The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

Month: November 2014

The Turkey Was a Racist

In an act of craven political correctness, The Indianapolis Star altered, then withdrew an
allegedly “racist” or “bigoted” cartoon
from its website. Yesterday, November 23rd,  the New
York Times
crowed:
The
Indianapolis Star removed a cartoon from its website over the weekend after
readers complained that the drawing was racist for depicting an immigrant
family climbing through a window to crash a white family’s Thanksgiving dinner.
The
newspaper should not have published the cartoon, the paper’s executive editor,
Jeff Taylor, said in a statement on Saturday. The cartoon, by the
artist Gary Varvel, featured a white father unhappily telling his family,
“Thanks to the president’s immigration order, we’ll be having extra guests this
Thanksgiving….”
“This
action is not a comment on the issue of illegal immigration or a statement
about Gary’s right to express his opinions strongly. We encourage and support
diverse opinion,” Mr. Taylor wrote. “But the depictions in this case were
inappropriate; his point could have been expressed in other ways.”
Come again? It was not a comment on the “issue
of illegal immigration
”? Are my eyes deceiving me? It was actually about a
bar mitzvah that was being crashed by clowns? Maybe it was a psychedelic
rendition of Alice in Wonderland crashing the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party?
The cartoon was not about Obama nixing the Keystone
Pipeline. It was about Obama’s executive
order
granting permanent status to five million illegal immigrants, who
will be supported by American taxpayers’ expense, and eligible for most “entitlements”
and privileges. That’s the father’s unspoken implication. But then, what does
he know? He’s just another “stupid” American voter.
Many
readers took issue with the heavy mustache worn by the immigrant father when
the cartoon was posted on Friday. The mustache was later removed from the
cartoon before the entire cartoon was taken down.
Mr.
Taylor said that the cartoonist did not intend to be “racially insensitive” or
for the cartoon to be read literally.
Oh! That troublesome, telltale moustache! Anyone wearing
a bushy moustache is automatically Mexican or Central American. Ask Einstein. Or Mark Twain. Or Frederick Douglass. They
were all Mexicans. And illegal immigrants, too.  Or perhaps they were secret Italian-Americans,
like Jerry
Colonna
!
I propose other versions of that cartoon that would
be equally “offensive,” perhaps even “bigoted”:
A
black family’s Thanksgiving dinner invaded by Mexicans, Iraqis, or Jerry
Colonna’s family.
A
Muslim family’s Thanksgiving dinner invaded by whites, blacks, or Asians, with
or without moustaches or hats. (The turkey, by the way, would be halal, that is, slaughtered so that it
bled to death in agony, an untouchable Islamic “custom.” Also, the blonde wife
would show bruises on her face from having been beaten by the husband; the daughter
is absent from the table; she was honor killed a while back by the husband,
wife, and her brother.)
An
Asian family’s Thanksgiving dinner invaded by a black family, with or without
moustaches.
A
white family’s Thanksgiving dinner invaded by former Mexican president Vicente Fox and his family.
(Fox would be hatless, and wearing a dinner jacket and tie; his wife would be
in a gorgeous evening gown.)
An
interactive cartoon that lets one choose with the click of a mouse the ethnicity
of the Thanksgiving family, and the
ethnicity of the invading family, and their attire. Vegetarian readers could
replace the turkey with a sculpted mound of rabbit food.
A
gay or transgender family’s (race optional) Thanksgiving dinner invaded by
obviously wild-eyed homophobic whites (or blacks, Latinos, Asians, Iraqis, or Muslims).
A
family’s Thanksgiving dinner (ethnicity, gender composition, and attire
optional) being invaded by Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty. The turkey on the
platter could be replaced with a richly basted duck. Phil and his family were
expected guests. Thus making the father’s remark about executive orders
superfluous.
A
family’s Thanksgiving dinner (ethnicity, gender composition, and attire
optional) being invaded by American Indians (tribe optional), led by Elizabeth
Warren
in a pants suit and war paint.
Would anyone be able to  recognize Hitler, Josef Stalin, Charlie
Chaplin, Clark Gabel, or Salvador Dali without their moustaches? Perhaps,  perhaps not. It depends on your powers of
observation. But the Star’s moustache issue is as bogus as a seven-cent nickel.
But the Star fell for it.
It assumed that Varvel’s cartoon had the
metaphysical power of “harming” or “hurting” anyone of the Latino persuasion. We’ve
heard that one before, from Muslims.
I sent this letter to The Indianapolis Star. It
says everything else I’d want to say about this issue.
Karen
Ferguson, Publisher
Jeff
Taylor, Senior Editor
Gary
Varvel
The
Indianapolis Star
Sirs,
Mesdames:
I
am a columnist for Rule of Reason, Capitalism Magazine, and Family Security
Matters. My principal blog site is: http://ruleofreason.blogspot.com/.  My columns are
picked up worldwide.
In
reference to the Thanksgiving cartoon by Mr. Varvel, and the “uproar” over it,
including charges that it was “racist,” I’ll be writing my own column soon on
this subject.  My main point will be that I think all parties are missing
the point, and that the objections to the cartoon are spurious and demonstrably
politically motivated. Frankly, I fail to see that the skin color of the
invading “Hispanics,” “Mexicans,” or what-have-you climbing through the window,
with his family in the background, is any darker than that of the white
family’s.  If there is a difference, it’s an issue of micro-measurement.
 Or it’s people seeing what they want to see.
Then,
the whole business of the character’s moustache is quite laughable. When I
first saw the cartoon, I thought Mr. Varvel was resurrecting the ghost of Saddam
Hussein in a baseball cap. Or perhaps a caricature of another Iraqi (“Bagdad
Bob”?). Of Jerry Colonna, perhaps?  The last thing I’d have
imagined that it was supposed to be stereotypical rendering of a Mexican or
other Central American nationality. It might have been perceived as “racist”
had Mr. Varvel crowned the figure with a sombrero.
But,
even then, it’s an issue of freedom of speech. And of taste. Had Al Hirschfeld
and other noted caricaturists of the past lived in our time, their careers
would not have left the ground. Then there’s the issue of the Mohammad
cartoons. I happen to have participated in the protest against the protest
against Muslim objections to the cartoons by doing a rendering of a
cigar-chomping Groucho Marx in a turban as Mohammad on “You Bet Your Life”
(“Say the secret word and I’ll spare your neck.”).
The
Star ought not to have pulled Mr. Varvel’s cartoon or fruitlessly altered it to
remove the “offending” moustache. Apologizing for having published it was even
worse. There is a trend towards censorship by “popular consensus” in
this country and the Star’s backpedaling action over that cartoon is just
another instance of it.
I’ll
send you a link to the column when it’s posted.
Edward
Cline
Have a great Thanksgiving, folks.

A Rational Scrutiny Sampler

Taking a break from all the doleful and depressing
news running riot in the MSM and the Internet and from around the nation and
world, and also from reading a superb book on the Montesorri System which I
will review later, I have decided to post a sampler of Rational Scrutiny: Paradoxes and Contradictions in Detective Fiction (Patrick
Henry Press, 2014), which is available as a print
book
, on Kindle,
and as an audio
book
. (With the odd exception of The
Pickwick Affair
, the print editions also are all available at Barnes &
Noble, if you prefer to give them your custom instead.)
In this Sampler I highlight some of my prefatory
remarks on the four Chess Hanrahan detective novels and on the seven Cyrus
Skeen novels. To wit:
In this volume of nonfiction I present
excerpts from novels featuring my own two fictional private detectives who take
the “intellectual” approach to solving crimes: Chess Hanrahan, who
specializes in solving “moral paradoxes,” and Cyrus Skeen, a denizen
of the third decade of the last century. Both are college graduates and
veterans of the New York City Police Department. Hanrahan went to Fordham
University, quit the force after a tongue-lashing by a district attorney, and
became a private detective. Skeen is a World War I era Yale graduate who spent
a short time on the force as a plainclothesman before following his avocation
of writing short stories, and moved to San Francisco where he gleaned most of
his story ideas from his private investigations.
Readers of the print and Kindle editions
of their stories (and also patrons of the audio book editions) will be familiar
with their “inner narrations” or spells of introspection as they sort
through a whirlpool of facts, appearances, and chimeras. Hanrahan operates on a
motto he culled from a philosophy student’s test paper: Nothing that is observable in reality is exempt from rational scrutiny.
Skeen has no motto, and later in his series is moving away from short story
writing to publishable essays that plumb the motivations of the criminal mind.
Hanrahan’s motto could just as well have
read: Everything that is observable in
reality is subject to rational scrutiny.
However, the negative form of the
question or proposition better emphasized a universal rule of investigation for
the paradox-busting sleuth than did the positive form. Hanrahan, introduced in With Distinction as the chief of police
of a university town, is still licking his wounds after being called on the
carpet by a district attorney and the press over his killing a criminal who was
about to do him harm. In the course of investigating the murder of a philosophy
professor at the school, he befriends a graduate student who instructs him in
the importance of philosophy. The lesson enables Hanrahan to revive his
self-confidence enough that he returns to New York City and opens his own
investigation agency. I developed and “matured” Hanrahan in each
subsequent title as I went along.
 Here, one by
one, I encapsulate the problems with which Chess Hanrahan and Cyrus Skeen are
presented:



