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Ed Driscoll

Radical Chic

Tweet of the Day

July 19th, 2014 - 3:24 pm

I hope they’re both put out of their misery, the latter merely rhetorically, of course.

“The Problem With the Klinghoffer Opera” currently playing at New York’s Metropolitan Opera, is explored by Jonathan S. Tobin at Commentary. Kudos for using the singular version of the word “problem” in Tobin’s headline:

Defenders of Klinghoffer will claim, not without some justice, that many staples of the classic operatic repertory were once politically controversial and subjected to censorship. But comparisons with the operas of Giuseppe Verdi, to take just one prominent example, which were often rightly seen as subverting repressive monarchies or promoting the cause of Italian freedom, and Adams’ excursion into the Middle East conflict, are not apt. The libretto of “Klinghoffer” rationalizes terrorism, denigrates Jews and treats the plight of the Palestinians as morally equivalent to the Holocaust. Whether or not one accepts the notion that Adams’ creation is a musical masterpiece, as the Met insists, the point of the piece is one that is not merely offensive. It is, in its own way, a part of the global campaign of delegitimization of the Jewish state and the Jewish people. As such, the decision of one of the world’s leading arts organizations as well as one of the great cultural institutions of the city with the world’ largest Jewish populations, to produce this atrocity, even if won’t be shown around the world, is deeply troubling.

The problem with Klinghoffer is not, as some of its defenders have always claimed, that it humanizes the Palestinians. But by using the story of the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship, Achille Lauro as the setting for its attempt to juxtapose the Jews and the Palestinians, it creates a false moral equivalence thought ought to offend all decent persons, especially in the city where the 9/11 attacks occurred less than 13 years ago.

C’mon — if you’re going to craft a story of Jews being murdered to advance totalitarian political goals for the New York stage, why not think big?

(Additionally, perhaps Mel Brooks should slap a “don’t try this at home, kids” sticker on DVDs of The Producers. But as it always must, reality finally catches up to even the zaniest of satirists.)

Update: Target audience for opera discovered.

Seeing ‘em Jump

May 20th, 2014 - 6:33 pm

What motivates a person to enter politics? In the midst of an interesting breakdown of his landmark 1970 article “Radical Chic,” as part of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard’s “Annotation Tuesday” series, Tom Wolfe explains one big reason. But first, early in the liner notes, Wolfe first mentions his theory of “Information Compulsion:”

[T]his is my one contribution to psychology: There’s something called “information compulsion,” which makes you feel good when you supply information to someone. You got a few little status points because that person needed what you knew, and you gave it to him. On the other hand, if you’re asked something that you can’t answer, you think, What are you coming to me for?

And with that as background, much later in the interview, interviewer Elon Green asks Wolfe, “Do you think that’s why powerful people, despite it not being in their best interest, will talk to journalists?”

Yeah, I think so. I remember talking once to Abe Ribicoff. When I was a graduate student, they have these weeks where distinguished people come and make themselves available to all kinds of student organizations. We had a little thing called the American Studies Club. During the course of the week, Abe Ribicoff agreed to come. I asked him, very naively, “What is it that motivates politicians? Is it the money, the power? What is it? The publicity?” And he said, “Well, it’s certainly not the publicity. You get so used to it that you just expect it.” And then he said, “Unless you’re an idiot, it’s not the money.” And he says, “You find out that even at the federal level, you don’t really have that much power. There are very few people who you can point to, and say, ‘You do this and you do that.’” But, he said, “The real kick is seeing them jump.” I said, “Seeing them jump?” “Yeah,” he said. “You come into a room and everybody jumps up! Everyone offers you whatever seat you want. If you even hint that you might be hungry, 10 people want to go out and get you something from the restaurant.” He said, “Seeing ’em jump. That’s what it’s all about.” Of course, this was a student organization, and there was no one there with even an interest in publishing it. But he was really letting you in on something there, and you could really get a kick out of your own sophistication, if you say something like that.

Which sums up quite a bit about today’s politicians, and perhaps even our bloated and ever-expanding class of permanent bureaucracy, and their sheer paranoid bug-eyed terror in response to anyone who wished to take that frisson of joy of “seeing ‘em jump” away from them.

Read the whole thing, which in addition to the above conversational detour is quite fascinating, considering the impact of that period on today’s politics is still being felt. Far from divesting themselves of radical chic, Democrats have wallowed in it, to the point where the New York Times runs fawning profiles of former Weatherman Bill Ayers and his kin, former matinee idol Robert Redford recently directed a film in defense of the radical chic, Ayers helped birth Obama’s political career, and the Black Panthers’ namesake successors advertised on Obama’s Website in 2008, and were tacitly defended by his attorney general. And share some fascinating interconnections:

(Part two of that video is here.)

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A veteran Timesman dishes a little dirt on his recently sacked former editor. Donald G. McNeil Jr., a science correspondent who describes himself as being with the Times for almost 40 years emails a letter to the MSM house organ Jim Romenesko.com:

[C]onsider this lede, from a 2006 review of “The Lionesses” about female journalists.

