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Ed Driscoll

Radical Chic

“Drop in New York Police Arrests Continues for a Second Week,” the Gray Lady reports:

For a second straight week, New York City police officers sharply cut back on their actions in the street, arresting less than half as many people and writing more than 90 percent fewer summonses than in the same period a year ago.

The slowdown built on a drastic drop in activity that began shortly after the murder of two uniformed patrol officers in Brooklyn on Dec. 20, and continued across all 77 precincts in the city.

For the seven days ending Sunday, officers made 2,401 arrests citywide, compared with 5,448 in the same week a year ago, a 56 percent decline. For criminal infractions, most precincts’ tallies for the week were close to zero. Citywide, there were 347 criminal summonses written, compared with 4,077 in the same week a year ago, according to Police Department statistics. Parking and traffic tickets also dropped more than 90 percent, the statistics showed.

Of course, this is the paper that made Fox Butterfield a semi-household name for his infamously clueless headlines, as Boston radio host Michael Graham noted a decade ago:

“The Butterfield Effect” is named in honor of ace New York Times crime reporter Fox Butterfield, the intrepid analyst responsible for such brilliantly headlined stories as “More Inmates, Despite Drop In Crime,” and “Number in Prison Grows Despite Crime Reduction,” not to mention the poetic 1997 header, “Crime Keeps on Falling, but Prisons Keep on Filling.”

Mr. Butterfield is truly perplexed at what he calls the “paradox” of more criminals in prison coinciding with less crime in neighborhoods. An observation that might appear obvious to an 8th grader (crooks + jail = fewer crimes) is simply beyond his grasp. Butterfield of the Times is the poster boy for the greatest conundrum facing the American Left today: How do you explain to people who just don’t get it that the problem is they just don’t get it?

So I’m not sure if the Times — at least Pinch, MoDo, David Carr and their effete left-wing editorial board — considers this latest story to be good news or bad. The rest of New York may find out sooner rather than later though, as the Bad Old Days return to Manhattan much quicker than even us cynics on the right who had seen it all before anticipated in the fall 2013 once de Blasio was elected.

Update:

Insert Mencken “good and hard” quote here.

Death Wish VI: On the Turning Away

December 27th, 2014 - 5:11 pm

 

 


Ten years ago, Dan Henninger of the Wall Street Journal wrote that a then-recent issue of the Sunday Times “asked famous New Yorkers to identify New York’s golden age. At least four identified the 1970s as the golden age:”

This is worth notice because in the 1970s banks said New York had spun its credit rating into dross and refused to lend more money to a city whose accumulated deficit reached $8 billion. Today its budget office reports that starting in FY2006, per-annum deficits for three years will be $3.7 billion, $4.5 billion and $3.7 billion. There is a mayoral election this November when we’ll get the opinion of all New Yorkers on the city’s current alchemists. But perhaps we should regard the famous Times’ commentators yearning for the 1970s as canaries in the gold-plated mine shaft.

The actor John Leguizamo: New York in the ’70s “was funky and gritty and showed the world how a metropolis could be dark and apocalyptic and yet fecund.” Fran Lebowitz, a contributing editor for Vanity Fair: The city “was a wreck; it was going bankrupt. And it was pretty lawless; everything was illegal, but no laws were enforced. It was a city for city-dwellers, not tourists, the way it is now.” Laurie Anderson, a well-known New York artist and performer, admits the ’70s were considered “the dark ages” but “there was great music and everyone was broke.”

* * * * * * * *

One of the better-known artifacts in the archaeology of New York is the movie “Death Wish.” Released in 1974, it stars Charles Bronson as a Manhattan liberal who snaps under the burden of New York’s violence and goes into the subways to mow down thugs the cops can’t or won’t catch. Back then the city’s audiences cheered and screamed as Bronson smashed one civil-liberties platitude after another.

