The plague of passwords

Passwords may soon be obsolete, thanks to two-factor authentication.  Until then, please enjoy this joke that Earl forwarded to me:

Senior trying to set a password

WINDOWS: Please enter your new password.

USER: cabbage

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must be more than 8 characters.

USER: boiled cabbage

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain 1 numerical character.

USER: 1 boiled cabbage

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot have blank spaces.

USER: 50bloodyboiled cabbages

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password must contain at least one upper case character.

USER: 50BLOODYboiledcabbages

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot use more than one upper case character consecutively.

USER: 50BloodyBoiledCabbagesShovedUpYourAssIfYouDon’tGiveMeAccessNow!

WINDOWS: Sorry, the password cannot contain punctuation.

USER: ReallyPissedOff50BloodyBoiledCabbagesShovedUpYourAssIfYouDontGiveMeAccessNow

WINDOWS: Sorry, that password is already in use.

Daniel Hannan goes to the heart of things, praising the rule of law

Daniel HannanAs I said, today I got to hear Daniel Hannan speak as part of promoting his new book, Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World. I have my autographed copy in hand, and am look forward reading it. To the extent Hannan’s talk was a preview of his book, I know I’m going to like it, and then drive everyone crazy by quoting from it all the time.

For those who don’t know, Daniel Hannan is a British representative at the European Union. He shot to fame amongst conservatives in America thanks to this video:

Before I get to the substance of Hannan’s way-too-brief talk, let me say that the video does not lie. He is a slim, neat looking man, who is enormously articulate in a way only the British seem to be. His grammar and diction are perfect, his Biblical and historic references fluent, his fund of knowledge vast, and his narrative organized and impassioned in a polite, classy way. When I spoke with him briefly after the luncheon, he was endearingly thoughtful and charming. I was probably one of 75 people to whom he spoke, and yet I felt he was giving me his full attention and seriously considering my point.

In his talk, Hannan’s core issue was a surprisingly simple one: He asserts that the Rule of Law’s primacy in the Anglo-American sphere is the basis for the freedom and prosperity that led these two nations to dominate the world, seriatim, for centuries.  More than asserting that, he made his case supporting this assertion.  And yes, as a lawyer and a Jew, I was inclined to agree with him from the get-go.

The Anglo-American reverence for law goes back 799 years to Runnymede in England, 1215. That’s when the English barons, fed up with charmless King John’s monarchical excesses, forced him to sign the Magna Carta.

The Magna Carta is the first writing ever that holds that there are abstract legal principles inherent in the individual that transcend even the king himself. Even when one remembers that these inherent principles were written so as to apply only to a very small band of high lords, this was still the moment that led directly to America’s Bill of Rights.  That document also states that there are inherent legal principles that protect against their government, the difference being that those rights extend to all people, not just the privileged few.

No wonder then, said Hannan,that Lord Denning described the Magna Carta as “the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.” It is this supreme achievement, Hannan added, that is the “shared patrimony” of English-speaking people. “This is our Torah.”

Because the law by its very existence frees people from tyranny, it is the foundation of everything else that has elevated the Anglo-American sphere (including former colonies) above the rest of the world. It leads to true democracy, the eventual end of slavery, free markets, equality, and, indeed, every right one can imagine in our world.

Unfortunately, too many people take the rule of law for granted. Indeed, many think it is the natural state of things. It’s not. The natural state of things is the autocrat, the tyrant, the oligarch, or (something striking increasingly close to home) the dictatorship of the administrative state.

Nor is it easy to spread these ideas. To the extent they exist at all, they have been spread by occupation or military conquest. It turns out that, in most places, an iron fist was necessary to put the tools of liberty in place. (As an aside, the value of the rule of law explains why, as Niall Ferguson argued in Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power, all of Britain’s former colonies are the most successful places in their region or on earth.)

Interestingly, Hannan says that Americans value the Magna Carta much more than do the Brits. In Runnymede (which is part of Hannan’s constituency), the first monument appeared only in 1957 — after the American Bar Association paid to erect it.

Amazingly, considering the document’s age, England has four original copies of the Magna Carta.  No one, however, seems to care much. When Hannan took his children to see the one in Lincoln, it was just hanging on the wall, there were no lines, and it was easy to stand right in front of it, so as to admire the medieval parchment, writing, and seals.

By contrast, when that same copy of the Magna Carta came to New York in 1939 for the World’s Fair, almost 14.5 million Americans went to see it. Moreover, in a marvelously symbolic way, because the war started before the Americans could return Magna Carta to its home country, that seminal document spent the war safely stowed away in Fort Knox.

Showing a greater knowledge of California history and politics than most people, Hannan said that California could easily have gone another way, away from the Anglo-American sphere. It was, of course, part of Spain before America got it, but Russia also wanted it. In 1806, Count Nicolai Rezanov wooed and almost won the daughter of the Spanish garrison commander in Monterey, something that would have cemented a Russian-Spanish alliance in the Western half of the new world. It was only Rezanov’s failure to return from Russia to claim the maiden’s hand (he died en route in Siberia) that prevented this event.

Even that marriage, however, might not have been enough to stop the spread of the Anglo-American rule of law across the American continent. As England herself discovered in 1776, in a pre-industrial age it’s terribly difficult for a centralized power to exert supreme control over a far-flung empire. This is especially true when the people living in those far-flung parts are independent minded.

In some places, of course, conquerors simply substituted themselves at the top of an existing power structure. In the new world, however, Hannan pointed out that free-spirited, freedom-loving settlers set out on their own to claim territory. Once they settled in, they applied the rule of law, quickly creating strong, functioning communities. This proved to be the best way to build a society from the ground up: the organic growth of free people subject to the rule of law.

