Author James Wasserman posted this image on Facebook last week and noted:
Laura Wiggers sent me this photo of Robert Anton Wilson in Gurney’s apartment (1986) for the post-lecture evening described on page 216 of In the Center of the Fire when a certain Nancy Wasserman drove me half crazy, probably in collusion with Laura if memory serves. Not that anyone was drinking in those days!
In trying to figure out a regular angle for my third resolution, it dawned on me the other day how many Robert Anton Wilson (RAW) books — particularly his novels — I still had not read. Maybe for my excerpts for funny PJ Lifestyle Bookshelf recommendations I should highlight his jokes? Hence today’s excerpt from Schrodinger’s Cat: The Universe Next Door.
As with many countercultural and spiritual wanderers of the past 40 years, one of my most cherished guides and influence was RAW, a comedic philosopher-intellectual and novelist most well known for his mind-bending memoir Cosmic Trigger I: Final Secret of the Illuminati and The Illuminatus! Trilogy (co-authored with Robert Shea.)
The idea uniting Wilson’s books is one that I still sympathize with but no longer embrace: radical agnosticism. Wilson sought to provoke his readers to learn to always question their perceptions and assumptions, to strive to look through other people’s “reality tunnels.” As a general principle this is still a sound cause to triumph. But I understand now, having imbibed a few more glasses of painful life experience, that this as an overarching ideology cannot sustain itself.
Recognizing a multiplicity of potentially valuable, useful reality tunnels is one thing. But figuring out how to value one as more effective than another is something else entirely. And looking back now across Wilson’s work I see how he failed to do that. His list of influences runs across the gamut from the genuinely brilliant to the malevolent charlatans. And his storyteller and raconteur’s gifts then apply to help popularize both. Perpetually doubting and always striving to see from another’s perspective means that when the time comes to really stand strong on an important principle it can be very hard to do. Insist long enough that we live in a world of endless shades of gray and someday you’ll stumble into a darkness far bleaker than anything imaginable. And doubt can stand against it?
No, but laughter can. And just because Wilson couldn’t realize that some of the ideas and authors he trumpeted were better than others it doesn’t me that we cannot.
For Wednesday’s humorous blogging I’m going to start going through my old RAW books and highlighting what I discover now through my more seasoned, less naive eyes. I want to try and figure out what Wilson got right and where he went off the rails. Which of his 11 novels and 18 nonfiction books merit inclusion on the Counterculture Conservative book list?
But I’ll still try and stick to the New Year’s Resolution and offer up some humor too and not just dwell on the darkness that he and so many of his generation and many since chose to escape confronting.
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
Three weeks after publicly proclaiming seven self-improvement goals for the new year, my quest for more disciplined time management still remains the most elusive. Some of the problem is that I have not yet figured out how best to utilize the four tools that will navigate me through the combination of my personal and professional lives:
*** Cell phone – currently a Motorola Droid but soon to switch to an iPhone… Finally!
Part of this I can blame on not having all the puzzle pieces yet. My new journal — a birthday present from The Wife — arrived on Friday. And our new phones won’t appear until the end of the week. But soon I’ll have only myself to blame for those all-too-familiar feelings of anxiety and frustration that still arrive some days when I fail to achieve all the goals set.
I suspect that part of the problem is my tendency to multitask. As much as I want to focus on just writing a blog post or just editing an article or just reading a book from the stack of to-review titles, it’s so easy for interruptions — a phone call from a writer, an instant message from another PJM editor — and stray thoughts to lead me astray. And then before I know it I’m juggling numerous tabs across devices, drowning in a sea of emails, tweets, and YouTube videos. And then I’ll have half a dozen tasks part of the way done. Then Maura, our Siberian Husky, comes and asks for me to take her out.
Part of the problem is the nature of the technology itself. For most of the tasks that I do throughout the day I can technically use either my laptop, phone, or iPad. And often even within the same program. Writing emails, reading news reports, and publishing PJM articles through WordPress — these all happen in a single program on one device, and thus end up intermingling together. I haven’t figured out yet which devices and programs are the best.
A few areas that I’ll investigate on in the next few weeks and then report on:
1. Is it easiest to keep track of and respond to emails the traditional way with a computer or primarily on ipad, or phone?
2. Can I really get to the point where it’s possible to publish and edit WordPress articles from the iPad? Can one blog more efficiently and effectively from iPad instead of laptop?
3. What possibilities do the cameras on the iPad and iPhone allow for increasing organization? Am I the only one who has gotten in the habit of casually taking photos of bits of information I’d rather not forget?
4. Maybe I should experiment with this as a “division of powers” of sorts: A) To encourage concise communication, email primarily on the iPhone or iPad B) Use laptop for serious writing and editing, work C) The iPad should be utilized for consuming and sharing media (keeping up with news, blogs, and Kindle books) and social networking.
But what I’m definitely going to start doing:
5. With my new Moleskine journal (volume 15) I’m going to get in the habit of early EVERY day, taking the time to write down a quick summary — perhaps a bullet list — of my goals and plans for the day. If I can visualize the ideal day first thing can I then project an image of it through the visual reminders on the iPad and cell phone? Can I program my technology to help program me into a more organized, more focused person? We shall find out…
Related at PJ LIfestyle:
“Grow a pair.”
We really have returned to junior high. Welcome to Barack Obama’s America in 2013.
Somebody ought to write a book about progressive bullying…
But when it came time to book the show, Morgan’s team refused to tell Shapiro what the format of the show would be. When Shapiro said that he expected balance — a second one-on-one interview with Morgan — Morgan’s producers balked. They did insist strongly, however, that Shapiro appear on the show, where he would be “in for the entire show” and “have a huge part.” When Shapiro again reiterated that balance would be a one-on-one, and asked for more details on what his role would be, Morgan’s producers went silent.
“This is how the left manipulates media situations to ambush conservatives,” Shapiro said. “Piers and I had a good conversation last week about gun control; if he wants a rematch, I’m always game.”
Related at PJ Lifestyle on the childish mentality of mainstream culture today:
According to Boxofficemojo.com, Marvel’s The Avengers ranks as the third most successful film of all time with a global haul of $1.5 billion. Rotten Tomatoes notes the alignment of critics (92% approval) and audiences (96%.) Like other epic fantasy franchises at the top of the list — from Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter and The Matrix — The Avengers resonates universally with audiences and critics across the globe because of its exciting reinventions of classical mythology, religious metaphor, and esoteric symbols.
What follows is my attempt to unpack some of these references and describe what I believe to be their cumulative effect: The Avengers is the best superhero film yet made, both in its entertainment level and moral values. Over at the Weekly Standard, Jonathan V. Last and Travis D. Smith can have their debate of Batman vs Spider-Man. The Avengers rise over them both, providing a much richer fantasy for young people to embrace as they begin the journey toward adulthood.
