The Bookworm Beat 5/18/16 — the “Supremes” edition and open thread

Woman-writing-300x265This is a good, long post. Mix a martini or make yourself some hot chocolate, find a quiet place, settle back, and read away!

Trump woos conservatives. The big news today is Donald Trump’s list of proposed Supreme Court nominees, all of whom of are, in John Yoo’s words “outstanding conservatives.” As regular readers know, this list means a lot to me. I have four hot-button issues which drive my candidate choices and Supreme Court nominees are my top concern.

Although I was a Ted Cruz gal, and truly believed I was a #NeverTrump voter, once Trump became the presumptive nominee, I rediscovered my motto that “the perfect is the enemy of the good.” That notion forced me to look at Hillary and conclude that, on the issues nearest to my heart, she will cause lasting, possibly irreparable damage.

These key issues are: (1) The Supreme Court, which Hillary will pack with Leftists; (2) our Second Amendment rights, which she has vowed to destroy (with the help of a Leftist Supreme Court); (3) Israel, which mirrors our own security situation and which Hillary will destroy; and (4) Islamic terrorism, something that Hillary will probably treat in the same way Obama does, given her history of making nice to people with terrorist connections (e.g., Huma, her Muslim Brotherhood gal pal; Yassir and Suha Arafat; and the Saudis).

On each of those issues, Trump promises the possibility of something better. And no, I’m not a fool. I know that Trump promises everything to everybody but, as I said, he still had the possibility of doing better than Hillary.

With today’s list of Supreme Court nominees, Trump assuaged my concerns on both Issue 1 (Supreme Court makeup) and Issue 2 (Second Amendment). I recognize that Trump can still do a bait-and-switch (something that the pundits to whom I’ve linked also fear), but he might not — unlike Hillary, who will definitely seek more Sotomayors, Ginsburgs, and Kagans.

Anyway, in addition to the Yoo reaction to Donald’s list, linked above, here are more reactions:

From Roger L. Simon:

This list would build a Supreme Court that most, if not all, Republicans could more than live with for many years. I know there will be holdouts who will claim Trump is prevaricating and will end up nominating, say, Gloria Allred (not very likely, I think). Or that he should have Ted Cruz on the list. Who knows? Over time that could change.

But I think I can confidently say the #NeverTrump movement just took a mortal blow.

From Paul Mirengoff:

The list confirms what I have heard — that Trump’s is talking to the right conservatives when it comes to the Supreme Court. It doesn’t guarantee a conservative nominee, but it does highlight what is probably the best argument, from a conservative perspective, for voting for Trump — his judicial nominations (and not just to the Supreme Court) are virtually sure to be vastly better than Hillary Clinton’s.

From Ilya Shapiro:

This is an exceptional list. I’m not intimately familiar with all 11 judges and I don’t expect to agree with all of them on everything, but those whose jurisprudence I know well are excellent and the others have sterling reputations. These are not squishes or lightweights.

Also notable and commendable is that 5 of the 11 are state supreme court justices; not all judicial talent is already on the federal bench and the U.S. Supreme Court could use that sort of different perspective.

From John Hinderaker:

My sense is that the party is coalescing behind Donald Trump. No doubt this list of excellent judges will accelerate that process. Nothing concentrates the mind of a conservative like the prospect of Bill and Hillary in the White House.

From Jonathan S. Tobin:

Trump has shown a willingness to run to the left of Hillary Clinton on economic and foreign policy issues and has already declared himself uninterested in conservative principles. Yet the one argument that seems persuasive to many on the right who believe the candidate’s wildly inconsistent stands and thuggish behavior render him and their party unfit to govern is the future of the Supreme Court. Some conservative pundits believe that the conservative movement can survive the ordeal of four years of Hillary Clinton being back in the White House but not a Trump presidency that would transform the GOP into an isolationist, protectionist and nativist party that abandoned its principles. But the prospect of Clinton transforming the Supreme Court and changing American law for a generation is one they can only contemplate with horror. That’s why Trump’s list of 11 prospective conservative justices is likely to nudge some wavering #NeverTrump Republicans into reluctantly backing him.

