The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

Month: March 2008

Major Truths vs. “Minor Blips”

The latest laughable episode in Senator Hillary Clinton’s efforts to pad her “foreign policy experience” résumé as a qualification to be president is her outright lie about being “under fire” during a junket to Bosnia in March of 1996. Even the TV journalists who were with her at the time had to acknowledge it was a lie – or what she called a “misstatement.”

MSNBC quoted an Associated Press article of March 25, “Clinton ‘misspoke’ over sniper claims,” which reported her telling the Philadelphia Daily News:

“I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”

Then,

“I went to eighty countries, you know. I gave contemporaneous accounts, I wrote about a lot of this in my book. You know, I think that, a minor blip, you know, if I said something that, you know, I say a lot of things – millions of words a day – so if I misspoke, it was a misstatement.”

I mean, you know, after all, what is the meaning of is? You know? I mean, I’m really inarticulate in this kind of bind, and I have a foggy memory of when exactly I was under sniper fire, or where. I traveled so much when First Lady as part of my experience. So when you catch me in a lie – I mean, a minor blip, a misstatement – it really rattles me, you know. But I’m sure I could think clearly if I got a call at 3 o’clock in the morning about an Iranian nuclear missile that incinerated Philadelphia, it wouldn’t rattle me at all, I mean, I have all that foreign policy experience. I actually touched the red phone in Bill’s office, and that counts as experience, doesn’t it?

All three major networks have run the clips of her pseudo-hazardous landing and reception in Bosnia. The videos could just as well have been made during a tour of Disney Land.

Watching the clip of her committing her latest gaffe about “snipers” in Bosnia, and with the knowledge of her actual record – Vince Foster, Ron Brown, TrooperGate, TravelGate, White Water, the commodities profits, and so on – one can see how comfortable she is in a state of congenital dissimilitude and how effortlessly “misstatements” come to her. It is one of many vices she has in common with her husband.

Still, why would anyone think that coming under “sniper attack” in any circumstances, even if there were a grain of truth to the assertion, qualifies one to be president? How does that constitute foreign policy “experience”? (For that matter, Senator John McCain’s experience as a POW hardly qualifies him for the presidency.)

What experience can she truthfully claim? As “co-president,” she was a tyrannical, unelected, foul-mouthed harridan browbeating, arm-twisting, favor-calling, and pressuring Congressmen to push through her socialist health care plan on the country. Aside from that, she went on numerous taxpayer-funded “good will” junkets around the world.

The Daily Telegraph of March 20, in an article, “Hillary Clinton papers sink experience claims,” reported,

“Hillary Clinton’s boasts that she gained major foreign policy experience as First Lady have been undermined after 11,046 pages of her White House schedules provided scant evidence to back up her claims….The documents were made public by the U.S. National Archives [and also by Bill Clinton’s presidential library in Arkansas] after pressure from her rival Barack Obama and freedom-of-information groups.

“Many details were redacted [edited] at the request of lawyers acting for former president Bill Clinton, citing privacy and national security concerns.”

So much for full disclosure. If the papers were edited, abridged or simply censored, can they be treated as the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

The Associated Press, in “Clinton releases first lady papers” on March 19, reported that,

“In all, 11,046 pages have been made available. Nearly 4,800 pages have parts blacked out. Archivists said that’s to protect the privacy of third parties….Her Democratic presidential campaign released a statement Wednesday saying the schedules spanning her two terms as first lady ‘illustrate the array of substantive issues she worked on’ and her travel to more than eighty countries ‘in pursuit of the administration’s domestic and foreign policy goals.’”

Who are those “third parties” whose identities and privacy must be protected? Parties to other scandals, crimes and misdemeanors?

And what were those “substantive” issues Hillary claims as “foreign policy experience”? Glad-handing prime ministers and their wives. Having countless pictures taken with them and groups of children. Attending state dinners. Making speeches to charity and public interest groups. Baby-kissing. Making courtesy calls. Autographing books and other mementoes.

