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:: Friday, October 28, 2011 ::

Occupy Wall Street’s Declaration of Dependence 

:: Posted by Edward Cline at 6:31 PM

If the unwashed and odiferous masses of Occupy Wall Street – that less than one percent of the American population, most of whom are at work and do not have the free time to camp out in public or private parks – originally gathered to protest a grab-bag of disparate, alleged and imagined offenses, they are now getting direction from the undead of the Left. Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is being given guidance by those who know what they want. Power.

The election of Barack Obama in 2008, together with a single term in the White House, with good luck and good premises, may be looked back upon as the Last Hurrah of the Left in this country. Obama literally campaigned on his own “occupy” mantra: OWH. Which he did, and trashed it, too. The Left has been the ideological vessel of socialism and tyranny. It fooled no one, not even its exponents. It had been found out, exposed, and repudiated, more by the failure of People’s Republics worldwide, including the Soviet Union, which ran out of economic steam, and Red China, which retained the trappings of Communism but turned fascist, than by any argument offered by the Right.

Reality repudiated Communism and every other form of collectivism. And always will.

The allegedly unemployed of OWS have it all wrong: the economy is not fascist, Wall Street is not by nature fascist, and a chief problem with today’s economy is that the government is in it. OWS wants it to take over the economy. Which would mean the end of the economy.

If they want a taste of genuine fascism, they ought to apply for a job in China. There they would get a taste of “crony capitalism” but wouldn’t be allowed to “occupy” Tiananmen Square to protest it. Not after what happened there the last time, when genuine freedom-fighters were brutally dispersed, maimed or killed by tanks, and rounded up and imprisoned for life. The heroes of Tiananmen Square erected a Statue of Liberty as their symbol of defiance. The OWS adopts a percentile in a vague silhouette of George Washington as a claim on the wealthy and on anyone else who earns more than $20,000 a year.

Obama gave the Left’s dead battery a jump-start. Until the current administration, the Left as a motivational force was dying a deserved death. Now the redistributive clunker is merely sputtering, coughing, dying and reviving, trying to stay alive. Its ideological carburetor is unequal to the task of reconciling the air of its ideology with the gasoline of reality, and must be struck repeatedly with a two-by-four to get it working again. Its spark plugs fire haphazardly, and half of them are dead. Its tires are bald. Its transmission needs rebuilding.

The Tea Party movement called the administration’s and Congress’s policies for what they were and continue to be: political and economic clunkers, unsafe at any speed and liable to die anytime, anywhere. If it moves at all, it is only because there are a pair of donkeys in harness, disguised as politicians. Obama and Congress still insist that the clunker is salvageable and that Americans pour more and more money into it to keep it running.

Cash for Clunkers? Remember that Obama-inspired scam? The catch now is that you give Congress and all the federal bureaucracies the cash, not the other way around. There’s not even a figment of a trade involved. Just expropriation, regulation, and tyranny.

This is a clunker that should be sitting on cinder blocks in Arkansas, right next to the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, with a bronze plaque affixed to its rusted bumper: HERE LIES WELFARE STATISM. GOOD RIDDANCE.

OWS wishes Congress or the government to give everyone cash as an entitlement, or at least a guaranteed job. Where is the money to come from? The Bureau of Printing and Engraving. To pay for what? Whatever the members of OWS wish to have – provided they can find it to buy, for if they get their way, there won’t be much left on store shelves to buy. All those evil corporations will have perished or been nationalized.

OWS can be taken as not so much a Last Hurrah as an inarticulate, spittle-spewing, obscene gesture to everything its denizens hold malice for. The “99% Declaration” is an â la carte prescription for socialist rule. “Democratically” adopted and enforced, it would be the end of “democracy,” or rule by “the people.” It would pave the way for a French Revolution-style directorate of dictators in which “the people” have no say.

This in turn would pave the way for a man on a white horse. Or a palomino pony. Or on another unicorn.

Section IV of the “99% Declaration” contains twenty clauses that call for a complete takeover of the economy. The first three abolish the First Amendment vis-à-vis election campaigns.

1. Elimination of the Corporate State. Implementing an immediate ban on all private contributions of money and gifts, to all politicians in federal office, from individuals, corporations, "political action committees," "super political action committees," lobbyists, unions and all other private sources of money or thing of value to be replaced by the fair, equal and total public financing of all federal political campaigns. We categorically REJECT the concepts that corporations are persons or that money is equal to free speech because if that were so, then only the wealthiest people and corporations would have a voice.

And what happened in November, 2008? Was or was not Barack Obama, who sympathizes with OWS, elected by these same people? Did or did he not have the help of the Mainstream Media? Did or did not major corporations and wealthy individuals contribute millions to his campaign chest? Are they still not donating? And, since when was money ever equal to free speech? Is this is just a sloppy metaphor? If all federal political campaigns were to be totally and exclusively “publicly financed,” by what measure would a federal election committee determine who was qualified to run for office, and who was not, whose petition of signatures was acceptable, and whose was not? And if only corporations and the wealthiest have had a voice in politics, why is the country sliding perilously close to complete socialism, in which they would be nationalized, eliminated, imprisoned, or shot out of hand?

There is no such thing as a “corporate state.” All that exists now is an omnivorous federal government determined to absorb everything.

2. Rejection of the Citizens United Case. The immediate abrogation, even if it requires a Constitutional Amendment, of the outrageous and anti-democratic holding in the “Citizens United” case proclaimed by the United States Supreme Court. This heinous decision equates the payment of money by corporations, wealthy individuals and unions to politicians with the exercise of protected free speech. We, the People, demand that this institutional bribery and corruption never again be deemed protected free speech.

It does no such thing as “equating.” The Citizens United case is a special bugbear of OWS, but we should never expect the lights of OWS to examine anything closely enough to get at the truth. Hans A. von Spakovsky, in his article, “The Occupy Wall Streeters – Destroying the First Amendment,” clarifies this issue:

The claim that the Citizens United decision allows payment of “money by corporations” and unions to politicians is a myth that liberals and campaign reformers continue to spew. Corporations and unions are prohibited from making campaign contributions to politicians by federal law, and that law has not been overturned by the Supreme Court (although some would argue that it should be overturned by Congress).

Citizens United held that the First Amendment prohibits Congress from censoring the political speech of any entity, and that includes independent expenditures that fund political speech. That decision is in the greatest traditions of liberty and free speech, the most fundamental principles upon which this country was founded.

Furthermore, apparently OWS cannot imagine the prospect of any politician or any advocacy group spending millions to broadcast or publicize its issues, and an individual not being convinced or persuaded on any specific issue. In fact, Obama spent millions on his election campaign, but I was not convinced, persuaded, or even duped by his rhetoric. Quite the opposite.

3. Elimination of Private Contributions to Politicians. Prohibiting all federal public employees, officers, officials or their immediate family members from ever being employed by any corporation, individual or business that they specifically regulated while in office; nor may any public employee, officer, official or their immediate family members own or hold any stock or shares in any corporation they regulated while in office until a full 5 years after their term is completed; a complete lifetime ban on the acceptance of all gifts, services, money or thing of value, directly or indirectly, by any elected or appointed federal official or their immediate family members, from any person, corporation, union or other entity that the public official was charged to specifically regulate while in office. In sum, elected politicians and public employees in regulatory roles may only collect their salary, generous healthcare benefits and pension. Any person, including corporate employees, found guilty and convicted of violating these rules in a court of law by proof beyond a reasonable doubt, shall be sentenced to a term of mandatory imprisonment of no less than one year and not more than ten years.


I have a much, much simpler proposal: get the government out of the economy. This means forbidding the government to fund anything but national defense and the courts and the bare minimum expenses of operating Congress. Abolish all subsidies to private enterprises and companies. Abolish most of the Cabinet, especially the Departments of Education, Energy, Agriculture, Commerce, Interior, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Transportation. None of these offices and attendant bureaucracies has any legitimate purpose in a limited government. Keep the Copyright and Patent offices; they perform legitimate, rights-protecting functions. Abolish all civil service unions. Abolish 99% of the various rights-violating, regulatory bureaucracies.

Abolish House and Senate salaries and all special, protected perks and privileges, and pay Senators and Congressmen on a per diem basis, for the expenses incurred in getting to Washington to represent their constituencies as briefly as possible; grant them closely audited meal allowances and board at a Super 8 Motel. I’m betting that an argument could even be made against that fillip. The goal of all this abolishing would be to discourage any political ambition but the desire to protect and uphold life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness.

The balance of the “99% Declaration” is so predictable as to be dull reading. It cadges other, non-OWS proposals for term limits. It calls for a “fair tax code,” as though any tax code is “fair.” But from a collectivist’s perspective, OWS’s “fair tax” seeks to soak the rich and expropriate the wealth of those who are also not in the “1%.” It demands health care for all or the adoption of the single-payer system, completely omitting mention of the status of those who are to provide such health care: doctors, surgeons, nurses, and other medical personnel who presumably would be drafted into government service and paid pittance. We all know how that idea was received by doctors. Very few were willing to labor in a “ready reserve.”

The Declaration comports with environmentalist ideology by making Mother Earth a party to the proposed national general assembly of OWS. The clause citing a demand for debt reduction, given the amounts of money it would take to bring OWS’s fantasy world into existence, is an exercise in reductio ad absurdum. Point Nine demands jobs for all Americans. As whose employees? Doing what?

9. Jobs for All Americans. Passage of a comprehensive job and job-training act like the American Jobs Act to employ our citizens in jobs that are available with specialized training and by putting People to work now by repairing America's crumbling infrastructure. We also recommend the establishment of an online international job exchange to match employers with skilled workers or employers willing to train workers in 21st century skills. In conjunction with a new jobs act, reinstitution of the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps or a similar emergency governmental agency tasked with creating new public works projects to provide jobs to the 46 million People living in poverty, the 9.1% unemployed and 10% underemployed.

In short, make everyone a public employee, dependent on what public service jobs are available in a statist, command economy and on what some bureaucrat or “czar” determines is a livable wage. Private jobs, providing such an economy doesn’t first collapse, will be few and hard to find. And regulated.

The Declaration demands universal, across-the-board student loan forgiveness, to be paid for by socking it to Wall Street with a “reparations” surcharge. After all, didn’t you know, Wall Street caused the economic collapse of 2007-2008. Well, no, it didn’t. It was government meddling in the economy with subprime mortgages and the like.

Displaying their ignorance, the authors of this point forget, if they ever knew, that student loans have been rising for decades with the cost of higher education. And who is funding that rising cost? The federal government, by inflating the currency and causing schools to compete for those extra tuition dollars. With what consequence? Graduates in a variety of specialties and studies that have little or no value in the private sector. Graduates who are barely literate and have no thinking or critical skills, which were beginning to be erased from their minds in grade and high school.

The Declaration demands the immediate passage of the Dream Act. That is, its authors wish the ballot boxes to be stuffed by illegal immigrants who vote early and often.

There are six other “demands” in the Declaration, all worth a critique, but one of the last ones exhibits a special species of ignorance. It demands that the Federal Reserve Bank be ended. Yes, end the Fed. Get the government out of the economy. But, excuse me, your personships, the Fed is not “privately owned.” It is a creature of government, and it regulates banks. This ending of the Fed, says the Declaration, should be in conjunction with a moratorium on foreclosures. And mixed in with the demand to abolish the Electoral College – the last safeguard against populist tyranny and the democracy the Founders so feared – it advocates the creation of national identity cards under the ruse of voter registration.

It is nearly laughable that the unwashed masses of OWS are now complaining about crime in Zuccotti Park, and about freeloaders and the certified “homeless” who have found a hassle-free nest, free food, and refuge among its malodorous ranks. After all, OWS advocates freeloading as a right. It is the perfect model for anarchy, complete with ineffective “security” and the Woodstock spirit of free sex, unlimited drugs, noise that passes for music, uncollected garbage, hepatitis, syphilis, bugs, and rats. One wonders how many of these people in the future are going to be crowding into “free clinics” demanding to be cured of whatever maladies they picked up in Zuccotti Park.

All in all, the “99% Declaration” is nothing less than an appeal for dependence on government and an explicit surrender to anyone who lusts for power.

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:: Saturday, October 22, 2011 ::

Occupy Wall Street: An Axis of Enemies 

:: Posted by Edward Cline at 7:22 PM

A number of stark contrasts should be noted between the freedom of speech and assembly as practiced by Occupy Wall Street and Pamela Geller.

On the one hand, Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has literally taken over a piece of public property near Wall Street in New York City by force of its protesters and with the tacit sanction of the city and its mayor, Michael Bloomberg. OWS has made itself not only a public nuisance, but an unsanitary and dangerous one.

OWS has attracted every collectivist, socialist, communist, environmental, and even anti-Semitic loon to its cause. It is a grab-bag of “movements,” ranging from the call for the “reform” of Wall Street (meaning its abolition) to the persecution of Jews. If you are “anti-establishment” and have a gripe against “the system” – whether you are a WalMart employee, an unemployed, a welfare recipient, a trust fund tyke, unsure of or unhappy with your gender, a pal of the Palestinians, an indebted career student, a Facebook socialist, a son or daughter of Woodstock, a public employee, an SEIU or UAW thug, an “artist,” “writer,” or “musician,” a fan of Farrakhan, a New or Old Black Panther, a Jew against Israel, a Muslim against Jews, an anarchist, a neo-Nazi, a Marxist, a Trotskyite, or something in between – OWS is the place to go and be.

The Sugar Land Tea Party reserved a conference room at the Hyatt Place Houston/Sugar Land Hotel to hear Pamela Geller, prominent anti-jihadist and anti-Sharia advocate, speak last week on the subject of the dangers of stealth Sharia and stealth jihad in the United States. The Hyatt abruptly, with little or no notice, cancelled the event, originally citing “security reasons.” The Sugar Land Tea Party rushed to find another venue for the event, a community center. What security reasons did the hotel name? “Complaints” by Muslims that Geller’s explanation of Sharia law constituted “hate speech.”

The Mainstream Media (MSM) has drooled over, cooed about, and coddled OWS, providing it with free publicity it could never afford to pay for itself and implicitly approving of its multitudinous aims. It is tantamount to inveighing against prostitution, but demonizing the “johns” and painting the prostitutes as “victims of the system.” The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (aka Communist Public Brainwashing, “funded by viewers and taxpayers like you”) through its outlets of NPR and PBS is standing in the corner, treating OWS “neutrally” as though it were a volcanic eruption or an outbreak of salmonella, but not questioning the legitimacy of the protest.

All one hears from OWS, however, is “hate speech” directed against the rich, against corporations, against Jews, against capitalism, against freedom. This is “hate speech” approved by the MSM, while anyone who criticizes Islam, Sharia law, or anything remotely Arabic is branded an “Islamaphobe” or a “racist.”

Some protesters, apparently, are more equal than others. This is how things are done and said on America’s own Animal Farm, a leftist fantasy park that exists only in the minds of the MSM.

Had Geller a right to object to the Hyatt cancelling the venue of her talk? Did the Hyatt’s action constitute suppression of speech? Did it violate her right to speak?
Nominally, the Hyatt exercised its right to cancel the venue, because the hotel is private property. If someone or some organization uses another’s private property as a “soapbox” to promulgate specific views, it is with the tacit or express permission of the property owner. But Geller was not going to address her audience about the wisdom of buying gold stocks, life insurance, or new computer technology. Nothing as mundane as that. She was going to speak on the perils, inequities, and insidiousness of Sharia. This is an ideological subject, not a “practical” one. The Hyatt may have been indifferent to the subject. It is reflective of the “What? Me Worry?” attitude most American business executives exhibit when confronted with important moral and ideological issues.

That indifference ended when the local chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations mounted a telephone protest against the event, causing Hyatt to think twice and withdraw the venue. Hyatt executives then became “worried.” In concrete terms, the Hyatt did not violate Geller’s First Amendment rights. But seen in a broader context, Hyatt’s action contributed not only to the suppression of her freedom of speech by CAIR and its fellow Hamas- and Muslim Brotherhood-spawned organizations – dhimmis make such useful, facilitating proxies – but of its own, and in doing so advanced the agenda of Islamists to gut the First Amendment guarantee in order to protect itself from legitimate criticism and exposure.

Such is the stuff American businessmen are made of today. Can you imagine what would not have happened had the colonials who gathered on Lexington Green, upon only hearing the distant tramp and cadence drums of approaching British regulars, said among themselves: “Uh, do we really want to do this? I mean, they can bomb our homes, harass our customers, make life miserable for us if we stand here. They got us out-gunned anyway. What’s the point? We got crops to tend to. I’m out of here.”

OWS, on the other hand, not only does not face the kind of obstacle and censure that Geller, Robert Spencer, and other writers about Islamic jihad and Sharia, but has been given a free hand by the MSM and various municipal governments, and without recrimination, retribution, or rebuttal, to slander, libel, trash, and spit on all the hands that feed its yelping, chanting, non-producing, parasitical minions, and make their sorry lives possible – corporations, investors, innovators, taxpayers, and even government.

Is the hand of President Barack Obama to be seen in OWS and the Hyatt back-down? One cannot but help suspect that the answer is Yes. Here are some interesting threads:
Obama “sympathizes” with OWS. He is on “their side.” This is his kind of “community action.” It follows the prescribed methodology and tactics of Saul Alinsky Rule No. 13 to bring about “change” or “reform”: Identify, isolate, freeze and escalate.

"I think it expresses the frustrations that the American people feel," he said Thursday. "People are frustrated and the protesters are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works."

This is Alinsky-lingo dressed in the pinafore of political verisimilitude.

The most important thing we can do right now is those of us in leadership letting people know that we understand their struggles and we are on their side, and that we want to set up a system in which hard work, responsibility, doing what you’re supposed to do, is rewarded,” Obama tells ABC News.. “And that people who are irresponsible, who are reckless, who don’t feel a sense of obligation to their communities and their companies and their workers that those folks aren’t rewarded.”
)
Obama tried to equate the anti-big-government sentiments and civil behavior of the Tea Party rallies and town halls with Occupy Wall Street. It is his version of the Bronx Cheer:

The president also compares the protesters to the Tea Party. “In some ways, they’re not that different from some of the protests that we saw coming from the Tea Party," Obama says. "Both on the left and the right, I think people feel separated from their government. They feel that their institutions aren’t looking out for them.”

Frankly, the government isn’t separated enough from Americans. There is hardly a realm of action in which the government does not set the terms or make life more expensive and complicated. Americans who value their freedom do not want their government looking out for them, except to protect their individual rights. They want to be left alone, not nurtured, regulated, and throttled from cradle to grave.
It is the rabble of OWS who wish to be wards of the government. Read their signs. Listen to their chants. Observe their behavior.

So, even if the Democratic National Committee actually has had no hand in the fomenting and growth of OWS, a sanction from the highest office in the land is culpability enough.

It should not be surprising that Islamist supremacists wish to share the stage with socialist supremacists. In too many photos of OWS in New York and of “occupations” in cities around the country can be seen men wearing Yasser Arafat-inspired keffiyah around their necks. These photos predated news of an Islamic sanction of OWS. Their presence among the rabble also comports with OWS signs that call for the end of the “occupation” of Gaza. Do we detect a smidgen of double-standards here, concerning “occupations”? Yes, but don’t tax an OWS protester with it. These people wouldn’t know a double standard if it bit them in their butts.

It is only a matter of time that we will see photos of neo-Nazis marching, chanting, singing, sign-waving, harassing, defecating, urinating, shoulder-to-shoulder with Islamist supremacists, flaunting their neo-Nazi swastika banners. Think that’s impossible? Think again. Rocky Suhayda, head of the American Nazi Party, assured his members it was okay to join OWS, even though there are “non-whites” taking part in OWS:

In a message posted Thursday on its official website, organization head Rocky Suhayda said members of the “pro-white” movement should join and support the Occupy demonstrators because they share a common enemy: The “Judeo-capitalist banksters.”

Suhayda said though many “racialists” are concerned about the demonstrations because the “many protesters are non-white and/or ‘communists,’” that shouldn’t matter because they are all against the same “evil, corrupted, degenerate capitalist elitists.”

“… Even Adolf Hitler’s NSDAP had to vote with open communists on some issues to achieve their goals. WE need to utilize and support every movement of dissent against this evil American empire, regardless of which end of the political spectrum it originates from.”

Most people do not know that Hitler also stooped to dealing with those “racially degenerate” Arabs (who were as bad as or worse than those Jewish-led communists!) when it came to eradicating Jews. He had a close relationship with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and planned with him a Mideast version of the Holocaust.

Now, the Hyatt Hotel chain is owned or controlled by Penny Pritzker. Geller mentions her in her article about Hyatt’s dhimmitude. Pritzker is another billionaire on the Obama bus. She was his national campaign finance manager in 2008. She oversaw the Superior Bank subprime mortgage scandal. She was recruited to donate money to Obama’s campaigns. She is still active for Obama, serving on a committee to raise (more) money for his 2012 reelection campaign.

President Obama's close relationship with Warren Buffett goes back to his Illinois Senate run; now the billionaire investor is helping Obama not only on the tax fairness front, but in fund-raising for his 2012 re-election bid. Buffett hits Chicago Oct. 27 for a $35,800-per person dinner and reception.

The host committee includes Obama's major Chicago based finance team: Jim Crown, Vicki & Bruce Heyman, Mellody Hobson Steve Koch, Penny Pritzker, John Rogers Jr., David Scherer.

Who are all those people? Rich people. But the kind of “1%” rich people OWS studiously neglects to excoriate or curse. But, don’t bother pointing out the contradiction to the protesters. Contradictions are beyond their grasp, excised from their minds by “reformist” educators in public schools and in the universities.

My betting is that Pritzker ordered the Houston Hyatt executives to scratch Geller’s event. Word got to her, she was appalled (“I won’t allow hate speech to be spewed on my properties!”), or was warned, or was advised, and out went the order.

Occupy Wall Street is an in-plain-sight, transparent vortex of every collectivist and totalitarian cause and movement that ever befouled American soil and that ever assaulted American liberties. “Soaking the rich,” ending property rights, collectivizing or nationalizing all property, can only lead to across-the-board censorship, the end of freedom of speech, and the scuttling of the First Amendment. There would be no private property left on which to advocate or oppose anything. Pamela Geller insists on exercising her freedom of speech. Occupy Wall Street and all its enablers, supporters, allies, and financiers insist on ending it.

That is “Polarization” with a capital P. Anyone with an ounce of self-respect and who values his life, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness, should be for it. After all, there is no “coming together,” no reconciliation, no “common ground” possible with OWS or Sharia law. They are both the mortal enemies of America.

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:: Tuesday, October 18, 2011 ::

The Naked Apes of Wall Street 

:: Posted by Edward Cline at 10:06 PM

While immersed in the 1920’s to complete my latest detective novel, chickens came home to roost on Wall Street. Also, wannabe hippies, yippies, union thugs, and the countless clueless who went to “occupy” Wall Street because they had nothing better to do. I watched and read with dismay the trashing of that short but great street as hundreds, then thousands blocked it, trashed it, yelled at it, probably urinated on it, and then camped out on Zuccotti Park. Or rather, took it over.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the “Duke of New York,” has not ordered the police to clear out the park. He has not called in companies of riot police armed with shields, batons, and Mace. He has not brought in fire engines to hose the barbarians, not so much to give them much needed baths, as to drive them off into custody. But then Bloomberg endorses the Ground Zero Mosque. Perhaps he likes the new “Camp of the Saints.”

The mainstream media has done its best to sanction and egg on the “protestors.” The only objective reporting on the continuing outrage can be found in the non-MSM. From Brian Williams to Diane Sawyer to Matt Lauer, the yelping and gesticulating and sign-carrying on Lower Manhattan amuses them, encourages them. It is provocative and newsworthy. The Occupiers of Wall Street get a free pass, references to the American Revolution, and sonorous sympathy, something the MSM never gave the Tea Party.

To reprise the MSM’S role in perpetuating the alleged “spontaneity” of the occupiers’ “freedom of expression” would be redundant here. Much has been made by the non-MSM of the hypocrisy of the occupiers. Daniel Greenfield of Sultan Knish is especially on top of the irony of thousands of trust fund beneficiaries protesting the system that makes trust funds possible, and has written a number of perceptive pieces on the character of the protesters and of the phenomenon. Kelly O’Donnell of Canada Free Press exposes the bogus “spontaneity” of the masses of Zuccotti Park by tracing its funding and organization to that Marxist billionaire, George Soros, its endorsement by William Ayers, the former Weatherman bomber, and other notorious notables. All this ground and more have been covered by those not distracted by the task of finishing a novel.

What I would like to do here to present The Naked Ape. I saw a picture somewhere of the protesters on which someone had written all the product names of the things worn and used by the protesters: the cap from Gap, the cameras by Sony, shoes by Nike, the iPods by Apple, and so on. In short, the protesters were protesting the corporations that produced those objects and which helped to facilitate their protest.

Now, governments produce nothing but forms and other kinds of paperwork, and even here government printing offices rely on technology and methods they never originated and could not improve on. The Congressional Record, the Federal Register, White House invitations, and your dollar bills all have their roots in some individual’s or private corporation’s innovation. All the desks, equipment, technology, family pictures, pens, pencils, glass in the windows, rugs, paint on the walls, insulation, flags, memo pads, etc. in any given politician’s office are all privately produced. Not even the military develops its own weapons; that task is farmed out to independent contractors in the private realm. There’s no such thing as a government tank factory or munitions farm.

I will take that photograph one step further.

Picture a protester, fully dressed, armed with his cell phone, iPod, perhaps with a poncho rolled up in his backpack along with toiletries and other necessities.

Take away his cap – his shirt and tee-shirt – his watch – his jacket – his backpack and all is contents – his sweater or sweatshirt – his cell phone – his camera – any other gizmo he has become dependent on to communicate with his pals or to see what else is happening on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and other social sites – his wallet – his pants – his underwear – his socks – his shoes – his shaving instruments – his deodorant (if any) – his hair cut (if he has had one) – his pill box, nasal spray, inhaler, chap stick, or whatever else enables him to breathe without difficulty – his childhood inoculations – his cigarettes – his lighter – his plastic packet of whatever else he may smoke – his glasses or contacts – his tent – his sleeping bag.

Take away his cardboard sign and the length or wood or plastic it may be affixed to, if it is affixed to anything. Take away the marker or pen or spray that printed the words on it.

No Starbucks. No Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. No Zuccotti Park-cooked pasta and stir-fried veggies. Maybe cockroaches. Or silverfish. Or dead rats. But nothing prepared in defiance of Mother Earth. No Poland Spring water. No plastic water bottles at all.

And what have you? You have a naked ape. A protester against corporate greed, an advocate of expropriating wealth and the means of production.

Picture a woman and do the same to her. No hairspray, either. No make-up kits. No dyes. No lipstick. No tampons. No nail polish. No clothes. No gizmos. No signs. Nothing.

And there is the female of the species.

Don’t avert your eyes. Multiple those two images by the thousands, in Technicolor. Pack them all together on Wall Street or Broad Street or Broadway, and what have you?

A frightening, noisy, intimidating mob stripped of everything they are protesting against. A George Romero-like Dawn of the Dead. A phenomenon more repellent than a canvas by Pieter Brueghel the Elder of peasants cavorting in the mud. Coming at you, the middle class, the bourgeoisie, the producer of wealth. The owner of wealth. The property owner. The honest wage-earner. The hot dog vendor. The cabbie. The investor. The industrialist. The inventor. The risk-taker. The gainfully employed in any private capacity. The self-employed. The bill-payer. The tax-payer. The savings account owner. The rich. The modestly well-off. Aspirants to being rich or modestly well-off.

Coming to get you, because the naked apes are none of those things.

They are coming at you and for you. If you don’t join them, and apologize, and hand over your property, your wealth, and your life, and join, not their “99%,” but their actual 0.83%, they intend to kill you. So said one protester during the Oakland “occupation.”

Lout: S—t…won’t be exactly how you want it. S—t’s gonna change. You don’t know what’s gonna happen….

Tea Party interviewer: What do you do with the people who don’t want to change their beliefs, or don’t agree with you?

Lout: Kill ‘em. (“Just kiddin’,” he added with a chuckle, but it was too late. His answer came instantly, eagerly, and from the gut.)

Lenin wasn’t kidding. Nor was Hitler. Nor Stalin, nor Mao or Pol Pot. It’s anyone’s guess that Obama isn’t kidding, either. Or William Ayers. Or George Soros.

So, it isn’t a matter of hypocrisy. It’s not an issue of venality. That is not what the protesters are primarily guilty of. It is of allowing themselves to be brainwashed so thoroughly by their educators that they can no longer think. Their brains have been automatized or programmed to repeat whatever their teachers wished them to think. If they are protesting anything, it should be their government-mandated, state-commanded, and bureaucrat-tailored education.

They should be protesting the government’s involvement in their lives and in their futures. By extension, they should be protesting in favor of private property, wealth accumulation, individual rights, and for getting the government out of the economy.

Instead, they are demanding more of what has stunted their minds. And they believe – not think – but believe that impoverishing everyone will compensate for their imagined persecution and purported downtroddeness and make things right and level so that no one will envy anyone else. Their obvious and enervating malice was bred in our schools as surely as Pavlov’s dog was conditioned to drool.

Do not bother asking them to know cause and effect. Syllogisms are beyond their ability to grasp. To them, there is no cause and effect. Things just are. The universe is causeless. Human action is causeless. The unskilled laborer, with nothing to offer the world but his muscles and capacity for mindless routine, is the source of all wealth, which the rich and the industrious and the innovators have somehow stolen from him. Steve Jobs’s personal net worth was $7 billion. He should have been made to exist on a ditch-digger’s wage, and to give them their iPods and other gizmos, too. So they have been taught. All differences in wealth and standards of living are inequitable and unjust, they were taught. The solution is to abolish all equity and the concept of justice.

So, imagine that army of naked, gibbering, wild-eyed apes heading in your direction. John Dewey and a host of other Progressive educators set them loose. And they were made possible by Immanuel Kant, Heidegger, and other philosophers. Karl Marx? He was a Johnny-Come-Lately heir of Kant and Hegel.

Ideas have consequences. And there they are, in Lower Manhattan, occupying it.

:: Permalink | 6 Comments ::

 

:: Thursday, October 13, 2011 ::

Not So Wonderful a Life 

:: Posted by Edward Cline at 6:03 PM

At the risk of the accusation of my being a curmudgeon, a Grinch, overly analytical, and a person who was likely raised on a diet of sour grapes and Castor Oil, what follows is a critique of that hoary old American cinematic Christmas holiday chestnut, Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946). I have never liked the movie, but have watched it many times, obsessed with the problem of why I did not like It’s a Wonderful Life (IAWL).

In fact, originally, after my first exposure to it, which I think was at the age of twelve, I took as personal exception to it as I did later to Arthur Penn’s Bonnie & Clyde (1967) or Robert Zemeckis’s Forrest Gump (1994). It is an essay I have wanted to write for years. Other literary tasks postponed it. That I tackle it now is in the way of a birthday present to myself. Also, most stores have already hung up their Christmas decorations and begun stocking Christmas merchandise, although we are still a month away from Thanksgiving. I am writing this far ahead of time, so I can enjoy the Christmas season.

To begin, I left a comment on an Andrew Klavan Pajamas Media article, "Why Left-Wing Artists Should Not All Be Put to Death,” of October 10, 2011:

Mr. Klavan concludes: “To take a strictly leftist or conservative approach to culture is to live half blind. Trust in God and affection for mankind demand, it seems to me, that we allow every life that is not vicious to live itself out in its own way.”

I don’t think it’s profitable to take a leftist-conservative approach to the arts, either, although what he claims is the “conservative” perspective is perplexing. Klavan cites It’s a Wonderful Life and Bonnie & Clyde as excellent films, but they are both vicious. The Stewart movie is better made, and for that reason is more vicious than is the latter, which is pure leftist propaganda that obviously glorifies criminals as “rebels” against the supposedly capitalist establishment (thus the lingering, slow-motion ambush of Bonnie and Clyde), at a time when FDR’s socialist programs were being implemented and which perpetuated the Depression. The Stewart movie, however, glorifies selflessness and the “community” and surrendering one’s ambition to the needs of others, and ends with an eerie “bail-out” of George Bailey and the Bailey Savings & Loan – eerie because it presages the Obama-Democratic economic policy, with everyone “chipping in” to save George from financial ruin and being arrested for embezzlement, malfeasance, and other financial crimes.

So, the conflict is not primarily political, but moral, and as a novelist myself (and as an atheist), I am at odds with both leftist and conservative artists. In strictly moral terms, Mr. Klavan shares the moral values that leftists tout in literature and on the big screen. It also explains why Republicans are ineffectual when going toe-to-toe against Democrats on any issue; the Democrats want a selfless, “community” oriented society NOW, with the “rich” soaked with taxes and industry burdened with onerous regulations, and “essential” services provided free; the Republicans say, yes, that’s fair, but not so fast.

One reader castigated me for being so harsh on IAWL.

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve seen the movie but as I remember, there is one BIG difference between what they did and what Obama does. The people in the movie were coming together to help a neighbor of their own free will, Obama just takes to “help” those he thinks need it more than we do whether we want to or not. As I remember, the banker was set up because he had been helping his neighbors during bad times. He was not making loans knowing they wouldn’t be paid back but was making loans to people he knew would pay them off as soon as they could when bad times turned around.

I replied:

It’s a Wonderful Life is one long ode to altruism and living for others. Every time George Bailey is about to escape Bedford Falls and into the wider world, something keeps him there, and in every instance it’s his feeling that it’s his “duty” to surrender his life to others’ needs. So, he never did what he had dreamed of doing, and the question is open whether or not he was just dreaming and didn’t really mean it, or if he was a true victim of his own mixed premises. His mother is a piece of work, too, literally pushing him in the direction of Mary (the Donna Reed character), a homebody (home from college) whom she knows will probably kill whatever chance he has of escaping. The “evil” Potter character is merely a caricature of capitalism. Most of the principal characters do get to escape Bedford Falls, but return to live banal lives. And the moral of the end of the story – depicting all the town citizens “volunteering” to help George – is that this is what everyone, everywhere is supposed to do. What isn’t depicted is that if they prospered at all, it was at the expense of George’s life and values. So, that’s why I say the film is insidious and vicious.

The other reader had no answer to that.

Let us count the ways George Bailey was betrayed, stymied, or prevented from following his dreams, exhibiting some independence, or realizing his ambition:

• George is about to leave town to spend time on a tramp steamer to “see the world” when his father dies. He stays to save his father’s business, Bailey Savings & Loan, which otherwise will fall into the hands of his father’s nemesis, Henry Potter, the town banker. His brother Harry has just graduated from high school and has won a football scholarship and is leaving town. George agrees, reluctantly, to run the business to keep it out of Potter’s hands.

• Years later Harry Bailey returns from college, a football hero and married to a woman whose father has offered him a job “doing research.” Harry assures George that he’ll run Bailey Savings & Loan while George goes to college. This is doubtful, because Harry’s wife doesn’t look like she would be willing to settle down in Bedford Falls and allow her husband to pass up a chance to work for her father. This conundrum is not depicted or resolved, except by implication.

• George, standing outside his home while everyone else is inside celebrating Harry’s return, looks out of sorts, as though he knows he’s doomed to stay in Bedford Falls by doing the “right thing” and letting Harry accept his father-in-law’s job offer. His mother comes out and tells him Mary Hatch is back from college, too. It’s clear that she wants to marry George off to Mary, and literally pushes him in the direction of Mary’s house. George goes off screen, but returns in a second going in the opposite direction.

• After wandering aimlessly around town (at one point ogling a passing girl, and having a less than inspiring encounter with Violet Bick, the town flapper), George nevertheless gravitates towards Mary’s house, and ends up proposing to her (more or less). Why he should do this is never explained. At the same time, a former Bedford Falls boyhood friend, Sam Wainwright, who did leave town and has attained some kind of success, calls from New York and offers George a chance to run a factory.

• But George by now is emotionally committed to marrying Mary. It is in this same scene that he verbally renounces any ambitions he might have had that would allow him to leave town. His commitment to Mary makes little sense, because the only previous contact between George and Mary, at least what we are shown, was at Harry’s high school dance, during which they fall into the swimming pool beneath the gym dance floor. Walking home, George flirts with Mary. Then Peter Bailey, the father, dies. In the next scenes, George is shown agreeing to stay in town to save the Savings & Loan, but before which he expresses a resolve to leave town, saying to the board of directors, “you can do with this thing what you want.”

• When George and Mary are about to leave on their honeymoon in New York, the stock market has crashed and there is a run on the Savings & Loan. It is George’s decision to go back to the Savings & Loan. He and Mary sacrifice their trip to stop the run, offering their honeymoon money to pay depositors.

• George has some success with the Savings & Loan. Potter offers him a job that will allow him to “see the world” outside of Bedford Falls, a handsome salary, and other perks. George, initially tempted, turns down the offer because, after all, Henry Potter is the villain who probably drove his father to his grave. Potter is depicted as a “greedy businessman” who wants to control the whole town. George, however, is a kind of crusading “community organizer” who has defied Potter. In the meantime, George is settled into married life and has children. He is doomed to stay in Bedford Falls. Family responsibilities, you know.

• World War II does not interrupt George’s life in Bedford Falls. Many of his friends go off to war, but George is passed up by the draft because of his “bum ear,” an injury he sustained when he saved his brother Harry’s life years before in the frozen pond. Harry is now a war hero, being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by the president, and the town is preparing to welcome him home. \

• Uncle Billy, in Potter’s bank, unknowingly gives Henry Potter the Savings & Loan deposit during an episode of braggadocio. Potter does not return it. The money remains missing. George panics, calls Uncle Billy a “drunken old fool.” He goes to Potter for help. Potter gloats and threatens to report him to the authorities. In a state of emergency, George turns against his family, as well. He concludes that his only way out is to commit suicide and let his family collect on an insurance policy.


This is when Clarence the angel intervenes.

So, there is the sequence of events leading up to the miraculous denouement of IAWL

Some correspondents have objected to my critique of IAWL. Their liking of the film is based largely on an emotional response to the ostensive benevolence exhibited in much of the story. One friend suggested that perhaps George Bailey changed his mind about wanting to build bridges and skyscrapers and so on, and decided he would be happier staying in Bedford Falls running the Savings & Loan. Ergo, there is no justification for condemning the movie. But this is a fallacious defense.

One can't judge a fictional character by what he might have done, one can only judge a character by what his creator has shown. Ayn Rand in one of her articles did that with Howard Roark in The Fountainhead, in the opening scene with Keating on the porch, recasting Roark as a naturalistic character to show him a as completely average person who placed value on what others thought, was unsure about what he wanted, respected Keating's opinion of him, and so on.* She demonstrated that the recast Roark would have made the rest of the novel literarily impossible and literally incredible (if she had left the rest of the novel intact).

And, hypothetically, if she had originally stuck with that recasting, and written the novel from that one scene, logically Peter Keating would have emerged as the "hero" (as a champion of pragmatic compromise), and not Roark, because, as she notes, Roark would not have withstood the first crisis that came along and would have caved. The novel would have dispensed with the necessity of a Gail Wynand and Toohey. In fact, it would have dispensed with plot. As for Dominique, if Rand had kept her consistent with her original depiction, she couldn't have fallen in love with Roark and have had her conflict with him, because there wouldn't have been any distinction between Roark and Keating. Hypothetically, by the time Dominique enters the story, there would have been no Roark at all.

But my point here is that while the reader or viewer can project possibilities on a fictional character; one must accept what the artist shows about the character, because that's what the artist has created and intends people to see. One can append one’s own metaphysical value judgments to what an artist has created, but it won’t change the metaphysical fact of the artist’s creation. One can only accept the artist's metaphysical value judgments, and judge for oneself whether or not they're a value.

I’m sure there are artists or art critics, for example, who think that Michelangelo’s statue of David could have used a little more work, say, by turning David’s head a tad, or slightly altering the position of his legs, or mellowing the expression on his face. But they, too, must accept David as Michelangelo created him. (Such “editing” of the David is less horrific than what many so-called artists have done with the image of the statue, such as adding a baseball cap, or boxer’s shorts, or running shoes – those alterations fall into the category of desecration.)

As for George Bailey's marriage to Mary, that whole aspect of the film is a reflection of the common notion that love is "blind" and inexplicable and causeless. I was never able to see any reason why he would want her, and suddenly express that love in her mother's house, in the scene after Harry comes home and pulls a guilt trip on George (the brother has just revealed that he's married and has a great opportunity to "do research" for his father in law -- not in Bedford Falls, either). The brother claims, however, that he'll stay in town and run Bailey Savings & Loan as a kind of implicit favor so George can leave town, but we never see George deciding to stay in town to allow his brother to leave with his wife to work for her father. It just happens.

And what's Mary's conception of an ideal man, someone she'd want to marry? Because we aren't shown much of that, either, we can only conclude that her ideal is a man who selflessly surrenders his life to others in the altruistic tradition and who would never pose a problem to her by being anything other than what he is. Not exactly a Dominique Francon, nor even a Gail Wynand. Given what's shown about George, that's the only conclusion I can arrive at, why Mary would want George and not the clownish "Hee Haw" Sam Wainwright who calls from New York to offer George a chance to leave town. Remember also that during that call, Wainwright derides Bedford Falls and the Bailey Savings & Loan.

I don't think Frank Capra's motives were so innocent. Don't forget the device of Clarence the angel, who shows him Bedford Falls as it would have become if George hadn't been there to save it from Potter. Why it was imperative or necessary for Bedford Falls to become a pit of vice and corruption isn’t explained. It's a pretty dark alternative Bedford Falls, and reveals Capra's estimate of men and the value he placed on living a virtuously altruistic life (which was, according to Capra, necessary to save the town), that without a George Bailey, the townspeople would be naturally miserable and degraded and in thrall to "evil" capitalists like Henry Potter.

Capra’s “alternative” Bedford Falls is a by-the-book, dogmatic, Marxist conception of life under capitalism in a small town in which its savior had never been born.

Everything I've discussed here is based on what Capra showed, and not what I projected his characters might have done otherwise. I must accept Capra's conclusions or evaluations, and not fiddle with them. And I've never accepted Capra's conclusions or his artistry. I can only critique them without attempting to rewrite them.

The benevolent aspect of the film is what I believe most people fall for. It makes viewers feel good. But “feeling good” is not a proper measure or guide to judging whether or not a thing is “good.” And here’s why: The sudden concern of the townspeople about George Bailey’s predicament is an instance of what Rand called “package-dealing.” George has surrendered all his alleged important values (and I stress alleged – no matter how many times I view the film, I’m never quite sure that they are important values to George) in order to allow everyone else in town to attain theirs. That alone was a death sentence. It does not comport at all with another principle Rand articulated: the trader principle.

On “package-dealing,” Rand noted:

[Package-dealing employs] the shabby old gimmick of equating opposites by substituting nonessentials for their essential characteristics, obliterating differences.


And:

“Package-dealing” is the fallacy of failing to discriminate crucial differences. It consists of treating together, as parts of a single conceptual whole or “package,” elements which differ essentially in nature, truth-status, importance or value.


The well-wishing for George by the townspeople and their showering him with money to replace the missing Savings & Loan deposit (stolen by, who else? The evil banker) attempts to obliterate the observable fact, demonstrated throughout the whole film, that George sacrificed his values for theirs, that they are the beneficiaries of that ongoing sacrifice. Add the Christmas spirit of good will to all men to the picture, and the package-dealing is successful.

As for the townspeople “giving back” to George, after he’s “given” so much to them, that’s also a twist on Rand’s idea of package-dealing. It’s the Bill Gates “giving back” morality in reverse.

All together, it’s Hitler in a Santa Claus suit. Or Stalin. Or Obama. I never bought the message that it was better to give than to receive, and never will.

Did Frank Capra know what he was doing? Did he plan every little detail of It’s a Wonderful Life with the intention of fobbing off a package deal? I very much doubt it. There is no such creature as an “evil genius,” only men who are adept at taking advantage of their victims’ ignorance, blindness, fallacies, or faulty premises. Capra, like many other capable directors then and now, was merely a receiver of the culture’s ideas, not an intellectual or an originator of ideas. And the ideas he received but never questioned were largely altruist and collectivist. But being a passive receiver of those ideas doesn’t let him off the hook. Unlike his George Bailey, Capra had the choice to think.

Well, that’s off my chest. Now I can turn back to more important work. Have a nice Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.


*See Chapter 7, “Characterization” in The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers, ed. by Tore Boeckmann (New York: Plume-Penguin, 2000), pp. 63-65.

:: Permalink | 6 Comments ::

 

 

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