Wednesday mid-day round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesHang on to your hats, because this round-up’s a big one (and quite interesting too, I hope).

Reading through my own posts, I have a sense of a world rushing unstoppably towards something catastrophic. I think many feel this way, which is why they’re so terribly aware of the 100th anniversary of WWI’s onset, when a series of seemingly small events triggered the first of the 20th century’s blood baths.

Rather than think of current events as the beginning of the end, I’m trying to think of them as the building crisis that becomes before one can lance a boil. Lance too soon, and things only get worse. But if you let that boil come to a head, and lance it at the right moment, you kill the boil, not the patient.

It’s an ugly, graphic analogy, I know, but I often remind myself that, less than 100 years ago, shortly after WWI started, Rupert Brooke died after the battle of Gallipoli, not from a wound, but from an infected mosquito bite. It’s better if infections don’t start but, once they do, you have only a small window of time within which to defeat them.

As for Brooke, in the first heady days of WWI, when well-raised boys just out of school still viewed the war through a romantic, chivalric lens, and before the full horrors of trench warfare wiped out entirely Victorian innocence, he wrote this famous poem:

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

** 1 **

While we’re acknowledging the past, I’m sorry to report that another great member of the greatest generation has passed: Theodore “Dutch” VanKirk, the last surviving member of the crew of the Enola Gay, died at aged 93. Paul Tibbets, the plane’s pilot, speaking of VanKirk, who was his navigator, and Paul Ferebee, his bombardier, described them once as “the best qualified airmen in the outfit.” VanKirk, especially, had an uncanny knack for getting the plane precisely over the designated target.  Tibbets, VanKirk, and Ferebee, saw themselves as the Three Musketeers.

VanKirk never regretted his role in dropping the first atomic bomb:

“I honestly believe the use of the atomic bomb saved lives in the long run,” VanKirk told The Associated Press in a 2005 interview. “There were a lot of lives saved. Most of the lives saved were Japanese.”

He’s right, too. We now know that, had the war continued using traditional methods, while Japan would eventually have surrendered, it would only have done so after hundreds of thousands of civilians died on mainland Honshu. Moreover, 60,000 – 100,000 more Americans would have died. With those numbers, the atomic bomb was a no-brainer.

Dutch VanKirk, I salute you! Godspeed.

The crew of the Enola Gay viewed themselves as the "Three Musketeers" -- the pilot, the bombardier, and the navigator.

The crew of the Enola Gay viewed themselves as the “Three Musketeers” — the pilot, the bombardier, and the navigator.

** 2 **

PJ Media has put together a compendium of the way in which Hamas uses children, women, and animals — i.e., living beings within the society who have no free will — to carry out their dastardly double aims of killing Jews and manipulating world opinion.

** 3 **

Dan Gordon’s encomium to the heroes in the IDF left me in tears.

** 4 **

A black Jewish woman cries “Shame!” at those American blacks (the majority) who support Hamas against Israel. She begins by reminding them that it was the Muslims who drove the slave trade in Africa, and then goes on from there.

** 5 **

Seth Mandel claims that Hamas’s tactics show that it’s losing the ground war. No wonder Obama is doing is best, vis-a-vis Israel, to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

** 6 **

And please ignore anyone who says that anti-zionism is different from anti-Semitism. Greg cleanly kills that fallacious argument.

** 7 **

Is Israel ignoring Obama, not just because he’s a useless, pustular excrescence on the world’s body politic, but also because they’re hoping to run out the clock on Hamas’s welcome amongst the Palestinians themselves?

** 8 **

The Israeli media has hurt the State Department’s feelings — and the State Department appears incapable of understanding that Israel, like America, has a free press. This means, of course, that the media’s statements are independent of the Israeli government. The State Department, however, is acting as if the Israeli media is like Pravda, or like any of the drive-by media outlets here at home, which robotically parrot the administration’s party line.

** 9 **

I’m sorry to be so blunt, but a lot of DemProgs are just plain stupid. A blog called The Delaware Liberal has put forward its plan to end the war between Israel and Hamas. The premise, of course, is that the combatants are morally equivalent. The DL therefore proposes that there be an externally-imposed one-state solution.

This is a typical Leftist trope, with its biggest proponent being Samantha Powers. That’s the kind of stupid we already know. What makes this specific proposal a new and wonderful stupid is this paragraph:

An international intervention, first offered voluntarily and if denied, forced on the two parties…probably with the UN as a peacekeeping force but with major trusted groups from both sides providing the reorganization: ie: the Arab League, UN and maybe NATO.

Yes, because the Arab League, the UN, and NATO have been such impartial, objective friends to Israel. For anyone who lives in Reality World, all of the objective evidence currently available indicates that the UN is actively complicit in advancing Hamas’s military and genocidal goals. No wonder Roger Simon says it must be stopped. (Not that it will be stopped, especially because it’s putting into practice what America’s foreign policy leader — that would be Obama — supports in theory.)

** 10 **

Richard Fernandez wrote a great post about the denial that characterizes Washington’s view of Islamists. In a way, what’s even better than the post itself, is a comment Wretchard left to that post:

There’s an unconscious soft bigotry in the press coverage of the region. Nobody wants to accept that these exotically caparisoned militants are serious. They’re not out to ‘end the cycle of hatred’ or to ‘promote reconciliation’ or to ‘seek justice’. They are out for conquest. They are out for blood. They are determined to grind their heel into the enemy’s face and carry off everything he owns. Or, as one Iranian general put it: they are out to hunt the Jews house to house.

Yet even when they say it, we insist on misunderstanding them, as if they were retarded children, which they are not. “Surely you don’t mean that? Don’t you want a ceasefire? Of course you do. Can’t we all stand on a mountaintop and share a Coke?”

If we could only listen to ourselves we would conclude that we were loco in the coco.

The only thing that distinguishes Israel is they, alone of all the countries in the region, are the only ones willing to humor us. To put up with this crazy talk. Obama is Napoleon, in the sense that inmates in the funny farm are convinced they are the former Emperor of France. Sure boss, sure you’re Napoleon. Anybody can see that.

The Middle East is mentally at war. And the West is mentally on the happy ranch.

** 11 **

Using the Halbig decision as his starting point, Robert Tracinski has penned a mournful elegy for America’s once robust and intelligent approach to drafting laws.

** 12 **

For your convenience, fellow Watcher’s Council member Tom White (at VA Right) has put together a compendium of all the Gruber statements supporting the fact that, despite generally not knowing what was in the Obamacare bill, the Democrats in Congress definitely meant to limit subsidies to state exchanges:

** 13 **

“I was for Obamacare before I was against it.” That could be a quotation from the mouth of any college professor who thought Obamacare was a great idea (and propagandized to his students about it), but has now discovered that, when actually put into play, Obamacare is a bad deal for college professors.  I’d be laughing myself sick if they were the only ones suffering from this legislative travesty.

** 14 **

Things are starting to emerge about Lois Lerner, and I’m not talking about evidence regarding her professional capacity as the leader of an IRS program to destroy use the IRS’s incredible power to silence pro-Israel, anti-Obama voices by denying them the tax-free status awarded to DemProgs. Instead, we’re learning about Lois Lerner, the person.

For example, we now know she’s Lois Lerner the conservative hater (they’re “a**holes”):

Lois Lerner conservative hater

We’ve also learned that she’s Lois Lerner the class snob and spelling idiot (sneering at the “hoi paloi”):

Lois Lerner snob

It’s all well and good to sneer right back at Lerner, but it’s worth remember that she is part of a Democrat elite class that runs the administrative branch of this country and that, thanks to public sector unions, has made itself virtually untouchable.

** 15 **

And really, in what sane universe is anyone okay with the IRS interfering with American foreign policy?

** 16 **

So, Jesse Ventura managed to win a $1.8 million judgment against Chris Kyle’s’ widow. The responses at Twitchy express how I feel.

** 17 **

I’m not much for Twitter (its enforced brevity doesn’t work well with my loquacity), but even I’d noticed that AP’s tweets have become semi-literate and manifestly biased. A once somewhat decent news agency has utterly debased itself.

** 18 **

In her logical, kind, impartial way, Megan McArdle completely destroys Mary Mapes, the gal who produced the “news” segment that led to Rathergate. McArdles article isn’t just interesting on its own terms.  I also think every young lawyer should read it as a primer about how to use evidence for advocacy.

