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Ed Driscoll

The Holiday That Dare Not Speak Its Name

The Sex Pistols’ Christmas Party!

October 25th, 2014 - 1:05 pm

Yesterday we linked to this train wreck:

But the real life Sex Pistols’ Christmas Party sounds like much more fun:

On Christmas Day, 1977, the Pistols quietly organized a benefit gig for the Fire Brigade Union. This was done as surreptitiously as possible, for if the council discovered the Pistols were playing (especially on the Lord’s birthday), the venue would be closed immediately. Two shows were arranged at Ivanhoe’s club: the first was a matinee for the children, at which cake, food, presents were distributed by the band, as John Lydon later said:

”Huddersfield I remember very fondly. Two concerts, a matinee with children throwing pies at me, and later on that night, striking union members. It was heaven. There was a lot of love in the house. It was great that day, everything about it. Just wonderful.”

While drummer Paul Cook recalled:

”It was like our Christmas party really. We remember everyone being really relaxed that day, everyone was getting on really well, everyone was in such a great mood because it was a benefit for the kids of firemen who were on strike at that time, who had been on strike for a long time.”

No word yet if the Pistols took Martha Stewart’s advice and served “Spinach Ricotta Skulls (a classically punk motif) alongside a bowl of Spinach, Bacon, and Onion Dip (for ‘noshing’).” British punkers were notorious for “gobbing” — did they nosh as well?

(Via Kathy Shaidle.)

“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.

V is for Victimhood

February 13th, 2014 - 2:38 pm

To follow up on our earlier post regarding the New Republic’s enviro-freakout yesterday, it isn’t just warmists who hate the warmth of Valentine’s Day — radical feminists hate it too, writes Stacy McCain at the American Spectator:

Such is the logic of radical feminism: All men are complicit in this system of violence they call the patriarchy. All women are victims of patriarchal oppression, and therefore heterosexual intercourse is always rape. Women who think they like having sex with men are actually victims of “brainwashing and mind-control” by men who “deliberately manipulate our responses to increase their control over us,” Radical Wind explains.

This is why feminists have made Valentine’s Day an annual occasion for the performance of Eve Ensler’s play “The Vagina Monologues” on university campuses. One of the most controversial scenes in Ensler’s original play involved a 13-year-old girl experiencing “a kind of heaven” after being sexually molested by an older lesbian: “If it was rape, it was a good rape.” That line was subsequently excised from the script and the girl’s age changed to 16, but the fundamental point of the scene remains: Lesbian sex is never wrong, and introducing young girls to lesbianism is a good thing.

And thus Valentine’s Day — a traditional celebration of love between men and women — is an institution representing violent rape and homophobia. “Heteronormativity and gender roles also rear their ugly heads on Valentine’s Day,” self-described “queer feminist” Sara Alcid explained last year at EverydayFeminism.com, lamenting that “it’s almost impossible to find cards that represent queer couples.… It’s not hard to see why Valentine’s Day is problematic for many feminists. Celebrated traditionally, Valentine’s Day magnifies many of the very systems of domination that we work to critique and dismantle.”

Over a decade ago concerning small-town socialists, Christopher Caldwell wrote in the Weekly Standard:

For these people, liberalism is not a belief at all. No, it’s something more important: a badge of certain social aspirations. That is why the laments of the small-town leftists get voiced with such intemperance and desperation. As if those who voice them are fighting off the nagging thought: If the Republicans aren’t particularly evil, then maybe I’m not particularly special.

Similarly, as Stacy concludes his article today, “There is no such thing as a happy Valentine’s Day for feminists. They hate men, they hate love, and they hate happiness, too.” And all that hatred is a two-fer: it makes its bearer feel so virtuous — and prevents any sense of introspection as well.

All of which is why Tammy Bruce is proffering Feminism 2.0 at Prager University, a reboot whose time is long overdue:

The Nanny Who Stole Christmas

February 9th, 2014 - 4:41 pm

“Mayor Visits Home on Christmas Eve, Orders Family to Remove Lights,” becomes Reason’s latest Nanny of the Month — during a period in which a North Jersey mayor faced some tough competition:

Never mind that plenty of foodies say “the law is confusing, ineffective, bad for the environment and can compromise a final dish,” California is now forcing chefs and bartenders to wear single-use gloves or utensils when handling food like sushi and fresh fruit.

And how about Chicago? The city has decided to ban vaping in public (for the children!), thus potentially making it a little tougher for smokers to ditch cancer sticks.

But this month the nation’s biggest buttinksy is the New Jersey mayor who showed up at at a home on Christmas Eve and ordered the family to remove decorations because one neighbor deemed them offensive.

As the late  Kenneth Minogue warned in 2010, “We must face up to the grim fact that the rulers we elect are losing patience with us.” Reason’s Nanny of the Month videos are a continuing reminder just how little patience our public servants have left for their employers.

Are You an iPhone Zombie?

December 26th, 2013 - 1:38 pm


“Apple knows it has turned us into iZombies, and has become defensive about it, releasing its own little movie arguing that there’s some upside to this depressing new reality,” Kyle Smith wrote this past weekend at the New York Post:

Its new 90-second commercial, “Misunderstood,” centers on a teenaged lost soul who refuses to take part in a Yuletide family reunion. As family members build snowmen and exchange hugs, he hangs off to the side by himself, forever sulking into his iPhone.

It turns, though, that he’s not only aware of the festivities around him but he’s been carefully filming and editing the sweetest moments into a home movie that he climactically debuts on the living room TV, to general merriment and wonder. At the end of the home movie, he includes a shot of himself doing something we haven’t seen him do before: He smiles.

