The Bookworm Beat 5-22-15 — the “no more doctors, please!” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265My post title notwithstanding, I am well, I have been well, and I expect that I will continue to be well. It’s just that I’ve spent between five and fifteen hours every week for the last few weeks in doctors’ offices thanks to my mother and my kids, all of whom are well, but who needed a variety of maintenance appointments. I’m all doctored out. Politics, however, still interest me:

Obama’s ego is all that stands between Israel and destruction

Obama sat down for an interview with his go-to Jew, Jeffrey Goldberg. Goldberg worships at the Obama altar, but periodically manages to sound as if he cares about the welfare of Israel and the Jewish people. I used to be fooled. I’m not anymore.

In any event, James Taranto caught Obama in a fascinating narcissistic moment in that interview. First, here’s what Goldberg wrote:\

On Tuesday afternoon, as President Obama was bringing an occasionally contentious but often illuminating hour-long conversation about the Middle East to an end, I brought up a persistent worry. “A majority of American Jews want to support the Iran deal,” I said, “but a lot of people are anxiety-ridden about this, as am I.” Like many Jews—and also, by the way, many non-Jews—I believe that it is prudent to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of anti-Semitic regimes. Obama, who earlier in the discussion had explicitly labeled the supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, an anti-Semite, responded with an argument I had not heard him make before.

“Look, 20 years from now, I’m still going to be around, God willing. If Iran has a nuclear weapon, it’s my name on this,” he said, referring to the apparently almost-finished nuclear agreement between Iran and a group of world powers led by the United States. “I think it’s fair to say that in addition to our profound national-security interests, I have a personal interest in locking this down.”

And here’s what Taranto figured out about Obama’s statement in the second quoted paragraph:

Obama’s argument here rests not on his ideology—he doesn’t mean to appeal only to liberals—or on his record. Rather, his claim is that he is trustworthy because as a future ex-president with a perhaps unusual preoccupation with his own legacy, he will spend his old age living with the consequences of his decisions—and thus he has an incentive to make wise ones.

Let me rephrase that: What Obama is saying as he blithely hands over to Iran the keys to the nuclear king is this — “If Iran nukes Israel, boy, am I going to be embarrassed!” That’s it. That’s his complete moral, intellectual, geopolitical foundation for claiming that the deal he’s making is a good one:  When he’s on the lecture circuit a few years from now, he doesn’t want to have to admit that he erred.

Do you remember how I said that, when you’re talking about a narcissist, the reality is that, no matter how many other people or issues are involved, when it comes right down to it, a narcissist is always a majority of one. I have to give myself a pat on the back for that one, because Obama, all unwitting, perfectly illustrated my point. As Obama himself admits, the Jewish nation’s future (not to mention the future of all the Sunnis in the Middle East who manage to survive ISIS) hinges on nothing more than one man’s ego.

As Elmer Fudd said, “Be afwaid. Be vewy afwaid.”

A matched set on Iraq

The first article in this matched set is from Victor Davis Hanson, and it argues, compellingly I think, that America’s decision to invade Iraq wasn’t a stupid idea at all, a conclusion that isn’t just because our intelligence (falsely, as it turned out) assured us that Saddam Hussein had WMDs.

The second article is from Charles Krauthammer and I’d put it high on the list of must reads. Krauthammer shatters the claim that Bush owns the debacle in Iraq and puts blame entirely where it’s due: on Obama, the commander in chief who threw away the complete victory that America had achieved in Iraq thanks to the amazing skill and sacrifice of our troops.

The fact is that by the end of Bush’s tenure the war had been won. You can argue that the price of that victory was too high. Fine. We can debate that until the end of time. But what is not debatable is that it was a victory. Bush bequeathed to Obama a success. By whose measure? By Obama’s. As he told the troops at Fort Bragg on Dec. 14, 2011, “We are leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people.” This was, said the president, a “moment of success.”

Which Obama proceeded to fully squander. With the 2012 election approaching, he chose to liquidate our military presence in Iraq. We didn’t just withdraw our forces. We abandoned, destroyed or turned over our equipment, stores, installations and bases. We surrendered our most valuable strategic assets, such as control of Iraqi airspace, soon to become theindispensable conduit for Iran to supply and sustain the Assad regime in Syria and cement its influence all the way to the Mediterranean. And, most relevant to the fall of Ramadi, we abandoned the vast intelligence network we had so painstakingly constructed in Anbar province, without which our current patchwork operations there are largely blind and correspondingly feeble.

The current collapse was not predetermined in 2003 but in 2011. Isn’t that what should be asked of Hillary Clinton? We know you think the invasion of 2003 was a mistake. But what about the abandonment of 2011? Was that not a mistake?

The psycho-sexual sadism of the Islamic State

I’ve mentioned here several times over the years the theory that one of the smartest men I know has about Islam’s quarrel with the West.  As far as he’s concerned, it boils down to control over women.  The Muslim faith is predicated upon control over women and Western culture challenges that control.

When one reads about the appalling acts of sadistic sexual cruelty that the ISIS fighters commit against the thousands of women they’ve captured or when one reads about the fact that the promise of this same sadistic sex slavery is one of their prime recruiting tactics, it seems very clear that my friend has the right of it.

By the way, I haven’t heard Hillary, that champion of women say anything about Islamic State sex slavery.  Also, if you can stomach a trip to the website for the National Organization for Women (I’ll leave you to find the link), you notice that this shrill feminist institution has nothing to say about ISIS’s anti-feminist depredations.

LGBT’s agenda is to destroy disfavored speech

Let me start by saying that I don’t care who sleeps with whom. I don’t care whether Leftist churches or synagogues or mosques want to marry same-sex, or multi-sex, couples or have rainbow-gendered ministers. I don’t care if states get out of the marriage business entirely and, instead, get into the civil union business.  Then, in keeping with their citizens’ desires (not a single judge’s mandate), those states can allow various configurations of humans to marry. (My bet is that those states that hew to the traditional “one man, one woman” marriage will have the most successful outcomes in terms of child welfare and, perhaps, economic success, but the whole point of 50 different states is to allow for 50 different laboratories of democracy.)

What I do care about very deeply is the Constitution, and what I cherish greatly are my rights under the Bill of Rights. These important rights include freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of association — and it is these three freedoms that the extremely powerful (for now) LGBTQ etc lobby is out to destroy, beginning with speech:

The American Unity Fund is a heavily funded new super-PAC looking to blanket the country with LGBT anti-discrimination laws. In effect, those laws aim to wipe out any alternative voice to the LGBT agenda. The effort is being spearheaded by billionaire hedge fund manager Paul Singer and another wealthy hedge fund manager, Tim Gill. Gill’s operations—the Gill Foundation and Gill Action—have been dedicated to “nonpartisan” gains for the LGBT lobby on the legislative and judicial fronts.

But with an expected federal win for gay marriage from the Supreme Court, the LGBT movement is poised to shift its focus to policing speech in the workplace, schools, businesses, and public squares across America.

Read the rest here.

Remembering the beginning of angry gay syndrome

The gay rights movement is said to have gotten its start during the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York, when the gays had it with the city’s anti-gay policies and with the police’s abusive tactics in shutting down gay clubs. That was a spontaneous uprising, not a political act. The political act came a decade later when Dan White, a former San Francisco supervisor, assassinated Mayor George Moscone, an Italian family man, and Supervisor Harvey Milk, the City’s first openly gay elected official (and, it should be noted, both a Republican and someone who came awfully close to being a pedophile).

I remember the assassination very well, since Moscone had a close relationship with my high school, and we often saw him at various school and civic events. Our school was one of the first places to learn about the assassination.  Moscone was a nice man. Harvey Milk was a grand stander who worked hard to politicize the Castro District community that had elected him. (The District was once a solid working class, old-style Democrat district.)

In the wake of the murders, it looked as if the case against White ought to be a slam dunk.  After all, White didn’t even denying killing the two men in cold blood. His counsel, however, came up with an ingenious defense to use in the late 1970s, when San Franciscans were opposed to and frightened of corporate food products:  they claimed that White was crazy because he ate Hostess Twinkies. The infamous “Twinkie” defense meant that White was convicted only of manslaughter, not murder.

Although the verdict showed disrespect to both Moscone and White, Moscone’s death was quickly forgotten as the City’s gays took to the streets. Kevin Mullen, a police officer, was there when the rioting started, and he’s written a fascinating analysis of that Night of Rage — one that went a long way to turning gays from hedonistic party animals into hard core political activists.

