The Bookworm Beat 1/21/15 — “Post-SOTU” edition and Open Thread

Woman writingI didn’t watch the SOTU. Aside from finding Obama a boring, inelegant speaker, I was helping a client with trial prep. Today, the trial got continued for a few months so, before settling in for a nice 12 hour sleep (I wish!), I can blog — and share with you, among other things, a couple of my favorite SOTU analyses. I’ve got a lot to say, so I’ll just start saying….

My two favorite SOTU wrap-ups

As I admitted above, I did not watch the SOTU, so I can’t actually say if these wrap-ups are accurate. I can just say that I liked them.

From Neo-Neocon:

But Obama long ago concluded that the best defense is a good offense. He has never had to face the consequences of his failures. He has been able to fool most of the people most of the time, at least when it counted. He has skated past disaster after disaster, and gotten away with lie after lie. The biggest repercussion he’s been met with—the 2014 Democratic defeat in Congress—may not stop him. Republicans are somewhat toothless, in part because they are divided among themselves but also because Obama has veto power that will be difficult to override. He’s also got that phone and that pen, and the will to use them. He has successfully transformed the US into a second-rate power and allies into enemies (or at least, into abandoned and confused ex-allies). And he has turned enemies into, if not allies, then gloating and stronger forces in the world for whatever evil they’ve got in mind.

It’s actually worked out very well for Obama. So why not brag?

And from Jonathan Tobin:

But perhaps the worst aspect of the speech was its conclusion in which the president disingenuously called for a new politics in which partisan passions would be put aside as both sides worked for the betterment of the country. These lines came only minutes after the president threatened to veto any bill he didn’t like and derided his opponents as straw men with questionable motives.

This is the administration that likened Tea Party supporters in Congress to terrorists. This is also the president that used his State of the Union to concentrate on partisan talking points rather than suggestions that had a chance of passage in a Congress that is now controlled by the other party.

For the same man to then pose as the avatar of compromise is more than disingenuous. It speaks to a credibility gap that is as wide as the Grand Canyon. In that context Obama’s mention of his 2004 speech to the Democratic National Convention in which he sought to portray himself as post-partisan was equal parts nostalgia and satire.

A round-up about the Muslim world, its intersection with ours

I have more links on this topic than I realized, due to the fact that I’ve been sitting on some of these for a couple of days. I’m therefore going to toss all the Islam-related links under this heading, and give you a very quick run-down of each. For those of you who noticed the conspicuous absence of Muslim terrorism from Obama’s SOTU, these links may be interesting:

Jonah Goldberg on Obama’s refusal to acknowledge Islam’s role in worldwide warfare and terrorism:

The Obama administration seems to believe that the wonder-working power of their words can get everyone to stop believing their lying eyes and ears. It’s tempting to ask, “How stupid do they think we are?” But the more relevant question is, “How stupid do they think the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims are?” Whatever appeal the Islamic State may or may not have in the larger Muslim world, Barack Obama insisting “it is not Islamic” surely makes no difference whatsoever. And as for the jihadists, it’s not like his words speak louder than his drone strikes.

From Tom Friedman, of all people, who’s finally begun to notice the gap between Obama’s rhetoric and reality:

When you don’t call things by their real name, you always get in trouble. And this administration, so fearful of being accused of Islamophobia, is refusing to make any link to radical Islam from the recent explosions of violence against civilians (most of them Muslims) by Boko Haram in Nigeria, by the Taliban in Pakistan, by Al Qaeda in Paris and by jihadists in Yemen and Iraq. We’ve entered the theater of the absurd.

From Victor Davis Hanson, who takes on the “small minority of Muslims” excuse for ignoring Muslim violence:

However, if Islamic-inspired violence abroad does not directly and negatively affect the Middle East, or if it creates a sense of fear of radical Islam among Westerners that does not translate into hardship for the Muslim world — or that perhaps even succeeds in winning a sort of warped prestige — then there is no reason to expect the Islamic community will take the necessary measures to curb it.

From Max Boot, who says we need not fear Eurabia:

Given what a small percentage of Europe’s population–to say nothing of the U.S. or Canada–is actually Muslim, it would be hardly likely that this minority could impose its will on the majority and create some kind of fundamentalist Sharia law as so many seem to fear. And indeed, contrary to unsupported assertions by some alarmists, there is in fact no evidence of any such Islamic fundamentalist law being imposed in the West.