** 19 **

Was Mika tired? Did she have a stroke? Or was her DemProg brain overwhelmed by the logic she’d heard from Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer? We’ll never know, but we do know that she made an embarrassing verbal mistake as she sent the Morning Joe Show over to commercial:

**20 **

Obama will act with impunity on immigration and amnesty, because he knows he can — there’s nothing Republicans will do to stop him. He knows that, as the first black president, he is immune to consequences. Moreover — and this has nothing to do with Obama — Congressional Republicans are spineless weasels and sell-outs, who are willing to put the party and the country on a suicide watch in order to garner the short-term benefit of Chamber of Commerce cash.

Perhaps given the fatal taint in the original Constitution (that it accepted slavery), there’s a divine justice in the fact that our nation’s freedoms are being destroyed by a sort-of black man. The irony would be more perfect if he were the descendant of slaves, but I guess irony isn’t picky about the instruments it uses.

The illegal aliens, incidentally, are not grateful:

 

We will shoot more police

** 21 **

A lot of Marin’s young people tend to go off to exotic locales to do volunteer work. It’s nice that they recognize their good fortune, but I often think there’s an unwholesome element of “white man’s burden” to these journeys. After all, there’s poverty and despair in America too. One of these volunteers has finally realized that her “voluntourism” is, at best, an ineffective way to help people, because it harnesses skills she lacks while ignoring those that she has.

** 22 **

Kevin Gallagher takes a humorless, pedantic stand against what he claims is Weird Al Yankovic’s humorless pedantry in “Word Crimes.” I, of course, found Word Crimes completely delightful. Anyway, as a lawyer, I incline to grammatic pedantry because I would guess that 80% of my commercial law cases involved problems arising from ambiguous language. Punctuation and grammar matter if clarity matters.

In any event, you don’t have to read Gallagher’s entire article, which oozes pedantic high dudgeon. Instead, enjoy the comments.

** 23 **

The science is in, and vegetarians are less healthy than meat eaters. Don’t get too excited, though, fellow carnivores. As Earl (who sent me this link) added, one has to consider that many people embrace vegetarianism because they are sick. Thus, Bill Clinton, a heart-attack-waiting to happen, embraced vegetarianism as a way to turn his health around. He would have entered the cohort ill and skewed the statistics.

Still, I don’t doubt that those who refuse meat are missing out on essential nutrients. We’re meant to be meat-eaters. (On that subject, I highly recommend Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human.)

** 24 **

The Left likes that it’s a party of “intellectuals” — witness all the university professors and their poor, brainwashed students who support the Democrat Progressive movement. In a post about geekdom’s new trendiness, Charles C. W. Cooke explains what I laboriously figured out after leaving school, which is that being academically-oriented is not same as actually being smart, let alone functional.

** 25 **

Fool me three times

A country without borders

Use some restraint

Liberal logic about terrorism

VA left in the dust

Can't build a fence

Getting Obama to a security meeting

Not much of a head

** 26 **

As always, my thanks to Earl, Caped Crusader, and Sadie, who were instrumental in helping me find the articles and images described here.

Did the State Department leak a phone call in which Obama insists that Israel unilaterally stop its surge into Gaza?

Obama on phoneThe Times of Israel has published what is alleged to be a transcript of a leaked telephone call between Obama and Netanyahu.  Both Netanyahu and Obama are denying its truth, but I wonder.  The substance is entirely consistent with Obama’s and Kerry’s public pronouncements, although much ruder, hectoring, hostile, and autocratic in tone.  My suspicion is that Obama is denying it because he’s worried that it makes him look bad, and Bibi is denying it for the same reason – to help Obama save face in return for which, one hopes, Bibi gets something.

Anyway, here’s the allegedly leaked transcript:

Israel’s Channel 1 publishes a Hebrew transcript of a portion of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama’s telephone conversation Sunday, in which Obama is insistent that Israel unilaterally halt all military activities in the Gaza Strip.

The following is an English translation of the Hebrew account of the talk given in the report:

Barack Obama: I demand that Israel agrees to an immediate, unilateral ceasefire and halt all offensive activities, in particular airstrikes.

Benjamin Netanyahu: And what will Israel receive in exchange for a ceasefire?

BO: I believe that Hamas will cease its rocket fire — silence will be met with silence.

BN: Hamas broke all five previous ceasefires. It’s a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

BO: I repeat and expect Israel to stop all its military activities unilaterally. The pictures of destruction in Gaza distance the world from Israel’s position.

BN: Kerry’s proposal was completely unrealistic and gives Hamas military and diplomatic advantages.

BO: Within a week of the end of Israel’s military activities, Qatar and Turkey will begin negotiations with Hamas based on the 2012 understandings, including Israel’s commitment to removing the siege and restrictions on Gaza.

BN: Qatar and Turkey are the biggest supporters of Hamas. It’s impossible to rely on them to be fair mediators.

BO: I trust Qatar and Turkey. Israel is not in the position that it can choose its mediators.

BN: I protest because Hamas can continue to launch rockets and use tunnels for terror attacks –

BO: (interrupting Netanyahu) The ball’s in Israel’s court, and it must end all its military activities.

Tuesday morning round-up and Open Thread — the Israel/Hamas War edition

Victorian posy of pansiesI’ll be spending this afternoon happily enjoying the company of relatives visiting from out of town. When I was younger, I didn’t appreciate these relatives that much. Now that I’m older, I’m know how important it is to keep up contact with people who knew you way back when. There are shared memories and beliefs that are irreplaceable and that are, in troubling times, deeply comforting.

And then there is the news, which isn’t so good in Obama’s America….

** 1 **

England has long been so favorable to radical Islam that Melanie Phillips wrote a whole, very excellent, book — Londonistan — on the subject. That’s why it was staggering to see the Times of London run an ardently pro-Israel opinion piece. The author is Richard Kemp, a retired British Army man who’s long been an open and intelligent Israel supporter. That he wrote the article was therefore unsurprising. The surprise was that Kemp was given a voice in the Times.

The article is also worth reading insofar as it rebuts British people who contend that Israel is morally disreputable because she’s bombing Gaza, something modern Britain never did to Northern Ireland. (Historic Britain, of course, routinely laid waste to all of Ireland, both through actual war and economic warfare.)

Gaza is not Northern Ireland and Hamas is not the IRA. We governed and policed Ulster to wipe out the terrorists. In Gaza the government are the terrorists — designated as such around the world. In 2005 Israel withdrew all its citizens and security forces from Gaza. Since then it has been a separate state — now under the heel of Hamas — at war with Israel and dedicated to the extermination of the Jewish state.

Hamas is a heavily armed militia, fighting from territory it controls. The IRA, for the most part, was more like a highly dangerous criminal gang that could be dealt with by soldiers acting as policemen.

The absence of Israeli forces in Gaza for nine years let Hamas build tunnel networks to smuggle in military materiel, manufacture and store munitions, deploy forces and infiltrate beneath the border to launch attacks against Israel. It also gave Hamas the freedom to prepare formidable defences, the reason why there have been so many casualties since the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) began its ground offensive a week ago.

For a while there were barricaded “no-go” areas in Belfast and Londonderry which, until broken down in 1972, prevented the entry of troops. But the security forces never withdrew from the province and did not need to launch raids from Britain or fight their way back in.

The better comparison, says Kemp, is to the Nazi V1 “doodlebugs” rained down on London civilians, something that provoked an immediate and fearsome Allied response.

** 2 **

Marc Thiessen, as part of an article rightfully blaming Obama for the situation in the Middle East, reminded me of something I’d forgotten:  President Obama is personally responsible for killing more people than the entire IDF has killed in three weeks of fighting. And so a poster is born….

Barack Obama - Muslim Killer

** 3 **

And now a brief non-Israel/Gaza moment to promote a product important to the well-informed conservative:  Doug Ross is a long-time blogging friend. He started Bad Blue News, a really smart news aggregator, as a way to promote trending content that conservatives find interesting. Because its got an incredibly smart, dynamic algorithm for sourcing content, it’s always got breaking news. Learn more about it here and consider seriously making it part of your daily rounds.

Back to our regular Israel/Gaza War reporting….

** 4 **

Part of the problem with reporting on the Israel/Gaza war is the same problem that’s affected all reporting from that region: Hamas threatens reporters who try to publish content other than Hamas propaganda — and the reporters lack the courage either to ignore the threats (something I, a physical coward, understand) or to tell their readers and editors that they cannot report accurately from Gaza.

If this is a subject on which you’d like further information, I highly recommend Stephanie Gutmann’s The Other War: Israelis, Palestinians and the Struggle for Media Supremacy.

** 5 **

The other part of the problem with reporting, of course, is anti-Israel, anti-Semitic bias. When Muslims kill each other, the world (especially the journalistic world) shrugs its collective shoulders and just says “That’s what Muslims do.” The Left holds Islam to an unreasonably low standard and holds Israel to an impossibly high standard.

