The Bookworm Beat (10/29/14) — High blood pressure edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingI went to the doctor yesterday for an ear infection and discovered that I have high blood pressure. The doctor’s not treating the problem yet, in case my blood pressure was spiked from my ear pain. I certainly hope that’s transitory pain is the reason.  In two months, we’ll check again and see whether it’s reverted to normal or is still trying to make me look like one of those cartoon characters with steam coming out its ears. If the latter, I’ll really need to revisit how I handle all the stress in my life.

The chocolate treatment, apparently, is not working. Also unfortunately for me, the stuff about which I blog isn’t the stuff of zen moments. All of you should feel free to send me calming thoughts.

Two amazing Arabs (one Muslim, one Christian) speak about the Arab and the Leftist community’s responsibility for peace with Israel and the world

The first amazing Arab, Aly Salem, wrote an article about the disgraceful way in which American Progressives and other Leftists ignore Islam’s most revolting behaviors:

My own experience as a Muslim in New York bears this out. Socially progressive, self-proclaimed liberals, who would denounce even the slightest injustice committed against women or minorities in America, are appalled when I express a similar criticism about my own community.

Compare the collective response after each harrowing high-school shooting in America. Intellectuals and public figures look for the root cause of the violence and ask: Why? Yet when I ask why after every terrorist attack, the disapproval I get from my non-Muslim peers is visceral: The majority of Muslims are not violent, they insist, the jihadists are a minority who don’t represent Islam, and I am fear-mongering by even wondering aloud.

This is delusional thinking. Even as the world witnesses the barbarity of beheadings, habitual stoning and severe subjugation of women and minorities in the Muslim world, politicians and academics lecture that Islam is a “religion of peace.” Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia routinely beheads women for sorcery and witchcraft.

Salem’s article is behind a Wall Street Journal pay wall, but if you search for it by name on Google, you should be able to get a link that gives you free access.

The second amazing Arab is George Deek, a Christian Israeli-Arab diplomat living in Norway, who gave a speech recently in Oslo. If you don’t want to, or don’t have the time to, spend 30 minutes listening to the speech, you can read the transcript here.

Here’s just a small sample of what Deek has to say:

In the Arab world, the Palestinian refugees – including their children, their grandchildren and even their great-grandchildren – are still not settled, aggressively discriminated against, and in most cases denied citizenship and basic human rights. Why is it, that my relatives in Canada are Canadian citizens, while my relatives in Syria, Lebanon or the gulf countries – who were born there and know no other home – are still considered refugees?

Clearly, the treatment of the Palestinians in the Arab countries is the greatest oppression they experience anywhere. And the collaborators in this crime are no other than the international community and the United Nations. Rather than doing its job and help the refugees build a life, the international community is feeding the narrative of the victimhood.

The Obama administration finally has an enemy it hates more than the Tea Party: Israel

It’s already been a couple of days since Jeffrey Goldberg revealed that the Obama administration, headed by the King of Choom, has taken to calling Bibi Netanyahu, a battle-tested warrior, a “chickensh*t” coward. Nevertheless, I’d like to share with you my favorite post on the subject, from Danielle Pletka, at AEI. She immediately hones in on the disgusting manipulation and lies that characterize the Obama dealings that then led to the vulgar insult:

Lots of twitter today over an important piece by Jeffrey Goldberg in the Atlantic about the crisis in US-Israel relations. Most have focused on the Obama administration “senior official” sourced comment that Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu is “chickenshit.” The full quote is worth reading:

“The good thing about Netanyahu is that he’s scared to launch wars,” the official said, expanding the definition of what a chickenshit Israeli prime minister looks like. “The bad thing about him is that he won’t do anything to reach an accommodation with the Palestinians or with the Sunni Arab states. The only thing he’s interested in is protecting himself from political defeat. He’s not [Yitzhak] Rabin, he’s not [Ariel] Sharon, he’s certainly no [Menachem] Begin. He’s got no guts.”

