The Bookworm Beat 10-1-15 — the “clearing the spindle” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265My thoughts are with the family and friends of those killed and wounded at Umpqua Community College today. I have only three things to note: Obama immediately demanded gun control; the campus has a “gun free zone” policy; and the shooter started to ask people their religion, but started shooting before they could answer.

Without more information, I have nothing else to say nor conclusions to draw.

What it’s like to experience an Islamic terrorist attack

Foreign Policy has a truly horrifying minute-by-minute timeline of what happened during the horrible Islamic attack on the Nairobi’s Westgate Mall two years ago.  The article pieces the story together based on conversations with survivors and Kenyan officials, as well as information derived from mall security tapes.

My two takeaways are that Islamic terrorists are monstrous people by the standards of any place and any time in world history; and that when seconds count, the authorities are not only minutes or hours away, they seldom have enough information to handle the crisis in any event.  The front-line defendants, if any, are those people who, through sheer happenstance, find themselves at the center of a terrorist attack.  If they are armed, the attack is more likely to be limited in scope.

When all guns in private hands are outlawed (which is President Obama’s most devout hope), only outlaws and terrorists will have guns.  The rest of us will have targets painted on strategic parts of our bodies.

Dirty organic food

Marin County is fanatic about its organic foods. Perhaps, as with so many things, Marin is on the wrong track:

The permitted “organic” pesticides can be toxic. As evolutionary biologist Christie Wilcox explained in a 2012 Scientific American article: “Organic pesticides pose the same health risks as non-organic ones. No matter what anyone tells you, organic pesticides don’t just disappear.”


Organic foods are highly susceptible to it. According to Bruce Chassy, professor of food science at the University of Illinois, “organic foods are recalled 4 to 8 times more frequently than their conventional counterparts.” This is hardly surprising. Aside from the presence of pathogenic bacteria, organic grains are particularly susceptible to toxins from fungi. In 2003, the UK Food Safety Agency tested six organic corn meal products and 20 conventional (non-organic) corn meal products for contamination with the toxin fumonisin. All six organic corn meals had elevated levels—from nine to 40 times more than the recommended levels for human health—and they were voluntarily withdrawn from grocery stores. By contrast, the 20 conventional (i.e., non-organic) products averaged about a quarter of the recommended maximum levels.

Obamacare — more people should read my blog

Over at Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog there’s a conundrum:  Why don’t 33 million people have health insurance in this glorious Obamacare era?  There are some easy answers to that question according to FiveThirtyEight:  To begin with, around 4 million of those “Americans” without insurance are, in fact, illegal aliens.  Another three million are immigrants and Medicaid gap people who don’t have coverage.  Take away that crowd, and one is still left with 29 million uninsured people.  You can then peel away the 7.7 invincible or unemployed young, who view insurance as unnecessary or too costly, especially given that they’re propping up Obamacare.  Even after that, you’re still left with around 14 million uninsured Americans, 75% of whom are adults who ought to be Obamacare subscribers.

At this point, FiveThirtyEight is baffled:

It’s hard to say why these 14 million people weren’t insured, but the administration will have to figure that out if it wants to come close to the universal coverage the law intended.

May I suggest that the FiveThirtyEight people stop thinking like the middle class and start thinking like the lowest class? Once again, I turn to my friend who, though coming from a middle class background, lives amongst the poorest of the poor, many of whom are second or third generation members of that class:

[My friend] and her husband, the only middle class people in a sea of poverty, are the only people she knows, amongst both friends and acquaintances, who have signed up for Obamacare.  The others have no interest in getting health insurance.  Even with a subsidy, they don’t want to pay a monthly bill for health insurance.  Even a subsidized rate is too onerous when they can get all the free health care they need just by showing up at the local emergency room.  Additionally, the ER docs are usually better than any doc who’s willing to belong to whatever plan they can afford.  Nor are these people worried about the penalties for refusing to buy Obamacare, since none of them pay taxes.

