URLs du Jour


  • Clamourous mannequins. I swear, that's the official caption of our Getty image du jour:

    Toronto, Ontario, Canada- January 14, 2013. Window display on Danforth Avenue in East end of Toronto. Clamorous mannequins set up in a scene, style of Oscar's film awards ceremony in Hollywood.

    Yes, it's nine years old, and Canadian, and the caption stops making sense somewhere along the line, but still: can you think of a better description of the Oscars than "clamourous mannequins"?

    I also noticed dueling headlines:

    Variety: 2022 Oscar Ratings: 16.6 Million Viewers, Up 58% From Last Year.

    Deadline: Oscar Viewership Hits Final 2022 Figure Of 16.6M, Still 2nd Lowest Ever.

    Maybe viewership will improve next year, with a few million people tuning in (wondering if|hoping that) Blake Lively will rush the stage to punch out Ellen DeGeneres for making a joke about Ryan Reynolds.

  • Can't you see that man is a nit? Jonah Goldberg says we're all in big trouble When Gaffes Become Policy.

    From suggesting the 2022 midterm election results would be illegitimate if his election reforms failed to pass, to implying that a “minor incursion” into Ukraine by Russia wouldn’t be that big a deal, there are now dozens of examples of the administration retconning Biden’s verbal stumbles. This pattern hit a new low Monday, when Biden—using prepared talking points captured by photographers—insisted, “I'm not walking anything back.” Which made his aides' various walk-backs seem even odder.

    But what’s more worrisome than denying the reality of Biden’s verbal mistakes is making his verbal mistakes reality.

    For instance, initially the White House was rightly careful to not call Putin a war criminal, not because he isn’t one—he obviously is—but because saying so has profound policy implications. The policy suddenly changed when Biden responded off the cuff to a shouted question from a reporter, saying, “I think he is a war criminal.”

    At first, Psaki said Biden was merely “speaking from his heart.” But soon it became the administration’s official position.

    I’m open to that position, but on this and many other issues, I’d like America’s policies to be informed by something more deliberate and considered than a gaffe.

    No matter how entertaining Biden's flubs and deranged ravings can be, it might be better for the country if he were somehow put on a ten-second delay. Like, y'know, the Oscars.

    [Don't recognize the headline reference? Here you go, bunkie.]

  • It's a travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of two mockeries of a sham. And, as Kevin D. Williamson explains: Biden Russia Regime-Change Talk Worse Than a Gaffe.

    “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”

    Joe Biden said it about Vladimir Putin. Two seconds later, Joe Biden’s staff members were no doubt thinking it about Joe Biden.

    Politics, particularly on the campaign side, is full of people who excel at verbal cleverness, and, as a result, it is full of people who believe that verbal cleverness is the height of intelligence. Cleverness is overrated. But there is a big difference between a policy of working toward “regime change” in Russia and a policy of talking about working toward regime change in Russia. Words matter, and the words of the president of the United States of America matter a great deal.

    Biden’s people were, almost immediately, engaged in that great Washington cliché: “walking back the president’s remarks.” Biden’s people do more walking back than Younger Bear.

    What President Biden really seems to have in mind is not so much regime change as regime decapitation — getting rid of Vladimir Putin but leaving the rest of the Moscow machinery in place, getting rid of one caudillo in the hope that the next one will be better inclined toward Washington, or, if not more malleable, at least less adventurous.

    Hey, maybe. But it's far from a guarantee. KDW notes that Russia (and before that, the USSR) has long been a state full of "gangsterism and oligarchism." Getting rid of the current guy at the top won't solve that chronic problem.

    [Youngsters, the headline reference is from way back when Woody Allen made funnier movies. Boy, we're really doing the movie thing today, aren't we?]

  • Fear is the mind-killer. Nevertheless, some people need to be afraid of something. For them, Bjørn Lomborg has some advice: Be Afraid of Nuclear War, Not Climate Change

    Weeks before thermobaric rockets rained down on Ukraine, the chattering classes at the World Economic Forum declared “climate action failure” the biggest global risk for the coming decade. On the eve of war, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry fretted about the “massive emissions consequences” of Russian invasion and worried that the world might forget about the risks of climate change if fighting broke out. Amid the conflict and the many other challenges facing the globe right now, like inflation and food price hikes, the global elite has an unhealthy obsession with climate change.

    This fixation has had three important consequences. First, it has distracted the Western world from real geopolitical threats. Russia’s invasion should be a wake-up call that war is still a serious danger that requires democratic nations’ attention. But a month into the war in Ukraine, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres—whose organization’s main purpose is ensuring world peace—was focused instead on “climate catastrophe,” warning that fossil-fuel addiction will bring “mutually assured destruction.” His comments come at a time when nuclear weapons are posing the biggest risk of literal mutually assured destruction in half a century.

    You can click over for Consequences two and three, but I'll summarize: the money currently spent on "climate policies" undermines future prosperity in both developed countries and the poorest countries.

    Bjørn's bottom line: "A world scared witless doesn’t make smart decisions."

    [Headline reference: Yes, another movie.]

  • Also, don't stop thinking about tomorrow. Good advice at the Daily Beast from Komi T. German and Greg Lukianoff: Don't Stop Using the Term ‘Cancel Culture’. Yes, the term has been sloppily misapplied and overused. But:

    But just because the term has been grossly overused doesn’t mean we should give up on its popularly understood definition—which aptly describes a real (and growing) problem. This is the measurable uptick, since around 2014, of campaigns to get people fired, disinvited, deplatformed, or otherwise punished for speech that is—or would be—protected by First Amendment standards. That’s “cancel culture.”

    We say “would be” because the First Amendment does not apply to private companies. So, while the NFL was free to punish Colin Kaepernick, and The View was free to suspend Whoopi Goldberg, these are still examples of cancel culture under our definition, because the subjects of each controversy engaged in expression that “would be” protected, were the First Amendment standard to apply.

    What happened to Ilya Shapiro, David Shor, and Kathy Griffin? Cancel culture.

    What happened to Andrew Cuomo, Jeff Zucker, Harvey Weinstein, Jan. 6 rioters, and the Russian military? Not cancel culture, despite their cries to the contrary.

    German and Lukianoff see plenty of cancelling misbehavior on "both sides."

    [And the headline reference is not a movie.]