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Ed Driscoll

The Return of the Primitive

Margaret Sanger: The War Years

September 20th, 2014 - 8:15 pm

While Hitler, Tojo, Stalin and Mussolini were inflicting various their various flavors of totalitarian socialist nihilism upon the rest of the world, Margaret Sanger,  pioneering eugenicist, Klan and Nazi aficionado, and founder of Planned Parenthood was doing her bit as well to undermine civilization here in America. Or as blogger “Dalrock” grimly quips, “No hiatus for solipsism during World War II.”

Sanger gave a radio speech in which she described a young mother she had recently met who was jealous and bemoaning the fact that her husband, drafted into American military service, got to experience the “excitement” and exotic lands of World War II (aka, blood-caked and landmine strewn battlefields), while was she stuck home with the baby and the house. I don’t want to block quote Sanger’s speech here, because I don’t want to steal too much of Dalrock’s post without sending you over to read it, but Dalrock does question its timing:

The date of the program was July 19, 1944.  This was just a little over a month after D Day and before the Normandy breakout.  World War II was very much still raging in Europe, and American men were still fighting and dying there.  Yet at this very time we had (if we believe the story), a woman complaining to strangers on a train about the exciting adventures her husband was enjoying in the European theater (most likely as a result of being drafted).  Moreover, this was a story Sanger felt perfectly comfortable sharing on the radio at home to the wives and mothers of US servicemen, as those men continued to fight and die overseas.

Of course, immediately after World War II, Sanger, here being interviewed by England’s Pathé newsreel service under her married name of Margaret Slee, was some piece of work as well:

As I noted in April, when Pathé uploaded this clip as part of a  huge cache of their archives to YouTube, as with her D-Day speech, Sanger’s timing is astonishing. The above clip dates from 1947. Just two years prior, a minor event, the aforementioned World War II had been concluded, which Wikipedia notes killed 60 million people.

And it had been immediately preceded by the Soviet terror famine, the Depression, and World War I.

And Margaret Sanger is calling for “no more babies” for a decade.

To paraphrase Dalrock’s headline, solipsism, nihilism, and Malthusianism never sleep.

As journalist Bill McGowen noted in Gray Lady Down, his excellent history of the Times in the Pinch Sulzberger era, under Sulzberger’s watch, mirroring the worldview of its publisher, his newspaper has descended into intertwining obsessions with the trivialities of pop culture, with political correctness, and the often toxic brew of leftwing identity politics.  Pinch’s own take on his paper was summed up when he was quoted in New York magazine in 1992 as saying that “alienating older white male readers means ‘we’re doing something right.’”

As with Spinal Tap and their increasingly “selective” audience, these days, the Times’ efforts at alienation are expanding in scope; it’s a blue on blue circular firing squad today, as the Huffington Post explores “How The Internet Reacted To The NY Times Calling Shonda Rhimes An ‘Angry Black Woman:’”

Note that the HuffPo flatters its own readers with the assumption in the headline that they should know who Shonda Rhimes is, without mentioning her profession in the headline. In today’s increasingly fractured media culture, that’s a rather unwarranted hypothesis. Then there’s the assumption in the headline that “the Times” itself called Rhimes an “Angry Black Woman,” and not a specific journalist there. But considering that the Times prides itself on its layers and layers of fact checkers and editors, that’s a somewhat more reasonable take:

Allesandra Stanley’s article from Thursday takes a stab at Rhimes’ new series “How To Get Away With Murder,” opening her piece with: “When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called ‘How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman.’” Ouch. Stanley goes on to discuss Rhimes’ supposed “set of heroines who flout ingrained television conventions and preconceived notions about the depiction of diversity” and other black women on TV.

Let’s just say, Rhimes wasn’t too pleased with it and shared some of her thoughts over Twitter:

Click over the inevitable venting of spleens in 140-character bursts from Rhimes (a prominent Democrat operative, like many at the HuffPo and the Times) and her co-workers. As the HuffPo goes on to note:

Willa Paskin over at Slate quickly jumped to defend Rhimes’ many achievements when it comes to television and black female characters. “Rhimes is no more the ‘angry black woman’ than her characters,” Paskin writes, “who are angry the way that a bird is bipedal: It’s not false, but it’s not to the point.” The critic went on break down Rhimes’ female characters and praise how the creator has “re-framed the stereotype of the ‘angry black woman’” by carving out a space for black females on TV.

At Vox, Alex Abad-Santos calls to light that Stanley constantly refers to Rhimes when discussing “HTGAWM” in her essay — Rhimes isn’t even the creator of the new series, she’s one of the executive producers. Abad-Santos writes, “the piece refers to Rhimes 19 times and has only one mention of [Pete] Nowalk,” creator of “HTGAWM.”

The London Daily Mail adds that Stanley is no stranger to controversy — but she and history may not be on the best of terms:

The paper in 2009 had to issue a correction for six different items in a piece Stanley wrote about Walter Cronkite’s career — including the day that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and when Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, according to the Columbia Journalism Review.She also once mistakenly wrote that the Iraq War began in 2002 and that the sitcom ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ — at the time a hugely popular series — was called ‘All About Raymond,’ according to Gawker.

