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Playboy founder Hugh Hefner dies, after lifetime of destroying innocence

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Late Wednesday, the Playboy Magazine Twitter account announced the death of the magazine’s founder — and perhaps the inspiration for generations of increased sexual licentiousness — Hugh Hefner at age 91.

As a public figure and avatar for a different kind of cultural change, Hefner is fair game for analysis. What is the lasting impact of his Playboy media empire and the cultural evolution it helped spawn?

Background

Playboy Magazine was founded in 1953, when Hefner was just 27 years old. Those were different times; the past is always different, both in reality and as our perceptions change.

There are too many anecdotal stories and data points which suggest but cannot conclusively support a causal connection between the advent of public sexuality, represented by Hefner’s empire and its many media avenues, and certain social ills such as children borne out of wedlock, single-parent homes, unmarried mothers, divorce and even substance abuse.

Whatever the causes, it certainly seems over the last four decades that America (if not the entire Western world, influenced heavily by American entertainment and mass media) has experienced a weakening of the association between sex and love, between sex and marriage, and chastity in general.

As sex has been pulled out of the realm of the private, it has become a subject not only welcomed in the public arena, but expected to be public in its very nature. The disturbing implication? Sex is something to which one should have no expectation of privacy, of love or indeed of any emotion.

Of course, few dare to express the actual emotions which now accompany public, unemotional, unattached sexual expression: remorse, regret, shame, guilt, emptiness and loneliness. Just to name a few.

The baggage of the so-called liberation of sex is rarely discussed. However, when several full generations have experienced it, only to consequently feel its emotional and painful aftereffects, we should wonder what the long-term ramifications have been.

When families are torn apart, when children lose their innocence at younger and younger ages, the common denominator is emotional pain.

Some people attempt to self-medicate this emotional pain, through substance abuse. Others engage in equally dangerous activity, trying to assuage their guilt or remorse by encouraging others to repeat their mistakes in an attempt to normalize dysfunction.

The Takeaway

We have seen the weakening of Western social and cultural institutions, but most particularly, the family, in recent decades stretching back perhaps to the post-World War II era (if not earlier).

Sexual liberation, involving both temptations of the flesh and producing far-reaching and damaging consequences such as unplanned pregnancies, single mothers and successive generations raised with little or no mature parental guidance, has been an effective tool for weakening these institutions and the larger society.

Now, as we see a Western civilization where ideological divides are more apparent than ever (magnified by social media) and traditional values are more openly under assault than most of us can remember in our lifetimes, it is possible than a cultural revolution — of which Hefner played a role in encouraging — is not merely ongoing, but has occurred. In fact, it could have been so profound, yet gone so unnoticed over decades, that the tipping point we might have been theorizing as to its existence has in fact already taken place.

Cultural revolutions engender political revolutions, as politics is downstream from culture.

Classic Gramsci Marxism proposed that revolution in the strongly Christian West could be achieved by weakening its institutions, targeting the family in particular.

Could this mean that Hefner, long viewed as a sexual liberation icon and worldwide celebrity, can appropriately be viewed as not just a libertine, flamboyant “playboy,” but as a Gramsci Marxist, a perhaps unwitting agent of Marxist revolution?

Perspectives

Hugh Hefner of Playboy is Dead | Erick Erickson, The Resurgent

http://theresurgent.com/hugh-hefner-of-playboy-is-dead/Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

1 John 2:15-17

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

John 15:18-21

That is all.

END OF AN ERA: Hugh Hefner dies at age 91 – twitchy.com

https://twitchy.com/gregp-3534/2017/09/28/end-of-an-era-hugh-hefner-dies-at-age-91/Hugh Hefner published the first issue of Playboy in 1953, with Marilyn Monroe on the cover. He has died age 91. https://t.co/QvvOEyO2fD pic.twitter.com/CFowu1N2x8

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner dead at 91 – Sep. 27, 2017 | CNN

http://money.cnn.com/2017/09/27/media/hugh-hefner/index.htmlHefner contributed an introductory essay in which he envisioned the magazine’s readers: “We like our apartment. We enjoy mixing up cocktails and an hors d’oeuvre or two, putting a little mood music on the phonograph and inviting in a female acquaintance for a quiet discussion on Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex …”

 

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Final Thoughts

[This is Steve, not Eric writing this part – Ed]

I was going to write my own obituary for Mr. Hefner, but it seems most of what I was going to say has been written for me. “Contribution” is not the word I would use to describe Hefner’s transaction with society. I’d say it was a “withdrawal.” This paragraph from CNN describes his ethos and his customer base very well.

“We like our apartment. We enjoy mixing up cocktails and an hors d’oeuvre or two, putting a little mood music on the phonograph and inviting in a female acquaintance for a quiet discussion on Picasso, Nietzsche, jazz, sex …”

Think about that. Within years after World War II, men, many who have seen horrors beyond description and suffered emotional damage we’d call PTSD today, were looking for a life of meaning, or distraction. I’d like to contrast Hefner’s life with one of his contemporaries.

Two men rose up at about the same time. Billy Graham started his public preaching ministry in 1947, offering meaning through salvation and relationship with Jesus Christ. Hefner offered distraction, abstraction, Nietzsche (whose benighted teachings led directly to the two wars we had just fought), music and eroticism. The two things could not be more in opposition to each other.

We can observe the results with our own eyes. As Graham’s influence waned in America after the turbulent 60s and cynical 70s, the rise of Internet pornography that ultimately ruined Playboy’s almost quaint smut by comparison and its influence on society was in many ways enabled by Hefner’s societal “withdrawal.” He got the life he deserved, as the Gospel tells us, surely he has his reward. We can only pray that a deathbed confession brought redemption. But we cannot expect to live a life venerating sin and enter Heaven. Such an expectation is frequently futile and self-deceiving.

Hefner’s death is the marking of the passage of one man’s era, whose time passed a decade or more ago. Billy Graham lives on still, but his era will not pass until the one he preaches returns for His bride.

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Budget head Mulvaney picked as Trump’s next chief of staff

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Budget head Mulvaney picked as Trumps next chief of staff

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has picked budget director Mick Mulvaney to be his acting chief of staff, ending a chaotic search in which several top contenders took themselves out of the running for the job.

“Mick has done an outstanding job while in the Administration,” Trump tweeted Friday. “I look forward to working with him in this new capacity as we continue to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”

Trump added that his current chief of staff, John Kelly, will be staying until the end of the year. “He is a GREAT PATRIOT and I want to personally thank him for his service!” Trump wrote.

Trump’s first pick for the job, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff Nick Ayers, took himself out of the running last weekend and decided to leave the White House instead. The decision caught the president and many senior staffers by surprise, and Trump soon found that others he considered front-runners were not interested in the job.

It was not immediately clear why the president decided to make Mulvaney’s appointment temporary. One senior White House official said there was no time limit on the appointment and Mulvaney would fill the role of chief of staff indefinitely, regardless of the “acting” title.

Key to his selection: Mulvaney and the president get along and the president likes him personally. Additionally, Trump prized the former congressman’s knowledge of Capitol Hill and political instincts as the White House prepares for a Democratic-controlled House and the president’s upcoming re-election campaign.

The decision came suddenly. Trump had grown frustrated with the length of the search and the growing perception that no one of stature wanted the job, according to one person familiar with his thinking.

Mulvaney received the news before the president tweeted his announcement. They spoke face to face Friday afternoon at a meeting that was supposed to be about the budget and spoke by phone later in the evening, according to a second White House official. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the personnel matter on the record.

“This is a tremendous honor,” Mulvaney tweeted. “I look forward to working with the President and the entire team. It’s going to be a great 2019!”

Mulvaney, who will be Trump’s third chief of staff, will now take on his third job in the administration. He is head of the Office of Management and Budget, and for a time simultaneously led the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The White House originally said Russell Vought, Mulvaney’s deputy, would be taking over at OMB. But press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Friday night that Mulvaney will not resign that job even though he “will spend all of his time devoted to his role as the acting Chief Of Staff for the President.”

Sanders said Vought “will handle day to day operations and run OMB.”

Mulvaney had signaled in recent weeks that he wasn’t interested in being chief of staff, with a person close to him telling reporters that he’d made clear that he would me more interested in taking over as secretary of the Treasury or Commerce. But the White House officials disputed reports that captured that sentiment, and said the president didn’t need to change Mulvaney’s mind.

A former tea party congressman, Mulvaney was among a faction on the hard right that pushed GOP leaders into a 2013 government shutdown confrontation by insisting on lacing a must-pass spending bill with provisions designed to cripple President Barack Obama’s signature health care law.

Trump’s pick generated little immediate reaction on Capitol Hill, where most of Mulvaney’s allies are part of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. But his knowledge of Congress and how government works is likely to be an asset in the coming months.

The appointment of the affable, fast-talking South Carolinian came just hours after another candidate for the post, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, took himself out of contention. Christie cited family reasons in a statement saying he was asking Trump to remove him from consideration. He had met with Trump on Thursday to discuss the job, according to a person familiar with the meeting who was not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Ayers, who had cited family concerns as a reason he didn’t accept the post, tweeted Friday: “The right father of triplets got the job…Congratulations @MickMulvaneyOMB!” Both men are, coincidentally, fathers of triplets.

Trump’s first chief of staff, Reince Priebus, served for six months before leaving in July 2017. Trump tweeted his choice of Kelly to replace him before he formally offered the retired four-star Marine general the job.

For some months, Kelly had success streamlining the decision-making process in the West Wing and curtailing access to the undisciplined president. But Trump grew weary of the restrictions and Kelly’s influence waned as the two men frequently clashed.

As the search dragged on after Ayers bowed out, with no backup at the ready, the void had been filled with Trump’s specialty: drama.

British journalist Piers Morgan suggested he would be a good fit in an op-ed for The Daily Mail, while former major league slugger Jose Canseco tweeted his interest to Trump. Speculation swirled around an array of Trump associates, prompting some to distance themselves from the job.

When former House Speaker Newt Gingrich visited the White House this week, he insisted it was merely to see the Christmas decorations.

The wild process was hardly a novelty for the Trump administration, which has struggled with high staff turnover and attracting top talent, but it underscored the tumult of Trump’s Washington. In past administrations, chief of staff was a sought-after job, typically awarded after a careful process. Now, many view the job as a risky proposition, given Trump’s propensity for disorder and his resistance to being managed.

Author Chris Whipple, an expert on chiefs of staff, had called the search process “sad to watch.”

“In his first two years, Trump devalued the position by failing to empower anyone to perform the job, and now he’s turned the search for a replacement into a reality show,” said Whipple, author of “The Gatekeepers,” a book on the subject. “The only thing more broken and dysfunctional than the White House itself seems to be the search for the new White House chief of staff.”

Trump on Friday disputed that notion.

“For the record, there were MANY people who wanted to be the White House Chief of Staff. Mick M will do a GREAT job!” he tweeted.

___

Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.

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J&J hammered by report it knew of asbestos in baby powder

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J&J hammered by report it knew of asbestos in baby powder

NEW YORK (AP) — Johnson & Johnson is forcefully denying a media report that it knew for decades about the existence of trace amounts of asbestos in its baby powder.

The report Friday by the Reuters news service sent company shares into a tailspin, suffering their worst sell-off in 16 years.

Reuters is citing documents released as part of a lawsuit by plaintiffs claiming that the product can be linked to ovarian cancer. The New Brunswick, New Jersey company has battled in court against such claims and on Friday called the Reuters report, “one-sided, false and inflammatory.”

Shares are down more than 9 percent, the most severe decline since 2002.

In the report, Reuters points out that documents show consulting labs as early as 1957 and 1958 found asbestos in J&J talc. Further reports by the company and outside labs showed similar findings through the early 2000s.

In its statement Friday, Johnson & Johnson said “thousands of independent tests by regulators and the world’s leading labs prove our baby powder has never contained asbestos.”

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