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Ron Radosh

Monthly Archives: February 2012

In today’s Daily Beast, Andrew Sullivan has posted a blog post that is so delusional and so over the line that it goes far beyond anything he has yet written in the many tirades he has posted against Israel.  In the course of the post, he argues the following:

First, “a Third World War based on religion” is most likely “inevitable.” The cause of that war will most likely not be the mullahs and theocrats of Iran, which might indeed be the case if its leaders succeed in obtaining nuclear weapons, but rather the Jewish state of Israel!

Second, he actually says — putting himself in the shadow of dozens of notorious anti-Semites from Father Coughlin to Gerald L.K.Smith in the 1930s, to Pat Buchanan and his supporters in present day America — that the media in the United States is controlled by Jewish interests, and hence is friendly to Israel. He writes that the Israeli government can rally “its media outlets (like Fox, and the Washington Post),” as well as “a key part of the Democratic fundraising machinery to side entirely with Israel against the US president.” I bet you did not realize that Fox, the Washington Post, and the Democratic National Committee were all controlled by Israel and its lobby!

Third, and most serious of all, he concludes his article with the truly bizarre charge that Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu (who, he earlier writes, is beholden to his “neo-fascist base”) is “in league with Romney, Santorum and Gingrich,[and] will make his move to get rid of Obama soon. [my emphasis] And he will be more lethal to this president than any of his domestic foes.”

Let us parse that paragraph for a brief moment. He does not write they will try to get Obama removed from office by a presidential campaign, in which the citizenry might heed their call and elect one of them our president if successful, but that they will try to “get rid of” him in a “lethal” way. Is this just bad writing, or is Sullivan suggesting in some underhanded manner that Netanyahu and his controlled Republican candidates are trying somehow to assassinate or shoot him?

His article is filled with other major gaffes. He takes a news analysis in the New York Times and accuses it of minimizing “the potentially catastrophic global consequences of an Israeli-initiated war against another Muslim nation.” The story is just one person’s analysis, not an official document.

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There is a reason that the United Automobile Workers and its troops are urging its Michigan members to vote Tuesday in the crossover Michigan primary, and to cast their vote not for Barack Obama, but for Rick Santorum. They understand, as evidently many conservatives and Republicans do not comprehend, that Santorum as the Republican nominee would be nothing but a wonderful gift for the Democratic Party.

In an election year in which by all measurable standards Barack Obama should be toast, and when his major policy “achievement” of ObamaCare is detested by the public in all the polls, he is ahead in the same polls when pitted against any of the current crop of Republican candidates and gaining strength with every passing day. And even with rising gas prices — which of course will fall by November — and high unemployment, it is more than likely that the current occupant of the White House will indeed have a second term in office. If Rick Santorum is the nominee, it is a certainty that Obama will win.

Certainly, one can admire a great deal of Santorum’s firmness in standing for what he sincerely believes, as even Joe Klein admirably points out. True, Klein writes, he has been over the top, especially arguing that America today is more under the rule of Satan than in any of its past history. But, as Klein writes:

When you leave Hitler and Satan aside, there is something admirable about Santorum’s near Tourettic insistence on bringing up issues no one else wants to talk about. His position on education — that parents need to spend a lot more time supervising their children’s schooling — draws stifled groans from the overworked parents in his audiences, but he’s right: parents know best how their children learn. His emphasis on the importance of intact families is undoubtedly correct as well; every major study since the 1960s has shown the disaster that results from out-of-wedlock births. Even Santorum’s use of prenatal testing raises uncomfortable issues for many people. It was a sonogram that helped determine that the Santorums’ son Gabriel needed microsurgery in the womb to clear his bladder. Rick and Karen decided to fight for Gabriel’s life, which nearly cost Karen her own, and they passionately embraced the child during his two hours on earth. They have spent the past three years caring for their daughter Isabella, whose genetic defect, trisomy 18, is an early-death sentence.

