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.

Monday morning mash-up — and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesLots of laundry to fold, but that doesn’t mean I can’t highlight a few things that caught my eye.

***

Until our relatives moved away from Los Angeles, twice a year we used to make the trek from the Bay Area to Los Angeles and then back up again.  In the early years, when we hit the central valley, we went through productive farmland as far as the eye could see.  In the last few years — including the Bush years — we often found ourselves driving through a barren Dust Bowl.  It wasn’t a natural drought (which we in California are suffering through this year).  Instead, it was a government-created drought, brought about by rabid environmentalists who have successfully insisted that saving a very small fish is more important than feeding a nation.  Charles C. W. Cooke has more.

***

The Military must view troops by the content of their character and their commitment to the United States, instead of just looking at beards and turbans.  Standards are certainly necessary for military discipline and cohesion, but it’s a stupid military that turns away the best people because of minor deviations from the uniform.

***

The New York Times has always been a Leftist mouthpiece, but it prided itself on being a dignified Leftist mouthpiece.  Back in the day, it was “the Gray Lady” rather than the “wide-eyed, stoned conspiracy theorist.”  At PowerLine, in one of the best articles I’ve seen on the subject, John Hinderaker goes into full lawyer mode to analyze and destroy the Times over-the-top anti-Koch editorial — an editorial that seemed to have emerged without editing from the bowels of The Daily Kos.  I should add that, while Hinderaker’s demolition job is masterful, it’s going out to the choir.  The people who should be listening to him . . . won’t.

***

While we’re on the subject of the far Left Times, P. David Hornik correctly identifies the Times’ Thomas Friedman as one of America’s worst purveyors of old-fashioned, “Elders of Zion” type antisemitism.

***

From the Proving The Point Department comes an Atlantic blog comment elaborating on Rand Paul’s pointed remarks about Bill Clinton’s predatory behavior regarding women.  Adam Chandler starts by quoting Rand Paul’s comments, and then analyzes them briefly in the context of whether Hillary should be forced to pay for Bill’s sins.  He then quotes from Senate Majority Whip Dick Durban, who vociferously defends Hillary.  Chandler wraps up with a paragraph meant to point out that Bill didn’t really get a pass for his sexual misconduct:

Other yet might contend that President Clinton is hardly the recipient of a free pass with regard to l’affaire Lewinsky, even all these years later. During the 2012 Democratic National Convention, the Associated Press controversially incorporated the affair in a fact-check it conducted of Bill Clinton’s convention speech. And, as we mentioned, when Bill Clinton was named “Father of the Year” by the National Father’s Day Council just a few weeks back, radio silence was hard to come by.

One has to wonder if Chandler read what he wrote.  If Bill really didn’t get a pass for his sexual misconduct, which ranged from affairs, to sexual harassment, to rape, to predatory behavior against young girls in the work place, then he wouldn’t be speaking at the 2012 Democrat National Convention or be named “Father of the Year.”  He wouldn’t be the dynamo who fronted much of Obama’s 2012 campaign, and Democrats wouldn’t be excited about the fact that a Hillary presidency gives them a Bill Clinton repeat.  Of course he got a free pass.  The fact that a few articles rake up his significant misdemeanors means nothing when the Democrat establishment still embraces enthusiastically this old lech.  Bill Clinton — a Teddy Kennedy for the 21st Century.

Still clearing the spindle (this may take awhile)

I winnowed down half of my emails yesterday, but still have more than 200 to go.  Some of them, I’m embarrassed to admit, date back to early-ish December.  Those that I’m linking to here are still relevant, though, so don’t be deterred by my delay in posting them.  Also, heads up to those who wrote to me a month ago:  You may finally be getting your reply!  I’ll start with a handful of posts from today, and then start digging into the past:

In his inimitable style, Jonah Goldberg reminds us that, when it comes to guns, as with all things, the perfect is the enemy of the good.  (And if you’d like to read an older book that focuses on the deleterious effects on society from the bureaucrat’s futile, expensive, and Kafka-esque search for perfection, read Philip K. Howard’s The Death of Common Sense: How Law Is Suffocating America.)

