The Bookworm Beat — 9/3/14 “what makes Progressives tick” edition

Woman writingYahoo News had a short photo essay about transparent animals. I’m by way of being a transparent animal myself this year. Thanks to bone and muscle breakdowns, surgery, and anemia, I’ve been cut open, scanned, x-rayed, probed, and pretty much turned inside out in an effort to repair what’s wrong.

Of course, there is no real repair. What’s wrong is can be summed up in two words: “tick” and “tock.” Certainly some of my complaints can be alleviated, but absent a drinkable fountain of youth, I’m just going to have to be grateful that things aren’t worse. What really makes me grumpy is my knees. I can ignore pretty much everything else, but knees do tend to make themselves known throughout the day.

That’s my whine. I’ve tried not to be a whiner lately, but today seemed like a good day. It was so much easier to focus on my own aches and pains than to turn my eyes outwards and look at the world’s agony. Things are not going well. I’ll spare you the laundry list of Obama failures (Noemie Emery does it better than I ever could), and simply say that the world is not a healthy place when America checks out.

The big mystery, as always, is what the heck is going on in Obama’s head?  Former Obama cheerleader, and current Obama critic, Ron Fournier tortures himself with that question:

I’m puzzled by Obama.

A calm, deliberative presence in the aftermath of the rush-to-misjudgment Bush era, Obama can nonetheless choose words that remind Americans of his role in the assassination of Osama bin Laden and countless other terrorists. Denouncing the Islamic State for the beheading of a second American journalist, Obama declared, “Our reach is long, and justice will be served.” He’s believable.

At the same time, he’s maddeningly indecisive, unclear, and defensive—or, as Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said on Sunday, maybe he’s “too cautious.” Once, early in Wednesday’s news conference, Obama mentioned almost in passing the threat posed “to U.S. interests.” Much later, he spoke for a third time about dangers to the region, with no mention the United States.

Perhaps Fournier is puzzled because he still believes that, hiding somewhere within this distant, cold, lazy, dismissive, self-involved calculating man is the light-bringer Fournier and others like him worshiped back in 2008. Even having lost his faith in Obama, Fournier still clings to the memory, just as a long-abandoned church hints at that faint, sweet, sacred smell of incense.

I’m not so puzzled about Obama’s motives. I decided long ago that he’s a man short on book-learning, but long on the feral, manipulative intelligence that comes with being both a narcissist and a Leftist. Although his only God is the man he sees in the mirror, to the extent he has an affinity for any faith, that faith is Islam. Indeed, if your basic nature is God-worship, rather than free will — and most especially so if you’re the God at issue — you’re going to like a religion that urges its followers to subordinate themselves utterly to your God’s every utterance, whether it issues directly from your own lips, or is disseminated through your various prophets (or, as we call them nowadays, political hacks, mouthpieces, and reporters).

While Obama seems reasonably clear to me, I’m too am puzzled about the fact that the half of America still invested in Obama seems so cavalier about the rising threat from ISIS. Technically speaking, ISIS shouldn’t be a threat to America.  I’m absolutely confident that if the full force of our military — even our diminished military — were to be unleashed on ISIS and related entities, those misbegotten militants would be wiped out in short order.

But of course we never will unleash that full military force, in part because we Americans (especially the royal “I, me, my, and we” currently occupying the White House) lack the political will and, in significant part, because we hold ourselves to a higher standard than mass slaughter. It’s not only the Geneva Convention that controls us. Just as Israel tried desperately to fight a “humane war” (an oxymoron if there ever was one), America too tries to fight a good war. Good wars tend to drag because, lacking Sherman’s carefully targeted depredations of the civilian populations giving “aid and succor” to the combatants, war is inefficient.

Aside from our morality, America is hampered by the Left’s fervent belief that our military is evil and our enemy misunderstood. Leftist pressure means that American troops are forced to go beyond moral decency and into the realm of mandated suicide. (As a somewhat related aside, on September 9, you can buy Bing West’s One Million Steps: A Marine Platoon at War, which I’m now reading. It’s uplifting reading because it presents brave young Americans who have a fundamental belief that their country is valuable and deserves to be defended; it’s depressing reading because you see how Leftist war theory, as carried out under a Commander in Chief who manifestly dislikes his military, means that those same decent lives are cruelly snuffed out or those healthy young bodies destroyed — never forgetting that these sacrifices aren’t even made in the name of victory but, instead, are for the purpose of retreat.)

