The Bookworm Beat 1/19/15 — abbreviated version and Open Thread

Woman writingAt a lawyer level, this has been a somewhat frustrating day, with me struggling to fit my facts (always true and honest ones) to the law (which sometimes refuses to cooperate), capped by a power outage that lost me an hour of time. Add to that the usual cries for attention from family, and I’m feeling a little . . . ummm, stressed. Still, I have stuff I want to share with you, so let me whip through it:

Chilling look into the near future at what the next school attack might look like

Mike McDaniel, who blogs at Stately McDaniel Manor, has looked at past school shootings, both at home and abroad, and come up with a possible scenario for the next assault on an American school. I don’t doubt that he’s accurately predicting a possible American future unless we take steps now to head it off.

[Read more…]

For John Kerry, when it comes to an American ally and a deadly enemy, it’s 1971 all over again

Kerry Neville AcademyPlus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. These timeless words apply with unusual accuracy to John Kerry and the role he’s chosen to assume in the current war between Israel and Hamas.

David Horovitz describes Kerry’s despicable conduct in his self-appointed role as peace negotiator between Israel, a recognized nation among nations, and Hamas, a designated terrorist organization:

When The Times of Israel’s Avi Issacharoff first reported the content of John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal on Friday afternoon, I wondered if something had gotten lost in translation. It seemed inconceivable that the American secretary of state would have drafted an initiative that, as a priority, did not require the dismantling of Hamas’s rocket arsenal and network of tunnels dug under the Israeli border. Yet the reported text did not address these issues at all, nor call for the demilitarization of Gaza.

It seemed inconceivable that the secretary’s initiative would specify the need to address Hamas’s demands for a lifting of the siege of Gaza, as though Hamas were a legitimate injured party acting in the interests of the people of Gaza — rather than the terror group that violently seized control of the Strip in 2007, diverted Gaza’s resources to its war effort against Israel, and could be relied upon to exploit any lifting of the “siege” in order to import yet more devastating weaponry with which to kill Israelis.

As another Times of Israel writer explained in great detail:

According to the text, “the Palestinian factions” and the State of Israel would make three commitments:

a) Establish a humanitarian cease-fire, ending all hostilities in and from the Gaza Strip, beginning in 48 hours, and lasting for a period of seven days

b) Build on the Cairo cease-fire understandings of November 2012 [that were reached, through American and Egyptian mediation, following Operation Pillar of Defense]

c) Convene in Cairo, at the invitation of Egypt, within 48 hours to negotiate resolution of all issues necessary to achieve a sustainable cease-fire and enduring solution to the crisis in Gaza, including arrangements to secure the opening of crossings, allow the entry of goods and people and ensure the social and economic livelihood of the Palestinian people living in Gaza, transfer funds to Gaza for the payment of salaries for public employees, and address all security issues.

The third part — “c” above — of the proposed ceasefire agreement, which was submitted by US Secretary of State John Kerry, was a particular source of vexation for Israeli leaders, as it basically accepts all of Hamas’s demands but addresses Israeli worries only tangentially. Rather than calling for demilitarization of Gaza or addressing the attack tunnels the group has dug, the proposal merely calls for a general discussion of “all security issues.”

According to the document, Israel would not be forced to withdraw its troops from Gaza during the course of the truce, but would also not be allowed to continue its work destroying any tunnels in the strip. During the ceasefire, “the parties will refrain from conducting any military or security targeting of each other,” the draft states.

The document also mentions that “members of the international community, including the United Nations, the Arab League, the European Union, the United States, Turkey, Qatar and many others, support the effective implementation of the humanitarian cease-fire and agreements reached between the parties, in cooperation and coordination with the parties, and will join in a major humanitarian assistance initiative to address the immediate needs of the people of Gaza.”

That segment effectively sidelines Jerusalem, Ramallah and Cairo, which are not mentioned at all. Especially noteworthy is the omission of Egypt, which borders on Gaza and has in the past mediated between Israel and Hamas. Instead, it appears, Kerry has designated Turkey and Qatar to take over this role in the current conflict. Doha and Ankara are Hamas’s staunchest allies in the region, which underlines why Jerusalem rejected the proposal outright.

In acceding to Hamas’s demands, John Kerry is injuring not only an American ally (that would be Israel), but America too, since Hamas is, as I mentioned, an official terrorist group, not to mention a sworn enemy of the West.

Here’s the thing, though: When it comes to John Kerry, we’ve heard this song before. Let me take you back to 1971, when John Kerry testified before Congress about his actions during the Vietnam War:

Mr. KERRY. My feeling, Senator, is undoubtedly this Congress, and I don’t mean to sound pessimistic, but I do not believe that this Congress will, in fact, end the war as we would like to, which is immediately and unilaterally and, therefore, if I were to speak I would say we would set a date and the date obviously would be the earliest possible date. But I would like to say, in answering that, that I do not believe it is necessary to stall any longer. I have been to Paris. I have talked with both delegations at the peace talks, that is to say the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Provisional Revolutionary Government and of all eight of Madam Binh’s points it has been stated time and time again, and was stated by Senator Vance Hartke when he returned from Paris, and it has been stated by many other officials of this Government, if the United States were to set a date for withdrawal the prisoners of war would be returned…

The Viet Cong’s demands at the time were for a complete American surrender and the communist takeover of the whole of Vietnam.  (As an aside, that’s what we ended up doing, in part because people like Kerry, whose conduct at that time was illegal and seditious, paved the way.)

Looking at Kerry’s recent disgraceful performance in the Middle East, it’s clear that this is what Kerry does. He sides with murderous totalitarian regimes against his country and her allies. When it comes to Kerry’s embrace of Hamas, he is just acting true to form.

Four quick hits taking us from Vietnam to the Queen of England

My friend Bruce Kesler served with the Marines in Vietnam.  He urges people to read two recent books about Vietnam.

Oscar Wilde characterized foxhunting as “The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable.”  It’s a perfect epigram that takes an elegant swipe at the British hunters, not the foxes they hunted.  I’m struggling to come up with something equally elegant about the Civil War in Syria, in which both sides are unspeakable and one side (the rebel side that Obama has announced we’re now aiding) advertising itself as practicing cannibalism.  There are no good guys in this war, there are only bad guys with hapless civilians in the middle.  I am not sanguine about Obama’s delayed decision to get the U.S. involved.  If he’d acted two years ago, he might have enabled a fairly bloodless transition from Bashir al Assad to something resembling moderation in Syria.  By waiting two years, he’s allowed Iran to get firmly entrenched on Assad’s behalf, and al Qaeda to get firmly entrenched on the rebels’ behalf.  So, as in Libya, Americans are aiding al Qaeda.  The Benghazi attack shows just how well that turned out.  Anyway, if you want to know a bit more about the players in that mess (which either be a slowly bleeding quagmire or a true Armageddon) here’s some info.  The one thing I can predict with absolute certainty is that this will not end well for America.

A friend of mine who blogs at “To Put it Bluntly” has an interesting post about money created and money taken.

Good for the Queen of England:  she made as pointed a statement as is possible for a non-political head of state to make when she put on her birthday awards list a Jewish academic who has been fighting against the anti-zionism and antisemitism in Britain’s universities.

I may not know much about history, but I don’t mess with it either

Whew!  That was a long drive home.  We got caught in traffic jams caused by two accidents, so we got to spend an extra couple of hours in the car.  Still, better to sit around because of an accident than to be in an accident.  I’ve done both and prefer the former.

While we were driving, we let the kids watch “Miracle on 34th Street,” which is always charming.  We spent most of the drive though, listening to a book on CD: Kenneth C. Davis’ Don’t Know Much About History: Everything You Need to Know About American History but Never Learned.

It was an interesting book, in that it was honest about the facts (although Davis did buy the story about smallpox infected blankets, a story I understand to be a Howard Zinn fraud), but he couldn’t resist Left-wing editorializing, even when his editorial asides didn’t mesh with the facts.  For example, in the section about why the British lost the colonies, his set-up was that they lost it for precisely the same reason that the Americans lost in Vietnam.  In some respects, he was correct — a far-away enemy making logistics challenging, weak support at home, and the fact that the enemy used new tactics while the larger force (Britain/America) was still using its successful tactics from the previous war.

However, what Davis also tried to do was imply that, as was the case with Britain and the American colonies, America in Vietnam was trying to enforce imperial control on a small nation.  He also implies that the Soviet Union in the 20th century, as did France in the 18th century, came in after the conflict started to aid the underdog and humiliate an old enemy.  In that, Davis is completely dishonest.  Vietnam was not a part of the American empire, nor was America trying to squeeze it into that role.  And unlike France, the Soviet Union was not initially a disinterested bystander that only came in to aid an underdog and humiliate an old enemy at the same time.  Instead, Vietnam always was a proxy war between superpowers.  More than that, our aim was to prevent Vietnam from being subjugated to a colonizing power, rather than to subjugate it to our own power.

So, not only was Davis biased, he was historically wrong.  Still, he gets points for presenting the facts (even if he didn’t understand their import) and the kids did get more brain food than they would have if they’d just watch an endless series of mindless movies while we drove.

Surreal logic *UPDATED*

I was pondering whether to post about Wesley Clark’s latest inanity, to the effect that McCain’s experience as a POW does not prove his leadership abilities.  A conversation I had today with a beloved liberal (that would be my dear, dear mother) made me decide to do so.  A lot of people have gotten embroiled in discussing the substance of Clark’s remark, without recognizing that it is a mere straw man.  Certainly my mother got mired in that swamp.

First, here’s what Clark said:

“[McCain] hasn’t held executive responsibility,” Clark said on “Face the Nation” yesterday. “That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded — that wasn’t a wartime squadron. I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.”

One could argue whether being in command of a squadron, whether in peace time or war, cultivates leadership experience, but I won’t.  I also won’t be foolish enough to say that the mere fact of getting shot down turns one into a leader.  I’ll even concede that spending six years in a POW camp being tortured on a daily basis doesn’t turn one into a leader.  But none of that is the point.

The point is that the primary reason Republicans have pointed to those experiences is not to establish McCain’s leadership ability but to point to his character.  This is a man of incredible strength who not only survived an experience that would have killed many people, but who survived it with his soul intact.  He emerged a strong and capable human being, deeply respected by his fellow captives.  In other words, Clark’s argument was a straw man:  he set up a principle that most conservatives never espoused, and then proceeded to shoot it down as if it mattered.

Sadly, though, although Clark’s argument shouldn’t matter, since it functions in its own hermetically sealed little universe, in the bizarre world of liberal illogical thought, it does matter.  My Mom bought into it entirely:  “You see,” she said to me, “McCain has no leadership ability.”  That was her conclusion and she was sticking with it.

Perhaps because she’s very elderly and her thinking is no longer very flexible, that conclusion was, for her, unalterable.  When I pointed out that, in addition to his military training (which must count for something), McCain had an active military career through 1982, and then spent the next 26 years in increasingly high level politics, she simply swatted those facts away.  They were all irrelevant to her MSM fed conclusion that it’s for Republicans dishonest to argue that McCain’s a leader because of his Vietnam experiences.  (Even though that isn’t what all or most Republicans have argued.)

Nor was she able to step back and acknowledge that, no matter how one slices it, Obama has substantially less experience.  As compared to McCain’s pre-war and wartime military training and experience (which must count for something towards leadership and competence); his six years as a captive (showing character); and his subsequent 36 year long career in the military and government (which shows experience and leadership, even if you don’t agree with how he used those attributes), Obama is a blank:  a student; a two year stint as a community activist for Leftist organizations; a brief period as a professor; a short term as a junior senator in a local Legislature; and an even shorter term as a junior Senator in Congress.

If this were the ordinary business world, all of us would recognize that Obama’s resume items are insufficient to develop many leadership skills, nor to establish character.  That’s entirely separate from the fact that Obama may actually be a born leader, or that his character may be stellar.  It’s sufficient to say that, unlike McCain’s resume, Obama’s doesn’t hint at either leadership or character qualities.  One would need external proof of those qualities (and I don’t believe such proof exists, but that may just be me).

My mother — and let me reiterate again that she is a truly wonderful human being, whom I love dearly — seems to exemplify something I see with increasing regularity on the Left:  people starting with the conclusion, and then jettisoning, not just contrary facts, but any facts at all.  I prefer to start with facts and at least see if they extend to a factual conclusion . I can be wrong in my conclusion, but that’s at least where I’m trying to head.  Everything is going to lead to an opinion anyway, but at least I’ve got my factual ducks in a row to defend whatever opinion I land on.  Liberals don’t seem to be bothering with those factual ducks any more.  They’ve become irrelevant.

I guess this is just one more example of Dennis Prager’s point that liberals care about emotion and feelings.  Even gals like my Mom, who were already too old to be affected by the hippy era, seem to have absorbed as their political mantra the concept that “if it feels good, do it.”

Speaking of Dennis Prager, you may find interesting his steadfast defense of a McCain presidency, despite his strong opposition to McCain during the primaries.  I especially like this bit:

My bottom line is this: The gulf between John McCain and conservatives is miniscule compared to the gulf between John McCain and Barack Obama. This is true regarding virtually every issue of significance to America. The America that a President Barack Obama would shape, with the help of a Democratic Congress and a liberal Supreme Court, would be very dissimilar from the America shaped by a President John McCain.

Conservatives who will not vote for McCain are well-intentioned utopians. They are comparing McCain to a consistently conservative candidate. The reality, however, is that McCain is not running against a consistently conservative candidate. He is running against a consistently left-wing candidate. And America cannot afford to have its first leftist president ever. It can afford liberal presidents — such as Bill Clinton, or Jimmy Carter (who governed as a liberal but became a leftist after leaving the White House), or John F. Kennedy, or Lyndon Johnson, or Harry Truman — i.e., all the Democrats who have been president since World War II. But the Democratic Party has moved well to the left of liberalism. And Barack Obama is at the left of that left-wing party.

Furthermore, given the strong possibility of a Democratic House, a Democratic Senate, and a liberal Supreme Court for decades to come, given the number of Supreme Court appointments a Democratic president will be able to make, an Obama victory will move America more radically leftward than ever in its history.

That is why the argument that an Obama administration will be so destructive that Americans will reject the left and then elect a real conservative to undo the damage done in an Obama presidency is deeply flawed.

UPDATE: Ocean Guy explains why Weasley Clark may be prone to idiotic pronouncements that he, in his own mind, believes are both sagacious and perspicacious.  It makes for a read that is simultaneously enlightening and depressing.