The Bookworm Beat 1-25-15 — the “Fresh off the Spindle” edition and Open Thread

Woman writingAnother productive Sunday: six loads of laundry, two dishwasher loads emptied and filled, one grocery shopping trip, one dinner cooked, one visit to my Mom, and one complaint drafted. I’m going to try to wrap it up with one Bookworm Beat, since I have around sixteen articles sitting on my cyber-spindle, waiting to be shared with you.

No, Boehner did not commit a felony and, yes, Bibi is doing the right thing

A meme making the rounds amongst my Progressive Facebook friends is that Boehner, by inviting Bibi Netanyahu to speak before the House committed a felony by “negotiating” with a foreign power:

How dumb do you have to be not to be able to distinguish between inviting someone to give a formal and public speech, and actually negotiating with a foreign power? Don’t answer that. Not only is it a rhetorical question, but we’re asking it of people who are on board with John Kerry’s boast that, as a young naval lieutenant, he was engaged in top secret peace talks with the communists during the Vietnam War. Even if our government didn’t routinely give passes to Democrats who work against American interests, I suspect Kerry would never have been charged with treason because the whole story is an obvious confabulation, although the wishful thinking behind it is disturbing.

But back to Bibi. Count me in the class of people who thinks that Bibi did right to come to the U.S. He has something important to say, and he needs to speak to people with power. As Caroline Glick says:

Boehner’s chief concern, and that of the majority of his colleagues from the Democratic and Republican parties alike, is that President Barack Obama’s policy in regard to Iran’s nuclear weapons program imperils the US. Just as the invitation to Netanyahu was a bipartisan invitation, so concerns about Obama’s policy toward Iran’s nuclear program are bipartisan concerns.

Over the past week in particular, Obama has adopted a position on Iran that puts him far beyond the mainstream of US politics. This radical position has placed the president on a collision course with Congress best expressed on Wednesday by Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez. During a hearing at the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee where Menendez serves as ranking Democratic member, he said, “The more I hear from the administration and its quotes, the more it sounds like talking points that come straight out of Tehran.”

Do I care that Obama is in snit about this? No. Obama is a narcissist and, in his mind, Netanyahu is the enemy. To the narcissist, this means that it is impossible for Netanyahu to do something that does not insult Obama.

Well, there is one thing Netanyahu could do to turn off Obama’s narcissist rage. He could get behind Obama, bow down really low until his nose is on the same latitude as Obama’s derriere, and say, “Oh, great President Obama! You are right and I am wrong. I will never oppose you again and, as proof of my fealty, I will hold this posture for the remainder of your presidency and, perhaps, beyond.” But other than that, there’s nothing Netanyahu can do that will not be perceived as an aggressive insult to a president who’s already a legend in his own mind.

Given that Netanyahu is damned regardless of what he does or does not do when it comes to Obama, the only appropriate thing he can do is to ignore Obama. Michael Goodwin put it best in his deservedly viral post about Obama’s temper tantrum:

It is pointless to say petty threats do not become the Oval Office. Trying to instruct this White House on manners recalls what Mark Twain said about trying to teach a pig to sing: It wastes your time and annoys the pig.

Still, the fury is telling. It reminds, as if we could forget, that everything is always about Obama.

How dare Israel be more concerned with the existential threat of Iranian nukes than with Obama’s feelings? And what do members of Congress think they are, a separate branch of government or something?

Obama lied; hopes for Middle East peace. . . . ?

You remember, of course, the Leftist screams that “Bush lied, people died.” The “lie” was Bush’s claim that Saddam Hussein had WMDs — never mind that Bush made that claim based upon the best intelligence available at the time. It would have been more accurate to say “Bush was misinformed, people died” but, lacking a rhyme scheme, that chant never got anywhere.

Barack Obama is a pro at lying, though and, since an institution’s ethos always trickles down from the top, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Obama’s administration has told an appalling lie aimed at undermining Bibi Netanyahu. Obama doesn’t want Congress to reinstate sanctions against Iran, because Obama is convinced that his natural charm, combined with the fact that he’s already taking marching orders from Tehran, means that sanctions will be counterproductive in his “negotiations” with Iran. (I don’t call it an actual “negotiation” if you’ve already agreed to the other party’s terms in advance.)

