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Ed Driscoll

The Future and its Enemies

Through a Google Glass, Darkly

April 17th, 2014 - 11:52 pm

1984-not-a-users-guide

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kyle Russell, Business Insider:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conservatives in the Mist, Yet Again

April 16th, 2014 - 3:03 pm

Sally Kohn explains “What I learned as a liberal talking head on Fox News” to the Christian Science Monitor:

My time at Fox News was marked by meeting and working with some of the kindest, smartest, and most talented people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in life. As I said in my TED talk, Sean Hannity is one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet – and even now that I’ve parted ways with Fox, he remains a good friend and mentor.

For a radical progressive who once harbored negative stereotypes about folks on the right, it was a turning point for me to meet people such as Mr. Hannity, Karl Rove, Monica Crowley, Sarah Palin, and so many others, and see that – though we certainly disagree profoundly on political issues – they’re personable and kind and human. Just like me.

It’s strange to suggest that a seemingly simple realization such as that is in fact a profound revelation, but in our hyperpartisan era, when we often vilify the other side as being less-than-human, it is.

Which sounds almost exactly like what liberal Fox pundit Kirsten Powers said to Real Clear Politics’ Carl Cannon a couple of months ago:

Cannon began by asking Powers how she is treated by her Fox colleagues. He recalled that New York Times’ conservative columnist David Brooks was not well-received when he first started writing for the Times and asked if Powers had encountered a similar experience.

“People are really nice at Fox,” Powers revealed. “It’s been good for because I – before that, I lived in a real liberal bubble.”

“All my friends were liberals and I grew up in a really liberal family,” she continued. “I had a lot of ideas about conservatives and then I got to Fox and just, I was like, ‘Oh, they’re not all evil and stupid.’”

As I noted back then, Kirsten Powers was living out Krauthammer’s Law:

I realize she’s speaking glibly and off-the-cuff, but the inference is that on some level, Powers actually did believe that all conservatives are evil, thus butting up against fellow Fox News pundit Charles Krauthammer’s law of politics from over a decade ago. “To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil,” Krauthammer wrote in 2002.

Similarly, in response to Kohn’s article, Warner Todd Huston writes in the comments at Hot Air today:

You DO realize that there is a MAJOR admission in that op ed, right? She is essentially admitting that through most of her adult life she thought conservatives were evil… until, well into her late 30s, she finally MET SOME!

Sally Kohn lived in a liberal bubble for nearly all her life until 2 years ago she finally met some conservatives and discovered *gasp* they aren’t all like little Hitlers.

I’m glad that Kohn and Powers have granted those on the right are, as Kohn notes, “personable and kind and human. Just like me.” But why did it take working among them to make the epoch-shattering discovery* that half the country are actual flesh-and-blood humans and not The Other?

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Workers Versus Takers

April 16th, 2014 - 11:49 am

“86M Full-Time Private-Sector Workers Sustain 148M Benefit Takers,” Terence P. Jeffrey writes at CNS News.com:

All told, including both the welfare recipients and the non-welfare beneficiaries, there were 151,014,000 who “received benefits from one or more programs” in the fourth quarter of 2011. Subtract the 3,212,000 veterans, who served their country in the most profound way possible, and that leaves 147,802,000 non-veteran benefit takers.

The 147,802,000 non-veteran benefit takers outnumbered the 86,429,000 full-time private sector workers 1.7 to 1.

How much more can the 86,429,000 endure?

As more baby boomers retire, and as Obamacare comes fully online — with its expanded Medicaid rolls and federally subsidized health insurance for anyone earning less than 400 percent of the poverty level — the number of takers will inevitably expand. And the number of full-time private-sector workers might also contract.

Eventually, there will be too few carrying too many, and America will break.

Something that can’t go on forever won’t, to coin a phrase.

diet_koch_can_2-24-11-2

In response to self-hating Democrats discovering themselves awash in Koch Brothers money, as Thomas Lifson writes at the American Thinker, “Glenn Reynolds realized the electoral gold. He suggested (in his trademark all-caps):”

“I SUGGEST RUNNING THIRD-PARTY ATTACK ADS TO ENCOURAGE DEM VOTERS TO STAY HOME.”

As Lifson writes, “Brilliant! The ads practically write themselves:”

Mary Landrieu’s Majority Leader says the Koch Brothers are un-American. embedded by Embedded Video
Download Video . So why did Mary accept $11,000 from Koch employees? Louisiana voters deserve better.

Rick Moran points out that Democrats used this tactic to great effect in 2012, driving down GOP turnout by 3 million.

Best of all, this sort of ad can be funded by 510 c 4 organizations, as voter education. No need to advocate a specific candidate. So, potentially, the Koch Brothers could  write the checks to blanket states and districts with vulnerable Dems.

Via Truth Revolt and the Weasel Zippers, here’s the list of potential candidates to target:

koch_to_dems_4-14-14

 

Pompeii With Jet Packs

April 15th, 2014 - 11:48 am

“From the Ford Mustang to colonies on the moon: Predictions that the 1964 World’s Fair got right… and what it got very wrong,” offered up by the London Daily Mail. Though I’m not sure I agree with all of their choices for what the 1964 World’s Fair got right:

At the Bell System pavilion, engineers touted a ‘picturephone’ that allowed callers to see who they were talking to, a concept that lives on in modern-day apps such as Skype and FaceTime.