1. The Invigorating “Live to Rise” Theme Song Explicitly Reveals the Film’s Hidden Hermetic Goal: Directing the Viewer to Understand Their Life as an Expression of the Rise, Fall, Death, and Resurrection of the Sun.
The lyrics to the new Soundgarden song — embedded above — used prominently in the film’s advertising and closing credits:
What if all you understand,
Could fit into the center of our hand,
Then you found it wasn’t you,
Who held the sum of everything you knew,
Like the sun we will live to rise,
Like the sun we will live and die,
And then ignite again,
Like the sun we will live to rise again,
Dr. Israel Regardie’s The One Year Manual: Twelve Steps to Spiritual Enlightenment offers a series of short chapters with practical exercises for improving one’s life. The book distills a lifetime’s worth of engagement with Hermeticism to transform a spiritual practice cloaked in mystery and confusion into an accessible tool for those of all faith traditions.
The book’s exercises involve instruction in prayer, relaxation, rhythmic breathing, meditative ritual, and the development of concentration. Throughout the text Regardie draws from ancient Egyptian, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and scientific traditions to show how one can plug in any deity and use the book’s rituals to help grow closer to one’s conception of the Higher Power.
My friend Rob Taylor suggested The One Year Manual to me last December and I experimented with its techniques throughout 2012. I agree with the author that the book’s first exercise — the Four Adorations — is the most essential and the only one to practice daily, which I do:
In former great ages, man realized intuitively his relationship to nature and to the living universe in which he lived and was a part. He felt his unity with all the elements. In the fullness of his life he worshipped the Sun as a visible symbol of the unknown God in whom we live and move and have our being. It is axiomatic that light is life and both are dependent upon the Sun — which thus becomes a vital symbol of God.
In our modern scientific age of gadgets and things, with our unnatural way of life divorced from contact with the dynamic root of things, we may once more progress towards the full awareness of the source of life and love and liberty, we make ritual gestures of affirming a link between the Sun and ourselves. Upon the basis of these gestures of adoration, every act in life may be dedicated in such a way that living itself becomes sanctified and transformed.
Though God is a unity, the Sun, as a symbol of God, appears differently at each of its four daily stations — dawn, noon, sunset and midnight. Therefore an adoration is directed towards the Sun at each of these four stations.
At dawn, or upon arising, he should perform whatever abulations are customary and then turning towards the East, say audibly:
Hail unto Thee who art Ra in thy rising,
Even unto Thee who art Ra in thy strength,
Who travellest over the Heavens in Thy bark
At the Uprising of the Sun.
Tahuti standeth in His splendour at the prow
And Ra-Hoor abideth at the helm.
Hail unto Thee from the Abodes of the Night!
Much of the symbolism inherent in this simple adoration may be missed by the student for some considerable time. It does not matter just yet. But this should not be permitted to serve as an obstacle to daily practice, nor to deter him from adoring God in the form of the rising Sun every day of his life.
Regardie then explains how the prayer changes at each time of day with different Egyptian gods representing the sun later at noon, sunrise, and night. Here’s a hieroglyph depicting the image of the prayer and the deities referenced: Tahuti (Thoth, the ankh,) Ra-Hoor (Horus the Hawk-headed), and the sun deity Ra (the solar disk):
The great value of the “Four Adorations” comes not in the words of the prayer or the Egyptian gods Regardie suggests. Evangelical Christians could just as easily substitute God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. What matters is how the prayer — adapted from the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead — breaks up the idea of God into multiple parts, asserting that individual deities can only express aspects of a Transcendent God existing beyond human comprehension. We can only hold pieces of God in our head at a time.
What if all you understand,
Could fit into the center of our hand,
Then you found it wasn’t you,
Who held the sum of everything you knew,
Here we see the mechanism for the gradual transition from polytheism to monotheism. It’s not just a matter of belief in one god versus the worship of many. The revolution came not in the idea of a single deity, but an abstract deity defined not in a single symbol — like a Golden Calf — but in the ongoing transformation of one symbol into another. In the Judeo-Christian monotheism that arose out of the polytheism of the Mediterranean world, God was not a Thing. God was the invisible process through which nothing transforms into something. God isn’t a man sitting up in the clouds or an animal-headed supernatural being sailing across the sky in a boat. God is the four-fold process we see manifest in the rise of the sun and the turn of the seasons. And the more we worship this process — Regardie recommends stopping at the same time every day for a moment of reflection and devotion — the more we can apply it to transform ourselves and our world.
Its with this Hermetic understanding — God as a process of continual death and resurrection, “Like the sun we will live to rise again,” — that I approach the heroes and villains of The Avengers with the Tarot deck in hand. The cards each represent aspects of this process of transformation. They are not a fortune-telling or future-predicting device any more than the future changes when the individual seeing the cards chooses to respond to the reminder of the values they represent.
The next 8 pages will each focus on the mythological significance of each hero and villain in The Avengers. The conclusion will explore what story pours out after all these elements liquify in the blender of cinema. My apologies for the length — this is really more of a short ebook rather than a long article. Caveat emptor.
We begin first with the film that carved a space for Marvel at the box office, 2008′s Iron Man and its brilliant, capitalist-hero Tony Stark, an exciting reinvention of the suit of Swords (spades in the playing card deck) fueled by a $140 million budget.
During the second half of 2012 my wife April and I fell away from our Spring habit of regular (twice a month, ideally) DisneyLand visits. This last fall the competing burdens of a full load of graduate-level courses, her first teaching assignment, and enduring the pains and fatigues of her Lupus meant that most Sundays we did not make it to the Happiest Place on Earth. So this last month before our passes expire we’ll get in our final trips for awhile. We’ve decided that when my parents start inquiring about our birthday present we won’t ask for another renewal.
As much as we cherish our DisneyLand Sabbaths until we can both get healthier (New Year’s Resolution #6) and April through the rest of her Masters of Fine Arts program we should find other, less strenuous weekend hobbies (New Year’s Resolution #4.)
In the meantime, I’m going to use these Monday, family-oriented blog posts to share some of the Disney and DisneyLand-oriented tips, suggestions, and opinions accumulated in our two years of loyal, proud membership in the Cult of Mickey Mouse.
One aspect of the DisneyLand visit that April and I have now perfected to a science: prioritizing one’s ride selections in order to maximize happiness generated. As April’s Lupus has gradually cut down the amount of time we can spend each visit we’ve learned how to make good use of the time we do have. We time our visits, get in, hit up the best rides quickly, and escape before both the heavy crowds and her Lupus fatigue begin their assaults. We’ve gotten it down so that in 2 hours we can comfortably enjoy the 5 Do-Them-Every-Time Rides:
5. The Haunted Mansion
4. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
3. Indiana Jones Adventure
2. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
1. Pirates of the Caribbean
In next Monday’s family blog post I’ll discuss why we try and do each of these five rides every time we go to DisneyLand and how you can do them all in just 2 hours as we did yesterday…
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
Real Life Superhero Christian Bale Treats 4-Year-Old Cancer Patient and Family to DisneyLand Vacation
*Profanity Warning For Video.*
I was going to disagree with your assessment of the newest film from Peter Jackson:
As for The Hobbit — well, the first seven hours are a little slow, but it picks up in the final third. I mean, really, it’s one book, make one film. Use some skill, make some choices. Be an artist.
