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POWER LINE: What’s Wrong With Those Texans?

That’s the question the Associated Press asks, following the school shootings in Santa Fe: “School shooting may not bring change to gun-loving Texas.” . . .

What’s interesting is that the AP never hints at what “gun restrictions” the State of Texas ought to adopt. Indeed, it becomes obvious that the AP reporter, speaking for liberals and the mainstream of the Democratic Party, doesn’t much care: any restrictions will do.

Because it’s all about sticking it to those rubes in Flyover Country and showing them who’s boss.

JACOB SULLUM: Irrational Fear of Mass Shootings Can’t Justify Unconstitutional Gun Control: Stinging insects kill more Americans than mass shooters do. It’s got nothing to do with safety. It’s all about humiliating the flyover rubes and showing them who’s boss.


WAIT, WHAT? Shocker! WaPo Fact Check Agrees With Rubio’s Statement On New Gun Laws.

A funny thing happened during the current national scream that Congress must do something about gun violence. A Republican lawmaker made a common-sense statement about the limits of government and the left went nuts. Then, wonder of wonders, a Washington Post fact-checker agreed with him.

While Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) preens before television cameras and proclaims his own love of hunting and guns, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is held responsible for the horrific school shooting on Valentines Day in Parkland, Florida. Rubio accepts campaign donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA) so he must be vilified. The willing cohorts of the left, the media, are only too happy to advance the notion that the NRA is evil and must be relieved of its First Amendment rights.

So, when Rubio was asked about pursuing legislation – gun control measures – he answered with a question of his own: wouldn’t it be best to wait until all the facts are in before everyone starts demanding that something is done by the government? He dared to say that new legislation may not have stopped this latest tragedy. . . .

The Washington Post went back to the Newtown shooting in 2012 and chose 12 mass shootings to analyze. Fact-checkers concluded that none of the shootings would have been avoided by passing new laws currently under discussion. What a disappointment that must have been to the newspaper.

Remember, this isn’t about saving lives or protecting children. It’s about asserting cultural superiority and showing those flyover rubes who’s boss.

And while the Democrats accuse the NRA of having blood on its hands — for, you know, daring to disagree with them on policy — look who Democrats are hanging out with.

TO BE FAIR, THAT’S PRETTY MUCH ALL THEY’VE GOT: After Las Vegas, Democrats Send In The Clowns. “Gun control is not as much about guns as it is about control. Even anti-gun leftists are coming to this conclusion.” Yes, the goal is to humiliate the deplorables and show them who’s boss. It’s not about safety, it’s about cultural warfare.

Related: Hate From The Left.


Many have said that Donald Trump is like Julius Caesar, even depicting his assassination in similar fashion in the latest production of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.”

And just like in the legendary play, other public figures have come forward to justify and explain their various attacks on Trump, insisting that Trump — like Caesar — is “ambitious,” or “illegitimate,” or “corrupt,” or, at the very least, deserving of investigation.

Then, as if on cue, President Trump showed his open-handed generosity to one of them by calling Robert Mueller an “honorable man.”

With apologies to Shakespeare, the parallels are just too obvious to ignore.

Robert Mueller, a friend of James Comey, who staffs his investigation of Trump with Hillary donors and ex-campaign workers, stands to make a lot of money for himself and his partisan team as this process continues with no end in sight.

But, Mueller says Trump is the one under suspicion, and Mueller, as we’ve been assured, is an “honorable man.”

James Comey admitted under oath that Trump had committed no crime, but that he merely sought to create the circumstances for a special counsel to harass and ultimately assassinate (the character of) Trump.

Now Comey says Trump should be investigated for firing him. And Comey, as we’ve been assured, is also an “honorable man.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer knew Trump was not under investigation for Russian collusion when he lied and publicly claimed otherwise.

But Schumer has said repeatedly that Trump is not a legitimate president, and Schumer, we’ve been assured, is an “honorable man.”

And California Rep. Adam Schiff says no collusion actually took place between Russia and Trump, and yet demands an investigation to uncover any crime, whatever it may be, and sure, he is an “honorable man.”

So, are they all — “honorable men.” Well, maybe in the swamp of Washington, D.C.

Sad! And don’t forget Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who’s also under investigation.

THE RISE AND FALL OF ZIGGY STARDUST AND THE VIDEOFREEX FROM MARS. We now take for granted YouTube’s ability to birth DIY performers who eventually acquire large followings and of course, video cameras built into smart phones and tablets have become ubiquitous. But just as DARPA was crafting the notion of an interconnected network of computers in the late 1960s, portable DIY video technology was also being birthed during that period, as authors Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad write near the beginning of their 1985 book Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live. Without Sony’s invention, “It’s possible that the underground [comedy movement, which SNL creator Lorne Michaels tapped into for his first stars and writers] might have bypassed television altogether had it not been for the Sony Corporation’s introduction in the late 1960s of portable video cameras and recorders that were affordable by the public at large:”

That technology spawned a movement known as guerrilla television, which was populated by hundreds of long-hairs carrying Porta-Pak units, nascent auteurs who’d previously had no access to the mechanisms of television production and who set out to invent their own kind of programs. One such guerrilla remembers showing up with his partner at the house of a famous Hollywood writer, hoping to tell him some of their ideas. They were laden with gear, their hair hung well past their shoulders, and they wore fatigue jackets and pants. The memory of the Manson murders was still strong at the time, and the writer’s wife, answering the door and seeing the equipment they were carrying, thought it was some kind of machine gun and ran screaming back inside.

In his latest film review at NRO, Armond White explores the Videofreex, one of the leftwing underground groups producing guerrilla television in the years that preceded SNL, the subject of a new documentary Here Come the Videofreex:

Entitlement is quite different from “Civil Rights,” and Here Come the Videofreex helps us understand how the two things became closely linked and then were tied in with the self-satisfaction of media domination. Directors Jon Nealon and Jenny Raskin observe those Sixties youth who felt that through the then-new video technology they could more accurately address the proletariat — a sense of righteous free expression like the social networking of cell phones, Twitter, and innumerable blogs. They were eventually crushed by corporate media’s ultimate indifference. CBS sacked the Videofreex but let them keep the “worthless” technology, which led to the Videofreex’ brief pirate TV enterprise.

It’s amazing to see this all laid out in an indie documentary while we currently contend with the bewildering, flip-flopping propaganda of MSNBC, Fox Cable News, and the shamelessly pandering CNN — all 21st-century videofreaks with small regard for reporting or objectivity. Their “news” cycles merely exploit American politics.

Co-director Raskin had worked on the 2013 Our Nixon, the most compassionate of all Watergate documentaries, which most reviewers misunderstood — seemingly deliberately. Today’s media politics all result from class privilege: Millionaire newsreaders follow the dictates of their behind-the-scenes tycoon bosses (broadcasters committed to the status quo and partisan politricks). They’re determined to influence the voting and polling patterns of viewers and readers. This is what the now-aged provocateurs of Here Come the Videofreex teach us. Parry Teasdale, Davidson Gigliotti, Skip Blumberg, Chuck Kennedy, Carol Vontobel, Ann Woodward, Bart Friedman, and others recall their pasts without guile, even as they lament their inability to fully “democratize” the U.S. media.

And note this: “When a veteran hippie mused, ‘Turning people on to video was like turning them on to grass,’ it seems stunningly naïve. It’s also au courant.”

Which dovetails well with an encomium to a man who also seemed to singlehandedly craft his own culture during the early 1970s, David Bowie. As Nick Gillespie writes in the latest issue of Reason, “David Bowie Was a Time Traveler from Our Hyper-Personalized Future — The star who made it cool to be a freak,” though a very different “freak” from the Videofreex, needless to say:

In 1987, he returned to West Berlin, where he had made an exceptional set of records in the late 1970s, including several with his muse and protégé Iggy Pop. There he played a concert so loud it could be heard in communist East Berlin. The Internet abounds with footage from the show, which is capped by an absolutely brilliant version of “Heroes,” his ballad of doomed lovers who literally meet in the shadow of the Berlin Wall to steal a moment (“I can remember standing by the wall, and the guns shot above our heads”).

