The Bookworm Beat — August 25, 2014, look at last week (and Open Thread)

Woman writingI’ve had several articles saved on my browser since last week. All are still pertinent, and I’ve promised myself not to look at any new articles until I’ve shared these older ones first.

The enemy will televise the next war

James Taranto points out that, this time around when it comes to Iraq, no one is protesting the fact that Obama, slowly and reluctantly, is sending the military back. Anyone who’s been paying attention since 2009 would say that this is because Democrats only protest when Republican presidents go to war. That’s the easy answer, says Taranto. The reality is that even the hard-core Left, a faction that protests all wars by anyone, has been silent too. Taranto notes, riffing off a Peggy Noonan post, that even the usual suspects (such as ANSWER, the communist organization) are silent. He thinks that Ferguson is distracting them.

I think that there’s more going on than that, and this “more” is something that James Lewis nails. After pointing out how carefully the Leftist media has edited war coverage in the last many decades — showing American troops as both aggressors and victims, but showing communist or Islamist enemies only as victims, Lewis notes that, this time, the enemy has outed itself as an unusually malevolent aggressor:

The criminal monsters of ISIS like to show their killings on a social network called Diaspora, which is less controllable than Facebook or Twitter. The result is what critics call “war porn” – but it means that after six decades of monopoly control of the media by the left (and by Saudi and Qatari money), we are seeing the true horrors of the worst ideological murderers in the world.

Precisely. For the first time since World War II, Americans are allowed to understand that a blood-thirsty enemy is aiming its sights on us, and they are able to understand this fact because that same enemy proudly uses open-access media to show both its enmity to America and its blood-thirstiness. It’s hard, in light of ISIS’s own pride in its slaughters, for the Left to argue that any American engagement comes about because of “American aggression,” “American imperialism,” or a “war for oil.”

Self-defense and Jews

One of the interesting things about my dojo is the number of Jewish kids and adults there. We’re by no means a majority, but we’re represented in numbers greater than our small percentage of the American population.

With me as the only exception, all the Jewish families represented there are solid Progressives. Still, I think there must be some atavistic feeling amongst them that Jews need to learn self-defense.

With the rising tide of anti-Semitic attacks throughout the world, many of which aren’t bombs or knives, but are, instead, just one-on-one bullying attacks on individuals (Jewish) deemed too small and weak to help themselves, self-defense is the best answer. Jews should be armed, and Jews should know how to use close quarters martial arts.

I find support for my belief in Rabbi Aryeh Spiro’s contention that self-defense is a religious obligation:

We fight because self-defense is a mandate from the Bible — the Torah, called by many the Old Testament. We fight to defend life. Because life is precious, the ultimate, we must defend it. The very definition of self-defense is permission to kill the one who is coming toward you to kill you. Self-defense is not simply our right to pray or support with words, but do whatever is needed to stay alive and protect our families.

Those pacifists who are willing to personally die and would rather be butchered so as not to kill their butchers are free to so choose. But no one is allowed to demand or suggest that someone else allow himself to be killed so as to spare the life of the one presently doing murder.

A war to defend and stop those coming to kill you is a moral war. It is called a Just War. And we defend not only ourselves, we defend others. The Bible, the Torah that is, says, “Do not stand idly by while the blood our brother is being spilled”. We also have permission to kill those coming to rape a woman. The Bible, Old Testament, tells us so in Exodus. It is our obligation.

This is always a good time to remind everyone that the Biblical commandment is not “Thou shalt not kill” but is, instead, “Thou shalt not murder.” Murder is a deliberate peacetime act intended to terminate someone’s life for no other reason than the fact that it confers a benefit on the killer, whether material or emotional. Self-defense is a front-line weapon against murder. To the extent murder is prohibited, self-defense must be allowed.

The lack of shame isn’t just a black problem

Yesterday, I wrote that one of the most peculiar things to me about American blacks is that they so wholeheartedly embrace and advocate for sleazy, two-bit gangsters, such as Trayvon Martin or, it seems, Michael Brown. Blackness washes out all sins. There is no sense anymore of being an honorable community. Once you classify yourself as a victim, no one, including your fellow victims, should be allowed to demand of you any standards of morality or decency.

