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Ed Driscoll

The Newspeak Dictionary

“Via Weasel Zippers, we learned the Los Angeles Times has a new term for illegal aliens in the work force: they’re ‘informal workers,’ and that doesn’t mean they don’t arrive on the job in a tuxedo,” Tim Graham quips at NewsBusters:

Times reporter Tiffany Hsu (a “UC Berkeley grad”) began her Saturday story with the new I-word (and illegal immigrants also “labored unofficially” in “gray employment”):

Informal workers are growing part of California’s economy — a shift keenly felt in the construction industry, where 1 in 6 workers is either off the books or misreported, new research has found.

Construction businesses in the state employ roughly 895,000 workers, according to a report by downtown Los Angeles research group Economic Roundtable that was released Sunday. In 2011, 143,900 of those workers labored unofficially

In specialty trades such as drywall and flooring, a quarter of laborers are considered informal, according to the Economic Roundtable.

The L.A. Times was the newspaper that helped popularize the term “funemployment” back in 2009 to describe the “benefits” of their boss’s economic policy (which includes adding plenty of “informal workers” to help spread additional “funemployment” across the nation formerly known as America), so it’s not at all surprising to see Mr. Obama’s fellow Democrat operatives with bylines continue their creation of politically correct Orwellian euphemisms.

Related: “DHS Lost Track of 6,000 informal workers Foreign Nationals Overstaying Visas While Our Govt. Ignores Border Security.”

Antithought: Barack Obama’s Whig History

March 25th, 2014 - 12:08 pm

“The pathetic ‘wrong side of history’ plea,” as explored by Jonah Goldberg in the New York Post:

The right side of history is bunk.

In domestic politics, people (mostly liberals) tend to say, “You’re on the wrong side of history” about social issues that are breaking their way. It’s a handy phrase, loosely translated as, “You’re going to lose eventually, so why don’t you give up now?”

Philosophically, the expression is abhorrent because of its “Marxist twang” (to borrow historian Robert Conquest’s phrase). Marx popularized the idea that opposition to the inevitability of socialism was anti-intellectual and anti-scientific. The progression of history is scientifically knowable, quoth the Marxists, and so we need not listen to those who object to our program.

Later, Lenin, Stalin, Mao and others would use this reasoning to justify murdering millions of inconvenient people. It was a “God is on our side” argument, minus God.

In fairness, I doubt President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have Marx on the brain when they prattle on about the right and wrong sides of history. They more properly belong in what some call the “Whig school” of history, coined in 1931 by historian Herbert Butterfield. The Whiggish tendency in history says that the world progresses toward the inevitable victory of liberal democracy and social enlightenment.

Again, I doubt Obama and Kerry have ever cracked the spine of Butterfield’s book. Still, this administration has used the “wrong side of history” phrase more than any I can remember.

They particularly like to use it in foreign policy. In his first inaugural, Obama declared, “To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

Which seems distinctly non-postmodern — and un-multicultural, to boot. After all, as Mr. Obama said in a very Clintonian, “it depends on the meaning of ‘is’” phrasing shortly upon taking office, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”

A decade ago, when Obama’s fellow Democrat, former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevy resigned in disgrace, he went out on quite a similarly postmodern note, as Mark Steyn noted back then:

“My truth is that I am a gay American,” announced Gov. James McGreevey to the people of New Jersey last Thursday.

That’s such an exquisitely contemporary formulation: ”my” truth. Once upon a time, there was only ”the” truth. Now everyone gets his own — or, as the governor put it, ”One has to look deeply into the mirror of one’s soul and decide one’s unique truth in the world.” For Jim McGreevey, his truth is that he’s a gay American; for others in the Garden State, the truth about McGreevey is that he’s a corrupt sexual harasser who put his lover on the state payroll in a critical homeland security post, and whose I-am-what-I-am confessional is a tactical feint that distracts the media sob sisters from the fact that, as his final service to the Democratic Party, he’s resigned in such a way as to deny the people an early vote on his successor.

We’ll see whose truth prevails in the fullness of time.

The Middle East, Vladimir Putin, as Jonah goes on to note, and even the EU don’t share the same sense of “the right side of history” with Mr. Obama, and it seems awfully reactionary of him, all of a sudden, to deny their multicultural viewpoints in favor of his own, rather suddenly unilateral worldview. But then, “the right side of history” is a perfect example, of what Kevin D. Williamson described yesterday at NRO, of what he calls “Antithought:”

George Orwell gave us some invaluable words: Newspeak, doublethink, thoughtcrime. Given the generosity of his gift to us, it is probably ungrateful to desire that he had given us a little more, but we could use a term for what he described as the use of “language as an instrument for concealing or preventing thought.” For lack of a genuine Orwellian coinage, I’ll use the word “antithought,” by which I mean a phrase or expression that is intended to prevent understanding rather than to enable it. Antithought includes elements of the linguistic meme, question-begging, and attempts to change the subject.

The great example of our time is the phrase “voting against their own interests,” popularized by Thomas Frank in What’s the Matter with Kansas? Those words, or nearly identical ones, turn up everywhere: the beef-witted columns of Robert Reich, the Guardian, the Huffington Post, the Daily Kos, the Bangor Daily News, Alternet, the BBC, The New York Review of Books. Robert Schenkkan even put the phrase into the mouth of Bryan Cranston’s Lyndon Baines Johnson in his new play, All the Way.