At the time, though, picture phones didn’t take off, said Lori Walters, history professor at the University of Central Florida.

She attributed that to high setup costs that made them accessible to relatively few.

And at a time when many men attended the fair in coat and tie and women in dresses, people weren’t quite ready to be seen on the phone at any hour, in their pajamas or worse.

‘We were still a little more of a formal society,’ Walters said.

Yes, just a little more.

The concept of the Picturephone eventually arrived as an option in the last decade for those who want to see the person on the other end, thanks to the Internet, Skype, and business video conferencing. But the original notion was that the Picturephone would entirely replace the phone in much the same way that television supplanted radio. (A medium, that come to think of it, is also still doing rather well.)

But what really makes these photos fascinating is that they visualize the last gasp of optimism in the overculture, arriving six months after JFK was assassinated and a year or so before LBJ believed that the government could do anything — and worse, everything — simultaneously: manned moon landings, Vietnam, Medicare, and end poverty simultaneously. When his Texas Sized rehash of the New Deal failed, and chaos reined from 1967 through 1968 and beyond, distraught liberals and the angry punitive New Left decided to take it out on the rest of us, resulting in the cynicism and doomsaying that would dominate the late ’60s and much of the 1970s. Just compare the tone of the ’64 World’s Fair and its audience of cool early Mad Men-styled men and women in the photos at the London Daily Mail with the tone of the collapsed overculture of the following decade:

(Via 5′F)

Update: Gee, this wasn’t the Kennedy-era headline I had been hoping to see repeated in 2014.

Oh, that punitive liberalism:

Under California law, the Franchise Tax Board has the “presumption of correctness,” meaning that the onus always is on Hyatt to disprove what the tax officials say. And, he argues, they keep changing their stories and their allegations, thus resulting in more years of legal expenses and disputes.

“It’s ruined my life. They keep coming up with these intensive positions, many hundreds of pages of allegations and such that we have to try and disprove decades later and it’s just very consuming,” Hyatt told me in an interview last week. “The FTB is out to get taxpayers’ money and it will go to extreme ends to get money whether it is entitled to it or not….”

The state controller’s office has yet to review the newly filed lawsuit. But former Board of Equalization member Bill Leonard, a former Republican Assemblyman, believes the state government is abusing rules designed to give taxpayers every opportunity to appeal a judgment to drag out a case against a taxpayer. The Legislature could fix the problem with a law granting a right to speedy trial on tax matters, he added.

It’s hard not to conclude that California’s tax agency is out of line as it continues to run up administrative and legal fees — not to mention risking potential multimillion-dollar liabilities — to pursue a decades-old dispute over where a taxpayer lived for six months. There’s a troubling lesson here for wannabe entrepreneurs, who might want to think carefully about their residency before they hit the big time.

Read the whole thing.

So in-between shaking down entrepreneurs and inventors, how’s California doing managing its own money?

Calpers also notes that “the economic impact of CalPERS benefits far exceed initial taxpayer contributions.” Lo, the fund claims to return $10.85 in “economic activity” for every dollar taxpayers contribute, which would make public pensions the best government stimulus of all time.

Their crude economic calculation is something to behold. The fund estimates that employer contributions account for 22% of every dollar in pension benefits, which would equate to $2.8 billion for the fiscal year 2011. Calpers then contrives a 2.39 “multiplier” from a “Social Accounting Matrix” to compute that its $12.7 billion in annual retiree payments generated $30.4 billion in economic activity and 113,664 jobs—more than a third of the state’s employment growth that year.

Note: White House economists used a multiplier of a mere 1.5 to arrive at their off-the-wall estimate that the stimulus program would create 3.7 million jobs.

Here’s a more honest accounting of Calpers’s economic “impact.” California taxpayers have sunk about $70 billion into Calpers over the last decade, which they otherwise could have spent on more productive enterprises or pursuits. For every one dollar workers contribute to their retirement, taxpayers are investing two. Local sales and property taxes have risen to pay for increasing pension payments. Public workers have also been laid off and infrastructure delayed—all of which has depressed economic growth.

Why, it’s as if Sacramento is absolutely determined to transform the formerly Golden State into the next Detroit.

Related: “Republican National Committee Marks Tax Day by Suing IRS,” Bridget Johnson writes at the PJ Tatler.

Breaking News From 1977

April 14th, 2014 - 10:50 pm

“Glow-in-the-dark roads make debut in Netherlands,” Wired magazine’s UK branch reports:

Light-absorbing glow-in-the-dark road markings have replaced streetlights on a 500m stretch of highway in the Netherlands.

Studio Roosegaarde  promised us the design back in 2012, and after cutting through rather a lot of government red tape we can finally see the finished product.

One Netherlands   news report said, ”It looks like you are driving through a fairytale,” which pretty much sums up this extraordinary project. The design studio like to bring technology and design to the real world, with practical and beautiful results.

Back in October 2012, Daan Roosegaarde, the studio’s founder and lead designer, told us: “One day I was sitting in my car in the Netherlands, and I was amazed by these roads we spend millions on but no one seems to care what they look like and how they behave. I started imagining this Route 66 of the future where technology jumps out of the computer screen and becomes part of us.”

