Get PJ Media on your Apple

Ed Driscoll

Hollywood, Interrupted

Ferguson Fizzles

August 29th, 2014 - 3:41 pm

“It was televised, but it wasn’t the revolution,” Charles C. W. Cooke writes:

Michael Brown’s death remains a great mystery. The witnesses’ accounts disagree, there is confusion as to which pieces of evidence are legitimate and which are not, and the police officer at the heart of the matter has not yet spoken. In lieu of hard information, two possible routes have presented themselves: speculation or patience. By and large, the American people have opted for the latter.

Which is to say that when Harvard Law School’s Charles Ogletree proposed this week that Brown’s killing was similar to the murders of Emmett Till and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. he had it precisely backwards. The cases of Till and of King were so powerful because they were so clear-cut — because both victims were self-evidently innocent parties whose lives were publicly taken from them by hate-filled men. Michael Brown, by contrast, could still turn out to have been the villain of the piece. We simply do not know what happened. This has made it difficult for those with an agenda to profit from the case. Ambiguity does not national outrage make, nor can effective political conversations be scripted by know-nothings.

The riots, too, served only to muddy the waters. It was damaging enough to the emerging narrative that those responsible for the unrest had so prematurely determined the officer’s guilt, but it was fatal that their anger was directed at private businesses whose owners and customers were unconnected to the matter at hand. The most effective revolts are simple in nature and morally clear. Legally, it would not have been more acceptable if Ferguson’s mutineers had elected to burn down the police station or to sack the town’s courthouse. But it would have brought their complaint more clearly into focus. Rash and irresponsible as their cry of “injustice!” was, agitators were nonetheless trying to convey to the general public that they are routinely mistreated by the system — that, in other words, Michael Brown is just one of many. There are many among us who would not dismiss this claim out of hand. Most of them, however, will fail to see the connection between striking a blow for the universal rights of man and burning down a QuikTrip. It is tough to keep the attention on the participants in the fight when you have, by your actions, created another set of victims on which the newspapers may fixate.

Gee, you mean taking your protest strategy from the ending of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing is a pretty stupid idea? Other than 99 percent of the American public, who knew!

Related: Rather than dwell in the lurid revenge fantasies crafted by Lee and other “Hollywood Violence Profiteers” as Michelle Malkin dubs them in her new column, “Blacks Must Confront Reality,” Walter E. Williams writes at Townhall:

The Census Bureau pegs the poverty rate among blacks at 28.1 percent. A statistic that one never hears about is that the poverty rate among intact married black families has been in the single digits for more than two decades, currently at 8.4 percent. Weak family structures not only spell poverty and dependency but also contribute to the social pathology seen in many black communities — for example, violence and predatory sex. Each year, roughly 7,000 blacks are murdered. Ninety-four percent of the time, the murderer is another black person. Though blacks are 13 percent of the nation’s population, they account for more than 50 percent of homicide victims. Nationally, the black homicide victimization rate is six times that of whites, and in some cities, it’s 22 times that of whites. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, between 1976 and 2011, there were 279,384 black murder victims. Coupled with being most of the nation’s homicide victims, blacks are also major victims of violent personal crimes, such as assault, rape and robbery.

Unfortunately for everyone in America, the elite left cannot preach what it practices, as Charles Murray brilliantly put it, and instead, quietly practices conservative day-to-day values which they refuse to pass on to others less fortunate who would benefit from them as well:

That’s because the new upper-class has “lost self-confidence in the rightness of its own customs and values, and preaches nonjudgmentalism instead.” Non-judgementalism, he writes, “is one of the more baffling features of the new upper-class culture. The members of the new upper class are industrious to the point of obsession, but there are no derogatory labels for adults who are not industrious. The young women of the new upper class hardly ever have babies out of wedlock, but it is impermissible to use a derogatory label for non-marital births. You will probably raise a few eyebrows even if you use a derogatory label for criminals. When you get down to it, it is not acceptable in the new upper class to use derogatory labels for anyone, with three exceptions: people with differing political views, fundamentalist Christians, and rural working-class whites.”

As Marco Rubio said last month, “I was taught certain values that led me to live my life in a sequence that has a proven track record of success. In America, if you get an education, find a good job, and wait until marriage to have children, your chances of achieving economic security and professional fulfillment are incredibly high.”

But success and self-reliance don’t feed the left’s ever-growing victim-industrial complex, which helps to explain why elite leftists  can’t preach what they quietly practice amongst themselves.

It also helps to explain why, “After Hearing What a Tea Party Group Recently Did in Ferguson, You Likely Won’t Be Surprised That You Haven’t Heard About It.”

(Click here for my recent interview with Murray on his new book, The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead.)

News You Can Use

August 27th, 2014 - 7:17 pm

And/or your Quote of the Day:

Instead of propagandizing young people with the fear-mongering lie how a homeless person is just the same as anyone else but for a few bad breaks, Miley would have done our culture a greater service by having her prop (let’s be real, he wasn’t really her date) admit to all of the awful life choices he made that led him to living on the streets.