That said, the picture, though endless, looks lovely. The final hour really is exciting. And Martin Freeman, who plays Bilbo, is so incredibly good he almost kept me awake through the opening hours. Or days. Or whatever.
Now what they should do is release “The Studio Cut.” Let some executives into the editing room to pare the thing down to the entertaining bits. One hour long and brilliant. Can’t wait.
But then I realized that I hadn’t actually seen the film. Over the Christmas break my wife, sister, brother-in-law, and I saw the IMAX 3-D presentation. And we were all mesmerized, uplifted into a state of cinematic rapture. April and I even want to pay money to see it again. But I concede your point, minus the additional emotional intensity from the overwhelming audio-visual immersion, perhaps the first third and some of the middle could’ve disappointed. But seeing it in a huge format with characters and effects whooshing out of the screen toward me, those slower excursions through Middle Earth didn’t bore. I was too busy taking in all the details.
What does that mean? That the same motion picture watched on traditional film vs IMAX 3-D can yield such different reactions?
It’s another variation of something we movie
losers geeks enthusiasts have discussed for years: the difference between experiencing a movie in the traditional fashion, projected through film onto a screen in a theater vs. our modern innovation of watching in the comforts of home on a TV screen.
How does storytelling change when the technological tools advance and the medium transforms? Sure, the film of The Hobbit might have improved with some editing, but would the IMAX 3-D experience still have immersed to the same degree? If I’m paying an extra 50% at the box office for more sound and image, doesn’t it make sense that I get more run-time too?
With the continued advance of 3D film technologies and new frame rates, could the genres of stories shift too? Could we start seeing even more traditional, epic filmmaking aimed at a broad audience?
P.S. I beg to differ on the theatrical cuts of The Lord of the Rings being better than the extended, director’s cuts. But then again I’ve only seen the theatrical cuts on film and the extended only on DVD and Blu-Ray. Maybe the director’s cuts are only better if you watch them at home, accompanied by family, only periodically interrupted by a Siberian Husky wanting to go out?
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
More perspectives on The Hobbit at PJ Lifestyle:
And here I was thinking that on the very first day I’d fail to deliver on point 3 from my list of New Year’s Resolutions (my promise to find and present funny things on Wednesdays at PJ Lifestyle.)
For the record: I agree with Breitbart and still adore John Waters after my ideological shift. I suppose it would make sense for some of Waters’ books to join Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World! on my counterculture conservative book list…
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
At PJ Media:
Untrusting of outside law enforcement, some Amish in Lancaster County, PA have for many years regularly turned to a small organized group of men for protection and justice. A sneak peek of Discovery’s new series Amish Mafia, which provides a first-ever look at the men who protect and maintain peace and order within the Amish community in Lancaster, will air Tuesday, December 11 at 10:30 PM ET/PT. The series will premiere Wednesday, December 12 at 9:00PM ET/PT.
The 2006 School shootings in Lancaster County during which five young Amish girls were killed and five more seriously injured by a non-Amish milk truck driver brought to the nation’s attention the vulnerabilities of the Amish community, and their need for continued protection.
When you think of the Amish, buggies, bonnets, peace and simplicity come to mind. In the historic Amish settlement of Lancaster, protection and “peace” can come at a price.
Lebanon Levi is the Amish insider who holds the power and serves as protector of the community for a price. He exists above the law and occupies the role of police, judge and jury. Levi’s team engages in a life outside of Amish and non-Amish community codes as he quietly exerts his influence and control. Levi’s brand of order is precise as he seeks to keep outside forces from infiltrating the Amish community, while keeping the principles and morality within the community in check.
Levi’s team is lean and fearless. Alvin is Levi’s right hand man and nobody gets to Levi without going through Alvin first. A lifelong friend, Alvin is at first glance an average passive Amish community member. However, he has a dark side, a past, and most importantly, Levi’s complete trust. Alvin will protect Levi at any cost.
At the beginning of every episode of Amish Mafia the producers admit that they utilize “select reenactments” in order to protect the innocent Amish. One need not watch much of the show to realize that everything is a reenactment and the documentary approach is just an aesthetic style. (Otherwise everyone involved in the show would be in jail as accessories to crimes. Stores depicted as “under Lebanon Levi’s protection” on the show make a big joke of it in real life.)
When “Reality TV” first began to rise in popularity more than a decade ago shows offered the thrill of supposedly “real people” overcoming real challenges out in the real world — not predictable, fictional characters in familiar scenarios with laugh tracks. But Amish Mafia amounts to little more than a sitcom shot in documentary style.
The show’s success speaks to culturally secular America’s continued need to wallow in criminality, the fantasy of vigilante justice, and the subversive thrill of blurring the sacred and the profane. If even a pious people like the Amish can’t get by without a corrupt thug-in-chief like Lebanon Levi to dispense his own brand of “justice,” then what hope is there for the rest of us?
More on reality TV at PJ Lifestyle:
For 2013 at PJ Lifestyle we’re going to try to organize the seemingly endless abyss of “Lifestyle” topics with a general theme each day. These appear on the About Us page and include links to some of the articles we’ve published this past year:
We try to blog on seven general subjects each week from a variety of perspectives that do not always agree. The topics include:
Every Tuesday, we post career advice, self-improvement tips, product reviews, and how-to guides as well as blogs on entrepreneurship, disaster preparation, gardening, and self-sufficiency.
The middle of the week requires some laughter. That’s why every Wednesday we’ll have humorous pieces featuring satire, viral videos, goofy images and amusing photoshops, cute animals, slideshow galleries and other memes from across the Web.
On Thursday, PJ Lifestyle is your go-to place for the latest info on pop culture – ranging from movies, TV, novels, music and celebrities – as well as posts about other cultures – like military culture, counterculture, California culture, traditional culture, international culture, odd subcultures, geek culture – and more.
Spend Saturdays finding new recipes and cooking tips, learning about new ways to exercise and stay healthy, reading medical stories, and keeping up with sports and outdoor life.
And on Sundays, you’ll find content featuring interfaith dialogue, religion-based commentary, and posts on spirituality, ethics and morality.
One of the most important contributors to PJ Lifestyle this year has been Charlie Martin. His Thirteen Weeks diet and and exercise regimen has been an inspiration. This past fall Charlie has updated us every week on his progress to improve his health and live a long, long life. We’re going to try to provide more content like this — but on all seven subjects. Not just blog posts pontificating on what should be, but articles documenting what we do. Too often as writers and bloggers we forget that these New Media tools aren’t the end. They’re merely the means to whatever end we want to pursue and achieve. And at PJ Lifestyle that end is a happier, more fulfilling, richer life appreciating all the possibilities of what it means to be free.
