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Ed Driscoll

Muggeridge's Law

‘Pretend Mel Gibson Is Roman Polanski’

December 17th, 2014 - 3:19 pm

“3 Ways The Biblical Blockbuster Can Get Its Groove Back,” as proffered by Hans Fiene at the Federalist:

I know, I know. Nobody in Hollywood wants to touch him. I know he got behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated and said some reprehensible things about Jewish people. But remember what Mel Gibson accomplished in 2004. He took a cast of mostly no-name actors, had them speak exclusively in Hebrew and Aramaic, and made the highest grossing R-rated film in U.S. history.

More importantly, he made an absurdly Catholic film, and all the Pope-hating Protestants in the country poured into their church buses and made pilgrimages to the local multiplex to see it. Seriously, “The Passion of the Christ” is the cinematic equivalent of a two-hour, spurting crucifix, and the same people who won’t even walk into sanctuaries with the corpse of Jesus carved onto a cross rewarded him with $370 million domestic.

So if you want to achieve “Passion”-level results at the box office, you need to get over your aversion to Gibson and hire a man who has both the trust of Christian audiences and the cinematic talent necessary for such a feat. But how do you forgive his unforgivable transgressions? Easy, just pretend he’s Roman Polanski, the critically acclaimed director who hasn’t stepped foot on U.S. soil since fleeing sentencing for six sexual assault related charges in 1977.

Polanksi hasn’t had a hard time getting work after his indiscretions. He’s directed eleven feature films since then, and notable actors such as Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Kingsley, Johnny Depp, Ewan McGregor, and Kate Winslet have had no moral objection to working with him. The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences even gave him a Best Director Oscar, along with a standing ovation. in 2003. So if giving work to Mel Gibson makes you feel a little ill because of the unforgiveable speech that spewed forth from his drunken lips, just pretend that he did something far more pardonable, like Roman Polanski did.

If your conscience can’t handle employing a man who said some anti-Semitic words a decade ago, just pretend that he drugged and sodomized a 13-year-old girl instead, and that should put you at ease when you sign the contract.

Or heck Hollywood, just pretend Mel’s a film executive at Sony, and everything’s golden, right?

Actually only the first three words of Ed Morrissey headline at The Week are really necessary when it comes to anything involving the pedantic Hollywood archleftist. As Ed writes, “The famed screenwriter is unhappy that news outlets are publishing emails leaked by hackers. But that’s what the media do:”

Sorkin, for his part, argued that the leaked material had no real news value, unlike the leaks from the Edward Snowden cache or the Pentagon Papers. Sony isn’t a government or Enron, he pointed out, but a movie studio, and nothing of what was stolen and published had any social or cultural value, appealing only to the prurient and the nosy.

In this, Sorkin landed a clean punch — but perhaps he was too much on target. His essay could easily be taken for an argument against the existence of Variety altogether. After all, Variety doesn’t cover governments or the Enrons of the world. What exactly is Variety supposed to cover, if not news about the studios and celebrities, the appetite for which can be best described as prurience and nosiness?

For that matter, the entertainment industry hardly rises to Sorkin’s stated standards, despite his best efforts. He fulminated about a NATO-type treaty among studios and unions to lobby Congress for some kind of action to defend against an attack on “one of America’s largest exports.” Sony Entertainment is a subsidiary of the Japanese corporation, of course, so it’s not exactly an American export. And if the American film industry as a whole is so important that it requires Congress to protect it, then suddenly we’re back to grounds that it is newsworthy, and that Variety and other media outlets are correct to exercise scrutiny whenever possible.

There is also a hint of double standards in Sorkin’s outrage. If the Rudin-Pascal email exchange had taken place at another corporation — say, Walmart or Koch Industries — would Sorkin have objected to a hack that exposed it, and media coverage about the exchange? Or would it have been just great journalism, as long as it didn’t gore Sorkin’s own ox?

Consider this: The IRS leaked confidential financial information about the National Organization for Marriage before the 2012 election, after which it ended up in the hands of its opponents, Human Rights Watch. It then got disseminated to media outlets, which published the data and damaged the conservative group’s operations during a political campaign. A similar leak struck the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, whose financial records also got published by a liberal outlet before the 2012 election.

