Wednesday round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesI’ve commented before that “sayings” from the Victorian era and before (e.g, “a stitch in time saves nine,” “idle hands are the Devil’s playground”) may have gone out of style, but their deeper truths remain constant.  Listening to Obama’s crude gloating about the alleged 7.1 million Obamacare enrollments reminded me of yet another old saying:  “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.”  I confidently predict that signing people up under duress will prove to have been the easy part.


When I got my new dog, I did a Cesar Milan (“the “Dog Whisperer”) refresher course by going out and reading his book, Cesar’s Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems.  One of the main points Milan makes is that dogs are not our babies or, if they are our “babies,” that’s the last part, not the first part.  First, dogs are animals; second, they’re the genus dog; third, they’re the specific breed; and only fourth are they our little snookums. You can say the same about people:  First, people are animals….

When people are animals first, without having been trained into morality, sometimes you have to treat them non-verbally just as you would any other animal, right? Or as the friend who sent me this link asked, “Imagine how this story would have played out if the victim had successfully defended himself with the use of force? Once again, talking it out with your attacker doesn’t seem to solve the problem.”


Not that God’s the gloating kind or anything, but I do think that God, who made circumcision the physical embodiment of His covenant with the Jewish people, might be inclined to gloat about a study saying that one of the best things we can do for a boy’s health is to circumcise him. This is a nice counter to those in Europe (and San Francisco) who seek to marginalize Jews by making circumcision illegal.  Oh, another study also said that meat eaters are healthier than vegetarians and that runners put their health at risk.  I confidently expect the study announcing that anthropogenic global warming isn’t happening.


Palestinians are again pushing the UN to recognize them as an official nation. Rick Richman has 12 good questions that, when answered honestly, indicate that the Palestinians aren’t a state. If I were categorizing them, I’d say they’re more along the lines of a criminal organization, like the mafia, only more violent.


David Goldman approves highly of Caroline Glick’s proposal that Israel unilaterally implement a one-state solution encompassing some of the contested territories. It’s time, Glick and Goldman say, to align reality with the fact that the Palestinian population is not growing exponentially (all propaganda lies to the contrary), and that the territories are so terribly mismanaged that they cannot possibly be partners in a two-state solution. My friend Rob Miller, however, is not convinced that Glick’s plan is workable. He proposes an alternative one-state solution: “Israel should forget about the mythical two state solution, and simply delineate the borders it needs unilaterally,” presumably leaving fractious Palestinians on the other side of the border rather than bringing them back within Israel’s borders.


John Scalzi, a Democrat, is struggling to figure out why he should vote for Matthew Guyette, who is the Democrat running opposite John Boehner. According to Scalzi, Guyette’s internet presence says nothing about Guyette or his positions.  Instead, his entire campaign consists of insulting Boehner and Republicans. I admire Scalzi’s principled stand. I’m also a little bewildered as to why he’s asking that question at this particular junction. After all, in 2012, the greater part of Obama’s reelection campaign consisted of turning Mitt Romney, an imperfect candidate but, by all accounts, a very decent man, into a monster who strangled dogs with his bare hands, kept women captive in binders, engaged in gruesome homophobic attacks when he was a teenager in the 1960s, and left former employees to die in the streets from loathsome diseases.


My father got his masters at San Francisco State University back in the 1970s. While it was an academically marginal institution then (as I believe it still is now), it was on the cutting age of campus antisemitism. My father, a veteran of two wars, wasn’t cowed by the violence and invective, but already then Jewish students responded to the Palestinian/Leftist aggression by falling silent. Stella Paul details how SFSU’s poisonous amalgam of PLO antisemitism and garden-variety Leftism has spread to campuses throughout America, infecting formerly genteel campuses that were once incubators for America’s society women. If you’d like to counter this dangerous trend, I recommend donating to StandWithUs.


The Secret Service has been in the news for all the wrong reasons lately. It hasn’t been applauded for protecting the president and his family. Instead, it’s been highlighted for drunkenness and debauchery committed while on the job. Dan Emmett, a former Secret Service agent, says the problem isn’t that these guys are helpless alcoholics who are more to be pitied than censured. Instead, he says, the rot begins at the top with “weak leadership. There are too many incompetent managers who want the title, pay and perks of management while performing no duties of leadership. The problem is not bad Secret Service agents but bad leaders of Secret Service agents.”


Some time ago, I wrote about the new “racism” nonsense called “cultural appropriation.” The theory is that it’s racist for white Americans to emulate other cultures, even if they do so admiringly. I came across that story because an Asian friend of mine posted it on Facebook, along with the opinion of a prominent Asian friend of hers holding that cultural appropriation is a bad thing. She and her Asian friends were all offended. Funnily enough, though, in a new Facebook thread, this gal and all of her Asian friends have examined their navels and concluded that there was nothing offensive about Stephen Colbert stooping to use cheap Asian stereotypes to make an anti-Republican political point. Michelle Malkin is not so forgiving, since she points out that Democrats are the party of anti-Asian racial stereotypes which they routinely use, not for satirical purposes, but to score points against Asians.

Please, please tell me that the Asians will be smarter than my fellow Jews and that they will soon turn against the Democrats and embrace small government conservativism.


Based on his guest line-up during his inaugural weeks, I assumed Jay Leno’s successor, Jimmy Fallon, was a garden-variety Democrat shill.  I may have to rethink that.

Two stupid questions in need of intelligent answers


Question 1: Yesterday, I heard a radio commercial asking listeners to support a college fund for America’s indigenous people (aka American Indians; aka Native Americans). The commercial made the point that most Indians on reservations live in poverty. If the reservations are so poor, why don’t the residents leave? Is it really more important to them to score points against the U.S. government by living on guilt-land than it is to thrive? It’s the same with the Palestinians — the leaders are making a point and the followers are living in squalor. Is there something I’m missing here?

Question 2: Putting aside the fact that there’s nothing to celebrate about having coerced 7 or so million people to buy insurance, why does the Left now claim that Obamacare can no longer be repealed? How complicated is repeal? Isn’t repeal simply the absence of force? You’d be saying “The government won’t force people to buy a product; employers can decide whether it’s to their benefit to offer insurance benefits to their employees; and the insurance companies will once again be able to shape insurance policies according to their company values and profit goals, not according to government diktat. It seems to me that, while implementing has taken years and will take constant effort, undoing it will take no energy at all. It’s like physics. It takes energy to hold the thing together, and entropy will allow it readily to fall apart. Again, is there something I’m missing here?

Saturday mid-day roundup (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesI have learned something about myself over the past 5.5 weeks:  I will never master crutches.  After all this time, I still fall going up the stairs, get vertigo going down the stairs, topple over when trying to reach light switches, get abrasions on my skin, and exhaust my injured shoulder.  My big hope for this coming week is that the doctor tells me I can ditch the crutches and use a cane or go unaided on my own two feet.  In the meantime, though, I’ve got stuff I want to share with you:

In 2008, Obama won in significant part by hooking up with pop culture and making himself “cool.”  The implication was exactly what it is in high school:  if you hang with the cool kids, you’ll be cool too.  Obama was cool because he hung with Hollywood . . . and young voters were cool because they wore Obama t-shirts.  Obama is trying to reprise that cool factor with his current campaign to get healthy young people to sign up for Obamacare.  Now that actually money is involved, I suspect he’ll have less success than in 2008, when all you needed to be cool was a t-shirt and a vote.


When it comes to understanding how the media functions as the PR arm for the Democrat party, you can’t do better than to read John Hinderaker’s article describing the downstream fallout from the Washington Post‘s cheap and false attack on the Koch brothers. (Hinderaker’s challenge to the original WaPo article is here.) Not only does Hinderaker strip bare the ugliness behind the Post’s defense of its own bad reporting, he also analyzes why the Left is so obsessed with the Koch Brothers, the problems Democrats are starting to have with the “green” worldview, and the money behind the Democrats’ attacks on the Kochs.


Two Democrat politicians, one in Arkansas and one in Alaska, have rather foolishly chosen to attack their Republican opponents for having been in the military. The GOP has done an ad highlighting these attacks and focusing on the fact that there is something honorable about having served in the military. I agree, but for me there’s more than that going on.  When I think about military service, what I think about is competence and responsibility. In a society where young people avoid both — and, indeed, are encouraged by law to remain infantile until their 26 — the military forces young people to step up. I know that there are shirkers in the military, but the statistical likelihood is that someone who spent many years in the military is probably a can-do and will-do kind of person.


Over the years, I’ve written about the fact that people who support abortion use a very dishonest debate tactic when they pretend that the world is the same as it was before Roe v. Wade. The implication is that, if abortion again becomes limited to life-of-the-mother (and perhaps rape and incest) cases, young girls will be thrown starving into the streets and children will be raised with the stigma of bastardy. In a world in which single mothers are one of the fastest growing demographics, this is ludicrous. The Left also pretends that women will once again return to back alley abortions, complete with unsanitary coat hangers. Indeed, one pro-Abortion outlet is giving “cute” little coat hanger necklaces to those who donate money to the cause.

Here’s something interesting, though: Just as the pro-abortion crowd lies about the world as it is, implying that unwed pregnant women will once again be driven into the snow (barefoot, of course), so too is it lying about the world as it was. Kevin Williamson finds contemporaneous evidence from Planned Parenthood itself saying that, back in the 1960s, while abortion was illegal, it was also safe — indeed, probably safer than at places like Kermit Gosnell’s House of Abortion Horror.


J. Christian Adams asks a good question: Why does Michelle Obama’s mother live rent-free in the White House? It might have made sense when the Obama’s first arrived in D.C. with two fairly young daughters, but it makes no sense now. I guess, though, that Michelle loves her Mommy and wants to make sure that Mrs. Robinson also gets to enjoy the pleasures of staying in $8,000 per night suites in Beijing (taxpayer-funded, of course).

“White Trash” is not a skin color, it’s a state of mind. One aspect of the WT state of mind is the person who, when he knows someone else is paying the restaurant bill, orders the most expensive thing on the menu. The Obamas are quite definitely White Trash.


