The Bookworm Beat 7-25-15 — the Lazy, but interesting, edition

Woman-writing-300x265As you may have gathered from the number of things we did every day on our recent trip to Virginia and environs, ours was not a restful vacation. I capped off the fatigue with a cold and, since our return, have been having a very hard time motivating myself to do anything. My theme song for the week has been Irving Berlin’s Lazy, although I’d have to add fatigue and inertia to the laziness mix:

Still, despite my laziness, I have managed to peel myself off the couch and find my way to the computer occasionally, so I do have some posts to share with you:

Made You Laugh

Before I get to the depressing stuff — and, lately, all the news seems to be depressing — I wanted to tell you about a weekly column my long-time friend Gary Buslik is starting at The Blot. I first introduced you to Gary a few years ago when I reviewed his outrageously funny book Akhmed and the Atomic Matzo Balls: A Novel of International Intrigue, Pork-Crazed Termites, and Motherhood. I’ve since read, though shamefully neglected to review, his delightful travelogue, A Rotten Person Travels the Caribbean: A Grump in Paradise Discovers that Anyplace it’s Legal to Carry a Machete is Comedy Just Waiting to Happen. In both books, and in the various travel articles of his published in anthologies, Gary’s voice is true: erudite, wry, mordant, snarky, self-deprecating, Jewish, and very, very funny.

Since Gary just launched his weekly column, there’s only one week’s worth of writing, but I think you might enjoy it: The Great Jewish Dilemma.

Yes, Martin O’Malley’s link between ISIS and climate change is crazy

Democrat presidential hopeful Martin O’Malley came in for a good deal of derision for saying that ISIS’s rise can be tied to climate change. The obvious reason this is a laughable point is because the most direct tie to ISIS’s rise is, of course, Obama’s retreat, which created a giant ISIS-sized vacuum. My friend Wolf Howling sent me an email which I think nicely summarizes the Obama/ISIS link:

A fascinating article in the NY Review of Books states that it is the Iraqi organization originally founded by Zarqawi, the utterly sadistic terrorist we sent off the mortal coil in 2006. The movement obviously survived him, and this really throws into stark relief the wages of Obama and the Left cutting and running from Iraq in 2010. ISIS is like a bacteria that survives a stunted course of antibiotics. Had we stayed in Iraq, there is no possible way that ISIS could have had a rebirth.

The author of the article tries to make sense of the rise of ISIS. You can read his ruminations. My own theory is two-fold: One, ISIS is preaching the true Salafi / Wahhabi purist doctrine that makes of the world a thing of black and white, where all things that support Allah are pure, while everything that does not is evil and can be dealt with without regards. Thus it is a draw to young Arab men. If you want to see how, here is a fascinating article by Tawfiq Hamid, a doctor who became a terrorist, who discusses the lure of Salafism / Wahhabism and all its deadly toxins.

Two, the ISIS ideology is a draw because it is utterly without bounds in its sadism or cruelty. This also is a draw to a particular segment of Arab men. It is the Lord of the Flies. It is going into a scenario where you will have the power of life, death, and pain with virtually no restrictions.

The fact is that ISIS should not be around today. My word, but Obama has so totally f**ked us in the Middle East . . . . He makes Carter look like Nixon by comparison.

I only wish I’d written that, but at least I can share it with you. So yes, O’Malley is an ignorant moron.

Still, never let it be said that the Left doesn’t protect its own, so The Atlantic has tried to throw a life saver to O’Malley: Martin O’Malley’s Link Between Climate Change and ISIS Isn’t Crazy. The article’s premise is that there’s a connection between drought and unrest. To which I say, “Well, duh!”

Any student of history knows that in primitive societies (and Muslim Middle Eastern countries are extremely primitive when it comes to food production, due to natural limitations, societal factors, and the transfer of food crops to biofuels) anything that interferes even marginally with food production has devastating effects, with war one of the most common ones.

However, as my reference to “students of history” makes clear, droughts have always happened. O’Malley wouldn’t have been a moron if he’d said “the drought they’re experiencing in the region no doubt was a contributing factor to unrest in the Syria – Iraqi region.” But instead, he had to throw in “climate change” — and what makes that so laughable is that we’ve come to the point  which climate change is responsible for everything. I’m awaiting the day when we get an article saying that Caitlyn Jenner’s unfortunate transgender habit of dressing like a male chauvinists’ dream 1950s pin-up girl is also due to climate change.

Obama fails in the first duty of a president

Since time immemorial, it has been a leader’s responsibility, to the best of his ability, to protect his people from disease. Heck, our modern use of the word “quarantine” has its roots in 1600s Italy:

n. 1520s, “period of 40 days in which a widow has the right to remain in her dead husband’s house.” Earlier quarentyne (15c.), “desert in which Christ fasted for 40 days,” from Latin quadraginta “forty,” related to quattuor “four” (see four ).

Sense of “period a ship suspected of carrying disease is kept in isolation” is 1660s, from Italian quarantina giorni, literally “space of forty days,” from quaranta “forty,” from Latin quadraginta. So called from the Venetian custom of keeping ships from plague-stricken countries waiting off its port for 40 days (first enforced 1377) to assure that no latent cases were aboard. The extended sense of “any period of forced isolation” is from 1670s.

As he has done with so many other things as the “leader” of our country, though, Obama has flipped on its head his sense of responsibility. Instead of keeping disease out of America, he’s actively importing it into America.

Moreover, I can’t help thinking that this is no accident. Obama may be an ignoramus in more ways than we can count, but he is a good Leftist, so he knows that a significant factor in the Europeans’ (to my mind inevitable) triumph over the Stone Age people they found living in the Americas had to do with the fact that the indigenous people had no ability to fight off deadly European diseases. What’s that expression? Oh, I know. Payback’s a bitch.

The lie at the heart of Obama’s agreement with Iran

Before I get to the lie at the heart of Obama’s agreement with Iran, I want to reiterate here my certainly that Obama has some sort of hold on both Sen. McConnell and Rep. Boehner.

Being only human, I enjoyed Cruz’s attack on Boehner just as much as the next person:

However, I don’t think McConnell’s cave is just “politics as usual in the GOP.” He’s not acting like a player; he’s acting like a puppet. We already know from Obama’s rise in Chicago politics that he and his minions don’t hesitate to get their hands dirty and that they will happily delve into people’s private lives to get the dirt with which to destroy them.

I don’t know what McConnell’s and Boehner’s secrets are — sexual, financial, political, or even something that would strike us as silly but still goes to the heart of their beings — but I know that they’ve got secrets, and I’m quite certain that Obama knows those secrets. That means I also know that McConnell will do everything in his power to ensure that the Senate does not vote down the agreement with Iran, but will allow it to go forward. Whatever his vulnerability is, it will be more important to him than preventing a nuclear war.

Now, back to my originally scheduled point, Obama is selling the Iran agreement to the American people based on lies just as dishonest “If you like your _____________, you can keep your _____________.” Daniel Greenfield goes to the heart of one of those lies, which is the claim that Iran desperately needs all this nuclear ability because “clean energy.”

A disgraceful example of prosecutorial overreach

I’m a law and order kind of gal, but law and order works only when the forces of law and order — the police and judicial systems — act in a lawful and orderly manner. When they don’t, you have tyranny. That type of tyranny was on display when Charlottesville prosecutors deliberately hid evidence so as to obtain a rape conviction against a manifestly innocent man who ended up spending two-and-a-half-years of his life in jail:

Mark Weiner has lost more than two years with his young son and with his wife, he’s lost his job, he’s lost his family home, and he’s lost every penny he ever had in savings or retirement accounts.

I do not know what will happen to the prosecutors guilty of this heinous abuse of office. Firing isn’t good enough. At the very least they ought to be required to make Weiner financially whole out of their own pockets, including getting him a comparable home and career.

