Media Wake Up, Realize Comedy Crumbling in Our Woke Age

Is Cancel Culture hurting comedy?

Ask anyone who consumes right-leaning media (or has an open mind), and the answer is a swift and assured, “Absolutely.”

Try creating comedy when the wrong joke or punch line can threaten your gig, if not your entire career. Even past jokes, especially past jokes, can turn a dream job into a missed opportunity.

Just ask Shane Gillis, who snagged a coveted spot on Saturday Night Live before ugly Asian jokes he made during a podcast came back to haunt him. Or Kevin Hart, whose decade-old gag targeting homosexuality crushed his dream of hosting the Oscars.

 

 

It’s no accident the annual soiree hasn’t had a comic host since then.

Reporters and critics alike enforce the new status quo, calling out creators who dare tell jokes outside the approved groupthink. A recent interview with the team behind “Lady of the Manor” showcases how entertainment reporters grill artists on how woke their material actually is.

And you better answer correctly.

Yet media outlets are starting to realize the comedy landscape has shifted, even if they can’t directly tie it to the woke revolution.

Time magazine reports broadcast TV has mostly given up on sitcoms, a mainstay ever since Lucy Ricardo shoved conveyor belt chocolates down her mouth.

Think:

  • Leave It to Beaver
  • Gilligan’s Island
  • The Brady Bunch
  • Cheers
  • Seinfeld
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Modern Family
  • And many, many more

NBC’s “must-see” comedy block is ancient history, and the situation doesn’t end there.

The CW belongs to superheroes, Archie Comics and B-grade nonfiction programming now. While Fox’s Sunday adult-animation block is still going strong, there isn’t a single live-action sitcom on its fall schedule. ABC has carved out Wednesdays for family comedies, but the only “new” title is a Wonder Years reboot … Among the Emmy nominees for Outstanding Comedy Series, only one—ABC’s black-ish, whose eighth and final season is expected to premiere in 2022—hails from a broadcast network.

The comedy landscape is richer on cable and streaming platforms, according to Time, with the occasional breakout hit like Apple TV’s “Ted Lasso.” Neither platform boasts broadcast television’s massive reach, the very definition of mainstream media.

We recently learned ABC’s Modern Family, arguably the greatest sitcom of the modern era, wouldn’t be greenlit by the studio under the “new” rules.

Even existing broadcast shows must adapt to the Cancel Culture bylaws or face extinction. It’s why Apu, the Indian-American character on The Simpsons, got the axe. It also explains the woke final season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Imagine the social media outcry if the cop sitcom didn’t follow the Black Lives Matter playbook?

CBS offers more traditional comedies, but Time notes most of the shows hail from a single producer, Chuck Lorre. The sitcom titan suffered his own near-cancellation with United States of Al earlier this year. The show follows a former Marine’s friendship with an Afghanistan interpreter.

Critics savaged the show for its positive portrayal of the U.S. Military and for the acting playing the Afghanistan translator, played by Adhir Kalyan, not hailing from that country in real life. Somehow, the show survived for a second season beginning next month.

Is it any wonder TV screenwriters would rather churn out anything but a situation comedy?

Time takes a stab, late in the article, at the root cause of the shift.

[Broadcast TV’s comedy] death is also emblematic of a culture that has become so politically, socially and generationally fragmented, with heightened sensitivities on all sides, that large swathes of the American public can’t even agree on what’s funny anymore.

Actually, it’s a minority of people deciding what we’re allowed to laugh at these days. The august magazine must realize Twitter isn’t real life … right?

Plus, the “heightened sensitivities” are mostly on one side, the side with enough power to cancel entire shows if needed. CBS did just that when social justice warriors targeted the woke-but-not-woke-enough series The Activist.

That “side” can even crush a show before cameras get a chance to roll. See HBO’s proposed Confederate”series.

Meanwhile, the situation is worse on the big screen, according to Collider. Straightforward comedies are as rare as rom-coms today both before and during the pandemic. Sure, the MCU delivers laughs between the superheroics, but the days of pure comedy smashes like BridesmaidsWedding Crashers and The Hangover are over.

Some of the actors behind those hits spend more time apologizing for them than making new ones.

