The Bookworm Beat 3-5-15 — “I’m still standing” edition and open thread

Woman writingLast year I had virtually no work; this year, if the pace keeps up, I’ll be working almost full time. Frankly, I preferred no work.

Fortunately — and the lawyers amongst you will appreciate this — I’m getting access to Westlaw again, and won’t be trapped in Lexis hell. When it comes to Westlaw, it’s a brilliant interface and I feel like a brilliant practitioner when I use it.

I’m not going to stop blogging, though, just because of a little legal work.  I’ve been collecting interesting information, and now I get to share it with you:

Obama’s misguided (or evil) efforts to spin his Middle Eastern failures as successes

I’ve been trying to have a more optimistic view of things in my life lately, along the lines of “when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.” Traffic tickets are an opportunity to be a better driver. Joint problems are a reminder to repair my body before old-age makes doing so impossible. Things like that — seeing problems as opportunities for improvement.

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The Bookworm Beat 2-23-15 — Post-Vegas edition and Open Thread

Woman writingI do like Vegas. I love its manic energy, crazed corporate imagination, over-the-top shows, brilliant colors, and flashing lights. And then, after three days, I’m desperate to get away from the noise and smoke and, often, the desperation floating above the casino floors. In other words, I had a great trip there and then was glad to come home again. This time, coming home also meant going through about 800 backed-up emails (a lot of people got heartfelt apologies from me for delaying so long before responding to them), and finding some awesome things to share with you.

A glowing French eye-view of American troops

When we think of the French, we tend to think of hyper-critical people who look down upon Americans. That stereotype might be true on the Île-de-France, but it turns out to be untrue in the theater of war, at least as to one French soldier who served with American troops (Echo Company) in Afghanistan. If this doesn’t make you want to stand up and salute, I truly don’t know what will:

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When the fanatics take control….

Muslims against ISISI received the following email, thought it was interesting, and want to pass it on:

A man, whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War II, owned a number of large industries and estates. When asked how many German people were true Nazis, the answer he gave can guide our attitude toward fanaticism.

“Very few people were true Nazis,” he said, “but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.”

We are told again and again by “experts” and “talking heads” that Islam is the religion of peace and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unqualified assertion is surely true, it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the spectre of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam.

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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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Random stuff including Jews, the American Media, Obama, and Israel

Chicken without a headCrazy busy day today. I finished an article that will, I hope, be published in tomorrow’s American Thinker, did tons of homemaker stuff for the family, and worked on legal issues for my clients. I would have liked to blog, but that wasn’t going to happen, even with the best will in the world. I do, however, have a few quick, random things I want to send your way.

Best statement I’ve seen about the media and Islam

A friend of mine — Catholic, conservative, and wonderful — has been following events at home and in the Middle East very closely. He put up a Facebook post about the Synagogue shooting in Denmark, and one of his well-meaning (foolish, but not ideologically driven) friends tried to make that story fit in the same box as those three poor Muslims whom a militant atheist shot in North Carolina following a long-running fight over a parking space. My friend’s response is superb (emphasis mine):

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The difference between the Muslim conquests and the Crusades, in a single picture

You and I know that, had Obama seen this picture before the Prayer Breakfast, he wouldn’t have changed his speech by a single syllable. Facts are irrelevant. They must always bow before dogma. But to those of us who like facts, this picture is amazing:

Muslim conquest v Crusade battles

The above, of course, perfectly represents the Bernard Lewis quotation that’s getting so much air time lately:

I would not wish to defend the behavior of the Crusaders, which was in many respects atrocious. But let us have a little sense of proportion. We are now expected to believe that the Crusades were an unwarranted act of aggression against a peaceful Muslim world. Hardly. The first papal call for a crusade occurred in 846 C.E., when an Arab expedition from Sicily sailed up the Tiber and sacked St. Peter’s in Rome. A synod in France issued an appeal to Christian sovereigns to rally against “the enemies of Christ,” and the pope, Leo IV, offered a heavenly reward to those who died fighting the Muslims. A century and a half and many battles later, in 1096, the Crusaders actually arrived in the Middle East. The Crusades were a late, limited, and unsuccessful imitation of the jihad—an attempt to recover by holy war what had been lost by holy war. It failed, and it was not followed up.

Hat tip: A friend who directed me to Dinesh D’Souza’s Facebook page

Berkeley Leftist cannot understand why Islam has a terrorist problem — but thinks it’s probably our fault

Behead those who insult IslamIslam has been in the headlines lately and (reasons incomprehensible to the Left) whenever Islam is in the news, it’s associated with violence — bombs, beheadings, shootings, stabbings, church and people burnings, mass slaughters, mass rapes, tossing people off buildings, child soldiers, hangings, honor killings, etc. The Leftists are left scratching their heads:  What is it about Islam that leads to this bad press?

M. Steven Fish, a UC Berkeley political scientist, takes a stab at figuring out this vexing problem. Herewith, a little fisking (hint: it’s all Christians’ fault).

To give him credit, Fish begins by noting that (a) Muslims account for the bulk of the world’s terrorism and have done so for more than 20 years. He has also figured out that, while we like to say that most Muslims aren’t terrorists, the fact is that their “anti-terrorist” credentials are invisible. Those who don’t bomb still aren’t out there protesting the bombings. Having started off so well, though, Fish lapses into stupid:

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[VIDEO] The reinstatement of blasphemy laws in the West

I’ve noticed how proud Leftists are of their “Je Suis Charlie” cries.  I’ve also noticed that, while all of them like to show tearful and/or bloody pens and pencils, none are showing pictures of Mohamed.  Not nasty pictures, but any pictures — like this one:

17th century French picture of Mohamed

You see, these so-called liberals don’t really believe in free speech. They only believe in “free” speech that (a) supports everything any given Progressive believes at any given moment and (b) supports everyone who hates America, Christianity, Jews, Israel, and Western values.

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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 1/21/15 — “Post-SOTU” edition and Open Thread

Woman writingI didn’t watch the SOTU. Aside from finding Obama a boring, inelegant speaker, I was helping a client with trial prep. Today, the trial got continued for a few months so, before settling in for a nice 12 hour sleep (I wish!), I can blog — and share with you, among other things, a couple of my favorite SOTU analyses. I’ve got a lot to say, so I’ll just start saying….

My two favorite SOTU wrap-ups

As I admitted above, I did not watch the SOTU, so I can’t actually say if these wrap-ups are accurate. I can just say that I liked them.

From Neo-Neocon:

But Obama long ago concluded that the best defense is a good offense. He has never had to face the consequences of his failures. He has been able to fool most of the people most of the time, at least when it counted. He has skated past disaster after disaster, and gotten away with lie after lie. The biggest repercussion he’s been met with—the 2014 Democratic defeat in Congress—may not stop him. Republicans are somewhat toothless, in part because they are divided among themselves but also because Obama has veto power that will be difficult to override. He’s also got that phone and that pen, and the will to use them. He has successfully transformed the US into a second-rate power and allies into enemies (or at least, into abandoned and confused ex-allies). And he has turned enemies into, if not allies, then gloating and stronger forces in the world for whatever evil they’ve got in mind.

It’s actually worked out very well for Obama. So why not brag?

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“American Sniper” — a Rorschach test separating the wheat from the chaff

308555id1i_TheJudge_FinalRated_27x40_1Sheet.inddI haven’t yet seen the movie American Sniper, but I have read Chris Kyle’s autobiography, on which it is based. I therefore believe that I am qualified to write on the topic.

Although, come to think of it, I’m not really going to write about American Sniper at all. Instead, I’m going to write about some of the reactions to American Sniper, which function as a Rorschach test of American (and, dare I say, un-American?) values.

I have to begin with the fundamental premise, one that drives the Left nuts, which is that Clint Eastwood, with help from a superb Bradley Cooper, has directed an incredibly good movie, one that doesn’t shy away from war’s ugliness, but that acknowledges, not just the physical bravery of our men, but also their moral decency.  As I try endlessly to explain to anybody who can listen, both good guys and bad guys kill. After all, no one will deny that a woman has acted bravely and honorably if she shoots to death the man trying to kill her child. Likewise, only sadistic psychopaths will applaud the broken bodies of Christians, Jews, women, children, gays, blacks, and the “wrong” kind of Muslims that ISIS, Boko Haram, al Qaeda, and other Islamic Jihad organizations leave in their wake.

Let me fall back here on my already wordy poster, one that’s targeted at the buffoonish Seth Rogen, but that addresses the larger issue, which is that why one kills matters as much as the fact that one does kill:

Seth Rogen and history 1

(I also won’t waste time in this post correcting the innumerable personal slurs the Left is now hurling at Chris Kyle, most of which are based upon a failure either to see the movie or read the book. Ian Tuttle, thankfully, takes care of setting that record straight.)

Mentioning Seth Rogen, though, leads me nicely back to the point I want to make in this post, which is an observation I first made to my friends on the Watcher’s Council: namely, that American Sniper has been remarkably effective at flushing weasels out from under cover, proving that good art frequently has multiple virtues.  For example, one of my neighbors, a nice, but rather brittle, angry woman, whose life has not treated her with the generosity she was raised to expect, posted the following image on Facebook:

Stupid Leftists don't understand heroes

Doesn’t that ugly, mean-spirited poster sum up just about everything that’s wrong with the Leftist view of the world? The wrongness of it all begins with the terrible slur against Kyle and all the other American troops who have fought against the same type of men who are now crucifying, raping, beheading, and generally rampaging their way across the Middle East, with occasional detours into Europe.  I know those men.  My Dad was one.

Really, there’s no sugar-coating it.  For five years of his life, my Dad was a hate-filled killer.  He poured  his energy, brains, skill, and courage into slaughtering as many people as he possibly could.  If he could have killed more, he would have.

In case you’re wondering, Daddy wasn’t Dexter or Charles Manson or Stalin.  Instead, he was an ordinary foot soldier in WWII, fighting with the RAF and ANZAC in the Mediterranean theater.

During all those years of fighting, mostly in North Africa with detours into Greece and Crete, Daddy wasn’t glorying in slaughter for the thrill of it.  He didn’t kill to slake blood lust or because he was a racist.  In fact, quite the opposite.  He was killing because he understood the stakes, which was to stop the spread of genocidal racism:  If he didn’t do his bit to halt the Nazis in North Africa, those same Nazis would descend on Palestine, and with the help of the enthusiastic ancestors of today’s ISIS, have slaughtered where they stood every Jewish man, woman, and child in the British Mandate of Palestine.

Chris Kyle and his comrades, as Kyle made clear in his book, didn’t kill Iraqis because they took a sadistic glee in a human turkey shoot.  They killed specific Iraqis who were bound and determined to kill the Americans (which is ground enough to want to kill the Iraqis first) and, moreover, who were equally bound and determined to put into place precisely the ideological governance we now see in the Middle East with ISIS and in Nigeria with Boko Haram.

Ultimately, Kyle and his comrades were killing humans fatally infected with a deadly ideological disease.  These men understood (and, wherever they still fight, understand) that people infected with genocidal, imperialist, tyrannical values need to be exterminated just as surely as we kill a rabid dog or, 70 years ago, as we killed rabid Nazis.  Unfortunately, the reality of war is that, when we kill the guilty, we sometimes kill the innocent.  My Dad knew that, amongst the Nazis he was fighting were ordinary Germans who were forced by circumstances to fight for those same rabid Nazis.

Knowing that didn’t stop Daddy, or any of the other Allied troops.  They understood that this is how the world works.  (For more of my thoughts on that specific topic, you can check out my annual Passover post.)  As Daddy once said, you cannot fight a war if you don’t hate your enemy — by which he meant if you don’t hate the values your enemy seeks to advance.

So, clearly, one level of Leftist stupidity is its members’ complete inability to understand that soldiers can hate the ideology without doing the Leftist thing and turning everything into some agonized Greek tragedy about racism, sexism, homophobia, and third world victimization.  Smart people are able to winnow out good from bad, and they know in which directions to aim their guns.

But there’s a second level of stupidity at work in that ugly, mean-spirited poster, and that’s the stupidity that is unable to comprehend that, without the sheepdogs, the sheep aren’t able to go around sweetly and smugly ministering to the less fortunate among them.  Please believe me that I don’t intend to be snide about charity.  I think charity is a wonderful thing, provided that it’s not forced upon people through government coercion.  It’s one thing for me, while exercising my values, to donate my time, money, and labor to aid those less fortunate than I.  It’s another thing entirely when the government, with a gun aimed at my head, announces that I’ve volunteered to donate 50% of my annual income to help those that the government deems should be recipients of government beneficence.

Putting aside my irritation at a government that denies me the opportunity to redistribute my own wealth, let me get to the real issue and the real stupidity behind that poster:  There is no charity when there is no civil society.  Charity works when society is sufficiently stable, free, and predictable that people can actually earn and keep money — and then give it away if they want to.  A strong, infrastructure underlying a free, market-based society creates both extra time and extra wealth, not to mention a capacity for empathy that is utterly lacking when people are suffering under either complete anarchy or sadistic, malevolent totalitarian rule.

You, my dear, smug Leftists, are able to boast in self-aggrandizing tones about your ability to shake down hard-working citizens only because men like Chris Kyle are willing to do the dirty work of keeping both tyrants and anarchy at bay.  You’re like the person who dines in style on the steak, but sneeringly describes as a hillbilly the rancher who raised that cow and as a murderer the butcher who got that lovely filet mignon to your table.

Great art not only opens our minds, but it enable us to see with clarity those minds that cannot and will not open.  People who value freedom understand that there’s a price to pay for freedom’s blessings and we are appropriately and eternally grateful to those who are willing to do the dirty work that goes with paying that price.

Radical, jihadist, fundamentalist Islam (or whatever other nouns and adjectives you wish to apply to the 10% of the world’s Muslims who seek only to destroy) must be destroyed, lest we are all destroyed.  My problem is that I’m a tiny middle-aged Jewish woman, who is a great target, but a lousy fighter.  I live because Chris Kyle, and the SEALS, and the Marines, and the Navy, and the Army, and the Air Force put themselves in front of me, as a living barrier protecting me from the abyss.

I pity those people who don’t appreciate the gift they’ve been given, and do nothing more than set themselves up as the socialist twins to those murderous Islamists that the Kyle’s of this world fight.  Because, really, once you strip away those smug words about the personal virtues of government funded charity, you discover that the Left and the Islamists are pretty much the same people.  It’s just that the Islamists have gone further down the path necessary to achieve their ultimate ends:

Radical Islamists and Leftists have identical beliefs