The Bookworm Beat 6-24-15 — the “midnight ramblings” edition

Woman-writing-300x265I should be heading for bed, as it’s after midnight, but I’m so thrilled to have a moment to myself that I can’t resist a little blogging. I’m feeling especially smug (and tired) tonight because my heroic 1:30 a.m. efforts yesterday were the difference between success and ignominious failure on a big motion. Damn it all! I deserve some time to write.

Anything you can be I can be better….

My favorite military humorist, Lee Ho Fuk has taken the Rachel Dolezal mantra — “anything you can be I can be better” — to a whole new level:

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The Bookworm Beat 5-7-15 — the “Damn it, I’m a lawyer” edition and open thread

Woman writingI spent way too much time today wearing my lawyer, daughter, and mother hats, with no time for my blogger hat. Well, the blogging time is now, and I’ve got lots of stuff to share. As is often the case when I’m tired, these are not in any particular order, so you should read the whole thing, rather than assuming “substance at the top and fluff at the bottom.”

Leftists and math

The Chicago teachers’ union is at it again, trying to suck blood out of a rock, the blood being pension funding and the rock being the virtually bankrupt city of Chicago. The friend who sent me this link had a pungent comment about the fact that, for people like Communist and labor leader Karen Lewis, math is hard:

“Once again, the board has created a fiscal crisis in order to justify its continued attack on our classrooms and communities,” Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis said, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “By citing its so-called $1.5 billion deficit, the mayor is proposing a reduction in teaching staff which will result in larger class sizes and the loss of teaching positions.”

At the center of the complaint is the Chicago Board of Education, which wants teachers, social workers and other union members to take a 7 percent pay cut by paying their own pension contributions in order to address some of the city’s economic problems. The union, which has rejected the pension reform proposal, has accused the board of bad-faith bargaining for refusing to reach an agreement of substance in talks which began in November.

Lewis accused the school system of being “broke on purpose” and for retaliating against the union simply because it opposed Democratic Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the recent reelection.

I love that phrase: “Broke on purpose.” I’m going to have to try to work it into my own day-to-day life.

A cri de couer re the suddenly ubiquitous trigger warnings

As is true for many of us, Michael Rubin didn’t see trigger warnings coming. It’s just that suddenly there they were, censoring people left and right — although really mostly to the Right, leaving the field open to the only group sensitive enough to avoid all trigger warnigs: Hard core Leftists. Rubin understands what’s really going on and has a suggestion of his own:

All trigger warnings should have a trigger warning so that no one who has experienced or fled from a repressive society might suffer post-traumatic stress reminding them of the authoritarian, Orwellian oppression from which they fled. Millions of people in the countries which comprised the Soviet Union, as well as in China, Cambodia, and Eastern Europe, not to mention tens of thousands of people in Iran, Vietnam, Ethiopia, and Eritrea have lost loved ones or spent time in prison/re-education camps for not abiding by the state’s determination of what they should think and believe. Trigger warnings, even if well intentioned, might remind them of this oppressive and sometimes lethal political correctness and cause undue stress. Accordingly, in order to protect the mental well-being of those who value liberty, intellectual freedom, and oppose censorship, perhaps it’s time to agree to put trigger warnings ahead of trigger warnings to ensure that no one is inadvertently stressed out by the decline in mental and intellectual maturity and the infantilization of society which trigger warnings represent.

The person who brings a gun to a free speech fight is ALWAYS wrong

The practically moribund, but still breathing, Time Magazine, to its credit, gave Pamela Geller space in which to make her case. Her case is the correct one. I urge all of you to read this and, if you have a Facebook page, Twitter account, or email round-Robin, to send it along.

The attack in Garland showed that everything my colleagues and I have been warning about regarding the threat of jihad, and the ways in which it threatens our liberties, is true. Islamic law, Sharia, with its death penalty for blasphemy, today constitutes a unique threat to the freedom of speech and liberty in general.