David Letterman — good riddance to bad rubbish

I’ve heard rumors that very, very early in his television career, David Letterman was actually funny.  I came late to the David Letterman parade, since I only started watching him when I met Mr. Bookworm, who was then a Letterman fan.

The only thing I liked about Letterman’s shows were Stupid Pet Tricks and Stupid Human Tricks.  His humor, which could be more accurately dubbed “I’m funny just by being hip, so I don’t need to bother making actual jokes,” didn’t strike me as funny at all.  I thought he was mean, and I hated the way his so-called interviews with guests involved him doing all the talking.  I actually wanted to hear what people other than Dave had to say.  And of course, as I found my rightful place on the conservative side of the political spectrum, I became disgusted by Letterman’s inane partisan pandering.

Needless to say, I was pleased to learn that Ace feels about Letterman as I do:

I’m not just not a fan of Letterman anymore; I actively dislike him. He used to seem amusingly cranky, but over the years, I saw this more as being truly sour, bitter, self-pitying, smug, and contemptuous.

I can’t tell you how much it put me off when he was still bitter about not getting the NBC gig, still doing not-funny “jokes” (which were not jokes, but real barbs) about it on his CBS show, two years after it all happened.

Dude, you’re getting paid $15 million a year. Get over it, or at least do what the rest of us do with Our Shit, which is hide it so that people don’t have to see us airing Our Shit all the time.

And then, of course, the cheating, the intern, the out of wedlock child, the weird marriage (which he all but openly confessed on camera he wasn’t that into, as if I, or anyone else, needed to know that), and more and more overt (and contemptuous) expressions of his bitter-hearted leftism.

Yeah! What Ace said.

No, Reagan really was a better president

Periodically, my Leftie Facebook friends post charts purporting to show that, when it comes to the economy, Obama has blown Reagan’s record out of the water. Investigation usually proves that these charts are based upon the stock market. It’s true that Obama is presiding over a rising stock market, but those of us paying attention have figured out that these numbers do not reflect a soaring economy. Instead, they reflect a toxic mixture of crony capitalism, stealth inflation, and fear of investing that same money in the actual economic infrastructure. The market has become severed from the economy.

The real economy — the money and jobs that ordinary people have or, scarily, don’t have — is much less rosy under Obama’s less than tender and definitely not loving care:

If anyone still doubts that Obama has given the U.S. economy a bad case of anemia, look no further than the nearby graph.

Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the staff of the Congressional Joint Economic Committee (JEC) compared the private sector job-creation records of Obama, President Reagan, and the average after every recession since 1960 that lasted more than one year. According to these hard numbers, Obama wheezes behind Reagan. Also, Obama is — literally — below average.

At the end of the latest recession, private-sector employment stood at 108.4 million Americans. In April 2015, 70 months after the end, in June 2009, of the recession that Obama inherited, private-sector employment was 119.5 million. Over the same period, an average recovery would have pushed that figure to 125.2 million. Meanwhile, a recovery at the pace set by Ronald Reagan would have seen private-sector employment zoom to 131.5 million.

Read more here.

Raising mentally resilient children

Maggie Gallagher caught an article about a rash of high school student suicides in Palo Alto, which is home to Stanford University and is where the truly rich from Silicon Valley raise their families.  Her comment is about the fact that the parents and school think that the antidote to the enormous pressure to succeed that parents place on these children is to let them have more fun.  Stressed?  Then party.  Gallagher believes that the problem needs to be addressed at a deeper level, which is to give the kids the right sense of values, one that goes to the quality of their lives, rather than the quality of their resumes.

I couldn’t agree more.  The pressure I’ve continuously placed upon my children is to be moral, kind, decent human beings.  Secondary to that is that they should use the brains God or nature gave them, because they are good brains and, if well-used, can prepare the kids for a life that avoids both poverty and boredom.

I don’t particularly care which college they go to or even whether they go straight from high school to college.  I know that both my college and law school experiences would have been infinitely better — and I would have used the time more wisely — if I’d had even the smallest inkling about how the world really works.

Indeed, I can’t think of anything that would do more to break the Left’s hold on academia than for parents to insist that, before their kids go off to college, the kids spend a few years working.  During that time, kids would learn about the value of money, the value of time, the value of effort, and about the real, usually pretty darn good, relationships between sexes and races across America.  Colleges, instead of being populated by malleable special snowflakes, would have strong, experienced people in the classrooms.  Imagine that!

Every school should have a Medal of Honor winner speak at graduation

I always find it sickening when I see expensive universities all over America cap off four years of Leftist indoctrination by inviting some brainless (or brain-Left) Hollywood star to speak at a graduation paid for by broke parents and even more broke taxpayers.  The University of New Hampshire, however, went a different way and invited Medal of Honor winner Ryan Pitts to speak at the graduation.  It’s entirely possible that the students learned more from his speech than most college students learn in four years in their schools’ liberal arts departments:

Wounded in the forehead, one arm and both legs, Sgt. Pitts defended that outpost with grenades and a machine gun until helicopter gunships could lay down supporting fire to clear the way for his rescue.

On first seeing the extent of his injuries, he told the 2,500 graduates and 20,000 guests on Saturday, “I thought I was out of the fight until I looked around and watched everyone else fighting with everything they had. My brothers were undeterred by the enemy fire raining down on us like the violent summer thunderstorms that come out of nowhere. . . . They would never let me down and I owed them the same. It was at this point that I crawled back to my fighting position and rejoined the fight.

“Standing wasn’t physically possible, but I was able to drag myself around and pull myself into a kneeling position when needed. I fought alongside my brothers like this for a while until our position sounded eerily quiet given the fight raging around us. I crawled around and it was at this point that I discovered that I was the only man left alive at the position.”

Twice, U.S. reinforcements ran from the village to Topside, but all were killed or wounded in the attempt. Sgt. Pitts kept lobbing grenades into a ravine 10 yards away, where the enemy fighters lay concealed—at some points, he said, he could hear them talking—and when the gunships arrived he radioed them to concentrate their fire onto the nearby ravine.

“You gotta be kidding,” a helicopter crewman replied, seeing how short the distance was between the American and his attackers. (The gunship video is on YouTube.) Despite the heroism involved that morning, the Army decided within days that Topside was no longer needed and the outpost was left to the enemy—a taste of what lay ahead for American policy in Afghanistan.


“Valor was everywhere that day,” he said Saturday, before drawing a moral for young people about to embark on their careers: “Courage is not the absence of fear; it is the ability to move forward in the face of it. There is beauty in this definition, because courage can exist in the decisions we make every day. Courage exists in the individual who accepts who they are and openly lives the life they want in the face of rejection. Courage exists in those who challenge their own perceptions in the face of accepting they are not infallible. Be courageous and appreciate courage in others who take action in the face of fear.”

He closed by saying: “The last thought I will leave you with is more a matter of character. Never forget those who helped you reach where you are.”

Please read the whole thing.  If it’s behind the pay wall, see if you can get to it by googling the article and getting in through that link.  You won’t regret the time spend listening to Sgt. Pitts speak about real community and real sacrifice, not the fake Progressive government “villages” funded by the IRS’s extraction techniques.

(It seems appropriate here to direct you to Mike McDaniel, a former U.S. Air Force security policeman, to learn about the ways in which political correctness and anti-gun pressure work to render our military helpless in the face of a threat that has crossed America’s borders and sits in the heartland.)

A walk back in time

Here’s a fairly long video, in beautiful high-definition color, of Berlin soon after it fell to the Allies. It’s quite impressive footage. I have to admit that I couldn’t bring myself to feel sorry for the Berliners trying to survive amidst the ruins — except for the young children who were innocent in all respects.

Even knowing that many of those adults probably weren’t pro-Nazi and were swept into the maelstrom with everyone else when the Nazis came to power, when I looked at them, with their intact clothes, their well-fleshed bodies, and their access to food, all I could think of were the images coming out of Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen, and the other camps. It’s been more than seventy years, and I wasn’t even part of the war, but I’m still vindictive.

What If Mad Max Were Jewish?

To my mind, the heyday of American Jewish humor was the period from the 1950s through the early 1980s. During those years, the humor left the Jewish neighborhoods and went nationwide.  By the beginning of the 1980s, although I didn’t notice it at the time, Jews were beginning to become the objects of renewed antisemitism which is paired (as is often the case), with a condescending form of self-loathing. Neal Pollack’s imaginative essay wondering how different things would have been if Mad Max were Jewish seems like a throwback to those glory years.

And finally, a book….