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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We have just a sliver of time within which to preserve our constitutional rights

Man with mouth taped shutMy news feed, lately, seems to be overwhelmed by two primary stories: the Left’s increasingly shrill control over public discourse and ISIS’s depredations in the Middle East. Both stories, believe it or not, have led me to rethink the role, or perhaps “plight,” of ordinary Germans during World War II — and to realize that we are much closer to those ordinary Germans than we would like to believe, both in terms of our behavior and the risks we face.

Growing up, of course, I had nothing but disdain for every reasonably sentient German alive during the years from 1933 through 1945. They were all complicit and therefore they were all evil. I considered myself emotionally generous in that I did not believe that the post-War generation of Germans carried with them the sins of their fathers. (Indeed, I’ve long held that it’s a very dangerous mistake to make people live with a guilt they haven’t earned.) But the actual World War II generation . . . well, they were all guilty, guilty, guilty!

But I’ve learned and seen a few things of late that have made me aware that ordinary citizens in an evil nation, even if they never actively fought against that evil and seemed to enjoy the benefits of cooperation, may nevertheless be victims.

One of the things I’ve learned is that in the 1933 election that brought the Nazis to power they only had 33% of the popular vote. People may bemoan our two-party, winner take all system, but it actually serves as a bulwark against a minority power grab. As it was, once the Nazis controlled the Reichstag, they consolidated power very quickly, at which point votes became irrelevant.

The Germans consolidated power in two ways: The first was the campus Leftist way, which was thought control through speech control.  This took the form of both censorship and those hysterical mass rallies. The second way was the ISIS way, which was brute force.  While the rest of Europe and America, caught up in their own Depressions, turned a blind eye, this brute force was something very public for German citizens:  It consisted of murder, torture, and other forms of both physical and psychological intimidation. Those who tried to stand up for the victims (whether Jews or communists or gays or other targets) were very swiftly brought to realize that their efforts would result in the Nazis destroying them and, perhaps even worse, using the most painful methods to destroy their loved ones.

We all like to think that, if we were living in Germany in the 1930s, we would have stood up to the Nazis. But here’s the truth: most people aren’t that courageous. They want to live their lives free from pain and fear. They want their children to be safe. And if the bad guys come into town and conspicuously arrest, beat, shoot, behead, or throw of buildings a few human examples of people the bad guys dislike, everyone else is going to fall into line. This isn’t because they’re evil, it’s because they lack moral and physical courage — something that, when push comes to bloody shove, most of us lack.

I know that much as I’m aware of right and wrong, and freedom and tyranny, the first time someone puts a knife to my or my children’s throats, I’m going to back down.  I can’t pretend otherwise.  I’d like to be brave, but I doubt that I am.

What this means is that, when the bad guys start to move in, there is an achingly small window of time within which the ordinary people, the ones who just want to live their lives and lack the fortitude to face down raw evil, can speak and act to stop the bad guys in their tracks. Just keep in mind that, percentage-wise, the Bolsheviks, the Nazis, ISIS — every totalitarian group, didn’t traffic in numbers. They trafficked in fear when they had tested the population and the power structure and discovered that, even when the bad guys started their first tentative probes at these societies, things that could easily have been countered, no one would fight back.

With American Leftists on the move, we are getting very close to the last chance for ordinary people — the one who will yield to brutality — to have their say. This is our time to be as brave as we can be. Once a totalitarian group gets the bit in its mouth, it will not hesitate to use force to cow the majority. I understand now that most ordinary Germans were not bad people. They were people who didn’t speak out before 1933 and, because of their ordinary-people limitations, couldn’t speak out after 1933.

What we need to do now is stand up firmly to the Left’s increasingly strident (and scarily successful) efforts at thought and speech control.  When our guns are gone and theirs come out, we’ve lost.

We must ridicule the insane university speech codes; call out Progressives on their refusal to allow people to express dissenting opinions; constantly remind all of the people in our world that ISIS and Boko Haram and all these other fanatic groups are entirely in keeping with Mohamed’s dictates; and, among other things, get people to acknowledge that you, as a non-Muslim, are allowed to draw a picture of Mohamed — although you can make it clear that, as someone who respects religion, you would not gratuitously draw a deliberately offensive picture of Mohamed.

By the way, here’s a nice, and quite respectful, picture of Mohamed:

17th century French picture of Mohamed

(Incidentally, let me just point out that, because we have no images from life of either Jesus or Mohamed, none of the pictures we draw are actually of those two men. Jesus is typically drawn as a 14th century Northern European man, while the picture above demonstrates that, over the centuries, Mohamed was drawn as some sort of Ottoman potentate. We know these men through their words, not their visages. I prefer Jesus’s words.)

Again, let me repeat my message: we are very quickly losing the window of time within which we can push back against a totalitarian movement. The Left’s attacks on Christian bakers is a warning shot over the bow. Obama’s endless efforts to politicize every madman’s act in order to destroy the 2nd Amendment is another shot over the bow. The insanity of speech codes in universities — more preliminary missiles.

We are being silenced, softened up, and threatened. If we ordinary Americans, the ones who have passively valued our constitutional rights, don’t push back now — and all that we need to do push back now is to speak up, politely, firmly, logically, and freely — the Left will bring out its big guns, secure in its minority victory over a cowed American majority.

The Bookworm Beat 5-26-15 — the “mad, mad, mad, mad world” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265No time for chit-chat. I’ve got stuff to share:

America’s values have turned upside down

It’s a time-honored custom for older people to look at changes in the world since their youth and to bemoan those changes. I’d like to think I’m neither that rigid nor that old. There are so many things in the modern world to love, especially when it comes to technology.

What does seem extremely unlovable, though, is that we are living through a time in which moral values aren’t merely being loosened (a la the rising hems of the flappers) but are being turned completely upside down. In one of the best articles I’ve seen in forever at National Review, Quin Hillyer focuses on the sea change in our moral and political values. If you’ve already read it, read it again and share it with your friends; if you haven’t read it, by all means do . . . and then share it with your friends:

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The Bookworm Beat 5-22-15 — the “no more doctors, please!” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265My post title notwithstanding, I am well, I have been well, and I expect that I will continue to be well. It’s just that I’ve spent between five and fifteen hours every week for the last few weeks in doctors’ offices thanks to my mother and my kids, all of whom are well, but who needed a variety of maintenance appointments. I’m all doctored out. Politics, however, still interest me:

Obama’s ego is all that stands between Israel and destruction

Obama sat down for an interview with his go-to Jew, Jeffrey Goldberg. Goldberg worships at the Obama altar, but periodically manages to sound as if he cares about the welfare of Israel and the Jewish people. I used to be fooled. I’m not anymore.

In any event, James Taranto caught Obama in a fascinating narcissistic moment in that interview. First, here’s what Goldberg wrote:\

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Muslims aren’t the only ones engaged in an all-out War against Christianity

Weyden_DepositionReligion is in the news a lot lately. All around the world, in what I’m sure is just a bizarre coincidence, masses of people who just happen to be Muslim (and proudly say so) are busily decapitating people, shooting people, raping people, burning people, and stoning people — all of whom, I’m sure coincidentally, happen to be Christian. In the same way, I’m sure we shouldn’t make anything of the fact that these same Muslim co-religionists have developed a nasty habit of throwing men who are allegedly gay off the tops of buildings and then, should these men survive the fall, stomping them to death. In the Venn diagram of faith and behaviors, are intellectual masters in the media repeatedly warn us that we shouldn’t read too much into the fact that Islam has a near perfect overlap with psycho-sexual murder and sadism.

In yet another bizarre coincidence, America’s Progressives have also engaged in a religious war and they too have targeted Christians. You see, Christians have this freaky idea, rooted in who knows how many totally useless and forgettable tens-of-thousands of years of biology, that men and women somehow complement each other, and that faith and society thrive when they support that complementary quality.