Goldberg has his own take on the accusation, and plants blame for the mutual antipathy squarely on the Israeli side. He’s a thoughtful analyst, and he’s not wrong that the Israelis have been, to put it diplomatically, incautious, in their approach to the Obama team. Nor are critics entirely wrong when they suggest that internal politicking – and not peace process politique – have been behind recent Israeli settlement decisions. But that analysis fails to adequately appreciate the fons et origo of the slow-mo disaster that has been US-Israel relations under Barack Obama, and does readers a disservice by laying out the rather shocking notion that team Obama thinks he has somehow played the Israelis into… allowing Iran to have a nuclear weapon. Here’s “another senior official” with whom Goldberg spoke (speaking of chickenshit; um, what about going on the record?):

“It’s too late for him to do anything. Two, three years ago, this was a possibility. But ultimately he couldn’t bring himself to pull the trigger. It was a combination of our pressure and his own unwillingness to do anything dramatic. Now it’s too late.”

Let’s get this straight: Bibi et al, who have what most would agree is a legitimate and existential fear of an Iranian nuclear weapon, are “good” because they’re, er “chickenshit” about launching a strike on Iran; oh, and Bibi is also labeled a “coward” for having been “chickenshit” in that regard. But he’s “bad” because he won’t cave to a Palestinian Authority and Hamas so riven by terrorism, corruption and incompetence that they won’t “accommodate” with each other.

How can we read this as anything other than an appalling display of hypocrisy, hostility to Israel and warmth toward the very powers that have killed almost as many Americans (Iran, Hamas, et al) as al Qaeda? Did team Obama label Ahmadinejad as “chickenshit”? Have they labeled the Qataris, who arm and fund ISIS at the same time that they buy US weapons as “chickenshit”?

Read the rest here.

What will the upcoming elections mean for Israel?

Richard Baehr examines how the upcoming elections might affect Obama’s relationship with Israel. I think, after reading Baehr’s analysis, that the takeaway message is that, whether Obama keeps his Senate or loses it, he’s going to do his damndest to screw Israel. Tell me if you agree with my assessment.

If you think the government is out to get you, you’re correct

The New York Times turns in a surprisingly good article about the way in which the IRS is simply stealing people’s money, without even a pretense of Due Process. The opening paragraphs set the tone:

For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. For just as long, she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account, almost $33,000.

The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes — in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report.

“How can this happen?” Ms. Hinders said in a recent interview. “Who takes your money before they prove that you’ve done anything wrong with it?”

The federal government does.

Using a law designed to catch drug traffickers, racketeers and terrorists by tracking their cash, the government has gone after run-of-the-mill business owners and wage earners without so much as an allegation that they have committed serious crimes. The government can take the money without ever filing a criminal complaint, and the owners are left to prove they are innocent. Many give up.

This is something I’ve known about for some time because, back in the early 2000s, I worked on a case involving federal seizure and forfeiture.  In America’s efforts to stop bad guys, we let the camel’s nose in the tent with this one.  The government camel is now fully in the tent, destroying everything in sight.

I’d like to think that a Republican congress, aided by a Republican president, would rein in this travesty, but I doubt it. Remember — they all get paid out of the same federal pot of money, so they all (judges, congressmen, bureaucrats, executives) have a vested interest in maintaining a system that robs from Americans to give to the government.  Reagan was right in principle, but will prove to have been wrong in practice:

Reagan on we the people

Moonbats try to debate gun rights

I don’t know how he made it happen, but Charles C. W. Cooke (of National Review) was able to get an opinion piece about blacks and gun rights published in The New York Times. It’s very good, of course, although it doesn’t say anything that we pro-Second Amendment people don’t already know — you know, stuff about the way in which the Jim Crow, Democrat-run South tried to keep guns away from blacks so as to terrorize and kill them more easily, and how law-abiding blacks are still sitting ducks for the worst malefactors in society.

It’s a good essay, and one that I highly recommend, but the really fun reading material is what you find at the comments, as the usual NYT cadre of moonbats tries to escape and evade little things like facts and logic. Here are some examples from the 219 comments the Times allowed to stand before closing the comments section. You’ll notice that the ones I culled (which are from the top reader-approved comments) haven’t bothered with any facts at all, but are strong on ad hominem, bootstrapping arguments:

Brian A. Kirkland North Brunswick, NJ 3 days ago
“The poor and the black”, uh huh.

I don’t care how you paint it, this is the most convoluted irrational argument I’ve read in some time. Are you making the case that African-Americans need to arm themselves to take on the racist government? Are you saying that the answer to racist is armed resistance? You might be right, but does someone from National Review really mean that or are you making a Rand Paul gambit, to say anything that will get those, slow witted, African-Americans to go along?

No, son, you’re not going to make the picture of Malcolm, protecting his home after it’d been bombed, an icon for Caucasians. And, though there were armed African-Americans at some of those rallies, most were Caucasians, come to take their country back from the black guy. Let’s not be silly here.

You are not interested in the lives of African-American, except as a voting block to support your obsession with gun culture. We have enough access to guns. If you want a gun for personal protection you can have one.

Lots of African-Americans are like lots of Caucasians; we own guns, like fine wine, speak English well, are like other human beings. This is not news.

By the way, the NAACP is publicly supporting Marissa Alexander. https://donate.naacp.org/page/event/detail/wl3 Like all of your ilk, facts don’t matter much to you, do they?

***

Rima Regas is a trusted commenter Mission Viejo, CA 3 days ago
Where to begin…

I’m glad you support the Huey P. Newton Gun Club, out of some equal rights magnanimity that is uncharacteristic of someone on the right. Using that magnanimity as the vehicle from which to take a swipe at the NAACP, Reverend Sharpton and, Malcolm X, no less, is disingenuous, to be kind.

The problem isn’t that blacks can’t get as many guns as whites. The problem is that an increasing number of white cops feel perfectly comfortable using their guns on black men, when they should be remembering the oath they pledged and refrain from doing harm onto a fellow citizen.

John Crawford III, Mike Brown, Vonderrit Myers, and all of the other young black men who’ve died recently were unarmed young men who died at the hand of an armed policemen who used a supposed fear for their lives as justification to shoot to kill. No gun would have saved these young men.

A country that has as many guns as it has citizens is one that has too many guns.

#BlackLivesMatter is about the cessation of police brutality on young black men. It has no bearing on the gun rights of whites or blacks. Using Jim Crow to advance the right to bear arms is the cynical use of a false equivalency in order to make an unrelated point.

Nice try…

***

agathajrw Minnsota 3 days ago
This is the most sorry excuse for an opinion piece published in the nytimes that I’ve ever read. It is a blatant advertisement for the NRA and the gun industry. To say that those of us who have been life long advocates for gun control were inextricably linked to racism before 1970 is shameful.

***

Jim Phoenix 3 days ago
This is insane. There is an epidemic of gun violence killing young black men, and this guy thinks the black community needs more guns.

***

Ecce Homo Jackson Heights, NY 3 days ago
What magnificent sleight of hand! Mr. Cooke turns the mindless proliferation of high-power weaponry into a conservative bulwark against racism. I can’t help but admire his rhetorical agility.

The fact is that African-Americans are victims of violence, including gun violence, at staggering rates. Ours is a society where homicide is justified by reasonable fear and fear of a Black Man is reasonable, almost per se. Arming African-Americans won’t help. Disarming white Americans will.

politicsbyeccehomo.wordpress.com

You know why we will never change liberal’s minds? Because they have no minds. They exist in a bizarre world of people with empty heads and jerky knees. For more information where I stand on guns, you can go here.

The Obama economy is not happy

Happy days are not here again under Obama. Just as Roosevelt, that Leftist darling, managed to worsen the Depression, Obama, another even more Leftist darling, has managed to turn in the worst non-recession economic performance in at least 100 years. This is what happens when you put a socialist in charge of the economy.

On the lighter side, here’s a nice joke about capitalism.

Barack Obama, in his own words

Ed Lasky has done yeoman’s work pulling together Obama’s own words to paint a picture of a very angry man who lusts after power, hates America and white people, and generally wants to see socialism become the law of the land. Here’s a sample (hyperlinks omitted):

The Constitution is just a piece of parchment to him and he blames it and the Founding Fathers for making the fulfillment of his goal to “fundamentally transform America” harder to achieve.

Obama willfully dismissed ISIS as a threat, demoting them to JayVee status. Obama has dismissed threats from Al Qaeda repeatedly bragging that Al Qaeda was decimated and on the run on the path to defeat and then defeated — a claim Obama has made over 30 times. In the real world, Al Qaeda and its offshoot, the JayVee ISIS, now occupy more territory and has far more wealth and power than it ever had before. It is on the run, alright, towards a city and shopping center near you. But rest assured, Obama tells us, they are defeated and the tide of war is receding. He barely reacts but recreates instead. The world is more tranquil than ever before because of Obama’s leadership. Does it feel that way to most Americans?

There’s a reason Democrats are opposed to voter ID

Yes, this is old news by now, but I can’t resist posting it on my own blog:

How many non-citizens participate in U.S. elections? More than 14 percent of non-citizens in both the 2008 and 2010 samples indicated that they were registered to vote. Furthermore, some of these non-citizens voted. Our best guess, based upon extrapolations from the portion of the sample with a verified vote, is that 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008 and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010.

[snip]

Because non-citizens tended to favor Democrats (Obama won more than 80 percent of the votes of non-citizens in the 2008 CCES sample), we find that this participation was large enough to plausibly account for Democratic victories in a few close elections. Non-citizen votes could have given Senate Democrats the pivotal 60th vote needed to overcome filibusters in order to pass health-care reform and other Obama administration priorities in the 111th Congress.

The obligatory video showing the debate audience laughing at Dem candidate who tries to invoke “War on Women” shtick

A study about flu vaccinations for the elderly is a microcosm of the whole climate change so-called “science” debacle

We’ve discussed at length on this blog the fact that climate change is no longer a science but a faith. Why? Because it has become an unfalsifiable, infallible doctrine. No matter how often a hypothesis fails to be borne out by data, the sciences do a quick twist in mid air and, just before hitting ground, announce that the failure, rather than refuting the whole anthropogenic climate change theory, actually proves the theory to be true.  In fact, as often as not, the fact that the theory utterly failed is even better proof that we’re approaching climate Armageddon.  So you see, it’s faith, not science.

Well, that same “faith over science” problem reared its head in the world of vaccination studies and with equally deadly effect:

An important and definitive “mainstream” government study done nearly a decade ago got little attention because the science came down on the wrong side. It found that after decades and billions of dollars spent promoting flu shots for the elderly, the mass vaccination program did not result in saving lives. In fact, the death rate among the elderly increased substantially.

The authors of the study admitted a bias going into the study. Here was the history as described to me: Public health experts long assumed flu shots were effective in the elderly. But, paradoxically, all the studies done failed to demonstrate a benefit. Instead of considering that they, the experts, could be wrong–instead of believing the scientific data–the public health experts assumed the studies were wrong. After all, flu shots have to work, right?

You can read more here about a decidedly unscientific approach to science that has led to innumerable unnecessary deaths amongst the elderly.

The joke that is the Left’s obsession with diversity

A friend of mine has tackled the fatuousness of the Left’s obsession with diversity. Since my friend is extremely intelligent, not to mention a most elegant writer, the Left comes off looking ridiculous.

Good stuff at the Watcher’s Council

I’ve been a bit overwhelmed lately (hence the high blood pressure), so I’ve been remiss in passing on to you a few cool links for the Watcher’s Council.

First, Council members weigh in with their very specific predictions for the upcoming election.

Second, Council members have nominated exceptionally weasel-like people to be the Weasel of the Week.

Third, the Watcher’s Council nominations are in. I’ll link to all of the nominations in a separate post, but you can check them out at the Watcher’s Council site here.

Lovely pictures of classic Hollywood stars and their knitting

In the old days, before blogging became a compulsion, I kept my hands busy with knitting. I have a slightly peculiar technique, because I’m a left-hander taught by right-handers, but I also have, if I do say so myself, a very beautiful stitch. During my knitting heyday, I used to love collecting knitting books, especially books about the history of knitting (with this one being my favorite).

What the old books allude to, but don’t address in detail, is how much knitting took place (maybe still takes place?) on Hollywood sets. If you’d like to know more about that practice, or if you’d just like to look at wonderful pictures of gorgeous Hollywood stars knitting back in the day, check out this post at Seraphic Secret.

XXX If you’re looking for a good deed….

My fellow Watcher’s Council member Greg, who blogs at Rhymes with Right, was deeply moved by the plight of New Beginnings Church in Chicago. After its pastor, Corey Booker, broke ranks and endorsed Republicans, his church was promptly vandalized and robbed. That robbery is a huge setback for the Church’s planned expansion. If you go here, Greg explains how you can help the church out.

Do you sense a little bit of bias in this survey?

On my Facebook page, two of my friends linked to a “survey” that hinted that it was actually created on California Governor Jerry Brown’s behalf so that he can learn Californian’s opinions about what the state should do with regard to climate change. I clicked on over and got this priceless first page:

California League of Conservation Voters push poll

So that’s what it looks like when special interest groups manipulate the people.

