The Bookworm Beat 5-8-15 — the “packing it up” edition and open thread

Woman writingThis weekend there’s a wedding that I’m very happy I’ll be able to attend. There are only two downsides: (1) The dogs have to go to the kennel and (2) I have to pack. Both those things make me sad. The posts to which I link are an equally mixed bag: They’re all wonderfully written but, considering that we live in Obama’s America, they’re depressing too.

Mike Huckabee is a moron

I don’t like Mike Huckabee. He’s got charisma and is quick with the quip, but his “conservativism” stops with social issues. In all other ways, he seems to be just another garden-variety southern demagogue with a penchant for big government. A Power Line reader caught Huckabee in a big lie about Medicare and Social Security:

This is outright left-wing demagoguery, for old white people. It is completely and intentionally dishonest:

[S]enior citizens are one of the groups that Governor Mike Huckabee will be targeting in his newly launched presidential bid. That strategy helps to explain this passage from his announcement speech today:

Some propose that to save safety nets like Medicare and Social Security, we need to chop off the payouts for the people who have faithfully had their paychecks and pockets picked by the politicians promising that their money would be waiting for them when they were old and sick.

John Hinderaker adds, “Has anyone since Roosevelt tried to tell voters that under Social Security, ‘their money’ is ‘waiting for them’ in a government account? Or maybe a ‘trust fund.'” There’s more at the link.

To appreciate how much of the above is ill-informed demagoguery, check out a Harvard Gazette article that admits what conservatives have long known: Social Security is very sick and our politicians have been lying to us when they claim it’s merely under the weather a bit:

A new study has found that the financial health of Social Security, the program that millions of Americans have relied on for decades as a crucial part of their income, has been dramatically overstated.

The study compared all forecasts made by the Social Security Administration over the 80-year history of the program with its actual outcome, and found that its forecasts of the health of Social Security trust funds have become increasingly biased since 2000. Current forecasts are likely off by billions of dollars, and the program could be insolvent earlier than expected unless legislators act, the study found.

Other than a few unexpected Leftist defenders, the Left has declared war on Pamela Geller

Neo-Neocon brings her usual astute observations to the attacks on Pamela Geller for daring to exercise Free Speech in America. One of the things she notices is that we’re not seeing a clear line between Left and Right when it comes to defending or vilifying her. (My thinking is that the clear line is between cowardice and courage.)

And then there’s this, which I hadn’t even thought about:

Like the NY Times, [Steven] Lubet feels absolutely no obligation to illustrate what he’s talking about when he excoriates Geller in this way. Theonly specific offense of hers he even mentions is her opposition to the ground zero mosque—a position which, by the way, was sharedby the majority of Americans and New Yorkers (by enormous margins). If that’s her offense, then most of America are reactionary hatemongers, too. And Lubet doesn’t even offer another example of her awfulness; we’re supposed to just take his word for it.

I find this one of the most curious aspects of the entire episode, although very emblematic of the leftist mind as I’ve come to know it. It is open season on Geller, and no one seems to feel the need to prove that she deserves such contempt. Nor was Geller a household word until this incident, so it’s not as though all the readers are familiar with her work. And yet some of the same people doing this also manage to defend free speech with some vigor, while the majority of their fellows (and some on the right as well) do not.

Meanwhile Jonah Goldberg explains that the Left doesn’t generally have problems with criticizing religion. Intead, it has a very specific problem with criticizing Islam:

In 1986, the National Endowment of Arts paid about $20,000 for Andreas Serrano’s “Piss Christ.” Serrano peed in a glass, plunked a plastic icon of Jesus on the cross into it, and then snapped a picture. I will say the lighting was lovely. But, as strange as it seemed to the “arts community,” some people were offended.

In 1989, the Corcoran Gallery of Art agreed to host a Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit. Mapplethorpe’s work was edgy, particularly going by the attitudes at the time. There were the obligatory sexual bondage scenes, urine-drinking (artistic urine: is there anything it can’t do?), and, of course, his most famous work: a self-portrait showing a bullwhip going someplace the sun reportedly does not shine.


But whenever Congress attempted to curtail funding of offensive art, editorial pages, faculty lounges, and museum boards launched a nationwide elite freak-out. In 1989, when the Senate voted to restrict some funding for offensive art, Richard Koshalek, the director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, told the New York Times that he felt that the vote was “a form of psychological tyranny, trying to put the art world into a state of terror.” Painter Robert Motherwell exclaimed that “for Congress to act as censor is outrageous. The ultimate end is fascism.”


