Brilliant Artists are Privileged

Now, this is a curious thing. The Rhetoritician makes the valid point that Hollywood wishes to excuse men like Roman Polanski from their wrongdoing, but will work to destroy men like Mark Foley for theirs.

Recalling Orwell’s Animal Farm The Rhetoritician entitles his piece Some are more Equal than Others.

Looking at pictures from U2′s big concert in DC last night, I am seeing a pattern emerge.

I am a fan -a big fan- of U2′s music. I still think Achtung Baby and Zooropa are two of the best Pop albums ever made, and I still play The Joshua Tree as much or more than All That You Can’t Leave Behind, but this bit about some being more equal than others – particularly if they belong to the artistic-elite class- has bothered me for a long time. And as I look at photos from last night’s concert – look at the lighting! Look at the carbon footprint! it comes up again:

I recall U2’s fun, splendidly ironic “Zoo TV” Tour of the early 1990’s. The band spent over 18 months traveling the globe in support of their fantastic album, “Achtung, Baby”, hitting all the stadiums and large venues on every continent. 157 shows. The tour boasted:

The stage…featured vidi walls, 36 video monitors, numerous television cameras, two separate mix positions, 26 on stage microphones, 176 speakers, and 11 elaborately painted Trabants, several of which were suspended over the stage with spotlights inserted into headlights, which all required 1 million watts of power to operate: enough to run 2,000 homes.

A total of 52 trucks were required to transport the 1,200 tons of equipment, 3 miles of cabling, 200 labourers, 12 forklifts and one 40-ton crane, required to construct the stage.

And that was for every show.

That’s a pretty impressive bit of consumption, but let’s add into it the luxury jets (and non-luxurious staff planes) that carted U2 and their handlers, techies, roadies, belly-dancers, make-up, costumers, etc all around. Add to it the air-conditioning at the indoor venues. Add into it the trains, planes and automobiles used to transport hundreds of thousands of people to the shows. Add to it the klieg lights used for every televised interview, the trees killed to print every magazine promo and to print the $30.00 posters sold at all 157 shows. And consider if you will the souvenir teeshirts – probably stitched together in some hellish Indonesian sweatshop – that weren’t even made out of bamboo fiber!

We are told that many politicians were at this concert; Nancy Pelosi was there. Undoubtedly many people who lecture us daily about the environment and are diligently working to ram the ruinous cap and trade boondoggle down our throats were enjoying the music, the lights, the pyrotechnics, the spectacle. Then they got into their waiting limos, and went home to their well-lit, well-heated and spacious homes.

You and I must turn out all of the lights, put on our sweaters, air-dry our laundry and consider biking everywhere we go, because we are energy gluttons who are killing the planet.

But for the rest of them -our betters- why the show goes on, and on, and on. A “crisis” for which you and I must change our lives, but not they theirs.

Cognitive dissonance, anyone? Some are more equal than others.

Btw, at the Politico, they write:

Bono dedicated “New Year’s Day” to Ted Kennedy and “Beautiful Day” to Eunice and Timmy Shriver.

They could not be bothered to mention that Bono dedicated his showpiece number, “One” to President George W. Bush & US Congress for “AIDS, malaria relief efforts in Africa, saving millions of lives. .”

So, again, some are more equal than others. It’s a hypocritical value the media itself promotes, endlessly.

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  • dellbabe68

    Excellent points about the U2 concerts! I am a big fan, but their lights shine less brightly when after one concert they showed the UN Human Rights Declaration up on a giant screen. I thought, how empty, and what posturing for a lot of nothing!

  • David

    I was at the U2 show, and it was fantastic. One of the things I’ve always liked about them more than about other celebrities who are activists is that they are quite clearly sincere in their advocacy, and are willing to recognize the good that their sometime-opponents do. Bono was very classy about praising Bush, and did so both when he was president and now.

  • Zophiel

    I was at the U2 show last night, and it was great! Cardinal McCarrick was also in the house, a fact Bono seemed to take great delight in (“How many rock shows have a Cardinal in the audience?!”). He also dedicated Sunday, Bloody Sunday to the protesters in Iran, the stage turning a brilliant emerald green with streaks of blood red.

    Bono is sometimes a bit naive, but he’s one of the few celebrities that I think is thoroughly sincere, and that shows in how he doesn’t care about politics, he has his concerns and those are what he cares about– he was very clear in his comments that the left and the right, the right and the left, are full of good people who want to do good things. And yes, One– a song that might be considered the centerpiece of their repertoire– was dedicated to President Bush.

    It was a fantastic show, less politicizing than I expected, a nice long set list, and the band seemed to really be enjoying themselves. ^_^

    Oh, and there was a nice Amazing Grace sing along. It was nice! . . . and loud. . .heh

  • Gail F

    Fabulous post.

    When Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore, et al move to farms, heat with wood, and start bicycling everywhere, then I’ll pay attention to what they say about energy. A good way to evaluate any statement about what everyone should do is whether or not the speaker is doing it.

  • John

    Here’s a thought. It needs more work but here goes….

    Catholics are known for promoting both faith and reason. Those against Catholicism have no faith and with their words promote reason yet with their acts they promote a faith based in something other than reason.

  • Dagwood

    First time I ever heard of Bono was when the videotape “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” was released. Bono impressed me with the comments he made on the documentary, and he’s been consistent in his beliefs and actions, so far as I can tell.

    I didn’t know half the performers in the video then, and probably still don’t. But it was refreshing to see them all showing up in their grungy clothes and working together to complete the song. It seems that so many artists back then were willing to lay their politics and their egos aside (well, maybe not their egos) and work together to aid starving people who’d never heard of their benefactors, and who would never be buying their recordings.

  • Colleen

    I too was at the DC show last night, and yes, it was over the top, loud, and must have used more energy than half the stadium uses in a year. Yet, the concert was moving, lovely, and very sincere — Bono brought a little kid (maybe 11) onto stage with him during “City of Blinding Lights” and it was really moving. He also used the occasion to promote Iran’s Green Revolution — to Sunday Bloody Sunday, no less — I thought it was a great way to get some traction for a struggle that’s gotten shamefully short shrift in Obama’s DC and in the MSM.

  • Bill Bond

    In reference to the carbon footprint: I believe that it is the great Tim Blair who says, “I will believe it is a crisis when those who say it is a crisis act like it is a crisis.”

  • Joseph Marshall

    When Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore, et al move to farms, heat with wood, and start bicycling everywhere, then I’ll pay attention to what they say about energy.

    Well, Gail, who do you know that lives on a farm, heats with wood, rides a bicycle? And do you take the things they say about energy seriously?

    It becomes so discouraging seeing the constant use of the tactic of trashing the messenger in order to avoid an honest examination of the evidence for or against the message.

    There are times when I think that if Nancy Pelosi or Al Gore went on The Larry King Show to announce that twice two equals four, I would see endless blogging reams of rants and tirades about the fact that they have never taught arithmatic in their lives and that they are probably saying such things as a naked power grab to indoctrinate our children or from a sleazy vested interest to make a little profit on the side with their ghost written math textbooks.

    So I’ll credit what the Anchoress has to say about “the ruinous cap-and-trade boondoggle” when I find her on the floor of the NYSE making money with real time trading in equities. And I’ll credit what Zophiel and David have to say about U2 when I finally hear them lay down some real guitar licks!

    See how silly it sounds?

    There is a real and objective world out there where the polar ice cap either is melting or isn’t melting. And it is possible for a perfectly ordinary person to examine the evidence and to come to a true conclusion about it without any particular expertise.

    It is perfectly possible to come to an independently verifiable conclusion about just how many people used to have health insurance and now don’t have health insurance. And you don’t have to be either a medical professional or an insurance agent to do it.

    You can examine objective numerical evidence and make a sound inference about how long the current petroleum reserves are likely to last. And you don’t have to be John Wayne playing the salty but gold hearted wildcat oil prospector for the inference to be reasonable.

    And you don’t have to be making the smallest carbon footprint humanly possible in order to correctly understand the consequences of everybody’s carbon footprint being too large.

    Two plus two equals four is true when I say it, when the Anchoress says it, when Nancy Pelosi says it, and even when Al Gore says it.

    And if Nancy Pelosi or Al Gore happen to express the incorrect belief that two plus two equals five, their views are not wrong because they happen to be Nancy Pelosi and Al Gore.

    Nor is are they wrong because the New York Times didn’t manage to report that Larry’s next guest was a real mathematician who knew better.

    Why is that so difficult to get across?

    The name of the messenger is not all that important. The message is. Maybe the message is true and maybe it is false, but in either case the message itself exists objectively and independently from what we think about it, and from whatever the name was of the person who brought it into the room.

    And it deserves a real evaluation from everyone which acknowledges these facts.

    It seldom gets what it deserves.

  • Amy P.

    Joseph, in your post, did you stop to consider that maybe we’ve examined the evidence and concluded global warming is a fallacy? That there are many scientists, and lots of evidence, that contradicts what Al Gore says, for example, in his “Inconvenient Truth” documentary?

    The problem is that a lot of people analyzed the message, including the “if we don’t act NOW the world will END!” proclamations (which have been around since at least the late 1980s – I remember hearing them in elementary school), and the fact that some environmentalists not only want to control our thermostats, but how many children we have (a most intimate, personal decision) including and up to forced abortions and mass sterlizations and calls for millions of people to be shed of their mortal coil in the name of Gaia, and decided it’s not worth it.

    Cap and trade has been analyzed by respectable economists and they – like Barack Obama himself – admit it will cause energy prices (and anything that relies on energy to be produce) to “skyrocket.” This will destroy manufacturing, especially in places like the Midwest, and put an undue burden on people who live in states that have winter’s extremes or merely want to turn a light on at night.

    And amid all of that, those who are raising the alarm do little, if anything, to make the changes they demand of us. I have friends who are liberal, who believe in AGW and what we need to do…who don’t make those changes, either. Which means I don’t take them seriously and find it – just as I find Pelosi and Gore’s alarmism – insincere and hypocritical.

  • Gail F


    I live in a small house and always have. I drive a car that gets great mileage and always have. I’ve recycled since before it was stylish, I have a compost heap in my yard, I grow vegetables. I don’t believe in waste or conspicuous consumption because they are stupid.

    I have also looked at the evidence for global warming and found it to be bad. That doesn’t mean I think everyone should pollute — pollution, overuse of energy, and waste are stupid.

    However, I stand by what I said above. If the people pushing regulations, taxes, etc. and telling THE REST OF US to go out and do everything we can to reduce our “carbon footprint” have a “carbon footprint” that is many times mine, then I don’t believe that they mean what they say.

    If you think that they are correct but won’t follow their own advice, then that’s your opinion. But I don’t think so. I think they are lying. And I think so because the consequences of what they say would make billions of dollars for our government, would do NOTHING to help the environment, and would (if followed by the Third World, which it won’t be) keep poor countries poor forever.

  • dry valleys
  • dry valleys

    The liberal elite speak again

    [That's a great blog, if only she were one of the 'elites' - she'd be a sane voice for them! :-) -admin]

  • Joseph Marshall

    You can find a pimple on anybody’s face if you wait long enough and look hard enough. So let me ask you, can you name any individual who thinks global warming is the case and speaks their mind forcefully about it who isn’t “insincere” and “hypocritical”? If you can’t do that I’d have to say that you’ve merely been looking for the pimple.

    Over the past few months I’ve waded through endless paragraphs on conservative blogs joining in the Pimple Report on Barack Obama. And before that the most popular subject of the Pimple Report was Nancy Pelosi. And before that Al Gore.

    It dismays me that so few of us have sufficient capacity for self-criticism to ask why is it that people of the opposite political opinion are always badly in need of a dose of Oxy-5?

    I keep coming back to blogs like this because actually I do find more here than the Pimple Report and I actually like reading opinions different than my own–when they’re not just about pimples on liberal faces.

    How many people here spend any time on the liberal blogs doing this? And for this reason?

    The Irish Fenian rebel John O’Leary put it perfectly:

    There is no cause so bad that honest men have not believed in it for what seemed to them good reasons.

    Can anybody name a major and popular conservative blog that treats the politics of others in this same charitable spirit?

    I’m always looking for new blogs to read.

    [Joseph, in fact, I can point you to Ed Morrissey over at Hot Air who is consistently fair. I'll wait while you name a popular leftwing blogger who can match his fairness, and I'll ignore your many years of "pimplefinding" on the part of President Bush. A bill of goods is a bill of goods. You maintain that Iraq was one. I maintain that global warming is another. America has acne ;-) -admin]

  • dry valleys

    Joseph Marshall. On about your requests, have you considered Secular Right?

  • EJHill

    Joseph asks, “Can anybody name a major and popular conservative blog that treats the politics of others in this same charitable spirit?”

    The nineteenth-century military theorist Karl von Clausewitz wrote that war is an extension of politics, but by other means. And so the reverse is true. Politics is an extension of war. It is a war of ideas and it is a war that is waged to be won.

    It is ugly, brutal and not for faint of heart. If you believe for a minute that Obama, the Democratic leadership of the Congress and their minions at or the SEIU are worrying about respecting the ideas or feeling of conservatives then you are living in a Peter Pan fairyland of childish notions.

  • Dagwood

    It isn’t just that Gore, T. Friedman and others are producing more pollutants in their globe-trotting than most of us will produce in over 10 years of our individual daily commutes, or that they live in palaces that require more energy to heat and cool for one month than our homes require over a full year. It’s that they have been carrying on like raving lunatics on various matters for over eight years now, and (certainly in Gore’s case) stand to make millions in profit from investing in the “carbon credit” industry.

    Yet we are supposed to take what they say at face value and either repent our sinful ways or pay for “ecological indulgences.” And we’re expected to submit without bothering to ask whether these restrictions or penalties are based on sound research and settled science. And every day now, it seems, more evidence surfaces to indicate that High Priest Gore and his minions have rushed to judgment and are demanding draconian measures based on very faulty and prejudiced findings.

    When the message is that we must overhaul our way of living, pay dramatically higher prices for our energy needs (and obviously everything in our lives that consumes energy either in production or transportation), and surrender ever greater control of our daily lives to an impersonal government, I feel that the messenger had better have tons more evidence and credibility than Gore, Boxer, etc. have exhibited up to now.

  • JuliB

    AmyP – I remember seeing the warnings of famine and food riots in the 70s as a child.

    Joseph – the problem is, the annointed ones only give lip service, not even a little bit of action connected with it. If it was so true and important, then there’d be SOME notable changes, even if small.

    It’s even worse to think that they believe it really is a crisis, but don’t care enough about it to change their own lives.

    As for myself, I do a fair amount of ‘green living’, esp where cash green meets environmental green.

    If we really wanted to make a change in terms of the ‘global warming’ issue, then we should lobby China and India to make changes. Their actions swamp whatever changes we could bring about.

  • dry valleys
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  • Michael McDonough

    Joseph Marshall,

    When you mention the melting ice caps, you give the impression that it is not a factual matter, but subject to some kind of “political insight”. Let’s agree that, whatever your politics (or non-politics in my case) we can agree to respect what the experts tell as about factual matters. So, the ice caps are melting.

    Now, along comes Mr. Office-Seeker, and in order to win office he asserts that it’s because of population growth which needs to be curbed.

    The experts, who agree about the facts (or at least some of them), do not always agree, and sometimes disagree heatedly, on the causes that explain the facts. Has Mr. Office-Seeker a) settled the scientific debate, or b) simply taken a side because he believes it is in his own personal interest?

    People agree or disagree, based on their reading of what the experts are saying, and match their views to those of Mr. Office-Seeker.

    The real issue is not who is Right and who is Left, but which reasons are right and which are wrong. It is the time to get a handle on the causes, not to pre-judge the solutions (especially if Mr. Office-Seeker’s solutions are very expensive).

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  • Amy P.

    So let me ask you, can you name any individual who thinks global warming is the case and speaks their mind forcefully about it who isn’t “insincere” and “hypocritical”?

    Yes. Ed Begley Jr. comes to mind. He, however, is not making policy.

  • bt

    Where I live, they have just painted bicycle lanes on many of the city roads. The city is hilly, the weather is rainy 9 months out of the year. The people that use the bicycle lanes are usually those who have the time to commute this way, don’t need to carry extra passengers (kids and babies), and are very physically fit. I don’t see this as a great method of transportation for the majority of our population (especially as cars continue to be better engineered and become more efficient), but that is what our politicians appear to be pushing on us. The bicycles do not require a license to support the infrastructure that is being created for them.

  • dry valleys

    Yes, but have you ever seen how motorists can ruin a street for pedestrians?

    The fact is, as much as petrolheads may whinge, there will have to be things such as parking restrictions, congestion charges, because people doing whatever the flaming hell they like with their cars will have an adverse effect on others. Cycle lanes serve a purpose in that they create a viable alternative for those who don’t need cars- those who drive don’t have to use them, it’s just a suggestion.

    We don’t exist, alone, on desert islands, we have to share a crowded space with others, & it will become even more crowded if unlimited immigration continues & women are denied the means to control their fertility.

  • dry valleys

    See here for example.

  • JuliB

    Dry, As someone who used a bike as a primary means of transportation for about 5 years, one of the most dangerous places I would ride was the Chicago “bike path” along the lake.

    I got hit by a car once, but I will take the streets with cars over the clueless peds and roller bladers any day.

  • dry valleys

    Yes, some cyclists behave badly. There’s no denying that one, & pedestrians too. Personally I go through side streets & paths rather than heavy-duty roads.

  • Joseph Marshall

    Anchoress, the matter is not one of “fairness”, but rather of focus. Now I’m not going to claim that such pimple watching doesn’t occur on liberal blogs, but I don’t think it occurred on mine when I wrote one and I certainly could not be described as absolutely fair. Not even close.

    I have no real interest one way or another in the state of George W. Bush’s soul or whether or not he believed the things he said. What I am interested in is the philosophy of government espoused by his administration, and the objective results of his actions as President.

    I believe the philosophy to be a dangerous and destructive one to quite specific American values and I believe the actions made our situation at home and abroad objectively worse than when he took office.

    Now if someone here wanted to disagree with me about this that would be fine. But nobody wants to. All anybody wants to do is change the subject.

    The last Administration repeatedly made the claim that the actions of the President are absolute and above the law, and that he has the power to alter laws passed by Congress in any way that he sees fit to do. They really did claim this. Constantly.

    Will anybody here actually step up and defend this notion? Nobody seems to want to. Everybody seems to want to pretend that this claim either didn’t occur or doesn’t really matter.

    That’s what I mean by focus. It really does matter. The private personality of the particular President who made it really doesn’t matter. It is as radical a claim as has ever been made in American politics. And the only reason I can think that no one wishes to defend it is that nobody finds it defensible.

    And I think that the general attitude among conservatives is that, since it is so self-evidently wrong, whatever Nanci Pelosi, Al Gore, or Barack Obama has to say doesn’t really matter. All that matters is their private personality, which must be base because the things they say are so self-evidently wrong, that they cannot possibly be unaware of the fact.

    And the only thing that is really important for the country is to constantly point out their private failings again and again.

    Well, okay.

    By the way, dry valleys, I took your recommendation and looked in on Secular Right, and it was mild enough but they seemed to be much more focused on being Secular than being Right, and much more focused on surveying who is secular than on advocating either secularity or conservative politics.

    I have also bookmarked the references to Ed Begley Jr. that Amy P. mentioned. I haven’t been much of a television viewer for decades now and he has never shown up on my radar screen. It will be interesting to learn more about him.

    Politics is an extension of war. It is a war of ideas and it is a war that is waged to be won. It is ugly, brutal and not for faint of heart.

    Now I don’t think I’m faint of heart but maybe we could ask the Anchoress for a second opinion. And I have always operated on the presumption that politics is a contact sport. But I think you should consider the implications of what you have said. Taken to its logical extension it means that either you or I end up sooner or later in a prison camp and maybe even an execution shed.

    There are plenty of places in the world where they have no qualms whatever about this. Would you like America to become one?

  • EJHill

    Joseph writes: “Taken to its logical extension it means that either you or I end up sooner or later in a prison camp and maybe even an execution shed.”

    If that’s where your logic takes you that says a lot about you. Americans have traditionally fought for complete victory. We have a long tradition of magnanimous actions in victory.

    Your logic and my definition of victory may never cross.

  • Joseph Marshall

    I must say you amaze me, even for a conservative. Do you seriously think that the kind of abuse conservatives heap on those who disagree with them makes it likely that they will convince the fully one-half of the country that voted for Al Gore, voted for John Kerry, and voted for Barack Obama to somehow sit down and shut up because they are suddenly convinced of the correctness of your ideas?

    You speak of war. War means physical violence. Period. It means people with names, faces, friends, and family dying by violence. Period. If you really mean politics is war, that’s what you mean.

    Own it.

  • Dagwood

    And I must say that your meltdown in the last post fails to amaze me, Joseph, especially given that you are a left-leaner. And to think that all this time I’ve been told that it’s the neanderthals on the conservative side of the spectrum who are incapable of understanding nuance and metaphor.

    Your attempt to insert different meanings into EJH’s posts is feeble. It’s certainly not the first time you’ve projected meanings onto posts on this site that weren’t necessarily intended.