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Ron Radosh

Monthly Archives: August 2011

A few not to be missed articles or blogs have appeared in the past few days. The first is by the conservative New York Times columnist, Ross Douthat. Most people, especially those who still buy the print edition, see his regular featured column. But fewer people read his blog, which appears only on the paper’s website, and for that, one usually has to search to find. Two days ago, Douthat wrote about the myth spread by many Democrats and liberals: that conservatives and Republicans want to institute a theocracy in America.

As Douthat points out,

[A] spate of recent articles have linked the Republican presidential candidates to scary-sounding political theologies like “Dominionism” and “Christian Reconstructionism,” and used these links to suggest that Christian extremism is once more on the march.

He wisely notes that

when candidates wear their religion on their sleeve, especially, the press has every right to ask how that faith relates to their political agenda.

But he goes on to caution the media that reporters and writers should not assume that

the most radical figure in a particular community is always the most important one, or the most extreme passage in a particular writer’s work always defines his real-world influence.

Because a column is limited in words, he did not present any examples, aside from referring to outgoing executive editor Bill Keller’s recent article in the paper’s magazine section, as well as the piece by Ryan Lizza in The New Yorker. But he was not able to cite and comment in detail on what in particular was wrong with either of their presentations. Addressing the usual double standard when journalists write about beloved figures on the Left, and how they write about those on the Right, he comments:

If you didn’t spend the Jeremiah Wright controversy searching works of black liberation theology for inflammatory evidence of what Obama “really” believed, you probably shouldn’t obsess over the supposed links between Rick Perry and R. J. Rushdoony, the Christian Reconstructionist guru.

Now, on his informal blog, Douthat expands at length in a way he could not in his column. In particular, he dissects Lizza’s highly influential article. One has to realize that the attitude Lizza expresses towards a strong, avowed Christian candidate like Michele Bachmann is going to be picked up and cited by scores of  readers, as well as the MSM, as proof that Bachmann is beholden to truly dangerous religious zealots.

First, Douthat acknowledges that Lizza was correct to ask Bachmann to talk to him about influences on her that led to her current outlook and especially to her political beliefs. This is fair ground. After all, many of us did the same when we urged journalists not to ignore the influences on Barack Obama of liberation theology and his own pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Clearly, in Bachmann’s case, as Douthat writes, there is a connection “between her ideological perspective and the particular cluster of evangelical institutions where most of her political education took place.”

But, he adds, Lizza also spent a lot of space linking her — without real evidence — to Francis Schaeffer, a 1970s evangelical activist, theologian, and scholar. Lizza’s point was to create a link between Bachmann and what is called “Dominionism,” the new boogey-man of the Left, which is supposed to take over the nation if someone like Bachmann or Rick Perry become our president.

What Douthat does is tear apart the bulk of Lizza’s conspiracy theorizing, showing that he even gets Schaeffer entirely wrong. As he writes, those beliefs “are a long way from the claim that Christians ‘alone’ are ‘mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns.’ Likewise, it seems rather strange to depict a writer who goes out of his way to critique the Constantinian settlement as a supporter of Christian ‘dominion’ over public life.” Schaeffer was accused by Lizza, for example, of wanting to propose the “violent overthrow” of the U.S. government if  the current abortion laws were not overturned . Douthat points out that Schaeffer actually “insisted that ‘the distinction between force and violence is crucial,’ warning Christians considering civil disobedience to remember ‘that overreaction can too easily become the ugly horror of sheer violence.’”

Unlike Lizza, Douthat’s blog gives his readers Schaeffer’s actual views to consider, not a parody of them. The man was closer in thought to Thoreau or Martin Luther King, Jr., than to any advocate of armed terrorism. He notes that most New Yorker readers take Lizza’s article at face value, and since they know nothing about evangelical thought, believe most of what he says. If Bachmann’s mentors are shown to be essentially nutty zealots, then she too must be the same.

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Every few years, when Americans seem disappointed with the nominees of the two major political parties, talk begins about the need to form a third party. I confess that once I too had that idea. In 1996, when I wrote my book about the Democratic Party, I ended it with the following argument:

the fact is that in America…the Democratic Party as a whole has shifted to the Left, precisely at the moment when the Republican Party has shifted toward the Right. That means that the old political Center has eroded once and for all — a fact that has led many Americans to hope for the creation of a new political party of the Center, the kind that might be led by the likes of Bill Bradley, Colin Powell or Sam Nunn.

