This is the eighth of my reading/writing journals, a new routine of season 2 of the 13 Weeks Radical Reading Reading Regimen. Each morning I will juxtapose book excerpts with the day’s headlines and then the next day try to connect the dots. See the first two week’s entries:
- Week One
- Monday, July 8: “We Ought to Defeat Capitalism With Its Own Weapons, Comrades…“
- Tuesday, July 9: Can We Just Fast Forward to 2040? Please?
- Thursday, July 11: Researching the American Family’s War to Beat Death…
- Week Two
- Monday, July 15: Turning On Mankind’s Magical Machines To Battle Mother Earth’s Cruel Monsters
- Wednesday, July 17: ‘So, You Know How You Felt on 9/11? Yeah, That’s How We Feel When It Comes To Race.’
- Thursday, July 18: ‘… And There We Can Still Maintain Our Mysterious and Dreadful Freedom.’
- Friday, July 19: ‘Evil Always Takes Advantage of Ambiguity.’ – G.K. Chesterton
Friday Morning News Round Up:
Lead PJM Stories:
Bridget Johnson: Obama: ‘Trayvon Martin Could Have Been Me 35 Years Ago’
“There are very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store — that includes me,” Obama said, adding the examples of hearing car doors lock when you walk onto a block or seeing a woman “clutch her purse nervously and holding her breath” when a black man gets in an elevator.
This affects, he said, “how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.”
“There is a history racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws, everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws. And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case,” the president continued. “This isn’t to say that the African-American community is naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence. It’s not to make excuses for that fact.”
Ozgur Yilmaz: Turkey Descending: Updates from the Street
Rick Moran: Zimmerman Verdict: Race, Guns, and Baloney
3. If President Obama had picked up the phone and called Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, asking that they cease their inflammatory rhetoric, while issuing a statement asking for patience and harmony, the racial temperature might have been kept at a low simmer. Instead, it exploded into a hate-filled, exaggerated, near hysterical outrage, and the president of the United States took sides in the controversy by saying “if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon” and calling for investigating “every aspect of this.”
No one doubted whose side the president had taken. And in an already polarized situation, it was like throwing gasoline on a fire.
David Solway: The Snob Factor among Conservatives
Ed Driscoll: Ten Years Gone
Passions have been running high in the black community in the wake of Zimmerman’s acquittal. Jesse Jackson has called for the United Nations to investigate American jurisprudence, and has called Florida, which prosecuted Zimmerman, an “apartheid state.” Al Sharpton is calling for demonstrations in 100 U.S. cities, after some demonstrations have already turned violent. Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, is evidently intent on pressing for federal hate crime charges against Zimmerman despite a couple facts: The FBI investigated and found no evidence of racism in him, and the shooting itself does not appear to have been motivated by race. On what might be considered the other side of the black community, Charles Barkley and Bill Cosby have come out agreeing with the verdict and halting calls to keep race at the center of the controversy. Both have assailed the media’s role in using the shooting to inflame racial tensions. Obama is surely aware of what NBC, ABC and theNew York Times have done to put race into this story by now. If he is not aware, then he is ill-informed to the point of negligence.
Barack Obama had a choice, and today, he cast his lot with Jackson, Sharpton, and Holder.
In one remark, he injected race and himself directly back into the story.
Friday PJ Lifestyle Stories:
Duane Lester: 5 ‘Wolverine Vs.’ Battles I’d Pay To See in a Theater
Walter Hudson: Dude, Where’s My Flying Car?
Why do our projections of the future prove so grossly inaccurate? Some imagined developments manifest more quickly than expected. Star Trek’s communicator portended the cell phone, as its pads and touchscreens portended tablets. Yet, it also imagined we’d still be using “computer tapes” in the 23rd century. Other imagined developments remained imagined. We’re still some time away from anything approximating warp drive or transporter technology. What enables us to achieve some but not all of our imagined progress?
Chris Queen: Walt Disney And The Fight For Mary Poppins
Kathy Shaidle: Yippie-Kay-25th-Birthday Die Hard
When I was single and needed some yang around the house to balance the yin, I’d stick on my Die Hard DVD as a kind of testosterone air freshener.