In 2009, former PJM editor Gerard Van der Leun dubbed her “Error slut Alessandra Stanley.” Gerard quoted a CJR writer who noted that Stanley was quite the one-woman correction industry during the naughts:

Stanley has been responsible for nine corrections so far this year. By my count in Nexis, she had fourteen corrections in 2008, twelve in 2007, and fifteen in 2006. Averaging just over a correction a month is not something to be proud of. But that’s still better than before she attracted so much attention. Stanley had twenty-three corrections in 2005, the year everyone noticed her predilection for error, and twenty-six in 2004. Perhaps the decline in corrections between 2005 and 2006 was in part due to the attention focused on her.

No word yet if Stanley knows what a Shylock is. Between Stanley’s latest gaffe, her colleague taking to Twitter earlier this week to ask if anybody was unfamiliar with the S-word, the open warfare between former editor Jill Abramson and the paper after she was fired (also over identity politics) and Maureen Dowd the butt of jokes for her ravenous cannabis and chocolate consumption, and the paper’s general descent into a far left student newspaper, it’s been quite a tumultuous period for the once-elite paper. Gray Lady Down, indeed.

Update (12:14 AM PDT): “Scottish referendum: Scotland votes ‘No’ to independence,” the BBC reports; scroll to bottom of post for update.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. “Obama Personally Tweets Opposition to Scottish Independence,” Jeryl Bier of the Weekly Standard noted yesterday:

Though he didn’t say it in so many words, President Obama came out today personally opposed to Scottish independence, which is set to go to a vote tomorrow. Wednesday afternoon, the president took to Twitter with this message:

The UK is an extraordinary partner for America and a force for good in an unstable world. I hope it remains strong, robust and united. -bo

— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 17, 2014

Tweets sent out on the White House Twitter account that include the president’s initials indicate that the president himself personally posted the message. The White House has previously indicated a preference that Scotland remain a part of the United Kingdom.

Bier goes on to write that White House press secretary Josh Earnest additionally said, “We certainly respect the right of individual Scots to make a decision about the — along these lines.  But as the President himself said, we have an interest in seeing the United Kingdom remain strong, robust, united and an effective partner.”

Huh. Back in March of 2009, after Mr. Obama, then-newly ensconced in the White House, churlishly returned a bust of Winston Churchill to Britain that had sat in President Bush’s Oval Office since shortly after September 11th, blogger and longtime friend of PJM Juliette Akinyi (aka “Baldilocks”) noted, “Many observers seem puzzled.  I’m not and neither is the UK press.  It’s about Kenya”:

If you recall, before Kenya became Kenya (1963) it was a British colony known as British East Africa.  Between 1952 and 1960, there was this little “difference of opinion” between the UK and the natives of British East Africa—primarily from the Kikuyu tribe.  That conflict is known as the Mau Mau Uprising.  There were tens of thousands of African civilians killed and, according to Wiki, seven to ten thousand Africans interned by the British colonial masters.  In Dreams from My Father, President Obama says that his grandfather was tortured by the British during the conflict, though he was not a Kikuyu but a Luo.  Guess which prime minister ordered the Mau Mau insurgency to be put down.

Mystery solved.  It seems that the president is seeking to humiliate the progeny of those who humiliated his ancestors.  Revenge isn’t that complicated a motive.

However, a question remains.  Is this any way for a President of the United States to behave?

Flash-forward to the present day, which sees, as is his wont on virtually every issue, former President Obama reversing course on the issue of England maintaining the empire. Of course, some see a more Machiavellian reasoning to Mr. Obama’s tweet; as Greg Pollowitz of Twitchy writes, “Hey Scotland: vote Yes bc Obama wants you to vote No.”

Others wish the former president would return to his golf game and late night bull sessions with rock stars and film directors:

Heh. And still others looks to the more mysterious to discern their take on how to vote:

loch_ness_monster_scottish_independence_9-18-14

Of course for most Americans, the question of what to think about Scottish independence all boils down to one exceedingly important issue.

Update: Realizing the immense negative power of his influence, Paul Krugman also subtly comes out in favor of Scottish independence:

Sometimes you simply have to consider your initial impulses, and then Costanza them:

Watch this palindromic ad all the way through — it’s only a matter of time before an American political consultant rips it off.

Update (12:14 AM PDT): “Scottish referendum: Scotland votes ‘No’ to independence,” the BBC reports tonight:

With 31 out of the country’s 32 council areas having declared after Thursday’s vote, the ‘No’ side has an unassailable lead of 1,914,187 votes to 1,539,920.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond called for unity and the unionist parties to deliver on more powers.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron said he was delighted the UK would remain together and called for national unity.

Mr Cameron said the three main unionist parties at Westminster would now follow through with their pledge to deliver more powers to the Scottish Parliament.

“We will ensure that those commitments are honoured in full,” he said.

All of the UK press are reporting similar initial results, based on this lineup of tweets from their early editions rounded up by Twitchy.