In 1998, for example, during a visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland, according to the Daily Telegraph,

“…[S]he and Cherie Blair, then the prime minister’s wife, were to ‘proceed to the children’s play area, where children were creating playground models.’ They were then to ‘proceed down the path where they are joined by 25 children with balloons’ and go ‘to the top of the hill and release the balloons.’”

The Associated Press article reports that,

“…[I]n her January 1994 visit to Russia with her husband, her schedule is focused on events with political wives. She sat in on a birthing class at a hospital, toured a cathedral and joined prominent women in a lunch of blinis with caviar and salmon….The Clinton campaign said the schedules are merely a guide and don’t reflect all of her activities.”

You can bet they don’t. Very likely they have been “redacted” to protect the guilty and the complicit.

All three major news networks are now concerned that the “sniping” between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is damaging the Democrats’ chances of winning the White House in November.

And there we have it: Running for president is a habitual liar and a youngish, charismatic man whose “spiritual mentor and guide” is a ranting witch doctor and who is sounding more and more like Hitler. And we all thought that it could not get any worse than President George Bush, whose favorite philosopher is Jesus Christ and who formulates his own foreign policy on advice from God.

Speaking of Senator McCain, the Associated Press on March 24 reported, in “High Court rejects anti-Clinton movie appeal,” that the Supreme Court is not unfriendly to censorship and the strictures of McCain-Feingold.

“The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday from a conservative group that wants to promote its anti-Hillary Clinton movie without complying with campaign finance laws….The court’s decision leaves in place a lower court ruling that says the group, Citizens United, must attach a disclaimer and disclose its donors in order to run the ads….Campaign regulations prohibit corporations and unions from paying for ads that run close to elections and identify candidates….The case is Citizens United v. FEC 07-953 (Federal Election Committee).”

While Hillary got help from an unlikely source, a judiciary that does not hold the First Amendment as inviolate, it is doubtful that the Citizens United ads or the movie itself would discredit her any more than she and her husband are doing themselves.

Congressional Duplicity, or Treason?

I rarely write commentary from anger, preferring a properly objective, psuedo-dispassionate approach to a subject deserving my attention. But news of the details, nature and scope of pending legislation in the U.S. Senate has caused me to make an exception to that rule.

As though Americans were not already burdened with:

• Extortionate and confiscatory taxes wherever they turn on virtually everything they earn, purchase, or do, from the local level on up to the federal level;
• Myriad regulations, controls and arbitrary rules that hamper or obstruct their productivity and their lives;
• Footing the endless bills of earmarked pork barrel projects at home in the amount of billions;
• Footing the bill in the amount of the billions for bottomless altruist and “humanitarian” pork barrel projects abroad;
• Footing the bill for an ever-expanding and ever more costly welfare state to subsidize the ill, the retired, the aged, the young, etc.
• Being held hostage by, say, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and other hostile “oil-producing” countries, because our government has decided that snail darters, sea cows, and caribou have a greater right to live than have human beings;
• Paying more for food because mandated ethanol, which reports prove costs more in oil to produce than it “saves,” in the gas they buy is taking more crop acreage out of production;

Congress is proposing, in Barack Obama’s Global Poverty Act (S.2433, based on H.R. 1302, passed by the House September 25, 2007), that Americans be delivered into a state of indentured servitude as laborers for the United Nations. Perhaps “indentured servitude” is too kind a term, for as horrendous a condition as it is, there is usually a time limit to such servitude. Slavery would be the more accurate term in this instance, for what Congress is considering is servitude by Americans in perpetuity, in exchange for nothing but the privilege of laboring to “save” the world without thanks or reward, of filling the alleged needs of others, of performing unlimited “community service” for the offense of merely existing.

The not-so-peculiar and odd thing about H.R. 1302 was that it passed the House by voice vote. This is a stratagem adopted by legislators who fear that a bill is so outrageous that it is better that no record be kept of those who endorsed it. S.2433 was passed from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in the same manner – by voice vote, without public hearings, to protect the identities of the guilty.

It will probably be introduced to the Senate for a similar, anonymous voice vote – by Harry Reid.

