May 13, 2012
SEPARATED AT BIRTH: America’s “First Gay President” and Tinky-Winky the Teletubby.
If I were a GOP operative, I’d distribute thousands of those Newsweek issues to black barbershops in key precincts. . . .
SEPARATED AT BIRTH: America’s “First Gay President” and Tinky-Winky the Teletubby.
If I were a GOP operative, I’d distribute thousands of those Newsweek issues to black barbershops in key precincts. . . .
JEFF ROSEN: Why can’t these conservative judges be more . . . liberal? Plus, beware of that dastardly Randy Barnett!
PROF. JACOBSON: Please do not photograph Obama’s wreck at the side of the road.
AT AMAZON, Men’s Shorts on Sale. Nobody tell Ann Althouse. . . .
JENNIFER RUBIN: Not-So-Subtle Obama-Rooting In The Media.
It’s pathetic, and embarrassing. And yet they still pretend they belong to some sort of learned profession with special privileges and responsibilities, when really they’re just PR flacks without the honesty.
UPDATE: My response to Stacy McCain is the lack of counterexamples. I had a girlfriend from college who quit journalism for PR because, as she said, “it’s more ethical.” Indeed. Well, we’ve always got the computers.
SPENGLER: Yes, Arianna, We Have No Bananas. “If only the Greeks still troubled to have children, Mrs. Huffington’s sentiments would have more resonance. Greek fertility (number of children per female) fell to only 1.28 in 2005, the rock bottom of the European pile.”
A CREEPY MOTHER’S DAY CARD: “Show your mom you care enough to make her a data point in the president’s reelection campaign!”
THIS WEEK IN THE FUTURE.
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE DEBT-SERFDOM UPDATE: Student Loans: A Generation Hobbled by the Soaring Cost of College.
Kelsey Griffith graduates on Sunday from Ohio Northern University. To start paying off her $120,000 in student debt, she is already working two restaurant jobs and will soon give up her apartment here to live with her parents. Her mother, who co-signed on the loans, is taking out a life insurance policy on her daughter. “If anything ever happened, God forbid, that is my debt also,” said Ms. Griffith’s mother, Marlene Griffith.
As I’ve said before, any other industry that did this to its customers would be regarded as predatory in the extreme. And, in a related note, my The Higher Education Bubble, soon to be published by Encounter Broadsides, is now available for pre-order. Just sayin’ . . .
FASTER, PLEASE: Rare-Earth Mining Rises Again in United States.
China now controls 95 percent of total rare-earth supply. A figurative sneeze on its export policy is all that’s needed to shake global markets, and in 2010 China began restricting rare-earth exports. International prices spiked, reaching near-dizzying levels last summer before crashing in the fall. In the wake of the World Trade Organization case, they’ve perked up again. . . .
That may soon change. Encouraged by rising prices and political support, new mines are starting up around the world, most notably in Malaysia and in California, where a company called Molycorp has reopened what until the 1980s was the world’s flagship rare-earth mine.
“In five years there will be rare earths produced all over the world and China will lose its edge,” said mining analyst John Kaiser, editor of Kaiser Research Online. “Molycorp is part of that equation. They’re putting back into production what was once the largest rare-earth mine in the world. And this is a good thing because it takes away power concentrated in China.”
Located in Mountain Pass, California, about an hour west of Las Vegas, the mine sits atop mineral deposits discovered in the late 1940s by geologists looking for commercial-grade uranium. They found some of the world’s richest reserves of bastnasite, a mineral containing higher-than-usual concentrations of rare-earth elements like cerium, lanthanum and yttrium.
My advice to the Chinese: Pay off some environmental groups to shut this down.
BARACK OBAMA ON faceless multitudes, waiting to be told what to do. Plus, “the problem with people like Joyce.”
UPDATE: This item seems quite popular with readers.
YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK: Violent criminal on federal payroll as informant. “Despite a history of abusing women and violent behavior in prison, Joshua Allan Jackson managed to become a federal informant, trigger a citywide Seattle police alert and hold a 18-year-old woman as his sexual prisoner.”
If law enforcement were liable to lawsuits in the same fashion as private business, things like this wouldn’t be the regular occurrences that they are now.
AT AMAZON, Deals in electronics.
POINTS AND FIGURES: Our Energy Future.
At the Chicago Booth Graduate School of Business Management Conference Friday, I listened to a panel discussion on energy. It was interesting, primarily because the two panelists didn’t mince words.
They offered up some interesting stats. Did you know that Chevron ($CHV) spends $33 billion a year just to keep the doors open and the lights on. Amazing operating budget. For that 33 billion spend, they control 2% of the world wide oil market.
Conclusion: Running an oil company isn’t cheap and has a lot of fixed costs.
Question: Why do we demonize, regulate and tax the crap out of them?