Freedom of speech is the foundation of a free society. Without it, a tyrant can wreak havoc unopposed, while his opponents are silenced.

Putting up with being offended is essential in a pluralistic society in which people differ on basic truths. If a group will not stand for being offended without resorting to violence, that group will rule unopposed, while everyone else lives in fear.

[snip]

Many in the media and academic elite assign no blame to an ideology that calls for death to blasphemers — i.e., those who criticize or offend Islam. Instead, they target and blame those who expose this fanaticism. If the cultural elites directed their barbs and attacks at the extremist doctrine of jihad, the world would be a vastly safer place.

Read the whole thing and try to get everyone else you know to do so too.

That’s the redoubtable, inimitable, absolutely necessary Pamela Geller in her own words. For other good words about free speech, I recommend David French’s “Pamela Geller’s Critics Are Proving Her Point,” and Rich Lowry’s “Why Won’t Pamela Geller Shut Up?” Both these articles are must-reads.

Also, if you want a perfect Kodak moment of Leftist hypocrisy, check out John Nolte’s post about the New York Times, which condemns Geller from bashing one religion while it bashes another.

Oh, and one more thing: our craven government security forces — that would be the FBI and Homeland Security — haven’t even bothered to talk to Geller about the threats against her life from Islamists.

James Franco in praise of McDonald’s

I love McDonald’s Chicken Selects and believe that they serve the best french fries around. Wherever you are, it’s a reliable, cheap meal. McDonald’s is also a great entry level job, teaching youngsters such virtues as punctuality, reliability, and hard work. So even though I find him distasteful, I have to applaud James Franco for writing a WaPo opinion piece praising McDonald’s.

Shy Tories strike again

In 1992, in England, polls indicated that many fewer Brits would vote Conservative than would vote for Labour. In fact, Conservatives won by a substantial margin. And thus was born the “shy Tory factor” which said that, in a climate in which Leftists humiliate, berate, and otherwise attack conservatives, people lie to pollsters about their voting preferences. That seems to have happened again in England, where David Cameron took an unexpected lead — unexpected, that is, to all of those who forgot the shy Tory factor.

Tom Cotton takes a principled stand against a Constitution-weakening Trojan Horse

Tom Cotton was the only Senator to vote against the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act. He did so for all the right reasons. In his own words:

“A nuclear-arms agreement with any adversary—especially the terror-sponsoring, Islamist Iranian regime—should be submitted as a treaty and obtain a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate as required by the Constitution. President Obama wants to reverse this rule, requiring opponents to get a two-thirds vote to stop his dangerous deal. But Congress should not accept this usurpation, nor allow the president any grounds to claim that Congress blessed his nuclear deal. I will work with Republicans and Democrats to stop a dangerous deal that would put Iran on the path to obtaining a nuclear weapon.”

I like that young man.

Harrison Bergeron comes to life

I’ve often mentioned Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron,” which is set in a dystopian future where everyone is equal. Vonnegut, in the days before he turned into a brain-dead Leftist, realized a core problem with the whole “everyone must be perfectly equal” movement: You cannot make dumb people smart, or slow people fast, or ugly people beautiful; however, you can make smart people dumb, fast people slow, and beautiful people ugly. In other words, the only way to level society is to lower society — that is, to bring everyone in it to the lowest common denominator.

Kevin Williamson points out that, decades after Vonnegut wrote his timeless story, the Left is still busily trying to bring America down to the lowest common denominator.

Vandalism just cheapens our cause

I did a post about the attack on Christianity, and used as one of my discussion points a stupid church sign in Mill Valley that likened God and Joseph to gay men who parented Jesus. I used speech to attack speech, which epitomizes the marketplace of ideas.

Unfortunately, someone vandalized the sign, which is not an argument; it’s just tantamount to a heckler’s veto and makes us no better than the Left. It would have been so much better to have emailed my post to everyone in Mill Valley….

