The Bookworm Beat 1/8/16 — the “world gone mad” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265I don’t know how this happened, but in just three days of collecting articles on my cyber-spindle, I’ve managed to gather together almost thirty solid links I want to share with you. No time for chat, therefore; instead, I’ll plunge straight into my fascinating “world gone mad” edition:

If you only have time to read two things today

This is a meaty round-up. If you don’t have time to pursue all these links, I recommend two articles, both of which say things we already now, but each of which expresses those ideas with such clarity that you must read them:

1. Noemi Emery’s Obama’s Pass From The Press.

2. Kevin Williamson’s Mrs. Clinton is Professor Click.

The danger to America from Obama’s unconstitutional efforts to grab guns

Mike McDaniel didn’t need to hear Obama’s tearful press conference to know what was coming down the pike. Before Obama even opened his mouth, Mike spelled out the benefits of having a civilized and armed society, as well as the constitutional limitations Obama planned to (and did) blow past on his way to gun confiscation.

I’m shocked — shocked! — to learn that Obama lied about guns in America

Oh, and just about everything Obama said during the press conference was a lie.

Indeed, the very first lie was about those 30,000 deaths annually, with the implication that these are 30,000 annual gun homicides. There aren’t:

At a Jan. 4 press conference, President Barack Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, exclaimed that “30,000 gun deaths in America” was enough evidence for the administration to push past Congress to establish laws to combat gun violence.

“Thirty thousand gun deaths in America every year. Twenty thousand children under the age of 18 have been killed by a firearm over the last decade. Hundreds of law enforcement officers that have been shot and killed over the last decade. And in the face of all these statistics, what’s Congress done?” Earnest asked.

However, Earnest’s efforts backfired when Emily Miller, a reporter for WTTG and author of the book “Emily Gets Her Gun,” noted that 20,000 of those deaths were due to suicide.

Obama also ignore yet another truth: guns don’t just take lives, they save lives. It’s really beyond me why the NRA and other special interest groups don’t track down every single person who lives today because a gun protected him (or her) and have that person do a commercial: “Hi, my name is ___________. I’m here today because a legal gun saved my life. [Tell story.]” Finish with glowing images of survivor surrounded by happy loved ones.  These commercials should flood every type of media:  Television, print, and internet.

Was Paul Ryan more Machiavellian than we realized?

Conservatives in America were deeply disappointed when Paul Ryan pushed through a budget that fulfilled every Democrat’s dream. What the heck was he thinking?

What he might have been thinking about was repealing Obamacare. According to Rick Moran, the recent vote to repeal Obamacare was only possible because of the Ryan budget:

The key to this vote was getting a budget bill passed. Once that happened, reconciliation came into play – the first time since Obamacare was passed and Republicans were in the majority. Of course, there aren’t the votes to override the president’s veto, but the path forward for the people to take back control of their health insurance options has been cleared.

The question remains whether, over the long run, the Ryan budget will do more good than harm.

Culture can be a source for good

In America, of late, popular culture hasn’t done much for the public weal. It’s therefore nice to be reminded that something as simple as a song can be a source of profound good — as was the case with a Yiddish song that powered Jewish partisans during WWII, and that has frequently been recorded since then.

And speaking of good culture

The old notion of a “university” education was that the education would be “universal.” The graduate would have insights into everything the greatest minds in history could produce, from math to science to literature to art to philosophy. That’s why it’s so deeply disturbing that at major universities across America, Shakespeare is no longer a required to be an English major. Shallow feminism sees his fame as being attributable to his white, male status. In fact, Shakespeare’s fame arises because he used language so beautifully, and he did so in the service of grand, unchangeable human themes.

In a funny way, Ted Cruz is bucking the anti-humanism trend. His foreign policy adviser, Victoria Coates, has a PhD in art history, in addition to on-the-job skills learned working for Donald Rumsfeld. She has combined her two worlds in a newly published book: David’s Sling: A History of Democracy in Ten Works of Art. Roger Simon has read the book and raves about it:

In David’s Sling she brings her interests together, unpacking the complex relationship between art and democracy from the Athens of Pericles and Phidias all the way through the World War I France of Clemenceau and Monet and on into more recent times with Picasso and Guernica.

The many stops along the way are compelling, including such highlights as the links between the political conflicts and the artistic triumphs of the Dutch Golden Age and the vicissitudes of the French Revolution leading to Jacques-Louis David’s haunting bathtub portrait of his murdered friend Jean-Paul Marat, The Death of Marat.