On a public policy basis, as well as on the affront-to-American-values scale, those infractions should rank a little higher than the Sony hack. Yet Sorkin didn’t seem bothered by reporters following up on those leaks. Or perhaps I missed Sorkin’s call for Congress to take action against the IRS and its targeting of private conservative organizations.

Note that Sony’s op-ed ran in the New York Times, which published the Pentagon Papers during the Nixon era, but famously did everything it could to bury the Climategate scandal in November of 2009, as Alana Goodman wrote at Commentary:

Some may argue that it’s unfair to criticize [New York Times’ ‘environmental’ ‘reporter’ Andrew Revkin] for his private comments, and point out that none of these emails on its own could be characterized as an egregious ethical lapse. Maybe. But combined, they point to a pattern. There’s also this: Revkin was the same Times reporter who refused to publish the first trove of ClimateGate emails in 2009, claiming they were off-limits because they were “private” conversations (a standard the paper evidently hasn’t applied to other leaked documents). He also dismissed the scandal as meritless.

As one of the leading national environmental reporters, Revkin had a huge amount of influence over whether the ClimateGate controversy went anywhere. He ended up doing all he could to snuff it out. Should the fact that he wasn’t just involved in the emails, but also seemed to portray himself as an ideological ally to the scientists, raise ethical questions about the Times’ coverage of the first ClimateGate? I’d say so. And maybe Revkin’s departure from the news section one month after the emails leaked in 2009 means that, internally, the Times thought so as well.

As I wrote in November of 2009, Revkin’s motto back then seemed to be “All the News That’s Fit to Bury:”

Seeing as they each impact key pillars of what today passes for liberalism, there seems to be more than a few connections between the recent ACORN stings by Giles, O’Keefe and Breitbart, and the recent hacking of the emails of the University of East Anglia Climate Research Unit, or “Global WarmingGate”, as Charlie Martin dubs it elsewhere at Pajamas. Not the least is that they each sent the legacy media into full gatekeeper mode, hoping to prevent exciting, important news of current events from ever reaching their readers. Or perhaps, like the scandal last year involving John Edwards, sitting on the stories for so long, while making claims that they have to endlessly research them to verify their authenticity — Keep rockin’! — that when the legacy media decides to go “public” with news that everyone already knows, they can dramatically dilute the ultimate impact of these stories.

And then the Times went on to ask its readers to crowdsource any revelations in Sarah Palin’s emails, confirming its biases, and what news the admittedly leftwing paper deems fit to print.

Related: While Sony’s Amy Pascal, who previously banished Mel Gibson to industry Siberia for his drunken anti-Semitic rants rushes to Al Sharpton in an effort to save her job (see also: Imus, Don), don’t miss the New York Post on Scott Rudin, her co chair, “The man known as Hollywood’s biggest a-hole.” And that’s saying something, given the industry baseline.

The Last Grownup at Oberlin

December 16th, 2014 - 1:19 pm

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“No Exam Delay for Oberlin Students ‘Traumatized’ By Grand Jury Decisions,” Elizabeth Nolan Brown writes at Reason’s Hit & Run blog, spotting a hilarious exchange between a distaff Oberlin freshman (apologies for using that doubleplus ungood crimethink oldspeak word) and her terse, but spot-on professor, who just might be the only grownup left at Oberlin. And it gets better:

After receiving his professor’s response, the student posted the exchange publicly to Facebook, with the message: “TRIGGER WARNING: Violent language regarding an extremely dismissive response from a professor. This is an email exchange I had with my professor this evening. … We are obviously not preaching to the choir. Professors and administration at Oberlin need to be held accountable for their words and actions and have a responsibility to their students.”

But I don’t mean to pick too much on this student, an Oberlin freshman. This is the environment she’s inherited and set of social cues she’s learned from people who should know far better—like professors and administrators at Ivy League law schools, for a start.