It’s Real, And It’s Spectacular

September 18th, 2014 - 1:21 am

Upside: Maureen Dowd has written her first column since the Lewinsky era that anyone remembers. Downside: She made the after-effects of eating a candy bar laced with grass sound like something out of a William Burroughs novel. A reminder that “Consume Responsibly” is also excellent advice for those remaining New York Times readers as well.

“Shylock & Wongs*: 3 Incidents of Democrat Bigotry In 3 Weeks — Media Mum,” as spotted by John Nolte at Big Journalism:

Wednesday, no less than Vice President Joe Biden used the widely-known Jewish slur “shylock.”

Just last week, a white male Democrat gubernatorial running against incumbent Republican Susana Martinez claimed the Hispanic Governor “does not have a Latino [sic] heart.

Only a few weeks ago, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid made two racist Asian “jokes” in front of a predominantly Asian crowd.

This isn’t the first time Reid and Biden have been caught expressing their bigoted, backwards views.

In 2010, Harry Reid said “I don’t know how anyone of Hispanic heritage could be a Republican, OK.” In 2008, Reid said that Obama, was “light-skinned” and had “no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one”

In 2006, while campaigning for the presidency, Biden said, “In Delaware, the largest growth of population is Indian Americans, moving from India. You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”

High-ranking Democrats who have a history of bigotry just keep hurling it without paying any sort of political price in the unbiased, objective, not-at-all liberal media.

Democrats sure got it good.

Why, it’s almost as if those covering them — and covering for them — in the MSM are actually Democrat operatives with bylines themselves.

* Shylock & Wongs should not be confused with Ginsberg & Wong’s, which fused Chinese and deli food and were located in the lobbies of Hyatt House hotels, and used to have the best, greasiest, giant-sized cheddar cheese hamburgers and corned beef & pastrami sandwiches in the late 1970s and 1980s.

nyt_shylock_tweet_9-17-14

I’m not sure which is worse, if New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro is lying that he doesn’t know what a Shylock is to protect Joe Biden — or if he really didn’t know what the term meant when he wrote above tweet. In any case, as this unsigned article at the Washington Free Beacon notes:

New York Times political reporter Michael Barbaro took to Twitter on Wednesday to express his confusion over a recent controversy in which Vice President Joe Biden employed the anti-Semitic term “shylock” in a speech.

“Raise your hand if you were not familiar with the word ‘Shylock’ before it became a controversy in past 24 hours?” Barbaro tweeted to his followers, prompting much ridicule.

Biden employed the historically offensive and anti-Semitic word in a speech Tuesday. He was forced to apologize early Wednesday after he came under criticism from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and others.

Barbaro, purportedly a trained journalist and political expert, had apparently never heard the word before or come across it in literature. Twitter users immediately ridiculed the reporter for his ignorance. “And you admit that?” tweeted author Ben Cohen.

The Beacon claims their paper mailed Barbaro a hard copy edition of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice “for his further edification.”

Assuming that Barbaro was telling the truth (which is less and less the default position with the MSM, as they are self-admitting with increasing frequency), his admission dovetails remarkably well with another recent article at his place of employment. When I wrote my post on Monday on the Times’ culpability in regards to what Barbaro’s fellow Timesman Roger Cohen dubbed America and the world’s “Great Unraveling,” I wondered if Cohen’s reference to Kipling at the end of his article would go past many New York Times readers, given how PC modern education has become. Did Barbaro, age 34 or 35, who graduated from Connecticut’s Hamden Hall Country Day School in 1998 and Yale in 2002, miss the classes on Shakespeare, or was he no longer taught in high school by the mid-1990s?

We know the Bard is being taught less and less in the 21st century, as Andrew Klavan noted at the start of the year:

City Journal’s Heather Mac Donald is one of the best reporters in the country, one of our most courageous writers and a consistently moral voice. Last year, she gave the Manhattan Institute’s prestigious Wriston Lecture and last Saturday, the Wall Street Journal published an adaptation of that lecture under the headline “The Humanities Have Forgotten Their Humanity.” A fuller version of this brilliant piece will be in CJ’s Winter number. Get your hands on it. Read it.

Heather Mac begins by noting that the leftist academic buffoons at UCLA no longer require that the university’s English majors read Shakespeare, Chaucer or Milton. They do, however, require these students take courses in leftist theories on gender, race, ethnicity and other meaningless subjects whose names I slept through.

In other words, the UCLA faculty was now officially indifferent to whether an English major had ever read a word of Chaucer, Milton or Shakespeare, but the department was determined to expose students, according to the course catalog, to “alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race, and class.”

In still other words, the people tasked with teaching our young about the past have drowned out the voices of the past with their own voices. Their own whiny, unwise, small-minded and bitter voices.

