The Bookworm Beat (11/14/14) — Emptying the inbox (and Open Thread)

Woman writingNo thoughts today, either profound or self-centered. Just a burning desire to share with you all the wonderful things that come my way:

Dr. Jonathan Gruber — the gift that keeps on giving

It seems as if every conservative writing is churning out good stuff about what Gruber said, who he is, and what it all means. I can’t add to what they’re saying, but I can pass it along.

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Obamacare: Destroying the middle class, one family at a time (by Anonymous)

Jonathan Gruber Health Care Obamacare for DummiesA Bay Area resident who reads my blog, asked that I publish an open letter to Dr. Jonathan Gruber.  Because the letter’s writer has to make a living here in Marin (70% Democrat), she’s writing under a pseudonym.  I’m betting that this letter will resonate with many of you:

***

Dear Dr. Gruber,

I watched your panel discussion videos with fascination where you talk about creating Obamacare and how you needed to obfuscate and deceive in order to get it passed. I noticed how you hold the voting American public in contempt, saying how stupid we all are.

After viewing it I thought I would write to you to let you know how your important legislation for which you got paid $400,000 in consulting fees has affected my life. Because when I hear you speak about the voters of this country I don’t get the feeling that you have any understanding or empathy for us. I am sure you have more important things to think about.

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The Bookworm Beat (11/13/14) — Morality edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingAs you’ve probably noticed, I’ve spent a bit of the past two days doing housecleaning at my site: I’ve upgraded the comments feature (for the better, I hope) and I’ve rebooted the “read more” feature so that posts are truncated, requiring less vertical scrolling, but can easily be expanded and contracted without having to leave the home page. I’ve also done housecleaning in my house, with a much-needed pantry clear-out. Now, I’m cleaning out my inbox, ’cause there’s a lot of stuff in there that’s interesting. Who says spring cleaning can only take place in spring?

So, if you’re interested in this portmanteau post, click “read more” and you’ll see it unfold before you.

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The Watcher’s Council Weasel of the Week

Watcher’s Council members voted for the Weasel of this past Week, and it’s entirely possible that the winning candidate may have won unanimously.  Anywhere, for your enjoyment, I present the verbatim copy of the original post at the Watcher’s website.

It’s time to present this week’s statuette of shame, The Golden Weasel!!

Every Tuesday, the Council nominates some of the slimiest, most despicable characters in public life for some deed of evil, cowardice or corruption they’ve performed. Then we vote to single out one particular Weasel for special mention, to whom we award the statuette of shame, our special, 100% plastic Golden Weasel. This week’s nominees were all slime-worthy,but in the end the winner was..the envelope please…

http://cdn.breitbart.com/mediaserver/Breitbart/Big-Government/2014/Obamacare/jonathan-gruber-ap.jpg
Obamacare Architect Jonathan Gruber!!

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The Bookworm Beat (11/12/14) — The “trigger warning” edition (and Open Thread)

Woman writingIf I’ve written this post correctly, it should trigger discomfort in sensitive Leftists.  “Trigger warnings,” for those of you fortunate enough not to move in circles that use them, are warnings at the beginning of any information presentation, be it fact or fiction, written or oral, aural or visual. They tell people with certain sensitivities that the material following the warning might upset them. For example, The Cat In The Hat might be preceded by a trigger warning stating “Trigger Warning: This book contains references to cats, which may be triggering to people suffering from Ailurophobia; references to boys, which may be triggering to people suffering from Misanthropy; references to girls, which may be triggering to people suffering from Misogyny; and references to Things, which may be triggering to people suffering from fear of Things.”

These trigger warnings started amongst the feminists, who manage to hold simultaneously conflicting thoughts, the first being that they are roaring women (and you’d better hear them), and the second that they are such fragile flowers that anything can permanently damage them. I’m not so sure anymore that trigger warnings are just a malicious feminist virus.  Instead, to the extent that trigger warnings are taking over American college campuses, I think that they’re actually part of a fiendish plot that transcends lunatic feminists in Herstory Departments across America.

Think about it: For decades, the Left has carefully controlled the material available to college students. Just when young people’s minds should be in their most receptive, inquiring mode, these youngsters are shut off in an institution that spoon feeds them carefully vetted material pointing to a single world view. As a conservative I met today told me, his grandson, a UC student, proudly boasted that everyone at his college voted Democrat in the last election. That may be an exaggeration, but it’s close enough to the truth to disturb all of us.

