The Bookworm Beat (10/21/14) — Still catching up with email edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingIt’s always the same: Over the weekend, because of family demands, I get almost no time at my computer, and my email starts to back up. By Tuesday, between my two email accounts, I have several hundred unread emails. I then do the logical thing: I cravenly avoid my computer. Finally, late on Tuesday or perhaps by Wednesday, my conscience finally catches up with me and I embark on a frenzy of responding to emails, reading articles, and posting.

I’m heading for my frenzy now, although I’m somewhat hamstrung by the various drives I have to make on behalf of young people who cannot drive themselves. By the time you read this post, I’ll have been working on it intermittently for several hours, so I sure hope it’s good.

An obligatory comment about Monica Lewinsky

She still loves Bill; Drudge destroyed her life; and it’s everyone’s fault but her own that her life imploded when her affair with the president went public. Even the world’s smallest violin is too big and noisy to express how little I feel for Monica Lewinsky.

Lewinsky wasn’t 15 when she embarked on an affair with Clinton, in which case the fault would be entirely his. She was 24, by which time she was old enough to have a moral compass that said “You don’t have an affair with a married man,” and also old enough to have figured out that, considering that her partner in adultery was the president of the United States, when/if the fecal matter finally hit the fan, it would be a Cat 5 fecal storm.

It was not Matt Drudge’s fault; it was not the “bullying” media’s fault; it was not Lucianne Goldberg’s fault; it was not even Hillary’s fault, much as I would love to blame her just because I don’t like her: it was Monica’s fault and Bill’s fault, and neither is excused by the bad behavior of the other. Both behaved immorally, both tempted fate, and both got caught.

The only thing that’s really unfair is that Bill didn’t end up as ignominiously as Monica did. Apparently the party that oh-so-valiantly fights for women everywhere (as long as they’re not in politically correct Muslim countries or homes) was happy to kick Monica to the curb, while feting and enriching and even worshiping the man who let her take the fall.

How the New York Times is spinning WMDs

Up until Bush actually invaded Iraq, everyone and his uncle thought that Saddam Hussein had WMDs. Indeed, as the New York Times recently made clear, everyone and his uncle (at least if they worked in the American government) knew that Hussein had WMDs . . . because the US had given them to Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war. With this knowledge finally out there, Bush ought to be vindicated and the Democrats ought to be ashamed, except that in the looking glass world of American politics, that’s not what’s happening.

Presumably because of embarrassment about having given these WMDs to Hussein, during the Iraq War the Pentagon kept their discovery a secret, even though revealing them would have vindicated the decision to go to war. Meanwhile, back in the present, following Obama’s pullout from Iraq, leaving it ripe for ISIS, the New York Times is saying that these particular WMDs don’t count, precisely because they were old and American, rather than shiny new and Iraqi.  I’m unclear on why they’re less WMD for this reason, but there you have it. (If you see the NYT’s author, C.J. Chivers, on The Colbert Report, he makes this point explicit.)

So, in a swirl of finger-pointing, embarrassment, and misdirection, we once again lose sight of the main point: Saddam Hussein had WMDs. Sure, we gave them to him when he was sort of our ally, but the fear in 2003 was that, when he turned out to be our enemy, he might use our weapons against us — kind of like it’s reasonable to fear now that ISIS will use against us the American weapons that the US military accidentally delivered into its hands (if ISIS reports are accepted as true).

VDH has more on the whole WMD story.

On immigration and amnesty, the only word I can think of is “impeachment”

I don’t need to say anything. Drudge says it all:

Fullscreen capture 10212014 40850 PM.bmp

Oh, and I guess impeachment is the word I’m thinking of when it comes to Obama’s attempt to evade Congressional scrutiny of his deal with Iran.  I certainly can’t think of any decent, upright, moral, pro-America, pro-ally reason for him to do that.

A few words about ISIS’s latest video

The latest ISIS-released video gets me back to a point I’ve made before about ISIS. This particular video shows a father leading the charge when it comes to stoning his daughter to death for dishonoring the family through alleged adultery.  Other than those specifics, though, it’s pure ISIS:  Men torturing and murdering women, children, teenagers, and other men.

What makes ISIS different from all other torturers in the modern era is that other bad actors tried to hide their barbarism from the world at large (although they rubbed their own people’s nose in it to make sure the people stayed at heel).

The Soviet Union hid its terrors in the Kremlin basement and in Siberian gulags. When Westerners came to town, the Soviets showed their shiny happy face. The same holds true today when visitors go to Cuba or North Korea: they get taken on the rounds of all the polished, “successful” looking communities, while the government hides the fear, poverty, and despair that underpins its regime. (Think too of the Potemkin walls China put up around ghettos in Beijing for the Olympics.) The Nazis, even though they used fear to control people within their territory, were secretive about their most foul plans.  The most grotesque emanations of their foul ideology took place Gestapo headquarters in occupied territory or in concentration camps.

But not ISIS. The videos we see of beheadings and stonings and crucifixions aren’t copies smuggled out of occupied territory by resistance groups trying to make the world aware that ISIS is a truly terrible entity. Instead, ISIS proudly circulates these videos to the four corners of the earth.

The word “proud” is important. ISIS doesn’t distribute these snuff films merely to strike fear in the hearts of weak Westerners. It does so because, just as we promote the products of our factories, singers, dancers, intellectuals, painters, and architects because our own sensibility says that these products reflect well on us, ISIS believes that it is showing its best face when it crucifies teenagers, beheads babies, or makes a party out of a father stoning his own daughter to death.

To ISIS, snuff films are the good stuff that they have to offer:  “You can go to New York, and all that you’ll see are some big buildings, shows, art work, and a tall green woman on an island. But if you come to Iraq, you’ll get to kill people in the most brutal way possible. ISIS: It’s the Islamic vacation paradise!”

In 2001, Holiday Inn accurately predicted the US response to Ebola:

From Maetenloch, at Ace of Spades:

Mark Steyn was prescient too….

While we’re talking about successful tea-leaf reading, Ed Driscoll says that Mark Steyn accurately, yet satirically, predicted Monica Lewinsky’s retrospective about her moment of infamy.