Huh. I started imaging the HO scale slot car set in my basement from 1977:

The real-life glow-in-the-dark road certainly looks cool, in a cross between Tron and the above Tyco slot car set. But I can imagine plenty of unintended consequences with the streetlights gone from the highways:

What’s your take on this experiment? Would you want to see it replicated on a highway you regularly traverse?

“If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” Mr. Obama said at least 36 times. You remember, right? If not, just click on the  video flashback atop this post.

Even Politifact, the leftwing “fact” “checking” organization, grudgingly awarded Obama their “Lie of the Year” last year in the face of this reality.

Guess who proofed at least some of those speeches for the Obama administration, in-between taking credit for shutting down the government last fall? “Let HHS nominee Sylvia Burwell explain Obamacare lie,”  Marc Thiessen suggests in the Washington Post:

When speechwriters finish a draft presidential address, it is circulated to the White House senior staff and top cabinet officials in what is known as the “staffing process.” As part of that process, nonpartisan career policy experts at OMB review the speech and are responsible for attesting to the factual accuracy of everything the president says.

So thanks to Burwell’s nomination, Americans may finally get to the bottom of how the biggest presidential lie in recent memory made it though OMB’s fact-checking process — not once but dozens of times.

The first time the lie surfaced — when Obama told the American Medical Association on June 15, 2009, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what” — it wasn’t on Burwell’s watch.

But Burwell was OMB director when Obama declared on Sept. 26, 2013: “Now, let’s start with the fact that even before the Affordable Care Act fully takes effect, about 85 percent of Americans already have health insurance — either through their job, or through Medicare, or through the individual market. So if you’re one of these folks, it’s reasonable that you might worry whether health-care reform is going to create changes that are a problem for you — especially when you’re bombarded with all sorts of fear-mongering. So the first thing you need to know is this: If you already have health care, you don’t have to do anything.”

Burwell should explain to Congress and the American people how her office allowed blatant falsehoods to get into presidential speeches, including whether political aides overruled career policy advisers who warned that the president’s claims were untrue.

Sadly, “Burwell will still get confirmed,” predicts Bryan Preston at the PJ Tatler, “only this time there will be harder questions and maybe a handful of votes against her.” And perhaps some excellent fodder for ads in September.

Oh, and regarding Burwell’s hapless predecessor, “Sebelius Misspells Successor’s Name in Farewell Email,” to conclude her hapless Washington career.

By the way, where does Sebelius go next?

“Kathleen Sebelius may have a future in the private sector but her public office service is over,” said Kansas Republican Party Chairman Kelly Arnold. “Voters in Kansas have never supported the idea of Obamacare and having Sebelius as CEO of it has turned Kansans away for any support for her.”

All too often unfortunately, disastrous failures in government are often rewarded with lucrative private sector contracts — just ask an earlier and equally spectacular Democrat “Mistress of Disaster,” Jamie Gorelick.

Update: And thus, the circle is complete: “Sylvia Mathews Burwell Proved Her Loyalty by Digging Through Vince Foster’s Trash.”

eric_holder_race_card_big-6-6-12

A meme-worthy moment from George Will yesterday on Fox News Sunday, as spotted by Jeffrey Meyer of Newsbusters:

CHRIS WALLACE: We asked you for questions from the panel, for the panel, rather. And we got this on Twitter from Michael Daigeaun. Why is it that if you oppose their position and you’re white, you’re branded a racist? Both Attorney General Holder and POTUS race bait. George is that what’s going on here?

GEORGE WILL: Sure. Look, liberalism has a kind of Tourette’s Syndrome these days. It’s just constantly saying the word racism and racist. It’s an old saying in the law; if you have the law on your side, argue the law. If you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. If you have neither, pound the table. This is pounding the table. There’s a kind of intellectual poverty now. Liberalism hasn’t had a new idea since the 1960s except ObamaCare and the country doesn’t like it. Foreign policy is a shambles from Russia to Iran to Syria to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And the recovery is unprecedentedly bad. So what do you do? You say anyone criticizes us is a racist. It’s become a joke among young people. You go to a campus where this kind of political correctness reigns and some young person will say looks like it’s going to rain. The person looks and says, you’re a racist. I mean it’s so inappropriate. The constant implication of this is that I think it is becoming a national mirth.

It’s entirely possible to invert Lionel Trilling’s famous 1950 dismissal of conservatism in its exhausted pre-William F. Buckley form to describe the current dissipated state of the left, circa 2014:  the leftwing impulse and the progressive impulse do not, with some isolated and some ecclesiastical exceptions, express themselves in ideas but only in action or in irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas.

QED. (Dittos this and this.)

But Will’s noting that “liberalism has a kind of Tourette’s Syndrome these days” is a marvelous shorthand way of saying the same thing. I hope it catches on as a rejoinder, wherever leftwing Tourette’s Syndrome flares up next.

Update: “Cynical Race-Baiting Will Fail to Save the Democrats.”

