“American Sniper” — a Rorschach test separating the wheat from the chaff

308555id1i_TheJudge_FinalRated_27x40_1Sheet.inddI haven’t yet seen the movie American Sniper, but I have read Chris Kyle’s autobiography, on which it is based. I therefore believe that I am qualified to write on the topic.

Although, come to think of it, I’m not really going to write about American Sniper at all. Instead, I’m going to write about some of the reactions to American Sniper, which function as a Rorschach test of American (and, dare I say, un-American?) values.

I have to begin with the fundamental premise, one that drives the Left nuts, which is that Clint Eastwood, with help from a superb Bradley Cooper, has directed an incredibly good movie, one that doesn’t shy away from war’s ugliness, but that acknowledges, not just the physical bravery of our men, but also their moral decency.  As I try endlessly to explain to anybody who can listen, both good guys and bad guys kill. After all, no one will deny that a woman has acted bravely and honorably if she shoots to death the man trying to kill her child. Likewise, only sadistic psychopaths will applaud the broken bodies of Christians, Jews, women, children, gays, blacks, and the “wrong” kind of Muslims that ISIS, Boko Haram, al Qaeda, and other Islamic Jihad organizations leave in their wake.

Let me fall back here on my already wordy poster, one that’s targeted at the buffoonish Seth Rogen, but that addresses the larger issue, which is that why one kills matters as much as the fact that one does kill:

Seth Rogen and history 1

(I also won’t waste time in this post correcting the innumerable personal slurs the Left is now hurling at Chris Kyle, most of which are based upon a failure either to see the movie or read the book. Ian Tuttle, thankfully, takes care of setting that record straight.)

Mentioning Seth Rogen, though, leads me nicely back to the point I want to make in this post, which is an observation I first made to my friends on the Watcher’s Council: namely, that American Sniper has been remarkably effective at flushing weasels out from under cover, proving that good art frequently has multiple virtues.  For example, one of my neighbors, a nice, but rather brittle, angry woman, whose life has not treated her with the generosity she was raised to expect, posted the following image on Facebook:

Stupid Leftists don't understand heroes

Doesn’t that ugly, mean-spirited poster sum up just about everything that’s wrong with the Leftist view of the world? The wrongness of it all begins with the terrible slur against Kyle and all the other American troops who have fought against the same type of men who are now crucifying, raping, beheading, and generally rampaging their way across the Middle East, with occasional detours into Europe.  I know those men.  My Dad was one.

Really, there’s no sugar-coating it.  For five years of his life, my Dad was a hate-filled killer.  He poured  his energy, brains, skill, and courage into slaughtering as many people as he possibly could.  If he could have killed more, he would have.

In case you’re wondering, Daddy wasn’t Dexter or Charles Manson or Stalin.  Instead, he was an ordinary foot soldier in WWII, fighting with the RAF and ANZAC in the Mediterranean theater.

During all those years of fighting, mostly in North Africa with detours into Greece and Crete, Daddy wasn’t glorying in slaughter for the thrill of it.  He didn’t kill to slake blood lust or because he was a racist.  In fact, quite the opposite.  He was killing because he understood the stakes, which was to stop the spread of genocidal racism:  If he didn’t do his bit to halt the Nazis in North Africa, those same Nazis would descend on Palestine, and with the help of the enthusiastic ancestors of today’s ISIS, have slaughtered where they stood every Jewish man, woman, and child in the British Mandate of Palestine.

Chris Kyle and his comrades, as Kyle made clear in his book, didn’t kill Iraqis because they took a sadistic glee in a human turkey shoot.  They killed specific Iraqis who were bound and determined to kill the Americans (which is ground enough to want to kill the Iraqis first) and, moreover, who were equally bound and determined to put into place precisely the ideological governance we now see in the Middle East with ISIS and in Nigeria with Boko Haram.

Ultimately, Kyle and his comrades were killing humans fatally infected with a deadly ideological disease.  These men understood (and, wherever they still fight, understand) that people infected with genocidal, imperialist, tyrannical values need to be exterminated just as surely as we kill a rabid dog or, 70 years ago, as we killed rabid Nazis.  Unfortunately, the reality of war is that, when we kill the guilty, we sometimes kill the innocent.  My Dad knew that, amongst the Nazis he was fighting were ordinary Germans who were forced by circumstances to fight for those same rabid Nazis.

