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Ed Driscoll

Democracy In America

‘Let’s Do Some Damage’

March 26th, 2014 - 8:42 pm

No doubt, Paul Krugman and the gang at MSNBC will get a serious case of the vapors over this new ad by Will Brooke (R-AL), but just because they banged up and down on their high chairs about gun-related metaphors in early 2011, doesn’t mean that they get to decide which ads will play well in various local markets. And they broke the ceasefire on their own calls for an era of new civility almost as quickly as they called for it anyhow.

As Breitbart TV notes:

In YouTube ad published on Wednesday, Will Brooke, a Republican Alabama congressional hopeful, managed to combine two hot-button for conservatives: guns and a disdain for ObamaCare. The video shows Brooke shooting at a paper copy of the Affordable Care Act with various firearms.

Brooke is looking to fill the seat to be vacated by Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), who announced his retirement last fall.

I suspect Brooke will be happy for the free publicity from the left his ad is sure to garner.

And it doesn’t mention castration, so it’s got that going for it as well.

Americans Push Back Against the Ruling Class

February 23rd, 2014 - 3:47 pm

In his latest USA Today column, Glenn Reynolds looks at the FCC backing off plans to “monitor,” Soviet “Zampolit” style, American newsrooms, the Department of Homeland Security cancelling plans to build a nationwide license plate database, and on the state level, well-deserved pushback in the form of civil disobedience from Connecticut’s gun registration scheme and writes:

This is more “Irish Democracy,” passive resistance to government overreach. The Hartford (Conn.) Courant is demanding that the state use background-check records to prosecute those who haven’t registered, but the state doesn’t have the resources and it’s doubtful juries would convict ordinary, law-abiding people for failure to file some paperwork.

Though people have taken to the streets from Egypt, to Ukraine, to Venezuela to Thailand, many have wondered whether Americans would ever resist the increasing encroachments on their freedom. I think they’ve begun.

Faster, Please, as my PJM colleague Michael Ledeen would say.

And speaking of gun control, even Variety, rarely a font of conservatism, asks if his obsession on the topic has dropped Morton Downey Jr.-wannabe Piers Morgan’s ratings into the cellar. “#3 with a bullet,” Jim Treacher quips in response, noting that “Over ten times more people follow Morgan on Twitter than watch his show, which is on CNN, a former cable news network.”

As James Lileks likes to say, joyless monomania kills a blog, and it doesn’t do much for a talk show either. At least the avuncular Larry King never sneered at his guests.

Raaaaaacism Straight Up!

February 17th, 2014 - 7:57 pm

Or the lack thereof, as “Liberals Can’t Name Single Example Of Tea Party Racism” in the above video:

Know why? Because there isn’t one.

In the video [above], liberals are asked if the Tea Party is racist. All of them say yes.

When they’re asked a follow up question to name a specific example, none of them can do it.

Seems rather odd that a protest movement that has supported Herman Cain, Mia Love, Allen West, and Tim Scott, and who are extremely conversant in the works of black pundits such as Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, and PJTV’s own Alfonzo Rachel would be racist, but the media will never ask anyone a specific question to quantify their vague claims. (My favorite is the woman who when pressed sputters that the tea party is racist towards women because of the pro-life stance of many Tea Party members.)

Somewhere, the late Andrew Breitbart, who loved to ask protestors to get specific in their charges, is enjoying the above video, which is reminiscent of his 2010 pushback against the Purple People Beaters of the SEIU:

Presumably, Andrew is also enjoying the expansion of his sprawling namesake Website with yesterday’s editions of “Breitbart Texas” and “Breitbart London.” I wish they’d also launch some version of “Big Education,” which Andrew talked about bringing to fruition in the months before he passed away. Attacking media bias is one thing, but to truly change the culture, the source of the elites’ dominant ideology should be targeted for criticism and pushback as well.

Related: “WHITE SUPREMACIST BACKFIRE – SPLC Needs to Apologize for Anti-O’Keefe Smear,” from Hating Breitbart director (and PJM alumnus) Andrew Marcus today at Gateway Pundit.

Quote of the Day

February 17th, 2014 - 5:00 pm

Anger is not an agenda. And outrage, as a habit, is not even conservative. Outrage, resentment, and intolerance are gargoyles of the Left. For us, optimism is not just a message — it’s a principle. American conservatism, at its core, is about gratitude, and cooperation, and trust, and above all hope.

It is also about inclusion. Successful political movements are about identifying converts, not heretics. This, too, is part of the challenge before us.

—Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) as quoted by Peter Wehner of Commentary today in “The Tea Party’s Gift to American Politics.”

Video of the Day

February 14th, 2014 - 7:33 pm

Pro Tip: Do NOT giggle at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I don’t think any of our readers would need to be reminded of that basic courtesy, but the ill-mannered folks in the background of this video unfortunately did:

(Via Conservative Videos.com)

Ted Cruz is Winning

February 14th, 2014 - 2:57 pm

“Like it or not, it’s his party now,” David Harsanyi writes at the Federalist:

At some point, Tea Party types may accept that tactical victories are often more important than empty, feel-good stands. At some point, they may accept that one of most effective weapons in policymaking — one that the Left uses with great success — is incrementalism. Fair or not, though, the problem with today’s Republican Party is that the only incrementalism people see is incremental surrender. Like the surrender they saw on the debt ceiling. And if the establishment doesn’t turn that perception around in a hurry, they won’t be the establishment for much longer.

And as Harsanyi adds:

Yes, the establishment works tirelessly within the political realities of the day. Cruz, it seems, is more interested in changing the reality of his situation. Forcing a 60-vote threshold on the debt ceiling wasn’t only about the debt ceiling (which Cruz surely understood would be hiked), and it wasn’t only about his presidential ambitions (which he surely has), but about helping bring a bunch [of] Matt Bevins into the Senate and solidify his position.

Faster please. As great as Cruz personally is, his actual value will become apparent if he really can change the culture in DC. As Milton Friedman once said, “It’s nice to elect the right people, but that’s not the way you solve things. The way you solve things is by making it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right things.”

Related: Could it be Ted Cruz and Mitt Romney dueling for the GOP nomination in 2016? Hugh Hewitt seems to think so.

Distaff Punkers for Freedom!

February 13th, 2014 - 8:42 pm

“Exene Cervenka of L.A. Punk Band X Moving to Texas Because California Has Become ‘A Liberal Oppressive Police State and Regulations and Taxes and Fees.’” Brian Doherty writes at Reason, quoting this passage from Rolling Stone:

…when I moved to California in 1976, Jerry Brown was governor. It was barefoot hippie girls, Hell’s Angels on the Sunset Strip, East L.A. lowriders, the ocean and nature. It was this fabulous incredible place about freedom. Now when I think about California, I think of a liberal oppressive police state and regulations and taxes and fees. I’d rather go someplace and have my own little place out on the edge of town. I’m a country girl at heart. It makes me happy when I see people in Texas open-carrying. It makes me feel safe. I’m not even a gun owner, but I’d like to see a gun rack in every pickup truck, like my boyfriend had when I was fifteen years old in Florida. An armed society is a polite society.”

She cracks a smile. “Now Jerry Brown’s governor again. He’s done some great things, like balancing the budget and libraries are open on Sundays. But things are getting to the point in this country where people are going to have to fight to survive and fight for their rights.”

And that’s on top of Maureen Tucker, Tea Partier, as Michael Moynihan wrote at Reason in the fall of 2010:

[F]ormer Velvet Underground drummer Moe Tucker was spotted at a Georgia Tea Party protest, telling a local reporter that she is “furious about the way we are being led towards socialism.” Prefix magazine calls this “depressing” news that will “bring you down” before the weekend, because it’s incumbent upon all musicians—especially those in seminal proto-punk bands like VU—to have roughly the same, boring lefty politics. Deviate from the acceptable ideology (Guevara t-shirts are fine, as is anything related to 9/11 “truth”) and a bunch of kids born in the 1980s will have their weekends ruined.

And they sure did — as some unfortunate soul admitted in October of 2010 at the Independent Film Channel’s Website after Tucker  epatered his bourgeois brain:

I’m still in shock from reading this news on Stereogum about primitivist drummer and doll-voiced Velvet, Moe Tucker being a Tea Party fanatic. Say it ain’t so Moe.

