The Bookworm Beat (10/10/14) — Hanging on by a thread edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingReading the news lately is not conducive to good mental health. Obama has become a one man Murphy’s Law: on his watch, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. We are watching a train wreck in real-time. It’s as if someone back in the 1950s came out with a Twilight Zone-esque alternative reality movie that looks at what could happen if America ever ended up with America-hating socialists both in the White House and controlling some or all of Congress. I think it would have been a horror movie….

Finally: Nobel Peace Prize winners I can support

I’m hard put to remember the last time I wasn’t disgusted by the Nobel committee’s choices for Peace Prize winner. (So much so that, when I was in Oslo, I found it hard even to walk into the room where the Peace Prize is presented. This year, though, the Nobel committee finally got it right — the winners are Malala Yousafzai, the young woman who didn’t stop her anti-Taliban activism even when the Taliban shot her, and Kailash Satyarthi, who seeks to end child exploitation.

Sam Harris explains more about Ben Affleck’s attack against him on Bill Maher’s show

If you read one thing today, read Sam Harris as he explains that Ben Affleck was primed to attack both Bill Maher and Harris about Islam from the second Harris appeared on Maher’s show. Harris carefully explains his basic premise — the illiberalism of Islam — and expands on the fact that he is routinely a target for holding this view. I, of course, agree with Harris.

Leftism is a mental illness

Yesterday, I wrote about Jane Fonda and the attraction Leftism seems to hold for people with traumatic childhoods or mental illnesses (or both). In a comment, Charles Martel mentioned a video I’d already lined up to show you.

In this video, a profoundly disturbed, quite possibly mentally ill woman, starts shrieking about her “little girl” to some restaurant diners. It’s a very upsetting video to watch, not because I agree with the shrieker’s radicalism on animal rights, but because, as a humanist, I find it upsetting to see mentally ill people in action, with nobody able to step in and help:

I’ll add here, as I always do when the subject comes up, that I do not believe animals are equal to humans. I’m crazy about my dogs and call them my babies, but I know they’re not. They’re dogs. They’re loving and fun and have a lot of intelligence in a doggie way. They will never create anything, think any deep thoughts, or develop an existential sense of themselves or the world. When they die, at around 13 years, I will grieve terribly, and then got more dogs.

I like eating meat and, when I look at my teeth, my digestion, and my dietary needs, I know that I was created to eat meat. I’m fortunate in that I can also enjoy the fruits of the earth, but meat’s definitely part of my body’s health. I also know that the animals I eat, or whose eggs or milk I consume, have feelings. They can be happy or sad, in pain or comfortable. However, I am 99.9999999999% certain that animals do not suffer any existential anxiety.

Thus, the pig doesn’t stop rolling in the mud to think to himself, “Yeah, sure I’m having fun in the mud today, but what will tomorrow hold for me? Will I meet the love of my life or will I die at a farmer’s hands? Does what I do make a difference?” Likewise, the cow chewing cud is not thinking deep thoughts.

With this knowledge about animals, I feel it is my obligation, whenever possible, to buy meat from animals raised and slaughter humanely, and to use eggs and dairy products from chickens allowed to scratch the soil and cows allowed to wander through green pastures. And that’s the sum total of my responsibility to those lower in the food chain than I am.

Norwegian company in Canada offers more evidence of Leftism as a mental illness

If you want even more evidence that Leftism is a mental illness, check out the story of the Amaruk Wilderness Corp.’s response to a job candidate who graduated from a Christian school that doesn’t recognize gay marriage. Within the span of a few emails, Amaruk’s managers went from anti-Christian discrimination, to hatred for straight men, to a desire to f*ck God in the literal sense.

If you’re traveling to Canada and looking for a wilderness guide company, I recommend against Amaruk. It’s not just that they’re mean. It’s that they’re quite obviously mentally ill — and who wants to be stuck out in the middle of nowhere with someone quite crazy?

Obama speaks foreign language known as “English”

Okay, this is petty of me, but I simply cannot resist passing on this video of Obama’s bizarre pronunciation of OB-GYN. Most people either say O-B-G-Y-N or they just say “gynecologist,” with a few outliers saying “ob-gyne.” Obama, however, comes up with a new one:

Gwyneth Paltrow proves my point about Barak-ian Gray

The other day, I had a little fun pointing out that Barack Obama’s face appears strangely untouched by time and scandal. I suggested that there might be a picture of Dorian Gray at work here.

I had to laugh, therefore, when I read about Gwyneth Paltrow’s reaction on coming face-to-face with Obama recently: “You’re so handsome that I can’t speak properly.”

I guess she hasn’t yet seen the picture in the attic.

Is the real threat to America Enterovirus D68?

While everyone’s attention is focused on Ebola, American children are dying from a polio-like virus. And isn’t it interesting that this deadly virus has hit America right at the time Obama opened our borders to tens of thousands of Latin American children, all un-vaccinated, and many ill with diseases such as . . . Enterovirus D68? It just doesn’t seem like a coincidence that the EV-D68 outbreaks track precisely the route those Latin American children took when Obama shipped them out into America’s heartlands.

There’s a reason the Secret Service stinks lately

The Secret Service, the organization charged with protecting the American president, has become a corrupt, inefficient joke. Dan Bongino, a former Secret Service agent and current Republican political candidate, says the problem starts at the top with management. And isn’t that always the case?

Mike McDaniel takes a long hard look at the details of the Secret Service’s downfall, and views it (ironically) as one of Obama’s few success stories.

Anti-Semitism morphs yet again

Like the poor, anti-Semitism is always with us — it just keeps changing its shape to meet the needs of the anti-Semitic society relying on it to avoid looking at that society’s own sins and failures. The New Republic has a decent run-down on the core nature of anti-Semitism, no matter the guise it wears.

Cosby actress rejects politically correct labels

The first paragraph of the IJ Review story sums it up nicely:

Raven-Symoné, the famous Nickelodeon actress who also played Olivia on “The Cosby Show,” doesn’t want people to call her “gay” or “African American.” She wants to be looked at as an individual human being. Imagine that.