Much has changed since I wrote those words, including how I see the world today. I was right that the Democratic Party was beyond repair and in effect had become the equivalent of a European style social-democratic or socialist party in all but name. I called in my final paragraph for a party that represents post-Cold War America, that “stands for fiscal and personal responsibility, cultural conservatism, and a more limited and constrained social safety net.” That is still our requirement, now more than ever. But it is clear that such an outcome will come only from the ranks of the Republican Party, unless a time arises when conservatives will come to have a major influence in the Democratic ranks.

Now, the influential New York Times columnist, Thomas L. Friedman, has recently argued that indeed we need an alternative to the current two-party system. He believes neither party meets the bill for creating a sound American future. He more or less endorses what he calls a new “quiet political start-up that is now ready to show its hand, a viable, centrist, third presidential ticket, elected by an Internet convention,” which he says is “going to emerge in 2012.” He claims that it is being endorsed by an “impressive group of frustrated Democrats, Republicans and independents,” and is called Americans Elect. According to Friedman, it has obtained 1.6 million signatures to get on the California ballot as part of an effort to get ballot status in all 50 states.

That argument is also contained in the forthcoming book co-authored by Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum, the distinguished Christian A. Herter Professor of American Foreign Policy at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. It is titled That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back. It is clear that the argument on behalf of Americans Elect will only get more publicity as the days go on.

Friedman and Mandelbaum obviously hope, as Friedman writes in his column, to blow open the entire nominating process, thereby “guaranteeing that a credible third choice, nominated independently,” will be available for all Americans to have come the 2012 election day.

The first question to ask, since we are told that the group’s offices are “swank” and a “stone’s throw from the White House,” is: who is financing the organization? Friedman tells us only that its funds come for “serious hedge-fund money.” I ask a simple question: when is hedge-fund money a source of independent centrist thought, which comes to the country from the top down and from the brains of a Times columnist and not from any genuine bottom-up people’s organization?

How do they know, since their convention will be an Internet ballot, that all Americans will have access, and that people in favor of one or another candidate will not vote many times from different computers and using different handles? Have they even thought that out? Friedman says “the people will choose the issues.” You bet: Thomas Friedman and friends will play no party, except, of course, for setting forth the agenda and dominating its announcement of party principles. How democratic.

Oh, we are told that all we have to do is go to the Americans Elect website and register — again: many times, with different names, if we so choose. Will they know that this is not being done by interested partisans? The answer is rather obvious.

Friedman says only serious candidates will be permitted — “no Lady Gaga allowed.” I guess he would permit a Barack Obama type — who had no real experience to handle the job of president, no real record in the Senate, and one real job behind him — that of community organizer. Some of us, I think, might prefer Lady Gaga instead. After all, she obviously is a marketing and business genius.

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The new statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. opened on the National Mall yesterday, with much hoopla as well as with much controversy. It was sculpted by a Chinese artist named Lei Yixin, shown above with his prototype of the King statue.

Denver based artist Ed Dwight, who was on the planning committee for the King memorial, was anything but happy. Dr. King, Dwight said,  “would be turning over in his grave if he knew that the artist who sculpted King was from a Communist country.” Others added that they thought King looked confrontational, and that his face looked Asian rather than American.

One thing struck me as I looked at the photos of the King Memorial. Having toured China, and having seen scores of huge Mao statues still on display throughout the country, I immediately thought that the King Memorial looks very similar to all those giant Mao statues glorifying the “Great Helmsman” in the People’s Republic of China.

See here for yourself in the following two examples, and look closely at the face of Mao and compare it to that of Dr. King:

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Will the Left in America help defeat Barack Obama in the 2012 election? Judging from the increasing anger at the president from the Left, that certainly is a very real possibility. One need do no more than take a look at the current issue of Newsweek — once a serious publication and now just another left/liberal opinion rag. Its so-called “double issue” is actually a very thin 61 pages, which includes ads. Perhaps this is an indication that readers are deserting it in droves, and that its takeover by Tina Brown has not made much of a difference in rescuing the publication from oblivion.

First, the magazine opens with an amazing article by William Broyles, a past editor in chief of Newsweek who is now a screenwriter and who was an avid supporter of Obama in the 2008 election.  The article is titled “Oval Office Appeaser.” Broyles has composed a far-left screed accusing Obama of deserting and disappointing the activist base that did the legwork for him in the last campaign, and of a complete failure to lead the country. Instead, Broyles accuses the president of appeasing the Republicans. He writes that “the right-wing radicals in control of the Republican Party of course are not Nazis” –  a clever way of planting the idea in readers’ minds that in fact, Broyles considers them not far away from being just that. But, he adds, as an appeaser, the closest comparison of what Obama reflects is his similarity to the British prime minister who orchestrated the Munich appeasement policy, Neville Chamberlain. Obama, he writes, is “a decent man who values peace and civility at any cost” who is “no match for his Republican adversaries.”

Clearly, Broyles does not believe in the explanation given by an Obama administration member who told  journalist Ryan Lizza that Obama “leads from behind.” Instead, he says that Obama could have created a bold effort to put the country back to work, and demanded an up or down vote by Congress that could have saved America. He argues that the president   “meekly allowed the 60-vote super-majority needed to shut off a Senate filibuster to become…an automatic veto.” Accusing him of “unilateral disarmament,” he writes that Obama favored disastrous half measures forged in back rooms, favoring a “timid stimulus that was a meager Band-Aid” along with a “timid health-care bill.”  He does not say what he favors, but it most probably is massive federal spending and programs, a greater stimulus a la Krugman, and a federal single-payer system or socialized medicine similar to the British system.

So, Broyles says, Obama “betrayed his allies,” meaning the trade unions, the left intellectuals like Broyles, and the young people who rallied to him with stars in their eyes in 2008. In his eyes, the president is a reactionary — similar to the Republicans Broyles detests. He constantly wants to appease the Tea Party, instead of upping the ante and fighting them head on. After all, why should a president even take into consideration the electorate who won the last congressional election and put a Republican majority in the House? They are just voters, and thus do not count. Didn’t he make a promise to his base, who thought he would create the American social democracy they so love in the failing European states?

So Broyles wants a strong leader — in particular,  Hillary Clinton. He tells Obama to do what Chamberlain did — resign and hand over the Democratic nomination to Hillary, “the leader we should have chosen in the first place.” But they and Broyles did not support her; indeed, they supported Barack Obama, because they realized he came from the Left and was a black man to boot. Broyles seems to have forgotten the vicious campaign they ran against Secretary Clinton before the nomination, along with the charge that it was racist to oppose Obama.

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You remember Obama’s departed Green czar, the once self-proclaimed revolutionary Communist Van Jones? Well, the man is back. According to Michelle Goldberg, writing  in The Daily Beast, on July 23 Jones threw a Washington, D.C., party to announce the creation of what he predicts will be the left-wing’s Tea Party, which he calls the “American Dream Movement.” Goldberg writes:

Launched at a July 23 event in New York City that was part rally, party dance party, the American Dream Movement aims to restore the fight for economic justice to the center of progressive politics. On Aug. 9, the movement put out its crowd-sourced “Contract for the American Dream,” a 10-point economic manifesto that called for new investments in education and infrastructure; higher taxes for corporations, Wall Street and the wealthy; and curbs on lobbyists. The next day, it was published as a full-page ad in The New York Times. Democratic Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois will soon introduce the Emergency Jobs to Restore the American Dream Act, legislation based on the document.

Since I read the Times online, I did not see the full–page ad — one of the benefits of not reading the print edition. Actually, Jones’ movement was first announced last February at the Huffington Post — but somehow, the earlier announcement produced no traction. Nothing like a re-release to try again.

While Jones introduces it as a left version of the Tea Party, it is more accurately thought of as a 21st century version of the Communist Party’s Popular Front of the 1930s. After all, just as the CPUSA hid its Red politics and communist aims under the guise of “20th century Americanism,” Jones too hides his real aims in a similar fashion. Remember CP’s wartime chief Earl Browder, who proclaimed the slogan “Communism is 20th century Americanism,” under photos of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Karl Marx? The slogan lasted until old Joe Stalin took offense at the audacity of undermining loyalty to the Soviet Union, and ordered that the slogan be ditched overnight.