Another data point they offered was that in the next ten years, the world will need 40% more energy to operate. Demand is going up. The reason? In America, when we go through our daily lives, we implicitly trust that lights will go on, air conditioning and heating will work. We know if we plug something in, the electricity will power it. We use cell networks. We don’t walk and bike everywhere, and generally get to place to place using some form of powered transportation.
Well guess what. The rising middle class in the rest of the world wants the same thing. As China, India Brazil and other countries increase their standards of living, they will demand more energy.
Much more at the link.
UNEXPECTEDLY: U.S. Biofuel Mandates Looking Unrealistic. “In 2007, Congress vastly overestimated the government’s ability to create a market for cellulosic biofuels, which remain much more expensive to produce than corn ethanol. There was no commercial production of cellulosic fuel in 2010 or 2011—even though the 2007 law originally called for 100 million and 250 million gallons, respectively, for those years (the requirements were subsequently scaled back to around 6.5 million gallons for each year). The chart above shows the actual biofuel production, so far, compared to future mandates.”
GREEN ACRES IS THE PLACE TO BE? Higher Heart Risk From Exposure To Car Exhaust.
ELECTRIC-CAR INQUEST: Engine packaging to blame for Fisker Karma garage fire?
THE NORTH CAROLINA DEBACLE CONTINUES: Democratic Party chairman resigns, then unresigns. “David Parker, the besieged state Democratic Party chairman, said Saturday that he would remain in his post after the party’s ruling committee voted not to accept his resignation. In doing so, Parker defied pressure from party leaders from Washington to Raleigh to step aside because of the concern that his handling of sexual harassment accusations by a staffer would damage the party’s efforts in the fall.” Ya think?
Say, has anyone asked Obama how he feels — now that he’s “evolved” on gay marriage — about having the Democratic National Convention in a state that’s just voted by a huge margin to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage? Maybe I missed that while I was away. . . .
WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Last Domino Standing. “Embattled Syria aside, Algeria is the last of the secular Arab authoritarian governments still standing. . . . Algeria is even more critical to the stability and prosperity of the Mediterranean than Libya. It is a major source of immigrants to the former colonial power (France — and many educated Algerians speak French to this day), and what happens in Algeria will often spill over onto the streets of France.”
NOEMIE EMERY: The Year Of Losing Touch With Reality.
NEWS YOU CAN USE: “America has more fossil fuel resources than any other nation. Russia is second, Saudi Arabia is third. On Thursday, a representative of the Government Accountability Office testified before the House Science Subcommittee on Energy and Environment that the Green River Formation alone–it is located at the intersection of the states of Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, and mostly underlies federal lands–contains as much oil as the entire proven reserves of the rest of the world combined. America is uniquely blessed in its energy resources.” If I were the Russians and the Saudis, I’d be paying off some Green groups to block development.
THEY TOLD ME IF I VOTED REPUBLICAN, WASHINGTON WOULD FILL WITH CORPORATE SUCKUPS, AND THEY WERE RIGHT! Democrats’ Fund Taps Corporate Donors for Convention. “Democrats have trumpeted their ban on corporate donations to their national convention this summer, saying that it shows they are free from the influence of special interests. But through a special fund, convention planners are accepting millions of dollars in corporate contributions to help pay for many of the activities outside the convention hall—as well as some expenses directly related to the event. Donors include Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America Corp. and Duke Energy Corp., all significant employers in Charlotte, N.C., where the convention will be held in early September.”
KATIE GRANJU AIMS TO end the Mommy Wars once and for all.
HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Many households have a negative net worth, study finds.
JIM TREACHER: #ASKMICHELLE: “Have you ever wanted to ask Michelle Obama a question? Sure, we all have! That’s why the social-media geniuses in the White House created the Twitter hashtag #AskMichelle. And it’s been going almost as well as all the White House’s other Twitter hashtags.”
WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY: Japanese researchers using particle accelerator to breed salt resistant rice.
Japanese researchers at the Riken Nishina Centre for Accelerator-Based Science have been using their particle accelerator to cause mutations in rice for over two decades with the aim of breeding rice that is more resistant to saltwater. Up to now their results have been limited; just one new salt resistant rice variety has been created and it faced mixed reactions regarding taste. But now, because of the tsunami in that country last year that contaminated a lot of farmland with seawater, efforts there have picked up and researchers are reportedly coming close to developing a whole host of new saltwater resistant strains.
CLARICE FELDMAN: UNDEAD!
Readers who heed what the media says would have thought the tea party bitter clingers were dead, so this week’s election results must have seemed to them like the attack of the zombies.
The zombies made their appearance known in Wisconsin, Indiana, and Nebraska.
