The Bookworm Beat 1-31-15 — the mammoth Saturday edition

Woman writingAfter a few days of what a doctor friend of mine calls the “crud” (it’s not the flu, thank goodness, but you still feel lousy), I’m finally starting to feel like myself again. More importantly, my energy is returning and with energy comes blogging. While I couldn’t rouse myself to write for the last few days, that didn’t stop me from collecting a few — well, not really a few, but a lot of — links to share with you.

If you’re enjoying a relaxing Saturday afternoon/evening . . . well, I was going to say that if you were relaxing, you could then enjoy reading this post. But honestly, so much of what’s in this post is depressing that it will just ruin your relaxation. Here’s the truth: If you’re miserable and want to stay that way, or are feeling relaxed to the point of inertia and want to get your stress going, then you should feel free to read this mammoth Saturday edition of the Bookworm Beat.

How to handle Marine haters

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about seeing an interesting by-play in Marin, when a Marine temporarily left his dress blue cover behind in a coffee shop. While the barristas didn’t know whether to fear or respect the cover, one guy knew what it was: a baby-killer’s headgear. He raved for a few seconds, and then fell silent. Rather typically for me, since I’m both cowardly and suffer terribly from l’esprit de l’escalier, I just sat there — and then I blogged about it.

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Berkeley Leftist cannot understand why Islam has a terrorist problem — but thinks it’s probably our fault

Behead those who insult IslamIslam has been in the headlines lately and (reasons incomprehensible to the Left) whenever Islam is in the news, it’s associated with violence — bombs, beheadings, shootings, stabbings, church and people burnings, mass slaughters, mass rapes, tossing people off buildings, child soldiers, hangings, honor killings, etc. The Leftists are left scratching their heads:  What is it about Islam that leads to this bad press?

M. Steven Fish, a UC Berkeley political scientist, takes a stab at figuring out this vexing problem. Herewith, a little fisking (hint: it’s all Christians’ fault).

To give him credit, Fish begins by noting that (a) Muslims account for the bulk of the world’s terrorism and have done so for more than 20 years. He has also figured out that, while we like to say that most Muslims aren’t terrorists, the fact is that their “anti-terrorist” credentials are invisible. Those who don’t bomb still aren’t out there protesting the bombings. Having started off so well, though, Fish lapses into stupid:

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The Bookworm Beat 1-31-15 — the illustrated edition and Open Thread

Ever so slowly, I’m getting my mojo back. As I do, here are some pictures (with the usual boundless thanks to Caped Crusader):

Hitler and Hillary both devalue the individual

(And no, I’m not calling Hillary either a Nazi or saying she’s Hitler by printing the above illustration. It simply points out that whether you’re a smiley-faced socialist or a genocidal one, the focus is always on the state, not the individual.)

Barack Obama on Wheel of Fortune

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Sorry for the silence (and Open Thread)

Thought-Bubble-White-Board_8296556

I apologize for the silence today.  It was a combination of little sleep, a filing deadline now that I’m working again, a business meeting, and just generally having the blechs (not a flu, just . . . the blechs).  I meant to blog in the late afternoon, but when the dog jumped in my lap, I fell asleep.  I’ll definitely be back tomorrow, because I’ve got a lot of ideas and, thanks to Caped Crusader, a lot of pictures too.  Also, I’m optimistic that tomorrow I’ll be back to a rosy state of health.

[VIDEO] The reinstatement of blasphemy laws in the West

I’ve noticed how proud Leftists are of their “Je Suis Charlie” cries.  I’ve also noticed that, while all of them like to show tearful and/or bloody pens and pencils, none are showing pictures of Mohamed.  Not nasty pictures, but any pictures — like this one:

17th century French picture of Mohamed

You see, these so-called liberals don’t really believe in free speech. They only believe in “free” speech that (a) supports everything any given Progressive believes at any given moment and (b) supports everyone who hates America, Christianity, Jews, Israel, and Western values.

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Two American columnists on the Greek elections: one who is hopelessly wrong, and one who is painfully correct

The_Parthenon_Acropolis_Athens_Greece_1440x1080When Greek voters elected a hard-Left politician who promised to reverse austerity, Paul Krugman celebrated wildly.  In a column filled with economic cant, he explained that it was always a disaster for Greece to turn to austerity when its economy collapsed, instead of spending its way out of its financial woes:

To understand the political earthquake in Greece, it helps to look at Greece’s May 2010 “standby arrangement” with the International Monetary Fund, under which the so-called troika — the I.M.F., the European Central Bank and the European Commission — extended loans to the country in return for a combination of austerity and reform. It’s a remarkable document, in the worst way. The troika, while pretending to be hardheaded and realistic, was peddling an economic fantasy. And the Greek people have been paying the price for those elite delusions.

You see, the economic projections that accompanied the standby arrangement assumed that Greece could impose harsh austerity with little effect on growth and employment. Greece was already in recession when the deal was reached, but the projections assumed that this downturn would end soon — that there would be only a small contraction in 2011, and that by 2012 Greece would be recovering. Unemployment, the projections conceded, would rise substantially, from 9.4 percent in 2009 to almost 15 percent in 2012, but would then begin coming down fairly quickly.

What actually transpired was an economic and human nightmare. Far from ending in 2011, the Greek recession gathered momentum. Greece didn’t hit the bottom until 2014, and by that point it had experienced a full-fledged depression, with overall unemployment rising to 28 percent and youth unemployment rising to almost 60 percent. And the recovery now underway, such as it is, is barely visible, offering no prospect of returning to precrisis living standards for the foreseeable future.

Boiled down, Krugman said that the big bad banks closed the spigot on Greece’s socialized spending spree and Greeks suffered horribly. Krugman then went on to write several mind-numbing paragraphs about GDP and debt and the total failure of austerity.  The remedy, said Krugman, is to return to a centralized economy with massive government spending:

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Watcher’s Council nominations for January 27, 2015

Here they are — this week’s Watcher’s Council nominations:

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Welcome to the Watcher’s Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the ‘sphere, and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council.Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday morning.

Council News:

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An amazing Holocaust story plus thoughts about the Big Bang and the human soul

Allies during WWII Hitler and the Grand MuftiHitler loved Islam.*  If you didn’t know that he loved Islam, you might think that Hitler, with his race-based obsessions, would have been hostile to a religion primarily centered on a Semitic people.  To Hitler, though, Islam was a manly religion that shared his goals:  the eradication of the Jews coupled with world domination.  That abiding respect for Islam as practiced by the world’s Muslims, led him to ally  himself closely with Muslims whenever possible:

As David Motadel writes in “Islam and Nazi Germany’s War,” Muslims fought on both sides in World War II. But only Nazis and Islamists had a political-spiritual romance. Both groups hated Jews, Bolsheviks and liberal democracy. Both sought what Michel Foucault, praising the Iranian Revolution in 1979, would later call the spiritual-political “transfiguration of the world” by “combat.”

 

[snip]

By late 1941, Germany controlled large Muslim populations in southeastern Europe and North Africa. Nazi policy extended the grand schemes of imperial Germany toward madly modern ends. To aid the “liberation struggle of Islam,” the propaganda ministry told journalists to praise “the Islamic world as a cultural factor,” avoid criticism of Islam, and substitute “anti-Jewish” for “anti-Semitic.” In April 1942, Hitler became the first European leader to declare that Islam was “incapable of terrorism.” As usual, it is hard to tell if the Führer set the tone or merely amplified his people’s obsessions.

The above historical fact is important to know because it explains one of the most amazing Holocaust survival stories I’ve ever heard.  My learning the story came about in a peculiar way, too.  I was speaking with a friend about our memories.  His is and always has been excellent, but is failing ever so slightly with age.  Mine has always been idiosyncratic, in that I can remember anything that interests me, but have almost no success with brute force, rote memorization (explaining why I’ve never been able to master a language in a classroom).  This conversation about memory reminded my friend of the story behind his Jewish relatives’ survival in wartime Paris.

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The Bookworm Beat 1-27-15 — a potpourri of stuff

Woman writingI’ve been telling myself that the legal work I’ve been doing lately is good for my brain. It’s like fitness training. If only it didn’t take away from my blogging. Still, I do what I can and this time around I have a short and sweet Bookworm Beat:

Primo Levi on passive evil

One of the things we talk about a lot here is that only 10% of the world’s Muslims are active supporters of violent jihad. That’s a large number of people when you consider that there are around 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, but it does imply that the other 90% of Muslims are opposed to jihad. Of course, the reality is different. Although the numbers differ from nation to nation, it’s obvious that a good 40% of the world’s Muslims are all good with violent jihad, even though they don’t want to do it themselves — and probably don’t even want to know the facts when violent jihad goes into action. In that way, they can tell themselves and others with a straight face that their Islam is a religion of peace.

I thought of that little charade when I read about a letter Italian concentration camp survivor (and later suicide victim) Primo Levi wrote to a little girl who asked him two simple questions:

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