» The Return of the Primitive

Ed Driscoll

The Return of the Primitive

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That was then, this is now:

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I’m all for swearing off the rhetoric of violence — why not give it a try, Salon?

And no word yet if either of America’s black presidents or the rest of the DNC-MSM, which struck, JournoList-style, a near universal vacuous pose of “civility” as a cheap debating tactic in January of 2011, will condemn Morrison’s rhetoric.

Earlier: ‘Anger and Outrage Disguise Your Boastfulness.’

Related: Walter Olson of Overlawyered.com tweets, “To those who ask ‘who could defend the dawn-police-raid Wisconsin John Doe outrage?’ here you go:” Olsen links to a Huffington Post story titled “Walker’s Dark Money Allies Orchestrate Coup of the Courts,” with “1.5K shares so far,” he adds. For a more sensible look at the nightmare in Wisconsin, check out this post by Instapundit, along with a commenter who writes, “Every Democrat should repeatedly be asked whether they support the police state tactics used by Democrats in Wisconsin. As with Rand Paul every media interviewer should be asked by candidates to answer the same as the price for continuing the interview.”

We know HuffPo’s answer, and presumably Salon and Toni Morrison as well.

For the left, “Virtue signalling consists of saying you hate things,” as spotted by David Thompson:

James Bartholomew on signalling one’s virtue:

It’s noticeable how often virtue signalling consists of saying you hate things. It is camouflage. The emphasis on hate distracts from the fact you are really saying how good you are. If you were frank and said, ‘I care about the environment more than most people do’ or ‘I care about the poor more than others,’ your vanity and self-aggrandisement would be obvious. Anger and outrage disguise your boastfulness.

Which may help explain why some signallers of piety make a point of telling us how they “long for the pure, uncomplicated political anger” felt by their younger selves. An odd thing to long for, given the possibilities. Our old friend Laurie Penny is forever romanticising anger and saying, with a hint of pride, that she’s written something that’s “angry,” as if anger were the important thing, the marker of status, as opposed to, say, being coherent or truthful. “It’s getting harder to stay angry,” wrote Laurie, in one of many posts about her fascinating self. “That terrifies me more than anything.” One of Ms Penny’s fans subsequently asked, “Why do you feel it important to be angry all the time?” Sadly, no answer was forthcoming. But it’s interesting to reverse the sequence of ideas. After all, pretending to be angry makes some people feel important all the time. And if anger is hard to muster, there’s always everyday obnoxiousness. That can be a credential too.

It isn’t all that surprising that “Virtue signalling consists of saying you hate things,” for the left, actually. As talk radio host Michael Graham told NRO’s Kathryn Jean Lopez in 2002 when he was discussing his then-new book, Redneck Nation,To be a Republican, you have to believe something” — God, tradition, the country and its defense, and/or the family, etc. In contrast, as Roger L. Simon noted yesterday, to be a Democrat, you simply have to hate something:

None of my liberal friends like to talk politics anymore.  They have nothing to say and it’s obvious why. Liberalism…  or progressivism — people who wish to make the distinction can go ahead, but I find it trivial — they’re just different degrees of a self-serving lie…. liberalism, in the immortal words of Preston Sturges, “is not only dead, it’s decomposed.” (Sturges was referring to chivalry.)  Not only is there no there there (as Gertrude Stein said of Oakland),  there’s no there there there there to the tenth power.  I asked a liberal the other day what liberalism was, what exactly it was he supported, and he was stunned that I asked, and then he was just stunned.  He didn’t know how to answer because he didn’t have one.  It was just a habit.  (Oh, I forgot.  He said he didn’t like Republicans, which of course is no defense of liberalism, just contempt… with a soupçon of habit.)

Regarding anger, Thompson writes that it’s “the important thing, the marker of status, as opposed to, say, being coherent or truthful.” Coherent? That’s for squares who don’t understand nuance (and don’t need “trigger warnings” when confronted by a contrary thought.) Truthful? How bourgeois and reactionary!

Right JuiceVoxers?

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Right Dan?

Right Toure?

Right Barry?

Right, former Democrat Rep. Paul Kanjorski?

Right Jonathan Gruber? “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage,” says the MIT economist who helped write Obamacare. “And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass.”

Question Asked and Answered

April 20th, 2015 - 4:26 pm

“When did America forget that it’s America?”

—Natan Sharansky, the Washington Post, today.

“Rule America?Liberal elites ruined Britain as a hyperpower. Could America meet the same fate?”

—Jonathan Last, the Weekly Standard, October 21st, 2005.

Oh, that Liberal Fascism: “The entire family was herded into one room, and there they watched as the police carried off their personal possessions, including items that had nothing to do with the subject of the search warrant — even her daughter’s computer,” David French writes on “Wisconsin’s Shame: ‘I Thought It Was a Home Invasion’” in the new issue of National Review. As French writes, “It was indeed a home invasion, but the people who were pouring in were Wisconsin law-enforcement officers,” intent on stealing computers, cell phones, and other devices with personal information on them:

For dozens of conservatives, the years since Scott Walker’s first election as governor of Wisconsin transformed the state — known for pro-football championships, good cheese, and a population with a reputation for being unfailingly polite — into a place where conservatives have faced early-morning raids, multi-year secretive criminal investigations, slanderous and selective leaks to sympathetic media, and intrusive electronic snooping.

Yes, Wisconsin, the cradle of the progressive movement and home of the “Wisconsin idea” — the marriage of state governments and state universities to govern through technocratic reform — was giving birth to a new progressive idea, the use of law enforcement as a political instrument, as a weapon to attempt to undo election results, shame opponents, and ruin lives.

Most Americans have never heard of these raids, or of the lengthy criminal investigations of Wisconsin conservatives. For good reason. Bound by comprehensive secrecy orders, conservatives were left to suffer in silence as leaks ruined their reputations, as neighbors, looking through windows and dismayed at the massive police presence, the lights shining down on targets’ homes, wondered, no doubt, What on earth did that family do?