I’ve decided on 7 New Year’s Resolutions this year, each corresponding with one of these themes and inspiring my daily blogging. I invite others to join me and offer their suggestions.
It’s one of my biggest disappointments that I’ve only begun to accept in the past few years: the average level of maturity that we experience in high school is as good as it gets. That’s where most people stop their emotional and intellectual development. Once one realizes and accepts that overgrown teenagers dominate the planet, then literally everything starts to make much more sense.
First in my post-college years in the workplace and second as I began a career of full-time new media editing the same questions continually emerged. What happened to America’s grown-ups? How come so many “adults” still act like adolescents spreading gossip, stabbing each other in the back, lying, nursing petty rivalries, and obsessing over how much fun sex is? Isn’t college supposed to be the last hurrah where you get all the stupid things you need to do out of your system before your idiocy can hurt others too much?
As the Obama campaign dragged the national dialogue down to the locker room level thanks to Lena Dunham and Sandra Fluke, baby boomer conservatives uniformly predicted victory for their white knight Mitt Romney. This Ward Cleaver epitome of adult respectability would inspire the legions of “Silent Majority” American grown-ups (who somehow the pollsters kept missing) to awaken to the truth of Obama’s fantasy of raising taxes on “the rich” for fairness’s sake regardless of the disastrous economic consequences and the pitiful extra 8 days’ worth of revenue to gain.
But those voters didn’t show up. They don’t exist anymore. Decades of cultural Marxist infiltration have finally started to bear fruit. Two rising cohorts that played key roles in Obama’s victory include the never-married and the irreligious (two interrelated subjects, as readers of David P. Goldman’s How Civilizations Die know).
Where did these voters come from to assist the president in his fundamental transformation of America?
From Newsbusters, a transcript of the end of Saturday Night Live‘s lead monologue this weekend:
JAMIE FOXX: My name is Jamie Foxx. Give it up, give it up, New York City, Saturday Night Live. Come on, make some noise, man. New York City, New York City, Brooklyn, Staten Island, Queens, it’s crazy. I’m black, and I’m dressed all black cause it’s good to be black. Black is the new white. I’m telling you, how black is this right here? Nice fly, I’m saying. You know how I know black is in right now? Cause the Nets moved to Brooklyn. How black is that? They got black jerseys, black court. I mean, how black is that? And Jay-z is the owner, a rapper. How black is that? And Jay-z only own about this much of the team. But he act like he own all of New York. How black is that?
And I got a movie coming out, “Django,” check it out. Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson. “Django Unchained” I play a slave. How black is that? And in the movie I had to wear chains. How whack is that? But don’t be worried about it because I get out the chains, I get free, I save my wife, and I kill all the white people in the movie. How great is that? And how black is that?
But I’m going to tell you right now, speaking of blackness, my President, President Obama is back up in the White House four more years. How black is that? And not only that, he’s so black, he was playing basketball during the Election Day. How black is that? But he was also late for his acceptance speech. Okay, all the white people, this is your turn – how black is that?
But he going to be extra black this next four years. He going to get everything black, and white people, don’t get nervous about that because he is mixed. Now the first four years was the white side of him, because I don’t know if you saw him on Ellen when he was dancing and everything. I don’t know what this is. That wasn’t President Obama, that was President Barry Gibb Obama. But the next four years he’s even changing his name from to President Barack Dikembe Mutombo Tupac Mandela Hussein Obama X. How black is that? And the next time you see him dancing on Ellen, he gonna be dancing like this.
“Long before quantum mechanics, the German philosopher Husserl said that all perception is gamble. Every type of bigotry, every type of racism, sexism, prejudice, every dogmatic ideology that allows people to kill other people with a clear conscience, every stupid cult, every superstition-ridden religion, every kind of ignorance in the world, are all results from not realizing that our perceptions are gambles. We believe what we see, and then we believe our interpretation of it, but we don’t even know we’re making an interpretation most of the time.”
This week my friend John Hawkins released his annual ranking of the 50 best conservative columnists. A very generous guy, John included me on the list. And ahead of George Will too!
I wonder, though: what does it mean to be a columnist today?
Well, what qualifies as a column? The defining characteristics, which I invite others to dispute or refine in the comments: A) a regular appearance usually either weekly or bi-weekly, B) a standard word count in the range of 600-1500 words, and C) usually with a focus on opinion, analysis, or entertainment — not “objective,” fly-on-the-wall journalism.
But that’s the Old School understanding I learned in journalism classes in the pre-blogosphere days. Now in the New Media era a “column” counts as any piece of writing and “columnist” doubles for “writer.” And that’s fine — language evolves and we only gain so much from playing the semantics game. Here at PJ Media we call our all-star team of writers “Columnists” even though the content they produce ranges across the spectrum from blog posts to journalistic articles to traditional op/ed columns to extended essays on to Ed Driscoll’s podcasts and Zombie’s unforgettable photos.
But the truth is that the name does still fit for most of the PJ Columnists, and pressed to answer John’s challenge to provide “YOUR LIST of the best conservative columnists” I’d have to actually create two, the first of those I edit now and the second of those I wouldn’t mind editing someday. The 10 PJ columnists who predominantly write on a regular basis in the “newspaper column” style, of a 600-1500+ word, opinionated, elegantly stylized analysis (in no ranked order):
Roger L. Simon, Barry Rubin, Andrew Klavan, Roger Kimball, Michael Walsh, Andrew C. McCarthy, Claudia Rosett, David P. Goldman, Victor Davis Hanson, and Michael Ledeen
The other PJ Columnists I’d classify as top-tier bloggers (Stephen Green, Ed Driscoll, Helen Smith and Blog Father Glenn Reynolds) and deep essayists (Ron Radosh and Ion Mihai Pacepa.) J. Christian Adams’s Rule of Law, Richard Fernandez’s Belmont Club, and the mysterious Zombie transcend categorization in their own unique ways — the three of them have each taken the tools of New Media to innovate their own new mediums.
So about that second list… I decided to take John’s list and A) edit it down to my top 10 choices, B) re-order counting down to the best, C) throw on 5 more conservative columnists I adore who John neglected to include.
But here’s the problem: I’m fairly confident about the ranking of only the top 2. I could see legitimate reasons for why one should rank higher or lower than others.
So for my top 20 list of Best Conservative Columnists (forthcoming soon here at PJ Lifestyle) I thought I’d first hear the arguments of others about A) who should go where, B) which five additional columnists deserve inclusion, and C) if anyone I’ve already selected does not warrant placement.
