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Ed Driscoll

The Return of the Primitive

Quote of the Day

January 27th, 2015 - 11:59 pm

I’ll never forget Claude Lanzmann, the director of Shoah, the nine-and-a-half-hour Holocaust documentary, shouting at me, accusatorially, in his Parisian flat: “There is even a baby picture of Hitler!” Virtually aghast at the very idea that there could be such a picture, because it would insidiously ensnare people into the evil enterprise of trying to explain why — why that innocent infant evolved into a genocidal monster.

Lanzmann rejected any such “understanding,” preferring a Hitler who sprang full-blown like a demon in our midst. Almost like Macduff, not “of woman born,” Hitler not of human formed. A hostility to the baby picture, almost disclaiming the picture’s right to exist because of its misleading potential. All of which led, after the French publication of the book, to my clash with Lanzmann, which the Parisian magazine Le Figaro called “L’Affair Rosenbaum. ”

Of course, it is true, many explanations become exculpations, but I would suggest that does not deny, prima facie, the validity of the search to know more than we do. Or entail forgiveness — on the grounds that “to understand all is to forgive all” — no matter how much we know. Maybe we will never know all, never know enough, but it won’t necessarily be because we’re dealing with a supernatural creature beyond human explanation. It may be because human nature has more profound depths than we imagined. Or it may be that we lack some crucial piece of his personal history.

But something or some things made Hitler want to do what he did. It wasn’t a concatenation of impersonal, external forces, a kind of collective determinism. It required his impassioned personal desire for extermination, even at the potential cost of defeat for Germany. It required him to choose evil. It required free will.

“Hitler, Continued: Afterword from the Updated Edition of ‘Explaining Hitler: The Search for the Origins of His Evil,’” by Ron Rosenbaum, Los Angeles Review of Books, July 10th, 2014.

Political Correctness is the Essence of Leftism

January 27th, 2015 - 10:42 pm

“In a widely praised piece for New York Magazine, liberal writer Jonathan Chait says the leftist language police are perverting liberalism,” Sean Davis writes at the Federalist. “Chait is wrong. The politically correct language police don’t pervert modern liberalism; they embody it. And amateur leftist thought cop Jonathan Chait himself is proof.” Read the whole thing, including this passage:

Now, some will say that Chait has been unnecessarily provocative in his writing. That he should’ve made a better effort to reach out to the people he’s criticizing. The problem with this framing is that it presumes the angry rage mobs roaming Twitter in search of someone who has insufficiently checked his or her or its privilege are open to debate, to having their mind changed. That they’re interested in having a calm, rational discussion. This is a faulty presumption. It’s impossible to have a polite discussion on this topic because the outraged don’t want to have any discussion on this topic. As Chait puts it:

If a person who is accused of bias attempts to defend his intentions, he merely compounds his own guilt. (Here one might find oneself accused of man/white/straightsplaining.) It is likewise taboo to request that the accusation be rendered in a less hostile manner. This is called “tone policing.” If you are accused of bias, or “called out,” reflection and apology are the only acceptable response — to dispute a call-out only makes it worse. There is no allowance in p.c. culture for the possibility that the accusation may be erroneous. A white person or a man can achieve the status of “ally,” however, if he follows the rules of p.c. dialogue. A community, virtual or real, that adheres to the rules is deemed “safe.”

Actually, there’s been a term for this since at least 2010, when Eric Raymond of the Armed & Dangerous blog coined the portmanteau “Kafkatrapping”:

One very notable pathology is a form of argument that, reduced to essence, runs like this: “Your refusal to acknowledge that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…} confirms that you are guilty of {sin,racism,sexism, homophobia,oppression…}.” I’ve been presented with enough instances of this recently that I’ve decided that it needs a name. I call this general style of argument “kafkatrapping”, and the above the Model A kafkatrap. In this essay, I will show that the kafkatrap is a form of argument that is so fallacious and manipulative that those subjected to it are entitled to reject it based entirely on the form of the argument, without reference to whatever particular sin or thoughtcrime is being alleged. I will also attempt to show that kafkatrapping is so self-destructive to the causes that employ it that change activists should root it out of their own speech and thoughts.

My reference, of course, is to Franz Kafka’s “The Trial”, in which the protagonist Josef K. is accused of crimes the nature of which are never actually specified, and enmeshed in a process designed to degrade, humiliate, and destroy him whether or not he has in fact committed any crime at all. The only way out of the trap is for him to acquiesce in his own destruction; indeed, forcing him to that point of acquiescence and the collapse of his will to live as a free human being seems to be the only point of the process, if it has one at all.

This is almost exactly the way the kafkatrap operates in religious and political argument. Real crimes – actual transgressions against flesh-and-blood individuals – are generally not specified. The aim of the kafkatrap is to produce a kind of free-floating guilt in the subject, a conviction of sinfulness that can be manipulated by the operator to make the subject say and do things that are convenient to the operator’s personal, political, or religious goals. Ideally, the subject will then internalize these demands, and then become complicit in the kafkatrapping of others.

But it’s all moot anyhow, since the blunt force of the mob doesn’t arrive en masse to discuss an issue, but to pummel the soon to-be-unperson guilty of doubleplusungood thoughtcrime into submission, or at least into silence, as Davis writes in his response to Chait, and as Ace writes in his:

Mobs do not “argue.” They intimidate or humiliate (or both). Mobs do not engage in an enlightened, reasonable dialogue. They shout ritualized chants. Mobs are not interested in persuading someone of their wrongness of their claims; they only care about shutting the speaker up, whether he’s changed his mind or not.

An argument from a single author (or group acting together to write a single paper) is an instrument of reason; a mob which selects a target and then attacks that target with wolf-pack like tactics is an instrument of emotion.

Human beings are in fact hard-wired, as an evolutionary matter, to cringe before the baying mob; and they are further hard-wired to feel empowered by being part of an angry, screaming mob.

So it’s not quite true that joining up with a mob is “speech” just like any other speech. The “speech” of a mob is emotionally abusive and personally intimidating — and it is hardwired into our brains to find it such, when directed at we ourselves.

On the other hand, we’re also hard-wired to really enjoy leading a mob against someone. It feels good. There is no denying that; I’ve felt damned good everytime I’ve joined up with a mob.

And it is precisely because it Feels So Good to engage in coordinated mob cruelty that thoughtful people must resist the lure and call out mobs where they see them.

And of course, it’s not like Chait himself is very pure in this department, but as Steve Hayward quips at Power Line, “A Foolish Consistency Is the Hobgoblin of Chait’red Minds”:

Except that Chait doesn’t seem to live by his own principles.  Because last week he wrote a column in which he argued that climate skepticism ought to disqualify someone from holding public office:

The Republican Party confidently and forthrightly rejects the firm conclusions of science on a major public-policy question. Isn’t that a completely disqualifying position? If a candidate for a managerial job at your office insists that two plus three equals seven, it wouldn’t matter how well-qualified this candidate may be at any other aspect of the job. Even if you agreed with everything else the Republicans stood for, how could a party so obviously unhinged be entrusted with power?

Never mind Chait’s completely tendentious rendering of the climate debate in those three sentences: I guess there are limits to Chait’s embrace of free expression.

And as Kevin D. Williamson adds at the Corner, Chait’s main beef is that the leftwing mob is now using PC “as a cudgel against white liberals such as Jonathan Chait, who had previously enjoyed a measure of immunity”:

Chait isn’t arguing for taking an argument on its own merits; he’s arguing for a liberals’ exemption to the Left’s general hostility toward any unwelcome idea that comes from a speaker who checks any unapproved demographic boxes, the number of which — “cisgendered,” etc. — is growing in an appropriately cancerous fashion. “White males” is a category that includes Jonathan Chait and Rush Limbaugh, and Chait, naturally, doesn’t like that much.

