By popular demand, it’s back — the Bookworm Room illustrated edition! You’ll enjoy these pithy images showing all that’s right or wrong with America.
It’s another superb illustrated edition, with thought-provoking posters about politics, social issues, and foreign policy. You won’t want to miss it.
This is first and foremost an illustrated edition post except . . . before you even look at these posters, please read Victor Davis Hanson’s “Regime Change by Any Other Name?” It’s phenomenal. And now the pictures:
One of the young Bookworms (no longer little, but younger still than I am) is doing a darned find job of organizing things around the house, a task that frequently needs my input.
A client asked me to help research a really interesting Constitutional law question regarding a government agency’s ability to infringe of some First Amendment rights.
I’m having a dispute with a local car dealership, which has been polite but firm on my side, but that escalated this morning to scarily abusive on the dealership’s side in the form of a hollering, threatening phone call from a dealership employee. That’s why, when I took the matter up the ladder to the car company itself, I asked that the company take whatever steps it has to in order to investigate the matter without directly implicating the person who abused me because I am actually afraid of him. No fooling. Knowing martial arts doesn’t mean that I want to have a physical confrontation at my home with a maddened employee who feels I threatened his job.
What with one thing and another, blogging isn’t going to happen, but please feel free to make this an open thread. The world is an interesting place and guys are so good at catching all the stuff I miss or am unable to address.
I’m out-of-town with friends and my iPad touchscreen is being touch resistant, both of which preclude even the pretense of blogging. Do check in the for the next two days, though, because my brilliant friend Wolf Howling will, I hope, put up a post or two. Also, I’ll be back Sunday evening.
Until then, here’s a nice, new, fresh open thread.
This Bookworm Beat is about the mad, mad, mad, mad and often quite scary world the Social Justice Warriors have given us.
I have been spring cleaning my small office for three days now and, finally, I’m done. Despite its small size, it had become the dumping ground for every piece of paper that ever came into the house, whether mine or the kids’. Add to that time the time spent dealing with a sick dog (she’s better now), and I’ve done squat when it comes to blogging. Thankfully, friends have helped out. These links are as good as anything I would have picked:
An in-depth look in Politico at a truly horrible Title IX decision at college and then in the 9th Circuit.
For much of Western history, society deplored the Seven Deadly Sins. Progressives have embraced them as desirable values.
You might have seen this link before, but it is a very good one. Someone high up in China’s Politburo is sending an open and obvious message to Kim Jung Un.
One of the many things on Trump’s to-do list, virtually all of which are top priorities, should be making available the data on crime uniquely collected by the federal government. We know the reasons it’s not available at the moment — race and CYA.
If China cuts oil supplies to the Kim regime, that really will be a huge deal. The country will grind to a halt.
An interesting essay from Katie Hopkins on Theresa May’s snap elections.
An homage to the capitalist innovators who failed spectacularly.
Here’s a down-and-dirty Bookworm Beat that’s still replete with things to entertain and inform.
I’d meant to blog more today, as well as to clean my office, but I had a sick dog and that took both my time and my attention. All is well with the dog — it’s a long term problem and we’re doing maintenance care.
And now for some quick links:
Gadzooks! It’s Gorsuch: Last week, when Neil Gorsuch was confirmed, Myron Magnet wrote a much-read article about the revolution his ascension to the Supreme Court represents:
Suppose, now that Gorsuch has been confirmed and sworn in, it understood and intended to overturn the administrative state’s usurpation of the Constitution. Suppose, moreover, that it understood the promiscuous lawlessness with which the justices have been making laws out of thin air for half a century and more—claiming some vague basis in the Bill of Rights or the Fourteenth Amendment—and resolved to end that abuse, exercising only judgment, not will. Suppose President Trump got to appoint one more justice in the Gorsuch and Scalia mold, creating an irresistible majority that upheld Madison’s original Constitution instead of Wilson’s “living” one.
Magnet’s dream may well be in the process of being realized. How do I know? Because of the manic, fevered emanations from the Left after Gorsuch’s first official appearance on the bench, all stating that Gorsuch is a mentally-disabled moron wrongfully occupying Merrick Garland’s seat. They’re terrified:
After his startlingly humiliating performance during his first day on the bench yesterday, it’s possible his earlier reticence to answer the Senators’ questions was because he didn’t understand them. As it turns out, Gorsuch is a simpleton with almost childlike understanding of the law – and the existing Justices on both sides of the spectrum already seem to have concluded he’s an idiot.