Max Boot is infinitely better informed than I, so I give him a great deal of deference. What I think he’s forgetting, however, is that, as Neo-Neocon explains, a savvy ideological minority can nevertheless take over power in a country:

The Nazis rose to power in part because they were popular with the people; I’m not saying they weren’t. But they were not all that popular. For example, they never won a majority of the votes of the German people while elections were still free. One of the lessons of the Nazi rise to power it is important to learn is how a movement that is not supported by a majority of the population—such as, for example, leftism in the US—can nevertheless gain power in a democracy through democratic means, by conniving, lying about their intentions, ruthlessness, violence, threats and intimidation, cluelessness of their opponents about what they are up to, and a little bit of luck.

From Evelyn Gordon, the way in which the world — especially Europe — encourages Hamas to recruit young teenagers, something that is in practical fact a war crime, but that in reality will only redound to Israel’s detriment:

In fact, it’s a triple win for Hamas, because this tactic doesn’t only endanger the child soldiers themselves; it also endangers innocent 15-, 16-, and 17-year-olds. After all, if Hamas is recruiting children this age into its “army,” then Israeli soldiers have to treat every male in that age range as a potential combatant. And in the fog of battle–where it’s often hard for soldiers to tell exactly who is shooting at them, especially since Hamas operatives don’t wear uniforms and frequently open fire from amid civilians–anyone who looks like a potential combatant is more likely to be killed. Thus Israel will be accused of killing even more children.

From Daniel Greenfield, some scary historic reality, which is the Islam is the most genocidal ideology in the history of mankind, spanning the period from its inception through today:

The rise of Islam was not based on faith, but on mass murder.

Within a few centuries of the time that Mohammed had ordered the ethnic cleansing of Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula, the massacre of millions of Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists was underway across the Middle East through India and as far as Afghanistan.

The Islamic Holocaust was the greatest act of mass murder in human history. And it is still taking place today over a thousand years later.

From Michael Gerson, on the fact that Obama is engaged in the impossible task of pretending there is no Muslim terrorism:

Obama is careful to explain that terrorism is not “an existential threat.” “Intelligence and military force alone,” he says, “is not going to solve this problem.” And he urges Europeans to “not simply respond with a hammer.”

We have come a long way when an American president pompously urges the French to curb their cowboy instincts.

But the situation in Europe reveals this line of argument — that overreaction provokes terrorism — to be farcical. The French did not support the Iraq war. They did not engage in enhanced interrogation. They have been consistent supporters of the Palestinian cause. They have tried not to offend. But it didn’t matter. Some offense by Charles Martel in the 8th century would have been sufficient pretext. Western countries are not engaged in policy disagreements with violent Islamism. They are facing, in Cameron’s words, a “fanatical death cult.”

Chris Kyle and the movie “American Sniper”

I wrote about American Sniper here. There are others who have something to say too.

From Bryan Sikes, a Green Beret Sniper, an open letter using humor to challenge Michael Moore’s crudely simplistic statement that military snipers are nothing more than cold-blooded murderers:

It’s typical of “men” like you to criticize the intestinal fortitude, focus, discipline and patriotism of a sniper. It must stem from an inferiority complex or something. But hey, it’s okay cupcake. We snipers are thick skinned and the efforts of world class turds such as yourself to portray us in a negative light only makes us laugh. If you and I were in the same room, I’d throw you a smile and gently pat you on the head knowing you’re nothing more than a mouth breathing, Crisco sweating waste of space not even worthy of being in the presence of a sniper. It’s almost funny how people like you preach things like ‘acceptance’ and ‘not passing judgement’ or ‘labeling people’, but then are the first to do so when a person is in some way dissimilar from you.

(The above quotation is the second to last paragraph. You have to go to the link and read the whole thing so that you can savor the wonders of Sikes’ last paragraph.)

From Caleb Howe, who dismisses Moore’s argument with one of the best lines I’ve read on the subject:

The material objection we are supposed to share comes in three parts.

Part One: he is not as close to people when he shoots them as other people are when they shoot. The blessed virtue of proximity, I suppose. By that reasoning, it is safe to conclude that Michael Moore finds the up close and personal beheading of a journalist to be far preferable to the long distance shooting of the beheader.

(Read the whole thing. Caleb’s an excellent writer, with a knack for snarky, but never facile, retorts to brain-dead Lefties.)

From DiploMad, some nice things to say about the movie:

It is not a “Rah, Rah, USA!” film. It is about men who respond to the call of duty; who get angry when they see their country attacked; and who put their lives on the line. In this case, the movie is about US Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who became the deadliest sniper in US military history. Throughout the movie it is clear–despite some of the leftist nonsense now being said about the film–that Chris Kyle’s motivation in becoming a sniper is his realization that his shooting skills could help save the lives of his fellow combatants. He could save the lives of Marines. Neither the film nor the book gave me the impression that Kyle wanted to kill; he wanted to prevent Marines for whom he had “overwatch” from being killed. This could have been the story of thousands of others, American, British, Canadian, Australian, Israeli, whatever, who saw their duty and did it. It is a great film. Watch it.

From former Marine Bruce Kesler, who also found a lot to like in the movie:

Good art opens vistas to the viewer that he or she wouldn’t ordinarily see or know are there. The new film American Sniper is great art, and we have Clint Eastwood to thank for it. For a nation in which so very, very few serve in the military and in combat, there is huge ignorance of the simple and essentially heroic motivations of our defenders and their sacrifices unimaginable to a civilian. Each and every serviceman experiences war in their own way, and each has a story that is unique. Most do not share that story with anyone or with more than a trusted few. I’ve probably seen as many “war movies” as anyone, and it is rare that the connections to a man’s service is served up so realistically to the audience. There are no John Waynes. There are individuals who stand tall when needed and meet their responsibilities at any cost. The theater was packed and entirely silent, not a person stirring in their seat. We filed out in silence, each person experiencing the film in their own way and thinking. How rare for a film to take the audience’s breath away. That’s art.

From Ian Tuttle, who demolishes the tidal wave of libelous misinformation coming from the Left about Chris Kyle:

With the release of Clint Eastwood’s Chris Kyle biopic American Sniper, based on the life of America’s deadliest marksman, the Left has been eager to take potshots at the late Navy officer and Iraq veteran. By deceptively quoting Kyle’s 2012 autobiography (also entitled “American Sniper”), they have gained traction for questionable interpretations and outright lies. Here are the three most egregious falsehoods, and the truth his critics have willfully ignored.

Two stories about the Holocaust

First, an incredibly moving article about the meeting between a man liberated from Dachau and his liberator.

Second, who would have thought that Legos would be the vehicle to help one Liverpool teen say, ““The biggest thing I realized about the Holocaust through making this project is just how long the persecution went on. From 1933 Jews slowly lost all their rights until they were being murdered in their thousands.”

The depressing epitaph for a generation

On an “I grew up in San Francisco” Facebook thread, there’s been a lot of anger from people who’s lives were inconvenienced by the latest Black Lives Matter march. Their complaint was that the march seemed to have no purpose but to make people miserable. Jim Geraghty knows what they mean:

Storming into bars and restaurants, locking themselves to concrete-filled-barrels and blocking Interstates . . . this is the progressive grassroots of 2015. This is the Left, capital-L. This is blind fury, lashing out at others for having the audacity to drink beverages, eat brunch, or commute in a manner that the self-appointed arbiters of justice on the Left deem insufficiently down with the cause. There is no actual “activism” here. There is no attempt at persuasion here. There is no thought here. There is only resentment and anger and a desire to lash out at anybody who isn’t one of them. There’s no agenda or plan to actually improve things. There’s no call to action. It’s just rage-whining.

Selma, the movie

From Robert Avrech, you’ll learn about someone conspicuously absent from Selma, the movie:

One of Dr. King’s greatest supporters was Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel who, along with most American Jews, was active in the civil rights movement. A prominent scholar and theologian, Rabbi Heschel, like Dr. King, saw the civil rights movement not only as a political struggle, but as a religious one as well.

From Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, an article that uses the movie Selma as the starting point for a discussion about how the Left has co-opted and destroyed MLK’s message:

Recently I was talking with a family member who’s educated, and I asked him what he thought about Sharpton. He replied that he likes Sharpton and that, since blacks have been oppressed, they need a “watchdog” to look out for their interests.

The truth is – if you support a racist, then that makes you a racist. Racist black people demand racist representatives, and that explains how a man most of America thinks is an utter joke can be seen as a hero in the black community.

“I always feel like somebody’s watching me….”

Not only is the government using Obamacare to watch you, it’s profiting off of that by selling your information to third parties — without your permission, of course.

Germany quietly funds a new Jewish Holocaust

Tuvia Tenebom has been traveling through Israel looking at how greatly the country has changed since he grew up there.  Funding and shaping that change, he says, is German money, funneled through NGOs and, of course, the International Red Cross.