Monday morning round-up and Open Thread *UPDATED*

Victorian posy of pansiesSpring break is over and real life resumes. The kids weren’t thrilled to return to school, but I’m pretty pleased to have my life back on schedule. As you could probably tell from last week’s lethargic blogging, I don’t do well without some boundaries to my days. I’m off to exercise soon (Yay, me!), but first a few quick links:

One of my running themes since Obama started to run for President is that he lies, and lies, and lies some more. The rest of America is finally — finally! — figuring this out for itself.

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I love Commentary Magazine, which helped me transition from Democrat to conservative. Nevertheless, I’ve been consistently dismayed by its East Coast, Ivy League, snotty attitude towards Sarah Palin. In that, it perfectly echoes the liberals who surround me who, when unable to challenge Palin’s accomplishments in 2008, especially when compared to Obama’s much lesser list of accomplishments in the same year, fell back on the line “She’s not one of us.” It’s painful to see that Obama’s failures (and he is “one of them”) still haven’t changed the classist mindset over at Commentary.

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Political advertisers (i.e., heavily funded Leftist interest groups) own the content at Politico. And Soros’ own Media Matters out-and-out wrote content at CBS. The problem is that, while you and I care about this confluence between news that sold as “objective” and hard-line Leftist partisan organizations, ordinary people cannot be made to care. Instead of reacting with outrage and a desire for “clean” information, they continue to respond to dishonest emotional appeals from the Left.  No wonder John Fund can credibly suggest that Democrats will tell any lies, no matter how inflammatory and slanderous (and, therefore, destructive of the American political and social scene) in order to get out that vote.

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I wrote about the outrage on the Left because the Koch brothers have the temerity to donate to libertarian political causes. How dare rich people buy political influence? Funnily enough (sarcasm), they’ve been completely silent about Tom Steyer’s massive payment for political influence. After my work-out, I think I’ll write up a petition, paralleling the MoveOn one, asking people to “denounce” Steyer.

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Thomas Piketty, an economist, is the newest darling among the Leftist intelligentsia and faux intelligentsia (but I repeat myself), because he claims that capitalism is inherently unfair since it’s entirely predicated on income inequality. Clive Crook explains that even the meanest intelligence should see that Piketty’s conclusions don’t match his data. I’ll add something that Crook didn’t say and that I’m sure Piketty ignored: Capitalism is not a still photograph; it’s a moving picture. In any specific frame, there will be rich people and poor people who are separated by a wide gap. However, the dynamic of capitalism is that the poor in one still photo are not the same as the poor in the next.  Socialism, by contrast, is a still photograph: Except for the coddled nomenklatura, everyone else stays firmly mired at the bottom forever.

UPDATE: Of all sources, the New York Times backs up my statement that the problem with socialist economists is that they understand the economy in static, not dynamic terms:

It turns out that 12 percent of the population will find themselves in the top 1 percent of the income distribution for at least one year. What’s more, 39 percent of Americans will spend a year in the top 5 percent of the income distribution, 56 percent will find themselves in the top 10 percent, and a whopping 73 percent will spend a year in the top 20 percent of the income distribution.

Yet while many Americans will experience some level of affluence during their lives, a much smaller percentage of them will do so for an extended period of time. Although 12 percent of the population will experience a year in which they find themselves in the top 1 percent of the income distribution, a mere 0.6 percent will do so in 10 consecutive years.

It is clear that the image of a static 1 and 99 percent is largely incorrect. The majority of Americans will experience at least one year of affluence at some point during their working careers. (This is just as true at the bottom of the income distribution scale, where 54 percent of Americans will experience poverty or near poverty at least once between the ages of 25 and 60).

Hat tip: Tom Elia

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Anthropogenic climate change is a con. Even if one assumes solely for the sake of argument that our carbon output exceeds the sun’s control over the earth’s atmosphere, science, history, and common sense all show that a minimal rise in CO2 levels provides more food and water around the world, not less.

Benghazi is not news at the Times; Michael Sam’s sexuality is

Michael SamI know this is a politically incorrect thing for me to say, but I couldn’t care less about Michael Sam’s sexuality.  If it were up to me, it wouldn’t be news at all, or it would be at the bottom of page three in the sports section. I’m not homophobic; I’m homo-disinterested.  Peculiarly enough (nowadays), I measure people by attributions other than their sexual orientation.

The New York Times, however, considers Sam’s announcement that he is gay to be major news, not non-news, and has given him lavish coverage (which I haven’t bothered to read, because I really don’t care).  As far as the Times is concerned, a gay college football player is front page news:

New York Times on Michael Sam

Think about this:  in the world of the New York Times, it’s minimally newsworthy that (a) the Secretary of State failed to provided necessary security for an Ambassador in a tremendously dangerous region, where he and three others subsequently died; (b) that the Secretary of State and the President both seem to have been AWOL while the Ambassador and three others were dying; (c) that the Secretary of State, the President, and the entire administration lied about events leading up to and including these four deaths; and (d) that the Secretary of State loudly proclaimed that none of this mattered.  The New York Times also thinks this same Secretary of State would make a stellar president.  (And maybe that’s true, if you like your presidents to be utterly unprincipled and un-accomplished.)

Considering that the New York Times styles itself the paper of record, wouldn’t you love to ask the petty, squabbling, arrogant staff there, “Just what record are you talking about there?”

