The Bookworm Beat 8-26-15 — the “gruesome GoPro” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265The revolution will be televised — thoughts on the shooting in Virginia

Back in 1969 or 1970, during the height of the 1960s era upheavals, Gil Scott-Heron wrote a poem/song claiming “the revolution will not be televised.” The lyrics implied that the media would be so anodyne that, while revolution was on the streets, those watching their TVs would see only pabulum. What Scott-Heron couldn’t perceive was that, thanks to technological advances, the revolutionaries would create their own television spectacles. We see that most dramatically with ISIS, which enjoys filming and televising its trail of murder, rapine, and destruction, as well as with the American activists who turn life’s frictions into catalysts for riot and revolution.

And today we saw something that managed to have roots both in a protest against life’s friction and in ISIS’s sadistic voyeurism: It turns out that Vester Lee Flanigan, the man who murdered TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, and seriously injured Chamber of Commerce representative Vicki Gardner, (a) committed the murder in part because Parker allegedly made racist comments before Flanigan and Parker ever worked together and (b) GoPro’d the murder:

Murderer's eye view Flanigan Parker

The revolution will be televised, and it will be the revolutionaries, especially the sadistic voyeurs, doing the televising.

Oh, and because the usual suspects have used this horrible murder as ammunition in their war on the Second Amendment, you might want to have as your own talking point the fact that gun crime has dropped 49% since 1993, something the vast majority of Americans do not know.

Donald Trump and Univision’s Jorge Ramos

I do not like Trump. I do not believe he’s a conservative. I do believe he’s a megalomaniac. I sincerely hope he burns out soon, so that more serious candidates (my current faves are Cruz and Fiorina) can get their rightful place in the limelight.

Having said that, I totally understand why people are so enthusiastic about Trump’s demagogic candidacy. Part of it the support comes from people’s sense that a lawless administration needs to be reined in about illegal immigration.

Incidentally, I just made an important point, if I do say so myself. Contrary to Leftist claims, those who support Trump are not xenophobes, trying to lock Hispanics out of the country. They are, instead, ordinary lawful citizens who are horrified by the fact that the current executive branch in this country is willfully violating laws that Congress passed to preserve this country’s sovereignty. It’s not racist to ask your government to enforce its own laws. But back to Trump….

What people like about Trump is his absolute refusal to play by the PC rules that Leftists have long used to stifle conservative speech and action. Ramos was out of line to use his Hispanic heft to muscle into a speech at the Donald’s press conference, and the Donald rightly put him in his place. Then, when Ramos played by the rules and waited his turn, Trump again put him in his place by answering in straightforward fashion questions about the border, pnce again blogging Ramos’s speechifying.

Leftists are bullies who work hard to control speech and thought through whatever means are available. In Trump, they’ve met an even bigger bully than they are.  While I’d hate to see Trump in the driver’s seat at the White House, it’s a pleasure to see him out bully the Left on the campaign trail.

Daniel Pipes on the possibility that Tehran rejects the deal

To those of us watching Obama work hard to hand billions of dollars and unlimited nuclear capacity to the Iranians, it seems inconceivable that the Iranians might reject the deal. Moreover, if that were to happen, I think most of us would have, as our instinctive first response, the thought that it’s good to see Obama humiliated in such a way.

Daniel Pipes, however, argues that the possibility is real that Tehran could reject the deal and that, absent some careful groundwork, if it were to happen, it could have unpleasant ramifications, not for Obama, but for Israel and other opponents of the deal:

Leaders of fanatical and brutal government such as Khamenei’s invariably make ideological purity and personal power their highest priorities and he is no exception. From this point of view – its impact on the regime’s longevity – the deal contains two problems.

First, it betrays Ayatollah Khameini’s vision of unyielding enmity to the United States, a core principle that has guided the Islamic republic since he founded it in 1979. A substantial portion of the leadership, including Khamenei himself, hold to a purist vision that sees any relations with the United States as unacceptable and bordering on treachery. For this reason, Tehran has long been the world’s only capital not seeking improved relations with Washington. These rejectionists disdain the benefits of the deal; they refuse it on grounds of principle.

[snip]

Second, Iranian opponents of the JCPOA worry about its eroding the Islamist values of Khameini’s revolution. They fear that the businessmen, tourists, students, artists, et al., perched soon to descend on an newly-opened Iran will further tempt the local population away from the difficult path of resistance and martyrdom in favor of consumerism, individualism, feminism, and multiculturalism. They despise and dread American clothing, music, videos, and education. Khamenei himself talks of the U.S. government seeking a way “to penetrate into the country.” From their point of view, isolation and poverty have their virtues as means to keep the Iranian revolution alive.

[snip]

Back in the West, opponents of the deal will, of course, rejoice if Khamenei rejects the deal. But his doing so also presents them with a problem. After claiming that Obama has given away the store, they must confront the awkward fact that the Iranian leadership turned down his offer. As Obama emerges as an apparent hard-liner who protected American interests and out-bargained the bazaar merchants, their argument collapses. His accusation about their “making common cause” with the Iranian rejectionists will look newly convincing and terribly damning. Israel’s prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, currently in Obama’s dog house, is especially at risk of being dismissed as foolish.

To avoid this fate, the deal’s opponents must immediately prepare for the possibility of an Iranian “no.”

Read the whole thing here.

The 14th Amendment is not intended to extend birthright citizenship to people who are here illegally

The 14th Amendment’s reference to birthright citizenship was intended to give American blacks citizenship. Blacks did not come to America voluntarily. Whites brought them here forcibly, and then kept them captive. The least America could do was make them and their children citizens of this country.

The 14th amendment was not intended (a) to provide an incentive for people to make a voluntary illegal journey here and then to use the subsequent birth of their children as an anchor to stay in perpetuity or (b) to entice monied people to come here solely for their child’s birth, before returning to their own country. It’s not complicated; it is, instead, a grotesque perversion of our Constitution to hold otherwise.

I actually have thought a fair bit about birthright citizenship because my father was the child of a German Jewish woman and a Polish Jewish man of Romanian decent. His mother had been in Germany for centuries and was a German citizen. His father was a legal immigrant in Germany, but retained his Polish citizenry. My father, although born in Germany in 1919 to a German mother, was a Polish citizen. That’s why, when he and my mother sought to immigrate legally to America in the 1950s, it took him years to get a visa — America wasn’t thrilled at the time about getting more Polish residents. I always thought it was unfair to my father, that he was born in Germany to legal residents, but was a Pole.

The same does not hold true in my mind for people who should not be here in the first place. They weren’t invited, they weren’t forced here, and they didn’t follow the legal process to get here. They are, to my mind, non-people under American law and they should not get any of the benefits that either the law or the constitution extend to people born here, invited here, forced here, and legally welcomed here.

Of course, the media is doing its best to hide from everyone the fact that birthright citizenship is not the reward for every cheat who enters this country.

Yet another blow to the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt

Okay, the story below isn’t really a blow to the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt, because a media that (a) worships Roosevelt and (b) isn’t going to let Americans get a glimpse into the sordid side of Roosevelt’s personality and presidency will never cover it.

