The Bookworm Beat 5-5-15 — the Cinco de Mayo edition and open thread

Woman writingOnce again, my post caption is misleading. This post has nothing to do with Cinco de Mayo. It just has to do with all the fascinating stories I’ve read in the last few days. These are in no particular order, so you’ll have to read all the way down to make sure you’ve gotten to all the good stuff.

The Leftist media lies and then lies some more

Often, what’s even more insidious than a flat-out lie is a statement that is a partial truth. It’s so much easier to deconstruct a total lie than to try to explain to someone where truth ends and deceit begins.

This week offered two posts that highlight the problem for those people unfortunate enough to get caught in the Leftist web of lies. The first is Sean Davis’s meticulous deconstruction of a “fact” checker’s desperate effort to cover for the Clintons after Davis, relying on tax returns, made the completely factual statement that

Between 2009 and 2012, the Clinton Foundation raised over $500 million dollars according to a review of IRS documents by The Federalist (2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008). A measly 15 percent of that, or $75 million, went towards programmatic grants.

Those numbers, drawn from the Clinton Foundation’s own returns, are absolutely correct. For Progressive PunditFact “fact checker” Louis Jacobson, the ultimate conclusion (i.e., that the Clintons are scam artists) was unbearable, so he retreated to the Lefts’ favorite redoubt when in danger: “truthiness” or that other stand-by “fake but accurate,” with its necessary corollary “accurate but false.”

In an unsolicited April 28 e-mail to me, PunditFact author Louis Jacobson told me unequivocally that the demonstrably factual claim he was examining was “clearly accurate” and “technically true.” But today, Jacobson declares, that fact is suddenly “Mostly False.”

Davis woodsheds Jacobson so thoroughly that, if Jacobson hadn’t proven himself to be an amoral political hack, I might have felt sorry for him. As it is, he had it coming:

The problem here is not one of facts or accuracy, but ideology. Jacobson simply doesn’t like the implications of the fact that the Clinton Foundation spent less than 10 percent of its budgets on charitable grants in 2013. He doesn’t like the fact that the two single largest “charitable” initiatives of the Clinton Foundation — by its own admission — are the Clinton Presidential Library, which exists solely to put a positive spin on the 42nd president’s term in office, and the Clinton Global Initiative, which the New York Times characterized as a “glitzy annual gathering of chief executives, heads of state, and celebrities.” If hanging out with celebrities at glitzy dinners is the height of charity, then it’s time to beatify the Kardashian sisters.

Meanwhile, last week the New York Times was caught in its own “accurate but false” moment, about its particular bete noir, Israel:

Last November, when two Palestinians killed two Israelis in stabbing attacks, The New York Times took a clear, precise headline about the Palestinian violence (“Palestinian Stabs Israeli Soldier at Tel Aviv Train Station”) and carefully edited it so as to blur Palestinian culpability (“Palestinians are suspected as 2 Israelis Die in Knife Attacks”).

This weekend, two more Palestinians attacked Israeli police with knives, and once again The Times opts for a headline which whitewashes Palestinian responsibility for violence. The Times headline is “Israeli Officers Kill 2 Palestinian Men.”

Read the whole thing here and then you will understand why I consider the bottom of a bird cage too good for the New York Times.

Deconstructing the 21st century scourge of Social Justice Warriors

A lot of the worst insanity one sees emanating from the Left — BDS, trigger warnings, “all cops are racists” — comes from self-styled “Social Justice Warriors.” They’ve insinuated themselves in America’s campuses, her media, her computer gaming sites, and all sorts of places from which they can find a platform to . . . whine, really loudly. Thankfully, they now have a problem, which is that ordinary people are discovering how profoundly distasteful they are. Daniel Greenfield provides a helpful guide to these screeching harridans of the Left:

The Social Justice Warrior whines incessantly. The Social Justice Warrior is always a victim. Victimhood is the source of his power. Lions stalk prey across the savanna, sharks flit soundlessly through the ocean and the Social Justice Warrior lies in wait, waiting to be offended, so he/she/ze/it can instantly pounce.

And by pounce, I mean start a hashtag.

Social Justice Warriors manufacture an offense, throw a tantrum and then use the backlash to play the victim. Think of the kid who pushed you on the playground and then when you punched him in the face, ran off to tell.

That’s the entire Social Justice Warrior playbook.

That’s why that kid today is an associate professor of gender studies with a fellowship in screaming at people on Tumblr. He regularly appears on MSNBC urging everyone to stop reading books by white authors, diversify field hockey body types and bring genderfluid bathrooms to heavy metal concerts.

He’s not insane. Or he’s not just insane. He’s also a Social Justice Warrior.

It seems appropriate here to include a link about women lying (again) about rape. Yes, men rape, but it’s also true that women, especially in today’s world, where they’ve discovered the power of victimhood, are lying with seemingly increasing frequency about having been raped.