Ben Shapiro just shot to the top of my reading list

One of the best non-fiction books I’ve read in I don’t know how long is Ben Shapiro’s Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV.  The book’s beauty rests on two solid pillars.  The first is that Ben, who is so sweet-faced he looks as if he couldn’t hurt a fly, got liberal TV producers, writers, and directors to speak openly about the fact that they intended their TV shows — all of which were sold to the public as entertainment and all of which were, indeed, entertaining — to be propaganda vehicles for Leftist ideology.

By getting these detailed quotations, Shapiro ensures that his book cannot be dismissed as the ranting of a conspiracy theorist who sees Communism’s evil hand in Hollywood’s every move.  There’s no conspiracy here.  Instead, there’s a smiling confession from Hollywood power brokers who detail their goals and the way in which they used our television sets to achieve those goals.

Benjamin Shapiro, from his Facebook page

The second pillar on which the book rests is Shapiro’s own writing style:  he’s easy to read.  His writing style is utterly straight-forward, although never boring.  Reading the book, I had the sense that I was a participant in a delightful conversation with an informed, witty friend who was fleshing out for me something I’d only noted vaguely before.

My only problem with Shapiro’s writing — and this reflects badly on me, not on him — is that I’m incredibly jealous that someone so young has such a mature, informed world view, and that he is able to convey it so well to others.  Despite having a few decades on him, I’m still a work-in-progress, but he’s a precociously sophisticated, intelligent voice.

I just purchased Shapiro’s latest book, Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences Americans.  The title, of course, is self-explanatory.  I suspect that it will be a perfect companion piece to Jonah Goldberg’s The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas.  Intellectual bullying and cheating are, after all, the yin and yang of Leftist discourse.

I have some other books I’ve been meaning to read, so I’d originally put Bullies in the middle of my reading list.  I’ve shuffled my list around, though, thanks to Shapiro’s masterful engagement with CNN’s resident bully, Piers Morgan.  Currently, the video is one of those autoplay videos, so I won’t include it here.  However, now that you’re warned about that autoplay, you can go here to see Shapiro reduce a bully to a quivering mass of incoherence.

Shapiro facing down Morgan

Shapiro’s ability to reduce Morgan so completely matters, not just because it’s gratifying to see a bully beaten at his own game, but also because it helps shift the discourse.  At Shapiro’s own Breitbart, Joel Pollak articulates Shapiro’s significant victory:

Ben Shapiro’s confident, fact-packed demolition of CNN’s Piers Morgan last night marks the turning point in the gun control debate. Ben showed that when they cannot exploit the deaths of children, gun control advocates are forced to defend their views, which are based on faulty premises. That timely reminder has given new energy and enthusiasm to defenders of the Second Amendment, who are preparing for the mother of all battles.

[snip]

Ben put into practice something that Andrew Breitbart preached throughout his career of battling the mainstream media: Question the premise, whether it’s an assertion that you don’t care about the victims of Sandy Hook, or a faulty definition of Critical Race Theory, or that Barack Obama is a nice guy who only wants America to succeed. Ben destroyed the faulty premise of the gun control debate last night. And the debate is now changed.

Question the premise.  What a great idea.  I took that tack in an earlier post I did today challenging the phrase “gun control,” which presupposes that guns should be controlled, and leaves the scope of that control as the only question.  The correct premise after Sandy Hook is to examine what steps we can take to make our country safer — and the data shows that depriving law-abiding citizens of their constitutional access to arms not only doesn’t make our country safer, it makes it more dangerous.  If you operate from the correct premise, you are able to use the correct information, and reach an accurate conclusion.

Right now, the only problem is that the Left fully understands that Shapiro is a lethal weapon aimed at the heart of shoddy Leftist thinking.  They’ve responded in predictable fashion, by burying Shapiro’s appearance on Morgan’s show.  They might have celebrated Alex Jones (“Can you believe how unstable this gun advocate is?”), but Shapiro has achieved Voldemortian status, by becoming he who shall not be named.  As Rush Limbaugh said just today during the few minutes I was able to catch his show, the media’s overriding ethos is that it’s only news if it harms Republicans.  No other news is fit to print.

The fact that Shapiro is not only willing to take on a bully, but also perfectly equipped to do so means that, rather than merely looking forward to reading his book, I’m positively lusting after it (in a purely intellectual way, of course).  I suspect that, if it’s as easily accessible as Primetime Propaganda, I’ll be able to read it quickly and review it soon.

Edward Klein’s “The Amateur” — and what it reveals about America’s partisan media

I got a $5 Amazon gift card, so I overcame my usual skinflint habits and purchased Edward Klein’s The Amateur.  It is a very easy read (I’m more than halfway through after only an hour and a half), and a scary one too.  The book’s title could just as easily have been “The Malignant Narcissist.”  It describes a White House under the sway of a man who is simultaneously unreasonably arrogant and insecure to the point of paranoia.  To cope with both of these pathologies, he surrounds himself with utterly loyal sycophants who, wrapped in their own insecurity, work hard to isolate the president from anyone who could interfere with their ideology, their power plays, and their egos.