In my real-me Facebook world, my friends still cling to the Anthropogenic Climate Change theory. In the real world, actual scientists (as opposed to PhD-holding crusaders looking for large government grants) are finally waking up and smelling the con-job coffee. It remains to be seen whether the climate-change generation is going to be able to walk away from this false God.


A couple of weeks ago, I said that the hate-crime hoaxes coming from the Left meant that I didn’t believe a gay guy who claimed (without corroboration) that his aged Baptist minister grandfather, who had been married for 65 years, confessed on his deathbed that he was gay. Maybe grandpa did; maybe he didn’t. It’s just that, as I said, absent ample evidence, I don’t believe the Left. In that vein, I point out that yet another hate-crime has proven to be a hoax.


Last week, I showed a picture of a school workbook telling students that the Second Amendment gives citizens the right to bear arms provided that the government first gives them permission to do so. Someone asked for the provenance of that image. It turns out that (surprise! surprise!) it comes from an Illinois Middle School.


Reading travel tips that Chinese give those of their compatriots heading to America I thought to myself, “What a nice country we have.”

Alleged Malaysia Airlines ad: either a tremendous irony or a mean hoax *UPDATE: IT’S A HOAX*

[UPDATED:  IT'S A HOAX.  My current belief about the situation is that, without more data, I have nothing to say.]

The email that came with this image says it’s a genuine Malaysia Airlines ad from a few years back. If true, it’s incredibly ironic. If untrue, it’s rather mean:

Malaysia airlines ad

Enter The Canardvark

The Canardvark

The Canardvark

Bittersweet. The graciousness of our common friend, Bookworm, inspires a modeling of our own behavior. Leadership by example, I believe we still call this. And I am pleased and thankful that she has allowed me to share a small corner of her space from time to time. The sweetness.

But for the bitterness, all of this affection would remain privately between us as it has always been. Ah, but for the bitterness. How charmed life would be without it. The very need for The Canardvark’s existence. Frequenters of this space all have an inner Canardvark, sniffing out lies and deception that are either the story itself or the pillars used to support the story under false pretense. Ignorance truly would be bliss. But ignorance is for the intellectually lazy. And ’round here, “ain’t nobody got time for that.”

And so it is. The bitterness. I’ve worked hard at ignoring it for a few years. My own “Occupy” movement, distracting my mind with disconnected morsels of personal indulgence and relative quiet. Delving deeper into the work that pays the mortgage. Slipping into the pure fantasy that blowing things up on Playstation affords. Throwing myself at the punishing world of cycling and its hours and hours of self-inflicted misery and pain in search of those fleeting moments of triumph and the undeniable peace of solitude.

I find it hard to really enjoy anything much at all. Not because I am miserable – I’m a pretty happy guy. But rather, I simply don’t enjoy things like most normal human beings do. Thanks in large part to an early and brief career choice of becoming a southern California television station’s program director, I instinctively analyze everything I see and hear. And I mean everything. Most people read the news scroll at the bottom of the screen. That’s what it’s there for. But I am cursed with looking first and instinctively for typos and misstatements. I wish it were different.

I analyze everything. Labels on cans of soup. Advertisements for cars in magazines. Disclaimers on websites. Patterns in phone numbers. Words chosen – and not chosen – in conversation. The background images and small text on big billboards. I look for the sight unseen and listen for the word unheard.

And canards in reporting and rhetoric. My mind gravitates toward the obscure yet vital detail, missed but disproportionately consequential. Whether by design or the subconscious oversight caused by unwittingly trained habit, the canards matter.

And the canards each are a mean to a desired end. Those ends are usually political in inspiration and often destructive in implementation. Take, for instance, the canard of man-caused global warming. Without attempting to provide analysis here, let’s just accept two facts: That A.) the climate has always been changing (explains sea creature fossils in the Arizona desert) and that B.) pollution is bad (go for a run in Mexico City or Beijing.)

In order to push the “big lie” beyond debate, the greater canard is supported by a lesser canard – that the issue of man-caused global warming is “settled science.” If enough newscasts and stories use this phrasing in their daily coverage, it becomes widely accepted as fact among those who are not “in the realm” of science to quantitatively or qualitatively declare otherwise. You know. Housewives, realtors, carpenters, teachers, firemen… Basically, everyone else. If “everyone” is saying it, then it must be true. So it goes.

The problem is that it is not settled science. How then to explain the thousands of signatures of scientists, meteorologists and climatologists worldwide who argue that such a conclusion is not settled science? The problem is that this is not part of what most see, hear and read. And thus, the big lie is supported by other lies. Canards, one and all.

And the problem isn’t that someone lies. It’s about where the acceptance of false conclusions leads. In the case of the “settled science” canard in support of the “man-caused global warming” canard, it leads governments to begin inventing a commodity (carbon credits) and begin taxing industries and individuals by charging them for the rights to these credits, which are nothing more than paper protection from the government in charge of distributing them. The government in question does not distribute anything tangible or provide access to any resource. The industries and individuals in question are merely allowed or disallowed to carry on. In a free society with open markets, we call this a shake down. Protection money. A racquet.

All built upon a canard supported by lesser canards and fueled only by fear and ignorance, not fact and indisputable consequence.

So, unable to just m0ve along with nothing to see here, I am once again compelled to think aloud. At least from time to time. And I’ll usually share what compels me with both attitude and sarcasm, with bitterness and laughing cynicism. Right or wrong, in brilliance or in error. Always open, always honest, and too infrequent to support a blog of my own. And so I am thankful for my wonderful friend, Bookie, and appreciative that she is renting out a small corner of the Bookworm Room to house my wares. I get along well with worms. It’s pissants that drive me crazy.

I am the Canardvark. Coo-Coo-Ka-Choo.



Too often the world’s “elite” aren’t as special as they think they are

Clark RockefellerWhile I was waiting for my smog check yesterday, I whiled away the time listening to an NPR interview with Walter Kirn, a novelist, journalist (writing frequently for the usual suspects:  New York Times, New Yorker, New Republic, Atlantic, etc.), and Princeton grad.  He most recently wrote, Blood Will Out: The True Story of a Murder, a Mystery, and a Masquerade, a book about his friendship with, Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, a con artist and murderer.  Kirn did not befriend Gerhartsreiter because the latter was a murderer and a con artist.  Instead, Kirn was one of Gerhartsreiter’s victims, believing that the con man was Clark Rockefeller, a wealthy, eccentric member of the Rockefeller clan.

Listening to the interview, it seemed to me that Kirn had two goals when he wrote the book.  One, of course, was to tell a fascinating story.  The other, however, was to confess his shame at being so grossly misled, and to offer something by way of an explanation for his credulity.  And oh my!  Was he credulous:

On how Rockefeller manipulated people

Here is the secret of a master manipulator and liar: They leave lots of blanks for you to fill in. For example, when he was living in San Marino and pretending to be a British aristocrat — and this came out of the trial — he told one young woman, “Oh, you know, I have an aunt in England, her name is Elizabeth.” Then at another point he said, “I have to go visit my family in Windsor.” This person thought, “Oh my lord, he’s related to the queen! The queen is named Elizabeth and she lives in Windsor.”

He was always doing that. He was always dropping breadcrumbs because he knew that if you put the story together in your own mind you’d be more convinced by it than if he told you the whole story …

When I first met him, he took me out to a very fancy dinner atop a skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan. We looked down on Rockefeller Center. At one point he said, “Let’s go take a private tour of it, I have the key in my pocket.” … I think I said “Oh, sure,” but … he said it in a way that’s like how people say, “You must come and stay at my house for a week.” And you say, “I’d love to,” but you don’t ever take them up on it? He’s making a social gesture here, but do I really want to go through the sub-basements of Rockefeller Center with this character at 10 o’clock at night? He made a lot of offers he knew you wouldn’t accept.

On his elaborate lies, including that he was a freelance central banker for Thailand

He said he had a model on his computer that allowed him to set the money supply and interest rates for these third-world countries because they couldn’t afford their own Alan Greenspans.

It didn’t make sense, but then again I didn’t have time to go into it. He had another stunner already in the chamber. I think the next [lie] that he told me was that he could put the words of Gilligan’s Island to any tune that I could mention, then he told me that he had never eaten in a restaurant, then he told me that he had gone to Yale at 14. So the minute that I was trying to figure out one riddle, another one was presented. It stops the mind after a while.

I’m not saying I wouldn’t have been equally credulous.  Most of us assume that the people we’re dealing with are telling the truth.  If they imply that they’re a Rockefeller . . . well, it’s probably true.  And yes, the rich are different and, no, we don’t want to confess our ignorance when someone says he’s a “freelance central banker.”  That’s how cons work.  I’d like to say that Gerhartsreiter couldn’t have fooled me, but I’d be fooling both you and myself if I were to say that.

So the fascinating thing about Kirn isn’t that he was credulous; instead, it’s the reason he gives for his credulity:  he went to Princeton.  In the first 20 minutes of the interview, he mentions his Princeton background at least three times.  The most fascinating is when he says that having gone to Princeton, he knew fabulously wealthy, well-connected people, so he was fully aware of their behaviors.  That’s why, when Gerhartsreiter gives voice to bizarre conspiracy theories about the economic end of the world, that doesn’t set off alarms.  Really rich people are given to nutsy conspiracy theories, he says.

Indeed, as the interview drew to a close, admitted that Gerhartsreiter was a successful con artist because he fully understood the insular, self-referential, unquestioning world of America’s self-styled “elite”:

On how Rockefeller exploited the social contract

This book is a meditation to a large degree on the social contract and how so much of what people appear to be is based on what they say they are, or what other people say they are.

He’d go to a party at a yacht club, say, in Connecticut. Somehow he’d get to the party and no one would bar him at the door. He’d be dressed right; he’d tell people he was a Rockefeller; he’d make friends with them; he’d get in that club. And then he’d get reciprocity at other clubs because other clubs trusted that clubs like them had good members. And basically, through this series of references, he would expand his circle larger and larger and soon have access to everything. He was on the board of directors of one of the most exclusive private clubs in Boston. His name was on the wall…

An accent sounding kind of like Katharine Hepburn’s cousin … a monogrammed shirt and the right shoes will get you everywhere, apparently.

