The Bookworm Beat 4-6-15 — the nighttime edition and open thread

Woman writingMy work is done and there’s still twenty minutes to go before the family yields the TV to me. That can mean only one thing: a quick round-up. Yay!

Can the MSM stifle Ted Cruz?

One of the most frustrating things about being a conservative is that conservative politicians tend to be inarticulate. Part of this is because conservative ideas don’t yield easily to the hysterical bumper sticker politics that the Left favors. Part of it is that the media twists the message. And part of it is that the conservatives who get into politics seem to be tongue-tied.

I mention this because of a post Rod Dreher wrote after talking about RFRA to a deeply-closeted conservative law professor. It was the professor who made the point about the absence of a standard-bearer for conservative ideology:

On the conservative side, said Kingsfield [not the professor’s real name], Republican politicians are abysmal at making a public case for why religious liberty is fundamental to American life.

“The fact that Mike Pence can’t articulate it, and Asa Hutchinson doesn’t care and can’t articulate it, is shocking,” Kingsfield said. “Huckabee gets it and Santorum gets it, but they’re marginal figures. Why can’t Republicans articulate this? We don’t have anybody who gets it and who can unite us. Barring that, the craven business community will drag the Republican Party along wherever the culture is leading, and lawyers, academics, and media will cheer because they can’t imagine that they might be wrong about any of it.”

The one person who is emerging as an incredibly articulate spokesman for conservative thinking is Ted Cruz. He’s unafraid and, rather unusually for a man as academically brilliant as he is, capable of being pithy. Cruz can bring in the money quotation:

Ted Cruz nation of laws just have to confirm with Obama what they are

Jazz Shaw thinks that Cruz might be the conservative candidate who can finally destroy the media, instead of being destroyed by the media:

In the beginning of Cruz’s journey onto the national stage, I fully confess that I fell rather easily into the narrative which the Texas Democrats had been pushing out to the national press. All I really knew was that he was engaged in a contentious primary against an establishment figure in the Lone Star State and he was the Tea Party favorite. No matter who won that race, they would be the next senator so it really didn’t grab my attention. But the storyline being pitched was a common one: Ted Cruz was one of those crazy guys.


Unfortunately for the cable news talking heads, it never happened. Cruz staked out a number of domestic and foreign policy issues and began beating the drum with his own proposals for how to meet those challenges. The media seemed to shoot themselves in the foot by tripping over each other to give the Senator air time, waiting for the expected crazy to emerge.


Slowly but surely, Cruz began winning over some of the more open minded and scaring those who would like to see him fail.


What can one do about Ted Cruz if he stubbornly refuses to implode? Stay tuned. I’m starting to think that this race is going to be a lot more interesting than I originally suspected.

We know that media activists will work hard to make Cruz appear alternately foolish and evil (as the media very successfully did with Sarah Palin), and, if they fail in that effort, they will simply deny him air time.  Cruz is going to need his brilliance, an undaunted spirit, a stable temperament, and a lot of charm to overcome the obstacles that the media will place between him and the American people.  Here’s hoping that Cruz can stay the course.

As an aside, I think it would be wise for Cruz to recognize that Christians are not the only conservatives looking for someone like him.  I know he’s trying to nail the Evangelicals in as the first plank in his platform, but I do believe he has to be careful that he doesn’t end up speaking only to them.

Fox Butterfield plays out in real time

Isn’t it just, like, you know, incredibly weird . . . you know, like just too weird that, if you let people out of prison, like, they don’t just stay quietly on welfare, you know.  Instead, like, they go out and, you know, commit crime!!

Progressives seem to have a conceptual problem with cause and effect.  On the one hand they believe that puny humans can have an overwhelming and negative effect on the earth’s and sun’s timeless climate dance.  On the other hand, they cannot seem to grasp that, if you release criminals onto the streets, those criminals cause crime.

Should beleaguered Californian’s have to pay for a prisoner’s sex change operation?

A federal judge has ordered California taxpayers to pony up as much as $100,000 so a murderer can get a sex change male-to-female operation.  Apparently the guy is suffering being a male.  I’m of more than two minds about this.

First, I don’t think that, unless it being done to provide emergency surgery or chemo or something, California taxpayers should have to pay $100,000 for any medical treatment.  Being unhappy is not the same as dying of a disease or injury.  We wouldn’t have to pay for his surgery if he wasn’t in prison, so why should he get a freebie because he killed someone?

Second, I believe that there’s probably a rape issue here.  We know that rape, while not a crisis on campus, is a crisis in prison.  I assume that individuals who identify as transgender are more likely to suffer from rapes.  Wouldn’t it be cheaper to assign them to a single prison, and maybe a single ward in a prison, where they would be protected from predators, rather than to spend $100,000 in taxpayer money?

Third, are taxpayers really obligated to assure that everyone achieves maximum happiness?  This is separate from the guy being a murderer.  It’s pretty clear that, were he not in prison, he’d be leading a marginal and unhappy life anyway.  I’m sorry about that.  But I really don’t believe anyone owes him something.

I’m open to arguments justifying the judge’s decision.  As it stands, though, I just can’t work my way around to feeling enough sympathy for the guy to think that I should pay to alleviate his gender dysmorphia.

Obama and history

Obama, like many Progressives, claims to have a crystal ball and be certain that history will vindicate him.  Is this certainty justified?  Jonathan Tobin hopes so, because if Obama is wrong, the consequences are disastrous.

Yuval Levin on the Leftist push to erase any religion but its own

Yuval Levin looks at the two sides of the First Amendment:  the one that bars the government from establishing a religion, and the one that insists that it stay out of individuals’ religious lives.  The Left seems intend upon ignoring both proscriptions.

With the RFRA attack, the Left is scaring itself again

Conservatives have noticed that some of the . . . ummm, how do I say this? . . . more stable people on the Left are become frightened by the excesses of the political and ideological class they’ve nurtured.  Another example of this mini-trend is Conor Friedersdorf, who is somewhat horrified by the Left’s effort to destroy every Mom-and-Pop business for daring to hold beliefs with which the Left disagrees:

The owners of Memories Pizza are, I think, mistaken in what their Christian faith demands of them. And I believe their position on gay marriage to be wrongheaded. But I also believe that the position I’ll gladly serve any gay customers but I feel my faith compels me to refrain from catering a gay wedding is less hateful or intolerant than let’s go burn that family’s business to the ground.

And I believe that the subset of the gay-rights movement intent on destroying their business and livelihood has done more harm than good here—that they’ve shifted their focus from championing historic advances for justice to perpetrating small injustices against marginal folks on the other side of the culture war. “The pizzeria discriminated against nobody,” Welch wrote, “merely said that it would choose not to serve a gay wedding if asked. Which it never, ever would be, because who asks a small-town pizzeria to cater a heterosexual wedding, let alone a gay one?” They were punished for “expressing a disfavored opinion to a reporter.”

To what end?

Some on the Left, having sowed the wind, are now frightened of the whirlwind.  The question for those of us watching the damage wrought by this fierce storm is whether its creators can stop their creation.

And really, the whirlwind is damn scary.  Many on the Left, including a formerly sane friend of mine who went off the deep end intellectually when he came out of the closet (meaning that I have no problem with his being gay, but a big problem with his being a raving paranoid political professional gay), are insisting that the pizza parlor owner planned the entire thing to get rich.  I don’t recall if I quoted to you Allahpundit’s brilliant rebuttal.  It’s so good, though, it’s worth reading twice:

It adds up. ABC57 reporter Alyssa Marino walks through the door of the pizzeria during a Category Five news-storm over RFRA and asks, “Anyone here got a problem with catering gay weddings?” The pizzeria employees slink away, knowing what a “yes” would mean for their careers. But not Memories CEO Crystal O’Connor. As usual, she’s one step ahead of the game. Instantly she recognizes that if she says yes to Marino, the left will go apesh*t, flooding her business with crank calls, death threats, and nasty online reviews. The business will close temporarily. And then enraged conservatives will rally to her side, showering her with solidarity cash beyond her wildest small-town dreams. The GoFundMe take as I write this: $528,000 and counting. It’s a scam, engineered by an unassuming but quietly brilliant pizza-shop owner whose ability to anticipate partisan strikes and counterstrikes really should have her in charge of a Fortune 500 PR company. Coming soon: The Barbara Walters interview and then a bestselling book. She’ll retire by 40. Watch the clip below and you’ll see what I mean. No one as slick and comfortable on camera as O’Connor is could have possibly stumbled innocently into this culture-war clusterfark. She’s the “Gone Girl” of religious liberty.

Or, alternate theory: The more excitable members of the left’s gay-marriage mob can’t cope with how this Two Minutes Hate for O’Connor and her business played out. So, as conspiracy theorists are wont to do, they’re reaching for an explanation that makes them feel better about it. What I can’t figure out is whether it’s malice or actually some vestigial pangs of remorse about the mob atmosphere that are driving the conspiracy. Maybe they’re angry that the family hasn’t been utterly ruined for their thoughtcrime — or maybe on some level they think, but can’t bring themselves to admit, that people shouldn’t be ruined for politely dissenting from the new norm on gay marriage. If O’Connor is some grifter mastermind who engineered this debacle for the money then there’s really no need to feel bad about the abuse she’s taken. She wanted it. She’s making bank off it. The left did her a big favor. In fact, I ran across three examples on Twitter in the past 24 hours of liberals insisting that some or all of the abuse O’Connor and her business have taken is actually the handiwork of homophobic right-wingmobys eager to drum up sympathy for her. The Truther theory is of a piece with that. At some point today, rest assured, O’Connor herself will be accused of trolling her own Yelp page.

Religious freedom in America

I never got the chance to submit anything to the most recent Watcher’s Council forum regarding religious freedom in America.   I wish I had contributed, though, because I would be in very rarefied company.  Be sure to check it out (or you can read Wolf Howling’s submission at his own site, here).  Indeed, as a kindness to such high quality writing, I suggest you click on both links to increase the traffic at both sites.