Lanny Davis: The swamp personified

Lanny Davis

It’s been three years since we last took a look at Lanny Davis, the longtime Clinton family operative and inside-the-Beltway lobbyist and image-massager for several of the world’s worst dictators. When we wrote about him in 2015, Davis was a TV fixture, running from one cable-news studio to another in an effort to put a positive spin on the damaging news about Hillary’s e-mail server.

“Do you ever get tired of cleaning up after the Clintons?” Fox News journo Chris Wallace asked Davis at the time. Salon has called him a “well-known spinster…whom no one trusts.” Some more fun quotes about this creep: in 2012, calling him “a pitchman for warlords” who “carr[ied] the Devil’s water in Washington,” the Atlantic‘s Jon Lovett said that Davis “represents all that is wrong with politics today.” A 2013 piece in the New Republic began: “The last time we heard from Lanny Davis, he was doing what he does best: representing a dictator.” Among his clients: Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbsogo, dictator of Equatorial Guinea, widely known as the “Auschwitz of Africa,” and the Laurent Gbagbo, President of Cote D’Ivoire.

At Swamp Central

In short, to use a term that has gained currency since 2015: he is the swamp.

This July, after having kept a relatively low profile for quite a while, Davis resurfaced. News was that President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, who is now the target of a federal probe owing to his role in Trump’s payoffs to former mistresses, had engaged Davis’s services. At the Federalist, David Harsanyi offered a timely reminder of Davis’s career history under the headline “Let’s Take A Moment To Remember The Corrupt Hackery Of Lanny Davis,” stating that “it’s going to be fascinating to watch a shyster like Michael Cohen be transformed into a hero of The Resistance.” Still, added Harsanyi, “America—even with all our transgressions—simply doesn’t deserve Lanny Davis. None of us do.”

Michael Cohen


Davis, explained Harsanyi, “can be properly described as a personification of the cliché, ‘everything that’s wrong with Washington.’ Cringingly slavish to those in power, a consigliere, fundraiser, surrogate, and cheerful liar, Davis was a perpetual presence on cable TV during the Clinton scandals. Few men in history have ever been able to summon his kind of loyalty in the pursuit of shameless, transparent deceit and corruption.” Well, caan’t argue with any of that.

Harsanyi emphasized how ironic it is that Davis, of all people, is now “preaching—without even a trace of irony—the value of integrity and honesty,” contending that Cohen, formerly a two-bit shyster and bagman type, “has turned a corner in his life, and he’s now dedicated to telling the truth to everyone.” After all, noted Harsanyi, Davis played a not unimportant role “in corrupting the value of personal responsibility, civility, and morality in our political culture. His unwavering defense of Bill Clinton’s corruption and extramarital dalliances (and possibly worse) is a valuable reminder of how we got to this place.” Yep.

David Harsanyi

“For years,” recalled Harsanyi, “Davis told America that what they were seeing and reading was not what was happening. After tapes emerged of the Clintons illegally soliciting donations from big-money donors at the White House in 1997, for example, Davis sprang into action, not only contending that there was ‘no suggestion that there was any solicitation for money’ — despite the fact that the tapes suggested exactly that — but that many of the big contributions of those who had attended the event and only days later donated to the Clintons were merely an ‘incidental’ occurrence.” Now, this same man who “handled” Bill Clinton’s so-called “bimbo eruptions,” “smearing women he surely suspected were telling the truth about President Clinton’s habitual womanizing” (and worse) is making the usual cable-news rounds striving to whip viewers into a rage over “the tapes of a president and his lawyer discussing how to hide an alleged affair.”

Harsanyi’s summing up is right on the money: “Lanny Davis possess a preternatural chutzpah that puts most contemporary partisan hacks to shame. We’re all worse off having him back.”

Cynthia Nixon, democratic socialist

Back to Cynthia Nixon, TV star (Miranda on Sex and the City to you) turned would-be governor of the great state of New York.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

On this site, we’ve already discussed the other self-identified socialist star of the hour, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose upset victory in the Democratic primary for a Bronx congressional district, made her a nationwide media sensation (and who has, as it happens, endorsed Nixon’s run). Since her win, Ocasio-Cortez has shown in innumerable interviews that she’s shockingly ignorant about basic facts of history and current events – in short, definitely not ready for prime time. But she’s only 28 years old. Her ignorance is forgivable – or, at least, more forgivable than it is in a woman twice her age.