The problem for Leftist control freaks is the fact that they only get the students for 4-7 years, and that even during that time there’s the chance that the students, during visits home, or while picking up a random magazine abandoned at a Starbucks might accidentally be exposed to facts or analysis challenging the Leftist paradigm. Even the most zealous Leftist academic can’t police students all the time. Moreover, there’s always the problem that an insufficiently indoctrinated student might be embarrassed at the sheeple-ness of it all (is there no rebellion left amongst the young?) and foment an intellectual revolution.  What’s an academic to do?

What the enterprising academic will do is vaccinate the students so that they develop antibodies that make them permanently resistant to any new information whatsoever. That’s what the “trigger warning” is. It inoculates brains against all ideas but for Leftist ones.  Mention preprogrammed words, phrases, or ideas — e.g., liberty, Founding Fathers, Constitution, decent men, rape fallacy, conservatives, Republicans, etc. — and the students are so sensitized that they instantly, and without any higher brain function, start screaming “It’s a trigger!” after which they fall on the floor in a sobbing heap, inconsolable until someone comes along and whispers in their ears restorative words such as Social Justice, right side of history, racism, sexism, etc.

As long as our young people are not just taught Leftism, but are taught to panic at anything that challenges Leftism, they are unreachable. They have been vaccinated against ideas about individual liberty, constitutionalism, morality, etc. Sad, but true….

But if you’re made of stronger stuff, if you can read ideas that might not mesh with yours, I probably have something to offer you in this little grab bag of links and pictures.

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Words of advice to the incoming Republican-majority Congress (and Open Thread)

United States Capitol BuildingIt seems to me that, as a political watcher and self-appointed pundit, I ought to offer some words of advice to the incoming Republican-majority Congress.  There are, after all, a lot of things it can do.  Yes, Obama has the veto, but his cries of “do-nothing Republicans” start sounding pretty hollow if the Republicans are passing bills like crazy (including the ones that Harry Reid refused to bring to the floor), only to have Obama veto every one of them.  Indeed, it might be better for 2016 if Obama does veto every single bill, because the country would finally get to see what Republicans and conservatives stand for, without having Obama, as executor, purposefully bollix up those initiatives in an effort to discredit the Republican brand.

Jeff Sessions has already promised that, if Obama goes ahead with his amnesty plan, a Republican-led Congress will do everything in its power to stop it.  The talking heads will cry “racist,” but I suspect that, given how unpopular amnesty is, Americans will recognize that it’s unconstitutional for the President to grossly expand his legitimate authority to issue pardons that he effectively co-opts legislative power. We know that the RINOs in Congress will use the opportunity to rebuke Obama as a way to enact some sort of immigration reform that includes amnesty, but any bills that are passed will at least have the virtue of having some checks against an unlimited, unconstitutional amnesty intended for no other purpose than to expand the Democrat brand for all future elections.

Speaking of those immigrants, a Republican-majority Congress, aided by the GOP, should spend the next two years education (not pandering to, but educating) minorities about the ways in which small government will benefit them.  With Obama’s six-year run as a backdrop — since it was a time during which minorities fell back by every measurement — Republicans should talk up the benefits of the free-market and individual liberty.  This is the time to explain that a rising tide lifts all boats, meaning that sometimes, contrary to Obama, it’s a good thing when the waters rise.

A Republican-led Congress can act as a counterweight to Obama’s embrace of Iran — especially given that Obama has already made it plain that he intends to circumvent Congress in order to enter into agreements with Iran that walk like treaties, talk like treaties, and act like treaties, with the only distinction being that Obama swears that they’re not actually treaties, so that Congress can have no say.  With Harry Reid in charge of the Senate, Obama could have gotten away with that kind of initiative.  A Republican Senate, one more jealous of its constitutional prerogatives, may actually push back a bit, saving the world from a nuclear Iran.

A Republican-led Congress can use its power of the purse to penalize countries that support ISIS and any other radical Islamists, and to support those that stand with America against radical Islam.  It can also send moral support to those in the field fighting against radical Islam.  As we know from those who were dissidents against the Soviet Union in the 1960s through 1980s, when you’re fighting a despot, moral support matters.  It’s the antidote to the cognitive dissonance that is ordinary life in a tyranny.