Orwell wouldn’t be surprised if he returned from the dead today and found himself on Carleton University’s campus in Canada.  Within hours of students putting up a free speech wall, an “activist” student in his 7th year (that’s not a typo) ripped it down, loudly declaiming that “not every opinion is valid, nor deserving of expression.”  Orwell, of course, phrased it better when he said that “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

We’re taking a moment here for an important public health announcement:  If you’re a woman heading towards or already going through menopause, estrogen therapy not only will not kill you, it will make your life better and, possibly, protect you from certain cancers.  I anxiously look forward (heh!) to the moment when scientists announce that their widely expressed fears about anthropogenic climate change were also wrong, and that we can all stop panicking now.

I’m always embarrassed when I think back to the way I used to admire Thomas Friedman’s faux-sophistication.  Fortunately, as I’ve grown older, I’ve distinguished myself from Friedman by growing wiser too.  That’s why I appreciated this absolutely splendid attack on his most recent idiocy, this one concerning Iran.

Ed Driscoll looks at the icky sexuality and childish adulation that describes so much of the elite Left’s attachment to Obama.  Would it be wrong of me to say that the first part of this way of thinking is a direct lineal descendent of the Democrats’ Jim Crow and slavery approach to blacks, one that saw them view black men fearfully as hyper-sexual beings?

My personal road to Hell is heavily paved with good intentions.  Among those good intentions are book reviews.  I’m fortunate enough to receive books in the mail or on my iPad, and I do really and truly intend to review them.  Somehow, though, the mere phrase “book review” sends me spinning back to 7th grade, and I start procrastinating like crazy.  While I’m procrastinating, I’ll at least give you the link to a very interesting, timely, and somewhat worrisome book that came my way:  Larry Kelley’s Lessons from Fallen Civilizations: Can a Bankrupt America Survive the Current Islamic Threat?.  I won’t give away the ending.  You have to read it yourself, keeping in mind that it was written before Obama’s reelection.

If you thought that the Left is seldom right, you are correct, as this 40 minute video explains.

One of the things the Left does very successfully is to celebrate things that didn’t used to be celebrated (gay marriage, unmarried mothers, etc.).  This GAP Christmas ad campaign is a good example.  As is so often the case when it comes to message, we need to take a page out of the Left’s book.  Instead of constantly challenging their celebrations (challenges that are often divisive when it comes to social conservatives and libertarians), why don’t we start celebrating things we like.  In other words, let’s catch society being good.  When you go on social networks, including new conservative entrants such as Helen’s Page or Ritely, don’t just fulminate about the Left or even praise only conservatives.  Highlight something cheerful and positive that also advances traditional values.

Okay.  I’m down to 175 emails.  More later.  Right now, I’m meeting some conservative gals for lunch.  Yay!

One big post, filled with all sorts of fascinating stuff

I’m very suspicious of “studies.”  As a liberal, I was ready to trust anything that came out of academia.  As a conservative, I’m suspicious of academia, because I know it’s more interested in specific outcomes than in the scientific method.  A good example of this is a survey that was sent around to Marin County women about a decade ago, based upon the statistical fact that Marin County women have a higher than average incidence of breast cancer.  Putting aside the fact that we have a substantial population of very elderly ladies (who are prone to breast cancer) and a lot wealth (meaning the cancer can be caught), one would think the survey would have looked into types of birth control, age of first pregnancy, number (if any) of abortions, breast-feeding history, etc.  It didn’t.  It asked about bacon and power lines.  I threw it away.  My daughter is in a study about how young girls grow.  They want to know about the number of chairs with cushions in our home.  I can think of more useful questions to ask.

There are definitely experts out there, but they’re really not in the colleges.  They’re working in the real world, amassing real information.  Which is all the more reason for us to be very worried about the way the Obama White House is morphing into Thomas Friedman’s wet dream:  an all-powerful entity that uses a small number of academic experts to control America.  His is the anti-democratic presidency.

Changing topics entirely, I’d never heard of Gregg Popovich before today, but I know about him now because he’s just joined the ranks of famous Americans who feel that it is incumbent upon them to insult the Americans who write their paychecks. I might not have noticed this bit of foolishness if it hadn’t fault on the heels of a virtually identical insult from Glenn Close.  My first thought was, “Glenn, why are you offending ticket buyers?”  My second thought was, “Oh, never mind.  You don’t have a career.”  (Of course, when she said we average Americans have the IQs of newts, maybe she was comparing all of us to the brilliant Newt Gingrich, in which case she’s forgiven.)

Speaking of Newt, this is why we like him:

Erick Erickson, of Red State, says Santorum is a big government social conservative, which jives with everything else I’ve read about him.  That’s the reverse of what I think is necessary in the White House and electable in the polling places.  Except for the fact that Quinn Hillyer at National Review says Santorum is also a true conservative who isn’t a big government guy, but respects individual freedom.  Two smart writers, two completely opposing views — what’s a voter to do?

I just want to say that I really, really like Tim Tebow.  I can’t help myself.  I just do.

We knew this, but now it’s in writing from a sycophant:  Obama is subordinate to his wife and doesn’t like the job he fights for so viciously.  Oh, goody.  Just what we need in the White House.

 

Reminder to self: be profound, as all pundits must be

That post caption is a complete lie.  I can issue as many reminders to myself as I like, but when the spirit doesn’t move me, you could look through my house with a magnifying glass and you still wouldn’t find any profundity.  Heck, today I’m not even sure if I could come up with any decent banality, although this post is a good try.

I’m only grateful that I’m not a paid columnist on deadline.  If I was, I’d suddenly find myself being a Tom Friedman or a David Brooks, mouthing less-than-sweet nothings to a paying audience.  Worse, that audience, having paid and having invested many years in proclaiming its wisdom in reading these “great thinkers,” finds itself in the role the courtiers played in “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”  Readers valiantly cheer these pundits’ ponderous prose, which is often quite poorly written, and that varies with pendulum-like rhythm between meaningless and dangerous.

And it’s not just me harshing on them (although I have been known to call Friedman an “idiot”).  Matt Welch, at Reason Magazine, isn’t so thrilled either when he looks at these pundits, complete with large pulpits and small thoughts.  His complaint is that the Friedmans and Brooks of the world (and they’re not the only pundits, of course, just the best known), have a “do something” attitude that demands an immediate government fix to any problem.

By doing this, the pundit crowd reveals so many things:  it’s practical ignorance; it’s need to “make a statement” because each pundit is, after all, paid to do precisely that; and, of course, a world view that’s wedded to proactive government.  The Founders would have been horrified by this last attitude.  In a truly splendid article from National Review, Yuval Levin explains that the Founders, distrustful of both mobs and government, created a system that was intended to make “doing something” extremely difficult:

As the framers saw it, both populist and technocratic politics were expressions of a modern hubris about the capacity of human beings — be it of the experts or of the people as a whole — to make just the right governing decisions. The Constitution is built upon a profound skepticism about the ability of any political arrangement to overcome the limitations of human reason and human nature, and so establishes a system of checks to prevent sudden large mistakes while enabling gradual changes supported by a broad and longstanding consensus. Experts should not govern, nor should the people do so directly, but rather the people’s representatives should govern in a system filled with mediating institutions and opposing interests — a system designed to force us to see problems and proposed solutions from a variety of angles simultaneously and, as Alexander Hamilton puts it in Federalist 73, “to increase the chances in favor of the community against the passing of bad laws through haste, inadvertence, or design.”

