The paranoia in this post by Gary Graham at Big Hollywood is epic. The subject is the new HBO series Veep, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Can anyone guess what Graham’s complaint is? Correct, the show is mean to Sarah Palin:
I tuned in to HBO’s new comedy “Veep” and saw Julia Louis Dreyfus dressed up as . . . Tina Fey dressed up as . . . Sarah Palin.
So after suffering through “Veep” I’m yet even more mystified than before by the Left’s obsession with Palin. The only conclusion I can come up with is this: They are so terrified of a Palin candidacy, for anything that they just can’t let go.
Nevermind that Palin is not running for anything; what’s salient is merely the spectre that she may, at some point in the future, throw her hat back into the political ring.
This is absurd. HBO uploaded the first episode to YouTube so you can judge for yourself, but the main character is nothing like Palin. The writers could have given Vice President Selina Meyer any number of traits to make her like Sarah Palin. The could have made her an Evangelical Christian, given her a large family and a funny accent; but they didn’t. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, like Palin, is an attractive woman of a certain age with dark hair, but they don’t look alike. Since the fictional Veep’s big issues are green jobs and an attempt to replace plastic utensils with ones made of corn starch, she sounds like a Democrat; though her party is never named.
I read the Victor Haug commentary from The Washington Times that Jordan Bloom noted on Thursday and found it to be problematic from the beginning, where Haug states that, “while the Internet has changed much about music, one thing that hasn’t changed is its popularity and cultural impact. According to a study conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2009 the average American youth listened to music for two-and-a-half hours per day.” I’d like to see a definition of “youth” as well as “listened.” I assume that since so many young (and not so young, for that matter) people have iPods and smart phones giving them continuous access to their songs, much of that two-and-a-half hours of music is in the background.
By the second paragraph, Haug loses me completely. He states that he “conducted research on popular music over the last 65 years, counting the swear words and references to drugs, violence and sex in the top 10 songs of every year since 1946.” Now why would anybody want to do that? I could barely stand to listen to, or read the lyrics of the top ten songs for any one year much less the last six decades. I don’t doubt that pop music is more coarse today than in the 1940s, although Bloom correctly observes that suggestive lyrics aren’t a new phenomenon. Haug, however doesn’t offer a reason why this is the case.
I think that one reason why the culture has become more coarse is that the authority of the institutions regulating this sort of behavior collapsed. In the 1930s a Roman Catholic organization called the Legion of Decency arose to combat immorality in the movies. Thomas Doherty wrote about the phenomenon in the book ,Hollywood’s Censor,which was excerpted in Reason a few years ago.
The Legion was as good as its word, and it put its word into writing with a brilliant tactical device, the Legion pledge. A prayer-like pact, the Legion pledge was a contractual avowal signed by parishioners and recited in unison at Sunday masses, Knights of Columbus meetings, Ladies Sodalities gatherings, and parochial school assemblies. “I condemn absolutely those debauching motion pictures which, with other degrading agencies, are corrupting public morals and promoting a sex mania in our land,” affirmed the pledger. “Considering these evils, I hereby promise to remain away from all motion pictures except those which do not offend decency and Christian morality.”
The campaign worked for a time and the movie industry appointed Joseph Breen to enforce a production code. I can’t see the Church or any other institution succeeding with such an effort today. Back in the 1980s, Tipper Gore, the wife of Al, became an object of derision because of a fruitless campaign against raunchy lyrics.
Of course, one may ask why institutions have little authority anymore and that’s a question too complex to be addressed in a blog post, but I can offer a partial explanation via a quote from Walker Percy , printed in his posthumous essay collection, Signposts in a Strange Land:
To state the matter as plainly as possible, I would echo a writer like Guardini who says simply that the modern world has ended, the world, the world, that is, of the past two or three hundred years, which we think of as having been informed by the optimism of the scientific revolution, rational humanism, and that Western cultural entity which until this century it has been more or less accurate to describe as Christendom. I am not telling you anything you don’t already know when I say that the optimism of this age began to crumble with the onset of the catastrophes of the twentieth century. If one had to set a date of the beginning of the end of the modern world, 1914 would be as good as any. . .
