The Bookworm Beat — trying to be upbeat and failing edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingThe last few days have been perfectly nice, but without repose. My brain churns frantically, but I don’t get the time to process the information through my keyboard. My apologies.

I think things will even out a little in the next few days (although that may just be wishful thinking on my part). Still, as frantic as the last few days have been, I actually have something to show for my efforts, right down to my dogs’ unusually fresh breath (I added carrots and yogurt to the usual routine of brushing their teeth).

On that happy note, to the news!

Another dissatisfied Obamacare customer

My son spent some quality time with our neighbors who are just about the loveliest people you could ever hope to find. They’re also ardent Democrats and Obama supporters. Or at least, they were ardent supporters. My son told me that one of the parents was grousing furiously about Obamacare, which is costing their family an extra $4,000 this year — and that’s $4,000 that they don’t have.

Add their personal tale to the long list of Obamacare woes, including the fact that Obamacare is not generally a hit, with enrollment numbers coming in far below administration projections.  I only wish, as I always do, that people would have realized that it’s all a con before the 2012 elections, not after.

It’s not what you say; it’s how you say it

Lots of my Leftist Facebook friends recently ran a poster showing that George Bush actually took more vacations than Barack Obama. I’m sure this is true. The problem, though, is that Obama and his family vacation like Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, something taxpayers find tacky. No quiet time at their own remote property or at Camp David for the Obamas.  Instead, they’re jaunting off to multimillion-dollar hotels and estates all over the world. Even worse, when it comes to Obama himself (not his family), Obama is heading off for ostentatious vacations just when he should be looking busy. Jonathan Tobin sums it up nicely:

While no one can say that Obama—or any president for that matter—doesn’t work hard, he has a habit of acting as if the normal rules of political behavior don’t apply to him. This president has spent more days golfing than any of his recent predecessors. While George W. Bush spent more days away from the White House—principally at his Texas ranch or at the family compound at Kennebunkport, Maine, both of which functioned routinely as little White Houses—Obama has never shown he cares much about the optics of being seen recreating while terrible things are happening. Bush stopped playing golf in 2003 after the war in Iraq began principally because he believed it didn’t look right for the president to be strolling the links while Americans faced death abroad. Obama has no such compunctions.

The timing is also a problem. It can be argued that there is something bad happening somewhere on the globe every day of the year. But there is something particularly egregious about Obama loafing around while the successful outcome in the Iraq War that he inherited from Bush is transformed into a victory for Islamist terrorists.

As I’m constantly saying to the kids, it’s not always what you do, it’s also how you do it.

Is Obama bringing identity politics to the Middle East?

Maybe Paul Mirengoff is being picky . . . and maybe he’s not. He’s wondering why, with ISIS slaughtering everyone in its path, Obama was moved to act mercifully only towards the Yazidi. Mirengoff’s conclusion: identity politics strikes Iraq. The Yazidi are more “genuine” and “ethnic” than run-of-the-mill Christians and “apostate” Muslims caught in the maw of the ISIS killing machine.

Yes, ISIS looks bad in its PR, but that’s its point

Ian Tuttle is correct that ISIS is not doing itself any publicity favors by boastfully publishing pictures of its horrible depredations, everything from mass slaughter, to crucifixions, to small children proudly portraying severed heads. I’m less sanguine than he, though, that these pictures will help defeat ISIS. In the theater of battle, the images are doing a good job of making opponents run away. Moreover, here in the West, we’ve already proven that, if Islamists threaten and protest, we will instantly back down. These pictures are only going to increase our spinelessness.

Can you compromise with religious absolutists?

I’ve tried as hard as possible to ignore the appallingly vapid, self-serving, viciously partisan interview Barack Obama had with Tom Friedman, a sycophant in chief. What I couldn’t ignore, though, was the terrible agreement between the two about victory, or its absence. Friedman summed up Obama’s view as follows:

Obama made clear that he is only going to involve America more deeply in places like the Middle East to the extent that the different communities there agree to an inclusive politics of no victor/no vanquished. (Emphasis added.)

That’s an accurate summary. What Obama, always yeasty and puffy in his wording, said was this (and I’ve included the preceding self-serving Friedman riff):

The only states doing well, like Tunisia, I’ve argued [says Friedman], have done so because their factions adopted the principle of no victor, no vanquished. Once they did, they didn’t need outside help.

“We cannot do for them what they are unwilling to do for themselves,” said the president of the factions in Iraq. “Our military is so capable, that if we put everything we have into it, we can keep a lid on a problem for a time. But for a society to function long term, the people themselves have to make decisions about how they are going to live together, how they are going to accommodate each other’s interests, how they are going to compromise. When it comes to things like corruption, the people and their leaders have to hold themselves accountable for changing those cultures…. … We can help them and partner with them every step of the way. But we can’t do it for them.”

Obama seems unable to contemplate an absolute ideology that doesn’t believe in compromise. For him, the only allowable absolutist ideology is his own, which sees a supine West yielding gracefully to the “reasonable” demands of an ascendant Third World.  For radical Islamists, however, the only game in town is total military victory. To them, compromise is weakness, inviting more attacks. It’s very frightening to have a president who is so rigid in his belief system that he’s unable to acknowledge that there’s an enemy out there even worse than the Republicans.

Is it real or is it satire?  Only the Obama administration knows for sure

With a president such as ours, one who has a State Department that believes that hashtags actually accomplish something, it’s often hard to separate satire from real news. I think that if you go to this link regarding the prayer campaign the administration is starting, you’ll be able to determine whether it’s satire or not but, nowadays, maybe I’m wrong in that supposition.

The very real power of prayer

Still, prayer can have quite a power beyond anything we can imagine. In a report about the attack that killed Lt. Hadar Goldin in Israel’s war with Hamas, comes this most amazing and moving story:

In the midst of this attack, a second force of IDF soldiers–which had gone into a mosque looking for weapons, explosives, and rockets– encountered a female suicide bomber who was about to detonate the belt she wore, which would have resulted in the deaths of the soldiers. One of the soldiers instinctively recited the opening words of the holiest Jewish prayer “Shema Yisrael”. The female suicide bomber hesitated and began trembling, giving the soldiers a chance to grab her and disable the device.

The soldiers then took her prisoner and turned her over to a counter-intelligence unit. Their investigation uncovered that the female suicide bomber’s mother was a Jew who had married a Palestinian in Israel and, after the wedding, was smuggled against her will into Gaza. There she lived a life filled with abuse and humiliation, and was basically a captive. In addition to the female suicide bomber, there were two smaller children as well. An armored force went in and rescued the two small children.

For more on the Shema, go here.

Hillary Clinton would have been different, but probably just as bad

Megan McArdle thinks Hillary Clinton would have been a better president than Obama simply because she’s more willing to play with the other kids on the playground. That is, says McArdle, she wouldn’t have been as dismissive of Republican and Tea Party concerns. I often agree with McArdle but in this case I wonder. After all, it was Hillary who thought up the whole “vast right wing conspiracy.” The Clintons are just as corrupt and paranoid as Obama. Certainly Hillary would have made different decisions, and these might have been less doctrinaire and more intelligent, but she’s not any more interested in true partisanship than Obama is.

Shovel — or spoon — ready jobs

Milton Friedman, when asked about “shovel ready jobs,” famously said if the point is just to keep people busy, the government should be handing out spoons, not shovels. The Welsh were apparently listening closely, since they’ve created make-work jobs that are the functional equivalent of tiny little teaspoons to dig big holes.

Incidentally, if that image seems familiar to you, think back to Norton Juster’s wonderful The Phantom Tollbooth. There, our intrepid heroes, Milo, Tock, and the Humbug, meet the Terrible Trivium, who wastes their precious time having them do such meaningless tasks as filling buckets with eye-droppers or digging holes with needles. As he says, “If you only do the easy and useless jobs, you’ll never have to worry about the important ones which are so difficult. You simply won’t have the time, for there is always something to do to keep you from what you should really be doing.”

The terrible trivium

Robin Williams never let politics blind him to our common humanity

John Nolte almost gets it right:

Williams was political — a heavy donor to Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Boxer, and Al Franken, but never offensive. Politics would sometimes rear its head in his stand-ups, but the jibes at Republicans were good-natured, not caustic; the kind of jokes Johnny Carson told.

In fact, when I last saw Williams on stage here in Marin (he showed up unexpectedly at a local comedy club), his anti-Bush and anti-Cheney jokes were just as nasty as any other Leftist comedian’s. Even worse, they weren’t funny.

What made this mindless political attack almost irrelevant I thought was that Williams never let his politics prevent him from seeing the troops as people in need of laughter, rather than monsters in the Bush war machine.  Nolte has a lovely quotation to support this principle:

When the wars came in 2002, without seeking personal attention or publicity, he was overseas with The Boys. Over the course of the decade he would visit 13 countries and entertain 90,000 service men and women. A retired General told ABC News:

After his shows, he’d stick around, making personal connections with service members. Retired Gen. Carter Ham respected Williams’ character.

“He would go to the guard towers, he’d got the dining facilities, he’d got the security police who couldn’t come to the shows because they were on duty. And he would spend time with them individually. That was very moving,” Ham said.

The Bookworm Beat – Not quite the end of the world edition

Woman writingI’m sneaking in a few minutes between appointments and telephone calls. It’s been a crazy day with appointments, endless telephone calls, contractors, and a house full of my family members (and, of course, the kids’ friends). Down time happens sporadically and I have problems focusing. I’ve got tons of good stuff here, though, so I’m ignoring my phone, telling the family to wait, and sharing things with you.

** 1 **

From where I sit, today’s big news is the fact that Hamas broke the cease fire practically within minutes of its going into effect. Two more young Israeli men have died. Worse, 23-year-old Hadar Ben Leiah has been kidnapped.

Why is Hadar’s kidnapping worse even than death? Well, first, Israel now proceeds with the knowledge that, whatever steps they take, Hamas will claim that Hadar’s eventually fate will be on Israel’s head. Second, in the midst of a hot war, everyone in Israel understands that Hadar’s fate will be unpleasant. If there’s one thing at which Arabs excel, it’s unpleasant fates.  He is in my prayers.

Small wonder then, that Gershon Baskin, Israel’s top negotiator regarding Hamas, tweeted out an uncompromising message to the world:

** 2 **

What do you bet, though, that the Obama administration will continue to push for an outcome entirely favorable to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, with no regard for Israel’s security concerns?

Sure, the administration is making big noises about an “unconditional release,” and sounding upset that “individuals” broke the ceasefire. The fundamental fact, though, is that, in this relationship, little details like broken promises, murder, and kidnapping won’t dissuade a Leftist administration that views Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood with the starry-eyed awe of a teeny-bopper getting her first look at a teen idol. The fact that the teen idol is untalented, dissolute, and vicious won’t affect her. This is love — stupid, naive, credulous, doormat-like love.

While most pro-Hamas people are useful idiots (witness the Hollywood types who can’t resist weighing in), there are those in the Left who have a deep, abiding love for Hamas. David French knows what this love is: Evil. I agree. After all, Hamas is not shy about trumpeting its genocidal ambitions.