Knowing that didn’t stop Daddy, or any of the other Allied troops.  They understood that this is how the world works.  (For more of my thoughts on that specific topic, you can check out my annual Passover post.)  As Daddy once said, you cannot fight a war if you don’t hate your enemy — by which he meant if you don’t hate the values your enemy seeks to advance.

So, clearly, one level of Leftist stupidity is its members’ complete inability to understand that soldiers can hate the ideology without doing the Leftist thing and turning everything into some agonized Greek tragedy about racism, sexism, homophobia, and third world victimization.  Smart people are able to winnow out good from bad, and they know in which directions to aim their guns.

But there’s a second level of stupidity at work in that ugly, mean-spirited poster, and that’s the stupidity that is unable to comprehend that, without the sheepdogs, the sheep aren’t able to go around sweetly and smugly ministering to the less fortunate among them.  Please believe me that I don’t intend to be snide about charity.  I think charity is a wonderful thing, provided that it’s not forced upon people through government coercion.  It’s one thing for me, while exercising my values, to donate my time, money, and labor to aid those less fortunate than I.  It’s another thing entirely when the government, with a gun aimed at my head, announces that I’ve volunteered to donate 50% of my annual income to help those that the government deems should be recipients of government beneficence.

Putting aside my irritation at a government that denies me the opportunity to redistribute my own wealth, let me get to the real issue and the real stupidity behind that poster:  There is no charity when there is no civil society.  Charity works when society is sufficiently stable, free, and predictable that people can actually earn and keep money — and then give it away if they want to.  A strong, infrastructure underlying a free, market-based society creates both extra time and extra wealth, not to mention a capacity for empathy that is utterly lacking when people are suffering under either complete anarchy or sadistic, malevolent totalitarian rule.

You, my dear, smug Leftists, are able to boast in self-aggrandizing tones about your ability to shake down hard-working citizens only because men like Chris Kyle are willing to do the dirty work of keeping both tyrants and anarchy at bay.  You’re like the person who dines in style on the steak, but sneeringly describes as a hillbilly the rancher who raised that cow and as a murderer the butcher who got that lovely filet mignon to your table.

Great art not only opens our minds, but it enable us to see with clarity those minds that cannot and will not open.  People who value freedom understand that there’s a price to pay for freedom’s blessings and we are appropriately and eternally grateful to those who are willing to do the dirty work that goes with paying that price.

Radical, jihadist, fundamentalist Islam (or whatever other nouns and adjectives you wish to apply to the 10% of the world’s Muslims who seek only to destroy) must be destroyed, lest we are all destroyed.  My problem is that I’m a tiny middle-aged Jewish woman, who is a great target, but a lousy fighter.  I live because Chris Kyle, and the SEALS, and the Marines, and the Navy, and the Army, and the Air Force put themselves in front of me, as a living barrier protecting me from the abyss.

I pity those people who don’t appreciate the gift they’ve been given, and do nothing more than set themselves up as the socialist twins to those murderous Islamists that the Kyle’s of this world fight.  Because, really, once you strip away those smug words about the personal virtues of government funded charity, you discover that the Left and the Islamists are pretty much the same people.  It’s just that the Islamists have gone further down the path necessary to achieve their ultimate ends:

Radical Islamists and Leftists have identical beliefs

The Bookworm Beat — August 15 Friday wrap-up (and, of course, Open Thread)

Woman writingOne of the things I’ve noticed about modern medicine is that, once doctors start poking around inside the human body, they find all sorts of things that aren’t picture perfect. I remember a long ago hearing an NPR story about a small town with a scary increase in the number of children with benign brain tumors. After an exhaustive search into power lines, drinking water, and bacon, some bright soul figured out that the increase in diagnoses happened because the small local hospital could now do brain scans, a procedure it had started performing on all children brought in with concussions.

My test yesterday showed nothing about my anemia, but has sent the doctors haring off in a different direction about something else that looked funny. I feel fine, so I’m not worried . . . much. Even feeling just fine isn’t a total defense against the niggling fear that comes up when the doctor says that something in there is out of the ordinary. I’ll let you know when they finally determine that, as I suspected all along, I’m a very healthy specimen.

But there are much more interesting things out there than the medical treasure hunt inside my body, so let me get to it….