The fact is, though, that Roosevelt was either a racist or an exceptionally petty man — or both. Certainly Roosevelt didn’t care that Jews were being slaughtered. He didn’t integrate the WWII military. And he refused to congratulate Jessie Owens in 1936:

Back home, ticker tape parades feted Owens in New York City and Cleveland. Hundreds of thousands of Americans came out to cheer him. Letters, phone calls, and telegrams streamed in from around the world to congratulate him. From one important man, however, no word of recognition ever came. As Owens later put it, “Hitler didn’t snub me; it was our president who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send a telegram.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, leader of a major political party with deep roots in racism, couldn’t bring himself to utter a word of support, which may have been a factor in Owens’s decision to campaign for Republican Alf Landon in the 1936 presidential election. FDR invited all the white US Olympians to the White House, but not Jesse.

“It all goes so fast, and character makes the difference when it’s close,” Owens once said about athletic competition. He could have taught FDR a few lessons in character, but the president never gave him the chance. Owens wouldn’t be invited to the White House for almost 20 years — not until Dwight Eisenhower named him “Ambassador of Sports” in 1955.

The gay rights movement is not the same as the civil rights movement

I have to admit to being surprised (rather pleasantly) to see the New York Times run an op-ed from someone pointing out that the gay rights and civil rights movement are not the same. John Corvino is a philosophy professor, so his writing made my eyes role into the back of my head (I could almost see my brain), but I appreciate his careful effort to explain that, while the movements share similarities, they are not the same and that it’s an error to impose draconian government speech restrictions on those who, for reasons of faith, aren’t anxious to embrace gay marriage. Indeed, Corvino makes an argument I’ve been making for years, which is that the civil rights movement saw individuals protesting government conduct while the gay rights movement is using the government to enforce private conduct:

When civil rights laws were passed, discrimination against blacks was pervasive, state-sponsored and socially intractable. Pervasive, meaning that there weren’t scores of other photographers clamoring for their business. State-sponsored, meaning that segregation was not merely permitted but in fact legally enforced, even in basic public accommodations and services. Socially intractable, meaning that without higher-level legal intervention, the situation was unlikely to improve. To treat the lesbian couple’s situation as identical — and thus as obviously deserving of the same legal remedy — is to minimize our racist past and exaggerate L.G.B.T.-rights opponents’ current strength.

Leftists are so damn smug

I’ve had the link to this video on my spindle for about a week now. In the elapsed time since I first tagged it, but didn’t get the chance to write about it, it’s gone viral, even to the point of Ellen Degeneris sending out a tweet. In it, a father videos himself celebrating the fact that his little boy got a “Little Mermaid” doll at the toy store.

Why did I tag it to bring to your attention? Because the father is so smug. Smug is not the right response to a personal family decision. Instead, it’s apparent that this guy knew precisely what kind of traction this video would get and desperately wanted his 15 seconds of fame.

Leftists are so damn greedy

You’ll know without my comments what to make of a lawyer saying that blacks and other oppressed people should steal from big retailers, because the fact that retailers have insurance means that it’s not a crime. Separate from the immorality and racism of what he says, he needs an economics lesson courtesy of Bastiat.

Even Israel supports sharia law

One of the hallmarks of a free society is free speech. One of the hallmarks of a sharia society is that, whether through word or deed, you’re not allowed to criticize any aspect of Islam, especially the pedophile prophet. Yet in Israel, a free country chronically under attack by the pedophile’s followers, the government enforces sharia on Islam’s behalf:

Israeli police arrested a fourth person for calling Mohammed a pig. Avia Morris, the first person arrested described being taunted with cries of “Allahu Akbar” and “Kill the Jews” along with signs of support for ISIS. But it only became a legal matter when the twenty-year-old woman retorted, “Mohammed is a pig.”

Daniel Greenfield has a great deal more on Mohammed’s piggishness and on Western government’s enthusiastic willingness to become an arm of the sharia police when speakers point out Mohammed’s many, many failings:

The response to Muslim violence has been greater extremes of censorship. There is a direct connection between the amount of protective censorship imposed on any criticism of Islam and Islamic violence. The Clinton administration rant about Tatiana’s cartoon took place after the World Trade Center bombing. And yet it would have been unthinkable then to lock up a Mohammed filmmaker, as Hillary and Obama did after the Benghazi massacre. Each new atrocity creates new momentum for censorship.

The Israeli police behave the way they do because the authorities are desperate to keep some kind of peace and it is always easier to censor, arrest and control non-Muslims than Muslims. That is also why the authorities in European countries are far more willing to lock up those who burn the Koran or criticize Islam than the Salafis who patrol the streets as Sharia police and call for a Caliphate.

This is not tolerance. It’s appeasement. It’s cowardice and treason.

Need I point out that these are the same governments that are entirely comfortable with Christs in urine, Marys in elephant dung, and horribly antisemitic pictures of Jews?

No matter how nice Obama makes with Cuba, Cuba is still a nasty place

We have diplomatic relationships with all sorts of nasty regimes. What’s disgusting about Obama and Co. is that they’re pretending that Cuba isn’t a nasty regime. Cracked, of all sites, points out that the Left is lying — Cuba’s a bad place, let by ugly, violent people.

Income inequality and poverty are not the same thing

Writing at Forbes, Harry Frankfurt makes a very important point in response to hysterical screams about income inequality, all of which end up with demands for government mandated wealth redistribution:

It isn’t especially desirable that each have the same as others. What is bad is not inequality; it is poverty. We should want each person to have enough—that is, enough to support the pursuit of a life in which his or her own reasonable ambitions and needs may be comfortably satisfied. This individually measured sufficiency, which by definition precludes the bur­dens and deprivations of poverty, is clearly a more sensible goal than the achievement of an impersonally calibrated equality.

[snip]

It is not inequality itself that is to be decried; nor is it equality it­self that is to be applauded. We must try to eliminate poverty, not because the poor have less than others but be­cause being poor is full of hardship and suffering. We must con­trol inequality, not because the rich have much more than the poor but because of the tendency of inequality to generate unac­ceptable discrepancies in social and political influence. Inequality is not in itself objectionable—and neither is equality in itself a morally required ideal.

Ben Shapiro and my sister sort of agree

My sister is a rather indifferent libertarian who pays as little attention to the news as possible. However, we had a conversation when I spoke about the fact that voters cannot make informed decisions when the media deliberately hides data. My example was the Planned Parenthood videos showing Planned Parenthood facilities engaging in the sale of human body parts in a way that (a) appears to show them violating laws against profiting from that sale; (b) appears to show them failing to notify the women having the abortions what will be done about those body parts; and (c) makes it clear how revolting the traffic in fetal body parts really is.

When I described the videos to her, my sister was horrified. Libertarian she may be; secularist she may be; government out of my womb she may be — but she understands that there is a moment when that fetus is a viable life and at that moment she believes, as do most Americans, that it’s murder to vacuum it out of a woman’s body and kill it without a damn good reason for doing so. Although she won’t watch it, she would find herself agreeing with Ben Shapiro’s video:

More climate lies

Just in case you wanted to know, NOAA committed the usual acts of climate-based scientific fraud with Oklahoma temperature data.