As Williamson notes, Chait still hates the right far more than he does any activity by the left. His piece in New York magazine even mentions:

liberals are correct not only to oppose racism and sexism but to grasp (in a way conservatives generally do not) that these biases cast a nefarious and continuing shadow over nearly every facet of American life. Since race and gender biases are embedded in our social and familial habits, our economic patterns, and even our subconscious minds, they need to be fought with some level of consciousness.

Nice. Is this a subconscious attempt at the old Marxist trope that those who aren’t true believers are suffering from “a false consciousness?” Or that those on the right have no conscience at all? Additionally, Sean Davis has a screen shot of Chait calling those who oppose Obamacare not just wrong but both “denialists” and “insane” a year ago, which simultaneously dovetails with his aforementioned wish to blacklist those who don’t tow the global warming orthodoxy, and mashes up a callback to Holocaust deniers with the classic Soviet political psychiatric style of declaring your opponents insane.

Of course, madness is a trait Chait has some familiarity with himself; 12 years ago he explored “Why I Hate George W. Bush” in a piece published by the New Republic.

P.C. M.D., heal thyself.

Recently, Ace’s sidebar linked to a piece by a left-leaning journalist at Splice Today.com who found himself caught up in the middle of the Socialist Justice Warrors  and the GamerGate brush wars.  He described himself as being “Swiftboated on Twitter” by the SJWs, which, of course, he described as a pejorative:

John Kerry started off as a war hero but then got swiftboated by the opposition with lies. As a result, an honorable soldier who had risked his life in the service of his country came to be seen by many voters as having a compromised military record.

Oh to be a fly on the wall if he was ever asked how exactly did Kerry’s fellow vets lie about him, especially Kerry’s own “JJJJenggggghis Khan” moment where he launched his far left political career by selling out his fellow vets in the Senate.

I don’t want to rehash the history of 2004 — or 1971. But as with Chait inserting his imagined superiority over the right at a moment where he could use their help in his defense, why use a phrase that instantly alienates half of your potential allies on the right?

Because being attacked by the left apparently isn’t as bad as facing banishment to the complete intellectual Siberia of being declared an apostate, which seems to be Chait’s fear as well.

At least for the moment. Don Kilmer, an attorney and, like me, a fellow conservative denizen behind the Blue State lines of Silicon Valley argues it’s just a matter of time for Chait to really have second thoughts. On Twitter, at least one person attempted to disabuse Kilmer of this notion:

I agree — and it’s difficult to be sympathetic to someone who will probably resume attacking conservatives and the right in general even more vociferously now, if only to tacitly beg for admittance back into the (alas) PC club. I’d like to be more sympathetic to Chait’s current plight, but until he stops attacking the right, I’m inclined to agree with Michael Walsh at the PJ Tatler when he declares Chait’s current predicament “a Laughing at the Death of Little Nell” moment.

Though to be fair, if anyone would accuse the right of having a heart of stone, it’s Jonathan Chait.

Update: Dispatches from the Manichean left:

Life Has Become Super-Cereal

January 27th, 2015 - 12:47 pm

“Why A Fake Article Titled ‘Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?’ Was Accepted By 17 Medical Journals,” Fast Company explains:

Shrime decided to see how easy it would be to publish an article. So he made one up. Like, he literally made one up. He did it using www.randomtextgenerator.com. The article is entitled “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?” and its authors are the venerable Pinkerton A. LeBrain and Orson Welles. The subtitle reads: “The surgical and neoplastic role of cacao extract in breakfast cereals.” Shrime submitted it to 37 journals over two weeks and, so far, 17 of them have accepted it. (They have not “published” it, but say they will as soon as Shrime pays the $500. This is often referred to as a “processing fee.” Shrime has no plans to pay them.) Several have already typeset it and given him reviews, as you can see at the end of this article. One publication says his methods are “novel and innovative”!. But when Shrime looked up the physical locations of these publications, he discovered that many had very suspicious addresses; one was actually inside a strip club.

Shrime decided to see how easy it would be to publish an article. So he made one up. Like, he literally made one up. He did it using www.randomtextgenerator.com. The article is entitled “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs?” and its authors are the venerable Pinkerton A. LeBrain and Orson Welles. The subtitle reads: “The surgical and neoplastic role of cacao extract in breakfast cereals.” Shrime submitted it to 37 journals over two weeks and, so far, 17 of them have accepted it. (They have not “published” it, but say they will as soon as Shrime pays the $500. This is often referred to as a “processing fee.” Shrime has no plans to pay them.) Several have already typeset it and given him reviews, as you can see at the end of this article. One publication says his methods are “novel and innovative”!. But when Shrime looked up the physical locations of these publications, he discovered that many had very suspicious addresses; one was actually inside a strip club.

Shrime’s experiment, uncovering numerous bogus scientific publications that will publish anything for a buck is sort of the reverse of the experiment by an NYU physics professor named Alan D. Sokal, who in 1995, who drafted the most densely-written academic gobbledegook he could imagine, titled it “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity,” sent it off to a leading academic publication, who happily, cluelessly published it.

Ultimately, unless you’ve set out to publish a long form advertorial or quasi-direct response ad, if you have to pay to publishing something (beyond say, monthly badwidth charges if you host your own Website or blog, of course), you’re doing it wrong.

But two questions: Why shouldn’t Michael Crichton’s “Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect” apply exclusively to laymen?

And doesn’t this article call out for the expert commentary of one superstar political commentator in particular?

Scenes from The Dark Knight Rises

January 26th, 2015 - 10:45 pm

Huh. The reporting out of Bill de Blasio’s New York turned into a Batman movie a lot sooner than even I expected when I Photoshopped him into Bane a year ago:

di_blasio_bane_batman_1-2-14-3

By the way, the doomsday “reporting” on CNN tonight was hilarious: Don Lemon leaves his usual search for airplane-sized black holes to stand under slushy snow coming down in midtown Manhattan, while other CNN anchors stand and drive in snow down Park Ave. and Boston. They covered no other news, and there wasn’t even a ticker at the bottom on the screen reporting on news elsewhere in the US and around the world. And the Chryon described “‘Historic’ Snow Falls,” complete with unnecessary quotation marks around “Historic” for extra-added postmodern irony. Dave Barry’s tweet sums up the tone perfectly:

And speaking of wintery movie tie-ins:

But hey, news mastermind Jeff Zucker always knows what he’s doing, right?

Related: Andrew Klavan on the media, decades of their zany global warming predictions, and “All of the Leftists, All of the Time.”

obama_chamberlain_charlie_hebdo_1-11-15-1

“Paris attacks: Do not call Charlie Hebdo killers ‘terrorists’, says head of BBC Arabic Tarik Kafala,” the London Independent reports. Check out this Orwellian dissembling:

Tarik Kafala, the head of BBC Arabic, the largest of the BBC’s non-English language news services, said the term “terrorist” was too “loaded” to describe the actions of the men who killed 12 people in the attack on the French satirical magazine.

Mr Kafala, whose BBC Arabic television, radio and online news services reach a weekly audience of 36 million people, told The Independent: “We try to avoid describing anyone as a terrorist or an act as being terrorist. What we try to do is to say that ‘two men killed 12 people in an attack on the office of a satirical magazine’. That’s enough, we know what that means and what it is.”

Mr Kafala said: “Terrorism is such a loaded word. The UN has been struggling for more than a decade to define the word and they can’t. It is very difficult to. We know what political violence is, we know what murder, bombings and shootings are and we describe them. That’s much more revealing, we believe, than using a word like terrorist which people will see as value-laden.”

