The Bookworm Beat 12-17-15 — the “speed writing” edition

Woman-writing-300x265Are you familiar with speed chess? I learned about it when I was at Cal. Since I worked at the Bancroft Library, I had access to an employee break room. Every day at lunch, two men would sit there, chess board in front of them, timer at their side, and make lightning swift moves, wrapping up a single game in minutes, not hours. What I’m going for here is speed blogging. I’ve got more than 20 links, and I’m going to try to share them with you in less than half an hour of writing. Here goes….

In 2006, Thomas Lifson wrote what I think is one of the best political articles ever.  In it, he explained that there are two seasons in American politics — Attention Season and Inattention Season.  The former has a remarkable way of concentrating American minds.  Right now, with the election nearing and terrorism within our borders again, Americans are starting to shift from Inattention to Attention.  I suspect this will change the polling dynamics substantially in the next few weeks.

Trump is the bad boy of this political season, by which I mean that he’s the cool guy in the leather jacket that all the girls want to date and to domesticate. Eventually, though, the girls discover that a bad boy may have a James Dean charm about him, but he’s still bad, meaning he’s bad for the girl (and he’s equally bad for the guys who want to run with his pack).  Kurt Schlichter perfectly articulates why  Donald Trump is one of those bad boys, and explains that he’s going to be a heart breaker for those conservatives who think that this lifelong Democrat is someone to hold on to during trying times.  Rubio and Cruz are probably the best choice for the nice steady boys who will come in and save the day.

If you’d like a short but deep run-down of the last Republican debate, and one with which I happen to agree, check out Seraphic Secret’s post about the debate.

Millennials are not the next greatest generation:  they want to see American troops defeat ISIS; they just don’t want to be among the troops doing the defeating.  Having said that, I’m in no position to sneer.  I am an armchair warrior at best and a coward at worst, and have always been incredibly grateful that there are men and women who are willing to do the necessary fighting that I’m scared to do.

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The Bookworm Beat 12-12-15 — the “hopeful pessimist” open thread

Woman-writing-300x265[This is a long one, good for a cozy read on a winter day.]

I’m a pessimist. I’ve learned through experience that most things go wrong, whether in the world or in my life. Still, I never completely lose hope. If I didn’t have hope, frankly, I would stop moving entirely.

Despite the knowledge that my best laid plans will gang [mostly] aft agley, I wake up every morning with slightly more than half my brain saying “this time the good thing will happen,” and slightly less than half warning “you know it won’t.” The first part gets me out of bed with the sun, the second part gives me insomnia with the moon.

Anyway, that oxymoronic attitude infuses my blog. I’m never surprised when I read about Progressive perfidy, Islamist terrorism, or human stupidity and cruelty, but I always think, maybe something will change . . . maybe it will be better. And on that note, I offer you a cornucopia of things, both old and new, that acknowledge the bad, but perhaps hold out hope for the good.

If Imam Obama doesn’t speak for sharia, who does?

Obama, whose resume does not include either professional or amateur level knowledge about Islam, nevertheless is very keen to tell us each time there’s an Islamic terror attack anywhere in the world that the perpetrators are un-Islamic and do not speak for Islam. Rather than confound Obama with complicated doctrinal questions, Roger Kimball asks one very important one: So Who Does Speak for Islam, President Obama? Kimball even offers a few suggested answers to that question:

Saudi Arabia? It is the world’s most important Sunni Muslim state. One of the most ghastly things about ISIS is its followers’ penchant for beheading people, yet in 2015 alone, our “ally” Saudi Arabia has beheaded 151 people. I am surprised the number is not higher; the list of things that are capital offenses in Saudi Arabia is long and varied.

Apostasy makes the list. If you decide that Allah is not for you, it’s off with your head.

Want a glass of wine? Think twice. The consumption of intoxicants is on the list, as is consensual homosexual sex, adultery, and “sorcery or witchcraft.”

So, presumably, Obama would not let Saudi Arabia speak for Islam.

How about the world’s largest Shia state, Iran? Does it speak for Islam? If not, why not? Because it is just as much a barbaric cesspool as Saudi Arabia?

You see how it’s going to proceed. Last night, Barack Obama was at pains to distance us from “those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.” Well, with that statement Obama forbids the majority of the world’s Muslims, including the denizens of Islam’s chief states, from speaking for Islam.

Let’s forget conquest and terror: there are millions of folks who call themselves Muslims, yet want nothing to do with jihadist violence. Do they speak for Islam?

Well, if they affirm Sharia — Islamic law — then they cannot in principle affirm “the values of religious tolerance,” etc., so Obama does not allow these Muslims to speak for Islam, either.