Related: Heh.™

And After All They Did for New York City…

April 13th, 2014 - 7:26 pm

occupy_wall_street_time_magazine_parody_12-10-11

New York Court Struggles To Find Jurors Who Don’t Hate The Occupy Movement,” notes the American Glob blog, linking to the London Guardian:

It is the most important question being asked of dozens of New Yorkers lined up as potential jurors for the trial of Cecily McMillan, an Occupy Wall Street activist accused of assaulting a police officer: what do you think of her protest movement?

Unfortunately for those keen on the swift procession of justice, a series of Manhattan residents who presented themselves at the criminal courthouse this week declared that they strongly disagreed with it – and could not promise to be impartial about one of its members.

“I’m involved in Wall Street things. I’m on the Wall Street side, not their side,” George Yih, one of a group of prospective jurors whose names were plucked from a tombola by the clerk, said under questioning from Judge Ronald Zweibel on Wednesday. “They can protest all they want, but they can’t brainwash my mind.”

Which seems rather odd — considering that the Occupy Wall Street crowd were in many ways a continuous outdoor performance art coming attraction for the de Blasio administration — when the two groups weren’t interconnected, that is.

(Time magazine parody atop post from the earlier, funnier period of OWS’s existence.)

The War on Dangerous Men

April 12th, 2014 - 10:30 pm

All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did.

—T.E. Lawrence, (a.k.a. “Lawrence of Arabia”), The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, 1922.

NEW WAR ON CHILDHOOD: Medicate Kids Who Daydream.

—Headline, Instapundit.com, today. The juxtapositions in this earlier Insta-post

HOW DOUCHEBAGS are created.

Related: More Young Women Choosing Dogs Over Motherhood.

…also seem rather related.

Barry Eat World

April 12th, 2014 - 7:19 pm

“Liberalism Is Eating Itself,” Jon Gabriel writes at Ricochet, adding that it’s alwaysa grand time sticking it to The Man until the moment when The Man is you:”

As President Obama assumed power, his Alinskyite past served as the template for a renewed politics of envy, personal grievance and payback. The One Percent must be punished for their wealth. Traditional marriage supporters are hateful bigots on the wrong side of history. Mitt Romney gave old women cancer and locked the younger ones in binders. “The Cambridge police acted stupidly” and “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”

As one blogger notes, “Barack Obama thinks his job is to lead the mob, not the country.”

But as is often the case with politics, the Left’s success bore the seeds of its own destruction. Any ideology that stokes anger and  neo-Jacobin tactics is innately unsuited to popular governance. It’s a grand time sticking it to The Man until the moment when The Man is you.

And The Man isn’t only in charge of the White House and Senate. He owns a controlling interest in the television industry and movies and technology and classrooms and music and art and sports. What’s a self-styled revolutionary to do once he has eliminated his most prominent enemies?

Create new enemies, of course.

Read the whole thing; I believe it’s outside the Ricochet 2.0 paywall.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that Democrats devoured themselves and took plenty of innocent bystanders with them in the process. With the exception of Barry Goldwater’s stillborn candidacy in 1964, virtually all of America’s internal conflicts in the 1960s were Blue Versus Blue, starting with the Vietnam War and its later discontents, as David Gelernter wrote in his 2012 book America-Lite:

That the liberal establishment came to oppose the war bitterly makes it hard to remember that America in Vietnam was a liberal idea—especially the militarily disastrous first phase, before Abrams replaced Westmoreland in command and Nixon replaced Johnson as president. But more than that, America in Vietnam represented just the same kind of heedless intervention by intellectuals in real life that was vigorously pursued by left-liberal intellectuals at home.

And as Gelernter wrote elsewhere in America-Lite, the antiwar movement actually preceded Johnson’s escalation; it was a creation of the nascent new left, about to devour the staid old left, which birthed the New Deal and Great Society:

What caused the American mood to crumble [in the period between the mid 1960s through the 1970s]? The civil rights struggle couldn’t be the answer; for one thing, it united rather than divided the country, except for the segregationist Old South. Maybe the bitter split over the war in Vietnam explains it. But that can’t be right; can’t be the whole truth. Antiwar protests were powered by the New Left and “the Movement,” which originated in Tom Hayden’s “Port Huron Statement” of 1962, before the nation had ever heard of Vietnam. And the New Left picked up speed at Berkeley in the Free Speech Movement of 1964 and early ’65, before the explosion of Vietnam. Bitterness toward America was an evil spirit shopping for a body when Vietnam started to throb during 1965.

The ’60s was leftism at war with itself all the way down: The Civil Rights movement was the New Left versus Democratic National Committeeman Bull Connor. Center-left JFK was assassinated by Communist true believer Oswald. Bobby Kennedy ran ads in 1968 repudiating his brother’s New Frontier optimism before he in turn was assassinated by a Palestinian nationalist. The riots in Detroit happened on the watch of Democrat mayor and Kennedy acolyte Jerome Cavanagh; the riots at the Chicago Democrat National Convention were, again, the New Left versus the last gasps of the New Dealers.