I’ve been married for a bunch of years now — no, I actually don’t have my anniversary date memorized — but I would still happily screen Die Hard on an endless loop in my home, and not just at Christmas.
(PS: One secret to a happy marriage? Two TVs. Just sayin’…)
Also Around the Web Friday:
Ben Shapiro at Townhall: Why the Mainstream Media Doesn’t Give a Damn About Black Kids
While the mainstream media lavished endless attention and emotion on the George Zimmerman trial for the killing of Trayvon Martin last weekend, the body of a 17-year-old black boy was discovered on basement stairs, face down, behind a boarded-up house in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. His body was so badly decomposed that local news reports originally suggested that he had died of blunt force trauma. An autopsy demonstrated that he had in fact been shot to death. His family blamed his death on his refusal to join a gang at school.
The boy’s name was Darryl Green. Thus far, no non-local media outlet has told the story of Darryl Green. That’s because Darryl Green was likely killed by another black person.
This is the world in which we now live: a Hispanic man kills a black boy, likely in self-defense, and the media portray the killing as evidence of a brutal white power structure looking to reinstitute Jim Crow. Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC laments that the not guilty verdict in the Zimmerman trial means it’s OK to kill innocent black children. Commentator Andrew Sullivan suggests that the verdict means a return to “the era of lynching.” The cover of the New York Daily News links civil rights martyr Emmitt Till to Trayvon Martin. As John Nolte of Breitbart News tweeted, we now live “in a country with a twice-elected black president and the media acting like Mississippi is still burning.”
Indianapolis Star: State says Obamacare will force 72 percent increase in individual insurance plan rates
Peggy Noonan at the Wall Street Journal: A Bombshell in the IRS Scandal
The IRS scandal was connected this week not just to the Washington office—that had been established—but to the office of the chief counsel.
That is a bombshell—such a big one that it managed to emerge in spite of an unfocused, frequently off-point congressional hearing in which some members seemed to have accidentally woken up in the middle of a committee room, some seemed unaware of the implications of what their investigators had uncovered, one pretended that the investigation should end if IRS workers couldn’t say the president had personally called and told them to harass his foes, and one seemed to be holding a filibuster on Pakistan.
Still, what landed was a bombshell. And Democrats know it. Which is why they are so desperate to make the investigation go away. They know, as Republicans do, that the chief counsel of the IRS is one of only two Obama political appointees in the entire agency.
Culture, Technology and Entertainment on Friday:
Slate: Save the Movie! The 2005 screenwriting book that’s taken over Hollywood—and made every movie feel the same.
The fact is that making money online as a media company remains extremely difficult. As long as Internet users expect to get their information for free, it will be the data-gatherers—the Googles and Facebooks—who reap the profits while the content companies scrape by. Which is why we shouldn’t be surprised that, as BuzzFeed’s Charlie Warzel observes, the golden age of the free Internet may finally be winding down. The question is whether “freemium” models that charge only a site’s power users will prove sufficient to sustain a business, or whether eventually everyone will have to pay. For now you can get the full Reddit experience without buying gold, and the New York Times paywall is leaky. But perhaps not for much longer.
These kinds of atheists and agnostics are not content with just disbelieving in God; they want to tell others why they reject religion and why society would be better off if we all did likewise.
They tend to be vocal about political causes like gay rights, feminism, the environment and the care of animals.
Saturday Dawn Readings:
On the Saturdays of my Radical Reading Regimen I strive to reconcile science and spirituality through learning more about Hermeticism, the philosophical school that informed the development of science and the Enlightenment.
Saturday Afternoon Readings:
I decided to finish Michael Ledeen’s Tocqueville on American Character over the weekend. Here’s an excerpt from page 169 that discusses how many humans would rather live enslaved than free:
On page 178 Ledeen describes a “perversion of the Enlightenment dream” that we’ve come to know all too well in the Age of Obama:
I’ll retype and make extra large those two sentences that should be memorized by every American who cherishes freedom here and again in my conclusion:
The sole condition required in order to succeed in centralizing the supreme power in a democratic community is to love equality, or to get men to believe you love it. Thus the science of despotism, which was once so complex, is simplified, and reduced as it were, to a single principle. — Alexis de Tocqueville.