“Of all the giveaways in those few lines, the most telling may be the reference to the U.N. as a supposedly neutral authority,” NRO’s  Andrew Stuttaford writes in response.

And I love this line from Kafala:

“The value judgements frequently implicit in the use of the words ‘terrorist’ or ‘terrorist group’ can create inconsistency in their use or, to audiences, raise doubts about our impartiality. It may be better to talk about an apparent act of terror or terrorism than label individuals or a group.”

Raising “doubts about our impartiality?” Wait, when it comes to the writers at Charlie Hebdo — whatever you think of their work — when it comes to choosing sides between journalists and cartoonists, and those want to kill them, you’re going to remain impartial? Gee, I think this is one issue where the media might want to take sides. But then, to borrow from Glenn Reynolds’ recent USA Today column, it isn’t just Islam that’s a tarnished brand in the years after 9/11.

Or as Stuttaford writes, “There’s little that’s more revealingly subjective than the elaborate pretense of objectivity.” (Note to self: file that sentence away for future use.)

So I finally saw American Sniper yesterday.

Short review: You should too. Right now.

Slightly longer review: Based on Chris Kyle’s autobiography and a well-crafted script by actor/writer Jason Hall, this is a surprisingly multifaceted movie that asks the questions that Hollywood rarely explores, and certainly not with this depth: in the 21st century, in an era of an all-volunteer military, what is it that makes a man volunteer? And once he’s done his time “in country,” what is it that makes him return back there again and again? For Kyle, it becomes not letting his fellow soldiers down and, in the story that provides the arc that structures the film’s scenes set in Iraq, killing his Syrian counterpart “Mustafa,” which gives the film the resonance of Ahab versus the whale, or Clint Eastwood’s earlier film about an obsessed man with a rifle, White Hunter, Black Heart.

With the rare exception of Eastwood himself, few who reach the upper echelons of Hollywood have ever served in the military, and, as Bill Clinton would say, most loathe the military and those who serve. Which is why so few films of this nature have been made since the late 1960s, when the young, largely left-wing turks began to succeed the men who originally built Hollywood. Or in the few cases they have, such as Oliver Stone’s Born on the Fourth of July, invariably, after returning home, soldiers are depicted as wild-eyed near-psychopaths, unable to return to their families and civilian life in general. That’s not the story depicted here, which is yet another reason why reactionary Hollywood lefties such as Michael Moore and Seth Rogen are having aneurisms over this film, and reliving the late ’60s and 1970s, when left-wing Hollywood frequently smeared the US military in the worst possible light.

Similarly, given the era in which it was released, American Sniper is serving as much of a litmus test to see where the rest of Hollywood and film critics stand on Iraq and the American military as did Eastwood’s Dirty Harry and the left’s efforts to promote violence for its own sake and weaken law enforcement in the late 1960s and early 1970s. At the Weekly Standard, in a piece titled, “The ‘American Sniper’ Freakout,” Mark Hemingway writes, “Leftists simply can’t digest the fact that their own safety is predicated on the willingness to fight of courageous men they openly disdain.”

Which is yet another reason to go see it.

So beyond all that, as Max Boot asked this past Thursday at Commentary, why all the criticism?

Perhaps because almost all of the Iraqis are depicted as bad guys–or to use the word that Kyle used “savages”–while Kyle and his SEAL teammates are depicted as dedicated professionals who try as hard as possible to avoid killing civilians. Although the movie shows a scene at the beginning of Kyle killing a woman and her child who are carrying a grenade to blow up a Marine column (in reality he only killed the woman–there was no child present), it later shows how relieved he is that a child who picked up a rocket-propelled grenade and aimed it an American Humvee put down the weapon and ran away before Kyle could shoot him. This is, in short, not a movie like  Platoon or Born on the Fourth of July or In the Valley of Elah or MASH that depicts American soldiers in the worst possible light.

But guess what? In my experience having visited Iraq a number of times during the war, Clint Eastwood, the movie’s director, is telling it like it is. Oh sure, large elements of the film are fictionalized (no, Kyle did not have a personal duel with a Syrian sniper called Mustafa), as is the case with pretty much every Hollywood movie. But the movie gets the larger truth right–that, with some lamentable and inevitable exceptions, American soldiers did behave themselves in exemplary fashion in Iraq, certainly compared to their enemies who drove car bombs into crowds of civilians and ruthless tortured to death anyone they suspected of opposing them.

Which reminded me of Tom Wolfe’s response to his critics when asked if his breakthrough first novel Bonfire of the Vanities was racist.  

In February of 1989, Wolfe was interviewed by Time magazine about Bonfire. (Coincidentally or not, the interview occurred right around the time that producer Peter Guber was asking Tom Hanks if he’d like to star in the movie version of the book for Warner Brothers, owned by the same conglomerate that owned Time.)  One of the interviewer’s questions was, “Bonfire has received great critical acclaim, but critics have also called it cynical, racist, elitist,” to which Wolfe replied:

That’s nonsense. I throw the challenge to them: if you think it is false, go out and do what I did. Go beyond the cocoon of your apartment and [get in a] taxicab and take a look. Take notes. Then let’s compare notes. I’ll bet your picture of New York is not very different from mine.

What they are really saying is that I violated a certain etiquette in literary circles that says you shouldn’t be altogether frank about these matters of ethnic and racial hostility. But if you raise the issue, a certain formula is to be followed: you must introduce a character, preferably from the streets, who is enlightened and shows everyone the error of his ways, so that by the time the story is over, everyone’s heading off wiser. There has to be a moral resolution. Unfortunately, life isn’t like that. I felt that if you are going to try to write a novel about New York, you cannot play falsely with the issue of ethnic and racial hostility. You can’t invent implausible morality tales and make it all go away in some fictitious fashion.

Hollywood war movies often have a similar formula: Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket features non-stop crudely misogynistic jokes from the film’s ultra-macho Marines and a scene in which Lee Ermey’s martinet drill instructor mocks Christmas by referencing a religious service that day for the recruits from “Chaplin Charlie and his magic show.” During the film’s climax, the first time in which the audience gets a clear look at a live North Vietnamese soldier, it turns out that (surprise) she’s a young female North Vietnamese sniper who prays after being badly wounded by Matthew Modine’s formerly sardonic above-it-all soldier-journalist.

In contrast, as Max Boot wrote at Commentary, there are no redeeming Iraqi characters shown in the film, with the possible exception of a handful of Muslim interpreters working with the troops. The civilians are duplicitous, ready to sell out the Americans at a moment’s notice, terrified of the local neighborhood Al-Qeada enforcers, one who uses an unspeakable method to ensure loyalty and the omertà from the hapless local civilians.

When we’re first introduced to Mustafa, Kyle’s Syrian counterpart, he’s lying prone, lining up a shot. As with many real-life Islamic terrorists, he’s perfectly happy wearing western-made 21st century consumer goods and their logos, even as he’s bent on destroying the culture that makes them possible. The camera pans from his feet to his head, looking down the scope of his rifle, lining up his next potential kill. In a nice directorial touch from Eastwood, the camera glides by Mustafa’s Nike sneakers.

And of course, Hollywood has its own omertà. As Daniel Greenfield writes on “The Hollywood Jihad Against American Sniper,” at his Sultan Knish blog, “The Iraq War already had an official narrative in Hollywood. It was bad and wrong:”

Its veterans were crippled, dysfunctional and dangerous. Before American Sniper, Warner Brothers had gone with anti-war flicks like Body of Lies and In the Valley of Elah. It had lost a fortune on Body of Lies; but losing money had never stopped Hollywood from making anti-war movies that no one wanted to watch.