Indeed they did. As I pointed out ages ago, Tea Partiers have swapped showy rallies for the unglamorous grunt-work of actual politics. Such efforts tend to go under the radar, until Election Day.
THEY’RE TRYING TO IMPOSE A NARRATIVE THAT DOESN’T WORK: In this story by Kirk Johnson: Cutbacks Hurt a State’s Response to Whooping Cough. See, here’s the problem:
Whooping cough, or pertussis, a highly infectious respiratory disease once considered doomed by science, has struck Washington State this spring with a severity that health officials say could surpass the toll of any year since the 1940s, before a vaccine went into wide use.
Although no deaths have been reported so far this year, the state has declared an epidemic and public health officials say the numbers are staggering: 1,284 cases through early May, the most in at least three decades and 10 times last year’s total at this time, 128.
Now here’s the narrative-advancing bit:
The response to the epidemic has been hampered by the recession, which has left state and local health departments on the front lines of defense weakened by years of sustained budget cuts.
Only here’s what’s really going on:
If the signs are there, he said — especially a persistent, deep cough and indication of contact with a confirmed victim — doctors should simply treat patients with antibiotics. The pertussis test can cost up to $400 and delay treatment by days. About 14.6 percent of Skagit County residents have no health insurance, according to a state study conducted last year, up from 11.6 percent in 2008.
“There has been half a million dollars spent on testing in this county,” Dr. Leibrand said late last week. “Do you know how much vaccination you can buy for half a million dollars?” And testing, he added, benefits only the epidemiologists, not the patients. “It’s an outrageous way to spend your health care dollar.”
So the real problem isn’t that there isn’t money, it’s that the money is being spent for the benefit of the “public health community” rather than for, you know, the public health of the community.
Which is usually what’s going on when people talk about the damage done by “budget cuts.” And I’ve warned about this, and about the New York Times’ heavy-handed narrative management, before.
UPDATE: Reader Ron Jones comments:
Two points: first, as the article eventually gets around to, the cause of this outbreak is vaccine refusal, not vaccine expense or shortage.
Second, that draconian measure of treating rather than testing is standard procedure in an outbreak no matter how much money is in the system. It’s common sense, not an austerity measure.
Indeed. So is Johnson spinning, or was he spun? Either way, he looks kind of bad. And here’s something I wrote on the vaccine refusal business a while back.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Mike Lee emails:
My wife is a pediatric RN in Seattle.
You are right. This is totally about vaccine refusal, caused by nutjob parents both left and right.
Jenny McCarthy autism believers, apocalyptic home schoolers, both are at fault.
We each had to get pertussis vaccinated because my wife’s so exposed.
Nobody’s died yet because the current horrible health care system jumps right on it.
In a perfect legalistic world, we could file a class action lawsuit against these idiots.
Yes, the quacks do far more damage than the “evil” drug companies, and risk far fewer consequences. And the quacks are not immune from the profit motive, either.
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Change—and Some Hope.
And the greatest coup of all, Bill Maher neglected to say, was convincing this administration to try antiquated and discredited policies in order to make the economy sputter, so they could keep Obama from being reelected! Fiendish!
HOME AGAIN, HOME AGAIN, JIGGITY-JIG: I’m tanned, rested, and ready, and my guest-bloggers have done a terrific job. Thank ‘em all, and maybe they’ll stick around for another day. I wouldn’t mind!
DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE.
PREDICTING THE TABLET COMPUTER, IN 1994:
The metaphor, it hurts.
WARGAMING THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE: Moe Lane writes:
It’s funny, really. Somebody like Mark Halperin sees this:
Barack Obama’s decision to base his re-election campaign outside of Washington seems to be working pretty darn well. The campaign’s massive, high-rise headquarters in Chicago’s Loop achieves a fine balance between 2008’s hip-casual dorm room (there’s a Ping-Pong table and cheeky homemade signage) and 2012’s systematized Death Star (there are more employees than I have ever seen in a political campaign, with work stations subdivided as ever more employees are added). The place hums from early morning until late at night, designed for maximum efficiency and manifest focus.
and thinks “Success!” I see it and think “High burn rate.” Also: “Hubris.” Let’s talk about why.
With maps of various electoral college scenarios for November. Read the whole thing.
RELATED: At the Corner, Victor Davis Hanson on “The Face of Things to Come.”
CAN THE CENTER HOLD in Greece with the swell of Nazis and Communists?
AT AMAZON, DVD Deals Under $10.
UNEXPECTEDLY! GOV. JERRY BROWN SAYS CALIFORNIA FACING HIGHER-THAN-EXPECTED $16 BILLION BUDGET SHORTFALL:
California’s budget deficit has swelled to a projected $16 billion — much larger than had been predicted just months ago — and will force severe cuts to schools and public safety if voters fail to approve tax increases in November, Gov. Jerry Brown said Saturday.
