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Ed Driscoll

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“Remember the protests (and riots) in Ferguson last summer? It looks like at least some of the protestors were told they would be paid to show up and now they’re upset the checks haven’t arrived yet,” Katie Pavlich writes at Townhall. “Weaselzippers has the full story and the screen shots showing “protestors” using the Twitter hashtag #cutthecheck in response to non-payment. Based on tweets, Organize Missouri is responsible for issuing payments:”

On May 14, protesters, upset with not being paid their promised checks for protesting, protested outside MORE, Missourians Organizing For Reform and Empowerment, an ACORN organization which had received funding through George Soros to fund the protests.

To understand how we got here, it’s worth flashing back a few decades. In 1970, Tom Wolfe’s publishers packaged his classic lengthy New York magazine “Radical Chic” article, on Leonard Bernstein allowing the Black Panthers to fundraise in his opulent Park Ave. duplex, as a double-feature with his lesser-known article “Mau-Mauing The Flak Catchers,” which captured seething leftist protests on the other end of the wealth spectrum in San Francisco. While it lacks the star power of “Radical Chic,” “Mau-Mauing” offers several key insights into what made the Great Society years and their aftermath hell for millions of Americans, and possibly the first appearance in print of the phrase “community organizing,” our current president’s erstwhile former occupation:

It was a truly adventurous and experimental approach [Johnson-era bureaucrats] had. Instead of handing out alms, which never seemed to change anything, they would encourage the people in the ghettos to organize. They would help them become powerful enough to force the Establishment to give them what they needed. From the beginning the poverty program was aimed at helping ghetto people rise up against their oppressors. It was a scene in which the federal government came into the ghetto and said, “Here is some money and some field advisors. Now you organize your own pressure groups.” It was no accident that Huey Newton and Bobby Seale drew up the ten-point program of the Black Panther Party one night in the offices of the North Oakland Poverty Center.

To sell the poverty program, its backers had to give it the protective coloration of “jobs” and “education,” the Job Corps and Operation Head Start, things like that, things the country as a whole could accept. “Jobs” and “education” were things everybody could agree on. They were part of the free-enterprise ethic. They weren’t uncomfortable subjects like racism and the class structure—and giving the poor the money and the tools to fight City Hall. But from the first that was what the lion’s share of the poverty budget went into. It went into “community organizing,” which was the bureaucratic term for “power to the people,” the term for finding the real leaders of the ghetto and helping them organize the poor.

And how could they find out the identity of these leaders of the people? Simple. In their righteous wrath they would rise up and confront you. It was a beautiful piece of circular reasoning. The real leaders of the ghetto will rise up and confront you … Therefore, when somebody rises up in the ghetto and confronts you, then you know he’s a leader of the people. So the poverty program not only encouraged mau-mauing it, it practically demanded it. Subconsciously, for administrators in the poverty establishment, public and private, confrontations became a ritual. That was the way the system worked. By 1968 it was standard operating procedure. To get a job in the post office, you filled out forms and took the civil-service exam. To get into the poverty scene, you did some mau-mauing. If you could make the flak catchers lose control of the muscles around their mouths, if you could bring fear into their faces, your application was approved.

And by 2014, Ferguson as a media event existed as pure kabuki for the network mini-cameras. (Never mind the innocent businesses looted and burned — the networks sure didn’t.) In August, NBC allowed Al Sharpton to jet out there to organize the protestors, which his network colleague Andrea Mitchell Orwellianly referred to as Sharpton being “on a peace mission.” The protestors which Sharpton had ginned up threw rocks as part of their “peace mission,” narrowly missing his network colleague Chris Hayes, who was on scene. Hayes took it all “unexpectedly” well — as  Larry O’Connor wrote at the Washington Free Beacon, “MSNBC Wouldn’t Be This Calm If Tea Party Protesters Threw Rocks at Their Hosts.” Camera crews working for MSNBC “endangered lives by shining its lights, spotlighting police officers in the crowd of Monday night’s violent racial protests,” the Daily Caller reported back then. CNN trotted out Spike Lee, last seen in 2012 attempting to publish the home address of George Zimmerman’s parents, who blurted on the air to Anderson Cooper, ”I just hope that things will really blow up if the people aren’t happy with the verdict of this upcoming trial.”

Lee got his wish, and then some, as we’ll explore right after the page break.

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Investor’s Business Daily looks back at Stephanopoulos’ early days, and how one of the Clintons’ young thugs transitioned to a media talking head:

But he really made his reputation in Bill Clinton’s 1991 campaign. In “The War Room,” a 1993 documentary of that race, Stephanopoulos comes across as politically ruthless. At one point, he menacingly tells someone on the phone: “I guarantee if you do this, you’ll never work in Democratic politics again.” He was 30 years old.

Once in the White House, Stephanopoulos became a spinmeister par excellence, dealing with Clinton’s so-called “bimbo eruptions” and the many other scandals that surfaced — Whitewater, Travelgate, Filegate, Nannygate, coptergate, and so on — too many to number.

When former FBI agent Gary Aldrich wrote “Unlimited Access,” an unflattering expose of the Clinton White House, Stephanopoulos attacked. He called Aldrich a “pathological liar” and, with others, pressured ABC’s “Nightline,” CNN’s “Larry King Live” and “Dateline NBC” to cancel Aldrich appearances.

Even liberal journalists came to distrust Stephanopoulos. As we noted in 1996, Clinton’s first press spokesman in 1992 was moved to another job within just months “because everyone in the White House press corps quickly learned not to believe a word he said.”

So how did Stephanopoulos the fact-challenged operative become Stephanopoulos the objective journalist?

A little tap dancing is all it took. After losing a bruising battle to become Clinton’s chief of staff, Stephanopoulos quit in 1996. The highly partisan aide “portrayed himself as nonpartisan after leaving the White House and was hired by ABC News in 1997 as a news analyst,” wrote Shirley Anne Warshaw in “The Clinton Years.”

In 1999, he completed his self-rehabilitation with a political confessional titled, “All Too Human: A Political Education.” In it, he offered mild criticisms of the Clintons, and bemoaned his own lost political innocence.

That did the trick. In 2002, he became anchor of ABC’s Sunday news program, “This Week.”

Ahh, the power of magical thinking among the corrupt: ABC likely came to trust Stephanopoulos as being “objective” in much the same way that Al Pacino’s mob boss trusted Donnie Brasco not to be a cop.

Related: “George Stephanopoulos’s Clinton Foundation Hypocrisy Is Staggering,” our own Victor Davis Hanson adds at the Corner. Read the whole thing.

The debris was still being cleared from last night’s Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia, which resulted in a a reported 140 injuries and seven deaths when the left began the cries of “more infrastructure spending!” Today, as Noah Rothman writes at Hot Air, “Hours after tragic train derailment, MSNBC ghoulishly uses it to advance a political agenda.” Because this is who they are, and that’s what they do:

In an awful tragedy, one particularly acute for New York City and Washington D.C. residents, an Amtrak train derailed on Tuesday night resulting in over 140 injuries and at least seven deaths. The bodies were still being collected when the hosts and guests of MSNBC’s Morning Joe appeared convinced that this tragedy could have been averted had the Congress passed massive spending measures aimed at repairing what Barack Obama contends is America’s “crumbling infrastructure.”

[Click over to Hot Air for the video]

In a compelling post, National Review’s Jonah Goldberg unloaded on the unfounded self-assuredness and the factually inaccurate assertions that characterized this segment. What’s more, he addressed the hideously ghoulish desire displayed this morning by these media figures to advance a political agenda on the heels of a bloody tragedy.