 

Stephen Kruiser nominates Professor Raney as “Teacher of the Year,” but wonders how long before he’ll be experiencing the joys of President Obama’s “Funemployment:”

Look for this guy to be out of a job within the year. Dissent from the progressive orthodoxy is not tolerated.

But what I’m really waiting for is Oberlin alumnus Lena Dunham to weigh in with her take on Mr. Raney.

Gray Lady Down!

December 15th, 2014 - 11:08 am

“Layer upon layer of factcheckers and proofreaders, yo.” Plus this: “Great moments in journalism: The New York Times correction on the pope’s ‘animals in heaven’ remarks:”

Correction: December 12, 2014

An earlier version of this article misstated the circumstances of Pope Francis’ remarks. He made them in a general audience at the Vatican, not in consoling a distraught boy whose dog had died. The article also misstated what Francis is known to have said. According to Vatican Radio, Francis said: “The Holy Scripture teaches us that the fulfillment of this wonderful design also affects everything around us,” which was interpreted to mean he believes animals go to heaven. Francis is not known to have said: “One day, we will see our animals again in the eternity of Christ. Paradise is open to all of God’s creatures.’’ (Those remarks were once made by Pope Paul VI to a distraught child, and were cited in a Corriere della Sera article that concluded Francis believes animals go to heaven.) An earlier version also referred incompletely to the largest animal protection group in the United States. It is the Humane Society of the United States, not just the Humane Society.

Other than those mistakes, the stories were accurate. Or as John Hindaker writes at Power Line, “Will the Last Employee of the NY Times Please Turn Out the Lights?”

Which better all be Al Gore twisty bulbs. And Saul Alinsky and I better not find any air conditioning on, or toilet paper in the corporate bathrooms!

Related: “How Much Does the NYT Hate America? Click Here!”  As Michael Walsh writes, even his radical chic leftwing alter-ego David Kahane couldn’t make this up, as the Gray Lady slides even deeper into self-parody. Though all those crazy low-sloping foreheads high atop Pinch Avenue are forcing the rest of us to really step-up our game:

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

The above Tweet is from the New Republic on October 1st of last year, with their fantasies of tank strikes on the GOP in response to last year’s government shutdown. As Jim Geraghty tweeted at the time in response, “The New Republic: Your first choice for violent, authoritarian, eliminationist rhetoric!” And back then, Twitchy added:

When Russia faced a constitutional crisis in 1993, President Boris Yeltsin did what any good dictator would do — he had the military surround the White House and had tanks shell the upper floors as a demonstration of force, announcing to the press that “Fascist-communist armed rebellion in Moscow shall be suppressed within the shortest period.”

It’s an efficient way to show who’s boss, and the folks at The New Republic seem like they’re warming up to the idea.

As I wrote at the time, Leftists convinced themselves in January of 2011 that clip art of targets and bullet points could kill — as long as it wasn’t their own. The same holds true of threatening a shutdown — they’re perfectly fine, as long as they come from an anointed member of the far left. “Elizabeth Warren Is Risking a Government Shutdown to Stop Wall Street. President Obama Should Join Her,” TNR is exuding today:

As always, for the left, the motto is, “It’s Different When We Do It.”

(QED.)

Speaking of which, Ed Morrissey adds today that in addition to Warren’s fantasies of shutting the government down, Maxine Waters is pretty cool with the idea, too:

Even the President’s usual allies are turning on him. Maxine Waters told her colleagues not to allow themselves to get “intimidated” into changing their votes shortly before McDonough arrived. Waters explicitly accused Obama of conducting that intimidation:

Waters gathered more than 20 fellow Democrats to her office Thursday afternoon to push back against the president’s efforts after learning of Obama’s lobbying effort.

And she’s not apologizing for it.

“We don’t like lobbying that is being done by the president or anybody else that would allow us to support a bill that … would give a big gift to Wall Street and the bankers who caused this country to almost go into a depression,” she said. “So I’m opposed to it and we’re going to fight it.”

Waters said the lawmakers who met in her office, including Caucus Chairman Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), divvied up a list of members and took to the phones to urge Democrats to hold their ground in opposition to the package.

