The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

Month: June 2008

Galileo and Oil

As too brief a respite from the turmoil on Earth – from the politics, from Islam, from the diminishing scope of men’s concerns and the consequent meanness of their goals – I will go to Mars, to Venus, to the planetary systems of other stars via the Internet, but chiefly to planets and bodies in the solar system where Man has sent querying spacecraft and robotic investigators, just to see some evidence of success in his long-range endeavors.

Of course, I do not think our government should be conducting any kind of space exploration, except for military purposes, to maintain the nation’s security. Since every potentially habitable body beyond Earth is uninhabited and therefore absent of any property status, space exploration rationally should be a private enterprise to develop a body’s potentiality, and not just focus on mere “pure” scientific investigation and the acquisition of knowledge that can never be applied to sustain human life. But the magnitude of thought, planning, technological finesse, and commitment to achieving a rational goal required to put a single satellite in Earth orbit, never mind around Mars or Jupiter or Saturn, is something for which, for me, the words appreciation and admiration seem inadequate.

Launched during a space shuttle mission in October 1989, the Galileo probe reached its destination, Jupiter, in December 1995. Even though the craft was hampered by a faulty communications array, for almost a decade it transmitted data and pictures of Jupiter and probed the nature of some of its moons. The catalogue of Galileo’s accomplishments is astonishing.

So, it saddened me to read late in 2003 that Galileo’s mission was nearing an end, because, among other minor problems, its propellant, used to maneuver it in orbit around the planet, was nearly depleted. NASA announced that it was going to use the last of it to send the craft into Jupiter. The newspaper article reporting the decision said that this was to prevent Galileo from possibly crashing onto any of Jupiter’s moons, especially Europa, and contaminating it with terrestrial organisms.

Why? I asked myself. Why not let Galileo remain in orbit around Jupiter as evidence of Man’s achievement? I emailed the Galileo team that question. I received a brief iteration of the concern about contamination. I replied: Aside from the unlikelihood of Galileo falling onto one of the moons, so what if it crashed on Europa or Io? Given how thoroughly these probes and landers are scoured of all microscopic life before launch, “contamination” of another planet or moon would be as likely as algae growing in the super-hot oven of Venus or on sun-blasted Mercury as on frigid Europa or sulfurous Io. And that is not factoring in the fourteen years Galileo was exposed to life-ending solar radiation and cosmic rays coupled with the inhospitableness of a vacuum.

Further, why the bias against terrestrial life in favor of extraterrestrial, even if the latter were proven to exist on any of those bodies? Why the bias against it even if no life existed on them? If Western civilization lasts long enough to land men on Mars, will they be expected to immolate themselves to protect and ensure the existence of Martian microbes, or the pristine lifelessness of the Martian deserts?

I received no reply. Shortly after that exchange, Galileo was sent plunging into Jupiter, where it disintegrated and its parts were presumably vaporized by Jupiter’s heat and their atoms sublimated into the roiling, lifeless atmosphere. I recall a Jet Propulsion Lab manager announcing, “Galileo is now a part of Jupiter.”

Evidence erased.

What prompted me then to ask the Galileo team was something I remembered Ayn Rand wrote in 1969 at the end of her article on Apollo 11:

“If the United States is to commit suicide, let it not be for the sake and support of the worst human elements, the parasites-on-principle, at home and abroad. Let it not be its only epitaph that it died paying its enemies for its own destruction. Let some of its lifeblood go to the support of achievement and the progress of science. The American flag on the moon – or on Mars, or on Jupiter – will, at least, be a worthy monument to what had once been a great country.” 1.

What moved NASA to deliberately destroy one of its most successful probes when there was no demonstrable point to it, or for any “earthly” value or reason?

In a word: environmentalism. Or an infection from it. Extraterrestrial life, hypothetical or real, benign or virulently destructive, had acquired the same elevated status as spotted owls, whales and wolves on earth, possessing some extra-human value equal to or above human existence. And in any conflict between human existence and other “life forms,” it is human existence which is imperiled. Logically, ultimately, it is man who would be expected to erase himself from existence in such a conflict in deference to the defenseless, non-volitional species.

Of all the “life forms” that exist on earth (or in the solar system), man is the only one with the capacity for reason, and if he chooses to discard it, act on faith, and religiously commit suicide in conformance with that Kantian “virtue,” it is because he is convinced that the “right” of other life forms to exist overrides that of man. If the meek shall inherit the earth, environmentalists want to guarantee that they will be animals, plants and rocks. There is a crucial link between religion and environmentalism. The environmentalists mean it. To them, man is a contaminator and a contagion. Their theological ancestors are the proponents of Original Sin.

And if men exhibit reluctance to commit slow or immediate suicide, environmentalism’s vituperative priests and thuggish altar boys are here to remind them of their “duty,” or to make sure that they perish even if it means committing murder. To claim otherwise, that man has no such duty to defer or die, is to commit apostasy and heresy vis-à-vis conventional “wisdom.” Observe, for example, how scientists who “deny” man-caused global warming are shunned, ostracized, and ignored by the political and scientific establishments and the news media, and how the unthinking religious position on global warming is propagated and perpetuated in schools, in the press, in politics, in the face of all the evidence to the contrary.

What has the fate of the Galileo to do with rising gas prices and the oil industry here on earth? Environmentalists wish to destroy the oil industry – and Americans’ standard of living – in the name of their god, a nature unaltered and undisturbed by man. To say that they wish to reduce Americans to the standard of living of the Dark Ages is to grant them a partial life-premise; actually, they would prefer that “nature” reclaim the entire North American continent, and the whole globe, and that man, together with his ruins and all evidence of his existence, be sublimated and made one with nature – as a corpse.

No sooner had someone ventured that perhaps federal and state governments were responsible for rising gas prices because of taxes, environmental regulations, restrictions, and prohibitions, than the “greens” screamed foul.

“Four-plus dollar gasoline is forcing Americans to realize that increased domestic oil production is needed to meet our ever-growing demand for affordable gasoline. But even if the Greens lose the political battle over drilling offshore and in places like the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), they’re nevertheless way ahead of the game as they implement a back-up plan to make sure that not a drop of that oil eases our gasoline crunch.”

So wrote Steven Milloy on June 12 in a Junk Science report, which describes just how dedicated the environmentalists are to squelching any expansion of drilling for oil and of any new construction of refineries or the expansion of existing ones. For example:

“The Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) successfully pressured the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to block ConocoPhillips’ expansion of its Roxana, IL gasoline refinery, which processes heavy crude oil from Canada, reported the Wall Street Journal (June 9). The project would have expanded the volume of Canadian crude processed from 60,000 barrels per day to more than 500,000 barrels a day by 2015.”

“Meanwhile, in California, Green groups are working through the state attorney general’s office to block the upgrade of the Chevron refinery in the city of Richmond. The $800 million upgrade would essentially expand the useable oil supply by permitting the refinery to process lower quality, less expensive crude oil.”

According to Milloy, the state attorney general (leftist ex-governor Jerry Brown) and the city of Richmond are pulling an expensive “carbon credit’ extortion scam on Chevron. Its purpose, as he quotes an official saying, is to “protect low-income minority communities in the Richmond area, which already suffer disproportionate pollution impacts.”

Long before gas prices in the U.S. began to climb this year, a Peak Oil News report of September 2006, “Oil Refinery Capacity Bottleneck,” reported that “high oil prices [then at $63 a barrel] are still being propped up by a shortage of refinery capacity and there is little sign of the bottleneck easing until 2010, industry executives and officials discussing OPEC’s future have warned.”

“‘The need for downstream capacity is just as important as other issues,’ said Claude Mandil, executive director of the International Energy Agency at a two-day conference….”

Which proves that even bureaucrats are minimally connected to reality. That article chiefly discusses the concerns of OPEC members, most of whom want oil companies to build sixty-six new refineries. Of course, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Venezuela and other oil “producers” have no environmentalists obstructing their plans, nor are they much concerned about carbon emissions or environmental “impacts.” These are tyrannies or dictatorships that seized Western oil fields and refineries and are now lecturing especially the U.S. on the need to “conserve.”

Democratic presumptive presidential nominee Barack Obama has advocated a “windfall profits tax” on oil companies “profiting” from rising oil and gas prices, thus revealing his ignorance of – or indifference to – the state of the oil industry.

“In 2005, the head of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association testified at a House hearing that the rate of return on investment in refining averaged just five and a half percent from 1993 to 2003.”

Regardless of the rate of return that the oil companies earn, here, for example, is Exxon’s tax bill for 2007: $30 billion. That’s just Exxon.


“Existing refineries have been running at or near full capacity since the mid-1990’s, but are failing to meet daily consumption demands. Yet there hasn’t been a new refinery built in the U.S. since 1976.”

The Wall Street Journal of June 20 carried two interesting editorials that underline the environmentalist obstacles facing the oil companies and the nation. The first, “Bush’s Drill Bit,” discusses President George Bush’s reluctant concession that “‘leaving most of America’s immense offshore oil-and-gas resources off-limits was ‘outdated and counter-productive,’ and he called on Congress to end its quarter-century ban.” But the editorial also describes the natural and man-made obstacles to drilling for untapped oil:

“Federal law stipulates that an oil company must sink a producing well within 10 years or lose the lease; it often takes nearly a decade to navigate the geography, not to mention the long process of environmental and regulatory review. Or coping with multiple lawsuits from the green lobby.”

The second editorial, “Judge Ahab and the Whales,” reports that Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter has been sued by the NRDC “for conducting training exercises off the coast of California, as the Navy has done for 40 years.”

“The NRDC claims the use of medium-frequency active sonar – a type of sonar especially useful for anti-submarine warfare – might harm whales, or at least confuse them.”

Two courts have upheld the suit and the injunction against further training, thus hamstringing the Navy. The editorial stresses that both the suit and the courts are not only jeopardizing U.S. readiness, but also nullifying the Constitution’s separation of powers for the sake of whales. As absurd as it may sound, would it not be an exaggeration in today’s political climate to foresee the day, if the U.S. were attacked by China or Iran, when our military would not be allowed to respond before submitting an environmental impact statement for committee review? Of course, before the Navy or Air Force could even order its lawyers to compose a statement, we would be dead.

The environmentalists would not mind. Just as Muslims the world over cheered when the World Trade Center towers collapsed on 9/11, environmentalists would welcome the destruction of the U.S., and through lawsuits and “eco-terrorism” are working to bring it about. One does not ever hear them commiserate with the survivors of natural catastrophes, when tens of thousands die in earthquakes, tidal waves, and typhoons. One would not hear them wail over the destruction of New York, or if Islamists invaded Washington, dynamited the Jefferson Memorial, and put a match to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution (as they are doing now through financial jihad). Environmentalism is as much a religious ideology of nihilism as Islam.

Their mutual goal is to put an end to all Galileos.

1. “Apollo 11,” in The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought, by Ayn Rand. Meridian-Penguin softcover, 1990, p. 178. See also her “Epitaph for a Culture,” p. 179, in the same volume, in which she discusses the beginnings of the environmentalist movement and the “theology of the earth.”

The Year of the Long Knives: A Postscript

Here are some observations I did not think appropriate to include in Part IV of these commentaries on Barack Obama, or which I omitted for length considerations.