That the white police behaved badly is no excuse for the black citizens to behave even more badly

Since Ferguson, Missouri, is convulsing the media, and even managed to drag Obama away from his golf game for seven whole minutes, I’ll open with a couple of Ferguson related items. First, Megan McArdle noticed something important about Ferguson: Twenty-four years ago, it was a majority white town. Fourteen years ago, it had the slimmest of black majorities. And four years ago, it was almost 70% black. Although the town demographics changed rapidly, the police demographics did not.

Indeed, the only thing that seems to have changed with the police over the years is that they’ve turned themselves in a military organization, although one sadly lacking in military intelligence. And just as an aside about our police departments turning themselves into faux-military outfits, just two months ago, Ferguson’s own Democrat representative voted against a law that would have stopped military surplus transfers to local police.

Frankly, I’m not surprised that the police department is barricading itself behind advanced grade weapons, even though it’s a stupid, dangerous, and (for all citizens) frightening practice. Blacks don’t like the police. One black man, however, has gone on an epic rant explaining that the problem isn’t with the police, whether or not they are racist, but with blacks themselves. You’ll quickly see why this video has gone viral:

The media concedes Hamas played it, and Hamas complains that the media wasn’t sufficiently compliant

There are a few updates today on the Hamas front, although the most recent ceasefire seems to be holding for now. The biggest news, of course, is the fact that the same media outlets that slimed Israel for the past month are admitting two things: First, that Hamas lies and, second, that the media allowed itself to be intimidated into lying for Hamas (something Hamas is now freely admitting itself).

Sadly, the Hamas/MSM disinformation tactic has worked. Donald Douglas has a disturbing video taken near UCLA, along with the comment that “It’s like we’re back in the 1930s, and it’s a definite transnational scourge.”

To the question “why is this war different from all other wars,” Israelis answer “because tunnels”

My mother spoke yesterday to her oldest friend, a 91-year-old woman who has lived in Tel Aviv since 1934 or so. Many of her grandchildren are on active duty or in the reserves. This friend told my mother “This time it’s different.”

For one thing, Iron Dome has made those in Tel Aviv feel much more secure against air attacks, although the friend says it’s peculiar to see the bombs bursting in air, rather than down on the ground. The other reason this war is different is the tunnels. They have shattered Israelis’ sense of security. (And yes, it’s funny that they felt secure when they’ve been constantly under attack, but those attacks were from land and water, not underground.)

Although Netanyahu says that the IDF destroyed the vast majority of tunnels, neither my mom’s friend, nor anyone show knows, believes that. They’re certain that there are at least as many tunnels unaccounted for as were blown apart.

My mom’s friend is not unique. In an opinion piece at Bloomberg, an Israeli writer says exactly the same thing: because of the tunnels, this time it’s different.

Against Hezbollah, Israel won’t bother to try for proportionate force against civilians

Given all of the above, is it any wonder that Israel is letting it be known that, if Hezbollah starts acting in Lebanon, Israel will use disproportionate force to defeat it:

On a recent trip to Israel, I spoke with government officials who laid out likely scenarios for the next, almost inevitable, round of Israeli hostilities with Hezbollah. Needless to say, given Hezbollah’s ever-increasing strength on the ground, those scenarios are incredibly grim. In short, the Israeli military proposes that in the next conflict with Hezbollah all of Lebanon will be treated like Dahiya, the Hezbollah stronghold that the Israeli air force destroyed in the summer of 2006. “What happened in the Dahiya quarter of Beirut in 2006 will happen in every village from which Israel is fired on,” as one Israeli official explained. “We will apply disproportionate force on it, and cause great damage and destruction there. From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages, they are military bases.”

Insane, no? The problem is, the Israelis are right. It’s not that Israel wants to kill Lebanese civilians. As one Israeli official told me, it is largely because thousands of innocent Lebanese will lose their lives that Israel is reluctant to move against Hezbollah right now. The issue is that the Shia militia has turned all of Lebanon—not just the regions it controls like the Dahiya, the Bekaa Valley, and southern Lebanon—into a military installation, holding every man, woman, and child in the country hostage to its supposed love of death. What are the Israelis supposed to do when Hezbollah starts shooting the next time—refuse to fight back, and let the missiles keep hitting Tel Aviv, while the entire country cowers in bomb shelters?

As I noted myself, if there’s a choice between killing a hundred thousand of the enemy’s civilians, or letting the enemy kill 6-8 million of your civilians, the moral choice is to attack the enemy, and let the civilians fall where they may. This is especially true if your efforts to protect civilians are not appreciated in any event. If you’re going to be accused of disproportionate force when aren’t actually using it to protect yourself, you may as well embrace the accusations and use truly disproportionate force the next time around in order to keep yourself safe.

I finally believe Obama is a Muslim

Can I say anything else but that it’s unconscionable for Obama to refuse to sell to Israel the rockets that Iron Dome fires at incoming missiles from Gaza? Unconscionable seems like such a weak word. I’ll add despicable, vile, immoral, disgusting, and anti-Semitic.  Moreover, for the first time I truly believe that Obama may well be a Muslim, rather than just a Leftist who supports Islam because Islam opposes America (the nation, of course, that Obama swore an oath to protect).

If you were to ask me what a member of the Muslim Brotherhood would do if he were in the White House, I’d pretty much describe everything that Obama has done throughout the Middle East — including his administration’s most recent decision to lift the ban barring Libyans from flight schools and training in nuclear programs. I mean — honestly! — can you just imagine the memo that went around in the White House: “Yes, we know that all sorts of radical Islamist factions have taken over in Libya, and that it was a hub for delivering weapons systems to other radical Islamists, and that the state has Islamic anarchy written all over it, but we really think there are Libyans that ought to know how to fly our plans and control our nuclear facilities.”

Not only that, but there’s also the administration’s malevolent combination of blindness and ineptitude in Syria, which has acted as a warm, comfy incubator for the most extremist Islamist groups ever seen in modern times. You know a group’s extreme when it makes Al Qaeda seem temperate.

Put all of these things put together — Obama’s conduct regarding Libya/Benghazi, Syria, Egypt, the hostility to Israel, etc. — and it starts to look less like ineptitude and more like a plan, even if the plan is just to foul things up so as to destroy any possibility of moderation in the region.

The administration’s (and Congress’s) failure to protect America against electric annihilation

While the administration keeps stirring that Middle Eastern pot, supporting the Muslim Brotherhood, dissing Israel, opening doors into the Middle East for Russia, handing dangerous secrets to Libya, the administration and Congress both assiduously ignore the one thing that has real potential to throw us back into a pre-industrial era, and that is a major EMP attack:

The cost of protecting the national electric grid, according to a 2008 EMP Commission estimate, would be about $2 billion—roughly what the U.S. gives each year in foreign aid to Pakistan.

I guess it’s just too important right now to spend time and money opening our southern border to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants and then burdening our system with the cost of those immigrants. This seems like the Cloward-Piven strategy played out in real time.

A brilliant way to get colleges to be honest about their alleged “1/5 rape” statistic

Ashe Schow pens yet another article that destroys the disgraceful canard about the number of rapes at American college campuses (a statistic that, if true, would make American colleges almost as dangerous for women as, oh, I don’t know, being a white woman in Malmo, Sweden). Glenn Reynolds’ adds a brilliant idea to the debunking:

To get universities to debunk it, start running ads telling women not to go to college because they have a 1-in-5 chance of being raped if they do. With pictures of university campuses labeled “rape factory” and pictures of university presidents labeled “rape-factory president.”

Dog bites man; or another story of Leftist hypocrisy in Chicago

If you like hypocrisy, you’ll enjoy the story of Karen Lewis, who heads the Chicago teacher’s union and is now running for mayor against Rahm. She’s one of those people who loves to bash the wealthy and believes firmly in wealth redistribution. I won’t tell you more, except to say “all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”

I think I need to read a Dean Koontz book

Did you know that novelist Dean Koontz is conservative/libertarian? He won’t define himself using those terms, but his political outlook, which apparently dismayed Publishers Weekly so much that it wondered at the fact that he leaked this sensibility into his books, holds that a powerful government is a dangerous, expensive, and useless government. As an aside, I wonder if Publishers Weekly ever expresses concern about Leftists leaking their politics into their books.

I’ve never actually read anything Koontz has written, but to the extent I support his politics and I like thrillers, I’m willing to give his stuff a try. I mean, who couldn’t love someone who says things like this:

• In an online chat on CNN.com (September 10, 2001), Koontz said, “Any time I’m looking for a good psychopath [as a character for a novel], I first check out the current crop of Congressmen and see what they are up to.”

• In The Dean Koontz Companion (Headline Book Publishing, 1994), Koontz said, “It had become apparent to me that the worst enemy of the working man and woman is the state, and that the average person is safest in a country that struggles to limit the size of the state.”

• In an interview with the Mystery Guild (2000), Koontz said, “We just left a century that gave us the worst mass murderers in history: Hitler, Stalin, Mao. History shows us, over and over again, that large groups of people given too much power over other people lose their humanity.”

Andrew Klavan explains “income redistribution”

Andrew Klavan offers a user-friendly explanation of “income redistribution” (which our Marxist, Muslim president thinks is a good thing):

Income redistribution that damages the poor will play out next year at America’s gas pumps

By the way, we California’s may be closer to other people in America when it comes to seeing what income redistribution is all about, since laws set to go into effect in January will raise gasoline prices to $8-$9 a gallon. A couple of things:

First, this “redistribution” “for the planet” will cause the most harm to poor people. I can afford $9 gas, although it will leave me with less wealth for my children and my retirement. My cleaning ladies will not be able to afford it. It will destroy their business, which consists of driving around Marin every day to clean as many houses as these energetic, reliable ladies can manage. Second, these gas prices are Obama’s dream, as reflected in his choice of energy czar.

What’s really sad is that the hyper-credentialed, Ivy League educated morons who surround me in Marin undoubtedly think this tax is a brilliant idea because it will “save the planet.”  Did I say morons?  Let me say it again.  Morons!

This is why I have no time for myself

This song’s chorus explains why, as my house fills with more and more people (mostly teens), I have less time to blog:

Pictures

Mind if I play through

A flaw in the constitution

Items that should be banned

To stupid to own a gun

Israel doesn't hate America

Liberal logic about Palestine

Rape tips

Fleeing a blood soaked land

Fairness to troops and criminals

Redistribution for thee, but not for me

Students, not normally a personally wealthy group, are all for redistributing other people’s money.  Apparently, though, they draw the line at redistributing the fruits of their own labors:

The next step is to get the students to listen to Jon Lovitz’s F-Bomb laden rant and understand that, whether we’re talking grades or money, it is always wrong for a coercive government to force people to part with the rewards they earned:

We all recognize that people must contribute some sum towards a functional society, for roads, national security, etc. But that is quite different from having your elected government suddenly decide to play at Robin Hood.

Obama wants the government to redistribute wealth *UPDATE*

Traditionally, Americans conceived of taxes as a way in which citizens paid for basic government services that benefited all (such as defense, infrastructure, etc.).  With socialism, the notion arose that the government was to take from the rich (as defined by the government) and give to the poor (as defined by the government).  Since the Civil Rights movement, the American tendency has been to take from the rich (as defined by the government) and give to the victims (as defined by themselves).

Conservatives have been deeply suspicious that Obama desires the White House to achieve precisely this socialist agenda:  He wants to use taxes, not to provide funds for basic government services, but to take from those he deems rich and to give to those he deems appropriate recipients of government largesse.  (Let’s not pretend he’s just talking about the poor.  Hint:  ACORN.)

When Obama had his little conversation with Joe the Plumber, and went into his “spread the wealth” shtick, he pretty much gave the game away to those who were listening.  Large swathes of America, however, not just the die-hards, but the ones who want to feel good about voting for Obama, rejected the obvious, however, and claimed he was just talking about ordinary taxes.

How, then, can they explain away a 2001 Public Radio audiotape, which Pierre Le Grand found on the always useful Free Republic?  In it, Obama carefully explained that it’s a tragedy that the Warren Court was too conservative to upend the Constitution and redistribute wealth, but that it’s not too late to use legislation to achieve precisely the same goal.

And please note, Obama uses and reuses the word “redistribute.”  No hiding here behind colorful, user-friendly expressions such as “spread the wealth.”  What Obama clearly envisions is a government program that takes away your money (and your incentive to work hard and make it the American way), so that the money can go to those Obama deems worthy:

I’ll give Pierre Le Grand the last word:

[I]f we had an honest press corp stuff like this wouldn’t depend on people like me to find. But since we do not have an honest press corp thank you Free Republic!

UPDATE: If you prefer reading over listening, Michelle Malkin has a transcript of the core discussion.

UPDATE II:  Of, if you feel like discovering some Obama gems for yourself, there are lots more early interviews with the Obamessiah at the same radio station.  I wish I had the time to plow through some of them.  They look intriguing.