The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

Month: April 2014

News Media Ambush Cliven Bundy

…and
sucker-punch “conservatives.”
First,
the purpose of this column is neither to confirm nor deny that I agree with
Cliven Bundy’s purported “racist” remarks, as reported in the New
York Times. That is a fabricated issue, and in a court of law would be an objection-rich
leading question. Unlike many politicians and media names who supported Bundy’s
defiance of the Bureau of Land Management’s paramilitary raid on Bundy’s ranch
and the theft and slaughter of many of his cattle, I’m not going to
“distance” myself from the man and what he stands for, which is the
courageous stand he has taken against a looters’ government. There is no good
reason to sneak off and hide in a corner.
No,
the purpose of this column is to castigate all those supporters who turned tail
and beat a hasty retreat in order to placate those who are the true
“racists” of our time: the liberal/left. After all, no one can risk
criticizing any facet of the welfare state or the political establishment
without now being called “racist” by the liberal/left.
Tom
Roten, who interviewed me on his radio
show
on April 25th, observed that it took the New York Times
several days to concoct its “racist” charges, which were insinuated
on its April 23rd article, “A
Defiant Rancher Savors the Audience That Rallied to His Side
,” because
Bundy’s remarks were made and recorded on April 19th.
Rand
Paul, Sean
Hannity
, Greta Van Susteren, and other “conservative” voices –
such as the “Young
Conservative”
site – ought to have known better. They speak often
enough on the subject of how the liberal/left media look for a chance to smear
and denigrate individuals whose ideas go counter to the prevailing received liberal/left
wisdom ,and will stoop to any tactic to accomplish the marginalization or even
elimination of opposing viewpoints. They ought to have been able to spot a
set-up and call it for what it was.
No,
they ran like rabbits. You wonder if they’re as smart as they claim to be.
Instead, they fell for it as well as did Cliven Bundy, but not as innocently. Paul,
Hannity, Van Susteren, and the others have the luxury of crafting their
statements. Bundy’s remarks were rambling, unguarded, and un-crafted, and, in
many respects, ill-chosen. One really wishes one could give him a crash course
on how to deal with the venal news media largely in the government’s pocket as
a poorly paid shill for its collectivist agenda.
Perhaps
the “conservatives” need a refresher course in the slimy tactics of
the news media.
Erik
Wemple of the Washington Post, for example, stuck his tongue out at Hannity in
his April 25th article, “No,
Sean Hannity, you can’t distance yourself from Cliven Bundy
,” and went
juvenile on his readers, effectively snorting, “Nyah, nyah, nyah, nya,
nyah, nyah!”
No, Hannity: You don’t get this
Cliven-Bundy-a-la-carte option. Either you embrace Cliven Bundy in toto or you
reject him.
Despite Hannity’s protestations,
this is all about a man named Cliven Bundy. How many other Western
ranching freeloaders are there who have stiffed the government for two decades
with specious arguments and then rally with gun-toting protesters when the feds
move in to round up his cattle?
Hannity
deserves the snickers, even from a liberal cretin named Erik Wemple.
Look
at it this way: Cliven Bundy is not an intellectual. He is not a political
innovator. As I remarked in the first
of my two Rule
of Reason
columns, Bundy’s views on the BLM and federal power are disparate
and lack rational cohesion. He is an average man attempting to unload the
unarticulated anger that has built up over decades. He went off-topic when he
ought to have stayed on point about what he knows best. Daniel Greenfield (Sultan
Knish
), treated Bundy rather harshly for not realizing that his words could
be deliberately taken out of context and used against him and his cause.
As a private citizen, you can say
anything you like. But once you get people invested in your cause, you have an
obligation to them. Not just to yourself. And failing to recognize that is
selfish behavior.

I wrote last week that there was no reason to expect Bundy to be perfect. The
key players in the Boston Massacre certainly weren’t. But if you’re going to
play a role in a movement, you have to be willing to think about the
consequences of your actions to the people who support you….

And if you find yourself in a position where you have become the image of a
particular cause, stick to that cause instead of venting your thoughts on other
issues because the media landscape is polarized and there are teams searching
through everything you say and have said to spot one sentence they can blow up
into a scandal.
Talk show hosts have gone through
that ring of fire and know how to handle it, though they still make mistakes. A
random person doesn’t. If the issue is property rights, don’t talk about race.
Let someone like Ben Carson do it.
Harsh,
but true advice which Cliven Bundy and his friends should heed. Because otherwise
we get celebratory chortling like this, as reported in another New York Times goal-post
victory dance, from April 24th, “Rancher’s
Views on Race end Supporters Fleeing
,” penned by Lynnette Curtis, and Adam
Nagourney, who incidentally wrote the original New York Times piece that
“exposed” Bundy as a “racist.”
Republican leaders and television
commentators who had rallied to Mr. Bundy’s cause in the days since the Bureau
of Land Management tried to round up his herd and then backed down in the face
of armed opposition denounced him after his racially charged comments were published
online
Wednesday night in The New York Times.
Mr. Bundy reiterated many of
those thoughts at a news conference near his farm here on Thursday. Senator
Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky and a likely presidential candidate in 2016,
who had been one of the most prominent people offering support for Mr. Bundy’s
cause, said Thursday that his remarks on race were “offensive, and I
wholeheartedly disagree with him.”
Commentators on Fox News, which
had championed Mr. Bundy’s cause, also expressed distress at his remarks.
“Let me make this plain: I
condemn what Cliven Bundy said about African-Americans,” Greta Van Susteren of
Fox News said in a headline of a post on her
blog
above a link to the Times article. Her fellow commentator Sean Hannity
reiterated his distress about government overreach — “armed agents,
sharpshooters, snipers, dogs, stun guns” — even as he denounced the leader of
the standoff for his remarks.
“So people that, for the right
reasons, saw this case as government overreach, now are like branded because of
the ignorant, racist, repugnant, despicable comments of Cliven Bundy,” he said
on his radio show Thursday. For his part, Mr. Bundy held the news conference on
Thursday to deal with the uproar his remarks on Saturday had caused, then
repeated those remarks.
So,
without context, without bothering to examine the circumstances, and without questioning
the motives and the purpose of the New York Times in broadcasting Bundy’s faux pas, these leading lights of the
conservative movement echo the “horror” of Bundy’s remarks. Because
Bundy expressed his sentiments in less than judicious terms, his remarks are automatically
“racist, repugnant, and despicable.”
The
motive and purpose of the New York Times – and the Washington
Post
and other mainstream news media silently, implicitly concur – is to
link the man with his ideas, and if the man can be found to have “feet of
clay” – if something unsavory can be found out about him – then that
automatically discredits his ideas and we needn’t pay him any more serious attention.
And the last idea the New York Times wishes to see become popular is that the
federal government is a destructive, insatiable monster. The New York Times is
getting away with its fallacy of distraction – away from the issue of arbitrary
government power, which it has endorsed for decades – coupled with an argumentum ad hominem, a charge against
the man unrelated to his position on a specific subject, but which serves to
bring the man down in the eyes and minds of everyone the New York Times wishes
to dupe.
Mark Steyn wrote some
justifiably acerbic words about the new Bundy vigilantes in his April 25th
column, “How
Now White Cowman
?”
Like everyone else, Gavin McInnes has weighed in on
Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s observations on “the Negro”. Mr.
McInnes concludes:
This
isn’t about some old guy’s views on slavery. It’s about government control.
We’re not saying Bundy is the messiah and we accept him as our personal savior.
We’re saying the government is wrong.
Let’s stipulate that Cliven Bundy is a racist.
Let’s also assume, if only to save time, that he’s Islamophobic, homophobic and
transphobic. So what? Does that make criticizing the Bureau of Land Management
“racist” or “homophobic”?
I’m not quite certain Steyn
actually believes that Bundy is a “racist”; he isn’t clear on that
point, but the point is taken. Let’s concede, for argument’s sake, that Bundy is
a closet racist. And? Is he wrong to defy the government for the right reasons?
No. Steyn observes:
In other words, the purpose of the federal
bureaucracy’s “grazing fee” was never to provide a fair-market value
for the cost to taxpayers of permitting grazing on public land but simply to
drive those cattle off the land, and their owners out of the ranching business.
As a form of coercion, it worked. But it is not a “law” that should
command any respect.
I think it’s absurd and obnoxious that an obscure
and unaccountable government agency should rule an
area the size of France, Germany and Italy combined
. What for? Why should
the 26th largest country on earth (which the Bureau of Land Management is) be
maintained in perpetuity as the world’s biggest nature preserve for the desert
tortoise? The seven-eighths of the United States that isn’t under the iron rod
of the BLM is the Brokest Nation in History: it wouldn’t hurt to have a little
more productive land.
Canada Free Press
also weighs in on the absurdity of the “racist” charges against
Bundy, and offers a double screen video of what Bundy said and what was edited
out of his comments, as does InfoWars.
One interesting angle on
Bundy’s alleged “racism,” one not mentioned by anyone else as far as I
can determine, is the revelation that one of his bodyguards is “black.”
The Daily Mail (London) published this interesting article on April 26th
(today), “Cliven
Bundy’s black bodyguard claims rancher is not racist and he would ‘happily’
take a bullet for him.
Despite a collection of seemingly racist rants about
‘negros,’ slavery and ‘picking cotton,’ not everyone thinks Nevada rancher
Cliven Bundy is a racist, and one of the people defending the one-time
far-right-wing folk hero is one of his bodyguards – who happens to be black.
Jason Bullock has been at Bundy’s side since his
battle with the federal government began heating up in late March. According to
Bullock, the man he’s come to know over the last month is not a racist. In
fact, Bullock says he would take a bullet for Bundy….
Bullock was recently interviewed by CNN and asked,
‘You’re protecting this man and he’s wondering whether African-Americans would
be better off as slaves. How does that strike you?’
‘It doesn’t strike me any kind of way,’ Bullock
answered. ‘This is still the same old Mr. Bundy I met from the first day of all
this happening.’
Bullock says the things Bundy has been saying –
‘wondering’ if ‘negros’ were better off under slavery, and comparing himself to
civil rights hero Rosa Parks, for example – don’t offend him.
‘Mr. Bundy is not a racist. Ever since I’ve been
here he’s treated me with nothing but hospitality,’ Bullock told the reporter.
‘He’s pretty much treated me like his own family.’ He goes on to say that ‘I
would take a bullet for that man, if need be,’ and that he ‘look(s) up to him
just like I do my grandfather.’
The Daily Mail article
goes on to report that Bundy is attempting damage control.
On Friday, he invoked the heroic actions of
Rosa Parks, the civil rights icon who was arrested in 1955 after refusing to
give up her bus seat to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama. Her actions sparked
the Montgomery bus boycott and were a defining moment of the civil rights’
movement. 
On the Bundy Ranch Facebook page on Friday, he
wrote: ‘I am doing the same thing Rosa Parks did – I am standing up against bad
laws which dehumanize us and destroy our freedom. Just like the Minutemen at
Lexington and Concord, we are saying no to an oppressive government which
considers us to be slaves rather than free men. ‘I invite all people in America
to join in our peaceful revolution to regain our freedom. That is how America
was started, and we need to keep that tradition alive.’
Bundy earlier said that if people were offended by
his use of the word ‘negro’ or ‘slave’ then ‘Martin Luther King hasn’t got his
job done yet’.
And that’s as much as I will
say on this subject. The conservatives’ cowardly and timid words and actions in
response to Bundy’s remarks are largely “ignorant, racist, repugnant, and despicable.”
The liberal/left’s words and actions on those remarks, however, are
“repugnant and despicable,” but not so ignorant, while the
liberal/left has an unbroken record of crying “racism” and
“white privilege” the first time anyone utters anything that
contradicts the welfare-statist, “we want all of you, black and white and
whatever else, on the government’s plantation of dependency” agenda. Race
is on the collective mind of the liberal/left.
It was never on Cliven
Bundy’s.

