Garner spent a half-century easily moving back and forth between television and film roles, a feat very few lead actors have successfully pulled off. Garner was the rare leading man who could spend countless hours in our living rooms without losing the quality that made him a movie star.”

In a phrase that’s applicable less and less to those in show business, James Garner was truly a class act. RIP.

Update: In his obit for Garner, Andrew Klavan writes that no men like the beach bum private eye characters portrayed in the mid-’70s by both Garner and David Janssen in ABC’s then-concurrent Harry O series exist on TV these days. “I don’t say that out of nostalgic grumpiness but as a matter of fact. You cannot pitch a private eye show to the networks. I’ve tried it. You can’t even get in the door.”

“I began by saying that the Obama presidency is unraveling, and that it was a creation of the culture,” Drew adds. “Part of what the culture did to help create this disaster was to lose its faith in the man alone, and put its trust in princes and principalities.”

Offstage, Garner was a cast-in-the-mold Hollywood liberal seeking — whether he knew it consciously or not — authoritarianism, collectivism, and big government. But he was smart enough to portray characters who fought against that authoritarianism, sometimes won along the way, and retained their heart and individuality in the process. And compared to today’s smarmy and chestless Hollywood actors, that was more than enough.

…But only in an attempt to bludgeon it into submission. “It’s time for progressives to reclaim the Constitution,” Dionne writes in the Washington Post, but it’s an entirely disingenuous proposition, making his article a piece with previous recent examples of the left fantasizing about discarding the Constitution.  Or as I wrote in January of last year:

“CBS Runs Segment Called ‘Let’s Give Up On The Constitution,’” Big Journalism reports today (warning, link goes to auto-play Charles Osgood video). They’re simply the latest branch of the Obama-media to drop the mask in recent years. “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution,” blared a headline in the New York Times on December 30th, atop a column written by Louis Seidman, the same man featured in CBS’s segment today, who professes to “teach” Constitutional Law at Georgetown University.

Ten days later, Time-Warner-CNN-HBO spokesman Morton Downey Morgan Jr. sneeringly described the Constitution as “your little book,” when handed a copy by guest Ben Shapiro.

Back in January of 2011, when the GOP took back control of the House, the New York Times ran an earlier assault on the Constitution, leading Power Line’s John Hinderaker to ask, “Are Liberals Coming Out of the Closet on the Constitution?” 

That was around the same time the Washington’s Post’s Young Ezra Klein admitted on MSNBC that in his opinion, because the Constitution was written “more than 100 years ago,” it was all so confusing to understand.

On July 4th 2011, the cover of Time magazine featured a shredded Constitution and a headline that asked, “Does It Still Matter?”

And as Thomas Friedman infamously wrote in the pages of the Times back in September of 2009:

Watching both the health care and climate/energy debates in Congress, it is hard not to draw the following conclusion: There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today.

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages. That one party can just impose the politically difficult but critically important policies needed to move a society forward in the 21st century.

In February of 2013, Glenn Reynolds was interviewed by Russ Roberts, economics professor at George Mason University. Roberts reiterated some of the arguments by Louis Michael Seidman, the author of the Times article positing the jettisoning of the Constitution. When asked if the left’s argument is that “we already ignore the Constitution; it’s not really much of a binding document,” as Roberts paraphrased Seidman, Glenn responded:

REYNOLDS: Oh, well, then I’m free to do whatever I want!  And actually, that is a damning admission, because what that really says is: If you believe Seidman’s argument; if you believe that we already ignore the Constitution anyway, then in fact, the government rules by sheer naked force, and nothing else. And if that’s what you believe, then all of this talk of revolution suddenly doesn’t seem so crazy, it seems almost mandatory.

ROBERTS: Well, he would say – well, I won’t speak for him, but some would say that, well, there’s a social contract, we’ve all agreed to kind of play by these rules…

REYNOLDS: Oh really?!

ROBERTS: …of electing officials, and…

REYNOLDS: Well, the rules I agreed to electing these officials are the Constitution. I thought we were going to ignore that. That’s my social contract.

It’s tough for “Progressives” to reclaim something they’ve spent the better part of five years openly attempting to jettison. Let’s give the final word to the man whose billboard is atop this post, a man of a few very carefully words, Calvin Coolidge on July 5th, 1926:

One of Coolidge’s greatest speeches was on the occasion of the Declaration’s 150th anniversary (his 54th birthday). Silent about himself, Coolidge praised the Declaration’s words on human equality, natural rights, and consent of the governed. America was the first nation founded on those principles. July 4, 1776, the day when they were formally expressed, “has come to be regarded as one of the greatest days in history” and “an incomparable event in the history of government.”

For Coolidge, these principles spelled security. They were final. “No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions,” he said. To deny the self-evident truths of the Declaration would take America “backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people.”

These principles provided the foundation for all Americans, whatever their policy preferences or partisan alignments. “Amid all the clash of conflicting interests, amid all the welter of partisan politics,” Coolidge said, “every American can turn for solace and consolation to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States with the assurance and confidence that those two great charters of freedom and justice remain firm and unshaken.”

Coolidge’s speech was made when the first serious attempts by “Progressives” to turn back the clock on the Constitution were made by America’s original Liberal Fascist, Woodrow Wilson, was still within the memory of Americans who suffered under his excesses during World War I.

As Wilson attempted a century ago, E.J. Dionne, Young Ezra Klein, Piers Morgan, and Louis Michael Seidman — along with their man in the White House and his Attorney General — are doing everything they can to similarly cast America into the abyss of nihilism as well.

Update: At Power Line, Steve Hayward deconstructs “Dionne Again, Naturally:”

Unfortunately I don’t have time for a complete fisking of Dionne’s article just at the moment (busy day starting . . . now), but I’ll just bring your attention to its biggest howler.  (You’ll want to put down your coffee first and spare the risk to your keyboard.)  Dionne quotes Joseph R. Fishkin and William E. Forbath of the University of Texas School of Law:

“Extreme concentrations of economic and political power undermine equal opportunity and equal citizenship,” they write. “In this way, oligarchy is incompatible with, and a threat to, the American constitutional scheme.”

Let’s see: where’s the greatest concentration of economic and political power these days?  Yes, that’s right—the Washington Beltway.  It’s sucking wealth and power from every other corner of the country.  Dionne and his pals are just fine with that.  It makes him an oligarch of sorts.  And that’s exactly the problem.

Which dovetails perfectly with Bill Whittle’s latest Afterburner, a visit to “Obamadelphia, DC, the New U.S. Capital:”


Quote of the Day

July 4th, 2014 - 5:01 pm

Fourth of July taught the Baby Boom an important lesson (albeit one we’ve frequently ignored). It’s a given that the stuff of life will blow up in your face, just try not to set it all off at once.

— From P.J. O’Rourke’s new book, The Baby Boom: How It Got That Way (And It Wasn’t My Fault) (And I’ll Never Do It Again).

Many more quotes from O’Rourke’s fun new book here. And for my interview with O’Rourke on The Baby Boom, click here.

(Originally posted January 17, 2014.)

Happy Fourth of July!

July 4th, 2014 - 11:24 am

Suicide Girls, the early years.

Pardon the hate speech in the above headline, but our surveys show that 99 percent of our core audience enjoys the Fourth of July; it is for that small majority that this post is written.

Roger L. Simon, our beneficent Maximum Pajamahadeen Emeritus wonders, “Is America in a Pre-Revolutionary State this July 4th?”

As we approach July 4, 2013, is America in a pre-revolutionary state? Are we headed for a Tahrir Square of our own with the attendant mammoth social turmoil, possibly even violence.

Could it happen here?

We are two-thirds of the way into the most incompetent presidency in our history. People everywhere are fed up. Even many of the so-called liberals who propelled Barack Obama into office have stopped defending him in the face of an unprecedented number of scandals coming at us one after the other like hideous monsters in some non-stop computer game.

And now looming is the monster of monsters, ObamaCare, the healthcare reform almost no one wanted and fewer understood.

It will be administered by the Internal Revenue Service, an organization that has been revealed to be a kind of post-modern American Gestapo, asking not just to examine our accounting books but the books we read. What could be more totalitarian than that?

