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Ed Driscoll

Hollywood, Interrupted

‘It’s the Libertarian Left Behind’

September 17th, 2014 - 6:35 pm

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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.”

‘Where Have You Gone, Michael Moore?’

September 14th, 2014 - 6:53 pm

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“We should be living in a new Michael Moore moment,” Christian Toto, veteran film critic at the Washington Times and later Breitbart.com’s Big Hollywood Website, writes at his new Website, Hollywood In Toto:

He made news this week by critiquing President Barack Obama from the left, saying Obama will be remembered as the first black president, not for any significant achievements.

Isn’t that fodder for a documentary, a profile of a president who promised to fundamentally transform the country and, in Moore’s eyes, ended up being a sign of racial progress and little else?

Meanwhile, wholesale changes in the film industry are making it easier than ever to be the next Michael Moore. Filmmakers can flex a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign to raise money, tap streaming services like Netflix or iTunes to distribute content without needing theatrical access and use social media to spread the word. Moore could piggyback on all of these advances or simply flex his industry clout to make more film op-eds.

Yet Moore’s film voice is silent.

Could it be that his progressive bona fides are on the decline? He rallied on behalf of Occupy Wall Street, an archaic movement which quickly burned itself out. More recently, details of his divorce proceedings leaked, showing his Everyman image camouflaged a wealthy man who enjoyed the perks of capitalism.

Presumably aware of the fates of  Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and Dinesh D’Souza, perhaps Moore doesn’t wish to become yet another filmmaker risking jail time from the regime he once championed.

Earlier: Michael Moore Now Living Out Old SNL Nixon Sketches.

Busby Berkeley at Berchtesgaden

September 14th, 2014 - 2:09 pm

“Her directing career ended with the Third Reich,” Mark Steyn writes in an 80th anniversary essay on Leni Riefenstahl’s infamous agitpropumentary, Triumph of the Will. As Mark notes, had Riefenstahl “been worse at making the Nazis look good, her insistence that she was no more than a hired hand might have been accepted,” which would have resulted perhaps in a very different postwar life. (Riefenstahl lived to be 101, dying in 2003):

Did Leni get Adolf to do re-takes? Or maybe she made the entire population of Nuremberg re-take the scene; maybe they staged the procession twice. If Hitler was unusually agreeable about taking direction, it was because this was never a filmed record of an event so much as an event created for the film. Whatever Triumph Of The Will is, it’s not a documentary. Its language is that of feature films – not Warner Brothers gangster movies or John Ford westerns, but rather the supersized genres, the epics and musicals where huge columns of the great unwieldy messy mass of humanity get tidied and organized — and, if that isn’t the essence of totalitarianism, what is? Riefenstahl has the same superb command of the crowd as Busby Berkeley, the same flair for human geometry (though Berkeley would have drawn the line at giving the gentlemen of the chorus as swishy a parade step as Hitler’s personal SS bodyguard do).

The sets (that’s what they are) that were built for Hitler’s speeches blend Cecil B. de Mille with expressionist sci-fi: no party convention in Britain, Canada or even Obama’s America ever offered its leader a stage like this. It exists in the same relationship to reality as, say, Berkeley’s “Lullaby Of Broadway” sequence in Gold Diggers Of 1935: in that scene, the conceit is that the number’s taking place in a nightclub, but, as the song continues and the dancers multiply and the perspective extends ever further into the distance, you realise that no nightclub anywhere on earth has a stage that vast. Riefenstahl stretches reality in the same way, beginning in the streets of old Nuremberg with the band serenading Hitler below the balcony of his ivy-clad hotel, and steadily abandoning human scale until the Führer is standing alone atop a giant stone block as thousands of standard-bearing party members march in formation below: extras on a set. In the 21st century, you can see Riefenstahl’s influence in the work of George Lucas (Star Wars) and Paul Verhoeven (Starship Troopers), both filmmakers for whom the principal thrill of directing seems to be the opportunity it affords to subordinate the individual.