There’s this obsession, particularly on the East Coast, with moving lots of Americans around by train. The sophisticated Europeans do that, we should too. There’s so much know-nothingism at work here. In America we move stuff (i.e. freight) by rail and people by road (and plane). In Europe they do it the other way around. America’s freight rail system is the best in the world (which is why Warren Buffett keeps investing in it). The reasons for this arrangement have to do with population density, geography, etc. I’m not saying our passenger rail system couldn’t be better, particularly in the Northeast. But this idea that we’re falling behind China on infrastructure is ridiculous. Just because the Morning Joe crowd doesn’t care about our see the freight rail system, doesn’t mean we should obviously blow it up to turn it into a passenger rail system.

Goldberg’s post dismantled the pathology that compels partisans to insist that their pet cause would have prevented a heartbreaking disaster, even before an investigation into the incident has been conducted. These MSNBC personalities might have spared themselves quite a bit of embarrassment if they had checked NBC News’ website before launching into a diatribe loaded with familiar Democratic talking points. A source told NBC’s reporters on Wednesday morning that excessive speed, not America’s dated railway network, is most likely to blame for this tragedy.

The macabre instinct to politicize an ongoing tragedy has become a pattern for MSNBC hosts. In December of 2012, even while helicopters hovered over Sandy Hook Elementary School and ambulances raced to the scene of that horrible massacre, MSNBC host Alex Wagner consoled herself by noting that “hopefully” the shooting would provide Democrats with the “political capital” they need to pass new laws restricting gun ownership.

CNN is also quick to hop onboard this clown car, Ace writes:

Chris Cuomo has a textbook case of bias.

Previously, he’s dismissed speculating about possible terrorist involvement in murders claiming “no evidence” had yet been adduced to suggest that.

So he claimed, categorically, that it was improper to speculate about terrorist motive.

However, in the Amtrak case, without any evidence for it (and indeed mounting evidence against it) he gladly floats the speculation that allegedly low infrastructure spending was responsible for the derailment.

This is, as I say, a textbook form of bias, or, I should say, a textbook case of partisan behavior.

One important rule in any competition is this: What happens in ambiguous situations? I mean things like tie scores, but I also mean things like “What happens when replay review cannot conclusively establish what happened?”

Do you go with the original ruling, even if the replay suggests that’s wrong (while not conclusively demonstrating that)?

Because this is a breaking story, there are conflicting reports as to whether the engineer has talked to authorities after the crash. However, my colleague Stephen Kruiser spots a Philadelphia Inquirer story that claims he’s lawyered up for the upcoming investigation:

Investigators of Tuesday’s deadly Amtrak derailment say they are focusing on reports that the train was traveling more than twice the 50-mile-an-hour speed limit when it entered a sharp curve in Frankford.

An automatic train control system designed to prevent speeding was not in place where Amtrak Train 188 crashed, killing seven people and injuring more than 200.

The train’s engineer, who has not been identified, declined to give a statement to police investigators and left the East Detectives Division with an attorney, police commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said Wednesday.

And Stephen adds “In news that may or may not be related, a Philadelphia commuter train was struck by a projectile about twenty minutes before the Amtrak derailment and fairly close by.”

I’ll be curious to see what “projectile” ends up being. In the northeast corridor rocks being thrown at trains by vandals is a somewhat common phenomenon. (Hence the metal grills that covered many locomotive windshields operating in that region in the 1970s and ’80s.)

Related: While Twitter had many early updates on the train crash yesterday, including photos taken by passengers inside the passenger cars themselves, the desire for the mob to find fresh victims to shame resulted in this ghoulish incident that occurred immediately after the crash. As the London Daily Mail notes, “Washington National Opera violinist Jennifer Kim was among the 238 passengers” last night. She triggered the mob into full-blown BURN THE WITCH mode, when immediately after the crash, she tweeted, “thanks a lot for derailing my train. Can I please get my violin back from the 2nd car of the train?”

It’s very likely an ancient Stradivarius or similarly valuable instrument, and in any case, she was probably in shock from the crash. But the Twitter mob needs to be fed — and just as they did last week when the paper blamed Pam Geller for the Islamofascists who tried to kill her and other attendees over cartoon drawings, the London Daily Mail is blaming the victim’s actions for the Twitter mob that descended on her. Kim quickly deleted her Twitter account, adding to her stress just hours after surviving the derailment.

NBC: Where the Real Comedy is Backstage

May 12th, 2015 - 12:08 pm

 Kate — wait a minute. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’m the one who lost his head. Something you said got me thinking. You said something about artistic freedom. Perhaps that’s important. Perhaps there’s a place in commercial television for quality. For intelligently conceived, well-acted, inventive programs, programs that aren’t written for the lowest common denominator. And NBC could lead the way! NBC could be the network that puts these programs on the air!

… Nahhh.

—John Belushi as beleaguered then-NBC president Fred Silverman, with guest-host Kate Jackson, Saturday Night Live, February 24th, 1979.

Come back Fred, all is forgiven! Flash-forward to 2015, where on Sunday, Entertainment Weekly noted that “There’s not much funny about NBC’s new fall schedule,” at the formerly “Proud as a Peacock” network:

After struggling to launch new comedy hits for years, the broadcaster will relegate sitcoms to only one hour per week next season—and that hour is on Fridays, an evening that’s traditionally the lowest-rated weekday for networks. One comedy is the returning series Undateable (which will have all-live episodes for its third season), and the second is new couples sitcom People Are Talking, starring Mark-Paul Gosselaar (see NBC’s fall schedule below; check out the new trailers here). In fact, according to TV historian Tim Brooks, this is the first time since 1978 that NBC has only programmed one hour of comedy in the fall.

The marginalization of half-hour programming by the network that once pioneered Must See TV marks a dramatic departure that also sees NBC doubling down on new and returning dramas. The move also reflects how other broadcasters have had difficultly launching new sitcoms this season as well, a fact that probably makes it tougher for NBC executives to envision their own success with the format.

As in England, when a nation’s overculture goes left, comedy and satire serve as the shock troops, but it’s only a matter of time before PC kills comedy. (Insert the trademarked Sandra Fluke “That’s not funny” glare here.)

Of course, it’s not like their grandfathered-in legacy comedy show still knows how to be funny, either, as Allahpundit writes:

Ace and David French think it was gutless of them not to actually draw Mohammed. Yeah, but even “South Park” can’t show Mohammed anymore; the last time Comedy Central allowed it was two months before 9/11, before minds on both sides of the blasphemy divide had been sharpened to the issue by the west’s new sense of vulnerability. Most media deal with self-censorship over Mohammed by avoiding the topic. SNL didn’t. One cheer for that. If we’re going to enforce Islamic blasphemy norms, let’s make sure we all understand that’s what we’re doing.

And let’s make sure everyone understands why. I agree with Ian Tuttle that the gag at the end here partially redeems the blank canvas.

After both contestants refuse to sketch even a line toward the clue, their teammate (Reese Witherspoon) still manages to guess correctly. The implication, I thought, is that the only subject for sketching that could elicit the paralysis the contestants exhibit is Muhammad, and Witherspoon’s character knows it — and so do the rest of us.

Actually drawing Muhammad might have been a defiant finger in the eye, true, but it would have garbled the subtle point, which is that Americans now willingly self-censor for fear of offending Islamic terrorists, and while we refuse to say that that is what we’re doing, everyone knows that’s what’s happening.

And with this sketch, Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels comes full circle. At the dawn of his series in 1975, he merely imported half his cast and musicians from his home country of Canada. This weekend, his show simply ripped off a Canadian sitcom to phone-in the above tepid sketch.

Hard to believe this ancient franchise once had real balls; but then, as one of its early writers liked to say, you can only be avant-garde for so long before you become garde.

Or Palace Guard, as with the rest of NBC.

But then, to catch glimpses the real fun at NBC, you have to peer backstage.