Scary as the White House is, what’s really horrific is the way the media still works to protect the man and his plan.  The book makes clear that the media hasn’t been treated very well by the White House (no access), and that savvy media members have caught on to the fact that the Obama White House is a dysfunctional place.  They don’t care.  Obama is pursuing an agenda in which they fervently believe.  They won’t do anything to destroy the narrative.  Witness the election coverage that sees the media play lap dog to the Obama campaign, while working hard to undermine the Romney campaign.

Honest reporting would require them to stop this kind of partisan activity.  Wounded egos (and there are many because of the White House’s arrogance) would hint that the love would die.  But while the big donors — the ones who, in 2008, put their money where their mouths were — have kind of oozed away (they still talk the talk, but they don’t write the checks), nothing stops the media.  It talked the talk before, when the love affair was in its passionate ascendency, and it’s still talking the talk, despite the fact that the Obama love affair has proven to be nothing more than a campaign-fueled one night stand.

We all thought that the media showed its partisan stripes when it drove Obama’s campaign in 2008.  That was nothing.  At least then the media had the excuse of hope, ignorance, and novelty.  Now, though, there’s no excuse.  The media, despite knowing that Obama was grossly unprepared for the job and is driving the White House into the ground, nevertheless still campaigns for him as vigorously as ever.  If Obama wins in 2012, it will be because of the powerful cabal of media and Hollywood, the first of which provided the PR and the second the cash.  And I’ll tell you right now that there’s something seriously wrong with a country that lets those two entities dictate national policy.

Eric Allen Bell: Once blind about radical Islam and the Left, but now he sees *UPDATED*

Eric Allen Bell, a former Daily Kos contributor and an independent filmmaker for Left-leaning outlets, had an epiphany recently:  Islam is not a nice religion.  Indeed, it’s a very un-nice religion, one that sees the embodiment of human perfection in a child-raping, misogynistic, antisemitic crime lord.  When he tried to share that epiphany with the liberals who made up his work and personal life, he was blackballed, maligned, and threatened.  He writes about his experiences here.

Bell’s essay is an important one, because it shows that, armed with information, people can change their minds.  However, it’s also a depressing essay because it shows that the Left is bound and determined to keep that information away from the American public.

In that same depressing vein, if you haven’t already read the Daily Caller expose showing how Media Matters (very successfully) works closely with the Obama White House to provide talking points for the mainstream media, you should.  Again, it’s a reminder that, in an information age, lies are precisely as mobile and far-reaching as the truth — more so, in fact, when the liars control the White House, the Media, and the educational institutions.

I frequently remind myself that a conspiracy theorist is someone who takes the absence of evidence as proof of something.  We in the new media are not conspiracy theorists.  We are truth-miners and truth-spreaders.  We don’t need to make up things or weave fragile stories made up of unrelated, and often imaginary, “facts”.  Instead, our responsibility, as Eric Bell has discovered, is simply to break down the media filter between their artificial reality and the facts on the ground.

Troops, we’ve got a fight ahead of us.  A tough fight, but a good one.  Our weapons in this good war are facts, truth, and words.  There are times when we’ll want to give up, but Eric Bell’s story reminds us that the truth can set people free.  Even if we can only achieve victory one person at a time, we still have to fight that fight.

UPDATED:  And since I mentioned the Media Matters expose, here’s another post about David Brock,

Los Angeles Times columnist proves that there are zombies

If you’ve been trolling the internet at all the lost couple of days, you’re aware by now that Christopher Knight, who has what is apparently a paying gig at the Los Angeles Times, has taken umbrage at a political cartoon likening the profligate Mrs. Obama to Marie Antoinette, who was herself no slouch at spending other people’s money.  If you haven’t heard about this kerfuffle, let me lead you through it.

First, here’s the original Marie Antoinette portrait and the companion political cartoon:

Michelle Antoinette

And second, Christopher Knight’s fevered fulminations:

A baldly racist depiction of First Lady Michelle Obama that appeared Tuesday on a right-wing website is based on a 1775 portrait of Marie Antoinette by Jean-Baptiste André Gautier-Dagoty (1740-1786). The full-length painting hangs outside Paris in the Palace of Versailles.

The Internet image grafts Obama’s face onto Gautier-Dagoty’s lavish depiction of the French queen, dressed in full regalia. It also replaces the draped left arm of the young monarch, then barely 20, with a muscular black arm and shifts the position of the right hand to place it in front of a world globe.

The caricature of Obama as a profligate queen relies on the racist stereotype of an “uppity Negro,” which emerged among slave masters in an earlier American era. Obama, born into a working-class Chicago family whose roots are traced to the pre-Civil War South, graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School, prior to holding several high-level positions in the academic and private sectors.

The racist image appeared Tuesday on the right-wing blog Gateway Pundit; the slur was later called out by Media Matters for America. A post by Gateway blogger Jim Hoft paired the picture with a clip of the first lady’s guest appearance on a forthcoming episode of “iCarly,” a Nickelodeon sit-com. In the script, Obama commends the cast for their support of military families. Responding to a cast member who mistakenly addresses her as “your excellency,” the script has Obama jokingly reply, “I kinda like it.”

The doctored painting also turned up in August 2010 on the right-wing Instapundit website, where it apparently originated.

You can read the rest here, if you want a laugh and have a strong stomach.

