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Ron Radosh

Monthly Archives: October 2010

In 2004, John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira wrote an acclaimed and seemingly prescient book, The Emerging Democratic Majority. Their thesis was based on a demographic analysis, which led them to predict the end of any future Republican ascendancy. As Judis summed up their thesis after the Obama landslide of 2008, Obama’s “election is the culmination of a Democratic realignment that began in the 1990s, was delayed by September 11, and resumed with the 2006 election. This realignment is predicated on a change in political demography and geography. Groups that had been disproportionately Republican have become disproportionately Democratic, and red states like Virginia have turned blue. Underlying these changes has been a shift in the nation’s ‘fundamentals’–in the structure of society and industry, and in the way Americans think of their families, jobs, and government. The country is no longer ‘America the conservative.’  And, if Obama acts shrewdly to consolidate this new majority, we may soon be ‘America the liberal.’”  Therefore, those commentators who argued that the United States was still a center/right nation were dead wrong.

The realignment, according to the two authors, took place reflecting  “the shift that began decades ago toward a post-industrial economy centered in large urban-suburban metropolitan areas devoted primarily to the production of ideas and services rather than material goods.” And living in these areas were the three main groups that composed the new Democratic majority: professionals, minorities, and women. With Obama’s victory, Judis predicted, a national crisis would produce “popular willingness to entertain dramatic initiatives.” And, moreover, President Obama would not “face the same formidable adversaries” that had faced Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton in previous Democratic administrations.

As for Judis’ advice to the new president, he argued Obama should not move slowly and opt for incremental reforms but move forcefully to a full-fledged commitment to the kind of fundamental transformation of America he promised his left-wing base.

Skip ahead to the present — a scant two years later. The reality today is precisely the opposite of what John B. Judis predicted. His permanent Democratic majority has turned out to be illusory. As a front-page story in The New York Times explained, the coalition that gave Obama his electoral majority in 2008 is fraying apart at the seams. As the story noted, “Republicans have wiped out the advantage held by Democrats in recent election cycles among women, Roman Catholics, less affluent Americans and independents. All of those groups broke for Mr. Obama in 2008 and for Congressional Democrats when they grabbed both chambers from the Republicans four years ago, according to exit polls.”

Moreover, 57 percent of voters surveyed preferred to vote for inexperienced and untested candidates rather than cast their ballot for any Democrat. The shift was also reflected geographically. “Among poll respondents from the Western United States, more said they expected to vote for Republicans this year than said they expected to vote for Democrats; majorities of voters from that region voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 and for Congressional Democrats in 2006, according to the exit polls taken in those elections.” So, contrary to Judis and Teixeira, geography is evidently not always destiny.

In an accompanying story in the same day’s Times, a reporter for the paper found that even in the UAW stronghold of Defiance, Ohio, many of its union residents were drifting over to Republican ranks. This was occurring despite the stimulus and the extension of unemployment benefits that were welcomed by a town where 13 percent of its populace had lost their jobs.

As reporter Erik Eckholm wrote, “bonds to the Democratic Party seem to be loosening here in northwest Ohio, after two years of hardship and a growing sense that many children will be financially worse off than their parents. Skepticism about big government has hardened, especially among the small-business owners who are an increasingly dominant civic voice.”  A woman who ran an insurance agency and supported Obama protested that “he rammed health care down our throats,” and she was furious at the bail-outs of AIG and the big banks. The town’s mayor, who worked at GM back when it hired many of the town’s residents, put it this way: “I don’t hear a lot of support for Obama in this area.”

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I knew that Stanley Kurtz’s new and important book, Radical-in-Chief: Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism, would be the subject of attack. I predicted that at first, the mainstream press would either ignore it or, if they found that they could not, would seek to go on the offense by comparing it to the score of rather knee-jerk screeds written against Obama by other conservatives, many of them rather easy to ridicule, dismiss, and demonize.

Clearly, Kurtz has his hands full, having to try to distinguish his contribution from the rest of the pack and hope that it is taken seriously. I have tried to do my own on its behalf by writing a serious review of the book that will be published in the next issue of National Review. I hope readers buy that issue if they do not subscribe, and take my arguments about it into consideration. I go so far as to write in my conclusion that if the work Kurtz has done for this book had been able to be accomplished during the 2008 campaign, “Barack Obama would not have been elected President because he is simply not who he claimed to be.”

