The Bookworm Beat (10/18/14) — Saturday night special edition, Open Thread

Woman writingAfter a day of wholesome domesticity, what could be better than a little political commentary? As was the case yesterday, I want to begin with a comment about a Facebook poster a liberal friend put up. This one has to do with complaints about the Obama administration’s anything-but-rapid response to Ebola, a disease threat that’s been hanging around since 1976.  The liberal cadre are arguing that Obama’s conduct compares favorably to Reagan’s silence about AIDS:

Reagan on AIDS versus Obama on Ebola

Certainly, it would have been better had Reagan spoken about AIDS sooner, rather than later. I suspect, however, that his silence was dictated by a fundamental difference between AIDS and Ebola: AIDS is a sexually transmitted disease, and Reagan came of age in a time when one didn’t speak about STDs from the White House’s bully pulpit.

Putting aside the stigma attached to sexually transmitted diseases, AIDS had a few other distinctions from Ebola: For one thing, it quickly became apparent that the vast majority of people could avoid AIDS in two ways: (1) They could stop having unprotected sex and (2) they could stop sharing dirty needles. (I’m not ignoring people who got AIDS through tainted blood transfusions. They, sadly, were not part of that vast majority.)  Those of us around in the early 1980s remember how the gay community stridently and ferociously resisted any government efforts to slow unbridled bathhouse promiscuity.  They wanted a cure, so long as it didn’t affect their sex lives.

For another thing, AIDS, unlike Ebola, moves slowly. While it’s very contagious, the speed with which it spreads through a community, especially when people start behaving wisely, is limited. In this regard, it’s entirely unlike Ebola which, left unchecked, can move with deadly speed even amongst people taking reasonable precautions.  Worse, it can be a tidal wave when people, for reasons of culture, poverty, or broken infrastructure, can’t take precautions at all. In other words, Reagan had years to think about the subject before speaking (although his government was working on AIDS before he spoke), while Obama is staring at pandemic that has the potential to attack America the way the plague struck Athens in 430 B.C.

Bottom line: While Reagan erred in keeping his mouth shut in 1940s gentleman-like fashion, the two diseases are not comparable. Given Ebola’s speed of transmission and the difficulty in controlling its rate of infection, it is the height of irresponsibility for Obama to treat the problem as a political one, rather than a public health crisis with imminent and ominous overtones.

And now back to your regularly scheduled round-up:

Why did the US interfere with Israel’s search for a kidnapped soldier during Israel’s Operation Protective Edge?

It doesn’t seem to be a secret to anybody at this point in the Obama administration that Obama personally and the administration as a general matter are hostile to Israel. But just how strong is that hostility? In today’s Jewish Press, Lori Lowenthal Marcus tells how the US shut down the search for a kidnapped Israeli soldier and says that it’s time to find out why the US put the kibosh on the request:

The request [for American aid] was coursing through channels when all of a sudden the doors slam shut. An ordinary request that by all rights and beliefs should have been processed swiftly by one ally for another was peremptorily quashed. The request was denied and instead the U.S. prosecutors who had already geared up to assist our ally were told to stand down. Someone, somewhere in the U.S. government had decided instead that a formal, lengthy process was required, one that completely ignored the immediacy of the situation. That message was sent in an email from the FBI.

But the FBI does not make foreign policy decisions. It was not the FBI who yanked the lifeline from the Israeli captured behind enemy lines. So who did?

Obama’s mad as Hell and he’s not going to take it anymore

Obama’s standard line when his administration is shown to be corrupt or incompetent is to say that he’s as surprised as anyone else to learn about the trouble, that he’s mad as Hell (which is his most recent pronouncement about the CDC’s Ebola response), and that he’s going to go looking for some ass to kick. This response was arguably an acceptable line to take when Obama first became president, because he inherited much of the bureaucracy in place during the Bush administration.

Now, though, six years into Obama’s presidency, the ass he should kick should be his own. A fish rots from the head, and Obama is the head of this lumbering, incompetent monster that we call the federal government.

Oh, and while I’m on the subject, I read somewhere (and I don’t remember where), that Americans shouldn’t expect the federal government to be instantly efficient when it comes to Ebola. After all, we’re the ones who are always saying that Big Government is a problem because it’s inherently inefficient. And that’s true . . . for Big Government. The thing is that epidemic management is a core government function. If the government wasn’t futzing away its time and our money sticking its nose into and trying to control everything under the sun, it might show a bit more competence when it comes to the jobs it’s actually supposed to do — like preparing for epidemic diseases at home and abroad.  A conservative’s whole point is that government should be small, and that it’s reasonable to expect small government to function efficiently if it sticks within its purview.

Obama continues his obstinate refusal to block flights and immigrants from West Africa

Obama did a weekly address today assuring Americans that the Ebola crisis is under control. For the most part, it was standard and appropriate.  He told people that the federal government knows what it’s doing and that Ebola isn’t really that contagious at all (“I’ve met and hugged some of the doctors and nurses who’ve treated Ebola patients.”) Of course, whether anybody believes our serial liar in chief, especially when the evidence of their own eyes tells them something other than what he’s saying) is a different question. I prefer to get my information from sources other than our president.

What did surprise me was Obama’s stubborn insistence that nothing’s going to stop him from keeping our borders open to West Africans:

Finally, we can’t just cut ourselves off from West Africa, where this disease is raging. Our medical experts tell us that the best way to stop this disease is to stop it at its source-before it spreads even wider and becomes even more difficult to contain. Trying to seal off an entire region of the world-if that were even possible-could actually make the situation worse. It would make it harder to move health workers and supplies back and forth. Experience shows that it could also cause people in the affected region to change their travel, to evade screening, and make the disease even harder to track.

That’s one of the stupidest things Obama has said to date, and that’s saying something. There is absolutely no reason we can’t at least take steps to ensure that a specific region of the world has minimal contact with us for the time being. Americans understand that there will always be people who slip through the cracks, but that as a general matter, it’s wise to slow the flow of West African travelers into America. Moreover, a government that can make every plane trip a living nightmare for Americans can certainly put some barriers in place against West African travelers.

Americans also understand that announcing a stop to West African flights is not the same as announcing that America will henceforth stop giving aid to West Africa.  We know that the government can exempt itself from the travel ban and ensure continued American aid to that region, in terms of both personnel and supplies. After all, Obama just sent the Marines there, complete with their four hours of training in how to prevent the spread of Ebola.

I’m pretty certain that Obama’s stubbornness on this issue has nothing to do with protecting Americans, and everything to do with making sure that it doesn’t look as if America is keeping out black people.

With Ebola, it’s the strippers who take the lead

Thank God that at least some people have a sense of social responsibility — people like the two male Texas strippers who have voluntarily quarantined themselves after discovering that they sat within a few feet of Amber Vinson, the nurse who flew while becoming symptomatic with Ebola:

Goode and a stripper pal, Taylor Cole, voluntarily pulled themselves out of circulation after the pair sat near an infected nurse on a Cleveland-to-Dallas flight. They vowed to stay in their homes for 21 days, a move suggested — but not required — by the CDC.

“It doesn’t take an intelligent person to make a good decision,” Goode, who comes from a family of pharmacists, told the Daily News. “If a stripper can make a decision that’s more responsible than the CDC, then surely other people can make those decisions, too. It’s not rocket science.”

Am I the only one who finds troubling the fact that two strippers have more sense and decency than the American president?

Jonah Goldberg explains why Ebola is so devastating to the Left

When I grow up, I want to write (and think) like Jonah Goldberg. Really:

Liberals believe in government. I don’t just mean they believe in it as an institution — conservatives and, yes, libertarians, believe in the institution of government. After all, what is all this reverence for the Constitution about if you don’t believe in the government it establishes? No, liberals believe in government as a source of meaning, as a shaper of souls (though don’t ask them to use the word “soul”), a creator of values, and a reliable tool for the guiding hand of progressive experts to rightly order our lives. As the opening video at the Democratic convention proclaimed without a sense of irony: “Government is the one thing we all belong to.”

And this is why government incompetence, or even mere government fallibility and error, present a unique problem for the Party of Government. To be fair, plenty of smart liberals can concede that government gets stuff wrong. But it’s always a difficult concession to make. And if you divide up such concessions between instances where liberals place the blame squarely on government itself and instances where they blame politicians for not going “all the way” with government, you find that the vast majority fall into the category of “if only we had more government.” The overwhelming majority of liberal critiques of Obamacare, for instance, hinge on the complaint that it didn’t go far enough. If only we went with single payer, and completely chased the moneychangers out of the temple of health care, everything would be fine. The War on Poverty failed because $20 trillion amounts to woeful underfunding when measured against the yardstick of the infinite funding liberals desire.

In crude Marxist terms, liberals have a theory of infallible government that is constantly at war with the reality of life. Hence the old joke(s): “Sure it works in practice, but does it work in theory?”

A few words about California’s “Yes Means Yes” law

As you know, California has enacted a “Yes Means Yes” law requiring students in California’s colleges and universities to get affirmative consent every step of the way when they engage in amorous activities.

