Unexamined Premises

Unexamined Premises

A Long, Slow Ride to Hell — Nunc Dimittis

October 1st, 2015 - 6:47 am
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

I concluded my previous excerpt from my new book, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace – the audio book version of which is out this week — like this:

“On the Unholy Left, there is no idea too stupid to try, no institution unworthy of attack, no theory not worth implementing without care for its results, no matter what the practical cost. Intentions are everything, results are nothing. Results are an illusion; theory is what counts, because theory can be debated endlessly within the safe harbors of academe. The key is to examine what those intentions really are.” Those intentions will be the subject of our third and final installment.

Herewith, some concluding thoughts:

Throughout literature, the Devil is frequently portrayed as sincere, earnest, reassuring and cajoling, slow to reveal his terrifying face. Deception is his stock-in-trade, and human beings who give him the slightest benefit of the doubt end up unhappily, and worse. To doubt the accuracy of these portrayals—no matter whence they originate, whether from folk tradition or (as I argue) some deep, Jungian wellspring of primal memory and collective unconscious—is to doubt nearly the entire course of human history (although Critical Theory presumes to do just that). It is to believe that only in the past century and a half or so have we been able to penetrate religion’s veil of illusion and see reality for what it is: nothing.

This is a philosophy of nihilism, which often poses as sophisticated “realism,” and I argues that it is just another form of satanism. Denial of the eternal becomes a way of temporal life; and, by extension, Death is embraced as a way of Life. En passant, it is amusing to note that the practitioners of nihilism are often the same people who denounce “denialism” in other aspects of everyday life (various psychological conditions, “climate change,” etc.), just as those who describe themselves as “pro-choice” with regard to abortion are anti-choice in just about every other facet of their political lives, including health care, school choice, and so forth.

In the movie Independence Day, the scientist played by Jeff Goldblum realizes shortly after alien ships appear over the world’s great cities that their intentions are far from benign—that, in fact, the aliens are coordinating a massive attack using earthling technology. “They’re using our own satellites against us,” he explains, making a hasty sketch to illustrate his point. So does Satan—or the satanic forces, or the iron laws of history, or la forza del Destino, call it what you will—use our own best qualities and noblest intentions against us, pervert them to his own ends in order to accomplish his singular mission, which is the moral destruction of humanity.

I realize these are strong words, as they are meant to be.

What saved the Frankfurt School was its transplantation under duress to America. The brutal efficiency of the Nazi regime opened their eyes to the consequences of what they had imagined would have no consequences. Had they proclaimed their destructive anti-American, anti-Western intentions openly—made them the salient feature of their teachings—they might rightly have been regarded as spies, sappers, and saboteurs, and hanged. But twinned with another Central European intellectual conceit, Freudian analysis (many of whose tenets synchronized happily with Institut theory), they appeared to be relatively harmless, nutty-professor refugees with funny foreign accents seeking shelter in America, pleading tolerance for lofty ideals. What went unnoticed was that the ideals for which they sought tolerance were themselves anything but tolerant. Indeed, they were fundamentally antithetical to the American ethos and experience. America would not have to descend into Hell; Hell had come to America—disguised, naturally, as Heaven, and now lying in wait for the unwary.

The Hell we imported along with the ideas of the Frankfurt School we can see all around us, in our diminished economic, physical and moral circumstances.

Lukács dreamed of creating a void in the soul of humanity, in a world that supposedly had been abandoned by God, a collectivist world in which there would be no room for the individual—which is to say an antfarm that would admit of no heroic Siegfrieds or supermen. He wrote of the necessity of an Aufhebung der Kultur—an abolition of culture, specifically Judeo-Christian Western culture, although the word “Aufhebung”might be better translated in this instance as the “uprooting.” 

Writing in 1962, in the preface to his Theory of the Novel, and reflecting on his experience of World War I, Lukács underlined his anti-Western sentiments:

My own deeply personal attitude was one of vehement, global and, especially at the beginning, scarcely articulate rejection of the war and especially of enthusiasm for the war. . . . There was also some probability that the West would defeat Germany; if this led to the downfall of the Hohenzollerns and the Hapsburgs, I was once again in favour. But then the question arose: Who was to save us from Western civilisation?

A better question might well be: “What will save us from socialist nihilism?’

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A Long, Slow Ride to Hell (Cont’d)

September 19th, 2015 - 10:07 am
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

Earlier, I posted some excerpts from my new book, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace, currently the top bestseller on the Amazon Philosophy/Criticism list. They largely concerned the origins of Critical Theory and the Marxists who promulgated the culturally destructive assault on western, Judeo-Christian morals and civilization. Conceived in the aftermath of World War I (the greatest debacle in western history), Critical Theory sought to finish the job the satanic slaughter in the trenches had started, and it did so by going after every important pillar of our shared society.