Those who actually bother to read Kurtz’s book know immediately that he bases his analysis on rigorous scholarship, a careful look through the archives of various political groups with which our president has been associated with and influenced by throughout the years. No one else has done this work. The other volumes criticize Obama by talking about his record and his views. Some of the authors easily score points — after all, the Obama administration is not hard to criticize — but at times, they are way off base and issue arguments not backed up by real evidence.

Now, the centrist conservative commentator John Avlon has written a column he calls “The Obama Haters Book Club.” I usually find  Avlon to be someone who makes shrewd and sound observations, and I have in past blog posts linked to him and singled out some of his earlier articles for praise.

What he does in this particular column, however, is purposely link together virtually every anti-Obama book as all being the same. As he puts it, “at this point the titles all blur together in a manic mad-lib, always accusing Obama of something close to war-crimes against the American people.” He next attacks the motives of the authors, writing, “You might not be able to distinguish between the self-published pathology and the semi-professional polemics — they are all fear-mongering for personal and partisan profit.  And that’s the larger point.”

So all the authors, Avlon suggests, are writing only for fame and profit, and do not even believe their own arguments. He does not seem to realize that what is sad is that some of the bad books in his list contain analysis by its writers that its authors do believe. I wonder if Avlon would like it if someone responded to his own recent book Wingnuts with a similar argument.

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Despite his apparent good will in refusing the pleas of the far Left anti-Israeli activists, Pete Seeger’s decision to participate via the Internet on a world-wide Peace in the Middle East Rally emanating in Israel, the noted folksinger is only revealing his naiveté.

As the JTA story reports, “Seeger has rejected calls by individuals and organizations demanding that he cancel his participation in “With Earth and Each Other: A Virtual Rally for a Better Middle East,” an online event promoting peace through cross-border cooperation and scheduled for a Nov. 14 global broadcast at www.withearthandeachother.org.” OK, some mild kudos to Pete for doing that.

But, as Seeger is anxious to make clear, “That doesn’t mean that he supports Israeli policies toward the Palestinians, Seeger says; quite the contrary. He is a longtime donor to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, an organization that became so critical of Israel that it was dropped by the New Israel Fund years ago, and readily decries what he calls ‘monstrous’ Israeli military actions against Palestinian civilians.”

If the group Seeger supports is too far Left for the very far left New Israel Fund, that in itself says a great deal. Evidently, Seeger thinks that calling for peace is good- but naming the real enemies of peace is wrong. Here’s how he sees things:

“My religion is that the world will not survive without dialogue,” Seeger told JTA in an interview from his home in Beacon, N.Y. “I would say to the Israelis and the Palestinians, if you think it’s terrible now, just think ahead 50 years to when the world blows itself up. It will get worse unless you learn how to turn the world around peacefully.” In other words, talk instead of make war; engage in continual dialogue, and eventually you’ll both work it out. No need to examine which side really wants peace and which side does not.

He supported the Montgomery Bus Boycott in the Civil Right’s movements early days, he says, and therefore, Seeger says, “he does not oppose nonviolent efforts, including an economic boycott, to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. But standing in the way of promoting dialogue makes no sense, he said.”

Let’s take a moment and look at this ridiculous moral equivalence. He wants an economic boycott of Israel, although he evidently is not in favor of doing anything to stop Hamas or Hezbollah aggression against Israel, including the rocket attacks a few years ago. In Seeger’s eyes, the only guilty party that is preventing peace in the Middle East is Israel. He also seems to be rather unaware that Israel pulled out of Gaza, and that it is run by Hamas, and is not occupied by Israel. Nor does he seem to know much about the Palestinian Authority and its weak position in the West Bank.

So he agrees with boycotting Israel “financially,” he says, but he is not for “boycotting dialogue.” His kind of dialogue, of course, amounts to a dialogue of the deaf, in which Israel would suffer from economic boycott by the West while the extremists of Hamas are allowed to plot their aggression without opposition and their desire to destroy Israel goes without protest.

Seeger says he does not want to “abandon the world to those who believe in violence.”  But if he bothered to look at evidence, instead of uttering his useless platitudes, he would soon learn that Israel has made substantive peace offers over and over, only to be rebuffed by Palestinian leaders who never agree to recognize Israel’s very existence as  a Jewish state. On this point, they have been consistent since 1947, when they opposed the UN’s decision to partition old Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state.

Why should we be surprised? Throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s, Seeger called for peace,  peaceful co-existence between the United States and the Soviet Union, singing songs like “Put My Name Down, Brother, Where Do I Sign?” a ballad in favor of the Soviet Union’s phony international peace petition that favored unilateral disarmament by the West while leaving the Soviet atomic stockpile intact. He would sing and give his support to peace rallies and marches covertly sponsored by the Soviet Union and its Western front groups and dupes—-while leaving his political criticism only for the United States and its defensive actions during the Cold War.

That the Western and international Left sees Seeger as some kind of traitor speaks only to its own complete extremism. Seeger should pause and ask himself whether these are the people he  sees as misguided allies, and instead of his meaningless vague calls for peace, do something really brave—sing and speak out on behalf of Israel’s right to exist freely as a Jewish state in the Middle East, without having to constantly face the threats of its destruction by the Jihadists and their western left-wing allies.

Perhaps the stupidest explanation coming from NPR about the firing of Juan Williams is that of Alicia C. Shepard, the NPR ombudswoman. Williams, she told the press, was a “lightning rod” for their network, because he “tends to speak one way on NPR and another on Fox.”

Let us interpret this absurd statement. If Shepard is right, his dismissal had nothing to do with the fact that he concurred with Bill O’Reilly’s view that jihad “is the biggest threat on the planet.” Nor did it have anything to do with his candid admission that when he sees people in Muslim garb at the airport, he gets worried and nervous.

First, anyone who listens to Williams on the Fox News panel at 6 p.m. knows that he is Fox’s resident liberal. Very few are the times he agrees with Charles Krauthammer, Bill Kristol, Stephen Hayes, or any other of the resident conservatives at Fox News. Indeed, Williams often takes such standard left/liberal positions that his fellow panelists look at him in utter frustration for what they consider his failure to face up to facts. They are what we would call the regular outlook of an NPR commentator or listener. And that is why Fox put him in that place; he is the official contrarian to the position of most of the Fox team.

The one area in which Williams does dissent from the regular liberal shibboleths, however, is race. And that, I suspect, is the real reason NPR used his Fox News statement about Muslims. They raced to move right away because they never would be able to dismiss him for his unorthodox views — views that must enrage the left-wing black establishment, the Congressional Black Caucus, and the guardians of political correctness on the issue of race.

Remember that when the White House and the Justice Department moved in a nanosecond to fire Shirley Sherrod last July, Williams responded with an article in which he asked the following question:

How is it possible that the once glorious NAACP — the leading name in America’s fight against racial segregation — has come to the point where it is pushing the first black president to fire anyone — but especially a black woman — on a charge of racism without checking to be sure she was a hateful racist? And the NAACP had the full tape, the full facts before they went after her.

“Since when,” he asked in disbelief, “is Glenn Beck the czar of White House race relations?” Williams was referring to the administration’s desire to fire her before Beck would play the edited video that made Sherrod out to sound like a black racist. (Beck did not have the tape, and did not play it.)

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The Dangers of Politicized Conservative History

October 19th, 2010 - 10:00 am

Having spent a good deal of time writing about the crude left-wing history of our country by charlatans like Howard Zinn and Oliver Stone, I have become wary of politicized history in general, whether it comes from the precincts of the far left or the far right.

This time the culprits are on the right, one of the biggest examples being Glenn Beck. On this website, some time ago, I wrote about Beck’s failure to understand Martin Luther King, Jr. A senior editor of Reason, my friend Michael Moynihan, wrote about Beck’s history and insightfully pointed out that a “tiny bit of knowledge … combined with an enormous Fox News constituency and an unflappable trust in one’s own wisdom, is a dangerous thing. Beck doesn’t demonstrate the perils of auto didacticism, but the perils of learning the subject while at the same time attempting to teach it.”

Now, from the precincts of the left, come two important critiques of both Beck’s and the Tea Party’s historical narrative. The first is a new book from Jill Lepore, a Harvard historian of America’s colonial and revolutionary period. Her book, The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle over American History, should be required reading.

Lepore realizes that trying to find a usable past is not only a sin of the right. Indeed, she shows that in the 1970s, the left-wing activist Jeremy Rifkin created what he called “The People’s Bicentennial,” and used the Tea Party as a symbol for his attempt to invoke the Founding Fathers for the left in much the same way Beck and others do for the right today. His group, she writes, was meant to start “a tax-agitating Tea Party, too,” and said Tea stood for “Tax Equity for Americans.” His goal was to obtain “genuine equality of property and power and against taxation without representation,” and the group’s slogan was “Don’t Tread on Me.” Rifkin, she writes, “wrote the Tea Party’s playbook.” (Not surprisingly, Howard Zinn was part of this movement, and his series of books came soon after.)

What Lepore successfully does, however, is reveal the dangers of oversimplification by those who use history for their own political purposes. What she opposes is “historical fundamentalism,” and the false assumptions “about the relationship between the past and the present.” She calls this “the belief that a particular and quite narrowly defined past — ‘the founding’ — is ageless and sacred and to be worshipped; that certain historical texts — ‘the founding documents’ — are to be read in the same spirit with which religious fundamentalists read … the Ten Commandments; that the Founding Fathers were divinely inspired … that political arguments grounded in appeals to the founding documents, as sacred texts, and to the Founding Fathers, … are therefore incontrovertible.”

Unless you only want to read books that reinforce your current beliefs, I believe you owe it to yourself to be challenged by Lepore’s arguments. You will find, as I did, much to disagree with — particularly her own political assessments. But she tries to be fair-minded; she went to scores of Tea Party meetings and events, and lets those she interviewed speak for themselves. As she concludes, “The Revolution was a beginning; the battle over its meaning can have no ending.”

The second article is by the eminent historian Sean Wilentz, and appears in the current issue of The New Yorker. Titled “Confounding Fathers: The Tea Party’s Cold War Roots,” Wilentz has written what is really two different articles — one on history; the other on the Tea Party’s politics. Wilentz is particularly concerned with Glenn Beck’s take on both progressivism and the influence on him of a figure most people are not familiar with, W. Cleon Skousen. In making this argument, Wilentz is not particularly original. He is evidently not aware that three years ago, in the pages of National Review, Skousen’s somewhat nutty arguments were dissected by a former Mormon, writer Mark Hemingway.

Like Wilentz, Hemingway refers to what he calls “Skousen’s dubious achievements,” and he too points to Skousen’s best-selling book from the 1950s, The Naked Communist , a volume “which even for 1958 is so irrational in its paranoia that it would have made Whittaker Chambers blush.” (Wilentz refers to this Skousen book as “a lengthy primer” about “the worldwide leftist threat [filled] with outlandish claims, writing that F.D.R.’s adviser Harry Hopkins had treasonously delivered to the Soviets a large supply of uranium, and that the Russians built the first Sputnik with plans stolen from the United States.” )

Wilentz is also highly indebted to the recent book by left-wing journalist Alexander Zaitchik, Common Nonsense: Glenn Beck and the Triumph of Ignorance, which contains two heavily documented chapters about Skousen and the way in which he has influenced Glenn Beck. Many of the examples in Wilentz’s articles are discussed by Zaitchik, although Wilentz has gone back to some of the original sources and expanded on them. Although much of Zaitchik’s book is polemical and tendentious, his two chapters on Beck’s variant of the Mormon faith and Beck’s reliance on Skousen are on target, and I highly recommend them.

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Today is publication date of Stanley Kurtz’s new and very important  book, Radical-in-Chief:Barack Obama and the Untold Story of American Socialism,  published by Simon and Schuster’s Threshold Editions.  I have one thing I ask of my readers: Please rush to the bookstore, or go online and order it immediately.

What Kurtz has accomplished is what I thought beforehand to be impossible. He has put the dots together, revealing not only how Barack Obama has consciously dissembled about his past, especially in his own memoir Dreams From my Father, but how since his undergraduate years at Occidental College and Columbia University, he has advanced through life in the milieu and orbit of the far Left radical socialist movement.

Kurtz’s book is not another one of these “Obama is a Communist” screeds, many of which have been published in the past two years, and the names of which I will not mention here. These have been written without thought or research, and from news stories or headlines, and reflect only on the polemical skills of the particular authors.  Kurtz’s book is based on extensive research through scores of archives no one has thought of looking at.

I thoroughly concur, therefore, in the judgment of my PJM colleague Roger Kimball, who wrote about it last week. Let me add that as I read the book, I was continually jarred by the accuracy of what Kurtz writes about people whom I knew well, groups to which I belonged, and factional fights long forgotten in which I participated, and which all play a part in the path Barack Obama followed to the Presidency.

The path to a statist style government in America, what Kurtz calls “stealth socialism” because as he points out, the concept and the very words come from its adherents, explain much about the current administration and its domestic policies. To understand the present, we need to go back and look at the past.

So kudos to Stanley Kurtz, who has written what I believe is the most important political book of the year. I will be writing a comprehensive review that will appear in a future issue of National Review. But I want to give my readers a heads up. If the msm book reviewers do not ignore it, we can expect a cavalcade of nasty and dismissive reviews, all meant to destroy the book in the hopes that it will not be read.

So don’t let this happen. Trust me on this one. Watch Kurtz tonight on Sean Hannity’s program on Fox News, and buy the book now.

The latest polls on how Jewish Americans regard Barack Obama do not bode well for the Democratic Party or the Obama administration. A new survey by the American Jewish Committee shows that “forty-nine percent of U.S. Jews approve [of Obama], while 45 percent disapprove of the Obama Administration’s handling of U.S.-Israel relations, according to the new survey. AJC’s earlier survey, conducted in March, found that 55 percent approved and 37 percent disapproved. In AJC’s 2009 survey, 54 percent approved, and 32 percent disapproved.”

The majority still stays loyal to the Democratic Party, but clearly, recent events have led to the disillusionment of many. The drift of Jews away from the Obama administration was surveyed in the now famous article by Ed Klein and Richard Chesnoff that was spiked by Vanity Fair, whose only explanation for their action was that they found no room for it. The authors posted it instead on the Huffington Post, somewhat of an alternative, but hardly one that gave it the same impact had it appeared in the magazine as originally scheduled.

As the authors explain, “today, a sizable number of American Jews are having a serious case of buyer’s remorse when it comes to Barack Obama. Recent polls of the Jewish community reflect a significant decline in support from 2008, when 78 percent of Jewish voters pulled the lever for Obama. According to a recent McLaughlin & Associates poll, a plurality of Jewish voters would now consider voting for someone else for president.” Given the historic loyalty of Jews to the Democratic Party, this is no small thing.

And the writers add that these polls “do not begin to measure the depth of displeasure felt by many of Jews over President Obama’s performance.” The main objection is Obama’s inept handling of American-Israeli relations, particularly its institution of the concept of “linkage.” As the Anti-Defamation League’s chairman Abe Foxman explained, “I came away from the meeting convinced that Obama has introduced a new and dangerous strategy and that it’s revealing itself in steps. Unlike other administrations, this one is applying linkage in the Middle East. It’s saying that if you resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the messiah will come and the lions will lie down with the lambs. All the president’s advisers on the Middle East, starting with George Mitchell, believe in linkage, and they’re telling the president you have to prove to the Arab Muslim world that you are different than previous presidents and you can separate yourself from Israel, distance yourself from the settlements issue. After all, settlements are something that American Jews don’t like anyway, so it’s a win-win proposition.”

Klein and Chesnoff continue at length to point out in great detail the extent of the Jewish leaders’ disillusionment with Obama and his team, and they offer particularly tough quotes to substantiate their argument. One in particular struck me. They quote suspense novelist Jonathan Kellerman, who is also a professor of Psychology at the University of Southern California. Kellerman told them: “My personal opinion … is that the bifurcation of Israel and Judaism is structurally fallacious. The Land of Israel is an essential ingredient of Judaism practiced fully. Thus, it is impossible to be anti-Israel and not be anti-Jewish. And in fact, the war being waged against Israel by the Muslim world is, at the core, a religious dispute. Radical Islamists no longer talk about Zionists; they come right out and broadcast their goal of eradicating worldwide Jewry.”

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In this weekend’s New York Times Book Review, journalist Sam Roberts, who wrote a book about David Greenglass and his role in the Rosenberg case, The Brother:The Untold Story of the Rosenberg Case, has a review of two new books about the Rosenbergs.

Roberts pays little attention to what is in fact a major new book about the case, one that is a real page-turner as well as one filled with much new information about the man whose testimony led to the conviction of both Klaus Fuchs, the German born British subject and atom spy, and Ethel and Julius Rosenberg and David Greenglass. That man is the little- known Philadelphia chemist Harry Gold, who is usually depicted by the Rosenberg’s defenders as a liar, moral monster and a total psychopath. The book is Allen Hornblum’s The Invisible Harry Gold: The Man Who Gave the Soviets the Atom Bomb. (I am in the process of writing a review of it for The Weekly Standard.)

The other book, the main focus of Roberts’ attention, is by the late Walter Schneir and his wife Miriam, Final Verdict: What Really Happened in the Rosenberg Case. Really not more than a short pamphlet — supposedly the result of ten years of research and writing, and yet a scant 100 pages of large print text with only seventeen footnotes — it is already no.1 in US History on Amazon’s book page. I suspect this is because of the attention Roberts gives it, and the misleading and laudatory treatment he presents. (My review of it will appear in the December issue of Commentary.)

True, Roberts calls it a “slim posthumously published volume,” but he is incorrect to say it is based on “new evidence,” and also incorrect to say that Walter Schneir really changed his mind about his original belief that the United States had framed up the Rosenbergs because of testimony from “self-serving liars.”  The truth is that although Schneir and his wife now believe that Julius Rosenberg was a Soviet agent, they still believe their original take on the case was right: the Rosenbergs were framed up for giving the Russians the “secret” of the A-bomb because of their “progressive” political views.

It is rather ridiculous that the Schneirs, who for forty years or more argued on behalf of the Rosenbergs’ complete innocence, now should be awarded stars for reluctantly concluding what others had proved since the mid 1980s, especially since they write that for those (who like this writer) had proved the Rosenbergs were Soviet agents, they say they have one response: “No regrets. No apologies.”

Having once said that courier Harry Gold never met David Greenglass near Los Alamos and gave a sketch of the bomb to be handed over to Julius Rosenberg, they now admit he had been there, but argue instead that not only was his material worth little, but that David Greenglass was the only real atom spy, and that he testified against his brother-in-law Julius Rosenberg to cover up his own active spy career. It is about this preposterous theory — for which Walter Schneir offers no evidence at all — that Roberts writes his “version is not completely implausible.” Moreover, he adds that the truth “will have to await the full opening of K.G.B. archives for verification.”

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The late Italian Communist and Marxist intellectual Antonio Gramsci was correct. Before any major social change can take place — such as the revolution he favored — those who seek it have to wage a fight for what he called cultural hegemony, via a war of position in which the intellectual and cultural issues that will decide the nation’s future are adopted by the people who desire a new path.

When he was a Marxist, the great historian Eugene D. Genovese, now a rock-ribbed conservative, wrote against what he called the “cult of perpetual adolescence,” in which would-be revolutionaries rebelled against society for its own sake, and did not want to “face the necessity of waging a long, hard struggle to reshape our national culture as well as our national politics.” That is what is meant by waging the war over culture — and just as Tea Party members and other conservatives have now adopted Alinsky’s tactics as a rule-book for organizing, so must conservatives adopt Gramsci’s insight and wage a war over cultural issues before they can be successful in changing our country’s politics.

Fortunately, there are a few major conservative intellectuals who understand this vital task. I wrote months ago about the journal National Affairs, which is carrying on this vital work. Today, I want to single out the equally important Claremont Review of Books, which is the preeminent intellectual journal of conservative ideas and books. It does for conservatism what the New York Review of Books has done for liberalism and leftism, and which has had a major impact on the mindset of the majority of academia.

The new issue arrived in my mail last weeks, and I urge all PJM readers to subscribe. The issue is filled with many gems — there are simply too many important articles in this one issue to cover them all.

The most outstanding article, to my mind, is by Denis Boyles, an author who lives and teaches in France. Called “Spineless Intellectuals,” [unfortunately not online] it deals with the vital arguments made by Paul Berman and Theodore Dalrymple against the capitulation of today’s liberals to Jihad and terrorism, one author coming from the left side of the spectrum and the other from the right, but both agreeing on the “failure of the culture…to synthesize and make useful the episodic insanity of our times.”

Boyles makes one of the most cogent observations about how liberal intellectuals think, and why despite so many facts that face them, they refuse to change their minds no matter how strong the evidence. I myself come across this all the time, particularly when writing about the importance of understanding the reality of what Soviet espionage meant to America in the 1940s and 50s, and how to this day, the guilt of people like the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss is not accepted by so many mainstream liberals.

My friends and colleagues Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes say they are simply “in denial,” but that does not go far enough. Boyles nails why they are. He writes:

In the end, most people- but especially contemporary intellectuals-believe what they believe because it’s too uncomfortable (or just too much work) to disrupt the seamless narrative of a carefully shaped worldview by trying to accommodate contrary evidence. The result is the kind of ignorance of obvious factors. … In fact, simply tracking the needed refutations to these intellectual narratives can make one tipsy with anger.

Or to paraphrase the famous statement of George Orwell, there are some things so stupid that only intellectuals can believe them. Orwell understood what he called “the shallow self-righteousness of the left-wing intelligentsia,” and were he alive today, he undoubtedly would have been rather shocked at how shallower their thought has become since his own time. Boyles comments on the clever attitude taken by the so-called moderate Muslim intellectual Tariq Ramadan, who knew he could win over the support of most liberal intellectuals because he understood “that they would believe what they needed to believe in any case,” and would ignore the kind of evidence the brave Paul Berman massed against him.

Now, on to William Voegeli’s important discussion of the impact of Rep. Paul Ryan’s detailed plans for how to deal with our current economic situation. Voegeli, a Claremont fellow, is author of the important book Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State, one of the most cogent discussions of the failures of our nanny state. Ryan’s prominence, he writes, “derives from his ability, increasingly rare in Washington, to be serious about public policy without being strident about partisan politics.” When liberals complain that conservatives just say “no” to their wonderful schemes, they simply ignore that Ryan stands out for bringing to the discussion his own thorough and carefully thought out conservative alternative to statist liberalism.

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There was a time when the mainstream trade union movement confined itself to union concerns — a union contract that guaranteed a decent standard of living, and in turn for a negotiated agreement with the corporation, guaranteed labor stability and productivity. Large corporations learned quickly, as did the leadership of General Electric in the 1930s, that signing with the union, even as in their case a Communist-led union, meant the opportunity for both profits and economic growth. The stockholders were more than pleased, and the workers represented by the union achieved their rather minimal aims.

The unions accepted the corporation as the essential institution  necessary for economic growth and prosperity, and its leadership understood well that Marxian oriented radicalism threatened their membership’s own freedom and growing higher standard of living. Gerard Swope, the president of General Electric in the 30s and author of a highly publicized plan for a corporatist reorganization of America — the so-called Swope Plan — rejoiced when the Communist-controlled United Electrical Workers/CIO organized his plants and won the work force’s allegiance. “If you can’t get along with these fellows and settle matters,” he told one of GE’s vice-presidents, “there’s something wrong with you.” As for the Communist union he and his staff had to deal with, he remarked that they were “well led; the discipline good.” The CP union chief, Julius Emspak, returned the compliment by calling Swope an “enlightened” employer, who understood that “industry would have to recognize” that union leaders might eventually even have to sit on the corporation’s board of directors.

In turn for labor peace, Swope even supported a thirty-hour work week and a federal minimum wage. His goal was to integrate the work force into the system, and make it a patriotic defender of capitalism; not an antagonist.  The current AFL-CIO leadership is far removed from the type of leaders who built the industrial union movement in the 1930s, and whom Swope could easily work with.

They are also removed from the union leaders of the 1950s, such as the social-democrat Walter Reuther. Reuther built the United Automobile Workers into a forceful organization that made auto workers part of the middle-class and led them to become the kind of workers who quickly abandoned revolutionary schemes, as they found that working within our democratic system gave them the ability to realize the American Dream. Reuther also played a major part in purging the Communists from the union leadership in the post-war era, as the Communists’ allegiance to Stalin and the Soviet Union led them to function as a force seeking to align labor with America’s enemies.

I raise all these historical points because they came to mind when I viewed the trade union movement sponsorship this past weekend of the rather pathetic so-called “One Nation” rally. Scores of unions chartered buses and got some of their members to board them for their answer to Glenn Beck’s massive Aug. 28th rally that captivated the nation.

Reuther, were he alive today, would have been horrified to see what the marchers on Washington were saying in labor’s name, as well as the scores of fanatical  communist grouplets that dominated the march and that advocated a blatant anti-American and revolutionary agenda.

Writing on FrontPagemag.com, Rich Trzupek accurately observes how “Saturday’s ‘One Nation’ rally in Washington demonstrated just how far out of step the Left is with America.” Having once sought to condemn Tea Partiers as racist and anarchists, now  “they’re telling America that Tea Partiers are corporate shills.” MSNBC’s talking head, the repulsive and little watched Ed Schultz, told the small crowd that “this march is about the power to the people. It is about the people standing up to the corporations. The conservative voices of America, they are holding you down. They don’t believe in your freedom. They want the concentration of wealth. They’ve shipped your job overseas.”

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