For a microcosm of the two different types of governance, Hannan contrasted Silicon Valley and Sacramento. One is a dynamic creative hub, the other a sclerotic administrative entity that exists to fund itself in perpetuity (something both political parties are guilty of doing). In other words, said Hannan, “governments are pension providers, not service providers.”

Hannan then focused on the nature of government itself: How is it that well-intentioned people go into government, but nothing changes? He said that what they discover once they get to the halls of power is that the buttons and levers assigned to them are illusory. The un-elected functionary is the real power.

Given this depressing state of things, with the Western world moving quickly to administrative autocracies, how, Hannan asked rhetorically, do we repair things? The first step, he said, is for us to remember who we are. We — the Anglo-American world built upon the rule of law – are a wonder and a miracle, and we need to recognize that in order to preserve it.

Because this is California, Hannan offered a wine analogy: When Europeans first came to America, they brought their grape cuttings with them and planted wonderful vineyards that grew and thrived. Then, in the 19th century, a terrible blight destroyed European vineyards. To recover them, the Europeans had to come to America and bring cuttings from those heritage plants back home.

England brought her cuttings to America in the form of ideas. She’s now lost many of those ideas at home, but can look to America to reclaim them. Moreover, she can recognize that they’ve gotten better here — just as we pay $5 for a bottle of wine better than Louis XIV could ever have imagined.

That last fact recognizes the spectacular achievement of the free market. When law is king, a society prospers and innovates. People have stability, reliability, rights in property, etc., and that encourages creation and innovation, not to mention more affordable things — all types of things — for all people.

Hannan had a very simple example of the miracle of the law-based free market: a can of baked beans for $1. That can represents the coming together of so many things: the farmer, the loggers who cut the wood used for the label, the paper makers, the label printers, the mine for the metal used in the can, the smelting plant that made the can, the factory that cooked and canned the beans, the transportation that brought all these items together and then brought them to market, and the retailer who eventually sells it to you . . . all for $1.

This can of beans is a miracle, and we need to appreciate it and value it in order to preserve it. Moreover, the Left has never, not even once, put forward an idea or a behavior that has benefited so many people as the ideas and behaviors that came together in that single can of tasty nutrition.

Hannan wrapped up his speech there and opened the floor to a few questions. The first question was about China. Hannan does not foresee a good outcome there. Demographically, not only does it lack girls, it lacks youth. Like Japan and most of Europe, it will soon be a top-heavy nation with millions of old people relying on a small number of young people for support. Moreover, since it’s not a free nation, there will be no debate about how to deal with this problem. The Party’s heavy-hand will do something, and it probably won’t be nice.

If China could be given a rule of law and true freedom, she’d be unstoppable. Look at Hong Kong and Singapore, said Hannan. Both of these former British colonies are spectacularly successful and economically free.

The next question went to Hannan’s own identity. It’s a little-known fact that he was born in Peru, and first went to England to attend boarding school. This meant that he got to see both cultures side by side. In the England of his youth (a youth during the Thatcher era), what wasn’t barred was allowed. What you owned you kept. The NHS notwithstanding, it was still a legal system for individuals, not the state.

In Peru, what’s not permitted is disallowed. You hold the land on sufferance from the government (sounds feudal, doesn’t it?).

On the subject of the UKIP, Hannan said the best way to think of it is to imagine that the Tea Party became a genuine third party. There are some extremists in it, but mostly it’s a party that wants to hew to free markets, individual liberty, etc. That’s why the Left hates it and the Conservatives (just like the GOP with respect to the Tea Party) want to destroy it.

Things can get very bad in England if the Conservatives refuse to embrace UKIP.  This is so because, when a single party splits in two, rather than getting twice as many votes, each gets half as many, leaving power to the party on the opposite side of the aisle. In England, if Conservatives and UKIP combine, they have a clear majority; if they fight it out, the smaller Labour party sweeps the elections. (The GOP should, but won’t, pay attention to this.)

On the subject of energy, Hannan says that there is a vast shale reserve under his own constituency in south-eastern England. However, unlike America, which has vertical rights, the British did not own the land under their property. Since oil recovery can be a messy, noisy prospect, no one has an incentive to engage in it. Only with some ownership rights will they be willing to drill.

Finally, Hannan addressed how he, an individualist, can sit in the EU, the ultimate administrative, top-down, undemocratic body. For one thing, he explained, he is not simply defined by one thing. One can simultaneously be a member of the EU and work to limit its power.  More than that, to the extent the EU is a representative body, he should represent those who don’t like the EU. He admitted, though, that this is an uncomfortable situation for him, especially given that the British still have a vestigial sense of law and individual freedom, while the Europeans fear individual decision-makers (after all, individuals elected Hitler and Mussolini) and have endless faith in the power of elite technocrats.

Lastly, as I mentioned at the top of this post, I had a brief word with Hannan when he signed the book. Interestingly enough, while driving into the City, Charles Martel and I had spoken about the Leftist march through institutions. One of my points was that conservatives made that march easy because, by definition, conservatives are suspicious of institutions. A person who values individualism and liberty is not about to embrace an institution that invariably leads to its opposite. By instinctively retreating from those institutions, however, conservatives created a vacuum that the Left gleefully filled.

Since Hannan had spoken about the reason a conservative would enter the EU, I suggested that, if he’s asked that question again, he should add that he’s countering the Leftist march through institutions by filling a seat that would otherwise have gone to someone hungering for even more technocratic, bureaucratic power. Hannan really listened to me, and explained that he agrees with me, but that the few conservatives in the EU all speak about the soul-searing difficulty of functioning in that organization. To counter it, every year he organizes a holiday for all of them during which they contribute labor to a charitable organization (building houses for the poor, etc.).

I went in to the luncheon speech expecting to be impressed, and I left . . . impressed. Daniel Hannan is doing what he can to resurrect in the American soul a reverence for the rule of Law and all the benefits that flow from that. It’s up to us to do what we can to spread that idea further.

And one other thing:  Hannan’s talk gave me an insight into why Bush’s efforts to bring freedom to Iraq ultimately failed (with Obama simply adding to that failure when he created the power vacuum into which ISIS marched).  Bush made the mistake of thinking that democracy equals freedom.  In fact, democracy equals the right to vote.  The Soviets all voted.  I remember how the Soviet leadership always boasted that they were a true democracy, unlike America, because they had a 100% turnout in every election, unlike our puny two-digit numbers.  But they were not free.

Giving Iraqis the right to vote was not the same as creating a stable Angl0-American legal system within which they could thrive.  Of course, considering that sharia is a stable legal system, although a terribly repressive and punitive one, it’s doubtful if anyone, even someone with a better understanding of law’s relationship to freedom and stability, could have succeeded in Iraq.  As we have all had reason to learn, the Anglo-American system, which is individual-centric, does not exist in the same universe as sharia, which subordinates the individual completely to the cruel and autocratic will of the long-dead Mohamed.

Open thread — the illustrated edition

Thought-Bubble-White-Board_8296556Not to make you feel less fortunate than I am or anything, but I won’t be blogging for a few hours today because I’m going to hear Daniel Hannan speak!! Even better, I’ll be going with Charles Martel. Yay!

While I’m gone, please consider this an Open Thread. I can suggest a few topics, and I’ve got lots of posters to spur you on regarding Israel’s latest fight for survival:

1. Are the tunnels that Hamas has dug into Israeli territory a game-changer in terms of Israel’s commitment to a long war?

2. Is Obama going to get a way with erasing the border between the United States and Mexico?

3. If you had the ability to act today to change that border situation, what would you do?

4. Are Europeans going to look at the anti-Israel riots in their cities and learn that they’ve nurtured a Muslim viper in their bosom?

5.  Has the UN finally gone too far?

6. Any cheerful news to report?

And now the pictures. First, one to lighten the mood:

Dog day in court

And second, a bunch from Israel. If you use social media, please think about sharing them. This is the first war in which Israel and pro-Israel NGOs are fighting back, not just on the field and in state houses, but in social media. We’re soldiers in this battle too and, if we support Israel, should help out:

Who protects the children

Hamas human shield

Terrorist tunnels under your street

Hamas ambulances

UN supports Hamas with rockets

The DemProg’s love of government

dmv-line_100369529_mOne of the reasons I didn’t write anything yesterday was that we went into the City to have lunch with friends. The food was wonderful, which I knew would be the case, since Yank Sing is my favorite restaurant. The conversation was frustrating.

It all started when someone tried to look something up on the California Department of Motor Vehicle’s website, only to discover that it’s a terrible website. I pointed out that, being a monopoly, once the DMV created a somewhat functional website, it had no incentive to create a better one. A DemProg at the table, who works in the private sector, instantly defended government workers.

“I know government workers,” he said, “who work crazy hard.”

“So do I,” I replied. “I’m not talking about individuals; I’m talking about a systemic problem.”

“So you’re saying no government workers can do a good job?”

“No, I’m not saying that at all. What I’m saying is that when there’s a monopoly, which is always the case when government is involved, you only need to get things functional and no more. You’re not going to lose business, after all.”

“That’s not true!”

(It occurs to me as I write this that the DemProg took my argument as a veiled attack on the Obamacare website, although that hadn’t even crossed my mind at the time.)

The argument volleyed back and forth for a while, with the DemProg insistently saying — and me agreeing — that there are wonderful government employees out there. I kept repeating my point, though, that the system discourages hard work and innovation because there are no rewards for either.

Since we were at an impasse, the DemProg switched to another argument:

“It’s not the workers’ fault and it’s not just because no one else can compete with them. It’s because of the regulations that limit them.”

“That’s my point exactly! The nature of government is such that every agency, from its inception, is prevented from growing, innovating, and creating. It’s designed and limited by committees that have nothing to do with it’s actual functioning.”

I’m a bit muddy on where the conversation went at this point. We definitely touched upon government unions, which he said were necessary to protect workers, and which I said were corrupt ab initio, because the people whose money is at stake (i.e., taxpayers) are the only ones not at the table. Instead, I explained, although I doubt he or the other DemProg guests understood, unions pay money to elect politicians who ensure that they get insane benefits, far better than in the private sector, because the politicians know that a portion of those same benefits will be turned into cash to re-elect the politician. No taxpayers — the ones who fund this corruption — are involved. I especially flummoxed my audience when I added that Progressive icon FDR feared public sector unions.

I suggested a thought experiment: Imagine that the DMV is divided into two separate entities, one of which serves all state citizens whose last names end with the letters A through L and the other of which serves all state residents whose names end with M through Z (and we’re assuming that pretty much divides the state population in half). Both DMV entities are given the same goal — do DMV stuff — but they’re not explicitly told how to do that. Moreover, they are told that, at the end of each year, there’s going to be a customer satisfaction survey. Whichever DMV department wins that survey will be rewarded: The employees will get significant bonuses. The other DMV won’t get any bonuses and, if the survey answers are really bad, people will get fired and salaries will be docked.

I then asked, “Would the above scenario improve performance?”

To which my DemProg friend said, “I don’t want to talk about this anymore.”

Saturday night round-up (the moron edition) and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesI did something today that I very seldom do: I went clothes shopping for myself. I spend an inordinate amount of time shopping for everyone else in the family, but between shopping fatigue, denial about my post-baby figure (although I’ll concede I was too thin pre-babies), and the ridiculous amount of money clothes cost nowadays even on sale, there’s no pleasure for me in the task.

My husband also reverts to totally stereotyped behavior. How stereotyped? Well, Dorothy Sayers was clearly writing about him way back in 1937:

“Why, it takes a man months and months to reconcile himself to a new hat. And just when you’re preparing to send it to the jumble sale, he says, ‘That’s rather a nice hat you’ve got on, where did you get it?’ And you say, ‘My dear Henry, it’s the one I had last year and you said made me look like an organ-grinder’s monkey.’ My brother-in-law says that every time, and it does make my sister so wild.”

– Sayers, Dorothy L., Gaudy Night (Kindle Locations 904-908). Open Road Media.

As if he’d read the script, Mr. Bookworm was suddenly much taken both with my decade-old jeans (telling me the holes were “fashionable”) and with the shirt that, when I bought it two years ago, he told me made me look as if I was dressing in a sack.  Men!

Mr. Bookworm’s new-found fondness for my old clothes notwithstanding, I do not find holes fashionable.   I find them disreputable.  So off I went, found a sympathetic saleswoman at Nordstrom, got my older child, the one with fashion sense, to help me out, and bought several new clothes and a couple of new pairs of shoes.  Some will go back but most will stay with me.  I cannot go around my solidly upper-middle-class Marin neighborhood looking like the bag lady’s poorer sister.

After the harrowing experience of confronting myself in the dressing room mirror, spending more money on clothes in a day than I’ve spent in the past several years put together, and convincing my husband that the worn-out fashions of the last decade can use an update, I’m so ready to rest myself with political and social commentary.  Here goes….

** 1 **

You’re probably au courant about this one already, but the Palestinians are back at it again, recycling the dead from other wars to suit their own propaganda purposes:

Hamas recycles dead people

We see the crude trickery, but the Muslim, Leftist, and Neo-Nazi masses in Europe just see something to feed their already rabid antisemitism.

** 2 **

Among other things, the tragedy of MH17 reveals the horror of morons with hyper-destructive missiles.

** 3 **

I called it inappropriate laughter. Charles C. W. Cooke calls in insouciance. No matter the label, there’s something dreadfully wrong with Obama’s responses to the worldwide calamities that have been mounting during the second half of his presidency.

I also don’t like the word “insouciance,” which I think better applies to the incredibly courageous spy keeping his calm and humor even while facing discovery as he works to save his country. Obama’s cavalier attitude and endless ill-timed guffaws have nothing to do with a stiff upper lip and everything to do with derangement, denial, or unseemly delight as he presides over America’s downfall.

Perhaps, based solely upon his response to the MH17 attack, the right word for Obama should be moron, but I still think even that’s too kind.

** 4 **

As their final revenge for having lost the Revolutionary War, the British are writing breathless puff pieces about Hillary Clinton. Indeed, the latest example is so breathless and puffy it’s actually funny:

Throughout my interview with Hillary, she is fiercely engaged; her eyes—sparkly, wide, alert—remain firmly focused on me. She is warm, considered, talks slowly and thoughtfully and uses—consciously or not—tactics that put me at ease. She frequently answers my queries with the response: “Now, that’s a great question”, she litters her answers with colloquialisms that put us on a level and, listening back, I am struck by the amount of times she says, “You know”. And of course there’s that charming laugh. I can see that these natural skills make her the perfect diplomat, the ultimate leader.

Perhaps it’s a parody, but it seems to be played straight. Incidentally, when I hear people repeatedly say “you know,” I automatically deduct a few of the speaker’s IQ points. I know that’s unkind, because it’s a verbal twitch unrelated to intelligence, but I hate verbal twitches. (For an antidote, see Weird Al’s “Word Crimes.”)

** 5 **

And if you admire Weird Al, as I do, he went on Fox (bravo!) to talk about grammar and internet marketing:

** 6 **

The way the media talks about Ted Kennedy, you’d think he was a saint. T. Becket Adams reminds us that, in fact, he was a sinner of the blackest kind. Forty-five years ago, what he did went beyond manslaughter, which would have been the charge had Mary Jo Kopechne’s died the moment the car entered into the water.  Instead, he embraced murder, because he deliberately left her alive in the car, and allowed her to die, slowly, agonizingly, and alone.

** 7 **

A few hours ago, I was about to write “I’d like to boycott Chase Bank for prying into employee’s personal beliefs, but I can’t, because I don’t have a Chase account.” Then, my husband tossed me an envelope from Chase saying “You need to do this” — with “this” being opening a checking and savings account so as to get $400. Mr. Bookworm, of course, supports all actions the gay rights movement perceives as necessary to advance the gay rights movement, so my arguments against Chase on oppression grounds are unavailing.

I think I actually will open the accounts. In six weeks, I’ll get $400. Then I’ll close the accounts, explaining why. That would be a rather lovely form of boycott if, as I hope, Chase manages to earn less than $400 on my money during that time.

** 8 **

Bjorn Lomborg accepts the CO2 anthropogenic climate change narrative. However, because he is not a moron who wants to the First World revert to a pre-industrial standard of living, he is willing to accept that the projections were wrong and that climate change is nowhere near the disaster promised.

Alternatively, the Left could be invested in their view of climate change simply because they are, in fact, morons.

** 9 **

Remember this:  The GOP is not conservative. Some of its leading lights were behind the shameful attacks on Mississippi conservative Chris McDaniels. They were more interested in getting senile Thad Cochran reelected as their yes-man than in having an honest election, reducing racial tensions, and seeing a true conservative voice in the Senate.