Funnily enough, just the other night I watched a 60 Minutes segment about the man who may be the most successful forger in history (and, interestingly, he, like Gerhartsreiter, is also German).  Wolfgang Beltracchi can copy any artist’s style.  But he’s an artist himself.  He wasn’t crude enough simply to copy famous artists’ paintings.  Instead, he painted entirely new paintings as he imagined that the original artist would have painted, if he had the opportunity.  He and his wife then faked provenances for the paintings (they had been hidden by  his wife’s family during the war), and these two talented scammers were off and running.

Beltracchi’s pictures now grace museums world wide, fill the pages of art books, and are in private homes everywhere.  Some of the forgeries haven’t been discovered; some will not be discovered because it would be too disruptive to out them for what they are.  The only experts left are the scientists, who can subject the paint used for historic anomalies.  All the hoity-toity, elitist, highly paid art experts have been rendered moot.  They now claim that they can spot forgeries but are scared to speak, but everyone must remember that they too fell for the scam.

Both of the above stories have a common thread:  Wealthy, entitled people being easily conned precisely because of all the biases that are inherent in their educations and lifestyles.  They are so certain of their superiority that it’s easy to manipulate those certainties.  One could argue that this precisely what Barack Obama did.  Indeed, looking back on the Obama con, it’s like the living version of that old movie Six Degrees of Separation:

Fifth Avenue socialite Ouisa Kittredge (Stockard Channing) and her art dealer husband Flan (Donald Sutherland), are parents of “two at Harvard and one at Groton“. But the narrow world inhabited by the Kittredges and their public status as people interested in the arts make them easy prey for Paul (Will Smith). Paul is a skilful con-artist, who mysteriously appears at their door one night – injured and bleeding – and claiming to be a close college friend of their Ivy League kids, as well as the son of Sidney Poitier. Ouisa and Flan are much impressed by Paul’s fine taste, keen wit, articulate literary expositions and surprising culinary skill. His appealing facade soon has the Kittredges putting him up, lending him money and taking satisfaction in his praise for their posh lifestyle. Paul’s scheme continues until he brings home a hustler, and his actual indigence is revealed. The shocked Kittredges kick him out when it is revealed that they are but the most recent victims of the duplicity with which Paul has charmed his way into many upper-crust homes along the Upper East Side. Paul’s schemes become highbrow legend – anecdotal accounts of which are bantered about at their cocktail parties. In the end, Paul has a profound effect on the many individuals who encounter him, linking them in their shared experience.

For people vulnerable to cons, these “elites” have also managed to run a very big con on the American people, the one that has too many Americans believing that, because they’ve got an Ivy League pedigree and a Katherine Hepburn accent, that they are smarter, wiser, or more decent than the guy who runs a valet service, the secretary at the insurance company, or the mechanic with his head buried under the hood of your car.

Agatha Christie and the missing airplane

Agatha ChristieJust because I haven’t blogged about the missing airplane doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about it.  As it is, with no data, I have nothing to say, except….

Okay, this is a pretty random observation, but as the story unfolded and it appeared that the plane might have been spirited away, I kept thinking to myself, “This sounds like something I’ve read before.”  I finally figured out last night why it was familiar.

Back in 1954 (the same year in which she sat for the portrait, above), Agatha Christie first published Destination Unknown.  The premise was that important scientists from all over the world had been vanishing.  When the wife of one of those vanished scientists died in an accident, a young woman who resembled that dead wife was substituted in her place, in the hope that she would help British and American law enforcement solve the mystery.  I’m not giving too much away when I say that the first phase in a group’s “vanishing” was a faked airplane crash.

In the case of the book, those in the faked crash lived.  Here, if the plane was indeed hijacked by evil forces, I suspect that almost three hundred people were summarily executed in cold blood, which is somehow a thought even more appalling than thinking about them dying in an actual plane crash.

Again, though, I’m avoiding any substantive writing about the missing plane because there seems so little to say (although it does strike me as strange that, in a world monitored constantly by satellites, something can vanish so completely).  Today’s evidence could just as easily point to alien abduction as to terrorist hijacking or mechanical failures and abnormalities.  If I had to bet, though, I’d say hijacking and, if I were forced to bet more, I’d say Islamist-related hijacking, with some terrible denouement still to unfold.

More clever posters nailing complex issues

I’m grateful that Caped Crusader sent me a few more very clever posters.

This first one shows timeless wisdom, because it touches on my fear about Obama’s newly announced initiative to aid young black men.  These men are, indeed, a disastrous demographic, insofar as they’re overrepresented in prisons, morgues, and unemployment lines. The problem, of course, is that it was the federal government that did this to young black men. Can we really expect it to fix things?

Woodson on government handouts

We’re all familiar with the version of this poster comparing Obama and Bibi. I like the Putin addition:

World leaders at 21

Even as police in Connecticut plan to seize guns from law-abiding citizens, it appears that a sheriff in Milwaukee trafficks in common sense:

Police chief get a gun

Is it really only Tuesday? Round-up and Open thread

Victorian posy of pansiesFor those of us who believe in free speech, the antidote to bad speech isn’t censorship, it’s good speech. The problem for France, which is trying to censor an antisemitic, pro-Nazi “comic”, is that it has no good speech to counter the antisemitism that is breeding in France’s toxic stew of Islam and Leftism. That’s always the problem in socialist countries. They have no good to counterattack the bad — usually because they created the bad in the first place.

It was the French Left that opened the door to unlimited Islamic immigration to atone for sins in North Africa. The North African Muslims come, bringing their antisemitic culture with them, and there’s no one in France brave enough to challenge their culture or philosemitic enough to speak for the Jews.


Lee Smith argues that Israel fails to understand the Obama narrative about the Middle East, and is therefore failing to make the winning arguments to the Obama government vis a vis Iran’s attempt to ship major supplies of Syrian weapons into Palestinian hands. He’s right. He is also right insofar as the article implies that, to the extent that Obama’s goals are now antithetical to Israel’s continued existence, there is no winning argument Israel can make to Obama.


Must-read about why Palestinians are not American blacks living under Jim Crow.


As the mother of a teenage girl, I find incredibly amusing the latest feminist campaign to ban the word “bossy” in relationship to girls, or at least to pretend that it’s not a derogatory word. While we’re at it, let’s just ban the word “wet” in relationship to “water,” or at least pretend it has an entirely different meaning.

Bossy is exactly what little girls and teenage girls are. Boys (both little and teenage) have their own sins, but bossiness is not one of them. It’s girls who are certain that they are right and that they have the power to order everyone else around.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that girls are bossy.  Gender-deniers notwithstanding, little girls model on their mother and, within the home, Moms are the bosses. To a young girl’s mind, this means it’s the female’s role to make and enforce rules. End of story — and changing labels will not change that reality.


A matched set about Obama’s megalomania: From Ron Fournier (who has decided that there is no bloom left on the Obama rose), an indictment of the preening self-righteousness that leaves Obama blind to any information inconsistent with his sense of reality. And from Jeffrey Folks, another indictment of Obama’s “great man syndrome,” one that leaves him believing that he must make things happen, no matter how bad they are.

Winston Churchill thought he was special too (“We are all worms, but I believe that I am a glow-worm”), but he didn’t make the mistake of believing he was a god, or even the God. Perhaps that’s because he was raised within a religious tradition and, even if he was not devout, he knew that there was a divine presence bigger than he was. The problems begin when you have a man who believes, quote erroneously, that he really is a god (or, given the messianic language he and his followers use[d] about him, the God).


Writing in the L.A. Times, Jonathan Turley, a left-of-center law professor again expresses concern about the way in which Obama is usurping Congress’s powers, and the way in which Congress (both Democrats and Republicans) meekly lets it happen. I put it on my Facebook, and my Leftist friends assiduously ignored it.


HBO and SHO are increasingly trafficking in nude women, while Hollywood generally is delighting in the joys of lesbian lip locks, especially between actresses who deny being lesbian. Ed Morrissey talks about the sexual exploitation of women driving the trend. Julie Blindel, an open lesbian who comments on “lesbian chic,” adds her bit, which is that Hollywood cares little about advancing LGBTQ rights, and is infinitely more interested in catering for profit to the same male demographic that buys Penthouse. And so a culture sinks ever lower.


Apropos low-sinking culture, I caught a millisecond of Rush today. He was talking to a 57-year-old man who is deeply depressed about America’s ability to recover from the low point she now faces (economically, national security, etc). Rush asked him if there was another time in his life when things were this bad and the man pointed to the end of the Carter presidency and beginning of the Reagan presidency. The difference, he felt, was debt, which is infinitely worse now. Rush, however, expressed an inchoate optimism that had him believing that an up-and-coming young generation will have had enough and fight back.

I disagree with Rush and side with the caller, although for a different reason than he expressed. What both the 57-year-old man and Rush ignored is the sea-change in American culture since the last really bad time in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Before the 21st century, no matter how bad things were, America had a huge, strong middle, ranging from working class to upper middle class.  This middle group was traditional: patriotic, hardworking, able to recognize external enemies, family-centric, capitalist. It was the middle class as America’s backbone.  Since then, that middle has been culturally destroyed.  The young ones, the ones upon whom Rush is relying, have no knowledge or understanding of an other, better, way to do things. This HBO demographic is incapable of either a 1950s or a 1980s social and economic comeback.

Think of it this way:  When George Orwell created Newspeak, his point was to show that, when you contract language, you contract ideas.  And without ideas, people cannot rebel against a status quo, because they are incapable of thinking of an alternative.  That contraction of ideas is precisely what has happened in the last 30 years.  Unless we can introduce ideas again, about patriotism, family, hard work, etc., nothing will change because the young generation lacks the mental landscape to envision change.


A perfect example (from one of those benighted young people I spoke of) of “stupid is as stupid does.


Leftist states vote for Obama. Leftist states have the worst income inequality. Hmmm. Could it be that tax and spend policies, rather than making everyone have access to economic success, concentrate wealth amongst a favored few cronies, leaving everyone else out in the cold? It’s certainly true in California’s basket-case, Democrat-run economy, where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle class flees the state.


