The Bookworm Beat 12/6/14 — Saturday sweep-up edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingA cold has been making the rounds in my neighborhood and it finally caught up with me. I don’t feel particularly ill, but I feel congested and quite desperately sleepy. I had a great deal to do today, and mostly managed to re-read Agatha Christie’s Mrs. McGinty’s Dead, which wasn’t too taxing (and, thankfully, I’d forgotten whodunnit). I’ve now roused myself enough to clean the kitchen, do the laundry, and share with you a few browser tabs I still have open from yesterday:

The all-around best post about the Rolling Stone’s journalistic malpractice

I’ve shouted my opinion about Rolling Stone’s UVA rape story from the treetops (“It didn’t happen that way!”), and I’ve linked to several posts that agreed with me, only they did so more thoroughly, more elegantly and, most importantly, from more prominent platforms than mine.  These combined voices forced Rolling Stone to admit to gross journalistic malpractice.

Of all these bully-pulpit loud voices on the subject, my favorite is Jonah Goldberg. Writing before Rolling Stone walked back its story, Jonah Goldberg had this to say:

So I am having a hard time getting my head around something. All week people have been calling me a “rape apologist” and “pro-rape.” I’m being constantly informed that I don’t understand “rape culture.” These often hysterical accusations tend to come from people who seem to understand rape culture the same way some people understand the geopolitics of Westeros or Middle Earth: They’ve studied it, they know every detail about it, they just seem to have forgotten it doesn’t exist.

Now, hold on. I certainly believe rape happens. And I definitely believe we have cultural problems that lead to date rape and other drunken barbarisms and sober atrocities. But the term “rape culture” suggests that there is a large and obvious belief system that condones and enables rape as an end in itself in America. This simply strikes me as an elaborate political lie intended to strengthen the hand of activists. There’s definitely lots that is wrong with our culture, particularly youth culture and specifically campus culture. Sybaritic, crapulent, hedonistic, decadent, bacchanalian: choose your adjectives.

What is most remarkable about our problems is that they seem to take people by surprise. For instance, it would be commonsense to our grandmothers that some drunk men will do bad things, particularly in a moral vacuum, and that women should take that into account. I constantly hear that instead of lecturing women about their behavior we should teach men not to rape. I totally, completely, 100 percent agree that we should teach men not to rape. The problem is we do that. A lot. Maybe we should do it more. We also teach people not to murder — another heinous crime. But murders happen too. That’s why we advise our kids to steer clear of certain neighborhoods at certain times and avoid certain behaviors. I’m not “pro-murder” if I tell my kid not to walk through the park at night and flash money around any more than I am pro-rape if I give her similar advice.

Read the rest here.

Interesting things are happening in Sweden; or the Swedish worms are turning

Sweden has recently been shaken out of its sweet Nordic complacency. In the last election, the so-called “centrist” party got knocked out of power when voters threw their weight behind both a Leftist party and an anti-immigrant party called the Swedish Democrats.

Of course, as is typical for any coverage about political parties in Europe, the centrist party is actual Left of center, the Leftist party is hard socialist, and the anti-immigrant party, which is called the Swedish Democrats, is designated as “far-right.” This last designation makes people think “Nazi” — never mind that the Nazis were socialists, which means they’re more closely aligned with Sweden’s Leftist party. By American standards, the Swedish Democrats’ demands are quite moderate: they want to limit immigration (which is primarily Muslim) and they want to limit the welfare instantly showered upon all in-coming Muslim immigrants.

In the last election, the Swedish Democrats picked up 29 seats in Parliament, for a total of 49 (out of 349). These votes were drawn from centrist party voters. The result was that the centrist party lost power, the Swedish Democrats still had too little support to form a government, and the Leftist party won the prize. Or did it?

You see, something very strange happened in Sweden this past week:

The far right [ed. — See what I mean?] forced the crisis to a head when they broke with established tradition and voted with the centre-right opposition instead of abstaining after their own budget proposal had fallen, ensuring the government’s defeat on this key legislation. In bitter remarks aimed at the centre-right, who had refused to compromise, prime minister Stefan Löfven admitted the Sweden Democrats now had a veto over Swedish politics, leaving him no choice but to call elections just six months after the country went to the polls in September.

Swedish voters, although they desperately want to view themselves as just the most wonderful, giving people in the world, are recognizing that these Muslim immigrants are a disaster. It’s not that the immigrants are violently antisemitic (which is probably copacetic with the antisemitic Swedes); it’s that they’re just plain violent, having driven Sweden’s rate rape up to the highest in Europe. They’re also costly, because they drain the welfare system without contributing. My bet, therefore, is that the “far right” Swedish Democrat party will do even better in this coming round of elections than they did in the last one.

For more on this, check out Thomas Lifson’s comments.

Obama’s proposed sanctions on Israel

Another issue with which I’m sure you’re all familiar is the claim that Barack Obama is mulling imposing sanctions against Israel. For those unfamiliar with this, the word “Israel” is not a mistake.  That is, I didn’t really mean to type ‘Iran’ there.” No, our administration would like to sanction the only free, open, democratic society in the Middle East and one, moreover, that has always been a staunch friend to America. I’m outraged as every decent person should be. Keith Koffler wrote my favorite piece on this arrant act if indecency from the administration.

Sultan Knish: Black Lives Don’t Matter

No, the inestimable Daniel Greenfield is not stating as his own opinion the fact that black lives don’t matter. He is, instead, pointing out, in great detail, that black lives do not matter to Democrats, Progressives, Liberal, Leftists, or whatever other name that political ideology chooses for itself as each name, upon much us, becomes tainted by association with the ideology. For statists, blacks are useful only insofar as they can advance the statist agenda. The reality of black lives is irrelevant — and, indeed, the worse black lives are, the better for the statist who uses them as propaganda tools.

Bottom line: By every metric, since the American Left got the government to sink its talons into black Americans with LBJ’s “Great Society,” the overall quality of black lives in America has declined. For every Michelle Obama or Valerie Jarrett, there are ten Trayvon Martins.

This is not to say that, before the Great Society, individual Americans who hewed Left weren’t doing the right thing when they spoke out against the myriad indignities visited against blacks in America. They were indeed taking a principled stand. The problem was that, just as their principles were seeing results in a steady improvement in the quality of life for American blacks, the government, by effectively imposing socialism on blacks, destroyed their lives and culture just as surely as slavery did.

The enemy Hillary Clinton wants to “respect” and with whom she wishes to “empathize”

Tin-eared Hillary Clinton did it again. Trying to tout the benefits of a female president (who would save the world through soft, rather than hard, diplomacy), she had this to say:

This is what we call smart power,” Clinton said to a small audience at Georgetown. “Using every possible tool and partner to advance peace and security. Leaving no one on the sidelines. Showing respect even for one’s enemies. Trying to understand, in so far as psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view. Helping to define the problems, determine the solutions. That is what we believe in the 21st century will change — change the prospects for peace.

That statement is appalling on so many levels, not the least of which is the fact that Hillary is hard as nails and probably wouldn’t understand soft diplomacy if she were wallowing in a feather bed made of the stuff.

What she’s describing is a world view that works if you’re negotiating with a rational actor over trade agreements or riparian rights. In that case, you do want to understand what drives the other side, since that understanding might reveal useful negotiating tools for you. Moreover, if you loath your negotiating partner, he’ll pick up on it, loath you in return, and all bets are off.

But when it comes to something like ISIS, Hillary would have been right only if she’d said “Trying to understand, in so far as psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view” so that we can use that understanding to destroy ISIS.  Call it a psychological Trojan Horse approach, if you will. But when you’re dealing with a fanatic crew that wants to impose a world Caliphate, and that is killing in such bulk and so quickly that the dead cannot be counted, only a fool would speak in terms of empathy, respect, and non-military solutions.

Re Eric Garner, I agree with the DiploMad

I’ve already given my considered wrestler’s opinion that the choke-hold wasn’t what killed Eric Garner. I agree with those who say that his obesity and health problems were no helped by his being squished on the ground, face down. If anything was directly implicated in his death, it wasn’t racism, it was weightism. But more to the point, one could say that people with a laundry list of health problems might want to approach the police with care, knowing that their bodies aren’t up to rough handling — and rough handling is what you’ll get if you don’t immediately comply with police orders. (Given that Garner, whose crime was rather innocuous this time around, had a long, long arrest record, you’d think he would have figured this one out.)

Getting past all the physical issues, I think the DiploMad said it best:

What bothers me a great deal is that Garner had not robbed or assaulted anybody, much less an armed cop. He was neither Michael Brown nor that other thug, Trayvon Martin. His crime? Selling loose cigarettes to passers-by, thereby, depriving the city of a few cents of tax revenue. He died for selling loose cigarettes; he died for not paying a few cents in taxes to the Progressive New York City Leviathan cum Tony Soprano.

Garner was a victim of progressivism’s lethality, and shared that fate with millions of other persons around the world. That NYC, my old home town, can afford to send at least eight or nine vastly overpaid and over-equipped cops to bust and kill a guy for selling cigarettes tells us all we need to know about the state of progressive governance in our horribly misled, once great, and former Republic.

The New Republic’s decline and fall

Back in the 1990s, I used to be an avid The New Republic reader. It made me feel like a smarter, better informed person. Then, a conservative friend gave me a subscription to Commentary Magazine, and I went beyond feeling smarter and better informed. I also felt like a person who no longer struggled with just shattering cognitive dissonance. (And I must admit, when Andrew Sullivan took over as TNR’s editor, I really hated his style. Just hated it.)

As you all know by now, Chris Hughes, the man who got rich being Mark Zuckerberg’s roommate, bought TNR as a vanity piece — and promptly destroyed it. Of all the articles describing TNR’s decline and fall, Ron Radosh’s is my favorite.

Also, for sheer fun, you have to read Andrew Stiles’ take on Hughes in his article entitled “Couple of the Year.”

You don’t have to be obnoxious about Christmas

I may be Jewish, but I’ve always loved Christmas. Nowadays, though, the politically correct stance for all those who do not celebrate Christmas is to take umbrage when Christmas is mentioned. One little Jewish boy, though, when asked to write a letter to Santa, responded perfectly, with humor and good will. If only everyone had his wisdom.

If he manages as well as he gives inspiring speeches, Target has a winner in this one

An employee videotaped a Target manager who channeled his inner Spartan when preparing his team for Black Friday:

I love dogs. Dogs make me laugh.