The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

Month: September 2013

An Encomium for an Unsung Writer

Greenfield, the Sultan Knish columnist and frequent contributor to FrontPage’s
The Point Blog, is one of the most perceptive, objective, prolific, and ruthless
observers of contemporary politics and culture in the country. He writes things
Charles Krauthammer would be hesitant to publish, and says things no one on Fox
News would dare utter.
is because he is an intellectual, a thinker in fundamentals, and so he has a
far wider perspective on things Islamic than has any newspaper pundit or TV
anchor or teleprompter reader.
of the first tasks I perform when returning to my computer after a night’s
sleep is to hunt up and read his latest pieces. I do not know how he keeps up
the pace and the output. I’ve often kidded him by asking him if he has a time
warp device that allows him to vanish into a timeless realm to cover and
produce as much copy as he does, and then emerge from it to have a bite to eat
and take a nap. That way he could keep to the twenty-four hour day with the
rest of us.
will only admit that it is “like racing along a treadmill manned by
Marxist clowns.”
often than not his Sultan Knish columns are evocative of H.L. Mencken at his
best: wryly ironic, sometimes bitter, always contemptuous of politicians and
activists who suffer from foot-in-mouth disease or who have been lobotomized by
political correctness, or who are just plain morally and/or politically corrupt.
Regardless of his mood, he will make an unforgettable point. A few times he
might over-write, and occasionally a grammatical error might creep in, but such
lapses are so infrequent it would be picayune to dwell on them. Given the
caliber of his intellect and his bare-knuckles honesty, readers are getting a
has a devoted and growing readership. He has been writing “Sultan
Knish” since 2005 and for FrontPage since 2011. His FrontPage byline
reads: “… a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center… a New York
writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international
challenges America faces in the 21st century.”
example of his thinking is his latest Sultan Knish column, “The
Gang Religion of Islam
,” written on the occasion of the attack on the Westgate
in Nairobi,
Kenya over the weekend. While the attack and massacre of non-Muslims (and
perhaps of a few Muslims who weren’t lucky enough to be asked to recite an
Islamic prayer or name Mohammad’s mother) has been claimed by Al-Shabab, a
faction of the Somalian jihadist gang of the same name, Greenfield points out
that the particular umbrella name of the killers hardly matters. The attack
could’ve been planned and executed by any other jihadist outfit: Hamas, Hezbollah,
Al-Qa’ida Central, the Muslim Brotherhood, or any one of numerous units of the
“Free Syrian Army.”
short, Greenfield did not use the notion of “gangs” as a mere
metaphor. He identified Islam’s core modus
: kill for the sake of killing.  
one reader of “Gang Religion,” who commented on Islam’s “Golden
Age,” Greenfield replied:
Islam is not conducive to philosophy. You can’t read
it and gain a larger sense of the world. There’s no room for speculation
afterward. It’s a series of badly cribbed scriptures and the narrative of
Islam’s present, past and future wars.
short, Immanuel Kant had a philosophy (with which Islam and modern Western
culture are largely copasetic). Hegel had a philosophy (which let loose today’s
Marxists and Progressives and other totalitarians). Martin Heidegger had a
philosophy (which sanctioned Nazism). Christianity and Judaism have their
has no philosophy that pursues the meaning of life. In it, speculation is
prohibited. As such, it can only obsess with the meaning of death, without
page-long Kantian paragraphs that explicate its death-worship.
at bottom is imbecilic and it attracts recidivist imbeciles. Passive Muslims
are those who religiously go to mosque and question nothing. Activist Muslims
are the killer imbeciles who fly planes into skyscrapers, prey on non-Muslim
women in Britain and Europe, and invade shopping malls, guns blazing.
“Golden Age” is based on Greek and Roman texts which invading Arabs
might have discovered and preserved, but which they did not originate and which
were subsequently disdained as un-Islamic.
Islam, if it can be called a philosophy, is a philosophy of nihilism and death.
Islam, as Greenfield describes it (and too few others critical of Islam), is a
manual for conquest, submission and self-immolation cobbled together from other
creeds, chiefly from Judaism and Christianity, while Allah was originally a
pagan moon god. There is no system or structure to it. It is an arbitrary,
unwholesome porridge of assertions, sayings, anecdotes, and dicta, a disparate
potpourri of statements of dubious authorship whose central theme is “conquer
them, convert them, or kill
them.” It appeals to psychopaths and
sociopaths – the jihadists – and to the morally rootless and selfless rank-and-file
Muslims, that “silent majority” of manqués who refuse to think. But
its overall thesis is explained by Greenfield in his opening paragraph:
Killing non-Muslims is the point of Islam. To the
extent that it has any point. That isn’t to say that Islam doesn’t preach the
virtues of charity and love for one’s fellow Muslim. It does. But its virtues
are not original. Like most of the rest of the framework of it, they are lifted
from existing religions.
a day passes anymore without news of another spate of Muslim honor killings,
rapes of child brides, or of mass murders of Muslims by Muslims of either sect,
or of the targeting of Westerners and others not of the Islamic suasion for
slaughter or rape. All of it done in the name of Allah, or for the sake of
being a “good Muslim.” Since 9/11, nearly 20,000 acts of Islamic
terror have been committed. Perhaps more. Someone is
keeping count.
Greenfield asks the question: If these crimes were instead committed by men for
no ostensive or alleged religious reason, would we not deem them crimes,
regardless of the upbringing or religious background of the perpetrators?
Charles Manson, Richard Speck, Aaron Alexis and other mass murderers committed
their crimes without benefit of religion or ideology. They were psychotics,
sociopaths, or simply nihilistic. Still, we hold them responsible for their
crimes. What difference to the victims should it make that they have been
slaughtered in the name of a deity? What difference should it make to us that
they were slaughtered for a religious reason, or in the name of a deluded
vision or for no comprehensible reason at all?
leads into his thesis:
Islam may have become a religion, but it began as a
code. Like the Pirate Code or the Thieves Law of Russia, it was a set of rules
that allowed a select group of bandits to choose leaders, plan attacks and
divide the loot.

The code invested their actions with meaning, it kept order in their ranks and
allowed the members to believe that dying for the gang was more than a martial
ethos, but also contained a spiritual element. Similar attempts to invest gang
life with spirituality can be found in the tattoos, rap songs and graffiti
memorials of every street gang in America. 

what are street gangs notorious for? Violence. Killing. Terrorism. With guns,
with tire irons, baseball bats, knives, or anything else that is proven to be
Imagine the Kingism of the Latin Kings street gang,
which has its own prayers, crude theology and philosophy becoming the religion
of the gangs ruling over a Post-American civilization. In the 80s, the Chicago
gang Blackstone Rangers realized the benefits of becoming a religion and
declared itself the El Rukn tribe of the Moorish Science Temple of America.

Despite the elaborate mythology, the Latin Kings is a gang first and a religion
second. In time it might become a full religion, stranger things have happened,
but it will never be able to escape its origins. It will at its heart always be
a gang code with an emphasis on providing a spiritual overlay for gang

And that is the case with Islam.
nothing new. Let’s go back to the early 20th century, and the
Chicago of that era, and to the St.
Valentine’s Day Massacre
of February 14th, 1929. In a reprise of
the event, John O’Brien of the Chicago Tribune wrote:
On this frigid morning, in an unheated brick garage at
2122 N. Clark St., seven men were lined up against a whitewashed wall and
pumped with 90 bullets from submachine guns, shotguns and a revolver. It was
the most infamous of all gangland slayings in America, and it savagely achieved
its purpose–the elimination of the last challenge to Al Capone for the mantle
of crime boss in Chicago.
was the prize? The undisputed monopoly of distributing prohibited liquor to the
city and its surroundings.
The victims, killed outright or left dying in the
garage, included Frank “Hock” Gusenberg, [George “Bugs”] Moran’s
enforcer, and his brother, Peter “Goosy” Gusenberg. Four of the other
victims were Moran gangsters, but the seventh dead man was Dr. Reinhardt
Schwimmer, an optician who cavorted with criminals for thrills. Missing that morning
was Capone’s prize, Moran, who slept in.
gangs have attracted hangers-on who are fascinated by the power gangs enjoyed
with near impunity. Another hanger-on who cavorted with gangsters was Saul
, whose mentor, Al Capone’s gang “manager” Frank Nitti,
helped him to formulate his “rules for radicals
and “community organizing” techniques.
there really any difference between the mob wars of the 1920’s and 1930’s, and
the conflicts between the Sunnis and the Shi’ites? Except for the religious
coloring, both sects seek uncontested dominance over the other, preferably by
extinction of the other.
one say more about “gangster government”? In attacking the Obama
seizure of the auto industry, Michelle Bachmann must have done her homework on
the origins of President Barack Obama’s policies, as well. She called the whole
phenomenon “gangster
is the attraction of Islam to psychopaths, sociopaths, and nihilists? As
Greenfield explains:
After over a thousand years, after its own empires and
conquests stretching around the world, after endless religious schools, reform
movements, theological debates and splinter groups, Islam is not able to leave
its gang roots behind. It is still at its core a gang religion. That is why it
appeals so well to convicts who recognize that they are interacting with
something far more ancient than Kingism.

That is also why Islam, like most street gangs, degenerates so readily into
internecine violence. No matter how much its devotees dream of conquering the
decadent West and planting the black flag of Islam everywhere, they can’t help
turning their guns on each other, because gangs are naturally primed to fight
amongst themselves. The gang code never suffices to settle disputes among men
who live by violence. They may fight to impose Islamic law on the world, but
they can’t live by it.

are we witnessing in Syria, in Libya, in Egypt, in Kenya, in Nigeria? Only the
Capone and Moran gangs tricked out in ghutras or shemaghs or keffiyah masks and
wearing suicide vests or carrying AK47’s and grenades.  Just as Capone’s and Nitti’s Chicago Outfit
couldn’t keep the truce with other gangs, so the Sunnis and Shi’ites and other
Islamic sects can’t unite permanently, only temporarily, when they gang up on
non-gang members. Non-Muslims.
Syria is Islam at its most primal with gangs fighting
over the ruins of cities, small groups joining up, Shiite and Sunni militias
killing each other, Free Syrian Army and Al Nusra Front gangs fighting over
bakeries and pipelines, an endless stream of recruits from around the world
rushing to join up in a gang war that has claimed over 100,000 lives.
even America’s bootleg and drug gangs and modern organized crime families can
top that figure. And that figure is only the tip of a mountain of corpses that
began growing in the 7th century.
And the question was how do you keep a band of bandits
from stabbing each other over the loot while convincing them that if they die
while stealing a goat or raping someone’s third wife, they’ll go to a magical
place full of goats and virginal third wives with skin of the color of bone

As the holy warriors of the Syrian Civil War killing each other over control of
bakeries while fighting to impose the perfection of Islamic Law on everyone can
tell you, it’s not a very good answer even to that question. It’s an even worse
answer to any larger social problem that doesn’t involve twenty men trying to
divide the profits from one raid on an abandoned university.

But when a religion is based on gang violence and because of that inevitably
reverts to gang violence, it’s an answer that keeps coming up again and again.

The answer of Islam is the answer of violence. It’s
the answer of uniting the various gangs around killing non-Muslims. Sometimes
that answer even works.
Muslims can deal with the conundrum. Raheel Raza, for example, in his September
25th Gatestone column, “The Danger in
Our Midst
,” addresses it. His article is fundamentally an overture to
repudiation. Writing about the recent violence in Nairobi, he asks:
Is it because there are verses in the Qu’ran that can
be, and have been, used to justify violence against non-Muslims? If this is the
situation, then it is time for us to lift our heads out of the sand, and
understand that the enemy is within.
is a prisoner of its own rationalistic Möbius strip. It can’t escape its
nature, writes Greenfield. It is congenitally doomed by its defective,
anti-life purposes and ends. It can’t be “reformed” without
repudiating its core premises and therefore obviating it. Its metaphysics is
impossible and the stuff of Looney
, and its epistemology is intrinsically blood-red.
“ideal” Islam, writes Greenfield, isn’t Muslims butchering each other
in Syria.
Islam finds its meaning from fighting and killing
non-Muslims. It is the only meaning that it can ever have. The exercises of its
devotees who memorize countless Koranic verses, who debate the fine points of
laws and prepare for their pilgrimages to Mecca must inevitably converge on the
violent core that gives the whole thing purpose.

