The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

Month: February 2014 Page 1 of 2

“Transformation” via “Rehabilitation”

Americans,
says the deconstructionist Left, need to be rehabilitated. They need to get
their minds right. If they won’t do it themselves, voluntarily, then legislation,
courts, lawsuits, civil rights laws, “social pressure,” public demonization,
social harassment, marginalization, and even physical or death threats, must do
it for them. 
The
“rehabilitation” won’t be as physically agonizing as that which Winston
Smith underwent in George Orwell’s dystopian novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, but the consequences would be the same: a
mind tortured out of its sovereignty, and, in effect, deconstructed to conform
and defer to the power of the State.
Americans
need to be deconstructed and put back together again, just as American history
has been deconstructed in government-approved textbooks, and the concept of
marriage, and freedom of association, and business ownership, and gender
itself, are being deconstructed, reconstructed, and revised to reflect the new
political and social realities. Some Americans, once deconstructed, like Humpty
Dumpty, won’t be able to be put back together again, and that’s too bad. They,
the advance guard of deconstruction and mandatory rehabilitation, won’t miss
them. They, the waves of the future, just wish that constitutional reprobates and
political recidivists would do them the courtesy and drop dead and save them
the trouble of taking real action against them.
Hard
but promising, conciliatory cases have a choice between classroom reeducation
in a local community college, or rehabilitation in a Nevada desert camp or an
Alaskan labor center.
All
they’re asking is that Americans be just like them: deconstructed. Cases in
point:
You
have no right to refuse to deal with anyone, says the government, regardless of
your convictions, religious or not, and especially not if the people you refuse
to deal with are gay. In “Judge
Rules Colorado Bakery Discriminated Against Gay Couple
,” Ashby Jones
wrote in the Wall Street Journal on December 6th, 2013:
Two gay men in Colorado won
discrimination claims against a bakery that refused to sell them a wedding
cake, beating back the business owner’s argument that he had the constitutional
right to decline service to a gay couple for religious reasons.
In a ruling issued Friday, an
administrative law judge in Denver, Robert Spencer, ruled that by rebuffing the
couple’s attempt to buy a cake, Masterpiece Cakeshop violated a state law
bagging discrimination in a public place on grounds of sexual orientation.
The baker, Jack Phillips, had
argued that applying the antidiscrimination law in this context violated his
First Amendment free-speech and freedom-of-religion rights….
But Judge Spencer shot down the
constitutional arguments, noting that the Supreme Court has “repeatedly found”
that those engaged in commercial activity are subject to state discrimination
laws, regardless of their religious beliefs.
The
chief problem here is not Jack Phillips or even the gay couple, but
antidiscrimination law, federal, state and local. Discrimination law nullifies
the freedom of association. If you don’t choose to associate, or deal with, or
do business with someone, whatever your reason, that is your business, and not
the government’s. But a welfare state cum totalitarian state can only use force
to overrule your mind, your values, and your convictions. Free society? Not any
more. The deconstructionists like it that way. They want what they want, and
will have their way with you.
Or,
take the case of the bakery in Oregon, as reported by Fox News on January 21st,
“Oregon ruling really takes the cake – Christian
bakery guilty of violating civil rights of lesbian couple
“:
The owners of a Christian bakery
who refused to make a wedding cake for a lesbian couple are facing hundreds of
thousands of dollars in fines after they were found guilty of violating the
couple’s civil rights.
The Oregon Bureau of Labor and
Industries said they found “substantial evidence” that Sweet Cakes by Melissa
discriminated against the lesbian couple and violated the Oregon Equality Act
of 2007, a law that protects the rights of the LGBT community.
Last year, the bakery’s owners
refused to make a wedding cake for Rachel Cryer and Laurel Bowman, of Portland,
citing their Christian beliefs. The couple then filed a complaint with the
state.
We
have raised a generation or two of whim-worshipping wussies who turn to the government
when their “feelings” are hurt. Obviously, Cryer and Bowman could go
elsewhere for their wedding cake (and probably by this time have), but chose instead
to advance the deconstructionist LGBT cause in the country by putting the
screws to a small business. The object: to punish the “offender” and
hold the owners up as an example what will happen to anyone else who chooses to
adhere to their convictions. They wish the “offenders” to act against
their convictions (however irrational or rational they may be), and just obey. Cryer
and Bowman (why not “Bowperson,” that would be in conformance with
the anti-man premises of the couple) have displayed their totalitarian minds.
The backlash against Aaron and
Melissa Klein, owners of the bakery, was severe. Gay rights groups launched
protests and pickets outside the family’s store. They threatened wedding
vendors who did business with the bakery. And, Klein told me, the family’s
children were targets of death threats. The family eventually had to close
their retail shop and now operate the bakery out of their home.
Under state law, the complaint
against the bakery now moves into a period of reconciliation. If they can’t reach an agreement, formal civil
charges could be filed and the Kleins could face hundreds of thousands of
dollar in fines.
Last August, Labor Commissioner Brad
Avakian told The Oregonian, their desire is to rehabilitate businesses like the
one owned by the Christian couple.
“Everybody is entitled to
their own beliefs, but that doesn’t mean that folks have the right to
discriminate,” he told the newspaper. “The goal is never to shut down
a business. The goal is to rehabilitate.”
[Italics mine]
In
short: You may hold any convictions you wish, but dare not act on them lest you
run afoul of the law and incur the wrath of those you have offended. Hold any
ideas you wish, but hold a contradiction in your mind, as well, and attempt to
live with it. If it causes you distress, too bad. Gay “rights” trump
the integrity and honor of your mind. Gays, lesbians, welfare mothers, and
what-have-you have a “right” to your product, whether or not you want
to sell it to them.
The Kleins warned that what
happened to them could happen to other Christian business owners. And it
already has.
In December a Colorado baker was
ordered by a judge to either serve gay weddings or face fines. Jack Phillips, the
owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop, was told to “cease and desist from discriminating”
against gay couples. Phillips is a Christian.
New Mexico’s Supreme Court ruled
in August that two Christian photographers who declined to photograph a
same-sex union violated the state’s Human Rights Act. One justice said
photographers Elaine and Jonathan Huguenin were “compelled by law to
compromise the very religious beliefs that inspire their lives.”
And the Washington attorney general
filed a lawsuit against a florist who refused to provide flowers for a same-sex
couple’s wedding. Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers &
Gifts filed a countersuit, telling the Christian Broadcasting Network she
“had to take a stand” in defense of her faith in Christ. Perkins told
me that in many cases gay couples are targeting businesses owned by Christians.
The
issue has little to do with Christian beliefs, or any system of beliefs. It has
to do with forcing a mind to act
against one’s best interests and values. When I do book signings, I could just
as well tell a gay couple to get away from my table because I don’t like gays,
or because I don’t like a person’s clothing, or because the person has body
odor, or I’m repelled by the person’s pierced nose and lower lip, or because the
person is black, yellow, brown or green, and refuse to talk with the person or
sell him one of my books. Whatever reason I chose to cite, is my call, not the government’s or a gay
couple’s or a Muslim’s. The rationality or irrationality of my reasons is not
the government’s to judge, assess, or forbid. I alone should be able to incur
the rewards or losses stemming from my choices.
Either
I own my own mind, or I don’t. Either I establish the rules of my life in the
way of freedom of association, or I’m just a steward of property – my mind, my
life – claimed by the government or by any random individual that approaches my
table.
In
a CBS affiliate’s story of December 6th, “Judge
Orders Colorado Cake Maker to Serve Gay Couples
,” quoted one of the
gays who were turned away by Masterpiece Cakeshop:
Mullins said he and Craig are
“ecstatic.” “To a certain extent, though, I don’t think that this is necessarily
a surprise,” he said. “We thought it was pretty clear cut that he had
discriminated against us.”Mullins said he hopes the “decision will help ensure
that no one else will experience this kind of discrimination again in Colorado.”
Let
that be a lesson to you, all you un-deconstructed genders. The
deconstructionists, in and out of government, must always resort to force to compel
a mind to do their bidding.  And they don’t
care. Their non-hurt feelings are all that matter.
Arizona
Governor Janet Brewer is undecided whether or not to veto a bill, passed by the
legislature that would permit businesses to “discriminate” against
gays. The law is an ill-considered, concrete-bound backlash against the whole
leftist national campaign to legitimize gay unions and to force businesses to
cater to them regardless of anyone’s objection to homosexuality. Such laws do
not address the fundamental right of freedom of association and freedom of
trade, focusing as they do on mere religious grounds. An example of this is
apparent in an NBC News story of February 24th, “Big
Business to Arizona: Gay Discrimination Bill Bad for Economy
“:
Apple, American Airlines and
Marriott delivered a message to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Monday: State
legislation allowing companies to discriminate against gays on religious
grounds would be bad for business.
The conservative Republican
governor is facing growing pressure over the bill, which the statehouse passed
last Thursday. Opponents
have called it “state-sanctioned discrimination” and an
embarrassment.”
Apple and a slew of big-name
firms issued letters and made phone calls to Brewer on Monday telling her the
state would take a financial hit if the law passed, according to CNBC. Apple is
just about to open large new glass manufacturing plant in Mesa, Arizona. Marriott,
meanwhile, noted that their bottom-line could suffer as a result of the bill.
This measure “would have
profound negative impacts on the hospitality industry on the Arizona and on the
state’s overall economic climate for years to come,” the hotel chain said
in a statement. American Airlines noted how deeply Arizona suffered during the
recession and said: “Our economy thrives best when the doors of commerce
are open to all. This bill sends the wrong message.”
This
is a most curious objection to the discrimination law. Call it a preemptive
LGBT impact statement, based on hand-wringing economics.  When was the last time Apple, American Airlines,
or Marriott asked customers about their “sexual orientation”? Do they
compile statistics on the number of gay and non-gay customers? Would federal
law even allow them to ask such questions? Has any one of these companies
discriminated against anyone on religious grounds, or broadcast their own
religious convictions and turned down business because of them? I doubt it.
However,
again, the law and the objections are not based on any fundamental concepts
concerning freedom of association, of the freedom to deal with, trade with, be
friends with, or even enemies with. The question is: What business is it of
government to pass any legislation governing free association? The answer is:
None.
Governor
Brewer, according to a CNN story of February 21st, “Arizona passes
controversial anti-gay bill
,” almost gets it right:
“I think anybody that owns a
business can choose who they work with or who they don’t work with,”
Brewer told CNN in Washington on Friday. “But I don’t know that it needs
to be statutory. In my life and in my businesses, if I don’t want to do
business or if I don’t want to deal with a particular company or person or
whatever, I’m not interested. That’s America. That’s freedom.”
That
was the freedom that was, and the America that was.
The
ancestor of the new “civil rights” is the Civil Rights
Act of 1964
:
In 1964 Congress passed Public
Law 88-352 (78 Stat. 241). The provisions of this civil rights act forbade
discrimination on the basis of sex as well as race in hiring, promoting, and
firing. The word “sex” was added at the last moment….
The final bill also allowed sex
to be a consideration when sex is a bona fide occupational qualification for
the job. Title VII of the act created the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission (EEOC) to implement the law.
Subsequent legislation expanded
the role of the EEOC. Today, according to the U. S. Government Manual of
1998-99
, the EEOC enforces laws that prohibit discrimination based on race,
color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age in hiring, promoting,
firing, setting wages, testing, training, apprenticeship, and all other terms
and conditions of employment. Race, color, sex, creed, and age are now
protected classes. The proposal to add each group to protected-class status
unleashed furious debate. But no words stimulate the passion of the debate more
than “affirmative action.”
Before
anyone exclaims, “Horrors! Cline is against the Civil Rights Act!”
readers should examine the law themselves and judge whether or not it conforms
to today’s newly-created “civil rights” in freedom of association in business
in the way of trading with customers or prospective customers, and not just in
employment. Yes, I have always questioned the soundness of the Civil Rights
Act, because it paved the way for today’s lunatic injustices and the violation
of individual rights. It merely codified those violations.
And
allowed the new “protected class” to assert its power over everyone
else, and to proceed with its deconstructionist agenda to rehabilitate the
whole country – with force. It fits right in with Barack Obama’s plan to “transform
the country.
“In five days we are going
to fundamentally transform America.”
….into
tribes of protected classes, who cannot be refused anything.

Federal Fly Swatters: Pit Bulls vs. Poodles

It
may come as a surprise to many, but the Library
of Congress
has its own SWAT team, 85 bodies strong. Learning this elicited
a chuckle from me and a recollection of a classic Seinfeld shtick: the Library Cop. It otherwise
isn’t a laughing matter. A Library of Congress SWAT force showing up outside
your door, to paraphrase Mr. Bookman’s closing line, would be worse than a pit
bull sicced on a poodle.
That’s
because the federal government regards all non-federal employees as poodles to
harass, throw down to the floor, cuff, arrest, and cart off to an unknown
future or even fate. And if you resist, you will be shot. If you successfully
resist by shooting, in legitimate retaliation against the initiation of force
against you, one or more members of a federal SWAT force, and survive the
ensuing fusillade, you will be charged with assault or murder. Your home or
office will be ransacked. Your computer and private papers will be confiscated,
likely never returned, and if returned, then damaged. Damages to your property
will not be compensated. No one on the SWAT team will be charged with anything,
except perhaps poor marksmanship or maybe using foul language. More likely
promotions in grade and pay will be in line.
If
you’re lucky, and the authorities admit a mistaken identity, or find no
evidence of what they were searching for – with or without a search or arrest
warrant – you may sue, and incur the costs and stress of fighting a government
that has unlimited financial resources to fight back in court.
This
is the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) at work. Not for you. But against
you. You’re paying for it.
The
federal government can boast of at least seventy agencies with armed officers
on their payrolls, who can be cobbled together to form a single SWAT team or in
alliance with other
federal and local law
enforcement agencies. The Department of Justice has a
16-page report that
details all federal agencies that have their own little troops of armed
officers, including the Library of Congress, the Environmental Protection
Agency, the Department
of Education
, and etc. Surprisingly, the only significant agency that does
not arm its employees is the Transportation
Security Administration
(TSA), but it isn’t
for lack
of interest. The TSA wants travelers to see those gun holsters at
every checkpoint.
Over
the years, the federal government has incrementally militarized state and local
law enforcement agencies, often to the point that cities and small towns have
acquired armored personnel carriers and military style devices such as ramrods
and “flash-bang” or “stun” grenades. This was done either under
pressure from the federal government, or the non-federal agencies decided that they
needed to “get with the game,” and arm themselves to the teeth as
much as their local budgets would allow (along with subsidies from the federal
government). Fox News reported on a dubious
federal raid
last September on a gold mining town in Alaska:
A task force including members of
10 state and federal law enforcement agencies descended on a gold mine in the
tiny town of Chicken (pop. 17) last month, in what locals described as a raid.
“Imagine coming up to your
diggings, only to see agents swarming over it like ants, wearing full body
armor, with jackets that say “POLICE” emblazoned on them, and all
packing side arms,” gold miner C.R. Hammond told the Alaska Dispatch. “How
would you have felt? You would be wondering, ‘My God, what have I done now?”
A spokesman for the federal
Environmental Protection Agency did not deny that agents wore body armor and
carried guns, but said it was not a “raid.”
“The ongoing investigation
conducted by the AK Environmental Crimes Task Force — consisting of EPA, ADEC,
USFWS, ADFG, BLM, Coast Guard, FBI, Alaska State Troopers, NOAA, & US Park
Service — did not result in a raid,” the statement read. “The Task
Force members involved in the investigation during the week of August 19, 2013,
were EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division & Bureau of Land Management’s
Office of Law Enforcement & Security, in cooperation with ADEC’s
Environmental Crimes Unit.”
The investigation was into
possible violations of the Clean Water Act, according to the EPA. The officers
were part of the Alaska Environmental Crimes Task Force and visited the outpost
near the Canadian border during the third week of August to investigate water
discharges into rivers, streams, lakes and oceans.
It’s
a raid if a dozen armed law enforcement personnel suddenly show up and swarm
over your property, ransack your belongings, and ask questions – and all you’ve
done is mind your own business. The Alaska raid was basically a
“fishing” expedition, looking for reasons to justify the initiation
of force.
But
then the Obama promise to “transform America” includes on its agenda making
your business the government’s business, and to the point that you no longer
have a business.
The
American Revolution occurred in large part over the stationing of British
troops in the colonies to better “police” the colonials in taxation
and mercantilist regulation, and to prevent them from escaping British
“protection” by migrating West over the Alleghany Mountains. Special
Admiralty courts were established to deal with smugglers and violators of the
Crown’s mercantile regulations. Crown-appointed governors in turn appointed
compliant judges to the colonial judiciary to uphold Crown laws. The Crown
instituted warrantless searches and seizures. This was a policy proposed by
Crown wonks even before repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766, advocated for a decade
by subministers with little else to do but concoct ways to milk and subdue the
colonies and to pass on their “white papers” to their superiors and
cronies in Parliament receptive to their ideas.
Lexington
and Concord could be seen as a SWAT team raid by British troops to find and destroy
colonial arms supplies, and Bunker Hill as an assault on the Tea Party. Is the U.S.
headed for a repeat of those confrontations? Wisdom says yes, if there’s any
gumption left in Americans after being brainwashed in government schools, by
the news media, and by Hollywood.
After
all, the behavior of federal and local law enforcement agencies too much is the
hallmark of a military operation directed against a population declared the
enemy.
But
who is the real enemy? Islamic jihadists? Someone growing marijuana in his
basement for personal use? Someone whose husband had traffic ticket ten years
ago? Someone who dared question a politician’s motive for harassing him?
 Radley Balko of the Cato
Institute
in 2006 published a paper on the rise
of paramilitary operations
within the U.S.
Over the last 25 years, America
has seen a disturbing militarization of its civilian law enforcement, along
with a dramatic and unsettling rise in the use of paramilitary police units
(most commonly called Special Weapons and Tactics, or SWAT) for routine police
work. The most common use of SWAT teams today is to serve narcotics warrants,
usually with forced, unannounced entry into the home.
These increasingly frequent
raids, 40,000 per year by one estimate, are needlessly subjecting nonviolent
drug offenders, bystanders, and wrongly targeted civilians to the terror of
having their homes invaded while they’re sleeping, usually by teams of heavily
armed paramilitary units dressed not as police officers but as soldiers.
Accompanying
the paper is a remarkable, up-to-date (to 2011) interactive map of the U.S. that is
virtually buried under pinpoints of botched SWAT raids. Each clickable pinpoint
activates a balloon that explains the event. Apparently the map is regularly
updated to include the most current incidents of SWAT raids.         
.
What
has brought America to a state in which this scenario has actually been carried
out so many times and with fatal consequences? It didn’t begin with the
establishment of the post- 9/11, Bush-conceived, but German-sounding
“Homeland Security,” the umbrella agency that oversees all federal,
state and local law enforcement entities in the country. Prohibition era raids
by T-men and G-men were just as arbitrary and ruthless. “Homeland
Security” has an inescapable totalitarian ring to it, and I doubt that
ring was lost on whoever put the agency together and picked the name.
This
is a logical consequence of a politics that diminishes freedom as government
powers expand over as broad a range of human action as it can get away with.
SWAT teams – with the body armor, the bug-eye sunglasses, the visors, the
high-powered weaponry, the fancy, high-tech accouterments, the riot gear, and
the anonymity of the beings in that array – are intended to restrain or
intimidate or frighten the “liberal” (in the old, freedom-defined
sense) elements of society into submission and obedience, as well as anyone
else who has been psychologically subdued by “authority.” Remember that
the grenadiers of European armies, including the British, were chosen for their
extraordinary height, which in turn was exaggerated by their tall bearskin busbies.
The
psychologically subdued may resent the ever-present threat embodied in the
“men in black,” but they will never revolt and will never pose a
threat to the state or question its authority. The burden of that
non-intimidation will be up to us Bunker Hill types. Remember also that about one-third
of the American population during the Revolution was “neutral,” and
the other third Loyalist.
The
ongoing, never-ending “war on terror” – which we are losing – is
partly responsible for the ubiquity of militarized law enforcement. The country
is in a permanent state of siege – or lock-down, if you will – because the
government refuses to acknowledge an enemy dedicated to subverting and
destroying the country: Islam. It is not beyond belief to assume that one of
the reasons the government refuses to acknowledge the actual enemy is because
it has a vested interest in imposing the kinds of controls it considered
expedient to establish to “combat” Islam. Combating a non-enemy
requiring a police state is simply an excuse to perpetuate the controls, the
surveillance, the TSA groping, the campaign against guns, and waging a war
against freedom of speech in the names of “tolerance,”
“diversity,” and “fairness.” The government has also taken
upon itself the powers to combat “social ills” and to enforce
“social justice.” These “ills” include marijuana and drug usage,
prostitution, money laundering of funds derived from “illegal” businesses
made illegal by fiat law, and manufacturing goods with materials not approved
by the government – for beginners.
It
is interesting to note that while the federal government and its state and
local law enforcement allies prepare for a raid armed and equipped like
soldiers, I am not aware of these SWAT units ever taking on any one of the
dozens of Islamic “retreats” that are actually jihadi training camps in the wilds, such as Islamberg
in New York or in some
36 such
places in across the
country
, from New York to Oregon. Spokesmen for the SWAT armies explain
that the agencies must be prepared for urban and rural warfare against terrorists.
But, what terrorist groups have been assaulted by these SWAT teams in the U.S.?
Instead
of a news story of a knock-down, drag-out battle between Islamist terrorists in
training and our combat-ready SWAT teams, we get to read stories like this one,
from Pamela
Geller’s
Atlas Shrugs site:
The jihad terror-trainings
compounds in the U.S., a news story I
first broke back in 2007,
are growing. And now I have obtained exclusive
information showing that one of them has placed members on local police forces,
ensuring that nothing is done to stop or even monitor their activities.
PJ
Media reported
, “Federal Bureau of Investigations documents detailing a
22-site network of terrorist training villages sprawled across the United
States. According to the documents, the FBI has been concerned about these
facilities for about 12 years, but cannot act against them because the U.S.
State Department has not yet declared that their umbrella group, MOA [Muslims
of the Americas]/Jamaat ul-Fuqra, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.”
The Texas compound is called
“Mahmoudberg,” located in south Texas’ Brazoria County on County Road 3 near
the town of Sweeny, which has a population of about 4,000. Jamaat ul-Fuqra was
the jihad terrorist organization that murdered journalist Daniel Pearl – he had
gone to try to interview its leader. According to an informed source, one of
Pearl’s murderers now lives at Mahmoudberg.
What’s
keeping the government from declaring Muslims of America a terrorist
organization? The intimidating charge of “Islamophobia” and the risk
of high-profile lawsuits founded on charges of racism, “hate crimes,”
religious prejudice, discrimination, etc. – all the victimhood fallbacks of an
ideology determined to make America bow to Mecca, which it has done numerous times
over the last thirty or more years.
Another
thing that is stopping the government from declaring the group a terrorist organization
is a policy-driven, copasetic feeling for the group. To the feds, we’re just
poodles, ready to push around; to Muslims, we’re just kaffirs, ready to be
conquered or killed, using the same armament. Is there a difference in approach
between our government and Islamic terrorists? Nothing fundamental.
So,
if Muslims connected to bona fide terrorist organizations can be hired by American
police forces, where do we go from there?
More
Americans should see themselves as Dobermans, not as poodles or even Fox
Terriers. There is hope for the country, as reported by USA
TODAY
‘s February 23rd story, “Americans rising up against government.”
Writer Glenn Reynolds wrote:
America’s ruling class has been
experiencing more pushback than usual lately. It just might be a harbinger of
things to come.
First, in response to widespread
protests last week, the Department of Homeland Security canceled
plans
to build a nationwide license plate database. Many local
police departments
already use license-plate readers that track every car
as it passes traffic signals or pole-mounted cameras. Specially equipped police
cars even track cars parked on the street or even in driveways.
The DHS put
out a bid request
for a system that would have gone national, letting the
federal government track millions of people’s comings and goings just as it
tracks data about every phone call we make. But the proposal was suddenly withdrawn
last week, with the unconvincing explanation that it was all a mistake.
On Friday, after more public
outrage, the Federal
Communications Commission withdrew
a plan to “monitor” news
coverage at not only broadcast stations, but also at print publications that
the FCC has no authority to regulate. The “Multi-Market Study of Critical
Information Needs,” or CIN (pronounced
“sin”
) involved the FCC sending people to question reporters and
editors about why they chose to run particular stories. Many folks
in and out of the media found it Orwellian….
Though people have taken to the
streets from Egypt,
to Ukraine,
to Venezuela
to Thailand,
many have wondered whether Americans would ever resist the increasing
encroachments on their freedom. I think they’ve begun.
Poodles,
indeed. Or is it a case of the bully pit bull being what he’s always been: a
coward? Time will tell.

The FBI: Between a Rock and a Hard Place of Truth

A
few years ago, when I was researching one of my period detective novels, The
Chameleon
, I had occasion to contact the Federal Bureau of
Investigation for some details about the status and concerns of the FBI in
1929-1930. While the FBI
history site
gave me some information, it wasn’t quite enough. Because the
story was about the discovery of an embryonic Nazi Bund near San Francisco, the
questions I needed answers to were:
Was the Bureau of Investigation
(or the BOI, as the FBI was known then) actively monitoring Nazi activities or
Weimar Germany’s intelligence gathering in the U.S.? (Yes, to a limited extent.) Was the Department of Justice, under
which the BOI operated, concerned about Nazi or German espionage or activism in
the country? (Yes, to a limited extent.)
Did it keep tabs on known Nazi sympathizers and organizations or on German
intelligence operations in the country? (Yes.)
Or was the Bureau more concerned with Communist activities in the country? (Yes, much more so.) For story purposes,
because the novel is set in San Francisco in November 1929, where were BOI
divisional headquarters? (We don’t know.)
I
needed answers to these and other questions to write credibly about the BOI. I
was finally able to contact someone with the FBI in Washington D.C. who
scheduled a telephone conference for me with two agents: one who would answer
my questions, and another who would audit the conversation but not participate.
I was given their “field” names (which I no longer have a record
of).  The call lasted about 15 minutes.
Both agents (male) seemed to be on the road during the call. It was a very cordial
call, although I could sense that the one participating agent was reticent
about some information concerning Communist activism in the country.
The
“Yes” answers prompted me to further research, much of which is
reflected in the novel.
I
was able, after some very frustrating and lengthy research, to locate BOI
divisional headquarters in San Francisco in the period; no one in the Bureau
seemed to know the answer to that particular question, not in the San Francisco
office, nor in the Washington office. I encountered similar difficulties when,
because I was introducing a character from the British Consulate in San
Francisco in the same novel for the first time, I could find no one with the San
Francisco Consulate, nor with the British Embassy in Washington D.C., who knew
where the Consulate was in the time period. The Foreign Office’s records in
London had no record of the Consulate’s address in San Francisco, although it
did mention the name of the Consul General. I was able to find his residential
address in a 1930 telephone directory, but no listing in it for the Consulate
itself.  
While
writing the next novel of that series, A
Crimson Overture
, which deals with Soviet spies and fellow travelers in
the American and British governments, I encountered fewer research problems. Much
of it was already under my belt because of cross-references between Nazis and
Communists. There was far more information available vis-à-vis the Bureau’s
activities with Communist infiltration of our government in the period 1930.
Finally,
while assembling information about the prominence of Islam in the same period
for The
Black Stone,
I learned that the BOI was relatively ignorant of Islam
and of Middle East politics and the turmoil there. The Bureau was focused on a
rise in domestic crimes because of the Depression and the shattering
consequences of the stock market crash, and was splitting its manpower between
dealing with genuine crime and enforcing Prohibition.
And
now the FBI has become only relatively ignorant of Islam again. And the left is
so confident in its dramatization of the corrupting influence of power in the
second season of “House of Cards” that it depicted the FBI as an
instrument of that power, by actively conspiring against and entrapping a
reporter in a non-existent cyber-terrorism plot. The newspaper reporter was
pursuing evidence behind the murders of a U.S. representative, and then of a
freelance reporter who was close to the truth about who murdered the
congressman.
Here
is a brief account
of the Bureau’s post-1920s growing role.
During the early and mid-1930s,
several crucial decisions solidified the Bureau’s position as the nation’s
premier law enforcement agency. Responding to the kidnapping of the Lindbergh
baby in 1932, Congress passed a federal kidnapping statute. Then, in May and
June 1934, with gangsters like John Dillinger evading capture by crossing over
state lines, it passed a number of federal crime laws that significantly
enhanced the Bureau’s jurisdiction. In the wake of the Kansas City Massacre,
Congress also gave Bureau agents statutory authority to carry guns and make
arrests.
The Bureau of Investigation was
renamed the United States Bureau of Investigation on July 1, 1932. Then,
beginning July 1, 1933, the Department of Justice experimented for almost two
years with a Division of Investigation that included the Bureau of Prohibition.
Public confusion between Bureau of Investigation special agents and Prohibition
agents led to a permanent name change in 1935 for the agency composed of
Department of Justice’s investigators: the Federal Bureau of Investigation was
thus born.
The
Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)
has been the point man in a campaign to eviscerate the ability of the U.S.
military, the Bureau and other law enforcement entities to detect and foil
Islamic terrorism (or jihad) in the
United States. At the behest of CAIR, which accused the Bureau (and other law
enforcement entities) of being complicit or encouraging Islamophobia in its
training materials, and under pressure from President Barack Obama and the
Department of Justice, the Bureau donned politically correct blinders which
virtually excluded Islam from being an active threat to American lives and the
security of the country. USA
TODAY
in February 2012 reprinted a story from the Detroit Free Press,
“FBI ditches training materials criticized as anti-Muslim”:
After complaints from some Muslim
and Arab-American groups, the FBI has pulled more than 700 documents and 300
presentations that stereotyped Islam or were factually inaccurate, an FBI
spokesman said. The federal agency also intends in coming weeks to roll out
plans on how it will vet training materials.
FBI Director Robert Mueller
announced the agency had pulled the documents at a meeting two weeks ago with
advocacy groups. “The steps taken by the FBI … are certainly
welcomed,” Abed Ayoub, the national director of the American-Arab
Anti-Discrimination Committee
, said Friday.
How
does one “stereotype” Muslims who subscribe to an ideology that calls
for turning the U.S. into an Islamic republic and its non-Muslim citizens into jizya-paying dhimmis? How would one “stereotype” Nazis, or Communists,
except to focus on the political ends of an ideology that employs force and
extortion to attain political power over a nation?
Not
content with having forced the Bureau into submission, CAIR and its allies have
also gone after local law enforcement departments. CAIR announced on February
14th 2014:
A prominent national Muslim civil
rights and advocacy organization today called on the Culpeper County Sheriff’s
Department in Virginia to drop notorious anti-Muslim conspiracy theorist John
Guandolo, who is scheduled to offer a three-day program later this month on
“Jihadi Networks in America.
“In a letter to the sheriff
delivered today, Corey Saylor, director of the Washington-based Council on
American-Islamic Relations’ (CAIR) Department to Monitor and Combat
Islamophobia, wrote in part: “Mr. Guandolo has a lengthy record of
anti-Muslim extremism and unprofessional behavior. His views on Islam are the
equivalent of historical anti-Catholic and anti-Semitic falsehoods. Guandolo offers
only his own prejudiced and inaccurate conspiratorial views, not solid
counterterrorism training.”
 
As noted by the Southern Poverty
law Center (SPLC), Guandolo is “a disreputable character, who regularly
attacks the U.S. government, claims that the director of the Central
Intelligence Agency is a secret Muslim agent for the Saudi government and says
that American Muslims ‘do not have a First Amendment right to do
anything.'”
It
was a Wired writer, Spencer
Ackerman
, who on September 14th 2011, wrote a lengthy report
that “exposed” the FBI’s “anti-Muslim” training materials that
added fuel to the fire.
The FBI is teaching its
counterterrorism agents that “main stream” [sic] American Muslims are likely to
be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a “cult leader”; and
that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a “funding
mechanism for combat.”
At the Bureau’s training ground
in Quantico, Virginia, agents are shown a chart contending that the more
“devout” a Muslim, the more likely he is to be “violent.” Those destructive
tendencies cannot be reversed, an FBI instructional presentation adds: “Any war
against non-believers is justified” under Muslim law; a “moderating process
cannot happen if the Koran continues to be regarded as the unalterable word of
Allah.”
Ackerman
provided sixteen
pages
of PDF images of slides from an FBI presentation on Islam. These
pages feature such subjects as “Military Considerations,”
“Strategic Themes and Drivers in Islamic Law (Sharia)”, the
“Doctrinal Basis for Jihad,” and “Chart Violence and Adherence
to Torah, Bible and Koran.” Nothing in those slides contradicts what is
known about Islam.
Ackerman’s
article was the lit rag on the Molotov cocktail that was tossed by Obama, the
DOJ, and CAIR into the Bureau’s counterterrorism training courses.  In fact, comparing the Power Point bullet
points in the training materials with what is known about Islam, its 1,400-year
history, and especially about the Musim Brotherhood and its allied
organizations such as the ISNA, the ICNA, and MSA, it seemed that the Bureau
had correctly identified Islam for what it is: a totalitarian ideology.
Ackerman
wrote about the “damning” course materials with a gasp of
indignation, overlooking the fact that the materials spoke the truth:
The FBI is teaching its
counterterrorism agents that “main stream” [sic] American Muslims are likely to
be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a “cult leader”; and
that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a “funding
mechanism for combat….”
“There may not be a ‘radical’
threat as much as it is simply a normal assertion of the orthodox ideology,”
one FBI presentation notes. “The strategic themes animating these Islamic
values are not fringe; they are main stream.”
Moral:
Reading the Aristotelian rule that “A is A” is no guarantee that a
person will grasp that A cannot be A and non-A at the same time. If one were
able to introduce Ackerman to syphilis-ridden Al Capone as a murdering mobster,
he would immediately think that Capone was a persecuted and stereotyped
Italian-American, whose syphilis was caused by cultural stress, and call for
the FBI to get its mind right.
We
can actually thank Ackerman for publishing the redacted and discarded FBI Power
Point slides, for they reveal that before the FBI went soft on Islam, it was on
the right track in treating Islam as the enemy ideology it is. Readers are
invited to examine the slides and reach their own conclusions about whether or
not they reflect the true character of Islam. William Gawthrop, who presented
the slide program and has subsequently lectured
on the nature of Islamic jihad, has been vindicated by the scholarship of Robert Spencer, Steve
Emerson
, Ayaan
Hirsi Ali
, and a host of other authorities on Islam.
Daniel
Greenfield, on his Sultan Knish page, wrote an insightful column, “One
Election Away from Losing Our Freedom
,” whose thesis is that once a
totalitarian program, no matter how innocuous, is introduced into the politics
of a free country, it will proceed to corrupt the freedom-based politics until
the government is so compromised, there is little recourse to correct the
problem and purge the totalitarian elements from the government.
As
though acting on cue, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which has
the power to license TV and radio stations, has proposed that it conduct a
study of how broadcast and print newsrooms choose and handle their news stories.
The Wall
Street Journal
reported on February 10th:
Last May the FCC proposed an
initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country.
With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN,
the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station
owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia,
S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.
The purpose of the CIN, according
to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters
about “the process by which stories are selected” and how often
stations cover “critical information needs,” along with
“perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to
underserved populations.”
How does the FCC plan to dig up
all that information? First, the agency selected eight categories of
“critical information” such as the “environment” and
“economic opportunities,” that it believes local newscasters should
cover. It plans to ask station managers, news directors, journalists,
television anchors and on-air reporters to tell the government about their
“news philosophy” and how the station ensures that the community gets
critical information.
What
will the FCC do with that information? Obviously, bring pressure to bear on broadcasters
and publications to toe a preferred and politically correct line to better
serve the “critical information needs” of the political elite and its
cronies in the private sphere (Solyndra really didn’t need all that bad press,
did it? Nor Barack Obama’s many expensive taxpayer-paid vacations). The irony
of the Wall Street Journal article is that it was penned by a dissenting FCC
commissioner, Ajit Pai.
Greenfield,
in his “One Election Away” column, observed that:
When a political system becomes
polarized between the forces of freedom and the forces of totalitarianism, then
the forces of freedom have to win every single election. Meanwhile the
totalitarians only have to win one election and then spend the rest of time
reconstructing civic institutions, mobilizing thugs and making it structurally
impossible for the other side to compete….
Even if Republicans were to win
the White House and dominate the House and the Senate, they would still face a
totalitarian entity whose judges would make laws, whose media would subvert
democracy, whose educational institutions and entertainment industry would
reprogram the people and whose bureaucracy would undermine any decision that it
did not like….
Totalitarians politicize
everything. And that really means everything from the food you eat to the books
you read to the way you heat your home and drive to work. Individually we can
all make choices that neutralize the politicization even in matters as simple
as choosing the movies we watch or leaving products with environmentalist tripe
on the packaging on the shelf….
Elections alone will not defeat
the left. Totalitarian movements aren’t defeated at the voting booth, but in
the hearts of men and women. And if their grip on power continues, then the
scenes of violence and terror that we see on the evening news [e.g., in the
Ukraine, Venezuela, Egypt] will come to our streets and cities.
Truer
words have rarely been spoken.
Greenfield’s
argument could also be couched in these terms: A legitimate law-enforcement
agency such as the FBI, charged with pursuing and apprehending genuine,
rights-violating criminals, can become encrusted with the same poisonous
statist assumptions and premises as the government it serves. As a statist
government expands its powers, so eventually must the FBI until it becomes a
feared threat to one’s freedom, and not a protector of it. And, in our unique
circumstance, if our government becomes corrupt enough to side with this
country’s enemies, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, it must impose that policy
on all law-enforcement agencies and entities, including the courts.
The
FBI has reached a point in its history and functions that it must knuckle under
the liberal/left/Marxist perception of criminality, a definition of criminality
which exempts genuine criminals by excluding their ideology from official
approbation, and treat the ideology’s victims as the true criminals. Consciously,
or by osmosis, the FBI has adopted those same intrusive, oppressive and
totalitarian policies.
Yes,
the country is politically and philosophically polarized, between those who
value their freedom and those who, no matter how innocuous or petty or
grandiose their agenda, wish to extinguish that freedom.
We
have reached the point that we fear the FBI knocking on our doors. The FBI,
together with the DHS and the DOJ, is gradually becoming, not a
counterterrorism shield, but an instrument of counter-freedom.