Now they get it: The weird loner, the emotionless little gadget monkey who never talks to anyone, is actually a proto-Spielberg who loves his family and is destined to warm hearts by the millions.

Apple’s intended message is that if you get an iPhone, you’ll be more in the moment, more in harmony with your surroundings, more lovingly connected than ever before.

In the history of nice tries, this one has to rank just below the mid-century effort by the tobacco industry to assuage fears about the safety of its products: One ad declared, “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette!” Another: “Tests showed 3 out of every 4 cases of smoker’s cough cleared on changing to Philip Morris.”

As pitches go, “Buy an iPhone in order to get in touch with loved ones sitting on the couch next to you” makes about as much sense as teaching the world to sing by buying it a Coke.

We’re supposed to forgive the “Misunderstood” kid because he’s a talented filmmaker, but he is still missing out on the game by turning himself into a sideline cameraman. Everybody loves the end result because people like to look at images of themselves, but that doesn’t excuse the creepiness of his technologically-aided self-alienation. Picture a teen novelist who does nothing at your family gathering but stand by silently and take notes. Pretty irritating, no?

Moreover, the “Misunderstood” spot is a nonsequitur: Chances are the kid at your family gathering who is fixated on his iPhone is watching a video or texting peers about how lame you are or playing Candy Crush Saga, not making a movie about his vast love for family.

There is no twist in real life: Most iZombies actually are oblivious to their surroundings.

Kyle’s new article dovetails remarkably well with another piece on the perils of ubiquitous smart phone usage, from Eric Gibson at the New Criterion this month on “The Overexposed Museum” — overexposed, Gibson writes, because so many museum patrons are taking “selfies” alongside of great works of art:

The new culture of museum photography banishes the art experience. It transforms the work of art from something to pause before, explore, admire, and reflect upon, into a “sight,” like the Eiffel Tower or the White House. A fascinating, complex, multi-faceted product of the creative imagination becomes just a piece of scenery, one worth lingering in front of just long enough to have one’s picture taken with it, either just standing and smiling or by making a face or playing up to the object in other ways, like those tourists who pose beside the Leaning Tower of Pisa so that in the finished photograph they appear to be propping it up.

Non-photographing visitors aren’t immune from the effects of these new attitudes. Coming upon someone posing in a gallery, your impulse is to turn away; you feel like a voyeur. In front of the Mona Lisa the day I was there, the profusion of smartphones and tablets being held aloft created a strange meta experience. To see the picture, you had to look past a bobbing frieze of digital reproductions competing with the original. I have had similar experiences with works of art in American museums, albeit with smaller numbers of people.

This transformation—one might better say evisceration—of the work of art has wide implications for the museum and its mission. If visitors now regard a museum’s treasures as mere “sights,” they might come to regard the institution itself in a similar vein—not as a place offering a unique, one-of-a-kind experience but just another “stop” on a crowded itinerary, and as such interchangeable with any other. At the very least, it’s hard to see how this new culture of museum photography can fail to undermine the kind of long-term visitor loyalty to museums toward which so many of their public engagement efforts are directed. On the one hand, the visitor who makes an emotional connection with a work of art is likely to return. On the other hand, I can’t imagine there are many tourists who, having once had themselves snapped propping up the Leaning Tower, feel compelled to do so again.

All this is, admittedly, so much speculation. One thing that isn’t is the very real threat these new attitudes pose to the safety of the museum’s collections. A visitor conditioned to regard a painting or sculpture as but a prop in a personal drama isn’t likely to demonstrate due regard for its welfare as an irreplaceable work of art. In one of the galleries on my way to the Mona Lisa, I and others nearby watched in horror as one visitor reached across the low barrier separating the art from the public to grasp the gilt frame of a Renaissance masterpiece, then turn to strike a pose for a companion with a smartphone. This was the propped-up-Leaning-Tower shot moved into the museum. It only ended when a guard came barreling through crowd shouting at her to step away. Even then, the visitor seemed to have no idea what all the fuss had been about.

One of happiest moments during the otherwise grim couple of weeks my wife and I spent cleaning out my mom’s house in South Jersey after she died last year was discovering a huge cache of photos I took in the mid-to-late 1980s. Back then, I was at the peak of my 35mm hobbyist phase with the then-new and cutting edge Minolta Maxxum camera and lenses I purchased around 1985 or so. (The photos and negatives I stumbled upon had been stored in a large Barton & Donaldson custom shirt box, because, well, I’m me.) Suddenly, a lot of happy memories from that period that I had forgotten came flooding back, and I plan to digitize those photos next year to archive them and have them for easy viewing anytime I’m nostalgic. And it was a reminder that I really need to take more photos of current travels, to help avoid memory loss. But I also see plenty of people today who seem to be more absorbed by their iPhones than the current moment. (There seems to be less cell phones ringing in restaurants these days, but a lot more smart phones glowing; will fine restaurants with darkened mood lighting have to start warning their patrons to dial their usage back, if you’ll pardon the pun?)

I’m sympathetic to both sides of the argument. How do you take advantage of today’s ubiquitous camera-equipped smart phones and tablets, without becoming an iPhone Zombie in the process?

Related: Of Course: Photographer Who Took POTUS Selfie Photo Ashamed He Broke News.

Update: Merry Me-mas from President Selfie!

obama_selfie_nativity_12-26-13

Merry Christmas!