From Charles Krauthammer:

I think it will have a dramatic effect [on Republicans]. The one thing holding back people from resisting Trump — or at least the major thing — is the fear of what a Clinton presidency would do to the Supreme Court. And how it would change it for a generation.

Now you get a list of eleven [potential nominees] who are quite sterling, three of them clerked for Justice Thomas, two of them for Justice Scalia, the six federal judges all appointed by George W. [Bush], which means they are conservative and they are relatively young — so this is a future-looking list.

Three other things about Trump’s nominees and the risk that he’ll renege on his conservative promises:

First, several people have pointed out that Don Willett, who is on the Texas Supreme Court and is one of the names on the Donald’s list, has been amusing himself for the last year sending out mean tweets about the Donald. I actually don’t see that as a problem. If the Donald doesn’t know about those tweets, so what? He’s still getting names from people who care about the Constitution. And if the Donald does know about it, it’s great that, despite them, he’s still willing to put Willett out there as a potential Supreme Court nominee. It may be Trump’s way of saying that he’s not as dangerously vindictive as many fear.

Second, everyone recognizes that Trump may pull a bait-and-switch.  I believe that’s a risk those who care about the Supreme Court will have to accept.  Hillary will not pull a bait-and-switch.  She will appoint the hardest Left justices she can, people who will always support the administrative state, who will always side with the government on free speech, who will do everything they can to destroy American’s Second Amendment rights, and who will generally ride roughshod over the Constitution.  When the sure thing is a nightmare, you sometimes have to gamble.

Third, apropos Donald running amok as president, here’s something to think about: Obama, as the first black president, was unimpeachable, which gave him latitude to do anything and everything. Hillary, as the first woman president, no matter how disliked she is, will also be unimpeachable. The Donald, however, will govern with a big fat target painted on both his forehead and his nether regions. If he does anything wrong, he’ll be impeached in a New York minute (and the Donald knows something about New York minutes).  Indeed, his own party would probably lead the charge.

Are Trump supporters antisemitic?  David Horowitz, a not very observant Jew, writing both at FrontPage Magazine (which he founded) and at Breitbart (which was started by a Jewish man), attacked Bill Kristol for his #NeverTrump idea of supporting a third-party candidate, who will ensure a Democrat victory just as surely as Ross Perot put Bill Clinton in the White House.  The article had an inflammatory title:  Bill Kristol : Republican Spoiler, Renegade Jew.  Why did Kristol’s Jewishness figure in this whole #NeverTrump article?  Because of Horowitz’s closing argument:

All these dishonesties and flim-flam excuses pale by comparison with the consequences Kristol and his “Never Trump” cohorts are willing to risk by splitting the Republican vote. Obama has provided America’s mortal enemy, Iran, with a path to nuclear weapons, $150 billion dollars, and the freedom to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles to deliver the lethal payloads. Trump has promised to abandon the Iran deal, while Hillary Clinton and all but a handful of Democrats have supported this treachery from start to finish. Kristol is now one of their allies.

I am a Jew who has never been to Israel and has never been a Zionist in the sense of believing that Jews can rid themselves of Jew hatred by having their own nation state. But half of world Jewry now lives in Israel, and the enemies whom Obama and Hillary have empowered — Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, ISIS, and Hamas — have openly sworn to exterminate the Jews. I am also an American (and an American first), whose country is threatened with destruction by the same enemies. To weaken the only party that stands between the Jews and their annihilation, and between America and the forces intent on destroying her, is a political miscalculation so great and a betrayal so profound as to not be easily forgiven.

In other words, we live in a terribly dangerous world, with Jews in the crosshairs of horribly evil people whom Obama, Hillary, and Bernie support.  Trump his loud in his enmity to these same evil people and equally loud in his support for Israel.  This means that Kristol’s political purity test, which has him contemplating a third-party who will help Hillary or Bernie win, runs the risk of annihilating Israel — which is a very un-Jewish risk to take. Therefore, even though Kristol calls himself a Jew, he’s not doing the Jewish thing, making him a renegade.