And, as our colleague Michael Ledeen has reminded us, Santorum has a strong understanding of the major threat Iran is to the national security of the entire West, not just Israel and the United States. And he had that comprehension before anyone else, when saying this out loud was not particularly popular. As Ledeen writes:

Mr. Santorum believes the United States must lead the struggle for freedom throughout the world, on grounds of morality and national security, which he believes go hand in hand. He does not like the drift away from leadership and engagement in that struggle, especially under President Obama.

For these reasons, I would hope that if Mitt Romney becomes the nominee and somehow wins the presidency, he would appoint Santorum head of the National Security Council and John Bolton secretary of State. The two would be a strong and tough team that could change our disastrous foreign policy and finally develop one that would gain respect for our country throughout the world. But such a comprehension does not mean Santorum can win the White House in a general election.

The point has been well made by Kathleen Parker, who writes:

He’s so far out of step with the majority of Americans that he can’t hope to win the votes of moderates and independents so crucial to victory in November. The Republican Party’s insistence on conservative purity, meanwhile, will result in the cold comfort of defeat with honor and, in the longer term, potential extinction.

You can agree with Santorum’s total opposition to abortions for women in any case whatsoever, but if you look at how so many Republican women bolted in anger against the GOP when informed last week of the proposed Virginia legislation that would have forced vaginal insertion of a probe into a woman’s body, you get an indication of how national adoption of Santorum’s policies would create a storm. As Parker wrote:

When did Republicans, who supposedly believe in less government intervention, begin thinking that invading a person’s body against her will was remotely acceptable?

The debate with a Santorum candidacy would focus on his social views, and be about contraception, Catholic views of birth control, state enforced vaginal penetration of women’s bodies before abortion, and generally about Santorum himself. Forgotten will be the economy, jobs, unemployment, and foreign policy. The Democrats will simply make sure of this. Democrats will charge, falsely of course, that Republicans are campaigning against birth control, and to bolster their charge, they will pull out of the hat Santorum’s own complicated and difficult-to-understand views that he has expressed in the past. As Parker says, just look at the math. Sixty-seven percent of women are Democrats or independents, and more of them vote than men.

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The Times’ Tabloid Trolling

February 23rd, 2012 - 1:35 pm

Is there any reason on earth that can justify Matt Bai’s article in this coming Sunday’s New York Times Magazine? Ostensibly a profile about Scott Ritter, the well-known former United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq, and his present-day troubles, the piece plumbs the depths of supermarket tabloid journalism.

Ritter, you might recall, had reached a level of notoriety when he shifted in 2002 from a man certain of hidden WMDs in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to an anti-war activist assuring the world (way before he or anyone else had real evidence) of the opposite and the necessity of peace with the dictator. (You can read his bio in the Wikipedia entry about him)

Back in that early era, he told The News Hour with Jim Lehrer that “without effective inspections, without effective monitoring, Iraq can in a very short period of time measured in months, reconstitute chemical and biological weapons, long-range ballistic missiles to deliver these weapons, and even certain aspects of their developing of nuclear weapons programs.”

In protest against the UN’s do-nothing response to Hussein’s decision to suspend cooperation with inspectors, Ritter resigned. Having opposed containment Ritter suddenly shifted to favoring a policy that one might justifiably call appeasement. He embraced the role of bi-partisan critic of both the Clinton and the Bush administrations for believing the kind of argument he had himself made earlier — that Hussein’s lack of cooperation and intransigence made his nation a very real threat to the world’s peace and stability.

Writing about Clinton, for example, he said that he had witnessed “firsthand the duplicitous Iraq policies of the administration of Bill Clinton, the implementation of which saw a President lie to the American people about a threat he knew was hyped.” Its real aim, he charged, was regime change — trying to “remove Saddam Hussein from power.”

Soon enough, Ritter made the documentary film Shifting Sands in 2000. It was financed by an Iraqi-American later found guilty of felony charges in 2004 in the UN Oil for Food scandal.

From arguing Iraq might reconstitute weapons programs, Ritter quickly moved to claiming that no evidence for development existed at all. Thus, Ritter became a hero to the anti-war movement and, as Bai notes, was entertained and wined and dined by the likes of Warren Beatty, Barbra Streisand, and others of the Hollywood elite.

All of the above, however, is not the handle for Bai’s story. Rather: the salacious, tawdry portrayal of a pathetic, haunted man — a premature pedophile, who spent his time surfing the internet in search of teenage girls he planned to meet at secret locations (such as deserted parking lots at night) where he could then masturbate in front of them! Yes, this is the theme of Bai’s articles, complete with the details we really do not need to know.

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The Follies of Thomas Friedman’s Third Party

February 21st, 2012 - 7:17 am

Writing in the current issue of The Weekly Standard, which was published on Saturday, Michael Warren predicted what Thomas Friedman would say about the prospect of a third-party candidacy in 2012. Wrote Warren, imagining a debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama:

Now imagine moderator Jim Lehrer asking each of the three how he plans to rein in the massive federal budget deficit. Obama argues that the rich need to pay their fair share and defense spending must shrink. Romney responds that it’s domestic spending that needs cutting, and taxes should stay low to spur the sluggish economy. Then, Lehrer turns to the man in the middle.

“There they go again,” our mystery candidate quips. “The same politics as usual. Is it any wonder Washington can’t get things done?” Thomas Friedman … revel(s) in the moment.

And so, as Warren continues, we have the phenomenon of the well-funded but not so well-known group Americans Elect, which is beating the drums for a third-party campaign by as yet an unknown candidate: a moderate the likes of Jon Huntsman from the Republican Party or Evan Bayh from the Democratic Party. Elliot Ackerman, the son of wealthy investor Peter Ackerman who started the group, told Warren: “They have no ‘ideal’ person in mind but hope to see a candidate who can resist being forced ‘into the two narrow boxes that the two major parties have regarding policy positions.’”

No sooner than I read this, I turned on Sunday to the editorial page of the New York Times, and true to Warren’s prediction, Thomas Friedman was on the warpath again, truly reveling in the moment that he and both elder and younger Ackerman see as America’s moment for a new party. If Rick Santorum gets the nomination, Friedman argues, “there is a good chance a Third Party will try to fill the space between the really ‘severely conservative Santorum (or even Mitt Romney) and the left-of-center Barack Obama.” What Friedman wants is “an intelligent independent candidate just taking part in the presidential debates,” which would make Obama and his Republican opponent “better.”

His choice would be the founder of Americans Elect, David Walker, a man committed to fiscal sanity for the United States. Like conservatives, Walker worries that if we do not tend to our fiscal house, the U.S. too could well go the way of Greece. So Walker agrees with conservatives that Democrats are in denial about renegotiating the terms of the social contract. But he also argues that Obama falls short on addressing the structural deficits at home as well, and in particular, the necessary reforms we need to make on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

So far so good. One might ask at this point why not just support a Republican, or a conservative that has made just these points over and over?

These points have, however, met only with the response from the Democratic side and from liberals of a firm no, or simply name-calling, or nonsense that Republicans want to throw grandma off a cliff. But Walker argues that the Republicans are not willing to support higher taxes, which we need as well to attain fiscal sanity.

Get it now? We need a candidate who stands with the Republicans for budget cuts, and with Democrats for higher taxes!

Take one solution from Column A and another from Column B, as in the Chinese restaurants of yesteryear. In Walker’s eyes, we need $1 in new revenue for each $3 made in spending cuts, and that means tax reform. “The Republicans,” he claims, are “simply in denial about this.” Actually,  as I’m certain most conservatives know, there are many conservatives who indeed have called many times for major tax reform as necessary for fiscal prudence. Such a program, of course, is something quite different than calling for tax increases, which is the generally preferred left/liberal solution, advanced by calls for “taxing the rich.”

So what, if anything, is wrong with the Walker-Friedman scenario? What is right with it, if anything?

In the 2010 Republican Senate primary in Delaware, we saw that Christine O’Donnell got the Republican slot instead of the more moderate congressman, Mike Castle. She then lost by a large percentage to the Democrat Chris Coons. Clearly, had Castle been nominated, he would have easily won. Had Americans Elect been on the ballot at the state level, as Warren writes, “Castle might have run and won as an independent.” There are many more similar examples one can come up with.

But on a national level, a third party would have quite a different result. And here, we have our own political history as an example. In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt announced he would run again for the seat on a new “Bull Moose” or Progressive Party, challenging William Howard Taft on the Republican ticket, Woodrow Wilson on the Democratic ticket, and Socialist Party leader Eugene V. Debs.

The result, as Wikipedia reports, was the weakest Republican ticket in history:

The split in the Republican vote resulted in the weakest Republican effort in history. Roosevelt’s strong third-party candidacy created the only instance in the twentieth century of a third-party candidate receiving more electoral votes than one of the major-party candidates: although he failed to become chief executive again, Roosevelt succeeded in his vendetta against Taft, who received just 23% of the popular vote compared to Roosevelt’s 27%. The election of 1912 was also the only election in which a third-party candidate received more popular votes than one of the major-party candidates. Winning only eight electoral votes, Taft suffered a worse defeat than any other president defeated for re-election.

Wilson easily won election despite getting fewer votes and a lower percentage than William Jennings Bryan had for the Democrats four years previously: 6.3 million votes and 42% to 6.4 million and 43% for Bryan, who lost badly to Taft in 1908. The split in the Republican vote made it possible for Wilson to carry a number of states that had been reliably Republican for decades. For the first time since 1852, a majority of the New England states were carried by a Democrat. In fact, Wilson was the first Democratic presidential candidate ever to carry the state of Massachusetts (whereas Rhode Island and Maine had not been carried by a Democrat since 1852). On the West coast, Oregon had not been carried by a Democrat since 1868.

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Why MSNBC Can’t Stand Pat Buchanan

February 18th, 2012 - 12:05 pm

A few days ago, MSNBC made it official: The cable station fired Pat Buchanan from his regular gig as a commentator on various programs, including, most usually, Morning Joe. Buchanan made his dismissal public with the following widely reprinted editorial, which he wrote for the website of The American Conservative, the paleo-con magazine where he once served as founding editor. “After 10 enjoyable years,” he wrote, “I am departing, after an incessant clamor from the left that to permit me continued access to the microphones of MSNBC would be an outrage against decency, and dangerous.”

Now all defenders of the First Amendment should be upset if someone is fired because of “clamor from the left.” That would mean the political left-wing has the power to fire someone because he is not an advocate of their side. If one such firing is allowed and overlooked, then someone else whom you approve of but others do not could be next.

So let us look more carefully at Buchanan’s case. Let me state my position on the issue at the beginning, before my analysis. I believe Pat Buchanan is a demagogue, an anti-Semite, as well as a man who holds to a simplistic analysis that others have regularly torn apart over the years. On the issue of his well-discussed anti-Semitism, I give you two sources: First, there is In Search of Anti-Semitismby William F. Buckley, Jr., which features a reprint of a 1991 article in National Review where the late dean of conservatism reluctantly concluded that Buchanan was indeed an anti-Semite.

The second source are two articles by Joshua Muravchick, this one here, and another one which he later wrote here. At the time, I wrote my own analysis for PJM, and concluded by asking the following question: “Isn’t about time that responsible conservatives stop giving him any credibility?” So, I believe that any network, including MSNBC, should not have hired Buchanan in the first place, given that he is hardly a person who can be considered serious on essential issues.

The other commentary I would cite about him was written by Christopher Hitchens, and may indeed be the single most devastating assault Buchanan ever received. Hitch wrote a review of Buchanan’s book Churchill, Hitler, and “The Unnecessary War”: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World. Here is Hitch’s penultimate paragraph skewering Buchanan:

As the book develops, Buchanan begins to unmask his true colors more and more. It is one thing to make the case that Germany was ill-used, and German minorities harshly maltreated, as a consequence of the 1914 war of which Germany’s grim emperor was one of the prime instigators. It’s quite another thing to say that the Nazi decision to embark on a Holocaust of European Jewry was “not a cause of the war but an awful consequence of the war.” Not only is Buchanan claiming that Hitler’s fanatical racism did not hugely increase the likelihood of war, but he is also making the insinuation that those who wanted to resist him are the ones who are equally if not indeed mainly responsible for the murder of the Jews!

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Many conservatives have argued that J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the A-bomb, was both a Communist and a Soviet spy. In 1954 — way after the war’s end and the once top-secret Manhattan Project at wartime Los Alamos — the Atomic Energy Commission called Oppenheimer to answer questions about associations he had before the war, about which he had answered dishonestly. Despite his success in completing the bomb on time  (giving the United States an atomic monopoly), the AEC took away his security clearance. As liberals of the time saw it, even America’s most famous scientist was not immune to the wrath of the McCarthyites.

Liberals saw Oppie, as he was called, as a victim of guilt by association. Much of the Right saw him as a legitimate security risk. No one, it seemed, was immune to having his or her career halted, no matter what their accomplishments. So what is the truth? Was Oppie a Communist, a spy, or both? Or was he neither?

Now, in a scholarly but very readable and important article, John Earl Haynes and Harvey Klehr have answered the question. They do not satisfy either those who believe he was a Soviet spy — as did my friend the late Eric Breindel — or those on the left who believe he was a good liberal smeared by the right wing.

Two authors who take the latter point of view are Kai Bird and historian Martin J. Sherwin. Both won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 2005, for their book American Prometheus. As the PW review of their book puts its theme, Oppenheimer “was branded a security risk at the height of anticommunist hysteria in 1954” and the authors claim that Oppie had only “‘hazy and vague’ connections to the Communist Party in the 1930 — loose interactions consistent with the activities of contemporary progressives.”

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At present, foreign policy is not playing a part in the campaign. But with a looming crisis coming with Iran over the state of its nuclear capabilities, it will not be on the back burner for long. Soon, both President Obama and the Republican candidates for the nomination will have to make clear specifically how they would handle events. There is simply no escaping that formidable task.

In the important dispatch that is the cover of Newsweek International this week (but not the American edition of the magazine, whose editors evidently think it is too serious and will not sell copies), reporters Daniel Klaidman, Eli Lake, and Dan Ephron discuss the various impediments that might interfere with Barack Obama dealing meaningfully with the mullahs’ program to give Iran a nuclear weapon. The major problem remains differences on the issue with Israel, for whom an Iranian bomb is a real existential threat, not one that can easily be overlooked on the belief that if Iran gets the bomb, it will adhere to the doctrine of mutually assured destruction, as did the Soviet Union during the Cold War.

As the Newsweek team reports, as recently as January 12 Obama called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to inform him that the U.S. wants the time and space for sanctions to take effect, and most importantly, to convey that the U.S. “doesn’t want Israel to start a war — not yet, anyway.” Obama, they write, has three goals he must constantly juggle: to keep nuclear weapons out of Iran, to prevent the oil-economy from collapsing, and to manage Israel, which they consider a “wild card.”

The problem is that the various goals interfere with each other. The Israelis have tried to discern what would happen if Israel does strike Iran. They do not know what the U.S. will do if Israel’s leaders decide they must launch a strike against Iran. Nor does Israel know just how much the Obama administration really is committed to preventing a nuclear Iran.

The heart of the issue is a difference over when each power thinks Iran will attain nuclear capability. The authors write that a Pentagon source informed them that some of Israel’s activities — such as suspected assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists — interfered with the opportunity for a diplomatic solution the Obama administration prefers. After last year’s AIPAC meeting, they reveal, previous close cooperation between Israeli and U.S. intelligence and military officials ended and discussion between them over “planning, analysis and training cycles for a possible attack on Iran” also came to an end.

Now, a year later, Israeli officials believe that the Obama administration has changed, enough so that they see a “positive evolution” by the president on the question of what to do about Iran. They think that Obama is now ready “to attack if worse comes to worst,” and that the U.S and Iran face a “growing risk of a big conflict.”

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Like many of you, I have been watching CPAC’s conference from the convenience of my home, availing myself of C-SPAN’s superb wall-to-wall coverage. It proves to be somewhat easier than going there, and finding only that one is forced to watch the event in hallway monitors. It’s hard to get into a session when there are more than 10,000 people in attendance.

The last hour Mitt Romney received warm support and applause from what looked on TV to be a largely young crowd—proof that today’s movement is made up of young and idealistic conservatives, not the unrepresentative minority of activists who make up OWS.

What Mitt Romney achieved in his speech is to prove to the conservative confab that his credentials and outlook as a conservative are second to none. Under assault from Newt Gingrich — who regularly calls him a “Massachusetts liberal” and worse — Romney accomplished what he had to do, without mentioning either Gingrich’s or Santorum’s name, referring only in passing to the other candidates seeking CPAC’s support.

He told the audience: “I happen to be the only candidate in this race, Republican or Democrat, who has never worked a day in Washington. I don’t have old scores to settle or decades of cloakroom deals that I have to defend.” Mentioning the famous Obama statement that this opposition “clings to their guns and religion,” Romney responded that “We are also proud to cling to our Constitution.”

He continued on to note his seriousness about slimming down the size of government, being fiscally conservative, and doing what he did in business — “balancing budget; eliminating waste, and…keeping as far away from government as humanly possible. I did some of the very things conservatism is designed for- I started new businesses and turned around broken ones.”

Without mentioning Rick Santorum’s name — at a moment when Santorum is his main challenger — Romney sought to convince the audience that he too is a movement social conservative. He cited his effort as governor of Massachusetts to oppose same-sex marriage, barring out-of-state gay couples from marrying there. “We fought hard,” Romney said, and “prevented Massachusetts from becoming the as Vegas of gay marriage.” He vowed that as president, he would support and defend the Defense of Marriage Act, and would “fight for an amendment that defines marriage as a relation between one man and one woman.”

The essence of his presentation was to depict himself not as the caricature portrayed by Newt Gingrich, but as a “severely conservative Republican governor.”

An hour earlier, CPAC also heard from the always charming and humorous Ann Coulter, who reiterated her position as a firm Romney champion. Coulter, for those who have seen her at previous CPAC or other conservative venues, is a favorite of conservative young people. She is always sharp and clever, if sometimes over the top, as when today she mentioned that Bill Clinton showed expertise by “ejaculating on White House interns.” But the heart of her speech was to try and convince the audience that since Chris Christie did not heed her calls to be the nominee — “He doesn’t even answer my phone calls,” she said — that the choice of the Republican Party has to be Mitt Romney.

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The real issue surrounding the recent Sunday event in Chicago, in which former Weather Underground leaders Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn hosted a dinner for Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson, Caller editor Jamie Weinstein, media mogul Andrew Breitbart, Weekly Standard writer Matt Labash, and a Caller reader, is the legitimization of Ayers and Dohrn. That was not the fault of those who attended the dinner, but of the Illinois Humanities Council, the state’s facilitator and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), which is subsidized by your taxpayer dollars.

The reason that Carlson and company were attending the dinner is because they won it at an auction held by the Council. Carlson cast the highest winning bid, which was $2,500. One might wonder why the Council would even think of auctioning off a dinner with two unrepentant advocates of “armed struggle,” who are dedicated in principle to the creation of a revolutionary communist future for the United States. A quick run through the Council’s search engine provides the answer: Bill Ayers in particular is a regular participant in the Council’s programs!

Moreover, they describe Ayers in the following words:

Bill Ayers is  a school reform activist and Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is founder of the Center for Youth and Society and founder and co-director of the Small Schools Workshop. He has written extensively about social justice, democracy, and education. His book, Fugitive Days, is a memoir that chronicles the anti-war movement of the 60s.

Notice what is missing. The most prominent omission is that for which Ayers is most well known: as a founder and leader of the revolutionary terrorist group active in the 1960s and 70s, the so-called Weather Underground Organization, originally known as The Weathermen, but which had a name change after its revolutionary women — including Dohrn — criticized the leadership for its “sexism.”

Instead of letting Council readers know what the members believed, they simply praise Ayers for his concern for “social justice, democracy and education.” And anyone who has actually read Ayers’ memoir knows that it is hardly a chronicle of the anti-war movement.

Rather, as I pointed out in the review I wrote of Fugitive Days, he wants to “puke” when he hears anyone say that America is a “fair and decent place.” As I pointed out,

Ayers still looks back with fondness on the violence of what was called in those days the “New Left.” Indeed, in Fugitive Days, he attempts to bring his readers to share his reasoning. He and his comrades were moved, he insists, by the most decent of motives to undertake, not terrorism, but a restrained and purposeful form of “resistance.” Terrorists seek to harm average people—men, women, and children—without regard to the target. For the Weather Underground, “the symbolic nature of the target” was paramount. They were only trying to prove “that a homegrown guerrilla movement was afoot in America,”  and thus they bombed police stations, statues to those they considered oppressors, ROTC buildings, draft offices, and corporate headquarters.

What an advocate of social justice, indeed. On the day their group bombed the Pentagon, Ayers writes that “everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the Pentagon.The sky was blue. The birds were singing. And the bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them.” And he describes his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, as “admonishing her troops to violence wearing a ‘short skirt and high stylish black boots….Her blazing eyes….allied with her elegance,…a stunning and seductive symbol of the Revolutionary Woman.’”

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If any bona fide members of the Hollywood Left read the magazine section of tomorrow’s Los Angeles Times, they are going to ruin their breakfasts. It might even be enough to ruin their evening viewing of the Super Bowl. For what they will find is an amazing article by the journalist John Meroney about what he has found out while doing research for his book about Ronald Reagan’s Hollywood years. Titled “Left in the Past,” the article tells the story of how the seeds of Reagan’s anti-Communist ideology that led eventually to the break-up of the evil empire began in the years when Reagan was a Hollywood liberal.

Central to Meroney’s story is an account of what he found in the 75 legal size file boxes of an unknown or perhaps forgotten Hollywood labor leader, the late Roy Brewer. His files, Meroney writes, “form a remarkable portrait of Reagan’s life as a movie star, liberal Democrat and union man.” Yes, as many young people probably do not realize, Ronald Reagan was not born a conservative. Indeed, Meroney is correct when he observes that many conservatives prefer to forget that he was a union man who campaigned for Harry S. Truman in 1948, just as liberals and leftists prefer to forget that he was not an “archconservative Red baiter.”

What Meroney brings to the story — the general outlines of which my wife and I wrote about in Red Star Over Hollywood – is how Roy Brewer served as Reagan’s mentor and was a man who gave him both advice and training in how to wage the battle against the film colony’s Stalinist machine. It was Brewer and Reagan who together began the fight against Soviet influence in Hollywood in the 40s and 50s.

Conservatives tend to forget (or many do not realize) that the fight against Communism was waged at first by anti-Communist liberals and social-democrats, not by the far-Right or conservatives. As Meroney writes about Brewer:

A gritty, often misunderstood character, Brewer was a tough union man, yet he would almost weep when quoting Scarlett O’Hara’s “As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again” line from Gone with the Wind. The line spoke to his personal determination, New Deal loyalties and socialist leanings. A portrait of FDR hung on his wall. He regarded Joseph McCarthy as a demagogue. (In the archive, I found far-right McCarthyite propaganda smearing Brewer as soft on Communism and castigating Reagan as a “flagrant Red.”) Politically, Brewer supported Reagan in all his campaigns, but in the Florida recounts, he backed Al Gore. He didn’t like George W. Bush.

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