The Bookworm Beat 3-7-15 — “random thoughts on a Saturday morning” edition and open thread

Woman writingThis is so short I’ll eschew headings. It’s an effort to be a Thomas Sowell-esque grab bag of pertinent observations, although I’m handicapped by the fact that I lack both his wit and his erudition.

For the past many months, my Progressive friends on Facebook have been completely silent about ISIS’s depredations. The women haven’t spoken up about the sex slavery, the gays haven’t spoken up about the gay executions, and none have spoken up about the over all slaughter. Suddenly, though, two stories have gotten them up in arms. You won’t be surprised to know that it’s this story and this story. Daniel Greenfield was more right than he knew when he said that Progressivism is fundamentally a materialist doctrine. I have a rare passion for history, but even I know that human lives matter more.

Obama on Selma: “The notion that some kid that was brought here when he was two or three years old might somehow be deported at the age of 20 or 25, even though they’ve grown up as American, that’s not who we are. That’s not true to the spirit of what the march on Selma was about.” Are we to understand then, that the true spirit of Selma is black unemployment? Because in the fight for jobs between blacks and illegals, blacks are losing big time.

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The Bookworm Beat 12/22/14 — Sneaking away from my family edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingThis is my fifth attempt just today to write something for my blog. The family’s needs are comprehensive, to say the least. Since I have a small window of time here, let me get right to it:

Best sentence of 2014

NRO’s Kevin Williamson wasn’t too much on my radar in 2013 and before. Fortunately, though, I discovered him in 2014, and am consistently delighted with his insights and his writing. Yesterday, he reached a new peak when, in a comprehensive round-up detailing the debasement of America’s higher education, he wrote a wonderful paragraph, capped with, quite possibly, the best sentence of 2014 (emphasis mine):

James Franco and Seth Rogen and the Sony brass might be man-shaped objects carved out of cotton candy, but they are iron men compared with the American college student. Students at the University of California at Irvine felt the need to avail themselves of the services of grief therapists after the grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for a shooting in Ferguson, Mo., some 1,800 miles away. It’s not like the UCI Anteaters don’t have legitimate reasons for grief – starting with the fact that they are called “Anteaters” — but a no-bill from a grand jury five states away isn’t one of them. Meanwhile at Occidental, students who were receiving class credit to work on Democratic political campaigns were reduced to shambolic mounds of blubbering distress by Republican victories.

Oh, the humanities.

Yes, we should blame Sharpton and DeBlasio for the New York shootings

I’ve seen conservatives saying that, if we blame Al Sharpton and Mayor DeBlasio for the murder of two police officers in New York, we are no better than the Leftist MSM that instantly blamed Sarah Palin for the shooting of Gabby Giffords, an attack that killed several people and severely wounded Giffords herself. (See, e.g, Jonathan Tobin’s post.)

I disagree. It was obvious to the meanest intelligence that Sarah Palin’s rhetoric was aimed solely at the ballot box.  She was speaking in the time-honored democratic tradition of seeking victory through votes. The same cannot be said for the marchers whom Sharpton and DeBlasio inspired and coddled. When they marched through the streets after Michael Brown’s and Eric Garner’s deaths, they were extremely explicit in their demands:

“What do we want?” drones the blood chant.

“Dead cops!” comes the reply.

Done.

Thus does rhetoric have consequences.

There were no “dog whistles” here (i.e., carefully elusive phrases that only true believers could interpret). Instead, the Progressive elites cheered on a rank-and-file that was explicitly out for blood . . . real blood. This was the precise equivalent of shouting “Murder the cops” in a crowded theater. It was incitement to violence and ought to be understood and treated as such.

See also Ira Straus and Robert Avrech on this point.

Your trend is my cherry-picking

I went with a couple of liberals to the Exploratorium.  In one section, there’s a little graph on the wall charting rising waters in San Francisco Bay over the last 100 years. In my presence, one liberal turned to the other and said, “That’s what’s wrong with these climate deniers. They cherry-pick just the last 18 years, when they should be looking at long-term trends like this.”

Long-term trends? I can do that.