Even the Hurt Locker had opened with a quote from leftist terrorist supporter Chris Hedges.

An Iraq War movie was supposed to be an anti-war movie. There was no other way to tell the story. Spielberg’s own interest in American Sniper was focused on “humanizing” the other side. When he left and Clint Eastwood, coming off a series of failed films, took the helm, it was assumed that American Sniper would briefly show up in theaters and then go off to die quietly in what was left of the DVD aisle.

And then American Sniper broke box office records that had been set by blockbusters like Avatar, Passion and Hangover Part II by refusing to demonize American soldiers or to spin conspiracy tales about the war. Instead of pandering to coastal progressives, it aimed at the patriotic heartland.

In a sentence you no longer expected to hear from a Hollywood exec, the Warner Brothers distribution chief said, “This is about patriotism and all the things people say the country is lacking these days.”

Though as Sonny Bunch added at the Washington Free Beacon, “Of all the arguments that have taken place about American Sniper, the supposition that it is some sort of rah-rah-war-is-fun-the-GOP-is-great flick is the oddest.” If it wasn’t for Israel, I’d be far more inclined to sign onboard with Rand Paul’s so-called “To Hell With Them” doctrine when it comes to the Middle East, given what Glenn Reynolds and Breitbart London’s Milo Yiannopoulos call Islam’s tarnished brand, which American Sniper does little to polish, much to the Hollywood street’s seething rage and anger.

But I think I understand a bit better why men volunteer to fight for America after seeing American Sniper.

Orwell apparently never said “We sleep safely in our beds because rough men with guns stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would harm us.” But given his excoriating take on pacifism during World War II, he’d very likely agree with that statement, which, in retrospect, makes a nice summation of one of the many themes that American Sniper ‘s well-crafted script explores. It’s a topic that hasn’t been properly broached by Hollywood in a very long time.

And given how much the left hates this movie, and the uniquely American culture whose story is finally told in an approving fashion by a master director, it may be quite some time before effete Hollywood deigns to get its hands dirty with such a topic on the big screen again.

All the more reason to see this film while it’s still in the movie theater.

Update:

After 40 years of Hollywood counterpropaganda telling us war is necessarily corrupting and malign, its ablest practitioners thugs, loons or victims, “American Sniper” nobly presents the case for the other side…Mapping the interior landscape of a damaged soul is something books do better than movies, but in Cooper’s recoils from sudden noises, in his slumping at a hometown bar when his wife doesn’t even know he’s back in the country and in his staring at the floor when thanked for his prowess, we learn much about the price warriors pay. Cowboys, adventurers, joyriders — these are exactly what our best fighting men are not. They suffer merely to be alive, when so many brothers lie in boxes draped with flags. “American Sniper” does honor to them.

“‘American Sniper’ is the year’s most extraordinary film,” Kyle Smith, the New York Post.

And from John Nolte at Big Hollywood, “Media Hoax Claims ‘American Sniper’ Inspired Anti-Muslim Threats.” But hey, doesn’t everything?

The Theory of Moral Relativity Defined

January 24th, 2015 - 12:15 pm

Shot:

Chaser:


Shot:

Chaser:

Hangover:


Paul Johnson, call your office.
Update: “You know, Robert Conquest once wrote, ‘The behavior of any bureaucratic organization can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a secret cabal of its enemies,’ but that statement is striking a little too close to home lately.”

Heh. At Patheos, Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry notes that “The chair of Germany’s Martin Heidegger Society resigned in genuine horror after some of Heidegger’s private papers were released and showed that, surprise, surprise, he was an anti-semite.”

Go figure. Or as the lunatic stage director hired by Gene Wilder and Zero Mostel’s characters in Mel Brooks’ The Producers says after perusing the script for Springtime for Hitler, “Did you know, I never knew that the Third Reich meant Germany. I mean it’s just drenched with historical goodies like that!”

Here’s more from Gobry; read the whole thing:

The immense awkwardness that is Heidegger’s Nazi affiliation is always quite a thing to behold. The simple fact of the matter is that, in terms of influence and also perhaps quality, Heidegger is a giant of 20th century philosophy, and one whose influence was felt primarily on the “Left.” The fact that a man who exercised such a tremendous influence on postmodern and progressive philosophy was also a Hitler supporter obviously raises eyebrows.

Only to those who haven’t been paying attention, or who have deliberately looked away. As I said, read the whole thing. And don’t miss the quote on relativism near the end of Gobry’s article from “Benito.”

Update:Education: 2010: U. Topia: Liberals envision a perfect world, and it looks a lot like campus,” Jonah Goldberg wrote in a 2010 issue of National Review:

There’s a certain kind of elite student who takes himself very, very seriously. Raised on a suite of educational TV shows and books that insist he is the most special person in the world — studies confirm that Generation Y is the most egocentric and self-regarding generation in our history — he is away from home for the first time, enjoying his first experience of freedom from his parents. Those same parents are paying for his education, which he considers his birthright. Shelter is provided for him. Janitors and maids clean up after him. Security guards protect him. Cooks shop for him and prepare his food. The health center provides him medical care and condoms aplenty. Administrators slave away at finding new ways for him to have fun in his free time. He drinks with abandon when he wants to, and the consequences of his bacchanalia are usually somewhere between mild and nonexistent. Sex is as abundant as it is varied. If he does not espouse any noticeably conservative or Christian attitudes, his every utterance in the classroom is celebrated as a “valuable perspective.” All that is demanded of him is that he pursue his interests and, perhaps, “find himself” along the way. His ethical training amounts to a prohibition on bruising the overripe self-esteem of another person, particularly a person in good standing with the Coalition of the Oppressed (blacks, Latinos, Muslims, women, gays, lesbians, transsexuals, et al.). Such offenses are dubbed hate crimes and are punished in a style perfected in Lenin’s utopia: through the politicized psychiatry known as “sensitivity training.”

Heidegger would approve, of course. But then, he was the modern campus’s inspiration.

In 2012, NBC became notorious — at least on the right — for deceptively editing George Zimmerman’s 9/11 call to make him — before he was known to be of Hispanic decent — appear to be an anti-black racist.

But any hack leftist can do ransom note editing to smear his opponents through subtraction. (Jon Stewart in a rare left-on-left critique would dub NBC “The Splice Channel” when it was caught.) It takes a unique skill to make your opponents appear racist by adding words to their statements. Or as Ann Coulter writes, “That MSNBC routinely, almost compulsively, mischaracterizes what conservatives say is nothing new. It’s what makes the network so adorable. But in a recent trend, anchor Rachel Maddow has been upping the ante, altering quotes we just heard her play on tape:”

On Monday night, for example, Rachel ran a news clip from President Reagan’s 1983 Martin Luther King Day signing ceremony:

“Chris Wallace, NBC Reporter (by miraculous coincidence, currently a Fox News anchor): ‘There was an air of celebration in the Rose Garden and an underlying tension. White House officials wrestled for days how to usher in a holiday the president opposed. They finally decided to embrace it. … Maybe that’s what today was about, that blacks have the power to make politicians do things.’”

End tape, cut to Rachel, taking notes, muttering with disgust: “The blacks now have the power …”

Except Wallace didn’t say “the blacks.” Refer to the tape. By adding the simple article “the,” Rachel turned Chris Wallace from a garden-variety 1980s news reporter into Archie Bunker. It takes a special kind of zealotry to play a tape of someone and then immediately lie about what viewers just heard him say.

Rachel’s rewrite of Wallace (again, a Fox News host) was astonishingly similar to her misquote of Republican Senate candidate — now senator — Joni Ernst just before the November elections. Maddow inserted the word “the” into Ernst’s statement, entirely changing her meaning.