Finally, from page 202:
Quote of Note: “We are dreamers and world-shapers, and in fairly short order we will reshape the heavens as well. Neil Armstrong was only the first of many yet to come.”- Michael Ledeen
Sunday Dawn Readings:
From page 90 of Paul Johnson’s A History of the American People on the growth of the North American colonies by 1750:
Was England once a nation of immigrants too? In 449 AD? A speculation from page 78 of America 3.0,
my Tuesday book on futurism and technology that looks to the past to predict what’s coming:
Weekend News Round Up:
This Weekend’s PJ Media Lead Stories:
Andrew C. McCarthy: Will the Senate Rubber-Stamp Power’s Contempt?
I don’t believe in permanent international institutions. They serve the interests of the institutions, not the American people. We’d be much better served by ad hoc collaborations with real allies — collaborations that lapse when the transient conditions for entering them lapse. Geopolitics presents countless scenarios in which China, Russia, the 57-government Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and even our occasionally cantankerous European friends can frustrate our national interests. Why, in addition to all that, we should cede them legal rights to undermine us, and pay dearly for the privilege, is a mystery to me.
Consequently, I don’t think we should participate in the U.N. scheme at all. But the bipartisan Beltway clerisy is hyper-invested in it — much more so, I’d wager, than the public — so I am not daft enough to think we are going to pull out any time soon. That being the case, I would certainly see the sense in supporting a strongly pro-American ambassador — a John Bolton or Jeane Kirkpatrick who could be trusted in that hostile arena to pursue our vital interests and overmatch the anti-Americans.
With President Obama, in stark contrast, we have an administration that shares the U.N.’s predilections, including its desire that Americans be ruled by transnational progressive pieties, rather than determine their own destiny. As a result, I find myself unable to get worked up over which Obama operative carries out the president’s misbegotten policies at the U.N.
Tom Blumer: Offensive Expectations
Claudia Rosett: UNESCO’s Grotesque Embrace of Che Guevara
Indeed, Moore has always been the true face of contemporary progressivism, a meticulously constructed lie to the self and others, writ large. You are what you say you are, even if your actions are in complete contradiction to it. It is the politics of self-congratulation and Moore was, maybe still is, a master of it. This self-deceiving posturing may be conscious or unconscious or both, but it comes down to politics as a guilt-free get rich quick scheme cum power grab. Never mind the facts.
This emerges in Moore’s films, all of which are filled with inconsistencies and prevarications that have been well-documented. Having visited Cuba myself, his “documentary” on their healthcare system was particularly absurd, not to mention hugely insulting to millions of Cubans suffering under totalitarianism.
Until recently, however, these deceptions didn’t seem to bother the public who flocked to his films. That has been changing in recent years and perhaps the divorce is related to this.
Roger Kimball: Mitch Daniels vs. Howard Zinn. Daniels Wins.
The AP story is a sort of hit job, intended to discredit Daniels, who is coming up for his six-month review as head of Purdue University. Its actual effect, on me, anyway, was to increase my already high esteem for the man. Here is a chap that not only saved the state of Indiana from the fiscal nightmare that leftist-run states like Illinois and Michigan are suffering (remember Detroit?), but he is also someone who can spot a Communist fraud at 100 paces and isn’t afraid to say that left-wing propaganda is not the same as history and should not be purveyed as such on the taxpayer’s dime. Zinn’s book, wrote Daniels in one of those emails, “is a truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page.” That’s exactly right. Also right were Daniels’s efforts to remove it from the curriculum: “Can someone assure me,” he asked “that it is not in use anywhere in Indiana? If it is, how do we get rid of it before more young people are force-fed a totally false version of our history?”