** 6 **

For those of us who wish the IDF would just take out Hamas in Gaza entirely — kind of like the Marines cleared out Fallujah — that’s clearly not what Netanyahu wants to have happen. This is not political cowardice on his part. Bibi is engaged in an incredibly complex balancing act that involves keeping all of the surrounding loathsome players (Hezbollah, Iran, ISIS, etc.) out of the dispute. I pray daily for his continued wisdom in this regard.

** 7 **

Jews have always been plagued by genocide libels. Early Christians blamed all generations of Jews for the acts of some Jews during Jesus’s lifetime. Later Christians (and modern Muslims) have contended that Jews use the blood of non-Jewish children to make matzoh, never mind that this wouldn’t be kosher and, more importantly, never mind that Judaism is built around a reverence for life, not death.

In the late-19th and early-20th centuries, the Russians came out with The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a book that’s still a bestseller in the fever swamps of Leftist and Muslim antisemitism. And now there’s a new blood libel: the Israelis are committing genocide against the Palestinians. Dennis Prager makes short work of it.

** 8 **

Victor Davis Hanson looks at the dynamics of a war with an entity that is utterly evil but that still that has all of Europe and most of the world’s press on its side. (And yes, I understand that the previous sentence would qualify for one of James Taranto’s “Fox Butterfield, is that you?” questions.)

** 9 **

Brett Stephens explains exactly how you have to be really stupid, or just act really stupid, to side with Hamas in the current war. He calls this “the Palestine effect” — “The abrupt and often total collapse of logical reasoning, skeptical intelligence and ordinary moral judgment whenever the subject of Palestinian suffering arises.”

**10 **

Of course, sometimes just being Muslim leads to bizarre thought patterns. Go here, and then try to figure out whether you want to laugh or cry.

** 11 **

Israel provides chapter and verse explaining that it was a Hamas rocket that took out an UNRWA School. Of course, thanks to stupid, immoral, and cowardly reporting, it’s enough for Hamas to say, without proof, “Israel did it” for the world to believe Hamas, not Israel.

** 12 **

Tall Tale Contest

Story of two Sams

Free Muslims in Israel

Obama and the seven dorks

The poster’s title is “Obama and the Seven Dorks”

Did Barack Obama just praise slavery? (Probably not, but….)

Muslim slave traders in AfricaPresident Obama and Michelle Obama released a joint statement to commemorate Eid-al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan. The statement contains a very interesting turn of phrase (emphasis mine):

In the United States, Eid also reminds us of the many achievements and contributions of Muslim Americans to building the very fabric of our nation and strengthening the core of our democracy. That is why we stand with people of all faiths, here at home and around the world, to protect and advance their rights to prosper, and we welcome their commitment to giving back to their communities.

“President Obama,” I wanted to ask after having read that, “please tell me what contributions Muslim Americans have made to the fabric of our nation?”

Since I didn’t expect to get an answer to that imaginary question, I did a little research on my own. According to the Wikipedia article on Islam in America, Muslims arrived on American shores in three waves: (1) with the slave trade, since approximately 10% of slaves rounded up by Muslim traders in Africa and then sold to English/American ship masters in the triangle trade were Muslim; (2) late 19th and early 20th century Muslims from the former Ottoman Empire (meaning central European, rather than Middle Eastern and North African Muslims); and (3) the steady trickle of Arab Muslims from the 1960s onwards.

All of these Muslims put together have resulted in a modern Muslim presence in America equal to about 0.8% of the population. In other words, in terms of numbers, Muslims have made little dent in the population.  Of course, as Jews have shown, numbers may not necessarily matter if one can affect the culture.  Because of Jewish dominance in Hollywood, on Broadway, on Tin Pan Alley, and, to a certain extent, in the world of literature, American Jews have had a disproportionate affect on American culture.  (See, e.g, Ben Shapiro’s book, Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How the Left Took Over Your TV, which describes how liberals in Hollywood, almost all of them Jewish, used television in the 1960s and 1970s to tilt the entire country’s popular culture to the Left.)

It’s true that there are numerous Muslims in America who have achieved some degree of fame, but few of them have achieved any great degree of fame. None of the names on the list seem to go back more than fifty years. Moreover, if my own recognition of famous names is anything to go by, some of the most famous Muslims are African-Americans who converted through the Nation of Islam in the 1960s.  A handful of them — Malcolm X, Muhammed Ali, etc. — became sufficiently famous to be recognizable outside of African-American circles, but they didn’t change the culture.  (On the other hand, Martin Luther King, a Christian, changed the culture profoundly.)

Aside from a few famous people, I didn’t see on the list the names of any people who significantly changed America. Sure, there are politicians, but each is just one among many. Keith Ellison, for example (another Nation of Islam follower), was the first Muslim elected to Congress, but he’s just been a garden-variety Leftist. The same can be said for all other Muslim journalists and political figures on the list. Put another way, none struck me as people “building the very fabric of our nation.”

Who, then, built the fabric of our nation? Let me go back to those slaves who came in the first wave….

America’s original capital was Philadelphia. It was only in 1790 that Congress passed legislation authorizing the creation of a capital city on the Potomac River. Before this legislation passed, there was little there other than swamps and a few small outposts.

Building a capital city from scratch took labor and, considering that Washington D.C. is in the deep South, it should come as no surprise to learn that much of this labor came from slaves (10% of whom, on average, had Muslim roots and may have practiced their faith in secret despite slave owners’ efforts to quash it). Indeed, slaves had a hand in creating two of the most iconic buildings in our nation’s capital: The U.S. Capitol and the White House.

It wasn’t just those famed buildings, though, that relied upon slaves. It was the whole city that benefited from cheap slave labor:

Historians say slaves were the largest labor pool when Congress in 1790 decided to create a new national capital along the Potomac surrounded by the two slave-owning states of Maryland and Virginia.

Over the next decade, local farmers rented out their slaves for an average of $55 a year to help build the Capitol, the White House, the Treasury Department and the streets laid out by city planner Pierre L’Enfant.

Slaves cut trees on the hill where the Capitol would stand, cleared stumps from the new streets, worked in the stone quarries where sandstone was cut and assisted the masons laying stone for the walls of the new homes of Congress and the president.

They also were involved in the expansion of the Capitol in the late 1850s.

That forced behavior – laboring as slaves on the buildings that lie at the heart of our republic — really is “building the very fabric of our nation.”

Do I honestly believe that Barack Obama was trying to praise Muslim slaves with his Eid-al-Fitr statement? No. I don’t think Barack Obama was trying to say anything at all. These were feel-good buzzwords to a minute segment of the American community, most of whom have led bland and blameless lives for decades. American Muslims have contributed to the fabric of our country only in the way most of us have — simply by being here, holding jobs, and paying taxes.

Obama would be utterly flummoxed if he were actually asked to name any more specific Muslim contributions to the “very fabric” of our country than just being here. Still, though, there is a bizarre history truth to his fatuously uttered (or written) words, and that truth lies in the nature of American slavery.  This slavery couldn’t have happened without Arab Muslim traders in Africa, and it included around 60,000 black Muslim men, women, and children, some of whom almost certainly built the house in which Obama now lives.

Monday evening round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesIf you read only one thing today (and tomorrow too), I think you should read Sam Harris’s “Why Don’t I Criticize Israel?” In it, Harris, who is renowned for his very well-articulated atheism, explains that one doesn’t have to believe in Israel’s religious right to the land in order to support her in the current war with Hamas.

The article is very dense, but never boring or confusing. Harris methodically works his way through the case for Israel. He’s not a starry-eyed Israel fan. He is, instead, a realist who feels that any moral compass, atheist or religious, must come down on the side that values human life, rather than the one that destroys it.

To whet your appetite, here’s just one very small segment of his entire article:

The truth is that everything you need to know about the moral imbalance between Israel and her enemies can be understood on the topic of human shields. Who uses human shields? Well, Hamas certainly does. They shoot their rockets from residential neighborhoods, from beside schools, and hospitals, and mosques. Muslims in other recent conflicts, in Iraq and elsewhere, have also used human shields. They have laid their rifles on the shoulders of their own children and shot from behind their bodies.

Consider the moral difference between using human shields and being deterred by them. That is the difference we’re talking about. The Israelis and other Western powers are deterred, however imperfectly, by the Muslim use of human shields in these conflicts, as we should be. It is morally abhorrent to kill noncombatants if you can avoid it. It’s certainly abhorrent to shoot through the bodies of children to get at your adversary. But take a moment to reflect on how contemptible this behavior is. And understand how cynical it is. The Muslims are acting on the assumption—the knowledge, in fact—that the infidels with whom they fight, the very people whom their religion does nothing but vilify, will be deterred by their use of Muslim human shields. They consider the Jews the spawn of apes and pigs—and yet they rely on the fact that they don’t want to kill Muslim noncombatants. [Note: The term “Muslims” in this paragraph means “Muslim combatants” of the sort that Western forces have encountered in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. The term “jihadists” would have been too narrow, but I was not suggesting that all Muslims support the use of human shields or are anti-Semitic, at war with the West, etc.]

Once you’ve read the whole thing, please share it with everyone. It deserves to make the rounds.

** 2 **

Hamas is so determined to win the war against Israel by having the tallest pile of dead bodies that it physically beats people who try to evacuate buildings after receiving Israel’s humanitarian warnings that it will be bombing the buildings. And that, of course, is precisely Sam Harris’s point.

** 3 **

As a writer, one of the most incredibly flattering things that can happen is when someone you really respect takes one of your ideas and runs with it. That’s what happened when Neo-Neocon read my post about John Kerry’s history repeating itself. I don’t want to give anything away. Just go and read what she has to say, making my original germ of an idea much richer and more meaningful.

** 4 **

What is that saying about the Left corrupting all institutions over time?  I forget the exact words, but that’s precisely what happened to George H.W. Bush’s Thousand Points of Light charity. From being an innocuous charity, it’s managed to go from the ridiculous (funding gay and lesbian bands all over the world) to the malignant (funding organizations with Islamic terrorist ties).

That the Left would co-opt an organization in this way isn’t news. What is news is that Sen. Sam Nunn’s daughter, Michelle, was CEO during the charity’s transition from charitable to Leftist political. She’s now running for the Senate in Georgia (as a Democrat, natch). She’s trailing the Republican candidate, but the election would be safer if she were trailing even more — and this story should be the nail in her campaign’s coffin.

** 6 **

What unites Americans? Floods of illegal aliens crossing the United States’ southern border. They don’t like it. They really don’t like it.

Not that this will deter Obama. He views amnesty as a convenient red flag he can wave before Republicans in the hope that they will seek to impeach him, rousing Democrats from their demoralized torpor and swinging the 2014 election in Obama’s favor.

Think about this: Our president, who swore to obey the Constitution, is deliberately violating it, at great cost to our nation, so as to achieve two goals: (1) Creating a Democrat demographic wave by wiping out our southern border and (2) tempting Republicans into a politically fatal maneuver.

For Obama, it’s a win any way he looks at it, and for Republicans and other American loving people, all outcomes are disastrous. (And yes, executive orders can easily be overruled, but do you see anyone having the political will to deport all 5 million newly amnestied illegals, including the hundreds of thousands of recent arrivals?)

** 6 **

We entered into a 40-year-long war on poverty, and poverty won.

** 7 **

I cannot think of a more appalling attack on the integrity of a judicial system than a judge having an affair with the wife in a divorce case over which he is presiding. The husband, unsurprisingly, would like to see the judge in court, only this time with the judge sitting at the defendant’s table. Sadly, thanks to judicial immunity, that won’t be happening.  Wade McCree, Jr., is out of a job, but he gets to keep his money.

Long-time readers know that, having come of age as a lawyer in the San Francisco Bay Area, where Leftist judges infest the bench, I have almost no respect for judges. In my career, I’ve probably come across three whom I respect, one of whom is a long-time friend I respected before she became a judge.

In a system governed by the rule of law, we definitely need judges.  But we need a very specific type of judge:  Someone who recognize the rule of law, not the rule of Leftist navel-gazing and self-indulgent emotional masturbation.

** 8 **

Human rights doesn't extend to Israel

History condemned

Behind Israel 100

Voter ID laws cannot be racist

Spoiled dogs

I think it’s Photo shopped, but I love it anyway

Sunday night round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesJust a few things to round out the weekend.

** 1 **

Yesterday, I went to an exhibition soccer game — Real Madrid versus Inter Milan. The game, held in UC Berkeley’s Memorial Stadium, was sold out. Despite that, it was a surprisingly lackluster game.

I think that flat feeling arose from a combination of factors. First, it wasn’t a real game, with real consequences. The players, mostly B-List players for both teams, looked more as if they were practicing than competing. Second, the mellow fans were generally enjoying the exhibition quality of the game, so they were cheering both sides equally. While this was very polite, it sucked the energy out of the stadium. In a real competitive game, you want some passion from the audience, as well as from the players.

And third, we were in the nosebleed section. I’m not complaining. It was lovely up there (albeit a little hot), especially since the field was spread out before us. I felt like an eagle. I also realized looking down on the field that soccer reminds me of WWI.

This is not as crazy an analogy as you might think. The players endlessly cycled back and forth over a few yards, constantly getting near each other’s goal and then being repulsed. Although each team played fluidly together, the nature of soccer meant there weren’t any set plays.

Watching it from up high, I thought that, in a way, this would have been what WWI’s trench warfare would have looked like to an alien being perched on a far-away planet, watching the war play out. The two sides faced off against each other and, up until the Americans came along, just endlessly pushed each other back and forth over the same 8 miles.

American football strikes me as being more like traditional American warfare. The battalion, or division, or unit, or whatever, comes up with a strategy and then charges ahead. Ideally, it gains ground and holds it. Less ideally, it gets pushed back and has to regroup. The discipline, though, requires unified forward motion, rather than an endlessly fluid back and forth.

When my kids played, I loved soccer because it made them run, which kids need, and I enjoyed watching my little darlings compete. Without one of my own kids on the field, I definitely like American football better than soccer.

** 2 **

In my earlier post, I said Hamas is worse than the Nazis were. One of the reasons I said that is that the Nazis valued their own (not their enemy’s, but their own) children.  Hamas, however, has decided that its children’s greatest utility is to act the role of corpse — and the younger the Palestinian child, the more enthusiastically Hamas tries to turn it into a dead body.

It turns out that Hamas’s disdain for its children exists independent of an active war with Israel. By its own admission, Hamas used its children as slave labor to build the many tunnels under Israel. One-hundred-sixty of those children died.

** 3 **

Joshua Muravchik is a wonderful writer. One of my favorite of his books is Heaven On Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism, which I highly recommend.  He’s just published another book, which is definitely going on my reading list: Making David into Goliath: How the World Turned Against Israel.

I know I’m going to like the book because it touches upon a subject I’ve long blogged about, which is the death of the Jew in American culture. Jews no longer exist in American culture.  That marks a sea change from the situation in most of the 20th century.  From the 1910s through the 1970s, Jews were omnipresent, acting, singing, writing, producing, directing…. They made us laugh, cry, and think. That’s all vanished now.  The decline of American Jewry’s role in American life has mirrored Israel’s rise and fall in the eyes of the world.

** 4 **

Antisemitism is a completely irrational hatred. In Islam, antisemitism is predicated upon the words of a 7th century “prophet” who resented the fact that the Jews refused to abandon their faith in favor of his newly created one. For those thankfully few Christians who still hew to old-time antisemitism, their hatred for all Jews in the present day is because, 2,000 years ago, a very small group of Jews aided Christ to his destiny by turning him over to the Romans. For Leftists, hatred of Jews was born out of a 19th century hatred for those few Jews who were visibly capitalist, and now arises from the fact that, until Obama, Israel was seen as inextricably intertwined with America, the bastion of capitalism. None of the preceding justifications for hating Jews springs from a rational source.

Because antisemitism is irrational, it leads to truly stupid outcomes, revealing brains so steeped in hatred they are incapable of thought. Exhibit A is the BBC’s insane, inane tweet about Hamas’s unilateral breach of one of the cease-fires:

Read more at Twitchy.

** 5 **

Speaking of the BBC, the BBC likes “trigger warnings.” I know this, because I’ve seen clips from BBC news shows that use trigger warnings. Such warnings are really, really stupid.

** 6 **

Sarah Palin makes a good case for impeachment. Those who are opposed to immediate impeachment don’t look at President Obama’s conduct but, instead, look at the dynamics of impeachment: It makes for incredibly bad optics if Republicans impeach the first black president, especially right before an election. This means, of course, that Republicans are damned if they do (bad optics) and damned if they don’t (unconstitutional loose cannon in the White House).

Palin makes the point that, if we want to shift that dynamic, we need to educate the public so that more than 33% of them support impeachment:

Let’s go back to that poll I cited showing 33% of Americans agree with me on impeachment. It’s clear from the way these polls are conducted that most Americans aren’t aware of what constitutes impeachable offenses.