Peter Hall, in his magisterial study of history’s great urban centers, “Cities in Civilization,” remarks offhandedly that “not for nothing did New York develop so rapidly after the first subways . . . brought their trains into the center of Manhattan.” The subways, of course, aren’t for the tourists but for unwealthy city-dwellers. Starting in 1970, fires, collisions and derailments routinely wrecked New York’s subways, injuring and even killing passengers. In August 1973, a chunk of concrete fell from the roof of the IRT Steinway tunnel and killed a passenger. A 1975 fire trapped 12,000 evening rush-hour passengers. But the cars were colorful. They were covered with graffiti, celebrated by Norman Mailer in a famously provocative paean to the graffiti painters.

The ’70s golden-agers in the Times story don’t deny what was going on then–but they kind of miss it. The photographer Mary Ellen Mark remembers “it was a time of costume and excitement, a time of youth and great energy.” Caleb Carr, the novelist of old-time New York, thinks the city has been “sterilized by the Giuliani years.” He says that “like a troublesome child taking Ritalin, New York may be more manageable now, but it has also sacrificed its personality.”

These comments raise the question of just what liberalism believes makes a city great or even golden, rather than just . . . interesting.

As New York reverts back to the era of Bronson’s Paul Kersey and DeNiro’s Travis Bickle, we’re all about to find out — and not just Manhattan’s SoHo bobo class, but its citizens who lead far less cossetted lives. As Heather Mac Donald noted this past week, “thousands of black men are alive today who would have been killed years ago had data-driven policing not brought down the homicide levels of the early 1990s.”

And note that the left is having a meltdown over the NYPD turning their backs en masse on New York’s tyro far left, radical chic-loving mayor. We’ve seen this panic before from Democrats and their operatives with bylines haven’t we?

Why, yes we have.

Update:Oof: Bill de Blasio spurned by NYPD at Rafael Ramos funeral.

Time for Comcast-NBC to Fire Al Sharpton

December 27th, 2014 - 12:50 pm
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“Happy New Year,” Jeffrey Lord of NewsBusters proffers to Comcast-NBC. “Now do yourself and your company a favor and fire the man identified by Mediaite as ..really…’the most powerful man in America.’ Who would that be, as described here, exactly? ‘Outside of the president, Al Sharpton might possibly be the most powerful man in America right now:’”

And — drumroll, please — Power Indicator # 4 is that “Unlike the rest of us, he’s excused from paying taxes.” The latter point stunningly correct, Sharpton’s massive unpaid tax bills clearly one big no-never-mind to even the president himself.

But to the point here the most important indicator of Sharpton’s power, as noted by Concha with what seems to be unerring accuracy, is Power Indicator # 3, Sharpton’s hour-long nightly show on MSNBC. Not only is Sharpton a lousy, painful-to-watch TV host, his ratings are somewhere below the cellar, losing his time slot regularly and worse than badly to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and, of course, to Fox’s Bret Baier. Yet there is not a hint that Sharpton’s show will get the axe from the network.  And why might that be? In Concha’s perceptive words;

“So if the ratings are bad and the delivery even worse, why and how does Sharpton still have a program on the air? Answer: Because Comcast and NBC — and this is just an educated guess — must be petrified to fire him (by, yes, the race card being turned against them). Remember, Sharpton gave his crucial blessing to the Comcast/NBC Universal merger a few years back. Not long after, he was magically given his own show at 6:00 p.m. on MSNBC. Reciprocity at its finest.”

Wow.

Not since President Woodrow Wilson used the White House to showcase the film Birth of a Nation has such a stark reveal existed between progressive leaders, their media camp followers, and their joint and constant need to play the race card — use out and out racism –  for everything from getting votes to ratings or audience support.

But surely somebody has to wonder whether Comcast/NBC will now allow themselves to be portrayed as the network that gives TV hosting duties to a man accused by no less than a former New York City police commissioner (among others) of having blood on his hands after the killing of two New York City policemen in the wake of the Eric Garner grand jury decision. Specifically, former Commissioner Bernard Kerik lumped Sharpton specifically in with New York Mayor de Blasio when he said of the assassinations of the two NYPD cops:

“De Blasio, Sharpton and all those who encouraged this anti-cop, racist mentality all have blood on their hands. They have blood on their hands.”