Turns out it was being taught at Indiana University, but that’s hardly a surprise. Zinn’s exercise in anti-American agit-prop — the historian Oscar Handlin called it a “deranged fairy tale” — is far and away the bestselling book of American history in the country. It has sold more than 2 million copies and is used in high schools and colleges across the country. Again, Daniels’s response was spot on: “This crap should not be accepted for any credit by the state. No student will be better taught because someone sat through this session.” (Readers interested in a fuller version of my take on Zinn can find it inthis piece for National Review.)
Ed Driscoll: Veteran Leftwing Journalist Helen Thomas Dead at 92
Rodrigo Sermeño: Homeland Security Largely Unaware of Its Own Pricey R&D Investments
Jean Kaufman: Rolling Stone’s Portrait of an Affable Psychopath
Reading Cleckley, and then reading the Rolling Stone piece, one can’t help but be struck by the similarity between his friends’ descriptions of Dzhokhar and Cleckley’s descriptions of psychopaths. Many of Dzhokhar’s friends were deeply puzzled by the cool, chill, laid-back Jahar’s participation in the bombing, and theorized that his more conventionally depressed, angry, and jihadi brother Tamerlan must have “turned” him or controlled or brainwashed him in some way to have accounted for Dzhokhar’s going along with such a violent and cold-blooded act.
Most people would find it hard to believe that Tamerlan, the more ideologically motivated of the pair, could really just say to his brother, “Hey, want to help me bomb people at the marathon?” and that Dzhokhar would say, “Sure, why not?” But if one studies psychopaths, it is much easier to see how that could really be the case. There is no need to postulate some sort of terrible psychological trauma for Dzhokhar, nor any particularly deep influence or mysterious control Tamerlan had over him, if Dzhokhar is a psychopath. It may have just seemed like a good idea to Dzhokhar at the time, and he had no inner core of morality to stop him.
Weekend PJ Lifestyle Stories:
Self Improvement Saturday:
Charlie Martin: 13 Weeks Experiment Midcourse Report
Sarah Hoyt: 10 Weeks Of Guilty Pleasures
Rhonda Robinson: ‘Poor in Kenya Is a Lot Different Than Poor in America, Isn’t It?’
Sarah Hoyt: The Lone Writer Against The Time Masters
Susan L.M. Goldberg: Her Body, Herself: The Right Size & Shape of Girls
P. David Hornik: American? Israeli? Who Am I?
In childhood I had had some—mostly religious—interest in my Jewish identity. In my twenties I had both a religious and an intensifying national—centering on Israel—interest in it. In my teens, all that went as far underground as it could; I was interested in fitting in, being popular.
Yet among the bars to my fitting-in was anti-Semitism. I never heard it from any of the girls; I heard it from a sizable percentage of the guys. Sometimes it was light and jokey, sometimes nastier. I mostly didn’t react; the distress it caused was too deep, and any reaction would have been extreme. Being on the receiving end of bigotry is traumatic in any case; the more so when there is genocide in the background.
Rhonda Robinson: Jesus a Pharisee?
Jared Sichel Presents the New Prager University Video: The 3 Kinds of Forgiveness
Paula Bolyard: The Atheist Who Silenced the Astronaut
Charlie Martin: What the Buddha Wouldn’t Say
Walter Hudson: Learning from China’s Marriage Crisis
Certainly, we could make the case for marriage as an ideal. We could ask men to consider how they would want their mothers, sisters, and daughters to be treated, then convict them to model that behavior with their partners. But that style of argument rarely compels action. After all, ideals are inherently unachievable and therefore prove of little practical benefit.
A scriptural view offers something more. By regarding marriage the way Christ regards it, as a model of his reconciliation with the church, we begin to see it not as an ideal but as a picture of the peace we know in Him.
Also Around the Web This Weekend:
Video Via Townhall: Krauthammer: Obama’s Trayvon Speech “Not Enlightening” — The Trial Was Not About Race
The Independent: Inside Google HQ: What does the future hold for the company whose visionary plans include implanting a chip in our brains?
