Monkey Robb shared a recap of the ridiculously biased reactions of the local press in his glorious Arizona desert and that of a red-faced, spittle-spraying Chris Matthews. But even MSNBC's news coverage of this "phenomenon" is downright shameful. In the video below, MSNBC anchor Contessa Brewer does some voice-over for a video clip of a man with a rifle over his shoulder. We cut back to the studio, where she asks her colleagues to comment on the how: "Here you have a man of color in the presidency and white people showing up with guns…"
Trouble is, the man holding that rifle is not a white guy, but a "man of color" — a black guy to be precise.
It is clear that MSNBC doctored that video (it loops jarringly and is cropped close to the rifle and the white shirt) to advance the idea that dangerous white-supremacist militias are getting quite brazen in posing an armed threat to a president who is "a man of color." MSNBC purposely distorted that footage — in a news segment, not one of their prime-time liberal commentary shows — to advance a fictional racist storyline. Since this is the same network that showed footage of a black left-wing Larouche nutter holding an "Obama as Hitler" sign and passed it off as the work of the right, we should hardly be surprised. But it's still an outrage.
As Ed Morrissey writes at Hot Air:
MSNBC should fire everyone involved in this deception, in front of the camera and behind it. It has a decision to make as to whether it is a news and opinion channel, or a propaganda outlet for the Left. There is a difference, and this segment crossed it.
Any tiny shred of journalistic integrity left at MSNBC is long gone because, apparently, there will be no firings. Called on this blatant, vicious, and easily proved propaganda job, MSNBC is — as they say in journalism — sticking by their story:
"Contessa was speaking generally and not about that specific person with the automatic weapon."
Pathetic. So, I suppose it's the position of MSNBC that, "generally," the people who show up at rallies with guns — however unwise that may be — wish they could get away with shooting their political opponents, and even the president himself. I'm not saying that, Touré — the hippest-looking dude commenting in that MSNBC clip — predicts it.
This is the same network, mind you, that said nary a peep about these blatant displays by lefty protesters wishing violent death on the previous president. Though we're still waging wars in two theaters, it's not "Bush's War" anymore — so both the protesters and the MSM have put the tools of their trades in storage. Nothing more to see here, I guess.
MSNBC: "The place for
I'm telling you, man, F. Scott Fitzgerald didn't know what the hell he was talking about. Think of all the public humiliations, the tabloid exposés, the hasty resignations, the sob stories, jailhouse confessions and religious conversions, the book deals and Lifetime movies of the week. Think of the embarrassing affairs, the arrests, the courtroom dramas played out on television. Think of Richard Nixon!
Think of all those things... then wipe that schadenfreude off your face. Life "ruined"? No "second acts"? Nobody believes that anymore. Nobody could possibly believe that anymore. And to anyone who does, I offer this Mt. Everest of evidence, the first and last word on the possibility of redemption and the total extinction of any antiquated notion that one's public disgrace is insurmountable, unforgettable and unforgivable.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Jayson Blair, life coach.
It is obvious that the statist Dems in Congress and their allies have (finally) convinced the president to switch strategies — or, more to the point, lie. No government program ever conceived has become less than what it was at birth. That's why this whole project must be strangled in the crib.
The last two Democratic administrations felt, upon election, that they had a gale at their backs. They felt they had a mandate to impose, without compromise, government-run health care in America. Bill and Hillary Clinton thought so once — and they learned different. If the young Clinton administration's arrogance didn't consume its usually clever political acumen, we'd be half-way to Canada and Britain by now.
This "retreat" is nothing more than Obama realizing that you can't put the frog that is the American people into the already-boiling pot of water. You must dip us into the water first ... then slowly turn up the heat toward state-controlled health care. As Mark Steyn said so well weeks ago:
The president needs to get something passed. Anything. The details don’t matter. Once it’s in place, health-care “reform” can be re-reformed endlessly.
Any "reform" by the lights of the current Congress — in concert with Big Pharma, the AARP, and an insurance industry that cynically jumped in bed with Obama under the philosophy of feeding others to the alligator to save their skins — is taking us down the inevitable road to state-run health care.
Let there be no doubt where this MSNBC host stands. These demonstrators don't really care about deficits or taxes or constitutionally suspect government overreach. It's all about a black man in the White House.
And they say conservatives hold simplistic views about the world. Enjoy!
I posted this yesterday at The Heartland Institute's blog, and share it here because I suspect our regular readers would be interested. (I'd appreciate a click to the original post, as the additional hits would make me look good to my bosses).
The Heartland Institute promotes and defend free markets and individual liberty — and believes that these principles are essential to maintaining the freedom we take for granted on the Internet. But many of the pundits who specialize in technology issues, and blog about it, lean to the left. They are, in general:
Among the leaders in promoting this anti-market view is an organization called Free Press, which is not well known by the general public but familiar to tech watchers like me, the Federal Communications Commission and the Obama administration. I've been reluctant to characterize Free Press as a socialist outfit — though its criticism of my recent piece on the dangers of "net neutrality" certainly had some socialist characteristics. But as we see from this interview with Free Press founder Robert W. McChesney in The Bullet, a Marxist publication in Canada, I was being too cautious in withholding that dramatic moniker.
Though Free Press has co-opted the language of freedom — starting with its very name, its calls for a "free" and "open" Internet, its stated advocacy on behalf of "the public," etc. — it is no ally of American traditions of freedom and liberty. McChesney is an avowed socialist/Marxist. Through Free Press, he is promoting an agenda that would replace the free market system that has led to once-unimaginable advances in information technology — including freedom of communication — with a state-controlled system directed by government on behalf of "the people." In short: McChesney and Free Press see the Internet as the last, best realm to finally usher in the long-dreamed socialist utopia.
I wish I was exaggerating. This McChesney interview from August 9, 2009 with The Bullet's Tanner Mirrlees lays bare the agenda — and, more troubling, the Free Press founder's belief that the stars are finally aligned to bring about "revolution" on the Internet and elsewhere. Here starts Part 1 of several breaking down this remarkable interview. ... (click on "Read more" below the tiny icons beneath these words to continue, or CLICK HERE).
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - Small businesses that received $682 million in IOUs from the state say California expects them to pay taxes on the worthless scraps of paper, but refuses to accept its own IOUs to pay debts or taxes. The vendors' federal class action claims the state is trying to balance its budget on their backs.
Lead plaintiff Nancy Baird filled her contract with California to provide embroidered polo shirts to a youth camp run by the National Guard, but never was paid the $27,000 she was owed. She says California "paid" her with an IOU that two banks refused to accept - yet she had to pay California sales tax on the so-called "sale" of the uniforms.
Got that? Nancy Baird makes a bunch of custom polo shirts, packs them in boxes and sends them off to Sacramento — along with a bill for $27,000 (an amount almost certainly agreed-upon before she filled the order). Instead of getting paid cash, Nancy gets an IOU in the mail. Then, a short time later, the state says: "Hey, Nancy. You owe us 10 percent sales tax on the shirts you sold to us. What's that? We didn't actually pay you for them? No matter, you still owe us the tax. Oh, and we'll need cash — American cash, not those worthless Arnold Bucks we gave you. And if you have any ideas about getting cute with us, remember: You fail to pay your taxes in a timely manner upon penalty of prison."
I think those living as serfs in feudal England got a fairer shake from their masters. Lord Hossenfeffer may have dropped by every month to take a bushel of grain and the fattest swine. But even Hossenfeffer would not have pretended that he made four unicorns appear in the pen behind the serf's hovel and demand two goats back in tribute.
I'm usually no fan of class action lawsuits, but this one deserves to succeed
Yeah. I've plugged a lot of stuff in that headline. All of it ridiculous. But, I'm not the one being ridiculous. Nancy Pelosi is, by tarring an organic citizen revolt against socialized medicine and comparing it to the thuggishness of embryonic Nazi Germany.
C'mon. Where was Nancy's Hitlerian radar when her own San Francisco constituents were marching in the streets opposing the Iraq War with pictures and puppets of Bush in Nazi garb? Hers was like most of her ilk. It was disabled, because those wretched beasts were grotesquely agitating for a cause she believed in — namely, surrendering the people of Iraq to a terrorist regime.
This nonsense is especially rich coming from the establishment Democratic Party — which has moved so far left that it bows to the Kos Kids, eggs on the organized chicanery of ACORN, celebrates Mr. Radical Moneybags George Soros, and lionizes routine union thuggery as genuine "grass roots" activism.
I plan on attending the town hall shindig my "Blue Dog" congressman Adam Schiff is scheduled to hold on August 11. I don't even own a brown shirt. I'll likely wear a collared shirt of some kind. Probably blue. I have some well-informed questions for Schiff, but I'll be civil. And no one's paying me to be there, nor transporting me. But I'll be mad — madder than I was earlier this week before watching the Obamabots characterize genuine grass-roots activism as "astroturf," or worse, in Pelosi's eyes.
As hot as this nonsense gets me, I hope the Dems keep it up. This is no winning strategy.
Holy cow! Arlo Guthrie is a Republican!
Next time I'm down at Alice's Restaurant, I'll plan to have the home-made meatloaf. I understand it's actually a metaphor for capital gains tax cuts.
This clip is significant, since this reporter/anchor has been prominent in advancing the idea that Gates was wronged by Sgt. Crowley. There's so much to like in this clip, including a black, female colleague of "Jimmy" who praises him, says she'll not make the mistake of voting for Obama again, and gives her friend a kiss.
I've noticed lately when watching the Fox News Sunday roundtable that the director enjoys switching over to Brit Hume's reaction when Mara Liasson or Juan Williams is speaking. It makes for good political TV because Brit's reaction can usually be summed up in one word: dispeptic.
Hume starts off the discussion, noting that Obama finds it easy and natural to apologize for America's supposed sins on the international stage, but can't bring himself to apologize in this instance — when an apology would actually be warranted.
And while Mara is talking about how Obama wants this to be a "teachable moment," Brit interjects "teachable for whom?" Exactly.
This video is worth seven minutes of your time.
California's government has been hopelessly dysfunctional for years, but only within the past year or so has anyone spoken seriously about doing something about it -- namely, chucking the state constitution and starting over.
The idea of a state constitutional convention scares a lot of Californians, who worry that any new governing charter would open the door to all manner of shenanigans, from unlimited property taxes to gay marriage. (And Lord knows what else.)
The Claremont Institute's Tom Karako channels America's Founders in a tantalizing op-ed in Sunday's Los Angeles Times, which offers six essential (if slightly heretical) reforms for a new state constitution. They are:
1) Create a part-time Legislature: Just because Texas does it, doesn't mean it's bad. They would still be professionals, but they would necessarily spend more time in their districts. Besides, Karako notes, "A part-time Legislature does not mean a part-time government. The execution of laws is constant, but the making of those laws can be done in advance."
2) Reinstate a hard spending cap: The Gann Limit was a good thing undone by ballot-box budgeting (about which, more below). We should do it again.
3) Set up a two-year budgeting cycle: "The Legislature should be restricted to figuring out a budget one year, and only in the second year could it consider other legislation," Karako writes. Tough to disagree.
4) Eliminate the two-thirds supermajority requirement for budgets: Uh, oh. For conservatives who would cling to California's two-thirds requirement for passing a budget or raising taxes, these are fighting words. I've seen about 1,000 variations on the same comment: Without the two-thirds rule, California's high taxes would go even higher. Would they? Voters would have no recourse whatsoever? Elected officials could act their nefarious agendas unopposed and unchecked? Really?
You can look at the two-thirds problem in two ways. First, the minority party has a disproportionate (Nay! Unjust!) influence on the essential business of the Legislature. Second -- and this is key -- the two-thirds rule gives the majority party an excuse for acting irresponsibly and a scapegoat for failure. Eliminate the two-thirds rule and the Democrats have no excuses. They would bear the burden and the blame.
Or, as Karako puts it: "If voters want to give a clear majority of their representation to one party, let the majority prevail -- and let the people judge the consequences."
5) Unify the executive branch: "It is dysfunctional to have executive officers separately elected and in competition with one another, as are many executive officers in California," Karako writes. Californians elect a governor, a lieutenant governor, a treasurer, a controller, an attorney general -- but they're all wannabe chief executives. We shouldn't be electing people to the executive branch who work at cross purposes.
6) Repeal ballot-box budgeting: Which is a somewhat euphemistic way of saying, get rid of the initiative process. The initiative let Californians enact Prop. 13, which saved untold thousands of people from losing their homes to the taxman. But the initiative also enabled unions to push such abominations as Prop. 98, which helped put state spending on auto-pilot. The recent special election was a prime example of ballot-box budgeting, which voters rejected soundly.
The remedy: "Hand the task of budgets back to our elected representatives," Karako writes, "the ones we hired to make these hard decisions."
Many Californians, I suspect, would greet a constitutional convention with a great deal of pessimism, if not outright cynicism. Who, after all, would rewrite the state's charter if not many of the same scoundrels -- or their nameless, faceless, unaccountable staff and attendants -- who put the state into the ditch in the first place?
Maybe. Probably. But something's got to give. The reality is, any new constitution would be a compromise document. (So was the Constitution of 1787.) There would be winners and losers. Some special interests would angle for advantage, and would likely prevail in certain instances. It's possible, even likely, that a new constitution would include some bad stuff, such as a "right" to health care, abortion on demand, or "world-class" education. (Actually, that one's already in there.)
Well, that's politics, isn't it? You take the good, you take the bad. What we have now is almost all bad. It's unsustainable, and it's ruining the Golden State.
Update: Peter Schramm at No Left Turns observes: "(Karako's) major point is this: 'To the extent that California is ungovernable today, it is partly because its legislative and executive branches are too weak and dysfunctional to resist entrenched special interests and non-elected bureaucracies.' So you can’t fix the fiscal mess unless you re-write the constitution to make it more Madisonian."
Tonight on Fox's Special Report with Bret Baier, Charles Krauthammer cleverly summed up the essence of Barack Obama six months into his presidency: There seems to be a constant struggle between Obama's intelligence and his arrogance. And, as this horrible political week for Obama demonstrates, arrogance keeps winning.
Take the way Obama inserted himself into the arrest of Harvard Professor Henry Lewis "Skip" Gates Jr. The proper answer for Obama was to say he didn't know enough about the situation, so he'd take a pass. That would have been the intelligent thing to do. But Obama's arrogance got the better of him. Though Obama got the first part of the answer right, he fell into "let me tell you what I do know" mode ... when he didn't know anything. Obama presumed the truth was found in the narrative put forth by his friend — a professional public "intellectual" who, when it comes down to it, differs little from the professional race hustler Al Sharpton. Both Gates and Sharpton make their living by perpetuating a grievance culture in the black community.
Trouble was, in the Gates case, the idea that he was racially profiled by the police was laughable. There are many witnesses to this incident, and we'll see whose version of events proves true. Gates' lawyer, apparently, is positing the notion that his client was suffering from bronchitis and was incapable of shouting as the police claim. Hmmm. Gates sounded rather strong of voice on all those TV interviews he gave in the aftermath of his latest claim to fame. Anyway, I'll put my money down on the cops' version and give generous odds. Any takers? One buck gets you 20!
Back to the theme of this post, though. As Krauthammer said, an intelligent man — someone who possesses the deft political skills we are told Obama has in spades — would have dodged that last question in the press conference. For Pete's sake! Obama avoided answering just about every other question Wednesday night. He picks this one to answer? So why did Obama do it? And why did he tell Terry Moran in a Nightline piece that he didn't understand all the fuss? Because of Obama's out-sized self-regard. Because of his arrogance.
Obama's infamous Rev. Wright damage-control speech — the one where he characterized his grandmother as a "typical white person," and deflected attention from his preacher problem by lecturing us on the history of race relations in America — was praised by the media as the greatest oratory since Lincoln. That was nonsense, of course, but Obama believed his press clippings. So he thought: Why not take this opportunity to both stick up for my friend, and — as a bonus to the viewers out there! — give yet another lecture on the racism that is inherent in society, especially among our police forces?
Obama believes he cannot be questioned on matters of race. He believes that whatever he says on such matters is unassailable. The fact he still won't simply and directly apologize for so casually maligning Sgt. James Crowley and the Cambridge Police Department — and how he doesn't realize how damaging it is when the President of the United States throws in with the race hustlers — proves he still doesn't get it. Even one of Fox's house liberals, Juan Williams, noted tonight that Obama made a huge mistake because he sold himself as a man who would transcend race, a man who would be a racial healer. Yet, again, Obama throws in with the race hustlers by defending the juvenile histrionics of a Harvard professor with a chip on his shoulder whose instinct upon being approached by police is to act like Michael Palin in that famous scene from Monty Python' and the Holy Grail. (For the record: Those of us who didn't buy Obama's "that is not the Rev. Wright I know" shtick are not exactly surprised by this week's "gaffe" — classically defined as accidentally saying what you really think.)
Obama once said that he welcomes a national conversation on race in this country. But he doesn't really want a conversation. He wants to conduct lectures. Too bad. People are talking back now. And they are saying: Enough!
Enough with the perpetuation of the grievance culture. Enough with the exploitation of "white guilt" to the point that the national "conversation on race" ends when black leaders say so. I believe Americans should be outraged that a professor at America's most prestigious university is teaching generations of black kids in Harvard's black studies department that they must never let go of resentment about the country in which they were born — no matter what they have achieved in life (say, getting into a university that sets you up for life) or what they may achieve in the future. Judging from Gates' behavior both during the incident and afterward, he seems to believe that it is forever Selma, Alabama, 1965. That we have really made no significant progress when it comes to race relations in America. That is a lie — a vicious lie that is not only an insult to one's intelligence but an insult of America itself.
People are getting sick of this stuff. Juan Williams was actually sick of it before Obama was elected. Gates lives in a city with a black mayor and a black police chief. Sgt. Leon Lashley, a black officer who responded to the scene shortly after the incident began, backs up what Crowley did "100 percent." And, of course, Gates lives in a country with a black president, one he knows so well that he can call him "Barack."
When, at long last, will the erroneous and poisonous assumption that America — in the 21st century — is still insidiously and institutionally configured to destroy the ambitions of black people going to be corrected? When our black president has the courage to stand up to the race hustlers in his midst, and not have such arrogance that he'd instead stand with them. I'm afraid we're going to have to wait for the next one.
Without going back and looking at the transcript, it's safe to say that Obama's press conference tonight was a disaster, at least from the standpoint of what he wanted to get from it.
Obama scheduled this presser last week, sensing (rightly) he needed to convince the public he knows what he's doing and they should trust him to shepherd a complete overhaul of America's health care system RIGHT NOW!!!! On that score the presser was a failure, a disaster. And I couldn't be happier (and not just because of the red pill/blue pill Matrix gaffe).
It is clear that Obama is running out of tricks. Not that the questions were particularly tough (though some were), but the MSM is not falling for the Jedi Mind Tricks anymore. He's been in office for six months. He has a 38-seat majority in the House and a filibuster-proof Senate. It is clearly his government now. For him to blame Republicans for the failure for his health care plan to gain traction — just days after he and his spokeshole call out Jim DeMint — was embarrassing. I almost felt sorry for him. Obama's problem is that Democrats don't want to be on the hook for this horrible plan and face voters in two (or four) years. This impending and glorious political failure is not the doing of Republicans — though they are doing a good job opposing it in the only way they can, rhetorically. And Obama just made the job easier tonight.
All of Obama's answers were rambling. I presume Obama likes to ramble because he has such confidence in his rhetorical abilities that he figured the longer he talked, the more effective he'd be. The opposite was the case. Obama is actually a quite poor orator when he's not reading his trusty teleprompter. That's why one of the take-aways from this presser was Obama suggesting doctors schedule tonsillectomies when patients come into the office with simple sore throats to pad their bank accounts. And another being how people shouldn't have to pay for things that don't make them healthier. (As Mary Katherine Ham quipped on Twitter: "Where is my Quarter Pounder w Cheese refund, yo?" Speaking for myself, I could retire right now on Quarter Pounder refunds.) Obama revealed himself as a man who has no idea how the America's health care system (or the world) really works — yet he has supreme confidence in his ability to micromanage it.
Obama's world is full of people who aren't doing things the right way. Doctors give an old lady a hip replacement when all she really needs are painkillers. Families with SUVs don't really need them, but should take public transit, or cram their kids into a more expensive and smaller hybrid car. It's just not right that bankers, as Obama said tonight, collect "unwarranted compensation." That's a phrase, coming from the head of an ever-more bold and powerful government, that sent a chill down this spine — and strikes me as un-American. Only in my dreams, the American Dream, do I aspire to Obama's brand of "unwarranted compensation." And he's had more than his share.
We're supposed to forget that our moralistic, scolding president was made a millionaire for his navel-gazing autobiographies. That he signed a contract — just under the wire as it comes to taxes — for what a cynic like him might decry as "unwarranted compensation" for a children's book version of "Dreams From My Father" that he will have ghost-edited while in office. That Mrs. Obama gained what the president might call "unwarranted compensation" sitting on the board of a Chicago hospital. (Michelle got quite the raise once Obama's political career took off. What a coincidence!)
Well, I guess the Obama family got theirs. Let's forget all that in the name of economic justice and screw everyone else.
Am I just being negative because I'm a registered Republican? Am I just being unreasonable in opposing Obama's plans — especially when it comes to health care? Is it unfair for me to question the wisdom of Obama when he says the greatest health care system in the world has to be turned over to state control RIGHT NOW!!!! Perhaps. But that puts me in the company of esteemed Democratic strategist Susan Estrich:
We're only talking about our health and our kids' health, the things my mother, may she rest in peace, told me a thousand times are the only things worth caring about. If you have your health, you have everything. And if you don't, what in the world matters more than the best health care in the world, which is found right here?
Not by everybody, mind you, and not cheaply, for anybody. No one's suggesting for a moment that there aren't major problems with both access and cost. But the best health care in the world is still here, and before we take steps that could make things much worse, I'd like to be very certain that they will indeed make things much better.
Obama did nothing tonight to make the Congress or the public believe that his plan will make things much better. That Obama's powers of persuasion are waning is a great thing for America.
Sadly, this is probably the only way California's Democrats will listen to reason and cut the budget.
Here's David Warren, writing on the liberal media, Sarah Palin, and the great Red-Blue divide:
We are going to have a war, next door in the U.S.A. -- a war between two world views that have become very nearly mutually incomprehensible. One might almost say that it was quietly declared on the op-ed of the Washington Post Tuesday.
We've been talking about a "culture war" for more than 30 years now. Warren is suggesting something more, which I imagine will not play out in the pages of newspapers or in snarky blog posts between, say, the Daily Kos and National Review Online. I hope he's wrong. I suspect he probably is. The vast majority of Americans are indifferent to politics, after all.
But, then again, the vast majority of Americans didn't fight in the Revolutionary War, either.
Wow! Why didn't anyone think of this, oh, 30 years ago?
A former UCLA chancellor asked the California Supreme Court today to declare that the state constitution's requirement of two-thirds legislative votes to raise taxes is invalid.
The suit was filed by Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP on behalf of Charles Young, former chancellor of the University of California, Los Angeles, and director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. The suit described Young as "a citizen, taxpayer, and voter of the State of California, interested in seeing that the California government carries out its public duty consistent with constitutional mandates..."
The legal theory of the suit, which names the Legislature's chief clerks as the technical defendants, is that when voters passed Proposition 13 in 1978, cutting property taxes and requiring a two-thirds vote for tax increases, it was a "revision" of the state constitution rather than an "amendment."
For years, pols and pundits have complained how the state constitution's two-thirds requirement stymies the Legislature and leads to the sort of political deadlocks we've seen in Sacramento for the past few years. Oh, if only we could get rid of that two-thirds rule, they lament. Then all would be well. (A variation on this is: We would have gotten away with unlimited spending, too, if it hadn't been for that meddling Prop. 13!)
Well, it's a testiment to the lack of imagination and guts among the political classes in the state capitol that nobody thought of suing.
Oh, sure, there have been many, many lawsuits challenging Prop. 13. The state supreme court validated the 1978 ballot initiative shortly after it passed, and the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed it in 1992. But, hey, that was 30 years ago and people have probably forgotten what the courts said, anyway. Not like those rulings are published in books or anything.
Charles Young is some kind of amazing genius. I can't wait to see how this lawsuit plays out.
John Mellencamp is all about speaking truth to power when a mean old economic royalist occupies the White House. But as Pam Meister at Big Hollywood observes, put his guy in charge and all of a sudden he turns into a Herbert Marcuse acolyte.
Here's Mellencamp in an interview with Country Music Television on the First Amendment-as-collective right:
"I don’t think people fought and gave their lives so that some guy can sit in his bedroom and be mean. I don’t think that’s what freedom of speech is,” he continued. “Freedom of speech is really about assembly — for us to collectively have an idea. We want to get our point of view out so we can assemble and I can appoint you to be the spokesman. That’s freedom of speech — to be able to collectively speak for a sector of people. But somehow it’s turned into ‘I can be an a****** whenever I feel like, say whatever I like, be disrespectful to people and not be courteous.’ It’s not good for our society. Not being courteous is not really freedom of speech. . . .
There is a lot of discourteous speech out there, no question about it. (As an aside, but sort of on point: As much as I love the reader comments on newspaper sites, I wonder if the Wall Street Journal's recent decision to open its Web pages to reader comments will hurt the brand in some way over the long term. Look upon the comments to Peggy Noonan's column and despair.)
John Mellencamp is, of course, is free to say the stupidest things about what freedom of speech should or should not be. What I find funny is the presumptuousness of it all. Mellencamp clearly considers himself one of those appointed spokesmen. Oh, I suppose he speaks for a certain segment of the population with a certain point of view. But, like Professor Marcuse, he seems to have little or no regard for people speaking for what he would consider the repressive "status quo."
(In the Salon story I linked to above, he says: " most people who are Republicans, they're not rich enough to be Republicans! I don't get it." No, he doesn't.)
Freedom is simply too messy... too inequitable. For Mellencamp, in a perverse way it's pink houses for me but not for thee. Well, he can keep his pink house and his goofy, collective ideal of freedom. That ain't my America.
Update: Julie Ponzi at NoLeftTurns expounds cleverly on my comments. Key paragraph:
In Mellencamp’s America, the "home of the free" with its little pink houses would be for a freedom of speech that is more a kind of General Will voiced by the anointed tongues of a select group of American royalty. Jack and Diane needn’t trouble their little heads with worrying about the big questions. They can busy themselves with Diane’s Bobbie Brooks slacks till it "hurts so good," make a public spectacle of themselves while they’re at it, call THAT freedom of speech, and content themselves with their imagined moral courage. But if they dare to voice vigorous opposition to something like Cap and Trade and, in the course of that expression, utter an ungracious opinion about the anointed--an opinion that according to Mellencamp qualifies Jack and Diane as "a-holes" THAT will be too much because, "[n]ot being courteous is not really freedom of speech" according to the scholars at the Mellencamp School of the First Amendment.
Julie also makes some thoughtful points about civility in the public discourse. Please read the whole thing.
One of the more infamous photos, and unexpected controversies, of the 2008 presidential campaign surrounded Barack Obama's refusal to hold his hand over his heart for America's National Anthem.
As I remember, the Obama campaign shrugged off the idea that people might be offended by that. The pooh-poohing, I believe, followed the statement by Obama that wearing an American Flag lapel pin as akin to mindless jingoism, a substitute for "real patriotism" — before, of course, he reversed himself, and decided to wear one after all. It's hard to keep track of such things — let alone fathom the idea that a candidate for president had weaker patriotic instincts and simple decorum than your average 12-year-old Boy Scout or attendee of a baseball game.
Anyway, I'm happy to report that on his trip to Russia, Obama was finally moved to place his hand over his heart during the playing of the National Anthem ... Russia's that is.
What this says about the instincts of our global-centric president, I'll leave the readers to gauge.
(HT: American Thinker)
I was quite upset when I heard the news that the press wouldn't have Sarah Palin to kick around anymore — raging, essentially, that "the bastards finally did it." They drove a good person out of politics. Joel can attest to the heat of my anger, as we had a passionate back and forth about it on Facebook.
I've since cooled considerably, especially after hearing Palin's rather limp and contradictory exit presser on the Friday of Independence Day weekend. Though Palin rightly listed her many accomplishments in just two years as governor of Alaska, she said "serving her people is the greatest honor I could imagine," yet quits before her term is up. After rightly noting that a lot of her energy has been spent fighting off entirely frivolous "ethics" lawsuits — not to mention the half-million dollars she has to raise to pay off legal bills after going a perfect 15 for 15 in the ethics complaints — Palin said:
Life is too short to compromise time and resources... it may be tempting and more comfortable to just keep your head down, plod along, and appease those who demand: "Sit down and shut up", but that's the worthless, easy path; that's a quitter's way out.
I can understand that one may believe that life is too short, especially when raising a family, to fight off the fleas trying to bite you to death with a thousand bites. And I applaud her defiance in saying that she will not "sit down and shut up." But when one is quitting the governorship of Alaska ... that's not the best time to talk about "a quitter's way out."
And here was the most troubling and puzzling of passages — and the hardest for this Palin supporter to defend:
And so as I thought about this announcement that I wouldn't run for re-election and what it means for Alaska, I thought about how much fun some governors have as lame ducks... travel around the state, to the Lower 48 (maybe), overseas on international trade - as so many politicians do. And then I thought - that's what's wrong - many just accept that lame duck status, hit the road, draw the paycheck, and "milk it". I'm not putting Alaska through that - I promised efficiencies and effectiveness! ? That's not how I am wired. I am not wired to operate under the same old "politics as usual." I promised that four years ago - and I meant it.
It's not what is best for Alaska.
Here's a thought. Assuming Palin would have won a re-election bid in 2010, what's to stop her from choosing to pass up the "fun" of trips to the Lower 48 and overseas junkets dressed up as promoting international trade for Alaska? Palin speaks as if was she re-elected, she'd have no choice but to "milk it." That's absurd. It reveals that Palin's speech was not crafted by a professional political hack, but was a first-and-only draft — written by her with a lot of ad-libs, including the lame rhetorical crutch of "politics as usual."
But, she is kind of right on that last point. "Politics as usual" in today's America would mean Palin toughing it out — doing whatever it takes to cling to power. Palin left a lot of mystery as to what her future plans are. Run against Lisa Murkowski for senate in 2010, thus slaying the Murkowski dynasty for good? Running for president in 2012 or 2016 or even 2020 when she will be younger than Hillary when she thought she'd extend the Clinton dynasty to the White House? So if Palin's planning a bigger political future, she's going to travel an unconventional road to get there.
All that said, however, I titled this post "Sarah Palin and the price of politics" for a reason. No politician has paid so dear a price (and so quickly) for daring to step onto the national stage as Sarah Palin has. I'm sure, at times (and in due time) she'll look back at the way she was treated by the press and the popular culture as a badge of honor — though that is a meager booby prize when considering how her family was treated. But, more likely, considering her abrupt exit, she's thinking along the lines of what Ross Douthat wrote in The New York Times yesterday as his lead sentence: She should have said no:
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Out of respect for the recent demise of Michael Jackson, Robert McNamara and Sarah Palin's political career, I'm going to put my blogging on hold indefinitely. I firmly believe that the American people will emerge stronger from the loss of these eminent public figures. But for the time being, I believe that a retreat into solemn reflection, contemplation and prayer is the best way to move forward.
As The Inquisitr story notes, Danah Boyd, a social media researcher for Microsoft and fellow of the Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet and Society, recently delivered the keynote speech during New York’s Democracy forum at Lincoln Center. Boyd said she was disturbed by the possible reasons for mass abandonment of MySpace for the "more cultured" and "less cheesy" social networking site Facebook. The phenomenon apparently exposes a form of digital racism for which America should feel shame.
"We might as well face an uncomfortable reality … what happened was modern day ‘white flight’," Boyd said. "The fact that digital migration is revealing the same social patterns as urban white flight should send warning signals to all of us. It should scare the hell out of us."
Boyd, from the looks of her resume, is the embodiment of the over-educated elite who consider themselves our "cultural betters." Only they have the insight and courage to filter seemingly innocuous social trends through the left's race and class prism and reveal the real truth. That's why she's "scared," and must sound the alarm by referring to MySpace as the "ghetto of the digital landscape."
She said her research has found that MySpace users are more likely to be "brown or black" and espouse a different set of ideals in conflict with those espoused by the teens she surveyed over four years. She said that patterns in migration across social networking sites echoed those of a white exodus from cities in the past.
Ok. Let's play along. Perhaps it's true that a higher percentage of MySpace devotees are more likely to be "brown or black" than Facebook users. Is this proof that a white user is revealing his or her racism by leaving it in favor of Facebook? It is, I suppose, if one confuses correlation with causation — something a serious researcher takes great pains to avoid — and is careful to never venture far from the echo chamber of the academic elite.
Aside from that, Boyd's invocation of "white flight" is beyond absurd. Unlike the "white flight" to the suburbs of decades ago — where poor inner-city "browns and blacks" did not have the economic power to join the exodus to a more comfortable living environment and better public schools — there is no barrier at all to those "left behind" in the "digital ghetto" of MySpace. Migrating to Facebook takes about 30 seconds of computer time. That's one of the great things about the Internet age: It breaks down, rather than erects, racial and socioeconomic barriers. The question to ask is why "browns and blacks" remain at MySpace instead of joining the Facebook community. Voluntary self-segregation, perhaps?
At any rate, MySpace is being abandoned because it's annoying — most pages I'd visit would automatically start playing the host's favorite and obnoxious music, and often quite loudly; many pages are photo-heavy with crazy backgrounds that are hard on the eye and make it difficult to consume; and it is also less intuitive than Facebook. It should also be noted that even Facebook is becoming a victim of its own success, becoming increasingly clunky and annoying to many users (like me) who are now utilizing Twitter as a more streamlined way to socially interact on the Web.
MySpace was, and remains, primarily a social network for teens. MySpace is in the "digital ghetto" only in the sense that its own institutional inertia has resulted in it being lapped by a superior service. To suggest that it is racist for one to leave it behind for better, more mature alternatives is not only silly, but insulting.
But if Microsoft wants to put such a fool on its payroll and Harvard wants to keep subsidizing such "research," that's their business. Who am I to get in the way of them eroding their credibility?
Joel and I spoke with John Temple, the former editor and publisher of the Rocky Mountain News and the man who hired us to moderate RedBlueAmerica.com, about the future of the news media. Temple, who has turned to blogging with gusto, recently wrote a provocative 10-part series on what he would do to revive newspapers' flagging fortunes.
Temple is as provocative in the interview as he is on the blog. "If you're not adding value you shouldn't do it in print," he told us. "Because there's no way you're going to be reporting the news in print, unless you're the one making the news." Among the other questions we tackle in this edition:
• Is it enough for newspapers to merely be newspapers?
• What shouldn't local newspapers be covering?
• Is the crisis that's affecting media organizations merely the result of dumb business decisions?
• What did the glorious failure of RedBlueAmerica teach us?
Music heard in this podcast:
• Excerpts from Ferde Grofe's "Tabloid Suite," including "Run of the News," "Going to Press," and "Sob Sister."
The Stoning of Soraya M. is a "Schindler's List" for a new generation — a film that starkly exposes the brutality of a regime that is almost impossible for the modern Western mind to comprehend, but is true nonetheless. It won't be seen as that, I fear, by the elites in modern American culture.
If you read my review — which is more of a commentary on the larger issues the film raises than a critique — you'll see that my fears have largely been validated. I have some real problems with Roger Ebert's morally vapid review. Anyway, more excerpts:
If The Stoning of Soraya M. has one enduring message, it is that Iran under Sharia Law is as savage, brutal and unfree as any society in modern memory. And the fact that this is happening to women (and men) in Iran, even today, should be an international shame. These atrocities have to end. And it is perhaps divine providence that this film debuts in the same month that young Iranians are taking to the streets and enduring the bullets of their oppressors to topple their barbaric regime. ...
This movie is the most profoundly feminist film I've ever seen. Iranian-born actress Shohreh Aghdashloo, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her work in The House of Sand and Fog and gave an unforgettable turn in Season 4 of 24, should be nominated again for her performance in this film. The moral center of the film — expressing the shock, fear, outrage and heartbreak of the audience — she landed and delivered the performance of a lifetime for an actress. (She has also been an activist for women in Iran and defeating the Islamofascist regime, having escaped the country during the revolution).
Kindly read the whole thing, and feel free to leave comments both at The American Culture and here at Infinite Monkeys. Reading what Monkey friend Christian Toto has to say about this film is also highly recommended.
Steve Hayward, whose second volume of his political history of the Reagan era hits bookstores in August, makes a point in passing in a post about this Newsweek essay that ought to be tattooed on the right forearms of every would-be conservative in the country: "American conservatism has always been a different animal than European conservatism." (Hayward's emphasis.)
Why is that important? Because it goes to the heart of what it is, exactly, that conservatives are trying to conserve. Hayward quotes approvingly from Patrick Allitt's new book, The Conservatives: Ideas and Personalities Throughout American History, to underscore the idea: "American conservatism has always had a paradoxical element, entailing a defense of a revolutionary achievement.” Once you wrap your mind around that, you should feel that guilt about neglecting your Burke begin to dissipate and Russell Kirk suddenly sounds less authoritative than he once did. From there, all sorts of possibilities should begin to open in your mind.
So says Ross Douthat. He's right about the monkeys. We matter plenty -- even if a dozen people know it. He's only partly right about Mark Helprin's new manifesto, though. Which part? Well, read the review and draw your own conclusions. (The link is to the Kindle edition of the book, by the way.)