The Constitution says “high crimes and misdemeanors” are the basis for this serious remedy. The Framers used that term to mean a dereliction of duty, and the first duty of the president is to enforce our laws and preserve, protect, and defend our Constitution.
Alexander Hamilton described impeachable offenses as “the abuse or violation of some public trust.” He called them “political” offenses because they “relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”

[snip]

Impeachment isn’t necessarily for ordinary criminal acts, nor is it for bad political decisions or differences in opinion. We’re not saying, “Impeach him because his stimulus failed; he coddles Wall Street while dissing Main Street; he recklessly spends our tax dollars on skewed priorities, etc., etc.”

We’re saying he must be impeached for overstepping his Constitutional authority. Here are some examples: he broke the law in changing the Obamacare law by fiat, and he issued amnesty for illegal immigrants by fiat, and he committed fraud on the American people by lying that we could keep our health care if we like our health care, and he refused to secure our borders or halt this border crisis he caused. The list of abuse is long. Allowing any president to continue this lawlessness sets a precedent for future presidents that can allow destruction of our nation.

We’re acknowledging that there’s only one recourse in holding government accountable when led by a president who breaks the law. Remember the Constitution holds the president directly responsible for the executive branch. He can’t just vote “present” and keep feigning ignorance of all the scandals rocking his administration, any more than a mob boss can claim innocence because he didn’t personally do the hit. The buck stops with the guy at the top.

[snip]

Impeachment is the Constitution’s answer for a derelict, incompetent presidency, as well as for a lawless imperial presidency. Both describe the unprecedented problem we have with Obama.

** 7 **

AJStrata isn’t opposed to impeachment. He just says that it must wait until after the November election. In the meantime, he sees Obama as someone who is buying more than enough rope to hang himself. After all, executive actions are ephemeral, and can be undone as easily as they were done in the first place.

AJ thinks that Obama is trying to force impeachment before the election in the hope that it will hand Democrats a victory in November. The whole calculus changes — dramatically — if the Republicans sweep both House and Senate.

So, patience, everyone (including you, Sarah Palin). Patience is a great virtue and, as the next story shows, the lack of patience can be profoundly damaging. (Although in the case of the next story, thank God for impatience.)

** 8 **

I’ve pointed out in previous posts that, had Hamas been able to restrain itself from firing rockets into Israel, it would probably have successfully used its tunnels to invade Israel on Rosh Hashanah, killing thousands and kidnapping hundreds. Clarice Feldman makes an even better point:

The reason Hamas couldn’t resist firing rockets was because Israel was turning over every stone in an effort, first, to locate Eyal Yifrach, 19; Gilad Shaar, 16; and Naftali Fraenkel, 16, and then, once it was known they were murdered, to find their killers. (Incidentally, did I miss it or was President Obama completely silent about the brutal antisemitic murder of an American citizen? After all, Fraenkel held dual citizenship.)

So the real reason that Israel was able to deter a terror attack that would have rivaled in scope the 9/11 attack on Israel was because three young boys died at Hamas’s hands. I don’t know if it can, but I still hope that this knowledge brings some comfort to the boys’ families.  In a weird way, it means that the boys did not die in vain, since their deaths almost certainly saved thousands of lives.

** 9 **

When I took my daughter to a college fair, I ended up talking to a young woman from Austin, Texas, which is a lovely city despite a Leftist insanity rivaled only by Berkeley and Ann Arbor. I commented, as I always do when I talk about Texas, that I loved it there, but that the heat was killing. The woman told me earnestly that it’s much worse now thanks to global warming. I spared my daughter the embarrassment of calling that young woman on her uninformed lunacy. I bet the woman also thinks Austin is both wetter and dryer before — two assumptions that are completely wrong.

** 10 **

Deroy Murdock tries to help people understand the Israel/Hamas situation by asking them to imagine a violent Mexican terrorist organization south of California.

** 11 **

Just so you can get a feel for what the United States would look like if Progressives were completely in control, check out the insane San Francisco landlord scene. To call what landlords own there “private property” is an extraordinary misnomer. It’s “private property” in name only:

Landlords are challenging San Francisco’s latest move to discourage evictions from rent-controlled apartments, an ordinance requiring them to pay displaced tenants the difference between their current rent and the amount needed to rent a similar unit at market rates for two years.

** 12 **

Hamas treats Jews and its own people like disposable objects. Israel treats Palestinians like human beings:

Israel treats Gazans

** 13 **

Bless the Marines

Howard Stern

The cost of tunnels

Name changed ideology

Hillary disses women

Mid afternoon Friday round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesThe lovely thing about summer is that I get to sleep in a little. I like that.

The less than lovely thing about summer is that I am never alone. More than that, if my family is near me, they want me. Sometimes they want me for irritating reasons, such as asking me to do things they’re perfectly capable of doing themselves (e.g., making themselves lunch); sometimes they want me for necessary things that only I can do (e.g., filling out the parent permission form for an activity or dealing with contractors); and sometimes they want me for flattering reasons (“I just want you to sit with me, Mommy.”). No matter the reason, I can’t write when they want me.

Other times, as is the case now, I have little bits and pieces of time within which to write. I’m therefore going to slam stuff out and you’ll just have to excuse the inevitable typos. If I proceed methodically here, I won’t be able to publish this until Monday.

** 1 **

Mitchell Langbert wrote an open letter to his state Senator asking that New York take away tax breaks and financial subsidies for colleges and universities that support the Boycott, Divest, Sanction movement:

I urge New York State to eliminate tax breaks and financial subsidies for colleges and universities that support involvement with the Boycott, Divestiture, and Sanctions movement. Such support is already illegal under Section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code, which prohibits the use of tax-exempt money for political and ideological purposes.

If Langbert is correct in the way he interprets the law, all of us should make a very big deal out of this one, not just in New York, but across America. (Hat tip: JKB.)

** 2 **

So far, Israel is doing very well. Ironically, one can say that she’s doing well because Obama hates her. With past administrations, when the president asked Israel to stop fighting Hamas, even when she was winning, Israel agreed to the request. She did so because all past administrations tacitly or explicitly promised that, if things get really bad, America will have Israel’s back.

Barack Obama, of course, doesn’t have Israel’s back. He’s mostly in Israel’s face, with a shiv aimed at her jugular. The fact that he manifestly dislikes Israel explains why Israel now refuses to listen to his pleas for her to back down. He’s got no carrot to entice her into listening to him, so Israel sneers at John Kerry when he, a Lurch without charm, insists Israel lay down her guns.

Israel is also doing well because Hamas is doing badly. The IDF put out a poster explaining just how badly Hamas is doing:

Hamas hurting

That poster doesn’t even acknowledge the 150 Hamas fighters who surrendered yesterday.

For more on just how well Israel is doing, you can read an American Thinker article that purports to report a conversation with a very highly placed Israeli specialist and Bibi advisor, or read Tom Rogan’s analysis about Israel’s success is splitting Hamas and Fatah.

** 3 **

That same Israeli specialist and advisor has no doubt about the basis for Obama’s hostility to Israel:

As for what is behind Obama’s embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood, he attributes it to the fact that Obama is a Muslim and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Perhaps Obama also sees himself as the Caliph of any future Caliphate.

The other thing the post about the specialist mentions is Qatar’s involvement in funding radical Islam. Qatar also funds lots of soccer. My son loves soccer, and he can’t understand why I won’t let him buy gear from Qatar-funded teams.

** 4 **

Contrary to what the Left says or implies, the war between Israel and Hamas is not a case of powerful white people attacking helpless brown people. In fact, Israel is a multicultural, multiracial, multi-religious society — and all people of good will within that society, regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion, support stamping out the terrorism emanating from Gaza.

** 5 **

CNN’s Erin Burnett isn’t just another pretty face. She’s a really stupid pretty face, something that comes through loud and clear when Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador U.S., takes her to task for her inanely stupid “but what about the children” plea when it comes to the Gazan children that Hamas deliberate dots around weapons’ sites in Gaza.

Regarding Hamas’s tactics, I’m sure its supporters have made the point that the nature of Gaza (a small, urban area) means that Hamas can’t have nice military bases or remote areas where they can stockpile weapons. That’s true.

What’s also true, though, is that there are choices other than schools and hospitals for storing arms and mounting attacks. Moreover, when your enemy goes out of the way to give you advance warning that it plans to demolish the schools and hospitals in which they’ve determined you keep your weapons and fighters, there are choices other than ordering women and children and sick people to stay in those buildings.

There are always choices — and Hamas, when it chooses, always makes the least moral choice.