I worked for many years as an investigative reporter in Washington, digging into all manner of government grubbiness for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. In this trench-coated, gumshoe world, I only occasionally encountered other women among the journalists poring over documents in obscure federal agencies or pounding on the closed doors of K Street, the capital’s famous corridor of lobbyists. By long tradition, this was men’s turf. It was telling that one of my colleagues once anonymously described me in a published profile as having “balls like cast-iron cantaloupes.”

Byline: Jill Abramson. Those of us below the rank of managing editor are simply not allowed to write like that.

Some of us old enough to remember Donald and Ivana Trump’s divorce playing out for weeks on the front pages of the News and Post wish this would all just stop. The only thing Jill could have done more mortifying than the boxing pic would have been to pose in an Angela Davis wig with her fist raised. But this flow of “let’s correct the record” notes also prolongs the tit-for-tat. Public spats hurt the Times[.]

McNeil writes that those like himself at the New York Times “below the rank of managing editor are simply not allowed to write like that.” But could any male at the modern New York Times describe himself in such terms? If any Timesman had the insouciance to actually use such macho language, for once, the Times’ vaunted layers and layers of editors would ensure that such rabid hate speech would never make it past the paper’s in-house computer network, let alone into ink.

But gender inequalities aside, I’m not sure why Abramson wouldn’t pose like Angela Davis (who just pocketed a reported and very capitalistic $20,000 for a speech this past Friday at Dartmouth sponsored by the campus “Gender Research Institute”), considering that the Times published a fawning profile of Bill Ayers celebrating his bombing of the Pentagon on, in a deeply macabre coincidence, the morning of September 11, 2001. And in December of 2002, the New York Times ran a profile of a young Yale student named Chesa Boudin, who had just been awarded a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship, as Bernie Goldberg wrote in 2004 book Arrogance:

It turns out that young Mr. Boudin is the son of David Gilbert and Kathy Boudin, two members of the sixties radical group Weather Underground, who have been in prison for more than twenty years for their part in a 1981 robbery of a Brinks truck that left two policemen and a guard dead. And because his parents were in prison, Chesa Boudin was raised by two other members of the radical group, Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers.

Yes, that Bill Ayers.

Now it was young Chesa Boudin’s turn to be canonized by the New York Times, whose reporter, Jodi Wilogren, tells us about how he overcame “striking challenges” while growing up, how he dealt with his epilepsy and his dyslexia and his “temper tantrums.” Chesa Boudin, of course, should not be condemned for the acts of his parents. No, he should be condemned entirely on his own merits.

An antiwar activist at Yale, he believes his parents were heroes. “We have a different name for the war we’re fighting now,” he tells the admiring Times reporter. “Now we call it the war on terrorism; then they called it the war on Communism. My parents were all dedicated to fighting U.S. imperialism around the world. I’m dedicated to the same thing.”

As Goldberg goes on to write, while Boudin railed in his profile against the plight of “the homeless in Chile, the poor in Bolivia, the illiterate in Guatemala,” at no point does Boudin or the Times tell us “anything about the suffering and hardships of other children much closer to home—the nine children left behind by the policemen and the guard who were murdered, in cold blood, with the help of Chesa Boudin’s parents.” Nor, as Goldberg adds, were the dead policemen or guard ever mentioned by name in the article.

“Reading this story, barely more than a year after 9/11,” Goldberg concludes, you could only ask yourself, ‘What are the people at the New York Times thinking? Are they truly this clueless? Are they so infatuated with the infantile radicalism of the sixties that they’ve lost all sense of decency?’”

The key word there is infantile. As the atmosphere of radical chic, Pinch’s moose, Jill’s tats and her carefully staged boxing pix all remind us, “The men and women who own and operate and produce every day the world’s most important newspaper are basically children,” which helps to explain the self-serving and juvenile metaphors they use to describe themselves — and their readers.

Related:

And David Carr’s latest article from inside the belly of the beast, to borrow Bill and Bernadine’s rhetoric is summarized by a commenter at Ann Althouse’s blog: “we are on life support. No one trusts us.” Plus this:

“I understand that if I come to work at The New York Times, the needs of the many will frequently supersede the needs of the one,”

Pivot from Jason Blair to plagiarizing Spock. Nice segue.

Heh.™

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

My Back Pages

April 9th, 2014 - 1:47 pm

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

The individuals in the Tea Party may come from very different walks of life, but most of them have a few things in common…Each and every one of them is the only person in America who has ever read the Constitution or watched Schoolhouse Rock. (Here they have guidance from Armey, who explains that the problem with “people who do not cherish America the way we do” is that “they did not read the Federalist Papers.”)

Rolling Stone, “The Truth About the Tea Party,” September 28, 2010.

Flash-forward to today:

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“Rolling Stone Mistakenly Plants John Hancock on Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s Back,” Josh Encinias, at the NRO Corner today. As Justin Green of the Washington Examiner tweets, “Pro tip: John Hancock didn’t sign the Constitution.”

But it’s a nice bit of karmic blowback against a magazine, which in addition to despising anyone to the right of Pete Seeger, last year thought Boston bomber Dzohkar Tsarnaev was so totally cool and early Jim Morrison dreamy that he was worth featuring on their cover. In his terrific new book Not Cool, Greg Gutfeld describes that gesture as the end product of a sclerotic leftwing magazine on life support, asking, “If the Rolling Stone offices had been the target of bombing, would they have put such an adoring photo on their cover?”