December 25th, 2013 - 12:06 pm

Mark Steyn in the London Spectator on that most American of songs, Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas:”

In the end, ‘White Christmas’ isn’t a song about snow. They had white Christmases in Temun, Siberia, where Berlin was born, but a white Russian Christmas wouldn’t be the same: It’s not about the weather, it’s about home. In 1942, those GIs out in the Pacific understood that. Twelve years later, building a new movie named for the song, Berlin acknowledged the men who made it special, in the best staging in the picture: Bing singing in the rubble, accompanied only by Danny Kaye’s musical box, as the boys rest their chins on their rifle butts and think of home. Berlin couldn’t have predicted Pearl Harbor, but there’s no surprise that, once it had happened, his were the sentiments the country turned to.

Christmas was not kind to Irving Berlin. At 5 o’clock on the morning of Christmas Day 1928, his 31/2-week-old son, Irving Junior, was found dead in his bassinet. ‘I’m sure,’ his daughter Mary Ellin told me a few years back, ‘it was what we would now call “crib death”.’

Does that cast ‘White Christmas’ in a different light? The plangent melancholy the GIs heard in the tune, the unsettling chromatic phrase, the eerie harmonic darkening under the words ‘where children listen’; it’s not too fanciful to suggest the singer’s dreaming of children no longer around to listen. When the girls grew up and left home, Irving Berlin, symbol of the American Christmas, gave up celebrating it. ‘We both hated Christmas,’ Mrs Berlin said later. ‘We only did it for you children.’

To take a baby on Christmas morning mocks the very meaning of the day. And to take Irving Berlin’s seems an even crueller jest — to reward his uncanny ability to articulate the sentiments of his countrymen by depriving him of the possibility of sharing them.

Berlin was a professional Tin Pan Alleyman, but his story, his Christmas is there in the music. 23 years after his death, he embodies all the possibilities of America: his family arrived at Ellis Island as poor and foreign and disadvantaged as you can be, and yet he wove himself into the very fabric of the nation. His life and his art are part of the definition of America. Whatever his doubts about God, Berlin kept faith with his adopted land — and that faith is what millions heard 70 years ago in ‘White Christmas’.

Pour yourself an eggnog and read the whole thing.

And some various and sundry Christmas-related items we’ve linked to over the years. First up, Chris Muir’s Day by Day:

From Hot Air‘s boss emeritus:

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Neo-Neocon: “Twas the bloggers’ night before Christmas.”

Orrin Judd has lots of Christmas-related posts. Just keep scrolling.

From Reason TV via Instapundit, it’s Christmas, TSA-style! (Shudder.)

From Claire Berlinski at Ricochet, Happy Jewish Christmas!

And from Gabriel Malor at Ace of Spades, some parting words (at least for now) from a Mister L. van Pelt:

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(Originally posted last year.)

Update: If Santa hasn’t arrived yet, he sends his apologies for running late.

Why Christmas = KFC in Japan

December 24th, 2013 - 6:47 pm

Danny Choo.com is answering the important questions:

The Turkey does not breed naturally in Japan and is rarely cultivated. Apparently the taste is not of such a popularity to warrant large amounts of it to be imported into Japan either. Thus, many Japanese have not tried turkey.

Another reason why turkey didn’t catch on as a popular dish during Christmas is the fact that most Japanese folks don’t have ovens – or an oven big enough to roast an entire turkey.

One day at KFC’s Aoyama branch, a foreigner went to buy some chicken at KFC and said “I’m having a party but because there is no turkey, I’ve come to get some fried chicken instead.”

In 1974, KFC then started promoting the catchphrase “Christmas = Kentucky” and poured a load of yen into the marketing effort. The catchphrase soon caught on and together with the commercials on TV, the Japanese then started to consume a load of Chicken during the festive season.

In other fast food news, “McDonald’s website advises staff NOT to eat fast food.”

Which is crazy — why that would be the equivalent of Wal-Mart selling Occupy Wall Street merchandise or Exxon advertising on the Rachel Maddow Show

– Sorry, I just been handed a bulletin by my staff that confirms that those stories are all apparently true.

Allow me to revise and extend my previous remarks. This just in: Robert Conquest’s Third of Law of Politics, which posits that “The simplest way to explain the behavior of any bureaucratic organization is to assume that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies,” is alive and well.

(Via Ace of Spades, which has plenty of additional extra crispy Kentucky Fried Christmas-themed items for your dancing and dining yuletide pleasure.)

‘Mazel Tov, Christians!’

December 24th, 2013 - 4:49 pm

“As a Jew, and a religious one at that, I want to wish my fellow Americans a Merry Christmas,” writes Dennis Prager today:

Not “Happy Holidays.” Merry Christmas.

I write, “my fellow Americans” because, as reported by the Pew Research poll released just last Wednesday, nine in ten Americans say they celebrate Christmas.

Apparently, many Americans have forgotten that Christmas is not only a Christian holy day, but also an American national holiday. Just as we wish one another a “Happy Thanksgiving” or a “Happy Fourth,” so, too, we should wish fellow Americans a “Merry Christmas.”

It doesn’t matter with which religion or ethnic group you identify; Christmas in America is as American as the proverbial apple pie. That is why some of the most famous and beloved Christmas songs were written by . . . guess who? Jews.

“White Christmas” was written by Irving Berlin (birth name: Israel Isidore Baline).

“Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer” — Johnny Marks.

“Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” — composed by Jule Styne, lyrics by Sammy Cahn.

“Silver Bells” — by Jay Livingston (Jacob Harold Levison) and Ray Evans (Raymond Bernard Evans).

And one of my favorites, which, ever since Ricochet’s “GLOP” podcast with Jonah Goldberg, Rob Long and John Podhoretz dusted it off last week to end the show, I have going through my head on a Mobius loop for some reason. In any case, it’s certainly one of Saturday Night Live’s better recent bits:

Déjà Touré

December 24th, 2013 - 12:29 pm

“Touré: How to Christmas Shop While Being Black,” as spotted by Bradford Thomas of Truth Revolt, who’s doing yeoman’s work by watching MSNBC during this holiday season, so you and I don’t have to:

MSNBC’s Touré dedicated the final segment of The Cycle Monday to his default racially-charged social commentary — this time in the form of how-to Christmas shopping advice for African-Americans.

Touré advised his African-American viewers that in order to avoid the “shop-and-frisk,” they should do their best to make themselves appear “non-threatening” by dressing well, waving to security cameras, speaking articulately, shaking security guards’ hands, and, if possible, bringing a white friend (though not an attractive white girl if you’re a black male).

Haven’t I seen this premise before? Why, yes I have. Well over a decade ago, according to Wikipedia’s air dates for the original Chris Rock Show:

(Language alert, needless to say.) And Chris Rock’s brilliant clip is yet another reminder, as Orrin Judd likes to say, all comedy is conservative, whether their makers intend it to be or not.

It’s a Wonderful Fountainhead

December 16th, 2013 - 12:20 am

From now until December 25th (and perhaps January 1st), Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life will be playing somewhere. It’s available on Blu-Ray. There’s currently a sharp-looking copy on YouTube. It will be on TV, where the film’s reputation was made during its many annual repeats; it was unexpectedly flat at the box office during its initial 1946 big screen run. And it will likely also be playing at a revival theater near you. My wife and I caught one such showing at the movie theater in San Jose’s Santana Row yesterday, which was actually the first time I had seen it on the big screen, in a beautifully remastered digital version. It was a vivid reminder that as popular as It’s a Wonderful Life is on TV, this was a film made to be seen by a large audience in a theater, and their knowing laughter during the film’s best moments — and likely, their weeping by the end of the film as we were — adds immeasurably to its impact.

The film is now a double piece of nostalgia, something not intended by its makers. Certainly Capra and company viewed its initial flashback scenes to the early 20th century, the 1928 high school dance and the 1932-era bank run, as nostalgia. But the film’s contemporary setting of post-World War II America is now almost 70 years in the rearview mirror, as are the morals of the people who made the film.

You certainly can get a sense of that merely from reading the film’s Wikipedia page, when you come to the section on how the film is viewed by leftwing urban critics today, particularly the scenes set in “Pottersville,” the segment in which small town Bedford Falls is transformed into Reno on the Hudson:

In a 2010 Salon.com piece, Richard Cohen described It’s a Wonderful Life as “the most terrifying Hollywood film ever made”. In the “Pottersville” sequence, he wrote, George is not “seeing the world that would exist had he never been born”, but rather “the world as it does exist, in his time and also in our own.”] Nine years earlier, another Salon writer, Gary Kamiya, had expressed the opposing view that “Pottersville rocks!”, adding, “The gauzy, Currier-and-Ives veil Capra drapes over Bedford Falls has prevented viewers from grasping what a tiresome and, frankly, toxic environment it is… We all live in Pottersville now.”*

The film’s elevation to the status of a beloved classic came decades after its initial release, when it became a television staple during Christmas season in the late 1970s. This came as a welcome surprise to Frank Capra and others involved with its production. “It’s the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen,” Capra told the Wall Street Journal in 1984. “The film has a life of its own now, and I can look at it like I had nothing to do with it. I’m like a parent whose kid grows up to be president. I’m proud… but it’s the kid who did the work. I didn’t even think of it as a Christmas story when I first ran across it. I just liked the idea.”In a 1946 interview, Capra described the film’s theme as “the individual’s belief in himself” and that he made it “to combat a modern trend toward atheism”.

Of course, atheism doesn’t necessarily mean socialism — even if that’s how it invariably works out (more on that later); and after the page break, allow me to reprint my 2010 post titled “It’s a Wonderful Fountainhead,” which compares Capra’s 1946 film with its very different contemporary, which was based on Ayn Rand’s novel about a young man who dreams of going to the big city, becoming an architect and building giant phallic symbols, and, unlike George Bailey, who has to reconcile never leaving his small town, succeeds on his own terms. Followed by some further thoughts and links from 2013, and a jaw-dropping moment at Wikipedia.

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Santa Claus Conquers the Fluorocarbons

December 10th, 2013 - 8:31 pm

It would take a heart of stone not to laugh at Santa’s dilemma. “In a rather dark video by Greenpeace, Santa Claus warns children that Christmas might be canceled because of global warming,” Alec Torres writes at the Corner:

Jim Carter of Downton Abbey plays a dirty and bedraggled Santa Claus speaking directly to the camera in a dark room as lights flicker and water drips from the ceiling to puddles on the floor.

“Dear children, regrettably I bring bad tidings,” the video begins. “For some time now, melting ice here in the North Pole has made our operations and our day-to-day life intolerable and impossible and there may be no alternative but to cancel Christmas.”

Santa then tells the children that he has written to every world leader, including Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin, and that he has put them on his naughty list because of their indifference. Santa continues, “My home in the arctic is fast disappearing, and unless we all act urgently, then I have to warn you of the possibility of an empty stocking forevermore.”

The video ends urging people to go to savesantashome.org and sign the petition to protect the Arctic. “The North Pole is only a frozen ocean and it’s melting away faster and faster,” the website says. “His warehouse is flooded. All the presents are ruined.”

