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Ed Driscoll

Liberal Fascism

Curmudgeon v. Thought Police

April 22nd, 2014 - 8:03 pm

Charles Murray pens “An open letter to the students of Azusa Pacific University” at the American Enterprise Institute Website:

I was scheduled to speak to you tomorrow. I was going to talk about my new book, “The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead,” and was looking forward to it. But it has been “postponed.” Why? An email from your president, Jon Wallace, to my employer, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), said “Given the lateness of the semester and the full record of Dr. Murray’s scholarship, I realized we needed more time to prepare for a visit and postponed Wednesday’s conversation.” This, about an appearance that has been planned for months. I also understand from another faculty member that he and the provost were afraid of “hurting our faculty and students of color.”

You’re at college, right? Being at college is supposed to mean thinking for yourselves, right? Okay, then do it. Don’t be satisfied with links to websites that specialize in libeling people. Lose the secondary sources. Explore for yourself the “full range” of my scholarship and find out what it is that I’ve written or said that would hurt your faculty or students of color. It’s not hard. In fact, you can do it without moving from your chair if you’re in front of your computer.

You don’t have to buy my books. Instead, go to my web page at AEI. There you will find the full texts of dozens of articles I’ve written for the last quarter-century. Browse through them. Will you find anything that is controversial? That people disagree with? Yes, because (hang on to your hats) scholarship usually means writing about things on which people disagree.

Read the rest at the AEI Institute’s Website. As it happens, I interviewed Murray today regarding The Curmudgeon’s Guide, which I loved; and having read his open letter this morning, I asked him about being censored by Azusa Pacific. Here’s a quick transcription of that portion of the interview:

DRISCOLL: As I was prepping for this interview, I came across your “open letter to the students of Azusa Pacific University.” Could you discuss what happened there?

MURRAY: I was going to go speak to them tomorrow; actually going to being talking about Curmudgeon’s Guide. This has been in my calendar for a couple of months, and I have discovered as of yesterday afternoon, that they have decided my appearance should be “postponed,” on account of needing more time to for a “review” of my “full scholarship.”

Well.

The Thought Police have struck again. So I decided that I would vent a little bit regarding that. So I did an open letter that I posted on AEI’s Ideas Page, it’s blog. I had a lot of fun writing it, by the way.

DRISCOLL: Do you think that “postponement” is a euphemism for cancelled?

MURRAY: [Laughs.] Yeah. It is definitely is, and I will also say that they may think that they’ve postponed it, but I certainly don’t look at it that way. I think that the administration behaved in that kind of way which most irritates me.

Ed, the degree of cowardice, just plain, simple cowardice in academia is unbelievable.

Look for the rest of my interview with Charles Murray in about a week or so with audio and transcript. In the meantime, the incident he describes dovetails perfectly with Glenn Reynolds’ latest USA Today column, titled, “Toss out abusive college administrators:”

Like most professors, I hate doing administrative work. And since somebody has to do it, universities have increasingly built up a corps of full-time administrators. That’s fine, but lately, the administrative class has grown too numerous and too heavy-handed. As colleges and universities increasingly face financial pressures, it’s time to rethink.

Full-time administrators now outnumber full-time faculty. And when times get tough, schools have a disturbing tendency to shrink faculty numbers while keeping administrators on the payroll. Teaching gets done by low-paid, nontenured adjuncts, but nobody ever heard of an “adjunct administrator.”

But it’s not just the fat that is worrisome. It’s administrators’ obsession with — and all too often, abuse of — security that raises serious concerns. At the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, Clyde W. Barrow, a leading professor, has just quit, complaining of an administration that isolates itself from students and faculty behind keypads and security doors.

Read the whole thing, to coin an Insta-phrase.

Earlier: Punks, Meet the Godfather.

“Over the past decade, Americans have clustered into three broad groups on global warming. The largest, currently describing 39% of U.S. adults, are what can be termed ‘Concerned Believers’ — those who attribute global warming to human actions and are worried about it. This is followed by the ‘Mixed Middle,’ at 36%. And one in four Americans — the ‘Cool Skeptics’ — are not worried about global warming much or at all,” Gallup reports.

Isn’t everyone skeptical of global warming? Barry and Kerry can’t take it too seriously when they’re jetting everywhere on Boeing 747s, and Al Gore declared the movement over when he sold out to Big Oil-fueled Qatar. The EPA can’t take it too seriously, since they’re similarly jetting their staffers all around the country. NBC can’t take it too seriously, since they pay to run NASCAR races. CBS can’t take it too seriously, since they run shows devoted to the joys of high-carbon ’60s muscle cars. ABC can’t take it too seriously: parent company Disney makes its money in non-essential amusement parks and the merchandising of oil-based polystyrene toys. (Not the least of which are oil-based polystyrene toys devoted to the joys of oil-based high carbon vehicles.) Sister channel ESPN regularly devotes coverage to NASCAR and other high-carbon leisure time activities. Hollywood can’t take it too seriously because they haven’t ended their industry to help save the planet. (Not to mention the grossly hypocritical lifestyle of the wealthiest celebrities who feign an eco-obsession to assuage their guilt.) Time-Warner-CNN-HBO can’t worried much about global warming at all, if they send Kate Upton up in a jet aircraft — the “Vomit Comet,” as NASA calls it — just to take a few photos of her in zero-gravity.

To paraphrase the Insta-professor, more people might take the rantings of radical environmentalists more seriously, if the people who preach radical environmentalism first lived the lifestyle they espouse for the rest of us. Otherwise, it’s pretty obvious that their goal is to further what James Delingpole of Ricochet and Breitbart UK, whom I recently interviewed, dubs “The Drawbridge Effect.” Leftwing wealthy elitists have theirs; they want to dramatically reduce the odds that anyone else will succeed on a similar level. Or as Daniel Shuchman of the Wall Street Journal notes in his review of Thomas Piketty’s Marxist update, “An 80% tax rate on incomes above $500,000 is not meant to bring in money for education or benefits, but ‘to put an end to such incomes.’”

Elites’ Sacrificial Victims

April 22nd, 2014 - 3:32 pm

Victor Davis Hanson writes, “When your goal is to save the planet, you can’t worry about who may get hurt:”

Why do our well-meaning elites so often worry about humanity in the abstract rather than the real effects of their cosmic ideologies on the majority? The dream of universal health coverage trumped the nightmare of millions of lives disrupted by the implementation of it. Noble lies, with emphatics like “Period!” were necessary to sell something that would hurt precisely those who were told that this was going to be good for them. A myriad of green mandates has led to California’s having the highest-priced gasoline and electricity in the continental United States, a fact that delights utopians in San Francisco and in the long run might help the rest of us, but right now ensures that the poor of the state’s vast, hot interior can scarcely afford to cool their homes or drive to work. Fresno on August 1, after all, is a bit warmer than Berkeley or Menlo Park.

In a word, liberal ideology so often proves more important than people. Noble theories about saving humanity offer exemption from worry about the immediate consequences for individual humans. In a personal sense, those who embrace progressive ideas expect to be excused from the ramifications of their schemes. For the elite who send their kids to prep schools and private academies, public charter schools for the poor are bad, given that they undermine the dream of progressive, union-run education that has turned into a nightmare for those forced to enroll in it.

The notion that elites, well-meaning or otherwise, “worry about humanity in the abstract rather than the real effects of their cosmic ideologies on the majority,” certainly isn’t a new one. In November of 2009 at the New Criterion, Anthony Daniels (aka Theodore Dalrymple) explored “The costs of abstraction — On the intellectual irresponsibility of Soviet sympathizers:”

In a desultory kind of way, I have collected, over the years, many books about the Soviet Union published in Britain, France, and America during the 1920s and 1930s. They are not by any means overwhelmingly pro-Soviet, with titles such as Soviet Russia Fights Crime, The Protection of Women and Children in the Soviet Union, and Soviet Russia Fights Neurosis (in which, published at the height of the famine, are found the immortal words, “The greatest and most far-reaching values of the Soviet dictatorship are psychological and spiritual”); on the contrary, many of these books give the most compelling evidence of all the horrors of the Soviet Union, all of them now attested and accepted as being true.

