The Four Als

More reminders of how prohibition, of one kind or another, inevitably leads to injurious consequences.

Who can forget Al Capone, the Chicago mobster who profited from Prohibition and murdered and swashbuckled his way to a pot of gold before meeting an untimely end? Forbidding things that people want always seems to lead to violent or insidious forms of exploitation while generating a cast of power-hungry and sometimes flamboyant characters in the process. Today alcohol flows for the taking although other manifestations of constraint, interdiction and taboo flourish as exuberantly as ever. Certain words and phrases have been rigorously proscribed under the rubric of Political Correctness and cadres of petty tyrants and bureaucrats in the media, the political echelon and the academy are raking in obscene salaries applying the rules of speech. Criticism of the reigning shibboleths—readily obtainable abortion as a subsidized right, gay marriage, social entitlements, affirmative action, the campaign against the right to bear arms,  big government, the obsolescence of the Constitution—is met with sanctimonious rectitude and programmatic suppression while the enforcers are promoted to high office, social cachet or plush employment.

No less crucial, the prohibition against carbon, ostensibly to avert “climate change” and to compel industrial temperance, has now become one of the most lucrative enterprises of our time. We should make no mistake about this; the war against carbon is both a repressive imposition and big business. It is prohibition writ large. Many rather colorful if unscrupulous individuals are filling their coffers advocating carbon teetotalism—one thinks of Rajendra Pachauri who heads the IPCC at the United Nations and sits on the boards of companies poised to gain from the “climate change” hoax, including his The Energy Research Institute (TERI), Canadian climate evangelist David Suzuki who benefits from ample foundational largess, and, of course, the redoubtable Al Gore who has not allowed moral principle and practical consistency to interfere with his profiteering agenda. In the words of Ed Driscoll, “Al lives in a mansion, flies around in a private plane, and, this, along with his various business ventures, gives him an overall carbon footprint the size of, well, one giant Manbearpig.”

As I  document in my recent _Global Warning: The Trials of an Unsettled Science_, Al has done extremely well for himself, buying carbon offsets from the company he co-owns and chairs, Generation Investment Management, partnering with the venture capital investment firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers that is behind Terralliance, an oil wildcatter, and earning royalties from Pasminco Ltd. for a highly toxic zinc mine on his property. Then there are the tendentious books and erroneous films, and public appearances for which he charges hundreds of thousands of dollars. Al is now well on his way to amassing an indecent fortune that would make Al Capone’s stash look picayune by comparison.

As if this were not enough to satisfy any ordinary man’s craving for enrichment, our aspiring carbon billionaire and homegrown catastrophist has just concluded a deal with yet another Al, to wit, Al Jazeera, to whom he has sold his part-owned Cable TV company for a cool $500 million, yielding a personal profit of $100 million. The fact that Al Jazeera, who lives in fundamentalist Qatar and works for theocratic despot Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, is notoriously anti-American and a source of jihadist propaganda, along with the fact that the sale represents a bargain with presumably hated big oil, does not weigh heavily, apparently, on Al Gore’s conscience. “While conservatives and liberals have plenty to argue about,” writes Jonathan Tobin, “one would have hoped that they would be united in their revulsion against the kind of bias that Al Jazeera exemplifies.” And as Forbes Magazine comments, “Gore is helping a foreign government spread propaganda in the U.S.! He’s doing business with a network that’s sympathetic to terrorists! He’s taking oil money! He’s trying to avoid paying taxes!” (The former vice president sought to close the sale before January to avoid higher taxes in the new year.) It all starts with the prohibition against carbon and petroleum economies. It ends with unseemly opulence at the expense of national well-being and the public good.

Although American Al is taking something of a beating these days from scattered sources, (although not, obviously, from _The New York Times_ and the major networks), his arrangement with Muslim Al will eventually fade from public and media awareness, thanks to the intervention of the most dangerous Al of them all, namely, Al Zheimer. How many American citizens recall—or are even taught—the significant dates of American history, the wisdom and provisions of the _Federalist Papers_, the Articles of the Constitution, the existence of the Marshall Plan that saved Europe from collapse, and an uncountable trove of important muniments? How many even remember the ravages wrought by Prohibition and the Temperance League of the 1920s and 30s? It is truly astonishing how effective Al Zheimer can be, plying his trade of selective erasure and historical abridgment. We may remember the first three Als as figures in popular lore, but the fourth Al will see to it that we forget the precise nature of the events that bind them in a fraternity of malfeasance, just as we obliterate from consciousness the malign chronicle of Prohibition in all its manifold aspects.

How easily we lapse into that species of collective senescence which forgets that legislative forbidding results mainly in prodigies of mischief and corruption. It would be a blessing if we could only remember how prone we are to forgetfulness. It would be a great advantage if we could bring to mind how Prohibition of one kind or another, from booze to carbon to the study of Islam, inevitably leads to injurious unintended (or intended) consequences. The growing prominence of fiscal and political bootlegging should be entirely expected. But Al Zheimer and the destructive influence of the prohibitionary impulse go hand in hand and guarantee the prosperity and power of the most unsavory characters among us.

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