The Bookworm Beat 5-9-15 — the “I’m not all here” edition

Woman writingThanks to the miracle of modern technology, despite the fact that I’ll be celebrating a family event this weekend, I can still feed my blog. If some shocking headline happens over the weekend, I probably won’t have a lot to say about it, but I can definitely keep you current about yesterday’s news!

More on Shy Tories

Nate Silver, who nailed the 2008 and 2012 elections, had a total fail when it came to predicting the 2015 British election that saw the Tories gain an easy victory, despite poll results showing that Labour would win. Silver offers a few arguments in his own defense. The funniest is his claim that “everyone else was wrong too.” As every high school kid knows, that’s not a good defense.

What Silver finally admits, though, is that voters lied, just as they did in 1992:

The most obvious problem for all forecasters was that the polling average had Labour and the Conservatives even on the night before the election. This was not just the average of the polls, it was the consensus. Nearly every pollster’s final poll placed the two parties within 1 percentage point of each other. Based on the polling average being level, we predicted Conservatives to win by 1.6 percentage points on the basis of the historical tendency of polls to overstate changes from the last election. This kind of adjustment is helpful for understanding how the 2010 result deviated from the national polls on election day, as well as the infamous 1992 U.K. polling disaster, when the polls had the two parties even before the election and the Tories won by 7.5 percentage points. The Conservative margin over Labour will be smaller than that when the 2015 totals are finalized, but not a lot smaller (currently it is 6.4 with all but one constituency declared). So our adjustment was in the right direction, but it was not nearly large enough. Part of the reason Fisher did better is that he applied a similar adjustment, but made it party-specific, leading to a larger swingback for the Tories than for other parties because of that 1992 result.

Since I’m always averse to hiding my light, such as it is, under a bushel, I’ll provide a discrete hyperlink to my post yesterday, in which I said exactly the same thing; namely, that 2015 is a repeat of the “Shy Tory Factor.”

The really important thing — and it’s something that all honest, decent people should ask themselves — is why do conservatives feel compelled to hide their political views?  I don’t know about England, but perhaps it’s because, here in America, we get audited to death, not to mention the insults, the cars that get keyed, and the harangues attacking conservatives as evil people.  All of those are good reasons to lie in public and, in the privacy of the voting booth, to do anything we can to return some semblance of sanity to our world.

I think Nancy Pelosi is getting senile — really

My 92-year-old mother is mostly compos mentis, but she definitely has times when, as my sister says, “She boards the magical bus and doesn’t get off.”  She’s still absolutely certain that, when she was in the hospital a few years ago recovering from a minor surgery, the nurses roused her in the middle of the night and insisted that she spend the rest of the night helping them run their online clothing catalog business from the nurses’ station. Nothing will convince her that this didn’t happen, including the fact that she knows that her computer skills are so nonexistent, she hasn’t even mastered email.  That’s just one of dozens of moments that have seen Mom part ways with reality.

I’m wondering if 75-year-old Nancy Pelosi hasn’t boarded that same magical bus.  It’s really the kindest reason I can think of for her claiming that Hamas is a “humanitarian” organization based upon assurances from Qatar:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) says the United States must look to Qatar, an ally of the terrorist group Hamas, for advice in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

“And we have to confer with the Qataris, who have told me over and over again that Hamas is a humanitarian organization,” she told CNN’s “State of the Union” with Candy Crowley.

The only other explanations for Pelosi’s delusion statement about Hamas as a humanitarian organization are that Pelosi is dumber than a rock or that she’s a very evil woman who considers the Devil her partner in the dance. Calling her senile is really the kindest thing one can do.

American kids are not morons, but Nicholas Kristof is

I’ve enjoyed attacking Nicholas Kristof before, since he’s the kind of Leftist who never lets facts slow him down. No wonder, then, that I enjoyed a post at Sense Made Here, in which Eugene explains that, whatever else Kristof is, he’s not smarter than an 8th grader.

The death of our Republic?