Today, I sent to that liberal an article explaining that a 2,000 year long-term trend shows that the earth has been cooling consistently. Sure, there’ve been upticks in temperatures, but the basic trajectory is downwards.

I thought to myself as I sent it “There. No one can accuse me of cherry-picking. That’s not just 100 years of data; it’s 2,000 years of data!”

Silly me. The liberal immediately emailed back to tell me that this was “cherry-picked” data and was junk science that did nothing to disprove global warming.  He provided no data to support his contention.

Progressives and conservatives live on a different planet

Molly Ball, an Atlantic writer, has been forced to admit that the age of Obama is over. Even while conceding that reality, though, she makes several “factual” statements that left me reeling. Herewith, a mini-fisking (hyperlinks omitted):

In other words, what we witnessed in 2014 wasn’t just a swing of the ol’ pendulum; it was the end of the Obama era in American politics.

One major hallmark of the Obama era was the rise of the Tea Party, a far-right faction driven to conspiratorial derangement by literally anything Obama proposed.

[One wonders about the cognitive dissonance that drives people who applauded, and often participated in, the Occupy movement and the recent Ferguson/Garner protests, to say that the Tea Party, which embraces constitutional limitations and freedoms, is a “far-right faction” driven to “derangement” by a president who sought to force all Americans to buy a product they didn’t need, through a complicated wealth redistribution scheme. Just think about the protests: Occupy sought to upend America, and involved a lot of sex, drug use, and defecation on American streets, while the recent protests anti-cop have revolved around mass die-ins, freeway blockage, and (successfully met) demands that police officers get murdered. The Tea Party protests, on the other hand, had people waving American flags, asking for lower taxes, and cleaning up after themselves.  And it’s the Tea Party that’s “deranged.”  Honestly, how in the world do Progressives live in their own heads?]

[snip]

Most of all, of course, the midterms were a backlash against Obama’s leadership and policies. Some of this was deserved—the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, for example, seemed to trigger an irrevocable loss of trust in the White House’s competence. The fact that health-care reform went on to be implemented pretty smoothly after that did little to rescue the policy’s, or the president’s, reputation for effectiveness.

[Is it just me or have people been complaining non-stop about losing their insurance and being forced to buy insurance they don’t want at prices they can’t afford? Meanwhile, is it just me or have the uninsured remained largely uninsured, with the only increase showing up in Medicare? And is it just me or did the Obama administration avoid even greater opprobrium by pushing out until after the 2016 election the worst effects of Obamacare? Just sayin’.]

Critics also argued that crises on the border and in the Middle East could be traced back to Obama’s policies.

[Yeah, funny about that. Obama makes it clear that he’s not going to stop border crossings any more and — voila! — there’s a crisis on the border. It takes a writer for the Atlantic to pretend that there’s no connection between Obama’s policies and pronouncements, and the mayhem, sliding close to anarchy, along America’s southern border.]

[snip]

And some [of Obama’s decline] was Republicans’ fault, as their systematic obstruction first contributed to the president’s reputation for not being able to get anything done—and then, when he began taking unilateral action to go around the reluctant Congress, helped paint him as a power-mad executive tyrant.

[Here’s what you need to remember:  When it’s a Republican president, dissent and obstruction are patriotic. When it’s a Democrat president, dissent and obstruction are racist and irrational. This holds true even when the president’s own party admits that he’s a cold fish who refuses to work with Congress and won’t compromise on anything.]

John Adams famously said “facts are stubborn things.” Little did he know that Leftists are even more stubborn.

Deranged Leftists take on Christ’s birth

Sometimes, of course, Leftists go beyond stubborn and wander into insanity. Take, for example, Valerie Tarico, who argues in all seriousness, that Christ’s birth came about because God raped Mary. I don’t need to say anything about this, because Ed Morrissey says it all.

More mysterious mass murders in France

Police remain baffled by the motives of two French residents who, on two different occasions, drove their cars into Christmas crowds while hollering “Alahu Akbar.” These multiplying, yet still isolated, murder outbreaks, committed by men using hammers, cars, guns, or knives, all the while screaming “Alahu Akbar,” will apparently continue to vex police around the world.

The reason behind Obama’s mush-mouth explanations for opening relations with Cuba

Daniel Greenfield thinks he knows why Obama suddenly rushed into open relations with Cuba: call it the greenback dollar.

WWII: When American delighted in defeating her enemies

Life Magazine profiled the Flying Tigers in the early months of World War II.

What’s so utterly bizarre about the article is that the men are lauded for, and feel no obligation to apologize about, fighting vigorously against an enemy that had just a few months before appeared out of the blue and slaughtered more than two thousand American service men. It’s that lack of apology that is so unreal in a time when our own President refers to America’s troops as baby killers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Bookworm Beat 12/17/14 — Hanging in by the skin of my teeth edition and Open Thread

Woman writingI sometimes wonder if my family’s entered into a secret compact to keep me away from my computer. I’ve gone from having five hours or so to myself every day from Monday to Friday to having perhaps two hours to myself for the entire week.  It’s hard to think sometimes.

Of course, my week’s gone a whole lot better than Sony’s week. It isn’t every day, is it, that a whole studio is forced to cave to blackmail and threats? While I don’t think Sony should have caved (more on that in a minute), I think much of the blame for today’s end game belongs with news outlets that should have assiduously ignored the hacked information.  By paying attention to it, they signaled to every hacker in the world, whether individual, NGO, or government, that hacks can be used to blackmail institutions, because the media will gleefully participate in the hack by disseminating stolen information.

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Open Thread: Normalizing relations with Cuba

cuban-missle-crisis-ffThis is an Open Thread about Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba. I’m woefully uninformed about the entire Cuba story, going back to Kennedy, so I don’t yet have an opinion and would very much like to hear from you.

I know, of course, that Cuba is an oppressive totalitarian regime that marches hand in hand with like-minded regimes around the world, but that hasn’t stopped us from having diplomatic relationships with those countries. Why is Cuba different, then, and why do you think Obama’s abrupt volte face in American policy is a good idea or bad idea?

Tuesday night stuff (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesJust a few quick links I don’t want to leave on the table before I head down to my perpetual motion machine for the rest of the evening.

Earlier today, I bought a Mark Steyn gift certificate to help fund his legal battle against Michael Mann, a man who rejoices under the title of being a scientist, but is in fact a First Amendment terrorist. Not too long after that, I read Dennis Prager’s article about Bryan Stow. Living in the Bay Area, I had heard about Stow, a SF Giants fan beaten almost to death by some L.A. Dodger’s fans. In the intervening years, I hadn’t realized that his injuries were so devastating. I also didn’t know until today that the men who did this to him got off with prison sentences equal to a slap on the hand — sentences that made them smirk happily when handed down. Please consider donating to the Bryan Stow fund. I did, and only regret that I hadn’t done so sooner.

***

When Victor Davis Hanson is good, he’s really, really good. He’s all that in his post about the Bizarro World of Barack Obama’s presidency, in which every manifest failure is presented to Americans as a glowing success. Lincoln famously said, “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” He was wrong. We live in a P.T. Barnum world, where there’s a sucker born every minute — and they’re all supporting Barack Obama and his administration.

***

No link here, just an observation: I was speaking to my fairly apolitical sister about political correctness, education trends, national security, etc. I asked her, “Am I so exercised about this stuff because I’m an old fogey, like the old Yorkshire men famous for beginning each sentence by saying ‘When I were a lad,’ or has the world really gotten weird lately?” She answered, “It’s gotten really weird. The changes are fast and they are strange.”

***

It’s not just that Andrew Malcolm wrote a good article about Barack Obama’s myriad foreign policy failures and the disdain in which this Nobel Prize winner is held around the world. It’s also the side by side photos of presidents Bush and Obama with the Dalai Lama. It makes me steam to think that, probably without exception, the Dalai Lama’s supporters voted for Obama. I’m not a fan of the Dalai Lama who, despite China’s constant depredations against his land, has announced that he’s a Marxist, meaning he’s dumb as a post, but I do admire his steadfast fight for his country’s independence (a fight he apparently carries out so that his country, too, can become a large socialist workers gulag). And yes, that was one of the longest sentences I’ve ever written, but I kept my clauses in nice order.

