Innocent Actor in Sovereign’s Snuff Film

Herbert Spencer

Herbert Spencer

Innocent Actor in Sovereign’s Snuff Film

The Garner Affair – Ilana Mercer rests her case

Despite its elegant simplicity, the libertarian law is difficult to grasp. This I realized pursuant to the publication of “Eric Garner: 100% Innocent under Libertarian Law.” Some of the smartest, polymathic readers a writer could hope for were easily bullied into believing that by failing, first, to submit to the sovereign and question Him later—Eric Garner had undermined some sacred social compact.

A small-time peddler is killed-by-cop for selling single smokes on a New York street corner. Yet so befuddled were readers over the application of libertarian natural law to the Garner case that they insisted against all evidence that Garner’s was an understandable death by “civil disobedience.”

“I certainly would applaud those who resist truly immoral laws (like ordering someone to commit torture),” equivocated one writer, “but I am leery to suggest massive civil disobedience of petty regulations which may, in fact, just give rise to more oppressive government to ‘restore law and order.’”

Yes, the poor sod who dared to purchase and dispose of a couple of loose smokes had committed “massive civil disobedience.” Fearing the Sovereign’s vengeance, some of his fellow citizens felt obliged to calibrate just how daringly Garner should have deviated. Did he raise his voice excessively? Did he wave his arms too energetically? Yet these are all utilitarian, not principled, considerations.

Other readers beat on breast. They were hopelessly “torn” between my verdict—Garner was an innocent actor in the sovereign’s snuff film—and the proposition that Garner had an obligation to prostrate himself before the law to his overlord’s exacting specifications. By failing to do so, Garner had somehow invited his fate.

“Torn” is a word that better comports with images of Gloria Swanson or Marlene Dietrich in mid-swoon. What in bloody blue blazes is there to be “torn” over, the right of a man to stand on the curb with a few “loosies” in-hand, and stay alive?

In claiming that Garner was innocent in natural law, I was—or so I was informed—guilty of implying that he had no moral obligation to obey state-enacted positive law. Woe is me—and woe betides that rascal who counselled that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Here’s the rub about the rudiments of libertarian law. While we all have ideas about what is moral and what’s immoral, libertarianism doesn’t! It has nothing whatsoever to say about morality per se. When libertarians say this or the other is wrong in libertarian law, they mean the following and the following only: unprovoked, an initiated aggression against B or his “legitimately owned” property – that’s it!

Libertarianism is thus concerned with the ethics of the use of force. This and this alone is the ambit of libertarian law.

The foundation of libertarianism is the non-aggression axiom. “The non-aggression axiom is the lynchpin of the philosophy of libertarianism,” explains Walter Block:

It states, simply, that it shall be legal for anyone to do anything he wants, provided only that he not initiate (or threaten) violence against the person or legitimately owned property of another. That is, in the free society, one has the right to manufacture, buy or sell any good or service at any mutually agreeable terms. Thus, there would be no victimless crime prohibitions, price controls, government regulation of the economy, etc.

The concept was unremarkable among 19th century classical liberals, who were Russell Kirk conservatives by any other name. Nowhere was the self-evident nature of natural law more evident than in the matter of Eric Garner. According to a “nationwide USA TODAY/Pew Research Center poll,” “Americans by nearly 3-1” agree the police officer was responsible for the death of Eric Garner.

What is immoral is not necessary illegal and vice versa. It is, arguably, immoral to legislate preferences in employment for certain employees, based on the concentration of melanin in their skin. Yet racial set-asides are perfectly legal in some precincts around the country. Conversely, it is utterly moral to sell an item that belongs to you, as Garner did. However, it was illegal for Garner to sell said items, even though he was in his moral right to trade.

Naturally, there are very many difficult moral issues over which natural-rights libertarians—as opposed to Benthamite, utilitarian libertarians—will argue. Abortion is an example. Based on the non-aggression law, some libertarians hold that abortion is legal in libertarian law, because a woman owns herself and may evict anything from her body. To punish her for exercising dominion over her own body, they claim, would be wrong—even if we think abortion immoral. Other natural-rights libertarians disagree with this position. They say that abortion is aggression against a living, non-aggressive, sentient being.

The debate is mired in morality. But it always returns to what should be legal or illegal in a truly free society: based on the non-aggression law, should we or should we not proceed with force—for that is what law is—against a woman for what she does to her body.

Law is force. Every time our overlords in DC legislate (unconstitutionally, for the most), they grant their gendarmes permission to aggress against an innocent citizen who’s been criminalized. Every new law and regulation licenses law enforcement to initiate mostly unjust, unprovoked force against an innocent, sovereign individual and/or his lawful property—an individual who has done harm to nobody.

Competition in a free society is not aggression. “Eric Garner was not violating anyone’s rights or harming anyone by standing on a street corner and peddling his wares.” The shopkeeper who sicced the cops on Garner had the right to pursue profits. He has no right to the profits he had before the competition arrived on the scene, not in a free-market.

Ultimately, libertarianism’s elegant minimalism as to what is lawful and what’s unlawful comports with the American idea of individual sovereignty, subject to limited, legitimate authority.

ILANA MERCER is a paleolibertarian writer based in the United States. She pens WND’s longest-standing column, “Return to Reason” and is a Fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies. She is a Quarterly Review Contributing Editor. Ilana’s latest book is Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa. Her website is www.IlanaMercer.com. She blogs at www.barelyablog.com

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Eric Garner 100% Innocent under Libertarian Law

Herbert Spencer, author of The Man versus the State

Herbert Spencer, author of The Man versus the State

Eric Garner 100% Innocent under Libertarian Law

Ilana Mercer laments another death by cop

Eric Garner was doing nothing naturally illicit when he was tackled and placed in the chokehold that killed him. It can be argued, if anything, that Garner was being entrepreneurial. He had been trading untaxed cigarettes in defiance of the state’s “slave patrol” and “Comrade” Andrew Cuomo’s “Cigarette Strike Force,” in the words of liberty’s Don Quixote, William Norman Grigg.

Had Garner’s naturally licit trade not been criminalized by today’s Tammany Hall, he’d still be alive.

“Garner,” wrote Grigg, “had suffered years of pointless and unnecessary harassment by the costumed predators employed by the New York Police Department,” when he declared, minutes before he was killed: “Every time you see me, you want to mess with me! I’m tired of it! It stops today!”

Noted Grigg: Eric Garner’s exasperated proclamation ‘It stops today!’ is cognate with ‘Don’t tread on me.’

The killing of Eric Garner was caught on camera and uploaded to YouTube. A grand jury, however, failed to see what was as plain as day to everyone else as well as to the city medical examiner. An autopsy revealed that the Garner death was a homicide, brought on, July 17, by “compression of the neck and chest, along with Garner’s positioning on the ground while being restrained by police.”

The footage also shows that the cops who jumped on Eric Garner with such enthusiasm were oblivious to his repeated pleas for air. Neither was an attempt at resuscitation commenced once they realized Garner was unresponsive. Instead, the cops panicked, barking orders at observers to disperse.

Garner’s manner of death conjures the manner in which Carol Anne Gotbaum met her untimely demise, in 2008. Gotbaum, a petite, 45-year-old slip of a woman—she weighed 105 pounds—was likely asphyxiated in Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport by some corpulent cops. She had become distraught—not dangerous—after she was detained at the airport and not permitted to proceed to her destination. Unhinged, Gotbaum took off down the concourse hollering. She was quickly scrummed by meaty policemen, tackled to the ground, a colossal knee jabbed into her skinny spine. Gotbaum was then thrown in a holding cell, where she was shackled and chained to a bench. Minutes later Gotbaum was dead.