If all of the above wasn’t enough, there’s also the unseemly nature of a Comcast-NBC anchorman critiquing another corporation’s media output. Back in the mid-naughts, when Howard Kurtz and Mickey Kaus were both employed by divisions of the Washington Post, Kaus frequently pointed out the potential conflict of interest for Howard Kurtz hosting a weekly TV show critiquing the mistakes and excesses of the MSM on CNN while being employed by the Post. (Not to mention soft-pedaling scandals involving the brass at CNN.)

Kurtz’s wearing of multiple hats had nothing on Sharpton being a potential one-man Hays Office passing judgement over Sony Pictures.

(Slogan in above mock MSNBC ad supplied by network president Phil Griffin.)

You stay classy, “Progressives:”

According to a report via the well-connected* Maggie Haberman and Glenn Thrush in Politico, those commuters were not entirely unmistaken. Though de Blasio may not have felt himself entirely in league with the protest movement, he certainly sought to cater to them so as to avoid inflaming an already volatile situation.

People close to de Blasio also said he supported the Garner protesters not because he backed their position, but because he wanted to avoid antagonizing them in the wake of the grand jury decision not to indict the officer who killed Garner. Above all, one source said, de Blasio wanted to avoid provoking riots akin to the unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, after a white cop shot an unarmed black man whom he later said had attacked him.**

This disconnect between America’s elected officials, who have been effectively intimidated by a small but menacing anti-law enforcement protest movement and the greater public has, in part, fueled the backlash against the mayor’s office in the wake of the execution-style murder of two NYPD officers.

In an effort to project concern, New York City’s embattled mayor requested that the city’s protesters, to whom he has extended a perhaps inappropriate level of deference over the last several weeks, to observe a moratorium on demonstrations against the NYPD until after slain Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were laid to rest. De Blasio’s appeals have gone ignored.

According to a CNN reporter who was on the scene in Brooklyn on Monday at a memorial honoring the fallen officers, a group of protesters stormed the commemorative service and began screaming at the attending officers (h/t The Blaze).

While reporting on this episode, Sara Ganim made an effort to insist that the vast majority of those who attended this memorial were supportive of the NYPD. Her efforts could not have been more thoroughly undermined, however, by the sounds of angry protesters whom she had to speak over in order to be heard.

Crashing memorials for brave men killed in the line of duty? Why, it’s as if:

* Well, that’s one way to describe them. This definition works as well.

** Why does that sound like Thrush and Haberman are attempting to cast doubt on Darren Wilson’s story? Oh right, see previous footnote.

Related: “Bill de Blasio goes after media.” As I said at the start of the month, “There’s One More Shoe Waiting to Drop.” Since the far left de Blasio likely views all of the media — New York media(!) — as being to his right, does this count as our first big right-wing media bias sighting of the post-election season? In any case, this probably won’t end well for him.

Should MSNBC Cancel Al Sharpton?

December 21st, 2014 - 4:06 pm

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In 1987, while I was still living in New Jersey, I watched Al Sharpton’s initial TV debut in 1987 on the infamous Morton Downey Jr. Show on WWOR, and read in horror as he orchestrated the even more infamous Tawana Brawley hoax that same year. In 1991, I reead about the Crown Heights riots, where, as Jay Nordlinger wrote, “A rabbinical student, Yankel Rosenbaum, was lynched. Over a hundred others were injured.” So I was more than a little horrified to watch Sharpton transform into “Al Sharpton, Power Dem,” as Nordlinger dubbed him in 2000, when Democrat presidential candidates Bill Bradley and Al Gore felt obligated to make the trek to Sharpton’s office and kiss his, err, ring.