The Lewinsky essay appears in Steyn’s new book, The [Un]Documented Mark Steyn, a collection of his essays. At $29.95, the autographed hardback isn’t cheap but, if you buy it, you’ll not only get a great book with Steyn’s signature, but you’ll also help fund his continued litigation against unrivaled fraudster, Michael Mann (of the false hockey stick climate change canard).

I have to admit that I’ll be waiting for the Kindle version. Because of the arthritis in my wrists, I no longer want big, heavy books. They’re just too hard to hold. And because of my vision, which is about 20/2000 along with age-related far-sightedness, I like the way Kindle allows me to make my text nice and big. I console myself that, when I buy the Kindle version (assuming there is one) some part of that purchase price will still make it into Steyn’s pocket.

The LGBTQ mafia goes after Robert Oscar Lopez

If the name Robert Oscar Lopez is familiar to you, it’s probably because you’ve read his articles over at American Thinker. Lopez, a bisexual English professor who was raised by two moms, opted for traditional marriage. Indeed, he and his wife just had their second child. Unfortunately for Lopez, he’s a man of conscience and, with the societal elevation of same-sex couples who adopt, special order, or use egg or sperm donated babies, he’s bravely asserted that same-sex parenting shouldn’t be encouraged. According to Lopez, same-sex homes are not like other homes and it’s unfair to bring a child into that environment. As a result, he’s become one of the most reviled men in America, insofar as the LGBTQ lobby is targeting him in the most vicious and inciteful terms imaginable.

As between bad foster care and a loving same-sex couple, I think it’s a no-brainer. But there’s a lot weirdness about same-sex couples who sort of create their own babies. I know a lesbian couple that had a gay friend inseminate the more feminine half of the couple. The resulting baby was a boy. The moms are good women and very attentive parents, except that the woman who bore him hates men so much that she cannot stand to have her own son touch her. Meanwhile the other partner also hates men with ferocity, so she’s remarkably cool about the kid. What kind of a home life is that?

When I read the news, I know that biological mixed sex parents can be pretty horrible too. Nevertheless, history and data tell us that the worst situation happens to the step child or, in our non-marrying age, the child living with a boyfriend who hasn’t even married his mother. Adults in a household with a non-biological child seem to yield to some atavistic imperative to stomp out this vulnerable creature that doesn’t have their genetic lineage. I can’t imagine that doesn’t hold true for same-sex couples too.

And a little child shall lead them

If I were a political candidate, I wouldn’t necessarily listen to a 20-year-old college student giving me advice about employment policies, nuclear negotiations, or executive management. I would definitely listen to that same college student, though, for advice about how to communicate with the youth of his generation. And finally, Republican politicians seem to be figuring out that, when it comes to political messaging, it is indeed a little child who shall lead them.

An Ebola timeline

One of the first things I do when I write a legal brief is create a timeline. Seeing how events relate to each other in time can be quite edifying, and it can expose unexpected strengths and weaknesses in ones case. Sharyl Attkisson has performed this useful task for Ebola, putting together a nice neat timeline showing America’s relationship to the virus since July of this year.

John Wick

I can’t figure out if John Wick is just a garden variety thriller, a trashy blood-fest, or something else. And doesn’t it really matter when it has Keanu? I actually probably won’t see it because I never see movies (Mr. Bookworm frowns on the expense and I’m loath to send money to Hollywood anyway), but a Keanu movie is always tempting….

Pictures

Some are my finds, most are from Caped Crusader, and some are from Sadie:

Charlton Heston political correctness tyranny with manners

Traitors in America join Dem party -- Kerry and Fonda

Sowell on Obama's care for Africans not Americans

Al Sharpton and Jeffrey Dahmer

Liberals investigate traffic jams not assassinations

RG III on political correctness

Reagan Republican extremists win

Kurdish v American feminists

Islam demands beheading

Yesterday's ally is today's enemy

Hazmat suit cartoon

Franklin Graham no sharia in America

JFK opposed high taxes

Truth wasn't included in the equation

The jihad isn't over it's at the infiltration phase

D'Souza I told you so

Are you more likely to be infected or beheaded than you were six years ago

The only two reasons for federal list of gun owners

City of Houston free speech enforcement

Vets before illegals

Obama baloney

Washington Obama and Biden on the truth

Ron Klain covers Obama's butt

Moderate Muslims demonstrating for peace

Ebola Response Team

Saturday evening round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesJust a few things that caught my eye as the day went by:

In one of his weirdly counter-productive defenses of Hillary, Bill said that there was nothing wrong with her — except that it took her six months to recover from her head injury after her fall.  That’s a serious recovery time.  Even when my mom fell and gave herself a brain bleed, once she had surgery to relieve the pressure on her brain, she recovered in much less time than six months.

People are carping at Rove for putting this issue out there, and I concede that he did it inartfully, but the public should be apprised of the status of Hillary’s brain in the event she runs. Much as the media may pretend that it’s still 1960, when they successfully covered up Kennedy’s serious illness and drug use, the internet gives the people a voice on important subjects such as a potential president’s physical and mental health.

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All of my local Dem friends trust Jerry Brown, so I’m sure that they’re all good with him saying that, insofar as the new Bay Bridge span apparently has a serious design flaw, no one should worry. Maybe we shouldn’t, or maybe he’s just rearranging the deck chairs….

I’m not so sanguine about bridges in our earthquake rich territory. When I’m on them, I invariably drive too fast so that I can get off them as quickly as possible. I also have two of these in my car, in the unlikely event that I survive the moment (God forbid!) when my car plunges into the Bay.

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Despite the fact that Michael “Hockey Stick” Mann sued Mark Steyn for daring to question his intelligence and veracity, Steyn has not been cowed. He’s not only counterclaimed, he also continues to challenge Mann’s “climate change” data, using the ever-increasing number of stories about failed predictions, hidden data, and McCarthyism. He’s at it again, in a wonderful post that touches upon the latest McCarthy-ite moment that proves that “climate science” isn’t a science at all but is, instead, a faith.