Michelle Obama is taking her girls (and mother) on another un-frigging-believably expensive, taxpayer-funded vacation, this time to China. Even Marie Antoinette didn’t have it so good. She just got to head off to the Petite Trianon — and she still had her head cut off, a fate that (thankfully) will not await anyone in this administration, no matter how much they abuse the People’s good will.


Yeah, we know that the IRS’s Lois Lerner is a bad girl. She’s also the face, the front-man, the scape-goat, the tip of the iceberg. It is ludicrous to believe that she was acting alone. The question remains whether her superiors, her peers, and her subordinates will also be called to account for turning the IRS, the most feared branch of the American government, into a partisan arm of the Obama administration.


The Left lives in an alternate reality. The real reality is that the biggest spenders in American government by far, both state and local, are leftist unions. The first Republican-leaning donor doesn’t even hit the list until 17 donors down.

The Leftist reality is that the libertarian Kochs, who rank 59th on the donor list and who share many of the Left’s favorite liberal shibboleths (e.g., legalized pot), are the evil geniuses who control American government and they must be destroyed. That’s why the New York Times is applauding Harry Reid’s deeply disturbing attacks against the Kochs.

That a man with his hands near the levers of American power would deliberately target two individuals and try to destroy them has . . . yes, I’m going to say it . . . a Nazi feel to it. This is revolting. It’s not even McCarthy-esque. Sen. McCarthy at least went through the motions of having hearings, creating a simulacrum of Due Process.


Speaking of unhinged from reality, here’s a good cartoon at Director Blue showing yet two more examples of the disconnect.


All I can say is that, if this flight story happened with a modern Brit in the cockpit, the squeals coming out over the intercom would have drowned out the passengers’ cries.


The Connecticut government is coming for its citizens’ guns. There’s a line being drawn here. Just as Obama is obliterating the line between his executive limitations and Congress’s role, Connecticut is seeing what it can get away with in terms of eviscerating the Second Amendment. I hope the state backs down, for this will not end well otherwise.

Wednesday evening round-up (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesThis has been a crazily chaotic day.  I got thrown off my stride by my morning swim (phase 2 in physical therapy for my knee, now that I’m off the perpetual motion machine), and just couldn’t catch up anymore.  Throw in a few unexpected demands on my time and — voila! — I’m doing my round-up early in the evening instead of first thing in the morning.  Still, proving that there’s always room for a cliched phrase, better late than never.  So, here goes:

A friend sent me the following link in the mail and it was so eerily close to the way real events are playing out, that it took me a second to realize that it’s satire (and pretty damn funny satire at that): On Defense Cuts, Obama Just Comes Right Out And Says He Wants The Terrorists To Win


Perhaps we’ve reached a stage where the best we can hope for is that Israel will have our back, rather than vice versa.  At least today, Israel had its own back (can I say that and still make sense?), capturing a massive arms haul — Syrian missiles, shipped out from Iran, and headed to Gaza. Thank God the Israelis still have the sechel to watch out for their own interests.


And speaking of Israel’s interests, if the last twenty-two years have shown us anything, it’s that participating in peace talks isn’t working. The reason, of course, is that the peace talks are all directed at a “two-state solution,” but the Palestinians, as well as the surrounding Arab and Muslim states, have no interest in a two-state solution. Yoav Sorek says that it’s time to stop chasing this chimera and create a new paradigm: a one-state solution — Israel — that the Palestinians have to learn to live with.


If you’re girding your loins against the possibility of a Hillary victory in 2016, maybe it’s time to stop girding and start working incredibly hard for a good conservative candidate, instead of the usual lousy conservative candidates. I say this because Hillary is also a lousy candidate and the only way in which Republicans can lose if she’s the Democrat candidate is if they put up another McCain.  (What do you bet that the Republicans put up another John McCain?)


Here’s a scary thought: I already suggested that Obama has gone round the bend. What if Putin has done the same? The world is scary enough with one madman in power. What’s it going to be like with the last two great powers of the 20th century both headed by malignant narcissists whose already tenuous grip on reality has been destroyed by the bubbles in which they surrounded themselves?


Maybe none of it matters anyway, at least when it comes to Russia. I’ve noted before that Russia is in serious decline and this article provides the facts behind my conclusions. Whether Putin’s move on the Crimea is crazed or calculated, it can only buy a small amount of time for a country that will be eaten by China in the next few decades. (And considering its population, China will have a credible “lebensraum” argument, won’t it?) Ultimately, Putin will have gained nothing for his own country, although he will have succeeded in providing more evidence that Obama is feckless and unreliable, and may have caused several thousand, or even several hundred thousand, deaths along the way. Given the two delusional men at the helm of two declining nations, the last thing we want is a fast-walk to military confrontation.


If Snowden had merely shown how the U.S. government routinely collects very scrap of data it can about American citizens, he would have deserved the “hero” title that the far Left and far Right placed on him. But considering that he mostly stole 1.7 million sensitive files touching upon national security, and then headed for the Chinese and, after that, the Russians, it’s clear that he’s the biggest traitor in American history. I’m putting more and more credence in the theory that he was a massive traitor all along, and that he stole the “spying on American” stuff only to provide himself with cover.


Walt Disney Co. is free to demand that everyone and everything with which it deals support gay marriage. And people who disagree with that position are free to stop dealing with the Walt Disney Co. I really like Disneyland and Disney World, but it won’t be the end of the world for me if I never go to either place again. I bet the same is true for a lot of Americans. I’m not suggesting a formal boycott. I am pointing out, however, that in this information-rich world, we no longer have to deal with companies that spend our money in ways we dislike.


Jonah Goldberg supports Obama’s initiative to help black youth, even if it’s manifestly discriminatory for the federal government to extend aid to one racial group while ignoring others (not that this has ever stopped the feds before). Jonah is right that America’s black youth are in desperate straits and need all the help they can get. My only concern is that it was the federal government that got America’s black youth in this situation in the first place, thanks to Leftists’ belief that blacks cannot manage without government support. It seems to me that the federal government is the last entity that should be trusted to get blacks out of this miserable cycle of violence, drugs, and poverty. Remember Frederick Douglass’s words (emphasis mine):

In regard to the colored people, there is always more that is benevolent, I perceive, than just, manifested towards us. What I ask for the negro is not benevolence, not pity, not sympathy, but simply justice. The American people have always been anxious to know what they shall do with us…. I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm-eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! … And if the negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! … Your interference is doing him positive injury.


Not only did I enjoy Ace’s take on Obama’s manifestly unconstitutional decision to amend Obamacare again, but I loved the Photoshop you’ll find at that link. (BTW, Obama’s action is unconstitutional because only Congress can amend a law. This is banana republic stuff.)


Did I say “banana republic stuff”? I did, and I meant it. Michael Ramirez has his own comment on what Barack Obama has managed to do in five short (although they seemed very long) years.


The NAACP says “stand your ground” laws are part of “institutional racism.” Think about that for a moment. The laws simply say that, if your choices when faced by an assailant are to cut and run or to stand and fight, you can stand and fight (especially when cutting and running carries risks). They are facially neutral laws that apply to anyone facing a threat, black or white. What the NAACP is implicitly conceding is that the only/primary threatening parties in America — the ones who will be on the wrong side of “stand your ground” — are black. Wow! Is that racist or what? It seems to me that the NAACP is guilty of a bit of institutional racism itself.


There are two writers out there who make just about everything interesting . . . and when the subject matter is inherently interesting, they’re off into the stratospheres of wonder for their readers. Enjoy the Diplomad’s Cage Fighter vs. Pajama Boy; Putin Confronts the West and Sultan Knish’s A Maddow in MSNBCland.


Boehner’s bad: He freely concedes that all he cares about is opening up America’s borders. Who cares that the voters don’t want that? Remember, our elected officials are no longer our servants; they are our masters.


Muslims bomb the Boston Marathon and Boston, home to the American Revolution, does what the Left does best: it backs down. That’s the word from Runner’s world:

A decade long tradition will be missing from this year’s Boston Marathon. Due to the new, stricter security guidelines released by the Boston Athletic Association last Wednesday, ruck marchers will not be allowed to make the 26.2-mile trek from Hopkinton to Boylston because they are considered “unauthorized participants.”

Active members of the military have participated in ruck marches at the Boston Marathon for years. Donning full fatigues and carrying 40-pound rucksacks on their backs, ruckers march the length of the course in support of families of fallen soldiers.

Muslims don’t have to defeat America on the battlefield. If they scare us enough, we’ll unilaterally declare defeat and turn ourselves over to the enemy.


And finally, Danny Lemieux posted the following quotation on his real-me Facebook:

“In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted a comfortable life, and they lost it all – security, comfort, and freedom. When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again.”

- Edward Gibbon, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
(publ. 1776-1789)

It’s funny how we spend our adolescent years desperately trying to shake off our parents’ care, which we feel comes with too many strings attached, and then spend the rest of our lives trying to get someone to care for us, strings or not.

Thursday round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesFor reasons that make no sense to me, in the past week my daily readership has almost trebled. I suspect a bot has targeted my site but, when I allow myself to pretend that it’s actual people checking out my site, I feel really quite good. And now let’s see if I can make all of my real and robotic readers feel good with some interesting links:

It turns out that I’m not the only one who has noticed that the only thing exciting the Left right now, from Obama on down to the most insignificant Facebook user, is gay marriage. Syria? Sad, but boring. Ukraine? A little scary, so best ignored. North Korea? Really scary, so best ignored. Economy? We have a Democrat president, so we pretend it’s good. But gay marriage? Wow! That’s a hot issue, so hot that it should be the administration’s most pressing issue, the states’ most pressing issue, and social media’s most pressing issue.


Putting gay marriage aside, what sensible people should be excited about is the fact that the current administration has deliberately chosen to subvert the law and to use supposedly non-partisan administrative agencies (most notably the IRS) to destroy the current administration’s political opponents. Bradley A. Smith spells it out, and there are smoking guns everywhere. Unfortunately, true believers on the Left are just going to look at that evidence and say, “Well, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.” They’d do that even if Lois Lerner got her immunity and spilled the beans.