The historical dynamic of Islam has never left behind its gang origins. Its
future is measured in terms of conquest and more conquest. The manifest destiny
of Islam is an eating contest as its holy warriors cram more and more territories
and people into an expanding Caliphate that falls apart vomiting up the
conquests into chaos. The lessons are never learned. The holy warriors fall to
fighting each other.

congenital condition can be likened to the steel pin ball that will always roll
towards the bottom, no matter how furiously the Islamic scholars work the
flippers. No matter how many times they send the ball back up to score on one
of the buttons, the ball’s ultimate and only destination is the black hole of
lessons can’t be learned, because Muslims have a vested interest in the
impossible metaphysics and feel naked without flaunting their blood-soaked
epistemology in reams and sound-bytes of taqiyya
and practiced dissimulation. Greenfield writes:
Every fourth gang hip-hop song is about how hard it is
to leave the gang life. The other three are about how everyone else out there
is a pretender and not a real gangsta. That is Islam in a nutshell. Islamic
civilization can’t leave the gang life and insists that every other
civilization and even most other Muslims are pretenders and that only the
Salafiest of the Salafists are the real Gangstas.
one, not even the most authoritative, articulate, and well-read
“Islamophobes” in the blog realm can inveigh against Islam as
Greenfield can and does consistently and with haunting prose. He goes to the
core issue of Islam and reveals its fetid, dank nature. He finds no redemption
in its diseased leprosy. It’s unfortunate that his work is confined to the blog
realm, because more people concerned with Islam would profit by imbibing it.
knows there are no such things as “moderate” Islamists or
“radical” Islamists or even “militant” Islamists. The adjectival
terms are merely evasions indulged in by men who have their own mental problems.
In Islam, there are only the passive dullards, and the disconnected
“activists.” He knows that jihadists are simply being consistent with
their gangster code, adhering to the whole panoply of Koranic ideology in
pretend exercises in “spirituality.” Being consistent means killing,
either the heretical other, or the “People of the Book.” That is the
nature of any terrorist organization or creed.
that is Islam. Even run-of-the-mill criminals need a philosophy of life, even
if it is unarticulated or founded on paranoia or schizophrenia or on some
Rosicrucian-like delusion.
however, articulates a philosophy of death.
you want a powerful guide to the unabridged, naked hell that is Islam, Daniel Greenfield
is your Dante.  

Equal Opportunity for the Ugly

I was about ten years old (in the 1950’s), my foster father and I drove out to
run some errands. On the way, we were stopped by a black traffic cop who was
directing traffic at an intersection. I had never seen a black man before, so I
was not a little stunned and curious. All I saw was a black man in a blue uniform blowing his
whistle. My foster father, however, stunned me even more. He muttered,
“Damn niggers are taking over the world!”
gave him a shocked look that must have looked to him like a reproach, because
when we got back home, he took his belt to me.
another occasion, when I was about the same age, the family had
“company” over for dinner. Someone asked me – because the subject
must have been race, but I don’t recall the particular details – it must have
been one of my foster folks, “What color are we, Ed?” I answered,
answer. It earned me another session with the strap after the company left.
this column isn’t about race or color-blindness. It’s about the new egalitarian
push to grant ugly or homely people – race optional – their “fair share”
of entitlements and a generous dollop of “social justice.” It’s about
the educational
and cultural establishment
taking their belts to human esthetics and all
measurements of value. And by “belt,” I mean government force.
issue of ugly people has been gathering steam since at least 2011. Stanford
Junior University law professor Deborah L. Rhode, in her
2010 book, The
Beauty Bias
, began thumping the war drums about the “injustice of
appearance in life and law.” I quote from the synopsis of her book, in
which Rhode or her publisher’s copywriter noted, after claiming that the annual
global investment in appearance is in the neighborhood of $200 billion:
Many individuals experience stigma, discrimination,
and related difficulties, such as eating disorders, depression, and risky
dieting and cosmetic procedures. Women bear a vastly disproportionate share of
those costs, in part because they face standards more exacting than those for
men, and pay greater penalties for falling short.
was Rhode’s liberal/left call-to-arms. Next, she gets to the totalitarian nub
of her opus:
The Beauty
explores the social, biological,
market, and media forces that have contributed to appearance-related problems,
as well as feminism’s difficulties in confronting them…. Appearance-related
bias infringes fundamental rights, compromises merit principles, reinforces
debilitating stereotypes, and compounds the disadvantages of race, class, and
gender….The Beauty Bias provides the
first systematic survey of how [existing] appearance laws work in practice, and
a compelling argument for extending their reach….
book was published by the Oxford University Press in May 2010. It was favorably
received by Publishers Weekly, the Christian Science Monitor,, and a
passel of notorious distaff gender studies entities. I was surprised not to see
the Huffington Post and other liberal/left blog sites endorse the book. In the
reviews, she is cited as “the nation’s most cited scholar on professional
to whom? Or to what? You fill in the blanks. If individuals aren’t permitted to
establish their own esthetic values – even if they enter an employer’s
calculations of what he finds suitable for employment, or for a wife, or for a
work of art, then who or what will establish them for him?
April 2013, Daniel Hamermesh’s book, Beauty
, appeared from Princeton University Press to the acclaim of
Publishers Weekly, the New Yorker, the New York Journal of Books, Forbes, the
Daily Mail, and an audience of obedient critics responding to
liberal/collectivist autosuggestion. Hamermesh is a
professor of economics at the University of Texas-Austin and a research
associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. His work has been
subsidized by the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies, and he
has written on the economic aspects of “beauty, sleep and suicide.”
missed one major realm of research: the economic impact of picking lint from one’s
belly button.
his book synopsis:
Most of us know there is a payoff to looking good, and
in the quest for beauty we spend countless hours and billions of dollars on
personal grooming, cosmetics, and plastic surgery….
former Speaker of the House Nancy “Let’s see what’s in it” Pelosi, a
soul-mate of Hamermesh, who has spent a fortune on plastic surgery and/or Botox
injections to present to the American public a mask of motherly and despotic benevolence.
The first book to seriously measure the advantages of
beauty, Beauty Pays demonstrates how
society favors the beautiful and how better-looking people experience startling
but undeniable benefits in all aspects of life….
happened to Rhode’s book? Wasn’t it
the first one to seriously measure the advantages of beauty? But, we quibble.
In a Huffington Post interview
of September 2nd, 2011, Hamermesh reveals his premises.
To me the crucial question is whether we should think
of beauty as productive, or as reflecting discrimination. This is a very tough
question, since there’s no doubt that hiring a beautiful person raises a
company’s sales. I would argue that beauty’s effects reflect societal
discrimination, and that is not inherently productive.
isn’t often that one sees a glaring contradiction in the space of one short
paragraph. On one hand, Hamermesh says, a “beautiful person”
undoubtedly raises a company’s sales. On the other hand, because of
“societal discrimination,” raising a company’s sales isn’t
productive. Go figure.
was asked to define beautiful and ugly persons.
I wouldn’t and can’t. It’s like pornography – I know
it when I see it.
Hamermesh wouldn’t dream of revealing his personal measure of beauty and
ugliness. These measures, he contends, are a consequence of a societal
his August 27th New
York Times op-ed
, “Ugly? You May Have a Case,” Hamermesh reveals
his true agenda, which is to correct society’s “consensus” with fiat
A more radical solution may be needed: why not offer
legal protections to the ugly, as we do with racial, ethnic and religious
minorities, women and handicapped individuals?
We actually already do offer such protections in a few
places, including in some jurisdictions in California, and in the District of
Columbia, where discriminatory treatment based on looks in hiring, promotions,
housing and other areas is prohibited. Ugliness could be protected generally in
the United States by small extensions of the Americans With Disabilities Act.
Ugly people could be allowed to seek help from the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission and other agencies in overcoming the effects of discrimination. We
could even have affirmative-action programs for the ugly.
looks like a jolly
old fellow
with a beard who wouldn’t hurt a fly. He might have even
chuckled at a relevant “Seinfeld” scene. But
he didn’t write his op-ed tongue-in-cheek or as a suggestion for a Saturday
Night Live skit. He is serious. He is proposing that the government employ
force to “aid” the ugly.
For purposes of administering a law, we surely could
agree on who is truly ugly, perhaps the worst-looking 1 or 2 percent of the
population. The difficulties in classification are little greater than those
faced in deciding who qualifies for protection on grounds of disabilities that
limit the activities of daily life, as shown by conflicting decisions in
numerous legal cases involving obesity….
Economic arguments for protecting the ugly are as
strong as those for protecting some groups currently covered by legislation. So
why not go ahead and expand protection to the looks-challenged?….
You might reasonably disagree and argue for protecting
all deserving groups. Either way, you shouldn’t be surprised to see the United
States heading toward this new legal frontier.
we shouldn’t be surprised, especially when entities like Stanford law professor
Deborah Rhode are all for anti-discrimination laws that would protect
(“promote”?) the ugly and penalize the beautiful, and when there are
countless individuals who would readily and shamelessly claim that they were
discriminated against because of their looks. And who might be the
“we” who would “agree” on who is ugly? An “Ugliness
Panel” convened under the aegis of an ObamaLooks law? Perhaps the panel
would recommend that people be sent to hospitals to have their looks corrected,
to give them a better chance at jobs and life in general.
Serling’s Twilight Zone episode, “The
Eye of the Beholder
,” is a classic tale of what our government wardens
would have in mind. 
Graham, in her August 23rd Boston Globe column, “Who
will fight the beauty bias
?”, natters on about the beauty-vs.-ugly
issue without committing herself to any legal or “social” remedies.
The galloping injustice of “lookism” has not
escaped psychologists, economists, sociologists, and legal scholars. Stanford
law professor Deborah L. Rhode’s book, The
Beauty Bias
, lamented “the injustice of appearance in life and
law,” while University of Texas, Austin economist Daniel Hamermesh’s 2011 Beauty Pays…traced the concrete benefits
of attractiveness, including a $230,000 lifetime earnings advantage over the
now we will add “lookism” to the list of ism’s and phobias that have
sanctioned curative legislation: ageism, heightism, sexism, homophobia, deafism,
mutism, Islamophobia, racism, weightism. Have I left anything out? Oh, yes.
all the articles I have read while researching this column, I did not encounter
a single definition of beauty or ugly regarding the human visage. The writers
wrote from their own vague, woozy notions of what those terms mean, yet they
are willing to legislate politically correct esthetics based on their
approximations of what the terms mean.
Ayn Rand wrote
clearly on the subject.
Beauty is a sense of harmony. Whether it’s an image, a
human face, a body, or a sunset, take the object which you call beautiful, as a
unit [and ask yourself]: what parts is it made up of, what are its constituent
elements, and are they all harmonious? If they are, the result is beautiful. If
there are contradictions and clashes, the result is marred or positively ugly.
For instance, the simplest example would be a human
face. You know what features belong in a human face. Well, if the face is
lopsided, [with a] very indefinite jaw-line, very small eyes, beautiful mouth,
and a long nose, you would have to say that’s not a beautiful face. But
if all these features are harmoniously integrated, if they all fit your view of
the importance of all these features on a human face, then that face is
are examples of what Rand means by harmony (John Singer
Sargent’s “Lady Agnew of Lochnaw,” and the ugly, distorted, and
(Chuck Close’s gallery).
Now since this is an objective definition of
beauty, there of course can be universal standards of beauty—provided you
define the terms of what objects you are going to classify as beautiful and
what you take as the ideal harmonious relationship of the elements of that
particular object. To say, “It’s in the eyes of the beholder”—that, of course,
would be pure subjectivism, if taken literally. It isn’t [a matter of] what
you, for unknown reasons, decide to regard as beautiful. It is true, of course,
that if there were no valuers, then nothing could be valued as beautiful or
ugly, because values are created by the observing consciousness—but they are
created by a standard based on reality. So here the issue is: values, including
beauty, have to be judged as objective, not subjective or intrinsic.
attack on beauty is an attack on values – on values for being values. It is an assault
on the good for being the good. The nihilistic nature of this renewed attack is
disguised by a profession of relativism. “What’s ugly to you is beautiful
to me,” is the defensive cop-out response by anyone whose sordid tastes in
art and literature are questioned.
is no lobby for the homely,” writes Graham. “How do you change a
discriminatory behavior that, even though unfair, is obviously deep, hard to
pin down, and largely unconscious…?”
Tentatively, experts are beginning to float possible
solutions. Some have proposed legal remedies including designating unattractive
people as a protected class, creating affirmative action programs for the
homely, or compensating disfigured but otherwise healthy people in
personal-injury courts….
solutions would require the systemic and systematic lobotomization of men’s
minds so they are “bias-free” or value-free. This is what is
occurring in the nation’s schools in esthetics, in history, in politics, in
science, to produce a generation of manqués conditioned to have their minds
programmed to respond to the state’s or the race’s or collective’s values of
servitude and self-sacrifice.
How to fix this problem depends on what kind of
problem, exactly, you think it is. A number of scholars see it as fundamentally
a civil-rights issue, with the unattractive a class of people who are provably
and consistently discriminated against. It’s an idea that seems poised to
resonate beyond the academy….
 Where it resonates the most beyond the academy
is in the envious, malignant souls of those who are itching to elevate the ugly
to the same value level of the beautiful, in order to destroy the beautiful and
all beauty.
Toohey, the arch villain of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, articulated the
principal method behind the assault on beauty: 
“Don’t set out to raze all shrines – you’ll frighten men. Enshrine
mediocrity – and the shrines are razed.”

It is in the name of the mediocre, the
nondescript, the ugly, and the average that the nihilists
in and out of the academy have declared war on beauty. 

Putin Upstages Obama as “Man of Peace”

can appreciate a good joke. But Russian President Vladimir Putin’s
in the New York Times of September 11th, “A Plea for
Caution,” which I’m sure caused him to smile as he penned it, is not funny.
It isn’t even a bad joke.
one hand, there is some humor in seeing President Barack Obama being hoisted on
his own petard for having shot off his mouth about the “red line” he
had drawn about Syrian President Bashar Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons
– that was on August 20th, over a year
– and now having to back-pedal.
He owned that red line, and, true to form, is now disowning it, claiming that
it was “the world’s,” and not just his. That’s his “community
organizing” skills coming to the fore.  As Robert Farley of
concluded on September 6th:
Obama is correct to argue that the international
community has long drawn a “red line” condemning the use of chemical weapons,
but his point blurs the fact that his “red line” comment in August 2012 was
made in the context of what it might take for the U.S. to get involved
militarily in Syria. While Obama may have had some justification for drawing
that line based on international conventions, the decision to tie U.S. military
involvement to Assad using chemical weapons was Obama’s red line.
chuckle was earned by Secretary of State John “Swift Boat” Kerry when
he inadvertently gave Putin the idea of suggesting that Assad’s chemical
weapons could be put under lock and key for the duration of the Syrian
“civil war.” As Bloomberg
News iterated on September 10th:
Putin’s remarks complicate the outlook for the Russian
proposal a day after it was presented by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei
Lavrov, who had seized on comments in London by U.S. Secretary of
State John Kerry about the possibility of Syria turning over its
chemical-weapons stockpile.
if these are jokes, they are not long-lived ones. In past columns we examined
the horrific record Obama has chalked up for himself since taking the
presidential oath of office in 2009. We should now revisit the record of the
man who would assume to take the leadership and moral high ground and have the
chutzpah to offer Americans and their political leaders his advice. While no one
should get too excited about Obama getting a deserved comeuppance, no one
should get too excited about Putin, either. After all, Putin, the man with the arctic-cold
blue killer’s eyes, is a man after Obama’s own heart.
is a successful and feared power-luster.
a joke of sorts was practiced on Putin and his Op-Ed. Someone at the New York
Times had the presence of mind to illustrate his column with a Black Hand,
an Italian Mafia warning to extortion victims. Putin did imply, ever so subtly,
that if the U.S. launched a strike against Syria, it would have to contend with
The potential strike by the United States against Syria…will
result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict
far beyond Syria’s borders…It could throw the entire system of international law
and order out of balance.
is called stealing Obama’s thunder.
off, Putin had a
career as a KGB officer in charge of watching other Russians and also
foreigners. Posted in Dresden when the Wall went down and Eastern Europe found
itself adrift of Soviet domination, he easily made the transition from being a
KGB officer for the Soviet Union to being a watcher for the Federal Security
Service (FSB), which succeeded the KBG after the collapse of the Soviets in
1991. At Leningrad State University, still in the KGB until the organization
underwent its name change, he watched over the student body and recruited more
he oversaw the transfer of Soviet state properties to the new federal government
of the Russian Federation. In the economic and political chaos following the
collapse of the Soviet government, Russian business and industry were up for
grabs, causing the creation of a state-protected oligarchy.
has a doctorate in economics. His dissertation title was “The Strategic
Planning of Regional Resources Under the Formation of Market Relations,”
in which he argued for the establishment by the state of “National
Champions” in business and industry. Sounds a lot like Obama’s plan to
subsidize American “national champions” in “green”
technology, except those “champions” have all gone belly-up, knocked
out cold by the realities of business.
Putin rose to the top
of the new Russian political system, becoming between 1999 and 2000 prime
minister, then president from 2000 to 2008, prime minister again from 2008 to
2012, and president again in 2012. It is quite appropriate that a skilled and
determined ex-KGB officer should rise to the top of political power in Russia
and have a firm and ruthless grip on that power.
long and short of how Putin remade Russia is that from being governed by a
totalitarian communist régime, he
transformed it into a nation ruled by an authoritarian fascist régime. The Russian state is in “partnership”
with companies that toe Putin’s line, determines the content and policies of
state and private news media, and caters to the wishes of many Russians that
Russia become again a power to contend with on the world stage.
are Obama’s little wars, and Putin’s Northern Caucasus “problem.”
Putin waged brutal wars with “autonomous” republics within the
Russian Federation that wanted to secede. The two against Chechnya were simply battles
between one authoritarian régime, Putin’s, against an Islamic one.
is something Putin understands. As he noted in his Times Op-Ed:
Syria is not witnessing a battle for democracy, but an
armed conflict between government and opposition in a multireligious country.
There are few champions of democracy in Syria. But there are more
than enough Qaeda fighters and extremists of all stripes battling the
government. The United States State Department has designated Al Nusra Front
and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, fighting with the opposition, as
terrorist organizations. This internal conflict, fueled by foreign weapons
supplied to the opposition, is one of the bloodiest in the world.
was exercising a bit of diplomatic courtesy by not naming who was supplying the
“rebels” with weapons: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United States.
forces invaded Georgia,
nominally an independent nation, over its policies in dealing with the
“breakaway” republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Light operas and
satirical plays were once written about the interminable squabbles in the
Balkans. No one is composing librettos about the bitter conflicts between
Russia and what were once the “autonomous” Socialist Republics of the
late Soviet Union. There are no “good guys” in any of these conflicts
whose side one can take.
, Putin is a short man, but a combination of a state-controlled Stalinist
personality cult for “public relations” purposes and a strong streak
of personal narcissism show him flying fighter jets, shooting tigers, competing
in martial arts contests, fishing, hunting, swimming, and engaging in other
“manly” activities, many of them bare-chested. The only picture
missing is of Putin wresting with a bear, or dancing with wolves. All together,
Putin’s photo-ops are better than Obama’s golfing photo-ops. You’ll never see a
picture of Putin in a sand-trap.
is what Obama found himself in over his “red line” remarks.
Russia is not a place to practice freedom of speech. The number of journalists,
rights activists and other individuals who have been murdered or assassinated for
practicing it is high, and that shouldn’t be startling. Imagine a member of the
Al Capone gang suddenly advocating repeal of the 18th
to his bosses. He would soon be sleeping with the fishes.
 Stanislav Markelov, a civil
rights attorney representing the family of a woman who was murdered in Chechnya
by a Russian tank commander, and protesting
the early release of that man from a ten-year sentence, was shot in killed in
central Moscow, together with Anastasia
, a 25-year-old journalist trainee as they left a press conference about
the early release. The tank commander, Yuri
, did not get to enjoy his freedom too long; he was himself assassinated
in Moscow.
, a former FSB (or KGB) officer, defected from Russia when he
protested the rampant corruption in the Russian government. He was poisoned in London
in a restaurant where he met someone who claimed to have information about the
murder of a Russian
, Anna
that same year, 2006. He died of thallium poisoning.
, a civil rights activist for Chechnya, was kidnapped and shot in
2009, probably at the behest of a Putin appointee in Grozny, Chechnyan
President Ramzan Kadyrov. As the Telegraph story relates:
In the past 10 months many of his rivals have been
found dead after killings in Vienna, Istanbul, Dubai and Moscow.
was an editor for Forbes-Russia in Moscow. He was investigating corruption
in the Russian government, specifically in connection with expatriate and business
“oligarch” Boris
, who fled to Britain years before. He was shot. Berezovsky, who
once cast aspersions on Klebnikov’s articles on Russian corruption, himself met
with a dubious death, either by hanging or drowning in his bathtub, after he
voiced support for Paul Litvinenko.
Yuri Shchekochikhin,
and editor writing about the corruption in Russian government, suffered a
gruesome assassination, having ingested a poison that shut down all his bodily
functions one by one and causing his skin to peel off.
There must be dozens more such murders committed
under Putin’s régime that have not caught the attention of journalists (or of politicians)
in the West. Many of the killings are attributed to the Russian
“Mafia,” which, from all the available evidence, acts as a kind of
“enforcer” arm for Putin’s government and leaves out any role of the
And that is but a partial exposé of Vladimir Putin,
our latest “man of peace.” Not exactly a laughing matter.
Russia not only has a close relationship with
Syria’s Assad, but has maintained very cordial relations with Iran, as well. It
built Iran’s first nuclear reactor and has offered to build Iran another. Putin
met with Iranian President Hassan Rowhani to offer him S-300 missiles In
fact, Iran
is helping to train Syrian “rebels.”
So, we are not only helping to arm the Al Queda-linked
Syrian “rebels,” but may be working shoulder-to-shoulder with the
troops from another implacable enemy of the U.S., Iran, to overthrow Assad’s régime.
In the meantime, Saudi Arabia has also sent arms to
the Syrian “rebels” in a continuing bid to shift the outcome of the
conflict in the Saudis’ favor. As the New
York Times
reported last February:
The Iranian arms transfers
have fueled worries among Sunni Arab states about losing a step to Tehran in
what has become a regional contest for primacy in Syria between Sunni Arabs and
the Iran-backed Assad government and Hezbollah of Lebanon.
What it boils down to is a contest between the Sunni
branch of Islam and the Shi’ite branch to decimate a despised third Islamic sect,
the Alawites. Assad is an Alawite, and so is his régime.
Try and figure out why Barack Obama would want to
step into this religious mess and ongoing bout for supremacy. It isn’t just
about chemical weapons.
It is about ideology. And Obama has had his clock
cleaned by Putin and the rest of them.

The CIA: Funder of Trash and Terrorists

my surprise when a British friend sent me the link to a 1995 Independent
newspaper article about the Central Intelligence Agency’s involvement in
fostering bad “art” (to loosely employ the term art) as a means of proving to the Soviets and to the world that the
America wasn’t a cultural Death Valley. While I had always suspected that the
CIA was involved in many questionable and highly dubious covert activities,
ostensively in defense of national interests (e.g., President John F. Kennedy
sanctioning the CIA’s wiretapping
of the Washington press corps), this news helped to fit two or three handfuls
of jigsaw puzzle pieces into a much broader picture.
Stonor Saunders, writing for the Independent, and who later wrote a book about
the CIA’s role in promoting not just abstract art, but
“anti-communist” writers and journalists, opened with:
For decades in art circles it was either a rumor or a
joke, but now it is confirmed as a fact. The Central Intelligence Agency used
American modern art – including the works of such artists as Jackson Pollock,
Robert Motherwell, Willem de Kooning and Mark Rothko – as a weapon in the Cold
War. In the manner of a Renaissance prince – except that it acted secretly –
the CIA fostered and promoted American Abstract Expressionist painting around the
world for more than 20 years….
Why did the CIA support them? Because in the
propaganda war with the Soviet Union, this new artistic movement could be held
up as proof of the creativity, the intellectual freedom, and the cultural power
of the US. Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket,
could not compete.
startled me even more was the date of the article, October 22nd,
1995. Why hadn’t I heard of this scoop before? How did it slip under my radar? The
news ought to have rocked the foundations of modern art, and sent the
practitioners, purveyors and rich connoisseurs of “Abstract
Expressionism” screaming “We’ve been had! We’ve been tools of the
capitalist lackeys! Duped by imperialist warmongers!” as they cascaded in
lemming droves over the railings of the Brooklyn Bridge. It ought to have
knocked the bottom out of the demand for the drips, drops and splashes that
have passed for “high art” for so many decades and dropped the
appraised worth of private and institutional collections by about 99.9%.
nothing like that happened. The practitioners, purveyors and connoisseurs are
still with us, and foisting on the country “art” that is even worse
than Abstract Expressionism,” “art” that can’t even be defined
as “abstract.” Or psychotic. Or disturbed. Or “art.”
was the rationale for the CIA’s multi-million dollar, years-long covert
operation: Because the Soviets preferred “realism” in its art and
propaganda – that is, images that one could identify as persons and things – the
Yale and Harvard and Stanford educated geniuses at Langley Field and in
Washington D.C., geniuses whose education taught them that representational art
of any kind was passé, old hat, and a bourgeoisie
tool of oppression, decided that to be “creative,” one must
produce stuff – and that’s all it is, is stuff
– on canvas and in welded metal with perhaps with a bicycle wheel and little
bits of plastic,  cellophane, or cereal
box-tops thrown in – which one could not recognize or interpret even in the
most leniently conducted Rorschach test.
short, the CIA’s argument for freedom was that in America, one was free to be
irrational and not bound by the rules of intelligibility or even of reality. “Realism”
be damned! We are going to promote the USA by promoting the unreal!
it? We would fight the irrationality of Soviet propaganda with irrational
propaganda of our own. When the Soviets accused us of having no
культура (culture),
we could shout back: “So’s your old man!” or, “Your mother wears
combat boots!” Hoping, in the mean time, that the Soviets will be stung by
our sophisticated, haughty rejoinder and realize that even frauds and the
talentless and psychotics and epistemologically maladjusted “artists”
had freedom of expression in the USA, and all Americans loved them, too, and
were amply rewarded! And expecting the Soviets will hang their heads in shame.
We’ll have showed them.
we didn’t.
sometimes wonder if “intelligence” is an overlooked and inapplicable
misnomer for the agency. “Intelligence” too often doesn’t seem to be
“central” to its mission or behavior.
question is, and it will go unanswered by the CIA: Why should we have had to prove
anything to the Soviets? We were certainly a freer country in the years when
the agency and the State Department were actively pimping for trash, from
roughly the end of WWII until the mid-1960’s. Instead of boasting of Jefferson
and Patrick Henry and James Madison, we pushed forward as volunteers in the
fight for “freedom” Jackson Pollock, and Willem de Kooning
and Helen
and a host of other reality-challenged and
metaphysics-denying “artists.”
the Soviets waged an ideological war against the U.S., we recruited clueless
whackos to fling gobs of paint and empty whiskey glasses at the Soviets. While
the Soviets barraged us with the idea that we
were the evil empire, we boasted that we had a big army of upper and lower
class twits ready to overwhelm them with splashes of paint and volleys of spray
cans and buckets of gesso.
us not slight the CIA’s efforts on behalf of “music.” John
‘s noise was also promoted by the CIA. According to one music
website from October 2010:
The CIA, burdened by the American cultural inferiority
complex of that period, seemed to fear that their culture was regarded as
producing “hillbilly” stuff. Elvis Presley and so on. “We are losing points,”
they said, “we have got to prove that the whole point of the capitalist system
is that it is free and people can do whatever they like, and it takes the ideas
of the mind forward, and we have got to prove that the communist bloc is
actually looking backward and is not free.” This led to them awarding a hefty
budget from the CIA to promote this view.
For instance, composers would be sought who would
exemplify this principle. They discovered that the composer, John Cage, had
written a totally silent piano sonata. “He comes on and just sits there and
looks at the music and just thinks about it. That is really interesting. So,
we’ll push that.” I mean, somebody must have said, ‘‘but don’t you think that
is nuts?” I mean, it would appear to anyone with a brain that that is nuts. But
they said, “We like John Cage.” So, Cage became a major figure, all of a
the war of ideas, the CIA opted to abandon ideas and instead donned the straw
hat, striped shirt, and gaudy vest of a carnival barker haranguing a crowd to
step right up and see the bearded lady and other “creative” human
Joffe, in an April 2000 New York Times review
of Frances Stonor Saunders’ book about the CIA’s role in promoting and
perpetuating the arts, and especially Abstract Expressionism and its
derivatives, The Cultural Cold War: The
CIA and the World of Arts and Letters
, wrote that because the U.S had no
“Minister of Culture”:
Imagine…a secretary of culture, financing operas,
orchestras and painters especially to promote them abroad. Most card-carrying
members of the intelligentsia would vigorously applaud so splendid an idea
while bemoaning its utter unreality. Not for us, they lament, the C-word that
stands for ”state-sponsored culture” and recalls the feudal follies of
Europe’s princes and potentates.
Yet there was a time when Washington was guilty of
such un-American activities in spades. With $166,000 (worth more than a million
of today’s dollars), the American taxpayer in 1952 dispatched the Boston
Symphony to Europe on a glorious tour that helped establish the Bostonians as
among the best in the world. Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, David Smith —
artists of the school that came to be known as Abstract Expressionism — were
thrust into global fame with help from the feds. Except that the funds were
supplied indirectly and clandestinely, with the Congress for Cultural Freedom the
main channel and the Central Intelligence Agency the ultimate donor.
faults the Saunders book on many levels, chiefly that she is sympathetic to the
Left and gives most the beneficiaries a sympathy pass whether or not they knew
about the CIA’s funding and purposes. 
few months earlier, Monthly
, an American Marxist cultural and political journal, carried a
review of the Saunders book by James Petras.
This book provides a detailed account of the ways in
which the CIA penetrated and influenced a vast array of cultural organizations,
through its front groups and via friendly philanthropic organizations like the
Ford and Rockefeller Foundations. The author, Frances Stonor Saunders, details
how and why the CIA ran cultural congresses, mounted exhibits, and organized
concerts. The CIA also published and translated well-known authors who toed the
Washington line, sponsored abstract art to counteract art with any social
content and, throughout the world, subsidized journals that criticized Marxism,
communism, and revolutionary politics and apologized for, or ignored, violent
and destructive imperialist U.S. policies.
names some interesting names and publications that became the standard bearers
of anti-communist or anti-Stalinist positions:
U.S. and European anticommunist publications receiving
direct or indirect funding included Partisan Review, Kenyon Review, New
Leader, Encounter
and many others. Among the intellectuals who were funded
and promoted by the CIA were Irving Kristol, Melvin Lasky, Isaiah Berlin,
Stephen Spender, Sidney Hook, Daniel Bell, Dwight MacDonald, Robert Lowell,
Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, and numerous others in the United States and
Europe. In Europe, the CIA was particularly interested in and promoted the
“Democratic Left” and ex-leftists, including Ignacio Silone, Stephen Spender,
Arthur Koestler, Raymond Aron, Anthony Crosland, Michael Josselson, and George
is quite a lineup of “respectable” leftists and Neocons. (Interestingly,
David Horowitz, Neocon editor of FrontPage and now a detractor of Diana West
over her book, American
, was published in Monthly Review).  And the thing that they all have in common is
that while they were as a rule anti-communist because Communism was totalitarian,
they were for nothing but whatever
they saw of value in a status quo defined by “democracy.”
review is liberally peppered with Marxist language about capitalism and the
imperialist elite, and does not concern us here. His review does contain some
interesting information, nonetheless. From the Monthly Review perspective, most
the individuals cited above, including the drips-and-drops abstract artists,
comprise, more or less, what is called the “Democratic Left.”
After the Second World War, with the discrediting in
Western Europe of the old right (compromised by its links to the fascists and a
weak capitalist system), the CIA realized that, in order to undermine the
anti-NATO trade unionists and intellectuals, it needed to find (or invent) a
Democratic Left to engage in ideological warfare. A special sector of the CIA
was set up to circumvent right-wing Congressional objections. The Democratic
Left was essentially used to combat the radical left and to provide an
ideological gloss on U.S. hegemony in Europe.
Petras has an attack of un-Marxist lucidness:
The CIA’s involvement in the cultural life of the
United States, Europe, and elsewhere had important long-term consequences. Many
intellectuals were rewarded with prestige, public recognition, and research
funds precisely for operating within the ideological blinders set by the
Agency. Some of the biggest names in philosophy, political ethics, sociology,
and art, who gained visibility from CIA-funded conferences and journals, went on
to establish the norms and standards for promotion of the new generation, based
on the political parameters established by the CIA. Not merit nor skill, but
politics—the Washington line—defined “truth” and “excellence” and future chairs
in prestigious academic settings, foundations, and museums.
is all true. There have been long-term consequences. By themselves, the
avant-garde might not have sustained their destruction of art without the help
of government subsidies and patronization. The CIA helped to perpetuate the
hold the cultural establishment has had on especially art today, and did it
with taxpayer money.
the CIA left the art “racket” in the mid-1960’s, it was replaced in
1965 with the National Endowment
for the Arts
and the National Endowment
for the Humanities
, both established by acts of Congress and signed into
law by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
that, however, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City played a
“central” role in the CIA’s cornering the abstract art market. A
person writing under the pseudonym of “Annabel Shark” for some
oddly named organization called “SlowArt,
also penned this May 2012 query about how and why the CIA got into the arts,
reprising what other articles have revealed:
Why was Abstract Expressionist art singled out by the
CIA/State Department as an essential weapon of the cultural Cold War? Why did
Nelson Rockefeller purchase over 2500 pieces of Abstract Expressionist art and
use these paintings to decorate the lobbies of Chase Manhattan banks? And then,
why was New York’s Museum of Modern Art so terrifically enthusiastic over this
specific art movement? In order to understand the trajectory behind these
actions and policies, we have to examine the history and formation of the
Abstract Expressionist Movement, what it was attempting to achieve in the world
through its art, and how it was consequently interpreted. Perhaps this
understanding will shed some clarity on the present day art establishment, and
why it functions in its seemingly nonsensical manner.
indeed? Nelson Rockefeller, who participated in the CIA and State Department programs,
called abstract art “free enterprise painting.”
With the CIA’s generously funded Congress for Cultural
Freedom, and under the auspices of the Rockefeller owned and operated Museum of
Modern Art in New York, huge, enormously expensive exhibitions of Abstract
Expressionist artworks were staged, and then exported to (some would say dumped
upon) museums throughout the Western Bloc European countries. Most particularly
these exhibitions were foisted upon France (the acknowledged “art
capital”), “proving” American supremacy in the art world by
shear [sic] size and volume. In
reality, this vision of supremacy was an aspect of the Marshall Plan, which
forced American products on France as part of their huge war reparations.
J. Lewis, reviewing a biography in Commentary
in June 1998 of one of the movers and shakers of abstract art, Clement
Greenberg: A Life
, by Florence Rubenfeld, also and too briefly mentions the
CIA’s role in fostering the irrational in esthetics:
She [Rubenfeld] does, though, take a stand on the
question of Greenberg’s importance, entering a broad and convincing claim for
the centrality of his role in the rise of postwar American art. But she does
this in a way that leaves little for revisionist historians to disagree with.
version, at least, is all of a piece: the man who promoted American art as an
instrument of United States foreign policy, tacitly collaborating in alleged
CIA-sponsored shows of painting in Europe—a charge floated in David Anfam’s Abstract
(1990)—was the same man who brought a veritably McCarthyite
temperament to his aesthetic judgments, brooking no dissent and enforcing a
stifling conformity. It is to Rubenfeld’s credit that she does not endorse this
foolish and tendentious view; unfortunately, she also does nothing to correct
mentioned earlier the CIA’s highly dubious covert activities. Add a new one: The
CIA is now shipping arms to Islamic supremacists posing as Syrian
“rebels” under the misnomer of the “Free Syrian Army.”
reported on September 11th that:
The CIA has begun delivering weapons to rebels in
Syria, ending months of delay in lethal aid that had been promised by the Obama
administration, according to U.S. officials and Syrian figures. The shipments
began streaming into the country over the past two weeks, along with separate
deliveries by the State Department of vehicles and other gear — a flow of
material that marks a major escalation of the U.S. role in Syria’s civil war.
The arms shipments, which are limited to light weapons
and other munitions that can be tracked, began arriving in Syria at a moment of
heightened tensions over threats by President Obama to order missile strikes to
punish the regime of Bashar al-Assad for his alleged use of chemical weapons in
a deadly attack near Damascus last month.
The arms are being delivered as the United States is
also shipping new types of nonlethal gear to rebels. That aid includes
vehicles, sophisticated communications equipment and advanced combat medical
kits. U.S. officials hope that, taken together, the weapons and gear will boost
the profile and prowess of rebel fighters in a conflict that started about two
and a half years ago.
course, the CIA’s “intelligence” wonks are absolutely certain that
these arms won’t be used to do bad things, like massacre Christians, destroy
churches, rape women, and eat the lungs of Assad’s captured Syrian soldiers, or,
when many of the rebels go on leave back to Europe, wind up being used against
Europeans in their capital cities, their owners taking advantage of their
boosted fighting prowess.
Greenfield, in his September 12th column, “NBC
News Admits ‘Free Syrian Army
‘ is a Myth, emphasizes three important facts
about the “rebels” which the news media, as well as the White House
and inept Secretary of State John Kerry, are dodging:
There is no Free Syrian Army. General Idris is a
general of nothing. There are no moderates.
The funny moderate math depends on classifying
Salafists who aren’t with Al Qaeda, officially, even if they fight alongside
it, in independent groups or the FSA, as moderates.But what percentage of the brigades are Salafist and
can there even be such a thing as a moderate Salafist? According to various
analysts, the Syrian Islamic Front is moderate even though its goal is to use
violence to create an Islamic state. But compared to hard core Takfiris, it may
be considered possibly moderate. But to us that’s a technical distinction
without a difference.
there we have it: The CIA shining through. For nearly two decades, it exported
“art” created by non-artists to boost the prestige of American culture
and to impress the Soviets. And now it is exporting arms to
“rebels” who aren’t really “rebels” and who would just as
soon as cut our throats as look at us, in order to boost our likeability
quotient with Islam. Nothing redounds like consistency, and not always in a
positive way.
I can’t
make this stuff up. I haven’t the imagination.