“May I remove your jacket?”

“Yes.”

“May I remove your shirt?”

“Yes. And may I remove your shirt?”

“Yes. And may I remove your bra?”

“Yes. May I unbuckle your belt?”

Some may be tempted to take short cuts (“May I remove all your clothes?”) but that would be dangerous to do, given the law’s draconian consequences.

Ezra Klein, who has worked harder than most to ensure that America’s media is a hard-working arm of the Democrat party, wrote an article applauding the law, even as he acknowledged that it would lead to kangaroo courts. Klein has been properly indoctrinated by feminists and understands that all men are rapists at heart. Therefore, it’s exceedingly important that as many as possible be publicly humiliated and destroyed, whether they’re innocent or not, so as to make a point.

(Given Klein’s standards, I think he should be banned from watching the nightly news.  Otherwise, me might start getting ideas from ISIS and begin demanding that people who are accused of violating Progressive feminist norms, whether innocent or guilty, get crucified so as to strike fear into the hearts of other social troglodytes who might be contemplating wolf whistles, holding doors open for pregnant women, or offering their seats to old ladies.)

Klein’s position was a bridge to far even for fellow progressives. He therefore found himself in the unusual position of getting attacked from both Left and Right. He therefore did what you’d expect a young, much-feted, politically Left narcissist to do: he doubled down on his position. Robert Shibley, of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, went after Klein’s latest effort with the written equivalent of a howitzer, and his fisking is a joy to read.

Shibley manages to touch upon everything, from the law’s fundamental unenforceability, to the Left’s continued infantilization of American women, to the fake “rape crisis” on America’s campuses and, most importantly, to the misanthropic witch hunts that take place on America’s college campuses. Across the land — and now with extra ammunition in California — academic tribunals intended for plagiarism and cheating scandals, are hauling students (invariably male) before kangaroo courts and, in proceedings completely free of even minimal due process protections, adjudicating alleged felonies and destroying men’s lives in the process.

Oh, and while I’m on the subject of faux rapes, nouveau feminist Lena Dunham (she of the bad prose and excessively naked body) backed of slight from her claim that a Young Republican raped her while she was at college. I’ve already pointed out that, while Dunham calls it rape, her own description of the evening shows that she was wasted and, lacking rational capacity, ended up having sex with someone she found unappealing. The next day, when she decided that she regretted that sex, she and her roommate decided it was rape.

Perhaps because I’m not the only one who noticed her despicable accusation, one founded in remorse over her own behavior rather than the young man’s actual conduct, Dunham sent out this defensive tweet that seems to exonerate her alleged attacker of evil intent:

Read more here about Dunham’s “rape” claims.  It’s apparent that they have little to do with actual rape but, instead, are grounded equally in misanthropy, hostility to the GOP, and the same exhibitionism that sees her slough off her clothes at the slightest opportunity.  Dunham should be shut down.  Her position is an insult to all women, throughout history, who have suffered the horror of a genuine rape attack, rather than a burst of regret about their own promiscuous, drunken behavior.

The answer to my request for a poster showing the difference between ID for voting and buying guns

Yesterday, I asked for a pithy poster that would explain the difference between showing ID to vote and showing ID to buy a gun. Biscuit came through for me:

Futurama on voter ids

And a few pictures

I found these pictures myself, so they’re not as good as the ones that Caped Crusader, Sadie, and other readers send me. Sorry.

Getting your news from Jon Stewart and Hogan's Heroes

Three stooges and the CDC

Photo ids are too hard

Rap loses to rock

No Founding Father ever wanted president of unlimited power

War on terrorism and a hippy

Trusting dogs who don't like a person

Obama's ebola signature

Difference between Nixon and Obama

The Bookworm Beat (10/17/14) — aka the Friday fish-wrap edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingBefore I dive into my round-up, I wanted to discuss with you a poster that a very liberal friend of mine put up on Facebook. It’s the Leftist version of various posters you’ve seen here discussing Leftist logic (e.g., as Dixon Diaz says, “A liberal is someone who lives in a gated community but says that a border fence won’t work,” or “A liberal is someone who thinks that Fox news lies, but Obama doesn’t.”).  The Leftist version of this logic comparison involves voter ID and gun purchases:

Comparing voter ID and gun shows

Superficially, the comparison makes sense. I mean, ID is ID after all. Why should it be required in one place and not in another? Only a second’s thought, though, makes it clear that this is a bit of prestidigitation, meant to make us look in the wrong direction.

What we should be looking at is the fundamental right we’re trying to protect.  In the case of voting, the fundamental right is the right to cast a vote that is not canceled out by an invalid vote from someone who, as a matter of law, cannot vote, whether because that person is actually dead, or is an illegal alien, or is a felon, or just hasn’t bothered to register.  Demanding identification protects the integrity and weight of my legal vote.

The opposite is true for the requirement that one must show identification at a gun show.  The right to bear arms is the fundamental right at issue.  Putting government regulations between an individual and a gun is a burden on the exercise of that right.  This is not to say that the state may not place that burden, but the state had better  have a damn good reason for doing so.

So — is anyone out there skilled enough to reduce my argument to a poster that will counter the poster above?  For the life of me, I cannot figure out an easily digestible way to counter a fallacious, but superficially appealing, argument.

Guns save lives

It seems appropriate after discussing the fundamental right to bear arms to lead off with a news report about an Army vet, carrying a licensed gun, who used his gun to save both his girlfriend and himself from a frightening attack by a deranged individual. Here’s the takeaway quotation:

“I firmly believe that in order to maintain a free society, people need to take personal safety into their own hands,” he said. “You should walk around ready and able to protect yourself and others in your community.”

Modern Islam flows from Saudi Arabia and Iran, and both are barbaric

Daniel Greenfield pulls no punches in “The Savage Lands of Islam.” With a focus on Saudi Arabia (along with nods to Iran) he explains that Islam, as practiced in the countries that are its heartlands, is an utterly barbaric religion that debases human beings. He also warns that Islam exists, rather like a parasite, to take over other countries and reduce them to precisely the same debased status. Or as I once said:

Why is militant Islam Like Ebola

England continues voluntarily to plunge itself into the moral abyss

By a vote of 60 to 1, the student union at Goldsmiths College in London voted to discontinue all Holocaust commemorations. The reasons given were grotesque, starting with that given by the “education officer,” a gal named Sarah El-Alfy, which I read as an Arab name. According to her, Holocaust commemorations are “Eurocentric” and “colonialist.” Sadly, El-Alfy sounds marginally intelligent compared to students who opined that “The motion would force people to remember things they may not want to remember,” while another said that because the Union was (apparently appropriately) anti-Zionist, commemorating the Holocaust was impossible.

Honestly, I think the only time in modern history that a once civilized country so swiftly and completely debased itself was Germany, in the years between the end of WWI and the start of WWII. And, to England’s shame, Germany at least had the “excuse” of having been utterly destroyed, socially and economically, by having lost WWI. England’s slide into this abyss has no excuse, following as it does the fat years that Margaret Thatcher introduced and that continued through the 1990s.

England’s not alone: all of Europe is just as immoral

England didn’t sink into this moral black hole alone. All of Europe is there (with American Democrats tugging anxiously at the leash, desperate to plunge into the hole themselves).

How do we know this? Because Europe, England included, has decided to recognize the Palestinian state, despite the fact that there’s nothing state-like about the West Bank.  Well, there’s nothing state-like unless you redefine state to mean “a dysfunctional terrorist organization, with no infrastructure, no rights for women, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, or gays, and that has no ability to generate revenue but simply funds itself with hand-outs from the international community, most of which end up lining the pockets of those clinging with tyrannical fervor to ‘leadership’ positions.”

And if that sentence was too packed to make sense, you can and should read Caroline Glick on Europe’s disgraceful move to recognize a Palestinian State.

When it comes to moral black holes, let’s not forget The New York Times

As part of the Left’s desperate effort to emulate Europe’s moral abasement, the New York Times is leading tours to Iran, no Israelis allowed, and all Jews and homosexuals seriously discouraged from coming along:

The New York Times is offering a pricey, 13-day excursion to the “once-forbidden land of Iran,” one of a series of its Times Journeys tours. However, if you’re an Israeli, joining the “Tales of Persia,” trip, “once-forbidden,” is still forbidden, and letting anyone know you’re Jewish, or gay, isn’t particularly recommended, either, a representative told The Algemeiner on Monday.

How very 1938 of the Times. Can’t you just see exactly the same tour being given to Nazi Germany by the Progressives at the Times, all of whom would be overflowing with admiration for a powerful state that gives universal healthcare, discourages smoking, and designs fuel-efficient cars?

Did you know Hitler was a meth head?

This may be old news to some of you (indeed, I remember vaguely reading it somewhere), but it’s still a shock to read about the scope of Hitler’s doctor-approved drug abuse:

According to a 47-page wartime dossier compiled by American Military Intelligence, the Fuhrer was a famous hypochondriac and took over 74 different medications, including methamphetamines.

[snip]

He was initially prescribed a drug called Mutaflor in order to relieve the pain of his stomach cramps.