Back in June of 2009, my friend Jimmy and I attended the NINJA tour, a double show of Nine Inch Nails and Jane’s Addiction with a new band called Street Sweeper Social Club as the opener. I wrote at the time:
One of the songs we heard was from the leftist band Rage Against the Machine, no doubt because the evening’s opening act was a new group called Street Sweeper Social Club, co-founded by Rage guitarist Tom Morello. As we finished our drinks, stuck the cooler back in the car, and began walking toward the concert I said to Jimmy, “You know even though I understand now that the guys in Rage Against the Machine are a bunch of Stalinists I still enjoy their music.” The same sentiment could be said of Morello’s new effort.
Street Sweeper Social Club is a joint project of Morello and Raymond “Boots” Riley, the lead singer of the radical hip-hop group the Coup. And Riley is so far to the left that he makes Rage lead singer Zack de la Rocha look like Pat Buchanan. Throughout Street Sweeper’s short set Riley declared his political positions, at one point arguing that the government needs to have “a people’s bailout, not a corporate bailout.” They also played a cover of the popular M.I.A. song “Paper Planes,” a catchy track that’s become the leftist anthem of late.
Riley’s quite open and blunt about his political religion:
“I am a communist. I have been a communist/socialist since I was 14 years old. I think that people should have democratic control over the profits that they produce. It is not real democracy until you have that. And the plain and simple definition of communism is the people having democratic control over the profits that they create. When you first have a revolution, you are heading into socialism. People who were against communism have defined communism for us. People that are for communism and who have dedicated their lives and given their lives to giving people power, they are the ones that created the concept.”
Riley hasn’t shown up on my radar much since, at least until the other day when one of my Marxist friends shared this interview with him from Mark Maynard. Here are a few choice selections for PJ Lifestyle readers’ comedic enjoyment.
First, Boots explains why it’s OK for a communist to sell his music to Fox for an episode of The Simpsons but not to K-Mart for an advertising jingle:
MARK: I’m curious as to where you draw the line. You mentioned earlier that folks in the Progressive Labor Party had told you that no artistic endeavor could come out of the Capitalist system and have any meaning, or something along those lines. And you pursue this line as a career. But you draw a line at advertising…
BOOTS: I didn’t believe them (that nothing good could come from works produced within the system)… In reality, that’s where music comes in. It’s advertising. Music is licensed to TV shows. It’s advertising. TV shows are there to keep people watching, so they’ll watch commercials. So, the music that’s licensed to them helps that to happen. And we do that.
MARK: Yeah. You’ve done that. You’ve written music for the Simpsons, and done other stuff. But yet, when it comes to selling a song to Levi’s, you’ve said something like, “That’s a line that I won’t cross.” And I’m curious about that line, and where you draw it. Like you say, the TV show is there to sell ads, and you work with them. So, that line is kind of fuzzy… I’m just wondering what your thought process is. Do you consider, for instance, the good stuff you could do with the money that you’d receive from selling a song to a company, or the fact that it would get your music out to a broader audience? I guess what I’m asking is, how firm is that line?
BOOTS: Well… for instance, K-Mart offered us a bunch of money for the Magic Clap. They wanted to make it a part of their main commercial ad campaign for the fall. So, you’d turn on the TV, and you’d hear, “K-Mart, Magic Clap,” forever. And you’d think of K-Mart when you hear that song. And do I want to spend my life with that? Like, the job market is hard out there, but… that would erase a lot of shit, you know? If I were going to try to make money, I could probably think of some other things to do, that weren’t music-related. If I did that, though, I’d reach more of an audience, but people would be thinking of that song, or whatever it is, as connected to that group. So, you know, when they offer The Coup money, they’re not only offering The Coup that. They’re buying a group. They’re buying an idea, you know? The idea that, “Even these dudes, are behind this product.”
Next Boots explains why it’s OK for a communist to participate in an evil exploitative system like capitalism:
MARK: I know that Bill Maher gave you a hard time about it on his show, and he also, as I recall, said something about you being a Communist, like “people who sell records aren’t Communists.” Are you getting better at answering those kinds of challenges now, after having heard them for a couple of decades?
BOOTS: The idea of wanting to make a revolution…. You have to be in the system to do it. You can’t say, “You can’t be a Communist and work retail.” If you work in an automotive factory, you’re participating in Capitalism, but how else do you organize anyone, if you’re not part of it? Folks that say stuff like that either don’t understand, or they’re looking for a quick retort. The reality is that what people are saying is not that they don’t want to participate, but that they don’t want other people to be affected. I don’t want other people to be affected by Capitalism. I feel that, in reality… and I may be deluding myself.… I’m a pretty crafty dude. I can figure out how to survive. I could figure out how to be the crab that climbs up the barrel, or whatever. But I don’t want for there to be a barrel. I don’t want everybody else to get cooked. And that’s the point.
During the Thanksgiving holiday The Wife proposed a Harry Potter movie marathon. I’ve never considered myself much of a Potter-fan. During the books’ popularity over the last 15 years I resisted reading them. And while I saw six of the eight movies during my film critic days — and appreciated them individually — the franchise as a whole never inspired devotions to the level of the pop culture cults of my childhood and teen years, Star Wars and Star Trek.
So I welcomed the chance to give the series a second look, fueled by The Wife’s enthusiasm. She read all the books and knows the arcane details backwards and forwards. The Potter books arrived for April, a few years my junior, as a receptive older child, for me as an angsty teenager looking for “mature” books.
Last Wednesday night after wrapping up the day’s editing I made a run to the library to pick up the four titles we didn’t already own (The Half-Blood Prince) or have recorded on the DVR (Prisoner of Azkaban and both Deathly Hallows). And so began our epic Thanksgiving Potterfest with The Sorcerer’s Stone that night; which we carried on at a pace of three films both Thursday and Friday before concluding on Saturday morning.
My conclusion: young geeks nowadays have much better options than previous generations. Compare the eight Harry Potter films with the six Star Wars and eleven Star Trek. By any “objective” measure — box office, percentage of positive reviews, or number of award-winning actors featured in the films – Harry Potter wins. And does any Jedi or Trekkie want to argue that by the “subjective” measure — just sitting down and watching all the films in the series — Harry fails to triumph over Luke, Han, Kirk, and Spock?
Via Amy Odell at Buzzfeed, “Rihanna’s Nude Perfume Meant To Recall ‘Glistening’ Skin”:
After Rihanna tweeted the first photo from the new campaign for her latest fragrance Nude, it raised the question that comes up every so often about what “nude” means, exactly, in terms of a shade of commercial fashion and beauty items. Why does nude, by definition, match a white person’s skin? In this Nude fragrance ad and packaging, the nude color is more akin to a white person’s skin than person of color’s.
