'There's Nothing Just About Nature. Nature Is Only About Survival.'
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This is Week 2 of Season 3 in my new 13 Weeks of Wild Man Writing and Radical Reading Series. Every week day I try to blog about compelling writers, their ideas, and interesting headlines at PJM and across the web.
In the previous weeks I've discussed 15 of my favorite writers and major intellectual influences in foreign policy, culture, and history. (At the bottom of each of these posts they're all listed with links to their entries.) I'll continue to add more authors to these sections but today I'm beginning another two categories of writers who I regard as core influences. Today's entry and future ones in the coming weeks will feature writers who have most influenced my approach to New Media. I'll continue to mostly focus first on PJM columnists and editors before moving on to other writers throughout history and today's media.
The media innovators I'll discuss are both blogosphere pioneers and those who have taken the medium to the next level to accomplish extraordinary things: Glenn Reynolds, J. Christian Adams, Ed Driscoll, Stephen Green, Richard Fernandez, Bryan Preston, Bridget Johnson, and Helen Smith. (Given the volume of posts -- most of them on timely subjects -- that they do, I'm also now going to begin to include links to all of Ed's and Stephen's posts in these rounds-ups alongside Bryan's and Bridget's. I'll also be cross-posting more of their posts along with some of Glenn's more Lifestyle-oriented Instapundit posts.)
The second category I'm planning to begin in the coming weeks is my list of top 20 conservative columnists. (Ann Coulter will be the first discussed; she remains #1 on the list, with her new book more than securing her position.)
But first, leading this section of New Media influences is not just a single individual but an institution: Prager University.
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"Give us five minutes, we'll give you a semester."
I'll soon get to writing about Dennis Prager and his ideas' role in Conservatism 3.0. (Click here for my extended review of his recent book Still the Best Hope: Why the World Needs American Values to Triumph.) He'll be high on the top 20 columnists list.
But Prager University should be regarded as an entity unto itself. Prager's spirit is infused into all the organization's releases, but a number of others work very hard to inject the magic that makes the project so extraordinary. It's indeed a team effort and a shining example of how to adapt what makes Prager's radio show so effective into a medium that we can pass off to friends and family who wouldn't be caught dead listening to talk radio.
Prager University releases multiple videos each month, 5-minute courses featuring some of the world's most respected authors, professors, and thinkers. Each video is both factual and analyzes the world through a moral point of view. Subjects range from history to religion to philosophy and gender relations. These aren't just videos to inform, they're to persuade. Prager University's is the only series of online videos that I'm aware of that has any chance whatsoever of winning over those wobbling on the edge of shifting from Left to Right, from secular to religious, from Democrat to Republican. Each video is a concentrated dosage of the best arguments for the Judeo-Christian value system, Americanism, and the interpretations of history and the present day that flow from them.
For a broader sample of what I'm talking about, see some of these potentially life-changing videos. Eleven of my favorites in religion and pro-Israel truth-telling are in these two previous posts:
Seriously -- I know of no better presentation of American values than what Prager U puts out consistently. Their formula really needs to be imitated by every conservative, pro-American organization. They're a light illuminating the path amidst the fog of media war.
I think it's very appropriate that Prager University's logo is a lighthouse. One of the most consistent themes in Prager University's videos -- an extension of one of Dennis's core values -- is the one in this week's video that I quoted in the headline: we have to fight both our own human nature and nature itself.
Goodness does not come from the natural world. Without a higher power of some sort -- whose nature we can debate about endlessly in theology discussions like the one from this weekend -- then we too are just beasts.
PJ Media Story Round Up
Lead PJM Stories Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and this Weekend
Bridget Johnson: GOP Congressman: Defund-Obamacare Caucus Not Conservative Because Conservatives 'Know How to Count'
Richard Fernandez: Under Obamacare, Unions Demand to Be More Equal Than Others
Victor Davis Hanson: Reading Among the Ruins
Bryan Preston: ‘Sons of the Flag’ Burn Foundation Plans Historic Skydive to Raise Money for Burn Research
Jack Dunphy: Who Let the ‘Racist’ Police Dogs Out?
Charlie Martin: I Told You So (Obamacare Edition)
Roger L. Simon: ObamaCare Best Advertisement for Libertarianism Ever
Government sources report as few as 51,000 completed applications for ObamaCare in the first week. At least seven million must sign up for the program to stay afloat financially.
This, after months of preparation, for a website that cost approximately 100 million dollars. Apple CEO Tim Cook would be out on his derriere faster than you could say Kathleen Sebelius for anything resembling such ineptitude. (Apple, for the record, sold nine million of its new iPhone 5S in the first three days.)
And the ObamaCare website is the least of it. The actual implementation will be worse as premiums and coverage ricochet all over the lot and look to continue doing so.
Only government could be this bad. Well not only government, but almost always government.
In truth, especially in a big country like ours, the more the government controls healthcare, the worse that care is — and, ironically, the less democratic, the more discriminatory, it becomes. Where there are bureaucrats, there is favoritism. And the greater the bureaucracy the greater this favoritism and the more difficult to unmask, the more entrenched it is.
Allen West: The Next Generation
Why must we stand up for the future? We currently are the first generation of Americans that will leave less for subsequent generations than we inherited. Reversing this tragedy is our challenge. Today, I am committing myself even more to taking this message across the U.S., in person and via media — an Allen West liberty and freedom road show of sorts is on its way. I intend to answer the call to arms for my republic.
Tom Blumer: Obamacare: Mind-Boggling Incompetence
Michael Ledeen: Evil Lives: The Erich Priebke Story
Rick Moran: Chinese Want to ‘De-Americanize’ the World
Roger Kimball: Is Ted Cruz Wrecking the GOP?
Janice Flamengo: Tommy Robinson Exits the Field
David Solway: Living in the Age of Contradiction
PJ Lifestyle Stories on the Home Page
Over the Weekend and This Week
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday
Paula Bolyard: Waiter, There’s a Government in My Beer!
Paula Bolyard: Juan Williams Suggests Buying Off Republicans with Campaign Donations to End Stalemate
Susan L.M. Goldberg: Queen Ann Advises Republicans: Always Listen to Mother
Andrew Klavan: What’s Wrong with Joel Osteen?
Theodore Dalrymple: When Doctors Decide Your Disease Doesn’t Actually Exist
Andrew Klavan: The Mystery of Elizabeth Smart
New at PJ Lifestyle on Monday, Tuesday and Sunday
Theodore Dalrymple: Was Sir Winston Churchill Right About Exercise?
Anna Vu Tapson: 4 Kitchen Items That Will Get You Ready For Holiday Cooking
Becky Graebner: A Classy Tequila Experience (Yes, It Does Exist)
Paula Bolyard: Should Colleges Have Parent-Teacher Conferences?
Robert Spencer: Child Marriage Comes to Australia
Michael Lumish: Politics Vs Theology: Beginning A Debate With David Swindle
Charlie Martin: What to Do When ‘Just Sitting’ Isn’t Enough?
Susan L.M. Goldberg: Biblical Feminism and the Dirty Male Myth
Rhonda Robinson: Could You Find The Meaning Of Life Through The Stench Of Death?
Walter Hudson: Religion Ought to Be Divisive
New at PJ Tatler
Stephen Kruiser: More Dry Ice 'Suspicious Package' Action At LAX
Charlie Martin: I Told You So (Obamacare Edition)
Eileen J. O'Connor: Americans Begin to Meet the Unaffordable Care Act
Stephen Kruiser: Shocked Face: Hillary To Officially Endorse McAuliffe, Vince Foster Unavailable For Comment
Raymond Ibrahim: This Week in History: The Battle of Tours
Hot Mom Tries to Inspire Others to Lose Weight, Runs Into Whiners and Haters, Whips Out Awesome Non-Apology Apology
Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher Talks to His Mom, Believes Obama is His God and Republicans Control His Health
Too many Americans depend on the government for some basic things. It would help the nation in the long run if we reduced that dependence and the mentality that fosters it. As that would not help the Democrats, though, expect it to happen right after never.
Shelves in Two Lousiana Walmarts Cleared When Welfare Recipients Thought They Were Getting Free Food
From PJM's Breaking News Columnists
Most families will face higher — in many cases, much higher — out-of-pocket expenses. Wealthier people opting for the Gold or Platinum plans will have lower out-of-pocket expenses, and since they won’t be getting any subsidies, why not? So we have a situation where the middle class pays more, while the rich (or politically connected) get better and cheaper service.
Of course, it was never about health care; it was always about power. And ObamaCare does more than perhaps any law in American history to concentrate power in Washington. I’m trying to think of a worse example, but I’m coming up blank. The establishment of a peacetime draft by FDR, maybe? At least that was a “temporary” national security measure.
The debacle of the rollout of Obamacare is yet another moment for re-learning the fundamental truth about how little we know about what we think we can control.
That last phrase comes from F.A. Hayek, of course. Hayek died in 1992, on the cusp of the World Wide Web and the explosion of the Internet, which has transformed our economy and our individual lives profoundly. In one of his last interviews with Forbes magazine shortly before his death, Hayek was asked whether the rapid advances in technology and computing power made economic management—planning and regulation—more feasible. Hayek was emphatic that no matter how big and how fast our computing power got, it did not change the fundamental defect of all centralized economic control: the problem is not simply mastering or processing a large amount of raw data. Information and circumstances change too quickly. More fundamentally, the data necessary for centralized decision-making is not available at all.
Speaking from the well-heeled confines of the University of Chicago’s International House on Wednesday, Bill Ayers said he was “amazed” to see himself on TV “cast as some kind of public enemy” with close ties to Barack Obama during one of the 2008 election’s biggest controversies.
At the event meant to promote his new book Public Enemy: Confessions of an American Dissident, Ayers slammed the “opportunistic media” and the “eager campaign staffs of the right, the middle, and even the moderate left” for resurrecting the Weather Underground, a radical far-left group Ayers co-founded which bombed government property and banks throughout the 1970s.
“Bernadine and I had hosted the initial fundraiser for Obama and uncharacteristically donated a little money to his campaign,” said Ayers, reading an excerpt. “We lived a few blocks apart and sat on a couple nonprofit boards together. So what? Who could have predicted it would blow up like this?”
— “Bill Ayers: Didn’t think Obama connection ‘would blow up like this,’” the College Fix, today.
Monday, after MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” spent about two hours blasting the Tea Party, Sarah Palin, and Ted Cruz as bubbled, dangerous, and stupid — in other words, a typical Monday on “Morning Joe” — the show hosted Bill Ayers, the unrepentant domestic terrorist. To no one’s surprise, hosts Mika Brzezinski and Time’s Mark Halperin treated the co-founder of the Weather Underground and friend of Barack Obama with extraordinary deference as he hawked a new book.
Pat Dollard is succinct: “After Accusing Tea Party Of Terrorist Bombing, MSNBC Invites Bill Ayers On To Plug His Book.”
15 Interesting Stories Around the Web This Week
Found on Facebook:
1. Shock Mansion: The First Flying Car is Finally Here!
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2. Andrew Kirell: Ann Coulter Talks to Mediaite About Issuing a ‘Fatwa’ for Conservatives, and Why She Mostly Watches MSNBC
Did you stop watching cable news after the election?
There was a six-month period where I didn’t read or listen to anything. About that time, I was going through my mother’s collection of Ann Coulter clippings — the largest in the northeastern United States, I should add — and there was a Time magazine write-up from 2004 after the midterm election. It was like a mirror image of after 2012 election. There was a big smiling picture of me, with a caption like “I’m a winner!” And then there was Michael Moore, sad, “I’m a loser.”
It made me remember how incumbents tend to win. Obama did worse than any incumbent in the last 100 years, according to the Brookings Institution. We probably feel the same way the Democrats did after they lost in 2004. Time to buck up.
Left of Center News and Opinion Sources:
3. Bill Moyers: Let's Call The Shutdown What It Is: Secession By Another Means
When the president refused to buckle to this extortion, they threw their tantrum. Like the die-hards of the racist South a century and a half ago, who would destroy the union before giving up their slaves, so would these people burn down the place, sink the ship.
At The Nation:
4. Citizen Marx
Marx’s dying looks different in A Nineteenth-Century Life, slower and still attuned to the world around him. From Algiers, he goes to Monte Carlo, where he eyes the well-dressed women and ridicules the intricately absurd systems the gamblers use to try to beat the house—another moment passed over by previous biographers, although they had the same letters available to them. For those who see Marx as a contemporary, the end of his life may be the hardest part to write or even to imagine. It contradicts our preconceptions. The bad weather might almost kill him, and so might his cheap tobacco, but dying isn’t something that Karl Marx is supposed to do.
Right of Center News and Opinion Sources:
Now Yankel’s brother, Norman, says that advertisers, MSNBC, and President Obama should be ashamed to be associated with Sharpton. “Any person who does anything to legitimize Al Sharpton is doing a gross disservice to their own integrity, and in terms of Al Sharpton the individual, the greatest concern is they’re legitimizing a fraud and charlatan,” Rosenbaum said from Melbourne, Australia. He added, “He has never apologized, he has never offered any sincere remorse for the atrocious things he has done by way of terrible racist behavior and lies, for inciting racial events. Anybody who takes a look at that person and wants to spend advertising dollars on him should take a hard look at their moral stance in terms of their position in business, in commerce, and in the community.”
That Al Sharpton remains a respected member of the Democratic Party and the progressive movement tells you everything you need to know about the level of moral bankruptcy in each.
At National Review:
6. Andrew C. McCarthy: Funding Jihadists while Denying Military Benefits
And, you’ll be pleased to know, supporting the Syrian “rebels” is a high enough priority that it’s not part of the 17 percent of the federal government affected by the “shutdown.” America’s enemies are still receiving taxpayer-funded weapons, so that they can fight America’s other enemies, the Assad regime, to what Washington hopes will be a resounding victory. Er . . . check that — to what the administration hopes will be . . . a tie. The administration also let slip this week that it is arming our preferred jihadists so they can grind to a stalemate with Russia’s preferred jihadists — after all, we wouldn’t want to upset Iran’s ruling jihadists after they’ve just finally deigned to take, yes, a phone call from our pleading president after blowing him off in New York.
So support for the Syrian jihad remains unaffected by the shutdown, just like the Capitol Hill gym and Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” website. Obama did manage, however, to cut off death benefits for the families of American troops killed fighting for our country. Or at least our conniving Alinsky-in-chief thought he’d succeeded in cutting off the military death benefits — along with forcible closures of war-hero cemeteries, national monuments, private homes, and the ocean.
It turned out he’d miscalculated.
President I Will Not Negotiate ended up negotiating, and then quietly paying bereaved military families, because he discovered, to his astonishment, that the public would hold him, not Republicans, responsible for this unspeakable breach of faith. He’d thought he had that covered. After all, as the Republican establishment repeatedly tells us, Obama’s media always blame the GOP — thus making it “delusional” for the GOP to stand up and fight about anything.
If I told you years ago that Obama would rather deny military death benefits than stop funding al-Qaeda you would have called me a crazy conspiracist.
Keir Starmer QC, Director of Public Prosecutions, issued a statement regarding reasons why authorities decided not to prosecute two abortionists caught in an undercover sting agreeing to sex selection abortions.
CPS decided it would not be in “the public interest” to prosecute the doctors. Guidance issued by the British Medical Association (BMA) advised physicians “there may be circumstances in which termination of pregnancy on grounds of fetal sex would be lawful.”
“It is normally unethical to terminate a pregnancy on the grounds of fetal sex alone,” the guidance stated. “The pregnant woman’s views about the effect of the sex of the fetus on her situation and on her existing children should nevertheless be carefully considered.”
Starmer said that guidance for doctors should be updated amid widespread concern over practices in abortion clinics that do not appear to be illegal.
“The law does not, in terms, expressly prohibit gender-specific abortions,” Starmer said. “Rather it prohibits any abortion carried out without two medical practitioners having formed a view, in good faith, that the health risks of continuing with a pregnancy outweigh those of termination.”
"If Nothing is True then Everything is Permitted." -- Hassan i Sabbah
[op-er-too-niz-uhm, -tyoo-] Show IPA
1.the policy or practice, as in politics, business, or one's personalaffairs, of adapting actions, decisions, etc., to expediency oreffectiveness regardless of the sacrifice of ethical principles.
2.action or judgment in accordance with this policy.
Related formsop·por·tun·ist, noun
At the Daily Caller:
9. Jeff Poor: Mediaite’s Christopher asks dumbest question in history of White House press briefings [VIDEO]
Reminder: Tommy Christopher is not his real name. It's not a coincidence that he's Mediaite's most obnoxious, narcissistic, dishonest contributor and he doesn't have to write under his own name. There are only a handful of pseudonymous bloggers whose work I respect. The difference between them and Christopher is that they're upfront about writing under a byline other than their real name.
And always keep an eye on Jeff Poor -- he's one of the Daily Caller's best.
Your Daily Dose of Postmodern Pop Culture Polytheism News and Opinion [Celebrity Gossip, Entertainment and Other Nonsense]:
The Star Wars enthusiasm has slowly dripped out of me until now little remains. I think the future of the franchise will come through embracing what it actually is: a giant commercial to sell merchandise. This is alright once you recognize and accept it.
Some day I hope I'll have a little girl who I can help make a cute costume. But I like this matching set better:
Note the way TMZ had to frame it -- "spitting" Bible verses.
12. Harry Knowles: 38th,39th&40th PICKS & PEEKS Columns: Vincent Price, Zombies, 3D Wizard of Oz & LITTLE MERMAID & Betty Boop & IRON MAN!
I'm not the pop culture polytheist I used to be but I still enjoy checking in with film nerd's geek godfather Harry Knowles. His round-ups of recent DVD and Blu-Ray releases remain useful and entertaining. Here are a few from his most recent column that I thought worthy of comment:
The Wife and I got this from Netflix last week and watched over the weekend. She had read the novel and liked it quite a bit. (And we'd had the fun experience of meeting the novel's author Max Brooks at a party a few months ago. He's friends with one of her art friends and was quirky and entertaining.)
According to April the movie departs pretty heavily from the book. We found it watchable and entertaining enough but nothing special. 28 Days Later remains the best zombie movie of all time IMHO.
If 28 Days Later is the best zombie horror movie then is the original Halloween the best slasher movie? Admittedly its not a difficult world to rise to the top of, but still -- there's a reason why John Carpenter more or less started the genre with this one. The original is much scarier and easier to take seriously than the imitators.
Best family film of all time? We meant to catch the new 3-D release in theaters but with April chugging along through her final year -- the third -- of grad school we don't have the time or energy to make it out to the theater. The Netflix Blu-Rays and streaming queue suffice.
At some point I'm going to get around to ranking all the films in the Disney animated canon. For reasons that I'll articulate at another time, I regard The Little Mermaid as among the most overrated Disney films. It's not the most overrated -- that prize goes to The Lion King -- but Ariel just is not as compelling a heroine as Belle and other Disney princesses. She's a girl so dumb that she was willing to become mute so she could marry a man. I'll take the bookworm Belle any day.
I agree with Andrew Klavan -- a funny, delightful laugh-fest with some good values from some of the most talented comedians making movies today.
And now you're all set for Halloween -- 28 Days Later, Halloween, and The Exorcist -- the three best horror films in their genres? One could throw in The Silence of the Lambs for top of the serial killer genre. Any others that I'm forgetting?
Closing Book Excerpt
Get to Know Everyone on the #ReadEverythingTheyWrite List!
15 of My Favorite Writers And Most Important Intellectual Influences:
6 On Foreign Policy:
- Monday, August 5: ‘War, and Preparation for War, Are the Normal Conditions of Mankind, While Peace Is Extremely Rare.’ – Michael Ledeen
- Tuesday, August 6 on Andrew C. McCarthy: Muslim Brotherhood Operatives Have Infiltrated America’s Political and Cultural Institutions to Conquer Us from Within
- Wednesday, August 7 on Barry Rubin: First We Define Anti-Americanism, Then We Crush It Again Even Harder
- Thursday, August 8 on Claudia Rosett: The United Nations is a Corrupt Failure That Does Not Unite Nations
- Friday, August 9 on David P. Goldman: No to Corporate Neoconservatism, No to Paleo-Libertarian Anarchism, Yes to Augustinian Realism
- Tuesday, August 13 on Victor Davis Hanson: The Price We Pay for Our Ignorance of Military History Is Dead Americans
4 On Culture:
- Wednesday, August 14: 3 Weapons to Win the Culture War Courtesy of Roger Kimball
- Monday, August 19: How to End the Fake Fight Between Social Conservatives and Libertarians With Andrew Klavan’s Wonderful Writing
- Wednesday, August 21: Michael Walsh Names the Founder of the Criminal Organization Destroying America for Two Centuries…
- Sunday, August 24: The Most Valuable Writing Advice Roger L. Simon Gave Me…
5 On History:
- Tuesday, August 27: Ron Radosh: The Most Valuable Historian Exposing Marxism’s Long War Against America
- Thursday, September 5 on Ion Mihai Pacepa: How the Soviets Seeded Antisemitism Around the World and the Price We Pay with Syria Today
- Friday, October 11: The KGB’s War To Destroy the God of Israel
- Wednesday, September 11 on James C. Bennett and Michael J. Lotus and their essential book America 3.0: On 9/11 and Benghazi’s Anniversary, We End Conservative Pessimism and Right-Wing Apocalypticism
- Tuesday, October 9 on Robert Spencer’s Vital Role in Creating Conservatism 3.0
shutterstock images courtesy / Linda Bucklin