The Bookworm Beat 6-24-15 — the “midnight ramblings” edition

Woman-writing-300x265I should be heading for bed, as it’s after midnight, but I’m so thrilled to have a moment to myself that I can’t resist a little blogging. I’m feeling especially smug (and tired) tonight because my heroic 1:30 a.m. efforts yesterday were the difference between success and ignominious failure on a big motion. Damn it all! I deserve some time to write.

Anything you can be I can be better….

My favorite military humorist, Lee Ho Fuk has taken the Rachel Dolezal mantra — “anything you can be I can be better” — to a whole new level:

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Obama’s remarkable consistency when it comes to “respect”

obama gives us the finger_thumb[41]I’m sure someone’s said it before, but Obama is remarkably consistent in his approach to everything.  For example, he believes that people who have been subject to systemic disrespect become violent or criminal.  If you show them the respect they need, they will stop behaving in that way.  He therefore believes that his job as America’s leader is to correct systemic disrespect which will, in turn, cause them to give up their bad behaviors and embrace good ones.

I believe in respect too.  My feeling is that you respect people by demanding of them the same good behavior you demand of yourselves.  That’s not the Obama way, though.  Just a few examples should suffice:

I believe that African-Americans are not doing well because Democrat policies infantilize them and encourage them to be helpless victims rather than people in control of their own destinies.  I believe that the best thing we can do for African-Americans is to offer them a free market, equal opportunities under the law, and the right, finally, to be free from government meddling, whether that meddling is badly or well intentioned.

Obama, however, believes that all problems in the African-American community — from poverty, to single motherhood, to crime — come about because America’s predominantly white society has failed to respect blacks.  He further believes that the way to confer respect on them and encourage future good behavior is perpetual welfare and insulation from the consequences of their own actions.  That hasn’t worked out well.  Black unemployment and crime rates (especially racially-associated crime rates) are up.

I believe that Hispanic illegal immigrants are law-breakers, cheat people who are playing by the rules, destroy the legal American working and middle class, and allow tyrannies to continue in their native lands by siphoning off the working population and sending back cash.  I believe that America, a nation of immigrants, should continue to encourage people to come here from foreign lands — but we should do so on our terms, not theirs, in order to protect our borders, our sovereignty, our public health, our crime rates, and our economy, and so as to disempower those Latin American nations that profit by sending us their labor and taking back our cash (cash that could have been in legal American hands).

Obama believes that illegal immigrants are being denied the respect.  It is this disrespect that makes them “live in the shadows.”  Obama further believes that the way to confer respect on illegal Hispanic immigrants, thereby bringing them out of the shadows, is blanket amnesty (which automatically erases that shadowy “law-breaker” status), followed by welfare. With this level of respect conferred on the illegal immigrants already here, he hints to Americans that the flow of illegal immigrants crossing our borders to demand our respect will stop.  It’s worth pointing out that the more “respect” Obama shows illegal immigrants who are already here, the more of them keep flowing across our borders.

And of course, I believe that the Iranian Republic is a fanatic, tyrannical Islamic theocracy that has, since its inception, dedicated itself to the complete destruction of Israel, the Islamic takeover of America, and control over the Muslim Middle East.   To this end, it has spent the past 36 years fomenting Islamic terror and revolution the world over.

Obama, however, sees a nation disrespected and misunderstood.  He believes that the root cause of its violent, genocidal, world domination attitude is that it has been subject to this emotionally hurtful lack of respect and understanding.  The same craving for respect has powered its nuclear ambitions.  Obama’s answer to Iran’s bad behavior is to treat the root cause:  Give Iran respect.  And of course, in Obama-land the way to give respect to a fanatic, genocidal, terrorist nation is to give it unfettered access to nuclear weapons.  Obama is remarkably clear in his believe that, once it achieves its nuclear ambitions, the sense of respect this will confer on Iran will cause it instantly to lay down the same nuclear weapons it just perfected.

Obama is quite obviously an ideological fool, who is blinded to the realities of human nature, most specifically how humans react to power, incentives, and punishments.  Don’t confuse that for stupidity, though, his handling of Israel has been masterful since the very first day of his presidency.  He has moved Israel into increasingly smaller boxes to the point at which Israel is now locked tightly into a box with a very large target painted on it.  I’m with the Commentary editors in that I see no good outcome here.

Oh, and one more thing:  Obama clearly grew up feeling that he, a mixed-race American child in Indonesia’s anti-American streets and Hawaii’s ultra exclusive enclaves, didn’t get the respect he deserved.  The way he responds to this root cause problem remarkably parallels his take on Iran’s response to a lack of respect:  He punishes his enemies and has no problem with the possibility of their annihilation.  Indeed, as I mentioned vis-a-vis Israel, he seems to share with Iran those same genocidal urges that seem to be the last resort of those feeling disrespected.

In other words, when it comes to  his own enemiestrying to change their bad behavior by showing them respect is a concept that goes right out the window.

Trying to persuade liberal Jews that guns can save their children’s lives

Gun control debate settled in 1791I tell myself that it’s a sign of my native smarts that I had the intellectual flexibility to abandon the Leftist ideologies that controlled the first 2/3 of my life to date and to embrace entirely new ideas. In other words, I’m not a weak-minded weather vane; I’m a THINKER.

The reason I mention this is that nowhere has my thinking changed more profoundly than when it comes to guns. After all, despite my Democrat party affiliation I was always patriotic, always supported the Constitution, always supported Israel, thought badly of Communism etc.

The one area in which I’ve made a complete 180 is guns. Before my becoming a born again Second Amendment supporter, I never thought about (1) the values the Founders were advancing, (2) the nature of individual liberty, or (3) the fact that the biggest killer of individuals, always — in any time, at any place, under any circumstances — is government.  Instead, I simplistically, naively argued that guns are bad because they kill people. To my regret, I put my money where my mouth is, donating to the Brady organization and other anti-gun groups.

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An amazing Holocaust story plus thoughts about the Big Bang and the human soul

Allies during WWII Hitler and the Grand MuftiHitler loved Islam.*  If you didn’t know that he loved Islam, you might think that Hitler, with his race-based obsessions, would have been hostile to a religion primarily centered on a Semitic people.  To Hitler, though, Islam was a manly religion that shared his goals:  the eradication of the Jews coupled with world domination.  That abiding respect for Islam as practiced by the world’s Muslims, led him to ally  himself closely with Muslims whenever possible:

As David Motadel writes in “Islam and Nazi Germany’s War,” Muslims fought on both sides in World War II. But only Nazis and Islamists had a political-spiritual romance. Both groups hated Jews, Bolsheviks and liberal democracy. Both sought what Michel Foucault, praising the Iranian Revolution in 1979, would later call the spiritual-political “transfiguration of the world” by “combat.”

 

[snip]

By late 1941, Germany controlled large Muslim populations in southeastern Europe and North Africa. Nazi policy extended the grand schemes of imperial Germany toward madly modern ends. To aid the “liberation struggle of Islam,” the propaganda ministry told journalists to praise “the Islamic world as a cultural factor,” avoid criticism of Islam, and substitute “anti-Jewish” for “anti-Semitic.” In April 1942, Hitler became the first European leader to declare that Islam was “incapable of terrorism.” As usual, it is hard to tell if the Führer set the tone or merely amplified his people’s obsessions.

The above historical fact is important to know because it explains one of the most amazing Holocaust survival stories I’ve ever heard.  My learning the story came about in a peculiar way, too.  I was speaking with a friend about our memories.  His is and always has been excellent, but is failing ever so slightly with age.  Mine has always been idiosyncratic, in that I can remember anything that interests me, but have almost no success with brute force, rote memorization (explaining why I’ve never been able to master a language in a classroom).  This conversation about memory reminded my friend of the story behind his Jewish relatives’ survival in wartime Paris.

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The Bookworm Beat 12/15/14 — The truth and only the truth edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingI finally got my Christmas cards out, which is always such a Herculean task. It shouldn’t be, since I do the whole thing online. Moreover, I actually like sending out cards. The reason I delay is because I always hope that I’ll find that perfect picture of the children. At a certain point, though, I realize it’s not going to happen, and I just go with what I’ve got.

And speaking of what I’ve got, I’ve got links!!

The lying-est administration ever

I’ve been harping on Obama’s pathological lies since he was on the campaign trail in 2007 and 2008. Since institutions tend to rot from the top down, it shouldn’t be a surprise, therefore, that the entire administration is riddled with lies. Indeed, the entire Democrat party is, thanks in part to a great head start with the Clinton administration. While this rank, pervasive dishonesty is nothing new, I particularly like how Daniel Greenfield puts it:

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The moral lessons that Jonathan Gruber could have learned from a brain-damaged man

Jonathan Gruber Health Care Obamacare for DummiesTrey Gowdy conduct a masterful examination of MIT Prof. Jonathan “Stupid Americans” Gruber.  What made it so good was that he had Gruber repeatedly offer the canned defense that he (Gruber) was arrogant, stupid, and ill-informed.  That defense might have flown once but, when a formerly boastful MIT professor said it over and over again, it quickly appeared insincere:

The incredible sweet spot in this examination comes right after Gruber robotically repeats again that he isn’t a politician, and he was just trying to make himself look smarter. Gowdy, in that slow, Southern drawl (the kind that makes Northeastern leftists mistakenly assume that Southerners are stupid), then says, “And again your defense is that you’re not a politician. The lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. Well, what is a non-politician doing talking about political advantages?”

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Wonderful, beautiful, inspiring images of Jews as survivors, not victims *UPDATED*

It’s very natural, given what happened to the Jews at Nazi (and Communist and Muslim) hands in just the last 75 years to think of them as victims.  But they’re not.  They’re survivors, and fighters, and people who have created one of the most stable, dynamic, free, creative, prosperous nations in the world.  PopChassid has assembled 20 amazing photographs showing the fierce will to live — before, during, and after WWII — that burns in Jews.

Let me throw in a few wonderful photos to add to that narrative.  

As early as 1930, Tel Aviv was a beautiful, cosmopolitan city:

Ben Jehuda Road 1930

Vibrant young settlers on a kibbutz, late 1930s/early 1940s:

Kibbutzniks 1930s

Exhausted, but still jubilant Israeli soldiers at the Western Wall in 1967, after having liberated it from Arab control (which denied Jews all access to Jerusalem’s Holy Sites):

Israeli-Soldiers-Wall-1967

In a Middle Eastern region distinguished by frequently sadistic, and always demoralizing, misogyny, this is a picture of some candidates in the Israeli Defense Force’s Officer Course for Infantry Command:

Flickr_-_Israel_Defense_Forces_-_Officer_Course_for_Infantry_Command

Of course, there’s nothing new about that. The Haganah already had women in the armed forces in 1948:

ARAB ISRAELI WAR 1948 WOMEN ARMY
In a Middle Eastern region in which gays are routinely tortured, sodomized, whipped, and hanged, Israel has a dynamic gay community, which celebrates with an annual pride parade. Gay Muslims from all over the Middle East try to sneak into Israel to live without fear:

GAY-PRIDE-PARADE-TEL-AVIV

If you have images you like, let me know. I’m not a terribly visual person (words are my thing), so I don’t always know where or how to look for the best images.

UPDATES FROM SADIE:  Enjoying folk dances every Saturday at Haifa Beach:

Dancing at Haifa Beach

The Haifa International Flower Show in 2012:

Haifa International Flower Show 2012

Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem:

Mahane Yehuda Market Jerusalem 5

Mahane Yehuda Market Jerusalem 4

Mahane Yehuda Market Jerusalem 3

Mahane Yehuda Market Jerusalem 2

Mahane Yehuda Market Jerusalem 1

Yom Hashoah — Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is Erev Yom Hashoah, the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day.  In Israel, it is a poignant moment honored by every citizen (or at least, every Jewish citizen).  In the rest of the world, it is a moment to be forgotten, ignored, or denied.

Back in the 1930s, no one could believe that the Germans, considered the most civilized and advanced of all Europeans, could become so bestial.

The tragedy today is that, when we look at the Islamists, we’ve already seen how bestial they are, and still nobody believes their oft repeated goal of reinstating the Holocaust.

Yom Hashoah 2

Yom Hashoah 1

Yom Hashoah 3

Yom Hashoah 4

Long ago, Tacitus said “Proprium humani ingenii est odisse quem laeseris. (It is a principle of human nature to hate those whom you have injured.)” Or as people have more recently noted, the Europeans will never forgive the Jews for Auschwitz.

UPDATED: Thanks to Sadie for reminding me that I wanted to include a video showing just how strongly Israelis feel about Yom Hashoah’s two minutes of silence. Can you imagine Americans coming to a halt this way?

Dachau: The bitter fruit of a terrible evil, in full color

Color is an interesting thing.  I long ago realized that the 1920s and 1930s seem further away for me, visually, than the pre-modern era.  The difference is color.  When I think of the Middle Ages or the Renaissance or the Enlightenment, even though the images are frozen, they still are in living color.  Color gives them a vitality that makes them immediate:

Jan van Eyck Virgin and Child

Looking at that lovely Jan van Eyck, don’t you feel as if you could touch the Baby Jesus’s blonde hair or stroke his pink skin, or that you could bury your hands in Mary’s cloak and feel the warm fabric across your fingers?  They may be still, but they’re real.  Van Eyck stopped the moment for you, but you know that, when you’re not looking, their chests will rise and fall, and that the baby will turn towards Mary, and she will wrap her warm, loving arms around him.  Color matters.

Conversely, look at this photograph from the 20s:

1920s flappers
It’s not just the clothes that separate us from those dashing ladies.  It’s also that they’re the wrong color.  They’re not the color of living flesh.  Instead, they’re the colors of death and the grave.  Although the highlights and shades are there to give us dimensionality, they still look peculiarly flattened and unreal.  Their frozen quality will continue long after we turn our eyes away from them.

So it is with too many images of WWII.  Although it took place during the lifetime of many people who are still living, those of us who came of age after the war have a hard time seeing it as more than chilling historic pictures.  We have to keep reminding ourselves that these were real people who fought, and killed, and suffered, and died.  Many of us probably think “That can’t happen here.”  We think this not only because we foolishly believe that our Constitution, without further effort on our parts, is strong enough to protect us from tyranny, but also because a part of our brain says, “Did that really happen anywhere?”  Of course, we know that it happened at a specific place (Europe) and over a specific period of time (1933-1945), but those colorless images distance us from the humanity of the people involved.

Which is why you should watch this short color video showing the liberation of Dachau:

The dead are real people; the Germans dragged into the camp to see what their statist ideology had wrought are real people; the surviving prisoners, with such faint hope in their eyes, are real people.  It’s a terribly disturbing video because it drags us out of our 21st century American complacency and forces us to acknowledge that real people committed unbelievable heinous acts against other living, breathing, full-color human beings.

The New York Times’ dirty history regarding the Holocaust

She’s a high school senior, but damn! if she doesn’t give a stunningly good talk about the way in which the New York Times, despite knowing about the Holocaust, not only downplayed it, but effectively kept American policy away from helping Europe’s besieged Jewish population:

There is no anti-Semite worse than a Jew.  (See als0 Liberty Spirit’s J’Accuse!)

Hat tip:  Richard Baehr

Schools and parents who teach children to become chum for bullies

School-bully-001
One of my pet peeves is bullying.  I’m not talking about bullying amongst students, although I certainly don’t like that.  I’m talking about the bullying from school districts and Progressive parents who work overtime to ensure that children are brainwashed into fearing self-defense so much that they would rather be led as lambs to the slaughter than stand up for themselves.  The schools are dividing students into two classes:  the bullies and their institutionally created helpless victims.

I’m fulminating about this because of a story I found in the San Jose Mercury News.  There really was bullying going on — students attacked a 15-year-old classmate — but what makes me crazy is the fact that the mother ordered her child to take a beating, while the child celebrated the fact that it was better to get beaten up than to have problems with the school administrators (emphasis mine):

Ann Benediktsson, a 15-year-old Dougherty Valley High School student, was walking home on Thursday when a classmate approached her to say she would soon face a peer in a fight.

Ann’s mother, on the phone with her at the time, told her two things: Run home, and if a fight happens, do not fight back.

“It was the hardest thing I have ever had to say in my life,” Kate Benediktsson recalled. “I felt useless.”

[snip]

Minutes after speaking to her mother, Ann ran into her peer in a park along with over two dozen other students, waiting to witness the event. While Ann attempted to keep her attacker from pulling her hair and socking her jaw, the bystanders pulled out their phones and filmed. In a video Benediktsson obtained of the fight that she later posted to YouTube, students can be heard egging on the fight, sometimes cheering when Ann’s attacker made contact.

Ann never threw a punch.

“I am proud of how I handled it,” Ann said. “I’m glad I didn’t hit back because the principal and teachers would have just said it was a spat between teenagers.”

I cannot believe that a mother told her child to be a punching bag for bullies.  Moreover, I cannot believe that a mother told this to her girl child. One of the primary lessons women learn in every self-defense class is this:  if you fight back against someone who is assaulting you, you are likely to suffer physical injuries, but you are also much less likely than the passive victim to be raped or killed.

In the African savannah, when lions stalk wildebeests or gazelles, the lions do not like to have to work hard for their meal.  They want the lame and the weak stragglers, not the vigorous animals that put up a fight.  Human predators are the same.  A women who walks with an upright, energetic step, and who is aware of her surroundings, simply isn’t as appealing as the gal shuffling along with her head down.  And if that shuffling gal, when attacked, suddenly finds some gumption and fights back, the predator will often back off in any event and look for an easier victim.  (For more on the psychology of self-defense, I highly recommend Gavin de Becker’s The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence.)

The mother in the above news story essentially taught her daughter to be shark chum.  Moreover, while the mother ordered the “principled” stand, it was her daughter who ended up taking a beating.  The daughter was certainly an obedient child, but I do rather wonder if the mother would have stood there that passively if it was she, rather than her child, being attacked.