Incidentally, while you’re visiting Steyn’s site, if you have some change rattling around in your pocket, please consider donating to his legal defense fund. He’s fighting the good fight, but even the staunchest warrior needs cash.

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I like Alex Trebek (that’s what thirty years of watching Jeopardy will do to you), so I was very pleased to see that he’s come out in favor of the Redskins keeping their name. His common sense, though, isn’t why I’m linking to this particular article. Instead, please note that, just as Voldemort’s name must go unspoken, so too has the Redskins’ name been stricken from the lexicon. That’s how you end up with incomprehensible sentences such as this one, quoting Trebek (who was making sense when he voiced it): ““They weren’t called the [WFT] because we thought [WFT] were terrible.”

Huh? WTF is a WFT? It turns out that an WFT the one and only “Washington Football Team,” formerly known as the “Redskins.” I preferred “the artist formerly known as ‘Prince.'” It had more of a ring to it.

We live in ridiculous times.

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Andrew McCarthy is never better than when he’s writing what is essentially a prosecutor’s opening brief. And so it is with this article he wrote about the IRS scandal, a scandal that grows with every document produced. I, of course, will remind you all again that I said early on that the IRS scandal was the worst scandal ever in American history and I stick to that — especially as it’s becoming increasingly clear that this exercise in banana republic governance had its genesis in D.C., and quite high up in D.C. (as in “close to the President”).

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The Left is starting to realize that both the IRS and the Benghazi scandals hit way to close to the President for anyone’s comfort (well, the comfort of anyone on the Left). That’s why the Financial Times announced today that the worst scandal for the President is the VA scandal (you know, the one where VA hospitals have been killing veterans by ignoring them to death). The VA scandal is heinous and disgusting. It stands as a savage indictment of both socialized medicine (which it is) and the American bureaucracy . . . but it doesn’t go up to the White House. Claiming that it’s the worst scandal for Obama is a red herring.

If you think I’m wrong about that interpretation, just consider the first paragraph in the FT article, which expressly warns people away from the genuinely serious stuff (emphasis mine):

Amid contrived outrage over Benghazi and the improving fortunes of its healthcare reform, the Obama administration could be facing a genuine scandal about its treatment of military veterans that has the potential to attract broad political condemnation of its competence.

That’s not journalism. That’s crisis management for the White House.

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My husband brought the movie Philomena home from the library yesterday. I was going to write a scathing review, but I see that Kyle Smith got there before I did.

Even if every word of Philomena was the God’s honest truth (which apparently is not the case), it still is a nasty movie. The thing about movies such as this is that all nuns get tarred with the same brush. Think about it: If you see a movie about a woman who is a bad mother, or a bus driver who is rude, or a doctor who commits malpractice, you don’t immediately indict all mothers, bus drivers, or doctors. But a movie about bad nuns somehow creates the belief that all nuns are bad.

While I may be Jewish, I have a deep respect for nuns. During WWII, Belgian nuns sheltered my Jewish grandmother at great risk to themselves.  Moreover, when my mother was in the Japanese concentration camp, the Dutch nuns she was imprisoned with were gracious to all, including the Jewish prisoners. My mom still speaks fondly about their cheerfulness and helpfulness no matter how bad the circumstances were.

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And finally, would the Atlantic have Photoshopped a picture of a watermelon into an article about Thurgood Marshall? I don’t think so. But they were willing to do this. Hey, isn’t that microaggression?

Friday morning round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesGood stuff today. Really good stuff. Here goes:

Kevin D. Williamson says that the IRS scandal is the worst scandal ever in American politics, since it fundamentally undermines our form of government. I’m inclined to agree with him and would even go so far as to wonder whether he’s been reading my blog.

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And while I’m on the subject of destroying our form of government, Barack Obama is again investigating whether the power to issue executive orders is actually the power to re-write entirely federal legislation to suit his own political purposes. The administration claims it’s contemplating this exercise of power because the current program is controversial — but it’s only controversial because there are a lot of people who want to grant de facto amnesty to illegal immigrants. Here’s the deal in America as it once was: if you didn’t like the law, you changed it through the legislative process. Only in banana republics do you let the Dear Leader ignore the law and do it his way.

***

Even if common core works perfectly in some pristine education program on an Ivy League campus, it’s a disaster in real life. H

Here’s a squirrely idea from me: One of the things that totalitarian governments do is separate children from the parents, either physically or emotionally. (Remember that Hitler’s Youth would turn in their own parents for infractions.) To the extent that common core makes it impossible for parents to help elementary school aged children with what used to be basic math problems, you have to wonder if a goal, or a pleasant by-product, of the Common Core program is that it makes children see their parents as stupid, unhelpful, and unreliable.

***

Hillary lies again, this time about Iran. You’d think Hillary would eventually wise up to the fact that, in an internet age, it takes minutes, not years, to expose blatant lies. Of course, she’s counting on the media to shelter her. That’s naive too. In 2008, the media dropped her in a New York minute when Barack came along last time around. It even seems as if Bill’s dropping her, and Keith Koffler amusingly ponders why that’s so.

Career overseas civil servants should also think about dumping Hillary. The DiploMad explains that she (and her whole State Department) broke the special bond between America and her employees overseas.

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More and more people are catching on to the fact that the Left is entirely adolescent in its approach to itself and to world governance. Matthew Continetti applies that adolescent theory to the New York Times, which is caught up in a firestorm made up of allegations that it fired Jill Abrahamson, its first female executive because she complained about wage discrimination. (And isn’t that irony lovely from a paper that carries the Democrats’ water on the wage discrimination campaign issue?)

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Everything you need to know about life in Obama’s America: The same Pentagon that is actively or passively responsible for the VA program that intentionally killed veterans through neglect is working hard to get a sex change operation for convicted traitor Bradley Manning.

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Meanwhile, the insanity on America’s college campuses continues. This time, a college is dropping “hump day,” because the camel theme (complete with a camel petting zoo) is seen as disrespectful to Arab culture.

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What it’s like to be a voter in Chicago.