There won’t always be an England

When I lived in England more than 30 years ago, the North was much more British than the more cosmopolitan South. There were many fewer foreigners living there, and the old towns had people whose families had lived in the region for hundreds of years.

I therefore always find it particularly appalling when I read articles describing the Islamisization of Yorkshire — a trend that carries with it anti-British sentiment, antisemitism, misogyny, homophobia, and a whole host of other disgusting social pathologies that Islam invariably trails in its wake.

The Leftist revolution continues to eat its own

All I can offer you is the lede to this Daily Caller story. You have to read the whole thing yourself to appreciate it fully:

Students at Dartmouth College launched a petition drive demanding the newly-elected student body president resign after they say he was disrespectful to the plight of American blacks and other marginalized groups.

The twist: The president is a gay black man.

Wolf Howling sent me this story. I wrote him back to say that the phrase about revolutions eating their own was the right idea for what I wanted to say, but it just had too brawny and masculine a feel for what’s going on. Seeing a fight like the one at Dartmouth is kind of like watching Lord of the Flies, only with a cast of feral two-year olds.

Is Hillary too sick to be president?

If this D.C. gossip story about Hillary’s seriously fragile health, centered around brain damage issues, is true, Hillary is committing a fraud against the American people. Of course, there’s nothing new about that, so why am I even getting excited about it?

Even when Leftists get close to the truth, they veer away before touching it

My friend Patrick O’Hannigan caught something interesting in Vanity Fair when Leftist pundit James Woolcott tried to write an even-handed critique about dishonesty in the American media: with the best will in the world, he couldn’t do it.  His bias just kept oozing out.

Which reminds me of a Scientific American article by Piercarlo Valdesolo that’s been making the rounds. In it, Valdesolo acknowledges that strong Leftist bias in social psychology and acknowledges that it perverts study outcomes and analyses. He notes that conservatives say that the answer is to allow more conservatives into these liberal only enclaves, both to get studies with other viewpoints, and to get necessary push back on the Leftists’ own work.

One would think that, have admitted that it’s a problem that there are no conservatives in the field, Valdesolo would agree that the field needs more conservatives. If one thought that, one would think wrong. Instead, Valdesolo says that liberals simply have to be more vigilant about their biases. James Woolcott’s failure pretty much illustrates everything that’s wrong with Valdesolo’s inability to contemplate doing away with Leftist academic monopolies.

Leftists: Damaged individuals who have formed a priesthood to take revenge on society at large

School-bully-001Near the end of his talk about American communists’ long-term plan (now coming to fruition) to flood America with a permanent Democrat majority through Hispanic amnesty, Trevor Loudon tossed in an interesting throwaway.  When someone asked him why Leftists would want to reduce the US to the status of a Latin American banana Republic, he said that, in a conversation with Tammy Bruce (a former hard Leftist herself), she told him “They’re all damaged individuals.”  That is, we have a powerful political movement made up of damaged people out for revenge.

That notion popped into my mind again today when I read on my Facebook stream the newest attack against the Tom Cotton letter.  (You’ll recall that the first attack was to call Cotton and the other signatories “traitors” and “Logan Act violators,” followed by efforts to claim that reserve officers violated various military codes.)  The newest claim that’s come to my attention is that Cotton and Co. are AIPAC’s puppets:

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The Tom Cotton letter usefully highlights Leftist stupidity

1364477366-tom-cottonI side with the people who think that Tom Cotton and the 46 senators who joined with him in an open letter to apprise the Iranians about the way our Constitutional system works did the world a great service.  As I’ll discuss at greater length below, the letter is a simple, beautifully written exposition about the American Constitution and its effects.  In addition, it’s a wonderful honey pot for calling stupid Progressives out of their dark caves and exposing their ignorance to bright sunlight.

The Cotton letter is really nothing more than an elegant primer about the balance of powers and the way in which Congress, which more closely represents the American people than does the president, gets to have a say in foreign policy.  For those of you who haven’t yet read the letter, or for those who would enjoy re-reading it, here’s the text:

It has come to our attention while observing your nuclear negotiations with our government that you may not fully understand our constitutional system. Thus, we are writing to bring to your attention two features of our Constitution—the power to make binding international agreements and the different character of federal offices—which you should seriously consider as negotiations progress.

First, under our Constitution, while the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them. In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a two-thirds vote. A so-called congressional-executive agreement requires a majority vote in both the House and the Senate (which, because of procedural rules, effectively means a three-fifths vote in the Senate). Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.

Second, the offices of our Constitution have different characteristics. For example, the president may serve only two 4-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms. As applied today, for instance, President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then—perhaps decades.

What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.

We hope this letter enriches your knowledge of our constitutional system and promotes mutual understanding and clarity as nuclear negotiations progress.

There are a few things you need to notice about the letter to appreciate just how terribly Leftists are beclowning themselves. First, its tone is extremely respectful. It says nothing derogatory about anyone. Second, its content makes no reference whatsoever to the terms of Obama’s negotiations with the Mullahs. The only thing it does is offer information readily available to anyone who bothers to read the United States Constitution. (Reading the Constitution, of course, is as easy as plugging the words “United States Constitution” into Bing.)

This lucid, respectfully-stated summation of publicly available information has started a hysterical firestorm on the Left. The first cries were directed to all 47 Senators — Traitors! Logan Act violators! Both these insults were the products of stupid minds.

With regard to the treason claim, the letter certainly didn’t give aid and comfort to an enemy, which is the definition of treason. We’re not at war with Iran and the Mullahs do not appear to have received either aid or comfort ftom learning that Obama was over-promising. Indeed, they seemed angered and disappointed, which is how we like it when we’re dealing with people who, even though we’re not at war with them, have been at war with us since 1979.

The hysterics do not fare any better with the Logan Act claim. The Logan Act forbids unauthorized citizens from negotiating with foreign governments having a dispute with the U.S. An example of the type of conduct contemplated under the Logan Act occurs when a member of the armed forces travels to a foreign capital to engage in peace talks with an enemy that is facing off against our troops in a hot war on the battlefield. That’s a Logan Act violation.

The Logan Act, however, does not apply to United States Senators who send an open letter summarizing the Constitutional balance of powers. There is nothing in the Constitution that prevents Senators from visiting with, talking to, or trading information with foreign powers. Senators do it all the time, whether to gather useful information or to make nice with dictators. As long as they’re not entering into negotiations for international agreements, it’s all good — and if the Senator in question who does that is a Democrat, it’s still all good.

The Leftists seem to have figured out that, despite getting almost 300,000 signatures on their petition seeking Logan Act charges against the Republican Senators, that petition isn’t going anywhere — except that it will force the White House, when it responds to the petition, to concede that the Republican Senators had the perfect right to act as they did.

Balked in their quest for a collective spill of Republican blood, the Lefties have a new tactic. They’re now pointing to members of the armed forces and accusing them of having violated the military code.

Ground central for loony Leftist lies is the Daily Kos, which is suddenly extremely solicitous about the whole military code of conduct.  (Keep in mind these are the same people who still think John Kerry is a hero for having thrown someone else’s military medals over the White House fence and who include in their Big Tent  the whole cohort of screamers who spent the entire Iraq war calling our troops “baby killers.”)

The Daily Kos’s particular target is Jodi Ernst. I really can’t do justice to its fulminations, so let me quote. (Since I don’t feel like honoring the Daily Kos with a hyperlink, here’s a non-hyperlinked URL if you want to see the original: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/03/12/1370336/-Lt-Col-Joni-Ernst-should-be-court-martialed-for-signing-the-seditious-letter-to-Iran.)

It is a privilege to serve in the US military.  With that privilege comes obligations.  Following military law is one of them. When Lt. Col. Joni Ernst signed the seditious letter to Iran, she broke a serious law.