As a phrase, “voting against their own interests” clearly has taken on a contagious life of its own, a genuine linguistic meme. But what is its function? Its ostensible function is to communicate the idea that conservative people of modest means, particularly in relatively poor Republican-leaning states, vote for candidates who are in fact hostile to their economic interests, having been beguiled into voting thus by the so-called social issues, by religion, by racism, by Fox News, or by whatever attendant boogeyman will do to swell progressivism, start a tweet or two. But its ostensible function is not its authentic function, nor can it be, because the antithought is engineered to foreclose discussion of the facts that it assumes, those being: (1) that conservative economic policies ill serve lower-income people, notably those in rural and agrarian areas; (2) that economic concerns should, as a matter of self-evident rationality, supersede non-economic concerns; and (3) that people in “Kansas” — that greater Kansas whose borders are not contiguous with those of the 34th state — would concede No. 1 and No. 2 if not for the nefarious operations of certain wicked social and political forces.

Have yourself an enjoyable little thoughtcrime, and read both articles.

‘Political Correctness Is Dead’

March 19th, 2014 - 6:37 pm

“It’s official,” Gavin McInnes writes. “On Sunday, March 9th, 2014, political correctness breathed its last breath:”

It had been careening out of control since trannies took over the controls, but the moment that Beyoncé starred in a PSA to ban the word “bossy,” PC lost its last shred of credibility.

Beyoncé is the songstress who warbles such sweet lines as, “I fill the tub up halfway then I ride it with my surfboard, surfboard/Grinding on that wood, grinding, grinding on that wood.” Her husband loves her very much and has made it clear that he has “99 problems, but a bitch ain’t one.” This dumb bitch, who spends thousands of dollars weaving white women’s hair into her own, is telling young girls to be themselves. Did you know “bossy” is a sexist term used to prevent girls from becoming themselves? Me neither. I don’t think anybody did. When the NAACP had a funeral for the N-word, it seemed silly, but at least the word “n****r” had a built-in pejorative taint. But now the PC Squad has resorted to opening the dictionary and pointing at whatever words their fingers touch first.

I’m all for banning bossy — as long as we start at the source:

ban_bossy_hillary_3-19-14

Related: Violent, potentially murderous hate-filled eliminationist rhetoric from anti-choice reactionaries.

More: “Marxism is, in general, cleverness for stupid people. You get to use words like ‘hegemony’ and analyse the world, albeit in unusually fatuous terms.”

Imagine you’re a backroom boffin in Vladimir Putin’s Russia assigned to monitor all of the news media out of the West that references Russia and your boss. Imagine the chuckle you know Putin’s going to get when you show him the following screen capture from CNN:

“Well, that’s it,” Putin is surely thinking. “It’s hands off the Ukraine, now, lest anyone think that I would bully that nice Barry Obama fella! It’s a good thing Stalin isn’t still alive to see this. I know he’d be ever-so-shocked if he were accused of bullying anyone.”

For reasons known only to themselves, “bullying” is one of those words that burrowed itself deep into the collective psyche of those working at CNN, in much the same way that words such as “tolerance” and “diversity” were omnipresent amongst those on the left in 1990s. I’m not sure if “bullying” appears in Jonah Goldberg’s 2012 book The Tyranny of Cliches, but surely the etymology of how “bullying” and its “we’re all victims now” mindset became a popular trope among the left in recent years should be added to a later edition. CNN’s Anderson Cooper was particularly enamored of the word in 2011, running shows titled “The Roots of Bullying,” even as his fellow anchors such as Piers Morgan delighted in bullying their guests, hence the title of Ben Shapiro’s book last year on the topic.

It’s probably for the best though that CNN wasn’t around during World War II; we were spared the following Chyron graphic:

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And while the American television networks were in their infancy during the early days of the Cold War, liberalism was made of much sterner stuff back then, which is why we never saw this graphic either:

stalin_bullying_truman_cnn_3-1-14

As John Nolte writes, “NEVER change, CNN. Don’t ever g**damn change.” Personally though, I’d love to see CNN change, but that would require growing a spine — and a cranium capable of acquiring a set of morals atop it, which isn’t likely to happen anytime soon, as a once great TV network continues to auger further into the ground.

The Obama Administration Declares War

February 28th, 2014 - 5:04 pm


Against Vladimir Putin? Don’t be silly. But the Obama administration is fully prepared to wage maximum war against the enemy within, as Peggy Noonan writes in her latest column:

We are suffering in great part from the politicization of everything and the spread of government not in a useful way but a destructive one. Everyone wants to help the poor, the old and the sick; the safety net exists because we want it. But voters and taxpayers feel bullied, burdened and jerked around, which again is not new but feels more intense every day. Common sense and native wit tell them America is losing the most vital part of itself in the continuing shift of power from private to public. Rules, regulations, many of them stupid, from all the agencies—local, state, federal—on the building of a house, or the starting of a business. You can only employ so many before the new insurance rules kick in so don’t employ too many, don’t take a chance! Which means: Don’t grow. It takes the utmost commitment to start a school or improve an existing one because you’ll come up against the unions, which own the politicians.

It’s all part of the malaise, the sclerosis. So is the eroding end of the idea that religious scruples and beliefs have a high place that must culturally and politically be respected. The political-media complex is bravely coming down on florists with unfashionable views. On Twitter Thursday the freedom-fighter who tweets as @FriedrichHayek asked: “Can the government compel a Jewish baker to deliver a wedding cake on a Saturday? If not why not.” Why not indeed. Because the truly tolerant give each other a little space? On an optimistic note, the Little Sisters of the Poor haven’t been put out of business and patiently await their day in court.

I think a lot of people right now, certainly Republicans and conservatives, feel like a guy in a batting cage taking ball after ball from an automatic pitching machine. He’s hitting the ball and keeping up and suddenly the machine starts going berserk. It’s firing five balls a second, then 10. At first he tries to hit a few. Then he’s just trying to duck, trying not to get hurt.