Her bruised body was autopsied. As inevitably as water spiraling down a plughole, the police were exonerated. Famous forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden said: “… the most likely cause of death has to do with asphyxia and could be a result of too much pressure on her chest when they were putting on the handcuffs and the shackles.”

Carol Anne Gotbaum was white. Cops are equal-opportunity offenders. Factoring into account the disproportionate representation of blacks among the population of law-breakers, cops aggress against whites and blacks more or less equally. (Except that whites don’t riot and loot.)

Not to be conflated are the cases of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, of Ferguson fame. While the evidence of police wrongdoing in Garner’s death is incontrovertible, the reverse is true in Brown versus Officer Darren Wilson.

As the evidence shows, Michael Brown initiated aggression. He had aggressed against the store keeper and the policeman, who protected himself from this rushing mountain of flesh. In libertarian law, the individual may defend himself against initiated aggression. He may not initiate aggression against a non-aggressor.

Eric Garner, on the other hand, had aggressed against nobody. Whereas Brown was stealing cigarillos; Garner was selling his own cigarettes. The “law” he violated was one that violated Garner’s individual, natural right to dispose of his own property—“loosies”—at will.

In libertarian law, Garner is thus 100 percent innocent. For the good libertarian abides by the axiom of non-aggression. When enforcers of the shakedown syndicate came around to bust him, Garner raised his voice, gestured and turned to walk away from his harassers. He did not aggress against or hurt anyone of the goons.

To plagiarize myself in “Tasers ‘R’ Us,” “Liberty is a simple thing. It’s the unassailable right to shout, flail your arms, even verbally provoke a politician [or policeman] unmolested. Tyranny is when those small things can get you assaulted, incarcerated, injured, even killed.”

Again: Garner had obeyed the libertarian, natural law absolutely. He was trading peacefully. In the same spirit, he turned to walk away from a confrontation. Befitting this pacific pattern, Garner had broken up a street fight prior to his murder.

The government has a monopoly over making and enforcing law— it decides what is legal and what isn’t. Thus it behooves thinking people to question the monopolist and his laws. After all, cautioned the great Southern constitutional scholar James McClellan, “What is legally just, may not be what is naturally just.” “Statutory man-made law” is not necessarily just law.

Unlike the positive law, which is state-created, natural law in not enacted. Rather, it is a higher law—a system of ethics—knowable through reason, revelation and experience. “By natural law,” propounded McClellan in “Liberty, Order, And Justice,” “we mean those principles which are inherent in man’s nature as a rational, moral, and social being, and which cannot be casually ignored.”

Eric Garner was on “public” property. Had he been trespassing on private property, the proprietor would have been in his right to remove him. However, Garner was not violating anyone’s rights or harming anyone by standing on a street corner and peddling his wares—that is unless the malevolent competition which sicced the cops on him has a property right in their prior profits. They don’t.

ILANA MERCER is a paleolibertarian writer based in the United States. She pens WND’s longest-standing column, “Return to Reason” and is a Fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies. She is a Quarterly Review Contributing Editor. Ilana’s latest book is Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa. Her website is www.IlanaMercer.com. She blogs at www.barelyablog.com

 

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Beyond Multiculturalism

 People of Australia

Beyond Multiculturalism

John Press proposes a new paradigm

 

CULTURISM AND CULTURISTS

‘Culturism’ is the opposite of multiculturalism. Whereas multiculturalists believe we should celebrate our national diversity, culturists, (those who advocate culturism), believe that we should seek unity by assimilating citizens into our traditional majority culture.

Multiculturalists do not believe America has a traditional majority culture. For them, Muslim history is just as American as European history. Furthermore, if culturists assert that America is not a Muslim nation, multiculturalists call them ‘racist.’ Culturists believe America has a unique traditional culture, as well as a right to protect and promote it.

As such, using the word ‘culturism,’ (positing an alternative to multiculturalism), and identifying oneself as a ‘culturist’ are political acts. Culturists hope that these words will spread, counter multiculturalists’ abuse of the epitaph ‘racist,’ and reframe political debate within the West.

This article will first consider the rhetorical uses of the words ‘culturism’ and ‘culturist.’ After that, it will look at culturist domestic and foreign policy. Therein, it will contrast culturism with individualism and globalism. Lastly, the article will suggest academic uses of the terms. However, the public need neither agree with every policy suggestion, nor understand every nuance, to deploy these words.

CULTURIST VERSUS RACIST

Multiculturalists’ theoretical basis and rhetorical strategy have easily exploitable weaknesses: while urging the public to ‘celebrate diversity,’ the multiculturalists’ positions assume a thin definition of cultural diversity; this manifests itself in their calling interlocutors “racist” whenever they mention a negative aspect of cultural diversity.

Culturists understand that cultural diversity is very wide and creates measurable effects. Some cultures celebrate ‘honor killing;’ not all cultures celebrate freedom of speech; not all cultures celebrate education; some cultures shame teenage pregnancy, others celebrate it. Cultural values vary in significant ways, many of which Westerners cannot celebrate.

When pressed about such issues, multiculturalists often deny that negative attributes are actually parts of the cultures under discussion. For example, President Obama insisted that the Islamic State has nothing to do with Islam. For multiculturalists diversity is limited to food, fashion and festivals. At their cores, multiculturalists tell us, all cultures cherish the same ‘humanitarian’ values.

When culturists bring up cultural problems, multiculturalists frequently call them ‘racist.’ By deploying the words ‘culturist’ and ‘culturism,’ we can steer the conversations back to the topic of cultural diversity, “We are not discussing race. We are discussing culture. I am a culturist.” The words ‘culturism’ and ‘culturist’ by overtly referring to culture help to counter attempts to label discussions of cultural diversity as racist.

Culture and race sometimes overlap. But they are essentially different. Islam, for example, is not a race. Muslims come in all colors. People cannot change their race but they can change their culture. Frank discussions of culture can improve all of us.

Many people of conscience understand that blindly celebrating all diversity is problematic. Simultaneously, they sincerely despise racism and understand its divisive nature; they do not wish to be associated with racism or racists. As a result, when witnessing anti-social behavior they remain silent. The term ‘culturist’ will allow them to re-enter polite public discourse.

Furthermore, invoking culturist logic will give social institutions finer tools of analysis. Social scientists routinely assert that cultural groups’ disparate levels of academic and economic achievement prove western societies are racist. This fuels intensive searching for “hidden” institutional racism. This analytic mode tarnishes the reputation of Western nations and builds minority resentment.

Cultural behaviors provide a more direct and quantifiable explanation for educational and economic achievement disparities than institutional racism does. For example, on average, Asians spend more time studying than other ethnic groups. Studying is a measurable cultural variable. Measuring and publicizing this variable can help ameliorate achievement disparities.

A black American named Scott Hampton recently published a book entitled Culturism: The Real Reasons People Dislike African-Americans- And Race Has Nothing to do With It. Hampton’s book systematically criticizes black underclass behavior and then provides cultural corrective measures. Thus, Culturism empowers minorities.

Racism is ill informed and divisive. When discussions degenerate into unfair accusations of ‘racism,’ they are constricted. And, as cultural diversity is real and important, our society and institutions, as well as minorities themselves, need to be able to discuss it. Utilizing the words ‘culturism’ and ‘culturist’ facilitates such discussions.

A CULTURIST DOMESTIC POLICY

Western nations have worked hard to end ‘racial profiling.’ However, such profiling often happens on a cultural basis; it is, in fact, ‘culturist profiling.’ Racial profiling – targeting persons solely on the basis of their skin color – would make no sense. But, cultural diversity being both real and statistically demonstrable, culturist profiling is rational.

For example, based on statistics, we should employ culturist profiling in airport security. Young men named ‘Muhammad’ should receive extra scrutiny. People named ‘Muhammad’ are overwhelming Muslim. Young Muslim males commit the vast majority of terrorist attacks. Elderly Korean women have never committed terrorist acts; they should be passed through airport security quickly.