Read on for how today’s low state of American elite culture was anticipated by England’s similar cultural collapse under socialist rule after World War II. In his 1999 book The Abolition of Britain Peter Hitchens wrote, “Just as Evelyn Waugh had once suggested that the Labour government of 1945 was similar to living under foreign occupation, [novelist Kingsley Amis] suggested that the trashing of our culture and literacy were so severe that only a ruthless foreign invader could possibly make them worse:”

A real occupation would almost certainly have produced a resistance, the circulation of banned texts and the holding of secret religious services. But a country which ploughs under its own culture, without violence or open suppression, has no such resistance. The objects of the attack are unaware that they are under attack, and there are no martyrs, no persecution to bring resistance into being.

Incidentally, I like the black sunglasses that Barbaro wears in his Twitter profile — they project the requisite “I’m in the media, screw you” vibe, and simultaneously illustrate how much information is blocked before it reaches yet another exquisitely-cocooned Timesman.

Update: Scott Johnson of Power Line asks, “Hath not a Timesman cultural literacy?” Heh.™

Science! “Conservatives and liberals smell different,” The Week claims:

A new study from the American Journal of Political Science indicates that different political affiliations may actually correspond with different body odors.

The researchers, led by Brown University political scientist Rose McDermott, found that conservatives and liberals smell dissimilar. While the difference is small, it is apparently significant enough that we subconsciously prefer the scent of those who vote like we do. “It appears nature stacks the deck to make politically similar partners more attractive to each other in unconscious ways,” the researchers wrote.

Conservatives and liberals smell different? I just can’t see it smell it myself:

Asking the Important Questions

September 16th, 2014 - 11:55 am

Are video games sexist? Christina Hoff Sommers takes on the social[ist] justice warriors who, as she says, “wants the male video game culture to die.” It’s also a good introduction to #Gamergate, if you’re still trying to make sense of it all.

Of course, as we’ve noted in our previous post on the topic of #Gamergate, what’s going on the video game journalism industry is the same thing that’s going on in every facet of journalism, where objectivity is discarded and replaced with open leftwing advocacy and “concernocrats,” aka “hipsters with degrees in cultural studies.”

Related: “It didn’t used to be this way. ESPN used to be a sports network that covered sports and wasn’t a delivery system for the social and political message of the day. But, that’s what it’s become.”

Because  the left sees the need to begin “reprogramming the way we raise men.”

Oh swell, time for the left to create their latest model of “The New Man.” What could go wrong?

Quote of the Day

September 15th, 2014 - 8:55 pm

Mic drop.

Tin Soldiers and Urban Outfitters’ Coming

September 15th, 2014 - 8:00 pm

Shot:

 

Chaser:

altamont_small

Not surprisingly, when it comes to epatering les bourgeois — and not issuing a mealy-mouthed apology afterwards — Kathy Shaidle did it better and first, five years ago.

But then, the collective pop culture history of both events is very, very wrong:

“Of Kent State’s Brick-Throwing Pacifists.”

“Altamont: When the Hippies Were Expelled From the Garden”

Exit tweet:

Exit question: Still think the early 1970s were fun, kids?

Update (9/16/14): “Alas, I can’t take credit for that brilliant ‘ALTAMONT’ t-shirt,” Kathy writes today; noting that it was created by the artists at the Hollywood Loser T-shirt Website. I think she certainly helped to popularize it, though.

Gray Lady Suffers Malaise

September 15th, 2014 - 1:25 pm

Elizabeth Scalia, aka “The Anchoress,” describes Roger Cohen’s piece in the New York Times titled “The Great Unraveling” as “an exquisitely-written dose of reality.” Regarding America in the age of Obama, Cohen describes it in Dickensian terms; “It was a time of weakness”:

The most powerful nation on earth was tired of far-flung wars, its will and treasury depleted by absence of victory. An ungrateful world could damn well police itself. The nation had bridges to build and education systems to fix. Civil wars between Arabs could fester. Enemies might even kill other enemies, a low-cost gain. Middle Eastern borders could fade; they were artificial colonial lines on a map. Shiite could battle Sunni, and Sunni Shiite, there was no stopping them. Like Europe’s decades-long religious wars, these wars had to run their course. The nation’s leader mockingly derided his own “wan, diffident, professorial” approach to the world, implying he was none of these things, even if he gave that appearance. He set objectives for which he had no plan. He made commitments he did not keep. In the way of the world these things were noticed. Enemies probed. Allies were neglected, until they were needed to face the decapitators who talked of a Caliphate and called themselves a state. Words like “strength” and “resolve” returned to the leader’s vocabulary. But the world was already adrift, unmoored by the retreat of its ordering power. The rule book had been ripped up.

Elizabeth responds, “It is, finally, perhaps a time of dawning realization that the centers are not holding; old orders are in extremis; new orders are in capricious adolescence”:

The troubles briefly enumerated in this sobering op-ed are only the most obvious issues. They are the pebble tossed into the pond, rippling outward in ever-widening circles — expanding to include a unique “time” of global crisis: governments failing at every level, everywhere; churches are divided, their freedoms challenged; citizens are distracted, dissatisfied and distrustful, their election mechanisms in doubt; schools are losing sight of the primary mission of education; families are deconstructed and the whole concept ripe for dissolution; respect for human dignity is doled out in qualified measures; there is a lack of privacy; a lack of time to think, to process and to incarnate; a lack of silence.