“We’re fighting anybody who is lobbying to tell people to vote for this bill,” Waters said. “If the president is lobbying, we do not like it, and we’re saying to our members, ‘Don’t be intimidated by anybody.’”

C’mon Barry, intimidate ‘em and roll the tanks against your fellow leftists — you already have the (old) New Republic’s blessings!

“Detroit Free Press staffer is ordered to attend a training session on the day she’s laid off,” MSM inside baseball site Jim Romensko.com reports:

A few weeks ago, the Detroit Free Press warned that three positions would be soon eliminated, including web producer. That was Andrea Farmer’s job.

Friday was layoffs day at the Gannett paper. It was also the last day of a weeklong series of metrics and marketing (aka PICASSO) training sessions for all staffers.

I asked if I had to go to the training, knowing my position would be cut,” says Farmer, a 35-year-old single mother. “‘You have to be there,’ they said.” So Farmer joined about 15 colleagues in the paper’s Stevie Wonder Room at 9 a.m. last Friday. The Gannett trainers told the Freep employees they were to make a marketing video that included some personal information and a plug for the newspaper.

Talk about burying the lede — the “Stevie Wonder Room?!” Tom Wolfe would be laughed out of the room if he put that detail into a satire of old media.

So the Terminator franchise is entering its direct-to-video phase, it seems.

The horror. The horror.

(Via an equally horrified Moe Lane.)

As I wrote last month in “The Rise of the John Birch Left:”

The original Birchers weren’t bad people, but their Cold War paranoia got the better of them. Similarly, as Charles Krauthammer famously said, “To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil,” which illustrates how a John Birch-style worldview can cause the modern leftists to take an equally cracked view of his fellow countrymen…

…Which brings us today to Marc Ambinder, who according to Wikipedia is a former White House correspondent at the National Journal, contributing editor at GQ and the Atlantic, and editor-at-large, at The Week where he blows the battle trumpet, Col. Kilgore-style: “Why Democrats should treat Republicans like their mortal enemy.”

We shall fight Republicans in the hardware stores, we shall fight them in the supermarkets and in the Rotary Clubs, we shall fight them in the hills of Simi Valley; we shall never surrender our socialist chains!

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I missed the memo though: When did Democrats stop treating Republicans like their mortal enemy?

Shot:

Chaser:

Sarah Palin and somewhere just offstage, the ghost of President Reagan are each cracking wry smiles right now. (Somewhere else, a ghost-tweeter is losing his job.)

(Juxtaposition spotted by Nathan Wurtzel, elsewhere Twitchy is rounding up the former network newsreader’s well-deserved mockery.)

Allan Bloom, Call Your Office

November 30th, 2014 - 2:07 pm

A quarter century ago, in The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom wrote:

This popularization of German philosophy in the United States is of peculiar interest to me because I have watched it occur during my own intellectual lifetime, and I feel a little like someone who knew Napoleon when he was six. I have seen value relativism and its concomitants grow greater in the land than anyone imagined. Who in 1920 would have believed that Max Weber’s technical sociological terminology would someday be the everyday language of the United States, the land of the Philistines, itself in the meantime become the most powerful nation in the world? The self-understanding of hippies, yippies, yuppies, panthers, prelates and presidents has unconsciously been formed by German thought of a half-century earlier; Herbert Marcuse’s accent has been turned into a Middle Western twang; the echt Deutsch label has been replaced by a Made in America label; and the new American life-style has become a Disneyland version of the Weimar Republic for the whole family.

That paragraph was preceded by a personal observation from Bloom:

A few years ago I chatted with a taxi driver in Atlanta who told me he had just gotten out of prison, where he served time for peddling dope. Happily he had undergone “therapy.” I asked him what kind. He responded, “All kinds— depth-psychology, transactional analysis, but what I liked best was Gestalt.” Some of the German ideas did not even require English words to become the language of the people. What an extraordinary thing it is that high-class talk from what was the peak of Western intellectual life, in Germany, has become as natural as chewing gum on American streets. It indeed had its effect on this taxi driver. He said that he had found his identity and learned to like himself. A generation earlier he would have found God and learned to despise himself as a sinner. The problem lay with his sense of self, not with any original sin or devils in him. We have here the peculiarly American way digesting Continental despair. It is nihilism with a happy ending.