I wasn’t the only one thinking it’s a bad article that celebrates the next generation of victims.  Although the article garnered only eight comments, one of them was right on the mark as far as I was concerned:

ghosthunter007

sorry but I rather take a suspension and stand my ground than to be hit upon, that is the problem with parents these days oh don’t fight back, I taught my son how to defend himself and in doing so he is respected because those who tried to fight him lost. I hate bullies. Everyone should know how to defend themselves.

Ever since my kids hit school, I’ve given them a single message:  Never be the one to start a fight but, if someone else starts the fight, you make sure to end it.  And don’t worry about the school’s subsequent response.  If you had to use physical force to defend yourself, and if the school attempts to punish you, I will take the school on if I have to go all the way to the Supreme Court.  I’ve never had to make good on this promise, since no one has ever physically attacked my kids.  I suspect that, with my instruction ringing in their ears, they don’t walk around like shark bait.

By the way, I always back up this instruction to my kids by telling them that, had Jews not been conditioned by centuries of oppression to avoid arms, put their heads down, and try to appease authorities, its likely that the Holocaust wouldn’t have happened.  Please understand that I’m not blaming those victims.  First, no one could ever have imagined what the Germans intended to do.  Second, the Jews’ behavior wasn’t a conscious decision.  It was the result of a thousand years of conditioning.  Israel, thankfully, while not blaming the victims, nevertheless learned the lesson.  Like my children, Israel won’t start a fight, but she will finish it.

Incidentally, reading this news report about a school district’s institutional hostility to self-defense effectively bullying a child into victimhood, a behavior the child’s mother reinforced, reminded me of a post that America’s Sgt. Major wrote a couple of years ago at Castra Praetoria, explaining how to deal with bullies.  I highly recommend it, because it’s both enjoyable and instructive.

Shana Tova to everyone!

Tonight marks the first night of Rosh Hashanna, the Jewish New Year.  More specifically, tonight is the 5,774th year that Jews have honored this particular holiday.  It is, so far as I know, the oldest continuously operating calendar in the world.

Tonight also marks a Jewish New Year that sees the world balancing delicately on a thin red line, one that Obama drew a year ago, and that he today denied.  To those who point out his unequivocal words, he says “Pish tosh.  Truth is now, as it has ever been, defined by my needs at any given minute.”  It’s nice to own your own reality.

Because the red line at issue is in the Middle East, Israel and her Jewish subjects are always the Arabs’ first target, never mind their own ills and failures.  As has happened many times in the past, some Jews, both in Israel and the diaspora, wonder if there will be a “next year, in Jerusalem.”

But while this New Year happens to fall during a worrisome time, Rosh Hashanna is be definition a time of hope and renewal.  Yad Vashem reminds us of this with its collection of New Year’s cards from the years immediately before, during, and after the Holocaust.

I was particular struck by the cards the Jews created in 1940 in the Lodz ghetto (renamed Litzmannstadt after a German general).  Despite the ever-tightening noose the Nazis were putting around Poland’s population, the residents still took time to observe this essential moment in the annual calendar:

New Years card from Lodz Ghetto

I doubt many, if any, of the people in that picture taken in better times survived the war:

On September 8, 1939, the Germans occupied Lodz and renamed the city Litzmannstadt (after the German general Karl Litzmann, who had conquered it in World War I). Lodz was home to 223,000 Jews on the eve of World War II. At the war’s end, no more than 7,000 Jews from the Lodz Ghetto had survived the camps.

Seven thousand survivors out of 223,000 once vital, living people may sound like a depressing start to the New Year, but I have a point.  From those 7,000, as from all the other pockets of survivors across Europe and, from the Arab pogroms, across the Middle East, came one of the world’s most spectacular countries.

Israel is spectacular by every metric:  It is a thriving, pluralist, inclusive, liberal democracy that emerges like a glittering stone from a surrounding swamp of tyrannical medievalism.  It grants equal rights to all citizens, has one of the highest literacy rates in the world, has an armed force that is the wonder of the world (thanks, of course, to decades of American support), and contributes to scientific, technological, and agricultural advancements at a rate far in excess of its small size.  If you visit it, you find a dynamic, fun-loving people who are fiercely devoted to LIFE.  Unlike its surrounding neighbors, Israel is not a death cult; it’s a life force.

Many have tried, but none, ever, whether Babylonians, or Romans, or Germans, or Muslims, have succeeded in snuffing out completely this light unto the world.  And when this light in the world survives, we are all, every one of us, made better and brighter because of it.

So every year is a Happy New Year because Jews have survived for 5,773 years and will undoubtedly bring their ferocious will to live and to contribute to the world’s well-being for another 5,773 years.

Shana Tova, my friends!