***

If the name Margalit Fox is familiar to you, it’s because you pay attention to the bylines on New York Times obituaries. In my humble opinion, the New York Times obituary section is the only section in that paper worth reading — and what makes it worthwhile in significant part is Fox’s delightful writing. Knowing what a good writer she is, I didn’t think twice about picking up The Riddle of the Labyrinth: The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code when I saw that she was the author. My instincts were good. Fox brings to life the decades’ long (and eventually successful) effort to decipher the Linear B writing found at Knossos, home of the many King Minoses and the famous Minotaur. I’m halfway through the book, and am finding it difficult to put it down.

***

If the Thomas Jefferson quotation at Doug Ross’s site is apocryphal, please don’t tell me. I want to believe it’s real. (No, I take that back. Intellectual honesty matters more than wishful thinking.)

***

I’ve never managed to be that thrilled by Sen. Marco Rubio. I think with a bit of time at his back, he’ll be something wonderful, but right now he’s not quite all that — except that is, when it comes to ripping apart old Leftists and their sorry love affair with Cuba. That fire is the promise that he can become a great statesman, although he isn’t one yet.

***

Speaking of statesmen, I’m beginning to put more and more faith in Scott Walker as a serious potential presidential candidate. If the worst that the Democrat attack dogs can come up with about him as that, back in college in the late 1980s, he announced in advance that he was running for student body president, rather than waiting until the official announcement day to do so, the media is going to have to work hard to discredit him. Add the lack of bad stuff to all the major good stuff in Wisconsin, and you’ve got Candidate Squeaky-Clean-and-Principled. Indeed, my only complaint about him will be the fact that he’s younger than I am. How in the world did it happen that I got to be older than the guys running for president? (Obama is only a month younger than I am, so that doesn’t count.)

***

Islamists kill. That’s what they do. And they especially love killing children because, even for psychopaths, soft targets (baby-soft targets) are the best. Or maybe I mean “especially for psychopaths.” Regardless, even as these monsters continue to array themselves in ever greater numbers against the West, our administration announces that it’s going to shrink the Army back to its 1930 size. We saw, of course, how well that worked back in the day.

***

This is what Obamacare is all about (from a son’s WSJ article about Obamacare’s death sentence for his mother):

[T]here is something deeply and incontestably perverse about a law that so distorts and undermines the free activity of individuals that they can no longer buy and sell the goods and services that keep them alive. ObamaCare made my mother’s old plan illegal, and it forced her to buy a new plan that would accelerate her disease and death.

[snip]

The “Affordable” Care Act is a brutal, Procrustean disaster. In principle, it violates the irreducible particularity of human life, and in practice it will cause many individuals to suffer and die. We can do better, and we must.

***

Sultan Knish makes a point that is obvious only in retrospect, after having read his post: just as raw power isn’t concentrated in corporations’ hands but is, instead, concentrated in a centralized government’s hands, so too is wealth concentrated, not in corporations or amongst a wealthy few, but in a centralized, socialized or semi-socialized government’s pocket.

Pitbull — Middle aged suburban mom loves the music and respects the man

It’s a standing joke in our family that Mom — middle-aged suburban housewife that I am — really, really likes Pitbull.  I love the way he does mash-ups of classic songs from the 50s through the 80s, and I like his cheerful, self-deprecating rap.  He’s on my playlist, and I don’t care if the children groan when we’re driving in the car and, suddenly, there’s Pitbull.  As you can see from these videos, he’s rather salacious, but that’s hard to avoid nowadays, and I just . . . well, I just like him:

Today, I also find myself in the rare position of not just liking a musical artist’s performance, but actually respecting his views.  Why?  Because Pitbull was disgusted with pop stars Beyoncé’s and Jay-Z’s much talked-about trip to Cuba.  Jay-Z said of his visit:

“I done turned Havana into Atlanta,” Jay-Z raps. “[…] Boy from the hood, I got White House clearance… Politicians never did s— for me except lie to me, distort history… They wanna give me jail time and a fine. Fine, let me commit a real crime.”

[snip]

Jay Z later raps: “Hear the freedom in my speech… Obama said, ‘Chill you gonna get me impeached. You don’t need this s— anyway, chill with me on the beach.’”

Both of those vapid airheads (Jay-Z and Beyoncé) seemed very pleased with themselves for having visited a communist country that keeps its people imprisoned in grinding poverty, under the constant eye of the state police.

Pitbull was not impressed.  He did a pro-American rap, which he promoted on his Twitter account (click on image to get to Pitbull’s tweet):

Twitter  Pitbull I'm cuban american i was born ... - Mozilla Firefox 4142013 81836 PM.bmp

Pitbull — thank you!!! Next time my children tease me about loving your music, I’m going to tell them that you’re not just a great rapper/musician, you’re also a principled and decent man. Woo-hoo!

Yes, Obama is a Marxist, but the MSM has blunted America’s ability to care

At YID with LID, you get to see proof of something we all knew intuitively:  Obama is now and long has been a Marxist.

The problem is that this news, which ought to be staggering, doesn’t matter.  Even if one strips away the MSM’s reflexive denial about Obama’s Marxism, the fact that he is a Marxist still doesn’t matter.  I’ve said before, and I’ll say again, that forty years of Leftist education and media indoctrination have resulted in an America that views the word without fear.

After forty years of being taught aggressively that America is an evil imperialist; that American values are not only no better than other values but are actually worse; that women and all non-white races are superior to men and the white race (a form of reverse racism, rather than a step toward true equality); that capitalism destroys humans and the planet; that traditional religion is a form of white capitalist dominance; and on and on.  America may not yet be a Marxist nation in fact, but it will be because we’ve had two generations that have been inculcated in Marxist ideology.  It’s what they know and where they go.

I was the first generation.  I struggled with the cognitive dissonance of “the Communists are people just like us, and they want happy families, and they have elections, and we’re the warmongers, and fairies and unicorns,” even while contrasting that with meeting people from the Soviet Union, or getting reports out of China, the Soviet Union, Cuba, and other Marxist paradises putting the lie to these assurances.  Since 1989, though, Communism has been on the decline at the national level.  The Soviet Union is gone, China has gone to a weirdly capitalist economy, and we’re told that Cuba is a happy, sunny, laid-back, 50s-car driving Caribbean paradise, while the horrors in North Korea aren’t because of Communism, but simply because the Kim family is evil.  It’s Peyton Place on steroids, rather than the logical outgrowth of an evil ideology.  The cognitive dissonance with which I struggled is gone, because the past few generations have had no truth to balance against the lies.

So at the end of the day, no one in America cares that Obama is a Marxist.  The concept has been leached of meaning.

But, just so you know, he is a Marxist.

All of which gets me back to the point I made in the preceding post:  Andrew Breitbart got that the problem isn’t Obama.  He’s a symptom.  The problem is a media establishment that’s created a virtual Newspeak world.  It’s that ideological hegemony that we need to destroy, so that future generations of America can actually struggle with cognitive dissonance, rather than being fed a pure diet of lies and misinformation.  Then, if they’re lucky, they can choose actual facts rather than Marxist unicorns and fairies when they make the political choices.

Yes, #OWS is antisemitic. Bill Whittle explains why. And I explain why there is no 99%.

This is as pithy a summary as any I’ve seen about the antisemitism permeating Occupy Wall Street, and binding together the Left, the Islamists, and the White Supremacists:

(If the video isn’t showing up, watch here.)

By the way, why is no one commenting on the fact that the so-called 99% are not a monolithic block, but range from the 1% crazy guy eating food out of a garbage can, all the way up to the 98% gal who was raised in poverty, but worked her way up to splendid financial independence?

This whole 99% versus 1% thing is insanely stupid.  The American reality is that we don’t live in the Middle Ages, we don’t live in a totalitarian dictatorship such as North Korea or Cuba, we don’t live in pre-Revolutionary France, or in any other time or place where the vast majority of citizens are or were a monolithic block of nasty, brutish and short lives, rules over by a few vastly wealthy despots.

Yes, there are some vastly wealthy people in America, although the ones such as Bill Gates and Larry Ellison are singularly disinterested in political power, instead just wanting toys (Ellison) or to save the lives of Third World children (Gates).  Mostly, America represents a rare economic continuum.  There is no 99%.  Instead, in America, we have the 1%, 2%, 3%, 4%, 5% . . . 50%, 51%, 52%, 53% . . . 87%, 88%, 89%, with the vast majority living in the middle of the percentage bell curve, a bell curve that has nothing to do with either Wall Street wealth or Zuccotti homelessness or even spoiled brat student loans.

Hat tip:  Ed Driscoll

Yet another Tom Lehrer song proves to be prescient

I blogged the other day that Tom Lehrer’s MLF Lullaby, although about Germany, worked well with Islam in the starring role.  It turns out that Tom Leher was prescient about folk songs too.  First, the New York Times story:

When one of Cuba’s best-known musicians landed in the United States, his first appearance was not onstage, but on Capitol Hill.

Carlos Varela, often referred to as Cuba’s Bob Dylan, had come to remix an album with his good friend Jackson Browne. But he also hoped to help reshape relations between the United States and his homeland.

So before going to Hollywood to work on the album, he stopped in Washington early this month for meetings with legislators and a lunch with a senior White House official. Later he held a jam session in the House Budget Committee meeting room.

Almost everywhere Mr. Varela, 46, went during his weeks here, including at universities and policy institutes, small talk about music gave way to pressing, albeit polite, questions on policy.

“I don’t represent any government or political party,” he said. “But perhaps that’s why governments and politicians might be willing to listen to what I have to say.”

Yes, it is a Cuban folk song army. And yes, Tom Lehrer wrote more than forty years ago about folk song armies:

One type of song that has come into increasing prominence in recent months is the folk-song of protest. You have to admire people who sing these songs. It takes a certain amount of courage to get up in a coffee-house or a college auditorium and come out in favor of the things that everybody else in the audience is against like peace and justice and brotherhood and so on. The nicest thing about a protest song is that it makes you feel so good. I have a song here which I realize should be accompanied on a folk instrument in which category the piano does not alas qualify so imagine if you will that I am playing an 88 string guitar.

We are the Folk Song Army.
Everyone of us cares.
We all hate poverty, war, and injustice,
Unlike the rest of you squares.

There are innocuous folk songs.
Yeah, but we regard ’em with scorn.
The folks who sing ’em have no social conscience.
Why they don’t even care if Jimmy Crack Corn.

If you feel dissatisfaction,
Strum your frustrations away.
Some people may prefer action,
But give me a folk song any old day.

The tune don’t have to be clever,
And it don’t matter if you put a coupla extra syllables into a line.
It sounds more ethnic if it ain’t good English,
And it don’t even gotta rhyme–excuse me–rhyne.

Remember the war against Franco?
That’s the kind where each of us belongs.
Though he may have won all the battles,
We had all the good songs.

So join in the Folk Song Army,
Guitars are the weapons we bring
To the fight against poverty, war, and injustice.
Ready! Aim! Sing!

The New York Times takes off the mask

This morning, Mr. Bookworm asked me “Who is Charles Freeman?”  Because he reads only the Times, he’d never heard of him before today.  I gave a brief summary of Freeman’s views re China, the Middle East and 9/11, as well as the fact that he lives in Saudi and Chinese pockets financially.  Mr. Bookworm listened silently, and then said, “Well, I’ve never heard of him, but it’s all over the front pages today that the Jewish Lobby destroyed him.”

I thought this was hyperbole on Mr. Bookworm’s part, but it’s not.  Despite the fact that the past three weeks revealed vast amounts of irrefutable evidence about Freeman’s China connections, his 9/11 pronouncements and his general malevolent wackiness, the Times, now that it finally deigned to cover the matter, actually parrots Freeman and blames the Jews.

The Times titles its “story” (and I use that term deliberately, in the way one refers to a falsehood) about Freeman’s political demise thusly: “Israel Stance Was Undoing of Nominee for Intelligence Post.”  The story begins with a bizarre first paragraph that explains that the White House really had no idea what was going on and was kind of worried about Freeman, but ultimately was just as blindsided by the Freeman nomination as anyone else.  As for me, I don’t find this “excuse” comforting.  I find it a scary sign that, again, the White House is either utterly incompetent or was complicit in this failed nomination and is now using incompetence as an excuse.

Having done their best to trumpet the Bush administration’s innocence in this mess, the article’s authors just pile it on Israel, as seen through the Freeman lens:

Just how controversial the choice would be became clear on Tuesday, when Mr. Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia under the first President Bush, angrily withdrew his name from consideration and charged that he had been the victim of a concerted campaign by what he called “the Israel lobby.”

Mr. Freeman had long been critical of Israel, with a bluntness that American officials rarely voice in public about a staunch American ally. In 2006, he warned that, “left to its own devices, the Israeli establishment will make decisions that harm Israelis, threaten all associated with them and enrage those who are not.”

He did not soften his tone even on Wednesday, saying in an interview that “Israel is driving itself toward a cliff, and it is irresponsible not to question Israeli policy and to decide what is best for the American people.”

The critics who led the effort to derail Mr. Freeman argued that such views reflected a bias that could not be tolerated in someone who, as chairman of the National Intelligence Council, would have overseen the production of what are supposed to be policy-neutral intelligence assessments destined for the president’s desk.

Some of Mr. Freeman’s defenders say his views on Israel are extreme only when seen through the lens of American political life, and they asked whether it was possible to question American support for Israel without being either muzzled or marginalized.

“The reality of Washington is that our political landscape finds it difficult to assimilate any criticism of any segment of the Israeli leadership,” said Robert W. Jordan, who was ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2001 to 2003.

The above is just a representative sample.  The article never actually examines Freeman’s problems.  It engages in a he said/she said approach, giving equal airtime to his supporters, and leaving the very strong impression (supported by the story’s title), that all-powering Jews destroyed Freeman — just as Freeman claimed.

Only in the last third of this lengthy article covering Freeman’s views about Israel and the effort Jewish groups made to derail him does one actually hear about China, and then only in the most cursory fashion, and spread out over myriad paragraphs:

In the days after Senator Schumer’s first phone call, other lawmakers and pro-Israel groups began applying pressure on the White House. Representative Steve Israel, a New York Democrat, also called Mr. Emanuel about the pick, and pushed Mr. Blair’s inspector general to examine possible conflicts of interest surrounding Mr. Freeman’s relationships with the Chinese and Saudi governments.

[snip]

Before his ambassadorship, Mr. Freeman held a variety of State Department posts. Since leaving government, he has worked with nonprofit groups and on the board of the state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corporation, a past position that his critics said could be a conflict of interest in his new job.

[snip]

Critics also unearthed e-mail messages attributed to Mr. Freeman that seemed to support the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, saying it was not “acceptable for any country to allow the heart of its national capital to be occupied by dissidents intent on disrupting the normal functions of government, however appealing to foreigners their propaganda may be.”

Mr. Freeman said Wednesday that the passage was taken out of context, and that he had been describing the dominant view in China in the years after the crackdown.

I won’t even dignify what theTimes did by calling it journalism.  I can easily call it biased, disgraceful and dishonest, though.

Of course, really, it’s all part of a pattern.  In one of the local Marin papers, The Twin Cities Times, the front page has a glowing encomium about Cuba (although, interestingly, the article isn’t available on line).  A local Marin-ite wrote the article after a trip to Cuba.  To give the writer total credit, he did something the Times would never dream of doing:  he spelled out his bias in the article as well as the fact that a “tour” guide accompanied them the whole time (although you had to read pretty far down to get to that information):

Most [on this trip] were activists trying to end the embargo and get a better view of the realities of life there.  All our activities included a bus and our guide, Arturo, who translated everything for us.

After the usual about the people being very nice (which I believe), and very ingenious (which I believe), we start getting the useful idiot shtick:  full employment, fabulous health care, state funded exercise classes, amazing women’s rights, etc.  It doesn’t seem to occur to our local naif that, since he’s getting a government guided tour of a police state, he might just be seeing a Potemkin village and that people the guide interviewed on the tourists behalf might not have been speaking honestly for fear of state retribution.  (And you have to assume that, even if our innocent writer didn’t understand it, the ordinary Cubans knew that the  “guide” was almost certainly a member of Cuba’s secret police.)

