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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Villain and Vampire: Businessmen in Literature

Fair sir, you spit on me on Wednesday last. You spurn'd me such a day; another time you call'd me dog; and for these courtesies I'll lend you thus much moneys? 
     Shylock to Antonio, Act I, Scene III, The Merchant of Venice1.

This article originally appeared in Reason Magazine in October 1986 (Vol. 18, No. 5). I revisit it here for the edification of readers who are familiar with Shakespeare and with the dearth in past and modern literature of stories that regard the businessman as a hero. I have edited it to correct very minor errors.
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I never got to study Shakespeare in high school. By the time I started, he had been supplanted by J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye and other contemporary, topically relevant literary works, most of them forgettable and authored by lesser, meaner minds than the Bard's.

Later, I was grateful that I was spared an introduction to his work then. No doubt it would have been filtered through the Deweyian strainers of gender consciousness, minority appreciation, and antiviolence sensitivity and blended in a potpourri of egalitarian mixers. His plots, characters, the beautiful profundity of his language – the whole broad landscape of Shakespeare – were left for me to discover without benefit of interpretation via the National Education Association.

Nor was the subject of the role of businessmen in literature broached in those generously labeled "literature" courses. Business didn’t exist in literature. It just barely merited mention in sophomore history and senior civics, where, if it was noticed at all, it was portrayed either as a glum spectator to the parade of the state or as a recalcitrant sheep that needed its hind legs nipped periodically by the Lassies of the public interest.

"Businessmen" is a broad category, encompassing bankers, merchants, industrialists, manufacturers – anyone responsible for the production of material wealth or services. They have appeared in literature since before the Greeks, but I arbitrarily begin with Shakespeare, and specifically with his Merchant of Venice, because the author and his work are closer to our time, and because Shakespeare was probably the first major writer to create an important business character.

The "merchant" of the title is Antonio, not Shylock the moneylender. Of the two characters, Shylock is the more interesting, if only for the intensity of his feelings. Antonio is something of a pompous, profligate windbag and not very convincing as a captain of commerce. Shylock is a three-dimensional character, even though his overall treatment reflects an unpopular view of Jews in the Elizabethan and subsequent eras.

Sentiment against usury was so strong that only Jews were permitted to practice it with near impunity. Shylock's legal claim to a slice of the merchant's flesh served two purposes: It was his revenge for being maligned in public by Antonio, and it was the central conflict of Shakespeare's usual family of conflicts. The ethics of usury may have even intrigued him, and this might have been his only means of addressing the subject. In the end, Shylock is compelled to waive both Antonio's debt and the pound of flesh, to become a Christian, and to have half his property given to Antonio. He also must bequeath his entire estate to his daughter and the Christian she has married against his will. In return, he retains his life and half his wealth. This was the most justice Shakespeare dared give him in his time.

The businessman has ever since been ranked with the vampire, the criminal, and the tyrant as a stock pariah and nemesis of society. It would be fair to say that he has been accorded markedly less sympathy than the werewolf. Until the 19th century, the merchant, the entrepreneur, and the banker were all relegated to minimal roles in literature, usually as minor antagonists or as subjects of satire. While businessmen made the rise of the West possible, few writers bothered to explore the possibility that they might have been just as rich a potential for dramatic expression as lords, vagabonds, or picaroons.

"Go make my coarse commodities look sleek, with subtle art beguile the honest eye," urges a woolens draper in Thomas Middleton's Michaelmas Term (1606). Middleton's unflattering portrayal of the trader may be taken as a moderate instance of the esteem in which businessmen were held up through the Enlightenment. "Shoddy goods" were only an excuse for writers to ignore the morality of profit and value-for-value trading. In their eyes, the ethics of created, earned wealth was too contemptible a subject to treat seriously.

But the power of the Enlightenment inevitably altered that view. Writers could no longer feign blindness to or remain incurious about the incredible explosion of wealth and the rise in living standards spawned by that intellectual revolution. God against king and king against prince fast faded as handy or exciting vehicles of moral conflict. The literature that used those themes and that survived were written by such titans as Hugo, Schiller, and Goethe. The rest has almost vanished from serious critical attention.

The problem was that most writers could not conceive of treating the businessman as an autonomous individual whose problems and conflicts were as uniquely personal and universal as those of any other highly visible "role model."  They could not accept him at face value as they could a king, statesman, cleric, or soldier. A king had has conscience, a cleric his temptations, a soldier his honor. What could a merchant do that was virtuous? The risks and rewards of trade, of investment, of innovation – these were actions viewed as outside the bounds of morality, even though they were the source of a writer's quill, foolscap, and fashionable clothes.

The best writers could do was portray the businessman as an upright, respected, responsible member of his community, or as an enemy of that community. The novels of the early Victorian age, particularly those of Charles Dickens, are chock-full of business characters, some of them "upright" and even admirable, others insatiable, often charming frauds who prey on a gullible public.

The attitudes of novelists and playwrights in the early to mid-19th century mirrored those of such prominent theoreticians as John Stuart Mill and such beaux espirts as John Ruskin and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. "I confess I am not charmed with the ideal of life held out by those who think that the normal state of human beings is that of struggling to get on," wrote Mill in Principles of Political Economy (1848). He described the "success ethics" as one of the "disagreeable symptoms of one of the phases of industrial progress." Ruskin fantasized about how the Industrial Revolution might be disguised, for example, by designing railway trains to look like dragons, while Coleridge bemoaned the demise of an "enlightened aristocracy" and the exodus of the rural poor to the cities and manufacturing towns, away from the ministrations of a patronizing gentry.

To this day, Europe has never entirely expelled the vapors of caste. Its culture has yet to allow business to rid itself of its inferiority complex. But what was happening during this period in America, which had no philosophy of predestination and no built-in prejudice against business?

For the most part, America's preeminent thinkers, intellectuals, and observers wished that the opposite were true. The outstanding champion of business was Horatio Alger, whose novels of hard work and success may have helped to popularize the ethics of individualism but did not explain why that ethics ought to have been a value.

And American novelists and playwrights did produce business literature. However, just as many of America's leading intellectuals, in philosopher Leonard Peikoff's words, were "alienated by the basic premises of the country, [and] hostile to the essential character of its institutions, its traditions, and its people,"2.  many of the leading novelists, especially in the latter half of the 19th century, were tongue-tied by the unabridged individual, by galloping industrial progress, and by a population that was almost universally unresponsive to their charges that the "success ethic" was a cruel hoax. What they finally did was abandon their frontal assaults and launch a literary flanking movement.

In 1884, John Hay published what was regarded as a major pro-business, pro-success novel, The Bread-Winners. Its convoluted, saccharine plot is the genteel ancestor of television's Dallas and Dynasty. A year later, H.F. Keeton answered it with his antibusiness novel, The Money-Makers, a similarly contrived work written, however, with much more conviction. In it, Hay's original industrial magnate/union organizer, warm-hearted-fellow/conniving rabble-rouser roles were simply reversed.

In both novels, confused, sensitive scions of the tycoons are unsure of where their duties lay until outside events precipitate action one way or the other. And in both novels, these duties concerned the welfare of others and a heightened sense of noblesse oblige to some segment of society.