What’s almost as good as Raven-Symoné’s stand is Oprah’s horror upon hearing it. I loath Oprah who, behind the lovey-dovey affect, is a calculating Leftist who made her billions pushing a victim agenda and destroying rational thought in favor of useful-idiot emotions.

Another political victim of the IRS?

Are you looking for the all-purpose excuse for everything?

Have you ever felt that the excuse you have to offer just isn’t good enough? “But officer, I was only going five miles above the speed limit?” “But teacher, I wasn’t cheating. I just happened to glance blindly in the direction of Charles’ test answers.” “Honest, Mom, it was already broken when I picked it up.”

Well, worry no more. An Islamist seeking to deflect attention from ISIS’s abhorrent beheading tactic has come up with the first all-purpose, use-in-any-situation excuse. Go here to find out what it is. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades.)

The beauty behind the iconic buildings

For sheer visual pleasure, take a look at these photos of the secret spaces behind some of England’s more iconic buildings.

Pictures

A few more of Caped Crusader’s great poster round-up:

Margaret Thatcher on essential freedoms

Obama talks differently about 2nd amendment and Obamacare

Solving Ebola in two steps

Democrat prorities don't include Tamooressi

Drug cartels not guns kill people

Obama on billionaires at Rich Richman fundraiser

Liberalzheimer's and Jim Crow laws

Monsters aren't in bed but are in DC

The Bookworm Beat (9/26/14) — Friday wrap-up edition and Open Thread

Woman writingMy sister summed me up in a sentence: “For an incredibly neurotic person, you’re very normal and easygoing.” I know what she means. All my neuroses are turned inwards. They drive me crazy, but they don’t interfere with anyone outside of my brain. If you meet me, I’m friendly, good-humored, and well-mannered. I rarely take offense, and I’m always happy to help out.

I’m the living embodiment of the reminder to judge people by their deeds, not their thoughts. Unless of course, you think the deeds and the thoughts reflect on each other, magnifying each . . . which leads to me to:

The Obama latte salute

A military friend of mine had this to say:

What I find comical about this is the outrage. You’re surprised by this man? This is par for the course. And technically, he has no obligation to salute them back. A military officer not in uniform is only obligated to acknowledge a salute with a proper verbal greeting. My understanding is saluting the Marines of HMX-1 started with Reagan.

I think there are more important things to address about him like having absolutely no plan in Syria. This is comical considering the whole “what is our exit strategy?” nonsense during the Bush admin. We don’t even have an entry strategy here.

My friend is quite right, but I couldn’t resist reminding him about that outlook/action connection I mentioned at the start of this post:

I know that Reagan started it (and did you know that Reagan, whom the Left always castigated for not going to war, was in the Army Reserve as of 1937, and was barred from active duty during WWII only because of his vision?), so it’s not deep tradition, and I know that it’s not militarily necessary.

The thing is that, if it was clear that Obama really supported the military, and wanted to fight war in a way that’s not only ethical (which is a good thing), but that also keeps our troops alive and effective (another good thing), no one would have given a flying whatsit even if he’d hollered “Howdy, guys!” and blown soap bubbles at them. The optics mattered only because they were such a perfect visual representation of which we all know he actually thinks: “Blech!  Marines again! And now I have to figure out how, and how many, of those baby killers to ship overseas this time….”

And my friend, who is a gentlemen down to the marrow of his bones, shot back:

I agree, we already know how he feels about the military. Saluting is what we call a military courtesy. Failing to simply be courteous says something about character.

I have such interesting friends.

Regarding the worsening mystery virus affecting children, when does correlation equal causation?

We’ve been hearing for a couple of months now about a serious respiratory virus affecting children across America. It’s been so bad that hospitals have been turning them away.

Well, here’s some more news guaranteed to make you unhappy: the virus just got worse. According to AP, children are now showing up with a paralysis that seems to be in the polio family and that may be related to the mystery enterovirus. So far, only nine cases have shown up in Colorado, but there’s no telling where paralysis problem might end up.

The AP’s not the only one paying attention to the virus. The New York Times has a long article about its effects on children across America (emphasis mine):

An outbreak of respiratory illness first observed in the Midwest has spread to 38 states, sending children to hospitals and baffling scientists trying to understand its virulent resurgence.

I love that line about “baffled” scientists. It reminds me of a wonderful Lord Peter Wimsey remark in Busman’s Honeymoon, when he and his new bride find a dead body in their honeymoon cottage. Being famous, the Wimseys are immediately besieged the press, one of whose members, Salcombe Hardy, is an old friend (emphasis mine):

“Can I say you’ve got a theory of the crime?”

“Yes,” said Peter.

“Fine!” said Salcombe Hardy.

“My theory is that you put the corpse there yourself, Sally, to make a good headline.”

“I only wish I’d thought of it. Nothing else?”

“I tell you,” said Peter, “the evidence is destroyed. You can’t have a theory without evidence to go on.”

“The fact is,” said Harriet, “he’s completely baffled.”

“As baffled as a bathroom geyser,” agreed her husband. “My wife’s baffled too. It’s the only point on which we are at one. When we’re tired of heaving crockery about we sit and sneer at one another’s bafflement. The police are baffled too. Or else they confidently expect to make an arrest. One or other . You can take your choice.” (Sayers, Dorothy L., Busman’s Honeymoon, p. 242 (Open Road Media, Kindle Edition)).

I feel a little like sneering at some bafflement too — in this case, the bafflement of those scientists trying to figure out how a rare virus that is connected to polio managed suddenly to enter the United States and infect American children.

I know that correlation is not causation, but I also know that not everything is pure coincidence. Isn’t it at least possible that the headlines about a bizarre virus striking down American children for the past two months might have something to do with the headlines from the end of July informing Americans that tens of thousands of Latin American children, many of them sick with diseases not seen in American children, were crossing the border? And isn’t it also possible that this baffling respiratory and occasionally polio-like illness might have to do with the fact that the Obama administration popped these children on buses and airplanes and then sent them all across the United States?

Again, I’m not saying that there has to be a connection, but I’d at least like to see some scientist say, “We’ve considered the possibility that this virus came with the immigrant children, but rejected it because….”

But they’re not saying that. Instead, the MSM just pretends the children’s crusade from Latin America never happened — so much so that it won’t even assure is that there’s no connection.

The country’s in the very best of hands (a song that’s never been more timely, I think)….

The media keeps its message consistent no matter the subject

The fact is that the American media is well-trained and it follows the Democrat playbook no matter the subject. A case in point involves doggies that have been Trayvon Martinized.

About that poor woman beheaded in Oklahoma

We know a few useful things about poor Colleen Hufford’s horrible death: She was beheaded, her murderer was an ex-con Muslim convert who had just been fired for arguing that women should be stoned, and another woman was saved from a similar fate when a company official with a gun shot him.

The police are trying to play this as just another case of workplace violence, and that may be true. But even ordinary violence reflects a zeitgeist. A former convict (which is what Alton Nolen, aka ‘Keem Yisrael, is), who converts to Islam in prison, will have two seeds planted within him: violence and jihad.

As always in these cases, please remember what my cousin, the retired prison chaplain, said about those prison converts:

It is not a contradiction to be a Muslim and a murderer, even a mass murderer. That is one reason why criminals “convert” to Islam in prison. They don’t convert at all; they similarly [sic] remain the angry judgmental vicious beings they always have been. They simply add “religious” diatribes to their personal invective. Islam does not inspire a crisis of conscience, just inspirations to outrage.

(Roger Simon has more on prison conversions to Islam and Caleb Howe has more on the lifelong anger and violence in Nolen that found its home in Islam) In other words, Nolen’s criminal history made him the kind of person who would commit murder — but his Islamic conversion made him the kind of person who would elevate this murder to the level of a jihad killing, complete with the sharia-compliant death of choice, namely beheading.

So yes, workplace violence or not, his religion mattered.

And what also mattered is that Nolen was stopped short by a gun. Jihad in America would be stopped pretty damn short if all of us were armed.

As for the shooting death of John Crawford in a Ohio Wal-Mart

John Crawford’s death is another one about which we know little, but it does look as if police were trigger-happy. Crawford was in a Wal-Mart aisle, someone called in a 911 because he was holding what looked like a gun, and the cops shot him. The video seems to show the cops firing instantly, without warning and, given how still Crawford was standing and the fact that his pop gun was pointed to the floor, they also shot without provocation. The cops, though, claim that Crawford was being threatening, something that might have been obvious outside of the silent film.

Radley Balko offers a great analysis of the bizarre intersections of so many societal issues in Crawford’s death: race, police malfeasance, societal paranoia about mass shootings, mental illness, etc. Something bad happened in that Wal-Mart, and two children lost their father.

I’m very interested in further facts. If Crawford’s behavior was frightening, so be it. But if trigger-happy cops killed an innocent man, let justice be done.

No, the Obama economy is not thriving

A few weeks ago, I asked for help rebutting a Forbes opinion piece claiming that the Obama economy is thriving, and that it puts the Reagan boom to shame. Just the other day, Forbes itself published an opinion piece rebutting that earlier, pro-Obama effort, and it’s a humdinger:

With the stock market cruising at all-time highs and the unemployment rate sitting at quaint levels, a fashionable new argument is making the rounds. Barack Obama is better at economic recovery than Ronald Reagan ever was.

The numbers make the case. Dow Jones Industrial Average the day President Obama was inaugurated in January 2009 was 7950; today it stands at 17,000. Unemployment in his first full month, that February: 8.3%, versus 6.1% today.

Ronald Reagan could not quite touch this standard. The Dow began his presidency at 950 and chugged to 1800 after five-and-a-half years. A 90% gain is nice, but short of the 115% gain since 2009. Unemployment over that span went from 7.4 to 7.1%—welcome enough, but overmatched by the post-2009 record.

And all the while under Reagan, there was double the consumer price inflation as under the comparable Obama period (26% vs. 13%). Interest rates were higher. Prime was at 7.5% in September 1986, in contrast to today’s 3.3%.

Whatever crisis, whatever “stagflation” Reagan faced as he swept Jimmy Carter from office in 1980, the results that came in well into his presidency pale in comparison to what the nation would put up under the leadership of Barack Obama.

This argument has glaring flaws, the most obvious of which (from a statistical point of view) is that the labor force participation rate has collapsed under Obama, while it surged under Reagan, rendering any kind of comparison of unemployment rates inoperable. The bald economic growth numbers, for their part, are double in the Reagan (20.3%) than in the Obama (9.7%) case.

Read the rest here.

By all means, let’s have over the counter birth control

To me, even the smallest dose of birth control pills acts like poison on my system. For most women, though, today’s low-dose birth control pills have few serious side effects, if one discounts the fact that they’re messing with women’s entire hormonal and reproductive systems.

Given all the other stuff that’s sold over the counter, there’s no reason for the Pill not to become an OTC drug too. This will lower women’s health care costs dramatically, both by increasing competition at the purchase level and by doing away with the perfunctory, but costly, doctor’s visit that precede prescribing the pill.

Obamacare supporters, of course, are incensed that conservatives believe the Pill should be an OTC drug because that would strip away large parts of their argument about imposing costly and ethically troubling Obamacare “women’s health” regulations on every employer and insurance company in America.

Could this be the reason race hustlers do what they do?

The retirement of Eric Holder, Attorney General of the US and race hustler extraordinaire, resulted in one of Roger Simon’s best posts. Simon begins with Holder’s extremely sleazy history: The same man who prosecuted Dinesh D’Souza for a $20,000 act of stupidity was the federal prosecutor who enabled the disgraceful pardon of Marc Rich, an exceptionally corrupt man who dealt with Iran during the hostage crisis and was lined up for 300 years in prison.

From that disgraceful beginning as an unprincipled party hack, Holder went on to become a hatchet man for the racism racket who turned the Justice Department into a purely political office advancing Obama’s hard Left, anti-constitutional, race-based domestic policies. That history leads Simon to this interesting thought:

Now I have a theory about the etiology of Holder’s fixation on race. When you know deep down you’re a dishonest person, when you have had to eat the bitter pill of your own corruption who knows how many times (even Clinton finally admitted that he had gone too far pardoning Rich and damaged his own reputation), you have to invent a narrative for yourself to justify your activities. So over may years Holder developed what I have called elsewhere a “nostalgia for racism.” No matter that racism was diminishing in our culture, he had to keep racism alive, believe it was alive. If racism were going away, he would no longer have a raison d’être, an excuse for his biased behavior, an excuse, as it turned out, to go beyond the law, act unilaterally and punish political enemies.

Why, yes. That sounds just right.

Think of Syria as you read this bumper sticker

It took me a couple of seconds to figure out the message behind this bumper sticker, and then I thought “That’s excellent.”

Arm tomorrow's enemies

If you’d like one for your car, you can buy it here.

You can put lipstick on a male pig, but it’s still a male pig

With self-selected sex transmutations dominating headlines lately (“Lift ban on transgender military members“), I keep harking back to what I’ve said since the headline about a “pregnant” man (i.e., a woman who had her breasts surgically removed, and took hormones to grow facial hair). At the end of the day, when the surgically-adjusted, cosmetically-mutated, chemically-altered soft tissue is gone, and the bones are all that is left, what’s left is . . . the original sex.

To hold otherwise — to say that person who made this change is now actually a man or a woman, just because he or she wants to be — is a bizarre cultural delusion we’re fostering. On the great bell curve of biology, men are men and women are women, and that’s true regardless of surgery, make-up, hormones, and magical thinking. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t accord the person the respect, when possible, of treating him or her as s/he wishes to be treated, but it does mean that we have to accept biological reality.

Case in point: Mixed martial arts. There, a man who went through the surgical, chemical, cosmetic process of appearing like a woman insisted that he be allowed to compete as a woman. The outcome was not pretty, as his opponent Tamikka Brents, who was born female, ended up with a massively broken eye socket and a concussion. Brents explained what happened to her:

In a post-fight interview this week, she told Whoa TV that “I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life.”

“I’ve fought a lot of women and have never felt the strength that I felt in a fight as I did that night. I can’t answer whether it’s because [he] was born a man or not, because I’m not a doctor,” she stated. “I can only say, I’ve never felt so overpowered ever in my life, and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right. ”

His “grip was different,” she added. “I could usually move around in the clinch against…females but couldn’t move at all in Fox’s clinch.”

I’m not a doctor either, but I’m pretty sure that, men have different bone structure and heavier muscle mass. Even if a man is taken female hormones, if he’s in the world of MMA training, he’s pushing those still-male muscles to the max. He’s going to be a muscle monster, with the weight of a man’s heavy bones behind him. At the end of the day, biology will not be denied.

Views from the climate change gala in New York

Power Line has a wonderful photo gallery from last weekend’s climate change extravaganza in New York. It’s got everything from the mounds of garbage left behind to the hypocritical celebrities to the hard Left people behind the climate change movement. Check it out. Laugh. Cry.

Then, if you want to laugh and cry some more, please enjoy Jeff Dunetz’s 48-item-long list of all the bad things that happen, according to the change-istas, because of climate change. Reading that list, I keep thinking of Monty Python’s Life of Brian, when Brian’s followers see everything he says as a sign of something insanely stupid:

Lies, damn lies, and British crime statistics

Since banning guns, Britain has become the most violent country in the first world. Certainly, the police are conflicted about the whole crime-fighting thing.  After all, the God of political correctness tells them that they shouldn’t fight crime if the criminals are blacks or Muslims.  The police have therefore figured out creative ways to massage the (non)crime-fighting numbers — they lie:

The culture of fiddling crime statistics is ingrained within the upper echelons of the police service where target-chasing has led to the under-reporting of serious crimes including rape, according to a report by MPs out today.

The MPs said a delay by Scotland Yard in addressing claims that rape figures were skewed was a “damning indictment of police complacency, inertia and lack of leadership”.

In attacking Rush, it appears that the female of the species is deadlier than the male

Rush Limbaugh went on the offensive to smoke out the small group of people trying to destroy his radio show through email and social media attacks against advertisers. What I noticed immediately is that, of the nine people engaged in this conspiracy, six are female. You’ll never have a 50/50 split in a group of nine people, but it’s telling somehow, that the group is heavily weighted on the women’s side.

I can’t decide if this is because women are indeed more vicious, or if it’s because the Sandra Fluke kerfuffle managed to turn Rush into a slayer of women in the deranged feminist mind, or if it’s simply random that in such a small group, there would be twice as many women as men. The fact seemed noteworthy, regardless of the reason.

No wonder women are raping as much as men are

Feminists have insisted that the definition of rape must be expanded far beyond the traditional definition, which pretty much was limited to a man using his penis to penetrate a woman vaginally, orally, or anally. Nowadays, every man’s touch, look, or verbal bullying is included in the definition of sexual assault, at least on college campuses. In this way, women can claim (and the Democrat party can campaign on) the canard that 1/5 of women on campus will be sexually assaulted.

Relying on the feminists’ own definition of sexual assault, Glenn Reynolds makes the compelling and convincing argument — supported by data — that women commit sexual assault every bit as often as men do. I believe this completely. If you read the trashy but informative Daily Mail on a regular basis, as I do, you’ll quickly discover that several times a week, and sometimes every day, there’s a story somewhere in America about a female school teacher forcing a sexual relationship on an underage male (or, sometimes, female) student. One comes away feeling that America’s students are taught by an army of nymphomaniacs.

Step back, puny mortals, and let the wind take over

One of the problems I’ve always had with the whole climate change theory is the centrality it gives humans. Humans have indeed shown themselves perfectly capable of trashing the local environment. From prehistoric man driving mammoths to extinction, to the Aztecs destroying every bit of protein in their region (hence the need for human sacrifices, which were later eaten), to the Soviets turning lakes into acid puddles, to American manufacturers doing their damndest to destroy our own lakes (until capitalism saved them), to the California Gold Rush stripping off sides of mountains, we are a destructive species. But there’s a quantum difference between making a terrible, and too often lasting, mess here and there, and altering the entire climate around the world, all the way until we touch outer space. That simply didn’t (and doesn’t) make sense to me.

