The Bible’s humanity

This weekend, Mr. Bookworm and I finally got around to watching “Koran by Heart,” an HBO documentary about an annual Koran memorization contest held in Cairo during Ramadan.  The documentary followed three ten-year old children — a boy from Tajikistan, a girl from the Maldives, and a boy from Senegal.  All three children were manifestly bright, curious, and possibly possessed of photographic memories.  And all three were trapped in a system that makes memorizing the Koran in the original Arabic (and none of these three children spoke Arabic) the apex of education.  In other words, this was a sheer memory exercise, unaccompanied by understanding and analysis. Indeed, the boy from Tajikistan was functionally illiterate in both Arabic and Tajik.  This show, more than any other we’ve ever watched, got Mr. Bookworm thinking about the vast chasm between the Western and Islamic worlds.

Spending an hour and a half watching a show about the Koran, which included periodic translations from the text, got me thinking about the Bible.  Around the world, billions of Christians and Jews read the Bible.  It is a living text.  Although last updated two thousand years ago, with the New Testament, it is as vital today as has been at any time during its history.

I don’t believe the Bible’s continuing vitality is simply because people of faith teach it to their children, and have done so for thousands of years.  I believe its ongoing relevance and resonance come about because the Bible is an intensely humanist document.  I cannot think of another religious treatise that is so people-oriented.  God is certainly there, as the creator, covenantor, moralist, teacher, guide and judge, but the Bible is fundamentally a story of human kind:  its virtues, foibles, fears, frustrations, good and evil.  It remains valid today because, while cultures change, people don’t.  We recognize ourselves in the Bible.  Our times may dictate the morality and other lessons we take from the book, but we are all there, every one of us, in all our permutations.

In the same vein, Yiddish is an intensely human-oriented language.  While the Inuits may have a lot of words for snow, jungle dwellers a range of words for animal and plant life, and farmers an endless repertoire of weather and crop words, Yiddish has words about people.  Not blunt, broad words, but myriad delicate words that contemplate the nature of humanity and all shades of human behavior.

Only Yiddish has such words as schlemiel and schlemazel.  You may already know the difference between those words:  the schlemiel spills the soup; the schlemazel gets it in his lap.  Or chutzpah, which is defined by looking at the man who kills both his parents, and then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he’s an orphan.  And how about mensch, which sounds exactly like the German word for person but, in Yiddish, means so much more:  a Yiddish mensch is a truly decent human being.  He’s not just a sentient ape; he is the apex of what ordinary people can aspire to be in their daily lives.

I don’t have anywhere else to go with this post.  I just thought that both the Bible and Yiddish are unusual insofar as they are intensely aware of human nature.

 

Everything you always wanted to know about sex* . . . *that the media wasn’t going to ask *UPDATED*

I’ve got sex on my mind today.  It’s not because I’ve suddenly morphed into a 13 year old boy.  It’s because there are a lot of headlines today about sex, which also made me think about missing sex headlines and false sex headlines.

First, of course, the Herman Cain sex headlines:  Back in the 1990s, two women accused Herman Cain of sexual harassment when he was working at the National Restaurant Association, and the NRA subsequently settled the claims for five figure amounts.  I have several thoughts on this subject.  First, this story is not the same as the Anita Hill charges against Clarence Thomas.  Hill did not make her charges contemporaneously.  Instead, she emerged out of nowhere at just the right time for Democrats to conduct a high tech lynching against a high profile black conservative.  In this case, the charges were made at a time when Cain was just another executive.  The report is therefore more credible than Hill’s claims.

Peculiarly enough, though, at least from my lawyerly point of view, the fact that the charges date back to 1990 makes the charges less, rather than more, damning in my eyes.  Why?  Because the 1990s were a wonderful time for plaintiffs’ attorneys bringing sexual harassment charges.  Why?  Because the Ninth Circuit had just handed down a decision vastly expanding the definition of workplace sexual harassment.*  Suddenly, the claim made each lawsuit akin to shooting fish in a barrel.  Your female client didn’t get promoted?  Sexual harassment.  Your female client got fired?  Sexual harassment.  Your female client found the office “uncomfortable”?  Sexual harassment. Your female client was caught embezzling?  Sexual harassment.

