The Bookworm Beat 5-14-15 — “Just another busy day” edition and Open Thread

Woman writingAnother day where life got in the way of blogging. Hope these interesting articles compensate for the long silence.

What’s she got to complain about?

It’s already old news that Michelle Obama — Princeton and Harvard grad, highly paid (but still useless) lawyer; and jet-setting President’s wife — thinks herself very poorly used by the American system. To hear her tell it, she’s been chewed up and then spit out on a filthy sidewalk, where crude, rude, KKK-type white people have ground her remnants into the dust. I just have a few links about this and a comment.

Link One: Writing at Allen West’s site, Michele Hickford has the perfect commentary about Ms. Obama’s whines.

Link Two: Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin (and yes, it’s funny that the whiner and the skewerers are all named Michelle) neatly deconstructs all the lies behind Michelle’s complaints.

Link Three: Wolf Howling points out that Ms. Obama is just one weapon in the race hustlers’ arsenal.

Wolf Howling also alludes to an important, and extremely sad, point: Ms. Obama may be lying about her facts, but she’s not lying about her emotions. This Ivy League-educated,  spoiled, pampered, private-jetted darling genuinely feels as if she is a victim. It turns out that the only thing worse than having to listen to Michelle Obama is actually to be Michelle Obama and to live within that unhappy, resentful, beleaguered brain.

Hollywood wants you — but you shouldn’t want it back

Early this week, I wrote about all the horrid, distasteful people who populate my TV screen lately. Robert Avrech, who is someone with a much greater understanding of Hollywood’s inner workings made the same point in an article he wrote last December:

Sadly, most series on the air and in development are unsubtle messages formulated by postmodern Holly wood writers, producers and executives. This is no longer mere propaganda, but a clarion call for a new national morality. It is a world where women do not need husbands to raise children, as in Playing House, where the most anticipated marriage on TV is between two men, as in Modern Family and where the ties that hold a family together are murder, rape and plunder, as in Vikings. The protagonists of The Americans, a Cold War drama, are a ruthless but attractive Soviet couple working as spies against America. In the hit Netflix series House of Cards, a Washington D.C. power couple, played to silkily sinister perfection by Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, lie, cheat and murder their way into the White House. Blessedly, these repugnant American Borgias have chosen not to have children. But the show’s writers would have us believe that theirs is a glorious union.

In the new Hollywood lexicon, the family is a unit held together not by traditional family values, but by gangster ethics.

Read the whole thing.

Global warming is real — provided you ignore all the facts proving that it isn’t

The global warmists are getting increasingly shrill in their insistence that the earth is on the verge of boiling us all to death, and that anyone who denies it is a flat-earther who, in a just world, would be burned at the stake for heresy (if only burning at the stake didn’t increase the atmosphere’s already deadly carbon load). Being ignorant, these hysterics do not understand that, historically, global warming has always been a blessing for mankind, increasing available water and crops, and allowing people to focus on cultural advancement. Global warming would be a good thing.

Of course, there is no global warming. More likely, there is going to be global cooling, thanks to a very quiet sun — and global cooling has always meant famine. We in America might be able to weather a famine (especially if we can agree that humans matter more than Delta Smelt), but more fragile economies are going to be in desperate trouble.

By the way, if a warmist challenges you about the assertions I just made (no warming, probable cooling), you could point that person to 22 inconvenient facts about our climate.

Oooooh, Luuuuucy!

Another piece of old news is Mark Halperin’s embarrassingly racist questions as he tried to prove to Hispanics that Ted Cruz is really a coconut — brown on the outside, but totally white-racist-male-chauvinist-pig on the inside. However, even if it is old news, if you haven’t read Fausta’s response to Halperin’s nonsense, you’ve missed something fine.

Halperin, faced with attacks from the Left and the Right, did an “I’m sorry you’re offended” apology. And Cruz, cleverly avoiding his reputation for snarkiness, responded with an extremely gracious “you have nothing to apologize for.”

The First Amendment’s death continues apace

Victor Davis Hanson keeps getting better — which is impressive when one considers how good he was to begin with. The whole time I was reading his article about the Left’s steady deconstruction and destruction of the First Amendment, my head kept bobbing up and down, like one of those nodding dog toys you used to see in the windows of cars. If you read it, you’ll nod too:

Apparently there is no longer a First Amendment as our Founders wrote it, but instead something like an Orwellian Amendment 1.5, which reads: “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 — except if someone finds some speech hurtful, controversial, or not helpful.

Cowardice abounds. When artists and writers mock Mormonism in a Broadway play like the Book of Mormon or use urine or excrement to deface Christian symbols, no Christian gang seeks to curb such distasteful expression — much less to kill anyone. Every religion but Islam knows that its iconography is fair game for caricature in the United States; none sanctions assassins. Jihadists seek to make this asymmetry quite clear to Western societies and thereby provide deterrence that gives Islam special exemption from Western satire and criticism in a way not accorded to other religions. And they are enabled by Westerners who prefer tranquility to freedom of expression.

When will Kirsten Powers realize she’s a conservative?

For many years, as I slowly realized that I was no longer aligned with Democrats, I still thought of myself as a Democrat, albeit a smarter, more informed one. It took a while for me to figure out that my values were completely inconsistent with today’s Democrat party and that, rather than honoring myself by remaining a Democrat, I was demeaning myself.