Ben Shapiro, an orthodox Jew whom I respect greatly for his incisive and insightful battles in the culture wars, took umbrage at this attack on Kristol’s Jewishness, which he saw as fundamentally wrong and, worse, license for the antisemites at Breitbart:

Not to get personal, but Horowitz does not speak from a position of strength here. He’s an avowed agnostic; he doesn’t observe Jewish ritual law in any way, or believe in any of the basic principles of Judaism. That doesn’t make him a bad person, of course, but it makes it rather ridiculous for him to sit atop the Pentateuchal high horse. And opposing Donald Trump for all the failures listed above doesn’t make you a “renegade Jew.” It actually makes you a “renegade Jew” to simultaneously reject all the fundamental principles of Judaism, then cite Judaism as a reason to embrace a candidate who rejects basic moral principles up to and including disassociating from anti-Semitism at home and abroad.

That said, David’s article isn’t anti-Semitic. It’s just wrong.

The same isn’t true for Breitbart.

I’ve made my thoughts on Breitbart clear before. But since my departure, they’ve become something far worse than Trump’s Pravda – they’ve become a cite that openly panders to alt-right anti-Semitism and soft white supremacism (as Milo assures us, “There are many things that separate the alternative right from old-school racist skinheads (to whom they are often idiotically compared), but one thing stands out above all else: intelligence”). This began in the pro-Trump comment section at Breitbart while I was there; now, it’s filtered up. It’s gotten so bad that even Jack Hunter, former paleoconservative, has written how the alt-right supported by Breitbart “turns you into a racist asshole”; he writes, “It’s a movement that is perpetually somewhere between race-obsessed and explicitly racist – with pride.”

What lends credence to Shapiro’s accusations about antisemitism as both Breitbart and in the ranks of Trump’s supporters is the fact that, when his second son was born, he was subject to a barrage of revolting tweets from antisemites who were, or claimed to be, Trump supporters — including Milo Yiannopoulos. This is horribly ugly stuff, and Shapiro is right to be angry and fight back.

His is not the only Jewish voice on the subject, though.  Pamela Geller, who is one of Israel’s and the Jew’s most ardent and aggressive supporters, threw herself into the fray, saying that Horowitz was right and that Jews should support the Donald. David P. Goldman’s did too , concluding that, while Kristol isn’t a renegade Jew (and he really isn’t), he’s having a tantrum and needs to get over himself.

Looking at Hillary’s unsavory friendships and Bernie’s Palestinian pandering, I’m not going to disagree with Horowitz, Goldman, or Geller. Indeed, I’ve heard from people whose political lives are dedicated to Israel’s survival and her friendship with America, that Donald is truly Israel’s friend. I haven’t reached a conclusion myself yet, but I’m inclined to trust my friends.

But here’s the important thing:  The Donald isn’t the issue here.  The real issue is whether the Donald has genuine antisemites in his wake and whether, despite his Jewish daughter and grandchildren, he’s complacently letting them get away with the most distasteful, dangerous rhetoric.

All candidates are going to attract icky people.  For example, the Democrats are the true party of antisemites in America, since they are tightly allied to the Palestinian movement, which is predicated upon genocidally removing Jews from Israel.  Sadly, the same blacks who routinely cast more than 80% of their votes for Democrat candidates across the nation are also, next to American Muslims, the most antisemitic people in America.  Democrat politicians don’t denounce this ugliness, because they need those votes.

Does Trump need the antisemitic votes?  I don’t know.  I believe that, as a moral matter, he should denounce them.

Here’s one more thought.  Before Obama and his Lefties gained political and social dominance, racial ugliness had been pushed to the fringes of American politics.  It’s now front and center, and I think David French nails the problem with his recent article about the Left’s relentless anti-white racism:

When identity politics rule, racism and polarization thrive. It is no coincidence that we are seeing a resurgence in outright white nationalism — embodied in the so-called alt-right — at the same time that America’s leftist cultural elite are decisively rejecting Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream that Americans be judged by the “content of their character” and not the color of their skin. When one side decides that skin color is a virtue, then — as sure as the sun rises in the east — the other side will eagerly agree.