** 6 **

Meanwhile, as the world’s Muslims and Leftists castigate Israel for daring to defend herself in a more humane way than any other nation in history, most of the world is turning away from Muslim atrocities in Iraq and Syria. There, Muslims slaughter each other and Christians with fury and brutality, and in great numbers. Looking at this inconsistent behavior, one has to ask, If it’s not the oldest hatred that drives the obsessive focus on Israel, what is driving it?

** 7 **

Sultan Knish explains that terrorism is a tactic like any other. Traditional militaries think in terms of conquering land or towns. Terrorists think in terms of conquering minds through abject fear:

This emotional calculus is misleading because it is an immediate response to a set of deaths. However terrorists are not trading an end to violence for a village or a town. They are calculating how many deaths it will take to force Israel to abandon that village or town. And once they have it, they will use it to inflict more terror on another town or village, this time using rockets.

Israelis were convinced that a price in lives had been put on Gaza and that if they withdrew, the killing would end. But Gaza was just the beginning. Not the end. There is never an end.

The goal of a terrorist movement is to change the relative perceptions of strength and the freedom of movement of both sides. Terror tactics create the perception that the winning side is losing. This perception can be so compelling that both sides come to accept it as reality. Terrorists manufacture victories by trapping their enemies in no-win scenarios that wear down their morale.

Described that way, it’s hard to imagine how to defeat this profoundly cruel psychological warfare. Fortunately, though, Sultan Knish says it can be done but it will take political courage. Unfortunately, how often does one find courage in politics?

** 8 **

My back garden is dotted with solar lights. They’re cheap to buy and don’t require any electrical boxes, outlets, or cords in the garden. Buy enough of them, and they’ll illuminate deck stairs just enough so that no one falls or will keep people from wandering off a paved pathway into the dirt. It would take a whole let of them, though, plus a full moon, to allow you to read a book by their light. Solar energy just doesn’t deliver that much power, and that’s the problem with trying to turn it into a viable fossil fuel alternative.

** 9 **

You’ve heard it everywhere else, so you may as well hear it from me too: Jonathan Gruber, an important Obama-care architect, has castigated the Halbig decision for daring to read Obamacare’s language literally and, on that basis, deciding that subsidies only support state-run exchanges. Of course the government meant to include federal exchanges when it talked about subsidies, says Gruber.

A few years ago, though, Gruber was singing a different tune, when he gloated about tying subsidies to state exchanges. His theory then was that it would incentivize states to set up their own exchanges. In a sane world, Gruber would lay to rest the DemProg’s discontent with the Halbig decision, but I don’t see that happening any time soon.

** 10 **

Kimberly Strassel says that the Halbig case proves that the IRS, which has become an arm of the Democrat party, cannot be entrusted with Obamacare. It will do anything, including disobeying the law as written, to support the Democrat agenda.  With that in mind, I wouldn’t just remove Obamacare from the IRS’s purview.  I would argue for eliminating it entirely, and starting anew.  (Like that’s going to happen.)

** 11 **

I don’t think Noemi Emery really explains the roots of Hillary’s sense of political and monetary entitlement, but in trying to explain it, she sure paints a picture of a women who believes that the White House and millions of dollars should be hers for the asking.

My take is that Hillary didn’t get to this point because of her Arkansas exile or victimized-wife roles. I believe she’s just your ordinary sociopath, who managed to lever herself into a power path, and now wants more just because she’s the sociopath she is.  In other words, her history didn’t make her a sociopath; the fact that she is a sociopath shaped her history.

** 12 **

Charles Krauthammer has offered a very interesting theory about Obama’s bizarre passivity as the world burns around him: he believes that the arc of history will go his way so that he can just sit back and watch it happen.

If that idea — that bad guys will wither away in any event — sounds familiar, it’s because you heard it from Jimmy Carter about our own American Revolution:

[I]n some ways the Revolutionary War could have been avoided. It was an unnecessary war.

Had the British Parliament been a little more sensitive to the colonial‘s really legitimate complaints and requests the war could have been avoided completely, and of course now we would have been a free country now as is Canada and India and Australia, having gotten our independence in a nonviolent way.

I think in many ways the British were very misled in going to war against America and in trying to enforce their will on people who were quite different from them at the time.

See, if you’re just a little nicer to people on the other side of a quarrel, they’ll fall in line with you. It’s that easy. So if Obama just doesn’t throw America’s weight around, everyone will make nice in the end.  Obama is helped in this theory by the fact that he seems happy to have that arc of history bend to Islam, not the western, Judeo-Christian tradition.

** 13 **

In the 1930s, many decent-ish people in Europe and England supported Hitler’s rise. That’s because initially they saw his fascism as the European antidote to Communism. It somehow never seemed to occur to Europeans, accustomed as they were to autocratic government, that the choice wasn’t binary, between a tyrannical government that destroyed the rich and a tyrannical government that co-opted them. Individual freedom never occurred to them.  That was stupidity, or at least limited thinking, on their part.

These same Europeans stopped being decent-ish but stupid, and became evil, though, when they still supported the Nazis despite the latter’s increasingly insane antisemitism.  That’s another legacy of the European past — it wasn’t just autocratic; it was also antisemitic. European’s embrace of antisemitism into addition to totalitarianism is less forgivable than accepting totalitarianism alone, while the latter is a structural ideology, the former is pure evil.

Fascism and communism may be gone from Europe, and socialism may be dying on the vine there, but the antisemitism lingers on. That oldest hatred seems to be bred into the European DNA. Nor can one just blame the huge Muslim populations in Europe for antisemitism’s resurgence. Just as the Ukrainians and Poles and French, while resenting Nazi invasions, supported Nazi ethnic cleansing, too many of today’s Europeans, while frightened of the Muslims, cheerfully (and almost reflexively) chime in when the cry to “Kill the Jews” rings out.

** 14 **

Mr. Bookworm is convinced that I abandoned him politically when I moved from Democrat to conservative. I keep explaining to him that he abandoned me too, because he’s been moving steadily to the Left. He denies that, since he still rejoices under the name “Democrat.” Hard data, though, seems to support my perception.

** 15 **

A palette-cleanser:

** 16 **

Hamas priorities

This clever twist on a London Underground map makes a powerful point about Hamas’s tunneling under Israel’s borders and into her towns. If Hamas, instead of being impatient and firing rockets, had waited quietly, it’s possible it could have carried out a terrorist attack in Israel that would easily have rivaled 9/11. Thank goodness, I guess, for impatient terrorists.

Gaza underground

Is Obama’s constant, inappropriate laughter a sign that he is suffering from a mental disorder? *UPDATED*

Obama looking stupidOne of the classic signs of serious mental illness is “inappropriate affect.” In this context, “affect” is the emotional face we present to the world. To the extent that a narcissist’s only emotional fixed point is his own need, most of a narcissists affects are actually faked, but that doesn’t mean they’re inappropriate.

The narcissist knows that it would harm his best interests if he were to giggle uncontrollably at a funeral or pick a fist fight with a patient in hospice. Normal people wouldn’t even think of doing such things (outside of the comedy universe), but a narcissist might want to do both, only to stop himself for fear of breaking cover.

Sometimes, though, narcissists, and other sick people, are so disconnected from reality — including their reality of their own best interests in a given situation — that they can no longer stop themselves from presenting an entirely wrong emotional face to the public.  That completely disconnected emotional presentation goes by the shorthand title of “inappropriate affect.”

One of the major subsets of inappropriate affect is “inappropriate laughter.”  There are seldom any good excuses for behavior.  Here’s one short, computer-generated, somewhat repetitive list of some of the major causes behind inappropriate laughter:

Causes of Inappropriate laughter:

The following medical conditions are some of the possible causes of Inappropriate laughter. There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor about your symptoms.

Common Causes: Inappropriate laughter

Some of the possible common medical causes of Inappropriate laughter may include:

Other Causes: Inappropriate laughter

Some of the less common causes of Inappropriate laughter may include:

I don’t mean to write a psychological treatise here. I freely admit I’m not qualified to do so, other than having the dubious pleasure of knowing over the years people suffering from narcissism, schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, dementia, etc.  Instead, this information is a set-up to the fact that Barack Obama has been behaving very peculiarly lately, with the most obvious manifestation of this peculiar behavior being inappropriate laughter.

Think back to his meeting with Texas Governor Rick Perry regarding the tens of thousands of children storming the border.  This flood of humanity has been overwhelming resources and bringing both crime and disease in its wake (and that’s not even counting the crimes visited upon the children themselves, especially sexual crimes).