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And finally, a look into the ugly heart of ProgressiveLand:

Because this seems like a good day for another scandal: Is Hillary planning to admit to some of her lies?

Hillary gets an eyeful of Christina Aguilera's breasts'

The National Enquirer led off this story with the news that Hillary will finally admit she’s lesbian.  I found more interesting the fact that she might be exposing the Obama White House’s secrets, everything from alcoholism and martial woes, to Valerie Jarrett’s tight control.  Here’s the post I did at Mr. Conservative about the National Enquirer’s scoop:

**********

For those of you who always thought that Hillary was lying about everything, you’re about to be proven right. Moreover, the news is going to come from a very unexpected source: Hillary herself.

The National Enquirer, which has stuck very close to honest reporting since getting burned in a long-ago libel suit, reports that Hillary has decided to stop the lies and tell the truth in an upcoming memoir. Simon & Schuster will pay her $25 million for writing the book, which she hopes will inoculate her 2016 presidential run against any future ugly revelations.

According to the National Enquirer’s source, a person who is allegedly one of Hillary’s close friends, “By writing this tell-all, Hillary will settle old scores and get revenge on her enemies.” Those enemies apparently include Barack and Michelle Obama, since pre-publication rumors have it that Hillary will report about Barack’s drinking problem and the Obamas’ serious marital problems. Hillary also plans to attack Valeria Jarrett, who is Obama’s right-hand woman and the person many believe is the real power in the White House.

Hillary also intends to admit what many have known for years, but which her friends and ex-lovers have never confirmed: she’s bisexual and has had lesbian affairs. The National Enquirier smugly notes that the memoir will confirm one of its past reports that a veterinarian who came to the White House to treat Socks, the White House cat, caught Hillary in a steamy (and adulterous) embrace with another woman.

It will be interesting to see whether Hillary addresses the rumors that one of her lovers is Huma Abedin. Abedin is an interesting character, since she is Hillary’s closest confidant and aid; is married to Anthony Weiner, the Democrat politician who sent naked pictures of himself to women; and comes from a family tied closely to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Huma Abedin and Hillary Clinton

According to a source the National Enquirier identifies as a “family insider,” Hillary’s admission that she is a lesbian isn’t a sign that she repents her life of lies. Instead, it’s part of her cold-blooded political calculation:

“Bill and Hillary are the consummate politi­cians, and they realize the LGBT community is a huge voting bloc,” said a family insider.

“They want lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people behind Hillary in the 2016 campaign. So Hillary’s going to come clean for the votes. She’ll admit that she’s bisexual and has had lesbian relationships.”

Hillary will also admit that, when she suddenly vanished from the scene last December amidst State Department assurances that nothing bad was the matter, these assurances were yet another Clinton lie. In fact, after a fall, she was discovered to have a blood clot between her brain and her right ear, which was putting pressure on her brain. In the lead-up to the diagnosis, Hillary thought she had brain cancer, just as Teddy Kennedy did, and began saying good-bye to friends and families.

Hillary lying to a House investigative committee:

For those who still care about Monica Lewinsky, whose sexual shenanigans with Bill almost lost Bill and Hillary the White House, Hillary will finally talk about her version of those events. According to Hillary’s view of things, Monica got word to Hillary that Bill was in love with Monica and wanted to start a family with him (and that she was even planning on getting pregnant without Bill’s consent). Hillary’s response to this news was to throw up in a White House bathroom.

The book isn’t just about the personal. As part of her attack on the Obamas, Hillary will detail her battles with Valerie Jarrett, “Obama’s brain,” to get a green light on attacking Osama bin Laden. Hillary also plans to detail the fight she had with the White House over Osama’s bloodied, bullet-ridden corpse. Hillary claims that she wanted it returned to the U.S. as proof that he was dead. Obama instead opted for a secret burial at sea (and Hillary promises to reveal the real location) so as not to inflame Muslim sensibilities.

Hillary’s plan is that this book, by telling all her dirty little secrets in advance, will clear the way for a 2016 presidential run since none of her opponents will have any dirt to spill on her. The mere fact that she feels compelled to write this book indicates that the Obamas have already gathered this information and, moreover, that they would have used it if Hillary had looked set to sweep the Democrat primaries in 2008. Releasing dirt on his Democrat opponents as a way to clear the field is, after all, vintage Obama.

Party partisans will no doubt applaud Hillary for her bravery in “coming out” (not that it’s very brave if everyone you care about thinks it’s a wonderful thing to do). It will be more interesting to see how ordinary Americans feel when they discover that the woman seeking the White House has lied to them every step of the way for decades.

Is the IRS scandal the worst political scandal in American history? I say “yes.”

Internal Revenue Service

When it comes to the IRS’s ongoing, repressive behavior against conservative groups, you’re likely to hear different verdicts:  The hard Left says, of course, that this is a molehill that the Republicans are scandalously trying to turn into a scandal.  (The New York Times perfectly exemplifies this line of thinking.)  Others on the Left admit incompetence, but refuse to assign moral blame.  Conservatives are willing to assign moral blame but think that no one really cares.

I believe that everyone should care because what we’re seeing now is a new type of scandal in American history, and the biggest crime a sitting administration has ever committed against the American people.  I wrote about it at Mr. Conservative, although the headline there focuses on the IRS’s probing into people’s prayers.  (Thinking about that, its worth remembering that Queen Elizabeth I, who ruled in an age when church and state were one, refused to “make windows into men’s souls.”  The IRS is not so doctrinally picky.)

Anyway, here’s the post I wrote for Mr. Conservative:

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There’s been a lot of debate swirling amongst the pundits lately. Is the Watergate cover-up worse than the Benghazi cover-up or vice versa? Is the only scandal that matters the Justice Department’s decision to tap Associated Press phones, because that’s the only one that the media will care about? What did Obama know and when did he know it?

Ignore all that. The absolute worst scandal that’s emerged lately, and the worst administration scandal in American history is the IRS scandal. Why? Because you, the People, became the targets of a comprehensive federal government effort to stifle dissent, one made using the government’s overwhelming and disproportionate policing and taxing powers.

All of the other scandals, going back to Andrew Johnson’s post-Civil War scandals, Warren G. Harding’s 1920s Teapot Dome scandal, Nixon’s Watergate, Reagan’s Iran-Contra, and Clinton’s Oval Office sexcapades have actually been narrowly focused acts of cronyism, garden-variety political chicanery, or personal failings. It’s been insider stuff.

The IRS scandal, by contrast, is a direct attack on the American people. Right now, Progressives throughout America are pretending that this scandal doesn’t matter: “Obama wasn’t involved.” “Tea Partiers had it coming because they’re all corrupt.” “Obama would have won the election anyway.” “It was just a coincidence that the only groups that had their applications scrutinized, sometimes for years, were politically conservative. It means nothing that, when one group changed its name to sound Progressive, its application was approved in only three weeks.” “This is just a bureaucratic snafu.” “It’s a few rogue agents in Ohio.”

Those who offer these excuses are either morally flawed themselves or delusional idiots. Pastor Martin Niemoller, who once supported the Nazi party, finally and famously figured things out after World War II:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

Once a government gets the bit between its teeth and starts targeting special interest groups, that is the end of freedom, not just for those first groups targeted, but for everyone.

Okay, that was the throat-clearing. Now it’s time to add the latest chapter in the long list of examples showing that the IRS engaged in a politically motivated witch-hunt against people who don’t toe the Progressive/Democrat party line:

The Thomas More Society (a Catholic organization) says that an IRS office in California ordered a group called “Christian Voices for Life of Fort Bend County, Texas” to detail the meaning and content of the prayers they offered. That was not an isolated event. IRS agents demanded the same information from “Coalition of Life of Iowa,” which was required to explain what went on at the group’s prayer meetings.

When Rep. Aaron Schock (R., Ill.) asked outgoing IRS commissioner Steven Miller whether these were appropriate questions, Miller didn’t even have the courage to say “no.” Instead, he said meaninglessly that “It pains me to say I can’t speak to that one either.”

Here’s thumbnail sketch of just a few of the other politically-motivated attacks the IRS has made against American citizens. We can expect many more revelations to come:

1. The IRS official who over saw the agency’s effort to stifle political dissent is now in charge of enforcing ObamaCare, which will account for up to one-sixth of the American economy.

2. The IRS gave confidential financial documents from conservative non-profit organizations to a far-Left political activist group.

3. The IRS (which will police ObamaCare) stole 10 million medical records, including the records for all California judges.

4. The IRS blocked applications for or otherwise harassed almost 500 conservative non-profit groups – and there’s every reason to believe that this number will continue to rise.

5. The IRS insisted that, for a pro-Life group to obtain tax-exempt status, it would have to promote abortion.

6. The IRS has been mining Facebook for private data about people who dissent from Obama’s party line.

7. The IRS tried to force a conservative non-profit education group to turn over the names of students (mostly minors) who benefited from its services.

As for those who say that the whole IRS affair becomes irrelevant if no one can prove that Obama is not directly involved, that’s completely wrong. Of course, if the president was involved, it shows that he is the most corrupt, tyrannical leader in American history, and that every branch of the executive division in our government has been tainted and must be cleaned out. And as far as Obama is concerned, if he wasn’t involved, he is a man too incompetent and weak to hold the job of national chief executive.

But think about what it means if Obama wasn’t involved, and the IRS, an agency that has the power to destroy every person in America, did all of this on its own initiative. What we’re seeing in that case is the fall-out of a complete Leftist takeover of American institutions. We will have become a tyranny by bureaucracy (in no small part due to the fact that federal agencies are heavily unionized, and always with a Leftist slant), with the entire federal government irredeemably corrupt.

Here’s one last thought for you about an American president who, wittingly or unwittingly, presided over the single worst scandal in American history:

On May 5, at Ohio State University (the same state in which the IRS scandal was headquartered), Obama gave a speech that was viewed then as yet another in the endless list of examples showing Obama painting his political opponents as loony paranoids:

Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems; some of these same voices also doing their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave and creative and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.

Reading those same words now, it’s clear that, like the rattlesnake’s warning, Obama was previewing the reality of a Leftist government’s total control over the people who have naively consigned themselves to its care.

photo by: saturnism

Tuesday morning flotsam and jetsam Open Thread

My brain hasn’t yet synthesized all the fascinating data out there, including the wrenching stories of Sandy’s devastation.  For the time being, I’ll just pass interesting links on to you.  Please feel free to do the same.

***

The former Commander of the United States Pacific Fleet has written a white-hot article excoriating Obama and his administration, based upon what we know to date about events in Benghazi.  Because the White House is withholding information, and because the lap dog media is refusing to seek information (or even to talk about Benghazi), I have no problem with convicting Obama et al on the information currently available.  If that crew wants a full and fair trial in the court of public opinion, it had better start releasing reliable information.

***

There’s a fascinating story in my local paper today about a grocery store chain called Mi Pueblo.  It was founded as a Mom-and-Pop store by a pair of illegal immigrants.  It’s now a large, legal chain serving the Hispanic community throughout California.  It’s also a law-abiding chain, in that it uses e-verify to make sure that it’s employees aren’t illegal immigrants.  Here’s the interesting part:  by abiding with federal law, the store has incurred the wrath, not only of the illegal immigration ground, but of SEIU.  Yup, the unions are furious that as store refuses to employ illegals.  Think about that:  unions used to fight illegals, because they were seen as taking jobs away from legal American workers.  Now, unions see the effort to stop illegal immigrants from working as a nefarious plot to weaken the unions. Legal American workers — those who are native-born or have green cards — should think long and hard about what the unions what to do for them.  At the moment, it looks to me as if the unions aren’t out to protect workers, they’re out to protect unions.