I’ve seen friends and neighbors tempted by this same mindless reductionism. You hear it whenever someone says, “When do we get a white history month?” Or: “Where is the National Association for the Advancement of White People?” Or: “Why isn’t there affirmative action for white people in the NBA?” But lumping the history of England with the history of, say, Ukraine and calling that “white history” is absurd — just as absurd as linking the ancient history of Ethiopia with the modern history of Liberia and calling that “black history.” The answer to misguided identity politics isn’t more misguided identity politics.

Indeed, race obsession obscures the far more important discussion of culture. If you think, for example, that there’s a single monolithic “black” culture, talk to a recent Nigerian immigrant who’s experiencing his own culture clash — even while surrounded by black Americans. If there is one “white” culture, why are there such enduring and profound differences between Germans and Greeks?

The Left’s racial obsession has given everyone permission to air their racial grievances, no matter how ugly they are. The same man who famously said in 2004 “there is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America — there’s the United States of America,” has managed to reintroduce race (and Judaism is always treated racially and religiously) as a dominant social and political force in America. And with dominant political forces come fights for political spoils (money and favors), and with those fights come hatred and division.

Conclusion? Trump isn’t antisemitic, but in Obama’s America, too many people feel free to voice their hatred for “the other.” Trump therefore needs to step up and say that, in Trump’s America, we don’t do that. We dislike illegal immigration, but we don’t insult or hate Mexicans; we take steps to prevent terrorists from entering the country, but we don’t insult or hate Muslims; and rank antisemitism has no place, ever, in American discourse. End of story.

Whew!  We can stop Jonah Goldberg’s suicide watch.  Jonah Goldberg has long been one of my favorite writers.  I love his fund of knowledge, his insights, and his wonderfully snarky sense of humor, which infuses everything he writes.  Like most of National Review’s writers, he’s been a strong voice for #NeverTrump.  I can respect that.  I’m not a happy Trump supporter, but I’m a “lesser of two evils, perfect is the enemy of the good” voter, so I’m willing to abandon my purity and principles.

Jonah, though, is not me.  And sadly, in a Trump world, Jonah had lost his sparkle.

It’s great, therefore, to see GJonah bouncing back a bit, and saying that conservativism in America isn’t dead.  He also says that the GOP isn’t dead.

I differ a little on both of those conclusions.  I think conservativism is on life support and that the GOP has the vultures circling.  To my mind, Trump’s ascendancy has less to do with supporting Trump and more to do with turning on the GOP, which has been viewed as utterly cowed by the Left, especially the MSM.  (Ironic, really, that Ted Cruz, whom the GOP loathed, got booted, while Trump, whom Boehner loved, got the vote . . . but whatever.  That’s history.)

Anyway, I continue to believe that every one of us has the obligation to resurrect true conservativism, by which I mean a commitment to the Constitution, to individual liberty, to the free market, to strong national security, and to a color blind society.  Where we make our mistake is that we look to politicians to wave their hands, make a speech, and accomplish this resurrection.  That’s not going to happen.  It’s up to us — the conservatives in the street — to educate people enough that they will create and then vote for future politicians who are true conservatives.

How do we do this?  Believe it or not, the best way is probably to do it gently.

I’ve learned from experience that you cannot insult or browbeat people into believing you.  Sure, you can pound away enough that they’ll pay lip service, but you’re not going to change their mind.

My two mottos are “I’m opinionated, but not judgmental,” and (copying Dennis Prager) “I prefer clarity to agreement.”  Whether in conversation or on Facebook, I will always support my core principles, and explain why, but I do so without attaching scary labels (scary to Leftists that is) and without insulting Leftists’ beliefs or people.

After all, I’m not a Muslim.  I don’t need to destroy to silence opposition and kill non-believers, which is an absolute admission that my ideas are unpersuasive crap.  Instead, I’m a free market person who believes that my ideas are so good that, if I can just get people to listen, they’ll buy what I’m selling. That’s why I need to show them, gently, persuasively, and insistently, that my ideas are better.