That’s how people feel about the demands and dictates. The balls keep coming at them politically, locally, culturally. Republicans and conservatives comprise at least half the country. That’s a lot of people.

But they’re the wrong kind of people from the left’s perspective — and as Bertolt Brecht suggested 60 years ago, “would it not be simpler if the government simply dissolved the people and elected another?”

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Today’s Update to the Newspeak Dictionary

February 4th, 2014 - 10:37 am

“Sotomayor: Labeling Illegal Immigrants Criminals Is Insulting,” the CBS branch in -Oceana DC reports:

Sotomayor was asked at a talk at Yale Law School later in the day about her use of the term “undocumented immigrants” rather than the traditional illegal alien. Sotomayor characterized the issue as a regulatory problem and said labeling immigrants criminals seemed insulting to her.

“I think people then paint those individuals as something less than worthy human beings and it changes the conversation,” Sotomayor said.

But it’s Sotomayor who wishes to change the conversation — or better yet, not have it all, by declaring someone committing an illegal act is not a criminal, and committing a microagression on reality. As George Orwell wrote in “Politics and the English language,” the goal is “to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind” — the latter half of that equation presciently summing up the Obama administration quite nicely:

Oh, and CBS adds, “Sotomayor was interviewed by Judith Resnik, a Yale law professor, in front of a large audience and later by Linda Greenhouse, a journalist-in residence and lecturer at the law school.”

As John Podhoretz wrote at the Corner in 2006, “Holy jamoley:”

Holy jamoley. Linda Greenhouse of the New York Times — the paper of record’s beat reporter on the Supreme Court — just gave a talk at Harvard in which she basically said, “Hello. My name is Linda, and I make The Nation look like the John Birch Society.” Every single time anyone tells you the New York Times isn’t a left-wing organ from its news columns to its wedding pages, just send him this link.

Related: From Tom Blumer at Newsbusters: “Mind-Boggling Stats on Illegal Immigrants With Criminal Records the Press Rarely If Ever Publishes.”

That wouldn’t be fit to print, to coin a phrase.

Now is the time when we employ doubleplus crimethink juxtaposition, Animals, Small Dead-style:

As a group of students begins studying for a calculus exam, a white student turns to an Asian peer and says, “Hey, would you mind helping me solve this problem? It’s really difficult, but you can probably do it.” The Asian student agrees to help, but for some reason feels uncomfortable with the way the question was asked.

Is the Asian student being oversensitive? Was the white student subtly and subconsciously displaying racial prejudice against Asians? Could both be true?

According to Dr. Derald Sue, a professor of psychology at Columbia University, the Asian student may have been the victim of a microaggression — an “everyday slight, putdown, indignity, or invalidation unintentionally directed toward a marginalized group.”

Sue has been researching microaggression since 2007 and has written two books on the subject. According to him, the person delivering the microaggression often does not know he’s doing it and might even think he is complimenting the other individual.

“When you try to bring the issue of microaggressions to the attention of people who are completely unaware that they have delivered a microaggression, they get defensive and deny it and tend to say that you’re being paranoid or you’re being oversensitive,” Sue tells me. “Many microaggressions are so subtle that neither target nor perpetrator may entirely understand what is going on.”

According to Sue, there are many types of microaggressions, based on race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or any other factor that can make a group “socially marginalized.” These microaggressions can be expressed verbally (as with the white and Asian students), nonverbally (as with a woman clutching her purse when a black man walks by), and environmentally (as with an educational curriculum containing few books by female authors).

“Microaggression — Never heard of it? You may be guilty of it,” Alec Torres, NRO, today.

Whether he wrote DOWN WITH BIG BROTHER, or whether he refrained from writing it, made no difference. Whether he went on with the diary, or whether he did not go on with it, made no difference. The Thought Police would get him just the same. He had committed — would still have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper — the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed for ever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.

* * * * * * * * *

His mind slid away into the labyrinthine world of doublethink. To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully-constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them; to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, to believe that democracy was impossible and that the Party was the guardian of democracy; to forget whatever it was necessary to forget, then to draw it back into memory again at the moment when it was needed, and then promptly to forget it again: and above all, to apply the same process to the process itself. That was the ultimate subtlety: consciously to induce unconsciousness, and then, once again, to become unconscious of the act of hypnosis you had just performed. Even to understand the world ‘doublethink’ involved the use of doublethink.

* * * * * * * * *

‘What are the stars?’ said O’Brien indifferently. ‘They are bits of fire a few kilometres away. We could reach them if we wanted to. Or we could blot them out. The earth is the centre of the universe. The sun and the stars go round it.’

Winston made another convulsive movement. This time he did not say anything. O’Brien continued as though answering a spoken objection:

‘For certain purposes, of course, that is not true. When we navigate the ocean, or when we predict an eclipse, we often find it convenient to assume that the earth goes round the sun and that the stars are millions upon millions of kilometres away. But what of it? Do you suppose it is beyond us to produce a dual system of astronomy? The stars can be near or distant, according as we need them. Do you suppose our mathematicians are unequal to that? Have you forgotten doublethink?’

— Orwell, George, 1984, written in 1949.

Fortunately, several doors offering multiple exit paths from the Ministry of Love do exist — and the doors will swing wider even further as this form macro-socialist-insanity continues to implode upon itself.