Justice Stevens’s Liberty-Destroying Amendments

The
liberal/left is forever releasing trial balloons to see who shoots at them and
who doesn’t. The multiple interviews of retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul
Stevens upon publication of his new book, Six
Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution,
on April 22nd,
represent one such balloon. I have not yet read the book, but have ordered it
and will review it in a future column. But the lubricious reception of
Stevens’s book and the unrestrained fawning over him by the press is such that I
can’t hold my tongue. So these remarks will focus on the interviews, and not
the book per se.
The
book would not be reviewed, nor Stevens even interviewed, but for the liberty-destroying
amendments he proposes be made to the Constitution. Liberal
“journalists” across the spectrum sidled up to the buffet and feasted
on helpings of the retired liberal, pro-government power justice’s fare of
senile lunacy, washed down with large draughts of Happy Juice.
All
the interviewers treated Stevens as a kind of judicial “guru” whose
“wisdom” must be shown deference and couldn’t be challenged or
questioned without committing a heinous faux
pas
. They asked him leading questions to prompt the answers they wanted to
hear from Stevens. For example, in the video on the NRO
site
, George Stephanopoulos asks Stevens about the five words Stevens would
add to the “amended” Second Amendment: “…the right of the people
to keep and bear arms [when serving in
the militia
] shall not be infringed.”   
The
“militia” meaning the National Guard or virtually any federal SWAT or
armed enforcement entity. It means that the government would have a monopoly on
all weapons.
Stephanopoulos: “Wouldn’t
that take away any limits what a legislature could do to the rights of gun
owners?”
Stevens: “I think that’s
probably right.” [Still of rows of hand guns] “I think that’s what
should be the rule, that it should be legislatures rather than judges who draw
the line on what is permissible
….” (Italics mine)
Stephanopoulos: “Do you
think that….clearly…that was what was intended?”
Stevens: “I do think that
was what was originally intended, because there was a fear among the original
framers that the federal government would be so strong that they might destroy
the state militias. The amendment would merely prevent arguments being made that Congress doesn’t have the power to do
what is in the best public interest
.” [More “scary” images
of weapons; Italics mine]
Stephanopoulos: “But to be
clear, if Congress passed a national ban on individual gun ownership, that
would be constitutional under your amendment?”
Stevens: “I think that’s
right.”
Have
an argument that questions Congress’s power to enforce gun-control? Stow it.
Stevens’s amendment forbids you to make it. Are you against the “public
interest,” or what, you unpatriotic American!
Stevens’s
amendment makes no sense at all. The right to bear arms as a private citizen either is or isn’t “infringed.” If it
is infringed upon, then the only time
you can exercise your “right” is when you’re working for the government
enforcing the government’s will at gunpoint (lawfully or unlawfully). Then,
when the task is completed, you would hand the weapon you used back to the
armorer. You may “bear” the arms, but not own it.  
If
it isn’t infringed upon, then you may
own and “bear arms,” certainly without leave of the authorities, and without
having to serve in any government policing or military force. Period.
And
Stevens’s secret, unspoken thought at that point: Thank you, Mr. Stephanopoulos, for putting those words in my mouth. I
couldn’t have said it better myself.
What an instance of evasion by Stevens!
What an example of prompting by Stephanopoulos! But this is his usual interrogative
habit: acting like a theatrical prompter
cueing Stevens on the right lines.
In
the Framers’ time, state militias were drawn from a population of armed
citizens. Stevens can’t have been ignorant of this fact. What the Framers had
in mind when including that amendment was not only the ability of states to
protect their sovereignty from federal power, but also the ability of private
citizens to protect themselves from federal power, as well. The Framers were
thinking in fundamentals.
Of
course, long ago the states surrendered their sovereignty by becoming addicted –
sometimes at extortionate gunpoint, but too often not – to federal largesse various
forms drawn from a national taxpayer population. States have become submissive and
dependent satrapies of the central federal government.
Richard
Wolf, in his April 21st USA TODAY article, “Former
justice Stevens wants to change the Constitution
,” opens with:
Former Supreme Court justice John
Paul Stevens wants to reduce gun violence, abolish the death penalty, restrict
political campaign spending, limit states’ independence and make Congress more
competitive and less combative. His solution: Amend the Constitution….
“It’s certainly not easy to
get the Constitution amended, and perhaps that’s one flaw in the Constitution
that I don’t mention in the book,” he said during a wide-ranging interview
with USA TODAY in his chambers at the court. Noting his book’s half dozen
proposed amendments, he mused, “Maybe I should have had seven.”
A
seventh amendment to allow easier gutting of the Constitution? Why not? What
Stevens proposes would be a step in the right direction. I mean, the left direction.
Though Stevens proposes precise
language for each proposed amendment, he admits the process is extremely
difficult. It takes two-thirds of both houses of Congress or state legislatures
to propose an amendment and three-fourths of the legislatures to approve it.
The last amendment, blocking Congress from changing its members’ salaries
between elections, passed in 1992.
Wolf
reports:
Among the amendments Stevens
suggests:
•Changing the Second Amendment to
make clear that only a state’s militia, not its citizens, has a constitutional
right to bear arms.
•Changing the Eighth Amendment’s
prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishments” by specifically
including the death penalty.
•Removing from First Amendment
protection any “reasonable limits” on campaign spending enacted by
Congress or the states.
•Requiring that congressional and
state legislative districts be “compact and composed of contiguous
territory” to stop both parties from carving out safe seats.
•Eliminating states’ sovereign
immunity from liability for violating the Constitution or an act of Congress,
which he calls a “manifest injustice.”
•Allowing Congress to require
states to perform federal duties in emergencies, in order to reduce “the
risk of a national catastrophe.”
What
prompted Stevens to write Six Amendments?
It was the December 2012 school
shootings in Newtown, Conn., that focused Stevens’ [sic] attention on a rule that prevents Congress from requiring
states to perform federal duties. The rule had led to holes in a federal
database of gun purchases.
“It’s called the
anti-commandeering rule, which turned out to be the first chapter of a book
that kind of grew like Topsy,” Stevens said. “I thought that maybe
the only way to get rid of the rule is to have a constitutional amendment, and
then it occurred to me … that there really are other provisions of the
Constitution that should be looked at more closely.”
Wolf
concludes his article with a friendly warning:
Among the issues to watch for, [Stevens]
said, are a constitutional right to same-sex marriage (“Sooner or later,
they’ll have to address the question”), gun control (Scalia’s 2008 opinion
protecting handguns in the home won’t be the final word), and government
surveillance programs, which Stevens
defends as constitutional
. [Italics mine]
As
long as the government doesn’t watch Muslims. In Stevens’s mind, anything may be made constitutional – as
long as it has nothing to do with individual rights, the sanctity of property,
and an individual owning his own life, and not the state.
PBS
NEWSHOUR’s Judy Woodruff practically sat at Stevens’s feet during her interview
of Stevens, in “How
retired Supreme Court Justice Stevens would amend the constitution
,” and
prompted Stevens as well as Stephanopoulos had. On campaign finance:
JUDY WOODRUFF: Another controversy you’re
jumping right into is campaign finance. You believe Congress should be able to
put limits on the amount of money candidates spend on their campaigns…
FMR. JUSTICE JOHN PAUL STEVENS: Yes.
JUDY WOODRUFF: … and that the Supreme Court has
made mistakes in several decisions, allowing corporations, labor unions to
advocate and spend money on candidates. Considering all the court has done,
Justice Stevens, to open the door for huge money to pour into American
politics, including the recent McCutcheon
decision, what effect does all this have on American politics?
Judy Woodruff counts to three, and says quietly,
“You’re on!” Stevens answers:
FMR. JUSTICE JOHN PAUL STEVENS: Well, I don’t think it’s a
healthy effect. And I think it’s a change from what the people who direct —
framed our basic government envisioned. For the — as the chief justice said, I
think, in the first sentence of his opinion in the McCutcheon case the other
day, there is nothing more important than participation in electing our
representatives.
But the law that developed in
that case and in a number of other cases involved not electing the
representatives of the people who voted for them, but electing representatives
of — in other jurisdictions where the financing is used. In other words, that
was a case that involved the right of the — of an individual to spend as much
of its money as he wanted to elect representatives of other people. He didn’t
use any of that money to elect his own representatives.
Meaning
that one would not be allowed to donate money to the candidate or advocate of
one’s choice, except in amounts predetermined by the government or the Federal
Election Commission. However, as an outraged Fred Wertheimer notes in his SCOTUS
Blog
:
With its Citizens
United
and McCutcheon decisions, the Supreme Court has turned
our representative system of government into a sandbox for America’s
billionaires and millionaires to play in.
The Court’s decisions have
empowered a new class of American political oligarchs and have come at the
enormous expense of the voices and interests of more than 300 million
Americans.
Cloaked in jurisprudence, the
five Justices who make up a majority on the Supreme Court are imposing their
ideology and politics on the country. In the process, they are issuing radical,
not conservative, opinions.
Meaning
that opinions at odds with the reigning leftist ideology are to be feared;
left-wing billionaires would be free to dominate the “sandbox” with
impunity, as Barack Obama’s donors and backers did in 2008 and 2012. That would
be all right with Wertheimer – and Justice Stevens.
Woodruff
turns to gun control and flashes Stevens her cue cards:
JUDY WOODRUFF: The last area that I want to ask
you about is what this country should do about guns. You would change the
wording of the Second Amendment to the Constitution to say the right of people
to bear arms to own a gun should apply only when serving in the militia. Is it
your ultimate hope that there would be no right to own a gun for self-defense?
FMR. JUSTICE JOHN PAUL STEVENS: Well, it would be my ultimate
hope that legislatures would decide the issues, and not be hampered by
constitutional restrictions, because, clearly, legislators are in a much better
position than judges are to decide what could be permissible in different
contexts.
And the effect of the Second
Amendment as it is now construed is to make federal judges the final arbiters
of gun policy, which is quite, quite wrong, I think, and quite contrary to what
the framers intended when they drafted the Second Amendment, to protect states
from the danger that a strong federal armed force would have been able [sic] to the states of their own
militias.
Finally,
an April 21st, article in the New York Times, by Adam Liptak, who
also interviewed, Stevens, “Justice
Stevens Suggests Solution for ‘Giant Step in the Wrong Direction
,” focuses
on the campaign finance law.
The occasion for our talk was
Justice Stevens’s new book, “Six Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the
Constitution.” One of those amendments would address Citizens United, which he
wrote was “a giant step in the wrong direction.”….
He talked about what he called a
telling flaw in the opening sentence of last month’s big campaign finance
ruling. He filled in some new details about the behind-the-scenes maneuvering
that led to the
Citizens United decision
. And he called for a constitutional amendment to
address what he said was the grave threat to American democracy caused by the
torrent of money in politics.
Last month’s decision in McCutcheon v.
Federal Election Commission
struck down aggregate contribution limits,
allowing rich people to make donations to an unlimited number of federal
candidates.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
started his controlling opinion with a characteristically crisp and stirring
opening sentence: “There is no right more basic in our democracy than the right
to participate in electing our political leaders.”
But that was misleading, Justice
Stevens said. “The first sentence here,” he said, “is not really about what the
case is about.”
Then
what was it about, if not the right of citizens to participle in elections,
regardless of their tax brackets? Well, it was about something else, about not allowing rich
donors
dominate and elections. Rich donors, of course, meaning rich
“conservatives” like the Koch Brothers supporting candidates who
oppose big government. Rich donors and
manipulators like George Soros should be exempt from campaign contribution laws
and the number of candidates they can support in political action committees
(PACs), under the table, and across state lines.
Liptak
writes:
The new amendment would override
the First Amendment and allow Congress and the states to impose “reasonable
limits on the amount of money that candidates for public office, or their
supporters, may spend in election campaigns.”
I asked whether the amendment
would allow the government to prohibit newspapers from spending money to
publish editorials endorsing candidates. He stared at the text of his proposed
amendment for a little while. “The ‘reasonable’ would apply there,” he said,
“or might well be construed to apply there.”
Or perhaps not. His tentative
answer called to mind an exchange at the
first Citizens United argument
, when a government lawyer told the court
that Congress could in theory ban books urging the election of political
candidates.
Justice Stevens said he would not
go that far. “Perhaps you could put a limit on the times of publication or
something,” he said. “You certainly couldn’t totally prohibit writing a book.”
Well,
why not? I’m sure a justice with Stevens’s intellectual acumen could knock together
an argument for prohibiting the publication of books critical of candidates and
their agendas during an election cycle. That, of course, would be censorship.
The
New York Times would howl like a stuck pig were it prohibited from
editorializing about its favorite candidates. Political non-profits, and
competing newspapers of the “conservative” bent, however, must gag themselves
in a censorial “fairness doctrine,” or else feel the weight of the
FEC and the IRS.
Not
to worry. Stevens is a little foggy on how he’d construe “reasonable.”
Note: The occasion of the publication of Stevens’s book is about as trial
balloon as you can get. After all, Stevens, now 94, still had enough energy to
fit in numerous interviews with sympathetic, bedazzled journalists in the space
of two days, doubtless with the cooperation of his publisher.
In
the near future, I will take out my bow and arrow, and, emulating Katniss
Everdeen (a mnemonic device for “Can’t Miss Ever, Dear”?) of The Hunger Games movies, and puncture of
few of the trial balloons in Stevens’s book.
Six
Amendments: How and Why We Should Change the Constitution
, by John Paul Stevens. New York:
Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group, 2014. 192 pp.

