The Bookworm Beat (11/24/14) — Monday morning mish-mash (and Open Thread)

Woman writingNo intro. Just diving right in here:

Kevin Williams wins this week’s prize for best devastatingly honest statements about Obama

Kevin Williams argues that, for all his talk of change, Obama is nothing more than a little man who has stepped into a big job and is now busy reshaping the morality of public policies to fit his smallness. In proving this point, Williams, who never deviates from his polite tone, rips Obama several new ones. I’m cherry-picking here, so you really need to read the whole thing:

In an elected official, patriotism means, among other things, elevating the interests of the country above the interests of party and career. President Obama has failed to do that, seems personally incapable of doing that, and in fact has done the opposite. He might be reminded, at the very least, that his presidential duty is to the citizens of the United States, not to citizens of other countries, regardless of where they happen to be located at any given moment. But the very idea of taking that seriously seems foreign to him.

We already knew that Barack Obama is a coward – a man who, to take one obvious example, pronounced himself opposed to gay marriage right up until the millisecond that political calculation demanded he do otherwise, and who now believes that it is mandated by the Constitution. His putting off his amnesty announcement until after the election – and his dishonest refusal to acknowledge that it is an amnesty – is another example. We already knew that he is a liar (“If you like your coverage . . . ”) and have some reason to suspect that he is a fool. But the fundamental problem is that he is a lawyer, one without the intellectual or moral equipment to be anything more than a litigator of the picayune. For President Obama and his enablers, the law is a species of magic: He is entitled to do whatever he pleases, even when it plainly violates both the national interest and our longstanding habits of government, if he can simply think of a way to say the right words in the right order as he acts. That isn’t governance – that’s alchemical hokum, transforming the dross of Democratic political ambition into pure gold.

(You’ll find the rest here.)

No, no, no! A thousand times no!

The most frequent statement I see Progressives make to justify Obama’s executive order granting amnesty to around 5 million illegals is that “George H. W. Bush did it too.” They won’t believe authorities from National Review or Breitbart, of course, but maybe they’ll believe Glenn Kessler’s fact-check, the bottom line of which says:

To recap, the White House seized on an apparently inaccurate news report, which cited an estimate much higher than any other news organization. Meanwhile, officials ignored other contemporaneous reporting using much lower figures — as well as the actual outcome of the policy. That’s worthy of Four Pinocchios.

Four Pinocchios

(Read the whole thing, of course, which gives chapter and verse justifying that Pinocchio award.)

Nah! They won’t believe Kessler either. In the battle between facts and ideology, facts have no chance.

Cutting through Obama’s fatuous verbiage to the truth about immigration in America

Obama’s justification for issuing his executive order on amnesty is that the system was broken and, with Congress refusing to act, it was up to him to fix it. Most of us have focused on the fact that it’s not the president’s job to “fix” comprehensive legislation — especially if the voters have made clear, through their most recent vote, that they don’t want the president’s “fix.” Daniel Greenfield, however, focuses on the “the system is broken” part of the lie (emphasis mine):

According to Obama our immigration system is broken because it doesn’t allow illegal aliens who illegally crossed the border to take American jobs. That’s not a broken system, that’s what the system is supposed to do.

When illegal aliens aren’t allowed to legally take American jobs, that’s how you know the immigration system is working. In the language of progressivism, helping means ruining and fixing means breaking. A system that fulfills any useful purpose must be reformed out of all usefulness. If the tattered shreds of the immigration system still keep a single Democratic voter from legally cashing a welfare check and casting a vote, then immigration must be reformed and helped and fixed until it is completely destroyed.

The immigration system is broken because it was reformed so many times that it makes as much sense as an outhouse on a space shuttle. Its main function now is to bring millions of people without jobs to a country where millions are out of work. Obama wants to fix that by adding millions more people.

(Read the rest here.)