He was then prescribed Brom-Nervacit, a barbiturate, Eukodal, a morphine-based sedative, bulls’ semen to boost his testosterone, stimulants Coramine and Cardiazol, and Pervitin, an ‘alertness pill’ made with crystal meth-amphetamine.

One has to wonder how much all these drugs contributed to the paranoia and monamania that killed 40 million people, including 6 million Jews, in just six years.

No wonder conservatives are feeling apocalyptic….

The last couple of days have seen several conservative writers writing gloomy posts about America’s and the world’s slide into chaos, all under Obama’s aegis.

Roger L. Simon asks “Can It Possibly Get Any Worse?

Stephen F. Hayes looks at the “Failure Upon Failure” of the Obama presidency. In theory, the article should make for satisfying reading for those of us who figured Obama out on the first day but it’s actually just terribly depressing, because Obama’s failure is America’s failure.

Ed Driscoll notes that the Left is getting downhearted too, in “The ‘Bam Who Fell To Earth.

America’s campuses go full kangaroo court

Heather MacDonald is pleased about what she sees as neo-Victorianism on college campuses, by which she means the fact that colleges are starting to turn away from the hook-up culture and obsession with perverse sex that has characterized them for so many years. As the mother of a girl heading off to college one of these days, I’m delighted to learn that the sex saturated culture is finally drying up. However, as the mother of a boy who will also be heading off to college one of these days, I’m distressed that the change is coming about, not by demonizing the casual and perverse sex culture, but simply by demonizing boys and men.

As long as men leave the toilet seat up, why marry?

There must be as many reasons for the decline in marriage as their are non-married people. A female University of Washington professor thinks the decline in marriage is a good thing because men just aren’t very nice people to marry.

In keeping with her attack on men, I’d like pick up on a theme I touched upon years ago, when I first started blogging. Looking at the people I know, the couples I know, and the blogs I’ve read, I’ve concluded that liberal and conservative men are very different in their approach to women.

Liberal men applaud women in the abstract — calling them equal or superior, bowing before their right to do anything they damn well please, and feeling the need to apologize all the time for being men. Given all this, perhaps it’s not surprising that, except for the sex part, liberal men don’t seem to like actual women very much. If you constantly have to abase yourself before someone, it’s kind of going to kill the fun. Certainly, in my world, the harder Left men are politically, the meaner they are to the real women in their real lives.

Conversely, while conservative men believe in equity feminism (equal pay for equal work, equal access to opportunities on a level playing field), they view women as different from them and special in their own way. I’ve never seen a respectable conservative male blogger denigrate women, just as I’ve never seen one pretending there’s no difference, that women are superior, or that all men must perpetually apologize for erroneous opinions that men in past generations held about women. Conservative men have a better handle on the fact that, in a pre-industrial, pre-scientific era (that is, everything before about 1850), there was no way in Hell to pretend that men and women were fundamentally equal. Conservative men also seem not just to love the women in their lives, but truly to respect them.

So it seems to me that, amongst the Left, which is still driving the culture, marriage is less popular because feminism has made it reasonable for men to dislike women, and therefore to treat them disrespectfully, which in turn leads women to dislike men.

Very sad.

Andrew Klavan gives the American media a well-deserved shellacking

Still, there is beauty….

Adilyn Malcolm describes herself as follows:

Hi, I’m Adi! I’m 11 years old and I love dubstep! I have NEVER taken a dance class in my life………I learned from watching (YouTube) videos!! I have been dancing for about 6 months. I am actually a motocross racer but when I’m not on my bike, this is the next best thing! I hope you enjoy my videos. Thanks for watching!

Although the following is only her second video, she already has 2,421 subscribers and 2,005,997 views. You’ll see why she got so popular so fast when you watch her dance:

And a few pictures in lieu of thousands more words

A time saver for tall people

All I'm saying is Zombie movie

And, from Sadie (who provided the caption):

President Shiva

Sorry, people, but size matters

Big dog staring down little dogThe phrase “size matters” often has sexual connotations, but not in this post.  Instead, I’m talking about the dynamics of violence.  In the real world, as opposed to a Leftist utopia, big usual has an advantage over small in matters of violence, with weapons being the great equalizer.

While I know that the bigger combatant doesn’t always win over the small one, it’s certainly the rule, with few exceptions.  A lumbering, untrained giant can be brought to heel by an agile, intelligent small person (viz David and Goliath), but the more common situation is that, even if a small, aggressive person starts the fight, the giant, once roused, is likely to finish it:

The big versus small situation plays out most frequently in the battle between the sexes.  Ignoring outliers who are, by definition, rare, men are bigger and stronger than women. Our Leftist culture, however, insists that we ignore this biological reality in favor of a political construct insisting that we cannot impose equal standards that may result in different outcomes.  Instead, to ensure “justice,” we must have different standards to ensure equal outcomes.

The result of this PC policy from the self-identified “reality-based” community emerged in a small, buried detail regarding Omar Gonzalez’s terrifying assault on the White House, one that put the president and his family at real risk:  The Secret Service agent who couldn’t bar Gonzalez at the door was a woman:

The female agent assigned to the front door of the White House when Omar Gonzalez gained entry and “overpowered” her, was required to meet far lower standards of physical strength than her male colleagues. John McCormack writes in the Weekly Standard:

According to the Secret Service, male recruits in their twenties need to perform 11 chin-ups to receive an “excellent” rating; performing four chin-ups or fewer would disqualify him from serving as a Secret Service agent.

But for a female recruit in her twenties, four chin-ups would earn her an “excellent” rating; just one chin-up is enough for her to avoid the disqualifying “very poor” rating.

This is not the first time we’ve seen a disaster unfold because a woman was on duty in a position in which strength mattered.  In March 2005, Brian Nichols, a violent ex-con was awaiting trial on yet another offense when he overpowered and killed a sheriff’s deputy at the courthouse, raced into the courtroom to kill the judge and court reporter, killed a federal agent when he was on the run, and eventually took hostage a woman who talked him down by sharing her meth and introducing him to Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life.

The first link in the chain of events that saw Nichols kill four people was the fact that the sheriff’s deputy could not restrain him.  It’s entirely possible that Nichols could have shown such strength and cunning that he quickly overpowered a 6’4″ deputy who was once a linebacker.  But that’s not what happened.  What happened was that the sheriff’s deputy escorting this huge, violent man to the court room was a 51-year-old, 5’2″ woman.  I am here to tell you, as a fairly experienced martial artist, that even the most fit 51-year-old 5’2″ woman has no chance against a young, determined, tall, well-muscled man.  His mass wins against her fitness every time.  (And that’s true even if the man goes to great effort to create the external impression that he’s a she.)

There’s only one exception to the truism that a big man beats a small woman every time:  if the small woman is armed, suddenly she’s equal.  (In the Nichols case, the sheriff’s deputy was changing her uniform in some way, so she had apparently put her gun out of her own reach.)

Rather than expounding on this point myself, I’ll pass the baton to my friend Mike McDaniel, who has addressed just this issue with his usual lyricism at The Truth About Guns blog.  Please check it out, because it’s a lovely encomium to football, a rumination about physical size disparities, and a tongue-lashing against the Left’s pernicious habit of denying reality, all wrapped up in a package that states some hard truths about guns and size, written from the perspective of someone who knows guns.

The Bookworm Beat — 08/28/14 comprehensive round-up (and Open Thread)

Woman writingDespite my rather chronic worries about the state of our nation and the state of our world, I seldom have nightmares. Last night, though, I had a doozy. It was short, vivid, and had me waking dripping with sweat. I dreamed that my son and I got off a bus in San Francisco only to find ourselves surrounded by Muslim teenagers who proceeded to beat my son to death.

When I awoke, I calmed myself by looking around my peaceful home and said out loud, “That can’t happen here.” But of course it can happen here. It can happen anywhere that radical Islamists — who are incredibly proud of their slaughters — get their tentacles.

It shouldn’t happen here, in the country we once thought of as the “land of the free and the home of the brave” but not only are we rather quickly ceding our freedom to the federal government, a nation that’s terrified of letting children play in parks or of candy in schools really can’t be considered very brave any more.

In this, the beginning of the 21st century, it’s even more likely to happen here because we have an administration head by a man who manifestly feels an affinity for Islam, and encourages his government to do the same.

And now for your regularly scheduled round-up:

The moral inversion of Israel hatred

Six million Jews died at Nazi hands. Those European Jews who survived suffered horribly: exile, torture, imprisonment, slave labor, etc. Because the oldest hatred never dies, the anti-Semites of the world have found a new use for this apocalyptic tragedy. After decades of denying the Holocaust, they’re now kind of acknowledging that it happened, solely so that they can liken Jews to Nazis.