Kirsten Powers still considers herself a Democrat, but I suspect that, as she looks at toxic Democrat-led policies on America’s college campuses, she may eventually want to leave that identity behind too:

The root of nearly every free-speech infringement on campuses across the country is that someone—almost always a liberal—has been offended or has sniffed out a potential offense in the making. Then, the silencing campaign begins. The offender must be punished, not just for justice’s sake, but also to send the message to anyone else on campus that should he or she stray off the leftist script, they too might find themselves investigated, harassed, ostracized, or even expelled. If the illiberal left can preemptively silence opposing speakers or opposing groups— such as getting a speech or event canceled, or denying campus recognition for a group—even better.

Self-identified “moderate” Muslims sound surprisingly extreme

I was talking with a friend today about American blacks and the way they resolutely refuse to involve themselves in their own salvation, preferring to blame white people and then to look to the majority-white government system for succor. Every time I spoke broadly about “blacks,” my friend reminded me that the majority of American blacks are just like me: hard-working, honest, and decent. It’s only the noisy ones who are engaged in black-on-black killings, drug use, single motherhood, and rioting.

My friend, as usual, is correct.  Thinking through my rhetorical laziness, I realized that the reason I keep lumping all blacks together, as if the disgraceful minority represents the completely ordinary and respectable majority, is because whenever the minority acts up, the majority, instead of castigating those self-destructive behaviors, supports the behaviors, joining in the constantly repeated chorus of “It’s not our fault; it’s whitey’s fault; now give us money.”

My friend then reminded me that speaking up isn’t that easy. Blacks who step off that plantation are subject to vicious racist attacks that would do the KKK proud — except that these attacks come from Democrats. (Oh, wait!  The KKK was also Democrat, wasn’t it?  It seems as if the Democrats, no matter where they stand politically vis a vis blacks, always keep a closet full of disgraceful racist taunts at the ready.)  As a closet conservative in my community, I know precisely how difficult it is to stand against your community, especially when you’re raising children.

This is all by way of introduction to the concept of “moderate” Muslims. Those who speak out sound remarkably like the fanatics. And those who don’t speak out . . . well, it’s difficult to know whether they agree with the fanatics and so-called moderates, or if they’re simply scared to death.  After all, an ISIS sword is even more devastating than a Democrat’s racial slurs.

Our profoundly weak economy

Progressives I know insist that the American economy is in great shape and invariably point to the stock market as proof. They seem incapable of understanding that years of low interest rates, steady money printing, and quasi-fascist crony capitalism have disconnected the stock market from the economy. The stock market no longer proves anything at all, except that those who know how to operate the political system can still get rich.

Given how weak our economy is, and how dangerous the money policies are that drive the illusion of prosperity, it’s small wonder that a well-known economist says that the next recession — and there will be a next one — will be devastating.

Our Leftist Pope

A few years ago, I said that Pope Francis, no matter how nice a person he is, is a hardcore Leftist product of Liberation Theology.  Sadly, recent events prove that I do not stand corrected.

You can tell she’s a Christian because….

Barronelle Stutzman, the gal whom Washington State has been intent upon destroying because she refused to provide flowers for a gay wedding, got a chance to have her say in the Washington Post. You know how you can tell that she’s a Christian? It’s not just that she makes a compelling case explaining how she can be friends with gays while still standing behind her freedoms of speech, religion, and association when it comes to being forced to provide her artistic services for a ceremony that runs counter to her mainstream faith.

No, the real reason you can tell that Stutzman is a true Christian is that, when she speaks of the man who turned her over to the Nazi branch of the Washington State political correctness police, she still calls him her “friend.” Stutzman either has her tongue firmly in cheek, or she is a woman who takes seriously the Christian notion of turning that same cheek.

Anyway, please read Stutzman’s article. The conclusion sums up what every American should understand about freedom:

In Washington, Rob and Curt have the right to get a marriage license. But that doesn’t mean that the state should be able to force people in the creative professions like myself to create expression celebrating the ceremonies. We all have different viewpoints about how to live our lives. One thing I’ve loved about our country is that we protect the freedom of artistic expression and the right to disagree over these kinds of issues without one side being threatened by the government over it.

But whatever the state says and however they want to try to punish me, they can’t change my faith. What happens in my business or my life is in God’s hands. Having a clear conscience means much more to me than any amount of money or my business. Rob and Curt have their beliefs about marriage and aren’t being stopped by the state from living them out. I only ask for the same freedom.

Is it really only Tuesday? Round-up and Open thread

Victorian posy of pansiesFor those of us who believe in free speech, the antidote to bad speech isn’t censorship, it’s good speech. The problem for France, which is trying to censor an antisemitic, pro-Nazi “comic”, is that it has no good speech to counter the antisemitism that is breeding in France’s toxic stew of Islam and Leftism. That’s always the problem in socialist countries. They have no good to counterattack the bad — usually because they created the bad in the first place.

It was the French Left that opened the door to unlimited Islamic immigration to atone for sins in North Africa. The North African Muslims come, bringing their antisemitic culture with them, and there’s no one in France brave enough to challenge their culture or philosemitic enough to speak for the Jews.