The two major American novelists of the late 19th century were Henry James and William Dean Howells. James was the finer, sounder writer. His most acclaimed works are The Bostonians and Washington Square. But he found America barren of serious subject matter and viewed Europe as his intellectual and artistic home. He moved to England and, a year after acquiring British citizenship, died there in 1916.

His friend and colleague, Howells, though, felt right at home. While not as prolific as Alger and certainly not as perceptive as James, Howells virtually cornered the market for "serious" novels of business and success. James, in his novels, specialized in pitting Americans against "superior" European sensibilities.

In Annie Kilburn (1889), The Minister's Charge (1887), A Hazard of New Fortunes (1890), and in many other novels, Howells devolved the creed that money isn't everything, that the lower classes have legitimate grudges against the reigning moral and economic system, and that the pursuit of one's own happiness inherently entails injustice and suffering for others. His most famous work, The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885), which chronicles the progressive corruption of a successful man as he seeks to be accepted by Boston society, was a standard subject of study in American high schools for decades.

What was the answer of American businessmen to these novels? Many chose to say nothing. Most ignored them as unimportant. But the muteness was understandable. An explicit ethics sanctioning capitalism had never been formulated. An explicit political philosophy separating the state from the individual had yet to be invented.

In the meantime, the only noteworthy response was Andrew Carnegie's The Gospel of Wealth (1889), in which he asserted that great industrial enterprises, such as his own, are created by the strong and ruthless (without any reference to rights). These enterprises, he offered in expiation, are but trusts administered by the winners of the struggle for the benefit of the public.

These positions were meant to be the finger in the hole of the dike, but all they did was help to enlarge the rupture. What followed was a deluge of antibusiness literature. Frank Norris produced The Octopus (1901) and The Pit (1903); Robert Herrick, The Common Lot (1904) and The Memoirs of an American Citizen (1905); Jack London, The Iron Heel (1908) and Burning Daylight (1910); Theodore Dreiser, The Financier (1912) and The Titan (1914); and Upton Sinclair, The Jungle (1906), The Metropolis (1908), and King Coal (1917).

Not all of these novelists urged complete condemnation of the businessman. London's Burning Daylight and Howells's Silas Lapham, for example, claim that spiritual renewal and moral salvation may be found through the renunciation of business, finance, and innovation. These and other redeemed business characters retreat to the wilderness or to old-time religion or to some other form of passivity. They accept the nostrum that integrity, honesty, and genius are incompatible with capitalism, which can only corrupt the truly moral man by inculcating ambition and selfishness.

With the publication in 1943 of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, the game, to paraphrase Shakespeare, was up. Rand must have taken some pleasure in turning all the standard assumptions on their heads. Gail Wynand, the ruthless, self-made newspaperman, for example, unwittingly practices everything that had been preached to businessmen and the public in the past. He is ultimately obliged to endorse the destruction of his best friend, Howard Roark, an architect, innovator, and something new in the pages of literature – a man of independent self-esteem whose soul is not tied to society, nor crippled by any altruist notion.

On the other end of this novel's spectrum of business characters is Hopton Stoddard, the aging, itinerant millionaire who "found relief in religion – in the form of a bribe." When a shaken Stoddard returns from a worldwide tour of religious shrines – undertaken to find a creed that would forgive him for his dubious business ethics and shady life – Rand says of him with dark humor that: "He had returned from his journey, crushed by the universal spectacle of religion, most particularly by the various forms in which the promise of hell confronted him all over the earth. He had been driven to the conclusion that his life qualified him for the worst possible here-after under any system of faith. It had shaken what remained of his mind."3. 

In Wynand, she illustrated the tragedy of a great man who molded his life on a second-hand morality, altruism, or the "gospel of power." In Stoddard, she created a foil who was almost a caricature of previous novelists' conceptions of a "redeemed" businessman.  

Gail Wynand's conflicts are refined in the character of industrialist Hank Rearden in Rand's Atlas Shrugged (1957), with the difference that Rearden questions the moral code that is supposed to govern both his business and his personal life. When he has his day in court – when he publicly rejects the right of a tribunal to penalize him for having conducted "illegal" business – we know that his end will not be the same as Wynand's.

Atlas Shrugged was not written exclusively as an answer to any particular antibusiness novel, but it is important to note an inversion in its characterizations that is a product of the novel's radical theme. All the virtues that previous novelists had asserted businessmen ought to be imbued with – including the primacy of service over self-interest and the disavowal of the profit motive – are precisely those possessed by businessmen in this novel who are the heavies, the incompetents, and fence-sitters. Moreover, they are also the sneaks, the frauds, the cowards, the looters, and the extortionists, not in spite of their altruist virtues, but because of them. Among many other things, Atlas Shrugged developed the theme that the altruist virtues in men have clung to for centuries are actually vices, and can turn them into tragic figures, or into monsters.

In terms of the business novel, was there life after Atlas Shrugged? Yes, if one concedes that to be comatose, one must first be alive. Business novels have been published since Atlas, but overall they perpetuate the altruist-collectivist theme – or no discernible theme at all.

In retrospect, Atlas Shrugged was a literary supernova whose light has yet to reach the lifeless pages of modern literature. Our novelists, critics, and professors of literature have neither the equipment – intellectual or literary – to grasp that novel, nor the inclination to acquire it.

Nearly 6,000 miles and 360 years separate a Venetian court of law from a Chicago appellate court and the verdict against another moneylender, banker Midas Mulligan (one of the earliest "strikers" in Atlas), who was ordered to loan his money to men who claimed a right to it because they needed it. And a whole new philosophy governed his response to the wrong dealt him by the court. Literary justice was exacted after all – and for much, much more than a mere pound of flesh.

1.William Shakespeare: The Complete Works. Eds. Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1988. p. 430, lines 24-27.
2. The Ominous Parallels: The End of Freedom in America, by Leonard Peikoff. New York: Stein & Day, 1982. p. 325.
3. The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand. Indianapolis/New York: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1943. p. 362.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Our Perilous Trust in Government

I possess an enameled tray that holds five flash drives containing two sets of the texts of my columns, the texts and artwork of my books, and photos and other images. One set is my primary source, the other is a backup. I don't trust my computer or the power not to fail at some critical juncture in the future. For the same reason, I periodically backup my computer on an external drive to preserve its operating systems and other software as a failsafe against my computer being zapped by a lightning strike, overwhelmed by a power surge, or invaded by a hacker (government or freelance) to introduce a killer virus.

Of all the likelihoods in the current political atmosphere, the last one is more credible.

Oh, yes, the government is just as capable as a punk hacker of infecting one's computer through unlawful entry. In the government's case, if you've been targeted for special attention and monitoring because the term "Islam" or "patriot" or "individual rights" occurs repeatedly in your correspondence (red-flagging, it's called), and wants to haul you into court, it can plant the incriminating evidence in your computer and you won't know it until it's too late and you're being led away in handcuffs and a federal prosecutor presents the "evidence" at your arraignment.

However, on the tray of flash drives has been reproduced Eugène Delacroix's "Liberty Leading the People." I have been contemplating it a lot, lately. That image never fails to make me smile. I can always trust it to give me a morale boost.

But I ceased trusting the government many years ago, as I watched it acquire more and more powers over my life and over all other Americans. The revelations of Edward Snowden – traitorously or not – have only underscored that distrust. And I think that many Americans, taking into account  the attacks on Snowden as a traitor, as against his being exalted as a true, liberty-loving patriot, have been thrust into a purgatory of doubt and mistrust that can only come about when they have strong, justified suspicions that they are living in a watershed era.