The preceding culturist policy would be statistically based. We could refine the criterion if we find a statistical correlation with any other demographic information: for example, having visited certain countries. And this policy is not essentialist. If, in the future, Muslim terrorist acts cease and elderly Korean women begin committing acts of terrorism, the policy should be reversed.

Culturist profiling would be challenged on the basis of individual rights. In addition to challenging multiculturalism, culturism provides a counter-balance to decontextualized individualism. What follows is a necessarily short discussion of the interaction between individual rights and culturist rights.

Historically, America has given culturist concerns standing in the law. For example, zoning laws prohibit strip clubs from being near elementary schools; we do not broadcast pornography on public airwaves. In such rulings, the rights of the individual get balanced against the requirements of a healthy culture. Using such a lens, we can see that America has traditionally been a culturist nation.

Individual rights are increasingly used to protect anti-social behavior. However, if Western society does not survive, even fundamental individual rights will cease to exist. Philosophers and jurists should discuss whether culturist measures, such as restricting foreigners from staffing airport security positions, help our culture safeguard itself more than it violates our traditions. But aggressive, uncompromising individualism is unreasonable, dangerous, and counter to our culturist traditions.

While a multiculturalist curriculum aims at making western students ‘global citizens,’ a culturist curriculum would steer them towards being proud Westerners. Multiculturalists object that by implication, culturist curriculum denigrates Old World cultures. Culturists note that Third World cultures create the poor economies, lack of mobility and violence that people flee from. Multiculturalists counter that no cultures are better than any others. Culturists counter that such attitudes not only undermine patriotism, they undermine all attempts at inculcate values.

A CULTURIST FOREIGN POLICY

All nations in the world are, in practice, culturist. Iranian schools promote Iranian nationalism. Japan’s schools lie about their World War II behavior. Mexican schools present Mexico’s side of the Mexican–American War. In much of what follows, as with the domestic curriculum suggestion, the culturist position is simply the international default position.

Culturist foreign policy assumes ‘Clash of Civilizations’ reasoning: the West, the Muslim world, and China are vying for power and dominance. Herein the culturist position counters the widely asserted ‘globalist’ position as well as the concomitant ‘human rights’ regime. The globalist – human rights position frequently unilaterally violates Western sovereignty and imperils our existence. Western culturism prioritizes Western interests.

The West can use the concept of ‘human rights,’ to aggressively shame non-Western nations. But, we must be aware that, in fact, human rights are ‘Western rights.’ China believes neither in democracy nor freedom of speech. Iran does not embrace freedom of religion. If the West falls, no other nation will promote human rights. To protect, human rights, we must protect the West. Such rights are best secured by referring to them as ‘Western rights.’

Concomitantly, culturists reject many of America’s military actions in the Middle East. Among other justifications, America is supposedly in Iraq and Afghanistan to turn them into Western-style, progressive democracies, with freedom of speech, separation of mosque and state, and – eventually, presumably – rights for homosexuals and women. But culturists assert that not all cultures agree on fundamental ‘human’ values; the nature of Islamic culture arguably dooms our Middle East projects.

Culturists respect sovereignty more than globalists do. Iran being an Islamic theocracy is not the West’s concern. However, Iran’s developing nuclear arms and Middle Eastern nations harboring terrorists threaten the West. Therefore, culturists would consider bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities as well as any nation harboring terrorists. However, the goals would be disarmament, punishment and deterrence. Culturist logic precludes any subsequent ‘humanitarian’ actions aimed at rebuilding the Islamic nation and transforming it culturally.

Returning to domestic policy, culturists would drastically limit immigration from Muslim nations. Additionally, culturists would curtail Mexican immigration into the United States due to the population’s concentrated numbers, historical border dispute with the United States and low levels of educational achievement. These immigration policies do not violate any international rights. Just as there is no international right to be in China, there is no international right to be in Western nations.

As other civilizations, the West has a culture and a right to protect it. Western rights only protect Westerners and our culture. Just as we have no right to build churches in Saudi Arabia, Western rights do not give Saudi Arabia the right to build mosques in the West. We need not accept political asylum seekers as neither China nor Iran do. For those who advocate ‘human rights,’ making sure the West is safe and solvent best protects such rights. Protecting the West must take precedence over unilaterally imposed globalist human rights concerns.

ACADEMIC CULTURISM

Culturism can cause paradigm shifts in academia. For example, American historians frequently characterize the notion of Manifest Destiny, whereby Anglo-Americans sought to spread across the northern western hemisphere, as ‘racist.’ However, illiteracy, poverty and unstable democracies are endemic across Latin America. Protestant-based culture is conducive to first world, progressive national outcomes. Invoking a culturist perspective, we can reframe many of America’s historical polices as positive examples of rational culturism, rather than confirmation of our shameful, irrational and racist tendencies.

Culturism also seeks to integrate academic disciplines. Biologists and anthropologists can tell us what culturist policies are implied by group protection and promotion behaviors. Political philosophers can debate whether these suggested policies promote our traditional sense of responsible liberty more than they violate it. And psychologists can measure the actual cultural impact of such policies. Thus, universities can cooperate on culturist goals.

CONCLUSION

Many nuances of culturism have not been included in this discussion. The book, Culturism: a Word, a Value, Our Future, details how culturist thought illuminates and coordinates academic disciplines and suggests more policies. Likewise, Scott Hampton’s aforementioned book demonstrates how minorities might apply culturist thought to improve their communities. And Edwin Dyga’s recent article, ‘The Future of Australian Conservatism,’ examines culturism’s place in Australian political life. Yet, you need not understand all of the implications of culturism to call yourself a ‘culturist.’

As the growth of multiculturalism attests, much political discourse and policy takes shape around rhetorical catch phrases. ‘Culturism’ and ‘culturist’ cost nothing to deploy. Yet, in countering multiculturalism, they could reap great political dividends. A single media figure using these words could quickly make them ‘go viral.’ Challenge multiculturalism. Take action. Spread the words today.

John K. Press, Ph.D. is the author of Culturism: a Word, a Value, Our Future. He currently teaches at Namseoul University in South Korea. www.culturism.us has more information.

 

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Fight the Classroom Idiocracy with the Literary Canon

book_for_book_lovers_by_mabelpines13-d5aa50t

Fight the Classroom Idiocracy with the Literary Canon

Ilana Mercer educates her masters

The fraught relationship between state and society carries over into classroom and town hall. Something of a commonplace in police state USA is the scene in which a citizen is arrested for speaking his mind to a public official, pedagogue or politician.

Our story begins with a dad, William Baer, a lawyer, I believe, who resides in New Hampshire, the state whose motto is “Live Free or Die.” For speaking out of turn at a school board meeting, Baer was cuffed and carted out of a forum of educrats and obedient parents, herded together at the Gilford high school. An arrest and a charge of disorderly conduct followed—Baer, after all, had exceeded the talk time allotted to him.

“It was basically, you make a statement, say what you want and sit down,” the dad told a local television station. “‘Sit down and shut up’ … [is] not how you interact with adults.”

In the background to the online YouTube clip of the event one can hear the dulcet voice of a female emcee, delighting in the petty abuse of power over a powerless parent.

Mr. Baer was protesting a novel which was required reading in his 14-year-old daughter’s English class: “Nineteen Minutes” by home girl Jodi Picoult. (One of Australia’s finest writers, also the copy editor of Into-the-Cannibals-Pot-Lessons-for-America-from-Post-Apartheid-South-Africa, this writer’s last book, relates that every time he gets on a train or a bus, there seems to be some female or three reading a Jodi P. “masterpiece.”).