In fact, Gorsuch was pointing out that the answer lies in actually reading the statutory language — and he was embarrassing those attorneys who were trying to make things complicated in hopes of getting a ruling that allows agencies to make their own laws. (I’ve lost my link for this, but I’ll fill it in as soon as I find it.)
If Dennis Prager is happy, I’m happy. Everything Dennis Prager says about the political and moral clarity of the last two weeks . . . I agree:
2. The terrible presidency of Barack Obama is beginning to be acknowledged.
Following President Trump’s order to attack Syria about 63 hours after the Syrian regime seemingly used chemical weapons, even many in the mainstream media couldn’t help but contrast his prompt response with Obama’s nonresponse to Assad’s use of chemical weapons in 2013. And almost every report further noted that Obama failed to do anything after having promised that he would regard the use of chemical weapons by Assad as crossing a “red line.”
Likewise, Obama’s do-nothing policies vis-a-vis North Korea are being contrasted with Trump’s warnings to leader Kim Jung Un about further testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles and pressure on China’s leaders to rein in the North Korean regime.
These contrasts are important for a number of reasons, not the least of which being there is now hope that Obama’s star will dim as time goes on.
This will come as somewhat of a surprise to those on the left, but many of us who are not on the left believe that Obama did more damage to America than any previous president — economically, militarily and socially.
As drivers, we can too easily cause someone else’s traumatic death. As people of conscience, we must drive with relaxed rigor to avoid that outcome.
The other day, I had an inconsequential, but extremely painful and somewhat sanguinary medical procedure. Although I was practicing deep breathing and thinking happy thoughts in an effort to get through the procedure with a minimum of fuss, my body had a different idea. It interpreted the cutting and blood to mean only one thing: Unless it acted immediately, I was going to die. To that end, my body instantly withdrew all the blood in my extremities back into my torso to protect my internal organs and it had me start throwing up to rid itself of any poisons. My body’s response was every bit as unpleasant as the procedure itself.
That made me think of traumatic death.
I’ve been watching PBS’s six-hour American Experience documentary about America’s participation in WWI. All three episodes have made extraordinary use of contemporaneous still photos and — something entirely new at the time — movie footage. Seeing those vital young men march happily off to war confident that, despite the bloodbath of the preceding four years, they could emerge unscathed is disconcerting to say the least. And of course, while modern filmmakers are loath to let us see the effects of Islamic terrorism against the West, this documentary is filled with shots of dead British soldiers, dead French soldiers, dead German soldiers and, eventually, dead American soldiers.
That made me think of traumatic death.
About a month ago, I watched a movie I didn’t like — I prefer plot driven movies, while this was all about emotions — but I found in it a compelling underlying message. The movie was Rabbit Hole, about a young couple still struggling nine months after their only child was hit and killed by a car. It’s not a bad movie; it’s just not my kind of movie. In the event that you want to see it, I won’t give away any of the plot except to say that it makes you think how extraordinarily vulnerable a child’s body is when hit by a large object.
That made me think of traumatic death.
I’m not feeling particularly inspired today, but this Bookworm Beat has some links I’d like to share with you, covering everything from politics to humor.
Obergefell is worse than you imagined. Obergefell is the case in which Justice Kennedy, writing the romance novel of his life, found buried in the Constitution a long hidden right to gay marriage. Legally, it was a disaster of an opinion and, as romantic fiction, it was too overwrought to be believable.
What those of us who read it once with an eye for the specific issue missed is the fact that Kennedy included language that encourages each federal judge in America to take a legislative role for himself, never mind that these judges are appointed, not elected, so voters cannot touch them:
In Obergefell, Justice Kennedy did far more than merely discover a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. He wrote that judges have an ongoing “duty” to identify and protect new “fundamental rights.” He maintained that judges should institute new rights whenever their “reasoned judgment” suggests that it is appropriate to do so.
Previously, a Supreme Court precedent titled Washington v. Glucksberg held that judges could recognize constitutional rights only if they were “deeply rooted in” American “history and tradition.” Justice Kennedy dismissed this standard as unduly constraining judges’ power.
