Thursday, February 14, 2019

Strings attached: Chinese authorities, censors, and consumers influence nearly every aspect of American moviemaking in China

Hollywood has become so entangled with China that the movie industry can’t run without it
writes Erich Schwartzel in the Wall Street Journal.
Chinese investors and more than a billion potential moviegoers have made China indispensable to the film business. The country’s box-office total last year, at $6.6 billion, was the world’s second-largest compared with the first-place U.S., $11.4 billion. In a few years, analysts predict, China will be No. 1.

While the U.S. movie-ticket sales have remained relatively flat, China’s have more than tripled since 2011.

 … Private and state-backed Chinese companies have invested tens of billions of dollars in U.S. film ventures over the past decade. The relationship comes with strings attached. Chinese authorities, censors and consumers influence nearly every aspect of American moviemaking in China, from scripts to casting to greenlighting sequels.

… “We’re in a moment of significant disruption,” said Richard Lovett, president of Creative Artists Agency, which represents such clients as Sandra Bullock and J.J. Abrams. The firm announced Monday it was expanding its footprint in the country with a division called CAA China.

China’s ambition befits the big screen—to compete with the U.S. as a global storyteller and spread its perspective in the same fashion American filmmakers have for a century.

 … Chinese investors bring the support of a Communist Party that under China’s leader, President Xi Jinping, has made cultural influence an important piece of its long-term growth plans.

“We must make patriotism into the main melody of literature and art creation, guide the people to establish and uphold correct views of history, views of the nation, views of the country and views of culture, and strengthen their fortitude and resolve to be Chinese,” said Mr. Xi at the Beijing Forum on Literature and Art in October 2014.

Tensions between China and the White House have accelerated since the presidential election. Mr. Xi is seeking to strike a contrast with President Donald Trump as a champion of globalism, and he appears eager to advance China’s narrative—both by pressuring Hollywood studios to portray the nation favorably and, in the long term, by adopting Western filmmaking techniques for China’s own movie industry.

 … That desire got a push from a Hollywood panda named Po. The animated star of “Kung Fu Panda” was created by DreamWorks Animation SKG Inc., the Glendale, Calif., studio then run by Jeffrey Katzenberg.

Mr. Katzenberg didn’t cook up “Panda” to win over Chinese audiences. He and the DreamWorks team conceived of the movie in 2004, when China sales were barely an afterthought. At its 2008 release, China’s market was small but growing.

Yet “Kung Fu Panda” was a hit in China, grossing $26 million, a surprise to everyone. Members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee—a top political advisory body—debated how a U.S. company could understand Chinese culture well enough to make the movie.

 … Hollywood executives can rattle off the rules for getting a movie approved by Chinese censors: no sex (too unseemly); no ghosts (too spiritual). Among 10 prohibited plot elements are “disrupts the social order” and “jeopardizes social morality.” Time travel is frowned upon because of its premise that individuals can change history.

 … No company has been more aggressive in pursuing Hollywood partnerships than Wanda, a conglomerate run by Wang Jianlin, China’s richest man, that made its name building shopping malls across China in the 1990s.

In 2012, Wanda bought AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc., a Leawood, Kan., exhibitor that is now the largest movie-theater operator in the world. The company’s other entertainment holdings include Legendary Entertainment, the production company behind “Kong: Skull Island.” It recently built Wanda Studios in the coastal city of Qingdao, which houses 50 soundstages, the largest stretching to more than 100,000 square feet.

Check out the ending of Ridley Scott's “The Martian”, to see how a Chinese rocket is instrumental in saving the life of (again) astronaut Matt Damon. Or check out the ending of Roland Emmerich's “2012”, where the first nations to show compassion and allow thousands of commoners on the Arks — built in China, natch — prove to be China, Russia, and Japan; quickly followed — to the American commander-in-chief's dismay — by a handful of nations from Europe…

Hollywood's Offerings Promise Only to Get More Anti-American

• In an effort to placate China's cultural sensitivities, Hollywood is willing to make all manner of changes to their films

• Hollywood alters film content to satisfy the communist gatekeepers in Beijing

• Is Kung Fu Panda 2 "a Metaphor for the China-US Struggle"?

Further Inroads into Hollywood for China's Communist Party and Its Censors

Chinese Film Studios Are the Planet's Largest, Mass-Producing Films Designed to Build a Positive Image of the Country

In a separate Wall Street Journal article five months earlier, Erich Schwartzel wrote that
Once a blip on studios’ radar, the Chinese box office grew nearly sixty-fold from 2003 to 2015, when its revenue passed $7 billion, and is expected to become the biggest in the world in 2019.
But those sweetened terms come at a cost, beginning with rules that can feel like creative straitjackets and on-set safety requirements that can be looser than in the U.S.

 … Filming [the $150 million historical fantasy “The Great Wall”] in China posed inherent problems, like Beijing’s infamous pollution. “How do I look Matt Damon in the face when he’s the only one not wearing a mask?” one producer asked in a meeting.

Clearer skies and more space were found when the crew started filming in Qingdao, a coastal city 400 miles southeast of the capital where Wanda is constructing a sprawling real-estate development known as Wanda Studios Qingdao. Wanda bought Legendary for $3.5 billion in early 2016.

Monday, February 11, 2019

"Republicans Pounce!" Department: The "Far Right" Sees "Opportunity in Tragedy" and Uses a Muslim Refugee's Murder of a 14-Year-Old Girl as "a Political Weapon"

In the “Republicans Pounce!” School of Journalism (conservatives pouncing, leaping, seizing, etc), we get this German gem from the New Yorker's Yascha Mounk:
How a Teen’s Death Has Become a Political Weapon
When a refugee killed a fourteen-year-old girl,
Germany’s far right saw opportunity in tragedy.
Offhand, before reading the story, one obviously doesn't know much about it, one way or another. For all I know, there may be some, if not a lot of, truth in Mounk's New Yorker piece. But: we still get the narrative that people on the right are hypocritical and treacherous, while their aims are nefarious and their (phony) positions are nothing more than political weapons. (Danke schön für the Instalink.)

Having said that, what are the chances in a piece like this that the murderer's name is Mohammed, Abdul, or Ali?