Fearless Speech vs. “Hate Speech”

I
usually do not pay attention to news about biblical movies. The Bible has been
a subject of film
for well over a century, logging in literally hundreds
of titles. Although filmmakers know there is a wealth of stories to lift from
the Bible, the ones that make it to the big screen are relatively few. The only
difference between them lies in the progress of special effects, winding up
today with computer generated images to create miracles and swell the sizes of
the crowds and to add other technological icing. If you’ve seen one Ten Commandments or Ben Hur or The Robe,
you’ve seen them all.
When
Hollywood runs out of new takes on zombie plagues, alien invasions, capitalist
conspiracies to take over the world, and catastrophic “climate
changes” that dehydrate or drown the globe, there are always Red Seas to
part, waters to walk on, and loaves and fishes to multiply. Jesus himself has
undergone a number of make-overs during the film industry’s century-plus
history, from handsome
hunks
preaching love on the hill to crowds of extras to a rockin’ Super
Star
.”
Anyone
for Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson as Moses?
Or as Mohammad? After all, we have Russell Crowe gallomping around as a pious
but Ark-ready Noah.
A
character in “House of Cards,” Secretary of State Catherine
Durant
, played by Jayne Atkinson, too strongly resembles former Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton. I think that was intentional. Durant is a frumpy and
dumpy white-haired Southern gal, as well, and is Frank Underwood’s policy
poodle, ready to tailor her diplomatic spiel to Underwood’s. Will Hillary’s
publicity agent protest the characterization? Likely not; it’s advisable not to
call attention to the similarities between Hillary and Durant when a real life,
alleged candidate is already having image and truth problems.
But
suppose handsome George Clooney was picked to portray former president Bill
Clinton in some improbable “docudrama”? Would his publicist crank out
a protest? Absolutely not, not even if Bill Clinton as president were depicted
espousing free market principles, siding with the Serbs, nailing bin Laden on
the first try, and keeping his roaming hands off of his interns’ tushes.
But
all it takes is someone’s whisper to get the ball rolling to a politically correctness-governed
scandal, and the media, for lack of anything else to do, will lap it up and
grow it to tabloid headline size.
For
example, I chanced upon this February 17th story by Jeff Sneider
from MSN:
“Son of God” producers
Mark Burnett and Roma Downey have cast Satan out of their upcoming Biblical
epic about Jesus Christ an individual familiar with the 20th Century
Fox project has told The Wrap.   
“Son of God” is a
reshaped version of last year’s hit History Channel miniseries “The
Bible,” which co-starred Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni as Satan. Burnett and
Downey came under fire last year because Ouazanni bears a striking resemblance
to President Barack Obama, though the producers said at the time that the
casting controversy was unintentional and merely coincidental.
The
charge was made last year that the actor too resembled Obama. Tim Molloy of The
Wrap
reported:
“Someone made a comment that
the actor who played the devil vaguely resembled our president, and suddenly
the media went nuts,” Downey said in a statement Monday. “The next
day, when I was sure everyone would only be talking about Jesus, they were
talking about Satan instead. For our movie, ‘Son of God,’ I wanted all of the
focus to be on Jesus. I want his name to be on the lips of everyone who sees
this movie, so we cast Satan out. It gives me great pleasure to tell you that
the devil is on the cutting room floor.”
20th Century Fox will release
“Son of God” on Feb. 28. The 10-hour miniseries has been pared down
to two hours, which meant sacrificing Satan’s scenes to focus on Jesus.
Coincidence
or not, Burnett and Downey caved. They erred on the side of caution – and fear. After all, this is the kind of
meat that race card players like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson dine on. And who
would want to be their main entrée? It
was more than Satan that was left on the cutting room floor. It was the freedom
to express one’s opinion about Barack Obama.
But
the incident points up to another symptom of the semi-totalitarian malaise that
has descended on the country over the last fifteen or so years: a worry that
one might offend some individual or group with how that individual or group is
depicted publically. Islamic touchiness over images of Mohammad is now old hat.
Now it’s political touchiness, sensibility, and easily offended men with
hemophilic souls from virtually every realm.
Fortunately
for modern filmmakers, the dead can’t be bruised and return to lodge a protest.
There have been almost as many movies made about Abraham
Lincoln
as about Christ; nearly all of them feature an actor who resembled
the man. I have never seen an actor who did justice to Washington. In the most
recent TV film, “John
Adams
,” the actor who played the first president looked as though his
face had been injected with Botox. Oft times the look of an historic person is
right, but the characterization is off. Ralph
Bellamy’s
FDR
was simply too saccharine in “Sunrise at Campobello.” Given
FDR’s antisemitism, welfare statism, and fighting WWII on Josef Stalin’s terms,
he ought to have been depicted as
Satan, polio or no polio.
And
are you ready to accept Leonard DiCaprio as the Uber Progressive President Woodrow
Wilson
?
Barack
Obama has been caricatured countless times in political cartoons (and in Halloween
masks
), in the U.S. and around the world. But, for some reason, political
cartoonists have rarely provoked the ire of the White House. And it usually
isn’t the White House that objects, but a politically correct mentality
offended by an uncomplimentary depiction of Obama and who dutifully reports it
to the PC police in the news media. Political caricaturing, because it is such
an individual art, is as sacrosanct as other forms of political speech ought to
be. The overwhelming majority of political cartoons of Obama are demonstrably unflattering.
The
unintentional depiction of Obama as Satan (or of Satan as Obama), or as a
gauche, big-eared goofball in a political cartoon is a freedom of speech issue.
Technically, if we accept as proper a government’s definition of “hate
speech,” virtually every political cartoonist is guilty of committing
“hate speech.” Should they be thrown face-down to the floor,
handcuffed, and led away by federal speech-SWATTERs while men in black tear
apart their studios looking for more incriminating evidence of hate speech?
What
is “hate speech”? The American Bar Association defines it as:
Hate speech is speech that
offends, threatens, or insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national
origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits.
The
emphasis is on groups, not individuals, but because Barack Obama is
“black,” any derogatory remark about or depiction of him could easily
be construed as “hate speech” directed at blacks. Professor Stephen
Brooks of the University of Windsor, Canada, had this to say about the alleged
ubiquity of hate
speech laws
in the U.S.:
Virtually all state legislatures
have passed hate crime laws of one sort or another, the most common sort being
that which imposes additional punishment for hate-motivated criminal acts.  Under Title 28, Section 994 of the United
States Criminal Code, hate crime is defined as “crime that is motivated by the
actual or perceived race, colour, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender,
disability, or sexual orientation of any person.” In addition, under the Hate
Crimes Statistics Act of 1990, the federal government maintains a database of
crimes that conform to the above definition. 
Neither Congress nor the states have
enacted hate speech/propaganda laws that specifically target speech.  State laws cover actual intimidation,
harassment, assault, and breach of the peace where hatred toward the members of
a group is shown to have been a contributing factor. California’s hate law,
section 422.6 of the state penal code, specifically declares that, “no person
shall be convicted of [a hate crime] based upon speech alone, except upon a
showing that the speech itself threatened violence against a specific person or
group of persons and that the defendant had the apparent ability to carry out
the threat.”  There are obvious echoes of
both the fighting words and imminent danger tests in this provision
of California law.
Could
the depiction of Obama as Satan in the “Son of God” film be described
as “hate speech”? Possibly, if Burnett and Downey “hate”
Obama. But, why would their hatred be punishable? As with political cartoons,
the portrayal of Obama as Satan could not be treated as “slander,”
“libel,” or even a defamation of character. If that is what Burnett
and Downey originally thought of Obama, why should that be of concern to the
government? Why should anyone who is not
Obama take exception to it? What business would it be of anyone’s but Obama’s? Obama
has proven to be not as thin-skinned as many of his admirers and supporters. He’s
taken as many caricatured hits as any other president in the last fifty years.
USA
Today ran a Missouri TV station’s report on the rodeo
clown
who wore an Obama mask and was subsequently banned from all Missouri
rodeo events. The ban was a consequence of “public opinion,” and not decreed
by any “hate speech” law. However, the report also shows the clown in
the mask. Why would the station or any other news media report that showed the
clown in the mask not bring down the
approbation of the public (and the tacit approval of state lawmakers)? After
all, in order to communicate the issue, the object of the approbation had to be
depicted, which meant showing Obama as a hee-haw cowboy. Why wouldn’t a TV
station not be held to the same
measure as the “Son of God” filmmakers, or any other individuals? Why
was that one station so fearless?
Because,
in that one instance, it was Obama who was being mocked, and, in real life, not
in political cartoons, that is verboten.
There is nothing to fear from a
tyrant if one is lavishing praise on him or defending him from real-life detractors.
To the liberal media, lengthy arguments in defense of the First Amendment are
abstract and abstruse and don’t reach the public. Actions taken in expressing
one’s First Amendment rights, however, are perceived as threats and potential
causes of unrest and violence and an invitation to worshippers of Progressivism
to plant their own burning crosses on one’s front lawn.
Further,
the rodeo clown’s mockery of Obama was, by implication, perceived as mockery of
his political agenda and that of the Progressives.
Had
the station attempted to report the incident without showing the reason for the uproar, it could
communicate nothing, not even if it settled for showing the masked clown in a
blur of digital pixels, as many stations did when reporting the Mohammad
cartoon episodes. No one can get upset over the sight of anything reduced to
obliterating fuzziness (except Muslims – and this qualification could be treated as “hate speech,” too).
People would ask: What’s the fuss about?
It
is the fear of reprisals by individuals
and groups that introduces self-censorship into the minds of a nation’s
citizens and prepares them for blatant censorship. And a statist government will
only be too glad to oblige those groups with statutory censorship to preserve
the “public good.” It was fear
that caused newspapers and even book publishers from reprinting the Mohammad
cartoons.
It
will be fear – and not immediately any
government censorship – that will allow individuals and groups to intimidate Americans
into refraining from calling Barack Obama the very real and very visible collectivist
Satan he actually is.
One
thing that will save the country from dictatorship will be for Americans to
exercise their First Amendment right to depict Obama or any other politician as
the devils they are.

House of Cards: A Post-Mortem

Imagine,
for a moment, this highly improbable event: President Barack Obama comes clean
for the first time to the American people, without the benefit of a single
teleprompter. He schedules a special televised address to the nation, with the
White House Press Corps, the press at large, the Congress, and an audience of
foreign dignitaries and representatives from all the collusive special
interests and lobbies that have a line into the Oval Office. He says:
I am here to confess, without
shame or reservation, that I am a power-lusting scumbag. I admit that I hate
this country and wish to see it reduced to penury. I used every trick in the
book to clinch the White House. I don’t mind that I’m the tool of others who
hate this country and I will continue to be their proxy in malice. I am a
Marxist who has stepped on and throttled others’ ambitions, even when those
others shared my contempt for this country and, like me, regarded it as their
pie to eat. I am willing to commit treason. I have worked to overthrow this
country’s government by fair means and foul. I have never been interested in
the welfare, security or happiness of any American, not even of my supporters
and admirers. I’ve thrown them under the bus the moment they lose value to me,
and will not hesitate to do it again. My sole aim has always been to acquire
power.
In reference to Kevin Spacey’s
brilliant TV series, “House of Cards,” my own Doug Stampers have been
Bill Ayers, David Axelrod, and Rahm Emanuel and his
brothers
and an ever-changing host of deputies of this and that. Doug
Stamper, as you may recall, was the aide who committed crimes for Frank
Underwood when Underwood was too busy to commit them himself. But Frank
Underwood is my role model, and was even before anyone ever invented him. The
staircase he ascended was one of piles of bodies and careers. “People
stack so well,” to quote my mentor. Love it. From here on in, folks, I
won’t lie to you. It won’t be necessary. You know what I am and what I’ll do. I
won’t bother anymore with lies or subterfuge or double-talk. There’s class
logic, and proletarian logic, and Marxist logic – and there’s my logic. None of those twains will ever
meet. And when I’m gone, I’ll be haunting you for the rest of your lives.
So, good night, and God damn
America.
Such
a speech would be paradoxical. Why Kevin Spacey (the moving spirit behind the
American “House of Cards”), a career Democrat dedicated to the
Democratic Party’s totalitarian or “Progressive” agenda,  would invest so much effort in a TV series
that can only contribute to the public damnation of his Party and its political
philosophy, is a paradox. I briefly posed that enquiry in “House
of Cards: A Tale of Pain-Worshipping Killers
.”
The
logical production would have been one that dramatized a Republican conspiracy
to seize the White House by finessing the downfall of a Democratic president,
as Kevin Spacey’s character, Frank Underwood does at the end of Season 2, and
to assume the office of president. He accomplishes that by inflicting much pain
on Garrett Walker, a fellow Democrat, so much pain that Walker resigns rather
than undergo impeachment for crimes Spacey and his George Soros-like
co-conspirator, Raymond Tusk (the billionaire industrialist) actually
committed. And perhaps that will be the logical progression we will see in Season
3
of “House of Cards.”
But,
that wasn’t the story line in Seasons 1 and 2. Go figure.
Winston Churchill said
in a radio address in 1939:
“I cannot forecast to you
the action of Russia. It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma;
but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” 
I
suggested that it was the smug nihilism of Spacey and his co-producers and
writers that could explain an act of self-destruction. Perhaps that is the
answer to the riddle, swathed in a mystery, inside the enigma. But, will
“House of Cards” prove to be Obama’s winding sheet, as well as the
Democrats’?
Perhaps
Spacey and his ilk, including Barack Obama, can afford to indulge in the smug, smirking,
nihilistic hubris they express so well because they know that there is no
alternative to them in the Republicans. Which there really isn’t. More’s the
pity.
Spacey,
being interviewed on ABC’s
“This Week
” by George Stephanopoulos (who plays himself twice in
the series) on February 16th, soon after “House of Cards:
Season 2” debuted, opined that one reason “House of Cards” is
striking a chord in Americans is that they want a Congress “that gets
things done.”
Perhaps
Spacey and Stephanopoulos are tone-deaf, and the chord they hear is just the
opposite: Americans don’t want a “very effective Congress that gets things
done,” especially if those things are done
to them and the country
. Painfully.
Josef
Stalin is reputed to have first said,
“You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” Or heads. Or
spirits. Or lives. And the question is: For whose breakfast are the eggs being
broken?
Some
pundits have called “House of Cards” a satire. Others refer to Frank
Underwood as a “corrupt congressman.” But “House of Cards”
isn’t satire, and Underwood isn’t merely “corrupt.” To call an
individual corrupt implies that he
has betrayed his principles or violated his oath of office. Underwood, as
depicted by Spacey, is not presented as an individual who ever had principles
or anything to betray. Men without values cannot betray values they never had. Frank
Underwood is not corrupt. He was born an incubus, and will remain one to his
dying day.
Excuse
my failing extrospective skills, but the paradox still obsesses me. Is
“House of Cards” an exercise in self-loathing, or self-hatred?
Self-loathing, I’ve read, is regarded in some realms as a sign of adult
maturity. As an antonym of pride, it
is an anti-virtue.
One
thing is certain: A cinematic product like “House of Cards” is
reflective of the general sense of self-loathing thrust upon and eating away at
the West by anti-Western philosophers and their compliant mouthpieces, who are mostly
left-wing academics, other intellectuals, the vast majority of the news media,  and politicians. It has “trickled
down” from 18th and 19th century philosophers,
beginning, as far as I can see, with Immanuel Kant.
Ayn
Rand, the novelist/philosopher, could solve such as paradox as the
self-denigrating nature of “House of Cards” and note that:
To the extent to which a man is
rational, life is the premise directing his actions. To the extent to which he
is irrational, the premise directing his actions is
death
.*
The
whole of Frank Underwood’s character is devoted to the irrational, and the
irrationality he practices necessitates inflicting pain to acquire political
power. He doesn’t actually want to live; but neither does he want anyone else
to survive his death-wish, either.
That is nihilism.

*The
Virtue of Selfishness
, by Ayn Rand. 1964. New York: Signet. P. 25.

House of Cards: A Tale of Pain-Worshipping Killers

I
reviewed Season 1 of “House of Cards” a year ago, in “House
of Cards: An American Macbeth
.” and in “House
of Cards: Bewitched by Power
.” What follows is a review of Seasons 1 and 2.
Virtually
all of Executive Producer Kevin Spacey’s
films
are explicitly anti-capitalist, or vehicles of nihilism, or are
overly done instances of cynical “slices of life as it really
is.”  Spacey is a dedicated
Democrat. He worked for Jimmy
Carter’s campaign
, was a friend of Ted Kennedy, is friends with Bill
Clinton
, endorses Obamacare, and curses the Republicans for opposing President
Barack Obama’s legislative agenda – that is, the legislative agenda Obama
wishes to implement by executive orders.
One
of the most significant murder scenes in the first season of “House of
Cards,” Episode 2, occurs when House Majority Whip Frank Underwood (Kevin
Spacey) leaves the House office building and is cautioned by police not to go
near a derelict (Parker
Webb
) who has been handcuffed to a lamppost just outside. The bedraggled,
filthy-looking derelict is raving and shouting as though he were in pain. We
don’t know what he is protesting, we don’t know the nature of his anger. He was
stopped by the police when he tried to enter the building, and began to take
his clothes off. (Minute
44.22
, for those who subscribe to Netflix.) Spoilers ahead.
But
when Underwood confronts him, the derelict stops his raving. In his astonished
expression, it seems he is seeing the face of evil. Underwood says,
“Nobody can hear you. Nobody
cares about you. Nothing will come of this. Why don’t you let these nice
gentlemen take you home?” [The police.]
The
derelict looks pacified. The madness in his eyes recedes, and is replaced
first, by a look of wonder, and then by a look of hopelessness and defeat. He
has been told that whatever he feels or thinks, doesn’t matter. He should just
pack it in and let the “nice gentlemen take him home.”
Underwood
rises and goes to his waiting limousine. He glances back at the derelict with a
look of contempt. End of scene.
I
call it a murder because Underwood has effectively, consciously killed the derelict’s soul.
That
scene also affects me personally. Underwood’s words were approximately what I
heard repeatedly for years about continuing my writing career. Further, if
you’re able to watch that scene, you’ll see that Underwood is addressing you, the viewer, and not just the
derelict. The camera angle is not accidental, and neither is the message. Spacey
frequently addresses the viewer throughout both Seasons. But that particular
address, more than any of the others, is intended to address the viewer.
That
killing was preceded in Episode 1 when Underwood breaks the neck of a neighbor’s
dog that has been struck by a hit-and-run driver. He delivers a brief soliloquy
to the viewer (treating all viewers as superfluous “groundlings” from
Shakespearean times) on “useless pain” before he reaches down and
(off camera) kills the whimpering dog.
There are two kinds of pain. The
sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain. The sort of pain that’s
only suffering. I have no patience for useless things.”
“There,” he says.
“No more pain.”
To
Underwood, the derelict also suffered from “useless pain.” And
in Episode 13, the last of Season 1, Underwood calmly murders a Representative,
Peter Russo, because the man was suffering from “useless pain” – and
also because the man posed a threat to his political plans by wanting to expose
the congressman’s machinations to torpedo the nomination of another politician
for Secretary of State, a post Underwood coveted, and was promised by the newly
elected president, but was subsequently denied. Everything Underwood does from
first Episode to last in Season 1 is calculated to achieve vengeance and
acquire more political power.
And
to cause as much useful pain as
possible, by compromising, corrupting, and back-stabbing his vicitms. And by murder.
The
desire to inflict pain is intrinsically linked to the desire to attain an
irrational value, such as power, and especially political power. Power can only
be attained by inflicting pain on others. Underwood regards that pain as useful, as a weapon, as a means to an
end. Power, however, especially political power, is an illusory means of
keeping reality at bay, at arm’s length, in a bid to repeal the law of cause
and effect. Underwood and his ilk in the series are constantly scrambling to
retain their power or acquire more of it over others, over their enemies and
over their allies, as well.
Political
power is a means of postponing the consequences of cultivating a desire for and
a dependency on the irrational. It is a postponement whose burden is thrust on
the innocent; it is they who must bear the pain and the consequences.  Pain, as practiced in the political realm
always – always – entails sacrifice,
a sacrifice of one’s values, or of others. “House of Cards” is an
education in altruism.
On
the other hand, the pursuit of power can be overtly, obviously, blatantly
nihilist in character. This can be observed in the policies enunciated and implemented
by Barack Obama. He is motivated by a hatred of America and a desire to destroy
it.
Cynicism
is merely a passive form of nihilism; nihilism requires the active, conscious
destruction or sacrifice of the good to the evil, to the irrational. Underwood
might be forgiven if he were merely cynical, for a cynic might be persuaded of
the futility of his world-view, of the surrender of his values, which, as a
cynic, he regards as impotent, hubristic illusions, as annoying obstacles which
must be bypassed or crushed. But Underwood’s whole character – evident in
virtually every gesture and expression – is nihilistic at root. When he takes
the Vice Presidential oath of office, he tropes the viewer with the boast that
not “one vote was cast” for him in the nominally elective office:
“Democracy is so
overrated.” 
At
the end of Chapter 24, Season 2 is revealed a ménage
à trois
        in Underwood’s malevolent,
perverted world – founded on pain. The three characters (I won’t
“spoil” things by identifying them) embrace and kiss over one
character’s hand that has been cut by broken glass, and as it is being
bandaged.
Here
are some significant quotations from the dialogue which buttress the theme here
that nihilism, rooted in pain, underlays Seasons 1 and 2 of “House of
Cards.” 
Raymond Tusk (Gerald
McRaney
), a billionaire who has interests in the nuclear power industry,
and whose surname is the expected liberal evocation of a wild boar’s deadly
tusks, with which the animal also digs for roots, to a reporter for the Wall
Street Telegraph (aka, the Wall Street Journal):  “America can be just as dangerous as
Iran.” Meaning that people can be set up and killed by men like him.
Jacqueline Sharpe (Molly Parker),
Majority Whip in the House, to her lover, a lobbyist, Remy Danton (played by
Mahershala Ali): “I like the pain.”
Francis Underwood to Jacqueline
Sharpe, whom he tells that her greatest virtue (or usefulness to him) is her
“ruthless pragmatism.”
Francis Underwood to Doug
Stamper, his chief of staff (Michael Kelly), who has performed numerous
criminal actions on behalf of Underwood, but who has acquired a value (falling
in love with a prostitute who was used to bring down Representative Peter
Russo), something that has impaired his effectiveness and value to Underwood.
Underwood demands that Samper tell him the truth: “I’m sorry you must be
honest.” By series end, his continued pursuit of that value proves to be
his undoing. Up to the very end, his only value was unswervingly
“serving” Underwood; he had no other values. As long as he did Underwood’s
bidding, he was safe. His first excursion into the realm of personal values
proves to be deadly.
Francis Underwood to President
Garrett Walker (Michael Gill) in a private letter: “I am pulling the
trigger myself. We all must make sacrifices to achieve our dreams. But
sometimes we must sacrifice ourselves for the greater good….Sometimes you have
to sacrifice the one for the many.” But Underwood is not talking about his
own suicide, but about Walker’s impending impeachment, finessed by Underwood.
Claire, Underwood’s wife (Robin
Wright), to a person she has used and betrayed, about the shifting sands of
politics: “There were realities we couldn’t ignore.” Claire is a
consummate altruist, having in Season 1 overseen a Bill Gates-type of
organization called the Clean Water Initiative, committed to bring “clean
water” to America and the Third World (a status which Barack Obama seems
to want to reduce America to). She has no self-worth other than the number and
size of wounds and sores she can stick her fingers into. (Novelist/philosopher
Ayn Rand made that observation about career altruists/philanthropists.) Others’
pain makes her “strong.” She, like her husband, has a vested interest
in pain and works to find and exploit it.
None
of the characters, not even the minor ones, express so much as a smidgen of
joy. The only “joy” Underwood and other characters show evidence of
is a congenital smugness in victory over others, as proof that their
“ruthless pragmatism” is efficacious, that pragmatism “works.”
Among
other acts of power and influence, Underwood orchestrates the appointment of a
Hillary Clinton doppelganger in looks and comportment, Catherine Durant (Jayne
Atkiinson), as a pliable Secretary of State whom he can control. Both Spacey
and the creator of “House of Cards,” Beau Willimon, admire Lyndon
B. Johnson
.
Katya
Abazajian of The
Forum
observed:
There’s a still of Frank
Underwood in his office and he’s reading the biography
of Lyndon B. Johnson by Robert Caro
… Naturally the plot is based on the
British series, but the character is [based on] LBJ, and also on Richard III.
Kevin Spacey played Richard III before starting the series, hence the device of
the asides, which is taken from Richard III. But a lot of the character is
based on LBJ. [Screenwriter Beau Willimon said the character is “two
scoops of LBJ with a dash of Richard III and a pinch of Hannibal Lecter.”
]
All
the good or semi-good characters in the series wind up dead, defeated, or
demoralized.
As
mentioned above, Kevin Spacey is an outspoken Democrat dedicated to the welfare
state and to the statism of Barack Obama. His friends have been among the most contemptible
and murderous
political figures, including the late Venezuelan Marxist
dictator, Hugo Chavez. However, all the villains –passive cynics and the active
nihilists alike in both Seasons – are Democrats or are “bipartisan”
in allegiance to no particular ideology. Unless I blinked and missed him, not
one Republican character appears in the series. So Spacey’s choice of political
party to serve as the vehicle in which to dramatize the slimy, conspiracy-governed
bedlam of modern Washington politics is baffling and paradoxical. He cannot
have done the Democrats any favors by depicting them all as power-hungry whores
– which they are in real life and have demonstrated repeatedly. Republicans are
mentioned in the series as well as the Tea Party, in disparaging terms.
The
series has received almost unreserved praise in newspapers and blog sites. John
Dekel of the National
Post
(Canada) noted, almost with envy:
Most, if not all, of these acts
are done at the whim of Underwood, whose daring plan to upend the U.S.
political system begins when he is passed over for the role of Secretary of
State. As the series progresses, he exacts his revenge through a careful chess
match of political players whom he manipulates with a dizzying jumble of
pragmatic efficiency and dirty tricks. All the while, Underwood addresses the
audience — letting the viewer in on his intentions via a direct address style
borrowed from the British series the show is based on.
Underwood is also ruthlessly
efficient — a politician’s most important attribute and one scarce in today’s
Washington, D.C. It’s this duality, the actor argued, that has made House of
Cards
the improbable hit it has become….
Brian
Lowry of Variety
wrote:
As usual, Underwood goes about
the business of charming, cajoling and coercing those he must bend to his will,
while this season’s cast includes a young congresswoman (Molly Parker) who’s no
slouch in that department either. Meanwhile, Underwood’s efforts on issues like
negotiating a sweeping budget deal – in the process bargaining over entitlement
benefits – will certainly resonate among those with a taste for seeing
Washington issues dramatized, albeit with much better-looking players.
Still, as shrewd and ruthless as
Underwood is, it remains something of a drawback that almost nobody else in a
town built on power seems particularly adept at recognizing this or combating
him – including, it should be noted, the sitting president (Michael Gill), who
also has a billionaire confidant (Gerald McRaney, reprising his first-season
role) planting bugs in his ear. When McRaney’s character complains that the
Commander in Chief is “easily manipulated” in a later episode, that almost
doesn’t do his malleability justice.
Last
August, reporting on the success and popularity of “House of Cards,” Todd
Leopold of CNN
asked Beau Willimon, the show’s creator, for his perspective on Frank
Underwood’s immorality and premeditated criminality.
I don’t consider myself to be a
cynic nor the show to be cynical. In fact, Francis Underwood is an optimist.
Where I think people mistake his optimism for cynicism is that he’s
unapologetically self-interested. He believes ideology is a form of weakness —
a form of cowardice. It hems you in in ways that don’t allow you to be
flexible. And inflexibility is anathema to progress.
The problem with Washington right
now is that people are too stuck to their ideology. When you have both parties
who will not find ways to compromise, who won’t meet in the middle, you have
paralysis. It’s the perversion of idealism. I think what Francis has done is
liberate himself from belief systems altogether.
The writer and producer observes
that one of the character’s models is Lyndon Johnson, known for his shrewd
knowledge of the legislative process both as a senator and as president.
Willimon added that “House
of Cards” isn’t necessarily a show about politics, despite its Washington
setting. It’s a show about power — in all its manifestations. “That power
is displayed in our love lives, or our work environments, the way we comport
ourselves when randomness brushes up against us,” he says.
So,
idealism and principles are “perverted,” and if one adheres to them,
in Underwood’s world that is a mark of weakness and cowardice. The best
solution to “progress” is to “liberate” oneself from them.
Then one may progress to power, and “get things done.” And this isn’t
evidence of nihilism?
The
New York Times’ Adam Sternbergh wrote approvingly:
The result of all this near
monastic devotion is a show that — even in a landscape newly populated with
cynical-to-downright-nihilistic political shows, like “Veep” and “Scandal” and
“Homeland” — stands out for its unblinking commitment to a singularly dark
vision of politics. “House of Cards” is a very dark show. And this season, it
gets darker.
A quick recap for the
uninitiated: Francis Underwood, played by Spacey, is a congressman from South
Carolina, who in the series’ premiere is passed over for the post of secretary
of state and thereafter decides to indulge an unfettered and relentless pursuit
of power and revenge. By season’s end (first-season spoilers coming! So many
spoilers
), he has positioned himself to take over the vacant vice presidency;
bedded a young reporter; bribed a hooker; groomed a protégé to run for the
governorship of Pennsylvania; sent that same protégé into a destructive
personal spiral; then finally murdered him, framing it as a suicide. And that’s
just in Season 1.
Emily
Yahr of the Washington Post appropriately quoted Barack Obama’s predictable
enthusiasm for “House of Cards.”
The drama’s success, particularly
in mainstream awards, defied all his expectations, Willimon said. He sounded
equally proud that the show has received “incredibly positive responses” from
people on both sides of the political aisle, from operatives to high-level
staffers.
“There are people who criticize
certain aspects of its authenticity, and they’re right,” Willimon said,
admitting that they exaggerate and condense some elements of D.C. life. “We do
a great deal of research into every story line. . . . More often than not,
people from Washington have said time and time again it’s one of the more
accurate portrayals of Washington.”
The series has one very
high-profile fan: President Obama was recently seen on video during a meeting
with technology executives (including Netflix chief Reed Hastings) asking for a
preview of Season 2. “I wish things were that ruthlessly efficient,” Obama joked
about Spacey’s mischievous character. “I was thinking, ‘Man, this guy’s getting
a lot of stuff done.’ ”
Well,
of course.
Some
observations about the production of “House of Cards.”  Variety
reports it has been optioned for a third season by Netflix. One can’t really
know how long the series can be stretched out, unless, by the end of Season3,
Spacey and his co-producers decide to stick to the original BBC
storyboard
, in which Francis Urquhart (starring Ian Richardson ), the conniving
Chief (Tory) Whip in Parliament, schemes his way up to the office of Prime
Minister, committing murder on the way. He is assassinated at the behest of his
wife at the end during the unveiling of a statue of Margaret Thatcher. Of the
two productions, the BBC version is truer to Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Richard the Third
than is the Netflix version.
The
original plot and thematic template for the Spacey “House of Cards”
was the BBC production of Michael Dobbs’s novel.  Dobbs, once chief-of-staff for Thatcher, wrote
his novel in a fit of pique against Thatcher over policy differences.  This was an act of backstabbing. I so
disliked Dobbs that I named a villain after him in A
Crimson Overture
. The BBC production even broke the rule of civility by
depicting Thatcher’s funeral – while she was still living – and even having
Francis Urquhart sneer at the occasion.
The
opening credits show a Washington D.C. in time-lapse shots from morning until
nightfall, presaging in visual format the theme of the series.
Perhaps
a solution to the paradox is that Spacey and his colleagues in the production
of “House of Cards” are so nihilistic and so sure of the efficacy of
evil that it won’t matter if the Democrats are “vilified” in the
series. They are sure that the Democrats will retain power in Washington. Perhaps
the term “vilification” is inappropriate. As a viewer, I had no
problem accepting the premise that the depictions of the chief characters were
very close to “real life,” except that Spacey’s characters were more
articulate in their dialogue than any Congressman could ever be. That was the
only difference.
The
message of Kevin Spacey’s “House of Cards” to us – the viewers, the
derelicts, the groundlings – is that the real-life Francis Underwoods and their
ilk in politics are in charge, that they set the terms of existence, that it is
hopeless to fight them, futile to try to defeat them, and foolish to even think
of a world in which society is not one of the hunters and the hunted. They
don’t hear us, don’t care about us, and want to convince us that nothing will
come of caring about how anything ought to be. Their world depends on pain and
their ability to inflict it on us. Their world depends on everyone being
reduced to subservient, nihilistic dross.

Spacey and Company, however, forgot one great
historical fact: the American Revolution, which, in their eyes, in their world,
one “liberated from ideology,” is invisible and literally incredible.
We need to remind them of that Revolution.

Obama’s New Thoughtcrime

The
quotations below say it all:
Fox
News
February 11th:
THOUGHT POLICE:
FIRMS MUST SWEAR OBAMACARE NOT A FACTOR IN FIRINGS

Is the latest delay
of ObamaCare regulations politically
motivated
? Consider what administration officials announcing the new exemption
for medium-sized employers had to say about firms that might fire workers to
get under the threshold and avoid hugely expensive new requirements of the law.
Obama officials made clear in a press briefing that firms would not be allowed
to lay off workers to get into the preferred class of those businesses with 50
to 99 employees. How will the feds know what employers were thinking when
hiring and firing? Simple. Firms will be required to certify to the IRS – under
penalty of perjury – that ObamaCare was not a motivating factor in their
staffing decisions. To avoid ObamaCare costs you must swear that you are not
trying to avoid ObamaCare costs. You can duck the law, but only if you promise
not to say so.
As you know, the Regime recently
delayed the implementation of the employer mandate for three years, until
2016.  This means that employers who have a hundred or less employees will
be subject to the mandate…..
The point of this is that this
limit of 100 is a golden opportunity for businesses to, once again, fire people
to get under that number of 100 so that they are eligible for the delay of the
mandate.  So what the Obama Regime has done, is said firms and businesses
are going to be required to certify to the IRS — under penalty of perjury —
that Obamacare was not a motivating factor in their staffing decisions….
You now have to certify to the
IRS, under threat of perjury, that you didn’t do that to avoid Obamacare
costs.  I mean, you can duck the law, but then only if you promise not to
say you’re doing that.  Companies must now swear to the IRS that none of
their layoffs are because of Obamacare.  This must be in writing. It is
made under threat of perjury charges. So what they’re trying to avoid here,
obviously, is laying people off.
But more than that, they don’t
want businesses saying that they’re laying people off or firing people because
of Obamacare.  That’s really what the rub is, and it boils down to they
can do what they want but they better not say that they’re firing people
because of Obamacare.  Now, it’s been running around, going around here, that this is a banana republic.  This is way beyond a
banana republic now.  This is Stalinism. 
Or
Nazism. Picture this: German employers – businesses, industries, universities –
swearing that they didn’t fire or lay off their Jewish employees because of the
Nazi government’s economic policies or campaign against Jews, because that
wouldn’t look good to the international press. They’re required to swear on
paper, under penalty of perjury and a turn in a concentration camp, that Jews
just partied too much and too often came into work drunk or with a debilitating
hangover. They are required to swear on a stack of Mein Kampfs that they never said a bad word about Nazism, the Führer,
or the government’s command economy.
Syndicated
political columnist Charles
Krauthammer
noted that the delay is the stuff “you do in a banana
republic.”
Or
a totalitarian one. Obama seems determined to replace the American eagle emblem
with a long yellow thing that is rotten inside and is turning brown. It could
be a banana or a plantain.
“All
power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” wrote Lord
Acton
. And this is as good a time as any to introduce a longer quotation
that perfectly describes Barack Obama’s policies and administration:
The more restrictions and
compulsions he imposes on other persons, the greater the strain on his own
morality. As his appetite for using force against people increases, he tends
increasingly to surround himself with advisers who also seem to derive a
peculiar pleasure from forcing others to obey their decrees. He appoints
friends and supporters to easy jobs of questionable necessity. If there are not
enough jobs to go around, he creates new ones. In some instances, jobs are sold
to the highest bidder. The hard-earned money of those over whom he rules is
loaned for questionable private endeavors or spent on grandiose public projects
at home and abroad. If there is opposition, an emergency is declared or created
to justify these actions.
That
power can also corrupt its victims, in this instance, employers who will lie or
fudge figures on their tax returns and other federally-required paperwork
connected to Obamacare to avoid snap IRS audits and punishing penalties. How
many employers would risk stating: “I fired these employees because the
costs of retaining them are directly linked to your socialist policies and it
is impossible to sustain those mandated costs and still remain in business.”
Very
few. The new rule will encourage dishonesty and the faking of reality among the
majority of business owners and employers. Call it “trickle-down
corruption.”
The
“certification” rule is a form of censorship and Obama’s brand of thoughtcrime. Telling the truth has been
turned into a liability.

Conservatism: The Alabaster Elephant

I
ended “Religion
vs. The Arts
” by noting that some of the most magnificent art of the
past had religious themes or themes derived from religion (e.g., Michelangelo’s
heroic “David,”
the somber “Pieta,”
and the indescribable Sistine
Chapel
). The subject of that art was man himself, with religion serving as a
vehicle to portray him. I wrote that Romanticism will have come of age when men
no longer need an excuse to portray him as the heroic being he has been, is
today, and can always be, sans
supernatural excuses or nods to religious “first causers.” Just as
the Renaissance used religion as a vehicle to express a new and rational idea
of man, so did the Greeks in imagining their own gods.
Andrew
Klavan’s article, “Crisis in
the Arts
,” was largely a complaint about his fellow conservatives who
limit themselves to fulminating against the Left’s monopoly in the arts; I took
exception to his many religious statements and allusions. In that column, I
discussed why religion is impotent to aid in the regeneration of American
culture and a return (or rediscovery of) to a politics of freedom. In this
column I will discuss why conservatives, in a stricter, narrower or secular
political context, are equally impotent to bring about any measurable or
permanent change in that direction.
But,
no matter how vast the doctrinal literature of any given religion, or how ancient
its roots may be, religion, as a primitive form of philosophy, still belongs to
the caveman’s beliefs that spirits occupied trees and rivers and that illnesses
and diseases were caused by malicious gremlins that needed to be exorcised with
chants, rattles, and poisonous herbal concoctions.
Instead
of being born tabula rasa, statist
and religious dogmas separately contend that man is born with an
obscenity-marred chalkboard that must be erased with faith and force. Once cleansed of a rational epistemology and
inoculated against a rational metaphysics, both wish to write on that sterile
tablet.
A
friend who read my previous column wrote me about the phenomenon of religion
surviving the Enlightenment.
Religionists collide with a brick
wall on the issue of religion. For all the brilliance of some conservatives on
specific issues, it’s as if their minds slam shut the instant they’re
confronted with anything that might threaten to loosen their grip on Yaweh as
the core of their intellects. They react almost convulsively. They can’t think
in anything but straw man concepts like “materialism”,
“consumerism”, believing-in-something-bigger-than-yourself and
the rest of the standard thought-stopping bromides.
For example, there is no way I
could get one of them to understand that my “inner emotional reality”
is the result of my values because to him they have no meaning if not
centered on God. And if big close-knit families are essential to morality and
personal happiness, does he just write off anyone who doesn’t have one? Jews
are the same way and yes, so are “spiritual” liberals.

Having done my master’s thesis on the Eleusinian Mysteries celebration, I
suspect that religion survived in classical Greece at least in part
because it was fun.
My
question is: With what exactly would conservatives replace all of the Left’s
movies, documentaries, and art with? Should conservatives come to power and
evict leftists from the majority, would they replace both National Endowments
(of the Arts and Humanities) with the Christian version of the Saudi religious
police (the Mutaween, which should
rhyme with Halloween, but doesn’t)? Would they hesitate to abolish and defund
the NEA and the NEH? Would they replace Common Core with their own “Core,”
which might include Bible studies? Would they encourage the production of more
biblical epics, or “wholesome,” saccharine dramas and comedies that
don’t denigrate America or American values?
Andrew
Klavan doesn’t know.
Now,
I can depend on Obama lying. I can count on a RINO to be so adept at
flip-flopping on issues that his skills ought to be entered as an Olympic
sport. I always expect a career Democrat to obfuscate, lie, and behave like a
carnival barker or a used car salesman. But I never know what to expect from a
conservative, religious or not. Every time I look at a Republican or a
conservative, religious or not, I see a hollow, alabaster elephant.
What
values do they uphold? Here’s a clue from the February 10th number
of Conservative
HQ
, “Eric Cantor Earns an Opponent – Dave Brat”:
While we like Dave Brat’s
intellectual background (got a business degree from Hope College in Holland,
Michigan, then went to Princeton seminary) and especially the way his religious
background informs his views on economics: “I’ve always found it amazing how we
have the grand swath of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and we lost moral
arguments on (fiscal-policy issues) the major issue of our day,” he told NRO’s
Woodruff, Dave Brat isn’t some egghead professor – he’s the candidate of the
grassroots limited government constitutional conservatives and Tea Party
movement activists.
From
all the evidence at hand, whether we are speaking of religious or non-religious
conservatism, conservatives simply want to “conserve” the status quo,
to reach the same end as the Left’s, but at a slower pace, as though that
policy will not obliterate the country. Conservatism is bankrupt, empty, as
terrified of radical, pro-freedom changes in government as are the Obamas, the
Clintons, and the Bushes. Conservatives express horror at the prospect of the
Tea Party agenda ascending in influence in political discourse and action. Which
is why the Republicans first co-opted it, then diluted it, and finally rebuffed
it. Obama and Company express horror by siccing the IRS and the Justice
Department on their enemies in broad lawyerly “drone strikes” against
individuals and organizations.
Have
the conservatives, or the Republicans, indicated a revolt against Obama’s abuse
of executive power? Not much. The Republicans, even the conservatives among
them, side-lined the Tea Party and any serious challenge to the political
status quo. The Democrats side-swiped them and ran them off the road.
But,
no matter how vast the doctrinal literature of any given religion, or how
ancient its roots may be, religion, as a primitive form of philosophy, still
belongs to the caveman’s beliefs that spirits occupied trees and rivers and
that illnesses and diseases were caused by malicious gremlins that needed to be
exorcised with chants, rattles, and poisonous herbal concoctions.
Instead
of being born tabula rasa, statist
and religious dogmas contend that man is born with an obscenity-marred
chalkboard that must be erased with faith and/or force. 
Another
reader wrote me that a philosopher called faith “an ice pick to the brain.”
Once one defers to feelings (usually fear, or the cowardice that is writ large,
“I’d better believe in God, because I might be wrong about the illogic of
the existence of a supernatural being”), and abandons reason and reality,
one allows the systematic corrosion of one’s mind to establish itself and work
inexorably to its complete destruction. Faith is a cancer that can destroy the
best of minds and lead to death-bed conversions that negate an otherwise spotless
career and life.
The
only reason the Left wants to kill off religion is because it’s a rival for the
unreserved allegiance of “the masses.” Others who believe in freedom
of thought and action do not want to “kill off” religion, but let it
die a natural death.  Those “others”
are also the enemies of the Left. They are not the intrinsic or automatic
enemies of religion.  Religion is a
primitive form of philosophy, but a tenacious one. it’s easier to accept
because it requires only a modicum of adherence. Religion was able to survive
even in classical Greece, the birthplace of reason. There is an element in
religion, faith, which is guaranteed to neutralize even the most rational,
reason-committed individuals.  
The
troubling problem with strictly political conservatives, even when they don’t bring
up faith and family and “traditional” values, is that they assume
that big, managerial government is here to stay, but assure everyone that they’ll
do a better job of it than will intrusive, looting, spendthrift socialists,
liberals, or Democrats.
I
would no more trust Andrew Klavan holding the reins of government than do now Obama
or any other politician at large today.
The
alabaster elephant is empty.

Religion vs. The Arts

A
writer who presumes to champion “good” literature or “good”
art but begins his essay with a supporting quotation from James Joyce is not
someone I can regard seriously as a champion of anything. If any writer has helped
to contribute to the destruction of literature, and, incidentally, of the other
arts, it was James Joyce. See these descriptions of his Ulysses
and Finnegan’s Wake. Joyce’s
intellectual mentor was Immanuel Kant, a philosopher who strived to save
religion from the Enlightenment. To wit:
“I go to encounter for the
millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul
the uncreated conscience of my race.”  James Joyce, Portrait of
the Artist as a Young Man,
1916
Whatever
that means. I think it means that experience is “everything.” But
“experience” tells us nothing about what causes an experience.
Novelist
and screenwriter Andrew Klavan
doesn’t enlighten us about what causes experiences in his February 7th
FrontPage article, “The
Trouble with the Arts
,” which is an excerpt from his pamphlet,
“Crisis in the Arts: Why the Left owns the Culture and How Conservatives
Can Begin to Take It Back.” Klavan has assumed the role of the
conservatives’ doyen in shining armor to battle the artistic and political dragons
of the Left. He has a war plan.
Klavan
marshals two other supporting quotations, one from the poet Percy Bysshe
Shelley (“Poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world”
), and one from the late conservative
publicizer Andrew Breitbart (“Politics is downstream of culture”).
Breitbart
actually had the right thing in mind. He would seem to agree with
novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand who wrote that politics would be the last thing
to change in any nation’s cultural renaissance. For a politics to change, a
change in a nation’s philosophy must occur first. America had a good start,
with the ideas that caused a revolution. But those ideas were implicit and not explicit
enough. The American Revolution was a consequence of men’s revolt against
secular and religious tyranny. But a nation can’t sustain itself indefinitely
on undefined ideas. The Founders were political philosophers, but for a
nation’s political philosophy to endure, it must be complemented and preceded
by a specific view of man and existence. And that can be illustrated in art.
If
its implicit philosophy is that man and reality are malleable and can be made
to conform to a tyrant’s or bureaucrat’s wishes – a philosophy which governs
the policies of the current occupant of the White House, one which actually
began to be implemented long ago in the 19th century, we’re only
just now seeing its consequences and logical end – then whoever in the future
occupies the White House must be raised in a culture whose philosophy is that
man is a being of volitional consciousness and that reality is not an ephemeral,
subjective figment of his imagination, but a rock-solid absolute that can’t be
evaded without incurring dire, life-threatening consequences.
The
adage goes that you can’t cheat an honest man. He can only sue for damages or a
refund or laugh at the man who thinks he has cheated him. Reality, however,
can’t be cheated, either, and its retaliatory options are far more costly. Look
at our society, our nation, today. “Reality,” says Cyrus Skeen of the
stock market crash of 1929 in The
Black Stone
, “has called in its markers.”
I
will argue that quoting Joyce, a Catholic who regarded man as a Freudian monster
governed by his bowel movements and as a beast unable to escape his inherent
wickedness, insignificance, and corruption, was the correct choice for Klavan
to quote. Klavan himself is a Christian convert and his article is rife with
allusions and assertions that man must struggle against his alleged evil nature.
He subscribes to the notion of Original Sin. Much of his fiction oeuvre is Christian in nature. It is of
the “Left
Behind
” genre.
I
would be amused by Klavan’s presumptions if they didn’t reflect on the real
crisis, which, according to Klavan, is that if there is going to be a
regeneration of American values and culture, it will be based on patriotism,
family, and religion. But patriotism isn’t enough to revive a love of country
that clashes with what it is today. Patriotism is an emotion. Family and
religion are not fundamental philosophies on which to ignite a renaissance.
They are banal and so shop-worn that one can see right through them.
“Family” is not a philosophic unit. Religion is merely a primitive
form of philosophy that attempts to explain man and existence. Reviving it
isn’t going to solve any crisis in art. It didn’t in the past, and won’t in the
future. Solving the energy “crisis” is not reinventing the horse or
learning how to make candles.  
Regarding
a definition of art, Klavan first quotes Leo Tolstoy:
“Art is a human activity
consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of certain external
signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that other people
are infected by these feelings and also experience them.”  Leo Tolstoy, What
is Art?
He
then builds on that role of “experience” and on Joyce’s own rambling
grunts about art:
Art is a method of recording the
ineffable inner experience of being human.  There are no words that can
directly describe what it is like to be self-consciously alive….
So the purpose of art is not to
edify or instruct, though it can instruct and often does edify.  The
purpose of art is not even to delight, though, if it’s art, it will delight
because that’s its nature, that’s the way it works.  The purpose of art is
to record and transmit the internal human experience.
Whose
ineffable “internal human experience”? Klavan’s? Yours? Your
next-door neighbor’s? Or is there a boilerplate, one-size-fits-all “human
experience”? Klavan makes no distinction between the experiences of a
Charles Manson and a Cyrano de Bergerac.
By
way of contrast, here’s a philosophical definition of art, together
with a statement of its purpose, courtesy of Ayn Rand:
Art is a selective re-creation of
reality according to an artist’s metaphysical value-judgments. Man’s profound
need of art lies in the fact that his cognitive faculty is conceptual, i.e.,
that he acquires knowledge by means of abstractions, and needs the power to
bring his widest metaphysical abstractions into his immediate, perceptual
awareness. Art fulfills this need: by means of a selective re-creation, it
concretizes man’s fundamental view of himself and of existence. It tells man,
in effect, which aspects of his experience are to be regarded as essential,
significant, important. In this sense, art teaches man how to use his
consciousness. It conditions or stylizes man’s consciousness by conveying to
him a certain way of looking at existence.*
If
your life depended on knowing the definition of art, whose definition would you
count on? Rand’s precise reduction of the term to its essentials, or Klavan’s
woozy flailing about in his gloppish “experiences” in the company of
Tolstoy and Joyce in search of the “meaning of life”?
It’s
the difference between using a Colt Magnum .45 on a target and throwing pebbles
at it.
What
is a metaphysical value judgment? Is existence is to be valued, or feared? Is
life to be lived as an individual, or as a nameless, helpless cog in a
collective? Does one live for oneself, or for the state, the collective, for
the group? How men look at existence ultimately will determine what political
system they choose to live under, or endure, or tolerate.
The
secular version of Original Sin is that man is but a pitiful piece of
protoplasm that ought to be controlled and regulated for the good of the
greater protoplasm, and even extinguished, if necessary, if he gets too big for
his state-mandated britches.  Existence
is a burden, say the secularist elites, and the state’s purpose is to
ameliorate the conditions of life by banishing its attributes and suppressing
men who attempt to make living for anything but the state and the collective
evil and punishable. The religious version of Original Sin is that individuals
are born evil or contemptible or guilty of a wrong committed before they were
even conceived.
Klavan
has a foot in both versions.
If the purpose of culture is to
record and convey the internal human experience in its entirety, it is going to
record and convey a good many things of which we disapprove.  There is
simply no getting around the wickedness, corruption, greed, lust and sheer
troublemaking goofiness lodged in the hearts of the best of us — and therefore,
there is no getting around their entertainment value or their legitimacy as
subjects for art….
But while good and evil are real,
the human heart is not in harmony with them and never has been.  To
paraphrase Saint Paul, we do not always do the good we want to do, and the evil
we don’t want to do, we keep on doing.  Because we are fallen creatures
then, there is, in human life, a price for every choice we make and a
consequence for every action. 
Klavan
ironically chides some Christians for opposing what our culture has produced.
Some evangelical Christians made
the mistake of attacking the delightful Harry Potter novels because Potter is a
wizard and wizardry and magic are against Christian teaching.  But
Potter’s wizardry existed in a completely fantastical world that did not play
by the same rules as the real world.  In the context of that world,
his fictional wizardry not only exemplified excellent moral values, it also
laid the foundations for faith.  The novels are deeply Christian when
judged, not by their individual incidents, but by their overall effect. 
By condemning them, the evangelicals lost a hugely popular teaching tool.
One
must wonder why evangelical Christians draw the line at Harry Potter’s wizardry
and the wizardry integral to Christian faith, i.e., the loaves and fishes,
water into wine, rising from the dead, and other miracles.
Klavan
cites numerous instances of his likes and dislikes in contemporary culture and
the arts. But one of his dislikes stands out as a clue to his
“humane” notion of what constitutes “bad” art:
Conservatives are giddy with
pleasure and relief when a popular novel or film doesn’t thoroughly trash
capitalism or sexual morality or faith in God.  Meanwhile, the left wing
writers of TV shows like Law and Order tear true stories from the
headlines every single week and rewrite them to impose pro-left, anti-right
values on their narratives.  To cite but one example of many:  in
2005, brain damaged Terri Schiavo was judicially starved to death at the
request of her husband while evangelical Christian pro-life groups fought to
save her.  That same year, Law and Order produced a fictional
version of the case in which an evangelical Christian engineered the murder of
a Schiavo-like character’s husband.
I
can decide which is worse between a
left-wing rewrite of the Terry
Schiavo
case that demonizes Christian evangelicals, and Klavan’s complaint which
defends evangelical Christians who fought to save the life of an individual
whose body is alive but whose capacity for thought, values, and independence were
gone. The Law and Order episode was
just another naturalistic, hackneyed screed created by mediocrities, and comes
a literal dime-a-dozen on modern television. Would Klavan have wanted Terry
Shiavo to remain alive? Would there have been such a person as Terry Shiavo
inside the body? Or any person at all? Klavan doesn’t say. But his outrage over
how the leftist writers portrayed the evangelical Christians should serve as a
clue.
Then
there is Klavan’s penchant for what could only be called “hard-boiled religious
naturalism” and how the left-wing critical establishment treats it.
And, of course, when Mel Gibson’s
beautiful The Passion of the Christ ignited a wave of faith-based
excitement among evangelicals… well, what happened to Jesus in that movie was
nothing compared to what left wing critics did to Mel!
Anyone
who has seen Mel Gibson’s opus will concede that it is one of the most gruesome
depictions of the Crucifixion every filmed, and unnecessarily gruesome even for
a religious film. Yet, Klavan calls it “beautiful.”
Because
Klavan eschews the role of philosophy, his campaign to combat the left-wing
artistic establishment in Hollywood, the publishing industry, and the
“social media,” his efforts will come to naught. It will not be
“reclaimed” by conservatives in the current philosophical climate,
not next year, not in twenty years.
The vision that inspired the
American experiment in liberty was a vision created and preserved and handed
down through works of western art and culture.  It was a complex vision of
man as a flawed creature in a moral universe striving toward the freedom for
which he was made…. Uncensored, that voice, intentionally or not, consciously
or not, will always cry out for the very things conservatives most believe
in:  personal independence and lasting love, a good life today and a
better life tomorrow, faith in a God who is no stranger to our suffering and
who will yet become the father of our joy.
Conservatives,
however, are consummate altruists, and it is altruism that is responsible for
the cultural miasma Klavan excoriates. Conservatism shares the same deadly
premises of altruism with the statists, the socialists, and every tyranny that
has ever existed.
On
the other hand, Klavan would do well to heed Ayn Rand’s fundamental
prescription for cultural renewal and “taking back” the country’s
purpose and spirit:
As in the case of an individual,
so in the case of a culture; disasters can be accomplished subconsciously, but
a cure cannot. A cure in both cases requires conscious knowledge, i.e., a
consciously grasped, explicit philosophy.
It is impossible to predict the
time of a philosophical Renaissance. One can only define the road to follow,
not its length. What is certain, however, is that every aspect of Western
culture needs a new code of ethics – a rational
ethics
– as a precondition of rebirth. And, perhaps, no aspect needs it
more desperately than the realm of art.
When reason and philosophy are
reborn, literature will be the first phoenix to rise out of today’s ashes. And,
armed with a code of rational values, aware of its own nature, confident of the
supreme importance of its mission, Romanticism will have come of age.**
Some
of the most magnificent art of the past had religious themes or themes derived
from religion (e.g., Michelangelo’s heroic “David,”
the somber “Pieta,”
and the Sistine
Chapel
). The subject of that art was man himself, with religion serving as
an excuse to portray him. Romanticism will have come of age when men no longer
need an excuse to portray him as the heroic being he has been, is today, and
can always be, sans supernatural
excuses.
*”Art
and Cognition,” (1971) p. 45. The
Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature
. New York: Signet, 1971.
Second Revised Edition, 1975.
**”What
is Romanticism?” p. 122. Op. cit. 
1969

The Black Stone: Some Notes

I
have no skill or aptitude for card games. A child could beat me at poker. I’m not
good at second-guessing. I can’t remember dealt cards, and have trouble
remembering which combination of cards beats another.
But,
if I knew nothing about a particular card game, and had to develop a scene in a
novel that depended on how the game was played and who would win it, I would
immerse myself in a study of the game and its milieu until I had dreams about it.
Finished with the novel, I would retain some knowledge of the game but never
concern myself with it again. The dreams would stop.
One
of the personal delights of reading Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels is a pure
fascination with how Bond could take over a card or roulette game, or could make
crucial observations about the way an enemy played golf. My favorite Bond coup
occurs in Moonraker,
in which he not only detects how a villain is cheating at contract
bridge
, but devises a way to foil the man and cause him to leave the
exclusive men’s club in London in a hurried and angry huff. And it is one of
the few novels in which Bond doesn’t get the girl at the end. That was
Fleming’s dark sense of humor at work.
Cyrus
Skeen, the detective hero in The Black
Stone
, the sixth title in the series, finds himself in a similar situation.
He knows little about Islam, and only a little more about Judaism. He is an
atheist; a man’s religion doesn’t concern him, only his rationality (or lack of
it). He is the wealthy son of lapsed Presbyterians. At one point in the story,
he remarks to a character, “I can
mock Judaism as well as the next religion, but not to a Jew’s face.” Or to
any man’s face, regardless of his religion. He demonstrates this rule in previous
titles in the series. Religion is as far from his premier concerns as is
contract bridge. And that naturally reflects on the author’s concerns, as well.
In 1930, the time period in which the story is set, Islam
was an alien creed few Americans had heard of. It was not regularly thrust into
their consciousnesses as it is today. Nor was Judaism. But it is Islam, and not
Judaism, that poses a peril in the story, just as it does today. Judaism is a
religion; its adherents are not out to conquer or destroy the world. Islam,
however, is more a political doctrine than it is a religion, and its inherent
nature commands its proponents to seek global submission to it as the sole alternative
to death. I have written extensively on this subject in the past, and won’t repeat
any of my arguments here.
Skeen is advised to familiarize himself with Islam. He
undertakes that task. By novel’s end, he has not reached the same conclusions about
it as I have; he does not yet see that it is essentially political. What he
does note is its savagery, particularly where Jews are concerned. Later, he
realizes that the savagery can also be visited on non-Jews. Today, we know that
no one is exempt from the jihadi
agenda, not even dissenting Muslims. Skeen has only a mere handful of victims
of that savagery to observe. We have millions.
In The
Black Stone
, Islam, its iconic and probably mythical prophet, its core
texts, and its practices, are liberally mocked. This would come naturally to
men in Skeen’s time. Political correctness in thought and in speech did not
exist. Fear of offending Muslims was a mindset reserved for our own time. The creed
is too ludicrous for anyone to take seriously. Skeen doesn’t even bother trying
to imagine what Mohammad looked like. He just assumes that Mohammad was the Billy
the Kid or the Clyde and Bonnie Barrow of his day, a brigand and a thief and a killer
spreading “the word” by force, intimidation, and death.
One issue I do raise in the novel, but not to
distraction, is the role of Western governments and Western oil companies in
enabling Islam to become the threat it poses today. Oil companies were fairly
certain that vast oil reserves lay beneath the blood-soaked sands of Arabia
(not yet wholly Saudi) and in Persia, now Iran. Western governments, chiefly British
and French, after World War I, carved up the former Ottoman Empire into utterly
arbitrary Mandates which were later granted the status of sovereign states. Oil
companies sought the aid of Western governments to interpose themselves on
behalf of those companies in negotiations over exploration and drilling concessions
with tribal leaders who were more successful in conquering and/or massacring
their rivals. This is essentially the history of the Saudi
dynasty
that we know today, a family of squatters that thrives on stolen
private property. Persia had a different background and a different history. Under
President Herbert
Hoover
, the U.S.
recognized Saudi Arabia
on May 1st, 1931.
So, I do not focus exclusively on the fatal
pragmatism of Western governments and oil companies, but raise the issue as a tantalizing
clue to our current dilemma. Skeen’s solution to dealing with nomadic
barbarians, had he been faced with the question, would have been to recommend
that the companies drill, drill, drill, and if attacked by Ibn Saud or Hussein
Ali, or any other Arab mobster’s tribe, to call in the Marines. And probably to
plant the America flag on the whole sorry region, as we have on the Moon.
At the end of The
Chameleon
, in which Skeen has discovered and foiled a Nazi Bund, Skeen tells
his wife that “Something wicked this way comes.” In The Black Stone, he runs head on into a
wickedness he could never have before imagined.

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