The Bookworm Beat 1/21/15 — “Post-SOTU” edition and Open Thread

Woman writingI didn’t watch the SOTU. Aside from finding Obama a boring, inelegant speaker, I was helping a client with trial prep. Today, the trial got continued for a few months so, before settling in for a nice 12 hour sleep (I wish!), I can blog — and share with you, among other things, a couple of my favorite SOTU analyses. I’ve got a lot to say, so I’ll just start saying….

My two favorite SOTU wrap-ups

As I admitted above, I did not watch the SOTU, so I can’t actually say if these wrap-ups are accurate. I can just say that I liked them.

From Neo-Neocon:

But Obama long ago concluded that the best defense is a good offense. He has never had to face the consequences of his failures. He has been able to fool most of the people most of the time, at least when it counted. He has skated past disaster after disaster, and gotten away with lie after lie. The biggest repercussion he’s been met with—the 2014 Democratic defeat in Congress—may not stop him. Republicans are somewhat toothless, in part because they are divided among themselves but also because Obama has veto power that will be difficult to override. He’s also got that phone and that pen, and the will to use them. He has successfully transformed the US into a second-rate power and allies into enemies (or at least, into abandoned and confused ex-allies). And he has turned enemies into, if not allies, then gloating and stronger forces in the world for whatever evil they’ve got in mind.

It’s actually worked out very well for Obama. So why not brag?

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The Bookworm Beat 1/14/15 — The interesting odds and ends edition

Woman writingI’m not sure I can discern any common threads in this edition of the Bookworm Beat, other than the fact that each link is to something interesting.

History will eviscerate Obama

New York Magazine had an encomium to the wonders of the Obama presidency. It then invited Christopher Caldwell to do a rebuttal — and rebut he did:

These [healthcare reform and gay marriage] are, however, typical Obama achievements. They are triumphs of tactics, not consensus-building. Obamacare involved quid pro quos (the “Cornhusker Kickback,” the “Louisiana Purchase,” etc.) that passed into Capitol Hill lore, accounting and parliamentary tricks to render the bill unfilibusterable, and a pure party-line vote in the Senate. You can call it normal politics, but Medicare did not pass that way. Gay marriage has meant Cultural Revolution–style bullying of dissenters (notoriously, Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty and the Mozilla founder Brendan Eich). You can call this normal politics, too, but the 1964 Civil Rights Act did not pass that way.

Read the rest here.

Will the real Barack Obama please stand up?

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The Bookworm Beat 12/30/14 — The madness of crowds and Open Thread

Woman writingDo you find it as ironic as I do that those of us who champion diffusing power amongst the people, rather than centralizing it in the government, are the ones who are on the receiving end of the madness of the crowds? In other words — and here’s the irony — even as we champion the wisdom of the people, the people are proving to be exceptionally unwise, especially when it comes to race relations. Already in 1841, Charles Mackay had a name for it: Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. We seem to be living through another one of those times when rationalism takes flight.

And speaking of which:

Thomas Sowell mourns a modern age, in which facts aren’t stubborn, they’re ignored

That true patriot, John Adams, successfully defended the British soldiers accused after the Boston Massacre. In pre-revolutionary American — and Adams was central to that revolutionary mindset — that was an unpopular thing to do. Nevertheless, Adams was a principled man. He understood that, in a civil society, even unpopular people are entitled to have a friend at their side in a criminal trial and that, no matter how awful the accusations, the facts should triumph. After all, as Adams famously said, “facts are stubborn things.”

The Left understands that facts are stubborn things. It also understands that the way to deal with stubborn facts is to ignore them, steamroll them, deny them, twist them, and generally obfuscate them so thoroughly that an uneducated, malleable, easily manipulated population couldn’t care less about those stubborn facts. As Sowell explains, facts, rather than being stubborn, are obsolete:

Some of us, who are old enough to remember the old television police series Dragnet may remember Sergeant Joe Friday saying, “Just the facts, ma’am.” But that would be completely out of place today. Facts are becoming obsolete, as recent events have demonstrated.

What matters today is how well you can concoct a story that fits people’s preconceptions and arouses their emotions. Politicians like New York mayor Bill de Blasio, professional demagogues like Al Sharpton, and innumerable irresponsible people in the media have shown that they have great talent in promoting a lynch-mob atmosphere toward the police.

Grand juries that examine hard facts live in a different world from mobs who listen to rhetoric and politicians who cater to the mobs.