Update: While I quoted from Orwell’s 1984, it occurred to me afterwards this passage from Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism also juxtaposes well the concept of “microagression:”

This is not to say that there are no racist conservatives. But at the philosophical level, liberalism is battling a straw man. This is why liberals must constantly assert that conservatives use code words—because there’s nothing obviously racist about conservatism per se. Indeed, the constant manipulation of the language to keep conservatives—and other non-liberals—on the defensive is a necessary tactic for liberal politics. The Washington, D.C., bureaucrat who was fired for using the word “niggardly” correctly in a sentence is a case in point. The ground must be constantly shifted to maintain a climate of grievance. Fascists famously ruled by terror. Political correctness isn’t literally terroristic, but it does govern through fear. No serious person can deny that the grievance politics of the American left keeps decent people in a constant state of fright—they are afraid to say the wrong word, utter the wrong thought, offend the wrong constituency.

Which I had quoted back in 2012, when another lefty academician had her own form of microagression — by noting that the lunch you packed for your kid’s noontime cafeteria break could also be racist.

Two National Journals in One!

February 3rd, 2014 - 6:16 pm

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

“National Journal’s Hirsh: Time for a moral sanction against gun metaphors similar to the ‘N’ word.”

—Headline, the Daily Caller, January 21st, 2011.

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The National Journal, today: “The Obama Administration Is on T-Mobile’s Porch With a Shotgun.” Note the photo they chose to accompany their headline, screencapped above.

Hey, I have no problem with imagery and headline*, but then, it wasn’t my side of the aisle who in the wake of the shooting of Democrat Gabrielle Giffords, Republican-appointed Federal Judge John M. Roll, and over a dozen others by a random apolitical lunatic was trying to shutdown the First Amendment, shrink the Newspeak Dictionary down even further, and pretending to get the vapors over gun metaphors and clip art in January of 2011, either. But I will point that if you’re going to play by Saul Alinsky’s rules, Rule Four will apply to you as well.

* Though I’m far less sanguine about the Obama administration attempting to intercede between two corporation who have every right to merge, for better or worse. But that’s an entirely different topic.

How the L-Word Was Won

January 19th, 2014 - 7:43 pm

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In the introduction to his new book, The Revolt Against the Masses: How Liberalism Has Undermined the Middle Class, Fred Siegel of the Manhattan Institute writes:

The best short credo of liberalism came from the pen of the once canonical left-wing literary historian Vernon Parrington in the late 1920s. “Rid society of the dictatorship of the middle class,” Parrington insisted, referring to both democracy and capitalism, “and the artist and the scientist will erect in America a civilization that may become, what civilization was in earlier days, a thing to be respected.” Alienated from middle-class American life, liberalism drew on an idealized image of “organic” pre-modern folkways and rhapsodized about a future harmony that would reestablish the proper hierarchy of virtue in a post-bourgeois, post-democratic world.

Ninety years later, and as this self-mocking Salon article titled “Let’s nationalize Fox News” highlights, very little has changed amongst that portion of the left’s goals.

If you enjoyed Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, James Piereson’s Camelot and the Cultural Revolution, and Daniel J. Flynn’s A Conservative History of the American Left, you will certainly enjoy Siegel’s new book. His early chapters chart the end of the early “Progressives” of the late 19th and early 20th century, such as Teddy Roosevelt, whom Tim Stanley of the London Telegraph describes today as a “Racist, imperialist, power-hungry megalomaniac,” and Woodrow Wilson, the man who was a big fan of the Klan (and vice versa). As Jonah noted in Liberal Fascism, Wilson’s brutal term in office during World War I (which Wilson had promised to keep America out of) has largely been airbrushed out of history — two guesses as to why. But it was during that period, Siegel writes, that “Progressives” stole a huge base from the laissez-faire conservative right, and began to describe themselves as “Liberal”:

In the standard accounts of American liberalism, both left and right argue that after the 1920s, Progressivism faced the Great Depression and as a result matured into the fully flowered liberalism of the New Deal. As I suggested in the previous chapter, this is fundamentally mistaken. While “winning the war abroad,” the Progressives “lost their war at home,” notes historian Michael McGerr. “Amid race riots, strikes, high inflation, and a frenzied Red Scare, Americans turned against the Progressive blueprint for the nation. The climax of Progressivism, World War I, was also its death knell.” Modern Republicanism — as incarnated in the 1920s by Presidents Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover — and modern liberalism were both reactions to the excesses of Progressivism. Modern liberalism was born of discontinuity, a rejection of Progressivism — a wrenching betrayal and a shift in sensibility so profound that it still resonates today. More precisely, the cultural tone of modern liberalism was, in significant measure, set by a political love affair gone horribly wrong between Woodrow Wilson and a liberal left unable to grapple with the realities of power politics. For Progressives, reformers, and Socialists, the years from 1918 through 1920 were traumatic. During the presidential election of 1916, many leftists had embraced Woodrow Wilson as a thaumaturgical leader of near messianic promise, but in the wake of repression at home and revolution and diplomatic disappointment abroad, he came to be seen as a Judas, and his numinous rhetoric was despised as mere mummery.

For the ardent Progressive Frederick Howe, who had been Wilson’s Commissioner of Immigration, the pre-war promise of the benign state built on reasoned reform had turned to ashes. “I hated,” he wrote, “the new state that had arisen” from the war. “I hated its brutalities, its ignorance, its unpatriotic patriotism that made profit from our sacrifices and used it to suppress criticism of its acts. . . . I wanted to protest against the destruction of my government, my democracy, my America.” As part of his protest, the thoroughly alienated Howe distanced himself from Progressivism. Liberals were those Progressives who had renamed themselves so as to repudiate Wilson. “The word liberalism,” wrote Walter Lippmann in 1919, “was introduced into the jargon of American politics by that group who were Progressives in 1912 and Wilson Democrats from 1916 to 1918.” The new liberalism was a decisive cultural break with Wilson and Progressivism. While the Progressives had been inspired by a faith in democratic reforms as a salve for the wounds of both industrial civilization and power politics, liberals saw the American democratic ethos as a danger to freedom at home and abroad.

