The Bookworm Beat 2/25/2016 — the “no debate” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265Work and family meant no debate for me.  Anyway, I’m sick of a debate format that has candidates snarling like dogs at each other and at the moderators without actually providing useful information. In this post, I hope to provide some useful information.

Foreign policy matters in this election.  Both Jonah Goldberg and Charles Krauthammer make a point few of us have missed (or at least few conservatives have missed):  Obama is leaving the world in a much more fragile, dangerous state than it was when he took office.  I believe I said back in 2007, and I know I said back in 2008, that Obama’s determination to withdraw America from the foreign scene was going to unleash some madness.  It would also create new strategic alliances abroad, some better than others.

The new Obama-era reality is that, America’s past influence (whether as ballast, policeman, or financier) is gone.  The next president had better have some plans for dealing with this reality, whether we go all isolationist or try reasserting ourselves.

My take on Hillary is that her frequent flier miles do not offset her spectacularly bad decisions with regard to Russia, Syria, Libya, etc.

Bernie couldn’t care less about foreign policy.  Like Russian Communists in 1917, he wants to withdraw from the world and turn our nation into a worker’s paradise.

Trump talks big, but I don’t believe such big talk will work, which leaves us with . . . nothing.

Rubio is solid on foreign policy, but amnesty. . . .

I still like Cruz — he’s a hawk, but a more cautious hawk than Bush, in that he’s realized that, while we could kind of remake Germany and Japan after WWII, because both were modern nations and both were bombed into the dust, that kind of nation-building doesn’t work with Muslims.  I think Cruz has a more subtle mind than the other candidates, and I have a strong, albeit inchoate, feeling that this is a virtue for a president dealing with foreign policy.

Cruz’s tax plan is better than Trump’s.  I’m not a numbers person, so I’m not saying that Cruz’s tax plan is better.  An analyst at The Hill is saying that.  Check it out and see whether you agree or disagree.

Speaking of Trump and taxes.  One of Trump’s selling positions is that he’s really, really rich.  But how rich is he?  Well, Trump’s not saying.  That is, he says a lot, but he refuses to produce the one document — tax returns — that is most likely to reflect his wealth accurately (as opposed to all other documents that can be as true or untrue as he wishes).  Given Trump’s sometimes distant relationship with truth (something that’s a virtue on reality TV and, depending on how you like to do business, in cutting business deal), it would be nice to pin him down on the verities of his main claim to fame — being a multi-billionaire.

Should Rubio’s position on amnesty disqualify him as a true conservative candidate?  John Hawkins thinks so and I agree.  Here’s the sad truth:  Conservative outreach has failed to convince Hispanics that Progressives are lying when they say conservatives eat Hispanic children for breakfast and want to throw everyone else in the ocean.  Progressives want Hispanics, legal or illegal, because they know with reasonable certainty that this influx will ensure a permanent Democrat voting majority.  No matter Rubio’s motives, if he’s pressing for a course of action that will wipe out conservatives’ chance to win elections for the next three decades, what kind of conservative is he?

Some Trump supporters have gotten bitten by the crazy bug.  Curmudgeonly Jonathan Last has officially come out against Trump because he’s concerned about the fanaticism of Trump supporters.  I’ve had the same concern about some of those who comment here.  Many make the traditional political arguments I understand, whether about Trump’s abilities versus other candidates’ abilities, his promises versus their promises, or his principles versus theirs.  Others, however, talk in doctrinal terms that leave me bewildered and a bit frightened.  Even if he doesn’t want to be a demagogue, too many of his fans want him to be one for my peace of mind.

Avi Woolf is also washing his hands of the unseemly passion he’s witnessing.  Matt Walsh isn’t impressed either by the fact that Trump fans love that Trump gives it good and hard, but they don’t admire the same forthrightness when Trump detractors give it right back (oh, and Walsh also really, really hates Trump, so be warned).

Trump’s campaign is bringing something very ugly out in people — and it’s a reminder, perhaps, that civility is a very thin veneer at best, and we’d better be careful how much we go about picking away at it.  And please note that I am not attempting to impugn either Trump or his supporters.  I am merely suggesting that while both have virtues on their own, when combined, much like ammonia and bleach, they seem to produce a dangerous vapor.

It’s obvious that Last, Woolf, and Walsh understand the fury and frustration driving Trump supporters.  But like me, they think the people backing Trump are being sold a bill of goods.  This vengeful fury isn’t the way to right the wrongs they see in an America battered by 50 years of Progressive education and media, and 7 years of Obama’s vision playing out.  America needs to return to principled small government constitutionalism; it doesn’t need to be pushed further down the Big Government road, only with Trump at the helm, rather than Obama, Hillary, or Bernie.

Minimum wages take jobs.  The beauty of state- or city-imposed minimum wages is that they turn local communities into political laboratories.  People can watch in real time how forcing high wages on employers will destroy a local economy, as has been happening in Seattle.  I’d like to think that Seattle’s experiment will stop the cry for a federal minimum wage, but lately the crazy never stops.