Foremost among those pillars was sex (not “gender”), sexual mores, and the family. If they could destroy the nuclear family, especially under the guise of “sexual freedom” or, even better, “liberation,” they were a long way toward their goal of a post-Christian, post-Western world. Far from being the “feminists” their unholy offspring pretend to be, both the original Frankfurt School critical theorists were instead profoundly, misogynistically anti-female. Discussing the role of the Woman in just about any work of narrative art you can mention, I write:

And who represents the saving power of divine grace? Almost invariably, the woman, whose own self-sacrifice rescues and transfigures the flawed male hero. In Goethe’s famous words from the second part of Faust: “Das Ewig-Weibliche zieht uns hinan,” or, “the Eternal Feminine draws us onward.” The Eternal Feminine, a sexually anti-egalitarian concept that feminists of both sexes today would regard as laughable, is one of the organizing principles of the cosmos, and a crucial factor in the hero’s journey. Even the pansexuality of today, try though it might, cannot replace this naturally primal force: the union of opposites into a harmonious, generative whole…

Faust, so very German, adumbrates modern man: born in the nineteenth century, wreaking havoc in the twentieth, and still battling against both God and the Devil in the twenty-first, often while denying the existence of both. He is the essence of the daemonic, if not quite the satanic. After all, in Goethe’s telling, Faust is ultimately saved, in part by Gretchen’s sacrifice—saved, that is, by the Eternal Feminine, the sexual life force greater than the power of Hell, which pulls men ever onward and closer to the Godhead—and also by God’s infinite grace, which can even overcome a bargain with the Devil, if man only strives hard enough.

What would the Unholy Left do without illusion? It is the cornerstone of their philosophical and governing philosophy, a desperate desire to look at basic facts and plain meanings and see otherwise, to see, in fact, the very opposite. From this standpoint, nothing is ever what it seems (unless it comports with quotidian leftist dogma), and everything is subject to challenge. At the same time, the Left’s fondness for complexity over simplicity betrays its affection for obfuscation and misdirection. As has often been remarked, the leftist program dares not show its true face in an American election, because it would be overwhelmingly rejected (even today, after a century of constant proselytism from its redoubts in academia and the media). But in an age when credentialism is disguised as supreme, practically Faustian knowledge, and when minutiae are elevated to the status of timeless universal principles (even as the existence of such principles is otherwise denied), Leftism masquerades as sophistication and expertise. But the mask conceals only intellectual juvenile delinquency gussied up in Hegelian drag. The coat might be too small and the shoes too big, but if you don’t look too closely—as in Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot—the illusion might pass for reality.

So let’s cut to the chase:

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Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

As Roger Kimball noted on PJ Media last month, Encounter Books has recently published my new book, The Devil’s Pleasure Palace, a study of the nature of good and evil, God and Satan, and the heroic culture of the Judeo-Christian West vs. the collectivist nihilism of what I call the Unholy (or satanic) Left, followers to a man of the Frankfurt School of mostly German Marxist philosophers, whose destructive, anti-cultural handiwork we can see all around us. For just about every social pathology that currently has Americans and Europeans scratching their heads — how the hell did we get here? — has its origins in the teachings of the Frankfurters and its practical application embodied by the pernicious doctrine of Critical Theory. Destruction of national sovereignty? Check. Redefinition of marriage and the family? Check. Replacement of the Individual-as-Hero with the collectivist ethos of the human ant farm? We have a winner.

Antonio Gramsci, Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, Wilhelm Reich — the list of villains reads like Hell’s honor role. Herewith, some excerpts:

Were any of the originators of Critical Theory sill among us, they might well say, quoting Sir Christopher Wren: Si monumentum requiris, circumspice. Look about your daily lives here in early twenty-first-century America and Western Europe, and see the shabbiness, hear the coarseness of speech and dialogue, witness the lowered standards not only of personal behavior but also of cultural norms, savor the shrunken horizons of the future.

The Frankfurt School sucker punched American culture right in its weak solar plexus. Americans have always been sympathetic to an alternative point of view, sympathetic to the underdog, solicitous of strangers, especially foreign refugees fleeing a monster like Hitler. Largely innocent of the European battles over various forms of socialism, and softened up to a certain extent by the Roosevelt administration’s early, frank admiration of Mussolini as it tried to solve the economic crisis of the Depression, the American public was open to self-criticism.