Lt. Col. Joni Ernst, the junior senator from Iowa, serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Iowa Army National Guard. As such, she is bound by the Iowa State Code of Military Justice.  Her signing of the seditious letter to Iran is a clear and direct violation of Chapter 29B.85 of the Iowa State Code of Military Justice.

29B.85  CONTEMPT TOWARD OFFICIALS.
Any person subject to this code who uses contemptuous words against the president, the governor, or the governor of any other state, territory, commonwealth, or possession in which that person may be serving, shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

This is very serious infraction.  We are a nation governed by civilians.  Our Commander-in-Chief is a civilian.  The government officials that hold ultimate authority over our military are civilians.  This is true at the federal level and the state level.  This has always been the case since George Washington was president.  He resigned his military commission to accept the position of president.   We have never in our history had a military ruler.  Military obedience to civilian authority is critical and essential if we are to maintain the democracy we inherited.   That is why “contempt towards officials” is such a serious matter. Lincoln enforced that discipline during the Civil War. Even with the imposition of martial law, Lincoln remained a civilian commander. Truman enforced the same discipline after WWII when he relieved Gen. MacArthur of his command. Obama enforced the same discipline recently when Gen. McChrystal was relieved of his command. There is nothing anachronistic about this fundamental principle.

Let me say this very slowly because we’re clearly dealing with teeny-weeny brains here:  There. Are. No. Contemptuous. Words. Against. Obama. In. The. Tom. Cotton. Letter.  The letter’s only specific references to President Obama are as follows (emphasis added):

Second, the offices of our Constitution have different characteristics. For example, the president may serve only two 4-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms. As applied today, for instance, President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then—perhaps decades.

What these two constitutional provisions mean is that we will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.

The first reference notes with complete factual accuracy, and no disrespect, when Obama’s term of office expires.  The second reference notes with complete factual accuracy, and no disrespect, that without three-fifths of Congress approving any agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei, there is no treaty, there is only an executive agreement.

Now, if the Cotton letter had gone on to add that President Obama, despite his status as a constitutional law teacher, is an ignoramus when it comes to the Constitution; or that Obama is obviously engaged in a serious fraud against Iran and others in the world to the extent they rely on him to deliver a treaty; or that Obama seems to have abandoned the limitations of the U.S. Constitution in favor of the power of a tyrant — well, any one of those statements might be deemed “contemptuous.”

That, of course, is not what our reservist Senators did.  Indeed, one could argue that reciting manifest facts about the Constitution’s language is the most respectful act a military person can perform.  It’s heartening to know that the men and women who put themselves in the front line know what they’re fight for — and it’s not the United Nations, which Obama is now trying to bring into the loop in order to bypass Congress.

Joni Ernst isn’t the only target.  Over at the Washington Post, Jonathan Capehart is just thrilled to write that a retired GENERAL also thinks Cotton was disrespectful:

I turned to retired Major Gen. Paul D. Eaton for perspective. He wouldn’t say Cotton and Co. were “traitors,” either. He had a better word.

“I would use the word mutinous,” said Eaton, whose long career includes training Iraqi forces from 2003 to 2004. He is now a senior adviser to VoteVets.org. “I do not believe these senators were trying to sell out America. I do believe they defied the chain of command in what could be construed as an illegal act.” Eaton certainly had stern words for Cotton.

“What Senator Cotton did is a gross breach of discipline, and especially as a veteran of the Army, he should know better,” Eaton told me. “I have no issue with Senator Cotton, or others, voicing their opinion in opposition to any deal to halt Iran’s nuclear progress. Speaking out on these issues is clearly part of his job. But to directly engage a foreign entity, in this way, undermining the strategy and work of our diplomats and our Commander in Chief, strains the very discipline and structure that our foreign relations depend on, to succeed.” The consequences of Cotton’s missive were plainly apparent to Eaton. “The breach of discipline is extremely dangerous, because undermining our diplomatic efforts, at this moment, brings us another step closer to a very costly and perilous war with Iran,” he said.