Again, streaming platforms are plugging some of the gaps here, but the overall quality of those films leaves plenty to be desired. For every Palm Springs, a smart, celebrated Hulu offering, there are mediocrities like Vacation Friends, Murder Mystery and Father of the Year.

It’s easy for a Netflix or Amazon Prime to trot out lackluster fare like Coming 2 America, a film which would have enjoyed a solid opening weekend before word of mouth crushed it. You’re not asking audiences to leave their houses, potentially hire a sitter, endure boorish patrons and pony up $25 or (much) more to see them.

The Collider reporter correctly notes how big, glossy franchises are the new coin of the realm, forgetting one critical point.

Comedies are far cheaper to make than action films or superhero extravaganzas. So they’re much less risky, in general, with the potential for serious ROI. A comedy can swing for the fences and miss without denting a studio’s bottom line. It’s one reason horror remains a box office mainstay. They’re relatively inexpensive to make and often turn a tidy profit.

Also left unsaid?

Horror and comedy are two genres that benefit the most from the theatrical experience. There’s nothing like laughing along with total strangers in a darkened theater.

Second best? Collectively cowering in your seat during a horror movie. Those sensations can’t be replicated at home, no matter how crisp your TV’s sound bar may be.

None of this mentions how late night TV and “Saturday Night Live” have embraced partisanship over comedy, or that the latter hasn’t generated a breakout movie star in ages. Yes, Kristen Wiig, Bill Hader and Kate McKinnon are all big talents, but none can open a film like Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and co. back in the proverbial day.

Some of the best now today comes from alternative media sources. Think The Babylon Bee, Ryan Long’s anti-woke broadsides and Twitter accounts far funnier than anything Stephen Colbert offers these days.

 

 

Except mainstream media outlets either ignore their excellence or, in the case of the Bee, try to squash it.

Laughter hasn’t gone away. You just have to squint hard to find it.

Comedy is hurting, no doubt, and it’s good that reporters are starting to notice the problem. Now, if they could sidle up in favor of free speech we might be able to do something about it.

[Cross-posted from Hollywood in Toto.]



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House passes bill to codify Roe v. Wade in wake of Texas abortion law

The House narrowly passed legislation on Friday to codify Roe v. Wade, which was brought to the floor in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to deny an emergency appeal filed by abortion providers to block the Texas heartbeat bill earlier this month.

The tally was 218-211. No Republicans voted in favor of the measure, and one Democrat, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), broke party lines and voted against the legislation. 

The Women’s Health Protection Act — introduced by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) — would bar restrictions to abortions including “mandatory waiting periods, biased counseling, two-trip requirements, and mandatory ultrasounds.” 

Democrats have charged the Texas bill is unconstitutional, vowing to do everything in their power to overturn the policy. 

The House passed legislation to codify Roe v. Wade in a 218-211 vote with no Republican support.
Barcroft Media via Getty Images

“This is about freedom, about freedom of women having a choice about the size and timing of their families, not the business of people on the court, or members of Congress, it’s about themselves,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said ahead of the vote. “But it’s also about freedom from the danger of vigilantes. So when this court embraced this shameful Texas law, they brought shame to the United States Supreme Court.” 

Republicans slammed the bill, arguing that it goes beyond codifying Roe v. Wade.

Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.)
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) introduced the Women’s Health Protection Act.
CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Imag

“This is exactly what they did in New York when Gov. [Andrew] Cuomo lied to everyone and said it was just codifying Roe v. Wade, and that ended up being a late-term abortion bill that in New York’s law hey even changed the penal code so if a woman was assaulted, and she lost her baby as a result of miscarriage, they couldn’t charge the perpetrator for homicide,” Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY) told The Post. 

The Supreme Court on Sept. 2 voted 5-4 to uphold Texas’ new policy to ban the procedure after six weeks and allow for individuals to file civil suits against abortion providers or those who help facilitate abortions.



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Congressional Spending-Talks Impasse: Moderate Democrats Wake Up to Progressives’ Con

They’re starting to realize it, too.




NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE

F
or the last two months, a ragtag group of parvenue political extremists has somehow managed to convince the leadership of the Democratic Party that what the swiftly ailing Biden presidency really needs at this moment is an acrimonious standoff over spending. More impressive yet, these radicals have managed to make it seem as if the blame for the standoff lies not at their own gormandizing feet, but with those whom they have routinely harassed. If, as they must, the Democrats wish to avoid a further collapse in their fortunes, they must snap out of this reverie and call their browbeaters’





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Asad Khan, ambassador: Pakistan key to terror fight in wake of Taliban takeover

NEWSMAKER INTERVIEW:

Pakistan’s top diplomat in Washington said in an interview that his country will remain a key partner in the U.S. counterterrorism campaign in the wake of the fall of the U.S.-backed government in Kabul, sharing a common goal of preventing a Taliban-ruled Afghanistan from once again becoming a pariah state and a safe harbor for terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

“We are on the same side in Afghanistan,” Pakistani Ambassador Asad Khan told The Washington Times on Wednesday. Given the “complex” dynamics in Kabul as the insurgents consolidate power and attempt to govern, he said, the world should give the Taliban a chance to uphold their leaders’ vows to reject terrorism and respect basic rights.

“What we hear very loudly and clearly is the repeated commitments that [Taliban leaders] have made of not allowing the Afghan territory to be used against any country by any terrorist group,” the ambassador said.

Still, governments and private analysts fear the victory by the Taliban — a hard-line Islamist group that Pakistani intelligence helped create in the 1990s — could gravely set back progress in the war on global terrorism.

Taliban claims that they have changed their ways since giving haven to al Qaeda during the years leading up to 9/11 are facing sharp scrutiny in Washington ahead of the 20th anniversary this weekend of the terrorist attacks on the United States. At the same time, the developments of the past month have thrust a new spotlight on the notoriously tumultuous U.S.-Pakistani strategic relationship.

During a wide-ranging discussion, Mr. Khan sought to downplay the notion that the Taliban takeover in Kabul amounts to a strategic win for Pakistan. He said reports that Pakistani military forces deployed to neighboring Afghanistan to help the Taliban seize the country and that Pakistani military aircraft have assisted the militants in battling Afghan nationalist and anti-Taliban holdouts north of Kabul are “bogus” and “laughable.”

Asked about the recent meeting in Kabul between Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed, director general of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, and Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the diplomat said it was no less normal than the reported meeting last month in the Afghan capital between CIA Director William J. Burns and Mullah Baradar.  

Pakistan was taken aback at how quickly the U.S.-backed government in Kabul fell to the Taliban, though the ambassador said “even the Taliban was surprised.” Although Islamabad hopes to have influence with Taliban leaders in Afghanistan, he said, any characterization of the group as a proxy for Pakistan would be inaccurate and “unfortunate.”

He pushed back against regional experts’ claims that Pakistan has carefully played both sides of the war in Afghanistan to protect its own interests, even as Pakistanis have been hit by extremist attacks emanating from the war zone. Some analysts say Islamabad has clandestinely sought to uphold an Islamist government in Kabul that would align with Pakistan‘s core geopolitical goal: preventing rival India, a Hindu-majority country, from wielding influence in Afghanistan and creating a threat in Pakistan’s strategic backyard.

Mr. Khan said the risks of blowback to Pakistan‘s interests and alliances are too great to have embraced such a strategy. With Afghanistan‘s future deeply uncertain, the developments unfolding in Kabul are “not really a question of anyone’s victory or anyone’s loss.”

“If we are unable to win the peace in Afghanistan, frankly, it will be everyone’s loss, and that’s what we are working for,” he said. “Victories, frankly, in Afghanistan can be temporary and transient if history is to be learned from, and therefore, I think it is only important that there is an inclusive government which represents the diversity of Afghanistan, and I’m sure Taliban are also mindful of that.”

“If things unravel, it will be a loss for everyone. It will be foremost a loss for the people of Afghanistan,” he said. “A civil war will result in refugee outflows. It will be a loss for the region. And they are not going to just stay in the region. It’s going to spread all across. So it’s really not our or somebody else’s victory or loss. It’s really a question of whether we are able to put the conflict to an end, whether we are able to achieve peace in Afghanistan.”