How about this for a speech:

I’m homeless and I’m living on the streets and I don’t want this to happen to you. So don’t do what I did. Don’t break into an apartment, don’t smoke pot, don’t break parole. Get an education and have a solid and dependable plan for a job. Don’t move to LA (one of the most expensive cities in the country) and don’t try to be a model (one of the most unreliable professions in the world.)  

Live right. Get an education. Get a real job.  

It may not be a formula for fame and fortune, but it’s a formula for not being homeless.

“Miley’s Date Deserves To Be Homeless,” Larry O’Connor, the Washington Free Beacon, today.

New Batman Movie Previewed in 20 Minute Video

August 26th, 2014 - 4:38 pm

OK, to be fair, it was the then-new first Batman movie starring Michael Keaton, which was previewed in a 1988 video, which as the sci-fi themed Website i09 notes, Warner Brothers released “to Prove Tim Burton’s Batman Wouldn’t Suck:”

Holy crap. Has it really been 25 years since Tim Burton’s first Batman film came out and proved superhero movies could be serious? People forget this seemed impossible at the time, which is why WB made this fascinating behind-the-scenes promo video in 1988.

According to the special’s director, Andrew Gillman, the video was made to reassure distributors and merchandisers the movie wasn’t going to be a campy update of the 1966 Batman TV series. The entire video is fascinating, not just for taking a look at the making of the movie, but also revealing how people generally thought of comic book-based entertainment back in 1988 — and how much people had to be convinced the now seminal film wasn’t going to be a disaster.

Warner Brothers was riding a very curious wave in the late 1980s — Full Metal Jacket, released in 1987 was pretty awesome late-period Kubrick, even more so in retrospect, and Lee Ermey and Adam Baldwin continue to receive plenty of well-deserved goodwill from the film. Batman turned out to be far better than anyone expected, with Michael Keaton as brilliant example of stunt-casting that actually worked.

And then came Bonfire of the Vanities, in which Warner purchased the rights to the definitive novel of the 1980s — and did everything they could to make its adaptation a politically correct unwatchable mess.

Well, two out of three isn’t bad — and compared to today’s cinematic culture, it’s fun to look back at an era when Hollywood hadn’t quite yet exhausted itself.

The Hollywood Reporter has an intriguing look today at Saturday Night Live’s reactionary leftwing politics, both onstage and off.

When Don Pardo, SNL’s venerable announcer passed away this week, I was reminded that while I haven’t watched an entire episode of Saturday Night Live since the late Phil Hartman left the now-ancient series in 1994, I loved the show’s first five seasons — there was simply nothing else like it when it debuted, even if the misses greatly outweighed the hits. So in a way, I’m glad that its creator, Lorne Michaels, who is still with SNL, has what is essentially a comfortable NBC-funded retirement plan, no matter how unwatchable his current product is.

QED:

Robert Smigel, writer: It wasn’t until my last season that the network refused to air a “TV Funhouse.” It was a live-action one that was meant to be about racism and profiling, an airline-safety video with multilingual narration, and whenever you heard a different language, they would cut to people of that nationality. First, typical white Americans, then a Latino family, then a Japanese family, all being instructed about seat belts, overhead compartments, et cetera. Then it cuts to an Arab man, and the narrator says, in Arabic, “During the flight, please do not blow up the airplane. The United States is actually a humanitarian nation that is rooted in the concept of freedom,” and so on. … When the standards people freaked, Lorne fought them. Standards pushed back hard. They even got someone at NBC human resources to condemn it. … Lorne said, “I have a plan.” Obama was doing a cameo in the cold open. Lorne told me he would show my sketch to Obama. “If Obama thinks it’s OK, they won’t be able to argue it.” I thought it was a brilliant idea, except why would Obama ever give this thing his blessing? What if word got out? “Hey, everybody, that guy over there said it was cool. The one running for president of the country.” But I loved Lorne for caring this much and being willing to go that far to get this thing on TV.

Michaels: Obama said, “It’s funny, but no, I don’t think so.”

No wonder Obama tends to think of NBC as his personal TV network — complete with his own heckler’s veto, which he’s employed at least three times now.

The News Anchors Who Didn’t Bark

August 20th, 2014 - 3:44 pm

“MSNBC Wouldn’t Be This Calm If Tea Party Protesters Threw Rocks at Their Hosts,” Larry O’Connor writes at the Washington Free Beacon:

So, imagine if you will: The scene is a small town in Missouri and the tea party is holding a protest against high taxes, illegal immigration and Obamacare. Chris Hayes is reporting on the scene and conservatives wearing masks start throwing rocks at him and screaming at him to “tell the real story.”

Would Hayes’ response be “People are angry, man”?

Of course not. Why? Because Chris Hayes agrees with the rioter in Ferguson but not the tea party protester? I think there’s more to it than that. I think maybe it’s also because in Chris Hayes’ own arrogant, intellectually self-satisfied superiority, he actually expects less from the rock-throwers Monday night than he does other members of society. And that’s the real problem with progressivism.

But we don’t need a hypothetical like this to tell us how MSNBC would react to this scenario. In 2012, an MSNBC producer physically assaulted a person at the RNC convention merely for heckling Chris Matthews over his famous “thrill up his leg” comment. No rocks involved in that incident, just good, old-fashioned free speech.

As I mentioned yesterday, why should an MSNBC anchor be upset at a rock thrown at him, while covering a protest ginned up by his fellow MSNBC anchor?

We can see a similar dynamic at work at CNN, which has been fanning the flames of race hatred at Ferguson almost as badly as MSNBC, even without having Al Sharpton on their payroll.

Compare and contrast: as Jim Treacher notes today at the Daily Caller, “I’m not sure if [CNN's Anderson Cooper] thought bringing the diminutive racist and former filmmaker [Spike Lee] on the air would help him in his nightly battle with MSNBC for second place in the ratings, but at least Spike said some really stupid crap.” In 2012, as Treacher notes:

The last time America’s race-baiters and their helpful idiots worked themselves into a frenzy over someone shooting a violent criminal in self-defense, Spike Lee gave out the home address of an elderly couple who had nothing to do with it. If you think he’s learned anything from that experience, you don’t know much about Spike Lee.

Flash-forward to last night, when Lee ranted to Cooper:

“When people get to a point, [unintelligible] that tipping point, they can’t take it anymore. And I’m not saying that people should burn down stuff, riot, and loot. And I don’t even want to use the work ‘riot.’ I’m gonna use the word ‘uprising.’ But this is not the first time we’ve seen this. And I just hope that things will really blow up if the people aren’t happy with the verdict of this upcoming trial.”

As Treacher notes, “And Cooper just lets all that go. He wouldn’t want to question Lee’s judgment and ongoing public advocacy of mob rule, because then somebody might say, ‘Hey, Anderson, you’re a racist!’”

Compare that 2009, when CNN Democrat operatives with bylines field reporters were insulting Tea Party members to their faces, and Democrat operative with a byline CNN anchor Anderson Cooper played along with self-hating homophobic “tea-bagging” jokes himself.

Don’t get me wrong — part of me is quite happy that the MSM dropped the mask at some point in the last ten years, and we know precisely what their biases are, even if they’re not always honest about them. But perhaps, given that the leftwing MSM consists, on TV, of CNNCBSNBCABCMSNBCPBS and more, and right-leaning media to be Fox News, perhaps instead of income inequality, it’s time to start discussing media inequality instead.

Related: “What if the Rioters Were White?”, Walter Hudson asks at the PJ Tatler. “If Ted Nugent talked about white empowerment, would it be tolerated like Al Sharpton talking about black empowerment?”

Update: “Fox’s Kurtz: CNN’s Jake Tapper ‘Grandstanding’ in Ferguson.”  Oh sure, next you’ll be telling me there’s gambling going on in Rick’s place in Casablanca.

Lonesome Barry

August 18th, 2014 - 12:07 pm

Victor Davis Hanson spots Our ‘Face in the Crowd:’”

Elia Kazan’s classic A Face in the Crowd is a good primer on Barack Obama’s rise and fall. Lonesome Rhodes arises out of nowhere in the 1957 film, romancing the nation as a phony populist who serially spins yarns in the most folksy ways — confident that he should never be held to account. Kazan’s point (in the film Rhodes is a patsy for conservative business interests) is that the “folks” are fickle and prefer to be charmed rather than informed and told the truth. Rhodes’s new first name, Lonesome, resonates in the film in a way that Barack does now. Finally, an open mic captures Rhodes’s true disdain for the people he champions, and his career crashes.

Read the whole thing; A Face in the Crowd resonates in other ways — Andy Griffith’s early star turn as the manic cornpone corporatist demagogue “Lonesome Rhodes” came full circle near the end of his life, as Kathy Shaidle noted in 2010:

Usually typecast as the lovable innocent backwoods boy, Andy Griffith shocked viewers with his portrayal of Roads, an amoral drifter with a gift for gab, boundless ambition and no redeeming qualities. (That’s a true Hollywood rarity, because viewers tend to appreciate villains as long as they are charming. Perhaps only Edward G. Robinson’s stupid, humorless, sadistic Scarface (1932) character comes close to Roads in terms of sheer incorrigibility.)

Now, Griffith is shocking some folks again, many years later: he’s become a shill for Obamacare.

FactCheck.org has already done the heavy lifting in terms of, well, fact checking the claims Griffith makes in this new PSA.

But oddly enough, Media Matters et al. aren’t making any Lonesome Roads references today, even though Griffith’s new ad is more like something from A Face in the Crowd than anything Glenn Beck’s ever uttered on the air. What a surprise.

Lonesome Rhodes was inspired by the hypocrisies of Will Rogers:

After having visited Italy and interviewed Mussolini in 1926, the American humorist Will Rogers, who was informally dubbed “Ambassador-at-Large of the United States” by the National Press Club, said of the fascist dictator: “I’m pretty high on that bird.” “Dictator form of government is the greatest form of government,” Rogers wrote, “that is, if you have the right dictator.”