Somewhere along the line, Major Gen. Eaton (clearly the very model of a modern major general who sounds erudite but actually knows nothing), has lost sight of the fact that Cotton is not an active duty military man but is, instead, an active duty American Senator.  Cotton’s obligations lie with the American people, not with the President — especially when the President is not acting in his role as commander-in-chief but is, instead, acting in his role as sell-out and appeaser-in-chief.

Incidentally, if it wasn’t immediately obvious from Eaton’s remarkably uninformed remarks, he’s also a hard core Lefty.  Considering that Eaton is not only a moron, but also a sufficiently adept political animal to have held a high position during Operation Iraqi Freedom’s lowest ebb , before General Petraeus turned it around, I can only say that I, for one, am profoundly grateful that Eaton retired and is now reduced to making little clucking noises on Leftist media rather than having direct responsibility for American troops.  As a civilian, he’s just one of a herd of similarly-situated Leftist lickspittles.  Were he still in the military, he could do real damage.

The cries of “traitor” ring out

obama gives us the finger_thumb[41]My legal workload has left somewhat unaware of the latest news cycle.  I was therefore surprised yesterday to see that one of my reliably Leftist friends on Facebook was saying that all of the Republicans in the Senate should be taken out and shot as traitors.

Working backwards, I discovered that the Republicans’ alleged treachery consisted of signing on to Sen. Tom Cotton’s letter educating the Iranian mullahs about our constitutional system: namely, that the president can make deals, but that the United States is bound by a treaty only if the three-fifths of the Senate ratifies it. Without that ratification, Obama’s “deal” lasts only until another president changes his (or her) mind.

Cotton, of course, is absolutely correct. The mullahs’ outraged reaction, in which they invoke international law as if that has the power to override a country’s internal rules for what it takes to create a binding treaty, tells us that they were woefully misinformed about the nature of the deal that they were planning on executing with President Obama. Could it be that our constitutional law professor/chief executive failed to inform them about the limitations on his power or, worse, misinformed them?

In any event, the Republicans’ temerity in making sure that the mullahs fully understood just how time-limited their deal is sent the reliably Leftist American media into a frenzy: “Traitor!” they cried. And my Progressive friend, being a good foot soldier, echoed that cry.

It’s worth looking at what constitutes “treason” as a matter of law:

Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

To the extent that Iran is still not our friend (not having signed on yet to Obama’s friendly deal), one could reasonably describe Iran — you know, the “death to America” and “let’s fund world terrorism” nation — as an enemy. The question one ask to ask, then, is who, precisely, is giving “aid and comfort” to that enemy?

When Tom Cotton authored and fellow Republicans signed a letter informing Iran that a mere “deal” with an American president will not give them a ten-year long nuclear free ride, the mullahs felt neither aided nor comforted. They were, instead, enraged. Moreover, their anger seemed to stem from their sense that the letter snatched aid and comfort away from them.

But what am I saying? Our august president, the one who, from Day 1 has allied himself practically and emotionally with Islam’s most extreme elements across the globe, while simultaneously doing everything within his power to undermine the world’s lone Jewish nation, would never offer “aid and comfort” to an American enemy, would he?

Tom Cotton serves the Democrats up with their own sauce

Tom Cotton on the Democrats’ “outrage” that Republicans are “politicizing” Benghazi:

On the subject of the upcoming hearings, Charles Krauthammer has some good advice:

The select committee will be headed by Rep. Trey Gowdy, a skilled 16-year prosecutor. He needs to keep the hearings clean and strictly fact-oriented. Questions only, no speechifying. Every sentence by every GOP committee member must end with a question mark. Should any committee Republican instead make a declarative statement ending in a period, the chairman should immediately, by button, deliver an electric shock through the violator’s seat.

John Adams once said, “Facts are stubborn things.” If the facts come wrapped in rhetoric, the incest media will bury them. However, if they come out of the mouths of witnesses, no matter what the media does, they’ll float up to the surface where the American people can then see the facts for themselves.