The Democratic governor said the shortfall grew from $9.2 billion in January in part because tax collections have not come in as high as expected and the economy isn’t growing as fast as hoped for. The deficit has also risen because lawsuits and federal requirements have blocked billions of dollars in state cuts.
How come the Red Queen’s Race only seems to happen in the bluest of regions?
UPDATE: Speaking of the Red Queen’s Race, “The History of Stockton: Chapter Nine.”
MITT ROMNEY USES JIMMY CARTER AS CAMPAIGN WEAPON: Why would Obama (and arguably by extension, the Politico) complain, when Obama has – voluntarily — favorably compared himself with Carter? And incidentally, note the “dog whistle” opening in the Politico article:
The presidential candidate does what to his dog?
BLIND NJ MAN GETS GUNS BACK YEARS AFTER POLICE TOOK THEM AWAY — Judge rules Steven Hopler’s disability can’t take away right to bear arms.
Warner Todd Huston paraphrases the police’s initial response thusly: “New Jersey Police Say Blind People Don’t Deserve Constitutional Rights.”
OBAMA STUMP SPEECH IN RENO DRAWS DOZENS: Don’t miss the photo.
CENSORING NAOMI RILEY: John Fund writes:
Though it was far away, this hubbub attracted attention from some of the speakers at the Oslo conference. A couple noted how surprising it is that political correctness in academia is now shutting off debate in the U.S., the country where academics supposedly prize vigorous discussion and vigilantly guard against any sign of McCarthyism.
Nick Cohen is an atheist and former leftist who writes for the Observer and Guardian newspapers in Britain. His most recent book, entitled “You Can’t Read This Book,” examines the new forms of censorship that are emerging in the 21st century. He warned those at the Oslo Freedom Forum that many in the West now “surround taboo subjects with a bodyguard of politically correct humbug. This form of self-censorship has had a profound effect on liberalism.” He noted that “censorship is at its most effective when no one admits that it exists. ‘No one else is complaining, so move along now,’ becomes the mantra.”
While Cohen’s warning was directed at those who stifle debate on Muslim radicalism in Europe and refuse to recognize the failure of officially imposed multiculturalism, he lost no time in telling me how appalled he was at the news of Riley’s firing. “These people calling for her head are the same ones who would scream McCarthyism if someone demanded that academics who defend Iran, excuse terrorism, or accept support from dubious Middle East regimes be called to account,” he told me. “At the same time, they would of course be appalled if someone accepted funding from the Pentagon for a research study.”
James Kirchick, a contributing editor to The New Republic and a former writer-at-large for Radio Free Europe, told me of the Riley case, “This is precisely why I am no longer on the left. It is disturbing to see such bullying.”
Read the whole thing.
GERMANY FACES ENERGY DISASTER NEXT WINTER, according to Germany’s Die Welt magazine:
Last winter, on several occasions, Germany escaped only just large-scale power outages. Next winter the risk of large blackouts is even greater. The culprit for the looming crisis is the single most important instrument of German energy policy: the “Renewable Energy Law.”
The dramatic tone of the report by the Federal Network Agency (FNA) on the near-blackouts last winter is hard to overestimate: although the cold spell was short and mild, the situation in the German electricity network was “very serious” according to the Agency.
Several times, the pre-ordered reserve power plants in Austria and Germany were fully utilized. On several occasions, the network operators were not even able to mobilize additionally needed emergency reserves abroad. The number of short-term emergency interventions in network and power plant operating shot up by more than 30,000 percentage points on some network portions.
“Had a failure of a large power plant taken place in this situation, there would have been hardly any room for maneuver available.” This quote from the FNA report is translation for “We narrowly escaped a catastrophe.”
There is no reason for a sigh of relief, however: Next winter, which will possibly be even more severe, everything could get much worse, officials warn. Because then even less base-load gas- and coal-fired power plants will be available to reliably compensate for wind lulls and the almost complete absence of solar power for months.
Less coal plants available? Good thing that could never happen here.
UPDATE: Long time Insta-reader Kim Sommer emails, “Forgot the obligatory Fallen Angels acknowledgement.” Fair enough — here you go!
LIFE IN THE ONE PERCENT: “Socialist Hollande owns three homes on the Riviera,” according to the London Evening Standard. “Francois Hollande, 57, who ‘dislikes the rich’ and wants to revolutionise his country with high taxes and an onslaught against bankers, is in fact hugely wealthy himself.”
CHILDREN OF MEN: The Asian Tiger ― Japan ― is in danger of extinction.
WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: The Chinese economy “unexpectedly” slows.
OBJECTIVE REPORTING FROM THE LA TIMES, as spotted by Paul Hsieh:
The Los Angeles Times lets you know that if you don’t support ObamaCare, then you must want the US to be a backwards nation: “Global push to guarantee health coverage leaves U.S. behind.”