Even if Obama’s ideology means that he is celebrating the breakdown of America’s border, a high-functioning narcissist would recognize that the public doesn’t want to see the American president laughing about a man-created disaster our southern border. Laughter, however, is precisely what the president offered to the American people:

Obama thinks the border is a joke

Obama thinks the border is a joke 2

Looking at that picture, the first thought a mentally healthy person would have is “There’s something very wrong going on there.”  (As for the laughter from Obama’s entourage, we know he surrounds himself by “yes” men, so it’s not unreasonable for those same “yes” men to laugh when the boss laughs, no matter the absence of actual humor.)

It would be easy enough to pass off what happened in the Texas meeting if it weren’t for the fact that Obama was at it again just today. This morning, news broke that Malaysian Airlines, which already lost a plane with all its crew and passengers just a few months ago, once again lost a plane.

This time, if reports are accurate, pro-Russian forces in the Ukraine deliberately shot down a passenger jet traveling from Amsterdam to Malaya. All 295 people aboard the plane died, including 23 Americans.

No matter how one looks at the crash, it’s no laughing matter. There’s the human tragedy of so many deaths, there’s the national tragedy of so many American deaths, and there’s the international concern of Russian forces shooting down planes. Putin may have bitten off more than he can chew with his Ukraine adventure, but the fact remains that it’s a big deal when the Russian military kills close to 300 people, many of them Americans, and apparently does so intentionally.

So what does Obama do in the face of this big and serious deal? He gives the event a cursory 40 second salute and then, as if by the click of switch, reverts to his prepared remarks, smiling and cracking jokes:

The videos currently available don’t quite capture Obama’s bizarre emotional transition. It remains to the press, many of whom are or have been Obama supporters, to paint a picture of his emotional distance:

Even Piers Morgan (Piers Morgan!!) was shocked by Obama’s cavalier attitude towards a human tragedy and international problem:

Singer Josh Groban added his own two cents to Morgan’s comments:

Obama’s bizarre quips and laughter have also surfaced in connection with an increasingly voiced concern that he has created a serious constitutional crisis by ignoring Congress’s laws and creating his own.  The preceding 43 presidents, if they were challenged on the ground that they violated their constitutional oath, would strike back with carefully prepared remarks justifying their conduct and pointing to authority.

That’s not what Obama has done.  Instead, as Rich Lowry details, he’s once again engaged in peculiar and inappropriate flights of “humor”:

President Barack Obama styles himself a wit, and some of his best material lately has to do with his abuse of his powers.

“Middle-class families can’t wait for Republicans in Congress to do stuff,” Obama told a crowd on the Georgetown Waterfront on July 1. “So sue me.” Hilarity ensued.

He cracked them up in Austin last week. “You hear some of them,” he said, referring to Republicans, “‘sue him,’ ‘impeach him.’ Really? Really? For what? You’re going to sue me for doing my job?”

[snip]

It takes a truly blithe spirit to play the constitutional deformation of his office, and the ensuing congressional reaction, for laughs.

Once again, rational people must look at Obama’s misplaced jocularity and think to themselves “There’s something very wrong happening there.”

Going back to that laundry list, above, detailing the most common reasons for inappropriate laughter, it seems to me that there are only a few we can discount immediately, such as Tourette syndrome, Angelman syndrome, tic disorders, etc.

Others raise themselves as real possibilities.  Take substance abuse, for example.  Given Obama’s youthful problems with marijuana and cocaine, it’s perfectly reasonable to believe that, as the stresses of his office pile up (including the stress attendant upon setting up an imperial presidency), Obama is self-medicating.  There are also perennial rumors that both Obamas, Michelle and Barack, drink too much.

If there’s no substance abuse, Obama’s bizarre behavior could stem from an organic disorder.  This disorder could run the gamut from dementia and schizophrenia to a brain tumor.

Or, of course, and perhaps most likely, we could just be seeing the grandiose stylings of a malignant narcissist drunk with power.  Surrounded by his flunkies and acolytes, enjoying the permanent job security that comes with his race, and delighting in the downfall of a country he hates (his own, as it happens), Obama may perceive himself as a man without any of the limitations that confine ordinary people.  Nothing can touch him.

Regardless of the cause, when the president of what still is, just barely, the most powerful nation in the world begins to behave abnormally in public, people have to start worrying.  Whether our president is under the influence, crazy, ill, or just power mad, we Americans are suddenly finding ourselves in exactly the same position as Europeans of old who suffered through the madness brought about by hereditary monarchs in the grip of megalomanias that resulted from everything from inbreeding, to syphilis, to the mental corruption of absolute power.

UPDATE: I know I’m on the right track when I discover that Iowahawk is on the same track:

Late Saturday afternoon round-up and Open Thread (with lots of pictures and videos)

Victorian posy of pansiesMy new washer is so efficient that (a) I’ve gotten the greater part of two-and-a-half weeks’ worth of laundry done in a few hours and (b) my old dryer is performing better than ever. Yay! I was also able to spend the time in between loads finding all sorts of interesting posts, pictures, and videos to share with you.

One other thing. In order to make it easier for you to respond to a specific issue in a long round-up, I’m going to number each segment. If this new approach is annoying, tell me; if it helps, tell me too.

*1*

Something weird happened at ABC News: Someone uploaded an article with images of forlorn children living in primitive conditions at the border, and commented that this is what President Obama would see if he bothered to make the journey.

*2*

A lot of people have noticed that Obama’s approval amongst Muslims is sky-high. There’s actually an even more interesting number: Obama’s approval amongst American Jews is at an all-time low of 55%, a 22 point drop since 2008/2009.

Yes, it’s true that more than half of American Jews still support Obama, but it’s also a stunning collapse in support for him. It seems as if American Jews are finally figuring out that Obama is not their friend.

Several years ago, I told an American Jewish woman — an Obama supporter, of course — that Obama was hostile to Israel. It was a friendly conversation, so I didn’t hector her and she didn’t scoff at me. Despite the absence of scoffing, though, I could tell she thought I was a few cards shy of a full deck. I haven’t seen her since that conversation, and I sometimes wonder if her mind wanders back to that day….

*3*

If you would like to know the Hell that Obama unleashed on Iraq by withdrawing 100% of American troops and support, Gateway Pundit has a stomach-churning “ISIS on Parade” round-up.

*4*

The refugee crisis that Obama invited on our southern border is doing what all refugee crises do: it’s bringing disease into our country (one of the things border demarcations are meant to prevent). What’s different about this refugee crisis is that our government, unlike all other governments, instead of concentrating the refugees where they can be monitored and treated, both for diseases and criminal behavior, is instantly spreading the refugees throughout America.

Considering how fond Leftists are of the canard about settlers deliberately infecting Native Americans with smallpox infested blankets, one would think that they would be alive to the dangers inherent in deliberately infecting all Americans with disease-infested people.

And of course, the Diplomad always has something interesting to add, this time regarding this refugee crisis.

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One of the beauties of narcissism is that there’s no past and no absolute truth. The past and the truth are always dictated by the needs of the moment. To the extent that the DemProgs are infected with institutional narcissism, you can see that “needs of the moment” psychology play out as Toure explains how unfair conservatives are being to Hillary Clinton.

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If you think gorgeous, courageous, well-armed women are sexy, you’re clearly not a Muslim. You’ll also like this Facebook post.

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Israelis do not target civilians. Period. To the Israeli’s great distress, civilians may sometimes die when Hamas uses them as human shields, but Israel will turn away from golden opportunities rather than knowingly strike children:

*8*

Portlandia captures the inanity and insanity of pretending gender doesn’t exist:

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And the pictures that I promised:

Rockets are indiscriminate

Pay attention

Obama's priorities 3

Highly illogical

Hillary is dead broke

Rockets aimed at the Holy City

Israel and Hamas and their civilians

Hide the rocket

Hating Jane Fonda

Something is very wrong in the Obama White House

I’m not the savviest person when it comes to body language, but even I can tell when someone is using inappropriate laughter (h/t PJ Media). In this case, that person would be Barack Obama, who is just cracking up during a meeting with Texas governor Rick Perry. This wouldn’t be a problem if Perry was laughing too. Perry, however, looks deeply disturbed and that’s not surprising. After all, the meeting is to discuss the crisis playing out on Texas’s southern border, as hundreds of thousands of Latin Americans — children, criminals, gang members, terrorists, disease carriers, sexual predators, etc. — pour into America.

Even if Obama is thrilled by the deluge (which we know he is, because he invited these people in by manifestly refusing to enforce existing laws), he should at least pretend that something serious is going on. That is, at least he should profess concern about abandoned, sick, or molested children, or something like that.