If you need some inspiration today…

Corporal Todd Love will inspire you.

Dubai — impressive or disgusting?

I’m not a fan of conspicuous consumption, so I find Dubai’s excess disgusting. Having said that, it’s disgusting in a kind of fascinating way.

Did any Leftist initiatives ever actually benefit the poor people, women, and minorities?

good-intentionsMy son has a hard time waking up in the morning and, over the years, I’ve fallen into a bad habit: When he doesn’t emerge from his room, I head up the stairs to remind him to wake up. Last Friday, I got my exercise heading up those stairs five separate times. This morning, I thought to myself, “My God! I’m acting precisely like a Leftist, depriving my child of the opportunity to take responsibility for himself.”

When I woke my son up, I said “This is the last time I’m coming upstairs this morning. If you fall back asleep, I will not wake you up and, when you’re finally ready to head to school, you’ll walk there with a note from me to the office explaining that you overslept.”

“Really?” he asked incredulously.

“Really,” I answered.

My son came down to breakfast in record time.  It turned out that by allowing him to rely on me, I’d preventing him from being able to rely on himself.

Thinking about the inadvertent damage I was doing to my son with my well-meant efforts to get him off to school in time, I then started thinking about Leftists, who claim to act for and represent the other 99%: the poor, the people of varying colors and sexual indentities, women, etc. And what I asked myself was this: “Do any current Leftist initiatives actually benefit the people Leftists claim to serve?”

So far, my answer to that question is “no.” As of my writing this, I’ve come up with the following list of Leftist cause célèbres (which is not in any particular order), and the deleterious effects they have on the Left’s claimed constituency:

1. The anti-GMO movement

As the Left phrases it, they are saving the world from Frankengrains and other foods that will destroy the earth, all in the name of Monsanto’s enrichment. In fact, the historical ignorance behind the movement is staggering, since humans have been messing with animal and plant genetics since the beginning of human kind.

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Bookworm Beat 8-11-15 — the illustrated edition, devoted to excavating the Leftist mind through Facebook posters

Woman-writing-300x265One of my Facebook friends is an uber-Leftist, although he does staunchly support Israel.  He never puts up personal posts.  Instead, his Facebook feed is filled with posters, some inspirational, some funny, some pro-Israel, and most pro-Left and anti-Republican.

I thought that for this illustrated edition, instead of the usual conservative-oriented posters, I’d take a peak at, and run some comments by, the stuff coming from the Left.  In each case, my commentary about a poster will be below the poster.

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The Bookworm Beat 8-7-15 — the “Obama is a traitor” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265I’m trying to see a silver lining in the Iran deal that Obama is shilling so hard (and more on that shilling below). Although I haven’t quite glimpsed the silver, there are certainly some ironies, not the least of which is that Israel is now working openly with Saudi Arabia, the country that is second only to Iran, or perhaps even exceeds Iran, in fomenting anti-Western and antisemitic sentiment the world over. The good thing is that, when Israel attacks Iran (as it will have to once Obama’s deal goes through), Saudi Arabia will freely grant it access to the airspace necessary for Israeli fighters to reach Iran, and it will probably fuel the planes for free too.

Israel will also be joined by the Jordanian and Egyptian militaries, as well as other Sunni nations in the Middle East. Suddenly, the pariah nation will be one of the gang.

The main problem with these new alliances, of course, is that Arabs tend to be challenging partners in war. When they’re ascendant, as we see with ISIS, they’re barbaric; and when they’re not ascendant, historically at least, they’ve been given to spontaneous retreat (no doubt because their ascendant enemies are also Arabs, and they know what kinds of barbarism are headed their way).

Arabs are awful enemies, but they’re not necessarily good friends. In other words, with friends like them, who needs or wants friends?

Here’s a round-up that looks at the awful situation Obama is creating, or has already created, in the Middle East, as well as other trends at home and abroad. January 2017 cannot come a second too soon. Indeed, it may already be coming way too late.

Where there’s life there’s hope

Before I turn this into a total Debbie Downer post, I’d like to direct your attention to the story of an Israeli police woman who suddenly found herself in the middle of a violent Palestinian outbreak in the West Bank. The story starts with a proprietary photo that I won’t share with you. You’ll just have to follow the link:

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Science is crying out for a reformation

Climate change is the excuse for everythingI recently finished reading a delightful book about medieval history — Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives. What makes it stand out a bit from other history books is that the Terry Jones in the book’s title is the same one you may remember from Monty Python. As it happens, he was a medieval history scholar at Oxford and that has always remained his passion.

The book is organized so that each chapter looks at different figures in medieval society: kings, knights, entertainers, alchemists, clerics, etc., and gives a brief summary of the development of those roles over the length of the medieval era from the so-called Dark Ages before the 13th century, all the way through the Renaissance. It’s quite obviously not a deep history, but its organization is useful in seeing the trajectory of an institution or idea over the centuries.

The chapter on the initial purity and resulting corruption of the medieval church, which eventually and inevitably led to Reformation and Counter Reformation, struck me as being peculiarly familiar. It wasn’t just that I’ve read so many medieval history books over the decades that most things ring a bell. That is, for me there are very few new ideas or facts in a history book about medieval Europe; instead, there are familiar ideas and facts presented in new and interesting ways. But with the clergy chapter, there was something more than just the usual “Oh, I know that historic tidbit” feeling. Instead, I felt as if I were reading something very modern.

And then it struck me. The trajectory of the modern church matches with eerie precision the trajectory of modern science. In its early years, when it was separate from government, the Christian church was a remarkably pure institution, devoted to developing each individual’s relationship with Jesus Christ. There were different ideas and approaches floated, as well as battles within the Church (think of the gnostic heresy), but the faithful and their clergy were remarkably untainted by worldly considerations.

Science, too, up until the mid-20th century or so, had an austere honesty. Men and women of passion and conviction devoted their lives to research. There were stupid mistakes and prejudices along the way (everything from the denial of germ theory to the denial that bacteria cause ulcers) but these were internecine battles, dedicated to preserving science’s intellectual honesty and purity.

The early church was attractive because it promised relief from the darkness of paganism, with its human sacrifice and the many rules it had, rules that obscured the fact that paganism generally lacked underlying and, if you’ll pardon me for the word play, overarching moral principles. In the same way, science, from the Enlightenment through the mid-20th century, promised relief from the darkness of Hippocrates’s and Galen’s ideas about the four humours and the crazy (and often terribly painful or dangerous) medical ideas that flowed from the Ancient Greeks’ approach to medicine.

In the case of both institutions — that is, the medieval Catholic Church and science — as they gained popularity, they attracted the attention of power and money. Royalty tried to integrate the church into its power structure (and, in the case of Henry VIII, succeeded magnificently), while the wealthy plied churches, monasteries, and nunneries with money in an effort to preserve their immortal souls. The result was that the medieval church became fabulously wealthy and began to devote its time to managing money, not shepherding men’s souls, while too many churchmen were unable to resist the earthly temptations that came with wealth and power.