Easily more offensive than the salacious sex scene on page 313 of Picoult’s novel is the rotten writing throughout:

“‘Relax,’ Matt murmured, and then he sank his teeth into her shoulder. He pinned her hands over her head and ground his hips against hers. She could feel his erection, hot against her stomach. ”

… She couldn’t remember ever feeling so heavy, as if her heart were beating between her legs. She clawed at Matt’s back to bring him closer. “‘Yeah,’ he groaned, and he pushed her thighs apart. And then suddenly Matt was inside her, pumping so hard that she scooted backward on the carpet, burning the backs of her legs.

… (H)e clamped his hand over her mouth and drove harder and harder until Josie felt him come.

“Semen, sticky and hot, pooled on the carpet beneath her.”

The book’s titillating topics—bullying, school shootings, teen sex and pregnancy—verge on the political. Inculcating kids early on with these cumbersome, constricted constructs serves to stunt young minds. The young reader is intellectually disemboweled, as he is steered into thinking along certain narrow, politically pleasing lines.

Look, the value each one of us places on consumer goods and cultural products in the marketplace is subjective. This Subjective Theory of Value, so central to the excellent Austrian School of Economics (my own school of thought), however, should not be confused with the objective standards that determine the quality of a cultural product.

You might prefer to purchase one of Toni Morrison’s God-awful tomes, but the objective fact is that she’s no match for Shakespeare and never will be. Likewise, based on complexity, skill, mastery and intricacy—it is immutably true that B.B. King is no match for Johann Sebastian Bach.

Irrespective of popular preference, there are objective, universal criteria that make some cultural products superior to others.

The ignoramuses present at the school board meeting are beyond help. Not so the fine Mr. Baer’s daughter.

Schools will puff their reading lists with substandard titles of mass appeal. Parents need not do the same. This list is for William Baer—and all parents who wish to feed young minds with richly textured, inspiring, gripping, superbly-written works that will forever after remain unmatched*:

  • “Ivanhoe” by Sir Walter Scott
  • “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas
  • “Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe
  • “Treasure Island” by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • “Arabian Nights” by many Arabic geniuses
  • “A Tale of Two Cities” by Charles Dickens
  • “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens
  • “Oliver Twist” by the same genius
  • “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain
  • “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain
  • “Tom’s Midnight Garden” by Philippa Pearce
  • “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” by C. S. Lewis
  • “The Last of the Mohicans” by James Fenimore Cooper
  • “Les Misérables” by Victor Hugo
  • “Around the World in Eighty Days” by Jules Verne
  • “The Black Stallion” by Walter Farley
  • “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë
  • “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Brontë
  • “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen
  • “Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen
  • “Mansfield Park” (ditto)
  • “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
  • “Middlemarch” by George Eliot
  • “Silas Marner” by George Eliot
  • “Daniel Deronda” by George Eliot
  • “How Green Was My Valley” by Richard Llewellyn
  • “The Good Earth” by Pearl Buck
  • “1984,” by George Orwell
  • “Animal Farm” by George Orwell

To spice things up for the precocious young reader, do add Edgar Allan Poe, Roald Dahl’s “Kiss Kiss” and “The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole.”

Without the literary canon, young minds are doomed to become as dim and sclerotic as those of the educators who assign them the second rate reading material aforementioned.

The literary canon is the best antidote to the educational Idiocracy.

*EDITOR’S NOTE: Ilana Mercer has asked me to add the complete works of Balzac, Flaubert, Melville, Shakespeare and Tolstoy to this edifying list

ILANA MERCER is a paleolibertarian writer based in the United States. She pens WND’s longest-standing column, “Return to Reason” and is a Fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies. She is a Quarterly Review Contributing Editor. Ilana’s latest book is Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa. Her website is www.IlanaMercer.com. She blogs at www.barelyablog.com

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Two poems by Marcus Bales

mid-life crisis

SUDDENLY

Suddenly the kids, the car,

the house, the spouse, the local bar,

the work, have made you what you are.

What doesn’t chill you makes you fonder.

 -

Should you stay or should you go?

The thrill you’re looking for, you know,

could be right here at home, although

What doesn’t thrill you makes you wander.

-

If, avoiding common truth,

you dye your hair and act uncouth,

will you find your misplaced youth –

really, will you if you’re blonder?

 -

It doesn’t matter if you’re strong

or if you sing a pretty song,

something, and it won’t be long,

will come to kill you, here or yonder.

-

You’re human in the human fray,

and choose between the shades of grey.

No matter if you go or stay

 -

what might fulfil you makes you ponder.

……………………………..

……………….

Girl Reading Charles_Edward_Perugini_ak1

VILLANELLE: I LIKE YOU THE BEST

Of all my readers I like you the best.

You’re sexily well-read, and very smart –

Oh, you’re the one; the rest are just the rest.

-

Though most of them will think I speak in jest,

It’s you, you know, who’s read into my heart:

Of all my readers I like you the best.

-

I’m feeling better now that I’ve confessed

That it’s for you I struggle with my art.

You are the one — the rest are just the rest.

-

I see by your reaction you had guessed

I liked you more, and liked you from the start;

Of all my readers, I like you the best.

-

You get me — and I like how you’re impressed

That I know Horace comes before Descartes;

Ah, you’re the one. The rest are just the rest.

-

I like you very much — I’d be distressed

At anything that kept us two apart.

Of all my readers I like you the best;

Yes, you’re the one: the rest are just the rest.

Marcus Bales lives and works in Cleveland, Ohio

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Ferguson: thankful for the Founding Fathers’ legal legacy

Golden Lady Justice, Bruges, Belgium

Ferguson: thankful for the Founding Fathers’ legal legacy

The American race riots – Ilana Mercer gets real

Grand-jury deliberations were conducted behind closed doors. The decision was announced at night. It was too dark. Jurors were given too much information to absorb. The St. Louis County prosecuting attorney was not sufficiently involved in the proceedings. The latter, Bob McCulloch, was too “cold” in sharing the hard facts of the case with the public. His remarks were excessively long or redundant all. The police were too passive in their response to the pillage that followed the unpopular decision.

These are a few of the complaints voiced by the “Racism Industrial Complex (RIC)” against a grand-jury decision in the shooting death of Michael Brown, in Ferguson, Missouri. A quorum of ordinary Americans has determined that Officer Darren Wilson was not “the initial aggressor,” that the officer “acted in self-defense”; that he “was authorized to use deadly force,” in a situation in which he found himself being punched—and then bull-rushed by a demonic-looking mountain of flesh, Michael Brown.

Brown’s interactions with Officer Wilson would have been fueled by a consciousness of guilt which likely amplified the young man’s aggression. For prior to being shot, a surveillance video had surfaced of Brown roughing up and robbing a shopkeeper. The “Big Kid” was no gentle giant; he was a brute. At the time of their fateful encounter, Officer Wilson suspected Brown of robbing a convenience store.

“The Racism Industrial Complex (RIC),” explains the term’s originator Jack Kerwick, “include the majority of journalists and commentators in corporate media; most academics in the liberal arts and humanities departments of America’s colleges and universities; entertainers; and politicians. In concert, they labor fast and furiously to ensconce within the American consciousness the idea that blacks and other racial minorities are perpetual victims of ‘white racism.’”

Commensurate with the “RIC” narrative, Michael Brown’s blackness is mentioned always in mitigation; Wilson’s whiteness as an aggravating condition.

Right away, the governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon, promised “a vigorous prosecution.” Feeling the heat from the head honchoes of the “Racism Industrial Complex” (Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama), Nixon had sought to indict the white officer as a gesture to the Brown family. It is alleged, moreover, that Missouri’s governor and the DC “RIC” are behind the meek response to the November riots, underway across the country.

I hate to say it, but these riots are an object lesson as to what transpires in certain chaotic communities when the police practice peaceful resistance.

Let’s face it: had St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch, a Democrat, opted for an open, probable-cause hearing before a judge, as opposed to convening a grand jury, the “Racism Industrial Complex”—forced to face a decision not to its liking—would be decrying the despotism of this single judge. They’d be calling for a jury of the people’s representatives, as bequeathed by the Founding Fathers, in the 5th Amendment of the Bill of Rights. The grand jury institution, as legal analyst Paul Callan has explained, “was actually created by the Founders to provide a wall of citizen protection against overzealous prosecutors.”

Had the decision been revealed in the AM, the RIC herd would have argued for a night-time reveal.

Had Mr. McCulloch meddled with the jury, he’d still be accused of rigging the outcome against Brown.

Had McCulloch hand-picked the evidence for the grand jury, instead of providing the 12 jurors with access to all of it—a “document dump,” brayed Big Media—he’d have been accused of concealing information.

Had the cops moved to curtail the crowds from “venting” over “legitimate issues,” caused by “the legacy of racial discrimination”—they’d have been convicted of police brutality.

As to the affective dimension, McCulloch’s alleged frigid demeanor: a silent majority whose “culture” is being crowded out still finds such WASPY mannerisms comforting and familiar; a sign of professionalism, dignity, decorum and rationality. Profoundly alien and disturbing was the wretched excesses of Michael Brown’s mother (Lesley McSpadden) and her new husband (Louis Head)—both of whom have had brushes with the law—howling “Burn This Bitch Down.”

Regrettably, at the time of the shooting, this libertarian column had expressed the opinion that Brown was the victim of murder-by-cop http://www.ilanamercer.com/phprunner/public_article_list_view.php?editid1=783. I was wrong. Far from the militarized mob, a remarkable process has unfolded in Ferguson. Praise for it belongs to Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch and a grand jury selected by a judge, in May of 2014, long before the shooting occurred.

McCulloch’s remarks were impressive. They revealed the exhaustive scope of the search for truth undertaken by a grand jury that was left to its own devices. Since the text of the statement has not been disseminated, I’ve summarized some of it for interested Americans. Particularly brilliant is the manner in which McCulloch co-opted the DC “RIC” in support of the rule of law, in Ferguson, Missouri:

St. Louis county police conducted an extensive investigation at the crime scene together with agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, at the direction of Attorney General Eric Holder. Together they sought out witnesses and gathered additional information over a period of three months, beginning on the day of the shooting death of Michael Brown. Fully aware of the growing concerns in parts of the community that the investigation and review of the death would not be full and fair, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch decided to hand over to a grand jury all physical evidence related to the case, all individuals claiming to have witnessed any aspect of the events and any and all related matters. The grand jury comprised of 12 members of the community.

Federal investigators worked closely with local law enforcement, with the St. Louis county police and persecutor and Attorney General Holder and his department vowing to follow where the evidence led. These federal investigators shared information with St. Louis county investigator and vice versa. In addition, the Department of Justice conducted its own investigation and performed its own autopsy. Yet another autopsy was carried out by the Brown family and all information was shared and collated. All testimony before the grand jury was immediate forwarded to the DOJ. Eyewitness accounts were compared with the physical evidence. Many witnesses contradicted their own statements and the physical evidence.

As an example of witness testimony that contradicted the physical evidence McCulloch offered numerous statements that claimed to have seen Officer Wilson stand above Michael Brown and fire many rounds into his back. Others claimed that Officer Wilson shot Mr. Brown in the back as he was running away. Once the autopsy was released showing that the deceased did not sustain injuries to his back, statements to that effect were retracted. Others admitted they had, in fact, not witnessed the shooting.

All statements were recorded and presented to the grand jury before the autopsy results were released. There was no “document dump,” as some media claimed. Two of Bob McCulloch’s assistants presented the information to the jury in an organized, systematic manner. All jurors heard every word of testimony and examined every item of evidence presented. McCulloch described a proactive and engaged group working since August 9th to do their due diligence. In the course of 25 days, the jury dissected over 70 hours of testimony and listened to 60 witnesses. They heard from three medical examiners and many other DNA and forensic experts. They examined hundreds of photographs and looked at various pieces of physical evidence. They were instructed in the law and presented with five possible indictments. Their burden was to determine, based on all the evidence, if probable cause existed to determine that a crime was committed and Daren Wilson committed that crime. There is no question that Officer Wilson caused the death of Michael Brown by shooting him. However the law authorizes an officer of the law, and all people, to use deadly force to defend themselves in certain situations. The grand jury considered whether Officer Wilson was the initial aggressor, or whether he was authorized to use deadly force in the situation and acted in self-defense.

They were the only people who examined every piece of evidence and heard every witness. They debated among themselves. After an exhaustive review of the evidence the grand jury deliberated further over two days to arrive at their final decision. And it is that no probable cause exists to file any charges against Officer Darren Wilson. They returned a “No True” bill on each of the five indictments. All the evidence, witness statements included, was made public.

Not even the unethical, ongoing, subversive interventions from the attorney general of black America and the president of black America, on the side of the Brown family, swayed a grand jury guided by the search for truth. For fact-finding is the essence of the law—the law is not an abstract idea of imaged social justice that exists in the arid minds of the perpetually aggrieved.

Unfortunately, “the Racism Industrial Complex” (RIC), also sees law as a weapon, to be co-opted to its ends.

We should give thanks for a prosecuting attorney and grand jury who grasped the evidently archaic idea of ordered liberty. This is a good outcome for American justice.

ILANA MERCER is a paleolibertarian writer based in the United States. She pens WND’s longest-standing column, “Return to Reason” and is a Fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies. She is a Quarterly Review Contributing Editor. Ilana’s latest book is Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa. Her website is www.IlanaMercer.com. She blogs at www.barelyablog.com

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ENDNOTES – these he has loved

Mussorgsky, by Ilya Repin

Mussorgsky, by Ilya Repin

ENDNOTES – these he has loved

Stuart Millson presents a seasonal selection

A few favourite recordings… a very personal view, and an end-of-year indulgence

I have always found that the month of December, and in particular, the Christmas holiday, is a good time to settle down and listen to old favourites from my CD and vinyl collection; to retrieve recordings which were bought – and played – with great enthusiasm in the 1990s and early-2000s (Nielsen overtures, a Khachaturian symphony, film music by Georges Auric, Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition) and then put back upon the shelves – to be superseded by the next, fresh batch of purchases and review copies. So here is a selection of well-loved items from my collection; personal, indispensable favourites which I would like to share with readers and recommend – either as great interpretations, or as unusual or even eccentric versions which convey (to quote the title of an old Radio 4 programme about music) “the tingle factor”.

To begin with – a most unusual version of Mussorgsky’s evergreen, much-arranged, endlessly-recorded Pictures at an Exhibition. At the 2004 Proms, Leonard Slatkin (the then Chief Conductor of the BBC Symphony Orchestra – and I was there watching and listening) presented the work, but far away indeed from the familiar terrain of the Ravel orchestration. The wander through the gallery began, not with the famous noble trumpet announcement, but with a bewildering and surreal playing of the theme on percussion – the whole orchestra taking the idea up soon after. The orchestrator was one Byrwec Ellison (born 1957), leader of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, and an unusual and unexpected “shaper” of this familiar music. Once out of Ellison’s part of the gallery, we move through a compelling variety of realisations, to the immense finale – The Great Gate of Kiev (a musical portrait of a piece of architecture which was never built, except in music). Nothing prepared me for what I heard in the Royal Albert Hall that night; and the Warner Classics disc (2564 61954-2), taken from the Radio 3 broadcast, still makes me take a deep breath – for “The Great Gate” comes slowly into view through a dark-sounding, deep-voiced male chorus intoning an ancient Russian chant, and then shines out gloriously through clarion brass, shimmering cymbal clashes, and the galvanising, stunning entry of the Royal Albert Hall organ. “The Great Gate” came courtesy of Douglas Gamley, a composer of music for the Hammer Horror film series, and a man clearly capable of the highest, most dramatic expressions of musical impact and drama. The applause from those 2004 prommers certainly adds to the satisfaction that you will find when listening to this remarkable disc.

More Russian romanticism, this time from the Swedish label BIS – and their sublime Rachmaninov cycle, which reaches (at least, for me) a high-point in the form of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra reading of Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony (BIS-CD-1279). Their conductor here is Owain Arwel Hughes CBE, an experienced and passionate advocate of this repertoire, who summons the spirit of the composer in every moment and movement: the melancholy, yearning opening, the hurtling, glittering cascade of notes and vivid, energetic action across the strings in the second movement (evoking from my memory a night-trip by train, many years ago, with a bright sky of stars visible from the carriage). Then comes the famous Adagio, and the elemental barrage of orchestral affirmation at the end – in which Arwel Hughes almost seems to hold one of the last great phrases in mid-air – in suspension – as if to prolong and enhance the grandeur and glory of the finale for just one or two more moments. By any standards, this is an exciting and deeply-felt interpretation.

From the large-scale, to the introspective, I love the delicacy and mysterious tones of Debussy’s chamber works, in particular, his Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp in three movements, and Cello Sonata (two movements) written at the height of the Great War – works most emphatically of the early 20th century; early, moderate modernism, with the composer’s tenderness felt throughout. Debussy wrote of these works, that they were “… not so much for myself but to give proof, however small it may be, that even if there were thirty million Boches, French thought will not be destroyed.” The Athena Ensemble brings great understanding and classical elegance to these enigmatic creations on a Chandos CD from the mid-1980s – the CD booklet noting the comments of the musicologist Edward Lockspeiser, who viewed the Flute, Viola and Harp sonata as in fact a “triptych of single conception.”

In the days before CDs, I enjoyed the chamber works of Debussy on a vinyl record which I purchased in France in 1981 – the record bearing the label “Musicdisc – Richesse Classique” (catalogue number MU 209). It would take a serious record collector a long time to find this rare item, but I have seldom heard either the sonatas, or the String Quartet (the main item), played so authentically – although the recording quality is not of the highest standard, and is even a little constricted and “crackly”. Fortunately, the wording on the record sleeve was translated into English, although again, not terribly well! However, the writer (unnamed) seems to summarise the record and the repertoire…

“As to the sonatas, which writing extremely refined seems to seal an inner mystery, they constitute the musical will and testament of Debussy. The first-rate interpretation in the most trifling lights and shades is of performers as famous as Bernard Galais and Claude Helffer, specialists of the twentieth century music.”

From the impressionism and warmth of Debussy, to the lands of Northern Lights, legendary warriors and mythical swans: a 1997 recording on the Finlandia label of well-known works by Sibelius, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis – not with his customary band, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, but with the accompaniment of the clear, clean, lithe-sounding Royal Stockholm Philharmonic.

Orchestral mists summon up the spirit of En Saga, The Swan of Tuonela, and the players give their national and emotional-sounding best in the heroic Finlandia, and the Op. 112, Tapiola. But best of all on the collection is the lonely seascape, The Oceanides, a commission from the Norfolk Music Festival in America, at which the composer appeared and conducted on the 4th July 1914. Originally entitled Rondo of the Waves, The Oceanides is the only tone-poem by the composer not to refer explicitly to a Finnish or Scandinavian myth, but in its nine minutes builds to a great tumult every bit as exciting as En Saga. And so perfectly does it encapsulate the sense of grey seas, skies and supernatural beings materialising and dematerialising in the play of the waves (the Oceanides are sea-nymphs and mermaids), that the work almost seems to bring on a sense of loss in the heart of the listener, when the score darkly ebbs away into the orchestra’s deeper registers, slowly drawing to its close.

In the 1970s, The Oceanides appeared on a classic and vintage BBC film about the life-cycle of the Atlantic salmon, presented by the angler and naturalist Hugh Falkus. Sibelius’s music was used in the final elegiac moments, as the life of the ocean-going salmon ends in the head-waters of the river of its birth. The film – deeply absorbing and beautifully shot – is still available on specialist productions, and I am sure that anyone, including the non-countryman, would find it stimulating and moving, not least because of its use of Sibelius.

Nature-worship formed a very important part of the character of Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), and alongside his Third and Fourth symphonies, his large-scale work for orchestra and two soloists, Das Lied von der Erde (a symphony in all but name, perhaps) represents themes of man and mortality, farewell and withdrawal, but also the exuberance of youth. All of these ideas flower within a heady, regenerative setting of Nature: the sections of the work bearing names such as: Drinking Song of Earth’s Sorrows, The Lonely Man in Autumn, The Drunkard in Spring etc.

Mahler set Chinese poetic texts, taken from a collection of by Hans Bethge, known as The Chinese Flute – although the atmosphere of ancient gardens in the Orient and Chinese music occasionally appears and floats across a typically Austro-German symphonic landscape, a character brought out by the rasping, “dark-brown” brass of the Dresden Staatskapelle on Deutsche Grammophon (DG 453 437-2), under the brilliant Italian conductor, Giuseppe Sinopoli (known in London during his 1980s’ tenure with the Philharmonia). Of all my Mahler collection, Das Lied comes – it seems to me – closer and closer to the meaning of life.

On the subject of Mahler, the English conductor Frank Shipway died earlier this year – a figure that appeared to be something of an “outsider” in British musical life, despite having many great gifts as a conductor, and an appetite for large-scale works – Berlioz, Mahler, Shostakovich. I saw Shipway conduct on two occasions: once at a Sunday night concert of Russian romantic repertoire at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley (in about 1980), and at the Royal Festival Hall in 1984, at the helm of his half-professional, half-amateur London orchestra, the Forest Philharmonic, still based in Walthamstow. In the obituaries which appeared, it seems that the conductor’s maverick manner and his Karajan-like “authoritarianism” provoked mixed feelings from musicians. Sir Colin Davis, for example, was unsure about engaging him at the Royal Opera House, because of an almost 19th-century demeanour (Shipway was said to sweep in like a figure from another age); but for international maestro Lorin Maazel, the Englishman had great potential. He was invited to the U.S., to Maazel’s world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra, and critics reported that: “The night belonged to Shipway”.

However, despite these successes, only a few recordings seem to survive of Shipway’s work, none greater perhaps than a splendid account of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony, recorded in Watford, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (available on TRP 096). To many, this powerfully-realised rendition (the RPO delivering all the sturm und drang associated with Mahler) was a version that came out of the blue – a surprise to many writers and observers. On the RPO’s own label, it remains a unique and treasured part of my Austro-German collection – and I recommend it to anyone who thrills to the great “darkness-to-light journey” of this immense symphonic statement by Mahler – the absolute romantic.

Finally, no Christmas edition of a magazine’s music section is complete without a mention of that central seasonal tradition – Handel’s Messiah. Today, of course, we delight in so many period-instrument renditions: a lighter, darting, more astringent baroque sound, that is so fashionable with audiences. But it is worth remembering the performance style of the 1950s and ‘60s, the years of Sargent and Boult. Decca’s 1961 extracts from Messiah, with the London Symphony Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Sir Adrian Boult (433 637-2) – especially in the final, Worthy is the Lamb – seems to set the heavens ringing, with a solid, well-enunciated, half-operatic, half-English cathedral style of choral singing that would swallow most baroque performances. It is almost as if The Dream of Gerontius has found its way into Messiah, such is the majesty and grandeur of Sir Adrian’s reading. This is a stirring, vintage recording – and a CD which should provide much enjoyment for this season of the year.

STUART MILLSON is QR’s classical music critic

 

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Twenty Years After

Antonín_Dvořák

Twenty Years After

Leslie Jones joins a birthday party

The Henschel Quartet with Martino Tirimo, a recital given at St John’s Smith Square on Tuesday 11th November 2014 and broadcast live on Radio 3. Programme; Beethoven String Quartet no 5 in A major, op. 18, no 5: Dvořák, Quartet no 12 in F major, op 96, B, 179 (“American”): Brahms Piano Quintet in F minor, op. 34

The Henschel Quartet are Christoph Henschel, Daniel Bell (violins), Monika Henschel (viola) and Mathias Beyer-Karlshøj (cello)

The Beethoven String Quartet in A major is an early work composed when Beethoven was only thirty. It was something of a surprising choice to open the 20th anniversary concert of this inimitable ensemble. Beethoven at this juncture had not yet discovered his distinctive voice and the composition is indebted to his mentors Haydn and Mozart, especially the latter. Indeed, several of Mozart’s ideas from his own Quartet in A major are incorporated here.

That said there is some satisfyingly intricate material for the lead violin, in this instance Christoph Henschel, especially in the first movement and some compelling exchanges between the violins, viola and cello (including a sort of hurdy-gurdy effect) as they alternately take up the main theme. The performers took full advantage of these opportunities to excel. Yet as Maestro Tirimo observed during the interval on Radio 3, the Henschels are nothing if not a serious, self-disciplined outfit – they are not interested in easily earned applause.

The overall mood of this short piece is upbeat but it becomes decidedly more introspective and pensive in the third movement. There are subtle anticipations here of the lacerating sadness of some of the master’s late chamber music, notably in the String Quartet in A minor, op.132 (“A convalescent’s sacred song of thanks to the Godhead, in the Lydian mode”). The playing throughout was faultless and despite the work’s disconcertingly abrupt end, the performance received warm applause from the attentive audience in this atmospheric venue.

The Henschels obviously took inordinate care to balance this programme. Given that the distinguished pianist Martino Tirimo had elected to perform the epic Brahms Quintet, with its echoes of Brahms’ Piano Concertos, the Henschels second offering, Dvořák’s Quartet in F minor, constituted a welcome contrast. It is a much calmer journey than Brahms’ intense and emotionally exhausting expedition. “It’s lighter”, as Monika Henschel tersely put it.

Indeed, Dvořák’s evergreen Quartet has in places a lilting quality somewhat reminiscent of Mendelssohn’s stirring Scottish Symphony. As in the New World Symphony, Native American, African American and Bohemian colours are vividly evoked, as Martin Handley pointed out in his informative Radio 3 commentary.

Several wistful themes grace this plangent work, completed while Dvořák was staying with the Czech community of Spillville, Iowa, in the summer of 1893. They bespeak his heartfelt nostalgia for his native land. For despite the ample opportunities in New York for such supposedly typical Czech activities as pigeon fancying, train spotting and boozing (the composer was Director of the National Conservatory of Music there from1892-1895) he remained homesick.

“I am satisfied, thank God”, Antonin Dvořák reportedly remarked, on finishing this work. We humbly concur. It has always been a personal favourite.

Concerning Martino Tirimo’s performance in the Brahms Piano Quintet, this versatile pianist who excels across the piano repertoire clearly has a remarkable rapport with the Henschels.

I conclude with a quote from Johannes Brahms himself, “If there is anyone else whom I have not insulted, I beg his [or her] pardon”.

©

LESLIE JONES is the Editor of QR

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Don’t get “Grubered” by W’s Groupies

GW-Bush-in-uniform

Don’t get “Grubered” by W’s Groupies 

Ilana Mercer ruminates on the rise of executive power

On Fox News’ “The Five,” one female host energetically involved in genuflecting to George Bush turned to another, a former prosecutor and lingerie model, to solicit her “constitutional take”—those are shudder quotes—on President Barack Obama’s impending executive amnesty. A better constitutional authority on presidential powers than Kimberly G-string is Jonathan Turley, professor of law at George Washington University.

For some time, now, Turley, a liberal, has been warning of “the expansion of executive power,” even testifying—to no avail—on Capitol Hill, numerous times, to the rise of an “über-presidency,” in the person of Obama.

In what was a further twist of the screw for Democrats, the talented Turley was selected by House Speaker John Boehner “to represent [the House of Representatives] in a lawsuit against the Obama administration.” While the “suit challenges changes the administration made to Obamacare without congressional authorization,” as reported by the Powerline blog, it must, by logical extension, delve into the “shift toward the concentration of executive power” and the consolidation of the “imperial presidency.”

Still, the powerhouse conservatives at Powerline are already grumbling that Turley—”a hero of the left” during the equally violative George-Bush era—is too much of an extremist when it comes to “restricting presidential power.” Turley, you see, is nothing if not consistent. He has applied to Obama’s predecessor the same constitutional principles he is applying to Obama, and has made clear that the “imperial presidency” didn’t launch with President Obama. In particular, Turley has contended that Bush’s “counter-terrorism efforts were lawless and unconstitutional,” and that Bush committed war crimes.

At the time, the professor had fretted a lot over the cruelty of dunking Abu Zubaydah or placing bugs in the bug-phobic prison cell of this al-Qaida operations chief—hardly a violation of the natural law. Indeed, in Turley, the GOP has a stickler for the letter of the law, not the higher moral law. If anything, Turley’s torture tempest provided a cover for complicit journalists, jurists, politicians and pointy heads, who all skirted the real issue: the imperative to prosecute Bush, Cheney, Clinton and Kerry for invading Iraq and vanquishing an innocent people.

Tapping Turley to prosecute Obama’s overreach is a clever strategic move on the part of the Republicans. Powerline conservatives need not worry excessively about the liberal professor’s case against Bush’s enhanced interrogation methods. Torturing the torture issue served to throw the country off-scent, to the great advantage of the puppet master himself; it concealed an unjust war, waged by Bush with Democratic assent. Of this war crime, most Democrats were as guilty as Republicans.

Barack Obama’s cringe-factor has crescendoed—so much so that conservatives feel comfortable about dusting off an equally awful dictator, Bush 43, and presenting him and his dynasty to the public for another round. However, when James Madison spoke of “war as the true nurse of executive aggrandizement,” he was speaking not only of Obama.

“Speak softly but carry a big stick—the stick being executive power,” preached another Republican tyrant, Teddy Roosevelt. While Turley will be tackling the constitutional quagmire posed by Obamacare, immigration is the latest legislative stick with which Americans are being stuck.

Greg Gutfeld, the one and only neoconservative on that current-affairs show mentioned who entertains and occasionally edifies, is correct about the “broken” inchoate verbiage: “Our immigration system is broken” is a euphemism for the refusal to enforce immigration law (against certain ethno-racial groups). It is statist semantics; Orwellian Newspeak; a linguistic trick to lead Americans to believe urgent action is required.

The structure of the Obama argument for this Brownian legislative motion around immigration is that: 1. Congress has failed to do anything, ergo, He must do something. 2. Matters can’t be left as is, “broken.”

The premise for each is wrong:

On No. 1: From the fact that Congress has not passed an immigration bill—it doesn’t follow that one has to be passed.

On No. 2: That some sectional interests in the U.S. have bought or acquired special privileges and favors—doesn’t mean that all Americans need an immigration bill. (The New York Times has some ideas about the politics of immigration reform, which it did—surprise, surprise!—voice in “The Big Money Behind the Push for an Immigration Overhaul.”

Back on “The Five,” Georgie-Porgie groupie Dana Perino was waxing fat about “W’s” socialist-realism style paintings. W’s art is not quite “murderabilia”—”collectibles related to murders, murderers or other violent crimes”—but it is certainly the “artwork” of a mass murderer (ask ordinary, innocent Iraqis). No wonder the art of Bush Jr. has the same solipsistic, barren quality present in the paintings of John Wayne Gacy Jr.

gw-bush-painting-435x580

So: Don’t get “Grubered” by immigration illogic. And don’t get “Grubered” by GOPers who’re trying to rehabilitate their preferred tyrant.

 

ILANA MERCER is a paleolibertarian writer based in the United States. She pens WND’s longest-standing column, “Return to Reason” and is a Fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies. She is a Quarterly Review Contributing Editor. Ilana’s latest book is Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America from Post-Apartheid South Africa. Her website is www.IlanaMercer.com. She blogs at www.barelyablog.com

 

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GB Grill and Bar

_dsc6202

EpiQR

Epicurean expeditions with

Em Marshall-Luck

GB Bar and Grill

Address: Bermondsey Square Hotel, Tower Bridge Road, Southwark London SE1 3UN
Phone:020 7378 2456

The Shard dominates the street view on the approach to GB Grill and Bar in Southwark, typifying an area of south east London that is currently undergoing much regeneration, and into which young, buzzy and trendy outlook this outstanding restaurant fits very comfortably indeed.

The interior of GB Grill and Bar is laid-back industrial-modern, with seating a mixture of tables around which cluster railback chairs with tie-on cushions and American-diner-style booths. We were led to such a booth, above which hung a large fabric lightshade with the rather pretty floral design from inside projected out through the translucent fabric. This differs from the lighting in the other areas of the restaurant, with industrial pendant lights in the fully-glazed frontage, and elsewhere wires draped from a central ceiling point with reflector bulbs ensuring an adequate ‘spread’ of light without glare; angled recessed lights complement the effect. Tables are simply but effectively dressed – the bare wood free of tablecloths and trappings; simple, unfussy cutlery; a single candle on each table; and tumblers for water. The menus are printed on heavyweight (presumably recycled) brown paper, which also act as placemats. The popular music present when we entered (rather blaring and intrusive) soon changed to an enjoyable jazz (Ella Fitzgerald / Oscar Peterson-inspired), which was played at a discreet volume so as to be enjoyable but not hamper conversation.

The service is very good: informal and chatty but nevertheless helpful and attentive. Very good care was taken of young master Tristan, with the extremely friendly East-ender who looked after us first offering a high chair and then bringing big padded cushions to raise him up more to our level on the bench; whilst a Spanish waitress brought him a toy bus to play with and – movingly – talked affectionately to him in her native tongue.

The menu offers a choice of six starters plus a bread box (several of these are vegetarian and a couple fish-orientated); while mains comprise four non-grill items (we both went for one of these), the pie of the day and fish of the day, two types of steak, an Angus burger, and rotisserie chicken (half or whole). There are various tempting side dishes on offer as well.

The wine list (printed on an A4 sheet of the same paper as the menu and displayed on a clipboard), like the menu, is relatively short, with only eleven each of red and white wines, two roses and six sparkling; one suspects that as many clientele order cocktails as wine – several were specifically mentioned on the wine list, and a full cocktail list was also available. Back to the wine list (not being about to drink cocktails with our meals!): France probably predominates, but Italy, England, South Africa, Argentina, New Zealand, Spain and Australia also feature. There are very brief but nevertheless helpful descriptions for each wine.

We went for a Malbec Torrontes, Malbrontes, 2013 from Mendoza, Argentina, which was a very dark purple – verging on black – in colour, with a dark and very spicy nose featuring black berry fruits and a hint of tar and liquorice. The taste was rich and full, and very peppery indeed – oodles of black pepper hit the palate first and black fruit, tar and leather followed after. It was possibly just a tiny bit harsh, but mellowed with time and was generally an impressive bottle.

For my starter (here called small plates) I chose the hog shank and savoy cabbage terrine – and my already not unfavourable impressions of GB Grill and Bar rocketed. It was quite exquisite – very moist and meaty and intensely full-flavoured: the layers of meat in the terrine extremely porcine, whilst the stripes of savoy cabbage seemed to hold the very essence of that often under-rated brassica, denoting the freshest and best of ingredients. It was accompanied by pickled giroles on what tasted like a celeriac puree, which was gloriously creamy and worked extremely well to temper the (welcome) saltiness of the pork. The chervil root in the puree added a further and well-thought-through dimension with lovely crunchy morsels of intense herbiness.

My husband’s onion and cider soup with cheesy sourdough toast was pronounced equally excellent and really hit the spot after giving a long and strenuous concert (he being a concert violinist). Although quite delicate, it sported a lingering and sustained impact of flavour which rendered it most satisfying. The sourdough toast, too, was excellent, with just enough cheese to lift it above the ordinary, and the whole beautifully light. My husband noted that I should strongly recommend this to any potential patrons of the establishment as a starter – it was light enough to ensure there is plenty of room for the following food, but substantial enough to take the edge off one’s appetite and to enable one to view the rest of the meal with pleasurable anticipation. However, if I have now committed myself to recommending dishes, I must honestly say that I don’t believe that anything could beat the terrine!

The main courses were good too – I opted for the oak smoked and roasted Scottish venison, which was served slightly pinker than I would have liked but had a stunning taste, rich and salty and very deep and intense. The chef later informed us that it had been home cold- smoked with olive oil and rock salt to engender the depth of flavour. One received a very generous portion too, with thick, chunky slices. The accompanying blackberry sauce was very fruity and seeped into the anise carrot puree, which was consequently slightly more blackberry favoured than anything else. The two spires of herb dumplings (some emulation of the Shard going on here?) were very herby, but a little too dry for my palate. The final element of the dish was a small portion of rich spinach. As a whole, all elements worked well to complement each other.

Mr Marshall-Luck’s roast pork belly was gloriously tasty, wonderfully tender and just salty enough, with some deliciously crisp crackling to complete the dish. The meat used by GB Grill and Bar is from a Suffolk farm, marinated overnight to ensure depth of flavour, then blasted at high heat before being slow-roasted at a lower temperature to produce the intense taste. All very impressive.

No desserts tempted me (being more of a savoury person) but I found myself yearning for a little salad, so the accommodating staff combined a starter and cheese course for me, presenting me with a wooden board of Cornish yarg – quite delicately flavoured but delicious nevertheless, alongside red grapes and a baby gem salad with a slightly sharp dressing which cut through the creaminess of the cheese well.

My husband took up the opportunity to sample all the desserts; expecting tiny portions of each, he was slightly nonplussed to be presented with four seemingly full-sized puddings! He pronounced them all absolutely superb: the crumble was deliciously fruity with a light yet nicely-textured cinnamon-y topping; and the pear and almond tart was buoyant, fresh and moist, with the (extremely alcoholic) rum ice-cream providing an effective foil. In the chocolate pudding with drunken cherries, the sponge was perhaps a fraction on the heavy side, but boasted an intense chocolate flavour, well complemented by the cherries which were steeped in kirsch and nestled on a bed of whipped cream. He concluded with the lemon and rosemary posset which was wonderfully light, with a subtle and distinctive flavour. It was presented topped with a compote of berries, the slight tartness of which threw the flavour of the posset itself into perfect relief.

On the whole, it was an outstanding meal, and on top of the excellent food we had been made to feel very welcome. I must confess that it this is not the sort of restaurant that we would have normally visited, tending to go for establishments that are less trendy and modern and more elegant and old-fashioned (less vibe and more timeless classic) – yet I am very glad we did visit as we would most definitely have missed out on something rather special. Highly recommended.

Em Marshall-Luck

 

 

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