Cloudy future

How the U.S.-Pakistani relationship will be affected will depend on developments in Afghanistan, the ambassador said.

The relationship has had severe ups and downs over the past decade. It hit a low point when a 2011 U.S. military mission located and killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden at his hideout less than a mile from Pakistan‘s preeminent military academy. President Trump had harsh words for Pakistan in 2018. He briefly suspended roughly $1 billion in U.S. security aid to Islamabad and publicly accused Pakistani officials of “lies and deceit” for purportedly providing a base for the Taliban and other groups to organize attacks across the border in Afghanistan.

With no troops in Afghanistan and no major U.S. military bases in Central Asia, the Biden administration may depend on Pakistan to help carry out its “over-the-horizon” counterterrorism operations in the region.

Mr. Khan told The Times that Islamabad is eager to enhance its “counterterrorism relationship” with Washington. “This has always been a key pillar,” he said. “We have worked together in combating the terrorism threat, and there still are threats that we perceive as common threats, and we will continue to work together with the United States in combating those threats.”

With regard to Afghanistan, he said, “I think the U.S.-Pakistan interests are clearly aligned.”

“I am inclined to believe that the United States wants to see peace in Afghanistan. We certainly want to see peace in Afghanistan. The U.S. doesn’t want Afghanistan to act as a safe haven for terrorists,” the ambassador said. “We definitely don’t want to see Afghanistan act as a safe haven for terrorists. The U.S. certainly wants to make it easier for the people of Afghanistan in terms of preserving the gains that have been made, in terms of the social progress that Afghanistan has made. We also would like the Afghan society to preserve the gains that they have made. We would also not like to see the situation in Afghanistan turn into a civil war or fall apart and avoid a refugee crisis. I think the United States has the same position on that.”

Beyond security, he said, the U.S. is Pakistan’s largest export destination, is one of the top foreign investors in Pakistan and is the third-largest source of remittances to Pakistan.

“The U.S. [also] is home to a very vibrant and influential Pakistani-American diaspora, and then, our military links, our educational links, our cultural links … all these are very, very important contributors to why we should have a strong and close partnership with the United States.”

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Afghan refugees get warm welcome in wake of pullout fiasco

America has had countless waves of migrants, but rarely has the country been as eager to receive them as it has for the tens of thousands of Afghans who are being airlifted into the country.

Charities and resettlement agencies say they have been overwhelmed by the response, with offers of open arms, leads on apartments and a flood of supplies.

The desperate airlift out of Kabul had barely kicked into gear last month when a call went out from Adventist Community Services of Greater Washington for items such as shampoo, razors, wall art and alarm clocks — anything that could help a suddenly displaced Afghan family arriving with only what they could carry.

A few days later, Ken Flemmer, the director of the Adventist group, asked folks to halt drop-offs because organizers needed time to process the crush of items.

Mr. Flemmer told The Washington Times that a man arrived from Michigan with a carload of supplies. Pharmacy students from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, brought cartons of personal hygiene products. Volunteers have been working through the heat to sort everything.

In Northern Virginia, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington posted a wish list of needs on Amazon. Everything was purchased and donated within hours, said Stephen Carattini, president and CEO, but the surge created a bit of a logistical issue.

“We shouldn’t have been surprised, but we had an overwhelming response,” he said. “Our warehouses are full. Our offices have become impromptu sorting sites.”

Polling confirms Americans’ eagerness to step up.

About two-thirds of Americans polled by The Economist/YouGov say the U.S. should give asylum to those who helped U.S. and allied forces and organizations in the 20-year war. Just 14% disagreed. When asked more broadly about Afghans who fled because of violent upheaval in their country, support is narrower, with 47% urging help and 24% opposed to asylum.

That’s still the kind of support Syrian refugees could have only imagined. They arrived during the Obama administration and faced similar questions about vetting. Polling in 2015 found about 60% of Americans were opposed to accepting them as refugees.

Help from the Hill?

Congress will have a chance to express its support in the form of taxpayers’ money.

President Biden on Tuesday requested $6.4 billion in emergency funds to help the resettlement effort as part of a broader package of disaster relief.

According to an analysis by the Federation for American Immigration Reform, a little more than a third of the money is for the vetting, processing and transportation by the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security. There is also money for public benefits and a speedy pathway to citizenship.

Mr. Biden wants to attach the money to a stopgap bill to hike the federal borrowing limit and keep the government open beyond Sept. 30, putting pressure on Congress to accept his terms.

Mr. Flemmer said Afghanistan has been part of America’s psyche for two decades since the 9/11 attacks, and hundreds of thousands of Americans have served or worked there and returned. The heart-rending stories and vivid images from Afghanistan as the hard-line Taliban insurgents consolidate control are nearly impossible to ignore.

“It’s one thing to have to resettle because it’s an option,” he said. “It seems a lot of people felt it was not an option. I just talked to someone just a few minutes ago. She’s here, but her family — they sleep a different place every night. That’s how difficult it is in Kabul.”

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, said many people feel an obligation to help the Afghans in a way that didn’t exist for Syrian or Somali refugees, or for the Central Americans who have streamed across the border in recent years in search of economic opportunity.

That’s partly because of a perception — wrong, he argues — of who has been airlifted.

“The Afghans who managed to get out in our frenzied evacuation effort have been presented to us by politicians and the official media as people who fought with our soldiers (even though no more than a handful fit that description), and so we owe them,” Mr. Krikorian said in an email. “Likewise, I think some people see providing help to Afghans as a way of making up for the disastrous consequences of our nation-building boondoggle.”

He said the country is experiencing a sort of honeymoon period that could fade as people see “how big the cultural gap is between them and American society: child “brides,” polygamy, wife-beating, honor killings and the rest.”

If polling is to be believed, some of the enthusiasm has already waned. Yahoo News said its surveys detected a slip in support among Republicans at the end of August. It called the shift a reflection of “anti-refugee rhetoric by several prominent conservative figures.”

New realities

The worries could also have been fueled by new realities.

The Biden administration has kept a tight hold on information about the airlift population but acknowledged that some of those evacuated to third countries for more processing were on U.S. watch lists. The Washington Times reported last week about one Afghan, a convicted rapist who had been deported from the U.S., who reached American soil before he was flagged.

Biden administration officials haven’t indicated how many of those airlifted out of Afghanistan are expected to reach the U.S., though Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said it will probably be more than 50,000. As of late last week, some 20,000 had arrived.

Most are being admitted under Homeland Security’s powers of humanitarian parole. The legal status is less firm than those for refugees or Special Immigrant Visa holders. The Special Immigrant Visas are aimed specifically at helping Afghans who assisted the U.S. war effort.

Most of the arrivals are staying at eight military bases across the country, but a small number have been processed and released or have walked away on their own.

Those who come as Special Immigrant Visa holders or refugees get specific levels of government support, including about three months of housing assistance. By that time, they are expected to have found a job to support themselves, Mr. Carattini said.

It’s not clear what level of government support the parolees will be granted, he said.

Mr. Carattini said that in addition to prayers, his organization is asking for leads on housing and for pro bono professional services such as mental health counseling, medical and dental services, school health screenings and legal assistance for what is likely to be a surge of asylum applications.

Down the road, once the flow of people released into communities goes from a trickle to a stream, he said, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington will ask parishes to conduct food drives.

Most of those who fled their homes faced traumatic situations and were uprooted quickly. Refugees usually spend years in other countries before they are approved to enter the U.S.

In this case, the speed of the Afghan government collapse meant tens of thousands of people were fleeing with only what they had on them, unsure of anything.

“Here we were watching on the TV flights take off, and then you could look on the same TV screen the next day and watch people coming through Dulles Airport. It was happening in real time,” Mr. Carattini said. “No time to say goodbye. Families being split up. … No idea where you’re going, no idea if you’ll ever be back, no idea if your loved ones will be able to get out.”

Mr. Flemmer said it is critical to sustain the enthusiasm for the new arrivals.

In times of crisis, help rushes in but often dissipates. For the Afghans, the toughest stretch will come in a few months when they try to rebuild normal lives and struggle with figuring out the basics in a new land.

“We can help them in a crisis, we can get and outfit an apartment. [But] you really need a coach. You need someone who can explain to you how does the postal system work, how do you get a driver’s license,” he said.

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VIDEO: Utility workers turn their backs on Biden as presidential motorcade passes in wake of Hurricane Ida catastrophe

A video showing utility workers turning their backs on President Joe Biden as his motorcade passed them on a Louisiana road in the wake of Hurricane Ida has gone viral — and the workers’ act of defiance has earned them more than a few kudos.

What are the details?

It isn’t clear exactly where and when the cellphone video was recorded, but a New Orleans ambulance passed by after the Biden motorcade, so the back-turn presumably took place somewhere in the vicinity of the Crescent City.

Biden on Friday also delivered remarks in LaPlace, Louisiana — which is about 32 miles northwest of New Orleans — on his administration’s response to Hurricane Ida.

As the motorcade approached, a couple of utility workers watched facing forward —

Image source: YouTube screenshot

— but as Biden & Co. drew closer, the pair turned their backs on the president, along with about five other utility workers:

Image source: YouTube screenshot

“No respect,” the individual recording the video said after he and his co-workers were done turning the backs on Biden.

Here’s the clip:


Shoutout to these utility workers in Louisiana who turned their back on Joe Biden

youtu.be

‘God bless you all!’

Praise for the utility workers poured in all over social media. Here’s a sampling from the “top comments” underneath the YouTube clip:

  • “No one likes these people. Biden is incompetent. Harris is MIA. Their underlings are running things,” one commenter wrote. “Ask Democrats a simple question: ‘Is America safer and better off than we were 1 YEAR ago?’ Not 4 years ago. 1 year. It’s taken less than 9 months for this administration to screw things up worse than anyone could have imagined.”
  • “I’m surprised there was no hearse in the procession,” another commenter quipped. “After all, he’s a walking cadaver.”
  • “Middle fingers would have enhanced it even more,” another commenter said.
  • “You guys (and gals) ROCK!” another commenter exclaimed. “This administration is filled with cretins.”
  • “Thank you for helping! God bless you all!” another commenter wrote. “We stand with you turning our backs on Biden and his gang!”
  • “This is what happens when you let a magic box decide. You get a crash dummy for a president,” another commenter offered.

(H/T: Western Journal)





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When Will PA Mayors Wake Up to the Crime Crisis?

Amid surging crime in Pennsylvania’s largest cities, it remains unclear if Democratic leadership is up to the task of ensuring law and order.

Take Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (pictured), who faces intensifying criticism as the city grapples with a public safety crisis. This year, 137 children under age 18 have been shot in city neighborhoods, and 32 have died. “That’s a bullet ripping into a young person’s body every 40 hours,” wrote the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Helen Ubiñas.

Last month, after a 15-year-old girl was shot in the head in North Philadelphia (she died the next day), community activists called for Kenney to deploy the Pennsylvania National Guard in the crime-ridden city. Kenney, though, said it is not an “effective tool to bring in uniformed, camouflaged, gun-rifle-carrying people in helmets to address [the crime] problem.”

Recent data indicate that Philadelphia, where crime declined in the early 2010s, is now the second-deadliest city in the United States behind Chicago. As the Philadelphia Inquirer recently put it, “There’s only been one day so far this year – Jan. 2 – when not a single person was shot in the city.” The city experienced a 30-year homicide high in 2020. So far this year, homicides are up more than 24% and shootings more than 25%, according to data from the Philadelphia Police Department.

“The epidemic of gun violence in Philadelphia is out of control and our elected officials in the city need to step up and take responsibility,” said Nick Gerace, a retired longtime Philadelphia police officer and president of Protect Our Police PAC.

Prosecutions have fallen dramatically under Larry Krasner, the city’s progressive district attorney who has sparred with Kenney. As it stands, 65% of gun charges have been dismissed or withdrawn this year, marking a 17% increase since 2015. In 2015, there were 375 guilty pleas; in 2020, just 148.

Yet Kenney has deflected blame. In July, for example, the mayor sent a letter to a city council member who favors declaring the gun crisis an “emergency” and claimed that doing so “is not a solution that will demonstrably change conditions in Philadelphia.”

Earlier this summer, after the City Council voted to cut police funding by $33 million for fiscal year 2021, the mayor agreed to eliminate a $19 million increase and cut existing funding by $14 million.

Carlos Vega, a longtime assistant district attorney who unsuccessfully ran against Krasner in May’s Democratic primary, told me that the defund-the-police movement will fail.

“It’s communities of color being killed,” Vega said, observing how 85% of this year’s homicide victims are black. “People have not thought through the impact defund the police is going to have on communities who are suffering the most.”

Philadelphia is not alone among Pennsylvania cities in failing to stave off crime. Often overlooked amid the nationwide crime surge is Pittsburgh, in recent years considered the Rust Belt’s greatest urban success story.

Following last summer’s riots, homicides have about doubled in Pittsburgh in 2021 over the first six months. As recently as April, the city saw a 90% surge in violence, with police officers pleading for more programs and funding. Young people continue to fall victim to violence, and nonfatal shootings are up about 68%, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In late August, the University of Pittsburgh warned students about “violent criminal activity,” especially in the popular South Side neighborhood.

Still, earlier this year, Democratic Mayor Bill Peduto slashed the police budget by $5.3 million. Last summer, not long after a disorderly demonstrator was arrested near Peduto’s neighborhood – leading to protests at his house – the mayor acknowledged the “right for people to take to the streets to demand much-needed reforms.”

But Peduto’s praise for protesters wasn’t enough to survive the city’s Democratic mayoral primary this past May. The more progressive Ed Gainey is poised to win his job in November.

Gainey, a state representative who earned endorsements from Democratic socialists and a major health care union, went so far as to accuse Peduto of “overpolicing” the city. He has pledged to “redirect” law enforcement funds to social services.

Pittsburgh’s GOP insiders see no end in sight to the city’s surging crime. Bob Hillen, chairman of the Republican Committee of Pittsburgh, thinks that far-left Democratic leadership under Gainey will continue to give crime a “free pass.”

“We could use more police on the streets right now,” Hillen told me. “I mean, every night there is a shooting. This is well out of hand. We have to do something quick.”

Other regional Republicans are more optimistic. When asked about getting the Steel City’s crime situation under control, Republican state Rep. Rob Mercuri of Allegheny County said, “We can do this if we work together in the Pittsburgh region.”

The GOP is strategizing on how to oust Democrats in a historically moderate state. The focus is on Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. “Bill Peduto and Jim Kenney are gaslighting and deflecting blame,” says Allie Carroll, spokeswoman for the state Republican National Committee.

Kenney is term-limited, with Philadelphia’s next mayoral race in 2022, while Gainey is primed to assume office in a city that hasn’t elected a Republican mayor in 88 years. So Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, two Democratic strongholds, find themselves in similar straits. Will their problems trigger a statewide political backlash?

Gabe Kaminsky is a senior contributor for The Federalist. His work has appeared in RealClearPolitics, the New York Post, Fox News, and other outlets. Follow him on Twitter.





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At least 45 dead in the Northeast in wake of Hurricane Ida

The death toll in the Northeast reached 45 on Thursday following the remnants of Hurricane Ida hitting the coast.

Those who were killed ranged geographically from Maryland to Connecticut, the Associated Press reported. At least 12 of those dead were in New York City, with 11 dying in flooded basement apartments and one in a car.

In New Jersey, at least 23 people died, with another five in Pennsylvania. A state trooper in Pennsylvania died in his car after helping his wife get out, and a Connecticut state police sergeant also died in his cruiser as it was swept away by the floodwaters, according to the AP.

Central Park in New York City received 3.15 inches in an hour, and over nine inches of rain hit parts of Staten Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania.

The storm, which included at least seven tornadoes and flash flooding, was caused by a traditional storm merging with the leftovers of Ida.



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Maybe Afghanistan will wake up the “woke” Left – HotAir

“We Americans should really get some perspective on where we live,” Bill Maher declared in his show’s conclusion. Definitely true, although don’t count on the woke Left waking up to that truth any time soon. After about 90 seconds of obligatory slams on conservatives for their patriotism — including one on John Boehner’s weepiness that’s about as relevant now as the Macarena — Maher turns to his real targets.