Just a little objective reporting to help keep readers informed! (*cough* re-elect Obama *cough*)
When the train’s about to be pushed off the cliff, isn’t being left behind a good thing?
BLOG COMMENT OF THE DAY: “We may not quite be living under communism, but we are certainly living under its media apparatus.”
THE PRESIDENT’S HIT LIST: The Wall Street Journal notes:
Those are some ugly details that our Kimberley Strassel has been turning up about the effort to smear Mitt Romney’s campaign donors. The dirt-digging exercise reflects the character of President Obama’s re-election campaign, as well as what’s really behind the drive for more “transparency” in political donations.
As Ms. Strassel has reported in recent columns, Idaho businessman Frank VanderSloot has become the target of a smear campaign since it was disclosed earlier this year that he had donated $1 million to a super PAC supporting Mr. Romney. President Obama’s campaign website teed him up in April as one of eight “less than reputable” Romney donors and a “bitter foe of the gay rights movement.” One sin: His wife donated to an anti-gay-marriage campaign, of the kind that have passed in 30 or so states.
Now we learn that little more than a week after that Presidential posting, a former Democratic Senate staffer called the courthouse in Mr. VanderSloot’s home town of Idaho Falls seeking his divorce records. Ms. Strassel traced the operative, Michael Wolf, to a Washington, D.C. outfit called Fusion GPS that says it is “a commercial research firm.”
As Doug Ross wrote back in 2010, “Unlike Tricky Dick Nixon, Obama Wears His Enemies List On His Sleeve.”
FASCISM: Reactionary Islamist goons attacked Irshad Manji—a young reformist Muslim woman from Vancouver, British Columbia—with sticks and iron bars while she was promoting her new book in Indonesia. She’s okay, sort of, but her assistant was rushed to the hospital and two others are injured.
Here is Paul Berman’s take in The New Republic.
It is fashionable among the Western apologists for the Islamist movement to insist that genuine reformists and liberals have no audience in the Muslim world. The claim is false. Manji’s earlier book, The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith, has been published, according to the EFD, in more than 30 countries. Manji runs a website, irshadmanji.com, offering translations in Arabic, Urdu and Farsi, which are said to have been downloaded more than 2 million times. But then it shouldn’t be necessary to cite numbers to demonstrate the ability of the genuinely independent thinkers to make themselves heard. Why else are they attacked, after all? Nor do these attacks occur only in Muslim-majority countries. Manji has lately had trouble in Amsterdam, too—where, as everyone will remember, she is hardly the first person to come under attack.
Who will defend these people, these truest heroes of modern freedom? That is the only question.
RAND PAUL: “Call me cynical, but I wasn’t sure [Obama's] views on marriage could get any gayer.” Video at link.
RELATED: Passage of a constitutional amendment defining marriage as solely between a man and a woman makes North Carolina “look like Mississippi,” Gov. Beverly Perdue said Friday.
PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS:
– Headline at PJM, May 8th, 2012.
– Headline at Weasel Zippers, today.
You know, I’m slowly beginning to believe that the BBC’s antennas might just be aimed slightly, ever so slightly, to the left.
UPDATE: An Insta-reader emails, “BBC antennas aimed left? I think not. The Daleks at BBC have their antennas aimed firmly at humans, who for the most part they despise and would rid the world of.”
As Mark Steyn once wrote, “The ecochondriacs mean it: This’d be a pretty nice planet if we didn’t live here.”
UPDATE: David Preiser of the Biased BBC blog emails:
I noticed you posted a link to the Weazel Zippers blog about the ridiculous Thought for the Day. In case you weren’t aware, they did this to stifle debate, and partially as a reaction against the inevitable backlash coming from an outrageous episode of Question Time on Thursday, which has outraged many people in Britain. It all involved the latest conviction of a group of Muslim paedophiles in Rochdale for running a gang which raped and prostituted out young white girls from care homes. It’s a growing problem in certain areas of Britain, and apparently the police have been letting it go on and been afraid to do too much out of fear of being called racist. The BBC has a PC, multicultural agenda to promote, so had to try and kill the public’s outcry before it started.
A question was asked on Thursday’s Question Time about whether or not this latest incident was evidence of a cultural problem with Pakistani and Afghan Muslims emigrating to the UK. The entire panel, as well as many members of the audience tried to blame society at large instead, or say that it had nothing to do with race or culture (even though the defendants and the convicting judge made it clear that they viewed white girls as lesser beings and viable targets), and tried to say any talk of a cultural problem was racist. There was even a vicar who tried to blame the girls themselves for being too willing to give up their innocence.
You can watch the awful episode yourself on YouTube.