The article from which the above quotation comes explains that, across the United States, activist judges have been taking full advantage of this unconstitutional mandate:
A case titled Juliana v. United States presents an ominous warning as to what lies ahead. A district-court judge in Oregon used Obergefell’s license to fashion a new individual right to a “climate system capable of sustaining human life.” The judge adopted Justice Kennedy’s “reasoned judgment” standard and wrote, “Exercising my ‘reasoned judgment,’ . . . I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life” is a fundamental constitutional right.
The plaintiffs argued that various government officials violated the Constitution by “causing atmospheric CO2 levels to rise” and “knowingly endangering Plaintiffs’ health and welfare by approving and prompting fossil fuel development, including exploration, extraction, production, transportation, importation, exportation, and combustion.” They urged the court to order the government to stop violating their constitutional right to a healthy environment and to require it to “develop a plan to reduce CO2 emissions.”
This sounds like a plainly political rather than constitutional question, but under Obergefell’s amorphous “reasoned judgment” standard, anything is possible. The judge explained that under Obergefell, the creation of “new fundamental rights” is not “out of bounds.” The case is ongoing, but the district-court judge has already recognized the existence of the “constitutional right” in question.
Justice Kennedy cannot retire from the Court soon enough. Nor can Justice Ginsburg. This aggregation of raw power in the only branch of our government that is not answerable to anyone is a fearful tyranny that needs to be quashed instantly, if not sooner.
For 8 years, my open threads have been depressing. This one, though, had me feeling remarkably cheerful as there’s a lot of good news under President Trump.
I am very pleased with the airstrike President Trump ordered in Syria. Chemical weapons are a national security threat to every nation in the world, no matter where they are deployed. Every nation has an obligation to act against them.
All poison gasses are nasty, but sarin is particularly horrible. There’s are whole Generations of Xs, Ys, and Zs, not to mention the millennials and post-millenials, who have no memory of the 1995 sarin attack in the Tokyo subway. I remember, though, how dreadful it was — and how easy it was to loose that chemical on a civilian population.
For Obama to have crawled away from his red line, and then handed the matter over to Russia, which manifestly failed to remove chemical weapons from inside Syria, was a terrifying failure of leadership. Trump did what presidents have always done and should always need room to do: he didn’t declare war; he simply sent a sharp warning shot over an enemy’s bow, with the implicit threat that there’s much more where that came from.
I’m also willing to bet that Trump, having decided upon an objective, told the military to do it and then turned his attention to other things. In this, he would be unlike Obama, who was never even a Boy Scout, but who nevertheless felt competent to micromanage military strategy. Trump has a good eye for talent and, once that talent is on board, he delegates. That’s how leadership is supposed to work.
I was out and about earlier today, and heard two women talking about the airstrike. Actually, one woman was telling the other, who was not current on the news.
What surprised me, given that this conversation took place in Marin between two women who were quite obviously Hillary voters, is that the narrator was quite supportive of Trump. You could tell she thought he did the right thing, considering the sheer horror of the attack. However, thanks to a media that has turned on a dime from hating Putin to trusting him implicitly, she was under the impression that Trump ought to have gotten Congress’s permission first. It did not seem to occur to her that these type of warning strikes are well within the Chief Executive’s power. To drag them before Congress would make it impossible to act quickly about provocations that require immediate, but limited, attention.
In the age of Trump, we no longer have politics as usual, and thank the good Lord for that. The usual politics for the past eight years have been too damn toxic.
A handful of excellent points about wiretapping. I haven’t had much to say about the wiretapping because I’ve been too busy eating popcorn as I’ve watched the fact-free “Trump is a Putin stooge” narrative collapse, only to be replaced by a fact-filled “Obama spied on Trump, on probably on the other Republican candidates” narrative.
The only thing more fun than watching the truth come out is watching the media contortions to avoid accepting that Obama just eclipsed Watergate as the worst political scandal ever. Moreover, many of them must be grappling with the fact that they may face criminal charges for knowingly releasing to the public improperly unmasked names.
Here are a few of my favorite posts on the subject:
Looking at this grab-bag post, I can see the common thread: valuing tight-knit communities, nuclear families, and each individual’s worth.