I frankly do not know what to make of Snowden. He remains an enigmatic figure who abruptly emerged from nowhere – in the course of the Benghazi scandals, the IRS scandals, and just the general reckless, authoritarian tenor of the Obama administration – to state that the government, via the National Security Agency (NSA), has been "mining data" from Americans' emails, phone call records, and so on, and has been doing so for years.

One would have expected Snowden to flee to a relatively free political entity, such as Singapore, or Iceland. Instead, he winds up in Hong Kong, a "special administrative" area of the communist/fascist Mainland, which censors the Internet, has millions in its own Gulag, and threatens to invade and conquer Taiwan. Then he pops up in Moscow. He might wind up in communist-controlled Ecuador, or even Castro's Cuba. There are indications that he may be allowed to stay in Russia by a fascist régime headed by an ex-KGB officer.

Combine this information overload with the news about the NSA's $2 billion Bluffdale, Utah facility that is supposed to collect all information on all Americans and all foreign communications traffic here – is there really a cause for concern?

Yes.

Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media (AIM), for example, has inveighed often and rightly against the numerous depredations of the Obama administration. So I do not understand why he dismisses any possibility that the Obama and his cohorts would use the NSA for nefarious, totalitarian purposes. The possibility seems to have escaped him in his tirades against Snowden and conservatives who champion Snowden. 

On the other hand, Glenn Greeenwald, Snowden's "handler" of the British newspaper The Guardian, is a committed Marxist dedicated – one might say, working hand-in-hand with Barack Obama – to knocking down America. Kincaid exposes this journalist's political predilections. 

And, on another hand, the NSA has been caught fibbing about its alleged exclusive purpose of identifying and tracking down terrorists and wannabe terrorists. 

So, Americans are faced with a contradiction. One or the other scenario is true, but not both. Snowden was a Russian or Chinese mole, or a traitor who has damaged the country's national security, or he wasn't either of these things. He is an individual who doesn't want to live in a Big Brother society. But he appears in two countries governed by totalitarian régimes. Go figure.

I can't. 

"Data mining" is a program probably necessitated by the literal prohibition of collecting intelligence on Muslims and on Islamic terrorists. Excuse me if this sounds "simplistic," but if a government agency is charged with protecting Americans from terrorist attacks is banned from focusing on the most likely terrorist candidates, then it must collect information on everyone and hope to identify and catch them that way. Anyone for "Pin the Tail on the Donkey"? Or a round of blind-folded piñata bashing? 

There is no way to credibly reconcile the 24/7 invasion of Americans' privacy without restraint or legality and also protect and uphold the entirety of the Bill of Rights. 

Focusing on a relatively small handful of suspected terrorists or individuals likely to "go jihad" in this country, would be a comparatively simpler task. But, no, the Obama administration, following the lead of President George "Islam was hijacked" Bush, condones the data mining, because that kind of program meshes nicely with his authoritarian behavior and agenda and virtually exempts Muslims from surveillance. 

Would Obama use the NSA data to his own political advantage? Yes. Observe his record. After all, his Department of Justice went after a journalist's phone records, and participated with the IRS in the targeting of Tea Party groups before and during the 2012 election. Must we review all the scandals that have surfaced around the White House since Obama's second inauguration? And the ones that preceded it? Benghazi? Fast and Furious? If you hear something "fishy"? Obama's associations with Rev. Jeremiah Wright and terrorist Bill Ayers?  And his whole murky – indeed, opaque – past?

I won’t recount them all here, because the administration's "playbook" is beginning to become as thick as Victor Hugo's opus, Cromwell, which is a very long play with a "cast of hundreds" about an autocrat who would be king if the non-electorate would let him and if he were so inclined. (I blush in apology for putting the literary giant Hugo in the same company as the tin pot Marxist, Obama, but I couldn’t resist the analogy. The play, incidentally, is very good.) 

Scott Holleran published a very penetrating article on why we should be grateful to Snowden for his revelations, "Snowden vs. Fascism." 

The fascist state, and that is what America is becoming, is rising based on the false premise – supported by those on the left and right alike – that we must have government control of individual rights in order to protect lives and defend the republic – or, worse in the case of the leftists, to serve the collective and, worst of all, in the case of conservatives, to serve God, tradition and family.

Moreover:

Liberty is not contingent upon security – a proper national defense neither requires nor necessitates surrendering liberty – and individual rights are inalienable, as America’s founders knew and wrote when they created the United States of America.

So, as Mr. Holleran points out, should we really trust our government, and especially the Obama administration, to exercise restraint and not use the mined data for its own sinister purposes? As he notes, trusting the government and Obama to do that is sheer fantasy or perilous wishful thinking. Our government is already on the road to serfdom – our serfdom. In his article, "The Government vs. America," he makes an important observation that it isn't the Tea Partiers who are "anti-government," but the government itself, which is "pro-statism." 

This is especially important when we learn that Obama has consulted with the envoys of Islamic jihad on how best to "get along" with Islam and jihadists. Steve Emerson's Investigative Project on Terrorism has this to report:

The White House's National Security Council has confirmed that staffers held a June 13 meeting with Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, an Islamist cleric who shares leadership of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, where he is vice-president and the terror supporter Yusuf al-Qaradawi is president….
'Like many in the global Muslim Brotherhood movement who pose as moderates to the press and to liberal intellectuals by issuing condemnations of al-Qaida,' it read in part, 'Bin Bayyah refuses to label the acts of groups such as Hamas, Hizballah or Palestinian Islamic Jihad as terrorism.'
He has also issued 'an endorsement of the push by Muslim intellectuals to criminalize blasphemy against the Muslim prophet Muhammad and Islam,' the group reported.

We can trust Obama to do one thing, and that is to sell out our country to Islam – while he "transforms" the country into an impoverished socialist pigsty. 

So, shall we quote Michael Montaigne about the heroes of Thermopylae and compare Edward Snowden with them?

He who falls obstinate in his courage, if he has fallen, he fights on his knees (Seneca)… The most valiant are sometimes the most unfortunate. Thus there are triumphant defeats that rival victories. Nor did those four sister victories, the fairest that the sun ever set eyes on- Salamis, Plataea, Mycale, and Sicily – ever dare match all their combined glory against the glory of the annihilation of King Leonidas and his men at the pass of Thermopylae.

Or shall we regard Snowden as another Alger Hiss who has done irreparable damage to the country's national security, and curse his name? 

The question will be answered in future chapters of the Edward Snowden story. Until then, I must defer judgment of the man. He sounds sincere, says the right things, and I feel grateful that he has exposed the duplicity of our government. At the same time, I can't ignore the bizarreness of his travel itinerary and his close association with Glenn Greenwald. 

Had the U.S. a rational foreign policy – and I'm including a policy that would hale back to at least the 1950's – these national security issues would never have cropped up. But the fact is that our irrational foreign policies have allowed the U.S. to paint itself into a corner. 

I must laugh darkly whenever I hear or read that the U.S. is a "free country," because there is very little freedom left in it. What freedoms we have left exist only by default. Our policies enabled the Soviet Union to exist for decades, from the 1930's onward. Had we let the Germans overrun Russia during WWII, there would have been no "Cold War" that required the creation of a vast intelligence network to combat its espionage and incursions and invasions since the end of that war, because without our unpaid-for assistance, the USSR would have collapsed. 