Obama, however, needs get traction in Congress with those who think only an idiot would go to the negotiating table saying “I’ll give you everything you want with no downside risks,” especially if the opposing party is the famous Nation of “Death to America” Iran.  The administration’s clever idea to cow opposition in Congress was to make the bold-faced announcement that the Mossad, Israel’s top flight secret service, agreed with Obama (no sanctions) rather than with Republicans, many Democrats, and Bibi himself (sanctions provide at least some leverage).

This statement was a lie. A complete and absolute fabrication. A whopper. An unprincipled falsehood:

An unnamed “senior Israeli official” told Israeli Channel 2 News that “the fraudulent claims against the Mossad Head were raised by the Americans yesterday despite a message that had been transmitted to them on Tuesday by Intelligence Minister [Yuval] Steinitz.”

In an unusual official statement concerning the January 19 secret meeting which had been held at the request of the American senatorial delegation by Mr. Pardo, with the prime minister’s full approval, the Mossad said:

“The Head of Mossad did not say that he opposes additional sanctions on Iran.

“Mossad Head Tamir Pardo met on January 19, 2015, with a delegation of US senators. The meeting was held at the request of the senators and with the prime minister’s approval. At the meeting, the Head of Mossad stressed the extraordinary effectiveness of the sanctions that have been placed on Iran for several years in bringing Iran to the negotiating table.

“The Head of Mossad noted that in negotiating with Iran, a policy of ‘carrots and sticks’ must be adopted, and there are not enough ‘sticks’ nowadays.” Furthermore, said the agency, he “said specifically that the agreement that is being formed with Iran is bad and could lead to a regional arms race.”

Unnamed sources in Jerusalem told Army Radio today that the statement as issued was “revenge” by the Obama administration for Netanyahu’s acceptance of the invitation extended by John Boehner (R-OH) and Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to address a joint session of Congress without going through the executive branch. White House press secretary Josh Earnest had earlier expressed the administration’s annoyance at the invitation, and has also indicated that “as a matter of policy” Obama will not meet with Netanyahu when he comes to the U.S. in March to address Congress.

Bill Maher — still a head scratcher

Bill Maher deserves kudos for tackling head-on both the problems with Islam and the problems with a Western culture too politically correct (and scared) to acknowledge that Islam has problems. If only he wasn’t a one step forward, two steps backwards kind of guy. Even as Maher gets a handle on a global existential crises, and the limits on free speech that are aiding this crisis, he can stop himself from making a grotesque attack against Chris Kyle, calling him a “psychopath.”  Maher seems incapable of understanding that he is able to speak so freely because of men like Chris Kyle — men who got their hands dirty and did the dangerous, soul-searing work of preserving American freedoms so that multi-millionaire Maher can insult the guys who save his skin.

What’s needed for Maher is a carrot and stick approach, I guess. Praise him for his courage about Islam, and try to educate him for his ignorance about America’s military. Pardon me for dragging my little poster again:

Seth Rogen and history 1

Did Congressional Dems, led by Nancy Pelosi, participate in a cover-up?

I’m not quite sure what to say about this beyond the obvious — which is that, if there’s skulduggery afoot to thwart truth, justice, and the American way, I’m ready to believe that Pelosi is at the center of it:

We’ve long suspected the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission wasn’t honest in examining events before the meltdown. But an ex-commissioner says the probe was actually a full-blown political cover-up.

In a just-released book, former FCIC member Peter Wallison says that a Democratic Congress worked with the commission’s Democratic chairman to whitewash the government’s central role in the mortgage debacle. The conspiracy helped protect some of the Democrats’ biggest stars from scrutiny and accountability while helping justify the biggest government takeover of the financial sector since the New Deal.

Wallison’s sobering, trenchantly written “Hidden in Plain Sight: What Really Caused the World’s Worst Financial Crisis and Why It Could Happen Again” reveals that the Democrat-led panel buried key data proving that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and other federal agencies pushed the housing market over the subprime cliff. The final FCIC report put the blame squarely on Wall Street.

In 2009, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed her California pal Phil Angelides, a long-time Democrat operative, to lead the commission. The fix seemed to be in, and Wallison’s account of the inner workings of the 10-member body confirms it.

