Friday, October 13, 2017

How Jimmy Kimmel became the Moral Arbiter of the Nation

“Democrats are becoming the party of the celebrity sockpuppet.”

Polarization as a business model

This is an astute piece by Robert Tracinski:

Why Late Night Hosts Like Jimmy Kimmel Are Suddenly So Political
He ends up challenging the assumptions and explanations of both the Acela corridor and the #MAGA legions:

Maybe viewership is declining because late-night talk show hosts have become more political (and less funny). Or maybe the hosts are getting more political because their viewership is declining.

What were once cultural institutions with a broad, bipartisan audience are becoming niche players with a narrow fan base. They no longer view partisan politics as a dangerous move that will shrink their audience. Instead, they’re using partisan politics as a lure to secure the loyalty of their audience, or what is left of it. Not that it’s going to work over the long term, because people who want to have their biases confirmed will just watch the five-minute YouTube clip Chris Cillizza links to the next day.
It all makes sense as a short-term strategy. How long it can work really depends on the viewers and advertisers. We know viewers are going away so it is really just a question of milking the late night gig for as much as possible before it all goes away.

How long will advertisers keep chasing those shrinking left-wing audiences?

On one hand, this remains true:

MSM: Shrinking Audience, Leftward Drift

Media companies have an additional layer of insulation. Their advertising revenue is based on more factors than the absolute size of the audience. As long as broadcast networks are larger than their competition, they can command a premium CPM. They remain the only game in town for advertisers who want to make a big splash. In addition, it is easy to cook up justifications and rationalizations about the elite nature of their audience, their higher spending in key categories, their role as influencers. (CNN has been successful doing this versus Fox.)

Much of this is poppycock and will not stand up to scrutiny. But here is the rub: liberal advertising types in Manhattan or San Francisco see no reason to scrutinize them. For one thing, it plays to their ego. ("People like me are more important than the masses who eat at Crackerbarrel and live in places like Stoughton, Wisconsin.") Second, they are not spending their money.
I wonder, however, if advertisers will stick with Kimmel and Colbert as they go hard left. The hosts have explicitly chosen a side in the Cold Civil War. Do advertisers really want to join them?

Colbert can appeal to SJWs by mocking Deplorables and conservatives. His targets can do nothing except not watch him. His business model does not depend on the largest possible audience merely the largest audience in a highly fragmented landscape. So the Colbert-SJW lovefest goes on.


The business model runs on advertising revenue and that means big brands. Big brands that want big market shares. How many of those marketers want to start out by alienating 40-60% of their potential customers.

For Kimmel or Colbert a 4% market share is a cause for celebration. That same market share would mark the end of the world for Pepsi and Budweiser.

Saturday, October 07, 2017

We owe Salem an apology

The worst argument in the world is a date.
GK Chesterton
Congregants of the Church of the Current Year have an intense if solipsistic relationship with the past:

New: Good
Newest (me!): Best of all

As is usually the case with narcissistic faiths, profound knowingness crowds out real knowledge.

Take, for instance, our self-congratulatory “understanding” of Puritan Salem and the witch trials of 1692. Old Salem is silly and backward and believes in witch’s spells. The subtext, of course, is that we are smart and sophisticated and have nothing to learn from anyone who was never on Instagram.

The facts are much less flattering to the evangelists of the Current Year. Compared to the rest of the Western world, Puritan New England was relatively free of demon-haunted worldview which which marked the 17th century in Europe.

Jesse Walker:

English America was less witch-obsessed than England, and England in turn was less witch-obsessed that Scotland or the Continent. From 1623 to 1631, the German bishopric of Wurzburg burned an estimated nine hundred people for their ostensible dealings with demons. If that body count is accurate, one tiny principality killed more supposed Satanists in an eight-year period than were executed in all of New England in the entire seventeenth century.
Cotton Mather, who supported the witch trials and the punishment of those found guilty, was also an early advocate of vaccination against small pox. When it came to Science, he was more cutting edge than Bill Nye can every hope to be.