I’m not usually moved to comment on MSM articles (too many comments mean mine get buried, a dreadful fate for an egotist), but this time I couldn’t resist.  Here, in its entirety, is my comment:

Dear Mr. Knight: I’ve pretty much ignored the whole zombie phenomenon, thinking it’s kind of stupid to fear the living dead. (I find the actual living much more frightening.) Your post, however, is causing me to rethink my rejection of the zombie trope, because you have just provided living (or, rather, undead) proof that zombies are actually sucking people’s brains out.

Is it possible that you’re unaware of Marie Antoinette’s reputation for living extravagantly while the ordinary people around her starved in the street? And are you unable to make the connection between Marie Antoinette’s reputation (and she was Austrian, by the way, not African American) and the fact that Michelle Obama just recently went on a $4 million tax payer funded vacation, while wearing $1,200 sundresses, even as Americans have been struggling desperately with unemployment and rising prices? For the informed mind (or just the living mind), the comparisons are inevitable, appropriate and non-racist.

Sherlock Holmes famously said that “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Since it must be impossible for a major publication such as the Los Angeles Times to have hired an idiot, the improbable truth we are dealing with is that, since being hired, you have had your brain sucked out by zombies.

What’s in a name? A lot, apparently, when you’re talking about Andy Stern and communism.

One of my favorite books, and one I highly recommend, is Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism. The title is self-explanatory, so I won’t belabor what you’ll find when you read it. I mention it here because I believe it was in that book that I read that, from the 1950s through the 1970s, one of the staunchest anti-Communist forces in America was  . . . wait for it . . . the AFL-CIO!*  Yup, under the leadership of George Meany, big labor was enormously hostile to Communism.  This was not just a symbolic thing.  The AFL-CIO’s political and economic heft meant that it could affect America’s political and economic approach to the Soviet Union.  For that reason, the AFL-CIO contributed largely to the Soviet Union’s downfall — and the freeing of a significant part of the world as a result.

MediaMatters, a Leftist media watchdog, wants to assure us that unions are still anti-Communist.  MediaMatters has therefore mounted a full frontal attack against Glenn Beck, who in turn is contending the SEIU president Andy Stern is not only Obama’s best buddy, but is also a communist.  The problem as Beck sees it and as Kathy Shaidle explains, is that Andy Stern likes to go around quoting communist slogans as his guiding principles.  In a recent interview, he announced that “workers of the world unite, it’s not just a slogan anymore.  It’s the way we’re going to have to do our work.”

Stern hastened to add in a subsequent interview that he thinks it’s just great that communism is dead.  It’s certainly nice of Stern to say that, but his conclusory statement about communism’s death hasn’t assuaged anyone’s worry that he, like Anita Dunn, who quotes Mao with the best of them, looks for moral and practical guidance to some pretty rotten people with really bad ideas.

You and I aren’t simplistic or naive.  We know that even bad people have good ideas.  Indeed, to be a high functioning bad person, you have to have some good ideas or otherwise you won’t sell your overall ideology.  Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin were all effective managers, and Mussolini did get those trains to run on time.

Nevertheless, as I’ve said before and am happy to say again, there comes a point when someone’s reprehensible side is so extreme that simple decency means that you can no longer hold that person’s less reprehensible side up as a useful example for one thing or another.  Because reputation matters, when a person’s evil outweighs his good, we toss him from the role model pedestal for all purposes.

Still, one could argue that recyclying is a good thing, and that’s mere convenience for for Stern, who does want to unite workers, to rely on that recognizable  old Marxist standby about the world’s workings uniting.  It’s kind of like a Che shirt — everybody recognizes it but, to the average American, it’s been leeched of its associated horrors.  The only problem with this defense is that, in addition to a weakness for communist slogans, Stern also engages in communist behavior patterns.

I’ll digress here a minute and explain what I mean by “communist behavior patterns.”  Boiled down to its essence, communism is about government control.  It is statism.  It is the opposite of the American experience which, since the Founders’ days, has been committed to liberty.

To the committed communist, anxious to explain why his system is so good, communism is an economic doctrine, with the government simply ensuring that everyone contributes so that everyone gets back.  (Doesn’t that sound nice?)  In real world terms, proven on the ground in myriad countries (the Soviet Union, North Korea, China, Bulgaria, etc.), things aren’t that simple or sweet.  Without exception, in every country in which it has been tried, communism has resulted in a state that controls the individual absolutely and completely.

It’s quite logical.  Without that overarching control, how can the simple government bureaucrat be sure that everyone is contributing?  Only through the use of force can a statist government ensure those voluntary contributions.  Individual liberty yields so quickly to coercion that life in a Communist nation is tantamount to life in a prison.  Freedom vanishes.  The government sees all and knows all — and it makes sure its citizens are fully aware of its overarching police powers.

To be sure, Andy Stern doesn’t control a government, but he does have his own private fiefdom in the SEIU.  As king of that domain, he’s committed to complete control over both those who officially reside in his kingdom (that would be the union members) and those he views as enemies of his kingdom (business and its allies).  So, Stern, to show his commitment to SEIU’s agenda, proudly boasts of engaging in precisely the same Big Brother tactics that characterize life in a Communist nation:

STERN: We took names. We watched how they voted. We know where they live. (…)

STERN: There are opportunities in America to share better in the wealth, to rebalance the power, and unions and government are part of the solution.

In other words, the same man who openly quotes Marxist doctrine also openly engages in coercive Marxist conduct.  Shakespeare knew that labels are just labels.  What matters is the deeper quality that characterizes a thing or a person.  (“What’s in a name?  That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.”)  Stern can disavow communism as much as he likes, but when he trumpets Marxist doctrine as his guiding principle, and loudly lets people know that he is willing to use spying and coercive tactics to ensure that everyone “contributes,” there’s a heavy Marxist stench rising around him — and disavowals simply aren’t going to deodorize the smell.

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* There are two other places I might have read about George Meany.  One is Natan Sharansky’s The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedm to Overcome Tyranny and Terror. The other is Ann Coulter’s Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right. By the way, even if I’m wrong and none of these books is the source for my knowledge about the AFL-CIO’s anti-communist activities, all three are such good books, you have nothing to lose by reading them.

Put your money on those the Dems attack most fiercely

We conservatives have tended to be “go along to get along” people.  If the media says someone is crazy, we back off, ’cause we don’t want to scare ordinary Americans.  Mark Steyn usefully reminds us that the media isn’t “ordinary Americans” and that media goals are antithetical to conservative success:

The media would like the American Right to be represented by the likes of Bob Dole and John McCain, decent old sticks who know how to give dignified concession speeches. Last time round, we went along with their recommendation. If you want to get rave reviews for losing gracefully, that’s the way to go. If you want to win, look at whom the Democrats and their media chums are so frantic to destroy: That’s the better guide to what they’re really worried about.

Scientists know everything about the known world around us when it comes to climate change, but nothing when it comes to other things

The media repeatedly assures us that there is no question — and cannot be any question — about climate change.  That particular bit of science is settled, with all the data collected, a position the media holds to strenuously despite significant amounts of data that contradict the claim that humans (particularly American humans) are solely responsible for climate change.  The media also clings to this position despite its oft repeated statement, in stories about bizarre animal or geological discoveries, that there is still tons our scientists do not know about the world around us (emphasis mine):

U.S. scientists in the Gulf of Mexico unexpectedly netted a 19.5-foot (5.9-meter) giant squid off the coast of Louisiana, the Interior Department said on Monday, showing how little is known about life in the deep waters of the Gulf.

All of which means that we’re ignorant only when it’s sexy and mysterious to be so, and we’re all-knowing when it’s politically expedient for a Leftist ideology that we be so.

Hollywood’s perverted patriotism

Hollywood and the media establishment as a whole are inescapable parts of American and, indeed, world culture.  It’s fascinating, therefore, to think about the type of patriotism our American media now espouses and that which it embraced in the past.   Depending on how one defines patriotism, whether as love of country or love of a particular political leader, American media has always done its best to lead the way.

Typically, there are two types of patriotism, one of which I think is healthy and one of which is scary.  The healthy one is love of country.  I’m talking true love of country, the one that sees a citizen believing he is singularly blessed to live in his country.  Your citizen recognizes that his country has had — and still has — failings, but nonetheless thinks it’s the best game in town — and this is true whether he focuses on his personal freedoms, the economy, national security or social mores.  This patriot is completely distinguishable from those who have nothing good to say about their country, but can only recite an endless litany of its moral failings.  When the “patriots” focuses obsessively on his countries wrongs, periodically stopping to make that rote statement that “I love my country,” you see someone akin to the chronic wife beater, who always excuses his abuses by claiming that he’s doing it for his wife’s own good.  That’s not about love.  It’s about power and hatred.

The other type of patriotism is one that attaches itself to a leader.  These are the cults of personality, and I can’t think of one that hasn’t occured in the context of a totalitarian dictatorship.  (If I’m wrong, please enlighten me.)  Stalin in the Soviet Union, Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in German, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Mao in China, Kim Jong Il in Korea, Castro in Cuba, and Qaddafi in Libya are all perfect examples of this scenario.  In each case, a leader ascended to absolute power and the people, who may have been at first seduced by his demagoguery, ended up at sword-point being forced to worship him completely, to their own detriment and that of the state.  That is why it is always frightening when someone ascends to office based upon a personality cult, rather than based upon past accomplishments.

The early movie makers were, without exception, patriots who truly believed America was the best nation on earth.  This was true whether they were immigrants who escaped from oppression in other lands (e.g., Louis B. Mayer or Jack Warner), or came from America’s heartland (Walt Disney).  Even as they recognized America’s flaws — and recognize them they did, especially because flaws tend to make for good drama — their love for this country came through loud and clear in every movie they made.  MGM, especially under Louis B. Mayer, loved to present an idealized country in which an honest and free people would triumph, whether to music, laughter or tears.  Warner Brothers tended to focus on America’s noir nitty-gritty, but the good guys were the cops who saved decent citizens from those lowlifes who rejected the American dream in favor of crime or the soldiers who protected Americans from enemies abroad.  And then there’s Disney, with every movie somehow serving as the backdrop to a subliminal national anthem.

Early Hollywood’s deep love for country was never more clearly seen than during World War II, when every studio in Hollywood willingly bent its efforts to helping America win the war.  Whether churning out movies about the home front, about our Allies or our evil enemies, or about the bravery and sacrifice of our troops, each picture had a single goal:  to help Americans support the war effort so that America would achieve an absolute victory.  The same held true for written media and even popular song.  Women were reminded not to sit under the apple tree with anyone but their overseas love; soldiers were assured that, with a little praise for the Lord and a lot of ammunition, they would prevail; and every citizen was reminded to remember Pearl Harbor.