Flash-forward to this weekend, where in “Mark Joseph Stern’s Immaculate Conception,” Rod Dreher of the American Conservative catches a puffed-up Slate columnist exulting on Thanksgiving that he without sin:

The effortlessly humble Mark Joseph Stern, who writes about homosexuality for Slate, wrote a Thanksgiving column saying how happy happy happy he is to be gay. Excerpt:

What if I had been straight, and I had gone really, really wrong? What if, given the privilege of heterosexuality, I turned against all the vulnerable and disadvantaged people, who, as a gay man, I inherently empathize with? As part of my job, I regularly read the writings of people in whom something has broken or withered—people who have lost the ability to see the humanity in others. I put myself in the mindset of people who dehumanize and vilify and hate. I become intimately acquainted with the twisted beliefs of those who, encountering a person they don’t quite understand, lash out with cruel loathing and immoral rage.

Because I am gay, it is basically impossible for me to become one of these people.

Yes, because he is gay, Mark Joseph Stern was born without original sin. Mark Joseph Stern cannot, by definition, dehumanize, vilify, and hate anybody. He could never lash out with cruel loathing and immoral rage.

Except when he’s savaging the interesting 23-year-old gay writer Brandon Ambrosino, when he was had been hired by Vox.com:

Read the whole thing. If he was still living, I wonder what Bloom would have made of the above quote, or of an American embracing a rookie senator running for the White House who when asked in 2004 by a Chicago Sun-Times reporter covering religion-themed topics, “What is sin?” memorably responded, “Being out of alignment with my values.”

“Remember when Rick Santorum was the Worst Person in the World,” Jonathan Last of the Weekly Standard asks on his blog:

because he made the argument that the right to privacy created by Griswold opened up a Pandora’s box from which all sorts of things would eventually emerge–and that while we’re talking about homosexuality today, eventually we’ll be talking about “man-on-dog”?

That was back in 2003. And obviously Santorum was a kook and a bigot because it took forever for us to have other stuff start popping up–like eleven whole years!–and when it did it wasn’t “man-on-dog.” Because that’s just crazy talk.

It’s man-on-horse.

From New York Magazine–and just for clarity’s sake, let me emphasize–New York Magazine–“What it’s like to date a horse”:

Everybody wants to party in Weimar, but the hangover is a nightmare.

And incidentally, what is it with New York and horses these days?

Monty Python’s Flying Emotional Support Pigs

November 28th, 2014 - 2:26 pm

“They say pigs don’t fly, but this one came close,” an ABC journalist deadpans:

“But it turns out it wasn’t a duffel bag. We could smell it and it was a pig on a leash,” he said. “She tethered it to the arm rest next to me and started to deal with her stuff, but the pig was walking back and forth.”

“I was terrified, because I was thinking I’m gonna be on the plane with the pig,” Snolnik added, saying he guesses the pig weighed between 50 and 70 pounds.

But the flight didn’t take off with the pig. The woman and the animal eventually deplaned.

American Airlines, the parent company of US Airways, confirmed to ABC News that a passenger brought the pig aboard as an emotional support animal. After the pig became disruptive, she was asked to leave, a spokesperson said.

Click over to the article for the photo of the woman deplaning with her “emotional support pig.”

I know what you’re thinking at this point, because I was pondering it was well. Why was the woman allowed on the plane in the first place? Atop the Google search on what will likely fast become the three most dreaded words in the English — “emotional support pig” — is a 2012 article at CNS News (a spinoff of the Media Research Center and NewsBusters) is headlined “Feds: Airlines Must Let Passengers Fly With Pigs for ‘Emotional Support:’”

The manual states: “A passenger arrives at the gate accompanied by a pot-bellied pig. She claims that the pot-bellied pig is her service animal. What should you do?”

“Generally, you must permit a passenger with a disability to be accompanied by a service animal,” reads the manual.  “However, if you have a reasonable basis for questioning whether the animal is a service animal, you may ask for some verification.”

The manual instructs airline carriers and their employees to begin by asking questions about the animal, such as, “What tasks or functions does your animal perform for you?” or “What has its training been?”

“If you are not satisfied with the credibility of the answers to these questions or if the service animal is an emotional support or psychiatric service animal, you may request further verification,” the guidebook states.  “You should also call a CRO [Complaints Resolution Official] if there is any further doubt as to whether the pot-bellied pig is the passenger’s service animal.”

If the answers are satisfactory, pot-bellied pigs, which can weigh as much as 300 pounds, must be accepted aboard the plane.

So just to confirm: a bottle of Visine or Evian risks confiscation by the TSA. An emotional support pig? Have a nice flight!

When it comes to both the insane government regulations, and the YOLO woman who decided to test them out, this isn’t really how I pictured humanity behaving in the 21st century when I was kid.

On the other hand, it’s great to see coming passenger jet designs finally starting to resemble the Estes model rockets I built back then. To bring this post full-circle, who will be the first person to bring an emotional support pig onto a transonic airliner?

Update: Nerval’s lobster could not be reached for comment, nor its owner to remind people that he pulled this same basic shock the bourgeois stunt over a century and a half ago.

More: I take all of the above cynicism back, now that I have my very own emotional support pig — who’s following me on Twitter! Of course, feel free to borrow him whenever you fly.

Arthur C. Carlson was right: as God is my witness, turkeys can fly! “After centuries of being largely earthbound, your Thanksgiving turkey is finally able to fly. That is, with the help of a drone … and into a boiling pot of oil.”

What is it with the Times and food, anyhow? In addition to yesterday’s incredible Thanksgiving recipe correction, in 2010, when Pinch’s son Arthur G. Sulzberger was named the Times’ “Kansas City correspondent,” the paper put out a preening memo that actually stated Pinch Jr. “may be hard pressed to find vegetarian food amid all the barbecue joints, but he’ll have no trouble finding stories,” thus reinforcing the cliche, how do you someone is a vegetarian? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you within 30 seconds of meeting them, and causing Kathy Shaidle to quip,  “Outside of Manhattan, ‘vegetarian food’ is widely available at things called ‘supermarkets.’”

And beyond that easily-found source, they can be located in .36 seconds using a “Website” called “Google” found on a relatively new technology called the “World Wide Web,” which has been around since the early 1990s, running on a slightly older platform called  “the Internet,” invented in 1969, by, ironically enough, the military-industrial complex. (Pinch, Punch, and likely the newest Sulzberger have actually heard of that last item, hence the lack of quotation marks associated with what is perceived to be novel and new.)

As for the rest of us, enjoy your turkey! It’s a free gift from your friends at PJM, as our news helicopter is airlifting dozens of them to your local shopping mall even as we speak:

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See America, with your heteronormative anti-Native American anti-Vegan beloved artery-clogging Red State “holidays?” See what the Times has to go through just to play along with the charade that it even tangentially approves of this sort of thing? (Either that, or who knew Jayson Blair was back and editing the paper’s cooking section?)

Forgetting Your Own Lessons

November 26th, 2014 - 5:54 pm

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

Which is a curious tweet, given that according to security cameras, Michael Brown appeared to violate multiple examples of the excellent advice that Rock proffers:

(Yet another reminder that all comedy is conservative, even if its creators may not be themselves.)

Related: “I’ve looked at riot from both sides now….”

Not the Onion, apparently. Actually, it’s from the Campus Reform education blog:

Senior Oliver Friedfeld and his roommate were held at gunpoint and mugged recently. However, the GU student isn’t upset. In fact he says he “can hardly blame [his muggers].”

“Not once did I consider our attackers to be ‘bad people.’ I trust that they weren’t trying to hurt me. In fact, if they knew me, I bet they’d think I was okay,” wrote Friedfeld in an editorial featured in The Hoya, the university’s newspaper. “The fact that these two kids, who appeared younger than I, have even had to entertain these questions suggests their universes are light years away from mine.”