Nixon and her wife, Christine Marinoni

Nixon is 52. How could a 52-year-old woman be so naive about the reality of socialism? Well, if you look through her background, the answer seems pretty clear. The daughter of an unemployed radio guy and a woman who worked on the TV game show To Tell the Truth, Nixon has been acting since she was 12, “often taking time away from school to perform in film and on stage.” It’s not hard to believe that she missed a lot of classes.

With her Sex and the City co-stars Kristin Davis, Kim Cattrall, and Sarah Jessica Parker

Her education, then, consisted largely of performing in a variety of films, plays, TV shows, and TV movies. To scan the list of early credits on her ImdB page is to imagine the ways in which these productions might have helped shape her picture of the world. The 1982 TV movie My Body, My Child argued for the morality of abortion. Robert Altman’s O.C. And Stiggs was an indictment of middle-class American life disguised as a teen comedy. The 1988 miniseries The Murder of Mary Phagan was about a factory worker convicted of murder and lynched in Georgia in 1915. Tanner ’88 recounted a noble left-wing Democrat’s failed run for president.

Nixon (left) in Tanner ’88

We’re not suggesting that acting in a movie or play means you share its writer’s opinions; we’re simply saying that it seems reasonable to posit that a young, spottily educated actor will inevitably be shaped by the ideologies that underpin the works in which she appears and which she spends weeks memorizing and (in the case of plays) weeks or months performing over and over again.

Not that you have to buy that theory. All you need to do is be aware that Nixon, an actress who has been praised frequently for her intelligent interpretations of characters, is less intelligent when it comes to real-life politics than when it comes to portraying persons other than herself. Of course, when it comes to that, she’s got a lot of company in Hollywood. Perhaps when you spend the most important, or at least the most intense, parts of your life in a totally pretend world, you’re not going to be particularly well informed about how the real world works, or well qualified to make pronouncements about how the real world should be run.

The new Nixon

Cynthia Nixon

Until recently, Cynthia Nixon was best known for playing Miranda on the HBO series Sex and the City and its big-screen movie spinoffs. Of the four women who were the main characters, Miranda was the sensible one. She was a serious-minded lawyer and, unlike her three friends, she didn’t fall instantly into bed with every guy who made a pass at her.

Though we may know better, we often think of famous actors as being more or less like the people they play. You could be forgiven, then, for assuming that Nixon is, in real life, a brainy, level-headed type. In recent months, however, Nixon has appeared to be on a one-woman mission to prove otherwise.

Andrew Cuomo

As a candidate for governor of New York State who is challenging the Democratic incumbent, Andrew Cuomo, from the left, Nixon has, not to put too fine a point on it, demonstrated to all and sundry that she is a world-class pinhead. On July 10, Politico published a statement by Nixon in which she admitted to being, in her own words, a “democratic socialist.”

“Some more establishment, corporate Democrats get very scared by this term but if being a democratic socialist means that you believe health care, housing, education and the things we need to thrive should be a basic right not a privilege then count me in,” Nixon wrote. “As Martin Luther King put it, call it democracy or call it democratic socialism but we have to have a better distribution of wealth in this country. I have long stood in support of a millionaires tax, Medicare for all, fully funding our public schools, housing for all and rejecting all corporation donations — all of which align with democratic socialist principles.”

Marc Molinaro

Nixon’s campaign confirmed that she wasn’t using her words lightly. Her handlers had been in touch with the Democratic Socialists of America. She feels that socialism is on the rise in America and, especially, in the Democratic Party – and she thinks it’s a terrific development. Marc Molinaro, the GOP candidate for New York governor, had a pointed response to that: “Millionaires like Cynthia Nixon may be able to dream about socialist paradises, but here in the real world, people can’t afford the taxes they have,” Molinaro said. “If Ms. Nixon thinks socialism is the answer, she should ask the people of Venezuela.”

More on Tuesday.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, kingmaker?

