The Bookworm Beat 5-2-15 — the “I’ve got things to say, dammit!” edition and open thread

Woman writingI spend so much of my life starting things, but never finishing them. Part of that is my core inefficiency and part of it is the fact that, although it goes sorely against my nature, my life is lived in the service of others. Even worse, those others aren’t interested in my having time to blog. Shame on them! They’ve been fed now, though, and should be pacified for a while. 😉

The registration form doesn’t require proof of life either

Everybody who’s surprised to learn that the Obama administration is trying to block any state efforts to require immigrants to prove citizenship when registering to vote, please raise your hands. Those with their hands raised, how have you managed to remain so naive after six Obama years?

A short rant about American blacks

Watching how the Democrats (led by whites, fueled by blacks) have destroyed cities across America, with special attention given to the destruction of America’s black communities, I have a rant:

“Fine, we, the white collective, screwed you. We screwed you 200 years ago, and 100 years ago, and 50 years, and last week. We seem incapable of not screwing you. So why do you keep looking to us for help? Look to yourselves. Fix your own communities because, according to you, whatever we touch, we turn to dross. The fact is, you can’t grow up until you cut the apron strings, especially because, by your own definition, your white American Mommy is toxic.”

Of course, once one says that, rather than the black community pulling itself up by its own bootstraps, all that happens is a renewed press for reparations.  But still, the reality in communities is exactly the same as it is when you sit in the therapist’s office and he intones (usually to your irritation), “Only you can help yourself.  You have to want to change.”

Good news: Arab young people are becoming surprisingly pro-Israel

During Operation Protective Edge last year, several pro-Israel Facebook groups started posting pictures of people’s hands (no faces). In one hand was a passport, with the cover showing the country of origin; on the other hand, the inked words “I support you Israel,” or something similar. An amazing number of those passports were from Muslim countries. The following article, therefore, wasn’t completely surprising, but it did make me smile:

It all began as a personal project by a young Israeli Arab who lives in northern Israel. He wanted to use social networking to convince other Israeli Arabs that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are not some “army of evil” and that its soldiers are not as bloodthirsty as they tend to be portrayed in Arab propaganda films. He soon learned, however, that in the digital age, there is no end to surprises. Instead of messages and responses from the Israeli Arab audience he was targeting, he began receiving messages of peace and love from young Arab men and women from across the Arab world.

Read the rest here. George Dubya may have been right about the yearning for freedom within the Muslim world — especially as they see ISIS’s depredations.

Socialism hasn’t served Scandinavia well

I’ve told you before about my polite remainders to a Scandinavian friend that his belief that his is a successful socialist country is a delusion. The money for socialism has come from American defense during the Cold War (“We’ll pay for your military so that you can socialize your medicine.”), while the Scandinavian collective (“Ja, ja! We agree about everything.”) means that they haven’t had to rely on the coercion that is the real socialist deal in governance. The end of the Cold War, combined with the influx of uncooperative Muslims into Scandinavian countries, is revealing what a big fake Scandinavian “socialism” always was.

It turns out that there’s a book expanding on what I’ve gathered just using a few news stories, some glowing PBS documentaries about Scandinavian wonders, a short visit to the Scandinavian countries, and some common sense: Michael Booth’s The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia. This is definitely a book I have to read.

A review at Reason gives you a taste of why I’ll like it — and a taste of how much worse the Scandinavian reality is than I ever realized:

The book, which has just been published in the U.S., is especially powerful in its dissection of the culturally corrosive effects of Scandinavia’s expansive state power, which seems to “smother its people’s motivation, ambition, and spirit.”

A full fifth of Danish adults don’t work and live exclusively on public benefits. Norwegian media is so deeply dull that one of its most popular television shows ever is—this is for real—a seven-hour real-time feed from a camera mounted on a train traversing mountains. Booth calls the prevailing Swedish political norms “benign totalitarianism.”


In other cultures, you have “tall poppy syndrome,” where if a reality star makes a record or buys a Lamborghini, they’ll get pilloried in the media. The difference in Scandinavia is that tall poppy syndrome applies to everyone all the time. So if you show naked ambition or arrogance, you will get cut down to size. “Don’t think you are that special, don’t show off, don’t boast.” No one wears a suit and tie in parliament. It’s extraordinary.

If you want an incredibly equal, socially cohesive society, you definitely lose something by way of individuality, eccentricity, diversity. Often I’m asked, “Could the Nordic template be applied to Britain or America?” And the answer is no. You can’t just hope that people will suddenly become conformist and driven by equality. It doesn’t work that way.

Media brings about its worst fear — guns for self-defense

The media, in its efforts to have Americans join its anti-gun fervor, has been plugging stories for several years telling people about America’s gun violence epidemic. Rather than making Americans insist that we ban guns, however, the opposite happened: more and more Americans decided to arm themselves. I think we call this a Massive Media Fail.

Free speech for me (if I’m antisemitic), but not for thee (if you’re pro-Israel) at Connecticut College

Professor Andrew Pessin, at Connecticut College, was branded a racist for daring to support Israel — with all the attendant stalking and harassment that comes with that label:

Professor Pessin is the latest casualty of what might be described as a “killer bee swarm” on the local and global internet. It took only one student, Lamiya Khandaker, who defamed Pessin in a student newspaper, to launch a university-wide and global campaign against Pessin defending last summer’s military campaign against the terrorist group Hamas by the Israeli government.

Pessin has been fighting a campaign to brand him as racist for his support of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014, based on a remark posted to Facebook in which he compared Hamas to ““a rabid pit bull is chained in a cage, regularly making mass efforts to escape.”

Khandaker’s use of certain key words and concepts regarding Pessin—“I feel unsafe as a Muslim;” there is “subtle institutional racism;” Pessin is a “racist” because he allegedly compared Palestinians to “rabid pit bulls”—all functioned as zeitgeist signals to a previously conditioned mob and they lit out after him.

Pessin began receiving hate mail and death threats following her allegations, and wasforced to take a medical leave due to the level of stress this incident placed on him.

In point of fact, and contrary to what Khandaker alleged, Pessin was referring to the terrorist Hamas leadership when he made the “pit bull” comment, not to Palestinian people.

You can sign the petition here (which is still stuck at a little fewer than 10,000 signatures).

Sexism rears its ugly head in attacks on female hunters

David Reeder noticed something interesting — the animal rights/anti-gun crowd is sexist, very, very sexist (language warning):

You can think what you want about hunting, that’s your prerogative. But when you conflate hunting with poaching, when your disapproval translates into misogyny, vile torrents of profanity and threats of violence, that just proves what many people think already: you’re a pretentious asshole. It certainly doesn’t do much for your credibility or strength of your argument either, but why let a little rational discourse get in the way of your most recent excuse to be outraged?

Here’s an idea! As long as you (and by you I mean any of the many thousands of people wishing hunters ill) are engaging in such smarmy tomfuckery, why don’t you go ahead and be even more outraged when it’s a pretty girl perpetrating such wanton carnage. It’s bad enough when a Mossy Oak-clad quinquagenarian harvests an animal, but God forbid it’s a hawt white girl with bewbs posing next to that hapless, slaughtered beast. She should be reviled publicly — in fact, let’s revoke her right to vote and stick her back in front of the stove while we’re at it.

Bloodthirsty sluts.

I’m not a fan of trophy hunting. It makes no sense to me to kill something if you’re not going to eat it. Having said that, it’s legal in many places and useful in many others, culling animals that would otherwise upset the balance in the ecosystem. And God knows, if I were going to attack it, I wouldn’t do so on sexist grounds.

More tomorrow….

Dutch symphony orchestra rejects Islam

Muhammed farve. tegning : KWThis is a story that I haven’t seen anywhere else, but there’s video, so it definitely seems to have happened three years ago in Holland. Only now, though, does the video seem to be gaining some traction. A Muslim symphony conductor, who seems to be a native Dutch speaker, when appearing in a performance before the Queen of Holland, felt called upon to lecture everyone about Islam’s beauty.  The symphony orchestra politely walked out.

Ironically, the conductor keeps saying, “There’s no bomb here.” Moreover, he was polite in manner, if not in context or content, so it didn’t appear that anyone was in imminent danger.  The symphony members, though, understood that there was indeed a bomb in that concert hall. Islam is a bomb.

(Incidentally, had the conductor rhapsodized about his faith in Jesus, that statement would have been equally misplaced, but no one would have mistaken it for a veiled demand that their culture come to an end.)

The Tunisia massacre — I once stood in that very spot

Mosaic in the Bardo Museum, Tunis

Mosaic in the Bardo Museum, Tunis

I was horrified to read about the massacre in Tunisia.  If you haven’t heard about it yet, here are some of the details:

Gunmen in military uniforms stormed Tunisia’s national museum, killing 17 foreign tourists and two Tunisians on Wednesday in one of the worst militant attacks in a country that has largely escaped the region’s “Arab Spring” turmoil.

Visitors from Italy, Germany, Poland and Spain were among the dead in the noon assault on the Bardo museum near parliament in central Tunis, Prime Minister Habib Essid said.

Security forces stormed the former palace around two hours later, killed two militants and freed other tourists held hostage inside, a government spokesman said. One policeman was killed in the police operation.


Television footage showed dozens of people, including elderly foreigners and one man carrying a child, running for shelter in the compound, covered by security forces aiming rifles into the air.

I’m always horrified, of course, when I read about Islamic massacres, but this one struck particularly close to home.  In August 2011, my family and I were on a cruise ship tour of Tunis which included the Bardo Museum.  I wrote about it then (emphasis added):

Speaking of girls, women have full legal rights in Tunisia. They can hold the same jobs (we saw a lot of female police officers), get equal pay for equal work, and divorce their husbands. Polygamy is illegal. Unsurprisingly, despite a Muslim majority, church and state are separate, and both Christians and Jews are allowed to worship freely.

It’s this secularism, I think, that explains the civility of Tunisia’s revolution. As best as I can tell, once the Tunisians got rid of the enormously corrupt ruling family (which secreted at least 25 billion dollars in offshore accounts), the Tunisian people had accomplished their goal. Right now, they’re awaiting October 23, when they have free elections. It might be a bit confusing, though, as they have 102 parties running!

Today, a mere half year after the revolution, Tunis seemed peaceful — indeed, somnolent, although that last impression may have come to me because of the punishing heat, which hovered around 110 degrees. The whole place is bleached white by the sun. The sky is white; the myriad low, boxy buildings are white; and even the dirt and dust are a pale tan.

The people we saw were friendly, pushy in a very Middle Eastern suk way, and desperate for their life’s blood– tourism. Because of the revolution, their tourist trade has collapsed, and many of them asked us to put out the word that Tunisia is a safe place for the return of tourism. Certainly, under the aegis of a rather stodgy cruise ship tour, we felt very safe indeed.


Our next stop was the best one: a museum that houses the biggest collection of Roman mosaics I’ve ever seen [that was the Bardo]. In room after overheated room, every surface was covered with these vibrant mosaics. I wish we could have stayed longer, but the guide had his own schedule.

This is another reminder, as if we needed it, that Islamism is a fast-moving, deadly plague, and that, especially in the Middle East and environs, no one is safe and no institution is immune.

The Bookworm Beat 3-5-15 — “I’m still standing” edition and open thread

Woman writingLast year I had virtually no work; this year, if the pace keeps up, I’ll be working almost full time. Frankly, I preferred no work.

Fortunately — and the lawyers amongst you will appreciate this — I’m getting access to Westlaw again, and won’t be trapped in Lexis hell. When it comes to Westlaw, it’s a brilliant interface and I feel like a brilliant practitioner when I use it.

I’m not going to stop blogging, though, just because of a little legal work.  I’ve been collecting interesting information, and now I get to share it with you:

Obama’s misguided (or evil) efforts to spin his Middle Eastern failures as successes

I’ve been trying to have a more optimistic view of things in my life lately, along the lines of “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Traffic tickets are an opportunity to be a better driver. Joint problems are a reminder to repair my body before old-age makes doing so impossible. Things like that — seeing problems as opportunities for improvement.