At Deadline Hollywood:
At the Daily Mail:
Hat Tip AH: Workers lose their ambition at the age of 35 and no longer compete with colleagues for promotion
Father of five who vanished 16 years ago and was legally pronounced dead, reappears alive and well having started a new life as a gay man
Terrifying moment: stunt men in town for Comic-Con save woman in the seconds before she jumps from a balcony
The $8.2 billion Google love rat: How boss, 58, of internet giant resisting online porn crackdown has a string of exotic lovers in his ‘open marriage’… but DOESN’T want you to know about it
He is the billionaire Google boss under fire for not doing enough to protect children from internet porn.
Yet today The Mail on Sunday can reveal that 58-year-old Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, does fiercely protect one thing: his own private life, which is as colorful and complex as the ever-changing ‘Google doodle,’ which pops up each time the search engine is launched.
In the past few years, the unlikely sex symbol with thinning hair and pockmarked skin has embarked on a string of affairs with younger women, including a vivacious television host who dubbed him ‘Dr Strangelove,’ a leggy blonde public relations executive and a sexy Vietnamese concert pianist.
Daily Mail: Joy as Aurora survivors wed on anniversary of deadly movie theater shooting to ‘reclaim the date’
“Believers: They credited their spiritual faith with allowing them to find forgiveness for the gunman”
At the Blaze:
A model who’s said she’s an evangelical Christian is reportedly appearing on the cover of the Brazilian edition of Playboy magazine in September, the Christian Post reports, adding that she apparently won’t pose nude because of her faith.
Aline Franzoi, a member of National Mission Evangelical Church in Brazil, was previously criticized for being a ring girl for Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) competitions, which some consider a violent sport, the CP says.
The first of an odd trio of sex, religion, and marriage stories at The Blaze.
I still find it strange the way tabloid, man-bite-dog type stories and earnest religiosity combine throughout conservative media. I suppose it’s the influence of Fox News.
Sharona Schwartz: Furious Bride’s Family Reportedly Cuts Off New Groom’s Penis Over Their Secret Interfaith Marriage
The family of a Druze woman who secretly married a Sunni Muslim man outside her faith dragged the new groom into the square of their Lebanese village then brutally beat him and severed his penis, according to Lebanese media reports. This because the bride’s family was so angry she had married outside the Druze religion.
The family of a Druze woman severed her Sunni husband’s penis in a horrific attack after learning of their secret marriage in Lebanon. (Image source: Lebanon Daily Star)
The victim, 39-year-old Rabih Ahmad told Al-Jadeed TV that the attackers were his wife’s father and brother, adding “they cut it off to set an example.”
Madeleine Morgenstern: Salon Writer Asks if Eric Holder Is Obama’s ‘Inner N****R’
Rich Benjamin was reacting Friday to Obama’s surprise remarks about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman’s acquittal. Dubbing the speech “safe, overrated and airy,” Benjamin contrasted Obama’s “danc[ing] around the issues” of race while Holder, speaking to the NAACP this week, gave “trenchant thoughts on the acquittal, demanding action.”
Benjamin responded to the furor calling it a legitimate question whether Holder embodies Obama’s “complex double consciousness.”
Erica Ritz: ‘Wow! We Really Do Have a Black President’: MSNBC Host Calls Obama’s Zimmerman Remarks ‘Incredible Historical Moment’
Toure remarked: “I’ve been thinking lately, do we actually have a black president, or a president who happens to be black? …This moment was like, ‘Wow! We really do have a black president who will come out and lay it on the line’… A nuanced discussion of what it means to be black, not holding back from this notion that blacks don’t feel a full part of society. A really incredible historical moment.”
Evan McMurry: Tavis Smiley Blasts Obama’s ‘Weak As Kool-Aid’ Speech: ‘This Is Not Libya, You Can’t Lead From Behind’ On Race
Smiley later contrasted Obama’s relative silence on race to the conversation to which Obama—first reluctantly and then forcefully—contributed on gay marriage.
“I don’t know how the president argues that he doesn’t believe that he can have a role in leading us in a moral conversation,” Smiley said. “This is not a political issue. This is a moral issue. I don’t know how he can’t lead us in a conversation on this, but he can on gay marriage? He can on a litany of other—he can on Israel and Palestine, but not race?”
