The Bookworm Beat 6-8-15 — the “heat wave” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265Thanks to global warming, we didn’t have our usual heat wave in May this year but, instead, had a series of extremely cold, often foggy and windy, days. Also, thanks to global warming, we didn’t have our usual three-day long heat wave in the first week of June this year, with the weather instead continuing to be extremely cold, as well as foggy and windy. Today, however, we had a hot day, so I guess that damn global warming is backing off a little.

I spent my day writing legal documents, and shlepping my mother to various appointments. I would have preferred to recline at my computer, reading and writing, while taking sips of a cool ice tea. Still, I am singularly blessed to have paying work and a living mother, so I can’t complain too much. (Or more accurately, I shouldn’t complain too much. Sadly, my temperament being what it is, I’m always capable of complaining.) I’m still working away, making up for work time spent with Mom, but there’s so much I want to share with you, I’ll just sneak in a few minutes of blogging here.

Captain Picard supports embattled British gay bakers

Considering that Patrick Stewart, aka Captain Picard from Star Trek : The Next Generation, is a good, card-carrying British Lefty, I almost fell out of my chair when I read this:

Patrick Stewart has weighed into the ‘gay cake’ debate, saying that he supports the right of the Christian bakers to refuse to ice messages they find offensive.

Ashers Bakery lost a court case after refusing to make a cake with the words “support gay marriage” above a picture of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street.

The McArthur family who own the bakery were found guilty of unlawful discrimination and fined £500.

[snip]

While many celebrated the ruling as a blow for equal rights, Patrick Stewart said that he backed the bakery.

Talking on Newsnight, the actor said: “Finally, I found myself on the side of the bakers.”

Stewart argued that nobody should be forced to write specific text that they disagreed with.

“It was not because it was a gay couple that they objected, it was not because they were celebrating some sort of marriage or an agreement between them,” said Stewart. “It was the actual words on the cake they objected to. Because they found the words offensive.”

He continued: “I would support their rights to say no, this is personally offensive to my beliefs, I will not do it.”

Make it so, Captain Picard!  Make it so!!!

Netanyahu goes on the offensive against the world

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is going on the offensive, not just against the Muslims raining rockets down on his country, but against a world that sits silent while this happens, only to speak up when Israel dares to respond to these deadly attacks:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu slammed the international community on Sunday morning for failing to condemn Gaza rocket fire at southern Israel.

“I did not hear a single member of the international community condemn the attack, and the UN did not say a word,” Netanyahu said. “I’m interested to see if the silence will continue when we act in self defense.”

“It should be clear: the hypocrisy that is sweeping the world will not chain our hands from defending the citizens of Israel,” he added.

Caroline Glick has also noticed that Netanyahu is taking on the world, and she too thinks it’s a good thing:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new government is less than a month old, but it’s already apparent that it is different from its predecessors. And if it continues on its current diplomatic trajectory, it may do something that its six predecessors failed to accomplish. Netanyahu’s new government may improve Israel’s position internationally.

[snip]

The flagship of the diplomatic war against Israel is the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Participants in the movement propagate and disseminate the libelous claim that Israel’s use of force in self-defense is inherently immoral and illegal. Over the years BDS activists’ assaults on Israel’s right to exist have become ever more shrill and radical. So, too, whereas just a few years ago their operations tended to be concentrated around military confrontations, today they are everyday occurrences. And their demands become greater and more openly anti-Semitic from week to week and day to day.

[snip]

The time has come, then, for Israel to take the wheels off the wagon.

For the past dozen years or so, pro-Israel activists in the US in particular have been fighting an uphill, lonely battle against the organizations promoting the BDS movement. Among their top complaints has been the constant refrain that the Israeli government has undermined their actions by standing silent or denying what was happening or treating Israel’s defenders as the moral equivalents of its adversaries.

[snip]

All the while, Israel’s diplomatic standing has gone from weak to incapacitated.

Against this backdrop, statements and actions by the new Netanyahu government are encouraging because, unlike its predecessors, it seems to have stopped playing the fool.

