The Bookworm Beat 12/22/14 — Sneaking away from my family edition, and Open Thread

Woman writingThis is my fifth attempt just today to write something for my blog. The family’s needs are comprehensive, to say the least. Since I have a small window of time here, let me get right to it:

Best sentence of 2014

NRO’s Kevin Williamson wasn’t too much on my radar in 2013 and before. Fortunately, though, I discovered him in 2014, and am consistently delighted with his insights and his writing. Yesterday, he reached a new peak when, in a comprehensive round-up detailing the debasement of America’s higher education, he wrote a wonderful paragraph, capped with, quite possibly, the best sentence of 2014 (emphasis mine):

James Franco and Seth Rogen and the Sony brass might be man-shaped objects carved out of cotton candy, but they are iron men compared with the American college student. Students at the University of California at Irvine felt the need to avail themselves of the services of grief therapists after the grand jury decided not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for a shooting in Ferguson, Mo., some 1,800 miles away. It’s not like the UCI Anteaters don’t have legitimate reasons for grief – starting with the fact that they are called “Anteaters” — but a no-bill from a grand jury five states away isn’t one of them. Meanwhile at Occidental, students who were receiving class credit to work on Democratic political campaigns were reduced to shambolic mounds of blubbering distress by Republican victories.

Oh, the humanities.

Yes, we should blame Sharpton and DeBlasio for the New York shootings

I’ve seen conservatives saying that, if we blame Al Sharpton and Mayor DeBlasio for the murder of two police officers in New York, we are no better than the Leftist MSM that instantly blamed Sarah Palin for the shooting of Gabby Giffords, an attack that killed several people and severely wounded Giffords herself. (See, e.g, Jonathan Tobin’s post.)

I disagree. It was obvious to the meanest intelligence that Sarah Palin’s rhetoric was aimed solely at the ballot box.  She was speaking in the time-honored democratic tradition of seeking victory through votes. The same cannot be said for the marchers whom Sharpton and DeBlasio inspired and coddled. When they marched through the streets after Michael Brown’s and Eric Garner’s deaths, they were extremely explicit in their demands:

“What do we want?” drones the blood chant.

“Dead cops!” comes the reply.


Thus does rhetoric have consequences.

There were no “dog whistles” here (i.e., carefully elusive phrases that only true believers could interpret). Instead, the Progressive elites cheered on a rank-and-file that was explicitly out for blood . . . real blood. This was the precise equivalent of shouting “Murder the cops” in a crowded theater. It was incitement to violence and ought to be understood and treated as such.

See also Ira Straus and Robert Avrech on this point.

Your trend is my cherry-picking

I went with a couple of liberals to the Exploratorium.  In one section, there’s a little graph on the wall charting rising waters in San Francisco Bay over the last 100 years. In my presence, one liberal turned to the other and said, “That’s what’s wrong with these climate deniers. They cherry-pick just the last 18 years, when they should be looking at long-term trends like this.”

Long-term trends? I can do that.

Today, I sent to that liberal an article explaining that a 2,000 year long-term trend shows that the earth has been cooling consistently. Sure, there’ve been upticks in temperatures, but the basic trajectory is downwards.

I thought to myself as I sent it “There. No one can accuse me of cherry-picking. That’s not just 100 years of data; it’s 2,000 years of data!”

Silly me. The liberal immediately emailed back to tell me that this was “cherry-picked” data and was junk science that did nothing to disprove global warming.  He provided no data to support his contention.

Progressives and conservatives live on a different planet

Molly Ball, an Atlantic writer, has been forced to admit that the age of Obama is over. Even while conceding that reality, though, she makes several “factual” statements that left me reeling. Herewith, a mini-fisking (hyperlinks omitted):

In other words, what we witnessed in 2014 wasn’t just a swing of the ol’ pendulum; it was the end of the Obama era in American politics.

One major hallmark of the Obama era was the rise of the Tea Party, a far-right faction driven to conspiratorial derangement by literally anything Obama proposed.

[One wonders about the cognitive dissonance that drives people who applauded, and often participated in, the Occupy movement and the recent Ferguson/Garner protests, to say that the Tea Party, which embraces constitutional limitations and freedoms, is a “far-right faction” driven to “derangement” by a president who sought to force all Americans to buy a product they didn’t need, through a complicated wealth redistribution scheme. Just think about the protests: Occupy sought to upend America, and involved a lot of sex, drug use, and defecation on American streets, while the recent protests anti-cop have revolved around mass die-ins, freeway blockage, and (successfully met) demands that police officers get murdered. The Tea Party protests, on the other hand, had people waving American flags, asking for lower taxes, and cleaning up after themselves.  And it’s the Tea Party that’s “deranged.”  Honestly, how in the world do Progressives live in their own heads?]


Most of all, of course, the midterms were a backlash against Obama’s leadership and policies. Some of this was deserved—the disastrous rollout of Obamacare, for example, seemed to trigger an irrevocable loss of trust in the White House’s competence. The fact that health-care reform went on to be implemented pretty smoothly after that did little to rescue the policy’s, or the president’s, reputation for effectiveness.

[Is it just me or have people been complaining non-stop about losing their insurance and being forced to buy insurance they don’t want at prices they can’t afford? Meanwhile, is it just me or have the uninsured remained largely uninsured, with the only increase showing up in Medicare? And is it just me or did the Obama administration avoid even greater opprobrium by pushing out until after the 2016 election the worst effects of Obamacare? Just sayin’.]

Critics also argued that crises on the border and in the Middle East could be traced back to Obama’s policies.

[Yeah, funny about that. Obama makes it clear that he’s not going to stop border crossings any more and — voila! — there’s a crisis on the border. It takes a writer for the Atlantic to pretend that there’s no connection between Obama’s policies and pronouncements, and the mayhem, sliding close to anarchy, along America’s southern border.]


And some [of Obama’s decline] was Republicans’ fault, as their systematic obstruction first contributed to the president’s reputation for not being able to get anything done—and then, when he began taking unilateral action to go around the reluctant Congress, helped paint him as a power-mad executive tyrant.

[Here’s what you need to remember:  When it’s a Republican president, dissent and obstruction are patriotic. When it’s a Democrat president, dissent and obstruction are racist and irrational. This holds true even when the president’s own party admits that he’s a cold fish who refuses to work with Congress and won’t compromise on anything.]

John Adams famously said “facts are stubborn things.” Little did he know that Leftists are even more stubborn.

Deranged Leftists take on Christ’s birth

Sometimes, of course, Leftists go beyond stubborn and wander into insanity. Take, for example, Valerie Tarico, who argues in all seriousness, that Christ’s birth came about because God raped Mary. I don’t need to say anything about this, because Ed Morrissey says it all.

More mysterious mass murders in France

Police remain baffled by the motives of two French residents who, on two different occasions, drove their cars into Christmas crowds while hollering “Alahu Akbar.” These multiplying, yet still isolated, murder outbreaks, committed by men using hammers, cars, guns, or knives, all the while screaming “Alahu Akbar,” will apparently continue to vex police around the world.

The reason behind Obama’s mush-mouth explanations for opening relations with Cuba

Daniel Greenfield thinks he knows why Obama suddenly rushed into open relations with Cuba: call it the greenback dollar.

WWII: When American delighted in defeating her enemies

Life Magazine profiled the Flying Tigers in the early months of World War II.

What’s so utterly bizarre about the article is that the men are lauded for, and feel no obligation to apologize about, fighting vigorously against an enemy that had just a few months before appeared out of the blue and slaughtered more than two thousand American service men. It’s that lack of apology that is so unreal in a time when our own President refers to America’s troops as baby killers.