A Republican-led Congress should pass bills repealing Obamacare.  We know Obama will veto those bills, but it will show Americans which party is on the side of the people, because the people continue to hate Obamacare by significant majorities.  In addition to a blanket bill challenging Obamacare, Republicans should offer bills aimed at creating a true free market in medical care and medical insurance.  It is this free market that is most likely to ensure that all Americans, in fact, have affordable access to quality care.  Again, we know Obama will veto these bills, but the point is to educate the American public.

A Republican-led Congress should put serious weight behind investigations into the IRS scandal, Fast & Furious, Benghazi, and all the other scandals that Democrats have ignored and serious Republicans have been impotent to address.  It’s time for the American people to know what “the most transparent administration ever” has been doing behind closed doors.

If I had my way, a Republican-led Congress would appoint a committee to troll through existing legislation and begin repealing laws that are out-dated, irrelevant, burdensome traps for the unwary.  Indeed, shrinking the sheer volume of federal laws (and, with it, the even greater volume of federal regulations) could be the best gift a Republican-led Congress could ever give to the citizens of the United States.

And for my final word of advice to a Republican-led Congress:

Don't bungle this opportunity

Obamacare goes from horribly bad to even more terribly worse

Obamacare error 404C. Steven Tucker has had a 20 year career as a health insurance broker. Having enabled his clients, just barely, to weather Obamacare’s roll-out, he’s now reporting that the worst is still to come — and that this year is even more horrible than last year because of an Obama GAG rule on insurance companies:

Last year when more than 4 million cancellation notices went out, Americans were able to shop for prices as early as October 1st, granted the initial roll out left much to be desired. In fact, in my opinion it was an unmitigated disaster. Many of my clients spent hours on the phone with Healthcare.gov ‘navigators’ only to find out that their application had then mysteriously disappeared.

Worse yet, because our state’s “C.H.I.P” program was expanded long before Obamacare. The few members of my clientele who actually qualified for an APTC – “Advance Premium Tax Credit”  a.k.a. “subsidy” to artificially lower their premiums were unable to add their children to their subsidized policies. They were instead instructed to enroll their children in Medicaid. Or, they could pay full price for each of their children. The rates for a single child in my state are at least $100 a month for the cheapest “Bronze” plan which includes a $6,000 deductible per person. That’s not exactly ‘affordable care’ when you have three children.

This year, for the first time in 20 years I can not even quote a replacement product because Barack Obama has issued a GAG ORDER to the health insurance industry instructing them not to disclose their January 2015 health insurance rates until after the mid-term elections. This is unprecedented. Normally health insurance premiums are released for public viewing 60 days before the January 1st effective date. Where are the reports on these cancellations and the gag order from NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN? The only news organization that I am aware of that has reported on any of this is the Fox News channel. I can guarantee you one thing, not one of my clients who received a cancellation notice is voting Democrat on Tuesday.

Read the rest here.

Socialized medicine and passive-aggressive genocide

China Earthquake

Long ago in China, a boy coming home from school met up with his father, who was carrying on his back a basket holding the boy’s grandfather.

“Oh, father,” asked the boy, “where are you taking Honorable Grandfather?”

The father signaled that the boy should come closer, and then whispered in his ear, “I’m taking grandfather up to the waterfall. If I throw him over the edge suddenly, death will greet him so quickly, it will be painless.”

Aghast, the boy asked, “Why would you do that to Honorable Grandfather?”

“Because I must,” his father whispered back. “Honorable grandfather is too old to help in the field or around the house. Instead, he just sits in the corner, eating our food, drinking our tea, and requiring us to care for his needs. A quick, painless death will be better for everyone.”

The son nodded sagely upon hearing his father’s words. Then, as he turned to continue the walk home, the boy reminded his father of one thing. “Dear father, please make sure to bring the basket back, because I’ll need it for you one day.”

Although I was only around 12 when I first read that story, it resonated with me. Aside from admiring the boy’s cleverness, I was so grateful that I didn’t live in a country in which poor people had to make those kinds of choices. I didn’t realize back then that it would take a mere forty years for my country to creep ever closer to justifying the genocide of the old and the sick.  Even more ironically, I didn’t realize that this ugly choice would come about, not because individual poor people could no longer afford to care for their elders, but because our own government has decided that the nation as a whole should no longer care for its old people.

