WOOF! Watchdogs of Our Freedom

Archive for 2018|Yearly archive page

Zuckerberg, Facebook, and Fate

In "The Media are the Massage" forum on September 17, 2018 at 1:16 pm

Lionized and feted for decades by every media outlet and establishment personality worth cultivating, Mark Zuckerberg is suddenly on the skids. His spectacular decline surprised us in the WOOF cave. The young tycoon seemed destined to expand his global pursuits, enhance his wealth limitlessly, and age serenely into liberal sainthood, wherefrom he would occasionally favor admirers with an enlightened insight or two, appear now and again to confer benedictions (and substantial cash endowments) upon worthy young activists, and generally remain annoying well into in his dotage.

Zuckerberg’s conventional Ivy-League liberalism made his conformity to elitist mores effortless. Beyond that, his knack for fitting the relevant beau gest to the trendiest social issue, or showering millions of dollars upon whichever starving, uneducated, oppressed, or similarly afflicted group seemed most underprivileged during a particular news cycle, solidified his credentials. He knew, in other words, how to play the game, and he played it better than the average establishment bootlick because unexamined, sophomoric liberalism was one of the few attributes Mark Zuckerberg never needed to fake.

Learning the game….

Wall Street barons, “obscene profiteers,” and corporate bigwigs denounced routinely by thundering Leftists are almost without exception those who haven’t played the game, or haven’t played it well enough. The intuitively satisfying but factually absurd notion that all big-money scalawags are Republican results largely from the media’s reluctance to disparage—or even acknowledge–any blood-sucking capitalist pig smart enough to fund progressive causes and babble the requisite shibboleths. Fat cat capitalists wishing to retain the affection of the liberal establishment long ago realized that redistributing their own wealth (in politically correct and tax-deductible ways) without waiting for a totalitarian state to redistribute it for them, was the key to immunity. Like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Ben and Jerry, and every ridiculously wealthy celebrity in Hollywood, Zuckerberg played the game with an almost instinctual acumen. Was he not declared “person of the year” by Time in 2010? Was his name not widely circulated by Democrat strategists as a presidential contender in 2020? And hadn’t mainstream news anchors reacted to such speculation like jiggled bobble-dolls?

Immunized by The Game

The kindness of our hearts

Yes, those were heady times by even Zuckerberg’s standards, but times now rinsed down the memory hole by America’s mavens of misinformation. Suddenly, Mark Zuckerberg finds himself portrayed as an anathema to the people—a pariah so detestable that declaring him an “enemy of the state” seems entirely condign—except that Trump’s appropriation of the phrase rendered it radioactive to liberals.

What antic twist of fate swept Zuckerberg from his vertiginous pedestal? The liberal media will not provide an answer. Doing so would require a review of the timeline, whereas applied lacunar amnesia (a favorite media tactic) prohibits any recollection of the CEO’s previous good standing. In other words, Zuckerberg is currently portrayed by the establishment as a churl who was always a churl, and never anything but a churl. All evidence to the contrary is irretrievable–down the hole. Obviously, then, it falls to WOOF to analyze Mr. Zuckerberg’s riches-to-ridicule collapse; but we are generous by nature, beloved readers—we will not only undertake the analysis but also–solely out of the kindness of our hearts—end this screed by suggesting a way for Mr. Zuckerberg to recapture his former standing…sort of like the surprise at the bottom of a Cracker Jacks box.

Don’t worry, Zuck–help is on the way!

The most fundamental thing…

In March of 2018, Mark Zuckerberg gave an interview to BBC television during which he repeatedly assured viewers that Facebook would never sell any information derived from its users. Fresh-faced, boyish, and brimming with trustworthiness, the earnest CEO went to great lengths underscoring the sacred obligation he felt to protect every user’s information, insisting “This is their information—they own it!” And because “Zuck” was the Left’s most conspicuous superstar (besides Oprah) in the wake of Obama’s inglorious eight years, liberal journalists simply wrote down his remarks and reported them without a thought given their veracity.  When accusations piled up from the FCC, members of Congress, and a cluster of privacy groups, Zuckerberg doubled down, maintaining the  countenance of an angel as he averred, “We do not allow the applications to share personal information, plus, the advertisers can’t have access to it [and] if application runners share it with the advertisers, we disable their functioning on our website, we shut them down. We make sure that people have control over their privacy and it will become the most fundamental thing on the internet.”

Proving there’s fundamental, and then there’s horses’ fundaments.

Media talkers repeated the CEO’s remarks uncritically. After all, if “Zuck” was lying through his teeth, it was no more newsworthy than Obama lying through his, or Hillary or Loretta Lynch, or Susan Rice, or—well, when liars enjoy the establishment’s favor, the trick is simply to  “report” the words verbatim, and call it “the news.”

The Winklevoss Twins–guess how their mom tells them apart!

Of course, Zuck’s difficulties began long before 2016, but the youthful entrepreneur finessed them effortlessly. Early on, critics accused him of building a simple knockoff of his university’s social network, Harvardconnectins.com.  Compounding the issue, the Winklevoss twins (creators of the Harvard site and erstwhile collaborators with Zuckerberg), filed suit claiming Zuck sabotaged their project, made off with their design, and awarded himself sole credit for its development. No big deal, Zuck prevailed and prospered despite the Winklevoss annoyance and a variety of similarly Lilliputian assaults. When an unflattering biopic came to theaters, Zuckerberg upstaged it by appearing on Oprah to announce unprecedented charitable contributions, while complaining to journalists that the filmmakers “just kind of made up a bunch of stuff that I found kind of hurtful.”

Young Mark Zuckerberg, expressing his pain.

Rumblings on the right

Sure, Zuck had problems with conservatives from the beginning, but these amounted to pinpricks. All the truly important people reminded the sultan of social networking that conservatives complain about all sorts of media ad nauseum. Complaints kept coming, nevertheless.

Posts like this one from Gatewaypundit typify conservatives’ paranoid reactions to Facebook’s efforts to thwart fake news and biased commentary!

Brian Amerige , former Facebook technology wiz, called Zuck’s enterprise “a political monoculture that’s intolerant of different views.” But it was the rogues all along!

In May 2016, a former employee accused Facebook of cutting conservative topics from its “trending bar.” On June 13, the outspoken anti-jihadist Pamela Geller found two of her pages deleted. Fox hosts Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson, as well as the Gateway Pundit site, not to mention hosts of conservatives in private life, complained of similar censorship. The indefatigable Diamond and Silk raised a ruckus when their page was labeled “unsafe,” prompting Facebook to call the labeling “an enforcement error.”  Zuckerberg justified much of what the Right called censorship as Facebook’s effort to cut down on “fake news and conspiracy theories,” which Media Matters helpfully—if ironically–explained “are more prevalent in conservative circles than in others.” Even more hilariously, Zuck dealt with the sudden exodus of rogue employees exposing his censorship of conservatives by claiming that all censorship of conservatives was the work of rogue employees–most of whom seemed to have just quit. The rest, he promised, would be ferreted out and lectured sternly.

Attempting to further smooth the waters, Zuck hosted a meet-and-greet for a dozen influential conservatives, assuring them, “Donald Trump has more fans on Facebook than any other presidential candidate and Fox News drives more interactions on its Facebook page than any other news outlet in the world. It’s not even close.” True, no doubt, but also irrelevant.–the group’s overall concerns were never meaningfully addressed.

Censoring conservatives? Nobody in the mainstream could believe such nonsense.

But no amount of caviling from starboard could seriously threaten the CEO’s status with the in-crowd. That would require a starkly different event–and a frenzy so indiscriminate even a cosseted godlet like young Zuckerberg might be sucked into its vortex.

The New Inquisition


Epidemiologists often observe the speed with which newly imposed bacilli devastate previously unexposed populations. Similarly, the Left succumbed to Russo-phobia—an affliction so novel to that culture, the outbreak remains uncontained to this day. It was Zuckerberg’s bad luck to be caught up, first in the delirium itself, but more significantly by the reaction it spawned.  And just as the plague inspired 14th Century Europe to purge itself of heretics and witches in hopes of placating God, so the Great Liberal Russo-phobia of 2016, (although almost entirely psychotic), inspired an inquest of similar intensity: the New Inquisition, with Robert Mueller in the role of Torquemada, the furious Clintons playing Ferdinand and Isabella, and the uniformly hysteric media as the Holy Office for the Propagation of the Faith.

“Nobody expects The Deep State… to lose an election!”

Zuckerberg’s downfall was occasioned by one of those desultory acts of egalitarianism that dot his career–but not the kind of egalitarianism liberals prefer– like granting the vote to illegal aliens, opening school lavatories to anyone inclined to drop in, or making college educations free for the asking–no, this time Zuckerberg exhibited the wrong kind of egalitarianism. It wasn’t the first time. For instance, he’d once taken a flukish notion to host a fundraiser for Chris Christie back in 2013, but when shrieks from the Left awakened him to his foolishness, he promptly shifted gears, hosting a still-bigger fundraiser for Corey Booker before flying to San Francisco to march in a timely Gay Pride parade.  The stench blew over quickly.

Sure! Almost definitely! So forget about Chris Christie–think about Utopia, and stuff! Right?

Who killed Mark Zuckerberg?  

But magnanimity was about to run dry. Once Team Hillary wrested the nomination from Bernie Sanders by—well—rigging the vote, an almost supernal calm swept over the establishment. The smugness was almost palpable. The elites had seen the future, and it wore a fuchsia Mao jacket and fell down a lot. But something went hideously wrong on the way to the West Wing.

Falling short of expectations….

Without warning, the very election process every liberal panjandrum including President Obama repeatedly touted as unbreachable by any means, and which the self-same panjandrums agreed only a raving ignoramus [read: Donald Trump] would dream of impugning on any basis, lurched incomprehensibly off course.  As of midnight, November 9th, 2016, it became obvious to all the panjandrums that the election process nobody could possibly rig had been riggedso rigged, in fact, that the wrong candidate won.

Armed with such starkly empirical evidence, the liberal panjandrums evolved in unison. They now chorused that presidential elections could not only be rigged, but were so easily rigged that almost anyone could rig one, adding that anyone clueless enough to dispute such an obvious fact was either a raving ignoramus [read: Donald Trump], or worse, duplicitous in rigging the election [read: Donald Trump]. Before long, the lacunar amnesiacs in mainstream media caught up, and the hunt for conspirators began. These events, seemingly absent any connection to Mark Zuckerberg, nonetheless presaged the tech titan’s discomfiture. Any hope of escape vanished once the Clintons, the media, and the leaderships of DOJ, the FBI, and the CIA, agreed on messaging.  The Russians did it!

The Zevon effect

As appalled by Clinton’s defeat as any other card-carrying progressive, Zuckerberg barely had time to blink before the Inquisition revealed irrefutable evidence of his involvement in the plot to usurp the throne. Suddenly the very news networks whose slobbering affinity Zuck always relied upon, united against him. They called him a menace to the democratic process. They accused him of shocking betrayals, none of which made sense objectively, but at CNN, MSNBC, and the dinosaur networks, objectivity was no object.

OMG, the man’s actually visited Moscow–all that’s missing is a dossier!

What on earth had Zuck done? Nothing he hadn’t done many times before in the normal course of helming his media monopoly, but now, everything was upside-down. Citizen Zuckerberg was charged with collusion. Worse, he was charged with colluding with Russians. Worse still, his collusion helped put Trump in the White House.           


Given the blizzard of calumnies, fakeries, nonsense, and false alarms mimicking news in our era, readers may be forgiven for failing to recall the precise nature of Zuckerberg’s offense. Soon, the media won’t be able to recall the details either, so allow us to supply specifics. Zuckerberg made information available to a data-mining organization called Cambridge Analytica. Less sophisticated readers may fail to immediately recognize the stark connection to Russian espionage, as well as the malicious and wanton destruction of the American electoral process, inherent in this revelation (no judgment). Any reasonable person might understandably request additional evidence—but unfortunately for Zuckerberg, it was quickly forthcoming. Cambridge Analytica (wait for it….) worked almost exclusively for Republicans.

Send the Envoy?

To be sure, Cambridge Analytica was a privately-held company, no different at first glance from myriad other firms specializing in data acquisition and analysis. It emerged in 2013 as an offshoot of its British parent company, SCL Group, tasked with serving the financially juicy American political market. In 2014 alone, it served clients in 44 American political races without a single complaint, but never mind! In the zany world of the New Russo-phobia, it only took a quick round of “six-degrees of separation,” and you were, as Warren Zevon once put it (albeit far less absurdly and much more entertainingly), “with the Russians too!”