The GOP’s Richard Nixon understandably became synonymous with the words “Law and Order” that year, but again, upon election, in terms of domestic policy, governed as a continuation of FDR and LBJ’s alphabet soup bureaucratic-birthing New Deal and Great Society. Under his administration, the EPA, OSHA, the DEA, CPSC, and Amtrak were all spawned, and Nixon would attempt to curb inflation by — disastrously — attempting to institute wage and price controls, and was quoted as proclaiming ”I am now a Keynesian in economics.”  (Hence the recent, albeit grudging reappraisal of RMN by those who once hated his very existence, such as uber-Keynesian Paul Krugman, in-between calling for alien invasions and a rerun of World War II.)

Twenty years after the birth of the Great Society, as President Reagan liked to say, “In the sixties we waged a war on poverty, and poverty won.” And since then, we’ve recorded numerous doomsday global final countdowns having expired without the sky falling. But what happens when so many leftwing policies all come a cropper at the same time? That’s the topic — after a lengthy warm-up referencing the dreaded word “diverticulitis” (I feel your pain, brother), Jonah Goldberg explores in his latest G-File, titled, “When Liberalism Fails:”

I read some reviews of Jody Bottum’s new book (which I’ve now ordered). In, An Anxious Age: The Post Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of America, Bottum argues that today’s liberal elites are the same liberal elites that we’ve always had. They come from the ranks of mainline Protestants that have run this country for generations (with some fellow-travelling Jews and Catholics, to be sure). But there’s a hitch. They champion a

social gospel, without the gospel. For all of them, the sole proof of redemption is the holding of a proper sense of social ills. The only available confidence about their salvation, as something superadded to experience, is the self-esteem that comes with feeling they oppose the social evils of bigotry and power and the groupthink of the mob.

This strikes me as pretty close to exactly right. They’re still elitist moralizers but without the religious doctrine. In place of religious experience, they take their spiritual sustenance from self-satisfaction, often smug self-satisfaction.

One problem with most (but not all) political religions is that they tend to convince themselves that their one true faith is simply the Truth. Marxists believed in “scientific socialism” and all that jazz. Liberalism is still convinced that it is the sole legitimate worldview of the “reality-based community.”

There’s a second problem with political religions, though. When reality stops cooperating with the faith, someone must get the blame, and it can never be the faith itself. And this is where the hunt for heretics within and without begins.

Think about what connects so many of the controversies today: Mozilla’s defenestration of Brendan Eich, Brandeis’ disinviting of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the IRS scandal, Hobby Lobby, Sisters of Mercy, the notion climate skeptics should be put in cages, the obsession with the Koch brothers, not to mention the metronomic succession of assclownery on college campuses. They’re all about either the hunting of heretics and dissidents or the desire to force adherence to the One True Faith.

It’s worth noting that the increase in these sorts of incidents is not necessarily a sign of liberalism’s strength. They’re arguably the result of a crisis of confidence.

Which brings us to the other story of the week that’s been making the rounds, particularly on the Drudge Report: the Federal government siccing 200 armed agents on Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy. As to where that stands now, Rick Moran has you covered at the PJ Tatler.

Apparently, this front in the left’s ongoing Cold Civil War deescalated before becoming hot, but if so, do you get the feeling it’s only because the Obama administration (or perhaps Harry Reid) is having flashbacks to Ruby Ridge and Waco as distinct mile markers on the road to the GOP controlling both houses of Congress in 1994, and they want to avoid firing up a Republican base even more, one that’s already pressed to crawl over broken glass in November?

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“Push back against the age as hard as it pushes against you,” Flannery O’Connor famously said was her motto, and certainly Kathy Shaidle’s writing lives up to that ideal. As she told me during our new interview, “I grew up in the ‘70s and ‘80s, being born in the ‘60s, and in those days, it was all about free love and women should be able to have sex just like men and casual sex is great.  And let’s all read Cosmo’s sex tips and ‑‑ and sort of recreate Sex and the City in our actual lives,” the author of the popular Five Feet of Fury Blog, and a frequent contributor to PJ Media, Taki’s Magazine, and other Websites says.

Kathy’s new book, Confessions of A Failed Slut, an anthology of several of her related articles, “is my story of having tried and failed to live up to these social messages that were just everywhere when I was growing up, and finding that deep down, I wasn’t really temperamentally or morally, shall we say, cut out for a life of nonstop, no-fault, casual sex, and just sleeping around and pretending not to care, and doing the walk of shame and all that stuff.”

During our 29-minute interview, Kathy will explore:

● How the Love Boat, that weekly video voyage of the Hollywood damned, caused Kathy to begin seeing the world is “though a Gen-X filter of self-defensive snark.”

● Why Glen Close’s character in Fatal Attraction is “one of the most misunderstood females on film.”

● Why today’s women in rock and pop make the first generation of women in punk rock seem positively chaste by comparison.

● How TV’s Dr. Phil caused a Twitter storm when his show tweeted, “If a girl is drunk, is it OK to have sex with her?”

● In a pop culture obsessed with sex, why does it seem like the male metrosexual is so…asexual?

● Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean somebody of the opposite sex isn’t out to meet you: Going undercover in the 9/11-“Truther”-themed InfoWars Internet dating site.

● How to break free of the Nanny State’s crushing group hug.

And much more. Click here to listen:

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(29 minutes and 7 seconds long; 26.6 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this interview to your hard drive. Or right click here to download the 8.32 MB lo-fi edition.)