It sounds terribly, terribly depressing, yes. Who wants to read that? Who wants to think about that?

Sadly, this is essential reading; this is essential thinking.

Fair enough, but consider the source — over the past 12 years, the New York Times, when not going on benders on the evils of golf courses and air conditioning, and publishing outright fabulism, has, more recently, published pieces calling for the end of the US Constitution, and mocking the “fervid subsets of evangelical Christianity” of its presidential candidates — only, upon further review, to discover that these extreme worldviews are Catholicism, Lutheranism and Mormonism, bedrock religions of America’s history.  Its leading journalists have publicly called the citizens of the American midwest “The dance of the low-sloping foreheads” and filed William S. Burroughs-style stories of openly experimenting with drugs. And of course, in 2008, it went all-in to champion a man who was clearly not ready to be president, to the point of actively burying potentially damaging stories about him and refusing to run op-eds from his opponent.

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‘Where Have You Gone, Michael Moore?’

September 14th, 2014 - 6:53 pm

michael_moore_missing_milk_carton_9-14-14-1

“We should be living in a new Michael Moore moment,” Christian Toto, veteran film critic at the Washington Times and later Breitbart.com’s Big Hollywood Website, writes at his new Website, Hollywood In Toto:

He made news this week by critiquing President Barack Obama from the left, saying Obama will be remembered as the first black president, not for any significant achievements.

Isn’t that fodder for a documentary, a profile of a president who promised to fundamentally transform the country and, in Moore’s eyes, ended up being a sign of racial progress and little else?

Meanwhile, wholesale changes in the film industry are making it easier than ever to be the next Michael Moore. Filmmakers can flex a Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign to raise money, tap streaming services like Netflix or iTunes to distribute content without needing theatrical access and use social media to spread the word. Moore could piggyback on all of these advances or simply flex his industry clout to make more film op-eds.

Yet Moore’s film voice is silent.

Could it be that his progressive bona fides are on the decline? He rallied on behalf of Occupy Wall Street, an archaic movement which quickly burned itself out. More recently, details of his divorce proceedings leaked, showing his Everyman image camouflaged a wealthy man who enjoyed the perks of capitalism.

Presumably aware of the fates of  Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and Dinesh D’Souza, perhaps Moore doesn’t wish to become yet another filmmaker risking jail time from the regime he once championed.

Earlier: Michael Moore Now Living Out Old SNL Nixon Sketches.

Question of the Day

September 14th, 2014 - 3:46 pm

Which bumper sticker will leftists need to remove from their Prius or Smart Car in the coming weeks? “For example, this typical car spotted yesterday in Berkeley, with 2008-era bumper stickers,” as photographed by Zombie. I don’t want to steal the photo, so click over to see it:

On one side: “No Blood for Oil“; on the other: “Obama ’08.”

Oh dear oh dear oh dear.

One of those stickers simply has to be scraped off. Otherwise the cognitive dissonance would be too intense to tolerate.

But which sticker to remove?

The answer to that question may determine America’s political future in the near term.

Will anti-war liberals hold true to their unwavering belief that whenever America wages war in the Middle East, it is “for oil”? Or will they defend Obama politically as he once again sends American troops to Iraq?

Because when Obama invades Iraq, as he is about to do, you can’t have it both ways.

As former Democrat National Comittee chairman Howard Dean once claimed, “I will use whatever position I have in order to root out hypocrisy.” Given the left’s utter obsession on the topic, it’s fun to call them out, but the cognitive dissonance that led to Obama’s coronation in 2008 could lead to far worse things as well.

“Obama’s Ship is Sinking,” Michael Goodwin writes in the New York Post today. “I fear, we are on the cusp of tragedy,” he warns. It is reasonable to assume the worst-case scenarios about national security are growing increasingly likely to occur:”

Obama’s fecklessness is so unique that our adversaries and enemies surely realize they will never face a weaker president. They must assume the next commander in chief will take a more muscular approach to America’s interests and be more determined to forge alliances than the estranged man who occupies the Oval Office now.

So Vladimir Putin, Iran, China, Islamic State, al Qaeda and any other number of despots and terrorists know they have two years to make their moves and advance their interests, and that resistance will be token, if there is any at all.

Throw in the fact that Europe largely has scrapped its military might to pay for its welfare states, and the entire West is a diminished, confused opponent, ripe for the taking. Redrawn maps and expanded spheres of influence could last for generations.

Of course, there is a possibility that America could rally around the president in a crisis, and there would be many voices demanding just that. But a national consensus requires a president who is able to tap into a reservoir of good will and have his leadership trusted.

That’s not the president we have.

Long before the media tied their collective panties into knots over the Tea Party, Obama’s self-described “non-official campaign” staffers worked exceedingly hard in 2007 and 2008 at dividing America, dubbing anyone who was against him as racist, all the way to Bill and Hillary Clinton — and the workaday Democrat Americans who supported them in the primaries. Between alienating both sides of the aisle in Congress with his aloofness, pitting the rest of America from 2007 until today against itself and most recently angering his dove-ish BUSH SUX MAN! supporters by threatening ISIS, Obama’s has burned through an enormous amount of political capital and good will.

