The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

Month: February 2013

House of Cards: Bewitched by Power

Fair
is foul, and foul is fair. Hover through the fog and filthy air.
– The Three
Witches. The Tragedy of Macbeth, by
Williams Shakespeare.*

Paraphrasing
Macbeth, the American and British versions of “House
of Cards” exist in the “borrowed robes” of the play itself. As I
indicated in “House of Cards: An American Macbeth,”
the American version is an overlay of the original British version, but both
owe their plots and principal characters to Shakespeare’s tragedy, even down to
Lady
Macbeth and the three witches. The three works invite comparison.

It
should also be noted that all three works owe their plots to Greek tragedy, but
that topic, while tempting to explore, is beyond the scope of this column. And,
a warning: Plot spoilers ahead.

It
might be fair to claim that “House of Cards” bears a closer
resemblance to Shakespeare’s The Tragedy
of King Richard the Third
than to Macbeth.
But in Richard the Third, while Richard
was as ruthless in murdering his way to the English throne as Macbeth was to
the Scottish throne, major elements and parallels are missing but which are
present in Macbeth and “House of
Cards.”

For
one thing, Richard murders the legitimate heirs to the English throne and their
relations, while Macbeth flails about murdering anyone or having them murdered
– fellow soldiers, their families, guards – who might incriminate him for the
murder of Duncan, the king of Scotland. For another, Richard plotted his
murders alone, while Macbeth is encouraged in his murders by the witches, by his
wife, Lady Macbeth, and by the praising flattery of his colleagues.

For
another, Richard the Third is not seeking vengeance against the king for having
reneged on a promise. He’s merely feeling neglected and shunned and bored with
the new peace. Macbeth, on the other hand, has a bug planted in his head by the
three witches who prophesize that he will be the king. It acts as a kind of
Stuxnet virus that compels him to fulfill a destructive, deterministic fate. It
is the witches who kindle his ambition, and that ambition is further abetted by
his wife.

In
“House of Cards” (the umbrella name for the British series, of which
there were three parts, between 1990 and 1995) Urqhart
(Ian Richardson) seeks vengeance on the newly elected prime minister who had
promised him a seat in the cabinet, while Underwood
(Kevin Spacey) seeks vengeance on the newly elected president who had promised
him the Secretary of State post.

In
“House of Cards,” there are two Lady Macbeths and a number of witches
or warlocks. In the British version, Francis Urqhart’s wife Elizabeth (Diane
Fletcher) eggs him on his pursuit of the prime ministership, especially when he
exhibits doubt, and frequently suggests strategies. In the American version,
Claire, Francis Underwood’s wife (Robin Wright), urges her husband on, as well,
and suggests solutions to their problems. In both versions, the marriages are
explicitly acknowledged by the parties as partnerships in the pursuit of power
and influence.

The
witches? In the British version, they are represented by two other women in
Urqhart’s life, a journalist, Mattie Storin (played by Susannah Harker), and
Sarah Harding (played by Kitty Aldridge), Urqhart’s hired idea-developer and
sounding-board. Both become his lovers, and both are murdered, after they
display their untrustworthiness – “trust” is stressed by the
protagonist-villains in both versions – when they learn of Urqhart’s crimes.
Both inspire Urqhart to pursue his machinations and aid him in his actions –
and pay a price in the end.

Another
witch is Claire Carlsen (Isla Blair), with whom Urqhart does not begin an
extramarital affair, but who, as his private secretary, encourages him to
vanquish his enemies, and at the same time urges Urqhart’s chief nemesis, a
Secretary of State who does resign from the cabinet, to vanquish Urqhart. Still
another witch is the divorced wife of the King, the Lady (Erika Hoffman), who
secretly advises Urqhart to oppose her ex-husband (we are left wondering why
she and the King are divorced, and about her motive for wanting Urqhart to
oppose him).

In
the American version, the witch is Zoe Barnes, a journalist in pursuit of the
“big time” in her trade. I described her previously as a pushy,
ambitious, obnoxious little vixen. She also becomes Underwood’s lover, although
the “love” in their relationship is mutually acerbic and mercenary.
Zoe, as portrayed by Kate Mara, is oddly sexless and strikes one as too much
like a teenager working for a high school newspaper. One almost expects she will
appear in the next scene in a cheerleader’s outfit waving pom-poms. Mara is
very effective in the role, but only in the sense that she and Underwood,
played by Kevin Spacey, are convincingly black-hearted enough to be drawn to
each other in a reciprocal contempt for each other and for their professions. But,
then, that is the nature of the relationships between the Urqharts and the
Underwoods, as well.

The
warlocks? These are Roger O’Neill (Miles Anderson), a publicist for Urqhart,
and Peter Russo (Corey Stoll), a Pennsylvania congressman. While they aid
Urqhart and Underwood (willingly or unknowingly) in their respective plots, both
are addicted to dope and liquor, and become loose cannons who cannot be trusted
by Urqhart and Underwood to stay in tow. Urqhart disposes of O’Neil by mixing
rat poison in his cocaine; Underwood gets Russo drunk and disposes of him with
carbon monoxide in a locked garage. They were more like Macbeth’s protégé
Banquo than advisors or prophesiers. And they, too, get killed.

Lady
Macbeth explains to her husband the method he must employ to disarm his future
victim, King Duncan, a method mastered by Underwood and Urqhart:

Your face, my
thane, is as a book where men
May read strange
matters. To beguile the time,
Look like the
time; bear welcome in your eye,
Your hand, your
tongue; look like the innocent flower,
But be the
serpent under’t. He that’s coming
Must be provided
for; and you shall put
This night’s
great business into my dispatch,
Which shall to
all our nights and days to come
Give solely
sovereign sway and masterdom.**

Macbeth,
already primed to do something to fulfill the witches’ prophesies, but still reluctant
to discuss it, simply replies, “We will speak further.” He is
“bewitched” by the idea that he could become king. Later, in another soliloquy,
he agonizes over the necessity of needing to commit the murder, and, after
having committed it, about its possible consequences.

Here
we leave Macbeth behind. There are
similarities in the material between the two versions of “House of
Cards” that help to define the characters of the protagonist-villains. Frank
Underwood, in the opening scene of the first episode, breaks the neck of a dog
injured by a hit-and-run driver, and delivers a brief soliloquy on the uselessness
of pain. He emphasizes that his was not a mercy killing, but something he
enjoyed doing. He lies to the owner, saying that the dog was killed by the
driver. In his basement retreat, he plays violent video games to
“relax.” Throughout the rest of the series, he comments to the
audience about putting useless people out of his way or out of their misery. Urqhart,
on the other hand, shoots birds on his estate, shoots one of his dogs that has
become too old to participate in the hunt, and delivers an aside to the
audience about uselessness.

In
another telling scene in the American version, Underwood comes out of a government
office building and sees that the police have handcuffed a mad man to a pole. The
police tell him that the man, a disheveled maniac who is still yelling, that he
tried to enter the building while taking his ragged clothes off. Underwood goes
up to the man, stoops down, and tells him that “no one is listening,”
implying that it was useless to protest any perceived injustice. His purpose in
saying that to the man was not to calm him down, but to kill him. The maniac is
left speechless.

In
their sexual relations – I hesitate to call them “romantic,” for they
are anything but that – Underwood and Urqhart adopt unhealthy views of their
lovers, that is, faux incestuous
views. Urqhart, about forty years her senior and childless, insists that Mattie
call him “Daddy.” Underwood, about twenty-five years her senior, at
one point regards Zoe as a daughter, and in an aside while Zoe is calling her
father for Father’s Day, with a smirk emphasizes that point to the audience. Zoe
seems to sense that this is the root of their sexual relationship, and, whore that
she is, doesn’t seem to mind it.

Other
than a few pecks on the cheek and lips, and an occasional comforting touch, we
see no passion between the Underwoods and the Urqharts. When they are smiling together,
it is not an affirmation of the happiness of their marriages, but a celebration
that they are getting away with something that they’ve pulled on everyone.

There
is a significant difference between Macbeth
and “House of Cards.” Macbeth, before and after he has murdered King
Duncan, expresses qualms about the act. Lady Macbeth chides him for having
second thoughts, before and after the crime. Urqhart is sometimes bothered by
his having thrown Mattie off the roof garden of the Houses of Parliament, but
right until the end of the trilogy is unrepentant. Underwood isn’t bothered at
all, and, as Urqhart does, he speaks to the audience as though it were an
accomplice to the crimes.

In
Macbeth, Lady Macbeth goes mad and
dies in remorse. Not so Claire and Elizabeth. They’re committed. As Barton Keyes
put it about a pair of murderers in Double
Indemnity
:

Whether it’s
love or hate doesn’t matter; they can’t keep away from each other. They may
think it’s twice as safe because there’s two of them, but it isn’t twice as
safe. It’s ten times twice as dangerous. They’ve committed a *murder*! And it’s
not like taking a trolley ride together where they can get off at different
stops. They’re stuck with each other and they got to ride all the way to the
end of the line and it’s a one-way trip and the last stop is the cemetery.

The
American version of the Netflix series is literally “how to” do
precisely what Chris Horner, in an Accuracy
in Media
interview, describes in the way of private email accounts and
secret messaging and code names and the like. It is a revealing interview about
Obama’s “transparent” administration, from the private emails of the
EPA to Fast and Furious to the Benghazi cover-up. If nothing else, “House
of Cards” is an education in corruption and power-grabbing.

Although
both series share the same premises in the way of how to game the political
establishment, the British version relies less on technology than does the
American. The villains and characters in the British version rely more on
acting and direction than on technology, whereas much of the plot of Kevin
Spacey’s version is driven by instant access to people and information and
humungous databases. For example, there are few scenes in which Zoe isn’t
staring at her Android or Ipad, communicating frantically with her thumbs (I couldn’t
catch the brand name of her devices). Mac Laptops are prominently displayed
throughout the Spacey “House of Cards.” So much for “non-commercial”
promotions.

The
Spacey version is a capital lesson in non-transparency. You can see the serpents
lurking beneath the orchids. As General Sternwood remarked about orchids in Raymond
Chandler’s The Big Sleep, in literary agreement with
the quotation that precedes this column:

Nasty things.
That flesh is too much like the flesh of men. Their perfume has a rotten
sweetness of corruption.

Only
there is no sweetness in “House of Cards.” Only smiling serpents
slithering in the foul fog of power politics.  

 

*Act
1, Scene 1. William Shakespeare: The
Complete Works
. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1988. Eds. Stanley Wells and
Gary Taylor.
**Act 1, Scene 5,
ibid.

Gun Shy Amazon

I have twenty-one books for sale on Amazon
Books, and eleven on Amazon Kindle. Upon reading the news that Amazon is
pressuring – nay, demanding – that sellers of guns and firearms accessories
withdraw some of their products from sale on Amazon, I sent Amazon Books this
letter.

20 February 2013

Amazon Books

Sirs/Mesdames: 

I direct your
attention to an article on the Web forwarded to me, “Amazon Removing Gun
Products From Store. Worse Than EBay,” about Amazon demanding that vendors
remove certain accessories and other gun-related items from their Amazon
listings. If they do not comply, these vendors will be banned from selling all
their products on Amazon. The veracity of this article is not to be questioned,
albeit it would be helpful if you confirmed this ultimatum.

I cannot imagine
what prompted Amazon to reach this decision other than a craven submission to
the anti-gun hysteria that arose even before the Sandy Hook School, Newtown, CT
massacre, together with all the misinformation about guns and gun-owners
propagated by enemies of the First and Second Amendments of the Constitution, a
hysteria which has gripped not only many Americans but Congress and numerous
advocacy groups. This hysteria can be likened to a kind of moral epilepsy, rooted
in a penchant for political correctness and towing the government line, in this
instance an episode of too little neuronal activity in the brain, a phenomenon
which has caused you to bite your tongue and require your vendors and customers
to bite theirs.

That being said
– and I am sure you are not so far gone that you cannot detect the tone of
contempt and opprobrium for you in this missive, but, then, when have cowards
ever felt shame for their behavior? – I offer you an opportunity to maintain a
consistency in your policy and win the acclaim of the anti-gun bloc. I strongly
urge you to remove from sale on Amazon Books any title of mine in whose title
the term “gun” occurs. Two titles come to mind at the moment, Whisper the Guns, and Running Out My Guns. In fact, I suggest
that you remove all my titles, for in
each and every one of them guns are employed. This would include the whole
series of Sparrowhawk, novels about
the American Revolution.

Come to think of
it, why not remove all titles that
feature guns and violence from your listings? If you are going to be so
conscientiously and foolishly sensitive and picayune about the matter of guns
and gun-violence, it would salve your sense of moral worth with an act of total
and unqualified consistency.

Just think of
the national acclaim you would garner by performing such an act of contrition.
Of course, it would reduce your listings by an unimaginable percentage, and
consequently affect your revenue, but, after all, what is money when it is
imperative that you do the “right thing”?

By the way, I
have sent this as an open letter to as many publications and media as I could
muster the time for.

Best wishes in
your new endeavor,

Edward Cline

Although written in a contemptuous, satirical vein, this was
a serious letter, which remains unacknowledged by Amazon. As an “open
letter,” it was sent to publications friendly to gun ownership and the
Second Amendment, and also to hostile ones, including the New York Times and
the Washington Post. While I received programmed, automatic acknowledgements
from all the publications, only one actual, living person replied, the editor
of the Firearmblog,
who thanked me for sending it.

Let us take
a look at Amazon’s anti-sales spiel that was sent to a vendor of
“gun-related” products.

This product has
been identified a X. X are prohibited from sale on Amazon.

 For more information on our policies, search
on “Restricted Products” and “Listing Restrictions” in
seller Help.

**Action Required:
Within 48 hours of this notice, please review your remaining listings and make
any changes necessary to ensure compliance with our policies.

Failure to comply
with this request may result in the removal of your selling privileges.

We appreciate your
cooperation and thank you for selling on Amazon.com.

As reported
by the Firearmblog, the notice was sent to selected vendors. The identity of
the specific vendor to whom the notice was sent was protected by the editor of
the Firearmblog. But, if you look at the “Weapons
page of permitted and impermissible gun-related items, just about the only
“guns” that can be sold on Amazon are “play” guns, such as BB
guns, air guns, and paintball guns. Under the Prohibited listing one finds just
about the whole range of “real” guns, that is, guns one could use to
defend oneself against burglars, rapists, and muggers. Or even government agents.
Prohibited “weapons” included in the list are bows and arrows,
spears, pepper spray, muzzle-loading, black powder muskets and black powder
itself. And starting pistols.

Amazon’s
list was probably culled from restrictions established by the ATF and other government
agencies charged with “protecting” citizens against gun violence, and
too likely with “protecting” government agents against any meaningful
resistance to government gun violence against American citizens.

In reviewing
the Prohibited list, one can only wonder why Amazon permits the sale of any
kind of firearm at all. Apparently, anything that goes “bang!” or
“whoosh!” or “Pssst!” or “click!” scares the hell
out of Amazon.

A friend
remarked to me: Why don’t they also prohibit the sale of violent video games, and
movies that feature gun violence, and nonfiction books on guns and marksmanship
and so on? Why not go whole-hog, and ban things like jigsaw puzzles of Howard Pyle’s
painting of the battle of Bunker
Hill
, or of John Trumbull’s
Death of General Warren, or of Custer’s Last Stand,
or perhaps a video of the Marines’ rifle drill.

The anti-gun
hysteria has spread to major companies such as Comcast, which, upon purchasing
a controlling interest in NBC, has banned ads by gun sellers. As reported by Newsmax:
The ban came to
light when John Kupiec, president of the advertising agency Canadian American
Corp., attempted to purchase an ad for Michigan-based gun store Williams Gun
Sight Inc. but was denied, according to CBS News’ Detroit affiliate.

“Comcast Spotlight has decided it will not accept new advertising for
firearms or weapons moving forward,” the cable provider said in a
statement to CBS. “This policy aligns us with the guidelines in place at
many media organizations.”

The Hollywood
Reporter elaborates:

NBC Universal does not accept ads for fireworks or weapons but for some
exceptions. For example, the NBC Sports Network will allow ads for hunting
weapons, but it will not accept spots for guns such as assault rifles and hand
guns. Several shows focusing primarily on guns, such as Guns & Gear,
will no longer appear on NBC Sports, though other hunting focused shows,
including Elk Fever, likely will return.

The term “assault weapon” is about
as denigrating as the term “Islamophobia.” As “Islamophobia”
is meant to demonize anyone who criticizes Islam, “assault weapon” is
intended to demonize guns. But if one examines the term “assault
weapon,” it is an anti-concept that evokes an image of violence. After all,
“assault” means to attack, and “assault weapon” means a
tool with which to attack. It can mean a tool that goes “bang!” and
shoots a bullet, or it can mean a tool that goes “thunk!” like a
ball-peen hammer or a rock. I think I’ve read a detective novel in which a badminton
racket was used as a weapon. Or was it a golf club? Better alert President Obama
about that. For all the pricy
golfing he does while Rome burns, and for all the words he’s slung against the
lifestyles of the rich and famous, should he be acting as a model for a mass
murderer?

Anti-gun advocates in and out of government
love the term “assault weapon” precisely because it demonizes gun
makers and gun owners. For them, it is a term of precision and defines the
kinds of guns they don’t like. As reported by the NRA,
however, the term is actually military slang and is hardly precise or
definitional.

Reporters, fond
of the way that the slang term “assault weapon” spruces up their
articles, and ignoring the maxim that a term that means everything means
nothing, have continued to use it to refer to things other than firearms – including
baseball players, knives, folding chairs, telephones and SUVs. And, they’ve applied the “assault” prefix to
other things that, like guns, can be used, but almost always are not used, as
weapons — including dogs and knives – ignoring one Drug
Enforcement Agency agent’s reminder that “It doesn’t become a weapon until
you use it.”

The Brady Campaign has implied that the “gun industry” invented the
term “assault weapon” in 1986, but the
implication is obviously false. As noted above, the Brady Campaign used the
term in 1984 and newspapers used it varyingly during the previous 41 years.
However, though we believe much of what the Brady Campaign says is false by
design, in this instance the error may be innocent. After all, the group states
on its website that it changed its name to Handgun Control, Inc., in 1980. In
fact, the name change occurred in 1979. If
the Brady Campaign doesn’t know when it adopted its own name, it can’t be
expected to know when it or others adopted “assault weapon.”

Media Matters,
a George Soros-funded propaganda site, provides a history of “assault
weapons” dating back to Nazi Germany (1944:
Nazi Germany develops the first
mass produced assault rifle
, the
Sturmgewehr), but otherwise blasts all “assault”
weapons that go “rat-tat-tat-tat” and inveighs against them like a virgin
spinster ranting against premarital and marital sex. As with the New York Times
and Washington Post, it refuses to use any other term than “assault
weapon.” The Media Matters article is loaded with scary pictures of
“assault weapons” and military ads that boast of the efficacy of
“assault weapons.” An ad for the Bushmaster “assault
weapon” is also featured. All the illustrations are intended to incriminate
guns, gun sellers, and gun owners.

It concludes with this
non-news:

January
24, 2013:
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduces legislation for an expanded
assault weapons ban that prohibits
the “sale, transfer, manufacturing and importation of” 157 named
assault weapons, along with any rifles or pistols derivative of the AR-15 or
AK-47. The legislation also bans rifles with the ability to accept a detachable
magazine that also have one or more military features including a “pistol
grip; forward grip; folding, telescoping, or detachable stock; grenade launcher
or rocket launcher; barrel shroud; or threaded barrel.”

I wonder what would happen
if I invited big Democratic
donor Jeff
Bezos, founder
of Amazon, to a friendly round of golf, or even to tennis. No, it wouldn’t
happen. The club or the racket might scare him off. Besides, he’d spurn the
invitation. I’m not one of the wealthy liberal elite.
I like to “cling” to my Constitution, and guns.

I’m betting he goes around
with an armed guard, too.

The Clueless Left and Islam

Daniel Greenfield penned a perceptive and welcome critique,
“What the Left
Does not Understand About Islam” (February 15th), of the
cluelessness of the Left vis-à-vis Islam. The Left, he writes, is naïve about its
rival ideology, and ideologically will always remain naïve. The Left, he
writes, has never been able to think outside of the cardboard box it has built
for itself.

The left has
never adapted to the transition from nationalistic wars to ideological wars. It
took the left a while to grasp that the Nazis were a fundamentally different
foe than [sic] the Kaiser and that
pretending that World War 2 was another war for the benefit of colonialists and
arms dealers was the behavior of deluded lunatics. And yet much of the left
insisted on approaching the war in just that fashion, and had Hitler not
attacked Stalin, it might have remained stuck there.

From my own observations, what the Left refused to
acknowledge was that it was Hitler’s Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, and Soviet
Russia that behaved like unrepentant imperialists and colonialists, invading
and conquering other nations for all the loot they could lay hands on. It was
the consistent kneejerk evasion of that fact which demoted the Left from a
noisy avante- garde to a commune of deluded lunatics.  Greenfield goes on to remark:

The Cold War was
even worse. The left never came to terms with Communism. From the Moscow Trials
to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the moderate left slowly disavowed the USSR but
refused to see it as anything more than a clumsy dictatorship. The only way
that the left could reject the USSR was by overlooking its ideology and
treating it as another backward Russian tyranny being needlessly provoked and
pushed around by Western Europe and the United States.

The rise of Islam, however, presented the Left with
another conundrum it could not handle.

Communism was…a
red virus floating around the world, embedding its ideas into organizations and
using those organizations to take over nations.

Islam is even
more untethered than Communism, loosely originating from powerful oil nations,
but able to spring up anywhere in the world. Its proponents have even less use
for the nation state than the Communists. What they want is a Caliphate ruled
under Islamic law, a single unit of human organization extending across
nations, regions and eventually the world.

The Left, instead of confronting Islam as a rival
ideology, has preferred to stick with the devils it knows, imperialists and the
running dogs of capitalists. Greenfield notes:

The left is
incapable of engaging with Islamism as an ideology, instead it reduces the
conflict to a struggle between colonial and anti-colonial forces, showing once
again that the left’s worldview is usually at least fifty years out of date.

Fifty years out of date, or fourteen centuries?

Their response
to the Clash of Civilizations has been to include Islamists in the global
rainbow coalition of minorities, gays and gender theorists, indigent third
world farmers, transsexuals, artists and poets, sex workers and terrorists;
without considering what the Islamists were or how they would fit into this
charmed circle.

Here is another take on just how clueless the Left is about
its competitor for power.

Project a hypothetical triumph of Islam over the world, and
how its itinerant ally, the Left, would be treated. Not very well.  Consider the Left’s
global rainbow
coalition of “minorities, gays and gender theorists, indigent third world
farmers, transsexuals, artists and poets, and sex workers.” Islam,
committed to doctrinal purity and eager to cleanse the world in literal
conformance with that doctrine, would act to extinguish every member of that rainbow
coalition, including those not mentioned by Greenfield:  feminists, gun-owners, free-speech advocates,
cartoonists who offend Islam, atheists, agnostics, apostates, followers of
other religions, libertarians, anti-government advocates, Constitutionalists,
First Amendment champions, and so on. Rightly or not, they’d all be lumped
together in Islam’s holding pen until they can be prosecuted, tried and walked
to the chopping block or gallows. Leaving the Left what?

Nothing,
not a single victim of capitalism or colonialism. The Left will wonder what happened
to its dialectical materialism, or claim that these are not the progressive
forces it had predicted would pacify the world and leave it warless and in
peaceful harmony. They might complain, if they dared to, that a gatecrasher
hijacked their future. The more perceptive Leftists might then grasp just what Islam
meant when it claimed it was just a “religion of peace.” They would understand
that it won’t be a world in which they’d be expected to pray five times a day
to godless icons of Marx, Lenin, Engels, Mao, and Stalin, but instead to Allah and
Mohammad.

They
would understand that Islam isn’t interested in peacefully coexisting with
other faiths and ideologies, “interfaith dialogue” to the contrary
notwithstanding. They would grasp that Islam is as totalitarian as anything conceived
by George Orwell and would play no favorites, not even with loyal Party
members.

All
they would see would be piles of victims of Islam, not of capitalism or of
colonialism.  The Left acts now as the janissaries
of Islam, as ideologues and Sturmabteilung
of another totalitarian system, for the moment tolerated and drafted into Islam’s
cause to swell the numbers of Islam’s brigades and to handle the rough stuff in
protests and demonstrations and clashes with the targets of the day. And when Islam’s
battles are won, the Left will act surprised when the executioners knock on their
door and escort its members to killing fields that resemble Pol Pot’s and to camps
modeled on Auschwitz. They would be slaughtered by the bushel in the name of Allah,
because they worshipped false gods or no gods and proposed a godless global government.
 

The
humbler and more cowardly of them will submit to Islam. All others would be terminated.
 Some of their women and pretty boys would
be whisked away to stock the numerous new harems that would be established, and
which would not be limited to the palaces of Saudi Arabia and Dubai and Qatar
and Cairo. They would pop up in New York City and Peoria and Buenos Aires and
London and Vienna and San Francisco. Name your city or town.  

That
would be the character of the world under a global caliphate. The Left would
find itself in the inconvenient and embarrassing position of the garage
mechanic, George Wilson, in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. In it, Wilson is told that it was Jay Gatsby who
struck his wife in a hit-and-run outside his garage, not his airhead paramour,
Daisy Buchanan. So Gatsby catches the mechanic’s bullets. Wilson then shoots
himself. Daisy gets off scot-free. While the literati may treat Daisy as a
useless “ornament” of capitalism, in fact, Daisy is Islam.

Gatsby
was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s conception of unregulated capitalism, married somehow
to gangsters and crime, while Wilson’s grungy garage was symbolic of the
underside of capitalism. Poor, exploited, put-upon George. But it was clueless
Daisy Buchanan who killed the woman. Leftist literati may understand Fitzgerald’s
novel, but their ideological muchachos
do not.

Intellectually
honest Leftists will follow George Wilson’s example. Less honest ones will
adapt.

Greenfield
concludes his masterly column thus:

The left dwells
in an intellectual bubble of its own making. It transforms that bubble into an
elaborate place, furnishing the space until it resembles a miniature world, but
a bubble is not a world, it can only ever be a bubble. Trapped inside the
bubble, the left cannot realize that the world is going backward, not forward,
that the 21st century is really the 7th century and that the future is the
past.

The Islamists
understand this quite well. The left cannot.

I think
Greenfield gives the Left too much credit for being clueless. I think his is a
misplaced generosity. I am convinced that the Left’s ignorance of the true
nature of Islam is a front refined and tailored over recent decades, ever since
Islam and jihad began making
headlines, disguising something much more insidious. Down deep, in the remotest,
darkest corner of the soul of every Leftist, collectivist, statist, and
community organizer, is a seething glop of malice for freedom which he wishes
to exterminate, come what may, never mind how, and don’t ask him about it if
you don’t want to see him froth at the mouth and threaten you with physical
violence. If the extermination is performed by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton,
Valerie Jarrett, or Cass Sunstein, or any other exponent of totalitarianism, it
won’t matter to him, just as long as the murder is committed.

And
if it’s performed by Islam, so be it. He will be content, even if it means he
will need to buy himself a prayer rug or pay jizya from his paltry income and show up at Islamic rallies as a
loyal infidel. All else – the protests, the books, the lectures, the posters –
is guff and practiced posturing to him. He works to create the image of a
champion of the underdogs, whoever and wherever they might be, when, in truth, he
would just rather shoot the mangy mutts.

And
what is the root of that seething glop of malice? An unquenchable, malevolent
envy of every individual who has ever achieved independence and happiness without
the Leftist’s assistance or advice or guidance, an envy of the incalculable wealth
produced by what little capitalism has been permitted to exist in any given
nation’s mixed economy or welfare state. This envy is coupled with an intimate
but repressed knowledge and certitude that the kind of ideal communist or
socialist state envisioned by him can produce nothing but poverty, misery, a
state of stagnation sustained by force and deception and lies, and the
suffocation of the able and the brightest.

Of
individuals better than he. All tyrants and would-be tyrants nurture an
inferiority complex. The only way they can compensate for it is the use of
force and as much power over people as they can muster.

Islam
would also produce that kind of existence, and the Left must know it, if only
secretly and not spoken about among themselves, and certainly not to the
gullible hoi polloi, in another kind
of “gentleman’s agreement.” The Left’s ideology and Islam’s ideology
are compatible in practice, differing only in details and object.

After
all, what should it matter to the Left to whose ideology the hoi polloi swear an extorted obsequious obedience?
Barack Obama’s, or Mohammad Morsi’s?

The
Leftist won’t care which, just as long as they concede defeat and subservience to
the State or to the Caliphate. 
 

House of Cards: An American “Macbeth”

Power
tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost
always bad men.

– Lord Acton
to Bishop Creighton, 1887

Francis
“Frank” Underwood is absolutely corrupted, and isn’t a “great
man,” except perhaps in the eyes of lesser
men, no less corrupted but out-maneuvered by Underwood in the
give-and-take-and-extortion business of Washington D.C. They pay him the
respect and deference he expects of them, because they lost to him in the
ruthless, cannibalistic pursuit of power that makes the slaughter of the French
knights at Agincourt look like a Kennedy clan game of touch football. That comparison
is of Kenneth Branagh‘s
1989 version of Henry V, not the
Olivier.

Who
is Frank (or Francis) Underwood? He is the leading protagonist of Netflix’s
feature televised series, “House
of Cards
,” which debuted earlier this month. Frank Underwood is the
majority whip in the House of Representatives, shilling for handouts and
preferential treatment for his South Carolina district. A protagonist is a
leading character in a story who moves the story along by his actions. He could
be a hero or a villain. Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, is a villain. Throughout
the series, he makes no apology for it. Quite the opposite. He boasts of it.

In
“House of Cards,” there are no heroes. Only villains of various
shades of villainy, from gray to the blackest of blacks, fulfilling politically
correct requisites on diversity, covering all the affirmative action mandates
in gender, race, ethnic origin, and religion. “House of Cards” is an
equal opportunity employer in its portrayal of corruption. In that respect, the
series is very realistic, a reflection of “the way things are,” in
the spirit of droll naturalism.

It
is even more cynical than the 1962 film version of
Allen Drury’s Advise and Consent,
which portrays the sordid lengths to which politicians will go to defeat a
nominee for Secretary of State (played by Henry Fonda as Robert Leffingwell, a
left-winger proposing a treaty with the Soviets), in which the villains are
“right-wingers” who find dirt on a Senator whose confirmation vote is
critical.

“House
of Cards” is an American knock-off of a hit British
BBC trilogy that ran between 1990 and 1995. It is the title of the first of
that series, followed after critical acclaim and popular demand by “To
Play the King” and “The Final Cut.”  It follows the general plot line of the
British trilogy, adapted for American audiences and issues. Season One of
“House of Cards,” in thirteen episodes, follows that plot line so
closely, even in numerous scenes, that it’s as though Spacey, his co-producers,
writers, and directors laid a blank transparency over the trilogy and used a
Magic Marker to write in where things should be changed, tweaked, and wrinkled.

Plot
spoilers follow, so,
legit cavete.

“House
of Cards” is one of the most educational TV series to come along in a long
time, posing as fiction, yet still instructive about how much of a giant whorehouse
Washington D.C. is, not only in its politics, but in journalism and personal
ethics. As knock-offs go, it’s very well done, although Spacey frequently interrupts
scenes and conversations with Shakespearean “asides” to the viewers.  Underwood is a perfect name of what you would find beneath rotted wood, maggots,
so I don’t think the name is accidental. Likely, neither is the name of his
chief aide, Doug Stamper, played by Michael Kelly (the surname is a leftover
from the British series). Stamper puts out fires and crises with extortion and
blackmail by prospecting for and cultivating dirt on Underwood’s enemies, with
a little bribery on the side.

In
the beginning of the series, Underwood plots to regain his nomination as
Secretary of State, after a newly elected president, a very hollow man, reneges
on his promise to nominate Underwood, and nominates someone else. Underwood
contrives to get the new nominee withdrawn and a Hillary Clinton clone substituted,
and then he’s off and running to fresh new conspiracies.

Incredibly,
all the villains are Democrats. No Republican has put in an appearance yet,
although that might change in Season Two. Republicans are mentioned as the
opposition, although, to tell the truth, and to judge by the behavior and
record of the Republicans, the series could just as well be a portrayal of their political means and ends. Look how
they keep an arm’s length from the Tea Party and seasoned politicians (e.g.,
Allen West) who hold Tea Party convictions. Not to mention their flip-flopping
on issues such as the budget, military spending, and immigration.

The
story is compelling because it realistically portrays the sprawling Washington whorehouse.
 The most pathetic character is the vice
president, based vaguely on Vice President Joe Biden, whose biggest complaint
was that the president didn’t give him one of the pens used to sign an
education bill, engineered by Spacey, souvenir pens given to Spacey and a
couple of kids in a scene reminiscent of Obama signing an executive order for
gun control or Obamacare.

Overall,
the sleaze dramatized in “House of Cards” is so well done you half expect
it to leave crud or mold on your screen.

The
British series debuted on the expiration of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s
tenure. It’s claimed that it helped to secure John Major the election, because
“House of Cards” was broadcast days before an election. Based on the novel by Michael Dobbs, Major said of it
that it had done for his triumph “what Dracula did for baby-sitting.”
The British series was meant to repudiate the Tories
and conservatism, because Francis Urqhart (played with bone-chilling
correctness by Ian Richardson), the protagonist and aside-maker of that series,
is a Tory Conservative more coldly ruthless and amoral than is Underwood in his
smug, cynical, and contemptuous rancidness.

But
one must wonder what else could be the intention of the American version but to
repudiate the Democrats.

The
difference here is that Underwood is a Democrat who is manipulating people and
things to expand or preserve government controls in education, development, the
environment, and so on, not because he sincerely believes in or values these
things, but because they’re stepping stones to power. His wife, Claire, runs her
of charity, CWI, which caters to the poor in Africa and is always politicking
for donor support. Her campaign for money becomes enmeshed in Underwood’s
schemes.
 
Actress Robin Wright, who plays Claire, remarked that the character is
“Lady Macbeth to
Underwood’s Macbeth.” As a couple who tolerate each other’s infidelities,
and who regard their marriage as a kind of non-aggression pact and alliance in
pursuit of power, they reminded me most of Bill and Hillary Clinton. For all I
know, Frank and Claire Underwood were
modeled on the Clintons, another Macbethian couple. There’s nothing in the
story that indicates otherwise. (Except that Robin Wright’s Claire is a
knock-out and less of a windbag than is Hillary.)

It
even features a doppelganger of the British female journalist who’s angling for
power and gets herself in cahoots with Underwood. Zoe Barnes is a pushy,
ambitious, obnoxious little vixen who also becomes Underwood’s sharp-tongued
mistress. In the first of the British series, the journalist, Mattie, a
possible thorn in Urqhart’s side, is murdered by him when he throws her off the
roof garden of Parliament, even though she professes her love for him and tries
to reassure him of her loyalty.  

What
Season Two has in store for Zoe Barnes remains to be seen.  Underwood has personally murdered a
conflicted Representative, Peter Russo of Pennsylvania, who was a loose cannon
in Spacey’s plans. He murders him as coldly as he killed an injured dog in the
first episode, ostensively to put it out of its misery, but also because he seems
to enjoy killing as an expression of his power. As with a character from the
British series, Russo’s drug and drinking problems become a threat to
Underwood. Season One’s last episode has Zoe Barnes suddenly realizing that Spacey
and his Stamper fixer-aide might have been behind a lot of the nasty stuff.

At
this point, I think the American version of HOC will do to the Democrats what it’s
alleged the British series did to the Tories. To date, all the protagonists in
it are progressive Democrats pushing welfare state, environmental, and fascist
economic programs (business/government development partnerships). And they’re
all pragmatic, compromising, malleable villains, if not conspirators against
the president or other politicos.

This
is how American TV series and movies usually smear the Republicans or anyone
else who opposes the Democratic agenda or Progressivism. Since 9/11, Hollywood
has churned out over a dozen anti-American movies. Usually the uncaring, cruel,
and nasty villains are Republicans. So, if Season Two of the series continues
(it’s “in development”), and remains an adumbrated replicant of the
British series, the Democrats will be painted in blacker terms than anyone
could ever have imagined. No “right-wing” weblog or newspaper or
magazine could do a more thorough job of it than has “House of
Cards.”

And
unless the series departs from the British model, there is a question of how another
thirteen episodes of it can be stretched out to the climax. The British series
ends (in “The Final Cut”) with a triumphant Urqhart riding to
Buckingham Palace as the new Prime Minister. He has forced the King to abdicate,
and has vanquished all his enemies, in the Party and out of it. And he doesn’t
look in the least troubled by his crimes, which were committed wholesale.

So,
as a prediction, it’s likely that Frank Underwood will manipulate his way the
White House at the end of the American version. He is a consummate manipulator
and string-puller. Please excuse the speculation. It can’t be helped. Democrats
are like that. Look at President Barack Obama, and Bill Clinton. Their
political and personal careers could be dramatized just as well as Frank
Underwood’s, with the focus on the darker chapters of their rise to power.
Which means everything about them.

The
only “anti-capitalist” elements in the American version are Claire
Underwood’s foundation, “Clean Water Initiative (CWI), a billionaire who somehow
owns a lot of nuclear power plants, and some natural gas conglomerate, the
latter two entities intimately tied to the president and to the plot and the

competition for government favors. But I suppose that if you were going to
indict the Democrats, you would need a couple of “private” interests
lobbying for those favors (a la Orren Boyle’s Associated Steel Company
in Atlas Shrugged). The Republicans
could also be indicted for the same practice. But in Spacey’s “House of
Cards,” all stops are pulled and the indictment is merciless.

However,
if the series does take a noticeable turn away from the British model,
it could only mean that the producers were lectured to or warned by the White
House and the DNC and other parties to “cool it,” and find some other
villains to pick on.

I
have never liked Kevin Spacey as an actor. In his past hits, such as American Beauty (1999) and L.A. Confidential (1997), his cynical,
sneering mien was less developed but no less repellant than it is in
“House of Cards.” It never goes away, just as the malevolent
masculinity of Robert Mitchum never left him even when he played good guys (and
he perfected that attribute as the menacing, nihilist villain Max Cady in Cape Fear, 1962). But, here is the
paradox: Spacey is a Hollywood liberal. He is a close friend of Bill Clinton,
once calling him “one of the shining lights of the political
process.” He is friends with Hugo Chavez, the Marxist Venezuelan dictator.
According to Wikipedia, he has contributed over $42,000 to Democratic
candidates and committees.

So,
why has he produced a series that damns the Democrats, and, by implication, the
Progressive agenda to turn the U.S. into a welfare state and the government
into a “soft” fascist régime? If Netflix is right and the series
becomes a hit, the Democrats may become a permanent dart board for anyone who
doubts the propriety of the “democratic” (read “populist”
or “statist”) process. In 2010, Spacey said that broadcasters should
carry “legitimate” political ads
for free during election periods. Who would decide which ads are
“legitimate” and which or not, he does not say. We already have a
Federal Election Committee that does that. Spacey was asked by Wolf Blitzer
about his predilection for political movies:

Emmy award-winning actor Kevin Spacey, star of the new film Casino Jack, says he blames television
networks “to some degree” for lobbyist influence on the political process. He
says television networks should run legitimate political ads “for
free” as a public service.

“Well, I think you have to separate the idea of that what lobbyists can do
is be an informational conduit for Congressman and Senators to understand
specific bills and specific issues in other countries but at the same time, I
think that there is no doubt that the amount of influence and power and money
dampens the political process. I think it discourages people from public
office,” he told CNSNews.com at the E Street Cinema before the Washington
screening of the film sponsored by the Creative Coalition.

In
a Hollywood Reporter interview, he said:

Spacey: “The
lobbying industry and what it has done in terms of Washington politics, and Casino Jack (and Recount about the Gore-Bush issue in the Florida vote count of
2000)…I’m very driven by the opportunity to examine current situations and
current things happening in the world…. I think these are very important
subjects for us to understand and see how we got where we are and if we can
make it better than it is….”

Interviewer:  “And reality is almost as outrageous as
art, you can’t even make this stuff up half the time.”

Spacey:  “You’re right. I would go back to the
hotel in Baltimore where we were shooting the first season, and I’d watch the
news at night, this last election cycle… and I’d think, our story lines are not
that crazy.”

Crazy
as a fox? Or just plain crazy? We won’t know the answer to this paradox until
Season Two of “House of Cards” is aired (or live-streamed on
computers). After all, Spacey, Fincher and the scriptwriters could have easily
remained more faithful to the purpose of the British version, which was to
repudiate Thatcher and her policies, and instead targeted the Republicans for
political and dramatic excoriation. It wouldn’t have taken much in the script
or in the characterizations.

If
Spacey is accusing the lobbying industry of being venal, conspiratorial, and
corrupting, he should know that it takes two to tango. If Congressmen and
Cabinet heads and bureaucrats weren’t so venal, conspiratorial, and
corruptible, he would have no complaint.

He
could go back to the live stage and give Ian Richardson a run for his money in Macbeth or Richard the Third.

Otherwise,
go figure.

Al Gore, Al Jazeera, and the Gray Lady

The
New York Times isn’t called The Gray  Lady for nothing. It has entered its 162nd
year of publication. Despite its falling daily circulation that hovers
tenuously around one million, it is still regarded as the nation’s “newspaper
of record.” It boasts a monthly tally of thirty million
“visitors” to its online version. “Visitors,” however, does
not necessarily translate into “readers.” Once the most widely read
paper in the nation, today it follows USA Today and The Wall Street Journal in
circulation.

In
the 19th century, it was largely a Republican paper, until it turned
“independent.”

The
Times’ record of reporting “all the news that’s fit to print” is not
immaculate. Its offences are legion. Too often it was charged with fitting the
news to conform to the paper’s growing partiality for collectivist ideologies.
Today, it is more or less notorious for it. Its crimes of commission include
the Walter Duranty
series of articles
in 1931 that omitted mention of the Soviet government’s engineered campaign of
starvation in the Ukraine, which claimed millions of lives, but for which
Duranty received a Pulitzer Prize. In 2001, it was revealed that before, during
and even after World War II, the paper “minimized” reports of the
Nazi genocide
of Jews by briefly mentioning the atrocities in stories buried deep inside its
pages.

There
were the Pentagon Papers in 1971, which revealed U.S. military strategy in
Vietnam, a war it opposed vociferously in tune with the anti-war and
anti-America mantra of the Left. There was Jayson Blair, a reporter who was
caught plagiarizing other newspapers and falsifying facts and whom the Times
had hired to prove its commitment to affirmative action. The paper reproduced
exclusively the prosecution’s perspective in the Duke University/lacrosse rape
case.

Finally,
the paper has adopted an anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian policy that colors every
bit of its news reportage, and not just in its editorializing.

More
recently, it has become a kind of publicist for the anti-wealth and
anti-freedom complaints of the likes of Occupy Wall Street, running an article
that condemned the Constitution, whose writer, Georgetown University
constitutional law professor Louis Michael Seidman,
called the document “archaic” and “idiosyncratic” and said contained
“downright evil provisions.” As though that weren’t enough, it has
applauded the purchase of Al Gore’s failed propaganda outlet, Current TV, by Al
Jazeera, the Muslim Brotherhood‘s
propaganda outlet.

The
Times acted as point-man in a libel case,
New York Times Co. vs. Sullivan, that
involved the number of times Martin Luther King, Jr. had been arrested in
Alabama by the state police as reported by the Times, and by implication, it
was charged with defaming the character of Montgomery police supervisor L.B.
Sullivan. The case went to the Supreme Court in 1964. Citing the First and
Fourteenth Amendments, the Court held that the Times could not be sued for
defamation of character because no malice was intended.

Factual error,
content defamatory of official reputation, or both, are insufficient to warrant
an award of damages for false statements unless “actual malice” —
knowledge that statements are false or in reckless disregard of the truth — is
alleged and proved….

In
short, the Court, in overturning an Alabama Supreme Court finding, ruled that
malice could not be proven because no one can get inside a reporter’s head to
prove that he had malicious intent.

The evidence was
constitutionally insufficient to support the judgment for respondent, since it
failed to support a finding that the statements were made with actual malice or
that they related to respondent.

Let’s
try to get inside the Times’ collective policy head and try to grasp why its
policymakers would, on one hand, condone a condemnation of the Constitution, and
on the other, applaud the establishment of an Islamist
propaganda medium in this country. Let us try to see what “malicious
intent” looks like.

In
the Constitution article, the Times implicitly and in agreement repudiates the
Supreme Court’s Sullivan decision that the paper is protected by the First
Amendment, which its author disputes has anything to do with freedom of speech
and of the press. The Times ran the article without a proviso that it did not
necessarily agree with Seidman’s statements.

In
his December 30th article, “Let’s Give Up on the Constitution,”
Seidman provides us with a fantasy scenario linked to the “fiscal
cliff” gridlock in Congress and serves as the premise of his whole
article:

Imagine that after careful study a government official — say, the president
or one of the party leaders in Congress — reaches a considered judgment that a
particular course of action is best for the country. Suddenly, someone bursts
into the room with new information: a group of white propertied men who have
been dead for two centuries, knew nothing of our present situation, acted
illegally under existing law and thought it was fine to own slaves might have
disagreed with this course of action. Is it even remotely rational that the
official should change his or her mind because of this divination?

This
is hypothesizing one would find in supermarket tabloids. All it lacks are
Photoshopped pictures of the Founders hassling Obama in the Oval Office. It’s
time travel without the CGI.

Concerned
that his fantasy might be taken out of context, Seidman attempts to provide a
context.

Constitutional disobedience may seem radical, but it is as old as the
Republic. In fact, the Constitution itself was born of constitutional
disobedience. When George Washington and the other framers went to Philadelphia
in 1787, they were instructed to suggest amendments to the Articles of
Confederation, which would have had to be ratified by the legislatures of all
13 states. Instead, in violation of their mandate, they abandoned the Articles,
wrote a new Constitution and provided that it would take effect after
ratification by only nine states, and by conventions in those states rather
than the state legislatures.

Seidman
provides other contextless examples, as well, citing John Adams supporting the
Alien and Sedition Acts, Jefferson’s notion that every constitution should
expire after a single generation, his Louisiana Purchase, and other instances
of presidents exceeding their constitutional authority, in addition to some
Supreme Court decisions he alleges go contrary to the Constitution.

In the face of this long history of disobedience, it is hard to take
seriously the claim by the Constitution’s defenders that we would be reduced to
a Hobbesian state of nature if we asserted our freedom from this ancient text.
Our sometimes flagrant disregard of the Constitution has not produced chaos or
totalitarianism; on the contrary, it has helped us to grow and prosper.

So,
because the Constitution was ignored, contradicted, or usurped in the past, we
may as well scrap it and begin anew, fabricating a “compact” that
answers the needs of our modern times. His reference to Thomas Hobbes, author
of Leviathan,
a 17th century political tract that sanctions strong or authoritarian
central governments, is evidence of Seidman’s superficial grasp of our current
situation. The federal government is assuredly on the road to a totalitarianism
of the Fascist/Marxist kind, and at present the bewildering forest of laws,
regulations, prohibitions, mandates, and powers has produced a chaos not easily
mastered even by the most knowledgeable statist or informed politician.

Seidman
then expresses a concern that by discarding the document that has so far
haltingly guaranteed certain liberties, we shouldn’t see the negation of those
liberties:

This is not to say that we should disobey all constitutional commands.
Freedom of speech and religion, equal protection of the laws and protections
against governmental deprivation of life, liberty or property are important,
whether or not they are in the Constitution. We should continue to follow those
requirements out of respect, not obligation.

You
must wonder what Seidman imagines would protect freedom of speech, life,
liberty, and property if there were no Constitutional restraints on what a
government may or may not do. What “respect” have a succession of
administrations and Congresses shown for them even with the Constitution? When has the New York Times ever shown
“respect” for them? What dictator or tyrant has shown
“respect” for them in the absence of such a Constitution? Without a
codified set of defined liberties and enumerated powers that a government may
not exceed, none of these liberties could be guaranteed or saved from obviation.

Seidman
begins to let his cat out of the bag.

And as we see now, the failure of the Congress and the White House to agree
has already destabilized the country. Countries like Britain and New Zealand
have systems of parliamentary supremacy and no written constitution, but are
held together by longstanding traditions, accepted modes of procedure and
engaged citizens. We, too, could draw on these resources.

So,
we should model ourselves after countries that are full-fledged welfare states
with no governmental restraints on what they can do for the “general
welfare”?

Seidman
endorses the linguistic analysis, subjectivist notion that the words in the
Constitution (as well as in the Declaration of Independence) have no relevance
to today’s collectivist spirit and yearnings, that they can be stretched or
“interpreted” to mean anything anyone wishes them to mean, and that obedience is the highest virtue a
citizen can aspire to. After referring to the Constitution as a “poetic
piece of parchment,” and cautioning that “
No one can predict in detail what our system of government would look like
if we freed ourselves from the shackles of constitutional obligation,
” he
writes:

If we acknowledged what should be obvious — that much constitutional
language is broad enough to encompass an almost infinitely wide range of
positions — we might have a very different attitude about the obligation to obey. It would become
apparent that people who disagree with us about the Constitution are not
violating a sacred text or our core commitments. Instead, we are all invoking a
common vocabulary to express aspirations that, at the broadest level, everyone
can embrace. [Italics mine]

Words
have no absolute meanings, but obedience
is an absolute obligation not to be questioned. And it can be predicted what
our system of government would look like sans
the shackles of constitutional obligation: authoritarian, and too likely,
totalitarian. No checks and balances, no referenda, no debates, no discussions,
no escape, mercy at the whim of a tyrant, and fiat law that would produce a
chaos which a régime would answer with more controls and exact more stringent
obedience on the part of the enslaved. The end result would be firing squads
and concentration camps and a lottery of death.

After
all, pleads Seidman:

If we are not to abandon constitutionalism entirely, then we might at least
understand it as a place for discussion, a demand that we make a good-faith
effort to understand the views of others, rather than as a tool to force others
to give up their moral and political judgments.

How
does adherence to the Constitution “force others to give up their moral
and political judgments”? It doesn’t, or shouldn’t, force liberals,
leftists, fascists, and Marxists to give up their political judgments. What it
does – or should do – is prevent them
from forcing their judgments on the rest of us. The federal government,
however, has been forcing their judgments
on the rest of us for well over a century. Freedom from “constitutional
bondage,” concludes Seidman, would allow us to “give real freedom a
chance.”

Whose
freedom? That of the statists, collectivists, and others who would be free to
lock everyone into a single barracks for indentured servants? All 20th
century tyrants have imposed dictatorial régimes as a means of granting
themselves the freedom to act.

Hello,
Mr. Seidman? Anybody home? Are you asking for an American version of Hitler’s Enabling
Act of 1933? His was passed by the Reichstag in an opera house. I think the
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts would also be a perfect venue to
vote ourselves into a dictatorship. Don’t you agree? The New York Times
certainly would.

Let
us now turn to the Times’ newly discovered TV station, Al Jazeera, which also
broadcasts “all the news that fits.” Fits what?

Lest
anyone think that Al Gore doesn’t believe in free enterprise, Bloomberg
News has a shock in store for you:

The deal
highlights Gore’s makeover from career politician to successful businessman.
His take from the Current TV sale is many times the maximum net worth of $1.7
million he reported while running for president in 1999. Besides investing in
startups, Gore is on the board of Apple Inc., an adviser to Google Inc.,
according to his website biography, and a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield
& Byers
. Gore’s holdings also include investments in Amazon.com Inc.,
EBay Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co. through his Generation Investment
Management LLP.

Most of Gore’s
investments are made through Generation Investment Management, which he
co-founded with former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive David Blood. The most
recent regulatory filing lists about $3.6 billion under management in 29
publicly traded companies. In addition, Generation Investment Management also
has stakes in private ventures such as Nest Labs, a company formed by Apple
Inc. alumni to create a thermostat that adapts to user behavior and saves
money. The fund also backed Elon Musk’s SolarCity Corp.
(SCTY)
, a developer of rooftop solar power systems that went public last
month.

In April, Gore’s
fund was part of $110 million in venture capital invested in Harvest Power
Inc., a closely held company that produces renewable energy from waste such as
food scraps.

Gore
can only strut as a “successful businessman” if the government
subsidizes these companies, or passes legislation forcing everyone else to
patronize them. So rich a man as Gore, in these times, can only
“profit” if he’s a member of what Ayn Rand called an
“aristocracy of pull.”

Forbes
notes further that Gore is also tax-savvy.

 Regardless of
whether one lauds or criticizes Mr. Gore’s actions in the sale to Al Jazeera,
he is likely to pay U.S. taxes influenced in part by the fiscal cliff deal.
Current TV has $41.4 million in debt and preferred holders with first dibs on
$99.5 million, according to a 2008 regulatory filing. Current TV appears to be
an LLC, and that will help Mr. Gore enormously.

How will Mr. Gore and his compatriots do? Initially named INdTV Holdings,
the Current TV LLC was founded in 2002 by Mr. Gore and businessman Joel Hyatt.
They appear to be shrewd investors. The LLC should facilitate a single tax on
the deal, not the two taxes common to more established businesses. LLCs are tax
reporting entities but the members pay tax on their share.

If Mr. Gore and other members sell their interests, their own tax basis in
their interests will count. But whether Al Jazeera is buying assets from
Current TV or membership interests from Mr. Gore and others, this should be a
nice single-tax payday. Not every business seller is so lucky.

But,
what about Al Jazeera?

Al
Jazeera is a Qatar-funded
“private” news organization that is acknowledged to be the propaganda
vehicle for the Muslim Brotherhood. 
Having gained little or no traction in finding carriage or distribution
in the U.S., it finally found a willing partner in Al Gore’s insipid
enterprise, Current TV. He has sold it to Al Jazeera for a reported $500
million, and will profit from the sale to the tune of $71 million. Al Jazeera’s
connections with the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorism bother him not. WND
reported, on announcement of the sale:

Al Jazeera this
week announced a plan to establish a new U.S. cable news channel, tentatively
call Al Jazeera America, utilizing the purchase of Current TV. The
Qatar-financed network is hoping to retain and even increase Current TV’s
distribution rights in more than 40 million homes to broadcast its own new
network.



Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E. are also major funders of terrorism, and
also of programs now installed in American public schools to persuade students
of the “benign” nature of totalitarian Islam. Gore failed to
brainwash the world with his An
Inconvenient Truth
, although he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his
failure, just as President Barack Obama was. But he found another way to skin
the cat.

Yusuf al-Qaradawi,
one of the top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, rose to fame in the Arab
world after Al Jazeera gave him his a major platform. Many regard Qaradawi as
the de facto spiritual leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Qaradawi achieved
star status because of his regular sermons and interviews on Al Jazeera.



Gore must know this. But the truth is inconvenient or irrelevant and he’d
rather not think about it.

Al Jazeera was
founded with financing from the emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al
Thani, who previously served as the network’s chairman. The network is still
financed largely from Qatar, where its headquarters are located. The current
chairman of Al Jazeera is Sheik Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani, the Qatari emir’s
cousin.


Keeping it in the family seems to be a theme shared by Al Jazeera and Current
TV. About Current TV, Bloomberg News reported that:

The network’s
investors included funds controlled by Los Angeles billionaire Ron Bruce
Burkett and San Francisco money manager Richard Blum, according to the 2008
filing, when the company unsuccessfully sought to sell stock to the public.
Blum is married to U.S.  Senator Dianne
Feinstein, a Democrat from San Francisco.

But,
back to Qatar.

The Qatar
Foundation International, or QFI, a nonprofit group financed by the government
of Qatar, last year gave Harlem’s Hamilton Heights, a K-5 public school, a
$250,000 grant to support the Arabic program for three years….

In addition to
the Harlem school, WND found that QFI just awarded “Curriculum Grants” to seven
U.S. schools and language organizations to “develop comprehensive and
innovative curricula and teaching materials to be used in any Arabic language
classroom.” The
schools include Bell High School, a Los Angeles public school, and Safford K-8

in Arizona’s Tucson Unified School District.



And, here’s that family connection again:
 

QFI, based in
Washington, D.C., is the U.S. branch of the Qatar Foundation, founded in 1995
by Qatari ruling emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Al Jazeera founder.
Thani is still the group’s vice-chairman, while his wife, Sheikha Moza bint
Nasser, chairs the organization’s board.


Why would Qatar be funding Arabic language programs in American schools? Why,
to better enable students to read the Koran
and its companion texts in the original tongue. It’s fairly common knowledge
among “Islamophobes” and other critics of Islam that what Islamic
spokesmen say publically in English is quite the opposite of what they say in
Arabic. This practice is called taqiyya
or Islamic double-speak.  If an Islamic
supremacist publically offers Israel or Obama or the West an olive branch, in
private, behind doors closed to the MSM, it says it is offering a slave collar
to infidels and a beheading sword to Jews.

WND
reports further:

In January 2012,
the foundation launched the Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics
under the guidance of Tariq Ramadan, who serves as the center’s director. Ramadan
is the grandson of the notorious founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al
Banna. Ramadan was banned from the U.S. until 2010 when the Obama
administration issued him a visa to give a lecture at a New York school.


It isn’t just the Brotherhood that is offering us slave collars and beheading
swords. It is our own President. And, don’t wonder where former Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton got her news about what was happening around the world
and a clue about how to formulate her own dismal and failed policies. The New
York Post had this interesting tidbit
about the popularity of Al Jazeera in the administration:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a Senate Foreign Relations
Committee last March that viewership of Al-Jazeera is going up in the US
“because it’s real news.”

“You may not agree with it, but you feel like you’re getting real news
around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments
between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news, which, you
know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners,” Clinton
said.

The
New York Times practically drools over the prospect of an Islamic propaganda
machine “competing” with the MSM, although the MSM hasn’t done too
badly acting as Obama’s de facto
Ministry of Truth. Only, it isn’t a Brotherhood-connected propaganda machine.
It’s just another news outlet that will help bring “truth” to the
American viewing public. Qatar is mentioned in its report, “Al Jazeera
English Finds an Audience” (January 31st, 2011), but no mention
of that oil fiefdom’s links to funding terrorism. Praising Al Jazeera during
the protests in 2011 against President Hosni Mubarak,
it noted:
Al Jazeera
English, however, is indisputably unique. In recent days, the channel, an
offshoot of the main Arabic-language Al Jazeera, has gained attention for its
up-close, around-the-clock coverage of the protests in Cairo, Alexandria, sues,
and other cities in Egypt.

Al
Jazeera is “unique,” without a doubt. It is the Brotherhood’s
propaganda outlet. The Times, guilty itself of recasting “facts” to
fit its political proclivities and ignoring genuine facts that don’t fit, can
no longer distinguish between news and propaganda, thus explaining why it would
applaud the debut of Al Jazeera in the U.S.

Mr.
Gore demonstrated just how good a businessman he is. He sold his pitiful
investment to an Islamic propaganda machine for more money than it was worth,
because it had “journalistic muscle” and the money – read oil money –
to compete with American news channels. In its January 2nd article
on the pending sale, “Al
 Jazeera
Seeks a U.S. Voice Where
Gore Failed,” the Times wrote:

Al Jazeera, the
pan-Arab news giant, has long tried to convince Americans that it is a legitimate
news organization, not a parrot of Middle Eastern propaganda or something more
sinister. It just bought itself 40 million more chances to make its case.

Al Jazeera on
Wednesday announced a deal
to take over Current TV, the low-rated cable channel that was founded by Al
Gore, a former vice president, and his business partners seven years ago. Al
Jazeera plans to shut Current and start an English-language channel, which will
be available in more than 40 million homes, with newscasts emanating from both
New York and Doha, Qatar….

A decade ago, Al
Jazeera’s flagship Arabic-language channel was reviled by American politicians
for showing videotapes from Al Qaeda members and sympathizers. Now the news
operation is buying an American channel, having convinced Mr. Gore and the
other owners of Current that it has the journalistic muscle and the money to
compete head-to-head with CNN and other news channels in the United States.

Well,
there will be no more vilification of Herr Goebbels’ – excuse me, Mr. Gore’s –
money moxie, nor of Al Jazeera, because it will have achieved
“respectability” as a legitimate news outlet in the U.S.

Going forward,
the challenge will be persuading Americans to watch — an extremely tough
proposition given the crowded television marketplace and the stereotypes about
the channel that persist to this day. “There are still people who will not
watch it, who will say that it’s a ‘terrorist network,’ ” said Philip Seib, the
author of The Al Jazeera Effect.  Al Jazeera has to override that by providing
quality news.”

It
will be a challenge. Americans are already
saddled with the MSM, which many no longer trust for objective news reporting,
and sense are heavily biased and serve as the government’s journalistic poodle
on one hand and a pit bull on the other. The MSM are considered by many to be
the collective mouthpiece of too many collectivist agendas that will affect
their lives, wealth, standard of living, and future. They’d rather get their
news from Internet weblogs and live-stream Internet channels. Still, oblivious
to the trends, the New York Times plods on.

Al Jazeera,
which has bureaus in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago,
intends to open several more in other American cities. “There’s a major hole
right now that Al Jazeera can fill. And that is providing an alternative
viewpoint to domestic news, which is very parochial,” said Cathy Rasenberger, a
cable consultant who has worked with Al Jazeera on distribution issues in the
past. However, she warned, “there is a limited amount of interest in
international news in the United States.”

Nowhere
in this article, either, is there mention of Al Jazeera’s terrorist
connections, no hint of the propaganda character of its Islamic origins and purposes,
no suggestion that Al Gore, an anti-wealth ex-politician and the Chicken Little
of global warming, is going to make a questionable, hypocritical, and national
security-violating bundle from the deal.  Not a word of any of that is remarked on by
the New York Times.

The
New York Times has grown as maliciously senile and useless as the radicals and left-wing
demonstrators from the 1960’s and 1970’s who chanted and shouted during the Occupy
Wall Street demonstrations to show their “solidarity” with the new
generation of fascists and Marxists. It abandoned honest, objective journalism
decades ago.

Perhaps
it’s time for it to consider voluntary retirement. It is no longer fit to read.

To Think or Not to Think: A Muslim’s “Outrageous Fortune”

In
his penetrating essay on the futility of Islam’s efforts to “reform”
itself through revolution, “régime change,” or purification, “Springtime
for Islam” (February 5th), Daniel Greenfield noted:

There is a
peculiar tragedy to a religion which cannot escape its own destructive nature,
each time it reaches for some form of redemption, its hands come up dripping
with blood and it all ends in more bodies and petty tyrannies.

“Reform,”
of course, means to change oneself or some institution for the better, from bad
and corrupt to good and pure, or at least to the unobtrusive benign. But, as
Greenfield points out and stresses, the Arab Spring is in reality a
continuation of an ongoing “Arab Winter.” The “Arab Spring”
was fueled by Islam, and Islam is, by its foundational nature, destructive and
self-destructive.

Islam’s only
redemption is in establishing a theocracy. Its commitment to power and the
indulgence of the earthly and heavenly paradise of loot, slaves and violence,
led to its own degeneration over and over again. Having no other spiritual form
than the exercise of power, it has corrupted itself each time, and then
attempted to exorcise the corruption through more of the same.

Any
theocracy must be totalitarian. It
can become totalitarian by default or happenstance or by negligence, or it can
become totalitarian according to an instruction manual written by clerics and intellectuals
friendly to what they know in their minds are dystopias for the masses and
paradises for the rulers. Islam has its instruction manuals.

Islam
governs an individual’s life from his sandals to his beard, from his diet to
the number of times a day he must demonstrate fealty to his icons, to how he
may lawfully (per Sharia law) treat his wives and children. It governs his social
relationships with his friends and enemies, and  his enemies are everyone who is not Muslim.
The  Koran,
the  Hadith,
and the Reliance of the Traveler
 all command it. They are how-to manuals written
chiefly in Arabic and translated into a dozen languages.

A Muslim
accepts this state of submission – whether or not he’s read all the manuals
from beginning to end – for a variety of reasons, none of them complimentary
and too often those reasons become a Molotov cocktail blend waiting to explode:
a repressed, unacknowledged fear of the mortal consequences of not conforming; mental inertia,
encouraged by an unquestioning faith in non-evidentiary assertions; a
delusional sense of superiority (qua
Muslim, and qua Muslim male); a sense
of predestination; an attitude of privilege and expectation of deference; and a
borrowed sense of omniscience.

After
all, the propaganda goes, Islam will conquer men, neighborhoods, cities,
nations, and the globe. It is written. Fealty to Islam gives a rank-and-file
Muslim the comforting confidence that he’s on the winning side. Why bother to
think about it? Islam is like an advancing glacier, and he is but a lump of ice
on it. He doesn’t mind. He knows that he’s just dross, a grain of ballast that helps
to keep the Islamic corsair upright and afloat and its sails taut in the wind.

Islam
cannot be “reformed” unless its caretakers repudiate its instruction
manuals. But their repudiation would necessarily entail the repudiation of
Islam. When the manuals go up in flames, so will Islam.

Writing
about the turmoil in the Middle East over the past two years, Greenfield bursts
the balloon, which has mesmerized Western leaders and the Mainstream Media, that
the turmoil represents a kind of weird “jihad” among Muslims to find
“democracy” and stability and a just society.

Apologists for
Islamism like to portray those groups as liberation movements, but there is
nothing liberating about terrorist groups run by millionaires and billionaires,
doctors and other degree holders, and funded by the ruling clans of Kuwait, the
UAE and Saudi Arabia. These ruling families have the most to lose from
modernization, and though they build skyscrapers in their cities, they also
helped orchestrate the Arab Spring to topple more modern governments and
replace them with parties affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Turkey,
which seemed to be sliding towards Westernization, has succumbed to the
intrinsic malaise that Islam inculcates in any culture, and has rejected the
West. It now has a leader, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who announced his Islamic
fealty long ago:

In a public gathering in 1998, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, leader of the ruling Islamist party and current
Prime Minister of Turkey, recited:
“The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our
bayonets and the faithful our soldiers…” These words earned him a
conviction and minor jail-term for inciting religious hatred.

He
has made good on his poetry,
and has accelerated Turkey’s collapse into an Islamic polity.

After
an interminable wait to be admitted into the European Union (a rather dubious
benefit, given the shaky economic and political condition of the EU), Erdoğan
has now spurned the chance and wishes to join a cabal of authoritarian
governments dominated by China and Vladimir Putin’s Russia, the Shanghai
Cooperation Organization.

Totalitarian
or authoritarian states will not automatically move in the direction of
“democracy” or Western values unless they renounce their obsession
with power. The Mideast, however, is now a battleground for power between
Islamic factions. The “Arab Spring,” as Greenfield portrays it, was
simply a rerun of past Mideast “rebellions” and
“revolutions” and upheavals, only with different faces, mobs, slogans
and weapons.

Islam
in any country where it has reigned for decades will not let that country go. Like
a tapeworm, it gnaws away at men’s minds and the culture until the men and the
culture submit and accept Islam as a parasite by right.

Let
us imagine that a work-a-day, average, devout Muslim permits himself a secret,
muffled chuckle about his conundrum and how deep a hole he has dug himself into
by just “going with the Islamic flow,” and is content with being a grain
of ballast in the Islamic ship-of-state. He might laugh at himself, but what is
it that he would really be laughing about when he’s brought to the brink of
doubt or bothers to entertain speculation, especially about Islam? The
ludicrousness of his beliefs, of his unquestioned assumptions, and the ubiquitous
banality of the evil they foster, when they are brought into the unforgiving
sunlight of reason and rationality.


A Muslim who still retains a shred of repressed rationality would think in a
surreptitious manner it would be hard for any normal person to imagine: What?
Why do I suspect in the darkest corner of my heart that Allah is really a
psychopathic, whim-worshipping deity whom I would not want for a parent?

What?
Was Mohammed, our faceless poster boy of virtue and goodness, really a brigand
who founded a religion to justify his sociopathic habits, such as murder,
pedophilia, rape, betrayal, dishonesty, and plunder? What? If Islam is so
benevolent and peace-loving and magnanimous, why does it promise eternal hell
and the most agonizing torments of apostates
and non-believers?

What?
That man over there has his own deity, and I have mine, yet I am expected to
slit his throat for not believing in mine, while he would never think to slit
mine for not believing in his? What? What have these children done that they
deserve to have guns put to their heads and murdered? What? Why are young girls
tortured by clitirectomies?

What?
What possesses parents when they conspire to murder their own daughters? Where
is the “honor” in killing them because they wished to escape the
suffocating ethos and burqas? What? How is beating one’s wife for simple
infractions or for disobedience an act of justice? How heinous a crime is it
for a wife to glance at another man, and is it more heinous to murder her for
it?

What?
If infidel women who do not cover up are filthy whores, would it not make sense
to not rape them, and not risk contracting their filth? What?
If alcohol is evil, why does it make so many people happy? Is happiness evil? What?
Why do I deny myself everything that seems to allow infidels and even Jews to
enjoy living?

What?
Can Allah be so pleased with having created so many unhappy, envious, and
hateful beings – as we are?

Envy
in a Muslim may not necessarily lead to crime. He would need to hide it from
his fellows. Jealousy, another powerful emotion, however, can lead to hate and
trigger the crimes and irrationality a Muslim may harbor doubts about. It’s up
to him which way he goes.



The Muslim who asks himself those questions, becomes an apostate. But there
aren’t very many of them running around, are there? That is because Islam is a nihilistic,
totalitarian ideology, perfect for anyone who refuses to think. Those who
choose to think are marked for a fatwa and termination. They know it. That
takes courage and honesty, and a commitment to reality, actions possible only
to an individual who chooses to think.

They,
better than anyone else, more than any non-Muslim scholar who questions the
morality and feasibility of Islam, know that Islam cannot be “reformed,”
not in its doctrines, not through revolution or régime change or rioting in
Tahir Square or fighting each other in Syria.

 

The Twenty-Eighth Amendment

The
rectangle of light in the acres of a farm was the window of the library of
Judge Narragansett. He sat at a table, and the light of his lamp fell on the
copy of an ancient document. He had marked and crossed out the contradictions
in its statements that had once been the cause of its destruction. He was now
adding a new clause to its pages: “Congress shall make no law abridging
the freedom of production and trade….”
*

Who
is Judge Narragansett? What “ancient document” is he editing? And where
is he doing it?

Anyone
who has read Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas
 Shrugged
will recognize the
scene, which occurs near the end of the novel, when all the key strikers are secretly
gathered in Galt’s Gulch to await the collapse of the world they escaped. But I
think too little attention has been paid to that short but key scene. When one
boils down the active plot of the novel, one will see that all the conflicts
and subplots are generated by the government having the power to abridge the
freedom of production and trade. In short, to regulate and ultimately abolish
the role of man’s mind in existence. Dagny Taggart, the railroad
“tycoon,” is stymied by government rules and regulations of her
freedom to act. So is Hank Rearden, who is blackmailed into giving the government
the right to dispose of his new metal process and forced to “compete”
with incompetents.

So
are all the novel’s other producers and traders who vanish to leave the country
and the world to try to flourish without them. This includes doctors, who
refuse to work as indentured servants, and writers, and artists, and
industrialists, and “common” men who did not wish to remain held down
by the wishes of other men….and judges, who refuse to sanction injustice.

That
was Judge Narragansett.**

Think
for a moment of what his emendation of the Constitution implies and means. Of all
the actions men might take to reclaim and preserve their freedom, that one
correction is perhaps the most critical if a government is to be (re)formed
that would break the bonds, chains, and fetters with and of the old. The Declaration
of Independence reads:

That to secure
these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers
from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government
becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to
abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such
principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most
likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Correcting
and amending the Constitution would be a form of “instituting” a new government,
founded on the principle of individual rights and defining the concept of the
initiation of force – especially that of a government. The federal government needn’t
be overthrown physically by violence, or even abolished; it should be overthrown or leashed by an
idea, by reason, and that can be done with Narragansett’s corrections. That is,
it should be radically altered to effect the safety and happiness of Americans.

But,
what “rights” should be secured, what “rights” are
destroyed by government force and unlimited power?

Novelist/philosopher
Ayn Rand
wrote:

A “right” is a
moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social
context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its
consequences or corollaries): a man’s right to his own life….The concept of a
“right” pertains only to action—specifically, to freedom of action. It means
freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.***

By
“other men,” Rand meant the agents of government force, and the
politicians who empowered them to initiate force with their legislation. That includes
every bureaucrat, department head, and even the occupant of the White House.

There
is a question circulating about whether or not a third political party would
serve the purpose of ensuring the preservation of our rights. I think that
question misses the point and it has not been answered in any practical or
meaningful way.

The
solution to the problem of the number of political parties lies in those last
pages of Atlas Shrugged. Judge
Narragansett is writing on a copy of the Constitution , “Congress shall
make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade….” 

That
clause or amendment would prohibit any politician, Republican, Democrat, or
third party, from acquiring any power over the economy and our lives. It’s that
simple. Any scheme originating in the House – assuming it could even pass –
would ideally be scotched and rejected by the Senate. The legislation would
never make the trip to the White House to be vetoed. The Senate, after all, was
designed to quash any and all populist or “democratic” legislation. Modeled
on the British Parliament’s Houses of Commons and Lords, it was created to be
the ultimate protector of the individual rights, private property, and so on.  It has fallen down on that task, or forgotten
its purpose (virtually every politician in Congress has but a very fuzzy grasp
of what their chambers are for, never mind understanding the purpose of the
Constitution), often conspiring with the House on how to write and pass statist
legislation.  

If
our representatives were prohibited from concocting any legislation that would abridge
the freedom of production and trade, and held accountable for it by their
constituents and the courts, then no politician could take action to expand the
power of government without being opposed by his colleagues. Most politicians
would stay home or not even run for office if there were no prospect of passing
such legislation.

Ideally,
Congress would sit for perhaps two weeks a year – at most, a month – to clear
up issues that might have arisen since the last session. Senators and Representatives
would have no sumptuous salaries, have to make do with a minuscule staff (which
they’d pay for from their pockets, unless their constituents chipped in to pay
for staff), they would have no pensions, no medical or transportation perks, no
junkets, little or nothing for free or paid for them. And when they retired or
weren’t reelected, they’d go back to their private businesses and live like
everyone else. 

Above
all, they would not be granted immunity from the consequences of their actions,
as they are now. They would be held accountable and liable for criminal prosecution,
as any other citizen would be for initiating force or committing fraud. One of
the most laughable and recent instances of the absence of this brand of justice
is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s admission during a Senate hearing of
responsibility for the Benghazi terrorist raid. Yet she will leave the post
with lifetime pensions and perks and be able to prepare herself to run for
president in 2016.

This
is rewarding irresponsibility. That has been the Washington way for decades of
holding politicians guilty of criminal or maleficent behavior
“accountable.” That has got to stop. And stopping it would serve as a
deterrent against any one with political ambitions that go beyond the proper functions
of government in domestic and foreign policies.

Not
being able to pass rights-violating legislation – or seeing that it would be an
onerous project – would act as a disincentive for any ambitious statist. Rand
put her finger on a fundamental political principle in that one scene in the
novel. The Constitution, after all, was created to define the limits of government,
not serve as a recipe for the expansion of federal powers. And that was the
intention of that Narragansett scene.

And
what might be the other clauses in what hypothetically could be the Twenty-Eighth
Amendment to the Constitution?
For starters, the nullification of the Sixteenth
Amendment, the income tax amendment, which technically was never ratified
except on one politician’s say-so. Then there is the Seventeenth Amendment,
which provides for the direct election of Senators, which has contributed to
the prostitution of the Senate, turning its members from Solons to electoral
street walkers. This correction might necessitate a separate amendment, and not
just a clause. The direct election of Senators has caused incalculable damage
and mischief.

The
Eighteenth Amendment, sanctioning Prohibition, was repealed by the Twenty-First.

The
Twenty-Sixth Amendment, which provides for the voting rights of anyone eighteen
years old or older, is a questionable amendment. Is the age of eighteen one in which
an individual has acquired enough knowledge of politics and his rights to have
a say in government? I doubt it. I think two or three years should be added to
ensure that an individual acquires that knowledge once he has become a
productive individual supporting his own life.

The
Twenty-Seventh Amendment, under Judge Narragansett’s pen, would become moot.

Revenue
might be collected (non-coercively) for the upkeep of the Capitol Building, the
White House, and other necessary federal buildings, and also for maintaining the
military and federal courts. But for little else. A separate amendment might be
required to cover these contingencies, but would also require a new set of Federalist  Papers to iron out the ways and means.
Today’s politicians and political thinkers, however, are just not qualified to
write those papers. One may as well assign the task to the Three Stooges and
appoint Karl Marx, David Axelrod, Barack Obama, and Nancy Pelosi as their
mentors.

Judge
Narragansett’s twelve words in a Twenty-Eighth Amendment could make all the difference
in the world – and in our lives.

*Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. 1957. New
York: Dutton/Penguin 35th Anniversary Edition, 1992. pp. 1167-1168.

**For
his explanation of why he went on strike, see pp. 742-743 of the novel.

***”Man’s
Rights,” The Virtue of Selfishness.

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