All things considered, perhaps it’s a good thing that I’m not up to being profound today.  My sluggish thoughts are right in line with the Founders’ goals.

Friedman tries — but he’s still an idiot

Thomas Friedman has a habit of making obvious statements in grandiose and portentous tones, only to ruin his credibility by following his astute grasp of the obvious with utterly fatuous and meaningless conclusions, bolstered by totalitarian-themed practical recommendations.  His latest column is a perfect example.

In the first paragraph, Friedman describes a piece of decaying infrastructure — which just happens to be an Amtrak line.  Now, that’s an interesting starting point, because I’ve been under the impression that Amtrak is absolutely and completely incapable of functioning with steady government infusions.  It’s a classic example of a completely ineptly run government program.  That is, despite Friedman’s implication the Amtrak’s problem is the current economy, the problem isn’t the recession at all, it’s Amtrak’s fundamental nature.

In his next paragraph, Friedman, in oracular tones, asks a question from on high:  “If we were a serious country, this is what the midterms would be about: How do we generate the jobs needed to sustain our middle class and pay for new infrastructure?”  Having set up his straw man scenario, Friedman follows immediately with a meaningless, “let’s pretend” conclusion:  “It would require a different kind of politics — one that doesn’t conform to either party’s platform.”

How do I know that this is a meaningless, let’s pretend conclusion?  Because Friedman then proceeds to waffle on, as he inevitably does, about taxing the rich and having the government spend on infrastructure.  (“We will have to raise some taxes to generate revenue, like on energy or maybe a value-added tax, and lower others, on payrolls to stimulate work, and on multinational corporations to get them to bring the trillion dollars they have offshore back to the U.S. for investment” and “we’ll probably need more stimulus to get the economy moving again so people have the confidence to buy and invest.”)  As you read that, just think of Friedman’s personal wealth, and ask yourself what percentage he expects to give to the government, and what percentage he happily concludes you ought to give.

But back to that whole “tax and spend on infrastructure” meme….

Pardon me for my confusion, Mr. Friedman, but wasn’t that what you and Obama promised back in 2008 would happen, so much so that our unemployment would be below 9% and are economy booming?  You know — all those “shovel ready” jobs?  You guys sold the nation on the concept of an infrastructure building binge of the type we saw in the 1930s (Hoover Dam, the Tennessee Valley Authority) or the 1950s (the interstate highway system).  As Obama has admitted, he didn’t know what he was talking about and, as David Brooks confirmed, he knew a long time ago that he was selling a lie.  Not only has our money not been used for infrastructure, it’s been used for boondoggles that make Tammany Hall look like amateur hour at the Ritz.  The jobs numbers aren’t so good either, with even reliable Democrat shill 60 Minutes conceding an unemployment rate in excess of 17%.

Friedman tries to hide his usual socialist cheering by following that useless prescription with vaguely uplifting phrases supporting some basic capitalist principles (“Ultimately, though, good jobs at scale come only when we create more products and services that make people’s lives more healthy, more productive, more secure, more comfortable or more entertained — and then sell them to more people around the world,” a goal that will be achieved with workers inspired to become “artisans”) but his heart’s not in it.  The overall tone of his article makes it manifestly clear that he’s incapable of imagining American people, functioning freely in an open marketplace, having the energy and innovation to create those products and services.  Without Nanny State help, he thinks, we’re doomed.

You know what the tell is for the fact that his column doesn’t mark an admission that his prior beliefs were all wrong but is, instead, the usual melange of lies, fantasy, and totalitarian dreaming?  The last sentence:  “Government’s job is to help inspire, educate, enable and protect that work force. This election should have been about how.”  For a nice book translating Friedman’s touchy-feelie totalitarianism, I highly recommend Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.

Have I mentioned that Friedman is an idiot?