** 3 **

If you want to see what Obama’s trajectory is, just look at the UN. Even as it condemns Hamas for violating the ceasefire, it’s urging another ceasefire and telling Israel to lay down her arms. Worse, it’s castigating Israel for refusing to share her Iron Dome defense system with the terrorists who are lobbing thousands of rockets at her civilians.

Believe it or not, though, when it comes to the Iron Dome defense, Obama is going one better than the UN. Although I can’t find the link right now (when I do, I’ll update this), the same system that saved Israel is also becoming a stick with which Obama can beat it. It turns out that, while Israel has the Iron Dome, an agreement with the U.S. means that only America has the rockets the Iron Dome uses — and Obama is trying to attack conditions to resupply the Iron Dome arsenal, which is nearly depleted.

Einstein famously defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Frankly, though, I don’t think what we’re seeing here is insanity, because the presumes a certain naive, ineffective good will behind the effort. What we’re seeing here is systemic support for evil. The UN and Obama may pay lip service by disavowing especially visible bad acts, but the fact is that they don’t expect different results because they like these results.

** 4 **

There is no doubt anymore in my mind, though, that Hamas must be utterly destroyed. Yes, something worse may fill the vacuum, and then Israel will have to destroy that something worse. In the meantime, though, Israel can no longer function with this blood-thirsty predator in her airspace and under her land.

Jeffrey Goldberg thinks that Hadar’s kidnapping was the final straw for the Israelis. They are 100% behind destroying Hamas utterly.

** 5 **

And maybe if Hamas goes, then Israel can work on getting rid of UNRWA, a UN agency dedicated to the care and feeding of Palestinians to the Nth generation. Of course, even that isn’t simple. As The Times of Israel explains, if UNWRA pulls out, Israel suddenly becomes entirely responsible for a people made helpless by more than 60 years of ceding their independence and power to terrorists and bureaucracies.

** 6 **

Here’s one possibly good thing, though: I’m hearing from others who have observed what I’ve observed, which is that, this time around, barring the usual media bias towards Israel and the usual idiotic celebratory bloviating, there’s a different feeling in the air.

On my “real me” Facebook page, those who support Israel (Republicans and conservatives, of course), are flooding their feeds with pro-Israel information. Meanwhile, the DemProgs I know are totally silent. There are no posts explaining why Gazans are victims. There’s just . . . crickets. Danny Lemieux has also noticed that, at his place of worship, the usual reflexive anti-Israel feeling is lacking.

Have any of you noticed the same?

** 7 **

England was never philo-Semitic, but it used to be only kind of passively anti-Semitic. The Brits would make remarks about “dirty Jews,” but they wouldn’t do anything about it.

How Political Correctness and the unending influx of Muslims has changed that. England’s largest grocery store chain is boycotting Israeli goods. As if that’s not enough, its movie chains are barring non-Muslims. If there are any sane people left in Britain, I urge you to find a place to shop other than your local Tesco. It was never a very good store anyway. And you might want to think about abandoning the movies too.

** 8 **

From Obama’s point of view, there are probably several good things about the Israel-Hamas war: He can bully Israel; Jews are dying; he has the opportunity to advance the Muslim Brotherhood cause; and no one is paying attention to Obamacare. If they did, they’d notice that it is, as its critics promised it would be, an absolute disaster. At enormous cost, and with tremendous upheaval, it is decimating the middle class by depriving it of insurance as prices rise and insurers pull out of the market. Yes, some previously uninsured are now covered, but there were always less costly and destructive ways to make that happen.

At least you can amuse yourself learning about Obama Golf.

** 9 **

The only good thing coming from the utter chaos Obama has ushered in during this, his second term, is the fact that voters are seeing Republicans as a good, even necessary, alternative.

The bad thing, of course, is that our Congressional morons are a bunch of spineless wimps, as is perfectly demonstrated by the border bill fiasco. Back in the old days, Republicans actually deported massive numbers of illegal aliens — and weren’t ashamed of that fact. They put Americans first and considered borders sacred.

** 10 **

Meanwhile, even as the world goes up in flames around us, our borders collapse, and bad actors flex their muscles, the Obama administration continues working tirelessly to render our military ineffective and, as to those troops serving in this dangerous world, helpless.

** 11 **

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a moron, and a sexist one at that. (If you’re blocked by the WSJ pay wall, I understand that you can do a Google search for this and other WSJ articles, and access the article through the Google link.)

** 12 **

Is Joe Lieberman the last honest Democrat? Reading him take the Obama administration to task for its massive failings abroad, including its betrayal of all of America’s traditional friends, one suspects that he is.

** 13 **

We’re now in the sixth year of the Obama Depression. Although his administration likes to point to some increases in employment numbers. These increases, however, are not good news. Labor market participation is at its lowest ebb in 40 years; the major beneficiaries of the uptick in employment are recent immigrants, not long-time Americans, and most of the jobs are in the minimum wage sector. Keep that last item in mind as you read how the Obama National Labor Relations Board is trying to destroy the franchise system that provides employment so many workers at McDonald’s and other chain franchises.

** 14 **

The thought of Joe Biden — Mr. Grope Every Woman I See — skinny-dipping is just revolting. No wonder the female Secret Service agents aren’t happy. Interestingly enough, just today I received an email with images of animals that have seen their owners naked. I can only imagine how much more extreme the response would be if they saw Joe Biden naked:

Naked animals 1

Naked animals 7

Naked animals 6

Naked animals 5

Naked animals 4

Naked animals 3

Naked animals 2

** 15 **

And a handful of more serious pictures….

Isn't it weird

Profiling weapons

Just because he's black

We finance terrorists

Guilty as charged

Meaning of Palestinian

What would Jesus do

Most interesting sentence

Thursday afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesI really need to get a more innovative and exciting name for these round-ups, a name that will convey just how exciting these round-ups are. I find writing posts easy and naming them hard.

Perhaps you guys have a witty suggestion. I envision something along the lines of “The [Clever Name] : [primary topic] edition.” For example, “News from the Backlines: Israel edition.” It’s got to be something that will apply to every round-up post I do during the day, and I’d love it if it was witty.

Meanwhile, I’ll abandon my boring efforts at clever names, and try to entice you with scintillating tidbits about the world today:

** 1 **

It appears that the border bill, like Frankenstein’s monster, still lives. It’s bad, though, bad to the legislative bone. The National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers has raised serious, substantive concerns.

** 2 **

Dan Gordon, who writes about the current war and the view from inside the IDF, is quickly becoming one of my favorite writers. He has another wonderful post, this time about one of the men who ensures that the IDF is a humanist organization, no matter the labels the Israel-haters affix to it.

** 3 **

America has always used Israel as a pawn. During the Cold War, it was one of the players against the Soviet Union, so both America (the chess master) and Israel (the pawn) were on the side of the angels.

Obama, however, has turned the game on its head. He still views Israel as a pawn, but his game plan is to help the Muslim Brotherhood become ascendant. And if it doesn’t scare you that our president now feels secure enough to throw all his weight behind the Muslim Brotherhood, you have nerves of steel, my friend.

** 4 **

My thinking is that we can stop a lot of the deaths in Gaza if the media voluntarily stops indulging in its fetish for snuff photos of children allegedly killed by Israel. Of course, pigs will fly when that happens.

Rob Miller has a different idea, which is that the UN can stop the killing of civilians by creating an opportunity for them to leave Gaza for temporary shelter in Egypt’s Sinai desert. Rob understands that this, too, will happen when pigs fly, especially since Ban Kai-Moon has joined in the media’s fetish for dead kids. In any event, Egypt doesn’t want even more Muslim Brotherhood supporters on its soil.

Meanwhile, Instapundit likes Matthew Yglesias’ idea: Just kick the Palestinians out. Israel should have done that back in 1967. The problem is that the Arab world wants them as little as the Israelis do. Palestinians, who have been nursing the grievances under UNRWA’s care for more than 60 years, are impossible. They just are.

** 6 **

For those naifs on the Left who can’t understand why the cycle of violence won’t stop, this video provides the answer: A sweet, smiling, soft-voiced young woman, whose child was the beneficiary of a life-saving procedure in an Israeli hospital, explains that there is no compromise. Palestinians must have Jerusalem, and whether children and others die in the process is irrelevant, because her culture is fine with death. Insha’allah, and all that you know.

** 7 **

Slowly, slowly, the media is beginning to find it impossible to cover for Hamas lies.

** 8 **

A camera’s eye view of what an IDF soldier sees in Gaza. I got frightened and queasy watching. My suspicion is that the only people in America who can viscerally understand what this video shows are those who served in Fallujah:

** 9 **

One of Israel’s problems with Gaza is that it’s afraid that, if it clears Gaza out, the sequel will be worse. In other countries, when one clears a dictatorship out, something looking remarkably like freedom often takes its place. Only in the Muslim world is the deposed dictatorship replaced by something more deadly and vicious.

** 10 **

I mentioned in my earlier post the fact that the world’s media cares only when Jews kill, even if they do so in self-defense. The fact that Mosul’s Christian population has been utterly destroyed is uninteresting to them. (By the way, if you can’t get through to the Commentary blog because you don’t have a subscription, think seriously about getting one. It’s $20 per year for access to the magazine and the blog, which is an incredible bargain.)

** 11**

A newly unearthed interview of Bill Clinton made one day before 9/11 has him saying that the only thing holding him back from killing bin Laden was the risk to civilians.  This statement reveals something very important: Sometimes when we try too hard to protect the innocents, we enable evil to go unchecked. Unchecked evil, of course, kills innocents in numbers a good society’s tentative efforts at evil-control can never achieve.

** 12 **

This economic parable is an old one, but the presidential spin is charming:

** 13 **

Rich Weinstein is the man who exposed Jonathan Gruber as a liar. Even more importantly, the video evidence he unearthed showed that Congress intended to limit subsidies to state exchanges. Learn more about Weinstein here.

** 14 **

And if you don’t believe that Gruber is a liar, just watch this:

** 15 **

Leftist WaPo blogger Greg Sargent was so excited to show that one draft of the Obamacare bill included federal subsidies that he completely forgot that, if Congress excludes that language from the final bill, the law mandates that Congress is presumed to have done so intentionally. Charles C. W. Cooke sets Sargent straight.

** 16 **

Ebola is scary and, in a completely interconnected world and one that, moreover, has wars raging all over and porous borders everywhere, it’s just a plane ride, a refugee crisis, or a border crossing away. To channel Elmer Fudd, “Be afwaid. Be vewy afwaid.”

** 17 **

AJStrata thinks that the Democrats’ impeachment games constitute politically suicidal gamesmanship. It’s so bad that even Time’s Joe Klein is accusing the Democrats (and, by extension, Obama) of cynicism — which is pretty funny when you think about it. Wasn’t it Obama who promised to take the cynicism out of politics, and to replace them with hope and change? Yeah. Right.

** 18 **

Don’t you sometimes want to bash people over the head with Milton Friedman? In France, the housing market has collapsed, thanks to Hollande’s decision to impose rent control. They just don’t seem to be able to come to grips that, wherever rent control exists, the housing stock shrinks, prices climb, and the poor and middle class are driven out of the market. They like to call themselves intellectuals but, really, they’re just dumb as rocks, only less interesting — something best illustrated by our French-looking Secretary of State next to a box of rocks:

AS JJ SAYS

** 19 **

While Harry Reid utters lunatic shrieks about Charles and David Koch, the Leftist billionaire boys club has taken over the environmental movement and the EPA, and is profiting mightily from that takeover.

Keep in mind that the environmental movement is a scam. There is nothing wrong and everything right with our being responsible stewards over the environment that God (or Nature) has so generously bestowed upon us. Conversely, there is everything wrong and nothing right with using false science to turn the clock back to a pre-industrial era.

As I write this, please keep in mind that every single prediction the climate change crew made has been proven to be false. (See, e.g., today’s story about the fact that islands are not sinking due to a predicted and apocalyptic rise in the oceans.)

For more on this, two things: First, a Mark Steyn article about the totalitarian impulses driving the climate change regime. Second, a video with words of wisdom from some of the climate scientists who refuse to be silenced:

** 20 **

In the fashion world, individually tailor-made clothes are a good thing. In the world of law and order, it’s a very, very bad thing when the government first looks at your conduct, and only afterwards crafts a crime tailor-made to that conduct. When this last happens, law and order go out the window and tyranny stalks the streets.

That’s why all of us should be very concerned about the fact that the Officer of the Comptroller of the Currency, under cover of the Bank Secrecy Act, seems to be trolling through bank data, trying to assemble, ex post facto, something criminal with which to charge any given bank.

When businesses and individuals no longer know in advance which conduct is legal and which is illegal, they become paralyzed or, alternatively, they figure if they’re going to be charged with a crime anyway, they should just stop worrying about legality from the get go. Once that happens, a society inevitably ends up with poverty, corruption, and anarchy.

** 21 **

I’ve always liked Bill Whittle, but I never realized that he shares with me a history of mental illness. Thank God we’ve both recovered and are now working to help other similarly afflicted souls:

** 22 **

Andrew Klavan gives a well-deserved thanks to Christian white men:

I’d expand the thanks to Jewish white men (without taking anything away from those wonderful Christians), but that’s my bias showing. ;)

** 23 **

And Caped Crusader sent me a wonderful batch of pictures:

runningout

remember

ours

NYT_

jesse

injail

feelings

bordersign

allies

adult

Monday morning round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesI’m going to have a lot of stuff about the Israel/Hamas showdown (of course) but, for those of you who are interested in other stuff, don’t despair. I’ll have other stuff too.

** 1 **

I’ve often mentioned StandWithUs, an organization that was founded to fight the growing antisemitism on American campuses. During the current war, StandWithUs has used social media on Israel’s behalf.

One of the things it started was a campaign that sees people mailing pictures of the cover of their passport, along with a message on the palm of their hand: “I stand with Israel.” This article describes the campaign, and this link takes you to the page where you can upload your photo.

I dug out my passport yesterday and sent my message. If your passport is handy, perhaps you can too. When a war is fought, not just on the field of battle, but around the world in cyberspace, these things matter.

Palestinian support for Israel against Gaza

** 2 **

One of the things Muslims do when they conquer a territory is to erect their prayer towers at a height higher than any other building in the community. Not only does this visually prove their dominance, it also forces everyone around to hear the Muslim call to prayer (which Obama described as “the sweetest sound I know“). Lately, to ensure that everyone hears that “sweetest sound,” Muslims have taken to blasting the call to prayer out on loudspeakers. In Israel, some residents finally had enough and blasted out a few prayers of their own.

** 3 **

The Lancet, founded in 1823, was once one of England’s most prestigious medical journals. During the Iraq War, though, it proved that it had become just another hack Leftist mouthpiece when it published an article in 2004 claiming that 68,000 Iraqis had died from U.S. attacks, a number it updated in 2006 to 655,000. All these numbers were resoundingly debunked, but the study still had an impact, inflaming the usual suspects in the Muslim world and on the Left.

Flush with the success of its last disinformation campaign, The Lancet is at it again, with a completely unsourced diatribe against Israel (which I won’t dignify with a link). Two Israeli physicians tried to get The Lancet to publish a well-sourced rebuttal but, although a reputable science publication would have willingly published that rebuttal, The Lancet naturally refused. If you, however, would like to learn truth via data, rather than lies via screeds, go here.

** 4 **

Hamas fighters may be getting demoralized, but its leaders are feeling flush with success. They’ve got a pile of dead children for photo ops, they got flights to Israel shut down for 24 hours, Jews in Europe are under siege in a way reminiscent of 1938, American streets are filled with thousands of pro-Hamas marchers, and the President and Secretary of State are fully on-board with Hamas’s agenda. To the relief of Israel supporters around the world, though, Israel appears to be thumbing its nose at the Obama regime and, instead, is focusing on its own security. This focus means continuing the Gaza operation so as to shut down those tunnels.

** 5 **

Europeans are, as always, fully supportive of Hamas. Part of this is age-old antisemitism. Part of it is Leftism. Part of it is a way of blaming Jews for Auschwitz and the purges and pogroms in which even conquered countries cheerfully participated.

And part of it, apparently, is the European Union’s ongoing battle with the U.S. for world supremacy. Once upon a time the U.S. supported Israel against the Soviet Union, which supported the Arabs. Now, the EU is supporting the Arabs against the U.S.’s long-standing support for Israel.

The only flaw in that plan is that, thanks to Barack Obama, the U.S. is also supporting the Arabs, so that the EU isn’t distinguishing itself from the U.S. at all. (See here and here, for articles supporting the conclusion that Obama is no longer bother to hide his pro-Hamas, anti-Israel stance.)

** 6 **

Facebook has gone despicable and deleted pro-Israel pages while allowing genocidal anti-Israel pages to stand.

The problem, of course, is that despite its vileness, Facebook is still the only game in town when it comes to spreading political messages throughout ones community of friends, acquaintances, and followers. For example, I know that many of my “real me” Facebook friends couldn’t care less about Israel or, since they’re DemProgs, they kind of vaguely support Hamas.

Because I’m inundating my feed, though, with clear, pro-Israel posters, there’s a possibility that this information will subliminally seep into their brains and value systems.  After all, that’s how Hollywood did it in the 1970s through today:  they subliminally changed people’s values through “entertainment” shows that were really “info-tainment” shows for Leftist ideas.

** 7 **

The Son of Hamas understands both how nihilistic that organization is and that its ultimate goal is world conquest for a caliphate:

** 8 **

Here’s another insight into how Muslims think — and it’s not the way people raised in the Judeo-Christian tradition think.

And finally, on to other, non-Israel/Hamas stuff:

** 9 **

I know that there are bad cultures that care for and wouldn’t gratuitously hurt animals (witness Hitler’s and the Nazi’s love for dogs), but are there any good cultures that gratuitously hurt and torture animals?  I can’t think of any.  Anyway, the following video is darling:

** 10 **

If you’ve been following the Bakken crude oil debate — which sees critics claiming that it’s too volatile to ship, and therefore useless — here are some actual facts explaining that it’s perfectly shippable (which, if it isn’t a word, ought to be).

** 11 **

The facts: A gun-toting man enters a gun-free hospital and begins firing, killing one person. He is stopped only because one of the staff doctors, ignoring the hospital’s gun-free status, shoots him, saving untold numbers of lives. The logic in Left land: Gun free zones should stay gun free because guns are dangerous.

No matter how many times you point out that the only way to stop a mass shooter is if a good guy with a gun shows up (whether that guy is on site or whether it takes 20 minutes for armed police to arrive), the Left insists that just declaring a zone “gun free” will save lives. It’s this kind of stupidity that practically drove me into the arms of conservativism.

** 12 **

Teacher’s unions — not individual teachers, many of whom are devoted and wonderful, but teacher’s unions — are harming American schools. This video perfectly describes my public school experiences growing up in San Francisco:

** 13 **

By leaping on every Leftist politically inspired bandwagon, experts have devalued themselves so much that half the world ignores anything they have to say.

** 14 **

Remember Jonathan Gruber, the Obamacare architect who was for withholding funds from federal Obamacare exchanges before he was against it? Well, there’s more….

(And here’s something cool: I bet you recognize the website at that link.  You should, because Hube, at the Colossus of Rhodey is one of my longtime Watcher’s Council friends. It turns out that the man who unearthed the first Gruber video was one of Hube’s old classmates. When he needed a forum to take down Gruber and reinforce Halbig, he went calling on his old friend who is now a conservative blogger.)

** 15 **

Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson have been iconic figures since the end of the 19th century. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did not write them as gay characters. Indeed, Dr. Watson adores women and eventually marries, leaving Holmes alone in the flat at Baker Street. With the renewed popularity of Sherlock Holmes and Watson thanks to a recent BBC series, the LGBTQ crowd thinks Holmes and Watson need an upgrade: They should become gay lovers.

Hmmm. Thinking. … Thinking. … Thinking. … Nope. I just don’t see it. What I do see, though, is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle spinning in his grave.

** 16 **

One of the things conservatives constantly need to re-learn is that the culture wars are never won. When one side gains temporary dominance, the other side than begins a renewed charge to end that dominance. We’re currently in a period of Leftist dominance that has (finally) started a nascent conservative comeback. Should we win, we’ll naturally, and stupidly, rest on our laurels, creating a vacuum that the Left will aggressively rush to fill.

I mention all this because America may have won WWII in 1945, but the war is still being fought at the academic level. When the Smithsonian first mounted a Hiroshima exhibit 15 years ago, the Left seemed to have won, making the exhibit all about American imperialist aggression. Five men successfully fought back, but even they caution that the fight is never over.

** 17 **

I love Harry Stein’s writing. He’s warm and funny and mirrors my own journey from Left to Right (although I didn’t begin as far Left as he did). His crossing the Rubicon book, How I Accidentally Joined the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy (and Found Inner Peace), is most definitely worth a read.

What I didn’t realize (or didn’t remember) about Stein, is that his father, Joseph Stein, wrote the book for Fiddler on the Roof, a show that simultaneously helped pro-Jewish and pro-Israel feeling around the world, even while offending religious Jews with its message favoring assimilation. Joseph Stein was the kind of Jew I knew growing up: educated, funny, creative, and very, very Left.

Harry has written a lovely homage to his father (who died in 2010, aged 98 years), managing to maintain his love and respect for the man whose political and social values Harry so definitively rejected.

** 18 **

Hamas secret weapon

I'm at a fundraiser now

Hamas refuses ceasefire

Civilization calls

Harry Reid on illegal immigrants

(Thanks to Earl and Sadie, who contribute to every post I write by sending me wonderful articles and images. Caped Crusader is also one of my main sources for images and anecdotes, although I don’t think any of his contributions made it to this particular post.)

Thursday evening round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesSorry for the long silence today. I had a standard-issue medical test done on me this morning and, while I passed with flying colors (I’m such an overachiever), the procedure knocked me off my pins and I’m only now getting back to something akin to normal.

I haven’t yet had the chance to read today’s news (which I think looks sort of like yesterday’s news, right down to yet another air tragedy), but I have a ginormous backlog of links I gathered yesterday that I’d still like to share. So, fasten your seat belts and . . . we’re off!

** 1 **

Just an observation about Israel’s efforts to rout Hamas in Gaza: Many, myself included, think that this is Israel’s moment in Gaza. The ones who are openly supporting her incursion are all Israelis (as opposed to merely some Israelis), most Americans, European heads of state, the EU (!), and citizens of good will the world over. Heck, even the notorious anti-Israel Washington Post has another editorial denouncing Hamas and insisting that it must be disarmed before Israel gives up the fight.