Incidentally, doesn't the description of towns like Mainz in Germany sounds a bit like the UK's Rotherham?
The eleven-year-old girl allegedly raped by Ali Basha [yes, there is another victim] … had repeatedly hung out with a group of much older refugees, many of them grown men. Far from being an aberration, [Wolfgang Werner of Wiesbaden's department of social affairs] casually acknowledged, the phenomenon of older refugees pursuing an attention-starved young local is part of a wider trend.
Furthermore, when you read about other similar crimes (and the murderers' equally light sentences) and about the ensuing outrage being used by liberals like Yascha Mounk to bewail rightists' propaganda and "fearmongering"(!), you can't help wondering what drugs they are on. Such as the murder of
fifteen-year-old Mia Valentin, from Kandel, a town of ten thousand inhabitants in southwestern Germany, close to the French border. [Mia had] begun a romantic relationship with an Afghan refugee, Abdul Mobin Dawodzai, who had been placed in her class at school. After they broke up, Dawodzai (who had claimed to be a minor but was at least twenty years old, according to authorities) allegedly began to stalk and threaten her. On December 27, 2017, he repeatedly stabbed her with a bread knife in front of a drugstore in the city’s center. She died a few hours later.

Dawodzai was tried for murder at the district court in nearby Landau, and, at the beginning of September, he was sentenced to eight years and six months in prison. Far-right agitators used the shocking details of Mia’s death for full propagandistic effect, just as they did with Der Fall Susanna.
But back to the subject of this post, the “Republicans Pounce!” School of Journalism. Back in the United States, the (cough) impartial and (cough) unbiased Snopes website — given the content of the concluding paragraph, San Francisco's David Emery has never read a book by Jonah Goldberg or seen a video by Dinesh D'Souza — also chooses to depict Republicans as moody, childish, and impulsive (not to mention "leaping").
None of [the media attention garnered by dozens of white-clad women in the House chamber where Trump delivered his address] went down well with Trump’s base of supporters, who leapt to social media to share memes likening the white-clothed Democrats to reviled, oppressive movements such as the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis
Put another way, the “Republicans Pounce!” School of Journalism is symbolic of the leftists' basic worldview in a nutshell, which comes down to Republicans being despicable deplorables while Democrats being deserving dreamers.

Another example is the Washington Post's Republicans seize on liberal positions to paint Democrats as radical. Which leads Stephen Green to line his comment with a touch of irony:
Legalized infanticide, outlawing private insurance, a wealth tax, drastically increasing the income tax, taking control of the entire economy in order to micromanage the climate… nothing radical to see here, nope.
In that perspective, Ed Driscoll links to Charles C W Cooke story in National Review on how the mainstream media operates.
  … the “press” and “the First Amendment” are held to be synonymous when they are no such thing and cannot logically be so.

 … Sometimes consciously, but most often unwittingly, journalists treat Democrats as normal and Republicans as abnormal and proceed accordingly in their coverage. Once one understands the rules, the whole setup becomes rather amusing. When a headline reads “Lawmaker Involved in Scandal,” one can immediately deduce that the lawmaker is a Democrat. Why? Because if he were a Republican, the story would make that clear in the headline. Without fail, stories that begin with “Republicans pounce” are actually about bad things that Democrats have done or said, while stories about bad things that Republicans have done or said begin with “Republican does or says a bad thing” and proceed to a dry recitation of the facts. A variation on this rule is “Republicans say,” which is used when a Republican says something that is so self-evidently true that, had a Democrat said it, it would have been reported straight. For a neat illustration of how farcical things have become, take a look at the Washington Post’s most recent “fact check,” which helpfully informs its readers that the claimed “one thousand burgers” President Trump bought for the Clemson football team were not, in fact, “piled up a mile high” because, “at two inches each, a thousand burgers would not reach one mile high.”

Democracy dies in darkness, indeed.

Selective political interest is disastrous in its own right. But when combined with the catastrophic historical illiteracy that is rife among the journalistic class, its result is what might best be described as the everything-happening-now-is-new fallacy, which leads almost everybody on cable news and the opinion pages to deem every moment of national irritation unprecedented, to cast all political fights as novel crises, and, provided it is being run by Republicans, to determine that the present Congress is “the worst ever.” Turn on the television and you will learn that our language is the “least civil,” our politics is “the most divided,” and our environment is the “most dangerous.” When a Democrat is president, he is “facing opposition of the kind that no president has had to suffer”; when a Republican is president, he is held to be badly unlike the previous ones, who were, in turn, regarded as a departure from their predecessors. Continually, we are held to be on the verge of descending into anarchy or reinstituting Jim Crow or murdering the marginalized or, a particular favorite of mine, establishing the regime outlined in The Handmaid’s Tale. Past is prologue, context, and balm. Without it, all is panic.

Saturday, February 02, 2019

Northam at 24 and Kavanaugh at 17: What's the Difference?

Three or four months after Brett Kavanaugh was raked over the coals in the Fall of 2018 for allegedly reprehensible behavior at the age of 17, it emerged that a page dedicated to Ralph Northam in his 1984 yearbook shows two men posing in blackface and in a Ku Klux Klan robe when the medical student was 24 or 25, or about halfway to the age of 30.

Immediately rising to defend the newly-elected governor of Old Dominion — Northam (who had an interesting nickname in college) would eventually break silence to say that he was"deeply sorry" for appearing in the photo — was his fellow Democrat, Virginia state senate minority leader Richard Saslaw:

Northam's “whole life has been about exactly the opposite" said the Democrat from Fairfax, “and that’s what you need to examine, not something that occurred 30 years ago. While it’s in very poor taste, I would think there is [probably] no one in the General Assembly who would like their college conduct examined. I would hate to have to go back and examine my two years in the Army. trust me. I was 18 years old and I was a handful, OK? His life since then has been anything but. It’s been a life of helping people, and many times for free.”