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

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

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“Health Secretary Resigns After Woes of HealthCare.gov,” Obama house organ the New York Times reports in a breaking story

Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, is resigning, ending a stormy five-year tenure marred by the disastrous rollout of President Obama’s signature legislative achievement, the Affordable Care Act.

Mr. Obama accepted Ms. Sebelius’s resignation this week, and on Friday morning he will nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, to replace her, officials said.

The departure comes as the Obama administration tries to move beyond its early stumbles in carrying out the law, persuade a still-skeptical public of its lasting benefits, and help Democratic incumbents, who face blistering attack ads after supporting the legislation, survive the midterm elections this fall.

Officials said Ms. Sebelius, 65, made the decision to resign and was not forced out. But the frustration at the White House over her performance had become increasingly clear, as administration aides worried that the crippling problems at HealthCare.gov, the website set up to enroll Americans in insurance exchanges, would result in lasting damage to the president’s legacy.

I’ll always remember her for the stellar moment from November pictured above, in which the administration that lives by Alinsky for once got played by it as well.

What’s your take on Sebelius’s resignation? Let me know in the comments below.

Update: Eric Cantor sticks the rhetorical scalpel in:

“The confirmation hearings will, I trust, be zesty,” for Sylvia Mathews Burwell, whom Obama has tapped as the successor to “the now departing supervisor of the Healthcare.gov Chernobyl,” as Allahpundit writes at Hot Air.

Related: Bryan Preston at the PJ Tatler has an initial take on her resignation as well.

“We don’t have a ‘gay mafia,’ we have a ‘gay Soviet,’” Bookworm Room recently noted. If so, then Mollie Hemingway’s latest article at the Federalist on “The Rise Of The Same-Sex Marriage Dissidents” dovetails rather well.

“Eich broke the rules of the game. Suddenly everything appears in another light,” Hemingway writes, along the way quoting from Vaclav Havel’s 1978 essay “The Power of the Powerless,” and updating it for another era of totalitarians searching for thoughtcrime and heretics:

In the greengrocer scenario, Havel notes that if the text of the sign read “I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient,” he might be embarrassed and ashamed to put it up. The dissidents are the ones who, by refusing to put the sign up, or refusing to recant, shine a huge light on the system, including the ones who go along to get along. All of a sudden those Facebook signs, those reflexive statements, those cries of “Bigot!” look less like shows of strength and more like shows of weakness.

Why was Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn driven out of his own country, asks Havel. It wasn’t because he had political power:

Solzhenitsyn’s expulsion was something else: a desperate attempt to plug up the dreadful wellspring of truth, a truth which might cause incalculable transformations in social consciousness, which in turn might one day produce political debacles unpredictable in their consequences. And so the post-totalitarian system behaved in a characteristic way: it defended the integrity of the world of appearances in order to defend itself. For the crust presented by the life of lies is made of strange stuff. As long as it seals off hermetically the entire society, it appears to be made of stone. But the moment someone breaks through in one place, when one person cries out, “The emperor is naked!”—when a single person breaks the rules of the game, thus exposing it as a game—everything suddenly appears in another light and the whole crust seems then to be made of a tissue on the point of tearing and disintegrating uncontrollably.

Whether Eich and other dissidents will crack our thick, hardened crust remains to be seen. Perhaps there will need to be dozens, hundreds, thousands more dissidents losing their livelihoods, facing court cases, and dealing with social media rage mobs. But all of a sudden, the crust doesn’t seem nearly as impenetrable as it did last week.

Read the whole thing.

The Rise of the Anti-Tech California Left

April 8th, 2014 - 3:37 pm

When I moved out to Silicon Valley from New Jersey in 1997, Internet fever was just about to peak (literally so, in the form of the bursting tech bubble that decimated the NASDAQ three years later). Silicon Valley was seen as the next big thing, ushering America into the wonders of the 21st century — and possibly saving the increasing bloated state government of California in the process. Wired magazine, based in San Francisco, was still owned by founder Louis Rossetto, and maintained its quirky but libertarian vibe, before Rosetto sold the magazine to the mammoth reactionary left Conde Nast publishing empire four year later. For those of us who had started computing on Altair 8800s and TRS-80s twenty years earlier, the mid-to-late 1990s was quite a ride.

It was fun while it lasted.

In his latest USA Today column, Glenn Reynolds writes that these days, “Silicon Valley Scares Americans:”

Silicon Valley has a trust problem, and it’s growing. Some of this is the result of National Security Agency spying — and the tech community’s cooperation with same — and some of it is based on other things tech leaders are doing. But the worst of it is based on who our tech overlords have become.

The NSA spying has already done harm enough. As Glenn Derene warned in Popular Mechanics when the story first broke, fear of NSA spying is giving a boost to offshore competitors, as companies and users seek hardware and software without back doors and compromised security standards. Some foreign customers feel betrayed by Google, Facebook, and other tech giants.

But even at home, the tech community is hurting. According to a study by Harris Interactive last week, people are actually reducing their Internet usage because of the Edward Snowden revelations and general fears about privacy. The study found that 47% say they have changed their behavior online, and 26% say they’re doing less online shopping. Among younger users, aged 18 to 34, the online shopping number was 33%. The Wall Street Journal quotes Stephen Cobb of information security company ESET: “In the technology industry, companies are finding that the sales cycle is getting longer, as customers ask questions such as whether an Internet router is NSA proof. ‘People are asking questions they didn’t ask before. To be in this place now, given the history of this industry, is just amazing. There is a level of suspicion and confusion we haven’t had before.’”

