Archive for the 'MSM' Category

More of the same

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

The latest from Canada shows another non-religious act of killing. Of course the same has been going on in England, but you know that it’s not Terrorism — most probably standard neighborhood beheadings of unknown origin. And of course what went on in Iraq lo those many years ago was similar, whether the beheading or baking of children. And we must note also the workplace violence nature of Hasan’s crimes; hey, it was validated by the Guardian. That’s what we’ve got from the media and establishment of today. (Indeed!)

Paradigms that exist apart from reality break, often badly. Discontinuities emerging in these breaks are often radical. We go back to some thoughts from Thomas Kuhn on this. The US of Utopian sensibilities will probably suffer reversals that we can’t contemplate when the big reversals come. Not a pleasant prospect.

The torch has passed to a new generation

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

En route to MIA the film Blended was shown. The remarkable things were two: (a) in order to make rather obvious observations about humans in their male and female incarnations, the movie had to torture itself to remain PC enough; (b) what’s up with all the vulgarity and potty mouths on very young children? This film was followed by a bunch of NBC TV shows that we’ve never watched nor heard of. Once again, non-stop vulgarity. (We recently saw a couple of episodes of season one of the Beverly Hillbillies, which were filled with witty and arcane references — e.g., Jane is impressed because Jethro’s education included him being an eatin’ man.) Tempus fugit.

Both the watchers and the watchees know nothing

Saturday, October 18th, 2014

NYT:

Amid Assurances on Ebola, He Is Said to Seethe…Beneath the calming reassurance that he has repeatedly offered during the Ebola crisis, there is a deepening frustration, even anger, with how the government has handled key elements of the response. Those frustrations spilled over when he convened his top aides in the Cabinet room after canceling his schedule on Wednesday. Medical officials were providing information that later turned out to be wrong. Guidance to local health teams was not adequate. It was unclear which Ebola patients belonged in which threat categories.

“It’s not tight,” a visibly angry man said of the response, according to people briefed on the meeting. He told aides they needed to get ahead of events and demanded a more hands-on approach, particularly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “He was not satisfied with the response,” a senior official said.

The difference between the public and private messages illustrates the dilemma he faces on Ebola — and a range of other national security issues — as he tries to galvanize the response to a public health scare while not adding to the sense of panic fueled by 24-hour cable TV and the nonstop Twitter chatter.

On Friday, he took a step to both fix that response and reassure the public, naming Ron Klain, a former aide, to coordinate the government’s efforts on Ebola. The appointment followed his statement Thursday that the job was necessary “just to make sure that we are crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s going forward.”

“Part of the challenge is to be assertive, to be in command, and yet not feed a kind of panic that could easily evolve here,” said David, a close adviser in his first term. “It’s not enough to doggedly and persistently push for answers in meetings. You have to be seen doggedly and persistently pushing for answers.”

For two turbulent weeks, officials have sought to balance those imperatives: insisting the dangers to the American public were being overstated in the news media, while also moving quickly to increase the president’s demonstration of action.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and its arrival in the United States, is the latest in a cascade of crises that have stretched his national security staff thin. As the people scrambled to stop the spread of Ebola beyond a handful of cases, officials were also grappling with an escalating military campaign against the Islamic State, the specter of a new Cold War with Russia over Ukraine, and the virtual disintegration of Yemen, which has been a seedbed for Al Qaeda.

Senior officials said they pushed him to name an Ebola coordinator as a way of easing pressure on the staff at the National Security Council.

At the meeting on Wednesday, officials said, he placed much of the blame on the C.D.C., which provided shifting information about which threat category patients were in, and did not adequately train doctors and nurses at hospitals with Ebola cases on the proper protective procedures.

On Thursday night, in televised remarks, he sought to reassure the public about the dangers from Ebola. But the sense of crisis that emanated from headquarters was in sharp contrast to Sept. 30, when Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian who had traveled to Dallas, tested positive for Ebola. He received a telephone briefing from Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the C.D.C., after which they issued a sanguine statement that concluded: “We have the infrastructure in place to respond safely and effectively.”

In the days that followed, he carried on as usual while his aides gamely added Ebola to their bulging portfolios. On Oct. 1, he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, and later had dinner with friends at the RPM Steakhouse in Chicago, where he had traveled for fund-raisers and to deliver an economic speech.

By early October, as questions about the Dallas hospital’s treatment of Mr. Duncan mounted, federal officials began reassessing their response, even as they continued to express confidence.

C.D.C. officials publicly dismissed the effectiveness of screening for Ebola at airports in the United States. But the secretary of Homeland Security, found a way to make it work over the weekend of Oct. 4. He announced the screening protocol the following Monday.

Even after Mr. Duncan’s death on Oct. 8, officials betrayed little sense of a change in approach. He traveled to California for campaign fund-raising and on his return to Washington, received a briefing from his secretary of health and human services about the announcement that a nurse who treated Mr. Duncan had contracted Ebola.

The business-as-usual sentiment at headquarters changed abruptly, officials said, when it got word early Wednesday that a second nurse in Dallas contracted the disease. The fact that she had traveled on a Frontier Airlines flight despite having a fever added to the concern, officials said.

“This Frontier thing took it out of the abstract thing and to this level where people could identify with and made them scared,” a senior official said. Within hours, aides canceled a planned trip by him to Connecticut and New Jersey. Hours later, Thursday’s trip to Rhode Island and New York City was also scrubbed.

This piece definitively demonstrates that both the watchers and the watchees know nothing. The senior of the 2 NYT reporters has been to a lot of countries but he and his colleague have never done anything in their lives other than observing people who do things. We’re reminded of Hilton Kramer’s critique.

As for the watchees, that’s really scary. Putting ideology aside, we have idiots running things. Any executive would begin analysis of Ebola with (a) lethality; (b) incubation period; (c) ease of transmission; (d) mutability of virus; (d) current track record of containment. From there he’d get to implementing action items at Warp Speed: (1) making drugs that cure it; (2) making vaccines that prevent it; (3) emulating containment strategies that have proven successful.

In the NYT piece above the executives apparently are not consumed with the blindingly obvious action items we outlined, indeed they don’t seem to be thinking about them at all. And the reporters covering all this don’t even know enough to ask relevant questions. Recipe for disaster.

What was cooking at Fannie Mae 2002-2005?

Friday, October 17th, 2014

NYT:

Franklin D. Raines, who resigned as chief executive of Fannie Mae in late 2004 amid revelations of extensive accounting improprieties at the mortgage finance company, has been dismissed from a long-running civil suit brought by Fannie Mae investors hoping to recover damages…the judge continued, evidence submitted by the shareholders showed that Mr. Raines “acted negligently in his role as the company’s chief executive and negligently in his representations about the company’s accounting and earnings management practices”…

The investor lawsuit was filed in 2005 on behalf of approximately one million Fannie Mae shareholders who incurred losses after regulators identified pervasive accounting irregularities at the company. Between 1998 and 2004, government investigators found, senior executives at Fannie had manipulated its results to hit earnings targets and generate $115 million in bonus compensation. The company had to restate its earnings, reducing them by $6.3 billion.

In 2006, the government sued the three former executives, seeking $100 million in fines and $115 million in restitution from bonuses it maintained they had not earned. Without admitting wrongdoing, Mr. Raines, Mr. Howard and Ms. Spencer paid $31.4 million to settle the matter

NBC in 2004:

OFHEO Director Armando Falcon, testifying under oath at the hearing, asserted that Fannie Mae improperly put off booking income to a future reporting period “to create a ’cookie jar’ reserve that it could dip into whenever it best served the interests of senior management.” Those interests included smoothing out volatility in earnings from quarter to quarter and meeting earnings-per-share targets linked to bonuses for executives, Falcon said.

Raines disputed the regulators’ allegation that in one instance in 1998, accounting rules were deliberately violated so that top executives could get full bonuses…Lawmakers have cited his assurances to investors a little over a year ago that Fannie Mae, which finances one of every five home loans in America, had not “undertaken any transactions to distort our true financial condition.”

Raines and Howard have been put on the defensive by a recent government report that criticized Fannie Mae’s “culture and environment” for making “these problems possible.” The Washington-based company, which is the second-largest financial institution in the United States, is also facing a criminal investigation by the Justice Department.

NYT in 2003:

Fannie Mae, the giant mortgage finance company, faces much bigger losses from interest rate swings than it has publicly disclosed, according to computer models used by the company to estimate the value of its assets and debts.

At the end of last year, the models showed that Fannie Mae’s portfolio would have lost $7.5 billion in value if interest rates rose immediately by 1.5 percentage points, internal company documents provided to The New York Times indicated. At that time, the market value of all the assets on Fannie Mae’s books, minus all the company’s debts, was about $15 billion. So it would have lost roughly half its market value from such a sharp increase in interest rates, according to the models. With $923 billion in assets, Fannie Mae is the second-largest financial company in the United States

WSJ, a week after the catastrophic decision in 2008 to let Lehman Brothers fail:

the vast accumulation of toxic mortgage debt that poisoned the global financial system was driven by the aggressive buying of subprime and Alt-A mortgages, and mortgage-backed securities, by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The poor choices of these two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) — and their sponsors in Washington — are largely to blame for our current mess.

How did we get here? Let’s review: In order to curry congressional support after their accounting scandals in 2003 and 2004, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac committed to increased financing of “affordable housing.” They became the largest buyers of subprime and Alt-A mortgages between 2004 and 2007, with total GSE exposure eventually exceeding $1 trillion. In doing so, they stimulated the growth of the subpar mortgage market and substantially magnified the costs of its collapse…

If Fannie and Freddie wanted subprime or Alt-A loans, the mortgage markets would produce them. By late 2004, Fannie and Freddie very much wanted subprime and Alt-A loans. Their accounting had just been revealed as fraudulent, and they were under pressure from Congress to demonstrate that they deserved their considerable privileges…

If they were not making mortgages cheaper and were creating risks for the taxpayers and the economy, what value were they providing? The answer was their affordable-housing mission. So it was that, beginning in 2004, their portfolios of subprime and Alt-A loans and securities began to grow. Subprime and Alt-A originations in the U.S. rose from less than 8% of all mortgages in 2003 to over 20% in 2006.

During this period the quality of subprime loans also declined, going from fixed rate, long-term amortizing loans to loans with low down payments and low (but adjustable) initial rates, indicating that originators were scraping the bottom of the barrel to find product for buyers like the GSEs.

Why the 2002-2005 timeframe? Politico: From 2002 through 2005, the now-failed mortgage lender Fannie Mae paid…for an O’Melveny team, including Klain, to lobby Congress and the Housing and Urban Development Department on “regulatory issues.”

It’s no big deal really, but the lobbying is omitted in the WaPo story and that in the NYT about the man tapped to “control the message” as the new Ebola Czar. Good message control!

Reporting in these times

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Washington Post:

Some West Africans believe that the day you die is one of the most important days of your life.

Amazingly, the average age of the reporters seems to be well above 25. Also, check out this NYT piece which could have come straight out of the scene with the mayor in Ghostbusters.

Okay then

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Whitehouse.gov 14 days ago:

it is highly unlikely that we would experience an Ebola outbreak here in the United States, given our robust health care infrastructure and rapid response capabilities

Chris Matthews, yes that Chris Matthews, reacts. Oh, what the heck. We heard it was a JV virus.

Update to a five year old story

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Back then: Michael Tomasky in the Guardian:

About that “Allahu Akbar” — The fact that Hassan reportedly shouted the above is meant, I suppose, to imply that he was an extremist fanatic. I’m not sure that it does. My understanding is that it’s something Arab people often shout before doing something or other. It’s used in many different situations.

Update: “I formally and humbly request to be made a citizen of the Islamic State,”Hasan says in the handwritten document addressed to “Ameer, Mujahid Dr. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.” “It would be an honor for any believer to be an obedient citizen soldier to a people and its leader who don’t compromise the religion of All-Mighty Allah to get along with the disbelievers.” The two-page letter includes Hasan’s signature and the abbreviation SoA for Soldier of Allah.

In case you hadn’t noticed

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

The average person is both ill-informed and not too bright, at least if you poll the right campuses and industries where they prattle on about micro-aggressions and so forth. Add that to the college professor class, and oops! the high school history curriculum, and you have a formula for continued degeneration into a fantasy world until things get up close and personal. It’s all so obvious. Appeasement does not work. Unbelievably sad and pathetic and to no avail.

Update: if figures like this are true, this conflict could be a kind of an internecine hundred years’ war, except that with the armaments available today, there seems a pretty high probability that someone will choose to go out with a bang.

MSM in Gaza, Iraq, North Korea — obsequious and dishonest

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

CNN in 1997:

In a sweltering, crowded hospital south of Baghdad, dozens of children line the beds, their stick-like limbs reflecting a severe lack of food. A mother’s wail pierces the room: One of her children has already died and two others are suffering from malnutrition and diarrhea. Such conditions are prevalent throughout the Arab nation, where aid agencies have issued numerous reports documenting the deteriorating health of Iraqi children since the United Nations imposed sanctions seven years ago. One in four Iraqi children are malnourished, according to UNICEF. Many of those who survive will suffer permanent brain damage or stunted growth.

CNN’s chief news executive in 2003:

Over the last dozen years I made 13 trips to Baghdad to lobby the government to keep CNN’s Baghdad bureau open and to arrange interviews with Iraqi leaders. Each time I visited, I became more distressed by what I saw and heard — awful things that could not be reported because doing so would have jeopardized the lives of Iraqis, particularly those on our Baghdad staff. For example, in the mid-1990′s one of our Iraqi cameramen was abducted. For weeks he was beaten and subjected to electroshock torture in the basement of a secret police headquarters because he refused to confirm the government’s ludicrous suspicion that I was the Central Intelligence Agency’s Iraq station chief. CNN had been in Baghdad long enough to know that telling the world about the torture of one of its employees would almost certainly have gotten him killed and put his family and co-workers at grave risk…A 31-year-old Kuwaiti woman, Asrar Qabandi, was captured by Iraqi secret police occupying her country in 1990 for “crimes,” one of which included speaking with CNN on the phone. They beat her daily for two months, forcing her father to watch. In January 1991, on the eve of the American-led offensive, they smashed her skull and tore her body apart limb by limb. A plastic bag containing her body parts was left on the doorstep of her family’s home. I felt awful having these stories bottled up inside me.

Not much has changed except the location, certainly not the professionalism of the media. Even the WaPo says the MSM are intimidated into silence or propaganda. Disgraceful. Lights, camera, action!!!

Bonus fun: North Korea too. Sense a pattern???

Today’s reading

Saturday, August 2nd, 2014

Alan Dershowitz again. Jon Voight. Questions for journalists. And a writer at The New Yorker, of all places, takes on Rashid Khalidi. What a world. Meanwhile, did you know that the Gaza tunnels were a jobs program? Or that Andrew Jackson was a “genocidal maniac“? Or that if you think illegal immigration is bad now, soon “millions of people are driven north from the parched landscapes of a world degraded by intensifying climate change?” (Must be why they’re sending the kids to Alaska!) Finally, on some station that shows vintage TV, there today was an episode of Flipper from 1966. Almost every minute features something that is unacceptable or illegal now.

Inversions

Monday, July 28th, 2014

How strange. We now live in a world where the editorial line of the Washington Post is more or less unfit to appear in the HuffPo when it comes to Gaza. More at the WaPo and at PL on our inverted world. BTW, we thought Wretchard was getting a little too dramatic when he transitioned from the various wars to Ebola — then we saw that the CDC is stonewalling USA Today regarding the failures of its medical “do not board” rule for airlines. That’s reassuring! Have a nice day.

Era of potential realignments

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

Haaretz, of all places:

The draft Kerry passed to Israel on Friday shocked the cabinet ministers not only because it was the opposite of what Kerry told them less than 24 hours earlier, but mostly because it might as well have been penned by Khaled Meshal. It was everything Hamas could have hoped for.

The document recognized Hamas’ position in the Gaza Strip, promised the organization billions in donation funds and demanded no dismantling of rockets, tunnels or other heavy weaponry at Hamas’ disposal. The document placed Israel and Hamas on the same level, as if the first is not a primary U.S. ally and as if the second isn’t a terror group which overtook part of the Palestinian Authority in a military coup and fired thousands of rockets at Israel.

On Saturday, the State Department distributed photos of Kerry’s meeting with Qatar and Turkey’s foreign ministers in Paris. The three appear jovial and happy-go-lucky. Other photographs show Kerry carousing romantically with the Turkish foreign minister in the pastoral grounds of the U.S. ambassador’s home in Paris, as if the Turkish official’s prime minister didn’t just say a few days ago that Israel is 10 times worse than Hitler.

The secretary of state’s draft empowered the most radical and problematic elements in the region – Qatar, Turkey, and Hamas – and was a slap on the face to the rapidly forming camp of Egypt, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, who have many shared interests. What Kerry’s draft spells for the internal Palestinian political arena is even direr: It crowns Hamas and issues Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with a death warrant.

It’s not clear what Kerry was thinking when he presented this draft. It’s unclear what he had in mind when he convened the Paris summit. It can only be seen as surreal. Along with foreign ministers from Europe’s major nations Kerry greeted with regal honors Hamas’ Qatari and Turkish patrons, ignoring what Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority might have had to say.

Wow, Israel’s NYT slams the administration hard. And in other news, the crazed illegal immigration situation draws large protests in Massachusetts, and elsewhere among traditionally loyal D’s. In some ways our current situation is a disaster, but it does open the door for realignments among people who can think like adults.

Bonus fun: Netanyahu goes off on the nutty Presbyterians.

Why not promote them………and other matters

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Jim Fox, the leader of the Mid-Iowa Boy Scout Troop 111:

The scouts and their leaders were on a 21-day trek from Iowa to Alaska – a trip that had been three years in the planning. As their vans were moving through a checkpoint into the United States, one of the scouts snapped a photograph. Agents stopped the van and ordered all the passengers to get out. They told the underage photographer that he had committed a federal crime. It was unclear which agency with the Department of Homeland Security’s CBP agency was involved in the incident. “The agent immediately confiscated his camera, informed him he would be arrested, fined possibly $10,000 and ten years in prison,” Fox told Des Moines television station KCCI. During the search, one of the scouts tried to retrieve a bag from the roof carrier. When he turned around, Fox said an agent had a loaded pistol pointed at the child. “He heard a snap of the holster, turns around, and here’s this agent, both hands on a loaded pistol, pointing at the young man’s head,” Fox told the television station. The scoutmaster wrote a detailed account of the incident on his Facebook page. He said he tried to watch the agents search the van but was ordered to return to his vehicle. An agent followed him and told the youngsters “that the next one to leave the van would be handcuffed and detained.” “The agent in charge informed me of the potential charges against (the) scout and informed me it is a violation of federal law for any American to take a picture of a federal agent or any federal building,” Fox wrote. Fox said he and another member of the troop were interrogated by agents – forced to answer questions about their background. They also wanted to know why the Boy Scouts were hauling “excessive amounts of lighters, matches and knives,” Fox said. After a lengthy delay, the Scouts were released

Too bad they were released, or we’d might recommend that the agents be promoted 1500 miles south to stem this disaster. And in other news, “killing bald and golden eagles remains a felony punishable by a $250,000 fine and prison time…In 2009, the agency first instituted a permit system to allow exemptions from prosecution—for five years—for wind farms and certain other projects that inadvertently harm or kill eagles. Last year, it extended the duration of permits for ‘non-purposeful take of eagles’ to 30 years.”

Final thoughts: Joan Rivers, and in lighter fare, “By Grabthar’s Hammer…what a savings.”

Let’s change the subject

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Jalopnik:

On assignment for the Wall Street Journal, I was in San Francisco to drive the original Bullitt chase scene in a new, 2011 Ford Mustang V6. In the passenger seat was Loren Janes, the fabled Hollywood stuntman and McQueen double who had driven the movie’s most exciting scenes. Loren had graciously flown up from Burbank for the day to take the ride. What’s more, I had a CD of the Bullitt soundtrack to set the mood. The result is in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal.

Loren is a very level-headed guy who spent years doing crazy things for a living. Really crazy things. He pulled off hair-raising stunts in more than 500 movies-nearly all of them household names. He also has added excitement to more than 2,100 TV episodes. You realize that without guys like Loren, movies over the past 50 years would be rather static. When I asked Loren if anything scares him, Loren said matter-of-factly: “Not really. I’m asked that often. I’m not really afraid of anything, and I’ve never broken a bone. I’ve been a gymnast, a Marine, a diver and Olympic athlete, which was great preparation for stunt work. I was always comfortable in the air.”

Today’s post isn’t about jazz, but it’s certainly about cool. For those who share my fascination with Bullitt or have always been curious about stuntmen, especially those who began their careers in the early 1950s, here’s what Loren said to me during our conversation leading up to our drive on Sunday:

“I first met Steve McQueen while working on the TV show ‘Wanted: Dead or Alive.’ Steve was the star. Apparently, there had been two stuntmen there Steve didn’t like, and they were both fired. They called me because they had scenes to film and I lived about five minutes from the studio.



“When I showed up on the set, I walked past Steve, who was sitting around. We were both taken with how much we looked like each other. He asked me to get him a coffee. I wasn’t happy that he was treating me like a gofer. I walked up to him and said, ‘I’m going to make you look better than you can make yourself look. Just don’t blow my close-ups.’



“As I walked away, I could hear him scream to the director or someone, ‘Fire him.’ Apparently they had said to him in response, ‘No, no, he has to do the stunt first. We’ll fire him after if you want.’ 



“When it was time to do the first stunt, the coordinator told me Steve wanted it done as athletic as possible — meaning realistic and seemingly impossible. The stunt called for me to go through a low window in a barn, roll off the ground, leap up, vault over two horses, land on Steve’s animal and ride off.

“I spent some time walking the set to make sure the ground was clean and that there were no surprises. I moved the horses a little closer together and moved a rock that I could use to spring off to go over the horses.



”When the director yelled, ‘Action!,’ I went through the window, did my somersault, ran 15 feet to the horses, leaped over two of them, landed on Steve’s horse and took off. Steve couldn’t believe it. I worked out daily on parallel bars and other gymnastic equipment in my backyard, so vaulting over the horses wasn’t a problem.



“On my way back, I brought him a coffee, and he laughed. From that day forward I worked with him on every movie he made, including his last, The Hunter, in 1980, where I had to hang off the Chicago elevated train traveling at 55 mph.

Bullitt is on TCM today, and TCM is one of the few best hopes for a revival of the American values of several centuries. What would you prefer, VDH links to the upending of obvious choices between good and evil?

Mariel Boatlift 2.0

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

The Mariel Boatlift was first regarded as a humanitarian issue. It morphed into something else as it enabled Fidel Castro then to empty Cuba’s prisons, asylums and hospitals. It appears that Mariel Boatlift 2.0 was contrived to hit the news big time just as Lindsey Graham and Eric Cantor won easy anti Tea Party victories. So the news would tout the bi-partisan demand for comprehensive immigration reform aka amnesty and the angle was that it’s all about the children. The children! When Cantor lost decisively and unexpectedly, the air went out of the bi-partisan angle to the media narrative. Pity. It was supposed to be effective political theater for election season, planned last year for roll-out now. As with so much of what this crew in Washington does, the media planning was excellent, but the executive competence was nil. So it’s now a disaster and a political loser, the only remedy for which is cover up and threaten whistle-blowers as usual.

It’s notable that the administration structured the narrative such that they were merely responding to a crisis that somehow appeared out of nowhere, a common enough technique if you find truth to be an inconvenience. (“Seit 5.45 Uhr wird jetzt zurückgeschossen!“) But it was very naive to expect this to remain a cute story for long, not when the kids include criminals and others who have measles, scabies, chicken pox and strep throat as well as mental and emotional issues, up to and including suicide. Nowhere have we seen the media pose these questions: what kind of parents would abandon their kids in this way, and what would be the characteristics of the children that they would choose to abandon? Mariel Boatlift…

The post postwar era

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

VDH has a disturbing piece about how the uniquely successful last 69 years have now been more or less squandered. Wretchard has a good companion piece on who showed up when the adults left the room. Finally, we take a quick look at the utterly disgraceful role played by the media in abetting this senseless tragedy.