There is a double irony in this behavior. First, S.2433 is a bipartisan-sponsored bill. This underscores the fact that there is no fundamental difference between the Democratic and Republican Parties. Second, it is a piece of legislation which, given the altruist, collectivist premises behind it, one would have thought its creators should have trumpeted boastfully. But it is being handled by corrupt, guilty, fearful sneaks who haven’t the courage of their own malice.

It reminds one of the scene in Atlas Shrugged, when James Taggart pulls down a window blind to obliterate the sight of the Washington Monument, just as he and government officials decide to decree a moratorium on brains.

The proper American response to this evil and to its sponsors and supporters, in Congress and in the U.N., should be Dagny Taggart’s when she learns of it: “I won’t work as a slave or as a slave-driver.”

The bill’s co-sponsor is Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee. Its other co-sponsors are Senators Joseph Biden, Maria Cantwell, Chris Dodd, Dick Durbin, Russ Feingold, Dianne Feinstein, Charles Hagel, and Robert Mendez, all Democrats.

The bill was the subject of a strong editorial in Investor’s Business Daily of February 28, 2008, “Obama’s 0.7% Solution For Poverty Gets Pass from Senate Republicans.” According to IBD, the bipartisan bill would require the president

“to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to further the U.S. foreign policy objective of promoting the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day.”

The “Millennium Development Goal” refers to a United Nations declaration adopted by the U.N. Millennium Assembly and Summit in 2000 that calls for “the eradication of poverty” by “redistribution (of) wealth and land,” cancellation of “the debts of developing countries” and “a fair distribution of the earth’s resources.”

The IBD reports that

“The Millennium project is monitored by Jeffrey D. Sachs, a Columbia University economist. In 2005 he presented then-U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan with a 3,000-page report based on the research of 265 so-called poverty specialists.

“Sachs’ document criticized the U.S. for giving only $16.5 billion a
year in global anti-poverty aid. He argued that we should spend an additional
$30 billion a year in order to reach the 0.7% target that the U.N. set for the
U.S. in 2000….Sachs said that the only way to force the U.S. to commit that much
money is by a global tax, such as a tax on fossil fuels [oil, coal, natural
gas].”

The tax would be imposed not only on their production, but on their use, as well. Among other consequences, Americans would be impoverished for the purpose of reducing poverty abroad by 0.7 percent of the U.S.’s gross domestic product.

The Millennium declaration, reports IBD, also calls for a “currency transfer tax,” a “tax on the rental value of land and natural resources,” a “royalty on worldwide fossil energy production – oil, natural gas, coal,” “fees for the commercial use of the oceans, fees for airplane use of the skies, fees for use of the electromagnetic spectrum, fees on foreign exchange transactions, and a tax on the carbon content of fuels.”

The U.N. has assumed that it governs the earth, and wishes to penalize the most productive country on it for, well, being the most productive. If you never quite understood the nature and purpose of the “unification” and “global amity” plans described by Rand in Atlas Shrugged, this plan is its real world counterpart.

In practical terms, the Millennium declaration is a prescription for not only perpetuating the “global poverty” it purports to eradicate, but also for impoverishing everyone, and for perpetuating that condition, as well.

But the Obama bill does more than allow the U.N. to tax American citizens. It is more than a matter of legality or illegality. For all practical purposes, it surrenders U.S. political sovereignty and independence to the U.N., an organization most of whose members are actively hostile to the U.S.

Has the U.S. ever approved a tax on its citizens imposed by the U.N.? If it has, by what authority? Note that the wording of the Obama bill would require “the president to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy” – which assumes that the office of president is just another mode of tyranny or arbitrary power, no different from the “presidency” of any random tin pot dictatorship or regime.

There is some logic to their premise. After all, the U.S. has withheld moral judgment of every one of those countries. Long, long ago, the U.S. should have won World War II, but not participated in the formation of an organization that admitted dictatorships and other tyrannical regimes for the purpose of “peace.” Long ago, the U.S. should have withdrawn from that organization, and evicted its headquarters from this country’s soil.

But it maintains its sanction of that organization, and has paid the price for it every since.

Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution states: “Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

It would be interesting to see if this definition could be applied to the actions of Senators Obama, Lugar, Reid and the rest of the supporters of S. 2433 (and also the sponsors and supporters of H.R. 1302). Given that the U.N. has never disguised its hostility for the U.S., and that the enemies of the U.S. are legion in the U.N.’s membership, would passage of this bill by Congress constitute giving “aid and comfort” to our enemies, and “adhering” to their purposes and ends? For that is what the bill amounts to: giving our enemies the right to conquer, loot, and subjugate this country and its citizens.

Are we not already burdened by our own lords and masters of “social policy” and “redistribution” in Washington and in every state capital, without inviting the depredations of a clique of international thugs and looters?

I urge those reading this to call or email his senator and urge that Barack Obama’s S. 2433 be roundly defeated by a recorded roll call. If possible, communicate your outrage with the same moral indignation as Dagny Taggart’s.

Censorship Àla Carte

Were you a dictator, or merely an appointed bureaucrat or official charged with preserving a status quo by abridging, repealing, policing, or suppressing the written and spoken word of your worshipping but delusional private citizens’ troublesome thoughts and deeds, you would have a gilt-edged menu from which to select the best, tried-and-true methods to preserve the peace – your own peace of mind or that of your master.

In Vladimir Putin’s Russia, it is simply a matter of creating an atmosphere of spine-dissolving fear and obedience and the passage of a law or two to make it “unpatriotic” to question or criticize federal policies. At hand are battalions of riot police and secret police to knock a few heads together, or to arrest loudmouths and sentence them to long spells in Soviet-style mental “hospitals.” Failing that, they can be shot in elevators or kidnapped from their offices or residences, never to be heard of again.

Unpatriotic Russians, such as Alexander Litvinenko, who defect to the decadent West from which to slander you and your government can be poisoned, murdered, or maimed with impunity. Remember Anna Politkovskaya? Weak-willed “democracies” are not likely to insist that you or your agents be hauled into court to face indictments or charges of murder committed in their own capitals.

In China, the same alternatives are available at nominal cost, with the added perk of having the assistance of Western companies, such as Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and others to police, detect, gag, and arrest troublemakers with an efficiency that would be the envy of Caligula, Hitler, and Stalin. The unpatriotic can be shipped to reeducation camps to labor for the good of the country and incidentally be “struggled” until they get their minds straight.

In Venezuela, you can gag the press and opposition simply by denying them access to newsprint and the airwaves. Those who insist on taking to the streets to express their ingratitude and dissatisfaction with your beneficent and humanitarian regime can be dealt with by your loyal supporters, the army, and the riot police.

In the Middle East, you own the airwaves and the press, so there would be little problem with blasphemers and other sinners. Those who speak out, or behave in any immodest or traitorous manner, can be lashed, stoned to death, have their hands cut off, and the like. It is a little known fact that the Nazis borrowed a page from Islam and beheaded persons they accused of treason. (The only thorn in your side would be Israel.)

A free press, and freedom of speech, after all, are not prescribed by Allah’s will, and are nowhere mentioned in the Koran or in Mohammad’s (bpbuh!) works. (And if you are a Christian dictator, there is nothing in the Bible about them, either.) In point of fact, as Islam’s learned scholars will tell you, they are proscribed by implication in the sacred texts. Such notions are the tools of infidels to suppress and offend Islam and to cast an unflattering light on one’s minions, who are insulted in their characterization of being helpless, mindless manqués.

Here, too, one can extend the range of one’s fidelity to Allah and his Prophet by becoming what the infidels, in their perverted amusement, call “libel tourists” to sue writers and speakers in their own countries for slandering in print your faithful and gentle jihadists. You will need mountains of petro-dollars to indulge in this pastime and the tacit approval of their oil-rich eminences the Royal Family, guardians of the faith. The principal aim is to bankrupt writers and publishers, or to instill fear in them of the possibility of bankruptcy. After all, Mohammad never insisted that Dar-al Harb must be a theater of blood, violence, looting and rapine. It can be conquered and their occupants made to submit by exploiting the infidels’ own laws and courts.