Using Trump’s statements about Muslim immigration as the first step in an intelligent immigration plan

If Donald Trump were an artist, he would not be a delicate miniaturist or a meticulous late-medieval Flemish craftsman. Instead, he would be Jackson Pollock or possibly Jeff Koons. He’s creating something all right, but there’s a destructive edge to his creative acts.

Thus, when Donald Trump announced, less than tactfully, that all Muslim immigration ought to step pending Congress’s ability to figure out what’s going on with Muslim immigrants (both ordinary and refugee), he created an immediate furor. There was that the destructive part of his creativity.  But Trump also said something that needs to be said, which is that the American government fails in its obligation to protect Americans against enemies both foreign and domestic when it willingly lets foreign enemies turn into domestic ones.

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The Bookworm Beat 12-10-15 — the “Islamic terrorism” edition *UPDATED*

Woman-writing-300x265A few words about Donald Trump’s campaign success

Donald Trump is the ordinary American’s id. The id, of course, is our most basic intelligence, the one that gives us the atavistic reflexes that recognize danger and act on it to stay alive.

Trump has cut through the political correctness that prevented all politicians, including Republican ones, from speaking the cold, hard truth: Muslims are a problem. While we know that not all Muslims are a problem, until we figure out a way to separate wheat from chaff, we are insane to invite them in without limitations.

If you pay attention to what Trump said, as opposed to what the media says he said, Trump actually made a sensible suggestion, although framed in his typical inflammatory way: America needs to press the pause button on admitting Muslims until we can formulate a policy that’s aimed at separating bad (i.e., jihadist or otherwise fundamentalist Muslims) from good Muslims. Here, in his own words, with my emphasis added:

Donald Trump evoked outrage from across the political spectrum Monday by calling for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the U.S., a proposal that taps into voter anxiety about the recent spate of terrorist attacks yet likely runs afoul of religious freedoms enshrined in the Constitution. “It is obvious to anybody the hatred [among Muslims] is beyond comprehension,” Mr. Trump said. “Where this hatred comes from and why, we will have to determine. Until we are able to determine and understand this problem and the dangerous threat it poses, our country cannot be the victims of horrendous attacks by people that believe only in jihad, and have no sense of reason or respect for human life.” His campaign said he would keep the ban intact “until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” including the facts around the two attackers who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif., last week. Syed Rizwan Farook, a U.S. citizen, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, a legal immigrant who had a green card, were killed in a shootout with the police after the massacre.

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The Bookworm Beat 12-8-15 — the “fresh off the spindle” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265I did it again — I let my inbox get out of hand, so much so that I woke up this morning to discovery over a thousand unread emails in the email accounts for which I’m responsible. Going through them isn’t my favorite activity (too much guilt about emails I inadvertently ignored and too much stress about decisions I have to make), but I do find lovely links and comments that I view as buried treasure. This round-up, therefore, is a treasure-hunt edition.

Yo, Obama! History hasn’t happened yet.

I great disliked Obama’s oval office address. One of the lines that irritated me most was this one: “My fellow Americans, I am confident we will succeed in this mission because we are on the right side of history.”

History, of course, refers to the past. Obama is using a nonexistent historical reference point to predict the future, and then using this prediction to justify inaction. (This is very similar, of course, to the whole “climate science” joke, which uses falsified historical data and computer programs that cannot factor in all future possibilities to predict the climate future, and then takes this Garbage-In/Garbage-Out data to justify costly action.)

Some months ago, my friend Patrick O’Hannigan sent me a post he’d written about the way in which the Left misuses the concept of history. It seems singularly on point now that the President has used a hypothetical future history to justify his passivity when faced with one of the most consequential, and existential issues of our time:

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Obama’s speech highlights why it’s hard to have an intelligent political debate with Progressives

Obama oval office address 12-6-15I found myself in conversation today with a Progressive who thought that Obama’s oval office address was just wonderful.

“What did you like about it?” I asked him.

“It was a very mature speech,” the Progressive replied, “and he said what I would have said.”

Of course I asked, “What would you have said that he did say?”

“That we’re doing everything we can against ISIL, but that almost a quarter of the world’s population is Muslim and they’re not all our enemies.”

“That’s it? That’s what you got out of the speech?”

“Yeah, it was really good. I bet you hated it.”

“Well, yes I did hate it.”

And then I was off. I detailed the problems with Obama’s affect — flat in the beginning when he had to concede that this was terrorism (although Obama hastened to add that it wasn’t really Islamic and Neo-Neocon thinks he may not even have said it was terrorism), and hectoring in the end when he scolded Americans about their prejudice, which they’ve never acted upon, and their guns which . . . well, let’s just say that Obama doesn’t want to see another Texas happen:

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[VIDEO] When it comes to Progressives and terrorism, some things never change

This video is from 2007, when George “Islam is a religion of peace” Bush was still President, but it could have been created yesterday, and been just as accurate. Indeed, in light of Obama’s frantic efforts Sunday night to avoid placing the word “Islam” anywhere near the word “terrorism,” the video is probably even more pertinent today than it was then:

Obama’s oval address, sadly, contains no surprises

Obama oval office address 12-6-15One doesn’t have to be psychic to predict what Obama will say. It’s always the same old Leftist pabulum. Although finally forced to acknowledge that the San Bernardino attack was terrorism, he worked desperately hard to stick to that old “lone wolf” narrative. (I won’t repeat my take on the “lone wolf” issue. Instead, if you want, you can read it here.)

While the FBI is “still gathering the facts about what happened” in the attack on a county holiday party at the Inland Regional Center by Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, Obama said that “so far we have no evidence that the killers were directed by a terrorist organization overseas or that they were part of a broader conspiracy here at home.”

“But it is clear that the two of them had gone down the dark path of radicalization, embracing a perverted interpretation of Islam that calls for war against America and the West. They had stockpiled assault weapons, ammunition, and pipe bombs,” he said. “So this was an act of terrorism designed to kill innocent people.”

Please note, too, how Obama worked hard when he discussed San Bernardino to keep the words “Islam” or “Muslim” from appearing anywhere in connection with “terrorist” or “terrorism.” God forbid the two should be conflated. You can see the same pattern when he finally acknowledged other, prior Islamic terrorist acts:

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To the extent that there is increasing anti-Muslim feeling in America, I blame Obama and the Democrats

648x415_syed-farook-tashfeen-malik-deux-tueurs-san-bernardinoAlthough we’re hearing a lot from Muslims claiming to be worried about potential anti-Muslim feeling in America, the reality is that their worries are inchoate fears that aren’t grounded in real life experiences.  Indeed, John Hinderaker points out that despite fourteen years of Muslim-related fears, the vast majority of Americans have managed to restrain their alleged Islamophobia:

The FBI’s latest statistics, for 2014, show a total of 1,140 religion-based hate crimes in the U.S. Only 16% (182) were directed against Muslims, about one for every 44,000 Muslims living in the U.S.

Actually, Muslims are more likely to perpetrate hate crimes than to be victimized by them. In 2014, more than half of the religion-based hate crimes–58%–were directed against Jews, and in many instances were perpetrated by Muslims.

I will admit, though, that if I’m to judge by my own Facebook page, which is knee-deep in Progressives, more and more Americans, however unwillingly, are beginning to connect the dots between Islam and terrorism.  Again, they’re not frothing at the mouth with undifferentiated Muslim hatred. Instead, they’re doing what I usually do, which is to distinguish between radicals and everyone else.  Still, they’re finally figuring out that Islam has a problem.

Meanwhile, our President, his party, and his media (let’s not pretend that Obama doesn’t own the mainstream media) continue to deny a connection between Islam and terrorism.  That may change when Obama speaks tonight, although many suspect that the President will use tonight’s speech not only to downplay the Islamic connection to terrorism, but also to try another gun grab.

If, as I suspect, Obama doesn’t change his tune but, instead, continues to pretend that Islam and terrorism are entirely related, I blame him for any future and actual Islamophobia in this country.  Obama has created a leadership vacuum that the American people, who are rightfully fearful that ISIS is in our borders and gaining new recruits from among Syrian refugees, will fill.  And when the masses fill a vacuum, they often do so in crude, mob-like ways.

Obama would protect American Muslims much better if he’d acknowledge the problem with radical Islam and give Americans a detailed plan for dealing with that problem — one that includes requiring the American Muslim community to work with law enforcement to expose and expel the terrorists among them.  Americans then wouldn’t feel that, if they want to protect their lives and liberty, they’re going to have to take Islam on themselves.

Think of it this way:  Obama is the pilot of the plane called America.  We, the People, are the passengers.  We can’t see the captain, but his periodic announcements tell us that he’s up there in the cockpit.  Suddenly, we become aware of a disturbance on the plane.  We look anxiously at the speakers above our heads, waiting for Captain Obama to tell us what’s wrong and how he’s going to fix it.  Instead, we get either silence or a bizarre rant from the cockpit about the bright sunlight outside the plane.

Now imagine you’re on the plane:  Given that your captain has just shown himself to be either absent or insane in the face of a clear and present danger, are you going to continue to sit peacefully in your seat hoping for the best, or are you going to unbuckle your seat belt, search for anything that can possibly be used as a weapon, and go to face the problem yourself?

Captain Obama is failing in his job.  If the American people step up to do what he won’t, and if he doesn’t like how the American people handle the job, he has only himself to blame.

The Bookworm Beat 12-3-15 — the mini round-up and illustrated edition

Woman-writing-300x265I’ve come across a few fascinating and delightful things and am tossing into this Bookworm Beat both posts and pictures:

A study about Palestinian violence explains the “lone wolf” syndrome

Every time Muslims commit mass murder in America, our elites in the Obama administration and the media (but I repeat myself) tell us that it’s not jihad, it’s just a “lone wolf.” What these great Progressive thinkers mean, of course, is that the acts are not being committed by a member of a formal army, receiving orders from a central command. Their logic is that, if there’s no central command point, there’s no jihad; there are just a few wacky individuals who happened to be in touch with overseas terrorist masterminds, who were recognized by all as a devout Muslim (although this devotion was often of recent vintage), and who somehow managed to throw a few “Allahu Akbars” into the carnage.

Israel, of course, has lately had a plague of “lone wolf” “lone wolf attacks,” often by teens and women, none of whom are taking direct marching orders from command central in either Hamas or the PA. Daniel Polisar did a study about Palestinian violence against Jews and he distilled the results of his long-term study to examine the current “lone wolf,” knife-stabbing.  What Polisar discovered is that these “lone wolves” aren’t really alone at all.  That is, they’re not aberrant outliers.  Instead, they are reflecting the central tenets of their society and acting on the dominant paradigm in their community. In their world, it’s praiseworthy to kill Jews, both because Palestinian society at large says that Jews deserve to die and because the same society says that each Jewish death advances Palestinian social and political goals.

In other words, once a society has embraced a corrupt idea, “command central” is no longer necessary to take practical steps to advance that idea. Instead, each individual appoints himself as a soldier in a very real, albeit unstructured, army.

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The Bookworm Beat 11-29-15 — the “tidy office-tidy mind” edition

Woman-writing-300x265Inspired by Marie Kondo’s advice that true organization begins with throwing out everything that is neither useful nor sentimental, I am continuing to plow through every nook and cranny in my house. This is the first organization system that’s made sense to me, which is why I haven’t already given up and relapsed into my usual vaguely tidy-looking mess. My mind is also a vaguely tidy-looking mess, but  it’s still yielded these interesting links:

Ignore people who tell you Cruz is divisive and uncooperative

According to those rooting for candidates other than Ted Cruz, he’s an arrogant blowhard who won’t play well with others.  In fact, Cruz’s work history proves that the opposite is true:

At the FTC, Cruz’s agenda could have been written by Milton Friedman.

Cruz promoted economic liberty and fought government efforts to rig the marketplace in favor of special interests. Most notably, Cruz launched an initiative to study the government’s role in conspiring with established businesses to suppress e-commerce. This initiative ultimately led the U.S. Supreme Court to open up an entire industry to small e-tailers. Based on his early support of disruptive online companies, Cruz has some grounds to call himself the “Uber of American politics.”

Moreover, and perhaps surprising to some, Cruz sought and secured a broad, bipartisan consensus for his agenda. Almost all of Cruz’s initiatives received unanimous support among both Republicans and Democrats.

Ted Cruz a consensus-builder? He was, at the FTC.

Read the rest here.  Cruz has the chops to make the best kind of President:  True conservative values, love for America, phenomenal intelligence, and the ability to work and play well with others.

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Found it on Facebook : The logical fallacies in a popular Progressive poster

This poster is populating my Facebook feed, courtesy of the many Progressives I number among my real-me friends:

Statistics against ISIS

I find it a rather fascinating poster because of the underlying assumption that the items in the list are comparable in terms of either our ability to challenge these risks, the direction of the trend lines for the risks, or the long-term stability of each risk. Picking my way through the data made me think of another thing that’s making the rounds on my Facebook feed, which is a useful chart putting in one place the most common rhetorical fallacies.

When I look at the risks, my thoughts (aside from wanting to know the source of these statistics) are as follows:

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The Bookworm Beat 11-24-15 — the “a little help from my friends” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265My day has spiraled so wildly out of control, I despair of ever getting it back. Fortunately, a good friend who knows well how I think sent me an email that says much of what I would have said today if I’d had the time. So, here is the “Bookworm friends” edition:

On the subject of white guilt, let me paraphrase Alan Dershowitz who calls today’s tenured faculty the biggest wusses he’s seen in 50 years.  All of them are unable to respond to the outrageous demands and tactics of perpetual grievance groups, paralyzed by the white guilt.  What Dershowitz doesn’t say is that the victimization these groups are claiming as justification is nothing more or less than the tenured faculty has been trying for decades now to inculcate in them.  I think Mary Shelly wrote a cautionary tale about this . . .

Also, Bret Stephens places blame firmly where it belongs when it comes to those monstrous students — on their Progressive parents and faculty members, who are themselves the spawn of the Greatest Generation who, flush with winning the war and dominating the peace, forgot to parent.

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