What "data mining" operations it would have pursued would have targeted known enemies of this country, and not "required" the search and seizure of Americans' personal correspondence and activities on the chance that terrorists and terrorist plots might be detected and foiled. (And this data mining failed to red-flag the Boston Marathon bombers, even with Russia's advice that the one Tsarnaev brother was a "person of interest"). 

The Soviets are gone, but now we are faced with Islam, and our government is now white-washing Islam with the same fervor it white-washed the Soviet Union in the 1930's and during WWII. 

It taxes my imagination about how we, who are concerned about our freedom, can extract ourselves from our authoritarian conundrum. 

I trust the evidence of my senses and my own mind when it comes to trusting the government and evaluating its commitment to freedom – which, at this point, is virtually nil. In the meantime, I have Delacroix's magnificent painting to serve as a constant, trustworthy reminder of what, someday, we may be forced to emulate in spirit and in action. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Critical Tunnel Vision at The Washington Times

On June 19th, the Washington Times ran Frank Csongo's review of Diana West's book, American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on American Character. It was a supercilious review that ignored West's chief themes, labored under inaccuracies and fallacies, and generally was meant to discredit West and her book. I was so startled by its inherent injustice that I wrote the editor asking if the paper would be willing to run a counter-review. As of this date, I have not received a reply. Consequently, I address some of Csongo's errors and assertions here.

For a discussion of issues covered in West's book, see "Our Enemy Inside The Gates," many of them overlooked by Csongo in his review.

First, Csongo insinuates that the causes of the Great Depression were a mystery. However, it was caused and perpetuated by government intervention in the economy. Real economists such as Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, among others, have demonstrated that it was the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank and the passage of numerous regulatory laws that allowed the government to "redirect" the economy in the direction which Wilsonite and other Progressives wished it to go – which was socialism by stealth. The New Deal simply aggravated and prolonged an already skewed and injured economy. But for Roosevelt's policies, it would have recovered.  

No, the government didn't pay "the salaries of many artists and photographers," as Csongo asserts. It took money from millions of impoverished Pauls to give to a passel of socialistic Peters or "artists" – or hasn't Csongo ever read or seen the work of these artists? One notable example is the murals in the ground floor of the former RCA building in Rockefeller Center (now the G.E. Building), which were originally done by a Mexican communist, Diego Rivera; what replaced some of them (by José Maria Sert) aren't much better; it's all "socialist realism."  

As for writers, many who are now famous had their start in the WPA writers' program and have since then been elevated to the broken-down sharecropper's shack that otherwise passes for the pantheon of American literature, including John Cheever, Kenneth Rexroth, Studs Terkel, and Saul Bellow.

Csongo attempts to make a distinction between Soviet-style "socialism" and the Roosevelt brand. He fails because Roosevelt, who didn't actually want to "save" capitalism – his saying he did was just rhetorical taqiyya to throw off those who feared he wanted to abolish it – adopted a fascist policy of regimenting everything he could lay his hands on. Remember that before Hitler could impose National Socialism on Germany, the socialism had to exist first; that was the work of Otto von Bismarck. If fascism comes to the U.S., it will be because a long line of socialist (liberal) and Republican presidents and compliant Congresses have prepared the way. That line extends back to Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson.

In spite of Roosevelt's economic policies, the U.S. was on the way to recovery before its entry into WWII. The war didn't take the country out of the Depression; it prolonged it until years after the war's conclusion. Militarizing the economy and drafting millions of men into the armed services was not "recovery"; it was again redirecting the economy to a command economy, complete with price controls and rationing. Or does Csongo agree with Big Brother that "war is peace"? Orwell, a socialist, had a better grasp of economics than does Csongo.

Whether or not Roosevelt was "naïve" about Stalin and the totalitarian nature of Soviet Russia doesn't relieve him of the responsibility of having surrendered half of Europe to the looting, raping, and destructive Soviets. Csongo does not even touch on West's main point of contention: that our foreign and domestic policies were established and enforced by fellow traveling communists in the government, who numbered in the hundreds, and by Soviet espionage, which began immediately after Roosevelt's diplomatic recognition of the Soviet Union in 1933. Our pre-war and wartime foreign policies, as West documents and argues, were guided and dictated by Stalin's ideological proxies in our government.

Yes, Europe was betrayed by Roosevelt, Harry Hopkins, Alger Hiss and a bevy of other Soviet and pro-Communists operating within the government – none of whom Csongo deigns to discuss. What was Roosevelt's attitude about the fate of Europe? He more or less said that the Europeans would just have to get used to the Soviet occupation. Does Csongo delve into Roosevelt's first priority, to save the Soviets from the Nazi onslaught? No. But Roosevelt said he'd rather hamstring our own military (even before we got into the war) and surrender Australia, Singapore and the Philippines than delay military aid to the Soviets. You would think that Csongo would be so startled by this revelation that he would at least have highlighted it. But, he remained silent.

His review is a puerile essay that could have been written by a brainwashed public high school student who has been taught by his teachers that FDR saved the day.

Quite the contrary. FDR left us a combined political, economic, and cultural legacy that poisons us to this day.

This is the lesson that Diana West imparts in her book, but which Csongo failed or refused to see. West began her project in an attempt to understand why our government is currently white-washing Islam – and, in fact, aiding and abetting its depredations and spread. She learned that this white-washing had a precedent in the white-washing of Soviet Russia.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Anti-War "War on Terror"

Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.

And a moment before, in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, Oceania had been an ally of Eastasia, and at war with Eurasia.1. It would be deemed a thoughtcrime to know and think otherwise.

And it's a virtual thoughtcrime today to say that we are at war with Islam, or even to suggest that Islam is at war with us. Two presidents said so. At the very most, we're only making "War on Terror." We are fearful of Islam's "extremists," not of the ideology of Islam itself. So, once we identify (playing an intelligence version of "Pin the Tail on the Donkey"), foil and stamp out the "extremists," we'll be okay and safe and able to get on with our lives.

Right.

When we engaged Japan and Nazi Germany in a life or death conflict, we did not call it the "War on Kamikazes" and the "War on Blitzkrieg." The phrase "War on Terror" makes little sense and such a "war" will make little headway if we do not remove régimes that fund and endorse attacks on this country. We defeated the Shinto régime that sent the Kamikazes against us and we defeated the Nazis who perfected Blitzkrieg. And then the Kamikazes stopped coming and so did the V2 rockets and Tiger tanks and the whole Wehrmacht. If we hadn't destroyed our enemies' capacity to make war, and physically, militarily refuted the efficacy of their ideologies, we'd probably still be fighting Japan and Germany. Or sued for a negotiated peace on our enemies' terms.

Which is what we are effectively doing with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Suing for peace.

The weapons and tactics employed by the Japanese and Nazis were indeed intended to strike "terror" in soldiers facing them and in civilians. But to divorce those weapons from the régimes that employed them in war is a perilously futile and foolhardy exercise in evasion. And that is precisely what we have done with the "War on Terror."

The "War on Terror," on one hand, is an accurate term for the self-blinding policy the U.S. has engaged in for far too long. On the other hand, it is dishonest, cowardly, and evasive. We don’t blame the ideology. Heavens, no. Islam is a "religion," and a "religion of peace." Never mind the historical record that it has never been a "religion of peace" in its 1,400-year existence. At least, not the "peace" as the West understands it.

No, we blame the "extremists." The term "extremist" is a smear term intended to vilify anyone who acts on fundamental principles. The American Revolutionaries were "extremists" who fought for freedom. Islamic jihadists are "extremist" "freedom-fighters" – that is, they fight against freedom, for Islamic ideology is anti-freedom. Anti-liberty. Anti-mind.  

Stuka dive bombers and the launchers of V2 rockets and divisions of German soldiers are the "extremists" of Nazism. Japanese soldiers in banzai charges and suicidal Kamikaze pilots are the "extremists" of Shintoism.

The phrase "War on Terror" is a tautological oxymoron. Consider the phrase "war on poverty." What does it mean? Nothing. All it does is conjure up an absurd picture of SWAT teams going into slums, guns blazing, to replace steel kettles with Krups coffee makers, and paper plates with Waterford china. The "war on drugs" is no less absurd, as is the "war on obesity" and every other "war" the government has declared. Including the "War on Terror."

Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step towards political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers.2.

The phrase "War on Terror," from the very beginning, spread by convenient imitation because it helped to obfuscate the irresolution of our political leadership to identify and challenge our enemies. Thinking clearly about Islam is not our leadership's goal. It prefers muddied waters.

I grew tired of the phrase "War on Terror" years ago because I saw that adopting it and the policy behind it only guaranteed its indefinite continuation, with no end in sight. That policy allows our current enemy, Islam in all its manifestations, to conduct unlimited war against us, whether it's in the form of suicide bombers or kitchen pressure cookers and other forms of "terror," or the stealthy introduction of Sharia law in the U.S. or the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's attempts to gut the First Amendment with Hillary Clinton's and Barack Obama's blessings, so that clear thinking would be prohibited and punished.  

We have conducted a limited war against, not the ideology, but against its death-loving agents and "soldiers."

Would we have the kinds of controls and spying and political establishment that we have today, had we removed those régimes at the very beginning? No. There'd be no TSA, no DHS, no government nosing into Americans' phone calls and emails, no government "red-flagging" what it deemed offensive speech, no government surveillance of our private speech and behavior conducted behind the guise of "national security," no government imposing suicidal Rules of Engagement on American troops in a war that never occurred. Because that war would've been concluded decades before, with Islam crawling back into its life-hating mosques, fearing to poke its head outside ever again lest it be shot off.

There'd be no mosques in America, either, and no Muslims streaming in to help the Brotherhood populate and conquer America. There'd be no CAIR or ISNA or MSA or any of those Brotherhood front organizations. Any attempt by Islamic enemies to establish Islamic "Bunds" or "civil rights" advocacy groups in America would be discovered, ferreted out, and dissolved.

The agents of a totalitarian ideology – for that is what Islam is, a totalitarian ideology – working to supplant the Constitution with Sharia law, however stealthy, would not be tolerated. We tolerate the Amish, and Buddhists, and even the Baptists because those people are not proposing to impose their will on everyone else. It is only Islam and Muslims.

No 9/11. No 7/7. No Madrid or Bali bombings. No Boston Marathon bombings. None of it. The costly and mind-deadening siege culture we have been living in for the past fifteen or so years would never have congealed around us and asphyxiated us. We wouldn't have even had to endure the plane hijackings and massacres and terrorism of the 1960's and 1970's, for Islam would have been trounced, defeated, and its nose rubbed in the dirt a decade or so before.

We'd have an FBI that would fight the enemy with both eyes wide open.

Muslims coming to America would be ex-Muslims wanting to escape the fetid, murderous hellholes of Islam. Mexicans wanting to come to America would want to undergo the usual naturalization process and leave their crippled, failed country behind, as well.

Neither of the Islam-respecting Bushes would have been elected. The Clintons would have remained in Arkansas to lord it over people whose cars are on cinder blocks. And glib-talking Barack Obama would probably have weaseled his way into Chicago politics instead of being tapped by the Marxists in the Democratic Party to become their point man for the socialization of America.

There'd be no Obamacare, or TARPs, or "Stimuli," nor Obama and Michelle "Minnie the Moocher" giving the country and Americans their middle fingers as they do a poor impersonation of the Roosevelts and fly off on their million dollar vacations. We would never have heard of them, except when the next Chicago corruption scandal erupted on the front pages.

Obama isn't "mismanaging" the "War on Terror," either, as some of his critics are alleging. His policies are consciously designed to cause us to lose it. He is a nihilist and I cut him no slack. His foreign policies complement his domestic policies, which are designed to destroy the country under the rubric of "transformation." Obama may enable Islamic régimes to come to power in the Mideast and North Africa because he has an envious affinity for those régimes. He is enabling the Marxists and Democrats to "reform" the country so that it is multiculturally humbled and unexceptional.

I know that others in the past have made the very same points I make here, but that doesn’t ameliorate my disgust with the phrase "War on Terror" because that phrase means absolutely nothing.

Islam must be dealt a mortal blow. The only way to defeat Islam is to cut off its heads as well as its hands.

But someone might object: But…but…that would mean taking out the Saudis, and Iran, and the UAE, and Qatar, and Pakistan. Yes, it would. These were actions the U.S. ought to have taken ages ago, beginning with that looting, medieval dynasty of the Saudis. It might even mean using tactical nuclear weapons. But the longer we do not remove régimes and states that sponsor terrorism, the longer the "War on Terror" will go on. As a country, we cannot afford a perpetual and indefinitely extended stalemate. No country has ever survived that kind of "war."

The late John David Lewis, in his seminal work on the means and ends of warfare, wrote:

Those who wage war to enslave a continent – or to impose their dictatorship over a neighboring state – are seeking and end that is deeply immoral and must not be judged morally equal to those defending against such attacks.3.

And it is not a stalemate we are facing. It is an incremental retreat lead by the internal enemies of this country in the face of the Left's totalitarian agenda allied with the Islamic blueprint for conquest. These allies are copasetic in their means and ends.

A commander's most urgent task is to identify this central point [an enemy's ideological and moral strength] for his enemy's overall war effort and to direct his forces against that center – be it economic, social, or military – with a view to collapsing the opponent's commitment to continue the war. To break the "will to fight" is to reverse not only the political decision to continue the war by inducing a decision to surrender, but also the commitment of the populations to continue (or to restart) the war.4.

This is precisely the policy that has been adopted by "Islamists" against the U.S. and the West. They know that the U.S. and the West have no "will to fight," because the U.S. and the West have sabotaged their own ideological and moral strength with pragmatism, subjectivism and multiculturalism. Philosophically, politically, to use an analogy from the Battle of Gettysburg, we have right and left flanks, but no center in the Union position. General Lee attacked the center, thinking it was weak and would collapse. He was wrong. He paid the price.

Our flanks are superfluous, because they exist to defend the center composed of pragmatic, unprincipled mush. Our enemies are pouring through that center and striking at our flanks. And that is why we are paying the price and collapsing.

Lewis wrote:

There is no single strategic pattern, no universal "theory of war," and no moral "rules" divorced from context or purpose to emerge from this book. The major point is to take moral ideas seriously.5. (Italics Lewis's)

The "War on Terror" will not end until we abandon that anti-concept and adopt the morally correct idea that we are engaged in a War Against Islam.
 
