Have a morality drenched Christmas, my friends!

Mr. Bookworm and I, with great pleasure, watched the first season of Rome, an HBO show that begins shortly before Caesar crossed the Rubicon and ends . . . well, I won’t tell you. It’s a fabulous production — gorgeous to look at and, aside from a few historical inaccuracies aimed at punching up the story-line, extremely accurate historically. As such, it gave a window into what an incredibly cruel and violent people the Romans were. I mean, really frighteningly violent, with every powerful person his own little Marquis de Sade.

As we were nearing the end of this season’s production, Mr. Bookworm, who is a committed atheist, launched into an impressive, but somewhat ill-informed attack, on the Bible. He contends that the stories are terrible and that it’s just a big canard that there’s some sort of morality involved. It would have been a more impressive declamation if he’d known that the Hanukkah story isn’t in the Bible, and had been able to distinguish the Old from the New Testament.

This little riff would have vanished into the ether if we hadn’t immediately after watched the “Making of” video about Rome. Both the historical advisor and the producer made precisely the same point. Both noted that the Romans were incredibly religious, contantly praying and sacrificing (often violently or sexually) to a vast panoply of Gods. Then, both pointed out that the Roman religion was completely unrelated to morality. Finally, each added that cultural morality as we know it today — and with it a huge decrease in casual, day-to-day cruelty, came after the Judeo-Christian religion arrived. I forebore to say anything.

While I kept quiet with Mr. Bookworm, I do have something to say to all of you who celebrate Christmas this year. Have a wonderful holiday, and one made particularly wonderful by the knowledge that your religion — while it has had some fits and starts, and while some practioners have taken longer to back off from cultural cruelty than others — has been one of the great civilizing institutions in our world.

Merry Christmas!

(I’ll be blogging intermittently, if at all, over the next couple of weeks. However, DQ has promised to try to blog and all of you know that he does some of the most fascinating posts ever to grace this blog.)

Interesting things in the blogosphere

I don’t have the mental energy to be original this morning, but I would like to list some of the things that caught my eye.

As you know, I have a huge problem with identity politics, an insidious liberal habit that classifies people by the color of their skin, or their economics situation, or their sex or their sexual identity, rather than by what these same people believe or do. Now the Captain reports that Obama is being ignored by many African-Americans because he’s considered the wrong type of black.

The Washington Times details some more about Jimmy Carter’s financial dealings with the Arabs, including the fact that the infamous BCCI helped him out substantially in connection with a bad farm loan (but the article is careful to point out that no money went directly in Carter’s own pockets).

With the Flying Imams stunt being used as the vanguard in the attack against profiling airline passengers, both Walter Williams and Marc Sheppard explain why it would be lunacy for America to stop directing heightened attention to Muslims behaving peculiarly before and during flights. (Incidentally, I think random checks, and any other checks that can reasonably be carried out, should continue. It would be too easy to use visible Muslims as red herrings, only to have some invisible radical grandma carry explosives onto a plane.)

Joseph Morrison Skelly has a wonderful tribute to the Battle of the Bulge (fought 62 years ago this Christmas Holiday). It was an astounding scene of bravery and sacrifice by American troops, and it definitively turned the tide of war in the Allies’ favor. I’ve been to Bastogne, and I can tell you that even then, about 40 years after the battle, it was a grim, haunted place. I kept checking my shoes thinking that I’d find traces of old and hallowed blood on their soles. A few years ago, I was at the World War II Memorial in D.C., strictly tourist stuff, only to discover that my visit coincided with a reunion of many veterans of that very same battle. These once fearsome warriors were all old men now, many on walkers or in wheel chairs, many with oxygen tubes trailing behind them. I was so proud of them. Think of them and thank them this holiday season.

California growth is slowing down. That’s no surprise. Although the article claims the problem is the high cost of living, I’d also blame that fact that this is a State that makes it hell to run a business. When money leaves, jobs leave.

Jason Mattera reports on the Mickey Mouse courses that parents pay for today when they mortgage their homes and their futures to send their kids to college. I say “Mickey Mouse” because you’ll see if you check their catalogues that most colleges and universities still do offer core courses that actually teach stuff (or, not having attended the classes to verify this, claim they teach stuff). It’s the Mickey Mouse courses that have changed so dramatically. Mickey Mouse courses in my day were innocent enough: Shakespeare in Film, the Art of Children’s Books, Math for Dummies, that kind of stuff. When you read Mattera, you’ll discover a whole new world, most of which you won’t want your children to discover too.

Cold haze

My son started it with a mild, generic cold, which my daughter also caught. My husband then joined in with a medium cold, that left him pretty miserable. I’ve now been visited by a cold on steroids, which had me complete incapacitated for the last few hours. This is not what I was talking about when I jokingly envisaged an illness that would keep me bed-bound. I’m feeling a bit better now — as you can tell by the fact that I’m actually typing now — but I don’t know if I’ll work up any enthusiasm for blogging today.

What I will do, though, is move the fascinating Jimmy Carter string up, not because I have anything to add, but because the conversation that has developed there is so fascinating, I’d hate for it to get lost in time.

Jimmy Carter — you are a very bad man

MOVED UP TO THE TOP, NOT BECAUSE I HAVE ANYTHING TO ADD, BUT BECAUSE THE COMMENT SECTION HAS BECOME ONE OF THE MOST FASCINATING TO APPEAR ON MY BLOG, AND I DON’T WANT IT TO GET LOST AS I PUBLISH NEW POSTS.

If you’re a Seinfeld fan, you may recall the episode in which Baboo, an Indian restauranteur, having been deported because of Jerry’s carelessness, wags his finger at Jerry, and repeatedly says “He is a very bad man.” That phrase keeps popping into my brain every time I hear anything about Jimmy Carter or, worse, actually see him speak.

We know that his most recent book about the Middle East is filled with falsehoods and that he plagarized and distorted stolen materials for his book. Cinnamon Stillwell, writing at the San Francisco Chronicle, gives a long laundry list of his policy failures, missteps, stupid decisions, and profound moral errors. Name a modern dictatorship and he’s in bed with the leader. Name a failed peace initiative that empowered the people bent on death and destruction, and he’s at the root of it. I will forever hold him responsible for the situation we find ourselves in today vis a vis the Muslim world because, when the Iran Revolution took place in 1979, it was his groveling ineptitude that emboldened the revolutionaries, not only to take on their own government, but to begin looking at the United States as a reasonable and viable target for their World Caliphate goals.

All of the splenetic feelings that guide me when I think about Carter bubbled up ferociously when I finally got around to watching Monday’s Jay Leno, which had Carter as the first guest. Although World Net Daily has come under some legitmate attack for its more loony news stories, I can tell you that its reporting about Carter’s appearance on that show is absolutely accurate:

Without mentioning the onslaught of attacks by Palestinian terrorists, former President Jimmy Carter told a national audience watching the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” there is “horrible persecution” of Palestinians at the hands of Israelis, and he is urging a return to peace talks between the residents of the embattled region.

“In Palestinian territory, there is horrible persecution of the Palestinians who live on their own land,” Carter said.

“A minority of Israelis want to have the land instead of peace. The majority of Israelis for the last 30 years have always said [they] will exchange their own land in exchange for peace. But a minority disagrees and they have occupied the land, they have confiscated it, they have colonized it, and they forced Palestinians away from their homes, away from their pastures, away from their fields, cut down the olive trees and severely persecuted the Palestinians.”

The 82-year-old Carter was on Leno’s show last night to promote his new book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.”

Leno said to the president who held office more than 25 years ago, “But when Israel gives something back, it doesn’t seem like they get anything for it. It seems like it just moves some angry people closer to them.”