Ahh, the latest of the 1,327,239 attempts to either use kids as human shields for anti-global psychodrama, or to invoke their legacy as to why Something. Must. Be. Done. Now. Because we only have [INSERT RANDOMLY CHOSEN TIME FRAME HERE] to save the world.

It’s all so rote and reactionary at this point.

What I find intriguing is the double-track thinking going on here. Perhaps Carter simply thought, “Eh, a paycheck is a paycheck,” which would be understandable on some level. But assuming he’s a true believer, how does he go from one afternoon declaring the end of the world, and then the next morning going back to the arc lights,  gasoline-powered generators, and catering trucks of the set of Downtown Abbey? And behind the camera, do the people who wrote the script for this little bit of doomsday mongering realize how crazy they sound? Particularly after their video was juxtaposed by Matt Drudge today:

COLDEST NIGHT IN 18 YEARS...

GREENPEACE: Santa Warns Christmas Will Be Canceled Due To 'Global Warming'...

And as Steve Hayward at Power Line writes, that’s on top of the “Climate Headline of the Decade,” which Drudge ran yesterday:

drudge_headline_12-9-13-1

But to follow on from the previous post, it’s awfully tough to assuage a true believer of his religious faith. As Michael Crichton observed in 2003, “I think that you cannot eliminate religion from the psyche of mankind. If you suppress it in one form, it merely re-emerges in another form.”

Ready to do battle with Christmas. And yes Virginia, in sharp contrast to the New York Sun of 1897, the enviro-zealots at the Washington Post are eager to spoil your Christmas as well.

Earlier: For the first two thirds of the 20th century, there was a more-or-less shared optimism concerning the future, despite two world wars, FDR’s Depression, and the Cold War. I wonder if today’s kids realize they’re growing up in “Progressive” culture shaped by 40 years of misery and despair, if their parents have truly internalized that we have five years, ten years, or whatever timetable Big Oil Spokesman Al Gore is shilling these days, to “save the earth.”

Now that Black Friday has come, John Gabriel explores the leftwing elite’s distaste for the annual kickoff to the Christmas shopping season, at Ricochet.com:

Ah, Black Friday: The day wealthy whites are applauded for judging lower-class folks who are just trying to buy affordable gifts for their kids.

Huffington Post’s mocking headline blares “THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT!” followed by bold black and red stories of consumerism gone wild. New York’s Gawker features “The Best Walmart Thanksgiving Day Fight Videos” (I won’t dignify them with a link), while coastal elite news anchors cluck about the barbarians at the Target security gate.

I hate shopping on a regular day, let alone Black Friday. I’m hardly loaded, but would rather pay a few extra bucks to buy gifts on a slow day or online. Everyone doesn’t have that luxury.

Most of our progressive friends don’t seem to care. They cheer Walmart strikers, never noticing that the 1% doesn’t camp out for Black Friday sales. The howling picketers are merely making life more miserable for the have-nots.

Ace spots the effete core readers of the New York Times getting into the theme:

New York Times readers have a chance to make it into the paper. These are the sorts of things they think will catch an editors’ eye — the sort of sentiments they think the NYT editors are looking for.

And they’re probably right.

Some highlights in the Conspicuous Compassion Floor Exercise of the Moral Preening Olympics:

To me it means getting in the car with my spouse and adult daughters and heading to Cape May…Birding! None of us buy into this nonsensical consumer binge day.

I love to crawl up inside those [innocent memories of childhood Black Fridays past] and hide on Black Friday these days. It’s become a blood sport that rewards the aggressive and punishes the elderly and disabled who can’t partake in mad dashes for limited sale items offered during insanely early hours. This year, Black Friday becomes Black Thursday and begins the erosion of Thanksgiving and one less day to create family memories.

Note the first complaint is that the “insanely early hours” on Friday punish the disabled and elderly. However, this year, they’ve stopped that, and begun sales on Thursday evening. And so this guy comes up with a complaint about that, too — ignoring the fact that they just addressed his “insanely early hours” complaint.

Whatever day they do this on, this guy is ready, willing, and able to grumble about how unfair it all is.

This morning, for the first time ever, I saw a group of anti-fur protesters in front of San Jose’s Santa Row, adding a welcome nostalgic 1970s atmosphere to the shopping experience of their fellow Bay Area leftists. When one of the them tried to hand me a brochure as part of his busywork today, I told him no thanks, this wasn’t my religion, which caused him no amount of cognitive dissonance — “This isn’t anyone religion!!??” “No, it’s definitely yours!”, my wife and I replied in unison. (God, I was so proud of her.)

As Christopher Caldwell wrote at the Weekly Standard a decade ago, a huge subset of the Democrat party consists of small town suburbanites who long to feel superior to their fellow small town suburbanites, and their hatred of both Thanksgiving and Black Friday is yet another component of their reactionary punitive leftwing mindset:

At some point, Democrats became the party of small-town people who think they’re too big for their small towns. It is hard to say how it happened: Perhaps it is that Republicans’ primary appeal is to something small-towners take for granted (tradition), while Democrats’ is to something that small-towners are condemned for lacking (diversity). Both appeals can be effective, but it is only the latter that incites people to repudiate the culture in which they grew up. Perhaps it is that at universities–through which pass all small-town people aiming to climb to a higher social class–Democratic party affiliation is the sine qua non of being taken for a serious, non-hayseed human being.

For these people, liberalism is not a belief at all. No, it’s something more important: a badge of certain social aspirations. That is why the laments of the small-town leftists get voiced with such intemperance and desperation. As if those who voice them are fighting off the nagging thought: If the Republicans aren’t particularly evil, then maybe I’m not particularly special.

That last sentence can be extended out to their lashing out at America itself, and its traditions as well.

Related: “Thanks, Obama! Here’s what happened when Obamacare came up at Thanksgiving dinners.”

More: “The Political Has Become Too Personal,” Wesley J. Smith writes at the Corner, resulting in America rapidly becoming the collective “political equivalent of the Hatfields and McCoys.”

Quote of the Day

November 28th, 2013 - 1:05 pm

Yes, I miss him, too.

Related: “Thoughts on Mom’s Arrival in Heaven, and Thanksgiving 2013,” from Tom Blumer, elsewhere at PJM. Which hit particularly home for me, since the last time I saw my 87 year old mother before the accident that wound up placing her in hospice care, was Thanksgiving of 2011.

Best. Thanksgivukkah. Headline. Ever. At least for the next 70,043 years, the next time that the exceedingly rare overlap of Chanukah* and Thanksgiving occurs again. In the Washington Times, Suzanne Fields writes:

When my parents bought a house in the nation’s capital in 1946, they were told there was an old and no longer valid covenant in the deed prohibiting the sale of the house to Jews. When my parents moved in, their neighbors, with not a Jew among them, brought over homemade pies and cakes to welcome them.

If my grandfather had stayed in Lithuania, his entire family would likely have been killed by the Nazis. He never forgot that America had taken in his family, six children and a seventh was born here, and how they prospered.

When I was a little girl, my grandfather gave me a silver dollar each night of Hanukkah. One year, he gave me a menorah shaped like the six-pointed Jewish star with small tiny electric bulbs. He told me to turn it on when I recited my prayer over the lights.

I was horrified that it would replace my grandmother’s graceful antique brass menorah with its tiny delicate candles, but I never let on. He was so proud of his gift, and particularly because it was “made in America.” I knew nothing of the old world he had left behind and how a menorah with electric lights meant freedom and prosperity to him. He knew his adopted country wasn’t perfect and that it hadn’t taken in all the Jews who were trying to escape the Holocaust. He knew that anti-Semitism might once have kept his daughter out of the neighborhood where she wanted to live. But he also understood how his adopted country worked to right its wrongs.

Every night of Hanukkah during this Thanksgiving season, I will turn on an electric bulb, rather than light a candle, and give thanks for being here. So America isn’t perfect, but it’s perfect enough for me. Happy Thanksgivukkah.

Read the whole thing, and then check out another Washington Times story while you’re on their Website: “Media still feasting on Bush ‘fake’ turkey claim; erroneous story still repeated 10 years on.”

Everything the average consumer of the MSM knows about the 20th century is wrong; it’s not surprising that the legacy media would want to get a jump on falsifying the history of the next hundred years as well.

Related:

* Or Hanukkah if you prefer. I think I need a gin and tonicka pondering all of the different spellings of the holiday.

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“Obamacare is losing altitude,” notes Mr. Obama’s hometown paper, the Chicago Tribune:

Abbott Laboratories chief executive Miles White said something last Tuesday that should jolt tens of millions of Americans who watch from a comfortable distance as the giant Obamacare blimp ignites and tumbles to the ground. These Americans are safely ensconced in employer-provided health care coverage — for now. But there are “clear incentives for companies to drop their health care plans and move people onto the exchanges,” White told analysts at a luncheon, referring to the disastrously cranky and unreliable online insurance marketplaces created under Obamacare. “I can tell you that the employees of Abbott or AbbVie (the pharmaceutical firm Abbott spun off in January) are going to be pretty unhappy about that, you know, if we did that,” White said. If President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders think the outcry against Obamacare is fierce now, watch if millions more Americans get blindsided with the news that they’ll be forced into these dysfunctional government online marketplaces. Some will face higher premiums or higher deductibles, and they’ll be required to share private medical and financial information on a website with a questionable security firewall, opening them to fraudsters, hackers and cyberchaos.

But heaven forfend anyone call the president — who uses words like “tea-baggers” in missives dispatched on official White House stationary to voters — ideological, Rich Lowry writes at the Politico, in a piece aptly titled “The Bad-Faith Presidency:”

The president styles himself a committed pragmatist. At a fundraiser outside of Seattle the other day, he averred, “I’m not a particularly ideological person.” He just happened to risk Democratic control of Congress to advance the cause of nationalized health insurance. And happened to insist on the left-most plausible version of the law. And happened to defend it with every power at his disposal. In private, as I wrote here, the president admits that he has kept his true ideological self carefully under wraps. According to Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, the authors of Double Down, Obama brought up climate change in a political strategy meeting in 2011 as an example of his undue caution. “Maybe I should just come out and say what I really feel about this,” he said. “Maybe I should just go out and say what I think about everything.” As a crazy thought experiment, his aides let him dabble with heart-felt sincerity. He brought a list to the next meeting of causes dear to him, all of which were liberal clichés: climate change, immigration reform, poverty, Israeli-Palestinian peace, closing Gitmo, and gay marriage. Only the very last, gay marriage, made a major appearance in the presidential campaign because he couldn’t bear any longer to hide what he really thought about it. He knew the danger of too much forthrightness.