Which brings us to Pamela Geller. I’m consistent: I didn’t like “Piss Christ,” and I don’t like insulting drawings of Mohammed. If Geller wanted an NEA grant to dunk Mohammed in beautifully illuminated urine, I would disagree quite strongly. But that’s not what she’s doing. She’s contending that in America, people are allowed to say offensive things without risking execution. I am at a loss as to why anyone would disagree with that. But I am utterly baffled how people who think it’s censorship to withdraw funding for anti-Christian “hate speech” can argue that private individuals have no right to express anti-Muslim views.

Definitely read the whole thing.

The never-ending war against the Second Amendment:

I’ve mentioned before that Mike McDaniel is one of the best writers around when it comes to our Second Amendment rights. At his blog, he introduces his latest article on the subject:

We are engaged in a war against an enemy that is incapable of admitting defeat. It will never give up in its attempts to subjugate honest, law-abiding Americans. Though it take a thousand years, though they lose every battle, they will persist.

By “we,” I mean law-abiding American gun owners, people who own firearms and recognize the reasons the Second Amendment exists. Our enemies are the progressive movement, people for whom ideology is more important than fact, even than life itself. These are people who cannot recognize or admit that any facet of progressive philosophy is wrong or ineffective, and whose only solution when they are unquestionably wrong is more and more vehement progressivism and an ever-enlarging and more powerful federal government run by progressives.

To read his entire eminently readable article, go here, at The Truth About Guns. Just to whet your appetite for his writing, here’s a preview:

Since progressive policies are infallible and non-falsifiable—nothing, even their abject failure, can ever prove them wrong—progressives tend to take the long view, and will work for decades, even centuries, to achieve their goals. For this reason alone, the war over the Second Amendment will never end. Law-abiding gun owners sometimes think Supreme Court decisions like Heller and McDonald are the end of the issue, or that the current popularity and growing acceptance of gun ownership have decided it. Not so. These are mere battles temporarily won. No war is over until one’s enemy knows and acknowledges they have lost, and have neither the will nor the capacity to fight on. This, progressives—or statists, if you wish, cannot do.

Fortunately, progressivism often reminds us, in graphic fashion, why the Second Amendment exists, and why this is a war we dare not lose, no matter how long it rages. There are reasons many Americans, including people who would never before have considered gun ownership, are becoming gun owners in enormous numbers. Those same reasons have also sparked a new appreciation for the wisdom and necessity of the Second Amendment. The most recent, obvious examples are the governmental fecklessness, lawlessness, and rioting in Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD.

And if you want proof that Second Amendment supporters are correct and everyone else is wrong, Garland, Texas, is Exhibit A:

When hate-filled, militant Islamic extremists attacked a cartoon contest in the Dallas suburb of Garland, Texas Sunday, intent on killing, to punish those who had offended them, they failed in that mission. What they succeeded in doing instead is to prove (once again) that the best way by far to stop bad guys with guns is with good guys with guns. They also proved (once again) that rights, including the right to free speech, have no power unless they can be defended against all who would violate them.

Read the rest here.

A sad and funny Victorian book

Have you ever read George Grossmith’s 1892 tragicomic masterpiece Diary of a Nobody. It’s the diary of a man who admits that he is a “nobody,” but still feels he has something to say and that people ought to listen — except that, in entry after entry, the diary reveals that he is a nobody even amongst his closest associates. Each vignette is funny, but at the end, one feels rather sad.

I was thinking of the book the other day (I’ll tell you why in a second), and then saw Terry Teachout’s lovely review in the Wall Street Journal. Since there was no internet back in the early 1980s, when I read Diary of a Nobody, I had no idea that Grossmith’s claim to fame back in the day was as a patter singer for the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company’s Gilbert & Sullivan productions. He was the first Ko-Ko!

Anyway, I was thinking about this gem of a book because I was telling a friend that I loved Texas because I felt as if people really saw me there. San Franciscans and Berkeley-ans are not known for being nice. Growing up, I was just another small, four-eyed Bookworm. At Cal, people were so antisocial they’d go out of their way to pretend not to see you. (And no, I wasn’t that bad.) In England, I was quite popular, but I understood that this popularity came about because (a) my flatmate was one of the most beautiful girls at the university; and (b) I was an exotic American.

It was only in Texas, friendly, friendly Texas, that I felt people actually saw me — not the bookworm, not the whatever the heck they thought I was at Cal, and not the American flatmate of the beauty, but me. The short, hyper-verbal, occasionally funny, reasonably intelligent person that I am. I totally understood Charles Pooter’s urgent desire to be seen.

And to un-depress you…

beautifully decorated rocks.