At the outset of this week’s cabinet meeting, Netanyahu spoke out angrily and specifically against the BDS movement and warned that Israel must not blame itself for the BDS haters’ assaults against it.

As he put it, “The last thing we need to do is to bow our heads and ask where we went wrong, where we erred. We have done nothing wrong and we have not erred. We are not a perfect country; we do not pretend to be such, but they are setting standards for us that are both twisted and higher than those for any other country, any other democracy.”

It’s high time Israel stops making nice with her enemies worldwide and, instead, starts calling them out on their gross and blatant hypocrisy. Meanwhile, Israel lives up to her standards by doing everything she can to protect those Druze citizens living in Syria.

Stay classy, United States Air Force

I’m ambivalent about Air Force General Hawk Carlisle’s decision to call an ISIS fighter a “moron.” As all those great cartoons and movies from WWII show, there’s a lot to be said for ridiculing the enemy. However, I think that ridicule somehow works better coming from the public sector, rather than from a high-ranking officer. It seems to diminish his rank, more than it ridicules the enemy.

Be that as it may, I think it’s also bad to boast about using social media to target terrorists. Armed with this knowledge, I suspect that next time the terrorists will be more careful.

Here’s some good WWII social satire:

A boxer remembers his tough, tough grandfather

Dustin Fleischer is an up-and-coming Jewish boxer training at Gleason’s gym in Brooklyn. He comes by his toughness honestly:

Fleischer, who grew up in Monmouth Beach on the Jersey Shore, can recount his grandfather’s tale of survival in dark detail: how he hid in the attic while the Nazis murdered his family; how he was shot three times while trying to escape a concentration camp; how the gun jammed and he was left to die in the heart of winter; how he miraculously survived and slept between horses to stay warm; how he joined the Jewish resistance.

“As far as a fighter, it gives me so much strength in the ring to have his bloodline run through me,” Fleischer says later. “To know that he could survive something like that. It pushes me to reach my goal of becoming a world champion.”

Incidentally, as the same article explains, Jews have periodically made a name for themselves in the boxing world, going all the way back to the late 18th century in England.

A victory in King v. Burwell could unshackle the economy

I wrote here the other day about the fact that a lot of Republicans are worried that, if the Supreme Court overturns Obamacare, Republicans will be in trouble because they’ll be viewed as having destroyed the subsidies that so many Americans have come to know and love. Richard Pecore, however, points to an upside that could and should make all those petty subsidies irrelevant:

Without subsidies, the employer mandate is toothless, because employers are only fined if their uninsured workers go to an exchange and get a subsidy.

Employers who have been struggling to keep their workforce under 50 (where ObamaCare kicks in) and use part-timers (who aren’t subject to ObamaCare) won’t have to worry any more.

Nullifying the employer mandate is likely to ignite a hiring boom.

According to the US Chamber of Commerce, that looming mandate has caused 21 percent of small businesses to reduce workers’ hours, 41 percent to delay hiring and 27 percent of franchises (such as fast-food restaurants) to replace full-timers with part-timers.

People facing a penalty for being uninsured will also come out ahead. Without subsidies, most will be exempted from the penalty, saving them $2,000 on average next year.

Despite Democrats’ dire warnings, the poor won’t be hurt. An amazing 89 percent of people who are newly insured because of ObamaCare are on Medicaid, which won’t be affected.

Thank you, Mr. Pecore, for that cheering reality-check.

“I defaulted on my student loan because I’m an entitle s**thead.”

Lee Siegel has a New York Times opinion piece in which he explains why he defaulted on a student loan secured by the taxpayers of the United States of America. The short version is “I’m an entitled s**thead who chose an expensive college that I couldn’t possibly afford and then, when the bill came due, which would have forced me to take a real job to pay it, I stared deeply into my navel, and decided that, being an entitled s**thead, I could do whatever I wanted and leave the bill to working and middle class Americans.”

If I had my way, the Siegel’s of the world would be prosecuted and, ideally, imprisoned for fraud and various types of theft. Back in the day, I did something weird: I went to colleges I could afford, so I required minimal student loans and, when I left college, I worked hard and spent little so that I could pay off those loans.

Bruce Jenner will always be a mere simulacrum of a woman

D.C. McAllister has an interesting point, which is that being a woman isn’t simply about the proper chromosomes, boobs, vagina, hormones, etc. — instead, it’s about the sum total of our life experience growing up female, which mostly means our life experience going through puberty. Just as boys had the dubious delights of cracking voices and uncontrollable erections, girls got embarrassing in-your-face boobs (or equally embarrassing non-existent boobs) and periods with all the pain, inconvenience, and inevitable embarrassment.

Those experiences are part of who and what we are. We didn’t go to a grocery store to buy the bits and pieces we need, or to have cut off the parts we no longer want. We developed along with our sexual identity.

Incidentally, if you haven’t yet read Mark Steyn’s brilliant post on what it use to mean to be a transsexual, and how the Left has managed to pervert even that experience, drop everything and read it. Here’s the core idea but, as always, Steyn develops it so well, at such length, and with so much elan you must read the whole thing to appreciate it fully:

The coronation of Caitlyn is ultimately not about the right to choose which of the two old teams you want to play on. It’s about creating a cool new team. The “T” was always the relatively sleepy end of LGBT, and didn’t ostensibly have much in common with the other three-quarters of the acronym. The company it keeps only makes sense if the object of transitioning is not to “pass” but to create a new assertive identity group in and of itself.

Feminist Elinor Burkett is irritated by something else, which is that everyone who celebrates Jenner’s coming out party is also reinforcing the old-fashioned, 1950s-style stereotypes of women as emotionally-sensitive bimbos obsessed with clothes and make-up.

Kevin Williamson shreds the NYT’s attack on Marco Rubio’s driving record

If you haven’t read Kevin Williamson writing about the NYT’s attack on Rubio’s driving record, you must. I’m running out of time, so let me just repeat that: read it!

SPOILER ALERTS: House of Cards, Season 3, Episode 7 — after jumping the shark, show goes full anti-Israel

House of CardsHaving now watched episodes 6 and 7 in House of Cards, I’m done with the show. I’m freeing up several hours of my life to read books, write, visit with friends — indeed, do anything but watch something that’s turned into yet another boring, polemic, Leftist wish factory.

BEWARE — HERE BE SPOILERS. If you haven’t given up on House of Cards, don’t read past this paragraph. You’ll regret it if you do.

[Read more…]

The Bookworm Beat 2-4-15 — The “Obama’s not sad” edition and Open Thread

Woman writingIt’s been pouring paying clients lately, which is a good thing but, as always, it cuts into my blogging time.  I’ll skip the preliminaries and throw myself in the round-up.

It’s a bad thing when our president is happy

My Mom, in commenting on the state of the world today, said “Everybody’s unhappy.” I disagreed. “Obama is happy,” I said. “So is Iran.”

Why are these two happy? Because Obama is working on a grand plan that will hand the Middle East over to nuclear Imams from Iran, that’s why. Victor Davis Hanson carefully breaks the Obama strategy down. You should definitely read VDH’s post, but be prepared to be depressed for hours or even days afterwards.

As for those Sunni outposts that Iran cannot reach or does not want to control, there’s always Obama’s good friend The Muslim Brotherhood.

And that’s why Obama’s happy.

The Jordanian pilot’s immolation is even making Progressives scared . . . except for Obama

[Read more…]

[VIDEO] Brilliant Netanyahu campaign commercial

Wow! Can you imagine if American elections had commercials this good? It plays at so many levels: Superficially, it’s just plain funny. It also subtly and ably attacks the candidates running against Netayanhu. Lastly, at a very visceral level, the commercial forces voters to ask themselves which candidate will best care for their children — all without mentioning any of the ugly threats facing Israel:

Hat tip: Sadie

White House Alinsky-izes Bibi

Alinsky rule No. 13:  “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”

Today’s news:

Senior officials in the White House have said that Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “is desperate and weak,” in reaction to Netanyahu’s remonstrations against the deal struck with Iran over its nuclear weapons program.

Israeli television Channel 10 quoted the officials as saying “His pronouncements show a lack of self-confidence,” in an unusually harsh personal attack on Netanyahu. “We are not perturbed by his vocal opposition.”

In fact, given that Israel’s former friend just stabbed her in the back and put a target on her for Iran’s benefit, Netanyahu is acting powerfully, not weakly. Weak would be to acquiesce to this evil conduct (and I have mentioned before that Obama has now aligned America with an Axis of Evil or an Evil Empire?). Strong is to speak out loudly, repeatedly, and clearly against a Chamberlain-esque travesty of “peace.”

Hat tip: Gateway Pundit

When a gun is a gun and not a flower

Hippie puts flower in gun
The photo above must be one of the most iconic images from the hippie, anti-war period.  A youthful anti-Vietnam War protester, faced with a ring of National Guard troops pointing their rifles at him, carefully places a flower in each muzzle.  He thinks, no doubt, that the flowers have magically converted the guns into harmless instruments.  The troops, however, know that their rifles are still rifles.  The only thing that’s preventing them from firing is their inherent decency and, of course, the lack of any order telling them to pull the trigger.  The flower didn’t change anything; it’s the underlying morality that matters.

I thought of this liberal delusion — that guns can magically be transformed into harmless flowers — when Hube brought to my attention the clarity with which Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about the existential threat facing Israel, and about the West’s passivity in the face of this threat:

“The leaders of the Allies knew about the Holocaust in real time,” Netanyahu said at the opening of a permanent exhibit called “Shoah” in Block 27 at the Auschwitz- Birkenau State Museum.

“They understood exactly what was happening in the death camps. They were asked to act, they could have acted, and they did not.

“To us Jews the lesson is clear: We must not be complacent in the face of threats of annihilation. We must not bury our heads in the sand or allow others to do the work for us. We will never be helpless again.”

To stare down the muzzle of a rifle is a remarkably clarifying moment.  Why aren’t we having such clarifying moments in America despite the Islamists’ relentless war against America and Western values?  I think the problem is perfectly summed up by the young man in that photo:  reality-challenged Progressive think that, by pretending the rifle is a flower, it will magically become one.  That’s not how rifles or flowers work.

Sheldon Adelson schools an Israeli Leftist in logic

America’s not the only one with crazed Leftists.  I managed to miss the fact that Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert just accused Sheldon Adelson of using Benjamin Netanyahu as his puppet in this election.  Adelson utterly destroys that canard and, to my delight, he does so in three short paragraphs that are a triumph of classic logic over arrant nonsense.  Go there and enjoy!

Our feckless president

We all recall how Michael Moore mercilessly savaged George Bush because, when the first reports about the 9/11 terrorist attacks began, Bush was reading a story book to small children, and chose not to run screaming out of the room.  Fast-forward eleven years and we have a president who boasts that he’s better than everybody at doing anything.  Apparently he’s now decided to one-up Bush’s insouciance in the face of imminent disaster.

Yesterday was not a good day for America.  First, it was the eleventh anniversary of the most deadly attack ever launched against U.S. soil.  More than 3,000 American civilians died, horribly, over the course of a few hours, and they did so at the hands of people in thrall to radical Islam.  Obama celebrated this anniversary by campaigning, talking music with a pimp with a limp, and by sending a nice message to the Arab Forum on Asset Recovery.  Feckless.

Moving on from past tragedy to imminent disaster, radical Islamists attacked the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.  The Embassy responded before the attack by apologizing explicitly for Free Speech and doubled-down on that apology after the attack.  Hillary Clinton — Obama’s highest State Department official — reiterated the spineless apology.  The administration has tried now to walk back the statement, claiming that it didn’t authorize it (something that rings untrue in light of Hillary’s conduct) but the damage is done:

But the damage control being performed in Washington isn’t enough to put the administration’s stand in a positive light. If the initial apology resonated around the world it was because it was very much in line with the tone of moral equivalence that was the keynote of President Obama’s speech to the Arab world given in Cairo in June 2009. Having set forth a credo that balanced understanding for grievances against U.S. policies with a desire to conciliate its critics rather than to forthrightly defend America and its allies, the president cannot now be surprised when the instinct of U.S. representatives abroad, and especially those in Cairo, is to apologize first and to be resolute later.

Feckless.

The news of what happened in Egypt was swiftly followed by a report that “rebels” had stormed the American embassy in Benghazi, killing one person.  It only got worse.  We learned today that Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others were deliberately murdered — Christopher by alleged “suffocation,” and the three others by gun shots.  The murderers than did the usual Arab thing of dragging the Ambassador’s body through the streets.  Honestly, they’re so primitive out there that, if it wasn’t for the Koran’s dietary proscriptions, I suspect they would have gone all Aztec or Druid and eaten his heart.

Obama’s response was swift:  He’s heading for Vegas.  He did take time out from his busy campaign season this morning, however, to make a short statement.  Considering that he used this statement to jettison the First Amendment, maybe it would have been better if he’d just kept quiet and gotten on the Vegas plane.

Romney, incidentally, gave a speech in favor of Free Speech.  He clearly understands that yesterday’s events are not the pathetic Arab have-nots standing up against the arrogant and cruel American haves.  Instead, what we saw yesterday was the latest outbreak in a war between the backwards, repressed, bloodthirsty world and American exceptionalism, a doctrine founded on individual freedom, which is inextricably intertwined with Free Speech.

Maybe it’s no wonder that Obama was caught flat-footed.  He’s been so busy with campaigns and phone calls to rock stations and TV appearances that he hasn’t had any time for security briefings in the last week.  Yet more evidence, as if we need it, that Obama’s priorities are all about . . . Obama.  Feckless wretch.

Obama didn’t do any better in his dealings with Israel’s existential nightmare — a nuclear Iran.  The first reports were that Obama refused to speak to Netanhayu at all.  Fear not, Obama fans.  This doesn’t mean he’s too busy to do the really important stuff, such as making an appearance on David Letterman’s show.

When the uproar became too great to tolerate, Obama announced that he spoke on the phone for one hour with Netanyahu.  Think about that:  Israel, America’s only stable, democratic ally in the Middle East is facing a potential nuclear holocaust, and Obama is able to carve out a single hour from his busy schedule of shmoozing and begging for money.  As Roger Simon asks, how can Jews continue to ally themselves with Obama and Democrat party?

Obama is the most feckless president in American history, especially when it comes to the Middle East.  Or maybe he’s not feckless at all.  Worse, maybe this is part of a grand plan and ideology.

 

What? Obama couldn’t cancel one golf game to help save Israel from being destroyed? *UPDATED*

The situation between Israel and Iran is heating up dramatically.  Yesterday, Iran boasted it has a missile that can reach any Israeli city.  For years, Iran has been loud and clear about it’s intense desire to incinerate Israel.  The IAEA has conceded that Iran is on the verge of having nuclear weapons.  With all this, Israel is rightfully nervous.  So, naturally, Netanyahu wants to talk to the country that is, ostensibly at least, Israel’s greatest ally.  And keep in mind that, even if we’re not Israel’s greatest ally (I think Canada probably is right now), we’ve technically been at war with Iran since 1979.

So what does Obama do?  He says “No, I will not talk to you PM Netanyahu.”  And why won’t Obama talk?  Because he is too busy:

Yup, it’s right there on Drudge (in the upper left hand corner): Obama’s “schedule full.” This is a guy who spent more hours on the golf course than he did either spending time at his national security briefing or meeting with his job’s council. So one has to ask: Does Obama think that a potential Armageddon is not a good reason to cancel just one round of golf?

Obama, is a very, very bad man:

UPDATE: How could I have been so wrong? The President didn’t snub Netanyahu, a friendly nation facing an existential threat, because the President wanted to play golf. Really! What was I thinking? I don’t appreciate our President at all. The reason he’s got a full schedule is so that he has to go on the Letterman show. That explains it, of course.  My bad.

I guess he also needed time to spend on September 11, a sacred day of mourning to many Americans, campaigning (although he promised not to do so) and apologizing for Americans’ exercise of Free Speech. What a guy! What an American president. Really, it makes me all teary eyed to think that he’s ours.

Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) *UPDATED*

As a Jew, the Holocaust is always with me.  When I whine about something (which I often do), I’m instantly stricken with guilt because I know that, 70 years ago, across Europe, women with lives similar to mine (middle-aged, middle-class) were suddenly pitched into a nightmarish maelstrom from which there was no escape.

Am I shlepping heavy groceries from the car?  At least I have food.  Do those new shoes I bought pinch my feet?  Not only am I shod, but my shoes haven’t been stripped from my body as a preliminary to herding me into a gas chamber.  Am I feeling a bit ill or suffering a migraine?  I could be laboring in the quarry at Mauthausen, starved, diseased, abused, and alone.

I don’t have survivor’s guilt.  I have second-generation survivor’s guilt.  On the one hand, I know how lucky I am and how blessed my life is.  On the other hand, I can never, ever escape the mental images of those who thought they had my luck, only to see it vanish as if it had never happened.

We only think we’re not on the volcano’s edge.  We all are.  It’s just that some of us have lives that allow us to pretend the sulfurous fumes aren’t actually rising up around us.  I may not live a Hobbesian life at this moment, but there is actually very little between me and a moral entropy that threatens violence and horrible death.

One day a year, we take the inchoate guilt and anxiety that plague most Jews (and many non-Jews?) and declare it an official remembrance day.  That day is Yom Hashoah.  With every passing year, there are fewer people alive who have first hand memories of the Holocaust.  It is therefore up to us to carry the torch and try, through the act of memory, to beat back the darkness surrounding us.

Here is my post on the Holocaust, one that looks at those who lived through it, those who escape from it, and those who were pitched into a Pacific, rather than European, Holocaust.

Here is Bruce Kesler’s post about the village that saw his family’s end.

Here is The Political Commentator’s post.

And here is a link to a book that Bruce recommended: Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin. The book isn’t actually about Europe as a whole.  It’s about a specific geographic area bounded by Germany and the Soviet Union, but one that tellingly did not include Germany itself or the core Soviet States.  It was in this territory, Belarus, Poland, the Ukraine, etc., that the Nazis and the Soviets put into effect the greatest killing effort in human history, something that would not be seen again until Mao visited his Great Leap Forward on his own hapless Chinese people.

In this geographic area — the Bloodlands of the title — the Soviets and the Nazis systematically starved, shot, gassed, and creatively killed millions of fellow Europeans, many of whom the Nazis shipped in from far-flung geographic points.  The victims’ crime?  They were enemies of the state, whether because they were Jews, gypsies, farmers, POWs from the opposing side’s armies, political dissidents, political ignoramuses, or anything or anyone else the state feared.

The book’s lesson is clear from the first page:  While one can easily find individuals with no conscience, an individual’s reach is limited.  That’s not the case when it comes to a start whose citizens allow it to seize unfettered power.  A state that has no conscience (and when does a state collective ever have a soul?) can too easily become a killing machine.

When savvy people figure out that I’m a conservative, they often ask why.  I think they are surprised when I don’t launch into a long discourse about policies and goals.  I say only one thing:  “I fear anything that consolidates too much power.  The bigger an entity, the more mischief it can do.  I like to keep political power reasonable diffused.  A government should be big enough to be useful, but not so big that it becomes both unstoppable and very dangerous.”

UPDATEBenjamin Netanyahu’s Yom Hashoah speech.