Actually, maybe they would. Think back to 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.” In other words, In other words, ‘I totally had it coming.’

Or as Gutfeld himself quips, “If only bin Laden had been younger and hotter. If only he’d had abs. Then Jann Wenner, publisher of Rolling Stone, who put the Boston Bomber on the cover of his rag, might have done him first.”

Is Peak Orwell Sustainable?

February 10th, 2014 - 12:02 pm

It’s no coincidence that the left seems rather Orwellian at times; after all, Ingsoc in 1984 was Orwell’s 1949 warning regarding what English Socialism could metastasize into a generation down the line. Why not American socialism?

One of the left’s current (and frequently Orwellian) buzzwords is “sustainability.” Lately, based on recent headlines, the left seems to reaching peak Orwell. Is such a condition sustainable? There seem to be an enormous amount of euphemisms, doublethink and moral evasions in the headlines these days. Here’s a just a taste:

In order to play the losing hand the left have chosen to deal to themselves and the rest of the country via Obamacare, some Ministry of Truth-style euphemisms regarding work and employment have recently become necessary. As Michael Goodwin noted yesterday at the New York Post, “America now has a government that views work as a trap and celebrates those who escape it”:

That is the upshot of last week’s remarkable exchange over ObamaCare. It began when the head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported that the interplay of taxes and subsidies in the law “creates a disincentive for people to work.” The report predicted the mix would lead to fewer hours worked, costing the equivalent of nearly 2.5 million jobs.

In response, President Obama’s spokesman pleaded guilty — with pride and pleasure.

“Opportunity created by affordable, quality health insurance allows families in America to make a decision about how they will work, or if they will work,” Jay Carney said. Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi applauded the law for freeing people from “job-lock.”

They never mentioned the implications of this distinctly Obama-ish New Deal. The subsidies that enable some Americans to decide “if they will work” mean higher taxes from those who must or want to work.

Republicans immediately jumped on the finding as proof that the law is a jobs killer and cited earlier discoveries about its destructive impact. These include Obama’s lie that “you can keep your plan” and the fact that many new insurance plans come with higher premiums and ­deductibles and fewer doctors.

Pay more, get less will be the experience for tens of millions by the time the law is fully implemented. And don’t forget its ­assault on religious freedom.

Economist Craig Newmark, the husband of popular blogger Betsy Newmark, boils the implications of the left’s recent tack down to a couple of sentences:

I love that Liberals have now decided that what individuals voluntarily choose–regardless of the consequences for the rest of us–is fine. Question for them: shouldn’t we therefore allow individuals to choose whether or not to have health insurance and if so, what kind?

Indeed.

Of course, to buy insurance of any kind, you’ll need at some point to verify your identity. Indeed, to do just about anything these days, you need to verify your identity — except vote, where in blue regions of the country, dead or alive, you’re more than welcome to vote early and often.

In fact, you even need to prove your identity via a photo ID card to march in anti-voting ID protests:

As Moe Lane notes in response, “I thought that it was impossible for North Carolinian minorities to get valid photo IDs! …Well, no, I didn’t: not being a racist, I don’t have as low an opinion of the intelligence and competence of North Carolinian minorities as does, apparently, the NC NAACP.”

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What Could Go Wrong?

January 27th, 2014 - 3:09 pm

“Rosie O’Donnell, 9/11 Truther and Hater of ‘Radical Christianity, Returns to ‘The View,’” Scott Whitlock writes at Newsbusters:

Former View co-host Rosie O’Donnell will return to the ABC program she angrily left in 2007. According to Variety, the 9/11 truther and denouncer of “radical Christianity” will appear as a guest on the February 7 program. Apparently, supposedly serious journalist Barbara Walters has no problem welcoming back the woman who in 2007 denounced her own country: “I just want to say something. 655,000 Iraqi civilians are dead. Who are the terrorists?” [See below for some of O'Donnell's worst quotes.]

On September 12, 2006, after token conservative Elisabeth Hasselbeck raised the threat of “radical Islam,” O’Donnell spat back: “Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America where we have a separation of church and state.” On March 29, 2007, the talk show host promoted 9/11 conspiracy theories on the show: “I do believe it is the first time in history that fire has ever melted steel. I do believe that it defies physics for the World Trade Center Tower Seven, building seven, which collapsed in on itself.”

In a statement, Walters hyped the return of O’Donnell: “I have great affection for Rosie and we have remained in contact throughout the years. I am happy to welcome her back to the program. She is always a lively and engaging guest and a part of the show’s successful history.”

Walters will receive plenty of hype and accolades when she retires this summer for being a pioneering woman in television journalism. But beyond the goofy “If you were a tree, what kind would you be?” questions and Gilda Radner’s classic impersonation, all those looking back on her career will ultimately remember are two bookends. Enjoying canapes and tea with the Black Panthers in Lenny and Felicia’s Park Avenue duplex during the infamous 1970 night documented in Tom Wolfe’s brilliant “Radical Chic,” and providing a platform for Rosie’s trutherisms and other rantings during the last years of Walter’s career. (Beyond Rosie’s 9/11 trutherisms, Whoopi’s a moon landing truther, and Jenny’s an anti-vaccine truther. Heckofajob, Babs; you too, ABC.)

Presumably, Walters believed the salon she created for such antics would lead to “the next messiah,” as a chastened Walters described her initial impressions of Mr. Obama last month; alas, the eschaton proved rather stillborn. When asked by critic Jay Sherman how he can sleep at night, legendary cartoon action star Rainier Wolfcastle replied, “On top of a pile of money.” I’m sure that will be a sufficient comfort to Walters as well.

In the meantime, here’s a sneak preview of what Rosie might be uttering next month.

John Kerry Flashes His Radical Chic Freak Flag

January 15th, 2014 - 11:04 am

“Kerry’s Moral Inversion on Terrorism” is explored by Tom Wilson of Commentary:

Speaking yesterday at the Vatican, Secretary of State John Kerry let slip a comment so ludicrous that one has to wonder how much wider the gap between reality and Kerry’s worldview can yet grow. Following his meeting with Vatican Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, in which the two discussed the violence in Syria and prospects for Middle East peace, Kerry delivered a public statement in which he remarked, “And so we have a huge common interest in dealing with this issue of poverty, which in many cases is the root cause of terrorism or even the root cause of the disenfranchisement of millions of people on this planet.”

In making such a claim, America’s Secretary of State commits a terrible moral inversion, one in which the terrorists are cast as the victims, driven to such desperate acts by poverty, while the people they murder, particularly when Westerners, are really the ones who are guilty–guilty of having allowed the great injustice of poverty in the first place.

Had a comment of similar thoughtlessness come from a Republican politician it would have instantly been set upon as a credibility-terminating gaffe. Yet, in this instance Kerry’s thinking is entirely in step with the line pushed by much of the liberal media. Kerry’s assertion here is, of course, completely untrue. But as Jeryl Bier at the Weekly Standard has already pointed out, this isn’t the first time Kerry has peddled such beliefs. Speaking last October at the Global Counterterrorism Forum the Secretary of State proclaimed, “Getting this right isn’t just about taking terrorists off the street. It’s about providing more economic opportunities for marginalized youth at risk of recruitment.”

Of course, Kerry’s been a proponent of radical chic for virtually his entire adult life, as these photos attest.

America was remarkably lucky in 2004 in defeating Kerry, but only temporarily; the political arc of the Kerry administration would likely have been virtually identical to the Obama administration; certainly the press campaigned for both men in virtually identical fashions in 2004 and 2008.

Quote of the Day

December 26th, 2013 - 4:57 pm

I used to stop by my local fair-trade/GMO-free/vegan/etc. coffee house since it was on the way to work. One day a barista in a Che shirt asked if I also wanted to buy an organic bran muffin or a gluten-free scone.

“You’re wearing a Che shirt and you’re trying to upsell me?” I said with a smile to the budding capitalist. He never noticed the irony.

—Jon Gabriel of Ricochet, in the comment section of a post titled, “Conflict-Free Hummus and the Politicization of Everything.”

TMI, Barbara, TMI; “Barbara Walters Warmly Recalls Holding Fidel Castro’s Gun In Her Lap,” as spotted by Newsbusters:

The December 23 edition of People magazine looks through old pictures with Barbara Walters as she “looks back on her most memorable moments” in five decades of television interviews.

During her 1977 interview with Fidel Castro “I spent 10 days with him, traveled through the mountains and held his gun in my lap,” she said. “People thought we had a romance, but we never did.”

Makes you wonder whether she was there for more than the Roquefort cheese morsels rolled in crushed nuts when she attended Leonard and Felicia Bernstein’s infamous “Radical Chic” party to fund-raise for the equally leftwing Black Panthers back in 1970.

And given that the quote came in People magazine, it’s yet another reminder of just what poseurs Time-Warner-CNN-HBO were back in January of 2011 pretending that any gun-related language gave them the willies.

For a much less romantic view of Castro’s Cuba than Walters’ ABC or Time-Warner-CNN-HBO would dare proffer, check out Michael Totten’s recent two-part dispatches from Cuba at World Affairs Journal.

Ted Cruz’s Castro Contradistinction

December 10th, 2013 - 4:20 pm

“Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, walked out of the memorial service for Nelson Mandela when Cuban ‘President’ Raúl Castro began speaking,” Jim Geraghty writes (and I love the quotation marks around the dictator’s faux-title):

“Senator Cruz very much hopes that Castro learns the lessons of Nelson Mandela,” said Sean Rushton, Cruz’s communications director. “For decades, Castro has wrongly imprisoned and tortured countless innocents. Just as Mandela was released after 27 years in prison, Castro should finally release his political prisoners; he should hold free elections, and once and for all set the Cuban people free.”

Which makes for quite a contrast with the actions of Mr. Obama today:

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Say What You Will About the President…

December 10th, 2013 - 2:58 pm

…But when he sees something, or someone he wants, he doesn’t waste time making moving…Forward.

Or perhaps, Pat and Vanna could let Sky News borrow a comma — they sure could use one right now.

Update: From 2010, an earlier Mandela-related argument on the necessity of the Oxford comma.

President Selfie Braces for FLOTUS Death Gaze

December 10th, 2013 - 11:54 am

 

Michelle Obama is not happy. And really, who can blame her; when the president is acting like a teenager at a state event? And the truly depressing thought: John Kerry or Joe Biden would have brought more gravitas to the event, had they gone in his stead.

And then there’s this dreadful moment, complete with quasi-presidential bow:

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As Otto Reich writes at the Corner:

American presidents should avoid shaking the hand of dictators, especially those that have American blood on theirs. One example of many: Raul Castro was Minister of Defense in 1996 when Cuban Air Force Mig’s, cold-bloodedly and over international airspace destroyed two civilian U.S. airplanes with four American rescue workers on board. President Clinton rightly condemned the attack as cowardly, while Raul Castro decorated his pilots for bravery. That incident alone illustrates the difference between the two systems that are embodied in the two leaders. President Obama seems unaware of the importance of his office or of the mantle of honor he wears as the leader of the world’s oldest democracy and the liberator of nations. There is no moral equivalence between the leader of the free world and the leader of a morally bankrupt military dictatorship that holds power only by force.

Reich adds that the Castro brothers have been looking forward to being photographed shaking hands with an American president for 50 years. It just took time for all of the details to sort themselves out. As Allahpundit quips, it’s “kismet at today’s memorial service for Mandela. One’s a communist who’s reduced his country to ruins, the other’s Raul Castro.”

But then, not all of the train wrecks of today’s event are Mr. Obama’s fault: “George W. Bush represents US with class, gets booed at #MandelaMemorial.”

You stay classy, South Africa.

And finally, two Politicos in one!

“Congrats to new media,” [Dylan Byers of the Politico] scolded via Twitter. “You’ve taken Mandela’s funeral and whittled it down to some baseless assumptions about selfies, side-eyes & handshakes.”

Byers immediately followed up that finger-wag with another, “The White House would be laughing, if it gave a rip[.]”

Except it is not just New Media reporting on the fact that Obama took a selfie at Mandela’s memorial service and shook dictator Raul Castro’s hand. Both stories currently enjoy prominent placement at the top of Politico’s own home page.’

To paraphrase the Gipper, sometimes the left hand doesn’t know what the far left hand is doing at the Politico.

Update: The same could very likely be said about the Obama White House. While Mr. Obama shakes hands with Raul Castro, “Alan Gross has been rotting in a Cuban prison for going on five years for the offense of distributing computers and cell phones to Cuba’s tiny Jewish community,” Mona Charen adds. “Not only is Gross an American citizen, he was an employee of the U.S. State Department’s Agency for International Development when he was unlawfully arrested.”

“NY Times ‘Dot Earth’ Blogger Draws Cartoon of Christmas Trees Tying a Man to the Car Top:”

Environmentalists prefer plants and animals to humans. The latest proof? Through a panicky global-warming tweet from Think Progress blaring “Floods and heat cause mass Christmas Tree deaths,” I came across a new cartoon drawn by veteran New York Times environmental reporter-turned-”Dot Earth” blogger Andrew Revkin.

Revkin had several pine trees driving a car with a balding white guy tied to the car top. “What would the next few weeks be like if the trees had a holiday for a change?”

Pretty much like this 1976 Saturday Night Live sketch on “The Killer Trees”, featuring host Candice Bergen, in which a murderous Christmas tree stabs musical guest Frank Zappa with one its branches.

Last month, blogger David Thompson spotted the New York Times rooting for graffiti artists when one of their prized canvases — a Queens warehouse — was stripped and repainted by the owner of the building. (Remember him?) Were there any Romans who rooted for the Vandals when civilization fell?

The Times has followed that story up with a sequel: “As Legal Graffiti Walls Disappear, Street Artists Ponder Future:”

For years they painted murals on the Lower East Side, paying building owners up to $1,000 to paint ads and personal pieces. But over the last 10 years, he said, he has gone from 15 walls to only one, as most were replaced by upscale housing, restaurants or billboards.

“There are hardly any spots left in the city for graffiti writers,” Mr. Feliciano, 47, said. “It’s going to mean that everybody’s going to be fighting for space. And you know what happens if they don’t have space to express themselves.”

Granted, he and his friends have a canvas nearby. Behind their studio is a full-size plywood replica of a 1980s subway car, which they cover regularly with intricate pieces and figures.

“We’ve been reduced to painting at the office,” Mr. Feliciano joked. “We can’t go painting trains at our age. At least this is easier in the backyard. And it has that shape we enjoyed in our youth.”

Don’t worry, I’m sure the Brave New World of the upcoming De Blasio administration will reopen the floodgates to all sorts of exciting opportunities for the destruction of city and private property, which the Times will no doubt praise in Barack to the Future radical chic fashion.

But in the meantime, “Is it too soon to say, ‘I told you so?’“, Ann Coulter recently asked:

A couple of weeks ago, the Times ran another item downplaying the coming crime surge under Mayor de Blasio. Former hedge fund manager Neil Barsky wrote a column mocking his fellow 1-percenters for fretting about the new mayor with this advice: “Calm down.” (I find few balms as soothing as being told to “calm down.”)

Reluctantly, Barsky admitted (17 times) that he is a very rich man. As he explained, he, too, enjoys the city having been turned into a “a millionaires’ playground” and having a mayor who is “one of us.” (Bloomberg’s not one of me, buster.) He sniffed that he found “this affluent angst more than a bit overwrought.”