Martin Kramer explains the phenomenon of “Holocaust Inversion,” which is making its way to an over-priced, over-subsidized college campus near you. I’ll share with you his conclusion in case you don’t have time to read the whole thing:

There is such a thing as legitimate criticism of Israel, and there is such a thing as crossing the line into demonization and, to put it plainly, Jew-baiting. The analogies spewed by Columbia’s tenured professors are of the latter kind, and are obscene. Jew-baiting covers a wider range than anti-Semitism, and Holocaust inversion is its favorite technique. Jew-baiting is the demand that Israel and its supporters explain why Gaza isn’t like a Nazi extermination camp or a starved ghetto for the doomed, or why a targeted air campaign isn’t just like the incineration of Dresden. That it should be practiced so openly by tenured professors at New York’s Ivy League home is a scandal, and a warning.

The IDF’s comprehensive site with information about Operation Protective Edge

In this, the first war that has seen the IDF circumvent hostile reporters and communicate directly with the public through the web and social media, the IDF has done a consistently excellent job using the these new media. A good example is its comprehensive Operation Protective Edge information site.

And yes, Obama hates Israel

Peter Wehner tries desperately hard to be a temperate, rational voice over at Commentary. Not for him reflexive Obama criticisms.

Wehner’s growing problem, though, is that Obama deserves a lot of those criticisms. Thankfully, Wehner is honest enough to recognize when criticism is due, and man enough to make it. Recently, he’s started acknowledging that Obama’s conduct towards Israel is not just part of some overarching Progressive game plan but, in fact, rests on a solid bed of real dislike for that tiny, beleaguered nation:

In a neighborhood featuring Hamas, ISIS, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran, just to name a few of the actors, President Obama was “enraged” at … Israel. That’s right, Israel–our stalwart ally, a lighthouse of liberty, lawfulness, and human rights in a region characterized by despotism, and a nation filled with people who long for peace and have done so much for so long to sacrifice for it (including repeatedly returning and offering to return its land in exchange for peace).

Yet Mr. Obama–a man renowned for his lack of strong feelings, his emotional equanimity, his disengagement and distance from events, who New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd refers to as “Spock” for his Vulcan-like detachment–is not just upset but “enraged” at Israel.

Maybe Obama would like Israel more if he understood history better

Today, I have a twofer on Obama’s ignorance about all things historical. Both posts allude not just to Obama’s ignorance, but to his complacent belief that, if you just sit back and do nothing, the mere fact that we’re living in the 21st century means that good will inevitably triumph, without any requirement for action from the world’s good people.

Victor Davis Hanson phrases it this way:

Obama often parrots Martin Luther King Jr.’s phrase about the arc of the moral universe bending toward justice. But King used that metaphor as an incentive to act, not as reassurance that matters will follow an inevitably positive course.

Another of Obama’s historical refrains is his frequent sermon about behavior that doesn’t belong in the 21st century. At various times he has lectured that the barbarous aggression of Vladimir Putin or the Islamic State has no place in our century and will “ultimately fail” — as if we are all now sophisticates of an age that has at last transcended retrograde brutality and savagery.

In Obama’s hazy sense of the end of history, things always must get better in the manner that updated models of iPhones and iPads are glitzier than the last.

The Streetwise Professor, meanwhile, says that Obama’s speech after James Foley’s death reveals the “progressive dialectic” that props up Obama’s belief system:

Obama’s progressivism, in many senses of the word, shines through here. According to Obama, ISIS is an atavism that is destined for extinction, because it does not fit into the 21st century. Through some sort of (unstated) dialectical process, such people “ultimately fail.” Humanitarians prevail, as the world progresses to higher and higher states of development and consciousness. This is profoundly ahistorical. Atavistic forces have repeatedly toppled far superior civilizations.

What Obama’s vacations really mean

Conservatives have harped for years about Obama’s vacations — their scope, frequency, frivolity, and expense. Periodically, Leftists will announce that Bush and Reagan vacationed more frequently and at greater expense. I don’t know if these claims are true and neither do I care.  Instead, my visceral feelings about Obama’s vacations is that they are too showy, frequent, and costly for a nation in a recession and a nation at war. There was and is something indecent about them. Matthew Continetti feels the same way and has written a really marvelous article expanded on that feeling.

Foley was not the saint he’s painted as being

Nothing, absolutely nothing, excuses ISIS’s heinous execution of James Foley. Still, it’s worth knowing who he was and, I’m sorry to say, he may not have been the saint he’s portrayed as being.

According to Daniel Greenfield, who provides the evidence to back up his charges, Foley was a Leftist activist masquerading as a journalist. His unswerving support for Sunnis against Shias in Syria’s civil war blinded him to the evils of both. Along the way, as his Twitter feed shows, he was hostile to America’s effort to contain Islamic terrorism and cold to the slaughter of Christians:

Foley came to Syria to support the Sunni Islamist rebels against the Syrian government. He was a vehement advocate and while he didn’t necessarily side with any single group, he echoed the one sided narrative rather than telling the truth about the Islamists. His Twitter feed was full of urgings to arm the Jihadists.

Meanwhile he sneered at America’s War on Terror.

He cheered on the Sunni Muslim terrorists fighting to ethnically cleanse the Christians of Aleppo. In the conflict between Israel and Hamas, his tweets and retweets were chock full of pro-Sunni Syrian terrorist propaganda.

Given the above, it should come as no surprise that Foley also supported Hamas over Israel.

Haters got to hate

Andrew Klavan is back with a video helping conservatives understand some of the Leftists’ favorite catch-phrases. You’ll enjoy it.

The only problem I have with the video is that Klavan didn’t include the word “hater” in the list. I freely admit to being a “hater.” Indeed, I think more people should be “haters.” It’s not the fact that you hate; it’s those you choose to hate.

I hate ISIS and other radical Islamist groups and their members. I hate pedophiles. I hate finding black widows in my house. I’m a hater, but I’m a smart, focused hater.  Where I differ from Democrats is that, within the American political system, I strongly disagree with what they advocate and do but, unlike them, I do not “hate” my political opponent.

Hater world leader teenage girl

Oh, and before I forget, here’s the Klavan video:

And let’s be honest for once about who the real racists too often are

While we’re on the subject of racists, you have to see this video, in which a couple of conservatives turn the table on a Latin American reporter looking for racism.

Also on the subject of hate, you have to see the article about the Democrat newspaper that someone let slip past a photo of Asian Americans with made-up racist names that would have worked perfectly in any Hollywood film or newspaper from the 1870s through the 1930s. I suspect that a crew of juvenile Leftists working at the paper were playing around and, before they could correct their little bit of fun, the issue ran.

The fact is that Democrats hate Asians because Asians put the lie to Leftist myths about white tyranny oppressing non-white peoples. Asians also kill the myth that growing up in the slums means generations in the slums without government help. And of course, they destroy the myth that growing up in a poor neighborhood means you’ll be a psychopathic gang banger. Asians, in turn, respond to this race hatred by worshiping the Democrat Party’s assurance that Asians are victims of white hegemony and must vote for big government to protect themselves.  In other words, just like Jews, Asians are the world’s smartest dumb people (or the world’s dumbest smart people?).

Fear of being called racist allows British town to ignore hundreds of pedophile abuse crimes

Back when I lived in England, Yorkshire, unlike large swaths of Southern England, was very, very English. There weren’t even many tourists there.

That’s all changed, of course. Thanks to Labour’s open door policy for the Muslim parts of the former British Empire, Yorkshire has morphed in Little Pakistan. Combine this influx of hard core Muslims with Britain’s politically correct culture and you get a miscarriage of justice on a grand scale: Social workers in the medieval south Yorkshire town of Rotherham closed their eyes to more than 1,000 cases of child sexual abuse because the abusers were Muslims, and the social workers were afraid they’d be labeled as racists if they acted to protect the children.

This evil has been exposed in only one Yorkshire town. You don’t have to be psychic to know that it happened in many others too.

[And now, a brief word from blog management: Social media buttons appear at the end of each post. If you use social media, and you like one of my posts, please consider sharing it. Increased readership is good for my ego and, to the extent I have advertising, good for my bottom line.  Also, as always, any payments to my tip jar would be much appreciated.]

Europe may simply be damned

In France, 10% or so of the population is Muslim. I assume that 100% of that 10% is part of the 1 in 6 French people who support ISIS. That still leaves 6% of the non-Muslim French population that supports ISIS just because….

I truly think Europe is damned. That is, without even the excuse of themselves being Muslims, significant numbers of Europeans support an ideological/political/military entity that is, as Jonah Goldberg insists we admit, “evil.”

Class warfare rhetoric breeds hatred

I’m not actually sure that class warfare rhetoric had anything to do with the horrible scene described at a WalMart that was accepting Kiwani’s and Salvation Army vouchers for school supplies for poor children. It’s just that I cannot think of any other thing to describe the dishonesty and ingratitude that the Lonely Libertarian witnessed.

The Justice Department may have a problem arguing that Michael Brown was “executed.”

Eric Holder has chosen to fling himself into the Ferguson uproar on the side of Michael Brown, never mind that Holder made this decision immediately, without benefit of any actual facts. As facts are emerging, Holder may regret his hasty decision. Why?  Because in a shooting with a bullet-in-corpse pattern remarkably similar to the Michael Brown case, Holder and his team argued vociferously that there was nothing execution-y about even a shot to the top of the head.

When it comes to corporations, I agree with both the Left and the Right

One of the things Leftists like to point out about American corporations when conservatives raise the issue of inordinately high taxes is the fact that corporations get so many taxpayer subsidies. On this one, both the Left and the Right are correct. Subsidies put the government’s heavy, often wrong, thumb on the scale and lead to cronyism and monopolies. And heavy taxes chase away businesses, wealth, and jobs. We should therefore do away with both of them says Stan Collender.

Yeah, the media hates us (Republicans, that is)

There’s a reason Ed Driscoll is one of the premier media analysts in the conservative blogosphere — he’s good at what he does, helped by an incredible knowledge base about the American media.

Today’s evidence of that truth is a flashback to a time when media members were as open in their condescension towards Americans and their disdain for Leftists as they are today, with the difference being that there was no internet to disseminate their attitudes to all Americans.

The safest school in America

In Argyle, Texas, the school district is arming its teachers and making that fact well-known:

Argyle Texas arms teachers

I’d be surprised if there’s ever a mass shooting at an Argyle, Texas, school.

Pigs fly moment on San Francisco public radio

San Francisco’s public radio and TV channels are notoriously Leftist. I mean, what can you expect when you combine San Francisco and public media? That’s why a conservative woman I know almost crashed her car the other day when she tuned into Michael Krasny’s notoriously Left-leaning forum, and heard a spirited discussion in which host and panel took turns excoriating Obama’s conduct regarding ISIS.

Just to confirm that the show really was hostile to Obama, just peruse the comments from an audience accustomed to tuning into the KQED radio and hearing the usual Progressive mix of Obama and Muslim worship, along with Republican and Israel hatred:

Forget the ice bucket challenge. I have the Michael KRASNY Challenge: Invite the eminent foreign policy analyst John Mearsheimer on to your program!! If it is a foreign policy issue, he can speak to it in depth, in plain yet scholarly language, and it is a view you are apparently never exposed to. Try it some day Michael!! Please?

[And in response to the above, another commenter said:] And Norman Finkelstein, Noam Chomsky, Max Blumenthal, with Israel’s UN Ambassador Ron Prosor

***

IMO we in the US shouldn’t be supporting any regime or movement that doesn’t first endorse and implement gay marriage.

(That last was my personal favorite, because it shows someone figuring out that Islamists and their countries are not user-friendly.  I may not support gay marriage — preferring that states do civil unions only, leaving marriage to religion — but I do not support regimes that routinely marginalize, torture and execute gays either — and that would be all sharia regimes.)

A new challenge, even better than the ALS one (and one that wastes less water and harms no one):

(I was not surprised to learn that the man issuing the challenge is a Marine.)

Shop for the stuff you need and help the NRA at the same time

I ought to be telling you to shop at Amazon using a Bookworm Room link, but I recognize that doing so is convenient and, honestly, it doesn’t bring me a lot of money. Here’s a better thing to do if you’re an Amazon shopper: Shop through a portal set up so that, that every time you make a purchase, Amazon donates a portion of that purchase to the NRA. Yes, you heard that right. I honestly don’t know how it managed to do so, but the NRA is enrolled in the Amazon Smile program. Under that program, shoppers can set up their account so a fraction of every purchase is given to their designated Amazon Smile charity.

Here’s what you need to do:

1. Log on to the Amazon Smile page.

2. Click on Your Account to the right of the search bar.

3. Under Settings category: Select Change Your Charity

4. Search for “The NRA Foundation, Inc.”

5. Click Select next to The NRA Foundation, Inc.

6. Start shopping.

(Not to detract from the NRA, but using that same “Amazon Smile” portal, you can also give other America friendly charities such as Wounded Warrior.)

I get the free speech aspect; I just don’t get what the joke was

The University of Oregon charged a student with all sorts of speech crimes after she spotted a couple walking past her window on a summer’s day and yelled “I hit it first.” The gal claimed it was a joke, but the couple (or some bystanders) took offense. After a blast of publicity, UO backed down, which is a good thing.

I fully understand the basic facts, but there are two things I don’t get. How is yelling out “I hit it first” a joke? And why would anyone find that joke or phrase offensive? Please explain.

The Caped Crusader picture round-up

(With help this time from Sadie and from Earl.)

Waking up Obama

A beheading for Obama's attention

NSA collects data IRS loses it

Honor killing war on women

People never flee the united states

Ice bucket challenge 183 times

Women and the imaginary wage gap

Lincoln on the constitution

Democrat billionaires

Liberal logic re cops

Muslims and minority rights

It depends who kills Hamas

Obama priorities

Kurdish women fight for real women's rights

Muslim extremists

Obama and golf

rich on racisn

Shooting off steam, with the NRA’s Women on Target

BulletIt turns out that a great antidote for being disgruntled is to fire off a few rounds.  That’s what I did yesterday when I attended an NRA “Women on Target” gun safety and training class at Bullseye, Marin’s only indoor shooting range.  I had a wonderful time.

We spent the first hour receiving instruction about guns — how they work and how to use them — from a former Navy weapons instructor.  He opened by telling us that he loved teaching women, because they seemed more open to instruction than men and were definitely more willing to ask questions.  And question him we did.  By the time the hour was over, we knew more than I ever thought possible about the way guns and bullets work.  It was very entertaining.

We also learned, of course, the gold standard for gun safety:  (1) Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction; (2) Always keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot; and (3) Always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use.

With respect to Rule 1, a workplace colleague who is also an NRA instructor told me that he tells his students that they must never point the gun at anything they’re not willing to kill.  When he taught his daughter shooting and she carelessly turned an unloaded gun towards him, he immediately announced that, because he was now dead, the lesson was, and then made her wait a week before he’d resume her lesson.

After the classroom instruction, we headed down to the firing range.  There were five instructors for ten women, ensuring that we all got lots of personal supervision.  I got to work with a revolver and a pistol, both of which shot .22 caliber bullets.  The revolver weighed less than the pistol, which should have made it a nicer gun for me, but I found it easier to aim with the pistol.  I therefore ended up using the pistol three-fifths of the time.

What was most fun was watching the other women just light up as they got more adept at shooting.  Some had used guns before, but most were newbies.  They were there for myriad reasons:  personal security reasons, for principle, for curiosity, for family pride, etc.  One women was terrified of guns and was taking the class in the hope that it would help assuage her fear.  Last I saw her, she was still a little nervous, but was also happily, and competently, firing away at a target.  I think she learned that a gun, like a car, is both a tool and a source of fun, provided that it is used safely and responsibly.

Another woman went from firing one cautious shot per minute, without getting anywhere near the target, to emptying the 10 round magazine in a couple of minutes.  When she started, she was game but nervous.  When she finished, she was glowing with happiness as she showed how she had a nice pattern of shots all contained within a circle that was about 3″ in diameter.

Why is firing a gun so much fun?  I know that it satisfies my targeting abilities.  Over the years, I’ve discovered that I have decent aim, whether playing darts, tossing paper balls into a garbage can or, as it happens, shooting guns at targets.  It’s also fun to know that there is room for improvement.  Since I’m merely a decent shot for a beginner, there’s so much room to grow.  I like doing activities at which I can get better.  As I tell my children, there’s only so good you can get at folding laundry . . . and then it’s just boring.

Guns are also fun because they make one feel less helpless.  I know that, should I be in a situation in which I need to fire a gun to save my life (or someone else’s) I can do it.  I hope that I’m never in such a situation, but now I know that I can handle it should it arise.  That’s a good feeling.

And finally, I wonder if guns aren’t fun because, after growing up anti-gun, shooting a gun feels like a slightly illicit activity to me.  I also feel very good knowing that, with every shot I take, I’m thumbing my nose at the sizable segment of the population that would like to erase the Second Amendment, leaving us without recourse against predators, both governmental and non-governmental.

I’ll end by throwing in a very deserved good word for Bullseye, the shooting range and gun supply store.  I cannot tell you how nice the people who work there were, and that goes for the instructors and the people manning the counter.  They weren’t just courteous and efficient, they were really friendly.  Being a neophyte, I find the thought of gun stores and ranges somewhat intimidating, but these people couldn’t have been nicer.

I also learned that, to encourage women, Bullseye has a ladies night.  Every Wednesday night, from 6 to 8, ladies get half off on lane rental.  (Also, although it’s not on the website, there might be a special deal if two or more women come in during ladies night needing to rent guns and buy bullets.  If you’re planning on going, call and check on what deals they have. )

“Captain Phillips”: The most pro-Second Amendment movie I’ve ever seen

Captain-Phillips-poster-26Jul2013_02I finally got around to watching Captain Phillips. The move is ripped from headlines in 2009, when a Maersk captain got kidnapped by Somalia pirates, and was then rescued when Navy SEALS managed to kill the kidnappers in a sniper tour de force — perched on a rocking boat, the SEAL snipers took out three pirates who were standing within the confines of a closed — and also rocking — life boat. The movie didn’t do much for me as entertainment (more on that later), but I thought it was a splendid argument supporting the right to bear arms.

Since we’re all familiar with the actual kidnapping story, which we watched play out in real time, I’m not giving anything away when I say that the movie’s plot begins when four Somali pirates, traveling in a small, open skiff and armed with semi-automatic rifles and pistols, board a giant Maersk cargo ship. Their goal is to hold the ship’s crew hostage until Maersk’s insurance meets their ransom demand. Things go awry, though, when the ship’s crew fights back and manages to kidnap the leader of the pirate band. When the Maersk crew returns the pirate to his own crew, now ensconced in the Maersk’s fully enclosed life boat, the pirates successfully turn the tables, grab Captain Phillips, and take off.

The musical score indicated that the scenes in which the pirates stalk and eventually board the Maersk ship were meant to be gripping. Certainly, you could see the crew getting nervous. There they were, helpless, as these cruel predators stalked them. The only thing they could do was to turn on their ship’s water cannons in an effort to make boarding difficult. Here’s a nice picture showing the teeny skiff working its way up to the giant cargo ship with all its cannon going full force:

Water cannons in Captain Phillips

The image reminds of nothing so much as a feisty little mouse stalking a terrified, moribund, drooling elephant. Watching this scene, therefore, my dominant emotion wasn’t fear or anxiety, it was exasperated anger. If the Maersk had been armed with a few semi-automatic weapons or a mortar launcher or two, it could have blown that little skiff out of the water in an instant.

A small skiff would never have dared approach a boat it knew was armed. The only reason the pirates could act with such impunity was because they had the weapons and they knew that the only thing that the cargo ship could do was to spit at them.

At movie’s end, Phillips wasn’t rescued because of his ingenuity or courage (although the script works hard to give him both).  Instead, he was rescued because the U.S. Navy out-manned and out-gunned the rag-tag band of pirates.

To me, the movie’s overwhelming message was that, if the outlaws are the only ones with guns, you’re helpless. However, if the good guys also have guns, the outlaws are mincemeat. This is as true within a country as it is on international waters. The Maersk ship was a metaphor for every law-abiding American who is denied the right to bear arms, and who then finds himself staring into the barrel of a bad guy’s gun, aimed right at him.

Thankfully, the Captain Phillips incident helped some of the shipping companies see the light. Rather than viewing ransom payments as a cost of doing business, thereby incentivizing piracy, some of the companies now hire armed guards who can, presumably, knock off a pirate skiff even before it gets within range of water cannons. You won’t be surprised to learn that the pirates, who are now greeted with the business end of a gun rather than the promise of cash, have pretty much gone out of business.  Again, this is a perfect metaphor for the Second Amendment, which posits that there are more good guys in America than bad ones and, from that, extrapolates that, if the good guys are armed, the bad guys will retreat.

Aside from that powerful Second Amendment message (which I suspect was inadvertent), the movie left me pretty cold:

It failed as a suspense movie, because I already knew how it ended.

It failed as a hagiography of Captain Phillips, because I had already read months ago that the crew vehemently disputes Phillips’ heroic version of events. One could say that this is just sour grapes on the crews’ part, because they missed out on the money (and because the movie painted them as sniveling union cowards), but the facts bear out one important piece of information: given the prevalence of pirates in the region, ships were told to stay 600 miles off shore, well out of pirate range. Phillips kept his ship within 300 miles of shore, a fact even he concedes. If the crew is right about that incredibly salient point, it may well be right about all the other stuff.

It failed stylistically, because the director, Paul Greengrass, tried to shoot it as if it was a documentary happening in real time. This stylistic choice had two byproducts: First, it gave the movie that jerky, handheld quality you see when documentary filmmakers are running after a subject. I find this irritating. I tolerate it for real documentaries, but find it unnecessary and unpleasant in faux documentaries. Second, the actors weren’t acting, they were mimicking. You could see them sweat (and then inwardly congratulate themselves) as they tried to copy the speech and mannerisms of a real person. They therefore never fully inhabited their characters, leaving them one-dimensional. This made the movie lifeless.

It failed morally to the extent it seemed to say that the pirates were also innocent victims, more to be pitied than censured. Certainly, it’s true that Somalia is a country of abysmal poverty and disarray, made worse by its citizens’ addiction to khat. The pirates are shown chewing khat to get themselves excited for the hunt, and then becoming increasingly paranoid and desperate as their khat supply runs out. When one looks at the dreadful country, all of Somalia’s citizens are much to be pitied. Still, that’s not a license to engage in crime on a mass scale. Moreover, it was clear from the movie that the real malfeasors are the shipping and insurance companies that saw ransom as a cost of doing business, giving the Somalis a rational incentive to engage in piracy. As noted above, without this incentive, the Somali pirate trade pretty much ended.

And finally, the movie failed for a reason unique to me: I don’t like Tom Hanks. I’ve been dragged to see all of his movies over the years, and I’ve never like him. He runs the gamut from maudlin to overacting, a range that doesn’t just leave me cold, but leaves me with a vague, shuddering revulsion.

Does Progressive atheism drive the hostility to guns and self-defense?

Sistine-Creation-DetailHqMike McDaniel is one of the best and most knowledgeable thinkers and writers when it comes to guns and the Second Amendment.  That’s why it’s worth sitting up and taking notice when he revisits one of his own posts to discuss reader objections.  I’ll run you through what Mike has to say and then tell you why I agree with him.  This is a long post, but I hope it’s engaging enough to sustain your interest all the way through, so that you’ll take the time to weigh in with your own opinions.

It all started with a post entitled “Why It’s So Hard To Discuss Guns Rationally With Some People,” which Mike published at The Truth About Guns (“TTAG”), one of the internet’s premier Second Amendment sites.  Mike’s starting point is the same problem I had when discussing guns with liberal friends in the wake of Sandy Hook: Progressives cannot move beyond emotions and get to actual facts.

Mike, though, didn’t stop with my facile conclusion about how frustrating it is to talk about guns with Progressives.  Instead, he looked beyond the emotional drivel and honed in on the core ideologies driving Progressive or, more accurately, statist thinking.  These ideologies are

(1) the Progressive’s belief in the state’s ability to solve every problem and its corollary,  which is that every individual other than the Progressive holding this thought is incapable of knowing what’s best for him;

(2) the Progressive’s refusal to acknowledge that there is a Higher Power or Being, reinforcing the belief in the all powerful state and further diminishing an individual’s standing; and

(3) the Progressive’s belief that the state is both infallible and unfalsifiable.  This belief allows Progressives to argue that, if a specific law fails — say, that a law specific guns fails to stop or even slow gun crime — the answer is to pass the same law, only to make it more far-reaching and consequential.

Mike’s article garnered 355 comments.  To Mike’s surprise, the point in his article that got the harshest criticism was his second argument, the one holding that rejecting a Higher Being is what allows Progressives to deny the right to armed-self defense.   Here’s Mike’s argument in that regard:

The second factor: a refusal to acknowledge the existence of any power higher than themselves. In essence, they refuse to acknowledge the existence of God. For some, this lack of belief is nothing more than being made uncomfortable by the idea that there is One greater than themselves, than their current maximum, cult-of-personality leader, than the state itself. For others, progressivism/statism takes on all of the characteristics of a religion; it become a matter of unquestionable faith. For such people, believing in God is essentially apostasy.

As it relates to the Second Amendment, these two factors make it not only possible, indeed, mandatory for the progressive/statist to deny the unalienable right to self-defense. If there is no God, the individual human life has only the value recognized by the state at any given moment. The individual exists only in service to the state, and the value of their life is measured by the individual’s adherence to the state’s goals and their usefulness to the elite ruling class. That being the case, there’s nothing particularly unique or precious about any individual, therefore an unalienable right to self-defense is nothing but an annoying impediment to the larger, more important goals of the state.

Indeed, God need not even be involved for the committed statist to deny the existence of any right of self-defense. Any unalienable right is an inherent limitation on the power of the state, and no such limitation can be acknowledged. Whether such rights are bestowed by God or invented as a result of human philosophy matters not. The power of the state cannot be diminished, and if the individual is allowed control over their own existence — if that control is bestowed by God which is far more powerful than the state — the power of the state becomes illegitimate and unquestionably hampered.

In any case, if there is no unalienable right to self-defense, there can be no right to keep and bear arms, or as progressives/statists often argue, such “right” guarantees nothing more than the privilege to carry arms in the military—in the service of the state and its ruling elite—and perhaps for hunting or sport shooting under highly restrictive circumstances.

To such arguments, conservatives and others commonly point to the Constitution and particularly, to the Bill of Rights. This is why progressives/statists argue for a “living Constitution,” which is another way of saying that the Constitution says what they want it to say and means what they want it to mean at any given moment. The better to legitimize whichever progressive/statist policy they wish to implement. This is also why progressives/statists labor to install judges who reflect the “living Constitution” frame of mind. Politics are too fickle; better to have true believers legislating from the bench when it’s not, for the moment, possible to impose progressive orthodoxy through the legislative process when the masses are temporarily rebelling against the elite.

To summarize:  For varying reasons, true Progressives cannot simultaneously hold a belief in God and state, so God goes out the window.  Without God, the individual has neither innate dignity nor inherent rights.  He is, instead, just a cog in the state’s workings and his value can never be greater than that which the state assigns to him.  Indeed, inalienable rights are antithetical to an all-powerful state.  They cannot exist simultaneously.  The moment that the individual is subordinate to the state, the state can make whatever rules it wants regarding arms and self-defense.  Usually, these rules benefit the ruling class to the detriment of everyone else.  To the extent the Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights indicate otherwise, they must be ignored, interpreted out of existence, or amended to make explicit the state’s control over guns and, by extension, self-defense.

To Mike’s surprise, several TTAG readers took umbrage when he argued that Progressives’s elevation of the state over God (or denial of God altogether) is inextricably intertwined with their rejection of guns and the inherent right to self-defense.

Take, for example, “joleme’s” objection:

I was with him until the god comment.

I’m not sure why some pro-gun people need to split pro-gun supporters by making such statements.  It’s one of the reason’s [sic] I tend to feel uncomfortable around some large groups of gun supporters.  I myself am very pro-gun.  I see no reason to limit the 2nd amendment.  Inevitably however, it seems like someone always has to start a religion talk and ends up being a “only us god fearing men are in the right”.

I think you need to assess your own religious discriminating views.

Mike was quite disturbed that he could be considered as someone who would discriminate against fellow Second Amendment supporters on religious grounds.  He went back through his original TTAG post to see if he came across as a Fire and Brimstone preacher.  I can assure him that he did not.  And since he’s my friend, I want to assure him further that (a) he didn’t insult atheist gun owners and (b) he was right about the “godly aspect” of America’s constitutional right to self-defense.

As to the first point (that he wasn’t insulting atheist gun-rights supporters), Mike needn’t worry.  He definitely wasn’t waiving a discriminatory Bible at people who support the Second Amendment but don’t believe in God.  Those readers who took offense seem to have missed the fact that Mike was entirely unconcerned with pro-Second Amendment people.  Instead, he was trying to understand how America’s self-defined Progressives can deny an individual’s right to self-defense.

It was in that context — why true Progressives cannot accept self-defense, armed or otherwise — that Mike advanced his theory that rejecting a Higher Being’s existence inevitably means living and dying at the state’s whim.  Significantly, that conclusion does not imply its corollary.  That is, while Progressives’ collective atheism drives the hives’ hostility to self-defense, one doesn’t need to believe in God as a predicate to believing in self-defense.  They are not mutually exclusive ideas.

I can easily believe in armed self-defense for non-theistic reasons:  (1) the lesson of history, which is that the greatest number of deaths in the last 150 years have invariably followed a government’s move to disarm its citizens; (2) the fact that mass shootings always happen in “gun free” zones; or (3) the fact that crime goes up when gun control goes up and crime goes down when concealed carry goes up.  All three of these are inarguable facts and it’s impossible to maintain a reasonable gun control stand when faced with these facts.

Since the above facts are the arena in which most gun control discussion are carried out, arguing with gun control fanatics invariably ends with them calling you names.  Indeed, calling Second Amendment supporters blood-crazed, murderous, child-killing Nazis is the only appropriate response when the facts show that, within the confines of a free society (as opposed to, say, Yemen), guns advance individual safety, rather than destroy it.

None of the above facts rely on God.  Both theistic and atheistic individuals can cite them to justify gun rights.

But let’s be honest:  Mike wasn’t talking about a specific individual’s understanding of facts or rights.  Instead — and this is the second issue Mike raised — he was asking a fundamental question:  Why, in America, unlike all other nations, do we have a Constitutional right to bear arms?  Answering this question, at a societal rather than an individual level, requires looking at rights inherent in all men, rather than preference among both theistic and atheistic individuals.  In this larger context, Mike is absolutely right that the Founders’ belief in God was a prerequisite to their drafting the Second Amendment and the Progressive’s collective belief in the State is the overarching justification for their denying the Second Amendment.

Many of the Founders disdained traditional religious worship, but all were theists.  They believed that there was a higher power that created man and elevated him over all other beings on earth, complete with inherent rights that flowed from God, not the state.  That belief is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The state is subordinate to these rights, as the Declaration makes clear in the sentence immediately following that affirmative of rights inherent in all men, irrespective of the state:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

The hierarchy is clear:  First, God; second, His creation (man); and, third, man’s creation (the state).  To ensure that the state retains it’s place at the bottom of the hierarchy, the Founders enacted the Bill of Rights.  As I’ve argued (often), the entire purpose behind the Bill of Rights is to ensure that government is subordinate to each individual, and not vice versa.  It is within this context that the Second Amendment makes sense:  First, it exists to ensure that the state cannot become tyrannical as to the collective of all; and second, it exists to ensure that each individual is protected from the state and that each individual has the right to defend the sanctity of his own life, separate from the state’s needs or power.

On the pro-gun side, incidentally, you can also say that you only need the second and third elements of the above hierarchy to justify guns:  man comes first, the state second, and men get guns to keep the state in place.  That’s a valid, non-theistic, pro-gun argument too.

But now look at it the other way, from the Progressive’s point of view, which was Mike’s point.  The Progressives also have an ideological hierarchy underpinning their conception of man’s relationship to government:  First comes the state.  Then comes man.  There can be no God, because God would, by definition, have to supersede the state in the hierarchy.  Man must therefore be subordinate to the state.  This means that the state gets to make all the rules and rule number one is:  NOTHING CAN THREATEN THE STATE.  Moreover, statists fully understand that nothing threatens the state more (as we see on this, the 71st anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising or as we saw with the Bundy & Co. stand against the BLM) than an individual with a gun.

So Mike is right:  both the godly and the godless (and yes, that last is said with a light laugh and not meant as an insult) can support an individual’s right to bear arms.  However, the only way to deny an individual’s right to bear arms is to deny man’s inherent value vis a vis the state — and that requires a world in which there is no God.  The Progressive hive (as opposed to the individual Progressive who attends his leftist church or synagogue) must deny God both as man’s creator and as a counterweight to the state’s absolute primacy in order to justify denying the Founder’s conclusion that each of us is endowed with an inherent right to self-defense through arms.

And think about it:  Back in the day, Americans didn’t just call communists “communists.”  They called them “Godless communists,” understanding that the Godless part was an intrinsic aspect of the state’s absolute, unfettered power, a power that was and still is invariably accompanied by gun control and the refusal to recognize self-defense as a valid individual right.

Georgia Mayor speaks truth to Bloomberg’s anti-2nd Amendment Mayors Against Illegal Guns organization

No gunsAs is the case with so many Leftist organizations, on the surface former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s alleged gun safety organization sounds so reasonable:  “Mayors Against Illegal Guns” (“MAIG”).  Heck, we’re all opposed “illegal” guns, right?  It’s only the definition of “illegal” that might trip some of us up.

When I think of an “illegal gun,” I’m thinking of a shoulder mounted rocket launcher, a fully automatic machine gun, or perhaps an otherwise innocuous revolver in the hands of a 14-year-old Chicago gang-banger.  It’s become increasingly clear, however, that when MAIG talks about illegal guns it’s envisioning a world in which all guns are illegal unless in the hands of (a) a police department or (b) a Democrat politician’s body guards.

When the Orwellian-named MAIG approached David Lockhart, the mayor of Fort Park, Georgia, he wasn’t interested in playing cute semantic games with an organization dedicated to destroying the Second Amendment.  Instead, he sent them a delightful, long letter detailing exactly what’s wrong with MAIG:

I do not support your efforts. I oppose efforts to require private sellers with minimal sales (non-dealers) to perform background checks. I am proud that gun shows are regularly conducted in Forest Park.

If you really want to reduce illegal gun sales, perhaps your energy would be better focused in petitioning the BATF to end its illegal gunwalking. Because of Operation Fast and Furious, Brian Terry was murdered with a weapon sold by our own government.

Your organization claims that the goal is “protecting the rights of Americans to own guns, while fighting to keep criminals from possessing guns illegally,” yet none of your “Coalition Principles” further any such protections. One of the principles is to “keep lethal, military style weapons off our streets.” First, I am awestruck that you would focus on “lethal guns.” It seems that guns’ lethality is the point of their design. That you believe a gun’s “military style” makes it more lethal is asinine, and however you would define such style does not make guns so designed illegal. Your stated goals–protecting legal ownership and eliminating criminals from illegally possessing guns–are belied by your specific objectives. What you propose would convert what is currently legal possession into criminal behavior. You may have fooled other mayors, and you may have other fools who agree with your actual objectives, but you haven’t fooled me.

That your organization was founded by Michael Bloomberg, who criminalized the sale of sodas of a certain size, is telling. It is impossible to believe such a man is really concerned with the protections afforded by our Constitution.

Hat tip: Guns Save Lives

Fort Hood exemplifies the insanity of our modern age

David Burge (aka Iowahawk) reduces the insanity at Fort Hood to a mere 22 perfect and pithy words.  (Hat tip:  Caped Crusader.)

No guns on army bases

Imagine, if you will, that what happens at one of these bases isn’t one crazed gunman or disaffected Islamist but is, instead, a sustained, surprise paramilitary attack. Will our sitting duck troops call 911 then too? They are vulnerable to any surprise attack, whether it comes from one or dozens or hundreds of murderously inclined and heavily armed people.

Friday afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesThe Taliban has hit Marin County (indirectly).  Marin County is headquarters for Roots of Peace, an admirable charity that seeks to advance agricultural development in poverty-stricken areas.  It has an outpost in Afghanistan, where it seeks to enable the Afghani people to feed themselves.  The Taliban can’t have that kind of thing happening in its country.  It therefore sent off some foot soldiers to attack the Roots of Peace Kabul office, killing a child in the process.  If radical Islam had a cable-TV station, it’s motto would be “All war, all the time.”  One wonders if this will be a bit of reality that mugs that peaceniks who are so self-centered that they cannot envision cultures that have, as their core value, a desire for perpetual warfare.

***

David Clarke, Milwaukee’s Sheriff, made a splash when he encouraged Milwaukee’s beleaguered citizens to arm themselves:

Police chief get a gun

I think Clarke may have found a kindred spirit in Detroit Police Chief James Craig. During a press conference in which he discussed the rising numbers of homeowners (successfully) using arms to defend themselves, he had this to say:

Detroit Police Chief James Craig said at a press conference last week that in his 37-year career, he’s never seen as many homeowners defending themselves by shooting intruders. Craig told The News in January he felt the crime rate could be lowered if more “good Americans” were armed, because he said criminals would think twice about attacking.

“It does appear more and more Detroiters are becoming empowered,” Craig said. “More and more Detroiters are getting sick of the violence. I know of no other place where I’ve seen this number of justifiable homicides. It’s interesting that these incidents go across gender lines.”

We want more law enforcement like Clarke and Craig, and less like Marin’s Second Amendment-challenged sheriff.

***

I also want more of this:  An Ebony magazine editor went on a rant against conservative blacks; got called on it; claimed that the person calling her out was a white racist; when she learned that the person calling her out was black apologized for calling him white; and then doubled down on rants that were both anti-conservative black and anti-white.  (That’s not want I want to see more of.  It’s this next thing I like.)  Normally, Republicans would run away screaming from this type of confrontation, leaving the racist Leftist in control of the field.  This time, the RNC demanded an apology . . . and got it.

***

Speaking of the Left’s racial obsessions:  Any half-sentient being knows that Stephen Colbert’s shtick is that he created a faux-conservative character who is pathologically dumb, racist, sexist, etc., and that Colbert, a marginally-talented generic Leftist, uses this character to claim that all conservatives are pathologically dumb, racist, sexist, etc.  That’s why it’s hysterically funny that, when his show tried to  highlight (non-existent) Republican racism by having his character ostensibly tweet out a crude anti-Asian stereotype, the Asian community got riled and demanded that Colbert be fired for being an anti-Asian racist.  Asians should stop getting their knickers in a twist about stupid TV shows and should start looking at where their real politic interests lie.  (Hint:  It’s not the Democrat Party.)

***

Leland Yee has been around forever as a fixture in Bay Area politics.  As his name implies, he’s Asian, he’s hard Left, and he represents San Francisco and parts of San Mateo in the California legislature.  Since Sandy Hook, Yee’s been very vocal about being anti-guns.  He also just got indicted for gun running, including trying to sell arms to Islamist groups.  The MSM has been trying hard to ignore his story, as it’s been trying hard to ignore a bunch of other stories about spectacularly corrupt Democrat figures.  Howie Carr therefore serves a useful public service when he calls out the media, the Democrat party, and the crooks.

***

Speaking of crooks, Harry Reid claims never to have called Republicans liars when it comes to Obamacare, despite footage of him calling Republicans liars because of Obamacare.  There’s some debate on the Right about whether Reid’s gone senile or is just trying out his version of The Big Lie.  My theory is that we’re seeing malignant narcissism in play.  As I’ve said a zillion times before in speaking about Obama, malignant narcissists never “lie” because their needs of the moment always dictate the truth of the moment.  That is, if they need to say it, it must be true.  (It’s nice to be your own God.)

***

Keith Koffler identifies the four roots of Obama’s disastrous foreign policy.  I agree with him, although I would add a fifth, which is that Obama desperately wants to see America knocked down to size as punishment for her myriad sins.  Perhaps Obama should read the DiploMad, as he explains why Russia, the country before which Obama is now weakly doing obeisance, has always been much worse than America could ever be, both as a protector and an enemy.

***

Adm. Jeremiah Denton, Jr. has died at 89.  The public learned about Denton during the Vietnam War when, during one of the forced confessions that the North Vietnamese liked to televise to the world, he blinked out a Morse code message — “T-O-R-T-U-R-E” — thereby providing the first proof America had that the Commies were torturing American POWs.  During the same interview, he bravely said he supported his country, a statement that led to more torture.  Denton was also America’s longest-held POW, spending almost 8 years in the Hell that was the Hanoi Hilton, and various related prisons.  During that entire time, he was brutally and repeatedly tortured and he spent four years in solitary confinement (where he was tortured).  My heart bleeds when I read what happened to him.  But Denton came home and he got on with a full, rich life, including six years in the U.S. Senate.  If anyone deserves to Rest In Peace, it is Adm. Denton.

***

I don’t think much of Stanford.  It’s nothing personal.  I think all the big universities (and most of the small ones) have become intellectually corrupt.  However, Prof. Michael McConnell, at Stanford Law School, has somewhat restored my faith in Stanford by writing one of the clearest analyses I’ve yet seen of the problems facing the government in the Hobby Lobby case.  Of course, law and logic will not sway Ginsberg, Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer, all of whom are activists much more concerned with making policy than with applying law.  As happens too often, Anthony Kennedy will cast the deciding vote — a reality that places way too much power in the hands of a man who seems too often to blow, not where the Constitution takes him, but wherever his fancy for the day alights.

***

And to end on a light note, two more ridiculously funny Kid Snippets, offering an inspired combination of kid wisdom lip synched by some remarkably talented adult actors:

 

Marin County Sheriff: I love everything about the 2nd Amendment, except the part where it lets people carry guns

Heading into Marin CountyIt turns out that even in Progressive Marin County, law-abiding residents want to carry guns on their persons.  In the weeks since the 9th Circuit (!) held that county’s cannot condition concealed-carry permits on the sheriff’s determination that the applicant has made a credibly showing that he or she is in fear for his (or her) life, the upswing in concealed-carry applications has even reached true blue Marin (emphasis mine):

As Californians in some locations have flooded sheriff’s offices with applications and inquiries for permits to carry concealed guns, in Marin, sheriff’s officials say they have been fielding more calls than usual.

Demand is being driven by a federal appeals court ruling last month that made it easier for some residents to obtain the hard-to-get permits. About 56,000 Californians have a concealed-weapons permit in a state of 38 million residents. [Prior to the ruling] In Marin County, the sheriff’s office has issued only 21 concealed weapons permits.”

Those in Marin afraid of guns, though, need not worry that their perfectly nice neighbor, the one who brings casseroles when they’re sick and helps prop up fences in winter storms, will be packing legal heat any time soon.  Although the 9th Circuit may have spoken, that’s not good enough for Marin’s Sheriff:

Marin County Sheriff Robert Doyle said he doesn’t plan to loosen how permits are issued until the issue has been conclusively decided by the courts. He said he’s not sure how may people have applied for permits since the ruling as most of the inquiries in Marin have been phone calls.

“We’ve had more requests than usual since the ruling. We’ve told people they can apply, but we’re going to apply the same standard of demonstrating ‘good cause’ until it’s finally been decided by the court,” Doyle said. “The decision has basically been put on stay for three weeks to give the parties time to respond.”

Color me cynical, but I’m willing to bet that, if Sheriff Doyle had been in charge, Marin would have been issuing same-sex marriage licenses within minutes of the 9th Circuit’s decision striking down California’s Prop. 8, the much-maligned law holding that marriage is between one man and one woman.  A foolish consistency, though, is never the hobgoblin of Leftist minds.

What’s so incredibly funny in all this is Sheriff Doyle’s position on gun rights:

Doyle said he’s a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment, but believes concealed-weapons permits should be reserved for those who have some sort of verifiable threat in their lives.

“I don’t agree with the adage that the more guns we have, the safer we are,” Doyle said. “We do have business owners that have been robbed and some people that carry large sums of money in the course of their employment carrying concealed guns.”

Properly translated, what Doyle is saying is that “I strongly support the Second Amendment, except for the part where it says that the right to carry arms is inherent in the people, and not dependent on the whim of the government.  But otherwise, if I decide someone deserves to have a gun, I might actually give that person permission.  Maybe.”

I shouldn’t poke too much fun at the sheriff.  He is, after all, a perfect reflection of the county he serves.  Everyone here claims fealty to the Bill of Rights, provided that it’s eviscerated to conform with Leftist norms.

Even if Doyle is, as I suspect, a very nice man, I’d rather have Milwaukee’s Sheriff Clarke in charge of our concealed-carry licensing program:

Police chief get a gun