My crusade to erase Woodrow Wilson

We criss-crossed the Potomac several times on our vacation. Three of those journeys too us across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Every time I saw the sign for the bridge, along with a bas relief profile of Wilson himself, I was deeply offended. Wilson was an ardent racist:

Wilson and Segregation

A southern-born president, Woodrow Wilson’s legacy has been dogged by his outright racism.  In his writings, Wilson eulogized the antebellum South and lamented the period of reconstruction that followed the Civil War.  To quote Wilson himself on this subject, “self-preservation [forced whites] to rid themselves, by fair means or foul, of the intolerable burden of governments sustained by the votes of ignorant negroes.”[17Wilson excused the rise of the Ku Klux Klan in similar terms, calling it understandable in view of the “lawless” situation that victimized whites in the South after 1865.[18Wilson carried his racism into the public arena, both as president of Princeton University and as Governor of New Jersey.  While the former, Wilson discouraged black from applying to his university, and as governor, Wilson refused to confirm the hiring of blacks in his administration.[19]

Being a consummate politician, Wilson was not above lying about race when he felt it was necessary.  For example, during the presidential campaign of 1912, Wilson thought it necessary to make a statement on the so-called “negro question”.  In late October 1912, Wilson wrote Bishop Alexander Walters of the African Methodist Church to decline Walters’ invitation to address a mass meeting of the Church at Carnegie Hall on October 26.  In the letter, Wilson wrote, “I want to assure them (i.e. Black Americans) through you that should I become President of the United States they may count on me for absolute fair dealing and for everything by which I could assist in advancing the interests of their race.”[20]

Re-segregating the Federal Government

Once in office, however, Wilson appointed a number of southern Democrats to his Cabinet.  These men proceeded to push for the segregation of black and white employees in their departments.  Wilson did not oppose this practice.  To quote Judson MacLaury, an historian for the U.S. Department of Labor,

“At a Cabinet meeting early in the Administration, Southern members expressed disingenuous concern over alleged friction between Negro and white government employees.  Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson, a Texan, proposed segregating the races to eliminate the supposed problem.  Secretary of the Treasury William Gibbs McAdoo supported him. … The rest of the Cabinet, along with the President, while not explicitly endorsing segregation, did not oppose it.”[21]

Upholding a policy of re-segregating the federal government, which had been gradually de-segregating since the end of the Civil War was entirely consistent with a president who claimed repeatedly that “Segregation is not humiliating but a benefit” and “distinctly to the advantage of the colored people themselves.”[22]

And please, keep in mind that Woodrow Wilson’s disgraceful behavior post-dated, rather than pre-dated the Civil War, as well as post-dating by more than a hundred years our nation’s founding, a time when slavery was still at the tail end of being a common practice throughout the European world.

In addition, as Jonah Goldberg details at some length in Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change, using World War I as an excuse, Wilson may have gone further than any president in American history in suspending Americans’ civil liberties. Scratch a Progressive, find a fascist.

I think it’s time to erase Woodrow Wilson from American history. And if you find peculiar the 1984-ish notion of erasing people entirely from the historic record, you haven’t been paying attention to the news lately:

The impulse to sanitize American history to force it to conform to modern moral benchmarks has taken a bizarre twist in Connecticut. There, the state’s Democratic Party has, under pressure from the NAACP, dropped the names of both Presidents Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson from its annual fundraising dinner. The two towering figures, both fathers of the modern Democratic Party, have been labeled persona non grata because of their ties to American slavery.

“Democrats cited Jefferson and Jackson’s ownership of slaves as a key factor in the decision, as well as Jackson’s role in the removal of Native Americans from the southeastern U.S. in what was known as the Trail of Tears,” the CT Post reported. This is surely just the first such effort; it is likely to be replicated by Democratic Parties across the country and perhaps nationally.

It is not a commentary on the value of their presidencies (like all commanders-in-chief, both of their presidential legacies are checkered) to note that, as members of the nation’s founding generations, to criticize them for violating of today’s moral standards is deeply unfair and revisionist. Yes, both men owned African slaves. Slavery and anti-black prejudice is fundamentally immoral, as the United States has acknowledged over the course of a bloody civil war, the passage of two constitutional amendments affirming equal rights, Reconstruction, desegregation, and the present debate over the dark symbolism of that period in history presided over by a black president. America struggles to atone for its original sin, and it probably always will. To attack the legacies of Jefferson and Jackson is, however, misguided. Removing their names from the pantheon of American icons is not the pursuit of historical accuracy; it is a declaration of historical ignorance.

Yes, it is deeply disturbing that brilliant men such as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, who understood perfectly well that slavery was immoral and inconsistent with the values they professed, were unable to put their principles ahead of their practices. Even George Washington, who was not a blazing intellectual, finally freed his slaves when he died (and, unusually for the time, made sure that they were provided for and did not end up in slavery again) — but the two greatest Constitutional theorists failed that test.

Yes, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, et al, had feet of clay. But it is insane to erase them from history because, despite those feet of clay, they presided over the greatest ideological breakthrough in human history since the Bible. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution may have been written by hypocrites, but at least their hypocrisy resulted in documents of surpassing truth and beauty when it comes to the notion of individual liberties.

One of the things that rankles me most about the Left, and has irritated me since my first day at UC Berkeley, is the fascist imperative to paint people as solely good and solely evil. (Of course, I just did the same for Woodrow Wilson, but I really have never liked anything about him, ever.)

In Leftist land, all Indians are peaceful feminists living in complete harmony with Nature (just see the introductory film at the National Museum of the American Indian), rather than a broad spectrum of all types of humans, from simple Stone Age gatherers, to utterly savage Apaches and Comanches, to Nazi-esque Aztecs, to sophisticated Navajos, all of whom tried as best they could — with fair means and foul — to deal with an inexorable wave of fair-skinned people from a far-away land. Likewise, in Leftist land, the Founding Fathers are irreparably evil, despite being the best examples of their time, and despite the brilliance of their ideas — ideas so profound and radical even the Founders couldn’t live up to them.

The intelligent historian and student separates wheat from chaff. Hitler was one of the most evil men ever to walk the earth, but we don’t invalidate opposition to smoking, vegetarianism, or loving dogs, even though Hitler promoted all three of those things. Likewise, it’s the fool who is incapable of seeing that the Founders were a complicated amalgam of flaws and genius, and that we should recognize the one without ignoring the other.

A few comments without links

This is still the silly season in politics. Trump is actually playing an important role by reminding the GOP that ordinary Americans are fed up with Obama’s and the Left’s unconstitutional rewriting of American immigration laws in order to create what they believe will be a permanent Democrat majority based upon an influx of Hispanics.  I don’t believe he will last many more months, despite his meteoric rise now.

Carly Fiorina continues to impress me. She has a mental agility I admire and I especially admire it because it reveals values that are pretty much consistent with mine.

Regarding Fiorina’s shot at the debates, I think it’s disgraceful that the media is trying to bar certain people — even the loathsome Trump — from the debates. If basketball can figure out how to winnow down a crowded field to reveal a champion, we can certainly do the same with primary debates. Because I believe absolutely in the marketplace of ideas, I want to see all of the candidates.

Speaking of the marketplace of ideas, I also continue to like Ted Cruz, a brilliant man and a mostly principled politician. I was deeply impressed with the way in which he graciously handled and then intellectually decimated Code Pink protesters:

What’s worse than a giant man threatening a smaller man?

What’s worse is when the giant man threatens physical violence, including beating someone’s brains out, because the big man didn’t like being told that his genetic code is male. And what’s even worse than that is when the Leftist media cheers on this violence.

Best baby video ever

Maybe it’s because I’m one of the most nearsighted people any of you will ever meet, or maybe it’s because this baby has the best expression ever when she gets her first glasses, but I am completely in love with this video: