Belmont Club

The Forever Man

As the New Unionist pointed out after the fall of Berlin Wall, “socialism hasn’t failed — it hasn’t been tried yet”.  And when the new attempt at true socialism fails, then repeat and rinse.  Since it’s the duty of all true socialists to try and try again two things are needed. Unlimited money and unlimited time.

The first was provided in principle by the Constitutional Amendment whose 100th anniversary falls this year. “The Sixteenth Amendment (Amendment XVI) to the United States Constitution allows the Congress to levy an income tax without apportioning it among the states or basing it on the United States Census. This amendment exempted income taxes from the constitutional requirements regarding direct taxes, after income taxes on rents, dividends, and interest were ruled to be direct taxes in the court case of Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co. (1895). The amendment was adopted on February 3, 1913.”

Taxes in principle give true believers all the money in the world.

This leaves only the problem of time. Jonathan Zimmerman, professor of history and education at New York University, argues in a Washington Post guest op-ed that President Obama should be allowed to run for more than two terms to accomplish his important work.

In 1947, Sen. Harley Kilgore (D-W.Va.) condemned a proposed constitutional amendment that would restrict presidents to two terms. “The executive’s effectiveness will be seriously impaired,” Kilgore argued on the Senate floor, “ as no one will obey and respect him if he knows that the executive cannot run again.”

I’ve been thinking about Kilgore’s comments as I watch President Obama, whose approval rating has dipped to 37 percent in CBS News polling — the lowest ever for him — during the troubled rollout of his health-care reform. …

Or consider the reaction to the Iran nuclear deal. Regardless of his political approval ratings, Obama could expect Republican senators such as Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and John McCain (Ariz.) to attack the agreement. But if Obama could run again, would he be facing such fervent objections from Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)?

Probably not. Democratic lawmakers would worry about provoking the wrath of a president who could be reelected. Thanks to term limits, though, they’ve got little to fear. …

Ratified by the states in 1951, the 22nd Amendment was an “undisguised slap at the memory of Franklin D. Roosevelt,” wrote Clinton Rossiter, one of the era’s leading political scientists. It also reflected “a shocking lack of faith in the common sense and good judgment of the people,” Rossiter said. …

Barack Obama should be allowed to stand for re election just as citizens should be allowed to vote for — or against — him. Anything less diminishes our leaders and ourselves.

That solves the problem of time.

True believers live in their version of Eternity, a state in which they are simultaneously in a hurry but never in any rush. Should Obamacare fail, try and try again. Should the deals with enemies fall through, try and try again. Progress is measured by the peculiar metric of socialist metaphysics.

Former CIA chief Michael Hayden told CNN, for example, that the United States has all but conceded Iran has the right to enrich uranium. “We have accepted Iranian uranium enrichment,” Hayden said when asked about the agreement reached last week between Iran and the so-called P5+1 – the United States, Britain, China, Russia, France and Germany.”

One would have thought the agreement was all about Iran not enriching uranium. But that would be to miss the point. As Kenneth Pollack explains in Foreign Affairs, the Geneva deal was about “enriching trust”. “The nuclear deal with Iran was about trust, not verification.”

In that sense, the interim deal is only important to the extent it helps to produce that ultimate, comprehensive agreement. Fortunately, the deal has real value as a confidence-building measure.

Simply put, the United States and Iran don’t trust each other. That is understandable given how they have both behaved in the 34 years since the Islamic Revolution. Mistrust is so deeply rooted on both sides that it has often threatened to make any serious negotiations impossible.

What is most significant about the current deal is its potential to overcome that mutual mistrust.

The same can be said of Obamacare. Complaints that Obamacare is cancelling health insurance policies, condemning people to restricted provider networks, or raising premiums are wide of the mark. Obamcare is not about doctors and medicine. It’s about a Better Future. And the two are not the same.

Curing patients, rolling out websites, or stopping the enrichment of uranium are mere practicalities, whose failure or success are no adequate measures of the true goals of the Grand Enterprise. The real victories of that endeavor are ineffable, such as finding the conservative evil that lurks in insidious places. Recently the Atlantic identified a new hotbed of perversity: “The 33 Whitest Jobs in America”.

White Jobs 1

White Jobs

Quite apart from the fact this list of lily-white jobs is not identical to that provided by the BLS, the larger puzzle is what it signifies. What purpose would it actually serve to create diversity among veterinarians? Perhaps we need more education to find out. But one possibility is that it represents Infinity. After every Trust has been enriched, every Policy has been canceled, there remains a task undone; for there are still the 33 Whitest Jobs in America left to conquer.

Whatever that Great White Whale signifies it must be hunted to extinction even if it takes all the taxes that can be generated by the 16th Amendment and all the time made possible by the repeal of the 22nd. And so we haunt the oceans of the earth to the end of recorded time.

Harlan Ellison’s classic opening monologue in Demon With a Glass Hand gives us a sense of the timeless Socialist drama, of Gilgamesh as Obama.

“Through all the legends of ancient peoples — Assyrian, Babylonian, Sumerian, Semitic — runs the saga of the Eternal Man, the one who never dies, called by various names in various times, but historically known as Gilgamesh, the man who has never tasted death … the hero who strides through the centuries …”

And he strives, through the terms and through the centuries.  But though he fails, and fails, and fails … we must never forget to hold his beer.

Did you know that you can purchase some of these books and pamphlets by Richard Fernandez and share them with you friends? They will receive a link in their email and it will automatically give them access to a Kindle reader on their smartphone, computer or even as a web-readable document.

The War of the Words for $3.99, Understanding the crisis of the early 21st century in terms of information corruption in the financial, security and political spheres

Rebranding Christianity for $3.99, or why the truth shall make you free

The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99, reflections on terrorism and the nuclear age

Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99, why government should get small

No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99. Fiction. A flight into peril, flashbacks to underground action.

Storm Over the South China Sea $0.99, how China is restarting history in the Pacific

Tip Jar or Subscribe or Unsubscribe