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Ron Radosh

By RONALD RADOSH AND SOL STERN

Michael Walzer, the distinguished political philosopher who writes on topics as varied as the theory of just war and Judaism, is now one of the leading lights of a group of academics called The Third Narrative, which recently issued a statement calling for “personal sanctions” against right-wing Israeli political figures whose views are allegedly so beyond the pale of acceptable discourse about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict that they should be turned into non persons.

For starters, Walzer and his fellow “liberal Zionists” are demanding that the United States and the EU impose visa restrictions and freeze bank accounts for such dangerous Israeli politicians as Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, Housing Minister Uri Ariel, Likud MK Moshe Feiglin and Ze’ev Hever, head of a group called Amana, which oversees Israeli settlements. These four right-wing activists were chosen, a scholar told The Forward, “because they stand out by working to make the occupation permanent and irreversible.”

The group’s members include sociology and journalism professor Todd Gitlin, historian Michael Kazin, sociologist Alan Wolfe and other self-proclaimed center-left academics, some of whom are social-democrats affiliated with the journal Dissent. Most of them are proud members of the “democratic Left.” They also proclaim themselves liberal Zionists who oppose academic boycotts such as those advocated by the BDS movement.

Some years ago, Michael Walzer wrote a penetrating essay titled “Can There Be a Decent Left?” But by signing on to these destructive and hypocritical demands, Walzer himself has provided strong evidence that the left (including even the social-democratic left) has become indecent about Israel. Having taken on those he called the “Blame America First” leftists, Walzer has himself joined the “Blame Israel First” crowd.  His group says it distinguishes itself from the BDS extremists who hate Israel. Rather than ostracize all Israeli academics, they stress that they are only targeting individuals whom they see as most responsible for the “occupation.” As they say in their Dec.8th statement, these individuals pursue “unjust, unlawful, and destructive policies in their most extreme and dangerous form.”

Walzer and his colleagues believe that these perfidious individuals do not have the same rights of free speech as the “good Israelis” who favor a two-state solution and the creation of a Palestinian state. Bennett should be virtually criminalized because he favors “creeping annexation, Ariel for advocating a one-state solution, and Feiglin for his “undisguised extremism” and for his advocacy of annexationist policies, such as building homes in outposts considered illegal by the Israeli government.

The new liberal Jewish censors have an entirely different standard for Palestinian leaders. They know that Mahmoud Abbas’ government on the West Bank has demonstrated again and again that it will not acknowledge Israel’s permanent right to exist as a Jewish state, has done nothing to stop the rampant anti-Semitism throughout the school system and the PA itself, and that Abbas has never agreed to give up the “right to return,” which if implemented means the end of the Jewish state.

Since Abbas and his comrades support extreme positions that prevent a peaceful solution of the conflict, Walzer and company should logically be in favor of personal sanctions against these anti-peace extremists in the Palestinian Authority. Unfortunately the liberal, pro-peace Zionists  have never protested the destructive, anti-Jewish statements emanating regularly from PA headquarters in Ramallah. Like the BDS movement whom they claim to oppose, their proposals are aimed only at Israeli political leaders they disagree with.

Consider, for example, the logic Todd Gitlin uses in urging academics to follow their lead rather than the BDS movement.  Writing in Tablet Magazine and published on The Third Narrative’s website, Gitlin inadvertently reveals that his disagreements with BDS are essentially only tactical. He calls BDS advocates guilty of issuing “apolitical tantrums in cases of right versus right.” But a close reading shows Gitlin guilty himself of very similar tantrums.

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The Long, Slow Death of The New Republic

December 5th, 2014 - 11:26 am

Late yesterday, the owner and publisher of TNR, Facebook magnate Chris Hughes, ended the publication as we know it.

Just weeks after their gala 100th birthday bash held in Washington, D.C., at a cost of over $150,000 — attended by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, chaired by Bill Clinton, and with a performance by Wynton Marsalis — Hughes immediately announced an extensive executive change that spelled the magazine’s quick demise.

He fired the prominent literary editor Leon Wieseltier and the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Frank Foer. You can read the details in today’s New York Times, as well as in articles by Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine, Dylan Byers in Politico, and in Lloyd Grove’s revealing column at The Daily Beast. The one place you will not read anything about it is on TNR’s website.

To replace the old guard, who had some continuity with the magazine’s traditions and who had managed to sneak into its increasingly vacuous stories some serious content (such as Robert Kagan’s cover story on the importance of exercising American power in the world), Hughes brought in new management. He announced that the new CEO will be Guy Vidra, who previously worked at Yahoo, and he appointed as editor-in-chief Gabriel Snyder, who was an editor at The Atlantic Wire. Then, he announced that he was cutting TNR’s bi-weekly publication schedule in half, making its print magazine a monthly, and was moving its offices to New York.

When Hughes bought the publication, as the Times story notes, he said he was motivated to purchase it because he had a great interest in “the future of high quality long-form journalism.”

I knew at the time that the result of his takeover would be the magazine’s demise. In a PJ Media column, I wrote: “I am not too optimistic about its future.” At that time, Richard Just was running it; he had just met with Hughes and convinced him to purchase TNR, hoping that he would save the magazine. Shortly thereafter, Hughes fired Just and convinced TNR’s old editor Frank Foer to return as editor-in-chief.

I believed that TNR would become a shill for the Obama administration. This was made clear quite soon. I also believed that the magazine would never publish serious articles that critiqued the ideology and politics of liberalism itself:

So, I am not optimistic about the fate of the new TNR. The last thing we need is a magazine slightly — very slightly — to the right of The Nation. … this is a swan song and sad goodbye to the old TNR. I wish the magazine well, and perhaps I will turn out to be very wrong. But as a natural pessimist, and for good reason, I only expect the worst.

Now, the worst has come to pass. As the Washington Post reported, and was tweeted earlier by Michael Calderone: “More than a dozen senior editors and a longer list of contributing editors quit on Friday following the resignation of editor Franklin Foer and literary editor, Leon Wieseltier.”

The list included its most prominent and serious writers, including its long-time legal affairs editor Jeffrey Rosen; contributing editors Anne Applebaum and Paul Berman; historians Sean Wilentz and Robert Kagan; and senior editors Noam Scheiber, Judith Shulevitz, and Jason Zengerle, among others. The list includes almost every single writer or editor who made TNR what it was.

Why should we care? Despite my own disagreements with TNR’s old-style liberalism, in its heyday — under the editorship of Marty Peretz (whom the editors who stayed on wrote out of the magazine’s history and completely ignored) — TNR had moved back to the fierce Cold War liberalism that became its mainstay. It was anti-Communist, tough on foreign policy, and pro-Israel. It also featured major intellectual articles of a serious nature, often probing ones that cut against the grain. Even under Hughes, some of those working at TNR tried to hold true to its old stance.

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The response of the African-American “civil rights” establishment and the American Left to the verdict in Ferguson came quickly and predictably.  Al Sharpton and other racial demagogues urged their followers to take to the streets if anything but a first degree murder indictment was handed down for Officer Darren Wilson. The protestors and rioters were prepared, but Missouri’s governor wasn’t. He failed to call out the National Guard on the day the verdict was released.

What is particularly galling is the argument that the events in Ferguson, and the no bill for Wilson, are a throwback to the segregationist era of the 1950s and 1960s, when the modern civil rights movement engaged in non-violent civil disobedience.  “The Movement,” as they called it then, showed the nation and the world the immoral actions of police chief Bull Connor of Birmingham, Alabama, and others of similar ilk, thereby exposing the injustice of the system of segregation — a system based on power and violence, preventing black Americans from enjoying the rights and liberties guaranteed to them by the U.S. Constitution.

One of the true heroes of that era was John Lewis, now a member of Congress from Atlanta, Georgia. A former chairman of SNCC  (the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) from  1963 to 1966, Lewis was beaten to a bloody pulp for peacefully participating in a “Freedom Ride,” in which black and white Americans broke the law by refusing to accept segregation on the buses. What prompted Lewis and the Freedom Riders was the belief that their actions would force the federal government to enforce a law ignored by some Southern states that made segregation unconstitutional in interstate bus travel throughout the South.

Lewis’s struggle, and that of the movement of which he was a part, helped change America and made our country live up to its promise. The once segregated South now has more African-American officeholders than there are in the North. Transportation and accommodations are no longer segregated, and the local authorities are not beholden to the Ku Klux Klan or the White Citizens’ Councils of yesteryear.

A few days before the verdict was handed down, Lewis  proclaimed that unless Officer Wilson was indicted, a “miscarriage of justice” would occur that would demand nothing less than nation-wide “massive, non-violent” protests. This time, Lewis was arguing to ignore the law, and that only one pre-ordained verdict would be acceptable.  Where is the justice in that?

Lewis then compared Ferguson to Selma, Alabama, where, in 1965, marchers led by Lewis and others were turned back as they tried to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge to the state capitol. Lewis said that in Ferguson “the same feeling and climate and environment” exists as existed  in segregationist Alabama. In Selma, state troopers turned them back and, when they stopped to pray, beat them with nightsticks; Lewis suffered a fractured skull. Now he says that  “we’re going to have the same reaction as people had towards Selma,” which is simply a preposterous analogy. In one case, protestors were demanding their rights as Americans.  Today, a jury which included African-Americans examined the evidence and came to the conclusion that there was no reason to indict an innocent cop.

There were more protests throughout the country.  At the White House, scores of people gathered outside, where they sang the civil rights movement’s anthem, “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around,” sung in Selma and elsewhere. These protesters, too, were accepting the myth that Selma and Ferguson are one and the same.

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This evening, Sunday the 23rd at 7 p.m. East Coast time, the AP posted a dispatch stating that U.S.  negotiators have asked Iran to consider an extension of the nuclear talks. Another deadline — this one tomorrow, Nov.24th, which was supposed to be the final one — has been scrapped by the United States. It is clear that at all costs, the Obama administration wants to get any kind of a deal; it has continually backtracked on all the prerequisites that Iran supposedly had to meet and that the US. insisted upon when negotiations began one year ago. The AP story continues:

A senior U.S. official said that with the Monday evening cutoff date a little more than a day away, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry proposed to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohamad Java Zarf that the two sides start discussing post-deadline talks in their latest meeting since Kerry arrived three days ago to add his diplomatic weight to the talks.

Yesterday, Reuters also broke another announcement. The P5+1 — the powers negotiating with Iran over their nuclear program — it reported, “will likely stop short of demanding full disclosure of any secret weapon work by Tehran.” Reporters Fredrik Dahl and Louis Charbonneau write that while the P5+1 powers will try to “press Iran to cease stonewalling a U.N. atomic bomb investigation as part of a wider nuclear accord,” they are willing to give in on what used to be a fundamental demand of the United States as necessary for any accord to be signed. What Iran is now refusing to do is to present to the nations negotiating with them full disclosure of any secret work they are carrying out at hidden facilities, which will enable them to develop a nuclear weapon.

At a Hudson Institute panel held last week, David Albright, a veteran of the IAEA and founder and head of the Institute for Science and International Security, told how verification of Iranian nuclear development cannot succeed without this full disclosure. Referring to Iran’s long history of secret work, Albright stated that “it’s a very big mistake…if you don’t deal with these past questions about Iran’s work on nuclear weapons.”

If you’re going to know the present, and know the risk…[that] if there are  undeclared facilities [and] activities, you have to know the history. (my emphasis)

Albright pointed out that an agreement seems to be heading in the direction of throwing “the IAEA under the bus.” If Iran succeeds in weakening the UN’s international atomic inspection forces, he pointed out, it would be difficult to gain verification of what Iran is working on. He also said that unless the IAEA could visit all military sites to examine their actual work, it would stifle any “concrete progress.” He noted that people in Washington were trying to argue that none of this really mattered and expected that somehow they would get solid verification in the future. As he put it, “the IAEA learned that’s a big mistake and a recipe for failure.”

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Who does the Obama administration think it is fooling?

A citizen journalist uncovered Jonathan Gruber claiming that Obamacare passed because of “the stupidity of the American voter,” who did not see through the sleight of hand the administration employed to hide unpalatable elements. The bill, he explained, “was written in a tortured way to make sure the CBO did not score the mandate as taxes.” Soon after, we learned that Gruber had said the exact same thing many times at different venues. He did not — as he tried to claim — simply misspeak on one occasion.

President Obama responded to the public furor, saying at his press conference in Australia:

The fact that some advisor who never worked on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters is no reflection on the actual process that was run.

“Some advisor.” The president implied that Gruber was one of many outside consultants, and not the “architect of Obamacare,” as many news stories and commentators were describing him.

Obama’s argument fell apart almost immediately. Karen Tumulty wrote in Sunday’s Washington Post:

[Gruber] was no ordinary advisor — as evidenced by the fact that he was paid nearly $400,00 by the administration for his work. … His advice was important at critical moments when the bill’s survival was in jeopardy.

Tumulty further revealed that Obama himself summoned Gruber to the White House on July 20, 2009, along with Alice Rivlin and David Cutler, to find a way to lower costs. He did this after the CBO concluded that the act would not lower health care costs in the long run. Gruber’s role, Tumulty wrote, “was to explain the effect that a policy choice would have and to add credibility to the entire endeavor.”

Hence that $400,000 payment, a tidy sum for Gruber, who already had made a small fortune providing similar advice to many states.

Then Nancy Pelosi, when asked what she thought of Gruber’s statements, replied:

I don’t know who he is. He didn’t help write our bill.

In saying that, Pelosi confirmed that her view of the American voter is the same as that of Professor Gruber. Within minutes the press found a 2009 C-SPAN video of Pelosi in which she talked about Gruber, and the following, which appeared on her own  “Newsroom” blog on Dec. 1, 2009:

FACT:  An analysis of the House bill by noted MIT health care economist Jonathan Gruber concludes that the bill would result in lower premiums than under current law for the millions of Americans using the newly-established Health Insurance Exchange – including those who are not receiving affordability credits to help them purchase coverage.  (The Health Insurance Exchange is for those without access to affordable employer-sponsored coverage.) As Gruber states: “the premiums that individuals will face in the new exchanges established by this legislation are … considerably lower than what they would face in the non-group insurance market [under current law], due to the market reforms put in place by the House plan, the mandate on individuals to participate regardless of health, and the market economies of new exchanges.”

She then linked to Prof. Gruber’s analysis.

Then we heard the words of then-Senator John Kerry, who at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on October 1, 2009, said:

According to Gruber, who has been our guide on a lot of this, it’s somewhere in the vicinity of an $8 billion cost.

 

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In the post-Cold War era, Democrats have generally been less concerned with America’s national security compared to Republicans. For example, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush brought down the “evil empire” that was the Soviet Union, ignoring the pleas of many liberal Democrats that the U.S. should pursue a policy of working with the USSR, believing that the Soviets were in the process of evolving into a Western-style democracy.

The above stance made many centrist Democrats concerned for the future of their party. So a group of center-right Democrats — foreign policy hawks who did not want to leave national security to the Republicans — formed a new think tank to develop programs that Democratic candidates could turn to for guidance: the Truman National Security Project.

Jason Cain, one of the leaders of its “Veterans Leadership Academy,” described the project as follows:

The Truman National Security Project is serving on the front lines of the battle to retake National Security as a positive platform issue for progressives. … the Truman National Security Project has given progressives the tools and voice we need to lead the country towards a future of both military and diplomatic strength.

The project modeled itself on the spirit of President Harry S. Truman, who — at the dawn of the Cold War — rejected the advice of the far-left wing of the Democrat Party (led by Secretary of Commerce Henry A. Wallace) and implemented a “get-tough” policy towards the Soviets and Joe Stalin’s expansionist aims. (That story of Truman’s new policy is best told in a book by historian Father Wilson Miscamble, From Roosevelt to Truman: Potsdam, Hiroshima and the Cold War.) But today, thanks to the work of Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo, we have evidence that this once-relevant think tank has completely changed its mission.

They have decided to cede national security concerns to the Republicans, and are re-positioning themselves as mouthpieces for the Obama administration and its policies of “reaching out” to Iran. Kredo writes:

[A] leading Democratic think-tank has been quietly waging a media war on behalf of the Obama administration’s Iran diplomacy since at least the early summer, according to previously undisclosed documents that accuse congressional skeptics of being un-American warmongers.

Instead of standing up against the contemporary appeasers of Iran, the think tank’s leaders have decided to work like a lobby to promote a bad nuclear deal with the Iranians. Indeed, as Kredo writes, they have moved so far in that direction that they now are accusing those in opposition to Obama’s current policy as “unpatriotic.”

It is so bold a shift that the group’s founder, Rachel Kleinfeld, who is no longer associated with the think tank, tweeted this after linking to Kredo’s report:

Embarrassing – & not the organization I used to run. We should do a deal with Iran if its good -not for partisanship.

As Kredo reported in his first post, its communications director, Adam F. West, had told the group in an e-mail:

Our community absolutely must step up and not cede the public narrative to neocon hawks that would send our country to war just to screw the president. … Once again, Truman is gearing up for an all-hands-on-deck effort to support the administration’s goal of securing a nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1. The core message is the same: a deal is the only way to prevent an Iranian bomb and keep the U.S. out of another war.

Today, Reuters reports that Iran has refused — five times — to let an American bomb expert working for the UN atomic agency into the country to investigate its nuclear activity. Reuters explains:

[This] may reinforce an impression in the West of a continuing reluctance by Tehran to fully answer allegations that it has worked on designing a nuclear-armed missile.

This is perhaps the understatement of the week.

The Wall Street Journal’s Bret Stephens correctly argues:

It won’t be long before a nuclear deal with Iran will join the list of Mr. Obama’s hollow Mideast achievements.

London’s Sunday Times quoted Olli Heinonen, who spent 27 years at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA):

[Iran] could have up to 5,000 IR-2m centrifuges rather than the 1,008 it has claimed. The IR-2m devices are up to five times more effective in enriching uranium than older IR-1 types.

The IAEA’s own recent report concluded, as explained in The Israel Project’s Daily Tip, that:

[Iran is not] provid[ing] any explanations that enable the Agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures, stoking concerns that Iranian officials may be counting on Western negotiators to drop the demand that Tehran come clean about the possible military dimensions (PMDs) of its nuclear program.

For all the above reasons, the Obama administration has enlisted its sycophants for defense. And they unfortunately seem to have taken over an institute that was once devoted to bi-partisan measures promoting national security.

This development is more evidence of the collapse of the vital centrist liberalism that once understood the need to fight totalitarianism. Poor Harry Truman is turning over in his grave.

At Wednesday’s press conference, President Obama made his position very clear: despite the electoral whacking his party took in the midterm elections, he will do all he can to continue with his agenda, using executive action where he can to advance it. Two Washington Post reporters explain Obama’s position:

Despite his nod to shared responsibility, however, Obama sounded less introspective and remorseful in the wake of the Democrats’ resounding midterm election defeat this year than he did four years ago, when he described the outcome as a “shellacking” for Democrats. The president noted that two-thirds of those eligible did not vote Tuesday, suggesting the lack of a broad GOP mandate, and he reminded reporters that the policies he has championed, including an increase in the minimum wage, were endorsed by voters in a number of states.

Liberal columnist and Obama supporter Dana Milbank wrote:

A dismissive shrug is inappropriate. … [The election] went in one presidential ear and out the other. … [W]hen Obama fielded questions for an hour Wednesday afternoon, he spoke as if Tuesday had been but a minor irritation. He announced no changes in staff or policy, acknowledged no fault or error and expressed no contrition or regret.

Consider the contrast with Bill Clinton. After Democrats received a similar beating in 1994, which Newt Gingrich and others referred to as a “Republican revolution,” President Clinton took responsibility himself and quickly moved to the center. He hired Dick Morris as his political advisor, and worked with Republicans for trade agreements and — most importantly — welfare reform. Without Republican votes, neither of these would have been able to pass Congress.

And as Milbank notes, when President George W. Bush found his party skewered in the midterms, he fired Donald Rumsfeld and changed his Iraq policy.

Clearly, the vote reflects the unhappiness Americans have with the Democrats’ handling of the economy. Some on the left, like columnist Harold Meyerson, admit that the Democrats “did not deliver broadly shared prosperity as they used to.” He continues:

Even in the people’s republic of Vermont, the incumbent Democratic governor won so narrowly that the race will be tossed to the legislature (as Vermont law requires when no gubernatorial candidate breaks 50 percent).

Others on the Left are not so willing to take any part of the blame. Rather, they call for Obama to double down. In The Nation, editor-in-chief Katrina vanden Heuvel provides a guide for the president:

The Obama administration should act right away to use its executive powers to take steps to deal with long-ignored issues that need to be dealt with for the good of the nation.

This cannot be done quietly. To change the media narrative, issues acted upon will have to be controversial enough to dominate the news. President Obama should embrace good progressive public policy while expecting — indeed, hoping for — a massive outcry from the wing-nut section of the GOP.

Note her juxtaposition: what she favors is “good progressive policy,” and what Republicans present as an alternative are simply “wing-nut” ideas. Keep in mind vanden Heuvel’s concrete suggestions  as we see what Obama moves to implement next. We know what he is pledged to do about immigration. Will he support her proposal to “cancel the Keystone XL pipeline,” giving the leftist environmentalists what they want while standing against the very AFL-CIO unions that support the pipeline and worked hard for his re-election?

In The Daily Beast, left-wing columnist Michael Tomasky acknowledged that his side can no longer use the argument that the people are voting against their own interests, as expressed by Thomas Frank in his best-selling book What’s the Matter with Kansas?. Tomasky shrewdly notes:

People don’t vote against their interests. They vote for their interests as they see them. And right now, working-class and blue-collar whites think the Democratic Party is just implacably against them.

What he does not accept, however, is that those voters’ understanding of the situation is correct.

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Iran, as my PJM colleague Michael Ledeen has informed us over the years, is the main state sponsor of terrorism in the world. This truth is even acknowledged by our own Department of State, in a detailed report which states:

Designated as a State Sponsor of Terrorism in 1984, Iran remained an active state sponsor of terrorism in 2011 and increased its terrorist-related activity, likely in an effort to exploit the uncertain political conditions resulting from the Arab Spring, as well as in response to perceived increasing external pressure on Tehran. Iran also continued to provide financial, material, and logistical support for terrorist and militant groups throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. Iran was known to use the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF) and terrorist insurgent groups to implement its foreign policy goals, provide cover for intelligence operations, and support terrorist and militant groups. The IRGC-QF is the regime’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad.

Moreover, the regime supports Assad in Syria, trained the Taliban in Afghanistan, and supplies weapons, training, and funding to Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Hezbollah.

At the present time, it is obvious that all of this is being ignored by the Obama administration, which has decided to allow Iran to eventually go nuclear, and hence to try to put into effect — without any congressional approval — an agreement that will ratify a bad deal after the looming November 24 deadline on negotiations between the U.S. and Iran.

As the Wall Street Journal observes:

Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, said Friday there has been almost no progress in resolving the outstanding allegations of weapons development, despite a year of negotiations with Iranian President Hasan Rouhani’s government.

What prevents any agreement, said the International Atomic Energy Agency, is that the Iranian regime will not allow inspectors to gain access to nuclear scientists who are engaged in atomic research, as well as any access to military and research sites. If, as Iran claims, its nuclear development is being conducted only for peaceful purposes, they surely would not hesitate one moment to allow such access.

Nevertheless, the Obama administration is trying to put over what will be a very bad deal, one that allows Iran to keep its centrifuges. To make it palatable to Americans, the media is helping along in what seems to be an effort to legitimize Iran and to make Americans develop a positive view of the regime. Here are some recent examples.

The first is — believe it or not – the New York Times’ recently announced trip to Iran. Welcome, they say, “to the once forbidden land of Iran.” Why shouldn’t high-spending travelers go there with the so-called paper of record? They provide the rationale here:

Traveling in comfort, in a small, guided group along the way, your journey through Iran will provide you with a depth of understanding of this complicated place, which has been friend and foe, sometimes at the same time. … Though Iran often rejects Western ways, and is frequently under fire for its positions on human rights, its nuclear program and Israel, its role as a birthplace of civilization cannot be denied. This journey with The New York Times, praised for its intensive and clear-eyed coverage of Iran going back decades, takes you behind the headlines, deep into the conflicted and often conflict-filled past of one of the oldest cultures on earth.

Just ignore public hangings of gays that might be taking place while you’re in a major city like Tehran. Ignore the political prisoners tortured in the city’s jails, and the religious police who see to it that young people dancing to the hit tune “Happy” are thrown into jail, just as yesterday, a young woman received one year in prison for daring to go to a soccer game in Tehran’s stadium. Sports events, after all, are only for men to view. One has to ignore all this, since Persia was “the birthplace of civilization,” and remember that often Iran simply rejects our ways. We can’t be ethnocentric, after all. And the Times informs us that “conservative elders uphold the traditions of the country’s past while the young and fashionable find ways to celebrate in a country that bans alcohol.”

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The Democratic Party no longer fights for actual civil rights for African Americans. It has become beholden to race hustlers and demagogues, those who inflame passions based on memories of the real racism that existed decades ago but which is no longer relevant to the present-day American experience.

You will find no better evidence for this assertion than the news last week, as reported in the Washington Post and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The Missouri paper explains:

The official autopsy on Michael Brown shows that he was shot in the hand at close range, according to an analysis of the findings by two experts not involved directly in the case.

The accompanying toxicology report shows he had been using marijuana.

Those documents, prepared by the St. Louis County medical examiner and obtained by the Post-Dispatch, provide the most detailed description to date of the wounds Brown sustained in a confrontation Aug. 9 with Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson. 

Evidence shows that Brown was struggling to get officer Wilson’s pistol inside Wilson’s car, which is why Brown’s blood was found in the car. Moreover, eyewitnesses also testify to seeing that fight. Judy Melinek, a forensics expert in San Francisco, explains:

The autopsy did not support witnesses who have claimed Brown was shot while running away from Wilson, or with his hands up. [Melinek] said Brown was facing Wilson when Brown took a shot to the forehead, two shots to the chest and a shot to the upper right arm. The wound to the top of Brown’s head would indicate he was falling forward or in a lunging position toward the shooter; the shot was instantly fatal.

What will happen when a grand jury concludes there should be no indictment of Officer Wilson? The scores of protestors in Ferguson have been demanding an indictment, arguing that he represented white racism at its worst, having murdered an innocent young black man in cold blood. Now that claim has been crushed.

The Left has started to challenge the new facts. In Slate, Jamelle Bouie writes a particularly lame and unconvincing retort claiming that the autopsy report only “seemed to support” the account that Wilson was innocent. As he sees it, we still have conflicting reports that prove nothing at all. Predicting “a new round of protests” if the grand jury does not indict, Bouie adds that this explains why the governor has ordered a commission to study “the social and economic conditions that led to the initial August protests.”

The real bug in the ointment, however, is our leading rabble rouser, Reverend Al Sharpton. In this past weekend’s Wall Street Journal, Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute has a devastating takedown exposing the real facts about the good reverend. (Subscription required — but I strongly urge readers to pay for the article. It’s that important.) Titled “The Democratic Embrace of Al Sharpton,” the article traces how the man who was kept at arm’s length during Obama’s 2008 campaign, isolated as unrepresentative of the black community’s views, has now become the single would-be “civil-rights leader.” Sharpton is now the person to whom all Democrats, centrist and liberal alike, kowtow and from whom they seek to gain support and endorsement. Once he “inflamed racial hatred and courted violence,” Mac Donald writes. Now, “he has been rehabilitated into the Democratic Party’s civil-rights leader of choice.”

Rather than keep him out of his circle, Obama himself has embraced him — most likely on the advice of Valerie Jarrett, who conferred with Sharpton after the Ferguson shooting. Also joining in the praise of Sharpton is Governor Andrew Cuomo, Hillary Clinton, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, and Reps. Charles Rangel and Jerry Nadler, both from New York City and mainstays of the liberal/left.

As Mac Donald notes, New York City’s left-wing mayor, Bill de Blasio, set in motion the effort to remake Sharpton as a national leader. “The mayor’s alliance with the racial provocateur,” she writes, “is now creating the biggest crisis of his mayoralty.” De Blasio’s own words praising Sharpton are so over the top that they exceed that of any other public figure who is rushing to make him relevant.

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Obama’s Path to an Imperial Presidency

October 20th, 2014 - 2:54 pm

President Barack Obama has just taken another giant step towards implementing his imperial presidency.

The announcement in yesterday’s New York Times that he will seek an Iran deal “that will avoid Congress” reveals his utter contempt for the American people. Moreover, it shows us that what clearly will be a very, very bad deal is one he hopes to portray as proof that he has brought stability to the Middle East, and that — just as he had argued — Iran has shown that it is cooperative, is under “moderate” leadership, and has proved that it wants peace and can be a partner of the United States.

As the Times story by David E. Sanger puts it: “President Obama will do everything in his power to avoid letting Congress vote on it.” He will do it with a sleight-of-hand semantic trick which involves removing sanctions on Iran without Congressional approval, which a Treasury Department study evidently argues that he can do. By calling it simply an “agreement” and not a treaty, Obama thinks he can accept a bad deal and legally not have to obtain a two-thirds vote of the Senate.

The reason he wants to do this is obvious: even if the Democrats control the Senate, he would not have enough votes for a treaty to pass.

We have known for a long time that the Obama administration has decided that Iran can have a bomb and still act responsibly, despite its proven support of international terrorism and its promise to destroy Israel. In the mind of the administration’s so-called “realists,” letting Iran have a bomb will make it an equal player among the world’s nuclear powers. Then, the old doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction (appropriately dubbed MAD) will be honored by the Ayatollahs, just as the Soviet Union worked with its main antagonist, the United States, to carry on its conflict without using the atomic weapons they possessed.

Of course, the apparatchiks of the Kremlin subscribed to the materialist Marxist-Leninist theory. Unlike the religious zealotry of the commissars, the Mullahs subscribe to a reading of Islam that demands the eventual triumph of the Caliphate that will make Iran a leading world power, and a perch from which Sharia law will be the law of the land wherever it attains hegemony.

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