The ones who are tacitly supporting her incursion are heads of state all over the Arab world who, scared by both Iran and ISIS and, as in Egypt’s case, deeply hostile to the Muslim Brotherhood, are keeping silent or even castigating Hamas. The only ones who are opposed to Israel having the chance, once and for all, to destroy one of the world’s most malignant terrorist organizations, are Barack Obama, John Kerry, and the hate-ridden Muslim and hard-Left rioters in European and American citizens.

** 2 **

At the end of my conversation with Sol Giggleweed, I added that, in a comparison between Hamas the Nazis, the Nazis are actually better than Hamas insofar as they revered their own women. My sister added another Nazi virtue that Hamas lacked: the Nazis did not use their own women and children as living, breathing defense systems.

Apropros this reverence for life, check out this Facebook post.

Indeed, even canine life comes in for care (in stark contrast to the Muslim world, which hates dogs and, at least in Pakistan, tortures them for fun):

Israelis care for dogs

 

** 3 **

Arabs, Muslims, and Leftists keep agitating for a return to Israel’s pre-1967 borders. Rhymes with Right agrees in principle, but differs somewhat as to precisely which pre-1967 borders Israel should be returned.

** 4 **

I don’t understand why America’s multiculturalists aren’t more up in arms about ISIS’s blatant disrespect for Christian culture in Iraq. (And yes, I’m being very, very, very sarcastic there.)

** 5 **

Yet another article about the U.S. State Department’s absolutely disgraceful failure to bring over to the U.S. the Afghani interpreters who now sit in the Taliban’s cross hairs.

** 6 **

Yes, it’s true. The University of Wisconsin at Madison is planning to move to race-based grading: Teachers are required to add a separate (and impliedly lower) bell curve for grading for non-whites. You’d think things such as this would bring non-whites to the realization that the Left thinks they’re really stupid.

** 7 **

HBO no longer makes any pretense of hiding its hardcore DemProg credentials. Even its obscene, sex-obsessed vampires are DemProgs so, when they get the opportunity, they apparently used an imaginary Ted Cruz fundraising as the opportunity to engage in some foul-mouthed Republican and women bashing. Ted Cruz and his aide Amanda Carpenter, however, elegantly and easily show why mental midgets shouldn’t tangle with people infinitely smarter than they are.

** 8 **

You know what happens to a socialized manufacturing sector? Nothing. It doesn’t innovate, grow, or create wealth. Instead, as Venezuela has demonstrated for the umpteenth time, socialized manufacturing sectors collapse very badly. (Article is behind a Wall Street Journal pay wall.)

** 9 **

Should you be able to get behind that Wall Street Journal pay wall, you should also read Daniel Henninger’s scathing denunciation of a president who is just too bored, busy, and important to deal with the crises popping up all over the place. He’s not even trying to play crisis whack-a-mole. He’s just walking away and looking for the next fundraising party.

If you can’t get behind that pay wall, you can still read Mark Steyn on Obama’s vanishing act, played across the backdrop of the endless rewind and replay in the Middle East.

** 10 **

Britain is mad at Russia because of the fact that pro-Russian fighters in Ukraine, armed with cutting edge Russian weapons, shot down Malaysian Airlines Flight 17. Of the almost 300 people who died, many were British subjects. Britain is so mad, in fact, that it’s reviving the case of Alexander Litvinenko, a Putin critic who died very painfully in England from polonium poisoning.

** 11 **

One of my tawdry media indulgences is the Daily Mail, which is a combination of sleaze, trash, eccentric wonders, and actual cutting-edge news from all over the world. One of the things I’ve noticed lately in the Daily Mail is the number of young to middle-aged bankers who have been killing themselves or dying of mysterious circumstances. Zero Hedge has noticed too and obviously wondered whether it’s just a coincidence that we’re aware of because of world wide reporting or if something really weird is going on.

** 12 **

Planned Parenthood continues to teach Americans young women about sexual perversion. Says Ed Morrissey:

Planned Parenthood gets millions of dollars for sex education and other programs from the federal government, and the education they provide is exactly what those parents predicted. No 15-year-old needs instruction on how to let herself get handcuffed or tied to trees by her boyfriend as part of rational education about health and sex. If a 15-year-old even hinted that her boyfriend was pressing her to try these kinds of activities, that calls for an intervention, not a how-to for submission. The advice to watch pornos for further sex education threatens to distort the teen’s sexuality for a lifetime, from a healthy expression of love and pleasure in the context of marriage to decades of being someone else’s rag doll for exploitation.

This isn’t education. It’s indoctrination, and the cultivation of Planned Parenthood clients for the next 20 years. Planned Parenthood can continue to offer sex education, but it shouldn’t get tax dollars to do so.

** 13 **

Jonathan Turley, a Barack Obama voter and law professor, has made a name for himself of late by speaking out against the expanding administrative state. He sees the D.C. Circuit’s Halbig decision, which confines Obamacare subsidies to state-established exchanges per the laws explicit language, as a very important one and contrasts it favorably against the 4th Circuits King decision, which ignored the statute’s explicit, unambiguous language in favor of a “well, I think the legislature really wanted to do this” analysis:

At the heart of the conflict is a fundamentally different view of the role not just of federal courts but also of federal agencies. I have long been a critic of the rise of a type of fourth branch within our system. The Framers created a tripartite system based on three equal branches. The interrelation of the branches guarantees that no branch could govern alone and protects individual liberty by from the concentration of power in any one branch.

We now have a massive system of 15 departments, 69 agencies and 383 nonmilitary sub-agencies with almost three million employees. Citizens today are ten times more likely to be the subject of an agency court ruling than a federal court ruling. The vast majority of “laws” in this country are actually regulations promulgated by agencies, which tend to be practically insulated and removed from most citizens.

** 14 **

The government is still doing a fancy dance around Obamacare. Separate from the fact that the administrative branch went all legislative and re-wrote the statute to suit the Democrats’ political purposes, the fact remains that the Exchange’s only measurable success is getting people onto the exchange. Everything else . . . well, not so good.

** 15 **

Hundreds of California taxpayers and professors are upset about the fact that San Francisco State University used taxpayer funds for terrorist outreach. I agree with their anger. I’m only sorry that we don’t live in a country that actually supports the rule of law. Since Hamas is a designated terrorist organization, in a law-abiding country, the federal government would have come down on SFSU and the errand faculty like a ton of federal bricks.

** 16 **

Back in the 1930s, the primary difference between Soviet Communism and German and Italian fascism was that the former nationalized businesses while the latter allowed them to exist (and profit), provided that they subordinated themselves to the government agenda. Jonah Goldberg, in talking about Elizabeth Warren’s efforts to subordinate American business to the federal government DemProg agenda, never mentions 1930s era fascism, but I couldn’t help noticing the structural similarities.

** 17 **

And while we’re speaking of that cozy relationship between business and DemProgs, here’s more on the federal government’s policy of privatizing corporate profits (if they make a profit overseas, they keep it) and socializing their losses (if they lose money, taxpayers suck up the loss).  You don’t need to look overseas, of course.  Obamacare is one big gift to the insurance industry.  That makes it something everyone can hate:  conservatives hate it because it brings health care under federal government control and socializes costs; Leftists hate it because these socialized costs are all funneled into the insurance company’s pockets.

** 18 **

There’s an old saying that, where there’s smoke, there’s fire. When it comes to the Obama White House and its efforts to hide all of its agents’ emails, mails, documents, texts, etc., there’s a new old saying:  Where there’s neither smoke nor fire, there’s a cover-up. The most recent one involves Shirley Sherrod.

** 19 **

Trey Gowdy continues to be IRS Commissioner Koskinen’s worst nightmare:

Gowdy must have been one hotshot trial lawyer.

** 20 **

Andrew Klavan takes a satirical look at one of the real security concerns flowing from the Obama-manufactured border (border? what border?) crisis:

** 21 **

Moral high ground

How Iron Dome works

10582974_10153402711377316_4172125262382870378_o

Taking cover in a war zone

Carpenter Ants

Ask what you can do for your mother

Tuesday mid-day round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesI’m having an existential anxiety day, which has seen me reading compulsively, but scared to write. In my little lizard brain, as long as I just read the news, it’s distant and abstract. It’s the act of processing and disseminating the information that makes it seem all too real, and therefore all too worrisome and depressing. On the other hand, this same brain being what it is, writing also clears my circuits, rather than clogging them up with situations about which I can do little but write. So, here goes:

** 1 **

For years, when it comes to Hamas, Netanyahu has been more talk than action. I don’t actually fault him. He’s spent most of his premiership hampered by the dubious, two-faced friendship Obama has offered him from America, the country that used to be Israel’s staunchest ally. The Obama-created pitfalls made any action against Hamas much riskier than ever before.

More than that, Israel is a country in which every active duty soldier or combat reservist is someone’s father, boyfriend, son, brother, uncle, and friend. The situation is different in America, a place where we support our volunteer troops in the abstract, with many of us not having any meaningful relationship with even one of them. Were it not for my involvement in the Navy League, I would go through every day of my life here in Marin without ever having met a member of our armed forces. This means that, in Israel, every combat death isn’t just a number; instead, it’s truly, deeply personal.

Two things have happened, however, to shift the calculus for Netanyahu.  First, Obama has marginalized himself so completely that Netanyahu no longer heeds him. Congress and the American public support Israel, so Bibi can act with reasonable confidence that snubbing Obama will have no lasting consequences. Second, Hamas is no longer fighting along Israel’s borders. Instead, between rockets and tunnels, the home front is the battle field. This means that, no matter how one slices it, Israelis will die — and if there’s one lesson Jews took away from WWII, it is that they will never again die without a fight.

All of which is why, when I read Ron Lipman’s article asking how far has Netanyahu been provoked, I finally believe that he has been provoked to the point at which he and Israel will fight this one through to its necessary conclusion.

** 2 **

Certainly, if newspaper opinion pieces are anything to go by, many Israelis would prefer to stand and fight than to hide, cower, and die.

** 3 **

In the face of a battle between good and evil, moral equivalence isn’t neutral. Instead, it’s evil too.

Nicholas Kristof, trying to be loftily impartial in the fight between Israel (free, democratic, pluralist, law-abiding, humane, life affirming) and Hamas (death loving, misogynistic, anti-Christian, anti-homosexual, anti-Semitic, slaver), gives succor to evil. Ron Radosh rightly calls Kristof out.

** 4 **

Hamas has guidelines for talking to the Kristoffs of this world. Under these guidelines, everyone who dies is an “innocent civilian.” This kind of propaganda works too. One of the truly well-intentioned, but deeply misguided uber-liberal friends I keep on purpose on Facebook (so that I can see and politely, very politely, challenge him and his friends) is up in arms about Israel using flechettes against Hamas. He cannot accept that this claim, like everything else, is almost certainly false, coming as it does from the sadistic fun house world of Hamas.

For what it’s worth, it certainly seems as if the New York Times is taking those Hamas guidelines to heart.