This was the on-the-ground reality of the so-called John Doe investigations, expansive and secret criminal proceedings that directly targeted Wisconsin residents because of their relationship to Scott Walker, their support for Act 10, and their advocacy of conservative reform.

Largely hidden from the public eye, this traumatic process, however, is now heading toward a legal climax, with two key rulings expected in the late spring or early summer. The first ruling, from the Wisconsin supreme court, could halt the investigations for good, in part by declaring that the “misconduct” being investigated isn’t misconduct at all but the simple exercise of First Amendment rights.

The second ruling, from the United States Supreme Court, could grant review on a federal lawsuit brought by Wisconsin political activist Eric O’Keefe and the Wisconsin Club for Growth, the first conservatives to challenge the investigations head-on. If the Court grants review, it could not only halt the investigations but also begin the process of holding accountable those public officials who have so abused their powers.

But no matter the outcome of these court hearings, the damage has been done. In the words of Mr. O’Keefe, “The process is the punishment.”

Read the whole thing — and recall that last September we quoted from posts and articles on a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel whose reporter was accused of harassing one of the “John Doe” whistleblowers, a disabled police officer, living up fully to Glenn Reynolds’ description of old media as “Democrat operatives with bylines.”

If California, New York, and other “Progressive” states slowly inching towards the fiscal abyss are to have genuine reform, these scenes could very well be repeated along the way.

On March 18th, 1968, following the 1965 riots in Watts and in numerous American cities in 1967, including the riot that began the destruction of Detroit, Robert F. Kennedy gave a speech to the students at  Kansas State University. Kennedy quoted the words of early 20th century “Progressive” Kansan William Allen White, and eerily foreshadowed his own death just a few months later, when he said:

‘If our colleges and universities do not breed men who riot, who rebel, who attack life with all their youthful vision and vigor then there is something wrong with our colleges. The more riots that come on college campuses, the better the world for tomorrow.’ ” …

At first he seemed tentative and wooden, stammering and repeating himself, too nervous to punctuate his sentences with gestures. But with each round of applause he became more animated. Soon he was pounding the lectern with his right fist, and shouting out his words.

Rene Carpenter watched the students in the front rows. Their faces shone, and they opened their mouths in unison, shouting, “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”

Hays Gorey, of Time, called the electricity between Kennedy and the K.S.U. students “real and rare” and said that ” .. John Kennedy … himself couldn’t be so passionate, and couldn’t set off such sparks.”

Kevin Rochat was close to weeping because Kennedy was so direct and honest. He kept telling himself, My God! He’s saying exactly what I’ve been thinking! ..

Kennedy concluded by saying, “Our country is in danger: not just from foreign enemies; but above all, from our own misguided policies–and what they can do to the nation that Thomas Jefferson once said was the last, great hope of mankind. There is a contest on, not for the rule of America but for the heart of America. In these next eight months we are going to decide what this country will stand for–and what kind of men we are.”

He raised his fist in the air so it resembled the revolutionary symbol on posters hanging in student rooms that year, promised “a new America,” and the hall erupted in cheers and thunderous applause.

While last year we saw destructive riots ginned up by the media in Ferguson and rioting in New York, Twitter users witness a virtual riot about once a week it seems. And needless to say, sadly, many Twitter users also participate in the weekly Two-Minute Hate. In her review of Jon Ronson’s new book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, Megan McArdle writes at Bloomberg, “Social media is now producing what you might call ‘shame-storming,’ where some offense (real or imagined) is uncovered, and a horde of indignant tweeters quickly assembles to publicize the transgression and heap imprecations on its author”:

This sort of shaming has costs, however. If you haven’t changed someone’s mind, you haven’t changed their behavior, only what they say. If they do harbor the bad beliefs you accused them of, those beliefs are now festering in private rather than being open to persuasion. And you haven’t even necessarily changed what they say in a good direction, because people who are afraid of unjust attacks aren’t afraid of being punished for saying things they know they ought to be ashamed of, but of being punished for saying something they didn’t know would attract this kind of ire. So they’re afraid to say anything at all, or at least anything more interesting than “Woo, puppies!” That’s not norm enforcement; it’s blanket terror.

An even greater cost is that shame itself starts to lose its power. When outrage of the week becomes outrage of the hour, the audience starts to check out. Few people can sustain the emotional intensity needed to see cosmic injustice behind every badly phrased sentence or juvenile photo. Meanwhile, people in communities closer to the target start to respond with an outpouring of support, such that Memories Pizza ended up not by closing up shop and issuing a tearful apology, but trying to figure out what to do with the donations that poured in. The public shaming didn’t change anyone’s mind on gay marriage, or even make it extra-costly to operate an establishment that won’t cater gay weddings; it just hardened each side in their respective positions.

Riding out an online shame-storm isn’t much fun, but as Marc Fitch writes at the Federalist, in an article titled, “We Are Legion: Don’t Let Internet Culture Amplify Idiots,” “It is often quite easy to feel that you are greatly outnumbered and that the entire world is against you, particularly if you have the gall to air your beliefs in the public realm (or be caught in it, in [the Memories Pizza] situation)”:

Social media can seemingly explode with anger at your mention of a political or cultural position that goes against whatever the Video Music Awards are advocating this year. You are beset by Legion.

But are you, really? Two thousand people is a drop in the bucket of the overall population, but when they all turn and look at you it can feel overwhelming. While outrage is nothing new in cultural or political fights, the Internet’s ability to allow individuals to reach people they have never met or places they have never been perpetrates an illusion. Memories Pizza was deluged with one-star ratings by people who had never been to the establishment or sampled its pizza.

It was recently revealed that nearly 70 percent of the criticism lobbed at Rush Limbaugh (which is ample) comes from a small group of activists that have devoted their lives to attempting to make his miserable. However, to view coverage of Limbaugh in television and Internet media, you would think that the entire country is listening and vastly offended at everything he says. You would see and hear what appear to be great swaths of civilization amassing against this radio host. But this is an illusion born of spirit, not of substance, and it is meant to influence the spirit of others. It is necessary to separate the corporeal reality from the illusory zeitgeist.

