The Bookworm Beat 4/21/16 — a round-up and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265My take on the decision to put Harriet Tubman on the $20 in place of Andrew Jackson?  I find all this change and revisionism both silly and expensive but, having said that, here’s my position:  They’re replacing the racist, slave-supporting, Indian-killing founder of the Democrat party with a gun-toting, Republican black woman — what’s to dislike?  I think it’s great.  And now on to the collected news of the day.

Blame Democrats for today’s nasty politics.  Politics has always been a rough-and-tumble business.  After all, the people playing aren’t just winning cupcakes; they’re winning power.  Nevertheless, for most of America’s history, there’s been a tacit agreement to conduct politics in a civil manner — fight hard, but attack your opponent’s politics, not his person.  This year, that unwritten rule has vanished.  One can point fingers at specifically nasty politicians, but the real story isn’t that nasty people do nasty things; instead, it’s that the American public is willing to accept that behavior.  Andrew Klavan blames the Left for this cultural degradation:

As a proud right-winger, I’m appalled and disgusted by Donald Trump. Nonetheless, I feel a certain schadenfreudean glee at watching leftists reel in horror at his unbridled incivility. They truly don’t seem to realize: he is only the loud and manifest avatar of their own silent and invisible nastiness. In a veiled reference to Trump at a recent lunch on Capitol Hill, President Obama declared he was “dismayed” at the “vulgar and divisive rhetoric” being heard on the campaign trail. “In America, there is no law that says we have to be nice to each other, or courteous, or treat each other with respect,” the president said. “But there are norms. There are customs.”

Are there? When I hear this sort of thing from Obama and his fellow leftists, what I wonder is: Have they not listened to themselves for the past 50 years? Do they really have no idea how vicious, how low, how cruel, and how dishonest their attacks on the Right have been?

No, they haven’t; and, no, they don’t. The Democrat-monopolized media, which explodes with rage at any minor unmannerliness on the right, falls so silent at the Left’s almost ceaseless acrimony that leftists are never forced to confront what despicable little Trumps they often are.

American immobility.  I’ve commented multiple times about the fact that Americans are less willing to relocate than they once were.  The entire essence of America for several hundred years was people’s willingness to leave their homes, whether in the old country or the new, and to head south, east, north, or west in search of better opportunities.

Today, though, the combination of being weighted down by possessions (even the poor today own more than all but the rich owned in the past) and having welfare to turn to (no matter how minimal that welfare is) means that people in economically dead areas can stick around.  It’s not a nice life, but it’s the life they know, and they can always make themselves feel better about things with a bit of meth or heroin.

Kevin Williamson got a lot of flak for saying that we as a nation need to stop expending energy and money on dying communities and should, instead, focus on the vital communities.  Obviously, I agree.  Now, Williamson, in the face of that flak, has doubled down and I still agree:

My answer is that if there’s nothing for you in Garbutt but penury, dysfunction, and addiction, then get the hell out. If that means that communities in upstate New York or eastern Kentucky or west Texas die, so what? If that’s all they have to offer, then they have it coming.

Mixed in with that common sense you’ll find some hard-hitting attacks on those who challenged Williamson.  And I still agree with him.

The bottom line is that,while dying towns are sad and forcing people to leave their roots is sad too, at a societal level, that’s not a reason to keep functionally dead towns on taxpayer-funded life support.

(Incidentally, the same goes for Europe, which in its effort to preserve its past has calcified, making it less of a charming place, and more of a bizarre and frequently unpleasant place.  I totally understood what Robert Avrech’s friend was talking about when he said that Eastern Europe, even without the Soviets, is “oppressive.”)

When it comes to the Bible, you might not want Trump as your kids’ Sunday School teacher.  I won’t say any more than that about Trump and the Bible.  If you’re interested in more on the subject, though, you can read it here.  You also might not want Trump to be your history teacher, given his peculiar pronouncement about the relative worth of Pearl Harbor and 9/11 victims.  On the other hand, when it comes to 7/11, er, 9/11, his manifest slip of the tongue did give birth to a very funny political poster from the folks at Mad Magazine:

Trump's historical mistakes

Cruz again has Israel’s back.  Biden’s latest attack on Israel cements firmly the fact that the Obama administration is incredibly hostile to that tiny, free country.  Hillary has paid some lip service to Israel, but her conduct and her cohorts suggest that, while she’s pandering to Jews now, in the face of Bernie’s active hostility to Israel, she’s not a reliable friend.

Trump’s daughter has converted to Judaism, and he’s definitely not hostile to the nation (bravo!), but he has no history of standing up for it either.  Also, his advisors are troubling — Jewish?  Yet.  Smart?  Who knows?  They have no experience with Israel policy.  They’re just Trump’s Jewish business friends.

And then there’s Ted Cruz who, at every opportunity and for years, has actively shown his support for the Jewish nation.  Just recently, with Obama’s state department joining the UN in demanding that Israel give up the Golan Heights, without which she’d be at Syria’s mercy, Ted Cruz again has Israel’s back.