If Israel can successfully navigate the next couple of years, she’ll be on top of the world

There’s no doubt that, with Obama and Iran both gunning for Israel, Israel is navigating dangerous straits in 2015 and, almost certainly, she’ll have to do the same in 2016. The good news is that, assuming that the next president is a Republican (and I am assuming that to be the case), Israel has a rosy future ahead of her. Yoram Ettinger explains.

The Queen of Denmark speaks intelligently on Israel and Islam

Denmark is rightly remembered for standing up to the Nazis when the Nazis tried to deport the Jewish population (hyperlinks omitted):

The rescue of the Danish Jews occurred during Nazi Germany’s occupation of Denmark during World War II. On October 1, 1943, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler ordered Danish Jews to be arrested and deported. Despite great personal risk, the Danish resistance movement, with the assistance of many ordinary Danish citizens, managed to evacuate 7,220 of Denmark’s 7,800 Jews, plus 686 non-Jewish spouses, by sea to nearby neutral Sweden.

The rescue allowed the vast majority of Denmark’s Jewish population to avoid capture by the Nazis and is considered to be one of the largest actions of collective resistance to aggression in the countries occupied by Nazi Germany. As a result of the rescue, and the following Danish intercession on behalf of the 464 Danish Jews who were captured and deported to Theresienstadt transit camp in Bohemia, over 99% of Denmark’s Jewish population survived the Holocaust.

Danish Queen Margrethe the 2nd hasn’t forgotten that time: she recognizes new threats to the Jews and feels that moral people have a continuing obligation to save them when antisemitism morphs from a tolerable (although vile) inconvenience in a murderous purge. Back in 2005, she was already saying that moral nations must stand up against Islam’s worst depredations:

“But it [Islam] is a challenge we have to take seriously. We simply let it flutter in too long because we are tolerant, and it’s not so nice. … We should oppose it, and one must sometimes take the risk of being called less flattering things, since there are certain things one should not tolerate. … It is vital that we give Islam a opposition. The lax response that has prevailed for many years in Denmark is not enough.”

More recently, she spoke about the Islamic failure to assimilate in Denmark, as well as the dangerous antisemitism on the rise as a result of that failure:

The Queen has also observed how individual groups of foreign background turn their back to the Danish society. … “We will make room for them, but they have come to our community, and therefore they can not expect their old model of society to be implemented in our country. They can go to the mosques when they want – why not – but when they start to do things that are inconsistent with the general pattern of Danish society, they must realize that it does not work,” said the Queen.

The terrorist attack (February 14-15 2015 against a free speech even an a Jewish school) has helped to expose the existence of a fierce anger against Israel and Jews among groups of refugees and immigrants in Denmark. For the Queen, it has been painful to follow the harassment and persecution of the Danish Jews, and she is shocked that Jews again – in a completely unacceptable way – are threatened.

“That the Jews are so disliked, feel pressured and feel threatened, is shocking – because they are threatened. They take it with great dignity, as they have always done, but it is shocking to witness.”

Three cheers for the Queen!

Why Muslims can’t take a religious joke

Jews and Christians have scads of jokes about Moses, God, and Jesus, and they’ve done so for a long time. In Islam, though, while Muslims may be able to laugh at themselves, Muhammed is no laughing matter. Any type of remark about him, unless it’s slaveringly positive, is deemed a deathly insult that most be avenged.

David Goldman explains why Islam is so humorless. I’ll add to his scholarly exegesis by saying that Islam is also a religion with incredibly low self-esteem because, at some level, it recognizes itself as the bastard child of Judaism and Christian. When you’re low man on the totem pole in your own eyes you can’t afford to (or bear to) have anyone laugh at you.

Also, both Pamela Geller and Rich Lowry explain why it is so desperately important that we do not let Muslims impose their dour standard on us. (The MSM, of course, is clueless about this important issue and is going into full blame the victim mode. Imagine, if you will, the problem the MSM talking heads would have had if the jihadists had engaged in mass rape, instead of gunfire in Garland, Texas.)

Why all FBI agents have to go the Holocaust Museum

FBI Director James Comey requires all new agents to go to the Holocaust Museum. His reasoning is very important, and something that all in thrall to any demagogue would do well to think about. In addition to wanting his agents to be aware that evil exists, he has a secondary, and arguably more important goal.  Thus, he doesn’t just fear evil people doing evil things; he fears even more good people doing evil things:

Naturally, I want them to learn about abuse of authority on a breathtaking scale. But I want them to confront something more painful and more dangerous: I want them to see humanity and what we are capable of.

I want them to see that, although this slaughter was led by sick and evil people, those sick and evil leaders were joined by, and followed by, people who loved their families, took soup to a sick neighbor, went to church and gave to charity.