The real lesson from Afghanistan, Maher argues, is that Americans are working overtime to find things wrong here. That’s certainly one lesson from Afghanistan, although the collapse there was hardly necessary to notice that:

“We’re not the bad guys. Oppression is what we were trying to stop in Afghanistan. We failed, but any immigrant will tell you we’ve largely succeeded here. And yet, the overriding thrust of current ‘woke’ ideology is America is rotten to the core, irredeemably racist from the moment it was founded and so oppressive, sexist and homophobic we can’t find a host for the Oscars or ‘Jeopardy!’” Maher exclaimed.

“And this is where your new [Afghan] roommates that you took in will prove so valuable because they’ll turn to you and say ‘Have you people lost your f—ing minds?!?… Have you ever heard of honor killings, public beheadings, throwing gay men off of roofs, arranged marriages to minors, state-sanctioned wife-beating, female genital mutilation, marriage by capture? Because we have.’”

“What’s the lesson of Afghanistan. Maybe it’s that everyone from the giant dorm room b—- session that is the internet should take a good look at what real oppression looks like,” Maher continued. “Ask your maid, ask your Uber driver, ask the Asian woman giving you a massage. … America may not be the country of your faculty lounge and Twitter dreams, but no one here tries to escape by hanging on to an airplane. No, we wait ’til we get inside the plane to fight – and only because they cut off the beverage service.”

Maher takes the easy slams on conservatives’ expressive patriotism and the obligatory audience-pleasing shots at Donald Trump — and George Bush, for just criticizing him almost two decades ago — which tend to undercut his own argument on perspective. The Trump lawsuit is much more recent and had to be a legal headache (and certainly is worthy of Maher’s scorn here), but criticism from one of your frequent targets is part of the job, no? And on that score, why bring up Bush in 2021 if you’re arguing for perspective? Why bring up Boehner at all? Couldn’t Maher and his team find an example of excessive patriotic fervor from sometime over the past ten years? If not, maybe that’s not a point worth making.

The same goes for ripping Kristi Noem for riding on a horse to celebrate a major cultural event — the Sturgis rally. Maher didn’t include that as a criticism of her participation in the event during the pandemic, which has been a point of controversy, but merely for holding an American flag while riding the horse. Perhaps that’s overweening patriotism in Maher’s eyes, but even so it hardly equates to the witch-hunt atmosphere that pushed Kevin Hart out of an Oscars hosting gig. To quote the famed philosopher Jules Winnfield, that “ain’t the same f***ing ballpark, it ain’t the same f***ing league, it ain’t even the same f***ing sport.” It’s a rhetorical reach that should have resulted in emergency rotator-cuff surgery for Maher.

Otherwise, I agree wholeheartedly with Maher here, even on his general criticism about blinkered love of America. He’s doing good work in pointing out the destructive and absurd impact of the woke movement. Wokery is essentially Utopian nihilism; it’s not just that the perfect is the enemy of the good, but that fantasy is the enemy of everything else. Maher has been clear-eyed about wokery all along, although he seems incapable of addressing it entirely on its own without trying to frame it with crowd-pleasing Republican-bashing elements.

Nevertheless, Maher undertakes a Sisyphean task. We didn’t need the collapse of Afghanistan and the resurgence of Taliban control to grasp Maher’s point. The world is filled with such examples; Maher mentions oppression in China and Saudi Arabia, but we saw it in Iran and Syria for decades too. The genocide of the Rohingya, the tribal wars in Africa, the oppression in Venezuela — all of these are ongoing examples of what real suffering means. And it doesn’t mean cataloguing all of your microaggressions.

Maybe the woke Left will shut up for a couple of weeks, but even that’s an optimistic take. They’re not going to learn any lessons from it, no matter how hard Maher tries and how sincere he is in pushing the message. The best we can hope for is that everyone else wakes up to the nihilism and insanity of the woke Left. To the extent that Maher contributes to that, kudos, seriously.

Addendum: The real lesson from Afghanistan is the warning Barack Obama reportedly gave his aides. “Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f*** things up.”



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