Wolf Howling uses the fact that the federal government is forcing schools to allow kids to pick whatever gender they want when it comes to bathrooms, locker rooms, and sports teams as an opportunity to ruminate about the way a passive legislature, a power hungry White House, an aggressive administrative system, and activist judges are all working together to destroy the republic that the Founders created for us.

You’ll get depressed reading his post, but you should still read it. After all, the only bulwark against all of these evils is an informed public.

The only people for whom black lives don’t matter are black leaders

A few days ago, I did a post saying that, since blacks insist that everything whites do or have done is destructive to blacks, blacks might want to stop demanding our help and try to rebuild their culture without white interference. I even had proof that Martin Luther King felt the same way I do, at least when it came to responsibility (and for more on the subject of responsibility, you can go here):

Martin Luther King on black self-help

I now am certain I’m on the right track with my suggestion, because Daniel Greenfield has said much the same thing (emphasis mine):

Baltimore has the fifth highest big city murder rate in the country. The four cities ahead of it are Detroit, New Orleans, Newark and St. Louis. All these cities have something in common. Not racism, but race.

The killers and the dead are black.

The murder rate in Baltimore stood at 37.4 to 100,000 people. There have already been 63 murders this year. Fifty-six of the victims were black. Of the 16 murders in the last 30 days, 14 of the victims were black.

If black lives really mattered, then black violence would matter. But that would mean taking responsibility for a broken culture which few leaders in the black community are ready to do.

Hillary the incompetent

In a politely worded public letter to the American media, Peter Wehner explains that Hillary’s ability to hop a plane while Secretary of State has nothing to do with core competency:

Not only is Mrs. Clinton not “hyper-competent,” she is not even minimally competent.

What exactly are her brilliant achievements? Is it HillaryCare, a substantive disaster that led to a political disaster (the Republican sweep in the 1994 mid-term election)? The multiple ethical problems she’s encountered during her years in politics? Here fierce opposition to the Petraeus-led surge in Iraq long after it was obvious it was succeeding? Perhaps the Russian reset? Referring to Bashar Assad, the genocidal dictator of Syria, as a “reformer“? Or maybe her masterful handling of the Iranian Green Revolution, relations with Egypt, Libya, Israel, the attack on the American diplomatic outpost in Benghazi, Poland, the Czech Republic, the “pivot” to Asia and countless other failures during the first Obama term?

What exactly are her achievements – her concrete, tangible, exceptional achievements – as First Lady, senator, and secretary of state? They don’t exist. In fact, the things she has her fingerprints on have, much more often than not, turned into disasters. The case that her supporters put forward on her behalf — she has flown nearly a million miles, visited more than 100 countries, read briefing books (!) and had tea with local power brokers (!!) – highlights just how pathetic her achievements are.

Hillary is not competent, and it will be a shame if the American voters are flimflammed into thinking she is.

Did you know that Antoine Lavoisier met his end on the guillotine?

I did not know that, but it’s true. It’s a reminder never to mix science and politics.

Martin Luther King on the need for blacks to take responsibility

baltimore-riotYesterday, I had a rant:

“Fine, we, the white collective, screwed you. We screwed you 200 years ago, and 100 years ago, and 50 years, and last week. We seem incapable of not screwing you. So why do you keep looking to us for help? Look to yourselves. Fix your own communities because, according to you, whatever we touch, we turn to dross. The fact is, you can’t grow up until you cut the apron strings, especially because, by your own definition, your white American Mommy is toxic.”

Of course, once one says that, rather than the black community pulling itself up by its own bootstraps, all that happens is a renewed press for reparations.  But still, the reality in communities is exactly the same as it is when you sit in the therapist’s office and he intones (usually to your irritation), “Only you can help yourself.  You have to want to change.”

It turns out that Martin Luther King got there before I did:

[Read more…]

Professional race activists “demand” redistribution on behalf of American blacks

Martin_Luther_King_Jr_NYWTS_6I admit that I am not a Reverend Martin Luther King scholar.  As is the case for every American educated after 1970, though, I am reasonably conversant with his speeches and writings.  My memory is that his crusade was one to remove barriers that society had placed in blacks’ way.  He was the ideological heir of Frederick Douglas, who said that white America needed to remove hindrances to black accomplishment, and then leave blacks alone:

“What shall we do with the Negro?” I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are worm eaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature’s plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone!

King’s own views appear in that famous line from his “I Have A Dream Speech”: “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” In other words, stop looking at our skin color and let us get on with our lives, just as the rest of Americans do.

The Left, however, has latched onto King’s legacy and converted it into one that sees Blacks as helpless creatures who can succeed only if white America supports them. That’s why the professional race activists created the following chart to “celebrate” Reverend Martin Luther King’s birthday:

Black demands on Americans

Upon whom are the agitators making these “demands”?  It seems pretty clear to me that they’re not saying to African-Americans “we demand that you clean up your communities; we demand that you raise your children with Judeo-Christian values that do not include gang banging, drive-by shootings, and knock-out games; we demand that you make high achievement in school a cultural value; we demand that you marry before you have children because the single biggest indicator of poverty is single motherhood; and we demand that you raise children who are such well-behaved, self-disciplined students, that people bang down the door to get into their schools, just as people beg to get into schools with high Asian and East Indian populations.”

Per this chart, African-Americans are passive victims, destined forever to float randomly upon a sea of existential despair and violent poverty.  That’s precisely what Reverend King counseled against.  He envisioned a world in which the barriers to entry were removed and African-Americans could take their place shoulder to shoulder with all other races.  Today’s modern blacks, however, seem to envision just another form of enslavement, only one that doesn’t bare its teeth as openly as the old system did.

Martin Luther King III rejects his father’s legacy by going to Washington to parrot the race hustlers

(This post originally appeared in slightly different form at Mr. Conservative.)

Just because your father was a great man doesn’t mean you will be a great man. Exhibit A for this truism is Martin Luther King III, son of the great racial harmonizer, Martin Luther King Jr. Standing in Washington, D.C., where his father stood 50 years ago to state that people should be judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character, MLK III proved himself to be just another two-bit race hustler. And so a dream dies in one generation.

Several thousand people gathered in Washington today to remember Martin Luther King Jr’s brilliant “I have a dream” speech, which he delivered exactly fifty years ago this month. In stirring tones, the elder King set forth his vision of an America in which people are judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

Martin Luther King, Jr., a Republican, would have wept if he had lived long enough to see what the Democrat party has done to his legacy. His greatest sorrow might have been that his son, Martin Luther King III, has turned his back on his father’s inclusive, color-blind ideology, and become one with the race hustlers.

This is pretty strong language, but it’s the truth. Here is what Martin Luther King III said as he stood where his father had once stood.

And so I stand here today in this sacred place, in my father’s footsteps. I am humbled by the heavy hand of history. But more than that, I, like you, continue to feel his presence. I, like you, continue to hear his voice crying out in the wilderness.

The admonition is clear: this is not the time for a nostalgic commemoration, nor is this the time for self-congratulatory celebration. The task is not done. The journey is not complete. We can and we must do more.

The vision preached by my father a half century ago was that his four little children will one day live in a nation where they would not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content up their character. However, sadly, the tears of Trayvon Martin’s mother and father remind us that far too frequently, the color of one’s skin remains a license to profile, to arrest, and even to murder with no regard for the content of one’s character.

Regressive Stand Your Ground laws must be repealed. Federal anti-profiling legislation must be enacted.

John Adams, another famous American, once said “Facts are stubborn things.” Here are a few facts to challenge MLK III’s infantile remonstrance against “racism” in America:

1. Content of character: The undisputed facts show that Trayvon Martin was a hulking thug who used drugs, played with guns, got into fights, skipped school, and talked trash. The same undisputed facts show that George Zimmerman was a neighborhood favorite who went the extra mile for everyone, regardless of the color of their skin – so much so that he spent enormous time trying to help a young black man he believed the police had unjustly targeted.