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

There’s always a first time. Never in the history of this site have we felt called upon to revisit a subject only a couple of weeks after writing about it – or him, or her – but Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the charismatic 28-year-old who shook up the American political scene by beating a ten-term establishment Democrat, New York’s Joe Crowley, in a primary race for his House seat, has received so much media attention in the wake of her victory that we consider ourselves obliged to update our report on her.

Joe Crowley

As we noted, Ocasio-Cortez calls herself a Democratic-Socialist. Not too many years ago, she would have been considered too far left for a serious career in national politics. After Bernie Sanders, that’s no longer the case. Staggering percentages of millennial Americans tell pollsters that they prefer socialism or Communism to capitalism. It helps that the Soviet Union fell before they were born, and that they’re either uneducated about the reality of socialism or have been fed pro-socialist propaganda by their teachers. So it is that somebody like Ocasio-Cortez is being interviewed on national media – and getting cheers from studio audiences.

Tom Perez

She’s also getting cheers from Democratic Party officials. She hasn’t even been elected to the House yet, but on July 3 Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, called her “the future of our party,” and Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett tweeted a thumbs-up for the ambitious young woman.

Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t just been collecting endorsements, but handing them out. The Daily Beast reported that her support for Kerri Harris, a candidate for the U.S. Senate from Delaware, and Ayanna Pressley, who is running for Congress from Massachusetts, has caused donations for both campaigns to soar. The same goes for Kaniela Ing and Brent Welder, who are running for Congress from Hawaii and Kansas respectively.

Abdul El-Sayed

One of Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsements has gained particular attention. “Michigan is blessed to have Abdul El-Sayed as a candidate for Governor, and I am proud to support him,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on July 2. Who is El-Sayed? A former public-health director for the city of Detroit, he is a Muslim who, as a college student, was a vice president of the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Muslim Students Association. At a recent candidates’ forum, he refused to provide a direct answer to a query about sharia law – a perfectly reasonable question given his religious affiliation, and given the fact that courts in Michigan, which has America’s highest concentration of Muslims, is currently facing cases of female genital mutilation and honor killing.

Patrick Colbeck

When El-Sayed’s opponent in the governor’s race, Patrick Colbeck, replied to the question by speaking frankly and critically about sharia law, jihad, and the Muslim Brotherhood, El-Sayed went ballistic, accusing Republicans in general of racism and white supremacy. While Colbeck had made it clear that he was troubled by certain aspects of Islamic doctrine itself but had no personal animus against individual Muslims, a furious El-Sayed called Colbeck an Islamophobe, saying, “Now you may not hate Muslims, but I’ll tell you, Muslims definitely hate you!”

This, then, is a man whose political career Ocasio-Cortez is championing. Need we say more? Well, given the degree of attention she is receiving, and the amount of new information that is coming out about her by the day, we’ll probably find it necessary to revisit this rising socialist star yet again in the very near future.

Just what New York needed – another socialist!

She’s accused Israel of committing massacres of Palestinians. She’s called for the abolition of ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement), charging that it’s on its way to becoming a “paramilitary” organization. She’s a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and a former organizer of Bernie Sanders’ presidential run.

The candidate and her supporters at the moment of victory

Her name is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she’s 28 years old, and on June 26, in America’s biggest electoral upset since the 2016 presidential election itself, she won the Democratic primary in the race for New York State’s 14th Congressional district, defeating ten-term incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley, who is head of the House Democratic Caucus, who had not faced a primary challenge since 2004, who was widely expected to replace Nancy Pelosi next year as Minority Leader, and whose seat pretty much everybody thought was safe. Since the district is heavily Democratic, it’s expected that she will sail to victory in the general election in November, becoming the youngest woman ever to sit in Congress.

Nixon’s the one!

Calling her victory “stunning” – she won by 15 points, after having been 36 points behind in the polls only three weeks earlier – the editors of New York Post suggested that it might signal that “the Democratic Party in New York is moving hard left.” The editors noted that Cynthia Nixon, Sex and the City actress who is mounting a radical-left primary challenge to Governor Andrew Cuomo, has supported Ocasio-Cortez and “plans to use every opportunity to link their campaigns in the public eye.”