Not only are the people in my friend’s world refusing to buy Obamacare, they resent it.  According to my friend, someone she knows abruptly announced that she’s getting involved in local politics, something she’s never done before.  Until recently, this gal was one of those people who just floated along, getting by.  Now, though, she’s fired up.

The reason for the sudden passion is unexpected:  She’s deeply offended by a law that forces people to buy a product they don’t need — never mind that she might benefit from the product, that she would pay far below market value for the product, or that she’s too poor to be penalized for ignoring this government diktat.  The mere fact that the diktat exists runs counter to her notion of individual liberty.  Her view of government is that, while it’s fine if it hands out welfare checks and food stamps, it goes beyond the pale when the government uses its power and wealth to coerce activity.

Our ideologically blind, narcissistic president

Barack Obama’s appalling speech at the UN resulted in several very good articles about his delusions. My favorite is Bret Stephens’ An Unteachable President:

Finally, Mr. Obama believes history is going his way. “What? Me worry?” says the immortal Alfred E. Neuman, and that seems to be the president’s attitude toward Mr. Putin’s interventions in Syria (“doomed to fail”) and Ukraine (“not so smart”), to say nothing of his sang-froid when it comes to the rest of his foreign-policy debacles.

In this cheapened Hegelian world view, the U.S. can relax because History is on our side, and the arc of history bends toward justice. Why waste your energies to fulfill a destiny that is already inevitable? And why get in the way of your adversary’s certain doom?

It’s easy to accept this view of life if you owe your accelerated good fortune to a superficial charm and understanding of the way the world works. It’s also easier to lecture than to learn, to preach than to act. History will remember Barack Obama as the president who conducted foreign policy less as a principled exercise in the application of American power than as an extended attempt to justify the evasion of it.

Elliott Abram’s thoughts about Obama’s “surreal” speech are also well worth reading.  He contrasts each statement Obama made, about the Middle East, Cuba, or anything, with the facts on the ground.  Obama is either a delusional fabulist or he really thinks everyone in the world is as stupid as his Progressive fans.

The camera never lies, at least not when it comes to Putin and Obama

Recent headlines make it obvious that Putin is running rings around Obama and positioning Russia as the new world power.  I’m actually not sure how long Putin can keep this dominance going.  Back at home, his country is being weakened by an utterly corrupt government; a weak, oligarchic economy; rising AIDS and alcoholism; and a declining population.  Putin is definitely ready to lead, but may eventually have too few followers and too little money.  If he’s forced to retrench, though, we know he’ll leave havoc in his wake.

But back to Putin and Obama.  If you want to know what’s going on, check out this chart.

A handy-dandy guide to rebutting BDS lies about Israel

YNet has published an article that provides actual facts to counter the lies the BDS movement relies on in order to further its antisemitic goals.  For example:

The Lie: “Palestinians who live in Israel are second-class citizens.”

The Truth: Israeli Arabs are citizens with equal rights. Arabs serve as Members of Parliament, as judges in courts, including the Supreme Court, as professors and doctors. In the past there were incidents of discrimination, and sometimes there still are. But according to any objective measure, the condition of Israeli Arabs is far better than that of Muslim minorities in Europe.

The head of the panel of judges who sent former Israeli president Moshe Katsav to jail, for example, was an Arab judge. The chairman of the Central Election Committee in 2015 Elections was also an Arab. There are numerous examples of the ways in which Israeli Arabs are integrated in the culture, art, economy and academia of Israel.

A handy-dandy guide to the Planned Parenthood videos

Meanwhile, at the Federalist, Mollie Hemingway summarizes the contents of the various undercover videos of Planned Parenthood’s trafficking in human bodies.  One doesn’t even have to watch the videos to find the contents extremely disturbing.

That Republicans are still funding this utterly corrupt organization — one that launders money for the Democrat party, spends taxpayer funds on boondoggles for high ranking employees (something only Fox seems willing to report),  and derives profit from selling body parts — is a disgrace.  Planned Parenthood is not the only game in town for women’s health care, and it’s time for us to stop pretending that it is (especially in this age of Obamacare).