Early American TV also celebrated American virtues.  Family shows weren’t about dysfunction, with snotty kids putting inept and helpless parents firmly in their place.  Instead, no matter the show’s name (Leave it to Beaver, The Brady Bunch, The Ozzie and Harriet Show), the truth was that, in TV Land, Father (and Mother) always knew best.  And while these shows, in both tone and racial representation, may not have accurately reflected many of the homes in America, they nevertheless helped Americans aspire to be part of stable and loving families, with respectful, moral children.  As with early movies, TV shows through the early 1970s saw the nitty-gritty of America (again, it makes for good drama), but the American people, the ordinary families, the police officers, and the military, were the heroes, not the enemies.

Only in one area did old Hollywood deviate from the purer form of patriotism, and that was when it came to Roosevelt worshipo.  Generally speaking, old Hollywood movies shied away from blatant political statements, recognizing, no doubt, that their audience encompassed both Roosevelt lovers and haters.  Sometimes, though, a little propaganda was just too good to resist.  So it was that, in 1933, when Warner Brothers made Footlight Parade, starring James Cagney, neither Cagney, the studio, nor choreographer Busby Berkeley could resist including an homage to the WPA and Roosevelt in the wonderful grand finale, Shanghai Lil.  (The politics come in at about 2:15.)

Looking at this musical pièce de résistance now, over a distance of 76 years, the effect is not only visually spectacular (it is Busby Berkeley, after all), but tinged with an almost wholesome nostalgia.  I wonder, though, whether the more sophisticated crowd in 1933, who watched with horror as Roosevelt threw an already fragile economy into absolute chaos, was quite so charmed.

The years since John F. Kennedy have presented the spectacle of a media that entirely lacks the old-fashioned love of country that characterized early Hollywood.  Instead, modern media professes a wife-beater’s love for country, with films, magazines, books, television shows and songs that have been relentlessly hostile to American values, whether those values relate to economics, national security or old-fashioned societal morality.

On the economic front, in film after film after film, America is painted as an exploitative imperialist power, in thrall to shadowy corporations headed by evil white men.  A perfect example of this is 2005′s Syriana, a muddled mess with mega-watt star power.  If you have the stamina to try to sift through the inchoate plot, you learn that evil oil interests control the world.  The same year saw an equally muddled film with almost exactly the same plot:  The Constant Gardener. These movies, with their focus on the effect evil American corporations have on exploited Third Worlders abroad, were the natural successors to the two decade run of movies about the effect evil American corporations had poor Americans at home (think Norma Rae, Silkwood, and Erin Brockovich).

On the war front, Hollywood has been relentless in its attacks on American forces.  They are painted as brutish, stupid murders or innocent pawns, rather than people of intelligence, patriotism, bravery or integrity.  Again, examples abound.  The staggeringly dull and mean-spirited In the Valley of Elah (2007) is a case in point.  The IMDB plot summaries pretty much say it all.  One sums up the film as an example of “dirty little secrets with an impressive case of dehumanization caused by the invasion and consequent war in Iraq.”  The other explains that the movie shows “the failings of the military to adequately look out for the well-being of its soldiers.”  Valley of Elah is such a perfect example of Hollywood’s antipathy to the American military that I’ll stop here.  I know, though, that you can easily summon to mind other examples.

And then there are Hollywood’s most insidious attacks, those against mainstream American morality.  In 1999, the Hollywood establishment gave its best picture award to American Beauty, a bleak look at the depravity, ennui and despair that is, in Hollywood’s jaded eyes, Middle America.  That movie at least had the virtue of being up front in its challenge to American values.  As most parents will attest, though, the real problem is the dozens of movies coming out assuring America’s children that it’s totally okay to take drugs, drink, screw around, drop out of school and lie to ones parents.  Do this, and you will be amusing and very cool.

Even apparently innocuous movies such as The Sure Thing, which was ostensibly a remake of the delightful It Happened One Night, celebrate college drinking.  Its stars do it — so why shouldn’t you?  Then there’s one of my least favorite movies of all time, the one that left me with an abiding dislike for the heterosexual Tom Cruise:  Risky Business. It is almost impossible to imagine a more sordid movie than this tale of a high school student (played by a known teeny-bopper magnet) who turns his house into a brothel to raise cash, and then suffers (a term I use lightly) an eventual comeuppance that is minimal compared to his complete moral collapse.

Watch enough Hollywood movies — and people at home and abroad do — and the message you will receive is absolutely clear:  America is a despicable place, filled with despicable people who use its economic freedoms and its vast arsenal to enslave and destroy, both at home and abroad.  This is wife-beater patriotism.

While the entertainment world may show a wife-beater’s love for country, the opposite it true when it comes to Democratic presidents.  They are accorded a type of worship that skates eerily close to the state-mandated worship people in totalitarian regimes are required to show for their various “Dear” or “Great” leaders.  In Hollywood and Manhattan (the two geographic centers of American media) John F. Kennedy, a hawk and a fiscal conservative, has morphed into a Progressive politician who would have put his political life on the line for a socialist economy and a pacifist national security plan. Bill Clinton, a self-indulgent, sexually debauched leftist (although he had the good sense to move to the center when attacked) was portrayed on America’s TV screens as the innocent victim of sleazy attack politics launched either by white, male, corporate monsters or by white, male, Christian fanatics. And while he was never president, wannabe Teddy Kennedy on his death has been treated as a secular saint.  His unfortunate contretemps — cheating scandals, murder, treason, sexual debauchery and alcoholism — are presented as “flaws” and “mistakes” and “failings.”  The message to Americans, especially the young ones, is clear:  Feel free to kill, lie and cheat.  If your politics are pure and Progressive, we’ll always forgive you.

As for Barack Obama, I don’t even know where to begin with him.  Every mainstream TV show, whether news or gossip; every big time magazine, whether news, fashion or family; and every major newspaper, has focused relentlessly on the Obama personality cult.  The obsession with Obama’s wonderfulness has always been, of course, a necessary offset to the fact that his record, when not absent entirely, showed the kind of Leftist political extremism that would have frightened every ordinary American in flyover country (not to mention those in a few states and counties on either coast).  There is no better way to avoid his missing transcripts, his radical friendships and affiliates, his complete lack of executive experience, and his failed political initiatives than turning him into a cutting-edge red, white and blue poster; raving about his physical beauty (although I’ve always thought he looked more like Dopey than Depp); and announcing, based on the evidence of a single (possibly ghost-written) book that he was the second coming of Einstein in terms of intelligence.

Just as with Jesus, the secular faithful in the American media, those who hate the country but love the man, repeatedly told us that we could atone for our grievous sins as Americans by “coming to Obama.”  The Dear Leader would wash away our collective failings.  With this in mind, do not expect Hollywood to come out any time soon with Obama movies comparable to Nixon, The Reagans or W.  A movie about Obama is likely to be closer in emotional tone to The Passion of the Christ.

As always when it comes to Hollywood and television, it’s tempting to slough off its failings by say “it’s just entertainment.”  That’s the lazy way out, though.  With its spectacular reach, a reach that now extends around the world, and with its trained ability to drive messages home in the most entertaining way possible, what Hollywood does matters.  It shapes both foreign and domestic views of America (America is greedy and evil, and its own citizens hate it), and it warps our youth culture by assuring them that the most demeaning and debauched behavior is the surest way to popularity and success.

We can fight back, though.  Despite its chronic demonization of capitalism (the bad capitalism, of course, in the form of oil and manufacturing), the entertainment world is all about money.  We can vote with our feet.  Turn off shows or don’t pay for movies that offend your patriotism and your sense of values.  Also use social networking, such as twitter or facebook, to give your opinion of movies.  Just today, one of my facebook friends gave a succinct and very ugly review to Taking Woodstock, the latest Hollywood fairy-tale about the wonders of dirty hippies, mud, drugs and loud music.  His facebook friends may think twice about shelling out their hard-earned money on that movie.  We’ll never see Hollywood’s golden age again, but we don’t have to sit back silently and let the wife-beating, demagogue worshipping modern media have the last world.

The San Francisco Chronicle blindly passes along protest canards

The San Francisco Chronicle, although the major newspaper in the San Francisco Bay Area, is basically fish wrap.  Today’s front page story about the protests at town hall meetings, in just the first few paragraphs, reports as true proven lies:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent her chamber home for the summer recess with a list of talking points to respond to constituents’ questions about pending health care legislation.

But those traditionally sleepy town hall meetings have become rowdy shout-fests across the nation, including Northern California, with opponents hanging members in effigy and mocking them with Nazi and devil imagery in an effort to derail discussions of health care.  [As Kevin Ryland carefully documents, the charge of Nazi imagery, which originated with Nancy Pelosi, seems to be a Pelosi fantasy that is unsubstantiated by even the most fervently anti-conservative, pro-single payer medicine news sources and blogs.  This doesn't stop the Chron from repeating this vicious slander as the God's own truth.]

They’re organized in part by conservative think tanks like FreedomWorks, which offers tips on how to disrupt a meeting (“Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early,” says one) and helped in some cases by anti-tax “Tea Party” sympathizers.  [Here's another canard, and Mary Katharine Hamm completely debunks it.  There is no evidence for astroturfing here.  Even one second of decent research by someone who purportedly makes a living digging for the truth should have revealed that this is a lie from start to finish.  The reporter is simply regurgitating false Democratic party talking points and pretending they are news.]

The same “news” story repeats at length Pelosi’s charge that this is all “astroturfing.”  Interestingly, the reporter apparently made no effort to talk to conservatives to see what their view is about the concerned citizenry pouring into these townhall meetings.

To a hammer, everything is a nail (or, let’s talk racism)

Our world view determines how we process new data.  If your world view is bounded by race, every new bit of information is going to be run through that racial filter, and divided into “racist” or “non-racist” categories.  If you only have two intake bins, the information has to go into one of them.  For Obama and his supporters, with their two bins, the logical approach after new data is run through their narrow filter is to dump anything negative into the “racist” bin.