** 10 **

The purpose behind lampooning an enemy is to make the enemy seem vulnerable. That’s why a once-patriotic Hollywood worked overtime to create farces aimed at belittling the Nazis and the Japanese.

With that in mind, while I admire those who have created a satirical magazine about ISIS, I’m not sure what good it will do. After all, nobody who’s fighting ISIS will be reading it. For the Christians being purged in Iraq, a little humor in the West is irrelevant.  On the other hand, of course, it can’t hurt to satirize ISIS, remind everyone that it’s made of men who can bleed and die like the rest of us.

** 11 **

I have repeatedly cited here God’s exhortation to “Choose Life.” The DemProg obsession with death — abortions, euthanasia, death panels, etc. — is one of the reasons I’ve turned against it politically. The road that the DemProgs are traveling ultimately leads to the nihilism that is Hamas.

Hamas has raised a generation of people who see death as their greatest accomplishment, provided that they kill Jews along the way. On the subject of Hamas, David Goldman agrees with me, which means I’m really smart on this issue. Moreover, he says that Israel is the only nation in the Middle East, not to mention one of few nations in the world, to choose life.

** 12 **

The wonderful Evan Sayet has a new website. And on his new website, he has a very good post explaining why Jews vote Democrat. As he sees it, due to centuries of being persecuted by people who believed in Christianity, Jews have foolishly concluded that they’ll be better served by people — i.e., Leftists — who believe nothing at all.

Of course, as we’ve discussed here, just because one doesn’t believe in God doesn’t mean one doesn’t have a belief system. Indeed, history has shown us that there is no more rabid believer than the unbeliever.

What I said above does not do justice to Sayet’s entire post. Please read the whole thing for insights into the sad fact that some of the world’s smartest people consistently engage in one of the world’s most foolhardy and dangerous practices, i.e., putting faith in the Left.

** 13 **

I’m sure I’ve stated in a recent post my belief that the problem with radical Islamists is that they’re good at killing, but not at governing (which doesn’t keep them from trying to govern for years, decades, or even centuries, even as the mounds of bodies pile up on their watch). Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Amichai Magen make exactly the same point, only with actual data and analysis.

However, as long as their governance involves waging war solely on themselves, I don’t see why we can’t just stand back and watch the attrition happen. Unfortunately, hundreds, thousands, and even tens of thousands of innocents will have to die, but the sad historical fact is that, when Islam is involved, whether it’s fighting itself or us, the innocents are always the first in line to go.

** 14 **

You know it, I know it, and others are figuring it out: A lot of so-called ADHD arises, not because of pesticides, climate change, or Bugs Bunny cartoons, but because kids, through no fault of their own, are forced to sit still all the time. Yes, they need to learn how to sit still, but they also have to move.

** 15 **

A retired border control agent gives some insight into the purpose behind immigration laws and the terrible damage that follows if the government refuses to protect its own border:

** 16 **

Nobody has paid much attention to the Z Street case, a lawsuit that predates the eruption of the IRS scandal. Back in 2010, Z Street was a lone entity claiming that the IRS was deliberately discriminating against it because it’s position regarding Israel (it supports it) was antithetical to Obama’s position. Now, four years later, Z Street is finally getting discovery in that case, and this discovery may be the one pebble that, when moved, breaks open the entire dam. Here’s hoping.

** 17 **

When the media talks about Israel, it lies. It’s that simple, and the more established and elite the media (think New York Times and Washington Post), the worse the lies it tells. Here’s a handy-dandy cheat sheet explaining the 8 biggest lies. Pull this out next time one of your Leftist friends posts an NYT or WaPo article hostile to Israel.

** 18 **

If you’re in Chicago this Tuesday:

Rally to support Israel in Chicago

** 19 **

Pictures:

I have no idea what a libertarian is

Putin in danger from Obama

Holder's reflexes

Appalled by its brief moment of decency and morality regarding Israel, the WaPo bounces back with pure antisemitism

The Washington PostTwo days ago, I lauded the Washington Post for publishing a rare anti-Hamas editorial.  I say “rare” because Israel supporters have long felt that the Washington Post has consistently slanted its news to be hostile to Israel.  This hasn’t been done too overt a way.   Instead, it manifests itself in spin, subtle digs, and put downs to the Israelis, balanced by unreasonable praise for the Palestinians.  American Thinker has done a good job of catching these digs, slights, rubs, sneers, and disses.

That’s why, as I said, it was so surprising to read what surely constitutes a common sense, even morally correct, editorial about the current war between Israel and Hamas:

SO FAR Hamas’s military campaign against Israel has been a dismal failure.

[snip]

Why would Hamas insist on continuing the fight when it is faring so poorly? The only plausible answer is stomach-turning: The Islamic movement calculates that it can win the concessions it has yet to obtain from Israel and Egypt not by striking Israel but by perpetuating the killing of its own people in Israeli counterattacks. More than 200 people, including a number of children, have already died in Gaza; Hamas probably calculates that more deaths will prompt Western governments to pressure Israel to grant Hamas’s demands.

So far, the tactic is not working. Secretary of State John F. Kerry on Tuesday condemned Hamas for rejecting the cease-fire and “us[ing] the innocent lives of civilians . . . as shields.” But Hamas’s commanders, who have burrowed into underground bunkers, appear to be doubling down. They are urging civilians who have left their homes to return, including some 15,000 who evacuated the northern part of Gaza in response to Israeli warnings.

[snip]

To its credit, Israel has used sophisticated technology, including targeted text messages and dummy warning missiles, to minimize civilian casualties. But innocent people will inevitably be killed in attacks on launchers and missile factories that are purposely placed in densely populated areas. The right response of the international community is not to surrender to Hamas’s despicable tactics but to continue insisting that it unconditionally accept the cease-fire proposed by Egypt.

Maybe my reading skills have degraded lately, but I read the above to mean that the Washington Post editorial board understood that Hamas is deliberately placing its citizens in danger because that’s the only real weapon it has in the war against Israel:  pictures of dead bodies used for propaganda purposes.  The editorial board also seemed to understand that Israel is making every effort to avoid killing the citizens Hamas pushes into the line of fire.  Was it possible that the editors were actually bothering to read the brilliant opinion pieces Charles Krauthammer has been writing on the subject?

Apparently it was not possible that the editors were exposing themselves to moral decency.  Indeed, it appears that, just like a fat person ending a virtuous diet with a grotesque bout of binge eating, The Washington Post, have experimented briefly with virtue, didn’t just get back to subtle sneers and misrepresentations, but instead opted to launch itself straight into out-and-out antisemitism.  And that’s why you will find this video on the Washington Post’s internet site:

Sadie, who sent the above video to me, says that you can make your feelings known by sending an email to letters@washpost.com or by mailing a letter addressed to The Editor, The Washington Post, 1150 15th Street NW, Washington DC 20071. Sadie adds, “The Washington Post prefers that letters be kept to two hundred words or less. I can’t decide on “DROP DEAD” or “UP YOURS” one hundred times.”

I guess we now know the WaPo’s unofficial motto: “The American paper that Hitler would have loved to read.

The round-up I meant to do yesterday

Victorian posy of pansiesI got so taken up yesterday with my post asking if Obama is truly deranged that I never got around to sharing with you all the great material I found. Some things, however, only improve with age, so here they are.

** 1 **

When I was in Norway last summer, part of me really liked it, because it’s exquisitely beautiful and has fascinating museums commemorating its history (especially the Viking museum and the Open Air Museum). The other part of me, though, couldn’t forget that a stroll through Norway is kind of like a stroll through Nazi Germany in 1935 — not everyone’s a vile anti-Semite, but enough are to make it reasonable for you to view all with suspicion.

** 2 **

JoshuaPundit noticed something missing from Pew’s poll about American’s attitudes towards other religions: It conveniently “forgot” to ask Muslims how they feel about other religions. Could it be that Pew didn’t want the ugly truth about Muslim intolerance to leak out?

** 3 **

A 42-year-old, single, working man is at his peak: Physically and mentally mature, earning money (in theory), and still capable of fathering children. A 42-year-old, single, working woman is staring at the end of the line: She’s old in a youth-obsessed culture (when it comes to women), her career is her whole life, and she is unlikely ever to be a parent. Feminist promises about men and fish and bicycles were lies. No wonder she’s unhappy.

** 4 **

Brandeis doesn’t want Ayaan Hirsi Ali to say mean things about the Muslims who mutilated her, brutally murdered her friend and colleague, and continue to hunt her down.  It’s not always so sensitive, though.  The university named after the first Jewish Supreme Court justice is all good with having rabid anti-Semites on its faculty. More on the subject here.

** 5 **

While the world is weeping for the Gaza residents that Hamas has turned into cannon fodder, Gaza residents are actually fine with the whole thing. They’re especially sanguine when their own bombs kill them. It’s all part of the “glorious martyrdom for TV package.”

** 6 **

If you read only one thing about the evil that is Gaza and Hamas, and the complicity of a Western world that sides with terrorist monsters, read Charles Krauthammer’s latest opinion piece. It could easily be titled “Here Be Evil.”

** 7 **

“It’s for the children” is the Leftist cry . . . except when the mother of two young children is a law-abiding citizen who owns a perfectly legal gun to protect her safety in dangerous situations. In that case, “throw her butt in jail” becomes the cry from the anti-gun cadre.

** 8 **

In Detroit, though, at least one person is wising up. The Police Chief there credits gun-owning homeowners with a substantial reduction in that broken city’s crime rate. God bless the man!

** 9 **

It appears possible that the Left overreached itself with the border invasion. Of course, that doesn’t mean that America’s demographics haven’t been permanently changed in Democrats’ favor. Or . . . maybe not.  It turns out that Obama’s own Democrat politicians (outside of the Pelosi/Reid claque) aren’t so happy with what’s happening at the border either.

** 10 **

My mother’s San Francisco Jewish friends all raved about Ari Shavit’s book The Promised Land : The Triumph and Tragedy of Israel. My Mom therefore read the book, which described many events she personally experienced or that her friends personally experienced.  She concluded that the book’s view of events before and during the Israeli War of Independence was a lie.

Martin Kramer looks at just one of those events — the claimed Lydda massacre — and clarifies just how much of a lie it was. Everything is explained when you learn that Shavit was a Ha’aretz writer. Ha’aretz is Israel’s Leftist paper, which is dying on the vine as Israelis realize how greatly the Left betrayed them.

** 11 **

Two videos from two brilliant political and cultural commentators:

Watcher’s Council nominations for July 16, 2014

Watcher's Council logoCool stuff from the Watcher’s Council:

Council Submissions

Honorable Mentions

Non-Council Submissions

Is Obama’s constant, inappropriate laughter a sign that he is suffering from a mental disorder? *UPDATED*

Obama looking stupidOne of the classic signs of serious mental illness is “inappropriate affect.” In this context, “affect” is the emotional face we present to the world. To the extent that a narcissist’s only emotional fixed point is his own need, most of a narcissists affects are actually faked, but that doesn’t mean they’re inappropriate.

The narcissist knows that it would harm his best interests if he were to giggle uncontrollably at a funeral or pick a fist fight with a patient in hospice. Normal people wouldn’t even think of doing such things (outside of the comedy universe), but a narcissist might want to do both, only to stop himself for fear of breaking cover.

Sometimes, though, narcissists, and other sick people, are so disconnected from reality — including their reality of their own best interests in a given situation — that they can no longer stop themselves from presenting an entirely wrong emotional face to the public.  That completely disconnected emotional presentation goes by the shorthand title of “inappropriate affect.”

One of the major subsets of inappropriate affect is “inappropriate laughter.”  There are seldom any good excuses for behavior.  Here’s one short, computer-generated, somewhat repetitive list of some of the major causes behind inappropriate laughter:

Causes of Inappropriate laughter:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Inappropriate laughter. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

Common Causes: Inappropriate laughter

Some of the possible common medical causes of Inappropriate laughter may include:

Other Causes: Inappropriate laughter

Some of the less common causes of Inappropriate laughter may include:

I don’t mean to write a psychological treatise here. I freely admit I’m not qualified to do so, other than having the dubious pleasure of knowing over the years people suffering from narcissism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, dementia, etc.  Instead, this information is a set-up to the fact that Barack Obama has been behaving very peculiarly lately, with the most obvious manifestation of this peculiar behavior being inappropriate laughter.

Think back to his meeting with Texas Governor Rick Perry regarding the tens of thousands of children storming the border.  This flood of humanity has been overwhelming resources and bringing both crime and disease in its wake (and that’s not even counting the crimes visited upon the children themselves, especially sexual crimes).

Even if Obama’s ideology means that he is celebrating the breakdown of America’s border, a high-functioning narcissist would recognize that the public doesn’t want to see the American president laughing about a man-created disaster our southern border. Laughter, however, is precisely what the president offered to the American people:

Obama thinks the border is a joke

Obama thinks the border is a joke 2

Looking at that picture, the first thought a mentally healthy person would have is “There’s something very wrong going on there.”  (As for the laughter from Obama’s entourage, we know he surrounds himself by “yes” men, so it’s not unreasonable for those same “yes” men to laugh when the boss laughs, no matter the absence of actual humor.)

It would be easy enough to pass off what happened in the Texas meeting if it weren’t for the fact that Obama was at it again just today. This morning, news broke that Malaysian Airlines, which already lost a plane with all its crew and passengers just a few months ago, once again lost a plane.

This time, if reports are accurate, pro-Russian forces in the Ukraine deliberately shot down a passenger jet traveling from Amsterdam to Malaya. All 295 people aboard the plane died, including 23 Americans.

No matter how one looks at the crash, it’s no laughing matter. There’s the human tragedy of so many deaths, there’s the national tragedy of so many American deaths, and there’s the international concern of Russian forces shooting down planes. Putin may have bitten off more than he can chew with his Ukraine adventure, but the fact remains that it’s a big deal when the Russian military kills close to 300 people, many of them Americans, and apparently does so intentionally.

So what does Obama do in the face of this big and serious deal? He gives the event a cursory 40 second salute and then, as if by the click of switch, reverts to his prepared remarks, smiling and cracking jokes:

The videos currently available don’t quite capture Obama’s bizarre emotional transition. It remains to the press, many of whom are or have been Obama supporters, to paint a picture of his emotional distance:

Even Piers Morgan (Piers Morgan!!) was shocked by Obama’s cavalier attitude towards a human tragedy and international problem:

Singer Josh Groban added his own two cents to Morgan’s comments:

Obama’s bizarre quips and laughter have also surfaced in connection with an increasingly voiced concern that he has created a serious constitutional crisis by ignoring Congress’s laws and creating his own.  The preceding 43 presidents, if they were challenged on the ground that they violated their constitutional oath, would strike back with carefully prepared remarks justifying their conduct and pointing to authority.

That’s not what Obama has done.  Instead, as Rich Lowry details, he’s once again engaged in peculiar and inappropriate flights of “humor”:

President Barack Obama styles himself a wit, and some of his best material lately has to do with his abuse of his powers.

“Middle-class families can’t wait for Republicans in Congress to do stuff,” Obama told a crowd on the Georgetown Waterfront on July 1. “So sue me.” Hilarity ensued.

He cracked them up in Austin last week. “You hear some of them,” he said, referring to Republicans, “‘sue him,’ ‘impeach him.’ Really? Really? For what? You’re going to sue me for doing my job?”

[snip]

It takes a truly blithe spirit to play the constitutional deformation of his office, and the ensuing congressional reaction, for laughs.

Once again, rational people must look at Obama’s misplaced jocularity and think to themselves “There’s something very wrong happening there.”

Going back to that laundry list, above, detailing the most common reasons for inappropriate laughter, it seems to me that there are only a few we can discount immediately, such as Tourette syndrome, Angelman syndrome, tic disorders, etc.

Others raise themselves as real possibilities.  Take substance abuse, for example.  Given Obama’s youthful problems with marijuana and cocaine, it’s perfectly reasonable to believe that, as the stresses of his office pile up (including the stress attendant upon setting up an imperial presidency), Obama is self-medicating.  There are also perennial rumors that both Obamas, Michelle and Barack, drink too much.

If there’s no substance abuse, Obama’s bizarre behavior could stem from an organic disorder.  This disorder could run the gamut from dementia and schizophrenia to a brain tumor.

Or, of course, and perhaps most likely, we could just be seeing the grandiose stylings of a malignant narcissist drunk with power.  Surrounded by his flunkies and acolytes, enjoying the permanent job security that comes with his race, and delighting in the downfall of a country he hates (his own, as it happens), Obama may perceive himself as a man without any of the limitations that confine ordinary people.  Nothing can touch him.

Regardless of the cause, when the president of what still is, just barely, the most powerful nation in the world begins to behave abnormally in public, people have to start worrying.  Whether our president is under the influence, crazy, ill, or just power mad, we Americans are suddenly finding ourselves in exactly the same position as Europeans of old who suffered through the madness brought about by hereditary monarchs in the grip of megalomanias that resulted from everything from inbreeding, to syphilis, to the mental corruption of absolute power.

UPDATE: I know I’m on the right track when I discover that Iowahawk is on the same track:

Israel is launching a limited ground offensive in Gaza

Israeli flagThere’s been a lot of discussion about whether Israel would follow up on her air bombardment with a ground offensive. On the pro side, if done correctly, it could potentially clear out Hamas forever, or at least disable it for the foreseeable future. On the con side, Israeli casualties, something that Israel always tries desperately to avoid.

It seems, though, as if the decision was made for Israel in the last 24 hours. The IDF killed around a dozen terrorists who were trying to sneak into Israel via a tunnel in Hamas:

Their objective (presumably discovered via searching the bodies) was to launch a major terrorist attack in Israel. This is a risk too great to take, so Israel is launching what it calls a limited ground offensive aimed at knocking out terrorist tunnels. Frankly, I’d be surprised if Israel was able to keep the ground offensive limited. These things tend to metastasize. Whatever happens, I will be rooting for the most moral military in the history of the world to defeat an enemy that is worse than the Nazis.

Ground operation in Gaza

Malaysian jet shot down open thread

My hair stylist was working his magic on me when I heard a newly arrived customer mention a downed Malaysian jet. I thought it peculiar that she should speak of it today when it had vanished so many months ago. It was so peculiar in fact that I braved my stylist’s displeasure and got out my iPhone to investigate — and discovered that a Malaysian Airlines plane was shot down over Ukraine today, and that there are no survivors.

I believe that we are witnessing the future of air travel. We long expected this as a terrorist tactic in the air over the Middle East. Now that it happened over Ukraine, we are reminded it can happen anywhere.

I think air travel will continue, but the routes will be circuitous to avoid terrorists and careless combatants in ongoing wars. It will certainly get more expensive.

This is me bloviating on an iPhone with limited information and a bunch of chemicals on my head. What do you think?

Wednesday night mostly (but not entirely) Middle East round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesJust some stuff that wandered across my screen:

-1-

Brendan O’Neill pulls no punches: It’s no coincidence that the rage against Israel sounds remarkably like anti-Semitism. This is an article that I shared with my “real me” Facebook friends, as I’m sharing dozens of other pro-Israel pieces. This time around, the war has to be fought not just on the front lines, but in the cyber world too, where we’re all combatants.

-2-

One of the things that makes it easier to share this information with my “real me” friends (most of whom are Democrats) is the fact that support for Israel is appearing in the media they trust. For example, Time Magazine ran an opinion piece by Rabbi Eric Yoffe about the immoral demand for proportionality in a fight between Israel, which goes to extraordinary length to protect civilians, both hers and theirs; and Hamas, which would put its own children in its rocket launchers if it thought it could kill more Jews that way.

Indeed, the Washington Post, which has long been hostile to Israel, has suddenly realized this unpalatable truth about the cause it’s so long championed:

Why would Hamas insist on continuing the fight when it is faring so poorly? The only plausible answer is stomach-turning: The Islamic movement calculates that it can win the concessions it has yet to obtain from Israel and Egypt not by striking Israel but by perpetuating the killing of its own people in Israeli counterattacks.

-3-

Jonah Goldberg turns his gimlet eye on the ridiculous claim that Israel is committing genocide in Hamas. If there’s a genocide in Hamas, Hamas is committing it against its own children:

-4-

Tom Rogan on the fact that Hamas is a dead-end, with an emphasis on the word “dead.” It’s a death cult. The fact that it will kill its own people pointlessly in a fight with Israel is irrelevant to it.  The fact that it will stand on nothing but dust at the end of the day is irrelevant to it.  It’s set to “kill” and can do nothing else.

-5-

Michael Totten crafts an exquisite insult against Hamas:

The Israelis are seriously considering a ground invasion since Hamas won’t stop firing, but they’ve already proved to the population of Gaza that Hamas, even with its all its longer-range missiles, is capable of inflicting no more damage on the Zionist Entity than a lone killer armed with only a steak knife.

-6-

Grotesque propaganda won’t save Hamas this time.  People now know what to look for:

-7-

You guys all know I have a special soft spot in my heart for Marines. That’s why I find stories about men such as the “Lion of Fallujah,” who served both the Marines and the CIA in Iraq, incredibly moving.

-8-

Pardon me for being crude, but maybe I like Marines because many of them seem to have bigger balls than the next guy — witness Gen. James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, speaking truth to power (his boss, President Obama) about the administration’s obvious missteps in the Middle East.

-9-

Charles Hurt says what intelligent people intuitively understand: If you make people pay directly for something, you cannot reasonably tell them they don’t have any say in the thing for which they’re paying — or in the economic consequences flowing from that purchase. Even if you shriek that the law gives them no voice, they still think they have a voice.

-10-

How many times have I said that one of the things that’s moving me away from being pro-Choice and towards pro-Life is the fact that the pro-Choice side of the equation is really a pro-Death viewpoint? I simply cannot find myself siding with people who turn infant and maternal death into an untouchable sacrament. But that is what they do, and this is nowhere shown more plainly than in a bill that Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D. Conn.) authored, removing all state control from abortions. (David French calls it the “Kermit Gosnell Enabling Act of 2014.”)

-11-

If I ever bothered to think about Simon Cowell, I pretty much thought of him as a genius impresario, and not much more. Now, though, I do think much more of him — he donated $150,000 to the Israeli Defense Force. Hurrah for Simon Cowell!

-12-

Pictures:

Good at making excuses

Holders view of critics

That awkward moment

You left the toilet seat up