Few people have time to be so incensed, and those that do should not drive culture. Their offense is an illusion. Their feelings may matter to them, but need not drive discussions and certainly shouldn’t attain such grandiose proportions. Ideas can be debated and talked through, and individuals who maintain a decorum of objective detachment can often find common ground. But fight with a spirit, with irrational rage, and there is no way to find commonality.

The anonymity of the Internet allows this illusion to truly reach its greatest power as a single individual can assume any number of Internet personas that can spew any amount of nonsense and vitriol with no accountability or personal reflection whatsoever. The pseudo-anger and the Internet’s ability to instantaneously connect users can often give the impression of widespread outrage, when really hardly anyone has noticed.

And as Glenn Reynolds noted, perhaps the spectacular fundraising pushback to the left’s Frankenstein mob-style attack on Memories Pizza has created a potentially new dynamic to overcome the hatred of the mob, maybe even if they really do follow Spike Lee’s cinematic advice and wreck a beloved neighborhood hangout.

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“I’ve achieved more career success than I ever thought I would, but I looked at the inner light they had, and I said, I haven’t achieved that.” The Christian Science Monitor quotes David Brooks regarding the subject of his new book:

And so, he set out to explore that elusive quality, a certain contentment through selflessness. The result was “The Road to Character,” a new book in which Brooks profiles some of the world’s greatest leaders, thinkers, and humanitarians, in an effort to shine a light on the sort of moral virtues that have been discounted in the modern age.

“It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues,” he wrote in a New York Times oped piece which quickly became the NYT’s most-emailed story of the day. “The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest or faithful. Were you capable of deep love?”

Society today places great importance on resume virtues, he says, and teaches children from a young age to believe they are special, important.

This factoid is at once both jaw dropping and yet not all surprising, considering American educators have spent the last 40 years or so convincing kids they’re all super-special snowflakes who have achieved greatness and glory before even graduating*:

“We’re raised in a society called the ‘big me’ society,” Brooks said Monday on “CBS This Morning.” “In 1950, the [Gallup organization] asked high school kids, are you a very important person? Then 12 percent said yes. Asked again in 2005, 80 percent said, yes, I’m a very important person. We all think we’re super important.

“That’s great for your career if you’re branding yourself. That’s great for social media, if you want a highlight reel of you own life you can put up on Facebook, but if you want inner growth, you’ve got to be radically honest,” Brooks said. “…[T]he road to character is built by confronting your own weakness.”

In his weekly book-related post, Ace’s co-blogger highlights this quote from Brooks:

As for himself, Brooks told NPR he is “paid to be a narcissistic blowhard, to volley my opinions, to appear more confident about them than I really am, to appear smarter than I really am, to appear better and more authoritative than I really am. I have to work harder than most people to avoid a life of smug superficiality.”

Not to mention falling for malignant narcissistic politicians based on their smug superficiality and the creases in their bespoke trousers.

* Though as someone tweeted yesterday, “American grade school: everyone’s a winner. American college: everyone’s a victim.”

Related: “From Neo to Theo? Is the New York Times’ David Brooks Converting to Christianity?”

Jerry Brown’s Oedipal Struggle

April 19th, 2015 - 3:41 pm

Joel Kotkin gets to the core of what’s driving California’s water woes, writing a rare must-read voice of sanity in the otherwise mentally arid wasteland that is the Daily Beast:

Indeed, if you look at California’s greatest achievements as a society, the Pat Brown legacy stands at the core. The California Aqueduct turned vast stretches of the Central Valley into one of the most productive farming regions in the world. The freeway system, now in often shocking disrepair, allowed for the construction of mass suburbia that offered millions a quality of life never experienced by previous generations. At the same time the development of energy resources—California still boasts the nation’s third-largest oil production—helped create a huge industrial base that included aerospace, semiconductors, and a host of specialized industries, from logistics to garment manufacturing.

In contrast, Jerry Brown has waged a kind of Oedipal struggle against his father’s legacy. Like many Californians, he recoiled against the sometimes haphazard and even ugly form of development that plowed through much of the state. Cutting off water is arguably the most effective way to stop all development, and promote Brown’s stated goal of eliminating suburban “sprawl.” It is typical that his first target for cutbacks this year has been the “lawns” of the middle-class suburbanite, a species for which he has shown little interest or tolerance.

But it’s not just water that exemplifies the current “era of limits” psychology. Energy development has always been in green crosshairs and their harassment has all but succeeded in helping drive much of the oil and gas industry, including corporate headquarters, out of the state. Not building roads—arguably to be replaced by trains—has not exactly reduced traffic but given California the honor of having eight of the top 20 cities nationally with poor roads; the percentage of Los Angeles-area residents who take transit has, if anything, declined slightly since train-building began. All we are left with are impossible freeways, crumbling streets, and ever more difficulty doing anything that requires traveling.

It isn’t just Jerry Brown; since the mid-1960s, the entire new left versus old, New Deal-era left struggle has been driven by an Oedipal Boomer-era hatred of their parents; as this telling anecdote from from former leftist turned pioneering neoconservative Norman Podhoretz highlighted, in an article titled “America the Ugly” at the Wall Street Journal in 2007:

It was of an evening in the year 1960, when I went to address a meeting of left-wing radicals on a subject that had then barely begun to show the whites of its eyes: the possibility of American military involvement in a faraway place called Vietnam and the need to begin mobilizing opposition to it. Accompanying me that evening was the late Marion Magid, a member of my staff at Commentary, of which I had recently become the editor. As we entered the drafty old hall on Union Square in Manhattan, Marion surveyed the 50 or so people in the audience and whispered to me: “Do you realize that every young person in this room is a tragedy to some family or other?”

The memory of this quip brought back to life some sense of how unpromising the future had then appeared to be for that bedraggled-looking assemblage. No one would have dreamed that these young people, and the generation about to descend from them politically and culturally, would within the blink of a historical eye come to be hailed by many members of the very “Establishment” they were trying to topple as (in the representative words of Prof. Archibald Cox of Harvard Law School) “the best informed, the most intelligent, and the most idealistic this country has ever known.”