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Lee Smith argues that Israel fails to understand the Obama narrative about the Middle East, and is therefore failing to make the winning arguments to the Obama government vis a vis Iran’s attempt to ship major supplies of Syrian weapons into Palestinian hands. He’s right. He is also right insofar as the article implies that, to the extent that Obama’s goals are now antithetical to Israel’s continued existence, there is no winning argument Israel can make to Obama.

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Must-read about why Palestinians are not American blacks living under Jim Crow.

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As the mother of a teenage girl, I find incredibly amusing the latest feminist campaign to ban the word “bossy” in relationship to girls, or at least to pretend that it’s not a derogatory word. While we’re at it, let’s just ban the word “wet” in relationship to “water,” or at least pretend it has an entirely different meaning.

Bossy is exactly what little girls and teenage girls are. Boys (both little and teenage) have their own sins, but bossiness is not one of them. It’s girls who are certain that they are right and that they have the power to order everyone else around.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that girls are bossy.  Gender-deniers notwithstanding, little girls model on their mother and, within the home, Moms are the bosses. To a young girl’s mind, this means it’s the female’s role to make and enforce rules. End of story — and changing labels will not change that reality.

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A matched set about Obama’s megalomania: From Ron Fournier (who has decided that there is no bloom left on the Obama rose), an indictment of the preening self-righteousness that leaves Obama blind to any information inconsistent with his sense of reality. And from Jeffrey Folks, another indictment of Obama’s “great man syndrome,” one that leaves him believing that he must make things happen, no matter how bad they are.

Winston Churchill thought he was special too (“We are all worms, but I believe that I am a glow-worm”), but he didn’t make the mistake of believing he was a god, or even the God. Perhaps that’s because he was raised within a religious tradition and, even if he was not devout, he knew that there was a divine presence bigger than he was. The problems begin when you have a man who believes, quote erroneously, that he really is a god (or, given the messianic language he and his followers use[d] about him, the God).

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Writing in the L.A. Times, Jonathan Turley, a left-of-center law professor again expresses concern about the way in which Obama is usurping Congress’s powers, and the way in which Congress (both Democrats and Republicans) meekly lets it happen. I put it on my Facebook, and my Leftist friends assiduously ignored it.

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HBO and SHO are increasingly trafficking in nude women, while Hollywood generally is delighting in the joys of lesbian lip locks, especially between actresses who deny being lesbian. Ed Morrissey talks about the sexual exploitation of women driving the trend. Julie Blindel, an open lesbian who comments on “lesbian chic,” adds her bit, which is that Hollywood cares little about advancing LGBTQ rights, and is infinitely more interested in catering for profit to the same male demographic that buys Penthouse. And so a culture sinks ever lower.

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Apropos low-sinking culture, I caught a millisecond of Rush today. He was talking to a 57-year-old man who is deeply depressed about America’s ability to recover from the low point she now faces (economically, national security, etc). Rush asked him if there was another time in his life when things were this bad and the man pointed to the end of the Carter presidency and beginning of the Reagan presidency. The difference, he felt, was debt, which is infinitely worse now. Rush, however, expressed an inchoate optimism that had him believing that an up-and-coming young generation will have had enough and fight back.

I disagree with Rush and side with the caller, although for a different reason than he expressed. What both the 57-year-old man and Rush ignored is the sea-change in American culture since the last really bad time in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Before the 21st century, no matter how bad things were, America had a huge, strong middle, ranging from working class to upper middle class.  This middle group was traditional: patriotic, hardworking, able to recognize external enemies, family-centric, capitalist. It was the middle class as America’s backbone.  Since then, that middle has been culturally destroyed.  The young ones, the ones upon whom Rush is relying, have no knowledge or understanding of an other, better, way to do things. This HBO demographic is incapable of either a 1950s or a 1980s social and economic comeback.

Think of it this way:  When George Orwell created Newspeak, his point was to show that, when you contract language, you contract ideas.  And without ideas, people cannot rebel against a status quo, because they are incapable of thinking of an alternative.  That contraction of ideas is precisely what has happened in the last 30 years.  Unless we can introduce ideas again, about patriotism, family, hard work, etc., nothing will change because the young generation lacks the mental landscape to envision change.

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A perfect example (from one of those benighted young people I spoke of) of “stupid is as stupid does.

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Leftist states vote for Obama. Leftist states have the worst income inequality. Hmmm. Could it be that tax and spend policies, rather than making everyone have access to economic success, concentrate wealth amongst a favored few cronies, leaving everyone else out in the cold? It’s certainly true in California’s basket-case, Democrat-run economy, where the rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and the middle class flees the state.

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Michelle Obama is taking her girls (and mother) on another un-frigging-believably expensive, taxpayer-funded vacation, this time to China. Even Marie Antoinette didn’t have it so good. She just got to head off to the Petite Trianon — and she still had her head cut off, a fate that (thankfully) will not await anyone in this administration, no matter how much they abuse the People’s good will.

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Yeah, we know that the IRS’s Lois Lerner is a bad girl. She’s also the face, the front-man, the scape-goat, the tip of the iceberg. It is ludicrous to believe that she was acting alone. The question remains whether her superiors, her peers, and her subordinates will also be called to account for turning the IRS, the most feared branch of the American government, into a partisan arm of the Obama administration.

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The Left lives in an alternate reality. The real reality is that the biggest spenders in American government by far, both state and local, are leftist unions. The first Republican-leaning donor doesn’t even hit the list until 17 donors down.