The shape of things to come

Monday, June 9th, 2014

JPod has a very insightful piece about the pop culture fairy tale the country has lived through in recent years. It’s an amazing thing to contemplate the power of a story to shape facts — again and again — into something they are not. So now we have the Bergdahl story, the true narrative of which is obvious, and impossible to fit into the never-ending fairy tale plotline the media prefer. In such a situation, it is illuminating to see who are the people still trying to do so. Of course we have the NYT editorial board, suggesting that shady “operatives” are coercing soldiers to make up bad things to say about the fellow. The NYT also made other assertions that even CNN (or at least Jake Tapper) will have nothing to do with. And the WaPo, or at least certain reporters and editors, continue to pretend all is well in fairyland: “With Bergdahl handover, proof that successful deals can be made with Taliban.” Good luck with that! And the LAT continues bravely to spin. The next couple of years are going to be interesting for the media spin machine, since there are going to be plenty of situations that, try as they might, they just can’t put a happy face on.

Light and darkness

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

WSJ

During rehearsal, “We were joking around and looking at each other in joyful wonder that we all ended up in this movie,” said Mr. Gunton, who played the sadistic Warden Norton. Then it came out and nobody seemed to notice. Though the film received mostly positive reviews (some complained it was too long and corny), it brought in just $18 million at the box office. “Shawshank’s” participants cite a variety of reasons for the film’s early struggles, including a confusing title with religious connotations, no female roles and competition from the year’s two megahits, “Forrest Gump” ($330 million in domestic box-office) and “Pulp Fiction” ($108 million)…

every day, the 68-year-old actor says, he hears the whispers—from cabdrivers, waiters, the new bag boy at his neighborhood supermarket: “That’s the warden in ‘Shawshank.’” He also still gets residual payments—not huge, but steady, close to six figures by the film’s 10th anniversary in 2004. Since then, he has continued to get “a very substantial income” long past the age when residuals usually dry up…

If Andy Dufresne was the movie’s on-screen hero, off screen it was Ted Turner, whose Turner Broadcasting System had acquired Castle Rock in 1993. His TNT channel took the cable-broadcast rights to the film in 1997 and made “Shawshank” an anchor of its “New Classics” campaign. Over the next few years, TNT and other Turner channels ensured that “Shawshank” never again would suffer from a lack of exposure. “Mr. Turner, bless his heart, chose to show the movie every five minutes,” Mr. Darabont said. “Shawshank” was becoming that priceless entertainment property—a repeater. Viewers watched it again and again.

Turner did a good thing in TCM, and he did so again in this case. We heard a character on some TV show borrowing lines from Shawshank without attribution the other day; quite a few people got the joke no doubt.

Nice to have a positive on days of fraud and mayhem.

Science, Fiction, and CAGW

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

Science:

66.4% of abstracts expressed no position on AGW,

32.6% endorsed AGW, 0.7% rejected AGW and 0.3% were uncertain about the cause of global warming. Among abstracts expressing a position on AGW, 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming…

In a second phase of this study, we invited authors to rate their own papers…Among self-rated papers expressing a position on AGW, 97.2% endorsed the consensus.

Fiction:

Man vs. Nature is the predominant theme of the film, and I always tried to go back to that imagery. At the beginning when they find the fossils, it was important to me that they didn’t just find them—it was caused by our abuse of the planet. We deserved it, in a way. So there’s this rainforest with a big scar in the landscape with this quarry, slave labor, and a Western company. You have to ask yourself, “What does Godzilla represent?” The thing we kept coming up with is that he’s a force of nature, and if nature had a mascot, it would be Godzilla. So what do the other creatures represent? They represent man’s abuse of nature, and the idea is that Godzilla is coming to restore balance to something mankind has disrupted…

there’s a reason his name begins with “God,” I think. He is a god, really. He’s at the top of the food chain and probably King of the World, in a sense…the idea is that for all of time man has always found that there’s something out there for us to worship or fear

So two thirds of science papers took no position on AGW, let alone catastrophic AGW, but that’s not the headline, the 97% is. We thank the director of Godzilla for explaining why that is.

Guardian: “The kidnapping of over 200 Nigerian school girls…has shocked the world…Instability in Nigeria, however, has been growing steadily over the last decade – and one reason is climate change.” We’re closer to the end than the beginning of this thirties-like vacation from history, when the bad things were all imaginary. But the fools continue to tilt at windmills

The pneumatikoi of today

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

Reading Steyn this morning (here and here) and various things the other day reminded us of something from a long time ago. We have today a modern reincarnation of the Gnosticism of old. The pneumatikoi have knowledge that lesser beings do not possess. Perhaps Wikipedia should be updated.