It turns out that this lack of shame isn’t limited just to American blacks. Tom Wilson points out that ordinary Brits seem singularly unimpressed that their determinedly multicultural, politically correct society keeps turning out Islamist mass murderers who kill both at home and, in increasing numbers, abroad:

Observers have warned that the British fighters for the Islamic State are among the most vicious and brutal, and yet there is no sense of shame or culpability gnawing away at the British soul, despite the havoc and terror that British jihadists are causing in Iraq and Syria. The news reporting is procedural, the politicians sound tired, apathy permeates the conversation every time the subject is raised. The only time that any flicker of alarm or interest can be detected is when it is pointed out that these people, hardened by battle and radical Islam, might return to Britain to continue their fight from the streets of British cities.

Read more here. (It may be behind a pay wall, but a Commentary subscription is relatively cheap and definitely worth the price.)

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Finally figuring Obama out

Do you know who is responsible for the shrillest, most nasty anti-Obama post I’ve seen in I don’t know how long? Maureen Dowd. She is clearly a woman whose god betrayed her and she is royally angry. She’s a good writer too when she’s that mad:

FORE! Score? And seven trillion rounds ago, our forecaddies brought forth on this continent a new playground, conceived by Robert Trent Jones, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal when it comes to spending as much time on the links as possible — even when it seems totally inappropriate, like moments after making a solemn statement condemning the grisly murder of a 40-year-old American journalist beheaded by ISIL.

Dowd is not alone. Over at The New Republic, another true believer can be seen weeping over his keyboard. I mean, it’s pretty clear that a god has failed when you read this opening paragraph:

Why has Barack Obama—one of the most eloquent and thoughtful of recent presidents—become such a terrible politician? Midway through his sixth year in office, his ineptitude is pretty clear.

Yikes! That’s gotta hurt, or at least it would hurt if Obama ever left his bubble, one that Ed Lasky credibly argues sees him deliberately insulate himself from the world.

In Obamaland, there is no such thing as friendly, constructive criticism. If it comes from conservatives, they’re haters and can be ignored. If it comes from the base, they’ve become haters and can be ignored.

As I love to say, being a narcissist means never having to say you’re sorry. The world is composed of supporters and enemies, and anyone who isn’t actively, at this very minute, supporting you, is an enemy, to be disregarded or destroyed (or, preferably, both).

The first president from the TV generation

Jonah Goldberg thinks part of Obama’s problem could be that he’s the first TV generation president. He grew up watching TV and, indeed, likes to boast about the time he spends watching the hip, edgy shows that get such good press in Democrat House organs such as The New York Times or The New Yorker:

Does the president think the world is a TV show?

One of the things you learn watching television as a kid is that the hero wins. No matter how dire things look, the star is going to be okay. MacGyver always defuses the bomb with some saltwater taffy before the timer reaches zero. There was no way Fonzie was going to mess up his water-ski jump and get devoured by sharks.

There’s certainly a fantasist element in every malignant narcissist, since he is always his own superhero, constantly under attack from mere mortals. With this core outlook, TV Land’s paradigm — “the hero always wins” — would certainly mesh perfect with Obama’s character.

Big Shocker (NOT): TSA lies about flying illegals

The TSA was caught in a lie, and it was caught in a lie about very ugly subject: Contrary to earlier denials, the TSA is allowing illegal aliens to fly notwithstanding (a) their illegality and (b) their lack of ID.

Think about that for a moment: Even as you’re standing in endless lines, repeatedly showing your identification, struggling to get your shoes on and off, getting x-rayed, patted down, or strip searched, someone who crossed the border last week gets to show a letter and fly.

I’m sure these illegals are also getting their shoes searched, getting x-rayed, etc., but they’re still allowed to fly — God dammit! That’s just wrong. If the point of all the inconveniences forced upon us is safety, there’s nothing less safe than allowing someone whose first act upon entering America was to break the law, and who could easily be a terrorist or an Ebola carrier, to walk on the plane just by waving a letter.

The politics of doctors

In my neck of the woods, doctors are Democrats. This has always made perfect sense to me. Young doctors are educated to believe that they know what’s best for everybody and should call the shots.  (And certainly, you need a certain amount of arrogance to mess with people’s bodies.)  This makes doctors a natural Democrat constituency.

According to the Daily Signal, though, my views may thankfully be skewed. Of the 20 doctors in Congress, 16 are Republicans. Moreover, with Obamacare, even the most arrogant of modern young doctors are beginning to realize that, while they don’t mind controlling other people, they’re less than thrilled when the government comes in and tries to control them. Here’s hoping that Obamacare causes more doctors to wise up.

Reporters lie for Hamas

A veteran reporter for reliably Leftist outlets (AP, NPR, NBC, CBS) has written an article starkly stating what we Israel supporters have long known to be true: In addition to bias, laziness, and access issues, the main problem with the reliability of news coming out of Gaza is the fact that Hamas intimidated reporters into lying:

typical news report from Gaza a few days ago described the destruction, interviewed Gaza civilians who related in heartbreaking detail the deaths of their relatives and loss of their belongings, and listed the hardships and travail the people are facing because of the Israeli military operation. Halfway through the long story was a single paragraph that said that Israel claims Hamas fires rockets from civilian areas. This is how journalists protect themselves from charges that they didn’t tell “the other side.”

But in fact, they didn’t. They didn’t report from Gaza about where the Hamas rocket launchers were, where the ammunition is stored, where the openings of the tunnels are—if they mention the tunnels at all, which in this case, they didn’t.


sides the budgetary limitations, news organizations often hesitate to send reporters into Gaza at all because of the constant danger, and not from Israeli airstrikes. In 2007, BBC reporter Alan Johnston was kidnapped by Palestinian militants and held for more than three months. Many other foreign journalists were kidnapped there and held for a day or two around that time. There have been no kidnappings recently, but the message was clear—foreigners are fair game. The message was heard and understood. For lack of an alternative, news organizations began to rely more and more on local stringers, giving the regime considerable leverage through intimidation. It’s expected that news organizations will deny all this—it’s part of the dance.

On many occasions, frightened stringers have pleaded to have their bylines taken off stories. Some have been “evacuated” from Gaza for a time for their own safety, after an article critical of the regime was published or broadcast. Families have been spirited out for a while.

Read the rest here. The only problem with the article is that it appears in The Tower, which is a great publication, but one that lacks the reach of outlets such as HuffPo. We can all help, though, by using social media to give this article the widest reach possible.

Arabs and the conquest problem

One of my conservative(ish) Facebook friends came out this weekend with a post parroting The New York Times to the effect that the problem in the Middle East is that Israel will not cooperate with the two-state solution so as to give the Palestinians their homeland. It took time, but I shut down that thread by walking everyone through a few facts: Palestinian rejection of the two-state solution, the morality of self defense, Hamas’s founding mandate to kill all Jews, the fact that Palestinians already have their state because Jordan was given to the Palestinians in 1924, and, lastly, the fact that Palestinians have a minimal historic tie to the land.

That last point was reinforced for me by Joshua Gerlenter’s reminder that, to the extent Islam spread by conquest, it’s displaced indigenous people all over Africa, Europe, and Asia for thousands of years.

Europe’s gradual decline into anti-Semitic appeasement

Jeffrey Goldberg is a Progressive who, when his politics aren’t directly involved, often gets things right. A case in point is a recent Bloomberg column he authored accusing Europe of a passive, indecent surrender to the forces of evil roaming European streets. He’s not calling out the active anti-Semites; he’s calling out Europe’s increasingly large cadre of go-along-to-get along people, those who just hope that the Islamists among them will leave them alone.

Goldberg’s starting point is an incident at a Sainsbury’s super market in England. Anti-Israel protesters promised to invade the store, so local management instantly stripped the shelves of all kosher foods (most of which didn’t come from Israel). Although Sainsbury’s corporate management returned the products to the shelf and apologized, Goldberg understands that something very important happened at that local store (emphasis mine):

he Sainsbury’s incident is disturbing not so much for what it says about the nature of European anti-Israelism, but for what it says about the broader response within Europe to forces of intolerance and hatred. Employees of the Sainsbury’s branch in central London seemed to have understood, based on an accurate reading of recent events, that anti-Israel activists posed a threat to their store, and perhaps to their own physical well-being. And so the manager made a decision to surrender to the mob and engage in what could only be called an act of self-preservational, but objectively anti-Semitic, preemption.