She’s right. Here’s Merriam Webster with a definition in need of a revision:
a : devoid of a natural or conventional covering; especially :not covered by clothing or a drape
b (1) : of the color of a white person’s flesh (2) : giving the appearance of nudity <a nude dress>
Laura Beck at Jezebel seems to recognize something wrong but fails to adequately articulate the real cultural conflict in play:
I will say, I’m sure there are many people who don’t know that “nude” refers to the color of a white person’s flesh, maybe they think it just means “naked.” But even with that explanation — what’s with the light-colored lingerie? And why isn’t the color of the packaging darker? If they were referring to Rihanna naked, which, WILD GUESS, I think they might be, then why are all the components so damn white?
Am I nuts for expecting a leeetle better from Rihanna? I know the answer is yes, but I thought maybe she was a little more thoughtful about shit based on what she tweeted back to that idiot who asked why her hair was nappy: “cuz I’m black bitch!!!!” That was rad.
Why the reference to Rihanna’s hair in a story complaining about her new perfume’s name and packaging?
Because there’s a cultural civil war happening right now over hair, beauty, and race. The question: should black and multi-racial women continue investing tens of thousands of dollars each year on artificial hair “weaves” and damaging chemical straighteners so they can imitate the style of Caucasian women? Should they adopt unnatural looks like the blonde Rihanna in the ad above?
Or would they appear more beautiful embracing the styles the rising “natural hair movement” advocates?
I don’t understand the thinking of any man who would assert that black and biracial women need to make themselves look more Caucasian in order to become attractive. Should any dare to defend themselves for the demands they place on the women they claim to love, then I welcome their justifications in the comments below. Would any man do so with his real name?
More on race at PJ Lifestyle:
Isn’t it great when Marxists eschew the Saul Alinsky strategy of obscuring their unpopular objectives and instead return to the New Left tradition of openly stating their destructive goals?
Please, by all means, start telling us all about how you want to destroy each institution that sustains Western civilization.
Check out this fantastic piece at The New Inquiry by Madeleine Schwartz, “The Anti-Family,” lamenting that MTV’s Teen Mom show “does not attempt radical advocacy”:
In presenting these relationships in with dignity, Teen Mom acknowledges what it viewers may not wish to know: this is the shape of the family in America today. The show does not attempt radical advocacy, but it does understand that the most fundamental patterns in American life can’t be covered up. Teen motherhood, single motherhood, unmarried cohabitation—these are not plagues or social ills that pose a threat to the otherwise normal structures of everyday life. They are our new social reality.
What the show doesn’t get to is that this is a good thing.
There is nothing wrong with teenage or single motherhood. The things children need: economic livelihood, emotional support and an education, are not dependent on a nuclear family structure. Poverty is poverty whether it’s endured by two people or four. A couple cannot raise a child better than one can. Once we get rid of the idea that marriage is the privileged form of cohabitation and that women cannot raise children without the help of a man—ideas that the Left has been working to eradicate for decades—there is no reason that a teen should not be financially and emotionally assisted for her choice to have a family. The potential diffusion of the family (as the New York Times recently reported, it doesn’t look like the trends will stop anytime soon) is one of the most exciting things to happen to the American social pattern since sexual liberation. It means the end of what were just decades ago universal truths: every household must be headed by a breadwinning man; only when married will a woman have social value.
The problem is not teen motherhood. The problem is the legal system that makes the lives of teenage and single parents impossible. The shaming and belittling of teenage mothers is not just rhetoric: Teenage parents are actively discriminated against. Teen parents cannot receive financial assistance unless they live with their parents or marry. They cannot get welfare if they are not enrolled in an educational program.. In some cases, the state can deny all benefits to babies born to unmarried teenage parents. Welfare reform has taken money earmarked for families in need and diverted it toward programs aimed at promoting marriage and abstinence (For example: “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage”). All of this comes on top of the routine discriminations against single parents—higher insurance and tax rates, difficulties in obtaining housing and jobs—and those against the poor, who with the Hyde Amendment may not even have been able to abort if they had wanted. These policies were created with the explicit goal encouraging a two-parent model. They make any other option out of the question.
One almost reads stuff like this and wonders if it’s some Onion-style parody of Marxism. “The problem is the legal system that makes the lives of teenage and single parents impossible.” Translation: the real problem is that the United States has not fully implemented a wealth redistribution apparatus to subsidize teenage moms who “choose” to become single parents. Hmm… How might anyone manage that in the next four years?
I have written for The Believer, The New Yorker online, The New Inquiry and The Daily, among other places. My work has been referenced in The Atlantic and The Economist.
Until May 2012, I was an undergraduate at Harvard, where I studied ancient and Renaissance history. As a student, I wrote a column about women at the university for The Crimson, was an editor at The Advocate and worked for the head of the Harvard library. From 2010 to 2011, I was a Ledecky Fellow at Harvard Magazine.
I am currently studying at Oxford as a Henry Fellow.
I wonder how how much money Schwartz has spent on her education…
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
Just a few short years ago, James McAvoy was best known to audiences for his role as the half-human, half-goat Mr. Tumnus in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. However, in the years since, the Scottish actor has seen his career expand from Oscar bait like The Last King of Scotland and Atonement to big-budget Hollywood fare like Wanted and X-men: First Class.
That eclectic mix of films indicates that McAvoy has little worry about becoming typecast and is willing to take on a risky, even controversial project without a second thought. In his career, he’s already tackled political drama, period romance, high-octane action and superhero spectacle. However, despite risking fanboy ire by taking on the role of young Professor Charles Xavier, McAvoy is now set to take on his most divisive project to date.
According to Variety, McAvoy is in talks to star alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in Dreamworks’ untitled Wikileaks film. The actor would play Daniel Domscheit-Berg, the author whose book Inside Wikileaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website serves as the basis for the film. The studio acquired the rights to both that book and Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange’s War on Secrecy, and both will serve as inspirations for the film’s screenplay.
I’ve liked McAvoy since seeing him stand his own against Forest Whitaker’s mesmerizing Idi Amin performance in 2006′s The Last King of Scotland. It looks like again he’s going to play another real life character drawn into a dangerous criminal cult. (Though I hardly expect the evil acts of Julian Assange to receive the same honest depiction as Amin.)
Note to self: pick up Inside Wikileaks from the library. The ideologies fueling Wikileaks’ founders in their efforts to sabotage the United States national security efforts need additional study…
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
I’ve resisted this for awhile. The past three years I’ve readily identified as an ideologically conservative, pro-Tea Party, ex-leftist. But I resisted joining the Republican Party, preferring to focus on the war of ideas, the battles of Left and Right, Marxist vs Classical Liberal, rather than Democrat vs Republican.
When Mitt Romney secured the nomination I naively thought, “well, he’s got that corporate competence. Surely they’ll be as smart at growing a campaign as they would building a business, right? Even if they can’t articulate Americanism at least they’ll maximize on the basics of Get Out the Vote and fundraising and all the boring, professional stuff, right?”
Wrong, as Bethany Mandel reports at Commentary. Turns out we’re not looking just at the broader cultural problem of a 5% raise in nonreligious voters, but also a Republican Party unable to compete in the technological arms race or even run a competent Get-out-the-vote (GOTV) operation:
The story of how monumental a failure Project ORCA was on Election Day was first reported by a volunteer, John Ekdahl, on the Ace of Spades blog. After tweeting the article, I was contacted by several other volunteers who were eager to explain in greater detail just how many things went wrong with Project Orca on Tuesday.
I spoke with one volunteer in a rural Virginia county who had a similar experience to the blogger on Ace’s site. Shoshanna McCrimmon signed up to volunteer on Romney’s website several months ago. She was contacted by Dan Centinello of the Romney campaign and underwent online and phone training that lasted for several hours in order to volunteer locally on Election Day. Because of secrecy concerns, the application itself was inaccessible until the morning of the election. From the outset there were failures of organization.
Was ORCA’s failure the reason why Romney lost Virginia by almost 116,000 votes, Ohio by 103,000, Iowa by 88,000 or why Florida is still, days later, too close to call? It’s impossible to know what a Romney campaign with working GOTV technology would have been able to accomplish. Ekdahl explained that with the failure of Project ORCA’s organization and its later meltdown on Election Day “30,000+ of the most active and fired-up volunteers were wandering around confused and frustrated when they could have been doing anything else to help. Like driving people to the polls, phone-banking, walking door-to-door, etc.” The possibility that all of the efforts of Romney’s campaign, all of the enthusiasm, went unharnessed and dormant on Election Day when they could’ve at least led to a closer election result, if not a victory, is becoming beyond frustrating for thousands of his staffers, for the millions of Americans who gave their time and money to elect Mitt Romney president as they come to learn just what a disaster ORCA seems to have been.
This is my tipping point. Will it be for anyone else?
1. Today I’m joining the Republican Party because I recognize that it’s not enough to take back the culture. We could spend four years pushing the culture and expanding the base and then it would be all for naught because incompetent GOP campaign operatives cannot run a campaign.
2. Today I’m joining the Republican Party because over the coming years as ideological factions compete for influence the antisemitic elements within the party — Ron Paul’s Paleo-Libertarian, Old Right, Anarcho Capitalist, Conspiracy Theory cult coalition — threaten to gain greater influence.
3. Today I’m join joining the Republican Party because as I’ve returned to Bible-based religion and a faith in God during the past year I’ve come to understand the story of the ancient Israelites rebelling against slavery and idolatry as the basis for Western Civilization, our ancestors’ flight from Europe, and the founding of this nation. The Republican Party was founded as the anti-slavery Party. It still is today.
shutterstock images courtesy patrimonio designs limited /
Cross-Posted from the PJ Tatler.
From counterculture publisher and ex-Capitalist-turned-Marxist Richard Metzger at Dangerous Minds, “Legalized marijuana in Washington and Colorado: Not if Obama can help it“:
Admit it, Obama voters, this is the kinda thing you expected Mitt Romney to do if he got into office. What did this take, all of around 36-hours, to get floated to the press?
Maybe I should have voted for (unimpressive) Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson (I probably agree with him on about 25% of the issues, around the same percentage as I agree with Obama, anyway). On election day it was more appealing to me to record a “f*** you” vote to the Republicans than to make a different sort of protest vote, but Obama is already making me regret that, as tiny a protest as that would have been, just TWO DAYS later!
The problem? The president’s federal government won’t give up without a fight. Metzger:
If his DOJ does nothing about this, no one will even notice (Keep in mind that the Bush administration did very, very little to curb the explosive growth in California’s cannabis trade). Now they’re just going to get mad. F*** Obama. What’s so “Forward” about this s***?
I want my vote back!
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
Last Sunday, after publishing my article on President Barack Obama’s ideological influences, my wife April and I caught a matinee of Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, a traditional family film you shouldn’t miss. Today, having swallowed last night’s bitter pill, I really want to go back and watch it again. The film’s fantasy — to bring your best friend back to life — speaks to a need many of us feel today as we recognize the America of years past no longer exists. We are not a “center-right” nation any more.
The black and white, stop-motion film remakes an early Burton short of Frankenstein reinvented into ’50s suburbia. Clever references to classic horror abound from the visual style to the characters’ names and designs. Victor, Burton’s adolescent alter ego, spends his days shooting amateur monster movies in his back yard with his dog Sparky. He’s an oddball amongst the picket fences and perfect lawns but he has his loving dog and a drive to create.
Then Sparky dies and Victor’s life collapses.
He goes to school, bored and depressed until his science teacher, a Vincent Price-inspired, Martin Landau-voiced Mr. Rzykruski, shows what happens to a dead frog with a few zaps of electricity. This moves Victor to attempt the dog-version of the classic 1931 Frankenstein sequence:
Political theology, as defined by Wikipedia:
Political theology or public theology is a branch of both political philosophy and practical theology that investigates the ways in which theological concepts or ways of thinking underlie political, social, economic and cultural discourses.
Writing amidst the turbulence of the German Weimar Republic, Carl Schmitt argued in Political Theology that the central concepts of modern politics were secularized versions of older theological concepts.
Center-Left polemicist John Avlon at The Daily Beast claims that “Over the past four years, no less than 89 obsessively anti-Obama books have been published.” This isn’t true — and Avlon knows it — as a casual stroll through “Interactive Hate: The Great Obama-Loathing Canon” reveals. Many of the titles he calls “books,” those who made them understood as short pamphlets. I recognize several that I helped edit and produce for a conservative 501(c)3. Others come from obscure, self-published authors with no influence.
Avlon’s big number of anti-Obama “books” hides the reality: plenty of titles with scary Obama pictures on the cover filled the market since 2008 but few offered little more than a polished collection of what you could find for free doing anti-Obama google searches. To understand the president one must look beyond the new release shelf.
Here are the 15 books I’ve found most useful in grasping the intentionally confusing worldview of our commander-in-chief: 4 recent books focused on Obama by conservative critics, 6 historical books on movements and ideologies, and 5 titles by the president, his supporters, mentors, and influences.
To grasp Barack Obama we need to understand the books he read when he first began his community organizing journey three decades ago. We have to put ourselves in the head of the young, college-age Barry to understand how ideological seeds grew into the disastrous public policy of his administration. To know where to begin we start with the two books by Barack Obama’s best, most underrated analyst, Stanley Kurtz.
Since its publication in October of 2010, Radical-in-Chief has served as my primary map for navigating the stormy media waters of the Obama presidency. I reviewed it here for the publication I edited at the time, instructed all my writers to read it, and applied a blunt headline to summarize its importance: “Case Closed: Barack Obama is a Socialist Working to Destroy America.”