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Great Moments in Nihilism

May 11th, 2015 - 3:44 pm

Heh. Yes, they sure did:

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The Urban Dictionary defines the British word “blagger” (and yes, I reflexively typed it with an “o” before correcting myself) as a salesman “who could sell ice to the Eskimos.” The London Daily Mail reports, “A blagger pretended to be part of Leonardo DiCaprio’s entourage to get ringside at the ‘fight of the century’ and was even defended by Floyd Mayweather after he was rumbled by security:”

Steve Carruthers, 24, from Hull in East Yorkshire, put on his best suit and waited outside the MGM Grand Garden Arena ahead of Manny Pacquiao and Mayweather’s big fight on Saturday.

When he spotted the A-list actor he followed behind his team straight into the VIP bar, where he mingled with the likes of Christian Bale, Donald Trump, Michael Keaton and Paris Hilton.

Even after the fight he thought he’d try his luck once more in a bid to meet the fighting legends and joined journalists filtering past security teams and waiting outside their dressing rooms.

But the business graduate, who is on a six-week trip to the U.S., was caught out by the MGM security team when he asked Mayweather for an autograph.

He thought his luck was up but to Mr Carruthers’ surprise Mayweather turned to one of the guard’s and said ‘I’ve got him’, before inviting him to his press conference and posing for photos.

It’s all fun and games when you’re backstage and partying with the Hollywood stars, until you have to apologize the next day to Raquel Welch.

‘We’re Addicted To Judgment Porn’

April 27th, 2015 - 11:47 am

“Social media networks have become the number-one distributors of judgment porn, where people get high on another person’s low,” Hans Fiene writes at the Federalist:

In November of last year, when hackers leaked a number of Sony co-chair Amy Paschal’s emails, we tweeted screen shots of the damning correspondence because we found perverse enjoyment in her humiliation over typing what we never would have typed. Last week, when footage surfaced of ESPN reporter Britt McHenry berating a tow lot employee, we hashtagged our insistence that ESPN can the uppity blond because, not perceiving the irony, we won’t stand to look at pathetic, inferior human beings like her.

A couple days later, we woke up bored with McHenry and pointed our wagging fingers at Ben Affleck, insisting that he was a typical Hollywood elitist for pressuring a PBS show not to air the rather humiliating piece of information that one of his ancestors was a slave owner.

This is the general formula for the distribution and consumption of judgment porn: Person A does something he or she shouldn’t have done and that transgression is somehow made public. We, then, unable to control our desire for satisfaction at his or her expense, make that humiliation even more public and justify doing so with feigned outrage and how-dare-they-isms. Then, after the high of moral superiority wears off, we look for another humiliated subject to feast upon, and we begin the cycle again.

Feasting On Other People’s Shame

At its core, judgment porn is no different than the traditional kind. Just as we know that countless women who have left the porn industry would give anything to scrub the Internet clean of the sins they committed during their years of brokenness, we also knew that Paschal would have done anything to cover up the record of those humiliating emails. But we still refused to avert our eyes because, like all forms of pornography, it felt good to get high on someone who had fallen so low.

Just as we know that a girl who texts naked pictures to her boyfriend wouldn’t have done so if she’d have known the entire school would see them, we also knew that McHenry never would have insulted the appearance and education of that tow lot employee if she’d known that her words would end up on YouTube. But we still publicized her sin all the more because, in that moment, she was the judgment porn equivalent of a dirty skank and dirty skanks don’t deserve to have their sins covered.

Just as teenage boys are ready for a new object of lust ten seconds after feasting upon the shame of the latest girl to show up naked in their texts, so the judgment porn addicts will be ready to find a new target immediately after decrying the last one. Affleck’s perfectly understandable family-whitewashing will be forgotten the next time a hot mic catches someone body-shaming Kelly Clarkson or crassly body-affirming Kim Kardashian, whichever transgression appeals to us more that day. Then we’ll lustfully share a video of people who didn’t know they were being filmed doing something racist before lasciviously hashtagging our outrage at someone who kicked a dog on a security camera.

I’m not sure if “judgment porn” is the best phrase, but that’s probably my own bias after watching how the has tacked the word “porn” onto just about everything — guitar forums routinely describe photos of expensive vintage instruments as “guitar porn,” photos of expensive shoes have been described as “shoe porn,” and I’m sure every hobbyist/collector can find similar examples in his own field of interest. But there’s no doubt that the more self-aware of the mob on the Internet addicted to “shaming” will themselves look back on this era with a fair amount of shame themselves for their actions.

At least one hopes. That is, assuming that this isn’t all the forerunner of the Left going into full French Revolution/Kristallnacht mode, of course.

Related: “Gay Businessman Who Hosted Ted Cruz Event Terrorized: ‘I am shaken to my bones by the e-mails, texts, postings and phone calls of the past few days. I made a terrible mistake.’” — “If we weren’t mistaken, we’d think liberals are intolerant.”

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:

 

So just to confirm, the left have had a near-lock on Big Journalism since the days when Walter Cronkite and Daniel Schorr smeared Barry Goldwater as a crypto-Nazi on the air at CBS in 1964. And journalists such as Janet Cooke of the Washington Post, Jayson Blair of the New York Times, and ahem, Stephen Glass of the New Republic have all been caught pulling false stories out of their Smith-Coronas. But of course for 24-year old Elizabeth S. Bruenig, that’s all the right’s fault:

 

Gee, wait’ll she discovers Upton Sinclair.

I’m not sure when blowing up innocent individuals became a “right wing tactic” — after all, in 2013, TNR was urging Obama to roll in the tanks and blow up Congress itself to end the budget sequester:


In a 2013 column in the Wall Street Journal, Marty Paretz, who kept TNR relatively sane under his ownership, bemoaned how badly his publication had fallen since he left…

Like many readers of the New Republic, I didn’t at first recognize the most recent issue of the magazine. The stark white cover was unlike anything the New Republic ran during my 35 years as the owner. Having read the cover story, I still don’t recognize the magazine that I sold in 2012 to the Facebook zillionaire Chris Hughes.

“Original Sin,” by Sam Tanenhaus, purported to explain “Why the GOP is and will continue to be the party of white people.” The provocative theme would not have been unthinkable in the magazine’s 99-year history, but the essay’s reliance on insinuations of GOP racism (“the inimical ‘they’ were being targeted by a spurious campaign to pass voter-identification laws, a throwback to Jim Crow”) and gross oversimplifications hardly reflected the intellectual traditions of a journal of ideas. What made the “Original Sin” issue unrecognizable to this former owner is that it established as fact what had only been suggested by the magazine in the early days of its new administration: The New Republic has abandoned its liberal but heterodox tradition and embraced a leftist outlook as predictable as that of Mother Jones or the Nation.

…And that was before last December’s bloodletting, resulting in the current brainless Vox-BuzzFeed-like iteration of TNR.

Speaking of which, I’m looking forward to Bruenig explaining how that’s all the fault of the right as well.

“A jetliner operated by Lufthansa’s Germanwings plunged from the sky and crashed Tuesday in a remote area of the Alps in southern France — and all 150 people aboard the Barcelona-to-Duesseldorf flight were believed dead,” the New York Post reports:

Flight 9525 took off from Barcelona at 9:55 a.m. local time and crashed roughly an hour later in a rugged region of snowpacked peaks and rough terrain, said French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet.

Photos show a scene of shocking devastation, with the jet’s fuselage smashed into smithereens and smoking debris scattered across a mountainside as rescuers search the area.

Gilbert Sauvan, of the local council, said the largest piece of debris was the size of a car.

“The plane is disintegrated,” he told Les Echos newspaper.

Christophe Castaner, the mayor of nearby Forcalquier, told France Info that “One of the black boxes has been found,” but the cause of the crash remained a mystery, as the pilots did not issue a distress call.

CNN will likely be switching into obsessive coverage over this story for the next several days; at Hot Air, Jazz Shaw asks, “Why are we so fascinated with plane crashes?”