Panicked executives (and their insurance companies) settled left and right.  Some of the claims involved genuine sexual harassers, but these legitimate claims were lost in the flurry of easy-money lawsuits.  Executives, their corporations and their insurance companies were simply loath to start rolling in the litigation mud.  The lawsuits (and I defended a few) were absolutely awful.  The executives were accused of heinous misdeeds, their every action was scrutinized, the corporation had to bear the burden of having every employee and every piece of paper in the corporation scrutinized, and the suits often morphed into class actions, which invariably primarily benefit the attorneys.  Valid claims (and I know there were valid claims) got lost in a sea of what amounted to legal blackmail.  So did Cain harass two employees?  Who knows.  The accusations are meaningless, as are the settlements.

The charges against Herman Cain got me thinking about the sex claims the major media is ignoring.  That would be the assaults that seem to be part and parcel of the Occupy movement.  So far, only the New York Post seems to be paying attention, both to the stories and to the cover-up.  Here’s just one example from a rash of similar stories:

A sex fiend barged into a woman’s tent and sexually assaulted her at around 6 a.m., said protesters, who chased him from the park.

“Pervert! Pervert! Get the f–k out!” said vigilante Occupiers, who never bothered to call the cops.

“They were shining flashlights in his face and yelling at him to leave,” said a woman who called herself Leslie, but refused to give her real name.

She said that weeks earlier another woman was raped.

“We don’t tell anyone,” she said. “We handle it internally. I said too much already.”

You would think that a story that’s all about sex would be front page, top of the news stuff, but it’s not.  The media knows its place, and its place does not include bad-mouthing the movement its president fomented.

My mentioning the president here isn’t a random, drive-by attack against Obama.  I was thinking of another series of alleged sexual attacks that took place when another president was in office.  As you may recall, when Hurricane Katrina struck, we were told that, within a mere three days of the disaster, New Orleans’ citizens weren’t just raping and murdering each other, they were eating each other too.  The MSM couldn’t get enough of reports about sexual assaults on Bush’s watch.  (Never mind that the City was officially under the aegis of Democrat Mayor Ray Nagin).  As far as I know, very few of those claims were true, and the cannibalism one was definitely a canard.

Sex sells, but as far as the media is concerned, it’s a product they want to market only when it can blacken Republican eyes.

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*I’m pulling a complete blank right now on the standard the Ninth Circuit created, but when/if I remember, I’ll update the post to add that information.

UPDATE:  Rick, at Brutally Honest, remembers another sexual harassment charge that the media conveniently ignored.

UPDATE IIIndigo Red figured it out:

Would the case you are blanking on, Book, be Ellison v. Brady (924 F.2d 872 (9th Cir. 1991) in which the 9th Circuit decided that it doesn’t matter if the alleged harasser intended to be harassing or complimentary rejecting the “reasonable person’ standard used by the trial court instead opting for a “reasonable woman” argument in which the alleged victim perceived the conduct severe and pervasive enough to change the work environment so as to create an offensive environment from which sexual harassment can be found?

Clarence Cain

Oh, it finally happened!

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1011/67194.html

The Liberal/Left Media has found two or more women willing to claim that Herman Cain was guilty of “sexually suggestive” language, thereby graduating the Liberal/Left’s “step n’ fetchit” caricaturization of Herman Cain to that of the predatory black male. Read that again, “sexually suggestive language”. What is that supposed to mean? Did these women overhear Cain discussing the relative merits of pizza pepperonis?

My first reaction is that, if true, such suggestive language should only endear a candidate to the Democrats. Witness the behaviors of Kennedy(s), LBJ, Clinton, Edwards, Gore, Jesse Jackson and company. Had Cain actually pawed women, the Democrats would claim him to be one of their own.

My second reaction is as follows: either come up with a semen-stained dress or go pound sand, hypocrites!

My third reaction  to ask why it is that people, especially black people, can’t see through the profound racism that courses through Democrat veins?

This is pretty much Clarence Thomas redux. The difference, this time, is that we’ve already seen the playbook.

Slouching into slavery

What the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protestors don’t realize (yet) is that they have been suckered into becoming the agents of their own enslavement.

Orwell had it so right in defining the Left because he was a man of the Left. The term “Orwellian” now refers to the Left’s use of terms to mean the direct opposite of the intention of an idea or act (“war is peace”, for example). Orwell also noted the need for the State to invent enemies as a means of deflecting attention away from its own actions. It’s all about deflection away from true agendas.

Let me explain. Granted that the OWS movement is defined by many grievances, one underlying theme of  the OWS protests is the onerous debt assumed by students. I have sympathy for this because, as many commentators have already pointed out, these students were sold a bill of goods. The idea was that, whether qualified or motivated or not, kids could simply participate in the university experience, supported with “generous” (i.e., taxpayer-funded) government aid, and exit with a paper degree and guaranteed, high-paying job bereft of drudgery. This is the siren song that led to the inevitable crash upon the rocks of debt slavery.

Universities, those bastions of entitlement, have made out like bandits, taking the students money in exchange for worthless promises and worthless degrees. The government financed this process using “free” taxpayers’ monies and, in the end, developed a class of dependents that will spend the rest of their lives working their way out of indentured servitude at the behest their government masters (the Golden Rule is those that own the gold, rule!). For, as these students are slowly realizing, government debt and dependency is forever…there is no escaping their obligations.

It used to be that students could tap loans from private lending institutions that assumed the risk of a student borrower’s success or failure. If the student went bankrupt, the bank suffered. That is how capitalism and free markets should work. Not so with Liberal government. When the Obama administration took over these lending services, it took away failure as an option. Today, neither students nor their parents can escape their student debt obligations and the total student debt outstanding has been estimated to approach $1.0 trillion.

Many of these OWS students are now answerable to their government masters for the foreseeable future and during their most formative years… a period when they should be free to work toward satisfying careers, saving to purchase their own homes, preparing to raise families and, eventually, achieving financial independence. Instead, as long as the government holds their debt, it can now dictate how these students will lead their lives in service to their government’s regime goals (as in, “we will forgive x-amount of your debt if you “agree” to work in only certain prescribed professions or government-approved public works programs under certain given conditions dictated by us, your master) Or, let’s try the Chicago Way: “as long as we hold your debt, you will only believe certain things, work for certain causes, and vote in certain ways” . Their indentured servitude has taken away their freedom to think, to act and to build their own futures. Even more sadly, for many of these students, their expensive college educations amounted to little more than indoctrination whereby to accept these circumstances as a good thing: witness the large number whose goal in life is simply to work for “non-profits”.

The especially egregious aspect of this is that it is poorer students that have so been hooked into government dependency. But then, that has pretty much been par for the course for Liberal government, hasn’t it? Government did this before, with poor blacks and the War on Poverty. Government programs enslave the poor through indentured dependency.  Rich or talented kids don’t have to worry about this: they have parents, scholarships or trust funds to ensure that they never become indentured government debt pawns. The especially pathetic part of these events is that these indebted students and graduates have been led to believe, through Orwellian deflection, that the agents of their servitude are banks, conservatism, political and economic liberty, and capitalism – the very agents that could yet free them – rather than the government and academia that shackled them.

I suspect that, deep down in their hearts, many of the OWS protestors are slowly coming to realize their predicament. They’ve been had. Eventually, I expect, they will come to learn the truth about their servitude. I hope that they will still have the strength to resist.

I think that it is safe to say that slavery, not democracy, has been a defining condition for the great majority of human history. This may not be a point stressed in the Orwellian halls of academia that groomed this new government slave class at these students’ own expense, but it is a historical truism, none the less. It would truly be sad if what we are observing at the various OWS rallies around the country and world is simply an age-old historical evil reasserting itself in modern drag. What we are now seeing as the product of the college experience is the emergence of two classes: a wealthy, highly educated ruling class and a subservient, dependent, servant class that got suckered into paying the Liberal/Left ruling class to deprive it of intellectual and economic choices under the Orwellian guise of “freedom”. The Liberal/Left has done a bang-up job of severely crippling a generation of our children. I would be hard-pressed to conceive of  a more gross corruption of the American ideal.

I hope that I am wrong. What do you think?

 

RIP, American troops.

How terrible to wake up this morning and learn that 13 Americans died in Afghanistan, following a suicide attack.  In the history of wars through time, both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars will go down as remarkably bloodless wars.  Considering that we’ve been fighting for eight years, American losses have been numerically small.

BUT, we are a country that, despite the Left’s best efforts, deeply values individual lives.  We are the opposite of Stalin (“one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic”).  No matter how many or how few of our troops die, each death is a tragedy.  Those who died willingly fought to defend our freedoms and we value each of them and mourn their passing.

My deepest condolences to the troops’ families and friends.

If I were the mayor, I wouldn’t move the Occupy protesters one inch

The City of Oakland suffered a black eye when its attempt to rout the Occupy Oakland not only failed to move the protest, it managed to create the first martyr, an antisemitic ex-Marine who hates the Marines with an abiding passion.  I’m sorry that Oakland made the effort.  If I were in charge, I would let the Occupy people stay as long as possible.  The benefits of their continued presence in any given City are twofold.

First, in one of those great ironies, the occupiers are learning that their principles work well in theory, but fail completely in fact.  My personal favorite story in this genre involves the food situation at OWS:

The Occupy Wall Street volunteer kitchen staff launched a “counter” revolution yesterday — because they’re angry about working 18-hour days to provide food for “professional homeless” people and ex-cons masquerading as protesters.

Two of my favorite writers commented on the lessons that those youngsters enthralled with the Leftist world of unicorns and fairies are learning from this little run-in with reality.  First, James Taranto:

In truth, the Obamavillians are learning why Obama is wrong–why socialism doesn’t work. A society that makes a virtue of dependency ultimately encourages freeloading and grifting. The instinct to prevent it is a healthy one. A lot has been written about the similarities and differences between Obamaville and the Tea Party, and here is one: Whereas the latter arose out of the instinct to reward self-reliance and discourage dependency, the former is having it awakened by an encounter with the real world.

Ace has his own take on the lessons the OWS crowd is learning.

Lessons of social evolution, part 8: Sharing of resources only works within a small group with some natural connection (such as familial bond) or other emotional/personal fondness for each other. Sharing of resources generally only works for a brief period of time — the natural resentment towards Takers can only be briefly suppressed — and usually during special occasions (such as communal feasts).

Being expected to share with individuals outside of one’s kin group quickly produces resentment, and soon after, a codification of the principle of private property, which is, of course, the right to exclude others from the use of one’s property as one deems fit.

Or, to put both more simply the conclusions that Taranto and Ace draw:  a conservative is a liberal who is mugged by reality or, in this case, has to share food with grifters.  The longer the encampments exist, the more the denizens will see that their Socialist dream is just that — a dream.

The encampment’s continued existence might also help make non-resident sympathizers realize that these protesters aren’t romantic heroes.  If you want to protest in America, you use the ballot box.  The protests are for show, not for real political effect.  As it is, having people defecate on doorsteps seems to be making OWS’s neighbors — all of whom claim to support OWS — a bit hostile to the movement.

The growing and instinctive revulsion against the movement probably holds true for the San Franciscans, most of whom are ordinary working stiffs, who have to walk by overflowing PortaPotties near the Embarcadero.  It turns out that the protesters were able to rouse themselves sufficiently to order PortaPotties, but hadn’t figured out that they needed to be emptied. I’m sure that the random piles of vomit, feces, and used tampons surrounding the protest area aren’t so exciting either.

As for the public health issues,, it’s important to remember that the people at these protest sites are there voluntarily.  If the filth, vermin and discomfort become too much, they can leave.  This is true even if infectious diseases start spreading within the confines of these Obamavilles.  Unlike concentration camp inmates, or the people trapped by war in refugee camps, nothing stops these residents from moving on.

Filth and potential disease risks notwithstanding, I have too admit that I don’t feel that bad (at least not yet) for the nearby residents, because they’ve embraced social and financial policies that provided the perfect breeding ground for these anarchist protests.  Chicago?  San Francisco?  New York?  All relentlessly blue politically.  As I noted above, even the Zuccotti Park homeowners have, so far, been paying lip service to the protesters’ virtues.  Now, these seem voters/taxpayers/tuition payers are getting to see the real world effect of their ideology.  Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap, right?

If you think I’m overstating the effects of revulsion and disenchantment on any but the truest of true believers, think about the effect a visit to Haight Ashbury during the summer of love had on George Harrison.  Remember that the Beatles, with the best will in the world, supported and advanced the whole hippie movement, which they thought was a step in the ultimate fulfillment of human kind.  The Beatles were therefore very excited about visiting Haight, which they thought would be the apex of the hippie movement, filled with peace, love and harmony.  What Harrison saw, instead, were “bums.”  There wasn’t any flower power.  There were just pathetic addicts wallowing in filth:

I went there expecting it to be a brilliant place, with groovy gypsy people making works of art and paintings and carvings in little workshops. But it was full of horrible spotty drop-out kids on drugs, and it turned me right off the whole scene. I could only describe it as being like the Bowery: a lot of bums and drop-outs; many of them very young kids who’d dropped acid and come from all over America to this mecca of LSD.

[snip]

It certainly showed me what was really happening in the drug culture. It wasn’t what I’d thought – spiritual awakenings and being artistic – it was like alcoholism, like any addiction. The kids at Haight-Ashbury had left school and dossed out there, and instead of drinking alcohol they were on all kinds of drugs.

Harrison gave up LSD after seeing the Haight:

That was the turning-point for me – that’s when I went right off the whole drug cult and stopped taking the dreaded lysergic acid. I had some in a little bottle (it was liquid). I put it under a microscope, and it looked like bits of old rope. I thought that I couldn’t put that into my brain any more.

I, who grew up fairly near the Haight, never took drugs for precisely the same reason.  These people weren’t romantic, they were disgusting.

Perhaps many of today’s play-acting radicals will give up Socialism after spending some time in their Occupy [pick a city] socialist paradise. After all, if news reports are true, these People’s Parks aren’t just figuratively mugging liberals with reality, they’re really mugging them, and raping them too* (not to mention the masturbation that keeps people warm on a cold morning).  So let’s keep these Occupies going as long as we can.  They’re the liberal petri dish we’ve been waiting for.

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*Don’t give up on that link, which may well return a denial of service or some other dead page.  Because it is a pithy, easy-to-read summation of the ugly side of OWS, it’s been under constant attack from liberal hackers.  If you find yourself completely unable to get through, go to Gateway Pundit, which has been consistently document the complete societal breakdown in the Obamavilles.

Is Newt the tortoise in this race?

Every time Newt Gingrich opens his mouth, something intelligent pops out.  I’m beginning to wonder if he’s the tortoise in this race.  Bachmann and Perry have been self-immolating.  Cain is charming, dynamic and ill-informed.  Romney will do anything to win and he has the RomneyCare albatross around his neck.  And then there’s Newt:

(Go here, if the embed doesn’t work.)

Obama’s love song

Barack Obama has been on the national political scene for four years now, but it was only today that I suddenly realized that there’s a song out there that pretty much embodies Obama’s greatest love story:

And if that clip isn’t showing, just go here.