The problem with the Frankfurt School scholars was that they arrived with ideological blinders—men of the Left fighting other men of the Left back in the old Heimat —and were unable to see that there was another, different world welcoming them in the United States if only they would open their eyes. (How, for example, could they hate California?) They appear not so much scholarly as simple, viewing American capitalism as a vast, deliberate, conspiracy against their own socialist ideas, when, in fact, their ideas were simply wrong, their analysis flawed, and their animus ineradicable. They were creatures of their own time and place, with no more claim to absolute truth than the man on a soapbox in Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park or the lunatic staggering down Market Street in San Francisco talking to himself. Everybody’s got a beef.

Unfortunately for us, these particular lunatics wound up at Columbia University after fleeing Nazi Germany, from which redoubt they injected their relativist poison into the academic bloodstream. Critical Theory effectively states that there is nothing — no cultural totem, institution, set of beliefs — that cannot and should not be questioned, attacked and destroyed. And they went right at the heart of what I call the ur-Narrative, the primal cultural underpinnings of western societies that in fact antedated organized religion. Like Satan in Paradise Lost, they sought not a kingdom of their own, but the diminishment of God’s creatures, Mankind.

For what we—in an increasingly secular West—misread as a political argument is, in reality, nothing of the sort. It is a literary argument, if we define literature properly not as “fiction” but as the expression of the soul of a people, in this case, of all people. Politics (which for many has come to replace sports as the subject of rooting interest par excellence) is merely its secondary manifestation, the generally tiresome litany of regurgitated policy prescriptions and bogus campaign promises that residents of the Western democracies routinely encounter today. But where once in our culture raged religious arguments (whose moral underpinnings were never in doubt), today we are concerned not simply with the details of a system of governance and social organization, but with the very nature of that system itself. In fact, at issue is the very nature of Western civilization itself and how it may be subverted to achieve a vastly different—indeed, opposite—end than originally intended. For one side has changed the meaning of the principal words in the debate, including “democracy,” “culture,” “civilization,” and “justice,” among others. The two sides speak different languages, but with a superficially shared vocabulary that serves as a means of deceit for one and confusion for the other.

Seduction, subversion, sedition—these are the tools of a creature we once called Satan, the Father of Lies, the loser of the Battle in Heaven. Yet he continues the fight here on earth with the only weapons at his disposal: man’s inherent weaknesses and zeal to be duped if the cause seems appealing enough. Chief among the weaknesses of Western man today are his fundamental lack of cultural self-confidence, his willingness to open his ears to the siren song of nihilism, a juvenile eagerness to believe the worst about himself and his society and to relish, on some level, his own prospective destruction.

Whether one views the combatants in the struggle between God and Satan ontologically, mythically, or literarily, God created man in his own image and likeness but chose to give him free will—a force so powerful that not even God’s infinite love can always overcome it. Thus given a sporting chance to ruin God’s favorites, the fallen Light-Bringer, Lucifer, picked himself and his fellows off the floor of the fiery lake into which they were plunged by the sword of St. Michael, and he endeavors each day not to conquer Man but to seduce and destroy him. As Milton’s Satan observes in Book One of Milton’s Paradise Lost:

The mind is its own place, and in itself

Can make a Heav’n of Hell, a Hell of Heav’n.

What matter where, if I be still the same…

To reign is worth ambition though in Hell:

Better to reign in Hell, then serve in Heav’n.

Satan himself, however, has no need for servants in Hell, as God does in Heaven; he is instead satisfied with corpses on earth.

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Love is a battlefield

Love is a battlefield

Media folks have long viewed the New York Times as something akin to the Kremlin back in the heyday of its beloved Soviet Union. Times-watchers, like Kremlinologists, collect signs, signals and portents about what actually is taking place within the grim fortress near Times Square. So the recent brouhaha over Mrs. Clinton’s emails has brought Timesology roaring back to the fore:

Four days after a major error in a story about Hillary Clinton’s emails, the New York Times has published an editors’ note laying out what went wrong. The note, published late Monday night, said The Times’ initial story was based on “multiple high-level government sources,” but acknowledged that as the paper walked back its reporting, corrections were slow to materialize, and substantial alterations “may have left readers with a confused picture.”

The original story was published Thursday night. It initially claimed federal inspectors general had requested a criminal investigation into Clinton’s email use during her tenure at the State Department. Over the next few days, the story had numerous changes, including that the investigation request was for a “security” referral, which is far short of a criminal investigation. In addition, Clinton was no longer named as a target.

As careful readers have noticed, there is a proxy war going on inside the Times regarding the Dowager Empress of Chappaqua. On one side is the Obama administration, most likely in the person of Valerie Jarrett, furiously leaking damaging information about Mrs. Clinton during her disastrous tenure as secretary of state; on the other are the die-hard aging Clinton partisans (the Times once was filled with them) who are quick to rise to her defense. As the newspaper noted in its “correction”:

The Times reported online Thursday night (and in some print editions Friday) that the inspectors general for the State Department and the intelligence agencies had sent a referral to the Justice Department requesting a “criminal investigation” into whether Mrs. Clinton “mishandled sensitive government information” on the email account. That article was based on multiple high-level government sources.

“High-level government sources” — whoever could that be? The Clinton camp immediately swung into action.  As the CNN article linked above notes:

The Times quickly came under intense scrutiny for both getting the story wrong and failing to indicate changes had been made. Earlier Monday, Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet acknowledged that readers had been “whipsawed” by the changes. “We should have explained to our readers right away what happened here, as soon as we knew it,” he said. But Baquet stopped short of blaming the reporters or editors involved. ”You had the government confirming that it was a criminal referral,” he said. “I’m not sure what they could have done differently on that.”

So now you know whose side Baquet is on. Back to the Times‘s “Editors Note” –

Shortly after the article was published online, however, aides to Mrs. Clinton contacted one reporter to dispute the account. After consultation between editors and reporters, the first paragraph was edited to say the investigation was requested “into whether sensitive government information was mishandled,” rather than into whether Mrs. Clinton herself mishandled information. That type of substantive change should have been noted immediately for readers; instead, a correction was not appended to the article until hours later.

On Friday, another question arose — whether the investigation being sought was a “criminal” inquiry. As other news organizations followed up on The Times’s report, the Justice Department confirmed to them that a “criminal” investigation had been requested. Officials also gave that description again to Times reporters who were rechecking their initial story. But later in the day, the Justice Department and the inspectors general said that the request was not a “criminal referral” but rather a “security referral,” meant to alert the F.B.I. about a potential mishandling of classified information. It was not clear how the discrepancy arose. In addition, the inspectors said they discovered that four emails out of a sample of 40 they examined contained classified information, although it was not marked as such.

Take that, Mrs. Clinton. As I noted in a Tatler post when the story first broke, “The Times understands something about Hillary the rest of the media, which generally has the attention span of a dog, does not: there is no end to the amount of mischief she can get up to, and get away with, if she lies through her teeth, appears to ‘cooperate’ and then drowns the investigators in an ocean of legalisms and ‘process’.” The last thing the Clintons needed at this point in Hillary!’s stumbling “camapaign” is a criminal inquiry into the activities of a woman who, let’s face it, gives ample reason for concern in the “criminal” department.

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The United States of Thoughts and Prayers

July 20th, 2015 - 7:23 am
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It is a measure of how far this country has fallen that last week’s murders of American soldiers on American soil were greeted with little more than an apologetic shrug and the usual anodyne bromides — when it should have been met with cries of outrage, instant deportations and swift retribution somewhere in the ummah as an object lesson to holy Muslims everywhere that the U.S. is no longer to be trifled with. But no — righteously vengeful America has entirely disappeared, the victim of a prolonged, century-long assault on the country’s ethics, ethnic makeup, self-confidence, religion and institutional beliefs; in short, a war on everything that makes a country a country.

But to fight back now, after decades of political correctness, no matter what the provocation, would be rude. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt told a shocked American public that the war would be prosecuted until Japan was brought to its knees.

No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory. I believe I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make very certain that this form of treachery shall never endanger us again.

Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces – with the unbounding determination of our people – we will gain the inevitable triumph – so help us God.

Meanwhile, in response to the latest Muslim atrocity, President Obama went on vacation to New York City to fund-raise and for some “down time” with his daughters. Oh yes, and the Empire State Building was lit up Muslim green to “celebrate” the end of Ramadan, a “holy” month during which (if you’ve ever seen some of them in action) they fast during the day and then stuff themselves silly after sundown.

Mark Steyn has some characteristically pungent words to say about all this impotent weeping:

I’m afraid the makeshift memorials of flags and other patriotic memorabilia that have sprung up on the edge of the police tape depress the hell out of me. A no doubt sincere veneration for the military apparently can only express itself with a feeble passivity that is a large part of the problem. This isn’t a time for the bumper-sticker bromides of “We salute our heroes/Thank you for your service/We support our troops”. Among the dead are men who waged a bloody and hard-fought battle to retake Fallujah …only to come home and die unarmed in a crappy shopping mall at the hands of a halfwit fanatic whose family had been under the leisurely money-no-object scrutiny of the bloated security apparatus for years.