Old people certainly requiring a lot of care. With every passing year, our bodies become more fragile. While we love seeing videos showing very old people doing amazing physical feats, the reality for most people is that the journey to old age is marked by one bodily system after another breaking down. Our skin’s breakdown is the most immediately demoralizing (“I look so old”), but the real damage from aging happens under our skin, as our joints, muscles, and internal organs just stop working very well. Eventually, every cold has the potential for pneumonia; every fall has the potential to end in a broken hip; every chest pain could be a heart attack; and the joint pains that slowed us down in our 50s can render us immobile by our 70s.

Modern medicine, thankfully, can do a lot to ward off some of aging’s worst effects. Putting aside plastic surgery, which heals the spirit not the body, modern medicine offers everything from quick diagnosis and treatment of pneumonia; to hip repairs so effective that the old person can be home in a day or two, rather than confined to a wheelchair or hospital bed for weeks; to an amazing array of heart treatments, whether pills, pacemakers, bypasses, or transplants; and joint fixes that range from pills, to shots, to surgery, to replacement. All of these are the wonders and miracles of the modern age . . . and all of them are very expensive.

If you’re a free market person, you think that the way to address the expense is through the market place. If you had your way, you would allow insurance companies to compete nation-wide for customers, without thousands of micromanaging regulations but, instead, subject only to a few reasonable anti-fraud regulations.  You would also loosen the FDA’s shackles a bit, recognizing that the perfect is the enemy of the good, and that informed consent goes a long way when allowing experimental treatments on patients with fatal diseases. Doctors too would be relieved of some of the regulatory burdens that bind them, as well as the onerous burdens imposed upon them by insurance companies that are themselves straining under government’s strong hand.

However, if you believe that the marketplace is populated by idiots, and that paradise can be achieved only by putting every person’s health and well-being into expert’s hands, you would (1) make a push for single-payer (or “universal” or “socialist”) health care or (2), if you couldn’t go full socialist, you would push for a government-managed marketplace, one that seems to have private providers but, in fact, has the government dictating all aspects of medical insurance and health treatment. In the latter case, you would then tell the public is that this government-controlled market will force insurers and health care providers to lower costs. In either case, you wouldn’t tell the public that,  when the government dictates completely how the healthcare market must be run, the available money in the healthcare marketplace shrinks rapidly.

In a purely socialist system, the government has no incentive to lower costs, because there’s no competition. And in a government-managed system, as we’re seeing with Obamacare, the regulations are so onerous, and the stifling government control over what should be a dynamic marketplace so incompetent, that prices go up and the system runs out of money.  In either case, the provider is then left with only one solution: rationing.

My point about rationing is not hypothetical. In every country that has socialized medicine, there’s some form of rationing going on. What European countries have done to hide the rationing is to let people see doctors (because then people think they’re getting medical care), while issuing regulations telling doctors that there are certain treatments that, while do-able and available, cannot be given to people in the wrong demographic.

And what’s the wrong demographic? The very old and the very sick. Or in other words, the best treatments cannot be given to the people who need them most but instead, are reserved for those healthy young people who somehow stumble into the wrong disease. Even better, you can avoid treating the young people for the disease too if you argue that the disease’s rarity in their age cohort makes testing wasteful, no matter their risks or their symptoms.

When a government-run system runs into a work load too overwhelming to handle, it does something that would result in jail time for any private care provider: it ignores people to death. Just in the last year, we’ve learned about this passive genocide in both England and America. Both the National Health Service and the Veterans Administration simply stopped treating sick people because it was too much effort or because it cost too much to care for them without running over-budget (or, worse, without running the risk of wiping out bonus funds for the bureaucrats).

Because taxpayers paying for socialized (or semi-socialized) medicine dislike it when care providers give up the pretense of care and just kill people, governments that control access to medicine are always looking for alternative ways to trim the numbers of sick people that the system neither can nor wants to treat. The trend for the last decade or so has been to abandon active genocide (directly killing patients through maltreatment or no treatment) and to push what I call “passive aggressive genocide” — a health care system tells the patients to kill themselves.

The whole “you don’t want to live” push started innocuously enough — and reasonably enough — with those Do Not Resuscitate (“DNR”) directives by which patients tell hospitals that, if they have a sudden death incident while in the hospital, the hospital make only minimal efforts to revive them. The rationale is that, contrary to hospital television shows, most people aren’t miraculously saved by CPR — or at least, most old and sick people aren’t.  Additionally, the process of saving someone from sudden cardiac arrest is quite brutal, involving as it does breaking ribs or ripping the chest open to get to the heart.  Even worse, if only extreme measures will save someone’s life, there’s a good likelihood that the person will have suffered full or partial brain death or will be so frail overall that the life-saving procedure will stave death off for only hours or days, or will result in the person living as a vegetable.

