America reached new depths of depravity this year — but just wait for 2014 to outdo it.
All things considered, it was a year without shame.
Rich Lowry writes: It was the year that Miley Cyrus French-kissed a sledgehammer in the music video for her song “Wrecking Ball,” and cavorted naked on said wrecking ball. The former Disney star popularized the act of twerking in a performance at the MTV Video Music Awards that was so luridly infantile, it wasn’t outrageous so much as pathetic. Yet it worked. It gained her at least another 15 minutes of fame and probably more, to have people pay attention to other insipid things she might do, usually half-clothed. Cyrus made us yearn for the good taste and restraint of the era of Lady Gaga, not to mention the golden age of classic Britney Spears.
It was the year the president of the United States posed in a selfie with other foreign leaders at a memorial service for Nelson Mandela. He evidently had a grand time, but made us nostalgic for the period before our presidents posed in selfies with other heads of state, i.e., the long stretch of American history ending on December 9, 2013.
It was the year Anthony Weiner admitted in the midst of his New York City mayoral campaign that he had continued to sext after resigning from Congress for sexting. Under the delightfully absurd alias “Carlos Danger,” he had sent pictures of his private parts to a 22-year-old woman, whose notoriety instantly launched her career in adult film and as a spokesmodel for an adultery-facilitating website. Weiner made us fondly recall the self-effacing modesty of past New York City politicians like Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani.
I had planned to do a more elaborate year-end round up, with more commentary, but here we are, at the end of 2013. What do these items have in common? Well, guns, public nudity, sex, public nudity, sex, violence, glamor, politics, guns, and… politics. Sex and violence are popular, yeah? So it seems. Drum roll! Counting down from ten, here are this year’s top ten stories:
Also, we picked up a little star, courtesy of blogontheedgeoftheuniverse, thanks!
Thanks to our readers, and commenters, and a special welcome to new Tumblr followers, and new WordPress subscribers, thanks for making 2013 a year of explosive, unexpected growth for punditfromanotherplanet. More fun to come in 2014!
Paul Caron‘s TaxProf Blog turns up this, from NPR: Diallo Shabazz was a student at the University of Wisconsin in 2000 when he stopped by the admissions office. “One of the admissions counselors walked up to me, and said, ‘Diallo, did you see yourself in the admissions booklet? Actually, you’re on the cover this year,’ ” Shabazz says.
The photo was a shot of students at a football game — but Shabazz had never been to a football game. “So I flipped back, and that’s when I saw my head cut off and kind of pasted onto the front cover of the admissions booklet,” he says.
This Photoshopped image went viral and became a classic example of how colleges miss the mark on diversity. Wisconsin stressed that it was just one person’s bad choice, but Shabazz sees it as part of a bigger problem.
Kevin Glass reports: The Brookings Institution‘s Public Religion Research Institute conducts what they call the “American Values Survey,” and this year have focused particularly on how libertarians fit into the American political fabric. Libertarians are traditionally thought of as being “on the right” and presumed to be most accurately represented, of the two major parties, by the Republican Party.
But is that really true?
PRRI finds that libertarians constitute a very small segment of the GOP and have difficulty making common cause with the other ideological strains of the Republican Party. Specifically, libertarians are repelled by the religious right, which still makes up a significan portion of the conservative movement.
As Brookings’ Ross Tilchin writes:
Charles Krauthammer said on the Special Report that the main purpose of the New York Times Benghazi report, that claimed al-Qaeda was not involved in the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attack, was to defend Democrats.
The Times editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, said that Republicans are attacking the story out of fear of Hillary Clinton and her potential 2016 presidential run. Krauthammer responded saying that Rosenthal’s defensiveness shows that the reason the Times invested so much time in to the story and put it on the front page was “to protect the Democrats, to deflect the issue, and to protect Hillary who is exposed on this issue.”
“It is obviously a political move,” Krauthammer said.
Big Labor wins court battle in Washington State, and now employers in SeaTac, Washington wil have to pay transportation and hotel workers $15 an hour.
The minimum wage was $9.32, but with the new ruling, employers will look to cut jobs, and some are even saying that they will close up shop, because they won’t be able to pay the 60 percent increase in worker pay.
Backers of the $15 minimum wage vow to appeal the ruling up the state Supreme Court. One of the biggest supporters is Kshama Sawant, a socialist who also won her election to the Seattle City Council. She plans on making Seattle the next city to have a $15 minimum wage.
Savor this little gem, from John Nolte: Between 10pm Christmas Eve and 9am Christmas morning, Texas television station TXA21 broadcast a burning Yule log accompanied by Christmas music. Throughout its run, a large number of viewers tuned in to the virtual fireplace. During its final 30 minutes, an average of 28,405 viewers chose to watch a burning log over everything else, which beat the last 15 minutes of “CBS This Morning” on CBS11.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC
BERLIN (Reuters) – Madeline Chambers writes: An art historian has found two art works stolen by the Nazis inside Germany’s parliament, a newspaper reported on Monday, in a new embarrassment for authorities after a huge stash of looted art came to light last month.