The Leftist reality is that the libertarian Kochs, who rank 59th on the donor list and who share many of the Left’s favorite liberal shibboleths (e.g., legalized pot), are the evil geniuses who control American government and they must be destroyed. That’s why the New York Times is applauding Harry Reid’s deeply disturbing attacks against the Kochs.

That a man with his hands near the levers of American power would deliberately target two individuals and try to destroy them has . . . yes, I’m going to say it . . . a Nazi feel to it. This is revolting. It’s not even McCarthy-esque. Sen. McCarthy at least went through the motions of having hearings, creating a simulacrum of Due Process.

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Speaking of unhinged from reality, here’s a good cartoon at Director Blue showing yet two more examples of the disconnect.

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All I can say is that, if this flight story happened with a modern Brit in the cockpit, the squeals coming out over the intercom would have drowned out the passengers’ cries.

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The Connecticut government is coming for its citizens’ guns. There’s a line being drawn here. Just as Obama is obliterating the line between his executive limitations and Congress’s role, Connecticut is seeing what it can get away with in terms of eviscerating the Second Amendment. I hope the state backs down, for this will not end well otherwise.

Found it on Facebook: Barack Obama, warrior for the middle class

Obama-warrior-middle-class

In other words, Moochelle’s dress costs more than a year’s income for a poor family.  This disconnect from reality and this utterly classless ostentation also explain Obama’s delightful “middle class” dinner for the socialist French president:

American osetra caviar “farmed from the estuaries of Illinois”
Pennsylvania quail eggs and a dozen varieties of American potatoes.
“Winter Garden Salad”
Dry-aged rib eye beef “sourced from a family-owned farm in Greeley, Colorado.”
Chocolate malted cake “presented in a geometric form,” using bittersweet chocolate from Hawaii, along with vanilla ice cream from Pennsylvania.
Wines from California and Washington state
Chardonnay from Monticello
Vermont maple-syrup fudge
Lavender shortbread cookies
“Cotton candy dusted with orange zest.”

Food fit for Marie Antoinette and friends.

Tuesday tidbits

Victorian posy of pansiesWhen I lived in England, though I neither smoked nor drank, I enjoyed hanging out in pubs.  They were congenial places where one could get a good game of darts (good for me, especially, because of that not-drinking bit).  Apparently pubs aren’t that much fun anymore, and the Brits can thank Labor for that.  Frankly, there are a lot of things that the Brits can “thank” Labour for, including the fact that the most popular boy’s name in England is Mohamed — and Mohameds aren’t known for hanging out in pubs making friends with the locals.

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I was speaking with a neighbor today about Common Core.  It’s so bad in Marin that, between the bullying (yes, peaceful Marin middle schoolers, especially those from the most liberal enclaves, are fearful bullies) and the curriculum disaster, she’s now home schooling her middle schooler.  I know she wouldn’t read what Ace wrote about the disaster that is Common Core, because she still thinks she’s a liberal, but she’d certainly agree with him if I could get her to read it.

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If you’re wondering what happens as Leftists make ever greater inroads into every facet of American culture, you need look no further than this story telling the terrible fate of a journalist who dared to point out that a transgender ex-man, current sort-of woman was also a liar.

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When I was a young lawyer, a study came out about the fact that plaintiffs in mass disasters (such as a bus or plane crash) had different outcomes depending upon the speed with which they settled (or didn’t settle).  Those who settled immediately got less money, but recovered quickly and got on with their lives.  Those who insisted on going to trial got more money, but recovered slowly and badly, and couldn’t get on with their lives.  These results were the same regardless of the relative severity of their injuries.  That is, a severely injured person who settled quickly would still do better than a less injured person who insisted on going to trial.  I thought of this study when I read about the perpetual victim status of the so-called Palestinian refugees who have been refusing to settle since 1948, and who live in abysmal conditions for that reason.

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And speaking of the perpetual Palestinian victims, the problem really isn’t Israel; it’s the Arabs (and Muslims).  Their fanatic antisemitism is a symptom of deeper dysfunctions and an excuse for refusing to confront them.

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When I took First Aid classes, I was told never to use a tourniquet.  Two recent wars have now taught us that this rule should only apply when there will be a long period between on-the-scene treatment and actual treatment.  Otherwise, why yes, tourniquets are a good thing.

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Let’s see:  Wendy Davis lies (although it’s sexist to point that out); Wendy Davis doesn’t understand the First Amendment and has a low threshold for criticism; and Wendy Davis thinks that she, whose only “hardship” was a young marriage and early divorce, understands suffering in a way that her Republican opponent doesn’t.  Or, as she says, he can’t speak about her lying and paranoia because he “hasn’t walked a day in my shoes.”  She’s right too.  Greg Abbott hasn’t walked a day in anybody’s shoes — because he’s a paraplegic.  Neo-neocon has more, much more, on what this says about Davis and modern feminism.

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Keith Koffler nails everything that’s wrong with the super-secret, star-studded, self-indulgent birthday party that Moochelle Obama threw for herself.  When I turned 50, I bought myself some chocolate Haagen Daaz and a good book, got extra kisses from my kids, and took my Mom out to lunch.  It was a good day.

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Finally, I want to introduce you to a website that you’ll like:  Election Projection, which is Scott Elliot’s baby.  He does a great job of analyzing probable election outcomes and, as he can prove, predicts them with remarkable accuracy.