Roots revisited.  I didn’t watch Roots the first time, when I was in high school, although I don’t remember why.  Now, knowing that Haley was a fabulist, I have no inclination to watch the Roots reboot that the History Channel is putting up.

Here’s my deal:  If blacks were thinking like smart people and not like the Democrats’ victims de jour, they’d stop blaming whites (and this is true whether such blame is accurate or not) and start putting their own house in order.  If a person went to a therapist and complained about how his parents ruined his life, the therapist would be committing malpractice telling that person “I recommend that you wallow in your misery and continue to blame your parents.  That’ll be $300, please.”  A good therapist will say, “Fine, we’ve now figured out what’s underlying your pathological [whatever that pathology is].  But that’s the past.  What are you going to do to make your life better now?”

Oh, and by the way, Black People:  Have you been paying attention to the fact that the powers that be in Europe are perfectly willing to sacrifice women — who were once also a cherished Leftist victim de jour — in favor of Muslim immigrants, a new and violent victim de jour?  European woman are slowly beginning to understand that they were used, not supported.  I can guarantee you, American Blacks, that when your political utility ends, you’ll be dropped in the same way, like yesterday’s garbage.

Even as intersectionality is all the rage on the Left, Jews are discovering that intersectionality doesn’t apply to them.  Blacks hate Jews, Hispanics aren’t so fond of them, and now it turns out that the LGBTQRSTUV community isn’t so fond of them either . . . because Palestinians (you know, the ones who murder people from the LGBTQRSTUV community).  What’s a committed Jewish LGBTQRSTUV Leftist to do?  Well, I don’t actually know. I found the the lady’s article so filled with Leftist cant that I couldn’t actually figure out what she was saying, but I think she’s trying to say “Don’t hate Jews.”

When it comes to San Francisco’s homeless, a tech warrior is right.  As a native San Franciscan who still lives near the City, I’ve written several posts about San Francisco’s homeless problems.  (Examples are herehere, and here.)  Putting aside the fact that any temperate climate will attract homeless people, San Francisco’s problem is that it’s put the rights of the homeless ahead of the rights of the home owning, rent paying citizens.

That’s all very sweet and Progressive, except that there’s a name for a city that allows the homeless to do whatever they want — it’s called a slum.  One high tech guy pointed this out in rather tactless terms and was lambasted, but I think he was completely right.  Decent, law-abiding, clean, sane, taxpaying, mortgage paying, rent paying people ought to have rights too.

More kudos should go to that guy than went to the phenomenally stupid Yelp executive who, after reading a spoiled millenial complain about her stupid choices and how they affected her bottom line, insisted that San Francisco has the responsibility to make more cheap housing available.  (You want more slum, folks?)  There are a few reasons San Francisco has expensive housing, only one of which has to do with the free market:  San Francisco is on the tip of a peninsula.  It’s finite.  There’s never going to be lots of housing stock.

But you know what really kills available housing stock?  Rent control and laws that are so hostile to landlords that people with money, who should be investing in rental properties, won’t touch the City with a ten foot pole.  It’s not worth it.  You can’t charge market rates and it’s almost impossible to evict non-paying tenants.  The other thing that kills it is San Francisco’s appalling and corrupt permitting process, which makes it very challenging to adjust or build properties to provide more living space.  Feh!

Pro Palestinian activism:  It’s not about helping Palestinians; it’s just about killing Jews.

Roseanne Barr’s Road To Damascus?  Roseanne Barr used to be fiercely anti-Israel.  She’s since done a 180.  I find that amazing, and impressive, and really quite inspiring.  Things like that give me hope.

Also uplifting, but so sad.  A 10-year-old girl sacrificed herself to save two toddlers from a runaway car.  Heroism always impresses me, especially instinctive heroism.  I’m an “analysis paralysis” kind of person, and that bothers me about myself.

Apple is not a principled privacy warrior.  I have an iPhone and an iPad.  I don’t know how much longer I’ll have either.  I’m actually conflicted about whether Apple should give a back door to the government for iPhones.  On the one hand, I seriously distrust the government and its willingness to violate American privacy rights.  On the other hand, I take seriously the threat of jihad in America and want the government to be able to stop those jihadists before they sin again.

No, my problem with apple is that Tim Cook has stopped selling a product and is working hard to sell a hard Left lifestyle because gay.  I don’t want to be sold a lifestyle.  I just want an elegant little smart phone.  Also, Apple has no problem dealing with and pandering to some of the world’s most repressive regimes.  It makes me doubt whether Cook is acting on principle here or if he just wants to keep jihadis happy.

A lovely reminiscence about Jewish life in Morocco.  I didn’t realize that the DiploMad came from Moroccan Jewish stock.  He’s written a lovely post about his childhood memories and his beloved, and very determined, grandmother.