Few on the Left have Democrat Prof. Jonathan Turley’s insight or integrity:

And what we’ve been seeing is the shift of gravity within that system in a very dangerous way that makes it unstable, and I think that’s what the president is doing. I think that we’ve become a nation of enablers. We are turning a blind eye to a fundamental change in our system. I think many people will come to loathe that they remained silent during this period.

Incidentally, I wonder if Mr. Smith has been reading my blog. To conclude his masterful summary demonstrating administration complicity with the IRS, he wrote this:

In 1170, King Henry II is said to have cried out, on hearing of the latest actions of the Archbishop of Canterbury, “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” Four knights then murdered the archbishop. Many in the U.S. media still willfully refuse to see anything connecting the murder of the archbishop to any actions or abuse of power by the king.

If that seems familiar to some of you, I wrote the same thing (although at greater length) back in May 2013.


Hillary Clinton spoke in Florida yesterday to defend Obamacare. For a good analysis, go here. The short version is that she’s adopting the Democrat party line, which is that Obamacare is slightly flawed, but should be fixed, not undone. I’ll just chime in quickly with a little extra info that may explain why many people will be inclined to save, not jettison it: the venue at which she spoke was a massive annual medical technology convention. The wealth concentrated there — wealth created because Obamacare has mandated computerizing all medical records — probably equals the wealth of several small and mid-sized countries. Exhibitors weren’t just giving away pens and mouse pads. They were giving away Kindle Fires and other fancy swag. Follow the money….


I love it when my politics and my dieting efforts converge: No Girl Scout cookies for me this year. The Girl Scouts are absolutely free to continue their leftward drift. I just don’t have to help fund it. If I had my own personal Marine Sergeant Major monitoring my diet, none of this would be an issue.


Just a reminder that if you want a bird’s eye view of probable election results, check out Scott Elliott’s Election Projection. Working on a state-by-state basis, he has amassed a vast and highly accurate database of predicted election outcomes.


North Korea is one seriously scary place. It’s scary inside, because it is a vast, brutal concentration camp. I mean, think about it: It’s so bad that the UN has actually taken time off from persecuting Israel to castigate North Korea for a few days.

It’s also scary outside because it’s got a vast armory of conventional weapons aimed at South Korea, and a probable armory of nuclear weapons aimed at God knows where. Andrew Keller recommends actually enforcing sanctions against it, so that the West is no longer complicit in propping up this government. (Our excuse for propping it up, starting with Madeleine Albright, is always that we’re preventing mass starvation. We haven’t done anything of the sort.  The NoKo government just takes the money, buys caviar, and lets the people starve anyway.) My only worry with Keller’s recommendation is that North Korea is not the kind of country that will go down easy. It seems to me that one of its last gasp efforts will be to take large parts of the world, or Asia, down with it.


I don’t understand why people are so fussed about reliably Left-leaning Ronan Farrow winning a journalism award after only two days on air at MSNBC. After all, Barack Obama won the once-prestigious Nobel Peace Prize, not because he actually did anything on the job, but simply because he got hired. Eric Wemple illustrates that in the modern journalism world, everyone is good enough, smart enough and, gosh darn it, entitled to endless accolades and awards.


Eric Holder was briefly hospitalized for chest pains, but seems to be okay. I wonder if he had a panic attack, which can mimic a heart attack. He’s got a lot of balls in the air now, and it must be nerve-wracking to keep them spinning. You know what I mean: Urging state Attorney General’s to refuse to enforce their own state laws regarding gay marriage; arranging for gun-running into Mexico, and then having to cover it all up; hiding administration documents about everything from the IRS to Benghazi; working to turn felons and illegal aliens into registered voters; and so on. I’d be stressed too with all of that on my plate.


In a typically thoughtful, detailed post, Daniel Greenfield examines Obama’s decision to put America into a forced retreat from the world stage. His last paragraph reads like the final epitaph for a once great nation:

Post-American America exists to destroy itself. Until that changes, it has nothing to offer the world except membership in a suicide pact.

Obama’s despicable role in the Ukraine (or, rather, his absence of any role, other than some meaningless Kabuki theater) perfectly illustrates how he’s got America crawling away on her hands and knees, with her national butt nicely poised in the air for some final kicking.

The Left assured us in 2008 that the world would be a better place without all that nasty American influence. The world’s citizens are discovering what you and I already knew: The world is a much less nice, stable, safe place without an American influence. Moreover, the Left’s talk of compassion was a fake.  For example, even as apocalyptic scenes play out in Syria, the Left manifestly doesn’t care.

Wednesday afternoon quick hits (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesIt’s raining!!!  In California, that’s cause for celebration.  Rain in Marin doesn’t mean it’s raining elsewhere, but it certainly matters to use Marin-ites — we have our own reservoir system, so we’re wholly dependent on local rainfall.  Ironically, the rain is slowing down our major yard renovation, and we have to get that renovation down before April 1, when rationing kicks in (and rationing will happen unless we get enormous amounts of rain).  Sigh.  To ever silver lining, there seems to be a cloud.


Since I’m on the subject of weather, here’s a two-fer about the grand hoax that is climate change. The first, from American Thinker, provides compelling evidence that every single carbon centered computer model about the climate has proven to be wrong. Not just sort of wrong, mind you, but absolutely, completely, super-duper wrong. Climate theorists are now blaming volcanoes for the warming failure, but they’ll blame anything, won’t they? If you have a non-falsifiable doctrine, you can always blame external forces for your doctrine’s inevitable failure.


I’ve also got three great articles about Israel. The first looks as all the wonderful things going on in Israel despite the world’s efforts to squash that tiny, brilliant nation. The second looks at the grotesque hypocrisy that sees gay rights advocates champion Palestinians at the expense of Israel. The third looks as the fact that Israel stands poised to save Syrians, the rest of the Middle East, and perhaps the whole world, from the unfathomable danger of a nuclear Syria.


Traditionally in America, a state attorney general is sworn to uphold the laws of the state. After all, if the AG doesn’t do that, what’s his purpose? He’s there to represent and ensure the stability, reliability, and credibility of the law.  If he doesn’t carry out that task, he just becomes another functionary in a banana republic. And that banana republic status is precisely what U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder dreams of, for he has instructed state AG’s to ignore any law that supports traditional marriage.


I’ve written here frequently about the lunacy that is the modern American college or university. This is a subject that exercises me a great deal because I have two children heading towards college in the next few years. As many Americans do, I’m deeply offended by the cost of college, especially the cost of the once prestigious liberal arts colleges back East. It’s insane to spend or borrow $250,000 so that your child can move into your basement and become a barista. In a changing world, colleges have actually changed in the wrong direction.  They’ve turned away entirely from educating young people to become useful and productive citizens.

What colleges have done, instead, is train youngsters to become lunatics, which is my second reason for being upset about modern American higher education. Last week, Bruce Bawer warned about a lunatic Leftist at Harvard. This week, Chicks on the Right warns about a whole cadre of potentially violent lunatic Leftists as Dartmouth. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that this collection of young people expensively unmoored from reality comes from deep within the fever swamps of the gay rights movement.

I’ll say here what I always say: I believe that the government should stay out of people’s bedrooms. I believe that gay people should be free from discrimination, harassment, violence, etc. I believe that the heart loves where it will. But let’s get real here: These loony-toonz aren’t about gay rights.  They are about using the gay agenda as a wedge issue to destroy America as a free-market, individual-centered society, and to replace it with a hard-core centralized government and a socialized economy. I wonder if these “idealists” have any inkling that, when/if they’ve finally achieved their agenda they’ll meet the same fate that leading-edge revolutionaries always experience, whether in 18th Century France, or Russia, or China:  The new statist government identifies them as troublemakers and kills them first.


My sister lives in Oregon, a state that has as its primary goal the creation of happiness. We’ve talked before about the fact that a state can impose “happiness” only if it first has the right to define “happiness.”  The reality, is that there’s only a slender likelihood that the state bureaucrat’s idea of what constitutes “happiness” is the same as your idea.  Moreover, if not everyone is happy — and no one can ever be — the situation is ripe for constant revolution. Still, Oregon tries. The libertarians on the Eastern side are constantly besieged by the statists on the Western, coastal side, who have turned Oregon into one of the most heavily regulated, and least economically successful, states in America. (For more on happiness, at a deep, philosophical level, rather than at a pop-culture, “everything is free” level, check out Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual.)


And finally, knowledge that I gleaned in my youth catches up with the present. I’ve written before about my years at Berkeley, when I socialized with ultra-Leftist professors who lived in lavish houses in the Berkeley hillside, all of which seemed to be tended by Hispanic maids and Japanese gardeners. These effete, armchair revolutionaries enjoyed their Marxism because they lived on the straining back of the servant class.

That was a long time ago, but one modern-day Leftist has finally admitted that, yes, needing servants is precisely why the Leftist idle rich are so gung-ho about illegal immigrants:

As a friend of mine said after watching that, “If a conservative of any stripe were to insinuate undocumented workers were all gardeners, landscapers, and hotel workers the race card would have been played before he could even finish the sentence.”

The Sochi Olympics are boring for myriad reasons

Sochi OlympicsWhile I’m usually not a fan of news shows that sell neatly packaged stories (which is why I prefer the open format of talk radio to the closed format of NPR), there is one quadrennial event that I think benefits from the package approach, and that’s the Olympics.  Back in the day, CBS would present a nightly three-hour package that managed to create an entertaining combination of human interest mixed in with sport’s thrilling highs and sometimes humorous, sometimes tragic lows. In that way, the Olympics were reduced to digestible narratives packed with excitement, drama, humor, and joy.

It helped too that the Olympics weren’t quite so sprawling then.  With fewer events and fewer athletes, it was easier to get a handle on the thing.