Obama thinks the border is a joke 2

Obama thinks the border is a joke

Yesterday, I said that the administration has become deeply disturbing and quite possibly dangerous. I can’t help but think that what we’re seeing is an arrogance born of insanity, which mimics quite perfectly historical examples of the mental damage unchecked power does to the people holding that power. (Examples: Nero, Caligula, Henry III, Ivan the Terrible, Elizabeth I of Russia, Peter I of Russia, Hitler, etc.) I’m not saying Obama is about to embark on Hitleresque genocide; I am saying, though, that he is increasingly unhinged.

Eventually, the ultimate question isn’t going to be impeachment (which some think is necessary, and others think is dangerous given Obama’s half-black lineage) but, instead, whether it’s time for a 25th Amendment removal for mental incapacity. (And I’m quite certain that VP Biden, with his eye on the oval office, would happily join in with a Congressional committee questioning Obama’s mental fitness to hold the office of president.)

Wednesday afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesIt’s quite amazing watching DemProg heads explode on my “real me” Facebook page. To hear them tell it, the Hobby Lobby decision was four white religious men banning women’s right to contraception across America because a mean-spirited Christian corporation demanded that they do so.

I’ve been doing my best to say that (a) Hobby Lobby always provided a broad range of contraception coverage to its employees, and is only protesting the fact that the government is forcing it to pay for contraception that can be used to cause abortions; and (b) that the Court’s narrow holding said only that the Health & Human Services contraception mandate, which is not law under Obamacare, does not pass the test set by the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which President Clinton approvingly signed. My comments are greeted with silence.

But there’s no room for silence here. I have a lot to say, and I delight in your comments. So off we go….

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I may as well start with a good Hobby Lobby round-up. All of these posts were very helpful when I was trying to craft a short, fact-filled response to confused DemProgs on Facebook.

Both Elizabeth Warren’s and Hillary Clinton’s responses to the decision show that (a) it’s amazing they graduated from law school, let alone, in Warren’s case, became teachers and (b) that they’re each as bad as the other, and that’s saying a lot. Let me say again what I learned from taking Warren’s Banking Law class a long time ago: she’s soft-spoken and mean; she’s a muddled thinker; she’s an incoherent communicator; and there’s a lot of anger there. (Warning:  this article might be behind a pay wall, but you can demolish that pay wall for a mere 99 cents per month.)

I found an exceptionally good trio of cases from the crew at National Review (which really excels at this type of analysis:

Charles C. W. Cooke points out that a great deal of the DemProg’s hysteria derives from the fact that they don’t understand that the Supreme Court’s role is to interpret law, not to enact it. That’s not surprising. DemProgs want their (not any, but their) president to enact law and, trained by Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade — both of which involved the Court creating rights out of whole cloth, for better or worse — actually believe that the court exists to enact a DemProg-approved agenda.

Ramesh Ponnuru explains how illogical, hysterical, and unrealistic Ruth Ginsburg was in her dissent — something that explains why DemProgs are so wildly excited by what she wrote.

Ross Douthat notes that DemProgs are exceptionally sore, and dishonest, winners. This reflects the fact that the Hobby Lobby decision peeled out a tiny corner of religious freedom in the face of a vast government takeover of . . . everything.

And finally, one of Jonah Goldberg’s best, in which he explains out that it wasn’t the Court putting the employer in women’s uterus, it was the Obama administration. That accurate analysis kind of puts a different spin on this poster, which DemProgs are excitedly passing around through social media:

Who makes medical decisions

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Obama’s a chart topper: After thinking it over, Americans agree that Barack Obama is the worst president this country has seen since the end of WWII (and Ronald Reagan is the best). The only problem with this confirmation of my bias is that, for me to be proved right, the country has had to suffer terribly. It’s no fun being Cassandra.

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On the subject of Obamacare, Kevin Williamson allows himself a bit of schadenfreude, and it makes for brilliant reading.

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When I heard about the IRS’s “dog at my hard drive” excuse for the missing emails from Lois Lerner and six other key employees, I immediately said “that’s spoliation” and it’s bad.  It turns out that  the IRS’s conduct was even worse than I remembered at the time I made this statement.

The IRS wasn’t just hiding stuff from Congress, which could be classified as political game-playing. By the time it lost the emails, the back-up and the hard-drive, it was engaged in litigation that placed upon it a heavy legal burden to do everything possible to preserve any material that could be germane to the lawsuits. A judge with any reverence for the law should come down on the IRS like a ton of bricks for this behavior, even if it was “merely” negligent, as opposed to a deliberate fraud on the court.

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The Founders did not imagine an America of incredible wisdom, by incredible wisdom, and for incredible wisdom. Madison readily envisioned that the government would be able to function despite man’s worst nature. However, even the Founders’ checks and balances didn’t comprehend a president and his supporters who would willingly cast aside constitutional governance.

Sadly, judging by changes made to the AP US history test, which drives US history curriculum at high schools across America, things aren’t going to get better any time soon. Since our children are prevented from learning the Founders’ wisdom, they can’t institute those ideas into their understanding of government.

And, while Boehner’s lawsuit is a step in the right direction, I remain dubious that it will accomplish anything. I’m with Andrew McCarthy in that I fear it will simply see the House cede power to the courts. At the rate Congress is ceding power to the other branches of government, it becomes nothing but an expensive Kabuki piece.

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The kind of people who vote for Hillary won’t care that, on July 4th, this potential presidential candidate has decided to spend her time with a British, America-bashing newspaper. That’s what DemProgs do, and they’re damn proud of it too.

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For years, people have been trying to figure out what the “Obama doctrine” is. Jeffrey Anderson thinks he knows: the Obama doctrine is Obama’s belief that, when Americans voted him into office, they got a twofer — both a president and a legislator.

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Earlier today, I posted that, whether one agrees or not with the cheerleader who is also a big game hunter, disagreement is not a basis for censorship. DemProg, chart-topping songstress Diane Warren has different idea altogether. She thinks that disagreement is a basis for murder. Assuming Warren survives the coming ISIS sharia takeover, she should fit in quite well with the Islamist mindset.

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I’m not a BBC fan, but this rap version of WWI’s origins is cute.

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And finally, pictures!

Democrats are brave enough

Me myself and I

Plenty of room on the calendar

Reasons for owning guns

Illegal immigrants displace veterans

(Thanks to Caped Crusader, the Family Back East, and Earl Aagaard for their help with this post.)

Bret Stephens explains precisely why the West cannot let Iran get the bomb *UPDATED*

nuclear-explosionThe Left liked to call George Bush a “cowboy,” implying that there was no telling what he’d do.  Even the Left, of course, must have understood that this was a rhetorical trope and that there was no possibility that Bush would ever push the red button and start a nuclear war.  He may have been feisty, but he wasn’t crazy.

What I’ve been saying forever, though, is that Iran is in fact crazy.  Unlike Christians, who merely prepare for the coming apocalypse, the Shiites in Iran believe that it is their obligation to bring about the apocalypse.  When Iranian leaders talks about wiping Iran’s enemies from the face of the earth, they aren’t just playing tough for the camera.  Their core religious belief urges them towards doing what they can to rush towards Armageddon.

That’s just my opinion, of course.  But it’s also the opinion of a Middle East expert like Bret Stephen, as he explains in this easy-to-understand video examining Iran’s belief system, her hierarchy of enemies, and the reach she has once she creates a deliverable nuclear weapon:

Stephens wraps up the video by saying (emphasis mine):

Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a man often described as a “moderate” and a “pragmatist” in the Western press, articulated the Iranian position this way:

If one day the Islamic world is also equipped with weapons, like those that Israel possesses now, then the Imperial a strategy will reach a standstill because the use of even one nuclear bomb inside Israel will destroyed everything. However, one bomb will only harm the Islamic world.

He’s right. That’s why the civilized and sensible leaders of the world cannot allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons — because once the Iranians do, they will pose a severe threat to the security of America and Europe, spark a regional arms race that could see the world’s worst players acquire the world’s worst weapons, and threaten the Jews with extermination for the second time in a century. Or, to put it more simply, Iran cannot be allowed to get the bomb because they might actually use it.

Think about that line that “the civilized and sensible leaders of the world cannot allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.” Now think about the fact that President Obama, rather than pressuring Iran to stop its nuclear program, has lifted sanctions on Iran based on nothing more than its leaders’ promises that their country’s frenetic nuclear work is just for power plants.

These are lies so barefaced that a kindergartner could see through them. Obama too must know that they are lies, leading to only a few possible conclusions: First, per Stephens, Obama is neither civilized nor sensible. Second, Obama is insane. Third, Obama approves of Iran’s nuclear goals.

UPDATE:  Given Obama’s fecklessness, not to mention is unseemly yearning for a “deal” that allows Iran to get the bomb, Israel is getting very concerned.