Now where was I? Oh, I remember. I was leading up to the threat that is ISIS. Yes, we could destroy ISIS swiftly, but we won’t. More to the point, Obama has made it very clear that he’s not going there. In a speech that should live in infamy, Obama held up the ISIS threat as a bureaucratic mess-up that should yield to dry, technocratic oversight in the field — never mind that Obama has utterly alienated the Muslim countries he expects to do the ISIS clean-up.

Obama sounds defeated before he’s even left the starting gate. He doesn’t speak of victory; instead, he wearily speaks of containment:

We know that if we are joined by the international community, we can continue to shrink ISIL’s sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities to the point where it is a manageable problem.

And the question is going to be making sure we’ve got the right strategy but also making sure we’ve got the international will to do it. This is something that is a continuation of a problem we’ve seen certainly since 9/11, but before and it continues to metastasize in different ways. And what we’ve got to do is make sure that we are organizing the Arab world, the Middle East, the Muslim world, along with the international community to isolate this cancer.

This particular brand of extremism that is first and foremost destructive to the Muslim world and the Arab World and North Africa and the people who live there. They’re the ones who are most severely affected. They’re the ones who are constantly under threat of being killed. They’re the ones whose economies are completely upended to the point where they can’t produce their own food and they can’t produce the kinds of goods and services to sell in the world marketplace.

And they’re falling behind because of this very small and narrow but very dangerous segment of the population. And we’ve got to combat it in a sustained, effective way. And I’m confident we’re going to be able to do that.

Try to imagine Churchill making mealy-mouthed sounds about manageable problems and organizing international communities so that he can oversee them as they get rid of a cancer in their midst. Obama’s bureaucratic mindset is pretty small potatoes when compared to Churchill’s stirring call to arms:

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

Fundamentally, Obama makes it clear that he doesn’t really think America is at risk — which is a most peculiar view to hold a mere 13 years (almost to the day) after another small band of Islamic fundamentalists housed in the Middle East managed to kill almost 3,000 innocent souls in a matter of hours. It’s a peculiar view to hold when ISIS has shown its willingness to slaughter children, crucify Christians, commit genocide against ancient Christian populations, and march half-naked men whom it determines are the “wrong” kind of Muslims out into the middle of nowhere only to gun them all down. It’s a peculiar view to hold when ISIS boastfully beheads two American citizens, just because they’re American (and Islamists do love their beheadings). It’s a peculiar view to hold when 11 commercial jets have gone missing from Libya, a country that Obama practically handed to the Islamists and one that still has in its soil the blood of a US Ambassador and three other Americans. It’s a peculiar view to hold when British and American Muslims, complete with British and American passports, are cheerfully heading off to join ISIS, knowing that they can and will, just as cheerfully, return home to blow up Americans.

One of my friends thinks Obama’s passive, sanguine attitude is difficult to reconcile with his fervent support of the Chicago way, complete with that whole thing about bringing a gun to a knife fight. I think the answer to this apparent conundrum may lie in something Ben Domenech wrote while commenting upon Hillary Clinton’s ridiculously strong corporate ties, something that seems to offend her Progressive followers not one whit (emphasis mine):

History may ultimately consider Obama’s 2008 nomination as a representation not of progressivism’s resurgent appeal, but as its death rattle—a speed bump along the way to the Democratic Party’s becoming a fully corporatist, Clinton-owned entity. In practice, the party now resembles a protection racket with an army of volunteers, with friends who never suffer and enemies who never relax. And who are those enemies? Not big business or Wall Street, which has paid their way to new alliances; not America’s insurers, whose products Democrats have made it illegal not to buy; not privacy-challenging government, which Obama has expanded to unprecedented degrees. No, the only enemies who really matter to today’s Democratic Party are those wayward intolerant social-policy traditionalists with their un-American views of religious liberty.

Hillary was deemed unacceptable in 2008 for being wrong on the top progressive priorities: the war and civil liberties. Now those priorities have shifted, and a candidate who voted for the Iraq War and the Patriot Act can denounce Edward Snowden as a lawbreaker without compunction. For today’s left, social progressivism is the glue that binds the whole project. It’s no accident that this is the one policy aspect on which Hillary has been forced into compliance: For her party, it is the only ideological position that really matters—everything else is window dressing. Hillary’s top five all-time donors are a perfect reflection of this: Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co., the law firm DLA Piper, and—in the lone nod to ideology—EMILY’s List. There are few better representations of the factions that inform the Democratic Party’s policy priorities in the Clintonian age: Wall Street, big law, and puritanical social leftists, for whom the only non-negotiables are abortion, gay marriage, and free birth control.

The only thing missing from that trinity of abortion, gay rights, and birth control is race victimization. In other words, Progressives, from Obama on down, have met the enemy, and it is YOU. They’ve even got the t-shirt to show for it:

Rather get stopped by terrorists

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  • Robert Arvanitis

    Hey Book, we must agree.

    We too prefer that that moron be stopped by ISIS than the Ferguson PD,

    BECAUSE ISIS is a more effective Darwinian filter than any American PD, and we all believe in natural selection.

  • Charles Martel

    It would be ironic, considering how many Islamists work in the White House, if ISIS were to show its reach and power by doing something truly embarrassing to The One, like suddenly cutting off power to Teleprompter of the United States in the middle of a speech, or having a co-opted Marine run up to the podium and pants Nancy Boy.

    Or. . . . Omigaw, no! President Biden, noooooo!

  • JKB

    Today I read this from Alan Macfarlane’s book:

    The reason for these outcroppings of inconsistency is obvious. When there is a determining infrastructure it brings everything into line. If kinship underpins everything, as it does in tribal societies, or religion in Hinduism and Islam, or politics in Communism and Fascism, or the market in extreme forms of neo-liberal American thought, then everything can be read off from it. There is consistency because there is a common base, or lowest common denominator. The cost, of course, is that it leads to the loss of liberty, oppression, the imprisonment of the soul and the mind. The world of Brave New World or 1984 are at least internally consistent.

    On the other hand, the essence of the modern world is that there is no defining infrastructure. Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold. Mere anarchy is not loosed upon the world, but certainly chaos and confusion is often there. Basically the four spheres of our life are constantly in productive tension – politics, religion, economy and society. So there is an everlasting struggle, with no sphere triumphant.

    In such a situation adults have to live in a world of endless compromise, of endless situations where the best is the enemy of the good, in an Einsteinian world of relativity where all principles can be bent by some other force. It is a Dirac or Schrödinger quantum world where a cat can be both alive and dead at the same time. It is a world perfectly caught by the Oxford mathematician Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) when he took a child, full of absolutes, into the magical world down the rabbit hole and through the looking glass

    In the usual run of societies, an individual lives in an embedded world where all the currents – economic, kinship, religion, and politics – are flowing in one direction. So the flow is swift, certain and can be reasonably well described. There are ‘patterns’ to the cultures, as the anthropologist Ruth Benedict put it in the title of her book.54

    Modernity is different. In order to help us to understand the contradictory forces, Tocqueville uses an image of a pool in a rushing stream where contrary flows meet and swirl. ‘When one examines what is happening in the United States closely, one soon discovers two contrary tendencies; they are like two currents flowing in the same bed in opposite directions.’ At other times he described more than two contrary flows. For instance he talked of ‘…the great American fight between the provinces and the central power, between the spirit of independence and democracy, and the spirit of hierarchy and subordination.’55

    Seems to me that many people fear individual liberty. Fear being able to do their own thing. The mid-Boomers fought so hard to be free from Christianity, etc. but they left a world with many adrift. They seek the solace of the group (religious, political, ideological, etc). Now overall, those needing to be in a group hug wouldn’t be a problem. Except, they, and it includes most of the Progressives, but also a lot on the Religious Conservative side, don’t want even those who are willing to embrace the ambiguity of modernity to be free from the group control.

    I am just seeing this in the movies, books, TV, etc. Stories of an individual, informed but not controlled by family, tribe, church, political group, etc. just don’t have the conflict needed for a good story. So we don’t see stories of the capitalist engaging in mutually beneficial contract, the child supported in their own life by family or the church that informs rather than defines the individual.

    No, they want their feudal lords, tight-knit family of Catholic cops, evil businessmen, the promiscuous doctors and mad detectives, etc.

  • lee

    I find out interesting that James Foley and Stephen Sotloff were the ones chosen to be beheaded. They were actually both fairly sympathetic-to-supportive of the Islamists. The way they calmly read their statements… Why those two? There are others who have been kidnapped… I also find it interesting that apparently the released videos do NOT show the actual beheading–I have not seen them and don’t want to. But what I’ve read, the videos fade to black when the executioner puts the knife to the victim’s neck. I find it all… A little strange….

    • lee

      Please note, I am not necessarily saying it’s “significant”, just that I find it interesting. Curious.

    • qr4j

      Lee, I also find it interesting that the videos ISIS produces do not show the actual beheadings. Like you, I do NOT wish to see them. The very thought of the beheadings induces nausea. That being said, I do not understand why these brutal beasts don’t go ahead and show the entire grizzly undertaking. I will count it a blessing that I don’t understand the thinking.

      All the Obama-Biden blather about bringing these beasts (in the biblical sense, not the animal sense) to justice. Sickens me too. No one believes these two idiots. I’ll correct that: Very few people believe them. I wish O-B would just STFU.

      • Ymarsakar

        In this paranoid world, I wouldn’t be surprised if Hussein called ISIL on the sat phone and told them to keep their executed hostages alive, until the 2016 election, where they would mysteriously return from the grave, upon Hussein O’s jet back to America.

        Wouldn’t that be something miraculous and messiah like?

      • Ymarsakar

        Also if these Leftist sympathizers had converted completely, then faking their death would be a good thing to produce more mask based ISIL fighters.

        Faking people’s deaths to get rid of the paper trail, then replacing it with fake identities, is a great way to infiltrate agents back into the West to blow up children.

      • lee

        It’s not like ISIS and the other brutes have shied away from showing their bloodthirstiness in all its macabre-ness: there are videos (I’m told–I read it in the news so it MUST be true) of horrible Bahrain’s and other brutalities–in detail–that these breasts have posted. Why edit these for the squeamish?

  • David Foster

    JKB…”Seems to me that many people fear individual liberty.”

    Sometime in the 1930s, a young Nazi was quoted as saying “We Germans are so happy. We are free of freedom.”

    • JKB

      And many in the US, Britain and Western Europe were jealous. Mostly graduates from our “elite” universities.

  • Ymarsakar

    Certainly some of my complaints can be alleviated, but absent a drinkable fountain of youth, I’m just going to have to be grateful that things aren’t worse.

    Try Tai Chi

    No, seriously.

    As for what makes the Left tick, evil obviously does… is that some kind of trick question.

    Sherman targeted the infrastructure and the land of the Democrat aristocrats controlling the war from behind their draft immune armchair slave plantations. He did not specifically target the population, although he could have and it would have wiped out the KKK before it formed. The infrastructure damage was bad enough, as it led to chaos, insecurity, and limited famine. There was also a lack of supervision, male supervision, over female civilians, leading to the predictable.

    Many Americans aren’t individuals. They are afraid to be on an island. They are afraid to be alone. Where is their courage and independence? Will they ever find it before Death knocks on their door?

    An individual is produced by what? Fire? Greed? Challenges? War? Stupidity? Obedience to Evil Authority?

  • Ymarsakar

    If the police, the FBI, and the ATF attack and kill American families, nothing bad happens to them. Witness Ruby Ridge and WACO.

    If ISIL attacks me, I might be able to kill them, and in doing so, might live.

    Not so against police or FBI forces. Kill one of them… heh, and you’re a goner. Including your whole family.

    • JKB

      Don’t worry, if ISIL attacks you and you successfully defend yourself, Eric Holder will be right down to oversee the investigation into your crimes. IS is multi-cultural, you know, so obviously if you defend yourself you are a bigot.

      • Ymarsakar

        That’s only for whiteys. Blacks that kill blacks or Muslims killing Muslims or gays killing Muslims… that’s more complicated.


    White House Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken, explains the “plan” with this quote:

    “This, as the President has said, is going to have to be a sustained effort,” Blinken said. “It’s going to take time, and it will probably go beyond even this administration to get to the point of defeat.”

    Deliberation and delay – after all there are the mid-terms and 2016. I can only assume that in lieu of boots on the ground, Obama will use the boots to kick it down the road.

    • JKB

      Last night, Jon Stewart (I know) commented on Obama speaking slowly about IS (didn’t see it but he probably carried a golf club) as it being Obama was trying to run out his term and we may have to put Obama on a shot clock.

      It was pretty funny.

      • SADIE