1. Nineteen Eighty-Four: Text, Sources, Criticism, by George Orwell. (1949) Edited by Irving Howe. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1963. p. 121.
2. "Politics and the English Language," in All Art is Propaganda: Critical Essays, by George Orwell. Compiled by George Packer. New York: Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008.  pp. 270-271.
3. Nothing Less Than Victory: Decisive Wars and the Lessons of History, by John David Lewis. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2010. p. 3.
4. Ibid, p. 6.
5. Ibid, p. 10. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Education of Robert Mueller

Imagine for a moment that I have been elected a U.S. Senator for the state of Virginia, replacing one of the two roll-with-the-punches Democrats who vote the straight Party line, and I am on the Senate Judiciary Committee which is holding a special hearing on the reported misconduct of FBI Director Robert Mueller over a variety of issues, including the IRS probes Mueller denied knowledge of, and the state of intelligence and law enforcement of the Bureau in combating Islamic jihad and identifying and arresting homegrown Islamic terrorists. I have been given carte blanche by the Committee chairman to interrogate Mr. Mueller on these and related topics.

Picture me on the committee dais, and Mr. Mueller at his table sitting next to his own legal counsel, a wonkish-looking fellow with round spectacles. Mueller has been sworn in and the chamber has quieted down. The only other sounds are the occasional whirl and click of a reporter's camera and the soft, almost inaudible staccato whisper of the stenography machine of the Committee's reporter.  

SEN. CLINE:  Thank you, Mr. Mueller. Let's proceed with our questioning.

MR. MUELLER: Yes, sir.

SEN. CLINE: Mr. Mueller – when were you appointed Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation?

MR. MUELLER: In September, 2001, by then President George Bush.

SEN. CLINE: On September 4th, about a week before 9/11, I should note. So, all in all, you have been in that office for about thirteen years. Your previous careers in law and in the military have already been entered into the record, so we won’t review that information. Now, do you think you have performed your duties as Director faithfully, in accordance with your oath of office?

MR. MUELLER: Yes, sir. I do think that.

SEN. CLINE: Fine. You are of the Christian faith, I assume.

MR. MUELLER: Yes, sir.

SEN. CLINE: Which one?

MR. MUELLER: I have been an Episcopalian all my life, as were my parents.

SEN. CLINE:  Then you must be familiar with the Ten Commandments, formally known as the Decalogue. These Commandments also occur in the Hebrew Bible and are alluded to in the Koran.  I am referring to Exodus 20:1-17 and Deuteronomy 5:4-2.

MR. MUELLER: Yes, sir.

SEN. CLINE:  Just for the record, could you recite a few of them for the committee?

(Mueller glances in bafflement at his legal counsel. His legal counsel looks equally baffled, but shrugs his shoulders and nods.)

MR. MUELLER: (Slightly amused) Well…Thou shalt not kill….Thou shalt not steal….Thou shalt not cover a neighbor's wife, or his house….Honor your parents, and Sundays or the Sabbath….Thou shalt not lie, or bear false witness….Or make graven images….Or swear….

SEN. CLINE:  (Holding up a hand.) All right. The Committee is satisfied with that answer. Do you read the Bible, sir?

MR. MUELLER:  Now and then. I must admit I can't remember the last time I did. Not as regularly as I should.

SEN. CLINE:  Would you agree that the Ten Commandments are the foundation of Judeo-Christian morality?

MR. MUELLER: Yes, sir, but I have heard there has been some disagreement over that.

SEN. CLINE: (Smiling benevolently at Mueller.) I agree with you, Mr. Mueller. I confess I am one of the dissidents on that matter. However, that is beside the point. (Pauses to turn over some papers in front of him.) All right. Now, Mr. Mueller, I am going to pursue a novel line of questioning. Were you aware that the Bible, as well as the Hebrew one, not to mention the Koran, in which there are vague references to the Commandments, was a work-in-progress for centuries, having been edited, adumbrated, and revised by numerous scholars and interpreters and other notables? There are at least half a dozen "authorized" and popular versions of the Bible, the most recent the English Standard which has come down to us today, which is roughly based on the King James Version. (Cline waves his hand.) There is a Cockney Bible, and a Bowdlerized Bible, in which all the prurient references were excised from the text, especially from the Old Testament.

MR. MUELLER: (He blinks in incomprehension, and answers with hesitation.) No, sir. I was not aware of it.

SEN. CLINE: (With barely contained amusement.) And, as the story goes in all three doctrines, Moses climbed Mount Sinai, disappeared into a fog, and a few days later emerged with two stone tablets with the Commandments inscribed on them. That is, more or less, the story. Am I correct?

MR. MUELLER: That is correct, sir, if I remember correctly.

SEN. CLINE: You do. Now, allow me to pose a hypothetical event. Suppose a new book of the Bible, heretofore unknown to the Christian, as well as to the Judaic and Islamic faiths and worlds, is discovered in the stacks of the British Museum, or in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, or in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Let us for the moment call it the Book of Robert.

(Subdued laughter in chamber. Mueller and his legal counsel, however, look nonplussed. Senator Cline waits for the laughter to subside and continues.)

Its discovery understandably causes universal sensation and concern. Now, after careful study and examination of the text of the Book of Robert, biblical scholars and other authorities determine that it was written or recorded some centuries after Exodus and Deuteronomy. And its Ten Commandments abrogate the earlier ones. These new Commandments condone murder, theft, dishonesty, rape, slavery, and other crimes. In fact, they are the converse of the originals. Further, an admonishing advisory in the Book of Robert categorically warns that the new Commandments render the older ones null and void, and that it is incumbent upon Christians to abide by the new ones. This dictum, of course, also obviates the pacific nature of the New Testament, as well, and not only redefines the contemporary understanding of Christianity, but calls for a new name for it, the peaceful homilies of Jesus Christ having been all but negatived in the Book of Robert. (Pauses.) What would you say to that, Mr. Mueller?

MR. MUELLER: (Frowning in disgust.) That is a preposterous idea, sir.

SEN. CLINE: Is it? Why do you say that?

MR. MUELLER: It's a blasphemous and irreligious idea. And disrespectful.

SEN. CLINE: But not unprecedented. Although the idea is apocryphal, there have been private organizations in the past, such as the British Hellfire Clubs, that mocked the Bible and the Christian faith. And Thomas Jefferson, for example, removed all the parts of the Bible that he agreed with and put together his own much reduced version. Many of his contemporaries called his action blasphemous, as well, but I don’t think his reputation has suffered much. 

MR. MUELLER: I…have heard these stories, sir.

SEN. CLINE:  I am happy to hear it. Furthermore, as far as precedents are concerned, it is done in the Koran.

MR. MUELLER: I don't follow you, sir.

SEN. CLINE: (Under his breath, "I didn't expect you would.")  I think you will, sir. This won't take long. Well, let's hear some examples of what I'm talking about here. Now, advocates of Islam claim it is a "peaceful" religion. Indeed, it is true that once Islam's purposes are accomplished, it will be "peaceful." Would you happen to know what those purposes are, Mr. Mueller?

MR. MUELLER: Just that its believers can live in peace, sir. That's as I understand it. And without discrimination or harassment or stereotyping or defamation.

SEN. CLINE: (Shaking his head.) No, sir. By that – and Islamic authorities, in addition to the Muslim Brotherhood and other Muslim organizations in this country, and in Europe, all concur on its meaning, and will bear me out – by that is meant that once the world is under Islamic rule, then jihad will be pointless and unlawful, because all of Islam's foes will have been converted, subjugated, or vanquished.

MR. MUELLER: (Frowning, shaking his head.) That isn't what they mean, sir. Why, President Bush himself, the day after 9/11, said that Islam wasn’t about terrorism, it meant peace. He said that at the Islamic Center in Washington, standing with a group of Muslim representatives.

SEN. CLINE: (Smiling.) Yes, he did. And they were all Brotherhood representatives, too.  But, let me read for the record exactly what Mr. Bush said that day. (Turns some pages, adjusts his glasses.) Ah, here, and I quote: "These acts of violence against innocents violate the fundamental tenets of the Islamic faith.  And it's important for my fellow Americans to understand that. The English translation is not as eloquent as the original Arabic, but let me quote from the Koran, itself:  In the long run, evil in the extreme will be the end of those who do evil.  For that they rejected the signs of Allah and held them up to ridicule." (Looks down at Mueller.) That was from Sura 30, verse 10. I should point out that Mr. Bush's quotation – and I don’t know who gave it to him – places a period after the second instance of "evil." The next clause is treated as a separate sentence. I don't think that was a typographical error. In the original, however, there is only a semicolon after the second instance, forming a complete sentence, which changes the whole meaning of the quotation. Which arguably makes it as violent a verse as any other to be found in the Koran.

MR. MUELLER:  (Looking angry.) You're playing with periods and semicolons and grammar just to change the meaning, sir, and I must protest –

SEN. CLINE: It's the punctuation that changes the meanings, Mr. Mueller, not I. But – let's examine some other instances of later verses, verses that negate the meaning of the earlier verses. (Cline turns some pages before him and reads calmly without inflection or stress.)

Sura 64, verse 12: "Obey God then and obey the Messenger (that being Mohammad), but if you turn away no blame shall be attached to our Messenger, for the duty of our Messenger is just to deliver the message." (Cline shrugs and grimaces.) A rather vague imperative, addressed to a simpleton, I should think.

Here's Imam Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj al-Naysaburi about a Sunnah in the Hadith: "Whoever kills a person who has a truce with the Muslims will never smell the fragrance of Paradise." And, another: "Whoever hurts a non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim state hurts me, and he who hurts me annoys God." That's from Bukhari, a Muslim scholar.

And, another: "He who hurts a non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim state, I am his adversary, and I shall be his adversary on the Day of a Judgment." Again, Bukhari. Al-Mawardi: "Beware on the Day of Judgment; I shall myself be complainant against him who wrongs a non-Muslim citizen of a Muslim state or lays on him a responsibility greater than he can bear or deprives him of anything that belongs to him."

(Cline puts aside the quotations, and addresses Mueller.) Now, Mr. Mueller, did you notice any significant qualifications in those quotations?

MR. MUELLER:  No. I can't say that I did.

SEN. CLINE:  In al-Naysaburi's quotation, he mentions a truce, the Arabic term being hudna, or a temporary cessation of hostilities to buy time to regroup in order to renew an attack with a better advantage. I doubt he was referring to a break time during a chess match. And in the last three quotations – and I could have gone on with dozens more – the non-Muslim who mustn’t be harmed is a citizen of a Muslim state. In a Muslim state a non-Muslim is a dhimmi, or an infidel who has accepted the political authority of Islam over him. Search as one might through similar verses, one can find no such restraining order about non-Muslims in non-Muslim states. Now, what do you make of that, sir?

MR. MUELLER: (After a hurried, whispered huddle with his legal counsel.) I don't know what to make of it, sir, except I think you are putting words into the mouths of Muslims.

SEN. CLINE: The words I cited come from authoritative texts, Mr. Mueller. Those were the words of revered scholars and commentators through the ages. Furthermore, I should also remark that there isn't a single verse in either the Koran or the Hadith that does not imply a global Islamic hegemony, that is, a state in which Islam has the upper hand in all matters, over all men. There is no other context in which to construe the verses or sayings, regardless of their counseling violence or mercy. I will further remark that any Muslim quoting one of the earlier "peaceful" verses as the final word, does so at the risk of being accused of blasphemy and inviting retribution. Let's sample a few more Sura from the Koran:

From Sura 8:12, "Allah will throw fear into the hearts of the disbelievers, and smite their necks and fingers."

From Sura 72:15-17, "The fires of hell will be fueled with the bodies of idolators and unbelievers. They will experience an ever-greater torment."

From Sura 4:56, "Those who reject our Signs, We shall soon cast into the Fire: as often as their skins are roasted through, we shall change them for fresh skins, that they may taste the penalty: for Allah is Exalted in Power."

Shall I go on, Mr. Mueller? There are even worse verses. My clerk prepared six pages of them. You and your legal counsel are welcome to a copy.

MR. MUELLER: (After another whispered conference with his legal counsel.) I suspect that you have cherry-picked your verses, sir, and so I have nothing to say about them.

SEN. CLINE: If I have cherry-picked my verses, sir, then I have practically denuded the tree.  Now, let us turn to the purpose of this hearing. I will ask you this, Mr. Mueller: Would you regard Islam primarily as a religion, or an ideology?

MR. MUELLER: (Almost defiantly.) I regard Islam as primarily a religion, with some of its regrettable verses serving as an excuse for some individuals to use violence. I do not regard it as an ideology in the least. President Bush, bless his heart, said Islam was hijacked by extremists.

SEN. CLINE: What is an "extremist"?

MR. MUELLER: Someone who takes a teaching too far, or literally, to a criminal extent.

SEN. CLINE: So, an "extremist" is someone who takes a teaching seriously enough to act on it?

MR. MUELLER: Yes, because he misinterprets the teaching.

SEN. CLINE: I can cite a number of Sura that instruct Muslims to slay or enslave non-believers, Jews, apostates, homosexuals, and disobedient wives and daughters. How could so clear a language be misinterpreted? Shall we blame the "extremist," or the teaching?

MR. MUELLER:  It's a matter of interpretation, that's all.

SEN. CLINE: Mr. Mueller, I ask you this because you have a law degree from the University of Virginia: Would you call the Constitution of the United States – that is, the original Constitution, minus later, egregious, and contradictory amendments – the law of the land, one that governs the actions of American citizens?

MR. MUELLER: (Looks thoughtful for a moment, then answers with confidence.) Yes, sir, I would call it that.

SEN. CLINE: Would you agree that the Constitution is not so much a set of rules by which Americans should conduct themselves, as a document that defines the limits and the limited powers of government, so that Americans' liberty may be preserved and enjoyed?

MR. MUELLER: (After a moment, frowning, and unsure of where this is leading.) Generally speaking, yes.

SEN. CLINE:  So, the Constitution as envisioned and written by the Founders did not so much govern the actions of Americans, as it set boundaries between them and the government? I include, of course, the Bill of Rights.

MR. MUELLER: (With wry contempt.) That's one way of putting it.

SEN. CLINE: That's the only way to put it, sir. So, one could not say that the Constitution is by any means totalitarian in nature? That is, it doesn’t prescribe every particular or concrete action or behavior or custom that an American citizen may take or follow without fear of penalty?

MR. MUELLER: (Frowning again, looking disgusted.) Like I said, that's one way of putting it.

SEN. CLINE: And is not Sharia law the jurisprudential guide of Islam, governing all the actions of its followers?

MR. MUELLER: Yes, as I understand it, that's what it is. But –

SEN. CLINE: And if you understand that much, would you not agree that Sharia law is the implementation of a totalitarian ideology? That it is as unlike the Constitution as water is unlike lava?

MR. MUELLER: You're putting words into my mouth!

SEN. CLINE: You mean I'm asking you to concede a point, Mr. Mueller. One needn't believe in Islam to be governed by Sharia law as a subject, as a dhimmi. I will remind you that one of the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood is to replace our Constitution with Sharia law. This has been said in this country on numerous occasions by Brotherhood members. (Pauses to leaf through some papers before him.) Now, we are coming to the nub of my questions, Mr. Mueller. If you had been Director of the Federal Bureau during World War Two, would you have instructed your personnel to not identify enemy Nazi agents, for fear of offending domestic and foreign Nazis, yet still expect your people to foil their plots and apprehend them?

MR. MUELLER: (Looking flustered, and wags a finger at Senator Cline.) You're not getting away with this line of questioning, Senator! It's wholly inappropriate! (Mueller consults with his legal counsel.)

SEN. CLINE: And had you been Director in the1950's, would you have instructed your personnel to not identify Communist agents and their schemes, for fear of insulting Communists foreign and domestic?

MR. MUELLER: I refuse to answer that question. Those are different times you're talking about!

SEN. CLINE: As Director of the FBI, you in 2012 instructed that all training materials be purged of all references to Islam and Muslims, together with all terms associated with jihad, yet expected your personnel to detect and foil acts of Islamic terrorism in this country, and even overseas. From whom did that order come, Mr. Mueller?

MR. MUELLER: It came from the Attorney General. It wasn't my decision.

SEN. CLINE: So, instead of resigning in protest, or publically opposing the order, you stayed on, and helped to blind an agency charged with defending this country against enemy action? In point of fact, you, sir, were charged with defending this country from enemy designs and attacks.

MR. MUELLER:  It wasn't my decision. It was a policy decision. I don’t make such decisions.

SEN. CLINE: That, sir, is obvious. (Reaches for another paper.) I read here a statement made by Clare Lopez, a senior fellow of the Clarion Fund and the Center for Security Policy, an expert on strategic intelligence and defense policy matters, and a former employee of the CIA.  She is also a deputy director of the U.S. Counterterrorism Team and an instructor for U.S. Special Forces. And, I quote from a recent article of hers published this June, "National Defense vs. the Ideology of Jihad." (Adjusts his glasses again.)

"It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the deliberate blinding of our homeland security defense capabilities, perpetrated by the Muslim Brotherhood in close cooperation with the witting, willing assistance of our own national security agency leadership – " (Pauses to glance at Mueller.) – which includes you, sir – "is propelling the U.S. towards catastrophe." (Cline pauses to turn a page.)  Further on in her article, she writes, "The methodical blinding of the intelligence community, its seventeen aggregated agencies, and security and law enforcement units across the country, is the unavoidable result of this kind of 'outreach' to jihadists, who are determined to outlaw consideration of Islamic ideology as a motivating factor for terror attacks." (Puts the paper aside.)  I will refrain from declaiming on my distaste for the term "homeland," as that is my only reservation about Miss Lopez's statements. But, I should like to know if you, Mr. Mueller, concur with her statements, or disagree with them.

MR. MUELLER:  I know about Lopez. She's a right-wing agitator sick with Islamophobia.

SEN. CLINE:  You appeared to be comfortable with the policy of emasculating this country's ability to defend itself against our sworn enemy, Islam. Perhaps you are also comfortable with abetting censorship, which is what is meant by "outlawing consideration of Islam ideology."

MR. MUELLER:  We are not at war with Islam. Two presidents have said that, sir.

SEN. CLINE: Then two presidents were wrong, Mr. Mueller, and you have served under both of them. The first time Mohammad raised his sword to convert or slay or enslave non-believers 1,400 years ago, that was the beginning of Islamic jihad, which has not ceased since then. I might add that many scholars even question the existence of such a person, and that the details of his life are just so much fantastic folderol. Now, who instructed the Attorney General to communicate that policy to you, Mr. Mueller?

MR. MUELLER:  I refuse to answer. I will not entertain that question. It's politically motivated.

SEN. CLINE:  (Removes a sheet of paper from his notes.) May I remind you of your oath of office, sir? (Reads from the paper.) "I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God." I lay special stress on "all enemies, foreign and domestic." (Puts down the paper.) I will also remind you, sir, that you are under oath in these proceedings, as well.

MR. MUELLER:  You do not need to remind me. Are you insinuating that I'm lying?

SEN. CLINE: No, sir. I'm suggesting that you're not as forthcoming with answers as you are required to be in this chamber. You were not forthcoming about the farcical role of the FBI in investigating the murders of Ambassador Stevens and three other Americans in Benghazi. I'm suggesting that you ignored the warnings of the Russians about Tamerlan Tsarnaev's newfound Islamic "extremism." I'm suggesting that you never investigated the Boston mosque which both Tsarnaev brothers attended, one, as Mr. Gohmert pointed out in the House hearing the other day, which was founded by a jihadist now serving time in prison –

MR. MUELLER: I'll tell you what I told him, sir, that we investigated that mosque four days before the Boston bombing –

SEN. CLINE: Yes, I know. As part of the FBI's "outreach" program, Mr. Mueller. But Huggy-Bear "outreach" is not the same thing as a criminal investigation or rooting out Islamic terror cells or "sudden jihad" terrorists that these mosques seem to spawn. I would like to know what you think of President Obama's "outreach" to terrorist organizations. He seems to think that Al-Qada is a branch of the Rotarians, that Hamas is affiliated with the Mummers, and that the Muslim Brotherhood is a college fraternity. And, fantastically enough, that neither Al-Qada nor Hamas have anything to do with Islam. I suppose you and he think they're staffed with Free Masons.

MR. MUELLER:  (Scowling furiously.) Mr. Obama knows what I think of his policies.

SEN. CLINE:  I'm sure he does, and he very likely invites you to his frequent rounds of golf, too. My time is almost up, Mr. Mueller. Your testimony has been interesting but not illuminating. Per the Committee's special subpoena, you will be required to appear here again tomorrow at 10 a.m. The subject is, after all, your misconduct these twelve or so years, misconduct which, given the negligence your department has exhibited lately, together with your own acquiescence to a futile, perilous, and, if I may so, treasonous policy of accommodation granted our enemies, can in all probability be joined with the charges of a violation of your oath of office, and dereliction of a duty you voluntarily assumed. Tomorrow, I think we shall focus on your parts in Benghazi and the IRS's enemies list. You are dismissed, Mr. Mueller.

MR. MUELLER:  (Angrily, standing with his legal counsel, his face ugly with the malice he showed Representative Louis Gohmert.) I'll see you in hell, first!

SEN. CLINE: Now, now, Mr. Mueller. No more of those dirty looks. Behave like an adult, please. (Rises as he collects his papers, smiles at Mueller, and shrugs. He turns to the Committee Chairman.) Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for indulging me.