The Bookworm Beat 10-14-15 — the hot quick links edition, and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265So much to share with you, and so many demands on my time. I’ll make it quick, tantalizing you with short links to wonderful things:

We know the other media outlets are hostile to Israel, but is it possible that Fox News is also turning on Israel? CAMERA has caught it doing exactly the same thing as CNN or the BBC — blaming Israel, the only pluralist, democratic, modern, humanitarian country in the region for the ferocious, malignant, blindly hate-filled upsurge in terrorism unleashed against ordinary Israelis. (As you know, a Saudi owns a significant share in Fox TV. Israel’s friends have long been concerned that this might affect Fox’s objectivity with regard to Israel. I’m not saying that this ownership explains Fox’s slip-ups, though. I just note the ownership in passing.)

Here’s the deal:  When Fox News and John Kerry are agreed about something, you know that (a) Fox is in error and (b) there’s the possibility that something is very, very, very wrong over at Fox.

For those who like stories about dystopian futures, Richard Fernandez has a humdinger, imagining the year 2030 in a world lost to Obama’s foreign policies.

Just this past weekend, a national conference for teachers and administrators convened in Baltimore to discuss what’s really wrong with America’s education system. If you thought they were focusing on fatherless families, union depredations on school districts and students, and meaningless, politically correct education, you thought wrong. It’s you — you, the white person over there, hiding in the corner — who is what’s wrong with education. Zombie explains what’s going on, but you’d have to be crazy or a Leftist really to understand the dynamic.

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Dear Dr. Krauthammer: Please stifle your inner Canadian on “gun control” *UPDATED*

Never about guns always about controlLet me start by saying that I think Charles Krauthammer is one of the most brilliant, thoughtful, informed conservative thinkers around.  About eighty percent of the time when I read something he’s written I find myself nodding my head in agreement or exclaiming enthusiastically (and yes, I talk to myself) “That’s right!  I never thought of that.”  But when Dr. Krauthammer is wrong, well, he needs to be called on it in the same way as anyone else would be — and Dr. Krauthammer committed a doozy of a wrong in his most recent article about the Democrats’ inevitable anti-gun Kabuki performance in the wake of the shooting in Roseburg, Oregon.

If you read Dr. Krauthammer’s article, he’s correct about his two most pertinent points:  One, the Democrats’ posturings are theater, and two, they really want to confiscate guns.  The problem is with Dr. Krauthammer’s inner Canadian, which managed to ooze out in the middle of his otherwise excellent discussion (emphasis mine):

The reason the debate is so muddled, indeed surreal — notice, by the way, how “gun control” has been cleverly rechristened “commonsense gun-safety laws,” as if we’re talking about accident proofing — is that both sides know that the only measure that might actually prevent mass killings has absolutely no chance of ever being enacted.


As for the only remotely plausible solution, Obama dare not speak its name. He made an oblique reference to Australia, never mentioning that its gun-control innovation was confiscation, by means of a mandatory buyback. 

Dear Dr. Krauthammer — disarming law-abiding citizens does not work.  Guns are tools.  What matters is the culture, not the tools. Canada has so far been blessed with a fairly homogeneous Anglo-Saxon culture that reflects the 19th century Britisher’s respect for the law. The absence of gun violence in that country isn’t because of the absence of guns, but because of the absence of violence. When violence creeps in, guns both a sword and — very significantly — a shield.  Take away the shield, and all you’re left with is a sword with the point at innocent people’s throats.

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Hillary’s lastest speech on gun control — or, do Leftists even bother to listen to themselves anymore?

Mao and gun bansHillary has been taunting the NRA and its members:

Hillary Clinton is ramping up her rhetoric on guns, comparing the National Rifle Association (NRA) to global adversaries she negotiated with as secretary of State.

“You know, the NRA’s position reminds me of negotiating with the Iranians or the communists,” [Mrs.] Clinton said at an Iowa town hall on Wednesday. . . .

“The NRA tries to keep gun owners—the ones who are members—really upset all the time so they can keep collecting their money, because they tell them they’re the only thing that’s going to stop the black helicopters from landing in the front yard and people’s guns being seized,” Clinton said. “That’s the argument they make. And it works with some people and it has turned a lot of people into absolutists themselves.”