This and many other instances of BBC bias has been documented at the Biased-BBC blog. We also have a post up about the ludicrous Thought for the Day. The Thought for the Day piece is directly inspired by it – the wrong way, of course. You can’t truly appreciate how awful it is without knowing the full background of that Question Time episode, and the BBC’s history of stifling debate. It’s important for more people in the US to be aware of how bad the BBC’s bias is, not only because of the massive influence they have on public opinion and British voters, but because they’ve also increased spending on their website and on staff in the US in an attempt to capture more US eyeballs (and ad revenue). Not to mention the BBC World News America targeted directly at us and Katty Kay’s partisan appearances on MSNBC and NPR.
Much more at Biased BBC — just keep scrolling.
CONFESSIONS OF A BULLYING DOG-EATER.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE MONSTERS GONE? A post by C. U. Douglas at Ricochet compares the original Dark Shadows gothic soap opera of the 1960s with the campy Tim Burton/Johnny Depp remake. Douglas ponders the changing face of monsters and evil in Hollywood:
Frid is masterful in his portrayal, in my opinion. Barnabas Collins is a creature of depth. He struggles to regain a lost past, yet proves ruthless in his plans to regain what was lost. He coerces a young man into subjugation to him. He kidnaps and attempts to brainwash a young woman. Failing the latter, he imprisons her until she yields to his whims. All the while he exudes proper charm to his cousins and the local townsfolk. He waxes nostalgic before them, giving them images of the past in ways no one else can. Few see the dangerous creature beneath the charming exterior.
Contrast that to today’s vampires and their ilk. I don’t just mean Twilight. Pick most fiction or television surrounding them today. Vampires are as human as human can be; they’re just ‘humans with benefits’. Their drawbacks are nothing more than physical, if they have any. They no longer prey on others — or if they do, they are cast out and destroyed by their colleagues who are more sympathetic to humans. A vampire who falls in love with a human is frequently encouraged by both sides, the struggles to the creature internal.
It’s not just vampires who get this sort of treatment. Dragons, other creatures, more and more they are presented as friendly and sympathetic. There is no longer any danger. Go ahead! Hug that vampire! Make the dragon your best friend! It’s okay!
The disappearance of monsters in general, and Evil with capital-E was a topic that Jonah Goldberg explored over a decade ago at NRO:
Today, monsters are the exact opposite. From Frankenstein to Sesame Street, we’ve become conditioned to believe that monsters are good things. The Cookie Monster is so proud to be a monster it’s his last name for goodness sake.
But it’s not for the sake of goodness that we have abandoned the idea of monsters. The psychologists, sociologists, social workers and other social cleansers have taken it upon themselves to explain that what we call “monsters” are really just things we can’t understand. After all, the old mapmakers used to just throw up their hands when they didn’t have any more info and would just write “Here There Be Monsters.” The social cleansers believe that any time we say “here there be monsters” we’re really just revealing ignorance. “These children aren’t monsters,” we will hear some fool say on the nightly news after some child has done something particularly monstrous. “We shouldn’t demonize so-and-so” just because they have done something so demonic that it takes an act of supreme will to see it as something else.
But why is it such a good thing to understand evil? When we claim that all evil acts are understandable, we excuse them in a way. Oh, he’s a pedophile because his father was a pedophile. That guy? He murders people because society never gave him a chance. Him? He’s a rapist because of a chemical imbalance, etc. etc.
Would it be so terrible for us to say, “He’s a monster” or “he’s just plain evil” and leave it at that? Last August, a man in Merced, California burst into a family’s home and murdered two children with a pitchfork while they cowered under the sheets. The other two children saw it happen. Do we need to explain that?
Being reminded that evil exists, seeing it like a Gargoyle on the wall or, even in a kid’s costume, is a useful thing. For if we don’t think evil exists, if we reject the idea that there are monsters, unknowable in their evilness, we will always make excuses for it when we see it. And when we do that, we forget what the opposite of evil is too.
For more about monsters, see “A Word About Monsters”.
And of course, less than a year after the above was written, America got a (temporary?) wake-up call on what real evil looks like. Naturally, the same efforts to humanize OBL – and/or project his evil elsewhere – quickly began to ferment.
In the comments to the Ricochet post which we linked to above is a link to a fun article at Cracked* on “6 Mind-Blowing Ways Zombies and Vampires Explain America.”
And I’d also recommend Thomas Hibbs’ book, Shows About Nothing, on how Nietzschian nihilism has become deeply soaked into the subtext of numerous Hollywood projects over the years. The title of course, is an allusion to Seinfeld – and Hibbs’ book spends quite a bit of time on that quintessential 1990s sit-com. But he also devotes a fair chunk of his book looking at films such as Silence of the Lambs, Martin Scorsese’s remake of Cape Fear, and earlier horror films such as The Exorcist. You can hear my February interview with Hibbs at the PJ Lifestyle blog.
* Incidentally, I started to type “in Cracked, of all places,” but I shouldn’t — they’ve somehow transformed themselves from being a Mad magazine clone to producing really fascinating Web articles that are often bite-sized pop culture history pieces.
AT AMAZON, IT’S THE KINDLE DEAL OF THE DAY.
LIBYA, FAILING MILITIA STATE: “With the lid of the old regime blown away, a plethora of simmering ethnic and racial tensions suppressed by Gaddafi’s policy of Arabization have burst into the open. In southern towns, long-standing tensions between Arab tribes and Black Toubou tribes over control of the smuggling routes into the Sahel degenerated into street fighting at a cost of hundreds of lives. Amazigh, or Berber, revivalists based in the coastal town of Zwara fought Arabs in neighboring Reqdaline for control of the Tunisian border. Graffiti promoting ethnic cleansing scars town walls. The goodwill that sustains support for the NTC in Tripoli has largely evaporated in Benghazi, which has precious little to show for engineering the revolt in February 2011, particularly since the leadership moved to Tripoli and is feeding separatist or anarchic tendencies.”
RUBES AROUND THE WORLD.
NEWSBUSTERS: WashPost Ombudsman Upholds Romney Hair ‘Scoop’ As Paper Shamelessly Admits Pro-Obama Story Timing.
This may sound like crazy talk, but it’s almost as if there’s a “non-official campaign” in the media to support Mr. Obama.
IS ROMNEY PULLING AWAY? As the Professor and a certain Corellian smuggler (who runs out for Barney Kessel records or something) are both wont to say, don’t get cocky.
TYPICAL: The Arab world’s biggest state sponsor of terrorism accuses the United States of being a state sponsor of terrorism.
In the whole DOJ/big six of publishing kerfuffle something has just surfaced that made me lose my temper and go into rant mode. If you’ve been following and are in the mood for a rant, read on. This is what set me off, via Joe Konrath: One Book Is Pretty Much The Same As Any Other. Lipskar acknowledges, as he must, that the prices of New York Times bestselling books went up following the simultaneous industry-wide imposition of agency pricing …………… But, he claims, these higher prices couldn’t hurt anyone because the prices of other books decreased
THE MIDDLE EAST’S PROBLEM FROM HELL: The longer the war lasts in Syria, the worse the end result is going to be. I’m primarily concerned about the country imploding like a neutron star and sucking in most of the neighbors, but Adam Garfinkle at The American Interest makes the case that it could explode like a supernova.
I would be worried right now if I were a Lebanese. It is impossible to say if the Assad regime can hold out against a radicalized Syrian opposition, with volunteer support pouring in from neighboring countries. Most likely, in my view, it cannot. But it could take many months, even a year or two, for this bloody drama to play out. In the meantime, the conflict will pour across borders, including the Lebanese border, as it has already begin to do. If, in the fullness of time, a jihadi-led or strongly influenced state arises in Syria, or parts of it, then it is virtually inevitable that the Shi’a-tilted status quo in Lebanon will be upset. Sunni radicals in Damascus will not get along with Hizballah, and there are homegrown Sunni radicals in Lebanon that “friends” in Damascus would encourage and support on their behalf. The likely result? A new civil war, with a beginning epicenter most like in and around Tripoli.
ALVY SINGER COULD NOT BE REACHED FOR COMMENT: Right now it’s only a notion, but I think I can get money to make it into a concept — and later turn it into an idea.
But I’d better commission a study, first.
GAO: RECOVERABLE OIL IN COLORADO, UTAH, WYOMING “ABOUT EQUAL TO ENTIRE WORLD’S PROVEN OIL RESERVES” COMBINED: “And yet the Obama administration believes the future lies is in algae and exploding Chevy Volts.”
TACKLING THE IMPORTANT ISSUES: Whit Stillman’s Guide to Preppie Fashion.
For my recent interview with Stillman concerning his new film, Damsels in Distress, click here.
RELATED: As Peggy Noonan recently wrote, “Special thanks to the person who invented casual Friday. Now it’s casual everyday in America. But when you lower standards people don’t decide to give you more, they give you less.” (Something she seemed to forget as November of 2008 approached.) In Forbes, P.J. O’Rourke explores “Why Adults Should Ditch The Shorts, Wear Suits.”
ALLAHPUNDIT: Oh my: Audience member yells “traitor” at mention of Romney’s name during Obama rally.
ABOUT THAT “HOW WILL TINA BROWN” THING that Ed posted about earlier. (Sorry to be so belatedly getting the idea of talking back and forth with my co-bloggers here.) I followed that link to The New Republic with its various depictions of Obama embedded in gay culture, and that kind of Photoshopped trashy humor is nothing like the “attention-grabbing covers” TNR notes that Tina Brown has presided over at Newsweek. The only cover is the cover TNR seeks for its decision to publish such lame illustrations under its once-illustrious name.