Also, I need to draw the Lefties out on their ideas.  Again, I’m never hostile.  I encourage people to look deeply at what matters to them most, and then suggest that their core values may be better served by looking to solutions other than those that the Democrat Party offers.  Clarity so often leads to agreement or, just as importantly, to someone being open enough to reach different conclusions from those that were inculcated in them when they were young

If all of us do this often enough, with enough people, we can effect change.  I truly believe that.  And then we’ll eventually elect genuinely conservative politicians.  Trump is just a place holder to keep America from getting totally destroyed under Hillary’s less than tender-loving care.

Bernie’s inner demagogue is emerging.  As Bernie’s supporters get more frustrated by the antidemocratic nature of the Democrat primary process — with superdelegates assuring Hillary’s victory no matter the number of popular votes Sanders acquires — those voters are getting violent.  That’s not a surprise.  While the Left loves to talk about how dangerous conservatives are, whenever violence breaks about, it’s always Leftist hands at work, whether we’re talking about the riots in San Francisco when Harvey Milk’s (and Mayor George Moscone’s) killer got a light sentence; the Occupy filth and violence; the Black Lives Matter riots; the 1968 Democrat convention; or the Nevada primaries.

Thomas Lifson points out that, while the Republicans are slowly resolving their Trump-NoTrump schism, the Democrats are heading for open, and very violent rupture — so much so that the MSM, which had tried to keep the focus on Republican struggles, is finally being forced to acknowledge that their own party is falling apart.

Moreover, as Steven Crowder notes, whenever there’s violence, it comes from the top.  As I’ve tried to tell anyone who will listen, Bernie isn’t a sweet little old man; he’s an angry wannabe tyrant, whose goal is to amass as much power in his own hands as possible.  No wonder he’s getting nasty, given that he’s seeing it slipping from his reach:

According to a recent piece by Talking Points Memo (yeah, I know, but they have the sources on the left who would know), his handlers have effectively taken a step back. So everything you see now? Pure Bernie.

Over the last several weeks I’ve had a series of conversations with multiple highly knowledgable, highly placed people. Perhaps it’s coming from Weaver too. The two guys have been together for decades. But the ‘burn it down’ attitude, the upping the ante, everything we saw in that statement released today by the campaign seems to be coming from Sanders himself. Right from the top.

This should have been obvious to me. The tone and tenor of a campaign always come from the top. It wasn’t obvious to me until now.

This might be because he’s temperamentally like that. There’s some evidence for that. It may also be that, like many other presidential contenders, once you get close it is simply impossible to let go. I don’t know which it is. That would only be my speculation. But this is coming from Bernie Sanders. It’s not Weaver. It’s not driven by people around him. It’s right from him. And what I understand from knowledgable sources is that in the last few weeks anyone who was trying to rein it in has basically stopped trying and just decided to let Bernie be Bernie.

Of course, I knew Bernie was dangerous on economic policy and dangerous on foreign policy. I just didn’t think he’d be dangerous to other Democrats as well. On a very real and physical level.

Glenn Reynolds delivers a perfectly pithy summation of socialism’s fatal flaw. Glenn Reynolds has a genuine knack for honing in on core issues and rendering them in accessible language. Take his indictment of socialism:

Under capitalism, rich people become powerful. But under socialism, powerful people become rich. When you look at a socialist country like Venezuela, you find that the rulers are fabulously wealthy even as the ordinary citizenry deals with empty supermarket shelves and electricity rationing.

The daughter of Venezuela’s socialist ruler, Hugo Chavez, is the richest individual in Venezuela, worth billions of dollars, according to the Miami-based Diario Las América. In Cuba, Fidel Castro reportedly has lived — pretty much literally — like a king, even as his subjects dwelt in poverty. In the old Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, as Hedrick Smith reported in his The Russians, the Communist Party big shots had lavish country houses and apartments in town stocked with hand-polished fresh fruit, even as the common people stood in line for hours at state-run stores in the hopes of getting staples.

Yeah, what he said.