The modern Olympic telecast, however, is like the party that never ends.  You can’t find your friends, the people in the room are looking pretty ratty, and you’re desperate to leave but you’re a little worried that, the moment you leave, something interesting will finally happen.  Ultimately, there’s no there there.  Instead, there’s just an endless stream of people who during the winter are often faceless because of masks and helmets, zipping down hills, racing across ice, or flying through the air in patterns that become repetitive and, therefore, boring.

That’s been my complaint for years about the Olympics and explains why I’ve pretty much stopped watching them.  This year, however, I’ve had a new complaint about the absence of drama.  I think I’ll call it the Tom Friedman problem.  Some time ago, Friedman wrote a book called The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century.

In his all too imitable, hackneyed style, Friedman’s book points out the obvious, which is that we increasingly live in a world in which people and ideas can easily get around. There are still borders, but affordable travel, mass immigration, the end of the Cold War, and the internet have meant that people in the West, Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe enjoy a freedom of movement never before imagined. For the most part, I think this is a good thing . . . but it makes for bad Olympics.

In the old days, the athletes at the Olympics were tied closely to the country that they represented. Americans athletes trained in America, Japanese athletes trained in Japan, Eastern Bloc athletes trained in the Eastern Bloc, etc. That’s all gone now.

For example, take 18-year-old Yuzuru Hanyu, who won gold for Japan in men’s figure skating. He is simply phenomenal, someone who manages to make all those jumps and turns look simultaneously effortless and powerful. While he began his training in Japan, for the last two years, he’s been training in Canada. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it does make his victory less about his native land and more about his innate ability combined with the best international coaching.  In the same way, America’s premier ice dancers, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, train with their competitors, Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.  That’s flat earth stuff.

If you track through the list of Olympic athletes, you’ll see that many others train far away from their home countries.  Again, there’s nothing wrong with their doing that but, to the extent that the Olympics used to be about nations competing against each other through their home-grown athletes, that tension is increasingly vanishing and, with it, some of the fun tension behind the games is vanishing too.

It’s not just the Tom Friedman-ized internationalized athletes that make the Olympics a bit dull.  As Ben Shapiro notes, the end of the Cold War has also reduced the games’ excitement:

In the past, classic Olympic Games have acted as a sort of cathartic battle of nations, in which geopolitical foes duke it out on the playing fields, ice, or slopes. The Lake Placid Olympic Games, for example, married great hockey with high political drama: coming in the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and at the low ebb of American power, the Miracle on Ice inspired a nation as a group of college boys took on the mighty Soviet hockey machine. Geopolitical drama lessened but did not die after the Cold War; in 2008, the specter of thousands of seeming automatons banging drums at the opening of the Beijing Games frightened and enthralled the world, reminding us that China was a nation on the rise, a competitor for global dominance.

Considering that Putin eyes world domination and is not friendly to America, you’d think that we’d have some enjoyable competitive tension between nations.  We don’t, though.  According to Shapiro, the problem is that the focus isn’t on major world issues, such as Syria, the Ukraine, and other areas in which freedom and totalitarianism clash.  Instead, says Shapiro, the media has reduced the entire Olympics to a gay rights campaign.  And while gays should be accorded civil rights wherever they live, turning them into a major geopolitical flashpoint isn’t flashy at all.  Instead, it’s somehow very drab and is a convenient way of avoiding more pressing issues about freedom in Russia and beyond:

The media have centered the Sochi Olympics drama entirely on the question of whether gays and lesbians in Russia can kiss in public – even as Russia continues to fund nuclear development for a country that hangs gays. The truth is that while Russian treatment of gays and lesbians is abysmal, it ranks somewhere near the middle of the pack in terms of global treatment: homosexuality is fully legal in Russia, and less than a dozen people have been arrested under the infamous anti-gay propaganda law. This isn’t quite Kristallnacht.


But anti-homosexual laws are part of a broader problem in Russia: a problem of oppression and corruption, of lost power and attempts to reclaim it. So why not focus on the real problem of Russia? Why not draw a moral narrative pitting American freedom against Russian repression and expansionism?

There’s a rationale for that failure of narrative: were the press to point out Russia is a threat to US interests, the press would have to acknowledge that President Obama is weak. The press would have to openly recognize that Obama has been bested by a two-bit KGB bully. Obama, in other words, would have to lose.

(Please read Ben Shapiro’s whole article here.  It’s worth your time.)

Put another way, Thomas Friedman’s entire flat earth theory has been reduced to the flat surface known as a bed, as Western reporters anxiously peer into Russian beds and try to divine who is sleeping in them free from or burdened by prejudice.  In our new Flat Earth world, we are no longer riven by nationalities or ideologies.  Instead, we’re trying to decide through athletics which country treats its gays best.

Gays, like Jews, are the canaries in the coal mine.  They thrive in free societies and suffer under tyrannies.  The remedy isn’t to focus narrowly on their suffering but, instead, to attack the tyrannies root and branch.  Our media, however, is so busy with the petty stuff that it’s incapable of realizing that doing so gives a free pass to the very circumstances that subject Russian gays to everything from insults to deadly persecution.

Having now complained about the boring, draggy Olympic production, I nevertheless applaud the individual athletes who have given over their entire lives to this moment.  As a well-seasoned adult, I think it’s a rather foolish way to spend ones time, but I nevertheless think it’s wonderful that, in free societies, people have the absolute right to engage in activities that require innumerable surgeries or that can see all their efforts thrown away in hundredths of seconds.

My favorite moment was U.S. figure skater Jeremy Abbott’s amazing will power.  Having hit the ice with appalling force across his hip and ribs, he nevertheless gathered himself up and completed a near perfect program, succumbing to the pain only when he left the ice.  I also really enjoyed the cool pleasure with which T.J. Oshie scored the winning shoot-off goals.  Most people would have been sweating bullets were they in his shoes.  He just looked relaxed and happy.



Is it Wednesday already? Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesI’m typing away on an iPad while reclining on a couch with a passive motion machine relentlessly (and painlessly, thank God) cycling my leg between 27 and 63 degrees. The dog walker I realized I needed to hire is coming later today and, with luck, my oldest passes her long-scheduled driver’s license test. All will be good.

I’m also alert enough now to pay attention to the world around me, and anxious to share some good posts with you. Typos will probably abound, so please forgive me in advance.

A whole lot of the best posts today, of course involve the Emperor’s unilaterally and illegal decision to delay significant parts of ObamaCare so as to help 2014 election outcomes for Democrats. As is so often the case lately, Charles C.W. Cooke hits another one out of the park.

Immediately after reading about Michelle’s $12,000 dress and her tweeted photo of her dogs festooned in jewels at a fancy table, I read about Obama’s out-of-touch moment at Monticello.

The irony of course is that Obama’s violating the Constitution for nothing. There is no way (as we always knew) that ObamaCare would ever work.

I’m at the point where I’m running out if commentary about these two. They clearly think they’re king and queen, which is an ugly, dangerous delusion — but the fact is that they’ve got a host of powerful enablers fostering their delusion and making ever thicker the walls if the bubble around them. I’m not excusing the Obamas — I think they embrace their power and mean to use it to America’ detriment and their benefit — but they’re certainly being encouraged by a lack of serious pushback (including from Congressional Republicans).

Speaking of pushback, though, I do think popular culture is beginning to tire of PC tyranny. Its too much effort to find and insert links, but the last few months have seen people doubting global warming (I.e., worst winter since the last worse winter); the Duck Dynasty guys refused to back down; the Washington Redskins refused to down and are even fighting back; and Jerry Seinfeld made a stand for true humor. I’ve said before and I’ll say again that I think we’re going to see more and more worms turning.

A good primer about the lawsuit ClimateGate’s Michael Mann brought against Mark Steyn, National Review et al, for daring to challenge his veracity after the release of documents showing him lying about, obfuscating, and hiding data.

More to follow. Quite amazingly tired now.

Narcotics blogging

imageI don’t usually take narcotics — indeed, I assiduously avoid them — but I’m making an exception for the next few days, which make affect the quality of my blogging.

I went to the hospital this morning for an outpatient meniscus trimming in my knee and for a look-see at what was going on under my patella. Last time I had the surgery, I was walking the next day, so that’s what. I expected this time. Wrong!

I came home an hour ago on crutches, and will be unable to bear any weight for six weeks. Every night, I need to be hooked up to a machine that constantly moves my joint.

Inconvenient, but here are the good things — just coincidentally, my older kid (I hope) qualifies for a driver’s license (thanks to a long-standing appointment with the DMV); and can therefore do the shopping; with luck, and I may have a usable knee for another ten years.

Here’s what happened: When he opened me up, my surgeon discovered that my cartilage was all gone (explaining the pain). He therefore drilled holes into my bone to reach stem cells. The hope is that the constant motion at night, when combined I found it uplifting, Rob. I needed that today. I went into Kaiser this morning for an outpatient meniscus trimming in my knee and for a look-see at what was going on under my patella. I came home an hour ago on crutches, and will be unable to bear any weight for six weeks. Every night, I need to be hooked up to a machine that constantly moves my joint.

Inconvenient, but here are the good things — my daughter (I hope) qualifies for her driver’s license Wednesday and can therefore do the shopping, and I may have a usable knee for another ten years.

Once he opened me up, my surgeon discovered that my cartilage was all gone. He therefore drilled holes into my bone to reach the marrow. The hope is that the constant motion at night, when combined with the exposed stem cells, will encourage my body to grow new cartilage. Pretty cool, right?

I don’t quite know what the next day or two hold in terms of blogging. Good stuff, I hope.

Barry Rubin, RIP

Barry-RubinBarry Rubin, one of the most astute, knowledgeable, and humanistic observers of the intersection between Israel and the rest of the world died yesterday from cancer, at age 64.  I cannot improve on Rick Moran’s words about him:

Barry Rubin was director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA), and a professor at the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Israel. He was also editor of the journal Turkish Studies, and penned frequent columns at PJ Media where he served as Middle East Editor.

His “voice” rang true when he defended Israel, especially from western critics. But Rubin was no apologist for the Jewish state, being a frequent critic of government policies. He also brought clarity to the Palestinian issue, exposing the blindness of the Obama administration to the real goals of Palestinian diplomacy.

His criticism of Secretary of State Kerry (and his predecessor Hillary Clinton) was harsh, fact based, and relentless, exposing their naivete and stupidity time and time again. Few scholars had the depth of knowledge and understanding of the entire region – its history, its people its politics – and Dr. Rubin employed this understanding to show how dreadful American policy in the region had become.

His output was astonishing. Columns, blog posts, books, as well as editing GLORIA’s website.

Despite his prodigious knowledge and lucid writing, the establishment assiduously ignored Dr. Rubin.  He had the temerity to defend Israel at a time when it has become increasingly unpopular to do so (although he was never a slavish sycophant), and he hung out with a conservative coterie.  The establishment couldn’t forgive these “sins.”

My own contact with Barry took place in a series of emails over the years when this great man was kind enough to compliment my work and engage in conversations with me about Israel and the American political scene.  I was not the only beneficiary of this generosity.  Again, from Rick Moran:

One of the little known contributions Dr. Rubin made to the defense of Israel was his mentoring of students, bloggers, and writers. Dozens of men and women received the benefit of his wisdom. No one who worked with him could forget the largeness of spirit he demonstrated while sharing his thoughts and ideas.

Dr. Rubin’s death is a great loss at so many levels — to his family, to his close friends, to the intellectual world, and to those who had the pleasure of being on the receiving end of his great generosity of spirit.

Rest in Peace, Dr. Rubin.  You will be greatly missed.

Gracie self-defense video catalog

Steve Maxwell is an amazing martial artist and teacher.  (I’ve trained with him, so I know what I’m talking about.)  I believe he’s in his 60s, but he has the strength and agility of an above-average really in-shape 20-year-old. He’s in demand all over the world as a high-level MMA, jujitsu, and general fitness trainer.

If you’re interested in some down-and-dirty street fighting techniques, you might find his video catalog helpful.

Saturday potluck (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesYet another dirty little Obamacare secret:  For the most part, Obamacare isn’t providing insurance for the uninsured.  Instead, it’s forcing the previously insured to buy more expensive insurance than they already had, along with painfully higher deductibles than they were previously paying.  Yes, there are definitely people with pre-existing conditions who are benefiting, but they’re such a small part of the overall picture that there had to have been a better, less disruptive, cheaper way to take care of their insurance needs.

Does anyone else hear the deafening silence from Congressional Republicans as IRS puts into place regulation permanently stifling conservative political speech?

I haven’t read it yet myself, but my friend Dave Forsmark’s The Forest of Assassins is getting some good early reviews. Robert Ferrigno, who is the NY Times best-selling novelist of Prayers for the Assassin: A Novel says “a great read, a novel as good as the best journalism, with vivid and accurate details driving a tale of danger and deception and betrayal during the Vietnam War. This book doesn’t just feel researched, it feels lived.”  (Here’s another favorable review at PJ Media.)  Forsmark describes it as “the true still classified account of Navy SEAL operations at the beginning of the Vietnam War.”  I’ve put it on my wish list for my next round of book-buying.

Two posts about Obama’s teflon presidency, one serious and one incredibly funny.  My friend Ron the Cop talks about Obama’s big Benghazi lie; while The Onion takes a light-hearted, but eerily accurate look at the media’s manifest unwilling to do any negative Obama coverage.  (Hat tip to Libby for the Onion post.)

I think we need to end this with a little music, just because:

Back in the saddle and ready to blog

Victorian posy of pansiesLong, long day.  Really long.  I spent it with my mother, an experience that always exhausts me.  Age has sucked everything but the life out of her.  There’s no vestige anymore of the person she once was.  That saddens me, even though I know it’s the way of things.  A day spent with her is no longer a day with Mom, which used to be my delight, but is, instead, a day spent with a very frail, very slow, somewhat confused, usually grumpy, very passive-aggressive, lovingly narcissistic, obsessive compulsive person.

I don’t regret the time.  I still love the person she was, so I care deeply for the person she is, but I always arrive home completely drained.  It takes energy for me to slow down to her speed (which is the same reason I never enjoyed toddlers) and it takes even more energy for me to deal with her relentless negativity and to track, and respond appropriately to, her often obscure conversation.  I’m a grumpy person myself, so I’ve told both the kids to kick me in the tuchus if, when I’m old, I whine endlessly.  I’ve told them to feel free to threaten me with their absence if I don’t clean up (or cheer up) my act.

Thankfully, I’ve now had a couple of hours to decompress.  My husband took my daughter and her friends to the movies, the dogs are washed and resting nearby, and the mouse is making music on its creaky little wheel.  Everything is peaceful.  I like peaceful, since it gives my brain freedom.  And with that mental freedom comes the urge to share my thoughts.  Here goes:


Upside down nazi salute quenelleThe new Nazi salute rises in Europe.  Its practitioners say it’s a joke, because they angle their stiff arm downwards, not upwards.  Their claim that it’s a joke is a lie, of course.  They pair this neo-Nazi salute with the same venomous anti-Semitism that led the Nazis to create the gas chambers.  Also, it’s very bizarre to see black men do this salute, since the Nazis believed firmly in black racial inferiority  Hitler, as many recall, was livid when Jesse Owens swept the races during the 1936 Munich Olympics.  How dare he prove false one of the Nazi’s racial theories.


Bloody fingerprints in BenghaziAndrew McCarthy has penned one of his best posts.  In addition to shredding the purported facts in the now-infamous New York Times whitewash of Benghazi history (which I won’t dignify with a link), McCarthy zeroes in on the real purpose behind the story — and it’s not just to salvage Hillary’s reputation:

[T]he objective of Kirkpatrick’s novella is not to persuade; it is to shrink the parameters of newsworthy inquiry to a punctilious debate over nonsense: The cockamamie trailer and the dizzying jihadist org chart.


Coherence and historical accuracy are not what the Times is after. The aim is to drag our consideration of a jihadist act of war down a rabbit hole of nitpicking over which jihadists did what. Meanwhile, the Obama administration’s derelictions before, during, and after the massacre — the matter of greatest consequence — remain studiously outside this wearying crossfire.

Remember, the Times-Clinton tag team has run this play before. Start with a president using a young intern to turn the Oval Office into a brothel and then perjuring himself over it. Ought to be a removable offense, right? But the next thing you know, after some epic media investigation dictated by Democratic talking points, we find ourselves kvetching over whether it was really sex; whether she was of consenting age; whether he really lied; whether the lies were really “material”; whether a president’s Oval Office trysts are really part of his “private life”; and “what the definition of ‘is’ is.”

See? None of the ever tinier questions or answers matter. The idea is to exhaust the American attention span until enough people are persuaded that it’s time to — all together now — move on.

McCarthy ends his post with dozens of the big questions, the ones that need to be asked.  The tragedy of those questions, a tragedy in many ways greater even than those four lonely, violent deaths in Benghazi, is that no one will ever ask them.  The media surrounding Obama and Hillary doesn’t want to know the answer to those questions, and Obama and Hillary will be careful to avoid every coming into contact with the people willing to ask them.


Behead those who insult IslamCaroline Glick sees a silver lining to that same New York Times article.  She believes that the Times, while trying to whitewash Obama and Hillary, accidentally admitted an important truth:  Radical Islam, which is a worldwide phenomenon made up of many groups and individuals, is the problem.   Al Qaeda is just one tiny drop in the Islamist ocean.  This reality runs counter to Obama’s own narrative.

Since bin Laden’s death, as you know, Obama has been boasting that al Qaeda is dead, meaning that America no longer need fear massive terrorist attacks or global warfare.  With that fiction in place, Obama has felt free to pal around with Iran, the Taliban, the Turkish government, etc.  The New York Times just blew that fiction to smithereens.  Either al Qaeda was the main actor in Benghazi, which means that Obama lied when he said it was defeated, dropped the ball in Benghazi, and lied after the fact; or al Qaeda didn’t commit the Benghazi massacre, which means that Obama lied when he said al Qaeda was the only Islamic enemy, and that he’s been exposing America to terrible danger by refusing to acknowledge terrorists other than al Qaeda.

I agree with Glick in principle, but believe that only a small subset of Americans will appreciate these subtleties.  Either they support Obama and Hillary or they don’t.  Nothing else matters.


UCLAJonathan Marks writes a brilliant take-down of the antisemitic American Studies Association.

And speaking of the travesty that is modern academia, if you can get behind the Wall Street Journal’s paywall, please check out Heather MacDonald’s masterful exposure of the rot at the heart of UCLA’s English literature department.  Shakespeare is out and now English majors must take “a total of three courses in the following four areas: Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability and Sexuality Studies; Imperial, Transnational, and Postcolonial Studies; genre studies, interdisciplinary studies, and critical theory; or creative writing.”

It sure sounds as if the English Lit department has been transformed into the Marxist Social Issues department.  The students will learn how not to think.  Well, they’re actually learning how not to think in every department at every major American university.  (In years past, I might have excluded the sciences from that blanket statement, but the sciences’ impassioned embrace of the global warming hoax reveals that academia is tainted in toto.)  Worse, these English majors will never learn learn about the beauty of their mother tongue nor will they be exposed to big ideas about human kind.  Instead, their prose, and the thoughts underlying that prose, will be like this:

At its most intimate, colonization involves bodies, altering how subjects experience and conceive of desire, hunger, touch, comfort, pleasure, and pain. This panel seeks participants from all disciplines engaged with the objects of early American studies to contribute to a discussion of method and theory for understanding early American carnality. In particular, it is concerned with the intersection of bodily sensation with evolving understandings of empire, nation, encounter, and resistance. How was colonization effected through and affected by sensation? How do theories of affect and intimacy impact current early American historiographies, and vice versa? How might Americanists reconceptualize our understandings of the significance of empire and colonization through attentiveness to early American sensation? Proposals that consider race, gender, and/or sexuality dynamically or that explore economic status, religion, local conditions, or ethno-cultural identities as part of carnality strongly encouraged (though naming some themes is not meant to exclude other possibilities).

Each panelist will present a 10 minute paper and be paired with a respondent who will provide prepared comments. Respondents will ideally be non-early Americanists in order to foster temporal interdisciplinarity.

Mr. Bookworm doesn’t understand why I’m resistant to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to send my children to big name colleges. It’s not just that they’re rife with antisemitism and anti-Americanism.  It’s because major universities such as UCLA are neutering and Marx-icizing their English departments, meaning that the universities’ ultimate goal is for America’s “best and brightest” (or at least, her “A” and “B” students) to be taught to think and write in the way of American academics.


Nuns caring for the sickEverything you need to know about the Obama administration:  It frees from prison Lynne Stewart, an unrepentant Communist who actively aided Islamist terrorism against the US, even as it gets ever-more-deeply involved in a down and dirty fight with nuns who refuse to let  the government force them to violate their religious conscience.  My money is on the nuns.  Obama may have a rigid ideology on his side, but the nuns are members of God’s army, and they will not give up the fight.  Fortunately, the Archdiocese of New York is not playing nice but is, instead, telling the world exactly what the Obama administration is doing — and what it’s doing is discriminating against traditional religion.


Bradley KasalMary Tudor (1516-1558) lost Calais, the last English outpost in France.  She found that loss so horrifying that she said, “When I am dead and opened, you shall find `Calais’ lying in my heart.”  Barack Obama has lost Fallujah, the city that American troops, especially Marines, bled and died for, probably in greater numbers than in any other geographic site in our decade long battle against Islamists in Iraq and Afghanistan.  He hasn’t said a single word about this terrible loss, nor does he seem to care that he’s allowed ten years of hard-fought military victories to vanish in the blink of an eye.  When Obama dies and is opened, not only will no one find ‘Fallujah’ lying in his heart, no one will find a heart.


Obama looking stupidTom Blumer details the five myths people have to believe in order to accept the Obama presidency as anything other than a disaster.  Two involve the economy, one involves Obamacare, one involves climate change, and the last is about national security.  2014 may well be the death of all these myths, but we’ll still be saddled with two more years of Obama.


Kennedy girls 1960The Democrat party used to have genuine liberals in its numbers — people with a broad, classic education who envisioned a world that was better with America, not a world better off without America.  They may have been useful idiots who were unaware that they represented the pretty front of hardcore Leftism, but they were real.

These old-time liberal Democrats were the people who believed in equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.  They believed that men and women were different (and viva la difference), but that women were entitled to equal treatment under the law.  They would have scoffed at the notion that men, and all their biological impulses, are dangerous and  perverse, and should therefore be destroyed.  They believed wholeheartedly that blacks were their brothers and sisters, and deserved full standing under the law.  They would have been shocked to hear that the blacks were to be treated economically as marginally intelligent infants and sexually as uncontrolled adolescents.  That’s how the KKK and Jim Crow viewed blacks, and true liberal Democrats fought against those demeaning stereotypes.

Old-time liberal Democrats believed that Israel was a feisty nation, rooted in the Bible, burnished in the terrible crucible of the Holocaust, and to be applauded for fighting against the forces of Communist and Arabist darkness.  They would have been unable to comprehend a world in which their party mouthpieces bellowed loudly that Jews are the new Nazis, simply because they are trying to protect their whole country and their individual citizens from being overrun by genocidal, anti-Christian, misogynistic, homophobic, medieval minds.

Those old-time liberals Democrats, who did truly exist, are gone now.  To those of you like myself who were once Leftists, but now identify as conservatives, you’re not imagining it:  the political party you left beyond has truly gone ’round the bend.  They’re all Marxists now.


When seconds count, the police are always minutes (74 minutes in this case) away.  Thank God for legal guns.

The costs of being a homeowner, and other Friday ruminations

I spent the day making house doesn't look like this one.

I spent the day making sure that my house doesn’t look like this one.

I have had a busy day.  The dishwasher sprang a leak that was, thankfully, easy to repair:  the repairman put in a new seal and the leak was over.  He was here for about 20 minutes and put in one 6-foot-long seal.  Thankfully, we have appliance insurance, because he said that, without the insurance, the repair would have cost $250.00 for parts and service.  Yikes!

The dishwasher wasn’t the only thing leaking.  The upstairs bathtub was leaking into the garage.  We had one plumber out yesterday who diagnosed a tub waste overflow and said it would cost $700 to fix.  We politely sent him away.  I called around and another guy said that he thought it would take an hour to fix, at a cost of $250 per hour for labor, plus $100 for the part — but it might be more, and could come up close to $700.  Better, but not good enough.

I called around one more time, and got a guy who said that he’d do it for a flat fee of $350 based on my say-so.

I asked, surprised, “So you’re going to base the price just on what I said?”

He answered with another question, stated in a friendly voice.  “Are you lying to me?”

“Gosh, no,” I said.  “But I’m just telling you what the other guy said.  I didn’t actually see it myself.”

He thought about that for a minute and then said, “Why don’t I just come by tomorrow [Friday] and check it out?”

That sounded like a plan.  He came by, he checked it out, and he announced that it was a simple fix that he could do right away — for $135.  When he was done, he told me, “I’m going to give you a bill, but don’t pay it now.  Keep an eye on things until Monday.  If it’s still good, put a check in the mail.  If it’s not, I’ll come out again, but I won’t charge any more than $350 if we have to replace the tub waste overflow part.”

So far, despite shower use, there’s been no further leaking.

For those of you who live in Marin County, if you’d like this honest paragon’s name, send me an email and I’ll give you the information.  You can probably find him on Yelp:  He’s the guy with 102 five-star recommendations, all saying the same thing:  incredibly reliable, honest, and good at what he does.  I can’t argue with that.  In fact, I’ll be the 103rd five-star recommendation if all continues to go well.

The plumber had scarcely left when the landscape guys showed up.  Our pool, which was the delight of the neighborhood children, is now a dysfunctional swamp.  Built 45 years ago, despite our best efforts to keep it going, it finally gave up the ghost this summer.  As is always the case, once we decided we needed to redo the pool, we realized we also needed to redo the cement surround . . . and, hey, if we’re doing that, maybe we’d better smarten up the whole place.  We hired a landscape designer who came up with a lovely idea that was more expensive than we wanted.  We’ve worked with him, though, and seem to have come up with a plan in our price range.  The only sticking point now is whether the Marin drought will make the whole process impossible.

Droughts make me very, very unhappy. I was in high school when the big drought hit at the end of the 1970s.  Despite living most of my life in semi-arid climates, I love water and I especially love rain.  Not having rain makes me feel emotionally dried-up inside.  I also hate water rationing.  I don’t know what we’d have to do this time around, but I’m sure I won’t like it.  Back in the 1970s, we bathed in two inches of water, and then saved the water in buckets so as to flush the toilets.  My mom captured the rinse load from the washing machine to use to water her garden, but all the plants died anyway.  Everything looked dead and barren — and the toilets smelled bad.  I bet many of you remember “When it’s yellow let it mellow; when it’s brown, flush it down”?  I really hated that.

I know that drought here is a cyclical thing.  It’s happened before and it will happen again, and it will probably be followed by winters with such heavy rains that everything floods.  The floods make for miserable driving, and periodically destroy vast swathes of homes, but I still prefer a wet winter to a drought.

This is just another reminder, as if we need one, that Nature likes to let us know that we are as nothing before her.  We can try to minimize her impact, but we cannot control her.

Anyway, that’s why I haven’t read anything or written anything today.

Thinking about that last statement, it’s not quite accurate.  Oyster Books, which advertises unlimited books (the Netflix of books) is offering a one month free trial.  I thought that sounded interesting, so I signed up, remembered to calendar the date by which I have to cancel if I don’t want to continue with the service, and started reading.  Thanks to this temporary membership, between visits from repairmen, landscape designers, and plumbers, I am reading 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement, a delightful social history of New York’s Lower East Side as seen through the food different immigrant groups ate. I love this kind of book (one of my favorites is No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting), and 97 Orchard is well written.

And that’s all.  I’ve a small mountain of bills to pay, so that too will keep me away from my beloved blog.  So it goes.  At least I finished my legal brief, which got filed today.  I think it’s a winner, but one never knows what those judges are going to do….

Work day round-up

Victorian posy of pansiesWork and family call, but that doesn’t mean I’m not sneaking quick peeks at articles that I can then share with you.

Is the global warming tipping point nearing?  It will inevitably happen, but far too late to save the billions of dollars wasted, the lives lost in revolutions it fomented (e.g., Egypt’s tumultuous years were caused, in significant part, by rising food prices attributed to shortages as Egypt’s food was diverted to America’s biofuel), and the generation of children raised in apocalyptic fear.

My bet is that New York’s going to revert to savagery very quickly under Mayor de Blasio, and I have no sympathy for the more than 70% of New Yorkers who voted for him.  I have the deepest sympathy for the small remainder who are about to face Progressive Armageddon.  The Clintons, however, are banking on the hard-Left’s success in New York.

Speaking of de Blasio, he’s auditioning for the role of “bad guy” in a remake of Bless the Beasts and Children, since his first policy initiative means killing off animals (in this case, horses).

It’s Obama versus the Church, with Obama claiming to know more about Church doctrine than the Church does itself.  Hubris plays out in interesting ways.

The disaster that is America’s adoption system.  The dreadful numbers — hundreds of thousands of children languishing in foster care — are directly attributable to the Democrat’s racial agenda, which bars adoption “miscegenation” (meaning that whites are barred from adopting non-whites).

Lebanon is getting sucked into Syria’s civil war.  Expect human casualties on a massive, hitherto unseen-in-the-Middle-East scale.  Obama will wring his hands and then side with whichever strongman he can find to give him cover.  Currently, those strong men reside in Moscow and Tehran.  This will not end well — although it may give Israel something of a respite as Muslims take a break from trying to kill Jews — ultimately these internecine battles between Sunni and Shia spill over all sorts of borders.

I’m with Jonathan Last:  2014 will be the year Obama’s chickens come home to roost.  Or as another Illinois politician once said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.”

Keith Koffler is always interesting, so I enjoyed his analysis of the Duck Dynasty versus GLAAD match-up.

And if you were wondering where Bloomberg played Nanny in New York, here’s the list.