Someone on a closed Facebook group to which I belong had a good observation:  How can Planned Parenthood (and other lefties such as the execrable Bill Nye, the un-science guy) claim that before birth a fetus is not human, while at the same time harvesting those same fetal body parts for sale as “human organs”?

Well, you know what they say:  If Leftists didn’t have double standards, they wouldn’t have any standards at all.

Medical care in America — humane, patient centered, and amazingly sophisticated

(This is not my mother.)

(This is not my mother.)

On Monday, the surgeon told me that I needed to decide immediately whether my mother should have surgery to relieve pressure from a bleed on the brain. Time was of the essence, because the pressure was building so quickly she could die within the hour.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, the decision was an easy one — my mother wants to live, she’s otherwise in good health, and the surgery, while risky, would most probably have a good outcome. I said yes and that was that — the hospital staff instantly swung into gear and my mother was in the OR within 30 minutes. Since the surgery, she’s been cared for in the ICU. This leads me to a couple of comments.

First, I am incredibly grateful that my Mom still lives in a world in which the patient and the family can make decisions about health care. Mother Jones, applauding the California legislature’s decision to grant patients a right to physician assisted suicide, was certain that the only real problem with the bill was that it failed to protect the dying from venal relatives (emphasis in original):

Brown might also feel that the bill’s safeguards against abuse still aren’t sufficient:

In spite of the bill’s provision about coercion, Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, director of the medical ethics program at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine, said that low-income and underinsured patients would inevitably feel pressure from family members to end their own lives in some cases, when the cost of continued treatment would be astronomical compared with the cost of a few lethal pills.

He pointed to a case in Oregon involving Barbara Wagner, a cancer patient who said that her insurance plan had refused to cover an expensive treatment but did offer to pay for “physician aid in dying.”

“As soon as this is introduced, it immediately becomes the cheapest and most expedient way to deal with complicated end-of-life situations,” Dr. Kheriaty said. “You’re seeing the push for assisted suicide from generally white, upper-middle-class people, who are least likely to be pressured. You’re not seeing support from the underinsured and economically marginalized. Those people want access to better health care.”

In other words, for the Left, every patient’s worst enemy is his or her own family. Reality, however, shows the opposite to be true.  Barring statistical outliers, most people love their family members and want them to live, not to die.  They don’t place an actuarial value on their family member’s life, they place a love, affection, duty, and moral value on that life.

What experience shows us is that, when it comes to making decisions about a person’s care (what to give, what to withhold), it’s the government that places an actuarial value on people.  It decides that people are too sick or too old to be worth treating.

I have no doubt that, were my 92-year-old mother living under a socialized medicine regimen, I would already have buried her a couple of days ago.  After all, we know that in England, the mother land of socialized medicine, the government both explicitly and implicitly refuses to treat old or sick people.  Other countries with nationalized medicine do the same, although socialized medicine’s supporters try to dress this up as altruism, rather than cost-saving.

The reality is that I care about my mother, whereas a government actuary does not.  I see her as a fully realized human being with a lust for life.  The actuary sees her as an aged person with a history of falls. I want her alive; the actuary wants her to be less expensive.  I love her; the state does not.

The other point I want to make is about the care Mom’s receiving in the ICU.  Before I get to a substantive discussion, though, I have to give unqualified praise to Marin General for her ICU care.  The ICU facility is lovely and every member of the staff is a star — they are all kind, attentive, efficient, and extremely skilled.  They treat my mother as a person who needs tender loving care, rather than an old, difficult body occupying one of their beds.

And that leads me to the substantive point, which is that the care she gets is amazing:  she’s in a state-of-the-art bed, designed especially to avoid bedsores.  She’s hooked up to state-of-the-art machines that monitor all of her functions, which are watched over by a contract service in San Francisco that hires people to keep an eagle eye monitors all day long.  She’s given state-of-the-art medicine to manage her pain and control her various age related health problems. In the 1950s, when American medicine was cheaper, none of this would have existed.