** 5 **

Here are two strong articles arguing that the people of Gaza, by knowingly electing a terrorist organization and one, moreover, that they knew used civilians as shields and their dead bodies as propaganda weapons, are no longer civilians but are, instead, combatants themselves. Although their job as combatants isn’t to fight, but just to die, they’re still part of the Hamas terrorist army and should be understood as such.

The first article is by Thane Rosenbaum and is behind the WSJ pay wall. Please read it if you can. The second is by Andrew McCarthy and, because it’s at PJ Media, you can read it freely.

** 6 **

If Hamas had put even a fraction of the energy and resources it used to construct tunnels, not a single one of its citizens would have had to have died when Israel responded to its provocations. But of course, if Hamas was interested in its citizens, as opposed to interested in destroying Israel and killing every one of her inhabitants, it wouldn’t be building any tunnels in the first place.

** 7 **

It’s not worth more than a sentence to say that the UN is complicit with Hamas. There, I’ve said it. It’s dog bites man stuff.

** 8 **

David Bernstein applies the right word to the attacks on synagogues in Europe: pogroms.

** 9 **

And here’s yet another excellent article about the fallacy of proportionality in the fight between Israel and Hamas.

** 10 **

** 11 **

Yes, the D.C. Circuit court really did say that it’s not responsible for re-writing a clear passage in Obamacare, even if the passage, as written, guts Obamacare. As a lawyer, I can say definitively that the court is correct. If the passage was ambiguous, the court would have leeway. Given how explicit it is, though, that’s the end of the argument. This is the rule of law writ large — the legislature must be presumed to have meant what it said:

Core of ruling re Obamacare

Per today’s order, the law means that there are no subsidies (nor mandates) for federally created exchanges. The biggest worry now is that Harry Reid, after having destroyed the filibuster in the Senate, will rush hard-Left judges on the D.C. Circuit appellate panel to resurrect the subsidies under federally-created exchanges.

You can read a more detailed analysis of the ruling here. Please note the first sentence: “A federal appellate court dealt a severe blow to Obamacare today, and in so doing scored a victory for the rule of law, the separation of powers, and the idea that words matter.” To which I say, exactly!

Likewise, Heritage legal analysis Elizabeth Slattery also discusses the ramifications of the Court’s decision, should it stand.

The White House, of course, has no room in its world for the Rule of Law, never mind that, as Daniel Hannan explained, the Rule of Law is the foundation of freedom.

The epitaph to Obamacare may end up being “Legislate in haste; repent at leisure.”

** 12 **

I devoutly hope that David Weigel is correct and that the campaign to have Elizabeth Warren run for president is all smoke and mirrors. I neither like nor trust that woman, based both on having been one of her students and on her conduct and speeches since she burst onto the national political scene.

Of course, DemProg pundits are also dissing Hillary’s candidacy. Maybe these guys are genuinely worried about Warren and Hillary as potential candidates or else they’re trying to take the heat off both women so that they can prepare in dead earnest for the real fight in 2015/2016. Ace, for one, doesn’t think Hillary’s campaign is anywhere near its end.

** 13 **

Also, all the hiding in the world won’t protect Hillary from signs such as this one, spotted when Hillary was at a bookstore signing in Connecticut:

Hillary and her security team

** 14 **

Two articles about Malaysian Airlines Flight 17:

Mark Steyn, in one of his most insightful posts, explains why to understand Israel is to understand Ukraine, and vice versa.

Tom Nichols explains why the attack on the plane has the Russians running scared.

** 15 **

The purge is complete. ISIS has driven the last Christian out of Mosul. Surprisingly enough (NOT), all the usual idiots who still huff and puff about Palestinians who lost land during a war they started in 1948 are completely silent about this.

(Also, if you have access to the Wall Street Journal, there’s more behind the pay wall.)

** 16 **

I don’t usually comment on local weather here, but I’m hoping that the thunderstorm that passed through the Bay Area last night is a sign that El Nino is kicking in and that California (or at least some of California) will have a wet winter.

The one thing I don’t see the storm presaging is more global warming. Indeed, if one looks at raw climate data, it’s apparent that California, rather than being bedeviled by global warming, has been cooling rather consistently.

** 17 **

Michael Tanner explains why the primarily Democrat-supported War on Poverty (although the GOP has had its paws all over this one too) is more aptly titled a “War on Work”:

** 18 **

Daniel Hannan looks at the Orwellian twist on the word “diversity” when placed in Leftist hands.

** 19 **

I’m a bit late to this party, but apparently I was waiting for Megan McArdle’s wonderful outrage regarding the story of the Mom arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to play in a safe park without a parent nearby.

I posted this article on my real-me Facebook, along with the fact that, when I was 9, I routinely walked a couple of miles to and from school by myself.  I was then inundated by similar stories from my liberal friends.  I keep hoping stories such as this one will get them to think after government encroachment in their lives.

** 20 **

We Americans are being bullied back into the Stone Age because of our allgedly excessive CO2 output, which we are told is causing unabated global warming (except, see above about California’s big chill, when it’s not). I wonder if the climate fascists will change their minds if they learn that humankind accounts for only 3.75% of atmospheric CO2.

Frankly, I’d already figured out that, while man can affect his immediate environment to the point of total destruction (strip-mining, extinct dodos and mammoths), nature as a whole is still far vaster and infinitely more reactive than we are.

** 21 **

With all due respect to those who don the blue uniform and are prepared to put their lives on the line to protect us, there have been too many stories lately about militarized, arrogant, disrespectful, violent police authorities for me to be an unalloyed fan anymore of our police forces. Nevertheless, Jack Dunphy makes a good case for the fact that there are times when something that looks violent and disrespectful may not be.

** 22 **

After being outraged about getting caught in two traffic traps in as many days (a red-light camera tagged me even though I was moving on yellow and pedestrian sting), I decided to be philosophical and view the tickets as the universe telling me I need to slow down and stop cutting driving corners. Here’s a good public safety message along those same lines:

** 23 **

And for something joyous:

** 24 **

Hamas takes over hospital

140 rockets a day

Hamas doesn't understand ceasefire

IRS and the truth

IRS lies

Deja Poo

Saturday afternoon clean laundry round-up and Open Thread

Victorian Washing DayAfter a month living with a broken washing machine, I finally got my new one today. I feel revitalized.

I also have a few things I’d like to share with you….

***

The problem with toppling taboos is that, once you’ve started, it’s hard to justify stopping. Take incest, for example.

There’s never been a relationship between incest and homosexuality other than the fact that societies have considered both taboo. While incest has a stronger justification for the taboo — genetic defects and child abuse — the fact remains that one can always work around those problems. Now that homosexuality is no longer taboo in the West, one Australian judge contends that the next taboo is ready to fall.

The judge therefore argues that the availability of birth control and laws against child abuse open the way to legalizing incest. For what it’s worth, on my “real me” Facebook, everyone, regardless of political and sexual orientation, was revolted by the judge’s suggestion.

***

Eric Peters, a 23-year-old veteran who earned the Purple Heart after being wounded in Afghanistan, is walking across the United States to bring awareness to the VA’s cavalier treatment of vets with PTSD. While in Ohio, he visited with the Brimfield Police Department, which described Peters’ journey. If you’re interested in helping Peters during his journey, you can donate here.

***

One of the most shameful aspects of the Obama administration is the way in which it’s abandoned people in Afghanistan who put themselves at tremendous risk to assist our United States forces. In addition to deadly delays, the State Department’s malfeasance is such that it’s now run out of visas entirely. No matter how good American troops are, they cannot fight and win if their own government undermines them and intentionally or negligently exposes their in-country allies to deadly risks.

***

At Legal Insurrection, a primer on the false “Pallywood” narratives that spring up the minute Israel defends herself against terrorist attacks.

***

I posted yesterday about the fact that those people who have health care courtesy of the Obamacare subsidy are happy, and I’m happy for them. The problem is that making insurance available to low-income people could have been done without the government taking over 1/6 of the U.S. economy; without the government intruding into individual healthcare decisions; without kicking people off of their insurance; without making insurance cost prohibitive for people who are paying full fare; and without the insane glitches the government-run system has.

As for that last point — those insane glitches — Debra Burlingame describes the fiasco attached to her “Child Dental” payments. It makes for painful reading.

***

Some innocents thought that, if Obama had a second term, he’d stop blaming George Bush, not to mention everyone and everything else, for problems and would, instead, take responsibility for failures. Hah!

Peter Wehner thinks Obama’s psychology may prevent him from taking any responsibility for the ever-lengthening list of disasters on his watch. I think Wehner’s right. One of the defining characteristics of a malignant narcissist is that things are never his fault. The black hole of insecurity that is at the core of this personality disorder is too well-defended ever to take the blame for anything.

***

It seems that Thomas Piketty’s neo-Marxism just took another blow: He completely neglected to factor in his analyses drastic changes in American tax law that dramatically increased people’s retirement funds.

***

If you feel like being inspired, someone created General Patton inspirational posters.

***

Or perhaps you take your inspiration with cream and sugar. That cryptic statement refers to the fact that the fuel that ran the Civil War may well have been coffee. And in that vein, I suspect that the fuel that ran WWII was cigarettes. So my question for you is this: What substance, if any, has fueled our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan?

***

If a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, Obama might indeed be as big-brained as his acolytes insist:

Obama on borders theirs and ours

***

Mary Burke, the Democrat front runner in Wisconsin’s gubernatorial race, also refuses to have her mind hobgoblined with any foolish consistency. That’s why this limousine liberal is demanding an end to out-of-state donations, even as 30% of her own campaign comes from out-of-state donors.

***

Your “feel good” Tweet for today:

Here’s some other feel good news: Iron Dome protected Tel Aviv from the three missiles fired at it earlier today.

***

And your delightfully silly video for the day:

(All ingredients used were hamster and hedgehog safe.)

***

And finally, a few posters:

Our public school - factory school system

Megadeath

Gaza hostages

Taxpayers are right wing extremists

Hobby Lobby: Trying to get DemProgs to understand what it means

HobbyLobbyStowOhioImpressed by the ill-informed hysterical reaction that my “real me” Facebook friends had to the Hobby Lobby decision, I explained to them that the decision is very narrow and will not (a) ban contraceptives across America and (b) lead to anti-gay lynch mobs. Here’s a slightly revised version of my Facebook post, which still failed to satisfy their paranoia and inability to understand the law.  I’ve also added a little hypothetical that might open their minds.  (No, don’t say it.  It’s improbable, but not impossible, that a DemProg mind can open).

The Hobby Lobby decision addresses one thing only:  whether an administrative rule conflicts with a long-standing law.

In 1993, a Democrat Congress passed, and a Democrat president signed, the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (“RFRA”). RFRA holds in relevant part that the federal government may act in a way that substantially burdens the exercise of religion only if it can establish that its action is the least restrictive means of advancing a compelling government interest. Nothing in the Act distinguishes between individuals and corporations.

The administrative rule at issue is the edict from Health and Human Services (“HHS”) mandating that all corporations affected by Obamacare must provide their female employees with unlimited access to all contraceptives available on the market.

Hobby Lobby is a closely-held, family-run corporation. The Green family, which owns Hobby Lobby, has a strong Christian faith, and is open about the fact that it runs its company in a way that is consistent with the family’s religious beliefs. These beliefs affect every aspect of the way in which Hobby Lobby is run, whether it’s the fact that even the least of Hobby Lobby’s employees gets paid an hourly amount that’s almost twice as much as minimum wage, or the fact that many of the store’s craft products come complete with little crosses attached to them.

Hobby Lobby has long provided comprehensive insurance for its employees. As part of this insurance, it makes available to its employees 16 different types of contraceptives. Moreover, Hobby Lobby has never said (a) that it would stop covering contraceptives entirely or (b) that contraceptives should be outlawed in America. Instead, it made a very narrow protest to the HHS mandate:  It objected to the fact that the mandate would force it to offer, not 16, but 20 contraceptives to its employees.  The additional 4 contraceptives are or can be used as abortion-causing agents.  The Green family’s religious faith means that it is adamantly opposed to abortion, which it considers murder.

The HHS mandate put Hobby Lobby in an impossible position: It could either use its own money to pay directly for abortifacient drugs or it could pay $475 million a year in penalties. It was this dilemma, it argued, that constituted a substantial burden on its exercise of religion under RFRA. Put another way, Hobby Lobby argued that it faced a Hobson’s choice:  directly fund something it opposes on core religious grounds or go bankrupt.  On these facts, the Supreme Court agreed that Hobby Lobby had satisfied the “substantial burden” requirement under RFRA.

There was something else that the Supreme Court accepted as given: For purposes of the ruling, the Supreme Court accepted as true HHS’s claim that forcing corporations to pay for their female employees’ contraceptives (simply because the Obama administration says it’s unfair not to) serves a compelling government interest.

(As an aside, I was thinking about this “unfair” point. According to my DemProg friends, the demand that corporations pay for contraceptives arises because it’s not fair that women have to shoulder these costs, while men don’t. Let’s put aside the fact that the DemProgs can’t explain why it’s fair that corporations must bear contraception costs.  The really important point is that, if the reason to force corporations to shoulder the burden is so that women don’t have to pay more in costs related to their unique biology just because they are women, corporations should also be required to pay for tampons, sanitary pads and, most importantly, chocolate, all of which are costly menstrual necessities that burden women, not men.  Additionally, corporations should be entitled to learn which employees have gone through menopause, so as to scale back on those uniquely feminine costs.  And now back to the Hobby Lobby case…)

With the Supreme Court having accepted that Hobby Lobby had proved that it was being significantly burdened and that HHS had proved a compelling government interest, the sole issue before the Court was whether HHS was using the least restrictive means to advance its compelling interest. Based on this single, limited issue, the Supreme Court concluded that HHS’s birth control mandate did not meet the RFRA test. The Court had a very simple metric for proving this conclusion: HHS itself handed the Court proof that there was a less restrictive way to serve this compelling interest.

HHS created this less restrictive contraception mandate when religious non-profit organizations objected to paying directly for contraceptives and abortifacients. HHS said that religious institutions could avoid the mandate by signing a document stating that their religious beliefs prevented them from complying with the contraception mandate. With this document, the onus shifts to the insurance company to apply the mandate.  (The Little Sisters of the Poor are challenging this workaround on the ground that it cannot apply to self-insured entities.  Likewise, even if the religious entity has a third party insurance company, the insurance company will simply increase its rates, with the result that the money for the contraceptives and abortifacients will still come from the corporation that has religious objections.  The Supreme Court’s eventual decision should be interesting.)

With HHS having already figured out a less intrusive method for getting “free” contraceptives to women, the Supreme Court held that the same workaround that applies to religious non-profits can apply equally well to closely held corporations if the owners have a sincere belief in a core religious issue. And that’s it. That’s the whole Hobby Lobby decision.

My Facebook explanation was clear enough that those who have been brainwashed into being terrified by the Hobby Lobby decision had only two defenses left. The first was that religious fanatics will use the decision to justify myriad things such as banning birth control nationwide, revoking the rule that corporations must pay for women’s contraceptives, and refusing to hire gays (a fear based upon this letter from a religious leader who clearly hadn’t read the Hobby Lobby decision himself).

The second defense, which I’ll address in the remainder of this post, was that the entire decision is wrong because, as a predicate matter, it treats a corporation as a person. “Corporations aren’t people” my DemProg friends cry, as they’ve been programmed to do since the Citizens United decision.  In other words, Hobby Lobby has no conscience and therefore cannot be treated as a conscientious objector.

I came up with a hypothetical scenario — a probable hypothetical scenario — that should have DemProgs insisting that, yes indeedy, corporations can and should be people — or, at least, Leftist corporations can and should be people.

The year is 2026. Since 2020, Republicans have majorities in Congress and a president in the White House. The wars in Syria and Iraq long ago merged, starting a conflagration that constantly threatens to spill over into every region of the world. The result is the Islamist caliphate equivalent of the Cold War, with the U.S. trying to put out small Islamic fires all over the world in order to de-fang the Sunni and Shia monsters without having to engage them directly on American soil.

The military is more central to American life and survival than ever. Defense costs have therefore skyrocketed, so Republicans went looking for new ways to equip the military. To this end, they noted that America’s business class was arguably benefiting most from the military’s efforts, because businesses were able to carry on and profit primarily because the military kept the Islamists far from American shores. It therefore would be logical for corporations to subsidize a significant part of the war effort.

Based upon this reasoning, in 2022, the Republicans successfully passed a new law, known as the Act for an Affordable Military (“AAM”). The Acts’ supporters affectionately call it “Adopt A Marine.” Its detractors refer to it disdainfully as “America’s A Monster.”

AAM goes far beyond traditional military funding, which relied upon tax revenues funneled to the Pentagon. Instead, AAM directly engages corporate America as an essential part of equipping the American military. Immediately upon the Act’s passage, the Pentagon was tasked with creating rules under AAM (a 3,200 portmanteau document written in vague and broad terms) that would shift onto corporations primary responsibility for equipping troops.

The Pentagon immediately issued a rule mandating that henceforth every corporation will be responsible for outfitting Marines with everything a Marine at war could need:  uniform, pack, weapons . . . the whole megillah.  Moreover, the number of Marine Gear Kits (or “MGKs”) that a corporation must assemble will be equal to the number of employees the corporation has. Thus, a corporation with ten employees must put together 10 MGKs, a corporation with 50 employees must put together 50 MGKs, and so on. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s 2012 Obamacare decision, this kind of . . . ahem . . . “tax” (i.e., forcing taxpayers to purchase a product, even if they don’t want it themselves) is perfectly legitimate.

Corporations that fail to comply with the MGK mandate will be assessed an annual tax equal to $10,000 per MGK, with no maximum cap. That means that, if a corporation with 50 employees refuses to put together its designated MGKs, it will pay an annual penalty of $500,000. A corporation with 30,000 employees could find itself on the hook for $300,000,000 annually.  Again, the Supreme Court’s 2012 Obamacare decision legitimized this “penalty” for failure to “pay” the “tax.”

Something else has changed now that the Cold War against the new Caliphate is being carried out by Republicans:  The DemProg peace movement is resurgent. Two of the most active peaceniks, Sol and Luna Giggleweed started out in their home office in 2020 (when Republicans finally re-took Congress and the White House following Elizabeth Warren’s ill-fated four-year presidency), designing, creating, and marketing bumper stickers, window signs, mugs, toilet paper . . . anything that could advance the pacifist cause.

With business booming, the Giggleweeds incorporated, calling their new business “Pacifists United Together Zone” or “PUTZ.” They now have 50 full-time employees working in their green-compliant factory in San Francisco’s SoMa district.

Thanks to the Giggleweed’s business acumen, you can now walk into any trendy store and buy one of PUTZ’s $25 king-size mugs emblazoned with “Live Peacefully or Die.”  If that’s too expensive, for $10 you can get a set of 10 bumper stickers reading “Peace : The New Caliphate Wants It Too.” PUTZ also manufactures the usual complement of sweatshirts with peace signs on them; posters urging people to “Visualize World Peace” or “Pray for Israel’s Destruction”; and the ever-popular Naughty Underwear set, in both multigender and cisgender versions, with “Make Love, Not War” glitter-stamped on the crotch.

For the Giggleweeds, peace isn’t just a gimmick to make a motive; it’s also their core ideology. Both Sol and Luna attended the Bush-era anti-war protests, and they oppose Republican-led wars with every fiber of their DemProg beings.

Significantly, even the Giggleweed’s faith is driven by their pacifism. They are ardent members of the Presbyterian Church (USA) (aka “PCUSA”).  In 2018, PCUSA’s governing board formally voted that “We, the PCUSA, oppose all wars, except for those wars dedicated to Israel’s destruction.”

Nobody quite knows how it did it, but PCUSA asserted that this vote reflected a core religious principle derived from the Books of Samuel, 1 Kings, and 1 Chronicles.  PCUSA’s revised doctrine is immune to challenge thanks to the tattered remnants of the First Amendment (which, in 2018, was amended to state that “Except as to matters of human sexuality and gender identityCongress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. . . .”).

PUTZ employees are as devout as the Giggleweeds. Indeed, many of them came to the Giggleweed’s attention during the Bush War protests.  Without exception, all of the employees belong to PCUSA or affiliated faiths. Their strong anti-war beliefs (unless, of course, the war is waged against Israel) infuse every aspect of their lives.  They are grateful to work at PUTZ, a corporation with a business model that puts pacifism on the front line, so to speak.

For these reasons, the Giggleweeds and their PUTZ employees were horrified when AAM became law and, even worse, when the Pentagon explicitly passed to corporations the responsibility for providing MGKs. PUTZ therefore joined with PCUSA and other like-minded churches and mosques, which are also on the hook for MGKs, to object to the mandate that they directly invest in MGKs or pay a substantial penalty to help fund the “Republican Anti-Caliphate War Machine.”

The Republican establishment was unmoved by anti-AAM protesters. Instead, it took great pleasure in reminding the protesters and litigants that, thanks to agitation from this same cadre of people in the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision, Congress in 2016 (Year One of Elizabeth Warren’s disastrous administration) amended RFRA to state explicitly that it does not apply to corporations, regardless of the corporation’s size or whether it’s publicly traded or closely held. There is no way out for the Giggleweeds and PUTZ: they either put together MGKs for the Marines, or they pay $500,000 so that someone else can put the MGKs together for them.

To the Giggleweeds and their ilk, the Republicans have only one thing to say:  It’s always nasty when your own chickens come home to roost.

Thursday late afternoon round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesSorry for the long silence today. It’s just that, well, I’ve been busy. In addition to home maintenance and chauffeuring, I swear that someone has wanted to talk to me (by phone, in person, or through text) every 10 minutes all day long. Honestly, I don’t know why because I really am not that interesting.

Blogging is in my blood, though, and no matter how crazy the day, it’s going to ooze out. Here are a mish-mash of things that caught my eye:

***

Nice Deb tipped me off to the fact that Ted Cruz has been tracking Obama’s lawlessness. It’s a long, long ugly list. It’s also a reminder that, although Dems like to say that Obama has issued fewer executive orders than other presidents, the issue isn’t quantity, it’s quality. The others’ executive orders were uninteresting procedural matters. Obama, on the other hand, has used his executive orders to create new law or violate existing law. (See Ted Cruz’s entire collection of lists here.)

***

One of the reasons we have laws, especially border laws, is to protect public health.  Obama’s lawlessness means health outbreaks. The article to which I’m linking (one of many today about the scourge coming from the south) professes ignorance as to the source of TB, but I can tell you the sources of TB: immigrants and prisoners. Those are the two places in America that incubate the disease.

No wonder Eileen Toplansky makes a credible argument that Obama is president over the culture of death. Whether it’s his embrace of Islam, of abortion, or of illegal immigrants, or his abiding and manifest hostility to the military, Obama is doing what he can to get Americans killed.

***

Daniel Pipes thinks that Bibi Netanyahu might be the right leader at the right time for Israel. I sure hope Pipe’s is right, because Israel no longer has America at her back. What’s ironic is that Obama has turned America-the-nation against Israel just as individual Americans are supporting Israel more than ever.

***

Proving that it’s not totally immune to the death of teenage boys, the Obama administration breathed a sigh of relief when a 16-year-old teenage Arab youth turned up dead in Israel. Whew! The narrative is all good: Israelis are just as bad as Arabs.  After first being resolutely silent about the Israeli victims, and then softly castigating the “cycle of violence,” the Obama administration is in full throated weeping mode for that Arab boy (who may actually have been a victim of homophobia). Richard Baehr has more.

But of course, as my very dear friend Rob Miller says, to the Obama administration, Israel’s always in the wrong.

***

I once had a friend who got into fights with everyone. At first, I accepted the friend’s version of events, which was that this person was mean, and that person careless, and the other person stupid, and the next person vicious. Eventually, of course, I figured out that the single common denominator in all the fights (often with people I knew) was my friend — who is a friend no longer. Daniel Greenfield’s post about Islam being the problem reminded me of that old, unhappy friendship.

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The Left’s war against the Redskin’s team name is not just a random happenstance. It is part of the way the Left functions, picking small battles so as to avoid large ones, fighting free nations so as to empower slave nations, and generally driving the culture down, down, down. Dennis Prager explains.

***

I was going to label this link “everything you always wanted to know about political emails but were afraid to ask.” Then, having read the article, I realized you were right to be afraid. Pretty nasty fundraising forces are at work to frighten and harass the American people, and that’s true for both sides of the political aisle.  In an information age, he who screams most hysterically apparently gets the most money.

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We all dream of one day meeting our soul mate.  America’s shame is that its president’s soul mate is Bill Ayers.

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Daniel Henninger slices and dices Barack Obama’s totalitarian disdain for Congress.  (That link might be behind a pay wall.)  Sadly, the Left half of Congress agrees with Obama and is anxious to cede its power to the executive branch.

***

Obama’s disdain for law has infected a lone Colorado court clerk who, in total violation of Colorado law, is issuing same sex marriage licenses just because she wants to. She’s totally correct that the 10th Circuit is going to change the law any minute but, until it does (a) those licenses are invalid and, let me say again, (b) she’s breaking the law.  The Republican state attorney is probably right, though, not to throw her Leftist derriere in jail.  She’d just become a martyr.  What would you do to punish her so as to avoid her martyrdom?

***

Hillary will say anything to get elected.  If she needs to sell herself to America, she’ll hew slightly to the center.  But when the chips are down, she reverts to her intellectual home, which is the hard left.  Paul Kengor explains how Hillary readily abandoned both religion and intelligence in order to pander to the base about same-sex marriage and the newly discovered right that employers must pay for their employee’s birth control.

***

On the subject of the Hobby Lobby case, I’ve got a cartoon and a few comments:

Not my bosss business

When I haven’t been talking to people today, I’ve spent a bit of time on Facebook trying to convince Lefties that (a) the Hobby Lobby decision is not five old white men denying women across America access to birth control and (b) that none of my hysterically unhappy friends has made a credible case explaining why it’s suddenly become a fundamental right that employers must pay for employees to have all possible forms of conception. I’m making no headway whatsoever. They’re in total paranoid hysteria mode and are not amendable to anything but a solid left hook, which I cannot deliver via Facebook.

(Ten minutes after I wrote the above, I got a message from someone who is Facebook friends with a gay man who imagines that concentration camps and gas chambers are around the corner, thanks to Hobby Lobby.  She was unable to comment directly on my post, since she’s not a friend, but she thanked me very much for my sensible, logical explication of the case.  I was grateful.)

***

My DemProgs’ hysterically-based stupidity is fully equal to the stupidity of this New Yorker author, who tries to claim that Hobby Lobby is no different from the Taliban. The article shows (a) a complete failure to understand controlling law, which would support the governments compelling (and traditional) interesting in preventing epidemic diseases to trump an individual’s or corporation’s religious scruples, and (b) the Leftist impulse to say that there’s no difference between modern Christianity, which ended slavery, child labor, the 80 hour work week, etc., on the one hand, and the Taliban, which wants to enslave everyone it doesn’t actually kill, on the other hand.

Of course, no one really expects anything approach intelligence from the New Yorker anymore. In the old days, even when it was wrong, it was wrong in a smart way. Now it’s just plain ole stupid.

***

Veterans died so Obamacare could live.

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Here’s an interesting bit of historic trivia: The baby whom the Nazis touted as the ne plus ultra of Aryan beauty . . . was Jewish.

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Oh, my goodness. I’m still laughing:

Hat tip: iOwnTheWorld

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I thought I’d end this post by throwing in a couple of old Irving Berlin videos, made back in the day when America knew her enemies were and was proud to fight them. Longtime readers have seen these chestnuts before, so I’ll just apologize for the fact that they’re sort of my go-to videos when I’m feeling I live in a country besieged.

Before you watch the videos, you may want to remember that the American character was different back then.

(In addition to my own efforts, many thanks to Earl Aagard for his help finding interesting material.)

John Oliver manages to pack all the Left’s stupid Hobby Lobby arguments into one “comedy” shtick

HobbyLobbyStowOhioBecause my husband is an ardent Jon Stewart fan, he’s also a John Oliver fan and instantly started watching Oliver’s new solo HBO show, Last Week Tonight.  Moreover, because John Oliver appears to be slightly less doctrinaire than Stewart (which means that NPR ludicrously tries to cast him as a centrist), not to mention obviously more intelligent, I occasionally watch too in order to get the view from the Left.

Sometimes, Oliver manages to get it right, as happened last night when he pointed out how ridiculous it is for Obama to announce that the U.S. will invest $500 million in Syria’s “carefully vetted moderate militias.”  Oliver also got deservedly positive press from across the political spectrum for his rant against the FCC’s proposed net neutrality rules.

Most of the time, though, Oliver’s just a garden variety DemProg with a nice British accent.  His most recent show was no exception.  For example, Oliver went on a lengthy attack against Uganda’s anti-gay laws.  I hold no brief for anti-gay laws, but I find the DemProgs’ recent obsession with them disgustingly hypocritical.

For decades, sharia-governed countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, etc., have had the harshest anti-gay laws in the world.  In the Palestinian territories, while the laws aren’t officially on the books, they’re routinely carried out, with the result that gay Palestinians are desperate to get to Israel, where they’ll safe.  Why so desperate?  Because in the Muslim world, the punishment for homosexuality is death and Muslim governments and militias aggressively execute those sentences.

Despite the egregious, and well-publicized, human rights offenses against gays in the Muslim world, DemProgs have been absolutely silent.  They may love gays, but not enough to challenge Islam over the issue.  I’ve searched, but cannot find any evidence that either Jon Stewart or John Oliver ever addressed homicidal Islamic homophobia on Jon Stewart’s show.  Please correct me if I’m wrong.

What this means, of course, is that DemProgs will get exercised about homophobia only when it’s safe to do so.  Neither Russians nor Ugandans are going to hunt DemProgs down and decapitate them as the end to any argument.  Moreover, the attack on Ugandan homophobia gives DemProgs a nice double whammy, because it allows them to make blanket condemnations of Christianity while they’re at it — again, knowing that the attacked Christians will pray for their souls, rather than behead them.

Uganda reflects the DemProgs’ usual moral cowardice and hypocrisy.  The attack on the Hobby Lobby decision is worse, because it’s profoundly intellectually dishonest.  You can watch the video and then I’ll address the two worst logical fallacies packed into just a few minutes of Oliver’s mildly amusing and completely wrong rant (Warning: Not Safe For Work):

Oliver’s preliminary attack is made directly against Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, a closed corporation owned by Mennonites, that makes parts for kitchen cabinets. Oliver acknowledges that Hobby Lobby is a tightly held family corporation, that the owners are open about the integration between their faith and their business, and that their faith leads them to treat their employees exceptionally well, and to be extremely charitable. Of course, Oliver cannot end on that final note, so he then crudely attacks Hobby Lobby for selling products that customers can put to obscene or dangerous uses.

Oliver then accuses the Conestoga Wood owners of hypocrisy because they don’t want to pay for drugs and procedures that take a human life. He makes the nonsensical argument that their products can be used to kill people, so that they should have no standing to argue that the government cannot force to kill.

Both these arguments are red herrings, meant to district the audience from the intellectual failing in his core argument.  That argument, which flows from his direct attacks on Hobby Lobby and Conestoga sounds so reasonable on its face that many will miss how dishonest it is:  Oliver claims that Hobby Lobby’s and Conestoga’s objections to the Obamacare birth control and abortifacient argument indistinguishable from the usual complaints people make about government expenditures:   “What these companies are arguing is that the sincerity of their beliefs should allow them a line-item veto over federal law. But government is not an a la carte system what you can pick and choose based on your beliefs.”

Having said this, Oliver then shows a short montage of people saying “I don’t want to pay for” such things as “Israel policies,” war, and “Mexican prostitutes.”  The audience laughs uproariously, understanding that Hobby Lobby and Conestoga are just more whining taxpayers, indistinguishable from others who object to paying taxes to fund American policies.

Oliver weaves these topics together so skillfully that someone who isn’t paying attention might miss the fact that there’s a difference between tax dollars being pooled together and spent on a variety of things (and more on that later) and a government mandate ordering people to open their wallets and pay directly to the purveyor of something they find religiously objectionable. The two things are entirely different, with the latter being a direct affront on an individual’s sensibilities. (And, although Oliver would prefer to ignore this fact, closely held corporations are a business structure through which individuals operate.)

As an aside, and one that gives even more weight to Hobby Lobby’s and Conestoga’s objections, one can make a very good argument that most of the federal government’s tax dollar expenditures vastly exceed the Fed’s mandate. The Founder’s understanding was that tax dollars would be used for traditional government operations: defense, transportation, a functioning judicial system, public health, etc. Under this reading, those Americans who object to non-traditional government expenditures are correct. But most certainly those who object to being forced to pay for a product that clashes with core doctrinal sensibilities are correct under both the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which is the law the Supremes used in deciding the case) and the First Amendment.

 

Wednesday morning round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesWhether you devour this post in one fell swoop or nibble at it throughout the day, I can guarantee you a lot of food for thought:

The VA scandal is gaining traction, as word comes out that the VA already knew back in 2010 that hospitals were manipulating records. Robert Petzel, the top health official for the Department of Veterans Affairs, has resigned ahead of his previously announced retirement, showing that at least someone understands that part of taking responsibility for a job is that you look like you’re getting fired, or fire yourself, when you fail in that role.