It’s like finding out that Henry Rollins has just been wearing a fake muscle suit all these years and he’s really a skinny, mild-mannered pushover. Moe’s strayed a long way off from being in a band at the center of 1960′s and 70′s American counter culture. She’s best known for her unrelenting, tribal drumming style of the time — opting to take her bass drum, turn it upright and pound away on it with mallets like a maniac.

Now she’s out at rally’s with poorly dressed people who can’t get their facts straight, yelling about socialism. This is one of the farthest falls from cool in music history.

Totalitarianism=cool? That’s not what I remember the Velvets being about, particularly since, to paraphrase Brian Eno, only 30,000 people bought the Velvet Underground’s first album — but everyone who did started his own band. (A little late to the party, but I was one of them, believe it or not.)

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‘Best Commercial Ever!’

February 13th, 2014 - 4:12 pm

“Cadillac tells lazy French leftists to get stuffed! Love it!” Like Andrew Klavan, I also got a capitalist kick out of message of this Cadillac commercial — if you’re going to sell a hybrid that isn’t a Prius, make its commercial the most pro-American ad you can write. I’m only half surprised that GM didn’t cast Michael Douglas dressed up in one of his Gordon Gekko suits, a power tie, and trademark horizontal-striped shirt. But no need — as left-leaning Jalopnik quips, “This Cadillac ELR Ad Will Make You Hate Electric Car Buyers.”

I only wish General Motors walked the walk as well as their pitchmen talk it. As Jonah Goldberg said in 2009, the period in which General Motors transformed itself — at least for a time — into Government Motors, “the old adage ‘Everyone’s a capitalist on the way up and a socialist on the way down’ is kicking in. The thing is, if you’re a socialist on the way down, you were never really a capitalist on the way up. Capitalism requires putting your own capital at risk.”

But then, this isn’t the first time the message from General Motors diverged from the corporation’s actual practices. Shortly after World War II, GM was at least enough of a capitalist on the way up that it distributed copies of Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom. Only to eventually gun the motor so hard down that very same road to serfdom that by the start of the 21st century, as Jonah wrote in 2008′s Liberal Fascism, “There’s a reason liberal economists joke that General Motors is a health-care provider that makes cars as an industrial by-product,” foreshadowing GM’s bailout by the Obama administration the following year.

On the other hand, this new ad could foreshadow events this fall, as we’ll explore right after the page break.

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GOP Recaptures San Diego Mayor’s Office

February 12th, 2014 - 11:16 am

“Obama Turnout Machine Crashes in San Diego — Loses Mayor’s Race by Nine Points,” John Fund writes at NRO:

Kevin Faulconer recaptured the mayor’s office in San Diego for Republicans in a special election yesterday. The polls were skin-tight leading into yesterday’s election, and unions poured in millions to keep control in the nation’s eighth-largest city.

But in the end the vaunted Obama election model — flood the zone with negative attack ads and excite the base of the Democratic party — flopped. Faulconer defeated fellow City Council member David Alvarez by nine points in a city that Barack Obama carried by 63 percent to 37 percent only 15 months ago.

Democrats were stunned at the margin. In the November open primary, Democrats had won 54 percent of the ballots cast and were convinced they could win the runoff between Faulconer and Alvarez. Unions pitched in a record $4.2 million to promote Alvarez, compared to only $1.7 million from business interests backing Faulconer. In the end, Alvarez outspent Faulconer in total by a million dollars.

Partly the Faulconer blowout was the result of the lower turnout of a special election called to replace disgraced Democratic Mayor Bob Filner. But partly it came from a renewed ability of Republicans to reach out to independent and moderate voters with the need to practice fiscal restraint and sound management. “It’s been less than a decade since public-employee unions drove San Diego into near-insolvency, and people were reminded of that,” says Jason Roe, a political consultant in San Diego.

From DC to Detroit to San Diego, that’s the Blue State model, coupled with, as Rand Paul has been reminding voters recently their War on Women, personified in San Diego by Bob Filner. As Glenn Reynolds adds, some of the result in today’s election result “is probably Filner fallout. Dems better hope that all of it is Filner fallout, because otherwise it suggests a severely damaged brand.”

RIP, Jasper Lileks

February 3rd, 2014 - 12:05 pm

I never got to meet Jasper the dog, but I did get to talk with him on the phone. Well, sort of at least. Back in November of 2005, when I interviewed James Lileks for PJ Media in its very formative stages, I had unknowingly reached James during one of Minneapolis’s monthly tests of is hurricane warning sirens. I can’t find the interview online (Update: reprinted here), but here’s how it began:

James Lileks often seems to luxuriate in the past, but I was still rather surprised when I spoke with him on the phone, to catch him standing outside his South Minneapolis home seemingly reliving a scene from 1964’s Dr. Strangelove.

“Hold on a second — it appears we’re under nuclear attack” he tells me. “Hear that?”  And indeed, even through the phone, I could hear sirens wailing.

“It’s actually the monthly test of the local emergency sirens. But for dogs, this must be like hearing God!”

Even on my end of the connection, Jasper the dog’s howling and moaning cut through the siren and static, in a contrapuntal harmony with the siren not unlike the Gregorian modes of medieval monks. Or maybe Grace Slick of the early Jefferson Airplane.

“That’s Jasper”, Lileks says. “It’s like a homing beacon for dogs. The Great Wolf In The Sky is calling, and they just love it! It’s an ancient ancestral thing, he’s got his snout proudly in the air, and he’s pining away!”

Last night at the gym, I was finishing up on the treadmill, when I decided to click over to the Bleat, expecting the usual Monday morning merriment from James; instead, as soon as I saw the headline — “Elegy,” — and the accompanying video tribute to Jasper, I knew what had happened. And I had to stop reading instantly. Because I wasn’t sure what would have been worse if I had continued on: walking out of a gym balling my eyes out, or having to actually explain to someone there that I was crying over a dog who I knew from the Internet who had died. But I guarantee you, especially if you’ve ever owned a pet, that you will too, reading Lileks’ moving tribute to the proud defender of Jasperwood.

Did I say RIP in my headline? I probably shouldn’t have — I suspect things are far too frenetic in Doggie Heaven for its residents to actually get much sleep.

Abuse Their Illusions

January 27th, 2014 - 11:20 am

“How Americans can kill Obamacare, legalize pot” is explored by Glenn Reynolds in his USA Today column. “Nobody is signing up, and everybody — in Colorado,at least — is smoking:”

In his excellent book, Two Cheers For Anarchism, Professor James Scott writes:

One need not have an actual conspiracy to achieve the practical effects of a conspiracy. More regimes have been brought, piecemeal, to their knees by what was once called ‘Irish Democracy,’ the silent, dogged resistance, withdrawal, and truculence of millions of ordinary people, than by revolutionary vanguards or rioting mobs.

That seems to be happening right now, in two very different areas. In one area, we have the refusal of people to sign up for Obamacare in anything like the numbers that were predicted, or needed to make it work.

And regarding cannabis in Colorado, “the state, and millions of Coloradans, are simply ignoring the federal law and, in essence, daring the feds to do something about it,” Glenn goes on to add.

I remember plenty of Irish Democracy during the Jimmy Carter seventies, the last time a Keynesian-based out-of-touch federal government was at its over-regulatory zenith. Like today, a then-newly emerged electronic communication technology was used by many to end-run government restrictions on freedom — and fun.

Not to be confused with “Chinese Democracy,” the 2008 Guns & Roses album with the endless gestation period, during which Axl Rose morphed into Paul Williams so slowly, everyone noticed.

Related: “Connecticut scrambles for amnesty plan after realizing that citizens are refusing to register their ‘assault weapons’ and ‘high capacity’ magazines.”

Volokh Conspiracy Takes the Boeing

January 21st, 2014 - 1:48 pm

“Very interesting day at The Washington Post. Left-wing Ezra Klein is out and the much-respected conservative legal blog, The Volokh Conspiracy, is in,” John Nolte writes at Big Journalism. Already the Jeff Bezos era is becoming an interesting one.”  John links to this press release from the Washington Post

The Washington Post today announced a partnership with The Volokh Conspiracy, a blog that covers law, public policy, politics, culture and other topics.

Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA, founded the blog in April 2002, and it quickly became a regular destination for Supreme Court junkies, academics, and anyone interested in law and national issues.  Most of the contributors are law professors, and include some of the top legal scholars in the nation.

Their expertise covers free speech, religious freedom, guns, criminal procedure, environmental law, business law, national security law, and much more.  Some of the contributors also have extensive records in government service, and in high-profile Supreme Court litigation: they include a former federal judge; one of the chief architects of the challenge to the Affordable Care Act individual mandate; a former general counsel for the NSA and former Assistant Secretary for Policy at DHS; and a member of the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues.

“In Brazil, you can always find the Amazon — in America, the Amazon finds you,” Eugene Volokh writes in a terrific headline for his first post at the Post. After noting that he started blogging in April of 2002 (that’s right around when I started, incidentally), “In the course of these years, we’ve tried various experiments:”

We’re now trying what might be the most ambitious experiment yet: a joint venture with the Washington Post. The Post will host our blog, and pass along its content to Post readers (for instance, by occasionally linking to our stories from the online front page). We will continue to write the blog, and Volokh.com will still take you here.

We will also retain full editorial control over what we write. And this full editorial control will be made easy by the facts that we have (1) day jobs, (2) continued ownership of our trademark and the volokh.com domain, and (3) plenty of happy experience blogging on our own, should the need arise to return to that.

The main difference will be that the blog, like the other Washingtonpost.com material, will be placed behind the Post’s rather permeable paywall. We realize that this may cause some inconvenience for some existing readers — we are sorry about that, and we tried to negotiate around it, but that’s the Post’s current approach.

Bolding in original. As John Nolte adds, letting Klein move on and bringing in Volokh “are a huge boost for the Post for a few reasons:”

As much as Ezra Klein was worshipped by others in the elite media, he badly damaged the Post’s credibility as an objective news outlet. It was unconscionable of the Post to frame Klein’s hysterical leftism and Obama water-carrying as objective analysis and reporting. Klein is a wild-eyed Statist, and a wildly dishonest one to boot.

Bringing on the Volokh Conspiracy will not only give the Post the sorely needed voices of legitimate conservatives, but unlike Klein the Volokh Conspiracy won’t attempt to hide their ideology.  That is a two-fer for the Post and anyone who believes in objective journalism and a diversity of opinions, worldviews, and backgrounds.

A diversity of opinions — what a novel concept for a newspaper that only a few short and disastrous years ago declared “We Are All Socialists Now.” Congrats to the Volokh Conspiracy to helping add a small amount of diversification to what had threatened to become a real conspiracy.

Incidentally, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, who once bizarrely described the Post at its near-monolithically leftwing peak as “so neocon I can hardly read it” won’t like the addition of Volokh one bit. But then, anything that ruins Chris Matthews’ day is usually a good thing for the rest of the nation.

Quote of the Day

January 17th, 2014 - 4:58 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.

Interview: Hugh Hewitt on The Happiest Life

January 16th, 2014 - 11:30 pm

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In order to write his latest book, Hugh Hewitt looked back over his 25-year broadcast career and 10,000 or so interviews to “reverse engineer” the lives of the people who in his estimation “had the happiest demeanor and the most ebullient step and what was it about them that made for the common denominators of their attitude towards living,” Hugh tells me in our new interview, discussing  The Happiest Life: Seven Gifts, Seven Givers, and the Secret to Genuine Success. “And so whether it was George W. Bush or Julie Andrews or, you know, Tony Blair, or a Pulitzer winner, like Lawrence Wright, who was happy and why?  It’s a pretty good question, actually, to pursue for anyone.”

In the introduction to his new book, Hugh wrote:

My life is now fifty-eight years along, an age by which my two grandmothers had both waved good-bye to this world. Fifty-eight was barely the third quarter for my Gramps, A. T. Rohl, who made it on his own wheels and in his own house to the age of 101. My other grandfather, for whom I was named and to whom I owe a few thousand chuckles from long-distance operators and call-center handlers, made it to ninety-one. Whether I have inherited my grandmothers’ brevity genes or A. T.’ s and Grandfather Hugh’s long-distance DNA remains to be seen; but in either case, it is time to write down my observations on the secrets to being, for the most part, happy.

Let me hasten to explain that “for the most part.” As you might have guessed, it is a key qualifier, a very important one. Nobody gets out of here without pain or sorrow along the way. “Nobody has the perfect package,” said my pal Coach Jerry again and again, who like all coaches was a font of condensed wisdom, repeated often. This hard reality about the inevitability of hardship and grief is crucial to the happiness that the seven gifts make possible. Which gifts? I’m coming to those.

As I noted above, I began this book with my three children in mind, with the hope that it would contribute to their happiness and their children’s. It is about the seven genuine gifts that they can give and receive from each other and from others— especially their own spouses and children— and why I believe the act of giving those gifts produces happiness.

During our interview, Hugh will discuss:

● Why he wants fellow talk radio host and happiness author Dennis Prager arrested!

● What role does religion play in achieving happiness?

● Does Hugh know people who are happy without faith? (Answer: Yes.)

● Was former President Richard Nixon, Hugh’s early former employer, a happy man?

● What is the relationship of over-diagnosis of mental illness and happiness?

● Is being happy hindered by a societal prejudice against that simple positive emotion?

● Who is the least emotional politician on the world stage? (And no, it’s not Obama.)

● What’s Hugh’s early prognosis for the GOP and November of 2014?

● The origins and meaning of Hugh’s catchphrase, “Morning Glory, Evening Grace”…finally revealed!

And much more. Click here to listen:

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

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The Ewoks Get Shirts!

December 30th, 2013 - 9:32 pm

Congratulations to ten years in the Blogosphere to Ace of Spades. As Stacy McCain writes:

Back when I was working the national desk at the Washington Times, I’d read Ace of Spades and say, “Wow. That looks like fun. He’s writing about politics and making dirty jokes. I could do that.”

So after I actually quit my job and started blogging, Ace’s inspiration was alway there. R.D. Brewer takes us on a trip via the Wayback Machine to the AOSHQ Primitive Era, before he got all respectable and shit.

George W. Bush was in the White House, Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, Howard Dean was running around Iowa as if he were a Serious Contender, and it was safe to ridicule Democrats while making masturbation jokes.

Good times, my friends, good times.

Alas, Karl Rove’s Permanent Republican Majority proved to be not quite so permanent, and the Era of Grim Seriousness has overtaken us. Ace still manages to crack a joke now and then, but we’ll probably never return to the carefree days of yore.

Read the whole thing, and then drop by Ace’s blog to congratulate him for ten years of Blogospheric awesomeness. That’s just the f***ing way it is.

Merry Christmas!

December 25th, 2013 - 12:06 pm

Mark Steyn in the London Spectator on that most American of songs, Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas:”

In the end, ‘White Christmas’ isn’t a song about snow. They had white Christmases in Temun, Siberia, where Berlin was born, but a white Russian Christmas wouldn’t be the same: It’s not about the weather, it’s about home. In 1942, those GIs out in the Pacific understood that. Twelve years later, building a new movie named for the song, Berlin acknowledged the men who made it special, in the best staging in the picture: Bing singing in the rubble, accompanied only by Danny Kaye’s musical box, as the boys rest their chins on their rifle butts and think of home. Berlin couldn’t have predicted Pearl Harbor, but there’s no surprise that, once it had happened, his were the sentiments the country turned to.

Christmas was not kind to Irving Berlin. At 5 o’clock on the morning of Christmas Day 1928, his 31/2-week-old son, Irving Junior, was found dead in his bassinet. ‘I’m sure,’ his daughter Mary Ellin told me a few years back, ‘it was what we would now call “crib death”.’

Does that cast ‘White Christmas’ in a different light? The plangent melancholy the GIs heard in the tune, the unsettling chromatic phrase, the eerie harmonic darkening under the words ‘where children listen’; it’s not too fanciful to suggest the singer’s dreaming of children no longer around to listen. When the girls grew up and left home, Irving Berlin, symbol of the American Christmas, gave up celebrating it. ‘We both hated Christmas,’ Mrs Berlin said later. ‘We only did it for you children.’

To take a baby on Christmas morning mocks the very meaning of the day. And to take Irving Berlin’s seems an even crueller jest — to reward his uncanny ability to articulate the sentiments of his countrymen by depriving him of the possibility of sharing them.

Berlin was a professional Tin Pan Alleyman, but his story, his Christmas is there in the music. 23 years after his death, he embodies all the possibilities of America: his family arrived at Ellis Island as poor and foreign and disadvantaged as you can be, and yet he wove himself into the very fabric of the nation. His life and his art are part of the definition of America. Whatever his doubts about God, Berlin kept faith with his adopted land — and that faith is what millions heard 70 years ago in ‘White Christmas’.