The foregoing are all really good reasons to avoid resuscitation. Especially if one is elderly, it seems infinitely preferable to die peacefully under anesthetic (if something goes wrong), as opposed to having your chest beaten or sliced open, only to die soon after or to linger in a coma.  It may have been malpractice that killed Joan Rivers in the first instance but, if her number was really up, it probably would have been easier had she died on the table than lingered, intubated, catheterized, and covered with wires for several days.  Or at least that’s what they tell us.

Thus, for quite a long time, the medical establishment has told us “Old people, for your own good, if you suddenly die in the hospital, stay dead. It will make you happier in the long run.”  And to be honest, I agree with this.  For various reasons, I’ve seen or heard of a lot of people in their 80s and 90s who ended up terribly brutalized by CPR and who died anyway.  That’s why I have a medical directive.  Even good ideas, though, can be the beginning of a slippery slope, especially in a post-moral society.

For example, what do you do if old people start getting expensive before going to the hospital? Well, one of the things you can do is to have Ezekial Emanuel, the architect of Obamacare explain why it’s utterly useless to go on living past age 75 (which, according to the actuarial tables, is close to the average age of death in America anyway):

Seventy-five.

That’s how long I want to live: 75 years.

[snip]

But here is a simple truth that many of us seem to resist: living too long is also a loss. It renders many of us, if not disabled, then faltering and declining, a state that may not be worse than death but is nonetheless deprived. It robs us of our creativity and ability to contribute to work, society, the world. It transforms how people experience us, relate to us, and, most important, remember us. We are no longer remembered as vibrant and engaged but as feeble, ineffectual, even pathetic.

By the time I reach 75, I will have lived a complete life. I will have loved and been loved. My children will be grown and in the midst of their own rich lives. I will have seen my grandchildren born and beginning their lives. I will have pursued my life’s projects and made whatever contributions, important or not, I am going to make. And hopefully, I will not have too many mental and physical limitations. Dying at 75 will not be a tragedy. Indeed, I plan to have my memorial service before I die. And I don’t want any crying or wailing, but a warm gathering filled with fun reminiscences, stories of my awkwardness, and celebrations of a good life. After I die, my survivors can have their own memorial service if they want—that is not my business.

After explaining why it’s so good to die relatively young in a time when lifestyle choices and available medicine mean many of us can live to be quite old, Emanuel hastens to assure readers that he’s not advocating any policy that actually denies medical services to the elderly. He just thinks that old people should all join in with him and aim for dying fairly young.

Emanuel does have a point that many extremely old people complain about how awful it is to be old. Their brains and bodies are breaking down, they’re often dependent on others, and all the tasks of ordinary life are very, very difficult. What Emanuel ignores, though, is that, even as these people complain about the burdens of age, the vast majority of them still prefer it over death. Given the choice, they heed the Biblical admonition to “choose life.”

This life force is why my father, on the last day of his life before dying from cancer, when asked by a doctor “What can I do for you,” gripped that doctor by the lapels and, in a fierce whisper, said “Make me better.” And this is why a friend of mine who had AIDS, and who had stockpiled all sorts of medicines so that he could commit suicide when it got too bad, didn’t commit suicide despite Kaposi’s sarcoma, pneumocystis pneumonia, giardia, pedunculated lesions all over his body, and every other indignity AIDS could visit on what was once a healthy, handsome body. Instead, he fought to the end.

Contrary to Emanuel’s blithe certainty that, when he’s not as smart and good-looking and active as he is now (ahem), then he’ll just walk away from life with no regrets. I doubt it.

But perhaps I’m wrong to doubt that the Emanuel’s of this world are incapable of weakening our will to live. In societies as different as the Bushido warrior culture in WWII Japan and the radical Islamists in today’s world, we see that culture can destroy a human being’s innate life force. Despite our (and every other living creature’s) will to live, we humans can be talked into ignoring that instinct. We can be taught to value death because it serves our society. In Japan, young men who were taught to deny their life force died in kamikaze attacks on Americans; and practically every day, in every place around the world, some young Muslim boy or girl straps a few bombs to himself and goes off to die for Allah.

It’s therefore entirely possible that, if Emanuel and his cohorts spend enough time praising premature death, people will start to buy into it. And you know what?  I don’t even have to phrase this in terms of a hypothesis.  If I just cast my eyes across the Atlantic, I can see the future Emanuel desires.  Europe has had socialized medicine since shortly after WWII and has been pushing euthanasia for decades now.

WaPo columnist Michael Gerson has been looking at what’s happening in Europe.  In today’s opinion piece, he uses the Belgian government’s willingness to grant a serial killer his requested euthanasia as a springboard to discuss Europe’s reverence for medical suicide.

Gerson begins by noting that Belgians opposed to the prisoner’s euthanasia request have pointed out that killing a prisoner who is serving a sentence for murder is remarkably like having a death penalty, which the Europeans find barbaric.  Pro-euthanasia people dismissed this charge. To them, euthanasia is the ultimate act of individual freedom and self-determination. You have the power to cease being and the government will just make sure your decision gets carried out as painlessly as possible.

Put another way:  Europeans will gladly kill you if you’re a good person who has harmed no one, but they draw the line at killing a bad person who has murdered others.  Kind of makes you think, doesn’t it?  Anyway, back to Gerson….

The whole “your body yourself” shtick that pro-euthanasia types in Belgium boast about sounds very nice, of course.  Gerson, though, points out the problem with this “free will” attitude, and the euthanasia system isn’t set up for total free will.  In fact, it’s set up so that the old and the sick are subtly, and not so subtly, told that they’re a drain on society. Gerson explains that the Belgian government has all sorts of legal hurdles before allowing someone to commit legalized suicide and that all these hurdles turn on proving that the soon-to-be-assisted-suicide is mentally or physically defective.  This negates the whole “anyone can cease to live if he wants” and starts to have an icky Nazi quality about it, except that this time the people march themselves to the gas chambers:

[T]he determination of certain societal classes that are helped in committing suicide is hard to separate from a judgment about the worth of those classes. The right to suicide adheres, in this case, not to all human beings but to sick and apparently flawed human beings. And such a “right” begins to look more and more like an expectation. A mentally or physically ill person can be killed, in the end, because they have an illness. A qualification can slide into a justification. This is a particularly powerful social message since people with cancer or severe depression sometimes feel worthless, or like a burden on their families, anyway. It is pitifully easy to make them — with an offer of help — into instruments of their own execution.

And suddenly, there you are . . . right back at the Chinese boy looking at his grandfather in the basket and warning his father that the father’s day will come too.

I’ll close with an anecdote I’ve told before because it deserves repeating. Many years ago, when Holland first enacted its euthanasia law, NPR ran an interview with a Dutchman who explained why euthanasia was a good idea in Holland, while it would be a terrible idea in America.  The secret to Holland’s euthanasia, he said, was socialized medicine.  The man explained that, in America, where medical costs could bankrupt families, those with terminal illnesses could be actively or passively coerced into turning to euthanasia in order to save their family’s finances.

Thus, both this Dutch man and the NPR host who interviewed him were both certain that Americans, when given the choice, would cheerfully throw Grandma from the train in order to save some money.  Europeans, the Dutchman explained, with their cradle-to-grave care, would never be pressured into killing themselves.  The beneficent state would pay all the medical bills, so money would not be an issue when it came to life and death decisions.  The only thing that would matter in Europe, said this Dutchman, was the terminally ill person’s wishes.

I, being a good liberal back in the day, enthusiastically endorsed what he had to say.  Clearly, euthanasia was a dreadful idea in America, where money was God, and people would be tempted to slip arsenic into their dying child’s broth in order to save the college fund for the next kid in line.

The intervening years since I heard that radio interview have revealed that the Dutchman was absolutely and completely wrong. In America, people have willingly bankrupted themselves to save beloved family members.  Mammon becomes meaningless when an extra treatment might give your child or a young mother a few more days, weeks, or years of life.  People have hearts and souls.  They connect to others, especially to those in their families.

The reality is that, when it comes to end of life decisions, the state does not love you.  It really does want you dead when you start costing too much.  If it can’t kill you with the blatant hard sell, it will try to get you to kill yourself by reminding you relentlessly that your best years are having and you should do yourself and society a favor by offing yourself.  Passive-aggressive genocide in a nutshell.  (And somewhere in Hell, a bunch of Nazis are thunking themselves on the heads, saying “Why didn’t we think of that?”)

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.)