New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo

As for Ocasio-Cortez herself, she instantly became, in the words of John Cassidy in The New Yorker, “a national political sensation.” Never mind her radical views. Never mind that she’s in bed with the far-left group Move On and the deep-pink Working Families Party (which in turn is cozy with the Communist Party USA) and that she wants to impeach Trump. Never mind that during the campaign she sold herself as a working-class girl from the Bronx when, in fact, although born in that borough, she is the daughter of an architect and actually grew up, from age five onward, in the affluent Westchester community of Yorktown Heights.

Joe Crowley

No, in today’s mainstream American culture, far-left – and even borderline Communist – views have become normalized, while opinions (such as a belief in strong borders) that only a decade or two ago were taken for granted as reasonable on both sides of the aisle are now widely smeared as inhuman.

So it was that two days after her victory Ocasio-Cortez turned up on Stephen Colbert’s show, where the host – who, of course, makes a career of mocking everything the President says and does – slathered her with praise. Even before Colbert explained that she identifies as a “Democratic Socialist,” the audience responded to her account of her victory with several bouts of fervent, mindless applause, it appearently being enough for them, in these days when identity labels trump all else, that she was young, female, and Latina. (And pretty.)

But then, as noted, Colbert mentioned the “Democratic Socialist” label, and asked her what those words mean to her. She proceeded to answer the question with a Sanders-like laundry list of free stuff that everybody should get from the government, and with each new item, the audience rewarded her with yet another round of eager applause and cheers. Colbert told her that her list was a worthy one, and then proceeded to wax sarcastic – not about Ocasio-Cortez herself, heaven forbid, but about – who else? – President Trump, whose tweet about Crowley’s loss he read aloud. Trump’s take was that Crowley should have “been more respectful to his president.” Do you, Colbert asked Ocasio-Cortez, plan to be respectful to Trump? Her reply: “I don’t think he knows how to deal with a girl from the Bronx.” Lusty cheers all around. Welcome to 2018 America, where an ever-growing percentage of the population thinks socialism is just plain peachy keen.

Ideologically pure, historically ignorant: Oliver Willis

Oliver Willis

On Tuesday we met Oliver Willis, a commentator who started out working for lowlife Clinton agitprop merchant David Brock and who, since the turn of the century, has been a staggeringly prolific blogger and tweeter, not to mention an occasional contributor to one or another of the usual websites (Salon, HuffPo). Perhaps the most surprising thing about his work is that he is never, ever surprising. His opinions, if you can even call them that, are ready-made, pre-packaged. He actually appears to think that he’s thinking, but he’s just regurgitating. As we saw on Tuesday, he thinks that he’s whip-smart (and that everybody to his right is an idiot), but all that he seems to have between his ears is a library of left-wing platitudes and victim-group grievance rhetoric.

Not a “real president”

To be sure, today’s Internet commentariat being awash in similar mediocrities, Willis doesn’t usually stick out from the crowd. Now and then, however, he demonstrates convincingly that his learning is skin-deep. Recently, when Donald Trump waited three days before calling out the neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, Willis tweeted: “FDR didn’t take 72 hours to respond to Nazis. Then again, FDR was a real president.”

The “real president”

As several members of the Twittersphere were quick to point out, FDR didn’t take 72 hours to respond to the rise of Nazism; by the most charitable calculation, he took more than two years, if you start counting from September 2, 1939 (when Britain and France responded to the Nazi invasion of Poland by declaring war on Germany), and stop counting on December 11, 1941 (when the U.S. declared war on Germany a day after Germany had declared war on us). Willis also appears to have forgotten a couple of other minor facts about his “real president”: first, that when Jews who were trying to avoid the Nazi extermination camps sought refuge in America, FDR turned them away; and second, that while FDR was willing to put a German-American, Dwight D. Eisenhower, in charge of the Supreme Allied Command, he felt compelled to put Japanese-Americans in California internment camps.

An actual Willis tweet

This is only one of many examples we could cite of Willis’s historical and cultural illiteracy. But for leftist ideologues, ignorance on the scale of Willis’s hardly matters. Nor does his barely serviceable prose style or his chronic inability to actually form an argument. No, what counts is reflexive devotion to the cause, period. And as it happens, Willis, just like his old boss, David Brock, is the most reliable of ideological tools. Hence fellow inhabitants of the DNC echo chamber shower him with praise. (If Willis is to be believed, Rachel Maddow has twice called him “the great Oliver Willis.”)

Willis with four other bloggers at the White House

Just as Brock, moreover, is far less dedicated to any political idea than to the continued success of the Clinton clan, Willis is such a servile devotee of Barack Obama that he was one of only five bloggers who were invited to a White House meeting with the 44th president in October of 2010.

“I would be unfair if I said that David Brock represents everything wrong with politics,” wrote Post columnist David Von Drehle earlier this year. “So let me say that David Brock represents almost everything wrong with politics.” The same, alas, can be said of Brock’s equally unsavory protégé, Oliver Willis.

Meet Oliver Willis, third-rate sleaze merchant

Perhaps the main thing you need to know about the opinion writer Oliver Willis is that he spent a formative part of his career at Media Matters for America, the sleazy left-wing propaganda factory run by David Brock, who has variously been called a smear artist,” “poisonous” (in The Nation, no less!), and a “slippery snake” (by Maureen Dowd).

Oliver Willis

Willis is black. His parents were Jamaican. He is obsessed with race. Shortly before the 2016 election, he dismissed Trump supporters as “knuckle dragging racists.” He also dismissed the idea that working-class whites in flyover states had any legitimate grievances, whether about the economy or anything else: no, these people were “table-slamming racists,” “the absolute gutter worst of the country,” and didn’t deserve a hearing. They “lack the capacity to have any sort of empathy for anyone who doesn’t look exactly like them.”

The mentor: David Brock

In today’s America, Willis maintained, “you still start out several lengths ahead if you’re white and male than if you’re brown and female. The system is still set up for you to have a home field advantage, and the rules and many of the referees are still rigged for the outcome to tilt in your favor.” Needless to say, some people who’ve been denied jobs or rejected from colleges because of affirmative action would disagree strongly with this statement.

The devil: Donald Trump

But in Willis’s world, affirmative action isn’t a matter of systematic victim-group preference but of being “more inclusive” of “well qualified — sometimes overqualified — people [who] have been sidelined for eons because they didn’t buy the winning genetic lottery ticket.” Anyway, when Trump won, Willis attributed it to racism, pure and simple. Just the other day, he tweeted: “i see we’re still pretending trump’s rust belt wins were about effing trade agreements and not racism.” 

Houston hit by a hurricane: hilarious

Sometimes his race obsession manifests itself in a particularly ugly way. When Houston was struck by Hurricane Harvey in August 2017, Willis asked on Twitter: “where are the right wing memes ridiculing houston evacuees like w katrina? many of the photos of people from houston are white. ahhhhhhhhh.” And sometimes it comes out in a way that’s just plain bizarre. Retweeting an item about the early 1800s slave trade, he wrote: “I am told daily by conservatives that the founders were perfect.” Huh? In 2018, who on earth describes any of the Founders as perfect? Doesn’t every history textbook these days emphasize that several of them owned slaves?

Thomas Jefferson, a slave holder? Who knew?

Willis thinks of himself as smart. Exceedingly smart. His website is headlined “Oliver Willis: Like Kryptonite To Stupid.” “I hate being smarter than the leader of the free world,” he tweeted only a few days ago. The purported stupidity of conservatives is a constant theme in his work. “For #WorldBookDay,” he tweeted on March 1, “I would like conservatives to know that they are the scary piles of paper with all the forbidden knowledge and one day you should crack one open.” Back in 2010, the Huffington Post ran a piece in which Willis took on the charge that liberals who look down their noses at conservatives are elitists: no, he argued, liberals should treat conservatives like inferiors, because the latter are, quite simply, morons.

Tea Party movement: morons

The Tea Party crowd, he explained, are “cretins,” “the lowest common idiotic denominator,” and a “roving band of conspiracy nuts” who are preoccupied with “idiotic” issues. In sum: “we owe them no recognition or inclusion in the important discussion about the direction of American society.”

Pause for a moment over that last sentence: as far as Willis is concerned, a whole huge chunk of the American populace deserves no voice in the public square. Implicit in this claim is an assumption that he and his ideological confreres have, or should have, the right to silence those who disagree with them. Willis smears white conservatives as exclusionary racists, but he’s the one who’s the exclusionary racist.