Perhaps with only a couple of years left in his administration, he didn’t think he’d need very much of it by now.

But in regards to Zombie’s statement that “when Obama invades Iraq, as he is about to do, you can’t have it both ways,” of course you can — if there’s a (D) after your name, you can flip-flop and contort your ideology — 360 degrees or more, as Maxine Waters might say — on every issue like you were John Kerry catching some really tasty waves on his windsurfing rig:

Busby Berkeley at Berchtesgaden

September 14th, 2014 - 2:09 pm

“Her directing career ended with the Third Reich,” Mark Steyn writes in an 80th anniversary essay on Leni Riefenstahl’s infamous agitpropumentary, Triumph of the Will. As Mark notes, had Riefenstahl “been worse at making the Nazis look good, her insistence that she was no more than a hired hand might have been accepted,” which would have resulted perhaps in a very different postwar life. (Riefenstahl lived to be 101, dying in 2003):

Did Leni get Adolf to do re-takes? Or maybe she made the entire population of Nuremberg re-take the scene; maybe they staged the procession twice. If Hitler was unusually agreeable about taking direction, it was because this was never a filmed record of an event so much as an event created for the film. Whatever Triumph Of The Will is, it’s not a documentary. Its language is that of feature films – not Warner Brothers gangster movies or John Ford westerns, but rather the supersized genres, the epics and musicals where huge columns of the great unwieldy messy mass of humanity get tidied and organized — and, if that isn’t the essence of totalitarianism, what is? Riefenstahl has the same superb command of the crowd as Busby Berkeley, the same flair for human geometry (though Berkeley would have drawn the line at giving the gentlemen of the chorus as swishy a parade step as Hitler’s personal SS bodyguard do).

The sets (that’s what they are) that were built for Hitler’s speeches blend Cecil B. de Mille with expressionist sci-fi: no party convention in Britain, Canada or even Obama’s America ever offered its leader a stage like this. It exists in the same relationship to reality as, say, Berkeley’s “Lullaby Of Broadway” sequence in Gold Diggers Of 1935: in that scene, the conceit is that the number’s taking place in a nightclub, but, as the song continues and the dancers multiply and the perspective extends ever further into the distance, you realise that no nightclub anywhere on earth has a stage that vast. Riefenstahl stretches reality in the same way, beginning in the streets of old Nuremberg with the band serenading Hitler below the balcony of his ivy-clad hotel, and steadily abandoning human scale until the Führer is standing alone atop a giant stone block as thousands of standard-bearing party members march in formation below: extras on a set. In the 21st century, you can see Riefenstahl’s influence in the work of George Lucas (Star Wars) and Paul Verhoeven (Starship Troopers), both filmmakers for whom the principal thrill of directing seems to be the opportunity it affords to subordinate the individual.

George Lucas’s Star Wars begins with its iconic logo, about which its designer later explained, “Suzy Rice, who had just been hired as an art director, remembers the job well. She recalls that the design directive given by Lucas was that the logo should look ‘very fascist.’”

The film ends with the Rebels, the film’s “good guys,” about whom Lucas told interviewers he had modeled after Communist North Vietnam, tromping through a giant hall to pick up their awards. As numerous critics have noted over the years, it’s a scene whose composition was straight out of Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will. Given the similarities that exist back in the real world between national socialism and international socialism, perhaps his notion that his film’s beginning and end wound up looking “very fascist” is more appropriate than even Lucas knew at the time.

As for Paul Verhoeven’s silly but entertaining 1997 version of Starship Troopers, his film merged the propaganda techniques, the massed geometries of soldiers at attention, and the uniforms of all of the major World War II participants, down to Neil Patrick Harris’s infamous leather greatcoat worn in the film’s last scene. (“Doogie Himmler!”, as one wag exclaimed at the time in an early review.) Verhoeven’s Troopers crudely anticipates the argument made in Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism regarding the intertwined nature of the socialist ideologies the players in World War II all shared. Not surprisingly, that wasn’t an argument leftwing film critics wanted to hear while Bill Clinton was in office, which likely accounted for its many bad initial reviews. But oh, the hosannas Starship Troopers would have garnered from “liberal” critics had it been released in 2004

‘Where Have All the Anti-War Protestors Gone?’

September 13th, 2014 - 10:51 pm

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“Gee — could it be that the anti-war movement is just another partisan creation of the Democratic party? Looks that way,” Rick Moran concludes at the American Thinker:

Apparently, the far left believes that as long as Obama’s heart is in the right place, all else can be forgiven.

The grand dame of liberal commentary magazines — The Nation — is opposing the expansion of the war in Iraq, but in the most mild terms you can imagine. No calls to bring the president up on war crimes. No calls for impeachment for going to war without authorization. The rhetoric is rueful and disappointed rather than righteous and indignant.

In fact, the protests held to date have not been against the administration, but rather “racism” or “police brutality.” You can bet if Ferguson occurred six years ago, there would have been loud and vociferous calls for the resignation of President Bush’s attorney general, among others.