Clearly, this pathetic Christian attempt to tie together science and faith is a bad idea. These Christians should leave the science to Progressives, who understand complicated things like Climate Change — and silly skeptics have to understand that it requires superior mental skills to engage with a scientific principle that has as a defining characteristic the fact that none of the data supports any of the predictions. It takes a real scientist to make sense of this mess and to elevate the predictions over the data. (Shhhh! Don’t tell the Progressives, but that belief system sounds remarkably like . . . faith, and a pretty shoddy faith at that.)

Anyway, the Progressive war against Christians in America thankfully hasn’t yet reached the level of beheadings, rapes, and crucifixions. It seems stuck on a remarkably powerful form of stupid. Normally, stupidity shouldn’t be that powerful, but the Progressives have an arrow in their quiver that doesn’t exist in the massacred Middle East, not to mention large swaths of Africa. The secret weapon here is the Christians themselves, many of whom have obsequiously load pulled the rope to raise the blade in the guillotine in the hope that, when that blade finally falls, their necks aren’t the ones in its path.

I have the perfect exhibit today to illustrate that Christian appeasement principle. It’s a sign on a church in Mill Valley. The picture quality is poor, but I think you get the drift:

Marin Church supports gay marriage

“Jesus had two dads and he turned out just fine!”

You really have to think that through a couple of times in order to appreciate it: In one of the most affluent, educated communities in America, the argument for gay marriage is that “Jesus had two fathers.” Really? This is the best that America’s Leftist theologians can do? They reduce the entire Old Testament to a statement that Jesus is the product of a same sex marriage — and wow! He was the Son of God. Who knows what’s going to happen once gay marriage is legal? Obama had better start worrying about having competition for his messiah status.

But why stop at attacking the church just because it has this old-fashioned idea about the sanctity of the biologically complementary male-female relationship, and its role in the perpetuation of humankind?  In an article that passed under my radar when it first came out in December 2014, Salon’s resident anti-religion writer, Valerie Tarico, explains what really powers Christianity —   rape.

Powerful gods and demi-gods impregnating human women—it’s a common theme in the history of religion, and it’s more than a little rapey.

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Though the earliest Christians had a competing story, in the Gospel of Luke, the Virgin Mary gets pregnant when the spirit of the Lord comes upon her and the power of the Most High overshadows her.

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The impregnation process may be a “ravishing” or seduction or some kind of titillating but nonsexual procreative penetration. The story may come from an Eastern or Western religious tradition, pagan or Christian. But these encounters between beautiful young women and gods have one thing in common. None of them has freely given female consent as a part of the narrative. (Luke’s Mary assents after being not asked but told by a powerful supernatural being what is going to happen to her, “Behold the bond slave of the Lord: be it done to me . . .”)

Although Tarico is careful to prove her intellectual bona fides by talking about all sorts of rapes in Greek, Roman, and Hindu mythology, Salon’s editors provided the appropriate illustration so that readers would fully understand that the article is meant to be an attack on that most rapey of all modern religions — Christianity:

Salon article illustration of Virgin Mary

Salon article illustration of Virgin Mary

(Keep in mind that, even as Salon made sure Americans knew that Christianity is the rapey religion, the real rapes, the ones involving actual violent sexual penetration against children and women, were taking place everywhere that ISIS and Boko Haram and other misbegotten fundamentalist Christians sects were on the move.)

One can’t help wonder whether that Marin church boasting about Jesus’s two dads fully understood that one of them — the divine one — was a wild-eyed rapist, probably indistinguishable from that wild-eyed, and of course totally imaginary, group of rapists at UVa a couple of months ago.

Jews and Christians are in the cross hairs good and proper.  The Muslim war against Jews is reaching peak ferocity in its battle against Israel, which has spilled into virulent anti-Semitism around the world, of the type not seen since the years before WWII.  Meanwhile, the companion Leftist war against Christians seems to be concentrating itself on the gay marriage issue, because the Left obviously feels that it has leverage on this issue.

I’ve quoted myself before on this subject and I’ll quote myself again.  This battle is not about whether, as a matter of civil law, states can decide what type of individuals can join together to get the benefit of various laws encouraging people to pair up.  If that were the case, the agitators would be working to do away with state issued “marriage” licenses and, instead, to have all state-sanctioned partnerships became “civil unions,” leaving marriage solely to the faithful.  I could live with that.

The various states could becoming laboratories, testing which unions best benefit society as a whole and, more specifically, the children raised within these many and varied unions.  (American black’s dire economic plight, combined with their propensity for violence, would seem to indicate that the current approach — 73% of black children are born out of wedlock — is not a good one.)  But that’s not the war the Left is fighting.  Its war is intended to bring down religion in America.

Back in March 2009, long before gay marriage got to the Supreme Court, I wrote:

As you know, one of my main reasons for supporting Proposition 8, which amended the California constitution to define marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman, was because I believe that move to redefine marriage has the potential to put the State and religion organizations — especially the Catholic church — into a head-on collision.

Liberals, when confronted with this notion, will often argue that, while the Catholic Church objects to abortion, that’s never created a constitutional crisis.  What they ignore is the fact that, while the church is not in the business of providing abortions, it is in the business of providing marriages.  It also ignores the fact that abortion is a legal right, not a constitutional one, while gay marriage proponents have been framing it in the opposite way:  they say gay marriage as a constitutional, rather than a mere legal right.

Keep in mind that, for Catholics, marriage isn’t just a white dress, cake and Mendelssohn’s wedding march.  Instead, it’s a sacrament.  A basic tenet of the religion is the joining of man and woman before God.

So imagine this scenario:  Two men go to the local Catholic parish and demand that it marry them.  The priest, sympathetic to their love for each other, nevertheless states that he cannot, at a purely religious level marry them.  The men turn around and sue the Church for violating their Constitutional rights.  Suddenly, the judicial system is called upon to examine doctrinal issues to determine whether they mesh with Constitutional issues.  It’s a scary scenario for anyone who takes seriously the principle that government may not interfere with religious doctrine.

Let me throw in one more recent Leftie poster to drive home the point that this is an all-out war against Christianity, and it’s one that too many so-called Christian churches in America are unable or unwilling to fight. Keep in mind as you look at the poster below that we already know from the IRS’s battle against conservative and pro-Israel groups, that the power to tax is the power to destroy — which is precisely why our Founders and previous American generations understood that the state cannot get its greedy financial talons into America’s churches, synagogues, temples, and, provided that they don’t abuse their First Amendment freedoms by preaching mass murder and treason, her mosques too:

Taxing churches

The Bookworm Beat 4-17-15 — the “green hair day” edition and open thread

Woman writingI went to get my hair done today, which is usually a relaxed and peaceful time.  Today, as usual, my hairdresser and I were talking about our respective children, when he suddenly stopped and said, “Have you been swimming?”

That question sure came out of left field. “No,” I responded. “Why?” The answer was a surprise: “Because all your gray hair is green.”

What?!!!! I hadn’t noticed that because I seldom look at myself that closely in the mirror. No one in my family had noticed it because they seldom look at me at all. But there it was: a bilious shade of green in place of my normal skunk stripe, as well as all the other swathes and patches of gray decorating my hair. I have no idea why this happened, but it did.

Gray hair doesn’t bother me; green hair does. I do not like having green hair. Its presence explains why my face had looked peculiarly flushed lately — the green highlighted the red tones in my usually pale face. Just as green is not a good hair shade for me, parboiled isn’t a good color for my face.

After much debate with his colleagues about the best way to handle this unusual problem, my hairdresser decided to go darker, because a tint would cover the green without turning my hair into over-processed straw. The result is that I have sort of reddish-brown hair that’s too dark for my tastes but that I have been assured will fade rather rapidly while at the same time (everyone hopes) still hiding the green.

The whole thing took way too long, although the haircut, as always, is perfection. This matters, because I have hair that can prove challenging to hair stylists. Finding one who is a really nice person and a superb stylist means putting up with an unexpectedly long time in the chair.

My plan today was to get home around midday, call a client, work on several legal projects, and blog. That didn’t happen. After the endless hair appointment, I had to rendezvous with the kids to take care of all sorts of unexpected “we must do it today” chores. It’s 4:15 and I’ve only just walked in. Still, I have much that I want to share with you, so you’ll get a good Friday evening, instead of a good Friday midday, read.

We can kill our way to victory against Islamists

This is an older Daniel Greenfield post, but one that I think still deserves reading. Greenfield’s point is a simple one, which is that it is possible to defeat an enemy by killing so many of his troops that there is no one left to fight, or no one left who is willing to fight (which probably means the same). Anybody, of course, can state a simple principle. Daniel Greenfield’s gift is that he can expand upon it with facts and analysis in a completely compelling way.

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It’s not about Palestinians; it’s about antisemitism

The Left constantly says that it’s not antisemitic with its endless attacks against Israel. Instead, its rabid spokespeople insist, the Left (whether rejoicing under the name of Progressives, Democrats, Liberals, Labour Party members, Europeans of various stripes, etc) is just keeping a tight focus on the horrible suffering of the Palestinian people — and, of course, it’s Israel that causes that suffering. When Israel frees the Palestinians from the bondage, the protests will stop.

But what happens when others cause the Palestinian people to suffer in ways that go so far beyond Israel’s checkpoints that they are impossible to compare? What happens when there are news stories about mass slaughters and beheadings against the Palestinian people, not by Israel, but by ISIS?

*crickets*

The Left’s attacks against Israel are antisemitism, pure and simple. And if you need a graphic illustration of the double standards at work here, I’ve got one for you:

London protests about Palestinians

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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Getting a Progressive to “yes” on conservative ideas

Flowers in the desert

Planting seeds in the Progressive desert.

I spent some time talking to an incredibly nice, helpful, genuinely kind hard-Leftist who has dreams of a President Bernie Sanders. The wisdom of years has taught me that one makes no headway with someone like this by saying “Are you out of your cotton-pickin’ mind?” I’d barely have finished my first sentence about the inevitable evils of true socialism before she would have raised her defenses and either tuned me out or attacked me — and really, I would have deserved it if I’d been that disrespectful and superficial.

What I tried to do was to work with her to get her to re-think her favored shibboleths while manifestly respecting her very real intelligence. I always hope that these efforts are like dropping wild flower seeds on an apparently barren desert. It seems like a wasted effort until the first rainfall….

I actually think I made a little progress with this Progressive, because I got her to agree with all of these core principles:

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The Bookworm Beat 2-19-15 — A few links for your reading pleasure

Woman writingI’m still away from my blog, so I’m not blogging in real time, but in un-real time. I lined up this post several days ago and, for all I know, world events shifted so dramatically, everything here is entirely obsolete. Still, FWIW, you may enjoy these stories:

Roger L. Simon has been on fire lately. I’ve always liked his writing, but lately I’ve loved his writing. His riff on the murders in Cophenhagen is a fine bit of snark aimed at people at home and abroad who deny Islam’s role in terrorism, not to mention antisemitism’s role in Islam.

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If you read just one article today about ISIS, read Graeme Wood’s “What ISIS Really Wants”

Why is militant Islam Like EbolaI can’t imagine that you’ve traveled anywhere across the conservative internet today without coming across a link to Graeme Wood’s “What ISIS Really Wants.” It’s a long article, but so informative and important that it would be a good thing if everybody took a few minutes out of their day to read it.  Indeed, I’d make everyone in Obama’s administration read it often enough to have it memorized.

A lot of what Wood has to say is familiar to all of us who haven’t been pretending that ISIS is just a JV Team of malcontents taking the name of Allah in vain. Wood destroys any claim that ISIS isn’t Islamic:

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The Bookworm Beat 2-6-15 — the “Fearless Friday” edition and Open Thread

Woman writingObama’s adversarial relationship with Christianity

What did we expect already from yesterday’s Prayer Breakfast? Obama long ago put the world on notice that he’s going full Bulworth (i.e., after six years in office, he intends, finally, to stop lying and speak the truth).

While before Obama just let out peevish little trickles of animosity, anyone paying attention could tell that:

(a) he’s profoundly ignorant about history — not just American history, but any history, including Muslim and Christian history;

(b) he hates Christians and Christianity;

(c) he hates America, no matter that this nation twice elected him as president (with a little help from the IRS, of course); and

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