Two comments:

1) Had photos of a Republican posing in blackface or a KKK hood surfaced, there would be nothing but the deepest outrage, followed by demands that he or she resign immediately. In that perspective, notes Ed Driscoll,
Northam appears to be a man of indeterminate party, based on the missing D-word in WTVR article.
2) Beyond that, Richard Saslaw's comments happen to be entirely reasonable.  Of course, in view of the inanity of going after someone in college in his mid-20s for "something that occurred 30 years ago," you wonder why — other than double standards — sensible-sounding Democrats would do the exact same to someone who was a teenager in high school. (Oh, that's right, my bad: in the second case, we are talking about a Republican, i.e., a deplorable.)
But here comes the kicker: if it is true that no one would want their college (or high school) conduct examined too closely, owing to the fact that most people at that age had "poor taste" and were (to say the least) "a handful", why on earth do we allow all these dunderheads go to the voting booth?

The voting age of 18 is so universally accepted, at least in the Western world, that to question it sounds irredeemably passé and unfashionable.

It is likewise held that the systematic lowering of the voting age (it often used to be 25 or so and later 21) is nothing if not concrete proof of the march forward towards an ever-purer state of a democratic society.

And yet, one of the better quotes attributed to Winston Churchill is
If You Are Not a Liberal at 25, You Have No Heart;
If You Are Not a Conservative at 35 You Have No Brain
The question arises:  Why on Earth would a society — any civilized society — want people "without brains" to be part of the voting process to determine the laws under which we (and they) live and the type of politicians and issues that affect us all.

(Unless, of course, they are the drama queens, the chicken littles, the prima donnas, the crybabies, the crybullies, and the other spoiled brats thriving on passion and emotion — here's looking at you, Donkey Party.)

As Michael Walsh ponders repeal of "the first of the so-called 'Progressive Era' amendments" i.e., the 16th Amendment, has it occurred to anybody that there may be plenty of good reasons to have the 26th Amendment revoked as well? 

Friday, February 01, 2019

The Covington story was just too good to check: churning out garbage stories and contrived media creations with disturbing regularity

Dan Levin of the New York Times doesn’t like the suggestion that he’s got an ax to grind with Christian schools
notes Benny Huang wryly.
Levin, who covers the youth beat for the Newspaper of Record™, recently tweeted:
“I’m a New York Times reporter writing about #exposechristianschools. Are you in your 20s or younger who went to a Christian school? I’d like to hear about your experience and its impact on your life. Please DM me.”
Solicitation of this kind is one clue that a reporter has already allowed his agenda to write the story. When a reporter asks his readers to send in material for an upcoming article, you can bet that the article’s tone, slant, and message have already been determined. This is especially true when the journalist doing the solicitation writes for an outlet like the Times. He knows what type of people will respond just as his readers know what kind of material he wants to receive.

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro translated the tweet well when he tweeted back:
“I’m a reporter seeking lapsed religious people to rip on their religious upbringing. Please contact me!”
 … The #exposechristianschools hashtag [Dan Levin] spoke of recently proliferated when the Washington Post discovered that the Second Lady, Karen Pence, works as a part-time art teacher at a Christian school in Virginia that maintains a code of conduct prohibiting homosexual behavior or homosexual advocacy. Somehow this became a scandal for two or three days until Covingtongate eclipsed it.
This just in — Christian schools have Christian rules!

There’s absolutely nothing scandalous about a Christian school having a code of conduct, nor is there anything scandalous about Mrs. Pence, who is a Christian, choosing to work there. If reporters wanted to write about a real scandal, they might want to cover the youth-targeted homosexual recruitment and indoctrination efforts that are sweeping the nation. For more on that, see drag queen story hour or the Harvey Milk state holiday that California public school students are forced to suffer through, named of course for the homosexual pederast city councilman who supported and defended Reverend Jim “Kool-Aid” Jones and his People’s Temple.

The Covington Catholic media firestorm that displaced “art-teachergate” seemed to be tinged with the same anti-Christian bigotry that had been directed at Karen Pence. We soon learned that Covington Catholic was just brimming with — gasp! — “homophobia.” Whatever that is.

 … It’s therefore quite understandable that media critics would be skeptical of a New York Times reporter who wants to write a story about Christian schools. It smells like a hatchet job. Dan Levin quickly explained that it was not his intention to “expose” Christian schools himself, but merely to write about #exposechristianschools as a trending hashtag.
No agenda here! Just trying to cover a story.

That might be a little more convincing if “art-teachergate,” “Covingtongate,” “valedictoriangate,” and the hashtag in question hadn’t been contrived media creations. Here was a media figure intending to produce yet more media coverage about this month’s media creations. And we’re supposed to believe that he’s merely reporting on a cultural trend from a distance.

My suspicion is that Dan Levin had already written the story in his mind, he just needed quotes to fill in the blanks. “Teachers told me only Christians can go to heaven!” “Someone measured my skirt!” Etc., etc.

Now that Levin has been called out for his agenda, he is working to counteract the impression that he is part of the #exposechristianschools movement he intends to write about.

 … Dan Levin strikes me as a very typical reporter. He seems to have an agenda but is unwilling to admit it even to himself. But who would? The “A” word sounds so sinister.

This is where cognitive dissonance kicks into high gear. Reporters who know darned well that they have agendas must rationalize to themselves why they should be allowed to cover stories that they clearly cannot distance themselves from emotionally. The process of rationalization begins with the assumption that a good agenda shouldn’t really be called an agenda because agendas are, by definition, bad. So, a reporter who merely wants to advance “civil rights” or protect our air and water cannot be guilty of pushing an agenda … can he?

Yes, he can.

The first problem with this rationalization is that agendas are not bad by definition; they are bad by connotation. Good or bad, an agenda is still an agenda and it should still be checked at the newsroom door. Agendas spawn biases, and biases warp stories.

See the Covington Catholic kerfuffle for a good example of that. The story was just too good to check. Young white men from Kentucky, who attend an all-boys Catholic school, wearing MAGA hats, attending a pro-life rally, encounter an American Indian who at least claimed to be a Vietnam veteran. There are just so many reasons for liberal reporters to despise these kids that the story practically writes itself.

Of course the Covington boys acted like louts — and racists too! Reporters who had been conditioned to see American Indians as the ultimate victim group took all of Nathan Phillips’s lies at face value. They checked nothing and they did no legwork to track down other videos that might have provided some much-needed context. If they had, they would have seen that the boys themselves were accosted by not one but two racist groups.

The second problem with this rationalization is that everyone thinks his own agenda is good. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have adopted it as his own. If only bad agendas can truly be called agendas, then only the other guy can possibly have one.

Consider for a moment the now disgraced Mary Mapes. She is the former “60 Minutes” producer who lost her job over forged National Guard memos that she intended to foist on the American people in the heat of the 2004 election campaign. According to Mapes’s father, Don Mapes, she “went into journalism with an ax to grind, that is, to promote feminism — radical feminism, I might say — and liberalism.”

The way Don Mapes talks about it, “radical feminism” sounds like a very bad thing. I happen to agree. But would Mary Mapes and her journalistic colleagues agree? They might prefer the term women’s rights or choice but I doubt that they would shy away from pushing their agenda under a name of their choosing.

And what about liberalism? To most liberals I’ve ever met, liberalism isn’t a bias or even a political orientation — it’s just common decency. Is that really an “agenda?”

Why yes, it is. And it’s this agenda that got Mary Mapes in so much trouble. Memogate was the crazy but true story of a network news department gone mad with confirmation bias. Mapes & Co. knew in their heart of hearts that Bush had gone AWOL and nothing could change their minds. This was particularly important during the 2004 election campaign when the foremost issue was the Iraq War. They wanted so badly to get the word out, to sway public opinion, and to turn an election, that they didn’t seem to notice that military memoranda that were supposedly written in 1973 were clearly composed using Microsoft Word!

 … Did Mary Mapes have an agenda? Of course she did! She was practically working as an adjunct to the Democratic Party, hence her unscrupulous coordination with John Kerry’s campaign manager, Joe Lockhart. But her agenda was, in her mind at least, the very best that a person could have. So why sully it by calling it an agenda?
The media in this country are basically incorrigible. The root of their problem is their incessant pushing of personal agendas, which they would be loath to admit even having if called by their proper name. So, they churn out garbage stories with disturbing regularity. Rather than informing the public with dispassionate professionalism, they crusade for causes that they hold dear. Until the journalism profession starts upholding some professional standards, I don’t see anything changing.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Brexit Solution: Let Britain Become a Province of Canada (then it could have its kayak and heat it too)

Looking through a couple of old Economist issues, I cam upon a pair of articles called Is Brexit unavoidable? and the Special report on the future of the European Union, to which readers (some of them witty) responded as follows:

On Brexit and the European Union
* Surely the solution to the Brexit negotiations is very simple. My squash club has a membership fee of £25 ($31) per month for unlimited access, but non-members have to pay £10 per hour to play, which is good value for people who only want to play once a month. Britain will save £10bn by giving up membership of the EU, but it wants to continue to use some of the facilities. Why should the EU not welcome Britain to whatever facilities it wishes to be part of, at, say, £1bn per shot, for example: £1bn to be in the open-skies agreement; £1bn for visa-free travel; £1bn for Interpol? This could even form the basis of the multi-tier Europe so eloquently laid out in your special report. If non-members were willing to cough up to access the good parts of the EU, there would be more money available to improve the less good parts.
Greenville, South Carolina

There is a simple solution to the Brexit conundrum, one that will allow Britain to have its trade cake and eat it too: the UK need only become the 11th province of Canada. Canada and the EU recently concluded a trade agreement and the UK would accede to it as a Canadian province. It would also join NAFTA and enjoy liberal trade terms with the United States.
Adjustments would be few and easy. Canada’s provinces have wide powers and by treaty the UK’s could be even broader. The queen would remain head of state. As a provincial flag, the Union flag would still be flown, with the Canadian flag a discreet presence on government buildings. As Hong Kong and Macau kept the dollar and pataca, so Britain could keep the pound. English would be an official language (though so would French). Such a move wouldn’t be unprecedented. Newfoundland left the UK and joined Canada in 1949. Time to think outside the box.
San Jose, California

Britain left out in the cold

Ted Stroll suggested that Britain should become a new province of Canada after Brexit (Letters, April 6th). There are additional benefits to doing this. Britain would have access both to the boat-building technology of the Inuits and to the oil sands in Alberta. In this way it could have its kayak and heat it.
Montivilliers, France

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Do Not Mock AOC's Global Warming Predictions; After All, Scores of VIPs, from Al Gore to UN Officials through MSM Outlets, Agree with Her Whole-Heartedly

Less than a year after frigid temperatures in Europe made parts of the continent colder than the North Pole, brutal Arctic cold is to send temperatures plunging in parts of America's Midwest, with wind chills at "life-threatening" levels (as low as -40 degrees in many locations).

But still, we must beware of global warming of climate change. Indeed, thanks to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), we now know that
we’re like, the world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change
Quoting a "landmark" report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) at a Martin Luther King forum in New York City ("Urgent changes needed to cut risk of extreme heat, drought, floods and poverty," is the The Guardian's subhead), the New York Democrat went on to speak of "that fierce urgency of now" and compare the Social Justice Warriors' gallant calling and the SJWs' valient fight to the most murderous conflict in world history:
like this is the war, this is our World War II
In case you don't get it: the whiny Social Justice Warrior deserves as much respect and as much deference as the GI who landed on Omaha Beach and as the Marine who stormed Iwo Jima. 

That was before explaining why teen-agers and college students are in the possession of more wisdom than those clueless parents of theirs:
… it’s … a generational difference. Young people understand that climate change is an existential threat
Doesn't AOC's bitterness sound like she can barely stand to be around old(er) Republicans? It's true that Mark Twain is alleged (ages vary) to have said that
When I was a boy of 17, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 24, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years
It is true that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is now 29. Still, do not be too harsh on any of our younger citizens, in view of the fact that the leftist culture has been pushing childhood ever forward (remember Obamacare's age 27 for "kids" being on their parents' health insurance?) and, indeed, its seeming desire to extend it to a person's entire lifetime.

In any case, please refrain from making fun of AOC. (Here's looking at you, Ed Driscoll!)  ;)

After all, there are many important people, many of our betters, many VIPs, not least in the above-mentioned United Nation, who happen to agree with AOC.

Al Gore, for one, has made the call for AOC's "fierce urgency of now", predicting that the Earth's ice caps will have melted within five years. (When did the former vice president make that prediction? That would be, uh, in the year… 2008…)

NASA's climate change guru, Jim Hansen, has also made the call for AOC's "fierce urgency of now", warning that the President of the United States has only four years to save the earth. (When did Hansen say that, and to whom? That would be, er, to… Barack Obama in… 2009…)

United Nations scientists and other climatistas have also made the call for AOC's "fierce urgency of now", warning that "There could be as little as eight years left to avoid a dangerous global average rise of 2C or more." (When did they issue this warning? That would, uh, be in… 2007…)

The New York Times and the Independent have also made the call for AOC's "fierce urgency of now", predicting that global warming is so serious that very soon, snowfalls will be nothing but a thing of the past (see also the Washington Post). (When did that prediction come? Uh, that would be in the year… 2000…; while Le Monde predicted in 2016 that soon cinema will be the only thing left to perpetuate the memory of snow, CNN reported that NYC hasn't seen snow like [that
of March 2018] in 130 years, marking "the fifth consecutive season that at least 30 inches of snow have fallen in New York City.")

Meanwhile, year after year after year, Britain's winters have proven to be among the coldest in a century.

• Time and again, the United Nations has made the call for AOC's "fierce urgency of now", issuing a dire warning that within 10 years, "entire nations could be wiped off the face of the earth by rising sea levels." (When did
a senior environmental official of the UN tell us that an "exodus of 'Eco-refugees'" would threaten political chaos? Noel Brown made the comment in… 1989… "if global warming is not reversed by the year 2000"…)

• Awareness of the dreadful calamity that awaits humanity led to the annual Earth Day event, where the call for AOC's "fierce urgency of now" has been echoed year after year since 1970. (What exactly did the drama queens warning us about during
the very first Earth Day? It was global cooling, with the very first Earth Day devoted to… the coming… ice age!)

Related: 13 Most Ridiculous Predictions Made on Earth Day, 1970 and
18 spectacularly wrong predictions made around the time of first Earth Day
in 1970, expect more this year
(via Sarah Hoyt and Ed Driscoll, who asks:
How can you continually believe the world is coming to end for a half century?)

As for the rising sea levels that we keep being warned about, I addressed that in a post a few years ago:

think of New York City, of Miami, of Galveston, of San Francisco, of Tokyo, of Sydney, of Goa, of Alexandria, of Saint Tropez, of Copenhagen.

Correct me if I am wrong, but [in the past 5 weeks, in the past 5 months,] in the past 5 years, in the past 50 years, even offhand in the past 500 years (?), has the sea level in any of those places risen by even one inch, by even one centimeter?
Stories of California's unending drought, along with the above examples, may help explain distrust of the government and the establishment of such theories as Betteridge's Law of Headlines along with the reason why conservatives are wont to pen columns with titles such as 5 Reasons It's Dumb To Panic Over Global Warming.

(Related: Secret Science Vs. the Devil's Work: According to environmentalists, if members of the EPA can’t hide their data and refuse to show their calculations they’ll be “crippled”)

A common (a deliberate?) misconception on the left is that rightists are dogmatic (and greedy) extremists who fly in the face of reality by cherry-picking their date to advance false and, indeed, deceitful and harmful narratives.

But ain't it true that conservatives are anything but activists, let alone extremists? They are simply regular folks who don't want to pressure any of their neighbors into doing anything but simply want to be left alone and who, on the contrary, keep their eyes, their ears, and indeed their brains, open? (Such as remembering that climate change used to be called global warming…)

It is a fair bet that many conservatives have good reason to predict that 2030 will bring just as little corroboration to AOC's forecasts as did the years 2015, 2013, 2000,
etc, etc, etc, to those of her predecessors…

Let Larry Kummer have the last word:

Remember all those predictions of a “permanent drought” in California? Those were examples of why three decades of climate alarmism has not convinced the American people to take severe measures to fight anthropogenic climate change: alarmists exaggerate the science, and are proven wrong — repeatedly. 
Update: Understanding climate means understanding maths, physics, and statistics:
Those who ascribe the word ‘denier’ to people not in agreement with consensus
climate science are trivializing the suffering and deaths of millions of people 

Update 2: Fox News:
President Donald Trump on Monday mocked climate scientists as he jokingly pleaded for global warming to “come back fast, we need you!” while warning the Midwest of impending freezing temperatures.

“In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder,” Trump tweeted on January 2019. “People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Waming? Please come back fast, we need you!”

Update 3: Is “climate change” going to follow “global warming” out the window? asks Benjamin Arie:
 … Scientists are supposed to be apolitical, unbiased, and soberly committed to facts over agendas. But to almost nobody’s surprise, they seem to have been purposely manipulating the language used to talk about the climate — and as Politico reported, that’s happening again right now.
“Scientists and meteorologists on the front lines of the climate wars are testing a new strategy to get through to the skeptics and outright deniers,” 
declared the subtitle of journalist Bryan Bender’s latest piece for [Politico Magazine].

 … Nobody knows for sure what the next “narrative” in the climate debate will be, but reporter P.J. Gladnick has a hunch. The next phrase to be rolled out, he suggested for the Media Research Center, is one you might have already heard on television: “Extreme Weather.”
 So there you have it, kids: from “the coming ice age” to “global warming” to “climate change” to “Extreme Weather.” It's been quite a ride…

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

If “climates of hate” kill, then our words, even our thoughts, must be policed: Preemptive measures must be taken, Adults must be shamed, and Children must be indoctrinated in government schools

In case you missed it, a would-be terrorist was arrested last week for allegedly plotting a massive, multi-faceted attack on the White House
On the Liberty Unyielding website, Benny Huang proceeds to explain why exactly you may have missed that piece of news: The name of the "Georgia Man" turns out to be Hasher Jallel Taheb, and his motive — which we may never learn (sic) — appears to have been jihad.
Might this story have been a tad bigger if the alleged perpetrator hadn’t been a Muslim and “person of color?” Might it have been bigger yet if the sitting president had been a Democrat?

Of course it would have. …

The reason I pose these questions is not to point out blatant media bias, which is so glaring at this point that no one who wasn’t trying could possibly miss it, but to ask how the current “climate of hate” in this country contributed to this Taheb’s blood lust, and what we as a society are doing about it.

Because if I’ve learned anything from liberals, it’s that “climates” kill people.