With no lefty media calling for protests, there probably won’t be any. Even the anarchists and commies are silent. It’s a phenomenon that proves the shocking level of hypocrisy and partisanship inherent in any leftist protest movement, but especially the anti-war crowd.

Oh, I don’t know — the protests this weekend were rather dramatic in their size and scope:

Perhaps the protestors are going the John & Yoko bed-in route. But hey, to borrow from the rhetoric of John Winston Ono Lennon, War is Over, If You Want It.

Nahh, just kidding. The legendary San Francisco moonbat told Time-Warner-CNN-HBO spokesman Bill Maher last night that “Civilization as we know it today would be in jeopardy if the Republicans win the Senate,” Chuck Ross writes at the Daily Caller:

On the one hand, California U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi claims that Democrats are not “fear-mongers;” on the other hand, she believes civilization is doomed if Republicans take control of the Senate from Democrats in November.

The former speaker of the House made those dramatic, incongruous statements on “Real Time with Bill Maher,” which aired live from Washington, D.C. Friday.

Maher asked Pelosi about recent polling which shows that the GOP is likely to take over the upper chamber and asked, given gridlock in Washingon, why it matters that Democrats keep control.

“It would be very important for the Democrats to retain control of the Senate,” Pelosi told Maher. “Civilization as we know it today would be in jeopardy if the Republicans win the Senate.”

Democrats currently hold 53 seats in the Senate. Republicans have 45. Two independents caucus with Democrats.

Maher asked about voter turnout for Democrats, which he asserted was too low to carry the party in the mid-term.

“Nobody comes about to vote to say ‘thank you,’” Maher said. “The people who get health care now — they’re the people least likely to vote. The people who come out to vote are the angry people.”

“That’s true,” said Pelosi. “Fear is a motivator, and we are not fear-mongers. The Democrats are messengers of hope, and that’s what we will continue to be.”

So just to confirm: the left aren’t fear-mongers, they’re messengers of hope, but civilization is doomed if the Senate is controlled by those who wish your taxes were three or four percent lower. Gotcha.

And note Nancy’s incredible timing, given the recently retired president’s speech this week on the hash he’s made of Iraq:

Related: Steve Hayward at Power Line on “What’s Wrong With California in One Map.”

And at Twitchy, what else does Nancy Pelosi endanger?

Symmetrical Sophistry

September 12th, 2014 - 10:19 pm

“There Are Now 52 Explanations For The Pause In Global Warming,” Michael Bastasch of the Daily Caller writes:

It’s been a busy year for climate scientists, who have been trying to explain why there has been no global warming for nearly two decades.

The Daily Caller News Foundation reported in February there were eight mainstream explanations for the pause, but there are now a whopping 52 explanations for why there has been no warming trend for the last 215 months.

Which oddly makes sense: the savants of settled science are proffering almost as many explanations as to why there’s no global warming as the number of maladies supposedly caused by global warming.

I blame Leonard Nimoy.

“Michael Moore Tells Canadian News He Planted Stories About His Extreme Wealth,” at Brietbart TV:

This week at the Toronto Film Festival, Canada’s Sun News caught up with progressive director Michael Moore and asked him about reports from earlier in the summer that his divorce settlement records showed Mr. Moore’s net worth estimated at $50 million and he and his wife owned nine properties which included a Manhattan condo that once was three apartments.

The director of the documentary critical of capitalism, “Capitalism: A Love Story,” deflected those question by claiming that he has been planting false news stories of his exaggerated wealth with his writers for years.

Video at link. Shades of the old Saturday Night Live sketch where Dan Aykroyd played Nixon and Buck Henry played John Dean:

David Eisenhower: Uh.. you were telling us how they twisted the meaning of what you said.

Richard Nixon: That’s right, uh.. uh, yeah, yeah.. [ chuckles ] You see.. my administration.. had the greatest sense of humor that this country has ever seen. You see.. most of the time, we were.. making “party” tapes. Me, and Haldeman, and Ehrlichman, and Dean could joke for weeks on end. We actually.. played to the microphone..

[ slow dissolve to a flashback scene of Nixon's March 21st meeting with John Dean in the Oval Office ]

Richard Nixon V/O: ..We’d do anything to crack wach other up! And I remember, that day, Dean was on a roll, so I just followed his lead, and.. “played along” with the “joke”..

John Dean: [ standing over Nixon's desk; a microphone is unseen underneath a small lamp on the desk ] ..Plus.. there’s a real problem.. in raising money.

[ Dean holds up handwritten sign: "Let's Pretend There's A Cover Up"; Nixon laughs, removes lampshade to reveal hidden microphone ]

John Dean: Uh.. Mitchell.. Mitchell has been working on raising some money.. feeling he’s got, you know.. he’s one of the ones with the most.. to lose

President Richard Nixon: [ covers microphone with hand, tries not to laugh ] Martha!

John Dean: ..but.. there is no denying the fact that the White House – Ehrlichman, Haldeman.. [ points to himself ] ..Dean – are all involved in some of the.. early.. money decisions.

