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  1. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men. – Lord Acton to Bishop Creighton, 1887 Francis "Frank" Underwood is absolutely corrupted, and isn't a "great man," except perhaps in the eyes of lesser men, no less corrupted but out-maneuvered by Underwood in the give-and-take-and-extortion business of Washington D.C. They pay him the respect and deference he expects of them, because they lost to him in the ruthless, cannibalistic pursuit of power that makes the slaughter of the French knights at Agincourt look like a Kennedy clan game of touch football. That comparison is of Kenneth Branagh's 1989 version of Henry V, not the Olivier. Who is Frank (or Francis) Underwood? He is the leading protagonist of Netflix's feature televised series, "House of Cards," which debuted earlier this month. Frank Underwood is the majority whip in the House of Representatives, shilling for handouts and preferential treatment for his South Carolina district. A protagonist is a leading character in a story who moves the story along by his actions. He could be a hero or a villain. Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, is a villain. Throughout the series, he makes no apology for it. Quite the opposite. He boasts of it. In "House of Cards," there are no heroes. Only villains of various shades of villainy, from gray to the blackest of blacks, fulfilling politically correct requisites on diversity, covering all the affirmative action mandates in gender, race, ethnic origin, and religion. "House of Cards" is an equal opportunity employer in its portrayal of corruption. In that respect, the series is very realistic, a reflection of "the way things are," in the spirit of droll naturalism. It is even more cynical than the 1962 film version of Allen Drury's Advise and Consent, which portrays the sordid lengths to which politicians will go to defeat a nominee for Secretary of State (played by Henry Fonda as Robert Leffingwell, a left-winger proposing a treaty with the Soviets), in which the villains are "right-wingers" who find dirt on a Senator whose confirmation vote is critical. "House of Cards" is an American knock-off of a hit British BBC trilogy that ran between 1990 and 1995. It is the title of the first of that series, followed after critical acclaim and popular demand by "To Play the King" and "The Final Cut." It follows the general plot line of the British trilogy, adapted for American audiences and issues. Season One of "House of Cards," in thirteen episodes, follows that plot line so closely, even in numerous scenes, that it's as though Spacey, his co-producers, writers, and directors laid a blank transparency over the trilogy and used a Magic Marker to write in where things should be changed, tweaked, and wrinkled. Plot spoilers follow, so, legit cavete. "House of Cards" is one of the most educational TV series to come along in a long time, posing as fiction, yet still instructive about how much of a giant whorehouse Washington D.C. is, not only in its politics, but in journalism and personal ethics. As knock-offs go, it's very well done, although Spacey frequently interrupts scenes and conversations with Shakespearean "asides" to the viewers. Underwood is a perfect name of what you would find beneath rotted wood, maggots, so I don't think the name is accidental. Likely, neither is the name of his chief aide, Doug Stamper, played by Michael Kelly (the surname is a leftover from the British series). Stamper puts out fires and crises with extortion and blackmail by prospecting for and cultivating dirt on Underwood's enemies, with a little bribery on the side. In the beginning of the series, Underwood plots to regain his nomination as Secretary of State, after a newly elected president, a very hollow man, reneges on his promise to nominate Underwood, and nominates someone else. Underwood contrives to get the new nominee withdrawn and a Hillary Clinton clone substituted, and then he's off and running to fresh new conspiracies. Incredibly, all the villains are Democrats. No Republican has put in an appearance yet, although that might change in Season Two. Republicans are mentioned as the opposition, although, to tell the truth, and to judge by the behavior and record of the Republicans, the series could just as well be a portrayal of their political means and ends. Look how they keep an arm's length from the Tea Party and seasoned politicians (e.g., Allen West) who hold Tea Party convictions. Not to mention their flip-flopping on issues such as the budget, military spending, and immigration. The story is compelling because it realistically portrays the sprawling Washington whorehouse. The most pathetic character is the vice president, based vaguely on Vice President Joe Biden, whose biggest complaint was that the president didn't give him one of the pens used to sign an education bill, engineered by Spacey, souvenir pens given to Spacey and a couple of kids in a scene reminiscent of Obama signing an executive order for gun control or Obamacare. Overall, the sleaze dramatized in "House of Cards" is so well done you half expect it to leave crud or mold on your screen. The British series debuted on the expiration of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's tenure. It's claimed that it helped to secure John Major the election, because "House of Cards" was broadcast days before an election. Based on the novel by Michael Dobbs, Major said of it that it had done for his triumph "what Dracula did for baby-sitting." The British series was meant to repudiate the Tories and conservatism, because Francis Urqhart (played with bone-chilling correctness by Ian Richardson), the protagonist and aside-maker of that series, is a Tory Conservative more coldly ruthless and amoral than is Underwood in his smug, cynical, and contemptuous rancidness. But one must wonder what else could be the intention of the American version but to repudiate the Democrats. The difference here is that Underwood is a Democrat who is manipulating people and things to expand or preserve government controls in education, development, the environment, and so on, not because he sincerely believes in or values these things, but because they're stepping stones to power. His wife, Claire, runs her of charity, CWI, which caters to the poor in Africa and is always politicking for donor support. Her campaign for money becomes enmeshed in Underwood's schemes. Actress Robin Wright, who plays Claire, remarked that the character is "Lady to Underwood's Macbeth." As a couple who tolerate each other's infidelities, and who regard their marriage as a kind of non-aggression pact and alliance in pursuit of power, they reminded me most of Bill and Hillary Clinton. For all I know, Frank and Claire Underwood were modeled on the Clintons, another Macbethian couple. There's nothing in the story that indicates otherwise. (Except that Robin Wright's Claire is a knock-out and less of a windbag than is Hillary.) It even features a doppelganger of the British female journalist who's angling for power and gets herself in cahoots with Underwood. Zoe Barnes is a pushy, ambitious, obnoxious little vixen who also becomes Underwood's sharp-tongued mistress. In the first of the British series, the journalist, Mattie, a possible thorn in Urqhart's side, is murdered by him when he throws her off the roof garden of Parliament, even though she professes her love for him and tries to reassure him of her loyalty. What Season Two has in store for Zoe Barnes remains to be seen. Underwood has personally murdered a conflicted Representative, Peter Russo of Pennsylvania, who was a loose cannon in Spacey's plans. He murders him as coldly as he killed an injured dog in the first episode, ostensively to put it out of its misery, but also because he seems to enjoy killing as an expression of his power. As with a character from the British series, Russo's drug and drinking problems become a threat to Underwood. Season One's last episode has Zoe Barnes suddenly realizing that Spacey and his Stamper fixer-aide might have been behind a lot of the nasty stuff. At this point, I think the American version of HOC will do to the Democrats what it's alleged the British series did to the Tories. To date, all the protagonists in it are progressive Democrats pushing welfare state, environmental, and fascist economic programs (business/government development partnerships). And they're all pragmatic, compromising, malleable villains, if not conspirators against the president or other politicos. This is how American TV series and movies usually smear the Republicans or anyone else who opposes the Democratic agenda or Progressivism. Since 9/11, Hollywood has churned out over a dozen anti-American movies. Usually the uncaring, cruel, and nasty villains are Republicans. So, if Season Two of the series continues (it's "in development"), and remains an adumbrated replicant of the British series, the Democrats will be painted in blacker terms than anyone could ever have imagined. No "right-wing" weblog or newspaper or magazine could do a more thorough job of it than has "House of Cards." And unless the series departs from the British model, there is a question of how another thirteen episodes of it can be stretched out to the climax. The British series ends (in "The Final Cut") with a triumphant Urqhart riding to Buckingham Palace as the new Prime Minister. He has forced the King to abdicate, and has vanquished all his enemies, in the Party and out of it. And he doesn't look in the least troubled by his crimes, which were committed wholesale. So, as a prediction, it's likely that Frank Underwood will manipulate his way the White House at the end of the American version. He is a consummate manipulator and string-puller. Please excuse the speculation. It can't be helped. Democrats are like that. Look at President Barack Obama, and Bill Clinton. Their political and personal careers could be dramatized just as well as Frank Underwood's, with the focus on the darker chapters of their rise to power. Which means everything about them. The only "anti-capitalist" elements in the American version are Claire Underwood's foundation, "Clean Water Initiative (CWI), a billionaire who somehow owns a lot of nuclear power plants, and some natural gas conglomerate, the latter two entities intimately tied to the president and to the plot and the competition for government favors. But I suppose that if you were going to indict the Democrats, you would need a couple of "private" interests lobbying for those favors (a la Orren Boyle's Associated Steel Company in Atlas Shrugged). The Republicans could also be indicted for the same practice. But in Spacey's "House of Cards," all stops are pulled and the indictment is merciless. However, if the series does take a noticeable turn away from the British model, it could only mean that the producers were lectured to or warned by the White House and the DNC and other parties to "cool it," and find some other villains to pick on. I have never liked Kevin Spacey as an actor. In his past hits, such as American Beauty (1999) and L.A. Confidential (1997), his cynical, sneering mien was less developed but no less repellant than it is in "House of Cards." It never goes away, just as the malevolent masculinity of Robert Mitchum never left him even when he played good guys (and he perfected that attribute as the menacing, nihilist villain Max Cady in Cape Fear, 1962). But, here is the paradox: Spacey is a Hollywood liberal. He is a close friend of Bill Clinton, once calling him "one of the shining lights of the political process." He is friends with Hugo Chavez, the Marxist Venezuelan dictator. According to Wikipedia, he has contributed over $42,000 to Democratic candidates and committees. So, why has he produced a series that damns the Democrats, and, by implication, the Progressive agenda to turn the U.S. into a welfare state and the government into a "soft" fascist régime? If Netflix is right and the series becomes a hit, the Democrats may become a permanent dart board for anyone who doubts the propriety of the "democratic" (read "populist" or "statist") process. In 2010, Spacey said that broadcasters should carry "legitimate" political ads for free during election periods. Who would decide which ads are "legitimate" and which or not, he does not say. We already have a Federal Election Committee that does that. Spacey was asked by Wolf about his predilection for political movies: Emmy award-winning actor Kevin Spacey, star of the new film Casino Jack, says he blames television networks “to some degree” for lobbyist influence on the political process. He says television networks should run legitimate political ads "for free" as a public service. “Well, I think you have to separate the idea of that what lobbyists can do is be an informational conduit for Congressman and Senators to understand specific bills and specific issues in other countries but at the same time, I think that there is no doubt that the amount of influence and power and money dampens the political process. I think it discourages people from public office,” he told CNSNews.com at the E Street Cinema before the Washington screening of the film sponsored by the Creative Coalition. In a Hollywood Reporter interview, he said: Spacey: "The lobbying industry and what it has done in terms of Washington politics, and Casino Jack (and Recount about the Gore-Bush issue in the Florida vote count of 2000)…I'm very driven by the opportunity to examine current situations and current things happening in the world…. I think these are very important subjects for us to understand and see how we got where we are and if we can make it better than it is…." Interviewer: "And reality is almost as outrageous as art, you can't even make this stuff up half the time." Spacey: "You're right. I would go back to the hotel in Baltimore where we were shooting the first season, and I'd watch the news at night, this last election cycle… and I'd think, our story lines are not that crazy." Crazy as a fox? Or just plain crazy? We won't know the answer to this paradox until Season Two of "House of Cards" is aired (or live-streamed on computers). After all, Spacey, Fincher and the scriptwriters could have easily remained more faithful to the purpose of the British version, which was to repudiate Thatcher and her policies, and instead targeted the Republicans for political and dramatic excoriation. It wouldn't have taken much in the script or in the characterizations. If Spacey is accusing the lobbying industry of being venal, conspiratorial, and corrupting, he should know that it takes two to tango. If Congressmen and Cabinet heads and bureaucrats weren't so venal, conspiratorial, and corruptible, he would have no complaint. He could go back to the live stage and give Ian Richardson a run for his money in Macbeth or Richard the Third. Otherwise, go figure. Link to Original
  2. The New York Times isn't called The Gray Lady for nothing. It has entered its 162nd year of publication. Despite its falling daily circulation that hovers tenuously around one million, it is still regarded as the nation's "newspaper of record." It boasts a monthly tally of thirty million "visitors" to its online version. "Visitors," however, does not necessarily translate into "readers." Once the most widely read paper in the nation, today it follows USA Today and The Wall Street Journal in circulation. In the 19th century, it was largely a Republican paper, until it turned "independent." The Times' record of reporting "all the news that's fit to print" is not immaculate. Its offences are legion. Too often it was charged with fitting the news to conform to the paper's growing partiality for collectivist ideologies. Today, it is more or less notorious for it. Its crimes of commission include the Walter Duranty series of articles in 1931 that omitted mention of the Soviet government's engineered campaign of starvation in the Ukraine, which claimed millions of lives, but for which Duranty received a Pulitzer Prize. In 2001, it was revealed that before, during and even after World War II, the paper "minimized" reports of the Nazi genocide of Jews by briefly mentioning the atrocities in stories buried deep inside its pages. There were the Pentagon Papers in 1971, which revealed U.S. military strategy in Vietnam, a war it opposed vociferously in tune with the anti-war and anti-America mantra of the Left. There was Jayson Blair, a reporter who was caught plagiarizing other newspapers and falsifying facts and whom the Times had hired to prove its commitment to affirmative action. The paper reproduced exclusively the prosecution's perspective in the Duke University/lacrosse rape case. Finally, the paper has adopted an anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian policy that colors every bit of its news reportage, and not just in its editorializing. More recently, it has become a kind of publicist for the anti-wealth and anti-freedom complaints of the likes of Occupy Wall Street, running an article that condemned the Constitution, whose writer, Georgetown University constitutional law professor Louis Michael Seidman, called the document "archaic" and "idiosyncratic" and said contained "downright evil provisions." As though that weren't enough, it has applauded the purchase of Al Gore's failed propaganda outlet, Current TV, by Al Jazeera, the Muslim Brotherhood's propaganda outlet. The Times acted as point-man in a libel case, New York Times Co. vs. Sullivan, that involved the number of times Martin Luther King, Jr. had been arrested in Alabama by the state police as reported by the Times, and by implication, it was charged with defaming the character of Montgomery police supervisor L.B. Sullivan. The case went to the Supreme Court in 1964. Citing the First and Fourteenth Amendments, the Court held that the Times could not be sued for defamation of character because no malice was intended. Factual error, content defamatory of official reputation, or both, are insufficient to warrant an award of damages for false statements unless "actual malice" -- knowledge that statements are false or in reckless disregard of the truth -- is alleged and proved…. In short, the Court, in overturning an Alabama Supreme Court finding, ruled that malice could not be proven because no one can get inside a reporter's head to prove that he had malicious intent. The evidence was constitutionally insufficient to support the judgment for respondent, since it failed to support a finding that the statements were made with actual malice or that they related to respondent. Let's try to get inside the Times' collective policy head and try to grasp why its policymakers would, on one hand, condone a condemnation of the Constitution, and on the other, applaud the establishment of an Islamist propaganda medium in this country. Let us try to see what "malicious intent" looks like. In the Constitution article, the Times implicitly and in agreement repudiates the Supreme Court's Sullivan decision that the paper is protected by the First Amendment, which its author disputes has anything to do with freedom of speech and of the press. The Times ran the article without a proviso that it did not necessarily agree with Seidman's statements. In his December 30th article, "Let's Give Up on the Constitution," Seidman provides us with a fantasy scenario linked to the "fiscal cliff" gridlock in Congress and serves as the premise of his whole article: Imagine that after careful study a government official — say, the president or one of the party leaders in Congress — reaches a considered judgment that a particular course of action is best for the country. Suddenly, someone bursts into the room with new information: a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries, knew nothing of our present situation, acted illegally under existing law and thought it was fine to own slaves might have disagreed with this course of action. Is it even remotely rational that the official should change his or her mind because of this divination? This is hypothesizing one would find in supermarket tabloids. All it lacks are Photoshopped pictures of the Founders hassling Obama in the Oval Office. It's time travel without the CGI. Concerned that his fantasy might be taken out of context, Seidman attempts to provide a context. Constitutional disobedience may seem radical, but it is as old as the Republic. In fact, the Constitution itself was born of constitutional disobedience. When George Washington and the other framers went to Philadelphia in 1787, they were instructed to suggest amendments to the Articles of Confederation, which would have had to be ratified by the legislatures of all 13 states. Instead, in violation of their mandate, they abandoned the Articles, wrote a new Constitution and provided that it would take effect after ratification by only nine states, and by conventions in those states rather than the state legislatures. Seidman provides other contextless examples, as well, citing John Adams supporting the Alien and Sedition Acts, Jefferson's notion that every constitution should expire after a single generation, his Louisiana Purchase, and other instances of presidents exceeding their constitutional authority, in addition to some Supreme Court decisions he alleges go contrary to the Constitution. In the face of this long history of disobedience, it is hard to take seriously the claim by the Constitution’s defenders that we would be reduced to a Hobbesian state of nature if we asserted our freedom from this ancient text. Our sometimes flagrant disregard of the Constitution has not produced chaos or totalitarianism; on the contrary, it has helped us to grow and prosper. So, because the Constitution was ignored, contradicted, or usurped in the past, we may as well scrap it and begin anew, fabricating a "compact" that answers the needs of our modern times. His reference to Thomas Hobbes, author of Leviathan, a 17th century political tract that sanctions strong or authoritarian central governments, is evidence of Seidman's superficial grasp of our current situation. The federal government is assuredly on the road to a totalitarianism of the Fascist/Marxist kind, and at present the bewildering forest of laws, regulations, prohibitions, mandates, and powers has produced a chaos not easily mastered even by the most knowledgeable statist or informed politician. Seidman then expresses a concern that by discarding the document that has so far haltingly guaranteed certain liberties, we shouldn't see the negation of those liberties: This is not to say that we should disobey all constitutional commands. Freedom of speech and religion, equal protection of the laws and protections against governmental deprivation of life, liberty or property are important, whether or not they are in the Constitution. We should continue to follow those requirements out of respect, not obligation. You must wonder what Seidman imagines would protect freedom of speech, life, liberty, and property if there were no Constitutional restraints on what a government may or may not do. What "respect" have a succession of administrations and Congresses shown for them even with the Constitution? When has the New York Times ever shown "respect" for them? What dictator or tyrant has shown "respect" for them in the absence of such a Constitution? Without a codified set of defined liberties and enumerated powers that a government may not exceed, none of these liberties could be guaranteed or save from obviation. Seidman begins to let his cat out of the bag. And as we see now, the failure of the Congress and the White House to agree has already destabilized the country. Countries like Britain and New Zealand have systems of parliamentary supremacy and no written constitution, but are held together by longstanding traditions, accepted modes of procedure and engaged citizens. We, too, could draw on these resources. So, we should model ourselves after countries that are full-fledged welfare states with no governmental restraints on what they can do for the "general welfare"? Seidman endorses the linguistic analysis, subjectivist notion that the words in the Constitution (as well as in the Declaration of Independence) have no relevance to today's collectivist spirit and yearnings, that they can be stretched or "interpreted" to mean anything anyone wishes them to mean, and that obedience is the highest virtue a citizen can aspire to. After referring to the Constitution as a "poetic piece of parchment," and cautioning that "No one can predict in detail what our system of government would look like if we freed ourselves from the shackles of constitutional obligation," he writes: If we acknowledged what should be obvious — that much constitutional language is broad enough to encompass an almost infinitely wide range of positions — we might have a very different attitude about the obligation to obey. It would become apparent that people who disagree with us about the Constitution are not violating a sacred text or our core commitments. Instead, we are all invoking a common vocabulary to express aspirations that, at the broadest level, everyone can embrace. [Italics mine] Words have no absolute meanings, but obedience is an absolute obligation not to be questioned. And it can be predicted what our system of government would look like sans the shackles of constitutional obligation: authoritarian, and too likely, totalitarian. No checks and balances, no referenda, no debates, no discussions, no escape, mercy at the whim of a tyrant, and fiat law that would produce a chaos which a régime would answer with more controls and exact more stringent obedience on the part of the enslaved. The end result would be firing squads and concentration camps and a lottery of death. After all, pleads Seidman: If we are not to abandon constitutionalism entirely, then we might at least understand it as a place for discussion, a demand that we make a good-faith effort to understand the views of others, rather than as a tool to force others to give up their moral and political judgments. How does adherence to the Constitution "force others to give up their moral and political judgments"? It doesn't, or shouldn't, force liberals, leftists, fascists, and Marxists to give up their political judgments. What it does – or should do – is prevent them from forcing their judgments on the rest of us. The federal government, however, has forcing their judgments on the rest of us for well over a century. Freedom from "constitutional bondage," concludes Seidman, would allow us to "give real freedom a chance." W hose freedom? That of the statists, collectivists, and others who would be free to lock everyone into a single barracks for indentured servants? All 20th century tyrants have imposed dictatorial régimes as a means of granting themselves the freedom to act. Hello, Mr. Seidman? Anybody home? Are you asking for an American version of Hitler's Enabling Act of 1933? His was passed by the Reichstag in an opera house. I think the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts would also be a perfect venue to vote ourselves into a dictatorship. Don’t you agree? The New York Times certainly would. Let us now turn to the Times' newly discovered TV station, Al Jazeera, which also broadcasts "all the news that fits." Fits what? Lest anyone think that Al Gore doesn’t believe in free enterprise, Bloomberg News has a shock in store for you: The deal highlights Gore’s makeover from career politician to successful businessman. His take from the Current TV sale is many times the maximum net worth of $1.7 million he reported while running for president in 1999. Besides investing in startups, Gore is on the board of Apple Inc., an adviser to Google Inc., according to his website biography, and a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Gore’s holdings also include investments in Amazon.com Inc., EBay Inc. and Procter & Gamble Co. through his Generation Investment Management LLP. Most of Gore’s investments are made through Generation Investment Management, which he co-founded with former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive David Blood. The most recent regulatory filing lists about $3.6 billion under management in 29 publicly traded companies. In addition, Generation Investment Management also has stakes in private ventures such as Nest Labs, a company formed by Apple Inc. alumni to create a thermostat that adapts to user behavior and saves money. The fund also backed Elon Musk’s SolarCity Corp. (SCTY), a developer of rooftop solar power systems that went public last month. In April, Gore’s fund was part of $110 million in venture capital invested in Harvest Power Inc., a closely held company that produces renewable energy from waste such as food scraps. Gore can only strut as a "successful businessman" if the government subsidizes these companies, or passes legislation forcing everyone else to patronize them. So rich a man as Gore, in these times, can only "profit" if he's a member of what Ayn Rand called an "aristocracy of pull." Forbes notes further that Gore is also tax-savvy. Regardless of whether one lauds or criticizes Mr. Gore’s actions in the sale to Al Jazeera, he is likely to pay U.S. taxes influenced in part by the fiscal cliff deal. Current TV has $41.4 million in debt and preferred holders with first dibs on $99.5 million, according to a 2008 regulatory filing. Current TV appears to be an LLC, and that will help Mr. Gore enormously. How will Mr. Gore and his compatriots do? Initially named INdTV Holdings, the Current TV LLC was founded in 2002 by Mr. Gore and businessman Joel Hyatt. They appear to be shrewd investors. The LLC should facilitate a single tax on the deal, not the two taxes common to more established businesses. LLCs are tax reporting entities but the members pay tax on their share. If Mr. Gore and other members sell their interests, their own tax basis in their interests will count. But whether Al Jazeera is buying assets from Current TV or membership interests from Mr. Gore and others, this should be a nice single-tax payday. Not every business seller is so lucky. But, what about Al Jazeera? Al Jazeera is a Qatar-funded "private" news organization that is acknowledged to be the propaganda vehicle for the Muslim Brotherhood. Having gained little or no traction in finding carriage or distribution in the U.S., it finally found a willing partner in Al Gore's insipid enterprise, Current TV. He has sold it to Al Jazeera for a reported $500 million, and will profit from the sale to the tune of $71 million. Al Jazeera's connections with the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorism bother him not. WND reported, on announcement of the sale: Al Jazeera this week announced a plan to establish a new U.S. cable news channel, tentatively call Al Jazeera America, utilizing the purchase of Current TV. The Qatar-financed network is hoping to retain and even increase Current TV’s distribution rights in more than 40 million homes to broadcast its own new network. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E. are also major funders of terrorism, and also of programs now installed in American public schools to persuade students of the "benign" nature of totalitarian Islam. Gore failed to brainwash the world with his An Inconvenient Truth, although he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his failure, just as President Barack Obama was. But he found another way to skin the cat. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of the top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, rose to fame in the Arab world after Al Jazeera gave him his a major platform. Many regard Qaradawi as the de facto spiritual leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Qaradawi achieved star status because of his regular sermons and interviews on Al Jazeera. Gore must know this. But the truth is inconvenient or irrelevant and he'd rather not think about it. Al Jazeera was founded with financing from the emir of Qatar, Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who previously served as the network’s chairman. The network is still financed largely from Qatar, where its headquarters are located. The current chairman of Al Jazeera is Sheik Hamad bin Thamer Al Thani, the Qatari emir’s cousin. Keeping it in the family seems to be a theme shared by Al Jazeera and Current TV. About Current TV, Bloomberg News reported that: The network's investors included funds controlled by Los Angeles billionaire Ron Bruce Burkett and San Francisco money manager Richard Blum, according to the 2008 filing, when the company unsuccessfully sought to sell stock to the public. Blum is married to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from San Francisco. But, back to Qatar. The Qatar Foundation International, or QFI, a nonprofit group financed by the government of Qatar, last year gave Harlem’s Hamilton Heights, a K-5 public school, a $250,000 grant to support the Arabic program for three years…. In addition to the Harlem school, WND found that QFI just awarded “Curriculum Grants” to seven U.S. schools and language organizations to “develop comprehensive and innovative curricula and teaching materials to be used in any Arabic language classroom.” The schools include Bell High School, a Los Angeles public school, and Safford K-8 in Arizona’s Tucson Unified School District. And, here's that family connection again: QFI, based in Washington, D.C., is the U.S. branch of the Qatar Foundation, founded in 1995 by Qatari ruling emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the Al Jazeera founder. Thani is still the group’s vice-chairman, while his wife, Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, chairs the organization’s board. Why would Qatar be funding Arabic language programs in American schools? Why, to better enable students to read the Koran and its companion texts in the original tongue. It's fairly common knowledge among "Islamophobes" and other critics of Islam that what Islamic spokesmen say publically in English is quite the opposite of what they say in Arabic. This practice is called taqiyya or Islamic double-speak. If an Islamic supremacist publically offers Israel or Obama or the West an olive branch, in private, behind doors closed to the MSM, it says it is offering a slave collar to infidels and a beheading sword to Jews. WND reports further: In January 2012, the foundation launched the Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics under the guidance of Tariq Ramadan, who serves as the center’s director. Ramadan is the grandson of the notorious founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al Banna. Ramadan was banned from the U.S. until 2010 when the Obama administration issued him a visa to give a lecture at a New York school. It isn't just the Brotherhood that is offering us slave collars and beheading swords. It is our own President. And, don't wonder where former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got her news about what was happening around the world and a clue about how to formulate her own dismal and failed policies. The New York Post had this interesting tidbit about the popularity of Al Jazeera in the administration: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a Senate Foreign Relations Committee last March that viewership of Al-Jazeera is going up in the US “because it’s real news.” “You may not agree with it, but you feel like you’re getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and, you know, arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news, which, you know, is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners,” Clinton said. The New York Times practically drools over the prospect of an Islamic propaganda machine "competing" with the MSM, although the MSM hasn’t done too badly acting as Obama's de facto Ministry of Truth. Only, it isn't a Brotherhood-connected propaganda machine. It's just another news outlet that will help bring "truth" to the American viewing public. Qatar is mentioned in its report, "Al Jazeera English Finds an Audience" (January 31st, 2011), but no mention of that oil fiefdom's links to funding terrorism. Praising Al Jazeera during the protests in 2011 against President Hosni Mubarak, it noted: Al Jazeera English, however, is indisputably unique. In recent days, the channel, an offshoot of the main Arabic-language Al Jazeera, has gained attention for its up-close, around-the-clock coverage of the protests in Cairo, Alexandria, sues, and other cities in Egypt. Al Jazeera is "unique," without a doubt. It is the Brotherhood's propaganda outlet. The Times, guilty itself of recasting "facts" to fit its political proclivities and ignoring genuine facts that don't fit, can no longer distinguish between news and propaganda, thus explaining why it would applaud the debut of Al Jazeera in the U.S. Mr. Gore demonstrated just how good a businessman he is. He sold his pitiful investment to an Islamic propaganda machine for more money than it was worth, because it had "journalistic muscle" and the money – read oil money – to compete with American news channels. In its January 2nd article on the pending sale, "Al Jazeera Seeks a U.S. Voice Where Gore Failed," the Times wrote: Al Jazeera, the pan-Arab news giant, has long tried to convince Americans that it is a legitimate news organization, not a parrot of Middle Eastern propaganda or something more sinister. It just bought itself 40 million more chances to make its case. Al Jazeera on Wednesday announced a deal to take over Current TV, the low-rated cable channel that was founded by Al Gore, a former vice president, and his business partners seven years ago. Al Jazeera plans to shut Current and start an English-language channel, which will be available in more than 40 million homes, with newscasts emanating from both New York and Doha, Qatar…. A decade ago, Al Jazeera’s flagship Arabic-language channel was reviled by American politicians for showing videotapes from Al Qaeda members and sympathizers. Now the news operation is buying an American channel, having convinced Mr. Gore and the other owners of Current that it has the journalistic muscle and the money to compete head-to-head with CNN and other news channels in the United States. Well, there will be no more vilification of Herr Goebbels' – excuse me, Mr. Gore's – money moxie, nor of Al Jazeera, because it will have achieved "respectability" as a legitimate news outlet in the U.S. Going forward, the challenge will be persuading Americans to watch — an extremely tough proposition given the crowded television marketplace and the stereotypes about the channel that persist to this day. “There are still people who will not watch it, who will say that it’s a ‘terrorist network,’ ” said Philip Seib, the author of The Al Jazeera Effect. Al Jazeera has to override that by providing quality news.” It will be a challenge. Americans are already saddled with the MSM, which many no longer trust for objective news reporting, and sense are heavily biased and serve as the government's journalistic poodle on one hand and a pit bull on the other. The MSM are considered by many to be the collective mouthpiece of too many collectivist agendas that will affect their lives, wealth, standard of living, and future. They'd rather get their news from Internet weblogs and live-stream Internet channels. Still, oblivious to the trends, the New York Times plods on. Al Jazeera, which has bureaus in New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Miami and Chicago, intends to open several more in other American cities. “There’s a major hole right now that Al Jazeera can fill. And that is providing an alternative viewpoint to domestic news, which is very parochial,” said Cathy Rasenberger, a cable consultant who has worked with Al Jazeera on distribution issues in the past. However, she warned, “there is a limited amount of interest in international news in the United States.” Nowhere in this article, either, is there mention of Al Jazeera's terrorist connections, no hint of the propaganda character of its Islamic origins and purposes, no suggestion that Al Gore, an anti-wealth ex-politician and the Chicken Little of global warming, is going to make a questionable, hypocritical, and national security-violating bundle from the deal. Not a word of any of that is remarked on by the New York Times. The New York Times has grown as maliciously senile and useless as the radicals and left-wing demonstrators from the 1960's and 1970's who chanted and shouted during the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations to show their "solidarity" with the new generation of fascists and Marxists. It abandoned honest, objective journalism decades ago. Perhaps it's time for it to consider voluntary retirement. It is no longer fit to read. Link to Original
  3. The rectangle of light in the acres of a farm was the window of the library of Judge Narragansett. He sat at a table, and the light of his lamp fell on the copy of an ancient document. He had marked and crossed out the contradictions in its statements that had once been the cause of its destruction. He was now adding a new clause to its pages: "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade…."* Who is Judge Narragansett? What "ancient document" is he editing? And where is he doing it? Anyone who has read Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged will recognize the scene, which occurs near the end of the novel, when all the key strikers are secretly gathered in Galt's Gulch to await the collapse of the world they escaped. But I think too little attention has been paid to that short but key scene. When one boils down the active plot of the novel, one will see that all the conflicts and subplots are generated by the government having the power to abridge the freedom of production and trade. In short, to regulate and ultimately abolish the role of man's mind in existence. Dagny Taggart, the railroad "tycoon," is stymied by government rules and regulations of her freedom to act. So is Hank Rearden, who is blackmailed into giving the government the right to dispose of his new metal process and forced to "compete" with incompetents. So are all the novel's other producers and traders who vanish to leave the country and the world to try to flourish without them. This includes doctors, who refuse to work as indentured servants, and writers, and artists, and industrialists, and "common" men who did not wish to remain held down by the wishes of other men….and judges, who refuse to sanction injustice. That was Judge Narragansett.** Think for a moment of what his emendation of the Constitution implies and means. Of all the actions men might take to reclaim and preserve their freedom, that one correction is perhaps the most critical if a government is to be (re)formed that would break the bonds, chains, and fetters with and of the old. The Declaration of Independence reads: That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Correcting and amending the Constitution would be a form of "instituting" a new government, founded on the principle of individual rights and defining the concept of the initiation of force – especially that of a government. The federal government needn't be overthrown physically by violence, or even abolished; it should be overthrown or leashed by an idea, by reason, and that can be done with Narragansett's corrections. That is, it should be radically altered to effect the safety and happiness of Americans. But, what "rights" should be secured, what "rights" are destroyed by government force and unlimited power? Novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand wrote: A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man’s right to his own life….The concept of a “right” pertains only to action—specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.*** By "other men," Rand meant the agents of government force, and the politicians who empowered them to initiate force with their legislation. That includes every bureaucrat, department head, and even the occupant of the White House. There is a question circulating about whether or not a third political party would serve the purpose of ensuring the preservation of our rights. I think that question misses the point and it has not been answered in any practical or meaningful way. The solution to the problem of the number of political parties lies in those last pages of Atlas Shrugged. Judge Narragansett is writing on a copy of the Constitution , "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade…." That clause or amendment would prohibit any politician, Republican, Democrat, or third party, from acquiring any power over the economy and our lives. It's that simple. Any scheme originating in the House – assuming it could even pass – would ideally be scotched and rejected by the Senate. The legislation would never make the trip to the White House to be vetoed. The Senate, after all, was designed to quash any and all populist or "democratic" legislation. Modeled on the British Parliament's Houses of Commons and Lords, it was created to be the ultimate protector of the individual rights, private property, and so on. It has fallen down on that task, or forgotten its purpose (virtually every politician in Congress has but a very fuzzy grasp of what their chambers are for, never mind understanding the purpose of the Constitution), often conspiring with the House on how to write and pass statist legislation. If our representatives were prohibited from concocting any legislation that would abridge the freedom of production and trade, and held accountable for it by their constituents and the courts, then no politician could take action to expand the power of government without being opposed by his colleagues. Most politicians would stay home or not even run for office if there were no prospect of passing such legislation. Ideally, Congress would sit for perhaps two weeks a year – at most, a month – to clear up issues that might have arisen since the last session. Senators and Representatives would have no sumptuous salaries, have to make do with a minuscule staff (which they'd pay for from their pockets, unless their constituents chipped in to pay for staff), they would have no pensions, no medical or transportation perks, no junkets, little or nothing for free or paid for them. And when they retired or weren't reelected, they'd go back to their private businesses and live like everyone else. Above all, they would not be granted immunity from the consequences of their actions, as they are now. They would be held accountable and liable for criminal prosecution, as any other citizen would be for initiating force or committing fraud. One of the most laughable and recent instances of the absence of this brand of justice is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's admission during a Senate hearing of responsibility for the Benghazi terrorist raid. Yet she will leave the post with lifetime pensions and perks and be able to prepare herself to run for president in 2016. This is rewarding irresponsibility. That has been the Washington way for decades of holding politicians guilty of criminal or maleficent behavior "accountable." That has got to stop. And stopping it would serve as a deterrent against any one with political ambitions that go beyond the proper functions of government in domestic and foreign policies. Not being able to pass rights-violating legislation – or seeing that it would be an onerous project – would act as a disincentive for any ambitious statist. Rand put her finger on a fundamental political principle in that one scene in the novel. The Constitution, after all, was created to define the limits of government, not serve as a recipe for the expansion of federal powers. And that was the intention of that Narragansett scene. And what might be the other clauses in what hypothetically could be the Twenty-Eighth Amendment to the Constitution? For starters, the nullification of the Sixteenth Amendment, the income tax amendment, which technically was never ratified except on one politician's say-so. Then there is the Seventeenth Amendment, which provides for the direct election of Senators, which has contributed to the prostitution of the Senate, turning its members from Solons to electoral street walkers. This correction might necessitate a separate amendment, and not just a clause. The direct election of Senators has caused incalculable damage and mischief. The Eighteenth Amendment, sanctioning Prohibition, was repealed by the Twenty-First. The Twenty-Sixth Amendment, which provides for the voting rights of anyone eighteen years old or older, is a questionable amendment. Is the age of eighteen one in which an individual has acquired enough knowledge of politics and his rights to have a say in government? I doubt it. I think two or three years should be added to ensure that an individual acquires that knowledge once he has become a productive individual supporting his own life. The Twenty-Seventh Amendment, under Judge Narragansett's pen, would become moot. Revenue might be collected (non-coercively) for the upkeep of the Capitol Building, the White House, and other necessary federal buildings, and also for maintaining the military and federal courts. But for little else. A separate amendment might be required to cover these contingencies, but would also require a new set of Federalist Papers to iron out the ways and means. Today's politicians and political thinkers, however, are just not qualified to write those papers. One may as well assign the task to the Three Stooges and appoint Karl Marx, David Axelrod, Barack Obama, and Nancy Pelosi as their mentors. Judge Narragansett's twelve words in a Twenty-Eighth Amendment could make all the difference in the world – and in our lives. *Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. 1957. New York: Dutton/Penguin 35th Anniversary Edition, 1992. pp. 1167-1168. **For his explanation of why he went on strike, see pp. 742-743 of the novel. ***"Man's Rights," The Virtue of Selfishness. Link to Original
  4. I developed a dislike for Franklin D. Roosevelt in high school because he was oversold by my history teachers. He was portrayed as a kind of canonized secular saint who had saved the nation and the world from the ghastly phenomena of Depression and the Axis. Too young to judge FDR's political accomplishments, what inculcated an unshakable suspicion in me was the tone with which FDR was uncritically presented by the teachers to my history classes. (They were still called "history" classes back then, not "social science.") He could do no wrong, his intentions were unquestionably noble, he had sacrificed himself for the greater good, and to criticize him was to belabor the picayune and the arcane and reveal oneself as an ignorant, reactionary lowbrow. So it was also with JFK and Woodrow Wilson. Of course, my real education began after leaving school and by not going on to college. I learned much, much more about FDR, JFK and Wilson without the benefit of teachers whose eyes would shine brightly in adulation when their names were mentioned and who would brook no disagreement (mostly with a sneering ad hominem), and maintained my status as a reactionary, but highly knowledgeable lowbrow. Cass Sunstein's eyes also shine brightly when he speaks or writes about FDR and President Barack Obama. Sunstein, former administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (a post he left to return to Harvard Law School) had an op-ed on the Bloomberg View on January 28th, "Obama, FDR and the Second Bill of Rights." In it he approves of, promulgates, and sells Obama's alleged desire to establish that "Second Bill of Rights" while keeping the "old" Bill of Rights. George Orwell noted in his Appendix to Nineteen Eighty-Four about the totalitarian take-over of language, in his novel called "Newspeak," that a full translation of Jefferson words about "self-evident truths" from the Declaration of Independence [into Newspeak] "could only be an ideological translation, whereby Jefferson's words would be changed into a panegyric on absolute government."* Sunstein's article is such a panegyric on absolute government, written not in indecipherable Newspeak jargon, but in one in which certain terms are dropped into the text without justification or validation, and intended to allay the suspicion that a fast one was being pulled on the reader. Sunstein claims that FDR was not an enemy of capitalism, nor, he claims, is Obama, simply because Obama mentioned "free enterprise" in his inaugural address without making a face. Sunstein pulls his own Newspeak shell game when he writes: Drawing on Thomas Jefferson, Roosevelt insisted that “these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all regardless of station, race or creed.” It is important to be clear about what FDR meant. He did not propose to amend the Constitution. He did not think that the Supreme Court should enforce the Second Bill of Rights. He believed in free markets and free enterprise; he had no interest in socialism. What twaddle! Roosevelt did not believe in free markets. If he had believed in them, he would not have pushed for all the welfare legislation he did. He would not have tried to pack the Supreme Court with justices friendly to his economic and social welfare programs. He would have advocated getting the government out of the economy, beginning with the abolition of the income tax and the Federal Reserve System. Roosevelt took the side-door approach to socialism, as leftist/progressives do today, not calling it that, but instead the government's "responsibility" to do something about all the government-caused and perpetuated problems and crises that existed in his time. So it is with Obama. Except that Obama is a nihilist whose agenda on the surface appears to be fascist or "national socialist," but which fundamentally is geared for destruction for destruction's sake in the name of "transforming" the country. But, what are rights. Novelist/philosopher Ayn Rand wrote: A “right” is a moral principle defining and sanctioning a man’s freedom of action in a social context. There is only one fundamental right (all the others are its consequences or corollaries): a man’s right to his own life….The concept of a “right” pertains only to action—specifically, to freedom of action. It means freedom from physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men.** Let us look at and analyze Roosevelt's schedule of "rights," a list he included in his 1944 State of the Union address and which Sunstein cited as a model on which Obama and Congress might create a "Second Bill of Rights." Roosevelt prefaced his address with the statement with one which contradicted what followed: "This nation in the past two years has become an active partner in the world's greatest war against human slavery. We have joined with like-minded people in order to defend ourselves in a world that has been gravely threatened with gangster rule." (Emphasis mine.) The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation. Well, where does this "right" come from? If you, the individual, exist, then that somehow automatically entitles you to a job. Your mere existence creates the "right" to someone else's property, money, or livelihood. Conversely, owners of industries, shops, farms and mines have a "duty" to provide you with that job. This is a formula for mutual slavery, not trade. In the leftist/progressive or cultural Marxist political agenda, "rights" are not validated on man's nature as a being of volitional consciousness who must establish his own values and pursue them without physical compulsion, coercion or interference by other men, and without resorting to force, but privileges that emanate from society and are doled out by the state acting for society. Your metaphysical existence is accepted as a cipher of society, but rejected as a free, independent individual. The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation. Who is to determine what is "enough" to provide food, clothing and recreation? A government bureau or agency or department, staffed by individuals who assume the infallibility of the Pope and the omniscience of a deity? Who is to determine what is "adequate"? The same bureaucrats and regulatory "czars." And if producers refuse to "provide" these things, what then? The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living. Who is to determine that "rate of return," and by what measure can "a decent living" be established? Again, government bureaus and agencies are the arbiters. Between 1995 and 2011 government farm subsidies ran to $277 billion to growers of everything from corn to dairy products to tobacco to sunflowers. The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad. An "atmosphere of freedom," to Roosevelt and his economic managers and regulators, meant punishing the successful for putting the unsuccessful out of business with laws against "unfair" competition. Who defines "unfair"? Lobbyists for industries and businesses jeopardized by the successful, who press Congress to save their skins with laws and regulations that amount to physical compulsion, coercion and interference. "This business is under-selling its widgets for $1.50 retail, and I don’t want to think about its wholesale rates! I can only sell my widgets for $2.50, because of unforeseen conditions and economic down-turns. This isn't fair! I have a right to succeed, and this other business is trying to monopolize the trade! Do something, and I'll foot the bill for you for a trip to Bermuda, all expenses paid." In a fully capitalist economy, this lobbyist would be out of luck and have to successfully compete against the other company or fold, and the congressman would be stymied by a new amendment in the Constitution that would prohibit any abridgement of trade. In a truly free economy, legally-enforced monopolies are government-created monopolies, either run by the government or regulated by it. Remember General Motors? It, too, was saved from dissolution by government compulsion, coercion, and interference, chiefly to save its unions' "entitlements." The right of every family to a decent home. Shall I mention the subprime mortgage melt-town and TARP? The Federal Reserve and Treasury Department and other government agencies encouraged and often compelled banks and financial institutions to underwrite everyone's "right" to a "decent home." That house of cards collapsed. When it collapsed, who paid for the rescues and the lost billions? American taxpayers through direct taxation and inflation, which is a form of tax, to the tune of billions of dollars. Who defines a "decent home"? Any government agency and NGO from the Department of Health and Human Services to your local community organizing racket and municipal housing authority. The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health. This "right" was achieved incrementally with Medicare and Medicaid programs and climaxed with Obamacare (aka The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010). All the alleged benefits of this compulsory legislation accrue to the compulsorily insured citizen at the expense of the indentured servitude of doctors, surgeons, and other medical professionals, many of whom are leaving their careers in protest to the servitude. In the legislation, the predictable consequences of doctors abandoning their careers in such a protest, such as a shortage of doctors to act as "health providers," there is nothing in it that prohibits the government from drafting retired doctors (regardless of their ages) into "service." The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment. This is Social Security and all disability and unemployment legislation ever passed by Congress, which costs billions of dollars and are called, not "rights," but "entitlements," because everyone has been compelled to pay into the system. But the retirees of today are getting more for their confiscated money than younger, still-working adults will ever see in the way of their own "entitlements." Post-WWII "baby boomers" are the most fortunate recipients of their "entitlements." Their sons and daughters will not be so fortunate. They'll be expected to pay in more and get less. The right to a good education. What is a "good education," and why does anyone have a right to one? There's really no answer. The right is picked out of the ethereal realms of leftist/progressive political philosophy. The Department of Education spends about $30 billion a year on subsidies, the "bulk of that funding goes toward student aid programs, with the balance going toward grants to educational institutions." For all the billions spent on education, from nursery schools on up to graduate schools, America has been dumbed down and brainwashed and "socially conditioned" to "serve" society, to "give back." Every Roosevelt-Sunstein "right" cited above is plank in a socialist program. Every one of them has been legislated for, with the right to "adequate medical care" represented by Obamacare. Sunstein winds up his article with: Obama’s second inaugural did not refer explicitly to the Second Bill of Rights, but it had an unmistakably Rooseveltian flavor. Just after a serious economic crisis, Obama emphasized "that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.” Recalling Roosevelt’s central theme, Obama said that “every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity.” I have news for Mr. Sunstein: There is no dignity in servitude and being chained to one's fellow men, and even less security. But, I think he knows that. He doesn't need to be told. Sunstein, too, is a practicing nihilist. A "Second Bill of Rights" would render the original Bill of Rights redundant and superfluous. It would be supplanted with a list of state-dispensed privileges. It should be called instead a "Manifesto of Entitlements for the Hoi Polloi." *Appendix, "The Principles of Newspeak," Nineteen Eighty-Four, by George Orwell. Ed. by Irving Howe. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. P. 205. **"Man's Rights," The Virtue of Selfishness. Link to Original
  5. Barack Hussein Obama was no sooner elected than his propaganda vehicles were loosened on the nation. In my column, "Obama's Anti-Absolutism Club" article, in which I demonstrate just how smitten the Mainstream Media are with Obama, what I could also have highlighted was the lengths to which the MSM will go in the way of excuses, covering up his failures and the peril he poses to the nation as a wannabe tyrant, and just plain forgiving him for his executive trespasses and crimes (all done in the name of "progress" and "moving forward"). It would have been neatly just to compare the MSM with that instance of brainwashing and indoctrination in schools, when a class of grade school children was taught to sing his praises. Remember the scandal that erupted when people learned about the class http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R3TKMKbifgQ, "Barack Hussein Obama! Um, um, um!" and so on? That's the MSM. Substitute full-grown adults for the kids and different lyrics and a journalistic snapping of fingers, and you have the character and substance of the left/liberal news media. In a nutshell. The subject here is how the MSM, Obama, and Congress wish to ban guns – "assault" weapons, pistols, anything private citizens could own and use to defend their lives and homes against predators, rapists, murderers, burglars, and even government agents – in the name of "public safety." That desire is nearly synonymous with the policy the British tried to enforce in the 1770's in the American colonies. Those who remember their American history will recall that when some 700 British soldiers marched out of Boston in April 1775, their purpose was to find, seize, or destroy the colonials' caches of guns and powder to better ensure that the colonials had no means to resist or threaten the Crown's occupation of the city and its environs. Paul Revere and others rode out to the towns and hamlets outside Boston to warn them of the approaching menace. Citizens' militias quickly assembled to oppose the soldiers. About sixty of them encountered the army on Lexington Green on April 19th. A shot was fired – one that was heard "round the world," and no one knows from which side it came, and it hardly matters now, because the militia stood its ground and wasn't about to disperse on command from the British officer in charge. The militia opened up, and the British fired four volleys in return, killing eight of the militia. The outnumbered militia was routed. On their way back to Boston after failing to find the caches of guns and powder, the British were mercilessly harried by other militias – composed of farmers, coopers, tradesmen, blacksmiths, and even freed blacks – leaving behind scores of dead and wounded on the twenty mile march back to safety. While most rebelling colonials owned or used old British muskets from the Seven Years' War and French-made muskets, which the British unsuccessfully tried to ban from importation, the most deadly weapon in Americans' hands was the Kentucky or Pennsylvania rifle. Muskets employed "smooth bore" barrels which did not control the trajectory of the ball blasted from them. Aiming a musket and hitting a target was a haphazard affair. This is why both American and British forces (and later the French, when they entered the fray) would line up in columns against each other and fire volleys en masse, counting not on accuracy but on numbers to cause casualties on the opposing side. Too often a ball leaving the barrel would not fly straight ahead, but alter course left or right. However, the most feared weapon in British hands, from the Americans' standpoint, was not the Brown Bess musket, but the bayonet at close quarters. Most colonial muskets and rifles were not designed to accommodate bayonets. When the British finally ascended Bunker and Breed's Hills after sustaining horrific losses (some 1,500, especially among officers) in three assaults in June of 1775, most of the American casualties (some 450) were bayoneted to death. Rifles, on the other hand, employed grooved barrels that more accurately directed the ball at a target. It flew flawlessly in a straight line at a greater range, up to 500 yards. American snipers using rifles killed or wounded many especially British officers. Throughout the ensuing war and fight for independence, British military policy was to immediately execute any captured American using a rifle by hanging or firing squad. Rifles, however, were just as slow-loading as were muskets. The "bullet" had to be assembled quickly with powder, paper, and ball; pre-packaged cartridges and rifles that could accommodate them were not in common use until long after the Revolution. Assembling a bullet took almost as much time as frying a couple of eggs. The standard time which trained and drilled British soldiers took to fire and reload was about four shots a minute. Their Prussian allies boasted of six. Moreover, rifles needed more maintenance and care than did muskets. As with "guns" – that is, with cannon on land and sea – they needed to be swabbed and dried before preparing the next shot, because embers would remain in the grooves or powder pans and cause premature firing. Rifles were put on equal par with muskets in any close engagement between American and British forces. Their effectiveness was reserved to snipers or flankers on the sides of a main army. "Assault" weapons, particularly those with multi-cartridge clips, are the new "rifle" feared by gun-control advocates, and, of course, by the government. "Assault" weapons put a civilian on nearly equal terms in the way of fire power. However, in any engagement between Americans fighting for their liberty and government forces – local, state, or federal – civilians will still be at a distinct disadvantage. SUVs and Mercedes cars and even Hummers are no match for armored vehicles equipped with considerably more fire power, nor will impromptu civilian militias be a match for trained SWAT teams and the like. But, nonetheless, such confrontations may still occur. That is the mood of the country. Sheriffs and other law enforcement personnel around the country are advising citizens to refuse to surrender their guns to federal authorities, and even advising them to purchase them now and learn how to use them. Other law enforcement people and state legislators are vowing to oppose any federal gun controls that may be legislated (or dictated by Obama via "executive order") and threatening to arrest any federal official or officer trying to seize, confiscate, or control private weapons. Their statements are based on a reverence for the Constitution – particularly the Second Amendment – completely lacking in the White House, Congress, and the MSM. Following Oregon Sheriff Tim Mueller's lead, three more Sheriffs in parts of Oregon announced Wednesday in letters to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden that they would refuse to enforce any federal gun laws that are unconstitutional. Crook County Sheriff Jim Hensley local reporters, “I’m going to follow my oath that I took as Sheriff to support the constitution.” “I believe strongly in the Second Amendment,” Hensley added, urging “If the federal government comes into Crook County and wants to take firearms and things away from (citizens), I’m going to tell them it’s not going that way.” Meanwhile, back East, Minnesota, Pine County Sheriff Robin Cole wrote an open letter to his residents to inform them that he does not accept that the federal government supersedes State authorities when it comes to regulation of firearms. “I do not believe the federal government or any individual in the federal government has the right to dictate to the states, counties or municipalities any mandate, regulation or administrative rule that violates the United States Constitution or its various amendments.” Cole wrote. Cole said that the right to bear arms is “fundamental to our individual freedoms and that firearms are part of life in our country.” Even in liberal New York, gun-owners, stung by the Journal News stunt of publishing a map of legal gun-owners, are vowing never to register or surrender their weapons to the federal government. Now, in what is sure to be a growing trend across the entire country, New York gun owners are organizing a resistance against what many believe to be the most, “brazen infringement on the right to keep and bear arms anywhere in the nation,” according to The New American: Preparations are already being made for mass resistance. “I’ve heard from hundreds of people that they’re prepared to defy the law, and that number will be magnified by the thousands, by the tens of thousands, when the registration deadline comes,’’ said President Brian Olesen with American Shooters Supply, among the biggest gun dealers in the state, in an interview with the New York Post. Even government officials admit that forcing New Yorkers to register their guns will be a tough sell, and they are apparently aware that massive non-compliance will be the order of the day. “Many of these assault-rifle owners aren’t going to register; we realize that,’’ a source in the Cuomo administration told the Post, adding that officials expect “widespread violations” of the new statute. However, Senator ("Ma'am") Dianne Feinstein is determined that the nation shall bow. She has introduced gun-control legislation in the Senate that conforms to Obama's rhetorical emotionalism about guns. In January, Senator Feinstein will introduce a bill to stop the sale, transfer, importation and manufacturing of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition feeding devices. Feinstein misses the point: Any weapon – revolver, Colt or Mauser type pistols with ammo clips, hunting rifles, shotguns, and so on – can be used "military-style" in any conflict between men. The rapidity and efficiency with which such weapons can be loaded and fired are irrelevant. Reducing an ammo clip to nine rounds from twenty is futile; more ammo clips just needed to be carried and handy in such engagements. That may or may not work to the disadvantage of a "new rebel," and that is also irrelevant. The whole thrust of Feinstein's bill is to further disarm Americans as a first step to disarming them completely and permanently, so that they would need to resort to bows and arrows, rocks, and rubber bands. Such a move will be touted as being for their own good, for the "public good." Is America edging closer to another Lexington Green? Time will tell. Americans are beginning to stand their ground. Will it be a war, or a civil war? If armed conflict occurs between Americans and their government, where will it begin? And when? Will such a conflict be premature, timely, or too late? Whatever the scenario, it would be good to remember Captain John Parker's immortal words at Lexington Green, words that were also "heard round the world": "Stand your ground! Don't fire until fired upon! But if they want to have a war, let it begin here!" Link to Original
  6. The Mainstream Mafia – excuse me, Media – oblivious to their own death throes and their glaring irrelevancy in contemporary American political discourse, continue to fawn over President Barack Obama and his second inaugural address of January 21st. They behave as though everyone in the nation were breathlessly glued to CBS, CNN, ABC, NBC, Washington Week, Face the Nation and PBS's variety show of round table analytical yak fests. The MSM erroneously presume that the nation receives their dollops of wisdom from them. The truth is that even Obama's supporters and worshippers rely less on what the MSM have to say and more on Internet news outlets, as well as on Twitter and Face Book, where they can "inter-react" with each other and play virtual paddy cake with their Progressive/Marxist idols. Still, the MSM believe they set the terms of the discourse. Let's examine some examples. Keep in mind that these are all from a left-wing perspective. Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post broke out her rosary or worry beads and fretted over how The One will accomplish all he has set out to do during his second term. Also keep in mind that, to The One and his titillated throngs of admirers, there are no such things as "absolutes," except the "absolute" of the moment, which must be "seized" and made an absolute before it fluxes into something distasteful. After scoring Obama on the "blustery naiveté" of his first inaugural address, she forgives him. The battle-scarred Obama of the second inaugural address was simultaneously more realistic and more confident. He spoke like a man who, in the course of four long years, has developed a far sharper vision of the role of government: first, “that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action”; second, that “our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it.” The Marxist theme of those assertions may or may not have escaped Marcus. But they are definitely Marxist, and more and more liberals are admitting it. "This was a speech that tilted decidedly to the left, far more so than four years ago." Left, but not Marxist. Another aging Washington Post resident tyro, Harold Meyerson, crowed that Obama's majority is now everyone's majority, even if everyone didn't show up on the Mall to "witness history." He, too, forgives Obama for his narcissistic and tautologically confusing words in 2008. But in the aftermath of Obama’s 2012 reelection and his second inaugural address, his 2008 remarks seem less a statement of self-absorption than one of prophecy. There is an Obama majority in American politics, symbolized by Monday’s throng on the Mall, whose existence is both the consequence of profound changes to our nation’s composition and values and the cause of changes yet to come. The Mall throng was a bizarre menagerie of groups "from Seneca Falls and Selma and Stonewall" that represent Obama's constituency, not the nation's majority. Meyerson, too, waits breathlessly for him to cause "changes yet to come." Meyerson takes a swipe at Obama's principled and absolutist opponents. Our history, Obama argued, is one of adapting our ideals to a changing world. His speech (like recent books by Michael Lind and my Post colleague E.J. Dionne Jr.) reclaimed U.S. history from the misrepresentations of both constitutional originalists and libertarian fantasists. “Fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges,” the president said. “Preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias.” Well, just throw out those copies of The Federalist Papers, The Anti-Federalist Papers, all those interminable scribblings of Jefferson, Madison, Mason, Henry, and even of Hamilton. They had their absolutes. We have ours. Besides, they were just a bunch of privileged white men with bones to pick with tyranny. Reality changes absolutes. Freedom is slavery, don’t you know? In the astrological readings of Meyerson, individual freedoms are not obliterated by "collective action" – that is, by organized and channeled mob rule – but somehow remain in force, somewhere, somehow, but, don't bother him with causo-connections. And one supposes that he has never read Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, in which the reigning Party rewrote history twenty-four hours a day to counter the "misrepresentations of both constitutional originalists and libertarian fantasists." There are no "absolutes," just the "will of the people" who somehow establish absolutes by picking them out of the thin air with some guidance from the administration and university professors and the Supreme Court and the ACLU, and then hand them to Obama, saying, "Here's your mandate. Where's my stuff?" But, beware, Mr. Meyerson. The nation is in a rotten mood, that is, that part of it fed up with the fascist populism and mob rule and the arrogance of a man who thinks he's God's or Nature's gift to the masses. The time will come – and there are bellwether stirrings among the newly disenfranchised of the middle class, the rich, the constitutionalists, the originalists, the "libertarian fantasists" – when men will take up their illegal muskets and semiautomatics and oppose the mobs and SWAT teams and the OWS Stoßtruppen. You will call them "reactionaries" or "flunkies of the old order" or "running dogs of the offshore wealthy." They will call themselves revolutionaries. They will be wearing the tricorns of old and brandishing banners that proclaim, "Tread on me no longer" and "Disperse, or die, so we can live free." Or, try this scenario: They will go on strike, à la Atlas Shrugged. The New York Times is timidly lifting its veil and admitting to itself, after all these years, that Obama is Marxist. Jennifer Schuessler, in "A Young Publisher Takes Marx Into the Mainstream," celebrates the founding of a blatantly Marxist publication, Jacobin. Hailing the founder, Bhaskar Sunkara, as an example of an unexpurgated activist journalist, she writes: …In 2009, during a medical leave from his sophomore year at George Washington University, Mr. Sunkara turned to Plan B: creating a magazine dedicated to bringing jargon-free neo-Marxist thinking to the masses. It's about time some brave soul decided to dispense with the dissembling verisimilitude of left/liberal Aunt Hildegard and her Gray Lady Progressive code-talkers and speak frankly in Marxist jargon. The resulting magazine, Jacobin, whose ninth issue just landed, has certainly been an improbable hit, buoyed by the radical stirrings of the Occupy movement and a bitingly satirical but serious-minded style. Since its debut in September 2010 it has attracted nearly 2,000 print and digital subscribers, some 250,000 Web hits a month, regular name-checks from prominent bloggers, and book deals from two New York publishers. But, who are "the masses"? The nation's unemployed? The food stamp brigade? The battalions of single-parent welfare recipients? Is Jacobin destined to replace The Village Voice and Rolling Stone? Why the curious name, "Jacobin"? During the French Revolution, the Jacobin Club was a far-left organization that demanded ideological purity from the central government, in this case, "pure" democracy. Or, unchecked mob rule. Off with their heads! That doesn’t refer to the command of Lewis Carroll's Queen of Hearts, but to Charles Dickens' Madame Defarge. Meanwhile the magazine was also attracting attention from more established figures on the left, who saw it as raising fundamental questions that had been off the table since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Corey Robin, an associate professor of political science at Brooklyn College who became a contributing editor last winter, pointed in particular to articles by Mr. Ackerman and Peter Frase, another early Jacobin recruit, debating the possibility of a post-capitalist economy involving, among other things, drastically reduced working hours. “So many people are not working or already getting wages subsidized by the state -- maybe there’s something already at play that we haven’t paid enough attention to,” Mr. Robin said. What Mr. Robin hasn't been paying attention to is the creeping statism and increments of fascist economics, disguised as unadulterated socialism. And, in a "post-capitalist economy" (and the U.S. has never had a wholly "capitalist" economy), "drastically reduced working hours" are for millions translating into no working hours. But, that's all right with Robin. It would be ideal for him if everyone had state-subsidized wages, even if most of them weren’t working at all. They have a right to security and dignity, you see. Finally, ABC is tiptoeing up to the truth. Yes. Obama is a "progressive" and a "liberal." After years of downplaying ideological labels for Barack Obama, ABC has seemingly accepted the idea that the President is a "progressive" and a "liberal." While recapping the inauguration, Good Morning America's journalists used the terms four times in just two minutes and 45 seconds. Yet, when Obama was a Democratic primary candidate in 2007, the networks deployed the L-word just twice – in the entire year. The dreaded "L-word" is now acceptable in polite political discourse among, well, liberals. "Progressive"? All that can mean is to "progress" forward. The contemptible "C-word," "conservative, was repeatedly pronounced with sneers and jutting lower lips, meaning to its speakers to regress, or move backward, that in turn being synonymous with (however erroneously among conservatives and progressives) absolutist notions of individual rights, original meanings of the Constitution, the sanctity of private property, and even gun ownership. Media Research Center provided a transcript of some of the unprecedented exchange among George Stephanopoulos and Jon Karl, as they assured themselves that Obama will kiss our wounds and make everything all right. GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to turn to President Obama now, and what's in store for the second term after yesterday's inaugural. The speech, a call to action, an uncompromising enunciation of liberal principles. The question, now, what can actually get done on those big issue like gun control, gay rights and climate change? ABC's Jon Karl has more on that from the White House. And, Jon, liberals were cheering yesterday. Republicans, not so much. KARL: With that, he invited all Americans to celebrate the changing landscape of American culture. Obama (video montage): We have always understood that when times change, so must we. But preserving our individual freedom ultimately requires collective action. KARL: He unapologetically laid out a progressive agenda, promising action on climate change, equal pay for women and immigration. Obama (video montage): Progress does not compel us to settle the centuries-long debates about the role of government for all-time. But it does require us to act in our time. You see. Absolutes are not for "all time." Absolutes are the Spam of politics. They look like meat, feel like meat, even taste like meat. But really aren't meat. Or absolutes. They can change. The centuries of bickering are over. The debate stops now, in "our time." It's settled political science, just as man-caused global warming is settled science. Obama promises to do something about that, too, even if it means emulating King Canute and commanding the sun to stop affecting the weather. Government is the end-all and be-all of all things. It alone can move men "forward." It alone can "Organize for America." So says the Club of the Mainstream Mafia. Those of you who don’t wish to be "organized" or to move "forward," please leave the room. Outside, give the nice TSA man your shoe size, be prepared to be measured for your concrete boots. Link to Original
  7. Sitting down to parse President Barack Obama's second inaugural address of January 21st, one's eyes begin to glaze over while scanning the transcript of the speech. There again are the same old platitudes, bromides, and catch phrases and secret coded messages. There again is the sanctimonious delivery of a person who wants to be remembered for something, because otherwise he is a zero who can only recite a speech someone else wrote and polished and ensured that no gaffes or unintended meanings were in the text. But he read the speech, he vetted it and approved of it, and he delivered it, so, it's his speech. He owns it, for better or for worse. And the unrelenting theme is worse. Worse for the country, because he means to "transform" it. Which, to anyone who values freedom and governing his own destiny, means to damage it, perhaps irreparably. Without Secret Service tut-tuts, you really want the chance, instead of laboriously construing the content of his inaugural spiel, to slap the man silly and hard across that smug, arrogant phiz of his for uttering words like "liberty," and "free markets," and "We hold these truths to be self-evident…" and other words and phrases that occur in the speech. Why? Because the words mean nothing but trouble to him. They meant nothing to the speechwriter. He is an enemy of those words. He is a power-luster. Liberty, free markets, freedom, and self-evident truths are his nemesis. He worked hard in his first term to denigrate and diminish them. He will work harder in his second term to eradicate them altogether. He as much as said so. "I'm here, and I'm going to do as I please – 'transform' the nation from a mixed economy/welfare state – which was bad enough (chuckle, chuckle) – into a full-scale Progressive/Socialist utopia, and what're you gonna do about it?" Boil away all the rhetoric, and that's thug talk. That's Chicago talk, the Rahm Emanuel gangster persona and approach to politics that never left the White House when the master of expletives and crisis-exploiter departed to return to his old stomping grounds. In Congress, there is no one to oppose him. The Republicans may as well charter themselves as a dues-paying affiliate of the Democratic Party. The appellation "republican" for these compromisers and appeasers is undeserved and obscene. The Republican Party has, for just about a century now, behaved like a Chihuahua riding on the back of a Doberman. It goes wherever the Doberman goes, and yaps when the Doberman barks, and dares not jump off, because the Doberman will have it for lunch. The Republicans, after all, helped to midwife the birth of the Progressives and the inauguration of socialism in the nation and of its economy in 1912, by Teddy Roosevelt's split with William Howard Taft over Taft's using the Sherman Anti-Trust Act to break up U.S. Steel, a pet of Roosevelt's. The conflict between the conservative and Progressive Republicans handed Woodrow Wilson, a committed advocate of nascent fascism, the election of 1912. Virtually everything on the Republican Progressive platform – such as an income tax, the director election of Senators, an inheritance tax, and so on – comported easily with the official Democratic Progressive agenda. That's bipartisanship with a capital B. Having the Republicans and the conservatives for lunch is what is explicitly advocated by John Dickerson, political director of CBS News, in his battle plan that would allow Obama to consolidate his autocratic powers. "The president who came into office speaking in lofty terms about bipartisanship and cooperation can only cement his legacy if he destroys the GOP. If he wants to transform American politics, he must go for the throat." In explaining how Obama can divide and conquer the Republicans by abandoning attempts at bipartisanship, Dickerson advises: Obama’s only remaining option is to pulverize. Whether he succeeds in passing legislation or not, given his ambitions, his goal should be to delegitimize his opponents. Through a series of clarifying fights over controversial issues, he can force Republicans to either side with their coalition's most extreme elements or cause a rift in the party that will leave it, at least temporarily, in disarray. The "extremists," Dickerson suggests, should be so demonized that the Republicans will disavow any connection with them. Obama, he writes, has an opportunity "to hasten the demise of the old order by increasing the political cost of having the GOP coalition defined by Second Amendment absolutists, climate science deniers, supporters of 'self-deportation' [of illegal immigrants], and the pure no-tax wing." Obama's inaugural agenda has that precisely in mind, and more. Dickerson needn't hold his breath. Conservative talk show host Mark Levin agrees with Dickerson's assessment of the state of the "Grand Old Party" and its inability to block the Obama agenda: How to fight that agenda? Levin said the answer certainly doesn’t lie in the current Republican Party leadership. “I think the Republican Party, its apparatus, its so-called leadership, the parasitic consultants, represent an institution that is tired, old, almost decrepit, full of cowardice and vision-less. It has abandoned the Declaration of Independence and any serious defense of constitutional republicanism. The Democrat Party is now a radical 1960s party; it’s the anti-Constitution, anti-capitalism, anti-individual party. It largely controls the federal government, including the massive bureaucracy and much of the judiciary -- what I call the permanent branches of the federal government. The Democrat Party represents the federal government, and the federal government expands the power of the Democrat Party. And, to paraphrase that comic line from Monty Python's The Life of Brian ("What have the Romans ever done for us?"), what have the Republicans ever done for us? Levin nails it: On the other hand, the GOP today stands for capitulation, timidity, delusion -- so mostly nothing. Republicans may speak of the Constitution, limited government, low taxes, etc., but what have they done about them? Next to nothing if not nothing. Even when Bush 43 was president and the Republicans controlled Congress. What did they do? They went on a spending binge. They expanded Medicare, the federal role in local education, drove up the debt, etc. Meanwhile, we are lectured by putative Republicans like Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Tom Ridge, and a conga line of others trashing often viciously NOT Obama and what the Democrats are doing to our nation, but conservatives, constitutionalists, and tea party activists who are the only people left standing for liberty against tyranny in this country." And why did the Republicans go on spending binges and expand the role and scope of government? Because they are morally and politically bankrupt. That was evident in 1912. They have been too obsessed with measuring up to the Democrats' and Progressives' notions of an ideal moral polity – which is collectivist, socialist, and ultimately fascist. But this would be news to the Republicans. When the Democrats bark, most Republicans yap in concurrence. Levin also nails Obama and his ideological origins and commitments: I think Obama sees himself as correcting historic wrongs in this country, as delivering the fruits of the labor of other people to people who he believes have historically been put upon. I think there’s a lot of perverse thinking that goes on in his mind, radical left-wing thinking. He was indoctrinated with Marx and Alinksy [sic] propaganda. You not only see it in his agenda but in his words -- class warfare; degrading successful people unless, of course, they help finance his elections, causes, and organizations; pretending to speak for the so-called middle class when, in fact, he is destroying their jobs, savings, and future. Obama's war on our society is intended to be an onslaught in which the system is overwhelmed.” I can think of a number of historical figures who saw themselves as "correcting historical wrongs": Mussolini, Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Policy Pot, Hugo Chavez, the Perons. And I think I can count on the fingers of one hand who have had the temerity to compare Obama with any one of them. Levin, perceptive as he is, is not of that number. It takes a species of honesty to make that comparison. I have heard no Republican or conservative courageous enough to make it. Jerome Corsi of the Tea Party reveals that the "executive orders" concerning guns was just a lot of official puffery, being little more than toothless presidential "proclamations." What Obama signed were 23 presidential memoranda and proclamations that have no binding effect of law whatsoever. But Congress is sure to help him making them lawfully binding in some form. No is not an operative verb in its lexicon. Maybe is. So, on to a little parsing of Obama's inaugural address. There is a wealth of assertions and statements that one can highlight. While not focusing how many times Obama said we (61 times) and together (seven) – he had to make sure that his audience identifies with his aims and that they will "share" the struggle with him – let's analyze a few, beginning with: But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action. Meaning? Those "founding principles" no longer apply in the modern world. Reality is in flux and we must adapt to its new requisites. "New responses" are called for, such as abandoning those principles in favor of "collective action." Which means surrendering one's freedom as individuals for the sweaty warmth of the populist mob. It's jus t like squeezing into a packed subway car during rush hour. We're all going in the same direction, and have a right to be in that subway car. Fidelity to principles must be replaced with loyalty to the state. To the leader. To the Führer. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it – so long as we seize it together. Yes, "seize" it before it disappears again. "We are made for this moment" because we are all shapeless, malleable, interchangeable hunks of protoplasm, with no special claims on life. And if we "seize it together," that will make things all right. For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class. Here's his watered-down Marxism, omitting to mention that anyone connected with government contracts and lobbying and special interests comprise the new "shrinking few," except that the shrinkage is actually the unchecked growth of an oligarchy of a federal elite, in and out of government. Fox News reports on the locus of class: The American Community Survey released last Thursday found seven of the nation's top 10 wealthiest counties now surround Washington, D.C. They include Loudoun County, Va., ranked No. 1, with a median household income over $119,000 dollars a year. Fairfax County, Va., was second with $105,000 and Arlington County, Va., third with just over $100,000 a year in median household income. That "rising middle class" is chiefly a class of unproductive parasites of almost limitless description, from Congressional interns and staffers to Congressmen and Senators and lawyers and lobbyists and their staffers and thousands of organizations that have the ear of the power dispensers. I've left out the brigades of White House staffers and their sumptuous salaries and perks, as well as those of the Cabinet. We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher. But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed. And Obama's creed is to "move forward," shoulder to shoulder, in lockstep, and he will reward us with higher taxes, more money for indoctrination camps otherwise known as "our schools," and special programs to enable "our citizens" to work harder and know more so they can become toiling tax cows. The "moment" requires that everyone surrender his individuality and become the one of the many, the Seven of Nine, the Sixteen of Two Million, and a loyal cipher unable to breathe free. We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future. That "basic measure of security and dignity" means the welfare state, government-guaranteed golden parachutes, and the dodgy trampolines of safety nets. As for the "generation that will build" the future? It's already saddled with a debt that can never, ever be paid off – "fiscal cliff" or no fiscal cliff – yet the government expects everyone to be happy and to whistle while they work in a state of indentured servitude. Let's see, the $700,000 share of the national debt has been assigned to five-year-olds, but that figure won’t remain static, it will grow. Their generation – should it survive – will be asked to make more sacrifices. As for working, productive adults today – they're screwed already, so there's no need to make any appeals to them. The next time a doorbell rings, it's the government calling on your kids. They'll be in it "together," you see. All for the common good. Forward!March! Link to Original
  8. Daniel Greenfield, in his January 20thSultan Knish column, observed that "Obama is truly fake. He is authentically unreal. There is absolutely nothing to him. If you take away all the work that was done to make him famous, there would be nothing there. And that is exactly why he is the perfect avatar for the media age." How true. Of course, a man who is nothing but who seeks to be something by pursuing political power is, root and branch, a nihilist. And that is what Obama is, at core. Down deep, he knows he is nothing. But in the eyes of his worshipping electorate, he is something. He is a leader. A Messiah. A Führer. The Thirteenth Imam. The Mahdi. The Prophet. The savior of the ages, the man on horseback who comes to save a nation from itself. Because he is nothing, he must work miracles, and turn gold into lead. He must prove that he is something. His identity depends on pulling the wool over his electorate's heads. He is what he imagines himself to be, which is an illusion. As Greenfield notes, remove the illusion, switch off the hologram, strip away the prancing king's clothes, and there is nothing there. The garb seemed to hang in mid-air, held there by invisible strings. Everyone who doubts Obama's "goodness" and values the truth, has Superman's X-ray vision. They can see that there's nothing there. Obama back in 2008 promised the nation "transparency." It's the only promise he kept – for those who choose to take a good, hard look at the nothingness that is there for all to see. Except that his admiring electorate, egged on and abetted by the MSM, has no X-ray vision. They see what they see, which is nothing garbed in imaginary vestments of sanctimony and the self-righteous. Truth is their enemy, their nemesis. Truth is what they wish it to be. So they wish very hard – call it praying, or banging one's head against a brick wall, or bowing to the Mecca of statism three times a day – and the unreal becomes the truth. It is the inherent, ineluctable nature of a state of zero in a person that a man who is lacking in character and values must be a destroyer. He becomes something when he is able to demonstrate his capacity for destruction. He must act to sustain the illusion. Destruction is his own proof of power. He is the secular version of Christ. With a modicum of showmanship, with much assistance from an adoring MSM, he performs "miracles," and turns loaves into fishes, and fishes back into loaves, and water into wine, and wine into Jim Jones's brand of Kool-Aid, and pig pen muck into French pastries. It's all as bogus as a TV reality show, as Greenfield notes. But, because he can't create anything – to be able to create something, a person must have a measure of what is the good, and Obama is a vacuum, a hollow man with no conception of any life-affirming good – he can only destroy. And when he destroys, to his minions, it passes as proof of his goodness and efficacy. They get free cell phones and Obamacare and bailed-out companies that fail anyway and solicitude and assurances that they have a right to destroy what they never really built but which he assures them they helped to build, anyway. And that is the leitmotif of Barack Obama, America's first truly nihilist president. Bad as they were, he makes Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton look like hired clown magicians at a children's birthday party, faking finding quarters behind children's ears and making funny creatures from squeaky, multi-colored balloons. Only Obama's quarters are counterfeit ones that are the government's multi-trillion dollar debt pulled from Americans' wallets and savings accounts, and the squeaky balloons are his back-firing foreign policies. What most people can't grasp is that the debt is deliberately impossible to erase or correct, and that the back-firing policies are going according to plan. They are meant to back-fire. How else to explain Obama's Mideast policies, which loose countless Tolkien-like Islamic Orcs on that region and on the world? Al Qada, the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Boko Haram, Hezbollah, the Taliban – all the Islamic jihad groups – they are real-world counterparts of Tolkien's subhuman, flesh-eating brutes, eager to slaughter the good because they are the good. They are slobbering, drooling beasts that are but gross, unsightly clones of Barack Obama's true soul or character, ready to kill for the sake of killing, ready to rip men and women apart and roast their limbs over fires of kindled with the remnants of freedom of speech and the right to property and gun ownership. Obama is a nihilist at work. He knows what he is doing. As he pretends to saw a woman in half, his believers chuckle and think it's just a trick, and isn't he such a masterful illusionist? What entertainment! But the red spewing from the box isn't Teresa Heinz-Kerry's ketchup, it's real blood, and the screaming victim is but a proxy for everyone in the adulatory audience. They all presume that the woman in the box will go home after the show, coddle her kiddies, and watch "Nature" on PBS while spooning Yoplait and munching on Granola bars. When the audience gets home and checks its bank accounts and payroll stubs and insurance premiums and tries to devise a personal budget that is in mortal conflict and in a losing race with a limitless federal budget, it represses its screams and consoles itself that it's all for the good. Out of destruction comes construction, isn't that the way things are done? The country is being remade, "reframed." But, what is being "constructed," what are the constituents of the remaking, in what square is the country being "reframed"? Obama's audience doesn’t want to know. It prefers fairy tales and illusions. It prefers pretty Technicolor pictures of a City on the Hill, with people dancing on cobblestone streets inlaid with gold, and choruses of flowers singing at their passing, and buildings and houses swaying in rhythm under a cloudless sky, and everyone guaranteed a chicken in every pot and an environment-friendly hybrid car in every garage. Greenfield calls the fakery a "consensual illusion." That, also, is true, and it takes a willingness by both parties, the One at the Podium, and the ones in the audience, to sustain the illusion. It requires a habitual, subconscious, but still volitional desire to "blank out," to evade the knowledge, the truth, and the reality of things. Or it takes a criminal ignorance, which is much the same thing. The dish-rattling rumble you hear are the hordes of for you and your life. They are advancing from several directions: from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, from Capitol Hill, from the Justice Department, from the Supreme Court, and from their auxiliaries, the EPA, and the AFT, the TSA, and the DEA, the HHS, and other phalanxes of statism. Link to Original
  9. Contributing Editor Edward Cline was interviewed by Family Security Matters about his life, writing career, and goals. He is first and foremost a novelist, but over the years has written hundreds of book and movie reviews, political and cultural columns, and papers for a variety of print and weblog publications. Born in Pittsburgh in 1946, when he graduated from high school, he went directly into the Air Force because he was going to be drafted. After leaving the Air Force, he lived and worked around the country, educating himself (he learned very little in high school) and honing his writing skills. Currently, he lives in Williamsburg, Virginia. FSM: You say you are first and foremost a novelist. But, what prompted you to write so much nonfiction? You've had hundreds of articles, reviews, and essays published, much of it appearing on Family Security Matters. Cline: While writing the novels, those were occasional projects I pursued when I had the spare time and energy, and when I was invited to submit articles. I've written pieces for the Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, McGraw-Hill's Western Civilization, the Journal of Information Ethics, Reason Magazine, The Social Critic, The Intellectual Activist, The Wall Street Journal, Marine Corps League, The Library Journal, The Journal of Colonial Williamsburg, and The Armchair Detective, among other publications. Over the last few years I've contributed to Rule of Reason, Capitalism Magazine, and, of course, Family Security Matters. Often my pieces are picked up by other weblogs, from here to Israel and India. Since finishing the Sparrowhawk series, I've had time and energy on my hands. It's got to be spent somehow, somewhere, productively. I can't sit still when there are so many issues to address. FSM: Why do you think it's necessary to address those issues? Cline: Because I think I can bring a measure of reason to them. And because it's in the way of catharsis, of letting off steam. If I didn't write about them, I'd blow up. I don't want to be confined in a state-run rubber room wearing a straightjacket. FSM: You've published a collection of your columns. Cline: I've published three collections: Broadsides in the War of Ideas, Running Out My Guns, and Corsairs and Freebooters. They're print books as well being on Kindle. They contain articles and essays on politics, Obama's rise to stardom (stage-managed by George Soros), Islam and the threat it poses to the West, the Federalization of language (i.e., politically correct speech) and various cultural topics, such as the wholly bogus depictions of Mozart and Salieri in Amadeus. I'm thinking of compiling a fourth collection, tentatively called Boarding Parties. FSM: How long have you been writing novels? Or, for that matter, how long have you been writing anything? Cline: I wrote two clunkers before finishing my first polished novel, Whisper the Guns. I don't even have the manuscripts of the first two novels – I disposed of my copies ages ago, I didn't want them around – although incredibly, I found an agent who represented them, a fellow by the name of Oscar Collier (he died in 1998). Those clunkers were my first efforts. One, In the Land of the Pharaohs, was set in a future American dictatorship, and was about a police detective who's assigned to help a Federal agent find the gang that robbed the Federal Reserve Bank of its gold bullion. The second was a suspense novel about an American businessman, Merritt Fury, rescuing a woman kidnapped by the Polish Communists. He breaks into the Polish Consulate and causes a lot of mayhem. I can't now recall its title or even how it ended. Mr. Collier couldn't find publishers for the clunkers, however. Whisper was eventually published in 1992 by The Atlantean Press, a small publisher based in California. It was about to publish the second in that series, We Three Kings, when it went under. It had republished two of Victor Hugo's novels, Toilers of the Sea, and The Man Who Laughs. I wrote the introduction to The Man Who Laughs. Whisper, of course, went out of print. The Atlantean Press editions of those novels aren't even listed on Amazon Books. I find copies of Whisper now going for $150 or more from bookstores connected with Amazon Books. I finally republished Whisper on Kindle two years ago and recently as a print book, and later We Three Kings. The third and last in that series, Run From Judgment, sees Fury being targeted for assassination by some unknown person. He winds up marrying a British portrait painter and inheriting a financial weekly much like Barron's, the U.S.'s leading financial weekly. FSM: Isn't We Three Kings about Arabs? Cline: Yes. I finished that novel in 1980. Readers have said it was pretty prescient, because in 1980 the Saudis weren't much in the news. I wouldn't call it "prescient." As a culture watcher, I'd made a habit to observe fundamental trends, and our obvious, obscene, and obsequious behavior to the Sauds was hard to ignore. The story? This Saudi sheik has bought up all these rare gold coins to use in a museum in Riyadh. The last one is owned by an American, who won't sell it, and the sheik sics his nephew on him to terrorize him into surrendering it. Fury rescues the man during this mugging, killing the nephew during the fight. The man, Crenshaw, gives the coin to Fury in the way of appreciation. Then he's murdered. The sheik, who's also something or other at the U.N., is given carte blanche to deal with Fury as he pleases by the State Department. In the meantime, a homicide detective, Wade Lambert, works to prove that Fury murdered the nephew. He winds up siding with Fury and is suspended from the police force and goes into hiding before he's kidnapped by the sheik. There are more murders, and no plot spoilers here. Fury triumphs in the end. FSM: What were you doing in the meantime, while writing all these novels? Cline: Making a living. I held numerous jobs on Wall Street, in insurance, banking, for Icelandic Airlines, and so on, working chiefly as a teletype agent for all these firms. I also worked as a reader for a few publishers. My work life enabled me to pursue my life work, my novels. The only break in that period I had was when I moved to East Lansing, Michigan, and Michigan State University, to research my first detective novel, With Distinction. Wade Lambert was the progenitor of Chess Hanrahan, a detective who solves what I call "moral paradoxes." With Distinction is set in the philosophy department of a fictive university. A philosophy professor is murdered, and Chess can't believe that anyone would want to murder such a person. As he investigates, he learns why. In that novel he's the chief of police of this university town. Then in First Prize, the second in the series, I move him to New York as a private detective. In this one he solves the murder of a prize-winning novelist. The third in that series, Presence of Mind, pits him against the denizens of diplomacy. The fourth and last in that series, Honors Due, has him playing cat-and-mouse with some Hollywood types over the murder of a scholar. First Prize was originally published by the Mysterious Press/Warner Books in 1988. Otto Penzler, the publisher, was the power behind that break and published it against the wishes of his editors. At the time, it was represented by George Ziegler, whom I called the last "gentleman" agent in the business. It was even reviewed in The New York Times. It was in print for years before lapsing. First editions of it are now going for some pretty outlandish prices. Perfect Crime Books has now published the whole Hanrahan series. FSM: What was it like, dealing with publishers, trying to interest them in your books? Cline: Publishing seems to have always been in a state of flux, completely rudderless in terms of literature and literary standards, although it usually followed intellectual trends, such as the French deconstructionists or the New School Progressives or the Postmodern Realists and Surrealists. One really couldn't decide who was running the "literary" show: critics such as Stanley Fish (a postmodernist Marxist) and Edmond Wilson (a leftist) and Granville Hicks (a leftist), or publishers such as Bennett Cerf (of Random House) and George Delacorte, or editors and teachers such as Hiram Haydn. Compounding the confusion have been successive generations of aspiring writers and editors expectorated from university humanities courses, whose literary senses have been stripped of all standards and value and whose only ambition was to make names for themselves as arbiters of literature and culture. I remember that when I was a reader for a few publishing houses, invariably the trash I called trash in my reports was published, and the books I thought had promise or showed a glimmer of intelligence, were consigned to the slush piles. I lasted a year in that racket. FSM: Were you still working in New York? Cline: No. By the time First Prize was published, I had moved to Palo Alto, California. I had accepted a job offer there with a free market think tank, the Institute for Humane Studies. I finished the rest of the Hanrahan novels there, on an IBM Selectric typewriter, which I still have. When IHS moved to George Mason University a year later, I elected to stay on in Palo Alto, where I made my living working for various Silicon Valley software firms and other companies. While at IHS some of my nonfiction writing was published and even syndicated in various newspapers. I even wrote four book reviews for The Wall Street Journal. FSM: There's a third detective series of yours, isn't there? Cline: Yes. This one is set in San Francisco in 1928 and 1929, and features Cyrus Skeen, a wealthy private eye who uses his cases to collect material for his short stories, which he writes under a pen name. Its genesis is peculiar. I was invited by Western Michigan University Press to write an article for an anthology of articles about detective and crime fiction. I wrote the piece, called "The Wizards of Disambiguation," which burst the balloons of various left-wing literary critics who alleged that Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon was a kind of proletarian novel. In the piece I prove that, while Hammett had Red sympathies, his hero, Sam Spade, wasn't some kind of signifying avatar of communist ideology and that all the Frankfurt School-inspired "deconstructive" interpretations of the novel were just so much hooey. The piece wasn't accepted. It turned out, I learned later on, that all the other essays in that anthology were written by left-wing critics. But the exercise led me to write an answer to The Maltese Falcon, set in the same week and year as Hammett's story, which was originally serialized in Black Mask Magazine in 1928. Thus was born China Basin, which I finished in 1990. Skeen is asked by a French countess and retired British officer to find Thomas Becket's chalice, stolen from them by a psychotic and very elusive killer. It's also an audio book, as are First Prize and Whisper the Guns. FSM: And after that? Cline: I had so much fun writing China Basin that I decided to continue the series. I felt that I could no longer set a detective story in my own time, what with political correctness gaining strength and the politics becoming more and more statist. Publishers were becoming leery of anything that went against political trends, not that any of them gave me a second look. Also, trying to force my heroes work within all the federal regulations and stifling laws brought me no joy or satisfaction. So I decided to set the next novels in a time when the hero had more freedom of thought and action. I finished The Head of Athena in 1992. In it, Skeen agrees to try to exonerate an atheist lecturer of the charge of murdering his ex-wife. Next came The Daedâlus Conspiracy in 2011, and lastly, The Chameleon, in 2012. Skeen takes on some very unusual cases in the last two, and his politics also become more evident. All are now published by the Patrick Henry Press as print books and are on Kindle. FSM: Why is there such a big time gap between The Head of Athena and The Daedâlus Conspiracy? It's nearly twenty years! Cline: For a long while I had been taking notes for a historical novel set in the pre-Revolutionary period. That period, I had decided, had not been justly or fairly represented in American fiction. I decided to do something about it. I wanted to dramatize why the Revolution happened, and not write just another costume period novel. The election of Bill Clinton in 1992 caused me to think: If I'm ever going to write this novel, I had better start on it now, because politically and culturally, things can only get worse and I may not have a chance or even the freedom to write it. So, in 1993, I packed up my bags and moved to Williamsburg, Virginia, to begin researching and writing the series, Sparrowhawk. I finished it in 2005. It turned out to be six titles, plus a Companion to the series, published in 2007. The first title appeared in 2001. The series was published by MacAdam/Cage of San Francisco. FSM: How did that come about? Cline: To paraphrase Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon (who was paraphrasing Prospero in The Tempest), it was the stuff that dreams are made of. In 2000 I had moved temporarily to Las Vegas to take a breather from working on the novel, which I had worked on steadily while working full time. I had sent out queries to publishers and agents about their interest in Sparrowhawk. No interest. I was in the middle of the fourth title of the series. I was feeling pretty despondent. I got a note from my retired agent, George Ziegler, suggesting I query MacAdam/Cage, a new publisher that that was looking for "quality fiction." I had heard that line before – I didn't think much of the "quality fiction" I saw was being published – but sent a query to the firm. They expressed interest. I submitted the first of the series. Before I knew it, I had a contract for the first four titles and a promised contract for the rest of the series. Book One: Jack Frake came out in 2001, the other titles consecutively up to 2007, as well as the trade soft covers. FSM: So, it was smooth sailing from that point on? Cline: No, it was rough seas and an un-prosperous voyage. My relationship with MacAdam/Cage blew hot and cold. They did a very nice job in designing and packaging the series, but did next to diddly to market it. If it sold, it sold on its own merits. It was a series that the reading public had to discover itself. Which it has, but with no help from the publisher. They did not know how to sell it. In addition, one of their readers thought that the hero of Book One, Jack Frake, was unbelievable, and thought he could be made more credible if I gave him an Oedipus complex or something. I said no deal, and if that meant no contract, that was fine with me. They gave in and never made another editorial suggestion. The series became a revenue generating mainstay for the publisher. Then, shortly after the Companion came out, I stopped getting royalties. To make a long story short, I got no satisfaction from the publisher, and had to threaten legal action to get paid what was coming to me. This tug of war lasted some four years. The publisher's appetite was bigger than its ability to publish big time. It was buying some very trendy books and going into bidding wars against far bigger publishers, such as Random House and Harper/Collins, and paying writers fabulous advances. Their books did not sell. The publisher began suffering significant losses. As well as my series was doing, it couldn't carry the whole firm. Behind all its backlist authors' backs, it sold the electronic or e-book rights of the whole backlist to a British publisher to keep afloat. I didn't learn about that until I put up the series myself on Kindle, with cleaned up texts, and was told that I was in violation of contract. So, down they came. I've patched things up with MacAdam since then – the relationship since then has been tepid at best – but now the publisher is negotiating the sale of the firm to some other outfit, and the future of Sparrowhawk is in question. For all I know – because the publisher won't answer my queries, which does not bode well for the future – it's a done deal. Publishers Weekly is looking into it. FSM: What a rollercoaster ride! Cline: You can say that again. Sparrowhawk represents a big chunk of my life. I had to fight for it. I may still need to fight for it. FSM: What were your first published writings? Cline: Aside from a handful of letters to the editor, my first "professional" writings were fillers for Barron's National and Financial Weekly, now just known as Barron's. I rewrote corporate press releases into bland short items, with no byline. They were intended to fill blank spaces that followed a regular column or news item. FSM: How did you get that job? C line: I had just moved to New York City from California, and had worked for a few stock brokerages. I was in between jobs and on an impulse went into the Dow Jones building on Broad Street to see if the Wall Street Journal was hiring. The personnel department (not the "human resources" department) referred me to Barron's. They were looking for a "go-for." So, with some excitement, I went up upstairs and was interviewed by Robert Bleiberg, the editor-in-chief, and began the next day. I loved Bleiberg's editorials. They were consistently pro-freedom and harshly anti-government. I was hired as the paper's librarian, but soon was asked to write fillers, and then was sent out to cover press conferences and performed other minor editorial tasks. No bylines, however. FSM: What other tasks? Cline: Oh, proofing the writers' copy, running errands between Barron's and the Journal, even going for writers' lunches. I completely reorganized the paper's library. It was a mess. The writer at the desk in back of me was an elderly gentleman, either German or Austrian. I had long discussions with him about economics and political economy. He introduced me to Hayek and von Mises. FSM: Why did you leave Barron's? Cline: The assistant editor didn't like me, and I didn't like him. When Bleiberg was away on vacation, this editor managed to make it impossible for me to remain there, so I quit. It was so long ago, I can't recall the circumstances now. FSM: What then? Cline: While at Barron's, I volunteered to work for Nixon Campaign Headquarters on Park Avenue. I worked as a news reviewer. I watched the television evening news and wrote up reports on whether or not the coverage was pro- or anti-Nixon or pro- or anti-Humphrey. This was in 1968. When Nixon won, he had to leave the law firm he was a partner with, and I got to go next door to the Dow Jones building to wait with hundreds of other well-wishers in the lobby for him to come down from the law offices. I got to shake his hand. I'm still wiping the grease from it. Later, when he imposed wage and price controls, I swore I'd never work for another politician. And I never did. FSM: Well, enough about your writing career. What about you? Ever married? Cline: Never married. Had a few disastrous romances. Not much of a social life, because I've had little time for one. But, allow me to correct you. My career is my life. Anything outside of it is not the stuff that dreams are made of. I wouldn't presume to bore people with it. FSM: Thank you, Mr. Cline. Link to Original
  10. “If there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try,” said President Barack Obama. In the fantasy world of Left/Liberalism, in which the vacuity of preventive, positivist law reigns and is unquestioned and adopted as policy, countless lives will have been "saved" with gun bans, smoking bans, big soft drink bans, msg-bans, transfat bans, medical insuranceless bans (Obamacare), lead gas bans, "dirty" energy bans, pollution bans, drug bans, asbestos bans, greenhouse gas bans, Islamophobic speech bans, hate speech bans, and so on. But how, then, is it proven that even one life has been "saved"? Will the Left/Liberals be able to trot out the single life that has been saved? Will that single individual become the poster child of tyranny? Let's up the ante, and move on to "countless" lives saved. Where are the graphs, the pie charts, the statistics to come from? Is there a kind of gigantic federal database that collects, analyzes, correlates and decollates "non-events" to prove the efficacy of bans? Oh, they can be produced, but will they be as credible as, say, the numbers produced by the wizards of University of East Anglia to "prove" anthropological global warming? The absurdity of bans is nearly self-evident, but not so much that liberals and leftists can grasp it. Were it as self-evident as a sunrise, we would not be bothered with pontificating, sanctimonious rhetoric surrounding the signing of executive orders to "save" one life, never mind countless lives. Let's examine the absurdity for a moment, even though Ayn Rand counseled (through one of her villains), "Don't bother to examine a folly – ask yourself only what it accomplishes."* The purpose of any ban is to cause an absence of a consequence. The absence or delinquency of a consequence is held as proof of the efficacy of a ban. Thus, the presence of a gun in someone's hand will likely cause the death of a child. The absence of a gun in someone's hand will result in the child not being killed by a gun. In logic, this is the fallacy of attempting to prove a negative. The absence of something causes a non-event. In fact, it causes nothing. Ergo, a universal gun ban – of handguns, automatics, clip-loaded, whatever – will consequently cause incalculable non-events. Let's imagine more non-events. That guy you passed on the street did not try to rob you because he had no gun. Because there are no guns in your house, your wife, son, or daughter did not try to kill you with a gun because there are no guns in your house. Your three-year-old kid did not accidentally kill herself while playing with a gun because there were no guns for her to play with. If your son is mentally unbalanced, he could not go to a local school with a gun and begin killing students and teachers. Just imagine: If no guns had been allowed in Newtown, Connecticut, Adam Lanza would not have been able to go to the Sandy Hook school to commit a massacre. Just imagine: If George Zimmerman had not been carrying a gun that fateful evening, Trayvon Martin would still be alive today. Possibly he would be in jail for assault and battery, and Zimmerman beaten to a pulp by a punk and still recovering from his wounds. But, the saved life is the important thing, you see. Okay. No guns. But that does not rule out clubs, knives, frying pans, tire irons, rolling pins, or other objects that can be used to kill. I can't recall the number of times the cartoon character and moonshiner Snuffy Smith was beaned by his wife with a rolling pin. Those cartoons were dangerous. Provocative. And sanctioned violence! Then there was Joe Palooka, and Popeye! So, just imagine: There's this unstable fellow who's really, really mad at the world. At his parents. At his siblings. At his teachers. His classmates. At that girl who won't look at him twice because he's wearing razor blade earrings and has a steel pin lanced through his lower lip to complement his multi-dyed semi-Mohawk hairdo with a cowlick and the stud affixed to his tongue. He's so upset, he sits in his room and pounds the top of his desk in frustration and anger and just knows that he is alone in his victimhood. Nobody understands him. He's the only sane person in his known world. What's a guy to do? It's hopeless. He's doomed to unhappiness and solitude! He may as well try to make a statement, or die trying. And make others die while he tries. It's all their fault, you see, that he's so terribly frustrated! He shakes his feeble fist in the air, and cries, "Cruel world! Hear me roar!" In the fantasy world of Left/Liberal bans, he calms down, cleans himself up and finds a job at the local Burger King, or volunteers for community service, or masters quantum mechanics. Why? Because he had no access to guns! No guns in his house! No gun sales allowed in his town! No gun ownership allowed in it whatsoever! Guns aren't even available for purchase across the state line. Not anywhere. All is peaceful. Nothing happens, except that flowers sing as he passes by, everyone smiles at him, and the world throbs with the placid quietude of a gun-less society. The fantasy world of the gun-haters is about as real as Toontown in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. In the real world, he finds a tire iron or baseball bat and goes to the nearest primary school and starts killing children and teachers with it. But first murders his parents and siblings. See? It was a no-gun non-event! Lives were saved from guns! Think of all the disgruntled former employees who can't go to their former workplace and start shooting. Of all the gang members who won't be able to rub out their neighborhood rivals. Of all the bank robbers who can't rob banks because of the absence of guns. Of all the men and women whose spouses had no guns with which to punish them. By now, one should be convinced that banning guns – any type of gun – from sale or ownership, will have only two real-world consequences: criminals and the criminally insane will get them somehow, somewhere; and victims, real and potential, will be disarmed against them. There will be real, demonstrable events, which the MSM and anti-gun advocates will ignore or gloss over or explain away. Aside from scrutinizing the deadly fantasy worlds of the Adam Lanzas and Andre Breiviks and Timothy McVeighs of the world, the Technicolor fantasy worlds of anti-gun advocates should also be subjected to close examination. It will be seen that their projections and forecasts have all the substance and veracity of a computer model predicting next week's weather. Then we'll know who framed the Second Amendment – and why. *Ellsworth Toohey, p. 666, in The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand (1943). New York: Penguin/Plume Centennial Edition, 2005. Link to Original
  11. It is common knowledge that, as Washington is now the citadel of the Left, Hollywood has been a fiefdom of the Left for a very long time. The Left picks the projects, the scripts, the actors, and the directors, and then foists its films on a hapless American movie-going public, saying it's only entertainment and not to be taken seriously, adding, "We don't mean nothin' by it." The Left calls nearly all the shots in Hollywood. Anyone who doesn’t toe the Left's Party line is left unemployed, unnoticed, shunned, and ostracized, regardless of talent or experience. In short, blacklisted. They may be invited to fill seats on Oscar night, but that is the limit of their visibility. But how did the Left take over Hollywood? What made it possible? Without rehashing a history of Hollywood's political struggles, its flirtation with self-censorship (the Hays and Breen Offices), and subsequent abandonment of self-censorship in favor of "ratings" (the MPAA), the Communist infiltration of the studios and various unions, the McCarthy Era, the HUAC hearings, and the Hollywood Ten, the subject here will be what I perceive to be one of the means by which the Left effected its conquest. That method is psycho-epistemological in nature, and it is insidious. What is epistemology? Novelist/Philosopher Ayn Rand defined it as "a science devoted to the discovery of the proper methods of acquiring and validating knowledge." Psycho-epistemology, she went on to explain, is "is the study of man’s cognitive processes from the aspect of the interaction between the conscious mind and the automatic functions of the subconscious." Briefly, epistemology can tell us existence exists and why we know it. Psycho-epistemology tells us the method of our awareness of existence. Epistemology can validate that you are reading these words and that they are real. Psycho-epistemology, for example, will prove that reality is not some kind of super piñata to be approached blind-folded with a stick in hopes of thwacking some meaning from it. In her brilliant essay on the effects of modern education on children, "The Comprachicos," Rand noted that: "This skill [the process of forming, integrating, and using concepts] does not pertain to the particular content of a man's knowledge at any given age, but to the method by which he acquires and organizes knowledge – the method by which his mind deals with its content. The method programs his subconscious computer, determining how efficiently, lamely or disastrously his cognitive processes will function. The programming of a man's subconscious consists of the kind of cognitive habits he acquires: these habits constitute his psycho-epistemology."* But who or what left the door open to the Left? It was nihilism. The Left needed help in establishing squatters' rights. Its penchant for censorship and propagandizing was too well known. Let us pick an arbitrary time for when the nihilism began to creep into film, say, the late 1950's and early 1960's, before the Left and the beatniks-cum-hippies completed their takeover of Hollywood. Very likely it began long before, but some prominent movies ought to demonstrate the method and the rot. And what is the method? The films I mention here lead the viewer to believe that the story they are about to see is going somewhere, that there is a purpose to the sequence of events, no matter how muddled or tightly drawn the sequence. Viewers are in the mental habit of expecting a conclusion and a climax that make sense, no matter how banal or dramatic or contrived. And these are not amateur films produced by film school wannabe directors shooting from a sophomoric script and starring no-talent casts and shot on make-shift sets. They are professionally made films made by big name directors on million dollar budgets with all-star, often international casts. The films simply end. There are no concluding, satisfying denouements, no logical resolutions, no happy or even tragic endings. They simply end and everything that precedes the ending evaporates into irrelevancy. Life is meaningless, as well as all the struggles, thoughts, efforts, conflicts and purposes – all meaningless. All for nothing. Dissolved into nothingness. Phttt! Roll the credits. Don't believe me? Try these synopses. Anatomy of a Murder (1959, Otto Preminger, director): Jimmy Stewart plays a small town lawyer who agrees to represent a soldier accused of murdering his wife's rapist. By the end of the story, after Stewart has got the soldier off the hook on an insanity plea, the soldier and his wife skip town without paying him. This act of dishonesty casts doubt on the evidence and testimony of the solider and his wife. Was she actually raped, and did her husband, a drunken lout, kill her alleged attacker during a bout of "insanity"? Stewart shrugs it off and goes fishing. Mentally, the viewer is expected to do the same. They Came to Cordura (1959, Robert Rossen, director): During the Mexican Incursion campaign of 1916, Gary Cooper plays an officer charged with taking several candidates for the Congressional Medal of Honor to a Texas town, Cordura, so they can live to receive the medal and serve as role models for Americans when the U.S. enters World War I. During a grueling trek on foot across desert (having had to surrender their horses to Mexican bandits), the soldiers nearly murder Cooper, attempt to rape Rita Hayworth, and initiate a string of harrowing conflicts and betrayals, in which the candidates reveal they are not heroic after all. Finally, Cordura is spotted and, forgetting everything that went on before, everyone rushes to reach it. Well, what a relief! But, what was all the dramatics about that led up to it? Will Cooper still recommend the brutes for the Congressional Medal of Honor? We are left guessing. Advise and Consent (1962, Otto Preminger, director): A Senate committee is convened to investigate the possible left-wing allegiances of the president's nominee for Secretary of State, appropriately named "Leffingwell" (played, appropriately, by Henry Fonda). By the end of the film, the president dies and Leffingwell's name is automatically withdrawn because the new president will have his own nominee for the post. All the entanglements, intrigues, back-stabbings, and even a suicide, were for naught. Never mind. They'll just start all over again. Lonely Are the Brave (1962, David Miller, director; screenplay, Dalton Trumbo): Kirk Douglas plays an independent man and cowboy who gets himself arrested and put into a local prison so he can stop his best friend there from being sent to a penitentiary by making an escape. His friend refuses to escape and wants to serve his time. So, Douglas escapes, and, with his horse, leads the authorities on a wild chase over a nearly impassable mountain. His pursuer is a local sheriff played by Walter Matthau. After training his horse to cross highways safely, when they have reached sanctuary during a rain storm, he and his horse make it to the other side of the mountain, only to be struck by a truck, driven by Carroll O'Connor, hauling a load of commodes. Matthau is at the scene and he may or may not identify Douglas as the man he had conducted the search for. We are not sure of his motive, or even that he recognizes Douglas. Douglas is last seen gazing up with bewilderment at all the faces staring down at him. Play Dirty (1969, André De Toth, director): Michael Caine plays a British officer drafted into a scheme to blow up Nazi fuel dumps in North Africa. He is put in charge of a group of grungy ex-cons who are also experts in sabotage. In the course of the story, Caine displays leadership, solves an insurmountable problem, but is forced to watch the Germans ambush and wipe out a British patrol because his group is anti-British. The fuel dump they are sent to destroy turns out to be a booby-trapped decoy. The group picks another fuel dump, but is ordered not to destroy it. They are betrayed to the Germans by the men who sent them on the mission. They manage to set the fuel dump ablaze. By the end of this picture, Caine and his second lieutenant, disguised in Italian Army uniforms, are the only survivors of the mission. They are accidently shot dead by a British soldier who didn't see Caine's white flag. Oh, well…. Ronin (1998, John Frankenheimer, director): Former American spy Robert De Niro is contacted by a woman to secure a briefcase that contains something that other spies and mercenaries want. After nonstop action and gun play and car chases, the briefcase may or may not have been secured because it has been switched with a duplicate. We never learn what was in it. By mayhem's end, the main characters settle back in a café to have their drinks and reminisce and speculate. And as the credits roll and the audience leaves the theater, what is the audience to think? Well, they're not supposed to think about it at all. Just accept the nihilism as the norm. Causo-connections, however solid or shaky, that would allow full or partial comprehension, are forbidden. It's interesting to note that Otto Preminger was not an avowed communist, and was famous for Laura (1944), Forever Amber (1947), and many other films that do have conclusions. If he was anything, he was apolitical. Robert Rossen was a communist, but a penitent one who "ratted" on his fellow communists to HUAC. The politics of André De Toth, a Hungarian immigrant, are not known. However, Dalton Trumbo, who received credit for the screenplay of Lonely, and who was one of the unrepentant Hollywood Ten, was a communist, although he tried to distance himself from the others by "ratting" on his fellow travelers, too. John Frankenheimer's most famous films, The Manchurian Candidate(1962), Seven Days in May (1964), The Train (1965), all of which have finely honed conclusions, conflict violently with the senseless carnage of Ronin. These films do not overtly reflect their makers' political leanings. Every one of them introduces an element of nihilism – or the destruction of values for destruction's sake –that helped to pave the way for the Hollywood Left to attack all American values, and values as such. Why? I do not think the introduction of nihilism was deliberate or conscious. I think the directors were simply absorbing the psycho-epistemology of the time, by way of osmosis, one made possible by an overall retreat of reason in the culture. Making a film without the capstone of a conclusion was a novelty that contrasts sharply with each director's overall oeuvre. Their casts can be held blameless; actors are rarely good judges of the philosophical import of the scripts they choose to accept, although that is not the rule today. Ask Sean Penn, or Brad Pitt, or Danny Glover. Some critics, in passing, or in amusement, called these and similar films "cynical." But nihilism is worse than mere cynicism. They are not the same thing. Cynicism alleges that there are certain ideals or standards that men can imagine but cannot live up to for one reason or another, usually because of their "base," deterministic nature. Nihilism says there are no ideals or standards – or even minds – that can't be suborned, corrupted, gutted, and destroyed. Nihilism is by no means the sole method with which the Left inveigled its way into becoming the dominant political force in Hollywood. But, these and other films helped to make nihilism respectable, and the norm. Once that was done, the Left was free to fill the void. They prepared the viewer for an onslaught of films that are little more than gussied up propaganda. They inured viewers to watching the construction of a tower, and before it can be topped off, seeing it dynamited and collapsed into a cloud of rubble and dust. Nihilism – even little bits of it snuck into scenes in the course of other films – habituates viewers to the notion that everything is nothing and nothing is everything, and that all is meaningless, so there's no good reason to claim that one's values are superior or special or sacrosanct, and can't be replaced with "higher" values. It attempts, case by case, instance by instance, from film to film, to scrub the viewer's epistemology clean of important causo-connections between reality, his values, and his own cognitive powers. Nature does not tolerate a vacuum, neither in reality, nor in men's minds. As the "comprachicos" in modern education – from Progressive nursery schools up through the universities – have been busy "remolding" men's minds to create compliant servants of the Left and the all-encompassing state, nihilist films have sought to complete that education in the theater. The solution in education is to get the government out of education. Once that is accomplished, that will, in time, solve the problem of evicting the Left from Hollywood. *p. 158. The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution. New York: Signet/New American Library, 1971. Link to Original
  12. I suppose it is a law of political economy that when a burgeoning and omnivorous government reaches a certain stage of growth, its champions and beneficiaries and sinecured, career bureaucrats inaugurate self-congratulatory and appreciation organizations that "reward" bureaucrats and "public servants" for their work. These organizations are great for bringing the "recognized" together for speeches and photo-ops and a dose of "feel-good" camaraderie. Not to mention a medal and possibly a chunk of cash. Looking at the Washington Post's "Federal Coach" blog columns, written by Tom Fox of the Partnership for Public Service, one is amazed by the hubris of an organization that recognizes the efforts of salaried parasites who happen to be department heads or supervisors or White House cabinet members. Scrolling through the Washington Post's daily grind the other morning – I subscribe to the Post and the New York Times Internet versions of the papers, just to keep an eye on them – a teaser caught my attention: "Lead 'em and Reap: Why self-sacrifice, shared values and reflective listening are the building blocks of great leadership." My immediate mental rebuttal was: Obama isn't sacrificing anything, least of all himself, I share no values with him, and the building blocks he is fashioning, which resemble the Mafia's cement shoes, are resting on my head. He is not a "great" leader by any means, although he is a "leader." He is a community organizing Führer. Clicking on the article, the page comes up with the startling headline: What makes a great federal leader? The article is an interview by Fox of E. Allan Lind of Duke University, whose research "centers on leadership and global management issues." Lind discusses, with appropriate prompting by Fox, how bureaucrats and presidents and public servants can become effective Führers and gauleiters in the name of bureaucratic efficiency and effectiveness. Most Americans, however, don’t want efficient bureaucracies. Efficient and effective bureaucracies are a nemesis. If they must have them, Americans prefer inefficient ones that allow them a breathing space to mind their own business. Like me, they don’t want "leaders." But apparently Lind and Fox have not received this message. Their heads are in the realm of theoretical authoritarianism. Lind natters on in sociological and social-metaphysical language, focusing on how a "leader" can best get along with his underlings and coworkers. His advice could just as well apply to running a Boy Scout troop or a Chicago street gang or a Target women's accessories department. It has the nebulous consistency and mutability of a cloud. Lind's chief point, on which the five other points seem to rely, is something called "reflective listening." This is "listening to what somebody says and then paraphrasing back to them [sic] to check understanding." In populist jargon, this means ensuring that the listener and the speaker are "on the same page," or confirming that the listener knows where someone is "coming from." You wonder how much Lind is being paid to play semantic alchemist and turn jargon and metaphorical patois into effervescent technicalese. Otherwise known as yadda-yadda. Fox asks Lind what he and his colleague, Prof. Simon Sitkin, call the "Six Domains Leadership Pyramid." And you thought I was kidding about the technicalese. Lind replies: The first domain is personal leadership, which is demonstrating vision, competency, authenticity and dedication — in essence, showing people why they should follow you. The second domain is relational leadership. You must understand your people’s interests and their competencies, show concern for their well-being, and show fairness by behaving in an unbiased way. The third category is the idea of contextual leadership. This domain is all about how the leader conveys the essence of the organization to the people he or she is leading. These three domains form the base of a pyramid. If you adhere to these three domains, you build up a stock of leadership capital. Once you got this stock of leadership, then you can exercise inspirational leadership, which is getting people excited about the mission and getting them to be innovative and optimistic about the task. Yes, this is "cloud speak." And if you follow the logic of it, you, the "great leader," will be sitting on top of the pyramid, on the pointy end of it, venerated and deferred to by all your underlings. In politics, there have been precedents for this kind of social metaphysical people management in pursuit of a variety of missions. In America, Woodrow Wilson, FDR, and JFK. Overseas, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, weirdly-coiffed North Korean tyrants, Hugh Chavez, Fidel Castro, and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. To name but a few. Except that when they reached the top of the pyramid, concern for anyone else's well-being and for fairness and for wanting to solicit others' opinions so those others won’t feel extraneous, ignored, and left out, all got thrown out the window. As Lord Acton noted: Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Unless you're already corrupted by power-lust, as President Barack Obama is. He'd just rather not have to deal with Congress. Just as Hitler did not wish to deal with the Reichstag. Of course, if you're just a bureaucratic mediocrity and a cipher in the federal state of things, you needn't aspire to become a "great leader." You can settle for being just a comfortably ensconced and well-remunerated middle-of-the-road bureaucrat who follows all Lind's rules and is rewarded with "recognition" for not rocking the boat and doing nothing that would cause a sex scandal or bring charges of malfeasance on your head. There really isn't much to report on Tom Fox, other than his association with the Partnership entities, which seek to make the federal government the "employer of choice for talented Americans." He's not even on Face Book, so his career antecedents are unknown. The Partnership for Public Service entities, however, have their tentacles and fingers everywhere, especially in universities. This is to be expected in a culture that is turning more and more statist and European. If you're looking for "talented" young people to lord it over the serfs laboring in the private sector, recruit them straight out of the classroom. They've been prepared for "public service" in their studies and social lives. The Partnership entity, a non-profit, was founded by a former businessman, Samuel J. Heyman, who, fresh from Harvard, worked for Robert F. Kennedy. Well, that explains the political color of the organization, which is distinctly Democratic but particularly fascist. Heyman made a lot of money in business later, and decided to fund an organization with it that would promote his own "employer of choice" – the federal government. It is a rule of thumb that businessmen who fund charities and organizations that promote the growth of government do so from a sense of guilt. Look at Bill Gates. As for Lind, he has written several papers and is engaged in several projects. Choosing at random from his many papers and projects, here is a sample of his obfuscating, insubstantial wisdom, from "Social Conflict and Social Justice," an address and paper presented to Leiden University in 1995: Many theories of social conflict suggest that whenever people try to divide scarce resources, their egoistic inclinations will push them toward competitive actions that ultimately result in mutual harm. The temptation to act competitively will prompt one person to make choices that benefit his or her individual interests but that harm others in the social group or society…. The consequences attached to various choices in the fundamental social dilemmas that I have in mind go to how we define ourselves and how much of our self-identity we are willing to put in the hands of others. As we move away from dilemmas of concrete outcomes and toward dilemmas of identity, I would argue, the stakes become much more important than any material outcome…. One prediction of the theory I have just described is that justice will be construed largely in terms of one's personal relationships to salient groups. If people generate justice judgments in order to have a standard to use in deciding whether they will be rejected or exploited, then it would make sense for the standard to be primarily concerned with the individual's own personal relationship with the group. Justice judgments should be very sensitive to indications that one is favorably or unfavorably positioned vis-à-vis one's group. … This suggests that the question in intergroup conflicts is not how to get people to abandon their original group identifications in favor of identification with another group. What is needed instead is a high level of overarching identification regardless of subgroup identification. Had enough? Are your eyes crossed yet? There are pages and pages more. The term "social justice" should have served as a clue to its leftist character. How are your "egoistic inclinations" faring? Does wanting to retain ownership of your guns, or your property, or your life contribute to the harm of the social group or society? Are your "justice judgments" attuned to your group's sensitivities? If not, you're in for a boatload of conflict. Are you ready to submit to a "high level of overarching identification, regardless of your subgroup identification"? If not, prepare to be ostracized and shunted aside. Hitler did that. He appealed to all Germans in a supreme example of "overarching identification." His "reflective listening" was to paraphrase right back at them the "unfairness" of the Versailles Treaty and the burden of the reparations and the demonization of Germany for having begun a war of conquest. This "overarching identification" included Catholics and Protestants, the young and old, the middle and lower classes, the white collar workers and the blue, men, and women and children. All subgroups. His "reflective listening" did not solicit the opinions of Jews, gypsies, and the mentally retarded and permanently disabled. They were all thrown out the window. They were on pages he wished to rip from the book of great leadership. They had no place in the "Six Domains of Leadership Pyramid." It may seem melodramatic using Hitler as an example of the kind of sociological nonsense and patent medicine statist solutions peddled by Lind and his ilk. After all, how many federal nonentities who are mere department heads or supervisors in any federal organization nurture in secret an ambition to become a "great leader"? Very damned few. But they should take heart. After all, Hitler was awarded two Iron Crosses for just peddling a bike. And he was among the greatest public servants of them all. Link to Original
  13. Without going much into the lore, literature, and filmography of zombies, there is an appropriate analogy to be drawn between the notion of the "living dead" and the living that deserves to be illustrated. Metaphorical zombies rule our current political culture, as well. At least, that is how I often feel when engaging others in a discussion of politics and even esthetics and contemporary human behavior. Try as one might, such people are proof against reason, beyond redemption or reclamation. There is, however, more fascination with the subject than I had expected to encounter. One venue I had not expected to see it in is a government website, incredibly, that of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It is a tongue-in-cheek, semi-humorous treatment that employs the notion of a zombie apocalypse to instruct people to prepare for very real disasters, including a pandemic of disease. It isn't confined to one page, but goes on and on through several links and even offers a down-loadable graphic novel tailored to disaster preparedness. This is your tax dollars at work. It is so reassuring to know that some bureaucrat decided to indulge his sense of humor and subcontract some pricey consultant to create a website devoted to publicizing disaster preparedness, as a way of talking down to us lunk heads and cajoling us into a state of responsible citizenship, doubtless taking a leaf from that patronizing and politically correct PBS children's educational program, Sesame Street or virtually any other instance of children's educational programming. Briefly, according to some accounts, the term "zombie" was popularized in our culture by Bela Lugosi in his 1932 movie, WhiteZombie. The term has Haitian voodoo origins, of course, and the notion of a zombie has ancient European folklore parallels, as well. Mary Shelley's 1818 Frankenstein monster was assembled from the body parts of the dead, thus technically making it a zombie. Stephen Mallory's "drooling beast" in The Fountainhead could be said to be a zombie, too, a beast deaf to all reason, a thing that lives only to kill, a "maniac who's had some disease that's eaten his brain out….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…"* Ian Fleming exploited the idea in his 1954 James Bond thriller, Live and Let Die. George A. Romero's low-budget, 1968 Night of the Living Dead boosted interest in the notion of flesh-eating zombies, an interest which has since spawned a billion dollar industry that caters to the zombie-obsessed among the living. AMC's bigger-budget "The Walking Dead" TV series is about to go into its third season. It is based rather loosely on the graphicnovel of the same name. In the TV series, the last surviving doctor in Atlanta's CDC blows up the place and himself in a fit of despair and hopelessness about finding a cure to whatever caused the pandemic. I'm betting the irony was not lost on the executive responsible for the CDC's zombie site. I do not like horror movies, but have watched some of them to grasp their appeal in an attempt to form a wider understanding of the phenomenon and the culture. I have watched "The Walking Dead" because in it human relationships compete with all the head-lopping, rasping, and flesh feasting. These relationships do not rise above the confusing, complex and banal ones to be seen in daytime soaps. There is no explanation of why suddenly the world is overrun by the walking dead. The title of the series not too subtly indicates the actual, living characters who are all infected with some unidentified pathogen and will rise from death by natural or unnatural causes regardless, and so must be shot in the head before they do. It just happens. So, what is a zombie? It is a metaphysically impossible creature, dead, but magically reanimated by a virus or a curse or other pseudo-scientific jiggery-pokery, with a functioning motor and autonomous system, a non-causal appetite, a robot oblivious to the weather and its surroundings, conscious but not conscious, volitional but not volitional, teleologically driven or programmed to consume living flesh to survive. But, then, how can the dead "survive"? Survive what? And what for? These are paradoxical questions that needn't be examined, because they are semantic follies. Call a zombie a humanoid plant, or a kind of non-religious Golem. A mericans, too many of them, have an unhealthy fascination with zombies, whatever the antecedents of their favorite walking dead. And too many of them also have functioning motor and autonomous systems, perfect digestive systems, and are selectively conscious. They are eclectically volitional from choice or from habit, and their moral codes make them teleologically driven to consume the living flesh of their fellow men – in the way of social services, government-paid entitlements, surrendering to the state their own lives together with the lives, fortunes and purposes of others. As in "The Walking Dead," they gather in herds and move in herds, chiefly aimlessly, until they find the living. If, after having seen for themselves what destruction has been wrought by President Barack Obama and his nihilistic policies, and they remain stubbornly blind to that destruction and to the guarantee that he will author even more, and they voted him into a second term, then they are zombies. If they expect the state to solve every real or imagined crisis, and refuse to grasp that most economic and social crises are caused by government interference or mismanagement or corruption or the systematic expropriation of wealth and effort redirected by force into the bottomless pits of subsidies, welfare, and "social justice," then they are zombies. If they believe that the state can manage, regulate, or juggle the economy and/or their lives for the public good and for their children and future generations, and guarantee a permanently prosperous, vibrant, and stable society, then they are zombies. If they believe that incalculable wealth can be stolen from the poor to make others rich, or that a nation's wealth is a static entity that should be divided equally among all, then they are zombies. If they believe that their mere existence entitles them to economic and spiritual support by their fellows via the state, through taxes, special legislation, and protective privileges, then they are zombies. If they believe that America was founded as a majority-rule "democracy" and that the principles enunciated by the Founders in the Constitution are inapplicable to the "modern" world, or that the Constitution is a "living" one that can be interpreted any way a court or law professor or bureaucrat or politician wishes to conform with the fiat populism or fallacy of the moment, then they are zombies. If they believe that principles are merely prejudices or con games designed to manipulate or fool the ignorant and superstitious, then they are zombies. If they believe that the greed of a successful businessman is evil, but that their own greed for the unearned is supremely virtuous, then they are zombies. If they believe that words have no demonstrable and permanent meaning, that all opinions are merely subjective utterances determined by one's race, gender, class, age, ancestry, or education, then they are zombies. If they further believe that words accrue meaning solely by consensus or fiat law, then they are zombies. If they believe that the state is the author, dispenser, and steward of all individual rights, and that rights are merely privileges bestowed and granted by the state at the behest and will of a real or fictive majority, and can be withdrawn or obviated at any time, then they are zombies. If they believe that freedom of speech, guns, and the profit motive are the sole causes of massacres and crime, which they call "tragedies," then they are zombies. If they further believe that speech, guns, and the profit motive should be regulated, and even banned, for the safety and benefit of all, so as to prevent more "tragedies," then they are zombies. If they believe that all property is theft – and needn't explain from whom – they are zombies. If they believe that unquestioning "faith" in the ability of government to solve all their problems is justifiable, then they are zombies. If they believe that government is imbued with the power of a deity to work wonders and promise paradise and salvation, then they are zombies. "Faith," by the way, is responsible for the partial lobotomy of most men's minds, making them the walking semi-dead. To many of these zombies, Earth and existence are just a way station to the future or some ethereal realm. Why bother with freedom? Why overvalue it? If they believe that government can create a tolerable economic and social condition which amounts to tyranny, these zombies are insensible to the consequent loss of freedom. They never understood it and would not miss it, even in their own penury. If you are not a zombie, there's no place in their paradise for you, the living. The poverty and hardships imposed by the government today will make possible the luxuries and ease of living for everyone tomorrow. Anyone who believes that is a zombie. On a final, esthetic note, if a person doesn’t see a difference between Michelangelo's "David" and Giacometti's "Walking Man," he is a zombie. Doubtless many readers have friends, acquaintances, work colleagues, and even family who fit some or all of the foregoing criteria of zombiehood. To know them is not necessarily to love them, but rather to keep them at arm's length before they take a chunk out of one's arm or neck or wallet or bank account. But today's zombies needn’t get up front and personal to be a slobbering, life-threatening menace. They can elect career zombies to do it for them. Herds of them are busy in Washington and every state capital and municipal town hall, day and night, chomping away at the wealth of individuals and businesses. In Washington, a herd of these zombies – Republicans and Democrats – just this morning, in fact, have come together and maneuvered you to the edge of a fiscal cliff. The name of the pandemic is altruism. Its symptoms are collectivism and self-sacrifice. *The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand. 1943. Bobbs-Merrill: Indianapolis-New York. pp. 352-353. Link to Original
  14. Nothing will replace physical books. There is a certain satisfaction to be had and valued in seeing the physical, existential, three-dimensional form of a book – one's own or someone else's – in having it on hand without needing to click a mouse or scroll through screen pages. Perhaps the entire contents of the Library of Congress and the British Museum can be combined and fitted into a special thumbnail drive and be made accessible to one and all, everywhere, anywhere, and at any time. But otherwise, a book's contents exist in the ethereal realm of chips and circuitry. One can't reach out and touch it, flip through its pages, and say, "There it is. A lifetime of work," and heft its two or three pounds in one's hand. All Kindle and other forms of e-books are based on the chief format of a book, with covers and pages. But an e-book is much like an ideal woman; an abstraction hovering in one's mind, not entirely real and dependent on electric power that hasn’t been knocked out by a storm or a power company's incompetence. The real ideal woman is three-dimensional and, well, real. There's a morale-boosting difference between a having a pin-up of Rita Hayworth and Rita Hayworth sitting across the club table from you with a come-hither look and her unseen foot teasing one's leg beneath the table. Substitute Lauren Bacall or Carole Lombard, if you wish. The publishing world tends to be culturally and esthetically autistic. Its communication skills are miniscule or non-existent, it is rigidly myopic in its practices and planning, and is about as detached from the world as any random political party or bureaucracy. It has been so for decades, nay, centuries. As a rule, it passes over what it ought to publish and promotes the marginal, the forgettable, and the transient. "It's what the public wants," is its oft-repeated excuse and rationalization for its behavior, wishing to forget and hoping the book-buying public doesn’t remember that much of what it publishes winds up on bookstores' remainder tables with drastically marked-down prices to help reduce its taxable inventory. Its claim to omniscience is the stuff of satire. Speaking of inventory, book publishing was mortally wounded by the Thor Power Tool Company decision of the Supreme Court in 1979, which, among other things, ruled that a company's inventory can be taxed according to the IRS's whim and discretion and byzantine guidelines. We won’t go into the mental gymnastics of tax code accounting here. Be it said that an inventory is an asset – power tools, auto parts, books, components for McDonald's movie promotion toys, off-the-rack fashions in Wal-Mart or Sachs Fifth Avenue, or gold and ivory bracelets in Tiffany's, it matters not the entity – and whether or not it can be "written down" or reported as depreciated or subjected to other feats of mental legerdemain, it is still taxable. Companies work to keep their taxable inventories as low as possible. Not all are successful, especially not publishing companies. Thus, year-end sales and remainder tables. Enough said on that subject. A physical book is immediate, tangible proof that a thought existed and was put into communicative form. It is evidence and the end product of mental effort. It can be complimentary, or damning. It can be a Victor Hugo novel or a biography of Patrick Henry or a Saul Alinsky how-to book about making communistic revolution and tyranny. One can weigh a thumbnail drive in one's hand, or wear it on a key-chain, or stash it in a music box, but not see its contents. But one can weigh a book in one's hand, and its contents are readily available. Do not, however, mistake this ode to physical books as a screed against technology. Technology enabled me to publish many books overlooked or rejected by autistic publishers. It enabled me to make them real and accessible to me and anyone else. I have recently self-published three collections of my political and cultural columns. These are apart from the Sparrowhawk historical novels, the two detective novel series, and one suspense novel series. When the first title of the Sparrowhawk series debuted in 2001, it was a moment of triumph after decades of being rebuffed by the best minds in the publishing world, including editors and agents. I am being generous when I say "best." One day that year, as I sat contemplating the burgeoning envelopes that contained about thirty years of rejection notices and other correspondence to editors and agents, I wondered why I kept them. I wondered with muted bitterness about the thousands of dollars spent on copies of manuscripts that were never read and postage sent and self-addressed return stamped envelopes that were never used by the addressees. Many of those companies no longer existed as independent companies (such as Scribner) and many of those editors and agents had died and were forgotten. I outlasted them. They no longer mattered. I discarded the envelopes. Their contents have long since been mulched and have, as Robert Heinlein might have put it, pushed up several generations of daisies. Perfect Crime Books exhibited its discretion and discrimination by publishing my Chess Hanrahan detective series (With Distinction, First Prize, Presence of Mind, and Honors Due). My own Patrick Henry Press imprint has published a Roaring Twenties detective series set in San Francisco (China Basin, The Head of Athena, The Daedâlus Conspiracy, and The Chameleon), and the Merritt Fury suspense series (Whisper the Guns, We Three Kings, and Run From Judgment). All are available as print books or on Kindle. The columns have all appeared here on Rule of Reason and on other weblogs, and many were "reprinted" in dozens of other weblogs or "webzines" as far away as Russia, India, and Israel. The titles of the collections have naval warfare themes. They are Running Out MyGuns in the War of Ideas, Broadsidesin the War of Ideas, and Corsairs andFreebooters (subtitled, respectively, A Collection of Advices, A Collection of Observations, and A Collection of Pungent Remarks). For a long time, they were available under different covers on Kindle (and also on Barnes & Noble's Nook, but some legal matter of exclusivity claimed by Amazon obliged me to take them down from Nook). Now they are also available as hold-in-your-hand, page-turning books, thin, light-weight, easy to hold, non-daunting, and able to be perused by light bulb or candlelight. They represent a selection from nearly five hundred columns or essays and a fraction of the nearly one million words I have expended since finishing Sparrowhawk in 2005. They also contain articles and reviews which appeared in other publications long before I began writing regular columns, such as the Journal of Information Ethics, The Social Critic, the Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, two editions of McGraw-Hill's Civilization textbook, and the Journal of Colonial Williamsburg. All in all, ninety-three appeals to reason and rationality are available under three covers, addressing such subjects as Islam, our political conundrum (with two special sections devoted exclusively to the rise, investiture, and nihilism of President Barack Obama), the progress of "Progressivism," the state of the culture, the Clintons, the Bushes, and the phenomena of movie remakes. The collections also feature book and movie reviews. I may put together a fourth collection, depending on the state of the economy this coming year and on the response to the existing collections. Whether or not these collections represent my best, is for the reader to judge. Happy New Year, and, if possible, calm seas and a prosperous voyage to all in this world of turmoil. Link to Original
  15. As I noted in my earlier column, "Come Out With Your Hands Up!"on the occasion of the Sandy Hook school massacre and the howling of the Left for gun controls: The calls for stricter controls on automatic and semi–automatic weapons sound more like the baying of a wolf pack as it closes in on hapless gun–owners and the Second Amendment right to own and bear arms than it does outrage over the crime. "Preventive" or "preemptive" law is the legal offspring of Positive Law, which, simply put, is legislation passed to correct perceived social wrongs or inequities. Positive law nullifies natural law, which, in today's and yesteryear's context, is based on the requirements for an individual to live as an independent, rational being. The Constitution is based on natural law. The United States has absorbed many tons of positive law in the way of welfare state legislation that has made the Constitution nearly superfluous. Natural law has been under assault for over a century. Positive law presumes that men cannot be trusted to handle a butter knife – never mind a gun – without harming themselves or others. But if a man murdered or maimed another with a butter knife, then, in today's disintegrating culture, in which mob rule and demagoguery trump individual rights, there would an outcry against the legal sale and possession of metal butter knives. A British correspondent, John Webb, has seconded these and other points I make in that column, and provides us with further elucidation on the historical, practical, and political background of not only America's Second Amendment, but the British philosophical and political origins of that thinking. I have reprinted his comments with minor editorial and punctuation changes. John Webb writes: I cannot really be bothered to write anything new on gun control and the ridiculous stupidity of the media. It's a sickening spectacle to be sure. My position, which dates from 2007, remains unchanged. I'll make just a few comments in no particular order. They are not by any means intended to be water–tight arguments, just casual observations jotted down as they occur to me. The government wants to ban private gun ownership on the grounds of public safety. Since when did public safety become a proper goal of government? On how many objects and humans actions might the government legislate under the pretext of possible injury to a third party? Form your own list. Even if you argue the case on the basis of 'domestic tranquility' some of the most violent nations in history have also been the freest – you couldn't find a more bellicose bunch of nutters than the ancient Greeks, not to mention the peaceful years of the Soviet Russia, Hitler's orderly pre–war Germany or any number of tribal societies, some of which don't even have a word for 'theft' let alone 'murder.' If it's safety you desire – there's nothing more tranquil than a concentration camp, except, perhaps, a graveyard. Remember that line of Harry Lime's from the 1949 film, The Third Man? I know this argument is unfair but I'm sympathetic to its long–term perspective. The plethora of contemporary moral panics to which we're subjected mean absolutely nothing to me. "In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed – they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love and five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock!" If firearms are in general circulation don't armed crooks have a tactical advantage over the armed law–abiding? They may benefit from the element of surprise. But their behavior often gives them away before they draw their weapons – scoping for security cameras, unobstructed getaway routes, the location of their accomplices, etc. Plus, most crooks are idiots – they are incompetent at everything, including gun use – they buy the wrong ammo, forget the safety catches, don't maintain their guns, they accidentally shoot themselves. And all short–term tactical advantages disappear as soon as an alert is sounded – if the people are armed. Wouldn't a ban decrease the availability of arms to criminals? No. Banning guns increases their availability to the criminal classes, thereby making criminals more of a threat than they should be, which in turn generates fear in their victims and potential victims, and fear is anti–mind. Criminals do not heed – and, indeed, scoff at – all species of legislation, especially gun controls. In a free society everyone should be able to own guns except those with a criminal record. In such circumstances the law supports, and encourages the honest and the 'societal' advantage of an armed public, and advantage which rests with the law–abiding. Ban guns and the situation is reversed. Now the law–abiding are at a disadvantage against gun–toting criminals and more dependent for their protection on the diligence of government officials. And that diligence is too often found wanting, especially because government officials cannot predict the commissions of crimes. Crimes happen regardless of the diligence of the authorities. True, when guns are banned the general supply of guns falls locally, but among the criminal classes the supply of guns subsequently increases – not only do serious criminals merely stash their firearms along with the rest of their loot, but petty criminals, too, get in on the act encouraged by the artificially inflated profits of a "new" illicit trade. As long as Afghan peasants can afford a Kalashnikov it is likely that there will exist sufficient economic margins to make it worthwhile for petty criminals to smuggle and horde weapons for use as illicit currency. Unless the UK government can abolish all guns everywhere on the planet simultaneously it is unlikely that any domestic legislation will remove firearms from the hands of UK criminals. I doubt that the UK government will ever be able to achieve this 'noble' aim given its failure to eradicate illicit drugs from convicts securely ensconced within the not insubstantial walls of UK prisons (and U.S. prisons). 5. Speaking of drugs – the same principle applies to all goods of simple manufacture. Prohibition doesn't work – it merely empowers the criminal classes to the detriment of all. The idea that all social illustrations, real or imagined, can be solved by the sweep of a legislator's pen is a popular, modern delusion. American Prohibition sired the creation and growth of organized crime. American regulations, including the criminalization of drug use, sired the creation and growth of drug cartels. Joseph Kennedy Sr. founded his family's political dynasty on smuggled Canadian and British alcohol. Cigarette taxes and regulations have fostered the growth of criminal gangs smuggling cigarettes from low tax states to high tax states – gangs often composed of Muslims raising money for their jihadist masters. 6. Neither will Draconian laws against possession reduce criminality – but it will fill the prisons with harmless dupes, women, and children coerced by gangsters to transport and secrete weaponry intended for criminal purposes. 7. Though it is true that in society we do surrender our right to self–defense to the government, we do so only partially, but not in entirety. On many, if not most occasions, no government official will be present to prevent a crime, especially a crime against the person. In the absence of an armed populace (or a state–appointed bodyguard) the potential for ambitious politicians to use the fear of crime to advance their own powers and interests is exacerbated – 24-hour surveillance, ID cards, paid informants, retinal scans, and etc. 8. Even today the government recognizes some right to self–defense but what does 'the right to self–defense' mean in practice? What does 'the right to self–defense' mean for an unarmed woman in the face of a male attacker? In purely physical terms most men are endowed with a muscular strength that puts women at a serious disadvantage during a physical confrontation. Firearms – the product of the mind – negate that unchosen genetic disadvantage. A firearm is just a tool, a tool of the mind; Should the mindful be deprived of the tools of the mindful? How many tools would exist if their use were restricted to the mindless by the mindless? Would you ban the ownership of pointed sticks? If not, who should decide who gets the licenses and permits to use pointed sticks? If you want a big government, that's a good way to get one. 9. Which leads us to the political aspect. If this country stands for anything it stands for the recognition of the idea that individuals have rights, especially the rights to life, liberty, and property. The social and historical context for the development and "implementation" of these ideas is, to the best of my knowledge, unique to this island and its former colonies. France and Spain, however, produced some great heroes of liberalism but they signally failed to implement any coherent liberal tradition independently of this country. Why? Politically, a number of reasons occur to me – but four stand out: a) The absence of a standing army. The early separation of church and state (since the 12th century). c) The subjection of political authority to the rule of law (since the 11th century, at least). d) A consistent affirmation of the right of rebellion (since 12th century). According to some historians, particularly by David Hume, it seems that these principles matured by accident often contrary to intent and independently of philosophy. I disagree with that thesis, but it would take too long for me to justify that position. It is, however, worth remembering that these principles did not go unchallenged by ambitious monarchs and they were not secured without cost – as Wat Tyler, Jack Cade, Robin Hood, the Parliamentarians, the Regicides of Charles I, Algernon Sydney, and The Immortal Seven (Five Whigs and two Tories who put their estates – and necks – on the line by inviting William of Orange to take the throne from the Papist James II), thereby facilitating and enabling the Glorious Revolution. and many, many others would readily attest. In the light of their experience, what might the future hold now that we are disarmed, and have an army of police officers eager to enforce the dubious whims of our political masters (e.g., the regulation of the use of mobile phones today – who knows what tomorrow)? What might the future hold now that we have a growing band of enthusiastic religionists anxious to foist their vision of the New Jerusalem courtesy of an army of professional activists funded by their tax–exempt re–branded charities – many of today's seemingly secular charities have religious origins, and still others aspire to the Papacy "Wildlife groups axe David Bellamy as global warming 'heretic'," was one classic headline I remember from last year. What might the future hold now that the government routinely exempts itself from its own laws – the European Union's nonexistent accounts, Mandelson's mortgage, bribes to the Saudis, Jack Straw's child–molesting brother and drug–pushing son, Blunkett's nannies, the sale of Knighthoods, exemption from pension taxes etc. And what sort of rebellion might be organized if Tony Blair's great–grandson becomes President of the United States of Europe and declares Pol Pot a visionary? Will our great–grandchildren thank us for their lack of arms? Tom Paine once observed that a nation's constitution, ultimately, is its people who must exercise vigilance, identify tyranny, make their judgment and put their lives and estates in jeopardy in defense of their rights. What force does that living 'constitution' have now that it is disarmed? (This is a reference to the liberal perception of especially the U.S. Constitution as a "charter" that can be modified or amended to conform to the exigencies and circumstances of the modern world – in short, a document governed by no absolute principles.) The long English tradition of an armed public and disarmed state has been turned on its head. Is this a good idea? 10. Gun prohibition also sends out the wrong metaphysical message. On every occasion that I have had the chance to seriously question collectivists about the wisdom of their infantile policies, exposing their policies for the nonsense that they are, sooner or later, they always revert to the same old mantra: the people are sinful, guilty and foolish, unreliable and untrustworthy, incapable of managing their own welfare, not sufficiently 'evolved' to be left to their own decisions. Is this a principle that we should affirm by agreeing with gun controls –the people cannot be trusted? 11. Gun prohibition also sends out the wrong metaphysical message. On every occasion that I have had the chance to seriously question collectivists about the wisdom of their infantile policies, exposing their policies for the nonsense that they are, sooner or later, they always revert to the same old mantra: the people are sinful, guilty and foolish, unreliable and untrustworthy, incapable of managing their own welfare, not sufficiently 'evolved' to be left to their own decisions. Is this a principle that we should affirm by agreeing with gun controls –the people cannot be trusted? 12. The right to bear arms is written into our own Bill of Rights of 1689. If we allow such a fundamental right to be infringed then it sets a precedent for abolishing other fundamental rights (this is already happening.) 13. By siding in favor of gun controls we also side with some of history's blackest villains, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot. 14. By siding in favor of gun controls we also side against some of freedoms postulated by our greatest advocates: Edward Coke (1552– 1634.) "And yet in some cases a man may not only use force and arms, but assemble company also. As any may assemble his friends and neighbours, to keep his house against those that come to rob, or kill him, or to offer him violence in it....for a man's house is his castle, and a person's own house is his ultimate refuge; for where shall a man be safe, if it be not in his house? And in this sense it truly said that the laws permit the taking up of arms against armed persons." Institutes of the Laws of England, 1628. John Locke (1632– 1704.) "The people "have a right to defend themselves and recover by force what by unlawful force is taken from them ...." Thus, the people never give absolute power to the legislator, for they would not "have disarmed themselves, and armed him, to make prey of them when he pleases." SecondTreatise on Civil Government, 1690. Algernon Sydney (1623–1683.) "...swords were given to men that none might be slaves, but such as know not how to use them." Discourses Concerning Civil Government, 1698. William Blackstone (1723–1780.) "In the three preceding articles we have taken a short view of the principal absolute rights (personal security, personal liberty, private property) which appertain to every Englishman. But in vain would these rights be declared, ascertained, and protected by the dead letter of the laws, if the constitution had provided no other method to secure their actual enjoyment. It has therefore established certain other auxiliary subordinate rights of the subject, which serve principally as outworks or barriers to protect and maintain inviolate the three great and primary rights, of personal security, personal liberty, and private property...To vindicate (the three primary rights), when actually violated or attacked, the subjects of England are entitled, in the first place, to the regular administration and free course of justice in the courts of law; next, to the right of petitioning the king and parliament for redress of grievances; and, lastly, to the right of having and using arms for self–preservation and defense." Commentaries on theLaws of England, 1765. Thomas Jefferson had something to say about guns and an armed citizenry: "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government." "No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms in his own lands." (On an early draft of the Constitution) "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." Thomas Jefferson, quoting Cesare Beccaria in OnCrimes and Punishment, 1764. Americans should treat the current assault on their right to own and bear arms as perilous as the current assault on the First Amendment and their freedom of speech. The power to physically disarm the citizen is the companion power to disarm his mind. Gun control advocates ultimately and necessarily must and will advocate speech control, to render Americans defenseless in body and mind. Link to Original