The visible manifestation of narcissism in the White House — or how not to behave at a memorial service *UPDATED*

Obama at the mirrorOne of the best ways to describe a narcissist is to think of a not-very-nice 13-year-old kid housed in an adult body.  You know the type of 13-year-old I’m describing:  anger issues; impulse control issues; selfish-ness; a self-centered world view; chronic insecurity marked by cruelness and swagger; and the gnawing, nagging the sense that you have to hang with cool people because only they can reflect the true (cool) you.  The adult narcissist is able to refine, control, and disguise many of the less pleasant aspects of the adolescent mind, but if the narcissistic adult relaxes or is very angry, that immaturity leaks out.

The pictures making the rounds showing the Obamas’ behavior at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service perfectly illustrate the loss of control that narcissists suffer when they’re angry or too relaxed.  Keep in mind as you look at them that Barack and Michelle are not at the memorial in their individual capacities. They are there as the living embodiment of the American people. If that embodiment is anything to go by, we Americans are selfish, ill-mannered, and petty.

The first picture to make the rounds showed a relaxed Obama and an angry Michelle both forgetting how to behave at a memorial service.  He and British PM David Cameron found themselves on either side of Danish PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt, and one of them obviously said “Hey, guys, let’s take a selfie.” The three of them, blind to their status as representatives of their country, happily complied. Meanwhile, Michelle turned her eyes straight ahead and glared angrily:

Obama hamming it up at Mandela memorial

I am not saying that memorials have to be relentlessly grim, solemn affairs. Indeed, they can be very joyous celebrations of the deceased person’s life and of life itself. That joy, however, shouldn’t devolve into unseemly exhibitionism and selfishness, which is exactly what happened when this trio of world leaders whipped out the smart phone to memorialize . . . themselves.

As for Michelle, it’s insanely rude for an American representative to have a temper tantrum like that. Most people, when they saw that picture, assumed that Michelle was aware that Obama was engaging in rude behavior, and used her own ill-mannered behavior to set herself apart from that display. A subsequent series of pictures, though, might have shown that what really piqued Michelle was that her husband was sitting next to a laughing, pretty blonde, and was clearly basking in her attention.  When Obama left his seat to deliver his political attack on Republicans . . . oh, sorry, his memorial address, Michelle moved to interpose herself between Barack and Helle.

Michelle switches seats with Obama at Mandela memorial

It is a very sad day for America when this vulgar, exhibitionistic, narcissistic couple stands before the world as our representatives. It is what it is, though. Those who hate America will still hate it. And those who love America will feel sympathy for her sufferings.

UPDATE:  Brilliant headline at Drudge:

No selfie respect

Michelle Obama’s disappearing act . . . and weeds in her garden

Two news reports today that offer a problem and a solution.

Story 1:  Michelle Obama has vanished from the scene during the shutdown.  Without her ginormous staff, and without TV cameras aimed at her, she’s idle and useless.

Story 2:  Michelle Obama’s White House garden is going to rack and ruin, since the paid staff isn’t caring for it.  This is a waste of good food stock.

Solution:  Why doesn’t Michelle Obama take her forced down time and weed her garden?

I look forward to your answers to my simple question.

Thoughts about torture and our self-referential president

I finally got around to watching Zero Dark Thirty, the film about the decade-long hunt for bin Laden.  Before it came out, conservatives were concerned because the White House gave the filmmakers unprecedented access to information about the hunt and about the actual hit on bin Laden.  This opened up the possibility that (a) the movie would betray America’s security secrets and (b) the movie would become a pro-Obama piece of political propaganda.

I don’t know whether the first fear was realized, but the second certainly wasn’t.  Those who claim that the movie supports using torture to obtain information are correct.  The movie opens with audio of phone calls from people trapped in the Twin Towers, and then shifts to a torture site somewhere vaguely Middle Eastern looking.  The torturer is a CIA man.  The person being tortured is a money man for al Qaeda.  Having heard that audio, you are not sympathetic to the al Qaeda guy.

Because of the CIA’s torture tactics, the man gives them useful names.  This happens repeatedly, with al Qaeda members getting hung in chains, hit, subject to water torture, deprived of sleep and human dignity, etc., and eventually revealing names and phone numbers.  The movie makes it clear that they are not being tortured for fun.  They are being tortured to get them to yield information about their, and other people’s, role in killing 3,000 Americans.

The film also makes the point that this information is necessary.  Every so often, after showing CIA interrogations aimed at drawing out a little more information about al Qaeda, the film breaks in with news reports about the Khobar Tower bombing, or the London bombing, or the Islamabad Marriott bombing.  The implication is that it’s vitally necessary for the CIA to crack open al Qaeda’s notoriously closed infrastructure.

The CIA operatives in the movie are dismayed when the situation in Washington changes, making “enhanced” interrogation techniques impossible.  As one says when his boss demands that he get information, if they ask someone in Gitmo, he’ll just get lawyered up and the lawyer will pass on the question to al Qaeda, which can then use it to their advantage.  The only “anti-torture” argument in the movie is a 30 second or so snippet of President Obama saying torture is “not who we are.”