“No, that’s not true at all,” responded Carter. “Israel hasn’t really tried to give ‘Palestine’ back to the Palestinians. They did give up some of Gaza. And then they moved out, and the Palestinians captured one soldier and tried to swap [him] for 300 children

Maybe the Baker report was useful

I’m one of those who didn’t agree with the ISG’s conclusions, especially those that suggested making Israel the sacrificial animal in hopes of placating the ravening Islamic hordes. I’m wondering, though, whether the ISG didn’t end up having its uses. This is so because its recommendations opened up an abyss, such as an Iraq in free-fall when, as the ISG recommended, the American’s pull out. I therefore don’t think it’s a coincidence that the top Shiite cleric, Grand AyatollahAli al-Sistani, is giving up his demand for government for a Shiia controlled government and beginning to talk coalition:

Iraq

Reductio ad absurdum

Sometimes it’s interesting to take an idea to its logical conclusion. Regular readers may recall that I weighed in when Dennis Prager questioned whether it was right to remove the Bible from a Congressional swearing-in ceremony. I originally thought Mr. Prager had erred because he wasn’t thinking about the nature of oath-taking. Thanks to a very astute comment from JJ, though, I started really thinking about the Koran and the Constitution, and whether the two can exist simultaneously in the same political universe. Those thoughts resulted in this article at the American Thinker.

I’d like to emphasize here, as I did at the end of this article, that I have absolutely no reason to believe that Keith Ellison is anything but a staunch American. I disagree with his political positions, not because they are Koranically based and therefore antithetical to the Constitution, but because they are liberally Democratic based, and therefore antithetical to my conservative political viewpoints.

Just as Kennedy wasn’t commanded by Rome, I do not believe Ellison is commanded by Iran or any other Islamic theocracy. Nevertheless, I think it’s worth thinking about the implications of his willingness to place his holy book front and center when it comes to his Congressional position. Fairly pure logic, mostly untainted by a politician’s real world conduct and statements, indicates that there may be a Constitutional problem brewing in America’s future.

(Welcome, American Thinker readers.)

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Christmas music

At a Christmas concert, I heard a beautiful song that I’ve never heard before: Gesu Bambino, by Pietro Yon. If you go here, you can a thin, but decent midi version. Now imagine this same melody with dense layers of harmony from an 80 voice chorus, along with a glorious soprano solo voice. Just lovely. I can’t get it out of my head and, for once, that kind of musical perseveration doesn’t bother me.

Are we women worth defending?

You are probably already familiar with the story about the huge increase in rapes in Norway, with 2/3 of them committed by “immigrants with a non-western background.” (And I wonder who those non-western immigrants might be?) I didn’t even bother to comment on it originally, because LGF had it covered. I’m commenting now because of something Phibian said when he discussed this story, and it’s something that really needs further thought. After relaying the news, Phibian added:

There is hope, perhaps. From what I hear and watching the voting changes in Denmark and even Sweden, the head-in-the-sand attitude is slowly changing. They need to go faster though. A culture whose men will not come to the defense of their wives, sisters, and daughters is a culture that will not last. (Emphasis mine.)

What I wonder is whether Western women have been so abusive of their men, both by denigrating them and by marginalizing them, that men no longer feel either a need or a desire to protect them.

I’m the post-women’s lib generation. That is, I wasn’t one of the bra-burning, consciousness-raising crowd. I came of age after everyone had been assured that women are entirely equal and men are sexist pigs to have kept them in servitude for so long. I went to college at a time (true story) when a young man who had the grace to hold the door open for a young women, even one burdened with books, would find himself roundly scolded for treating a woman like a helpless being.

I along with my generation, read Susan Faludi’s Backlash : The Undeclared War Against American Women and Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth : How Images of Beauty are Used Against Women, both of which assured me that, despite their lip service to liberation, modern American men had as their real goal the subjugation of women by whatever means necessary. I grew to suspect and disrespect men.

What saved me were a few things. I respected my father, a deeply honorable man. I read Arlie Hochschild’s The Second Shift, which pointed out that the more men bought into women’s lib, the less likely that were to help their working wives, and I read Christina Hoff-Sommer’s Who Stole Feminism? : How Women Have Betrayed Women, which exposed the vast divide between equity feminists (those who want equal work for equal pay, and equal treatment under the law), and the more extreme feminists who view men as inferior beings out to enslave and destroy women. Lastly, I got to know more men, some of whom became dear friends, and it was obvious that they were not the enemy. However, not all women have made this journey, and the NOW website amply demonstrates that many women continue to view men as alien beings placed on earth to destroy women.

Men are not stupid (feminist myths notwithstanding). They know that, in Western civilization, women think little of them. Under those circumstances, why in the world would men who have absorbed this message feel obligated to put themselves on the line for these women? I know that any individual man will act for his own wife, his own sister, and his own daughter, but he feels no obligation to women at large, since women at large have made it clear that he is unnecessary except for his sperm capacity.

(By the way, I am a complete equity feminist, with an abiding belief in equal pay for equal work, equal opportunities, and equal treatment under the law. I do not believe men are out to get me. I do not believe that either sex is superior or inferior to the other. I do not believe men are conspiring to keep women barefoot, pregnant, in the kitchen, and out of the boardroom. I do believe men have problems with toilet seats and apologies, but we won’t go there.)

UPDATE: Something interesting to read in connection with my musings about the respect men and women have lost for each other.

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Something unnamed is coming, and the non-religious bird is getting fat

Little Bookworm joined with the school chorus last week to sing in its holiday concert. Interestingly, not a single song in the repertoire had anything to do with Christmas. There was the bland and generic ode to some (unnamed) holiday season, there were lugubrious songs about dark winter’s days and, for reasons unclear, there was a song blatantly endorsing Hannukah.

My suspicion about the latter isn’t that raging Jews put the kibosh on Christmas songs, while simultaneously demanding that their religious celebration be acknowledged. I think what happened was closer to the Sasha Cohen kerfuffle, where she blithely joined in celebrating Christmas, but the multi-culti anti-religious police were scared that any Christian flavor would penetrate the wall separating church from state. As it is, no one’s worried that nods to Judaism will bring about a Jewish religious state any time soon.

I think this is really sad. I adore Christmas carols. I never felt that my public school was endorsing Christianity when I happily caroled away to “Joy to the World.” Even at a young age, I recognized that, in Western culture, men and women often brought their greatest artistic genius to bear when it came to pronouncing their faith in God. I also doubt whether repeat exposure to “Christmas is Coming,” “Rudolph the Red-nose Reindeer,” or “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” is going to put anyone forcibly in mind of Christmas’ religious underpinnings.

As it is, if you’ve got a yen for Christmas music, KOIT radio in San Francisco is playing it non-stop through Christmas. The radio station also has a link at its website so that you can hear the music online.

CORRECTION: I erred. Little Bookworm’s concert included “Feliz Navidad” (a great song), which is probably acceptable because it’s in Spanish, and we know that non-white celebrations of Christmas are acceptable. (And if anyone can find for me a link to a recent story about Democrats being upset that a federal raid on illegal aliens took place on some feast of Mary that is celebrated as a big pre-Christmas holiday in Mexico, I’d appreciate it.)

UPDATE: Thanks to Mrs. Happy Housewife, I now have a link for my claim that a Mexican Christmas song is acceptable, even though a traditional American/European Christmas song is not. In writing about the Fed raids on illegal aliens, here’s the money quotation from a Coloradoan article:

Beyond the ineffective approach, the lack of compassion and humanity in a raid conducted in America’s heartland is appalling. Tuesday’s raid was conducted on Feast Day of Our Lady Guadalupe, a religious holiday that celebrates the beginning of the Christmas season for Mexican Catholics.

The rest of the article is noteworthy for it’s pathetic criminal viewpoint.

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Just thought you’d like to know

The Muslim Brotherhood dreams of bringing shari’a law to America. It’s occasionally useful to remember what that would mean for Americans on a daily basis:

Residents of a southern Somalia town who do not pray five times a day will be beheaded, an Islamic courts official said Wednesday, adding the edict will be implemented in three days.

Public places such as shops and tea houses in Bulo Burto, about 124 miles northeast of the capital, Mogadishu, should be closed during prayer time and no one should be on the streets, said Sheik Hussein Barre Rage, the chairman of the town’s Islamic court.

Those who do not follow this edict “will definitely be beheaded according to Islamic law,” Rage told The Associated Press by phone. “As Muslims, we should practice Islam fully, not in part, and that is what our religion enjoins us to do.”

You can read more about it here. My pity for the poor Somalians, most of whom, apparently, were moderate Muslims before this radical takeover, is boundless.

UPDATE: On a somewhat related topic, the Independent Women’s Forum cites to a Janet Levy article called “The Gym Jihad.” That article details all the accomodation demands Muslims are making at both privately owned and publicly owned facilities. You’ll recognize most of these stories. Using a quotation from Levy’s article, IWF draws the perfect conclusion from the subtle push, push, push going on here:

Instead of going on the defensive, the majority of Americans need to comprehend that legally there is no obligation to afford special religious privileges to Muslims and that they are perfectly free to organized their own private clubs to satisfy their religious needs. Moreover, in the post 9/11 era:

In a post 9-11 world, it is unrealistic to expect that loud proclamations of Islamic faithfulness mixed with condemnations of U.S. policy will not raise suspicion and cause alarm. The tragedy of 9-11 has forever changed the air travel experience and certain behaviors are already constrained in the interest of American security. Is vocal and extreme religious behavior exempt?

The growing chorus of Muslim accusations of discrimination and victimization must not be permitted to intimidate us into lowering our guard against terrorism and diluting measures designed to ensure the safety of us all, including Muslims. This resolve must be accompanied by a greater focus on the societal and behavioral standards that should unite us as Americans.

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Hope?

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad looks to have been thwarted from keeping his ultra-conservative allies in control of key offices despite efforts to “cook the books” in weekend elections, the State Department said. The elections for municipal councils and a powerful religious assembly saw Ahmadinejad loyalists suffer setbacks at the hands of more moderate candidates in a number of key races, including for seats on the Tehran city council. “It would seem that they are not the results that President Ahmadinejad would have hoped for,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said when asked to comment on the vote.”I think, despite the regime’s efforts to cook the books in terms of an outcome, they seem to have been thwarted in that regard,” he said.While noting the high voter turnout in Friday’s election, McCormack said there had been “some fundamental flaws” in the polls, “in which there were numerous candidates that were excluded from even running.”

“So the people didn’t have that choice to make,” he said.

Amazing that even when Ahmadinejad rigged the election, the Iranians still wouldn’t have him. Of course, someone more moderate than Ahmadinejad is still capable of being a scary madman by our standards, but I’ll still take hope where I can find it. Read more here.

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I hope it’s just a proofreading error

I’m coming to the conclusion that one of the kids’ teachers combines being somewhat ill-informed with being a really bad proofreader. I think the following sentence, coming from her Christmas email to parents, reflects the latter problem: “The holidays are surly here.” (Although I have to admit to being somewhat surly during the holidays myself!)

Can’t top this.

One of the best Hugh Hewitt/Mark Steyn moments I’ve heard, covering fascism, Diana Mosley, the Holocaust, Holocaust denial, the Cedar Revolution, the Israel/Hezbollah war, etc.

UPDATE:

Just a little bit more about Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter has been good to my blog, since a post I did about him sparked a fascinating, free-wheeling discussion about America, American politics, the Middle East, etc. I still don’t like the man, and I like him less after learning that he’s received money from the Arabs, both directly (money in his own pocket) and indirectly (money to his Carter Center). We’re not talking chump change here — we’re talking millions and millions of dollars from people who are anxious to see Carter’s views about the Middle East gain prominence in the world debate.

CORRECTION (sort of): The article to which I linked is clear that Jimmy Carter’s Center has taken tons and tons of money from major Arab funders. I read one paragraph in the article to mean that some of this money went into Carter’s own pockets:

High praise for Carter