Britain is the chief resort and playground of such libel tourists. Of all the countries within Dar-al Harb, Britain is the most important after America. Italy, Germany, and Spain, for example, are “in the bag,” as is the European Union. Tremendous progress in the reconquest of the West is being made all over the British Isles. Its infidel jurists are beginning to accept that there is no “Bill of Rights” in Islam. The back is stiff but it is bending by measurable degrees in the direction of Mecca, not to mention in the direction of Brussels and the super-state of the European Union. (Allow one the pun of thanking its politics for “Labouring” diligently for its submission to Islam and to that super-state, which is a willing accomplice to Islamic ends.)

Even one of the prominent servants of Satan there, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has conceded the inevitability of Sharia law (and the poor dog was mercilessly beaten up on by other worshippers of false gods, but to no perceptible avail) that would somehow “coexist” with its atheistic secular law (which is rapidly deteriorating into police-state style law, which is fine with Islam, which thrives on such politics, viz., Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other repressive regimes). The press there no longer equates Islam with totalitarianism or thought control or violence; it has done you the favor of prohibiting inflammatory terminology, e.g., referring to suicide bombers and violent conspirators as merely “Islamic extremists,” and not “Islamists,” and if one flouts the prohibition, one can be charged with “insensitivity” and interviewed (what a quaint, misleading term for the “third degree”) by the authorities if enough Muslims complain.

(To beg a question, is Islam any less thoroughly “radical” or “extreme” than Christianity, if consistently practiced? Both creeds offer eternal personal salvation at the price of suspending one’s mind, denying the evidence of one’s senses, and heeding the authority of persons who have been dead for hundreds, or even thousands of years. If you are an ambitious Muslim dictator, Islam, of course, is the true faith, while Christianity, Judaism and other faiths are merely false and punishable digressions. But there’s no reason you and a Christian dictator can’t get along.)

One instance will illustrate how mushy a target Britain has become. A British broadcaster, Channel 4, aired a libelous and filthy “documentary” called “Underground Mosque,” produced by a mercenary company, Hardcash Productions. This “documentary” revealed that Islamophobic “journalists” infiltrated British mosques and recorded, without any leave, permission, or warning, the sermons and prayers of humble clerics as they addressed their congregations. The “documentary” claimed these faithful holy men preached blood and violence to their votaries, and predicted the ultimate conquest of Britain through fair means and foul.

Naturally, Muslims who viewed this program were offended, and complained to the Crown authorities, who investigated and made public their concerns. Channel 4 countered with a suit, citing libel. But, what chance has this colony of infidel insects against unlimited Saudi petro-dollars that brim from British-Muslim legal war chests? Furthermore, Muslims have “hate laws” on their side, passed by an obliging, compliant and very confused Parliament, and endorsed by such notable infidels as Prince Charles, Gordon Brown, Tony Blair, and Ken Livingston.

You can bet that Channel 4 won’t be airing any more offensive programs!

Here is another choice and very funny morsel on the censor’s menu: In Malaysia, a poor, deluded woman, Kamariah Ali, chose apostasy over her faith and joined a lunatic cult called the “Sky Kingdom,” which held its services in a giant teapot and claimed a desire to “reach out” to Muslims in the name of peace. This is the woman’s second offense. Of course, the Koran and Mohammad prescribe death to anyone who is born into the Islamic faith but who abandons it for any reason. The Malaysian authorities were lenient the first time and simply jailed her for twenty months. The outcome of her new trial may not be so merciful. The teapot and its surrounding garden of icons and curious sculptures have been demolished.

Censorship in North America is making slow but observable progress. “Hate crime” laws have been passed in a number of the United States and in Canada, and present the dictator and bureaucratic preserver of public decency and sensitivity with numerous cocktails of suppression. For example, at New York City’s Pace University, in October and November of 2006, a student got into an argument with some Muslim students, and subsequently removed two copies of the Koran from the school library and put them in toilets. The Muslims considered that an act of desecration, and so Russian immigrant Stanislav Shmulevich was at first charged with a hate crime. The student later entered a plea of disorderly conduct and was sentenced to three hundred hours of “community service.”

It is interesting, and encouraging, that the first thing the authorities thought of was to charge Shmulevich with a hate crime, that is, with unlawfully expressing his contempt for Islam. In the “good old days” of freedom of expression, Shmulevich’s action would have been treated as petty larceny, and no formal, legal cogisance granted of the hurt feelings or offended esteem of Muslims. Some day, when the rot has eaten away at objective law far enough, people like Shmulevich will be faced with hate crime as a capital crime and certainly not allowed to plead “disorderly conduct.” They will have to answer to a Minister or Secretary of Public Piety.

Of course, “hate crime” legislation can favor not only Muslims, but homosexuals, Indians, women, the obese, the disabled and any other group whose members can collectively claim “offense” and “emotional distress” should someone publicly disagree in any form with a group’s claims to uniqueness. An ambitious dictator or moral bureaucrat would be wise to patronize these groups and get them on one’s side. They make great social blocs and fine street fighters.

Self-censorship by private individuals and organizations and the press will prove to be a boon to you in your quest for power, not to mention such bizarre laws that regulate and punish political action committees for overzealous money collection. There is a Constitution that may obstruct one’s means and goals, but no one in the U.S. seems to take it literally or seriously, or even to understand it anymore, especially the Supreme Court. So, don’t sweat the Constitution.

In Canada, censorship is making better progress than in its southern neighbor. There, the government subsidizes many film, book and sound production projects through tax credits awarded to companies whose films, books and recordings stress “Canadian” content. Such is the just fate of “freedom of speech” in a welfare state with touchy nationalist aspirations.

The government there, according to the Toronto Globe and Mail, is amending the income tax law to deny such credits to any material its “Heritage Minister” deems explicitly “sexual in nature, that denigrates a group, or is excessively violent without an educational value.” The Minister and his appointees and associates will be the sole judges of what is “contrary to public policy.” A Toronto lawyer said that the government “feels it must invest public funds wisely….They don’t view this as censorship because they say anyone is free to make the film or show or book, but not with their money.” Of course, no one in Canada has been sharp enough to issue the retort, “Whose money?” or even to question what the Canadian government is doing in the “angel” business.

It can only be hoped that Canada and its southern neighbor progress to the point that no one will be free or even able to produce a movie, book or recording without a government subsidy. That would save you statists much grief and anxiety; nothing could be said without your having said it first.

The menu of censorship is quite long. Take time making your selections from it. It is rich in practical, effective modes of action. And don’t worry about the prices. The bill will be footed by those it was necessary to silence.

And never forget your ultimate goal: to secure for you and your adherents the exclusive right to practice freedom of speech.

The Philosophic Postmortem of William F. Buckley, Jr.

William F. Buckley, Jr. died in Connecticut on February 27. Most Western newspapers and news media have bid adieu to the intellectual major-domo of American conservatism with glowing, admiring salutations.

And every one of those salutations has missed the point: That Buckley was a vile man who rescued the Republican Party from the self-destruction of irrelevancy and a just demise. Because of him, the Party was saved the task of rethinking or at least remembering the meaning of its name, republican, that is, of the Party which in the late 18th and early 19th centuries struggled to preserve a government charged with protecting and upholding individual rights to life, liberty, property, and happiness.

The New York Times, in its February 28 article on Buckley’s death, “William F. Buckley Jr., 82, Dies; Sesquipedalian Spark of Right,” noted that

“Mr. Buckley’s greatest achievement was making conservatism – not just electoral Republicanism, but conservatism as a system of ideas – respectable in liberal postwar America.”

The Times does not say what ideas comprised that system. Further on it notes that

“The liberal primacy Mr. Buckley challenged had begun with the New Deal and so accelerated in the next generation that Lionel Trilling, one of America’s leading intellectuals, wrote in 1950: ‘In the United States at this time liberalism is not only the dominant but even the sole intellectual tradition. For it is the plain fact that there are no conservative or reactionary ideas in general circulation.'”

The article is wrong that the liberalism Buckley opposed had begun with the New Deal; it began long before that, long before World War I. But Trilling, at least, was partly right; the dominant political ideas after World War II were liberal collectivist ones. Opposing them were “conservative” ideas, with the Republicans especially becoming vaguer and vaguer about what it was that they wished to “conserve.” Their vision of a limited government republic was growing dimmer and hazier, and in light of their tepid opposition to (and in many instances, of their endorsement of) statist policies, their occasional harking back to the days of freedom, liberty and free enterprise was growing more and more hollow. They had no compelling answers to the liberal ideas.

Buckley saved their necks and provided them with a “system” of ideas they could feel at home with. He persuaded a spent and ideologically rudderless conservative movement to base its political philosophy on religion, altruism, and self-sacrifice as an alternative to the “atheistic” liberal welfare state of society, altruism and self-sacrifice. Individual rights were nothing to him if not “God-given.” He was as much an enemy of freedom – and of freedom of speech – as any holy-roller Democrat. Fundamentally, there is no difference between the policies advocated by “atheistic” or secular collectivists and “religious” ones. Buckley never seriously challenged the “status quo” of controls, deficit spending, or the regulation of business and industry. He was one of the original advocates of volunteerism or mandatory public service.

The Daily Telegraph (London) of February 28 best summarized Buckley’s influence on American politics:

“Buckley’s aim was to turn the Right-wing movement in America into a recognizable, politically definable and powerful force, and to cleanse it of what some of its critics saw as leanings toward anti-Semitism and Fascism….Buckley was often credited with being the originator of the conservative thrust of the post-war years, which he saw as the antidote to the liberal philosophy which he believed had been dominant since the New Deal of President Franklin Roosevelt….[His] greatest moment, arguably, came when Ronald Reagan defeated Jimmy Carter for the presidency in 1980. The fall of Communism vindicated much of what he fought for for decades.”

It was Reagan’s tenure in the White House that legitimatised the religious character of Republican conservatism and gave it impetus, the results of which we are seeing today not only in President Bush’s faith-based initiative and in his war policy, but also in a religious revival in America that straddles left and right.

Learned, glibly articulate with a penchant for obscure words and noted for a complex, obfuscating verbosity nearly as convoluted as Immanuel Kant’s, a master of sardonic humor, often self-deprecatory, Buckley was the Ellsworth Toohey of the Right.

In the 1950’s the country was ripe for a revolution in ideas against the collectivist and altruist ideas that were steering it by default in the direction of statism. William F. Buckley proposed that ideas were not necessary. Faith and tradition were enough to save the country.

But, we should let Ayn Rand, whom Buckley in his National Review and in various columns slandered and answered with snide, sophomoric, cowardly attacks (or allowed other writers to attack her in a similar style), never daring to tackle her positions with any kind of intellectual honesty, have the last word on Buckley and his conservatism. In answer to a question in the Playboy interview of March 1964 about why she considered National Review “the worst and most dangerous magazine in America,” she explained that

“…[I]t ties capitalism to religion. The ideological position of National Review amounts, in effect, to the following: In order to accept freedom and capitalism, one has to believe in God or some form of religion, some form of supernatural mysticism. Which means that there are no rational grounds on which one can defend capitalism. Which amounts to an admission that reason is on the side of capitalism’s enemies, that a slave society or a dictatorship is a rational system, and that only on the ground of mystic faith can one believe in freedom. Nothing more derogatory to capitalism could ever be alleged, and the exact opposite is true. Capitalism is the only system that can be defended and validated by reason.”

In commentary in the New York Daily News of March 11, 1982, shortly after Rand’s death, Buckley revealed a petulance that cloaked his malice for her and for reason:

“She was an eloquent and persuasive anti-statist, and if only she had left it at that, but no. She had to declare that God did not exist, that altruism was despicable, that only self-interest was good and noble.”

In short, his animus for Rand was based essentially on her refusing to relegate reason in the role of handmaiden of theology, on her divorcing reality from mysticism, on her “anti-statist” integrating of an “eternal vigilance” against any tyranny over the mind of man as well as over his body. Let no one doubt that Buckley understood Rand’s philosophy to the core, that he feared it, and chose as his weapon against it the Toohey-esqe tactic of snickering laughter. For that reason alone, he should be damned and no respectful esteem granted him.

Earlier in that article, he remarked that the “philosophy she sought to launch” is dead.

He was wrong about that philosophy. Objectivism, or a philosophy of reason, is making progress in the culture. It is alive and well, as William F. Buckley is not.

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