Science followed precisely the same trajectory. After WWII, governments began to fund scientists, most notably in connection with America’s space program. It became apparent to anyone paying attention that, if a government, an organization, or an individual invested enough money into a scientist or scientific institution, the scientists or institutions would reliably produce outcomes, some real and some imagined, that followed that money.

By the 15th century, the medieval church, while it had clergy who still played by the Bible’s rules, was a disgraced institution, embroiled in war, debauchery, financial corruption, murder, sloth, and just about every other vice attendant upon too much money and too much power. The Reformation was inevitable and quite necessary, even if it did at times go too far. But reformation is a bloody business, as the Thirty Years War and all other Renaissance era religious wars demonstrate.

Modern science is the equivalent of the medieval church. Indeed, like the church, it even has its faithful who, its faults notwithstanding, insist upon its infallibility and are ready to burn at the stake anyone who denies its righteousness.

The Church of Science has sacraments that cannot be questioned and must be followed:

  • Abortion, which can never be tempered by such considerations as the child’s life versus the woman’s;
  • Anthropogenic climate change, which long ago parted ways with scientific principles and is now an irrefutable dogma that answers all human and natural phenomena, even if the answers ought to be conflicting, and that treats all questioners as heretics fit for excommunication or even death;
  • Hostility to genetically modified food, despite the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that this food is dangerous and a great deal of evidence, as is the case with golden rice, that it can save the lives of impoverished children; and
  • The mutability and, indeed, irrelevance of biological sex differences because, as modern scientific dogma holds, human feelings trump sexual genetics and biology (unless of course one is “born gay,” in which case biology is immutable).

Not only has the Church of Science become as intellectually corrupt as the medieval Catholic Church once was, it’s become as practically corrupt. Today’s scientific monks don’t break their vows by having sex; instead, they ignore true scientific doctrine by publishing false studies, and by doing so in ever increasing numbers.

I have to head out now but, since you are all usually much smarter and more insightful than I am, I bet that your comments can help develop my idea. I’d love to hear from you.

Planned Parenthood in Perspective

DenethorFor my first post as a guest here at Bookworm I was contemplating many different topics, mostly concerning dealing with the Social Justice Mob. But then I saw the horrific undercover video of Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola admitting and conspiring to sell fetal body parts. Seeing that video, with Nucatola eating and drinking wine while non-chalantly discussing how they will alter procedures based on the body part in need struck a nerve. That momemnt reminded me of a scene from Lord of The Rings, The Return of the King where Pippen is tasked to sing as song for Denethor as he sends his son out for sure death.

UPDATE: Well that didn’t take long. Google removed my video mashup that intertwined the planned parenthood video with the LOTR cut. No worries though, I give them two you side by side. It is quite obvious as the director\doctor from Planned Parenthood so casually discusses “the menu” of body parts while sipping wine and stuffing her face with salad; you get the drift.

Regardless of what you think about abortion you should be horrified and saddened at what Planned Parenthood is doing. To think that they are turning babies breech to save heads, adding unnecessary complications for the sake of a sale. To think that they could be advising a young girl to have an abortion knowing that if they talk her into it they would have another part to add to “the menu”. This is beyond reprehensible. As Pippen said, “we have no songs for great halls in evil times”.

The Bookworm Beat 4-10-15 — the mother of all round-ups

Woman writingThis is it — the ultimate round-up, consisting of more than 20 links that I’ve collected over the past couple of days and wanted to share with you. Nothing works better at squeezing a nice long blog post than a series of legal pleadings I really don’t want to write. By the way, these squiblets aren’t in any particular order, so you never know what gems you might not find as you scroll down.

The weakening of the Leftist mind

In an earlier post, I wrote about the fact that our younger generation has turned into a passive, sheeple generation, meekly towing the Leftist party line. Astute readers pointed out that, aside from the 1960s children, who were spoon-fed their rebellion by communist spies, past Americans generations also weren’t given to a rebellion. That’s true — but at least past generations were taught analytical and reasoning skills. If they desired, they could analyze and challenge their era’s zeitgeist. Our current generation can’t.

And how do I know I’m correct in reaching that conclusion? Because my reasoning coincidences with Daniel Greenfield’s. In a post about the closing of the liberal mind, Greenfield explains how so-called “liberals” have reduced themselves to this state:

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The Bookworm Beat 12/14/14 — Sunday round-up and Open Thread

Woman writingI’ve been going through my email, as well as through my “real me” Facebook today, and I find some interesting — and surprising — things. Here goes:

The Islamic hostage crisis in Sydney

My thoughts and prayers are with the hostages trapped in the Lindt Cafe in Sydney, Australia’s historic Martin Place. The main indication that the siege is Islamic in nature is the fact that the hostage taker has forced the hostages to hold in the window the Islamic Shahada statements, which contains the Koranic verse asserting Allah’s and Mohammed’s preeminence: “There is no god but Allah, Mohammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

Despite the Shahada’s centrality to Islam (merely saying this credo is all that’s necessary to convert to Islam), Australia’s Muslims are professing complete bewilderment at the way in which some people around the world are saying that, given the Shahada’s role in the hostage crisis, the crisis is probably tied to Islam in some way:

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The Bookworm Beat (10/15/14) — Looking for the Apocalypse edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingSorry for the downer title, but the news is anything but good, wherever one looks. At the home front we’ve had flat tires, broken bones, and dead phones. (The broken bone belongs to my exchange student, who is disappointed, but not too terribly damaged, thank goodness.)  The past few day’s headlines haven’t done anything to cheer me up, either.

Because I like to share, I’m passing my temporary existential despair on to all of you. And just to make you feel a little worse, let me add that our current administration, rather than trying to pull the rip-cord on the parachute so that we don’t hit bottom, is instead trying to cut the parachute’s suspension lines.

How bad is Obama? So bad that even Democrats view him as toxic

Republicans didn’t run away from Bush until 2008. Here it is, only 2014, and Democrats are treating Obama as if he’s radioactive. (The link is to a Wall Street Journal article. If you can’t read the article, try googling the title for an accessible link.)

Michael Dolan explains how Obama got what he wanted: A partnership with Iran

Obama came into office promising to work with Iran. It turns out that, as is true of all the promises he made that were deleterious to America’s well-being , he kept this one. (It’s a useful yardstick, incidentally: Promises about things that will help Americans? Obama breaks. Promises about things that will hurt Americans, America, and America’s allies? Obama keeps.)

Michael Dolan, who is a senior fellow of the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution and was both a former deputy assistant secretary of defense and a former senior director of the National Security Council, has been looking at Obama’s conduct since ISIS appeared on the scene and figured out Obama’s game-plan: Obama is using ISIS as a way to partner with Iran.