Arguing with a Leftist

I had a frustrating discussion today with a Leftist who insists that “Stand Your Ground” laws and Castle Doctrine laws mean that, in more than half of America’s states, you’re free to shoot anyone who comes onto your property.  They walk on, you shoot them, and you’re home free, the Leftist said.

I patiently explained — with illustrations from the statutes themselves — that Stand Your Ground laws are (a) not the same as Castle Doctrine laws, in that they apply anywhere, not just in the home; and (b) SYG laws mean only that, if you’re in a dangerous situation and can either run or fight, you are allowed to stand and fight, rather than being required to run.  Castle Doctrine laws, I further explained, mean that, if you have a reasonable belief that an intruder on your property puts you and yours in imminent danger, you may shoot.

The important thing is that, if you’re the shooter, you have to be (a) legally on the property and (b) REASONABLE in your response.  You cannot just shoot anyone who walks onto your property.  If you do, you can expect a homicide or manslaughter charge against you.

It’s really quite simple, but there was absolutely nothing that would deter that Leftist.  “According to NPR . . . The New York Times . . . The New Yorker . . . Jon Stewart. . . .”  The actual law was irrelevant, and conservative opinion pieces (with facts) to refute the Leftist opinion pieces, were ab initio biased falsehoods, so the Lefty had no obligation to consider them.

You can imagine, then, how sympathetic I felt for Prof. Freeman Dyson, one of the acknowledged smartest scientists in the world and a climate change skeptic, who tried to have an email exchange with the Independent’s resident science writer and climate change zealot Steve Connor.  What Dyson quickly discovered is that you cannot have a fact-based discussion with someone who lives in a closed system that cannot accommodate the presence of any facts that do not support the system’s initial premise.  It’s not that Connor was rude; it’s that he was impenetrable.

Richard Fernandez is also fighting the good fight when it comes to trying to penetrate the anti-fact matter with which Leftists surround themselves.  He challenges the typical Leftist argument, which is that their conduct., rather than definitively turning around some bad situation, made it less bad than they’re sure it would have been if they hadn’t stepped in when they did:

One of the most interesting forms of rebuttal is to invoke the counterfactual. Apparent failure must always be contextualized against the background of the what-might-have-been. For example president Obama once claimed he saved 1.1 million jobs that would have been lost had he not bailed out Detroit. We are also told that Obamacare has saved everyone money, although premiums are rising under it, because premiums would have risen faster without the program. These are successes despite appearances.

Today president Obama justified his policy in Yemen saying the alternative to his strategy would have been disaster. The rise of Isis, the loss of vast territories in Iraq, the dissolution of Libya, the upheaval in Egypt are the best of possible worlds in comparison to what would have occurred if Bush were in charge.

President Barack Obama defended his administration’s drone-based counterterrorism strategy against al Qaeda militants in Yemen, saying the alternative would be to deploy U.S. troops, which he said was not sustainable.

While the outcomes of his policies do not seem to be a success in themelves, they are deceptively brilliant when it is considered they headed off some alternative future which would have been far worse. This type of reasoning is called counter-factual thinking “a concept in psychology that involves the human tendency to create possible alternatives to life events that have already occurred; something that is contrary to what actually happened.”

Bryant Gumbel — mean and stupid

I’ve never liked Bryant Gumbel, so it’s not as if I just discovered that an idol of mine has feet of clay. Still, I can’t help but feel that Gumbel has managed to sink even lower than one would have thought possible even for him: “There are few things I hate more than the NRA,” he says.  “I mean truly. I think they’re pigs. I think they don’t care about human life. I think they are a curse on the American landscape.”

If you’re still watching Gumbel on TV, maybe it’s time for you to change channels. Someone who says something like that — a pure ad hominem attack without even the pretense of intelligence — and who makes money because people tune in to watch him, deserves to be ignored in droves.

Melvin Gordon, the Tootsie Roll Emperor, has died

I love Tootsie Rolls. Despite this, I eat them as seldom as possible, because I know they’re not good for my waistline and I’m pretty sure they’re not good for my teeth. Bad for one or not, they’re an iconic candy and they got that way thanks to Tootsie Roll Industries Inc. chairman and CEO Melvin Gordon, who has died at the age of 95.

Not only are Tootsie Rolls an all-American candy, they played a significant roll in Marine Corps history:

Scott Walker for President?