James Taranto makes mincemeat out of the simultaneously risible and invidious comparison between the NRA and the free world’s arch enemies, as well as about Hillary’s much publicized flip-flops on the trade agreement, so I won’t address those points here.

I wanted to address an entirely different point. According to Hillary, the NRA is a disgraceful fear-mongering organization that manipulates its members by telling them things that Hillary implies are false. And what are these falsehoods the NRA tells? “[T]hey [the NRA] tell them [NRA members] they’re the only thing that’s going to stop the black helicopters from landing in the front yard and people’s guns being seized.”

We’ll accept the bit about the black helicopters as acceptable rhetorical hyperbole, akin to puffery in advertising. Everyone listening understands that the “black helicopters” to which she refers are a stand-in for “the government.” And what does the NRA falsely tell people that “the government” is going to do? Well, if you look past Hillary’s passive voice construction, the NRA is telling its members that the government is going to seize their guns. And that, says Hillary, is a lie being used on feeble-minded mouth breathers who are all married to their siblings and have never seen The New York Times.

Funnily enough, though, that’s exactly what President Obama is proposing (and that every registered Democrat on my Facebook feed enthusiastically supports). He’s praised Australia’s approach to gun violence:

“Couple of decades ago, Australia had a mass shooting, similar to Columbine or Newtown. And Australia just said, well, that’s it, we’re not doing, we’re not seeing that again, and basically imposed very severe, tough gun laws, and they haven’t had a mass shooting since,” said the president in a pre-arranged session held to discuss his plans to help cut student debt.

More than that, he’s said he’d like to see Australia’s and England’s gun laws enacted here:

We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it.

So what did they do in Australia and England that Obama wants to emulate? They grabbed guns. That is, they didn’t just place more stringent regulations on selling guns (almost none of which would have stopped any of the mass shooters who have been appearing with some regularity under Obama’s administration). Instead, they took guns away. In Australia, it was framed as a “buyback,” but owners were forced to sell, so it was really compensation for a government-enforced seizure, and then left it to the government to decide whether any given individual is worthy of a gun:

But the Australian 1996 National Agreement on Firearms was not a benign set of commonsense gun-control rules: It was a gun-confiscation program rushed through the Australian parliament just twelve days after a 28-year-old man killed 35 people with a semi-automatic rifle in the Tasmanian city of Port Arthur. The Council of Foreign relations summarizes the Aussie measure nicely:

The National Agreement on Firearms all but prohibited automatic and semiautomatic assault rifles, stiffened licensing and ownership rules, and instituted a temporary gun buyback program that took some 650,000 assault weapons (about one-sixth of the national stock) out of public circulation. Among other things, the law also required licensees to demonstrate a “genuine need” for a particular type of gun and take a firearm safety course.

England has also made guns verboten. Private gun ownership in England has all but vanished (and the British Left would love to see it vanish entirely).

In other words, Hillary’s childish insults to the contrary, the crazy paranoid NRA and its crazy paranoid members are right: What the Democrat party wants to do is enact Australian and English style laws that have at their heart gun seizures and the denial of future gun ownership.

You can go here and here to find out just how successful those gun grabs have been at reducing gun crime and overall crime in England and Australia.  Hint:  Americans have seen a significantly greater drop in crime as their gun possession has increased, compared to the two other countries, with Australia maintaining the same trajectory as before the gun seizure and with England becoming one of the most violent countries in the West.  Let’s just say it’s not surprising that Muslims are moving on Europe with increasing confidence now that Europe has voluntarily and unilaterally disarmed itself.


Topsy-Turvy Christmas Temps

Bummer! It’s two days before Christmas and there will be no white Christmas in Chicagoland, this year and the temperature will be above freezing. There’s not much snow north of here all the way to the Canadian border, either. Global warmening?

I called a good friend in Cali’s San Joaquin valley, today: turns out that their temperature right now is colder than here in Chicagoland. They are worried about pipes freezing at night.

I look at the weather maps and all the white Christmas weather appears to be south, in Texas and New Mexico. Even further south, the Aussies are suffering a record cold summer


So, what’s going on?

I know. Bush did it!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah, everyone! May we all enjoy a happy, prosperous and very normal new year.


Sad news out of Australia

I was very sad to read that Australian Prime Minister John Howard lost the election, especially because Australians turned Left to defeat him. I wonder just how long they’ll be happy with new PM Rudd’s plans to mess with Australia’s economy (which will inevitably happen with Labor in power), an economy that even CCN admits is a “strong economy that has produced more than a decade of growth and record low levels of unemployment.”

Right now, considering how effective the Surge is, the least unsettling change Rudd is planning on making is withdrawing Australian troops from Iraq by mi-2008. By that time, Australia won’t be a rat leaving a sinking ship; it will be a rat leaving (one hopes) a thriving ship. Additionally, since Australia’s contribution only numbers 550 troops (bless them), its contribution is more in the morale, than the practical, direction.

Rudd is also planning on ratifying the Kyoto accord which, I’ll remind you, even Clinton wouldn’t ratify — it’s that useless. So apparently Australians are happy to go for grandstanding and showboating in the face of actually effective political leadership.

Still, Howard was in office for a long, long time (12 years to be precise), and there is no doubt that, when nations are not in crisis, they like a change. The school of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” somehow doesn’t apply. After 12 years of same old, same old, no matter how successful it’s been, people want something new and different. Also, to the extent that even the best government can’t fix all problems, there is always the hope — usually false — that the new government will leave what’s good in place, while fixing what was bad. I say “usually false” because, if it’s a Labor new government, it won’t be able to resist fixing everything, an approach that will result in, at best, an outcome as mixed as the old government’s results.

UPDATE:  When I was trying to get some background information about new Australian PM Rudd, I had a very hard time.  The Australian press was very impenetrable to me, both because I don’t have a deep understanding of the current Australian political system or of the specific issues the voters faced, and because the Press didn’t actually say anything.  Everything was conclusory; there were very few details.  Apparently that wasn’t just me doing poor research.  A Queensland woman (and a self-professed conservative) has written a long letter to American Thinker explaining that their media is much like ours, and that, while reporters glossed over any differences Rudd’s election would bring, these differences are, in fact, many and significant.

Australia joins the victim cult

While we were all delighting in the tough stance the Australian government has taken towards terrorism, it seems that Australian TV has fallen into the same swamp as American TV, which insists that all people who can claim victimhood must be heard, their complaints taken seriously, and the rest of us made to feel very, very sorry for them. Ron, writing from Down Under, tells how the Australian media covered the story of a Muslim resident who brokered stolen arms from the Australian military to terrorist cells. It’s a sleazy little story about a big crime, made worse by the media’s inability to recognize that it’s the Australian people, not the criminal and his wife, who are the victims here. | digg it

The Australian way to confront terrorism

Austrialian government officials have impressed many with their frank speaking about the threat of radical Islam. It turns out that this isn’t just talk, but is also allied with bipartisan action aimed at exposing and isolating radical Islamists in Australia:

It so happens that the approach advocated for Britain by Martin Bright in his important Policy Exchange pamphlet When Progressives Treat With Reactionaries is consistent with what has occurred Down Under over the past five years. Put briefly, the Australian system takes Islamist ideology seriously. It does not deal with radical Islamists. It confronts extremists

UPDATE: It’s awfully nice that you clicked over to this post, but I have to confess that this isn’t one of my better posts. Indeed, it looks as if Word Press ate part of the post, leaving me to wonder what I once wrote, but have long since forgotten. Now that you’re at my blog, though, I urge you to check out the more current offerings and, if you like my writing, to come back soon.

The speech I wish Bush would make

Bush has shown remarkable courage in sticking to his guns in the war. However, his actions are not matched by his words. He’s too polite, too worried, to well-counseled, too restrained for whatever reason to call things as they are. John Howard, Australia’s Prime Minister, is not so constrained, as you can see in his speech celebrating the 50th anniversary of Quadrant, a conservative magazine that was a loud voice during the Cold War and that continues to be outspoken in the struggle against Islamic jihad:

It’s important on an occasion like this we remember not just the big ideological struggles but also the individuals who took up the cause of cultural freedom and the defence of liberal democracy against its enemies.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of Soviet communism, it became all too easy to pretend that the outcome of the Cold War was an inevitable result of large-scale, impersonal forces that ultimately left totalitarianism exhausted and democratic capitalism triumphant. Nothing could be further from the truth. This was a struggle fought by individuals on behalf of the individual spirit.

And Quadrant holds an honoured place in Australian history for the stance it took for democratic freedom and a pluralist society and in opposition to collectivist ideologies that so many saw as the inevitable wave of the future.

It’s worth recalling just a few of the philo-communism that was once quite common in Australia in the 1950’s and 60’s. For example, Manning Clark’s book Meeting Soviet Man where he likened the ideals of Vladimir Lenin to those of Jesus Christ. John Burton, the former head of the External Affairs Department, arguing that Mao’s China provided a model for the ‘transformation’ of Australia. All those who did not simply oppose Australia’s commitment in Vietnam, but who actively supported the other side and fed the delusion that Ho Chi Minh was some sort of Jeffersonian Democrat intent on spreading liberty in Asia.

To quote George Orwell: ‘One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool’. There is a view that the pro-communist left in Australia in decades past was no more than a bunch of naïve idealists, rather than what they were – ideological barrackers for regimes of oppression opposed to Australia and its interests.

In taking on the Communist left and their fellow-travellers, people like Richard Krygier, James McAuley, Peter Coleman, Bob Santamaria, Heinz Arndt and Frank Knopfelmacher were not only right in practice, they were right in principle and part of a noble and moral cause.

The influence of the pro-communist left in Australian cultural circles did wane over time, after Hungary and Kruschev’s secret speech in 1956 and further still after the brutal suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968. In the 1960’s and 70’s, it largely gave way to a New Left counter culture, where once again Quadrant served as a beacon of free and sceptical thought against fashionable leftist views on social, foreign policy and economic issues.

In the eyes of the New Left, the Cold War became a struggle defined by ‘moral equivalence’, where the Soviet bloc and the American-led West were equally to blame, each possessing their own dominating ideologies. It became the height of intellectual sophistication to believe that people in the West were no less oppressed than people under the yoke of communist dictatorship.

In time, the world would luckily see the emergence of three remarkable individuals whose moral clarity punctured such nonsense. Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II.

Reagan, the man who gave America back her confidence and optimism in the wake of a decade of setbacks and who began to talk openly and candidly about an ‘evil empire’ – the sort of talk that sends diplomats the world over into panicked meltdown.

Thatcher, the Iron Lady who as well as anyone grasped and articulated the essential connection of personal, political and economic freedom.

Pope John Paul II – a man of enormous courage and dignity whose words of faith and hope inspired millions behind the Iron Curtain to dream again of a Europe whole and free.

All of us here tonight owe a particular debt of gratitude to these three towering figures of the late 20th Century.


Having spoken earlier about Quadrant’s role in the defining global struggle of the second half of the 20th Century, let me say just a few words about the global struggle we now face at the start of the 21st Century.

Today, free and open societies face a new tyranny, the tyranny of Islamist terrorism. One with at least a family resemblance to the great struggles against forces of totalitarianism in the past. A Czech writer once wrote with great prescience that: ‘You can’t build utopia without terror, and before long terror is all that’s left’.

And just as past struggles called for clear and unambiguous statements of belief and purpose, so we must again make very clear what is at stake. Let me say what I have said many times before. This is not a struggle against Islam. It is a struggle against a perverted interpretation of Islam. As we see on a daily basis, it is the terrorists and suicide bombers who eagerly set out to spread terror and to kill innocent Muslim civilians. Countries with their sons and daughters serving in Iraq and Afghanistan today would like nothing more than to see them complete their job and return home.

To those who want to portray the West as anti-Muslim, I would say that it was not the Arab League who went to war in the 1990’s on behalf of Muslim minorities in the Balkans. It was the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and their NATO allies. Let me also remind people who now talk as if Iraq was some kink of pro-Islamic tranquillity before 2003 that the person who’s probably killed more Muslims in history than anyone else is Saddam Hussein.

There are, as Owen Harries, an honoured guest tonight properly reminds us, people who legitimately opposed the original action to oust Saddam Hussein, but it remains, to borrow a phrase, an inconvenient truth that if some countries such as the United States, if countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia simply abandon the people of Iraq this would be an enormous victory for the forces of terror and extremism around the world.

The fact is that we are part of a global campaign for the very ideals that some people wistfully dreamed were unchallengeable after the Cold War. No less than in that long, twilight struggle, this too will be a generational struggle for ideals of democratic freedom and liberty under the law.

Hat tip: The Dennis Prager Show