As long-time readers know, I believe that part of why American medicine is so costly is because we have too many middle men between the patient and the provider:  the person who needs care doesn’t negotiate costs with the provider, nor does he or she shop around.  There are, for example, two hospitals within a 10 mile radius of my Mom’s home, and three hospitals if you go out 16 miles.

Thanks to employer-provided health insurance, too many prices are fixed, and the negotiations too often take place between people who have no skin in the game. This is the same problem, of course, that we see in public sector unions, where the only person missing from the negotiation is the taxpayer, who actually foots the bill.

But the other reason American medicine is so costly is because it’s so damn good.  In 1950, a hospital room looked like this:

Hospital room 1950s

It’s very pretty, with its lights, chairs, and television, but you’ll notice the singular lack of anything remotely related to health care, except for that pretty, smart-looking nurse.  Nowadays, though, the average hospital room looks like this:


That room is a miracle of technology and efficiency.  It’s not pretty, but everything in it is dedicated to improving the patient’s outcome.  The average ICU room (which looks very similar to the one in which Mom is currently housed) is even more highly outfitted:

ICU room

This is what we, as Americans have come to expect from our hospital care, but there’s no way it can come cheap.  The same is true for all the medicines we use today from those much reviled pharmacies.  We have pharmaceutical treatments today — arrived at very expensively, thanks to research and development, plus the endless FDA process — that doctors in the past hadn’t even begun to imagine could exist.  That too doesn’t come cheap.

In other words, our care today is more expensive than it was in the past because it’s better than it was in the past.  If we want past prices, we have to expect past care.

I continue to believe that some reasonable government oversight, combined with a free market, is the single best way to lower costs in an industry that has made extraordinary strides in the past 60 years, strides that should be celebrated, not reviled as the domain of greedy capitalists.


The Bookworm Beat 7-25-15 — the Lazy, but interesting, edition

Woman-writing-300x265As you may have gathered from the number of things we did every day on our recent trip to Virginia and environs, ours was not a restful vacation. I capped off the fatigue with a cold and, since our return, have been having a very hard time motivating myself to do anything. My theme song for the week has been Irving Berlin’s Lazy, although I’d have to add fatigue and inertia to the laziness mix:

Still, despite my laziness, I have managed to peel myself off the couch and find my way to the computer occasionally, so I do have some posts to share with you:

Made You Laugh

Before I get to the depressing stuff — and, lately, all the news seems to be depressing — I wanted to tell you about a weekly column my long-time friend Gary Buslik is starting at The Blot. I first introduced you to Gary a few years ago when I reviewed his outrageously funny book Akhmed and the Atomic Matzo Balls: A Novel of International Intrigue, Pork-Crazed Termites, and Motherhood. I’ve since read, though shamefully neglected to review, his delightful travelogue, A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean: A Grump in Paradise Discovers that Anyplace it’s Legal to Carry a Machete is Comedy Just Waiting to Happen. In both books, and in the various travel articles of his published in anthologies, Gary’s voice is true: erudite, wry, mordant, snarky, self-deprecating, Jewish, and very, very funny.

Since Gary just launched his weekly column, there’s only one week’s worth of writing, but I think you might enjoy it: The Great Jewish Dilemma.

Yes, Martin O’Malley’s link between ISIS and climate change is crazy

Democrat presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley came in for a good deal of derision for saying that ISIS’s rise can be tied to climate change. The obvious reason this is a laughable point is because the most direct tie to ISIS’s rise is, of course, Obama’s retreat, which created a giant ISIS-sized vacuum. My friend Wolf Howling sent me an email which I think nicely summarizes the Obama/ISIS link:

A fascinating article in the NY Review of Books states that it is the Iraqi organization originally founded by Zarqawi, the utterly sadistic terrorist we sent off the mortal coil in 2006. The movement obviously survived him, and this really throws into stark relief the wages of Obama and the Left cutting and running from Iraq in 2010. ISIS is like a bacteria that survives a stunted course of antibiotics. Had we stayed in Iraq, there is no possible way that ISIS could have had a rebirth.

The author of the article tries to make sense of the rise of ISIS. You can read his ruminations. My own theory is two-fold: One, ISIS is preaching the true Salafi / Wahhabi purist doctrine that makes of the world a thing of black and white, where all things that support Allah are pure, while everything that does not is evil and can be dealt with without regards. Thus it is a draw to young Arab men. If you want to see how, here is a fascinating article by Tawfiq Hamid, a doctor who became a terrorist, who discusses the lure of Salafism / Wahhabism and all its deadly toxins.

Two, the ISIS ideology is a draw because it is utterly without bounds in its sadism or cruelty. This also is a draw to a particular segment of Arab men. It is the Lord of the Flies. It is going into a scenario where you will have the power of life, death, and pain with virtually no restrictions.

The fact is that ISIS should not be around today. My word, but Obama has so totally f**ked us in the Middle East . . . . He makes Carter look like Nixon by comparison.

I only wish I’d written that, but at least I can share it with you. So yes, O’Malley is an ignorant moron.

Still, never let it be said that the Left doesn’t protect its own, so The Atlantic has tried to throw a life saver to O’Malley: Martin O’Malley’s Link Between Climate Change and ISIS Isn’t Crazy. The article’s premise is that there’s a connection between drought and unrest. To which I say, “Well, duh!”

Any student of history knows that in primitive societies (and Muslim Middle Eastern countries are extremely primitive when it comes to food production, due to natural limitations, societal factors, and the transfer of food crops to biofuels) anything that interferes even marginally with food production has devastating effects, with war one of the most common ones.

However, as my reference to “students of history” makes clear, droughts have always happened. O’Malley wouldn’t have been a moron if he’d said “the drought they’re experiencing in the region no doubt was a contributing factor to unrest in the Syria – Iraqi region.” But instead, he had to throw in “climate change” — and what makes that so laughable is that we’ve come to the point  which climate change is responsible for everything. I’m awaiting the day when we get an article saying that Caitlyn Jenner’s unfortunate transgender habit of dressing like a male chauvinists’ dream 1950s pin-up girl is also due to climate change.

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Out of the mouths of babes — Obamacare and economics

Taking moneyThis is a post about Obamacare, but I think it needs to start with my daughter’s great insight about our neighborhood grocery store, which recently sold out to a so-called “high-end chain.” So far, the only thing high about the store under its new ownership it is the prices its charging. It’s selling the same meats Wal-Mart sells (not that there’s anything wrong with that), except that it’s promoting them as boutique specialty meats and pricing them accordingly (and there’s a lot wrong with that). When the neighborhood moms get together, they don’t have a lot of nice things to say about the newly configured market.

I decided to ask my teenage daughter what her peers in the neighborhood had to say about the new store at the same old location. Her answer, which I’m quoting verbatim, was marvelous, and should be read by every Leftist in America:

It’s okay. I like the soups. But otherwise, it’s really expensive. Now that my friends and I are all driving, if we want food, we either go to a restaurant where we can totally order what we want, or we go to Safeway, which is a lot cheaper. Basically, the local market is the kind of place you go when you’re spending other people’s money — like yours, Mom.

Could there be a more perfect statement of the problems that arise from government handouts?

Her little statement resonated especially strongly with me today, because of a discussion I had with a pro-Obamacare person this morning. What sparked the discussion was the fact that both Forbes and the New York Times had Obamacare offerings. Forbe’s offering is an article Steve Moore wrote about the false statements Obama made in a speech claiming that Obamacare was a success. The New York Times offering is a 35-minute-long video following the healthcare travails of a diabetic man in Kentucky, both before and after Obamacare went into effect.