The New York Times’ own wacky Tom Friedman *UPDATED*

This is the cozy mansion New York Times‘ columnist Tom Friedman calls home:

thomas_friedman_house

Judging by its size, it probably has a carbon footprint roughly equal to a small nation’s:

As the July edition of the Washingtonian Magazine notes, Friedman lives in “a palatial 11,400-square-foot house, now valued at $9.3 million, on a 7½-acre parcel just blocks from I-495 and Bethesda Country Club.” He “married into one of the 100 richest families in the country” – the Bucksbaums, whose real-estate Empire is valued at $2.7 billion.

Heating and cleaning the pool alone probably consume enough energy to power a factory.  The picture above is somewhat out of date, so things may have changed, but I’ll note that Friedman’s solar panels are, well, conspicuously absent.

All of which makes it screamingly funny when Friedman, after a first paragraph so profoundly ignorant its laughable (I’ll get back to it later), offers the following idea as a means for the Tea Partiers to gain the New York Times‘ seal of approval:

But should the Tea Partiers actually aspire to break out of that range, attract lots of young people and become something more than just entertainment for Fox News, I have a suggestion:

Become the Green Tea Party.

I’d be happy to design the T-shirt logo and write the manifesto. The logo is easy. It would show young Americans throwing barrels of oil imported from Venezuela and Saudi Arabia into Boston Harbor.

The manifesto is easy, too: “We, the Green Tea Party, believe that the most effective way to advance America’s national security and economic vitality would be to impose a $10 “Patriot Fee” on every barrel of imported oil, with all proceeds going to pay down our national debt.”

Friedman is right that America shouldn’t be dependent on foreign oil, but he seems to have forgotten that it’s his own party (and his own paper) that has made it virtually impossible for America (a) to drill, (b) to process oil shale or (c) to produce meaningful nuclear power.  Instead, he’s hooked his wagon to solar and wind energy, both of which are incapable of servicing America’s energy needs.  This means that Friedman wants to make us economically suffer by taxing us even more, without enabling us to have any viable energy alternatives.  (He also thinks a carbon tax is a hunky dory idea.)

A $10 a barrel tax  and a carbon tax may be irrelevant to a man living off of “one of the 100 richest families in the country,” but it will destroy America’s industry and, frankly, every thing else but for her wealthiest class.  In other words, Friedman has neatly spelled out the recipe for an economic meltdown similar to Zimbabwe’s and one that will leave the same outcome:  a poverty stricken nation, centered around a small, fabulously wealthy (and, inevitably, corrupt) ruling class.  We already know which niche Friedman has carved out for himself.

But really, what can one expect from a man who shows his profound ignorance and sneering disdain for America — not to mention his shallow intellectual dilettantism — in his very first paragraph.  (See, I promised I’d get back to it.) I usually wait until deep within my posts to sound this stupid:

I’ve been trying to understand the Tea Party Movement. Sounds like a lot of angry people who want to get the government out of their lives and cut both taxes and the deficit. Nothing wrong with that — although one does wonder where they were in the Bush years. Never mind. I’m sure like all such protest movements the Tea Partiers will get their 10 to 20 percent of the vote.

That paragraph has just got everything one would expect from someone living and work in the one of the ritziest, and most liberal, parts of the world.  In mere sentences, we get oozing condescension for the foolish, impenetrable masses; contempt for the anger that sees people taking to the street, Constitutions in hand, protesting a rapacious federal government; and, of course, the inevitable attack on George Bush.

As to that last point (“where the heck were they during the Bush presidency?”) I think this simple chart is a good starting point for explaining where these same frustrated (as opposed to angry) people were before Obama; or, more accurately, why they weren’t taking to the street to protest government overreach:

usgs_line.php

Need I say more?  No, I don’t think so.

UPDATE:  Turns out — no big shock here — that Friedman’s not the only green colored hypocrite.

Being a contrarian and NOT buying (or being) green *UPDATED*

Am I the only one who has had it up to here and more with the relentless imperative that I buy green?  I have this incredible urge to pollute and waste.  I do not like being bullied, and I am being bullied.

When I’m at the store, surrounded by all the little soldiers staggering under the weight of their reusable bags, I ask for paper and plastic.  After all, you never know which of those bags might rip.  The irony is that, if the store told me that its costs would be lower if I brought my own bags, and that it would then pass that savings on to me, I might be inclined for my own economic benefit to bring in reusable bags.  The green thing, however, sends me careening in the other direction.

When I’m at Whole Foods, which requires a PhD in garbage just to figure out which bin is meant for your particular piece of garbage (paper, plastic, compost, compost with paper, petroleum based, etc.) I throw everything into the lone generic “trash” bin.  No more sorting for me, baby!

I just got invited to one of those neighborhood parties where a friend hosts someone intent on selling goods.  In this case, the goods are handbags.  I might have been interested (handbags, after all, are useful), if the invitation hadn’t stressed that everything was recycled, recyclable, sustainable, organic, and had received Al Gore’s personal seal of approval.  (I made the last one up, but everything else was right there on the invitation.)  I said no.  I’m planning on going to Target tomorrow and buying something cheap, big and PLASTIC.

This is entirely separate from the fact that I have long believed that the whole climate change thing is a giant hoax, meant to destroy the American economy and elevate Al Gore’s (and his friend’s) wealth and status.  The fact that it turns out the climate change people haven’t believe in it either, and have been using fraud, blackmail, bullying, and lies to perpetrate and perpetuate the hoax is just proof of what was already obvious to me, given the identity of those who scream about the whole human created global warming scam.

My green hostility is also separate from the huge element, not of class warfare, but of wealth warfare here.  It is no coincidence that some of the most hysterical greenies (Gore, Tom Friedman, the whole Hollywood crowd) also live the most lavish, ostentatious, un-green life-styles.  These nouveau riche nothings want to make sure that the rest of us don’t get too close in terms of lifestyle and purchasing power.  If we do, there’s nothing else to distinguish these otherwise indistinguishable human beings from the rest of us peons.

As I said, though, my rant today is separate from socialism, class warfare and Al Gore-fare.  Instead, it relates solely to my innate resistance to panic and pushiness.  Don’t start screaming fire in my crowded theater and then try to heard me to an exit that’s just going to lead me off a cliff.

So pardon me while I go run some water, turn on some lights, throw some plastic bags and bottles into the garbage can, and run an unnecessary errand in my gas guzzling van.  I feel the need to make a stand.

As Kermit lamented in the era before environmentalism became a moral imperative and apocalyptic movement, “It’s not that easy being green.”

UPDATE:  I should probably add here that, like most of my readers, I’m not normally a wasteful person (aside from the occasional anti-green temper tantrum).  My conservation efforts, though, come about, not because of green bullying, because I like to conserve my wealth and because I hate to fund Wahabbi-ism.

UPDATE II:  I’m going to clarify my prior update, because I want it to be clear that I’m not advocating profligate use of resources or rampant pollution.  There’s nothing wrong with conservatives being environmentally aware, whether because they’re cheap, or because they hate waste, or because they believe that humans are stewards for the earth, or because they hate funding Saudis, or for any number of reasons.  Those who know me know that I’m frugal to the point of being a cheapskate, and that I live a very low impact life for a middle class suburban person.

I’m just sick to death, however, of the apocalyptic moralizing and bullying, and the frenetic, hysterical tone that characterizes the discourse about respecting the earth’s resources.  As you can imagine, all of those negative influences reach a high pitch on a routine basis in Marin and, on those days when the din is too loud, I go and commit acts of waste as a form of civil disobedience.