I keep hearing from Leftist Jews (whose religious notions read like the Democrat party platform, with scant allegiance to the Torah) that Christian support for Israel is meaningless because the Christians just want the Jews gathered there to inaugurate Christ’s Second Coming. That is, their support for the nation is self-interested.

I don’t care if the ultimate reward of the Second Coming guides pro-Israel Christians.  First, pro-Israel Christians have been consistently philosemitic in word and deed.  That’s not self-interest; that’s a moral calculus that comes out on the side of justice and freedom.  Second, I don’t worry about Christians, the Second Coming, or what will happen to the Jews then, because I think that’s God’s bailiwick. End of story.

UN again tries to separate Jews from Israel.  The UN is a vile antisemitic organization.  Its latest line of attack, through UNESCO, is to pretend that the Jews do not have an ancient connection to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  This is a historic lie.  You can sign a petition protesting that lie.

Also, while I’m on the subject of the Jews’ historic ties to the land of Israel, and with Passover starting tomorrow, I want to recommend a video I just watched called Patterns of Evidence : The Exodus.  Thanks to reading the original edition of Werner Keller’s The Bible as History, I’ve always believed that the Exodus occurred at the time of the Hyksos takeover in Egypt.  (“Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph.” — Exodus 1:8.)  That dating ties in with evidence of upheaval in Egypt and the destruction of Canaanite forts.  To my mind, therefore, archeology supports Exodus.

What I didn’t realize is that, based upon a single reference to Ramesses in Exodus, most archeologists have been looking for evidence of the Exodus several hundred years after the Hyksos takeover and after all that destruction in Canaan.  Patterns of Evidence looks at archeological support for the Exodus story and starts thinking about where the archeological finds fit into ancient history.

It’s just a fascinating video and you can actually see it on YouTube for a small fee ($3.99 compared to the price of a ticket to a movie theater).  It’s also on Netflix, which is how I found it.

The line between good and evil.  I follow Stand With Us on Facebook, something I encourage everyone who supports Israel to do.  I also donate money to it, because I think it’s one of the best Israel advocacy groups out there.  (The Israel Project is another one.)  Both of these groups do something the media refuses to do, which is to show the essential humanity of Israel and to contrast it with the essential inhumanity of these seeking her destruction.  As I’ve said on my real-me Facebook, the side you take in this existential war tells a lot about who you are as a person.

Mike McDaniel is the best kind of person, and he’s written a simply wonderful post about Israel’s humanity and the Palestinians’ inhumanity.  In any event, the whole fight is a sham.  There is not now nor will there ever be a real Palestinian state.

Islam cannot maintain itself.  Although the world’s Muslims are on the move, heading out of the Middle East in great numbers and heading for the West, the reality is that they’re struggling demographically.  No surprise there.  Any religion that can only gain converts through fear and that punishes apostates with death has very little to offer its practitioners.  Once the faithful are exposed to a faith based on love, not death, they tend to convert.  Also, the combination of poverty, disease, and cousin incest means that, while some Muslims have big families, lots of Muslims don’t have healthy, dynamic, stable families.

Careful on those European beaches.  Islam may be dying demographically, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t still deadly.  If you’re planning to go to Europe for the summer, you might want to be careful in the beach communities, which terrorists intend to target.  I’m sorry for those Europeans dependent on beach-community tourist revenue, but let’s hope that a tourist-free summer causes them to pressure their governments to stop pandering to Islamists and, instead, to take a stand against them.

Charity is about being nice; socialism is about tyranny.  Here is an excellent post disabusing ignorant Leftists (pardon the redundancy) of the infantile thought that socialism is the same as charity and, therefore, is a nice thing to do.  Charity is a human impulse that both Judaism and Christianity support.  Socialism is a tyrant’s impulse that inevitably leads to economic disaster and endless limitations on individual liberties.

Leftism has left our youth brain dead.  If you have the time, read the post I wrote about government lies and climate change, with specific attention to my quotation from Natan Sharansky’s The Case For Democracy: The Power Of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny And Terror.  That quoted passage discusses citizens forced into “doublethink” — which means that government propaganda forces them to live endlessly with two completely opposite thoughts existing simultaneously in their heads, one of which is reality, and the other of which is what they’re told to think.

Then read about the University of Washington students who are unable to explain why they shouldn’t believe a white man who claims to be an Asian woman (video included).    While you’re at it, you might also want to read Matt Walsh, who deals with the bathroom wars by claiming he’s a monkey, and therefore entitled to relieve himself in the aisles or at the cash register.

Forget “don’t believe everything you read in the papers;” the new version is “don’t believe anything you read in the papers.”  The headlines went out — Southwest Airlines (which we all know is headquartered in racist Dallas, Texas) kicked a guy off the airplane just because he was speaking Arabic.  That lie went halfway around the world while the truth was putting its pants on.

The actual story was more interesting:  An Arabic-speaking passenger on the plane heard the man, understood what he said, and considered it threatening.  As Southwest explained in its press release, “It was the content of the passenger’s conversation, not the language used, that prompted the report leading to our investigation.”  (And for a historic take on the same subject of media malfeasance, check out the fascinating back story behind the famed Vietnam-era photograph supposedly showing a South Vietnamese general summarily executing an innocent civilian.)