A Chinese-made teddy bear from Wal-Mart is not an appropriate reaction. Righteous anger is. And there’s not a lot of evidence of that. At that parking-lot memorial, the public seems to discern that such anger is no longer an approved sensibility – whereas a teary generalized sadness gets plenty of media coverage. This is the same media, by the way, that, after a couple of perfunctory questions about Chattanooga, asked Josh Earnest for more details about the “father-daughter weekend” President Obama is currently enjoying in New York. Golly, you’d almost get the impression they’re really not that sad at all.

Screw the cakes and balloons. We who did not know them cannot mourn them: That is for their friends and family. The nation’s duty is to avenge them – so that they did not die in vain.

How did we get this way? Next month, Encounter Books (whose editor, Roger Kimball, is a colleague here at PJ Media) will publish The Devil’s Pleasure Palacemy analysis of (among other things) the Frankfurt School of Marxist “philosophers” (in reality, cultural vandals with a chip on their collective shoulder) and their coordinated assault on western Christian civilization. If you want to know where and how the sapping of the United States of America began, this is the book for you. Here’s a small taste of my thesis:

The Frankfurt School sucker punched American culture right in its weak solar plexus. Americans have always been sympathetic to an alternative point of view, sympathetic to the underdog, solicitous of strangers, especially foreign refugees fleeing a monster like Hitler. Largely innocent of the European battles over various forms of socialism, and softened up to a certain extent by the Roosevelt administration’s early, frank admiration of Mussolini as it tried to solve the economic crisis of the Depression, the American public was open to self-criticism.

The problem with the Frankfurt School scholars was that they arrived with ideological blinders—men of the Left fighting other men of the Left back in the old Heimat of their homeland—and were unable to see that there was another, different world welcoming them in the United States if only they would open their eyes. (How, for example, could they hate California?) They appear not so much scholarly as simple, viewing American capitalism as a vast, deliberate, conspiracy against their own socialist ideas, when, in fact, their ideas were simply wrong, their analysis flawed, and their animus ineradicable. They were creatures of their own time and place, with no more claim to absolute truth than the man on a soapbox in Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park or the lunatic staggering down Market Street in San Francisco talking to himself. Everybody’s got a beef.

Flying their customary false flag of “tolerance,” the Frankfurt School injected the poison of moral relativism into the American body politic. From and through them flowed all the major crackpot, anti-human bad ideas of 19th and 20th centuries, including sexual license (Wilhelm Reich), hatred of existing institutions (Herbert Marcuse) and even the twelve-tone system of musical composition (Theodor Adorno), which temporarily killed the Romantic impulse in music and emptied concert halls across Europe and America until the Minimalists — including Steve Reich, Philip Glass and John Adams — came along and destroyed them.

The Frankfurt School’s principal gifts, however, were Critical Theory — the notion that everything could and should be attacked and brought down — and Political Correctness, which gave a “moral” cover to the destruction they so fervently advocated. As Lenin — as evil a man who ever lived — said to Maxim Gorky:

But I can’t listen to music often, it affects the nerves. One wants to say pleasant stupidities and stroke on the head the people who, living in this dirty hell, can create such beauty. And today it is impossible to stroke anyone on the head—they bite off your hand, and it is necessary to beat heads, beat them ruthlessly, although we, ideally, are against any sort of violence against people. Hmmm, the task is diabolically difficult.

“Diabolical,” indeed. But Lenin was only the beginning.

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Trump, with Henry Stern, in 1986 at the Wollman Rink

Trump, with Henry Stern, in 1986 at the Wollman Rink

Before Donald Trump became a celebrity, before he became The Donald, even before he was regularly pilloried in the pages of the old Spy magazine as a “short-fingered vulgarian,” New Yorkers knew his name thanks to one thing in particular. Not the in-and-out-of-bankruptcy real estate empire he inherited, or his flamboyant love life, but the Wollman Rink in Central Park. And while I think he has little chance of winning the Republican nomination (is he even a Republican?), mostly thanks to the fixed-fight aspect of the GOP nominating process under the auspices of the junior wing of the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Party, I do think his largely interchangeable opponents underestimate his appeal at their peril.

What’s the Wollman Rink, you ask? It’s a skating rink at the south end of Central Park that, like just about everything else in New York City, had fallen into decrepitude by the 1970s — the stinking, filthy New York City immortalized in such films as Death Wish and The French Connection. In 1980, the city announced it was closing the popular spot for renovations that were to last a couple of years; by 1986, the rink was still “under construction,” costs had soared to over $12 million, and the work that had been done was faulty; the rink had come to symbolize the futility of government at all levels. Up stepped Trump with a challenge to mayor Ed Koch: let him take over the rink and he would have the work completed in a few months and the place open to the public before the end of the year.

He did. Here’s how it went down, as chronicled in the pages of the New York Times.

May 31, 1986

Donald J. Trump has offered to take over reconstruction of the trouble-plagued Wollman Memorial Skating Rink in Central Park, to have it open by this winter and to operate it at no profit to himself.

The Koch administration has agreed to consider Mr. Trump’s proposal. ”This offer could be very helpful, but we must be very careful,” said Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern. He declined to elaborate, but other administration officials indicated that questions about potential profits, and the lack of competitive bidding should Mr. Trump proceed, would have to be resolved.

The flamboyant developer made his offer in a ”Dear Ed” letter to Mayor Koch dated May 28. ”For many years I have watched with amazement as New York City repeatedly failed on its promises to complete and open the Wollman Skating Rink,” he wrote. ‘Should Take No More Than 4 Months’

”During this six-year period,” he said, ”I have constructed major hotels, apartment buildings and, in 26 months, Trump Tower, a highly sophisticated and complex mixed-use building containing shopping, offices and apartments. Building the Wollman Skating Rink, which essentially involves the pouring of a concrete slab, should take no more than four months time.” Calling it ”unacceptable” that the city now wants another two years to rebuild Wollman, Mr. Trump offered to pay for the construction of a new rink, lease it from the city at ”a fair market rental” and then run it.

Naturally, this sent the bureaucracy into complete panic. But, to his credit, Koch gave the gig to Trump.

June 6, 1986:

At this point in the long saga of the skating rink that no one could fix, city officials and the developer Donald J. Trump essentially agree on how to rebuild Central Park’s Wollman Rink. They also agree on how long the job will take, barring further disaster. If the city does it, it will take 18 months. If Mr. Trump does it, it will take four months. Why? The difference, said Alan M. Moss, the head of capital projects for the Parks and Recreation Department, is that the city must adhere to a long list of procedural safeguards – which have only become more prominent since the eruption of the municipal corruption scandal – and that it cannot offer contractors the incentives that Mr. Trump, as a private businessman, can.

Mr. Moss said he believed that ”by keeping a close watch on our schedule,” the city could open the rink by November 1987. But he saw no reason why Mr. Trump, who in a barbed letter to the Mayor last week offered to take over construction and operation of the rink, could not have it ready a year earlier. Mr. Trump, not disputing that, makes some additional observations: ”I know how to build. I’m going to take the approach of leadership. I’m going to get good contractors and push the hell out of them. They’ve worked for me and they want to continue working for me. They want to prove you can do things in this city. ’You can always get the job done through sheer force of will,” he concluded.

To all of New York’s delight, Trump finished the job a month ahead of schedule. You can read the complete timeline of events here.

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St. Francis, the Pope’s role model

There’s a lot of fuss being made in some conservative quarters about Pope Francis’s forthcoming encyclical about “man-made climate change.” Let’s stipulate at the outset that “climate change” is a lot of hooey that conceptually survives not the slightest bit of rational scrutiny and that the “global warming” industry is mostly a scam to enrich a few Leftists and bring down the West economically while helping Madre Gaia not one whit. So what?

Pope Francis will call for an ethical and economic revolution to prevent catastrophic climate change and growing inequality in a letter to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics on Thursday. In an unprecedented encyclical on the subject of the environment, the pontiff is expected to argue that humanity’s exploitation of the planet’s resources has crossed the Earth’s natural boundaries, and that the world faces ruin without a revolution in hearts and minds. The much-anticipated message, which will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops, will be published online in five languages on Thursday and is expected to be the most radical statement yet from the outspoken pontiff. However, it is certain to anger sections of Republican opinion in America by endorsing the warnings of climate scientists and admonishing rich elites, say cardinals and scientists who have advised the Vatican.

Here’s my advice: ignore it. Yes, it plays into the nutty fears in some precincts that the pope is a crypto-Latin-American Marxist liberation theologist (he’s actually just another Italian, who happens to have been born in Argentina, a demographically European country) who hates capitalism and is suspiciously nice to Muslims. News flash: the pope is Catholic. Which is to say he is concerned with the spirit, not the flesh; with the betterment of all mankind, not just Catholics; that he takes Church teaching seriously and that — surprise! — the first Jesuit pope follows consciously in the footsteps of his namesake and fellow Italian, St. Francis of Assisi. The quintessential rich kid who gave it all away and lived a life of extreme simplicity among God’s creatures is, in fact, the patron saint of the environment:

Slowly companions came to Francis, people who wanted to follow his life of sleeping in the open, begging for garbage to eat…and loving God. With companions, Francis knew he now had to have some kind of direction to this life so he opened the Bible in three places. He read the command to the rich young man to sell all his good and give to the poor, the order to the apostles to take nothing on their journey, and the demand to take up the cross daily. “Here is our rule,” Francis said — as simple, and as seemingly impossible, as that. He was going to do what no one thought possible any more — live by the Gospel. Francis took these commands so literally that he made one brother run after the thief who stole his hood and offer him his robe!