Rather a humiliation for the Chronicle of Higher Education in general, and for editor Liz McMillen. Self-inflicted humiliation, too.
CRIMINAL GENIUS IN ACTION: Counterfeiter caught selling to famous Detroit pawn shop of Hardcore Pawn reality TV series.
GAFFE-O-MATIC: Biden to Students: You’ll See ‘Solar Energy as Cheap as Gas — Uh, Coal, Excuse Me, as Coal.’ (A product the vice president views as being as big a terrorist threat to America as…high fructose corn syrup.)
Meanwhile, at Commentary, a tip for the WaPo: look into bullying by the young Joe Biden.
Think they’ll bite? Nahh, me neither.
TROLLING FOR DIRT ON THE PRESIDENT’S LIST: Kimberly Strassel at the WSJ.
OBAMA’S VIEWS ON SQUIRREL! HAVE EVOLVED, TOO.
GAY MARRIAGE AND THE “RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY:” Jonah Goldberg, expanding upon one of the themes in his new book, The Tyranny of Cliches.
OBAMA’S GAY MARRIAGE FLIP SHOWS HOW BIG MONEY SETS HIS AGENDA.
MONTANA SENATE RIVALS CO-SPONSORED EARMARKS THAT FATTENED CAMPAIGN COFFERS: Rep. Denny Rehberg sponsored three earmarks for companies his son’s firm later represented, then banked thousands in contributions. Guess who co-sponsored the same earmarks? You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, even if we have to run against each other in 2012.
RELATED: At PJM, “The Incivil War of Climate Change Heats Up,” writes Rand Simberg, who believes that this time around, there’s enough blame for both sides of the debate.
ASKING THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS: The New Republic ponders, “How Will Tina Brown Illustrate Obama’s Gay Marriage Announcement” on the cover of Newsweek?
Social Media And The Law How to stay out of trouble when using Twitter and Facebook
Sometimes things are… complicated. Dr. Tedd Roberts delves into peer research (and in a previous article into funding research with no immediate pay off.) Dr. Roberts is a friend, but when I read this: So, do I think peer-review is broken? ……… I do *not* think it should be scrapped, but I think it needs better watchdogs. Who are those watchdogs? We all are. If a scientist witnesses abuse of the system, they should be able to speak out and not get shut out because of political whim. The public needs to be better educated so that they do not get told what to do by manipulative media politicians and yes, scientists I read an almost touching faith in a system that seems to be as incestuous and stutifying as… well, publishing. Dr. Roberts is an honorable man. Perhaps most scientists are. But they are still human and anything touched by the government gets twisted by politics. On the other hand what alternative is there? What is the equivalent of the kindle revolution? Well, there is this: Project Force of Duck. I contributed. Not out of a marked interest in duck penises, but because I think there must be an alternative and I put my money where my mouth is. Will this type of system be up to funding the important research soon? I don’t know. But I’d like it to be the way of the future. Meanwhile, we’ll have to hope there are enough honorable scientists.
NOT Safe for Work. The Management is NOT responsible for any readers who might wish to carve out their eyes with grapefruit spoons. And, for what it’s worth, yeah… it’s too much of a mom. Time to move out and take your Star Trek posters with you.
We’ve spoken before about how awesome medieval bestiary lore is, but I fear I’ve given the impression that it’s all self-castrating beavers and Christ-signification. It is both of those things, of course, but there’s so much more! Yes, I know this is a Valentine’s post. So, save it for Valentine’s next year. It’s medieval! It’s not like it will go out of style! (Yes, my name is Sarah A. Hoyt, and I read weird stuff.)
Is that plutonium in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? (I confess I don’t like that they’re monitoring this. I understand why it might be needed, but it still gets my hackles up.)
Change! Robert Grenier, former head of the CIA counter-terrorism centre, said: “As for British Intelligence, I suppose, but do not know, that they must be very unhappy. They are often exasperated, quite reasonably, with their American friends, who are far more leak-prone than they.
“In their place, I would think two and three times before sharing with the Americans, and then only do it if I had to. The problem with that dynamic is that you don’t know what you don’t know, and what opportunities you might be missing when you decide not to share. The Americans are doing a very good job of undermining trust, and the problem starts at the top.”
Eighty-six percent of women polled say they want a sensitive man who calls his mom regularly and cries during movies. And they LIE. EVERY BLESSED WOMAN JILL OF THEM. Come on guys, your clue was that “the perfect man drives an Audi” thing. Oh, please!
THEN: THE LAFFER CURVE. NOW: THE LOVITZ CURVE! From Zombie.