Decline and Fall, ctd.


Two items caught my attention yesterday. They are seemingly unrelated. But they both signify a serious sickness in the heart of our society.

The first item was published at Business Insider. One of its writers, you see, had been assaulted and had his property destroyed. His crime? Wearing Google Glass in “the wrong part of San Francisco.” While he was first upset at the action—these are, after all, expensive pieces of technology—he soon came to understand that he had it coming. He was wearing the wrong item of clothing in the wrong part of town, so he deserved to get raped assaulted. Here’s Kyle Russell, explaining in his own words why victim-blaming is totally cool on this issue:

While I may not be a resident of San Francisco — I live across the Bay in Berkeley, where rent is affordable — or a wealthy young software engineer, I’ve worked in the city for three years. I’d like to live and work in or near San Francisco for the foreseeable future.

Unfortunately, anything associated with Google has come to represent gentrification in the city, from the buses that take young software engineers to their corporate campuses in Silicon Valley to Google Glass. This is especially true in areas where gentrification and income inequality have become points of conflict in the community.

People are being evicted or priced out of their homes. What’s the difference between losing your home and having property destroyed?

Well, there’s a pretty huge difference, involving natural rights related to one’s ownership of property and the legal system’s treatment of renters vs. owners and the fact that no one has the right to physically assault you on the streets of a major American city because he may or may not believe in some vague ideology that permits such action.

But hey! “Gentrification” and “income inequality” and other buzzwords! Those totally trump our society’s interest in upholding little things like “property rights” or “ensuring that citizens aren’t subjected to random violence by street rats.”

The second item was a write up of the latest episode of HBO’s Game of Thrones. (Spoilers ahead for the entirety of the series up to the second episode of the fourth season.)

Liberal Media Inflates Hillary Clinton’s Achievements Yet Again

Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

You may have seen reports yesterday that Hillary Clinton “dodged” a shoe throw at her during a speech in Las Vegas. Here’s the New York Daily News: ”Hillary Clinton dodges a shoe thrown at her while giving Las Vegas speech.” Here’s the Chicago Tribune: “Hillary Clinton dodges shoe during Las Vegas speech.” Here’s E! online: “Hillary Clinton Dodges Shoe Thrown by Woman in Las Vegas—Watch Now!” Indeed, let us watch now:

‘Dom Hemingway’ Review

Jude Law in Dom Hemingway / AP

It’s easy to understand why an actor would be attracted to a movie like Dom Hemingway. It’s filled with showy speeches and outrageous dialogue, the sort of things a thespian can really chew on if they’re so inclined.

Sean Eldridge Plays Loose with the Facts

Sean Eldridge poses for photo with husband and poke button pioneer (AP)

As the self-appointed Free Beacon fact checker, I wanted to highlight a recent statement by Sean Eldridge, a congressional candidate hoping to use the fortune of his husband, the Facebook poke-button visionary and dead-tree publishing magnate Chris Hughes, to purchase a seat in Congress.

Eldridge recently ducked a reporter from THE POLITICO who was working on a profile of his effort to buy New York’s 19th District’s seat in Congress. When asked about the kerfuffle by a New York blogger, Eldridge reportedly snarked, “We’re not really concerned with a D.C.-based blog.” (Emphasis mine.)

As a fact checker—a checker of facts, a factual checker of statements, if you will—I was stunned to see that Eldridge had managed to make two separate factual errors in the space of three short words! Let’s break them down one at a time.

Rand Paul: Truther or Chomskyite?

Rand Paul / AP

My tongue-in-cheek post yesterday on Rand Paul and 9/11 Truthers inspired a pair of intriguing responses. The first, which I noted in the update, was the finger-wagging from Rand Paul senior adviser Doug Stafford who insisted that Sen. Paul totes believes that terrorists carried out the attacks and that the invasion of Afghanistan was okay, so shut up. It’s worth noting that, by omission, Stafford’s comment seems to confirm that his boss also believes that Vice President Dick Cheney pushed for the invasion of Iraq in order to enrich his friends at Halliburton.

As I noted in the original post, I don’t think Rand Paul is a 9/11 Truther. I simply find it amusing to remind people just how many Truthers are also big fans of his dad, Ron Paul.* And I don’t think it’s unreasonable to think that he’s subtly courting a certain segment of that population when he invokes Truther boogeymen like Halliburton (see: here and here and here, for starters) when discussing the Iraq War. As I said: dog whistles and such.

Of course, there is another segment of the vote the supposedly conservative senator from Kentucky could be courting, and that’s the far left. The other amusing response to my post yesterday came from super serial types on the left who insisted that their conspiracy theory about Cheney and Halliburton and war profiteering has nothing whatsoever to do with the conspiracy theories that the 9/11 Truthers believe in. As BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith noted in response to my post,

Courting the Truther Vote

Rand Paul's target demo, probably (via flickr user  abiodork)

There are two kinds of 9/11 Truthers, broadly speaking.* There’s the “made it happen on purpose” (MIHOP) variety—the folks who think 9/11 was a “false flag” in which American politicians commanded an attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. Then there’s the “let it happen on purpose” (LIHOP) variety. These are the far more …

The Man in Black


Lots of spoilers for Captain America: The Winter Soldier below. If you’re interested in a discussion of the film but don’t want a bunch of plot points given away, check out my review.

‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Review

A $170 million ’70s-style paranoid thriller
Captain America: The Winter Soldier

There’s a moment in Captain America: The Winter Soldier when Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) stands in a glass elevator, waiting for it to descend. He has just left a meeting with Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford), a higher up at SHIELD, the Marvel cinematic universe’s intelligence and covert ops outfit. The night before, an ally of Rogers had told him to trust no one shortly after taking three rounds from a sniper’s rifle.

The Illiberal Left

Class Enemies will not be tolerated! (via wikimedia)

Over at the Nation, Michelle Goldberg uses the #CancelColbert kerfuffle to comment on the rise of what she calls the anti-liberal left. Here’s Goldberg:

It’s increasingly clear that we are entering a new era of political correctness. Recently, we’ve seen the calls to #CancelColbert because of something outrageous said by Stephen Colbert’s blowhard alter ego, who has been saying outrageous things regularly for nine years. Then there’s the sudden demand for “trigger warnings” on college syllabi, meant to protect students from encountering ideas or images that may traumatize them; an Oberlin facultydocument even suggests jettisoning “triggering material when it does not contribute directly to the course learning goals.” At Wellesley, students have petitioned to have an outdoor statue of a lifelike sleepwalking man removed because it was causing them “undue stress.” As I wrote in The Nation, there’s pressure in some circles not to use the word “vagina” in connection with reproductive rights, lest it offend trans people. …

At times like this, politics contract. On the surface, the rhetoric appears more ambitious and utopian than ever—witness, for example, the apparently sincere claim by Suey Park, creator of the #CancelColbert hashtag, that Twitter activists intend to “dismantle the state.” But at the same time, activism becomes less about winning converts and changing the world and more about creating protected enclaves and policing speech.

Goldberg is not alone the only leftist concerned about such ideas. Freddie deBoer recently asked “is the social justice left abandoning free speech?” Like Goldberg, he also seems to be concerned by the fact that activists are more interested in scoring points and stifling debate than they are in winning converts to whichever cause they happen to support at any given moment. As if to prove Goldberg and deBoer’s concerns are completely and utterly reasonable, Adam Weinstein last week suggested it was time to start imprisoning people who disagree with him about climate change.

There is this odd idea on the left—one that Goldberg shares, apparently—that “political correctness,” as a concept, is something that kind of died out in the mid-1990s.