Good people helped murder millions. And that’s the most frightening lesson of all — that our very humanity made us capable of, even susceptible to, surrendering our individual moral authority to the group, where it can be hijacked by evil. Of being so cowed by those in power. Of convincing ourselves of nearly anything.

In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do. That’s what people do. And that should truly frighten us.

Obama’s own attorney admits that silencing dissent lies behind the gay marriage agenda

I’ve said for years that the push for gay marriage has little to do with marriage and a whole lot to do with shutting down churches. I predicted in 2008, in connection with California’s Proposition 8 that, once an imaginary constitutional right to gay marriage emerges out of this Leftist effort, that imaginary right will be used to silence churches.  Their explicit First Amendment right will not be allowed to trump a newly created civil right.

In keeping with that argument, I’ve got two articles you’ll find interesting.

First, during oral argument before the Supreme Court about gay marriage, Obama’s Solicitor General Donald Verrilli admitted that silencing dissent (which includes silencing traditional religion) is the Left’s long-term goal:

Looking ahead to a possible constitutional right to same-sex “marriage,” Justice Samuel Alito asked a key question: “In the Bob Jones case, the Court held that a college was not entitled to tax-exempt status if it opposed interracial marriage or interracial dating. So would the same apply to a university or a college if it opposed same-sex marriage?” With chilling honesty, Verrilli admitted, “It’s certainly going to be an issue. I don’t deny that. I don’t deny that, Justice Alito. It is — it is going to be an issue.”

Translation: If churches, religious groups, schools, or nonprofits won’t surrender their beliefs on marriage, the government will make it hurt.

Second, the Left’s weapon of choice if the Supreme Court finds a right to gay marriage in the Constitution will be the IRS. Under Obama, the government union thugs in the IRS are already training their guns on traditional religious institutions.

(I hasten to add that not all IRS employees are “government union thugs.” I know two wonderful former IRS employees who are stalwart conservatives, and we should be grateful that they worked at the IRS and almost certainly helped protect citizens, rather than using government power to destroy them. The problem isn’t all IRS employees — it’s the bad apples who happen to be power-abusing government union thugs.)

The takeaway about minimum wage laws in San Francisco is that Leftists are really stupid

Ian Tuttle has a great article about a famed San Francisco comic book store that is struggling to stay afloat after San Francisco voters generously passed a new minimum wage law.  The lede paragraphs pretty much sum it up:

‘I’m hearing from a lot of customers, ‘I voted for that, and I didn’t realize it would affect you.’”

So says Brian Hibbs, owner and operator of Comix Experience, an iconic comic-book and graphic-novel shop on San Francisco’s Divisadero Street, of the city’s new minimum-wage law.

Calm down, Chicken Little. The sky is not melting.

I got plenty of silence from my panicked Progressive friends, all of whom are convinced that the earth is going to be nothing more than steaming swamps and burning deserts, when I posted this press release from the Scripps Institution, at the University of California, San Diego, about a government-funded study showing that the Arctic can replenish itself:

Wagner and Eisenman’s research was co-funded by the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and by the National Science Foundation. It supports the goals of the Navy’s U.S. Arctic Roadmap, which calls for an assessment of changes in the Arctic Ocean to clarify the national security challenges for future naval operations as this strategic region becomes increasingly accessible.

“The Navy has broad interest in the evolution of the Arctic,” said the ONR’s Frank Herr. “Sea ice dynamics are a critical component of the changing environmental picture. Our physical models lack important details on the processes controlling ice formation and melting, thus ONR is conducting a series of experimental efforts on sea ice, open water processes, acoustics, and circulation.”

During the past several years, scientists using global climate models (GCMs) that are more complex than process models found sea ice loss in response to rising greenhouse gases in their computer simulations is actually reversible when greenhouse levels are reduced.

“It wasn’t clear whether the simpler process models were missing an essential element, or whether GCMs were getting something wrong,” said Wagner, the lead author of the study. “And as a result, it wasn’t clear whether or not a tipping point was a real threat.”

Wagner and Eisenman resolve this discrepancy in the study in an upcoming Journal of Climate article,  “How Climate Model Complexity Influences Sea Ice Stability.”

They created a model that bridged the gap between the process models and the GCMs, and they used it to determine what caused sea ice tipping points to occur in some models but not in others.

“We found that two key physical processes, which were often overlooked in previous process models, were actually essential for accurately describing whether sea ice loss is reversible,” said Eisenman, a professor of climate dynamics at Scripps Oceanography. “One relates to how heat moves from the tropics to the poles and the other is associated with the seasonal cycle. None of the relevant previous process modeling studies had included both of these factors, which led them to spuriously identify a tipping point that did not correspond to the real world.”

“Our results show that the basis for a sea ice tipping point doesn’t hold up when these additional processes are considered,” said Wagner. “In other words, no tipping point is likely to devour what’s left of the Arctic summer sea ice. So if global warming does soon melt all the Arctic sea ice, at least we can expect to get it back if we somehow manage to cool the planet back down again.”

I know all of us are thinking “I told you so.”  Meanwhile, my Progressive friends are thinking, “If I cover my ears, close my eyes, and say really loudly ‘la-la-la,’ I can just ignore this challenge to my Gaia-based faith.”

Is it real or is it The Onion?

The Onion has one of its most brilliant parodies yet:

College Encourages Lively Exchange Of Idea [sic]

BOSTON—Saying that such a dialogue was essential to the college’s academic mission, Trescott University president Kevin Abrams confirmed Monday that the school encourages a lively exchange of one idea. “As an institution of higher learning, we recognize that it’s inevitable that certain contentious topics will come up from time to time, and when they do, we want to create an atmosphere where both students and faculty feel comfortable voicing a single homogeneous opinion,” said Abrams, adding that no matter the subject, anyone on campus is always welcome to add their support to the accepted consensus.

Read the rest here.

Obama’s economic recovery versus Reagan’s

One of the things my Progressive friends love is any poster purporting to show that Obama’s economic recovery beats Reagan’s. I can always catch the obviously problems, such as a falsely inflated stock market, thanks to crony capitalism, that is unrelated to that actual economy; or the employment numbers that ignore the millions who have permanently opted out of the labor market. For a deeper look at the myriad problems with Progressive boasts about Obama’s economy, check out Stephen Moore’s article.

There’s a lynching taking place in Baltimore

We may never know what happened to Freddie Gray, leaving him with the broken spine that killed him. Bad bones from a singularly bad childhood? Bad driving? Self-inflicted wounds? Sadistic or careless police officers? At this point, without more available evidence, it’s anybody’s guess. The one thing we can say with some certainty, though, is that government prosecutor Marilyn Mosby overcharged the six defendants, some of whom could not possibly have been responsible for second degree murder under any scenario.

Jack Cashill explains the modern trend to convict officers in advance of evidence, adding fuel to riot fires. I found these paragraphs the most disturbing in his article, because they speak to the total inversion of our criminal justice system:

In the South Carolina shooting of Walter Scott by Officer Michael Slager, the grievance industry had a better case, but state authorities short-circuited the rage manufacturing machinery by overcharging Slager with second-degree murder.

An instructive moment occurred days later when conservative black activist Jesse Lee Peterson appeared on the Sean Hannity show with black civil rights attorney Leo Terrell. To Peterson’s contention that “in America you are innocent until proven guilty,” Terrell responded, “You are an embarrassment to the world right now!” When Peterson added, “All that I’m saying is that we should wait for due process,” the “civil rights” attorney stormed off the set.

Terrell’s outburst spoke to the ultimate linguistic twist of postmodern justice: the postmodern “civil rights” movement has fully rejected the civil rights that the real civil rights movement fought for, among those rights equality before the law, due process, and the notion that the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

For Progressives, having Emmett Till-style justice is fine as long as the defendants are white, and damn fine if they’re cops (white or minority).

And speaking of which, this story about a Republican Party employee who was falsely accused of inappropriate dealings with a high school girl, is one of the most terrifying things I can remember reading about our American “justice” system. The girl lied; the prosecutors and police knew she lied; and they still went after Scott Hounsell with the full weight of the law, relying on charges that demolished his reputation.

Hounsell has sued, and the prosecutor’s office has, so far, successfully rebutted the suit on the grounds of prosecutorial immunity. That argument had better not stand:

On April 9, 2015, Judge Margaret Morrow dismissed his claim based on prosecutors’ arguments that they enjoy absolute immunity, but provided Hounsell with a leave to amend so that he can challenge whether immunity applies in this case.

“[T]he LACA enjoys absolute immunity for deciding to file charges against Hounsell, whether or not it adequately investigated the facts of the case, adequately determined the statutes under which it should file charges, or adequately reviewed and/or disclosed allegedly exculpatory evidence,” Morrow wrote in her dismissal.

If that’s the case, Hounsell told the Examiner, then “The most powerful job in this country then is prosecutor, because the Constitution doesn’t apply to you.”

Hounsell’s next filing, a draft of which was provided to the Examiner, will argue that prosecutorial immunity doesn’t apply here because prosecutors used fraud to access that immunity, and that immunity does not apply to administrative acts by Feuer’s office, such as the pre-trial diversion deal he was offered.

Hounsell and his attorney say that if the judge rules in the city’s favor, it “will set a dangerous federal precedent that prosecutors can use their office for reasons to exact revenge and punishment upon political enemies.” The city attorney, after all, knew for months that there were no Facebook messages, yet dragged out the case anyway.