“Smitty,” the Other McCain’s other blogger seems to be a bit confused about the charges against George Zimmerman:
If the Left had facts, they’d pound the facts. If they had law, they’d pound the law. Having neither, they’re setting up to pound the courts.
. . .The judge is going to apply reason, and reject this, and the Left is going to cry foul. . .
The Left will blame the courts, and try to use this as a rallying point to whip up the troops about these ‘activist’ judges who are denying ‘justice’ to Trayvon. What a despicable, evil act that will be, if it unfolds that way. I’d like to be wrong, but the patter of the last three years is nothing if not consistent in its diabolical, omnidirectional attack on all we hold dear.
The interesting question, after all this, will be George Zimmerman’s take. He’s being crucified on the false cross of the Left’s quest for power. Does he break, and blame himself, or does he realize what a sick, Satanic scam the Left is running?
So allow me to clarify for him. Zimmerman isn’t charged with “raaaaacism” and he isn’t charged with Crimes Against Obama. He’s charged with second degree murder because he shot and killed somebody. As it turns out, Bill Ayers isn’t the governor of Florida and Saul Alinsky isn’t the prosecutor—Florida’s Republican Governor, Rick Scott appointed Angela Corey to investigate the case.
From the available evidence, the conservative movement these days is little more than a tribe and the important issue in any public dispute is who is Us and who is Them. Smitty and his fellow rightwingers seem to have decided that George Zimmerman is one of Us.
UPDATE: Smitty replies and denies seeing Zimmerman as one of “Us” but he can’t discuss the case without reference to a series of “Them.” My favorite comment compares me to my least favorite magazine editor. “I see that Stooksbury’s Rich Lowry Dress Up Kit arrived in the mail.”
As much as I hate to admit it, Ben Shapiro has a point with his list of overrated songs although his fogyish pose is tiresome. It even reminds me a bit of something I wrote a few years ago. He’s correct that songs like “My Generation” by The Who, and “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zeppelin are overrated even if he errs by not demonstrating how highly rated they are in the first place. And I agree that John Lennon’s “Imagine” isn’t only overrated, it’s terrible. Of course, for Shapiro, the worst part is Lennon’s Liberal Bias. “This could be the Barack Obama campaign song – but it would express too clearly what the redistributionist left wants for the world: no borders, no God, no meaning, no values, and no wealth. And it’s being penned and sung by one of the richest people on the planet.”
He’s on shakier ground discussing Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” The post I linked to above was prompted Rolling Stone magazine’s faux authoritative list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time that has “Like a Rolling Stone” in first place. I would rate any number of Dylan songs (“Tangled Up In Blue,” “Gotta Serve Somebody”) as better, even if “Stone” is, um, a milestone.
Shapiro clearly doesn’t just think ”Like a Rolling Stone” is overrated, he hates it: “The song itself makes no sense. What is a ‘mystery tramp’? Why should you ‘turn around to see the frowns on the jugglers and the clowns’? Are they sad clowns? What does a ‘Siamese cat, have to do with anything? And then he articulates these nonsensical lyrics as though he has no front teeth.”
He can’t handle the fact that a lot of Dylan’s best songs don’t make much sense and in Breitbartworld everything is reducible to politics. “I’m sorry, but screaming “How does it feel?” with an organ in the background is not great music. That’s Jeremiah Wright on an off-day.” Now, how exactly did we get on to Reverend Wright?
One theme that he comes back to on more than one occasion is his struggle to avoid becoming a guru or generational spokesman, such as when he was awarded a honorary degree from Princeton: “When my turn came to accept the degree, the speaker introducing me said something like how I distinguished myself in carminibus canendi and that I now would enjoy all the university’s individual rights and privileges whereever they pertain, but then he added, ‘Though he is known to millions, he shuns publicity and organizations preferring the solidarity of his family and isolation from the world, and though he is approaching the perilous age of thirty, he remains the authentic expression of the disturbed and concerned conscience of Young America.’ Oh Sweet Jesus! It was like a jolt. I shuddered and trembled but remained expressionless. The disturbed conscience of Young America!”
The Jay Cost post from The Weekly Standard that Rod links to argues, as the title indicates, that “liberals” were “surprised by the Supreme Court,” and many perhaps were. In the body of the post, he noted Bob Shrum’s delusions about John Kerry’s prospects in 2004 and says, “I imagine a lot of liberals felt a similar letdown reading the transcript of Tuesday’s arguments on Obamacare.” He later states, that “the Court might very well uphold the law, but it will not nearly be the slamdunk that almost all liberals thought it would be.”
I am confused as to why Cost is only imagining the letdown that liberals felt instead of, you know, checking with some actual liberal commentators and blogs. They aren’t that hard to find. And I would like to see a source for the claim that “almost all liberals” thought that a win in the Supreme Court would be a “slam dunk”
With a minimal effort I found a post from John Cole stating “I’m really completely uninterested in the actual arguments being made in the ACA case before SCOTUS. It just doesn’t matter what the law is, as these guys have proven time and again that they’ll do whatever they want.” Here’s Paul Krugman stating that, “while most legal experts seem to think that the case for striking the law down is very weak, these days everything is political.” Another liberal blogger I found wrote that “only one thing is relevant to this case for the Court’s Wingnut Four: the needs of movement conservatism.”
It doesn’t sound like these guys thought that Obamacare would be a “slam dunk” in the Supreme Court, but it is possible the three that I quote are unrepresentative of liberal opinion. However, it takes only a minimal effort to find weak spots in Cost’s argument.
Cost also makes the following observation:
The problem for the left is that they do not have a lot of interaction with conservatives, whose intellects are often disparaged, ideas are openly mocked, and intentions regularly questioned. Conservative ideas rarely make it onto the pages of most middle- and high-brow publications of news and opinion the left frequents. So, liberals regularly find themselves surprised when their ideas face pushback.
It would seem that Cost is the one enclosed in a bubble.
Geraldo Rivera reached a new low when he blamed the hoodie for the killing of Trayvon Martin, and he has now apologized for saying so. But the race to the bottom is never ending and to prove it today Rush Limbaugh and Dan Riehl and a blog called “Jammie Wearing Fools” plunged even lower by noting that the Obama campaign is cashing in on Martin’s death by selling (or “pimping” as JWF put it) hoodies. JWF has a garbled link (ungarbled here) to the Obama 2012 twitter page noting the hoodie. But the page also has a tweet hawking t-shirts for kids today and I imagine promoting Obama 2012 merchandise is a regular feature.
The Obama reelect campaign — Obama 2012 — is now selling hoodies that say, “Obama 2012″ on them. The Barack Obama reelection effort is exploiting the death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, in order (obviously, here) to secure votes (as though he needs them) from African-Americans. Hoodies, 2012!
I can’t think of a more appropriate response than to say that these people are being incredibly stupid. The Obama 2012 store sells lots of items. And with a little help from something called a “search engine” I discovered that the Ron Paul store also sells a hoodie. If that isn’t shocking enough, the Romney campaign also has a “Believe in America” hoodie for sale.
George Zimmerman’s shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida on February 26 is gaining national attention; and for good reason. Adam Weinstein has a primer of events and recordings of several calls to placed to 911, including Zimmerman’s. Here is a clip from Zimmerman’s call (full transcript):
Dispatcher: Yeah we’ve got someone on the way, just let me know if this guy does anything else. Zimmerman: Okay. These assholes they always get away. When you come to the clubhouse you come straight in and make a left. Actually you would go past the clubhouse. Dispatcher: So it’s on the lefthand side from the clubhouse? Zimmerman: No you go in straight through the entrance and then you make a left…uh you go straight in, don’t turn, and make a left. Shit he’s running. Dispatcher: He’s running? Which way is he running? Zimmerman: Down towards the other entrance to the neighborhood. Dispatcher: Which entrance is that that he’s heading towards? Zimmerman: The back entrance…fucking [unintelligible] Dispatcher: Are you following him? Zimmerman: Yeah Dispatcher: Ok, we don’t need you to do that. (emphasis added)
Zimmerman appears excessively suspicious and he never gave the dispatcher a solid example of wrongdoing by Martin to warrant suspicion. The Sanford Police appear to have accepted Zimmerman’s version of the event uncritically:
“Mr. Zimmerman’s claim is that the confrontation was initiated by Trayvon,” Police Chief Bill Lee said in an interview. “I am not going into specifics of what led to the violent physical encounter witnessed by residents. All the physical evidence and testimony we have independent of what Mr. Zimmerman provides corroborates this claim to self-defense.”
To claim self-defense, someone has to show there was danger of great bodily harm or death, Lee said. “Zimmerman had injuries consistent with his story,” Lee said.
Zimmerman had a damp shirt, grass stains, a bloody nose and was bleeding from a wound in back of his head, according to police reports.
“If someone asks you, ‘Hey do you live here?’ is it OK for you to jump on them and beat the crap out of somebody?” Lee said. “It’s not.”
The police chief supports the claim that Martin initiated the confrontation even though Zimmerman indicated to the 911 dispatcher that he was pursuing the unarmed teen. There is some evidence of an altercation before the shooting, but Martin had as much right to defend himself as Zimmerman and he had a very good reason to fear the man who shot him.
Leave aside the racial angle for a moment—Trayvon Martin was black—the state of the law in Florida is seriously distorted. Not only is there no duty to retreat in a public place before shooting someone; if this case is typical, Armed Floridians can start the trouble and still get away with murder. Emily Bazelton at Slate quotes a Florida prosecutor saying (before this shooting occurred) “The ultimate intent might be good, but in practice, people take the opportunity to shoot first and say later they had a justification. It almost gives them a free pass to shoot.” It would appear that he is correct, although the Federal Government is now investigating the case.
The Hill: “Nearly 60 percent of all Americans think the war in Afghanistan is no longer worth fighting, with more than 50 percent saying U.S. troops should withdraw even if Afghan forces are not ready to fend for themselves.”
So, Americans, will you remember this the next time it seems like such a good idea to go into war and perhaps be a bit more skeptical? Oh, who am I kidding?
Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan have an op-ed at CNN.com on Rush Limbaugh’s “slut” tirade from last week and they call for the novel solution of having the Federal Communications Commission yank the licenses of the hundreds of radio stations that carry his program:
Spectrum is a scarce government resource. Radio broadcasters are obligated to act in the public interest and serve their respective communities of license. In keeping with this obligation, individual radio listeners may complain to the FCC that Limbaugh’s radio station (and those syndicating his show) are not acting in the public interest or serving their respective communities of license by permitting such dehumanizing speech.
I won’t bother to detail the blindingly obvious arguments about the virtue of countering offensive speech with more speech, or the danger of having the FCC suppress speech one doesn’t like. Just as a matter of practical politics this is a dumb move. Limbaugh’s allies have been on the defensive (by trying to change the subject to Bill Maher, for example) for a week now, while his program bleeds sponsors. To the extent that anybody is paying attention—and who’s been waiting for Jane Fonda’s input?—it puts Limbaugh’s supporters back on the offensive, as is clear in the Memeorandum thread.
And I keep tripping over the following paragraph:
Limbaugh doesn’t just call people names. He promotes language that deliberately dehumanizes his targets. Like the sophisticated propagandist Josef Goebbels, he creates rhetorical frames — and the bigger the lie the more effective — inciting listeners to view people they disagree with as sub-humans. His longtime favorite term for women, “femi-nazi,” doesn’t even raise eyebrows anymore, an example of how rhetoric spreads when unchallenged by coarsened cultural norms.(emphasis added)
I find difficult that none of these women, or any editors at CNN, noted the irony of complaining about Limbaugh’s use of “femi-nazi” in the very next sentence after comparing him to Goebbels. And the lesson of the internet age is that everybody is a Nazi, eventually.
Updated with a couple of minor edits.