Sowell then provides chapter and verse to prove his thesis. It’s very depressing.

Michael Brown — the “Gentle Giant” of Ferguson — might not have been so gentle

The video below purports to show Michael Brown (the “Gentle Giant” of Ferguson fame) cold-cocking a man in order to rob him. There’s a debate as to whether the footage is genuine, so please take that into account as you decide whether it shows Brown, or just someone remarkably similar looking, in action:

People seem to like Obama’s high-handedness

Also on the subject of the madness of crowds, don’t think it’s gone unnoticed in the White House that Obama’s popularity has jumped in the wake of his decision to govern by pen, phone, memorandum, executive order, and gentleness towards tyrannical dictatorships. It seems that, just as Italians yearned for timely trains and Germans yearned for a restoration of order after the Wiemar years, many Americans would prefer the strong hand of a demagogue to the more diffuse power of a democratic republic.

Centralized government is expensive

For reasons that elude me, Americans keep buying into the belief that having the government run things is cheaper than having a free market. Maybe if they could just get a look at the compensation packages for government employees. The San Francisco Bay Area is a case in point:

The average full-time compensation for employees of 55 North Bay cities was $130,172 in 2013, with thousands earning more than $200,000 a year and hundreds more earning more than $50,000 in overtime alone. Such compensation is significantly higher than that of peers in the private sector.

Two thousand and six North Bay municipal employees earned at least $200,000.

  • Walter Shuld, San Pablo Police Chief, earned $440,983.
  • Malcolm E. Miller, Oakland Police Officer, earned $436,256.
  • George R. Silva, Hayward Battalion Chief, earned $428,457.
  • 488 North Bay municipal employees earned at least $50,000 in overtime alone.
  • Angel Bobo, Richmond Fire Captain,, made $279,105 in overtime and $508,893 in total compensation.
  • Marc Palechek, Richmond Fire Captain, made $241,578 in overtime and $450,942 in total compensation.
  • Stanley Eng, Vallejo Police Corporal, made $221,073 in overtime and $425,660 in total compensation.

Note that most of these cities are not affluent, and some, like San Pablo and Richmond, are considered poor and troubled. Vallejo, which pays a fire captain 450K, went through bankruptcy and laid off a substantial portion of its police force.

For California overall, it’s good to be king . . . I mean, a government employee. You’ll see what I mean with this screenshot of just the top California earners (all receiving taxpayer money, of course):

Top California public employees

The Bookworm Beat 12/27/2014 — Three very interesting things

Woman writingUnlike most of my Bookworm Beats, in which I try to share with you as many articles and ideas as possible, this one’s going to be short. I have only three points I want to discuss, but I think all of them have so much merit, I don’t want them to get lost in a larger post. So, off we go….

Obama’s revenge against the American voter

Politico has published a quite fascinating article entitled “Operation Revenge.” The article’s central theme is that Obama not only intends to use his last two years in office to act without Congressional and constitutional restraints, but that he especially intends to exact revenge upon all those Republican Congressional figures who have stood in his way:

Obama’s turnaround in recent weeks – he’s seized the offensive with a series of controversial executive actions and challenges to leaders in his own party on the budget — can be attributed to a fundamental change in his political mindset, according to current and former aides. He’s gone from thinking of himself as a sitting (lame) duck, they tell me, to a president diving headlong into what amounts to a final campaign – this one to preserve his legacy, add policy points to the scoreboard, and – last but definitely not least – to inflict the same kind of punishment on his newly empowered Republican enemies, who delighted in tormenting him when he was on top.

Think about that for a moment: Our president intends to “inflict . . . punishment on his . . . Republican enemies.”

Neither Politico nor Obama seem to care about the reason those Republicans in the House have been so recalcitrant since 2010.  These fractious men and women didn’t just magically appear in the House one day.  They were there because American voters liked their promises to rein in Obama’s worst excesses.

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Call me old-fashioned, ’cause it’s true, but I think it’s untoward for a president to call someone “sexy”

obama-shirtless-hawaii-12-081If you get past the headline, which comes across as kind of shocking, and read the entire story, you see that Obama was just making a “throwaway line” joke when he said that Dr. Adam Levine, who heroically provided aid to Ebola patients in Africa, is “sexy.”  I still found that descriptor inappropriate coming from an American president.  I know I’m a different generation, but considering how important the president’s job is, I prefer a bit of gravitas.  Wit is good — indeed, I encourage it — but too much familiarity or coarseness offends me.

On Cuba, the difference between Barack Obama and John F. Kennedy

John F Kennedy and Pope Paul VIWith Obama and the Democrats reveling in having handed Fidel Castro everything in exchange for nothing (except a man who is still a committed Marxist after five years in a communist prison), I got to thinking about Pope Francis’s apparently pivotal role in this whole thing. And that got me thinking about how far we’ve come in history:

John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1960:  “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president . . . how to act. . . .”

Barack Obama, December 17, 2014:  ” His Holiness Pope Francis issued a personal appeal to me. . . .  In particular, I want to thank His Holiness Pope Francis. . . .”

In light of Obama’s dependence on the Pope in making a major and historic foreign policy initiative, a friend of mine asks “If we allow the Pope to help direct foreign policy, does that mean our government is unlawfully promoting and sanctioning a particular religion?”

And of course, when it comes to Kennedy there those little things about Cuba — such as his humiliation with the Bay of Pigs debacle, his administration’s efforts to assassinate Fidel Castro, and Castro’s allegedly reciprocal efforts to try to assassinate Kennedy.

The Bookworm Beat 12/15/14 — The truth and only the truth edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingI finally got my Christmas cards out, which is always such a Herculean task. It shouldn’t be, since I do the whole thing online. Moreover, I actually like sending out cards. The reason I delay is because I always hope that I’ll find that perfect picture of the children. At a certain point, though, I realize it’s not going to happen, and I just go with what I’ve got.

And speaking of what I’ve got, I’ve got links!!

The lying-est administration ever

I’ve been harping on Obama’s pathological lies since he was on the campaign trail in 2007 and 2008. Since institutions tend to rot from the top down, it shouldn’t be a surprise, therefore, that the entire administration is riddled with lies. Indeed, the entire Democrat party is, thanks in part to a great head start with the Clinton administration. While this rank, pervasive dishonesty is nothing new, I particularly like how Daniel Greenfield puts it:

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The Bookworm Beat 12/8/14 — Monday evening wrap-up and open thread

Woman writingNo time for an intro. I’ll just head straight for snark and links:
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The Bookworm Beat 12/6/14 — Saturday sweep-up edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingA cold has been making the rounds in my neighborhood and it finally caught up with me. I don’t feel particularly ill, but I feel congested and quite desperately sleepy. I had a great deal to do today, and mostly managed to re-read Agatha Christie’s Mrs. McGinty’s Dead, which wasn’t too taxing (and, thankfully, I’d forgotten whodunnit). I’ve now roused myself enough to clean the kitchen, do the laundry, and share with you a few browser tabs I still have open from yesterday:

The all-around best post about the Rolling Stone’s journalistic malpractice

I’ve shouted my opinion about Rolling Stone’s UVA rape story from the treetops (“It didn’t happen that way!”), and I’ve linked to several posts that agreed with me, only they did so more thoroughly, more elegantly and, most importantly, from more prominent platforms than mine.  These combined voices forced Rolling Stone to admit to gross journalistic malpractice.

Of all these bully-pulpit loud voices on the subject, my favorite is Jonah Goldberg. Writing before Rolling Stone walked back its story, Jonah Goldberg had this to say:

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The Watcher’s Council forum discusses President Obama’s executive action

Watcher's Council logoOver the weekend, Council members (plus an honored guest) offered their opinions about President Obama’s most recent executive action the one that . . . you know . . . simply does away with large sections of our legislatively passed immigration laws. I did not participate, since weekends tend to be low-writing times for me under the best circumstances. Anyway, what could I have said that would be better than what my fellow Council members said?
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A few more thoughts about Ferguson

ferguson-riotsI’ve got some errands to run, but I wanted to comment on two Washington Post articles before I go, and to reiterate a point I made in the comments to my earlier “Ferguson Open Thread.”

1. The Washington Post article about the Ferguson rioting contains this interesting passive voice statement:

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The Bookworm Beat (11/24/14) — Monday morning mish-mash (and Open Thread)

Woman writingNo intro. Just diving right in here:

Kevin Williams wins this week’s prize for best devastatingly honest statements about Obama

Kevin Williams argues that, for all his talk of change, Obama is nothing more than a little man who has stepped into a big job and is now busy reshaping the morality of public policies to fit his smallness. In proving this point, Williams, who never deviates from his polite tone, rips Obama several new ones. I’m cherry-picking here, so you really need to read the whole thing:

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