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Crony capitalists fear that the Supreme Court might gut Obamacare

The reality of ObamacareBack in August 2009, I wrote about a conversation I had with a Leftist physician regarding the upcoming legislation that would turn into Obamacare. One of my contentions was that Obamacare was a step to single payer and would end up bankrupting America’s existing medical establishments. He disagreed. Here’s the relevant part of my post about that conversation:

What this doctor likes about mandatory universal health care is that it forces the voluntary uninsured into the system.  He thinks it grossly unfair that they are not paying into the system, while people who need insurance are paying.  If there were more money in the system, the person with a preexisting condition would not be required to pay as much for his insurance.  In other words, he thinks that the insurance system should be a cross between an uninsured motorist requirement and social security.  He freely admits that this is a government mandated spread the wealth approach, and one of which he approves.

Because he has a philosophical approach that requires everyone to be in the health care market, whether they want to be or not, he is unperturbed by CBO numbers projecting vast increases in the cost of health care under the new plan.  He thinks the CBO people, being accountants and not doctors, have no idea what they’re talking about.  What he envisions is a brave new world in which the government simply provides more insured people who will use medical services.  He finds it inconceivable that universal health care (which is a system by which all people are insured, but medical care providers continue to be privately owned) can shade into a single payer, government-owned system.

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My run-in with an Obamacare fanatic

AngryBecause I have a careful social life, which sees me discuss parenting issues with liberals and politics with conservatives, I’ve never spoken with a true believer about Obamacare.  Last night was my baptism in fire and, I have to say, staring into the maddened eyes of someone who sees Obamacare as a divine gift to the American people was an unnerving experience.

I went out to dinner with a group of people, some of whom I knew, and some of whom were spouses I hadn’t yet met.  For the most part, the evening was delightful.  Unfortunately, it ended on a sour note, when I unwittingly found myself speaking with an Obamacare fanatic.

I actually hadn’t planned on discussing politics, especially since I knew I was the only conservative in the bunch.  Obamacare came up accidentally because a few of us — all middle-aged people with bad eyes — were talking about how expensive prescription glasses have become.  Not unnaturally, this led to a discussion about the rising costs of medical care overall.

The initial discussion was about the perverse incentives of the insurance marketplace since WWII (separating consumers from providers so that consumers have no incentive to shop or bargain for lower prices); about the costs of more sophisticated medical treatments (it’s not only leeches any more); about high compensation for doctors (it’s justified by their training, but is all that training really necessary?); and about the fact that Medicare caps result in hospitals trying to recoup money by charging $100 for a box of Kleenex.

At this point, one of the spouses, whom I’ll call Tiny Tim, announced that Obamacare would correct all this.  Everyone, he said, will get better insurance and better medical care, all for a lower price, and there will be no more uninsured.  (Hmm….  Where have I heard that before?)  I rained on his parade by saying that many of the uninsured were not lining up to buy insurance.  Instead, those enrolled under Obamacare were often previously covered people who had been forced onto Obamacare when they lost their own insurance.  (See my discussion about that issue here.)  Moreover, those who did not qualify for subsidies were seeing substantial increases in their premiums and deductibles, caused in part by increasing medical costs.

At this point, I offered not a statistic but an example:  I know a woman from one of my conservative groups.  She’s single, self-employed, in her high 50s or low 60s, and was forced onto Obamacare at the end of 2013.  When I saw her at a luncheon about three months ago, she was livid.  She’d liked her old insurance, which was affordable and provided the coverage the wanted.  Her new policy after she lost her old one doubled her premium and her deductible, and saw her paying for a lot of things she didn’t need or want (such as fertility treatments).

Somehow this anecdote enraged Tiny Tim.  He drew himself up to his full height of 5’2″ (I am  not exaggerating), tried to lean over the table to get into my face (something you can’t do when your short), shook his stubby little finger at me and, with spittle flying from his mouth, announced that I was a liar.  “There is no such woman.  You’re lying!  Lying!”  Let’s just say he failed to intimidate me.

When I insisted — truthfully — that there was such a woman, Tiny Tim next announced that she then must be the liar and, if not a liar, she is a moron.  Why is  she a moron?  Tiny Tim, with no information whatsoever, had a ready answer:  She’s a moron because this gal’s former insurance was garbage, and came complete with annual or lifetime caps that would ruin her when she became terribly ill.  Garbage, he kept repeating in his shrill little voice.

Focusing tightly on my powerful belief in individual liberties, rather than on his bulging eyes, and spittle flecked lips, I replied that the gal is an intelligent, experienced career woman who bought this policy on the open market because it worked for her, and she could afford it.  Tiny Tim could not be calmed.  He screamed out again that she was a moron and had no idea what was good for her.  Obamacare knows what’s good for her, he said, and is giving her the policy she needs, whether she’s smart enough to appreciate that or not.

In other words, cut through Tiny Tim’s angry, abusive hysteria and you suddenly find smug, arrogant Jonathan Gruber:  Americans are stupid, can’t possibly know what they want or can afford, and must have a beneficent government force them to do things that they cannot afford and do not need because the government knows best.

Once Tiny Tim put his cards on the table, I was gearing up to make a cutting riposte, when I suddenly felt the ghost of my father at my shoulders.  The one thing I share with my father, alav ha-shalom, is that when I get angry, I get really nasty, which means that, rather than focusing on the issue, I get personal — kind of like Tiny Tim was doing to me and to the woman he’d never met but knew, nevertheless, was a moron.

Unlike Tiny Tim, who seems to be all anger and no conscience, I always hate myself after I lapse into crude ad hominem attacks.  Being nasty is not a way to win an argument, nor is it a way to gain either the respect of others or your own respect.  I could feel that nastiness bubbling up in my, overwhelming logic, humor, assertiveness, and wit.  So I left.

As I explained to my sister when I discussed the matter with her, Tiny Tim didn’t chase me away; my Dad’s ghost did, and I am thankful.  Today I can look back on the interlude with amusement, rather than embarrassment and shame.  I also look back on it with something approaching despair — Tiny Tim may have been emotionally defective, but he’s also America’s “power” class, insofar as he’s highly educated, holds an excellent job, makes a nice income.  These attributes obviously lead him to believe himself better and smarter than the average American, and therefore well-equipped to deprive them of their liberty “for their own good.”  Multiply him by all the other Americans who have emerged and are still emerging from our university systems, and we have a very big problem.

[VIDEO] Gruber’s defense: I’m arrogant and stupid

Trey Gowdy is masterful. He starts off strong and just gets stronger:

Gruber looks like a trapped ferret, but it seems to me that his remorse is tied to his getting caught, not his having said those things in the first place. Were he genuinely remorseful, he would expand on those canned answers, and take a second look at his underlying world view.

The Bookworm Beat (11/21/14) — The imperial presidency edition (plus illustrations and Open Thread)

Woman writingI keep meaning to write something profound about what happened to our country yesterday, only to discover that other, much better writers and thinkers already got there before I did. I’ll just summarize by saying that Obama behaved illegally, unconstitutionally, and undemocratically.  Having said that, of course, the really important question becomes: What next?

Let’s see if I can start this round-up by passing on some ideas.

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The Bookworm Beat (11/15/14) — Time warp edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingWhy is this a “time warp edition”? Because even though I’m publishing it on Saturday, I actually wrote it on Friday. The reason delayed publishing is because I’m spending all day Saturday attending part II of my CERT training. I expect the training to be more of the same stuff as last week: really nice, well-informed, generous people inefficiently teaching four hours of useful information over the course of eight hours.

Rather than leaving my blog fallow for that time, I thought I’d prep a post in advance. The only reason I’m mentioning the 14-hour lead time is to explain why, if something dramatic happens in the news tomorrow, you won’t read about it at the Bookworm Room. And now, it’s time for yesterday’s news today!

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