The Official Blog Of Edward Cline

Month: April 2015

Obama’s Dreams of Texas and Beyond

Russian
hackers who snuck into President Obama’s unclassified computer system at the
White House inadvertently sent some of their booty to all sorts of people
around the globe. Including to me. I don’t think they meant to, but some hacker’s
fingers probably strayed and included me in the privileged few. And I don’t even
speak Russian!
 In her April 7th report, “Russian
hackers got Obama’s schedule
in White House cyberattack” in The Hill, Elise
Viebeck wrote:
Russian
hackers who hit the White House infiltrated an unclassified computer system and
apparently accessed details about President Obama’s schedule.
While
the White House previously sought to downplay the seriousness of the hack,
which took place last year, the intruders were able to see information about
the president that was not publicly available, CNN reported
Tuesday.
Officials
briefed on the investigation told CNN that the incident was connected to a
Russian cyberattack that also breached the State Department’s network.
Intimate
knowledge of Obama’s activities would be seen as valuable to foreign
intelligence agencies like Russia’s.

Officials with knowledge of the investigation told CNN that Russian hackers
were able to break into the White House system through their foothold within
networks at the State Department.

The intrusion began when hackers sent what is known as a “phishing”
email from a State Department account, infecting a White House computer with
malware, the investigators said.
What
came my way was the draft of a book being written (supposedly) by Barack Obama himself,
tentatively titled Dreams for Me and
Texas: A Fantasy
.
I
wish to share some of this 30,000-word draft with readers. It’s pretty damning
and contains some knurly evidence that Barack Obama is a racist of the first
order. But, if you’re a racist, you won’t mind that.
Here
are some excerpts on how Obama will start with Texas, then his successors will
move on to the whole country. I wonder what Putin and the other Russians think
of Dreams for Me and Texas. Its main
theme is that whites are doomed to insignificance in the face of a massive
invasion of blacks and browns and Muslims and other non-white, ciphered groups.
Goodbye Beethoven. Hello third-rate folk tunes from third-rate countries. The book
is probably being penned by Bill Ayers, Obama’s loyal but retired Weatherman pal,
as Dreams From My Father likely was.
My
Amnesty program has invited countless brown people to invade Texas and take it
over. Once they’re organized they will:
  • Arrest all stinky white folks at and
    over the age of 65 and send them to the Creamery. That’s my nickname for a
    crematorium. Creameries will be erected by white indentured labor and
    located near major cities. The new Texas cannot be expected to support
    them at the cost of impoverishing black and brown people.
  • White people ages 30 up to 64 will be
    put on work gangs to build paved roads from the Mexican border to better
    facilitate the invasion, and employed on other public improvement projects.
    The goal is to make Texas mostly a black and brown state. Native black and
    brown people who don’t go along with the program will be incarcerated and “re-educated”
    to get their minds
    right
    about their ethnic heritage. The property and financial assets
    of all white people living in Texas will be seized and distributed to
    black and brown people.
  • All Texas Jews will be rounded up and
    sent to special Creameries.
  • All former and current American Border
    Patrol personnel caught in the new Texas will be executed by firing squad,
    using weapons confiscated from them or from the inventory of the Attorney General’s
    Fast and Furious arsenal, now under the supervision of the Blanco Cartel Polvo, the elite drug
    cartel.
  • Mexico will be closed to white
    tourists. White tourists caught in Mexico will be jailed and auctioned off
    to Mexican drug lords for ransom or slavery.
  • The new Texas government will sponsor
    and encourage guerilla raids into Arizona, New Mexico, California, Louisiana,
    Oklahoma, and Arkansas. ISIS ain’t got nothing over what my Free Texas
    plan has in store.
  • The top Texas cheerleading squads will
    be drafted to serve in special Recreational camps for the top black and
    brown leaders of the new Texas. Gals who resist will be put in special
    jails and paid visits by Mexican, Columbian, and Bolivian guys, you know,
    the ones with scary tattoos on their faces and heads and chess and butts. All
    criminal records of these guys will be erased, and they will be
    indemnified from any future “crimes” against white people they may commit.
    Idle black and brown criminals will be absorbed into the new workforce as
    managers of indentured white folks.
  • All institutions of education, from K-1
    up through graduate school, will recalibrate their curricula to focus on
    Mexican, Latino, and Chicano culture and science, wherever the latter may
    be found.
  • Surviving white people will be
    compelled to learn Spanish and abjure their American citizenship. Those who
    resist will be tossed into shark-thick waters near Galveston and on the
    Gulf Coast.
  • The new Texas government will establish
    a pact of rapprochement with any
    and all drug cartels headquartered south of the non-border. The cartels
    will ship more invaders into Texas, in exchange for the cheerleaders of
    their choice (we will establish an online photo album), free cars, truckloads
    of beer and other alcohol and many more expropriated goodies.
  • The new Texas government will
    establish a pact of rapprochement
    with our Muslim brothers. Most Muslim invaders and “settlers” are of the
    black or brown suasion, so that’s not a worry. Muslims will not be
    required to learn Spanish, but surviving white people will be required to
    learn how to read and write Arabic or whatever other chicken scratch the “immigrants”
    and “refugees” bring with them, and required to pay jizya.
  • The Alamo in San
    Antonio – which will be renamed San Poncho Villa – will be either blown up
    or converted into a Chicano Heritage Museum and Educational Center.
  • The American flag will
    not be permitted to be flown or shown anywhere, under any circumstances, unless
    a Chicano, a Muslim, or a Chihuahua is crapping on it.
  • All movies depicting
    the “heroic” stand of the white settlers of Mexican territory at the Alamo
    against the legitimate territorial claims of General Antonio López de Santa Anna  will be banned, even if they’re badly
    made.
  • All white culture,
    such as classical music, ballet, and art, will be suppressed, carrying
    stiff penalties for anyone – including black and brown fools – caught watching
    or appreciating it.
  • All movie imports from
    the U.S. or abroad must be redubbed in Spanish or Arabic, depending on the
    new Texas market the movies are to be shown in.
  • All military bases and
    installations in Texas will be rechristened with the names of famous
    Mexican generals, politicians, artists, writers, and bandits.
  • All street names in
    all cities will be converted to their Spanish equivalents, or renamed
    entirely. “Jones Street,” for example, will be renamed “Garcia Calle.” All
    cities or entities that bear the names of the Texan “heroes” who humiliated
    General Santa Anna will expunge those names and find suitable substitutes
    of a Latino flavor.
  • There will be no white
    waltzing in the new Texas or any other kind of wussy white dancing. Surviving
    white folks will be compelled to learn the danza del sombrero mexicano, as performed by Mexico’s current
    star Chihuahua, “Pies Ligeros” Gonzales.
  • The Seinfeld episode “The
    Urban Sombrero” will not be permitted to be shown on television, not even
    if it is dubbed in Spanish. It treats Mexico’s contribution to human
    fashion with typically white, culturally imperialistic arrogance, and
    should not be made light of.
  • Dubbed renditions of The Treasure of Sierra Madre, in
    which white guys lose, will be permitted, so long as the stereotypical “we ain’t got no badges
    scene is excised from the film.
  • Any white person
    calling black and brown policies censorship will be made to eat our words,
    literally.
  • All golf courses in
    Texas will be seized by the new Texas government and renamed after famous
    Mexican golfers. Did you know that golf was invented by Central African
    sportsmen 500 years ago, but stolen by those thieving Scotsmen? That’s why
    I play it so often. It’s the game of my ancestors.
After Obama’s Texas project is well underway, according
to the document that was unintentionally sent to me,  plans will be activated to spread these policies
to the other states of the Union. The sign-off on the document is: “Black lives
matter. Brown lives matter. White lives don’t matter.”
How could anyone dare call Barack Obama a racist?

Can Faith Be “Reformed”?

Long
ago, before my teens – I forget my precise age – I experienced a moral
epiphany. Looking across the valley from my bedroom window at home I could see
the thin finger of the 1,000-foot radio/television broadcasting mast secured to
the earth from wind and storm by four even longer guy cables. I loved looking
at that tower. I marveled at the skill and tenacity of the men who had erected
it.
I
did not credit God with its existence.
I
was attending a Catholic parochial school at the time. God was everywhere
there; in the crucifixes in the classrooms, in the habits of the nuns, and,
indeed, the school was located for a time in the basement of the long, black
stone edifice of the Nativity Church. At home, God was partially present in a
few crucifixes, in the faith of my foster parents and grandparents, and in
their strict observance of Catholic holidays, saying grace at supper, and not
eating meat on Fridays. Among other things.
In
the parish church, God was present in the rituals – in the genuflecting before
the altar, in the kneeling and rising during the Stations of the Cross, in Holy
Communion, in the sermons, the answering chants of the congregation on cue from
a priest saying mass, and in other rituals. Proof of God lay in utterances and
actions, not in evidence.
There
were the “miracles” to account for. Christ rising from the dead. Our Lady of
Fatima, miraculous escapes from fatal accidents, and so on. Moses parting the
Red Sea. The Shroud of Turin. And dozens of other apocryphal tales, assertions,
or “proofs” of God’s existence. It was all traditional hearsay passed on over
centuries and inscribed and embedded in all the Scriptures and documents and
literature of the Catholic Church (and in other Christian faiths), and in men’s
minds as indelible proof.
But,
I asked myself as I looked out the window at the broadcasting mast, did any of
that constitute proof of God’s
existence other than the assertions of others, whether made by my parents, by
the priests, by the nuns, that he existed and was responsible for the existence
of the universe and was the supreme warden of my own existence? I knew the mast
existed; I didn’t need anyone to tell me that.
No
one – not the parish priest who tried to dissuade me from my atheism, not the
nuns, not my parents, not all the books on theology I had ever read – could convince
me that God existed. All they could produce as evidence was their say-so. People
believed in God, or in some form of deity, for millennia before recorded
history. So, it must be true.
And,
of course, there were the obvious contradictions in doctrine, the most
egregious among them in my mind being the one that while God bestowed on men
the free will to choose their salvation or their fate, to know the difference
between right and wrong, to choose between good and evil, God knew everything
and knew what you would do millennia before you were born. He knew a priori whether you would be naughty or
nice, and he knew this about everyone who existed now or ever existed, going
back thousands of years into the past and into the future. 
That
made no sense to me. It smacked of a rigged poker game run by a Supreme Card
Sharp. I didn’t think of it in those terms at that age, but you catch the
flavor of my predicament. The doubts in my mind then would, over the years,
become a deep-rooted contempt for the ruse and pity for anyone who believed in
it, fell for it, and accepted it as an iron-clad verity never to be questioned.
I
would also eventually realize that God’s attributes of omnipotence and
omniscience were mutually contradictory. If he knew everything that was going
to happen, did he also know that he would change his mind and not make things happen? Could he undo
actions he had taken in the past?  Did he
schedule his changes in mind and stick to the schedule – “I’ll spare Indonesia
of earthquakes in 2004 and the resulting tsunami that will surely take thousands
of lives….Well, maybe not….” – or was he the plaything of his own unpredictable
whims, which certainly wouldn’t classify him as omniscient.
Everything
about God and religion – regardless of the creed or the attributes of a
particular God – rested on faith, on
the acceptance of the existence of a being or deity without evidence, of a
being who existed and to whom one was answerable. My lifelong approach to the
assertion was: Show me the money.
No
one was ever able to show me the money. The pockets and wallets of the popes,
clergy, preachers of every known faith, the nuns, and my parents, were empty.  If God granted me the capacity to judge things
and men by instilling in me a reliance on the evidence of my senses, why did he
then say that the evidence of my senses wasn’t good enough to believe in his
existence? That the evidence of my senses should not come into play when
considering his existence? That my “God-given” reason wasn’t applicable to this
question? And that reason was impotent to grasp his existence? One just had to
accept him on faith, and never question his actions, even if they were brutal
and sadistic and utterly whimsical.
One
had to have faith, and to have faith
in the power of faith.
And
what is faith? Wikipedia gets
it right for once, cadging from the Unabridged
Random House Dictionary
. Its definition differs little from other dictionary
definitions of faith.
Faith is defined as belief, confidence
or trust in a person, object, religion, idea
or view despite the absence of proof.
Faith does not involve the abandonment of reason, but
acknowledges more or less consciously the fact that a proof is not possible in a
given context. 
The
preceding is in the way of an overture to a critique of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s lucid
and comprehensive March 20th Wall Street Journal article, “Why Islam
Needs a Reformation
.”
My
answer to that would be: A “reformation” of Islam would entail not only the
excision from the Koran and other
Islamic documents of all the violent verses and imperatives that justify murderous
jihad, but necessarily  require a repudiation
of faith
as such, as well, regardless of character of the faith.
The
Reformation of the Christian Church was largely the banishment of religion from
politics. It took centuries to accomplish with religious wars and brutal
persecutions of one Christian sect by another. It took time for men to realize
that the imposition of one set of religious tenets on others could result in
little else but strife and bloodshed, and if any kind of stable civil society
was to be created and sustained, religion would have to surrender its power of
political force. It was not a
universal repudiation of Christian faith, but a boxing in and establishing of
boundaries it could not cross. Faith
itself remained untouched.
Aiding
in the “taming” of the Christian faith were the fire-and-brimstone Old
Testament with its vengeful and bloody-minded Jehovah, and the largely pacific
New Testament of Christ. Christianity opted to adhere to the ethics of the New
Testament. It made possible stable, civil societies not rived by religious
wars.
However,
there is no Old Koran and no New Koran. Islam is of one piece. There are
divisions between various sects of Islam – e.g., the Sunnis vs. the Shi’ites –
over doctrinal differences, but there are no multiple fundamental
interpretations of Islam, no sea changes as one turns the page on how to
practice the faith or how to view Allah and Mohammed. If Mohammed said that’s
what Allah demands, that’s it. Kill the Jews hiding behind trees. Let your
right hand possess any woman that strikes your fancy. Tax the Christians and
Jews or kill them if they don’t convert.  Invade the lands of the infidels and pagans
and establish iron rule.
Hirsi
Ali divides believers in Islam into two distinct camps:  believers in the Meccan “peaceful” Koranic verses
that were superseded by the “violent” ones that came out of Medina, but the
rule according to mullahs and imams is that the new verses overrule the older
ones. Watch this nonpareil
video
about the Koranic verses.
Hirsi
Ali writes:
It
is not just al Qaeda and Islamic State that show the violent face of Islamic
faith and practice. It is Pakistan, where any statement critical of the Prophet
or Islam is labeled as blasphemy and punishable by death. It is Saudi Arabia,
where churches and synagogues are outlawed and where beheadings are a
legitimate form of punishment. It is Iran, where stoning is an acceptable
punishment and homosexuals are hanged for their “crime.”
As I
see it, the fundamental problem is that the majority of otherwise peaceful and
law-abiding Muslims are unwilling to acknowledge, much less to repudiate, the
theological warrant for intolerance and violence embedded in their own religious
texts. It simply will not do for Muslims to claim [as do Western apologists]
that their religion has been “hijacked” by extremists. The killers of Islamic
State and Nigeria’s Boko Haram cite the same religious texts that every other
Muslim in the world considers sacrosanct. (Brackets mine)
Instead
of letting Islam off the hook with bland clichés about the religion of peace,
we in the West need to challenge and debate the very substance of Islamic
thought and practice. We need to hold Islam accountable for the acts of its
most violent adherents and to demand that it reform or disavow the key beliefs
that are used to justify those acts.
Hirsi
Ali names in her Wall Street Journal article the five elements in Islam that
must go, that must be stripped of their belligerent potency, the elements
responsible for the interminable mayhem and the War on the West Islam declared
centuries ago These must be banned or shredded before Islam can become
“pacified” as Christianity and Judaism have been. Square bracketed comments are
mine.
1.
Muhammad’s semi-divine status, along with the literalist reading of the Quran.
Muhammad should not be seen as infallible, let alone as a source of divine
writ. He should be seen as a historical figure who united the Arab tribes in a
pre-modern context that cannot be replicated in the 21st century.
[This
is contingent on whether or not Mohammad actually existed. See Robert Spencer’s
exceptionally informative and educational book, Did
Muhammad Exist? An Inquiry into Islam’s Obscure Origins
.] Once you’ve
read this work, you can’t help but doubt that the whole story of Mohammad has
been a gross, cruel, and tragic farrago.]
And
although Islam maintains that the Quran
is the literal word of Allah, it is, in historical reality, a book that was
shaped by human hands. Large parts of the Quran simply reflect the tribal
values of the 7th-century Arabian context from which it emerged. The Quran’s
eternal spiritual values must be separated from the cultural accidents of the
place and time of its birth.
[There
are several books and Websites that discuss the fact that the Koran was the work of many scribes and
Islamic theologians centuries after Mohammad’s death. Here is one of the more
exhaustive ones, at Myth
No. 1
.  The Koran that excites ISIS and Al Qaeda and that has come to harass us
today is the result of fourteen centuries of editorial emendations.]
2.
The supremacy of life after death. 

The appeal of martyrdom will fade only when Muslims assign a greater value to
the rewards of this life than to those promised in the hereafter.
[Of
course, “martyrdom” in this context does not mean dying alone of a
self-inflicted wound in order to get to Paradise sooner, or taking actions that
would not also take the lives of
others because they were Jews or infidels. It means specifically jihad, or waging war against the Jews
and infidels, and taking their lives as well as one’s own, or perishing somehow
in the “struggle” against Dar al-Harb,
or the ”Muslim enemy land.” This could entail using suicide vests, driving
bombs into buildings or crowds, or flying hijacked planes into buildings.]
3.
Shariah, the vast body of religious legislation.

Muslims should learn to put the dynamic, evolving laws made by human beings
above those aspects of Shariah that are violent, intolerant or anachronistic.
[Unfortunately,
according to Mohammad, Allah says all man-made law is filth. That’s a
non-negotiable “truth” in Islam. Sharia Law is a primitive, non-conceptual,
anti-intellectual code of law, “justice,” and correct behavior which should not
be accorded recognition or respect by the West. It is probably more primitive
than that of the Xatanawa in Brazil. It is a tribalist, patriarchal code that
favors men over women and children and is in direct conflict with Western
principles of individual liberty and freedom. Just because there are compendia
of Shariah law doesn’t make it any more valid. They may as well be several
bushels of Confederate currency. Further, Muslim advocacy groups in the West
have been waging a “stealth jihad” campaign to impose Shariah on non-Muslims,
as well.]
4.
The right of individual Muslims to enforce Islamic law.

There is no room in the modern world for religious police, vigilantes and
politically empowered clerics.
[This
also means outlawing the “honor killing” of men and women who leave Islam or
who choose non-Islamic, Western values, murdering Muslims who develop personal
relationships with non-Muslims, corralling and prosecuting Muslim rape gangs
that prey on non-Muslim women and girls in the West, and demanding that
employers provide Muslim employees with the means to practice their religion on
the job. By “religious police and vigilantes,” Hirsi Ali means the phenomena of
gangs of Muslims “patrolling” neighborhoods in Western cities to prevent
drinking, smoking, or the wearing of non-halal
clothing (such as miniskirts or other revealing or provocative apparel).
Further, it means that Islamic clerics could not decree death
fatāwā on any individuals deemed in
violation or transgression of Shariah law.]
5.
The imperative to wage jihad, or holy war.

Islam must become a true religion of peace, which means rejecting the
imposition of religion by the sword.
Good
luck with that. There are thousands of Muslims who love wielding the sword.
Hirsi
Ali adds:
Any
serious discussion of Islam must begin with its core creed, which is based on
the Quran (the words said to have been revealed by the Angel Gabriel to the
Prophet Muhammad) and the hadith (the accompanying works that detail Muhammad’s
life and words). Despite some sectarian differences, this creed unites all
Muslims. All, without exception, know by heart these words: “I bear witness
that there is no God but Allah; and Muhammad is His messenger.” This is the
Shahada, the Muslim profession of faith.
The
Shahada might seem to be a declaration of belief no different from any other.
But the reality is that the Shahada is both a religious and a political symbol. (Italics mine)
But,
then, what would be left of Islam that would still be Islam? I’ve said this
many times before on this subject: Nothing that could be called Islam. It would
be closer to the religious beliefs of the Amish.
The
nihilistic nature of Islam – its worship of death and treatment of life as a
mere transient state that precedes an eternal “life” in a “Paradise” where all
inhibitions and taboos are lifted – inculcates in those born in Islam something
akin to what In classical Freudian
psychoanalytic analysis is the death drive or the drive towards death,
self-destruction and the return to the “inorganic.” Or in a Muslim’s case, temporal
nonexistence in exchange for some ethereal existence in a dreamed-of pleasure
palace in the heavens…somewhere. Most Muslims, as Hirsi Ali notes, don’t work
consciously to bring about their or others’ deaths, but are passive
participants in what can only be regarded as a death cult.
As for the numerous Western converts to Islam, there
must be something of the predatory zombie already in their character makeup that
draws them to Islam.
Islamic
reformers, however, are not going to stop having faith in the truth of what they believe in, even should they brave
death
fatāwā declared on them by imams and
mullahs and by rogue “states” like ISIS, and successfully emasculate Islam and
convince all Muslims to follow suit.
Faith is the problem that weighs
down the reformation of any religion and its diminution as a moral force
governing the affairs and relationships of men. It is the anti-mind and
anti-reason power and pull of faith that can account for the incalculable
misery, deaths, and destruction in human history. Faith is addictive; it has
pull and appeal because it doesn’t require proofs; one can just believe in the unproven and not be
bothered with grasping or formulating a reason-based morality by which to live
on earth and not in some fantasy realm.

Hirsi
Ali ends her article with:
Let
me make two things clear. I do not seek to inspire another war on terror or
extremism—violence in the name of Islam cannot be ended by military means
alone. Nor am I any sort of “Islamophobe.” At various times, I myself have been
all three kinds of Muslim: a fundamentalist, a cocooned believer and a
dissident. My journey has gone from Mecca to Medina to Manhattan.
For
me, there seemed no way to reconcile my faith with the freedoms I came to the
West to embrace. I left the faith, despite the threat of the death penalty
prescribed by Shariah for apostates. Future generations of Muslims deserve
better, safer options. Muslims should be able to welcome modernity, not be
forced to wall themselves off, or live in a state of cognitive dissonance, or
lash out in violent rejection.
Hirsi
Ali grants Islam a modicum of respect, as a system that contains the germ of
reformation into a benign, non-aggressive mode of living.  For all that she had endured in her life as a Muslim
and as an ex-Muslim, she certainly shouldn’t respect it. I don’t respect it. From
my first readings about Islam, I recognized it as totalitarian in means and
ends, whether or not most Muslims are “peaceful and law-abiding” and not driven
to slaughtering people in Mohammad’s or Allah’s name. Like Christians and Jews,
they have simply compartmentalized either the requirements of living in the modern
world, or the creed itself.
There
is nothing redeemable in Islam, nothing salvageable, nothing worth reclaiming from
those who allegedly “hijacked” Islam.   
Only
a philosophical revolution will disestablish faith as a mode of living and “reform” it into the dustbin of
history.

Review: Goldeneye, Where Bond was Born

“Nothing propinks like
propinquity.”
So remarked Felix
Leiter
to James Bond in Ian
Fleming
’s fourth Bond novel, Diamonds
are Forever.
It was propinquitous that someone at Pegasus Books thought
that I’d reviewed another of Fleming’s books,
For Your Eyes Only, a collection of
five of Fleming’s short stories featuring Bond, and queried me about reviewing
Matthew Parker’s newly released Goldeneye,
Where Bond was Born: Ian Fleming’s Jamaica
. I hadn’t reviewed Eyes Only anywhere, but asked Pegasus to
send Mr. Parker’s book on anyway.  
I very rarely review
biographies because the best-written ones I could not do justice to, whether or
not they are worth recommending (or deep-sixing). Goldeneye is an exception, for it is about Fleming and one of my
favorite thriller heroes, James Bond. I have read over a score of biographies
of Fleming and dozens of books about
Bond alone. Most of these are forgettable in that they are either bland or
slyly critical of Fleming and dismissive of Bond or blatantly exploitive of
Fleming’s cash value. I won’t name names here.
But Parker’s book is a balanced
melding of the biographies of Fleming, Bond and Jamaica. He weaves such an
indelible and integrated portrait of all three that one can almost feel the
heat of Jamaica and move through Fleming’s retreat from the world, Goldeneye,
which he had built, and become one of his guests there. Parker has painted a
compelling, colorful landscape that includes all three subjects.
This includes Fleming’s apparently
insatiable appetite for women, married or not. But even when he was married, he
did not believe monogamy was healthy for any marriage. Neither did his wife.
My passion for the Bond
novels (not for the movies) is such
that for years I spent not an inconsiderable amount of money on collecting a
set of first editions of the Bond novels and short story collections published
by Jonathan Cape. I have that complete set and early editions of his other
fiction and nonfiction, such as The Diamond Smugglers,
Thrilling Cities, and an illustrated
children’s novel, Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang.
As for the Bond movies,
allow me to speak a heresy here: It has always been my opinion that the superb
actor Patrick McGoohan (of Danger Man and The Prisoner fame) would have made a far better (and
brainier
) Bond than Sean Connery. He was offered the role, but
turned it down
because he thought the action in Dr. No, the first Bond film, was too violent and full of sex.
This is not to score
Connery, a fine actor. But fine actors too often are not the best judges of the
material they are asked to bring to life. The producers of Dr. No and subsequent Bond films, Harry Saltzman and Albert R.
Broccoli, started a trend that would see the diminishing of the hero to a
parodied, tongue-in-cheek joke in all the subsequent Bond films, including
those based on all the bogus Bond
novels written by others after Fleming’s death in 1964. I never cared for any
of the Bonds that followed Connery’s, either.
I wrote a review of the
fourth of these bogus
Bond novels
, License Renewed, for
the Wall Street Journal in June, 1981. I was not aware then that there had been
three previous
pastiches
. My literary philosophy concerning the cannibalization of another
author’s works compelled me to excoriate the plot and more or less tell such opportunistic
hacks to write their own damned novels, to conceive of their own ideas and not
“borrow” others’ works.  
It’s a literary crime
tantamount to having the brass to write a sequel to Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead (although the estate of
Rand would come down like a ton of bricks on the heads of the author and
publisher who tried). Numerous other successful authors, such as Raymond
Chandler, have had their work “continued” by such writers. I have no use for
them or their bogus books, and neither should anyone else who values
originality in literature. Someone might ask: But how would Fleming’s James
Bond remain current, relative, and in the public mind except to hire
second-handers to write what Fleming never wrote?
Does durable fiction or
art of any kind need second-hand hacks to perpetuate the durable? I don’t think
so.
But, back to Matthew
Parker’s Goldeneye. Parker’s easy
prose draws one into the private and public life of Fleming as he discovers the
charms of Jamaica. It would not be for years until he decided to try his hand
at novels and created James Bond, a name he cadged from an ornithologist whose
book he liked. The book is interspersed with chapters on the history of Jamaica
as an outpost of the British Empire and a refuge for expatriates seeking to
escape the constricting confines of British culture and society, to its rise as
an independent country within the Commonwealth. When Fleming first visited
Jamaica in the 1940s it was still the retreat of millionaires and eccentrics
and retained the character and milieu of the old but vanishing Empire. By the
time Fleming died in 1964, it had been “ruined” and dragged into a fast-moving
world kicking and screaming. Well, at least it was the British social elite
that kicked and screamed.
By 1955 it was a changed
environment. Fleming and others, such as another eccentric, playwright and
multi-talented Noël Coward, who built
his own house and became a close friend of Fleming’s, bemoaned the political and
social changes, but rolled with the punches. Jamaica was being “discovered” by
hoteliers of every imaginable stripe. Racecourses disappeared and private
beaches became public. Bridal paths became golf courses, and exclusive clubs
and hangouts of the white elite were open to one and all.
But
all this was to serve as the genesis of James Bond. Dr. No, a Bond novel that was written Fleming at Goldeneye. That
novel is all about Jamaica itself, writes Parker.
The
“repackaging” of the Bond character, in the written word as well as in the
cinematic venue, continues unabated, and, frankly, gets worse and worse. I
never much cared for any of the Connery depictions of Bond, except in Dr. No, but I was not enthralled by the
senseless denouement in the 1962 film, in which the arch villain Dr. No is
boiled alive in a tub of radioactive water instead of being smothered in a
mound of guano dust. What was so difficult about shooting that scene? But, we
had to have our gimmicks and toys and hokey technology.
The
balance of the movies actually based on the novels that Fleming wrote were just
“kinda-sorta” based on Fleming’s plots. The only memorable things for me about
the films are most of the scores. After that, publishers and hack writers took
Bond on rides Fleming never intended Bond to experience.
The cover art of the Thomas & Mercer editions of Fleming
novels, including the bogus ones, look as though they’ve been designed by a
computer, while the Penguin/Jonathan Cape Books covers are either intriguingly
symbolic or feature lovingly drawn, come-hither, gorgeous women imagined by a
human with a decided fondness for the female body. See this chronology of the
Bond novels here,
vs. here
and here,
and judge for yourself.
There is a sour note concerning Fleming’s estimate of his own
work. Or perhaps it’s Parker’s estimate. We have only Parker’s assertion about what
Fleming thought of his own work. Parker contends that Fleming didn’t take James
Bond seriously.  Discussing Live and Let Die, Parker writes:
The story is
framed by the Cold War and contains a nod to modern Jamaica with the mention of
the strategic importance of bauxite. But with its lost pirate treasure, sharks
and killer centipedes and black magic, it is really an old-fashioned Boy’s Own adventure story. One American reviewer
would call it a ‘lurid meller contrived by mixing equal parts of Oppenheim and
Spillane.’ Fleming concedes this with his soon-to-be customary knowing looks to
the reader: Bond describes his mission as an ‘adventure’; one villain looks ‘like
the bad man in a film about poker-players and gold mines’; Bond’s Jamaica
colleague Strangways, on hearing that the heroine needs rescuing, exclaims, ‘Sort
of damsel in distress Good show!’ (pp. 153-4) (There are no numbered endnotes,
so I was not able to identify the cretin whom Parker is quoting, only that he
took the quotation from “LLD 239” and “LLD 278.” The London Literary Digest?)
And, again on p. 184, discussing the reception of Diamonds are Forever,  Parker asserts that Fleming gave his readers
the “knowing looks.”
There are some
excellent set pieces in Diamonds are
Forever
– the drive-in, the mud-baths, the racetrack at Saratoga (where
Bond appreciates ‘the extra touch of the negroes’), but the story misses the
crazy central megalomania of the villains of the previous two books. The ‘knowing
looks’ to the reader – ‘He had been a stage-gangster, surrounded by stage
properties’; ‘Mike Hammer routine. These American gangsters were too obvious’; ‘That
was quite an exit. Like something out of an old Buster Keaton film’ – feel more
tired than arch. ‘For Bond it was just the end of another adventure,’ Fleming
concludes, his weariness palpable. (p. 184) (These are cited in “DF,” whatever
that stands for. There is no legend that identifies the various literary
publications Parker quotes from. Otherwise, I would name that culprit, as well.)
I didn’t sense that “knowing look” in any of the Bond novels. I
take Spillane as seriously as I have Bond. That will never change.
It is unfortunate that Parker spoiled his book by making these
unsubstantiated assertions.
All in all, however, Goldeneye is a delight to read and
educational, to boot, an contains information about Fleming and his work regime
not otherwise available in other books about Fleming and his craft.
I  recommend Parker’s Goldeneye, not highly, but with the
cited reservations.
Goldeneye,
Where Bond was Born: Ian Fleming’s Jamaica
, by Matthew
Parker. New York: Pegasus Books. 388 pp.

Political Cinema

Returning after another
hiatus, during which I finished the ninth Cyrus Skeen detective novel (The
Circles of Odin
), I decided not to try and recap all the bad news about
Islam, Obama, Europe, and the decrepit state of the economy and of the
government that came our way over the last two months, but instead to pen a
spate of TV/movie reviews. These, too, however, are mostly bad news.
Keeper of the
Flame
The only semi-bright spot in the reviews is one about Keeper of the Flame, a film
I had for years wanted to see. I was intrigued by the title. I finally made the
time to watch it on Amazon Instant Video.  The Amazon
Books
entry on the novel by I.A.R. Wylie on which the
film was based, features a book cover and a still from the movie, with stars
Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. But because that listing does not allow
one to “open the book to look inside,” I had no idea at the time if the cover
hid the original novel, or if the book was a novelization of the film.
An Internet search for Wylie and the book turned up this explanation
by an anonymous enthusiast on the Neglected
Books
site. It answered my question:
This Popular
Library edition of I. A. R. Wylie’s 1942 novel, Keeper
of the Flame
, dates from the early 1960s.
There are some remarkable titles to be found among the best-sellers,
bodice-rippers, and dreck that Popular Library released in the late 1950s and
early 1960s. I wrote about a few of them about a year ago in the post, Digging into the Popular Library at
the Montana Valley Book Store.”
This is a
particularly odd example. MGM purchased the film rights to Keeper
of the Flame
when the book was still
unpublished. It was then published by Random House before the film was
released, but subsequent runs featured a dust jacket with a still shot from the
movie.
Aside from the
unusual story, Keeper
of the Flame
–both the novel and the
film–are far more interesting seen in the context of their external connections
and references. One watches the film looking for hints of the budding
attraction between Hepburn and Tracy. One reads the novel in light of the
figures such as Charles Lindburgh {sic}
and Father Coughlin who inspired popular movements in America in the 1930s and
1940s–movements we now see as having a darker side.
Having written
recently about Wylie’s memoir, My
Life with George
, I was impressed by two aspects of the book. First, it’s
hard not to think that Wylie wrote it for the screen: there are at least a
dozen scenes that play out exactly as filmed, and the whole sequence of the
narrative matches that of the film so tightly it could have been a novelization
after the fact. Second, despite the many superficial and clichéd
characterizations, it’s obvious that Wylie was a very world-smart woman: if she
played down her intelligence, it was because she’d had, by the 1940s, also
thirty years’ experience of making a living with her writing.
To judge by Amazon’s book information, Grosset and Dunlap, not
Random House, published Wylie’s book in 1942 before the film was released.
The article has a link to a review of one of Wylie’s other books (also
by anonymous), My Life with George.
And what is Keeper of
the Flame
(the film) about?
Spencer Tracy plays Steven ‘Stevie’ O’Malley, a war correspondent
who returns to the States to seek out the widow of Robert Forrest (a character
who never appears in the film), an apparently charismatic war hero (WWI) who
had risen as a powerful political force. Katherine Hepburn plays Christine
Forrest, Forrest’s widow. O’Malley, who admires Forrest and what he ostensively
stood for, wants to write a “true” biography of Robert Forrest, and requests
the help of his widow. Inexplicably, she is reluctant to help O’Malley
perpetuate the memory of her late husband.
Forrest was killed in an accident when his car drove off a
collapsed bridge during a thunder storm. O’Malley begins to suspect that
Forrest’s death was indeed caused by the collapsed bridge – and that no one tried
to warn him about the bridge. I won’t say much more about the plot. This is a
well-made film, directed by George Cukor, boasting a top cast, and even if it
was wartime propaganda (released by MGM in March 1943), it is well worth
watching. It’s rentable on Amazon Instant Videos. There are parallels in the
overall theme that mesh with today’s fascination with Barack Obama and how he
has remained untouchable by the news media and the Left. Obama succeeded where
Forrest did not.
However, the most important aspect of Keeper of the Flame was then and still is its political message:
Some heroes become fascists. They advocate “Americanisms” which aren’t really
“Americanisms” but instead are crypto-values disguising the tenets of fascism,
which are anti-democratic, anti-religion, anti-liberty, and even racist.
Although many of the pro-democracy and pro-liberty sentiments expressed in the
film are banal and clichéd, and on close examination, specious, I found it
curious that CommunismCommunism
didn’t come in for the same criticism. It seemed that no one in Hollywood
realized that one can be enslaved or murdered by a hammer and sickle as
effectively and permanently as by a swastika.
That was because Soviet Russia was an alleged ally, and orders
came down from the Roosevelt administration that Hollywood was to refrain from any
criticism of Communism and
“Uncle” Josef Stalin, even though it was known that the Soviet Union was as
much a totalitarian hellhole as was Nazi Germany. Hollywood obeyed. It was okay
to excoriate Hitler and Nazism (and even American heroes; many reader comments
on the IMDB
site
voiced the suspicion that Keeper
of the Flame
was a roman à clef about
Charles
Lindberg
, who was pro-Nazi), but not Stalin and his dictatorship.
For a compelling and an encyclopedic-documented exposé of the
political atmosphere during WWII as relates to Hollywood and its
self-censorship concerning the Soviet Union, see Diana West’s American
Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation’s Character
, which
discusses, among other things (especially Soviet spies, American and Soviet),
how FDR was basically Stalin’s policy poodle when it came to fighting the war
and painting an uncritical, benevolent face of Stalin and CommunismCommunism (for American
“morale” reasons). See also her column about Senator Joseph
McCarthy
, and M.
Stanton Evans’s
Breitbart article on how anyone questioning the copasetic
relationship between FDR and Stalin was and still is mercilessly slandered,
libeled, and misrepresented.
Mad Men
On someone’s recommendation, I began watching Mad Men on Netflix when it debuted years ago. Season Seven, the
very last season, has already debuted this month. But as time went by – and I
watched the series only because of the ballyhoo surrounding it, so I figured it
was a culturally significant series to watch – my yawns grew longer and louder.
I always found the character of Don Draper, the chief “mad man,” played by John
Hamm (whom I guess would be regarded as a “hunk” to most women) not so much a
mysterious character, as an ambiguous, amorphous, and extraordinarily shallow
one. He was so dull and pedestrian that even, from the standpoint of
disinterested prurience, his many graphically-portrayed episodes of promiscuity
and philandering were yawners. His character was so bland that when he was
angry and threw things around, one couldn’t get excited.
Hamm’s Don Draper invites one to redefine “average.” His life and
even his name were frauds, he was not particularly brilliant in devising
advertising campaigns, his manner and motives were inscrutable, and he was so
unexceptional a character that he never even left a bad taste in my mouth.  He left no taste at all.  One couldn’t hate him. How can one hate a
nonentity?
I stuck with the series, expecting the character to grow, but he
remained stunted in a milieu of glamorous pragmatism. None of the other
recurring characters in the series (and there are about three dozen) elicited the
least sympathy or empathy in me. I think I watched the series from a sense of
nostalgia for the 1960’s, when the government and the Left had not yet clamped
down on smoking, drinking, “truth in advertising,” and unapologetically looking
at women as sex objects – among other things the government now regulates or
has something to say about. I also worked in New York City in the time in which
the series is set, and for not a few advertising agencies, and recognized the
landmarks and clothing and the hectic nature of the business.
Mad Men is naturalism
taken to its basic, unembellished level. Purportedly, this was how life was
back in the 1960s on Madison Avenue. And…? If this was a “slice of life,” who
would want it?
House of Cards
President Barack Obama and former president
Bill Clinton have weighed in on the credibility of the Kevin Spacey House
of Cards
. Their statements about the American TV political series dramatizing
the climb to power and the presidency by an amoral creature through murder,
stealth, sacrificing others, and verisimilitude are not surprising, because both
Obama and Clinton achieved power by the same means. Well, perhaps not by
murder, but by employing a fleet of buses under which to throw their many victims,
including the American people. 

About half a century ago, President John F.
Kennedy, not a man I admire by any means, confessed he liked Ian Fleming’s
James Bond novels, popular adventure literature that dramatized good vs. evil. Well
into the 21st century a sitting president and a former president have expressed
admiration for evil and its triumph. To date, that is the thematic essence of House of Cards.
Britain’s Daily
Mail
on April 3rd reported on the twelve-second “selfie” (and that’s all
one could call it):
President
Barack Obama took a break from being the real president on April Fools’ Day to
impersonate a fictional one, House of Cards’ conniving Frank Underwood.  ‘Hello everybody. This is not Frank
Underwood,’ the president said after turning his head Underwood, who is played
by Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey and frequently speaks Shakespearean-style
monologues to the audience. ‘This is Barack Obama. Happy April Fools’ Day.
Frank learned it from me,’ he said.

He has previously admitted to watching the Netflix show, though he says that
life in Washington is not as dramatic as portrayed by Kevin Spacey and others. ‘I
wish things were that ruthlessly efficient,’ he said in 2013.  The short
clip in front of a portrait of Abraham Lincoln begins with a statement of the
time and date, a commonly used scene entry device in House of Cards.

Meanwhile, Bill Clinton confessed to Charlie Rose to being a House of Cards “binger,”
watching continuous episodes of it for days. The New York Daily News reported
in August 2013:
The former
President told “Cards” star Kevin
Spacey
, “I love that show. It’s so good,” the actor revealed in a
Charlie
Rose interview that aired on Bloomberg
this week.
“We
watched it over three days it was so good,” he told Spacey about not
having the forbearance to spread out his viewing.
I’ve reviewed the Spacey House of Cards on Rule of Reason here,
here,
here,
and here.
I concluded House of Cards:
A Post-Mortem in February 2014  with:
Ayn Rand, the
novelist/philosopher, could solve such as paradox as the self-denigrating
nature of “House of Cards” and note that:
“To the extent
to which a man is rational, life is the premise directing his actions. To the
extent to which he is irrational, the premise directing his actions is
death
.”*
The whole of
Frank Underwood’s character is devoted to the irrational, and the irrationality
he practices necessitates inflicting pain to acquire political power. He doesn’t
actually want to live; but neither does he want anyone else to survive his
death-wish, either.
That is nihilism.
While the finale of Season 3 of House of Cards ended with an anti-climax – Claire, Underwood’s
wife, played by Robin Wright, has announced that she’s leaving him just when he
needs her to secure election, thus guaranteeing losing the election – Kevin Spacey
has claimed that the series will run for twelve
seasons
.
The actor, who
plays vice president-elect Frank Underwood going into the show’s second series,
once joked that the Netflix original production could go on for a mega 37
series – but has since had a bit of a change of heart. Quizzed on how long
he thinks the show could go on for, he told Digital Spy: ’12 years, 12
seasons.’
That’s as bad and discouraging as predicting twelve more years of
Barack Obama.
*The Virtue of Selfishness,
by Ayn Rand. 1964. New York: Signet. P. 25.

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