Getting past the “idiot,” “nuts” and “wacko” factor so that liberals have their moment of cognitive dissonance *UPDATED*

I’ve been thinking a lot about responses to my post regarding the gal who is running for town council, the one who donated to Obama, and who nevertheless seems to be a fiscal conservative.  I asked how she can live with the cognitive dissonance.  Several of you pointed out, in one form or another, that it’s not cognitive dissonance if you don’t know facts sufficient to create that dissonance.  In other words, if this gal lives in the traditional liberal world, watching CNN or MSNBC, listening to NPR, and reading the New York Times and The New Yorker, she went into the election cycle with a “unified theory of Obama” that included the belief that Obama had the intelligence, the temperament and even the experience to bring fiscal control to Washington, D.C.  In other words, the media was feeding her (falsified) data entirely consistent with her fiscal beliefs.  Cognitive dissonance, if she feels any, should be hitting about now, when even the most loving media cannot hide the disconnect between Obama “as sold,” and Obama “as is.”

I had this point — namely, that liberals are incapable of making rational decisions because they’re relying on intentionally faulty data — dramatically illustrated to me this morning when my husband was just kvelling about Thomas Friedman’s column saying that he thinks incivility on the right is building up to the same levels that characterized the time preceding Rabin’s assassination.  I countered by saying that Friedman had no credibility because, during the Bush years, he completely ignored all the death threats against and assassination fantasies about Bush, and that even now he is still ignoring the vile insults major political figures are raining down on people opposed to ObamaCare.  My husband’s response:  I was “nuts,” an “idiot” and “wacko.”  Why?  Because I was making all of that stuff up.  My husband’s mental furniture didn’t include any death threats against Bush, and there were no fantasies about his assassination.  And as for the debate now, nobody’s been hurling insults at conservatives.

And you know what?  In my husband’s completely insular media universe, everything he says is absolutely true.  None of that has happened.  He has been completely protected from any words or images showing ugliness emanating from the Left.  And now he’s seeing only ugliness emanating from the Right.  Therefore, in my husband’s mind, Friedman is absolutely correct to write a column about the horrors of conservative hatred, because it’s the first time political hatred has happened.  Now, my husband has a small excuse for this type of ignorance, because he doesn’t work in the media.  Further, since he religiously reads the paper and magazines, and listens to the radio, he believes he’s informed.  Friedman, who works in the center of New York’s media, has no such excuse.

This why the type of work O’Keefe and Giles did, with Andrew Brietbart’s help, is so incredibly important.  They are breaching the heavily fortified walls guarding the media universe, and forcing the gatekeepers to acknowledge the existence of data inconsistent with its prevailing world view.  And as more of that data leaks into the liberal kingdom, more and more of the liberals trapped within those walls are going to start figuring out that they’ve been on the receiving end of the big lie.

UPDATE:  Dan Rather perfectly illustrates, not just life in the bubble, but the refusal to venture out of the bubble.

Disingenuous Tom Friedman

Tom Friedman, man of the New York Times, writes to assure American Jews that Obama is no threat whatsoever to Israel’s security.  His column is a nasty little piece of work, not for what it says, but for what it doesn’t say.  It opens with a series of scare quotations purported from Barack Obama, all about the tragedy of the Palestinians, the two state solution and the need for Israel to turn over the territories it captured in the 1967 War.  Then Friedman says, “Surprise!  George Bush really said all that.”  If you love George Bush, he implies, you’re going to love Obama.

Friedman also draws a few overarching conclusions from those Bush scare quotes, all of which are wrong to one degree or another:

What does that tell you? It tells me several things. The first is that America today has — rightly — a bipartisan approach to Arab-Israeli peace that is not going to change no matter who becomes our next president.  [Well, it's going to have to change because the history of the last eight years -- no, make that the last 16 years -- has shown that the bipartisan approach doesn't work.  The parties' goals are too different.  Israel wants peace and a two-party state (if the latter will get that piece); the Arabs want the destruction of the Jewish state and the death of all Jews.  Not a lot of negotiating room between those two poles.] America, whether under a Republican or Democratic administration, is now committed to a two-state solution in which the Palestinians get back the West Bank, Gaza and Arab parts of East Jerusalem, and Israel gives back most of the settlements in the West Bank, offsetting those it does not evacuate with land from Israel.  [See my comment above.  The two-state solution was tried in the 20s when the League of Nations created Tran-Jordan, which was to be the Arab State.  It was tried in the 40s, when the UN took the Jewish half of that 1920s effort and halved it again.  Apparently the two state solution means that you constantly cut the Jewish state in half until it doesn't exist any more.]

Of course, the above blather is just Friedman’s throat clearing.  The real reason Obama will be better for Israel is that Arabs will like him and be more inclined to bargain with him:

But what matters a lot more is that under Mr. Bush, America today is neither feared nor respected nor liked in the Middle East, and that his lack of an energy policy for seven years has left Israel’s enemies and America’s enemies — the petro-dictators and the terrorists they support — stronger than ever. The rise of Iran as a threat to Israel today is directly related to Mr. Bush’s failure to succeed in Iraq and to develop alternatives to oil.

It doesn’t seem to occur to Friedman that Arabs like Obama better because they think he’ll give them a better deal than they’ve gotten so far.  That is, it’s not about respect, it’s about the perception that he’s a pushover.  I wonder what could have given them that idea?

Could it be that Jeremiah Wright, his now-jettisoned spiritual adviser, is openly antisemitic?  Could it be that Samantha Power, his now-jettisoned foreign policy adviser, was openly hostile to Israel?  Could it be because Robert Malley, another now-jettisoned foreign policy adviser, engaged in talks with Hamas, a group dedicated to Israel’s complete and total destruction?  Could it be because Obama thinks it’s totally okay for the U.S. President to put his prestige on the line to talk to Ahmadinejad without preconditions, even though that puts a U.S. imprimatur on Ahmadinejad’s domestic and foreign policies, legitimizes someone whose primary dream is the nuclear destruction of Israel, and raises the distinct possibility that Obama will be forced into some very unpleasant concessions to save face?  Could it be because Obama has shown himself to be singularly uninformed about history and the nature of interactions with tyrants?  Could it be because Obama, with his statement about Iran’s “small” size, has shown himself to be profoundly unaware of the nature of asymmetrical warfare?  He seems unclear on the concept that, if airplanes into the Twin Towers really upset Americans, a nuclear bomb in Seattle will upset them even more.

Somehow Friedman never answers those questions.  Heck, he never even asks those questions.  The one thing Friedman does is imply that Jews who care about Israel’s security are un-American:

Personally, as an American Jew, I don’t vote for president on the basis of who will be the strongest supporter of Israel. I vote for who will make America strongest. It’s not only because this is my country, first and always, but because the single greatest source of support and protection for Israel is an America that is financially and militarily strong, and globally respected. Nothing would imperil Israel more than an enfeebled, isolated America.

In fact, nothing would enfeeble America more than to treat as an equal partner the worst kind of genocidal tyrant — a man who has blood on his hands from 29 years ago, who is overseeing the development of nuclear weapons, who has threatened the complete destruction of another nation state, and who is imprisoning his own people in a theocratic Hell.

I used to read these types of articles in the Times and think the writers were foolish or naive.  I simply can’t hold to that view any more.  These are people who are deliberately twisting and hiding the truth to advance an agenda that would destroy the only liberal democracy in the entire Middle East and advance the spread and agenda of religious tyrannies whose words and actions make absolutely clear their intent to seek world domination, one Jewish and/or American body at a time (although it would be better if they could use the bomb and do it by the hundreds of thousands).  That can’t possibly be in America’s interests.  (And as better writers than I have carefully pointed out, if Israel were to go away, the jihadists would still be at our throat, only with renewed vigor, since we’d have shown that we’re weak enough to be destroyed.)