2. Stand Your Ground laws: Neither the prosecution nor the defense breathed a word about Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law (also known as the Castle doctrine). Instead, this was an out-and-out case of old-fashioned self-defense. The evidence showed that Trayvon was sitting on top of Zimmerman trying to bash his brains out on the pavement. Zimmerman didn’t have the choice of standing his ground or trying to flee when he was shot. The situation had devolved in “it’s either him or me.”

3. There was no profiling. Police profile. Zimmerman is not a police officer. He is an ordinary citizen. Ordinary citizens observe, make decisions, and react as they see fit. You cannot enact federal laws imposing on all ordinary citizens some bizarre standard by which they’re not allowed to defend themselves against black aggressors, because to do so is “profiling.”

The only thing the MLK III got right is that racism lives today. But the racism in the Zimmerman case wasn’t Zimmerman’s racism against Trayvon. Every bit of evidence introduced at trial or revealed by fact-finders showed that George Zimmerman was a mixed-race man who treated all races with respect.

The real racism in this case was that shown by the race hustler’s in the Democrat party and the media (but I repeat myself), who made the decision to lynch George Zimmerman during that brief window of time when they thought he was white. Even when they were corrected, and learned that Zimmerman self-identifies as Hispanic, they created a bizarre new racial classification called “white-Hispanic” so that they could play out their revolting racist fantasies against him.

Martin Luther King (did I mention he was a Republican?) would be shocked at the way in which his son and the Democrat party have perverted his color-blind message and turned it into as aggressive a form of anti-white racism as was ever practiced in the old days in the anti-black south.

The Left transforms Civil Rights, so that it’s no longer freedom FROM government, but total control BY government

Civil rights are much discussed lately, primarily because Progressives with bully-pulpits are furious that Glenn Beck held a rally at the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous civil rights rally at that same location.  To hear them tell it, in the wake of the “Civil Rights Movement,” civil rights are entirely a black thing, and whites who parade around in the civil rights mantel are manifestly racists.

It says much about the Orwellian twists the Progressive mind takes that its spokespeople can, with a straight face, confine civil rights to a single race.  The whole Progressive concept is oxymoronic, because civil rights, by definition, extend to all citizens within the civitas, not just citizens of a specified color.  (And isn’t that the point King was trying to make?)  The idiocy emanating from the Left might be merely amusing, but for the fact that the Left is working out to ensure that this definition applies to all future generations.  After all, it was Arne Duncan, Obama’s Education Secretary, who appeared at Al Sharpton’s poorly-attended counter rally to announce that education is “the civil rights issue of our generation.”

All of this points to the fact that, in the years since Martin Luther King’s pivotal moment in the sun, the Left has redefined civil rights into a concept that would be utterly alien to Martin Luther King — and that is alien to most people who aren’t Progressives or self-styled “liberals.”  It’s therefore time, in Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ memorable words, for some “reeducation.”

To me, and perhaps to you, “civil rights” are those inherent rights that automatically extend to all citizens in a free country.  Thomas Jefferson articulated the broadest outlines of these rights in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Jefferson stated unambiguously that these unalienable rights — the ultimate civil liberties, if you will — do not come from government.  They exist independent of government.  Government’s job is not to create those rights, but to safeguard them.  Government cannot hand them out, not can it take them away.  They just are.  And if government fails to provide the proper safeguards or, worse, itself threatens these unalienable rights, it is not the rights that are illegitimate, it is the government.

Very soon after the American Revolution ended, our Founders recognized that the federal government needed some guidance if it was to maintain its legitimacy and provide a stable structure for its citizens without destroying their rights.  To that end, in 1791, the Founders enacted the Bill of Rights (i.e., the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution).  They are short and sweet, and are notable for the way in which, rather than extending government power, they severely restrict its power over citizens:

Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment 2 – Right to Bear Arms.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment 3 – Quartering of Soldiers.