I bet that if Toure wasn’t on MSNBC providing the establishment progressive perspective then he’d agree with Smiley.
Noah Rothman: Melissa Harris-Perry’s Delusional Assessment Of Detroit: Happens When Gov’t ‘Small Enough To Drown’ In Tub
At the New York Post:
NY food stamp recipients are shipping welfare-funded groceries to relatives in Jamaica, Dominican Republic and Haiti
Welfare recipients are buying groceries with their Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cards and packing them in giant barrels for the trip overseas, The Post found.
The practice is so common that hundreds of 45- to 55-gallon cardboard and plastic barrels line the walls of supermarkets in almost every Caribbean corner of the city.
The feds say the moveable feasts go against the intent of the $86 billion welfare program for impoverished Americans.
Michael Goodwin: President Obama now aligned with Rev. Al Sharpton on race issues
Is Al Sharpton president of the United States? Or just attorney general?
I ask because it’s not clear where the rabble-rousing rev’s agenda ends and White House policy begins. These days, they are one and the same.
President Obama erased the final distinction Friday by describing the Florida shooting case exclusively in racial terms. Obama’s headline-grabbing statement that “Trayvon Martin could have been me” and his attempt to justify black anger were straight out of Sharpton’s playbook.
Don’t get me wrong — a personal speech on race from the first black president could be a game-changer in the right context. But this one suffered a fatal flaw — it ignored the fact that race played absolutely no role in the trial, including in lawyer statements, the evidence, testimony and the jury’s unanimous verdict of not guilty. Even the FBI found no evidence of racism by defendant George Zimmerman.
If Obama felt the need to say something, duty required him to emphasize the facts instead of endorsing racial manipulation. Sadly, though, his remarks follow a recent pattern where he and Sharpton sing from the same page. Both distorted the case to paint a broad picture of blacks as victims of white racism and ignored Zimmerman’s half-Latino family.
Monday Dawn Reading:
“His father urged him to study Marxism, but Valentin preferred science.” – Ion Mihai Pacepa, Red Horizons, pg. 61.
Monday Afternoon Reflections:
From July 8th’s reading of Red Horizons, the quote of the day highlighted from page 47:
“Marx and Lenin have taught us that anything is ethical, so long as it is in the interest of the proletarian class and its world revolution.” — Nicolae Ceausescu
And again from today:
“The sole condition required in order to succeed in centralizing the supreme power in a democratic community is to love equality, or to get men to believe you love it. Thus the science of despotism, which was once so complex, is simplified, and reduced as it were, to a single principle” — Alexis de Tocqueville.
And finally, the last item that I will embed, a humorous video courtesy of The Wife’s facebook page, a description on a smaller scale of the temperament depicted in Ceusescu, Marx, Lenin, and their adherents, and masterfully diagnosed by Tocqueville:
I’ve been struggling to try and figure out the tone of what I should be writing every day in response to the oddball assortment of stories and ideas that come hurtling through the heavens to assault my mind and spirit. On the one hand there are shocking stories about violence and terror. On the other there are humorous viral videos.
This is our postmodern world — where horror and humor are just like different flavors of jelly beans in our junk food media diet.
As I’ve written about many times before — and will continue to do so pretty obsessively, I imagine — I was raised as a postmodern, progressive, countercultural Democrat my whole life and have only shifted to conservatism, “the Right,” Bible-based religion, and a capitalist lifestyle one grudging step at a time over the last seven years since my flight from the academic hive.
The shock that I’m still trying to deal with — and perhaps I’ll use this daily space to try and sort it out — is that really there’s a whole lot more evil, cruelty, crime, and violence out in the world than I was led to believe. And not just evil “out there” in faraway lands of dictators and in crime-infested, crumbling-Detroit style cities.
It’s taken me a long time and perhaps this is really just conservatism and Americanism 101 but how often is it stated this plainly: evil is normal. Crime is our default setting. War and anarchy are what we come from. This is the monkey wrench that sabotages every utopian scheme to remake our fellow man in our own idealized image. It’s even worse than the evil being “out there”. The reason we find it so much is we’re drawn to our own shattered reflections…