Just days after the concert, President Ronald Reagan also performed in Berlin, delivering one of his most memorable lines: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Who’s to say that the example of Bowie, who personified not only the freedom of expression but the sybaritic desire that the Communists had unsuccessfully tried to stamp out, wasn’t as important to the Wall’s destruction as the arms race? The day after his death, the German government tweeted, “Good-bye, David Bowie…Thank you for helping to bring down the #wall.”

Bowie was exceptionally well-read (his list of 100 favorite books ranges from Madame Bovary to The Gnostic Gospels) and was renowned for his knowledge of blues, folk, jazz, and experimental music. (He introduced U.S. audiences to the German avant garde perfomer Klaus Nomi on Saturday Night Live, of all venues.) Yet only fools look to celebrities and artists—especially rock stars—for moral instruction and political programs. We’re wiser to seek artists for inspiration and ideas on how we might expand our own horizons and think about our own possibilities.

It’s in this sense that Bowie was a time traveler from our own future, where we all feel more comfortable not just being who we are but in trying out different things to see whom we might want to become. Certainly, an entire species of performer, from U2 to Madonna to Lady Gaga to Jay-Z (who sampled “Fame” in his 2001 track “Takeover”) were influenced by him.

And unlike many rock stars, Bowie created continuity with earlier forms of popular music, not only by covering various old songs (“Wild Is the Wind” is a memorable instance) but by incongruously appearing with Bing Crosby on der Bingle’s 1977 Merrie Olde Christmas TV Special, which gave birth to Crosby and Bowie’s enduringly beautiful and strange duet of “Peace on Earth/The Little Drummer Boy.”

Back in 2007, I wrote a piece for the Rand-themed New Individualist magazine titled “Welcome to My.Culture — How Emerging Technologies Allow Anyone to Create His Own Culture.” (Somehow, when the piece went to the Web, the subhead replaced the editor’s original title from the print edition, unfortunately):

Through television, newspapers, radio, and advertising, the mass culture of the twentieth century created easily understandable points of reference for virtually everyone. Often, these were low and crude and coarse. But everyone knew who Ralph Cramden was. Who Batman was. Who Vince Lombardi was. You might not have known who Gene Roddenberry was, but you knew that NBC had a show starring a guy with pointed ears.

Today, however, we’re looking at that shared culture in the rearview mirror, and with mixed emotions. In fact, we’re witnessing the death throes of mass culture. It’s being replaced, not by the elder President Bush’s “thousand points of light,” but by a thousand fractured micro-cultures, each of which knows only a little bit about what’s going on in the next micro-culture thriving on the website next door.

As James Lileks of and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s told me a couple of years ago: “Take a basically divided populace—the old red and blue paradigm—and then shove that through a prism which splinters it into millions of different individual demographics, each of which have their own music channel, their own website, their own Blogosphere, their own porn preferences delivered daily by email solicitations. I mean, it’s hard to say whether or not there will eventually be a common culture for which we can have sport, other than making fun of the fact that we really lack a common culture.”

This trend has both good and bad aspects. But before we turn our attention to that—and what it may bode for our future—it might be useful first to review how we got here.

Though I have no doubt that I’ll be repulsed by their reactionary socialist-anarchist message, I’m looking forward to seeing the Videofreex documentary, at least when it comes to Amazon Prime or Netflix. Decades before YouTube, iPhones and GoPros, their taking advantage of the first portable video technology was itself the real revolution (a textbook example of McLuhan’s “The Medium is the Message” aphorism). Gillespie makes a very good case that Bowie was a similar sort of revolutionary — and the recording studio technology he (and his frequent producers Tony Visconti and Nile Rodgers) mastered is similarly now available inside of a reasonably-equipped PC. And as old media continues to be an even vaster version of the vast wasteland that JFK’s FCC Chairman Newton Minnow infamously described, making your own culture as an alternative seems more important than ever. Think of it as the Nockian Remnant with iPhones.

THIS IS A RECONSTRUCTED POST: My open-comment thread letting people liveblog the speech vanished — the server was overloaded and was having problems before they restarted, and that may have something to do with it. Anyway, some of the comments were saved by readers, and here’s a good chunk. Click “more” to read the post and comments.

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DANIEL DREZNER says that his Plame outrage meter is rising slightly, and links a lot of disturbing stories, though the sourcing on them is, as some of his commenters point out, a bit dubious. I still don’t understand what’s behind this, and I still find it hard to believe that someone would knowingly out an undercover agent — I still don’t see the “why” in this.

But since people who don’t usually care what I think seem anxious to hear my opinion, I think that the Bush Administration needs to find the leaker (if there is one), fire ’em, and prosecute ’em if it’s warranted. [You keep saying this. But what if it’s Rove or Cheney? — Ed. I don’t think it is. But if it’s Rove, he’s too stupid to stay on in a job whose only justification is his being smart. If it’s Cheney, ditto — plus it opens the way for a Bush/Rice ticket!]

So how do you do that? Well, you could do the usual Washington scandal dance — investigations, hearings, special prosecutors, etc. This would produce a long, drawn-out embarrassment that would please the media folks, who have been getting antsy for a good scandal, and the Democrats. It would also be bad for national security, if you agree that this passage from Josh Marshall is on target:

The backdrop to this whole scandal is the war that’s been going on between the Bush administration and the CIA for two years. Another reporter who’s knowledgable about these issues and not at all averse to this perspective, told me a few days ago that “there are people in this administration who think that the CIA was criminally negligent for 9/11 and that the whole place should be shuttered.” That’s an accurate portrayal of what a number of those people think.

That war with the CIA centers on the vice president’s office. If it turns out that Plame’s exposure originated there too, it will inject this legal controversy — this criminal investigation — right into that broader policy controversy, the whole issue of the war against the CIA, the questions over politicized intelligence, all of it.

I don’t know if it’s true, but the CIA did drop the ball before 9/11 and its performance since then, except for the generally successful paramilitary operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, hasn’t seemed especially impressive either. It’s certainly the case that we shouldn’t have this sort of internal warfare going on at the same time that we’re fighting a real war. (Howard Fineman has more on the White House vs. CIA angle).

Which is why I think the smart thing to do is to subpoena all the principals in this scandal and find out who said what to whom, when. This will disappoint scandal-mongers, and it might hurt some people in the White House (or it might not). Howard Kurtz comments that “Politically, though, that would be a PR disaster.”

But would it? I’ve noticed a certain coolness from members of the professional press since I started suggesting this, but I don’t think this would be a PR disaster, except maybe for the press if it resisted. I think that the public would support such an action, and that the press — having played this up into a big national-security issue — would do very badly if it tried to claim persecution.

The New York Times is already sounding worried about this, with an editorial that Chris Kanis summarizes as follows:

As near as I can figure, the Times’ take is that Bush must do absolutely everything in his power to figure out who leaked, because his failure to do so will prove that he is Richard Nixon. However, Bush must absolutely not conduct any investigation of the journalists involved, nor try to compel them to reveal their sources, because doing so would prove that he is Richard Nixon.

But even that editorial, which Kanis correctly characterizes as muddled, says this:

As members of a profession that relies heavily on the willingness of government officials to defy their bosses and give the public vital information, we oppose “leak investigations” in principle. But that does not mean there can never be a circumstance in which leaks are wrong — the disclosure of troop movements in wartime is a clear example.

Well, if the most serious charges are true — which we don’t know yet, but that’s what investigations are for, right? — we have the outing of an undercover agent, which is pretty close. (Note to the NYT — it is wartime). The editorial says that the investigation should focus on the White House, not the press — but the members of the press are witnesses. If this is as important as we’re hearing, they shouldn’t stand on (largely bogus) First Amendment claims. (If it’s not as important as we’re hearing, then, well, we shouldn’t be hearing that it’s so important.)

This wouldn’t be a scandal, or a national security issue, without the involvement of the press. The press isn’t just reporting this story. It’s part of the story. To a large degree, it is the story.

Bush should lance this boil by finding out what happened, and, if the charges pan out, getting rid of who’s responsible. And he shouldn’t be afraid to put the press on the spot. That will prevent similar future events, from both ends.

So there’s what I think. What’s it worth? Every penny you paid to read it!

Meanwhile, at the same low, low price, Edward Boyd offers an intriguing question. And Tom Maguire puts it well: “The CIA battles on many fronts! Whether one of those fronts still includes the war on terror concerns us all.” Indeed.

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