Until fairly recently, I strenuously disagreed with this notion, and to some extent I still do. Climates, much like guns, do not kill people. People kill people. Blaming a climate lets the perpetrator off the hook because, when the killer’s agency is minimized, so too is his culpability. What else can a passive receptor of hate-filled messaging do except to kill the person whom he is told to despise?

The other reason I have resisted the idea of killer climates is that it seems to lead, like night into day, toward censorship. If climates kill, then our words, even our thoughts, must be policed. Preemptive measures must be taken. Children must be indoctrinated in government schools to prevent dangerous ideas from occurring in the first place. Adults must be shamed, doxxed, and fired from their jobs for fear of what other people completely unknown to the speaker might do upon hearing their words. I am on record saying that the blurring of distinctions between speech and violence is eroding our right to express ourselves, and I still believe that.

But in recent years, I have started to reevaluate my beliefs about killer climates. When a soak-the-rich socialist named James Hodgkinson attacked a group of Republican congressmen and staffers at a baseball practice in 2017, I couldn’t help but notice that he was feted by certain segments of the internet, most notably the Facebook groups we know he belonged to.

James Hodgkinson doesn’t strike me as a particularly bright individual, which tells me that he probably doesn’t do much of his own thinking. We know that he was a fan of Rachel Maddow, whose program appears on the network that pioneered the “24-hour hate” — a slightly elongated version of the “two minutes hate” that George Orwell spoke of — and it seems unlikely that his suggestible mind was not affected by it.

Which leads me to a very difficult position. Is snarky Rachel Maddow to blame for the shooting? What about Hodgkinson’s internet clique? If so, why aren’t they in jail next to him? If not, then why are we even talking about the inconsequential “climate” as a factor?

My answer to these questions threads a very small needle. Yes, Maddow and other vitriolic leftists are responsible. They are not however, equally responsible. Nor are they legally responsible; but they are morally responsible. They should tone it down a little. Of course, the law should not force them to tone it down, but if they want to be Menschen, they’ll do it of their own free will.

Naturally, I understand that I’m handing liberals a cudgel with which to beat me. They want to use extreme social pressure, and sometimes even the force of law, to smother voices they don’t like. They’ll applaud when I say that people who speak mere words are at least partially responsible for the violent deeds of others because it will justify their exploitation of tragedy as a silencing tactic.

This, of course, is the perpetual problem posed by dishonest brokers — and that is exactly what liberals are. We can’t have a mutual agreement that both sides will avoid rhetorical bomb-throwing because the other side will only exploit these ground rules to their benefit.

Why? Because when tragedy strikes, they see an opportunity to make policy gains. This often involves scapegoating whole classes of people and then demanding that they speak in chastened tones, if they must speak at all. It’s high-brow “shutuppery,” but shutuppery none the less.

For a good example of this, consider the JFK assassination. Though the man who struck down the president was an unequivocal communist, this fact was quickly swept aside for political reasons. Some denied that he was a communist while others denied that he was even the assassin.

But the most curious group of people are those who acknowledged Lee Harvey Oswald as both — but didn’t care. We can count the grieving widow Jackie Kennedy among this bunch. Upon learning that her husband’s assassin was a left-wing radical, she remarked: “He didn’t even have the satisfaction of being killed for civil rights. It had to be some silly little communist.”

Note the dismissive tone here: a “silly little” communist. Would she would have called her husband’s killer a “silly little” right-wing zealot if it had turned out to be a John Bircher? Doubtful. More important was Mrs. Kennedy’s apparent desire to see her late husband become a martyr for some cause other than the one he died for. It clearly bothered her that JFK was a victim of the Cold War, not the civil wrongs movement.

And she wasn’t alone. In short order, America’s elite decided how President Kennedy and his murder would be recalled in popular memory, then exploited it for political gain. Less than a week after the assassination, the new president, Lyndon Johnson, addressed Congress, saying: “No memorial oration or eulogy could more eloquently honor President Kennedy’s memory than the earliest possible passage of the civil rights bill for which he fought for so long.”

Johnson was referring to what would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a bill that is both oppressive to the human spirit and unconstitutional on so many counts that I sometimes lose track.
For more details, check out Benny Huang's thoughts on the question:
Is The Civil Rights Act of 1964 an affront to sovereignty, privacy, dignity, and property rights? And does it exist primarily to keep an army of litigators employed?
To this day, people still blame Dallas’s allegedly nasty, reactionary climate for Kennedy’s murder. Authors Bill Minutaglio and Steven L. Davis even published a book for the assassination’s fiftieth anniversary called “Dallas 1963” about the “climate” in that city in the weeks and months leading up to November 22, as if it had anything to do with the actual murder.

If there was an actual patsy here, it was Dallas [and Texas], not Lee Oswald. Dallas was framed. All the people of Dallas did was to exercise their constitutionally protected rights to speak their minds about Kennedy and his policies; and for that were slandered, and continue to be slandered, as accessories to murder.

Of course, there are more examples beyond the JFK assassination to illustrate the point. …

I sometimes ask myself how any one group of people could be so utterly incompetent when it comes to assigning blame. How is it that liberals’ accusations of incitement to violence seem to contaminate the wrong people with such disturbing regularity? And then it occurs to me. They always blame the people they really want to be shamed and silenced, whether or not they are guilty of anything. Liberals don’t care how broadly blame is spread. They don’t even mind when blame is apportioned to the complete opposite target — blaming Christians for a Muslim terrorist attack, for example, or blaming John Birchers for a communist’s assassination plot.

This bad faith is why we can’t ever agree with liberals to brush up on our public civility. There can be no gentlemen’s agreement with a movement that lives and breathes on bad faith. All of this talk about watching civility in discourse is their polite way of telling us to shut up.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Walls work, and Democrats know it; in fact, they betray their cognizance of this fact every time they freak out over the very idea of a wall

In another episode of stupid “gothcha” journalism, the Washington Post recently reported that — despite what President Trump may have tweeted — Barack Obama does not have a ten-foot wall around his swanky D.C. home.
Unleashed (on the Liberty Unyielding website) at this point, Benny Huang goes on to add that
In one of the most pointless stories to appear lately in an increasingly pointless newspaper, the Post described Chez Obama’s security features while citing anonymous neighbors who said that there was no wall.

 … In an attempt to fact check the fact-checkers, the Daily Caller’s Benny Johnson dropped by the Obamas’ to find out the ground truth. What did he see?
Obama does not have one wall. He has many. He has barricades. He has armed guards entirely blocking the suburban road where he lives. Multiple cement and iron barricades block the road leading up to the Obama mansion. A Secret Service car and agent keep people from entering the stretch of road on both ends approximately 1,000 feet in both directions.

So I guess Obama’s “neighbors” are liars — if they aren’t figments of the reporter’s imagination.

What question that both the Washington Post and the Daily Caller failed to ask is why Obama would even want a wall. If I’ve learned anything about the Democrats it’s that they build bridges when other less enlightened people build walls. Why hasn’t [the lightworker] built a footpath straight into his living room? Surely there are needy people on the streets of D.C. who might need somewhere warm to stay for the night. Some of those people are probably veterans and some of those veterans were probably sent to war by none other than BHO.

 … But seriously, is there a competent adult alive who believes that a former president living in a densely populated urban area would not be protected by walls? Everyone knows that walls protect current and former presidents, though plenty of people, I’m sure, forgot this fact just long enough to sneer at Trump’s latest “lie.” After reading the Post’s coverage they shook their heads and said, “My goodness, Trump is such a liar,” when they knew darned well that that it was the Post that was lying.
As far as I can tell, Trump’s big lie was the word “around.” There is not one large wall surrounding the entire property. Instead there’s a patchwork of security measures that includes walls.

The point here is that the Obamas depend on walls to keep them safe. That’s because walls are pretty darned effective, and everyone knows it. It’s why the Chinese built one to keep out the Mongols, and why Hadrian had one built in northern England.

Democrats know that they work too. In fact, they betray their cognizance of this fact every time they freak out over the idea of a wall. If we had an effective barrier between us and the impoverished hordes of Latin America, the Democrats would have to appeal to actual Americans to get elected. They would not have the underclass they need to stay in power and drive an economy that works for them alone. Democrats have thoroughly pissed off moderate, middle class Americans on this issue and all they can do is pray that the demographic change they’ve planned for arrives before the backlash.

Democrats don’t want to stop the flow of illegal aliens, so we should probably stop considering their advice on how to stop it. They have an incentive to tell us that ineffective countermeasures are in fact effective, and that effective ones are not.

If the people pouring over our borders were self-sufficient, religious, conservative, white, anti-communist Poles, the Democrats might suddenly find some utility for a wall. But because it benefits them to have our country swamped with people who can’t care for themselves, they pretend that walls don’t work. Make no mistake about it: If walls were ineffective, the Democrats wouldn’t find them threatening.

Our once-again Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, recently declared a border wall to be “immoral, ineffective, and expensive.”

And I always thought that liberals liked things that are immoral, ineffective, and expensive. They like the war on poverty, don’t they? That one is now entering its 55th year with no end in sight. As of 2014, it had cost us about $22 trillion (inflation adjusted), and its effect on reducing the poverty rate had been negligible. Other expensive boondoggles they’ve championed include Amtrak and forced busing.

 … In reality, the wall is not expensive at all. It will pay for itself. Even if it ends up costing $21.6 billion, as the Department of Homeland Security estimates, it’s still a bargain. Doing nothing is costing us out the butt.

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) estimates that illegal aliens and their citizen children cost federal and state governments about $135 billion per year. This estimate is likely a low-ball figure as it assumes only 12.5 million illegals in the country when there are likely many more.

One other reason that the $135 billion estimate is likely too low is that it doesn’t take into account the impact of illegal immigration on elections on policy. Simply put, the cost of big government liberalism is almost incalculable, and that’s what poor third world illegal aliens seem to want. Illegal aliens also warp the census data so that big, liberal states such as New York and California receive more representation in Congress than they are entitled to. They are literally stealing House seats from other states.

So no, a wall would not be expensive. It’s the most fiscally conservative idea anyone has had in a long time. The money that a wall would save us could be diverted to veterans services, education, infrastructure, paying down the debt, or it could simply be returned to the taxpayers who earned it.

Liberals call the wall “ineffective” because it isn’t foolproof. The classic argument against the effectiveness of the wall, which is always made in bad faith, is that people will just find a way to go over, under, around, or through any barrier. Again, this argument only seems to apply to walls that protect our country, not walls that protect their favorite ex-president. Those walls works just fine.

The logic of this argument is that determined people will defeat any security measures we try to throw in their way, so why even try? Let’s just make it easy for them. We will necessarily be making it easier for less determined people to succeed as well, but hey — there’s an odd fairness to that. While, we’re at it, let’s take the doors off of our houses, leave our keys in the ignition when we go into the store, and open all the jail cell doors because they aren’t really stopping the most clever and determined among us.

Yes, a certain number of determined illegal aliens would still find ways to criminally break into our country despite a wall. But how many? One percent of the current total that crosses our border? Two percent? Ten percent? A wall that stopped even half of illegal border crossings would be worth it. But liberals don’t want to stop half of them — or any of them.

The idea that a wall is “immoral” is almost too stupid to discuss. Liberals find the wall immoral for the same reason that they find anything else immoral — because it challenges their power. That’s the real reason and anyone who tells you differently is a liar.

Walls work and everyone knows it. The efficacy of walls was never in doubt until Democrats decided to bet the farm on illegal immigration changing the country so profoundly that their party could never lose. Then, suddenly, walls became supremely useless.

But they aren’t useless. If they were, Democrats wouldn’t shriek in terror at the sight of them. And they certainly wouldn’t shut down the government to prevent one from being built.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

5 Reasons Why #MeToo Is Flawed and More Harmful than Helpful

It is extremely apparent that #MeToo is more harmful than helpful, 
writes Michael Walsh in the Daily Wire — in reference to the absence of any semblance of rationality to the discussion of sexual harassment and assault —
primarily for these 5 reasons:

1) #MeToo does not allow sexual assault allegations to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

If we are going to get to the truth in a particular case, and if we are going to be fair to the accuser and the accused, we cannot look at the case as another plot point in an overall narrative. Brett Kavanaugh is not just The Man character accused of abusing The Woman character. These people are not archetypes. He is an individual person, and she is an individual person, and their situation is an individual situation which has absolutely no relation to Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby or any other famous pervert.