And then there was MSNBC a decade later. The Comcast-owned cable network began 2011 vowing a new tone of civility (no really) and comparing gun and violence-related metaphors to the N-Word. That was in January. By August of that same year, MSNBC was demonstrating its commitment to the Era of New Civility and Measured Discourse by giving Al Sharpton his own show. Even New York magazine noted early on that Sharpton’s “biggest opponent so far” was the teleprompter, and in the years since, Sharpton’s nightly “Resist we much!” battle with the teleprompter has become the stuff of legend.

But that didn’t stop Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC from telling NPR that “I’ve known [Sharpton] quite a bit. he’s smart. He’s entertaining. He’s experienced. He’s thoughtful. He’s provocative, all the things I think that MSNBC is.” And curiously, the NPR anchor was apparently non-horrified at that thought.

But today, after Sharpton-led protests have lead to an escalating spiral of violence culminating last night in the death of two NYPD patrolmen,  Peter Ingemi, writing at his Da Tech Guy Blog, has had enough:

You might say, “But DaTechGuy Mr. Sharpton has 1st Amendment rights” indeed he does, but said right does not extend to a programing on MSNBC, if that was the case then I would demand one myself.

I call upon the network to immediately “suspend” Mr. Sharpton and remove his show from their lineup.

It is their network and they of course have the perfect right to ignore my call for this action, conversely I have the perfect right to express my opinion that a failure to do so is a direct endorsement of the events of Saturday afternoon by MSNBC and by their parent company Comcast and consumers should act accordingly.

The Comcast contact page is here.

You can contact MSNBC here.

Or perhaps you might choose to contact their advertisers, I’m sure they must be delighted to have their brands associated with the face of the anti-police movement at this time.

Closing thought, If Comcast decides the Rev Al is a liability & removes him from MSNBC & said reverend’s followers quit the network in protest, would anyone be left watching?

Presumably, Phil Griffin believed that hiring Sharpton was a Corleone-level masterstroke: by having Sharpton on the NBC payroll, he’s not very likely to defenestrate another NBC or MSNBC anchor as he did to then MSNBC-star Don Imus in 2007. But Griffin had to know that he was making a Faustian bargain by hiring Sharpton.

However, reasonable people can disagree with Ingemi as to whether or not Sharpton should be dumped in the rapidly escalating wake of the violent protests Sharpton helped gin up. As with past anchors Keith Olberman at his must lunatic, Alec Baldwin at his most violent, and Martin Bashir at his most scatological, Al Sharpton is the spokesman for MSNBC — and Comcast — right now. After all, Sharpton is “all the things” its network president thinks “that MSNBC is.” as the network’s president says. And he’s a powerful daily reminder of just much hatred lurks in the hearts of the left:

Can the mayor of New York govern without the support of the police? We’re finding out right now, Roger Kimball writes:

Consider this exchange, overheard yesterday at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn:

De Blasio: “We’re all in this together.”
Unnamed police officer: “No we’re not.”

This was after police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, shot by a crazed black Muslim named Ismaaiyl Brinsley, had been pronounced dead but before the mayor and his entourage made their way through a hospital corridor jammed with police who turned their backs on the mayor, shunning him.

On December 3, in the aftermath of the death of Eric Garner, who died of a heart attack after resisting arrest, the mayor held a press conference and told the world that he worried that his biracial son Dante might be the victim of police brutality. “I’ve had to worry over the years,” de Blasio said, “Is Dante safe each night? And not just from some of the painful realities of crime and violence in some of our neighborhoods but safe from the very people they want to have faith in as their protectors.”

Ten days later the mayor was back in front of the microphone praising the anti-cop protestors in New York for being peaceful. That was the protest at which one could hear this chanted refrain:

“What do we want? Dead cops! When do we want it? Now!”

They got their wish.

It was during that pacific event that two police lieutenants were, as the New York Post  reported, viciously attacked by a mob.  The mayor described the attack as “an incident . . . in which a small group of protesters allegedly assaulted some members of the NYPD.”

“Allegedly.”

When my wife asked me last night why the NYPD loathe de Blasio so much, I quipped that as a young man, he read Tom Wolfe’s Radical Chic as a how-to guide. I was being glib, but didn’t realize how close to the mark that was until I read this link later in Roger’s post, to a September 25th article in the New York Post titled “Top adviser to de Blasio dates a cop-bashing killer:”

A top adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio is in a live-in relationship with a convicted killer and drug trafficker who considers police officers “pigs” and continues to get into serious scrapes with the law, public records show.

For six years, Rachel Noerdlinger, who serves as chief of staff to first lady Chirlane McCray, has been living with boyfriend Hassaun McFarlane, sources told The Post.

While McCray, accompanied by Noerdlinger, enjoys attending high-level NYPD CompStat meetings, her top aide’s boyfriend has plenty of serious crime stats of his own — a rap sheet that includes homicide, conspiring to run a cocaine operation, and nearly running a cop off the road in Edgewater, NJ, last year in an incident that was later pleaded down to disorderly conduct.

Still, the administration is sticking by him, despite what DNAinfo.com, which broke the story, described as online posts — since taken down — in which he repeatedly called cops “pigs.”

Classy stuff. But still though, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the left in January of 2011, there’s no way you can attack a single organization for the crazed actions and statements of its more extreme members. Or non-members.

Or its clip art.

Update: And speaking of radical chic:

 

“The End of Columbus Day is the End of America,” Daniel Greenfield writes at his the Sultan Knish blog, on the left’s annual groupthink black armband grievance freakout over yesterday’s holiday. But is the left taking a second look at the man who discovered America?

At Hot Air today, “St. Louis protesters refer to Columbus as the ‘first looter,’” Jazz Shaw writes:

One of the most interesting sentiments being expressed, however, touched on the fact that the latest protest was taking place on Columbus Day.

“This is the real definition of resistance … this thing right here that we’re doing right now is not only a symbolism of what we can do when we stick together, this is … It’s the beginning in a change in our consciousness as a people, as a human race,” Dhoruba Shakur said.

They noted the significance of it being Columbus Day, calling him “the first looter” and saying they were “reclaiming” the college campus. “I know this was a college a couple of hours ago, but as of right now this is our spot and we not going nowhere,” a protest leader said.

If Columbus is “The First Looter,” that’s good from the left’s perspective, isn’t it? After all, as a Salon columnist wrote in August at the height of the riots ginned up by Comcast-NBC-MSNBC in Ferguson:

It seems far easier to focus on the few looters who have reacted unproductively to this tragedy than to focus on the killing of Michael Brown. Perhaps looting seems like a thing we can control. I refuse. I refuse to condemn the folks engaged in these acts, because I respect black rage.

So win-win for all on Columbus Day, right? Centrist, conservative, libertarian and sensible moderate Americans can continue think of him as the man who discovered the New World and establishing a foothold that would lead to founding of the greatest nation on earth, which would go on to save Europe from socialist totalitarianism three times in a row in the 20th century. 21st century American socialist totalitarians can now consider Columbus as a man with wicked cool superfly gangsta street cred as the First Looter.

Problem solved! You’re welcome, America.

Ferguson Fizzles

August 29th, 2014 - 3:41 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ahh, the catty wars of the distaff Democrat newsreaders. “Couric Accused Sawyer Of Trading Head For Headlines,” the Daily Caller quips, quoting from the err, juiciest detail from Sheila Weller’s upcoming book, The News Sorority:

It’s a battle of the female news anchors in veteran journalist Sheila Weller’s tell-all book, “The News Sorority,” which outlines the fiercely competitive careers of Katie Couric, Diane Sawyer and Christiane Amanpour. Though the book doesn’t hit shelves for a full month, its revelations are prematurely exploding everywhere.

The Daily Beast published some highlights, and perhaps the most shocking is how Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer allegedly fought for exclusive stories:

“When Diane beat Katie on an interview with a 57-year-old woman who’d given birth to twins, Katie mused aloud, according to a person who heard the comment: ‘I wonder who she blew this time to get it.’”

And speaking of whom, “As Diane Sawyer Signs-Off, a Look Back at Her Fawning Chats With Repressive Dictators,” from Scott Whitlock of NewsBusters:

World News anchor and long-time ABC journalist Diane Sawyer signed off for the last time on Wednesday night. The host’s final show included a music montage as she offered a behind the scenes look at how the program is created. Sawyer praised World News as “the flag ship broadcast of ABC where Peter Jennings created a signature of such curiosity and courage.”

Talking to viewers, Sawyer said of the people behind her show: “Determination and the certainty of purpose: They’re doing it for you.” [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Sawyer joined ABC in 1989 and if there’s been one constant during her long career, it’s been fawning, credulous reporting on dictators. On February 19, 2008, she cooed over Fidel Castro: “From a tiny island, a larger than life personality….Castro knew life is a stage and played the part of the dashing revolutionary, coming to New York, getting rock star treatment.”

Here are some of Sawyer’s most gushing reporting on repressive regimes, starting off with a trip to North Korea:

Whitlock notes that while meeting with a group of young brainwashed North Korean students, Sawyer described them as living in “a world away from the unruly individualism of any American school.”

Yes, we wouldn’t want our viewers to have to deal with too much of that unruly American individualism! And Diane’s rival Katie Couric certainly doesn’t — just a reminder, during Thanksgiving week in November of 2009, as the late Noel Sheppard of NewsBusters spotted back then, Couric used a rewritten version of “The Night Before Christmas” to plump for Obamacare:

Twas just weeks before Christmas and what do you know

Senate Democrats are once again praying for Snowe.

They won 60 votes to start the debate

But they’re back to square one and the just have to wait.

Wait for Blue Dogs like Nelson and Lincoln

Who say a public option would mean the economy sinkin’.

Wait for Joe Lieberman who says it won’t pass

And hope Mary Landrieu can change her mind fast.

The Republican votes right now total zero

But a trigger could make one woman a hero.

The moderate who hails from the land way up north

Could save Harry Reid’s Christmas with a deal she brought forth.

Urging government plans for when private ones fail

To think: both sides happy, can both sides prevail?

At this point no compromise looms within sight

That means after Thanksgiving it’s on with the fight.

Enjoy your turkey and know we’ll be here

To help make this tough topic just a little more clear.

Gosh, and to think viewers tuned her out droves shortly thereafter — I wonder why?

And finally, from the world of distaff Democrats with bylines, Rachel Maddow transformed herself into a neocon so slowly, only Moe Lane happened to notice:

Mind you, I agree that ISIS needs to be squashed like an absolute bug.  I just wish that I had a time machine.  It would be priceless to see the reaction on 2004-Rachel Maddow’s face when she saw video evidence that 2014-Maddow was now committing herself to a morals-based, easy-to-escalate campaign in Iraq and Syria.  Or, shoot, the look on June-2014 ‘Iraq is the new South Vietnam**!’ Maddow’s face.  Because I’m pretty sure that Maddow was kind of arguing back then that, hey, the Communist takeover worked out all right over there, hey? She certainly didn’t want to go back into Iraq then.

Seriously, this is why you pick your principles first, and then let your policy positions be informed by them.  Because when you don’t – when you pick what you want to do, and don’t bother working out why you would want to do it – then you end up like Rachel Maddow.  Because she’s not really a neoconservative, you see.  If Maddow was, she’d have a moral center to her universe that was simply better than Barack Obama wants to do this, and I trust him implicitly. And she wouldn’t be required to change her opinions every three months, because the problem here is that Barack Obama here has no moral center that’s better than I want to do this, and I trust myself implicitly.

Presumably Maddow is simply returning to the opinion she and the rest of the American left held in 1998:

Let’s give Diane Sawyer the exit quote, which connects the dots on this post rather nicely. “You know, I wanted to sit on a jury once and I was taken off the jury. And the judge said to me, ‘Can, you know, can you tell the truth and be fair?’ And I said, ‘That’s what journalists do.’ And everybody in the courtroom laughed. It was the most hurtful moment I think I’ve ever had.”

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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jill_abramson_boxing_5-16-14-1

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.