Ernst had said — as anyone could hear from the tape helpfully played by Rachel: “I do believe in the right to carry, and I believe in the right to defend myself and my family — whether it’s from an intruder, or whether it’s from a government, should they decide that my rights are no longer important.”

The very next line in the transcript has Rachel sneering — as if repeating Ernst’s line: “I believe in my right to defend myself from the government with my beautiful little Smith & Wesson, 9 millimeter.” She then riffed on her own rewrite of Ernst’s statement, warning that a Senate candidate “is threatening to turn to armed violence against the government if she doesn’t get what she wants …”

Obviously, there’s a pretty big difference between a Second Amendment right to defend yourself from “a government” and “the government.” One is theoretical — referring to some future tyrannical government or even a foreign government. “The government” is referring to a specific set of government officials currently constituting our government.

Or as anyone at MSNBC could tell you, it means: “THERE’S A BLACK MAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE!”

Don’t ever change Comcast. Don’t ever change.

(Via Five Feet of Fury.)

Talk About Failing Your Life’s Goal

January 22nd, 2015 - 4:12 pm

“King Abdullah, who sought to modernize Saudi Arabia, [Dead] at 90,” AP reports, and yes, there’s a missing word in their Drudge-linked headline, which will likely be replaced once it’s caught by AP’s proverbial layers and layers of fact checkers and editors.

As for Abdullah, AP hagiographically reports:

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, the powerful U.S. ally who joined Washington’s fight against al-Qaida and sought to modernize the ultraconservative Muslim kingdom with incremental but significant reforms, including nudging open greater opportunities for women, has died, according to Saudi state TV. He was 90.

So how exactly are those reforms coming along in Saudi Arabia? Not well, to say the least, based on headlines such as this and this. Not to mention reports that the Saudi’s wished to umm, modernize the New York skyline in quite a dramatic fashion.

Saudi Arabia isn’t ISIS — but deep down inside, it’s not all that far removed from ISIS’ vision of the Middle East, either.

As for reform, as my colleague Michael Ledeen would say, “Faster, Please.” Much faster than Abdullah’s glacial (read: non-existent) timetable.

Question Asked and Answered

January 22nd, 2015 - 4:00 pm

“Why Does Hollywood Ignore the ‘American Sniper’ Audience?,” Larry O’Connor asks at the Washington Free Beacon:

Hollywood ignores the middle of our country. So much audience out there just WAITING to give their money to these arrogant studios. If only they had the wisdom to hire more writers, producers, and directors who spoke to this audience. It makes you wonder … why don’t they?

We keep hearing that all Hollywood cares about is money … well, if that’s the case, then why don’t they capture the money from this audience by creating more content that appeals to them?

Ask most who’ve worked in the industry who hold a right-of-center political perspective and they’ll tell you that these subjects are so outside the world view of most studio executives (and their gatekeepers) that the content rarely even makes it to their desks for evaluation.

It’s hardly breaking news to say the entertainment industry’s values and priorities are antithetical to the rest of America. Just look at the dismal performance of HBO’s Girls, a series celebrated and rewarded within the industry but virtually ignored outside of New York and LA.

As the late Andrew Breitbart told me once during an interview, David Geffen is under no obligation to make a movie that’s antithetical to his worldview.

No matter how much it might clean up at the box office.

As I noted in late August 2010, a year in which the media increasingly knew Congress was about to change hands, and in response threw a temper tantrum (as Peter Jennings would say) shouting the most hateful incantations the Tea Party specifically and Americans in general, our news media is basically “closed circuit TV for the ruling class” on both coasts. So is most of the entertainment that Hollywood produces, with the exception of breakthroughs such Mel Gibson’s The Passion and Clint’s American Sniper, and other than the summer sci-fi and superhero movies. (And even those pulp-inspired genres have increasingly begun to reflect the left’s obsessions.) That’s also true of much of cable TV’s entertainment product: In-between exploring the personal psychodramas and sophomoric power games that drive many TV producers, Brett Martin’s highly readable book Difficult Men is largely about how networks such as HBO crafted a viable entertainment model similarly designed to appeal almost entirely to a tiny niche of blue state coastal elites and their wannabe brethren.

As for the movie industry, O’Connor asks, “The question is, will this practice change after the success of American Sniper?”

I wouldn’t count on it for two reasons: the next pro-military film won’t be made by someone who has a lifetime of directing chops like Clint, just as the few earnestly religious films made in the immediate wake of The Passion didn’t have the same skill, and er, passion that Mel Gibson brought to the table, before his self-inflicted career-killing implosion.  And second, both genres allow for plenty of subversion by Hollywood. The immediate post-9/11 era saw the release of Ridley Scott’s Black Hawk Down and Gibson’s We Were Soldiers, both likely films that were green-lit before 9/11 occurred. These were followed by the seemingly endless craptacular stillborn anti-Iraq, anti-Bush movies that Hollywood became infamous for during the years of 2004 through 2008.

And Darren Aronofsky’s Noah and Ridley Scott’s Exodus are both examples of what modern Hollywood can do to subvert the genre of religious films. Noah was dubbed by its director “the least biblical film ever made,” which is all middle America needs to hear to know it should stay home. Similarly, regarding Scott’s film, as John Podhoretz memorably began his review last month at the Weekly Standard, “Raise your hand if you want to see Moses portrayed as an insurgent lunatic terrorist with a bad conscience, the pharaoh who sought the murder of all first-born Hebrew slaves as a nice and reasonable fellow, and God as a foul-tempered 11-year-old boy with an English accent.”

Enjoy the one-off success of American Sniper. I hope I’m proven wrong, but leftwing Hollywood’s not about learn from its lessons anytime soon.

“New York Magazine Mainstreams Incest,” Rush Limbaugh noted yesterday:

Time to hide the women and children, ladies and gentlemen, and maybe grab a barf bag.  New York Magazine.  Let me give you a countdown here.  Because, as I say, we don’t want to shock anybody.  Not our purpose.  Nor is it our purpose to offend.  That just happens.  I’m gonna count down from five to one, and if you’re still here, you’re on your own and you can’t complain. Complaints will fall on deaf ears because you’ve been given ample time to turn down the sound.  Five, four, three, two, one.

New York Magazine had the story.  They recently interviewed a couple who decided to remain anonymous for reasons that will become obvious.  It’s an 18-year-old woman and an older man.  They live in upstate New York.  They are planning on getting married soon. Eighteen-year-old woman which, ah, she’s of age, and the older man living in upstate New York, plan to get married.  Here’s the thing.  The older man is her father.  The older man is her biological father.

In an article titled, ” What It’s Like to Date Your Dad,” New York Magazine describes how father and daughter were at one time estranged and then, magically, they were reunited after 12 years and the magazine says sparks flew between the teenaged daughter and her biological father.  They were attracted to each other, says the magazine.  The woman said that within days of rediscovering each other, within days of the woman rediscovering her father, for whom sparks were flying, she lost her virginity.

As Jonathan Last adds, say, isn’t this the same New York magazine that back in November profiled “the guy who loves horses? (Not in the Ann Romney way.)”

“But don’t worry–changing one foundational part of the culture couldn’t possibly alter others,” Jonathan sardonically quips, in a post headlined “The Vindication of Rick Santorum (cont.).”  Follow the link at the end of his post for a hilariously related addendum. (And as Last adds, stick with it to the end, it’s worth it.)

How much of this is New York magazine approving the subjects they cover, and how much is it a case of a magazine hoping to shock the public into reading and linking (see also: TV networks’ strategies to shock viewers into watching, even as such repeated tactics eventually result in apathy and boredom?)