The Bundestag, in a statement issued after the report in Bild newspaper, said an art historian was reviewing two “suspicious cases”, but a spokesman would not confirm the find.
The art historian’s investigations into the German parliament’s art collection, which began in 2012, were continuing, the Bundestag spokesman said.
“It is unclear when there will be a result to the investigations,” he said.
Last month German authorities revealed that a trove of Nazi-looted art, valued at 1 billion euros ($1.38 billion), had been found in a Munich apartment.
Jim Goad writes: As someone who’s offended by nothing but annoyed by everyone, I found no shortage of people this past year to stoke the angry embers of my irascible soul. Try as I may to shield my eyes from the countless blinding petty indignities and massive vexations of everyday existence, each sunrise seemed to drop a new human being on my doorstep to annoy me.
I tend to focus on the negative at the expense of everything else, so when I looked back over the past year, I immediately began thinking of people who annoyed me. It was hard to winnow down my list to only 13 selections. They are ranked in ascending levels of annoyance. Although I bear no personal ill will toward any of these people, nor do I engage in any violent fantasies about them, it would not be untrue to say that I would not cry if, say, any of them were to be struck dead by a train in the coming New Year.
If you understand the basic principles behind the butterfly effect, you would be forced to agree with me that these are all people who, each in their own way, have made life a little harder for all of us this year. Through their very existence, they force you and I to suffer. Damn them. Damn them all to hell!
13. UNNAMED 64-YEAR-OLD SOUTH CAROLINIAN STABBING VICTIM AND FAN OF EAGLES MUSIC
In September a rough, beaten-up-looking South Carolina woman named Vernett Bader was arrested after allegedly slashing her housemate with a 14-inch serrated bread knife. Her victim, an unnamed 64-year-old man, had allegedly told her to “shut up” after she complained that he’d been playing too much music by the classic rock band Eagles. (It can never be repeated enough, if only to ratchet up the annoyance factor, that the band is not called The Eagles—they are simply random, unspecified Eagles.) And refusing to quit blasting your stupid, overplayed Eagles music when your torn-and-frayed female housemate requests that you do so qualifies as annoying enough to warrant being stabbed. He should be grateful she didn’t kill him.
12. UNNAMED SHRIEKING CANADIAN FEMINIST
Back in April, a group of typically sincere and comically misguided men’s-rights activists was trying to peaceably air its views at the University of Toronto when a chanting pack of progressive albino twat-monkeys pulled the fire alarm and disrupted the event. Outside the building, a plump harpy with her hair dyed the color of menstrual blood that had been exposed to nuclear radiation barked and howled and belittled the persistently peaceable and earnest MRAs in a breathtakingly hostile videotaped rant that singlehandedly managed to justify every misogynist stereotype throughout world history. After the video became viral, she was apparently harassed and threatened into hiding, and I can only hope that wherever she’s hiding, there’s no man there for her to yell at.
11. DAVID OLANDER
Would any sane person think that a dry batch of asparagus is evidence of systemic racism? Of course not, but we’re living in racially insane times. The award for the year’s pettiest racial complaint goes to David Olander, a member of the human relations commission in University City, MO. After espying a relatively desiccated bunch of asparagus at a Schnucks grocery store in a predominantly black neighborhood, Olander says he remembered that the asparagus at a Schnucks in a mostly white neighborhood was much fresher, moister, and more vibrant. Olander fired off a letter of racial grievance to Scott Schnuck of Schnucks, which I only mention so I can repeat the phrase “Scott Schnuck of Schnucks.”
Take the Grey Lady’s much-ballyhooed story with a heavy dose of skepticism
Elliott Abrams writes: The division of the “Hillary for President” campaign known as the New York Timesissued a lengthy white paper on Sunday, entitled “A Deadly Mix In Benghazi.” This article, the paper explained, was based on “months of investigation by The New York Times, centered on extensive interviews with Libyans in Benghazi who had direct knowledge of the attack there . . . ”
In other words, the article is centered on interviews with extremists and terrorists, whose words are taken as gospel. That they may have changed their stories, or be putting forth stories for their own benefit rather than because the new stories are true, is a subtlety beyond the Times.
Jim Huffman writes: Earlier this month, the Nonhuman Rights Project filed a habeas corpus petition in New York’s Fulton County Court seeking the release of Tommy, a chimpanzee “held captive in a cage in a shed at a used trailer lot in Gloversville.” On Tuesday a similar petition was filed in Niagara Falls on behalf of Kiko, a deaf chimpanzee living in a private home. A third petition was filed Thursday seeking the release of chimpanzees Hercules and Leo who are in the possession of a research center at Stony Brook University.
A writ of habeas corpus is an order to show legal cause for holding a person captive. Heretofore, writs have only issued for human captives. If successful, the New York lawsuits would extend the scope of the writ to an undefined array of nonhuman creatures.
Indiscriminate charges of racism do more harm than good, as Martin Luther King well knew
John Fund writes: Would America be better off if the Outrage Industry went on a diet for New Year’s?
We just spent much of December quacking and arguing way too much about the views of Phil Robertson, one of the stars of the Duck Dynasty reality-TV series. Most of the attention focused on Robertson’s harsh, mean-spirited comments about gays and on the subsequent, short-lived decision of the cable network A&E to suspend him. But people saved plenty of ire for his comments, offered in an interview with GQ magazine, that when he grew up in Louisiana in the 1950s he never saw “the mistreatment of any black person” and that African Americans in that era didn’t have complaints about white people.
That’s an invitation to call Phil naïve, blind, or a liar. But such descriptions weren’t enough for Jesse Jackson, who said: “These statements uttered by Robertson are more offensive than the bus driver in Montgomery, Alabama, more than 59 years ago. At least the bus driver, who ordered Rosa Parks to surrender her seat to a white person, was following state law. Robertson’s statements were uttered freely and openly without cover of the law, within a context of what he seemed to believe was ‘white privilege.’” He wasn’t the only prominent liberal to go way over the top. MSNBC’s Michael Eric Dyson said Robertson and Duck Dynasty were “part of a majority-white supremacist culture.” Read the rest of this entry »
h/t The Greenroom
Timothy P. Carney writes: Washington, they say, is Hollywood for ugly people. It’s also debate club for the logically impaired. The past year included its share of fallacies, sophistries, oversimplifications and utter absurdities.
But a few prominent arguments committed the worst offenses against rational thought. Below are the three worst arguments made in Washington in 2013. These weren’t illogical brain freezes or odd beliefs spouted by backbenchers. These arguments were deliberately devised, promulgated and repeated by prominent politicians, which makes them all the more embarrassing.
“If we can save only one life…”
The demagoguery started early in 2013, as Democrats tried to push gun-control laws in the wake of the December 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Conn. The White House argued for gun restrictions using a litany of facile talking points, most absurdly this gem by President Obama: “If there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try.”
Vice President Joe Biden echoed the line: “As the president said, if your actions result in only saving one life, they’re worth taking.” White House spokesman Jay Carney repeated the mantra: “If even one child’s life can be saved by the actions we take here in Washington, we must take those actions.”
It sounds nice — in a high school Model Congress sort of way — that we ought to take any action that would save one child’s life. But we all know policies have costs, in terms of freedom, unintended consequences and using up enforcement resources. Obama’s “just one child” argument pretends his gun control proposals have no costs.
Outlawing party balloons would save the handful of kids who choke to death on them. Outlawing swimming pools would save hundreds of children who drown in them every year. A national speed limit of 10 mph would spare untold numbers of Americans who die in automobile accidents. Why didn’t Obama push these laws in 2013?
The data suggest that for every life saved by gun control laws, some lives are lost. But Obama wanted Americans to forget about the people unable to defend themselves and think only of the intended consequences of his law.
“Defund it or you’re for it…”
The Tea Party’s central mistake in the government shutdown debate was confusing differences in tactics for differences. Utah Republican Mike Lee put this mistaken view most succinctly on the Senate floor: “Defund it or own it. If you fund it, you’re for it.”
Nearly 70 years later, the two are becoming friends
Samantha Grossman reports: Marsha Kreuzman, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor who narrowly escaped death at an Austrian concentration camp, has spent the majority of her life searching for the American soldier who saved her. Nearly seven decades later, she has finally met him, the Star-Ledger reports.
Kreuzman, who lost her mother, father and brother in the Holocaust, remembered a man picking up her emaciated body and liberating her — but beyond that, she had no further details about his identity.
“I wanted to kiss his hand and thank him,” Kreuzman told the Star-Ledger. “From the first day I was liberated, I wanted to thank them, but I didn’t know who to thank.”
Adam Housley reports: Fifteen months after the Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi which killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans, the narrative of the attack continues to be shaped, and reshaped, by politicians and the press.
But a New York Times report published over the weekend has angered sources who were on the ground that night. Those sources, who continue to face threats of losing their jobs, sharply challenged the Times’ findings that there was no involvement from Al Qaeda or any other international terror group and that an anti-Islam film played a role in inciting the initial wave of attacks.
“It was a coordinated attack. It is completely false to say anything else. … It is completely a lie,” one witness to the attack told Fox News.
The controversial Times report has stirred a community that normally remains out of sight and wrestles with how to reveal the truth, without revealing classified information.
Fox News has learned that the attack on the consulate started with fighters assembling to conduct an assault.
At least 15 people have been killed in a trolley bus blast in Volgograd, emergency services report, only a day after a suicide bombing ripped through the city’s railway station, killing 17.
Monday, December 30
“The emergency services have reacted very swiftly. All those injured have been taken to hospitals, as their identities are being determined,” he said.
05:37 GMT: According to witness reports to ITAR-TASS, there were many students on the bus.
“There was a loud ‘pop’, then a flash, everything was enveloped in smoke,” one female witness said, describing the sudden realization.
05:34 GMT: The Investigative Committee now puts the number of injured at 15.
05:30 GMT: In describing the character of the blast, ITAR-TASS law enforcement sources have said that it appears to be a suicide attack, “judging from the body fragments characteristic of such a bombing.”