We lose far more people to other travel related problems all of the time. Globally speaking, there are an average of 1.3 million people killed in automobile accidents each year, or nearly 3,300 per day. In the United States alone we average slightly more than one hundred car crash deaths every single day… two thirds as many as are presumed lost in this latest airline catastrophe. And yet we don’t feel that same type of fear when we get into our cars as we do when the engines ramp up on the tarmac and our plane begins to accelerate toward takeoff.

I think it’s just something hardwired into our biological circuitry. There’s something uniquely terrifying about hurtling through the air 35K feet above Mother Earth. It’s an unnatural condition, and one which we never manage to entirely ignore because we are landlocked creatures by nature. I still recall an only half joking comment my father made in the weeks before I left for Navy boot camp on this subject. He was an Army man and had little use for the other branches. When asked, he said that you could have a choice of riding in a Jeep, on a ship or in a plane. “If my Jeep breaks down,” he said, “I can get out and walk.”

That’s probably the root of it right there. We know in a logical sense that our car might be in a fatal accident. But we also know that if we survive the initial crash, there’s a fair chance that we might get out and walk or crawl away from the danger. When the plane goes into a dive from five miles up there are no such comforting thoughts in our minds.

Not to mention, after 9/11, our first thought is — what caused the crash? As for that, watch this space.

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We’ll get to the above 1972 video of Walter Cronkite in just a moment, but first, let’s set the stage. Return with us now to the end of the 1960s and the dawning of the craptacular ’70s. As Power Line’s Steve Hayward wrote in the first volume of The Age of Reagan, environmentalism — then simply called “ecology” — became an obsession of the left shortly after President Nixon took office, eclipsing both anti-Vietnam war and pro-civil rights protests:

Writing in Science magazine, Amitai Etzioni of Columbia University dismissed ecology as a “fad,” and thought that “the newly found environmental dangers are being vastly exaggerated.” Even if not exaggerated, Etzioni thought the environment was the wrong priority: “Fighting hunger, malnutrition, and rats should be given priority over saving wildlife, and improving our schools over constructing waste disposal systems.”

This criticism was mild compared to the blasts that came from black civil rights leaders. The most bitter attack came from Richard Hatcher, the black mayor of Gary, Indiana: “The nation’s concern for the environment has done what George Wallace was unable to do—distract the nation from the human problems of black and brown Americans.” Whitney Young of the National Urban League was equally distressed: “The war on pollution is one that should be waged after the war on poverty is won. Common sense calls for reasonable national priorities and not for inventing new causes whose main appeal seems to be in their potential for copping out and ignoring the most dangerous and pressing of our problems.”

And being a good doctrinaire liberal, CBS’s Walter Cronkite was quick to move with the times and ride the fad. As left-leaning historian Douglas Brinkley noted in his 2012 biography of Cronkite:

A CBS Reports segment in September 1962 had Eric Sevareid famously interviewing the literary biologist Rachel Carson about the perils of the insecticide DDT at her home in Silver Spring, Maryland. Cronkite, at the time, had been focused on the Earth-orbiting flight of the second Mercury launch. But now that Neil Armstrong had walked on the Moon, Cronkite sensed that ecology would soon replace space exploration as the national obsession. CBS News producer Ron Bonn recalled precisely when Cronkite put the network on the front line of the fight. “ It was New Year’s Day, 1970, and Walter walked into the Broadcast Center and said, ‘God damn it, we’ve got to get on this environmental story,’ ” Bonn recalled. “When Walter said ‘God damn it,’ things happened.”

What could go wrong?

Cronkite pulled Bonn from nearly all other CBS duties for eight weeks so he could investigate environmental degradation. He wanted a whole new regular series on the CBS Evening News—inspired by Silent Spring, the philosophy of René Dubos, and those amazing photos of Earth taken by the Apollo 8 astronauts. The CBS Evening News segments were to be called “Can the World Be Saved?” “We wanted to grapple first with air pollution, the unbreathable air,” Bonn recalled. “But then we wanted to deal with the primary underlying problem, which was overpopulation.”

So, eugenics, then. And then a quick detour into global cooling. As Julia Seymour writes today at NewsBusters, “And That’s the Way It Was: In 1972, Cronkite Warned of ‘New Ice Age:’”

The late Cronkite is considered a “legendary journalist” and a pioneer in the field, which is why Marc Morano, publisher of Climate Depot, said this footage was so important. Morano is a former staff member of U.S. Senate Environment & Public Works Committee and producer of the upcoming global warming documentary Climate Hustle, set for release later in 2015.

“Global warming activists have claimed for years that the 1970s global cooling scare never existed. They have tried to erase the inconvenient history which ironically blamed extreme weather like tornadoes, droughts, record cold and blizzards on global cooling,” said Morano.

Morano told MRC Business, “But now — unearthed from bowels of media archives — comes none other than Walter Cronkite reporting on fears of a coming ice age in 1972. Having Cronkite’s image and face discussing global cooling fears reveals the fickleness of the climate change claims.”

“Climate fear promoters switched effortlessly from global cooling fears in the 1970s to global warming fears in the 1980s. In the present day, the phrase ‘global warming’ has lost favor in favor of ‘climate change’ or ‘global climate disruption’ or even ‘global weirding,’ Morano added. “’Settled science’ has never seemed so unsettled.”

By the way, let’s end with this inadvertently telling paragraph from Brinkley (his book, meant to celebrate Cronkite, raised many questions about the man who spent much of his career posing as Mr. Objective):

In January 1970, the promise of a new environmentalism brought about the end of [Cronkite’s future-themed series] The Twenty-First Century (which had succeeded The Twentieth Century in June 1967). No longer would Cronkite tolerate Union Carbide (a major polluter) as a sponsor. The Texas-based Fortune 500 company was the enemy of “Earthrise,” he told Bonn. At Cronkite’s insistence, CBS canceled The Twenty-First Century to coincide with the debut of the “Can the World Be Saved?” segments.

Yes, the crank science of the 1970s brought an end to the heroic phase of Kennedy and Johnson’s space program and its dalliance with embracing the 21st century a few decades early. And along with the collapse of the Great Society, which disillusioned the left when it tried to be all things to all voters, the optimism of the postwar 1950s and the first half of the 1960s would fade away, replaced by a grim nihilistic permanent malaise.

Exit question: Scott Pelley, the current incarnation of Cronkite on CBS has publicly likened those who question the “settled science” of global warming to Holocaust deniers, asking, “If I do an interview with Elie Wiesel, am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?”

What would he say if he ran into the 1972 iteration of Walter Cronkite?

“When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong,” Clarke wrote over half a century ago. Back in 1995, in an article by 1990s pop culture technology maven Clifford Stoll a few years after the World Wide Web began making the Internet accessible to all, Newsweek predicted:

Consider today’s online world. The Usenet, a worldwide bulletin board, allows anyone to post messages across the nation. Your word gets out, leapfrogging editors and publishers. Every voice can be heard cheaply and instantly. The result? Every voice is heard. The cacophany more closely resembles citizens band radio, complete with handles, harrasment, and anonymous threats. When most everyone shouts, few listen. How about electronic publishing? Try reading a book on disc. At best, it’s an unpleasant chore: the myopic glow of a clunky computer replaces the friendly pages of a book. And you can’t tote that laptop to the beach. Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure.

Sure, Stoll completely missed the Kindle, but note the elitist snark at Citizen’s Band radio, which in many ways anticipated the democratized media that was just around the corner — in the early 1980s, CompuServe launched its online chat format, which they dubbed “CB Chat” to make the format instantly recognizable. (Which sold me — I was one of its first users, logging in on TRS-80 Model I and Hayes modem.)

