How I start to see myself when thinking about the writers and bloggers who have most influenced me. But isn’t this just the way all bloggers are by the nature of the medium? We’re Frankenstein monsters assembled from pieces all over today’s cultural graveyard…
This is Week 2 of Season 3 in my new 13 Weeks of Wild Man Writing and Radical Reading Series. Every week day I try to blog about compelling writers, their ideas, and the news cycle’s most interesting headlines.
In the previous installment of this ongoing series I announced the next category of my favorite writers who I was going to introduce: my nine biggest New Media influences amongst nine of my PJ colleagues, both editors and columnists. Over the next few weeks I hope to explain why I appreciate the work of Ed Driscoll, Stephen Green, Glenn Reynolds, Helen Smith, J. Christian Adams, Richard Fernandez, Bryan Preston, Bridget Johnson, and the ever-mysterious Zombie.
I’m hoping to write about them in roughly that order. The first three are my main blogging influences who have most influenced my own approach to the medium. The remaining six are individuals doing very different but extraordinary things with the tools of New Media. I’ll explain why they’re on my #ReadEverythingTheyWrite list and why they should be on yours too.
First on the list is Ed Driscoll, PJM’s San Jose-based editor and prolific blogger-columnist. Foremost in the way Ed has influenced me is in his important work in founding PJ Lifestyle and launching it. And it was such a wonderful surprise when in spring of 2012 Ed offered to let me take over as PJ Lifestyle’s editor so he could focus on other PJ projects.
But Ed has provided many more influences. Here are four areas where I’ve borrowed from him and that I would encourage other New Media troublemakers to do as well…
1. The Greatest Juxtaposition Artist Online
What Ed does better than anyone else is artfully juxtapose excerpts from a variety of sources. Often times more than 75% of the words in an Ed post will be excerpts from elsewhere. And these pieces work so well. Ed’s versatility is in connecting the dots, often times going and comparing today’s news articles with stories from years past or from books. A few recent examples:
Sometimes when I look and see the old, “legacy” media continue its collapse I genuinely do think of we bloggers and New Media troublemakers as some kind of pirates or adventurers, hacking our way through a dying civilization. Ed with his precise cuts across media old and new has been carving his own path for years and it’s time others start to learn the methods he’s developed.
2. Ed’s Graphics Are Wonderful!
See a nice collection with commentary here: The Ed Gallery. I make images every now and then but don’t have Ed’s artistry.
3. Celebrate and Cherish Pop Culture (While You Chop It Apart, Of Course)
I take very seriously Ed’s commentaries and recommendations on culture, media, and their influence on politics. (This list of books was an influence.) There are very few other writers with a comparable breadth of both off-beat pop culture oddities and the ins-and-outs of the ideological wars of today’s political world. One who comes to mind is another writer who I’ll feature down the line in this series and who I know Ed appreciates too: Kathy Shaidle. They each come at the political-cultural nexus through similar Gen-Xer 70s centric modes, though with very different rhetorical weapons. (Kathy a Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! style kick, while Ed sneaks up with a Vulcan nerve pinch.)
Make a point to check out Ed’s Freedom Academy Book Club recommendations here.
4. Be Funny and Be Yourself
Ed is really funny. His writing has a kind of quirky, sly, high brow, winking fun to it.
From getting to work with Ed and spending time with him in the real world on occasion it seems like his blog really is genuinely an expression of his own style and personality.
There’s not many people online who are really able to do that and who can go across the whole spectrum of arts, culture, media, politics and also with wonderful personal pieces like this one. But Ed’s managed it for awhile now with his blog he’s created a perpetually, engaging, insightful New Media creation. I only hope that in the coming years more people can come to appreciate his unique take on culture, media, and politics.
[*Ed's also great hosting his web show!]
PJ Media Story Round Up
Monday and Tuesday Main Page PJM Stories
The press fawns over Democrats who demagogue conservatives as “terrorists” and “hostage-takers,” and over Beltway Republicans who deride conservatives as “wacko-birds” and “tea party hobbits.” Obviously, political strife in modern America has nothing to do with a lack of civility. It owes, instead, to the lack of common ground – notthe inability to explore common ground but the non-existence of common ground.
We are not arguing here about the speed-limit on interstate highways or whether the ashy storm-petrel bird rates Endangered Species Act protection. With Obamacare, statists are trying, as President Obama has put it, to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.” Conservatives, by contrast, want to conserve the United States as constitutionally founded, which means preserving the individual and economic liberties that statists are effacing. There is no meaningful common ground between these polar opposites.
The statist side is enthusiastically championed by Democrats, and the conservative side by Republicans, albeit more reluctantly. Like the Democratic party, the GOP is run by Washington-oriented politicians and, thus, is more enamored of Washington-centered fiats than is the conservative base whose support Republicans need in order to be politically viable. In the vogue of establishment Republicans, Jeb Bush ostensibly directs his “Can’t we all just get along?” preachments at the Republican-Democrat divide. Clearly, though, as an all-but-formally-announced contender for the GOP’s 2016 presidential nod, he is more vexed by the widening disconnect between Republicans and conservatives.
I’ve already included McCarthy on the list of major foreign policy influences for Conservatism 3.0 but it’s worth keeping in mind too that he’s also very effective on domestic policy and ideological combat.
A phenomenal piece about why everyone able-bodied and of sound mind needs to own a gun and know how to use it.
The Affordable Care Act runs more than 2,600 pages and now hundreds of thousands of regulations. No one knows every single provision that is in the law, which Congress did not even bother to read before passing it. Among its most controversial provisions is the mandate forcing Americans to purchase health insurance or face fines from the IRS. Those fines can even take the form of wage garnishment. Americans who fail to comply and pay the fine can end up in jail.
There is, though, a provision buried in Obamacare that provides a way out of having to comply with the individual mandate.Pages 107 and 128 of Obamacare stipulate that members of “healthcare sharing ministries” are exempt from the individual mandate.
Healthcare sharing ministries are non-profit entities created to allow Christians to pay into a fund and then tap that fund when they need to pay medical expenses. So there’s one catch — you have to be meet the healthcare sharing group’s membership requirements to join, and as ministries they maintain that you must be a Christian regularly attending church before you can become a member.
Absolutely not. Obama is totally screwed. It turns out that in the long debate about whether Obama was malevolent or incompetent both sides were right but the latter is about to win out as Obamacare sinks like a lead weight to the bottom of the sea. Even if Obama and co. really do want to Cloward and Piven the crap out of the American people they’re too pathetic to do it. All these people know is perpetual campaigning. They’ve never run a business or implement anything comparable to a bureaucracy like Obamacare.
An extraordinary analysis of popular culture, economics, culture, politics, and religion. See my entry in this series for Goldman: No to Corporate Neoconservatism, No to Paleo-Libertarian Anarchism, Yes to Augustinian Realism
Roger hasn’t convinced me yet that this approach will be an effective strategy. And I’m pre-disposed to stand against anything Rand Paul does which may assist him in his efforts to continue duping Tea Partiers and conservatives to believe he isn’t a carbon copy of his palling-around-with-Holocaust-deniers poppy.
In his 1985 book Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman wrote:
What Orwell feared were those that would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us too much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would beoame a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.
As he remarked in Brave New World Revisited the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions”.
There is one possible line of productive attack: use the powers of the states to experiment with different kinds of solutions. Several states have stayed out of the Obamacare fiasco. Perhaps they will work out methods for better health care programs. The current mess provides hope, and there are state leaders who seem to get it.
At the same time, we need an all-out war against corruption, from NSA to IRS to Homeland Security to HHS. And corrupt leaders, whether elected or appointed, should be driven from office.
It’s a big fight, at home and abroad, and calls for civility (of the sort Jeb Bush and Karl Rove keep muttering) are entirely out of place. We need a raucous, no-holds-barred debate to clarify the tough, painful and risky policies we must embrace–and be ready to change over and over again when we discover their shortcomings–if we’re going to win.
And we must win.
We will win.
With only a small penalty for abstaining, the numbers for signing up not only don’t add up — they’re absurd. Here’s one of the supposedly attractive deals: “One option available only to people under 30 is a so-called catastrophic policy that kicks in after a $6,350 annual deductible. In Monroe County, you can buy that policy on the New York State of Health exchange for as low as $131 a month for single coverage.”
Over fifteen hundred a year for a sixty-three hundred plus deductible? What healthy thirty year old would waste his or her money?
Who invented this plan? Certainly not Obama or Pelosi, neither of whom was paying close attention, I would bet. (Pelosi admitted she wasn’t. All Obama wanted was something to put his name next to, something that sounded vaguely “progressive.”)
America education system summed up in two sentences:
Questioner: What was Auschwitz?
American College Student: I don’t know.
As part of her effort to promote her new Holocaust-themed novel 94 Maidens, Philadelphia-area TV personality Rhonda Fink-Whitman dropped in on the campuses of Penn State and Philadelphia’s Temple University, and asked the local college kids what they knew about the Holocaust and World War II. And based on the answers she received, as typed up by the Blogosphere’s Anchoress, Elizabeth Scalia, the answer is: not much.
Questioner: What was the Holocaust?
American College Student: Um…I’m on the spot.
Questioner: Which country was Adolf Hitler the leader of?
American College Student: I think it’s Amsterdam?
Questioner: What was Auschwitz?
American College Student: I don’t know.
Questioner: What were the Nuremburg Trials?
American College Student: I don’t know.
Questioner: How many Jews were killed?
American College Student: Hundreds of thousands.
In other words: the Holocaust Deniers have conquered America’s higher educations.
Weekend PJM Stories
Having won a seat for the first time on the United Nations Security Council, Saudi Arabia turned around a day later and rejected it, citing the Council’s double standards and failure to uphold international peace, justice and security.
As UN moments go, this is a classic — if only for its sheer absurdity. It is precisely because of the UN’s double standards that a country such as Saudi Arabia can win a seat on the Security Council in the first place — with 176 of the 193 members of the UN General Assembly voting yes. As as friend of mine puts it, the Saudi move smacks of Groucho Marx’s joke that he would never join any club that would accept him as a member.
Obviously, the real problem is not a sudden Saudi aversion to UN double standards per se. If it were, Saudi Arabia would not still be running for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, in General Assembly elections to be held Nov. 12. As far as I’m aware, the Saudis — who with no evident concern about hypocrisy have served previously on the Human Rights Council – have not dropped their bid to reclaim a seat.
It’s quite obvious that the vast majority of Bush 43′s presidency was marked by modest growth in public debt as a percentage of GDP, and that things did not begin to get out of hand until the first full budget year after the Democratic Party took control of the House and Senate. Absolutely all of Barack Obama’s presidency has seen catastrophic growth in that percentage.
There is almost certainly no end in sight in debt-to-GDP growth, despite Lauter’s contention, presented as if factual, that “the debt will tick down slowly to around 71% of GDP in 2018.”
Lead PJM Stories on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday
These are not just nutty notions, they are dangerous notions. They attempt to undo and unravel the meaning of words. They defy the truth. Treating people without regard to race is deconstructed to mean racism. Oceania has always been at war with East Asia, except when it wasn’t.
Beware: these nutty and dangerous notions aren’t confined to places like Cornell or Crenshaw’s classroom in Los Angeles. They are en vogue among growing numbers of lawyers and those who hold power.
It’s true that the president acted unseemly in his sour victory speech Thursday morning, but he’s always had a knack for saying outrageous things in moderate tones — and he’ll get away with it this time, too. Obama had his soothing tone and his shutdown theater, and by that time the GOP had… what, exactly?
If there’s a fourth question, it’s the one Republicans ought to be asking themselves right now.
“Why do we keep playing to Obama’s strengths?”
High-risk pools aren’t perfect. Neither is imposing mandates. States were working out their own solutions. But they couldn’t work out some solutions, such as allowing insurance plans to be sold across state lines. They needed federal laws passed to allow that. Studies have found, and it makes economic sense, that allowing more competition by allowing plans to be sold across state lines would bring insurance prices down, making it more affordable, without government mandates or price controls. Those healthy young Americans who had the right not to buy insurance before Obamacare might even find it affordable enough to buy it, just in case they needed it.
In 1993, then First Lady Hillary Clinton devised a national plan similar to Obamacare. After many secretive meetings and a heated political debate, HillaryCare died in Congress. The American people still didn’t trust government to impose a single national health care system that would work.
PJ Lifestyle Stories on the Home Page
Monday and Tuesday
Chris continues with his Smashing Pumpkins series much better than I would have. One of the joys of being an editor: don’t have time to write the story you want yourself? Just assign it to one of your friends who can do it better than you.
Having edited every single one of Charlie’s 13 Weeks post I’m so thrilled to see him reach one year in with his experiment and to see such fantastic results. The 13 Weeks Method works — hence why Rhonda, Sarah, and I have adopted it to our own self-improvement pursuits.
Wednesday – This Weekend
This movie is hilarious and morally encouraging. Make a point to see it.
Walter does such first-rate Tea Party coverage.
Just as Walter keeps PJ Lifestyle abreast of the Tea Party perspective, I’m glad to have Paul Cooper back to bring the Pro-Life worldview. He’s really influenced me on these issues of the past few years.
New at PJ Lifestyle
Monday and Tuesday
Rhonda’s new series exploring Victor Frankl is off to a great start.
David is on such a roll with this new antisemitism series.
Susan jumps in on the spiritual/theological/political dialogue that I’m having with Walter Hudson and Michael Lumish.
I’m not sure why I’m not as excited about the newest DiCaprio/Scorsese movie. Maybe because one can only remake Goodfellas so many times?
It’s great to have Chris back — this is such a funny, entertaining report of the odd things he saw one night on his recent Disney World trip.
We’re living in a strange, matriarchal age when a co-ed is willing to have a frat boy pleasure her in full view of the public, film it, encourage him while he goes to work, and then later try to claim she was raped.
I dissent: it’s mostly the boomers’ fault but the Silent generation has poured a lot of gasoline on the fire too.
I have a habit of ranting nowadays to all who will listen that instead of getting a degree 18-year-olds should start a business.
At some point I really do need to unplug from both Google and Facebook…
New at PJ Tatler
Resident Obama consistently calls for civility from his detractor. Hypocrisy doesn’t come close to describing Obama’s hollow calls for a softer tone. Obama and extreme liberals who now run his government and party have partaken in the most un-civil discourse in modern American politics. Conservatives and Tea Party members have been called, “hostage takers,” “people with bombs strapped to their chests,” “arsonists,” “terrorists,” “extremists,” “racists,” and “anarchists,” all because we disagree with liberal extremism. Obama called those who believe as I do, “enemies.” Proving he has no sense of fairness, not to mention shame, Obama insists he be treated with kid gloves after he’s drawn a response from those he just beat-up.
From the PJ Tatler’s Editor Bryan Preston
I’ve realized now that I find just Wendy Davis’s name alone stomach-turning. She’s made herself synonymous with third trimester abortion and
revealed reminded the practice to be among the central rites of today’s neo-ancient Canaanite modern Democratic Party.
Bryan quoting from a friend of a friend:
The compromise bill ending the shutdown only funds the government until January 15, 2014 and only gives enough room on the debt limit until February 7, 2014.
This is not the full year’s budget Pres. Obama and Sen. Reid wanted. And, it is not the full trillion dollars in new debt authority.
This is big.
What is means is that Americans get to kick the tires on ObamaCare and its nearly-impossible to sign up for exchanges for another three months before the federal government funding fight may be refought – if Sen. Cruz and like-minded allies chose to do so.
There do remain a couple of outstanding issues. We’re still on track to spend enough to land us in bankruptcy. The National Park Service unmasked itself as a brownshirted outfit that was a little too happy to lock old people in hotels and barrycade parking spots on the GW Parkway at their liege’s whim. Who knew that under those stiff-brimmed hats lurked the snarling face of raw statism? Like the IRS, the NPS needs to be cleaned out.
And Obamacare is a horrendous mess. It’s actually in full-blown crisis, though much of its crisis is a product of design. Sebelius needs to be fired, but that was true for her lawbreaking and for the abortifacient mandate. Now it’s just more true, because she’s a hacktastic flop who is such a failure that she can’t even properly manage failure.