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment 4 – Search and Seizure.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment 5 – Trial and Punishment, Compensation for Takings.

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment 6 – Right to Speedy Trial, Confrontation of Witnesses.

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment 7 – Trial by Jury in Civil Cases.

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment 8 – Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment 9 – Construction of Constitution.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment 10 – Powers of the States and People.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

To summarize in modern English, our “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness,” “unalienable rights” that come from “the Creator,” are preserved only if we have a federal government that, as to the citizens within its borders:

  • has “no desire to make windows into men’s souls” (1st Amendment);
  • allows them to speak freely, whether the government likes that speech or not(1st Amendment);
  • allows a press unconstrained by government threats or requirements(1st Amendment);
  • let’s them to rally together (1st Amendment);
  • listens to their concerns (1st Amendment);
  • lets them arm themselves (2nd Amendment);
  • protects them from the reach of the government’s own military and police (3rd and 4th Amendments);
  • makes the home inviolate, with the burden on the government to prove a pressing need to breach that privacy (4th Amendment);
  • ensures that a citizen suspected of a crime is held only subject to a clearly stated charge, is prosecuted only once, is brought swiftly to trial, has a fair trial, may have the facts of his case judged by his peers, and cannot be bullied to convict himself out of his own mouth (5th, 6th and 7th Amendments);
  • establishes that, in any case, not just a civil one, the citizen may have a jury of his peers and may not lose his life, liberty or property without a full, fair trial (7th Amendment);
  • prevents the government from stealing private property (5th Amendment); and
  • never inflicts cruel or unusual punishment on any citizen (although the reference to capital crimes in the 5th Amendment indicates that execution does not fall within those parameters) (8th Amendment).

All of the above are the explicitly stated limitations the Founders placed upon the federal government.  It took eight amendments to drive those points home.  But to reiterate just how severely constrained the United States’ federal governments’ power is vis a vis the citizens within its borders, the Founders made two further points:  While the amendments are to be understood to control the federal government, they cannot be read to mean that American citizens have only those rights enumerated in the first eight amendments (9th Amendment).  Instead, those ostensibly stated affirmative “rights” are actually limitations on the government.  All else remains to a free people.

And if that isn’t clear enough, the 10th amendment says that, unless the Constitution specifically reserves an affirmative right for the federal government, or prohibits it to a state, all other rights — the universe of rights, whether or not articulated — belong to the states or the people within those states.

This is small government writ large.  Civil rights mean small government, with the government limited primarily (although not entirely) to protecting citizens from itself.

Martin Luther King understood this.  The Civil Rights movement was a stand against overt government encroachment on the rights of black people.  The Southern States, ignoring the Declaration’s acknowledgment that all men inherently possessed civil rights, used the government as a weapon against the black people within its borders.  The real problem blacks faced wasn’t that their fellow white citizens behaved hostilely, and even murderously, towards them.  Had the government fulfilled its policing responsibilities and stepped forward to protect those citizens, Jim Crow would have been a short-lived phenomenon.  The real problem was that Southern government itself encroached on citizens’ freedom.

It was Southern government that legislatively segregated schools, segregated housing, segregated business establishments, segregated marriages and enacted barriers between blacks and ballots.  It was Southern government that was a “Form of Government [that had become] destructive of these ends [life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for black people],” making it the civil  “Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

In the sixty years since the Civil Rights movement, the Left has entirely perverted the whole notion of civil rights.  Civil Rights as the Founders intended meant the right of all citizens, regardless of race, color, religion, sexual, gender, etc., to be free of government constraints (although the government’s police powers certainly required the government to protect citizens when others amongst them worked to injure them or constrain their basic freedoms).  Civil Rights as the Left demands it has become an all powerful government that is responsible for redistribution wealth, property, access to government and even happiness, from whites to blacks.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News