Comparing and contrasting immigration and assimilation in the Middle East

Let me preface this by saying that I have a super-smart, really well-informed cousin.  He’s the one who used to be a prison chaplain and, based upon that experience, came up with a profound insight that I use over and over (most recently regarding the terrible beheading murder in Oklahoma):

It is not a contradiction to be a Muslim and a murderer, even a mass murderer. That is one reason why criminals “convert” to Islam in prison. They don’t convert at all; they similarly [sic] remain the angry judgmental vicious beings they always have been. They simply add “religious” diatribes to their personal invective. Islam does not inspire a crisis of conscience, just inspirations to outrage.

My cousin was brilliant all over again this morning, when I posted on my Facebook page an image showing that, while everyone focuses on the small number of Palestinians who refused to assimilate into Israel, the world ignores the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were ethnically cleansed from Arab and Muslim nations from 1948 onward:

The real displaced people of the Middle East

Here’s my cousin’s incredibly erudite, off-the-cuff comment about immigration and assimilation in the Middle East:

The main difference between Israel and the Arabs is a question of humanity toward refugees. Israel was in dire poverty in the era of Mizrachi (i.e., Sephardic immigration from 1948-57). No UN relief money was given to Israel to assimilate 900,000 Mizrachi refugees, who arrived with no money, and no possessions, but with plenty of medical problems (especially eye infections).

The existing Ashkenazi leadership in Israel was horrified by the Mizrachi refugees’ medical problems, lack of language skills( a specially bad problem with Yemenite refugees), and domestic violence. Impoverished Israel first settled the Mizrachi refugees in tent camps, then in hastily constructed settlements on the frontiers.

Within three generations, the results of assimilation are overwhelmingly obvious. Israeli is a homogeneous country, bound by a single Israeli culture and is one of the most educationally and economically successfully nations in the world.

The exact reverse happened with the Palestinians. They have been afforded UNRWA refugee status for 66 years. This contrasts with the UN’s behavior to all other refugees after WWII, who were only given refugee status for 5 years. The Arabs’ recurrent wars against Israel are partially facilitated by UNRWA, especially insofar as it provides safe houses for terrorists and their weapons and produces “educational” curriculum that features genocidal, virulent hatred of Jews.

The Palestinian refugees, rather than making their way to a new, safe land, retreated 10 to 20 miles at most from the homes they abandoned. This contrasts with the thousands of miles that the Mizrachi Jews had to traverse to find safety.

The Arabs have waged an anti-Israel propaganda war based upon the continued existence of these UNRWA supported Palestinian “refugees.” Because of their peculiar status, one that encourages them to think of themselves as perpetual victims and displaced people, the Palestinians have been their own worst enemy. A good example is the fact that Kuwait expelled 400,000 Palestinians after Yassir Arafat openly supported Saddam Hussein’s war on Kuwait. (An act that provides that another good example of Arab/Muslim support for ethnic cleansing!)

Madam Bookworm’s crystal ball predictions in 2009 about Saudi Arabia proved to be eerily accurate *UPDATED*

As I read the headlines lately, I have this peculiar sense of deja vu.  I already pointed out that, back in 2009, a conversation I had with a liberal doctor fairly accurately predicted how Obamacare would play out (although even I didn’t foresee the exchange collapse, perhaps because no one was talking about exchanges in mid-2009).

I had another deja vu moment today when I read Michael Totten’s article about the collapse in the American-Saudi relationship:

The American-Saudi alliance is in danger of collapsing.

The Syrian-Iranian-Hezbollah axis is by far the largest threat to both Saudi and American interests in the Middle East now, yet the Obama administration is buddying up with Vladimir Putin on Syria and allowing itself to be suckered by the Iranian regime’s new president Hassan Rouhani.

Never mind the fact that Rouhani obviously isn’t a moderate and is powerless to negotiate sovereign issues in any case. The White House is so desperate to cut a deal with America’s enemies that the president will go along on even a farcical ride. As a result, the Saudi government is threatening to drastically “scale back” the relationship.

The Saudi-American relationship’s collapse means that the Saudis are trying to figure out how to handle the PR problems of their burgeoning supportive relationship with Israel:

Either way, if the Saudis want to get real, it’s time for them to suck it up and normalize relations with Israel for the same reason they forged an alliance with the United States. The Israelis and the Gulf Arabs have the exact same geopolitical interests right now. They have the exact same list of enemies. Who cares if Riyadh and Jerusalem can’t stand each other personally? Riyadh and Washington can’t stand each other personally either. That hasn’t stopped us from working together when our interests coincide.

Of course, an alliance with Israel would be a little more awkward (to say the least) while the Palestinians are still stateless, but so what? The Jordanian government worked it out and is in far better shape as a result.

[snip]

It’s logical, isn’t it? Israel poses no threat whatsoever to Gulf Arabs and never has. Israel poses no threat to any Arab country that doesn’t act with belligerence first. The Jordanians figured that out a long time ago. So did the Egyptian government even if Egypt’s population remains as clueless as ever. The Tunisians figured it out. The Moroccans get along with Israel just fine under the table.

The open secret right now is that the Gulf Arabs have also figured it out even as they’re loath to admit it in public. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is not-so secretly working with all the Arab states in the Gulf region right now based on shared (anti-Iranian) interests.

The above is Michael Totten writing yesterday, and I urge you to read the whole thing because it’s that good.

And here’s the Amazing Madam Bookworm writing on May 7, 2009:

Obama and team, of course, miss one fundamental thing about the nuclear weapons situation in the Middle East.  As surrounding nations understand, Israel will never use the weapons offensively.  She will only use them defensively. They are her sole deterrent.

The other nations also understand that, much as they loath Israel’s existence, which is a continuing canker in their hearts and minds, she does not offer any existential threat to them.  The reverse is not true.  We know that every nation in the region desires Israel’s destruction and there is every reason to believe that Iran, once it goes nuclear, will use the weapons offensively against Israel.  There is no parity, and forcing Israel to put her weapons on the table (so to speak), will not create any.

The other thing that Obama fails to understand is that, even if Israel is forced to show her hand and the pressure is on for disarmament, Iran will never disarm.  It will lie, lie, lie, and lie again to ensure that it continues to have a usable weapons stock pile.  While Israel’s goal is a simple one:  to stay alive, Iran has a much more sophisticated set of three-tiered goals.  Its first goal is Israel’s destruction; second, it seeks Middle East domination; and third, it desires world domination.  Israel and all of the other nations in the Middle East understand Iran’s first two goals.  Obama and team, despite their myriad degrees, don’t seem to understand any of Iran’s goals.

It will be interesting to see if Israel can withstand Obama’s pressure.  I’m reasonably optimistic that, with Netanyahu at the helm, Israel understands what Obama is doing and understands what will happen if he gets away with it, and will resist this threat.  I also think that, under the rubric of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” allegiances are going to start shifting in the Middle East.  Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, etc., may hate Israel, but they fear a nuclear Iran even more than they hate Israel.  My long-held suspicion since Obama’s election (which instantly meant Israel lost her only friend) is that Saudi Arabia, somehow or other, is going to give Israel cover for an attack against Iran.

Nor was that a random prediction.  I said the same thing on July 5, 2009:

I’ve predicted in this blog that, if America continues to coddle Iran, Saudi Arabia will give Israel access to its air space, although it may well lie about that fact later.  Iran’s bluster was fine with the Arab Muslim nations as long as they thought the U.S. would ultimately slap down any Iranian pretensions to regional hegemony.  With that clearly not the case any more, the game is changing and the players are taking new (and, if I do say so myself, predictable) positions on the board:

The head of Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence service, has assured Benjamin Netanyahu, its prime minister, that Saudi Arabia would turn a blind eye to Israeli jets flying over the kingdom during any future raid on Iran’s nuclear sites.

Saudi Arab is not the only one to reconsider the world order now that America is a suddenly a weak sister.  Perhaps the rest of the world will drift away from Marxism and coddling Muslim extremism as America becomes a mere spectator and — worse — a spectator that tends to cheer on the bad guys.

Like the teenager who can act wild, knowing that Daddy will ultimately be there to protect her, Europeans (and others) could afford to be weak and silly, knowing that America would come along and clean up their messes.  With Daddy in a coma, Europeans have to stand on their own, and I think their choices are going to be quite different than they were before.

Now that I’m done patting myself on the back, it’s incumbent upon me to add that it didn’t take a genius to figure these things out.  A person with the meanest intelligence, armed with a few facts, could have made exactly the same predictions.  What is also true, though, is that it takes the peculiar idiocy of the Democrat elite to have made such stunningly stupid miscalculations — miscalculations so rife with errors that even dodos such as me could figure out, not only that Democrat policies would fail, but precisely how they would fail.

UPDATEJonathan Spyer makes the same point:

Recent remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have fueled renewed speculation of behind-the-scenes links between Israel and the Gulf monarchies.

Netanyahu, speaking at the UN, said that “the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbors to recognize, finally recognize, that Israel is not their enemy.”

He added: “This affords us the opportunity to overcome the historic animosities and build new relationships, new friendships, new hopes.”

There have been subsequent rumors of visits by senior Gulf officials to Israel, to discuss matters of common interest.

While it is difficult to acquire details of these contacts at the present time, it is a near certainty that they exist, on one level or another. Conversations with Israeli officials suggest that much is happening behind the scenes.

Israel and the key states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (most importantly, Saudi Arabia) share core views on the nature of key regional processes currently underway, and their desired outcome.  These commonalities have existed for some time, and it is likely that the contacts are themselves not all that new.

Read more here.

Hmmm. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Oh, wait! I did say it myself . . . more than four years ago.

Two posts that I thought you’d find interesting

These posts are completely unrelated.  They both came through my inbox, though, and both intrigued me.

The first is from David Swindle, explaining why he hates Game of Thrones.  I couldn’t agree more, both with the comment from “Recovering Lutheran” that David quotes at the top of his post and with David’s own take on the show.  It’s typical HBO fare, and HBO leans to the left of Left.  It’s Pravda TV, aimed at using “documentaries” and movies to undermine basic American beliefs and values.

The second is about the Arabs’ long game against Israel, with their anti-Zionist message, which hides a push for Jewish genocide, gradually triumphing in the world’s mind over Israel’s push for freedom and her existence as the sole democracy in a world of Muslim tyranny.

Making people aware of Obama’s peculiar fondness for the Muslim Brotherhood

The only problem I have with this video is the narrator’s voice.  It grates on me.  Otherwise, I think the video says things that need to be said, and I hope it gets lots of air play:

And while we’re on the subject, the Washington Examiner, in its sterling multipart series about the Obama we don’t know (because American reporters refused to do their job), has a whole chapter devoted to Obama’s strong Arab-American connection. Incidentally, there’s nothing wrong with a strong Arab-American connection, because there is no ipso facto wrong about any group of hyphenated Americans — unless, of course, as is the case with Obama’s friends, they have ties to terrorist groups and keep getting prosecuted for corruption.

Further thoughts on events in the Middle East and, especially, on the feckless Obama administration

First of all, it appears that the suspicions I voiced yesterday about the film that started it all are, if not true, at least headed in the right direction.  Poynter has a post detailing all the peculiarities about the film — the lies, the misdirection, and the purpose behind it (to incite violence).  It was a head-fake from the beginning.

Second of all, you all have probably heard the stories that Ambassador Stevens was sodomized and mutilated either before or after he was killed.  Right now, these are unconfirmed rumors, but there is every reason to believe that they are true.

When it comes to Muslim Arab culture, how self-delusional were all these people on the Left not to have figured out that there are some cultural stereotypes about Muslim Arabs that live on because they keep proving them to be true: They cook outstanding food, they abuse their women, they kill homosexuals, and they rape and mutilate any of their enemies unlucky enough to have fallen into their hands.

My parents came of age in 1930s and 1940s Palestine, so I’ve heard about Arab culture my entire life (and my parents had lots of Arab friends, Christians admittedly, whom they valued greatly.)  Muslim Arab culture is a brutal one predicated on power, both physical and, especially, sexual. They are adequate friends and horrible enemies. Does this hold true for every single Muslim Arab in the world? Of course not. But it’s true enough for a sufficient percentage of them that we ought to be very guarded in our dealings with them.

Speaking of being guarded in our dealings with them, that guard should include having actual security guards. Too bad Valerie Jarrett didn’t loan some of her guards to the Libyan embassy, which had no American security detail; or maybe she could have given some of the bullets that her guards carry to the Egyptian embassy, where the guards were denied live ammo.

As it was during the Carter years, this is amateur hour at the Ritz. The problem that, when America goes amateur, not only Americans die, but everyone starts taking hits. Without strong leadership from a nation dedicated to individual freedom, you pretty much end up with a pack of rabid wild dogs controlling the world’s zeitgeist.

Dealing with an “honor” culture

“Honor” cultures are incredibly hierarchical.  You’re either up or you’re down.  And you’re always down if you let your honor go unavenged.  Worse than that, if you’re down, you deserve all the abuse and violence that can be heaped upon you.  Honor cultures value people higher in the food chain, but have little to no sympathy for those lower on the food chain.

Grim, writing at Blackfive shows his understanding of this honor culture by saying that the only way America can retain (or regain?) any semblance of standing in the Arab Middle East is to act against the culprits — no hand wringing allowed.

Speaking of hand wringing, I can already hear the liberal apologists:  “If we start the cycle of vengeance, it will never end.”

Well, here’s a reality check for all those apologists — it’s never going to end anyway.  This is not an example of a foolish feud spiraling out of control, a la the Hatfields and the McCoys. It is instead, a case of two entirely antithetical world views, with one of them constantly, and violently, striving for dominance.  We can stand up for ourselves or we can surrender. In an existential war, he who surrenders dies.

There are two sides to every story, especially when the stories are about Israel

Israel Matzav found a post in which two Arab-American women explain how horribly Israel treated them, when it questioned them at Ben Gurion and then deported them from Israel.  Interestingly, although the young women complain mightily about their treatment at Israel’s hands, they never do state explicitly that they harbor no ill-will towards that nation.  Perhaps this omission was deliberate, as Carl discovered when he investigated them a bit more closely.

The Arab world: too habituated to fighting to give it up?

You realize this means war!

When I was growing up, we socialized with a lot of Arabs — from Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Syria, etc.  I don’t know why that was possible back then — if we were anomalies or if, back in the 1970s, the hatreds of the Middle East hadn’t yet made it to America.  It probably helped that most of these Arabs were Christians, although not all were.  I remember these people very fondly, and the lavish meals they prepared are forever enshrined in my memory.

It was at one of these meals that a young woman from Damascus told me something that is also forever enshrined in my memory.  Arabs, she said, are programmed to fight.  It’s in their nature.  Imagine yourself offering a group of Arabs a plate of cookies, she told me.  You say “Would you like a cookie?”  In the West, they would say “Yes, please” or “No, thank you.”  In the Arab world, one will say “Those aren’t cookies, they’re tea cakes.”  And another will jump up and say, “Tea cakes, you fool?  Those are biscuits.”  Then, a third will grab at the plate, spilling it on the floor, and say “You idolators!  Those are crackers.”  Then, she told me, before you know it, the food is being ground into dust on the floor as the Arabs in the room fight to death to force the others to yield to the label the wish to affix on those cookies (or tea cakes, or biscuits, or crackers).  Arabs, she said, won’t know peace until they learn how to stop fighting.

Have you got that little anecdote fixed firmly in your head?  Good.  Now read this news story Sadie sent me:

Fifteen people were killed or injured in tribal fighting in Yemen after a male donkey chased an ass and raped it just near the house of its owner.

Newspapers in Yemen said the owner of the ass got mad after he saw the donkey attacking his animal, prompting him to chase the donkey and hit it.

The attack infuriated the donkey owner, who called his armed tribe men and asked them to take revenge.

“The problem snowballed into an armed fight between Makabis tribe, which owns the donkey, and Bani Abbas which owns the ass…15 people were either killed or injured in the battle,” the Saudi Arabic language daily Aleqtisadiah said, quoting newspapers in Yemen.

Read the rest here.

Let me repeat what that lovely Syrian lady told me all those years ago:  Arabs won’t know peace until they learn how to stop fighting.

Two very different shame/honor cultures

Years ago, I read in an Efraim Karsh book something to the effect that the Arab honor culture is actually a shame culture.  That is, in America, honor is a personal standard, one by which we measure ourselves.  Arab honor, however, is a public face one presents to the world.  If something goes wrong, shame kicks in, and it is that shame that leads to so-called “honor killings.”

Japan is also a shame/honor culture, one in which a loss of honor is manifested by public shame, rather than private embarrassment.

What’s interesting is the way in which the two different cultures react to what the Japanese so elegantly call a “loss of face.”  The Japanese person whose honor has been lost to a public shaming dispatches himself.  He quits his job or, if he’s a hidebound (or masochistic) traditionalist, he commits seppuku (aka hara kiri).  In any event, he expunges the shameful loss of honor by expunging himself.

In the Arab culture, however, the Arab person whose honor has been lost to a public shaming dispatches the one who destroyed his honor.  That is, he expunges the shameful loss of honor by expunging someone else, be it his wife, his daughter, his daughter’s boyfriend, a corporation, or a country.

I don’t have any conclusions to draw from this.  It’s just something I was thinking about when I was discussing the two cultures with a friend.