I wonder if the author’s article knew, or cared, that anyone who criticizes the Cuban government is summarily imprisoned.  (Jay Nordlinger, at Impromptus, regularly reports on the terrible treatment meted out to Cuban dissidents.)  I wonder if he ever wonders why people are so desperate to leave Cuba that they’ll risk their lives to do so — or if he wonders why people are forbidden to leave.  If the country is as great as the government shills assure him it is, why is it one giant prison?

I’ll excuse the local guy of being a useful idiot.  The Times, however, is actively malevolent.

Random thoughts about Obama *UPDATED*

Obama made much of the fact that his father was an African immigrant from a small village with goats (or something like that).  Few people have made anything of the flip side of that little bit of bio, which is the fact that the first black president has no connection to America’s slave culture.  This is consistent with the fact that the blacks who get ahead in America tend to be the children of recent immigrants from Africa and the Carribean (think:  Colin Powell), rather than from blacks who trace their American roots much further back than I can trace mine.  I draw no conclusions from this; I just observe.

Obama’s decision to close Gitmo (sort of, maybe) in a year is nicely symbolic, but creates more problems than it solves (and what it solves is merely symbolic too, in that it placates the nutroots).  Closing Gitmo means shutting down a physical site, but one is still left with the problem of the prisoners.  American prisons don’t want them, especially because they’re already struggling with the rise of Islam in prisons, a rise that does not make for docile prison populations, but rather, one that increases the sense of aggression and entitlement.  Releasing these prisoners who, in their own minds, continue to be at war with us, simply puts them back on the field.  The 18th Century concept of a parole (which saw released prisoners promise to refrain from fighting for 18 months) really isn’t a workable concept today.  The most logical option is to build a new facility that’s like Gitmo in all ways except that it’s not called Gitmo — which would be a perfect triumph of form over substance, something I suspect we’ll see with increasing frequency in the “image is everything” Obama presidency.

Also on the subject of Gitmo, this is precisely what John Kerry promised back in 2004 — we’ll turn this icky, politically incorrect war into a police action.  Releasing Gitmo detainees into the criminal justice system is just the first step.  But as many commented back in 2004, police actions are ex post facto.  The person commits the crime and then you catch him.  Bush’s system, mercifully for Americans for all these years, was pro active, stopping terror before it started.  You’re right, Bob, about the inevitable consequences of Obama’s instant back-down.

One more thing:  Suek is absolutely correct that this decision is going to give American troops a much greater incentive to “take no prisoners.”  The POW concept, which is a fairly recent and humane one, removed fighters from the battlefield without killing them.  If the battlefield is going to be turned into a revolving door, the only way American fighters can assure themselves that they won’t find themselves staring down the barrel of the same gun a second time is to disable that gun (and its operator) permanently.

Are any of you surprised the Obama is refusing to speak to the press?  I’m not.  He was able to leapfrog from being a nobody to being a president thanks to the gift the press gave him during the candidacy, which was their willingness not to make serious efforts to speak to him.  He still has nothing to say, but he’s now in a position to impose the cone of silence from above, without being dependent on their slavering good will.

I notice that Obama is urging Israel to create a permeable barrier between itself and Gaza. In the same spirit, I think Obama should do away with the Secret Service.  Indeed, to the extent no one has yet tried to kill Obama (and I pray that no one will), he’s actually in a better position security-wise than Israel, which actually has concrete proof that the people in Gaza mean to put their murderous threats into effect.  To date, I’ve been less impressed with Obama’s much vaunted intelligence than others have been.  I have absolutely no doubt that his is a feral, not a thoughtful, mental strength.  This kind of stupid statement proves me right.

And on a totally un-Obama note, are you as impressed a I am with the progress they’re making in plastics (or is it wax) in Cuba?

UPDATE:  I like Laer’s Gitmo solution, which is sort of the mirror image of my suggestion about Obama, Gaza and the Secret Service.