Ron Radosh

Ron Radosh

The Beginning of the End for Trump’s Presidential Campaign

September 27th, 2015 - 2:27 pm

Soon after Donald Trump entered the race, pundits predicted that his campaign would surely collapse quickly and that he would self-destruct. Every time another such prediction was made, somehow Trump managed to stay ahead in the polls, and his crowds grew bigger and bigger.

Now, signs are emerging that Trump’s front-runner status may be coming to a close. The RealClearPolitics average of all polls reveals that although still ahead, his poll numbers are slipping. He is not doing well when matched against Hillary.  In a hypothetical Trump vs. Clinton race, Trump comes out ahead of Clinton in only one poll. More importantly, in the Quinnipiac poll,  in a presidential race with Trump, Hillary comes out ahead by a margin of + 2, and in a contest with Joe Biden, Biden comes in as winning the national election by + 11.

Conservative commentators have taken note of this. In The Federalist, Robert Tracinski writes that Trump looks “sensitive and thin-skinned.” He makes the point that Trump is now in the same place Rick Perry was in the polls four years ago, and we know how that turned out. In National Review, Charles C.W. Cooke, in a scathing column, writes that Trump has become a whiner “reduced to sterile indignation.” Trump is a man who responds to criticism by threatening law suits, by descending to ad hominem and crude attacks, and, as Cooke writes, by acting like a “rebellious three-year old.” And in Sunday’s Washington Post, George Will says that “nothing is now more virtuous than scrubbing, as soon as possible, the Trump stain from public life.”

Perhaps the turning point was the boos Trump received at the Values Voters Summit when he attacked Marco Rubio :

You have this clown, Marco Rubio, I’ve been so nice to him. I’ve been so nice and then — no, but he’s in favor of immigration and he has been, he has been, it was the ‘Gang of 8′ and you remember the “Gang of 8,” it was terrible.

Trump, who has changed his position on almost everything, is the last person who should be chastising Rubio for moving away from his original position on immigration.

Compare Rubio on foreign policy to Donald  Trump. Trump blusters that when he becomes president, he will be able to quickly learn about the important issues facing the country and will put together a first-rate team that will advise him. In the meantime, Trump has famously said, he gets his information from TV. Very reassuring. Rubio has said of Trump’s answers on foreign policy questions that he “has sound bites, not policy proposals.” In contrast, Rubio shows a thorough and well-thought out position on every foreign policy issue. He gives comprehensive and searching answers, and is well equipped to handle any Democratic opponent in a debate.

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Courtesy AP Images

Courtesy AP Images

While Republicans are receiving the most attention for their contentious race for their party’s nomination, the Democrats are having their own problems. Judging from her team’s recent behavior, the Democratic front-runner, Hillary Clinton, is becoming worried.

Until Joe Biden announces he is going to run — which may happen soon — Hillary’s biggest problem is the surge of support for the democratic socialist candidate, Bernie Sanders. Sanders gets a giant turnout everywhere he speaks, as enthusiastic crowds respond to his Robin Hood message to tax the rich (the one percent) and give the rest to the other 99 percent.

Indeed, the RCP New Hampshire poll averages reveal that Sanders is now ahead in that state’s Democratic primary by 42.8% to Hillary’s 32.3%, a 10-plus spread. The RCP Iowa poll averages show Sanders even with Hillary in the Iowa caucus, where both scored 37.0%.  Even without declaring he is a candidate, Biden scores 14.0%. If he does get into the race, he is likely to draw many voters away from both Hillary and Sanders.

Given these results, it is not surprising to learn that the leading Hillary super PAC, David Brock’s Correct the Record, e-mailed The Huffington Post about what it called “similarities” between Jeremy Corbyn, the left-wing extremist who now heads the Labor Party in Britain, and Bernie Sanders:

The “similarities” between the two, according to the email, include Sanders’ introduction of legislation to terminate the United States’ nuclear weapons program, comments that NATO’s expansion into former Soviet states is dangerous because it could provoke Russia, opposition to more U.S. funds for NATO, and saying he “was concerned” that proposed new NATO members had shipped arms to Iran and North Korea.

The e-mail also equated Sanders’ favoring of an agreement with Venezuela that provided cheap heating oil to low-income Vermont residents, something that six other states also did, with Corbyn’s support of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, who Corbyn said had “electoral democratic credentials.”

The leftist publication Salon called Brock’s attacks “anti-Bernie Sanders red-baiting,” and the writer of the article, Simon Maloy, went on to accuse Brock’s group of trying to make Sanders appear as “part of the international socialist conspiracy” and “dangerously extreme,” although they had “no compelling evidence of their opponents’ disqualifying radicalism.”

Sanders is no Jeremy Corbyn, but in fact, his own proposals reveal him to indeed be quite extreme. As Igor Bobic wrote last June in The Huffington Post, Hillary’s supporter, Sen. Claire McCaskill, said on television that indeed Sanders was too extreme, and complained that “I very rarely read in any coverage of Bernie that he’s a socialist.” Her latter complaint, as we know, has long since been corrected by the media.

However, McCaskill — herself a liberal Democrat — is correct in her observation that Sanders wants an expansion of entitlements, and that he seems to have no concern for the increasing debt the United States would incur as a result of his policies.

Sanders, with his proposal for instituting a single-payer U.S. national health system, alone would help lead the country to bankruptcy. The Wall Street Journal got national attention for its front-page news story, in which reporter Laura Meckler revealed that Sanders’ proposals would cost $18 trillion in new government spending, including “an estimated $15 trillion for a government-run healthcare program that covers every American, plus large sums to rebuild roads and bridges, expand Social Security and make tuition free at public colleges.”

To pay for it, Mr. Sanders…has so far detailed tax increases that, according to his staff, could bring in as much as $6.5 trillion over 10 years.

Of course, the Left disputes the Journal’s analysis. Paul Waldman argues in The Washington Post that citizens would only be paying “through taxes for things we’re already paying for in other ways.” And in The Nation, Joshua Holland claims that the Journal article was “designed to shock and awe and discourage voters from giving the social democrat’s ideas a close look,” and that “Sanders’s highly progressive proposals wouldn’t cost the United States a single penny, on net, over that 10-year window. In fact, they’d cost less, overall, than what we’d spend without them.”

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With the election of Jeremy Corbyn to be head of Britain’s Labor Party, one has to wonder if this once majority party has made a suicide pact. As its candidate for prime minister in the next national elections, Corbyn, most observers have concluded, is unelectable.  How left wing is Corbyn? He is so far removed from the mainstream that he makes his socialist American counterpart, Bernie Sanders, look like a moderate. Like the Democrat Party in the United States, British Labor has also taken a left turn.

In the late ’70s and early ’80s, when the heavily nationalized British economy was in the doldrums, Conservative PM Margaret Thatcher instituted major free-market reforms that transformed the economy by cutting taxes, privatizing gas, water and electricity companies, and closing many nonproductive and obsolete steel plants and coal mines. As Wikipedia notes:

By 1982, the UK began to experience signs of economic recovery; inflation was down to 8.6% from a high of 18%, but unemployment was over 3 million for the first time since the 1930s. By 1983 overall economic growth was stronger and inflation and mortgage rates were at their lowest levels since 1970.

When Labor won again, it was under Tony Blair, who moved his party away from the far left and did not undo the successful changes Thatcher had made. Blair called his program and party “New Labor,” and he became prime minister for three terms. Although later his support of the Iraq War made him unpopular in Britain, Blair called his party “left of center,” and promised that he would govern from what he called “the radical center.” Blair did not end Thatcher’s anti-trade union legislation, and as Wikipedia puts it, he “introduced substantial market-based reforms in the education and health sectors; introduced student tuition fees; sought to reduce certain categories of welfare payments, and introduced anti-terrorism and identity card legislation.” He also had a tough foreign policy, and was a supporter of Israel.

The British Conservative Party has recently proved itself weak and inept; its prime ministers have hardly run Britain like Thatcher did. Recently, as Labor suffered a major loss putting David Cameron in as PM once again, Labor’s nominal leader, the badly defeated Ed Miliband, revealed that the electorate was in no mood for a man who seemed insincere, wishy-washy, and who did stand for anything much different than a Cameron administration that would be slightly to the left of the Conservatives.

That crisis in British Labor is what led to Corbyn’s victory. Another factor, however, is how Corbyn introduced a new policy that allowed scores of people who were not members to simply declare their support to Labor by paying the party the equivalent in American currency of $4.60. This resulted in thousands of far leftists who previously eschewed Labor as too moderate joining the ranks of voters and then voting in the election for who should lead the party.  This policy resulted in 120,000 non-members of the Labor Party casting a vote for Corbyn.

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Barack Obama’s Refugee Crisis

September 7th, 2015 - 7:41 am

The worst European refugee crisis since the end of World War II is taking place before our eyes.  The news on television is filled with horrible images, but the one most shocking and symbolic of what is going on is that of a three-year-old Syrian boy who washed up on a Turkish beach. Europe, with its fluid borders, is woefully unprepared to deal with the situation.  In Germany, Angela Merkel has agreed to open the gates, and says that Germany will let in 800,000 asylum seekers this year alone. Austria says that it too will allow some in. Hungry tried refusing to allow refugees to board trains to reach these destinations, but had to reverse its policy.

While many foreign leaders have spoken out, there is one who has said not a word. That leader, as you most probably can guess, is Barack Obama. And how could he? His policies, after all, have ended in this tragedy. It is, as Michael Gerson writes in a powerful Washington Post column, the result of his failure in Syria.

Obama said a “red line” in Syria could not be crossed; then Bashar Al-Assad crossed it—and nothing happened except for temporarily harsher rhetoric from the president. Now, Assad drops barrel bombs on his own people, filled with supposedly outlawed chemical weapons. Obama, of course, had plenty of measures which he could have ordered that would have stopped or limited Assad’s war on his own people.  Instead, he ignored the advice of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and CIA chief Gen. David Petraeus, who favored using screened moderate forces of the Sunni majority willing to fight and supplying them with shoulder-to-air missiles that would have brought down the helicopters Assad uses to carry out the bombings.  Instead, he did nothing.

The reason is simple. Obama apparently believes that the way to achieve stability in the Middle East is to move towards an alliance with Iran. Achieving a nuclear deal with the terrorist state was paramount and the president did not want anything to interfere with it. Attacking Assad, who is backed by Iran, might upset Ayatollah Khamenei and hence kill the deal.  So all we got from Obama were toothless statements that Assad had to go and that he should “step aside,” which Mr. Assad ignored without any consequences.

As for the refugees, this past year a little over 1500 were admitted to the United States, after going through screening to establish that they were really political opponents of Assad who had just reason to seek asylum. Martin O’Malley has called for the United States to accept 65,000 Syrian refugees — which will be ignored by everyone in the administration and is not realistic. Imagine the outcry that would occur if the U.S. did that in light of the unsolved issue of how to deal with our own illegal refugee situation. If this was done, the U.S. would have no way to screen out jihadists who might be entering our country with the large flow.

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My End of August Election Predictions

August 31st, 2015 - 7:49 am

Donald Trump is right about one thing — so far his campaign has been incredibly successful. Despite his narcissism and his ad hominem attacks on other candidates and people who annoy him, he told his Nashville, Tennessee, audience:

This is a movement. I don’t want it to be about me. This is about common sense. It’s about doing the right thing.

At the beginning, many thought The Donald would flame out, but now it seems that some in the media, like Noah Millman at The Week, are not only accepting that his campaign is a serious threat to other Republicans as well as to Democrats, but that it might not be so bad if he actually got the nomination.

Others, like the conservative political analyst Henry Olsen, argue the following:

Trump may have more appeal among tea-party and “very conservative” voters than among others, but he is primarily a protest candidate for the angry of all persuasions. Unless he can somehow persuade women, the college-educated, and those from the center and the center–left of the GOP to change their minds, he is very likely to find his upside limited as other candidates start to drop out, assuming that he is in for the duration. This suggests that an establishment alternative will still have the advantage, passions unleashed by Trump notwithstanding.

But as successful as Trump’s campaign is now, there is a lot that can happen before the primaries and the election. As Michael Isikoff pointed out, Trump has a number of lawsuits pending against him which could cause a snag. As much as the Republican base claims they do not want a member of the political class, when it comes down to it, I think they will turn to a candidate who has a successful conservative political record of getting things done.

Here are my thoughts on what could happen as the months go by.

A Winning Republican Ticket That Does Not Seem Likely Now

If a Republican is to win the Electoral College vote, he has to get the support of the majority of Republicans, traditional Democrats in blue states, and a good share of independents. The candidate best poised to do that — and so far, he’s still near the bottom in the polls — is John Kasich, governor of Ohio. This might not help him with conservatives, but Democratic columnist Frank Bruni has made a case for him:

He won re-election [as Governor of Ohio] there last year with 64 percent of the vote. That largely reflected the weakness of his Democratic opponent, but Kasich’s current approval rating in Ohio of 61 percent affirms his ability to please a constituency beyond Republican partisans and to attract Democrats as well. His popularity with the voters who know him best came through in a recent poll showing him well ahead of Donald Trump among Ohio Republicans.

By cutting taxes and controlling spending in Ohio, he proved his conservative bona fides, at least on fiscal issues, something being stressed in a clever new commercial – note the female and black faces, along with the use of the moon landing to capture a yearning for American greatness — that’s being shown in New Hampshire.

No candidate for president can win without Ohio. Florida is crucial as well, and if Marco Rubio ran as Kasich’s vice president, the Republicans likely would have a successful ticket.

Trump Erodes, Walker Benefits 

I believe Trump’s support will erode and the people will choose a conservative candidate with actual political experience. Since Kasich shows no sign so far of gaining enough ground, that leaves two candidates who might actually receive the nomination: Ted Cruz, who is hoping to inherit Trump’s supporters and has big bucks behind him, and is working hard to prove that winning key southern state primaries will generate similar results in other regions of the country; and Scott Walker.

Of the two, I pick Walker as the eventual winner because of his record and his proven ability to win elections in the blue state of Wisconsin. His recent TV appearances and his foreign policy address the other day show that he is improving his performance and seriousness. Also attractive is his Midwestern persona and ability to relate to regular folks without the bombast and denigration of opponents on display with Trump. (Ben Carson also has these traits, but again I think his lack of political or executive experience will sink him.)

I don’t think the Republican candidate will be Jeb Bush. I have to agree with Trump here: Bush seems low energy, which makes you wonder if he really wants the grueling job.

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For decades, the stalwarts of the American Left depicted all accused of disloyalty in the so-called “McCarthyite” era as victims of the Cold War and an American “witch-hunt.” One such individual, who until his death made a good living portraying himself in this fashion, was Cedric Belfrage, a British expatriate who lived in the U.S. from the ’40s until 1955.

Belfrage was the founder and editor-in-chief of what was the major fellow-traveling American weekly newspaper, The National Guardian, which was created in 1948 as an adjunct of the presidential campaign of Henry A. Wallace on the Progressive Party ticket. The British subject Belfrage was hauled before both Senator McCarthy’s Senate subcommittee and by HUAC in the 1950s, where he invoked the Fifth Amendment. Eventually, he was arrested and deported back to Britain in 1955.

Belfrage then wrote a few books. Among them was one published by a major American publisher in 1973, The American Inquisition: 1945-1950, in which the author claimed that he too was a victim of vicious false accusations that he was a Soviet agent.

We have known for some years, from both the Venona files and the Vassiliev KGB Notebooks, that in fact Belfrage was working for the KGB. In one of their books, Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes call him a “Betrayer of Two Nations.” Writing in Venona, they describe how KGB defector Elizabeth Bentley told the FBI that, while in the U.S., Belfrage regularly met with Soviet agent Jacob Golos to hand over material — both American and British — which he had obtained from the British Security Coordination Office for which he worked.

Bellfrage invented a fanciful story to explain his activities to the FBI when they interviewed him in 1947. He claimed that he had only met with U.S. Communist Party officials in order to gather information on what they knew about Soviet policy to pass on to the British. So in order to establish his credibility with the Soviets, he thought he had to give them some information about British policy.

Belfrage, of course, was lying. Cables proved that he had given the KGB an OSS report on the anti-Communist Yugoslav resistance during World War II, and that he had told the Soviets what Belfrage’s chief in Britain, William Stephenson, had said about the issue of a second front after a meeting Stephenson had with Prime Minister Churchill.

Belfrage also had given Golos actual documents he brought back with him from Britain that were classified.

Only after the FBI informed the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service that he was involved with Soviet intelligence did they move to deport him.

Now, many decades later, London’s Daily Mail features a story about Belfrage providing more information about his espionage in Britain for the Soviet Union. Newly declassified MI-5 files reveal that the information from both the Vassiliev Notebooks and Venona decrypts are totally accurate.

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Populism Is Back, on Both Left and Right

August 17th, 2015 - 2:42 pm

Populism from both the right and the left is sweeping the country, represented by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Trump says he is a conservative while Sanders says he is a democratic socialist, but labels aside, the issues they are emphasizing which are drawing the big crowds often parallel one another.

This week, Trump unveiled his immigration plan. Emphasizing “jobs, wages, and security” in a section titled “Put American Workers First,” Trump writes:

The influx of foreign workers holds down salaries, keeps unemployment high, and makes it difficult for poor and working class Americans — including immigrants themselves and their children — to earn a middle class wage.

We need to control the admission of new low-earning workers in order to: help wages grow, get teenagers back to work, aid minorities’ rise into the middle class, help schools and communities falling behind, and to ensure our immigrant members of the national family become part of the American dream.

If you check some of Sanders’ speeches, he says the exact same thing.

In an interview with Ezra Klein in Vox, Sanders rejects “open borders” as both a Koch family desire as well as that of those he calls “the right-wing.” He tells the interviewer:

Bring in all kinds of people, work for $2 or $3 an hour, that would be great for them. I don’t believe in that. I think we have to raise wages in this country, I think we have to do everything we can to create millions of jobs.

You know what youth unemployment is in the United States of America today? If you’re a white high school graduate, it’s 33 percent, Hispanic 36 percent, African American 51 percent. You think we should open the borders and bring in a lot of low-wage workers, or do you think maybe we should try to get jobs for those kids?

Or, as Daniel Costa writes on the leftist Economic Policy Institute website:

[I]n some cases the importation of new foreign workers can negatively impact the wages of workers in the United States.

Sanders understands that having eight million people working in the U.S. labor market without labor and employment rights puts downward pressure on the wages and working conditions of all workers.

In foreign policy, both Trump and Sanders claim that they always objected to the U.S. war in Iraq. As a congressman, Sanders broke with the House Democrats who supported the war, and he was a critic of Bush 43’s intervention after he was elected to the Senate. Trump also makes clear his major disagreement with the Bush administration, which, as he said to NBC’s Chuck Todd on Meet the Presssquandered billions and condemned many Americans to live with severe wartime injuries while thousands of others died from them.

Populism has a long history in America, heralded by candidates and leaders who have addressed problems that mainstream politicians have avoided. Indeed, the old Populist Party of the 1890s took on the big banks and railroads. Its heyday came in 1894, when Americans gave them 10 percent of the popular vote. Uniting farmers concerned with falling prices for grain and people frightened with the railroads who charged high prices to ship goods to the cities, they believed the solution was free and unlimited coinage of silver while denouncing the gold standard.

In 1896, their concerns were echoed by one mainstream political candidate, William Jennings Bryan, who electrified the Democratic Convention with a stirring speech that ended with his fighting words: “Mankind will not be crucified on a cross of gold.” Bryan, in effect, had co-opted the Populists’ program, bringing its independent-minded voters into the Democrat Party and putting an end to an independent Populist Party.

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Give Chuck Schumer credit for political courage. The New York senator, on the road to becoming the Senate Democratic leader after Harry Reid’s departure, might be risking his political career by announcing that he will vote against President Obama’s major foreign policy “achievement.”

Speculation was that Schumer would not make his decision public, but quietly vote against it. Such a path would have allowed him to avoid the wrath of the large Jewish community that had lobbied him against the deal, as well as the administration and other Democrats who would be grateful that he had not made his decision known in advance. Schumer did not do that. While the administration anticipated that he would ultimately vote against it, they are furious that he made the announcement with so many weeks left to go before the vote when it might influence other Democrats to follow him.

Not only did Schumer write a powerful explanation of why he reached his decision, but he then had a spokesman tell Bloomberg’s Eli Lake “that Schumer would also vote to override an expected Obama veto if the rejection measure passes Congress.”

Schumer made his decision after serious consideration of the deal’s terms. The New York Times reported  that before reaching his decision, he met individually with both the president and secretary of State, with the chief negotiator Wendy Sherman, and with other members of the negotiating team. He got answers to 14 pages of questions he had submitted to them.  Then he met with others including Dennis Ross, Sandy Berger, and Amos Yadlin, a former Israeli air force general. Finally, he spoke with AIPAC leaders who are lobbying against the deal, and with J Street, the leftist Obama apologists who are working on the deal’s behalf. To put it bluntly, Mr. Schumer took his job seriously, and left no stone unturned before deciding to publicly oppose the deal.

That defection is being taken quite seriously by the administration. Indeed, fear of Democrats deserting the administration is precisely why President Obama gave his speech at American University. But instead of drawing praise and support, the president’s snarky remarks and claim that those opposing the deal are warmongers who made “common cause” with the hardliners of Iran only brought on more criticism for his divisive attitude and his clear attempt to not take the fears of opponents seriously. Now he can add Schumer to that list.

Despite this, some conservatives are skeptical about how much Schumer will do to get other Democratic fence-sitters to join him. Writing in Commentary, Jonathan Tobin argues that to prove he is really against the deal, Schumer has to work hard to rally other Democrats to join him. Otherwise, Schumer might simply sit out the fight, or even “work behind the scenes to ensure that Obama will get enough votes to sustain a veto of a resolution rejecting the deal.” He concludes:

That is why Schumer and others who also see themselves as guardians of the alliance [between the U.S. and Israel] can’t merely vote no and then shrug their shoulders while other Democrats allow this disgraceful act of appeasement to survive Congressional scrutiny. The fact that Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, a close Schumer ally, has now said she will vote for the deal is an ominous sign that New York’s senior senator is sitting this fight out.

Tobin has a point, but I agree with his colleague at Commentary, Max Boot, who writes that even if the argument made by Tobin and others has merit, “it still means something when the likely next leader of the Senate Democrats announces his opposition to the signature foreign policy achievement of a Democratic president.” And most importantly, Schumer’s opposition “exposes the deep flaws in the agreement” and undermines Obama’s and Kerry’s key arguments for the deal.

That is why the administration is hitting back.

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The Obama administration is becoming desperate in its attempt to sell the Iran deal. reports that “administration officials are increasingly finding themselves on the defensive against criticism from Republicans and some Democrats, as well as vehement opposition from Israel, according to three officials, who all spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal political deliberations.”

The president probably has enough votes in Congress to sustain a veto should Congress reject the deal, but it still would not look good and would be a rebuke to him if so many in the Senate reject it. That is why, as Politico reports, the president is inviting congressional Democrats to Capitol Hill, and is putting his “focus on marshaling enough Democratic votes to sustain a veto of legislation disapproving of the nuclear deal.”

To deal with this problem, especially given the intense lobbying on the Hill by AIPAC (which plans to take key members of Congress on a trip to Israel during the recess) and the opposition to the deal by mainstream Jewish groups, the Obama administration yesterday took a new step to gain support.

For the first time, the administration has turned to both the far Left and to Iranians who favor détente with Iran to, in effect, become community organizers on its behalf. Yesterday, the president held an unprecedented conference call with left-wing groups, including Rabbi Michael Lerner’s Tikkun magazine subscribers and his “Network of Spiritual Progressives,” and MoveOn.Org. (For those who don’t know, Tikkun is a San Francisco publication published and edited by Lerner, a veteran of the extreme elements in the New Left. Like J Street, it claims it is pro-Israel, pro-peace and pro-Palestinian.)

Writing in the Forward, Nathan Guttman reports that Obama made the following argument:

Obama repeatedly weaved two themes known to strike a chord among progressives: the Iraq war, and the role of big money in Washington’s decision making process.

When put together it sounded something like this: Criticism of the deal, he said, comes “partly from the $20 million that’s being spent lobbying against the bill,” and “partly from the same columnists and former administration officials that were responsible for us getting into the Iraq war.”

Of course, the $20 million figure is a reference to AIPAC, as is his assertion that the same people who opposed the deal are the ones who got the U.S. into the Iraq war.  Some might, as Guttman writes, think that Obama accepts “the notion that the American Jewish community was behind the Iraq war” and that it is the same Jewish neo-cons who would take us to war again. William Daroff, an executive of the Jewish Federations of North America, immediately tweeted “Canard” as he heard the president say these words.

So when President Obama talks, as he did during the conference call, of “a whole bunch of folks who are big check writers to political campaigns, running TV ads, and billionaires who…are putting the squeeze on members of Congress,” he is clearly referring to AIPAC and other Jewish groups whose members are in opposition to the deal with Iran. With good reason, it is fair to refer to the words used by the president as bordering on old anti-Semitic tropes.

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This fall, PBS is presenting a Sundance Film Festival documentary titled The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution on its “Independent Lens” series.  (check your local TV schedule, and watch the trailer here). PBS describes it this way:

Directed and produced by award-winning filmmaker Stanley Nelson, “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution” explores the history of the Black Panthers, founded in 1966 in Oakland, California. The group and its leadership remain powerful and enduring figures in our popular imagination. This film interweaves voices from varied perspectives who lived this story — police, FBI informants, journalists, white supporters, detractors, those who remained loyal to the party and those who left it. Because the participants from all sides were so young in the ’60s and ’70s, they are still around to share firsthand accounts.

The director of the film, Stanley Nelson, is a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellow, a multiple Emmy Award documentary filmmaker, and a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Obama in August 2014. In other words, he has all the correct liberal/left credentials.

PBS touts The Black Panthers as an exemplary documentary film, comparing it to Rory Kennedy’s Last Days in Vietnam, adding that “nearly 50 years after the founding of the Black Panther Party, we think this powerful film is extremely timely, and therefore will resonate with a wide audience.”  I can attest that Nelson is a skilled filmmaker, having seen two of his films: The Murder of Emmett Till and Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple. But despite the claims of PBS publicity, The Black Panthers is anything but an exemplary documentary that accurately depicts the once influential black revolutionary group.

What the film actually does is whitewash and praise what was in reality a group of Stalinist thugs who murdered and killed both police and their own internal dissenters. A devastating review of it is provided in an article by Michael Moynihan that appeared yesterday in The Daily Beast.

In airing this film, PBS is going down the road taken by Oliver Stone and Howard Zinn — that of airing propagandist documentaries meant to glorify leftist figures of our past as both visionaries and fighters for justice. But in the case of the Panthers, the film goes their efforts one better. A leftist might be able to make a case that an anarchist like Emma Goldman and a Socialist like Eugene V. Debs faced persecution for the beliefs they held and the words they spoke. But the Black Panther Party of Huey Newton, Eldridge Cleaver and Bobby Seale is a different story.

A lot of this was exposed years ago in the writings of Peter Collier and David Horowitz, as well as in scores of books by people in or close to the Panthers who told the truth in tomes that were hardly noticed. But coming now, as our country is consumed by new claims that the U.S. is still a racist country that has hardly progressed since the days of segregation, the airing of the Nelson film is sure to become a major hit, both in theaters and when it is aired in the fall.

The film, Moynihan writes, features a “cast of shriveled militants for [a] one-dimensional Panther festschrift – a film that doesn’t disturb the ghost of Alex Rackley [a Panther tortured and then murdered by his own group] or the many other victims of the party’s revenge killings, punishment beatings, purges, or ‘disappearances.’”

What is truly stunning is the revelation that some of those very Panther thugs are now professors at some of our most cherished institutions of higher learning. A man named Jamal Joseph, who went from the Panthers to the infamous Black Liberation Army, and who served twelve and a half years in prison for being part of the 1982 Brinks armored car robbery, in which three police officers were murdered in Nyack, New York, is now a film professor at Columbia University.

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