The Bookworm Beat 11-29-15 — the “tidy office-tidy mind” edition

Woman-writing-300x265Inspired by Marie Kondo’s advice that true organization begins with throwing out everything that is neither useful nor sentimental, I am continuing to plow through every nook and cranny in my house. This is the first organization system that’s made sense to me, which is why I haven’t already given up and relapsed into my usual vaguely tidy-looking mess. My mind is also a vaguely tidy-looking mess, but  it’s still yielded these interesting links:

Ignore people who tell you Cruz is divisive and uncooperative

According to those rooting for candidates other than Ted Cruz, he’s an arrogant blowhard who won’t play well with others.  In fact, Cruz’s work history proves that the opposite is true:

At the FTC, Cruz’s agenda could have been written by Milton Friedman.

Cruz promoted economic liberty and fought government efforts to rig the marketplace in favor of special interests. Most notably, Cruz launched an initiative to study the government’s role in conspiring with established businesses to suppress e-commerce. This initiative ultimately led the U.S. Supreme Court to open up an entire industry to small e-tailers. Based on his early support of disruptive online companies, Cruz has some grounds to call himself the “Uber of American politics.”

Moreover, and perhaps surprising to some, Cruz sought and secured a broad, bipartisan consensus for his agenda. Almost all of Cruz’s initiatives received unanimous support among both Republicans and Democrats.

Ted Cruz a consensus-builder? He was, at the FTC.

Read the rest here.  Cruz has the chops to make the best kind of President:  True conservative values, love for America, phenomenal intelligence, and the ability to work and play well with others.

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The Bookworm Beat 4-27-15 — “not yet the Apocalypse” edition and open thread

Woman writingMy brain is filled with Apocalyptic imagery, but it’s not because Obama is president, the Middle East is in flames, our southern border has collapsed, our economy is stagnant, Greece may drag down Europe, and Islamist’s are resurgent everywhere. It’s actually because last night, when my work load finally showed signs of a much-desired longish-term slowdown, I started reading two excellent books.

The first is Simon Sebag Montefiore’s lyrical and highly informative Jerusalem: The Biography, which takes the reader from Jerusalem’s pre-Biblical beginnings, to Old Testament and New Testament history, and then through post-Biblical history, all the way up to the 1967 War. It’s a lovely book, but I’ve just finished reading about Jesus’s crucifixion and am working my way toward’s the Kingdom of Israel’s destruction in 70 AD, so you can see why I’d be having an “end of days” feeling.

The second book that I’m reading, equally good so far, isn’t helping. It’s John Kelly’s The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time, another elegantly written book that makes you realize the speed with which civilization can collapse (as if the recent Ebola scare wasn’t reminder enough). I think too that Kelly, with a historian’s true knowledge rather than a Progressive’s fantasy-science melange, might just be a climate change skeptic. It’s this bit of information that’s the giveaway, about the changing climate and demographic conditions in Europe in the five hundred years leading to the plague:

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The Bookworm Beat 12/8/14 — Monday evening wrap-up and open thread

Woman writingNo time for an intro. I’ll just head straight for snark and links:
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Found it on Facebook: Everything that’s wrong with a poster from the Left

One of my Democrat Facebook friends put this poster up on her feed:

Leftist view of the last two administrations

It’s a fascinating looking-glass view at the world, insofar as it sums up most of the last 14 years in a way precisely the opposite of the way in which conservatives see those years.  The praise for the Democrats is like looking at the glassy surface of a pool, only to discover the rot that lies beneath it.

I.  Let’s see what lies beneath those “Democrat miracles”:

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Help wanted re executive order analysis

imageOne of the things making the rounds on my “real me” Facebook is a poster claiming that Bush signed off on many more executive orders than did Obama. Since the poster is obviously out of date (not to mention the fact that it compares Bush’s 8 year term to Obama’s 1 or 2 year term at the time), I went to Wikipedia and found some interesting numbers.

Over eight years, George W. Bush issued 291 EOs, with the largest number in 2001 (presumably because of 9/11). That’s an average of slightly more than 36 per year. In the course of five years, Obama has issued 167 EOs, or an average of almost 21 per year. Under that metric, Progressives are absolutely right that Bush was the bigger offender.

It seems to me, though, that a numerical argument is a red herring. I’m under the impression — and I’m asking you, please, to correct me if I’m wrong — that conservatives’ objection to Obama’s EOs stems from the nature, not the number. That is, Obama is using EOs to void legislation, rather than as directives to effectuate legislation. In doing that, he’s unconstitutionally usurping Congress’s power (although Democrat Congress people seen fine with waving — or waiving — their prerogatives goodbye).

Please let me know if I’m right or wrong, and please direct me to articles with more information about this subject.

(And yes, I know I’m being lazy “crowd sourcing” this question, rather than doing the research myself. The thing is that I’ve learned from experience that you guys, individually and collectively, have extraordinary funds of knowledge. I’d be crazy, therefore, not to tap into those funds.)

Is Joe Biden actually Obama’s brain?

Joe Biden

You all remember from the Bush-era how we were told repeatedly that Dick Cheney was George Bush’s brain.  That notion arose when the Left couldn’t square Bush’s effectiveness as an executive (never mind his years of executive experience) with their certainty that he was, in fact, an idiot.  They were so relieved when they decided that Cheney was Bush’s puppet master.  I won’t debate the truth of that.  Suffice to say that I believe that George Bush was fully capable of handling the job.

Seth Mandel, however, floats the interesting notion — with actual facts supporting it — that Joe Biden has become Obama’s brain:

In October 2008, in a highly publicized and eagerly anticipated vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin, Biden said something that would have been notable were it not for his reputation for bluster and braggadocio. When moderator Gwen Ifill asked the candidates about the job description and value of the vice presidency of the United States, Biden said this:

With regard to the role of vice president, I had a long talk, as I’m sure the governor did with her principal, in my case with Barack. Let me tell you what Barack asked me to do. I have a history of getting things done in the United States Senate. John McCain would acknowledge that. My record shows that on controversial issues. I would be the point person for the legislative initiatives in the United States Congress for our administration. I would also, when asked if I wanted a portfolio, my response was, no. But Barack Obama indicated to me he wanted me with him to help him govern. So every major decision he’ll be making, I’ll be sitting in the room to give my best advice. He’s president, not me, I’ll give my best advice.

This was Biden promising–and on the heels of the tenure of Dick Cheney, criticized volubly by the left for his active role in the White House–that he would be an unusually powerful vice president. And it was Biden’s way of reassuring those who were concerned about Obama’s inexperience. Obama may not be ready for all the challenges of the presidency, Biden was saying, but don’t worry: I’ll be in the room. And Obama may not have the kind of relationships with Congress that can get difficult legislation passed, but don’t worry: Uncle Joe will get it done.

It’s striking just how correct Biden was. Obama has bungled one negotiation with Congress after another, and Biden has stepped in. And when it comes to national security decision making, Biden has, in fact, been in the room.

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And Biden’s success in this White House has raised another uncomfortable truth: that President Obama so often needs to be saved from himself. As Pete wrote yesterday, Obama’s press conference on the debt ceiling was filled with reprehensible, shameful slanders about Obama’s political opponents. Such was the case when Obama called that absurd rally/standup comedy routine to taunt Republicans while a deal on the fiscal cliff was still being hammered out by those who were working instead of kicking dirt at their opponents. Obama’s behavior should embarrass both the president and the Democrats, but it’s also the result of a moral hazard: Obama can refuse to engage intellectually with is opponents because someone else will do it for him. And he can work to destroy any progress on the problem solving others are conducting because Biden will clean up his mess.

If this doesn’t scare you, it should.  It’s like the movie Dumb and Dumber, with Dumber pulling the strings.  Or maybe it’s a movie called Evil and Dumber, and we should just be grateful that it’s Dumber who’s in charge.

Puppet on a string

Mandel notes that Biden’s increasing power makes him a good candidate for the 2016 presidential race.  Biden’s problem is is toxic public statements that manage to offend one and all.  However, he’s always been liked in D.C., and he now (finally) has a resume.

As with so many things shaping up this year, I don’t like where this is going.

Obama’s dangerous expansion of the use of executive orders

Years ago, during the Bush administration, Terry Gross, of NPR’s Fresh Air, interviewed a writer who was in an absolutely tizzy about Bush’s use of executive orders.  Sadly, for the life of me, I can’t find that interview.  What I also can’t find is any evidence that this author has again gone onto Terry Gross’ show to complaint about Obama’s extraordinary use of executive orders, a use that overwhelms Bush’s small efforts in that area.  Obama has vastly enlarged the nature and number of those orders, so much so that he’s becoming his own little legislature.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) has written a lucid, interesting article detailing everything that is wrong with Obama’s abuse of the executive order:

Let’s focus on the supposed authority of the President to simply enact laws by the stroke of his pen. Article I Section I of the Constitution vests all legislative powers in Congress. All.  None are given to the President or the Courts.  All government acts need to be evaluated on whether they are consistent with our Constitution.

The executive branch has the Constitutional responsibility to execute the laws passed by Congress. It is well accepted that an executive order is not legislation nor can it be. An executive order is a directive that implements laws passed by Congress. The Constitution provides that the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”  Article II, Section 3, Clause 5. Thus, executive orders can only be used to carry out the will of Congress. If we in Congress have not established the policy or authorization by law, the President can’t do it unilaterally.

That’s pretty simple: Executive orders simply give the president the power to effectuate Congress’ legislation, not the authority to make his own. Nor can the president use executive orders to prevent legislation from going into effect (as Obama did with immigration without any opposition) or to circumvent the Constitution itself (as he apparently intends to do with guns).

I urge you to read the whole thing, and then send it along to people you know who intuitively understand that what Obama’s doing is unconstitutional, but who need more facts and argument for their intellectual armory.

Why both of Obama’s hot mic moments matter

Seth Mandel compares Obama’s hot mic moments (insulting Netanyahu; cutting private deals with the Russians) to George Bush’s single hot mic moment:

[W]hen the microphones were off, Bush was–to no one’s surprise–just as supportive of our allies and as tough on our adversaries as he was in public. These moments might seem insignificant, but they reveal why some presidents are able to win the trust of our allies, and others are not. Our most candid moments will always play an outsized role in others’ approximations of our moral compass. This is even more so when they confirm a pattern of behavior.

While the cowboy’s away, the scary mice will play

Yes, that’s a wildly mixed, virtually unintelligible metaphor in my post title, but I can actually explain it.  Iran is pranking the U.S.  Considering the way in which we were assured that an Obama in the White House would inaugurate a new era of foreign policy, what the Iranians are doing is funny, but it’s also terribly frightening.  One of the good things about George Bush’s presidency was that, even though he wasn’t really a cowboy, the bad guys thought he was, and that kept them in line.  Now they know that America is under the control, not of a paper tiger, but of a paper cat, so these wacky, nuclear-armed mice are out to play.  No good will come of this.

Yes, I miss him *UPDATED*

On the one hand, we have a little man (figuratively speaking), sitting at a big, empty desk, speaking in deadened tones and flat words, as his eyes roam relentlessly back and forth between his teleprompter, desperately avoiding the single word that so aptly sums up American bravery and sacrifice:  Victory!

And on the other hand, we once had this:

I started appreciating George Bush on September 11, 2001, and came to respect him greatly in the intervening years.  And boy, do I miss him now.  He didn’t always do things with which I agreed, but he was always, always, a person of great integrity, decency, patriotism and personal warmth.  All of that shows in the speech above.

Hat tip:  Commentary’s post about Obama’s anticipated absence from Ground Zero on 9/11 this year.

UPDATE:  Turns out I’m not the only one feeling nostalgic for President Bush today.  Heck, Obama is so bad, some are even feeling nostalgic for Clinton.

Two presidents in their milieus — and how photos can lie *UPDATED/CORRECTED*

Presidents get photographed hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of time.  Each photograph captures a mere moment.  Some are flattering; some less so.  Many, however, go on to become iconic.

My generation, the 1970s generation, is deeply imprinted with this photo of Richard Nixon flashing the victory sign:

RichardNixonFarewell

Then there is this 1932 photograph of FDR, which exemplified the buoyant self-confidence that was so attractive to frightened Americans during a shatteringly deep depression:

20090101-204447-pic-810574964_t756

As a counterpoint to Roosevelt’s jaunty assurance, I kind of like this picture of Barack Obama, caught unawares [UPDATE:  FunkyPhD clues me in to something I didn’t know — the photo is a fake.  I’ll keep it here, but add another immediately after of Obama smoking, just to keep the balance.  Incidentally, while the newly added photo is old, the fact is that Obama can’t seem to kick the habit.]:

obama-smoking

barack_obama_smoking_weed_picture.0.0.0x0.611x404

Frankly, whether one looks at the doctored photo or the genuine one, each freezes just a moment in time, but both seem to capture so completely the essence of the man (or lack of essence, if you will).

Steve Schippert, who writes at Threats Watch, stumbled across a couple of photos that seem to get to the heart of Bush and Obama, by showing each man in a milieu in which he clearly connects with his audience. The photos make a lovely matched set (and don’t I love those matched sets?) because each is informal and, in each, the President holds a bullhorn, reaching out to his audience.

The first photo shows George Bush, at Ground Zero with rescue workers, shortly after 9/11:

Sept14_BushBeckwithBullhorn

It is, in its own small way, another iconic moment.  9/11 was the turning point in Bush’s presidency and, for at least 8 years, in America’s relationship with the world.  Bush connected deeply with middle America, the America of people with traditional values and a reverence for American exceptionalism.  This is not a chauvinism that demands the degradation of other nations.  It is simply a recognition that we are what we are — and we like it. And the rest of the world hated Bush for his unreserved love for and protective feelings towards America.

The second photo shows Barack Obama, also with a bullhorn, speaking to adoring multitudes in Kenya:

Obama-Kenya-IN01-wide-horizontal

He looks so pleased and comfortable.  This crowd that unabashedly loves him.  They don’t care where he was born, they don’t ask about his grades, they aren’t worried about his past associations, they don’t look askance at his slender employment record dotted with promotions that appeared to be due to connections, not merit.  The picture captures perfectly a mindset that the American media sold to American voters in 2008:  Out in the world, away from America, Obama doesn’t have to prove himself.  He just is.  He’s Obama.

But things are never that simple, are they?  As Obama seeks world peace by cuddling up to bad actors in an effort to disarm them (think Chamberlain and Hitler), people of good will around the world are getting worried.  Certainly Poland and the Czech Republic have reason to fear; Israel fears; South Korea fears; everyone within rocket or suitcase range of Iran fears; Venezuela’s neighbors fear — this is a man who prefers the peace of the grave to the hurly-burly of freedom.

The world is realizing that it’s not enough just to “be Obama.”  The cowboy insult bestowed on Bush might have been an unwitting compliment.  After all, it was Bush who was willing to ride into town and, at great risk to himself, clean up the bad guys.

The Kenyan image of Obama is especially ironic, because Africans and other people concerned about Africa are waking up to the fact that it was George Bush, whitest of white presidents, not Barack Obama, sort-of-black poster boy, who was a real friend to that imperiled continent.