Curiously, the seemingly pie-in-the-sky ATT commercials narrated by Tom Selleck, which first aired a few years prior to the above article, actually got far more right about the technology that was to come. Only the Picturephone, long an obsession of Bell/AT&T hasn’t happened yet:

There are some aspects of the Internet that Stoll would get right — its Jacobin-like mob mentality (two words: Justine Sacco) and its negative impact on retail business. (I love Amazon, MP3s and the Kindle; I miss ubiquitous local book and record stores.) But then, much of the problem with the article stems from its title: “Why the Web Won’t Be Nirvana.” Did anybody think it would be? It was obvious it would be radically transformative, as futurists such as Clarke and Alvin Toffler had predicted decades prior to the Web’s launch), but nirvana? Not likely when human emotions are involved, which like any communications medium, the Internet simply transfers elsewhere.

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As Mark Halperin noted on the Today Show in 2012, “the media is very susceptible to doing what the Obama campaign wants.”

And how! Just ask Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin, as seen in the above tweet.

Just as a refresher, Halperin, in the midst of his earlier stint at Time magazine*, during a rare moment of clarity in November of 2013 when asked by an interviewer about “Death Panels” in Obamacare, responded unhesitatingly, “It’s built into the plan. It’s not like a guess or like a judgment. That’s going to be part of how costs are controlled.”

He’s now back to using schoolyard epithets against one possible GOP successor in the White House. Or as Mark Steyn writes in “O Beautiful, For Specious Guys…”

The US media have had a fit of the vapors over Rudy Giuliani’s suggestion that Barack Obama does not love America. As the Instapundit says, their reaction suggests that Giuliani hit a nerve. For my own part, I am way beyond that. By the way, I’m growing rather weary of the cheap comparisons of Obama with Neville Chamberlain. The British Prime Minister got the biggest issue of the day wrong. But no one ever doubted that he loved his country. That’s why, after his eviction from Downing Street, Churchill kept him on in his ministry as Lord President of the Council, and indeed made Chamberlain part of the five-man war cabinet and had him chair it during his frequent absences. When he died of cancer in October 1940, Churchill wept over his coffin.

So please don’t insult Neville Chamberlain by comparing him to Obama. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, because conspiracies are generally a comforting illusion: the real problem with Obama is that the citizens of the global superpower twice elected him to office. Yet one way to look at the current “leader of the free world” is this: If he were working for the other side, what exactly would he be doing differently?

That’s a question that everyone in the MSM should be asked.

After watching the brain of Dana Milbank of the Washington Post similarly explode like a character in Scanners, Jazz Shaw of Hot Air writes, “Milbank should at least be honest enough to wear a ‘Ready for Hillary’ t-shirt when he goes to work every day if this is how the upcoming election analysis is going to be handled.”

Well yes, hence the rather skewed ratio of stories lambasting a retired mayor’s remarks about a lame duck president versus the tiny amount of coverage of a front-running candidate’s funding “from questionable foreign governments and shady billionaires—something even Clinton’s defenders admit is a problem,” as Andrew Stiles writes at Hillary’s bête noire, the Washington Free Beacon.

At the start of the week, John Steele Gordon of Commentary wrote, “Republicans Should Declare War on the Mainstream Media:”

What should Boehner do? I think he, and every Republican, should do what George H.W. Bush did to Dan Rather as the 1988 presidential race was heating up: eat the mainstream media alive. They are the enemies of the Republican Party and should be treated as such. Stop trying to curry favor because you won’t get it. Bush laid a trap for Rather, insisting on the interview being live so it couldn’t end up on the cutting room floor. It totally flustered Rather, greatly energized Bush’s campaign, put the kibosh on his too-much-a-nice-guy image, and helped mightily to propel him to the White House. Make mainstream media bias the issue. Throw loaded questions and those premised on liberal assumptions back in their faces. Accuse them of bias when they are biased. Don’t be Mr. Nice Guy.

Why have the Republicans been such wimps when dealing with the media? The reason, I think, is that the Republicans were the minority party in this country from 1932 to 1994. The Democrats held the House for all but four of those 62 years and the Senate for all but ten of those years. In far too many ways, the Republicans still act as the minority party, begging for crumbs from the media. But they now hold more political offices, at both the federal and state levels, than at any time since the glory days of Calvin Coolidge. Instead they should, in dealing with the media, emulate Joan Crawford, at least as depicted by Faye Dunaway in Mommy Dearest, dealing with the board of Pepsi Cola (warning, she doesn’t use ladylike language).

After driving Halperin, Milbank, Ron Fournier and countless other Hillary apparatchiks into apoplexy, Rudy may have just hit on the poison pill to neutralize much of the MSM from within. Or at least have a “Hillary, Coordinate! Hillary, Coordinate!” pause while waiting for new programming from the Borg Queen, to mangle Star Trek metaphors.

Update: At the Pocket Full of Liberty Website, Jay Caruso sums it up: “In Obama [the media sees] themselves. What he wants to carry out is what they want and they are going to do what they can to make sure these last two years he gets to do just that, the consequences be damned.” Or to paraphrase Caruso’s headline, from the MSM’s perspective, when you attack Obama (or Hillary), you’re attacking us.

This was self-evident in 2008…

…But I’m honestly surprised to see the MSM not distance themselves a bit seven years later.

* Mea culpa: When I wrote the first draft of this post, I had forgotten that last year, Halperin jumped from Time to Bloomberg. Of course, we shouldn’t forget that a decade ago during his salad days at ABC, Halperin was more than a little susceptible himself to doing what the Kerry campaign wanted.

Marie Harf, Spokesbarbie for the State Department, after spending yesterday typing the equivalent of “nu-uhhhhh” yesterday over and over again on Twitter, then dropped by Wolf Blitzer’s CNN show to thumb her nose at her critics and pout that, as Noah Rothman writes at Hot Air, “My comment about ISIS needing jobs was ‘too nuanced’ for you boors:” 

When Wolf Blitzer observed that the poverty-breeds-terrorism theory is hopelessly flawed and that high-profile attackers like Osama bin Laden and Mohamed Atta were relatively comfortable and privileged, Harf declined to acknowledge his point. Though she issued an emphatic “absolutely” so as to convey that she was, in fact, listening to Blitzer and understood the words that were coming out of his mouth, she instead plunged into a pre-canned attempt at damage control as her response:

“If we looked around the world and say long-term we cannot kill every terrorist around the world nor should we try, how do you get at the root causes of this?” she asked. “Look, it might be too nuanced of an argument for some like I’ve seen over the past 24 hours some of the commentary out but it’s really the smart way for Democrats, for Republicans, military commanders, our partners in the Arab world think we need to combat it.”

There’s really no other way to interpret that. If you don’t think that statements like “we can’t kill our way out of this war” and asserting that ISIS militants “lack opportunity for jobs” oversimplifies the crisis in the Middle East, Harf does not believe that you are her intellectual equal.

In 2006, when the future president was watching his campaign team being assembled for him, he told one of hischief operatives, “I think I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” And now with the B-team that invariably replaces an administration in its twilight, he has finally assembled the colleagues he deserves. And ISIS permitting, two more fun-filled years to go!

Oh and speaking of CNN and nuance:

Update: “More Marie Harf: I notice people don’t talk much about Joseph Kony’s Christian terror group anymore,” Allahpundit adds. “Another reason you don’t hear much about Kony is because — ta da — Harf’s boss hasn’t had much success in catching him.”

Still though, as I’m sure FDR would have told Congress on December 8th, 1941, it’s the hashtag that counts, right?

Law & Order: SVU Takes On #GamerGate

February 13th, 2015 - 6:11 pm

What could go wrong? Pretty much everything, Forbes’ Erik Kain writes:

One thing leads to another and pretty soon SVU has uncovered a Serious Terrorist Organization of some sorts, made up of gamers who can’t tell the difference between games and reality and want both women and social justice out of gaming. Yes, we hear this sort of thing on Twitter. Social Justice Warriors are the enemies of many in the so-called #GamerGate movement. This has yet to reach ISIS levels of terrorism outside of the inflammatory tweets of some industry insiders.

So these gamers kidnap a high profile female game developer, Raina Punjabi, during her game launch (for  her fictional Amazonian Warriors RPG, which is a non-violent game because of course women who play games don’t like violence!)

The Gamers are super high-tech. They use the “Darknet” to make sure everything they do is totally untraceable. Scary! And they post their awful videos to Redchanit which, I mean, come on people is this for real?

(Alas, redchanit.com and redchanit.org are already registered. Update: By NBC last October….)

Evil gamers in masks kidnap Punjabi, post videos of her being assaulted, make her confess to all sorts of horrible things—here it’s very much Gamers Are Worse Than ISIS territory—and many, many bad one-liners are uttered. It’s embarrassing and awful and wonderfully bad all at the same time. It’s the Reefer Madness of our generation.

Reefer Madness you say? Well, this is the TV series that railed against the horrors of Pepsi Madness in 2011 after all:

Davy’s Mother: Davy was 12 when he took his life. I tried to make him stop with the cola.  But he was addicted to it.
Det. Benson [slowly, with furrowed brow]: Soda made him kill himself.
Davy’s Mother: I collected all the research. High-fructose corn syrup can make you obese. And obesity can make you depressed.
Det. Benson: And depression can lead to suicide.

As I wrote back then, when Law & Order SVU seemed like the second coming of Jack Webb’s old Dragnet series from the 1960s, RC Cola is the flame, Mountain Dew is the fuse, Jolt Cola is the bomb. So don’t you try to equate marijuana with Coca-Cola, mister, not with me. And don’t even get me started on bottled water and air-conditioning, you capitalist Tea Party punk!

And don’t get ‘em started on TV chefs: As Matthew Sheffield wrote at NewsBusters in August of 2013, Law & Order: SVU aired an episode “in which a character based on Paula Deen kills a Trayvon Martin character.” And now video games. But then, the original Law & Order spent nearly 20 years depicting midtown Manhattan as a seething cauldron of Christian fundamentalism, and in its last season, a hotbed of conservative Tea Partiers.

As I wrote in an early Blogcritics post when its first DVD debuted in 2002, Law & Order was actually a fairly watchable police procedural for its first three or four seasons before it became an ever-expanding parody of itself.

Which is why I’d like to think Jerry Orbach is tuning in from somewhere in TV Heaven, shaking his head and muttering to himself, “I busted my a** for a decade saving this franchise after it was on the brink of cancellation, and this is what it’s become?

Update: Almost forgot this, after goofing on this line with my wife for the past two days:

Update (2/15/15): “The GamerGate Law & Order Episode Reveals Progressives As The New Architects of Moral Panic,” Allum Bokhari wrote yesterday at Breitbart London:

In the past, finger-wagging censoriousness tended to be driven by what was then called the “moral majority”, a large constituency of small-c social conservatives, often from strict Christian backgrounds. It was they who led boycotts of Monty Python and Kevin Smith movies, who accused Dungeons and Dragons of spreading Satanism, and who led campaigns against violent video games and music lyrics in the 1980s and 1990s. Virtually every moral panic of the late twentieth-century bore the fingerprints of the moral majority.

Today, that picture has changed dramatically. It was not conservatives, but progressive campaigners who championed the removal of Grand Theft Auto V from shelves in Australia. It was not conservatives, but progressive campaigners who banned a “corrupting” pop song on 20 campuses. And it is not conservatives, but progressive campaigners who are currently trying to whip up a boycott against Fifty Shades of Grey. 

In the world of gaming, we find the same pattern. The moral panic so starkly represented in Law & Order: SVU was not created by conservatives. Indeed, when conservatives have been involved, they have usually taken the side of gamers. Once again, it was driven almost exclusively by progressives and their cheerleaders in the media. Ordinary gamers, most of whom are moderates or liberals, now look to right-wing and libertarian media for fair coverage – an almost unimaginable position just a year ago.

Moral panic has once again returned to gaming. But, this time, it comes wearing neon hair dye, hoop earrings and plaid shirts, rather than blue rinses and Christian crosses. And people are starting to notice.

And they’re uploading their pushback…to the Dark Net!

“David Carr Doesn’t Think Brian Williams Should be Fired,” Ad Week reports on the veteran New York Times columnist:

The New York Times’ media columnist David Carr has weighed in on the Brian Williams drama. His take is essentially that Williams shouldn’t be fired because everyone lies, and Williams was only trying to live up to the standard that America has for a news anchor; a standard that is impossible to attain.

While Carr made some good points — everyone does lie and Williams does occupy a lose-lose role — he loses us when he gives his verdict. “I don’t know if Mr. Williams will lose his job,” wrote Carr. “I don’t think he should — his transgressions were not a fundamental part of his primary responsibilities.”

Actually, his transgressions are not only a fundamental part of his primary responsibilities, they are the only part of his primary responsibilities. His job is to tell the truth. Viewers trust that what Williams is telling them is correct.

Despite Williams’ efforts to become a celebrity outside of the anchor desk, in the old days, it was assumed by the public that even though the anchorman didn’t write all of his copy, he had enough experience and gravitas to shape the material loaded into his teleprompter by his staff. Cronkite was able to carry off that pose (and ultimately, it really was just a pose) based on his age, stentorian voice, and courtly manner; Dan Rather tried to feign the same level of Old Newsman Gravitas by posing with serious Albert Thurston suspenders. (And via safari and Barbour jackets when out in the field; this bit of “found video” from Harry Shearer, in which Rather and his production aides argue for 22 minutes(!) on whether the collar on Rather’s Aquascutum trenchcoat should be up or down during a remote feed is a camp classic.)

As with Hollywood, production titles in the TV industry are often wildly inflated, but Williams held himself out as the “managing editor” of NBC News, strongly implying that he more than just a handsome face reading a teleprompter. (And at least at the moment, still does; I assume, until the official word comes down from the Comcast boardroom.)

As David Zurawik wrote at the Baltimore Sun yesterday, “the dual title [that Williams] holds cuts to some of the core issues in the nightmare of credibility that he and NBC News now face:”

I know it has been merely an honorific for some network anchorpersons, like Katie Couric, and they have left running the newsrooms to others. But if the managing editor half of the title represents the journalistic demands of the job, while the anchorman part speaks to the celebrity aspect of sitting at an anchor desk, Williams has failed at the former, while focusing most of his energy on the latter. And it seems a little too late for him to be trying to wrap himself in the mantle of journalism now.

Williams has been an awful news executive for my money. I could list a dozen examples, but I will limit myself here to one: hiring Chelsea Clinton as a special correspondent at $600,000 a year for his prime-time newsmagazine, “Rock Center” and showcasing her sorry work.

I wrote and spoke multiple times about the awful message this sent to the real journalists at NBC News, especially those in combat zones who were ducking real bullets and getting paid far less than $600,000 a year. And this for someone without a lick of journalistic training or experience, who during her mother’s 2008 campaign refused to even talk to the press.

But the person who hired Clinton and chatted with her on the set like her work was worthy of prime-time treatment wasn’t thinking like a news executive, he was acting like someone who thought it was OK to give a coveted job to someone without credentials who was part of the elite one percent at a time when young people who had worked their way through schools and served internships couldn’t get jobs. This was someone who loved the celebrity part of his job too much, in my opinion.

I don’t believe Williams is too big to fail as some of my colleagues do. I know NBC would love for Williams to survive this nightmare for tens of millions of reasons. For reasons, read dollars.

But the damage is done. I have written about how I cannot imagine anyone connected to or part of a military family not having contempt for Williams after the way he tried to steal some of the honor of real combat veterans for himself with his lies.

That’s one audience I think NBC will lose if he remains anchor.

I also think baby boomers, because of their parents’ sacrifices and lifetime scars from World War II, were raised in a culture where lying about your performance in battle or in terms of military service is seen as reprehensible.

So, Williams might suffer with that audience, too, one that still remembers when the word “honor” was built on deeds — not on the yuk-yuk couch of a talk-show set.

But the most dangerous damage comes with young adults who are seeing Williams mocked mercilessly in social media with images of him in Zelig-like poses at events ranging from Gettysburg to Iwo Jima.

Which brings us back to David Carr, and the Times’ dwindling credibility outside of the newsrooms of NBC, CBS, ABC, and CNN — Carr, one of the more prominent journalists (read: Democrat operatives with bylines) who writes for the Times, the paper that defended Dan Rather a decade ago by declaring his story “fake but accurate” is eager to circle the wagons around the next Dan Rather. (Unlike, to her credit, Maureen Dowd, astonishingly enough.) As for Williams’ viewers, they’re merely “the dance of the low sloping foreheads,” as he contemptibly exclaimed a few years ago on Bill Maher’s HBO series.

Which is why, as John Nolte tweets today:

(H/T: Kathy Shaidle)

Report: Tom Brokaw Wants Brian Williams Fired

February 5th, 2015 - 9:17 pm
brokaw_williams_2-5-15-1

(AP Photo/Richard Drew)

It’s all fun and games in the ozone layer of the elite media until the public catches you cooking the books.

“You know you’re in trouble when Tom Brokaw is out for your blood.” The New York Post’s Page Six on the man who coined the phrase “The Greatest Generation” versus his successor, who’s been living out B. G. Burkett’s Stolen Valor meme for the past decade:

NBC’s most revered journalist is furious that Brian Williams is still in the anchor chair after he sheepishly admitted he hadn’t traveled on a helicopter hit by enemy fire.

“Brokaw wants Williams’ head on a platter,” an NBC source said. “He is making a lot of noise at NBC that a lesser journalist or producer would have been immediately fired or suspended for a false report.”

On Wednesday, Williams, 55, acknowledged that he had repeatedly said he was aboard a chopper that had been hit by a rocket-propelled grenade during a 2003 reporting trip to Iraq, when he was actually safely traveling in a different aircraft.

Brokaw, 74, was still the “Nightly News” anchor when Williams came back from his Iraq expedition — and an insider said he knew the story Williams later spouted was bunk.

“Tom Brokaw and [former NBC News President] Steve Capus knew this was a false story for a long time and have been extremely uncomfortable with it,” the source said.

NBC News execs had counseled him to stop telling the tale.

Williams still took the anchor’s seat for his “Nightly News” broadcast Thursday evening — and was working at 30 Rock all day despite calls for his dismissal. He didn’t address the issue during the broadcast.

Assuming the Post’s report is accurate, this isn’t the first time that someone who passes for a Wise Old Man of TV news has wanted his (comparatively) younger successor fired after he got caught screwing the pooch. Douglas Brinkley’s often hagiographic 2012 biography of Walter Cronkite contains this damning passage regarding Uncle Walter’s bumbling successor:

Determined to be the new Murrow, a crusader for social justice in the twenty-first century, Rather had inadvertently become the Soupy Sales of TV news gathering. When Mike Wallace bumped into Rather in a CBS bathroom in the 60 Minutes offices, a nasty verbal clash erupted between the men. Wallace called Rather, to his face, a shameless creep, a public disgrace, who instead of manning up for Memogate, allowed the fine talents of Mapes*, Howard, Murphy, and West to suffer humiliation. Was that Rather’s idea of courage? “We know it as the battle of the bathroom,” longtime executive producer of 60 Minutes Jeff Fager explained. “It’s never been reported, but it was bad.”

It was then-NBC president Jeff Zucker who chose Williams to replace Brokaw in 2004 and promoted him as the man with the finger on the pulse of America’s Red States, or “NASCAR Nation” as Zucker dubbed them back then. The book Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV explores how Warren Littlefield replaced Brandon Tartikoff as the head of NBC and missed few beats in the 1990s. But how Zucker, Littlefield’s successor, began to wreck the NBC brand starting in 2000, before moving on to work his “magic” with CNN these days will make for quite a history — one that’s still playing out in real time this week.

* No, I don’t think he meant that ironically. Brinkley, like the late Mike Wallace, is likely really only sorry that Rather got caught.

Related: “NBC News anchor Brian Williams’ comments about dead bodies, Hurricane Katrina starting to gain attention, draw scrutiny,” the New Orleans Advocate reports today.

As Mickey Kaus noted in 2005, the MSM saw Katrina as a way to (ultimately successfully, given the results in the midterms the following year) pummel President Bush over Iraq without sounding unpatriotic. Considering how insane the MSM’s coverage quickly became, there could well be plenty of invented stories to go around.

Possibly like this one.

Update: And when you’ve lost Arianna — you’ve likely lost a lot of NBC executives who read her site daily:

More: The left-leaning Daily Beast also senses blood in the water at 30 Rock: “Brian Williams’s NBC News Bosses Are ‘Hanging Him Out to Dry,’” screams the headline there tonight. “The countdown begins,” Ace adds.

I appreciate the sentiment, but let’s consider the source here for a moment and its enormous lack of self-awareness. Why is the man in the above photo texting from the bow of his expensive sailboat when he could been sitting at home watching a television network known for helping people idle away the hours by watching such culturally-enriching fair as Charlie’s Angels, Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Battle of the Network Stars, Family Matters (with Steve Urkel), Monday Night Football, and NYPD Blue.

To its credit, ABC in its heyday sure was a lot less judgmental about its viewers when Fred Silverman was running the show.

The Left is Slowly Devouring Itself

January 31st, 2015 - 12:55 pm

If you’ve ever wondered “What the Hell Does ‘Politically Correct’ Mean?” and would like to hear the Marxist origins of the phrase, and how it mutated into one of the catchphrases of the 1990s until today, Jesse Walker has you covered at Reason. Everyone on the right knows what it’s like to argue with someone whose been infected by the PC virus, a “word fetish,” as novelist John C. Wright dubs it, in pungent terms. “What the Leftist does in debate is utter his idiot word fetishes and slogans with the sneering hauteur of a card player displaying his trump card, or a chessmaster a checkmate,” Wright notes. “And when his nonsense does not win the debate, or even address the debate, he realized you are the OTHER, and he blames you, and insults your character, your intelligence, your education, your moral stature, your maturity, et cetera”:

When you do not return the handshake, he knows you to be the dread and dreaded OTHER, those peoples of whom he has heard but dim rumor, the non-Leftists who use that horrible thing called reason, a lamp that he hates as dearly as Gollum hates the sun.

Leftists always resort to this shift because it is the only arrow in their quiver. They do not have any reasoning to give. If they could reason, they would not be Leftists.

The Leftist must attack you. Your very existence is an affront to him, proof positive that his worldview is wrong. He has nothing to say to support his position, and he cannot shut up.

Certainly we’re seeing that played out on a national scale this month, with the crude Vietnam-era attacks from Michael Moore, Seth Rogen, Howard Dean, Bill Maher and others on the far left on Chris Kyle’s legacy due to the blockbuster success of American Sniper. These double as thinly-veiled (often not-so-thinly veiled) slurs on the rest of Red State America as well, of course, with “soft America” seething at the resurgence of “hard America,” to use Michael Barone’s phraseology from his 2004 book. How angry is soft America these days? As John Nolte noted last night at Big Hollywood, the Onion’s otherwise often enjoyable A.V. Club film and TV Website took a nasty shot this week at the owner of a small restaurant chain in Michigan who symbolically “banned” Michael Moore and Seth Rogen after their submoronic anti-American remarks. “And how does the AV Club respond to this symbolic but righteous protest? By using no fewer than 7 paragraphs to relentlessly mock the Little Guy and his business,” Nolte writes, “the saddest piece of starf**king I’ve ever come across”:

Is anyone else old enough to remember when speaking truth to and defying power was the in-thing?

When the American Left reveals who they are really for and against, it is chilling.

Know your place and shut your mouth, little man.

In one post, The AV Club revealed itself to be nothing more than a bunch of elite snobbish frat boy starf**kers at the ready to protect the wealthy and powerful against … some guy in Michigan.

Palace Guarding: The New Edgy.

However, as the PC virus spreads and metastasizes, it’s begun to devour those who carry the disease within them as well. Or as Charles Cooke writes at NRO, “The Left Realizes Too Late that Political Correctness Is a Virus, and now it’s eating their movement from within”:

Once upon a time, “political correctness” was little more than a benign left-wing version of old-church-lady tut-tutting. Today, by contrast, the designation is used to describe what has become a sprawling, unhinged, and invariably unfalsifiable conspiracy theory that can be used to dismiss anybody who violates this morning’s edition of the progressive catechism. “Gosh,” one can almost hear DeBoer and Chait asking themselves, “have we unleashed a brigade of poorly educated, parodically self-indulgent, and chronically illiberal morons into our movement, the better to destroy it from within? And, if we have, will we ever be able to rid ourselves of them?”

The answer to the latter question, one suspects, may well be “No,” for as Hollywood has taught us repeatedly over the years, it does not pay to unleash unpredictable viruses into the ecosystem — even if one gains temporarily by doing so. And make no mistake, “political correctness” is a virus — a nasty, cynical, destructive sickness that is akin in both theory and in practice to the sort of irritating malware that pushes endless streams of nonsensical dialogue windows onto your grandmother’s computer and prevents her from e-mailing her friends.

This efforts by the left to remove all who are “not of the body” as they say on Star Trek have been going on for a while — recall the intramural struggles in 2006 when the Kos Kidz tossed earnest liberal Joe Lieberman from the Democrat Party, and the equally nasty scrum in 2007 and 2008 in which the Obama supporters accused everyone of racism — starting with Hillary and Bill Clinton and their supporters. But as John Madden used to say whenever a long-struggling NFL team temporarily thrilled its fan base and finally made it to the Super Bowl, “winning is the best deodorant.” Barack Obama’s victory in 2008 papered over a lot of the cracks in the century-old coalition of self-described “Progressives.”

But once Obama revealed himself to be the tyro politician that all of his critics from Bill and Hillary on the left to John McCain and Sarah Palin on the right warned that he was in 2008, and once it was obvious that Socialist Utopia wasn’t going to be immediately reached, the left resumed its slow crack-up. 2011 saw the rise of Occupy Wall Street, which was largely a far left versus center left battle. As Cooke notes in his article, this week saw Jonathan Chait of New York magazine finally noticing that the PC movement has gotten out of hand, when it began to devour him, and he’s been as loyal a foot soldier in the attack on the rest of America as can be imagined.

As James Antle of the Daily Caller writes regarding Chait’s dilemma, “Political correctness is to empathy, mutual respect and human decency as Marxism is to compassion. Both transform noble impulses into joyless acts of ideological coercion.”

And speaking of Marx, how crazy has today’s left gotten? Take it away Jonah Goldberg, whose latest G-File is titled “China Syndrome Liberalism”:

I am kind of excited, or at least entertained, by the spectacle of watching the Left eat itself. It’s like a terrible virus escaped from a lab at Brown University and is now spreading across the country, island hopping from campus to campus and beyond (I don’t merely mix metaphors, I put them in a salad spinner). My buddy James Lileks writes about how left-wing students at Berkeley (sort of redundant, I know) are starting to turn on Marx, not because of his potted theories of the dialectic, his crude reductionism of man to homo economicus, or even the fact that he set the foundation for turning the 20th century into an abattoir. No, Marx is bad because he’s just another dead white guy. The students write in the school paper:

We are calling for an occupation of syllabi in the social sciences and humanities. This call to action was instigated by our experience last semester as students in an upper-division course on classical social theory. Grades were based primarily on multiple-choice quizzes on assigned readings. The course syllabus employed a standardized canon of theory that began with Plato and Aristotle, then jumped to modern philosophers: Hobbes, Locke, Hegel, Marx, Weber and Foucault, all of whom are white men. The syllabus did not include a single woman or person of color.

First let me interject by noting that the moment anyone says to you “We are calling for an occupation of syllabi,” you can put your headphones back on and finish watching the latest episode of Gotham, because nothing that follows will be worth your time.

Anyway, they go on to gripe that Marx worked from the assumption that there are — or were — differences between men and women. The madman! The professor’s statement in defense of Marx, that “women give birth while men do not,” was enough to make some students flee the room, no doubt in search of a gender-neutral fainting couch. (“Don’t look at me! I’m all man” — The Couch).

This is like watching Godzilla stomp across Tokyo and your only complaint is he’s not wearing pants.

This is followed in Jonah’s G-File by the story of Mount Holyoke College cancelling their showing of Eve Ensler’s play “The Vagina Monologues” because “it is demeaning to ‘women’ who have penises,” as National Review on Dead Tree (accurately) deadpans. Meanwhile Reason spots even more campus PC madness as, “CUNY Tells Profs Not to Say ‘Mr.’ or ‘Ms.’ Because That’s Offensive and Illegal-ish (It’s Not).”

Or as Jonah adds:

[W]hen you think about it, the really funny part is that we’re still hearing how we conservatives need to get control of our nutjobs and extremists before average Americans will take us seriously. I’ll tell you what: “What.” I’ll also tell you that the typical Joe on the street will find gun rights and the Tenth Amendment reasonable and mainstream long before he gets his head around the idea that The Vagina Monologues is sexist because it lacks wangs in the cast — and I don’t mean Asians.

Heh.

Recently, Robert Tracinski asked at the Federalist, “Have We Already Reached Peak Leftism?” Certainly its efforts to consume itself are one sign of that, as is the recent implosion of the New Republic and the Andrew Sullivan’s self-imposed timeout announcement this week. And somewhat related to all of the above, there’s an understandable level of exhaustion among several of the left’s key components after having to defend the Obama administration’s insanities over the past six years (seven or eight actually, counting the time that Democrat operatives with bylines like Sullivan began to actively cheerlead for him.)

As Tracinski concludes:

What I mean to suggest is not that reversion to the mean is inevitable, but that this is an opportunity. The Left’s very strength, its nearly exclusive control of key cultural institutions, is also a weakness. Holding the line on a 95 percent groupthink in academia and the arts might end up being a lot harder than disrupting the leftist orthodoxy.

That disruption can happen only if a lot of people put forth a lot of effort to make it happen. But we have a powerful factor on our side: reversion to the mean.

I hope he’s right, but I fear the left’s century-long efforts bunkering deep into the media, academia and (of course) bureaucracies from the federal down to local governments throughout America means that it will be quite sometime before it’s even temporarily morning in America again, to coin a phrase.

Vaginal Steaming? Is It Right For You?

January 28th, 2015 - 6:02 pm

“Vaginal Steaming Is the Only Way to Solve Your Problems,” Jezebel reports, in a headline that might just be slightly sexist:

Feeling tired, stressed or a little bit grumpy? Angry at your husband/wife/pet cockatoo? Feminine odors got you down? Well, there’s a centuries-old cure for all of that, and it’s getting hot air blown all the way up into your laughing place in a public setting. And it only costs 50 bucks. Isn’t your health worth that?

Laura Beck, Jezebel alumna, recently visited a “uterus spa” for Fast Company and the experience was… special. Beck, who I’ve been privileged to know for over a decade and whose vaginal health I’m always concerned about (some might say too concerned) went because Gwyneth Paltrow told her to. And you know what the rules are: If Gwyneth says you do it, you do it. If Gwyneth’s jumping off a cliff, mom: f*** yeah we’re all doing it.

Faster, please, to coin a phrase.

Alternate headline: Uterus Spas? Well now we know why the real reason why Andrew Sullivan is retiring.

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