President Richard Nixon: [ stands slightly to speak directly into the microphone ] How much money do they need?

John Dean: Well.. I would say these people are going to cost, uh.. uh.. [ looks to Nixon for help, who sticks both thumbs in the air to silently cue Dean to pick a high number ] ..a million dollars! Over the next.. two years.

[ Nixon and Dean pound on the desk to subdue their laughter ]

President Richard Nixon: We could get that.

John Dean: [ stifling laughter ] Uh-huh.

[ Nixon scribbles on a pad, then, laughing silently, holds it up to reveal the message: "Let's Talk In Incomplete Sentences" ]

President Richard Nixon: Uh.. uh.. You, uh.. on the money.. if you, uh.. need the money, I mean, uh.. you could get the money. Let’s say, uh..

John Dean: Well, I think if we’re going to, uh..

President Richard Nixon: What I meant is, uh.. you could get, uh.. you could get a million dollars. And you could get it in cash.

[ Dean stick two pencils up his nose, resembling a walrus; Nixon practically falls out of his chair laughing at the sight ]

President Richard Nixon: I, uh.. I know where it could be gotten!

John Dean: Uh, huh! [ puts lampshade on his head and dances in a circle, to Nixon's amusement ]

President Richard Nixon: I mean it’s not easy.. but it could be done!

[ Dean drops his pants and continues to dance with lampshade on his head; Nixon falls to the floor laughing, as Dean pounds on the desk in a fit of laughter ]

[ slow dissolve back to the Nixon household, present day ]

Richard Nixon: You see, David? Things aren’t always as they seem.

David Eisenhower: Well, I.. guess people just hear what they want to hear.

Julie Eisenhower: I’ll say. You know, Dad’s only crime was having too good a sense of humor.

Richard Nixon: You’re damn right, Kitten!

With Robert Redford about to shoot a film about Dan Rather’s slow transformation into the second coming of Richard Nixon, it’s not all that surprising that Michael Moore would want to get in on the action as well.

Oh and by the way, if Moore is claiming he lied about his wealth, why should anyone believe what’s in his “documentaries,” as Pauline Kael noted in her perceptive New Yorker review of Roger & Me?

Update: On the other hand, perhaps Moore was simply trying to Voxsplain his wealth to the Sun News reporter:

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Quote of the Day

September 12th, 2014 - 5:01 pm

In previous posts I’ve introduced the metaphor of the attrition mill–a machine in which two steel disks, rotating at high speed in opposite directions, crush between them the grain or other substance to be milled. Our society is caught in a gigantic attrition mill, with one disk being the Islamic terrorist enemy and the other being the “progressive” Left within our own societies–some of whom are wishful thinkers who deny uncomfortable realities, an alarming number of whom forthrightly despise their own societies and the majority of their fellow citizens. Without the existence of the second disk, the terrorist threat would be serious, inconvenient, and dangerous, but would not be an existential threat to Western civilization. But it is the interaction of the two disks, despite the differences in their stated philosophies of life*, that increases the societal threat by orders of magnitude.

“9/11 Plus Thirteen Years,” David Foster, the Chicago Boyz Website, yesterday.

* The key word in that sentence being stated. The two ideologies actually have much in common.

From a Command Economy to a Command Reality

September 12th, 2014 - 1:24 pm

“Democratic thinking [typically unfolds] in three stages,” Jeff Bergner writes in “The Party of Reason?” at the Weekly Standard:

1) Policy is predicated on reality as one wishes it to be, not as it is. (2) That policy fails. And (3) its advocates explain the failure by demonizing their opponents. The demonization of political opponents to cover policy failures is an all too reliable indicator that the policies rest on unsound, anti-scientific, irrational foundations.

As Bergner concludes:

Because the left wishes to eliminate poverty by redistribution, it assumes reality can be made to conform. Because it judges fossil fuels bad, they must be allowed no future. Because it insists on human causation for global warming, dissenters must be hounded. Because the left favors unrestricted access to abortion, a woman’s right to choose must be enshrined.

The words of today’s political left are much like ancient incantations. They are magic. But there is one difference: Ancient incantations reflected an underlying belief in an external world that was difficult to control, a world in which humans had at best a modest measure of influence.

Liberals have long favored the notion of a command economy; today they operate in nothing less than a command reality. For the modern liberal, we humans have the power to deconstruct and reconstruct reality as we please. In this brave new world, words are all that is required for a new reality to leap into existence. To speak about an issue is to resolve it. Good intentions suffice. If the results of programs created with good intentions disappoint, it doesn’t matter. Disastrous policy results do not reflect a misunderstanding of reality, but the evil machinations of political opponents.

This of course is not reason; it is hubris. The great power of modern science arises from the understanding that we gain a degree of mastery over natural forces and ourselves only by conforming our thoughts and actions to the nature of reality itself. The incantations of the modern left notwithstanding, reality is not easily bent by words alone.

No, sometimes really devastating magical thinking requires the willing aid of a faux newscaster as well: