Archive for September, 2012
30 Sep 2012

“President of the Future”

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His Obamaness addresses the UN General Assembly.

Mark Steyn
tops Obama’s rhetoric with his own satirical rap.

One of the reasons why Barack Obama is regarded as the greatest orator of our age is that he’s always banging on about some other age yet to come — e.g., the Future! A future of whose contours he is remarkably certain and boundlessly confident: The future will belong to nations that invest in education because the children are our future, but the future will not belong to nations that do not invest in green-energy projects because solar-powered prompters are our future, and most of all the future will belong to people who look back at the Obama era and marvel that there was a courageous far-sighted man willing to take on the tough task of slowing the rise of the oceans because the future will belong to people on viable land masses. This futuristic shtick is a cheap’n’cheesy rhetorical device (I speak as the author of a book called “After America,” whose title is less futuristic than you might think) but it seems to play well with the impressionable Obammysoxers of the press corps.

And so it was with President Obama’s usual visionary, inspiring, historic, etc., address to the U.N. General Assembly the other day: “The future must not belong to those who bully women,” he told the world, in a reference either to Egyptian clitoridectomists or the Republican party, according to taste. “The future must not belong to those who target Coptic Christians,” he added. You mean those Muslim guys? Whoa, don’t jump to conclusions. “The future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam,” he declared, introducing to U.S. jurisprudence the novel concept of being able to slander a bloke who’s been dead for getting on a millennium and a half now. If I understand correctly the cumulative vision of the speech, the future will belong to gay feminist ecumenical Muslims. You can take that to the bank. But make no mistake, as he would say, and in fact did: “We face a choice between the promise of the future or the prisons of the past, and we cannot afford to get it wrong.” Because if we do, we could spend our future living in the prisons of the past, which we forgot to demolish in the present for breach of wheelchair-accessibility codes.

And the crowd went wild! Well, okay, they didn’t. They’re transnational bureaucrats on expense accounts, so they clapped politely, and then nipped out for a bathroom break before the president of Serbia. But, if I’d been one of the globetrotting bigwigs fortunate enough to get an invite — the prime minister of Azerbaijan, say, or the deputy tourism minister of Equatorial Guinea — I would have responded: Well, maybe the future will belong to those who empower women and don’t diss Mohammed. But maybe it’ll belong to albino midgets who wear pink thongs. Who knows? Que sera sera, whatever will be will be, the future’s not ours to see. But one thing we can say for certain is that the future will not belong to broke losers. You’re the brokest guy in the room, you’re the president of Brokistan. You’ve got to pay back $16 trillion just to get back to having nothing, nada, zip. Who the hell are you to tell us who the future’s going to belong to?

Read the whole thing.

The idea of Progress, the notion that change is good and the past is bad, is an essential ingredient of liberal pseudointellectuality.

Sure, we keep getting better gadgets as time goes by. We gloat over having personal computers and the Internet now, the way my parents used to congratulate themselves on having television and owning an automobile, and my grandparents rejoiced over indoor plumbing and electric lights. We generally live longer, too. But progress is hardly uniformly upward. As technology gets better, it seems that concomitantly the sphere of personal liberty diminishes, the volume of laws and regulations climbs skyward, material culture gets cheaper and shoddier, our music and entertainment becomes coarser, our journalism more corrupt, and the character of the typical American grows feebler and more dependent. People my age commonly watch the old black & white films on Turner Classics rather wishing we could go back and live in that terrible old-fashioned America that Barack Obama consistently condemns once again.

29 Sep 2012

“All the News That’s Fit to Slant”

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Hat tip to Clarice Feldman (via FB).

29 Sep 2012

It’s True, He Really Said That

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1:59 video

29 Sep 2012

Pat Caddell: Media “the Enemy of the American People”

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28 Sep 2012

Flea Market Renoir Sale Canceled Indefinitely

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Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paysage Bords de Seine [Landscape Banks of the Seine], c.1879

The Washington Post apparently did a little investigating of its own, and found that the Flea-Market-find Renoir about to be auctioned tomorrow at Potomack Galleries in Alexandria belonged to a Baltimore Museum and had been stolen in 1951.

[A] Washington Post reporter entered the library at the Baltimore Museum of Art. In a box full of Saidie May’s letters and artwork receipts lay one major clue: records showing that she had lent the painting to the museum in 1937. The discovery startled museum officials, who had already said the flea-market Renoir never entered their institution.

But armed with the loan registration number, museum officials dug up in their collection records an even-more-astounding clue about the Renoir’s journey. An old museum loan registration document revealed that the tiny landscape, measuring 51 / 2 by 9 inches, was stolen Nov. 17, 1951, from the BMA — shortly after May’s death.