My little collection has led me to the conclusion that the Soviet Union was valued by contemporary intellectuals not for the omelette, but for the broken eggs. They thought that if nothing great could be built without sacrifice, then so great a sacrifice must be building something great. The Soviets had the courage of their abstractions, which are often so much more important to intellectuals than living, breathing human beings.

Leftwing ideology and a love of abstractionism caused intellectual elites to look the other way at the eggs being broken in the Soviet Union. (Other than Orwell, who famously asked, “But where is the Omelette?”) No wonder they can avert their eyes so easily to the slow-motion rolling disaster of Obamacare.

Or heck, the original sin of today’s eco-holiday:

Related: If you haven’t read it yet, don’t miss Victor Davis Hanson’s PJM column yesterday on “Cliven Bundy and The Rural Way,” with an assist from VDH’s rough-hewn grandfather, and his horse named — of course — Paint.

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Or, Two NBCs in One!

The connection between slavery and fossil fuels, however, is more than metaphorical. Before the widespread use of fossil fuels, slaves were one of the main sources of energy (if not the main source) for societies stretching back millennia. Prior to the Industrial Revolution, nearly all energy to power societies flowed from the natural ecological cascade of sun and food: the farmhands in the fields, the animals under saddle, the burning of wood or grinding of a mill. A life of ceaseless exertion.

Let me pause here once again to be clear about what the point of this extended historical comparison is and is not. Comparisons to slavery are generally considered rhetorically out of bounds, and for good reason. We are walking on treacherous terrain. The point here is not to associate modern fossil fuel companies with the moral bankruptcy of the slaveholders of yore, or the politicians who defended slavery with those who defend fossil fuels today.

In fact, the parallel I want to highlight is between the opponents of slavery and the opponents of fossil fuels. Because the abolitionists were ultimately successful, it’s all too easy to lose sight of just how radical their demand was at the time: that some of the wealthiest people in the country would have to give up their wealth. That liquidation of private wealth is the only precedent for what today’s climate justice movement is rightly demanding: that trillions of dollars of fossil fuel stay in the ground. It is an audacious demand, and those making it should be clear-eyed about just what they’re asking. They should also recognize that, like the abolitionists of yore, their task may be as much instigation and disruption as it is persuasion. There is no way around conflict with this much money on the line, no available solution that makes everyone happy. No use trying to persuade people otherwise.

MSNBC talking head Chris Hayes in The Nation today. Link safe; goes to Twitchy, where Twitter users are wondering if Hayes was intoxicated from, presumably, non-petroleum-based spirits, when he wrote the above and Tweeted:

Wait’ll Chris discovers how his bosses make their money:

NASCAR has finalized the other half of its next long-term TV contract with NBC and severed future broadcast ties with ESPN and Turner Sports.

NBC and Fox will share rights to the Sprint Cup Series beginning with the 2015 season.

NBC and NASCAR agreed to a contract that runs from 2015-2024, but didn’t release financial terms of the deal.

NBC picks up the last 20 of a scheduled 36 points Sprint Cup races, and they could air Sunday afternoons as a lead-in to Sunday Night Football. Fox and NBC will share TV rights to the Nationwide Series, which has aired on ESPN since 2007 ABC and ESPN began a NASCAR deal in place of NBC.

— “NBC returns to NASCAR in deal that runs through 2024,” USA Today, July 23rd, 2013.

OK Chris, here’s your action plan. If indeed there are “parallels between the abolition of slavery and today’s climate fight,” then your mission is to barge into the NBC boardroom and convince them to drop NASCAR coverage. And the NFL — all those charter flights to the games, and the Goodyear Blimp circling around overhead at the stadium — those will have to be dropped from coverage. And no car chases in cop shows, unless it’s hot Prius on Prius action. And no stretch limos for NBC, CNBC and MSNBC execs and the on-air talent. No helicopters or jet flights for the news team.

Do all that, have NBC sign off on it, then get back to us. If you’re going to accuse your bosses of the moral equivalent of slavery (Because Al Gore took the moral equivalent of the Holocaust decades ago, I guess), you must force them to stop.

Do it for Gaia, man. Do it for Gaia.

On the other hand, somebody else at the Nation has a much better handle on things: “Let This Earth Day Be The Last:”

F*** Earth Day.

No, really. F*** Earth Day. Not the first one, forty-four years ago, the one of sepia-hued nostalgia, but everything the day has since come to be: the darkest, cruelest, most brutally self-satirizing spectacle of the year.

F*** it. Let it end here.

Works for me; as Kathy Shaidle joked when she forward the above link, “Iowahawk, is that you…?”

Related: “Hard. Core.”

More: Heh, indeed:

Update: “The message to the carbon industry seems to be: You are surrounded. Give up. Don’t make us shoot,” Byron York notes at the Washington Examiner, unpacking the violence lurking just underneath what York describes as Hayes’ “radical ‘climate justice’ manifesto.”

Which would perfectly square the circle, as it wasn’t that long ago that MSNBC was declaring violent metaphoric imagery as racist.

The Gross Domestic Pissants

April 22nd, 2014 - 12:15 pm

“There is, as every petty official knows, a great deal of pleasure to be had from the obstruction of others, especially if they appear to be more fortunate, better placed, richer, or more intelligent than oneself,” Theodore Dalrymple notes:

There is a pleasure in naysaying, all the greater if the naysayer is able to disguise from the victim the fact that he is not only doing his duty but gratifying himself. Indeed, there are many jobs, meaningless in themselves, in which the power to say no is the only non-monetary reward.

More to be feared even than the secret sadist, however, is the person who genuinely believes in the intrinsic value and even indispensability of his absurd task. He is as dangerous as any true believer. In my hospital, I saw many such people, scurrying like the White Rabbit in Alice from one meeting to another—meetings which medical staff were required to attend, thus diverting them from the main purpose of having medical staff in the first place. A friend of mine who had waited all day for a minor but potentially life-preserving operation was told at the last minute that his operation had been postponed because the surgeon had been called to attend a meeting. Only a credible threat by my friend of dire consequences for the hospital if the operation were not performed as planned diverted the surgeon from his pseudo- to his real work.

I am obliged by law to charge some of the publications for which I write Value Added Tax, which I then have to forward to the Treasury. The publications, however, are permitted to claim back from the Treasury the Value Added Tax with which they have been charged. No doubt most of this to-ing and fro-ing is done by computer, but it must involve some human labor, which clearly constitutes activity rather than work.

How many people, I wonder, are laboring hard to reduce the economic output of their country? In total it must be many millions.

Or as we like to call them in California, Sacramento.

See also, the Federal Government in Washington DC, where those who have labored particularly hard to reduce the economic output of their country look forward to the day when they become the subjects of fawning documentaries:

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When Frank announced his (long overdue) retirement, “The media will undoubtedly lionize Frank, who has served 16 terms in the House,” Bryan Preston warned last year:

He doesn’t deserve it. He deserves to be considered a corrupt creature of Washington who helped usher in the Great Recession. Frank was among the Democrats who prevented scrutiny and reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac when it could have prevented the economic collapse. Republicans at the time wanted more oversight and regulation of Fannie and Freddie. Frank and many of his fellow Democrats stood in the way.

As Jonah Goldberg added back then, “As with all bullies, [Frank] rationalizes his behavior by telling himself that the victims deserve it and the applause is for his courage. But you can tell from that occasional smile at the discomfiture of his targets, that there’s something more primal at work.” Which dovetails remarkably well with the quote at the top of this post from Britain’s Good Dr. Dalrymple.

Related: “Ever get the feeling that the entire government, at every level, is just trolling you?”

(Via Kathy Shaidle.)

Kerry: ‘It Was Easier’ in Cold War

April 22nd, 2014 - 11:02 am

Oh, John:

Secretary of State John Kerry attested Tuesday to the massively complex challenges Washington faces in Ukraine, Russia, Iran and the Middle East, declaring “it was easier” during the Cold War.

In a candid moment during a State Department speech, the top US diplomat said changing global power dynamics made a quaint memory of the early East-West stalemate, when American children would “crouch under our desks at school and practice” safety steps for a possible nuclear attack.

“During the Cold War… it was easier than it is today — simpler is maybe a way to put it,” Kerry told aid and development experts.

“The choices were less varied, less complicated, more stark, more clear: Communism, democracy, West, East, the Iron Curtain.”

Yes, for Kerry, it was a much simpler choice deciding how to screw his country back in the day.

Shades of Bill Clinton in 1993, who as Jonah Goldberg wrote a few years ago, joked: “Gosh, I miss the Cold War.”

Because, he explained, somberly: “We had an intellectually coherent thing. The American people knew what the rules were.”

Such Cold War nostalgia vexed many conservatives. It seemed to us that the Cold War consensus had broken down with the Vietnam War. Clinton himself didn’t much like that Cold War endeavor, which is one reason he worked so assiduously to avoid serving in it. A young John Kerry did serve, but he also threw away his medals and denounced his fellow servicemen as war criminals. Jimmy Carter, meanwhile, had proclaimed that he had no “inordinate fear of Communism,” suggesting that those who disagreed with him did.

The “intellectual coherence” of the Cold War didn’t stop many liberals from opposing Ronald Reagan’s foreign-policy efforts in Europe, the Caribbean, and Central America, nor did it dampen Hollywood’s ardor in portraying Reagan as a warmonger, a dunce, or both. In the 1980s, the SANE/Freeze movement fired the minds of much of the Democratic party. And when the Cold War ended without a shot fired, the Left worked hard to give all the credit to Mikhail Gorbachev, since he seemed like a more reasonable fellow.

And speaking of the Cold War, at Reason today, Jesse Walker charts “Four Great Myths Of The McCarthy Era:”

The great radical myth of the Red Scare is that it was nothing but a scare—that the Americans accused of being Russian agents were virtually all innocent. (It’s hard to maintain that position now that the Venona files have been released and some of the left’s biggest causes célèbres have come crumbling down—at this point even Julius Rosenberg’s children have acknowledged that he was a spy—but some folks still hold onto the dream.) The great conservative myth of the period, meanwhile, is that the espionage justified the witch-hunts. People like Ann Coulter and M. Stanton Evans have taken to declaring that McCarthy was right without acknowledging that the bulk of his accusations were false, and that this was true of many other red-hunters too. And then there’s the great liberal myth of the period: the idea that the libs of the day managed to plot a course between the Soviet apologists and the paranoid hysterics, striking a delicate balance between protecting the country’s liberties and protecting its security. In fact, the Red Scare, like the Cold War itself, had liberal fingerprints all over it. . . . Speaking of Kennedy: His brother Bobby, later a liberal heartthrob, was a counsel for the McCarthy committee, and McCarthy was godfather to Bobby’s first child.

As Glenn Reynolds insta-quips, “If you don’t like the history you’ve got, just rewrite it!”

Of course, leftwing rewrites of history extend far beyond the Cold War.

A Century of ‘Progress,’ Illustrated

April 21st, 2014 - 5:00 pm

The Jersey Shore, circa 2005:

In the late 1960s, when the left had an aneurism over the election of Richard Nixon, and doomsdayers such as Paul Ehrlich and John Holdren, who now serves as Mr. Obama’s “Science” “Czar,” began obsessing over overpopulation, their timing at least made a certain amount of sense. Much of the west was feeling relatively happy as the post-World War II boom trundled on; having only discovered mechanized flight 65 years prior, man was about to land on the moon, and the prospect of exploring other planets seemed likely on the horizon. (Perhaps even colonizing them, which would certainly have been one solution to overpopulation.)

But the immediate post-World War II years were nowhere near as happy; Britain maintained food rationing for nearly a decade after the war ended. Reconstruction in the shattered post-fascist continent of Europe was even more painful. Which would seem to be a rather unlikely time to discuss reducing the population even further, even for one of the most prominent eugenicists of the 20th century.

As part of its mammoth collection of newsreels, the British Pathé organization has uploaded 85,000(!) clips to YouTube, running from 1896 to 1976.  As Eric Owens of the Daily Caller notes, in one of those clips, “American birth control activist Margaret Sanger (here called Margaret Slee, which was her second husband’s name) sternly demands that the women of the world have ‘no more babies.’”

The snippet was filmed at the Dorchester Hotel in London. Sanger was the president of the America Planned Parenthood Federation at the time. That organization has since evolved into the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a nonprofit organization that to this day advocates heavily for abortion.

Talk about disastrous timing: The above clip dates from 1947. Just two years prior, a minor event, the aforementioned World War II had been concluded, which Wikipedia notes killed 60 million people – while Wikipedia often plays fast and loose with facts, I think we can run with that estimate for the purposes of this blog post. And Margaret Sanger is calling for “no more babies” for a decade.

Madness. Or “Progressivism.” But I repeat myself.

Update: It wasn’t just World War II that had thinned out mankind. “The world was certainly not overpopulated, not after the Soviet famine, not after the Nazis and the Holocaust,” Bryan Preston adds at the PJ Tatler. And as Thomas Hine wrote in Populuxe, his terrific 1986 book on postwar American aesthetics, “The Decade of the Depression had produced the lowest American birthrate in the country’s history and the smallest increase in absolute population since the decade of the Civil War. The first half of the 1940s, when so many men were at war, continued the slow population growth.”

Sanger wanted to collapse those numbers even further. As Bryan notes, both Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton have proudly accepted awards named after Sanger, with Hillary adding, “I am really in awe of her.”

It was necessary to depopulate the village that it takes, in order to save it.

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Dr. Freud’s bills would be astronomical if he put everyone from MSNBC alone on the couch, let alone their parent network. And according to Betsy Rothstein of the Daily Caller, NBC hired a “brand consultant” not a psychologist, to analyze the obvious — no one wants to watch David Gregory. But still:

After a slew of publications, including this one, ran with the psych assessment from Paul Farhi‘s Washington Post story — which claims that a “psychology consultant” was brought in last year to interview Gregory’s wife and friends to find out why the Sunday morning program is failing and in third place — NBC now says Farhi’s story mischaracterized what happened.

“Last year Meet the Press brought in a brand consultant—not, as reported, a psychological one—to better understand how its anchor connects,” an NBC spokesperson told The Daily Caller‘s Mirror blog. “This is certainly not unusual for any television program, especially one that’s driven so heavily by one person.”

The exact paragraph in question was this one with the discrepancy in bold: “Last year, the network undertook an unusual assessment of the 43-year-old journalist, commissioning a psychological consultant to interview his friends and even his wife. The idea, according to a network spokeswoman, Meghan Pianta, was ‘to get perspective and insight from people who know him best.’ But the research project struck some at NBC as odd, given that Gregory has been employed there for nearly 20 years.”

That part about the consultant interviewing Gregory’s wife and friends is accurate.

While it may not be unusual for NBC, has any other journalist you know had their friends and family interviewed to find out why he’s failing so miserably? According to one TV personality, “No. Not standard at all. It’s insane.”

Rothstein adds that Farhi stands by his story. And as Troy Senik asks at Ricochet, “Since When Has Insanity Been Disqualifying in the TV Business?” Particularly at NBC, given who the network has had on the payroll over the years, from John Belushi to Keith Olbermann, from OJ Simpson to Alec Baldwin, from Bryant Gumbel to Brian Williams:

I think we’ve all been there. Your workplace performance slips a little and, next thing you know, you come home to a shrink trying to get your wife to handicap the probability that you’ll hurl a live grenade into a Lady Foot Locker. It’s a story as old as humanity itself.

You don’t need a “consultant” (truly America’s most elastic job title) to unearth the problem here. Gregory is a smug, self-satisfied narcissist; the kind of person who’s more interested in hearing himself ask the question than bothering to listen to the answer. He’s Piers Morgan without the patina of credibility that comes with a British accent. Is that really someone you want in your home for Sunday breakfast?

The answer is, no it’s not. In the Washington Post, Farhi writes that “In the final quarter of last year, viewing among people ages 25 to 54, the preferred group for TV news advertisers, fell to its lowest level ever.”

“Ever. As in, since 1947,” Jim Treacher adds.