More on Thursday.

 

“Once a meathead, always a meathead”: Rob Reiner

Rob Reiner

Rob Reiner is one lucky fellow. First, he was born into the highest rung of showbiz – the son of the brilliant director, writer, and actor Carl Reiner, the man behind the classic Dick Van Dyke Show plus a whole bunch of very funny movies. Second, Rob’s family connections got him into acting – and his first big acting job, as it happened, turned out to be in the seminal sitcom of its time, All in the Family.

Mike Stivic (Reiner), left, and Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor in All in the Family

All in the Family‘s success owed nothing to Rob: playing Mike Stivic, the son-in-law of the show’s protagonist, Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor), and Archie’s wife, Edith (Jean Stapleton), Reiner was, in terms of acting chops, the weakest link on the show. Mike was also the series’ most insufferable character. While producer Norman Lear, a card-carrying leftist, had meant for Archie, a working stiff who labored on a factory loading dock, to be an anti-hero – a typical hippie-hating “hardhat” of the early 1970s – Archie was, for millions, a lovable hero.

Hey, look at which cast member of All in the Family didn’t win an Emmy

Meanwhile Mike, a social-sciences student into whose dialogue Lear shoved many of his own political opinions, was insufferable: although he shared a bedroom in Archie’s house in Queens because he couldn’t afford to support his wife – Archie’s daughter, Gloria (Sally Struthers) – Mike plainly considered himself to be Archie’s intellectual and moral superior of Archie. For Archie, his son-in-law wasn’t “Mike” but “Meathead,” a mindless mouthpiece for an ideology that Archie considered pernicious.

Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally

After All in the Family, Rob Reiner moved on to directing. His oeuvre contains some of the most entertaining movies of the eighties and nineties: This Is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, Misery, A Few Good Men. His more recent product has been less memorable. In any event, what all of his best films have in common is that he didn’t write them. (The one exception is This Is Spinal Tap, on which he shared screenplay credit with funnymen Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Harry Shearer.)

Ugh!

His old man, Carl Reiner, is a writer-director, and is terrific at both; Rob is good at figuring out where to put a camera, but his efforts at writing have been disastrous. We still remember, for example, the horror show that was the 1978 TV movie More than Friends, a fourth-rate Annie Hall ripoff that he co-wrote and in which he starred with his then wife, Penny Marshall.

Anyway, the reason we’re looking at Rob Reiner is that over the last quarter century or so, even as his directorial career has faltered, he’s become increasingly visible as an exceedingly shrill, far-left political activist and major megaphone for Democratic Party talking points. He was a prominent supporter of the presidential candidacies of Howard Dean, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama. A few years ago, when the Tea Party movement was at its height, he likened it to Hamas.

Reiner’s Malibu manse

Critics have often pointed out his extreme hypocrisy: a resident of Malibu, one of the whitest, richest, and most exclusive municipalities in America, where he lives behind high walls and gates, Reiner has supported open borders and was among the Malibu residents who decided to declare it a sanctuary city – a decision that was, in practice, given the cost of property in the town and the high level of private and public security there, a thoroughly meaningless exercise in virtue signaling. Indeed, pretty much the only illegal aliens who ever set foot in the seaside enclave are the rich locals’ cooks, maids, gardeners, nannies, and chauffeurs.  

But it was the entry of Donald Trump into politics that really sent Reiner into activist overdrive. Ever since Trump began running for the Presidency, Reiner has been shouting from the rooftops that a “constitutional crisis” was in the offing. In a tweet written last December, he urged his fellow citizens to “prepare to take the streets” in response to Fox News’s criticism of the Robert Mueller probe into claims of Russian collusion by the 2016 Trump campaign.

At the January 2018 Women’s March in LA

Speaking at a Women’s March in Los Angeles on January 20, Reiner noted that Trump had been in office for a year and had “corroborated every one of our fears….And we cannot whitewash this anymore. We have a racist in the White House. We have a sexist in the White House. We have a pathological liar in the White House. And he is tearing away at the fabric of our democracy.”

Rod Rosenstein announcing the results of the Russia probe

In mid February, when Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that the Russia investigation had concluded that no Americans had “knowingly cooperated with the Russian interference” and that the Russians had “in no way impacted the outcome of the 2016 election,” Reiner, instead of throwing in the towel and admitting he had been hysterical over nothing, chose to take an Orwellian approach to the truth, tweeting as follows: “It is now crystal clear that Russia had a profound impact on the 2016 election. They have attacked US, they are continuing to attack US. If Trump is unwilling to acknowledge this and unwilling to protect US, the word TREASON is now center stage.”

Trump, the “traitor”

We need not comment on this shameless effort at disinformation, because Reiner’s Twitter feed soon filled up with apropos reactions. “Did you even WATCH the actual press conference?” wrote one of Reiner’s followers. “No impact on the election.” Several people commented that if there were any White House treason, it was committed not by Trump but by Obama, since the Russian meddling had, according to the Justice Department, begun in 2014.

One Reiner follower summed it up all this way: “Once a meathead, always a meathead.”

Chelsea Handler: from jokes to talking points

Chelsea Handler

We used to think Chelsea Handler was, at her best, funny. On her popular late-night talk show Chelsea Lately, which was carried on the E! Network for several years, her persona was that of a laid-back, know-nothing, hard-drinking, sex-happy narcissist who spread her wealth around to her chums and in return got to treat them like vassals. Whether it was an act or not (one had the impression that her persona was a somewhat exaggerated version of her actual self), she put it over well, and at its best, as we say, it could be quite amusing.

Chelsea Lately

Chelsea Lately had a simple format: she opened with a sort-of-monologue, in which she went on for a few minutes, in her self-absorbed way, about some recent experience or personal complaint or griped about one of her friends or crew members; she then proceeded to have a lighthearted roundtable with two or three other comedians, with whom she traded silly quips and personal barbs; and she concluded by chatting one-on-one with some celebrity who was there, in the usual fashion, to promote something, except that Chelsea, instead of feigning interest in the project being promoted, fixated on her guest’s shoes or clothes or breasts, or professed to find the guest sexually attractive, or expressed a lack of interest in whatever anecdote her guest was trying to put over. There was certainly not the slightest whiff of politics about any of it: the whole idea, the whole schtick, was that Chelsea was too childlike and egocentric to possibly give a moment’s thought to such lofty matters as statecraft or international affairs or the welfare of others. Indeed, the main appeal of the show was its casual political incorrectness. (50 Cent: “I had some free time….” Chelsea, interrupting: “Were you in prison?”)  

It was all terribly silly – but it was aware of being silly. It was even, you might say, wittily silly. But then something happened. Like many funny people, Chelsea decided that she was tired of getting laughs. She wanted to be taken seriously. Calling it quits with her successful late-night show, she moved over to Netflix, where she started doing a “serious” weekly interview program. Yes, there were showbiz celebrities, but they were, more often than not, politically engaged showbiz celebrities who were eager to talk with her about such subjects as global warming and DREAMers and Islamophobia. In addition, Chelsea had long, earnest conversations with the likes of Gloria Steinem, Chelsea Clinton, Jake Tapper, Trevor Noah, Keith Olbermann, California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, former Mexico president Vincente Fox, and Democratic strategists David Alexrod and James Carville.

With Gavin Newsome

The premise was that Chelsea was “learning.” She was “educating herself.” This was how she described the show, and it was how Netflix promoted it: come along and watch Chelsea learn from the best and the brightest! But what really ended up happening on her Netflix show, as it turned out, was that Chelsea was sitting there exposing herself, and her viewers, to endless hours of Democratic Party rhetoric. It was pure brainwashing. Chelsea was not hearing both sides. She was not being taught how to use her mind to examine ideas critically. She was certainly not picking up any history lessons. On the contrary, she was being trained to spit back left-wing talking points. She thought she was thinking, but she wasn’t doing anything of the kind. Alas, she still doesn’t know what real thinking is.

When her show was canceled recently by Netflix, the news came as no surprise: American audiences had no interest in this new incarnation of Chelsea. They didn’t need to be lectured at by this woman who, until just the other day, was presenting herself as a bubblehead. But Chelsea lectured anyway. She lectured on her show – and, even after its cancellation, she continued lecturing on Twitter. We’ll get to that on Thursday.

