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


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