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal warns the costs of ObamaCare are close to tripling what were promised, and the number of doctors in our country is rapidly diminishing. No more “My son, the doctor!” It doesn’t pay.

And young people most of all will not be able to afford escalating health insurance costs and will end up paying the fine to the IRS, simultaneously bankrupting the health system and enhancing the brutal power of the IRS — all this while unemployment numbers remain near historical highs.

No one knows how many have given up looking for work while crony capitalist friends of the administration enrich themselves on mythological clean-energy projects.

In fact, everywhere we look on this July Fourth sees a great civilization in decline. And much of that decline can be laid at the foot of the incumbent. Especially his own people, African Americans, have suffered. Their unemployment numbers are catastrophic, their real needs ignored while hustlers like Sharpton, Jackson, and, sadly, even the president fan the flames of non-existent racism.

Tahrir Square anyone?

Ironically, if our society enters a revolutionary phase, liberals will find themselves in the role of the Islamists, defending a shopworn and reactionary ideology on religious grounds, because it is only their faith that holds their ideas together at this point.

Hollywood actress and singer Bette Midler is so reactionary these days, she wishes she was a subject of the crown:

Many celebrities are celebrating the Fourth of July by wishing their country a very happy birthday. It’s a day where partisanship is pushed aside for good ol’ fashioned patriotism.

Bette Midler is taking a different approach.

The Parental Guidance star imagines a world in which the U.S. lost the war for its independence, but it’s not like that’s a bad thing. After all, she argues, that would mean we’d finally have socialized medicine.


Wow, who knew after making millions in Hollywood and as a recording artist, Bette Midler had no health insurance?

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RIP, Paul Mazursky, 84

July 1st, 2014 - 10:47 am

Roger L. Simon is reporting that legendary director Paul Mazursky, whose career stretches back to working with Stanley Kubrick on Kubrick’s earliest ultra-DIY productions, has passed away. Roger writes:

There are tears in my eyes as I write this because no man had as great a professional effect on me — a professional effect that was deeply personal as well, because collaborating with Paul, as I did on several screenplays, was always an adventure of the most intimate sort, sharing endless stories and emotions that would go into our scripts.

I had seen Paul only yesterday in his hospital bed at Cedars Sinai. (I am grateful to our mutual friend David Freeman for informing me he was there.) He did not look good and I wondered if he would ever get out. I tried to engage him in conversation. It was difficult. Paul, normally the most garrulous of men, could barely talk. But we chatted a bit about Enemies, A Love Story – the most successful movie we co-wrote and he directed — and he reminded me that Isaac Singer, the author of the novel, had liked the film. We also talked of the trip we took together with some friends, trekking in the Himalayas to get as far as we could from the premiere of Scenes from a Mall, a less successful effort.

Paul, of course, made over a dozen fine movies, including Next Stop Greenwich Village, Harry and Tonto, and Down and Out in Beverly Hills. We all have our favorites. But at a time like this I choose to remember Paul the man, not the auteur who has been called, reductively I think, the “West Coast Woody Allen.”

I remember especially the many breakfasts we all had together — writers, directors, what we used to call “visiting firemen” — at L.A.’s Farmers Market. “The table,” as it was also called, became something of minor legend, even making it into a BBC documentary on Hollywood in the 1990s. But it would have been nothing without Paul. He was the star attraction, the major domo. This was because of Paul’s fame but also because he was an all-time great storyteller, regaling us with tales of the comedy writers’ room in the early days of television, of great artists he had worked with like Stanley Kubrick and Peter Sellers.

Often he would repeat his stories — as the  best storytellers often do — and we would roll our eyes. But the truth is we wanted to hear them again. They became something of a ritual. I want to hear them again now, more than ever.

PJTV subscribers can watch Roger and his video sparring partner Lionel Chetwynd share some of the old stories with Mazursky in this 2009 edition of Poliwood.

Update: Mark Horowitz, of Medium tweets, “If you’re too young to know the films of Paul Mazursky, here’s a useful intro to his career” by John Podhoretz.