The California far left has always been confused — but their suspicion regarding their fellow high-tech mavens in Northern California is reaching new and paranoid heights, which Richard Fernandez explores in his latest Belmont Club post here at PJ Media, titled “Vanishing Point:”

There was an interesting postscript to the Eich saga in the bizarre protest held against Internet entreprenuer Kevin Rose.  The San Francisco Chronicle reports that protesters stood with signs and flyers outside of the Google Ventures partner and entrepreneur’s home in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood Sunday, calling him a ‘parasite’ and a ‘leech.’  Techcrunch has a copy of the flyer:

‘As a partner venture capitalist at Google Ventures, Kevin directs the flow of capital from Google into the tech startup bubble that is destroying San Francisco. The start-ups that he funds bring the swarms of young entrepreneurs that have ravaged the landscapes of San Francisco and Oakland.’

The flyer claims to speak for the service workers who “serve them coffee, deliver them food, suck their c***s [?], watch their kids, and mop their floors” and goes on to complain that most techies are “just like Kevin Rose,” though again, it’s short on specific criticisms, aside from pointing out that techies make a lot of money.

A supposed manifesto from an organization called “The Counterforce” makes demands believed to be related to the protest.

To this end, we now make our first clear demand of Google. We demand that Google give three billion dollars to an anarchist organization of our choosing. This money will then be used to create autonomous, anti-capitalist, and anti-racist communities throughout the Bay Area and Northern California. In these communities, whether in San Francisco or in the woods, no one will ever have to pay rent and housing will be free. With this three billion from Google, we will solve the housing crisis in the Bay Area and prove to the world that an anarchist world is not only possible but in fact irrepressible. If given the chance, most humans will pursue a course towards increased freedom and greater liberty. As it stands, only people like Kevin Rose are given the opportunity to reshape their world, and look at what they do with those opportunities.

There is no direct relationship between the Eich and Rose incidents, besides the sheer outré character of the events, but one can’t help get the feeling that they emanate from the same strange universe, whatever universe that might be.  But it’s all shadows with nothing besides fantastic flashbacks of “Scorpio” from Dirty Harry and the People’s Temple crowds bellowing for an airlift to Russia to lend it shape.

Business Insider suggests the protests were something more prosaic. It’s social unrest. It’s poor people fighting for their share of the hipster pie outraged at the high rents in the Bay Area and the outrageous pricing of goodies beyond their reach. It’s the rebellion of “social equals” who find they are financial inferiors. It’s the outcry of people who thought they were part of a great movement who discover they are, after all, only menials. That makes it all the more pathetic.

Transportation seems to be a curious obsession with the anti-tech California left. For several months, they’ve been fixated upon the so-called “Google Busses,” corporate busses which transport Google and Yahoo employees around the Bay Area. It’s an interesting equation — mass transit, which the left once viewed as an unalloyed good, versus a comfortable vehicle (well, relatively comfortable: at 6’2″ and all legs, I have to scrunch to fit into most bus or coach airline seats) used solely by corporate employees.

Which the San Francisco left view as bad. Very Bad. So Incredibly, Stupendously, Intolerably Bad, it can make you throw up:

A protester so aghast with Silicon Valley’s impact on the Bay Area has gone as far as to vomit on a Yahoo shuttle bus.

The mystery demonstrator was among a group of protesters picketing the buses that ferry employees of the big tech corporations to work, deeming them indicative of everything wrong with the hyper-gentrified Silicon Valley.

On Tuesday, the group blocked an intersection in San Francisco’s Mission area, and protestors consisted of dancers in clown suit onesies.

But Valleywag.com reported that in Oakland, almost 50 ‘rebels’ blocked a pick up zone for tech buses and one apparently vomited on the windshield of a Yahoo bus from its roof.

I guess there weren’t any police cars around to poop on.

As we’ll explore after the page break, the Google Bus’s polar opposite vehicle, the tiny Weeble-sized Smart Car, is also under attack in San Francisco.

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ATTENTION INTERNET: THIS IS A QUADRUPLE FACEPALM ALERT. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. REPEAT, THIS IS NOT A DRILL — assuming Mother Jones’ story is accurate, of course:

Last week, the online dating site OkCupid switched up its homepage for Mozilla Firefox users. Upon opening the site, a message appeared encouraging members to curb their use of Firefox because the company’s new CEO, Brendan Eich, allegedly opposes equality for gay couples—specifically, he donated $1000 to the campaign for the anti-gay Proposition 8 in 2008. “We’ve devoted the last ten years to bringing people—all people—together,” the message read. “If individuals like Mr. Eich had their way, then roughly 8% of the relationships we’ve worked so hard to bring about would be illegal.” The company’s action went viral, and within a few days, Eich had resigned as CEO of Mozilla only weeks after taking up the post. On Thursday, OkCupid released a statement saying “We are pleased that OkCupid’s boycott has brought tremendous awareness to the critical matter of equal rights for all individuals and partnerships.”

But there’s a hitch: OkCupid’s co-founder and CEO Sam Yagan once donated to an anti-gay candidate. (Yagan is also CEO of Match.com.) Specifically, Yagan donated $500 to Rep. Chris Cannon (R-Utah) in 2004, reports Uncrunched. During his time as congressman from 1997 to 2009, Cannon voted for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, against a ban on sexual-orientation based job discrimination, and for prohibition of gay adoptions.

William A. Jacobson of the popular Legal Insurrection blog notes that Chuck Ross of the Daily Caller was the first to report on Yagan’s donations (Ross’s article is date-stamped last Thursday), and that Mother Jones failed to credit Ross for his detective work. In any case, as Jacobson adds, “So when does the boycott of OKCupid start?  After all, the people who took down Eich did so based on the, ahem, purest of principled judgments.”

See, that’s problem with breaking out the torches and attempting to imitate the crowd in a 1930s Universal horror film: you can very easily get scarred yourself by the blowback. It will quite interesting to see where both Firefox and OKCupid go from here, having both jumped off the cliff in short succession.

Exit quote:

Although the source of the quote is pretty rich, as that great philosopher Murray Slaughter once said of another journalist who frequently descended into madness, when an elephant flies, you don’t complain about how short the flight is.

Oh, and heh.

Related: The Rise of the Anti-Tech California Left.

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“One day at 4:30 in the afternoon,” Dave Barry writes in his latest book, his 13-year old daughter Sophie, “went into her bathroom, which is pink, and WHOOM!, some kind of massive hormone bomb went off there.”

The result has been utter chaos, both for Sophie, and especially for Dave himself, who’s having to deal with a massive influx of boys visiting his house. “They come around.  They come around all the time now.  There didn’t used to be boys in our life.  And now there are boys on the lawn, on the roof, in the trees.  They’re like squirrels; they’re just boys coming around.”

“And I don’t like it, Ed,” he insists. “ I used to be a boy.  I’ve been a male my entire life.  And let’s be honest.  We’re scum.  Of all the genders, we’re the worst one.  And that’s exactly the gender that is showing up now around our house.  And I Don’t. Like. It.”

Which is why the title of Dave’s latest book is based on reading the Riot Act to his daughter: You Can Date Boys When You’re Forty: Dave Barry on Parenting and Other Topics He Knows Very Little About.

Perhaps Barry is overreacting just a minuscule amount to the situation. On the other hand, you’d be feeling a bit harried too, if you recently returned from the following nightmare scenarios:

  • Going to your first Justin Bieber concert and listening to a stadium full of teenage girls shouting “I loooooove you!!!! I loooooove you, Justin!!!!!!”  into your ear all night long.
  • Paying a fortune for tickets to take your daughter to said Justin Beiber concert, only for her to eventually discover that the Bieb is an idiot. Which Barry had pointed out to her before plunking out money for the concert.
  • Pondering what women see in 50 Shades of Grey, and asking your wife if she wants to try out the book’s scenario.
  • Visiting Israel on a quest for free Wi-Fi throughout the Holy Land.
  • Rappelling down an Israeli desert cliff and risking pooping on a rabbi due to total loss of sphincter control.
  • Having people approach you constantly to praise your article on the importance of colonoscopies.
  • The easy way for first time authors to promote their works by get booked on nationally-watched network talk shows by showing up at the studio door unannounced 15 minutes before airtime.

All of which we’ll discuss in our latest interview, and more. Click here to listen:

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(19 minutes and 55 seconds long; 18.2 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this interview to your hard drive. Or right click here to download the 5.69 MB lo-fi edition.)

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

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

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What Could Go Wrong?

April 6th, 2014 - 6:32 pm

“US gives Boeing green light to sell plane parts to Iran,” according to German Website Deutsche Welle:

Boeing, the world’s biggest plane manufacturer, said late Friday the US Treasury Department issued it with a license allowing the airline to do business with Iran for the first time since 1979.

A Boeing spokesman said the company would now be allowed to export certain spare parts for commercial planes that were needed to ensure older aircraft could fly safely. The license covers a limited period of time and does not allow Boeing to sell new planes to Iran.

The company will contact officials in Iran to determine which specific parts are needed. Boeing’s last delivery to Iran was a 747-100 jumbo jet in August 1979, three months before US hostages were seized at the Tehran embassy.

The Islamic Revolution that year led to US sanctions that were later broadened over a dispute from Iran’s nuclear activities.

Last year, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear operations in exchange for a temporary easing of severe economic sanctions from Britian [sic], China, France, Germany, Russia and the US. A permanent agreement is currently being negotiated.

Found via the Brothers Judd; one of their commenters adds that he’s sure the Iranians will give the aircraft parts back to us eventually, which takes the wartime phrase “never been fired and only dropped once” to spectacular new heights.

Last week I interviewed PJM contributor Andrew Bostom about his new book, ominously titled, Iran’s Final Solution for Israel. Oddly, Andrew’s thesis leaves me less than reassured by that last paragraph quoted above. How ’bout you?

Tweet of the Day

April 6th, 2014 - 5:02 pm


Found via Twitchy. Not to be confused with the Broken Windows theory of Fighting Crime, which works, and therefore, the left abhors.