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POTEMKIN HEALTH MEASURES: Marriott CEO Admits Hotels are Engaging in ‘Hygiene Theater,’ Again Praises Totalitarian Measures. “It’s communicating to folks we care about what you feel and want you to stop and think about if you’re having any symptoms, and we also want to communicate to you that you’re now entering a place in which we’ve got protocols in place to protect you and others in the environment.”

It’s all about the feelz.

CHRISTIAN ADAMS: Weaponizing Coronavirus, Leftist Foundations Dedicate Millions to Transform 2020 Elections. “The left has created multiple emergency working groups to be cited compliantly by mainstream media sources as unbiased election experts. One Potemkin outfit is the self-styled National Task Force on Election Crises. In reality, the group is the usual collection of far-left race activists, liberal law professors, vendor grifters sprinkled in with one or two non-crazies to give the organization a whiff of not-entirely-nuts. It is designed to appear bipartisan but in action, it is the opposite.”

HMMMM: Panic-buying grips North Korea amid rumors of Kim Jong Un’s demise.

Residents in the North Korean capital have resorted to panic-buying amid reports that controversial leader Kim Jong Un is gravely ill or dead, according to a report.

Store shelves in Pyongyang were being cleaned out of everything from liquor to laundry detergent, canned fish to cigarettes in recent days — as conflicting reports continue to surface about the portly dictator’s possible demise, the Washington Post wrote Sunday.

I wonder what the sales trends are like in Pyongyang Department Store Number 1, which the good Dr. Theodore Dalrymple described thusly in 1991:

I also followed a few people around at random, as discreetly as I could. Some were occupied in ceaselessly going up and down the escalators; others wandered from counter to counter, spending a few minutes at each before moving on. They did not inspect the merchandise; they moved as listlessly as illiterates might, condemned to spend the day among the shelves of a library. I did not know whether to laugh or explode with anger or weep. But I knew I was seeing one of the most extraordinary sights of the twentieth century.

I decided to buy something – a fountain pen. I went to the counter where pens were displayed like the fan of a peacock’s tail. They were no more for sale than the Eiffel Tower. As I handed over my money, a crowd gathered round, for once showing signs of animation. I knew, of course, that I could not be refused: if I were, the game would be given away completely. And so the crowd watched goggle-eyed and disbelieving as this astonishing transaction took place: I gave the assistant a piece of paper and she gave me a pen.

The pen, as it transpired, was of the very worst quality. Its rubber for the ink was so thin that it would have perished immediately on contact with ink. The metal plunger was already rusted; the plastic casing was so brittle that the slightest pressure cracked it. And the box in which it came was of absorbent cardboard, through whose fibres the ink of the printing ran like capillaries on the cheeks of a drunk.

At just before four o’clock, on two occasions, I witnessed the payment of the shoppers. An enormous queue formed at the cosmetics and toiletries counter and there everyone, man and woman, received the same little palette of rouge, despite the great variety of goods on display. Many of them walked away somewhat bemused, examining the rouge uncomprehendingly. At another counter I saw a similar queue receiving a pair of socks, all brown like the plastic bowls. The socks, however, were for keeps. After payment, a new shift of Potemkin shoppers arrived.

If Orwell had come across the above passage, he would have said, “I can’t put this in 1984; no one would believe it!” If you’ve never read about Pyongyang Department Store Number 1, definitely read the whole thing.

THE CORBYNIZATION OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY ACCELERATES: Bernie Sanders is The Corbynizer. A true socialist, Sanders has been poised on his Marx all his life for this moment:

The Democrats are now being unraveled by what Sanders might call the ‘contradictions of capitalism’. While the Democratic leadership was soaking Wall Street and Silicon Valley and pandering to the public sector unions, it outsourced the maintenance of its coalition to the radicals, and indulged them as they built their Potemkin villages of intersectionality. Now, as the party structure hollows out and the party leadership fails convincingly to answer Donald Trump, the radicals have the ground game and the ideology to remake the party from the bottom up. The result is a radically depraved version of the rainbow coalition, with Sanders as its Corbyn-style ‘Magic Grandpa’, a deceptively cuddly fellow traveler determined to ride their youthful exuberance into office.

When Magic Grandpa shakes the money tree, it’s not just that other people’s money falls out. A tangle of poisonous roots is also exposed. A coalition of coalitions has mobilized for Sanders: acrimonious initials like the DSA (Democratic Socialists of America) and CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), Jew-baiting proxies like Ilhan Omar and Linda Sarsour, woke warriors like IfNotNow and the Justice Dems, and bongwater conspiracists like the Chapo Trap House chaps and the campus wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Read the whole thing.

Related: Bernie Sanders: Twenty Things You Didn’t Know About Him.

POTEMKIN MEDICINE: What China’s empty new coronavirus hospitals say about its secretive system.

The gulf between the vision of vast new hospitals created and thrown into action within days and the more complicated reality on the ground is a reminder of one of the main challenges for Beijing as it struggles to contain the coronavirus: its own secretive, authoritarian system of government and its vast censorship and propaganda apparatus.

Communist party apparatus well honed to crush dissent also muffles legitimate warnings. A propaganda system designed to support the party and state cannot be relied on for accurate information. That is a problem not just for families left bereft by the coronavirus and businesses destroyed by the sudden shutdown, but for a world trying to assess Beijing’s success in controlling and containing the disease.

“China’s centralised system and lack of freedom of press definitely delay a necessary aggressive early response when it was still possible to contain epidemics at the local level,” said Ho-fung Hung, a professor in political economy at Johns Hopkins University in the US.

For many Western businesses, theft of trade secrets and other intellectual property just seemed like a cost of gaining access to a billion or so Chinese consumers. But this is something else entirely.

JUST IN TIME FOR NEW HAMPSHIRE: Biden 2020: A Pre-Post Mortem. “Perhaps nothing during this primary season will give me greater pleasure than to write Joe Biden’s political obituary, and I might not have to wait long to do it, if recent caucus results, poll numbers, debate performances, and fundraising troubles are anything to go by. My, that’s an awful lot to go by, isn’t it?”

And for our PJMedia/Townhall VIP members: Coronavirus, Xi Jinping, and the Mandate of Heaven.

Xi has kept a low profile during the outbreak, perhaps wanting not to be seen as the symbol of Beijing’s troubles in dealing with it. But in a country where nearly one-third of the people are under some kind of quarantine, a leader has to… well, get out and lead if he’s going to be considered worthy of the title. Perhaps that why Xi just made what’s been a “rare appearance” in recent weeks, today at a Beijing medical center. His face covered in a mask (we’ll get to that momentarily), Xi had his temperature taken and urged “more decisive measures” to combat the virus.

According to Western suckups like Thomas Friedman, Xi’s ability to decisively move his authoritarian government is a big bonus for Getting Stuff Done. When the CCP says “Jump,” the country shouts “How high?” That is, that’s how it looks if you’re a comfy Westerner suffering from a common mental condition known as Authoritarian Envy. The truth of the matter is that the CCP is so thoroughly corrupt that Xi’s decisive measures aren’t measuring up — and some of the most “decisive” are mostly just for show. Business Insider reported today that “China is sending trucks to spray bleach on entire cities as the country struggles to contain the Wuhan coronavirus,” but it’s actually a PR stunt to make people feel like decisive action is being taken. The story notes that “health experts say these public displays of germ-busting are probably not doing much to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, and that the disinfection should instead target specific spots, like emergency rooms, and communal surfaces in hospitals.”

Probably, but the people can’t see that happening on a mass scale. Some of Xi’s most decisive actions look less like the effective handling of a deadly outbreak, and more like hurried construction of Potemkin villages.

The whole thing is just for members, and if you’ve been thinking of joining please use that VODKAPUNDIT promo code for a nice little discount.

OLD AND BUSTED: When it Comes to WWII, Document Everything, and Never Forget.

The New Hotness? YouTube Pulls Triumph of the Will For Violating Hate Speech Policy, left-leaning film industry Website IndieWire reports:

On Wednesday YouTube revealed extensive new policies around hate speech in a move to “reduce more hateful and supremacist content from YouTube,” as the company announced in a blog post.

The policy also meant the removal of Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 Nazi propaganda epic “Triumph of the Will,” which left the site hours after YouTube announced its new standards. After all, “Triumph of the Will” falls under the rubric of “videos that promote or glorify Nazi ideology, which is inherently discriminatory,” as YouTube explains one prohibited category. The movie is also regarded as one with major historical value, raising essential questions about the nature of the film medium. Does it belong in the same category as Lunikoff, a German Neo-Nazi band whose channel also got the boot?

Riefenstahl’s harrowing depiction of the Nuremberg Rallies remains an essential look at the ideological power of the moving image, and how it can be co-opted on a mass scale. Despite the film’s aims, it has been taught in universities for decades — and not because film professors hope to advance the horrific mindset of the Third Reich. The movie uses the singular power of the medium to glorify Adolf Hitler in visceral terms: From the moment the filmmaker’s camera advances through the clouds, tracking Hitler’s descent to the rising crescendo of Wagner’s “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg,” it elevates the rising dictator to god-like stature. Similarly, montages of soldiers saluting their leader — and, later, children in a Hitler Youth parade — illustrate the capacity of the Third Reich to convey the deranged euphoria of subservience.

A few paragraphs down, the moral equivalence begins:

As a matter of pure formalism, the movie exists on the same continuum as Sergei Eistenstein’s “Battleship Potemkin” in its capacity to galvanize a sense of national pride through the language of film. However, that deeper understanding is essential when considering these films; without it, their capacity to enchant continues to grow unchecked. North Korean media cranks out its own variations of “Triumph of the Will” on a regular basis; Fox News, in its lowest moments, has been guilty of similar charges.

Is that you, Ted Turner? Everybody has been declared guilty of similar charges. I remember a profile in the sports section of a Philadelphia paper on Cherry Hill, NJ-based NFL Films around the mid-1980s, which described their dazzling slow-motion telephoto footage of football plays and their hagiographic profiles of NFL players as being akin to Riefenstahl’s filmmaking techniques. But I missed the memo when Roger Ailes approved of mass murder. Indeed, during his reign, the network ran programming explicitly condemning revolutionary socialism in all its forms.

As Glenn wrote in timely new book, The Social Media Upheaval:

In bragging about how he manipulated the political news media, Obama foreign policy advisor Ben Rhodes described them this way: “Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

Knowing nothing makes you easy to manipulate. Lack of relevant life experience makes you easy to manipulate. So maybe people should know more?

It’s an idea so crazy, it just might work — not least of which, for those who wish to become future curators of YouTube, wishing to avoid repeating history.

 

IT’S ALWAYS IN THE LAST PLACE YOU LOOK: California Politicians Hiked Gas Tax, Now Demand Investigation Into State’s $4 Per Gallon Gas Prices.

Related: Will Newsom end oil drilling in California? Many environmentalists are betting yes.

That should do wonders for lowering California’s gas prices, as California’s Potemkin environmentalism rolls on.

CALIFORNIA’S POTEMKIN ENVIRONMENTALISM: No State Imports More Electricity Than California.

Even during the Schwarzenegger era, Max Schultz of City Journal, who coined this post’s headline, noted that California’s “celebrated green economy produces pollution elsewhere, ongoing power shortages, and business-crippling costs.” Look for those trends to continue to get worse, based on the California assembly’s bill mandating 100 percent clean electricity passed last year.

Eventually, the New York Times and NPR may even dub the results “An ‘Almost Unimaginable’ Crisis.”

POTEMKIN FLEET: Despite Putin’s swagger, Russia struggles to modernize its navy.

President Vladimir Putin calls improving the Russian navy’s combat capabilities a priority.

The unfinished husks of three guided-missile frigates that have languished for three years at a Baltic shipyard show that is easier said than done.

Earmarked for Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, the frigates fell victim to sanctions imposed by Ukraine in 2014 after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula, prompting Kiev to ban the sale of the Ukrainian-made engines needed to propel them.

With Moscow unable to quickly build replacement engines for the Admiral Grigorovich-class frigates, construction stopped. Russia is now cutting its losses and selling the three ships to India without engines.

Invading Ukraine was worse than just wrong; it was stupid.

POTEMKIN MISSILE: Russia Tried to Con the World With Bogus Missile. “The Russians hyped a cruise missile launch earlier this year. But a briefing by the CIA and a second agency determined that it was essentially a hoax.”

The alleged Russian misdirection came just days before the United States announced that it would withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty—the treaty that Russia violated, in the U.S. view.

Almost nothing Russia showed off to support its claims at that press conference had anything to do with the missile the U.S. is most interested in, according to an assessment briefing put together by the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

Earlier this month, those two U.S. intelligence agencies determined that the cruise missile canisters and launch vehicle the Russian Ministry of Defense publicly showed at the briefing were not related to the missile that the United States has argued since 2014 violates the 1987 treaty, The Daily Beast has learned.

Helmut Kohl and Margaret Thatcher stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ronald Reagan on putting Pershing II intermediate-range missiles into Europe — a move which forced the Soviets to agree to the INF treaty getting rid of everyone’s IRBMs. It’s difficult imagining Western Europe’s current leadership doing anything of the sort.

POTEMKIN AIN’T JUST A VILLAGE IN RUSSIA: It Looks Like Russia’s ‘Massive’ Military Exercise Wasn’t So Massive After All.

CALIFORNIA’S POTEMKIN ENVIRONMENTALISM:

● Shot: California assembly passes bill mandating 100 percent clean electricity. “California’s assembly has voted to move the state’s electricity completely off fossil fuels. The state assembly on Tuesday passed S.B. 100, a proposal to transition California to 100 percent emissions-free electricity sources by 2045. Amid heavy lobbying from environmentalists and other groups, the bill passed, 43 to 32.”

—CBS News, yesterday.

● Chaser: ‘Green’ California Is More Reliant On Foreign Oil Than Ever Before: “California’s biggest source of crude oil imports is now Saudi Arabia with more than 98 million barrels in 2017.”

—The Daily Caller, yesterday.

Even during the Schwarzenegger era, Max Schultz of City Journal, who coined this post’s headline, noted that California’s “celebrated green economy produces pollution elsewhere, ongoing power shortages, and business-crippling costs.” Look for that trend to accelerate with this week’s news out of Sacramento. As Sean Davis of the Federalist tweets, “California is about to discover that the only thing worse than rolling blackouts is non-rolling blackouts.”

LIVE FROM POTEMKIN VILLAGE, IT’S CONAN O’BRIEN! “Conan’s trip [to Haiti] was too clever by half,” Don Surber writes:

Inadvertently, he showed himself as a white guy millionaire with a Harvard degree sipping an adult beverage from some sort of coconut shell — while nearby, one million native people are still without sewers eight years after the earthquake.

How is this different from the colonialism Haitians overthrew 227 years ago?

He acts like the Great White Father, protecting his lessers from an evil man who may or may not in private have called their country a s***hole.

Haitians don’t need some TV celebrity’s protection.

They need sewers.

Christian Toto adds, “Is Hollywood More Out of Touch Than Ever Before?” Once again, Trump’s ability to drive his opponents round the bend is one of his best assets.

CALIFORNIA’S DIABLO CANYON NUCLEAR POWER PLANT SHUTDOWN PLAN APPROVED, CLOSURE WILL RAISE PG&E CUSTOMER BILLS:

The state Public Utilities Commission’s decision to close Diablo Canyon would mark the end of more than a half-century of nuclear power generation in the state and could serve as a blueprint for closing other U.S. nuclear facilities.

* * * * * * * *

To replace the lost nuclear power, PG&E plans to expand energy efficiency, its use of renewable energy, and energy storage that would exceed current state mandates. California’s landmark 2015 energy law requires that power companies procure 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources, such as solar or wind, by 2030.

I wonder if this cause California to import additional power from elsewhere, given its history of “Potemkin environmentalism.”

MEMORY LANE: Remember all those left-wing pundits who drooled over Venezuela?

The list of Western leftists who once sang the Venezuelan government’s praises is long, and Naomi Klein figures near the top.

In 2004, she signed a petition headlined, “We would vote for Hugo Chavez.” Three years later, she lauded Venezuela as a place where “citizens had renewed their faith in the power of democracy to improve their lives.” In her 2007 book, “The Shock Doctrine,” she portrayed capitalism as a sort of global conspiracy that instigates financial crises and exploits poor countries in the wake of natural disasters. But Klein declared that Venezuela had been rendered immune to the “shocks” administered by free market fundamentalists thanks to Chavez’s “21st Century Socialism,” which had created “a zone of relative economic calm and predictability.”

Chavez’s untimely death from cancer in 2013 saw an outpouring of grief from the global left. The caudillo “demonstrated that it is possible to resist the neo-liberal dogma that holds sway over much of humanity,” wrote British journalist Owen Jones. “I mourn a great hero to the majority of his people,” said Oliver Stone, who would go on to replace Chavez with Vladimir Putin as the object of his twisted affection.

On the Venezuelan regime’s international propaganda channel, Telesur, American host Abby Martin — who used to ply her duplicitous trade at Russia Today — takes credulous viewers on Potemkin tours of supermarkets fully stocked with goods. It would be inaccurate to label the thoroughly unconvincing Martin, who combines the journalistic ethics of Walter Duranty with the charm of Ulrike Meinhof, a useful idiot. She’s just an idiot.

Ouch.

Read the whole thing.

POTEMKIN FLEET: Russian Navy To Build Nuclear Powered Destroyer and New Aircraft Carrier.

Or perhaps not:

“The project will be developed by the Severnoye design bureau. The Russian Navy will undoubtedly have large surface ships with a nuclear propulsion unit. The Lider undoubtedly won’t be the sole one in the series,” Navy deputy commander-in-chief for armaments Vice-Admiral Viktor Bursuk told reporters at the International Maritime Defense Show (IMDS-2017) on Wednesday, June 28, according to the Moscow-based TASS News Agency.

The massive 15,000-ton warship is being designed to replace many of Russia’s existing Soviet-era surface warships including the Udaloy I (Project 1155 Fregat), Udaloy II (Project 1155.1 Fregat II) and the Sovremennyy-class (Project 956 Sarych) destroyers. The vessel might also partially replace the Kirov-class (Project 1144 Orlan) nuclear-power battlecruisers in Russian Navy service.

However, analysts both in the United States and in Russia—as well as defense industry officials—have doubts that the Lider-class will ever actually be built.

The Russian Navy does not really have a genuine need for the vessels and the ships are expected to be extremely expensive.

“So from the words of the admiral, it follows that the project is not yet finalized, and these are only ‘wishes’,” one Russian defense industry official told me.

“My opinion is that it will be another ‘white elephant’ in addition to the Project 1144 ships.”

And that planned carrier? Even if it is built, it won’t be deployed before 2030. And even then — and this has always been a kink in Russia’s plans to be maritime power — it would have to pass through narrow waters guarded by Western air bases before it ever reached the open seas.

ROGER KIMBALL ON POTEMKIN PROGRESSIVISM:

I believe that Trump would be well advised to leave the Democrats in their bawl room, their boudoir (French for “room for pouting in”) while he gets on with the business of running, and improving, the country, which, by the way, he is doing very well.

Still, it is worth noting that the deceiving nature of appearances cuts many ways and is often difficult to parse accurately. For the most part, the actions of the Potemkin progressives are just exhibitions of temperament, whining, childish static that cannot be reasoned with, only pampered and put to bed for a nice long nap.

The tantrum-like behavior is not quite irrational, however. The Democrats really are on an historic losing streak. In 2008, they came to town on a tsunami of hope-’n-change euphoria. But the wrecking ball that was Barack Obama soon brought that illusion crashing down. Now they are like some threatened animal that, largely defenseless, has developed the ability to appear threatening by puffing itself up, changing color, emitting startling sounds, bristling quills, and the like. Zoologists call this activity “deimatic behavior,” after a Greek verb meaning “to frighten.”

Deimatic behavior is all show and no spear: that is, the animal might look or sound or smell threatening, but it is all bluff. Really, it is just a tasty moth, frog, California Democrat, or whatever.

I rarely disagree with Roger K., but it’s difficult to consider the Democrats’ seething anger is all bluff when simultaneously, a Republican congressman is recovering from being shot in an assassination attempt, and a Trump supporter in California is recovering from stab wounds delivered by a racist California leftist.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Victor Davis Hanson: Potemkin Universities. “One reason that tuition is sky-high is because behind the facade of ‘trigger warnings,’ ‘safe spaces’ and ‘culture appropriation’ are costly legions of deputy associate provosts, special assistants to the dean, and race/class/gender ‘senior strategists’ and facilitators (usually former faculty who no longer teach). Few admit that a vastly expanding and politically correct administrative industry reflects a massive shift of resources away from physics, humanities or biology — precisely the courses that non-traditional students need to become competitive.”

PRINCE POTEMKIN WOULD APPROVE: Jim Dunnigan analyzes Russian aircraft carrier operations off Syria. He has numbers, including accident rates. War isn’t funny. Aircraft accidents aren’t funny. But if U.S. Navy carrier sailors want to snicker, as the world’s best they’ve earned the right.

RELATED: India’s having issues with its carrier aircraft. This analysis gets into the weeds, but it also involves Russian aircraft that don’t perform. It also mentions one of India’s major military problems: corruption in its procurement bureaucracy.

POTEMKIN MISSILE: Is Putin’s Deadliest Weapons Program in Trouble?

The RS-28 Sarmat ICBM is supposed to be capable of delivering 10-16 nuclear warheads past Western missile defenses, but right now Russia is having trouble just getting one out of a test silo.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Perez ally secretly wrote 2013 endorsement.

Tom Perez, the labor secretary who is bidding to head the Democratic National Committee, received a crucial boost in 2013 when he was seeking Senate confirmation to be in President Obama’s Cabinet after the Maryland Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter endorsing him.

Perez was a controversial choice to be labor secretary. The letter, which was widely cited by Perez’s defenders to refute criticism against him, was part of a secret arrangement between Maryland Chamber President Kathleen Snyder and a close Perez ally, Scott R. Jensen. Jensen was assistant secretary at the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, the agency that monitors state businesses and labor issues.

Jensen, who was also coordinating a Senate lobbying campaign on Perez’s behalf, actually wrote the Chamber’s endorsement. Snyder attached her name to it without making any substantial changes, emails show.

Emails sure have shown a lot this season.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Did ‘Everytown’ Anti-Gun Group Pen ‘Hawaii Five-O’ Mass Shooting Episode?

IT’S POTEMKIN MEDIA ALL THE WAY DOWN: The Hill: Leaked memo shows Clinton was provided questions ahead of interview.

IT’S POTEMKIN PROTESTS ALL THE WAY DOWN: Leaked Emails Show Anti-Trump Protests Were Organized, Planned By DNC Staff.

IT’S POTEMKIN PRIMARIES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Guccifer 2.0 Leak Reveals How DNC Rigged Primaries for Clinton.

IT’S POTEMKIN JOURNALISM ALL THE WAY DOWN: Group that helped sell Iran nuke deal also funded media. “A group the White House recently identified as a key surrogate in selling the Iran nuclear deal gave National Public Radio $100,000 last year to help it report on the pact and related issues, according to the group’s annual report. It also funded reporters and partnerships with other news outlets.”

POTEMKIN PUTIN: More show than go:

Vladimir Putin held a press event at his residence in Sochi on Thursday to show off a brand new military-grade version of a Russian-built UAZ Patriot truck. In the course of the inspection, Putin tried to open the front passenger-side door, but the door wouldn’t budge. The head of the Main Armor Office of the Russian Ministry of Defense, Lieutenant-General Alexander Shevchenko, stepped up to help the President. The Russian General pulled on the door handle and it gave away, coming off in his hand. The nervous-looking general then proceeded to demonstrate the other strong points of the new UAZ: the back door still opens, and the vehicle can be fitted with a 12mm machine gun. The Patriot’s designers tried to explain away the incident: the handle did not work because the vehicle was “blocked” since the engine was not running.

It was by no means the first time Putin’s staged attempts at burnishing his country’s resurgent superpower status ran headlong into technical difficulties. Two weeks ago, Putin arrived at the newly-constructed Vostochny Cosmodrome to witness the launch of a Soyuz rocket. What was supposed to be a bold display of Russia’s prowess ended in debacle: the first launch failed to get off the ground due to “technical glitches”, and Putin had to stay in Blagoveshchensk, in Russia’s Far East, a second day for the rocket to finally take off.

A year ago a brand new next generation battle tank, the T-14 Armata, stalled in middle of the Red Square during a military parade rehearsal, two days before Putin’s favorite national holiday, Victory Day.

He’s good at spying and direct measures and other Chekist stuff, though.

BERNIE HASN’T BEEN PROPERLY VETTED: Sanderistas: When Bernie Sanders Thought Castro and the Sandinistas Could Teach America a Lesson: As mayor of Burlington, Sanders praised the regimes of Nicaragua and Cuba—claiming bread lines were a sign of economic health and press censorship was necessary in wartime.

In the 1980s, any Bernie Sanders event or interview inevitably wended toward a denunciation of Washington’s Central America policy, typically punctuated with a full-throated defense of the dictatorship in Nicaragua. As one sympathetic biographer wrote in 1991, Sanders “probably has done more than any other elected politician in the country to actively support the Sandinistas and their revolution.” Reflecting on a Potemkin tour of revolutionary Nicaragua he took in 1985, Sanders marveled that he was, “believe it or not, the highest ranking American official” to attend a parade celebrating the Sandinista seizure of power.

It’s quite easy to believe, actually, when one wonders what elected American official would knowingly join a group of largely unelected officials of various “fraternal” Soviet dictatorships while, just a few feet away, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega bellows into a microphone that the United States is governed by a criminal band of terrorists.

None of this bothered Sanders, though, because he largely shared Ortega’s worldview.

He’s not really a nice old man.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Be Suspicious Of Online Movie Ratings, Especially Fandango’s. “Several sites have built popular rating systems: Rotten Tomatoes, Metacritic and IMDb each have their own way of aggregating film reviews. And while the sites have different criteria for picking and combining reviews, they have all built systems with similar values: They use the full continuum of their ratings scale, try to maintain consistency, and attempt to limit deliberate interference in their ratings. These rating systems aren’t perfect, but they’re sound enough to be useful. All that cannot be said of Fandango, a NBCUniversal subsidiary that uses a five-star rating system in which almost no movie gets fewer than three stars.”

Do not trust content from NBC Universal.

ANALYSIS: TRUE: “Fame can take interesting men and thrust mediocrity upon them,” from a 2013 article titled, “David Bowie: What I’ve Learned.”

Also true: “With a suit, always wear big British shoes, the ones with large welts. There’s nothing worse than dainty little Italian jobs at the end of the leg line,” although I prefer American-made Alden shoes myself. (Though wearing size 12D, any shoes are going to be Potemkin-sized on my feet.)

A POTEMKIN PRESIDENCY: How The Washington Post contributed to mythology of Obama greatness.

IT’S ALL ABOUT MUSCLE: Jonathan Last of the Weekly Standard offers a guide to “understanding the campus unrest:”

The Obama administration—easily the most ideologically progressive in modern American history—has been accompanied by both liberal triumphalism and liberal outrage.

Three major protest movements have marked the Obama era: Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, and the as-yet-unnamed campus protests that began at the University of Missouri and Yale and have now spread across the country. The Occupy movement failed utterly. The Black Lives Matter movement has been on a fast track to irrelevance, its only success having been to discipline Democratic presidential candidates to deny that “all” lives matter, while insisting that “black” lives do.

The campus protests are different. At one school after another, protesters have achieved the resignation and/or humiliation of high officials. They have extorted a great deal of money. They have tried to establish new conventions for the behavior of the media and have even intensified what may prove to be a serious debate about the future of the First Amendment. And in all of this it has become clear that the campus protests aren’t about race or privilege or safe spaces. They’re about power.

As Zombie noted in 2013 at PJM, “I used to wonder, ‘Why are you complaining to Obama? He agrees with you!’ Turns out that of course they all know full well that he agrees with them, that he and they are all on the same side. The purpose is not to change Obama’s mind, the purpose is to provide him with political cover to make bad or unpopular decisions, by fabricating hollow “popular uprisings” which he can then point to as indicative of overall public opinion.”

GUN TURN-IN PROGRAM not living up to media spin:

Police-community partnerships are a positive measure to increase public safety, but good intentions aren’t the same thing as a good (or effective) plan. A report by Time-Warner Cable News tried to put a positive spin on things by noting that “almost 1,000 people” responded to take the pledge, leading one to believe that 1,000 firearms had been turned in, but this was hardly the case. As evidenced by the footage accompanying the story, the gun turn-in apparently resulted in a single BB pistol and a single sheathed hunting knife being “taken off the streets.”

It’s Potemkin coverage all the way down.

DOCUMENTARIES ARE USUALLY PROPAGANDA. A Smoking-Gun E-mail Exposes the Bias of The Hunting Ground.

The Herdy e-mail, sent to Kinsman’s then-lawyer, included this assurance: “We don’t operate the same way as journalists — this is a film project very much in the corner of advocacy for victims, so there would be no insensitive questions or the need to get the perpetrator’s side” (emphasis added).

This e-mail appears directly contrary to claims by both Dick and CNN — which calls itself “the most trusted name in news” — that this is an accurate, balanced documentary, fair to both sides of every story. While calling himself “both an activist and a filmmaker,” Dick stressed in a typical promotional interview that “for us first is accuracy.” Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide, let slip the network’s own bias at the Sundance premiere, where he brushed aside anticipated criticism of the film by universities — which it smears as covering up for rapists — by saying that “they are on the wrong side.”

It’s Potemkin networks all the way down.

UNEXPECTEDLY! New Yorkers Face Hard Decisions After Collapse of Health Republic Insurance. “If anyone could manage to obtain treatment under the Affordable Care Act, it should have been Liz Jackson. With a severe nerve condition that forced her out of a job, Ms. Jackson did not just qualify for a government-subsidized plan, but she also knew her way around the new system, having been trained as a volunteer ‘health care navigator’ to help others sign up. Yet the collapse of her insurer, Health Republic Insurance of New York — the largest of 12 health care co-ops nationwide set to close this year — has left her and more than 200,000 others in a panic over medical coverage after their plan ceases on Nov. 30.”

Plus: “’I’m an advocate for the health care law,’ said Ms. Jackson, who lives in Harlem. ‘And if I can’t navigate this, who can?’”

It’s as if the whole ObamaCare thing was just a politicized Potemkin village.

IT’S POTEMKIN VEHICLES ALL THE WAY DOWN: VW Emissions Cheating Scandal Spreads to Sports Cars.

IT’S POTEMKIN VEHICLES ALL THE WAY DOWN: VW’s emissions scandal spreads to gas-powered cars.

RNC ‘SUSPENDS’ PARTNERSHIP WITH NBC AFTER DEBATE ‘CONDUCTED IN BAD FAITH:’

Priebus told the NBC chief that “the CNBC network is one of your media properties, and its handling of the debate was conducted in bad faith.”

“We understand that NBC does not exercise full editorial control over CNBC’s journalistic approach. However, the network is an arm of your organization, and we need to ensure there is not a repeat performance,” he continued. “CNBC billed the debate as one that would focus on ‘the key issues that matter to all voters—job growth, taxes, technology, retirement and the health of our national economy.’ That was not the case.”

“Before the debate, the candidates were promised an opening question on economic or financial matters. That was not the case. Candidates were promised that speaking time would be carefully monitored to ensure fairness. That was not the case.  Questions were inaccurate or downright offensive. The first question directed to one of our candidates asked if he was running a comic book version of a presidential campaign, hardly in the spirit of how the debate was billed.”

Ed Morrissey adds, “it may be time for the RNC (and the DNC, although the need is far less) to do their own broadcasting of debates:”

C-SPAN would be a potential partner and probably willing to do it, but even if not, they could simply broadcast it as a streaming show over the Internet. Netflix has its own original programming using the same technology, and broadband access is commonly available across the US. Moreover, the media would still cover the debates no matter what. Media filing rooms fill up with correspondents from all outlets, not just the one broadcasting the debate, and that won’t change in a presidential cycle. The RNC could invite mainstream-media journalists with demonstrated fairness to participate, or could focus more on New Media outlets with whom Priebus has already started pairing — such as NRO, or Salem Media Group (which owns Hot Air, of course).

Or perhaps booting NBC from further debates will get the point across with less expense. Priebus just fired a shot across the bow of all media outlets, not just NBC. And it was long overdue.

As Michael Walsh wrote even before news of Priebus’ decision, “The Media’s Potemkin Village Starts to Topple” — hopefully today’s announcement will only hasten its demise.

Related: John Harwood reflects.

MICHAEL WALSH: The Media’s Potemkin Village Starts to Topple. But whining about liberal bias means nothing if you don’t back it up with some action of your own. “Wednesday night’s CNBC Republican debate turned out to be a tussle between the three left-leaning ‘moderators’ and the candidates on the main stage, most of whom can safely be described as center-right. And finally — thanks largely to the huge ratings bonanza that is Donald Trump — the American people got a chance to see the true, ugly, partisan, smug, self-righteous face of what we used to call journalism, but now is simply political advocacy employing computers and television cameras under the shield of the First Amendment. . . . What the candidates did the other night to the MSM should not be underestimated. At last, it was not just a lone Newt Gingrich bashing the ideological inanity of his interlocutors, but a number of them, including Cruz and Rubio. By presenting a relatively united front against the clear animosity emanating from the three CNBC hosts, the candidates were able to keep the focus off the stupid questions (‘are you a comic book version of a campaign?’) and onto the biases of the moderators themselves.”