In the New York Magazine article, “Money Chooses Sides,” note the composition of the photograph that accompanies it. I do not think it is accidental. I do not know if the photographer (or even Obama himself) intended the tableau, but of all the pictures doubtless taken of the event, this was the one selected by the magazine’s editors to illustrate Obama’s influence. Their motive may have been mockery of the guests or unintended adulation of Obama. That is irrelevant. The picture captures the essence of Obama’s appeal.

Obama seems to descend the stairs, microphone in hand, looking very preacherly as he brings the “gospel” to the mortals below. All the mortals gape up at him with undisguised worship, as though he were indeed a messiah or savior, and are hanging on his every word. Remember that these are all Park and Fifth Avenue millionaires there by RSVP. A good political cartoonist could render the photograph to show Obama in Moses-like robes, one hand raised with an instructive finger pointed in the air, the other arm cradling two stone tablets with the Ten Commandments of socialism (the words, however, would be fuzzy and nearly illegible).

The only person not gaping at Obama is George Soros, seated directly behind Obama’s left. He looks vaguely bored but also smugly content with what he is hearing and with the undivided attention of the other guests.

Then, another point I did not dwell on, for I wished to leave the reader to make his own inferences, is why so many wealthy people are throwing their money and support behind Obama. Basically, and this is connected to his making them feel good, it is a form of penance for and expiation of the “sin” of wealth, not unlike that being performed by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. This picture was taken long before Obama “resigned” from Jeremiah Wright’s church, but one cannot help but suspect that he and his campaign managers were consciously but subtly instituting the Obama Church of Hope, Change, and Salvation.

I end this postscript with a brief excerpt from Book II: Hugh Kenrick, of the Sparrowhawk series (pp. 115-116). Political and charity events to raise money from the wealthy and the politically influential are nothing new. The place is London, the time, 1755:

Bucklad House had undergone lengthy renovations, and the Pumphretts wished to mark their completion with a concert, to which were invited a list of London worthies. Lady Chloe, wife of Sir Henoch Pannell…was the mover behind this event. A donation of five guineas per person was levied, the receipts to be given to Lady Chloe’s own organization, the Westminster Charity for London Waifs. “She’s doing her penance early,” confided Sir Henoch with sly derision to friends in the Commons who had been invited to the concert, “so that she may enjoy the rest of the season without the encumbrance of conscience. She is essentially a moral woman.”

The Year of the Long Knives: Part IV

The knives came out and flashed to sink into the very fresh corpse of Hillary Clinton’s bid for the presidency. The occasion was the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis on June 7. According to Cliff Kincaid, writing for Accuracy in Media on June 8, the conference was more a “Barack Obama for President rally” than a conference.

“Several speakers, including Federal Communications Commissioner Michael Copps, used the Obama campaign slogan, ‘Yes, we can,’ as they urged the thousands of ‘progressives’ in the audience to bring ‘change’ to Washington, D.C.”

Clinton’s offense was having voted for the war in Iraq. Also, she is perceived by the far-lefties attending the conference as a part of the Washington establishment they believe Obama wants to “change.” The fact that she conceded defeat and endorsed Obama in the name of party unity counted for nothing with many of the conference speakers.

“Meanwhile, a Canadian, Naomi Klein, who writes for the British Guardian and The Nation magazine, told the conference that Hillary Clinton’s endorsement of Obama was ‘a partial victory for the forum gathered here tonight.’ She said that Clinton was the candidate of the establishment and that her ‘coronation’ had been derailed….Referring to Clinton’s loss, Klein said, ‘Somebody paid a price (for Iraq) at last.'”

From all appearances, however, the criticisms of Clinton were mere rationalizations of resentment that she was not left-wing enough. The attendees preferred Obama because he is as far left as anyone could get without being the nominee from Communist Cuba.

Kincaid might have subtitled his report, “They Smell Blood.” While Clinton earnestly wishes to enslave the medical profession and shackle all Americans to universal health care (as does Obama, else why would Ted Kennedy endorse him?), the “progressives” at the Media Reform conference wish to sink their shivs into the First Amendment and shackle American minds. Obama as president, they believe, will be completely amenable to such a policy, and there is no reason to doubt their confidence in him. (In a premonitory echo of how the would-be wardens of our minds will seek to scuttle freedom of speech, see The New York Times article of June 12 here.)

Kincaid errs when he claims that “media reform,” such as disinterring the so-called Fairness Doctrine, would target conservatives and Republicans exclusively for statutory gagging. The gauleiters of the various tribes and warring factions and the judicial sensitivity police would gag everyone but the politically correct.

“‘It’s time to put a cop back on the beat,’ demanded Democratic FCC commissioner Copps, in framing the ‘media reform’ debate. With Obama in the White House, Democrats would have a majority on the commission,” and the new chairman of the commission would be an Obama appointee. Couple that with the predicted majorities of Democrats in both houses of Congress, and de facto censorship would be guaranteed (besides much other horrific socialist legislation; see FrontPageMagazine’s “The Democrats’ Platform for Revolution” of May 5).

“As they see it, of course, the ‘cop’ on the beat is going to be the FCC, regulating and dictating media ownership rules, enforcing broadcaster compliance with the ‘public interest,’ and control over the flow of news and information over the Internet. The latter is euphemistically and misleadingly called ‘net neutrality’ or ‘Internet freedom.'”

The fine-print catch is that federal regulation of the Internet (or of any venue of speech or expression) would be, in practice, neither “neutral” nor “free.” Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, and other “public” Internet carriers already cooperate with totalitarian governments in limiting or blocking access to the Internet. How much resistance do you think they would offer a “changed” Washington against performing the same policing service in the U.S.?

“Klein, a critic of what she calls ‘disaster capitalism,’ said that Obama’s support from Wall Street financial interests was a problem and griped that Democrats, rather than Republicans, were now getting more campaign dollars from the ‘arms industry.'”

She and her appreciative audience also want Obama to get the U.S. out of Iraq now, and to create a “Green New Deal.”

Which brings us to Wall Street and the support its denizens are giving Obama. The AIM article reveals:

“The ‘media reform’ movement has been funded by Democratic moneybags George Soros, a billionaire and convicted inside trader, and liberal foundations such as the Wallace Global Fund, named for FDR’s pro-communist Vice President Henry Wallace.”

Unlike Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, who have elected to perform penance for their financial success by pouring their fortunes into the bottomless pits of altruist humanitarianism with the conscious, stated goal of dissolving their wealth, Soros is actively funding by the millions of dollars the conversion of this country from a semi-free welfare state into a full-scale, totalitarian one. Given the rabid, virulently anti-freedom, anti-man, anti-capitalist nature of the organizations he subsidizes (and which would not exist but for his money), such as MoveOn and Media Matters, such behavior cannot stem from anything but a burning malice. He is their chief “angel” and Barack Obama’s major financial enabler.

Soros calls the U.S. “fascist,” and has likened President Bush to Hitler, but it is fascism his so-called philanthropy is fueling in the U.S. If one reads his biography or any of his political books, it would appear that he does not know the difference the Nazism he survived in Hungary and the communism he escaped in 1947. Or rather, he disapproves of tyranny imposed by one country on another, but an indigenous democratic tyranny receives his blessing. If the “people” vote for it, then it must be okay.

The Investor’s Business Daily (IBD) on September 20, 2007, ran an excellent exposé on Soros, “George Soros: The Man, the Mind and the Money Behind MoveOn.” About the man who boasts of giving away $400 million a year, it stresses that:

“He calls himself a philanthropist and has given away $5 billion of his now $8.5 billion fortune through his principal vehicle, the Open Society Institute. The institute, in turn, has passed cash on to far more radical groups, such as”

“He has handed $3.1 million to the left-wing Tides Foundation, which funds organizations such as the Sea Shepherds, Earth First! and the Ruckus Society, that have condoned or engaged in eco-terrorism.”

“He also gave at least $150,000 to ACORN (the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), the left-wing group best known for pushing minimum wage hikes, for illegal-immigrant amnesty and harassing Wal-Mart.”

“Soros additionally finances groups best described as helpful to terrorists. Since 1998, he has given the American Civil Liberties Union $5 million to empower criminals, including lawsuits on behalf of terrorists’ ‘civil rights.’ Soros’ Open Society Institute gave $20,000 for the legal defense of radical attorney Lynne Stewart. She was convicted in 2002 of abetting jailed terrorists after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.”

In one of its closing remarks, the IBD editorial concludes:

“…[P]ick any cause that seeks to weaken the U.S. and it’s not hard to find Soros’ name on its list of financial backers. Most of these causes are financed by relatively small amounts, but that’s all that’s needed to make trouble. And without the cash, countless bad ideas would have no presence in American political debate at all.”

Nor would there be any Barack Obamas to tout such bad ideas with a “passion” and “sincerity” that disguises their fundamental evil. Obama would have no presence in that debate if it were not for the gifts that keep on hurting the U.S. from the likes of Soros.

Naomi Klein need not worry that support for Obama by Wall Street financial interests will corrupt her messiah. A man with no first-hand convictions, or who is a patchwork quilt of second-hand beliefs, can be influenced, but not corrupted. How can one corrupt a vacuum? And George Soros is not Obama’s only enabler.

A New York Magazine article of April 16, 2007, “Money Chooses Sides,” reveals the kinds of men and their money who have funded the Obama and Clinton campaigns. It drools over the pecking order of fund-raisers among the wealthy and the politically connected, in a sliding scale that begins with Soros and descends to the mere millionaires. Most of them are investment bankers, hedge fund managers, or executives of financial institutions. The article focuses on Obama’s and Clinton’s efforts to raise enough to fund their primary campaigns.

It is a disgusting exposé of the low caliber of men – every one of them a people-oriented, amoral pragmatist – who would loose a dictator on the country without a second thought. Most of the men who are willing to donate to Obama’s campaign or work to raise millions for it do it because Obama makes them feel good. He’s against the war in Iraq, he’s for “change,” he’s for “elevating” the tone of politics. Not once in the entire article does any one of them express an idea.

The New York Magazine article offers several portraits. Here is one of Robert Wolf, CEO of UBS Americas:

“What Wolf, 45, was looking for was a candidate who could change the tenor of our politics. ‘I’d like my children to soon see a president give a State of the Union address and have both parties applaud,’ he tells me. But Wolf was looking, too, for a campaign where his presence would be ‘impactful,’ for a candidate who would take his calls, listen to his ideas. He wanted to feel the love. And while Wolf refuses to speak ill of Clinton, it’s clear he doubted that, no matter how much dough he raised, he’d ever be feeling it from her.” (Italics mine.)

When Wolf had a private dinner with Obama, Wolf gushed: “I felt so honored to be sitting down with him for two hours on an occasion like that [when Bush announced the troop surge in Iraq.], knowing that he was going off to be interviewed on television later.”

Translation: “The rock-star messiah touched me! He deigned to dine with me! He loves me! He won’t hurt me when he’s in office!”

Wolf might sing a different song if Obama and his “changed” Washington decide that the government should regulate all commercial investments and speculation. Hitler “loved” his industrialist and banking supporters, too, but, as Leonard Peikoff notes in The Ominous Parallels: The End of Freedom in America, he proceeded to fit them with the fetters of National Socialism when he assumed power. (See p. 247, Stein & Day hardcover.) I say might, because Wolf and his fund-raising colleagues, including George Soros, may on the other hand feel very comfortable with the arrangement.

