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Mark Hemingway: Why Liberals Have Such A Hard Time With Monstrous Men And Their Art

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While it’s not a universal truism, more often than not, bad morals make for bad art, and the unwillingness to say so produces even worse criticism.

Specifically, there’s no getting around Allen’s celebrated film “Manhattan.” Allen’s character in the film dates a 17 year-old Mariel Hemingway, as if an older man having a sexual relationship with a teenager is a perfectly normal thing to do. It certainly doesn’t seem so normal when you consider that Allen later started dating, and eventually married, the adopted teenage daughter of his then-wife Mia Farrow.

[Read the full story here, at thefederalist.com]

Dederer’s essay is worth reading for the thoughtful and self-aware things she has to say. Specifically, the downfall of others is always an invitation to look inward at our own flaws. “Even in the midst of my righteous indignation when I b-tch about Woody and Soon-Yi, I know that, on some level, I’m not an entirely upstanding citizen myself,” she writes. However, Dederer’s essay also unintentionally reveals a great many troubling blind spots about the explicitly political nature of the relationship that liberal America has with popular entertainment.

The False Choice of Bad Habits Justifying Good Art

By way of a discursive explanation, there’s this Bill Hicks bit — he can be a creative, even brilliant comedian, but I used to like Hicks a lot more when I was in high school and immature enough to think that being transgressive and angry passed for funny — about how if you had a problem with drug use you should probably just burn your record collection because drug use was so inspirational for so many musicians. The explicit point here was to force acceptance of the idea drug use is a good thing to some extent. Read the rest of this entry »

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Mark Hemingway: Scandals Aplenty

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The media just pretended they didn’t exist.

Mark Hemingway writes: As achievements go, this would be one in which a modern president could take pride. But in making the claim for himself, Obama proves he cannot even accurately describe the events of his presidency. His tenure saw an astounding number of scandals: Benghazi, Fast and Furious gunrunning, Solyndra and green energy subsidies for campaign donors, cash for Iranian hostages, IRS targeting of conservative groups, spying on journalists, Hillary Clinton’s private email server, the Veterans Administration disaster, trading deserter Bowe Bergdahl for five Taliban leaders held in Guantánamo, droning American citizens without due process, and firing inspector general Gerald Walpin for investigating an Obama crony who was abusing federal programs. And that list isn’t exhaustive.

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The media have certainly tried their best to buttress Obama’s claim to have presided over a scandal-free administration—starting long before he even made it. In 2014, New Yorker editor and Obama biographer David Remnick told the (skeptical) host of PBS’s Charlie Rose that the president had already racked up “huge” achievements. On his list: “The fact that there’s been no scandal, major scandal, in this administration, which is a rare thing in an administration.”

[Read the full story here, at The Weekly Standard]

Remnick was hardly alone. Veteran journalist Jonathan Alter wrote a column for Bloomberg back in 2011 headlined “The Obama Miracle, a White House Free of Scandal.” More recently, Glenn Thrush, then a Politico reporter, tweeted, “As Obama talks up legacy on campaign trail important to note he’s had best/least scandal-scarred 2nd term since FDR.” Even conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks last year declared the Obama administration “remarkably scandal-free.”

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Remnick’s remark is particularly notable for how it presaged White House talking points. Obama’s chief campaign strategist David Axelrod was asked at the University of Chicago in 2015 about the administration’s broken promise to bar lobbyists from working for it. Axelrod admitted things hadn’t been “pristine” but said, “I’m proud of the fact that, basically, you’ve had an administration that’s been in place for six years in which there hasn’t been a major scandal.”

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As Noah Rothman observed in Commentary, “The qualifier ‘major’ lays the burden on shoulders of the press to define what constitutes a serious scandal, and political media had thus far reliably covered the administration’s ethical lapses as merely the peculiar obsessions of addlebrained conservatives.”

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So what would constitute a “major” scandal? Would it involve, say, dead bodies? The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives gave thousands of guns to Mexican drug cartels; they used some of them to kill dozens of people, including American border patrol agent Brian Terry. When Congress tried to investigate why the ATF gave away so many guns and failed to track them, the Department of Justice engaged in unprecedented stonewalling.

The department withheld 92 percent of the documents requested and forbade 48 relevant employees from speaking to congressional investigators. Attorney General Eric Holder was ultimately held in contempt of Congress, with 17 Democrats supporting the measure. An explanation for why the ATF gave thousands of guns to violent criminals has yet to emerge—but we are to understand that this is not a “major” scandal. Read the rest of this entry »


China’s Creepy New Form of Oppression

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‘Authoritarianism, Gamified’

China’s Communist government is rolling out a plan to assign everyone in the country “citizenship scores.” According to the ACLU, “China appears to be leveraging all the tools of the information age—electronic purchasing data, social networks, algorithmic sorting—to construct the ultimate tool of social control. It is, as one commentator put it, ‘authoritarianism, gamified.’ ”

“Expressing the wrong opinion—or merely having friends who express the wrong opinion—will hurt your score. The higher your score, the more privileges the government will grant you.”

In the system, everyone is measured by a score ranging from 350 to 950, and that score is linked to a national ID card. In addition to measuring your financial credit, it will also measure political compliance. Expressing the wrong opinion—or merely having friends who express the wrong opinion—will hurt your score. The higher your score, the more privileges the government will grant you.

“When it comes to weaponizing oppression, even the Communist Chinese now see the value of private enterprise. That’s something to keep in mind when American politicians inevitably start agitating to enlist Apple or Google in launching some grand political initiative.”

This horrifying plan is to be administered by Alibaba and Tencent, companies that run much of China’s approved social networks and already have tremendous stores of data about what Chinese citizens are saying. When it comes to weaponizing oppression, even the Communist Chinese now see the value of private enterprise. That’s something to keep in mind when American politicians inevitably start agitating to enlist Apple or Google in launching some grand political initiative. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] White House: ‘After the Tantrum, Obama Went Ahead Decided it was OK to Let the Kid Have Nuclear Weapons.’

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Susan Rice: Diplomat Extraordinaire

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