I know why Utah’s welfare is working. Megan McArdle wrote a much-talked-about article in which she looked at Utah, which has extremely good and affordable social services. The key to Utah’s successful welfare system, although I’m not sure she realizes it, lies in this paragraph:
The volunteering starts in the church wards, where bishops keep a close eye on what’s going on in the congregation, and tap members as needed to help each other. If you’re out of work, they may reach out to small business people to find out who’s hiring. If your marriage is in trouble, they’ll find a couple who went through a hard time themselves to offer advice.
With a system like that, you’re not going to have the type of fraud that occurred in Minnesota. There, none of the bureaucrats who cut $118,000 in checks knew that the woman claiming an absent husband had, in fact, a gainfully employed husband living with her and their children. In Utah, where charity begins at the ward level, everyone would have known the woman’s marital situation and the fraud could not have happened.
Fraud is expensive. Fraud is also easy when far-away governments manage essentially anonymous programs.
All of this made me think of a fascinating talk I heard a few years ago. I learned that, before government welfare, America was not a cold, cruel place in which widows and orphans routinely died. Instead, America had a vast network of fraternal organizations that functioned as welfare organizations. As with the Mormon wards, these “welfare” agencies worked extremely well because they took place at the community level. That meant that those responsible for administering an organization’s funds knew if Joe Shmo was a layabout or a hard worker on hard times.
Utah’s hands-on approach has managed to run counter to the prevailing American system that separates the needy from the check-writers. Until we return to community-based charitable organizations, fraud and waste will be the rule of the day.
I don’t see us making that U-turn. Having passed the baton to the government, Americans are not suddenly going to enlist en masse in the Kiwanis or the Shriners (more’s the pity).
Mike Pence’s “wife” policy shows that he’s a decent and smart man. Progressives are having a field day with the fact that, if Mike Pence is have a dinner tête-à-tête with a woman, that woman will always be his wife. Here’s a tweet perfectly summarizing the hysteria:
Today’s news could be called Sociopath News, thanks to scheming politicians and bureaucrats, scary athletes, sex-crazed illegal aliens, and more.
Officially, there’s no such thing as a “sociopath.” Sociopath is just lay person shorthand for someone with an antisocial personality disorder. So that we’re all on the same page here when I use the term sociopath, I’m relying on a definition I pulled off of WebMD:
Symptoms usually include antisocial behavior in which there is little concern for the rights of others such as indifference to the moral or legal standards of the region or community. Behavior patterns usually include excessive drinking, fighting and irresponsibility. A key to the disorder is long lasting, persistent, manipulative, exploitive actions and manners that determinedly ignore others.
There’s actually more to the definition, stuff about age of onset or proper diagnosis, but I’m skipping those parts. What I want to focus on in this round-up post are individuals or cultures that have “little concern for the rights of others,” are “indifferen[t] to the moral or legal standards of the region or community,” and who engage in “long lasting, persistent, manipulative, exploitive actions and manners that determinedly ignore others.” To the extent that don’t care about morals, their own physical or mental needs define the boundaries of their thoughts and conduct.
Athletes without conscience. I got stuck on the sociopath shtick yesterday when I was watching Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel. It’s pay TV, so I can’t put a video here, but I’ll tell you briefly about the segment that triggered my thoughts about sociopathy. If you follow baseball, which I don’t, this story is probably already familiar to you:
Matt Bush entered professional baseball at 18. He got a big salary and started drinking with abandon. He was arrested repeatedly for all sorts of awful drunken behavior, but always apologized, got little wet noodle slaps, and walked away.
In 2012, while driving drunk, Bush ran over motorcyclist Tony Tufano, crushing Tufano’s entire upper body, including his face. It’s a miracle that Tufano is alive. In seconds, he went from being an active, engaged 72-year old to becoming an overweight, drug dependent, pain-ridden, deeply depressed recluse. Bush, meanwhile, drove away from the scene of his crime, only to be caught later.
Bush was sent to prison, then to a halfway house, and then ended up on the Texas Rangers because his escapades had left his throwing arm unimpaired. The Rangers exert control over him: He can’t drink, he can’t drive, and he has to live with this father. Fair enough. I believe in remorse, repentance, and redemption.
Except that as I watched the Real Sports segment, it appeared to me that Bush’s remorse was limited to the damage he did to his own life. To the extent he repented, it was to be sorry that he’d screwed himself up. Redemption? Well, you don’t get there from where he seems to be. This certainly could have been a nasty hit job through HBO’s selective editing (the media has been known to do this), but Bush as framed didn’t show one iota of sorrow for Tufano.
One got the feeling that Bush believes Tufano was at fault for getting under the wheels of Bush’s car. To the extent Bush has cleaned up his act, Tufano served as a useful device for triggering that change, but at no point did Bush acknowledge Tufano’s pain and suffering, nor did he seem to feel under any moral obligation to Tufano. Bush was satisfied that, having read the Bible in prison, God had forgiven him, and everything else was past history.
To me, that’s pure sociopath.
But it turns out that Bush is, if you’ll pardon the pun, Bush-league when it comes to sociopaths and sports. Only when you read about Bruno Fernandes de Souza will you fully understand the sociopath athlete:
This round-up post opens with the London terrorist attack, but also covers Trump and Obamacare, the Sudan, climate change, media bias, faith, and risky sex.
In the wake of the deadly terrorist attack in London, people were remembering last year, when London’s first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, said that terrorism is just part of life in the big city. He’s correct — that is, he’s correct if Islam is ascendant in the world. It is, after all, a faith that has terror as its foundation. Wherever Islam goes, it brings with it the fire and the sword. It’s a safer world when Islam is cowed, not ascendant.
I do feel terribly sorry for the people who were hurt and I’m saddened about the lives lost. My sympathy lies with their families and friends. Having said that, I’m quickly running out of patience for the whole European attitude towards Islamic terrorism. We get one attack after another filling our screens with bloody images, and all that the Europeans do is mull over what could possibly have caused someone suddenly to go off his rocker, scream “Allahu Akhbar” and kill a bunch of people.
Here’s a great poster illustrating the European approach to terror:
Until Europeans start taking Islamic terrorism seriously, why should I? If you all are so filled with cultural self-loathing that you have a death wish, my only hope is that you don’t drag me down with you.
And that’s all I have to say about what happened in London. However, I do have a few links I’ve saved, and I’d like to share them with you. In no particular order:
I’ve cleared my spindle and the articles I linked are a feast for the hungry mind — the Middle East, climate change, policing, gender, Obamacare, and more.
There’s land if the Palestinians want it. Did you know that President al-Sisi in Egypt has offered the Palestinians a state that would include Gaza plus 618 adjacent square miles in the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula? This offer reflects the fact that the Egyptians, like the Jordanians, Saudis, and every other Sunni Arab state around can’t stand the Palestinians.
With Iran looming on the Iranian, the Sunni nations are becoming more aware that Israel is their bulwark against Iran. If they can get rid of the Palestinian issue — and get the troublesome Palestinians out of their countries — they can unite to face off against Iran. You can read more here.
The Palestinians, of course, will not go for it. They don’t want their own country. They want the Jews’ country. The question is whether the combined weight of the Sunni Arab world, perhaps with help from the Trump administration, can force them to take what they don’t want and finally, once and for all, leave everyone alone. The problem is that the Palestinians (with a lot of UN help) have raised too many blood-thirsty generations who view Israel as their own land, to be taken with fire and sword.
Once again, a sociologist proves that sociology is not science. I laughed so hard I choked on my morning cereal when I read a Los Angeles Times op-ed by an academic sociologist assuring readers that atheists raise more moral kids than religious people do. The trick to this column is that the atheistic sociologist gets to define what constitutes “morality.”
I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that morality means having values that precisely track the Progressive/Democrat social and political agenda. My only question is for how much longer taxpayers are going to let their state and federal monies flow into the academic institutions producing this kind of biased garbage?
One brave man in blue. The ACLU sued the Milwaukee police department alleging (what else?) that it’s raaaacist. This is, of course, nothing more than a shakedown using the court system. Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn refused to be intimidated:
“If they [the police] are willing to risk their lives to protect our disadvantaged communities than the least I can do is be willing to risk lawsuits to do the same thing.”
Flynn said that the ACLU and organizations like them want only to “drive a wedge between the police and their communities.”
“The people that actually live in the neighborhoods punctuated by gunfire and non-fatal shootings every night of the week demand effective and responsive policing” while the “concerns of the neighborhoods are never on the agenda of groups like the ACLU.”
Chief Flynn also pointed out that the police are protecting blacks and other minorities, who are significantly more likely than whites to be victims of violent crime. Bravo, Chief Flynn!