Griffith, apparently a life-long Democrat, made the decision to go out as his Lonesome Rhodes character, rather than beneficent public servant Sheriff Andy Taylor. As they say at David Horowitz’s Front Page

Update: Actually, I would assume the 2010-version of Griffith would have been pretty cool with this proposed reboot of his beloved 1960s sitcom.

Gut-wrenching new Afterburner from Bill Whittle — which uses Monday’s tragic suicide by Robin Williams to remind viewers about an astonishing statistic, which CNN reported last year:

Every day, 22 veterans take their own lives. That’s a suicide every 65 minutes. As shocking as the number is, it may actually be higher.

The figure, released by the Department of Veterans Affairs in February, is based on the agency’s own data and numbers reported by 21 states from 1999 through 2011. Those states represent about 40% of the U.S. population. The other states, including the two largest (California and Texas) and the fifth-largest (Illinois), did not make data available.

Oh, and speaking of Robin Williams, his wife “issued a statement Thursday morning, revealing that the Oscar-winning actor and comedian had been battling the early stages of Parkinson’s disease, in addition to depression and anxiety,” according to Entertainment Weekly:

Since his passing, all of us who loved Robin have found some solace in the tremendous outpouring of affection and admiration for him from the millions of people whose lives he touched. His greatest legacy, besides his three children, is the joy and happiness he offered to others, particularly to those fighting personal battles.

Robin’s sobriety was intact and he was brave as he struggled with his own battles of depression, anxiety, as well as early stages of Parkinson’s Disease, which he was not yet ready to share publicly.

It is our hope in the wake of Robin’s tragic passing, that others will find the strength to seek the care and support they need to treat whatever battles they are facing so they may feel less afraid.”

At Big Hollywood, PJM alumnus Mary Claire Kendall asks, “Should Hollywood Do More for Troubled Stars Like Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Williams?”

Yes — and given our dysfunctional VA system, shouldn’t we do more for troubled American servicemen as well?

Reality, What a Concept

August 11th, 2014 - 7:09 pm

RIP, Robin Williams. When my wife and I were driving to an early dinner this afternoon, the DJ on one of the local FM stations said somewhat cryptically as a song was fading out, “If you’d like to express your thoughts about Robin Williams, please visit our Facebook page,” before going into a commercial. My wife and I looked at each other said, “Uh-oh.” I fired up my tablet, and saw the news:

According to police in Marin County, California, Williams was found “unconscious and not breathing” just before noon Tuesday inside his home in Tiburon, Calif., following a 911 phone call. He was pronounced dead at 12:02 p.m. after emergency personnel arrived. They added that the actor was last seen alive at 10 p.m. Sunday.

An investigation into the cause of the death is under way, but “the Sheriff’s Office Coroner Division suspects the death to be a suicide due to asphyxia.” A forensic examination is scheduled for Tuesday, along with a press conference that will be held at 11 a.m. in San Rafael, Calif.

Williams’ publicist Mara Buxbaum told The Hollywood Reporter: “Robin Williams passed away this morning. He has been battling severe depression of late. This is a tragic and sudden loss. The family respectfully asks for their privacy as they grieve during this very difficult time.”

In the 1980s and the naughts, Williams relied upon reactionary GOP bashing in his stand-up routine, but the memories of his initial apolitical manic appearances on Johnny Carson, on Mork and Mindy, and on his first comedy album, Reality, What a Conceptm are indelible, as Williams, Steve Martin, and Saturday Night Live defined the late 1970s comedic zeitgeist. Sadly, that album isn’t online, and currently goes for fur sink money on Amazon, to mix a metaphor from Williams’ peer, Steve Martin. (I wore the grooves out of the album when it debuted; a few years ago, I downloaded it from YouTube; I can pretty much do the routines word for word when I listen to it), but this later standup routine from the early 1980s is online — and possibly prophetic:

Williams “suffered a lifelong struggle with depression, alcohol and drugs,” Nikki Finke writes:

After starting his battle with addiction in the 1970s he once explained it this way: “Cocaine for me was a place to hide. Most people get hyper on coke. It slowed me down.” He went on and off treatment for the next two decades, then he quit cold turkey. But then he fell off the wagon and famously went to rehab in 2005. In late June of this year, he checked himself into the Hazelden Addiction Treatment Center near Lindstrom, Minnesota, to avoid falling off the wagon again. “After working back-to-back projects, Robin is simply taking the opportunity to fine-tune and focus on his continued commitment, of which he remains extremely proud,” the actor’s rep said at the time. Williams died with four movies coming out: Boulevard, The Angriest Man In Brooklyn, Night At The Museum 3, and Merry Friggin’ Christmas , for which his co-star Joel McHale told the press in July that Williams was fighting to get his life back on track: “He wore his struggles and sobriety and was very up front and candid about what he has gone through. I know he is a man who likes to win and be healthy. So him going back to rehab, I pray it all works out.”

Williams’ career spans several decades, but he reached superstardom in the late 1970s, the very end of the era of mass media, when there were still only three broadcast TV channels; as we move further into the 21st century, there will be fewer and fewer performers who aren’t in a narrow-casted showbiz niche.

It’s difficult to understand what demons could lead Robin Williams to suicide, given that while Williams’ TV series on CBS had been recently cancelled, between standup, movies, and TV, he likely could have made an extremely good living for himself for as long as he wanted. I remember hearing an interview 20 years ago with business consultant Dan Kennedy, who had just shot an infomercial featuring Joan Rivers. He said Rivers used a Yiddish analogy: if everybody could hang their problems on a communal washline as if they were laundry, you’d gladly take yours back and let the rest of the world keep theirs. I’m eager to hear what drove Williams to suicide, given that he had already achieved legendary status in TV, movies, and standup comedy.

Update:

As Moe Lane writes, “Depression is a horrid thing, and it’s hard to see somebody else succumb to it. If you suffer from it, please don’t be afraid to seek treatment. All human life has worth.”

More: Damn straight (to both tweets):

Oh, and don’t ever change, you ghouls at the House of Stephanopoulos and Rosie O’Donnell.

Update (8/12/14): According to Radar Online, Williams had severe cashflow issues, related to leading the showbiz lifestyle and his multiple alimonies. And while I know that Williams has had a reputation dating back to the late 1970s or early 1980s of “borrowing” other comedians’ riffs, Kathy Shaidle links to I’m Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand-up Comedy’s Golden Era at Google books. According to author William Knoedelseder, even the title of Williams’ first album, used in my headline above, was lifted from fellow comedian Charles Fleischer, who would later become famous in his own right as the voice of Roger Rabbit.

Three Days of the Schadenfreude

August 6th, 2014 - 11:43 pm

mussolini_obama_lerner_forward_6-13-13-1

It will happen this way. You may be walking. Maybe the first sunny day of the spring. And an IRS staff car will slow beside you, and a door will open, and someone you know, maybe even trust, someone like Lois Lerner, will get out of the car. And she will smile, a becoming smile. But she will leave open the door of the car and offer to give you a lift.

—Frequent Hot Air commenter “Bishop,” in the comments thread for Mary Katharine Ham’s post, “Robert Redford sues to get his $1.6 million back from the Fair Share pot in NY.”

And huh — veteran leftie Robert Redford’s paranoia about Big Government — as seen in many of his films such as All the President’s Men, Three Days of the Condor, Sneakers, Lions for Lambs, and The Company You Keep finally is proven right, as one of the best-known limousine leftists in the world gets mugged by big, out of control government.

News You Can Use

August 6th, 2014 - 4:02 pm

To paraphrase our friendly neighborhood Vodkapundit’s recurring leitmotif, you already know you’re not supposed to do this, right?

Questions Nobody is Asking

July 26th, 2014 - 10:35 am

“What would it take to make you cut off your own leg? The most terrifying ethical dilemmas in torture porn horror movies,” asks Salon

Considering the terrifying lobotomy the once more-or-less respectable Salon chose to administer to itself at some point in the last decade, perhaps it’s a question the publication should kick around in its own offices to diagnose how things went so horribly wrong.

Update: Slate, which played Newsweek to Salon’s Time magazine in the early days of the World Wide Web (or was it the other way around?) has also self-lobotomized in recent years, with similarly painful results.

RIP, James Garner

July 21st, 2014 - 1:27 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Good news. There’s no need to watch any more speeches made by President Obama,” David Rutz of the Washington Free Beacon writes:

When he starts to speak, you know in advance he’ll tell you it’s great to be back in whatever town he’s in.

He’ll advise you to have a seat (twice) and appreciate the introduction from his fellow Democrat.

He’ll certainly love you back.

Even the most formulaic rock stars and comedians know that they need to shake up the act every now and then and change the set list for their live gigs. As Mark Steyn wrote in Bob Hope’s 2003 obit, Hope was the first comedian to brag about using outside writers to keep his routines fresh and topical:

If Hope started out as the first modern comic, he quickly became the first post-modern one. Other comedians had writers, but they didn’t talk about them. Radio gobbled up your material so you needed fellows on hand to provide more. But Hope not only used writers, he made his dependence on them part of the act: “I have an earthquake emergency kit at my house. It’s got food, water and half-a-dozen writers.”

As the World’s Biggest Celebrity, Mr. Obama has access to even more show-biz writers than even Bob Hope could have dreamed of — and he dines with his fellow celebrities with increasing frequency. The New York Times, mining territory that Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon first explored a month and a half ago, breathlessly declared yesterday that “At Dinner Tables, a Restless Obama Finds an Intellectual Escape:”

Previous dinners at the White House have drawn varied celebrities, including Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, Morgan Freeman and Bono. Many of the guests — including the Smiths and Mr. Freeman, as well as Anne Wojcicki — have been financial supporters of Mr. Obama’s campaigns.

Perhaps the acting president could ask Morgan Freeman or Will Smith who the hot writers in Hollywood are these days. Or Bono how to shake up a set list and reboot a dissipated live act that’s seen far too many encores and is now phoning it in:

The Mean Girls of Global Warming

July 8th, 2014 - 8:55 am

“Show business is high school with money,” comedian Martin Mull famously said. And the news media is ultimately a form of show business as well, particularly with its chromium or chroma-keyed virtual sets to create the proper theatrics and faux-gravitas around men reading from teleprompters, computer graphics, and reliance on prefab narratives in which the left are always the winners. Which is why, when it comes to the MSM’s attack on global warming skeptics, “You know what this is?”, Robert Tracinski asks at the Federalist, “This is high school:”

It’s not your high school science class, but the high school of cliques, snubbing, ostracism, and mockery as an all-powerful weapon.

Now we can fully understand the contemporary phenomenon of the satirical fake news show—Jon Stewart, John Oliver, and the rest—and why it’s so popular on the left. These shows are created by and for people who never really graduated from high school, the ones who wanted to be part of the clique and to ostracize those who didn’t fit in. These guys weren’t the kind of bullies who beat you up outside the girls’ locker room. (John Oliver looks more like the type who was beaten up.) Instead, they’re the kind who rose in the clique through mockery and humiliation directed at their rivals.

Think of them as the “mean girls” of global warming.

But notice that they’re not using mockery directly as a weapon against the skeptics. Remember back to high school, if you can. If you didn’t really care about being in the clique, they were pretty much irrelevant to you. It was only those who really wanted to fit in and be popular who got caught up in all of the manufactured drama. The mean girls are always meanest to each other.

So the real target on which our mean girls of global warming train the power of their mockery is not the general public, nor is it the ideological right. Their target is the mainstream media.

Read the whole thing. You sort of get the feeling that deep down inside, everyone on the left is terrified of letting his inner Sheldon Cooper emerge and risk an atomic wedgie in the locker room. No wonder “real” “journalists” on the left — aka Democrat operatives with bylines — have such admiration for the smug postmodern pantomime of Stewart, Colbert, and more recently John Oliver, whom Tracinski dubs Time-Warner-CNN-HBO’s “nebbishy British version of Jon Stewart” — their staff writers always ensure they win the argument.

And when they fail, their editors will always save them.

Happy Fourth of July!

July 4th, 2014 - 11:24 am
danger_explosive_vintage_girl_flag_fourth_7-4-13-1

Suicide Girls, the early years.

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

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

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

Could it happen here?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tahrir Square anyone?

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

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

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

Bette Midler is taking a different approach.

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

bette_midler_socialized_medicine_7-4-13

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

In contrast to those such as Bette who wish to go backwards; as Julia Shaw writes at NRO, “America’s birthday is also Calvin Coolidge’s. It’s a fitting coincidence, as the 30th president was one of the most eloquent defenders of America’s principles:”

Coolidge was for economic prosperity. His tax cuts and budgetary restraint enabled robust economic growth in America. “The chief business of the American people is business,” Coolidge said in an address to the American Society of Newspaper Editors. He understood, though, that material success wasn’t the most important goal for the American people. While we “make no concealment of the fact that we want wealth,” Coolidge explained, “there are many other things that we want very much more. We want peace and honor, and that charity which is so strong an element of all civilization.”

Coolidge encouraged Americans to prioritize the spiritual over the material, to “cultivate the reverence which they had for the things that are holy. We must follow the spiritual and moral leadership which [our Founders] showed.” This meant a reverence for America’s principles.

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

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

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

I wish that last sentence was still true today.

Related: For my interview with Amity Shlaes on her recent biography of the great Silent Cal, click here.

(Originally posted last year; photo atop post by Shutterstock.com.)

Have You Seen This Man?

July 2nd, 2014 - 11:52 am


Curiously, searching on “Bruce Springsteen Iraq” in Google and setting the time parameter for the past month doesn’t bring up anything remotely relevant. But then, as Moe Lane writes, “I guess the Left is comfortable with our quiet troop buildup in Iraq:”

Refreshing: despite my earlier sardonic commentary about Democrats rolling over on this, I still wondered whether we’d have more progressives protesting over this. Or rioting.  Guess even the most hardcore Lefty can detect a brick wall after he’s run into it six or seven times.

The United States has sent Apache attack helicopters to Iraq as part of the buildup in U.S. military personnel, the Pentagon said Tuesday.

Officials would not say how many of the armed helicopters have been sent to the country, stating only that they will be based in Baghdad and could assist with evacuations of American personnel.

…Yes, I suppose that they could. Or they could be there for airstrikes against the terrorist army that Barack Obama unaccountably just let set up shop again in Iraq.

Of course, as long as Obama calls the troops “advisors,” perhaps anti-war celebrities think of them as managers and agents — they’ll get their 12 percent of the royalties from al-Maliki’s production company, but hopefully they want the points on the net, rather than the gross.