I interviewed Siegel for PJM’s old Sirius-XM radio show back in 2009, when he had just published a tremendous piece for City Journal on H.G. Wells, “The Godfather of American Liberalism,” material from which is incorporated into Revolt Against the Masses. Take a listen:

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(Ten minutes long, 9.09 MB file size. Click here to download MP3 file directly.)

As Siegel notes in his new book:

Wells was appalled by the decentralized nature of America’s locally oriented party and country-courthouse politics. He was aghast at the flamboyantly corrupt political machines of the big cities, unchecked by a gentry that might uphold civilized standards. He thought American democracy went too far in providing leeway to the poltroons who ran the political machines and the “fools” who supported them. The “immigrants are being given votes,” but “that does not free them, it only enslaves the country,” he said. In the North, he complained, even “the negroes were given votes.”

Yet another reminder that, as Kevin D. Williamson recently wrote in What Doomed Detroit, “It is an irony of our history that the political home of black racism in American politics is also the historical political home of white racism: the Democratic Party.”

Speaking of which, here’s our obligatory Allahpundit-style Exit Question: If “Progressives” dubbed themselves “Liberal” in 1919 to distance themselves from the debacle of an inept heavy-handed leftwing administration run amok, and then ran away from the L-Word after the Carter administration, only to eventually return to the P-Word in time for Obama, what word will they choose to describe themselves in the next few years? In the meantime, as Steve Hayward of Power Line recently asked, “Now That Hillary Clinton Has Dismissed ‘Liberalism’, Can Conservatives Take It Back?”

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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“Obama/Cameron Selfie Photographer to TNR: I’m Ashamed of Mankind,” the New Republic reports today:

Roberto Schmidt is the AFP photographer, currently the agency’s chief photographer for South Asia, who captured that infamous snap. Reached by phone in South Africa, he sighed heavily. “Why do people care about a selfie?” he said. “This is a sad reflection of our society.” He’d gone to photograph the memorial with a team of ten photographers. They moved some 500 images on the wire. “Good images, nice, strong images,” he said. “Images of South Africans dancing, smiling, chanting, which is the way they express mourning for a man they consider to be their father.” It was a long ceremony; he took many photographs of world leaders giving speeches and South Africans grieving. And suddenly he saw the Danish prime minister lift her phone to take a photo of her face alongside seatmates Obama and Cameron. Schmidt dutifully clicked away. “They’re in front of you, this happens, you take the picture,” he said. “But I saw so many good images from that memorial. And the picture that’s getting played is the president in a selfie. That’s kind of a bummer.”

“That’s kind of a bummer.” Let’s translate that from MSM to English: I broke news — I’m a successful wire service photog! But I broke news that made Mr. Obama look bad. I’ll never hear the end of this from my peers standing around the Monsieur Coffee machine in the AFP break room in their Paris HQ. I am a failure of a photographer. I’ll never be stupid enough to break news again. Mon Dieu! Where did it all go wrong?

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The Cliché of Tyranny

November 23rd, 2013 - 1:49 pm

Macro-aggression:

Some are describing this as “America’s anger epidemic.” And there are a few reasons: uncertainty in the job market and the economy, working long hours — on average about one month more now than they did in the 1970s and with less vacation.

So if it seems like Americans are angrier these days it’s because we are.

What has you seeing red? Maybe it’s the traffic or the ups and downs of the stock market. For one guy seen on a viral video, he threw a tantrum over a city street trombone player. I guess he didn’t like the tune.

And of course, there are the celebrity meltdowns, like Alec Baldwin’s epic fail last week when he blew up at Fox 5 reporter Linda Schmidt.

Micro-aggression:

More crushing injustice on campus, this time at the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies:

In a letter sent to colleagues in the department after the sit-in, [Professor] Rust said students in the demonstration described grammar and spelling corrections he made on their dissertation proposals as a form of “micro-aggression.” “I have attempted to be rather thorough on the papers and am particularly concerned that they do a good job with their bibliographies and citations, and these students apparently don’t feel that is appropriate,” Rust said in the letter.

You see, by highlighting spelling and punctuation errors, the professor is contributing to an “unsafe climate for students of colour.” Reminding students of the basic rules of English apparently helps to create “a hostile and toxic environment” in Professor Rust’s classroom. Such are the mental and emotional traumas of the modern grad school intellectual. These, remember, are people studying for master’s degrees and doctorates. Advanced learning. For those of you interested in the policing of tiny tragedies, “micro-aggressions” are defined by an official UCLA report as,

Subtle verbal and nonverbal insults directed toward non-whites, often done automatically and unconsciously. They are layered insults based on one’s race, gender, class, sexuality, language, immigration status, phenotype, accent, or surname.

However,

It is not clear whether any workable definition of discriminatory conduct is capable of capturing every such microaggression.

No of course not, as life once again imitates Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism:

This is not to say that there are no racist conservatives. But at the philosophical level, liberalism is battling a straw man. This is why liberals must constantly assert that conservatives use code words—because there’s nothing obviously racist about conservatism per se. Indeed, the constant manipulation of the language to keep conservatives—and other non-liberals—on the defensive is a necessary tactic for liberal politics. The Washington, D.C., bureaucrat who was fired for using the word “niggardly” correctly in a sentence is a case in point. The ground must be constantly shifted to maintain a climate of grievance. Fascists famously ruled by terror. Political correctness isn’t literally terroristic, but it does govern through fear. No serious person can deny that the grievance politics of the American left keeps decent people in a constant state of fright—they are afraid to say the wrong word, utter the wrong thought, offend the wrong constituency.

Offend students by pointing out the wrong punctuation. Congratulations Frankfurt School — you’ve sown the seeds of discontent remarkably well:

Politics and the Obama Language

November 21st, 2013 - 1:09 pm

Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

— George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language,” 1946.

The president was not through reinventing history. If Obama spoke untruths on more than 20 occasions in selling Obamacare, he also made a post facto attempt to sneak a qualifier into his serial false promises: “What we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.”

But there is no record that Obama or his lieutenants had ever publicly said such a thing. The president’s attempt to airbrush history is similar to the commandments on the barn wall in George Orwell’s Animal Farm. One day the commandment “All animals are equal” mysteriously appears rewritten with a new qualifier beside it, as if it had been there all along: “All animals are equal — but some animals are more equal than others.”

The New York Times — which not long ago gave us the new term “white Hispanic,” to deemphasize the minority status of George Zimmerman in the Travyon Martin case — is also guilty of Obamacare-speak. The Times rebranded Obama’s untruths about Obamacare by simply declaring that Obama “clearly misspoke.” Does the Times think a real-estate agent “misspeaks” when he sells a two-bedroom house by falsely assuring that it is a three-bedroom home?

— Victor Davis Hanson, “Obamacare-Speak,” today.

And of course, to further obfuscate the language, none dare call it Obamacare — when it’s failing:

Related: If you like your doctor, you can’t necessarily keep your doctor. And a College Kos Kid gets mugged by reality:

A liberal blogger and representative on the health care committee at the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn), turned to the liberal blog The Daily Kos, on Monday to decry the negative impact he says President Barack Obama’s signature health care law is having on grad students at his Ivy League school.

“For us, at least in the college health insurance market, the ACA has truly been the ‘law of unintended consequences,’ wrote Michael Convente on The Daily Kos, on Monday.

“Unintended” — you use that word; I do not think it means what you think it means.

And speaking of getting mugged by reality, Time-Warner-CNN-HBO removes the blinders — at least temporarily:

Time_anti_obamacare_cover_11-21-13

Hey, remember in 2011, when Time magazine was comparing Mr. Obama to President Reagan?

The New York Times turned into the house organ for Winston Smith’s Ministry of Truth so slowly, I hardly even noticed.

“From the newspaper that brought us the immortal phrase ‘Fake But Accurate’ to describe a lie told about the President of the United States, here’s a great euphemism for a lie told by the President of the United States,” as spotted by Jim Treacher:

Obama in Bind Trying to Keep Health Law Vow

WASHINGTON — Under intense bipartisan pressure to answer mounting consumer complaints about the botched health care rollout, White House officials are struggling to make good on President Obama’s promise that Americans can keep their insurance coverage without undermining the new health law or adding unaffordable costs…

The split between lawmakers and the White House reflects the dilemma the president finds himself in as he seeks to follow through on last week’s acknowledgment about his incorrect promise on health care coverage.

As Jim reminds the increasingly senile Gray Lady, “‘If you like your plan, you can keep your plan’ was a lie. Arguably the biggest lie, with the biggest consequences for the biggest number of people, in American history. So of course, Obama’s enablers at the NYT are shielding him from the fallout by… lying.”

Meanwhile, the New York Post enjoys a little schadenfreude on behalf of its crosstown rival: “The stampede for the exits continues at Jill Abramson’s beleaguered New York Times:”

Where once the Times was a destination where people generally ended their career, one departee noted that it has increasingly become a pit stop on the path to greater riches outside the Times — and Abramson is having particular problems holding onto high-profile columnists.

A Times spokeswoman insisted the top brass is not worried.

“Given the size and strength of our staff (we have a newsroom of more than 1,100), it’s inevitable that some very good people might be recruited to other opportunities in what has become a crowded and complicated media marketplace,” said Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy.

“At the same time, we are still hiring great new talent — Jonathan Martin and Jason Horowitz, among them — and Jill remains committed to ensuring that our newsroom has the best and strongest mix of journalistic talent.”

Given the “dance of the low-sloping foreheads” that parades through the Times’ offices, that last sentence could best be described as an incorrect promise.

UC Berkeley Bans Term ‘Illegal Immigrant’

November 9th, 2013 - 2:18 pm

And thus, the Newspeak Dictionary shrinks ever-smaller:

The UC Berkeley student government has banned the term “illegal immigrant” from its discourse, deeming the phrase racist, offensive, unfair and derogatory.

In an unanimous vote, student senators passed a resolution that stated the word “illegal” is “racially charged,” “dehumanizes” people, and contributes to “punitive and discriminatory actions aimed primarily at immigrants and communities of color.”

The “resolution in support of drop the I-word campaign” was approved 18 to 0 with one abstention on Oct. 30, according to a copy of the meeting’s minutes obtained by The College Fix.

Its approval marks at least the second time this semester that a public university’s student government has voted to eradicate the phrase. UCLA passed a nearly identical measure in late August.

There are an estimated 900 students in the country illegally who are currently enrolled in the 10-campus, University of California system, according to UC officials. These students live in “fear” because former Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano is now president of the UC system, according to the resolution, which aims to “create a safe campus environment for all students.”

“The ‘I’ word is legally inaccurate since being out of status is a civil rather than criminal infraction,” states the resolution, which notes some journalists have stopped using the term.

“No human being is illegal,” the resolution continues. “ ‘Foreign nationals,’ ‘undocumented immigrants,’ ‘immigrants without papers’ and ‘immigrants seeking status’ are examples of terms we can use that do not dehumanize people.”

The resolution also calls for administrators and faculty to attend an “UndocuAlly training workshop.”

PJ Media was able to smuggle a camera in to record one of the discussions at UC Berkeley, just before the vote was held. Here is our exclusive clandestinely videotaped footage:

And finally, just for fun, here’s Phil Collins and the boys from Airstrip One committing thoughtcrime, in the form of a song that was recorded a year before the titular date of Orwell’s novel:

Rick Reilly Trolls the Left

September 20th, 2013 - 8:02 am

Regrading the hatred for the name of the Washington Redskins by the uber-PC football-hating left, Rick Reilly of ESPN “decided to have a bit of fun with this and point out to the (almost uniformly) white liberals who operate the above outlets that, well, actual Indians don’t have a problem with the name,” Sunny Bunch of the Washington Free Beacon writes:

If I can circle back to this post on political correctness, there’s another line from Chuck Klosterman’s essay on Andrew Dice Clay and the reaction that gave rise to him that is worth quoting in this context: “I’m reticent to use the term ‘political correctness.’ I realize it drives certain people really, really crazy. (My wife is one of these people.)” My experiences confirm Klosterman’s point. And the reaction to Reilly’s comment is a perfect example of the phenomenon. It is kind of amazing the response you get as soon as you make the entirely uncontroversial point that opposition to the name “Redskin” is rooted in little more than reactionary, kneejerk political correctness.

I get the sense that Reilly wrote this column just to see what the PC police would do. And they didn’t disappoint.

To mix and match the favorite slogans of Glenn Reynolds and former Redskins coach Vince Lombardi, run to daylight, and read the whole thing.

Related: For more reporting from the toxic battlefield of PC versus the NFL, a few angry San Francisco 49ers fans upset with the roar of the crowd noise at the Seattle Seahawks stadium after the ‘Hawks stomped the ‘Niners 29 to 3 this past Sunday “called on the NFL to establish a rule to set a noise level ceiling. Teams that violate that rule more than three times would give up their home games.”

Wow, normally proud and snobbish 49ers fans as just another leftwing San Francisco victims group. I’ve officially read it all.

Actually though, if they really wanted to get revenge against the Seahawks, they’d call on the NFL to banish their current uniforms. Far more so than the Seahawks’ original (and pretty bad) togs, these things are truly hideous.

‘Delusions of Gender’

August 23rd, 2013 - 3:43 pm

As Kevin D. Williamson writes at NRO, “Bradley Manning Is Not a Woman — Pronouns and delusions do not trump biology:”

Dr. McHugh became a controversial figure in the 1970s when he was the chairman of the psychiatry department at Johns Hopkins University and set about dismantling its “Gender Identity Clinic,” which was established in 1965 and performed what we all have agreed to call “sex-reassignment surgery,” a term that begs the question. Sex is a biological feature that is present at the level of DNA. That fact is known even to Barack Obama’s Justice Department, which in April disclosed through an anonymous leak (of course) that it had discovered “female DNA” at the site of the Boston-marathon bombing. The ladies and gentlemen at Eric Holder’s disposal did not ask the DNA whether it identified as male or female, but instead took a look at the chromosomes, which answered the question for them. A sample taken from any man or woman could be used in precisely the same way, regardless of how that person self-identifies. Feminists have long argued that biological sex and social gender should be considered disconnected, but as a matter of law (and more than law) we are expected to treat them as a unified phenomenon: Eric Holder’s DOJ argues that the case in Arcadia is one of sex discrimination, even though there is no serious question as to the sex of the girl in question. By this standard, not only is it sex discrimination to treat a girl as a girl when she desires to be treated as a boy, it is sex discrimination to maintain such categories to begin with.

We have created a rhetoric of “gender identity” that is disconnected from biological sexual fact, and we have done so largely in the service of enabling the sexual mutilation of physically healthy men and women (significantly more men) by medical authorities who should be barred by professional convention if not by conscience from the removal of healthy organs (and limbs, more on that later), an act that by any reasonable standard ought to be considered mutilation rather than therapy. This is not to discount the feelings of people who suffer from gender-identity disorders — to the contrary, those feelings must be taken into account in determining courses of treatment for people who have severe personality disorders. But those subjective experiences do not render inconsequential the biological facts: A man who believes he is a woman trapped in a man’s body, no matter the intensity of his feeling, is no such thing. The duty of the medical profession is not to encourage and enable delusions, but to help those who suffer from them to cope with them. It is worth noting here that as a matter of law and a matter of social expectation, the fiction of sex change is treated as the paramount good: We are not expected to treat those who have undergone the procedure as men who have taken surgical and hormonal steps to impersonate women (or vice versa) but as people who have literally changed sex, which they have not — no more than Dennis Avner, the famous “Stalking Cat” who attempted to physically transform himself into a tiger, changed species.

To keep the analogy going, Manning’s seemingly sudden decision to look at life from both sides now is catnip to the MSM; it’s the one thing he has left going into prison to narcissistically control wide swatches of the sympathetic leftwing media, and they’re only too happy to oblige.

On the other hand though (is that phrase too insensitive to those with a different kind of amputation fetish?) perhaps Manning has little to worry about:


By the way, is Chelsea Clinton still with NBC? A “Chelsea Meets Chelsea” interview segment on the Today Show or one of MSNBC’s weekend prison shows would be awesome.

‘I am Chelsea Manning. I am a Female’

August 22nd, 2013 - 11:48 am

Dude:

One day after being sentenced to 35 years in prison for the largest leak of classified documents in U.S. history, the Army private the world knows as Bradley Manning issued a statement about who she really is. “As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female,” Manning wrote in a statement read on the Today show. “Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility).”

The letter is signed Chelsea E. Manning, and thanks supporters for raising awareness of her case.

Manning is likely to serve her time at Fort Leavenworth, which doesn’t offer hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery to prisoners, as reported by Courthouse News. David Coombs, Manning’s lawyer, was not sure if Fort Leavenworth would offer Manning hormone therapy, though he said on Today that he was “hoping” the prison “would do the right thing.”

“If Fort Leavenworth does not, then I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure they are forced to do so,” Coombs said, according to the Today website. It’s not clear whether Manning will be imprisoned in the male or female population. In U.S. prisons in general, transgender inmates are typically classified by their officially assigned gender, rather than the gender with which they identify.

Considering the photo attached to the above Rolling Stone article, their soft-focus Dzhokhar Tsarnaev-style cover photo should be a sight to behold.

The hyper-PC Gray Lady reaches for both the smelling salts and the style guide; meanwhile, Jim Treacher goes on pronoun watch with assorted MSM publications and concludes:

As for the Daily Caller, we just have the Associated Press story, which mostly avoids gender pronouns but at one point slips up and refers to Manning as “he.” Bigoted by proxy!

That’s just a partial list, but you get the point.

If we’ve learned anything from this exercise, which we haven’t, it’s that Politico, the Wall Street Journal, the Today Show, the New York Times, Business Insider, CBS DC, ABC News, NPR, at least one guy at Forbes, BBC News, CNN, and the Associated Press are a bunch of bigots.

Or maybe they’re not, and political correctness is silly and exhausting.

You make the call… bigot.

Heh.

Well, that only took nine days. On the 12th, Allahpundit wrote “MSNBC now using ‘R-Word’ in place of Redskins:”

Via the Corner. Is this a network-wide policy or is it just Maddow setting the rules for her own show? You’d think MSNBC executives might want a team huddle to decide before their 9 p.m. host implicitly pronounces everyone else on the payroll who uses the term “Redskins” guilty of “painfully racist” language. Turns out the YouKnowWhatsits play twice in primetime on sister network NBC this fall and I’m pretty sure “R-word” ain’t going to cut it in the booth. Time to boycott “Sunday Night Football”?

Actually, it might be time to boycott MSNBC itself. Oh wait, I’ve been doing that ever since Soledad O’Brien and her digitally animated sidekick Dev Null left the NBC albatross network in the late 1990s, at the conclusion of its first incarnation as a proto-TechTV. Fortunately, Allah and Newsbusters are both willing to take one for the team; Paul Bremmer, blogging at the latter Website spots MSNBC’s Alex Wagner moaning about the three Miami Dolphins who decided to sit out the 1972 team’s photo op with the president yesterday:

ALEX WAGNER: It was one of the few Washington traditions that was above politics, but apparently not anymore. Today the 1972 Miami Dolphins will visit the White House 40 years after their 1972 Super Bowl victory and their unmatched 17-0 NFL record. President Nixon did not host the team at the time because, in typical Nixon fashion, he wanted to snub his opponents. For the record, Nixon supported the Dolphins’ Super Bowl opponents, the Washington Redskins. That’s something Richard Nixon and I could have agreed on. But even the most feel-good White House ceremony seems to be threatened by ideology. At least three ‘72 Dolphins players are refusing the White House invite because — wait for it, Joy — politics. Former lineman Bob Kuchenberg told the South Florida Sun Sentinel, quote, “Mom said if you have nothing good to say about someone, then don’t say anything. I don’t have anything good to say about someone.” Center Jim Langer added, “We’ve got some real moral compass issues in Washington. I don’t want to be in a room with those people and pretend I’m having a good time.” Because it would be impossible to you to pretend to be having a good time when being honored by the president of the United States at the White House.

No word yet on what sort of recrimination Wagner faces for violating the policy regarding “the R-Word” laid down by Maddow, who has several years worth of seniority with the network. But does she have the clout to cause a fellow newsreader to be dismissed for uttering such “painfully racist” language on-air?

Having been yoked from the mothership of the Washington Post newspaper by its purchase by Jeff Bezos, Slate’s opening gambit is to fly the flag of Oceania high and proudly, and tack even further left. (Link safe; goes to Hot Air):

[T]ime passes, the world changes, and all of a sudden a well-intentioned symbol is an embarrassment. Here’s a quick thought experiment: Would any team, naming itself today, choose “Redskins” or adopt the team’s Indian-head logo? Of course it wouldn’t…

So while the name Redskins is only a bit offensive, it’s extremely tacky and dated—like an old aunt who still talks about “colored people” or limps her wrist to suggest someone’s gay…

Changing how you talk changes how you think. The adoption of the term “African-American”—replacing “Negro” and “colored”—in the aftermath of the civil rights movement brought a welcome symmetry with Italian-Americans and Irish-Americans, groups defined by geographic origin rather than by race or color. Replacing “same-sex marriage” with “marriage equality” helped make gay marriage a universal cause rather than a special pleading. If Slate can do a small part to change the way people talk about the team, that will be enough.

Close readers of Slate know that we are owned by the Washington Post Co., which just sold the Washington Post newspaper, the market-maker in Redskins coverage. Slate and the Washington Post newspaper have always been editorially independent, and what we’ve decided has no bearing on the newspaper, which still refers to the Redskins. Speaking as a Post subscriber, I wish they would change. The Post is—along with ESPN and the other NFL broadcasters—one of the only institutions that could bring genuine pressure on Snyder to drop the name. But it’s only fair to acknowledge that it’s a much more difficult decision for the newspaper than it is for us, given that covering Dan Snyder’s team is essential to the Post’s editorial mission.

Well, that’s it. I’m never relying on Slate for my daily NFL coverage ever again.

He wrote his tweet back in April, but even so, I’d say that the words of Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III are the perfect response to Slate’s rococo look at us! we’re the purist leftists of them all! editorial today: