Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Review: Edward Cline, Presence of Mind, 2010

Presence of Mind by Edward Cline is subtitled, "A Chess Hanrahan Novel." It is one of four thrillers that feature private detective Hanrahan. Although published in 2010, the series was originally written in the 1980s. In chronological order the four books are: With Distinction, First Prize, Presence of Mind and Honors Due. First Prize was published by the Mysterious Press in 1988. All are now readily available for order online. 

The first book of the series, With Distinction, takes place in a small college town where Hanrahan has retreated from the world. He's essentially "on strike" from a country spiraling out of control. When a philosophy professor is murdered, police chief Hanrahan solves the case. Along the way, he learns a great deal about the causes of the country's problems. At the novel's conclusion, he decides to return to New York City to solve cases involving moral paradoxes.  

Chess Hanrahan deals with some aspect of the "establishment's" intellectual and moral corruption in each novel. In With Distinction it's academia. First Prize deals with the aesthetic vandalism of the publishing profession. Honors Due lifts the rocks covering Hollywood and the stage in order to examine what's underneath. In each case, he solves the paradox of how moral corruption under the guise of "idealism" can and does lead to murder. In Presence of Mind Chess confronts what is now called the Deep State's foreign policy empire. As he explains to a traitorous villain who is selling out the United States to the Russians, 
"I'd like to have been born a hundred years ago, so that as I grew older, I could witness the growth of civilization and enjoy its fruits. But, I wasn't. I have to stand by and watch it being sabotaged and overrun by barbarians in this time. I want to understand why that's happening and, when I can, to try and stop the carnage. Most people either aren't aware that that's what's happening, or they're aware but avert their eyes and minds." I paused. "I'm a thinking man. I don't want illusions." (pg. 137)
It's important to remember the context of the book's era of the mid 1980s. During the post Vietnam Cold War era, the liberal establishment worked overtime appeasing the Soviet Union and selling out the USA at every opportunity. One only has to recall their response to President Reagan's "evil empire" quip or "Tear Down this Wall" speech. For example, there was the media's slobbering love affair with "journalist" and Soviet agent Vladimir Posner. Of course, today the same people (or their evil progeny) are fomenting war between the United States and Russia based on their manufactured election conspiracy.

The media/academia axis manufacturing of a Fake News consensus is hardly new. The indoctrination of the American people with the liberal establishment's propaganda was obvious back in the 1980s. The villains in Presence of Mind utilize all of their vast power and influence to create what they call "cognitive harmony" in order to abolish dissent or thoughtcrime before it can impede their agenda, 
"Tragically, it [society] must also 'shed' those persons whose lamentable circumstances, atavistic perceptions, or premature self-endings caused them to resist their ultimate, necessary and wordless absorption into the whole. As resolution to this dilemma, Ketterling [Foundation] advocated a vigorous program of public education to rectify both predicable and unexpected instances of cognitive dissonance present in the lay citizenry, and the establishment of a science of information interpretation as a branch of public perception maintenance, whose goal would be universal cognitive harmony." (pg. 59)
Such cultural harmonizers existed in the 1980s, just as they do today. For example, there is the British and American media's framing of the persecution of Tommy Robinson and the public reaction in Britain. The narrative is that Robinson somehow interfered with the rape trial defendants' right to a fair hearing. Further, all of his supporters are just "far right" soccer hooligans. Happily, only the usual clueless fools are buying this sad attempt to create "cognitive harmony" based on transparent lies. Meanwhile back on earth, we of cognitive dissonance understand the obvious: Tommy's incarceration is an attempt to cover up the British establishment's complicity with the Moslem rape gangs. It's failing spectacularly. If the recent Italian elections are any indication, the globalist traitor-elite had better get used to much more "atavistic perceptions." 
Actual Fake News Caption: "Yobs swear at police as they call for the release of EDL founder Tommy Robinson from jail"
Chess Hanrahan is one of my all-time favorite fictional characters. Edward Cline has created a fully fleshed-out and believable protagonist solving interesting paradoxes framed in tight plot construction. I won't give away anything else in this review. Buy the books and enjoy some wonderful thrillers.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Western Europe's Murder-Suicide & Tommy Robinson's Crucifixion

I was reading Douglas Murray's important book The Strange Death of Europe last week when Tommy Robinson was arrested for speaking truth to corrupt power. The book thoroughly documents what Robinson's persecution illustrates, that the death of Europe is the result of a murder-suicide pact. Murray's book focuses on the mass migration of Moslems into Europe in the post-war era and the results of this self-destructive policy. 

Murray argues that the damage done to Western Europe's culture and institutions are irreversible. Even if he is wrong on that score, time is running out for the cradle of Western Civilization. He is pessimistic because the European elite remain determined to continue their destructive policies to the bitter end. Although Murray doesn't explicitly say so, it's clear that total destruction is the end point sought by the West's traitorous leaders. As he states his thesis,
I mean that the civilisation we know as Europe is in the process of committing suicide and that neither Britain nor any other Western European country can avoid that fate because we all appear to suffer the same symptoms and maladies. As a result, by the end of the lifespans of most people currently alive in Europe will not be Europe and the peoples of Europe will have lost the only place in the world we had to call home. (pg. 1)
He is describing a process that if inflicted on anyplace other than white majority counties would be characterized as soft ethnic cleansing. And, anyone who doesn't exhibit the required symptoms of the prescribed malady will be declared an Enemy of the State. I don't agree with him that Europe's suicide is inevitable. Eurabia is not Western Europe's fate. However, to avoid self-immolation, Europe's people are going to have to throw off their betrayers and replace them with leaders like Viktor Orban. Hopefully, Italy has already begun this process.

Murray breaks his argument down into two broad parts: the how and the why of Western Europe's murder-suicide. He provides an insightful history on "how we got here." It begins with the standard argument of open-borders types on the need for labor to do the work the natives won't do. As Murray amply demonstrates, allowing large numbers of Moslem "guests" was a solution to a short-term problem with immense long-term ramifications. When the economic arguments for invasion no longer hold up, its advocates move to the "multicultural" position. 

The author spends several chapters describing the situation on the front line Mediterranean countries of Spain, Italy and Greece. These nations were all abandoned by the EU when it came to dealing with the immense pressures of the "migrant" invasion. On the other hand, the EU insisted that these countries must accept whoever washes up on the shores of every island in the Sea. The result has been chaos and growing hostility to the EU from its worst hit victims.

On the question of why the EU and other European elites continue with their suicidal policies, Murray is less cogent. He notes that these elites will jump from argument to argument and from position to position as suits their convenience. He also demonstrates that while talking tough on immigration to their constituents, they just keep the migrants rolling in (much like the USA's bi-partisan traitor class). He gives these destroyers too much of the benefit of the doubt. This is a major blunder for at least two significant reasons. First, it grants a moral sanction - or at least a moral fig leaf - to evil. Such a concession will only benefit evil. Second, it makes it more difficult, if not impossible, to identify the nature of the battle and how to win it. Murray does concede that, 
There are also those of course who so hate Europe - what they are and what they have been - that they are willing for literally anyone to come in and take over. In Berlin during the height of this [2015 migrant] crisis I spoke with a German intellectual who told me that the German people were anti-Semitic and prejudiced and that for this reason if no other they deserved to be replaced. (pg. 270)
He elsewhere observes that, "Today's Australian schoolchildren are taught that whatever its present virtues, their nation was founded on genocide and theft" (pg. 163). This pandemic of hate directed at the West is so widespread and of such enduring duration, that no further proof is required on the evil nature of our current elites. I'm old enough to remember the "celebration" of the 500th anniversary Christopher Columbus's discovery of the New World in 1992. It should go without saying that the "liberal" establishment indulged in an orgy of hatred - hatred of Columbus - hatred of America - hatred of Western Civilization. The haters are not some small minority of academic kooks. They have metastasized. They're calling the shots and setting the agenda.

The author briefly discusses the creation of the English Defence League (EDL) in 2009. The EDL was formed in Luton in response to a jihadist group who protested British soldiers parading through town after returning from Afghanistan. The invaders called the soldiers "baby killers" and "murderers." When counter-protesters arrived, the British police took the side of the invading savages, "while al-Muhajiroun had handed out their flyers of protest in mosques with impunity, the locals opposed to the Islamists were prevented by police from handing out any leaflets" (pg. 238). 

Tommy Robinson was one of the founding leaders of the EDL. For his "crime" of dissent, he has paid a steep price. The official persecution began almost immediately, 
From the moment Robinson started the organization his bank accounts were frozen. He and all his immediate family had their homes raided by police and files and computers were taken away ... At the same time there were constant threats from Islamist groups. As well as repeated assaults by Muslim gangs on the EDL's leaders, there were also serious efforts to kill them. (pg. 239)
This is how they roll on Airstrip One. As most everyone reading this knows, Robinson was recently arrested for reporting on the latest trial of Moslem rape gangs in Merry Old England. The judge hearing the case decided to revive the old Tudor/Stuart tradition of the Star Chamber. Clearly, Moslems are Britain's new aristocracy. Even the lowest of gang rapist welfare parasites enjoy protection. Of course, these professional rape gangs that created tens-of-thousands of victims had the protection of the state for decades. Even after the British government was shamed into action, the protection remains in force. Robinson is only the latest in a long line of victims on this issue. 

In his recent article on Robinson's arrest, Murray hedges with the usual qualifications distancing the writer from the victim's principles. In this case Murray opines, "Robinson wised up slightly [by leaving the EDL], and eventually began to plow his energies into a type of citizen journalism/activism." Further Murray states, "Robinson would not now be in jail if he had not once again accosted defendants in an ongoing trial outside the courthouse." Asking a defendant from a distance what they thought of the verdict is hardly an accost. 

There are other examples of such appeasement in the article and many, many others by people attempting to defend Robinson. Such appeasement is a cardinal mistake, as always. Tommy is a hero. He has placed himself at mortal risk in order to expose child rape gangs and speak out on his country's slow motion murder. He is the hero the West now most needs. He is a man who fights. Britain needs one-million Tommys marching on Whitehall in order to dispossess the traitor class of the British government and nation. This view may seem extreme, and I'm not surprised that even someone as knowledgeable as Murray would balk at such a necessity. 

The reality is that Britain's ruling class from government, to media, to academia, to law enforcement enabled the rape gangs for decades. There is no doubt on this central fact of the scandal. There are even rumors of the traitor class's active participation in the crimes. They are still covering for such criminal gangs and lone wolves. It is in this context that Tommy Robinson should be judged and not by nitpicking whether he violated the color of some egregiously unjust law designed to protect rapists and murderers.

Paul Weston is a rare man who understands the issues and that time is running out on his country. Weston was famously arrested a few years ago for quoting Winston Churchill on a London street. A few days ago he uploaded a video on his country's plight, Tommy Robinson and what is to be done. Please, take the time to give it a listen.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Yaron Brook Hates Hungary but Loves Red China

I've just finished listening to a twenty-five minute interview of the Ayn Rand Institute's Board Chairman Yaron Brook. The interview was conducted by an Englishman named Thor Holt. I have never heard of Holt, but he does a good job given the limited time available. 

Budapest: Hungarian Parliament: Not a part of the West per Brook's diktat
The first fifteen minutes of the interview provided me with some brief, false hope. Holt asks good questions and Brook actually sounds reasonable. The first part of the show is dedicated to Brook explaining the rudiments of Objectivism. Holt hasn't studied the philosophy and doesn't have any critical follow up questions. So, Brook handles this part of the interview well. He then is asked about his book Equal is Unfair. He presents the standard liberal argument that it's irrational to expect equal outcomes based on the free choices and actions of unequal individuals. Although, it was rather churlish of Brook to not even mention Don Watkins his co-author on the book. 

Brook makes a few surprising remarks on the current refugee crisis. At around the eleven minute point he says that "I don't believe in mass migrations." He elaborates that it's absurd to expect countries to take-in and absorb such massive influxes. He even states that Africans have a "responsibility to bring about a free society in Africa" in order to make it a place worth living in. So far so good. The first half of this interview is the most reasonable Brook has ever sounded in all the lectures I've heard from him. Alas, it is not to last. At around the fifteen minute mark, he goes off the rails. 

Holt asks Brook about his travels around the world giving lectures on Objectivism and capitalism. Holt specifically brings up Brook's recent visits to Hungary and Red China. In response, he extols the virtues of the "vibrant" Chinese people. He is effusive in his praise of the hard-working, brilliant Chinese. He criticizes the Communist dictatorship. However, the nature of Red China's Communist regime has not prevented him from supporting "free trade" with this odious and dangerous tyranny.  

Brook has nothing good to say about Hungary or its people. Although he has visited the country on two occasions, the ever churlish Brook doesn't mention his hosts or qualify his condemnation with some positive statement on the place or people. What set Brook off was Holt's statement that many Europeans believe that the rest of the continent should follow Hungary's example for dealing with the "migrant" invasion. Brook's not having any of that and launches into an amazing diatribe beginning at around the eighteen minute point. Only an extended quote can do it justice:
If you want to be poor. If you want to have no free speech. If you want to have no independent media. If you want elections to be rigged by an authoritarian. Hungary's the way to go ... No, Hungary is anti-Western. Hungary represents everything the West is opposed to. It represents authoritarianism. It represents ethnic tribalism, really ... It's not a police state yet. But, it has all the characteristics of a country heading in that direction ... He [Viktor Orban] uses the threat of the immigration to clamp down ... If you think about Hungary, Hungary was never at risk of being flooded with Muslims. All those Muslims [were] coming in to Hungary to get to Germany. Not a single one of those Muslims wanted to stay in poor, pathetic Hungary ... Nobody wants to be in Hungary. 
One thing Hungary also doesn't have is massive Moslem rape gangs and constant jihad attacks upon its citizens. Of course, freedom of speech is under much greater attack in Western Europe. The governments of England, Germany, France, Sweden and the Netherlands are at war with free speech and political dissent in order to suppress their own people's desires to emulate Hungary's immigration policy. 

Hungary's Most Excellent Border Fence
Yaron Brook stated his opposition to mass migrations. But, any country (except Israel) that does anything to stop such invasions will earn his undying enmity.  

P.S. The British government's vicious repression of Tommy Robinson and those associated with the English Defence League is particularly appalling. On 25 May 2018, Robinson was again arrested for livestreaming in front of the Leeds courthouse. Inside the courthouse many members of a Moslem rape gang are on trial. He was arrested for "breaching the peace," which means in Airstrip One reporting on a story that has been officially blacked-out by the authorities.

There is a good chance that Robinson will be murdered in prison by members of the Religion of Peace. This is called judicial murder in order to silence all dissent on Britian's slow motion suicide. Don't hold your breath for the hypocrite Yaron Brook, or the rest of his ilk at the Ayn Rand Institute, to speak out in Robinson's defense. Although Brook said he opposes "mass migration," he only supports the free speech rights of those like George Soros who tirelessly work for Europe's population replacement with savages.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Gangs of New York: The Book and The Movie

Herbert Asbury published his popular history The Gangs of New York: An Informal History of the Underworld in 1928. It is one of four books that Asbury wrote on the criminal elements in different American cities. The other three deal with gangs in Chicago, New Orleans and San Francisco.The book is inaccurate in places. However, it is based on a substantial amount of primary documents from both periodicals and memoirs. 

NYC - Mulberry Street
Asbury doesn't quite define his meaning of the term "gang." He is clear that for the purposes of his book, "gangs" refer to the large, but loosely organized, street gangs that originated in such notorious neighborhoods as Five Points, the Bowery, the Lower East Side waterfront and Hell's Kitchen. These gangs were ruled by charismatic leaders such as Bill "the Butcher" Poole, John Morrissey, Johnny Dolan, Paul Kelly and many others. Although these were ethnic gangs, they were held together by loyalty for and fear of their leaders. Asbury makes a distinction between this type of gang and the organized crime that would come later and flourish with Prohibition. 

The author documents that the reason the gangs were able to terrorize the streets of New York for so long was their political usefulness to Tammany Hall - New York City's corrupt Democratic machine. Asbury shows that even in the aftermath of the infamous Draft Riot of July 1863, gangsters were protected by the political machine. They were too useful for padding the ballet box and intimidating rivals. He is clear about the causes and consequences of the Riots: 

The disturbances were the natural end of the ruinous road along which the city had travelled during the preceding fifteen years, and the logical result of the governmental corruption which had permitted Manhattan Island to become the Mecca of criminals from all parts of the United States and the slums of Europe ... Many gang leaders of the Five Points, the water front and other criminal infested areas were caught leading their thugs on looting expeditions, but politicians rushed to their aid and saved them from punishment. (pp. 108, 155)
The author doesn't dwell on the politics of the era. His main focus is on the gangs, their leaders and activities. He does note that most of the gangs were dominated by immigrants and their progeny. The exception was the "nativist" Bowery Boys who resented the political pull of the immigrant gangs.

The book can be divided into two sections: before and after the Civil War. The first section is the best. The book tends to lose focus when dealing with the proliferating gangs in the post war era. That said, it's an entertaining read from which I learned a great deal. One interesting aspect of the book is the number of riots that occurred in New York City during this period. In the slums of New York there were always large numbers of people all to happy to engage in such criminal mischief. The author argues that around the time of the First World War crime in New York was changing. The heyday of this type of gang had passed and organized crime was taking over the "rackets." Of course, Asbury was sadly wrong on this score. Vicious street gangs are still a part of American urban life. And, as usual, there are politicians who have use for their "spark of divinity."

One of the earliest gangster films was D.W. Griffith's The Musketeers of Pig Alley that was made in 1912. It is a "short" of around sixteen minutes in length. It stars Lillian Gish and the scenario was written by Anita Loos. It was filmed on location and the New York street scenes alone make it worth watching. 

The story goes that sometime in the 1970s director Martin Scorsese read the book. He was so impressed that he made a mental note to someday make a film based upon it. Scorsese played so fast and loose with the source material that the film was nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar. Of course, film makers have always taken "artistic license" with their source material. But, in this case, Scorsese also had a political ax of his own to grind. The didactic message of the movie is made clear in the forward to the 2008 edition of Asbury's book. The forward's author is Russell Shorto who, of course, possesses impeccable liberal establishment credentials. But, at least he's honest about the damage wrought on America by the mass importation of collectivists who view the purpose of the state as a partisan in ceaseless tribal warfare:
In between the polyglot Dutch port city over which Peter Stuyvesant reigned and the birthplace of New Deal policies lay two centuries of unparalleled immigration, in which waves of mostly poor newcomers from a variety of backgrounds poured into Manhattan's mean streets ... The era that Asbury chronicles is one not of out-and-out lawlessness but of poor immigrant communities taking some of the law into their own hands [!], and working both within and outside the existing system. The gangs, and the machine politics, gave way, finally, to new ideas about the role of government in protecting citizens. The gangs of New York can thus be seen not only as precursors to the gangsters and gangstas of later eras, but as a node in the development of American political reform. 
There is it from the horse's mouth. Bloody riots, organized crime and massive political corruption brought to these shores are not a problem if they help lead to a bankrupt welfare state that the Founding Fathers would have considered an abomination. This is not an exaggeration on Shorto's part. The theme of the movie that "America was born in the streets" is now "liberal" dogma. According to the "liberal" nomenklatura there was no such thing as American culture prior to the mass immigration that began in the 1840s. In fact, prior to this era, the American people were incapable of self-government. The failure of American "democracy" is best illustrated by the peaceful transition of power from the Federalists to Thomas Jefferson's Republicans in 1801.

Scorsese makes this point repeatedly in his film. Without immigrants, the four foundational groups of Anglo settlers could not have created the United States and formed a more perfect union. But, of course, they did. It's an aspect of American history that the Current Truth is designed to stuff down the Memory Hole.  

Scorsese makes some mistakes in this film. He was self-indulgent and made it way too long. It should have been cut by at least forty minutes. The entire ending section should have been deleted. The faux climax about two hours in should have been the film's actual ending. Scorsese does deserve credit for the lush cinematography and careful set production that gives the film its look of authenticity. 

What's interesting about this film is that Scorsese's is too good a story teller to let his political agenda completely destroy the entire drama. The putative hero of the film is the ethnic Irish character played by Leonardo DiCaprio. DiCaprio's Amsterdam Vallon is two-dimensional and boring. His motive is revenge. His target is Bill the Butcher played by Danial Day-Lewis. Bill the Butcher is the villain of the film. But a combination of great writing and Day-Lewis's bravura  performance makes him the film's central figure. Bill Cutting is obviously based on Bill Poole. Cutting is a "restrictionist" on immigration, and therefore, a very bad guy. Whether by design or accident, he gets his opportunity to have his say and steal the show. His character has the most depth of any in the film and is the most interesting by far.  

Bill the Butcher - 2020

As is usual, in this case the book is better than the film. But, the movie is worth watching, even if the last hour becomes tedious and predictable. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Kenneth Clark's Magnificent "Civilisation" and Its Desecration

Kenneth Clark (1903-1983) was an eminent, British art historian and museum curator. His most well-known work is the landmark documentary series Civilisation that was aired on the BBC in 1969. He sub-titled the documentary - and the companion book that followed - as "A Personal View." His concentration is on the visual arts that was his forte. He also emphasizes the deep connection between art and religion during most of the time-frame covered in the book and documentary. 

Kenneth Clark at Notre Dame
By "civilisation" Clark is referring to Western Europe from the fall of Rome to the end of the nineteenth century. His justified focus is on the heart of Western Civilization that can be located in a five hundred mile radius centered on Paris. He begins with early Celtic Christian art, but quickly moves on to the Carolingian Renaissance of Charlemagne. The photography is spectacular. With fine period music in the background, the camera lingers over masterpieces for the edification of the viewer. 

Bust of Charlemagne
Civilisation is a fascinating work by a man who deeply loved and cared about Western art and culture. He was fortunate to have been educated before cultural/moral relativism and self-loathing had become the West's official state religion. (The nihilistic "art" of the present will never compare to even the most mediocre of church art from the Middle Ages.)  The entire thirteen part series is available on YouTube. Hopefully, you will have time to watch it before it is declared thoughtcrime and taken down. 

Clark makes no apologies for his belief in the obvious superiority of Western Civilization to all other cultures. In the book's introductory chapter he compares a Greek statue to an African mask,
Whatever its merits as a work of art, I don't think there is any doubt that the Apollo embodies a higher state of civilisation than the mask. They both represent spirits, messengers from another world - that is to say, from a world of our own imagining ... But, all the same, the contrast between these images means something. It means that at certain epochs man has felt conscious of something about himself - body and spirit - which was outside the day-to-day struggle for existence and the night-to-night struggle with fear; and he has felt the need to develop these qualities of thought and feeling so that they might approach as nearly as possible to an ideal of perfection - reason, justice, physical beauty, all of them in equilibrium. (pp. 2-3)

He judges that such a mentality requires - among other things - cultural confidence. 
But, by far, it requires confidence - confidence in the society in which one lives, belief in its philosophy, belief in its laws, and confidence in one's own mental powers. (p. 4)
Obviously, none of the above will do for those that now occupy the West's commanding heights. The avowed mission of the West's "intellectuals" is to destroy such confidence. If you think that this is an exaggeration, then look no further than the BBC's recent production of Civilisations. What a difference a letter makes. In this "update" of the classic, three trendy academics (not one an art historian) commit cultural vandalism in order to eradicate the ability of their viewers to have any confidence in or love for their forebears' accomplishments.

One of the three vandals is the BBC's darling Mary Beard. She is best known for attempting to rewrite the history of Roman Britain in order to make it less white. The purpose of this latest work isn't any different. "Putting an 's' on the end of 'civilisation' is only the first, and easiest, step in wondering how we can make the very idea of civilisation less exclusively white, European and male." As with most cultural Marxist critiques, it all boils down to "too many white people." As is her usual song-and-dance routine, Beard whines about how dead white males used up all the culture and scholarship and left none for the ladies. Ironically, in order to play the victim, she must airbrush such scholars as Edith Hamilton and Eileen Power out of existence.  

PBS is now airing the nihilists' answer to Civilisation. The first three episodes of what should be called anti-Civilisation are now available online. The first one-and-a-half episodes are not too horrible. (Although, its very brief depiction of the art being discussed is a favor to the viewer regarding the modern rubbish that litters the presentation.) The series contains the expected jibes at the West, odes to multiculturalism and worship of primitive art. It's not until the middle of the second episode that it really goes off the rails.  At around the thirty minute mark, the narrator finds it necessary to scold the Greeks for their "obsession" with the beauty of the human body - during this sequence the background "music" is heavy and malevolent in case the narration isn't sufficiently overbearing. It goes downhill from there. 

The pretentious garbage of "Civilisations" has only one value: it illustrates the degenerate nature of our so-called intellectual elites. Watching three episodes of this dreck is my absolute limit. But, by all means, take the time to watch Clark's masterpiece. One can quibble with some of his choices. Those choices are part of the "personal view" he presents. It's the acquired lifetime of wisdom and knowledge and judgement that is desperately needed in our present day.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Tal Tsfany, Sophie Anwar and The Ayn Rand Institute's Continuing Deconstruction of the USA

The Ayn Rand Institute (ARI) recently announced that Tal Tsfany will be replacing Jim Brown as CEO on June 29, 2018. Apparently, Brown was just an "interim" CEO, although that was news to everyone. Tsfany is being advertised as a "long-term" leader. As an retired US Air Force officer with a WASPy sounding name, Brown was an odd duck for ARI leadership. 

Tsfany immigrated to the United States from Israel in 2006. He has spent most of his professional life as an executive in the high tech industry. He is the co-founder of the Ayn Rand Center Israel. Despite this resume, there is little of his writing available online. His background is very similar to that of previous CEO and Chairman of the Board Yaron Brook. One could hope that Tsfany will take ARI in a different direction from that established by the globalist and materialist Brook. However, there is good reason to believe that Tsfany is nothing but a Brook clone who will continue ARI's downward spiral. 

Sophie and Tal: Better Americans than the Real Thing

The evidence that Tsfany is just another shallow globalist is a children's book he just published titled Sophie. The Obleftivist running The Objective Standard (TOS) is orgasmic in his praise for this work. That alone should send up red flags for discerning readers. Parenthetically, in the aftermath of l'affaire McCaskey, TOS and ARI's principals were not on speaking terms. Now it's a lovefest between the two organizations. How, why and when this came about is a complete mystery. Apparently, both the principals and principles on this issue have changed. But, it's not for "students of Obleftivism" to reason why. It's for them to follow the ever changing alliances and feuds of the Obleftivist Establishment (OE). And, to keep writing checks. Especially, to keep writing checks. 

Anyways, Sophie is destined to become a classic, but not in the way the author intends. The style is not bad. The first half of the book moves along well. The second half drags and contains too much description. The characters, plot and theme are all introduce in the book's first chapters. There isn't any reason to keep illustrating the same points for nearly one-hundred pages. 

The book's theme is about as subtle as a train wreck. The narrative is told through the perspective of thirteen-year-old Leo. During the summer he meets a new, mysterious girl in town. They hit it off and become friends. The central thematic point is that Sophia is an illegal alien "refugee" from Syria. She and her mother live in poverty. Except for the odd jobs Sophia works, they have no visible means of support. Sophia is a combination of John Galt, David Copperfield and Nicholas Nickleby. The melodrama is so thick that I was surprised that Sophie didn't have a little brother named Tiny Jawaid. How shamelessly Dickensian is this work? Well, there's this,
Sophie, on the other hand, didn't buy anything for herself--she just saved as much as she could for the immigration lawyer. She was buying groceries every other day after school and also passed through the pharmacy to buy medicine. Her mother's coughing got worse and worse, and Sophie spent most of what she earned on her mother's bills. Whenever we came back from work to put our tools in the little tin shed, I could hear Mrs. Anwar's hacking cough getting louder and more frequent. (p. 79)
Yes, immigration lawyer. The main plot driver is Sophie's need for $5,000 to pay a lawyer to take their case and get them a visa. Apparently, the story takes place sometime in the early 1990s. In this dark, intolerant period of American history the entire legal industry of pro bono immigration attorneys supported by various foundations didn't exist. 

The characters are shallow and two-dimensional. As with Charles Dickens, Tsfany's characters are mouth pieces for a particular viewpoint or social stereotype. Fully formed and believable human beings, they are not. Sophie should have a "Supergrrl" logo on her shirt. She is, of course, better than the Americans the author, no doubt, hopes will soon be replaced by their immigrant betters. For example, "You scored the highest in the entire state, Sophie. You should be proud of yourself" (p. 126). Needless to say, Sophie knows more about the meaning of America than anyone in town. She was taught the essence of America by her grandfather in Syria, who was a university professor. Leo is a great representative of future American manhood in his role as foil and beta orbiter to Sophie. 

The book's villain is equally a cartoon character. Ingrid Sanders is a composite of Jerry Falwell and Hillary Clinton. Sanders is running for mayor and takes a rather bizarre interest in some poor immigrant girl. She attempts to use Sophie for her political campaign. When Sanders' plan blows up due to Sophie not playing along, she rats out the Anwars to the INS. Sanders is a professional power luster who uses altruism to mask her true intentions. And, but of course, she's active in her church. Nevermind that many Christian churches are tirelessly working to bring in all the Sophies they can find. Again, with the subtlety of a Moslem suicide bomber, all Christians in the story are odious people.  

There's no telling for how long Tsfany's elevation to CEO of ARI has been in the works. Sophie was published on 9 January 2018. I doubt that these two events are completely unrelated. Sophie seems little more than a calculated "F you" to real American Objectivists who don't want their nation's culture and borders erased - and, who don't hold their fellow Americans in contempt. 

It's fair to say that Sophie will never be confused with Ayn Rand's favorite novel Calumet "K" by Samuel Merwin. As she explains, 
Calumet "K" is a good example of the fact that when fiction, even light fiction, contains some element of truth about human existence, it carries philosophical implications wider than its specific theme. This novel is a remarkable historical-social-psychological document. Today, its sub-title ought to be: This was America. (The Objectivist, October 1967)
Or, this was the America murdered by cultural Marxists. It's truly sad that the organization that bears her name is making common cause with the nation's destroyers. Sophie is the sort of junk trumpeted by the Obleftivist Establishment. Meanwhile, these people completely ignore Edward Cline's magnificent Sparrowhawk series on America's founding. This is just one example of their bad judgment and pettiness. 

Tal Tsfany's tenure as ARI's CEO guarantees its continued irrelevance.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Review: Walter R. Borneman, Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America, 2008

James K. Polk was one of America's best, most successful presidents. Walter Borneman has published an excellent, well-written and honest biography of this pivotal leader. Polk is given high marks by many historians for defining his agenda prior to his election for president, then carrying out that agenda as promised. He did so in one-term. As the election of 1848 loomed, there was much speculation on whether Polk would keep his promise of not running for reelection. He did. 

James K. Polk Eleventh President of the United States
His four years in the White House was severely detrimental to his health. He died, possibly of cholera, only a few months after leaving office on 15 June 1849. But, he knew his administration would have a long lasting positive impact on the country he loved. Polk's longtime supporter A.O.P. Nicholson wrote the epitaph for the deceased president: 
By his public policy he defined, established, and extended the boundaries of his country. He planted the laws of the American union on the shores of the Pacific. His influence and his counsels tended to organize the national treasury on the principles of the Constitution, and to apply the rule of freedom to navigation, trade, and industry. (p. 344)
Nicholson neatly summarizes the four policy initiatives that Polk carried out during his administration. These four polices were: annexation of a substantial portion of the Oregon Territory, acquisition of California, treasury reform, a tariff for mostly revenue purposes. 

Polk was a Jacksonian Democrat. His four policy goals were largely those of Andrew Jackson. Borneman does an admirable job narrating how Polk was able to advance the Jacksonian agenda to a greater extent than the Great Man himself. While explaining how Polk carried out his domestic agenda, the author focuses on the Mexican-American War and territorial expansion. He deftly recounts how Polk was able to acquire Oregon by extending the 49th parallel line to the Pacific. The British were demanding that the Columbia River should be the border between the USA and Canada. Polk knew how far to push John Bull and forced them to a reasonable compromise while avoiding war. 

At the Halls of Montezuma

When Polk entered the White House, Texas had already been annexed to the United States and would become a state in December 1845. Polk ordered troops to the Rio Grande on the Gulf Coast under General Zachary Taylor. Borneman does well by fairly describing Polk's contentious relations with his Whiggish generals. As he notes, the long delays in communications between Washington D.C. Texas and California added much confusion to an already tricky political situation. 

Borneman bases his work on Polk's presidential diary and other primary documents. His book can be appreciated for its lack of psychologizing of his subject. He sticks to the record while building a fascinating history of President Polk's political career and era. The author uses telling examples to illustrate Polk's intelligence and good judgment. A rare lapse of the latter is Polk's misguided loyalty to the incompetent political opportunist Gideon Pillow. A positive example of Polk's wisdom is his concern over Congress creating the Interior Department during his administration: 
Although Polk was preoccupied with the California debate, among other last minute bills presented to him was one to create the Department of the Interior. Polk was skeptical. He found the bill long and complicated and had little time to examine it in detail. He feared "its consolidating tendency" and thought that it would centralize power over public lands in the federal government to the detriment of the states, where he thought it belonged. (p. 334)
Of course, he should have followed his better judgment and vetoed the bill. Needless to say, the Interior Department is now a Deep State land grapping empire with contempt for the American people and their fundamental rights. It should be eliminated.

To his great credit, the author does not evade the elephant in the room in his book's conclusion. He forthrightly comments that Polk's work - and that of the American people who built the American southwest into a civilized country - is being rapidly, and intentionally, deconstructed. 
The irony, of course, is that in the early years of the twenty-first century, a tidal war of Hispanic immigration continues to sweep northward from Mexico, not only into the provinces that James K. Polk  wrested from Mexico one hundred sixty years ago, but throughout the United States. It is a tidal wave of population and culture as inexorable as that which rolled into Texas in the 1830s. Whatever else history is, it is not static. (p. 337)
And whatever Mexifornia becomes, it will be far worse that the Golden State it is replacing. It is understandable that the Mexican people and their government seek to undo the decision of 1846. However, it's treason for the American Deep State - among other putative "Americans" - to have the same agenda. History is indeed not static.