My progressive friends laugh their heads off when I argue this with a straight face. They see Obama as a corporate sell-out still carrying on most of Bush’s war policy. Obama’s just a wimpy, moderate liberal and party hack beholden to Wall Street. To which I respond,
That’s what Obama wants you to think. In his memoir he admits attending Socialist Scholars conferences in New York City in the early 1980s. Stanley Kurtz has verified which ones he attended, who spoke there, and what ideas were argued. It’s there that Obama learned about what community organizing really is all about. And when you read these people’s books — like Saul Alinsky — they admit it quite openly that they are just pretending to be centrist pragmatists in order to dupe do-gooder liberals like I was and you still are so they can gradually implement a European social welfare state. There’s a reason why over 90% of Europeans would vote Obama. He’s one of them.
That’s when my friends usually change the subject.
How do we know for certain that Obama’s ideology is still the same as in the early 1980s when he began his career as a stealth socialist community organizer? It’s not just because his administration draws from the ranks of community organizers and employs the movement’s tactics on the national level. It’s because Obama still works with the same people who are still pursuing the same goals. All that’s changed is now Obama’s the “good cop,” a friendly politician, instead of the hardball activist “bad cop.”
In Spreading the Wealth: How Obama is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities, Kurtz shows Obama’s second term plans. He reveals that the exact same community organizing mentors who trained Obama now work for him. Their goal? To quietly, as no one pays attention at the national level, use regulatory boards to implement “Regionalism.” The objective: create regions based around metropolitan areas that can swallow up and redistribute tax money from the richer suburbs to the poor inner cities. They would also seize control of schools, lower educational standards, and implement regulations to stop the growth of suburbia. Kurtz describes it as replicating the collapsing system of the European Union here in the United States. This is the “fundamental transformation.” And Kurtz unearthed documents within the archives of these stealth socialist community organizing groups irrefutably identifying Obama as a partner in the effort.
Barack Obama may have begun as a minor figure within the world of community organizing but by the mid ’90s he was a major player, responsible for directing millions through his position on the boards of numerous charitable foundations. The paper trail Kurtz assembles between his two books of Obama’s deep associations with this ideological movement to transform America lies too deep for any of the president’s defenders to explain. So they can only follow the president’s lead, a favored tactic of Alinsky, and obfuscate.
Just like the youtube deception with Benghazi, and just as we see in the next two books, focusing on the methods of ACORN and Eric Holder’s Department of Justice…
Related from Ron Radosh: The Book to Defeat Obama: Stanley Kurtz’s Spreading the Wealth
Burbank, CA and San Francisco, CA, October 30, 2012 – Continuing its strategy of delivering exceptional creative content to audiences around the world, The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) has agreed to acquire Lucasfilm Ltd. in a stock and cash transaction. Lucasfilm is 100% owned by Lucasfilm Chairman and Founder, George Lucas.
Under the terms of the agreement and based on the closing price of Disney stock on October 26, 2012, the transaction value is $4.05 billion, with Disney paying approximately half of the consideration in cash and issuing approximately 40 million shares at closing. The final consideration will be subject to customary post-closing balance sheet adjustments.
“Lucasfilm reflects the extraordinary passion, vision, and storytelling of its founder, George Lucas,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. “This transaction combines a world-class portfolio of content including Star Wars, one of the greatest family entertainment franchises of all time, with Disney’s unique and unparalleled creativity across multiple platforms, businesses, and markets to generate sustained growth and drive significant long-term value.”
“For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next,” said George Lucas, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lucasfilm. “It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products.”
This is fantastic news! Disney purchasing Lucasfilm is akin to buying a drunk driver’s corvette before he smashes it up again. It looks like Mr. Lucas’s Wild Ride has now concluded.
Related at PJ Lifestyle:
Last month in “Why This Election Year America Is Carmela Soprano” I lamented that in The Sopranos, one of the most celebrated TV shows of the era, the main characters remained as broken at the end as the beginning. Tony Soprano spent six seasons going to therapy to, supposedly, treat his psychological problems. It’s all for naught since Tony never grapples with the evil acts he commits and the suffering they cause for others. His wife Carmela also remains trapped in his criminal world, unable to grasp that while she lounges comfortably in a luxurious New Jersey suburb, others lie dead, their bodies hidden and forgotten as a result of her husband’s Mafia-style perversion of the American Dream.
I feared that voters would take a similar approach this election, ignoring the evil men who we now know shaped Barack Obama’s ideas and the bloody reality of their implementation. For all of the summer and into September I operated with the mindset of the 99%. With the legacy media cleaning up his messes, and the economy still not bad enough for most to really feel the pain, there was about a 99% chance of Obama winning the election. And polls aside, the mysterious variable of voter fraud weighed heavily on my mind with every new J. Christian Adams story.
In conversations with friends, I referenced more how we should prepare for Obama’s second term impeachment, rather than putting our hopes in the GOP establishment to avoid a repeat of 2008. And while my respect for Mitt Romney had grown considerably, I still doubted his campaign’s competence. (The yielding of Obamacare!) But a few unknown unknowns remained on the horizon as October began:
Obama bombing that first debate. Benghazi. Two weeks of trying to disguise a terrorist attack as a “spontaneous” response to a YouTube video.
A lot can happen in a month.
Last Sunday, on the eve of the last presidential debate, my wife April and I finished our successor show to The Sopranos, the third season of Showtime’s Nurse Jackie. By then my assessment of the president’s reelection chances had dropped to 66% — where it still remains today. The Romney campaign leaped to life as a shot of reality hit the American people in the heart. But is it enough to fully awaken America from the haze of a four-year hopenchange high?
Edie Falco, who played Carmela on The Sopranos, stars as Jackie Peyton, a 20-year veteran of the Emergency Room at All Saints’ Hospital in New York City. She’s a fighter, eager to battle hospital bureaucracy and push others to do what’s right for patients. In an age where we’ve all experienced the packed doctor offices often filled with indifferent staffers, a Super-Nurse Warrior like Jackie makes for an appropriate hero. Jackie’s greenhorn coworker, a Millennial named Zoey Barkow (Merritt Wever), sees her as such, declaring her a saint and her role model.
But Jackie knows her sins well. She might be the superhero in the ER but behind the scenes she’s addicted to prescription pills, sometimes steals to support her habit, and carries on an affair with Eddie the pharmacist. She also neglects her husband and their two daughters, both of whom have started acting out in response to her workaholism.
And in every episode new saints and sinners stumble into the ER and Jackie struggles to balance the scales, pushing ethical boundaries and soothing her guilty conscience with the thrill of saving everyone else’s life except her own.
And the statues of the saints watch on as Jackie retreats to the hospital’s chapel — her Temple — struggling to find a way out of the new problem brought courtesy of her expensive drug addiction.
Noah was a drunk. David was an adulterer. Jackie is both.
Not yet mentioned in the series, though somewhat implicit, is that Jackie probably has some variety of psychological disorder. The same biochemical combination in her head pushing her to risk everything to save a life also drives her to risk her marriage with an affair. Sometimes the gambles pay off, other times they explode in her face. One moment she’s flying high, the next she’s crashing and burning.
Where have we seen this recently?