Obama, who has never worked in the private sector, still hasn’t figured out that ordinary people, accustomed to private sector job losses for workplace malfeasance, believe it’s appropriate for heads to roll. How else can one explain that, not only is Obama keeping on VA Secretary Ric Shinseki, he’s praising him for a job well done.

***

The risks from the VA scandal extend beyond any immediate political fallout. Indeed, it may be more damaging than Obama & Co. ever imagined, not because it reflects badly on them but because it reflects badly on their entire world view — namely, Big Government:

Because the Democratic party simply is the party of government. It is the party that insists on the nobility, efficacy and intellectual superiority of government. The VA is at the intersection of all the things liberals insist are wise and good and just about government. It is government-run healthcare. It is the tangible fulfillment of a sacred obligation the government has with those who’ve sacrificed most for our nation. It is also the one institution and/or constituency that enjoys huge bipartisan support. The VA, rhetorically and politically, is more sacrosanct and less controversial than Medicare, Social Security, road building, the NIH, or public schools. We are constantly told that we could get so many wonderful, super-fantastic things done if only both sides would lay down their ideological blah blah blah blah and work together for yada yada yada. Well, welcome to the VA. How’s that working out for you?

***

Many commentators noticed that Jay Carney, when asked about the VA scandal, said the same thing he and the president have said about myriad scandals: “Hey, don’t ask us. We only learned about it on TV, just like the rest of you.”

You can tell that their feral little brains are thinking, “Yes! That should let them know that we had nothing to do with the scandal. It’s somebody else’s fault.”

It hasn’t seemed to occur to Obama or Carney that there’s another, better answer:  “The President was apprised yesterday about this issue and has already taken steps to deal with it.”  That answer would make the President sound like an executive, not an idiot. (Peter Wehner sees “epic incompetence” as the new presidential narrative.)

Jonathan S. Tobin sums up what the President’s chosen scandal tactic implies:

The fact that the White House resorted to what has become its standard second-term excuse for government scandal with a line about the president hearing about it on TV or by reading the newspapers raises serious questions about both his leadership and the intelligence of his staff. After all, surely it must have occurred to someone at the White House that using the same excuse about hearing of it in the media wasn’t likely to work after it had been employed with little success to distance him from the IRS and other scandals. Such intellectual laziness speaks to a West Wing that is both collapsing from intellectual fatigue as well as having acquired an almost complete contempt for both the press and public opinion.

***

While I’m on the subject of Obama’s incompetence, it seems that the intelligence community is pushing back against both that incompetence and the rank political dishonesty that sees that Obama administration falsely claiming that Islamic terrorism is declining, not increasing.

I feel very strongly that you shouldn’t get into pissing matches with the intelligence community because they probably know things about you that you would prefer no one else know. If this fight between the administration and intelligence heats up, I wonder if someone will start leaking interesting revelations about highly placed officials in the administration, including Obama himself.

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James O’Keefe has an uncanny knack for exposing Leftist hypocrisy, corruption (financial, intellectual, and moral), and gross illegality.  He is back in spectacular style with a video showing three prominent Hollywood types agreeing to take money from an Arab oil sheikh (O’Keefe in disguise) in order to fund an anti-fracking film.

There’s nothing subtle about O’Keefe’s phony pitch, either. In a phone call with director Josh Tickell, O’Keefe explicitly states “My client’s interest is to end American energy independence; your interest is to end fracking. And you guys understand that?” Tickell is okay with that. “Correct. Yes, super clear,” he says.

While many people are shocked about environmentalists getting into bed with big oil in order to stop fracking, I was wondering more about their willingness to send money to Saudi Arabia, rather than to keep it at home.

Of course, O’Keefe just showed three fools in Hollywood. But what about the fact that real, not imaginary, Arab oil influence is huge in Washington, D.C. itself? Jeff Dunetz says that we need to pay attention to this very disturbing reality. Looking at the numbers, Dunetz points out that, not only is the UAE by far the biggest foreign lobby in D.C., the entire pro-Israel contribution (remember the “all powerful Jewish lobby” we keep hearing about?) is just 21% of the UAE’s contribution. Read the whole thing. It’s illuminating.

***

Chad Felix Greene, who is (I believe) gay, says that it’s not unreasonable for people to be wary of transgendered people. It’s not one of his best posts (he’s a very good writer, but this is a bit muddy because he tries to be respectful of all points of view, even as he challenges some of them), but my takeaway is this:

It’s not unreasonable to be dismayed when your chosen sexual partner reveals that he or she started out life as a member of the opposite sex.  This is true regardless of whether you’re homosexual or heterosexual.  Thus, both a man planning to bed a former man, or a gay man planning to bed a former woman, might be upset to learn about the partners gender history.

It is reasonable, however to refuse to deny the biological reality that underlies transgendered self-definition. Just because someone says “I am a woman,” doesn’t mean you have to pretend that the person once had or still has a penis. You can be respectful of that person’s self-identity (no bullying, teasing, or discriminating), but you don’t have to deny biological and historical reality.

***

Gay marriage is a done deal in America, folks. Although the Supreme Court addressed only the federal Defense of Marriage Act, courts across America are viewing that decision as a green light to overturn voters who said that, in their state, marriage is between a man and a woman. One really can’t blame the judges too much now that, years after those votes were originally cast, the same-sex marriage lobby’s endless advocacy means that 55% of Americans support gay marriage.

I’ve made it pretty clear that my opposition to gay marriage arises primarily because I foresee a coming clash between the First Amendment’s explicit guarantee that Americans have the right to exercise their religion freely and the newly created civil right to marry outside of the traditional boundaries of monogamous, heterosexual marriage. We already know that gay couples will sue business people who, for religious reasons, refuse to provide services for same-sex marriage ceremonies, although they are willing to do business with same-sex couples in all other matters. How long will it be before same-sex partners sue the Catholic Church or a Baptist ministry for violating their civil rights?

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Spain has been Judenrein since 1492. That has done nothing to prevent the oldest hatred. (You can read more about Spain’s apparently atavistic antisemitism here.)

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How can one resist Jonah Goldberg on “trigger warnings,” which are just the latest insanity to issue from America’s loony academic citadels? After noting that he doesn’t have a problem with obscure, privately run Leftist blog sites catering to every trigger from audio of snapping fingers to pictures of animals in wigs, Goldberg adds:

But as is so often the case, common sense is barely a speed bump for the steamroller of political correctness. Oberlin College’s Office of Equity Concerns advised professors to avoid such triggering subjects as racism, colonialism, and sexism. They soon rescinded it, perhaps because they realized that if such subjects become taboo, much of their faculty would be left with nothing to talk about.

***

While I’m quoting, I was just kvelling with glee over John Hinderaker’s masterful use of imagery and the English language in connection with Howard Dean’s lunatic claim that Republicans are no longer Americans:

A terrible sort of insanity has gripped the Democratic Party. On almost a daily basis, when you see the party’s leaders in action, you want to start edging toward the door, murmuring “Nice doggie. Nice doggie.”

[snip]

This is a very bad thing. We need two functional political parties, and these days the Democrats don’t get over the bar, no matter how low you set it.

[snip]

Reid and Pelosi are so low-rent that you feel embarrassed for them whenever you see them. Screening a video [about Charles and David Koch] that is sheer partisan libel in the United States Capitol–illegally, as best I can tell–is right up their alley.

Read the whole thing, please, both because it’s beautifully written and because it’s substantively informative and important.

***

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the fact that it was no surprise to me that the poorest of the poor aren’t rushing to sign up for Obamacare. Contrary to our middle class expectations, they don’t mind having the ER serve as their preferred provider. Getting top flight medical care for free on an as-needed basis is a better deal for them than having to pay a monthly fee (no matter how low) for some hard to reach little clinic that makes them jump through hoops just to see a dermatologist.

Thanks to Obamacare, it looks as if a significant number of formerly insured (i.e., people who lost their insurance because of Obamacare) are also finding that the ER is a good option. Some haven’t even tried to get new insurance. Some have gotten trapped in the Obamacare exchange. Some have been told that they’re the wrong sex. Some cannot accept the substandard care in their new, narrow coverage. Whatever the reason, they’re joining the bottom 1% in seeing the ER as first and best when it comes to medical treatment.

***

Monica Wehby, a pediatric neurosurgeon in Oregon, won the Republican party primary and will now challenge incumbent Democrat Jeff Merkley for Oregon’s Senate seat. No surprise, then, that Democrats have unearthed records showing that, in both a divorce and a contentious break-up with a boyfriend, the men contended that she was stalking, harassing, or even striking them. Neither sought restraining orders and the boyfriend has since become an enthusiastic (i.e., monied) supporter for her political campaign.

I’m dismissing the boyfriend stalking charge since he now supports her campaign. Whatever happened then, he clearly doesn’t think it affects Wehby’s ability to serve the people of Oregon and America.

The ex-husband charge (harassment and striking) intrigues me, because it reminds me very strongly of something that happened to a friend of mine. She and her husband were involved in a contentious divorce. Things came to a head when she went to his house (he owned it before they were married) to pick up some of her stuff. He refused to let her in, and said he would call the cops on her. She responded by yelling at him and swatting his chest.

You have to understand here that her soon-to-be ex stood at 6’2″ and was a burly man. My friend was 5’2″ and one of the physically weakest people I’ve ever met. She needed help lifting big binders. There was no possibility that she hurt or threatened him as she swatted him. Nevertheless, he had someone restrain her until the cops came along and then insisted that they arrest her.

My friend told me later that the cops apologized profusely for having to arrest her, because they recognized that the arrest was a travesty. Nevertheless, California law mandates that if a spouse says he was abused and demands that the alleged abuser gets arrested, then the alleged abuser must be arrested and prosecuted.

When the case went to trial, my friend was triumphantly acquitted and, I believe, the judge fined her ex for abusing both the divorce and criminal law processes.

That story makes me somewhat dubious about the claims from Wehby’s ex. In the context of a divorce, the problem nowadays isn’t just that one partner or another might become violent. It’s that one partner or another might lie about the other becoming violent.

***

She murdered two people and then lied about that fact when she came to America, got citizenship, and became an influential activist for Islamic interests in America. You and I might think that the victims in this case are the two dead men and the American people. Au contraire, my naive friends. She is the victim (of course).

***

The Marines are breathing a sigh of relief that one of their own finally got the recognition he deserved. Cpl. William Kyle Carpenter (ret.) will receive the Medal of Honor for throwing himself on a live grenade to save a comrade’s life. He was terribly injured in the blast.

Carpenter has mixed feelings about the honor:

“There are guys who I was with who didn’t come back, so it’s hard for me to wear this and have the spotlight on me the rest of my life when they lost their life on a hot, dusty field in Afghanistan and most people don’t even know their names,” Carpenter said. “Even at Walter Reed, I recovered with quadruple-amputees. How am I supposed to wear this knowing and seeing all the hardships that are much worse than mine that guys have gone through without any recognition?”

Carpenter sounds like a very worthy recipient for the nation’s highest military honor.  To fully appreciate just how worthy, check out this article and check out this video:

***

And to leave things on an equally uplifting, but somewhat more cheerful-in-a-silly-way note, here’s an adorable dancing two-year old. What I like particularly isn’t actually his dancing but is, instead, his “Vogue-ish” posing between dance moves: