WOOF! Watchdogs of Our Freedom

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In which WOOF's senior editor opines excursively just because he can; est. on August 14, 2017 at 10:41 pm

In which WOOF’s editor in chief, Old Bugler, expresses his up-to-the-minute-if-frustratingly-excursive views on nothing but 100% guaranteed genuine news, mostly in the annoyingly-officious third-person, as befits his station!                                      ________________________________________

  “The Caitlyn in the Hat Incident”

Your editor recalls a day in which Bruce Jenner adorned the fronts of Wheaties boxes, which is merely to say that your editor is ancient of days. A while ago, Emily Yahr of the subversive Washington Post wrote that “To understand the Bruce Jenner of today, you must understand the Kardashians. And sometimes, Bruce Jenner doesn’t even understand the Kardashians.” Your humble editor admits not only that he does not understand the Kardashians, but that until recently he thought they were an alien race on one of those vapid etiolations of Star Trek—but evidently not.  It transpires that Jenner, back in his disco-era Wheaties-box days, married into the Kardashian clan. The exact Kardashian involved appears to be named Kris.

A Cardassian–which turns out to be completely aside from Kardashians.

Old Bugler will now digress into one of those apostrophes that WOOF’s hipper, more commercially-minded proponents warn us about, insofar as they bore millennials and numb the concentration of even their more literary elders; but your editor is of an age at which self-indulgence occasionally triumphs over practicality. He will therefore include here the fact that he has long assumed Bruce Jenner’s wife was named Patti. To further digress, he will go so far as to blame this evident misapprehension on recording artist Warren Zevon (who, together with David Blue, may be fairly considered among the most unfairly pretermitted talents of art rock). In his sardonic opus The Indifference of Heaven, Zevon croons:

They say “Better days are near”
They tell us “These are the good times”
But they don’t live around here
Billy and Christie don’t–
Bruce and Patti don’t–
They don’t live around here.

Looking for Patti

Obviously, at least to your editor, the Billy and Christie reference is to singer Billy Joel and his wife, the once famous model Christie Brinkley, daughter of David Brinkley—last of the major networks’ quasi-objective newscasters. However, Old Bugler’s longstanding assumption that “Bruce and Patti” referred to Bruce Jenner and his wife is plainly confuted by the fact that Jenner’s wife turns out to be Kris Kardashian. Was he married previously? Your editor dispatched Research Elf Ernie to check on the matter. Apparently, Mr. Jenner was previously married to a Chrystie (no relation to the one married to Billy Joel), and a Linda—but, alas, never to a Patti. Patti, according to Research Elf Ernie, refers to the bride of Bruce Springsteen. Oops.  And even more disappointingly, Kris Kardashian (who was evidently named Houghton prior to converting) divorced Bruce/Caitlyn back in 2015, citing irreconcilable differences. It would be churlish, we suspect, to remark that burgeoning similarities may have proved equally irreconcilable.

Currently worth thousands on eBay! Imagine what we could get for our Wild Bill Hickok/Guy Madison Sugar Pops box!

Yahr goes on to write that “Long before he was sucked into the Kardashian vortex, [which sounds harrowing, we think] Jenner lived his life for the cameras. It was how the world watched him triumph in the punishing multi-skill Olympic sport, [the decathlon] taking a victory lap while exhausted rivals writhed in pain. It was how he made a living after that: Wheaties commercials, movies, sitcoms, infomercials, sportscasting and everything in between.” One detects a whiff of disapproval in Miss Yahr’s recitation of Jenner’s noisomely macho past, but her prose brightens as she reminds us that he is now assaying to be female, and that his mother has never been prouder.

America–where even a warrior princess quasi-wiccan from Australia can grow up and appear on John Milius’s series ROME…oh, never mind.

Here, Old Bugler pauses to remind those seeking an impassioned treatise on the courageous nature of Mr. Jenner’s subsequent metamorphosis, extolling his emergence as a veritable Xena, waste deep in the battle for gender equality, that no such kudos is forthcoming. For that matter, those wishing a screed denouncing Mr. Jenner’s hideous display of self-disfigurement while in the throes of pathological gender dysphoria will be equally disappointed. A common-sense (which is to say, we suppose, homo-and-trans-phobic hate-speech riven) discussion of the implausibility of the transsexual endeavor may be found here , courtesy of D.C. McAllister at The Federalist. We recommend it—but here at WOOF our libertarian enzymes prohibit any outright opposition to gender reassignment. Is this hypocrisy? Your editor thinks not.

Consider the tattoo….

Friedrich von Ledebur as Queequeg in John Huston’s film version of Moby Dick–was not widely recognized as a trend setter at the time.

Consider the tattoo–possibly the earliest form of self disfigurement. Presumably, many of you may have tattoos. Some of you may regret having them,others may be deliriously happy to have them and be dreamily engaged in contemplating the acquisition of more. We could care less. Our personal belief that tattoos are idiotic in no respect conduces toward anything like opposition to the right of individuals to freely desecrate their flesh, and as often as they like, assuming the age of majority has been reached. Now and then, for whatever reason, Old Bugler is asked by someone or other, “do you think I should get a tattoo?” And in such circumstances, your empathic editor always takes pains to wax Socratic, countering, in other words, with some such solicitous interrogative as, “Are you insane?” But never has he attempted to obstruct anyone from becoming tattooed; it is, after all, a semi-free country.

Castration in the age of absurdity….

No, the right of Bruce Jenner to undergo sufficient surgical manipulations to resemble a female, to restyle himself Caitlyn, and to declare himself herself, is as inalienable as Old Bugler’s right to drink whiskey, smoke cigars, or own .50 caliber handguns. What worries us is not the practically irretrievable and appallingly extreme nature of transsexual surgery—but rather the social, political, philosophical, and even lexicographical implications of such trauma in the Age of Liberal Absurdity. Liberals may argue that these are precisely the factors about which conservatism ought to be worried as progressivism drags America into the false dawn of atheistic modernity, but this pretermits the law of unintended consequences—that pesky obtrusion of reality upon the pretenses of humanistic Utopianism that follows progressive innovation like a faithful skunk. As an example, consider the tumult surrounding Caitlyn Jenner’s hat.

The lady who mistook her hat for her hat….

Any girl can grab the wrong hat!

It seems that Caitlyn Jenner, to whom we will refer henceforth using female-specific pronouns out of politeness, got in trouble earlier this August because she decided to play golf. No, not because throngs of insensate right-wing Neanderthals gathered to jeer her, ruining her outing and reducing her to tears—because they didn’t. Rather, Miss Jenner was undone by her decision to depart for the links in her 1960 Austin-Healey convertible. Concerned that driving her convertible from her Malibu estate to her Sherwood Country Club would muss her hair, the former decathlon star threw on a hat. She later insisted that she rummaged through a drawer of hats in her closet and simply grabbed one at random. Observing that such behavior might ordinarily be deemed “a guy thing” is beneath your humble editor, who already regrets the thought. Anyway—she arrived at the country club, doffed the hat, put on her golf visor, and “spent an hour or so hitting some balls.”

The Duffer’s Dilemma

According to Miss Jenner, it was only upon returning to her vehicle and retrieving her hat that she realized the enormity of her miscalculation. Only then, she insists, did she glance at the front of her cap, perceiving the maxim: Make America Great Again, whereupon Miss Jenner described herself as “horrified,” insisting “I hate Trump,” but as TMZ explained matters (in their exclusive coverage of the incident) “Caitlyn had a dilemma on her hands … wear the hat home or screw up her ‘do.” Evidently, screwing up her ‘do seemed more horrifying, at least in the moment, than wearing the MAGA cap, which Jenner says she thought nobody would spot. When she stopped at Starbucks on her way home, she prudently exchanged the cap for her golf visor before entering, thus avoiding what almost certainly would have amounted to spontaneous outpourings of rage and indignation from and the mocha-frappe aficionados within.

Oh sure, they look peaceful enough, but experts agree:  Starbuck denizens are dangerously unpredictable and known to succumb to insensate herd instincts in a heartbeat!

Caitlyn in the golf visor-we feel justified in calling the MAGA hat a better fashion choice.

Latte in hand, Miss Jenner drove off, but not before removing the golf visor and once again donning the MAGA hat. This peculiar detail proved her undoing. As fate would have it, the erstwhile Trumpite was halfway home when she realized she was without her purse. It dawned on her that Starbucks was the site of her last use of that accessory. which also contained her cell phone, and this in mind, Jenner threw the Austin-Healey into a U-turn and raced back to the coffee shop. Miss Jenner insists that by the time she re-covered the distance to Starbucks, she’d forgotten entirely that her head remained ablaze with hate speech. Tragically, heedlessly, she entered the establishment still sporting the red cap, which caught the immediate attention of numerous patrons–several of whom unlimbered cell-cams in order to document the star’s depravity.  One can only imagine Miss Jenner’s shock and humiliation.

And regarding the previously-mentioned Kardashian vortex, it was the Kardashians by all reports who most roused and reinforced armies of infuriated tweeters, raging against Jenner’s hat malfunction. According to The Mercury News, the Kardashians denounced Jenner as a “traitor to the transgender community,” adding that she was “heartless,” and “self serving.” Moreover, the Kardashians have since declared their refusal to have anything further to do with Miss Jenner—a gesture the family evidently perceives as punitive.

Oh sure, they look peaceful enough, but experts agree: Kardashians are dangerously unpredictable and known to succumb to insensate herd instincts in a heartbeat!

To her credit, Miss Jenner did her best to regain lost ground. She groveled in the required manner and emphatically renounced Donald Trump, assuring reporters that she “detests him” (for his ban of transgender participation in the military), and declaring for the record that “What he’s doing to our community is absolutely f***ing awful.” (Only without the asterisks—because leftists cannot be regarded as sincere nowadays in the absence of profanity, even if one’s likeness formerly adorned a Wheaties box). By way of additional penance, Miss Jenner resoundingly apologized “to all of the trans community,” adding “I made a mistake, I will never do it again and I’m getting rid of the hat.” In fact, she vowed to rip it up and burn it. Old Bugler is relieved to report that the press, the liberal establishment in general, and the “trans community” in particular–wherever located–appear mollified, at least for the moment.

Ungentlemanly thoughts….

Conscious of the inelegance inherent in doubting a lady’s word, Old Bugler cannot, despite himself, avoid noting a plot hole or two in the above story. Even a cursory reading excites one’s skepticism. First, of course, one feels compelled to wonder why Miss Jenner had a Trump hat in her closet to begin with—but that one’s simple. Jenner nearly paralyzed Diane Sawyer when, during a TV interview, she confided she was a Republican. Worse, she elsewhere voiced her view that Donald Trump “….would be very good for women’s issues,” insisting that a second Clinton presidency would “finish off” America, and going so far as to tender her endorsement of Trump’s candidacy. All of this apparently changed dramatically once Trump tweeted that transgendered individuals would no longer be welcome in the American military—a seemingly scant basis for so dramatic an emotional swing; but not in the liberal realm, and Jenner is a Republican whose transgendered identity mandates dependence on liberal tolerance as surely as on hormonal therapy.  And liberal tolerance for ideas or values other than those deemed acceptable to liberalism—however fleetingly–does not exist.

Presumptions, hopefully forgivable….

Your editor hopes Miss Jenner will forgive him if his presumptions are inaccurate, but he feels reasonably certain that the MAGA hat was not an issue to Miss Jenner until the photos drew torrents of fire from the rabid Left. Until then, she probably didn’t give it a thought. The rest of her multifaceted (and wildly paralogistical) narrative is almost certainly bogus. Your humble editor does Miss Jenner the courtesy of assuming she is rational enough that wearing her Trump cap didn’t strike her as villainous until she found herself awash in the resultant maelstrom. How, really, does one miss the fact that one has grabbed a brilliantly scarlet MAGA cap from one’s closet, and how does one manage to suppose oneself unnoticeable while wearing it, despite the fact that one’s noggin is sticking out of a small, exotic, British sports car with no top, and one is Caitlyn Jenner into the bargain? And if we entertain the possibility that Jenner possessed the presence of mind to swap her hat for a visor before ordering a latte, why would she go to the bother of switching back on the way home? It may not even matter whether Jenner forgot her purse at Starbucks, considering that the snapshot deemed most damnatory by outraged Leftists depicts Jenner driving her convertible rather than retrieving her bag.

The getaway attempt– she “thought no one would notice.”

No, it was probably not until the full brunt of liberal fury broke over her that Miss Jenner chose the better part of valor and back-formulated her explanation’s more inconsistent elements. We are otherwise left to assume that Miss Jenner went from championing Trump to hating him almost overnight, because the President saw fit to reexamine the wisdom of using the military for social experimentation in the Obaman mode, and voiced his objection to throwing transgendered recruits into the ranks without an opportunity for further study.  Of course dubious readers may ask on the other hand, is it realistic to suppose that Miss Jenner was so traumatically affected by a bit of flak from the establishment media and some trash talk on Twitter as to instantly reformulate her entire politics?

Why not shoot the paparazzi?

Fake news can drive anyone a bit nuts!

Yes, it is; or if not reasonable, at least a predictable result of subjecting oneself to deliberate testosterone deprivation even as one endures merciless importunities from the procrustean Left. Consider that a while back, when “one paparazzi” falsely reported that Jenner was Read more…

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Colt’s 1911 Pistol –An Allegory for Our Times?

In "Gunning for success" forum on July 12, 2017 at 4:34 pm

On shooting fish in a barrel….

It is occasionally remarked around the WOOF cave, especially by well-intentioned supporters who would love to see us eclipsing allegedly rival sites in popularity—that we should stick to articles about Black conservatives, and guns. The argument is entirely supportable from a marketing standpoint. For reasons we do not pretend to fathom, our discussions of conservative thinkers and politicians who are–to employ the currently acceptable (if paralogistical) locution–African American, always score huge numbers of “clicks,” while gun articles tend to outperform even Black conservatives. To be ridiculously candid (because, why not?) the largest number of views our humble site ever scored on a single day followed our publication of “Detroit Shoots Back,” in 2014. That article—which, come to think of it, was about guns and a pro-gun Black police chief—almost made it to the one-thousand clicks line on WordPress’s pale blue bar graph, which is what passes for an astronomical one-day tally here in the WOOF cave.

This is us, being obstinate.

But we are an obstinate lot, not at all driven by vainglory, and thus not much disposed to the pursuit of “clicks” obtained by shaping our ramblings to themes most likely to solicit large responses. And because this is so, when one of our team proposes a story that revisits any of these attention-grabbing topics, our first concern involves a kind of monastic self-catechism—in which we ask ourselves: Why are we doing this again? Are we selling out to the false gods of acclamation when we ought rather to be maundering on about underappreciated nuances of the 14th amendment, or decrying Paul Krugman’s latest sophomoric mishandling of Say’s Law…you know, stuff almost nobody wants to read about, let alone at such torturous lengths!

Besides, even “Stars & Stripes” can fall for fake news!

Usually the answer is in the affirmative, and so we cast aside the glittery item and slog ahead with whatever prohibitively recondite subject we deem preferable; but not always. Sometimes a topic seems irresistible despite threatening widespread appeal—and on such occasions we boldly pursue it. One such topic, as attentive readers will have gathered from this screed’s title and the accompanying illustration, is the United States Army’s pursuit of a new pistol for our troops—a story best left, one might suppose, to the pages of Guns and Ammo, or Stars and Stripes, except for the story’s inherent (and, we think, instructive) ironies, lifting it above a simple “gun story” and infusing it with a near-Greco-Hellenic cachet.

Note to the allegorically dense…

Sophocles, by the way, not Hemingway; but you knew that.

Readers who prefer to regard the forthcoming details less complexly are certainly free to do so. Just as no categorical imperative prohibits one from perceiving The Old Man and the Sea as a straightforward account of a frustrating day of deep-sea fishing, some may prefer to regard what follows as a simple chronicling of weapons development and its discontents. Why not? We invite such readers to skip the following discussion of congressional efforts to end Obamacare. It will seem incongruous and time consuming. We simultaneously invite the more philosophically inclined to bear with us—because what really persuaded us to proceed with this story was its allegorical dimension. The seemingly ineradicable nature of suboptimal policies once they are ensconced systemically is aggravating in itself, but when one further considers how often earnest exertions meant to reform these policies result instead in the reinforcement of their most egregious aspects—well—that’s what we mean by Greek! Permit us a single analogy.

Obamacare and the 1911

Just say  ‘arghhh!

Recently, the Republican Party undertook to relieve the nation of the horror that is Obamacare. It is not the business of this screed to detail the onerous, unconstitutional, and impractical characteristics of President Obama’s signature legislation, beyond remarking that its removal from the body politic is urgently required and demands uncompromising legislative surgery. More to our point is the commonly recognized fact that nothing of that nature happened. Rather, a president steeped in the art of negotiated adjustments to pre-existing business models combined forces with a GOP establishment so fearful of negative media coverage that it hadn’t the nerve even to recycle its own legislative efforts at authentic repeal, and produced instead its own version of Obamacare—sporting a handful of tweaks made chiefly in the interest of creating salable appearances.

President Trump wisely refuses to expose his back to applauding GOP House members.

In other words, what emerged from the GOP’s huddle, despite years of available brainstorming time, was simply the Affordable Care Act dropped into a more sedate, respectably Republican chassis. As Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr famously remarked, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” (Which roughly translated from the French means: “The more the government tries to fix something the surer we are to wind up with more of it, working even less satisfactorily than before it was fixed!”)

It sounds a lot smarter when you say it in French.

One part of government that long seemed exempt from this critique was the military. In fact, however, the service-related procurement authorities were often doddering–even perversely Luddite in their opposition to weaponological breakthroughs. It was, after all, the Army Ordnance Corps that refused to equip the Union Army with the .44-caliber Henry Model 1860 rifle at the outbreak of the Civil War. In doing so, the Corps pulled the plug on what amounted to a per saltum leap in infantry firepower, citing the rifle’s weight when loaded to its 15-round capacity and the fact that the .44 Flat Henry cartridge didn’t fit other Army weapons as grounds for rejection. The Chief of Ordinance further declared himself unimpressed by the Henry’s rapid firing lever action, opining that it would waste ammunition and prove a burden logistically.  Resultantly, the Union fielded an army equipped mainly with single-shot muzzle loaders, relinquishing a potentially decisive advantage in firepower in order to avoid logistical headaches.

Prior to World War I the Army rejected the Lewis Machine Gun, mainly because Chief of Ordnance General William Crozier hated Lewis’s guts. The legendary Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was issued to only four American divisions in the last two months of the First World War, while most American Doughboys contended with the wretched French 8×51 mm Chauchat automatic rifle (also legendary, but mainly for jamming and misfiring). The most widely circulated explanation of this idiocy was the War Department’s fear that Germans might obtain a BAR on the battlefield, reverse engineer it, and turn it against us. Obviously, this logic—if generally applied—would prevent any advanced weaponry from reaching the hands of our front-line forces. The BAR became famous only after the armistice, when Bonnie and Clyde adopted it in rather less official circumstances.

Authentic photo of Clyde Barrow displaying his BAR. Bonnie does not appear, as the gang evidently had not yet stolen a delayed exposure camera.

The famous Thompson submachine gun was not accepted by the United states Army until 1938, despite its availability as early as 1918—principally because the First World War ended two days before the earliest Thompsons arrived in Europe, and the War Department sensibly concluded that nothing so devastating as General John T. Thompson’s “tommy gun” would be needed in the Utopian aftermath of what Woodrow Wilson (in his customarily delusional fashion) declared the “war to end all wars.”

General Thompson, and a Thompson.

But to discuss the Thompson is to get rather ahead of ourselves, which rarely happens here at WOOF, where devoted readers know fighting our way beyond the exordial details is our most common challenge. The Thompson is, after all, a weapon famous for its powerful .45 caliber punch; and that punch could not have been delivered without the development of the .45 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) cartridge.

Come the Moro…

When 800 Marines disembarked in the Philippines following the Spanish American War, they discovered that while Spain had relinquished its hold on the islands, the inhabitants were feeling less generous. The First Philippine Republic pronounced itself dissatisfied with the terms of the Treaty of Paris (the one ending hostilities between Spain and the United states, not the one ending the revolutionary war…and what is it with peace treaties and Paris, anyway?) In any case, the treaty had been signed without consulting the Philippine Republic, and it was a bit late to make adjustments. Attempts to accommodate Filipino demands were partial at best and suffered a series of bollixed translations and misinterpretations into the bargain. The upshot of all this was a declaration of war, perhaps most remarkable for its injudiciousness, by the First Republic against the United States.

TRUE FACT: Excesses were committed by Americans during the war with the Philippines but obscured by the jingoist press and propaganda of that era. Fortunately, today we have Hollywood to harp on such things endlessly.

To their credit, the soldiery of the Philippine Republic battled far longer than had the Spanish armies and navies, but in 1902 the war ended in its third year with an American victory. Readers will be pleased to know that while a staggering complex of diplomatic, political, governmental, and international developments followed fast upon the Republic’s capitulation, we will resist detailing them here—because none of them serves to advance our narrative. What we will discuss instead is the guerilla warfare that sprang up in the wake of the Filipino surrender. This insurgency involved numerous tribal cultures, many of them savage fighters, but none more relentless in battle than the Moros, whose foremost warrior caste featured the Juramentados, (from the Spanish for “one who takes an oath”) who pledged themselves to kill all Christians. Obviously, this left little room for negotiation.

Meet friendly natives, and learn their customs!

The word Amok (yes, as in running amok) is considered to have Malaysian roots, but it was also the name of a Moro band as deadly as the Juramentados, with an even worse reputation for—well—running amok. The simple Amok creed of battle was to go berserk, charge into the largest available assemblage of infidels (meaning us in this case), and kill or maim as many as could possibly be assailed before being killed oneself.

Obama visiting Mindanao? No, this Moro chieftain’s resemblance is purely coincidental.

Worse still, the Moros preferred to attack after heavily drugging themselves with a form of local narcotic, binding their limbs and bodies with leather in ways calculated to delay blood loss if wounded, and participating in religious rituals that whipped them into homicidal frenzies. These attributes, on top of their 400-year history of relentlessly battling any occupier against whom they declared jihad, made the Moro tribesmen the most implacably bloodthirsty opponents the United States had yet faced. And just by way of reinforcing this article’s undergirding theme, which mnemonically gifted readers will recall as, “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” allow us to present one additional fact about the Moros: They were Muslim.

Short by 56 virgins, but good to go, nonetheless!

As historian David S. Woolman put the matter in Military History Magazine a few years ago, “Although certain of their own extinction, these fanatics were secure in their belief that they would be whisked to the Muslim paradise for their valorous self-sacrifice, where, among other glories, they would be serviced by 16 virgins.” Sound familiar? Okay, we thought it was supposed to be 72 virgins too, but maybe the Moros were victims of soteriological discrimination and simply had to settle; Woolman doesn’t say.

Readers may also find themselves wondering how on earth swarms of Muslims wound up in the middle of the Philippine jungle in 1902, but we invite them to pursue the question independently given that a thorough explanation will involve us in God knows how many discursive tributaries, and none of us wants that, do we. Suffice it for our immediate purpose that Moros were Muslim, and hell-bent on slaughtering Christians—particularly Christians of the American variety, we being the most proximal irritants.

The Moros were not well equipped, of course, being essentially pre-industrial in outlook and armament. Firearms were scarce. Select fighters were equipped with either single-shot, 1871 Model .43 caliber, rolling block Spanish Remingtons (involuntarily provided by the islands’ previous occupiers) or, more commonly, the .70 caliber, black powder Tower musket originally manufactured in England for use by British forces in the Raj. In design, the Tower was barely superior to the infamous “Brown Bess” which British redcoats carried to defeat in the Revolutionary War.  Americans were far better armed with their bolt action Krag–Jørgensens, but even the M1899 carbine model, built specifically for use in the Philippines, was longish and slow to re-chamber for a jungle weapon. The Moros, meanwhile, turned their muskets’ muzzle-loading impediment to advantage by funneling iron pellets, available metal fragments, sections of light chain, and even pebbles down the barrels. The result was a nasty close-quarters scatter gun capable of inflicting horrifying wounds from ambush in the jungles of the southern Philippines.

The 1899 Krag–Jørgensen, a superb collector’s item but a suboptimal jungle weapon.

More often, however, the Moros attacked with their traditional bladed weapons, including the Kriss, a serpentine thrusting sword, the slashing
Kampilan sword, long Budiak spears, and the infamous Barong—often called a sword, but approximately the size of a large Bowie knife, and no less suitable for stabbing or slashing adversaries. Read more….

WHAT THE FOX? (How the Murdoch Brothers Hatched a Plan that ‘FOX over’ FNC Viewers while Saving the Planet and Sparing their Wives Further Embarrassment!)

In "The Media are the Massage" forum on May 22, 2017 at 3:37 pm

There is an old adage, familiar to most, that if something works, one should not attempt to fix it. We have no doubt the vast majority of our readers are conversant with this saying, and alert to its meaning; so much so that to explain it here for the benefit of the culturally illiterate seems pointless; first because it ill-repays everyone else’s kind attention, and second, because that rare reader who requires assistance comprehending so obvious a maxim will doubtless be equally bollixed by any attempt at elucidation. Therefore, we suggest that the apprehending majority proceed to this article’s gravamen, while the uncomprehending minority may also elect to proceed, placing its reliance on context in order to establish insight. Or, some may prefer to click over to, say, Infowars, where chemtrails, Pizza gate, and other sinister phenomena, are discussed in simple, easily comprehended terms.

But before plunging fully into the aforementioned gravamen, allow us to point out that unlike so many familiar aphorisms graven into the American psyche, the idea that something need not be repaired if it functions smoothly is virtually irrefutable. One may hear, “he who hesitates is lost,” for instance, and think ironically of Custer’s Last Stand—or reconsider the sagacity of “slow and steady wins the race,” in light of Jeb Bush’s disastrously phlegmatic bid for the presidency. But almost everybody agrees that a marvelously efficient apparatus need not be overhauled in the moment (continuous quality improvement notwithstanding), and this seems even more apparent when the apparatus is essential to some aspect of the nation’s cultural welfare—as is Fox News.

So, if  ‘he who hesitates is lost’ is wrong, but so is ‘slow and steady wins the race,’ how confusing is that?

We at WOOF gaze with considerable dismay upon the widely reported efforts to dismantle the Fox News Channel, or, put more exactly, to transform it—to reshape its core into something bound to prove anathema to the tastes and expectations of its millions of loyal viewers.

Some predicted Turner’s CNN would counter liberal media bias–but when Ted went hunting with Castro and married Jane Fonda, hope perished.

Not even the liberal media could invent a means of diminishing or obfuscating Fox’s primacy among the 24-hour news contenders. A public trained to think “CNN” when it thought of around-the-clock news broadcasting, came despite itself to an awareness that Fox News dwarfed Ted Turner’s band of whiny propagandists in the ratings…and, put frankly, in news coverage. True, a sizable sub-population of that public remained aloof from FNC’s programming, persuaded by the full force of the Liberal Establishment that Fox comprised little beyond an assortment of thunderously fascistic Cro-Magnons, babbling blond Stepford Anchorwomen (whose vacuous skulls had been filled with GOP talking points), and a supporting cast of Republican Party shills whose main function, the Left insisted, was to tell lies.

Lois of “Family Guy” actually enjoyed a brief career at Fox News Channel.

The mythology of Fox’s reliance on calculated prevarication was soon run threadbare by the progressive hierarchy to the point that it became an object of satire on the cartoon program Family Guy. In one episode, for example, Lois, the cartoon housewife, is seen ranting about Fox’s inveracity when she is challenged by the family dog (who talks). The dog accuses her of hyperbole, but Lois doubles down, snarling, “Everything on Fox News is a lie… even true things, once said on Fox News, become lies!” Certainly, that was the official view of the Obama Administration for eight years. But while the “Fox lies!” mantra busied the tongues of besotted liberals and frightened off, one must assume, legions of the irreclaimably naïve, it proved insufficient to thwart FNC’s rise to cable supremacy.

In the beginning…

The late Roger Ailes–looking rightward.

It was February of 1996 when Australian publisher and multimedia mogul Rupert Murdoch hired former GOP strategist-cum-NBC producer Roger Ailes to mastermind the Fox News Channel. Scoffers marveled at the stupidity of “reinventing CNN,” simultaneously pointing out that NBC was launching MSNBC (does anyone know what that actually stands for?) and that a 24-hour news channel run by so hallowed and sacrosanct a broadcasting entity as NBC in combination with the ultra-branded CNN would obviously crush any upstart competitors.

Fox’s refusal to play by the rules of establishment (read: liberal) journalism made it instantly attractive to conservatives among whom Murdoch’s experiment built a swiftly expanding viewership. Moreover, Fox presented liberal viewpoints by a far greater ratio than conservatism appeared elsewhere, thus moderates began to admire the fresh approach too. During the Republican National Convention in 2000, Fox’s ratings handily outpaced all three major (which is to say, hallowed and sacrosanct) news networks, and increased another 300 percent during the American invasion of Iraq.

Heresy!

Hmmm–something’s up.

Further digression into particulars needn’t consume us. Suffice it that Fox climbed from obscurity to the position of America’s number one source for cable news at so dazzling a velocity that establishment progressives were hard pressed to internalize, let alone oppose, the phenomenon. Slowly, in that recalcitrant way in which ponderous beasts react to some peripheral annoyance, the Left began to recognize the magnitude of Murdoch’s heresy. For establishment panjandra, this entailed a more challenging cognitive adjustment than one might suppose. It required stretching the liberal weltanschauung to accommodate three distasteful propositions.

Shattering paradigm (file photo)

First, the guardians of America’s informational orthodoxy were obliged to accept that the major networks, whose news divisions were known to be hallowed and  sacrosanct if only by dint of their ritualistic practice of so describing themselves, had been outclassed in the ratings war by a bunch of conservatives and neocons with no entrée into the progressive guild, and no interest in seeking any. This realization alone was, as the lexicographically slipshod might say, paradigm shattering.

Second, one could not efficiently analyze the success of Fox without acknowledging coinstantaneously that American TV viewers liked Fox’s handling of events more than any competing network’s, and sometimes more than any combination of them, because on a really dark day FNC would pull higher numbers than CNN, MSNBC, and CNBC put together.

The Nielsen ratings– an inconvenient truth.

Third, these facts conduced ineluctably toward one of two available conclusions, neither of which inspired optimism on the Left. Either (a) the American people were more inclined to conservatism than to liberalism, which would disprove longstanding elitist claims to the contrary–or else, (b) vast enclaves of otherwise sensibly progressive citizens were tuning in Fox News every night, beguiled by Roger Ailes’s media sorcery. Once hooked, such viewers apparently surrendered their adjudicative powers and descended ever deeper into the reactionary abyss where they were irretrievably transformed by Murdoch’s dark alchemy. These poor wretches—and there appeared to be millions of them– misperceived themselves as entertained and informed whereas in fact they were merely the former, any semblance of the latter being so interlarded with lies, distortions, and bigotry, as to render it dismissible.

Regarding the above, notice that whether one embraces the first or second alternative, the leftwing perspective relies on the barely concealed subtext that Americans are stupid. (Stupid being the most widely circulated synonym among progressives for ‘not liberal.’) But better they be stupid on account of Roger Ailes’s magical mental manipulations than by mere dictate of nature, and thus the second option of the third proposition carried the day, explaining the second proposition, and maybe even the first. And so was born the “Fox-lies!” mantra, echoed robotically by liberals everywhere, even today. Not only does Fox lie, but in the progressive estimation, Fox lies so skillfully and seductively that Americans prefer it– not only because many of them are stupid (meaning ‘not liberal’), or even because quite a few more are simply stupid, (meaning stupid, in the general sense of acceptation), but mainly because the majority are, in fact, stupefied, which is to say, mesmerized by Rupert Murdoch’s insidious legerdemain. Enter now the progressive passion for “re-education.”

“Just a FOX story!”

For two decades now, Americans have endured a withering barrage of propaganda from every conduit dispensing left-leaning commentary (which is nearly all of them), to the effect that Fox lies, Fox isn’t really a news network (an Obaman favorite), Fox is homophobic, Fox is racist, Fox is Islamophobic, Fox is—well, you get the idea. The enterprising liberal eristic (of that subspecies at least one specimen of which inevitably winds up at Thanksgiving dinner) will always have an ample supply of politically-correct insertions in mind, whereby the basic anti-Fox template may be adjusted to address almost any conversational variant.

“Ummm…lessee…’Operation Fast and Furious?’ Ummm…I think that’s just a Fox Story.”

The Obama administration made excellent tactical use of this planted axiom. Whenever Fox went to air with details of yet another Obama travesty, Obama or one of his acolytes would smirk and declare, “Well, that’s just a Fox story!” and reporters would snicker, nod, and forget the matter. In fact, the President on such occasions was speaking literal truth, since the near-absolute refusal by establishment networks to spotlight anything unfavorable to the regime meant that any hint of scandal, blunder, or illegality associated with Obama was instantly “spiked,” with the predictable result that Fox would be the only network reporting it. Thus, almost every one of the administration’s miscreancies over eight years of unprecedented contempt for law, truth, and the Constitution, might be accurately described as “just a Fox story!”

As vociferously as the liberal networks promulgate this interpretation of Fox’s appeal, one might reasonably assume some effect would be had—but efforts by the punditry to warn viewers of Fox’s wanton disregard for the higher principles of responsible (read: liberal) reportage made no measurable dent in Fox’s ratings. One reason, obviously, was that no matter how often or how emphatically the liberal networks rehearsed Fox’s infamies, no means existed by which to inform the masses–other than by purchasing advertising space on Fox News, which claimed most of the viewers. For the elites in New York, D.C. and Los Angeles, such ignominy would be unendurable, so the likes of Chris Matthews and Don Lemon found themselves limited to warning their comparatively miniscule audiences that Fox was awful—a belief already shared, presumably, by most of their viewers. Small wonder if the resultant frustration drove certain of these journalistic Titans to the occasional social drink.

Looking on the bright side, Fox’s deliverance from the grip of its fascistic, warmongering, misogynistic former executives may have a salvific effect on Don Lemon’s liver.

Following America’s penultimate attempt at national suicide, (we refer here to the 2008 presidential election), President Obama joined in the effort, lambasting Fox News at every opportunity from the Bully Pulpit, even attempting on one occasion to lock Fox out of a news conference, and whining incessantly to anyone who would listen about the colossal unfairness of Fox’s coverage, which often criticized him, whereas all the other televised news operations waxed giddy at his approach.

In a reckless attempt to boost ratings, Joe Scarborough challenges Barney Frank to an impromptu game of patty-cake.

One might suppose that attacks by the administration combined with the exertions of establishment journalists and manipulations by the entertainment industry (which made Fox the butt of endless jokes inserted into movie and TV scripts, sitcoms, rap recordings, and late-night comedy monologues), would erode FNC’s popularity. Shown the error of their ways, thousands of repentant souls might reasonably be expected to grasp– however belatedly– the importance of watching real news as represented by credible journalists like Joe Scarborough (failed conservative talk radio host), or Van Jones (self-confessed communist subversive and 9/11 conspiracy theorist), Al Sharpton (diction-impaired race hustler and tax cheat), or certainly by old pros like Brian Williams (signer of the Declaration of Independence, first journalist to orbit the moon, Bronze Medal winner in Olympic Mahjong), but no! Despite eight years of unremitting, presidentially approved criticism, Fox News emerged unscathed.

Much of Fox’s success may be attributable the inadequacies of its competition. Even the ultra-elitist SALON admitted as recently as last November that “Watching MSNBC is pure torture!”

In fact, 2016 found Fox comfortably atop the ratings for basic cable viewers, prime time viewers, and “total day” viewers (a spot formerly ceded to CNN whose “branding” inclined more people to switch it on at some point in any week, however briefly). For emphasis, FNC delivered the best rated quarter for total viewers in the network’s history and spent ten consecutive weeks as the number one channel in total day viewers of all cable networks, bar none.

A series of unfortunate events…

But precisely at this point began what might be termed a series of unfortunate events, none of which, in any direct sense, reflected meddling by the organized Left. To begin with, a sudden flurry of charges was brought against Fox’s resident mastermind, Roger Ailes. Alysyn Camerota, for instance, charged Ailes with sexually harassing her during her stint at FNC following which Gretchen Carlson lodged similar accusations. Camerota’s complaints might be considered suspect by virtue of her subsequent CNN affiliation, while Carlson could reasonably be described as disgruntled, but when Megyn Kelly added her voice to the mix even as the venerable Greta Van Susteren (to whom WOOF invariably grants special dispensation on account of her being Urban Van Susteren’s daughter) switched from defending Ailes to tweeting her regrets that Ailes was “not better supervised,” the charges seemed substantial enough that few on the Right rushed to protest Ailes’s removal. Read more…