As I wrote here at PJ Media earlier:

Almost from the beginning of his papacy, there has been a lot of nonsense written about Pope Francis. On the Left, there has been much wishful thinking about how the former Cardinal Bergoglio is really a man of progressive sympathies, while on the Right, there is a deep suspicion that the first Jesuit pope is basically a “liberation theologian” who is not a particular fan of capitalism and may in fact be a sneak commie symp. Much of what the pope is said to have said turns out to be either a mistranslation or completely imaginary, the result of having reporters either ignorant of Catholicism or openly hostile to it reporting or commenting on the pope and the Church. So who is he? To quote the old joke, “Is the Pope Catholic?” You bet he is. To look at him any other way is simply wrong.

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That was the title of Hillary Rodham’s senior thesis back in her Wellesley College days, a reference to the work of Saul Alinsky, the Frankfurt School‘s most noxious avatar and a man of still-outsized influence today, having intellectually (if you can call it that) bequeathed us not only the Dowager Empress of Chappaqua but Barack Hussein Obama, both spawned in the petri dish of Alinsky’s Chicago. It was a theme she returned to yesterday, on the occasion of the “relaunch” of her creaky “candidacy” for the Democrat presidential nomination next year. Fight, fight, fight — the Democrats, it seems, always want to fight. But who are they fighting for? And who are they really fighting?

The short answer is: they’re not fighting at all. Since LBJ, the Pansy Party never met a war it wanted to fight to win, only a war it could use for domestic political advantage in its eternal quest for personal enrichment and societal destabilization. Reagan ended the Cold War with a decisive victory over the Soviet Union (which collapsed in defeat), but the Democrats have managed to resuscitate it via the “reset” button. Bill Clinton was content to make bellicose noises, and fire off a few missiles in the general direction of the Middle East during Saddam Hussein’s moments in the desert sun, and let bin Laden escape when his lawyers overruled his military men. The Democrat defeatist disease even infected two Republican presidents, Bush pere et fils, both of whom knew how to pick a fight in “Iraq” but neither of whom knew how to properly end it.

Rule of thumb: the war is over when the other side stops shooting.

Ah, but rhetorically, it’s a different story over on the increasingly deracinated, psychotic Left. Since they live in a pan-sexual academic world of signs and portents and nuances and microagressions, everything is a threat, and therefore the only proper response is to “fight.” Their candidates rage against the inequities of the vast conspiracy against special snowflakes that is the real world, and promise “safe spaces” for their precious charges — even though Democrats have been in the White House every year since 1993, with the exception of the Bush II eight-year interregnum. If they could run against themselves, they would and, practically speaking, they do. Because, you see, There Is Only the Fight.

Consider Hillary!’s latest blather, delivered in the”pleasant little police state” of Roosevelt Island (formerly Welfare Island, formerly Blackwell’s Island) in the middle of the East River, nicely eviscerated in this piece by Olivia Nuzzi at the Daily Beast:

Clinton formally declared her candidacy for the Democratic nomination almost exactly a month ago, in April, with a 2:15 video. “Everyday Americans need a champion,” she said then. “And I wanna be that champion.”

Since that time, Clinton has not been heard from much as she has traveled around, talking to some voters and ignoring questions from the media and trying to seem as normal as possible despite being anything but. Saturday’s event was designed to highlight her champion-ness by contrasting her with the New Deal Democrat, whose Four Freedoms she has attempted to mimic with her own “Four Fights,” the economy, families, campaign finance and national security.

In a royal blue blazer and glowing blonde hair, Clinton took to the stage to deliver her Four Fights speech. At times she sounded robotic, like the pol who won’t take a position without poll testing it as she has been accused at others some humanity crept through. All the while, though, it was hard to shake the feeling that she was already president—of this island.

Clinton borrowed from Elizabeth Warren and her primary competitor Bernie Sanders in her tough-talk about no-good corporations and the need for campaign finance reform. About the latter, she said, “If necessary, I will support a Constitutional amendment to undo the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United.”

Well, of course she would, since that decision was in direct response to a documentary about her. (See above video.) There’s nothing better to bring out the fight in a Clinton than to be personally attacked, have the case go all the way to the Supreme Court — and lose.

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I'm thinking...

I’m thinking…

Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the Grand Old Party and take them out. If conservatives — who are just now realizing the extent of the bait-and-switch double-cross that the loathsome Mitch McConnell and Weepy John Boehner have pulled on them — must now make common cause with their “friends” across the aisle in the interests of recapturing the Party of Reagan, so be it. Sometimes the enemy of my enemy really is my friend.

That the Republican Establishment has lined up in lockstep with President Obama really tells you all you need to know about the minority wing of the Permanent Bipartisan Fusion Government — ever bigger, ever more secretive, ever more disdainful of American sovereignty and of the voters who put them in office. The measure has already passed in McConnell’s Senate, so its fate is now up to Boehner’s House:

House leaders, confident but not yet certain they have the support to pass sweeping trade legislation, are aiming to bring the package to a floor vote by the end of this week — even as they rush to resolve a last-minute hangup over how to pay for aid to displaced workers. The vote to grant President Barack Obama fast-track authority to negotiate a massive Pacific Rim trade deal will be extremely tight by all accounts. Senior aides and lawmakers in GOP leadership are intent on scheduling the vote at the moment they believe they have the votes locked up — ideally by Friday, to spare supportive lawmakers the possibility of another weekend of attacks by trade foes back in their districts.

“We’re doing very well, we’re close,” Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who’s been at the forefront of the GOP effort to round up support, said Tuesday of the current vote count.

Just what you want to hear from the man who was the party’s most recent vice-presidential nominee: the same guy who let a grinning, jabbering, gibbering Joe Biden smack him around the ring in their one debate and never once threw a punch.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has been holding small meetings with lawmakers in his office as he seeks to maximize Republican “yes” votes — and he huddled late Tuesday with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to address some unresolved spending and procedural issues. House Republicans will hold a closed-door meeting on Wednesday morning at which the trade vote is expected to be a major topic of conversation.

The White House, meanwhile, is working with House GOP leadership to solidify Democratic support. House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s operation has developed a whip list of at least 22 Democratic supporters of so-called Trade Promotion Authority, and they have worked with the White House and Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) to identify other lawmakers believed to still be in play.

Sources involved in canvassing for support say from 25 to 30 Democrats must vote for the package for it to pass. Ryan, Scalise and Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the chief deputy majority whip, have persuaded many undecided GOP lawmakers to support the legislation.

This is what comes of putting bloodless men of no imagination in charge of important American institutions. For Boehner especially, a measure of success (proof that Republicans can “govern”) is how much legislation he can push through the sausage machine at the behest of his betters. This is the part of politics he likes:

Behind the scenes, Boehner and Ryan are consulting with Pelosi, the White House and other senior Democrats to avoid capping Medicare spending to pay for financial assistance to workers who lose their jobs to free trade, aid formally known as Trade Adjustment Assistance…. A GOP leadership aide said “there is more work to be done, but this is process.

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The hallmark of all fascist systems is their relentlessness. Like the Terminator, they cannot be satisfied, they cannot be negotiated with, they cannot be persuaded of the evil of their cause (in fact, that’s a feature, not a bug). They just keep coming until either they are destroyed — or they destroy you. Case in point:

A different health care issue has emerged for Democrats, in sync with the party’s pitch to workers and middle-class voters ahead of next year’s elections. It’s not the uninsured, but rather the problem of high out-of-pocket costs for people already covered. Democrats call it “underinsurance.”

After paying premiums, many low- and middle-income patients still face high costs when trying to use their coverage. There’s growing concern that the value of a health insurance card is being eaten away by rising deductibles, the amount of actual medical costs that patients pay each year before coverage kicks in. ”I think it’s going to be the next big problem,” said Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., a congressional leader on health care.

“We’ve got some 17 million more people covered … but they can’t access the care they seem to be entitled to,” McDermott said. “It costs too much to use the care. That’s the deceptive part about it.” Since virtually all U.S. residents are now required to have health insurance by President Barack Obama’s health care law, McDermott said Democrats have a responsibility to make sure coverage translates to meaningful benefits.

In other words, having achieved their thug victory with Obamacare, they’re now ready to move on to the “next big problem,” because for these people there is always a next big problem — another expansion of government, another bite at your freedom. Now they’ve come up with the word “underinsurance” as they discover that their magic bullet of Obamacare is — wait for it — flawed and, with a brutish hack like McDermott in the lead, needs to be “fixed.”

But this is always the way things are on the Left: there is nothing wrong with “reform” that more “reform” won’t cure, until the thing or institution being “reformed” bears absolutely no resemblance to what it once was. None of this has anything to do with “health care,” of course; rather it is simply another way to expand government and subordinate the people using the bogus Leftist “virtue” of “compassion” — an expansion of the federal governments powers far beyond those enumerated in the Constitution. It is therefore unconstitutional and, worse, un-American.

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