People are beginning to look twice at Scott Walker, and Bruce Walker thinks they’re right to do so. He’s an imperfect candidate, but they all are.

My current thinking about Walker is that I want in the White House someone who has experience managing a government body. Rubio and Cruz are all well and good, but they’re junior Congressmen. I think we’ve seen with Obama that there’s a very difficult skill set when one is a Congressman than when one is a governor. Moreover, unlike Romney, Walker isn’t a two-time loser who has suddenly decided that becoming a Climate Change zealot will mean “third time lucky” for him. Thoughts?

Why is the Left silent about Muslim antisemitism?

Sultan Knish has the answer:

The left has become so mired in a post-colonial worldview that it refuses to understand that the struggle is not between Western European colonialism and a post-colonial Third World, but between different eras of colonialism. Arab Islamic domination is not post-colonial; it’s a colonialism that predates it.

When Western leftists make common cause with Arab and Islamic nationalists, they aren’t being post-colonial, they’re advocating an earlier form of colonialism that led and is once again leading to ethnic cleansing, genocide, mass slavery and the destruction of indigenous cultures; including that of the Jews.

Read the rest here.

The problem with homeless people

Mill Valley is amongst the more hippy-dippy enclaves in Marin County. That’s why it’s so rich to see NIMBYism crop up amongst Mill Valley residents who are sick and tired of having the homeless camp out in their children’s park.

What I like about the article is that it gives away the dirty little secret about the homeless, and it’s not that they’re all families down on their luck because of George Bush’s recession seven years ago. Instead, the homeless are often that way because it’s a choice (emphasis mine):

Richard Davis, who grew up in Marin County, has been homeless on an on-again, off-again basis for about 10 years. He said the group that gathers there doesn’t cause trouble.

“There are people that bring their kids here. We put out our cigarettes and put our drinks away while they are here. Nobody bothers them,” Davis said.

Bill Lima, who has been homeless for about 20 years, agreed. He said most of the people who hang out at the park are law-abiding, peaceful citizens.

“When one person messes up, the (police) blame it on everyone,” Lima said.

Marquita Robinson, who has been homeless for about 10 years, said they are often harassed by the police when one person causes a problem.

“They wait for a catastrophe to happen,” Robinson said. “Then they only go after the people they recognize.”

I’ve mentioned before that I have a friend who counts homeless people amongst her friends. These homeless people are all damaged in some way or another, but they’re functional. For them, homelessness, which often comes with significant welfare payments, is their preferred way to live. They’re antisocial, mildly paranoid, mentally disorganized, and chronically high (usually on pot). Homelessness suits these deficits perfectly.  In other words, they’re not really homeless.  Instead, urban and suburban open spaces are their homes.

Thank the media for the so-called sexual assault epidemic on America’s campuses

Christina Hoff Sommers points to a 2010 NPR radio project, in concert with a left-leaning journalism organization, for starting the “campus rape” meme.  That lie is bad enough.  (And yes, it’s a lie, because real rapes on college campuses happen at a rate lower than that amongst the general public, and definitely not as high as the rate rape in the slums of South Africa.)

Worse than the lie itself, though, is the downstream effect of that lie.  Sommers argues compelling that it made the entire rape situation on America’s campuses worse, not better:

More recent BJS [Bureau of Justice Statistics] data suggest the figure to be 1 in 53—far too many, but a long way from one in five. And, according to the BJS, 80 percent of these victims never report the crime.

That is a genuine problem we need to address. Instead, NPR and CPI diverted attention to a phantom rape epidemic encompassing 20 percent of female college students.

Where did we go wrong?

Neo-Neocon has an interesting rumination about how horribly wrong we sometimes are when society reaches a crisis or turning point.

Marines — small but mighty

I’ve noticed that Marines, although the toughest of the tough, seem to run on the small side.  Being on the small side myself, I think this is an excellent quality:  small but powerful.

America’s Sergeant Major writes about one of those times when the small, but mighty, Marines came into contact with some large and mouthy football players.  Let’s just say that I don’t approve of the way in which the Marine ultimately ended the fight, but I’m still not entirely unsympathetic either.  You do what you have to do when you’re at a size disadvantage.  And of course, it makes for an excellent story.