Orwell, Obama, and Totalitarianism

many of George Orwell’s essays leaves one with the impression that he was an
integrated man, that is, his mind was steadfastly anchored to reason and
reality. It wasn’t. His prescient essays on totalitarianism may lead one to believe
that he was 100% rational and had no chinks in his intellectual armor. He
wasn’t, and the chinks are evident.
most visible chink in Orwell’s intellectual armor was his steadfast belief in
the beneficent advantages of socialism, while at the same time he detested
communism. Communism, he wrote, is but totalitarianism by another name. Totalitarianism,
or Communism, embraces the totality of an individual’s existence, from what he
pays for necessities to his social relationships to what goes on in his mind. Orwell
observed this totality in Stalin’s Russia, also in Hitler’s Nazi Germany, and,
to a lesser extent, in Mussolini’s Fascist Italy.  
and Hitler were the inevitable heirs to every wistful vision from time
immemorial that men could be organized into benign collectives, communes, or
“cooperatives” to corral and control the selfish nature of men to
live their own lives for their own reasons. We could begin with the ethics of
St. Augustine or Marcus Aurelius, but would need to go back to Plato. Among the
minor contributors to the ideal of a collectivist paradise were Auguste Comte
and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon.
Along came Karl Marx who distilled all those wishes into a system which reduced
individuals into mere insensate atoms of an impersonal evolution towards perfect,
stateless, selfless socialism. Or,
stateless communism.
never grasped that his ideal, “stateless socialism,” is a
contradiction in terms. Socialism cannot be imposed on men except by force. And
whether the force compels men to accept socialized medicine, or the
redistribution of their private wealth to alleviate state-caused poverty, or
mandated florescent light bulbs, or any other altruistic scheme that shackles
men together and compels them to become dependent on fiat law and legislated
extortion, it must be employed by the agency of a state. A “mixed
economy” of economic and even social controls, must, if not opposed and
corrected, lead to total regulation
and control.
ideal of a “classless society” might have been reached by undisturbed
tribes in the most inaccessible reaches of the Amazon jungle, but even they
have their pecking orders. In any industrialized or semi-industrialized
society, under socialism, classes emerge defined by how much loot one gang can
accumulate, extort, or seize from another. Ayn Rand dramatized the progress
from “socialism” to totalitarianism in We the Living and Atlas
Orwell failed to observe and conclude is that socialism must lead by degrees and stealthy, almost unnoticeable increments
to totalitarianism. That totalitarianism could be of the Nazi (National
Socialist) or Soviet brand. Socialism introduces the dry rot of expanding
controls into an individual’s life. Sooner or later the house will collapse on
the individual’s head, and when he emerges ragged and bruised from the rubble
of his rights and liberties, he will find himself in the stark landscape of
totalitarianism. Socialism is tyranny without the iconic “leader” or
caricatured Stalin’s Communism in his fabulist novel, Animal Farm (1945). As an online student study
describes the novel and its author’s position:
Though people on the right tended to conflate
socialism and communism, they are in fact completely different things—one
Orwell supported, and the other he abhorred. In fact, as anyone who’s read Animal Farm
should understand, Orwell saw Soviet-style communism as a profound betrayal of
true socialist values.
have read Animal Farm, am not of the
“right,” and don’t conflate the two systems. Both Orwell and the
study guide are wrong. Socialism and communism are not two “completely
different things”; they are the same thing, differing only in the scale of
control over an individual. One is partial, one is total. Under socialism, the
government takes a large percentage of your income and wealth and you are free
to work harder and create more wealth to be extorted from you. Under communism,
the government pays you a paltry allowance, you have no wealth, and you work
harder where and when the government says.
did not “betray” socialism or its “true” values. He carried
its principles to their logical end. Had it not been Stalin, it would have been
someone else.  
Orwell’s insights into the ends and means of totalitarianism are nearly
nonpareil. Alone, and far better than Aldus Huxley and other Western writers
who penned dystopian novels (excepting a very few), Orwell established the
terms by which anyone for decades has discussed totalitarianism, and especially
the suppression of freedom of speech. By anyone, I include anyone on the Left and the Right who advocates wholesale or
just a “little bit” of socialism, and also anyone who doesn’t quite fit
into that artificial and deceptive political calibration. He established the
terms of the issue, and also its lexicon.
I will focus on here is Orwell’s essay, “The Prevention of
Literature,”* in which he telegraphs the theme and content of his
dystopian novel, Nineteen
, published in London by Secker & Warburg in June 1949. He
wrote the essay for an anti-communist publication, Polemic, in January 1946. He
finished the novel in December 1948. It was his last literary effort. He died
of tuberculosis in January 1950.
statements about totalitarianism can be taken out of his context because they
are true statements, not contingent on his prejudices against Stalinism, Nazism,
and capitalism.
is one instance:
The organized lying practiced by totalitarian states
is not, as is sometimes claimed, a temporary expedient of the same nature as
military deception. It is something integral to totalitarianism, something that
would still continue even if concentration camps and secret police forces had
ceased to be necessary…. (p. 258)
mendacity is integral to totalitarianism. We have had a sample of it in Barack
Obama’s two administrations. From TARP to Obamacare to Benghazi and now an
off-and-on-and-off Syrian intervention, all the country has been fed is a
continuing stream of lies, fabrications, and falsehoods. Obama gave away his
hand early on when he boasted that his term in office would be the “most
transparent” in our history.
that faux transparency, even liberal journalists are beginning to remove the rose-dyed
gauze from their eyes. In March, The Washington
reminded Obama:
The day after his inauguration, President Obama
promised a new era of “openness in government.” “We will work together to
ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public
participation, and collaboration,” he wrote in one
of his first memos
to federal agencies. “Openness will strengthen our
democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.”
But the reality has not matched the President’s
has never matched Obama’s rhetoric.
Obama’s reality has the ethereal substance of the words that scroll up on his
Teleprompters. No, we don’t yet have concentration camps, but we do have the
makings of a secret police, and have had them for a while. It has only just
been revealed that the NSA can know virtually all we do and say and refer the
information to the appropriate authorities if there are grounds to suspect a
threat to national security. Such as my writing these words.
A totalitarian state is in effect a theocracy, and its
ruling class, in order to keep its position, has to be thought of as
infallible. But since, in practice, no one is infallible, it is frequently
necessary to rearrange past events in order to show that this or that mistake
was not made, or that this or that imaginary triumph actually happened….(p.
is true. In Soviet Russia, that was the case with Lenin, Stalin and their
successors. They were a theocracy whose wisdom and authority were not to be
questioned. For example, Leon Trotsky, once hailed as a hero of the Soviet
Union, was later declared a pariah because he, too, charged Stalin with
“betraying” true socialist values. He was exiled, and later murdered
in Mexico on Stalin’s orders. 
Barack Obama has never portrayed himself as “infallible.” He is too
much the community organizing pragmatist. His hubris is of a lower order. If
one thing fails to advance his socialist agenda, then he will try another and
count on the news media to help Americans forget the first attempt ever
happened. He has never admitted error. He is literally shameless. His
hand-picked press agents inside and outside the White House go into action when
he is obliged to back-pedal on issues or fabricate a false aura of success or
The friends of totalitarianism in this country [in
Britain, in addition to America] usually tend to argue that since absolute
truth is not attainable, the big lie is no worse than a little lie. It is
pointed out that all historical records are biased and inaccurate, or, on the
other hand, that modern physics has proved that what seems to us the real world
is an illusion, so that to believe in the evidence of one’s senses is simply
vulgar philistinism….(p. 259)
as outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
put it when pressed for a truth: What difference does it make, the size or
enormity of a lie or the bungled rush to dismiss and disguise the truth?
Immanuel Kant, who devoted countless brain-cracking paragraphs to proving that
absolute truth is unattainable, is an enabler of totalitarianism and its habit
of remaking reality to suit the inconvenience or embarrassment of the moment.
Lenin, Stalin, Mao, the Perons, for example, were his un-entertaining apprentice
masters of illusion. Add Obama and every single one of his political appointees
from Day One of his tenure to the present. They are all cut from the cloth of
totalitarianism. Every day one can hear their canine whines of discomfort.
 A totalitarian
society which succeeded in perpetuating itself would probably set up a
schizophrenic system of thought, in which the laws of common sense held good in
everyday life and in certain exact sciences, but could be disregarded by the
politician, the historian, and the sociologist. (p. 259)
the modern journalist. If “common sense” – or the honest
acknowledgement of the evidence of one’s senses, and the willingness to say
that a rock is a rock and that a man is a crook or a power-luster who is doing
one harm – were as ubiquitous as Orwell and other writers assumed, Barack Obama
would never have been reelected after his first term. The schizophrenia we are
faced with today sits undisturbed in the minds of those who voted and
campaigned for him again after the scurrilous
opaqueness and venal character of his first term were open to scrutiny by all.
schizophrenia, however, is not a disability which otherwise would disqualify
him from any political office. It is an asset in a political culture which
regularly dismisses or derogates “common sense” and rewards him with
plaudits and encouragement. “Common sense,” to Obama and his
choirboys inside and outside of the White House, is merely a symptom of vulgar
philistinism, and can be brushed off as class or even racial prejudice.
Totalitarianism…does not so much promise an age of
faith as an age of schizophrenia. A society becomes totalitarian when its
structure becomes flagrantly artificial: that is, when its ruling class has
lost its function but succeeds in clinging to power by force or fraud. (p. 263)
and his administration have clung to power by force and fraud. Obama’s tenure in office is flagrantly and transparently
artificial, and its character is permitting the country to creep even closer to
totalitarianism. But, we mustn’t blame him for everything. The groundwork was
laid for him by consecutive presidencies and Congresses going back to the
late19th century. He is not squandering an inheritance, but leveraging it in
conformance to an agenda to “remake” the country once and for all
into a minimum security prison whose inmates are hired out to labor in government-approved
and subsidized enterprises. That would make his agenda fascist in means and ends.
just as totalitarian as communism.
Political writing in our time consists almost entirely
of prefabricated phrases bolted together like the pieces of a child’s Meccano
set. It is the unavoidable result of self-censorship. To write in plain,
vigorous language one has to think fearlessly, and if one thinks fearlessly one
cannot be politically orthodox. (pp. 262-263)
think that quotation, penned by Orwell long before the term “political
” – the  euphemism
for liberal, collectivist political orthodoxy, which gained currency in American
political writing much to the discomfort of the politically orthodox – succinctly
describes the obsequious and fawning nature of modern journalism when the
subject is Obama, the welfare state, immigration, Islam, and national security.
The term originated, appropriately enough, in debates between socialists and
hardline communists and found its way into late 20th century comic
books, punditry, and political discussions.  
here is a potpourri of Orwell’s thoughts on the importance of defending freedom
of thought and expression:
Some…of the English scientists who speak so
enthusiastically of the opportunities enjoyed by scientists in Russia are
capable of understanding this [how some Soviet writers surrender their freedom
of expression for lump cash bribes]. But their reflection appears to be:
“Writers are persecuted in Russia. So what? I am not a writer.” They do
not see that any attack on
intellectual liberty, and on the concept of objective truth, threatens in the
long run every department of thought….(p. 268)
So long as physical reality cannot be altogether ignored,
so long as two and two have to make four when you are, for example, drawing the
blueprint of an aeroplane, the scientist has his function, and can even be
allowed a measure of liberty. His awakening will come later, when the totalitarian
state is firmly established….(p. 269)
…[I]t is his job to develop some kind of solidarity
with his literary colleagues and not regard it as a matter of indifference when
writers are silenced or driven to suicide, and newspapers systematically
falsified….(p. 269)
At present we know only that the imagination, like
certain wild animals, will not breed in captivity. Any writer or journalist who
denies that fact – and nearly all the current praise of the Soviet Union contains
or implies such a denial – is, in effect, demanding his own destruction. (p.
what we are witnessing today – and have been witnessing for the better part of
half a century – is the Blob-like
progress of statism and totalitarianism in America, aided and abetted by a
succession of presidents, Congresses, journalists, and a goodly portion of the American
electorate. Totalitarians are not noted for their gratitude. Modern
journalists, and many writers in other realms of “imagination” who
approve of that direction, are also inviting their own inevitable destruction.
Steve McQueen isn’t here anymore to help them think of a way out.
Orwell, “The Prevention of Literature,” in All Art is Propaganda: Critical Essays, Compiled by George Packer.  New York: Mariner-Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
(2008), pp. 253-269.

Of Malice and Memory Holes

is a purge afoot, not at the behest of the Left or the White House, or at the
Huffington Post or Salon, but in the ranks of “conservatives” and
“neo-conservatives.” The purge, instigated by the Neocon editors of
FrontPage Magazine, is designed to discredit and smear Diana West and her book,
: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character
, and to claim
any collateral damage in the meantime. I have written on this purge in my
August 8th column, “FrontPage’s
Spitballs Strike Diana West
,” and also reviewed
her book. It is the Neocons who are sniping at West and anyone who defends her.
I will not repeat everything I wrote in the “Spitball” column, except
But, then, we are dealing with Neocons here.
Neoconservativism is simply a smorgasbord of supposedly “right-wing”
ideologies populated largely by former communists, retired radical left-wing
activists, cringing liberals, and even ex-SDS members such as Radosh.
It is as philosophically rudderless as traditional “right-wing”
Republican philosophy (provided anyone can find it). As a movement, it is so
open-ended it may as well admit Barack Obama and all three Clintons as honorary
members. Neoconservatism can accommodate just about every ideology but Islam.
to judge by the way FrontPage’s leading editors
are conducting the smear campaign, it’s not beyond fantasy that they could also
accommodate totalitarian Islam. Islam is against everything, too. FrontPage may
as well run ads on Al Jazeera TV. Perhaps the editors could also pen a series
of defenses of Walter
, the New York Times writer who helped to whitewash Stalin’s (and
Lenin’s) skull-crushing, famine-as-policy régime.
a dramatic note, the campaign against West brought to mind Milan Stitt’s 1976
play, The Runner Stumbles, in which
an attractive nun is murdered by a Catholic convert, because she was too
tempting to the parish priest.
chief problem with Neocons is that while they are against Islam and make token noises about their opposition to
“big government,” they are not for
anything. This partly explains why the Neocons are fulminating against West.
West, after all, is for the truth about the U.S.’s role in aiding and abetting,
by design or by default, the perpetuation and arming of the Soviet Union. She
is for revealing the depths and scope of the Big Con, a con which is reflected
in academia and in the history of WWII found in most standard textbooks and read
by most living Americans in their formative years. That con has been
established dogma and narrative, and that dogma and narrative originated with
FDR and his administration.
to those who depart from it or challenge it.
compellingly demonstrated and amply documented thesis swims against the current
of standard history, which is that FDR cut cards with a very personable devil
(Josef Stalin) in order to crush Nazism and Hitler, and that it wasn’t his
fault or that of his cronies, dupes, and advisors (chiefly Harry Hopkins) that
Stalin got atomic bomb materials and know-how and helped to replace Hitler’s
murderous totalitarianism in Europe with the Soviet Union’s after the war.
standard history is that it just “happened.” No fingers should be
pointed at St. Franklin, because up to a point, Stalin was viewed as just a
benevolent despot looking out for “his people.” That is how Stalin
was sold to Americans during WWII in propaganda. After it was
“revealed” that the U.S. was ignorant of Stalin’s responsibility for
the murders of millions of Russians in a concerted campaign to eliminate all
opposition to the Soviet régime, and that it really, really was the
totalitarian horror that others had described, the standard history is that the
U.S. could only adopt an Alfred E. Neuman-like
“What-Me-Know??” stance.
and her book have been defended by Andrew
, Michael
and Shari
, among others. The contemptible behavior of FrontPage’s editors has
been noted and highlighted by Family Security Matters, Breitbart,
and Gates
of Vienna
. West has published the first part of a lengthy and detailed
rebuttal (not on FrontPage, of course) here.
mentioned collateral damage. On September 3rd The Gatestone
Institute published an article by Clare Lopez, “Recognizing
the Wrong People
,” in which she cites Diana West’s book and focuses on
what moved West
to write it, the baffling accommodation by especially the Obama administration of
hiring Muslims into the most sensitive realms of policy and in indiscriminately
patronizing the Muslim Brotherhood. Lopez discusses the distinct and observable
parallel between that and FDR’s accommodation of the Soviet Union with its formal
recognition in 1933 and its consequences.
warning or explanation, that article was removed by Gatestone the very same
day. The next day Lopez was removed from Gatestone’s stable of writers and
researchers. Shall we say expelled or
purged? Qua terms, there’s not much
difference in the motive or the consequence.  The Gates of
relates the sequence of events.
In late August 2013, Clare Lopez, then a Senior Fellow
at the Gatestone Institute, submitted an article for publication at the
Gatestone Institute’s website. It was entitled “Recognizing the Wrong People”,
and drew on the U.S. government’s 1933 formal diplomatic recognition of the
USSR as described in Diana West’s book American Betrayal to form an
analogy with the U.S.’s present day recognition and/or support of other
fundamentally-anti-American entities, such as the AQ/MB-dominated rebel and
opposition forces in places like Egypt, Libya, and Syria….
…The article was duly published the morning of Tuesday
3 September 2013 at Gatestone and was sent out to an email list of subscribers.
Sometime shortly after that, however, it was pulled from the website, with no
notice or explanation.
…The real shock came the following morning, though, on
September 4, when Ms. Lopez received an email from Nina Rosenwald notifying her
that her relationship with the Gatestone Institute had been terminated at the
request of the Gatestone Board of Directors. On September 5, Ms. Rosenwald
confirmed in an email sent to Ms. Lopez and others what some had already
suspected, that her firing was due to her “choice of books to promote…,” a
clear reference to Ms. Lopez’ citation of historical events from Ms. West’s
removal of Clare Lopez’s further association comports neatly with FrontPage’s
designation of West’s book as a product of “incompetence.” However,
see Lopez’s exemplary bona fides,
still up on Gatestone’s website (unless by now her page has been removed, as
well, in that happy Big Brotherish tradition of designating certain individuals
as non-persons):
Clare M. Lopez: Distinguished Senior Fellow, Gatestone
Clare M. Lopez is a strategic policy and intelligence
expert with a focus on national defense, Islam, Iran, and counterterrorism
issues. Currently a senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute, the Center for
Security Policy and the Clarion Fund and vice president of the Intelligence
Summit, she formerly was a career operations officer with the Central
Intelligence Agency, a professor at the Centre for Counterintelligence and
Security Studies, Executive Director of the Iran Policy Committee from
2005-2006, and has served as a consultant, intelligence analyst, and researcher
for a variety of defense firms. She was named a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont
Institute in 2011.
Already an advisor to EMP Act America, in February
2012 Ms. Lopez was named a member of the Congressional Task Force on National
and Homeland Security, which focuses on the Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) threat
to the nation. She is deputy director of the U.S. Counterterrorism Advisory
Team for the Military Department of the South Carolina National Guard and
serves as a member of the Boards of Advisors/Directors for the Center for
Democracy and Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, the Clarion Fund, the Institute of
World Affairs, the Intelligence Analysis and Research program at her
undergraduate alma mater, Notre Dame College of Ohio, and United West.
She has been a Visiting Researcher and guest lecturer on counterterrorism,
national defense, and international relations at Georgetown University. Ms. Lopez
is a regular contributor to print and broadcast media on subjects related to
Iran and the Middle East and the co-author of two published books on Iran. She
is the author of an acclaimed paper for the Center, The Rise of the Iran Lobby and co-author/editor of the
Center’s Team B II study, “Shariah: The Threat to America”.
Ms. Lopez received a B.A. in Communications and French
from Notre Dame College of Ohio and an M.A. in International Relations from the
Maxwell School of Syracuse University. She completed Marine Corps Officer
Candidate School (OCS) in Quantico, Virginia before declining a commission, in
favor of joining the CIA.
to Gatestone, Lopez’s credentials (not to mention West’s to FrontPage) are
irrelevant in the light of her having made an important, just, and favorable
mention of West’s book. She must be vaporized and all record of her erased from
the official gazette of Neoconservatism. She never happened. Was Clare Lopez
one of Gatestone’s stellar writers? Who? Blank out.
is one of the offending paragraphs from “Recognizing the Wrong
People.” Writing about the suicidal aid we have been giving not only the
Muslim Brotherhood, but now, it is slowing coming out, to the Syrian
“rebels” who are but a known tool of Al-Qa’eda, Lopez asks:
To what can such a perversion of reason and reality,
of common sense, of any measure of American self-interest be attributed:
Poole’s Brotherhood penetration of the U.S. foreign policy cadre? More wishful
thinking? The illogic of an upside down world view and America’s place in it?
Or the pernicious persistence of that first betrayal, the U.S.’s 1933
recognition of Stalin’s murderous gulag of a regime?
together with Diana West, wants to know why we are aiding our enemies. It is
indeed a baffling phenomenon. I offer my own explanation of that
“pernicious persistence”: the liberals, the Progressives, the
Democrats, and anyone else who believes that force justifies the ends, are
totalitarians in mind, in heart, in essence. That describes especially Barack
Hussein Obama.
for the Neocons, it is about time that we include the smarmy and righteous
thought police of FrontPage and Gatestone.

How Far We Have Traveled


would be instructive to highlight the political distance the U.S. has traveled
since Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration
of Independence
237 years ago in order to underscore the stark reality of
the state of the United States and the condition of its citizens. In
astronomical terms, the distance may be measured as that between the Sun and
Neptune. The next and last “milestone” would be Pluto, an illegitimate
planet as illegitimate as the Obama administration and several that preceded
it. The country has journeyed, haltingly and blindly, oft times intentionally
with eyes open, sometimes without thought of consequence, from the life-giving
rays of reason and liberty of the Enlightenment to a realm where those rays do
not much penetrate or affect the coldness of the collectivist and totalitarian
habits of our contemporary politics and culture.
across the preface to the Declaration in Alasdair Gray‘s The Book of Prefaces*, in which the
latter section of Jefferson’s opus, following, “To prove this, let Facts
be submitted to a candid world,” was cut, presumably for space reasons, I
was reminded of that distance (again).  I
decided to parse the Declaration to better stress the distance.
however, was “impelled” in his own prefatory notes to paint the
Declaration in distinctly Marxist colors, as a document that was conceived
principally as a political sanction, defense, and explication of oligarchy, slavery,
misogyny, and racism.
By signing, the delegates of the states swore that the
American people gave them the right to make a new government if, & only if,
it guarded all people’s equal right to Life, Liberty & the pursuit of
Happiness. The word Happiness
replaced Property in the 1st
draft as slaves WERE property so unable to pursue it. Many who signed this
contract meant it to exclude slaves, redskins, women & others too poor to
be allowed to vote, for these were not people with a capital P. [sic,
bold and style Gray’s]
Gray mentions later that delegates who were opposed to slavery needed the votes
of the slaveholding delegates to endorse the Declaration as a political
document (and this is true), he compounds the confusion by referring to its
purpose as a means of establishing a democracy,
when in fact it was intended to announce the formation of a rights-protecting,
non-majority rule republic. While there
are few commentators today who make a distinction between the systems or the
terms, and even fewer Americans who discern the differences, the Founders,
including many slaveholders, certainly saw the distinction and wrote profusely
about it. See The Federalist Papers
and the miscellaneous writings of the various Founders and thinkers of the
period on this subject.
here goes the parsing:
When in the Course of human events, it
becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have
connected them with another….
is a question of whether or not We, the People, have any remaining, worthwhile connecting
political bands with Congress, the Supreme Court, the Executive Branch, and the
entirety of the federal government. As a whole, the existing federal government
has, for over the last half century at least, behaved like the George III’s
government, acting like Darth Vader’s Death Star, circling our lives and
blasting us from afar, independent of and insensible to the electorate,
certainly not in conformance to reason, and with a cavalier attitude towards
any freedoms which that government was instituted to preserve and protect.
…and to assume among the powers of the
earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of
Nature’s God entitle them….
nature of man and reality – the powers of
the earth
, and the Laws of nature
– imbue us with the decision and the power to reclaim those freedoms, either at
the ballot box…or by other means.
…a decent respect to the opinions of
mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the
is a decent respect for the minds of
others that has moved me to write this column. And, We, the People, are not so
much impelled to separate ourselves from the federal government, as having
already been separated from it by its capricious and malign actions, which have
alienated whatever residual affection we may have had for it. 
…We hold these truths to be
truths are self-evident to anyone who
subscribes to reason. This observation excludes virtually all Republican and
Democratic politicians, who inhabit a mental bubble world, insulated from
reality and indemnified from the reckless and destructive consequences of their
…that all men are created equal….
the aegis of objective, rights-protecting law, what remains of it today.
However, the federal government, from top to bottom, from the White House to every
federal bureaucrat and employee, behaves like a monarchial behemoth which has
charged itself with “managing” the citizens of this country and
devoting itself to the exclusive task of extracting from our productive lives
every cent and drop of sweat it can get away with.  
…that they are endowed by their Creator
with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the
pursuit of Happiness….
 …That man is a being of volitional
consciousness, and the owner of his own life, endowed by his nature with the
task of preserving and advancing his life and values, so long as his actions do
not infringe upon or violate the lives, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of
others. And if the definition of happiness
should include the creation and possession of property, so be it. It is tragic and regrettable that the Founders
needed to compromise on the issue of property in order to declare independence.
That omission engendered consequences that extend beyond the issue of slavery.  
…That to secure these rights,
Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the
consent of the governed….
better secure those rights, men must grasp that their rights do not originate
in government, that rights are not created by government, and are not the government’s
to restrict or obviate. Rights are merely recognized by a body of men instituted
and charged with their preservation and protection, and to that end that body
is empowered to employ retaliatory force domestically through police forces and
the judiciary, and with the military against foreign enemies, which just powers
are enumerated in the original Constitution. How many men would consciously
consent to the abridgement of their rights and lives? Today, too many.
…That whenever any Form of Government becomes
destructive of these ends….
I cannot
name a single right that has not been abridged or violated by the
federal government. Clearly, our current federal government dedicated itself to
destroying those rights by long ago having adopted in its ends collectivist
causes that can only guarantee the destruction of those rights. Past Congresses
and administrations infringed on those rights by semi-conscious default. The
current Congress and administration are destroying them as a conscious,
deliberate policy.
… it is the Right of the People to alter
or to abolish it….
it is our right to alter the federal government, at the ballot box, by
referendum, and by other legal, non-violent means. Alternatively, Ayn Rand’s novel
is rich with suggestions. The American Revolution, after all, was
the original strike against an omnivorous,
cannibalistic government.
…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….
current federal government does not consider itself bound by the principles
underlying individual rights and life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Its
powers are no longer organized to preserve and protect those rights, but rather
to obliterate them. It is not likely in the near future that it will recognize
those rights and repeal every page of legislation dedicated to their
abridgement or destruction.
…Prudence, indeed, will dictate that
Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient
diminishing scope of our rights is not a light
and transient cause
. When that scope reaches zero, it will be too late to
act except by passive non-violence. Prudence, indeed, dictates that our
long-established statist government needs to be changed in the composition of
its members and in the reformation or rejection of its explicit ends, or….
…and accordingly all experience hath
shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable,
than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed….
has shown me, and many others, as well, that Americans are more disposed to
suffer the abuses of our government than to do anything about them. The federal
takeover of education alone has virtually guaranteed a passive citizenry inured
to those abuses, and a large and growing corps of that citizenry who welcome
dependency on federal largesse, which can only be paid for from the pockets and
bank accounts of a diminishing productive segment of the citizenry. It is time
for that particular segment to declare that the evils are no longer sufferable.
…But when a long train of abuses and
usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce
them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw
off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security….
long train of abuses committed by the federal government is too exhaustive to
itemize here. Readers should try to think of a single action or liberty that is
not or has not been regulated, reduced, usurped, or negated by federal legislation.
…Such has been the patient sufferance of
these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter
their former Systems of Government….
is a practical limit to the “virtue” of patient tolerance of being
treated like chattel by a government whose ends and objects are inimical to
one’s life, liberty, and happiness. Beyond that limit, this country is cooked.
…The history of the present King of
Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in
direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States….
history of the present federal government is open to all. Buy a book. Read it,
but don’t weep. Get mad.
I have
always been dumfounded by the non-conceptual obtuseness of people who are
unaware of the injuries to their lives and the repeated usurpations of their
rights authored by the federal government. Attempts to enlighten them are tantamount
to pulling out an IHOP children’s coloring place mat and patiently connecting
the dots for them.
still, and too often, one hears their agreement that such injuries and
usurpations are necessary to maintain that chimerical form of government, democracy. Many will reply, by rote or with
a touchy defensiveness that is a clue to their character, that such restrictions
or violations are the “price we pay for freedom.” These latter are
men who haven’t an inkling of what freedom is, and who would be comfortable
living under absolute tyranny. They would tolerate subsistence rations, allow
their sons to be sent off to war to die for government causes, and hire their
daughters out to Muslim whorehouses.
…To prove this, let Facts be submitted
to a candid world.
think I have just done that, I hope, to a candid readership. How far we have
*Alasdair Gray, “The
American Declaration of Independence,” in The Book of Prefaces, Ed. and Advertisement by Alasdair Gray.  New York: Bloomsbury (2000), 2003, pp. 416-417.

Censorship by Fear

Joseph Conrad, the writer,
was astonished to learn early in the 20th century that Britain, his
adopted country, had a “Censor of Plays.” In a 1907 essay* he wrote
about the character of an individual who would assume the power and harbor the
hubris as the supreme arbiter of what appeared on the British stage. Needless
to say, he does not “appreciate” the existence of a censor:
have come to the conclusion in the security of my heart and the peace of my
conscience that he must be either an extreme megalomaniac or an utterly
unconscious being.
must be unconscious. It is one of the qualifications for his magistracy. Other
qualifications are equally easy. He must have done nothing, expressed nothing,
imagined nothing. He must be obscure, insignificant and mediocre – in thought,
act, speech and sympathy. He must know nothing of art, of life – and of
himself. For if he did he would not dare to be what he is.”
While the Church had been
censoring written and spoken speech for centuries, government censorship of
plays in Britain began in earnest with the Stage
Licensing Act
of 1737, to protect then Prime Minister Robert Walpole from
criticism by satire and mockery on the stage, and ended with the Theatres Act of
1968. But other forms of censorship subsequently were enacted in Britain, many conforming
to the legislative censorship of the European Union, rendering freedom of
speech in Britain contingent on those laws, which amounts to a byzantine maze
of “negatives.”
of the European Convention reads:
Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include
freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas
without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This
article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting,
television or cinema enterprises.
The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and
responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions
or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic
society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public
safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health
or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for
preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for
maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.
Given the woozy state of any
definition of freedom of speech today, or even its practice, in virtually any
country, Article Ten not so much guarantees freedom of speech, but wraps it in
a Rubik’s Cube-like conceptual straightjacket which only a puzzle-master or a consummate
politically correct judge would be able to grasp. It is burdened with so many
qualifications and exceptions it may as well decree: “We will let you know
when you are ‘free’ to say anything. Until then, be quiet, or it’s a fine and
the lockup for you.”
For example, a Swedish man
has been charged with “intentionally disrupting a religious or spiritual
ceremony,” in this instance, the Friday call to prayers outside a
Stockholm mosque, by honking
his car horn
. This is an example of Sweden’s fatal dhimmitude and deference
to its growing Muslim population. But, I am betting that no one has ever been charged
with the same offense for honking a horn outside a church while its bells were
Of course, the local Swedish
law must conform to the European Convention one, or at least not conflict with
it. But, how does one categorize “horn honking” as unprotected speech? Does it encourage “disorder
or crime”? Does it violate “the rights of others”? Is it a dereliction
of one’s alleged “duty and responsibility”? How does one reconcile
the “right” not to hear a honking
horn and the “right,” if you are not a Muslim, not to hear some talentless muezzin
screeching and wailing for between three to five minutes every Friday
Well, you don’t reconcile
them, because these are not “rights.” On the one hand, the government
frowns on literal horn honking if it bothers Muslims. On the other, it protects
the equivalent of malicious horn honking, that is, the loud call to prayers. The
call to prayers is “spiritual”; horn honking is not. So says fiat,
non-objective jurisprudence.
While the Swedish man denies
he deliberately honked his horn to disturb the congregated Muslims – we cannot
know the contents of his mind, that is, what he intended – it would not have mattered had he confessed that this was his intention. He is still liable
under the city’s municipal code. He disturbed the “peace” of the
faithful. Period.
In Austria, a man was charged
with “ridiculing” or “disparaging” Muslim beliefs by yodeling
and mowing his lawn at the same time
while his Muslim neighbors were trying to lift their arses and bang their heads
on the floor of their home in prayer. Again, local Austrian law must conform to
EU law, or not contradict it, and doubtless a European Union judge would concur
with the Austrian court’s decision to fine the man. His neighbors claimed that
his yodeling was a satirical attempt to copy the wails of a muezzin. (Personally, I find both a call
to prayers and yodeling esthetically abominable. I would be a harsh judge if a muezzin and a yodeler ever appeared on
“Austria’s Got Talent.”)
In Rennes, France, a butcher
was driven out of business because local Muslims, objecting to his selling of
pork, repeatedly threatened him and vandalized his shop. Did Article Ten
protect the butcher? No. Because some freedom of speech is “more
equal” than others, particularly if it is a Muslim’s freedom of speech. The
Muslims spoke; the butcher left the building.
In this country, singer Miley
Cyrus ignited a controversy with her super-vulgar performance during a Brooklyn
concert. Conservatives were up in arms. Breitbart
s sort of condemned her cacophonous gyrations:
The former teen star’s sexualized romp might have made Madonna blush–with envy.
There is nothing
intrinsically wrong with a “sexualized romp.” It can be vulgar, or it
can be tastefully stimulating. There is a difference between a sexualized romp
and the simulated pornography exhibited by Cyrus. Sexualized romps have been
around at least as long as the live stage. But, I dare anyone to compare
Cyrus’s performance, or Lady Gaga’s, or Madonna’s, with, say, Rita Hayworth’s
performance of “The
Heat is On
,” and claim they are all on the same level. They are not. Aside
from the fact that neither Cyrus, nor Gaga, nor Madonna ever had a thimbleful
of Hayworth’s talent, Hayworth is esthetically appealing, as well.
Rita Hayworth sizzles. Miley
Cyrus?  Yawn.
Someone might object: But how
can such outrageous performances as Miley Cyrus’s be protected as “freedom
of speech” or “freedom of expression”? Easily. Don’t watch them.
Don’t patronize the likes of Cyrus. That’s their protection. “Entertainers”
such as Miley Cyrus can degrade themselves as much as they wish, but one has
the choice of not rewarding them for it. One has the freedom to avert one’s
eyes and stuff one’s ears when Rita Hayworth is performing, as well. One may
even wish to criticize such behavior, but one hasn’t the right to stop it,
unless one wishes to resort to force. Resorting to force as a means of surcease
in the realm of speech has always been a government’s tyrannical prerogative.
A more fundamental objection
would focus, instead, on the state of a culture that would generate and
encourage such crude performances as Cyrus’s as entertainment values,
entertainment which appeals to the mindless, prurient hedonism and tasteless
interests of countless esthetic illiterates. Artists with nothing to say
usually resort to gross behavior and call it “novel” or
“ground-breaking.” In the musical, literary, and visual realms, they are
the avant-garde of nihilism. Miley Cyrus
has joined a populous club that includes such notables as James Joyce and Jackson
Contrary of Conrad’s
justifiably innocent presumption (he lived in the twilight of reason and
sanity), there are many individuals in government who do know themselves and dare to impose their mediocre, mean little
souls on the rest of us. They are the “soul-brethren” of Miley Cyrus.
Of far more danger is the choice of self-censorship. Fear of retaliation in the
way of direct or indirect government force can cause an individual to not speak
out when it is important that he speak, or even to commit self-perjury.
While we now know that the government
can and will monitor our phone
and emails,
and has selectively targeted particular and prominent individuals at the behest
of presidents and other powers that are satellites of the Oval Office  to discredit political opponents or neutralize
or silence opposition of any kind (e.g., General David
), censorship needn’t be overt. A more effective means of silencing
ideas and truths is to instill fear of retaliation in individuals. The National
Security Agency (NSA)
is completing a multi-billion dollar facility in Utah that will store every
phone call and email of Americans and others.
For what purpose? To “fight
terrorism”? You “fight terrorism” by eliminating states that
sponsor it, not by snooping into the privacy of citizens which your agency is
chartered to protect from state-sponsored terrorism, and collecting data that
can be used to silence citizens  via
blackmail or threatened coercion lest they oppose government policies or speak
In short, you don’t fight
state-sponsored terrorism by instituting state-sponsored terrorism.
That, in short, is the mind-numbing
character of censorship by fear. And its advocates know it. After all, if one
remains silent for fear of retaliation or retribution, one can’t claim that one
is being “censored,” can one? Where’s the gun pointed at one’s head?
The person holding the gun…is
*Joseph Conrad, “A
Censor of Plays: An Appreciation,” in The
Oxford Book of Essays
, Ed. and Introduction by John Gross.  Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press
(1991), 2002, pp. 326-329.

Obama Gets “Syrias” On Syria

You really wish you had the
credentials and clearance to attend a White House press conference, indoors or
in the Rose Garden, and have the chance to pose this question to President
Barack Obama: “Sir: Why don’t you just go on an extended golfing tour for
the rest of your term, and leave the country alone? And, the world, too. You
might be able to improve your par.”
Barring that, one could just
toss a rotten egg at him. Or an over-ripe tomato. If you couldn’t get the egg
or the tomato passed security, you could sacrifice one of your shoes. I don’t
think the White House Press Corps shows up barefooted, leaving their footwear
in a TSA-style Secret Service bin. You would look silly hobbling out of the
press conference in handcuffs, but you will have asked your question, or made
your point one way or another.
Whatever you threw at him –
the question, the egg, the tomato, or the shoe – Obama just might get the
point. Or he may not. Chances are that he wouldn’t get it, because he is truth-proof.
Reality is optional for him. It is whatever he wishes it to be, and we mustn’t
corner him with inconvenient questions, or shower him with expiration-dated
Let’s take Syria, and President
Bashar Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons. Obama has a “high
” that Assad used them. Translated, “high
confidence” means a percentile of certainty, and not absolute certainty, based
on circumstantial evidence that someone
used chemical weapons, because there are bodies to prove it. However, a
“high confidence,” in colloquial terms, simply means a
“hunch” that Assad used them and not Syrian “rebels” using
captured chemical weapons from Iraq. Or from Benghazi. Or from a Mexican drug
cartel. Not evidence.
It would be easy to claim
that Obama errs. Obama does not “err.” He is not handicapped by an
epistemological cataract that prevents him from seeing the truth or that blurs
it in a murky mist. The truth is irrelevant to him when it contradicts his
wishes. He wishes it to be true that Assad used chemical weapons on Syrians. This
will justify his ordering military action against Assad.
His behavior over Syria has
been Obama’s characteristic leitmotif throughout his entire presidential
tenure. His eyes are wide open and he knows what he is doing. On his side are
the news media to help him put the falsehoods across as truths. Against him is
the truth.
Contradictions clash in men’s
minds when the transgendered falsehoods collide with what many only sense may
be the truth, and fervor for The One consequently diminishes to tepid support
and even abandonment. Obama, like Woodrow Wilson, posed for a long time as
“anti-war.” But he has proven to be a wannabe warlord, and when his
personalized warfighting backfires as it did in Libya and Egypt, he has a
shovel-ready machinery in place among his appointees and in the new media to
help him bury the disasters and to sprinkle the corpses with generous spadefuls
of lime. In that arduous effort, he had the assistance of former Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton.  
After all, the Al Qada-linked
Syrian “rebels” are blameless, trustworthy truth-tellers, don’t you
know? We mustn’t impugn their character by implying that they used chemical weapons on fellow Muslims in order to impugn the
character of Bashar Assad. Allah forbid.
Assad is a dictator, and a
pox on his house, as well. But you will have noticed that Obama isn’t accusing
Assad of being a dictator, only that he did a bad thing. Well, a “bad
thing” according to international consensus, when many, many thousands
more people have died in the interminable battle between Assad and the Syrian
Obama has a weakness for
dictators and strong-arm leaders. He envies them their power. He bows and
scrapes before kings and kingpins such as King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and
Russia’s Vladimir Putin, trades high-fives with monsters such as Hugo Chavez
and has tea with Chinese Party chiefs. And hires Muslims by the bushel-load to
manage his administration. This is aside from his having supported Morsi and
his ousted Muslim Brotherhood Sharia-governed régime.
The nature of Obama’s
perception of the world comes from his own mouth. Andy Borowitz of The
New Yorker
on August 29th ran a satirical piece on the workings
of his mind:
me be clear,” he said in an interview on CNN. “Our goal will not be to effect
régime change, or alter the balance of power in Syria, or bring the civil war
there to an end. We will simply do something random there for one or two days
and then leave.”
want to reassure our allies and the people of Syria that what we are about to
undertake, if we undertake it at all, will have no purpose or goal,” he said.
“This is consistent with U.S. foreign policy of the past.”
Sending in U.S. warships to
blast Assad’s military infrastructure will have no purpose? No goal? No
intention of altering the balance of power in Syria or anywhere else? What,
then, is the point of any intervention at all? Obama is treating his own
military action as though it would be as prankish as a college fraternity
panty-raid, and regards our own military, which he despises, as his personal
playpen toys. His concession to Congressional authorization has the character
of patronizing a body he’d just rather not have to deal with. Listening
to him
in the Rose Garden, I almost expected him to smirk in contempt for
the law and the right of Congress to sanction his executive war powers, or not.
As many commentators have
noted, it is beginning to be hard to distinguish between Obama’s reality and
reality itself. It’s hard to identify satire from Obama’s policies and actions.
No wonder no one can take him
seriously. Not even Europeans who want to like him, but can’t do anything but
laugh behind his back and even in his face, or give him the polite brush-off.
Obama’s Charley McCarthy
ventriloquist dummy, Jay Carney, per The New Yorker satirical piece, confirmed
his boss’s bizarre pronouncements after our “allies” did a
double-take on the proposed time frame of a Syrian intervention:
criticism led White House spokesman Jay Carney to brief reporters later in the
day, arguing that the President was willing to scale down the U.S. mission to
“twenty-four hours, thirty-six tops.”
may take twenty-four hours, but it could also take twelve,” Mr. Carney said.
we get in there, take a look around, and get out right away. But however long
it takes, one thing will not change: this mission will have no point. The
President is resolute about that.”
Obama’s resolution has the
strength of overcooked spaghetti.
Obama said that he will go
ahead with a Syrian intervention even if Congress does not authorize it.  That is the attitude of a spoiled demagogue. In
terms of chronological age, he is a spoiled brat. In terms of a character
assessment, he is a power-lusting creature.
And, what is Syria to Obama?
It is a place where he can experiment with that country as he unsuccessfully
experimented with Egypt. No one came to Morsi’s aid when he was trounced. But
Russia’s Putin is also sending warships to the Syrian coast in support of
Assad. Have we the ingredients of another world war cooking in the
Over what? The power plays
between one brutal régime, Assad’s, and a Muslim Brotherhood alliance of
Islamic supremacists, who have proven to be equally brutal.
Whose side is Obama really
on? The Syrian people, “yearning for democracy”? Or Al-Qada’s,
yearning for power? As Abigail Esman put it in her IPT
column of August 30th:
incredible is the fact that, in taking military action in Syria, America would
effectively be standing on the same side as al-Qaeda affiliate groups who also
support them. As counterterrorism consultants Flashpoint Partners recently reported, “the lion’s share of foreign fighters who
are dying in Syria are fighting with the most hardline organization involved in
the uprising: Jabhat al-Nusra. The leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, Abu Mohammed
al-Joulani, has recently publicly sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda leader Ayman
al-Zawahiri and the group has been blacklisted as a branch of Al Qaeda in Iraq
by the United States Government.”
Imagine the corrupted moral
and epistemological mentality of a president who would intentionally, consciously take the side of this
country’s enemies, in this instance, Al-Qada.
It’s time for Americans and
Congress to take seriously the idea now floating around the Internet that Obama
is a ripe candidate for impeachment, and for graver executive felonies than
Bill Clinton ever committed.
It’s time to stop Obama in
his tracks. It’s time to hold him accountable for every destructive action he
has ever taken since his first day in office in January 2009.

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