But in 1985, Springsteen was telling his listeners, “Blind faith in your leaders, or in anything, will get you killed,” before grunting his remake of Edwin Starr’s hoary-old 1969 Motown song “War, What Is it Good For.”* Last September though, Springsteen was cheerfully fundraising for Obama, even as Obama was saber-rattling in Syria. It got to the point where even left-leaning Buzzfeed created one of their patented listicles on “14 Principled Anti-War Celebrities We Fear May Have Been Kidnapped.” As I wrote back then, BuzzFeed, astonishingly enough, put out an All-Points Bulletin, along with some exceedingly precious quotes as part of each celebrity’s “Last-Known Pre-2009 Communication” before these otherwise perilously outspoken far left celebrities voluntarily started BenSmithing themselves into oblivion:

“I think war is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow. I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies.”
— Sheryl Crow

“I think we’re past that point in human evolution where there’s such a thing as winning wars.”
— Sean Penn

“It is very inspiring and amusing how many people have come out in this genuine and spontaneous way to embrace peace and reject war. It reminds us there is a human and gentle spirit out there in this world.”
— Tim Robbins

“American people always have to be tricked into going to war, they always have to be cajoled. I mean, there’s a long history of being lied to, of having things described in a particular way, in order to get them out of their sort of isolationist… prosperity mode and go to war.”
— Jackson Brown

“War is failure! When you are at war, you have failed!”
— Janeane Garofalo

And Janeane and failure are on exceedingly good terms. But she may have had the best explanation in 2003 as to why her fellow leftists gave Bill Clinton a pass during his myriad foreign adventures in the 1990s, and brought forward a decade to explain why Obama gets as a pass as well: “it wasn’t very hip.”

Last September, I did a few milk carton Photoshops of missing anti-war celebrities. Perhaps it’s time to crank out a few more. But then, as one of Moe’s commenters writes, “Don’t worry, antiwar protestors will become fashionable again as soon as the GOP wins the [White House].”

Hipness and ideological consistency are quite cyclical things for celebrity anti-war leftists, apparently.

* Apparently borrowed from the first draft title of Tolstoy’s War and Peace

Redskins on the Brain

July 1st, 2014 - 4:08 pm

For the first 13 or 14 years I had Yahoo’s NFL wire feed on my homepage, during the offseason, its headlines were devoted to head coach changes, player trades, and the occasional report of an athlete whose name appeared in his local police blotter, usually as a result of his overly-rambunctious late night activities.

Since last year however, Yahoo’s offseason NFL headlines revolve around two subjects seemingly to the exclusion of virtually all over NFL coverage — the players’ concussion lawsuit against the league (thus transforming highly-paid professional athletes into victims) and the name of Washington DC’s NFL franchise. As  Ben Domenech recently noted at the Federalist, sports radio, which until recent years was an apolitical broadcast repository for those who wished to take a timeout from the news of the day, has become equally politicized:

Of course, in the ESPN age, the realm of sports is often invaded by politics. This is typically in the form of mild irritants, and the more sports-minded hosts will back away slowly from guests who suddenly feel the need to expound on their deeply held and often clumsily constructed theories about politics to troll their listeners. Some guests are serial offenders in this regard: Kevin Blackistone, for instance, has decried the playing of the national anthem at ballgames as jingoistic warmongering, and said the U.S. should boycott the Olympic Games over Israel’s actions toward the Gaza Flotilla. So you learn to avoid those segments and head over to the ones talking about whether the Vernon Davis holdout is justified and what roster moves need to be made if LeBron is going to stay in Miami.

So it is with great irritation that I have experienced the invasion of sports radio over the past few months by a voice I am more familiar with for its meandering conspiracy-theorizing over the rampant influences of the Brothers Koch: Harry Reid, whose funereal nagging about the name of the Washington Redskins has elevated this battle over political correctness from a low simmer to a hot summer topic. No one particularly cared about this fight when the Redskins were horrid (which has been pretty much every year since I was ten), but since they looked like they were getting good again a year ago, the fight is back in a big way, with all Democratic Senators (save Virginia’s Mark Warner and Tim Kaine) endorsing a name change.

Mostly, this is a sideline issue, as Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has reiterated that the team’s name will never change as long as he owns them, and as the franchise is one of the NFL’s most valuable and a gigantic money-printing machine, there seems to be no possibility of a financial incentive from advertisers or the NFL to make a change. What’s more, the poll data on Native Americans across the country shows overwhelming support for the name. There has never been a poll showing even a plurality of Native Americans in favor of a name change. Were it 90-10 in the other direction, I think the NFL would be more interested in the issue.

At NRO today, Dennis Prager explores how the left have come to acquire “Redskins on the Brain:”

The Washington Redskins have been in existence for 82 years. For about 80 of those years, virtually no one, including the vast majority of American Indians, was troubled by the name. Yet it is now of such importance to the American Left that the majority leader of the United States Senate has repeatedly demanded, from the floor of the Senate, that the team drop its name; 50 U.S. senators, all of them Democrats, have signed an open letter demanding the same; Sports Illustrated’s Peter King no longer uses the name; other leading sportswriters have adopted the same practice; and the president of the United States has weighed in on the issue.

* * * * * * * *

First, there is a rule in life: Those who do not confront the greatest evils will confront much lesser evils or simply manufacture alleged evils that they then confront. [See also: left's obsession with global warming -- Ed] This has been a dominant characteristic of the Left for at least half a century.