This week, I have heard several women say that they aren’t sure if Kavanaugh is guilty but they did know plenty of “those kinds of boys” growing up and they were aware of “those kinds of things” happening. But that is exactly the wrong way of looking at this. Kavanaugh is not a “kind,” and this thing that happened, if it did indeed happen (which I don’t think it did), is not a “kind,” either. We are dealing with specific people and specific circumstances.

The problem with the #MeToo movement is that it is a movement. And movements come with their own narratives and ideologies. But sexual assault is not an ideological phenomenon. It is a criminal act, and therefore it must be evaluated objectively and on its own terms.

2) #MeToo does not acknowledge the possibility that women lie.

As we have established, it is a problem when we start making movements and narratives out of our opposition to sexual assault. It is even more a problem in this case when you consider what the narrative is telling us: namely, that women don’t lie about these things.

“Believe women,” the #MeToo crusaders shout. But we shouldn’t believe women. We shouldn’t believe men. We should believe individual people, regardless of gender, if there are good and empirical reasons to believe them. All people lie — men and women both — so we cannot make any blanket assumptions about which gender is more likely to be telling the truth.

We are told that “women don’t lie about rape.” You may as well say men don’t rape. Just because most men would never rape doesn’t mean that any particular man accused of rape is innocent. Likewise, just because most women would never lie about rape doesn’t mean that any particular woman accusing a man of rape isn’t lying. This is a very obvious point that the #MeToo movement has intentionally obscured.

3) #MeToo equates very unequal kinds of sexual misdeeds.

#MeToo has taken all sorts of sexual improprieties and put them all on the same spectrum, and then bunched them close together on that spectrum. Now, if a woman says she is a victim of sexual assault, she could mean anything from forcible rape to awkward flirting. She could mean that a felony was committed, or she could mean that a coworker propositioned her. Flirting is called harassment and harassment is called assault. Molehills are made into mountains and mountains into molehills.

In reality, there is no spectrum connecting rape to untoward comments. There is a vast chasm separating the two categories. On one side of the chasm is criminal violence and on the other is behavior ranging from normal to merely inappropriate. #MeToo has tried to fill in the chasm and lump every infraction with every other kind of infraction. They are all mixed together like a stew and each separate allegation is then seen not as a separate allegation but as an element or ingredient in the stew.

4) #MeToo infantilizes women.

Feminists claim that they want to empower women, but feminists are always the ones treating women like fainting damsels. Now, because of #MeToo, we call a woman a "survivor" if she was sexually harassed when she worked as a Denny's waitress 12 years ago. Or we may call her a survivor if she survived rape. Obviously the word is appropriate in the latter context but completely absurd in the former. It makes women seem so emotionally helpless and fragile that any uncomfortable or awkward situation will lead to a lifetime of trauma.

Women are also infantilized by the insistence that it is "victim blaming" to call for personal accountability and responsibility. So if a college girl gets blackout drunk at a frat party, has sex with a blackout drunk frat boy, and later decides the encounter was rape, we are not allowed to point out the steps she might have taken to avoid the encounter in the first place. And if an actress, desperate for a film role, decides to go up to a Hollywood producer's hotel room, again we are not allowed to notice the part she willfully played in what transpired next. I'm not saying that these kinds of cases represent the majority of #MeToo stories, but they do represent a sizable chunk of them. And because of #MeToo, they're all mixed together and no distinction is drawn between them.

5) #MeToo is mass hysteria.

The #MeToo movement does not facilitate a thoughtful discussion about sexual assault. It impedes the discussion. Prohibits it. That's how hysteria always works. The hysterical mob demands your unthinking participation. It does not want to answer any questions or entertain any rational critiques. It is not interested in subtlety or nuance. You must jump on the Bandwagon of Outrage or be trampled underneath it.

In a word, #MeToo is about vengeance. It is about feminists evening the score with the dreaded patriarchy. It is not about truth, justice, fairness, or anything remotely along those lines.

And so it should be opposed.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

After Displaying His Collaboration Credentials, Mitt Romney Is Urged by Liberals to Run for President

Barely had Mitt Romney penned an anti-Trump op-ed for the Washington Post than one Amy Davidson Sorkin writes a piece in The New Yorker almost begging the Utah Senator to make a run for the White House:

Romney Vs. Trump: If Utah's Senator Is Serious, He Should Be Running for President
Are Mitt Romney and other Trump critics in the G.O.P. going to fight for American values or engage in quixotic battles to teach the President better manners? 
(Update: Thanks for the Instalink, Stephen…)

As Jon Gabriel writes, Don’t Be a Flake, Mitt:
Romney should keep a tally in his day planner: Every criticism of Trump merits at least 25 criticisms of the braying donkeys trying to push socialism on America. If he’s unwilling to take the fight to the left, there’s no reason for anyone on the right to support him.
Adds Ed Driscoll:
See also: Romney’s 2012 campaign.
• Related: Comparing Mitt Romney to Adolf Hitler in 2012

• Democrats rising to the "Mantle of the Office":
Calling Republicans "Hitler" since… the 1940s (!)

• Back in 2012, Newsweek Columnist Likened a Republican candidate's wife (!)
— the "Insufferable" Ann Romney — to Hitler, Stalin (thanks to Ed Driscoll)

Monday, January 07, 2019

Singing La Marseillaise, a Yellow Vest Protester Marches Up the Middle of the Champs-Elysées

Singing La Marseillaise, a yellow vest protester marches up the middle of the Champs-Elysées, next to Marianne. (Update: Merci pour le lien Instapundit.)

In the meantime, my post on How Fake News Has Misrepresented the Yellow Vest Revolt in France has been fully updated, markedly expanded, and, in the process, thoroughly rewritten, for an in-depth piece in the January 2019 issue of the New English Review entitled THE TRUTH ABOUT FRANCE'S YELLOW VESTS.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

The New English Review Presents an In-Depth Article on the Truth About France's Yellow Vests

Sporting an Egon Schiele painting, my post on How Fake News Has Misrepresented the Yellow Vest Revolt in France has been fully updated, markedly expanded, and, in the process, thoroughly rewritten, for an in-depth piece in the January 2019 issue of the New English Review entitled THE TRUTH ABOUT FRANCE'S YELLOW VESTS (merci pour le Instalink, Glenn Reynolds).