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The Bookworm Beat 2-23-15 — Post-Vegas edition and Open Thread

Woman writingI do like Vegas. I love its manic energy, crazed corporate imagination, over-the-top shows, brilliant colors, and flashing lights. And then, after three days, I’m desperate to get away from the noise and smoke and, often, the desperation floating above the casino floors. In other words, I had a great trip there and then was glad to come home again. This time, coming home also meant going through about 800 backed-up emails (a lot of people got heartfelt apologies from me for delaying so long before responding to them), and finding some awesome things to share with you.

A glowing French eye-view of American troops

When we think of the French, we tend to think of hyper-critical people who look down upon Americans. That stereotype might be true on the Île-de-France, but it turns out to be untrue in the theater of war, at least as to one French soldier who served with American troops (Echo Company) in Afghanistan. If this doesn’t make you want to stand up and salute, I truly don’t know what will:

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When the fanatics take control….

Muslims against ISISI received the following email, thought it was interesting, and want to pass it on:

A man, whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War II, owned a number of large industries and estates. When asked how many German people were true Nazis, the answer he gave can guide our attitude toward fanaticism.

“Very few people were true Nazis,” he said, “but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.”

We are told again and again by “experts” and “talking heads” that Islam is the religion of peace and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unqualified assertion is surely true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the spectre of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam.

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The Bookworm Beat 2-19-15 — A few links for your reading pleasure

Woman writingI’m still away from my blog, so I’m not blogging in real time, but in un-real time. I lined up this post several days ago and, for all I know, world events shifted so dramatically, everything here is entirely obsolete. Still, FWIW, you may enjoy these stories:

Roger L. Simon has been on fire lately. I’ve always liked his writing, but lately I’ve loved his writing. His riff on the murders in Cophenhagen is a fine bit of snark aimed at people at home and abroad who deny Islam’s role in terrorism, not to mention antisemitism’s role in Islam.

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If you read just one article today about ISIS, read Graeme Wood’s “What ISIS Really Wants”

Why is militant Islam Like EbolaI can’t imagine that you’ve traveled anywhere across the conservative internet today without coming across a link to Graeme Wood’s “What ISIS Really Wants.” It’s a long article, but so informative and important that it would be a good thing if everybody took a few minutes out of their day to read it.  Indeed, I’d make everyone in Obama’s administration read it often enough to have it memorized.

A lot of what Wood has to say is familiar to all of us who haven’t been pretending that ISIS is just a JV Team of malcontents taking the name of Allah in vain. Wood destroys any claim that ISIS isn’t Islamic:

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The difference between the Muslim conquests and the Crusades, in a single picture

You and I know that, had Obama seen this picture before the Prayer Breakfast, he wouldn’t have changed his speech by a single syllable. Facts are irrelevant. They must always bow before dogma. But to those of us who like facts, this picture is amazing:

Muslim conquest v Crusade battles

The above, of course, perfectly represents the Bernard Lewis quotation that’s getting so much air time lately:

I would not wish to defend the behavior of the Crusaders, which was in many respects atrocious. But let us have a little sense of proportion. We are now expected to believe that the Crusades were an unwarranted act of aggression against a peaceful Muslim world. Hardly. The first papal call for a crusade occurred in 846 C.E., when an Arab expedition from Sicily sailed up the Tiber and sacked St. Peter’s in Rome. A synod in France issued an appeal to Christian sovereigns to rally against “the enemies of Christ,” and the pope, Leo IV, offered a heavenly reward to those who died fighting the Muslims. A century and a half and many battles later, in 1096, the Crusaders actually arrived in the Middle East. The Crusades were a late, limited, and unsuccessful imitation of the jihad—an attempt to recover by holy war what had been lost by holy war. It failed, and it was not followed up.

Hat tip: A friend who directed me to Dinesh D’Souza’s Facebook page