So how do you beat them? In the Republicans’ case, the divisions within their ranks didn’t help. “Wacko bird” didn’t help. Peter King spending more time assaulting Republicans than Democrats didn’t help. It also didn’t help to rant “you support Obamacare!” if you didn’t happen to agree with the strategy to stop Obamacare. A divided force will just about always lose to a unified force. The Republicans failed to divide the Democrats, while they went into the fight divided themselves.
If we really took the president’s and Robinson’s logic to its full extent, the laws as they existed at the moment the United States was founded would still all remain the law of the land forever. All of them. Only landowners could vote. No female suffrage. And once a law was passed, it could not be repealed or changed in any way whatsoever until the end of time. Is that what Robinson wants, or is he just being dishonest?
With all due respect to the president and his man at the Post, their “Obamacare is here so get used to it!” command is idiotic. I mean, really, truly and deeply and profoundly idiotic. It’s unworthy of a president and doesn’t belong in serious, adult conversation.
Bryan does such a great job of hitting hard.
From PJM’s Washington D.C. Editor Bridget Johnson
A longtime House stenographer was pulled off the House floor last night during the debt-deal vote after walking to the dais the president uses for State of the Union speeches and yelling about Freemasons.
Todd Zwillich of Public Radio International captured the full audio of the woman, included at the end of the C-SPAN video clip.
“Do not be deceived. God shall not be mocked. A House divided cannot stand,” the stenographer, identified as Dianne Reidy, yelled into the microphone. “He will not be mocked, He will not be mocked — don’t touch me — He will not be mocked. The greatest deception here, is that this is not one nation under God. It never was. Had it been… it would not have been… No. It would not have been. The Constitution would not have been written by Freemasons… and go against God. You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve two masters. Praise be to God, Lord Jesus Christ.”
From PJM’s Breaking News Columnists
From PJM’s Colordado Editor, Vodkapundit Stephen Green,
As a citizen, it’s somewhat difficult to get in compliance with the law, when the agency in charge of enforcing it doesn’t necessarily know what parts of the law it will be told to enforce, or which parts might be safely ignored. It’s even more difficult to stay in compliance when those goalposts, once shifted, might be shifted again just because a web site started working better. Or perhaps worse.
Delaying the individual mandate is only evil when Republicans want to do it.
From PJM’s San Jose Ed Driscoll
Monday and Tuesday
As ad man (and Mad Men series advisor) Jerry Della Femina wrote over 40 years ago in his classic book on advertising,From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor: Front-Line Dispatches from the Advertising War, “There is a great deal of advertising that’s better than the product. When that happens, all that the good advertising will do is put you out of business faster. There have been cases where the product had to come up to the advertising but when the product fails to do that, the advertiser will eventually run into a lot of trouble.” Or to quote a commenter at Hot Air, “You owe Ron Popeil an apology. At least he delivered the goods.”
Closing Book Excerpt
“The state is an organ or apparatus of force to be used by one class against another.” -Vladimir Lenin, 1917′s Will the Bosheviks Retain State Power? As quoted on page 77 of Paul Johnson’s extraordinary Enemies of Society.
Stay tuned for link recommendations from around the web in the next installment of this series. I think I’m going to start alternating between PJM round-ups and around-the-web round-ups…
Get to Know Everyone on the #ReadEverythingTheyWrite List!
16 of My Favorite Writers And Most Important Intellectual Influences:
6 On Foreign Policy:
- Monday, August 5: ‘War, and Preparation for War, Are the Normal Conditions of Mankind, While Peace Is Extremely Rare.’ – Michael Ledeen
- Tuesday, August 6 on Andrew C. McCarthy: Muslim Brotherhood Operatives Have Infiltrated America’s Political and Cultural Institutions to Conquer Us from Within
- Wednesday, August 7 on Barry Rubin: First We Define Anti-Americanism, Then We Crush It Again Even Harder
- Thursday, August 8 on Claudia Rosett: The United Nations is a Corrupt Failure That Does Not Unite Nations
- Friday, August 9 on David P. Goldman: No to Corporate Neoconservatism, No to Paleo-Libertarian Anarchism, Yes to Augustinian Realism
- Tuesday, August 13 on Victor Davis Hanson: The Price We Pay for Our Ignorance of Military History Is Dead Americans
4 On Culture:
5 On History:
1 On New Media:
images courtesy shuttertsock / Jeff Cameron Collingwood