ANN ALTHOUSE: Elaborate NYT graphic makes me think something quite different from what they want me to think.

That said, what I really want to talk about is that pile of Monopoly houses, far, far outnumbering the hotels. There are 120 million households, and 158 spend half of what is spent, and amount that’s only $176 million. If all of the households gave just $5, that would be $600 million, vastly overwhelming those supposedly fearsome, overspending, rich, white men. That money could be given directly to that candidate (since it comes, obviously, nowhere near the limit).

Instead of complaining about 158 families spending $176 million (which strikes me as a fairly paltry amount, especially since only $2,700 can be given to a candidate), the clamor should be about the need for everyone to give just a little money to someone. Skip one cup of coffee, one cheeseburger, one movie, and give the money to the candidate you like best. It could be so easy.

And yet bitching about those terrible rich people — those terrible male white people — serves other political interests… interests that the rich white males who own The New York Times have a constitutional right to push with all the powerful rhetoric and lovely graphics they can muster.

It’s Potemkin villages all the way down.

IT TAKES A POTEMKIN VILLAGE TO PROP UP HILLARY’S CAMPAIGN: What Was a Member of Clinton’s ‘Secret Spy Network’ Doing While Working for CBS News?

According to WEEKLY STANDARD sources, Drumheller was active in shaping the network’s Benghazi coverage. His role at the network raises questions about what went wrong with the retracted 60 Minutes report on Benghazi that aired in October 2013. Despite his former life as a high ranking CIA official, Drumheller was laden with political baggage, making him a curious choice to be consulting with a major news operation—especially so given that he was working directly with Sidney Blumenthal, whose primary occupation appears to be manipulating media coverage on behalf of the Clintons.

And note that “David Rhoades, the current president of CBS News, is the brother of Ben Rhoades, a White House national security advisor. If Ben’s name sounds familiar, that is likely due to his reported role in the editing of the now infamous Benghazi talking points.

Meanwhile, on a lighter ghost note: Hillary’s ‘Spontaneous’ Pumpkin Spice Latte Question Came From Former Staffer.

It’s Potemkin Villages all the way down, to coin a phrase. Or as Iowahawk quips, “DC media: more incest than Appalachia’s trashiest hillbilly trailer park.”

FRONTIERS IN MEDIA MANIPULATION: Immigration group planned girl’s pope encounter for a year. “Sophie Cruz’s brief encounter with Pope Francis during his parade in Washington this week appeared to be the kind of spontaneous moment that is so endearing about this pope: an initially hesitant young child wrapping an arm around his neck as he offers a kiss and a blessing. But for 5-year-old Sophie, the moment unfolded as perfectly as it was scripted by members of a coalition of Los Angeles-based immigration rights groups. They had been preparing for nearly a year for the young girl from suburban Los Angeles to make a dash for the popemobile to deliver a message about the plight of immigrant parents living in the country illegally. They had even pulled off a similar public-relations coup a year ago in Rome using a 10-year-old girl with the pope.”

It’s Potemkin villages all the way down.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: How Putin Outflanks Obama in Syria.

Once again, President Obama and his foreign policy team are stumped. Why is Vladimir Putin pouring troops and weaponry into Syria?. . .

Kerry and Obama are serially surprised because they cannot fathom the hard men in the Kremlin. . . .

Putin will offer Russia as a core member of a new anti-Islamic State coalition. Obama’s Potemkin war — with its phantom local troops (our $500 million training program has yielded five fighters so far) and flaccid air campaign — is flailing badly. What Putin is proposing is that Russia, Iran and Hezbollah spearhead the anti-jihadist fight.

Putin’s offer is clear: Stop fighting Assad, accept Russia as a major player, and acquiesce to a Russia-Iran-Hezbollah regional hegemony — and we will lead the drive against the Islamic State from in front.

And there is a bonus. The cleverest part of the Putin gambit is its unstated cure for Europe’s refugee crisis.

Wracked by guilt and fear, the Europeans have no idea what to do. Putin offers a way out: No war, no refugees. Stop the Syrian civil war and not only do they stop flooding into Europe, those already there go back home to Syria.

When America fails to lead, others will step in to fill the global vacuum.

RELATED: Russia moves fighter jets to Syria.

POTEMKIN GLACIER: Of Photo-Ops, Glaciers, and Climate Change.

POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Katrina Now a Metaphor For the Liberal Project.

IT’S GRIM UP NORTH KOREA: EYE-OPENING PICTURES SHOW HOW ORDINARY PEOPLE GET BY WHILE LIVING IN THE WORLD’S MOST SECRETIVE STATE: The photos in this London Daily Mail article recall Theodore Dalrymple’s classic tale of his visit to one of Pyongyang’s Potemkin department stores in 1989. Dalrymple’s story is filled with cargo cult tales of kabuki faux-capitalism, before the good doctor notes, “Department Store Number 1 was a tacit admission of the desirability of an abundance of material goods, consumption of which was very much a proper goal of mankind:”

Such an admission of the obvious would not have been in any way remarkable were it not that socialists so frequently deny it, criticising liberal capitalist democracy because of its wastefulness and its inculcation of artificial desires in its citizens, thereby obscuring their ‘true’ interests. By stocking Department Store Number 1 with as many goods as they could find, in order to impress foreign visitors, the North Koreans admitted that material plenty was morally preferable to shortage, and that scarcity was not a sign of abstemious virtue; rather it was proof of economic inefficiency. Choice, even in small matters, gives meaning to life. However well fed, however comfortable modern man might be without it, he demands choice as a right, not because it is economically superior, but as an end in itself. By pretending to offer it, the North Koreans acknowledged as much; and in doing so, recognised that they were consciously committed to the denial of what everyone wants.

But the most sombre reflection occasioned by Department Store Number 1 is that concerning the nature of the power that can command thousands of citizens to take part in a huge and deceitful performance, not once but day after day, without any of the performers ever indicating by even the faintest sign that he is aware of its deceitfulness, though it is impossible that he should not be aware of it. One might almost ascribe a macabre and sadistic sense of humour to the power, insofar as the performance it commands bears the maximum dissimilarity to the real experience and conditions of life of the performers. It is as if the director of a leper colony commanded the enactment of a beauty contest – something one might expect to see in, say, a psychologically depraved surrealist film. But this is no joke, and the humiliation it visits upon the people who take part in it, far from being a drawback, is an essential benefit to the power; for slaves who must participate in their own enslavement by signalling to others the happiness of their condition are so humiliated that they are unlikely to rebel.

Of course, North Korea’s government can also hypnotize useful idiot outsiders into performing these rituals as well.

WELL, YES: Jon Stewart’s secret Obama meetings reveal he’s a partisan hack. “It turns out Jon Stewart isn’t our Edward R. Murrow or our Mark Twain. He’s more like our . . . Jay Carney. Don’t count on future generations knowing Stewart’s name any more than they will know Carney’s. Remember when, under a Republican president, it was the duty of all comedians to be the loyal opposition, to speak truth to power? Stewart does the opposite. He’s more like a referee who sneaks into the Patriots’ locker room to ask Tom Brady how much he wants his footballs deflated.”

As I said yesterday, our current pop culture is Potemkin Culture, coordinated at every level to advance a preferred narrative. This is just an especially egregious example.

UPDATE: Camille Paglia takes on Jon Stewart, Trump, Sanders: “Liberals think of themselves as very open-minded, but that’s simply not true!”

A DEMOCRATIC OPERATIVE, MASQUERADING AS A COMEDIAN: Jon Stewart’s secret White House visits.

UPDATE: Jon Stewart Secretly Met with Obama, Worked ‘In Concert’ with White House. Potemkin Village? We’ve got a whole freakin’ Potemkin Culture.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Turns Out the EPA Didn’t Come Up with the Talking Points for Its Controversial Power Plant Program. “Newly-surfaced emails revealed that a prominent left-wing group played a large role in the creation of the talking points for the Environmental Protection Agency’s controversial new power plant regulations.”

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: TWO PEOPLE Have Filed OVER 1,700 Sex Discrimination Complaints With Dept. Of Education. “Exactly two people are responsible for filing over 1,700 sex discrimination complaints with the federal Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in the last few years. Catherine E. Lhamon, the Education Department’s secretary for civil rights, won’t identify these two highly litigious individuals. . . . Under the Obama administration, the growth in the Department of Education’s sex discrimination complaints has been astounding. In 2010, Lhamon’s office saw just 391 such complaints. In 2014, the number was 2,354.”

Sounds sketchy. This story’s from March, but I just ran across it. I don’t think anything has improved.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Ousted Bill de Blasio aide Rachel Noerdlinger provided insider info and ‘talking points’ to Al Sharpton.

A former top aide to Mayor de Blasio’s wife served as a backchannel messenger to both the mayor and the Rev. Al Sharpton, emails released to the Daily News Thursday reveal.

Rachel Noerdlinger provided Sharpton, her former boss, with insider info and delivered “talking points” to Sharpton to have him attack unfavorable stories on de Blasio, the emails, provided to the News as part of a Freedom of Information request, show.

She also got Sharpton to lend a hand when de Blasio was under fire for interceding on behalf of a supporter, the Rev. Orlando Findlayter, who’d been arrested for outstanding warrants related to traffic violations and a civil disobedience arrest.

Al doesn’t speak truth to power. He speaks for power against truth.

JONATHAN CAPEHART: The damage Rachel Dolezal has done. “Dolezal is a laughingstock and has made a mockery of the work she said she cared about.” Well, yes. But that’s because she’s exposed the absurdity of race-fetishization, and undercut the notion of “white privilege.” Much as Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner has done with gender. If it’s so great to be a white male, how come there’s so much transitioning away?

Related: Dolezal in 2010: I’d Be ‘Nervous’ to Go to a Tea Party Rally Because of the All-White Crowd. It’s racist Potemkin villages all the way down.

IT’S HARD TO PICK A “FAVORITE,” SINCE THERE ARE SO MANY: Jonah Goldberg on “The Clintons’ favorite way to lie.”

There are no “new” Hillarys. There are, on occasion, new strategies to dupe people into thinking there is a new Hillary. But these Potemkin do-overs are usually as pale, thin, and see-through as the skin of an agoraphobic Goth computer programmer. The simple fact is: This is her. There is no other her. There is no other Bill, either, by the way. They are Clintons and they are eternal, Aesopian, unchanging. The tackiness and the lying, the parsing and corner-cutting, the entitlement and fakery: This is what they do. Scandals swirl around the Clintons like the cloud of dirt surrounding Pigpen not because the Clintons are the victims of their enemies, but because the Clintons are their own worst enemies. They do this to themselves. They create these problems. They are the authors of their own torment because this is who they are.

Yep–the Clintons are Potemkin villages all the way down.  Hard to believe anyone falls for their populist facades.

#GREENFAIL: Electric Cars Running on Empty.

There were supposed to be one million electric vehicles (EVs) cruising America’s roads this year, but we’ve fallen well short of that 2009 goal. Today there are just 300,000 EVs in the U.S., and in March the government quietly revised downwards its EV goals for government fleets.

That nice, round target was set in the aftermath of the 2008 economic collapse. The newly inaugurated President Obama was full of hope and still promising change, and desperate auto company CEOs had been forced to beg Washington to save the auto industry with massive bailouts. Those circumstances allowed the President and his allies to set what, if we’re being kind, might be called a “stretch goal”: one million EVs by 2015. But here we are, and less than one third of the President’s 2009 target have been purchased in the past six years. By contrast, it takes Ford fewer than six months to sell as many F-150s, a single truck in its entire fleet of autos.

Consumers aren’t buying EVs, despite the generous heaping of government support such eco-friendly purchases might net them (each electric vehicle buyer gets a federal tax credit of $7,500 plus state incentives, all of which can add up to several thousand more depending on the circumstances). For its part the federal government has bought more than its fair share of electric vehicles.

It’s Potemkin villages all the way down. And, by the way, if you like electric cars for environmental reasons, you really need to support the construction of new nuclear power plants. Otherwise they’re really just fossil fuel powered cars at one remove.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Data Faked In Study About Gay Canvassers Changing Minds: A researcher apparently made up the results of the much-publicized study, as revealed Tuesday by scientists trying to replicate it. “Vavreck asked LaCour for the contact information of the survey respondents. He didn’t have it, and apparently confessed that he hadn’t used any of the study’s grant money to conduct any of the surveys.” You can pretty much figure that research that supports The Narrative too neatly has a high chance of being bogus.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES — AND PAYOLA — ALL THE WAY DOWN: ‘It Sure Looks Like Some Ferguson Protestors Were Paid To Do So By Liberal Organize Missouri.’

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Clinton Email Case Gets Nutty: Clinton Offers Faux Support For Faster Release… That She Could Have Done Herself.

IT’S POTEMKIN ACCENTS ALL THE WAY DOWN: Speech Pathology: Tracking Hillary Clinton’s Use of Every American Accent East of the Mississippi.

IT’S POTEMKIN RIOTS ALL THE WAY DOWN: Social media analysis suggests links between Baltimore and Ferguson violence.

An analysis of social media traffic in downtown Baltimore Monday has unearthed striking connections to the protests in Ferguson, Mo. last year, according to a leading data mining firm that shared its findings exclusively with Fox News.

The firm, which asked to remain anonymous because of its government work, found between 20 and 50 social media accounts in Baltimore that were also tied to the peak period of violence in Ferguson. While further analysis is being conducted on the data, it suggests the presence of “professional protesters” or anarchists taking advantage of Freddie Gray’s death to incite more violence.

Probably Worker’s World or Revolutionary Communist Party types rather than “anarchists.”

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN (CONT’D): BuzzFeed: Hillary Invented “Immigrant” Grandparents. Well, to be fair, maybe she just uses the same genealogist as Elizabeth Warren.

TOM BLUMER: The Potemkin Economy: The press has hidden the holes in the economy for months. But can they do it until November, 2016?

WENDY MCELROY: ‘The Hunting Ground’: Reaping Profit from Rape Hysteria.

When the ‘documentary’ “The Hunting Ground” premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival, it was advertised as a “piercing, monumental exposé of rape culture on campuses.” In fact, its objectivity and perspective have been systematically dismantled since then. The film is best understood as a volley in the campus consent wars now raging across North America. It is part of a manufactured and coordinated hysteria about campus rape that imposes a politically-correct agenda and strips accused male students of due process rights.

Peel back the panic and you will often find profit. Some PC advocates profit from the power and prestige that being a savior can bring. The New York Times article “An Unblinking Look at Sexual Assaults on Campus: ‘The Hunting Ground,’ a Film About Rape Culture at Colleges” (Jan. 25, 2015) quoted the Democrat Senator from California, Barbara Boxer, as declaring “[Y]ou’re going to see it in response to this film. Believe me, there will be fallout.” The article indicated that Boxer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are pushing legislation that could ride into law on a wave of emotion created by “The Hunting Ground.”

Political careers, administrative jobs, government grants, book and lecture contracts are just some of vast financial benefits that rest upon continuing the “rape culture” crusade on campus.

Yep. “Rape culture” may be a myth, but the rape hysteria industry is very real. Plus:

The most remarkable aspect of the recipient list, however, is the apparent lack of any grants to groups that focus on preventing rape or sexual assault. The names of recipient organizations drive this conclusion. A single grant to Planned Parenthood is as close as NEO seems to come to funding sexual health or safety. And, yet, the “Take Action!” cry from “The Hunting Ground” states that NEO ensures “that your tax-deductible donation supports student-led campaigns, public education, policy reform, and prevention approaches.” Wouldn’t that goal best be ensured by an organization with an established track record on sexual assault? There are many of them out there.

The 2013 form is similar in its disclosed disbursements; no apparent grants go to organizations that address rape and sexual violence, let alone rape on campus. The vast majority of recipients reveal that NEO has an entirely different focus. Only a few recipients have sufficiently ambiguous names to allow the possibility that they deal with rape in some manner.

No wonder the iconoclastic website SAVE (Stop Abusive and Violent Environments) inquired after “the propriety” of “The Hunting Ground” being used to fund raise for NEO. SAVE asks, “exactly how much of movie-viewers’ donations will be used to underwrite Michele Lord’s excessive salary?” Or used by NEO to pursue partisan issues like immigrant rights? Or used by NEO to encourage people to vote Democrat?

Another question needs to be answered. If, in fact, NEO is using “The Hunting Ground” as a fund raiser, did NEO finance its development in any manner? Is there a connection between director Kirby Dick and NEO? The source of funding is difficult to uncover. Indeed, even how much the ‘documentary’ cost to make is something of a mystery. Mojo lists the budget for “The Hunting Ground” as “N/A.” Other sources claim it was $1.8 million.

The possibility of “The Hunting Ground” being a fund-raiser for social justice causes unrelated to rape is disturbing.

It’s Potemkin villages all the way down with these people.

IT’S A POTEMKIN CANDIDACY ALL THE WAY DOWN: “She took no questions. When she sat down to lead more informal conversations with invited speakers, participants appeared to be reading from teleprompters.”

Where’d she get the Chairman-Mao-Meets-Star-Trek outfit?

UPDATE: From the comments:

Hillary Clinton and Melinda Gates are giving advice to young girls on how to become successful, independent women?……

So, did they make a joking reference to “Marry the right guy” or did everybody just agree to totally ignore that, and how could anyone read the teleprompters with that giant elephant in the room blocking the view?

Heh.

IT’S POTEMKIN BIOS ALL THE WAY DOWN: Flashback: Obama claims 1965 Selma march led to his birth . . . in 1961. My dad was there marching at Selma in 1965. Mitt Romney’s dad was there too, marching alongside MLK. Where was Barack’s dad in 1965?

And for that matter, why were Bill and Hillary Clinton no-shows at Selma this weekend, choosing instead to party with Pussy Riot in Miami?

IT’S POTEMKIN OFFICIALS ALL THE WAY DOWN: VA chief falsely claimed special forces service.

Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert McDonald falsely claimed that he served in a military special forces unit, he admitted to the Huffington Post.

When a homeless veteran told McDonald in a conversation captured by CBS that he had served in special forces, the head of the VA replied that he had, too. The conversation aired during a CBS News story chronicling how the agency is working to house homeless veterans.

“I have no excuse,” McDonald told The Huffington Post. “I was not in special forces.”

He added that he “reacted spontaneously” and “wrongly [with] no intent in any way to describe my record as any different than it is.”

McDonald, who was confirmed in July of 2014, served in the 82nd Airborne Division and completed his Army Ranger training, earning the coveted Ranger tab. Although he completed that training, he never actually served in a special forces unit.

Well, to be fair, that lie pales compared to the VA’s claim to provide adequate health care.

IT’S POTEMKIN DIPLOMAS ALL THE WAY DOWN: Law School Rankings, Not Skills Training, Drives J.D. Employment Outcomes. “To summarize the paper’s key finding: there is no statistical relationship between law school opportunities for skills training and JD employment outcomes. In contrast, employment outcomes do seem to be strongly related to law school prestige.”

SO, PRETTY MUCH LIKE ALL OF OBAMA’S OTHER JOB GAINS, THEN: WaPo:The Obama administration’s illusionary job gains from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Asked about the statistic on 650,000 jobs, the White House referred us to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. USTR spokesman Matthew McAlvanah directed us to page 58 of the book. “They do not provide an estimate on jobs,” he acknowledged. “However they do provide a methodology that one could use.”

Essentially, the book suggests that an income gain of $121,000 would be “roughly equivalent to creating an extra job.” So the Obama administration took the figure of $77.5 billion and divided it by $121,000, which yields 640,000. Rounded up, that becomes 650,000.

There’s just one problem: This is the incorrect way to use Petri’s research, especially when officials such as Kerry combine the jobs figure in the same sentence as the income prediction: “The TPP could provide $77 billion a year in real income and support 650,000 new jobs in the US alone.”

That’s because the calculation on jobs can only be done if one assumes that wages have been frozen and there is no income gain. So it’s completely misleading to suggest there would be both a gain in income and a gain in jobs.

It’s Potemkin Villages all the way down. And it’s no surprise if a crony-corporatist insider trade deal was bad for workers.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Woman Showcased by Obama in SOTU is a Former Democratic Campaign Staffer; Woman apparently the only economic success story in Obama’s America.

IT’S POTEMKIN FAMILIES ALL THE WAY DOWN: NY Health Commissioner says he wouldn’t want his kids growing near fracking site, but doesn’t have children.

Zucker’s remarks appeared to make an impression on Gov. Cuomo. On Thursday, Cuomo said Zucker’s comments were “very sobering,” and helped to convince him that banning fracking was the right thing to do.

“Frankly, that’s enough for me,” Cuomo said, “because if the state health commissioner doesn’t want his kids living there, I don’t want my kids living there and I don’t want any New Yorkers’ kids living there.”

But questioned by the Daily News, Health Department spokesman Peter Constantakes on Thursday said Zucker was not married and had no children.

Standard for our political discourse these days: People without kids banning stuff “for the children.”

IT’S POTEMKIN VEHICLES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Why Your Electric Vehicle Might Not Be as Green as You Think.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Half of Doctors Listed as Serving Medicaid Patients Are Unavailable, Investigation Finds.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Report: White House secretly counted dental plans in Obamacare enrollment numbers; Without counting dental plans, Obamacare would have missed its goal. When your Potemkin Village is so unconvincing that even Vox is pointing out the papier-mache and chickenwire. . . .

JAKE TAPPER: Obama promised Obamacare wouldn’t do exactly what Gruber says it will do. And what it’s now clear it was intended to do all along.

At a town hall meeting where he campaigned for health care legislation in 2009, President Barack Obama pledged to voters that he did not want any tax on health insurance plans he perceived as wastefully generous to ever impact average Americans. But in recent comments by one of the men who helped draft the legislation, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, that is not only precisely what will happen — but that was the intention of the tax. White House officials had no comment, despite repeated requests by CNN.

It’s Potemkin Villages all the way down.

UPDATE: Academia Runs Interference for Obama: Universities Are Now Taking Down Their Jonathan Gruber Videos.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Woman from “drunk girl in public” video apologizes, says she was also duped.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN (CONT’D): Obamacare Facebook page comments mostly from small group of supporters: 60 percent of site’s 226,838 comments attributed to fewer than 100 unique profiles.

Organizing for Action declined to comment to The Times when asked whether it hired paid commentators to post on the site during high-traffic days or tried to spur online conversation through volunteers.

Organizing for Action also handles the president’s Twitter feed. This summer, it was found that nearly half of the president’s 43 million followers at the time appeared to be fake, according to researchers at Barracuda, a computer security company in Campbell, California. Organizing for Action also declined to comment at that time.

I expect we’ll eventually find that this is the tip of the iceberg in Obama campaign social-media fakery. An interesting question is whether Facebook and Twitter knew.

GRUBERGATE HITS COLORADO.

The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative paid Obamacare advocate and administration analyst Jonathan Gruber to produce an “independent” report in support of Colorado’s Health Insurance Exchange in 2011. This work came after the analyst’s failure to disclose his paid work to editors at newspapers which published his columns advocating for the law. The Initiative describes itself as “active supporters” of Obamacare and its implementation here in Colorado.

Gruber is currently under scrutiny for a series of video clips in which he 1) acknowledges having lied about the content Obamacare in order to help get it passed, 2) refers to the “stupidity” and “economic illiteracy” of the American public as assets in passing the law, and 3) admits that the plaintiffs’ argument in pending litigation is correct – enrollees on the federal exchange were specifically and intentionally excluded from receiving subsidies.

Forgotten, however, is that in January 2010, Gruber was penning oped pieces in the Washington Post and New York Times advocating for Obamacare, without having disclosed to his editors that he received nearly $400,000 from the administration to produce an “objective analysis,” that would be used in promoting the legislation.

The discovery of this conflict of interest by the liberal blog FireDogLake eventually caused the Times’s Public Editor, Clark Hoyt, to admit that the source’s interest in the news ought to have been disclosed.

It’s Potemkin villages all the way down.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: A lot of the celebrities who appeared in the midterm Rock The Vote PSA didn’t actually vote in the last midterm.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Fact checking Mark Warner and a ‘completely made up’ Obamacare claim.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Report: Green Party Candidate In Tennessee Hiring People To Infiltrate Social Media, Pose As Average Users, Push Agenda.

ASTROTURF: Conspiracy To Destroy Rush Limbaugh Is Small, Organized, Deceptive. Also ineffective. But it’s Potemkin villages all the way down.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Leaked Memo Gives Away Dems’ “Extreme Weather” Talking Points.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: A Tale of ‘Too Big to Fail’ in Higher Education: City College of San Francisco Survives.

While accreditors can issue a variety of stern warnings — more than half of California’s community colleges have received one since 2003 — the only accrediting punishment of real consequence is the death penalty. That puts accreditors in a very difficult position: allow a low-performing college to continue serving students badly, or face a political firestorm in shuttering a major public institution while throwing tens of thousands of students on to the street with no guarantee of another affordable college in which to enroll.

Accreditors are also financed and managed as membership organizations of colleges. Other colleges contribute volunteers to conduct site visits and evaluations, and college administrators are generally loath to condemn peers at other institutions publicly, particularly since their turn for review will eventually come. As a result, only the absolute worst-case colleges even approach facing meaningful sanctions. Simple mediocrity is ignored. . . .

Politicians generally take a hands-off approach to higher education. While many big-city mayors have staked their careers on turning around troubled K-12 school systems, it is rare to see a major political effort focused on fixing dysfunctional local community college. Slots on public university boards of trustees, which are ostensibly charged with protecting the public interest, are often given as political favors to donors and alumni.

Private nonprofit colleges are subject to little, if any, direct oversight, even though many of them receive a vast majority of their revenue from federal financial aid. For-profit higher education corporations have received greater scrutiny in recent years, including Corinthian Colleges, which is in the process of closing down in the face of declining enrollment and multiple government investigations into its marketing practices and job placement rates. But Corinthian’s shutdown is happening in spite of the accreditation system. All of its campuses remain accredited today. And federal regulators are far less likely to scrutinize a public institution like City College.

It’s Potemkin Villages all the way down.

NOT ENTIRELY A SURPRISE, BUT STILL:

According to Ukrainian intelligence, the separatist commander in eastern Ukraine heard in an intercepted phone call saying that his men “shot down a plane” on Thursday was Igor Bezler.

The picture of Mr. Bezler used in the Ukrainian YouTube video on Thursday is a still image taken from a clip uploaded in April, when he was recorded during the rebel takeover of the town of Horlivka where he identified himself to police officers there as “a lieutenant colonel in the Russian Army.”

It’s Potemkin separatists all the way down.

THE SCANDAL ISN’T GOING AWAY. IT’S GETTING WORSE. The surprising thing Veterans Affairs admitted while asking Congress for $18 billion more.

Even the Department of Veterans Affairs cannot trust its own numbers on delivering health care and processing disability claims, the acting secretary of the agency said as he asked for $17.6 billion in new funding Wednesday.

Sloan Gibson repeatedly acknowledged during a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing that serious problems with “data integrity” have been revealed though a series of investigations into falsified patient wait times at VA medical facilities.

Gibson also acknowledged similar concerns about the reliability of agency numbers that track backlogs and errors in claims for disability benefits, which were challenged recently in reports from the agency’s inspector general and the Government Accountability Office.

It seems that nowhere in this government can you trust the numbers. It’s Potemkin Villages all the way down.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: The Strange Leak of the New Exposé ‘Clinton, Inc.’ “Sure, hotly anticipated books leak all the time. But 10 days early? And by a tipster who seems to be posing as a Tea Partier—but who one source suspects is affiliated with the Clintons?”

POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN, TWITTER EDITION: Politico: “The @BarackObama account, now managed by Organizing for Action, leads the political pack in fake followers, according to Barracuda’s analysis. In fact, of the more than 43 million followers when the data were studied last month, just 36.6 percent were deemed ‘good’ under its metrics, while 46.8 percent count as ‘fake.’ An additional 16.6 percent of the @BarackObama followers are labeled ‘uncertain.'”

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: The Hill: GOP again accuses Sebelius of misleading ObamaCare testimony.

IT’S ONLY EVIDENCE OF BIAS IF THEY DONATE TO REPUBLICANS: Byron York: Four of five FCC study authors gave to Obama.

A significant problem with the now-suspended Federal Communications Commission plan to have government contractors question journalists about editorial decisions and practices was that it was a partisan exercise. The plan originated among Democrats on the FCC; the commission’s two Republican members didn’t even learn about it until it was well under way.

There was also a one-sidedness in the research behind the project. The FCC enlisted scholars from two big journalism schools, the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Center for Communication and Democracy, to determine the “critical information needs” about which journalists would be questioned. The study, delivered in July 2012, listed five authors: Ernest J. Wilson III, Carola Weil, and Katya Ognyanova from USC, Lewis Friedland from Wisconsin, and Philip Napoli from Fordham University. (Weil is now with American University.) Four of the five, it turns out, contributed to President Obama’s campaigns.

It’s partisan Potemkin villages all the way down.

THAT’S WHY IT’S SO POPULAR WITH THE INTELLIGENTSIA, WHO THINK THEY SHOULD BE HIGHER UP IN THE CLASS SYSTEM: Downton Abbey Is Downright Un-American. “In a certain sense, Downton Abbey is quite realistic: It portrays the lives of the servants as the upper class imagined them. But I would almost rather they had ignored the servants entirely instead of erecting this Potemkin village of happy servitude. . . . Americans of all people ought to know better. After all, the reason most of us are here is that our ancestors were the sort of people who became servants, rather than employed them — and they didn’t like it one bit.” Ah, but the people who rule us now feel differently.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Wendy Davis autobiography underwent some … revisions. “Other missing details have included: her second husband paid her way through law school and she divorced him the day after the last payment was made; her ex-husband accused her in initial court filings of adultery, and was awarded custody of their two daughters; and she first ran for city council in Fort Worth as a Republican.”

Related: Wendy Davis Gave A Different Story About Her Divorce Under Oath In 2012.

Meanwhile, Emily Zanotti is not amused. “At the core, she’s a woman in power because she used a man’s money and influence to get her there.”

“YOU LIE:” Dallas Morning News: As Wendy Davis touts life story in race for governor, key facts blurred. This “strong independent woman” had her education paid for by a man. Then she divorced him when her education was paid off. It’s Potemkin villages all the way down with these people.

UPDATE: Reader Chuck Allen writes: “You also have to love that Davis’ first marriage was to ‘Frank Underwood.’ I am sure the producers of ‘House of Cards’ could work this into a script somehow….” Yeah, I noticed that. Heh.

POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Obama lied about meeting his own brother.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: No, 2.1 million haven’t enrolled in Obamacare plans.

With President Obama’s health care law scheduled to begin in earnest when the new year kicks off, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius claimed on a Tuesday conference call that as of Dec. 28, “2.1 million people have enrolled in a private insurance plan” through the program.

Later in the call, Sebelius emphasized that enrollments wouldn’t be completed until individuals paid their first month’s premiums.

But HHS officials still won’t disclose how many of the 2.1 million they claim enrolled through the federal healthcare.gov website or one of the state-based exchanges actually paid for coverage.

Though Sebelius left the call before the question-and-answer session, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services spokeswoman Julie Bataille declined several times to provide payment information. . . .

Later in the call, CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Bataille if she could at least say with confidence that a “very high percentage” of those 2.1 million had paid.

Instead of answering in the affirmative, Bataille said, “We are confident that those consumers have selected a plan and know what the next steps are for them in terms of securing coverage.”

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that: “As of Monday, however, only about half of enrollees billed for plans offered by more than 100 insurers in 17 states had paid their first month’s premium, said Mark Waterstraat, chief strategy officer at Benaissance, a third-party billing firm that works for those insurers.”

It isn’t clear whether that figure is indicative of the story nationwide, and it’s true that insurers have opted to give individuals until at least Jan. 10 (in some cases longer) to pay their premiums for coverage beginning on Jan. 1.

But there’s no reason to believe Sebelius’s claims that 2.1 million have enrolled as of Dec. 28, and journalists shouldn’t report that 2.1 million enrolled until HHS releases data showing that 2.1 million paid for their plans.

During the call, Bataille also declined to provide a demographic breakdown of those who have selected a plan so far or say how many of the 2.1 million signing up for insurance were previously uninsured.

Demographic information is important, because it is vital for the exchanges to attract a critical mass of young and healthy enrollees to offset the costs of covering older and sicker participants in the program.

Also, because millions of Americans have received cancellation notices from insurers, analysts want to know whether the law resulted in a net gain of those who have private insurance. Knowing how many of the 2.1 million signing up were previously uninsured could help provide insight into the question.

If the numbers were good, they’d be telling us.