That’s not who we are?  What a funny way to frame a rather more fundamental argument:  Are we, as a society, willing to have our public servants use torture for certain limited purposes?  That’s the question, and the movie answers with a definitive “yes.”  If using torture will get information that can save hundreds, thousands or (G*d forbid) millions of lives, torture is not just appropriate, it’s necessary.  We don’t torture for pleasure or “to make a point,” we do it to save lives.

As for Obama’s that’s “not who we are” statement, I was struck then, as I always am, by how self-referential Barack and Michelle are.  They were at it again in Africa.  Michelle, the spoiled darling of a middle-class Chicago family, said that she’s just like the Senegalese (and before that, she was just like youths in Chicago’s worst ghettos).  I know she’s striving for empathy, but it just ends up looking narcissistic.

Obama is worse, though, because he is America’s official spokesman.  While in Senegal, the press asked him about his response to the Supreme Court’s decisions opening the door for national gay marriage.  (By the way, I like Andrew Klavan’s take.)  Obama, of course, approves.  Not only did he say that, he used the question as an opportunity to talk about gay rights as human rights.  This is actually an important thing, because gays are subject to terrible abuse in both Muslim and Christian Africa.  No matter how one feels about gay marriage or homosexuality, the torture, imprisonment, and murder gays experience throughout Africa is a true crime against human rights.

With the gay marriage question, Obama — who is the greatest orator since Lincoln, right? — had the opportunity to make a profound statement about basic principles of human dignity.  Instead, he embarked upon a wandering rumination about his feelings and his thoughts:

The issue of gays and lesbians, and how they’re treated, has come up and has been controversial in many parts of Africa. So I want the African people just to hear what I believe, and that is that every country, every group of people, every religion have different customs, different traditions. And when it comes to people’s personal views and their religious faith, et cetera, I think we have to respect the diversity of views that are there.

But when it comes to how the state treats people, how the law treats people, I believe that everybody has to be treated equally. I don’t believe in discrimination of any sort. That’s my personal view. And I speak as somebody who obviously comes from a country in which there were times when people were not treated equally under the law, and we had to fight long and hard through a civil rights struggle to make sure that happens.

So my basic view is that regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation, when it comes to how the law treats you, how the state treats you — the benefits, the rights and the responsibilities under the law — people should be treated equally. And that’s a principle that I think applies universally, and the good news is it’s an easy principle to remember.

Every world religion has this basic notion that is embodied in the Golden Rule — treat people the way you want to be treated. And I think that applies here as well. (Emphasis added.)

No wonder that the Senegalese president Mackey Sall had no compunction about delivering a smackdown to the American president. And I do mean a smackdown, since he told Obama that he was a hypocrite to say that every culture has its own way of doing things, and Obama totally respects that, it’s just that the American way is better:

These issues are all societal issues basically, and we cannot have a standard model which is applicable to all nations, all countries — you said it, we all have different cultures. We have different religions. We have different traditions. And even in countries where this has been decriminalized and homosexual marriage is allowed, people don’t share the same views.

Obama is a petty mind with a bully pulpit.

Michelle Obama confuses herself with dead Chicago teen

(I wrote this for Mr. Conservative, but it’s another one that could just as easily have been written here.  Indeed, for the writing I do at Mr. Conservative, it’s unusually snarky . Michelle really rubs me the wrong way.)

When the Clintons were in the White House, they loved to insult their political opponents by quoting to them Einstein’s classic definition of “insanity” — “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Under that standard, Michelle Obama is quite obviously insane. Despite the fact that Chicago pairs the strictest gun urban control laws in the nation with the highest urban gun homicide rate in the nation, Michelle took time out from her heavy-duty social schedule to appear in Chicago and tearfully beg for more gun control.

Making this display of Einstein-defined insanity even more appalling, Michelle added to it the typical Obama habit of inserting herself into the story, front and center (because, of course, the Obamas are the most important people in the world, at least in their own minds). While Bill Clinton felt your pain, Michelle feels only her own. When she spoke of Hadiya Pendleton, a teenager who performed at Obama’s Second Inauguration and was soon after killed by gun-fire on Chicago’s strictly gun-controlled streets, Michelle just couldn’t keep herself out of the narrative:

Hadiya Pendleton was me and I was her. But I got to grow up and go to Princeton and Harvard Law School and have a career and a family and the most blessed life I could ever imagine. And Hadiya, well we know that story. Just a week after she performed at my husband’s inauguration, she went to a park with some friends and got shot in the back.

What does that even mean? It sounds as if Michelle had a Beatles’ flashback and was trying to sing I am the Walrus (“I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.”) More likely, though, that mess of words is just a terrible and typical example of Michelle’s “me-me-me” approach to governance. Even in the Valley of the Shadow of a child’s death, it’s all about Michelle’s life, or her alternative life, or her hallucinatory life.

Worse than that, Michelle wrapped up this narcissistic wallow by offering what she claims is the only cure for the horror of Chicago’s homicide rate: Even stricter gun control laws in Chicago. There’s that Einstein-esque insanity. Stricter gun control ensures that Chicago’s violence continues as the bad guys know with certainty that their potential victims, or the community’s potential heroes, have all been disarmed.

But here’s the really irony of it all. Hadiya may be Michelle and Michelle may be Hadiya, but Michelle never travels an inch out of her home without an armed guard surrounding her. Her children get guards too, wherever they go. If Michelle really is Hadiya, and vice versa, the very least Michelle could do is to ensure that Hadiya, and all the other enthusiastic, innocent Hadiyas in Chicago, get the same Second Amendment rights that Michelle freely claims for herself.

If you’re interested in reading about other grotesque examples of liberal hypocrisy, be sure to check out this list of the 25 ridiculous things gun hating liberals have said. And if you want to learn more about the appalling ignorance that powers the Progressive press for the Second Amendment’s total destruction, you need to know that Obama thought that the Sandy Hook shooter was using an automatic, rather than a semi-automatic; that a legislator in Colorado had no idea gun magazines could be reloaded; and that Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns created an ad using an actor who’d obviously never handled a gun.

There’s something either unpleasant or fishy about Michelle’s setting for delivering the Best Picture Oscar *UPDATED*

[UPDATE:  Okay, I knew my theory was way too wacky to be true, although I had fun writing it up.  Although the White House didn't list it on the official schedule (because Thomas Lifson checked), I should have remembered that the Obama's were hosting the annual Governor's dinner -- the one at which Chris Christie got the royal treatment and Obama kicked out reporters when things got interesting (and I'm sure they exited peacefully baa-ing, as one would expect from Obama's sheeple media.

Incidentally, if something fish is going on with Michelle, this might be it.]

Many have commented upon Michelle Obama being beamed in to present the Best Picture Oscar.  It’s certainly a cheapening of the dignity of the White House, not to mention that it’s yet another creepy chapter in the Obama cult of personality.

What I noticed was that Michelle is surrounded by a military entourage.  What’s with that?

I’m not the only one who thought Michelle’s military setting was peculiar.  Over at American Thinker, Thomas Lifson is also trying to figure that one out:

Speaking of that venue, who were those young men and woman wearing uniforms with braids, framing Mrs. Obama?

I don’t know much about uniforms, but they look kind of military to me. If that’s the case, what kind of event was going on at the White House that night? The President’s schedule doesn’t include any mention of a formal event at the White House.

By the time the program was over, it was almost midnight, so I am pretty sure the president wasn’t out playing golf. I wonder what was going on in the First Family’s residence that night?

I agree — there’s something weird going on here.  Was the White House having its own private Academy Awards party?  A lot of people do that, but what’s with dragging the military into it?

Here’s a bizarre thought, one that undoubtedly proves that I’ve had too much chocolate this morning:  The Academy makes a huge deal out of the fact that results are unknown right up until the very minute the presenter reads them out loud.  Is it possible that this was staged, and that Michelle actually filmed this statement hours or days before?  After all, this is a make-believe presidency working closely with the chief city of The Land of Make Believe.

Of course, my little theory would require that those young men and women in uniform (Marine and Navy, I believe) either to be complicit in a fraud or, perhaps, be fraudulent themselves — that is, be actors playing dress-up in uniforms.  In other words, my little theory is a very big stretch.

It certainly would be a good scandal, of the type that would directly affect Hollywood, if it turned out that this was a fake.  I’ll admit that, while trickery is unlikely, it’s still incredibly distasteful to see the American military serve as a backdrop to Hollywood.

Deconstructing straw men arguments about the way conservatives view Obama

Paul Brandus decided he’d had enough of the innumerable lies about Obama floating through the blogosphere, so he did some research and came up with a post:  “Deconstructing the 5 most ridiculous myths about Barack Obama.”  Unfortunately for him, he forgot the cardinal rule of attacking your enemy:  Know your enemy.  Without that knowledge, Brandus managed to construct a series of straw men, which he then heroically destroyed.

The first straw man Brandus destroyed was the myth that Obama has played more golf than any president in history.  He proudly points out that Eisenhower played more than 800 rounds in eight years, while Obama has played only 100 rounds in four years.

That would be a very good deconstruction if Obama’s historic golf-playing habits were the issue.  But that’s not the issue.  Had Brandus had been paying attention to the opposition, instead of making up straw men, he would have known that the reason conservatives focused on obama’s golf was the fact that the MSM obsessed relentlessly about George W. Bush’s golf playing habits.  Before Bush came along, I doubt anyone cared about presidential R&R.  But the press just couldn’t get enough of the stereotype of the out-of-touch, stupid, rich conservative out on the links hitting balls.  It was for this reason, and this reason alone that, when Obama took office, conservatives liked to point out that Obama played much more golf in four years than the media-beleaguered Bush did in eight.

Brandus’ next straw man was his challenge tp the myth that Obama has taken more vacation time than any other president in history.  I’ll give Brandus this — he’s thorough.  He’s tracked presidential vacation times all the way back through John Adams (who took time off to care for his sick wife, which really doesn’t constitute a vacation).

Once again, though, Brandus completely missed the point.  Conservatives’ major grievance isn’t with Obama’s vacations, probably because conservatives understand, as Brandus pedantically pointed out, that president’s don’t leave the job, they just change location.  What conservatives decry is Mrs. Obama’s frequent and very, very expensive vacations.  She doesn’t just head off to Camp David or a family ranch in order to get a break from Washington (something that conservatives, being nice people, would understand).  Instead, she jets all over the world at enormous taxpayer expense.  That would be bad enough at the best of times, but it really irks people that she’s living the high life on the public dime, even as we go through the worst economic times since the Great Depression.  I notice that Brandus didn’t address the history of First Lady vacations.

You’d think that, having built up and then knocked down two straw men, Brandus would have been exhausted and abandon the effort.  You clearly underestimate his stamina.  Straw man number three:  Obama shows his true colors by not going to Arlington cemetery.  Once again, Brandus dug out the statistics, showing how Eisenhower practically never went there, right through GWB, who often went there.

The point that Brandus missed (and that he would understand if he pulled a David Mamet and actually read information from the other side) is that conservatives view Obama’s visits to Arlington as proxy statements for his commitment to the military.  No one doubted Eisenhower’s commitment to the military.  Not only was he career military, but he was the Allies’ highest military commander during WWII.  In addition, Eisenhower was president during peace time.  Obama, however, is (a) a wartime president, with troops dying under his command and (b) he’s shown remarkable ignorance about and hostility to the American military.  Conservatives haven’t forgotten how he accused our military of being baby killers while he was a candidate.  They paid attention when he talked about “corpse” men.  They notice when he couldn’t keep his heroes straight.  And just recently, they paid a whole lot of attention to the fact that he made no effort to rescue besieged Americans in Benghazi.  It is against this intellectual backdrop that conservatives read additional meaning into Obama’s avoiding Arlington even once.

For the Arlington “myth,” I’ll concede the facts to Brandus (he correctly listed the number of times various presidents went to Arlington).  He still failed on this one, though, because he does not understand what Arlington means, and why it matters with this president more than it did with the others.

When it comes to the “visiting” Israel myth, Brandus showed precisely the same conceptual problem he did with Arlington visits.  The myth he debunked is that “Obama has never visited Israel as president, which shows he doesn’t give a damn about it.” Brandus had to admit that Obama hasn’t visited Israel, but pointed out that other presidents never visited it either during their presidency. (His research on this is so thorough, I almost though he’d list those presidents going back to George Washington who haven’t visited Israel.)

What Brandus didn’t do, though, is debunk the fact that, when it comes to Israel, Obama “doesn’t give a damn about it.” As with visits to Arlington, Obama’s failure to visit Israel is symbolic of a presidency that’s shown enormous disdain for the Jewish state. To his credit, Obama hasn’t reneged on Bush era promises to sell arms to Israel. Other than that, though, he spent the first three years of his presidency picking fights with and publicly demeaning Israel. I won’t give the whole laundry list, but it includes insulting Netanyahu on open mike, picking a fight about developments within the Jewish part of Jerusalem, setting the pre-1967 borders as the starting point for a negotiation, having his Secretary of State spend 45 minutes screaming at Israel’s prime minister, making more extreme demands about Jerusalem’s status than any other president, etc. Against this backdrop of manifest hostility to Israel, it’s no surprise that Israel’s friends see his failure to visit the Jewish state (especially when that’s contrasted with his visits to the Arab world) as just the most visible drop in the anti-Israel bucket.

So, as with Arlington, Brandus’ mastery of the facts (this president went there X times and the other went there Y times) completely missed the point: Obama treats Israel badly, so his failure to visit is added to the list of insults.

And finally, Brandus tackled the tax myth, which he characterizes as “taxes under Obama are at an all time high.”  How dumb does Brandus think conservatives are?  We know that’s not true.  We know that the top marginal tax rate in the 1950s was higher — and we think that was a bad thing.

Conservatives believe that limited government is a virtue, and that keeping as much money in the private sector as possible is the best way to enrich everyone in the nation by raising the overall standard of living.  The quarrel right now isn’t about taxes, it’s about spending.  Obama has outspent all other presidents in history put together.  To pay for this spending binge, Obama and the Democrats have said that we must raise taxes.  What conservatives say is we must decrease spending and we must get money back into the private sector so that it can create the wealth necessary to pay for the debt burden that Obama has placed upon this country.  Raising taxes on producers and creators — which is what’s going to happen come January — will decrease their ability to produce and create.  This in turn will decrease wealth in the private sector, thereby making it more difficult for the government to raise the money it needs just to break even on debt payments.

Think of it this way:  if the government has an 80% tax rate, but people only have $100, the government gets only $80 and the people are left with too little to create even another $100 in wealth the next year.  On the other hand, if the government has a 30% tax rate, which allows people to create $1000, the government gets $300, while the people are left with a substantially $700 to create newer and greater wealth in the next year.  And yes, I made up those numbers, but I do believe in the Laffer curve, which is a more sophisticated take on my simplistic example.  There’s a sweet spot out there, where the government gets enough in taxes to function in an appropriately limited, but still efficient, way, and taxes are still low enough to encourage the wealth creators.  Obama, with his Big Government ideology, doesn’t believe in that sweet spot.  He believes that government does things best, so that the best way to govern is to fund government.

Brandus is five for five:  five failures to understand conservative thinking led him to debunk five straw men.  What a waste of his intellectual energy and time.

Cross-posted at Brutally Honest

Michelle Obama — one unhappy vacation after the other

In her speech, Michelle makes it clear that, if we’re not enjoying the finer things in life, she can’t be happy when she enjoys the finer things in life.  Nevertheless, she did manage 16 luxury vacations at taxpayer’s expense over the course of just three years:

Marie Antoinette apparently never said “Let them eat cake.” Michelle Obama pretty much just did.

Hat tip: The Political Commentator