What makes a lot more sense is a new theory that says that shifting wind patterns account for the changing climate along the Northwest. I find it especially intriguing giving the close connection between wind and sun (and I’m not just talking Aesop’s fables here).

I’m glad the New York Times had the integrity to report on this new climate theory, but I had to laugh at the opening sentence (emphasis mine):

A new and most likely controversial analysis of Pacific Ocean weather patterns concludes that a century-long trend of rising temperatures in the American Northwest is largely explained by natural shifts in ocean winds, not by human activity.

It must have choked the writer, Michael Wines, to concede in the next paragraph that the theory didn’t arise from the fetid swamps of whacked-out deniers but, instead, appeared in “the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences….” Oh, yeah!

America’s topmost colleges accept robots and turn out morons

Okay, I’m exaggerating for effect in that subtitle. There is no doubt that America’s top colleges get to take in America’s best and brightest students and that they turn out products with a certain sheen.  I contend, though, that these new graduates are actually more indoctrinated than educated, but that’s just my opinion.   Or maybe it isn’t….

While they do not say that America’s premier colleges are turning out mindless Leftist drones, two Ivy League instructors have come out lately to that in their pursuit of the best and brightest, these institutes of higher education are producing boring, timid robits who will not take any chances, thereby stifling their own brilliance.

At The New Republic, you can read William Deresiewicz’s Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League, which has been shared on Facebook more than 191,300 times.

And at First Things, you can read Michael J. Lewis’s Children Who Never Play, which picks up where Deresiewicz left off.

In bureaucracies, the perfect is the enemy of the good

I credit Philip K. Howard with helping me move from mindless Left-liberalism to thinking conservativism. His book The Death of Common Sense: How Law Is Suffocating America, which I read shortly after it was published in the early 1990s, was an eye-opener because it made me realize that government not only is not the answer but that it can never be the answer.  It took me another decade to complete my journey across the Rubicon, but I definitely couldn’t have done it without him.

Just recently, Howard authored a piece for The Atlantic explaining how the Stimulus got wasted, not because of any specific corruption, but because the money vanished into the bureaucratic crevices created by a million rules:

Modern government is organized on “clear law,” the false premise that by making laws detailed enough to take in all possible circumstances, we can avoid human error. And so over the last few decades, law has gotten ever more granular. But all that regulatory detail, like sediment in a harbor, makes it hard to get anywhere. The 1956 Interstate Highway Act was 29 pages and succeeded in getting 41,000 miles of roads built by 1970. The 2012 transportation bill was 584 pages, and years will pass before workers can start fixing many of those same roads. Health-care regulators have devised 140,000 reimbursement categories for Medicare—including 12 categories for bee stings and 21 categories for “spacecraft accidents.” This is the tip of a bureaucratic iceberg—administration consumes 30 percent of health-care costs.

And finally, some marvelous photographs and a joke

Nope, not my usual set of posters but, instead, links to two wonderful sites. The first explains why you won’t see Israeli women in burqas anytime soon, while the second is a panoramic photograph taken shortly after San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake. If you click on the image, you can zoom in to a specific spot; then, click again to zoom out.

Since I try to end on a laugh or uplifting note, here’s a delightful joke that a friend sent me (slight language warning), clearly in honor of Ezekiel Emanuel’s announcement that he, and everyone else, should try to die by or before age 75:

I recently picked a new primary care doctor. After two visits and exhaustive lab tests, she said I was doing fairly well for my age. (I am past seventy-five). A little concerned about that comment, I couldn’t resist asking her, ‘Do you think I’ll live to be 80?’

She asked, ‘Do you smoke tobacco, or drink beer, wine or hard liquor?’

‘Oh no,’ I replied. I’m not doing drugs, either!’

Then she asked, ‘Do you eat rib-eye steaks and barbecued ribs?’ ‘I said, ‘Not much … My former doctor said that all red meat is very unhealthy!’

‘Do you spend a lot of time in the sun, like playing golf, boating, sailing, hiking, or bicycling?’

‘No, I don’t,’ I said.

She asked, ‘Do you gamble, drive fast cars, or have a lot of sex?’

‘No,’ I said.

She looked at me and said, ‘Then, why do you even give a shit?’

What blight has fallen on Hispanic kids that keeps too many of them from succeeding?

Hispanic gardenersHere in Marin, children grow up in very politically correct homes.  It would be the rare household in which kids here racist comments from their parents.  Also, here in Marin, kids grow up with Hispanic housekeepers and gardeners, most of whom have an incredible work ethic.  They show up, and they work long, well, and hard.  They are admirable.

But here’s something funny:  I listen to the kids, and what I pick up from them is that, at their public schools, the Hispanic kids are seen as second class.  This isn’t because they’re Hispanic, it’s because they have two qualities the kids in my community disdain:  they’re disproportionately represented amongst the academically lazy and stoner kids.

Think about how peculiar this is:  In the 20th century, most of America’s middle class came, not from the immigrants, but from the immigrants’ children.  The children were born into the migrant slums and saw their parents working like dogs just to get back.  To get out of that poverty and to relieve their parents terrible burden, these children studied hard, if they had access to education, and worked like dogs to raise themselves out of the ghettos.  That held true for Irish, Russians, Italians, Asians, old-time Hispanics, etc.

But something toxic apparently happened to too many in this current generation of Hispanic children.  They live in lousy neighborhoods, their parents and older, Latin-American-born siblings have a superior work ethic and, between wanting to escape the former and being able to emulate the latter, they should be precisely like those Asian “model minorities.”  But the opposite is true.  Too many of them have neither ambition nor discipline.

Any theories?  This is not a race issue.  This is a generational thing, with the children being the mirror image of what immigrant children used to be.

Monday evening round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesIf you read only one thing today (and tomorrow too), I think you should read Sam Harris’s “Why Don’t I Criticize Israel?” In it, Harris, who is renowned for his very well-articulated atheism, explains that one doesn’t have to believe in Israel’s religious right to the land in order to support her in the current war with Hamas.

The article is very dense, but never boring or confusing. Harris methodically works his way through the case for Israel. He’s not a starry-eyed Israel fan. He is, instead, a realist who feels that any moral compass, atheist or religious, must come down on the side that values human life, rather than the one that destroys it.

To whet your appetite, here’s just one very small segment of his entire article:

The truth is that everything you need to know about the moral imbalance between Israel and her enemies can be understood on the topic of human shields. Who uses human shields? Well, Hamas certainly does. They shoot their rockets from residential neighborhoods, from beside schools, and hospitals, and mosques. Muslims in other recent conflicts, in Iraq and elsewhere, have also used human shields. They have laid their rifles on the shoulders of their own children and shot from behind their bodies.

Consider the moral difference between using human shields and being deterred by them. That is the difference we’re talking about. The Israelis and other Western powers are deterred, however imperfectly, by the Muslim use of human shields in these conflicts, as we should be. It is morally abhorrent to kill noncombatants if you can avoid it. It’s certainly abhorrent to shoot through the bodies of children to get at your adversary. But take a moment to reflect on how contemptible this behavior is. And understand how cynical it is. The Muslims are acting on the assumption—the knowledge, in fact—that the infidels with whom they fight, the very people whom their religion does nothing but vilify, will be deterred by their use of Muslim human shields. They consider the Jews the spawn of apes and pigs—and yet they rely on the fact that they don’t want to kill Muslim noncombatants. [Note: The term “Muslims” in this paragraph means “Muslim combatants” of the sort that Western forces have encountered in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. The term “jihadists” would have been too narrow, but I was not suggesting that all Muslims support the use of human shields or are anti-Semitic, at war with the West, etc.]

Once you’ve read the whole thing, please share it with everyone. It deserves to make the rounds.

** 2 **

Hamas is so determined to win the war against Israel by having the tallest pile of dead bodies that it physically beats people who try to evacuate buildings after receiving Israel’s humanitarian warnings that it will be bombing the buildings. And that, of course, is precisely Sam Harris’s point.

** 3 **

As a writer, one of the most incredibly flattering things that can happen is when someone you really respect takes one of your ideas and runs with it. That’s what happened when Neo-Neocon read my post about John Kerry’s history repeating itself. I don’t want to give anything away. Just go and read what she has to say, making my original germ of an idea much richer and more meaningful.

** 4 **

What is that saying about the Left corrupting all institutions over time?  I forget the exact words, but that’s precisely what happened to George H.W. Bush’s Thousand Points of Light charity. From being an innocuous charity, it’s managed to go from the ridiculous (funding gay and lesbian bands all over the world) to the malignant (funding organizations with Islamic terrorist ties).

That the Left would co-opt an organization in this way isn’t news. What is news is that Sen. Sam Nunn’s daughter, Michelle, was CEO during the charity’s transition from charitable to Leftist political. She’s now running for the Senate in Georgia (as a Democrat, natch). She’s trailing the Republican candidate, but the election would be safer if she were trailing even more — and this story should be the nail in her campaign’s coffin.

** 6 **

What unites Americans? Floods of illegal aliens crossing the United States’ southern border. They don’t like it. They really don’t like it.

Not that this will deter Obama. He views amnesty as a convenient red flag he can wave before Republicans in the hope that they will seek to impeach him, rousing Democrats from their demoralized torpor and swinging the 2014 election in Obama’s favor.

Think about this: Our president, who swore to obey the Constitution, is deliberately violating it, at great cost to our nation, so as to achieve two goals: (1) Creating a Democrat demographic wave by wiping out our southern border and (2) tempting Republicans into a politically fatal maneuver.

For Obama, it’s a win any way he looks at it, and for Republicans and other American loving people, all outcomes are disastrous. (And yes, executive orders can easily be overruled, but do you see anyone having the political will to deport all 5 million newly amnestied illegals, including the hundreds of thousands of recent arrivals?)

** 6 **

We entered into a 40-year-long war on poverty, and poverty won.

** 7 **

I cannot think of a more appalling attack on the integrity of a judicial system than a judge having an affair with the wife in a divorce case over which he is presiding. The husband, unsurprisingly, would like to see the judge in court, only this time with the judge sitting at the defendant’s table. Sadly, thanks to judicial immunity, that won’t be happening.  Wade McCree, Jr., is out of a job, but he gets to keep his money.

Long-time readers know that, having come of age as a lawyer in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Leftist judges infest the bench, I have almost no respect for judges. In my career, I’ve probably come across three whom I respect, one of whom is a long-time friend I respected before she became a judge.

In a system governed by the rule of law, we definitely need judges.  But we need a very specific type of judge:  Someone who recognize the rule of law, not the rule of Leftist navel-gazing and self-indulgent emotional masturbation.

** 8 **

Human rights doesn't extend to Israel

History condemned

Behind Israel 100

Voter ID laws cannot be racist

Spoiled dogs

I think it’s Photo shopped, but I love it anyway

Open thread — the illustrated edition

Thought-Bubble-White-Board_8296556Not to make you feel less fortunate than I am or anything, but I won’t be blogging for a few hours today because I’m going to hear Daniel Hannan speak!! Even better, I’ll be going with Charles Martel. Yay!

While I’m gone, please consider this an Open Thread. I can suggest a few topics, and I’ve got lots of posters to spur you on regarding Israel’s latest fight for survival:

1. Are the tunnels that Hamas has dug into Israeli territory a game-changer in terms of Israel’s commitment to a long war?

2. Is Obama going to get a way with erasing the border between the United States and Mexico?

3. If you had the ability to act today to change that border situation, what would you do?

4. Are Europeans going to look at the anti-Israel riots in their cities and learn that they’ve nurtured a Muslim viper in their bosom?