We’ve seen this happening for a while, and the S.F. Chron (which is one of those binary “everything is racist (or not)” hammers) has a very good article on the subject.  Not “good” because it’s objective and intelligent, but “good” because it is the perfect paradigm of the identity politics paranoia that permeates this campaign. I’ll just quote and fisk a few paragraphs to give you an idea of what I mean:

While Obama’s campaign has fended off racially rooted attacks since its inception [Absolutely no racist attacks have come from the Republican party or from McCain.  Instead, Obama has been fending off potential racist attacks that live only in his imagination.], analysts say the ones surfacing in the past few days have been more overt, arriving as many undecided voters are making their final decision. They are part of a recent stream of attacks on his background, including his religion and his connections to a former ’60s radical.  [I lived through the 60s.  Radicals came in all colors.  The only black ones were the Panthers.  The vast majority were, like Ayers and Dohrn, white.]

[snip]

Instead of using a grainy photo of a grizzled convict as Atwater did, the current attacks, analysts say, are embedded in “coded” language. They cite as examples Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin portraying Obama as a cultural outsider and friend to terrorists [Two factual words:  Arugula and Ayers.]  and the dismissive way his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, referred to Obama at their Tuesday night debate as “that one.”  [That wasn't about race, that Freudian slip was about Obama's delusions of Messiah-like grandeur, and a journalist who was not blinkered by the binary racism filter would have realized that.]

[snip]

Then there have been the speakers at McCain-Palin rallies who continue, unchecked by the candidates, to refer to “Barack Hussein Obama” – the emphasis on his middle name is an implication that Obama, who is a Christian, is Muslim. [I hate to say it, but Hussein is, in fact, his middle name.  Nobody got upset when we referred to William Jefferson Clinton.  When I'm mad at my children, I emphasize that fact by calling them by all three names.  It is a way of calling them out and making yourself heard.]  The latest occurred Wednesday in Pennsylvania, when Bill Platt, the Lehigh County Republican chairman, mentioned Obama’s former reluctance to wear an American flag lapel pin and said: “Think about how you’ll feel on Nov. 5 if you see the news that Barack Obama, Barack Hussein Obama, is president of the United States.”  [Yeah, let's call Obama out for being un-American.  Call him out, by all three names, to make sure he listens.]

‘Nuff said.  You get the point.

As for how we should respond, I think we should ignore them and do what we need.  A little anecdote might be useful here.

About thirty years ago, I got my hands on the autobiography of Maria von Trapp, she of Sound of Music fame.  While most of what I read in that book instantly went down my own personal memory hole, one anecdote stuck with me forever.  von Trapp described herself as something of a deliquent growing up.  Whether she was in a home or a school or an orphanage, I don’t recall, but it was a place that assumed that all children were doing bad things.  The policy therefore, was to beat the child daily on the assumption that, even if the caregiver hadn’t seen the naughty acts, the child had certainly engaged in such acts, making punishment appropriate.  Maria von Trapp drew the logical conclusion:  if she was going to be beaten regardless of whether she was good or bad, she might as well have the fun of being bad.

In this case, since the McCain campaign is damned if it does, and damned if it doesn’t — no matter what it says, it’s racist — it should stop trying to edit itself, and just say what needs to be said.  The one thing I’m absolutely certain of is that the McCain campaign does not now and never has had any intention of being racist in the traditional mode of saying that Obama is defective because of his race.  So, free yourself little McCain birdies and fly.  Whether you’re in the nest or in the sky, the media vultures will be watching.

(Oh, and if you really want classic racism, in the form of a statement that assumes that most blacks are inferior, with a few significant exceptions, check this one out.)

And I’ll remind you once more that I’m a racist and proud of it — so long as I, like the Democrats, get to define the term to suit my own purposes.

Laer also has thoughts about this “code” we’ve all suddenly learned how to speak and interpret.

Beating up thugs

The news story was the beating the Iranian thugs and terrorists took in Basra. But there was another type of thuggery going on, too, and Ralph Peters attacks it with a righteous zeal:

LIKE many Americans, I get angry at biased “reporting” about Iraq and the spin from dishonest pundits. Usually, I get over it quickly, since my expectations of the media are pretty low.But sometimes a Big Lie just won’t let go. And the lefty lie that the Iraqi military is a hopeless failure must be answered.

Yes, we all know that left-wing media outlets, such as the dying New York Times, need Iraq to fail to redeem their credibility. They’ll do all they can to dismiss any sign of progress.

But the perverted gloating over recent Iraqi military operations in Basra combines willful ignorance of military affairs with a shameless manipulation of the facts. Yes, some local Iraqi police and new military recruits ran away. But that was all that the media reported.

Where was the coverage of the 95 percent of the Iraqi security forces who did their duty? Some fought superbly. The Iranian-backed gangs and militias took a beating.

Muqtada al Sadr – not the central government – asked for a cease-fire. The Iraqi military remains in Basra, still pushing (and freeing the occasional kidnapped journalist). The government now has a presence where lawlessness prevailed – and it took control of Basra’s vital port facilities, the country’s economic lifeline.

But all we continue to hear about is the one Iraqi cop or soldier in 20 who ran away.

Read the rest here.

The more I know, the more I like

The MSM is going after McCain, but the fact is that, the more they dribble out details about the man, the more I admire what I learn.  Regardless of his sometimes flawed political instincts (that campaign financing thing, again), he is a very good human being, and an honorable one too.  We know the same can’t be said about Hillary (although I’ll always credit her for being a very good mother to Chelsea), and we’re learning that the same can’t be said about Obama (something Ann Coulter exploits to devastating effect).