SF takes aim at free enterprise.  It’s an old story now, but still worth reading.  Lyft and Uber are transportation game changers — and as often happens in such cases, the prior transportation industry is dying a swift death.  (Think of what happened to all the businesses built around horse-drawn carriages when motorized cars came along.)

The so-called Progressive city of San Francisco has decided to do everything it can to stop this forward momentum — which is both inevitable and highly beneficial to the consumer — by demanding that all Lyft and Uber drivers obtain a license.  Licenses, of course, benefit the old guard and stifle innovation.

To learn more about the problems with government’s habit of licensing anything that moves, I recommend Clark Neily’s Terms of Engagement: How Our Courts Should Enforce the Constitution’s Promise of Limited GovernmentIn it, he discusses how courts should limit, not expand, government, part of which would see the courts attack governments’ passion for licensing, which is a barrier to entry in established economic endeavors.

To circumcise or not to circumcise.  For religious Jews, it’s a no-brainer.  You circumcise.  That used to be a no-brainer for most Americans as well.  However, in a trend that has managed to attract some nasty antisemites, fewer Americans are circumcising their sons.

The reason given is that circumcision dulls sensation, which is an unkind thing to do to a child.  The fact that circumcision also prevents the spread of AIDS and (possibly) other sexually transmitted diseases seems to be a less weighty consideration for those parents.

But what if you can have both?  What if your son can have full sexual pleasure without being a disease vector?  Folks, the future is here.  A very large study shows that circumcision does not reduce penis sensitivity.  Yay!  I assume this is also good news to all the men who have worried over the years that they were missing something.

It’s not brains; it’s chocolate!  Sometimes very kind people say nice things about my intelligence.  I’m pleased to report that others can share in my intelligence.  You see, the secret isn’t any inherent intellectual advantage.  Instead, it arises from the prodigious amount of chocolate I consume:

The researchers found that regularly eating chocolate was significantly associated with cognitive function “irrespective of other dietary habits”.

More frequent chocolate consumption was “significantly associated with better performance on [cognitive tests including] visual-spatial memory and organisation, working memory, scanning and tracking, abstract reasoning, and the mini-mental state examination”.

Yet another disease raises its scary head.  Zika is this year’s Ebola.  It turns out, though, that there’s something even nastier than Zika moving its way through the non-capitalist, non-fossil fuel reliant world (i.e., the Third World to which the Left hopes to reduce us) — Yellow Fever.  It’s a terrible, very deadly disease, which could have been wiped out long ago if it weren’t for Rachel Carson’s fraudulent Silent Spring, which stopped DDT from being used to wipe out mosquitoes.  (That’s also why malaria is still the world’s number one killer disease and the world’s number one destroyer of human initiative and ability.)

In a case of perfect timing, the day before the Yellow Fever story hit the news, I happened to be in my favorite used bookstore, when I stumbled across, and couldn’t resist buying, J.M. Powell’s Bring Out Your Dead: The Great Plague of Yellow Fever in Philadelphia in 1793).

The UN kills people and the CDC lies about it.  I try not to cite to Slate, so when I do you know it’s a really interesting article.  And this article, about the deadly cholera epidemic in Haiti, is really interesting.  It takes dead aim at both the UN and at America’s own government bureaucracy that tries to cover up UN malfeasance.

If you’re going to apologize, do it right.  Everyone hates a non-apology apology, with the classic one being “I’m sorry you’re angry.”  My response to that one, which I hear a lot, is “You’re damn right you’re sorry I’m angry.  And until I hear a real apology, I’m going to be a lot more angry.”  So what constitutes a real apology.  It turns out to have six component parts:

[R]esearchers identified six key ingredients that make up an effective apology: expression of regret; explanation of what went wrong; acknowledgement of responsibility; declaration of repentance; offer of repair; and request for forgiveness. By hitting on all of these components, people can craft an apology that seems thoughtful and sincere.


While some of the test apologies utilized all six key ingredients, others made use of only one, or a few. Two of the key apology ingredients were more effective than the others: an acknowledgement of wrong doing and an offer to fix the problem. The least effective, meanwhile, were those that only requested forgiveness.

Our fragile middle class.  I wrote a post arguing that one of the things suggesting that FBI employees won’t leave their jobs if Hillary is not indicted is the fact that the middle-class lifestyle is costly and most people don’t have the luxury of quitting their job and still maintaining that lifestyle.  An article in The Atlantic confirms my take on just how economically fragile the middle class really is.

Passover questions for a crazy election year. With Passover on the horizon, Sadie has four questions for the year 2016, all of which were sparked by the rumors of Ted Cruz’s infidelity:

Who profits from this tabloid talk?
Is it part of the so-called 100-day attack on Trump?
What is Kasich’s angle and how does he play into it, if at all?
Is there a cabal of other GOPers that lit the fire this past week, who want a brokered convention [read: control]? Who are they?

A member of the greatest generation Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Colonel Ralph N. Cole (Ret.), US Army, 89th Infantry Division (1943-1946). You can read about his service here. It is a most impressive story.