The Bookworm Beat 3-17-15 — St. Patrick’s Day edition and open thread

St. Patrick's day woman writingToday is showing signs of being every bit as challenging as yesterday was (work ended in the wee hours of the morning), so this will be a round-up marked by brevity. Still, there are things I’ve saved that haven’t become stale, old yesterday’s news and that I very much want to share with you.

America’s Sergeant Major has a new home

One of my favorite milbloggers is America’s Sergeant Major, whom I first met when I discovered his post about Tabata drills. Having done Tabata drills myself, it resonated. I also just loved the sense of humor and sense of responsibility that infuse his writing:

Simply thrashing a group of Marines into the ground is pretty easy and not a method of instruction I prefer. If they are simply getting their doors blown off without learning anything then I figure I’ve passed up a great training opportunity.

I like to ask Marines why we PT at all. Their answers are inevitably: “To be in shape.” “Be fit.” My personal favorite is: “To look good naked 1stSgt!” I appreciate the honesty.

The bottom line is we conduct PT in order to make our bodies harder to kill. Never mind the idea of being fitter and stronger than your enemy. Fit, healthy bodies tend to survive being shot, blown up, infected, and other rough treatment. It’s only natural the Corps would develop a culture of physical fitness within its ranks.

The Tabata quotation is from an older post, but you’ll find that America’s Sergeant Major hasn’t lost his edge. The only thing that’s changed is that he’s got himself a shiny new site. It’s really gorgeous. Please check it out.

California’s drought

I can’t remember if I’ve fulminated here about California’s drought. My shtick, which I’ll share with anyone who’s listening, is that California’s horrible drought was foreseeable and preventable.

No, it’s not climate change. It’s a completely predictable cyclical drought that comes along like clockwork every few decades.

“Ah,” says the wise climate changista, “but it’s worse now because global warming.” No! It’s worse now because of insanely stupid water management practices, including minimal reservoir upgrade and increase, despite the fact that California’s population has more than doubled since 1961.  And of course that the enviromentalists in California government have the bright idea, in the middle of a massive drought, to flush away millions of gallons of water to protect that little Delta Smelt.

Anyway, don’t take my word for it; take Victor Davis Hanson’s.

Fact-checking Obama

Over at Power Line last week, John Hinderaker ask plaintively “Does anyone fact-check the president?” The short answer is “no.” Hinderaker provides the latest example of the long answer.

Incidentally, I want to know what the word is for tyranny by media, because that’s what we’ve got. The media tyranny explains why we have people in government so grossly dishonest — intellectually, historically, politically — with nary a word allowed to be said against them in the outlets that control most of America’s air time.

Are we suffering under a “media-archy”?

The bad decisions of the effete

Effete is not a word one hears often any more. It’s a good word, though, and one that well describes huge swaths of 21st century America:

1. lacking in wholesome vigor; degenerate; decadent: an effete, overrefined society.
2. exhausted of vigor or energy; worn out: an effete political force.
3. unable to produce; sterile.

Scott Locklin builds a whole political argument around difference between those who engage with real life and todays effete, enervated Americans: Never trust anyone who hasn’t been punched in the face — and he means really punched, not just metaphorically punched.

I’ll just note the historic truism that Rome fell when its prosperity left people unwilling and unable to defend themselves. (I’ve also heard that they got that way from drinking their wine from cups made of lead, which may be true too, but they were drinking that way long before the empire’s slow, dismal decline.)

Who has abortions? Men do, that’s who!

No, that title is not a joke. Thanks to our brave new world of fluid genders, Katha Pollitt argues vigorously that we’re being sexist in denying that men have abortions:

Who has abortions? For most of human history, the answer was obvious: women have abortions. Girls have abortions. Not any more. People have abortions. Patients have abortions. Men have abortions. “We must acknowledge and come to terms with the implicit cissexism in assuming that only women have abortions,” wrote feminist activist Lauren Rankin in July 2013 in truthout.com. She went on to criticize as exclusionary slogans like “the War on Women” and “Stand with Texas Women.”

Apparently Katha needs a little biology lesson: Abortions require pregnancies; pregnancies require a uterus; and a uterus is by definition female. You can take a woman, stuff her full of hormones so she gets good and hairy on her face and chest, and has a nice deep voice; slice off her breasts; and create a fancy new dangling dongle for her, but at the end of the day, that’s all cosmetic. When she gets pregnant, it’s because under the cosmetics, she’s still a woman with a uterus and the accompanying hormones.

But don’t listen to me; listen to Monty Python:

Any surprise that he’s a former Marine?

Meet retired Marine Corps. Sergeant Patrick Maxwell, who’s off with the Kurds fighting against ISIS:

“I’m very libertarian in my beliefs and I don’t think we need to be committing U.S. boots to the ground to do another long war like that, ” he says. “But myself as a private citizen – if I want to go take a vacation and shoot some terrorists in the process, that should be my own business.”

It would be different, of course, if Maxwell wanted to join up with terrorists to shoot Americans. But as long as he’s not harming American interests, while it’s not my idea of a vacation, I sure can’t quarrel with him.

If you’ve been wondering who supports Jeb Bush….

The GOP establishment’s love affair with Jeb Bush is mystifying, because he can’t win. Barring a handful of RINO bazillionaires, nobody, and I mean nobody, wants a third Bush in the White House.  He’s too Bush-like for Democrats, and too Bill Clinton-like for conservatives.

Wait. I take that back. Garth Kant has an idea about what might be driving this Jeb furor.

A coda to the off-duty cop murdered in Philadelphia

It’s been a couple of weeks since two brothers murdered Officer Robert Wilson III in Philadelphia. I have three comments to make based upon an article about Wilson’s last moments and about his killers.

First, Wilson died incredibly bravely. Second, take a look at the picture of his murders. Look closely. Notice anything interesting about their foreheads? (The forehead thing is supposition, by the way, so I’ll be interested in seeing if it’s true or someone just had a very large zit that popped in a visible spot.) Third, please note how the brothers have different last names, suggesting a dysfunction in their home life going back to their births.

Two things you should read about Eric Holder’s “disparate impact” crusade

The Obama government has told America’s school districts that they need to stop punishing black kids more than they do white kids. In Democrat-led cities, that’s exactly what the schools have been doing, with entirely predictable results:

Convinced traditional discipline is racist because blacks are suspended at higher rates than whites, New York City’s Department of Education has in all but the most serious and dangerous offenses replaced out-of-school suspensions with a touchy-feely alternative punishment called “restorative justice,” which isn’t really punishment at all. It’s therapy.

“Every reasonable effort must be made to correct student behavior through…restorative practices,” advises the city’s new 32-page discipline code.

Except everywhere it’s been tried, this softer approach has backfired.

[snip]

What’s more, the movement — which is driven by new race-based anti-discipline guidelines issued by the Obama administration — is creating friction between teachers unions and the liberal mayors they otherwise support.

That last paragraph I quoted is a reminder that revolutions always eat their own.

Anyway, it’s a long, good article and you should read the whole thing. Then, when you’re done, go here, to Stately McDaniel Manor to read how Eric Holder wants to bring to crime fighting the exactly same “disparate impact” logic that’s turning America’s public schools into “Lord of the Flies” environments.

And now, back to work….

Jeb Bush, dynasties, and the multiple photocopy theory

jeb-bush-george-bushMy son, who is taking a general science class, explained to me why I’m aging.  “Mom,” he said.  “Your cells keep reproducing over and over again, but they’re like a bad photocopy of the original.  You see, the original was good, but if you make a photocopy of that, the photocopy isn’t quite as good.  And if you photocopy the photocopy, the new photocopy is going to be even less good.  [I hope all of you are with me here.]  So, by the time you’re old, all your cells have been copied too often, so they’re really bad quality, and that’s why you go gray and get wrinkles.”

I have to say, that strikes me as a damn fine articulation of the problem the mirror reveals to me every day.  It’s still me, but the copy quality is increasingly abysmal as the years go by.

The failed copy problem plagues things other than cells.  Monarchies, for example, often have the failed copy problem.   In century after century and nation after nation, one sees a tolerably decent monarch (at least decent enough to acquire and hang onto the throne) succeeded by increasingly inept heirs who often lost both throne and life (e.g., Louis XIV, Louis V, and Louis XVI; or Russia’s Nicholas’s).

England, the country about which I’m most knowledgeable, had a couple of miserable dynasties.  James I, who inherited from Elizabeth I, was a personally revolting man (he never bathed), but a fairly astute politician.  His son, Charles I, was such an arrogant pipsqueak, he sparked a civil war that saw him lose, first, his throne and, second, his head.  Charles II was an understandably cynical man who did whatever was necessary to hold onto both throne and head so that he could die in his own bed.  His brother, James II, didn’t even have that kind of sense, and managed to lose the throne a second time, which is really unforgivable for a single dynasty.

That was the 17th century in England.  The 18th century brought its own miserable collection of dynastic disasters, all named George, the first who was stolid and completely Germanic George I; the second who was a nonentity, the third who was a pathetic madman who lost America, and finally the fourth, who was a much-loathed, reprehensible rake.  And don’t get me started about Elizabeth II (dignified, if nothing else) and her son, Charles, an unprincipled fruit loop who is known to worship at the global warming altar and who may well be a Muslim convert.

America’s political dynasties have the same problem.  Take the Kennedys, for example.  The political dynasty started with John, who was all shiny and pretty and polished.  It then devolved to Teddy Kennedy, a man even his most devoted fans couldn’t deny was alcoholic, had the obesity of the dissolute, and was generally morally corrupt.  The current generation of Kennedy’s has all of Teddy’s vices without his old-generation cachet.  They’re drug addicts, alcoholics, depressives, and otherwise troubled, defective people.

The Bush’s aren’t much better.  We started with George Sr., a very good and brave and accomplished man who was, nevertheless, a merely decent politician and then worked our way to George Jr., a very good and principled man who really tried to break conservativism’s back with that “compassionate” stuff (which just turned it into mushy Leftism).

The true devolution is appearing in Jeb Bush, the third iteration in that political clan.  He’s proving to be such a blurry, failed copy that we may as well head this photocopy directly to the recycling bin.  How else to explain his no-borders support for illegal immigration on the ground that it’s an “act of love,” because it’s about family, and not really a crime at all?  Funnily enough, I never hear “love” advanced as a defense for the guy who forgoes a job in favor of robbery as a means of putting food on the table.

Paul Mirengoff correctly notes that some illegal aliens, unlike most other criminals, do contribute to society.  That, however, is not an argument for excusing blatant law-breaking on “love” grounds.  The only real “love” we’re seeing here is Jeb’s love for power, as he hopes to become the third Bush in office.

My Leftist friends are shrieking in horror at the thought of another Bush in office.  I have to agree with them.  Now if only I can convince them that Hillary Clinton, too, is nothing but a pathetic, failed photocopy of their beloved Bill.