Comfortable, but keeping a wary eye out for the long knife that is always, and necessarily – given the nature of power politics – somewhere behind someone’s back, one reserved especially for friends, supporters, and other useful and thoughtless idiots.

The Year of the Long Knives: Part III

Describing the political climate of Weimar Germany in Hitler, 1889-1936: Hubris, Ian Kershaw notes that Germany was “a Republic without republicans.” One could just as well say that of the United States today, our republicans being of the intellectual and moral caliber of the Founders but who are entirely absent from the modern American political universe. No politician today advocates life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness; the Declaration of Independence and the original Constitution, sans the statist amendments to it, may as well be indecipherable Turkish runes.

A friend noted that while the Democrats wish to destroy the American Revolution, the Republicans seem to have forgotten it ever happened, which explains not only why they have never been able to defend it, but have been complicit in its steady destruction. Republican presidential candidate John McCain is not any kind of reactionary alternative to Barack Obama. If the current political environment can be likened to a coin, then heads it is altruist, tails it is collectivist, and McCain is simply the ridged edge on its side.

Noting the appeal of Hitler early in his career, Kershaw writes:

“The crowds that began to flock in 1919 and 1920 to Hitler’s speeches were not motivated by refined theories. For them, simple slogans, kindling the fires of anger, resentment, and hatred, were what worked. But what they were offered in the Munich beerhalls was nevertheless a vulgarized version of ideas which were in far wider circulation.” (p. 137)

Ideas, however, notes Kershaw, “held no interest for Hitler as abstractions. They were important to him only as tools of mobilization.”

To date, has there been any measurable difference between that and what has passed for “debate” between any of the current presidential candidates? Other than the usual bromides, clichés, and populist tripe widely circulated in our schools, the news media, and in the culture in general (e.g., universal health care, taxing corporate profits, “fighting” global warming), has Clinton, Obama or McCain enunciated a single idea?

I challenge anyone to find any substance in the following excerpts from Obama’s speech to Virginia’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Richmond, on February 9:

“Each of us running for the Democratic nomination agrees on one thing that the other party does not – the next President must end the disastrous policies of George W. Bush. And both Senator Clinton and I have put forth detailed plans and good ideas that would do just that.”

What policies of Bush have been disastrous? What detailed plans and good ideas would end them? Would more controls and regulations of the economy correct Bush’s and Congress’s controls and regulations? Would the Democrats have fought the “war on terror” any differently from the Republicans? Would our foreign policy have meant more or less appeasement of our committed enemies? As Ayn Rand would put it: Blank out.

“But I am running for President because I believe that to actually make change happen – to make this time different than [sic] all the rest – we need a leader who can finally move beyond the divisive politics of Washington and bring Democrats, Independents, and Republicans together to get things done. That’s how we’ll win this election, and that’s how we’ll change this country when I am President of the United States.”

What change? Isn’t “divisive” politics a good thing, as opposed to one-party rule with no dissension or opposition permitted? Is everyone supposed to put aside his principles and convictions and mobilize for “national unity”? In all of his rhetoric, Obama employs the same appeal to emotion that Hitler employed all throughout his career. The similarities are spine-tinglingly ominous: Kershaw writes:

“While Hitler basically appealed to negative feelings – anger, resentment, hatred – there was also a ‘positive’ element in the proposed remedy to the proclaimed ills. However platitudinous, the appeal to restoration of liberty through national unity, the need to work together of ‘workers of the brain and hand,’ the social harmony of a ‘national community,’ and the protection of the ‘little man’ through the crushing of his exploiters, were, to go from the applause they invariably produced, undeniably attractive propositions to Hitler’s audiences. And Hitler’s own passion and fervor successfully conveyed the message – to those already predisposed to it – that no other way was possible, that Germany’s revival would and could be brought about; and that it lay in the power of ordinary Germans to make it happen through their own struggle, sacrifice, and will. The effect was more that of a religious revivalist meeting than a normal political gathering.” (p. 150, Italics mine)

There are no substantive differences between Obama’s rhetoric and Hitler’s. Or even between Hillary Clinton’s and Hitler’s. Hillary also views society as an organic whole ripe for “remodeling.” All three regard the individual as a part of that “social organism” who would be permitted his few peccadilloes but otherwise answerable to society or the State. Substitute a few appropriate words, and Kershaw’s description could just as well be of Obama’s rhetorical technique.

Are not many voters drawn to Obama’s “passion and fervor,” are they not “predisposed” to “change,” do they not want to help “make it happen”? Have so many been brainwashed and indoctrinated into believing they are “little” enough to deserve the protection and guidance of the state? Is listening to Obama a form of religious “rapture”? As for the “restoration of liberty,” what the Germans got in exchange for “helping to make it happen” certainly was not liberty. Doubtless the concept of liberty is as empty and meaningless to Obama as it was to Hitler (as it was to countless Germans).

Senator Ted Kennedy wielded his own “long knife” and stabbed Hillary Clinton in the back by endorsing Obama. Unless one thought this was Kennedy’s perverted way of bolstering Clinton’s chances, his knowing that his endorsement was the kiss of death – given Kennedy’s known reputation for collectivist elitism, venality and corruption – the endorsement made sense. If there was one way he could punish America for not going socialist at his beck and call, it was to back the man he believes could deliver on that vengeance. Kennedy’s endorsement was a major signal to other prominent Democrats that they should follow suit. And they did.

Another “kiss of death” endorsement came from ailing Fidel Castro of Communist Cuba. In a newspaper column he stated that he had “no personal rancor” toward Obama, but “if I defended him I would do a huge favor for his adversaries.” Shrewd policy. Keep the cat in the bag.

Yet another “kiss of death” endorsement came from Ahmed Yousef, a political advisor to Hamas, the terrorist organization and now government of the Palestinians, who last month opined:

“We like Mr. Obama and hope that he will win the election. I do believe that Mr. Obama is like John Kennedy, a great man with great principles. He has a vision to change America, to make it in a position to lead the world community, but not with domination and arrogance.”

None of these dubious endorsements has troubled Obama, the news media, or the Ivy League. One large segment of the American population that finds Obama just as compelling and attractive is academia. There are few “republicans” in this venue, but plenty of Marxists, existentialists, left-liberals, deconstructionists, and multiculturalists who also condemn the U.S.’s “domination and arrogance,” and the U.S. as a free country as a matter of habit.

“Barack Obama appears to be winning the faculty lounge straw poll – his presidential campaign is cultivating academics and pacing the field in collecting cash from them,” reported the Politico site last August in a report, “Professors have a crush on Obama.”

“Obama, whose website features an ‘Academics for Obama’ page, raised nearly $1.5 million in the first half of the year [2007] from people who work for colleges and universities, according to an analysis of campaign finance data by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.”

In the Politico report, Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political science professor, said that Obama seems to have “a special appeal among academics, particularly those at four-year institutions. Even at places like UVA, which are more conservative than most, it’s overwhelmingly Obama.”

Sabato went on to explain that the Democrats can always count on academics to contribute money and to vote the straight Party ticket, and so are not courted as vigorously as are wealthy donors.

On April 2, Michael Barone, a political commentator, in an exhaustive analysis of the Democratic primaries, “In Terms of Geography, Obama Appeals to Academics and Clinton Appeals to Jacksonians,” provided a clue to why academics are so reliable:

“Academics and public employees (and of course many, perhaps most, academics in the United States are public employees) love the arts of peace and hate the demands of war. Economically, defense spending competes for the public-sector dollars that academics and public employees think are rightfully their own. More important, I think, warriors are competitors for the honor that academics and public employees think rightfully belongs to them.”

There is no need to burden most American academics with “refined theories,” either. They will settle for a vulgar slogan over a syllogism any day. They are already committed to “remodeling” and “changing” America, and have been imparting those imperatives to students for decades. Barack Obama was one of those students.

The fourth and final part of this commentary will focus on the capitalist “big money” behind Obama.

The Year of the Long Knives: Part II

Discussing Adolf Hitler’s rise from a “provincial hot-head and rabble-rouser” in the 1920’s to his electrifying effect on “disaffected” Germans in Hitler, 1889-1936: Hubris, Ian Kershaw poses the paradox of how, among countless other “hot-heads” and “rabble-rousers” of the time, Hitler was so successful in establishing a rapport of anger and hatred, and then solves it at the same time:

“This in itself suggests that what had changed above all was the milieu and context in which Hitler operated; that we should look in the first instance less to his own personality than to the motives and actions of those who came to be Hitler’s supporters, admirers, and devotees – and not least his powerful backers – to explain his first breakthrough on the political scene. For what becomes clear – without falling into the mistake of presuming that he was no more than the puppet of the ‘ruling classes’ – is that Hitler would have remained a political nonentity without the patronage and support he obtained from influential circles in Bavaria. During this period, Hitler was seldom, if ever, master of his own destiny. The key decisions – to take over the party leadership in 1921, to engage the putsch adventure in 1923 – were not carefully conceived actions, but desperate forward moves to save face – behavior characteristic of Hitler to the end.” (pp. 132-133)

Senator Barack Obama, former Illinois state senator, former senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, and junior doyen of the Chicago welfare and community services machine, is also such a political nonentity – one of among dozens in the political spectrum who hanker for the limelight and the power – who could not have risen to the top of the Democratic Party establishment without the patronage, endorsement and support of influential circles within and outside the Party. It is because he is such a zero – a zero willing to be anything to all – that he was picked, groomed and promoted to run for the office of President of the United States. Regardless of the image Obama projects, that of an independent force master of his own destiny – and it is a manufactured image, to be sure – it is the nature of modern American politics that he could not have moved a single square on that chessboard without being covered by more powerful pieces.

Why would he among all those others be chosen to become the point man for the collectivist movements that wish to take full control of the country? Because he is malleable, chimerical, and can be virtually anything to anyone who claims to be a victim of something. Also, he has demonstrated his ability to overcome his many liabilities with the cooperation of a fawning news media.

For one thing, he is deceitful. He has denied being a Muslim and has emphasized his Christian background, or has alternately downplayed his youthful Muslim studies. Well, according to Islam, once a Muslim, always a Muslim, even in a state of apostasy, even if one converts to another faith but retains the full name of Barack Hussein Mohammed Obama. But, this is not important. What is important is that he thinks it is enough of a liability that he is willing to fudge on the truth. Daniel Pipes discusses in detail Obama’s religious background in a FrontPage article of April 29, “Barack Obama’s Muslim Childhood.”

Another liability is his family history. He is obviously of mixed racial parentage, but that is neither here nor there. Also irrelevant is whether or not his mother, “Stanley” Ann Dunham, and his father, Barack Obama Sr., were ever married in Hawaii or elsewhere. There is a record of their divorce (Obama Sr. left Ann and Barack to pursue a degree at Harvard, and then returned to Kenya) but no record of their marriage. Barack Junior’s mother later married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian oil manager and practicing Muslim, which accounts for Obama’s time in Jakarta. They were divorced in the late 1970s. Obama has a half-sister, Maya, of whom nothing has ever been said by him, but he has “advertised” his relatives in Kenya.

Obama has claimed that his mother was the daughter of a conservative Methodist or Baptist family from Kansas. However, her parents were left-wingers whose Unitarian church near Seattle was so sympathetic to communism that it was nicknamed “the little red church.”

Obama’s mother also attended a high school near Seattle that was notorious enough to be investigated by the House Un-American Activities Subcommittee for its connections to the American Communist Party. Here Ann Dunham absorbed literature-destroying “critical theory” and Karl Marx, and was so influenced by the leftist curriculum that she became and remained a radical leftist. Doubtless young Barack was exposed at home to nothing but his mother’s political opinions, in addition to “black” history and “black” literature. It would account for his knee-jerk collectivist rhetoric. And, it would not be much of a stretch of the imagination to suppose that, had Ann Dunham ever attended stateside universities, she might have become a member of the Students for a Democratic Society or the Weather Underground. But, see her “public service” career here.

She would have been old enough and “revolutionary” enough to join the likes of Mark Rudd, the SDS or Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn of the Weather Underground. Doubtless she cheered them on from afar as they protested the Vietnam War, brought anarchy to America’s streets with demonstrations, and eventually turned to terrorist bombings of the Capitol building, the Pentagon, and the State Department. She did not get to meet Ayers and Dohrn, two of the Weathermen terrorists yet to be charged with the bombing murder of a San Francisco policeman, but her son “Barry” did. They are friends of his and pillars of Chicago’s left-liberal establishment, Ayers a “distinguished professor” of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago and sometime education advisor to Mayor Richard Daley, Dohrn associate professor of law at Northwestern University School of Law and director of Northwestern’s Children and Family Justice Center.

Ayers still serves on the board of the Woods Fund, a Chicago-based charity that develops community groups to help the poor (echoes of Saul Alinsky again), as had Obama for nine years until 2002. Ayers, however, claims Obama, is just “a guy who lives in my neighborhood.” Ayers promoted Obama in a 1995 fundraiser when he ran for the state senate. Nice neighbors if you can get them.

Obama complained when someone brought up his close association with Ayers that “the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago when I was 8 years old, somehow reflects on me and my values, doesn’t make much sense.” Well, yes, it does make sense. Ayers and Dohrn should have served hard time for their actions, just as Ted Kennedy, now the patriarch of the American Borgias, should have served hard time for manslaughter. Both Obama and Hillary Clinton have a penchant for having close “associations” with lawbreakers who later teach law and justice or become lawmakers.

Obama was a close friend and political crony of Alice Palmer, a black Illinois state senator from 1990 to 1995, and an open admirer of the Soviet Union who served on the board of the World Peace Council, a Soviet front. Obama, Ayers, and Dohrn often attended political meetings at Palmer’s Chicago home. Just neighbors.

(Hillary Clinton also has radical terrorist skeletons rattling in one of her many scandal-stuffed closets, the ones whose criminal sentences her husband commuted in his last days of office, before they both made off with the White House silverware and other public valuables – but that’s another story. Click here for that episode.)

After he had unofficially won the Democratic race for the nomination, on June 4 Obama broadcast a message of triumph to his supporters, which said, among other things:

“It’s going to take hard work, but thanks to you and millions of other donors and volunteers, no one has ever been more prepared for such a challenge.”

Prepared, that is, “to turn the page on the policies of the past and bring new energy and new ideas to the challenges we face…This is our moment. This is our time.” Obama’s chief deceit is that he is just a clean-cut knock-off of John F. Kennedy of yore, loaded with good intentions and plausible-sounding solutions to everything.

Prepared? Michelle Malkin cites some instances of just how ill-prepared Obama is. Click here for a measure of his wisdom and respect for the truth. Did you know there were fifty-seven states in the union?

One of British playwright Terence Rattigan’s early plays was a satire on Hitler, Follow My Leader. Unfortunately, what is happening in America today is not satire. Barack Obama wishes the country to follow his lead. Regrettably, there are too many Americans ready and willing to.

Part Three of this commentary will delve into Obama’s political “angels.” The fourth and final part of this commentary will focus on the capitalist “big money” behind Obama.

The Year of the Long Knives: Part I

Night of the Long Knives (June 30, 1934): Purge of Nazi leaders by Adolf Hitler. Fearing that the paramilitary SA [“Assault Division”] had become too powerful, Hitler ordered his elite SS [the paramilitary “Protective Echelon”] guards to murder the organization’s leaders, including Ernst Rohm [head of the SA]. Also killed that night were hundreds of other perceived opponents of Hitler, including Kurt von Schleicher and Gregor Strasser. (Britannica Concise Encyclopedia)

Now that Barack Obama has unofficially won the Democratic presidential nomination, it is time to place this ambitious man under a microscope for closer examination. In a morbid sense, it has been instructive watching the two contending power lusters, Senator Hillary Clinton and Senator Obama, slash and gouge each other over what has seemed endless months of vying for the nomination, the one touting her alleged “experience” and the other touting his alleged political “innocence” and desire for “change.”

So strong is their appetite for supreme political power that each has been willing to say anything, do anything, deny anything. Each has purged his campaign of supporters and workers and past associates, all of whom at various points in the primaries embarrassed the candidates or jeopardized their chances with the electorate and the party delegates.

And each has committed numerous memorable gaffs in speeches and off-the-record comments, gaffs that revealed either their ignorance of facts and of history and even of geography, or a willingness to lie in the rush to preserve a patina of veracity, experience, and trustworthiness.

Unlike the nocturnal bloodletting of the Nazis, the candidates’ purgings have been public and bloodless and will continue to be that right up to the November national election. But, it will be purging nonetheless, all for the sake of maintaining images and stances of originality, wisdom and farsightedness. Obama has the most to purge. And unlike Rohm and Strasser, who charged Hitler with abandoning socialism in favor of a “personality cult,” Obama will continue to purge anyone who provides substantive evidence that, beneath his glib but vapid rhetoric and blasé promises, he is promoting full-scale socialism, and that promoting it has always defined his political activism and ambition.

The “untouchables” are not completely cast out as liabilities, however, and will not mind the ostracism. They will simply stay out of sight until Obama thinks it opportune to invite them back into the open (if and when he wins the White House). It is important to remember that while Obama has “repudiated” them in nationally broadcast public ablutions, they have not repudiated him. Neither Rev. Jeremiah Wright nor Father Michael Pfleger has publicly cursed Obama for calling their ranting sermons “disgusting,” nor has any black or white liberal supporter of Obama upbraided him for discarding the racist, rabble-rousing clerics. This fact seems to have eluded his supporters and the news media, who are giddily eager to absolve him of any wrong-doing, misconduct, or having had a less than sterling past and political career. It is another form of Kennedy or Clinton idolization, one that sweeps all evidence of scandal, criminal behavior, and malfeasance beneath an impenetrable rug of irrelevancy. He makes us feel good, so never mind his “missteps.”

Why link an infamous chapter of Nazi history to any discussion of Barack Obama’s character and political aspirations? Because the parallels of his rise in politics and that of Hitler’s in Germany are too eerie in their particulars to ignore. To be sure, Obama’s rise has been, in terms of violence, betrayal, and criminal skullduggery, entirely blameless. Never mind his early career as a “community” advocate, activist, and ward-heeler in Chicago and his somewhat lackluster but leftist record in the Illinois legislature and the U.S Senate. Obama himself is a man of no convictions, and a man of no convictions, as a consummate second-hander, will adopt the “greatest good for the greatest number” as his moral compass, whether or not he is running for office.

A man with no sense of self-identity will become what others wish him to be, or what he believes others wish him to be. The empty vessel will naturally gravitate to crowds to be filled to the brim with their hopes, dreams, wishes, sores and frustrations. Only then will he feel complete. He will become their servant, their icon, to be placed on an altar to be worshipped and prayed to in self-effacing idolatry.

So it is with Obama. It helps to explain why so many Americans are excited by him, and why he exudes a confidence not evident in any of the other candidates. His admirers cannot be excited by him because of his ideas; he has not expressed anything as solid as an idea (and clichés, bromides and populist tripe are not ideas), and his confidence grows as the number of his admirers and supporters grows.

Obama has not deliberately posed as a miracle-working Messiah who promises to cure all ills for all complainants; that is how his supporters and most of the news media view him, but he is willing to meet them halfway. And his race, fundamentally, is immaterial, regardless of what importance others attach to it. Virtually every other candidate has mouthed the same bromides, clichés, and populist tripe as Obama. Why they have worked for Obama and not much for anyone else (especially not for Hillary Clinton, whose sincerity is transparently phony and calculating) can be ascribed to his “charisma,” his public speaking skills, and the apparent sincerity of the “feelings” behind his words.

Feelings. This is the key to understanding Obama’s appeal. Ian Kershaw, noted biographer and professor at the University of Sheffield, wrote a two-volume biography of Hitler that is distinguished from other such biographies in that it not only dissects Hitler, but the German culture that made him possible, and indicts both. It is the only non-Objectivist biography of Hitler that comes near to Dr. Leonard Peikoff’s The Ominous Parallels: The End of Freedom in America (1982) by offering a philosophical explanation for the Nazi phenomenon (it stops just short of reaching the same conclusions). Kershaw, in Hitler, 1889-1936: Hubris (1998), makes a number of important observations about how and why Hitler was able to succeed, first in rising through the tumultuous politics of the 1920’s, then in seizing power with the approval of the political establishment and the electorate.

“It was as a propagandist, not as an ideologue with a unique or special set of political ideas, that Hitler made his mark in these early years. There was nothing new, different, original, or distinctive about the ideas he was peddling in the Munich beerhalls. They were common currency among the various völkisch groups and sects and had already been advanced in all their essentials by the pre-war Pan-Germans. What Hitler did was to advertise unoriginal ideas in an original way. Others could say the same thing but make no impact at all. It was less what he said, than how he said it that counted.” (“The Beerhall Agitator,” p. 133.)

Hillary Clinton can advocate “national unity,” “change that matters,” “working together,” “social justice” and all the other unoriginal floating abstractions as often as can Obama, but make no lasting impression, because she has never been able to communicate sincerity. Obama can make that impression, especially when he couches those vague “yearnings” in what Saul Alinsky, the Chicago sometime communist community activist whom both Clinton and Obama have emulated in terms of applying his political tactics, called “middle class language.” (Alinsky’s influence on Clinton and Obama is discussed in “Hillary Clinton’s Uncle Ellsworth” and its “Postscript,” August 8 and 10 respectively.)

In the contest for the Democratic nomination, Obama more successfully applied Alinsky’s “principles” of political activism than did Clinton. Clinton has always talked down to her supporters and would-be voters; Obama talks to his supporters and would-be voters as an equal with many things in common with them. That is his subtle but no less calculating posture of camaraderie with the “oppressed” and “disenfranchised.”

Kershaw shortly afterwards explains the confidence Hitler exuded.

“…[T]he response of the beerhall crowds – later the mass rallies – gave him the certainty, the self-assurance, the sense of security, which at this time he otherwise lacked.”

Similarly, Obama almost glows when facing a wildly enthusiastic crowd. In one-on-one interviews with television reporters, however, he is soberingly banal and nondescript, almost as much as is Republican candidate John McCain.

Part Two of this commentary will examine the phenomenon of Obama’s abrupt appearance on the national stage. The parallels there are also frighteningly eerie. Part Three of this commentary will delve into Obama’s political “angels.” The fourth and final part of this commentary will focus on the capitalist “big money” behind Obama.

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