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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The Bookworm Beat (11/14/14) — Emptying the inbox (and Open Thread)

Woman writingNo thoughts today, either profound or self-centered. Just a burning desire to share with you all the wonderful things that come my way:

Dr. Jonathan Gruber — the gift that keeps on giving

It seems as if every conservative writing is churning out good stuff about what Gruber said, who he is, and what it all means. I can’t add to what they’re saying, but I can pass it along.

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Obamacare: Destroying the middle class, one family at a time (by Anonymous)

Jonathan Gruber Health Care Obamacare for DummiesA Bay Area resident who reads my blog, asked that I publish an open letter to Dr. Jonathan Gruber.  Because the letter’s writer has to make a living here in Marin (70% Democrat), she’s writing under a pseudonym.  I’m betting that this letter will resonate with many of you:

***

Dear Dr. Gruber,

I watched your panel discussion videos with fascination where you talk about creating Obamacare and how you needed to obfuscate and deceive in order to get it passed. I noticed how you hold the voting American public in contempt, saying how stupid we all are.

After viewing it I thought I would write to you to let you know how your important legislation for which you got paid $400,000 in consulting fees has affected my life. Because when I hear you speak about the voters of this country I don’t get the feeling that you have any understanding or empathy for us. I am sure you have more important things to think about.

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The Bookworm Beat (11/12/14) — The “trigger warning” edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingIf I’ve written this post correctly, it should trigger discomfort in sensitive Leftists.  “Trigger warnings,” for those of you fortunate enough not to move in circles that use them, are warnings at the beginning of any information presentation, be it fact or fiction, written or oral, aural or visual. They tell people with certain sensitivities that the material following the warning might upset them. For example, The Cat In The Hat might be preceded by a trigger warning stating “Trigger Warning: This book contains references to cats, which may be triggering to people suffering from Ailurophobia; references to boys, which may be triggering to people suffering from Misanthropy; references to girls, which may be triggering to people suffering from Misogyny; and references to Things, which may be triggering to people suffering from fear of Things.”

These trigger warnings started amongst the feminists, who manage to hold simultaneously conflicting thoughts, the first being that they are roaring women (and you’d better hear them), and the second that they are such fragile flowers that anything can permanently damage them. I’m not so sure anymore that trigger warnings are just a malicious feminist virus.  Instead, to the extent that trigger warnings are taking over American college campuses, I think that they’re actually part of a fiendish plot that transcends lunatic feminists in Herstory Departments across America.

Think about it: For decades, the Left has carefully controlled the material available to college students. Just when young people’s minds should be in their most receptive, inquiring mode, these youngsters are shut off in an institution that spoon feeds them carefully vetted material pointing to a single world view. As a conservative I met today told me, his grandson, a UC student, proudly boasted that everyone at his college voted Democrat in the last election. That may be an exaggeration, but it’s close enough to the truth to disturb all of us.

The problem for Leftist control freaks is the fact that they only get the students for 4-7 years, and that even during that time there’s the chance that the students, during visits home, or while picking up a random magazine abandoned at a Starbucks might accidentally be exposed to facts or analysis challenging the Leftist paradigm. Even the most zealous Leftist academic can’t police students all the time. Moreover, there’s always the problem that an insufficiently indoctrinated student might be embarrassed at the sheeple-ness of it all (is there no rebellion left amongst the young?) and foment an intellectual revolution.  What’s an academic to do?

What the enterprising academic will do is vaccinate the students so that they develop antibodies that make them permanently resistant to any new information whatsoever. That’s what the “trigger warning” is. It inoculates brains against all ideas but for Leftist ones.  Mention preprogrammed words, phrases, or ideas — e.g., liberty, Founding Fathers, Constitution, decent men, rape fallacy, conservatives, Republicans, etc. — and the students are so sensitized that they instantly, and without any higher brain function, start screaming “It’s a trigger!” after which they fall on the floor in a sobbing heap, inconsolable until someone comes along and whispers in their ears restorative words such as Social Justice, right side of history, racism, sexism, etc.

As long as our young people are not just taught Leftism, but are taught to panic at anything that challenges Leftism, they are unreachable. They have been vaccinated against ideas about individual liberty, constitutionalism, morality, etc. Sad, but true….

But if you’re made of stronger stuff, if you can read ideas that might not mesh with yours, I probably have something to offer you in this little grab bag of links and pictures.

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