But he’s hoping his supporters will be forthright in their blind enthusiasm for his signature program tomorrow, when they go to break bread and eat turkey (and/or Vegan substitutes thereof) with the non-believers. Or as Betsy Newmark writes today, “Liberals have a different view of Thanksgiving:”

What kind of view of the family do liberals have that they are urging their followers to take advantage of Thanksgiving get-togethers to propagandize their family with “the talk.” When I was growing up, “the talk” was not something that happened at the dinner table and it didn’t concern health insurance. It certainly didn’t include people downloading talking points from the President’s activism website to have that “talk.” But times change. The DCCC also has recommendations for to say for that “crazy Tea Party Relative (or two) who just loves bashing President Obama” that “we all have.” My experience is that liberals are much more likely to bring up their political opinions and just assume that everyone agrees with them. Maybe that is because I work with teachers, who trend liberal, and most of the rest of my family beyond my immediate relatives, are Democrats. I tend to not bring up my political beliefs at all unless asked and I try to be pretty low key. I know I’m in the political minority at work and I also don’t believe in spouting off about politics in front of students. And I really see such assumptions that every teacher must be liberal when I’m at seminars or symposia of teachers. But time after time, I’ve heard others make statements that just assume that everyone is on the same page with them. It is as if it doesn’t even occur to them that someone they know and work with could hold a different political position. I still remember the horror expressed in the teacher seminar I attend the day after the 1994 elections. It was as if it didn’t occur to any of those teachers that there might be a Republican in their midst who was happy about those results. I shudder to imagine how uncomfortable it would be if I looked at these interactions as opportunities to spout political talking points. But the left looks at such gatherings differently.

Which why Aleister of American Glob has produced these helpful conversational tips for “How To Talk To Your Socialist Aunt About ObamaCare On Thanksgiving.”

Talk slowly and calmly; the amount of flop sweat emanating from the White House and onto its true belivers must be palpable right now. For everyone else, have a joyous Thanksgiving, starting with this holiday classic about a very different turkey that falls to earth:

LINE SPACE

(Headline via Iowahawk; artwork inspired by Roy Lichtenstein and Photoshop artist Steve Caplin.)

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Hyper-politicized Thanksgiving wishes from the White House that couldn’t plan straight:

We’ve certainly come very far from an era when people of different political mind were urged to set aside their differences and come together for a meal and football and gather round the hearth in peace. Instead we’re in the era of “argue with your neighbors, get in their face”. Maybe it’s that social media sparring fuels these political grudge matches, or that political allegiances are worn less as choosing between the lessers of evils and more as teams of red and blue. But if you want to talk about death spirals, this is one I wish we’d get out of, and soon. Talking points beget talking points and before you know it the Thanksgiving table has turned into the McLaughlin group, except with the added challenge of your uncle having had six Cranberry Old Fashioneds and a carving knife within handy reach.

What’s more, now that these insufferable partisans in the administration have distributed their talkers, you’re a lot more likely to hear any one of these ten statements at tomorrow’s dinner, to which I am now obligated to offer a prebuttal. And yes, Mr. President, I hate you for making me write this.

Read the whole thing and prepare accordingly, or simply implement the following easy-to-follow strategy:

Shot:

Some people — such as crazy uncles — don’t pick up on normal conversational cues. They forget to give others a chance to talk or to move on from a subject that’s not being well received. If your crazy uncle is at this point of the Obama directive — Offer to walk them through it: “Would you like to take some time with me to sign up right now?” — you may be discouraged. But you should not be! This is your best opportunity to solve the problem of boorish behavior ruining your special day.

Here’s a sample response you might use. “That would be great. Except that I’m going to be washing dishes and cleaning up for a bit. How about you go into the guest room and use the computer in there to sign me up. As soon as you’re done, you can have some pie.”

The key is to get them to make a commitment not to come out until they’ve finished signing you up. Remember their conversation tip — Ask them to make a plan, and commit to it. Ask them to commit to finishing the sign-up before they come out of the room.

Since nobody can actually sign up for Obamacare, they’ll be busily trying to operate the web site for the duration of your visit. And the beauty of the disaster zone that is the Obamacare website is that whether you plan to visit for hours or days, the crazy family member will be out of your hair. For added giggles with the sane portion of the family, be sure to follow the last tip — Don’t forget to follow up: “Have you signed up yet?”

“The 5 Most Insane Obamacare Talking Points You Can Expect To Hear From Your Crazy Uncle This Week,” Mark and Mollie Hemingway at the Federalist, Monday.

Chaser:

Exit Quote:

Related: “If you see this place-mat on Thursday, please be advised: your host hates you,” as he shares with you hyper-politicized Thanksgiving wishes from another another leftwing purveyor of the leviathan nanny state, Mayor Bloomberg.

Oh, and the Washington Post similarly hopes you’ll hate your Thanksgiving almost as much as Young Ezra Klein hates his.

Two Bezos in One!

November 13th, 2013 - 12:55 pm

Shot:

In what reads like something a satirist would compose to mock the hypocritical killjoys who infect the gaping wound that is the environmental movement, the Washington Post’s Brian Palmer devotes nearly a thousand words (and who knows how much carbon-based energy exhaust) to hector Americans for celebrating a holiday that he claims is akin to a toxic waste dump.

“As you prepare to gather your family together for Thanksgiving,” WaPo lectures. “It’s worth taking a moment to consider the impact your meal will have on the Earth and the climate.”

The Post’s entire argument is based on the premise that the turkey, dressing, potatoes, and vegetables you consume, are all derived from the evils of energy consumption.

“WaPo Lectures: Thanksgiving Kills Mother Earth,” John Nolte at Big Journalism today.

Chaser:

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— Amazon.com’s Thanksgiving-themed splash page for their grocery Website.