The greatest evils since World War II have been communism and, since the demise of communism in the Soviet Union and in most other communist countries, violent Islam — or, as it often is called, Islamism. Islamism is the belief that sharia (Islamic law) must be imposed wherever possible on a society, beginning, of course, with Muslim-majority countries. These Islamists are, as the British historian Andrew Roberts has noted, the fourth incarnation of fascism — first there was fascism, then Nazism, then communism, and now Islamism.

For many years most of the Western Left was supportive of communism, and after the 1960s, it was simply hostile to anti-communists. The Left was far more concerned with attacking America than with attacking the Soviet Union. So, too, today, the Left is far more concerned with attacking America — its alleged racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and economic inequality — than with fighting Islamism.

Second, the corollary to the above is that those who do not fight the greatest evils invariably loathe those who do. The Left hated American anti-communists much more than it hated communists. The Left today hates traditional America much more than it hates traditional Islamists. The Redskins name is a symbol of that hated America.

Sports isn’t immune to leftwing identity politics disguised as criticism; film and TV criticism got there first; in recent years, reading an assortment of newspaper film reviews would cause one to believe that Hollywood — a much more leftwing environment than the NFL — is a seething hotbed of racism, sexism, homophobia, and whatever other -isms and phobias are being imagined in the fever swamps of the left at given moment. (And yet curiously, few newspaper critics wish to cut themselves off from free screenings, free DVDs, celebrity interviews, and other media junkets when presented by the allegedly racist, sexist, and homophobic film and TV industry.)

As Sonny Bunch writes at the Washington Free Beacon, “There has been a movement in criticism in recent years to catalog the ways in which art fail certain classes:”

One shudders to think of the ways classic cinema would be critiqued today. Imagine our generation of critics being handed a gem like The Godfather. Oh, you’d see an initial wave of rapturous support. Our finest writers—our A.O. Scotts, our Anthony Lanes, our Seitzes—would undoubtedly recognize its genius. But then, after a week or two, the counterintuitive takes would start popping up. Slate‘s Double X would ask why there are no strong female characters: “All we have are an abused wife and an exploded wife and an ignored wife! What, there was no room for a lady-gangster? Has Francis Ford Coppola never heard of [incredibly minor figure who has been blown up to mythic stature in women's studies courses]?” Salon would denounce the five families for their plan to distribute drugs among “the coloreds” as well as critics across the land for failing to properly announce just how despicable they found the Corleones following that scene. Godfather Part II‘s release would see Jose Antonio Vargas given 5,000 words and the cover of Time to lament America’s abandonment of immigrants looking for a better life: “We used to be a nation that took in young Vitos, despite their disease, despite their lack of opportunities. Now we’re a nation that heartlessly turns its back on children.” Et cetera, ad nauseum.

Quoting from Andrew Ferguson’s review of Men on Strike by PJM’s own Dr. Helen, Bunch adds that the left just loves it when conservatives use the same sort of identity politics as pushback; but then, this is Pandora’s Box that the left has opened up by declaring that the personal is political and no form of grievance politics is off the table. (All the way down to names of paint colors!) And yet another reminder that “Inside Every Liberal is a Totalitarian Screaming to Get Out.”

Related: Fox News’ Jesse Watters “Gets Kicked Out of NOW Conference, Threatened With Arrest.” Hilarious video of Watters trolling the NAGs at link.

“In late 2009, Screenwriter Roger L. Simon and filmmaker Lionel Chetwynd sat down with legendary director Paul Mazursky to discuss Hollywood’s penchant for stereotyped portrayals of Jews,” as a segment on PJTV’s Poliwood.

RIP, Paul Mazursky, 84

July 1st, 2014 - 10:47 am

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Life Imitates Night Shift

June 29th, 2014 - 9:15 pm

Now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

Wanna know why I carry this tape recorder? To tape things. See, I’m an idea man, Chuck. I get ideas coming at me all day. I can’t control ‘em. I can’t even fight ‘em if I want to. You know, ‘AHHH!’ So I say ‘em in here, and that way I never forget ‘em. You see what I’m sayin’?

[speaking into tape recorder]

Stand back, this is Bill. Idea to eliminate garbage. Edible paper. You eat it, it’s gone! You eat it, it’s outta there! No more garbage!

—Michael Keaton as Manhattan morgue attendant turned would-be pimp “Bill Blazejowski” in the 1982 film Night Shift.

I’m a weirdo who eats her cupcakes with a fork, but thanks to these new edible cupcake wrappers, I guess I don’t have to anymore! I can bite right into the side of the thing without having to worry about peeling the paper back without dropping half the cupcake onto the sidewalk (okay, wait, the visual of haphazardly chomping into a delicate baked good doesn’t sound too dignified either).

The wrappers, made by Dr. Oetker, are wafer-like, gluten free*, and can survive being baked. They can even hold up in the oven without a cupcake tray — on what planet is that a reality!? The downside is that they’re pretty pricey. A pack of six is $4, which is a bit too steep to be worth it — unless, of course, they start turning up in Pinterest recipes. Then maybe I’ll consider the splurge.

“We Obviously All Need These Edible Cupcake Wrappers,” The Frisky, yesterday.

Found via Maetenloch at AoSHQ; truly, we live in an age of technological and gustatory miracles.

* What is Gluten?