Reading Coates’ book, it’s hard not to think of what a continual battle it is to preserve democracy, how fragile our system is, seen here from the unique perspective of the art historian. Similarly, it’s hard not to think of today’s Europe, overwhelmed as it is once again becoming by totalitarian forces.

Whatever the results of those migrations, David’s Sling should be recommended reading for anyone headed for Europe today. It would make those obligatory trips to the Rijksmuseum, etc. more rewarding. I wish I had read it before my recent trip to Amsterdam. In fact, I would recommended it to anyone, scheduled trip or no. Despite Coates’ academic bona fides, David’s Sling doesn’t read the slightest bit like one of those boring art history texts one often encounters in college. It’s gripping.

Kudos too to Ted Cruz for choosing a person with such breadth of knowledge as a foreign policy adviser. It reflects well on him.

I grew up in a home rich in European culture, took several art history classes at college, and have been to most of Europe’s great museums. The art works in Coates’ book are therefore familiar to me. Nevertheless, I look forward to reading the book so that I can see them through the lens of democracy.

One more thing: I’ve gotten to know Coates a bit via some messages we exchanged in connection with my posts about Ted Cruz, whom I support. She is, in her communications, every inch a lady — an old-fashioned concept, I know, but a good standard by which to measure a person.

It’s depressing even to think about what the Clintons did to culture

Harry Stein (like me, someone who journeyed from Leftist to conservative) has written a fascinating post tying the decline of American culture to Bill Clinton’s Lewinsky sex scandal. It was that moment at which our culture coarsened, perhaps irreparably:

As Clinton’s prospects for survival brightened, his Democratic colleagues likewise rallied to his support, even as many privately expressed deep contempt for his behavior. Indeed, it was already becoming clear that the Clintons’ scorched-earth campaign for survival would impose steep and long-lasting costs on the quality of the nation’s civic life. It is no accident that the campaign’s rallying cry, “Let’s Move On,” would be the genesis of, which continues today aggressively to push the Left’s agenda and eviscerate those on the other side.

Personal anecdote:  In 2007 or 2008, when a very nice man came to our school to answer nervous parents’ questions about the school’s fifth grade sex ed class (purely biology based, with values left for parents), he asked us to guess which news story garnered more student questions than any other story he’d dealt with in 25 years. After a variety of guesses, from Janet Jackson’s costume failure to Loreena Bobbitt’s home castration project, he told us we were all wrong. The story that changed how students viewed sex was the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal, when oral sex suddenly left the bedroom and entered the school room.

Here’s a follow-up to that story:  Less than a decade after Lewinsky-gate, at a middle school dance in Marin, a teacher’s suspicions about long lines into the boys’ restroom revealed two girls orally servicing every boy who came along.

Hillary and fellow feminists prefer a PC rapist to a conservative decent man

As Bill’s enabler, Hillary has a lot to answer for. I wonder when/if the sexual zealots on American campuses — the ones who have enacted a new legal standard of “guilty until proven” innocent for men accused of sexual wrongdoing — will turn on Hillary. If Germany’s feminists are anything to go by, the answer is that the turnaround won’t come anytime soon. Just as women in the 1990s forgave Bill everything because he supported abortion, Germany’s feminists are forgiving the Muslims hordes who attacked hundreds of women across Germany on New Year’s Eve because the feminists are afraid that focusing on actual malfeasors will divert attention from the true evil: white European males.

Ron Fournier, a former Clinton supporter, has realized that Bill’s sexcapades still matter culturally, although he’s unclear on the fact that Hillary wasn’t just a wronged wife but was, in fact, a major player in the cover-ups, misdirection, and libelous conduct towards the women.

As an aside, the whole feminist culture is nibbling away at the Marines. Let’s hope that the Marines, being made of stronger stuff than university administrators, are able to survive these PC assaults.

Lastly, I assume it hasn’t escaped your notice that the SJWs, and BLMS, and Feminazis have as their first targets places that support their agendas: Leftist cities and institutions. Usually revolutions eat their own last. This time, though, the revolution is eating its own first, no doubt in order to strike fear into everyone else.

For Europeans, cultural degradation is better than the end of culture

David P. Goldman (aka Spengler) writes about the bizarre phenomenon (which I alluded to above with my reference to German feminists) that Western Europe will do anything it can to pretend that the Muslims it invited into its countries aren’t now busy burning down these same countries. In addition to actually burning down buildings (Muslims routinely set Swedish schools on fire), the Muslims are destroying one Western traditional after another, from free speech, to female autonomy, to Judeo-Christian doctrines — and they’re doing it with active assistance from Europeans or at the very least the absence of any resistance.

In this regard, what’s happening in Europe reminds me strongly of the way in which the Spanish Influenza killed — it wasn’t the disease that killed, it was the immune system response. Old people and young ones, with their immature or antiquated immune systems ought to have been the first to die. But it was the young and healthy who died because their immune system responses to the influenza were so over-the-top the responses killed the patients.

Goldman thinks that, having turned against their own cultural institutions, Europeans have nothing to stave off their fears as they stare into the endless abyss of cultural death, whether theirs or another’s:

The fear of social death that comes with civilizational decline is unspeakably worse than individual death, and horror before the prospect of social death gives impulse to atrocious behavior. More precisely, it makes it impossible to say what is atrocious and what is not. “We cannot, indeed, imagine our own death; whenever we try to do so we find that we survive ourselves as spectators,” said Freud. That is not quite true: we often tremble at the prospect of our own death in fear and horror, which we would not do if we did not imagine it. Our consciousness, rather, is both individual and social, and we regard our own death with the inner eye of those with whom we share a common language and aspirations, which will not end with out physical existence.

Unless it does. That is the ultimate horror. It is one thing to imagine being a spectator at your own funeral, and another to imagine yourself shut into perpetual silence, cut off from all human contact, with no past and no future. That is a living death, a mental presence without consciousness. Imagine, for example, that on your deathbed you are the last speaker of a language that will become extinct upon your passing, erasing your memory and your history. That is a horror much worse than Hell, where at least you can chat with your neighbor in the brimstone pit. At least the shade of Achilles could gripe to Odysseus about the misery of the underworld; imagine how the son of Peleus would have felt if all memory of Greece along with its language were forever extinguished, and he sat in Hades alone and in perpetual silence.

That is how it feels to be trapped in a dying civilization.Rationality ceases to have meaning. Upon learning that you have an inoperable malignant brain tumor, you might cash in your insurance policy and go on a spree—but not if everyone who speaks your language and shares your memories already is extinct. In that case there is nothing to do with your money. You can sit at the bar by yourself and drink Chateau Petrus. Or you can go out and stab the next Israeli you run into.

The death of Muslim civilization is too horrible for the Germans to contemplate, because the bell tolls for them, too. And it is particularly painful for Germans to consider the possibility that the source of the terrible events that have driven millions to Germany is the character of the people themselves. Syria has torn itself to pieces not only because of the malfeasance of its leaders but rather because of the character of its people. Once the Sunni revolt against Shia-majority government in Iraq enlisted elements of Saddam Hussein’s army as well as the “Sunni Awakening” funded by Gen. Petraeus during the 2007-2008 “surge,” sectarian war to the death became inevitable in Syria, with both sides inflicting the most revolting atrocities imaginable.

Just as an atheist fears the same death that the religious person is able to face with some equanimity, so do the totally secularized, spiritually dessicated Europeans look away when cultural death stalks them.

Definitely read Goldman’s post. It’s very densely written but very worth the effort.

Also, Christie Davies reminds us that the cry of “racism” that the Muslims and the Left shrill out every time someone speaks up about Muslim depredations is a lie.  Islam is not a race, it’s an ideology, and it’s perfectly appropriate in a free country (assuming any are left) to challenge an evil ideology.

The silence of the dead Jews

The Charlie Hebdo and Jewish market massacre happened a year ago yesterday. Barack Obama memorably referred to the latter deaths, at the Jewish market, as “random.” Although the president routinely assaults language with coarse phrases, mangled syntax, and “ums” & “uhs,” his decision to call those deaths “random” was a careful word choice. Obama, focused on his struggle to destroy Netanyahu and marginalize Israel, was not about to make nascent antisemitism a cause celebre on his watch.

The editor of Charlie Hebdo, however, had his eyes opened wide by the massacre, and had this to say on the anniversary:

The editor of Charlie Hebdo said in an article set to come out Wednesday on the anniversary of the deadly terror attack on the French satirical magazine that while the killings launched a global debate on the role of religion and free speech, no one bothered to explain to the world why Islamist attackers also went after a kosher supermarket.

Jihadist gunmen murdered 17 people at Charlie Hebdo on January 7, 2015 and at a Paris kosher supermarket two days later. They were among the first victims of a string of attacks by Islamic fundamentalists in France last year that ultimately left at least 147 people dead and hundreds of others injured.

“We are so used to Jews being killed because they are Jewish,” Gėrard Biard wrote. “This is an error, and not just on a human level. Because it’s the executioner who decides who is Jewish. Nov. 13 was the proof of that. On that day, the executioner showed us that he had decided we were all Jewish.”

Obama is many bad things. Chief among them is the fact that he’s a small, miserable excuse of a human being.

Incidentally, those Progressive Jews who think Hillary will be better than Obama are lying to themselves. Hillary has never been a friend to Jews, and has always been drawn to the Muslim nations, fascinated both by their purported victim status at the hands of Western imperialism and their sexy totalitarianism, a power each Leftist secretly desires.

The usefulness of teaching kids Arabic

PJ Media reports the way in which creeping Islam is using American public schools and Common Core to spread its message:

Common Core . . . effectively mandates the study of Islam, which often takes precedence over the traditional focus on American and Western history. As columnist and author Edward Davenport reports for Freedom Outpost, “An astounding 32 pages of the World history textbook are devoted to Muslim cavitation. Students in two Texas schools–Cross Timbers intermediate and Kenneth Davis–will be required to learn Arabic…thanks to a 1.3 million grant from the Department of Education’s Foreign Language Assistantship program.” Much of American political and military history has been airbrushed out of the materials students are expected to master. Qatar has also been lavish in promoting Islamic propaganda at the expense of objective scholarship; indeed, Qatar Foundation International, directed by Islamic apologist Tariq Ramadan, funded the “One World Education” concept from which Common Core originated.

I find this trend very disturbing, of course. I do think, however, that it’s useful to teach Arabic, although the teaching should be done in a pro-American, not anti-American context. As WWIV — the war between the West and Islam — heats up, America will need reliable Arabic-speaking patriots to help keep track of Islamic communications.

The Left — getting science lessons from a gorilla

Climate Changistas are very excited that Koko, the signing gorilla, took humans to task for destroying the earth:

Now, as part of a campaign by French organization Noe Conservation, Koko has been filmed delivering a message to the humans of the world, encouraging them to become more conscious of their responsibility to protect the planet. In the video, she appears to call mankind “stupid” for ignoring this responsibility, while also claiming that “Earth Koko love”

In a hilarious caveat to this gorilla message, IFLScience, the hard-Left leaning “science” site, solemnly ends its post by saying

It must also be recognized that her ability to truly grasp the concepts about which she appears to “talk” in the video is questionable. For instance, her awareness of notions such as climate change and time unlikely to be strong. It has also not been verified by scientists not affiliated with the Gorilla Foundation whether or not she truly is able to grasp the syntax required to make complex statements, and how advanced her level of communication actually is.

Ya think?

Ah, the lovely hypocritical irony of carbon footprints

When I think of the word “indulgence,” it has two meanings for me. The first is the obvious one, of fulfilling our sensual desires with good food, luxury homes, fine cars, fancy clothes, etc. The second is the medieval concept that led to Luther’s reformation. He was horrified by the Church’s willingness to allow people to pay money to the Church to purchase “indulgences,” a purchase that would allegedly free even the most stained soul to go to Heaven.

In Marin, wealthy people indulge in all of the usual sensual desires: clothes, houses, food — and cars. One of the indulgent cars in Marin is the Tesla, but other electric or hybrid cars aren’t far behind. They swarm the roads here. (Being married to a Leftist, I have two, and can highly recommend Ford’s hybrid Fusion as a delightful car to drive.)

Lefties also think of these indulgent cars in a medieval way: they are a bought and paid for ticket to greenie Heaven. The person driving a Tesla or Prius, having spent the money, is truly holier than thou.

This is why I got such a huge kick out of the headline in the local newspaper: Marinites have a disgracefully large carbon footprint. It turns out that buying a Tesla or Prius isn’t going to offset your 10,000 square foot house with all of the modern conveniences. Who would have thought?

Daniel Pipes plays the optimist card

Daniel Pipes thinks that ISIS, like a popular franchise that expands too quickly only to collapse even faster, will essentially burn itself out. I’d like to share his optimism, but I think the fact that the ISIS franchise has worldwide traction means that any eventual burnout will take decades, not days.

How to write modern poetry

When I was in high school English, we still studied actual poetry. If you’re over 40, you probably remember the drill: learn all about rhyme, rhyme patterns, rhythm, meter, and different types of poems (e.g., sonnet, iambic pentameter, etc.).

It’s been different for my kids. The teacher played a handful of videos showing “slam” poems and told the kids to write their own. I wish I’d known about Moe Lane’s hysterical tutorial when my kids were struggling with that pointless project.

Natural beauty

For a moment of serenity at the end of a depressing post, close-ups of snowflakes.