In any case, in 1970, a much different and still relatively sane New York magazine published Tom Wolfe’s “Radical Chic,” in which Wolfe caught up close and personal the insanity of the left, attending Leonard Bernstein’s cocktail fundraiser party for the Black Panthers, who would have loved nothing more than to firebomb Bernstein’s swank Park Avenue duplex, and all of his fellow One Percenters (as the kids say these days) attending the fundraiser. In 1976, New York published Wolfe’s “Me Decade,” which explored where America’s growing Weimar-esque sense of narcissism and nihilism would eventually lead.

Who knew the answer was full-on Caligula? (Well, the person who’s referenced in Last’s headline might have. Which is why it was necessary for the left to destroy him.)

And speaking of life in the Caligula era, “In Elle, Lena Dunham Slams Screaming ‘Static’ of Pro-Life Protesters, Their Lack of…’Decency.’”

Proportion, Lena, proportion! Think of your critics as merely just a few inconvenient pebbles blocking your path to superstardom.  (And then consult with your crisis management firm for further instructions.)

The Abolition of Private Life

January 22nd, 2015 - 12:01 pm

As Kevin D. Williamson writes on this year’s current crop of nihilistic protestors, “They’re coming for your Denver omelet.” And your highway, and your business:

Sensible people would tell these pathetic bullies to mind their own business, but minding your business — and Google’s business — is literally Jesse Jackson’s business. (Literally, Mr. Vice President.) It’s what he does and how he eats. And it’s the Left’s best growth industry: Build nothing, create nothing, nurture nothing, and then shut down I-93 until you get your way, whether that means money in pocket, which is what the Castro protesters and Jesse Jackson are after, or whether that simply means luxuriating in the addictive pleasure of moral preening, which is what idiot white college kids in New York are after. The latter requires an audience, thus the Occupy a Denver Omelet movement.

What’s hilarious is that the protesters themselves are getting a lesson in why private life matters. When an enterprising WBZ-TV reporter, Ken MacLeod, started tracking down the Boston protesters who shut down the freeway and found them at their homes — often their parents’ homes, mansions in Brookline — he was accused of “harassment,” told “I need you to leave our property immediately,” etc. Which is to say, the protesters, having inserted themselves into public affairs, wished to enjoy the courtesy that they refused to extend to those who hadn’t inserted themselves into public affairs. When it comes to dopey Trustafarians, there’s more that’s tangled than their hair.

Speaking of protests and food, as Ace’s co-blogger Drew McCoy tweets, “awful but necessary,” linking to this Denver Eater (a spinoff publication of far left Vox.com, alas) article titled “Cake Shop Faces Legal Action For Refusing to Make Anti LGBT Cake:”

The man came in and began ordering a cake. After he found an image of a Bible-shaped cake to his liking, he showed the bakery employees the message he wanted displayed on the cake, the gist of which is hateful toward the gay community. Uncomfortable with the incident, owner Marjorie Silva offered to make the Bible-shaped cake and sell to the customer a decorating bag so he can complete whatever message he wanted himself. He immediately threatened legal action and left. He returned twice and had to be “excused” by the owner’s brother the last time. The man filed a discrimination complaint Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA).

In a nation of over 300 million people that doesn’t lack for bakeries, in a simpler time, one would simply shop for the baker who would be happy to print whatever message the customer wants. Who wants to buy a custom-made product obviously made under duress? Especially food — who’d want to risk eating a cake made in protest after it was complete? But if one group is legally forced to create products against their wishes, it’s understandable that they’d want to use the left’s Saul Alinsky-inspired tactics for a little pushback. After all, as Ol’ Saul said nearly half a century ago, “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” Evidently he didn’t realize how quickly the far left would emerge as the default bourgeois class in many parts of America, and conversely, religious conservatives the radical fringe position, at least as far as the law is concerned. Speaking of which, there are still more cakes waiting to be baked in the bakery wars:

 

Just print up a Charlie Hebdo cover, ask for it on the cake, and tell ‘em your having a “Stand With Charlie” party. Though you might want to rent a P.O. box first so as not to give out your home address…

Which brings us back to the conclusion of Kevin D. Williamson’s article:

During the Civil Rights Movement — the real one, not the ersatz one led today by Jesse Jackson et al. — politics did genuinely intersect with brunch. On one side of the issue were people who argued that the social situation of African Americans at the time was so dire and so oppressive that invasive federal action was necessary. On the other side were well-intentioned conservatives such as Barry Goldwater and any number of writers for this magazine, who argued that if the reach of Washington were extended into every mom-and-pop diner in the country, it would constitute a step toward the abolition of private life, that the natural and inevitable extension of the principle at work would ensure that rather than being treated as private property, businesses reclassified as “public accommodations” would be treated more like public property, that the greasy snout of politics eventually would stick itself into every last precinct of what had been considered the sphere of privacy beyond the public sector.

As it turns out, both sides were right.

Or to put it another way, as one approaches peak socialism, increasingly, “The only person who is still a private individual..is somebody who is asleep,” to coin a phrase.

Well yes — I know a guy who wrote a book about that stuff in 2008. As Jonah Goldberg later wrote, it was Stalin who initially launched the smear:

Joseph Stalin championed the idea that all of his political opponents should be dubbed fascists, including many of his fellow Bolsheviks, such as Leon Trotsky (whom Stalin had assassinated), and much of the Red Army’s officer corps (whom he had executed), and countless Ukrainians (whom he had liquidated). Stalin insisted that even mentioning the man-made – i.e., Stalin-made — Ukranian famine was evidence you were an agent of the Nazis.

Under Stalin’s “theory of social fascism,” any socialist, social-democratic, or progressive group or party not loyal to him had to be called fascist. Hence, for a while Moscow insisted that FDR and even Norman Thomas (head of the Socialist Party of America) were fascists.

Ultimately, Communist propagandists and their allied intellectuals would reflexively blame fascism for everything, regardless of the facts. That’s what prompted George Orwell to remark that “the word Fascism has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable.’”

And FDR and Truman were happy to play along. In 1942, at the height of the Second World War, Roosevelt “displayed a Nazi Iron Cross and said it should be presented to a columnist of the New York Daily News who was one of the president’s most bitter critics,” as Commentary noted in a 2010 review of an FDR biography. In his 1944 State of the Union speech, Roosevelt similarly thundered:

One of the great American industrialists of our day—a man who has rendered yeoman service to his country in this crisis-recently emphasized the grave dangers of “rightist reaction” in this Nation. All clear-thinking businessmen share his concern. Indeed, if such reaction should develop—if history were to repeat itself and we were to return to the so-called “normalcy” of the 1920′s—then it is certain that even though we shall have conquered our enemies on the battlefields abroad, we shall have yielded to the spirit of Fascism here at home.

As Jonah quipped in 2012 in response to the above quote, “Ah yes, if we go back to the 1920s, an era of rampant prosperity and expanding liberty we will have surrendered to Fascism. That is grotesque.”

Equally grotesque were Truman’s tactics in a similar vein. As the New York Times’ headline screamed, “President Likens Dewey to Hitler as Fascists’ Tool,” on October 26 1948, near the conclusion of the presidential election year. CBS’s Walter Cronkite and Daniel Schorr would go on to use similar tactics to destroy the libertarian-themed presidential bid of Barry Goldwater in 1964, a particularly disgusting attack by two “objective” journalists acting as blocking backs for LBJ, considering that Goldwater was half-Jewish.

In short, it’s shameful, reactionary stuff, whose shelf-life is now three-quarters of a century old. Fortunately, there’s at least a little pushback these days on such tactics.

Incidentally, if you’re not a subscriber to PJTV, you’re missing the regular conversations between Andrew Klavan and Bill Whittle on conservative and libertarian philosophy, the left’s undermining tactics and other topics, some of the most engaging material our sister video network is producing.

cnn_unknown_anchor_big_12-18-14-1

CNN morphed into the Gong Show so slowly…

“CNN to Produce Political Game Show,” according to TV Newser. Because, what else would you expect from the flailing low-rated, desperate for attention network?

Insiders tell us the show will be hosted by Anderson Cooper and will air on Presidents’ Day, Feb. 16. If it’s successful, further episodes would go into production.

We hear the program will be a quiz style game show, focused on presidential politics.

As the Sony email hacking story unfolded last month, one of the more interesting TV news stories to emerge was that CNN Worldwide chief Jeff Zucker had asked a Sony TV executive if the company would consider producing “Political Jeopardy!” for CNN.

That was a nonstarter. But now it appears Zucker is going his own way on a quiz show.

Insert obvious Wolf Blitzer bombing on Jeopardy reference here. And as John Nolte adds at Big Journalism:

With its ratings at an all-time low and its journalistic ethics almost constantly under fire…With its endless race hoaxes, scandals, and talks of airplanes disappearing into black holes, 2014 might have been the worst year for CNN of any news outlet in recent memory. We’re only 21 days into the new year, but 2015 is already shaping up to be worse.

Bonus Question: For the Final Jeopardy round, I’ll take “What are European Muslim No-Go Zones for $10,000?”, Alex.

(H/T: Kathy Shaidle.)

Update: Currently trending on Twitter, is the #CNNgameshowpitches hashtag. Play along at home!

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, Man of a 1000 Faces

January 21st, 2015 - 1:41 pm

“More than ever, I am convinced MSNBC is one giant sketch comedy designed to showcase the many talents of Chris Hayes,” Twitter user “Nino” wrote yesterday, along with a collage of photos combining Hayes with fellow MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow and their fellow smart glasses-wearing Mark Potok, spokesman for the far left Southern “Poverty” Law Center, and Arsalan Iftikhar of TheMuslimGuy.com, banned from MSNBC after his racist remarks earlier this week that Louisiana’s Bobby Jindal is “trying to scrub some of the brown off his skin.”

As I noted yesterday, Hayes also bears a striking resemblance to hapless Obama foreign policy flack Marie Harf, and Ethan Krupp, the infamous foul-mouthed footie-pajama-wearing Obamacare mascot.

Are we sure Hayes wasn’t also in the audience for his boss’s State of the Union address last night? As Brent Scher of the Washington Free Beacon noted, “Woman Showcased by Obama in SOTU is a Former Democratic Campaign Staffer:”

Rebekah Erler has been presented by the White House as a woman who was discovered by the president after she wrote to him last March about her economic hardships. She was showcased in the speech as proof that middle class Americans are coming forward to say that Obama’s policies are working.

Unmentioned in the White House bio of Erler is that she is a former Democratic campaign operative, working as a field organizer for Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.).

This also wasn’t the first time the White House used the former Democratic campaign staffer as a political prop. Obama spent a “day in the life” of Erler in June so that he could have “an opportunity to communicate directly with the people he’s working for every day.”

“They keep it in the family, don’t they?” Ace adds:

Check the Free [Beacon] for more; they have his quotes narrating the incredible success story of Rebecca “Please Use Me As A Prop” Erler. Obama forgot to mention her long years suckling at the teat of the Democrat-Government Industrial Complex.

But are we sure that’s Erler? Comparing the photo of her that accompanied Ace’s post with Hayes and his other disguises as spotted by Nino yesterday, the resemblance is quite remarkable:

chris_hayes_master_disguise_artist_1-21-15-2

35 years ago, NBC’s Saturday Night Live featured Chevy Chase morphing before our eyes as he presented the vocal stylings of Peter Lemon Moodring. But today, there’s a far more versatile quick-change artist at work at NBC. Who will he morph into next?!

CNN, Where Time Stands Still

January 21st, 2015 - 12:29 pm

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

When Fox News started out, it got a generally skeptical and unfriendly reception from the journalistic establishment. Even reporters, who generally view any news media organization as a good thing (not to mention a potential source of employment), were largely disapproving. But no one greeted Fox News with more pure vitriol than CNN founder Ted Turner.

“I look forward to crushing Rupert Murdoch like a bug,” Turner told the press. He compared Murdoch to Hitler, which would make Roger Ailes a reincarnation of Goebbels, and followed up with an explanation, quoted by the Los Angeles Times [in October of 1996]: “The late Führer, the first thing he did, like all dictators, was take over the press and use it to further his agenda. Basically, that is what Rupert Murdoch does with his media.  .  .  .” The Nazi analogy was too much for the Anti-Defamation League, which rebuked Turner for trivializing the Holocaust. Turner apologized, but that didn’t prevent him from likening Murdoch to “the late Führer” a year later; or, in 2005, comparing the success of Fox News to the rise of Hitler.

— From Roger Ailes: Off Camera, by Zev Chafets.

Flash-forward to this week: “CNN’s Zakaria Takes Shot at Murdoch, ‘Quasi-Fascist’ Fox Hosts,” Mediaite’s Josh Feldman reports.

Both of which seem like pretty odd complaints, both from Turner, who after leaving the network he founded has gone on to praise North Korea, and from Zakaria, who in-between dodging plagiarism allegations, has complained on CNN that the American people have too much freedom and too little regulation.

Related: “Washington Post Catches CNN Red-Handed Reporting On Muslim ‘No-Go Zones.’”

And from Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit, “Sure, Take Out Your Frustrations And Anxiety On Fox, They Won’t Behead You: Paris mayor threatens to sue Fox for insulting Paris and injuring its honor (with ‘no-go zones’).”

It was pretty much a given that it wouldn’t be very long at all before the French would revert to form and quickly begin to lose the goodwill of the American people after the horror of the Islamofascist attack on Charlie Hebdo. Or as Glenn adds, “Funny, I could have sworn that there were a lot of people marching for free speech in Paris recently.”

We’re quickly discovering how many of them were simply engaging in pantomime.

Update: “Je Suis Fox News?” asks Ricochet’s John Gabriel:

Fox News’ jealous critics and the Parisian mayor should re-read their week-old paroxysms of support for an unbridled press. Because free speech doesn’t work if you’re only allowed to offend religious figures but not secular ones.

Heh, indeed.™

When Obama’s Lost NBC…

January 21st, 2015 - 11:54 am

And I don’t mean just MSNBC, the network’s crazy drooling id, but the actual top-level network where millions of elderly low-information voters still get their news at 6:30 at night. Which is where they heard the above exchange between newsreader Brian Williams and man in the field Richard Engel. As Noah Rothman quips at Hot Air, “The neoconservatives at NBC News predictably savage Obama’s approach to foreign policy… wait…” Heh:

Among those who took a baseball bat to Obama’s remarks were the arch-conservative Dick Cheney fans at NBC News. In the immediate wake of Obama’s State of the Union address, anchor Brian Williams and Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Richard Engel just dumped on the president’s borderline delusional assessment of his own efficacy on the global stage. (h/t Washington Free Beacon for pulling this clip).

“Richard, we woke up here in the States this morning – new ISIS video. Two Japanese hostages,” Brian Williams began. “They’re asking for $200 million, or they’re going to assassinate both of them. Video of a Russian intelligence ship cruising into the harbor in Havana; it might as well have been 1962. And then this on-again, off-again possible coup in Yemen, a U.S. ally.”

While we we’re taking stock of the foreign policy disasters that were revealed only yesterday, Williams forgot to mention renewed combat operations in Eastern Europe between Russian and Ukrainian forces.

Richard Engel delivered the coup de grâce: “It sounds like the president was outlining a world that he wishes we were all living in, but which is very different than the world you just described with terror raids taking place across Europe, ISIS very much on the move.”

Wait, this Richard Engel, who a decade ago said “I think war should be illegal,” to Howard Kurtz, then still with the Washington Post, adding, “I’m basically a pacifist.”

Oh, and speaking of MSNBC and elderly low-information voters, as Ed Morrissey adds that it’s fair to say that “Chris Matthews and Andrea Mitchell didn’t feel thrills running up their respective legs. In fact, both of them wondered what the color of the sky in Obama’s world might be:”

MATTHEWS: Because I kept thinking tonight that there’s a real world out there he didn’t really talk about, and had perhaps overambitious notions about where we stood in the war against ISIL, the Islamic State. He doesn’t want to call it the Islamic State, but that’s what they call themselves. Those two Japanese people with no guilt on their shoulders, just staring there out of the desert who are going to be apparently decapitated — that reality, what’s going on in Nigeria is reality. How close was the President to reality overall, globally, tonight?

MITCHELL: I think that on foreign policy, his projection of success against terrorism and against ISIS, in particular, as I said, is not close to reality. They have not come up with a strategy, and they’ve built a global coalition, but again, he’s talked about Ukraine, he’s talked about Putin being isolated. Yes, Putin is isolated economically and the falling oil prices have hammered his economy. But at the same time, there’s renewed fighting in Donetsk, and we haven’t figured out Ukraine, we haven’t figured out how the NATO alliance can push back. Sanctions have not really worked, and Ukraine is going to need more weaponry, and they have not reached that point. So you’re right, Chris, it doesn’t match the reality.

As Ed Morrissey adds, “It’s as though Obama was asleep between the 2014 SOTU and last night. That would explain a lot about last year, actually …”

I’d say that when it’s so bad that even NBC and MSNBC both notice, it might be a wake-up call for the White House — but perhaps not this White House, where the president obviously needs to be well-rested for his weekend leisure-time activities and late night bull sessions with actors and rock stars.

Sweet dreams for everyone else though. Oh and sug, don’t forget to say your prayers.

Two Posts in One!

January 20th, 2015 - 3:39 pm

“The Washington Post Still Has No Idea If Dave Weigel Is Conservative,” Betsy Rothstein writes at the Daily Caller, linking to this quote from the Post’s Terrence McCoy on “How Clint Eastwood’s ‘American Sniper’ stoked the American culture wars:”

The exchanges are just the latest eruption in a long culture war, analysts said, with lines clearly demarcated. “As screenings have sold out, conservative media has manned barricades against liberals who have attacked the movie or the idea of lionizing Kyle,” conservative David Weigel wrote for Bloomberg. He noted that much of the controversy involves the extended battle over guns — and gun control — and pits pro-Iraq war conservatives against anti-war liberals.

Conservative? After voting for Ralph Nader in 2000, John Kerry in 2004 and Barack Obama in 2008, Weigel was hired by the Post in mid-2010 to cover conservatism allegedly from the inside, but not surprisingly given his background, Weigel famously imploded a short while later. When archives from the “Journolist” listserv of 400 or so leftwing journalists, who described themselves in 2008 as the “non-official campaign” to elect Obama began circulating publicly, Weigel was caught using the following language, as the Daily Caller noted in June of 2010:

Weigel was hired this spring by the Post to cover the conservative movement. Almost from the beginning there have been complaints that his coverage betrays a personal animus toward conservatives.  E-mails obtained by the Daily Caller suggest those complaints have merit.

“Honestly, it’s been tough to find fresh angles sometimes–how many times can I report that these [tea party] activists are joyfully signing up with the agenda of discredited right-winger X and discredited right-wing group Y?” Weigel lamented in one February email.

In other posts, Weigel describes conservatives as using the media to “violently, angrily divide America.” According to Weigel, their motives include “racism” and protecting “white privilege,” and for some of the top conservatives in D.C., a nihilistic thirst for power.

“There’s also the fact that neither the pundits, nor possibly the Republicans, will be punished for their crazy outbursts of racism. Newt Gingrich is an amoral blowhard who resigned in disgrace, and Pat Buchanan is an anti-Semite who was drummed out of the movement by William F. Buckley. Both are now polluting my inbox and TV with their bellowing and minority-bashing. They’re never going to go away or be deprived of their soapboxes,” Weigel wrote.

Of Matt Drudge, Weigel remarked,  “It’s really a disgrace that an amoral shut-in like Drudge maintains the influence he does on the news cycle while gay-baiting, lying, and flubbing facts to this degree.”

In March, Weigel wrote that the problem with the mainstream media is “this need to give equal/extra time to ‘real American’ views, no matter how fucking moronic, which just so happen to be the views of the conglomerates that run the media and/or buy up ads.”

When Obama’s “green jobs czar” Van Jones resigned after it was revealed he signed a 9/11 “truther” petition, alleging the government may have conspired to allow terrorists to kill 3,000 civilians, Weigel highlighted the alleged racism of Glenn Beck – Jones’s top critic.

This forced Young Ezra Klein, founder of the “Journolist’ to offer a mea culpa of sorts a few days later titled “On Journolist, and Dave Weigel:”

At the beginning, I set two rules for the membership. The first was the easy one: No one who worked for the government in any capacity could join [so much for that idea -- Ed]. The second was the hard one: The membership would range from nonpartisan to liberal, center to left. I didn’t like that rule, but I thought it necessary: There would be no free conversation in a forum where people had clear incentives to embarrass each other. A bipartisan list would be a more formal debating society. Plus, as Liz Mair notes, there were plenty of conservative list servs, and I knew of military list servs, and health-care policy list servs, and feminist list servs. Most of these projects limited membership to facilitate a particular sort of conversation. It didn’t strike me as a big deal to follow their example.

And as as Moe Lane of Red State added at the time:

Nice of Ezra Klein to shaft his good buddy Dave Weigel on the way out by explicitly admitting that Klein wouldn’t let anybody on the Right onto JournoList in the first place, but that’s the Online Left for you.  You ain’t with them all the way, you ain’t worth nothing to them.

Klein’s response to Weigel’s meltdown appeared in…The Washington Post where he served as a regular columnist until Jeff Bezos purchased the paper in 2013. Terrence McCoy’s bio at the Post today describes him as “a foreign affairs reporter at the Washington Post. He served in the United States Peace Corps in Cambodia and got his masters’ degree at Columbia University.” Despite being a relatively young looking fellow in his bio photo, evidently, learning how to use a search engine wasn’t taught at Columbia during his tenure there. Or how to search a newspaper’s own archives.

Wiegel of course, landed on his feet; the Post was so alarmed by their hiring choice that upon being caught in mid-2010, they simply transferred Weigel a few months later down the hall to Slate, which the paper then-still owned. In 2014 Weigel eventually wound up at Bloomberg News, where today even he’s laughing at the paper’s latest gaffe. As Betsy Rothstein writes, “Weigel ran the excerpt [from McCoy] about himself, adding, ‘smdh,’ as defined by Urban Dictionary as “shaking my damn head.”


Heh. Good to see those layers and layers of fact checkers and editors at the Post still earning their keep. And Michael Crichton’s “Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect” still very much in force there.

Add two more to the list of Hayes’ brilliant disguises:

This side-by-side juxtaposition created by the Rush Limbaugh Show in December of 2013, when Obamacare’s Footie Pajamasboy first debuted helps make the comparison plain:

As Frank Burns famously uttered on M*A*S*H 40 years ago, “Individuality is fine, as long as we all do it together.” Of course, some people rock the smartglasses™ much better than others:

rick_perry_smart_glasses_9-5-14-1

(Photo of Rick Perry by Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com.)