A key point by Walker:

In Salem, spectral evidence became admissible in court; the boundary between the waking world and the land of dreams broke down. Again, we are not as different from those backward Puritans as we like to think. The court in Salem unknowingly brought the dream world into their proceedings.
We do it explicitly (“Recovered Memory”) and deluded people call it Science.

We usually tell only half the story of the witch trials. We get the hysteria, the testimony about specters that tormented their victims in the night, the guilty verdicts rendered with no physical evidence presented.

Walker reminds us that there was a Act Two:

In 1697, Massachusetts recognized a day of repentance for the prosecution of innocent people. One magistrate anounced that he accepted 'the blame and shame' for his role in the affair, and a dozen Salem jurors signed a formal declaration of regret
Once you know the whole story of Salem AND remember our own recent history, you realize the Current Year should hang its head in shame.

After all, we, too, had our hysteria-fueled public trials. Just as in Salem the name of Satan figured prominently. Innocent people were punished in the complete absence of physical evidence of their guilt.

In the aftermath of the Satanic Ritual Abuse panic we had no “day of repentance”. The prosecutors, investigators, and judges did not accept responsibility let alone “blame and shame.” Some, like Martha Coakley of Massachusetts persisted in their persecution of the innocent for decades.


They trusted the experts

Friday, October 06, 2017

Understanding the fall of South Vietnam

I ran across this from the great Jerry Pournelle:

The anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the consequent death of about a million people who thought the United States would protect them. The end of American credibility: not only did Kennedy allow the assassination of the man who invited his help, but when Viet Nam was invaded by three army corps with armor and other weapons from Russia, the Democratic majority Congress abandoned our allies, and we had the shameful scene of pushing helicopters off the deck of a carrier to make room for more.

Viet Nam was not a civil war. The insurgent movement was defeated. Then in 1972 the North sent down 150,000 men with as much armor as the Wehrmacht sent into France, The Army of the Republic of Viet Nam – ARVN – with US air and materiel support destroyed the enemy. Fewer than 50,000 returned north. US casualties were under a thousand, in a battle larger than most in World War II. It was no civil war; it was an invasion from the North; and it was defeated by ARVN, with little US ground support and few American casualties. It was victory.

Of course we do not celebrate victory in Viet Nam.

When the North built a new army and sent it south, the Democrats of the Congress denied all air support, and voted materiel support of twenty (20) cartridges and two (2) hand grenades per ARVN soldier. Accordingly and predictably Saigon fell and the War ended with a North Viet Nam victory. Executions, reeducation camps, boat people and other refugees accordingly followed; and the dominoes fell in the killing fields of Cambodia.

The Democratic Party does not celebrate this victory, but it is all theirs; and the myth that the USA was defeated by Viet Cong guerrillas grows and grows.

And the one certain lesson of the fall of Saigon is that you cannot trust the United States to defend you no matter how much blood and treasure has been spent, or how little will be needed: US politics trump any national commitment. It was not always so.

Let's hope this new book helps dispel the myth of the victorious VC guerrilla.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

A much needed book

From the publisher description:

The defeat of South Vietnam was arguably America’s worst foreign policy disaster of the 20th Century. Yet a complete understanding of the endgame—from the 27 January 1973 signing of the Paris Peace Accords to South Vietnam’s surrender on 30 April 1975—has eluded us.

Ultimately, whatever errors occurred on the American and South Vietnamese side, the simple fact remains that the country was conquered by a North Vietnamese military invasion despite written pledges by Hanoi’s leadership against such action. Hanoi’s momentous choice to destroy the Paris Peace Accords and militarily end the war sent a generation of South Vietnamese into exile, and exacerbated a societal trauma in America over our long Vietnam involvement that reverberates to this day. How that transpired deserves deeper scrutiny.