The Bookworm Beat 11-5-15 — the Guy Fawkes edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265Remember, remember, the fifth of November, with gunpowder, treason, and plot. We see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot. And today, in honor of the holiday celebrated in a once great nation, I offer you myriad links hinting that, absent brave action, we may find ourselves going down before the Leftist and Islamist gunpowder, treason, and plot that we’ve both cultivated and invited into our comfortable first world nations.

The way in which government embrace of climate change perverts science

It’s long, but you won’t regret a minute of the time you spend reading Matt Ridley’s accessible, fact-rich, cogent analysis of the way science has become corrupt in its pursuit of government money directed at climate change:

It turns out bad ideas can persist in science for decades, and surrounded by myrmidons of furious defenders they can turn into intolerant dogmas.

This should have been obvious to me. Lysenkoism, a pseudo-biological theory that plants (and people) could be trained to change their heritable natures, helped starve millions and yet persisted for decades in the Soviet Union, reaching its zenith under Nikita Khrushchev. The theory that dietary fat causes obesity and heart disease, based on a couple of terrible studies in the 1950s, became unchallenged orthodoxy and is only now fading slowly.

What these two ideas have in common is that they had political support, which enabled them to monopolise debate. Scientists are just as prone as anybody else to ‘confirmation bias’, the tendency we all have to seek evidence that supports our favoured hypothesis and dismiss evidence that contradicts it as if we were counsel for the defence. It’s tosh that scientists always try to disprove their own theories, as they sometimes claim, and nor should they. But they do try to disprove each other’s. Science has always been decentralised, so Professor Smith challenges Professor Jones’s claims, and that’s what keeps science honest.

What went wrong with Lysenko and dietary fat was that in each case a monopoly was established.

Force-feeding reality to the “reality-based community”

I’ve noticed that, with Obama in the White House, the Left no longer lauds itself as the “reality-based community.” That’s a shame, because that self-bestowed appellation so beautifully highlights how disconnected the Left is from reality. They’re disconnected when it comes to science, Islam, immigration, Iran, etc. Oh, and they’re definitely disconnected when it comes to guns.

You can therefore imagine how charmed I was when I read Robert Avrech’s vignette of his efforts to bring reality to one Progressive gun-grabber. We all need to do that more often — and you’ll notice that he was never anything on his part but civil in his interaction with her.

No, the US did not create ISIS

It’s become fashionable on both sides to blame an American president for ISIS. Leftists blame Bush for doing it because he went into Iraq. Conservatives blame Obama for doing it because he prematurely pulled out of Iraq. Putin blames America generally.

Daniel Greenfield says all of this is piffle and that blame rightly belongs with two Middle Eastern bad guns: The dead Saddam Hussein and the living Assad:

The ISIS blowback doesn’t lead to America, but in a completely different direction.

Before the Islamic State’s current incarnation, it was Al Qaeda in Iraq and its pipeline of suicide bombers ran through Syria with the cooperation of Assad’s government.

Assad and Al Qaeda in Iraq had a common enemy; the United States. Assad had a plan to kill two birds with one stone. Syrian Islamists, who might cause trouble at home, were instead pointed at Iraq. Al Qaeda got manpower and Assad disposed of Sunni Jihadists who might cause him trouble.

Meanwhile Al Qaeda openly operated out of Syria in alliance with the Baathists. While Syria’s regime was Shiite and Iraq’s Sunni, both governments were headed by Baathists.


Critics claim that there would be no ISIS if Saddam were still in power, but the Iraqi dictator helped create ISIS through his alliances with Islamists. ISIS did not suddenly rise out of the ruins of his regime. Instead it grew within Saddam’s regime as the dictator responded to his setbacks against Iran and Saudi Arabia, two Islamist states, by reinventing Iraq and Baathism as explicitly Islamist entities.

During the Iran-Iraq War, Saddam had begun building ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, hoping to bridge the old split between Baathists and Brotherhood and meet Shiite Islamism with Sunni Islamism.

After the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein went in a blatantly Islamist direction. The man in charge of his “Return to Faith” campaign was General Al-Douri, who would be the key ally that Al Qaeda used to move its people through Syria and who would live long enough to fight alongside ISIS as it retook Tikrit.

I suspect, however, that had we stayed in Iraq, we would have been better positioned to stop ISIS in its tracks.  So I still blame Obama….

Will political correctness kill an FBI education program to fight terrorism?

It sounds like a very clever program:

The yet-to-be-unveiled program is called “Don’t Be A Puppet,” and, as the New York Times reported, uses games that take the person using it through a series of exercises that instructs them how to avoid falling prey to recruiters for radical groups. Every correct answer cuts a puppet’s strings until it is no longer under the control of the puppet master.

Unfortunately, the usual Muslim groups are contending that trying to break the link between Islam and terrorism is a form of Islamophobia. They don’t phrase it that way, of course, but that’s what they’re saying:

Their complaint is not so much with the methodology of the program as it is with the fact that it seems to be directed against Islamists. From their point of view, anything that makes it seem as if the government suspects radical Muslims are recruiting young Americans to go abroad to fight for ISIS or to conduct their own terror operations here is out of line because it might make Arabs and Muslims uncomfortable. They want all anti-terror programs to be completely neutral with no trace of understanding that there is a specific Islamist threat. According to one critic quoted by the Times, “The greatest threat facing American schoolchildren today is gun violence. It’s not Muslim extremism.”

That’s a highly debatable assertion, but even if we all agreed about the dangers from guns (as opposed to the actual danger, which stems from letting mentally ill people get weapons), that wouldn’t constitute a serious argument against efforts aimed at undermining Islamist recruiting methods.

I’m willing to bet everything I own that the FBI will be craven and back off from trying to stop homegrown terrorism.

And remember, Sharia is fundamentally inconsistent with American values

There’s a new move afoot in England to advance sharia law as the ultimate weapon in the fight against radical Islam:

“This is a golden opportunity,” wrote the Muslim activist Sajda Khan in the U.K.’s Independent, “to develop within our schools a curriculum based upon the biography of Prophet Muhammad, which clearly demonstrates and embeds what are now also considered British values. This is what will develop a strong sense of identity within our youth and dismantle the perverse understanding of Islam peddled by a few. We must be brave enough to say that being a British Muslim is not an oxymoron; it is the most natural thing in the world.”

Please note that, unlike brave souls such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali or Zuhdi Jasser, Khan is not advocating Islam’s reform from within.  Instead, this is all about bringing peace by having the British simply accept Sharia without having it forced on them.  Robert Spencer, who brings the above to our attention, reminds us of some of Islam’s principal tenets:

Women must cover everything but their face and hands: “‘O Asma, when a woman reaches the age of menstruation, it does not suit her that she displays her parts of body except this and this,’ and he pointed to her face and hands.” (Sunan Abu Dawud 4092)

Child marriage: “The Prophet wrote the (marriage contract) with Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years (i.e. till his death).” (Sahih Bukhari 7.62.88)

Adulterers should be stoned to death: “There came to him (the Holy Prophet) a woman from Ghamid and said: Allah’s Messenger, I have committed adultery, so purify me….And she was put in a ditch up to her chest and he commanded people and they stoned her….” (Sahih Muslim 4206)

Those who leave Islam should be killed: “Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.” (Sahih Bukhari 9.84.57)

Read more (and there’s lots more) here.

Angela Merkel is a symptom, not the cause, of the West’s decline

The current assault against Europe, in the form of hundreds of thousands of Islamic “refugees” (mostly young males) pouring across Europe’s borders, is certainly Merkel’s fault in the first instance.  It is she who invited this batch in and she who insists that Europe subordinate itself to the refugees’ demands.  Having said that, Merkel doesn’t exist in a vacuum:

Western Civilization has been assaulted (from within) and crumbling in Europe for a century.  Godlessness has taken hold.  Vacant materialism reigns.  But not among immigrant Muslims, of course, which serves them well in their rise to dominance in Western Europe.  Faith lends a sureness that faithlessness cannot hope to confer.  Or in the case of Frau Merkel, a misguided, gooey interpretation of Christianity opens the gates to the very peoples intent on destroying Christianity (let’s broaden that to “Judeo-Christianity”).

It’s doubtful that many Western Europeans, long having been schooled that “For God and Country” is disreputable — it being freighted with chauvinism and exploitive of the West’s unwashed Third World betters — are likely to take to the ramparts in defense of what remains of their civilization.  The battle cry, “For godlessness and the welfare state!” rouses whom?  How many aging Germans, French, Brits, Italians, Spaniards, et al, will fight to the death under E.U. banners?  Quite probably, after convulsions (not all Western Europeans are godless creatures of the E.U.), masses of Europeans will “turn Turk.”  Better to switch than fight and lose one’s head.  Europeans with means will flee Sharia Law.

If you haven’t already seen the Kentucky Dem meltdown, you must

I’m already two days late with this story, so you’ve probably already seen Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s bizarre speech in the wake of the Tea Party victory in Kentucky. If you haven’t seen it, though, it’s a must, rambling as it does through politics, the Bible, and horse racing. (And did he really call Hillary a horse? It somehow seems apropos.)

A DIY plumbing project leads to unimagined historic discoveries

Luciano Faggiano was going to start a trattoria in Rome, so he decided to break ground himself on the plumbing and sewage upgrades he needed to do. That plumbing job never did get finished because Faggiano discovered beneath his trattoria a historic wonderland going back before Jesus’s birth and up into the medieval era.

I’d meant for this to be a much longer round-up, but the day has put so many demands on my time, I’m grateful that I was able to get this much done.  What I can promise is more, a lot more, later, whether tonight or tomorrow.

UPDATE: You can find Part 2 here.