When Zuckerberg helped Barack Obama’s campaign mine information in 2008, the operation was deemed praiseworthy. Steve Bannon, who is right almost as often as he isn’t, put it succinctly: “In 2008, it was Google and Facebook that went to Barack Obama and met him at San Francisco airport and told him all about the power of this personal data. Yet, the great opposition party — media — never went after the Obama campaign, never went after the progressive left as they’ve been doing this for years.”

Oddly, no one minded a bit when Zuck taught Obama the fine points of political data mining–it was as though Edison and Ford simple brainstormed a bit and everyone benefited!

Actually, Barack found even his cell phone baffling, but he was never short of tech support!


Indeed, Obama’s savvy, 21st century manipulation of cyberspace was gushed over by media pundits professing awe at their hero’s techy sophistication. In other words, the campaign’s use of data mining was depicted as genius—sheer genius.  But eight years later, on some freakishly bipartisan whim, Zuckerberg saw fit to allow Cambridge Analytica  similar access during the 2016 election, (probably for no reason more complicated than the soundness of their coin) but these people worked for Trump.  And nobody would have minded that either, had not vast armies of supremely confident pollsters, politicians, financiers, academicians, and media hacks, awakened on November 9th  to confront Götterdämmerung. Despite all predictions, the clownish boor from Queens somehow defeated the smartest woman in human history. And since that was known to be impossible, Trump obviously stole the election, and since Trump was too stupid to steal the election, it must have been the Russians!

At this point, every factoid, rumor, video byte, or moribund quotation that could be unearthed and weaponized (sorry), in hopes of destroying the president elect was reported as “news” by every reputable (meaning other than Fox) network, newspaper, whispering NPR sophisticate, and late-night comedian.

Breaking news!

As if it weren’t bad enough that Cambridge focused on Republican candidacies (obvious Russian surrogates or “fellow travelers,” as Joe McCarthy used to say in a more enlightened era), the bearers of breaking-news were soon gasping (with that amazing synchrony typical of mainstream reportage), that Steve Bannon founded the company! Of course, that would mean Bannon founded it three years before Trump ran for office, and okay, he didn’t exactly found it, but he was listed on the board, and hadn’t that very same board once received a letter from Rudy Giuliani? Yes! The Washington Post quoted one of its burgeoning population of unnamed sources to the effect that Giuliani’s letter was all about “the participation of Cambridge Analytica,…a foreign corporation…in connection with United States elections for federal, state and local government office.”  Okay, the Post didn’t have the letter, exactly, or even a copy, but they definitely had a source who said he knew someone who’d seen it!

“And some of our new unnamed sources will live on Mars by 2050–and be AI entities, and wear Patagonia jackets!” (The WaPo marches on!)

FILE PHOTO: Steve Bannon creates Cambridge Analytica

Once the fantasy that Bannon conjured Cambridge Analytica during a Black Mass wore thin, the lacunar amnesiacs effortlessly shifted to a new scoop (with that amazing synchrony typical of mainstream reportage). The new scoop correctly identified British subject Alexander Nix as the actual top dog at CA, but before anyone could say “so what?” videos serendipitously emerged featuring Nix blathering about hiring prostitutes to carry out sting operations, and insisting his company “ran all of (Donald Trump’s) digital campaign.” Perhaps so, but it provided almost identical services to Ted Cruz, whose campaign strove to defeat Trump and seize the nomination. Media  commentators ignored such discrepancies, fixating instead on Nix’s use of the words “prostitute,” “sting operation,” and “Donald Trump” in a single sentence. To them, this clearly indicated Nix’s (and therefore Cambridge Analytica’s) connection to Trump’s ensnarement in the Russian honey-trap operation detailed in the infamous “golden showers dossier,” which was everywhere regarded as bombshell news at the time. Then as now, the  dossier’s manifest fraudulence did nothing to reduce the media’s enthusiasm for publicizing it, all the while substituting euphemisms like “yet to be fully authenticated” or “never fully disproven” for the more exact term, “fake.”

Torquemada had his rough days, too!

Robert Mueller ostentatiously demanded a list of Cambridge Analytica’s foreign associations, but just as quickly dropped the subject—probably because the list revealed operations in Kenya, Mexico, and Malta—with Russia conspicuous by its absence. Meanwhile, Time reported Congress was investigating CA “in connection with Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election,” boldly concluding: “the firm may have coordinated the spread of Russian propaganda.” (Read: “Then again, it may not have, but we don’t care.”)

Unwilling to let Cambridge Analytica off the hook while the media remained adamantly accusatory, Mueller next issued a demand to review all emails sent or received by all the company’s employees who at any point worked on the Trump project, justifying the mass invasion of privacy as necessary to the furtherance of his “investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.” Naturally, Mueller’s demands were headlined with the same panting anticipation accorded each of his investigatory miscues, but no subsequent headlines emerged, meaning nothing pertinent to the story got leaked—meaning, of course,  that nothing even implicitly incriminating was found.

A less sustainable Hiss…

The Left gave Alger the benefit of the doubt long after all doubt had vanished–poor Zuck got nothing but grief–and unlike Hiss, he didn’t even mean to do anything!

And poor Mark Zuckerberg! As if by some cruel whim of the furies, the uber-liberal formerly favored to challenge and unseat Trump in 2020 found himself recast as a modern-day Alger Hiss—except that Hiss was guilty, and except, of course, that Hiss enjoyed the full-throated support of American liberals. It’s not that Zuckerberg hadn’t lied, covered up, excused, or boyishly dissembled scores of more deliberate and far nastier misdeeds over the decades—it just never mattered. Like Hiss before him, the youthful CEO’s status as a progressive wunderkind immunized him against every grievance. But no more! The billionaire’s longstanding writ of fiscal immunity was now also revoked. This meant Zuckerberg was not only culpable of helping Russia manipulate election results—which was suddenly bad–he was also fair game as a heartless fat-cat capitalist pig motivated entirely by greed, which was very very bad!.

Yes, billions! And mostly in rubles, probably! 

Facebook itself was suddenly targeted by legions of former supporters, many of them high-profile liberals with considerable influence—the kind of influence Zuckerberg always relied on to mute his critics and extol his virtues. But now he was the Bizarro Alger Hiss, a traitor, who—for reasons no rational person could presume to identify—sold out to Putin and robbed Hillary of her throne.


Shady pro-Kremlin Russian propaganda!

Robert Mueller, ever shark-like in his knack for sensing wounded quarry, announced that Facebook was “now a central focus of the Justice Department probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election.” Laughable in the extreme, of course, not to say shamelessly fantastic–but suddenly headline news echoed by flabbergasted news anchors across the land. Bloomberg chimed in immediately, reporting that Mueller’s team would be “seeking additional evidence of Facebook’s role in spreading propaganda and fake-news stories.” The next news cycle was barely underway before the special counsel subpoenaed Facebook’s records and pronounced himself aghast by the discovery that Facebook sold “about $100,000 worth of ads” to what Bloomberg rushed to denounce as “a shady pro-Kremlin Russian propaganda company seeking to target U.S. voters” (Yes, they were trying to say, “Cambridge Analytica,” but the oft-confirmed absence of any evidence supporting Bloomberg’s or Muellers’s charges made naming the company too dangerous. After all, even the  staunchest defenders of democracy and our sacred individual franchise prefer to avoid liable suits.) Too, nobody bothered to mention that “about $100,000 worth of ads” was barely lunch money by Facebook standards, which also meant no one was required to explain how Russia orchestrated the biggest intelligence coup since the Rosenbergs handed Moscow the A-bomb –and pulled it all off for chump-change.

In fact, Mueller’s sleuths hadn’t unearthed anything at all. The story was old news, having first surfaced when Zuckerberg was still golden, meaning he had only to assure reporters the charges were “pretty crazy,” and wake up next day to find his dismissal accorded all the solemnity of a Supreme Court ruling.

But that was then. Once Mueller’s crew blundered upon the long-dormant story and pretended they’d dragged it from some quivering informant, the networks dutifully pronounced themselves “shocked” and rebooted the chestnut as yet another “bombshell.” The Daily Beast howled that Kremlin infiltrators “using false identities to create Facebook events” had managed to “inflame partisan divisions over immigration and Islam.” Over immigration and Islam?! Why? Apparently because the last thing Putin wanted was a United States weakened by unchecked mass immigration, slashed defense budgets, higher taxation, chronic recession, a disarmed citizenry and  flourishing crime. Bloomberg added that “multiple agencies including the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the F.B.I. [were] racing to prevent future hacking…including potential threats to the 2018 midterm elections.” Obviously, then, any Republican midterm wins would suffice as evidence of continued Russian interference…and all because that rotter Mark Zuckerberg sold Hillary down the river!

The victim

Zuckerberg played the apology card. He didn’t like it much, but apologies never failed him when circumstances precluded options. He’d been wrong, he admitted, in saying Facebook was free of perfidious influences, but he was the victim. And Facebook, Zuck explained, was now awakened and on guard. It would no longer tolerate “advertisements for news outlets publishing misinformation.” [Savor the drollery, gentle readers.] Beyond that, publishers wishing to run ads would now be required to demonstrate an “authentic, established presence on Facebook” as well as proof that “they are who they represent themselves to be, and have had a profile or page on Facebook for at least one month.” And if all that seemed suspiciously irrelevant, Zuckerberg pledged to shut down all “inauthentic accounts” and any pages “believed to be operated out of Russia.” Believed? But there was still more! For extra measure, Facebook would no longer tolerate “fake news,” and Zuckerberg announced new technologies enabling his vigilant analysts to pounce instantly on fake accounts, online harassment, and “false amplifiers,” whatever those were. As adroitly crafted oratory, Zuck’s effort was nothing short of masterful. But in the era of the New Inquisition, it wasn’t enough.

The Wild, Wild West…

In an unprecedented move, CBS anchors took turns on 60 Minutes and elsewhere rehashing montages featuring every one of Zuck’s past apologies all the while making certain to shake their heads ruefully, pantomime disbelief, and even to inject the occasional, ironic chuckle, so craven was the deplorable Zuck.


“You mean, you still don’t love me any more?”

On Capitol Hill, trashing Facebook became the latest bipartisan sport. But never mind those paranoid Republicans, the intelligence committee’s top Democrat, Senator Mark Warner, suddenly realized, “the whole notion of social media and how it is used in political campaigns is the wild, wild west.” Summoning enough quavering solemnity to beggar Dan Rather and Harry Reid combined, Warner added that Zuckerberg’s duplicity “in the immediate aftermath of our elections” raised the obvious question of “what he knew, and when he knew it.” Watergate, get it? Only now, Zuck was Nixon—a casting decision better suited to a skit performed in Bedlam.

At a certain point, Zuck just wanted to be sure there was a door leading out of there.

The Daily Beast, meanwhile, uncovered and exposed  “the political firewall in Washington” that for too long kept Facebook “ensconced in a halo.” Finally! But, lest anyone finger them–or any equally culpable parties–as components of the firewall, the Beast blamed Zuckerberg’s free ride on “consumer goodwill.” Take that, consumerism!

HUAWEI’s logo. Suggested new slogan: “At least we’re not Russians!”

Next, the New York Times blasted Facebook for sharing user data with device manufacturers, confuting Zuckerberg’s prior statements to journalists and congress made back when sharing data with device manufacturers was of no concern to the Left.  Confronted with a phalanx of reporters and politicians who only months before adored him, Zuckerberg glumly confirmed that one of the device makers was Huawei, a Chinese company, which the Times learned “many policymakers in DC think is too cozy with the Chinese government” (as if the Times could find a Chinese company that wasn’t).

Stories of Zuckerberg’s resignation, or impending resignation, flooded Twitter, blogs, and even Facebook pages, provoking an avalanche of speculation across all lines, Fox News and Drudge being no more inclined to salvage Zuckerberg than more recently anathematized outlets like MSNBC and NPR.  It was all fake news, however. Facebook’s board changed  its certificate of incorporation, limiting Zuck’s majority voting control to his term as a company executive—but stopped short of expelling him. Still, the writing was on the wall. Further changes forbade Zuckerberg passing his majority control to his descendants in the event of his death.  Zuck, in other words, remained CEO, but he no longer commanded the awe-smitten fealty of his minions.

The Vengeance of Zuck?

“Hi! I’m–like–Facebook’s global head of news partnerships, and I’m–like–here to revitalize journalism!”

By August, press reports exposed a new face of Facebook—more remindful of Ares than Hermes. Had Zuck been pushed too far? Under headlines like WORK WITH US OR DIE, news accounts claimed Facebook had resorted to strong-arming media firms into working with it. In Australia, Reporter Natasha Clark cited “five confirmed sources” claiming that Facebook’s “global head of news partnerships” harangued roomfuls of media moguls, warning them, “Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t care about publishers!”(Gulp!)  Luckily for the publishers, however, Facebook’s global head of news partnerships pronounced herself less unsympathetic. “We are not interested in talking to you about your traffic and referrals anymore,” declared the emissary, “That is the old world and there is no going back!”  But good news was at hand. Those willing to enter the new world with Mark Zuckerberg would prosper. “We will help you revitalize journalism,” quoth the emissary. As for those who remained obdurate?  “… in a few years…looks like I’ll be holding your hands with your dying business–like–in a hospice.”

Untrue and out of context!

And who was this Delphic authority?  Why, Campbell Brown, who, although far from the worst anchor in CNN history, saw her best effort, Campbell Brown: No Bias, No Bull, evaporate because nobody watched it. Granted, low viewership is not a reliable gauge of quality in the news-and-opinion game, but it hardly enhances the resume of a lady promising to “revitalize journalism.” Unsurprisingly, when reports of Brown’s methods burst into print, Facebook denounced them as “untrue and taken out of context.” Obviously, neither rebuttal could obtain without rendering the other invalid, but never mind—Facebook’s spring offensive crashed to a halt just as psychology, qua psychology, (always eager to meet the progressive standard, though habitually slow on the uptake), unleashed a fusillade of peer-reviewed warnings about the newly discovered dangers of —social media!

The medium is the (wrong) message!

As if conjointly inspired by some memo from the collective unconscious, psychologists everywhere rushed to warn the laity about social media, and specifically Facebook. To kick things off, Baroness Susan Greenfield of Oxford University–“one of Britain’s most eminent brain scientists”–declared children particularly at risk. Her data revealed loss of empathy and poor interpersonal communication skills associated with Facebook patronage. “What I predict is that people are going to be like three-year-olds: emotional, risk-taking, poor social skills, weak self-identity and short attention spans,” she warned.

Oxford’s Greenfield–“eminent brain scientist” and obvious clothes horse.

Don’t drink the cortisol!

If only he’d had a Facebook account!

Hadn’t it been only yesterday that Psychology Today asked, “Is there something wrong with people who don’t use Facebook?” Hadn’t a widely cited German study correlated mass murder with the absence of Facebook accounts in the lives of killers like James Holmes, and Norway’s record-breaking Behring Breivik, suggesting the resultant lack of human interaction “could be the first sign that you are a mass murderer…” But wait! Out of nowhere, learned clinicians like Eric Vanman, senior lecturer at the University of Queensland’s School of Psychology, began publishing peer-reviewed studies citing Facebook as a major cause of excessive levels of the hormone cortisol. And too much cortisol not only creates stress and anti-social behavior–it promotes obesity, impaired cognition, decreased thyroid function, and even cardiovascular disease. Vanman and his colleagues made no bones about the solution, stating in the Journal of Social Psychology that “Taking a Facebook break for just 5 days reduces a person’s level of the stress hormone cortisol.” Draw your own conclusions, people!  Facebook not only wouldn’t mollify potential mass murderers– it was practically creating them!

It’s for our children’s brains!

Additional betrayals hit closer to home. Tell-all books? Insider confessions? Diatribes from the fashionably disenchanted? Every establishment luminary knows such misfortunes erupt only on the political Right. But here was Sean Parker, the wiz kid most responsible for transforming Facebook from a collegian fad into a billion-dollar monolith, confessing his role in popularizing a social blight “designed specifically to exploit a vulnerability in human psychology resulting in nothing short of a public addiction!” Worse, in what could pass as an audition for a Mueller interview, Parks named his co-conspirators, including Zuckerberg, telling interviewers they “understood this consciously and…did it anyway,” adding, “God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”


“If we save just one child’s brain…”

Zuck Redux?

Poor Zuck—by now we’re feeling pretty sorry for him ourselves! So, in the spirit of Pandora, we decline to abandon this assemblage of glum tidings without appending a note of optimism. Can the Zuck regain his mojo? Despite the chorus of doomsayers, WOOF believes he can and will. And just in case you happen to peruse this screed, Mark, (perhaps in the process of deleting it from this or that Facebook page) we wish to offer some advice. We offer it freely, aware that in doing so we evoke the spirit of Machiavelli—whose name you probably recognize, being a Harvard man. We invite our learned readers to additionally view this evocation in the spirit of Strauss (Leo, not Johann) and Mansfield (Harvey, not Jayne), but you needn’t worry about that at all, Mark—just check out the following list of surefire solutions to your predicament!

Herewith, some advice to the Prince–in the spirit of Harvey, not Jayne!


Choose your enemy wisely!  Cease all counter attacks on the media immediately! Bad idea! You are understandably stung by the establishment’s treachery—but power-diving tactics of the sort Miss Brown employed in Australia will achieve only Pyrrhic victories. Your task is not to retaliate against the media, but rather to impel their renewed support. This is easily accomplished. Fortunately, a fresh burst of criticism erupted last week deploring your continued  suppression of conservative ideas, not only online, but also within your company, Increasingly, your associates and employees are going public about your hypocrisy in preaching diversity while—as one recently charged–maintaining a political “monoculture that is intolerant of different views.” This is marvelous luck. The media will initially report these complaints objectively in their eagerness to further sully your reputation, but they cannot do so for long without realizing they are advancing conservative arguments. At that point, they will hang a screeching one-eighty and return to broadcasting your PR bologna. Hasten this event!

Stop pretending to care about diversity! You’ve announced a new training protocol intended to teach employees respect for different political views. This is your typical application of faux repentance–one of your time-honored specialties, though much diminished by overuse. Let the media report this latest foray into affected contrition, and then drop the act. Instead, go on the offensive. Redouble your oppression! Mercilessly cut away conservative websites, delete pages offering right-of-center materials, and increase your efforts to demote, hamper, censor, or bowdlerize private pages that don’t serve Progressivism. You have nothing to fear. Your problem is not the Right; in fact, the more you abuse us, the more the establishment will defend you and the more accolades you will obtain from the media. They will not pause to recall bygone news cycles—believe us—it’s a simple matter of Pavlovian conditioning. Fit yourself to their template—use phrases like “abolishing hate speech,” “weeding out dog whistle racism,” and “neutralizing Russian interference.” The news talkers will salivate reflexively.

Stand up to Congress! Don’t grovel or equivocate in front of majority-led Republican committees–use a little Maoist lingual revisionism. Make semantical paradox your ally! For instance, play the Ayn Rand protagonist for the moment. (She was an author, by the way–you wouldn’t like her, but that’s not important now.) Remind congress you’re a free citizen answerable only to the free market. Say “free” as much as possible. Highlight their hypocrisy! Denounce their efforts to regulate private enterprise and nationalize your vision. Be sure your public relations people laud your courage under fire; advise anyone willing to speak on your behalf to say “the CEO is speaking truth to power” as often as possible. That one never gets old!

Name the enemy! Obviously, you can’t come out and say Facebook simply refuses to accommodate conservatives. Not yet, anyway. Instead, attack a straw man.  Luckily, the Left has already provided one. Make it all about battling “fascism.” Millennials have no idea what fascism is, but they equate it to anyone less socialist than Bernie Sanders. In fact, nowadays, even plenty of educated liberals believe it’s a synonym for conservatism. You didn’t debauch our language, Mark, but you can profit from the debauchery!

Exploit your monopoly! For the foreseeable future Facebook is the only game in town for anyone seeking the variety of services it provides. Never give away your power! If conservatives try to create alternatives, or libertarians switch to some other platform, let them go! Most will wander back as their efforts collapse from lack of financing, and stigmatization generated by the establishment’s informational hegemony. You are global. You cooperate with China. You cooperate with Islam. Why bother with a handful of neo-con cranks? Call them “Alt Right haters.” Let the media bludgeon them into insignificance as it reflexively rejoins your cause.

Make time your ally! Ignore the recent attacks from your liberal comrades. Sure, they sting, but trust us, they will melt away as your corporate brand increasingly correlates with Trump bashing, gun-grabbing, and a principled stand against right-wing (say “Alt Right”) bigotry and ignorance. Your salvation will come from the Left, Mark. Be sure to include an energetic purging of fundamentalist Christians opposed to LGBTQ-etc.-rights (cite hate speech), teamed with a seemingly paradoxical (but equally vital) defense of first-amendment rights for Muslim subscribers–no matter how noxiously radical. Stress Facebook’s unqualified support for women’s health issues (by which everyone will understand is meant infanticide), social justice (Sharia Law), open borders, and legitimate science (this last mandating removal of all content critical of global warming, Darwin, or the endless mutability of sexual identity). Strike without mercy, Mark!                                                       __________________________________________________

Follow these suggestions and let the proven inability of today’s media to retain anything in mind longer than it serves a specific propagandistic purpose resolve the rest. The establishment will take up your cause and declaim your integrity with greater enthusiasm than ever before. And it will take 90 days, tops.

[No need to thank us, Mark, and absolutely no need to remunerate us financially for salvaging your empire–we here at WOOF believe in the way of give, not get. But if you feel some sort of gesture is warranted, you might consider banning Watchdogs of Our Freedom in some particularly outspoken way—really hold us up to derision—spread it around we’re the worst of the worst. Granted, this may prove difficult since we’ve never had a Facebook account, but you could say we’re so despicable you decided to ban us prophylactically—you know, before we even had a chance to spread our reactionary Billingsgate over your medium.  A few words from you could really put us on the map! But don’t waste any time—we’ve already emailed Robert Mueller telling him we refuse to reveal what we know about peeing prostitutes and Russian collusion in general, and you don’t want to look like a Johnny-come-lately, right?


In "Apocalypse NOT" forum on May 31, 2018 at 10:39 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!   


Fellow earthlings—that sounds inclusive enough, doesn’t it? —your humble editor begs your indulgence as he departs the political realm in this column to address a topic about which he knows absolutely nothing. This is merely to say that your editor is not a meteorologist, has never studied meteorology, and, like most Americans, relies on those trained in that expertise for guidance. This is especially the case when such guidance appears undersigned by 15,000 recognized experts whose uniform opinion is that we—meaning all of us, including, presumably, each of Facebook’s 71 gender options—are blindly marching toward planetary disaster. Given the gravity of the situation, surely our readers will acknowledge the importance of turning–for at least this crucial moment–from our typical fare to a far less subjective discipline–one amounting to settled science.

Can 15,000 scientists be wrong?

Old Bugler felt compelled to undertake this discussion despite his confessed unfamiliarity with the field, owing to his shock and alarm upon learning that “Humans are sleepwalking into a mass extinction of species not seen since the demise of the dinosaurs.” That headline, emblazoned above an article in the U.K. Independent, derived in turn from the authoritative Journal of Communications Biology, certainly commanded attention. Moreover, the discovery that “British scientists” were the principal issuers of the warning served to instill the matter with an unsettling momentousness, because–as most Americans intuitively grasp–British scientists, being British, are prohibited by their inherent Brythonic natures from issuing frivolous or irresponsible pronouncements—a characteristic that imbues their findings with  near-lapideous credibility.

From Old Bugler’s “Great Moments in British Science” archive, the Dr. Quatermass section.

On this basis alone, it seemed imperative to absorb the entire report, described by the authors as a “new letter to humanity” (presumably because nobody would bother to reread an old one) signed by the above-mentioned 15,000 scientists joined in tendering a “catastrophic warning about the fate of the world.” Readers will readily apprehend the mounting trepidation with which your editor read further, anxious as he was to descry by what means our mass extinction was to ensue. Were these learned scientists privy to the emerging truth about UFOs— had the Zeta Reticulans communicated their intent to eradicate earth’s dominant species? Or was an enormous asteroid hurtling toward us via some unanticipated orbit leaving only weeks—perhaps days—before its globe-shattering impact vaporized the lot of us? Or was the long overdue yet widely anticipated Planet Nibiru finally entering that aspect of its oft-described elliptical orbit so proximal to our world as to occasion our moon’s ejection from orbit, followed swiftly by a stupendous collision with Earth as a grand finale? Or perhaps the Security Board of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists accidentally moved their doomsday clock’s hand all the way to midnight, thus ensuring thermonuclear war.

“Careful, you fool! Another inch and you’ll blast the planet to smithereens!”

Old Bugler’s mind raced as he probed for details, and while he was instantly uncomfortable with the article’s content, his initial objections pertained more to the designated cause of mankind’s demise than any doubts about substance. True, a less dull-witted reader might have inferred at first glance that our impending mass extinction was, like so much else nowadays, a ramification of climate change–and certainly mass extinction is no less frightful whether provoked by aliens, asteroids, or global warming. That said, your humble editor is so peculiarly constituted that faced with inevasible doom, he would prefer something more original. But this admittedly irrational reaction was quickly superseded by an encroaching awareness of something more authentically anticlimactic. The report’s language took what seemed a curious turn, and precisely at that point typically devoted to substantiating the authors’ findings.  Instead, the prose seemed almost to downshift–to reflect a more nuanced tone, even while maintaining that “man-made global change is threatening the diversity of different creatures that have taken millennia to evolve.”

Poised to extirpate….

All right, any sentence containing a reference to man-made global change (by which was clearly intended global climatic change) is far from sanguine, and readers may be forgiven for deeming it premature, even reckless, to characterize evidence of an event poised to extirpate “different creatures that have taken millennia to evolve” as “downshifting,” or anticlimactic. Your editor felt a flash of shame at his rising incredulity. He reminded himself that any species said to have evolved has, in fact, “taken millennia to evolve,” including our own. That’s what we call settled science.  Thus, humans might well be among those “different creatures” to which the report alluded. But even as this logic compelled his further investigation, Old Bugler felt the tingle of an almost preconscious wariness–a sensation akin to that creeping blush of mortification that accompanies the realization that one has been cozened. Yes, cozened— a polite, nearly archaic term, less violent and roughshod than swindled, or flimflammed, meaning congenially and artfully deceived.

As history bears witness, global warming experts sometimes indulge in outright fakery, as in the NOAA scandal exposed by Dr. John Bates in 2017; but your editor suspects no such overt manipulation of data in this instance–British humor is subtler.

Science has long predicted extreme weather events even more disturbing than depicted here! 

At first, your humble editor’s aforementioned faith in the integrity of modern science, and modern British science in particular, forestalled any suspicion greater than a reflexive distrust of his own perceptions. Surely, an epistolary decree to the world undersigned by a veritable pantheon of distinguished scientists (not a few of whom actually study climate) surely exemplified a level of scholarship so elevated as to exclude any hint of…well…syntactic chicanery? And yet—reading on—one learns that “global warming and rising sea levels threaten to wipe out many species that cannot adapt to change quickly enough.” Worrisome, to say the least, but hardly, on the surface of it, indicative of the epic debacle implied by the title. What revelations lurked in the full report?  Was humankind among those species teetering on the brink of destruction? Does a subset of humanity reside nearer “the brink” being situated nearer beaches and ports? Is this subset liable to wholesale slaughter because rising sea levels will ultimately consume our coastal cities (despite several postponements and hasty reschedulings) whereupon the tides are expected to surge so violently that these hapless souls will be “wiped out” because they “cannot adapt to change quickly enough?” And even if such a catastrophe drowned multitudes of injudiciously situated victims, could we objectively call it “mass extinction?” No, something was definitely amiss.

Save the undocumented species!

Extinction is real,. The “Aye Aye” of Madagascar, for example,, is reportedly nearing extinction. Nature can certainly be cruel.

An impression began to solidify in Old Bugler’s consciousness:. Humans weren’t “sleepwalking into mass extinction” after all. Rather, it appeared that various species quite apart from our own were facing extinction, or might be, which datum formed the gravamen of what came advertised as a “catastrophic warning about the fate of the world.” In fairness, your editor reasoned, the deceptively crafted headline was probably the handiwork of some junior editor at the Independent assigned the task of slyly sensationalizing relatively mundane science stories—the better to encourage “clicks.”

But no, as a careful rereading served to verify, the language derived verbatim from the report itself, in which no less a luminary than Professor of Evolutionary Paleobiology Matthew Wills at the Milner Centre for Evolution at the University of Bath (which is in England, please note) specifically stated, “We are sleepwalking into a mass extinction of a magnitude unparalleled since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs.” The miscommunication seemed to stem from Professor Wills’s liberal application of the pronoun ‘we,’ by which he seems to refer to sentient lifeforms quite apart from ourselves, only certain subspecies of which are threatened with possible extinction, and none of which, so far as Old Bugler is aware, is known to sleepwalk. In fact, the majority of lifeforms identified in the “New Letter to Humanity” as likely candidates for extinction appears to constitute shrimp. Adding to these concerns, Wills makes so bold as to declare: “We are already losing diversity that has never even been documented” –an illation suggesting near-supermundane percipience, one must conclude, considering the difficulties inherent in verifying the loss of species that have “never even been documented.”

Knowing the fate of the dinosaurs should serve as ample warning as to what occurs when climatologists are ignored. Or gigantic meteors, anyway.

Dr. Katie Davis enjoys a large order of french fries, demonstrating, perhaps, that concerns about cholesterol become academic on the presipice of mass extinction.

Next, Research Fellow Dr Katie Davis, an evolutionary palaeobiologist at the University of York, (England), explained that “Understanding the processes that shaped the strikingly irregular distribution of species richness across the Tree of Life is a major research agenda,” which one can readily believe without seeing any obvious way in which such a quest, no matter what its priority, bears on humankind’s blind march toward “extinction of a magnitude unparalleled since …the dinosaurs.” In fact, even an exact appraisal of the threat level eludes us, as Davis acknowledges “depending upon estimates, between two and fifty million extant species of animals (Metazoa), all derived from a single common ancestral species that lived some 650 million years ago.” So if there are either 50 million or 2 million of them, or any number in between, surely predicting what number of them will or will not become extinct entails considerable arbitrariness? And besides, Davis reveals, “net rates of speciation…exceed rates of extinction,” even though, she somewhat defensively insists, “the balance of these processes varies greatly, both between clades and throughout geological time.”

Like Darwin’s finches…

Dr. de Grave is head of research at the prestigious Oxford University Museum, yet so unaffected, you can call him “Sammy.”

Clades and geological time aside (lest they distract us from mass extinction of the imminent variety), the data, viewed objectively, show that more species are tabulated extant than extinct by a sizable margin. Even more reassuring is the discovery that “shrimp have independently transitioned from marine to freshwater habitats repeatedly, creating much richer pockets of biodiversity.” Surely this suggests a level of adaptability that belies the premise of the report? Indeed, it transpires that “the relative isolation of lakes and rivers appear [sic] to increase the diversity of species in a similar way to Darwin’s finches on island chains.” And diversity, as every educated person is aware by now, is wonderful. So, given these uplifting discoveries, what is the problem? In a game attempt to maintain the study’s apocalyptic tenor, co-author Sammy de Grave, head of research at the Oxford University Museum, adds: “But rising sea levels caused by climate change could put these pockets at risk, disrupting these freshwater distributions and leading to extinctions as a result.”

Could?  Really? So because 15,000 scientists saw fit to misrepresent a conglomeration of learned speculation and unbridled conjecture as proof of Armageddon, Old Bugler suffered a hair-raising endocrine event culminating in rampant adrenal surges, autonomic nervous conniptions, waves of quasi-suicidal angst and a pounding pulse rate? Good heavens, people, get a grip on yourselves! Why restyle what amounts to a preponderantly uplifting review of the miracle of expanding biodiversity and the amazing versatility of living organisms, as a “catastrophic warning about the fate of the world” when in reality, the worst extractable possibility is that, in the event of certain mootable hypotheses coming to fruition given certain circumstances that might or might not develop, it could be the case that certain levels of destruction might or might not, be visited upon certain unknowable varieties of species whose current numbers cannot be accurately estimated, and who are, in any case, largely “carideans,” which, not to put too fine a point on the matter, means shrimp.  By what evaluative standard is the loss, however regrettable, of a few million carideans, (give or take a few million), a blow to humankind equatable with mass extinction on a par with the dinosaurs?  And come to think of it, when was the last time you really needed a dinosaur?

“You, your community, and your family!”

Old Bugler is happy to report that his parasympathetic nervous system has restored him to psycho-biological homeostasis in the wake of what initially seemed an inescapable, onrushing cataclysm.  He is once again seated calmly before his Alger Hiss autograph-series Woodstock Model 5 typewriter, sipping a sudsy Yuengling, and sorting through the day’s dispatches. Outside the WOOF cave, seabirds–at least the surviving species of them–are cawing and cavorting blithesomely. Before him, your editor cannot help noticing among the daily flurry of news items, lies an “updated” bulletin from the Union of Concerned Scientists. A glance suffices to establish that “Unless we take immediate action to reduce global warming emissions, these impacts will continue to intensify, grow ever more costly and damaging, and increasingly affect the entire planet — including you, your community, and your family.” Be that as it may, Old Bugler will resist, for now, examining precisely what “these impacts” entail. One Götterdämmerung a week is enough for any senior editor–and this one is content to leave planetary salvation in the capable hands of concerned scientists, especially those residing in England.

Wait a minute–those aren’t seabirds!

Second thoughts…

Although on second thought, it seems churlish to eschew all responsibility for the fate of the planet—especially in view of the tireless efforts at outreach emanating from so many informed professionals enjoining us to “take immediate action.” With this in mind, your editor scribbled a hasty memo to the elves in WOOF’s art department, requesting the “immediate” designing and limited issuance of bumper stickers exhorting our fellow citizens to “SAVE THE SHRIMP!”

Further, your editor pledges to affix one to his 1964 Corvair’s rear bumper, right next to the sticker bearing the faded legend: “AuH2O,” and beyond this, he pledges to forward an additional bumper sticker absolutely free to anyone requesting it, while supplies last.  One must, after all, do one’s part–our planet is depending on us! 

Free while supplies last!

“CHAPPAQUIDDICK” or, WOOF reviews another film it hasn’t seen!

In "Ready when you are C.B.!" forum on May 14, 2018 at 4:01 pm

Our guarantee of freshness:

Seasoned readers are by now familiar with WOOF’s habit of reviewing films while adhering to our iron-clad rule that no film will be reviewed on our website unless our reviewers have scrupulously avoided seeing it. We believe our strict adherence to this standard ensures that ours are the fairest, most impartial cinema critiques anywhere in cyberspace. Limiting ourselves to movies we haven’t seen obviously frees our analyses of those partialities that would inevitably accrue during any actual exposure to the works under consideration. Apparently quite a few of you agree, as our movie reviews are always among our most popular posts, and among the most visited after time has swept them from our ‘front page’ to our archives. It is therefore with considerable pleasure, and not a little reportorial pride, that we present our latest film review of a movie we haven’t seen, namely “CHAPPAQUIDDICK,” Directed by John Curran, Screenwriters: Taylor Allen; Andrew Logan; cinematography by Maryse Alberti; edited by Keith Fraase.


In his Cooper Union speech, Abraham Lincoln offered a timeless condemnation of those who, then as now, proffer compromise as though it were an Aristotelian master stroke. All right, we admit it–some occasions require a little give and take. In certain situations, trade-offs prove the beneficial fruits of what an author once called “the art of the deal.” But far more often they are smarmy abandonments of principle disguised as statesmanship—or what Lincoln denounced as “contrivances…groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong,” which contrivances he proceeded to denounce as “vain as the search for a man who should be neither a living man nor a dead man.” Of course, Lincoln was unfamiliar with Schrodinger’s cat, but we digress.

Neither living nor dead.

Ted Kennedy is dead, or, as the Munchkin coroner described the Wicked Witch of the East, “Really most sincerely dead.” And yet, in the interest of even-handedness, (or perhaps less lofty–if completely understandable–considerations) the film Chappaquiddick portrays him as what Lincoln might have called “neither a living man nor a dead man” in the sense that screenwriters Allen and Logan repeatedly subject the Senator to withering fusillades of biographic divulgement, but in each instance demur at administering the coup de gras.

Director Curran–funny, he doesn’t look unhinged.

Why, you may ask, is a temperate, fair-minded organization like WOOF suddenly driven to envenom a film review with so vulgar an instinct as vindictiveness; especially when critics as diverse as Glenn Beck and the Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers agree that Chappaquiddick’s excellence is due largely to its dramatic restraint? Why, when even New York Times film critic A. O. Scott, (though admitting trepidation at the film’s release), is able to offer a complimentary review based on the film’s “forsaking sensationalism for sober, procedural storytelling,” should WOOF take pains to stake out the low ground, and fault Chappaquiddick for the very qualities extolled by so many of its admirers?  We think Barry Goldwater best explained our position during his acceptance speech at the 1964 Republican convention. Conservatives will recall his averral that “extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice,” but the Arizonan most precisely summarized our case against John Curran’s new film when he added that “moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!” And that’s what Lincoln was trying to tell us, too. And that’s what we are trying to tell you.  In other words, our disappointment stems less from what Chappaquiddick is, than from what it might have been.

“You’re all we’ve got!”

A young Al Lowenstein, around the time he realized there was nothing left but Teddy.

So, imagine for a moment that our film opens in the immediate wake of Bobby Kennedy’s assassination, or put another way, at the dawn of the popular jape: “They’re like the Kennedys, all the good ones have been taken!” And as if by way of demonstration, we find ourselves inside the elevator at Good Samaritan Hospital where a shaken, ghostly-pale Teddy (as the press affectionately dubbed Edward Moore Kennedy) is accompanying his slain brother’s body to the basement morgue. Suddenly, the door slides open and a nearly hysterical Al Lowenstein, (Kennedy adviser, anti-war icon, occasional office seeker) rushes aboard. Looking up to glimpse Ted, Lowenstein grabs him by the shoulders, shakes him frantically, and shouts, “Now that Bobby’s gone, you’re all we’ve got!” We zoom in on Ted’s face—he gapes speechlessly at Lowenstein, open-mouthed, petrified, incapable of verbalizing a response. We fade to black and superimpose the words: “One year later…”

Cut to an interior shot aboard an airliner returning from a 1969 congressional trip billed as a fact-finding mission to investigate Inuit poverty in Alaska. Ted Kennedy, (who earlier stumbled drunkenly into the airport at Anchorage shouting “ESKIMO POWAH!”), is now shown surrounded by aids and flight attendants trying to restrain him as he stumbles and reels down the aisle, bellowing, “They’re going to shoot my ass off the way they shot off Bobby’s!” An aide grabs the senator’s spastically waving hand and presses a hot cup of coffee into it. Kennedy grasps the cup, but lurches wildly when a stewardess attempts to guide him toward his seat. He nearly scalds a mother and her infant in the adjacent row. Insensible of the offense, Kennedy continues ranting about his impending doom as his attendants coax him back to his seat. He shouts “ESKIMO POWAHHH!!” a few more times, contenting himself, finally, with tossing dinner rolls at reporters while his team scrambles to pacify the offended passengers.

Next, we watch Teddy’s airliner land in Seattle. Reporters who witnessed the incident dash into the terminal to file their scoops, but we watch in shocked disbelief as the screen shifts to a mélange of newspaper editors and network news producers ordering the story “spiked”—killed—forgotten. It’s 1969, and no writers apart from a handful of vile, shadow-dwelling right-wing misanthropic scribblers of unreviewed, fringe-marketed books (who probably voted for Goldwater and almost certainly for Nixon), report dirt on the Kennedys.

Cut to an exterior shot of Newsweek’s Manhattan headquarters, identifiable by the magazine’s logo blazoned across the building’s top story. We zoom in through a window high above Hanover Square into an office in which a seasoned reporter urgently dials a phone. The screen inserts his name, John Lindsay, and identifies him as “Senate reporter for Newsweek magazine.” This saves confusion among audience members old enough to otherwise mistake him for the contemporaneous mayor of New York City. No, this is John J. Lindsay, accomplished journalist. His appearance raises the prospect of integrity triumphing over sycophancy. And look! Lindsay’s deeply furrowed brow bespeaks grave concern. Perhaps he is laying his job on the line. Perhaps he is phoning his editor, demanding the Kennedy story be told and told truthfully. After all, Lindsay fits a specific Hollywood stereotype geared to resonate with the American psyche–the hardened newshound defending the people’s right to know. Surely, his infectious ardor, his rhetorical passion, will rekindle long-dormant convictions in his veteran editor—Ed Asner, maybe–a crotchety-but-noble industry pro who after a few efforts at dissuasion leans back, pours himself a jigger of rye, and rasps, “Why not? Why not one last crusade!?”

“Why not one last crusade?” Well, Asner probably wouldn’t have done the picture, for one thing!

Disaster waiting to happen!

“That’s right–disaster wairting to happen! No, no, even worse than getting kicked out of Harvard!”

But no, that isn’t what happens. The phone isn’t answered by Lindsay’s editor, it is answered by a mysterious female. Is it—could it be—Joan Kennedy? Jackie, even? Whoever it is, Lindsay begins telling her about the airplane debacle, entreating her to take a hand, to do something “before something really terrible happens!”  “Ted is out of control,” Lindsay insists, and then, in a voice lowered almost to a whisper, he adds, “Ted is under terrible stress—and I’m telling you, if he doesn’t get help, he’s a disaster waiting to happen!

Is that you, Jackie?

Okay, not what we were hoping for, perhaps, but this can still work. We simply cut away from Lindsay’s close up with one of those abruptly jarring Thelonious Monk chords used nowadays to punctuate dramatic movie moments, and we “smash cut” from Lindsay’s under lit office to our main locale–a bucolic, riparian setting in somnolent New England. We find ourselves juxtapositionally tranquilized—but look out! To the nail-biting clang of another Thelonious Monk chord we INSERT TITLE CARD (that’s movie talk) and the screen is suddenly ablaze with a single, momentous word:  Chappaquiddick!

Our story so far….

So, beloved readers, how do you like the movie so far? We think it’s pretty impressive. And historically faithful? Absolutely!  Okay, except for that part about the woman on the other end of Lindsay’s phone call. We made her up, or rather we hypothesized her, because even though almost everyone agrees on the language Lindsay employed, nobody seems certain to whom he spoke it. And there’s one other problem—namely, none of what we just described is actually in the movie. File it under what MAD magazine used to call “scenes we’d like to see.” Historically verifiable, but consigned to the cutting room floor of our imaginations. Chappaquiddick, after all, made it past the New York Times by “forsaking sensationalism,” possibly because Curran knew his biopic, were it sensational even in a manner befitting Edward Kennedy’s depraved life and career, would die aborning—insufficiently immunized against a bilious media, not to mention the wrath of Hyannisport…a malignant force ruinous to the careers of more than a few entertainers, journalists, and biographers, even today.

The post-unassailable plunge….

Teddy, 2004, calling school vouchers “racisst” and “handouts to the wealthy!”

Ted Kennedy, however, is what we might call post-unassailable—although he is probably less annoyed by that fact than the family, having died of brain cancer in 2009.  He was the last of the golden Kennedys–the sons of Joseph and Rose–and his passing was prelude to the waning of the family’s mystique.  A measure of karmic justice is detectable in this, and not a little irony, because the Kennedy legacy fell victim to the very educational policies for which Ted fought tooth and nail—in other words, a single-option, federally regulated archipelago of public schools from which students are routinely graduated despite a conspicuous lack of reading, writing, or ciphering skills, or the merest grasp of science apart from an alertness to global warming.

More significant from the Kennedys’ standpoint, however, is the absence in recent generations of even a glancing acquaintance with American history, apart from an ingrained certitude that Columbus was a genocidal maniac, the Pilgrims were deluded religionists bent on ravaging the environment, that the Founders invented slavery–which was accidentally ended by the Civil War, which was not about slavery—and that Ronald Reagan almost bankrupted the economy with his crazy supply-side economic boom. But Liberalism’s rush to erase any taint of Americanism from our schools came with a hefty side order of blowback. Canons of faith fanatically nurtured by the Left for generations vanished into the same memory hole as George Washington and Sam Adams, a design flaw that left younger Americans untutored in such articles of faith as the saintliness of the Kennedys, the demonic evil of Joe McCarthy, or even such recent taradiddle as the incomparable brilliance of Hillary Clinton.

“Very little, I’m afraid…”

Professor Czitrom –searching for Camelot in the age of Absurdistan.

kind of brutal egalitarianism inhered in public education’s great leap forward: a purification that expunged our past from the lesson plans without regard to any given item’s significance on the political spectrum. Thus, the Kennedys aren’t simply diminished by an educational system grown neglectful of burnishing the family’s mystique. The progressive effort to divorce recent generations from their heritage means the Kennedys are barely mentioned–no more dwelt upon than Ike, Coolidge, or the Teapot Dome Scandal. In 2015, in recognition of 50 years gone by since the assassination of JFK, Professor of History Daniel Czitrom of Mount Holyoke College gave an interview during which he was asked to describe what modern college students know about our 35th president. “Very little, I’m afraid,” was his frank assessment. Small wonder, then, that they know and care even less about his vacuous little brother.

There are, it seems, opinions to the contrary. A review by Susan Wloszczyna suggests Chappaquiddick will do well owing to the presence of the “in-vogue-again Kennedy clan at the center.” On the off-chance that Wloszczyna isn’t nuts, isn’t a resurgence of Kennedymania all the more reason for Chappaquiddick to ‘speak truth to power’ unequivically? But instead we are treated to a barrage of softballs, like dorky Ted vowing to win a regatta, but slamming his sailboat into a marker buoy and catapulting both his passengers into the brine.  Okay, a dramatic foreshadowing of events to come, (and a sailing career littered with rammed obstacles, capsized catamarans, and other madcap feats of incompetence) but nevertheless…?

The “in-vogue-again Kennedy clan,” okay, that blew right past us!

The details, where most dramatically requisite, seem softened to implications. The six “Boiler Room Girls,” as the winsome young staffers formerly employed by Bobby’s campaign were jovially known, are partying in the wake of their boss’s untimely death with a bunch of married guys, one of them being Ted (whose wife Joan is home bedridden with a failing pregnancy soon to end in miscarriage, though the film makes no mention of the fact). Ted is hosting the wingding at the cottage of his chum, lawyer Sidney Lawrence. The cottage is located on Chappaquiddick Island, accessible by ferry from Martha’s Vineyard. So, what really went on at that party?

In the film, we witness a relatively demure replication of nineteen-sixties-style drinking and dancing–demurrer by far than any such festivities featuring Teddy and friends were ever known to be. Indeed, what the Guardian’s reviewer rather inferentially pronounced “a tawdry, boozy weekend” seems more like a scene from a Troy Donahue film of the same era—a bit jazzy and raucous, perhaps, but in an artfully understated Warner Brothers kind of way.

Kate Mara as Mary Jo Kopechne in the party scene from “Chappaquiddick,” or is she auditioning for a remake of “A Summer Place”?

And what’s going on between Teddy and Mary Jo? Enquiring minds want to know, and a scenario presenting the most probable interpretation based on the evidence might seem a legitimate obligation for filmmakers recreating that evening’s events—but again, we are offered nuances. The party scene lasts until nearly midnight when the 37-year old Teddy and his 28-year old passenger are shown leaving in Teddy’s Oldsmobile and blundering onto a dirt road leading toward Dike Bridge. The notion that Kennedy, no matter how drunk, negotiated the substantial turn necessary to leave the island’s one paved thoroughfare (a straight shot to Mary Jo’s hotel) and proceed down the jarringly distinct gravel road, seems implausible. Almost certainly, the plan was to seek a secluded spot, but no such thought is imputed to Ted in the film. Indeed, in the crucial moments between the inexplicable turn and the infamous result, Curran’s penchant for “sober, procedural story telling” deprives us of any hint of explication. No dialogue, no exchange of glances, no telling expressions, impinge upon the camera’s exterior depictions. In other words, if you are not an oblivious millennial, you are shown a visually dramatic reproduction of what you already knew, or at least more or less suspected. Read the rest of this entry »

The Pinky Principle: Watching Congress Demote Itself Beneath any Pretense of Competence!

In "Dead Elephant in the Room" forum on March 19, 2018 at 7:49 pm

Most literate Americans are at least vaguely familiar with the Peter Principle, a management theory promulgated in the early ’70s by Laurence J. Peter who theorized that because promotion is routinely based on an individual’s performance at a given level,  promotions continue until people are promoted to that level at which they no longer perform effectively. Thus, Peter reasoned,  employees everywhere tend to rise to their respective levels of incompetence.  Actually, however, politicians are exempt from the principle. Think about it; they are simply elected, and once elected–unless advancing from House to Senate, for instance–they are not so much promoted as retained in situ. Of course, one oft-voiced criticism of the Peter Principle is that is fails to adequately provide for the possibility of demotion, but again, politicians are immune to demotions (except within party ranks), their overwhelming concern being loss of office.

Fugitives from principle…

That said, it seems obvious that if congress comprises fugitives from the Peter Principle, it is nonetheless subordinate to certain, less equivocal injunctions, among them the second law of thermodynamics–namely that entropy only increases and never decreases.  You knew that, right? True, the statistical mechanics attached to this rule have been so debauched by disputants stretching them to win their points, we feel slighty abashed at invoking them here; but not so abashed as to abandon the matter. To smooth things over with sticklers for scientific exactitude, we will presently reframe our argument in considerably less pretentious terms. Besides, operationalizing a reliable system of measurement is impossible because idiocy, while widely recognizable, can only be quantified subjectively.

Joe Starnes, hot on the trail of Christopher Marlowe.

True, members of congress have engaged in all sorts of bone-headed absurdities throughout our national history, all the while affecting the demeanor of important men (and nowadays women) fixed with grim solemnity upon the virtuous work of statecraft.  Invariably, humor is minable from this. What, after all, is more comically ironic than an assemblage of dunces whose pomposity renders them incognizant of their duncery?  But we contend the contemporary political class has achieved a record-breaking apex of insipidity–a contention, we admit, that resists empirical proof.  How might we objectively demonstrate that government’s current quotient of dunderheads surpasses in numerousness and intensity all previous examples?  Well, the second law of thermodynamics, maybe, but we promised to drop that argument. Suffice it that congress has always been bountifully endowed with morons, maniacs, mountebanks and poltroons. From Senator Benjamin Ryan Tillman (D-SC) complaining in 1900 that “we stuffed ballot boxes, we shot them,” but that his constituents were “scratching their heads,” because Blacks kept voting anyway; to Joe Starnes (D-Ala.), who, while associated with HUAC, demanded that a witness tell him whether Christopher Marlowe was a member of the Communist Party, examples abound.

Comrade Marlowe

Alexa de Tocqueville, pride of “the greatest generation.”

Consider Hillary Clinton, widely advertised by the establishment media as peerlessly brainy, who, while addressing a crowd of adulative supporters in 2016 felt moved to advert to Alexis de Tocqueville, whom she called “Alexa,” and who, she told her audience, “came to the United States in the very early 1930s and traveled around our country…” thus relocating the famous author of Democracy in America, who died in 1859, to the 20th century.  Significantly, those present greeted Mrs. Clinton’s manipulation of the temporal/spacial continuum enthusiastically– and for all we know, Mrs. Clinton continues to suppose that someone named “Alexa” de Tocqueville was a contemporary of Tom Joad’s.  In a similar vein, President Obama, whose entire docket of clownish errata is best enumerated elsewhere [for instance here], swept to the podium during a state visit by French President Hollande in order to laud de Tocqueville, whom he called “Alex.” (Both Hollande and the Bamster might have benefitted from exposure to de Tocqueville, particularly his piercing critique of socialism, but at least Obama kept “Alex” in his rightful century.)

Unusual knowledge, or: The truth is over there in England….

During a painfully scripted appearance with late-night sycophant Jimmy Kimmel (whose enthusiasm for UFOs is well known), Mrs. Clinton vowed that once she was president she would make the government’s flying saucers files public. In so saying, she echoed identical pledges from the campaigns of Jerry Ford and Jimmy Carter, both of whom dropped the subject entirely once ensconced in the West Wing. But the world’s smartest woman was naturally inclined to expatiate. “You know,” she told Kimmel, “there’s a new name, it’s unexplained aerial phenomenon [sic], U.A.P. That’s the latest nomenclature.”

Ivan T. Sanderson–spawning the latest nomenclature back in 1967.

Notwithstanding the absence of any official UFO authority empowered to issue nomenclatural revisions, the term is actually UAO for Unidentified Aerial Objects, which Hillary might have found simpler to pluralize. The coinage originated with biologist and UFO theorist Ivan T. Sanderson who suggested it in his 1967 book Uninvited Visitors, but Sanderson died in 1973 leaving Mrs. Clinton to soldier on alone.  Later, in an interview with Daymond Steer of New Hampshire’s Conway Daily Sun, Clinton reiterated her  determination to declassify the government’s X-files.  For good measure, she promised to unveil the truth about “Area 54.” The candidate subsequently corrected herself, agreeing she meant to say Area 51 (the government’s uninspired name for the best known secret installation in America), but the former First Lady’s gaffe inspired awe among Internet “ufologists” a majority of whom blogged praise for the smartest woman in America, insisting Hillary had not misspoken at all. Rather, they assured one another, she had cunningly updated the UFO community on the location of the Air Force’s new, extra secret UFO testing facility.

Mainstream media (being less inclined to esoteric inferences than most ufologists) simply scrubbed the error and misquoted their favorite candidate as if she’d said “Area 51” in the first place. (In fact, readers seeking to confirm Clinton’s lapsus linguae will be hard pressed unless they explore British press accounts, for instance here).  Substituting the correct designation for Clinton’s misstated one as if they were quoting verbatim enabled the New York Times to remind its readers that Hillary was “known for her grasp of policy,” and possessed “unusual knowledge about extraterrestrials…”  We guess it depends on how you define unusual.

Bozos, left and right…

Donald Rumsfeld–unpredictable from the beginning?

To be fair, none of this is any more risible than “W” Bush explaining that “human beings and fish can co-exist peacefully,” or vowing to “restore chaos” in the Middle East…orthe time W’s  Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, philosophized during a press conference that he “wouldn’t say that the future is necessarily less predictable than the past,” adding, “I think the past was not predictable when it started.”

In 2008, John McCain dazzled viewers of Good Morning America with his geopolitical acuity when, after enumerating the obstacles confronting American forces in Iraq, he summed matters up by explaining, “It’s a very hard struggle, particularly given the situation on the Iraq-Pakistan border.” Actually, a struggle on the Iraq-Pakistan border would be impossible, not hard, because there is no such border.  Iraq and Pakistan are separated by 1,519 miles of Iran. Presently, in a mood remindful of Donald Rumsfeld’s teleological ponderings, McCain enjoined the Pentagon to prepare for the unexpected, but appended, after a museful pause, “What I don’t know is what the unexpected might be.”

Who can forget Bill Clinton defending himself against Kathleen Willey’s charges of rape by explaining, “I would never approach a small-breasted woman,” or Arnold Schwarzenegger insisting that “…gay marriage should be between a man and a woman,” or Tom DeLay epitomizing America’s post-cold-war military primacy by exclaiming,”We’re no longer a superpower. We’re a super-duper power!” or Joe Biden, whose blunders and gaucheries provide an embarrassment of riches, advising firing “two blasts” from a double-barreled shotgun into the darkness off one’s balcony as preferable to owning a semi-automatic firearm. Republican Jay Dickey, U.S. representative from Arkansas, famously opined that “incest should be handled as a family matter” and visionary Democratic state representative Sissy Farenthold  summed matters up best by vowing to work “for the time when unqualified blacks, browns and women join the unqualified men in running our government.”

Sissy Farenthold brings clarity to the issue.

Occasionally failing our words….

Farenthold’s vision may fairly be regarded as realized, and it is our contention that Washington’s current herd of legislative mooncalves is even more bumfuzzled than its historic predecessors. Surely, one can confidently assert that no previous congress has been so pan-institutionally devoted to the production of comic effects, but this immediately invites the rejoinder that quantity and dedication do not necessarily trump refinements of technique or subtleties of execution. It depends, ultimately, on how one prefers one’s drollery. A more significant question presents itself in the meanst, that being: How do such nanoid intellects contrive to win elections, and how do they get re-elected despite establishing records of incontestable oafishness and chicanery?

Sometimes, of course, the plain old “Peter Principle” rears it’s dopey head!

As a case in point, consider Senator Dick Durbin (D-Wis), whose unflagging asaninity first drew national attention when he compared American forces in Iraq to “…Nazis, Soviets in their gulags or some mad regime–Pol Pot or others.” When this characterization proved less popular than Durbin anticipated, he murmurously apologized, explaining that “more than most people, a senator lives by his words [but] occasionally words will fail us and occasionally we will fail words.” A word Durbin failed recently was “chain,” which, he insisted, could no longer be conjoined with “migration,” lest Blacks, upon hearing it, suffer some previously unknown epigenetic trauma and lapse into mass catatonia.  Wondering aloud whether Trump realized “how painful that term is to so many people,” Durbin explained that “African-Americans believe they migrated to America in chains, and when you speak to chain migration, it hurts them personally.”  Apparently this awareness dawned only recently on Senator Durbin, who used the term liberally (no pun intended) prior to proscribing it, besides which, one cannot speak to chain migration–at least, not in anticipation of an answer, but Durbin’s difficulties with syntax are as chronic as his mendacities.

Senator Durbin, wondering aloud….

Recapturing our point, we wonder aloud: Why do the people of Illinois return this egregious jackanapes to the Senate again and again? Could it be the dynamics of entropy affect voters as well as candidates?  Or do the qualities of visibility and fulmination nowadays provide ample grounds for political longevity, supplanting such superannuated concepts as sagacity and substance in an era of dumbed-down discourse and educational decline?  We think so. We submit that energy and timarity (laudable attributes taken in isolation) are now more significant to political success than coherence or productivity; and we have seen this before, gentle readers, but mainly in the realm of pop culture. The problem we currently confront is that all culture is rapidly becoming pop culture. Once we accept this, we begin to perceive the situation’s epochal antecedents…which brings us to:

The Pinky precedent…

Take Pinky Lee as an example. (Yes, really.) Lee was a product of the burlesque era but found his niche hosting a five-afternoons-per-week TV program in the early 1950s. Occupying the time slot leading into the enormously popular Howdy Doody Show, Lee aimed his material emphatically at a juvenile audience. Each show began with the host bursting a balloon in front of the camera lens before dashing madly onto the stage where he danced fitfully while performing his uncompromisingly inane theme song, “Yoo hoo, it’s me, my name is Pinky Lee– I skip and run with lots of fun, for every he and she!” –and so on. You get the idea.

“Yoo-hoo, it’s me!”

It may surprise some readers to learn that in this long-ago time, reasonable people paid reasonable amounts of attention to what Newsweek (then an actual news magazine rather than a DNC-affiliated web page) wrote about matters both epic and trivial, and it was Newsweek’s verdict that while Lee’s antics bespoke a level of puerility no rational adult could endure for more than a nanosecond, “he expends more energy than anyone this side of Jerry Lewis.” Indeed, in an article otherwise bereft of encomia, Time magazine went so far as to call Lee “One of the hardest working men in TV.”

Lee’s phenomenal success proved that within his chosen niche, energy and determination sufficed to ensure wild popularity, albeit exclusively among children, who viewed the star’s antics as the very embodiment of quality entertainment.  To anchor our position, we will dub this observable correlation between mindless phrenetics and popular approval “the Pinky Principle.” Obviously, we are about to apply it politically.

All naiveté is local

It is an encouraging fact that Americans consistently tell pollsters congress is a cesspool brimming with nincompoops, reprobates, and larcenists—to which critique we must now add sexual predators, not because they are recently arrived, but rather because the liberal media discovered them only recently, which officialized their presence. Bewilderingly, however, the very Americans who regularly denounce congress whenever polled on the subject, regularly rate their own representatives as superior. One must either conclude that a majority of Americans is mistaken in impugning the intellectual and moral fiber of our bicameral legislature taken as a whole, or, conversely, that most Americans regularly overestimate the character and performance of their locally elected representatives. We trust our beloved readers will join us, with few exceptions, in deeming the latter hypothesis more plausible.

WOOF’s perennial endorsee Christine O’Donnell, obviously baffled by the Biden supremacy.

Evidence is overwhelming. Consider that Joe Biden was consistently elected to the Senate in Delaware from 1973 until 2009 before his elevation to the vice-presidency put his unvarnished oafishness on national display. This level of exposure belied the long-standing media portrayal of him as a canny exemplar of legislative savvy who doubled as a genius in matters of foreign policy. But until Obama handed Biden the vice-presidency, Delaware seemed perfectly content with his services, spurning not only WOOF’s beloved Christine O’Donnell, but numerous additional challengers, preferring to retain in office a manifest dolt who embarrassed himself (and, one might assume, attentive Delawareans) on a routine basis. But Biden is hardly alone.

Clothing with a name….

Johnson is also known for his fear of a helium shortage resulting in “no helium for comedians to get that high-pitched voice that we all hold near and dear to our hearts.”

Hank Johnson, (D-Ga.) grabbed national attention in 2010 when during a House Armed Services Committee hearing he confided his fears to Admiral Robert F. Willard that if more Marines were sent to Guam, “the whole island will become so overly populated that it will tip over and capsize.” Apparently, Georgia’s 4th district shares Johnson’s concerns; he has been re-elected three times, twice in uncontested elections.

Maxine Waters–ordering Putin out of Korea.

California’s Maxine Waters only grew in popularity when she thundered her opposition to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Korea. And when she defended her support for infanticide, declaring “I must march, because my mother could not have an abortion,” the crowd cheered wildly. In fact, Waters is now touted on the Left not only as a paragon of political acuity, but of courage–as though screeching, “the Tea Party can go straight to hell,” imbues her with no less intrepidity than had she confronted a Communist tank in Tiananmen Square.  For that matter, Sheila Jackson Lee (best known for her belief that astronauts left our flag on Mars) is equally fierce in her opposition to the Tea Party. During a 2010 tirade, forgetting the word “sheets” despite several efforts to recall it, she contented herself with telling her audience that “the Tea Party is just the Klan without their–uh, that clothing with a name.” The crowd ate it up–the congresswoman’s seat is not at risk.

The MANILOW Effect?

Meanwhile, on the nominally opposing side of the aisle, the likes of John McCain, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell, and Lindsey Graham routinely trample primary challengers and retain high-level positions in congress even though no one seems remotely fond of them. One is reminded of the old joke that even though no one admits liking Barry Manilow, somebody bought 80 million of his records.  Oddly, Americans seem incapable of recognizing deficiencies in their most proximal representatives, even as they mark it unfailingly in everyone else’s…proving, we guess, that in politics, all naivety is local.

Promises, promises….

Tom Daschle: A case study

Tom Daschle’s official congressional portrait–where’s the hat?

Agreed, there are hopeful signs here and there, and this is entirely due to the influences of what we might call, with the purest of anti-fascistic intent, the alt media. This effect became apparent (to those with eyes to see or ears to hear) as early as 2005—back in the days when only a lucky few recipients of WOOF’s emailed alerts were routinely treated to our description of Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota) as “proof positive that with enough financial backing, a ferret can be elected to the Senate.” We offer Daschle as instantial here, not because he was uniquely odious, but because he provides a clear example of a pol whose hometown persona so clashed with his inside-the-beltway comportment as to inflict massive cognitive dissonance on any careful observer.

Tom Daschle in full election-year disguise. Be vewy vewy quiet, he’s hunting assawlt wifles!

As term after senatorial term suffices to illustrate, careful observers were in short supply in South Dakota, where Daschle liked to disport himself in duck-hunting camouflage long enough to be videotaped chewing the fat around the cracker barrel like a regular guy.  Such measures deflected attention from his career as a rabid leftist intent on advancing socialism, eradicating Judeo/Christian mores, opposing tax cuts, denouncing salvific adjustments to social security, and railing against any defense expenditures not immediately advantageous to South Dakota. But fate took a subtle hand when James Jeffords (a classic example of Vermont’s tumble into sociopolitical inanity) decided it was no longer advantageous to call himself a Republican and changed his affiliation to “Independent,” by which he obviously intended “Democrat.”  This seemed an apparent godsend to Daschle since Jeffords’s defection created a Democrat majority, triggering Daschle’s elevation to majority leader. But the fates were cruel. Daschle’s newly acquired prominence had the unintended effect of making his menshevik proclivities and far-left babblings a matter of heightened focus, particularly at FOX News, which was on the ascendant in the region–even as NBC’s much-touted anchor A.J. Clemente self-destructed on live mic by glancing at his opening script and pronouncing it “f*cking sh*t!” Oops. One single, honest journalistic insight–and gone!

NBC anchor A. J. Clemente, so devoted to journalistic exactitude that he ended his career with a single sentence.

Look for the union label!

With Daschle’s increased exposure came an increased awareness of his politics—his actual politics—among the electorate. But Daschle, like John Lennon’s classic victim of unperceived vicissitude, didn’t notice that the lights had changed.  He proceeded with business as usual, incognizant that growing numbers of his constituents were taking note of his hypocrisies (suddenly treated as newsworthy by the emerging “right wing media”).  Daschle’s discomfiture was at hand. Camouflage and down-home posturing no longer obscured the legislative radicalism. Also Exposed: Daschle’s behind the scenes maneuvering to push through Big Labor’s agenda of forced unionization in exchange for donations of $34,700 from the United Food & Commercial Workers, $30,000 from the Communications Workers of America, $30,000 from the United Auto Workers, plus donations in excess of $1,200,000 from a coalition of no fewer than 75 additional unions, examinable here.

John Thune–headfaking right.

These and a host of additional revelations led to Daschle’s defeat in 2004 by Republican John Thune, marking the first defeat of a Senate party leader since 1952’s upset of Ernest McFarland by young Barry Goldwater. Daschle, true to form, exchanged public office for a position with Alston & Bird (think: Big Healthcare) where he worked as a lobbyist, lobbying in blatant contravention of federal law, which prohibits lobbying for at least a year after holding elective office. A Republican would have gone to prison, of course, but Daschle’s criminality excited only minimal curiosity among the mainstream media, and even this was allayed by Daschle’s assurance that he was not so much a lobbyist as “a special policy adviser.” How–without recourse to postmodernism–a special policy adviser may be regarded as in any respect different from a lobbyist, Daschle was never obliged to say– he being a liberal.

President Obama, whose passion for hiring radical miscreants rivaled his affinity for Islamophiles, made a game effort to install Daschle as Health and Human Services Secretary, but initial reports that the former Senator failed to declare a limousine and a chauffeur on his taxes led to an avalanche of additional concerns amounting to $140,167 in unpaid taxes plus Medicare taxes equal to 2.9 percent of the value of the car service he received, amounting to thousands of dollars in additional unpaid taxes so that Obama, already taking heat for placing a self-confessed tax cheat (Tim Geithner) in charge of the Treasury Department, abandoned Daschle–who has since restyled himself a kind of upscale 9/11 Truther, thereby retaining his dubious status of minor irritant. In a way, this is a belated (and embarrassingly phlegmatic) effort on Daschle’s part to follow an important dictate of the Pinky Principle: find your niche! If the adults think you’re an idiot, appeal to the juveniles. It worked for Pinky, the Three Stooges, Nancy Pelosi, and–in his own reptilian way–Harry Reid.  One needn’t study the principle to apply it, of course; it need only be inferred intuitively  to prove useful…and examples abound.

Tim Geithmer admitted cheating the IRS out of $42,000 and employing illegals to clean his home, but Harry Reid called the news “a hiccup,” and Obama put him in charge of the Treasury with plenty of RINO support.

Maine’s Susan Collins–niche marketer extraordinaire.

In his victory over Daschle, John Thune proved a bellwether, leading the national trend of replacing Democrats with GOP candidates. The shift became nearly tectonic in 2010 as Americans retaliated against a congress bent on shoving the importunities of Obamacare down their throats no matter their objections.  Obamacare, in fact, might have perished aborning were it not for the Pinky Principle.  It was the ever-mesial Susan Collins, (R-Maine) whose vote allowed the abomination out of committee. Asked why, she purred, “Well, I just felt I wanted to be part of history.” She changed her mind about history the following December, when she voted against the Affordable Care Act–not that it mattered; the Democrat majority was poised to override the GOP’s opposition– but Collins’s skillfully executed two-step perfectly exemplifies why Mainers have opted to endure her services since 1997–consigning themselves to a seeming eternity of burbled insincerities offered largely in defense of calculatedly schizoid policy positions. Maine is purple, meaning it swings slightly liberal but retains a staunch conservative population. Collins couldn’t kill Obamacare in committee without losing her liberal and center-left supporters. By the same token, she couldn’t vote for its passage in December without sacrificing her conservative, center-right, and libertarian voters.  She perfectly played to her niche while appearing every inch the stateswoman– a ploy remindful of her mentor, Margaret Chase Smith–but don’t get us started on that!

Save the Independents!

OMG, don’t offend him–John, Mitt and Jeb need him to win!

But if John Thune’s meteoric rise in consequence of the Obamacare backlash typified the Republican “new wave,” his post-election trajectory is every bit as instructive–demonstrative as it is of the GOP’s stealth-like shift toward an essentially liberal weltanschauung that threatens to terminate its organizational relevancy. Awash in advisers, lobbyists, media personalities and pollsters–all products of the fading paradigm of Clinton-era political analytics –most GOP freshmen are drawn irresistibly toward the loadstone of RINO orthodoxy–an orthodoxy founded on a lapidescent faith in an all-powerful center, a center rendered electorally decisive by its most legendary denizens, the “Independents.” Republicans may one day apprehend that “Independents,” like Stalin’s “Kulaks,” are a manufactured class invented by propagandists to advance the cause of collectivism. For now, however, most Republican politicians believe that Independents constitute a massive voting bloc essential to their survival. Moreover, accepted wisdom maintains that should any constituent of this voting bloc be exposed at any time to any Republican emitting uncivil tones, advancing political views describable by the media as “extreme,” or discoursing in terms that invite the epithet “divisive,” said constituent will instantly experience a trauma of such proportions that he will immediately change his political affiliation to Democrat, reconfigure his every belief and ideal to exactly mirror progressive values, and uncompromisingly vote the straight Democrat ticket for at least the remainder of the 21st century.

No Independents were offended in the manufacture of this disaster!

Thus persuaded, Republican keepers of the flame confront all incoming bearers of Tea-Party doctrine with the remedial gospel, patiently illuminating the harsh realities of governance. Newcomers are enjoined to set aside the misguided ideals of the unlettered bumpkins who elected them, embracing instead the pragmatic prescriptions of the cognoscenti—the beholders of the ‘big picture’– and always for the good of the Party.  The results are almost always calamitous, but groupthink squelches any impulse to examine matters empirically. Instead, survivors remain fixated on the weary, pre-Internet dogma sacred to the high priests of the GOP’s consulting caste. Without any apparent thought given the illogic of retaining serial blunderers at obscenely extravagant rates, Republicans continue to pass these “experts” from campaign to campaign like drunken conventioneers exchanging call girls–except that call girls are expected to perform.

Profiles in Caution

Get it?

Thune won election against Daschle with the full faith and support of the state’s conservatives, prompting University of South Dakota political scientist Bill Richardson to remark “…Thune supporters went to the polls in large numbers, part of a massive South Dakota turnout. Unofficial results show nearly 80 percent of registered voters cast ballots.” Clearly, Thune had energized his base and then some–but the fact seemed lost on him; he no sooner set foot in D.C. than he tacked toward the center and went on to endorse John McCain early in 2008, as well as Romney in early 2012, despite a rich availability of authentically conservative options.  Thune and many other erstwhile tea-partiers seemed oblivious of George Will’s timely observation that “Republican successes down the ticket will depend on the energies of the tea party and other conservatives, who will be deflated by a nominee whose blurry profile in caution communicates only calculated trimming.” Profile in Caution, get it? Romney, of course, fought his own cautiously inoffensive, painstakingly bland campaign, and got slaughtered on election day. If his campaign proved anything, it was the irrelevance of coaxing brigades of phantom Independents to the polls while armies of conservatives stay home.

“Crush them everywhere!”

Uh-oh! Mitch has his crushin’ face on!

What motivates a politician to betray his supporters and take up the cause of the entrenched swamp creatures he was elected to oppose? One can ponder the question a long time without suspecting principle! One might also ponder an additional conundrum: Why do these side-wise relocations occur exclusively–all right, almost exclusively– among Republicans? Simple: Republican shapeshifting is more obvious because the betrayals are more egregious, more visible, and wildly applauded.  Media and monied interests are nowadays leftwing franchises. The myth of the fat cat Republican endures because the media (including the entertainment industry) polish it like a prized chestnut, but power and government learned long ago to connive to their mutual advantage–and this creates a sociopolitical loadstone irresistible to GOP weaklings and opportunists.

From “Romney’s our next president” in 2012, to “Trump will never be president” in 2016, Carl Rove seems to be slightly off the beam.

The hidden disadvantage for Republicans is the absence of a  voting base supportive of their creep toward bigger government, higher taxation, dumber education, socialized healthcare, climate panic, and borderless globalism–so they have to dissemble their intentions, preaching conservative values on the stump only to wax cosmopolitan once in office.  It was during the primaries of 2014 that Mitch McConnell promised that Republican “insurgents would be destroyed,” saying of Tea Party nominees around the country, “I think we are going to crush them everywhere.” The allure of elitism is powerful, but it comes with risk. The Tom Daschle lesson is liable to be repeated until it sinks in. No matter what additional reactions to the election of Donald Trump one may profess, no reasonable observer can deny the monumental failure of the political establishment to sway the election, gain traction during the election, or correctly predict its outcome.  A review of hundreds upon hundreds of knowledgeable prognosticators–stretching from the febrile Left to the squishy, Bushite center (think Karl Rove)—reveals absolute uniformity on the point that Trump’s presidential bid, besides scaring off all the Independents, was conceptually risible, tactically absurd, politically naïve, and ultimately doomed.  These unequivocal assurances ceased only when the vote was tabulated, and the resultant sociopolitical shockwave left the prognosticators too stupefied for words…at least briefly.

The hardest working people…

Rested and ready for 2020!

Democrats on the other hand, with the pitiable exception of Hillary Clinton herself, were quick to comprehend the level of disaster, and react in strict accordance with the Pinky Principle. They may be said (by the self-same doyens who declared Clinton’s presidency inevitable), to be solidifying their base, and that is certainly one way to describe their frenzied exertions—but another way is to applaud the proficiency with which the majority of Democrats are energetically seducing the Peanut Gallery.  Calling Trump hyperbolic names, worrying about how many scoops of ice cream he prefers, fretting with studied sincerity over what racist cryptograph might be embedded in a tweeted typo, hallucinating Russian saboteurs at every voting box, embracing every outburst of fake news until the item’s blatant artificiality mandates switching to some fresher eruption of similar flapdoodle, yammering for impeachment on grounds too flimsy to merit rebutting, and all the while updating the faithful on Republican schemes to kill old people, starve poor people, and lynch black people–this is the liberal Pinky dance, and performed with crazed freneticism it still enthralls its target demographic.  In the true Pinky spirit, the messengers are compensating for puerility with sheer enthusiasm, and to paraphrase Time magazine, they are, indeed, the hardest working people in politics.

Two Peanut Galleries?

We were actually going to vote for John Edwards because we thought he could talk to dead people and get advice from Jefferson and Lincoln. Turns out that’s a different John.

As John Edwards might say–had his own career not concluded on a sour, not to say disgustingly profane note: “There are two Peanut Galleries!” One seemingly responds to the Democrat message no matter how absurdly restructured or spun. (Imagine the inconceivability, only five years ago, of anti-Russian liberals!) But even the dullest constituent, repeatedly promised that Republican policies are about to kill him, will sooner or later regard as suspicious the fact that he isn’t dead.  So, why not add the Republicans?  Why not bring in the likes of Mitt and Jeb, McCain, and Flake, ad together denounce everyone from Donald Trump to Rand Paul as deviants so far outside the rational mainstream as to repulse sensible, open-minded people worldwide?  Because this fiction predominates monopolistically inside the beltway, the GOP remains colossally inept at forming a cohesive–even a coherent–identity. The CURS (Conservatives Until Reelected) may retain the helm in both houses of congress, but so long as they occupy themselves grumbling, balking, bickering, and fumbling everything from repealing Obamacare to securing our borders in the hope that Trump, whose presidency they proclaim an embarrassment, will take the rap–the cause of progressivism is served…and the Peanut Gallery–the one, true Peanut Gallery– is satisfied.

One gallery to ruin them all!

The illusion of two peanut galleries ramifies from the jarringly different optics distinguishing Democrat juvenescence from its Republican counterpart. One explanation seems to exist for both galleries: The media. The academy certainly deserves honorable mention, but since even its most clamorous inanities cannot take purchase unless also propounded under the guise of journalism, media calls the tune. For Democrats, the tune is familiar.  Liberalism was long ago sucked into the casuistry and babble that unite contemporary journalism and post-Vietnam progressivism, while Republicans are comparative novices, awkwardly hunting for seats at the table–earnestly seeking validation while clumsily shuffling leftward.  Ceaselessly propagandized to avoid their own principles in the name of pragmatism and the spirit of outreach, Republicans grow exasperated with voters too dense to grasp the “big picture” or applaud their sophistication as they slither toward liberalism.  Surely, they tell one another, if the weekend political programs, the major dailies, the most frequently quoted websites, and the cream of the entertainment industry can unite in praising their courage and statesmanship, the morons back home will fall in line. But while Democrats flourish among dunderheads, Republicans find themselves stranded amidst a host of newfound acquaintances who smile reassuringly, but whose mock approbation will never win them a general election or raise a dollar that isn’t tethered to some radical plutocrat’s agenda.

Democrats don’t have to leave home to make their point. The GOP, on the other hand, fields a team of wannabe moderates that never enjoys a home advantage, always plays on the opposition’s turf, and barely speaks the local language. Add to this the fact that Republicans are forever “crossing the aisle” in pursuit of the unachievable, and it becomes obvious that Republicans are the bigger fools.  They could hold to principle and retain the loyalty of their base, but choose instead to curry favor from adversaries who could never reward them with an election win even if they wanted to, because offered a choice between real liberals and Republicans struggling to resemble liberals, liberals will invariably vote for real liberals while conservatives will abandon GOP apostates. As David Lee Roth might remark, it’s not rocket surgery.

“There is only one peanut gallery!”

When Republicans stick to the grassroots, they niche market intelligently, and build their base on solid, expandable ground. No peanut galleries are involved. When they drift to port because the party leadership and its in-house assemblage of “expert” consultants decrees doing so the only means of appeasing Independents while obviating the wrath of the media, they place themselves in immediately untenable circumstances, drastically reducing their odds of winning general elections and ensuring that in the unlikely event of victory, they are hobbled by commitments running contrary to the very principles that drove them to enter politics as Republicans.  When both sides of the aisle are consistently drawn toward a single source, and consistently praised or castigated by a single, media-driven audience of ill-informed enthusiasts, it is time to paraphrase William Peter Blatty’s fictional priest, Father Lankester Merrin, and insist, “There is only one peanut gallery!”

Flaking out

Will Republicans wise up? There are, WOOF is pleased to observe, increasing signs that a few GOP office holders recognize that ruination awaits those who rebuff their niche, or wrongly discern it.  One powerful example is Jeff Flake, an exemplary Tea Party hero turned RINO, or CUR, as we prefer to say at WOOF, (Conservative Until Re-elected).  Flake rose to power on a tidal wave of tea-party support but, like John Thune, quickly forsook his roots for the Old Boys’ Club. Accordingly, his politics shifted  center-left, earning him the admiration of the senate’s RINO leadership. He assured himself of media veneration in 2013 by joining the bi-partisan “Gang of Eight,” fighting for immigration reform, by which was meant amnesty for illegal aliens and open borders, and announcing “I’m a globalist.” His perfidies  earned him every accolade the leftist establishment could bestow, plus a huge fundraising dinner to ensure his re-election hosted by his fellow gang-of-eight turncoat, Marco Rubio. but Flake failed to consider the Daschle factor. Like most RINOs, he was mired in the superannuated belief that if the media love you, America will too–the very mindset that Hillary’s loss to Trump shook so violently that its adherents were plunged into fits of cognitive dissonance from which many have yet to emerge. Thus, having done everything necessary according to the prevailing wisdom to solidify his Senatorial image and insure his political permanence, Flake awoke to discover his approval rating had plunged to an abysmal 18 percent in his home state.

“Uh-oh! …I think this situation calls for a crisis of conscience!”

The conscience of a globalist…

The new president, whom all of Flake’s staunchest allies and overpaid advisers assured him would never be elected, was a boorish lout whose ignorance of the gentlemen’s club rules (by which all Republicans–if only Republicans–are expected to play) led him to make public mention of the fact that Flake was “weak on borders and crime.” And somehow, Keli Ward, a constitution-thumping conservative of the unequivocal variety, was poised to slaughter him in the primary…and she didn’t even have Marco Rubio’s endorsement!  Confronted with all of this, it might be supposed that Flake experienced a road-to-Damascus moment, but no.  So reliant do most RINOs become on the opiate of establishment adulation (the cheers from the peanut gallery) that even once its charm proves illusory, they persist in preferring  it to reality. Like Romney and McCain before him, Flake doubled down on the delusion, seeking greater infusions of establishment approval by adding pietism to his repertoire of insincerities.

Dr. Keli Ward

Plainly confronting a humiliating defeat should he pursue reelection, Flake affected to seize the moral high ground. In a farewell speech on the senate floor, he dissembled his withdrawal from the Arizona primary as an act of moral courage. His first line was the funniest.  Despite the manifest disgust with which Arizonans viewed his serial betrayals, and despite his popularity by then in single digits, and despite the fact that any bright 8-year-old could review these brutal indicators and accurately conclude that Flake could no more be re-elected in Arizona  than levitate, the Senator managed to straight-facedly intone: “There are times we must risk our careers. Now is such a time.”

Without mentioning Trump by name, Flake alluded to dark forces in high position…forces threatening to turn Americans into a “fearful, backward-looking people” and the GOP into a “fearful, backward- looking party.” At one point the performance threatened to lurch into honest self-appraisal as Flake declaimed, “A political career does not mean much if we are complicit in undermining these values,” but this transpired to refer to the norms and values that Trump was “undermining” with his “Reckless, outrageous and undignified behavior.” And in this manner Jeff Flake managed to disguise what amounted to a concession speech as an act of valor.

Basking in the approval of the mainstream media and leading Democrats–what could possibly go wrong? 

Similarly, House Majority Leader Paul Ryan, who besmirched the Gadsden colors time and again after waving them aloft during his election campaigns, will seek other employment at the end of his current term. Mr. Ryan has not, thus far, attempted to portray his calculated withdrawal from an untennable political situation as an act of moral courage, but there is plenty of time yet.

And Romney, currently seeking the nomination for Senate in Utah, set the standard for cravenness when, after losing the nomination in 2008, and losing the election in 2012,  he gave his studiedly-principled stop-Trump speech, arguing that decency demanded blandness and decorum in the face of cultural collapse and pandemic institutional corruption, thus Trump was unelectable.  Americans ignored him, but the media and political elites waxed lyrical in praise of his pluck. Will this help Romney’s campaign for Senate in very-Mormon Utah? Already he’s been hit with well-financed attack ads reminding Republicans he’s “a darling of the D.C. establishment” and branding him “flip-flopper Mitt,” which connotes an exactness offsetting any lack of sparkle. The ads, which support underdog Larry Meyers for the nomination, may not prove sufficient to disable Romney’s campaign, or they may–but challenging Romney with assertions that he “isn’t conservative enough” almost qualifies as understatement.

“Mister right hand, say hello to mister left hand! Mister left hand…”

“Do it again, Pinky!” (A cautionary addendum)

It is difficult to witness the sanctimonious histrionics of Flake or Thune or the doubleminded antics of Ryan or McConnell, or endure the post-presidential maunderings of Herbert and “W” Bush, without marveling at the utter absence of tactical sagacity. Less gimlet observers might understandably pronounce themselves baffled by so much ill-considered sermonizing, rendered with such solemnity–always such solemnity. What possesses these characters to defile themselves publicly in the fashion of Dick Durbin or Harry Reid? Can they not taste the unctuousness on their lips? How does Mitt, for instance, deliver a declaration of conscience against Trump during the nominative process and then, following Trump’s election, make not one, but two trips to Washington in hopes of ingratiating himself sufficiently to secure a cabinet position, and having failed in his exertions, resume inveighing self-righteously against the man he begged to work for, all without blushing? Readers may be shocked to learn we don’t pretend to know.  We cannot divine the secrets of Mitt Romney’s soul–we can only explain the macro-systemic forces that encourage his antics.

Fustian from the Left is encouraged identically, but the Left has the advantage of ranting to the faithful while affronting only the opposition. Republicans, in contrast, estrange the faithful in order to rally the same gallery–the crowd  that otherwise raves over Adam Schiff and Chuck Schumer. There’s a reason, after all, that Schumer cannot deliver a public address without sounding like a 3rd grade teacher patronizing a classroom of 7-year-olds.  It’s less condescension, really, than a realistic appraisal of his audience; but Republicans who “cross the aisle” to bask in Schumer’s approbation never evince a similar awareness. Unlike Democrats, Republicans must abandon principle for media applause–they cross a line immediately. When this occurs, the dazzle of huzzahs and bravos from the establishment may anesthetize the pain of self-mutilation, but sooner or later every newly liberalized Republican trips over his own entrails…and the  crowd goes wild.

Jerry Ford’s pratfalls were legendary, but at least they connoted authenticity. 

In 1955, while cavorting frantically on camera to the unbridled delight of his screaming fans, Pinky Lee collapsed.  His director and cameraman assumed he was ad libbing and kept the lens on him as he writhed for an additional ten seconds or so before going limp. Suddenly aware that something was horribly amiss, the cameraman panned to the audience, and thus Pinky Lee’s final performance ended with a lengthy pan of the pre-adolescent peanut gallery cheering enthusiastically, applauding, and demanding “Do it again Pinky! Do it again!” But the hardest working man in show business had no more to give.