They have learned nothing and forgotten nothing.

Liberal zealots view de Blasio as a breath of fresh air because he’s stuck in policies of the 1960s. That’s when Americans were assured by brain-dead liberals that if we could just improve criminals’ self-esteem, crime would disappear. You’ll see!

The result? The violent crime rate quadrupled.

We never got an apology on behalf of the tens of thousands of Americans who were murdered, maimed, raped and robbed as a direct result of liberal law enforcement strategies — much less the show trials these people deserved.

Liberal activists just waited out Giuliani and Bloomberg. Now they’re ready to retry all the old ideas. Mayor-elect de Blasio recently met with convicted criminals to get their views on policing policies. Wow! Look at de Blasio’s new ideas!

The ex-cons actually complained to de Blasio that they don’t like being watched so much.

The left simply refuses to believe that locking up criminals has any effect on crime and insists we just need to explain to them that committing violent felonies is wrong. (headline from Aug. 10, 2000: “Number in Prison Grows Despite Crime Reduction.”) It’s strange because liberals totally understand cause-and-effect when it comes to … well, um, nothing.

Suggesting that the “1 percent” – such as himself — are the most terrified of a de Blasio mayoralty, Barsky claimed that the massively rich have been the primary beneficiaries of record-low crime rates in New York — “those who can actually afford its housing, attend concerts in Lincoln Center, eat in its fancy restaurants and pay for parking to boot.”

Of course, one cost will be lower: no need to hire a sitter to attend a taping of NBC’s Saturday Night Live, or watch the remake of Charles Bronson’s Death Wish when it could be playing itself out nightly right in the streets.

Back in 2011, spotting a Timesman writing about a low-income housing project to be built in Woodstock and concluding — apparently with a straight face — that “the only thing more important than making the world better can be keeping Woodstock the same,” Kathy Shaidle responded,  “NYT accidentally summarizes ‘progressivism’ in half a sentence:”

“Progressives” live in the past — a past that (like the one they so often accuse conservatives of romantically yearning for) didn’t exist:

Rosa Parks wasn’t just “tired” — she was a semi-professional activist, trained at a Communist “school”; Alger Hiss was guilty; so were Sacco and Venzetti; there really were Communist spies in the State Department; FDR prolonged the Depression; “busing” increased racial hatred; Bush’s verbal SATs were higher than Kerry’s…

Once you realize that liberals live in a nostalgic past of their own invention and on-going promotion (like Mrs. Havisham or a tragic Tennessee Williams “heroine”) almost everything “progressives” do then makes “sense.”

Unfortunately, they and the rest of us have to relearn the hard way about the dire consequences of their actions from time to time.

Perestroika on the Potomac

December 2nd, 2013 - 11:35 am
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Personally, I want to know more about the Blackberry president quitting the thug life.

At the start of 2009, when the World Was Young and Dewey Fresh and Hopenchange was still lingering softly in the air,  “We Are All Socialists Now,” the Washington Post, under the imprimatur of Newsweek, which it then controlled, were eager to exclaim at the beginning of the Obama administration. The newspaper would also add a touch of Soviet-style command-and-control coordination to numerous leftwing writers via its then-new JournoList system of distributed talking points — no mid-century-style pneumatic tubes required!

At almost precisely that same moment, Tavis Smiley, an employee of the government run Public Broadcasting System, appearing on the corporatist MSNBC network would exclaim, “we’re all working for Barack Obama” and that “we have to help make Obama a great president.”

So how’s Moscow on the Potomac working out these days?

“Media attacks Obama’s ‘Soviet-style’ publicity policy,” the London Telegraph reported yesterday. “Major media organisations protest against being shut out of president’s events in favour of official photographer:”

Barack Obama’s White House has been accused of producing Soviet-style propaganda by press photographers who are furious at being denied access to the US president.

Mr Obama’s aides routinely block independent photographers from capturing him at work, before distributing flattering pictures shot by Pete Souza, his official photographer.

During a tense meeting at the White House, the practice was described by Doug Mills, a veteran photographer for The New York Times, as “just like TASS,” the Soviet Union state news agency.

Curiously, given the Times’ long embrace of the former Soviet Union, its current love of Sandinista socialist Bill de Blasio, and in-between, whoever is the designated Pinchurian Candidate du jour, that last sentence quoted above doesn’t appear to be a compliment.

But in the mid-1990s, back when Obama was just hitting the book circuit to promote Dreams from My Father, Al Gore, his transformation into a radical far left environmentalist complete, was taken to saying that “Good Enough for Government Work” — which for over the century, the rest of us used as a kinder and gentler way of saying “doing a half-assed job” meant nothing of the sort:

If you worked in construction back before the turn of the century and someone told you your work was “good enough for government work,” you’d have been pleased as punch. In those days, the government’s construction standards were higher than anyone else’s.

“Good enough for government work” meant the best.

That’s a definition that Barack Obama, who’s feared and loathed the private sector all of his life, would certainly take to heart. But as with many aspects of how the world works, from learning on the job as president that “there’s no such thing as shovel-ready projects,” to just this past month, “also discovering is that insurance is complicated to buy,” might be having a twinge of newfound respect for private enterprise. Just a twinge, mind you. It’ll pass, and he’ll go back to loathing anybody who actually works for a living. But not before this classic moment yesterday:

CHUCK TODD: David, the most interesting thing in this report, right, page one– it’s page three of the report, it says here that, “The team is operating with private sector velocity and effectiveness.”

DAVID GREGORY: Yeah.

CHUCK TODD: Okay, that is an acknowledgement that, “You know what? If this was a government operation for a long time and it failed, now we’re bringing in the private sector folks.” I mean, that is an indictment on the whole idea of government as a solution, frankly, when you look at [unintelligible].

The “unintelligible” is in the transcript — but then, lots of things that the left thought for sure they knew before attempting their recent gleichschaltung are proving to be unintelligible these days. Unexpectedly — except perhaps to everyone who didn’t conclude he was a socialist upon waking up on January 20th, 2009.

Update: “Our Dear Leader will be pleased by this latest offering from the Associated Press,” Jim Treacher writes.

Well, so much for AP pushing back against the president whose Justice Department seized their phone records.

Kerry of Arabia

November 29th, 2013 - 5:13 pm

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Mark Steyn writes in his latest column that “Iran got everything it wanted” as part of America’s “Surrender in Geneva:”

Explaining that their “singular object” was to “ensure that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon,” John Kerry said that “Foreign Minister Zarif emphasized that they don’t intend to do this, and the Supreme Leader has indicated there is a fatwa which forbids them to do this.” “The Supreme Leader” is not Barack Obama but Ayatollah Khamenei. Why is America’s secretary of state dignifying Khamenei as “the Supreme Leader”? In his own famous remarks upon his return from Munich, Neville Chamberlain referred only to “Herr Hitler.” “Der Führer” means, in effect, “the Supreme Leader,” but, unlike Kerry (and Obama), Chamberlain understood that it would be unseemly for the representative of a free people to confer respectability on such a designation. As for the Führer de nos jours, Ayatollah Khamenei called Israel a “rabid dog” and dismissed “the leaders of the Zionist regime, who look like beasts and cannot be called human.” If “the Supreme Leader”’s words are to be taken at face value when it comes to these supposed constraints preventing Iran from going nuclear, why not also when he calls Jews sub-human?

I am not much interested in whether “the Supreme Leader” can be trusted. Prudent persons already know the answer to that. A more relevant question is whether the U.S. can be trusted. Israel and the Sunni monarchies who comprise America’s least worst friends in the Arab world were kept in the dark about not only the contents of the first direct U.S.–Iranian talks in a third of a century but even an acknowledgment that they were taking place. The only tip-off into the parameters of the emerging deal is said to have come from British briefings to their former Gulf protectorates and the French getting chatty with Israel. A couple of days ago, Nawaf Obaid, an adviser to Prince Mohammed, the Saudi ambassador in London, was unusually candid about the Americans: “We were lied to, things were hidden from us,” he said. “The problem is not with the deal struck in Geneva but how it was done.”

But hey, it took Obamacare off the front page for a few minutes, so from the point of view of the Obama administration, which lives from news cycle to news cycle, it’s got that going for it, at least.

‘When Man-Children Weep’

November 21st, 2013 - 5:10 pm

The New York Times brings you this great moment in responsible journalism. A warehouse owner in Queens repaints his own building to eliminate the layers of graffiti that had accumulated over the years. Naturally, the Times sides with the vandals:

The owner of a building in Queens used a crew of painters to work overnight and paint over graffiti on a warehouse in Long Island City, wiping clean a canvas that was used by thousands of artists over the years to transform an otherwise nondescript, abandoned brick building in a working-class neighbourhood into 5Pointz, a mecca for street artists from around the world. By morning, the work of some 1,500 artists had been wiped clean, the Brobdingnagian bubble letters and the colourful cartoons spray painted on the building’s brick walls all covered in a fresh coat of white paint. “We are supposed to be the vandals, but this is the biggest rag and disrespect in the history of graffiti,” said Marie Cecile Flageul, an unofficial curator for 5Pointz.

It’s not your property, so yes, you are the vandals, and “disrespect” isn’t a verb. And why does the Times tacitly approve of a sexist slur such as “rag?”, by not commenting on it?

Blogger David Thompson, the author of the brilliant headline quoted above and the italicized portion of the Times article in block quote adds, “The moral of the story, gentlemen, is buy your own canvas.” One of his commentators notes another moral aspect to the story:

And it’s worth noting where the New York Times’ sympathy seems to lie. I suspect that anyone who’s had to repair their property after a visit from graffiti “artists” might take a less charitable view. Unless of course we’re supposed to believe that of the 1,500 sprayers and their various sobbing cheerleaders not one has ever sprayed someone else’s property, and that championing graffiti as an edgy art form doesn’t encourage more of it?

At an L.A. museum exhibit promoting the “artistic” “joys” of graffiti in 2011, City Journal’s Heather Mac Donald was ordered not to add a few additions of her own by the museum’s security guards. Similarly, it would be a fascinating thought experiment — and this is NOT an attempt to encourage such an effort — to find out how the Times would respond if someone fired up a can of Krylon on the walls of 620 8th Avenue.

But shed no tears, Gray Lady. With far left incoming mayor Bill de Blasio taking office in January, it’s only a matter of time before downtown Manhattan will once again have more graffiti than it knows what to do with.

(Via SDA.)

Mystery Seventies Theater 3000

October 16th, 2013 - 5:22 pm

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In 1970, the movie industry was in big trouble. The moguls who built the industry and guided it through its golden era of the 1930s through the 1950s were dying off; older audiences were feeling alienated by the industry’s current product, and the industry’s fortunes suffered dramatically. There was a group of young Turks who were working their way through the industry, but it would be a few years before they fully established themselves — and their most lasting contribution, via George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, would be to return Hollywood to its tradition of big budget family friendly entertainment, ironically enough.

But in the late ‘60s, outside the walls of the studio, the country was in turmoil. LBJ had declined a second term, Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were dead. Vietnam was in the headlines constantly — and frequently being misreported.

Add to it all the industry’s schizophrenia regarding Richard Nixon — the old guard generally liked him; the young Turks hated him with the white hot force of a thousand exploding suns — and you had an industry that was deeply confused.

We remember films from that period such as hippie favorite Easy Rider, and 20th Century Fox’s bipolar trilogy of war films — Patton, Tora, Tora, Tora, and Robert Altman’s countercultural anti-Vietnam parable M*A*S*H – but most of Hollywood’s product from 1970 dated very quickly.

Which is why I felt more than a little like the crew of the “Satellite of Love” on Mystery Science Theater 3000 this past weekend, as I watched a pair of cinematic bombs from 1970 that summed up the year perfectly. These were two films that I had read about years ago in Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide, but never caught on the late show, or purchased on laser disc in the late 1980s, during my obsessive NYU film days, so I felt obligated to see what I had missed. Don’t everyone thank me for taking one — actually two — for the team, all at once.

Workin’ in a Coalmine

My first trip back to 1970 was via the Molly Maguires, which had recently gone up on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Starring Sean Connery and Richard Harris, and directed by Martin Ritt, the film was about the group of Luddite-ish 1870s-era coal miners, who fought back against the poor working conditions and low wages of their employers by sabotaging equipment and blowing up mines and trains.

Paramount sunk ten million dollars into the film — which was a very big budget for the era; about equal to the final bill Stanley Kubrick handed MGM for his epic 2001 two years earlier. Given the production values and stars, Paramount was convinced they were about to mine box office gold. Connery was just coming off his initial retirement from the James Bond series, and Harris from 1967’s smash Camelot. The film’s director, Martin Ritt, had overcome ’50s-era blacklisting to score a big hit in 1965 with another British superstar, Richard Burton, in another morally ambiguous film, The Spy Who Came In From the Cold. 

But the first half of the Molly Maguires is largely set in a coal mine in 1870s Pennsylvania, and the oppressive blackness of the mine creates a remarkably claustrophobic atmosphere. It’s both a testament to the film’s production designer and its cinematographer, the great James Wong Howe, that the filmmakers were able to create such a realistic atmosphere. Particularly given that while the exteriors were filmed in the coal mining town of Eckley, Pennsylvania, the subterranean coal was filmed on a set in Hollywood, both for lighting and particularly for safety reasons. Obviously, “CONNERY DIES IN MINE COLLAPSE WHILE SHOOTING PARAMOUNT PRODUCTION” was not a headline the studio wanted to see on the front page of Daily Variety that year.

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Two Redfords in One

October 16th, 2013 - 11:36 am

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

“I think that no matter what you would propose they would go against it because their determination was to destroy this person,” Redford said of the “minority faction” in Washington versus President Obama.

“Well, I think whatever idea I would have had to make things work just wouldn’t have been accepted by this minority faction,” Redford responded when asked by CNN’s Nischelle Turner for his “advice” for Democrats and Republicans to work together. “They wanted, if it meant destroying the government, anything to keep him [Obama] from succeeding.”

Robert Redford today on CNN.

George Stephanopoulos was so enthusiastic towards Robert Redford and his sympathetic new film about an ex-1960s radical that the actor enthused, “You ought to get on the marketing team!” The aging actor/director appeared on Tuesday’s Good Morning America and endorsed the violent actions of protest groups. Reminiscing on his own past, the liberal Hollywood star recounted, “When I was younger, I was very much aware of the movement. I was more than sympathetic, I was probably empathetic because I believed it was time for a change.”R

After Stephanopoulos wondered, “Even when you read about bombings,” Redford responded, “All of it. I knew that it was extreme and I guess movements have to be extreme to some degree.

Robert Redford in April, promoting his recent pro-terrorism film The Company You Keep, with ex-Bill Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America.

Robert Redford was in Havana last month, not to score cigars but to screen his The Motorcycle Diaries for Cuban President Fidel Castro. The Motorcycle Diaries, which Redford produced, is based on the diaries Guevara wrote on a nine-month motorcycle trip through South America in 1952. Directed by Brazilian Walter Salles, it stars Gael Garcia Bernal (who moviegoers will remember from Y Tu Mama Tambien).

Guevara’s widow, Aleida March, attended the screening along with Guevara’s son and two daughters. The movie had its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January, where it received a standing ovation.

— The Baltimore Sun, March 7, 2004.