The Bookworm Beat 8-26-15 — the “gruesome GoPro” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265The revolution will be televised — thoughts on the shooting in Virginia

Back in 1969 or 1970, during the height of the 1960s era upheavals, Gil Scott-Heron wrote a poem/song claiming “the revolution will not be televised.” The lyrics implied that the media would be so anodyne that, while revolution was on the streets, those watching their TVs would see only pabulum. What Scott-Heron couldn’t perceive was that, thanks to technological advances, the revolutionaries would create their own television spectacles. We see that most dramatically with ISIS, which enjoys filming and televising its trail of murder, rapine, and destruction, as well as with the American activists who turn life’s frictions into catalysts for riot and revolution.

And today we saw something that managed to have roots both in a protest against life’s friction and in ISIS’s sadistic voyeurism: It turns out that Vester Lee Flanigan, the man who murdered TV reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, and seriously injured Chamber of Commerce representative Vicki Gardner, (a) committed the murder in part because Parker allegedly made racist comments before Flanigan and Parker ever worked together and (b) GoPro’d the murder:

Murderer's eye view Flanigan Parker

The revolution will be televised, and it will be the revolutionaries, especially the sadistic voyeurs, doing the televising.

Oh, and because the usual suspects have used this horrible murder as ammunition in their war on the Second Amendment, you might want to have as your own talking point the fact that gun crime has dropped 49% since 1993, something the vast majority of Americans do not know.

Donald Trump and Univision’s Jorge Ramos

I do not like Trump. I do not believe he’s a conservative. I do believe he’s a megalomaniac. I sincerely hope he burns out soon, so that more serious candidates (my current faves are Cruz and Fiorina) can get their rightful place in the limelight.

Having said that, I totally understand why people are so enthusiastic about Trump’s demagogic candidacy. Part of it the support comes from people’s sense that a lawless administration needs to be reined in about illegal immigration.

Incidentally, I just made an important point, if I do say so myself. Contrary to Leftist claims, those who support Trump are not xenophobes, trying to lock Hispanics out of the country. They are, instead, ordinary lawful citizens who are horrified by the fact that the current executive branch in this country is willfully violating laws that Congress passed to preserve this country’s sovereignty. It’s not racist to ask your government to enforce its own laws. But back to Trump….

What people like about Trump is his absolute refusal to play by the PC rules that Leftists have long used to stifle conservative speech and action. Ramos was out of line to use his Hispanic heft to muscle into a speech at the Donald’s press conference, and the Donald rightly put him in his place. Then, when Ramos played by the rules and waited his turn, Trump again put him in his place by answering in straightforward fashion questions about the border, pnce again blogging Ramos’s speechifying.

Leftists are bullies who work hard to control speech and thought through whatever means are available. In Trump, they’ve met an even bigger bully than they are.  While I’d hate to see Trump in the driver’s seat at the White House, it’s a pleasure to see him out bully the Left on the campaign trail.

Daniel Pipes on the possibility that Tehran rejects the deal

To those of us watching Obama work hard to hand billions of dollars and unlimited nuclear capacity to the Iranians, it seems inconceivable that the Iranians might reject the deal. Moreover, if that were to happen, I think most of us would have, as our instinctive first response, the thought that it’s good to see Obama humiliated in such a way.

Daniel Pipes, however, argues that the possibility is real that Tehran could reject the deal and that, absent some careful groundwork, if it were to happen, it could have unpleasant ramifications, not for Obama, but for Israel and other opponents of the deal:

Leaders of fanatical and brutal government such as Khamenei’s invariably make ideological purity and personal power their highest priorities and he is no exception. From this point of view – its impact on the regime’s longevity – the deal contains two problems.

First, it betrays Ayatollah Khameini’s vision of unyielding enmity to the United States, a core principle that has guided the Islamic republic since he founded it in 1979. A substantial portion of the leadership, including Khamenei himself, hold to a purist vision that sees any relations with the United States as unacceptable and bordering on treachery. For this reason, Tehran has long been the world’s only capital not seeking improved relations with Washington. These rejectionists disdain the benefits of the deal; they refuse it on grounds of principle.


Second, Iranian opponents of the JCPOA worry about its eroding the Islamist values of Khameini’s revolution. They fear that the businessmen, tourists, students, artists, et al., perched soon to descend on an newly-opened Iran will further tempt the local population away from the difficult path of resistance and martyrdom in favor of consumerism, individualism, feminism, and multiculturalism. They despise and dread American clothing, music, videos, and education. Khamenei himself talks of the U.S. government seeking a way “to penetrate into the country.” From their point of view, isolation and poverty have their virtues as means to keep the Iranian revolution alive.


Back in the West, opponents of the deal will, of course, rejoice if Khamenei rejects the deal. But his doing so also presents them with a problem. After claiming that Obama has given away the store, they must confront the awkward fact that the Iranian leadership turned down his offer. As Obama emerges as an apparent hard-liner who protected American interests and out-bargained the bazaar merchants, their argument collapses. His accusation about their “making common cause” with the Iranian rejectionists will look newly convincing and terribly damning. Israel’s prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, currently in Obama’s dog house, is especially at risk of being dismissed as foolish.

To avoid this fate, the deal’s opponents must immediately prepare for the possibility of an Iranian “no.”

Read the whole thing here.

The 14th Amendment is not intended to extend birthright citizenship to people who are here illegally

The 14th Amendment’s reference to birthright citizenship was intended to give American blacks citizenship. Blacks did not come to America voluntarily. Whites brought them here forcibly, and then kept them captive. The least America could do was make them and their children citizens of this country.

The 14th amendment was not intended (a) to provide an incentive for people to make a voluntary illegal journey here and then to use the subsequent birth of their children as an anchor to stay in perpetuity or (b) to entice monied people to come here solely for their child’s birth, before returning to their own country. It’s not complicated; it is, instead, a grotesque perversion of our Constitution to hold otherwise.

I actually have thought a fair bit about birthright citizenship because my father was the child of a German Jewish woman and a Polish Jewish man of Romanian decent. His mother had been in Germany for centuries and was a German citizen. His father was a legal immigrant in Germany, but retained his Polish citizenry. My father, although born in Germany in 1919 to a German mother, was a Polish citizen. That’s why, when he and my mother sought to immigrate legally to America in the 1950s, it took him years to get a visa — America wasn’t thrilled at the time about getting more Polish residents. I always thought it was unfair to my father, that he was born in Germany to legal residents, but was a Pole.

The same does not hold true in my mind for people who should not be here in the first place. They weren’t invited, they weren’t forced here, and they didn’t follow the legal process to get here. They are, to my mind, non-people under American law and they should not get any of the benefits that either the law or the constitution extend to people born here, invited here, forced here, and legally welcomed here.

Of course, the media is doing its best to hide from everyone the fact that birthright citizenship is not the reward for every cheat who enters this country.

Yet another blow to the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt

Okay, the story below isn’t really a blow to the legacy of Franklin Roosevelt, because a media that (a) worships Roosevelt and (b) isn’t going to let Americans get a glimpse into the sordid side of Roosevelt’s personality and presidency will never cover it.

The fact is, though, that Roosevelt was either a racist or an exceptionally petty man — or both. Certainly Roosevelt didn’t care that Jews were being slaughtered. He didn’t integrate the WWII military. And he refused to congratulate Jessie Owens in 1936:

Back home, ticker tape parades feted Owens in New York City and Cleveland. Hundreds of thousands of Americans came out to cheer him. Letters, phone calls, and telegrams streamed in from around the world to congratulate him. From one important man, however, no word of recognition ever came. As Owens later put it, “Hitler didn’t snub me; it was our president who snubbed me. The president didn’t even send a telegram.”

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, leader of a major political party with deep roots in racism, couldn’t bring himself to utter a word of support, which may have been a factor in Owens’s decision to campaign for Republican Alf Landon in the 1936 presidential election. FDR invited all the white US Olympians to the White House, but not Jesse.

“It all goes so fast, and character makes the difference when it’s close,” Owens once said about athletic competition. He could have taught FDR a few lessons in character, but the president never gave him the chance. Owens wouldn’t be invited to the White House for almost 20 years — not until Dwight Eisenhower named him “Ambassador of Sports” in 1955.

The gay rights movement is not the same as the civil rights movement

I have to admit to being surprised (rather pleasantly) to see the New York Times run an op-ed from someone pointing out that the gay rights and civil rights movement are not the same. John Corvino is a philosophy professor, so his writing made my eyes role into the back of my head (I could almost see my brain), but I appreciate his careful effort to explain that, while the movements share similarities, they are not the same and that it’s an error to impose draconian government speech restrictions on those who, for reasons of faith, aren’t anxious to embrace gay marriage. Indeed, Corvino makes an argument I’ve been making for years, which is that the civil rights movement saw individuals protesting government conduct while the gay rights movement is using the government to enforce private conduct:

When civil rights laws were passed, discrimination against blacks was pervasive, state-sponsored and socially intractable. Pervasive, meaning that there weren’t scores of other photographers clamoring for their business. State-sponsored, meaning that segregation was not merely permitted but in fact legally enforced, even in basic public accommodations and services. Socially intractable, meaning that without higher-level legal intervention, the situation was unlikely to improve. To treat the lesbian couple’s situation as identical — and thus as obviously deserving of the same legal remedy — is to minimize our racist past and exaggerate L.G.B.T.-rights opponents’ current strength.

Leftists are so damn smug

I’ve had the link to this video on my spindle for about a week now. In the elapsed time since I first tagged it, but didn’t get the chance to write about it, it’s gone viral, even to the point of Ellen Degeneris sending out a tweet. In it, a father videos himself celebrating the fact that his little boy got a “Little Mermaid” doll at the toy store.

Why did I tag it to bring to your attention? Because the father is so smug. Smug is not the right response to a personal family decision. Instead, it’s apparent that this guy knew precisely what kind of traction this video would get and desperately wanted his 15 seconds of fame.

Leftists are so damn greedy

You’ll know without my comments what to make of a lawyer saying that blacks and other oppressed people should steal from big retailers, because the fact that retailers have insurance means that it’s not a crime. Separate from the immorality and racism of what he says, he needs an economics lesson courtesy of Bastiat.

Even Israel supports sharia law

One of the hallmarks of a free society is free speech. One of the hallmarks of a sharia society is that, whether through word or deed, you’re not allowed to criticize any aspect of Islam, especially the pedophile prophet. Yet in Israel, a free country chronically under attack by the pedophile’s followers, the government enforces sharia on Islam’s behalf:

Israeli police arrested a fourth person for calling Mohammed a pig. Avia Morris, the first person arrested described being taunted with cries of “Allahu Akbar” and “Kill the Jews” along with signs of support for ISIS. But it only became a legal matter when the twenty-year-old woman retorted, “Mohammed is a pig.”

Daniel Greenfield has a great deal more on Mohammed’s piggishness and on Western government’s enthusiastic willingness to become an arm of the sharia police when speakers point out Mohammed’s many, many failings:

The response to Muslim violence has been greater extremes of censorship. There is a direct connection between the amount of protective censorship imposed on any criticism of Islam and Islamic violence. The Clinton administration rant about Tatiana’s cartoon took place after the World Trade Center bombing. And yet it would have been unthinkable then to lock up a Mohammed filmmaker, as Hillary and Obama did after the Benghazi massacre. Each new atrocity creates new momentum for censorship.

The Israeli police behave the way they do because the authorities are desperate to keep some kind of peace and it is always easier to censor, arrest and control non-Muslims than Muslims. That is also why the authorities in European countries are far more willing to lock up those who burn the Koran or criticize Islam than the Salafis who patrol the streets as Sharia police and call for a Caliphate.

This is not tolerance. It’s appeasement. It’s cowardice and treason.

Need I point out that these are the same governments that are entirely comfortable with Christs in urine, Marys in elephant dung, and horribly antisemitic pictures of Jews?

No matter how nice Obama makes with Cuba, Cuba is still a nasty place

We have diplomatic relationships with all sorts of nasty regimes. What’s disgusting about Obama and Co. is that they’re pretending that Cuba isn’t a nasty regime. Cracked, of all sites, points out that the Left is lying — Cuba’s a bad place, let by ugly, violent people.

Income inequality and poverty are not the same thing

Writing at Forbes, Harry Frankfurt makes a very important point in response to hysterical screams about income inequality, all of which end up with demands for government mandated wealth redistribution:

It isn’t especially desirable that each have the same as others. What is bad is not inequality; it is poverty. We should want each person to have enough—that is, enough to support the pursuit of a life in which his or her own reasonable ambitions and needs may be comfortably satisfied. This individually measured sufficiency, which by definition precludes the bur­dens and deprivations of poverty, is clearly a more sensible goal than the achievement of an impersonally calibrated equality.


It is not inequality itself that is to be decried; nor is it equality it­self that is to be applauded. We must try to eliminate poverty, not because the poor have less than others but be­cause being poor is full of hardship and suffering. We must con­trol inequality, not because the rich have much more than the poor but because of the tendency of inequality to generate unac­ceptable discrepancies in social and political influence. Inequality is not in itself objectionable—and neither is equality in itself a morally required ideal.

Ben Shapiro and my sister sort of agree

My sister is a rather indifferent libertarian who pays as little attention to the news as possible. However, we had a conversation when I spoke about the fact that voters cannot make informed decisions when the media deliberately hides data. My example was the Planned Parenthood videos showing Planned Parenthood facilities engaging in the sale of human body parts in a way that (a) appears to show them violating laws against profiting from that sale; (b) appears to show them failing to notify the women having the abortions what will be done about those body parts; and (c) makes it clear how revolting the traffic in fetal body parts really is.

When I described the videos to her, my sister was horrified. Libertarian she may be; secularist she may be; government out of my womb she may be — but she understands that there is a moment when that fetus is a viable life and at that moment she believes, as do most Americans, that it’s murder to vacuum it out of a woman’s body and kill it without a damn good reason for doing so. Although she won’t watch it, she would find herself agreeing with Ben Shapiro’s video:

More climate lies

Just in case you wanted to know, NOAA committed the usual acts of climate-based scientific fraud with Oklahoma temperature data.

If you need some inspiration today…

Corporal Todd Love will inspire you.

Dubai — impressive or disgusting?

I’m not a fan of conspicuous consumption, so I find Dubai’s excess disgusting. Having said that, it’s disgusting in a kind of fascinating way.

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.


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?]


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.]


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.