5.  Has the UN finally gone too far?

6. Any cheerful news to report?

And now the pictures. First, one to lighten the mood:

Dog day in court

And second, a bunch from Israel. If you use social media, please think about sharing them. This is the first war in which Israel and pro-Israel NGOs are fighting back, not just on the field and in state houses, but in social media. We’re soldiers in this battle too and, if we support Israel, should help out:

Who protects the children

Hamas human shield

Terrorist tunnels under your street

Hamas ambulances

UN supports Hamas with rockets

This one reduced me to sputtering incoherence

I’ve had about 5 minutes at my computer all day long, time that included checking out my friends’ Facebook pages. While waiting for a sales person, I caught this one which, as I noted in the post caption, reduced me to sputtering incoherence. Yes, this is the new meme: If you don’t think our borders should be overrun by illegal aliens, you’re un-Christian:

Republican Christians

I still don’t have time to write, and I can’t think of a short, intelligent, non-defensive, expose-the-stupidity comeback. Help?

Thinking about it, maybe there is no comeback. Maybe when you’re dealing with a world view that enthusiastically applauds having the border overrun with a hundreds of thousands of unattended children, criminals, and possible terrorists, many of whom are carrying diseases ranging from the unpleasant to the terribly dangerous, there is nothing anyone can say to counter a poster that says it’s un-Christian to want to return these people to their own lands.

The question about illegal immigrants that people should be asking

Joe Biden, whose sole virtue seems to be the fact that, just occasionally, he opens his mouth and offers a clear insight into the Obama administration, had this to say about illegal immigrants:

You know, 11 million people live in the shadows. I believe they’re already American citizens. These people are just waiting, waiting for a chance to contribute fully. And by that standard, 11 million undocumented aliens are already Americans, in my view.

In response to which one of my friends asked the obvious follow-up question: “If 11 million undocumented migrants are already American why do they all wave Mexican flags around?

You mean like this, from a rally in Los Angeles?

mexican-flag-flying-above-upside-down-american-flag

Or this, from a rally in San Francisco?

Mexican flag at immigration rally

Or this, again from Los Angeles?

Immigration rally with Mexican flag in LA

Yup, clearly already American citizens. After all, it’s the American citizens who won’t even stand for their own flag.

Government agents must avert their eyes from potential Islamic terrorists

The-9.11-terrorists

The surprisingly Muslim 9/11 terrorists.

If America survives long enough for historians to write books about this period in her history, surely Eric Holder’s recent directive (issued in response to pressure from Democrats), holding that federal agents may not consider Islam as a factor in terrorism or Latinos as the most likely illegal immigrants will surely rank as Exhibit A in the decline of a once great nation:

The Justice Department will significantly expand its definition of racial profiling to prohibit federal agents from considering religion, national origin, gender and sexual orientation in their investigations, a government official said Wednesday.

The move addresses a decade of criticism from civil rights groups that say federal authorities have in particular singled out Muslims in counterterrorism investigations and Latinos for immigration investigations.

The Bush administration banned profiling in 2003, but with two caveats: It did not apply to national security cases, and it covered only race, not religion, ancestry or other factors.

I agree completely that not all Muslims are terrorists, just as only an idiot would claim that the only illegal immigrants are Hispanics.  To focus only on those two groups, without reference to any other potential terrorists or illegal immigrants is foolhardy.  (Although I’m unclear about the whole illegal immigrant thing anyway, considering that Obama is already violating the law — without Republican push-back — by refusing to enforce immigration laws.)  Still, one would have to be equally idiotic to pretend that the vast majority of terrorist attacks don’t involve Muslims and that the greatest number of illegal immigrants don’t come from South of the Border.

UC Berkeley student government announces that the phrase “illegal immigrant” is banned *UPDATED*

One wonders how many of the jubilant Berkeley students who bought into 1964's Free Speech Movement would be shocked by today's censorship.  My guess is "none."  It was always about Leftist re-education.

One wonders how many of those neatly attired and jubilant Berkeley students who bought into 1964’s Free Speech Movement would be shocked by today’s censorship. My guess is “none.” It was always about Leftist re-education.

The People’s Republic of Berkeley or, as it’s more commonly known, the University of California, Berkeley, has stayed true to its core Orwellian Leftism by banning language. Today’s targeted “bad thinking” is the phrase “illegal immigrant.” According to the censors occupying Berkeley’s student government, that phrase is “racially charged,” “dehumanizes” people, and contributes to “punitive and discriminatory actions aimed primarily at immigrants and communities of color.” Apparently the truth hurts.

The resolution, of course, carried with the usual Soviet style unanimity: 18 voted “yes” to censor thought and language, while one student abstained. (More on that single abstention later.)

Actually, the ultra-Left Berkeley was late to the party on this one, but that’s only because the University of California in Los Angeles has a much higher population of illegal immigrant students. That’s almost certainly why UCLA passed a similar resolution in August, while Berzerkley didn’t get around to it until November.

The resolution is a beautiful example of Orwellian speech. It leads with pure academese nonsense: “The ‘I’ word is legally inaccurate since being out of status is a civil rather than criminal infraction.” You’ll note that the “I” word (and we’re not sure whether the “I” word is “illegal” or “immigrant”) is now so tainted that I t’s been elevated to the status of the infamous “N” word. (For those of you too young to remember the OJ Simpson trial, or those who just dislike censorship, the “N” word is “nigger.” It’s a nasty, mean-spirited word, but nobody has ever dropped dead spontaneously from hearing or reading it.)

That nonsense phrase is just a warm-up for the Orwellian language changes the students propose:

“No human being is illegal. ‘Foreign nationals,’ ‘undocumented immigrants,’ ‘immigrants without papers’ and ‘immigrants seeking status’ are examples of terms we can use that do not dehumanize people.

You can use all the metaphors you like, dear little UC Berkeley soviets, but the fact remains that, to the extent these people are in America in an undocumented way without papers, it’s because they broke the law by sneaking over the border like thieves in the nights. In other words, adjectively, they’re immigrants who are here illegally, which makes them – yes, wait for it — ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS.

The problem, of course, isn’t the words. It’s the behavior. You can dress mutton up as lamb, but it’s still mutton. And someone who sneaked over the border in violation of our nation’s laws is still illegal no matter how frilly the words you drape around that person.

Of course, the commissars at Berkeley can’t just stop with a stupid resolution. What’s Soviet-style censorship and shaming without communist-style re-education? To that end, the resolution also calls for administrators and faculty to attend an “UndocuAlly training workshop.”

Considering that greater than 90% of Berkeley’s administrators and faculty members are the ones who trained these junior Leftists, it’s actually funny to hear the students demand that their mentors need re-education. Of course, that’s the way it happened in China too, when the younger generation decided that the elders who ushered in Communism showed inadequate fervor in their commitment to the monster they had created. It was these radicalized students who ushered in Mao’s “Great Leap Forward,” complete with 50-70 million dead Chinese citizens – all of whom no doubt starved to death joyfully thanks to their contribution to the great communist cause.

As for the sole abstention, it’s worth noting that he’s probably ready for re-education too. Student senator Solomon Nwoche agrees in principle with the resolution, but thought it was a waste of time. That shows practical intelligence. His real sin, though, was in his sneaking respect for freedom of speech and the marketplace of ideas. He was disappointed, he said, that, when a single person tried to speak out against the resolution, the student senators laughed at him or, even more disgustingly, turned their backs to him.

(A slightly modified version of this post first appeared at Mr. Conservative.)

UPDATE:  I should add here that I agree that America’s immigration laws are dreadful.  Having said that, it’s up to America to change her laws, not for illegal immigrants to change them by ignoring them.  (Well, in theory that’s the case.  In fact, the Obama administration is also changing them by ignoring them.)  We also should start putting pressure on Mexico.  Immigrants come here illegally because Mexico is so shamefully corrupt and poorly run that a country rich in resources, but natural and human, is mired in poverty, and because Mexico charges its citizens such heinous amounts to allow them to leave the country legally that poor are stymied both by America’s laws and by Mexico’s.  A fix is a good thing; disrespect for our country’s borders and laws is a disastrous thing, going to the sovereign integrity of our nation and her citizens.

Trey Gowdy promises not to let Lucy Democrats hold the football

In my earlier post today, I said that, in the wake of the lies the Gang of Eight told, followed by the Senate’s passage of a 1,200 page immigration bill that will go a long way to destroying the American working class, the Republicans have tearfully promised never to be fooled again.  I doubt that promise.  I likened them to the Charlie Brown scenario where he always believes that, this time, Lucy won’t pull the football.  Having said that, I see that Trey Gowdy, a smart R from South Carolina, isn’t fooled.  Maybe he can educate his fellow Rs. Plus, I like his sarcasm:

And a short anecdote regarding Gowdy’s monicker of “Trey.” When I arrived in Texas, I was overwhelmed by the number of guys I met who were named Trey. What an unusual name, I said. I’ve never heard it outside the South. My friends had a good laugh at my expense when they explained that Trey was a nickname for a guy who boasted the number III after his name (as in, he shared his name with both his grandfather and his father).

Why the House needs to stop the immigration bill

With the RINOs in Congress falling into neat sheeple ranks to vote for the immigration bill, Susan Berry points to an appalling fact about the bill that ought to be shouted from the rooftops:  when it’s combined with ObamaCare, it gives employers an incentive to fire full-time American employees and replace them with amnestied illegals:

Under the Gang of 8’s backroom immigration deal with Senators Schumer, Corker and Hoeven, formerly illegal immigrants who are amnestied will be eligible to work, but will not be eligible for ObamaCare. Employers who would be required to pay as much as a $3,000 penalty for most employees who receive an ObamaCare healthcare “exchange” subsidy, would not have to pay the penalty if they hire amnestied immigrants.

Consequently, employers would have a significant incentive to hire or retain amnestied immigrants, rather than current citizens, including those who have recently achieved citizenship via the current naturalization process.

“Help us, Obi Wan House Republicans!  You’re our only hope.”  Since we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t, how about if we don’t vote for another massive, poisonous monstrosity?

The Democrats’ attacks on free speech on their approach to the immigration bill demonstrate what good strategists they are.

Democrats are very organized.  I’m not just talking about their ability to whip up a rally at a moment’s notice or to elect a President with the help of a substantial voter fraud and government chicanery.  (I’m referring to the IRS scandal.)  Those were just the visible signs of Democrat organization.  As Mitch McConnell explained in a speech he delivered at the American Enterprise Institute, the Democrat effort to squelch conservative free speech goes back many years and does indeed start with Obama — but not quite in the way you’d expect.

I have to admit that I’m not usually very good at reading the transcripts from long speeches, but this was riveting.  McConnell reminds us that, when Democrats speak or act, there are no coincidences.  They are the well-ordered, always-got-a-plan crowd, while Republicans just muddle through, batting at balls as they come their way.

Whenever I look at the difference between Republicans and Democrats, I’m reminded of the Germans and the British in World War I.  The Germans, either because they realized early that trench warfare would last a long time, or because they were simply more meticulous, built trenches that were things of beauty:  deep, secure, and comfortable (given the limits on long ditches in the ground in the middle of battlefields).  The British, by contrast, simply dug slap dash holes in the ground, and then made do with them for the next several years.  The men had no protection from the elements, and simply wallowed in louse-ridden mud and filth for years.  That the British prevailed was due to the resources of her Empire, the quality of her fighters, and the fact that America came in and finished the war for her.

When it comes to organization versus chaos, it’s no coincidence that the Senate is set to pass another 1,200 page monstrosity that no one has read, this time on immigration.  The Democrats know precisely what’s in it and they do not want anybody to read it.  If the public finds out what Democrats know, they’d be screaming to the rooftops.  As it is, they’re supine as a bill that destroys American sovereignty and remakes her population (without any citizen input) is rushed into law.

My suspicion is that the Senate Dems actually don’t care if the House stops the bill.  In that event, all they have to do is scream that the Republicans are racist immigration enemies.  The fact that the bill is a disaster that no one should pass is irrelevant.  Since no one knows what’s in it, the Dems and their media can simply set the narrative.

In other words, it’s a win-win for Dems:  either they get a bill that turns us into a permanent low-income, welfare economy or they get to call Republicans racists.  And, with all the aplomb of the British in WWI, the Republicans will stand there shell-shocked, unable to figure out what hit them.

If you go below the fold, I’ve included McConnell’s entire speech here.  You’ll see that McConnell is trying to arouse Republicans and conservatives to intelligent efficiency.  Good luck to him!

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