Chess Hanrahan,
chief of police of East Auberley, Massachusetts, home to Sloan University,
receives a call that a philosophy professor has been found dead in his office.
Hanrahan determines almost immediately that it was not a suicide, as was
originally suspected, but a murder. What he does not understand is why anyone
would want to murder a philosophy professor. As he progresses in his
investigation, he begins to develop a respect for the murder victim and
philosophy.
I never met a philosophy teacher who wouldn’t look down
his nose at students or laymen because they couldn’t make sense of his screwy
symbolic equations, or grasp the import of his quotation from some super word
salad system of a modern thinker. And I never met one whom I didn’t suspect
felt smug and safe about it, either.
Back in New York
City and having opened a private investigation agency, one of his first major
“paradox-busting” cases involves the obvious murder of a novelist,
Gregory Compton, who has won a major literary prize – but who has apparently
rejected the prize. He is hired by the foundation that awards the yearly prize
to find Compton, who has gone missing. In the course of the story, Hanrahan
gets a peek into the literary and publishing world and doesn’t much like what
he observes. Along the way he encounters some pleasant people but more unsavory
ones. In the beginning, he speaks with Edgar Atherton, head of the Granville
Foundation.
I obliged and had a seat. There were magazines on a glass
coffee table and also a pile of long gray pamphlets. Under the silhouette of a
unicorn were the words, in flowing script, The
Eunice Davies-Granville Memorial Foundation
. I picked one up and read it.
It was a history of the organization with a statement of
its goals and a list of the past winners of the Prize and of its grant awardees
for the previous year. Some of the Prize winners’ names I recognized; most I
didn’t. And I’d never heard of any of the people who’d won the grants. Under
each name was a description of the project the grantee had been given money to
complete. The projects included such things as “A Study of the Culture,
Language, and Customs of Southern California Surfers,” “A Photo-History of
Polit­ical Campaign Buttons in the United States,” “The Evolu­tion of Basque
Cuisine,” and “A Portrait of Agricultural Life in Pre-Colonial Tanzania.”
The
third novel featuring Chess Hanrahan pits the detective against an especially
challenging nemesis: The State Department; he is faced with the paradox of a
peace treaty that concedes all the advantages to an enemy of the United States,
in this case, the Soviet Union (the novel was finished in 1987, not published
until 2010).
The murders of a friend and his fiancée
in the very beginning sends Hanrahan on a quest to identify the murderer and
his motive. It brings him face to face with another insulated priesthood –
diplomats – and in conflict with Soviet strongmen and the FBI. The dedication
page of
Presence of Mind, appropriately for the novel and for this
volume, quotes Edith Hamilton in her
The Echo of Greece:”The Greeks did not want the transcendental and the mysterious.
They wanted the truth and they never thought it could be found by escaping from
the real.”
But
he first encounters an old high school flame, Fay, in an art museum. He reaches
back into his youth.
Fay uttered a pensive hum, then said,
“Have you any idea how mad I was at you when you asked me out and I
turned you down, and you said ‘Suit yourself’? after that long pause, and then
walked away? I was furious! You did it in such a way that I felt I’d been
sentenced to the gallows, or condemned to go dateless until dead. And you never
spoke to me again. Just ignored me. Our entire senior year. You always had that
attitude problem, Chess. I think it’s even worse now.”
In this last
Hanrahan case, the detective clashes with the theater world and Hollywood.  By story’s end, he is also injured – almost
mortally – but his reward is marriage to a siren of stage and screen. His
curiosity is piqued when he sees the name of a respected biographer of
historical persons in the credits of a film farce about Galileo,
Falling Bodies, as the screenwriter. He has read several of the historian’s works,
and cannot believe the man had anything to do with the film. He learns that the
putative screenwriter had been murdered. But why? It was a paradox.
But first, he
angers a client, a wealthy widow and philanthropist, by telling her that he
found her missing son but will not tell her where he is. His dislike of philanthropists
is evident.
The Sismonds of San Francisco were
very wealthy. George L. Sismond, five years deceased, had made millions long
ago in Pacific shipping, then retired to live long enough to establish,
apparently at his wife’s behest, the George L. Sismond Foundation for Social
Concerns and Problems. His wife succeeded him as chairman of its board of
directors. That is, she alone identified concerns and established problems….
Mrs. Sismond then explained the goals
of her foundation, and how a possibly scandalous incident might damage its
reputation. I was familiar with the Sismond Foundation for Social Concerns and
Problems. It was a very wealthy, and very loopy organization, as such
organizations go. It was famous for donating money in equal sums to
antithetical causes. It subsidized the legal expenses incurred by opposing
parties in libel suits, class action suits against small companies, and
discrimination suits against private clubs and associations. It
contributed to classical ballet and avant-garde
dance and “movement” companies, to realist and abstract schools of art, to
traveling folk art collections, and to classical music academies and folk music
festivals. It donated generously to public television stations and to programs
to house hobos and programs to “reeducate” juvenile delinquents.
Cyrus
Skeen debuts in this novel, set in San Francisco in December 1928. He is a
scion of Eastern wealth, independent in means, a reluctant and controversial
member of San Francisco “society,” and a short story writer under a
closely guarded penname. He is opposed to Prohibition, knows many bootleggers
and is concerned about the expansion of government controls over the country,
exemplified by the Sixteenth and Eighteenth Amendments. He has just returned
from a European tour
and notes with delight a change in look
in his secretary, Dilys Jones, who works at his detective agency.
Skeen is better prepared to
observe reality and subject it to rational scrutiny than is Chess Hanrahan. He
does not thrive in a culture that discourages thinking and the pursuit of
justice; Hanrahan endures his culture; Skeen has free reign in thought and
deed.  Political correctness in speech
and in action is unknown to Skeen. He is as worldly as Hanrahan, but his mind
is not solely focused on crime.
Skeen also has a pair of
friends from his Yale days; both are critics of the stage and screen. When he
meets them for an anniversary dinner, he walks in on an acerbic spat between
them over the winner of a controversial play, Olympus Deferred. Here Skeen
exhibits his knowledge of the culture. He is asked by one of his friends what
he thought of the play.
I choked on that play,” said Skeen, “because it had nothing
to do with me.”
“How do you mean?”
“I mean that Olympus Deferred is the slickest
paean to transcendentalism I’ve ever seen, Herb. Ninety percent of the serious
drama penned and produced — and a significant volume of sly boots comedy — says
the same things as does Olympus, but not nearly as well. Olympus
answers no questions, takes no sides, and resolves no issues. It hands approval
to both the hero, who isn’t one, and to the anti-hero, who isn’t anything. It
bequeaths happiness to the weakling and pain to the misanthrope. In a deft
sleight-of-hand it sustains — not challenges — the very conflict you’d expect
it to resolve. It preaches tolerance for the coward and the frightened, and
tolerance for the loner. It rations equal portions of value between the manqué
 and the firebrand. It’s a vehicle of nihilism,
Herb, the best yet to walk a stage and send people’s minds abuzz. Everybody
goes away happy; nobody is asked to take sides; nothing is affirmed or denied.
In that respect,
Olympus is not controversial.”
Skeen is approached
by a famous (or notorious) defense attorney to find incontrovertible evidence
that his client, Enoch Paige, did not brutally slay his ex-wife over the
possession of rare Hiram Powers bust of the head of Athena. Paige is a famous
(or notorious) lecturer on atheism and religion. Skeen, an atheist who does not
flaunt his unbelief, takes a disliking to Edgar Freund, the attorney, but
agrees to investigate.
In the course of
the story, he has a conflict with Detective Sergeant Robert Hoile, a Catholic
whose fiancée was kidnapped and murdered by gangsters years before and hates
atheists; with Oswald Hoxley, a Protestant preacher; and with wealthy Donald
Nugent, who was once the lover of Esmee Planchet, Paige’s ex-wife. Skeen has a
new secretary, Lucy Wentz, who is in love with her employer but knows he is
devoted to his wife, Dilys, who is back East visiting relatives. Skeen begins
his investigation by reading recent newspaper accounts of the sensational
murder of Esmee Planchet. But first he is first approached by Edgar Freund
during a concert.
Skeen had indeed heard of him, and now recalled the face
from newspaper snapshots of him from past articles. Edgar Freund was one of the
most notorious trial attorneys in the country.
He lived in the city but spent much of his time in other
parts of the country representing defendants other lawyers were reluctant to
touch, such as indicted politicians, murderous gangsters, and psychopathic
killers. He did not win all his cases; in those he lost, he usually managed to
win a reduction of charges or sentence for his clients. He was a founding
member of the Christian Trial Lawyers Association, and a noted advocate of
judicial reform and the direct election of all justices, from county circuit
judges on up to the Supreme Court — and of all U.S. senators. He had written a
book a few years ago, Monkeyshines, which blasted Clarence Darrow’s
politics and his conduct at the Scopes trial. The book had sold well. He and
his partners had offices on Drumm Street, on the fringe of the financial
district, where they maintained a very lucrative corporate law practice.
When Charles Gilchrist, the
director of the Daedâlus Society, a private all-men’s club, asks Cyrus Skeen to
attend its annual summer encampment near Monte Rio, California, north of San
Francisco to investigate possible trouble, the detective agrees to attend the
event. His only clues are cryptic notes sent to the director inveighing against
tariff legislation awaiting action by Congress. Appended to the bill is a rider
that would ban the importation of questionable foreign books and literature.
The Society boasts the membership of dozens of prominent businessmen,
politicians, academics, and other public figures. The potential trouble may be
just a prank – or it might mean an assassination plot. Skeen’s job is to find
out which, and, if possible, to prevent it.
It is the summer of 1929.
Skeen travels up to the Daedâlus Grove on his first case outside the city. The
Grove is set in the middle of a Redwood forest, and the hundreds of attendees
are assigned cabins to share with others. Skeen quickly adjusts to the bucolic
and casual ambience of the place.  He
identifies several potential pranksters, but no credible assassins, but he does
meet several politicians to whom he takes an instant dislike, and they to him.
These are U.S. Senator Brand Olcutt of Nebraska, a bible-thumping sponsor of a
new tariff bill, and his ally in Congress, Abraham Voland, a U.S.
Representative for a San Francisco district. In the Society director’s office,
Skeen and Gilchrist discuss the Society itself. Gilchrist apologizes for the
Society’s reputation as a Dionysian frolic.
Skeen chuckled at the man’s discomfiture. “Pardon me, Mr.
Gilchrest, but the Daedâlus Society has all the reputation and good name as had
the Hellfire Club of old Britain.”
Gilchrest shook his head and clucked his tongue. “I can
assure you, Mr. Skeen, that the stories that circulate about the Society are
exaggerated and pure fiction. Malicious gossip perpetuated by newspapers and
radicals and others of that sort.”
Skeen said nothing. He had been told stories about the
pranks and behavior of Society members by tipsy, boastful members of the club
at past Nob Hill parties. But, even discounting exaggeration and inebriated
memories, nothing he had heard about the Society reflected a sterling
reputation above reproach. He smiled at the chairman in tactful dismissal.
“Well,” said Gilchrest with some relief that Skeen had not
tried to rebut him, “I will admit that occasionally, during these retreats,
some of our members allow their high-jinks to get out of hand and go beyond a
modicum of decency and decorum.  occurs
that deserves the besmirching of the Society’s name. Its charity and
philanthropic works should more than eclipse such mean, spiteful talk.”
“I’m sure they do, sir.”
Skeen was willing to drop the subject. But the chairman was
too annoyed by Skeen’s doubts. “Besides, the time spent by our members and
their guests in the refreshing embrace of the great redwoods serves a
therapeutic purpose. For a while, they can discard the cares, duties, and
responsibilities of their public lives and careers.” Gilchrest smiled. “Who can
blame some of them for becoming pickled on occasion?”
Skeen smiled. “You mean that they can relive their
care-free, careless boyhoods, without fear of the restraining hands or the
leather straps of their parents. Smoke behind the wood shed, curse without
censure, and look at French postcards.”
In November 1929,
Lucian Maxey, president of Maxey Motors in San Francisco, seems to have
committed suicide by putting a gun to his head. The recent stock market crash
may have moved him to join the hundreds of other businessmen who committed
suicide after their financial ruin. The medical examiner, however, and the
police have written off the death as a suicide. But Maxey Motors is solvent.
Why would he commit suicide? Here, Skeen interviews the dead man’s son.
Eugene Maxey, the
son, a professor at Stanford University, meets Skeen in Palo Alto, and hires him
to prove that his father was murdered. But then Skeen discovers that the man
who hired him is not the real Eugene Maxey, but an imposter. The check given to
him as an advance on his expenses, bounces. He is drawn into a bizarre
conspiracy that leads to a twisting trail of lies and a bushel of half-truths, connected
with strange organization based near Cambridge University in England, an
organization with ties to the burgeoning Nazi Party in Germany.
“Fascinating,” remarked Skeen. “Now – Why
don’t you think your father committed suicide?”
“Because he wasn’t the suicidal type. He hated guns
more than he hated me. He never owned one. He wouldn’t even allow me to have a
child’s cap pistol inside his home.” Maxey paused. “It was alleged
that he used one on himself, in his office.” 
“Yes, I know. I’ve read all the newspaper accounts. ”
Skeen took another sip of his coffee.” The police were confident that he shot
himself.”
“He supposedly killed himself in the evening, long
after hours. Everyone in his office had left, and except for the night watchman,
my father was the only one left in the entire building. At least, that’s what
the night watchman said. He wasn’t discovered until the next morning, when his
secretary came in.”
Skeen tamped out his cigarette. “Did he leave a
note?”
“No. Not in his office, nor at home.”
“What is it you wish me to do, Mr. Maxey?”
“Prove that someone murdered him, and identify that
person.”
Skeen hummed in thought. “Why do you say your father
wasn’t the suicidal type?”
Maxey sat back in his seat. “Whatever else I may have
thought about his character, I would concede he was too vital a man. I mean, he
was too alive. He may have been harsh with me and Jonah, and could be cruel
beyond description, but he was never, well… dark. Or given to moods, or to
depression.”
“I don’t believe in suicidal ‘types,’ Mr.
Maxey.”Depending on the circumstances, anyone, even a person imbued with
the maximum of vitality, can commit suicide.”
Fast on the heels
of rooting out and exposing the existence of a circle of Nazi sympathizers in
Palo Alto and of a national organization of them, the beginning of 1930 sees
Skeen abruptly confronted with a cadre of Communist agents planted in San
Francisco by the Soviet Union. He and Dilys meet a charming but, when the
occasion justifies it, a tart-tongued sculptress during a Nob Hill soiree,
Fiona Nesbitt. She inexplicably leaves Skeen a claim ticket to a parcel that
turns out to be a list of Soviet agents in the American and British
governments. She is subsequently and inexplicably murdered. Skeen learns she
was a British spy.
He commits himself
to solving her murder, knowing full well that he might be wading into something
far over his head and beyond his capacity to act upon or against. Untarnished
and unafraid, and being a man of honor, he steps into the “mean streets”
of international espionage.
At the soiree, a
glittering affair of tuxedos, gowns, and ample alcohol, Skeen engages some
attendees on the subject of President Herbert Hoover and what he should do
about the stock market crash in October and the catastrophic effects on the
country.
“But, what do you think Hoover should do?” asked
the first man.
Skeen chuckled. “Admit that the government has done a
poor job of managing the economy, and chuck the Federal Reserve, rein in the
Treasury, and let the market take its course, to let it separate the wheat from
the weeds. But, that won’t happen. He’s a committed humanitarian. I fully
expect he will introduce some petit
fascist programs, per his associationalist creed. He’s all for
government-business partnerships.”
Two of the men gasped in surprise. One protested,
“What a terrible thing to say about a man whose heart is in the right
place!”
“His heart may be in the right place, sir, but you
will eventually pay the price for it. And, some day, someone will take him
seriously and go whole-hog with that associationalism.”
“Like that Roosevelt fellow in New York?” mused
another man. “He’s angling for
the White House, so I’ve heard.”
“Yes, I think he is,” said Skeen, nodding.
“That was one thing I learned from the Maxey affair last November. And you
can be sure that Roosevelt would have little use for Mr. Mellon as Secretary of
the Treasury. Not that Mr. Hoover listens to him much. I wouldn’t be surprised
if some political cabal was cooked up to oust Mr. Mellon. The charges against
him would be specious, of course, anything that would cast a shadow of a doubt
over his character and policies, a little thing blown up to gargantuan
proportions. ‘Mr. Mellon is known to kick his dog, imbibe whisky in the rose
garden, and is reputed to be stingy when leaving gratuities to waiters in the
best restaurants.’ That level of thing, you see, whether true or founded on
mere back-fence gossip, would be enough. They’d form an investigating committee
and subpoena his valet and grocer for damning testimony.”
The man who welcomed Skeen to the group chuckled.
“You have the most entertaining way of pole-axing our politicians,
sir!”  
In
February 1930, Skeen is already investigating, on his own time, with no charge
to his client, a horrendous murder when he
 is drawn into another investigation of a
similarly gruesome killing. The first case involves the savage murder of a
young Jewish girl. After some breathing room from his last case, which pitted
him against Communist spies and fifth columnists, Cyrus Skeen is confronted
with a new problem and a new peril: Islam.
When
the police are unable to solve the girl’s murder, her father privately asks
Skeen to investigate and possibly find the killer. The crime is of a nature and
hideousness unknown to Skeen or any of his colleagues, or even to the city, and
he fails. But then a new murder is reported, of a maverick newspaper reporter
on the run from vengeful religious police, and Skeen is able to link the two
murders. Is the relic the murdered man stole genuine, or a fake?
Set
in San Francisco in February 1930, Skeen moves around in a familiar milieu
dampened by the Depression and the growth of Hooverville shanty towns of
foreclosed and impoverished men in the shadow of the city’s wealthier
neighborhoods. “Reality,” Skeen tells his wife, “has called in
its markers” of inflation and fatal government management of the economy.
Dilys, his wife, is beginning a new painting, and Skeen’s first political
article has been accepted in a prominent cultural magazine. At the end of The
Chameleon, Skeen had told his wife that “Something wicked this way
comes.”  Skeen has been reading up
on Islam. He and his wife over breakfast are astonished by its eclectic
practices and mythology.
Did you know,” Skeen asked casually
over breakfast the next morning, “that Mohammedans, when they go on a
pilgrimage to Mecca, must walk counter-clockwise around the Kaaba seven times,
and run between some hills looking for water, and perform a schedule of other
rituals, all designed to make them feel like silly, worthless asses?”
 “Kaaba?” asked Dilys, who was paying
only half attention to her husband. “Sounds like a Greek dish, smothered
in the finest feta cheese sauce, and best served with ouzo.” She was
reading the morning Observer-World. She had fixed a breakfast of scrambled
eggs, bacon, and toast. Skeen had just poured himself a second coffee and was
on his first cigarette of the day. He was reading from notes he had made last
night in his study and had passed the newspaper over to Dilys.
“The Kaaba,” read Skeen,
“is a cube-like structure smack in the middle of an open-air mosque about
the size of Kezar Stadium, about forty-four feet high and fifty in length.
Other scholars reverse the dimensions. It is built of granite on the outside,
marble on the inside. It sits on a spot, according to Mohammedan lore, that
Allah designated that Adam and Eve should build a temple, or an altar.”
Skeen paused. “Of course, that story must have been concocted after the
Kaaba had been a pagan shrine for an undetermined number of centuries, housing
scores of other deities. Allah’s own genealogical antecedents seem to be rooted
in a moon god of fecundity.”
Dilys looked up from the newspaper. She
said, wearing an incredulous but amused frown, “You’re making that
up.”
Skeen shook his head, and smiled
wickedly. “Great material for a stand-up comedy monologue at the Fantasma
Theater.”
While Cyrus Skeen
operates his private investigations during the Prohibition Era, he has never
tangled directly with bootleggers, rumrunners, or even with Revenuers, or
agents of the Bureau of Prohibition. He knows bootleggers and rumrunners, and
has contacts in the organizations that bring in contraband alcohol to the city.
They are the source of his own stock of illegal liquor in his office and at
home. They, like him, are partly motivated by a defiance of government diktats
and assertions that “good citizens are sober citizens.”
But, when he and
Dilys, on an adventure, take a week-long round-trip bus to Seattle and back to
San Francisco, the super bus is diverted and held up just outside of Medford,
Oregon, by what appears to be gangsters armed with Tommy guns. Before the
hold-up becomes more perilous to the passengers, Skeen acts and foils the
operation, killing most of the gangsters with a gun he had taken from the
gang’s “inside man.” What he eventually learns from the deputy
sheriff of the county – and it is not much of a surprise to him – is that
nearly all the gang members were Revenue agents. It was an open secret of the
time that most Revenue agents, regional directors, mayors, and even police
forces, seized the stocks of illegal liquor for resale through their own
contacts in the business, and that graft and extortion were rife.
He learns that,
because there was no liquor being secretly transported on the bus, the gangsters
were after one of the passengers, a master bootlegger who had been hurting the
smuggling business of the Revenuers’ own gang. That man suddenly walks into his
office, seeking help. Over dinner that night, the man says:
“It’s my opinion that the populace is paying for the mistakes
and errors in judgment committed by every member of the Women’s Christian
Temperance Union – WicTooers, as those of us in the trade like to call the rank
and file of that pernicious organization, the chief mover behind the whole
prohibition movement – who hooted and hollered about their husbands’ drinking
excesses. After all, the members of that ignoble outfit were the ones who
married their drunkard, spendthrift husbands in the first place. Instead of
divorcing the louts, or taking a frying pan to them, they arm-twisted
politicians into punishing the whole country for their spouses’ inordinate
forays into states of semi-consciousness.
“The penalty should fall upon those ladies and
harridans, and not upon the whole country!”
“I’m inclined to agree with Mr. Early,” said
Skeen. “With this reservation: All that hooting and hollering meshed very
nicely with the Progressive program of eventually turning this country into a
patronizing nanny state.”
“Armed with castor oil and a yardstick with which to
thwack miscreants,” added Dilys.
Valda Redfern chimed, “I’ve never seen a single picture
of one of those sour-pussed biddies who didn’t look like she’d rather be an
axe-wielding spinster and killjoy anyway.”
§                 §                 §
Cyrus Skeen and Chess Hanrahan are problem solvers.
Each subscribes to the efficacy of reason. Unlike many other fictional
detectives, they do not rely on “instinct,” gut feelings, intuition, or
haphazard guess work to solve problems. Each is focused on the problem, while his
subconscious feeds him stored  information and past observations germane to
the problem. His mind sifts through that information which aids him in his
clue- and evidence-collecting and syllogistic tasks. Often Skeen and Hanrahan are
faced with the paradox of an A being a
non-A at one and the same time. In
exploding the paradox, they illuminate the contradiction. Justice is done.
Hanrahan and Skeen are thinkers and doers, “neither
tarnished nor afraid,” fully committed to reason and reality. The “mean
streets” they venture onto are often horrible and fraught with peril to
themselves. But nothing can deter them from pursuing the answers that challenge
their rationality.

The Transparency of Obama’s Malignity

Opportunities repeatedly have been overlooked by
the media and even by many blog news sites to more properly assess the true
motivations of President Barack Hussein Obama, based on his character, policies,
behavior and public mien. The scandal that has erupted
over MIT economics professor Jonathan
Grub’s remarks
during a panel discussion about the machinations behind
getting Obamacare drafted, and then enacted in Congress and signed by Obama,
can serve as an important guide to what Obama is “all about.” Judicial
Watch
focuses on the “transparent” contempt Gruber has for Americans:
The
esteemed college professor who served as one of Obamacare’s key architects has
admitted that a “lack of transparency” helped the administration pass
the disastrous healthcare law, which is facing a number of legal challenges.
It’s
a scandalous confession for an administration that has repeatedly vowed to be
the most transparent in history. The information comes straight from Jonathan Gruber,
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) economist who served as a
technical consultant to the Obama administration during the Affordable Care
Act’s (Obamacare) design. Gruber was recorded during a panel and the video recently surfaced and has been making the rounds
on the internet.
“This
bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate
as taxes,” Gruber says. “If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill
dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that.  In terms of risk rated
subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in
– you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it
would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of
the American voter or whatever
, but basically that was really really
critical for the thing to pass…” (Italics
mine)

Gruber’s bragging
– and, incidentally baring his decrepit, rotten soul about how he helped to
push through the intentionally
deceitful ACA
– serves as an overture to an assessment of Obama’s own soul.
Let us count the ways Obama has been spared – nay, let off the hook – by contemporary
assessments of his character, his motives, and his means and ends. He has been
called these things, even by his own supporters, by critics hesitant to pass
the final judgment on him:
Short-sighted, clueless, wrong-headed, dumb, inexperienced, ineffectively
pragmatic
, delusional, negligent, an impotent moral relativist, out-maneuvered
by pros
, reckless, feckless, prodigal, failed, a narcissist, cold, glib, out of touch, opaque, grasping, dismissive, a well-intentioned idealist, amateurish,
distracted, tactless, fumbling, incompetent, arrogant, misunderstood, more sinned against than sinning, ham-fisted, heartless, indelicate, manipulative, manipulated,
fraud, Putin’s poodle, China’s patsy,
racist, lackadaisical, Anglophobic,  power-luster,
veteran of verisimilitude, doyen of dissimilation, abusive, self-defeating, self-wounding
….
In describing the character of Obama one could
compile a veritable Roget’s International
Thesaurus
of terms that would apply exclusively to Obama. It would contain
no antonyms. Let’s mention some
of his more notorious legislative and executive orders since he assumed office
in 2009. To date, the White House lists nearly ninety
pages
of Acts he has signed, ten to a page. To date, he has issued twenty
pages
of executive orders, also ten to a page.
Cash
for Clunkers
.” (His very first Executive Order.)
The
subsidizing of Solyndra and other failed companies.
Delaying
approval of the Keystone Pipeline. The attack on coal and the one-sided “pact”
agreed on with the Chinese
dictatorship to reduce “greenhouse emissions”
founded on a bogus “climate change” and environmentalist ideology.
Using
the IRS to punish or silence organizations that oppose his policies.
Obamacare.
The
continued profligacy of TARP,
enacted under George W. Bush’s administration.
His
denigration of the Constitution and the Founders.
The
removal of all mentions of Islam and Muslims from FBI counter-terrorism
training materials. Many police departments have followed suit, under pressure
from CAIR and other Muslim advocacy groups.
“Fast
and Furious.” Retaining and supporting a lawless and perjured Attorney General,
Eric Holder.
The
lawless shenanigans of Kathleen Sebelius, the former and disgraced HHS
Secretary.
Holder’s
Justice Department data mining and monitoring of journalists.
Obama’s
core affinity with Islam and his venomous hatred of Israel.
Benghazi
and Hillary Clinton.
The
deliberate alienation of our former allies.  
His
desire to regulate
the Internet
, and speech, especially political speech, and most especially
the speech of those who are critical of Islam, Muslims, and that ideology of
totalitarianism.
His
2012 United
Nations address
. “The future must not belong to those who slander the
Prophet of Islam.”
His
Cairo
speech
of 2009.
His
unconstitutional declaration of war against Libya. HIs supplying “moderate”
jihadists with arms and money in Syria.
His
amnesty plans for thousands of illegal aliens.
His
policy of abetting the invasion of this country by Muslims.  
His
refusal to close the U.S.-Mexican border against an orchestrated invasion of
this country by illegals and
terrorists.
 His habitual bypassing of Congress using
Executive Privilege to enact the laws of his preference.
His
willingness to allow Iran to develop nuclear weapons.
His
deliberate humiliation of the U.S. in bowing to the obese head savage in Saudi
Arabia, his subservience to Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and the deference he has paid
to other autocrats, such as Hugo Chavez.
His
conscious lies, equivocations, and obfuscations.
Need I go on? See this list, published July 2013,by
Natural
News
, for more of Obama’s depredations. The author notes:
However,
it’s important to note that many of these are not “scandals” in the
typical sense, but rather the machinations of an imperial president who seeks
to “rule” over his “subjects,” without their consent. 

Don’t expect Obama to suddenly grow a conscience and constrain himself, meaning
this list is destined to grow larger.

The list of criminal commissions by Obama together with his numerous scandals
is longer than that which our Founders itemized in the Declaration
of Independence
against George the Third.
My assessment of Obama is that he is evil incarnate. He hates this country
and everything about it. He hates Americans, especially if they’re white. He is
self-programmed to destroy as much of the country it is in his power to. There
is virtually nothing that he has done since occupying the White House that
isn’t meant to advance his agenda. I would go so far as to say that even his
notorious golfing episodes and inexplicable and unexplained absences during
major crises are part and parcel of that agenda. It’s his way of giving the
country his middle finger. That, and his multi-million dollar vacations to Hawaii
and Martha’s Vineyard and beyond. He flaunts his taxpayer-paid “life style” like
Miley Cyrus flaunts
her backside
to cheapen sex. Obama’s purpose is to cheapen the country and
diminish the stature of America, not only in the world’s eyes, but in the eyes
of his “fellow” Americans.
No one seems to be willing to pass the ultimate, most
damning judgment on Obama: That he is evil.
What other conclusion can one reasonably reach?
That is as transparently
obvious as a photo of Obama in his golf togs. What other American president,
other than FDR, has launched a broad-based attack on this country – on the
Constitution, on Americans, on our liberties, on individual rights, on our
property and wealth, on our freedom, than Barack Obama, with a consistent,
demonstrable hostility for everything this country is and stands for?  But even FDR, for all his grave faults, did
not set out to destroy this country as Obama has and will continue to for the
next two years.
Transparency?
Obama’s administration was ballyhooed to be the “most open and transparent” in
American history. Richard Epstein noted, in his Foreign Policy article of May
2013, “The
only thing transparent about the White House is its perverse penchant for secrecy.
”:
The
very president who has pledged himself to the most open and transparent administration ever is now perceived
on all sides of the political spectrum as a secretive soul who skulks about in
the shadows, so sure of his own moral rectitude that he thinks that it is all
right to ignore the procedural safeguards that the U.S. Constitution wisely
puts in the path of less wise and omniscient presidents. Long ago, James
Madison warned in Federalist No. 10 that the Constitution had to be rigged
for bad times because it is in the nature of politics that “Enlightened
statesmen will not always be at the helm.” Madison’s time has come.
  Arnold
Ahlert, in his November 14th FrontPage
article
on a federally (or taxpayer) funded project to monitor politically
undesirable tweets on Twitter, wrote:
Tellingly,
this story has reached critical mass at the same time President Obama revealed
he is intent on regulating the
Internet, reclassifying it as a utility in order to bring it under the
increasingly tighter yoke of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). “To
put these protections in place, I’m asking the FCC to reclassify internet
service under Title II of a law known as the Telecommunications Act,”
Obama said in
a statement released Nov. 10. “In plain English, I’m asking [the FCC] to
recognize that for most Americans, the internet has become an essential part of
everyday communication and everyday life.”
True. But the point is that Obama wants to control
the activities of most Americans in their everyday lives. He wants to reduce
Americans to the plight of Venezuelans under thug-enforced socialism, standing
in line for basic necessities they once took for granted, distributed by the
thugs.
Despite all the evidence to the contrary about
Obama’s “good intentions,” the New York Times treats his penchant for secrecy
as though it were a juvenile prank. Julie Hirschfeld Davis, in her August 2014
article, “Behind
Closed Doors, Obama Crafts Executive Actions
.”
When
President Obama announced in June that he planned to bypass congressional
gridlock and overhaul the nation’s immigration system on his own, he did so in
a most public way: a speech in the White House Rose Garden.
Since
then, the process of drafting what will likely be the only significant
immigration changes of his presidency — and his most consequential use of
executive power — has been conducted almost entirely behind closed doors, where
lobbyists and interest groups invited to the White House are making their cases
out of public view.
Mr.
Obama’s increasingly expansive appetite for the use of unilateral action on
issues including immigration, tax policy and gay rights has emboldened
activists and businesses to flock to the administration with their policy wish
lists.
Since
the president first announced his intention to use his “pen and phone” to
advance his agenda during his State of the Union address in January, White
House officials have held weekly meetings to compile ideas from inside and
outside the administration.
In
some cases, the public has gotten a glimpse of the process, such as during a summit meeting on working families in June. More
often, though, the talks have occurred behind the scenes. Administration
officials have convened more than 20 so-called listening sessions this summer
alone on executive options for revising immigration policy, a White House
official said, declining to discuss the sessions in detail because the
conversations were private. (Emphasis mine.)
Private?? So much for transparency.
This is more Jonathan Gruber stand-up comic material.
“The
president has been clear that he will use all of the tools at his disposal,
working with Congress where they are willing but also taking action on his own
where they aren’t, to expand opportunity for all Americans and help more
families share in our economy’s continued progress,” said Jennifer Friedman, a
White House spokeswoman.
Sounds like by-the-book Progressivism. The
Progressive agenda to command the dissolution of America, by pen and phone.
Obstructions to his will are regarded by Obama as inconvenient and unfair. And
probably racist
. He will not approve the Keystone Pipeline. He wants to
kill coal. He wants everyone to be dependent on his whim and on government
largesse.
I had planned to end this column by presenting a
scenario in which the reader is witness to the horrors committed by Islam and
ISIS in the Mideast, and asking the reader to decide whether he was seeing evil
at work, Islam in its naked essence, an Islam with which, as I noted above, Obama
has a proven affinity.
But then I thought of something better, something
that would more clearly drive home my point that Obama is evil. It is a short
speech from Ayn Rand’s novel, The
Fountainhead
.
“Listen,
what’s the most horrible experience you can imagine? To me—it’s being left,
unarmed, in a sealed cell with a drooling beast of prey or a maniac who’s had
some disease that’s eaten his brain out. You’d have nothing then but your
voice—your voice and your thought. You’d scream to that creature why it should
not touch you, you’d have the most eloquent words, the unanswerable words,
you’d become the vessel of the absolute truth. And you’d see living eyes
watching you and you’d know that the thing can’t hear you, that it can’t be
reached, not reached, not in any way, yet it’s breathing and moving there
before you with a purpose of its own. That’s horror. Well, that’s what’s
hanging over the world, prowling somewhere through mankind, that same thing, something
closed, mindless, utterly wanton, but something with an aim and a cunning of
its own.”*
Barack Obama doesn’t merely know something about that
drooling beast.
He is
that drooling beast.
*The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand. 1943.
Bobbs-Merrill: Indianapolis-New York. pp. 352-353.

The Annotated Woodrow Wilson

Or,
 Barack
Obama’s Ideological Uncle.
The other day, reading through the comments on
Daniel Greenfield’s November 7th FrontPage article, “The
Leftist and Islamic War on the Family
,” one reader quoted Woodrow Wilson:
“The
purpose of the education system should be to make children as
“unlike” their parents as possible,” Woodrow Wilson, U.S. President.
Intrigued, and unfamiliar with that statement by
Wilson (I had read his speeches years ago), I asked the reader for the source of
the quotation. The reader replied with ad
hominems
and did not supply a source. Mr. Greenfield, however, instead
directed me to a number of sites showing that Wilson wrote variations of that
sentiment, but not precisely the verbatim one as reported by the other reader.
One of Mr.  Greenfield’s suggestions was
the Teaching American History site which features Wilson’s 1913 essay, “What
is Progress?
” In that essay, the sentiment goes:
“It
was for that reason that I used to say, when I had to do with the
administration of an educational institution, that I should like to make the
young gentlemen of the rising generation as unlike their fathers as possible.”
“What is Progress?” is regarded as one of Wilson’s
most definitive works. However, I found it a rambling discourse, replete with
homilies, metaphors, and non sequiturs, on why he was not so much a
“progressive” as a bona fide
socialist in search of a credible rationalization for being one that would not
scare off his auditors. Like Obama, Wilson was no friend of the Constitution.
Nor has been the federal government. All states are
dependent in varying degrees on federal largesse, from Delaware (the least) to
Mississippi (the most). See the WalletHub charts here.
Not so ironically, Republican Red States are among the most
dependent
– see the Cheat Sheet here
for details – while Democratic Blue States are among the least. Regardless  of which party has the biggest appetite for
the cocaine, this is not what the Founders had in mind when they devised the
Constitution to separate federal and state powers. Republicans have always gone
along with ensuring that the states become addicted to federal money to
facilitate highway construction and other “public works.”
Hooking the states on the fiscal drug has been a
Progressive dream from the very beginning. Woodrow Wilson, a Democratic
Progressive with a capital P, who won
the White House because the Republicans bickered over minor ideological
matters, gave the U.S. the permanent federal income tax after
flirtations with it in 1862 (the Civil War version lasted until 1872), 1894 and
1895. In 1896 The Supreme Court declared the tax unconstitutional because it was
a direct tax not apportioned by population among the states in conformance with
the Constitution.  Which, I suppose,
meant that the tax wasn’t egalitarian enough. Individual and property rights
must have gotten lost in the maze of judicial pretzel bendings.    
 Instead,
Wilson urged that the President concentrate on his role as the embodiment of
the nation’s popular will. In modern times, it was more important for the
President to be leader of the whole nation than it was for him to be the chief
officer of the Executive branch. (a permanent one) and the Federal Reserve
banking system, and also nationalized the railroads during WWI and instituted
other federal controls on the economy. He probably regretted not being able to
extort state dependency on the federal government.
That chore out of the way, I would say that if
Obama has been likened by the news media to Franklin D.
Roosevelt
as the latter’s ideological “grandfather,” then Woodrow Wilson ought
to have been regarded as Obama’s ideological uncle. Yes, FDR
laid the groundwork of the welfare state on which Obama built his church of
“hope and change,” but Roosevelt in turn fashioned his own welfare state on
Wilson’s own unprecedented Executive and legislative actions and on Congress’s
“follow my leader” behavior. Theodore Roosevelt, even before Wilson, and before
“Rough Rider” Roosevelt became President, originated and refined the authoritarian
personality cult
. An article on TR by The National Portrait
Gallery
noted:
Roosevelt’s
engaging personality enhanced his popularity. Aided by scores of photographers,
cartoonists, and portrait artists, his features became symbols of national recognition;
mail addressed only with drawings of teeth and spectacles arrived at the White
House without delay….
Not
since Abraham Lincoln, and Andrew Jackson before him, had a President exercised
his Executive powers as an equal branch of government….If the Constitution did
not specifically deny the President the exercise of power, Roosevelt felt at
liberty to do so. “Is there any law that will prevent me from declaring
Pelican Island a Federal Bird Reservation? . . .Very well, then I so declare it!”
By Executive order in March 1903, he established the first of fifty-one
national bird sanctuaries. These and the national parks and monuments he
created are a part of his great legacy.
The thing to keep in mind is that TR was a “bully
pulpit” Republican before he was a “bully pulpit” Progressive. The transition
from one side to another must have been painless. He was a natural autocrat and
thrived on attention. Wilson, however, was not so “engaging” and was the least
likely to develop a personality cult as a dish of cold fish.
In this column, I will simply highlight some of the
salient positions taken by Wilson, and comment chiefly on “What
is Progress
?” (WIP) and on Ronald J. Pestritto’s excellent essay, “Woodrow
Wilson: Godfather of Liberalism
” (LIB).
In
the 2008 presidential primary campaign, Hillary Clinton was asked whether she
was a “liberal”; she distanced herself from that term (which still seems toxic
to much of the electorate) and described herself instead as a “progressive.”
When pressed, she made clear that she meant by this term to connect herself to
the original Progressives from the turn of the 20th century. Similarly, what is
arguably the most prominent think tank on the Left today is called the Center
for American Progress, which has an entire project dedicated to preserving and
protecting the legacy of America’s original Progressive Movement. (LIB)
In fact, there are no fundamental differences
between the Progressive
Party platform
of over a century ago and the means and ends of today’s Progressives.
Progressivism then meant taking incremental steps towards full-blown socialism.
Today’s Progressives avert their eyes from the equally toxic term “socialism”
and hope nobody notices. Wilson confessed:
I
am…forced to be a progressive, if for no other reason, because we have not kept
up with our changes of conditions, either in the economic field or in the
political field. We have not kept up as well as other nations have….
Business
is in a situation in America which it was never in before; it is in a situation
to which we have not adjusted our laws. Our laws are still meant for business
done by individuals; they have not been satisfactorily adjusted to business
done by great combinations, and we have got to adjust them. I do not say we may
or may not; I say we must; there is no choice. (WIP)
And,
“The
Declaration of Independence did not mention the questions of our day. It is of no
consequence
to us
unless we can translate its general terms into examples of the
present day…” The U.S. Constitution: A Reader, page 641) (WIP)
Reality changes. Changed conditions require the
abandonment of principles that may have been applicable to the conditions of
another time, but not to our own. Or so Wilson said. The fact that advances in
business organizations (corporations, trusts) do not in fact require the
rewriting or diminution of individual rights. Modern businesses are treated by
the government as individuals in terms of taxes and legal protections. Partnerships
and combinations in the West are centuries old. For example, the Cavaliers
settled Virginia and the Puritans settled Massachusetts under the aegis of
corporations formed in England.  As water
boiled at 211.9°F (99.97°C) in 1776 and still boils at that point in 2014,
individuals owned their own lives and had certain rights and protections
against the initiation of force from criminals and the government in 1776 just
as they do now. Metaphysically, nothing’s “changed.” But government, especially
the federal government, is the Creature
with a Million Eyes
. It “sees” things differently.
Once
elected President, Wilson helped to usher in the first wave of Progressive
reforms that would later take full flower under the Administration of Franklin
Roosevelt. While some assert that the expansion of the federal administrative
state that originated in the Wilson Administration was due to the war
mobilization effort, several key expansions came well before war mobilization
was even on the horizon. Wilson, for instance, signed the national income tax
into law in 1913 at the very outset of his Administration. In the same year, he
pushed the Federal Reserve Act through Congress; early plans for this Act had
envisioned a private board, but under Wilson’s leadership, the Federal Reserve
was created as a government enterprise.
Furthermore,
while Wilson had criticized Theodore Roosevelt in the 1912 campaign for the
latter’s adventurous approach to foreign policy, Wilson himself certainly did
not shrink from American military intervention. He intervened in Vera Cruz in
1914 and ordered the American occupation of Haiti in 1915. (LIB)
If the liberals (progressives, socialists,
leftists) had any sense of language or even of history, they’d today avoid the negative
“branding” entailed in “progressives” and refer to themselves instead as
“reformists.” It’s such an innocuous, toothless term. There’s no toxic
connotation attached to the word. There are the “reformed” Baptists, “reformed”
Jews, “reformed” Methodists, “reformed” Mormons, and so on. But no “reformed”
Muslims (which is a contradiction in terms). What would the political
“reformists” want to “reform”? Oh, the economy. The judicial system. Education.
Legal social relationships (marriage, divorce, etc.). Business relationships. The
military. Civil police powers. All in the name of “social justice.”
On second thought, however, calling themselves
“reformists” might also backfire, suggesting by implication the term
“transformists.” Barack Obama wished to “transform” the nation from a semi-free
one into a monolithic socialist political entity.
Early plans for an Act creating a Federal Reserve
Board as a “quango,”
a quasi-autonomous entity with little of the power to micro-manage the economy that
the Board now has, would have also been unconstitutional. The Founders didn’t
intend the federal government to “manage” the economy in any capacity
whatsoever. Just find ways to  collect
revenue for its own upkeep.
Wilson cadged from Jefferson’s remark that  The tree
of liberty
must from time to time be refreshed with the blood of patriots
and tyrants”:
  
I
believe, for one, that you cannot tear up ancient rootages and safely plant the
tree of liberty in soil which is not native to it. I believe that the ancient
traditions of a people are its ballast; you cannot make a tabula rasa
upon which to write a political program. You cannot take a new sheet of paper
and determine what your life shall be tomorrow. You must knit the new into the
old. You cannot put a new patch on an old garment without ruining it; it must be
not a patch, but something woven into the old fabric, of practically the same
pattern, of the same texture and intention. If I did not believe that to be
progressive was to preserve the essentials of our institutions, I for one could
not be a progressive. (WIP)
However, it wasn’t liberty Wilson wished to
preserve and protect. He didn’t say that directly, of course. After excessive
rhetorical verbiage he advocated “weaving” progressive programs into the “old
fabric” of legitimate constitutional law and into the American psyche in
stealthy, incremental stages. “Liberty” would eventually metamorphose into
“duty” and “good citizenship” and “social responsibility.”
Wilson resented the separation of powers between
the Executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, and wished to
have that aspect of the Constitution revised or even discarded.
…Wilson
argued that the separation-of-powers system was both inefficient and
irresponsible. Separation of powers was inefficient because it prevented
government from solving the problems of modern life in a coordinated way;
instead, the various organs of government were busy attacking and struggling
against one another. It was irresponsible because the system made it difficult
for the government to implement new public policy, even when the new policy
reflected a clear new direction in public opinion….
Based on his objection to the separation of
powers and his general objection to the Founders’ understanding of government,
Wilson put forth a series of institutional proposals designed in one way or
another to overcome the fixed notion of politics that is at the heart of
limited government….
Wilson’s
institutional substitute for the Founders’ separation of powers is best
understood as the separation of politics and administration…. Wilson’s
separation of politics and administration also brings us to a fundamental
paradox in his thought. His vision of government seems to be one in which the
unified will of the public has a much more direct role to play in politics than
the Founders had envisioned. Yet politics, while increasingly democratized in
Wilson’s thought, also becomes much less authoritative. The emphasis in
government shifts to administration. (LIB) [Italics
mine]
One of the express purposes of the separation of
powers was to create “gridlock” and “inefficiency” between Congress and the Executive
branch, and also between the Senate and the House of Representatives. The
Senate was designed to check the populist or progressive legislation emanating
in the House. This separation today has largely been obviated. Wilson wanted no
“irresponsible” obstructions to his Progressive legislation, once it was
enacted. Then it would be a mere task of its administration.
Pestritto raises an interesting point concerning
Wilson’s vaunted wish to allow “the people” a stronger voice in politics:
Wilson’s
separation of politics and administration also brings us to a fundamental
paradox in his thought. His vision of government seems to be one in which the
unified will of the public has a much more direct role to play in politics than
the Founders had envisioned. [The Founders loathed democracy or mob rule.] Yet
politics, while increasingly democratized in Wilson’s thought, also becomes
much less authoritative. The emphasis in government shifts to administration.
(Square brackets mine.)
The
implications of this shift are profound: Consent of the governed comes in the
realm of traditional politics. The disparagement of politics in favor of
administration moves the focal point in government away from popular consent
and into the hands of unelected “experts.” Such a shift marks the origin of
American government today, where more policy is made by bureaucracies than by
elected representatives.
The
key to Wilson’s separation of politics and administration was to keep the
former out of the latter’s way. Administration is properly the province of
scientific experts in the bureaucracy. The competence of these experts in the
specific technological means required to achieve those ends on which we are all
agreed gives them the authority to administer or regulate progress unhindered
by those within the realm of politics. Persons or institutions within politics
can claim no such expertise. (LIB)
The average voter or politician could not be an
“expert” in administration. Therefore, whatever he might have to say about
statist policies or Constitutional law or statist legislation was de facto irrelevant. Only the Platonic
“experts” in the bureaucracies would know what they were doing. Please don’t
laugh. Wilson and all the government experts there ever were after him took
that as a truism not to be questioned. You, the average American citizen, would
perform the productive work. The “expert” administrators would dispose of or
distribute it according to their lights. They, the “elite,” the guardians of
Plato’s caves, would manage everything for the “public or common good.”
And here is Wilson’s prophetic vision of the Executive
branch of government:
The
presidency became for Wilson a principal means by which the limits placed on
government by the separation of powers could be transcended. His new
institutional vision for the presidency required the President to look beyond
his constitutionally defined powers and duties.
Instead,
Wilson urged that the President concentrate on his role as the embodiment of
the nation’s popular will. In modern times, it was more important for the
President to be leader of the whole nation than it was for him to be the chief
officer of the Executive branch. (LIB)
Wilson more or less advocated the role of the
President become one of an unopposed autocrat.
Wilson
contrasted the President’s duties as “legal executive” to his “political
powers,” advocating an emphasis on the latter as a means of using popular
opinion to transcend the rigid separation-of-powers structure of the old
“Newtonian” constitutional framework.  As
opposed to remaining confined to the constitutionally defined powers and duties
of his own branch, the President’s role as popular leader means that he must,
as the embodiment of the national will, move Congress and the other parts of
government to act in a coordinated way.
Wilson
emphasized the person of the President, not his office. It is the man himself
and his personality that come to embody the national will. “Governments are
what the politicians make them,” Wilson wrote, “and it is easier to write of
the President than of the presidency.  This is why a President’s expertise in public
affairs is not as important as his having a forceful personality and other
qualities of popular leadership.
What
America needs, Wilson wrote, is “a man who will be and who will seem to the
country in some sort an embodiment of the character and purpose it wishes its
government to have—a man who understands his own day and the needs of the
country.” As an embodiment of the public will, the President can transcend the
government and coordinate its activities. This is why it is wrong to limit the
President with the traditional checks of the Constitution. The President is
“the unifying force in our complex system” and must not be relegated to
managing only one branch of it.  (LIB)
Hitler claimed to be the embodiment of the people’s
wishes. So did Mussolini, and Mao, and the Perons of Argentina. They all
transcended the limited governments of their countries and got their
parliaments or congresses to “coordinate” their activities, or bypassed them
completely or dissolved them. They all established personality cults. They all
served as “unifying forces” and weren’t satisfied with managing a paltry single
branch. Their “wills” had to triumph.
And we all know what it led to. Just think of it. Here
was Woodrow Wilson, an otherwise colorless,  bespectacled man who wore three-piece suits, a
harmless ex-college professor and university president, championing a “superman”
of unlimited power, and, whether or not  he
knew it, unleashed the carnage of another world war and the suffocation of
freedom and civilization.
If Obama is FDR’s ideological “grandson,” Wilson was
his ideological uncle who enunciated Obama’s abuses of power about three
generations before Obama was even born. And Obama’s regulation garb is golf
togs.

Hollywood: Snowshoes vs. Hockey Sticks

My last few columns about Hollywood, such as, “The
Death of Adult Movies
” and “Hollywood:
Sharia-Compliant
,” tackled the politically correct mindset that has
produced movies not targeted to adults but to undeveloped and/or brainwashed
minds (many of them adult), or are bloviating leftist propaganda vehicles in
the “entertainment” media. This is particularly true when it comes to the
subjects of Islam (never deprecate Islam, or show a Muslim in a bad light),
capitalism (capitalists are snarky bad guys who smoke and leer at photogenic
women), and environmentalist propaganda and how to dramatize the effects of “global
warming” or nuclear war or man as an unnatural and destructive occupant of
earth.
What are reviewed this turn around the block are some
post-apocalyptic stories.
There is only one non-apocalyptic movie discussed
here, Radio Free Albemuth, and I
include it because it is too bizarre to pass up. The others are very post-apocalyptic, with a vengeance. Oddly,
only one conforms to the “man-caused global warming” party line, Terra Nova. The others beat their
CGI-mesmerized audiences over the head, not with hockey sticks, but with
snowshoes.
Someone might object: But we already know that Hollywood is in the Left’s
pocket, and has been for decades. Why beat a dead horse?
Well, the horse isn’t quite dead; it can still bite
if you look too closely in its mouth. You have no idea of the sheer volume of
rubbish that’s produced by the Left and finds its way to Netflix or Amazon
Video from mainstream television and the theater chains without a peep of
publicity, or any ballyhoo or promotional push in the New York Times or
Washington Post, Variety, or Hollywood Reporter.
Take a look at the volume produced just by the
Weinstein brothers, Bob
and Harvey. They’ve got their
own production empire through The Weinstein Company.
They’ve produced, financed, or had some key association with literally hundreds of films.
First up for a post-apocalyptic examination is The 100 (season one aired
in 2014, a second season is scheduled for 2015) in which one hundred teenagers,
in the 24th century, are sent back to earth in a lander to determine whether or
not the planet is habitable after a nuclear war about a hundred years earlier.
They’re dispatched from “The Ark,” a gigantic space station orbiting the earth.
Until now, the Ark has sustained thousands of inhabitants. The pettiest of
crimes earns an adult a “float,” that is, being vacuum-sucked into space
without a suit. Juvenile offenders are simply locked up. But, the Ark’s
life-support systems are failing. So, off go the kids.
Now, the Ark as depicted in the TV series, looks
pretty sophisticated, certainly more roomy, habitable and comfortable than the
current International Space Station. It features artificial gravity and so no
one floats from point to point. And there’s technology at work in it that beats
what exists now. And you’d have thought that by simply infrared-imaging
the earth’s surface, the adults could have determined the livability of earth
without having to send the kids to the surface (the kids land in a forest rich
in flora and fauna). But, no mention is made of that option at all. Not
resorting to the infrared stratagem gives the writers and producers and
directors a chance to throw the kids into a maelstrom of adventures, from
battling “grounders,” the bow-and-arrow and battle axe armed primitive descendents
of survivors of the war, running from lethal sulfuric fogs which don’t seem to
affect the flora and fauna, surviving an attack by what looks like a puma,
marveling over iridescent butterflies, chewing on hallucinatory berries, and
forming testosterone-driven liaisons. And the kids handle all these matters as
you would expect teenagers to handle them.
Meanwhile, back on the Ark, there’s a power
struggle going on about whether or not to “float” two or three hundred adults
who are eating up resources. After some agonizing about it, they are first herded
into a chamber and suffocated via engineered oxygen-deprivation, then
“discharged” into space. Also, someone shoots the “president” or chancellor of
the Ark, a black fellow named Thelonious Jaha. That melodrama alternates with
what’s going on with the kids down below. Details of either venue are formulaic,
mundane, and predictable.
At the end of the series, after some brainier kids
(or pseudo-adults) hard-wire the damaged lander to give an overflow army of Orcs
from The Lord of the Rings an incinerating
blast from the lander’s thrusters, the kids are all gassed and in comes an what
looks like a CDC SWAT team. The kids wake up in some very clean and habitable
hospital rooms. Stay tuned for Season Two. If you wish.
Next up is a Canadian entry from 2013, The Colony. This is a
twofer. An Ice Age has followed the
global warming because the global warming control machinery broke down. IMDB
writes: “In the future, after global warming, Earth is covered by ice and snow
in an Ice Age. The survivors live in facilities underground named Colonies.” I’m
not sure Al Gore would approve of that. Colony 7 also has the practice of
ridding itself of undesirables who show signs of the common cold by banishing
them to freeze to death in the snowy wastes. 
If they somehow survive and stumble back to bang on the door to be let
back in, they get shot.
Again, the premise and plot of this film could not
be to Al Gore’s liking. He’d have probably preferred a film in which all the
characters walked about in their skivvies, sweating buckets, and being eaten
alive by vengeful polar bears.
Colony 7 gets a distress signal from Colony 5, just
down the glacier from it. A team plods through the wastes to investigate. And
here comes a “three-fer.” The place is swarming with…cannibals. Real
flesh-eating cannibals. Apparently some virus is to blame. The team beats back
the army of cannibals and retreats. The cannibals, presumably having reached
the end of their food chain, follow. They invade Colony 7. Two or three
survivors escape and make their way through the wastes to find a place their
satellite photos show has thawed.
Terra Nova was an American
a TV series which debuted and died in 2011. True to form, the series opens in
2149 Chicago, when over-population and air pollution have caused global
warming. People have to wear oxygen masks when going outside. Fresh fruit is as
dear as diamonds. Political pull and connections get one a residence in a
fresh-air bubble part of town. But, scientists have discovered a way to send
people back 85 million years to the Cretaceous period – or at least to a
parallel earth’s Cretaceous period – to begin anew. Of course, the government
controls the “pilgrimages” to Terra Nova and selects who goes back and who
stays to enjoy the food rationing and population control laws and the yellowish
air.  The series focuses on the adventures
and misadventures of the Shannon family, which include encounters with
dinosaurs and renegade “sixers.”  
However, there’s no going back to “old” Chicago. It’s
a one-way trip because the “temporal rift” in time to the parallel universe
won’t permit a return to 2149.
But then the Phoenix Group – a cabal of nasty,
smirking capitalists, wouldn’t you know it? – discovers a way to send people
and things back to 2149. They invade Terra Nova with a private army, intent on
strip-mining the whole planet and sending the ore and other commodities “back
to the future.” The Terra Novans fight back and manage to destroy the machine
that makes time travel possible. The Terra Novan “campsite” depends on
“imports” from the future. Housing is up to date, plastic and other artificial
materials are abundant, as are iPods and the like, the place is protected by
some mean-looking armored vehicles and advanced weaponry, and there’s even a
kind of farmers’ market where the inhabitants bartered goods. But, the
destruction of the time rift machine in the last episode ended all that. Now
the inhabitants must really, really rough it.
Fox cancelled the second season because of cost
overruns producing the first season. It wasn’t willing to risk more overruns on
a series that garnered only a so-so audience and mixed critical acclaim.
Finally, there’s Snowpiercer, a
2013 South Korean science fiction film that focuses on a train. In this one, an
experiment decades earlier to control global warming failed and precipitated a
new ice age, that is, a non-stop precipitation of snow. The last of humanity
boards a mile-long train which somehow traverses the whole globe at near Mach
speed, powered by a perpetual motion engine. Passengers eventually form social
“classes”:  the really, really smart
people occupy the front cars and live in luxury. The “lower” classes occupy the
end of the train and live in unrelieved poverty, subsisting on what look like
black “power bars” made of reprocessed maggots.  
Naturally, there are “class” conflicts. The film is
about a revolution of the tail-end passengers to take control of the engine. They
accomplish that after fights with the elite’s guards, but manage to destroy the
train when explosions trigger avalanches along the train’s tracks. The train is
lovingly buffeted by the avalanches, is derailed, and falls apart. Nobody but a
woman and a child survive. They leave the ruins of the train and see a polar
bear on a distant hill.
The polar bear stares back at the figures, probably
thinking,”Lunch time.” Al Gore has his moment.
Actors John Hurt and Ed Harris have pivotal roles
in the story. They must have been hard up to sign onto this disaster.
On to the non-apocalypse film. The wackiest movie I
encountered this time around was Radio Free Albemuth, a 2014
science fiction film set in an alternate but contemporary America. It contains
science fiction elements that are increasingly overlaid by mystical ones. I
watched the whole thing, and still, at the end, wasn’t quite sure what the
message was, although it had something to do with an alien interference in
human history, over thousands of years. This interference is enabled by an
alien satellite that looks like a blue Rubik’s Cube orbiting the earth. It
shoots blue rays at specific human targets, and lays “silver eggs” of pacifism  in the minds of Christ, Confucius, Moses and
other religious or messianic figures, to preach peace and brotherly love and
revolution against authoritarian regimes. Some entity called “Valis” acts as a
proxy God or deity directing man’s destiny. Shades of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The America depicted in the film – and in the 1985 Philip K. Dick science fiction/alternate
history novel – is recognizable, except that there’s a fascist President,
Fremont (played by Scott Wilson, who played pacifist/vegetarian Hershel Greene
in the zombie series “The Walking Dead” until he was beheaded in Season Four)
who may or may not be a Communist in thrall to the mysterious Valis. He’s in
his fifth consecutive term of office. He’s busy exposing a post-Soviet Union
conspiracy to destroy democracy by an outfit called “Aramchek,” while it is
suggested that he is an Aramchek agent himself dispensing disinformation during
his regular addresses to the nation.
Philip Dick, who also published alternative history
fiction, was a troubled writer and much of his writing reflects his mental
problems. He harbored a Gnostic version of Christian altruism.
In the film (and novel) Dick poses a
conspiracy theory which is countered by another conspiracy theory, and then by
a counter-counter-conspiracy theory, much of it appearing in the psychedelic
dreams of an impressionable record store clerk, Nick Brady,  who later becomes a record company executive,
on the direction of Valis. Brady, the protagonist (so-called, because he’s
taking directions from Valis), becomes a Christ-like figure who in the end sacrifices
himself to the fascist authorities in order to release a song performed by a
third-rate rock group. The lyrics contain a subliminal call to arms to the
“next generation” to overthrow President Fremont.
Albemuth
is a kind of “rapture” story which however leaves virtually everyone “behind.” It
left me behind. I had to resort to reading Wikipedia’s two synopses of the novel
and the film to grasp the story’s sequence of events and its “message.”
Watching the film left me as woozy as the plot
itself. The only thing I could credit all the films with is their passable CGI
effects. But, as I’ve noted in past columns, CGI does not a story make. You may
as well have loaded a theater stage with all the props for a production of Henry V and have the cast appear in
street clothes mumbling their lines from play scripts.
And now that I’ve got all that off my chest, I can
turn back to remarking on the absurdist dramas playing out in real life. Those have
to do with Mohammad’s Islamic scimitars and Obama’s campaign to destroy America.

“Freedom of Speech, Go to Hell”

We’ve all seen in the
newspapers and on blog sites those cardboard signs carried by maddened, sweaty,
screaming Muslims in London and elsewhere on which is scrawled, Freedom of
Speech Go to Hell.
But now that same
sign is being brandished by a political
milquetoast, Theresa May, Britain’s
Home Secretary. John Bingham’s report in The Telegraph of October 31st, “Sharia
law or gay marriage critics would be branded ‘extremists’ under Tory plans,
atheists and Christians warn
,”
is disturbing, to say the least. 
Anyone who criticizes Sharia law or gay marriage could be branded an
“extremist” under sweeping new powers planned by the Conservatives to combat
terrorism, an alliance of leading atheists and Christians fear. Theresa May,
the Home Secretary, unveiled plans last month for so-called Extremism
Disruption Orders, which would allow judges to ban people deemed extremists
from broadcasting, protesting in certain places or even posting messages on
Facebook or Twitter without permission…..
But George Osborne, the Chancellor, has made clear in a letter to
constituents that the aim of the orders would be to “eliminate extremism in all
its forms” and that they would be used to curtail the activities of those who
“spread hate but do not break laws”. He explained that that the new orders,
which will be in the Conservative election manifesto, would extend to any
activities that “justify hatred” against people on the grounds of religion,
sexual orientation, gender or disability.
This particular milquetoast – let
us dub her Mother Theresa – is proposing out-and-out, blanket censorship which
she would enforce with the heavy hand of the police, the courts, and the slimy accusations
of informants and those whose “feelings” have been hurt. “I want” figures
prominently in her speech.  She delivered
her
speech
, in contrast to the chanting and ranting of Muslims who also inform
us that Sharia will dominate Britain (and the West), at a Conservative/Tory
Party conference in typical
wallflower style
, from a printed text at the podium (well, at least she
didn’t use a teleprompter), with less charisma than Barbara “Let’s go walkies!”
Woodhouse
giving advice on how to train one’s dogs. Here she condemned
“extremists” of all breeds as possibly infected with rabies and she let it be
known that they should all “sit” and “heel” and “stay” in their own speech lest
they be served with the blackjack of an “Extremism Disruption Order” (EDO) and
isolated in a kennel.
Surely the coiner of that awkward, euphemistic
nomenclature for “preemptive censorship” could have come up with something a
little less depersonalized and antiseptic. Like “Taser”? The purpose of such
political tasers, wielded by police or the
courts, would be “to prevent conflict, protect life and resolve disputes with
personal safety equipment that makes communities safe….” And surely that
description is copasetic with Mother Theresa’s agenda of preventing conflicts
and resolving disputes, especially if the conflicts concern Muslims, gays,
trannies, and other odd bodkins.
I’ll bet not many Britons ever expected to
be accosted, manhandled, cuffed, and tossed into a cell by an aggressive
milquetoast with a little help from the bully boys for having indulged in their
freedom of speech, or for what they might
have said
. But, there you are. If you’re on her “no barking” list of
“extremists,” you’d better confine yourself to whining, whimpering, or pouting.
You may be seen, but not heard.
A court, however, could not forbid an “extremist”
to speak or broadcast or even “tweet” on Twitter unless his name was on a Vatican-like
Index of
Prohibited Books
. Let us call it instead
Index Librorum Prohibitorum Novissimarum Orator, or the Index of Prohibited Extremist
Speakers. One must first be a known and red-flagged “extremist” speaker to earn
a place on that list.
That’s quite a job for a government
practiced in police-state surveillance as Britain’s already is.  It even monitors what trash is put in wheelie
bins. We have the NSA. Britain has Mother Theresa and her minions. They’re
fighting the “war on terror” by promising “extremists” a night in the box. They
will be watched, monitored, and even “disrupted.” I think there was a science
fiction TV series that featured “disrupter” ray guns. How appropriate a choice
of words.
After congratulating herself on fighting crime and dousing the fires of
“extremism” with the current
tools
at hand, Mother Theresa went on:
But we must continue to do more. Soon, we will make Prevent a statutory
duty for all public sector organizations. I want to see new banning orders for
extremist groups that fall short of the existing laws relating to terrorism. I
want to see new civil powers to target extremists who stay just within the law
but still spread poisonous hatred. So both policies – Banning Orders and
Extremism Disruption Orders – will be in the next Conservative manifesto.
Emma
West
was put through the judicial wringer for expressing her anger about
what was happening to Britain. Paul
Weston
was arrested for quoting Churchill in public, the quotations
expressing Churchill’s
estimate
of Muslims and Islam. Robert
Spencer, Pamela Geller
, and Geert
Wilders
were banned from Britain because they’re famous (or notorious) for
their anti-Islamic “hate speech.”
So, what is “extremism”?
For one thing, it’s the “extreme” dhimmitude displayed by Mother Theresa
throughout her speech. Several times she stated emphatically that ISIS, the al
Nusra Front, 
Boko Haram in Nigeria, Al Qaeda in
the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, like-minded groups in Libya, Al Shabaab in East
Africa, the Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan
all have nothing to do with Islam.
Just as the salute, Sieg Heil!, has
nothing whatsoever to do with Nazism, Allahu
Akbar!
has nothing to do with flying planes into skyscrapers or the mass
executions of non-Muslims and rival Muslims.
Or so Mother Theresa would have you
believe. This is a species of denial bordering on psychosis. For example:
This hateful
ideology has nothing to do with Islam itself. And it is rejected by the
overwhelming majority of Muslims in Britain and around the world….
Well, no, they
don’t reject it. They’re merely the “silent majority” who have no opinion about
what their “violent” brethren do in the way of acting out the violent verses in
the Koran (about 164 of them, at last
count; see Answering Islam’s extensive list of them here).
Or they don’t dare frown upon “violent” Islam lest they be subject to violence
themselves. After all, it’s all in their “good book,” the Koran, and who are they to question its contents? Those
non-participatory, “silent” Muslims have a ho-hum attitude about Islamic
terrorism:  “Oh, well, there’s another
train blown up, more filthy infidels killed in a shopping mall. What’s the latest
soccer score?”  Some 80%
of London Muslims
don’t mind the violence one iota.
Mother Theresa
conspicuously identifies that what she claims isn’t Islam is also a
“hateful”  ideology, which proves that some synapses are crackling in her brain.
But then a politically correct circuit breaker kicks in, and the current stops
flowing. What has nothing to do with Islam is, at the same time, a “radical
ideology” or an “extremist” ideology. Can she answer the question: If it is
“radical” or “extremist,” what ideology
is it a “radical” or “extremist” version of?
Has it an identity? What is the thing?  Does it have a name? If she saw a half-assembled table, would she object to its
completion because she could forecast that at one point it would become an
“extremist” table and not a carburetor?
Of course she knows
what it is and what it will be. But because the subject is Islam, denying
Islam’s essential identity helps her (and fellow dhimmi David Cameron) “prevent”
the ruffling of Muslim feathers. Muslim values are now British values.
“Radical Islam,”
“Fundamentalist Islam,” “Extremist Islam,” and “Violent Islam” are all
exercises in redundancy.
The terrorists who
murdered David Haines like to call themselves the Islamic State. But I will
tell you the truth: They are not Islamic. And they are not a state. Their
actions have absolutely no basis in anything written in the Quran. What they
believe has no resemblance whatsoever to the beliefs of more than a billion
Muslims all over the world…..
Chancellor George Osborne was more succinct
in his description of the means and ends of Bannings and EDOs. Bingham writes:
…George Osborne,
the Chancellor, has made clear in a letter to constituents that the aim of the
orders would be to “eliminate extremism in all its forms” and that they would
be used to curtail the activities of those who “spread hate but do not break
laws”.  He explained that that the new
orders, which will be in the Conservative election manifesto, would extend to
any activities that “justify hatred” against people on the grounds of religion,
sexual orientation, gender or disability.
He also disclosed
that anyone seeking to challenge such an order would have to go the High Court,
appealing on a point of law rather than fact.
So, all forms of “extremist” speech must be
eliminated, and those suspected of harboring “extremist” thoughts or sentiments
must be curtailed, especially if they don’t cross the threshold of statutory
crime. Hovering close to a “speech crime” will not be tolerated, either.
It’s significant that Mother Theresa made
extra-special points about Islam and Muslims. It’s as though Baptists and
Seventh Day Adventists didn’t merit protection from “extremist” defamation or
mockery or criticism of their creeds, but British Muslims do. Atheists would be
effectively and “preemptively” silenced on the subject of Muslims and Islam
because to them, all the various religions and creeds occupy one big crockery
shop.
However, the “peaceful” jihad that Mother Theresa has had
nail-gunned to her mind has as little to do with Islam as contemplating one’s
navel or performing yoga. It’s not self-disciplining fitna,
which she must mistake for a dietary regimen. Perhaps she has observed Muslims practicing
Chi-Gong to rid their bodies of its toxins.
But, I rather think they enjoy those ideological toxins; it’s their kind of
homicidal adrenaline.
“Extremism” is what novelist/philosopher
Ayn Rand would call an anti-concept intended to suppress discussion of
fundamental principles in order to prevent conflict or open dissension. It is
an essentially meaningless term that stands for what she called “blank-outs.” It
is anti-mind, an act of deliberate evasion of facts, of reality. Mother
Theresa, like Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and many others, has
fried mental circuit breakers that have permanently stopped any recognition of
facts and reality regarding Islam. It is a refusal to think.
At first reading, towards the end of her
relativist and moral equivalence spiel at the Conference, it is difficult to
identify the subject:
All British people
– including British Muslims – are free to practice their faith, and wear
whatever clothes they choose. They are free to establish their own faith
schools and give their children – including their girls – the best education
possible. They are free to build their own churches, temples and mosques and
worship freely. These are the benefits of living in a pluralistic society. But
the whole point of living in such a society is that there are not just rights
but responsibilities too. You don’t just get the freedom to live how you choose
to live. You have to respect other people’s right to do so too. And you have to
respect British values and institutions. The rule of law. Democracy. Equality.
Free speech. And respect for minorities. These are the values that make our
country what it is. These are our values. There is no place for extremism here.
There will, I’m
sure, be some who say politicians shouldn’t get involved in these matters. But
to live in a modern liberal state is not to live in a moral vacuum. We have to
stand up for our values as a nation. There will, I know, be some who say that
what I describe as extremism is merely social conservatism. But if others
described a woman’s intellect as “deficient”, denounced people on the basis of
their religious beliefs, or rejected the democratic process, we would quite
rightly condemn their bigotry. And there will be others who say I am wrong to
link these kinds of beliefs with the violent extremism we agree we must
confront. To them I say, yes, not all extremism leads to violence. And not all
extremists are violent.
Of whom is she speaking? The English Defense
League? The UKIP? Muslim clerics? Muslim vigilante patrols? No-go Muslim
ghettos within British cities?
But the damage
extremists cause to our society is reason enough to act. And there is,
undoubtedly, a thread that binds the kind of extremism that promotes
intolerance, hatred and a sense of superiority over others to the actions of
those who want to impose their values on us through violence.
Yes, that thread belongs to an ideology, the ideology of Islamic
conquest. But, to Mother Theresa, Islam is a “religion of peace” and isn’t an
ideology at all. And if the evidence of the daily claims of Islamic superiority
over and intolerance for all other faiths or styles of living boasted by Muslim
“extremists” both in Britain and from abroad aren’t enough to open her mental
circuit breakers, then nothing will. She chooses to blank out.
And if you
don’t reciprocate and blank out, as well,  but insist on speaking your peace, then you will be criminalized by Mother
Theresa as an “extremist.” You, and not the Muslims who are free to exercise
their freedom of speech by carrying cardboard signs that say, Behead Those Who Insult Islam.
Theresa May, Home Secretary, you see, is a
humanitarian, one of the most dangerous and implacable people in civil society.
There is no use in offering her evidence, facts, or reasoned arguments. She has
immunized herself against them. Like Winston Smith’s inquisitor O’Brien in George3
Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, she succumbed
to the totalitarian mentality. “They got me a long time ago,” O’Brien tells
Winston Smith.
Theresa May should confess the same
conquest.  But won’t. Freedom of speech
can go to hell.

With Mencken In “Old” Palestine

Last week Sweden
officially “recognized” Palestine as though it were an existing state imbued
with all the accouterments of a genuine nation. That is, it was a nation
invisible on any standard map except the ones to be found in Palestinian school
books. This was as much an exercise in fantasy as recognizing the Wizarding World
of J.K. Rowling as a real, authentic state with which to exchange ambassadors
and diplomatic immunities. The “recognition” is fundamentally an endorsement of
Hamas’s genocidal agenda. Daniel Greenfield remarked about this delusional cretinism
in his October 30th FrontPage article, ”Sweden
Recognizes Unelected Government of
Bankrupt Terror State That Doesn’t Control its Own Territory
”:
…Sweden didn’t recognize an elected government. It recognized the
leadership of a terrorist group…..
Not only is it unelected and not in control of its own territory, but it’s
funded by foreign interests. If it had to function as a state, it would die
tomorrow. Not only doesn’t it have the infrastructure, but it doesn’t even have
the economy.
 …Sweden recognized the unelected government of a bankrupt terror
state that can’t function as a state or a government because… that’s how much
it’s new leftist leaders hate Israel and Jews. There’s no rational reason for
extending state recognition to an entity that fails the test of functioning as
a state at every level from the economy to elections to simple territorial control.
But, then, Sweden was not setting a precedent in acting on its own
fantasies. In a nearly analogous exercise in leftist ideological incontinence
was President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the U.S. recognizing the
Soviet Union
as a legitimate government in 1933. Josef Stalin and his
terror leadership at the top of the Soviet machine controlled Russian and
satellite territories, but their economy was anemic and failing. Read Walter
Duranty’s white-washing New York
Times story
of November 17th of the event here. One certainly couldn’t
accuse him of “Communophobia.” Duranty was a “journalist” like I am a nuclear
physicist or beautician.
The recently published The
Days Trilogy: Expanded Edition
of H.L. Mencken’s memoirs contains a
lengthy and illuminating section about the journalist’s visit to Palestine,
then under the British Mandate, in 1934. In Chapter XIX, “Pilgrimage” (pp.
578-580), he records the contrasting differences between Jewish lands and Arab
lands. Not much has changed since Mencken’s visit, at least in terms of Muslim
character.
               
These [Jewish] colonies interested me greatly, if only because of the startling
contrast they presented to the adjacent Arab farms. The Arabs of the Holy Land,
like those of the other Mediterranean countries, are probably the dirtiest,
orneriest and most shiftless people who regularly make the first pages of the
world’s press. To find a match for them one must resort to the oakies now
translated from Oklahoma to suffering California, or to the half-simian
hillbillies of the Appalachian chain. Though they have been in contact with
civilization for centuries, and are credited by many fantoddish professors with
having introduced it to Europe, they still plow their miserable fields with the
tool of Abraham, to wit, a bent stick. In the morning, as Fellman [A.L.
Fellman, a guide from the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem Mencken befriended] and I
spun up the highroad to the north, I saw them going to work, each with his
preposterous plow over his back, and in the evening, as we went westward across
Galilee, I saw them returning home in the same way. Their draft animals
consisted of anything and everything – a milch cow, a camel, a donkey, a wife,
a stallion, a boy, an ox, a mule, or some combination thereof.
               
Never, even in northwestern Arkansas or the high valleys of Tennessee, have I
seen more abject and anemic farms. Nine-tenths of them were too poor even to
grow weeds: they were simply reverting to the gray dust into which the land of
Moab to the eastward has long since fallen. As for the towns in which the Arabs
lived, they resembled nothing so much as cemeteries in an advanced state of
ruin.  The houses were built of fieldstone laid without mortar, and all
the roofs were lopsided and full of holes. From these forlorn hovels ragged
women peeped at us from behind their greasy veils, and naked children popped
out to steal a scared look and then pop back.
               
Of edible fauna there was scarcely a trace. Now and then I saw a sad cow,
transiently reprieved from the plow, and in one village there was a small flock
of chickens, but the cows always seemed to be dying of pellagra or beriberi,
and the chickens were small, skinny, and mangy.
               
These Arab villages were scattered all about, but most of them were on
hilltops, as if the sites had been chosen for defense. Sweeping down from them
into the valleys below were the lands of the immigrant Jews. The contrast was
so striking as to be almost melodramatic. It was as if a series of Ozark
corn-patches had been lifted out of their native wallows and set down amidst
the lush plantations of the Pennsylvania Dutch. On one side of a staggering
stone hedge were the bleak, miserable fields of the Arabs, and on the other
side were the almost tropical demesnes of the Jews, with long straight rows of
green field crops, neat orchards of oranges, lemons, and pomegranates, and
frequent wood lots of young but flourishing eucalyptus.  Fat cows grazed
in the meadows, there were herds of goats eating weeds, and every barnyard
swarmed with white leghorn chickens. In place of the bent sticks of the Arabs,
the Jews operated gang-plows drawn by tractors, and nearly every colony had a
machine shop, a saw-mill, and a cannery.
               
The contrast between the buildings on the two sides of the hedges was a
remarkable as that between the fields. The Arabs, as I have said, lived in
squalid huts letting in wind, rain and flying things, and their barns were hardly
more than corrals, but the Jews lived in glistening new stucco houses recalling
the more delirious suburbs of Los Angeles, and their animals were housed quite
as elegantly as themselves. The architecture on display, I should add, caused
me to cough sadly behind my hand, for the general effect was genuinely
oriental, as indeed it is in Los Angeles. The Jews appeared to be very proud of
their habitations, for every time Fellman and I stopped at one and found the
householder at home, he insisted on showing us through it, and almost always
pointed with swelling emotion to its tiled floors, its screened doors, and its
running water in the kitchen.
               
These Jews, however, appeared to spend but a small part of their time admiring
their quarters: virtually all of their waking hours were given to hard labor in
the fields. In the larger colonies they did not even come in for meals, but
were fed from a lunch-wagon working out of the central kitchen….
               
Fellman and I dropped in at several schools, and inspected the young inmates.
They looked as healthy and happy as the prize babies whose pictures appear in
the rotogravure advertisements of the milk companies…
The focus on Jerusalem and that region today is not on “Arabs” but on
fictive “Palestinians,” who claim that Israel stole Palestine from them,
neglecting to mention that they are basically “refugees” refused admittance by
other Arab states in order to create a wedge in the campaign to erase Israel,
and that they’re now on their second, third, and perhaps even fourth generation
of “refugees.” Gaza began as a “displaced persons camp” for Arabs, and, if
truth be told, it still is one. Its Hamas-ruled population is definably
stateless. Also, Gaza and the West Bank have advanced over Mencken’s stone huts
and pitiful farms and live in conditions measurably better thanks solely to the
billions of dollars in foreign aid that have been poured into those sink holes
over the decades.
It should be noted that Western foreign aid partly fuels the Muslim
invasion of Western nations. Muslims seem to want to escape the culture of corrupt,
skimming-off-the-top governments which foreign aid sustains,  but yet bring with them the same creed of submission
to  the corruption and Allah that they
left behind. All nations that receive Western foreign aid, for all practical
purposes, are on international welfare. Like our own welfare class in this
country, they will never learn to become independent, responsible, and
self-sustaining for as long as they are on welfare, which, concerning our own domestic
welfare class, aside from direct and indirect taxation such as inflation, is
merely another method of wealth distribution to beneficiaries across the seas.
Mencken could be
brutally wry, so much so that you could practically hear the cat scream in
protest as he suspended it by its tail for the dogs of satire to have at it. He
was, as a rule, incorrigibly
sardonic
when discussing any religion. When he
made some less than flattering remarks about Jews, he was accused of being
anti-Semitic. He told a newspaper, “I don’t like religious Jews. I don’t like
religious Catholics and Protestants” (p. 806). This was a natural, non-discriminatory
form of cat-baiting for a man who disliked religion qua religion, organized or not. He had no respect for deities or
for anyone who worshipped one without reservation or hesitation or critical
faculty. One can only imagine what he would write about Muslims. I don’t think
it would be less acerbic than Winston Churchill’s
estimate of them
.  HIs 1922 article, “Where
is the Graveyard of Dead Gods?
” certainly exemplifies that dispassionate
attitude.
“The most curious
social convention of the great age in which we live is the one to the effect
that religious opinions should be respected. Its evil effects must be plain
enough to everyone. All it accomplishes is (a)
to throw a veil of sanctity about ideas that violate every intellectual
decency, and (b) to make every theologian a sort of chartered libertine.” (The American
Mercury, March 1930)
Yet, whether Mencken was a certified atheist, or an agnostic or a skeptic is an
elusive determination I have never been able to resolve to my satisfaction. In
my column, “Mencken,
Islam, and Political Correctness
” of January 2010,” I refer to him as an
agnostic. He was married in an Episcopal church (p. 806), but that might have
been just a courtesy to his wife.
Mencken, a brittle and unforgiving curmudgeon on virtually every subject
he tackled, penned a 1938  newspaper
column urging German Jewish refugees be allowed to come to the U.S. to escape the
Nazis, “Help for the Jews” (P. 808).  When
he visited Havana, Cuba, in April 1941, before the attack on Pearl Harbor,  he helped some Jews go to the U.S (p. 809). He
wrote:
There is only one way to help the fugitives, and that is to find places
for them in a country in which they can really live. Why shouldn’t the United
States take in a couple hundred thousand of them, or even all of them? (“Help
for the Jews,” 1938, in The
Impossible H.L. Mencken
, Anchor Books, 1991).
This was at a time when the U.S  adopted
the official and disgraceful policy of refusing
Jews asylum
. See the saga and tragedy of the
S.S. St. Louis
here. 

Mencken certainly was
a man of mixed premises. He very likely rued the day when he published a column
in The Atlantic in November 1914, “The
Mailed Fist and Its Prophet
,” which, on one hand, extolled the “positive”
influence of Friedrich Nietzsche, “heretic, rhapsodist, and prophet of the
superman,” had on Germany and German culture in the 19th century, but on the
other hand underscored the role of ideas in Western civilization. While he was
an isolationist in regards to World War II, he wound up calling the Nazis “ignorant thugs.”
He was a registered Democrat and initially was enthusiastic about FDR, but as
the realities of Roosevelt’s policies became apparent, ruthlessly attacked him
and FDR’s “Brain Trust.”
At one point in his career, Mencken was
mistakenly identified
as Jewish
in some kind of who’s-who listing. When he learned about this, he
said he didn’t much mind. His best friends were Jewish and through years of
wear and tear he was pretty nearly circumcised.
Seventy years have passed since Mencken’s tour
of Palestine. The only thing that has changed since his drive with A.S. Fellman
about the Arabs is the extent and cost of the window-dressing that disguises
the Muslim mentality. And the only thing that has changed about the Jews is
their numbers in that region and a determination to survive and live as life
should be lived.
.חם חיים במלואם
And Mencken certainly did.
*The
Days Trilogy: Expanded Edition
,
ed. Marion Elizabeth
Rodgers. New York: Library of America , 2014. 872 pp.

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