Cowering of this sort is a sign that a country is losing the ability to stand for the values it professes to maintain. In the U.K., it is also a sign that a society hasn’t fully grappled with the radical intolerance exhibited by some of its citizens.

It will be a great day when Goldberg and other fundamentally decent people like him understand that the Leftism they espouse — with its moral relativism, multiculturalism, and hatred for white, Anglo-Saxon culture — is what destroyed England’s (and is destroying America’s) “ability to stand for the values it professes to maintain.”

Hollywood’s heavy hitters support Israel

Some really big names in Hollywood have signed a letter supporting Israel and castigating Hamas. All I can say is good for them!! The letter includes the normal mush-mouthed demand for peace, but it has the courage to target Hamas’s stated raison d’etre: killing Jews.

ALS, ice buckets, and coffee — social coercion for other people’s charities

You’ve no doubt heard by now about the ice bucket challenge, which has successfully raised awareness of ALS. Or, more accurately, it’s raised tens of millions for an ALS charity. It’s unclear how many people are actually more educated now about that devastating disease.

If you haven’t heard, the ice bucket challenge goes this way: You dump a bucket of ice on your head for the charity, donate money to the ALS charity ($100 is the recommended amount), and assign three friends who must do the same. (It started out that you told the friends “Donate or suffer the ice bucket,” but it’s morphed into people video taping themselves being iced and donating money.)

I’m a curmudgeon. ALS is a laudatory cause, but it’s not my cause. I tend to donate to military organizations and pro-Israel organizations. As I see it, it’s my money, and I get to spend it as I will. I’ve received two ice bucket challenges to date and have ignored both. I’m not the only one with this curmudgeonly streak:

I don't always donate to charity

Because of the subtle social bullying behind the ice bucket challenge, I was fascinated by a story out of Florida. For 10 hours, in St. Petersburg, Florida, people were “paying it forward,” meaning that they were paying for the order of the person behind them in line. One man eventually put a stop to it, and he did it deliberately for a reason I found compelling (emphasis mine):

Peter Schorsch, a blogger, drove to the Starbucks drive-thru in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Thursday after hearing about the “pay-it-forward’ phenomenon there that ended with customer No. 458.

After he ordered two Venti Mocha Frappuccinos, the barista told him his first drink had been paid for by the previous customer and asked if he would like to pay for the next customer.

“I told him no,” Schorsch, of St. Petersburg, told ABC News. “When the barista asks you to pay it forward, it is no longer spontaneous.”


“I just don’t want to be forced into doing something,” said Schorsch, who is also a part-time political consultant. “This is turning into a social phenomenon and I had to put an end to it.”

When baristas ask customers to pay for the next customer, some patrons simply oblige out of guilt, not generosity, he said.


“It just seems like a ‘First World’ problem to me. Middle-class people sitting in their cars at a drive-thru, sipping a $5 drink and worrying about someone breaking the ranks,” Schorsch said.

“There is a little humor being a contrarian, but I think if you really want to help, find someone that obviously needs help, like the homeless,” Schorsch said.

“Also, I got a $6 Venti Frappuccino. Someone might just get a $2 coffee,” Schorsch said. “This is unfair to that person who paid for me.”


A Marine’s kick-ass message to ISIS

It’s “only” one former Marine, but it’s still heartening to know that at least one segment of American society still has a can-do, won’t-back-down, love-my-country, I-support-freedom attitude.

(The “only” in front of “one Marine” comes about because of that wonderful line JKB quoted from an old movie:

I was just watching an old movie, Rendezvous, with William Powell and Rosalind Russell. It’s a WWI spy movie with Ms. Russell’s character the persistent suitor of Powell’s character running down a spy ring. She follows him into a hotel where the spy ring operates. Bullying her way past the front desk she reveals her uncle is the Asst. Sec of War and threatens: “I’ll have him send the Army and Navy. And a Marine, if he’s needed.”

An unusually powerful Michael Ramirez cartoon

This cartoon is on point and shattering even by Michael Ramirez’s own high standards.
The threat

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  • raymondjelli

    The Left is quiet about ISIL, ISIS, CLEARISIL…whatever they are this week because unlike the Palis these guys aren’t good eurosupremacists. The Palis specifically accepted Germans as the master race when they allied with them in WW II. After that they were good little Marxists and Communists for the Soviet Union. Hamas relies heavily on Leftist community organizers to make progress in the media, BDS, academia, etc.

    This group seems to be ready to lay down the gauntlet. They are openly espousing Islamic supremacy with very little need for a Leftist ground game. This was almost inevitable. The weakness of Islamicists has been there reliance on everything leftist for a boost. They knew it was an embarrassment to their “pure” beliefs. They knew ultimately they were playing the Left’s game. .

    The lull is simply this. The Left isn’t going to abandon Islamism. They are waiting for a payoff in some form. It’ll probably come from our own governments pretending they want the Left to act as a “moderating” factor. Just follow the money.

  • lee

    Arabs and the conquest problem

    I recently shared on a group on Facebook, “the Middle East in 40 Maps.” It was interesting and informative, and very PC. (From Vox–what else can you expect?) And the one of the “ethnic groups” of the middle east I found, uh, problematic. It admitted that the Christians of Iraq are not Arabs, but it swept Christians of Israel, Syria, Lebanon, under the “Arab” rubric. Admittedly, unlike the Christians in Iraq, who are adamant that they are NOT Arabs, the Christians of the Levant don’t distinguish themselves that way, plus, they speak Arabic. But they are a conquered people, conquered by Arabs who forced their language on them, although they were able to maintain their religion.

    • Ymarsakar

      Both the Left and the Arabs are conquerors under a religion of death. They are very similar, even though people will deny that by pointing to superficial differences.

    • Libby

      I applaud the ALS organization for coming up with such as catchy fundraiser for a less well-known disease, but in general, there are few phrases that I despise more than “raise awareness.” In most cases, this is a way to say that you’re doing something about cause X without actually doing anything tangible. Well, the organization is likely spending donation money for the staff, PR materials, etc. used to raise awareness, but that’s certainly not doing anything to solve/fix the cause.

      This is why I hate all of that pink ribbon/pink product nonsense to “raise awareness” about breast cancer. I am aware of it – it has struck several loved ones – so we donate to an organization that funds research for a cure. The NFL putting on pink armbands or my purchasing Sun Chips emblazoned with a pink ribbon does not save anyone’s life, these are just a empty “I Care!” gestures..

      • Kathy from Kansas

        I have an additional problem with most of these medical-research organizations, and that is that they fund embryo-killing or fetus-killing research.

        The ALS Association funds embryonic stem-cell research. As does the American Diabetes Association, the Alzheimer’s and the Parkinson’s Disease Associations, and even the American Cancer Society. The March of Dimes may be the worst of all, having funded vivisection of late-term aborted babies. Fortunately, there are ethical alternatives well-deserving of our donations, such as the Iococca Foundation, the Sound Choices Pharmaceutical Institute, the Jerome Lejeune Foundation and the John Paul II Medical Research Institute.

  • Libby

    The Pay-it-Forward line at Starbucks is just so, so wrong. Not only is it coercion, but it is essentially like transferring a $5 bill from your right pocket to your left pocket and patting yourself on the back for the donation. This is progressive good works in a nutshell: all gesture and no actual impact or actual work.
    When it comes to the needy, probably one of the last guys who needs assistance is the one picking up overpriced coffee at Starbucks.

  • lee

    ALS, ice buckets, and coffee — social coercion for other people’s charities:

    One of my facebook friends runs an orphanage in Kenya. And someone issued him the Icebucket challenge. Really. He had a great response: he explained that his charitable works and dollars go the organization he is working with, and he challenged others to contribute to it.

    I work at a hospital, and one of my coworkers has a bug about issueing the Icebucket challenge to our CEO. I explained to him what seems like a million times but was really only three, that we have a MILLION issues here: not just ALS, but heart disease, sickle-cell, breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, skin cancer, leukemia and lymphoma, IPF, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, lupus, stroke, MS, CF, MD, AIDS… and those are just the more popular causes! The CEO of a HOSPITAL would go broke donating $100 to each of them… (What most of them is contribute to their hospital as a whole.)

    Me, I do applaud the fact that this has really raised a lot of money for ALS. It is a horrible disease. But I make a crappy salary, and if every “challenge” that comes along taps me for money, I will be broke. I limit my support to the Concerns of Police Survivors, who help out the families of police officers killed in the line of duty. I try to donate a little something each year. (Though I am the occasional sucker for last minute, desperate causes, like saving the Willow Run plant.)

  • Wolf Howling

    As to the pay it forward campaign, one of my favorite lines from Krauthammer is that a leftie is someone who doesn’t care what you do, as long as its mandatory.

  • jj

    The interesting thing about ISIS – aside from the fact that Jugears keeps calling them “ISIL” because “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant” sounds a hell of a lot better than “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria” (after all, he drew a red line in Syria, did he not) is that, as Rush pointed out, we were a half-inch away from going to war with Assad on their behalf a year ago. They were going to be our allies. We were going to arm them, and bomb Assad’s people on their behalf, because Assad had the temerity to employ gas against them.

    Except… it begins to look more and more like he didn’t. Gas was deployed, certainly, but it looks increasingly likely it was done by the rabid pigs of ISIS, not by the Chinless Wonder of Damascus. The only thing that saved us from turning out to be ISIS’s ally was the habitual inability of Jugears to get his thumb out and make an actual decision to do something. Anything.. About anything.

    What he did in this case, you may recall, was stand passively by while Putin maneuvered Russia, which had been pretty much out of the Middle East picture for the last decade-plus, back into being a player in the region. Which is a pretty poor result, though about average for Jugears and Horseface (if only he had the brains of a horse, and not just the face!), and perhaps marginally better than actually being an ISIS ally and weapons supplier would have been. (We’ve supplied them with enough weapons inadvertently; doing it on purpose would be pretty poor optics even for these two nitwits.)

    But this is what happens when you have a foreign directed by fools, and we’ve had nothing but for the last six years. Obama is one fool, the Clinton bitch was another one, and now we have a genuine low IQ – but nattily dressed (on his wife’s money) – singularly dim bulb running foreign policy. A question I’d love to see asked, of any of them, would be: “just exactly how close did we come to being ISISs’ official ally and weapons supplier?” I’d pay to see that question asked..

  • afischman

    I applaud attention given to a debilitating disease. I was diagnosed with MS 18 years ago but seeing the some neighbors succumb to me scares me a lot, The ice challenge is going around but I will not participate , the effects of a huge about of cold on my head worries me.

  • jj

    To append a thought or two on another of the round-up topics.

    The only occasion on which I remember Maureen Dowd ever being more than run-of-the-mill – certainly not “good” – was when she wrote a column some years ago on the occasion of Thanksgiving at home with her family. It was eloquent in a sense, in that the largest portion of the column was a lament about how misunderstood and what an outcast she is within the bosom of her own family. A family wherein she is, apparently, the sole idiot liberal. It was her best writing, and it was very sad, and I remember thinking that if her editor possessed either a shred of common humanity or good editorial sense he’d have spiked it. He would have said: “it’s wonderful writing, but it goes in your diary; not in a column being read by twenty, thirty, or however many people read the paper these days. It’s too goddam personal and I’m trying to save you from yourself.” But her editor didn’t do that, he ran it. And I’m sure I am not the only person who’s been unable to regard Maureen Dowd as anything other than a sad little girl ever since.

    The Kazin guy, on the other hand, suffers from a common liberal delusion: he thinks Obama’s eloquent. Or once was. And I’d like to ask him: “Kazin, old boy, when was that? Please quote for me a remark – needn’t be an entire speech – where Barack Obama himself was ever eloquent. I mean: HIMSELF, not him reading the words someone else loaded into his teleprompter. Quote for me a thought or phrase of his own that will serve as an example of native eloquence, or a thought that might pass as a specimen of thoughtful.”

    The last person in Washington DC with a claim to eloquence was Ronald Reagan; Obama is not now and never was capable of asserting such a claim for himself. (Though in fairness he knows it, and never does advance such a claim: the idiots in his party do that.)