When it’s okay to lie to your doctor.  More and more, doctor’s (many of whom, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, hew Left) are asking patients if they own guns, ostensibly for health reasons.  The real reason, of course, is to find an excuse, any excuse (depression, confusion, sinus headaches) to seize people’s guns, something that’s been happening with scary regularity in New York.  For that reason, Jazz Shaw has a suggestion if you visit your doctor and get that question:

So what do you do? I normally would advise against this under any other conditions, but as far as I’m concerned you should lie. If your doctor asks anything about firearms in your home, don’t just say, “I’m uncomfortable discussing that” or bring up privacy issues. That leaves them free to interpret the answer as they will. Just lie through your teeth and tell them there are no guns in the house. Of course, what you do is up to you, but that’s how I plan to handle it if the situation arises. Leave law enforcement matters to the police and your doctor can just stick to curing what actually ails you.

I couldn’t agree more, and isn’t that a sad commentary on the America in which we now live?  (And another reason to make sure that the Supreme Court has judges who support our Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights part.)

The TSA is planning on getting rewarded for doing a lousy job.  What I love about Megan McArdle is that she’s not labeled as a conservative, which means I can put her articles on my “real me” Facebook page, and all of the many Leftists in my world will actually read her and learn something.  (If she were a “known” Republican or conservative, rather than a common-sense iconoclast, they wouldn’t read her.)  So I was able to share with them McArdle’s analysis about the TSA’s many failings — and how our system of administrative laws and agencies encourages them to be bad:

The TSA is blaming inadequate staffing, but government bureaucrats always blame inadequate staffing, since agency headcount is generally a good proxy for “importance of the boss of said agency.”


But this is the essential logic of bureaucracy. The TSA will suffer terribly if a terrorist slips through with a bomb — or even if the auditors make it through with a fake bomb. On the other hand, what happens to them if there are long lines? Not much. They’ve got to be there for eight hours, so why should they care if we are too? This is why government agencies tend to be much more attuned to remote risks than the real and persistent costs they impose on the rest of us.


This security theater since Sept. 11, 2001, has probably done less to deter terrorists than the reinforced cockpit doors and passengers’ new awareness that a hijacking could end in fiery death rather than, as security expert Bruce Schneier likes to say, “a week in Havana.” There’s a reason that the shoe bomber and the underwear bomber were subdued by their fellow passengers.


I’d bet that in the next six months, the TSA will be rewarded for the longer lines by having its budget and headcount increased. If that doesn’t fix the problem, I’d guess the TSA’s next step will be to make it look as if it did — by relaxing the screening standards once again and thereby speeding up the lines. The end result of this cycle: a bigger, more expensive agency that still doesn’t do much to keep us safe.

You should definitely read the whole thing.

Mike McDaniel is on fire.  Mike McDaniel, who blogs at Stately McDaniel Manor, became a friend of mine long before he joined me as another member of the Watcher’s Council.  He has some qualities I particularly like in my friends:  He’s super smart, incredibly well-informed, well-rounded, and nice.

Oh, and he’s a wonderful writer, so much so that I’d like to share with you two links to his blog:  (1) Racism at West Point, which looks at the Black Power salute black female students at West Point flashed for a photograph, a starting point for ruminations about race, affirmative action, and leadership.  (2) The Obamite Transgender Toilet Fixation: They Will Be Made To Care, about — as you guessed — the whole transgender toilet transaction that the Left is visiting on America when we ought to be debating issues such as the economy and terrorism. Although Mike is kind enough to link to one of my own posts on the subject, he offers a much wider and deeper analysis that I highly recommend.

Captain America offends the Left. I seldom see first-run movies, but I am tempted to see if Captain America is still playing in a theater near me. Why? Because crazed Leftist writer Amanda Marcotte thinks Captain American is a “douchy libertarian” and because Joanna Robinson, another Leftist who wants her ten seconds of fame, can’t stand how gosh darn heterosexual he is.

Charles C.W. Cooke on gun rights in New Jersey.  Or rather, Charles C. W. Cooke on the lack of gun rights in New Jersey.  This is another reason, as if we need one, to go for the candidate who may well nominate Supreme Court and other federal judges who support the Second Amendment, rather than the candidate who will definitely nominate judges who want to destroy the Second Amendment.

Don’t attack people, even stupid people, without lots of information.  It’s so easy in this social media world to find people doing stupid things.  What’s equally easy is to use that same social media to destroy these stupid people.  Don’t.  If you want to know why, read this.