Pour yourself an eggnog and read the whole thing.

And some various and sundry Christmas-related items we’ve linked to over the years. First up, Chris Muir’s Day by Day:

From Hot Air‘s boss emeritus:

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Neo-Neocon: “Twas the bloggers’ night before Christmas.”

Orrin Judd has lots of Christmas-related posts. Just keep scrolling.

From Reason TV via Instapundit, it’s Christmas, TSA-style! (Shudder.)

From Claire Berlinski at Ricochet, Happy Jewish Christmas!

And from Gabriel Malor at Ace of Spades, some parting words (at least for now) from a Mister L. van Pelt:

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(Originally posted last year.)

Update: If Santa hasn’t arrived yet, he sends his apologies for running late.

‘Mazel Tov, Christians!’

December 24th, 2013 - 4:49 pm

“As a Jew, and a religious one at that, I want to wish my fellow Americans a Merry Christmas,” writes Dennis Prager today:

Not “Happy Holidays.” Merry Christmas.

I write, “my fellow Americans” because, as reported by the Pew Research poll released just last Wednesday, nine in ten Americans say they celebrate Christmas.

Apparently, many Americans have forgotten that Christmas is not only a Christian holy day, but also an American national holiday. Just as we wish one another a “Happy Thanksgiving” or a “Happy Fourth,” so, too, we should wish fellow Americans a “Merry Christmas.”

It doesn’t matter with which religion or ethnic group you identify; Christmas in America is as American as the proverbial apple pie. That is why some of the most famous and beloved Christmas songs were written by . . . guess who? Jews.

“White Christmas” was written by Irving Berlin (birth name: Israel Isidore Baline).

“Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” — Johnny Marks.

“Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” — composed by Jule Styne, lyrics by Sammy Cahn.

“Silver Bells” — by Jay Livingston (Jacob Harold Levison) and Ray Evans (Raymond Bernard Evans).

And one of my favorites, which, ever since Ricochet’s “GLOP” podcast with Jonah Goldberg, Rob Long and John Podhoretz dusted it off last week to end the show, I have going through my head on a Mobius loop for some reason. In any case, it’s certainly one of Saturday Night Live’s better recent bits:

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Get Mia Love!

December 17th, 2013 - 12:52 pm

“Breaking: House Democrat Jim Matheson retires, clearing the way for Mia Love,” Allahpundit writes, who notes that the Utah Congressional seat shifts from “Leans Democratic” to “Likely Republican” in polling:

Big news for two reasons. One: Republican Frank Wolf, who represents increasingly blue northern Virginia, announced earlier today that he was retiring after 34 years. That’s a golden opportunity for Democrats to turn the House slightly bluer — or was, before Matheson’s retirement canceled it out. Two: If Love wins the seat, she’d be the first black woman elected to Congress as a Republican. The GOP naturally wants to make that happen to help rebrand itself as a more racially diverse party, which is one reason why she got a speaking slot at the convention last year. Grassroots righties I know like her a lot too, although she got some static last month when she seemed to inch away from the “tea party” label and criticized Mike Lee’s “defund” tactics (as did a lot of other Utahns). When the Blaze noticed, she issued a statement trying to smooth things over. Hmmm.

Allahpundit writes that she could be primaried by one of Romney’s sons or one of the Huntsmans, and Twitchy also rounds up numerous Twitter users noting that a likely-R seat will bring plenty of primary competition. However, as Allah notes, “The national party will do whatever it can to clear the field for her. Stay tuned.”

Obligatory Allahpundit-style exit quote:

mia_love_tweet_12-17-13

It’s a Wonderful Fountainhead

December 16th, 2013 - 12:20 am

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.

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Quote of the Day

November 28th, 2013 - 1:05 pm

Yes, I miss him, too.

Related: “Thoughts on Mom’s Arrival in Heaven, and Thanksgiving 2013,” from Tom Blumer, elsewhere at PJM. Which hit particularly home for me, since the last time I saw my 87 year old mother before the accident that wound up placing her in hospice care, was Thanksgiving of 2011.