George Lucas’s Star Wars begins with its iconic logo, about which its designer later explained, “Suzy Rice, who had just been hired as an art director, remembers the job well. She recalls that the design directive given by Lucas was that the logo should look ‘very fascist.’”

The film ends with the Rebels, the film’s “good guys,” about whom Lucas told interviewers he had modeled after Communist North Vietnam, tromping through a giant hall to pick up their awards. As numerous critics have noted over the years, it’s a scene whose composition was straight out of Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will. Given the similarities that exist back in the real world between national socialism and international socialism, perhaps his notion that his film’s beginning and end wound up looking “very fascist” is more appropriate than even Lucas knew at the time.

As for Paul Verhoeven’s silly but entertaining 1997 version of Starship Troopers, his film merged the propaganda techniques, the massed geometries of soldiers at attention, and the uniforms of all of the major World War II participants, down to Neil Patrick Harris’s infamous leather greatcoat worn in the film’s last scene. (“Doogie Himmler!”, as one wag exclaimed at the time in an early review.) Verhoeven’s Troopers crudely anticipates the argument made in Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism regarding the intertwined nature of the socialist ideologies the players in World War II all shared. Not surprisingly, that wasn’t an argument leftwing film critics wanted to hear while Bill Clinton was in office, which likely accounted for its many bad initial reviews. But oh, the hosannas Starship Troopers would have garnered from “liberal” critics had it been released in 2004

“Michael Moore Tells Canadian News He Planted Stories About His Extreme Wealth,” at Brietbart TV:

This week at the Toronto Film Festival, Canada’s Sun News caught up with progressive director Michael Moore and asked him about reports from earlier in the summer that his divorce settlement records showed Mr. Moore’s net worth estimated at $50 million and he and his wife owned nine properties which included a Manhattan condo that once was three apartments.

The director of the documentary critical of capitalism, “Capitalism: A Love Story,” deflected those question by claiming that he has been planting false news stories of his exaggerated wealth with his writers for years.

Video at link. Shades of the old Saturday Night Live sketch where Dan Aykroyd played Nixon and Buck Henry played John Dean:

David Eisenhower: Uh.. you were telling us how they twisted the meaning of what you said.

Richard Nixon: That’s right, uh.. uh, yeah, yeah.. [ chuckles ] You see.. my administration.. had the greatest sense of humor that this country has ever seen. You see.. most of the time, we were.. making “party” tapes. Me, and Haldeman, and Ehrlichman, and Dean could joke for weeks on end. We actually.. played to the microphone..

[ slow dissolve to a flashback scene of Nixon's March 21st meeting with John Dean in the Oval Office ]

Richard Nixon V/O: ..We’d do anything to crack wach other up! And I remember, that day, Dean was on a roll, so I just followed his lead, and.. “played along” with the “joke”..

John Dean: [ standing over Nixon's desk; a microphone is unseen underneath a small lamp on the desk ] ..Plus.. there’s a real problem.. in raising money.

[ Dean holds up handwritten sign: "Let's Pretend There's A Cover Up"; Nixon laughs, removes lampshade to reveal hidden microphone ]

John Dean: Uh.. Mitchell.. Mitchell has been working on raising some money.. feeling he’s got, you know.. he’s one of the ones with the most.. to lose

President Richard Nixon: [ covers microphone with hand, tries not to laugh ] Martha!

John Dean: ..but.. there is no denying the fact that the White House – Ehrlichman, Haldeman.. [ points to himself ] ..Dean – are all involved in some of the.. early.. money decisions.

President Richard Nixon: [ stands slightly to speak directly into the microphone ] How much money do they need?

John Dean: Well.. I would say these people are going to cost, uh.. uh.. [ looks to Nixon for help, who sticks both thumbs in the air to silently cue Dean to pick a high number ] ..a million dollars! Over the next.. two years.

[ Nixon and Dean pound on the desk to subdue their laughter ]

President Richard Nixon: We could get that.

John Dean: [ stifling laughter ] Uh-huh.

[ Nixon scribbles on a pad, then, laughing silently, holds it up to reveal the message: "Let's Talk In Incomplete Sentences" ]

President Richard Nixon: Uh.. uh.. You, uh.. on the money.. if you, uh.. need the money, I mean, uh.. you could get the money. Let’s say, uh..

John Dean: Well, I think if we’re going to, uh..

President Richard Nixon: What I meant is, uh.. you could get, uh.. you could get a million dollars. And you could get it in cash.

[ Dean stick two pencils up his nose, resembling a walrus; Nixon practically falls out of his chair laughing at the sight ]

President Richard Nixon: I, uh.. I know where it could be gotten!

John Dean: Uh, huh! [ puts lampshade on his head and dances in a circle, to Nixon's amusement ]

President Richard Nixon: I mean it’s not easy.. but it could be done!

[ Dean drops his pants and continues to dance with lampshade on his head; Nixon falls to the floor laughing, as Dean pounds on the desk in a fit of laughter ]

[ slow dissolve back to the Nixon household, present day ]

Richard Nixon: You see, David? Things aren’t always as they seem.

David Eisenhower: Well, I.. guess people just hear what they want to hear.

Julie Eisenhower: I’ll say. You know, Dad’s only crime was having too good a sense of humor.

Richard Nixon: You’re damn right, Kitten!

With Robert Redford about to shoot a film about Dan Rather’s slow transformation into the second coming of Richard Nixon, it’s not all that surprising that Michael Moore would want to get in on the action as well.

Oh and by the way, if Moore is claiming he lied about his wealth, why should anyone believe what’s in his “documentaries,” as Pauline Kael noted in her perceptive New Yorker review of Roger & Me?

Update: On the other hand, perhaps Moore was simply trying to Voxsplain his wealth to the Sun News reporter:

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Have You Seen Me?

September 12th, 2014 - 11:06 am

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“Where exactly is the anti-war movement?”, Howie Carr asks in the Boston Herald:

Have you see a single “No Blood for Oil” sign in Cambridge?

To paraphrase the John Kerry of 2004: “Can I get me a candlelight vigil here?”

Whatever happened to Cindy Sheehan? Where is Code Pink? I haven’t seen an “EndLESS War” bumper sticker in years, since 2009 to be exact.

The anti-war movement is MIA as this war, er counter­terrorism operation, begins. Back when Bush was waging war, dissent was the highest form of patriotism. Now it’s “racism.” If you speak truth to power in the Obama era, they call it hate speech. The IRS will audit you.

Obama’s media sycophants described his prime-time speech as “nuanced.” I’d call it ragtime.

I thought the moonbats didn’t want the U.S. “going it alone.” You hear that phrase on the networks now about as often as you hear the words “full employment.”

And why is the president so outraged about a couple of beheadings? When a Muslim terrorist yelling “Allahu akbar!” murdered 13 servicemen at Fort Hood, Obama shrugged it off as “workplace violence.”

Now Obama’s suddenly “all wee-wee’ed up” about non-Muslim Muslims murdering Americans.

Flag-draped coffins at Dover AFB are no longer a feature of the nightly news. Remember Wolf Blitzer’s nightly trumpeting of Bush’s plummeting approval ratings?

Now the polls are so bleak for the Kenyan Katastrophe, CNN doesn’t even mention them anymore. I’m surprised they ran the Kerry soundbite even once about how we’re not really at war against SIS, or is it SIL?

Last year, when Bruce Springsteen, Susan Sarandon, and other members of the Hollywood anti-war crowd of the first eight years of the naughts were silent as our jingoistic president and Secretary of State (who by the way, served in Vietnam) thumped the war drums against Syria, I put their faces on milk cartons in an effort to help find them. Earlier this week, someone on Twitter suggested the same for Cindy Sheehan, so I’ve added her above.

Yesterday, Allahpundit asked, “When exactly did President Obama decide that the Bush doctrine is awesome?”, by waging preemptive war in Iraq. What has cased the anti-war left to become nouveau neocons as well? Protestors were silent in early 1960s when Kennedy sent “advisors” to Vietnam, but as Jeffrey Lord noted in the American Spectator a while back, were quickly driven insane by LBJ’s southern drawl. Does that explain why the reverse has happened — GWB’s Texas twang drove them bonkers, but BHO’s poseur preppy baritone is far more soothing? But why were they silent when this Southern president was bombing Iraq?

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“Frank Rich tweets prison rape joke about former Va. Gov. Bob McDonnell,” Glenn Reynolds writes at Instapundit.

As Glenn adds, “If it weren’t about a Republican, it would cost him his job.” But which one? Rich, who had logged in three decades at the New York Times, is now simultaneously employed as a columnist at New York magazine, and as Twitchy notes, is an executive producer of Veep, the series starring former Seinfeld actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus, for Time-Warner-CNN-HBO:

What is it about liberals and prison rape? Remember Bill Lockyer (Cal. Dem. AG)?

Yes, I do remember Bill Lockyer. My guess — liberals like for people to submit to the state, and for their opponents to be humiliated. So prison rape for Republicans is a twofer.

Sounds pretty Stalinist to me.

Although considering that in 2011, Rich was asking, “if you put a reloaded gun” up to Sarah Palin would she know who Bill Ayers was, perhaps today’s tweet means that Rich is toning his proposed violence down a notch.

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“Look, liberalism has a kind of Tourette’s Syndrome these days,” George Will told Chris Wallace on Fox New Sunday back in April. “It’s just constantly saying the word racism and racist. It’s an old saying in the law; if you have the law on your side, argue the law. If you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. If you have neither, pound the table. This is pounding the table:”

There’s a kind of intellectual poverty now. Liberalism hasn’t had a new idea since the 1960s except ObamaCare and the country doesn’t like it. Foreign policy is a shambles from Russia to Iran to Syria to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And the recovery is unprecedentedly bad. So what do you do? You say anyone criticizes us is a racist. It’s become a joke among young people. You go to a campus where this kind of political correctness reigns and some young person will say looks like it’s going to rain. The person looks and says, you’re a racist. I mean it’s so inappropriate. The constant implication of this is that I think it is becoming a national mirth.

However, the left (there’s nothing “liberal” or “Progressive” about 21st century Democrats) have recently begun to hyper-obsess over a new word and, if you’ll pardon the imagery, are inserting it everywhere:

To borrow from the popular Internet meme featuring Buzz and Woody from Toy Story (which has to be sexist as well, right? Of course it is!) Sexism…Sexism Everywhere!

Back in May, in a post titled “Why Democrats Call Americans Racist,” I wrote:

As in the 2010 midterms, expect the madness from the left to ramp up exponentially between now and November. They’re just getting started.

(And then presumably some time between mid-November and the start of the new year, the left will begin declaring half of America sexist. Unexpectedly.)

The protests in Ferguson, ginned up with the help of outside marchers from across the country, and Al Sharpton, direct from the NBC-Comcast boardroom inside Rockefeller Plaza certainly fit in with the first half of that equation all-too-perfectly. And with that bonfire having fizzled out, it can mean only one thing:

Democrats really are “Ready for Hillary.”

Assuming she wins, is the rest of America ready to be trapped in a 1972-era Mobius Loop in which everything bad in the world will be dubbed sexist for the next four to eight years?

(Which doesn’t mean that the left will cease dubbing everything racist as well, as well, of course.)

Related: As usual Andrew Klavan proffers excellent advice on these topics:

Update: As always, Stacy McCain is asking the important questions concerning the issues that vex us all.

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

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

* * * * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not All Celebrity Hacks are Considered Equal

September 1st, 2014 - 7:39 pm

“100 Celebrities Caught in Risque Photo Scandal, Hacker ‘On the Run,’” Kelli Serio writes at Big Hollywood on what some Internet wags have quickly dubbed “The Fappening.” (Sorry — but hey, I just report the news, folks). Despite its seemingly humorous initial appearance, the penalties for the hacker(s) involved could be serious:

The hacking of celebrity accounts has become increasingly popular throughout the years. Paris Hilton was said to be one of the first celebrities involved in such a violation, after her cell photos were stolen in 2005.

Just two years ago, a Florida man was prosecuted and sentenced to ten years in a federal prison for pirating nude photos and e-mail account information from Scarlett Johansson, Christina Aguilera, and Mila Kunis.

The Independent reported this morning that the unidentified hacker is now threatening to release video footage of Jennifer Lawrence engaging in a sexual act. The individual was speculated to be accepting donations, via Paypal, for the video.

“I know no one will believe me, but I have a short Lawrence video,” the hacker wrote.

The Daily Mail released information this afternoon about today’s mystery thief, who has now thanked his “supporters” and accomplices just before fleeing his first location. He has referred to himself as the “original guy” and admitted that he acquired a team to pull off the conspiracy, which apparently took months of hard work.

“Guys, just to let you know. I didn’t do this by myself,” he declared. “I will soon be moving to another location from which I will continue to post.”

FBI involvement is promising, as per Jennifer Lawrence’s request, while the hunt for the serial hacker continues.

Of course, not all unsealing of private documents is considered bad by the far left, or as Ann Coulter dubbed it in 2012, when Mr. Obama’s allies were hot to pour through Mitt Romney’s tax returns, “Obama’s signature move.” This excerpt from Coulter’s column details only one of the several times the recently retired politician’s staff have employed it to enable his quick rise to power over the past decade:

As luck would have it, Obama’s opponent in the general election had also been divorced! Jack Ryan was tall, handsome, Catholic — and shared a name with one of Harrison Ford’s most popular onscreen characters! He went to Dartmouth, Harvard Law and Harvard Business School, made hundreds of millions of dollars as a partner at Goldman Sachs, and then, in his early 40s, left investment banking to teach at an inner city school on the South Side of Chicago.

Ryan would have walloped Obama in the Senate race. But at the request of — again — the Chicago Tribune, California Judge Robert Schnider unsealed the custody papers in Ryan’s divorce five years earlier from Hollywood starlet Jeri Lynn Ryan, the bombshell Borg on “Star Trek: Voyager.”

Jack Ryan had released his tax records. He had released his divorce records. But both he and his ex-wife sought to keep the custody records under seal to protect their son.

Amid the 400 pages of filings from the custody case, Jack Ryan claimed that his wife had had an affair, and she counterclaimed with the allegation that he had taken her to “sex clubs” in Paris, New York and New Orleans, which drove her to fall in love with another man.

(Republicans: If you plan a career in public office, please avoid marrying a wacko.)

Ryan had vehemently denied her allegations at the time, but it didn’t matter. The sex club allegations aired on “Entertainment Tonight,” “NBC Nightly News,” ABC’s “Good Morning America,” “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” and NBC’s “Today” show. CNN covered the story like it was the first moon landing.

(Interestingly, international papers also were ablaze with the story — the same newspapers that were supposed to be so bored with American sexual mores during Bill Clinton’s sex scandal.)

Four days after Judge Schnider unsealed the custody records, Ryan dropped out of the race for the horror of (allegedly) propositioning his own wife and then taking “no” for an answer.

Alan Keyes stepped in as a last-minute Republican candidate.

And that’s how Obama became a U.S. senator. He destroyed both his Democratic primary opponent and his Republican general election opponent with salacious allegations about their personal lives taken from “sealed” court records.

Coulter’s article was published on August 1st. Less than two months later, a hacked video that the media similarly covered like a moon landing (or Missouri riot) would signal the beginning of the end of Romney’s presidential bid:

But that’s different, right? Of course it is.

(H/T: Greg Pollowitz.)

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?