***

Victor Davis Hanson nails the fantasy-based “reality” that keeps affluent Californian’s voting for Democrats.  I live surrounded by this mentality:

Did California’s redistributive elite really believe that they could all but shut down new gas and oil production, strangle the timber industry, idle irrigated farmland, divert water to the delta smelt, have 37 million people use a highway system designed for 15 million, allow millions of illegal aliens to enter the state without audit, extend free medical programs to 8 million of the most recent 11 million added to the population, up taxes to among the highest in the nation, and host one-third of the nation’s welfare recipients — and not have the present chaos?

The California schools — flooded with students whose first language is not English, staffed by unionized teachers not subject to the consequences of subpar teaching, and plagued with politicized curricula that do not emphasize math, science, and reading and writing comprehension — scarcely rate above those in Mississippi and Alabama. Did liberals, who wanted unions, a new curriculum, and open borders, believe it was good for the state to have a future generation — that will build our power plants, fly our airliners, teach our children, and take out our tumors — that is at the near-bottom in national test scores?

Do Bay Area greens really believe that they that will have sufficient water if they blow up the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir? Did Barack Obama think that the Keystone pipeline or new gas and oil leases in the Gulf were superfluous, or that we do not need oil to make gasoline, wheat to make flour, or to cut timber to produce wood?

Did liberals (and their hand-in-glove employer supporters who wished for cheap labor) think that letting in millions from Central Mexico, most without legality, English, or a high school education (and in some sense at the expense of thousands waiting in line for legal admission with capital, advanced degrees, and technological expertise), was not problematic and that soaring costs in law enforcement, the criminal justice system, the schools, and the health care industries were irrelevant?

***

Reagan famously said “Trust, but verify.”  In an internet age, one has to say “verify before you trust anything.”  Case in point?  A Halloween costume a young Boston Democrat put together to mock Tea Partiers.  It features her grimacing, while holding a misspelled birther sign.  Well, it went viral on the internet, not as a spoof, but as a “genuine” picture of a deranged young Alabama Tea Partier.  The young woman involved (who did not intend to prank anyone), has learned a valuable lesson about her own political party.  Maybe in a few years, she’ll be a true Tea Partier — and a nicer person for it too.

***

Jonah Goldberg scolds the mainstream media for its incredible lack of curiosity about Benghazi.  Goldberg doesn’t see a conspiracy.  He sees liberal group-think that is so all-encompassing that the media people think candidate George Bush’s alleged conduct in 1974 is more important than President Barack Obama’s conduct in September 2012.

***

While Jonah Goldberg is willing to damn the media with faint praise (stupid, not evil), Thomas Sowell is not so kind about the administration.  He thinks that, when it comes to Benghazi, there’s a giant con going on.  I think he’s right.  (Is it redundant to say that one thinks that Thomas Sowell has made an intelligent, accurate argument?  Doesn’t the name Sowell already encompass that description?)

***

Keith Koffler does a great job summing up the way in which Obama has demeaned the presidency.  We thought the Clinton presidency already did that but, looking back, that’s not quite accurate, Clinton demeaned himself with a variety of scandals, but he managed to stay presidential when he was in the business of politics (rather than the business of shtupping the help).  Obama, however, has demeaned the presidency itself, by using sex, obscenities, and insults within the context of politics.

***

Of course, when it comes to demeaning the office of the presidency, Obama is getting a lot of help.  Witness this obscenity-laden video that purports to show members of the “Greatest Generation” engaging in vulgar trash-talk against Romney.  Those elderly people who honor dignity should be offended by this, even if they’re Democrats.

***

This is a lovely article that uses a faux debate to draw a devastating contrast between Barack Obama and Winston Churchill.

***

And here is another devastating contrast:  the vast cultural divide between Lena Dunham, who coos that voting for Obama is like losing ones virginity, and Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty, who fought to the death to save others.  Sadly, their Commander in Chief came from the Dunham side of the cultural divide, and left them to die alone in a Libyan hellhole.  (Incidentally, Tyrone Woods left behind an infant son.  If you would like to donate to a fund for that little boy, Power Line recommends this legitimate organization.  It’s an easy way to donate.  I was able to use PayPal, so I put some of the money you guys have so generously sent me towards Baby Boy Woods’ education.)

Cross-posted at Brutally Honest

As the Benghazi scandal heats up, evidence that Obama himself denied extra security

How reliable is Edward Klein?  I don’t know.  I don’t believe anyone challenged the facts in his book The Amateur, even if they disagreed with their import.  One thing that was immediately clear from reading The Amateur was that Klein got a lot of his information from Hillary Clinton’s camp.  Klein’s reliability is very important today, because he now claims that he’s gotten some new information from the Hillary camp, and this information, if true, is staggering in its implications:  lawyers close to Hillary claim that Hillary asked for more security in Benghazi and that the Obama White House denied that request.

According to Klein’s sources, Hillary has been keeping mum about this to stay loyal to the Democrat party, while Bill has been urging her to go public with the information to save her reputation.  Here’s what I think happened:

Events played out exactly as Hillary’s leakers claim.  Hillary was silent about the White House’s culpability when it still looked as if Obama could win, because she needed to be on Obama’s good side in the event he won the election.  Now that Obama has the stale smell of failure about him, two things have happened.  First, Hillary doesn’t believe that Obama’s coat tails will be very useful.  And second, the Democrats are launching a preemptive strike against Bill Clinton, claiming that it was his bad advice that led to Obama’s disastrous campaign decisions.

The Obama administration won’t be the first to learn that you don’t mess with Bill Clinton, especially if there’s nothing in it for Bill.  And so the leaks begin.  This way, Hillary still looks loyal, but Bill gets to destroy someone who is trying to destroy him.  Even if it’s not war in the Middle East, there’s going to be a war in Washington, D.C.

This leaked report also makes sense from both a military and a security standpoint, as Wolf Howling explains:

Why should we believe this might be true? I have enough experience in the military and with providing security with weapons loaded to know that the people administratively charged with making decisions on security would not possibly have denied the requests absent a policy decision made at a much higher level. And indeed, I cannot see any career employee in the chain of command denying a request for more security in Benghazi, given the availability of assets and all that was known about the deteriorating situation. In other words, I would bet my last dollar that the decision to deny more security was made pursuant to a policy decision in the political chain of command – and that means Clinton and / or Obama. And if there is any truth to the story above, then that person was Obama.

(You can, and should, read the rest of Wolf Howling’s analysis here.)

Assuming that concrete evidence surfaces quickly, the real story is whether the MSM will be able to sit on this story until after the election.  If the media can’t control the narrative, this story should be the last nail in the Obama campaign coffin.

UPDATE:  My post about today’s news — that the administrrefuse refused to send help — is here.)

Presidential pot trajectory

1988:  A serial liar, bomber, drug dealer, and criminal claims, without any corroborating evidence, that he sold pot to Vice Presidential candidate Dan Quayle.  Despite these allegations (which were almost certainly false), the Bush-Quayle ticket wins.

1992:  Governor William Jefferson Clinton contends that, while he put a joint to his lips and allow smoke into his mouth, he didn’t inhale.  Despite this risible claim (although I do believe that he doesn’t like pot, because not everyone does), Gov. Clinton wins the presidential election.

2008:  Senator Barack Hussein Obama is presented to the American people as the second coming of Christ, only with fewer flaws than Christ himself had.  Unsurprisingly, he wins the presidential election.

2012:  President Barack Hussein Obama is revealed to have been such a serious pot smoker in his youth that, in his high school yearbook, he thanks his pot friends and his dealer:

Barry popularized the concept of “roof hits”: when they were chooming in the car all the windows had to be rolled up so no smoke blew out and went to waste; when the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceiling.

[snip]

Barry also had a knack for interceptions. When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted “Intercepted!,” and took an extra hit. No one seemed to mind.

[snip]

He was a long-haired haole hippie who worked at the Mama Mia Pizza Parlor not far from Punahou and lived in a dilapidated bus in an abandoned warehouse. … According to Topolinski, Ray the dealer was “freakin’ scary.” Many years later they learned that he had been killed with a ball-peen hammer by a scorned gay lover. But at the time he was useful because of his ability to “score quality weed.”

In another section of the [senior] yearbook, students were given a block of space to express thanks and define their high school experience. … Nestled below [Obama's] photographs was one odd line of gratitude: “Thanks Tut, Gramps, Choom Gang, and Ray for all the good times.” … A hippie drug-dealer made his acknowledgments; his own mother did not.

These well-sourced claims about Obama are more serious than unsubstantiated allegations against Quayle or risible excuses by Clinton. The question, of course, is whether they will matter as little as the other candidates’ brushes with claims about drug use mattered, or if yet another insight into Obama’s shady, thoughtless, law-breaking, shadowy past will affect how voters view our President.

What does Dancing With The Stars have to do with the presidential elections? Glad you asked.

For several years, every Tuesday and Wednesday morning, my sister has regaled me with stories about Dancing With The Stars, which is not just her favorite television show, it’s actually the only show she watches.  For those unfamiliar with DWTS, the premise is simple:  every season, a group of TV stars, singers, athletes, models, etc., is paired with the show’s stable of professional dancers.  The guests are taught a couple of ballroom dances, and let loose on the dance floor.  The same pattern gets repeated week after week, with the show turning into an elimination game that sees the lowest scoring dancer (based on judges’ scores and audience call-ins) being let go each week.  The season ends with the top three dancers facing off against each other.

After fighting against it for a while, I gave in, watched the show, and enjoyed it.  DWTS has a wonderful “getting it right” trajectory, one that sees people who have never danced before, or never danced ballroom before, getting better before your eyes.  By the end of the ten-week season, the last three guests remaining actually look like dancers, rather than like robots who have mastered steps.

The most recent season, which concluded just this Tuesday, had an unusually good group of guests.  By season’s end, the three remaining really were head-to-head in terms of “who would have expected it?” dancing talent.  These three were William Levy, a Cuban refugee, model, and Telemundo star; Katherine Jenkins, a very beautiful, blonde, Welsh classical singer trained at the Royal Academy of Music; and Donald Driver, a Green Bay Packers football player who helped propel his team to a Superbowl victory.  William Levy sold sex (woo!), Katherine Jenkins sold precision, and Donald Driver sold himself.

Here’s sex (with the dance starting around 3 minutes in, although the Cuban refugee story preceding it is fairly interesting):

Here’s precision:

And here’s charisma, with a bit of raw muscle thrown in for good measure:

Interestingly, even though Donald Driver is the only non-performer of the three, he sells it! The other two, who are both stage professionals (one acting, one singing) lacked his star power.  Driver, as you may already have heard, won the mirror ball trophy.  I was not surprised, despite the fact that, when it came to dancing qua dancing, he was probably the least good of the three.  With very little to distinguish the three, personality was the trump card.

I’ve long been fascinated by that elusive, intangible, yet very real charm that is charisma.  I’ve written here before about the most handsome man I’ve ever met, whose face I cannot remember.  What I actually remember is his charm.  I was a pretty, blonde 18-year old in Israel for the first time.  My Mom’s friend had a 25-year old son who took one look at me and said, “Would you like to come to a party with me?”  “Sure,” I replied.  He called the host, squared things away, and off we went.  When we got there, the host greeted me at the door as if I was the most important, interesting, gorgeous person he’d ever met.  “I’m so glad you came,” he said, drawing me into the room.  I was glad too.  He made me feel precious, special, and treasured.  He had charisma.  I don’t remember his face, but my heart knows he was gorgeous.

Charisma in the political world can be a dangerous thing.  Sometimes, it lands one with a great leader, such as Reagan.  Other times, that same elusive charm sees people electing a huckster to the White House — someone like Clinton, for example.  Even Clinton’s enemies couldn’t deny his warmth and charm.  Clinton may have been grossly narcissistic and corrupt, but he genuinely likes people and wants them in his orbit.  He was then and still is a most likable bad boy.

Obama is an interesting thing.  The 2008 showed that he had the power of the true demagogue, but I’m not sure so about the charisma.  I never saw it.  Unlike Clinton, who actually likes people, Obama does not.  He’s a performer, rather than a truly charismatic human being.  If he stays on script (memorized and teleprompted speeches) and if he has a publicity department to shore him up (the MSM), he sells a simulacrum of charisma, one that, in 2008, was enough to charm a population that was looking for the un-Bush, and that was decidedly bored with the completely uncharismatic John McCain.

The problem for Obama is that winning the election meant he had to get off the stage.  Since he was faking the charm, the same audiences who cheered and fainted, were suddenly presented with a much less likable version of the man.  Watching Obama over the last few years has been precisely the same as watching a commercial in which the actor, having charmingly announced “I’m not a real charismatic politician, but I play one on TV,” steps off the set and starts screaming at his fellow cast members and the crew, as he wipes off the thick stage magic that hid his acne scars.

Over the years, Obama has proven himself ignorant (Austrian language, it’s wrong for businesses to be set up to “maximize profit,” “corpse”-men, etc.), mean (“I won,” “You’re likeable enough, Hilary,” police acted “stupidly,” find out “whose ass to kick,” etc.), inarticulate, and generally not the golden boy the media sold to American audiences back in 2008.  That’s okay.  The nature of a demagogue is that he’s deeply flawed, in an antisocial way.  Obama’s problem is that he’s not selling himself.  He doesn’t deliver insults with a charming smile.  He doesn’t giggle about his gaffes, as Johnny Carson so wonderfully did:

Obama’s many fails come from a deep reservoir of anger and ignorance, and there is no smiling that will cover it up.

So, on the Democrat side of the slate we have one singularly charmless candidate.

What’s interesting is that the Republicans also have a candidate who lacks charisma.  I like Romney.  His is a personal history of hard work and good deeds.  He’s a hugely successful ordinary guy.  The media demonizes his law-abiding success (which, in a normal world, would be a good thing) and heaps scorn upon his social ordinary-ness.

Sadly, the dinosaur drive-by media still has enough power to convince voters that the perfectly ordinary, very nice Mitt Romney — the kind of guy you’d love to have as a friend and neighbor — is a boring, goofy, bully.  What will be interesting is to see whether that same drive-by media can also convince voters that the self-involved, cold, cutting, ignorant Barack Obama — the kind of guy who is reviled in a small community — is the same charismatic golden boy who ran for and won the presidency in 2008.

There is no Donald Driver here — a good all around guy, with buckets of character.  Instead, all we’ve got are here are two ordinary men (although I’d argue that Mitt is substantially smarter than Barry), with extremely different histories and world views.  One therefore has to ask, in an election in which both candidates lack that magical, elusive charm that is charisma, will the media be able to dismiss one nice, bright, accomplished guy as a boring nonentity, while building up the other, not-so-very nice guy, as the great charmer, deserving of the great American mirror ball trophy?

Take the accusations against Cain seriously

Yesterday, I wrote a somewhat incoherent post to the effect that, while I’m willing to extend to Herman Cain the benefit of the doubt regarding the sexual harassment allegations, I refuse to find myself in the position of a Clinton supporter, circa 1998, sullying my own soul by trying to justify inappropriate sexual acts.  Bill Bennett says it better:

It is hypocritical in the extreme for those members of the media who didn’t take the charges and allegations against Bill Clinton seriously to be taking the allegations against Herman Cain that we now have as seriously as they are. Hypocritical is probably too soft a word, frankly.

[snip]

I have watched long enough and held my tongue long enough to give him the benefit of the doubt, but can no longer say this is a witch hunt, “a lynching” to use his word, or any other euphemism. There are allegations out there that matter and they have stacked up. For we who led the charge against Bill Clinton on a number of related issues to continue to blame the media or other campaigns or say it simply doesn’t matter makes us the hypocrites as well.

As I say, all of this is bad for our politics and polity. If Herman Cain cannot stand up to these charges, if he refuses to, then he should step out of the race. A man big enough to run for president should be big enough to have a full and candid press conference on all of this — he wants us to elect him president after all, he’s asking us to trust our lives and the country’s life to him. This could be one of his finest moments and it could be one of his worst. But either way, he must confront the moment candidly and manfully.

Connecting the dots re Huma Abedin *UPDATE*

Just the facts, and you get to reach your own conclusion:

  • Huma Abedin spent her formative years in Saudi Arabia.
  • Huma’s mother is a member of the female branch of the Muslim Brotherhood
  • While Huma was growing up, her father was a member of an organization closely linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Huma’s brother works closely with members of the Muslim Brotherhood.
  • Huma is herself a practicing Muslim.
  • Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslim men.  If the man doesn’t convert, the marriage is not recognized.
  • Anthony Weiner was raised Jewish and not publicly disavowed his faith.
  • Bill Clinton officiated at Huma’s wedding to Anthony Weiner.
  • Anthony Weiner was until recently a member of Congress.
  • There is no way to know when Weiner started engaging in inappropriate sexual behavior.
  • Huma is so tight with Hillary Clinton that, for many years, there were rumors that the two were lovers.
  • Hillary Clinton is America’s Secretary of State, one of the most powerful international positions in the world.

(I’m too lazy and rushed to collected links, but each of the above statements is verifiable.)

UPDATE:  One last fact — The Muslim Brotherhood is not friendly towards America.

UPDATE II:  Robert Avrech reports on a deeply disturbing aspect of the whole Huma/Weiner thing, which again shows a complicit media — although it’s a little hard to tell whether it’s complicit in something solidly dangerous or just complicit in the usual dhimmitude that passes for reporting nowadays.  Add People Magazine to the list of products I’d stop buying if I actually bought them in the first place.

Henpecked husbands in the White House

Everyone has been talking about Obama’s bizarre behavior in ceding his press conference to Bill Clinton and just walking away.  What I haven’t seen commented upon yet, but what I find incredibly funny, is the henpeckedness of it all.  Both of these men are reputed to have wives with more testicular fortitude than they have themselves.  With that in mind, pay close attention to the wife dialog in the following video:

Obama:  Here’s what I’ll say which is that I’ve been keeping the First Lady waiting for about half an hour, so I’m going to take off.

Clinton:  I don’t want to make her mad.  Please go.