 

Keith Ellison, Antifa fan

Keith Ellison

On Tuesday, we met Keith Ellison, the first Muslim in the U.S. Congress – who, among much else, has defended Louis Farrakhan, likened George W. Bush to Hitler, and compared Trump unfavorably with Kim Jong-un. As we’ve seen, Ellison, who represents Minneapolis and environs, has been quite chummy with the terrorist-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations: he’s spoken at CAIR events, and CAIR leaders have spoken at Ellison fundraisers.

Ellison addressing the US Council of Muslim Organizations

But CAIR isn’t the only dicey Muslim group with which he has cozy connections. He’s addressed at least three conventions of the Hamas-linked Islamic Society of North America. In 2007 and again in 2008, he was the keynote speaker at conventions of the Muslim American Society (MAS), appearing on the second occasion with an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. MAS, which has been linked to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Al-Qaeda, and which the United Arab Emirates has designated as a terrorist group, has called for jihadist violence and the murder of Jews, and, in its official magazine, routinely refers to suicide bombers as martyrs and to terrorists as freedom fighters. In 2016, under pressure, Ellison withdrew as speaker from a MAS event.

Ellison with jihad enthusiast and faux feminist Linda Sarsour

As we made clear on Tuesday, Ellison’s radical record was no mystery when Minneapolis voters sent him to Congress in 2006. It is hard to know what to make of the fact that they’ve sent him back five times since then, during a decade when his ties to pro-jihad groups and his hostility to Israel have been repeatedly on display. Less difficult to explain is why his fellows Democrats chose him – by unanimous acclamation – as the deputy chair of the Democratic National Committee: he represents the party’s “progressive” wing, and these days, in that party, “progressive” includes everything from socialists-bordering-on-Communists to Muslims (and friends of Islam) whose public criticisms of jihadist terrorism sound painfully tame and pro forma.

Ellison with Mark Bray’s book

The latest cause for widespread concern about Ellison was a tweet he sent out on January 3. It read: “@MoonPalaceBooks and I just found the book that strike [sic] fear in the heart of @realDonaldTrump.” Accompanying the text was a photo of Ellison holding a volume entitled Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook by Mark Bray. Antifa, of course, is the umbrella term for a number of groups that, during the last couple of years, have joined together in violent protests against conservative, libertarian, and other non-leftist speakers at various U.S. college campuses. As the Daily Caller noted, “While the group [Antifa] claims to be anti-Fascist, they routinely shut down the speech of people they disagree with.”The Washington Times described Bray’s book as “a history of anti-fascism movements and guide to aspiring radicals.” Some reports have maintained that the book is nothing more than an objective account of its topic (Newsweek called it “politically neutral”), but this claim is nonsense: as an Associated Press report indicated, Bray “calls violence during counter-protests ‘a small though vital sliver of anti-fascist activity.’” Bray also maintains that certain ideas are undeserving of First Amendment protection.

Ben Shapiro

In response to Ellison’s tweet, Alex Griswold of the Washington Free Beacon tweeted: “Um, the deputy chair of the DNC is endorsing a book that advocates for violence in the streets.” The Young America’s Foundation (YAF) chastised Ellison for his tweet, calling it an “inexplicable embrace of violent Antifa tactics.” YAF, which has been involved in arranging many of the campus speaking events that Antifa has sought to disrupt, commented: “No one knows the dangers posed by Antifa better than the conservative college students YAF works with around the country who have been threatened, stalked, and at times attacked by the radical leftists who make up its ranks. Most notably, Antifa thugs attempted to shut down YAF’s campus lecture with Ben Shapiro at the University of California, Berkeley.” 

Nancy Pelosi

Even House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has vilified Antifa, saying last August: “You’re not talking about the far left of the Democratic Party – they’re not even Democrats. A lot of them are socialists or anarchists or whatever.” But Ellison isn’t the only high-profile establishment figure to signal his fondness for Antifa, and after his tweet went public – and garnered criticism – some mainstream publications dismissed the furor as a far-right tempest in a teapot. “The anger toward Ellison is increasingly a fringe movement,” Newsweek insisted, the implication being that any hostility directed at him is by definition racist and Islamophobic.