Ann Althouse notes that Gregory’s edition of Meet the Press has tried to run shorter, punchier segments, but ultimately, the problem is Gregory himself — along with the ideology he espouses, often in brutally clumsy style, as the infamous photo atop this post — and atop numerous other blog posts today commenting on the NBC story — attests:

Gregory says the new look “delivers on the core of what ‘Meet the Press’ is” but “widens the aperture . . . I’m dedicated to building something that says we’re not just thinking about politics. We’re thinking about who the real influencers are in this country.”

He has no idea how smarmy and patronizing that sounds. My advice, stay out of what you call “America” (i.e., not Washington). Have your Washington people on and grill them for us. That’s what Russert did.

We’re not interested in you as the host of a vicarious cocktail party to which We the People never get an invitation and to which — this may surprise you, David — most of us would send our regrets.

Another issue is the ancient template of the Sunday news show itself, as Senik writes at Ricochet:

Ricochet is home to an audience that’s highly politically literate. How many of you even watch one of the Sunday shows? Is there anything that could get you to tune in? What do you look for in someone tasked with conducting serious political interviews? Who do you think does it best?

How old is Meet the Press? So old that it originally began as a postwar extension of the American Mercury, a magazine founded in 1924 by H.L. Mencken. It, and the rest of the Sunday morning Beltway chat shows are part of the last holdovers from an era in which news consisted of three TV networks, and three wire services feeding a couple of newspapers per big metropolitan city. In the demassified era of 500-channel satellite TV and millions of blogs and Websites, they’re dinosaurs. Let them go peacefully into extinction.

Just make sure Gregory and his ilk continue to get plenty of medication, and are comfortably placed in areas where they can as little harm as possible to themselves and rest of us.

Update: Found in the comments at Ricochet to Senik’s post:

I remember watching his Gregory’s ad campaign on CNBC Europe. It went something like: “to keep pushing, to get real answers….”  And the b-roll is of him pitching batting practice to Hillary.

Ah, here it is. Guaranteed emetic.

Yeah, there’s television’s answer to Mencken and Edward R. Murrow, smaller than life itself.

More: “WaPo removes brutal Brokaw quote from tough article on NBC’s David Gregory,” as spotted by the DC’s Brendan Bordelon:

Politico reports that the quote, available in the paper’s print addition, was excised from the online publication after Brokaw complained.

“David knew what he was in for when he took the job,” Brokaw reportedly claimed. “Media habits are changing and the competition is getting better. . . . I won’t get into whether David is the right guy. NBC has already said he’s got the job and that’s what counts. But he deserves a fair shot at evolving the program.”

Farhi said that although the quote is an accurate one, Brokaw contacted him after the article ran and ”said the setup may have left the impression he wasn’t fully behind Gregory (he is).”

“Rather than try to repair/re-write, I just dropped it altogether,” Farhi explained.

That’s the friendly service that the WaPo is known for — at least amongst its fellow members of the MSM, whom it often moves in lockstep with. But in any case, Mediaite’s Joe Concha posits that the damage is done. “Messy David Gregory ‘Branding’ Story Marks Beginning of End as MTP Host.” Concha posits that NBC is really going to go out a limb with its replacement:

Last year, after new NBC News President Deborah Turness came on board, talk of everyone from Chuck Todd taking over the program to Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski turning the show into Morning Joe…Weekend Style! ran the gauntlet. A Joe/Mika proposition is obviously a longshot, but a Chuck Todd scenario certainly is not. After all, with the midterms coming and the 2016 campaign season already starting next year, the timing of the Gregory “branding” story going public now could be the start of a transition from the current host to his heir apparent.

Fourth-quarter numbers in 2013 show the lowest total viewers the program has had in a final quarter since 1991, when Russert first started. In the key 25-54-year-old demo, it marked the lowest ratings in the show’s history.

And because nothing happens by accident…with NBC willing to allow information like this to go public…the proverbial writing is on the wall.

This is an unrecoverable situation for David Gregory.

Meet the Press will live on.

It has since 1947.

But likely with Chuck Todd as its host sooner rather than later…

Well, Todd will get his old boss, fellow Democrat Tom Harkin to tune in at least. But likely not many of those on the right-hand side of the aisle, whom NBC very conspicuously abandoned when it replaced Russert with Gregory. They’re an audience segment that the network apparently is in no hurry to placate,  as it moves from left-leaning pundit to another.

More: Perhaps Gregory really does need to be assessed by a “psychological consultant:” as Stacy McCain posits, “He’s So Crazy, He Thinks We’re Still Watching ‘Meet the Press.’”

Humble Pie, Served Good and Hard

April 21st, 2014 - 12:35 pm

“Kate Humble: We don’t value food because it’s not expensive enough,” screamed a headline at the far left UK Guardian, which was catnip to the Drudge Report. I know nothing of Humble’s politics, as I had never heard of her before the Drudge link. But I’m assuming if the Guardian is writing favorably about her, and she’s employed as a show host by the far left and equally reactionary BBC, she shares their worldview, while staring out upon, as the Guardian notes, “her 117-acre former council farm in Trellech, Monmouth, which she runs with her TV director husband Ludo Graham.”

In response to her Guardian profile, blogger Christopher Fountain writes, “I’m not exactly sure of the value of 117 acres of farmland in England, nor what the combined salaries of a TV director and a ‘television personality’ amount to, but I’m fairly certain that Miss Humble doesn’t live on the same income as the great unwashed she demands pay up. Isn’t it always that way?”

Yes indeed. And she’s about to get her way, at least in the US. “Alert shoppers are accustomed to watching food prices go up and down. But a string of forces—from droughts to diseases—is raising the cost of a trip to the grocery store at a rapid clip,” CNBC reported on Saturday, adding that “it looks like it will be a while before the price pressure eases:”

Consumers are also coping with higher costs beyond their supermarket shopping cart. After a brutal winter in much of the country kept shoppers home, a pickup in demand has sent clothing and used car prices higher in March.

Rents are also going up in most of the country, up 2.7 percent in the latest 12-months, a pace not seen since the housing market collapsed in 2007. Medical costs are also rising.

Because food prices are typically more volatile than other consumer costs, economists and policy makers at the Federal Reserve usually ignore them when looking at the so-called “core rate” of inflation. But after a long period of inflation running less than 2 percent a year, the latest surge in prices bears closer watching, according to Capital Insight senior economist Paul Dales.

“We suspect that core inflation will rise to 2 percent this year and beyond it next year, which would catch the Fed off guard,” he wrote in a recent note to clients.

Humble’s quote about food not being “expensive enough” sums up the 21st century state of the increasingly paradoxically named ideology that calls itself “Progressivism” rather well.

As Fred Siegel wrote in his new book, The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class, “The best short credo of liberalism came from the pen of the once canonical left-wing literary historian Vernon Parrington in the late 1920s. ‘Rid society of the dictatorship of the middle class,’ Parrington insisted, referring to both democracy and capitalism, ‘and the artist and the scientist will erect in America a civilization that may become, what civilization was in earlier days, a thing to be respected.’”

But those politicians who espoused liberal and progressive values in the first 65 years of the 20th century at least knew enough that if they wanted to get elected, they needed to pay lip service to ideas that would benefit the working man and in theory, make his life easier. Sure, it was mostly nonsense, but at least, unlike “progressive” intellectuals, they weren’t overtly punitive towards the working class. Today, their modern counterparts publicly espouse the notion of driving up prices. Barack Obama, running for the presidency in January of 2008, blurted out to the editors of the San Francisco Chronicle that he wanted to bankrupt coal companies and “under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.” Well gee, thanks for that one, Barry.

At the end of 2008, at the peak of his popularity, comfortably ensconced in the command chair of the mighty Office of the President Elect, Mr. Obama deigned to grant an interview with Tom Brokaw of NBC. Brokaw begged the president elect to increase gas taxes, driving those prices up as well. (Gee, thanks for looking out for us, Tom.)  And “unexpectedly” moving in unison, as if in lockstep (paranoid folly, I know), the New York Times, the Washington Post and eventually CNN all agreed!  Why yes, it would be a good thing if the American people paid more for their gasoline. Perhaps these scrappy, populist hardscrabble journalists were simply echoing the thoughts of Steven Chu, who would become Obama’s “energy” secretary who gave the game away to the Wall Street Journal in September of that year, when he openly told them that “Somehow, we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”

They were followed by several wealthy members of the left who espoused higher taxes — but curiously, when confronted about paying more themselves, were rather less sanguine about the notion:

As Joel Kotkin noted this weekend in the Orange County Register, when it comes to taxes, “Clearly, something needs to change, and, ironically, one wonders where the class warriors of the Left are on this. They have become increasingly bold (or honest) in stating that we should continue raising taxes on the middle and upper-middle classes, as a recent New Republic piece suggests, but seem less than vehement about equalizing taxes on capital gains and other income.”

Meanwhile, here in the Northern California Bay Area, as Thomas Sowell wrote in 2005, when it comes to our own local skyrocketing home prices, “The people who vote on the laws which severely restrict building, create costly bureaucratic delays, and impose arbitrary planning commission notions will not have to pay a dime toward the huge costs being imposed on anyone trying to build anything in the San Francisco Bay area. Newcomers get stuck with those costs.”

The result are Levittown-style one-story ranchers that can sell upwards of $750,000. “One of the middle-class communities in the county is Foster City, a planned community built back in the 1960s. When the first homes went on sale there in 1963, you could buy a three-bedroom house for as little as $22,000. If you wanted something bigger or more fancy, or in a more scenic location, you could still get it for under $50,000,” Sowell writes. “Today, the average price of a home in Foster City is $1.2 million.”

The left’s “solution?” Build lots and lots of high-density apartment complexes so dense that THX-1138 would feel claustrophobic from the amount of neighbors living cheek-to-jowl next to him.

And then there’s Obamacare, where the famous rejoinder, “if healthcare is expensive now, just wait until it’s free” is being played out on a daily basis, for millions of Americans to see. And if you don’t like it — tough, says MSNBC’s resident uber-marxist, Melissa Harris-Perry:

You know — Democrats. You know, the same party that passed and defended and implemented the most sweeping social policy in decades, who can say that millions of people now have affordable health insurance that they didn’t have before. And they’re not even owning it. No confidence, no swagger. No, “Yeah, you can’t keep your crappy plans. Just deal with that!”

Please, run with that approach this fall, Democrats. Run with it hard.

And now we have someone espousing higher food prices. Somewhere just offstage, Norman Borlaug (1914-2009) must be weeping:

In the late 1960s, most experts were speaking of imminent global famines in which billions would perish. “The battle to feed all of humanity is over,” biologist Paul Ehrlich famously wrote in his 1968 bestseller The Population Bomb. “In the 1970s and 1980s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.” Ehrlich also said, “I have yet to meet anyone familiar with the situation who thinks India will be self-sufficient in food by 1971.” He insisted that “India couldn’t possibly feed two hundred million more people by 1980.”

* * * * * * * *

Contrary to Ehrlich’s bold pronouncements, hundreds of millions didn’t die in massive famines. India fed far more than 200 million more people, and it was close enough to self-sufficiency in food production by 1971 that Ehrlich discreetly omitted his prediction about that from later editions of The Population Bomb. The last four decades have seen a “progress explosion” that has handily outmatched any “population explosion.”

Borlaug, who unfortunately is far less well-known than doom-sayer Ehrlich, is responsible for much of the progress humanity has made against hunger. Despite occasional local famines caused by armed conflicts or political mischief, food is more abundant and cheaper today than ever before in history, due in large part to the work of Borlaug and his colleagues.

Evidently, Kate Humble presumably thinks this was all a terrible mistake. And as the examples above highlight, she’s not alone amongst the reactionary left, who seek to give to the middle class good and hard, as Mencken would say.

Related: “Puerto Rican peanut butter” and “The tyranny of the organic mommy mafia.”

Specifically, CBS is too “‘ideologically entrenched’ to air stories critical of the Obama administration,” Ed Morrissey paraphrases at Hot Air:

CNN’s Brian Stelter broadcast a two-part interview with former CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson to review her accusations of political bias at CBS News — and to take on the critics she has acquired over the last year or so. Attkisson told the Reliable Sources host that the departure of top executives in the wake of Katie Couric’s flop brought in “ideologically entrenched” managers who resented her investigative reporting on the Obama administration (via Jim Hoft):

TELTER: Let me read this from “The Washington Post.” This is in March 10th, right around the time you were resigning from CBS. And Erik Wimple wrote, according to a CBS News source you felt you were being kept off “CBS Evening News” because of political considerations. Did you feel that way? I mean, were there political considerations at times?

ATTKISSON: You know, it’s fairly well discussed inside CBS News that there are some managers recently who have been so ideologically entrenched that there is a feeling and discussion that some of them, certainly not all of them, have a difficult time viewing a story that may reflect negatively upon government or the administration as a story of value.

As I noted last month, that ideological entrenchment certainly dates back a long, long time:

Attkisson’s former place of employment, which was born of original sin — this is the network where producer Don Hewitt gave both makeup tips and favorable camera angles to JFK in the 1960 debate. Where Walter Cronkite volunteered a helicopter on CBS’s dime to transport Sen. Edmund Muskie (D-ME) to an anti-Vietnam war rally in 1969. The previous year, according to his biographer Douglas Brinkley, Cronkite begged Bobby Kennedy to run for the White House. Where of course, in 2004, Dan Rather blew himself up in an abortive effort to advance John Kerry over the top. (And — shocker! — after departing CBS, Rather, the television anchorman who banged the loudest on his high chair that he was “objective,” began to turn up at far left Nation magazine fundraisers.) And where in late 2009, Katie Couric read Christmas-themed poetry to advance ObamaCare:

And speaking of sin, Scott Pelley, the successor as newsreader-in-chief to Cronkite, Rather and Couric, smears global warming skeptics as Holocaust deniers and approvingly chats up the Obama-funded Tesla, yet looks the other way as CBS’s cable sports channel happily runs programming devoted to gas-guzzling muscle cars.

Oh and note this:

Attkisson: “Media Matters, as my understanding, is a far left blog group that I think holds itself out to be sort of an independent watchdog group. And yes, they clearly targeted me at some point. They used to work with me on stories and tried to help me produce my stories, and at some point –“

As Jim Hoft writes at Gateway Pundit, “Far Left Soros-Funded Media Matters Helped Produce CBS News Reports.”

Perhaps that’s the real scoop here. considering that CBS’s biases were known as early as Walter Cronkite openly disclosing he was a man of the left starting in the 1980s, followed by Bernie Goldberg’s books on CBS’s biases after the left the network. Will Attkisson disclose which stories Media Matters “worked with” her on? What other news stories do they “work” on at CBS — and the other networks?

delingpole_eco_fascism_cover_3-18-14-2

“I’m not a scientist and actually given what I’ve seen of scientists in my experiences following the global warming scam, I’m glad I’m not a scientist because a lot of these guys are basically shysters and crooks. They’re not some kind of white-coated elite with a special hotline to the truth. In fact, they’re just ordinary guys and girls trying to earn a living like the rest of us but slightly more dodgily than the rest of us in the one or two egregious cases,” James Delingpole of Ricochet.com, the UK Spectator and the executive editor the newly launched Breitbart London tells me in our latest interview. And that’s one of the kinder things that the author of The Little Green Book of Eco-Fascism:  The Left’s Plan to Frighten Your Kids, Drive Up Energy Costs, and Hike Your Taxes has to say on the subject. He’ll also discuss:

● If Mark Steyn loses his lawsuit to Michael Mann, who gets the top bunk in their cell at the Global Warming Stalag, James or Mark?

● The concept of the “Friendly Lawsuit,” and how it helps to explain that the left is nothing but Potemkin Villages, all the way down.

● Prying open “The Drawbridge Effect” to see what’s inside Al Gore’s and Thomas Friedman’s mansions.

● How can the media alternately tell us the world is coming to an end in five years if we don’t radically change our lifestyles, then cheerfully promote high-carbon footprint pro sports, such as the NFL and NASCAR?

● What’s the background behind the big “Climategate” scandal of 2009, and where does it stands today?

● How James both discovered American politics while living in England and joined the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

And much more. Click here to listen:

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(27 minutes, 5 seconds long; 24.7 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this interview to your hard drive. Or right click here to download the 7.72 MB lo-fi edition.)

Note that there was a bit of distortion in the first minute or two of our interview, as I had my recording program initially dialed up to 11 in anticipation of the long distance call. I used my trusty Izotope RX application to clean up most of it, but traces of it remain. After the first minute or so, the sound quality settles down nicely.

If the above Flash audio player is not be compatible with your browser, click on the video player below, or click here to be taken directly to YouTube, for an audio-only YouTube clip. Between one of those versions, you should find a format that plays on your system.

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

 

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History’s Second Greatest Monster

April 19th, 2014 - 7:00 pm

In “Charlie Chaplin, monster,” Roger Lewis of the UK Spectator reviews a new biography of the other world figure of the first half of the 20th century with the tiny mustache, and finds him to nearly as tyrannical in his own way:

No actual birth certificate for Charles Spencer Chaplin has ever been found. The actor himself drew a blank when he went on a rummage in Somerset House. The latest research suggests that he was born ‘in a gypsy caravan in Smethwick, near Birmingham’. But surely the truth has been staring people in the face ever since the Little Tramp first popped on the screen: Chaplin is the lost twin of Adolf Hitler.

Peter Ackroyd almost suggests as much. Both men first drew breath in April 1889. They had drunken fathers and nervous mothers. There were patterns of madness and illegitimacy in the family tree. They were short and sported an identical moustache. They had marked histrionic skills, each man ‘appealing to millions of people with an almost mesmeric magic’. They were despotic towards underlings — and Chaplin’s The Great Dictator is less political satire than back-handed homage. Hitler watched it at a private screening — twice.

Which dovetails eerily well with this 2006 observation by Ron Rosenbaum, the author of the 1998 book, Explaining Hitler:

And speaking of trivializing, there is no more trivializing, over-rated, treatment of Hitler than Chaplin’s dimwitted, laboriously unfunny Great Dictator. Yes Chaplin made some funny movies, but when he tried his hands at politics Chaplin made a movie that did nothing but help Hitler because he made him seem like an unthreatening clown just at a time, 1940, when the world needed to take Hitler’s threat seriously.Yet Chaplin’s film makes it seem like Hitler was nothing but a harmless fool (like Chaplin, same mustache and all). And he made it at a time, during the Nazi-Soviet pact, when the world most needed to mobilize against Hitler’s threat. And yet Chaplin, to his eternal shame ended the film not with a call to oppose fascism, and its murderous hatred, but rather—because he was following the shameful Hitler-friendly Soviet line at the time—ended his film with a call for all workers in the world to lay down their arms—in other words to refuse to join the fight against fascism and Hitler.

Today, the left seamlessly transmit their memes through an endless variety of media, but even in 1939 and ’40, what Rosenbaum describes above was a multimedia theme of the left while the Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact was in force, until Hitler violated it in 1941, much to Stalin’s shock. Chaplin in film, Dalton Trumbo in print, and Pete Seeger in song (when he wasn’t swindling obscure black South African artists out of millions in royalties.)

Within the film industry itself, Chaplin was the precursor to much of the business’s darker side: Like Stanley Kubrick, another obsessive, vertically challenged director, Chaplin’s “one unfulfilled ambition was to star in a biopic about Napoleon,” Lewis writes. And speaking of Kubrick, Lewis asks, “Did Chaplin inspire Nabokov to write Lolita? He’d have been a better Humbert Humbert than James Mason.” Which brings us to the similarities between Chaplin and his cinematic successor in the second half of the 20th century:

The girls he liked were dewy 15-year-olds — he’d wait until they were 16 before he married them, when they’d find themselves mistress of a large mansion in Beverly Hills and a body of servants, plus an obligation to the School Board of Los Angeles ‘to continue their education’. As with Woody Allen, Chaplin could help his brides with their homework — or maybe not. ‘Charlie married me and then he forgot all about me,’ was a frequent complaint cited in divorce hearings. He was always off chasing fresher meat, painting his private parts with iodine to ward off the clap. Louise Brooks was terrified to see his ‘bright red erection’ coming at her in the dark.

On that note, do I even need to add, read the whole thing?

(Found via the Brothers Judd; headline inspired by H.J. Simpson.)

The other night, after staying up too late watching an episode of Rumbole of the Bailey on the Acorn channel on my Roku set-top box, I clicked over to the Vemo channel. Acorn is devoted to classic British TV series, such as the Poirot murder mysteries, Brideshead Revisited, Edward & Mrs. Simpson, and the aforementioned Rumbole, starring veteran British actor (and occasionally scenery devouring over-actor) Leo McKern in the eponymous role. Vevo is an entirely different channel, one that also has a large YouTube presence, as a repository for rock videos old and new. At the start of the week, while listening to Sirius-XM on headphones while working, I heard Aerosmith’s “Jaded” song from 2001 for the first time in ages, and Joe Perry’s riff, which sounds inspired by Jimmy Page’s sharp-suspended fourth riff on Led Zeppelin’s “Dancin’ Days” rapidly became an earwig, playing over and over in my head.

So I thought I’d check out the video for the song, since Vevo generally does a very good job with running the videos in HD with full-range audio. And really – who doesn’t conclude a segment from a 1978 Thames Television show about an aging British barrister by saying, “Well, now that I’ve seen Rumpole of the Bailey, it’s time for some classic Aerosmith!” But I’m me, and that’s how my brain works, after years of having been badly mutated through massive Chernobyl-level  overdoses of pop culture.

While Vevo’s clips are free to watch, they’re often preceded by commercials for various products that sponsors believe would be appropriate for a rock video audience. However, in this case, the video was not preceded by a commercial, but by a public service announcement (PSA) designed to encourage young people to stop smoking.

Through the use of the most disgusting imagery possible.

The PSA began with a young man entering a convenience store and asking for a pack of cigarettes. Plunking a five dollar bill and his ID on the counter, he asks the clerk, “This enough?” Whereupon the clerk says, “Nope, there’s one more thing I need” – and proceeds to rip the customer’s front teeth out with a pair of pliers.

As James Lileks would say, pure 100 proof nightmare fuel.

Once the pliers came out, I averted my eyes until Steve and Joe and the boys began playing. I understand that not everyone realizes that excessive smoking can have injurious effects on a person’s dentition — and that Seinfeld is no longer on the air to remind them of this fact. At which point the juxtaposition was grimly hilarious, considering that Steve Tyler and Joe Perry used wear T-shirts in their rock videos describing themselves as “the Toxic Twins” – by the late 1970s and early ‘80s, before they went through maximum-strength rehab, puffs from a Marlboro 100 were by far the healthiest thing they were putting into their bodies.

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) intensified his criticism of armed militia members supporting rancher Cliven Bundy, calling them “domestic terrorists.”

“They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists,” Reid said Thursday at an event hosted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, according to the newspaper. “I repeat: what happened there was domestic terrorism.”

“Reid: Bundy backers ‘domestic terrorists,’” The Hill today.

On the Senate’s first day back since an Arizona gunman critically injured Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and killed six others, Majority Leader Harry Reid urged his colleagues to join him in a more civil debate over the chamber’s upcoming legislative fights over health care, deficit reduction and the debt limit.

“There is no evidence that partisan politics played any role in this monstrous attack. Even so, we should be more civil anyway. Being more mindful of the weight of our words always helps. We have much more to gain than to lose from civility and discretion. …” Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said Tuesday morning in his opening remarks on the Senate floor.

“Some may be inspired by the town halls of two Augusts ago. Others by the heated election debates. Some may be motivated by the conversation that started after Arizona. And many will seek more civility simply because it’s the right thing to do,” Reid added. “Whatever the reason, I hope the turn to more responsible rhetoric is more than empty rhetoric. I intend to do my part.”

“Reid calls for civility in wake of Tucson,” The Politico, January 25, 2011.

“I hope the turn to more responsible rhetoric is more than empty rhetoric. I intend to do my part.”

Feel free to begin anytime you like, champ.

Reid’s latest rhetorical meltdown (and he’s had so many of them already) is on top of Joe Biden calling the Tea Party terrorists as well in 2011, at least according to the Politico.

Of course, if they really were domestic terrorists, future Democrat presidents would be launching their political bids in their homes, they’d be getting fat book contracts and tenure at prestigious universities, Rolling Stone would be running Jim Morrison-esque cover stories, the New York Times printing up fawning profiles, and Robert Redford would be making sympathetic movies about them.

By the way though, if you’d like to say thanks to Senator Reid for his latest Profile in Rhetorical Courage, you can leave your compliments on his Facebook page

Through a Google Glass, Darkly

April 17th, 2014 - 11:52 pm

1984-not-a-users-guide

In the mid-1960s, George Plimpton signed an insurance waiver, donned an NFL helmet and uniform, went through training camp, and played a few downs of preseason football for the Detroit Lions to describe what it was like to see the world through the eyes of an NFL quarterback. In the new issue of the Weekly Standard, Matt Labash plunks down $1,500 (“$1,633.12 with tax,” he adds) to be a beta tester for Google, and describe what it’s like to see the world through Google Glass, the first device since the Segway that simultaneously places its user both on the cutting edge of 21st century technology, and makes him appear as a dork ripe for satire.*

Along the way, Labash encounters several creepy moments — such as Google contacting him out of the blue, perhaps based on their examining the material he’s been compiling via his Google Glass, and then this moment inside a “hillbilly bar” in Rockville Maryland, the sort of place where where Labash can wear his “futuristic face computer into these bastions of the past and report the results:”

We order a pitcher of beer, and after two glasses of lubricant, I lunge into the crowd, taping people, telling them I’m taping them, basically being a Glasshole, just trying to get a rise.

I can’t seem to agitate anybody. One guy asks me, “Can we put it on?!!!” Another tough guy wants to know, “How do you scroll?” Others take pictures of me with their iPhones. Everybody’s so used to being Instagrammed, Tweeted, and Facebooked​—​what’s one more on the dogpile? Most of them, I’m told, work for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, just down the road. (“Montgomery County is totally being taken over by government drones,” Eddie says.)

Finally, a whiskered older gent in a blue-crab-adorned Maryland sweatshirt that reads “Don’t bother me, I’m crabby” squares up to me. It seems he’s been eavesdropping on my conversations, and I’m guessing he’s about to tell me where I can put my Glass, which is still rolling. His name is Charles Wilhelm, a retiree who used to work for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Just so he’s clear, I inform Wilhelm that I’m taping him with my face. Then, I prepare to take my medicine.

“It doesn’t matter,” he says. Huh? “Because you’ll find in this society, we’re all subject to videotaping.” But, I point out to him, I’m a private citizen, taping another private citizen for no compelling reason. Just because I can. What if he were here with his girlfriend instead of his wife, and I posted it on the Internet? “So?” he shrugs. “Really, so that’s it?” I ask him. “Yes,” he says, nonchalantly. “Why?” I ask. “Because I’m a follower of George Orwell’s 1984, and so I’m a believer in the concept of community observation.” I point out that I’m fairly certain Orwell was trying to make the opposite point, that his was a critique, not an endorsement, of a surveillance society.

“I disagree,” he replies, obstinately. “Because in my view, you would have less terrorism if you had more observation by the state.” I wave my hand at the surrounding khakis, pointing out that I’m fairly certain I’m not recording any terrorists in Hank Dietle’s. “That’s irrelevant,” huffs Wilhelm. “You can still explode a fairly good device.”

“And maybe this is it,” I say, pointing to my Glass.

“So what’s your point?” he asks. I tell him I’m just giving him a hard time. “Have a good evening, sir,” Wilhelm says brusquely, stomping off.

I trudge back to my table, defeated, relaying the conversation to Eddie, who is gobsmacked. “So he read [1984] as utopia instead of dystopia?” Seemingly, he did​. ​I give up.

That’s just a taste of Labash’s 10,000 word article; definitely port the whole thing into your cerebellum through whichever downloading technique you prefer. (Those not yet retrofitted with bioports for instant media assimilation will have to simply read the article.)

Of course, even in San Francisco, whose city government — and presumably, a pretty good chunk of the electorate who vote for them — similarly view 1984 as a how-to guide to better living through totalitarian oligarchies, Google Glasses are despised. Earlier in Labash’s article, he retells the story of the women who had her Google Glass smashed in a San Francisco punk rock bar in February — funny how people in bars don’t really like being recorded, eh? Particularly by someone who goes in shouting of “I want to get this white trash on tape!” and flipping the bird to your fellow tipplers, while wearing a Star Trek prop on her face.

In a recent post at the Daily Caller, Jim Treacher (who makes a few snarky cameos via Twitter and Instant Messenger in Labash’s article) Describes another incident involving Google Glass in happy, peaceful, tolerant San Francisco:

Sometimes a theft is just a theft. But not when the item being stolen is Google Glass, and especially not when the victim is a tech writer in San Francisco.

Kyle Russell, Business Insider:

On Friday night, I was assaulted while walking down the sidewalk in the Mission District of San Francisco.

A colleague and I had just finished covering a march in protest of a Google employee who had recently evicted several tenants after buying and moving into a home in the area…

The aforementioned colleague and I were on our way to the 16th Street BART station — I’ll note that I wasn’t using any device at the time — when a person put their hand on my face and yelled, “Glass!”

In an instant the person was sprinting away, Google Glass in hand.

I ran after, through traffic, to the corner of the opposite block. The person pivoted, shifting their weight to put all of their momentum into an overhand swing. The Google Glass smashed into the ground, and they ran in another direction.

The thief and vandal hasn’t been caught. And to young Mr. Russells’s surprise, people on Twitter haven’t been very nice about it:

Wow, if you can’t Start From Zero and reprogram basic human emotions in San Francisco, where can you reprogram them?

* I haven’t tried Google Glass yet, but I can vouch firsthand for the simultaneous bleeding edge/endorkening effect of riding a Segway, as this February 2002 blackmail photo shot inside the offices of Segway’s PR firm for a magazine article illustrates.

Pangender’s Game

April 17th, 2014 - 3:27 pm

“Adventures in Gender Neutral Bathrooms,” a recent post at the College Fix blog, is the launching pad for Roger L. Simon’s latest article at PJM, “College: The Sixty-Five Thousand Dollar Misunderstanding:”

And the cost of this misunderstanding has expanded exponentially  - to sixty-five thousand dollars!  That’s the current approximate total for room, board and tuition at many of our finest private universities for those considered “fortunate” enough to be able to pay the full amount.  For others it can be anything from ten to forty grand, still a princely amount.

And what are we parents getting for this (besides broke)?  The College Fix’s editor Nathan Harden gives us a look in a report today — “Adventures in Gender Neutral Bathrooms” — that begins:

When you really have to pee at Columbia University, there is one question that must be answered before you can go: What is my gender today?

If you are biologically male, for instance, but feel like a female, you may feel the need to use the ladies restroom. And why shouldn’t you? If the girl in the stall next to you doesn’t like to take her pants down next to a man she doesn’t know, that’s just evidence of her hetero-normative bigotry. That’s why the Obama administration ruled in 2012 that dudes who feel like ladies have a right to use the women’s bathrooms on campus, no matter how unsafe that makes the women on campus feel.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t have anything against everyone  having his, her or [question mark's] bathroom.  In fact, I read in Slate there are now fifty-six genders on Facebook and  if they each want their own baths, or to share forty-eight of them,  I say knock yourselves out. But — excuse me for being heteronormative or, worse than that, for using caps — I DON’T WANNA PAY FOR IT!!! — either via taxes or tuition.

If you missed it, the Slate article from February that Roger links to is an astounding bit of sophistry, but just when you thought it was safe to venture out of the multi-gendered bathroom, comes word from “Think” “Progress” that the very air that you breathe is — of course! — racist. (Link safe, goes to Twitchy):

A study produced by the University of Minnesota concluded that race is a determining factor in who is most affected by air pollution. Specifically, non-white people breathe air that is substantially more polluted than the air that white people breathe.

According to Julian Marshall, who led the University’s research, race outweighed income in regards to who is most affected by poor air quality. When low-income white people were compared to high-income Hispanic people, the latter group experienced higher levels of nitrogen dioxide. Altogether, people of color in the U.S. breath air with 38 percent more nitrogen dioxide in it than their white counterparts, particularly due to power plants and exhaust from vehicles.

The creator of Twitchy proffers a modest proposal:


Pro-PRC spokesman Thomas Friedman says it’s a remarkably enlightened place to live. Just be sure to pack a (gender neutral) gas mask.

In related news

Gore cited two “game changers” in recent years that will help. The first is the growing realization from even climate-change deniers that something seems to be strange with the weather. The second is the exponential growth in photovoltaic solar panels, driven largely by consumer demand for lower prices.

The “barriers” to doing something about climate change are business and political interests that profit off of fossil fuels — “dirty energy that causes dirty weather.” He compared fake science from polluters stating that humans are not to blame for the climate to tobacco companies that used to hire actors to play doctors who denied cigarettes were dangerous.

“That’s immoral, unethical and despicable,” he said of both.

Says the immoral, unethical and despicable man whose business and political interests profit off of fossil fuels.

Finally, one more from the indoctrination camps formerly known as academia: “Where’s the feminist anger at Brandeis over Ayaan Hirsi Ali?” In the eye of the hurricane, whipping it up, writes Stacy McCain.

Dispatches from Time-Warner-CNN-HBO-BHO-DNC

April 17th, 2014 - 1:15 pm

“Dee Dee Myers to Join Warner Bros. as Head of Communications,” Glenn Reynolds notes, describing it as “The Political-Entertainment Complex” in action:

“Dee Dee Myers, once the White House press secretary to Bill Clinton, will be joining Warner Bros. as executive vice president for worldwide corporate communications and public affairs, the studio said on Wednesday. Ms. Myers is not the first political operative to join Hollywood’s ranks. Jim Kennedy, recently named to the top communications post at News Corp. after serving in similar jobs with the Sony entertainment operations, for instance, had also served in the Clinton administration, and was once a deputy press secretary in the White House.”

Plus: “Ms. Myers’ husband, Todd Purdum, is a senior writer for Politico and was formerly a correspondent for The New York Times.”

Perhaps it’s necessary to swap journalists between Time-Warner-CNN-HBO and the Democrat Party to maintain an even balance of propaganda: Time-Warner-CNN-HBO trundles Jay Carney off to be Mr. Obama’s press secretary (and keeper of pro-totalitarian propaganda); Myers is dispatched to a division of Time-Warner-CNN-HBO.

In any case, the interconnections between Time-Warner-CNN-HBO-BHO-DNC definitely puts the zero into zero sum game.

Oh and speaking of Carney:

JAY CARNEY: I remember we had some discussion during 2012 about well, is it appropriate for the president, the sitting president and candidate, to give interviews with Jon Stewart and others. And the answer was yes, again because the young voters we were trying to reach are more likely to watch The Daily Show than some other news shows. But also, I think if you look back at 2012 and the series of interviews the sitting president of the United States gave, probably the toughest interview he had was with Jon Stewart. Probably the most substantive, challenging interview Barack Obama had in the election year was with the anchor of The Daily Show. (A Conversation with Jay Carney at George Washington University, April 17, 2014)

Note that in 2004, Stewart was also likely the only talking head to ask then-presidential candidate John Kerry about Cambodia in light of the Swift Boat Vets’ ads — and as I noted back in August of 2004, even Stewart got a non-answer from the legendary leftwing flip-flopper.

I’d ask the MSM if they’re proud of themselves, but as a group made up largely of Democrat Party operatives with bylines (to coin an Insta-phrase), the answer is: of course they are.

“Is Vladimir Putin Another Adolf Hitler?”, asks Paul Johnson at Forbes. Yesterday, I wrote, “The verdict is out on that,” when I linked to the piece. Mea culpa — I wrote that before seeing this headline, from Bridget Johnson (no relation, to the best of my knowledge to the Modern Times author) at the PJ Tatler: “Chilling: East Ukraine Jews Ordered to Register with Pro-Russia Authorities.”

Bridget writes:

Israel’s Ynet News is reporting on a chilling flier given to Jews in the eastern Ukrainian province of Donetsk, ordering them to register with the local authorities:

A leaflet distributed in Donetsk, Ukraine calling for all Jews over 16 years old to register as Jews marred the Jewish community’s Passover festivities Monday (Passover eve), replacing them with feelings of concern.

The leaflet demanded the city’s Jews supply a detailed list of all the property they own, or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportion and see their assets confiscated.

Ace of Spades was initially skeptical of the authenticity of leaflets:

Unless those distributing the leaflets think Jews Control The World and hence that any perceived threat to Ukraine’s Jewry would result in NATO storming in to repel the Russian insurgents.

Which is its own issue.

Update: I needn’t have been as skeptical as I was. They’re real.

From USAToday:

The leaflets bore the name of Denis Pushilin, who identified himself as chairman of “Donetsk’s temporary government,” and were distributed near the Donetsk synagogue and other areas, according to the report.Pushilin acknowledged the flyers were distributed by his organization but he disavowed their content, according to the web site Jews of Kiev, Ynet reported…

So Pushilin says he doesn’t agree with the order, but acknowledges his men are in fact ordering Jews to register.

Jesus wept.

And Barry and Joe took selfies:

(more…)

Paul Johnson: ‘Shades of Munich’

April 16th, 2014 - 6:50 pm

“Is Vladimir Putin Another Adolf Hitler?”, asks Paul Johnson at Forbes. The verdict is out on that — though I’m sure he’d want to be another Stalin, which is as equally bad — and as Johnson writes, the 21st century does not lack for Chamberlains:

What’s to stop Putin? The West is led by the modern equivalents of Chamberlain: President François Hollande of France is a political nonentity repudiated by his own compatriots; Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany have both ruled out the use of force to stop Putin from annexing Ukraine; and worst of all, President Barack Obama–the one man who has the power to stop Putin in his tracks–does nothing. He makes Neville Chamberlain seem like a bellicose activist.

The U.S. is the richest country in the world. Thanks to the fracking revolution, it has the means to meet the energy needs of all the former Soviet states. Its fleets and armies make Russia’s much reduced military power seem puny. It could move troops and aircraft into Ukraine within 24 hours, and its fleets could ensure protection to the Baltic states in a way that Putin would find unanswerable. Yet Obama makes no decisive moves. What ails the man? Is it cowardice? Indecision? A kind of executive paralysis he tends to display when firmness is called for? Clearly there’s something fundamentally wrong with the U.S. President. Meanwhile, Putin, who runs what is, in essence, a second-rate nation with a weak and declining demographic structure, behaves as if he rules the Earth.

Sadly, there is no Churchillian voice to sound the alarm and call the democratic world to action.

Comparing Obama to Chamberlain? Hey, it’s not like with staggering naivete, the president promised the world “Peace In Our Time,” or anything.

Oh wait

Oh and speaking of Obama as Chamberlain, as Richard Fernandez noted last night at the Belmont Club, the president stands ready to offer American assistance to Ukraine…minus any “lethal assistance,” of course:

The Voice of America carries a similar account. “WHITE HOUSE — The Obama administration has suggested that Ukraine’s operations against pro-Russian separatists are justified, but that the U.S. is not considering providing lethal assistance.”

US Backs Ukraine’s Separatist Crackdown

Without going as far as stating U.S. support for the Ukrainian government’s decision to send in tanks and troops, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters the United States appreciates Ukraine’s pledge that it will act responsibly and gradually against the separatists who have taken over government buildings and other facilities.

This brings to mind Obama’s “support” for Syrian rebels without providing any “lethal assistance”.   The president once again declares he stands ready to support his allies to the limit of his teleprompter. But about all else he has provided besides are a few containers of MREs.

One might well ask: of what does the administration’s support consist except an shouted exhortation from well to the rear to advance “responsibly and gradually”? It’s a phrase that sounds more like an slogan against drunk driving than the tocsin of resistance.

As Richard notes, “An endorsement without muscle may be worse than no endorsement at all.”