Have Yourself an Unexpected Little Christmas

December 26th, 2012 - 8:48 pm

“Economists say a combination of natural and man-made disasters led to unexpectedly weak U.S. retail sales in the crucial two months before Christmas.”

Voice of America, yesterday.

CNBC, another state-run media agency, blames Sandy, Newtown, and the “fiscal cliff,” also without ever mentioning the O-word.

Unexpectedly!

But I’m not sure what the problem is — from 2007 through 2009, Mr. Obama and other “Progressives” told American consumers that they must begin to consume less (including several at NBC).

Isn’t this all good news, then?

Related: Now playing at the kabuki theater

Merry Christmas!

December 25th, 2012 - 11:10 am

Mark Steyn in the London Spectator on that most American of songs, Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas:”

In the end, ‘White Christmas’ isn’t a song about snow. They had white Christmases in Temun, Siberia, where Berlin was born, but a white Russian Christmas wouldn’t be the same: It’s not about the weather, it’s about home. In 1942, those GIs out in the Pacific understood that. Twelve years later, building a new movie named for the song, Berlin acknowledged the men who made it special, in the best staging in the picture: Bing singing in the rubble, accompanied only by Danny Kaye’s musical box, as the boys rest their chins on their rifle butts and think of home. Berlin couldn’t have predicted Pearl Harbor, but there’s no surprise that, once it had happened, his were the sentiments the country turned to.

Christmas was not kind to Irving Berlin. At 5 o’clock on the morning of Christmas Day 1928, his 31/2-week-old son, Irving Junior, was found dead in his bassinet. ‘I’m sure,’ his daughter Mary Ellin told me a few years back, ‘it was what we would now call “crib death”.’

Does that cast ‘White Christmas’ in a different light? The plangent melancholy the GIs heard in the tune, the unsettling chromatic phrase, the eerie harmonic darkening under the words ‘where children listen’; it’s not too fanciful to suggest the singer’s dreaming of children no longer around to listen. When the girls grew up and left home, Irving Berlin, symbol of the American Christmas, gave up celebrating it. ‘We both hated Christmas,’ Mrs Berlin said later. ‘We only did it for you children.’

To take a baby on Christmas morning mocks the very meaning of the day. And to take Irving Berlin’s seems an even crueller jest — to reward his uncanny ability to articulate the sentiments of his countrymen by depriving him of the possibility of sharing them.

Berlin was a professional Tin Pan Alleyman, but his story, his Christmas is there in the music. 23 years after his death, he embodies all the possibilities of America: his family arrived at Ellis Island as poor and foreign and disadvantaged as you can be, and yet he wove himself into the very fabric of the nation. His life and his art are part of the definition of America. Whatever his doubts about God, Berlin kept faith with his adopted land — and that faith is what millions heard 70 years ago in ‘White Christmas’.

Pour yourself an eggnog and read the whole thing.

And some various and sundry Christmas-related items we’ve linked to over the years. First up, Chris Muir’s Day by Day:

From Hot Air‘s boss emeritus:

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Neo-Neocon: “Twas the bloggers’ night before Christmas.”

Orrin Judd has lots of Christmas-related posts. Just keep scrolling.

From Reason TV via Instapundit, it’s Christmas, TSA-style! (Shudder.)

From Claire Berlinski at Ricochet, Happy Jewish Christmas!

And from Gabriel Malor at Ace of Spades, some parting words (at least for now) from a Mister L. van Pelt:

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It’s a Wonderful Fountainhead

December 24th, 2012 - 12:20 am

Joe Carter of the Catholic Education Resource Center explores “The Fountainhead of Bedford Falls.” As he writes, Ayn Rand’s Howard Roark and Frank Capra’s George Bailey aren’t often discussed in the same breath, but the two fictitious characters, immortalized by Hollywood via Gary Cooper and Jimmy Stewart, two legendary mid-century leading men, have a surprising amount in common.

“To anyone familiar with both works, it would seem the two characters could not be more different, ” Carter notes. “Unexpected similarities emerge, however, when one considers that Roark and Bailey are variations on a common archetype that has captured the American imagination for decades:”

Ayn-Rand-As-Che-10-3-09Howard Roark, the protagonist of Rand’s book, is an idealistic young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision by conforming to the needs and demands of the community. In contrast, George Bailey, the hero of Capra’s film, is an idealistic young would-be architect who struggles in obscurity because he has chosen to conform to the needs and demands of the community rather than fulfill his artistic and personal vision. Howard Roark is essentially what George Bailey might have become had he left for college rather than stayed in his hometown of Bedford Falls.

Rand portrays Roark as a demigod-like hero who refuses to subordinate his self-centered ego to the demands of the community society. Capra, in stark contrast, portrays Bailey as an amiable but flawed man who becomes a hero precisely because he chooses to subordinate his self-centered ego for the greater good of the community.

Read the whole thing, found via Kathy Shaidle, who has her own thoughts on the comparison.

And for my video interview with Jennifer Burns, the historian and author of Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right, in which we discuss The Fountainhead, along with other aspects of Rand in postwar America, just click here.

Incidentally, say what you will about Rand and Capra, Roark and Bailey, and Cooper and Stewart; the Hollywood of World War II and its immediate aftermath was undoubtedly made of sterner stuff than its current iteration.

Related: Since this is a movie-related post, I might as well hang this here: a movie Easter egg so cool, it goes to 11.

(Originally posted December 9, 2010.)

Update: Welcome Instapundit readers! When you’re done here, check out The View from Alexandria, which has some thoughts on “Politics without Foundations,” and why one Yale history professor believes that “there’s no liberal Ayn Rand.”