Cutting through Obama’s verbiage about a new process for illegals

The DiploMad is another person who listened carefully to Obama’s speech and realized that it was fried fog, full of sound and slurry (probably the manure kind), but signifying nothing (or nada, as we PC types like to say). For all Obama’s talk about a process to ensure that the cheaters who prospered now suddenly play by the rules, Obama is making it up as he goes, and outlining meaningless, faux procedures:

The deal is no deal, to paraphrase the great Canadian philosopher Howie Mandel. Does anybody sane think that the horribly managed and thoroughly politicized Department of Homeland Security can run such background checks? I can assure you if this “proposal” takes root, there will be a booming business–as happened back in the 1980s with the ill-conceived “one-time, never-again” amnesty–in fraudulent documents, e.g., rental receipts, water bills, to prove that an applicant has been in country for over five years. Criminal background checks? That alone gives the lie to Obama’s earlier boasting about his misadministration’s deporting of criminal aliens. If an illegal alien has a criminal record why is that person still in country? If one has a criminal record, why would he or she come forward to “apply” for . . . what exactly? What is being offered? A temporary stay free of deportation? The illegal aliens already have that. State that you’re willing to pay taxes? What? Most of these people I am willing to wager do not reach the income level of having to pay taxes. They collect public dole, but they do not and will not pay income taxes.

Amnesty will cost Americans a lot of money

The great thing about being a New York Times pundit is that you get paid to be both trite and wrong. The most recent case in point is Nicholas Kristof, who wrote a much-lauded (amongst Progressives) piece this past weekend. In it, he said that immigration’s really great, managing to imply that Republicans are anti-immigration. Republicans, of course, are not anti-immigration.  They are anti-cheating. Rather than shedding tears for the cheaters, they cry up for those who have expended a great deal of time and money so as not to cheat. Those honest would-be immigrants are the real losers here.

Kristoff also claims that, with the taxes coming in from immigrants, the American economy will soar. On its face, that’s appallingly stupid. The likelihood that amnestied illegals will suddenly vault into the top half of American earners is ridiculous. They will be in the bottom half — the half that doesn’t pay any taxes. And even if they do pay taxes, says Robert Rector, who actually ran the numbers, that short uptick in taxes will quickly be swamped by the outflow of benefits — to the tune of some $26 trillion.

The difference between a politician and a statesman

Some of my older readers might remember the notion of a “statesman.” The “statesman” was a politician who became bigger than his job description. He showed tremendous wisdom and leadership, far above his putative political pay-grade. We don’t have statesmen any more, whether at home or abroad. The last American statesman was Reagan. The last non-American statesman was Churchill. Clearly, their likes are not seen often.

Unlike statesmen, politicians are driven by smaller concerns, whether those of their constituents (which can be an honorable force or not, depending on the constituents) or by their ideology (again, sometimes honorable and sometimes not) or by their own petty desires and vices (which is never honorable). I thought of that last category when I saw the Washington Post’s headline following the death of ex-D.C. Mayor Marion Barry: “Marion Barry, gifted politician.”

Barry was indeed a “gifted politician” if you define “politician” to include someone driven by his own petty desires and, in his case, major vices. Barry didn’t even rise to the level of someone who served his constituents well. By keeping them stewing in a fetid broth of racial victimization, he degraded their lives, while enriching his own — and he even threw that away thanks to his greed and chemical self-indulgence.

That WaPo conclusion, though, does explain a great deal about the way in which the WaPo views Obama. He and Barry are cut from the same cloth, although Barry’s cloth was a coarse weave, while Obama’s has a higher thread count.

I’m very disturbed by rape accusations to the media years after the fact

The 1990s was the decade of repressed memories: Thanks to overzealous therapists, hundreds of vulnerable people (usually women) suddenly “remembered” that their parents (usually their fathers) had subjected them to the worst type of sexual abuse. Men were destroyed and families broken up. It later appeared that, as common sense would indicate, people do in fact remember terrible suffering. They may consciously ignore those memories, but they don’t forget them.  The repressed memory movement eventually fizzled away once people listened to audiotapes of the therapy sessions (they were released during trials) and heard the therapists use major prompting on hypnotized patients.

The rape accusations against Bill Cosby and a University of Virginia frat house are not being told to the public as long-lost, now-recovered repressed memories. Instead, they are being reported as events that happened between three and fifty years ago, but that no one bothered to report to the authorities at the time they occurred. In the case of Cosby, the women claim that they were intimidated by his fame; in the case of the University of Virginia frat, the student claims that she was intimidated by the frat house’s social standing.

Rape is a terrible crime. Both of these narratives involve allegations of actual rape, rather than the “he touched my forearm and I didn’t like it” crap that routinely comes from college campuses.  However, in all of these cases, the women who allege they were raped did not report any violent crime to the authorities.

In the case of the alleged UVA rape, the woman claims that she was raped by seven men, a process that left her covered with blood. That’s Soviet soldier in WWII, Rwanda, ISIS level rape. And yet the victim claims that she didn’t bother to report it at the time for fear of the social stigma. She’s only going public now, because. . . . Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?

In Cosby’s case, the claims are pretty much the same: They start off with “he drugged me,” and then go on to complain of forced oral sex, molestation, actual intercourse or, in several cases, something along the lines of “I think he did something to me.” Again, these claims far exceed the “he looked at me funny” rape claims emanating from too many college campuses. And yet the women didn’t report the claim to the police, they didn’t make diary entries, they didn’t go to a lawyer. They’re only going public now because. . . . Well, that’s the question, isn’t it?

I’m actually pretty agnostic about all these claims. That is, I neither believe nor disbelieve them. My problem is that there are no safeguards against dishonesty.  Thanks to hundreds of years of accumulated wisdom, America’s courtrooms have in place rules of evidence that are intended to ensure that any evidence put before the court is more likely than not to be true. There are no such safeguards in the court of public opinion as mediated by the media.

What I do know is that we have a bunch of past accusations without any reasonably probative contemporaneous evidence. The only contemporaneous evidence the alleged victims are offering other than their own say-so is their friends’ say-so:  “Yeah, that’s what she told me.”  At best, their friends’ agreement is of dubious evidentiary value absent something corroborating those tales.

All of the horrific accusations against Cosby and the UVA fraternity may be absolutely true. I’m just not prepared to render a verdict about inflammatory rape charges based on tales told to a newspaper.

Fox is trouncing the competition

David Zurawik, a Baltimore TV critic has pointed out that, in recent weeks, Fox has dramatically increased its lead when compared to the other news outlets. Zurawik says it’s time for the other stations to stop attacking Fox and, if they want to survive, start seeing what its alchemical magic is:

I think one of the reasons for this latest evolution of ratings dominance might be that Fox was a far better watchdog on the Obama White House than any other TV news organization. It took the heat and the blowback from an administration that showed an enmity for the press not seen on Pennsylvania Avenue since the dark days of Richard Nixon, but it stayed the course. And now with viewers seeing the contempt this administration had for them and the truth, they respect what Fox did the last six years.

If you ask me, Zurawik’s right about that.  The only problem I have is that Zurawik, when writing the paragraph immediately following, forgot to include a sentence.  He wrote this:

Or maybe, it’s what some critics of Fox say: That those who watch the channel only want to hear one side of the story, and that’s all that Fox gives them. The implication here is that Fox viewers are stupid, to borrow an offensive term that Jonathan Gruber, the administration’s $400,000 adviser on Obamacare, used to describe American voters.

If I were writing that paragraph, I would have written it thusly:

Or maybe, it’s what some critics of Fox say: That those who watch the channel only want to hear one side of the story, and that’s all that Fox gives them. The implication here is that Fox viewers are stupid, to borrow an offensive term that Jonathan Gruber, the administration’s $400,000 adviser on Obamacare, used to describe American voters. The flaw in this line of argument is that MSNBC is doing exactly the same thing, only with the Progressive side of the story, and is failing dismally.