Cliven Bundy’s Justifiable Defiance: Part II

At
the end of Part
One
of this column, I asked: Was the law on the government’s side and
not on Cliven Bundy’s? What kind of law is it? And how is it being enforced
throughout the country?
Few
sitting politicians have remarked on the Bundy/BLM standoff. However,
Christopher Agee, in his Western Journalism article of April 18th,
Obama
Accused by Congressman of Illegal Action at Bundy Ranch
,” reported:
Immediately after what many
considered a victory against a tyrannical federal agency, a number of leftist
voices – most notably, Sen. Harry Reid – indicated the action against this
family will continue. In response, Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman sent a
letter to Barack Obama, Department of the Interior Sec. Sally Jewell, and BLM
Director Neil Kornze, laying out his position that any such action by the
agency would violate the U.S. Constitution….

He cited the limited powers granted to the federal government, noting the
bureau has no “right to assume preemptory police powers, that role being
reserved to the States,” and explained “many federal laws require the federal
government to seek assistance from local law enforcement whenever the use of
force may become necessary.”
The letter included a section of
the U.S. Code — 43 U.S.C. Section 1733, Subsection C — stating exactly that
point. [Emphasis Stockman’s]
When the Secretary determines that assistance is necessary in enforcing
Federal laws and regulations relating to the public lands or their resources he
shall offer a contract
to appropriate local officials having law enforcement authority within their
respective jurisdictions with the view of achieving maximum feasible reliance
upon local law enforcement officials in enforcing such laws and regulations
.”

The local law enforcement authority in this instance is the Sheriff of Clark
County, Nevada, Douglas C. Gillespie, who, apparently intimidated by the BLM
(Bureau of Land Management) as the protesters were not, refused to intervene
and demand that the illegal BLM vigilantes leave.
Gillespie, however, conspicuously
took a back seat to BLM forces during the standoff.
“Indeed,” Stockman wrote, “the
exact type of crisis that the federal government has provoked at the Bundy
ranch is the very type of incident that Congress knew could be avoided by relying
on local law enforcement officials.”
The stated purpose of the
correspondence is for the Obama administration “to bring the BLM into
compliance with 43 U.S.C. Section 1733.”
Which,
if we know anything about President Obama, isn’t going to happen. An abuse of
federal powers is, by his authoritarian lights, an exercise of executive
privilege or an action that transcends Constitutional authority.
John Fund, formerly of the
Wall Street Journal, penned an interesting April 18th piece on the
growth of government SWAT teams, “The
United States of SWAT?
Military-Style Units from Government Agencies are
Wreaking Havoc on Non-Violent Citizens” for National Review Online.
Regardless of how people feel
about Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s standoff with the federal Bureau of Land
Management over his cattle’s grazing rights, a lot of Americans were surprised
to see TV images of an armed-to-the-teeth paramilitary wing of the BLM deployed
around Bundy’s ranch.
They shouldn’t have been. Dozens
of federal agencies now have Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) teams to
further an expanding definition of their missions. It’s not controversial that
the Secret Service and the Bureau of Prisons have them. But what about the
Department of Agriculture, the Railroad Retirement Board, the Tennessee Valley
Authority, the Office of Personnel Management, the Consumer Product Safety Commission,
and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service? All of these have their own SWAT units
and are part of a worrying trend towards the militarization of federal agencies
— not to mention local police forces.
(I
provide a link to a list of all these agencies in my June 2013 Rule of Reason
column, “The
Stinking Badges of Our Federales
.” Go here
for the list.)
Fund
writes:
The proliferation of paramilitary
federal SWAT teams inevitably brings abuses that have nothing to do with either
drugs or terrorism. Many of the raids they conduct are against harmless, often
innocent, Americans who typically are accused of non-violent civil or
administrative violations.
Underscoring
Christopher Agee’s point, Fund noted:
Brian Walsh, a senior legal
analyst with the Heritage Foundation, says
it is inexplicable
why so many federal agencies need to be battle-ready:
“If these agencies occasionally have a legitimate need for force to execute a
warrant, they should be required to call a real law-enforcement agency, one
that has a better sense of perspective. The FBI, for example, can draw upon its
vast experience to determine whether there is an actual need for a dozen SWAT
agents.”
Since 9/11, the feds have issued
a plethora of homeland-security grants that encourage local police departments
to buy surplus military hardware and form their own SWAT units. By 2005, at
least 80 percent of towns with a population between 25,000 and 50,000 people
had their own SWAT team. The number of raids conducted by local police SWAT
teams has gone from 3,000 a year in the 1980s to over 50,000 a year today.
But
whether they are actual federal SWAT teams, or local police hybrids, they are
being used more and more to enforce law in a familiar totalitarian manner:
Once SWAT teams are created, they
will be used. Nationwide, they are used for standoffs, often serious ones, with
bad guys. But at other times they’ve been used for crimes that hardly warrant
military-style raids. Examples include angry dogs, domestic disputes, and
misdemeanor marijuana possession.
Fund
cites the Heritage Foundation which regards as “inexplicable” the
question of why so many federal agencies need to be battle-ready. Brian
Walsh
of that organization noted, among other frightening things:
In yet another Orwellian
development, the Education Department IG provides an anonymous tip line
encouraging Americans to inform on each other. This is reminiscent of the Obama
White House asking Americans in 2010 to report on friends and neighbors who
said anything “fishy” about Obamacare in private conversations.
The Federal Law Enforcement
Training Center says that it trains agents for “over 80 federal
agencies.” These include the Secret Service, Bureau of Prisons, and
similar agencies that one would expect.
But the list includes dozens of
federal agencies with no business training and fielding armed officers. Who
wants early-morning armed break-ins by the Department of Agriculture, Railroad
Retirement Board, Bureau of Land Management, Tennessee Valley Authority, Office
of Personnel Management, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service?
It
is “inexplicable” only if one doesn’t acknowledge the expansion of
federal powers which dovetails into virtually every nook and cranny of American
life.
Has
the federal government any legal right to “own” or control this much land,
and to claim that the states have no say in the matter? No. But, the feds just
take it anyway. This is the behavior of tyranny in the name of the “public
interest.” The indefatigable “Hilda,” mentioned in Part I, consulted
the Justia
US Law
site, and found this information about Nevada. She wrote:
The State of Nevada has a legal
claim to the public land retained by the Federal Government within Nevada’s
borders because:

“(a) In the case of the State of Alabama, a renunciation of any claim to
unappropriated lands similar to that contained in the ordinance adopted by the
Nevada constitutional convention was held by the Supreme Court of the United
States to be void and inoperative because it denied to Alabama an equal footing
with the original states in Pollard v. Hagan, 44 U.S. (3 How.) 212 (1845);

(b) The State of Texas, when admitted to the Union in 1845, retained ownership
of all unappropriated land within its borders, setting a further precedent
which inured to the benefit of all states admitted later on an equal footing ;
and

(c) The Northwest Ordinance of 1787, adopted into the Constitution of the
United States by the reference of Article VI to prior engagements of the
Confederation, first proclaimed the equal footing doctrine, and the Treaty of
Guadalupe Hidalgo, by which the territory including Nevada was acquired from
Mexico and which is the supreme law of the land by virtue of Article VI,
affirms it expressly as to the new states to be organized therein.”
The
federal government’s claim to the state’s land is as fanciful as people
believing that Area 51 is where the government hides evidence of alien
spaceships. It’s a kind of “urban legend.” Furthermore, the
Constitution specifically states, in Section
3, Clause 1
:
New States may be admitted by the
Congress into this Union; but no new State shall be formed or erected within
the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of
two or more States, or Parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures
of the States concerned was well as of the Congress.
This
has been ignored by the federal government, and to the detriment of not only
the states, but of all Americans. The federal government has, for all practical
purposes, erected its own states within and at the junctures of states,
governed by federal laws enforced by the BLM, the National Park Service, the
EPA, and myriad other federal agencies. For the history of this incremental,
unconstitutional land-grab, see the history of specifically the BLM here.
National
Review Online (NRO) is regarded as the chief herald and articulator of
conservative causes and viewpoints. Yet its writers can’t make up their minds
about Cliven Bundy and the whole BLM issue. Their timidity is conspicuous, but
also not a little snarky. Kevin D. Williamson, in his April 15th
article, “The
Case for a Little Sedition
,” remarked:
…There are of course questions of
prudence and proportion to be answered here, and though I note that he uses the
very strong phrase “lawless government,” I sympathize with Mr. Lowry’s desire
that both sides should follow the law….
The thing that conservatives seek
to conserve is the American order, which (1) insists that we are to be governed
by laws rather than by men and (2) was born in a violent revolution. Russell
Kirk described the conservative ideal as “ordered liberty,” and that is indeed
what we must aim for — keeping in mind that it is order that serves liberty,
not the other way around….
By some estimates, superfluous
federal holdings amount to trillions of dollars in value. Surely not every inch
of that 87 percent of Nevada under the absentee-landlordship of the federal
government is critical to the national interest. Perhaps Mr. Bundy would like
to buy some land where he can graze his cattle.
It’s
Williamson’s tone that is repulsive, not the content on his article. Why do so
many “conservatives” try to sound like Jon Stewart or David
Letterman?
Meanwhile,
Charles C.W. Cooke, in his April 15th NRO article, “The
Problem with Cliven Bundy
,” worries that Bundy’s actions may cause
more trouble: 
…Bundy’s story is that of a
family that has raised cattle in the West since before the automobile was
invented being turned into a grotesque social experiment. Nevertheless, as one
of the better of those statesmen once said, this is a nation with a “government
of laws and not of men” — and not the other way around — and it seems to me
that this principle should not be considered null and void because one of those
men happens to have an agreeable tale, a photogenic complaint, and a romantic
genealogical past.
That there is a point beyond
which the state may not advance without expecting legitimate pushback is
acknowledged by even the most committed of the state’s enablers. Indeed, this
principle is baked into America’s instruction manual — albeit with a caveat.
“Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive,” the Declaration reads,
“it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new
Government.” But it also chides the hotheaded among us, inviting us to
remember that “prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established
should not be changed for light and transient Causes.” As far as we know, Bundy
is not set on starting a revolution.
When can one refuse to obey the
law without expecting to bring the whole thing down? Certainly such instances
exist: I daresay that I would not stand idly by quoting John Adams if a state
reintroduced slavery or herded a religious group into ovens or even indulged in
wholesale gun confiscation. But Bundy’s case is not remotely approaching these
thresholds. Are we to presume that if the government is destroying one’s
livelihood or breaking one’s ties with the past, one can revolt? If so, one
suspects that half the country would march on Washington, with scimitars drawn,
and that West Virginia would invade the Environmental Protection Agency.
As government expands and civil
society retreats, bad laws pile atop bad laws, and the cause for dissent is
magnified and deepened. Cliven Bundy has been dealt a raw hand by a system that
is deaf to his grievances and ham-fisted in its response. But this is a
republic, dammit — and those who hope to keep it cannot pick and choose the
provisions with which they are willing to deign to comply.
I
don’t know, Mr. Cook. Is this still a “republic,” or is it a
“democracy” governed by Marxists, Progressives, and vacillating
conservatives afraid of their own shadows? I would say the latter. When is it
morally proper to refuse to comply with the bullying commands of a rampaging Goliath?
Who gave the federal government aegis over so much land and so many industries,
such as the energy or power industry? Perhaps it was some ambiguously worded or
sloppily interpreted clauses in the Constitution. Chief Justice John Roberts
was not the first to quibble over “definitions” and
“meanings.”
Back
to U.S. Senator Harry Reid, the one who called the Bundy protestors “domestic
terrorists.
Reid has a history of hating coal. GOPUSA reported in September 2012, in “Harry
Reid demands closure of coal-fired power plant
“:
U.S. Sen. Harry Reid on
Tuesday called for the closure of a coal-fired power plant outside Las
Vegas, saying he expects opposition from NV Energy Inc. but the
facility is antiquated and a health risk to American Indians who live
nearby. “There is no clean coal,” the Senate Democratic leader
declared after meeting with several members of the Moapa Band of Paiutes who
live near the Reid Gardner station and a handful of representatives
of the Sierra Club and Nevada Conservation League who want the plant to
close.
“We have to stop further
degradation of the land and air as a result of burning coal,” Reid said.
“The solution is to close the plant. We want the boilers shut off.”
A Republican Party spokesman,
Darren Littell, accused Reid of wanting to throw 150 people out of work in a
state where unemployment tops 12 percent.
Reid
wants the boilers shut off. Of course, his concerns about the Paiutes and the
environment had nothing to do with his wanting to convert BLM land into solar,
wind, and geothermal power sources. If you believe that, you believe in the
Moon People. See James Simpson’s, April 16th WND article,
“Clinton/Obama/Cronies
Behind Bundy Showdown
.” However, Reid got his way.
The
Las Vegas Sun reported in its June 4th article, “NV
Energy Bill wins passage, signaling state’s shift from coal
” reported:
Legislators have officially moved
Nevada out of the coal business. In a vote Monday night, the Assembly approved
a landmark energy shift away from coal-fired power plants like Reid Gardner in
Clark County and mandated investment in renewable energy and natural gas. [Reid
Garner was no relation to Harry Reid]….
While Nevada has long had a
policy to invest in renewable energy, it has never before excluded a fossil
fuel like coal from its energy portfolio. The policy shift comes with
significant political weight behind it: NV Energy, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid,
D-Nev., Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, the state’s major casinos, the
environmental lobby, and major labor unions all support the move.
In
the meantime, and finally, here is a larger connection between Cliven Bundy,
Harry Reid, and the fact that the federal government has taken over realms over
which it was never intended to reign supreme or have anything to say at all
about. The Wall Street Journal reported on April 18th that “Obama
Extends Review of Pipeline Project
“:
The Obama administration is
indefinitely extending its review of the Keystone XL pipeline, likely delaying
a decision on the project until after November’s U.S. midterm elections.
The State Department, which has
jurisdiction over TransCanada Corp.’s TRP.T-0.33%,
1,700-mile long pipeline project because it crosses the Canadian-U.S. border,
cited as a key reason ongoing litigation over a Nebraska law that allowed the
pipeline’s route through the state.
We
live in a command, by-your-leave economy and political state (that is, a
fascist one), dependent on the whims and fortunes of political parties,
lobbyists, and corrupt politicians.
The pipeline would send more than
700,000 barrels of carbon-heavy oil from Canada’s oil sands to Gulf Coast refineries
in the U.S….Business interests contend it will create jobs and offer a safer
alternative than transporting the oil by rail.
The decision could help the Obama
administration sidestep for now a tricky political issue that has divided the
Democratic Party in an election year.
If
that weren’t bad enough, we have creeping censorship to contend with. Mark Horne
of Political Outcast reported in his April 2014 article, “Senate
Dems Ready to Smash 1st Amendment for TV, Radio, Internet
.”
No, the bill doesn’t enforce open
censorship yet, but that’s never how it starts. …[T]he Hate Crime Reporting Act
of 2014 demands the tracking of so-called “hate speech” without any enforcement
yet.
If
Senators Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) were looking for a
way to rile talk radio hosts, their Hate Crimes Reporting Act seems like a good
way to get the job done.  With bills in the House and Senate, the
lawmakers would direct the National Telecommunications and Information
Administration (NTIA) to “analyze” media outlets — including radio — to
determine if they’re working to “advocate and encourage” hate crimes.
Tying
their bill to this week’s alleged white supremacist shootings in Kansas, Markey
says it is “critical to ensure the internet, television and radio are not
encouraging hate crimes or hate speech.”  He brushes aside expected
First Amendment arguments, saying “criminal and hateful activity” isn’t covered
by the Constitution.
  The bill would look closely at discussions
related to gender, race, religion, ethnicity and sexual orientation. [Emphasis Horne’s]….
It gives the government a new
tool to force an “orthodoxy” on the populace in the name of a recent crime
that had absolutely nothing to do with talk radio.

The next thing you know, the NTIA will have its own SWAT team, ready to raid
Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levin and Michael Savage. And I’m sure there are plenty of armed-to-the-teeth
men who’d like to pat down Megyn Kelly TSA-style for her ill-advised “hate
speech.” After all, when she asks so many inconvenient questions of taqiyya-happy Ibrahim Hooper of CAIR,
isn’t she encouraging “hate crimes” against Muslims?  Isn’t reasoned inquiry a form of “criminal
activity”?  To Hooper, to Markey, to
Jeffries, yes, it is.
The
next step, as Horne suggests, is for the government to want to
“track” what’s said in print, as well. Any words written and
published in support of Cliven Bundy and critical of the BLM, can be frowned
upon and perceived as encouraging “domestic terrorism” and
“hateful activity.” I’m sure Senator Harry Reid will vote in favor of
the Hate Crimes Reporting Act. And then, as the BLM did, he’ll want to see vocal
Americans rounded up and corralled in another “First Amendment”
cattle pen.
Ready
for the slaughter.

Cliven Bundy’s Justifiable Defiance: Part I

On
a morning In April, 1775, the British army, based in Boston, Massachusetts, set
out to seize and/or destroy caches of arms and powder stockpiled by colonists
in anticipation of trouble with the Crown. Along the way, this “search and
destroy” army, between 600 and 700 strong, encountered a tiny band of
armed American colonists, about 40 in number, on Lexington Green.
There was a confrontation. The commanding officer ordered the colonists, the
“damned rebels” – who weren’t even blocking the path of the army – to
lay down their arms. The colonists refused.
A
shot was fired – from which side? That’s always been a subject of speculation,
and it hardly matters. A “violent” confrontation was bound to happen,
later if not sooner, and if not on Lexington Green, then elsewhere, as the
Crown arrogantly pushed its weight around in an attempt to subdue resistance by
the colonists to Crown rule and regulations.
The
British fired a volley into the colonists. Some colonists returned fire before
dispersing in the face of the superior force. The survivors of the volley faded
into the woods.
The
pattern was repeated on a far greater scale on Bunker or Breed’s Hill in June.
In
April, 2014, in Nevada, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), together with
the U.S. Park Service, sent in about 200 officers prepared for war against
other Americans to seize the cattle of Cliven Bundy, a recalcitrant rancher who
refused to pay “grazing fees” on federal land. This force was
augmented with military-style communications, tasers, attack dogs, snipers in
the hills, and the best weaponry money could buy.  In response, hundreds of Americans, many of
them armed and ready to defend Bundy, his family, and his ranch, arrived on the
scene. On Saturday, April 12th, the BLM “backed off” from
what promised to be a clash of arms between its hired guns and the impromptu
American militia. Some cattle it had collected were released. It promised to
pursue Bundy “administratively and judicially” in court.
The
rapidity with which events unfolded in Nevada caused no little amount of
confusion, two or three baker’s dozens of rumors and allegations, and muddled
coverage of what Cliven Bundy did or didn’t do, what actually happened on April
12th, and what may happen next. This column is an attempt to sort
the calves from the heifers.
But,
first, back to April 1775 and Lexington Green. When the French & Indian War
was concluded in 1763, King George III issued a Proclamation,
which, among other things, stated that British subjects in North America could
no longer flee Crown taxation and regulation by going over the transmontane,
that is, the mountain range separating the “wild west” from the
colonies that lined the eastern seaboard. They would be stopped by British
troops, and if they managed to slip through, these unpatriotic citizens would
be at the mercy of the Indians and no British troops would go to their rescue. The
Stamp Act of 1765 was intended to partly offset the cost of maintaining a
standing British army in North America.
It
was the Proclamation which seeded colonial resentment against the Crown. It
climaxed, first, during the Boston Massacre in March, 1770, and finally on
Lexington Green in April, 1775. The colonists did not perceive His Majesty’s
Proclamation as an expression of gratitude for their having helped the British
evict the French from North America, or, at least, helping to put a stop to the
French and Indians who had been raiding the colonies that lay below Canada.
Similarly,
in parallel, the BLM has assumed complete control of a swath of land out West,
forbidding any and all from stepping foot on it without BLM permission. It sent
troops to enforce
a court order
to Bundy to pay what the BLM claimed he owed, and also to collect
what one can only guess it treated as collateral, Bundy’s cattle. The BLM,
along with the Park Service and the Environmental Protection Agency, had banded
together to put 52 other ranches out of business in that area. Bundy is the
“last man standing.”
Laron Fred Woods, a
resident of Utah, supplied this brief history of the land under dispute:
When Nevada became a state in
1864, the state had control of its land because of its sovereignty. The federal
government started taking control back in the 1930’s. Until then, the General
Land Office managed public lands. Even though the GLO was a national agency, it
was administered locally. After the Taylor Grazing act of 1934, passed under
Franklin D. Roosevelt, a “U.S. Grazing Service” office was created.
The “U.S. Grazing Service” office was merged with the General Land
Office in 1946 (under Harry S. Truman) and the BLM (Bureau Of Land Management)
was created. They then assumed control of all “public” lands and took
over management from the state. Cliven Bundy’s Grandfather purchased grazing
rights from the General Land Office in the 1880’s. Note: He PURCHASED those
rights. Not the land, just the grazing rights.
After the BLM took over
management, they [the BLM] no longer recognized as legitimate those actions of
purchasing grazing rights. Right or wrong, they still refuse to recognize the
purchased grazing rights from the Bundy’s.
Two
BLM sites carry the same official history.
The
“roundup” of Bundy’s cattle by the feds, given the context in which
Bundy is acting, is simply a naked seizure of his property, under the guise of
protecting the habitat of the desert tortoise. But even that pretext was
exploded when it was learned that the BLM was actually euthanizing these tortoises.
Watch Stefan Molyneux’s
YouTube observations on this subject, and also listen to Mark
Levin’s
comments on Family Security Matters.
Unfortunately,
Cliven Bundy’s rationale for his resistance and defiance lacks any rational
cohesion. It is basically an action taken on an emotional reaction to the
overbearing and authoritarian behavior of the BLM and other federal agencies.
His strongest suit is the fact that his ancestors purchased the “grazing
rights” to the land in dispute, as described by Laron Fred Woods, rights
which are no longer recognized by the BLM. Cliven Bundy isn’t an intellectual;
he deserves the support of those who claim to be.
Of
course, if the government needn’t recognize the right to property secured over
a century ago, never mind property secured within the last half century, the last
decade, the last year. Private property rights of any kind, whether
prescriptive or outright or common law, have been drowned in an avalanche of
fiat law and legalized theft under the rubric of the “public” or
“common” good” or the “public interest.”
Freedom
Outpost’s Ben Swann reveals the cluelessness of the BLM in his April 16th
article, “BLM:
We Were Worried Cliven Bundy
Might Have Prescriptive Rights and He Might
Use that Defense in Court.” He asks:
Why this year, spend nearly
$1,000,000 of taxpayer money to round up 400 cattle that ultimately have to be
returned? Why didn’t the BLM just place a lien on the cattle rather than
attempting to take them by force and then auction them off? The Bureau of Land
Management has suffered a huge
black eye this week
because of their response to the Bundy situation.
Perhaps though, there is a reason the BLM chose force over the courts.
Swann
contacted Montana cattleman Todd Devlin, who is also County Commissioner in
Prairie County, Montana. Devlin made his own enquiries about the BLM’s
ham-fisted, Gestapo-like behavior towards Bundy.
Among the questions Devlin asked
of the BLM, “Is it possible that this guy (Cliven Bundy) has prescriptive
rights?” The response from top officials at the BLM, “We are worried
that he might, and he might use that defense.”
So what exactly are prescriptive
rights? Prescriptive right to property is an easement that gives some one the
right to use land owned by someone else for a particular purpose. An example is
using a path through Party A’s land to get to your land; a prescriptive
easement is allowed which gives the user the right to get to his land through
A’s property.
Swann
explained that if no one, even a government agency, challenges a prescriptive
right in five years, then the right is secured and trespass cannot be legally
claimed.
Granted, there have been court
actions over the years. In 1998, a federal judge issued a permanent injunction
against Bundy, ordering him to remove his cattle from the federal lands. He
lost an appeal to the San Francisco 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Yet, the
“trespass cattle” remained on the BLM land. In fact, it took until
August of 2013 for a court order to be issued saying Bundy had 45 days to
remove his cattle from federal land. 15 years went by from the time of the last
court case over the cattle until the BLM attempted to remove the livestock.
 
Bundy as been in between a rock and a hard place when it comes to dealing with
bureaucracies.
Of course, Bundy has not made the claim that he will not pay the fees, he simply
says he will not pay those fees to the BLM because he doesn’t recognize federal
authority over the land.
Bundy has said that in the past that he would pay
fees to Clarke County, Nevada, though Clarke County has refused to accept them.
The BLM has insisted that Bundy owes $1.1 million dollars in grazing fees for
his trespass cattle. “The actual number is probably around $200,000. The
$1.1 million claimed by the BLM is probably mostly interest and penalties for
trespass cattle.” says Devlin…. (Italics
mine)
Swann
concludes his article:
Finally, Devlin says instead of
allowing the situation with Bundy’s cattle to grow completely out of control,
the BLM could have simply placed a lien on the cattle in the first place. Of course, that lien might have been
rejected in court if Bundy were able to demonstrate those prescriptive rights.

Then again, the courts so far have sided with the government; therefore, it is
even more baffling why the lien wasn’t placed on the livestock. (Italics mine)
Days after the BLM has claimed
they will stand
down
, they are now reportedly considering a lien on the cattle, “I
asked why you didn’t put a lien against the cattle?” Devlin asked the BLM.
“They hadn’t thought about that, but they are considering it now.”

DUH!!!! But then, those with a congenital, larcenous state of mind and method
of doing things, don’t usually, as a matter of habit, think ahead, do they? Their
first impulse is to initiate force.
The
BLM, like the National Park Service, wields a lot of clout on land in the U.S.,
especially in the West. In December 2013, Freedom Outpost published a map
of the continental U.S., including Alaska. Beginning half-way through Colorado,
moving west, it looks like a bucket of red paint had been dumped on every
state: the red is federally owned and controlled land. The Appalachian Range is
federal and the largest chunk in the east. Half of California is federal. But virtually
all of Nevada is federal; the little white dot in the furthest southeast corner
of the state is the Las Vegas Metro area.
The
New Energy News
site
, which is pro-“renewable,” features a map of where the BLM
and the federal government plan to implement solar, wind, and geothermal power
projects. It also has a link to a map of the all the states with the percentage
of federally-owned land in each state, published by the General Services
Administration under the title, “Who
Owns the West?
” About 86% of Nevada is federal land.
Aside
from the government’s ongoing campaign to “green” America, there is a
class of corrupt politicians who wish to collect another kind of
“green” – money. U.S. Senator Harry Reid, one of the most notorious
corrupt politicians in Congress,  may
have had a hand in the BLM fiasco. He and his son, Rory Reid, may have
instigated the offense against Cliven Bundy in an exercise of vendetta. “Crony
capitalism” is the vehicle.
James
Simpson, in his April 16th WND article, “Clinton/Obama/Cronies
Behind Bundy Showdown
,” noted:
A BLM
document
unearthed last week discusses mitigation strategies for the Dry
Lake Solar Energy Zone, just southwest of the Bundy ranch. The “mitigation
strategy” proposed to use the grazing lands near
the Bundy ranch as a kind of sanctuary for the desert tortoise, because the
entire region is slated for a large number of solar, wind and geothermal energy
generation facilities. The solar projects will obliterate most of the turtle’s
natural habitat.
Bloggers quickly made a
connection between the effort to remove Bundy’s cattle and a solar energy
project in Southern Nevada financed by the communist Chinese energy firm ENN.
It was to be the largest solar farm in the U.S.
Reid had lobbied heavily for the
company’s business, even traveling to China. Reid’s son, Rory Reid, formerly a
Clark County commissioner, became a lobbyist for ENN, and the Senate majority
leader’s former senior adviser, Neil
Kornze
, now leads the BLM.
But the solar energy complex
financed by the communist Chinese was not at the heart of the Bundy Ranch
fiasco after all. The project died
last year.

The federal government has plans for the country, and especially for the west.
If you ever wondered why the Keystone oil project has been denied approval,
this is why:
However, the BLM’s
library of renewable energy projects
revealed it was only one of more than
50 solar, wind and geothermal projects planned for Nevada, California, Arizona
and other Western states. Reid was focused on at least one, and maybe more, of
the projects, much closer to the Bundy ranch.

Simpson concludes:
But that is not all. A company
called First Solar is listed on a BLM
renewable energy project map
of southern Nevada, one of 11 sited in Clark
County. Additionally, the map shows six wind projects in Clark County and also
lists the K Road Moapa project under “transmission projects.” In other words,
there is a lot more going on than media have reported.
First
Solar investors
comprise a who’s who of Democratic insiders, including
major Obama campaign bundlers, billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones, Al Gore,
Ted Turner and Goldman Sachs. First Solar’s CEO is Michael
Ahearn,
former fundraiser for both Obama and Harry Reid. First Solar has at
least three other solar projects in California. So it becomes apparent why the
BLM, Reid and many other interested parties have such an intense interest in
the desert tortoise.
Yet,
Harry Reid piously pronounced Bundy’s supporters as terrorists. Laura Myers of
the Las
Vegas Review-Journal
reported on April 17th:
U.S. Sen. Harry Reid on Thursday
called supporters of Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy “domestic terrorists”
because they defended him against a Bureau of Land Management cattle roundup
with guns and put their children in harm’s way.
“Those people who hold themselves
out to be patriots are not. They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists,”
Reid said during an appearance at a Las Vegas Review-Journal “Hashtags &
Headlines” event at the Paris. “… I repeat: what went on up there was domestic
terrorism.”
You
really have to hand a pound of brass to Reid. Men rallying to help someone
protect his property from thieves are “terrorists,” not the thieves.
He cited the “rule of law” as above all else, when he is a
first-class lawbreaker.
Reid accused Bundy backers of
bringing their children to protest the BLM so that federal authorities might
harm them, which would prompt negative headlines around the world and hurt the
government’s case against the rancher.
“There were hundreds — hundreds
of people from around the country — that came there,” Reid said. “They had
sniper rifles on the freeway. They had assault weapons. They had automatic
weapons.”
According to Reid, some
protesters said they had “children and women lined up because if anyone got
hurt we wanted to make sure they got hurt first, because we want the federal
government hurting women and children. … What if others tried the same thing?”
The
first charge is simply a lying smear, that the protesters put women and
children in jeopardy. It can be dismissed as not worthy of comment. But, who
first brought automatic weapons to the party? Who stationed snipers in the
hills? Who showed up first in the “hundreds”? Who declared the whole
area a “no-fly zone,” thus preventing news agencies in their choppers
from monitoring the cattle roundup? Who created a “First Amendment”
cattle pen in which protesters were supposed to be contained, fruitlessly sequestered
miles away from the scene of the crime?
Who
committed the only acts of violence during the confrontation? It was BLM
personnel tasering one of Bundy’s sons and manhandling one of his sisters.  Children?
These were adults and so someone’s
children. In all the videos I’ve seen of the confrontation and of the
protesters, I saw not one person who could have been under the age of twenty. All
the people in the video shown advancing on foot and on horseback on the armed,
barricaded, bug-eyed sunglass-wearing BLM thugs were adults. No responsible
adult would take his children to such a tinderbox of a protest.
The
Las
Vegas Review-Journal
article featured an excerpt of the Nevada
Constitution, only partly quoting from it, allowing Harry Reid to slip a mickey
into his two-faced taqiyya.
Nevada’s 1864 Constitution,
however, cedes rights to the vast stretches of public land to the federal
government.
“The people inhabiting said
territory do agree and declare, that they forever disclaim all right and title
to the unappropriated public lands lying within said territory, and that the
same shall be and remain at the sole and entire disposition of the United
States,” the state Constitution says in the ordinance section. Reid noted many
of the protesters care deeply about the Constitution, both state and federal.
“Nevada’s Constitution sets out
very clearly the situation,” Reid said.
One
reader of that article, named Hilda, went to the trouble in her comments to
educate the writer and Nevadans by citing that part of the Nevada Constitution:
Reid says, “Nevada’s 1864
Constitution, however, cedes rights to the vast stretches of public land to the
federal government.” Reid fails to mention that despite that, the Supreme Court
has upheld the right of all western states to have all the land returned to
them under the “equal footing” doctrine. Also, the US Constitution
allows for the federal government to own property only for “Forts,
Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings.” No other
ownership of land is permitted by the government for a reason. The Founding
Fathers wanted to ensure limits on the federal government precisely to
prevent the abuse of federal power we are witnessing now.
Federally-owned
land was never intended to be space for the government to experiment with its
preferred “energy” projects, with the hands of corrupt politicians
and companies doing the experimenting.
Fox
News’ Megyn
Kelly
, a lawyer, remains confused about Cliven Bundy’s actions, citing his
defiance of two court orders as serious offenses, but nevertheless struggles to
grasp the larger picture and sympathizes with Bundy. Judge
Andrew Napolitano
, a Fox consultant, explained to Dana Loesch of The Blaze
why the BLM and the feds bungled:
The problem here is that the federal
government — as is typical when it wins its case — has overplayed its hand and
has completely turned the dynamics in which it won, into a case in which it’s
probably going to lose, because of the manner in which it’s enforcing its
victory,” he explained.
Napolitano described how the
Nevada rancher, Cliven Bundy, has claimed the land on which he was grazing his
cattle belonged to the state, not the federal government, and
that’s why he chose not to pay federal grazing fees.
“A federal court decided that it
belonged to the federal government, and that position was upheld on appeal,”
Napolitano said. “Now, that is a decision that never should have been made
by a federal court, for two reasons. The federal government should never be in
a position in which it is deciding on the extent of its own power … And
secondly, when you have a dispute over real estate, there’s a universal
principle of law everywhere in the United States of America … that real
estate disputes are resolved by state courts.”
Napolitano said that the Bureau
of Land Management, which is “supposed to be a bunch of bureaucrats” preserving
land for the “future enjoyment of all Americans” quickly became “a group of
thugs dressed in military uniform with loaded M16s pointed at a rancher and his
family.” “By doing all of that, they have succeeded in snatching defeat out of
the jaws of victory,” Napolitano said.
The judge concluded: “With
respect to Bundy, he’s lost. But in the hearts and minds of Americans he’s won,
because he has resisted the uber-aggressive enforcement by the federal
government of their victory in court.”
The
law was on the government’s side. But, what kind of law is it? And how is it
being enforced throughout the country? Those subjects will be addressed in Part
II.

Book Review: “Fear Itself”

“So,
first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear
is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed
efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
– Franklin D. Roosevelt, first inaugural address, 4
March 1933.
The
standard interpretation of this inane statement is that we shouldn’t allow our
fears to overcome a commitment or determination to act. This was a tidewater
year for the Progressives, who wanted to turn their “retreat” into an
“advance.” Roosevelt was their political point man, and a host of
economists and academics acted as his “bandstand” backup chorus. A
literal construction of the statement is:
We shouldn’t allow a knowledge of
the consequences of our proposed statist policies to stop us from enacting
those policies. Whether or not those policies accomplish their ends, it is
important that we “advance” and not be terrified of the certain
outcome. We shouldn’t be afraid of turning the country into a fascist/socialist
slave state. It is for the “public good,” and the “public
good” justifies any action the state may take to secure it. If that means
abrogating, rescinding, or abridging individual rights, if that means crippling
the economy, and redirecting Americans’ wealth and efforts in a more
public-spirited direction, so be it. We must all pull together. Anyone caught
slacking at his oar, or mumbling against the whip-wielding overseers, will be
isolated, vilified and punished. Possibly even tossed overboard.
Never
mind that it was the federal government’s fiscal policies that caused the
Depression and perpetuated it. More “needed efforts” are imperative to
convert a free country into a minimum security prison.
A
new book has been published which partly explains why today we are burdened
with an arrogant federal government (and its state-sized copy cat minions), one
endlessly expanding the scope of its powers, Fear
Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time
, by Ira Katznelson.* Katznelson
is Ruggles professor of political science and history at Columbia University,
president of the Social Science Research Council, and research associate at
Cambridge University’s Centre for History and Economics. He is a dyed-pink
Progressive and liberal and advocate of precisely the welfare state and command
economy we are enduring today. His book covers the beginning of the New Deal up
to the election of Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952.
The
Progressive – read socialist – antecedents of The Social Science Research
Council (SSRC) are impeccable. A Wikipedia account of the SSRC names many of
the usual suspects. Founded in 1923,
To support its work, the SSRC turned not to the U.S.
government, whose support seemed more appropriate for the natural sciences, but
to private foundations. For the first fifty years, well over three-quarters of
the SSRC’s funding was provided by the Russell Sage Foundation, the Ford
Foundation
, the Carnegie Corporation, and two Rockefeller
philanthropies, the Laura Spelman
Rockefeller Memorial
and the Rockefeller Foundation.
The SSRC was part of a wider Progressive
Era
movement to develop organizations of expertise that could dispense
disinterested knowledge to policymakers. These organizations would tap leading
thinkers in various fields to think creatively about how to rid the nation of
the social and political ills brought on by the Industrial Revolution.
The
knowledge gathering was not so “disinterested” – it was knowledge
collected to “prove” the necessity of a planned economy and a
regimented society. And the “ills” of the Industrial Revolution were
inherited from conditions prevalent in the pre-Industrial Revolution. If there
were any societal “ills” left once the Revolution got into full
swing, they were a consequence of statist policies in America and in Europe.
But,
enough of focusing on the ideological familiars of Progressivism. Katznelson’s
book, while a friendly and commodious history of the New Deal’s origins at a
daunting 720 pages, focuses on one aspect of the New Deal and FDR’s policies:
the Democratic Party and its continuing tradition of racism. He makes a very
strong and credible argument that FDR’s New Deal and its swollen progeny were
largely made possible by members of Congress, especially from the southern
states, who were outspoken racists and who were able to “whip” the
votes to pass New Deal legislation. It was a quid pro quo trade-off, a matter of horse-trading and logrolling between
the executive and legislative branches of government.
In
short, FDR and his brain trust wanted to pass welfare state legislation and
economic controls over the whole nation. The southern states wanted to preserve
their Jim Crow legal structure and societies from interference from Washington,
under the guise of “states’ rights.” The southern states controlled
the voting blocs in the Senate and House. The arrangement was amenable to both
sides as long as no one paid it much attention. FDR did his best to scratch the
backs of vociferous bigots in Congress, and the bigots scratched his back and
surrendered the right of their states to remain economically independent from
Washington.
The
Democratic Party has a history – nay, nearly a tradition – of racism and
keeping blacks on the federal plantation of dependency and electoral servitude.
Ronn Torossian, in his April 14th FrontPage article, “The
Racist, Discriminating Democratic Party
,” reminds us that:
The Republican Party was born
just prior to the Civil War for the sole purpose of combating slavery and it
fought against the party of slavery.  The Republican Party is the party of
freedom and economic liberty and prosperity – as it was then and now. The
Democratic platform of the 1860s was a pro-slavery policy that sought to keep
people enslaved. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Democratic Party was the enforcer
of “Jim Crow” laws and segregation. In 1964, there was a filibuster of the
Civil Rights Act by Democrat Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) which lasted 14 hours.
The Act was crafted and supported by a vast number of Republicans in the
Senate, while opposed by southern Democratic senators (including Al Gore Sr).
I
wouldn’t go so far as to claim that the Republicans are still pro-freedom. I
doubt very much they know anymore what they ought to be for. And the Civil Rights Act is
a usurpation of the right of free association and assembly. In a truly free
country, racists and bigots would be marginalized and not fare well, either
socially or economically. However, this much is true:
Today, the Democrats continue to
keep people in place and pursue centralized government, as a further way for
more government control, particularly over the poor. The Democratic Party seeks
to tell people how to eat, raise their families, and in this administration,
how to have healthcare.
And
the coin has been reversed since Senator Byrd and George Wallace’s hegemony.
Now it is black Congressmen and white-guilt liberals who dominate the
Democratic Party.
Katznelson’s
book is an unapologetic apologia for
how the current federal behemoth came into being. To his credit, he pulls no
punches while discussing not only how FDR was able to get his statist
legislation passed and implemented with the help of southern politicians, but
why the arrangement also contributed to the U.S. making the totalitarian Soviet
Union its chief ally during World War II, with Roosevelt and his political
allies knowing full well the brutal truth about the Soviet Union: that it was a
dictatorship with the blood and deaths of millions on its hands.
Katznelson’s
thesis, which he thoroughly documents throughout (there are 181 pages of
lengthy end notes), is that:
The South was singular. There, a
racial hierarchy and the exclusion of African-Americans from the civic body
were hardwired in law, protected by patterns of policing and accepted private
violence, which created an entrenched system of racial humiliation that became
everyday practice…
…[T]he farther South one went in
the United States, the greater the influence in shaping the content of the New
Deal. We will discover the central role played by the once-slave South in
Congress, where representatives from the seventeen states mandating racial
segregation were pivotal members of the House and Senate. Democrats, nearly to
a person, they were the most important “veto players” in American
politics. Both the content and the moral tenor of the New Deal were profoundly
affected. Setting terms not just for their constituencies but for the country
as a whole, these members of Congress reduced the full repertoire of
possibilities for policy to a narrower set of feasible options that met with
their approval. No noteworthy lawmaking the New Deal accomplished could have
passed without their consent. Reciprocally, almost every initiative of
significance conformed to their wishes. (pp. 15-16)
Katznelson
describes the “”question” faced by Roosevelt and his political
allies of how to rescue the country from the government-perpetuated Depression
but at the same time “save” capitalism:
During the period from the
rallying call by the new president to confront fear itself on March 4, 1933, to
the Nazi invasion of Poland six years later [in September, 1939; Katznelson
omits mention of the co-invasion of Poland by the Soviets two weeks later, per
the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact], the New Deal was concerned, above all, with
questions of political economy. Could capitalism be rescued? On what terms? With
what degree of public support? The core policymakers in this initial phase of
the New Deal never thought the USSR or Nazi Germany could provide workable
models. But they were drawn to Mussolini’s Italy, which self-identified itself
as a country that had saved capitalism….
Desperate for tools and itself in
an experimental mood, the Roosevelt administration in the 1930s did not so much
adopt a pro-Mussolini stance as seek to associate with Italian Fascism, of
course on American terms for America’s own purposes, seeking to find policy
models that could be put to use under democratic conditions. (pp. 92-93)
So
much for the “grand” vision enunciated by FDR. His agenda was clear,
but how to follow it remained a coin toss. The PR image of FDR as a walking
vehicle of wisdom and perfect solutions is a lie. He was a pragmatist looking
for a way to “save” capitalism by fitting it into the least offensive
chains available. He looked abroad for answers.
And
when the U.S. entered the war against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, suddenly
the Soviet Union became a “workable model” of an ally. The heinous
Soviet policies of starving millions, incarcerating untold numbers of Russians
in Gulags, a secret police rivaled in its brutality only by the Gestapo, the
show trials, were all forgotten. FDR wished Americans to forget what they knew
about Stalin and the nature of his Communist dictatorship – much as Barack
Obama wishes Americans to forget what the Muslim Brotherhood is and represents.
Katznelson does not dwell on that subject, either. For a description of how duplicitous
FDR was about our relations with the Soviet Union, see Diana West’s American
Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character
.
By
1945, the Roosevelt/Truman New Deal administrations had learned how to get
things done. They emulated Otto von Bismarck and established the country’s
first permanent welfare state program:
On August 14, 1935, the president signed the historic Social Security Act. By establishing federally
managed old-age pensions and unemployment insurance, it considerably altered
the contours of America’s labor markets….(p. 258)
Katznelson
argues that on the surface, the cooperation of the southern states was not
crucial to the passage of the Act; however, southern blocs in the House and
Senate deliberated on key elements of the Act at critical junctures in the
legislative process, and allowed it to move ahead to the White House.
 …Social Security was approved nearly without
opposition by crushing bipartisan votes of 77-6 in the Senate and 372-33 in the
House…
A crucial vote to recommit the
bill to the House Committee on Ways and Means attracted all but one Republican.
The amendment failed, 149-253, because southern Democrats stuck with the party
position, voting at a high level with fellow Democrats. Had the 141 Democrats
in the chamber from the seventeen southern states resisted the legislation, it
well might not have passed. (pp. 259-260).
After
Roosevelt died in 1945, the “spirit of Yalta” evaporated and
relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union chilled. National security
became the watchword in Washington. However, again, the definition of national
security depended on the perceptions and cooperation of the southern “Jim
Crow” states.
Faced with insecure support from
the left side of his party and with complex divisions among Republicans, Truman
and his administration came to rely heavily on southern legislators, especially
in congressional committees and, where needed, on the floor of each chamber, to
lead coalitions that would advance their preferred policies. The policy
steadiness, seniority, and party leadership of southern representatives placed
them in a pivotal role when the content of national security bills was crafted,
when the amending process had to be controlled, and when votes had to be won
when there were divisions on the floor. (pp. 425-426)
From
the very beginning of his terms as president, FDR and his advisors cast about
for some “middle ground” between the fiat power necessary to advance
the Progressive cause and checks and balances enumerated in the Constitution, and
some way to preserve freedom by diminishing it and seeming to be champions of
“democracy.” But there were those who had FDR’s ear who had no
illusions about what was necessary to implement an American version of Fascism.
Writing a series of widely noted
articles for The New Republic under the rubric of “A New Deal for
America,” the economist Stuart Chase offered “a survey for a third
road” between violent Fascist or Communist revolution…and a “business
dictatorship” whose road…has mud holes and soft shoulders.” He called
for a “third and last road,” a path that “may entail a temporary
dictatorship,” though one that “will not tear up customs, traditions
and behavior patterns to any such extent as promised by the Red or the Black
dictatorship.” (p. 118)
Walter
Lippmann, the arch-Progressive journalist and political commentator who nurtured
a contempt for the “public” and
Constitutional principles (remind you of the current president and his Attorney
General? In his 1925 book, The
Phantom Public
, he argued that Americans should be governed by a
self-perpetuating elite of “insiders”) was more forthright about what
he thought was necessary to correct the doldrums that America was experiencing.
In a series of columns about the Depression and the ongoing economic crisis in
the New York Herald Tribune in January and February 1933, before FDR took
office in March, he opined:
“The situation,” he
wrote, “requires strong medicine.” In advocating a grant of
“extraordinary powers” to the incoming president, he insisted that “the
danger we have to fear is not that Congress will give Franklin D. Roosevelt too
much power, but that it will deny him the power he needs. The danger is not
that we shall lose our liberties, but that we shall not be able to act with the
necessary speed and comprehensiveness.” Extraordinary authority, he
proposed, should give the president, “for a period say of a year, the
widest and fullest powers under the most liberal interpretation of the
Constitution.” (p. 118)
“Temporary
extraordinary powers” granted to any nation’s executive as a rule become
set in cement and are permanent. After all, there is no warranty guarantee on
the length of a crisis. Ask Rahm Emanuel. Katznelson continues to quote Lippmann
without flinching:
Concurrently, Congress should
“suspend temporarily the rule of both houses, to limit drastically the
right of amendment and debate, to put the majority in both houses under the
decisions of a caucus.”  (p. 118)
That
would work. After all, when Hitler took power late in January 1933, he
persuaded the Reichstag late in March to cease functioning as a parliamentary
entity with the Enabling
Act
. The “temporary” cessation of Germany’s parliament became
permanent. Lippmann was proposing that Congress gag itself.
This supersession of normal politics,
he concluded, “is the necessary thing to do. If the American nation
desires action and results, this is the way to get them.” Lippmann directed
the same advice to his good friend, the president-elect. During a February 1
visit to Warm Springs, Georgia, he counseled how “the situation is
critical, Franklin. You may have no alternative but to assume dictatorial
powers.” (p. 118-119)
Lippmann
deemed necessary the suppression of normal politics – read individual rights
and the rule of law. Roosevelt was all too agreeable to assume dictatorial
powers. The only thing he likely feared was that Congress would not consent to
gagging itself and placing its functions under the thumb of a caucus of a pro-Roosevelt
clique.
Katznelson
then proceeds to eulogize Roosevelt’s inaugural address.
[Roosevelt] went on to voice
confidence that it would be possible to find a way within the Constitution of
the United States to respond effectively. “Our Constitution is so simple
and practical,” he reassured with a high degree of ambiguity, “that
it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and
arrangement without loss of essential form.”….
Should Congress not act promptly
and decisively, [Roosevelt] warned, “I shall not evade the clear course of
duty that will confront me. I shall ask Congress for the one remaining
instrument to meet the crisis – broad Executive power to wage a war against the
emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact
invaded by a foreign foe.” (pp. 121-122)
We
can all remember how Chief
Justice John Roberts
changed the “emphasis” and rearranged the
Constitution when he upheld Obamacare, without losing the Constitution’s
“essential form.” However, remove the engine from a car, and the car
has not lost its “essential form.” But it is otherwise powerless and
useless.
The
powers Roosevelt was asking for were hardly “ambiguous.” Failing to
get the cooperation of Congress, he wanted it to allow him to declare war on
the domestic crisis. Sound familiar? How many “wars” have been
declared on something or other by Congress, the federal government ,and the
White House since then? On drugs? On obesity? On smoking? On guns? On crime? On
Wall Street? On poverty? On racism? On crime itself? The crises have never
ended. They have been consecutively bumper-to-bumper. Dictatorships cannot
thrive on peace. They need crises to justify their rule.
Anne
O’Hare McCormick, writing for New York Times Magazine on May 7th,
1933, wrote approvingly of FDR’s power grab:
The American people, she
observed, “trust the discretion of the President more than they trust
Congress.” Rather than a seizure of power of the kind that had brought the
Bolsheviks or the Italian Fascists to power, the New Deal, she reported, rested
on mass popular consent that “vests the president with the authority of a
dictator. The authority is a free gift, a sort of unanimous power of attorney…all
the other powers – industry, commerce, finance, labor, farmer and householder,
State and city – virtually abdicate in his favor. America today literally asks
for orders….Nobody is much disturbed by the idea of dictatorship.”  (p. 123)
Katznelson
concludes his work in an Epilogue with a fearless, Pollyannish hope that America
may continue on its Progressive path of statism to consolidate a “new national
state,” one founded by FDR and the New Deal. Have Americans consequently
lost many of their liberties? Yes, answers Katznelson. But, C’est
la vie
.
But, is it
life? No. Americans should realize that dictatorships and statism are, at core,
profoundly anti-life. They ought to
be fearful of and disturbed by a government that regularly, daily, as a matter
of policy, robs them of the sovereignty of their own lives.
* Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins
of Our Time,
by Ira Katznelson. New York: Liveright/W.W. Norton, 2014. 720
pp.

No Honor at Brandeis University


I
had planned to begin this column with: Were I fortunate enough to meet her, and
provided her security detail didn’t pounce on me and wrestle me to the ground,
I would greet her by taking her hand and kissing it. It’s not often I get to
meet a real princess, someone of the stature of Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
Brandeis
University decided to snub Ayaan
Hirsi Ali
by withdrawing a promised honorary degree and disinviting her
from delivering a commencement address.  Since
“honor” is virtue in visible action (and not some ethereal glow
enveloping a person or institution), Brandeis made the dishonorable choice of
placing importance on what a terrorist-linked organization said about Hirsi Ali
and by cowering in the face of real or imagined Muslim anger over the woman’s
record of criticizing Islam, and, in this instance, her role in producing and
appearing in a Clarion Project film, Honor Diaries.
Brandeis
snubbed Hirsi Ali;
others just wished to silence her. Why do these parties wish to silence her?
Because they don’t want anyone else to know what Islam is all about. That’s
called censorship, or thought control.  
Why
did Brandeis cave? Primarily, for fear of retribution by Muslims, for fear it
would be called “Islamophobic” or endorsing “Islamophobia.”
 Secondly, it caved at the behest of an
alleged “civil liberties” organization, the Council on
American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Hamas-linked organization that is
basically a business-suited front for the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic
organizations (ICNA, ISNA, MPAC, MSA, etc., aside from the Saudi lobbies).  Ibrahim “the Howler” Hooper is its glib,
taqiyya-yadda-yadda spokesman. Taqiyya,
for those unfamiliar with the term, is the Muslim practice of saying one thing
in English, and laughing up one’s sleeve when the gullible press has packed up
its cameras and Ipads and left the room.  
On
April 8th CAIR issued this press
release
:
(WASHINGTON, D.C., 4/8/14)
— The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest
Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today called on Brandeis University
not to pay tribute to notorious anti-Muslim extremist Ayaan Hirsi Ali
with an honorary degree at its commencement on May 18.

You would swear that Brandeis
had planned to confer an honorary degree on Jesse James, or Al Capone, or even
on David Duke or George Wallace. Below that statement is a “Take
Action” button. And, indeed, buttons were pushed, the
anti-“Islamophobia” ones. On the same date, the Brandeis student
newspaper
“acted” and also urged the school to banish Hirsi Ali:
When the University announced
this year’s honorary degree recipients, one choice stood out—Ayaan Hirsi Ali.
As a Fellow with the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for
Science and International Affairs and the John F. Kennedy School of Government
at Harvard University and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute,
Hirsi Ali has raised awareness of violence against women, focusing on honor
killings and female genital mutilation.
Hirsi Ali, however, has been
outspoken about her Islamophobic beliefs. We urge University President
Frederick Lawrence to rescind Hirsi Ali’s invitation to receive an honorary
degree at this year’s commencement.
After
paying reluctant recognition of Hirsi Ali’s campaign against Islamic
persecution and oppression of women, the school, the editorial went on to say:
….Yet, her derogatory comments
toward Islam warrant a closer look at the administration’s choice to award her
a degree. In her 2010 memoir Nomad: From Islam to America, Hirsi Ali states
that Islam is “not compatible with the modern Westernised way of living,” that
“violence is an integral part [of Islam],” and that “Muhammad’s example is
terrible, don’t follow it.” These comments ignore the fact that there are
multiple views of Islam, insist that violence is inherent in Islam and that one
culture is fundamentally better than another. 
On
cue, the student editorial simply regurgitated
what CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad wrote to Brandeis President
Frederick M. Lawrence. That also qualifies as dishonorable “action.”
“Authorities” are alleging that faculty and students alike pushed for
Lawrence to disinvite Ali.
Lawrence,
undoubtedly cringing in a sauna sweat in his sumptuous office, issued the
obligatory statement
on April 8th:
Following a discussion today
between President Frederick Lawrence and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ms. Hirsi Ali’s name
has been withdrawn as an honorary degree recipient at this year’s
commencement. She is a compelling public figure and advocate for women’s
rights, and we respect and appreciate her work to protect and defend the
rights of women and girls throughout the world. That said, we cannot overlook
certain of her past statements that are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s
core values.  For all concerned, we regret that we were not aware of these
statements earlier.
Commencement is about celebrating
and honoring our extraordinary students and their accomplishments, and we are
committed to providing an atmosphere that allows our community’s focus to be
squarely on our students. In the spirit of free expression that has defined
Brandeis University throughout its history, Ms. Hirsi Ali is welcome to join us
on campus in the future to engage in a dialogue about these important issues.
On
Pamela Geller’s Atlas
Shrugs
site, Ali states that the revocation was not a result of a consultation
between her and President Lawrence:
Yesterday Brandeis University
decided to withdraw an honorary degree they were to confer upon me next month
during their Commencement exercises. I wish to dissociate myself from the
university’s statement, which implies that I was in any way consulted about
this decision. On the contrary, I was completely shocked when President
Frederick Lawrence called me — just a few hours before issuing a public
statement — to say that such a decision had been made.
The
Brandeis submission to Islam has generated numerous condemnations of Lawrence
and Brandeis, from the Wall
Street Journal
, to Robert Spencer on FrontPage
to Breitbart.
Fox’s Megyn
Kelly
cleans Ibrahim Hooper’s clock twice, having to repeatedly remind him that
her program is not offered as a platform for his high dudgeon piety about CAIR’s
“civil liberties” record, and having to correct his manners, as well.
CAIR,
in the meantime, issued another
press release
on April 9th, as a kind of victory lap of gloating
triumph for having made Brandeis cry “Uncle Hooper!” In it Awad names
his co-culprits.
In its statement announcing the
withdrawal of Ali’s invitation
,
the university said: “We cannot overlook that certain of her past
statements are inconsistent with Brandeis University’s
core values.”
We welcome the recognition by Brandeis University that honoring an anti-Muslim bigot like
Ayaan
Hirsi Ali
would amount to an endorsement of her
hate-filled and extremist views,” said CAIR National Executive Director
Nihad Awad.
“We would like to
thank all those who took part in the effort to expose Ali’s extremism and to
convince the university to take corrective action.”
Awad added: “This victory
over hate was achieved because the American Muslim community joined with
interfaith partners in presenting a unified front to challenge Ali’s
intolerance.”
He offered specific thanks to the
Brandeis Muslim Students Association, the
editors of The Justice student newspaper at Brandeis,
Tikun Olam blog editor Richard Silverstein,
Imam Suhaib Webb of the Islamic Society of
Boston Cultural Center, the Islamic Council of New England, Brandeis Professor Joseph Lumbard, and the many
Jewish activists and academics who joined in demanding that Brandeis
University
withdraw its invitation to Ali.
Awad said the issue was not
one of First Amendment rights
because “Ali remains free to spew her
anti-Muslim venom in any other venue,” but was instead about a prestigious
university not honoring a purveyor of religious bigotry.
Steve
Emerson’s The
Investigative Project
, Reuters,
the Associated
Press
, and even the New
York Times
thought the revocation was significant enough news to report,
albeit with varying tones of surprise and/or outrage or absence of outrage over
Brandeis’s “corrective action.”
One
aspect of CAIR’s “outrage” was the Clarion Project’s film, Honor
Diaries
, which it not only claimed was “Islamophobic,” and
because it was partly funded by “Jews,” but also because Ali’s AHA Foundation
helped to produce it. I have watched it, and frankly do not understand why
Hooper and his cronies object to it so strenuously. It is not in the least
“Islamophobic.” In fact, it is quite accommodating to Islam, because none
of the panelists or participants in it, including Ali herself, condemn Islam and
call for its repudiation. This is surprising, given Ali’s books Infidel
and Nomad.
As reported by Fox
News
, CAIR was instrumental in having showings of the film cancelled in a
number of universities.
But
in no instance do any of the women in the film repudiate or renounce Islam. Islam
is the chief subject of their discussions, and occasionally Hinduism. One of
the women is a Sikh. Most of the stills depict Muslims. The participants even
fearlessly pronounce “Islam” and “Muslims.” But many of the
women are practicing Muslims. While often their descriptions of their and
others’ treatment under Islam are horribly graphic and true, not once did I hear
them unreservedly condemn Islam.
Islam
is a totalitarian ideology. They suffered under it. Yet they do not condemn it.
They talk as though Islam can be “reformed” or recast as a tolerant,
humane creed. It can’t. It is, root, trunk, and branch as evil an ideology as
Nazism and Communism. I don’t think they were afraid to condemn Islam. I think
their statements about it reflect a profound ignorance of its ends, or a collective
delusion. To a woman, they stress that Islam’s depredations against women are
“cultural,” not “political.” They do not see that those
crimes – forced marriages of children and adult women, female genital
mutilation (FGM, or, what a friend prefers to call it, “female
castration”), the role of “honor,” and the ubiquity of “honor
killings” in Muslim and Western countries – are intrinsic to the ideology,
not aberrations or anomalies.
Two
segments of Honor Diaries impressed
me, and not positively. One indicated just how accommodating the film is to Islam.
This segment featured one of the participants, an American, Raquel Saraswati. She
had a pierced nose and a pierced lower lip. Her eyebrows looked painted on. She
wore the whole “approved” Muslim garb for women, including an
unflattering hijab, most of it
outlandishly decorated. The overall impression was that she could’ve been a
dancer for the Star Wars villain, Jabba
the Hut. At one point, the film showed her preparing to pray and praying. That segment
underscored the film’s, and the participants’, acceptance of Islam as a
legitimate creed.
The
second segment concerned a statement by another woman (who did not participate
in the group discussion), Dr. Qanta Ahmed, author of In
the Land of Invisible Women
. She claimed that FGM was not mentioned in the
Koran or in any of the related
scriptures. Perhaps not. But it is the subject in a principal ancillary work, The
Reliance of the Traveller
, a two-and-a-half pound, 1,232-page manual on
Islamic or Sharia law. A Wikipedia entry on this work describes it:
Umdat as-Salik wa ‘Uddat
an-Nasik
(Reliance of the Traveller and Tools of the Worshipper,
also commonly known by its shorter title Reliance of the Traveller) is a
classical manual of fiqh
for the Shafi’i
school of Islamic jurisprudence. The author of the main
text is 14th-century scholar Shihabuddin Abu al-‘Abbas Ahmad ibn an-Naqib
al-Misri
(AH 702-769 / AD 1302–1367). Al-Misri who based his work on the
previous Shafi’i works of Imam Nawawi and Imam Abu Ishaq
as-Shirazi
. Ibn Naqib follows the order of Shirazi’s al-Muhadhdhab (The
Rarefaction
) and the conclusions of Nawawi’s Minhaj at-Talibin (The
Seeker’s Road
). This work consists of the soundest positions of the Shafi’i
school.
Andrew
McCarthy, in his April 5th NRO article, “CAIR’s
Jihad against Honor Diaries
,”
cites the work, which, covering honor killings, the dress code for women, forced
marriages, wife-beating, and other nasty Islamic practices, definitely discusses
FGM. McCarthy cites the relevant section:
Female “circumcision”
is obligatory (although only recommended or considered “a mere courtesy to
the husband” in some Islamic legal schools); it consists of “removing
the prepuce of the clitoris.” (Reliance,
e4.3)
In
case you doubt McCarthy’s citation, here it is from the horse’s mouth,
Answering-Islam.org:
 
e4.3    Circumcision is
obligatory (O: for both men and women. For men it consists of removing the
prepuce from the penis, and for women, removing the prepuce (Ar. Bazr) of the
clitoris (n: not the clitoris itself, as some mistakenly assert). (A: Hanbalis
hold that circumcision of women is not obligatory but sunna, while Hanafis
consider it a mere courtesy to the husband.)”
Circumcision is obligatory for (every male and female) by cutting off the piece
of skin on the glans of the penis of the male, but circumcision of the female is by cutting out the clitoris (this
is called HufaaD). {bold emphasis ours}
The Arabic word bazr does
not mean “prepuce of the clitoris”, it means the clitoris itself (cf.
the entry in the Arabic-English
Dictionary
). The deceptive translation by Nuh Hah Mim Keller, made for
Western consumption, obscures the Shafi’i law, given by ‘Umdat al-Salik,
that circumcision of girls by excision of the clitoris is mandatory.
This particular form of female circumcision is widely practiced in Egypt, where
the Shafi’i school of Sunni law is followed.
It’s also practiced
in all Muslim countries, and even in the West. Andrew Bostom, on the other
hand, also cites official, accepted Islamic doctrine on the subject of FGM. In his
April 6th article, “Mainsream Islam Sanctions female ‘Circumcision/Genital
Mutilation of Muslim Women to Reduce Their ‘Concupiscece’
,” He wrote:
Umm Atiyyah al-Ansariyyah said: A
woman used to perform circumcision in Medina. The Prophet said to her: “Do not
cut severely as that is better for a woman and more desirable for a husband.”
[Sunan Abu Dawud, Chapter 1888, “Circumcision of
Girls”, Number 5251, from Sunan Abu Dawud, one of the six canonical
hadith collections, English translation with Explanatory notes by Prof. Ahmad
Hasan, 2007, Volume III, p. 1451]
The
great Muslim polymath al-Jahiz (d, 869) noted that female circumcision was
specifically employed as a means to reduce female “concupiscence,” unbridled
lust—or mere sexual pleasure, derived from a fully intact clitoris:
[Al-Jahiz,
Kitab al-hayawan, Vol. 7, pp. 27-29] A woman with a clitoris has more
pleasure than a woman without a clitoris. The pleasure depends on the quanityt
which was cut from the clitoris. Muhammad said, “If you cut, cut the slightest
part and do not exaggerate because it makes the face more beautiful and it
is more pleasing for the husband
.”
So,
FGM is nowhere mentioned in the Koran?
What about in the Hadith? Does it
matter which? Apparently, the U.S. Muslim Jurists Association endorses FGM. Mr.
Bostom has reported on that interesting development in his April 10th
article, “Mainstream
U.S. Muslim Jurists Association Sanctions Female Genital Mutilation
.” 
Now,
Dr. Ahmed may not be an authority on Islam or on any of its principal texts. However,
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is. In her own
segments, she does not correct Dr. Ahmed. It was incumbent upon her, as
executive producer, to contradict Ahmed. This is not a correction that could
have fallen through the cracks while editing the film. And, on her own AHA Foundation
site, it is noted on this page
that:
“FGM has no foundation in
Islamic scripture or law; however, in the West it is mainly practiced in Muslim
communities.”
Ali
did not correct Dr. Ahmed. I do not know what could be going through her mind.
This
is also why Honor Diaries is a
disappointment. This is also why CAIR can’t be that upset about the film.
There
was one noteworthy observation in the film, by clinical therapist Zainab Khan:
“How do you weaken people,
or handicap them? You take away their ability to make decisions for themselves.
You take that ability to decide what is right and wrong…”
Dear
Ladies: That is what Islam is all about – root, trunk, and branch.

The Death of Adult Movies

I
rarely frequent movie theaters these days. Box office ticket prices are not the
chief deterrent, nor the concession stand price of a barrel of popcorn or a box
of Raisinets. Talkative members of audiences, and eardrum-splitting volumes of
trailers are also deterrents, but they’re not why I avoid ticket windows.  Rather it’s what’s showing in the theaters
that stops me from sitting in the dark. I will make an exception, and pay for a
ticket, if I think I ought to see a film. If I make the effort, it’s because I
suspect there’s something odd about a film that I wouldn’t be able to identify
unless I saw it instead of being misled or repelled by its trailers.  
I
happen to love movies. Good movies. Ones that uplift me, or instruct me in the
art of storytelling, or enlighten me in some respect. But bad movies, or
mediocre ones, have the same effect on me as does Andy Warhol’s poster of
Campbell Soup cans. And there are far more of those films than there are of
that anti-artist’s thirty-two soup cans.
I
recently saw The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
I suspected that, like its predecessor,  it was more than just a story about a girl
good with a bow and arrow, coming from a circa 1930’s West Virginia-like coal
town, and populated with characters whose names seem to have been the result of
a Scrabble game with no rules. The setting wasn’t supposed to be a post-war or
post-anarchy America governed by PanAm – excuse me, “Panem” – an
oppressive government located in some high-tech run Imperial Rome-like city
that’s full of evil men and a populace of perversely effete, gaudily dressed
clowns entertained by a form of gladiatorial combat. The weird names — Katniss
Everdeen, Peeta Mellark, Finnick Odair, etc., all vaguely Celtic – didn’t fool
me one bit, either. It was all an allegory on America.
So
I learned that both Hunger Games
movies – I saw the first one, also, and there will be a third, to judge by the
ending of Number Two – were political statements about the evils of technology and
capitalism and civilization and how virtuous living the simple life at a subsistence
level trumps technology and cities and badly dressed people every time. The
“message” was as thoroughly embedded in it as it was in another
fantasy, Avatar.
As
the American consciousness has been progressively foreshortened, minimalized,
and cramped over several generations – chiefly by a public education philosophy
committed not so much to the acquisition of knowledge and the honing of one’s
cognitive powers and rationality, as to what the Progressives and the
government wish to have Americans focus on (anti-intellectualism, pragmatism,
conformity) – so has the “I.Q.” of films diminished in terms of
scope, scale and attention span. This has occurred, not overnight, but
incrementally, in generational jerks and spasms, in syncopated tandem with the
dumbing down and the engineered cognitive and cultural myopia.
Instead
of adapting novels that require a modicum of literacy and an extended attention
span to read and grasp – an attention span beyond what a text message or a
tweet demands – we are getting movies more and more adapted from graphic
novels. From comic books. And if not from comic books, then from juvenile or
“young adult” novels, or computer games.  And often a computer-game-inspired movie will
loop back into an advanced version of the game.
Left
behind in this scramble for boffo box office receipts and securing the
twenty-something and “tween” crowds are adults and adult themes and
subjects (and I don’t mean pornography). “Adult” themes and stories
are about individual heroism, or integrity, or mature but rational
relationships and conflicts, and even political issues and crime stories based
on a rational ethics.
Instead
of something like Seven Days in May, we get Olympus has Fallen. There
are no razzmatazz special effects in the former, nor any Korean terrorists (nor
any Islamic terrorists, for that matter, that wouldn’t be Sharia-Compliant; see
my column on that subject here),
just nonpareil direction, acting, and suspense, even though Burt Lancaster, as the
coup-plotting general was intended to be the incarnation of the “right
wing.” It’s the well-made films with the subtle, unemphasized
“messages” that are the effective and memorable films, as well as the
ones with no ostensive political or “social justice” messages at all,
such as the original The Browning Version, Leave Her to Heaven, or Laura.
Want
a gripping story of tragedy or personal conflict from an adult perspective? Try
Tunes of Glory, Tea and
Sympathy
, or The Runner Stumbles.
Want a good comedy? Try Hobson’s Choice,
His Girl Friday, The Ladykillers,
or Nothing Sacred. Want a
“romantic” movie that features “adult” conflicts without
showing an inch of flesh? Try Separate Tables, For Whom the Bell Tolls, or
Brief Encounter.
Either
you will not find their counterparts in modern movies, or if they’ve been
remade, they just don’t evoke short-term memory, never mind nostalgia. The
remakes especially are guilty of pointlessly changing names and situations to
appeal to the current generation or the current political mantra. Too often
those changes just don’t make the grade. You wonder why producers and directors
bother with a remake, until you see what they’ve done to the characters, the
story, and the theme. 
Needless
to say, I won’t be seeing Captain
America: The Winter Soldier
, just as I have refrained from seeing any
of the Dark Knight Trilogy, or any of
the other comic book-based action movies. I’m a full-grown adult. I don’t need
to be “entertained” by having my mind seared, scoured, and dulled by
endless car chases, exploding CGI space ships, incredible fight scenes that
induce mental whiplash, decibel-destroying automatic weapons, and flat
acting.  There should come a point in
anyone’s life when he should know that he’s being patronized and insulted at
the same time, but the capacity to make that connection is missing in more and
more adults. “We’re going to treat you like an adolescent, insult your
intelligence, and take your money, too.” No, thanks.
Someone
might ask: But aren’t these comic book movies upholding heroes and justice,
things you are for? I don’t know that this is true. When you project heroes and
justice outside the realms of reality, that might be fine for children and
adolescents exploring the value of heroism or moral issues for the first time,
but it hardly applies to adults. Children, adolescents and adults might get a
glimmering of how to solve a serious moral problem by watching Executive Suite, not Wall Street. Or Shane,
not The Wild Bunch.
About
a million words have already been written by reviewers and critics about Captain America, but few, to my
knowledge (and I’ve read a hefty number of them), observe the
adolescence-orientation of that film and its ilk, or they reveal that their
authors are oblivious or indifferent to the phenomenon. Mike Wilmington of Movie
City News
, however, wrote an ambivalent column about the pros and cons of Captain America: The Winter Soldier,
while still pining for something a little more substantial than the facile
razzle-dazzle of modern action thrillers or adventure films. He opens with:
In the mood for something
super-duper, movie-wise? Something loud, fast, full of crash-bang and
zip-zowie, and liable to make megazillions of dollars all around the world? Captain
America: The Winter Soldier
— which is the latest Marvel Comics super-hero
spectacular — may be  just your super-ticket.
I’m being facetious, but maybe
not super-facetious. The movie, directed by Anthony and Joe Russo, has a lot
going for it, though I think it’s being somewhat overrated. A super-hero
picture with a great two-faced super-villain, a super-jittery action camera,
super-CGI tricks, super-credit teasers, a shrewdly super-paranoid script, and a
sort of a heart, Captain America: The Winter Soldier definitely belongs in the
upper echelon of Marveldom, somewhere under Iron Man  and Spider-Man
2
, and somewhere above The Hulk and X-Men.
Discussing
the plot of Captain America,
Wilmington notes:
These nightmare fantasies of the
teen-targeted super-hero action movies (or SHAMS) and young adult movies (or
YAMs) — so wildly popular with younger audiences — are fashioned out of the
Marvel comic books of the ‘60s and ‘70s, which is when Marvel Comics main-man
writer-editor Stan Lee wrote a lot of his best stuff and when I read a
lot of it), and this Captain America (created for the comics by Joe Simon
and Jack Kirby) is a left-wing
movie
that makes its villains part of the military-industrial complex:
self-righteous militarists who want to take over the world, and programmed
mercenaries like the Winter Soldier himself. [Italics mine]
That
observation can also be applied to the differences between the original The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
and the remake (2004). The
first was about a Communist conspiracy to install a president friendly to
Communism. The second was about a capitalist plot to install a president
friendly to capitalism. Some pundits have called President Barack Obama a
“Manchurian Candidate.” However, I’d call him the Ayers/Soros/Alinsky
candidate. I might also add that when it comes to portraying a conspiring,
manipulative mother-bear bitch, Meryl Streep can’t hold a candle to Angela
Lansbury.
Wilmington
asks:
Is it a bad joke that this truly
super art form is now often most expensively used to make ultra-costly versions
of old comic books (even good old comic books) and new young adult novels (even
good ones), intended for a world-wide audience of teenagers, and
people who seem to want to be teenagers? Are we so steeped in teen fantasies…
that the real world and all the magnificent stories you can cull from it are
relegated mostly to the smaller budgets and cheaper seats?
No,
it isn’t a bad joke. Something unfunny is at work. What is responsible for the
“reimagining” of older material is moral and esthetic bankruptcy,
with directors, producers, and most Hollywood studios suffering from selective
autism, with a strong strain of Alinskyite target-and-destroyism.  
Wilmington’s
plaintive remarks echo the subject of Diana West’s seminal critique of American
culture, The
Death of the Grownup: How America’s Arrested Development is Bringing Down
Western Civilization
(reviewed here).
In
my column, “Maturity
Deferred: The Death of the Grown-up
,” I wrote:
West’s central thesis is that our
culture has ossified into a “perpetual adolescence,” even though the Baby
Boomer generation is nearing or at the age of retirement. That generation was
sired and raised by the “greatest generation,” one of adults and even
adolescents who fought World War Two in combat overseas and in the factories at
home.
The “greatest generation,”
however, in turn raised a not-so-great generation many of whose members became
the creators and proponents of or adherents to the rebellious “counterculture”
of the 1960’s and 1970’s, with its pronounced leftist, collectivist and
nihilist means and ends. If members of that generation did not actively take
part in the assault on the status quo, then they passively accepted a besieged
status quo as mere powerless spectators.
West
diagnoses part of the problem, as I note in my column:
Throughout her book West cites
numerous instances of adults abdicating or never discovering their
responsibilities as thinking, reasoning adults. She defines two species of this
state of purported adult “adolescence,” a condition she also claims is
exacerbated by multiculturalism and diversity:
A reluctance to assert or
champion “adult” values one knows are superior, or a fear to assert them, lest
one be accused of something terrible (fascism, elitism, or racism) by the
enemies of those values;
An indoctrinated ignorance of or
hostility to any values that are demonstrably superior.
Lest
anyone accuse me of retreating to the past, let him. Today’s culture and arts are
not mine. I am not so much alienated from the culture, as it is alien to everything
I hold dear. And I think that anyone who has read this column up to this point would
agree that they’re grown-ups, too.

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