Friedfeld claims it is the pronounced inequality gap in Washington, D.C. that has fueled these types of crimes. He also says that as a middle-class man, he does not have the right to judge his muggers.

“Who am I to stand from my perch of privilege, surrounded by million-dollar homes and paying for a $60,000 education, to condemn these young men as ‘thugs?’” asks Friedfeld. “It’s precisely this kind of ‘otherization’ that fuels the problem.”

Who are you? Well, you’re an inadvertent clone of Robert Fisk, the leftwing British journalist and namesake of the popular Blogosphere technique of fisking, who famously wrote after being attacked while covering the war in Afghanistan in late 2001, “My Beating is a Symbol of this Filthy War.” Fisk added, “In fact, if I were the Afghan refugees of Kila Abdullah, close to the Afghan-Pakistan border, I would have done just the same to Robert Fisk. Or any other Westerner I could find.” Or shorter Fisk: “I totally had it coming.”

Not mention the second coming of a zillion effete doctrinaire Manhattan liberals from the bad old days of the 1970s. Or as Jonah Goldberg noted in his August G-File on “Ferguson Agonistes”:

I grew up in New York City in the 1970s, when race riots were a thing — though not as much of a thing as they were in the 1960s. And that’s part of the problem. In the 1960s, you could see the point of race riots (though less so in the North where they were quite common). But by the 1970s, liberals had incorporated race riots into their mythology as noble “happenings” even though the romance of rebellion had lost its plausibility. And by the 1980s, tragedy had been fully swamped by farce. It is an axiomatic truth going back to Socrates: Nothing can be wholly noble if Al Sharpton is involved. Nonetheless, it was amazing to watch New York liberals act like battered spouses as they tried to explain why blacks are right to loot while at the same time they shouldn’t do it.

To mash-up George Santayana and Irving Kristol, a leftist is someone who refuses to learn from history, and is thus doomed to get mugged by it, but refuses to press charges afterwards.

QED:

Related: MSNBC analyst finds the word “charging” to be — wait for it! — “‘racially-tinged’ and ‘offensive.’”

The Not Ready for Prime Time White House

November 24th, 2014 - 11:00 am

Peggy Noonan, who worked under Presidents Reagan and Bush #41 on how she reacted to when the Lewinsky scandal broke, altering the course of Bill Clinton’s presidency, and how the TV series The West Wing might be influencing Obama’s:

If you work for American presidents who are good men, you will inevitably carry forward in your head the assumption that American presidents will be good men. Your expectations will be toward high personal standards and normality. If you started out working for leaders who are not good men, on the other hand, you can go forward with a cynicism and suspicion that are perhaps more appropriate to your era.

The second thing the Horowitz story made me think of is this. I have remarked, and I think others have also, on the broad, deep impact of the television drama “The West Wing.” It spawned a generation of Washington-based television dramas. (Interestingly, they have become increasingly dark.) It also inspired a generation of young people to go to Washington and work in politics. I always thought the show gave young people a sense of the excitement of work, of being a professional and of being part of something that could make things better.

But it also gave them a sense of how things are done in Washington. And here the show’s impact was not entirely beneficial, because people do not—should not—relate to each other in Washington as they do on TV. “The West Wing” was a television show—it was show business—and it had to conform to the rules of drama and entertainment, building tension and inventing situations that wouldn’t really happen in real life.

Once when I briefly worked on the show, there was a scene in which the press secretary confronts the president and tells him off about some issue. Then she turned her back and walked out. I wrote a note to the creator, Aaron Sorkin, and said, Aaron, press secretaries don’t upbraid presidents in this way, and they don’t punctuate their point by turning their backs and storming out. I cannot remember his reply, but it was probably along the lines of, “In TV they do!”

“The West Wing” was so groundbreaking, and had in so many ways such a benign impact. But I wonder if it didn’t give an entire generation the impression that how you do it on a TV drama is how you do it in real life.

Last night’s post on Ferguson mentioned Tom Wolfe’s “information ricochet” theory, which he expounded upon further in another interview, quoted here. Basically, the theory boils down to real life inspires hugely popular movie or TV series, which makes loads more stuff up for drama and exciting visuals, which in-turn influences real life. Rinse and repeat. Plenty of mafiosos watched the myths and visual poetry of The Godfather (which Obama has claimed is his favorite movie, incidentally) and thought “Whoa, so that’s how we do it, boys!” So why wouldn’t the seven seasons of The West Wing have a similar impact on wannabe politicians and their staffers, who probably watch them as intently as geeks watch Star Trek reruns or women watched Sex In the City for pointers?

Related: Sadly, police departments may have also viewed The Godfather as a how-to guide.

Former DC Mayor Marion Barry Dead at 78

November 23rd, 2014 - 12:30 am
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Marion Barry served as grand marshal of the Washington DC Martin Luther King Day Parade on Jan. 15, 2001. Photo by Ryan Rodrick Beiler / Shutterstock.com.

“Former District of Columbia Mayor Marion Barry, whose four terms were overshadowed by his 1990 arrest after being caught on videotape smoking crack cocaine, died Sunday morning,” AP reports in a breaking story:

Barry D.C. council spokeswoman LaToya Foster says he died shortly after midnight Sunday at a hospital in Washington. He had battled kidney problems stemming from diabetes and high blood pressure and underwent a kidney transplant in February 2009.

To its credit, AP’s article does focus on when it all went wrong for Barry…

During much of the period between 1984 and 1990, Barry was under federal investigation for his ties to drug suspects. He consistently denied using drugs, but his late-night partying began to take a toll on his job performance.

On Jan. 19, 1990, FBI agents videotaped him buying and smoking crack cocaine in a hotel room not far from the White House. The tape, which included his subsequent arrest, was widely distributed to the media and made Barry infamous worldwide.

A few months after his arrest, long-time civil rights advocate and educator Roger Wilkins, a past supporter, wrote in The Post: “Marion Barry used the elders and lied to the young. He has manipulated thousands of others with his cynical use of charges of racism to defend his malodorous personal failures.”

…But — of course! — it leaves out the infamous four word quote that Barry will always be remembered for.

Update: Former MTV VJ Kennedy interviewed a defiant Barry in 2012 for Reason TV shortly after he was videotaped telling his supporters that “We got to do something about these Asians coming in and opening up businesses and dirty shops. They ought to go. I’m going to say that right now:”

Update (11:30 am): Matt Labash of the Weekly Standard wins the Internet today with his eulogy of “Marion Barry, Human Being:”

The unspoken idea, when I approached him in 2009, after a brush with the law for stalking his girlfriend, and after he was well past his political prime, was that I’d let him know when he was lying to me—which was often—and we’d proceed from there. Instead, we’d try to extract something real, even if his lies themselves were part of the realness. This dynamic seemed to liberate Barry, and so, even in his revisionism and self-justification, he ended up revealing a lot of truth. For starters, within ten minutes of my meeting him, he showed me his nipples (in order to display an old gunshot wound resulting from when Muslim terrorists seized the District Building in the ‘70s, and he caught a bullet in the chest). I was encouraged. In the profiler’s handbook, it clearly states that when a man insists you get eyeball-to-areola with him, there lies a man you can do business with.

Awesome. Do I even need to say, read the whole thing? Well, read the whole thing.

Standup Comic In Chief’s Zany Bedpan Humor

November 21st, 2014 - 3:02 pm

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don’t even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I’ve heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.

Ezra Klein, January of 2008.

“America is not a nation that accepts the hypocrisy of workers who mow our lawns, make our beds, clean out bed pans, with no chance ever to get right with the law.”

—The president today in Las Vegas (appropriately enough), as transcribed by C-Span. Mockery on Twitter was, not surprisingly, swift and appropriately brutal. As one Twitter wag responded to the president’s inane remarks, “And we have reached peak ‘If it were Bush’. Thanks for playing everyone.”

Update: Hillary isn’t covering herself in glory either today. Shot:

Chaser:


Cringe, indeed.