Jones, as we may recall, in a now famous 2005 newspaper interview said that “I’m willing to forgo the cheap satisfaction of the radical pose for the deep satisfaction of radical ends.” No longer announcing that he is a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist, Jones is proceeding to try and build social movements along the classic lines of the old communist movement of the 1930s and 40s  that he once sought to openly emulate.

With his new movement, Jones hopes not to have to depend for cadre on a small group of East Bay radicals in San Francisco, but to create a movement from above that appears to be like the actual Tea Party, a movement that started from below. It’s a classic CP strategy. As the Old Left sees the New Deal era, FDR was pushed to the Left by a powerful social movement composed of the working class that was organizing the CIO — the industry-wide new trade union movement. That pressure from below supposedly forced Roosevelt to turn to more left-wing programs, hence the slew of legislation that became the hallmark of the Second New Deal after 1935.

Hence Jones’ belief is that with his American Dream Movement, a groundswell of protest will emerge that will both keep Barack Obama in the White House and at the same time force him to do what the Left so far has not been able to accomplish: openly force him to espouse and to gather momentum for new widespread government spending, all based on increasing the U.S. deficit through Keynesian spending mechanisms.

Of course, in the 1930s  there was an actual social movement that was based in reality and enabled labor to eventually reject radicalism and move into the middle class. Big industry welcomed the stability it got through contractual arrangements with big labor, and easily made peace with the unions — until recent times, when the deals they made came crashing apart under the strain of the collapsed New Deal model of a modern economy.

Now, there is no viable real left-wing movement, except it lives in the dream world of people like Van Jones. As Jones explained it, “The job of leading an independent movement to bring out the best in our country is not the same job as being head of state. I’m glad [Obama] is there, and I will do everything in my power to make sure he stays head of state until they have to pull him out of there. I might block the driveway at the end of 2016. But the job of creating an independent movement that brings out the best in the American people, that’s our job.”

Jones, since he is an old hand of the Left, must realize that an “independent movement” cannot be created by an announcement, by funding from the likes of  a George Soros fund for left-wing activity, or by throwing a dance party in Washington, D.C. It has to have some basis in the real world, not just in the minds of leftists. Of course he has deluded followers like Michelle Goldberg, who seems to actually believe that Jones’ “careful study of American political movements” led him to create this one new organization that will succeed because it is the “distillation of what he has learned.”

It sounds pretty old fashioned to this writer. Its umbrella front will be called “Rebuilding the Dream,” and its work will be carried on through the extreme left’s favorite group, MoveOn.Org. How this will lead to success is something Ms.Goldberg cannot explain. Indeed, reveals a bit of desperation for Van Jones, who otherwise would avoid a group like MoveOn.org like the plague. Indeed, MoveOn’s director proclaims that the new Jones group will be “the Tea Party Express.”  Goldberg goes on to give what is in fact a rather pathetic example of this. She cite 1500 people gathering at Montana’s state capitol to protest local budget cuts!

What is unique about Jones’ effort — as sure to fail as his earlier attempts to create a movement — is his adoption of a patriotic theme — again, taken directly from the old communist movement playbook. As one of his supporters, Rep. Keith Ellison, says, “I’m so glad that he has clearly recognized that we as progressives cannot concede patriotic themes to the right wing. Why would we ever do that? Everything we love about this country — the right to vote, equality before the law, the right to organize—these things were won by patriotic Americans.” Members of the Tea Party, he says, “wrap themselves in the flag, but they’re not upholding core American values. We are.”

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Before we can defeat Barack Obama in 2012, we need clarity on what he stands for, so we know how to make arguments that resonate with the American people, and so we oppose him accurately. Today, the conservative movement’s most formidable intellectual, Norman Podhoretz, weighed in with his estimate of what precisely our president believes.

Writing in the weekend Wall Street Journal, the long-time former editor of Commentary essentially made the case that Obama is a leftist and an advocate of a European style social-democratic state for America. Podhoretz starts from the common acknowledgement on both Left and Right that Obama’s star no longer shines. The Left and the trade unions are fed up with him, since except for ObamaCare, he was not able to give them what they hoped he would accomplish almost immediately. They see him as a compromiser, a poor politician, and a man afraid to fight their conservative opponents.

Podhoretz puts it nicely in this paragraph:

In short, the spell that Mr. Obama once cast—a spell so powerful that instead of ridiculing him when he boasted that he would cause “the oceans to stop rising and the planet to heal,” all of liberaldom fell into a delirious swoon—has now been broken by its traumatic realization that he is neither the “god” Newsweek in all seriousness declared him to be nor even a messianic deliverer.

But contrary to those who think that Obama does not know what he believes or is simply an opportunist who will do anything to get re-elected, Podhoretz stands firmly with observers like Stanley Kurtz — whom he does not mention — who have for a long time been arguing the case that our president indeed is a serious leftist, who developed intellectually and politically in the left-wing culture of his time and who believes deeply in its goals and its programs. Democrats have denied this, he writes, but do so only by ignoring or dismissing what Mr. Obama himself, in a rare moment of candor, promised at the tail end of his run for the presidency: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

Like others, Podhoretz points to Obama’s long association with Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and Rashid Khalidi. When Kurtz and many others documented these ties, they were ridiculed or ignored. Many bought the phony argument that the president was only eight years old when Ayers planted bombs. While that was true, they completely ignored his many ties with Ayers and the Left while Obama was an adult and living in Chicago. And that the president took the title of his own memoir from a Wright speech, was close to the reverend, and was a member of his congregation for years. Evidently, the press bought the lame excuse that when Wright made his most contentious comments, Obama was not present and knew nothing about them.

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The rioting continues unabated in London, and as of this writing, David Cameron has called out an extensive police presence and vowed to do everything possible to prevent them from spreading. Cameron should have acted earlier, but at least he cut short his Italian vacation to rush back to London and use his powers as prime minister to take the tough action that is needed. The measures include the stationing of 10,000 additional police throughout London, as well as the possible use of water cannons. He has good reason to enforce these measures. Last night, three men were killed when some of the thugs drove their car into a group protecting homes and businesses from looters. As of Wednesday, 1200 people had been arrested.

Londoners had good reason to applaud. An online petition was being circulated calling for rioters to lose all government welfare benefits they might have been receiving. The text said: “No taxpayer should have to contribute to those who have destroyed property, stolen from their community and shown a disregard for the country that provides for them.”  And Cameron added that the problem was as “much a moral problem as a political problem,” referring to pockets of society that “are not just broken, but are frankly sick.”

That, of course, will not win him plaudits from the British and the international left wing. As expected, a New York Times report of the riots is written in the usual liberal style, to try and show sympathy for the looters. The story’s headline proclaims: “London Riots Put Spotlight on Troubled, Unemployed Youths in Britain.” It’s the old liberal shibboleth: the underclass riots when the welfare state has failed it. The reporters quote one rioter, 19, as explaining that he took a $195 designer sweater “to get my penny’s worth.” Why not? The culture has told him he has a right to get what the rich can buy, so why not just help himself? The Times story, however, tells readers that the riots “reflect the alienation and resentment of many young people in Britain,” where one million people between 16 and 24 years of age are unemployed. The story notes that “economic despair” and “racial tension and thuggery” derive from the new austerity measures that are starting “to take effect.” In other words: if only the British government had not acted to cut spending and get its economic house in order, then there would be no riots.

Moreover, the story blames teachers who spend time educating solid middle-class students and who ignore those who cannot keep up. As the story says, “the most vulnerable people feel trapped.” As one rioter told police: “You know you are all racist! You know it.”

The former mayor of London, “Red” Ken Livingstone, said that rioting and destruction of businesses had no justification — but as if to contradict himself “Red” Ken noted that they had to “have a serious discussion about why this has happened.” Hence he feared that “the police will be forced into escalating conflict,” by which he meant that they may actually stop the looters from rioting and burning businesses and homes, and take tough measures to stop the riots. The danger was not from the looters, but from Thatcherism. As he said, “We do not want to go back to the 1980s.” The fault, as he saw it, was “cuts being imposed by the Tory government,” as when “Margaret Thatcher imposed such policies.” Those cuts lead to “people losing control.” It is not the fault of the looters and their culture, but the Tory governments who stop giving them handouts.

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An intriguing op-ed by Drew Westen, a leftist professor of psychology at Emory University, appears in today’s New York Times. What is surprising about Professor Westen’s article is that many of his observations make points that conservatives have said about President Barack Obama for quite some time.  Take this paragraph, for example, in which Westen asks why Obama seems to “take both sides of every issue, encouraging voters to project whatever they want on him”:

The most charitable explanation is that he and his advisers have succumbed to a view of electoral success to which many Democrats succumb — that “centrist” voters like “centrist” politicians. Unfortunately, reality is more complicated. Centrist voters prefer honest politicians who help them solve their problems. A second possibility is that he is simply not up to the task by virtue of his lack of experience and a character defect that might not have been so debilitating at some other time in history. Those of us who were bewitched by his eloquence on the campaign trail chose to ignore some disquieting aspects of his biography: that he had accomplished very little before he ran for president, having never run a business or a state; that he had a singularly unremarkable career as a law professor, publishing nothing in 12 years at the University of Chicago other than an autobiography; and that, before joining the United States Senate, he had voted “present” (instead of “yea” or “nay”) 130 times, sometimes dodging difficult issues.

If Professor Westen ignored all of the above, it speaks only to his inability and that of his like-minded friends to read such warnings by various commentators who regularly made these points at PJMedia as well as National Review, The Weekly Standard, and other conservative outlets. Westen, as you might suspect, has a different answer. He argues that our nation might be “held hostage…by an extremist Republican Party” and that Obama might be a president “who either does not know what he believes or is willing to take whatever position he thinks will lead to his re-election.” Or he might be a “man of integrity” who was “corrupted” by a political system that is already bankrupt.

So Westen manages to give voice to the extreme disillusionment the Left has with Barack Obama, which, of course, is why the Times chose to make his quite lengthy essay a main feature of “the Sunday Review” section.  The heart of his argument, however, is that Obama has failed because he did not move further to the left, and because he failed to tell the American people what they “needed to hear.” At this point, his narrative veers way off course, since the very things he complains that Obama has not done are, in fact, precisely what he has said and done.

He is mad that when the president assumed office, “the nation was in tatters,” and Americans were “scared and angry.” People had lost their jobs and homes and their savings as well. The president could have found those responsible, restored order, and punished those who brought such havoc to bear. The culprits were Wall Street speculators and  “conservative extremists.” (Does he mean that George W. Bush, who increased government spending and the deficit, was an extremist?) Obama could have told the people the deficit was not the problem, but rather, the failure to spend more money on pensions and give the entire populace, not just the wealthy, a fair share.

Does Westen really forget that for the past few years, Obama has regularly attacked the rich and the wealthy with their corporate jets and fancy lifestyle, and said over and over — as he did during the campaign in his famous joust with  Joe the Plumber — that redistribution of wealth is necessary to right wrongs? Westen argues, as does the rest of the Left, that Obama should have emulated the path taken by FDR, who used “the resources of the United States to put Americans directly to work.”

So in his eyes, Obama should have created a federal jobs program — which of course would have employed Americans at far below a minimum wage and had little to do with increased productivity or getting the economy going. As most of us know, FDR did not end the Great Depression, and before war spending set in and joblessness ended with the draft, people were beginning to talk about the new “Roosevelt depression” that was looming. Westen quotes FDR’s famous statement about how the rich have “hate for me — and I welcome their hatred,” the very kind of class warfare rhetoric Democrats have in our current time become masters at, and use regularly.

So Westen is disappointed that Obama did not become FDR, and did not take a left turn such as Roosevelt supposedly did in the so-called Second New Deal. Rather, he chides Obama for having a “deep-seated aversion to conflict,” and for not understanding the need to make the right-wing “bully show his true and repugnant face in public.”

What his argument amounts to, of course, is a criticism of the American people, who in his eyes foolishly responded to a very real crisis by electing a Republican  House of Representatives in the last election, and might very well follow suit by soon electing a Republican Senate and president as well. If this occurs, he thinks it will be because Obama pursued instead a “politics of appeasement.” Instead of allowing New Deal policies to collapse, Obama should have made them stronger and introduced new laws that went even further than FDR had. As he puts it, “he backed away from his advisers who proposed a big stimulus, and then diluted it with tax cuts that had already been shown to be inert. The result, as predicted in advance, was a half-stimulus that half-stimulated the economy.” He should have, in other words, listened to the advice of Paul Krugman.

The result was that the stupid American people — “stupid” is how I argue Westen feels about the people — thought that “Ronald Reagan was right, that government is the problem.” They thought this because Obama did not explain why we had to engage in deficit spending, and why we had to have universal health care. In other words, it was not Obama’s policies that were at fault, but only his failure to communicate.

So he says we need a president who will put Americans back to work. What Westen’s problem is, however, is that he favors a policy that will not lead to economic growth, but that will have the very opposite effect: punishing those who favor growth and productivity, which will lead to employment and more jobs. What he wants is an Obama who does not “choose the message of bipartisanship,” but rather, that of “the message of confrontation.” One wonders where Mr. Westen was all those times when the latter was precisely the message put out by the White House and by Nancy Pelosi and company when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.

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As Juan Williams recently pointed out, the British News of the World hacking scandal does not seem to have extended into any of Rupert Murdoch’s American properties. Nevertheless, as Williams puts it in an interview with Howard Kurtz, “For people who don’t like Murdoch and don’t like Fox, people who are the haters, they’re looking for an opportunity to see if this can allow them to bring him down.”

True enough. Now to those MSM media outlets that are seeking to do just that, we can add the intelligentsia’s favorite outlet, The New York Review of Books. Blogging at their web page, media analyst and journalist Michael Massing argues, as the headline of his blog puts it, “It’s Time to Scrutinize Fox.” And Massing notes that all his colleagues are hard at work trying to bring Fox down: “Since the outbreak of the News Corporation scandal in Britain, journalists on this side of the Atlantic have been intently scrutinizing Rupert Murdoch’s American operations in the hopes of uncovering similar improprieties.”

They haven’t found any as yet, but that hasn’t stopped Massing from reaching his conclusions in advance of any investigation. Fox is guilty here, just as Murdoch’s staff in Britain was in using illegal and reprehensible actions to get a story. What have they done that is so bad? Here’s one of Massing’s examples. Their DC lobbyist, Michael Regan, is quoted in the Washington Post as being “one of the most muscular teams in town.” How terrible. A lobbyist who works hard for the firm he is hired to represent. The horror!

Then there is the dreadful New York Post. [I pause for journalistic integrity. Over the years, I have written many op-eds that appeared in their pages.] The paper is a tabloid. Massing’s charge:

Under Murdoch’s control, the Post has trafficked in the type of malicious, salacious tabloid journalism practiced by the now-defunct News of the World and the still-reeking Sun. The paper has delighted in breaking (and making) politicians, smearing enemies, and ridiculing many ordinary citizens. Its utter amorality was on recent display in its coverage of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair, when in a matter of days it abruptly pivoted on its front page from calling him a “perv” to labeling his accuser a “hooker” (for which she is now suing the paper).

Of course Massing knows that the maid is telling the truth, and that DSK is lying. Why am I surprised? After all, DSK’s integrity was sworn to by his wife and by Bernard Henri-Levy. Why could he be lying? I don’t know who is lying and who is telling the truth. But from what we now know about DSK, he is somewhat of a vile man, if not exactly a “perv.”

Now let us move on to Massing’s real target,  Fox News. His wrath and anger is unsurpassed.  Its first great sin: “Fox has helped to foster the Tea Party and amplify its message.” When the Tea Party emerged, no one else was giving it attention. I assume that Massing hoped that Fox would sit back and follow the MSM’s decision to emulate our president and lead from behind. But not only did Fox not do that, it put Tea Party people on its stations, let them get its message out, and hired hosts like Glenn Beck who openly sympathized with its agenda.

What really bothers him, of course, is Fox’s ratings. As he confesses: “With a daily prime-time viewership of around 2 million — more than that of CNN and MSNBC combined — it has become the Republican Party’s most powerful booster.”  So what he is really upset about is that people choose to tune them in. And since they have made that choice and there is no mechanism to prevent folks at home from watching what they choose to watch, there is only one solution: Take them off the air!

More offensive to him is that Roger Ailes, Fox’s chief, does not particularly like the current Republican field of candidates, and therefore he had the audacity to supposedly call Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and ask him to enter the race. Well, we know Ailes is a Republican — he got his start as a media advisor to Richard Nixon. He is also a private citizen, and if he did call Christie, he obviously did that in his capacity as a concerned citizen and voter. But to Massing, such a call is something that should not have happened.

Massing himself admits, reluctantly I am sure, that “Unlike News of the World, there’s no indication (as of now) that Fox has engaged in illegal activity.” If that is the case — and it is — what warrants a federal investigation of the network? Massing has an answer. It violates “every journalistic and ethical standard.” These are the following, according to our intellectual media expert: “It has promoted preposterous conspiracy theories, peddled blatant falsehoods, and given a soapbox to all sorts of cranks and crackpots.”

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Now that the Senate has passed the rise in the debt ceiling, and the liberals and left wing are yelling about betrayal and capitulation of the Obama administration to the Tea Party, why are so many Tea Party representatives and conservative talk show hosts so unhappy?

Driving back home from DC today, I listened to both Glenn Beck and some of Rush Limbaugh, and caught Beck’s interview with Senator Rand Paul as well. Essentially, the theme of the day was that the final agreement would put the nation into further debt, erode the strength of the dollar, eventually lead to increased taxes, and, all in all, produce a debacle greater than that which would have happened had our nation gone into actual default.

From the perspective of the Tea Party hardcore, it seems, any agreement or compromise such as that finalized at the 11th hour is nothing but a betrayal of principle and, as Beck kept saying, “playing the game” instead of standing firm and proud.

If that is the case, why is the Left united in its scathing denunciation of the president for totally capitulating to the Tea Party, and why is it dreading a decade long conservative ascendance in American politics? As Stephen Moore points out in today’s Wall Street Journal:

CNN called the package “a real victory for the tea party,” and that is what has left-wing groups irate. The AFL-CIO and other pro-spending groups had insisted that tax hikes on oil companies and wealthy individuals be part of any compromise. The final deal has no tax increases, though it would allow for new revenues through tax reform.

Columnist Joe Nocera, writing in today’s New York Times, a bellwether for leftist opinion, calls the Tea Party members the equivalent of “terrorists,” who “have waged jihad on the American people.” Jihad? Is he kidding? To raise legitimate questions about the quagmire our nation is falling into by spending more than it has is evidently something that cannot be allowed. If only everyone read only his paper and they had the power to close down Fox News, then Nocera would be happy. But in his eyes, those who tell the truth about the fragile nature of our economy are the ones who want to destroy the nation and, as he writes, had the goal of destroying our nation’s credit and  saw “their goal, …[as] worth blowing up the country for, if that’s what it took.”

Of course, Nocera and his op-ed colleague Paul Krugman continually sing the same song: the problem is unemployment, which can only be cured by more, not less, government spending. In their eyes, the problem was not the failed stimulus, but only that the stimulus was too small and the country would have been saved had it been much, much larger.

What really bothers Nocera and others, as Rich Lowry writes,  is: “That a Washington with a Democratic Senate and president has to go through the exercise of at least appearing to cut $2.1 trillion from the deficit with no guaranteed tax increases is a humiliating reversal for Keynes’s self-appointed heirs.” Hence, the pronouncement of the liberal Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, who noted that the agreement is “the final interment of John Maynard Keynes.”

Yes, the entitlement state has not come to an end. The special committee the deal created could eventually recommend increased taxes. But to any sane observer, American politics and the culture have moved more in a conservative direction, and the committee could also explore where further cuts in spending can be made. So Lowry concludes that “the nation’s debate has fundamentally shifted onto the ground of what kinds of spending to cut, and how fast and far. Keynes would be appalled, but as even Dick Durbin realizes, he’s dead and gone.”

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