Now the painting’s highly anticipated auction by the Potomack Company has been canceled. The FBI is investigating, and museum officials are trying to learn more about the painting’s theft. They couldn’t explain why it does not appear on a worldwide registry of stolen and lost art.

28 Sep 2012

Liberalism = Statism + Scientism

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“Thank God! A panel of experts.”

Wesley J. Smith identifies the liberal dream: Utopia achieved by the power of the administrative state wielded by scientific experts.

Liberals, what do they really want? Not the communism or socialism of the right’s fever dreams. They know that didn’t work. Today’s liberal agenda is more akin to the corporatist vision of the 1920s and ’30s​—​an economy in which the state directs the activities of the private sector to achieve ideologically desired ends. But even that description doesn’t quite get to the nub of it. Liberals today seek to create a stable, and what they perceive to be a socially just, society via rule by experts​—​in which most of the activities of society are micromanaged by technocrats for the economic and social benefit of the whole. In other words, social democracy without the messiness of democracy, like the European Union’s rule-by-bureaucrats-in-Brussels. This is the “fundamental transformation” that President Obama seeks to implement in this country.

Read the whole thing.

When you come right down to it, all this is so early last century. The liberal is the intellectual who learned essentially nothing from the last century. Barack Obama might just as well be William Jennings Bryan in blackface.

27 Sep 2012

Obama Voter Says You Should Vote For Him Because He Gives Minorities Free Phones

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And, yes, it’s true: he does. Your tax dollars at work.

27 Sep 2012

America the 15-Year-Old-Girl

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27 Sep 2012

The Black Flag of al Qaeda

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Cairo rioters surrounding US Embassy carrying black flag. The round circle represents the personal seal of Mohammed (used in correspondence with foreign leaders) and is a standard feature found in al Qaeda flags.


Charles C.W. Cooke
delivers a history lesson on the negative symbolism of black flags.

‘Every normal man,” wrote H. L. Mencken, “must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.” Given that his subject was modern poetry, he can be forgiven the impulse. But we might politely decline to join him. There are few occasions on which the raising of a black flag has been an overture to something pretty, and a great many on which it has augured something ill. Black flags are harbingers of chaos.

The recent events in the Arab world are no exception. The barbarism in Egypt and Libya pushed back into view the nefarious purposes to which black flags are most commonly deployed. Having scaled the walls of the American embassy compound in Cairo on September 11, protesters ripped down Old Glory, set fire to it, and managed to replace it temporarily with their own pennant. At the consulate in Benghazi, marauders put up their flag, murdered the ambassador and three other Americans, and caused as much damage as they could. The unrest has not yet stopped, with U.S. citizens and property being targeted in Lebanon, Yemen, Tunisia, and Syria.

Read the whole thing.

Wikipedia on Islamic flags.

Wikipedia on the Islamic Black Flag.

27 Sep 2012

Obama Keeps Winning in the Polls

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Rick Wilson looks at what’s been going on recently in the campaign.

The trick the Obama campaign has executed beautifully this month is to demoralize and dismay the GOP base. A combination of a very, very, very heavy TV buy in swing states (pay attention, because this is a rabbit they can’t pull out every week), a fierce assault on Romney at every turn (abetted by a cooperative press that loves the taste of blood) and a series of public polls that have played into a self-reinforcing narrative that Obama is inevitable.

The trick is a good one, and to judge from the wailing and lamentations on our side, it’s been working.

But it’s just a trick.

Let’s pull back the curtain, shall we?

The polling-validity battle has gone on for weeks now, and I’ll skip recounting the arguments on both sides. Yes, they’re playing 2008+ model games. No, it isn’t a just a conspiracy by the liberal media. Yes, the race is closer than the public polls show – on either side. The poll coverage looks the way it does because the media monster is always hungry, confirmation bias is like slipping into a warm bath and the herd runs the same direction, despite the facts.

The polls are what they are and September polls are never, ever wrong… except of course in 1948, 1968, 1976, 1980, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004. (h/t the amazing Jay Cost for that one).

See? You just saw one of the wires that make the trick work.

The polling is presented superficially, with typically only the toplines and a degree of analysis that is facile at best. There’s no context, history or depth. I’ve covered this problem a bit here and here.

So the polls became part of the message of chest-beating triumphalism by Team Obama. The drumbeat of Obama’s glorious, inexorable ascension to another four years in the Oval Office is something Chicago feeds to the media, but doesn’t for a second believe themselves.

The entire purpose of the last two weeks on their side is to game early voting. That’s it. It’s not about the end game, but rather an attempt to roll up some numbers in key states before the debates start and the campaign joins in earnest. They’re desperate to have you demoralized, depressed and sitting home in your living room, grumbling at Fox instead of voting early.

The Democrats know very well this race will tighten even further toward the end, and that the Potemkin Village of polls showing Barack Obama with a double-digit lead is just that.

They know that all the balls Obama is juggling now are, statistically and politically, impossible keep airborne. They know the run of Obama-is-God stories will collide with reality, whether economic, diplomatic or political. They know that Romney’s spending is catching up, fast, and will peak in the last week of October in a furious orgy of television ads and a get-out-the-vote program like nothing the GOP has done before.

Read the whole thing.

26 Sep 2012

Collecting Addiction

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An opium pipe made of Canton enamel with a jade bowl.

Steven Martin, interviewed in Collectors Weekly, developed a connoisseur’s interest in collecting antique opium pipes and smoking paraphernalia, which ultimately led to his publishing two books: in 2007, The Art of Opium Antiques and in 2012: Opium Fiend: A 21st Century Slave to a 19th Century Addiction.

You have to give him credit. All collecting is addictive, but Martin managed to achieve two addictions for the price of one.

I met an expat from Austria, who was able to get opium that had been prepared specifically for smoking. This is a reason why opium smoking will never come back. First, the paraphernalia is so bulky and easy to identify that there’s just no way you can hide an opium pipe and lamp under your jacket and take it around with you. Secondly, while tons and tons of opium is harvested every year in places like Afghanistan and Burma, it’s all going straight to heroin. There’s just no demand for chandu, which is what they call opium that’s been prepared specifically for smoking.

However, this Austrian was somehow able to get enough raw opium to prepare his own chandu for smoking. And I had this bright idea—bright at the time, I thought. I said to him, “Well, you’ve got this high-quality opium for smoking, the type that isn’t even being produced anymore. You’re the only one that’s got it, and I’ve got all this great, old paraphernalia, some of it in pristine condition.” So I asked him if he’d be interested in combining the two. Over the next few years, he and I collaborated. I’d go out and visit him every month or two in the rural area where he lived, and he set aside a room in his house specifically for smoking. We decorated the room with Chinese antiques like scrolls and a traditional opium bed. …

I was going through books and getting ideas, and we tried to make it as authentic as possible. As I was still collecting and still getting different pieces of paraphernalia and pipes, I would bring them to his place and we would try them out to see how they worked. In old books, we’d read about how some of the old smokers preferred a pipe whose stem was made of sugarcane to one made of bamboo, while others preferred bamboo to a pipe made of ivory. The old books said this, but why? That’s what I wanted to know.

I was smoking so infrequently that I felt it was research. That’s how I justified it. He and I smoked every month to two months. Everything seemed fine. I started to believe that the alarmist vocabulary you find in the old books about the evils of opium was just completely overblown. I had been smoking for years and still wasn’t hooked. …

[O]pium smoking is very involved, very time-consuming. At first, that’s what I was attracted to, the whole ritual aspect of it. But then I started bringing the stuff to my apartment. That’s when things went crazy. I went from smoking opium a couple of times a week to round-the-clock. I tried getting off the stuff, but couldn’t. It was just impossible, so painful. I ended up checking into a Buddhist monastery a couple of hours north of Bangkok that specializes in treating people with addictions. …

You go through this period where it’s just unbelievably good. You just think, “I’ve discovered this great, little secret that nobody knows about.” And then at some point, it just turns the tables on you. You go from looking forward to it to absolutely needing it. It’s insidious the way it plays with your brain. It just makes life without the pipe, without the intoxication, seem really brutal and pointless. You get to the point where you can only relate to your smoking friends.

26 Sep 2012

Samsung Ad Mocks Apple Cult

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26 Sep 2012

“Four More Years”

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Hat tip to Clarice Feldman (FB).

25 Sep 2012

Republican Vandal

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Austin, Texas is a university town and consequently a hotbed of liberalism, so inevitably some of the old-time natives of the area will take exception to the newcomers’ politics.

Fox News:

A Texas couple determined to find out who had been damaging a sign in their front yard proclaiming their support for President Obama’s re-election bid caught the offender on Wednesday. Tom Priem, a software support engineer in Austin, told FoxNews.com he and his wife, who live on a block where political signs dot front yards, were fed up with seeing only their Obama sign repeatedly defaced.

“The sign had holes poked in it like somebody had stuck a knife through it,” Priem said Friday. “At first I thought it was somebody who didn’t like Obama.”

    “We were making fun of it, saying the deer must be a Republican.”

    – Tom Priem, Austin resident

Priem said he even called a city hotline to document the incident in case a more insidious offender was to blame. He couldn’t believe his eyes when his wife showed him the surveillance photo she snapped seconds after the campaign sign was destroyed – by a buck.

The varmint’s vandalism began about 10 days ago and it’s unclear what the animal has against the sign.

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