Obama is engaging in this de facto partnership with Iran, even though, as Dolan also explains, doing so allows Iran to go nuclear. A nuclear Iran destroys any balance of power in the region, not to mention threatening Israel and Europe. Moreover, it’s worth remembering that as a Shia state, Iran doesn’t just believe in the apocalypse, it believes that it has a mission from Allah to bring about the Apocalypse itself. (In this, Iran is quite distinct from Christians who believe in an Apocalypse, but who dread it and do nothing to cause it.)  There’s nothing like a nuclear bomb to get a little Apocalypsing started.

To go on, Obama partners with Iran even though it means turning our backs on the Saudis who, while horribly rotten, are less horribly rotten than Iran and have been our allies for a long time. He does even though partnering with the mullahs is a slap in the face to those Iranians who are yearning to breathe at least a little more free (just as Obama ignored them during their attempted Green revolution). He does even though Iran has been funding the worst kind of terrorism — much of it aimed at America — for decades. And he does this even though Iran has made it clear that it still has as its goal the destruction of Israel and America, and the establishment of a world-wide Islamic caliphate.

Obama is Iran’s useful idiot, helping it to make sure that any caliphate the emerges isn’t Sunni and ISIS-controlled, but is instead Shia and Iran-controlled. Put another way, Obama isn’t just another Leftist ideologue; he’s a truly evil man who affirmatively seeks out the devil as a dancing partner.

Media ghasties and ghoulies

If you want to get your scare on before Halloween, watch Andrea Mitchell trying to save Abortion Barbie from her tasteless, desperate, sleazy attacks in Texas on Greg Abbott. You know what I was thinking when I watched that? I was thinking “Mommy, make those mean, scary ladies go away!”

The New York Times uses Britain’s embrace of Hamas as a reason to chastise Israel

When does a media outlet cross over from being partisan and become evil? I actually think the New York Times just rolled across that line with its latest editorial about Israel.

As you may recall, the British Parliament voted endorsing the idea of recognizing a Palestinian state. A media outlet with a decent moral compass would have attacked England for supporting a “state” that has nothing state-like about it: It’s government is run like a mafia institution, it has no economy and no infrastructure, and its idea of “human rights” is to deny women, Jews, Christians, and homosexuals status as humans. Anyone of common decency would recognize that it is a disgusting reflection on modern England that its Parliament would side with a grotesque, corrupt, tyranny with only murder on its mind.

But the Times knows who the bad guy is in this case and it’s Israel — for daring to build more Jewish homes in historically Jewish neighborhoods. Or as the Times editorial board puts it:

The vote is one more sign of the frustration many people in Europe feel about the failure to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement despite years of promises.

Funnily enough, the editorial makes no mention of the fact that the Palestinians have contributed exactly nothing to peace talks, negotiations, and compromise. In Times-land, this one is all on the Jews.

I used to say that the Times was good only for lining bird cages. It’s dropped in my estimation. It might, just might, be useful as a repository for the blood, vomit, and diarrhea of an Ebola patient, but I suspect it would perform even that most basic waste-collection function badly.

The New York Times also brings its evilness to the subject of chemical weapons in Iraq

When the Iraq War was Bush’s war, the New York Times led the charge of those claiming that Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction. Now, without even a blink at its volte face, it’s leading the charge to claim that Bush is evil because he exposed American troops to Saddam Hussein’s store of chemical weapons — i.e., weapons of mass destruction — in Iraq.

I’m not letting the Times perfidy blind me to the fact that American troops have suffered because the Bush Pentagon left them ill-prepared to come across WMDS. After all, if you’re claiming a war to wipe out WMDs, you should probably have systems in place to protect your troops. The Pentagon’s failings, though, don’t make me any less disgusted with the Times.

Let me count the ways in which the Democrat party is the party of death

Democrats may get all teary eyed when cold-blooded murderers meet their makers in a gas chamber after due process, but they’re pretty cavalier about most other deaths. They don’t mind a steely-eyed Obama sending drones to attack Pakistani and Yemenite civilians. They’re okay with grandma being sidelined by the Obama death panel. They assume that the vets who died on the VA’s watch were probably baby killers.  They’re copacetic with suicide if life is just too tough.

Oh, and one more thing:  abortion is empowering. Not just a necessary evil, which is an argument many Americans might support, but empowering and a “social good.” I’m betting that’s exactly the way Heinrich Himmler felt when he organized the Holocaust.

If you ever wondered why knowing geography matters….

Marin General Hospital had an Ebola scare because its staff confused the Middle East with West Africa. The country’s in the very best of hands….

Pigs are flying because I agree with Paul Krugman

Don’t worry, I don’t agree with Krugman about anything substantive. I do, however, think he’s correct when he says “Obama, although clearly not the natural politician, he is a consequential president.”

Where Krugman and I part ways is that Krugman thinks Obama is consequential in a good way, whereas I think Obama’ss consequential status relates to the fact that he’s inflicted such terrible damage on our once-thriving capitalist, constitutional, sovereign nation that we may take decades to recover, assuming we ever can. There’s no saying, after all, whether it’s possible to recover from a wrecked economy, socialized medicine, destroyed borders, a dysfunctional military facing an existential threat, and diseases that resist modern medicine, especially when such medicine is ineptly administered.

The Washington Post says Ebola isn’t really all that bad

Trying to strike an optimistic tone, the Washington Post says that Ebola isn’t as bad as it could be. It notes that (so far, at least), not everyone who came into contact with the Liberian who brought the disease to Dallas has gotten infected, and we definitely have better ways to treat symptoms than they do in West Africa. Still, even though the WaPo is trying to make lemonade from lemons, our broken borders and the Democrats’ funding priorities (which did not include focusing on plague-like infectious diseases) all mean that I’m not sanguine.

When it comes to Ebola and the media, I agree with Benjamin Shapiro

To follow-up on my point about the WaPo’s peculiar optimism, Benjamin Shapiro sums up the media’s relationship to Ebola, which is that it matters only when it affects the media itself. His starting point is media personality Nancy Snyderman’s decision to get herself some soup, despite the fact that she was technically quarantined, along with a crew member:

It’s one thing for Liberian citizen Thomas Eric Duncan to carry around an Ebola-ridden woman, get on an airplane to Dallas, walk into a hospital with symptoms, and then walk out again. Such behavior can be attributed, at least in part, to ignorance. It’s another thing entirely for a highly educated medical professional to endanger those around her for some miso.

But that’s the world of the media, where the proper response to the possibility of contracting Ebola is, “Don’t you know who I am?” Double standards abound here; media members lather Americans into a frenzy over the threat of a disease that has, to date, claimed a grand total of one life in the United States. Then they go out for lunch in public after being told that they could be carrying the virus.

The Snyderman story is truly part of a broader egocentrism in the media. The media didn’t give one whit about the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative non-profit applicants — but they went absolutely batty over the Department of Justice targeting reporters. The media don’t seem to care very much about demands for transparency from the Obama administration by the American public — but they’re fighting mad about the Obama administration’s refusal to let them photograph him golfing. After all, it’s one thing for normal Americans to get stiffed, and quite another for our betters to feel the effects of government’s heavy hand.

Canada’s Supreme Court says quoting the Bible re homosexuality is a hate crime

Yes, the Bible is not nice about homosexuals. Indeed, it’s so not nice that Canada’s Supreme Court has determined that someone who cites to the Bible in opposition to homosexual conduct is guilty of a hate crime.

Here’s the acid test, though: Would the Supreme Court reach the same ruling if it was asked to determine whether someone quoting from the Quar’an in opposition to Jews is also guilty of a hate crime? Somehow I doubt it, but maybe I’m just too cynical for my own good.

Paul Kengor is right that conservative radio is committing suicide by greed

I only listen to conservative talk radio when I’m in the car . . . but lately I’m never able to listen to conservative talk radio when I’m in the car. The reason for my inability to listen is because I’m usually in the car for short hauls and, when I tune in to the local talk radio stations, all I get is advertisements.

From the top of the hour until seven minutes past the hour . . . advertisements. From nineteen minutes past the hour until thirty-five minutes past the hour . . . advertisements (including the show’s host saying “Welcome back, and now for a word from our sponsors.”) The same pattern applies in the second half of the hour. Because I usually need to be at places on the hour or the half-hour, I invariably find myself tuning in to those fourteen or so minutes of advertising at the top or the bottom of the clock face. So lately, I haven’t even bothered to try. I just listen to music or call my sister.

And why are we in this terrible situation? Greed, says Paul Kengor:

Why so much junk? To pay the costs, of course. But more specifically, to pay the gigantic, unsustainable fees these shows demand.

[skip]

Of course, it’s a free market. Rush and other hosts are free to earn whatever they receive. But also because it’s a free market, their stations and listeners are free to bolt. What surprises me is the degree to which some conservative hosts are willing to let their stations and listeners bolt, even as they rake in piles of money. I’m especially surprised at how these hosts are willing to allow their excellent product to be diluted and damaged by an intolerable stream of annoying advertisements.

It seems to me that these conservative hosts—champions of the free market—are not listening to the free market. In my local market, Rush and Hannity and Glenn Beck have lost a 50,000-watt blow-torch in favor of a vastly inferior 7,000-watt signal that will be heard by far fewer listeners.

I love Rush, but even he’s not worth listening to ten minutes of commercials during a 15 minute drive.

I leased an electric car, so oil prices dropped

I’m never kidding when I say that the moment I enter the stock market the market drops and the moment I pull out the market rises. I just have that kind of timing.

My timing means it’s no surprise to me at all that, now that I’ve leased an electric car so as not to run up huge gas bills driving a minivan around for local errands, oil prices are plummeting. At our nearest ARCO, which sells the cheapest gas in Southern Marin, prices have dropped by about 20 cents per gallon in the past two weeks. That’s huge.

Power Line wonders if the Saudis are doing this on purpose in an effort to undercut America’s booming oil business. Could be. I’m not sure, though, that the Saudis have the oil resources to play this kind of price-cutting game. I recall from a discussion at my blog many years ago someone who worked in the oil industry saying that Saudi wells are finally running try. It seems to be a perilous game to drop prices when you’re running out of product to sell.

Will all these oil and electric cars soon be obsolete anyway?

Remember how, in Back to the Future, Doc perfected time travel using the energy from nuclear fusion? Well, we may soon be doing a little time travel ourselves, because Lockheed says the future is now (or at least just ten years from now):

Lockheed Martin Corp said on Wednesday it had made a technological breakthrough in developing a power source based on nuclear fusion, and the first reactors, small enough to fit on the back of a truck, could be ready for use in a decade.

Anything that will break the back of the Muslim oil nations and silences the stupidity of the environ-mental-ists can’t come soon enough for me.

Lovely Lena leans . . . and so do several other old-time Hollywood beauties

Robert Avrech isn’t just a brilliant writer and thinker. He’s also extraordinarily knowledgeable about old Hollywood — the Hollywood of the Turner Classic Movies I watch with so much love.

Avrech recently wrote a beautifully illustrated post about the leaning boards that Hollywood’s leading ladies reclined upon to get the weight off their feet without ruining costumes so tight or elaborate that the actresses were often sewn into them. In a comment, I contributed my mite by pointing out that, in Singin’ In The Rain, Lena Lamont, the lovely lady with the horrible voice, and a personality that was even worse, was seen leaning on one of those boards. Robert, bless his heart, went out of his way to update the post to add a picture of the lovely Lena leaning.

Superheroes, anyone?

At the most recent Watcher’s Council forum, the Watcher asked us, if we could be a superhero, which one would we be? Because my weekend passed in an alcoholic stupor (except without any alcohol, but only the stupor part), I completely missed the forum. If asked, I would have said Superman, simply because he’s always been my favorite superhero. Tune in here to see what other Council members had to say.

The Bookworm Beat — 9/3/14 “what makes Progressives tick” edition

Woman writingYahoo News had a short photo essay about transparent animals. I’m by way of being a transparent animal myself this year. Thanks to bone and muscle breakdowns, surgery, and anemia, I’ve been cut open, scanned, x-rayed, probed, and pretty much turned inside out in an effort to repair what’s wrong.

Of course, there is no real repair. What’s wrong is can be summed up in two words: “tick” and “tock.” Certainly some of my complaints can be alleviated, but absent a drinkable fountain of youth, I’m just going to have to be grateful that things aren’t worse. What really makes me grumpy is my knees. I can ignore pretty much everything else, but knees do tend to make themselves known throughout the day.

That’s my whine. I’ve tried not to be a whiner lately, but today seemed like a good day. It was so much easier to focus on my own aches and pains than to turn my eyes outwards and look at the world’s agony. Things are not going well. I’ll spare you the laundry list of Obama failures (Noemie Emery does it better than I ever could), and simply say that the world is not a healthy place when America checks out.

The big mystery, as always, is what the heck is going on in Obama’s head?  Former Obama cheerleader, and current Obama critic, Ron Fournier tortures himself with that question:

I’m puzzled by Obama.

A calm, deliberative presence in the aftermath of the rush-to-misjudgment Bush era, Obama can nonetheless choose words that remind Americans of his role in the assassination of Osama bin Laden and countless other terrorists. Denouncing the Islamic State for the beheading of a second American journalist, Obama declared, “Our reach is long, and justice will be served.” He’s believable.

At the same time, he’s maddeningly indecisive, unclear, and defensive—or, as Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein said on Sunday, maybe he’s “too cautious.” Once, early in Wednesday’s news conference, Obama mentioned almost in passing the threat posed “to U.S. interests.” Much later, he spoke for a third time about dangers to the region, with no mention the United States.

Perhaps Fournier is puzzled because he still believes that, hiding somewhere within this distant, cold, lazy, dismissive, self-involved calculating man is the light-bringer Fournier and others like him worshiped back in 2008. Even having lost his faith in Obama, Fournier still clings to the memory, just as a long-abandoned church hints at that faint, sweet, sacred smell of incense.

I’m not so puzzled about Obama’s motives. I decided long ago that he’s a man short on book-learning, but long on the feral, manipulative intelligence that comes with being both a narcissist and a Leftist. Although his only God is the man he sees in the mirror, to the extent he has an affinity for any faith, that faith is Islam. Indeed, if your basic nature is God-worship, rather than free will — and most especially so if you’re the God at issue — you’re going to like a religion that urges its followers to subordinate themselves utterly to your God’s every utterance, whether it issues directly from your own lips, or is disseminated through your various prophets (or, as we call them nowadays, political hacks, mouthpieces, and reporters).

While Obama seems reasonably clear to me, I’m too am puzzled about the fact that the half of America still invested in Obama seems so cavalier about the rising threat from ISIS. Technically speaking, ISIS shouldn’t be a threat to America.  I’m absolutely confident that if the full force of our military — even our diminished military — were to be unleashed on ISIS and related entities, those misbegotten militants would be wiped out in short order.

But of course we never will unleash that full military force, in part because we Americans (especially the royal “I, me, my, and we” currently occupying the White House) lack the political will and, in significant part, because we hold ourselves to a higher standard than mass slaughter. It’s not only the Geneva Convention that controls us. Just as Israel tried desperately to fight a “humane war” (an oxymoron if there ever was one), America too tries to fight a good war. Good wars tend to drag because, lacking Sherman’s carefully targeted depredations of the civilian populations giving “aid and succor” to the combatants, war is inefficient.

Aside from our morality, America is hampered by the Left’s fervent belief that our military is evil and our enemy misunderstood. Leftist pressure means that American troops are forced to go beyond moral decency and into the realm of mandated suicide. (As a somewhat related aside, on September 9, you can buy Bing West’s One Million Steps: A Marine Platoon at War, which I’m now reading. It’s uplifting reading because it presents brave young Americans who have a fundamental belief that their country is valuable and deserves to be defended; it’s depressing reading because you see how Leftist war theory, as carried out under a Commander in Chief who manifestly dislikes his military, means that those same decent lives are cruelly snuffed out or those healthy young bodies destroyed — never forgetting that these sacrifices aren’t even made in the name of victory but, instead, are for the purpose of retreat.)

Now where was I? Oh, I remember. I was leading up to the threat that is ISIS. Yes, we could destroy ISIS swiftly, but we won’t. More to the point, Obama has made it very clear that he’s not going there. In a speech that should live in infamy, Obama held up the ISIS threat as a bureaucratic mess-up that should yield to dry, technocratic oversight in the field — never mind that Obama has utterly alienated the Muslim countries he expects to do the ISIS clean-up.

Obama sounds defeated before he’s even left the starting gate. He doesn’t speak of victory; instead, he wearily speaks of containment:

We know that if we are joined by the international community, we can continue to shrink ISIL’s sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities to the point where it is a manageable problem.

And the question is going to be making sure we’ve got the right strategy but also making sure we’ve got the international will to do it. This is something that is a continuation of a problem we’ve seen certainly since 9/11, but before and it continues to metastasize in different ways. And what we’ve got to do is make sure that we are organizing the Arab world, the Middle East, the Muslim world, along with the international community to isolate this cancer.

This particular brand of extremism that is first and foremost destructive to the Muslim world and the Arab World and North Africa and the people who live there. They’re the ones who are most severely affected. They’re the ones who are constantly under threat of being killed. They’re the ones whose economies are completely upended to the point where they can’t produce their own food and they can’t produce the kinds of goods and services to sell in the world marketplace.

And they’re falling behind because of this very small and narrow but very dangerous segment of the population. And we’ve got to combat it in a sustained, effective way. And I’m confident we’re going to be able to do that.

Try to imagine Churchill making mealy-mouthed sounds about manageable problems and organizing international communities so that he can oversee them as they get rid of a cancer in their midst. Obama’s bureaucratic mindset is pretty small potatoes when compared to Churchill’s stirring call to arms:

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

Fundamentally, Obama makes it clear that he doesn’t really think America is at risk — which is a most peculiar view to hold a mere 13 years (almost to the day) after another small band of Islamic fundamentalists housed in the Middle East managed to kill almost 3,000 innocent souls in a matter of hours. It’s a peculiar view to hold when ISIS has shown its willingness to slaughter children, crucify Christians, commit genocide against ancient Christian populations, and march half-naked men whom it determines are the “wrong” kind of Muslims out into the middle of nowhere only to gun them all down. It’s a peculiar view to hold when ISIS boastfully beheads two American citizens, just because they’re American (and Islamists do love their beheadings). It’s a peculiar view to hold when 11 commercial jets have gone missing from Libya, a country that Obama practically handed to the Islamists and one that still has in its soil the blood of a US Ambassador and three other Americans. It’s a peculiar view to hold when British and American Muslims, complete with British and American passports, are cheerfully heading off to join ISIS, knowing that they can and will, just as cheerfully, return home to blow up Americans.

One of my friends thinks Obama’s passive, sanguine attitude is difficult to reconcile with his fervent support of the Chicago way, complete with that whole thing about bringing a gun to a knife fight. I think the answer to this apparent conundrum may lie in something Ben Domenech wrote while commenting upon Hillary Clinton’s ridiculously strong corporate ties, something that seems to offend her Progressive followers not one whit (emphasis mine):

History may ultimately consider Obama’s 2008 nomination as a representation not of progressivism’s resurgent appeal, but as its death rattle—a speed bump along the way to the Democratic Party’s becoming a fully corporatist, Clinton-owned entity. In practice, the party now resembles a protection racket with an army of volunteers, with friends who never suffer and enemies who never relax. And who are those enemies? Not big business or Wall Street, which has paid their way to new alliances; not America’s insurers, whose products Democrats have made it illegal not to buy; not privacy-challenging government, which Obama has expanded to unprecedented degrees. No, the only enemies who really matter to today’s Democratic Party are those wayward intolerant social-policy traditionalists with their un-American views of religious liberty.

Hillary was deemed unacceptable in 2008 for being wrong on the top progressive priorities: the war and civil liberties. Now those priorities have shifted, and a candidate who voted for the Iraq War and the Patriot Act can denounce Edward Snowden as a lawbreaker without compunction. For today’s left, social progressivism is the glue that binds the whole project. It’s no accident that this is the one policy aspect on which Hillary has been forced into compliance: For her party, it is the only ideological position that really matters—everything else is window dressing. Hillary’s top five all-time donors are a perfect reflection of this: Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase & Co., the law firm DLA Piper, and—in the lone nod to ideology—EMILY’s List. There are few better representations of the factions that inform the Democratic Party’s policy priorities in the Clintonian age: Wall Street, big law, and puritanical social leftists, for whom the only non-negotiables are abortion, gay marriage, and free birth control.

The only thing missing from that trinity of abortion, gay rights, and birth control is race victimization. In other words, Progressives, from Obama on down, have met the enemy, and it is YOU. They’ve even got the t-shirt to show for it:

Rather get stopped by terrorists

Hobby Lobby reveals how public and private spheres have changed in the last few decades

Church rejects Obama as GodBack in the 1980s, when I was a good ol” liberal Democrat (sort of in the Kennedy mold), I kept hearing those Bible Thumpers in the Moral Majority bandy about a word: “Secularist.”

What the heck was that? Nobody I knew (and everyone I knew was a person of the sort-of Left) called him or herself a “secularist.”

What in the world did those zealots mean by labeling me that way and pretending that I’m doing something damaging to them? I understood what was really going on:  Very religious people were abnormal, and then there were the rest of us who were non-religious, or slightly religious in a genteel, non-obtrusive fashion.  The fact that our “religion”  closely paralleled the Democrat Party platform, meaning that laws were informed by our “religious” values was just a coincidence.

We were not foisting anything on them.  If anything, they were the foisters, especially with their stupid pro-Life values.

I’ve obviously come a long way from then, haven’t I?

One of the things that helped me on my journey to rationality was Stephen Carter’s The Culture of Disbelief. It was he who explained to me that to hold values in opposition to traditional Christianity is itself a value system.

Bingo! Light bulb moment. As of 1994, I finally understood what the Moral Majority was complaining about. I didn’t yet agree with the values they advanced, but I instantly became much more sympathetic to their complaints about Leftist, secular culture encroaching upon them.

The societal change Carter noted — that the absence of religious values (as opposed to religious doctrine) was taking over the public forum — has only accelerated in recent years. I actually hadn’t thought about it in any specific way until I read Megan McArdle’s very thoughtful post about the Left’s hysteria in response to the Supreme Court’s extremely narrow, common-sensical Hobby Lobby ruling.

For conservatives, even non-religious ones, the ruling’s correctness was a no-brainer:  The holding that government cannot compel people to purchase a product inconsistent with core doctrinal beliefs is true both to the Constitution and to the traditional American ethos of keeping the state out of people’s religion.

But what if the state itself is the people’s religion? McArdle believes that this trend, which sees public space co-opted by non-religious beliefs that have been themselves elevated to absolute “values” explains much of the hysteria, not among the professional Left, but among ordinary DemProgs.  The change in attitude McArdle notes explains both why Leftists cannot appreciate the seriousness of the issue for religious people and why they do not view the Obama administration’s actions as coercive.

I’m quoting McArdle at some length here, because the logic underlying her theory is so tightly constructed, it’s difficult for me to quote her without doing damage to her reasoning.  I urge you, though, to read the whole thing:

I think a few things are going on here. The first is that while the religious right views religion as a fundamental, and indeed essential, part of the human experience, the secular left views it as something more like a hobby, so for them it’s as if a major administrative rule was struck down because it unduly burdened model-train enthusiasts. That emotional disconnect makes it hard for the two sides to even debate; the emotional tenor quickly spirals into hysteria as one side says “Sacred!” and the other side says, essentially, “Seriously? Model trains?” That shows in Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s dissent, where it seems to me that she takes a very narrow view of what role religious groups play in the lives of believers and society as a whole.

The second, and probably more important, problem is that the long compromise worked out between the state and religious groups — do what you want within very broad limits, but don’t expect the state to promote it — is breaking down in the face of a shift in the way we view rights and the role of the government in public life.

To see what I mean, consider an argument I have now heard hundreds of times — on Facebook, in my e-mail, in comment threads here and elsewhere: “Hobby Lobby’s owners have a right to their own religious views, but they don’t have a right to impose them on others.”As I wrote the day the decision came out, the statement itself is laudable, yet it rings strange when it’s applied to this particular circumstance. How is not buying you something equivalent to “imposing” on you?

I think you can understand this, however, as the clash of principles designed for a world of negative rights, in a society that has come to embrace substantial positive rights — as well as a clash between old and new concepts of what is private and what is public.

All of us learned some version of “You have the right to your beliefs, but not to impose them on others” in civics class. It’s a classic negative right. And negative rights are easy to make reciprocal: You have a right to practice your religion without interference, and I have a right not to have your beliefs imposed on me.

This works very well in situations in which most of the other rights granted by society are negative rights, because negative rights don’t clash very often. Oh, sure, you’re going to get arguments about noise ordinances and other nuisance abatements, but unless your religious practices are extreme indeed, the odds that they will substantively violate someone else’s negative rights are pretty slim.

[snip]

Alongside this development, as Yuval Levin has pointed out, we have seen an ongoing shift, particularly on the left, in the balance between what constitutes the private and the public spheres, and who has powers in which sphere. There’s a reductive tendency in modern political discourse to view public versus private as the state versus the individual.

In the 19th century, the line between the individual and the government was just as firm as it is now, but there was a large public space in between that was nonetheless seen as private in the sense of being mostly outside of government control — which is why we still refer to “public” companies as being part of the “private” sector. Again, in the context of largely negative rights, this makes sense. You have individuals on one end and a small state on the other, and in the middle you have a large variety of private voluntary institutions that exert various forms of social and financial coercion, but not governmental coercion — which, unlike other forms of coercion, is ultimately enforced by the government’s monopoly on the legitimate use of violence.

[snip]

[O]utside of our most intimate relationships, almost everything else is now viewed as public, which is why Brendan Eich’s donation to an anti-gay-marriage group became, in the eyes of many, grounds for firing.

For many people, this massive public territory is all the legitimate province of the state. Institutions within that sphere are subject to close regulation by the government, including regulations that turn those institutions into agents of state goals — for example, by making them buy birth control for anyone they choose to employ. It is not a totalitarian view of government, but it is a totalizing view of government; almost everything we do ends up being shaped by the law and the bureaucrats appointed to enforce it. We resolve the conflict between negative and positive rights by restricting many negative rights to a shrunken private sphere where they cannot get much purchase.

Put another way, once upon time, things not directly within the government purview were neutral territory in which I didn’t impose upon or demand from you, and you didn’t impose upon and demand from me.  We might have thought the other excessively moral or immoral, but we danced together in uneasy harmony.

Beginning in the 1980s, though, the Left co-opted the public space, declaring that it was not neutral territory but was, instead, government territory.  Further, because Leftists deny that their belief in non-Christian values is itself a value, they insist that by doing so they’re not infringing on First Amendment rights.  They insist upon this denial even as they promote and guard their own secular faith with all the vehemence of a true religious zealot.

The Obama healthcare mandate reflects the fact that, for the Left, the distinction between your private religious space and all the other public government faith space has morphed again.  Now, as a person of faith, the only space you have that’s yours is within the four walls of your home.  Everything else is within the public purview, meaning that it’s under government control and government values (which are, by definition, statist, hostile to matters of faith, and identical to the Democrat platform).  With this rejiggered view of public and private, the government is not infringing upon your religion if it imposes obligations on you (even obligations that directly contradict your faith) as long as it is not constraining you within your own home.

Put another way, the DemProg interpretation of the First Amendment’s promise that the government cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion boils down to this:  I can’t force you to pay for or perform an abortion on your own daughter (provided she lives in your house), but I am not impinging on your faith if I force you to pay for or perform an abortion on your neighbor’s daughter.   Under this definition, your objection to paying for or performing that abortion on the neighbor’s child constitutes an unreasonable attempt to enforce religious values in the public arena.