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Ed Driscoll

Hollywood, Interrupted

Lionel Hutz Lives!

October 20th, 2014 - 3:22 pm

“Is Tito ’s Handmade Vodka really handmade? Would it taste any less good if it weren’t anymore?”

But in the summer of 2013, Forbes published “The Troubling Success Of Tito’s Handmade Vodka.” As its author Meghan Casserly explains, “Tito’s has exploded from a 16-gallon pot still in 1997 to a 26-acre operation that produced 850,000 cases last year, up 46 percent from 2011, pulling in an estimated $85 million in revenue.” She also describes “massive buildings containing ten floor-to-ceiling stills and bottling 500 cases an hour.”

So it was inevitable: On Sept. 15, lawyers representing Gary Hofmann in California filed a class-action lawsuit, alleging that Tito’s “manufactured, marketed, and/or sold . . . ‘Tito’s Handmade’ Vodka to the California general public with the false representation that the Vodka was ‘handmade’ when, in actuality, the Vodka is made via a highly-mechanized process that is devoid of human hands.”

This is why Americans can’t have nice things. Or as Lionel Hutz told Homer when the notorious cartoon trencherman was kicked out of an all-you-can-eat restaurant for taking them at their word, “Mr. Simpson, this is the most blatant case of false advertising since my suit against the movie The Neverending Story!”

How was Hunter Biden, Joe Biden’s son fast-tracked for a naval commission at age 43(!) before allegedly testing positive for cocaine? The Weekly Standard’s Philip Terzian notes that the military have long been willing to take in the sons and friends of politicians:

The irony, of course, is that minor political scandals have erupted in the past over such questions. In 2000, the circumstances of George W. Bush’s service as a pilot in the Texas Air National Guard became a campaign issue. So did the promotion, in 1940, of President Franklin Roosevelt’s son Elliott to captain in the Army Air Corps. Abraham Lincoln’s eldest son Robert was criticized for his non-combatant status as a staff officer during the Civil War.

A more instructive parallel, however, might be to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, of all people. When one of McCarthy’s Senate aides, G. David Schine, was drafted into the Army and sent to basic training at Ft. Monmouth, N.J., Roy Cohn, another McCarthy aide and reputedly Schine’s lover, intervened persistently to obtain an officer’s commission for Schine. When the Army protested about repeated threats and interference from the senator’s office, McCarthy charged that the Army was attempting to retaliate against his investigations into communist subversion in the armed forces. The televised hearings that were held during April-June 1954 to investigate the matter — the famous Army-McCarthy hearings — not only revealed that McCarthy and his staff had repeatedly wielded their influence on behalf of Schine, but had done so despite Schine’s complete lack of qualifications for an officer’s commission.

The differences between Joseph McCarthy and Joseph Biden are self-evident, of course. But just as the effort to make G. David Schine an Army officer taught the country something about Senator McCarthy, so the brief, inglorious naval career of Hunter Biden tells us something about Vice President Biden — and the culture of entitlement in political Washington that has tarnished the Navy.

As a footnote to the above, Schine was something of a Zelig figure in his post-McCarthy days, as blogger Tom McMahon noted in 2008:

G. David Schine: Assistant to Senator Joseph McCarthy, Executive Producer of The French Connection, Part Owner of the Ambassador Hotel Where RFK Was Shot, Married to Miss Universe 1955, Purveyor of Bubble Gum Music, and Had A Cameo On the Batman TV Show.

I hope Hunter Biden goes on to have as varied and interesting a career.

Exit question: If Biden’s son was kicked out the military in February, why are we only hearing about it now?

Hypocrisy Never Sleeps

October 14th, 2014 - 7:23 pm

“Neil Young: Forget ISIS, Fight Climate Change Instead,” as spotted by  Joel Pollak at Big Hollywood:

YOUNG: The things that we don’t know, you know, we can do little things to fight climate change. And yet our army and our armed forces are the biggest CO2 providers into the world, they just…it’s amazing. And yet we are fighting what? ISIS…

HOWARD STERN: What do you think about that?

YOUNG: …al-Qaeda. And we are fighting these wars against these organizations and their carbon footprint has got to be like 1% of our huge army and our navy and all of this stuff that have with all our big machines. We’re doing more damage to the earth with our wars.

If “we can do little things to fight climate change,” here’s a great place to start:

Neil has his own private P.A and a Yamaha mixer. He has a separate microphone that’s not connected to the house for each amp, and he can mix these to any level he wants. He mainly hears Deluxe, a lot of Baldwin, and very little Magnatone. Out front and on record, you can hear mostly Deluxe and Magnatone. Inside the big speaker cabinet to the audience’s right are 2 two-way Maryland Sound P.A. cabinets with 2 15s and a horn apiece. These cabinets have 2000 watts of biamped power, and gets turned excruciatingly loud. It just kills me to go out there-I just about get knocked over. And that’s what Neils hearing. This produces the feedback, and if we didn’t have that on, the sound wouldn’t be the same.

If the situation is so dire that it’s necessary to fight the weather rather than Islamofascist headchoppers, doesn’t Neil need to set the pace, retire from touring and shrink his own carbon footprint down to the smallest number possible? Perhaps order his record company to voluntarily stop printing his CDs, and withdrawing his mp3s from Amazon.com and iTunes? I would be more inclined to believe global warming is a crisis when the people who tell me it’s a crisis start to act like it’s a crisis themselves, to coin an Insta-phrase.

Besides, didn’t we all see this movie before, a decade ago? “It’s a peculiar thing that as the threat of global terrorism reaches a crescendo, so apparently does the threat of global warming — at least that’s what some would have us believe…”

Looking for Reality in All the Wrong Places

October 11th, 2014 - 9:51 pm

“NBC Courting Jon Stewart” for Meet the Press? “Limbaugh Serves Up Scathing Takedown” in response, Jack Coleman writes at NewsBusters. Here’s Limbaugh’s conclusion, but definitely read the whole thing:

So a comedian finds fault with the regime, Jon Stewart blasts government before state-controlled media and what this does is now give permission to other Obama stenographers to go out and get mad at the regime. Why else is this news? Have you ever heard of this? When’s the last time what Johnny Carson said that was a news story, or Letterman? It was a news story. Might be water cooler chit-chat the next day but a news story. So comedians now, and of course what are comedians, they’re jokes, they don’t deal in reality either, by definition. Now there has to be a grain of it for comedy to be funny, but comedians are now the 21st century journalists for the far left. For the left, comedians are source authorities. Comedians are gradually replacing the New York Times, the Washington Post, CBS, NBC, PBS, ABC, CNN as the arbiters of when Democrats can be held accountable and when they can’t be. So if you want to know when the drive-bys are going to harp on Obama, pay attention to the comedians. When they do, it’s a signal to the drive-bys that it’s OK to. It’s very pathetic and it’s how you end up with low-information voters who don’t know what the hell is going, it’s how you end up with millennials down on the country, down on themselves, rather than on the people responsible for the mess that we live in and that’s the Democrat party.

In the coda of his post, Coleman adds:

Even though Stewart declined NBC’s offer, assuming the New York magazine story is accurate, I wouldn’t rule out a similar scenario in the future for precisely the reasons Limbaugh is citing. A comedian named Al Franken once performed on “Saturday Night Live” and somehow wormed his way into the Senate. (Yes, by theft). Jon Stewart hosting a Sunday talk show isn’t nearly as big a leap.

Especially since the network that pursued Stewart was the same network that originally gave birth to the concept of the faux newsman — and launched Franken’s career as well. I wonder if Lorne Michaels, the creator and producer of Saturday Night Live realizes how much his now middle-aged and reactionary creation has influenced both NBC and the leftwing establishment television overculture in its entirety?

The Jurassic Streisand Effect

October 10th, 2014 - 5:48 am

Nowadays, the term “The Streisand Effect” is a popular Internet meme to describe the blowback that occurs when a person with an enormous – and often self-destructive – ego uses his or her power vindictively. (You can read about in Wikipedia, and then read how they’ve suffered from their own Streisand Effect.) In a 1976 New Yorker article, Academy Award Winning writer/director Frank Pierson described the nightmare of working with Streisand and her boyfriend Jon Peters, whose improbable career arc took him from being Streisand’s hairdresser to producing the original Michael Keaton Batman movie for Warner Brothers, to running Columbia Pictures:

“What about the cameraman? Who is he? What has he done?” [Streisand] asks.

“Bob Surtees? He won three Oscars, thirteen nominations.” I say.

“He’s old. We should have someone young on this picture. What does he know about backlight? Did he sign his contract’?” asks Barbra. Yes, I say. She lets it go.

* * * * * * * *

A movie set, as Orson Welles was the first to say, is the most wonderful electric train a boy was ever given to play with. What he failed to add was that most of the time it doesn’t work. You tinker, wheedle, stick in bent pins, tape it up with Band-Aids and spit, and it runs in fits and starts when it damn well pleases. Actors can’t, won’t, never will be able to say crucial lines; lights fail, time runs out, cameras break, tempers flare. I approach it with detachment, watching carefully the direction in which the flow of errors and accidents, improvisations and corrections is taking us. Barbra resents it terribly: It is a limitation of power, beyond the reach of her desperate need for control.

There is a moment for writers when their characters seem to assume a life of their own, beyond the will of the writer: we have reached the equivalent moment for a director, when the actors become one with their roles. It is a moment, in Bertolucci’s words, to “throw away the script and set sail on a sea of improvisation.” I would not go so far, being a writer myself, and because this script is unusually carefully crafted. And because Barbra in many ways is more loyal to the script and the words than I. She feels I am too permissive, “too nice” to actors. “You have to be hard on them,” she says. “They’ll walk all over you!”

* * * * * * * *

In dailies, Barbra’s mood swoops and plunges with every nuance of light on her cheekbone or unexpected camera move. “There! My God, look at her she’s beautiful!” we shout. Or a bit of staging she doesn’t like plunges her into a despair and rage that is vomited back in a savage attack: “This is shit! God what are we going to do! I told you not to do that, why did you do it? It’s wrong!” Everything is seen in terms of right or wrong: there is no personal preference, nuance or shading. The crew and staff drop out of screenings as the critical battles escalate, and even Surtees no longer comes.

* * * * * * *

Kris, uptight about press, worried over his music, is tense, angry over her interference. His new record has just come out and been panned by Rolling Stone and most everyone else. He’s drinking tequila washed down with cold beer.

Barbra rehearses with the band on her numbers and uses up Kris’s time, so he has no rehearsal. Coldly furious, he refuses to come out of his trailer. “Goddamnit!” he says. “I’ve got to go out and play it in front of 60.000 people, but she doesn’t give a damn.”

Barbra and I are trying to explain a minor change; we agree for once, but Kris has had all he can handle. He doesn’t want to be told what to do with his music. He explodes. Barbra explodes. The mikes are open: they are screaming at each other over a sound system that draws complaints from five miles away. The press is delighted. This is what they came for. Sulks in trailers. Jon Peters threatening Kris. Kris talking tougher. The director knocking on trailer doors, playing Kissinger. Notable quotes. Quotable notables. You read about it in Time.

Read about it here, and read the whole schadenfreude-laced thing.

H/T:

And Thus, NBC Comes Full Circle

October 9th, 2014 - 10:00 pm

“NBC reportedly tried to lure left-wing comedian Jon Stewart to host Meet the Press,” Tony Lee writes at Big Journalism:

Seriously.

According to a report in New York magazine, before giving the job to Chuck Todd, whom many saw as the rightful heir to the late Tim Russert, “NBC News president Deborah Turness held negotiations with Jon Stewart about hosting Meet the Press,” and the network reportedly offered Stewart “virtually anything” and “were ready to back the Brink’s truck up.”

Stewart, a rabid left-wing ideologue, is only funny to liberals who find “Pajama Boy” endearing. His schtick rarely works with without extensive–and deceptive–edits, which would not make him effective on a program that the late Russert made venerable and was once the gold standard among Sunday morning talk shows. And NBC’s courtship of Stewart may indicate that some of the network’s executives no longer even care about objectivity in the pursuit of cheap ratings.

That NBC’s executives long-ago eschewed objectivity should be obvious; hard-left MSNBC, the home of Al Sharpton, Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes is their subsidiary channel after all. But assuming the report in New York magazine is accurate, it means that MSNBC’s parent channel has officially come full circle: this was the channel that launched Chevy Chase’s career via his weekly appearance as a faux newscaster during the first season of Saturday Night Live in 1975. That show was produced from its start by Lorne Michaels (with the exception of approximately five years in the 1980s when Michaels had departed the show). In addition to producing SNL, Michaels is also the head of NBC’s late-night programming. By attempting to woo another faux-journalist from a show that’s basically Weekend Update on steroids to host a hard news show, Michaels’ touch would have extended to its news division as well.

As original Saturday Night Live writer Anne Beatts liked to quip, “you can only be avant-garde for so long, before you become garde.” Or palace guard, in the case of Jon Stewart, and Michaels himself, since he has allowed Mr. Obama veto power over jokes on SNL.

Related: RIP late ’80s SNL cast member Jan Hooks, who passed away recently from an extended illness at the far too young age of 57.

Quote of the Day

October 6th, 2014 - 6:48 pm


From “Right Behind Ya,” Anthony Sacramone’s very funny review of the new Nicholas Cage remake(!) of Left Behind. (Sacramone had the recent review of the third Atlas Shrugged movie, which he dubbed “the  libertarian Left Behind,” which is loads of fun as well. (The review, not necessarily the underlying movie.))

Generation Blank

October 6th, 2014 - 12:29 pm

Hello, Our Mothers. Hello, Our Fathers. Here we are in Concentration Camp Grenada.

You never know what sort of flotsam and jetsam will show up on Netflix Streaming, and I’m sure everyone who clicks through the site, whether on their PC or their HDTV set-top box, knows the feeling of stumbling over something late at night, clicking the play button, and slowly starting to wonder, “Why the hell am I watching this — and why can’t I turn it off?”

Over the weekend I found myself binging late at night on the four and half-hour 2013 German mini-series Our Mothers, Our Fathers (in the original German, Unsere Mütter, Unsere Väter) released in America as Generation War. And it was almost immediately apparent what was coming. In America and England, World War II history, whether in the form of books, TV, or movies, is crafted by the victors, and when it comes to movies and TV, World War II is, for better or worse, the only war that (a) the public can be reliably expected to tune in (World War I films are much more hit and miss at the box office) and (b) unlike the wars in Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East, there’s a near-unanimous consensus that we should have fought WWII, we were the good guys, and it’s a damn good thing we won.

In Germany, of course, WWII history is crafted by the losers, and there’s simultaneously an enormous shame over their actions and an enormous cultural industry to explain them away. Not really to justify them, but to transform the nation that fielded the most powerful army in the world in 1939 into victims.

As Uri Klein writes at Haaretz, in many ways, Generation War updates the formula that Erich Maria Remarque popularized in All Quiet on the Western Front, his novel set in the Germany of the first World War. Klein’s article is titled “Nostalgic German TV series takes history out of WW2.” Spot on; right from the start, Generation War plays fast and incredibly loose with history.

The miniseries begins by establishing its cast, four Germans in their late teens or early 20s, who in 1941 are about to set off on their wartime adventures on the Eastern Front. They meet after hours at a bar in Berlin where Greta, one of the friends – and it really quickly does start to feel like an episode of Friends set in Nazi Germany – works as a waitress and budding chanteuse. The four Aryan friends are joined by their fifth buddy, Viktor. Five minutes into Generation War, the miniseries begins with the biggest of the big lies, to coin a Teutonic phrase, as Adam Kirsch noted in his well-written review in February at the New Republic

The fifth member of the group is, for the film’s purposes, the most important of all. He is Viktor Goldstein, and yes, he is a Jew—a Jew who is the bosom friend of four young Aryans in Nazi Berlin in 1941, and the lover of one of them, the heedless Greta. Now, these young Germans are supposed to be about twenty when the film begins, which means that they were twelve when Hitler took power. For eight years they would have been subjected to Nazi propaganda; they would have been members of the Hitler Youth. Would such people really accept a Jew like Viktor as a bosom friend? Would they even have a chance to meet him, since Jews had already been expelled from the schools, most jobs, and even public places like parks and zoos? Yet Generation War assures us that this friendship was normal: it was those other Germans who hated Jews, not “our mothers, our fathers.”

Which is a reminder that even the mini-series’ title is an apologia for German audiences, convincing them “Our Mothers, Our Fathers,” particularly as represented by the miniseries’ attractive, well-scrubbed cast, were victims (even as they were rampaging through most of Europe and Russia) – it was the mean and nasty generation before them that duped them all into becoming Nazis.

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Making Sense of #GamerGate

October 2nd, 2014 - 1:00 pm

“I’m a political writer and I don’t pretend to be more than a casual gamer,” Ashten Whited writes at Pocket Full of Liberty, which puts her one up on me. As I’ve said before, I largely retired from videogames when I unplugged my ColecoVision — there are only so many hours in the day. (Though I do have a product review up at the PJ Lifestyle blog this week that hints at the hobby that I also use my computer for.)

“However, I find GamerGate remarkable. I know people express antipathy to bringing politics into GamerGate, and I don’t seek to hijack it, but hear me out: GamerGate is already about politics,” Whited notes. Which is true — the left views everything through a political lens; after all, it’s been their stated opinion for decades that “the personal is political” (is personal, to complete the Mobius loop):

’Gamers’ are over,” social justice charioteer Leigh Alexander pronounced smugly.

Mainstream videogames do not cater to feminists’ tastes. That does not mean that women are being “marginalized,” it means they are not the target consumer demographic, as they freely admit when they declare male-oriented games unappealing. Despite this, gamers placate feminists like Anita Sarkeesian who hold gaming culture in disdain and view escapism that is male in nature, such as Call of Duty or rescuing Princess Peach, as a problem that must be eliminated under their magnanimous direction. Feminists especially hold male sexuality in contempt, and are fussily ruffled by voluptuous, pixelated vixens that titillate the “male gaze.”

Radical (read: contemporary) feminists define the problem as men. Thus fantasies of male heroism are slated to be wiped from public consumption. Male chivalry is dead; women are the new white knights. Today’s third wave feminists (or “Third Wave Frustrationists,” as cleverly coined by Milo Yiannopoulos) kvetch the tired refrain, “Feminism is about equality!” It is a transparent Trojan Horse. These feminists are intolerant of masculinity, and their movement is about having power over men. They do not recognize healthy interdependence between the sexes, instead seeing a power struggle. They seek to feminize men and in doing so, masculinize themselves— and they are succeeding, through targeting boys. In public schools, boys are falling increasingly behind in performance, according to scholar Christina Hoff Sommers. In psychiatrists’ offices, young boys are overdiagnosed with ADHD and autism and are “medicated” for being “rambunctious” (i.e. behaviorally modified to fit the prevailing PC norm for how little boys should behave). This ideology is about subjugation, through wheedling, subtle manipulation and emotionally blackmailing rhetoric like “if you’re not a feminist, you’re a misogynist.”

In short, feminism in the West has assumed the features of an authoritarian movement.

But then authoritarianism was in the bloodstream of feminism long before Nolan Bushnell ever set paddle to Pong.

However, according to Jasyn Jones, who blogs at the tastefully named Website “Daddy Warpig’s House of Geekery” (I love it), the “’Gamers’ are over” manifesto has had some very interesting pushback:

You can read a bit of it there on the image, and the rest of it here, but it said (in essence) “Gamers are dead, and good riddance!” After all, gamers are “obtuse shitslingers” whose “only main [sic] cultural signposts” are “Have money. Have women. Get a gun and then a bigger gun.” In short, abuse. And pretty vitriolic and one-sided abuse.

And that same day, in a coincidence so outrageous it staggers the imagination, this happened:

Click over to Jones’ post to see a fascinating example of what appears to be Journolist-style collusion behind the scenes to advance the “gamers are over” narrative, which dovetails into Milo Yiannopoulos’ series of posts at Breitbart London on the videogame journalism industry’s own Journolist scandal. Followed by the aforementioned Leigh Alexander personally insulting her readers on Twitter. As Jones writes, “This isn’t just insulting your customers wholesale, it’s insulting them retail. Personally. One by one. In alphabetical order, for all I know:”

The odd thing is, most gaming media figures have joined her. But there’s a problem, and it’s one I can’t solve: what’s their end game? What do they think they’re accomplishing by insulting the people who provide them with paychecks?

As I see it:

Attack customers -> they leave. No customers, no clicks. No clicks, no ads. No ads, no money. No money, no site.

Is it really all that complicated? You don’t punch your customers in the face repeatedly, and expect them to remain your customers. Doing so anyway is a recipe for bankruptcy. (And is sheer lunacy.)

See also: implosion of MSM organizations that go full-on into social justice warrior mode and insult their customers. By the time the Washington Post was sold to Jeff Bezos last year, as John Nolte noted at Big Journalism, it had lost 87 percent of its value from the prior decade. (Along similar lines, Mark Steyn compared Bezos $250 million acquisition fee last year of one of the most legendary newspapers in the world to the much less influential Worcester Telegram & Gazette in Massachusetts being sold in 1999 for $295 million.) Prior to Bezos’ acquisition, the Post famously unloaded Newsweek for a dollar after its foray into hard left politics caused it to shed most of its readership.

Similarly, the New York Times has been hemorrhaging money since the Howell Raines era; arguably, only Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s financial backing has allowed the Sulzberger family to maintain ownership, but only at the cost of cutting 7.5 percent of its staff (on top of other employee cuts in recent years). And as we noted last night, MSNBC is getting their clocks cleaned in the ratings department; “MSNBC: Best Demo Night In Two Weeks Is ‘Lockup’ Marathon,” Big Journalism reported on Monday.

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Back Off Man, I’m a Scientist

October 2nd, 2014 - 10:59 am

Sean Davis on Neil deGrasse Tyson’s latest effort at walking back his misquote of President Bush:

To sum up: Tyson fabricated a quote from a newspaper headline and to this day has offered zero evidence that this headline exists, other than his memory (you’ll just have to take it on faith). Tyson fabricated a quote from a member of Congress and to this day has offered zero evidence that this quote has been uttered, other than his own insistence that it was privately said in his presence (you’ll need to take that one on faith, too). Nor has Tyson offered any evidence whatsoever to independently corroborate his jury duty story, which, to my knowledge, has at least four different versions (you’ll need to take Tyson’s story about that on faith, too).

Finally, we have a quote that Tyson fabricated about President George W. Bush that Tyson then deliberately used to cast the president in the worst possible light, all so he could get an attaboy ego boost from the know-nothing seal clappers who paid $70 each to be in his audience. And what does he say after weeks of obfuscation and nonsense justification for blatant fabrication in service of an ideological agenda?

“My bad.”

Read the whole thing. I’d compare Tyson to Bill Murray’s aging hipster pseudo-scientist character Peter Venkman in Ghostbusters, but in the end, Venkman and his team came through and saved New York. But that’s Hollywood. Back here in reality, Tyson has done considerable damage to his reputation over the past few weeks after Davis and others (including our own David Steinberg) did yeoman work uncovering his many self-serving misquotes.

Don’t expect the MSM to notice though. At least not immediately.

Related: Rich Lowry on “The Cult of Neil deGrasse Tyson,” at Politico, which as fallen for a few cults of its own.

Vile from New York

September 30th, 2014 - 8:07 pm

Mollie Hemingway of the Federalist deserves an enormous amount of credit — and hazard pay — for watching the vile season debut of Saturday Night Live, so you didn’t have to:

Oh for crying out loud. If you can’t make fun of this president, you should hang up your hat and go work for Everybody Loves Raymond or something. The degree of difficulty is high? Really? I mean, Sarah Palin manages it so it can’t be that hard, right?

Sheesh. As Kyle Smith wrote:

The charter Choom Ganger, confessed eater of dog and snorter of coke. The doofus who thinks the language spoken by Austrians is “Austrian,” that you pronounce the p in “corpsman” and that ATMs are the reason why job growth is sluggish. The egomaniac who gave the queen of England an iPod loaded with his own speeches and said he was better at everything than the people who work for him. The empty suit with so little real-world knowledge that he referred to his brief stint working for an ordinary profit-seeking company as time “behind enemy lines.” The phony who tells everyone he’s from Chicago, though he didn’t live there until his 20s, and lets you know that he’s talking to people he believes to be stupid by droppin’ his g’s. The world-saving Kal-El from a distant solar system who told us he’d heal the planet and cause the oceans to stop rising. The guy who shared a middle name with one of the most hated dictators on earth. Nope, nothing there to mock. No way to get a grip on this polished, oiled obsidian.

My husband and I looked at each other with confusion and disgust as the Weekend Update crowd told President Obama to cheer up and that things would get better. There were lines like, “Benghazi used to be a huge deal, now it’s just John McCain’s safe word,” and suggestions that he go on the road with the real first family, Beyonce and Jay-Z. Jost said that Bush had wrecked the economy, bombed every country with sand and that all he had to do was paint one ok picture of a dog to get back in the country’s good graces. Ha ha! All so funny and fresh!

Back in 2010, Michael J. Lewis of Commentary explored how the original Saturday Night transformed itself during its first three seasons from the politically-laced leftwing comedy of George Carlin (who hosted SNL’s very first show in October of 1975) to the much more apolitical and lighter gags of frequent host Steve Martin. As Lewis noted, this was also the transformation of the 1970s pop culture from the Watergate era and the left’s dark obsession with Nixon to the goofy apolitical, party-hearty disco Star Wars years of 1977 and ’78. This was also the era in which Robin Williams broke through to national success as a comedian, and his first album, Reality, What a Concept is remarkably politics-free. (Even his William F. Buckley impersonation on the album was pretty benign.)

A similar trend happened to the regular cast of Saturday Night Live itself, as Dan Aykroyd’s impersonation of Jimmy Carter was much sweeter and protective of Jimmy Carter’s reputation than his recurring savage Nixon impersonations or Chevy Chase’s impersonations of Gerald Ford as a clumsy, vacuous bumbler. (Not to mention the show’s admitted — and successful — efforts to demonize Ford via his press secretary, who naively volunteered to guest on the show’s first season.) By protecting Carter, Saturday Night Live accidentally allowed itself to flourish as a much more apolitical show than its first season, and Aykroyd, Belushi and Bill Murray all became superstars, as did Steve Martin during his regular guest appearances on the show, and while he never appeared on SNL during its breakthrough first five seasons, so did Williams.

But at least Jimmy Carter had his doofus brother Billy, Miss Lillian, and the family’s assortment of southern stereotypes for comedians to at least mildly goof on. In contrast, Obama has been treated with the most delicate and gossamer of kid gloves, but thanks to PC and the left’s overall descent into nagging humorless puritanical scolds, I don’t see any successors to Steve Martin, Robin Williams, Aykroyd, Belushi or Murray on the horizon anytime soon.

(Headline inspired by former Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales’ 1980 polemic against the disastrous first post-Lorne Michaels season of SNL.)

Peace Protests, RIP

September 28th, 2014 - 3:56 pm

janeane_garofalo_missing_milk_carton_9-28-14-1

“Where are the peaceniks? Why aren’t they marching on Capitol Hill to protest President Barack Obama’s use of military force in Syria and Iraq?”, Debra Saunders asks at Real Clear Politics:

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Kevin Fagan interviewed peace activists who told him that their ranks are numb, in part because America has been at war for more than a decade. Some even wonder whether the Islamic State is so barbaric as to merit airstrikes.

“People are war-weary and have already been very disappointed in President Obama for some time,” Peaceworkers Executive Director David Hartsough said. That’s right; they’re disappointed. After GOP President George W. Bush sent U.S. troops into Iraq with congressional authorization in 2002, activists took to the streets, but after a Democrat ordered airstrikes over Syria without explicit authorization, they’ve been subdued.

“It’s early still, and for the moment, this is an air war and not a ground war,” another progressive told Fagan.

I understand. Partisans on both sides of the aisle like to think that if they were in charge, the world would be a safer place. For eight years, Democrats indulged in the seductive conceit that if they were in charge, the world couldn’t be worse than it was with the bumbling Bush as commander in chief. As Secretary of State John Kerry scoffed as a senator in 2004, Bush ran “the most arrogant, inept, reckless and ideological foreign policy in the modern history of this country.”

Which is a curious admission, since it was merely an extension of the policies of the Democratic administration that preceded it, whose chief architects may well return to power in 2017:

Former actress and comedienne Janeane Garofalo (who incidentally turned 50 today) gave the game away in 2003, as to why when Al Gore was calling for regime change in Iraq and Bill Clinton was bombing , the left was so quiet:

Comedienne-turned-peace-activist Janeane Garofalo offered a stunning admission on Sunday, explaining that she and her fellow anti-war protesters didn’t stage huge demonstrations when President Clinton launched attacks on Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan and the Sudan because “it wasn’t very hip” to protest the former president.

Asked by “Fox News Sunday’s” Tony Snow why peace protesters like herself didn’t object to Clinton’s wars, Garofalo explained:

“I absolutely did. I did not support Operation Desert Fox. It’s just that you didn’t know me very well back then. Nobody really was interested in listening to me back then.”

Then she added, by way of explaining why the anti-Clinton protests never gelled, “It wasn’t very hip.”

Why, it’s as if most “anti-war” groups are in reality “on the other side” or “Just Democratic Party Tools,” — or both.

Update: It looks like we’re going to need a lot more milk cartons:

“Popular scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson responded publicly to an email sent by Sean Davis of The Federalist. You can read it in its entirety on Facebook,” Mollie Hemingway writes at the Federalist, in an article titled “Neil DeGrasse Tyson: Just Trust Me On Those Things I Said, OK?”

Let’s move on to the Bush quote, which is where things get really bad. To Sean’s request that Tyson verify the quote he’s been using against the former president, Tyson notes that September 11th affected him “deeply” and adds:

I have explicit memory of those words being spoken by the President. I reacted on the spot, making note for possible later reference in my public discourse. Odd that nobody seems to be able to find the quote anywhere — surely every word publicly uttered by a President gets logged.

It is odd. Very odd. As is this response. So the basis of his claim for this Bush quote is his own personal notes. But he can’t help any of the rest of us with any of this? What about how drastically this public-quote-heard-only-by-Tyson conflicts with all the public statements of Bush?

No matter. Take this bizarre collection of words:

FYI: There are two kinds of failures of memory. One is remembering that which has never happened and the other is forgetting that which did. In my case, from life experience, I’m vastly more likely to forget an incident than to remember an incident that never happened. So I assure you, the quote is there somewhere. When you find it, tell me. Then I can offer it to others who have taken as much time as you to explore these things.

Wait, he’s “more likely” to forget something than “remember” something that didn’t happen. And because of this self-reported likelihood, he can “assure” us that the quote is somewhere? In addition to Sean’s efforts to verify the quote — which include speaking with all of Bush’s major speechwriters — Tyson’s fanboys have been desperately trying to find any evidence of same.

Read the whole thing. In the above quote from his Facebook page, Tyson writes, “So I assure you, the quote is there somewhere. When you find it, tell me.” Sean Davis responded on Twitter, “Neil Tyson thanked all his FB fans for finding that Columbia quote. It was in the first story I wrote about the fabricated GWB quote.”

As filmmaker Ladd Ehlinger Jr. tweets, “Hey @neiltyson what’s it like being the Dan Rather of Science?”

We’ve all seen this movie before, haven’t we? For a refresher, join us for a flashback to Capt. Dan the Newsman’s self-immolation in September of 2004, right after the page break.

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As we’ve mentioned before, while the byzantine tangents of the “GamerGate” controversy make the story difficult to follow for those of us who aren’t videogame aficionados, the basic thrust of the story is remarkably similar to how the far left MSM reports on sports, politics, and the entertainment industry. Those are the dots that Sonny Bunch  connects in his latest article at the Washington Free Beacon:

Critical groupthink is sometimes an issue, certainly, though more so for documentaries than narrative features.*** And I think it’s fair to say that film writers will often band together in an effort to help smaller fare find an audience. I’m not convinced that writers giving oxygen to a film they enjoy that can’t afford a $30 million advertising campaign is necessarily a horrible thing, but some level of coordination—via listservs, via Twitter, via blog posts—is undeniable. More troubling, at least to me, is the undeniable contempt these writers often have for mainstream audiences.

That contempt—or, perhaps, that perception of contempt—is the connecting thread through all these various contretemps. Gaming journos have contempt for gamers who have no interest in boring quasi-games like Depression Quest. Film writers have contempt for the audiences who make Michael Bay a star. TV writers have contempt for the folks who watch NCIS and CSI and The Big Bang Theory. Sports writers have contempt for those dullards who can’t possibly understand why “Redskins” is the most horribly insulting name evah. They want to make their readers better people, to shape their worldview—and they just can’t understand why their readers are so damn obstinate.

And it’s not at all a new phenomenon. Only the technology has changed — the sophistication of today’s videogames, a media universe that allows for narrowcasted cult TV shows such as Mad Men, Boardwalk Empire or The Leftovers (Sonny links to hilariously PC reviews of the latter two shows in his article), and a platform that allows similarly narrowcasted films and documentaries to reach an audience such as Netflix. But a media that loathes its readers is old as Mencken. Sometimes, as this Washington Post employee did on C-Span two decades ago, they even drop the mask and freely admit “Yeah, I’m With the Media. Screw You:”

Related: As Glenn Reynolds notes, “The people who seek to ‘nudge’ us are also, statistically, far more likely to be greedy, power-hungry, dishonest sociopaths.”

And Now For Something Completely Different

September 24th, 2014 - 2:43 pm

“Jasmine Tridevil: Woman With 3 Boobs Exposed As A Phony.” Unexpectedly!

The thieves were reportedly caught after being ID’d by surveillance video. And the black nylon bag allegedly belonged to Jasmine.

But before she got it back, the bag was inventoried by police as part of the case against the thieves. Inside was a three breast prosthesis!

JasmineTridevil.com is registered to a person named Alisha Hessler, and that Tridevil bares striking resemblance to a Tampa masseuse named Alisha Jasmine Hessler,” the Daily Mail reported.

The Daily Mail added that “A website for Hessler’s business – Alisha’s Golden Touch – lists that she is a ‘provider of internet hoaxes since 2014′ and a ‘specialist in massage for three breasted women.’”

I missed the memo — when did Monty Python become a how-to guide for the 21st century?

“White House fence jumper had ammunition, machete in car, prosecutors said,” the Washington Post’s headline screams. As always during modern-day politically-related crime stories where weapons are involved, the ideology of the suspect is investigated by the MSM. If the suspect was a man of the right, those details would be in the lede of the article, or in the headline.*

If he’s a man of the left? Well, it’s likely no coincidence that you have dig down eleven paragraphs into the Post’s story for this detail:

According to an affidavit signed by Secret Service officer David Hochman, Gonzalez after his arrest told Agent Lee Smart that he was concerned that the “atmosphere was collapsing” and that he needed to inform the president to get the word out to the people.

However, neither prosecutors nor Gonzalez’s assigned defense attorneys invoked his mental competency as an issue for now. Assistant Federal Public Defender David Bos said Gonzalez understands the proceeding against him.

Yes, if the Post’s reporting is accurate concerning Gonzalez, anyone who believes “the atmosphere is collapsing” is some brand of nutter, and nutters can be found on both sides of the aisle.

But.

Our previous post on Terry Gilliam noted that he called those who disagree with his far left environmentalist worldview “a fungus and if I was running the country I would take them out and shoot them.” As I wrote, we live in a media world in which Sarah Palin was tied into the Gabrielle Giffords shooting over clip-art and ABC’s Brian Ross immediately smeared a Tea Party member with the the same name as the Aurora Colorado lunatic who shot up a Batman premiere, ideology trumps insanity in the eyes of the media. Or as Ace of Spades wrote in December of 2012 after the New York Times began politicizing the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT from the left only a few hours after castigating the pro-Constitution side of the aisle for doing the same from their worldview:

Incidentally, the gun-rights people “politicizing” this are doing so pre-emptively, because they’ve seen this play six hundred times before and they know what happens in the Second Act.

I mean, it’s not like we’re as stupid as you claim. We are able to remember things that happened more than a week ago.

This is also why we now immediately search for a gunman’s political affiliation– because we know that’s the first thing you do.

This is the cynical world the media created, in service to their Democrat allies. Once again, the MSM should read Gabriel Malor’s “Tweetable Guide To Media Myths And Left-wing Violence.”

* Of course, by mentioning “ammunition and a machete,” which side of the aisle is the Post implying in its headline?

Related: “Undocumented Visitor Comes Out of Shadows, Jumps White House Fence,” Rush Limbaugh quips. “I thought we were supposed to welcome people that jump fences.  I thought we’re supposed to welcome people who crash our borders.”

Especially, when they share the same eco-apocalyptic doomsday worldview as our recently-retired former president:

Terry Gilliam’s Eliminationist Rhetoric

September 22nd, 2014 - 12:21 pm

At the conclusion of his interview with pop culture Website Collider.com promoting his new film The Zero Theorem, the only American member of Monty Python drops the mask and reveals his inner liberal fascist:

It’s interesting that we look to that as sort of permission to go with that philosophy since I doubt any human being will be around anyway at that point.  We should maybe be looking at our own mortality as the signpost for that.  

GILLIAM: Your Republican will do that, yes.  Your Republican thinks like that.  I remember when Reagan was president, the secretary of the interior was a guy who was an Armageddonist who actually believed the end of days were not too far in the distant future.  He was put in charge of the environment and his approach was of course, not to protect it, but let’s get as much money as we can before Jesus comes back.  And I despise that.  We’re here and we’ve got to do whatever we can to keep the place running.  We think in terms of quarterly statements and we should be thinking a little bit further in advance of that.  At least the communists had ten year plans.  We don’t have that anymore.

A lot of times that kind of thought absolves people of responsibility.  I think a lot of times they go with it because it’s the most convenient thing and it makes the most sense for those quarterly reports. 

GILLIAM: Yeah, I know.  It’s about how you are inside and there will always be those people and there will be all the others that worry about every single thing we do that might cause damage to the planet.  I’m somewhere leaning more towards the damage to the planet side, much more towards that.  This is the problem, it’s like if you happen to be a Presbyterian, which I was as a kid, there’s a thing called predestination that creates the same situation.  You’re going to heaven or hell no matter what you do in life, because you’ve been predestined, so your job is to lead an ethical, moral, and hardworking life while you’re here, but you’re going to go to hell anyway [laughs].  But it’s what you do while you’re here, and what you should be doing is living hopefully and trying to balance your needs and the needs of the world and the planet, and don’t fuck the place up.  So that’s the problem with the idea that it’s all going to go to rat shit eventually so let’s make as much money as possible.  Those people will always be a fungus and if I was running the country I would take them out and shoot them frankly, but that’s something else [laughs].

As I’ve joked before, when Al Gore titled one of his environmentalist tomes The Assault on Reason, he wasn’t kidding, was he?

Just as a reminder, when Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, a Bush #41-appointed judge, and a dozen other victims were shot in Arizona in early 2011, Sarah Palin was crucified by much of old media over bulls-eye clip art. The following year, when an insane gunman in Aurora, Colorado, shot up his local movie theater during the premiere of the last Batman movie, ABC’s Brian Ross immediately smeared a Tea Party member by the same name. Here we have a socialist Hollywood film director who declares those he disagrees with as non-human (“fungus”) and advocates shooting them.

Gilliam’s dystopian 1985 film Brazil ends with Jonathan Pryce’s protagonist being brutally tortured by Michael Palin’s Speer or Eichmann-esque coolly technocratic statist character. Presumably, Pryce’s character dies at the end of the film or shortly afterwards.

Who knew until now Gilliam meant it to be a happy ending and the whole film a how-to guide for big government?

Exit question:

Update: Welcome Instapundit and Hot Air readers. We’re all in this together…

As journalist Bill McGowen noted in Gray Lady Down, his excellent history of the Times in the Pinch Sulzberger era, under Sulzberger’s watch, mirroring the worldview of its publisher, his newspaper has descended into intertwining obsessions with the trivialities of pop culture, with political correctness, and the often toxic brew of leftwing identity politics.  Pinch’s own take on his paper was summed up when he was quoted in New York magazine in 1992 as saying that “alienating older white male readers means ‘we’re doing something right.’”

As with Spinal Tap and their increasingly “selective” audience, these days, the Times’ efforts at alienation are expanding in scope; it’s a blue on blue circular firing squad today, as the Huffington Post explores “How The Internet Reacted To The NY Times Calling Shonda Rhimes An ‘Angry Black Woman:’”

Note that the HuffPo flatters its own readers with the assumption in the headline that they should know who Shonda Rhimes is, without mentioning her profession in the headline. In today’s increasingly fractured media culture, that’s a rather unwarranted hypothesis. Then there’s the assumption in the headline that “the Times” itself called Rhimes an “Angry Black Woman,” and not a specific journalist there. But considering that the Times prides itself on its layers and layers of fact checkers and editors, that’s a somewhat more reasonable take:

Allesandra Stanley’s article from Thursday takes a stab at Rhimes’ new series “How To Get Away With Murder,” opening her piece with: “When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called ‘How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman.’” Ouch. Stanley goes on to discuss Rhimes’ supposed “set of heroines who flout ingrained television conventions and preconceived notions about the depiction of diversity” and other black women on TV.

Let’s just say, Rhimes wasn’t too pleased with it and shared some of her thoughts over Twitter:

Click over the inevitable venting of spleens in 140-character bursts from Rhimes (a prominent Democrat operative, like many at the HuffPo and the Times) and her co-workers. As the HuffPo goes on to note:

Willa Paskin over at Slate quickly jumped to defend Rhimes’ many achievements when it comes to television and black female characters. “Rhimes is no more the ‘angry black woman’ than her characters,” Paskin writes, “who are angry the way that a bird is bipedal: It’s not false, but it’s not to the point.” The critic went on break down Rhimes’ female characters and praise how the creator has “re-framed the stereotype of the ‘angry black woman’” by carving out a space for black females on TV.

At Vox, Alex Abad-Santos calls to light that Stanley constantly refers to Rhimes when discussing “HTGAWM” in her essay — Rhimes isn’t even the creator of the new series, she’s one of the executive producers. Abad-Santos writes, “the piece refers to Rhimes 19 times and has only one mention of [Pete] Nowalk,” creator of “HTGAWM.”

The London Daily Mail adds that Stanley is no stranger to controversy — but she and history may not be on the best of terms:

The paper in 2009 had to issue a correction for six different items in a piece Stanley wrote about Walter Cronkite’s career — including the day that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, according to the Columbia Journalism Review.She also once mistakenly wrote that the Iraq War began in 2002 and that the sitcom ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ — at the time a hugely popular series — was called ‘All About Raymond,’ according to Gawker.

In 2009, former PJM editor Gerard Van der Leun dubbed her “Error slut Alessandra Stanley.” Gerard quoted a CJR writer who noted that Stanley was quite the one-woman correction industry during the naughts:

Stanley has been responsible for nine corrections so far this year. By my count in Nexis, she had fourteen corrections in 2008, twelve in 2007, and fifteen in 2006. Averaging just over a correction a month is not something to be proud of. But that’s still better than before she attracted so much attention. Stanley had twenty-three corrections in 2005, the year everyone noticed her predilection for error, and twenty-six in 2004. Perhaps the decline in corrections between 2005 and 2006 was in part due to the attention focused on her.

No word yet if Stanley knows what a Shylock is. Between Stanley’s latest gaffe, her colleague taking to Twitter earlier this week to ask if anybody was unfamiliar with the S-word, the open warfare between former editor Jill Abramson and the paper after she was fired (also over identity politics) and Maureen Dowd the butt of jokes for her ravenous cannabis and chocolate consumption, and the paper’s general descent into a far left student newspaper, it’s been quite a tumultuous period for the once-elite paper. Gray Lady Down, indeed.

‘It’s the Libertarian Left Behind’

September 17th, 2014 - 6:35 pm

ayn-rand-as-che-10-3-09-2

I read many skeptical reviews of the first Atlas Shrugged movie in 2011, went in to the theater with absolutely zero expectations, and as I wrote here on the blog, I was mildly surprised at how watchable it was. Anthony Sacramone of the Intercollegiate Review says much the same about his response to the first two Atlas movies, before running absolutely roughshod over the latest edition, asking along the way, “This Is John Galt?”

There’s a reason why Atlas Shrugged is rife with railways and natural resources and raw materials. It’s a bombastic prose poem to the original Industrial Age, when great men built a nation out of what they could pull from the earth and refine and refashion. It’s primal. It’s passionate. It’s as real as the car you drive or the building you live in.

And even though I am no Randian today, having long ago come to terms with the many contingencies and interdependencies of life, I nevertheless understand the appeal, the excitement, engendered by the author’s ideas and lust for life. And the 1949 film adaptation of The Fountainhead was pretty good, with a screenplay by Rand herself, direction by King Vidor, and performances by Patricia Neal and the one and only Gary Cooper as Howard Roark, the visionary and uncompromising architect.

Which is why I think, dare I say it, that the original Atlas, for all its flaws, deserved better than this film. My libertarian friends deserved better. My eyeballs deserved better. That Native American who appeared in those anti-littering commercials back in the 1970s with a tear rolling down his cheek deserved better and I don’t even know why. He wasn’t even Native American—he was Italian.

It takes a while for Sacramone to get going, but his review is well worth your time; definitely read the whole thing. Or as Mark Hemingway tweets:

“At this point, I’m legitimately curious if any quotes or anecdotes peddled by Neil deGrasse Tyson are true,” Sean Davis writes at the Federalist:

Over the last week, I’ve examined only four, and every single one appears to be garbage. The “above average” headline. The “360 degrees” quote from a member of Congress. The jury duty story. And now the bogus George W. Bush quote. These are normally the types of errors that would be uncovered by peer review. Blatant data fabrication, after all, is the cardinal sin of scientific publishing. In journalism, this would get you fired. In Tyson’s world, it got him his own television show. Where are Tyson’s peers, and why is no one reviewing his assertions?

Somebody seriously needs to stage an intervention for Neil deGrasse Tyson. This type of behavior is not acceptable. It is indicative of sheer laziness, born of arrogance. Please, somebody, help him before he fabricates again.

Read the whole thing, then check out Ace, who asks, “By Tyson’s own lights, is he actually popularizing science, or is making science look rather shabby and stupid by confusing actual science with its sorta-lookalike, ‘Science’?”

Related: As Charles C.W. Cooke recently noted at NRO, “Ironically enough, what Tyson and his acolytes have ended up doing is blurring the lines between politics, scholarship, and culture — thereby damaging all three.”