More incredible yet, in a mere decade the ideas and attitudes of the new movement, cleaned up but essentially unchanged, would turn one of our two major parties upside down and inside out.

The following year, James Lileks explored the midcentury America the boomers were handed by their parents and how violently they’ve been trying to smash it, ever since:

I blame the boomers, of course. ;) If you’re going to make a fetish out of the Authentic Values of Adolescence, with its withering critiques of humanity, then you’re going to value the slouch and the sneer as signs of a Deep and Serious Person.  The Boomers were handed a Utopian ideal – practical, technocratic, rational, with silver wheels in the sky tended over by engineers and scientists — and they abandoned it for a Dionysian version based on wrecking and remaking the world they’d inherited. Their patron saint: Holy St. Caulfield, who identified the greatest sin in the human soul: being a phoney. Better to be an authentic bastard than someone who cannot successfully convince a teenager that some ideas have an importance that transcend the ability of the individual to manifest them 24/7.

Of course they got sour; if you believe a Utopia is possible if we just retinker human behavior to eliminate greed and dress codes and football and anything else that reminds us of Dad, be it the specific one or the unseen National Dad that rules the boardrooms and bedrooms and cloakrooms of DC, then the failure of this world makes it a dystopia, the worst of all possible worlds.

Some suggest that the great disenchantment began with the assassination of JFK, and I see the point. But it’s strange that it led to a loss of faith in us, given who shot the President. (Yes, I’m one of those lone-gunman wackos. I’m a freethinker! I refuse to accept concensus!) If Oswald had been a card-carrying Kluxer or a dead-ender Bircher or some sort of far-right-wing nutcase, I wonder if we would have accepted the Warren Commission and moved along. But no, he was a Communist. Well obviously there has to be more to it, then. Same with Sirhan Sirhan: his motivation will forever be a mystery, won’t it?

Once you start to believe in the dark shadowy forces, you’re done with the world. You’re done engaging it, you’re done enjoying it. There’s no point. It’s a sham, a shell, a shiny façade erected by the Jews / Bilderburgers / Trilateral Commission/ Council on Foreign Relations /  Project for a New American Century / Masons / Knights Templar / Illuminati / Federal Reserve / Rockefeller-Royal Family Nexus / Bush Crime Syndicate / League of Grim Intent, and all you can do is post on the internet and call talk radio to argue with the hosts who think we’re free people.

And choose the fate of the Delta Smelt over the quality of life of your fellow citizens. Who have been voting with their feet for several years, since their voices haven’t been heard in Sacramento for at least two decades.  As Moe Lane writes, “at the rate things are going” vis-a-vis the state’s man-made drought, “California is going to start out-migrating within the next three years. Just in time for the next Census… and won’t that cause a ruckus.”

As spotted by Ace:

 

Unexpectedly.

Update:
Of course, it’s not like some masses need outside help to hasten their extinction.

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Alternate Headline? Confirmed: the left has no humor, and is eager to devour its own at the slightest opportunity.

The left-leaning Boing Boing site actually tweets something funny — and the outrage mob, always on hair-trigger alert, always sweeping the airwaves and the Interwebs Bletchley Park-style in search of something to force them first to the fainting couches and then to the barricades, swings into action.

And Boing Boing crumples like a cheap suit in response, whining, “We’re sorry for this offensive tweet. Its transphobia was unintentional, but the hurt it caused is our responsibility.”

Mencken — and Charlie Hebdo and the late Christopher Hitchens — weeps. That’s one brave stance, fellas. Of course, the fact that the Wrong People laughed at the original tweet in the first place made things ultra-problematic for the site. So naturally, to get back into the good graces of their core audiences, they insult those who defended them:

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Kevin W. Glass of the Franklin Center tweets that he “couldn’t make a better study of Scott Alexander’s outgroup thesis if I tried.” Alexander describes himself as psychiatrist who gets his “news from vox.com, an Official Liberal Approved Site. Even when I go out to eat, it turns out my favorite restaurant, California Pizza Kitchen, is [ranked as] the most liberal restaurant in the United States.” As one of several examples in a lengthy post written last September titled “I Can Tolerate Anything Except The Outgroup,” Alexander writes that when Osama bin Laden suffered his fatal case of lead poisoning, “[I] didn’t come out and say I was happy he was dead. But some people interpreted it that way, and there followed a bunch of comments and emails and Facebook messages about how could I possibly be happy about the death of another human being, even if he was a bad person? Everyone, even Osama, is a human being, and we should never rejoice in the death of a fellow man:”

Then a few years later, Margaret Thatcher died. And on my Facebook wall – made of these same “intelligent, reasoned, and thoughtful” people – the most common response was to quote some portion of the song “Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead”. Another popular response was to link the videos of British people spontaneously throwing parties in the street, with comments like “I wish I was there so I could join in”. From this exact same group of people, not a single expression of disgust or a “c’mon, guys, we’re all human beings here.”I gently pointed this out at the time, and mostly got a bunch of “yeah, so what?”, combined with links to an article claiming that “the demand for respectful silence in the wake of a public figure’s death is not just misguided but dangerous”.

And that was when something clicked for me.

You can talk all you want about Islamophobia, but my friend’s “intelligent, reasoned, and thoughtful people” – her name for the Blue Tribe – can’t get together enough energy to really hate Osama, let alone Muslims in general. We understand that what he did was bad, but it didn’t anger us personally. When he died, we were able to very rationally apply our better nature and our Far Mode beliefs about how it’s never right to be happy about anyone else’s death.

On the other hand, that same group absolutely loathed Thatcher. Most of us (though not all) can agree, if the question is posed explicitly, that Osama was a worse person than Thatcher. But in terms of actual gut feeling? Osama provokes a snap judgment of “flawed human being”, Thatcher a snap judgment of “scum”.

I started this essay by pointing out that, despite what geographical and cultural distance would suggest, the Nazis’ outgroup was not the vastly different Japanese, but the almost-identical German Jews.

And my hypothesis, stated plainly, is that if you’re part of the Blue Tribe, then your outgroup isn’t al-Qaeda, or Muslims, or blacks, or gays, or transpeople, or Jews, or atheists – it’s the Red Tribe.

And as Charles Krauthammer said over a decade ago, “To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.” Which is why Boing Boing would rather be trapped in PC purgatory with their fellow leftists than know that there’s someone on the right willing to defend them, as this round-up of tweets at Twitchy.com illustrates.

Have fun storming each others’ castles, fellas — as you discover the hard way Jonathan Chait’s recent warning to his fellow leftists that PC was devouring them:

Over a decade ago when he first proposed it, I balked at conservative blogger/book reviewer Orrin Judd’s thesis that “All Comedy is Conservative,” but it’s becoming truer and truer every day. And as John Birmingham in the Sydney Morning Herald wrote on the topic in 2006, “By establishing an exclusion zone around a whole category of topics that are ripe for exploitation by comics because of the very tensions they create, the left abandons the field to the enemy and often confuses itself over just who are its friends and who are its foes.” That sounds like a pretty concise foreshadowing of today’s meltdown by Boing Boing.

But heck, these days, free speech itself is becoming exclusively the purview of conservatives as well.

That’s not likely to end well.

In the meantime, salute!

Does There Have To Be a Winner?

April 17th, 2015 - 11:45 am

The obligatory link to Britt McHenry and “The obligatory ‘ESPN reporter acts like an A-hole to parking attendant’ clip,” as Allahpundit described it yesterday at Hot Air:

1. She really is very nasty to the attendant. Sample quote: “Maybe if I was missing some teeth they would hire me, huh?”

2. The video’s carefully and conveniently clipped so that you can’t hear what the attendant says.

3. There’s reason to believe that extreme upset at this particular towing company is justified, even if the personal nastiness towards the attendant is not.

4. As I write this, as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, an online mob is forming to ensure that McHenry receives her Comeuppance. And odds are very, very good that that Comeuppance will be even nastier than McHenry herself was. I could write more about that but you’re better off reading this pitch-perfect Clickhole parody of outrage mobs instead. Says Lachlan Markay, “The Internet: defining people by their worst moments since 1996.”

To sate the mob, McHenry has been suspended by ESPN for a week, though as Sonny Bunch writes at the Washington Free Beacon, “You’ll note that we haven’t seen an unedited version of the interaction between McHenry and the woman she so colorfully insulted. Gee. Odd. I wonder why that is.”

Jonathan Last of the Weekly Standard knows.  He describes himself as being on “#TeamBritt” if only because of how awful the sort of company who towed McHenry’s car likely is:

A couple weeks later, the company started towing another car from the HOA lot, which also had a properly displayed sticker. But this time the owner came out and confronted the tow-truck diver as he was in the act. The guy refused to put the car down–he insisted that “company policy” dictated that once a car was hitched to the truck, it could not be released for any reason. They nearly came to blows; fortunately someone had called the cops and the police showed up and forced the tow-truck driver to release the car, telling him that was he was doing was essentially stealing.

Our HOA killed the towing contract at our next meeting.

So maybe Britt McHenry was being unwarrantedly abusive and vile. Or maybe she was responding to some deeply unpleasant people who had caused her material harm with total impunity.

But the Internet outrage mob must be fed! All of the Pavlovian elements are here: Young attractive pampered television journalist shouting the worst insults to a clerk earning much less for her efforts and likely working much harder (no matter how loathsome her employers might be). But wait:

 

 

Naturally, the pitiful leftwing shell of a publication that once was the Atlantic and more recently home of the infamous pro-Scientology infomercial, sides with both the Internet mob and “the Upsides of a Surveillance Society.” No, really:

Yes, there are panoptical elements to all that. Yes, we should seriously consider—and debate, and perhaps even fear—what those elements will do to us, as a messy human collective. But one of the positive aspects of the presence of all those cameras—all these devices, there to capture not just our beautiful children and our sumptuous meals, but also our worst and pettiest and most immoral moments—is a basic one: Terrible behavior, whether cruel or violent or something in between, has a greater possibility than it ever has before of being exposed. Just as Uber tracks ratings for both its drivers and its users, and just as Yelp can be a source of shaming for businesses and customers alike, technology at large has afforded a reciprocity between people who, in a previous era, would have occupied different places on the spectrum of power.

Which can, again, be a bad thing—but which can also, in McHenry’s case, be an extremely beneficial one. It’s good that her behavior has been exposed. It’s good that her story going viral might discourage similar behavior from other people. It’s good that she has publicly promised “to learn from this mistake.” Britt McHenry is “in the news,” she scoffed to a service worker a couple of weeks ago. Now she’s in the news in another way. And that’s because of a thing that doesn’t discriminate between the thin and the fat, the rich and the poor, the famous and the anonymous, the kind and the cruel: a well-placed camera.

Break out the Victory Gin and say cheers to the two-way telescreen: Like Winston Smith, at long last, a journalist finally learns to love Big Brother. At least until he’s got an (R) after his name.

Obligatory Allahpundit-style exit quote:

— Sean Davis (@seanmdav) April 17, 2015

Update:

 

Don’t Ever Change Old Media, Part Deux

April 16th, 2015 - 10:02 pm

Merely a semi-ironic updating of this old chestnut, a button worn by a Washington Post/Newsweek employee at the 1992 Republican Convention that said “Yeah, I’m With the Media. Screw You:”

Don’t Ever Change, Old Media

April 16th, 2015 - 1:40 pm

“If a reporter and his newspaper know in advance — months in advance, as it turns out — that a man intended to undertake a stunt that could sow panic in the nation’s capital, are they obligated to alert law-enforcement authorities? And should they be faulted for not doing so until the last minute?,” Paul Farhi asks at the Washington Post regarding the Tampa Bay Times and proverbial “Florida Man” Doug Hughes.

Farhi writes that the Tampa Bay paper interviewed the professional mailman/amateur pilot last summer, who told them “he planned to breach restricted airspace and fly a small craft called a gyrocopter onto the lawn of the U.S. Capitol to call attention to the need for campaign finance reform.” Since that’s long been a lefty talking point, Hughes’ stunt is being treated as a happy funtime lightweight joke by the Post, the Tampa Bay Times, and other newspapers. Of course, if someone on the right had tried a similar reckless flight, the MSM’s outrage meters would universally be red-lined to Defcon One, and we’d be reminded of the potential for post-9/11 DC to go into lockdown mode and/or the risk of Hughes being shot out of the sky and/or killing someone if he crashed.

The Post’s Farhi writes:

Given the potential for chaos, however, the question is whether the paper should have done more, such as calling the Secret Service days in advance to alert officials that Hughes planned to enter restricted airspace with his one-man flying machine.

“We spent hours and hours talking about the ethics of this,” said Montgomery, who first encountered Hughes when the postal worker called him at work and told him his plans. “Ultimately, we felt comfortable that he was on the authorities’ radar and that he was not homicidal or suicidal. He had his plan down to a T. Is it our job to call attention to it?”

Actually, yes, say media ethicists.

“A news organization should be extremely knowledgeable of the potential harm” a stunt like this could cause, said Edward Wasserman, dean of the University of California at Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. “I really question their judgment. There is no end of the ways this could have gone wrong.”

* * * * * * *

Nevertheless, the Times made the wrong decision, said Fred Brown, a former longtime chairman of the Society of Professional Journalists’ ethics committee. “I think the newspaper had a responsibility to alert authorities” well in advance of Hughes’s takeoff. “There are too many things [the paper] didn’t know. Was he carrying an incendiary device or a weapon? There are many ways to weaponize [the aircraft] or create a danger.”

Wasserman points out that the Times, a recipient of 10 Pulitzer Prizes over the years, benefited from its own inaction: It released its story just as Hughes was making news, ensuring that readers would flock to its Web site to learn more about him. “As a news organization, you can’t be complicit in this,” he said.

C’mon, the Tampa Bay Times was just following the advice of the Old Gods of their profession, such as Peter Jennings and Mike Wallace, who like to think that when it comes to alerting authorities in the effort to potentially save lives, “No, you don’t have higher duty — you’re a reporter:”

Oh, and as for campaign finance reform — you go first, Hillary.

And praises Common Core, Sean Davis writes at the Federalist:

During her first official campaign event in Iowa earlier this week, former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton praised Common Core and referred to children’s education as a “non-family enterprise.” Clinton’s controversial statements about education, which were captured by C-SPAN, came in response to a question from a participant about how to offer a quality education throughout the U.S.

Just a reminder that Hillary’s “It Takes a Village” theme from the 1990s is her polite and folksy way of saying that in her socialist worldview, your children belong to the state, not to you.

In other Hillary news, as she likes to say, she’s exceedingly happy to “take things away from you on behalf of the common good.” And/or her own good. Does that include someone else’s handicapped parking spot?

(Perhaps though, owners of personal exoskeleton suits are granted exemptions under the ADA.)

Best. Code. Ever!

April 15th, 2015 - 12:01 pm

Some timely music from Reason TV’s Remy. Sample lyrics:

And we’ll dance all night, it’s the best code ever
Some folks pay a lot, others they pay never
And you’ll get tax breaks if you’re really clever
It’ll take so long, it’s the best code ever
They’ll be like “oh, oh no”
We’ll be like “yeah, yeah, yeah.”
We’ll be like “awww.”

You may have heard that all your info
on our systems can be hacked with ease
But rest assured if they don’t get them
they’ll be in the care of folks like these
Yes historians will all agree
among the greatest works in history

Note to the Washington Post and the L.A. Times, which are doing their best this month to restore the IRS’s already sullen reputation (good luck with that), he means it ironically.

“Pitiful: Al Sharpton can’t even get a hunger strike right,” Noah Rothman writes at Hot Air:

It is perfectly appropriate that those who are cheapening the moral authority of the hunger strike by invoking it in order to force the Senate to move forward with Loretta Lynch’s stalled nomination are also failing to even commit fully to the practice.

MSNBC host, political agitator, and noted tax evader Rev. Al Sharpton is organizing a hunger strike, “along with female civil rights leaders,” to compel the U.S. Senate to confirm Lynch as the next attorney general. They’re calling it the “Confirm Loretta Lynch Fast.”

“[T]he new tactic is designed in the mold of civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi and Cesar Chavez, organizers said,” a Politico report read. And that’s true, with one tiny exception: Those civil rights leaders actually starved themselves in a display of civil disobedience. Fortunately for them, modern day civil rights activists are not held to such a rigorous and inconvenient standard. According to Politico, “fasters will alternate days abstaining from food until Lynch is confirmed to replace Eric Holder at the Justice Department.”

It’s the return of the rolling hunger strike! We’ve seen this goofy tactic before, haven’t we? On the Fourth of July in 2006, then-Democrat mascot Cindy Sheehan (remember her?) staged an anti-Bush protest involving a few equally preening Hollywood friends, as Agence France-Presse reported at the time:

Other supporters, including Penn, Sarandon, novelist Alice Walker and actor Danny Glover will join a ‘rolling” fast, a relay in which 2,700 activists pledge to refuse food for at least 24 hours, and then hand over to a comrade.

As I wrote in response, I was so moved by their efforts, “I’m going on my own personal thrice-daily rolling hunger strike. That’s right: rather than just one random hunger strike once a year, I’ll eschew all solid foods from 9:00 AM until 12:00 PM. And from 1:00 PM until 5:00 PM. And then just to really stick it to the war-mongering imperialists, I’ll fast from 6:00 PM until 8:00 AM the following day.”

And I’m prepared to do the same every day once again, no matter what happens to the would-be attorney general. Fight the power, err, in this case, for the power, man!

Update: “I would be remiss, by the way, if I did not note that there’s a simple way to get Lynch’s nomination to go forward,” Moe Lane writes in response to Sharpton’s “hunger” “strike:”

Democrats can stop filibustering that anti-human trafficking bill that they’ve been blocking. Once that happens, business can continue. Of course, doing that may mean that fewer minority babies end up being aborted, but the Democratic party leadership can’t have everything that they want.

Meanwhile, Twitchy looks for synergy: “Imagine the weight loss if these hunger strikers would join forces with Michelle Obama’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign!”

Perhaps Weight Watchers and/or Gwyneth Paltrow should also get onboard. Or maybe Jamba Juice.

“A Project to Turn Corpses Into Compost,” the New York Times reports in chillingly straitlaced fashion:

The body of the tiny 78-year-old woman, gray hair falling over stiffened shoulders, was brought to a hillside at Western Carolina University still clad in a blue hospital gown and chartreuse socks.

She was laid on a bed of wood chips, and then more were heaped atop her. If all goes as hoped, the body will turn into compost.

It is a startling next step in the natural burial movement. Even as more people opt for interment in simple shrouds or biodegradable caskets, urban cemeteries continue to fill up. For the environmentally conscious, cremation is a problematic option, as the process releases greenhouse gases.

Armed with a prestigious environmental fellowship, Katrina Spade, a 37-year-old Seattle resident with a degree in architecture, has proposed an alternative: a facility for human composting.

The idea is attracting interest from environmental advocates and scientists. The woman laid to rest in wood chips is a first step in testing how it would work.

The article was written by someone at the Times named Catrin Einhorn. I assume she’s absolutely no relation to “Earth Day” co-founder Ira Einhorn, and the bad luck of the New York Times strikes the snake-bitten paper once again. This is after all, the publication that praised Bill Ayers the morning of September 11th, before the Islamofascist terrorist attacks took place. Once again, a macabre bit of synchronicity strikes the Gray Lady, when the journalist reporting on a story about human composting shares a last name with Ira Einhorn, who name equated radical environmentalism with the disposal of dead bodies decades ago, as Michelle Malkin wrote in 2001:

The facts are sickeningly familiar to Philly residents, but not to the rest of the nation. In the ’70s, Einhorn made a name for himself as a radical environmentalist and “counter-cultural” peacenik. He grew a ratty beard, stopped bathing, dubbed himself a “planetary enzyme,” spouted Marxism, and hogged the spotlight during the nation’s first Earth Day. Poets, scientists, hippies, New Agers, billionaire benefactors, and young women caught up in the haze of free love and free-flowing drugs all flocked to Einhorn.

One of those women, former Texas cheerleader and artist Holly Maddux, lived with Einhorn in the City of Brotherly Love. In the fall of 1978, she disappeared. Einhorn said she walked out and never came back. Few dared challenge the Flower Power guru who hobnobbed with the rich and powerful, lectured at Harvard, and traveled the world.

It took a year before cops opened a missing persons file on Maddux. Her family pressured law enforcement to investigate Einhorn. His neighbors complained of a foul stench and brown ooze seeping from his residence. Eighteen months after she went missing, detectives discovered her body stuffed and mummified inside a black steamer trunk hidden in Einhorn’s closet.

Maddux’s skull had multiple fractures and she had shrunk to less than 40 pounds. Experts say she was alive when she was forced into the trunk. Author Steven Levy wrote that when horrified cops informed Einhorn, who was waiting in his kitchen during the search, that the corpse looked like Maddux’s body, Einhorn coolly replied: “You found what you found.”

The peaceniks rushed to Einhorn’s side and insisted he was incapable of violence — let alone the monstrous evil that befell Maddux. A parade of liberal aristocrats lavished praise on the accused murderer at his bail hearing. And Einhorn had the best legal representative in town – former district attorney and soon-to-be-U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, who won an obscenely reduced bail for Einhorn of $40,000. Wealthy socialite Barbara Bronfman of the Seagram’s liquor empire put up the measly $4,000 bond needed to spring Einhorn out of jail in 1981 before trial.

Einhorn fled. While Maddux’s family grieved, he traipsed around Europe for 20 years (partly subsidized by Bronfman). Meanwhile, two former girlfriends came forward and testified that Einhorn had nearly killed them in separate, savage attacks. A Pennsylvania jury convicted Einhorn in abstentia for Maddux’s murder in 1993.

And of course, the notion of composting bodies instantly brings to mind the first radical environmentalists as well.

By the way, to return to our headline, isn’t everything so, so, problematic these days?

“Man featured in Hillary Clinton’s launch ad wants Democratic candidates to challenge Clinton in the primary,” Daniel Halper writes at the Weekly Standard:

REPORTER: “Attorney Sean Bagniewski was in the video along with his wife and his dog.”

REPORTER: “He says it was filmed a month and a half ago. And is he still eating the trash?”

BAGNIEWSKI: “He still is.”

REPORTER: “Bagniewski has been a Clinton fan since fifth grade. but he still hopes other Democrats get in the race, including former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley and former Virginia Senator Jim Webb. Do you want more Democratic candidates in the field?”

BAGNIEWSKI: “Yes. I think it’s better for the candidates, it’s better for the voters to get the whole array of opinions and I think it’s better for Iowa.”

Hillary sure can pick ‘em — we’ve seen this movie before, haven’t we?

Casey Knowles, a High School Senior in Washington state, recently discovered she was one of the sleeping children in Clinton’s controversial “Children” ad appearing prior to the Texas primaries.

Knowles, a supporter of Barack Obama was shocked that she had contributed to the national security message of a candidate that she passionately opposes.

When asked by The New Argument, this is what Knowles had to say about her appearance in Clinton’s ad:

“While I love Hillary, I would much rather hear Barack Obama’s voice at the other end of the phone at 3am.

In case you had forgotten. Speaking of memory loss, while the London Independent, the paper that would prefer you forget their infamous “Snowfalls Are Now Just a Thing of the Past” headline from 2000 isn’t known for their (intentional) humor or trolling, this is a pretty masterful job of front page design:

And certainly a far more subtle piece of trolling than Ezra’s Klein’s casually racist “typo:”

ezra-klein-4-14-15-1
You stay classy, young juicevoxers.

‘How to Make America Disappear’

April 14th, 2015 - 5:10 pm

Of course there has been a ‘libertarian country’ before,” Robert Tracinski writes at the Federalist.

“We’re it. Or at least we were, for roughly the first 150 years of our existence—which, far from being some sort of fairy tale or collective delusion, was probably the most successful period ever in the history of any nation.”

As Tracinski notes:

I’ve recently been seeing the revival of an odd line of argument I hear from the left now and again. In response to the launch of Rand Paul’s presidential campaign, for example, I heard it said that Paul’s vision for a much smaller government, for eliminating so many agencies and regulations, was a fantasy of a “libertarian country” that has never existed. The implication is that radically smaller government is a new idea that has never been tried.

Similarly, in response to my suggestion that maybe we should stop basing our government on massive, omnipresent coercion of the citizenry, the Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent replied:

Yeah, unstopped growth of socialist government usually ends, rather painfully for all concerned:


But I’m sure it will work this time.

Entirely unrelated tweets:

 

Ed Driscoll.com Regrets the Error

April 14th, 2015 - 1:22 pm

A year ago, in a post titled “Why Democrats Call Americans Racist,” we speculated:

As in the 2010 midterms, expect the madness from the left to ramp up exponentially between now and November. They’re just getting started.

(And then presumably some time between mid-November and the start of the new year, the left will begin declaring half of America sexist. Unexpectedly.)

We apologize for getting the timing wrong; ABC’s Cokie Roberts waited until yesterday to declare half of her network’s viewers to be sexist:

According to ABC’s Cokie Roberts, hints that Hillary Clinton may be unlikable can be traced back to sexism. The veteran journalist appeared on Good Morning America, Tuesday, to promote her new book, but the conversation veered into a discussion of 2016. Citing an unnamed poll, Roberts referenced “research that shows that a woman who is strong and powerful is seen as not friendly and empathetic.”

The journalist added, “Here we are in 2015…and we still have to deal with that.” She lamented, “[Clinton] is running against herself.” Roberts marveled, “She’s trying to figure out how to show people how she’s a warm and friendly person.”

Astonishingly, even NBC’s Andrea Mitchell can see what’s going on with with the media and Hillary, when asked by Luke Russert, who only has his NBC gig due to his father’s last name why the MSM is fawning over a woman who is only running for the presidency because she has her husband’s last name:

“What do you make of this rollout, the Scooby-Doo van going from New York to Iowa, just stopping at it seems random gas stations along the way?”

“This is their attempt to show her as the average person, relating to average everyday people as did her video, trying to show she can cross the country,” Mitchell responded, referring to Clinton’s 2016 announcement video.

“It’s a deliberate, very well-orchestrated attempt,” she continued. “Everybody in the media are being used in this regard.”

C’mon, for once, tell the truth DNC-MSM: Sure it feels dirty — but it’s that good, sexy warm kind of dirty, isn’t it, MSM?

Oh, and speaking of sexism — I don’t recall the MSM losing too much sleep over this in 2008:

 

Don’t Ever Change, CNN

April 14th, 2015 - 12:18 pm

Fidel Castro inspired CNN International, disgraced former CNN chief executive Eason Jordan told an apparently approving Harvard audience in 1999:

A longtime admirer of Fidel Castro, [Ted] Turner has called the former Cuban president “one hell of a guy.” In 2001 Turner told a class at Harvard Law School, “You’d like him [Castro]. He has been the leader of Cuba for 40 years. He’s the most senior leader in the world, and most of the people that are still in Cuba like him.”

Castro, in turn, holds Turner in high regard, so much so that the dictator was the inspiration behind the creation of CNN International. As CNN News Chief Executive Eason Jordan told his audience during a 1999 lecture at Harvard’s Nieman Foundation for Journalism:

“… Let me also thank Fidel Castro. In the earliest days of CNN, when CNN was meant to be seen only in the United States, the enterprising Fidel Castro was pirating and watching CNN in Cuba. Fidel was intrigued by CNN. He wanted to meet the person responsible. So Ted Turner, who at that point had never traveled to a Communist country or knowingly met a Communist, [went to Havana]. It was big deal for Ted and during the discussions Castro suggested that CNN be made available to the entire world. In fact it was that seed, that idea that grew into CNN International.”

Turner generally has been loath to condemn totalitarian tyrants such as Castro, a stark contrast to his frequent and passionate denunciations of President George W. Bush. When asked in 2000 whether he thought Saddam Hussein could accurately be described as evil, Turner said: “I’m not sure that I know enough to be able to answer that question.”

Which brings us to CNNi today:
cnn_praises_communist_cuba_4-14-15-1

As Iowahawk tweets, “Parody Is Dead”; one of his Twitter followers adds, “That thinking is a wonder of the age. They think Cubans are like animals in a zoo exhibit.”

Exactly. In 2004, Cuban-American blogger Val Prieto coined the phrase “Omnipotent Tourism Syndrome:”

What is O.T.S.?

The Omnipotent Tourist Syndrome? is a disease common among Americans that is caused by arrogance, egotism and non-chalance. Carriers show a penchant for obliviously overlooking the obvious while delighting themselves at the cost of others. Delerious OTS sufferers refuse to acknowledge their malady and will argue that it is their God given right as an American to travel freely about the world with little or no conscience or consequence. OTS people fequently hide behind their Bill of Rights and Constitution. Unfortunately, there is no cure for OTS nor is there any way to ease it’s symptoms. It is a disease which, no matter how much hard data and facts are introduced into the OTS sufferer, will not ease unless said sufferer finds a compass of morality and humanity.

And it was also in 2004 that Fox’s Roger Ailes gave the very best definition of CNNi to CSpan’s Brian Lamb — and today’s Tweet is a reminder that like Castro’s closed socialist regime nothing has changed at the network:

(And don’t even get CNN started on the glories of North Korea.)

Related: “Why Cuba Was, and Must Remain, on State Terror List,” from my PJM colleague David Steinberg.