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Ron Radosh

Monthly Archives: November 2013


There is no American hater of Israel and all it stands for more extreme than the young would-be journalist Max Blumenthal. The son of former Clinton administration staffer Sidney Blumenthal, he is author of a book so steaming of hatred for Israel that it makes the work of Noam Chomsky seem moderate in comparison. It has received blurbs and endorsements from Stephen Walt (of Walt and Mearsheimer), Rashid Khalidi, Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian, and Chris Hedges, among others. In other words, all the usual suspects are pushing it.

The Nation, the leading magazine of the far Left, featured a lengthy excerpt for its cover story in the November 4th issue. Trying to appease their few remaining supporters of Israel, it also ran a short one and a quarter page rebuttal by one of their regular columnist, Eric Alterman. He sees himself as a critical supporter of the Jewish state, regularly writing in opposition to both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and most Israeli policies, with which he strenuously disagrees.

Yet Alterman, having read Blumenthal’s book, dubbed it “The ‘I Hate Israel’ Handbook,” noting that some chapters “are titled to imply an equivalence between Israel and Nazi Germany,” such as chapters titled “The Concentration Camp,” “The Night of Broken Glass,” and one would-be humorous and juvenile chapter titled “How to Kill Goyim and Influence People.” Alterman’s bottom line is this:

Alas, his case against the Jewish state is so carelessly constructed, it will likely alienate anyone but the most fanatical anti-Zionist extremists, and hence do nothing to advance the interests of the occupation’s victims.

Alterman clearly agrees with Blumenthal that Israel is to blame for “the occupation,” but even he cannot help but note that “Blumenthal evinces no interest in the larger context of Israel’s actions” and completely shows no interest in all the serious threats Israel faces from its many foes, which Alterman is compelled to acknowledge are very real and menacing to the Jewish State. He notes that Blumenthal complains about Israeli textbooks which he says “indoctrinate Jewish children into the culture of militarism,” while never saying one word about the Palestinian and Arab textbooks which do not even show Israel as a nation on their maps, and which regularly attack Jews as sub-human. As Alterman puts it, “Did it not occur to Blumenthal…that Palestinians have textbooks at all?”

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This week I attended the lecture by Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin at the American Enterprise Institute. (You can watch the video here. ) After he was through, a discussion was held by National Review political journalist Robert Costa and Weekly Standard reporter Steve Hayes; it was moderated by Walker’s co-author, Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen.

The mainstream media has practically anointed Gov. Chris Christie the GOP frontrunner for the most likely candidate to win a national election in 2016. Christie was featured on the cover of Time, and appeared on virtually every TV Sunday talk show following his New Jersey victory. Despite serious questions about his ability to transfer his East Coast win to the Midwest and Southern GOP primaries, and the question of whether or not his aggressive New York-Jersey “in your face style” will play elsewhere, the media and many pundits have acted as if the question of who will get the Republican nomination is all but over.

Those who have looked no further than Christie many years before an actual candidate will be chosen should take a deep breath and reconsider. They should, especially, take a good close look at Governor Walker. Listening to him and talking to him briefly after his speech, I was struck how down to earth he is. Scott Walker is the opposite of a striving, somewhat phony politician. He comes off as a regular guy, a man of principle who believes in the concept of public service, a man who is serious, thoughtful, and anything but the caricature of a sleazy politician in it for power. Moreover, he is solidly middle-class. No one can brand him the way that Mitt Romney was — as a candidate of the super-rich who disdains and scorns the 47 percent.

Indeed, Walker said during his talk that while he has great respect for Romney and thinks he would have made a great president, he thinks the former governor was shortsighted not to stress that conservatives favor an opportunity society in which those on the bottom rungs have the ability and the encouragement to move into a better place for themselves and their children — just as working-class people and poor immigrants have done in America’s past.

Walker, I believe, is a potential candidate who has the ability to bridge the gap between the Tea Party and regular Republicans, emphasizing what all conservatives agree upon and helping to create a conservative majority and a center-right nation. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Walker spelled out some of the same themes he addressed in his speech.

He emphasizes that conservatives do not have to compromise their principles to win or take a supposedly wise turn to the center in order to gain a victory. No one, as Thiessen said, can accuse Walker of being the kind of man who gives up his principles to score votes, or who cannot stand firm under great pressure.

Remember all those TV reports during the siege by the Left of the Wisconsin State Capitol before the recall vote in Wisconsin? Thiessen was there, and reported how the unruly mobs — thugs in fact — were banging on Walker’s door trying to break in, and doing everything possible to prevent the governor from conducting business. Not only did he remain calm and proceed to do his job, he stood firm against the teachers’ union. When they agreed to give in some on pensions and contributions to their health care if  Walker gave in on compulsory dues checkoff, Walker held firm. As we all know, he won and was victorious in the recall election despite a huge campaign against him and massive rallies of the Left’s troops.

Moreover, as Walker points out, 11% of Wisconsin’s voters voted for both him and Barack Obama! That, as he writes, means that one of nine voters who voted for him in the recall election planned to vote for Obama a few months later. To put it as boldly as possible: liberal Obama supporters voted for an outspoken conservative who did not moderate his position to gain their votes! Walker adds that recent polls reveal that 11% of the people in  Wisconsin still support him and Obama.

Governing as a “conservative reformer” — advocating the path suggested by Senator Mike Lee in his recent National Review article and elsewhere — Walker has had major success. People expected the sky to fall after he won election, given the dire predictions made by his opposition. Instead, they found jobs were saved, the schools have not suffered, and he reformed collective bargaining in the public sector against tremendous odds. A $3.6 billion deficit was turned into a $760 million surplus, and in addition, Walker was able to cut taxes as well.

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The latest polls tell us the brutal truth: Each day, Barack Obama’s popularity declines and more and more Americans are coming to reject Obamacare. It is no wonder that, quite suddenly, the president and Nancy Pelosi are referring to it as the Affordable Care Act — a blatant attempt to dissociate the measure from the president. The ABC News/Washington Post poll, for example, tells us that 56% of the public disapprove of the job Obama is doing and 55% disapprove of ObamaCare.

Writing in National Journal, Josh Kraushaar tells us in plain words that “there’s nothing that Democrats want more than to change the subject from Obamacare.”  Congressional Democrats especially “don’t want to be dealing with a drip-drip of news about premiums going up, patients losing their doctors, and a broken health care website as they face angry voters in 2014.” Obamacare, in other words, is a gift to conservatives and Republicans that never stops giving.

What really worries them, as Kruashaar puts it, is that over time “enough Democrats may join Republicans to decide to start over and scrap the whole complex health care enterprise.” If they weren’t so worried, the president would not have come up with his “fix” that, in reality, threatens the entire exchange market, which is the essence of the ACA.

So, at a moment when “even its most ardent supporters are running for the hills,”  it is no wonder that the American Left is beginning to worry that their entire social-democratic and socialist agenda is in danger of complete collapse. They are right to be worried, when already they have found that blue-state Democratic liberals — all bona fide “progessives” — joined Republicans to vote for GOP legislation that would help destroy the law. Here is what Maryland Rep. John Delaney, a Democrat in the bluest of the blue states, had to say: the ACA “is not working.” And Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick of Arizona said that Obamacare “is a disaster for the working families in my Arizona district who badly need quality, affordable health care.” They know that Obamacare is not giving them that, and indeed, is making things worse.

The biggest freak-out came on the website of the New Republic, from none other than its self-proclaimed renewed-Marxist journalist, John B. Judis.  Republicans will maintain control of the House in 2014, he writes, and there are “warning signs” about whether Democrats can even keep the Senate. This assessment comes from the man who is co-author of The Emerging Democratic Majority. So if Judis believes the party he supports is now in grave danger of losing both houses of Congress, one must pay attention.

He tells us that in North Carolina in August, Senator Kay Hagan was up eight points over her Republican challenger, according to Public Policy Polling. Now she is tied. And he warns us that in Montana, South Dakota, and West Virginia, Democrats are now the underdog.  Indeed, he thinks the Democrats could even lose Senate races in Iowa and Michigan!

But what really worries TNR’s most left-wing columnist and editor is what it could mean for the entire progressive — i.e., leftist — agenda. Acknowledging that Americans have, since the days of the  Founding Fathers, always had a distrust of government, Judis thinks that the entire edifice of “Americans’ support for government social and economic programs” is in danger of being eroded. “But if Obamacare doesn’t work as promised,” he writes,  “then its failure will have reinforced for a generation the argument against any government initiatives.” The country, he is concerned, might be doomed to “inaction.”

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The Future—As Seen from Restoration Weekend

November 15th, 2013 - 3:09 pm

Ann Coulter at Restoration Weekend. (Photo by author.)


I’m writing this column from Restoration Weekend, the yearly confab of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a good a place as any to get a sense the mood of conservatives and Republicans, as they watch the implosion of Obamacare alongside the entire nation.

The political journalist Michael Barone told me at lunch that he thinks it’s the equivalent of the fall of France, when the great nation collapsed in a few days during World War II. Despite differences between Tea Party conservatives and other Republicans, all seemed to agree that Obamacare will get only worse and that the emphasis of all campaigns should be on presenting market-based alternatives to the worst policy fiasco in our nation’s history.

With her usual sharp humor, Ann Coulter warned of the dangers of wasting time and effort challenging Republicans already in House or Senate seats during primaries, with so-called “more pure” conservatives, many of whom never won elected office and have no experience. Coulter said such candidates are only chosen because someone has proclaimed them more conservative, singling out in particular Jim DeMint for intervening in a Georgia primary against a solid conservative with popular support. She also said she wished Liz Cheney would have gone to South Carolina to live and waged a campaign against Lindsey Graham, instead of challenging a conservative incumbent in Wyoming who otherwise would definitely win his seat again. During another panel, Fox News contributor and former Bush administration official Richard Grenell argued the opposite, praising Cheney for running, since he regards her as someone not afraid to take on Washington in support of tough foreign policy positions needed to offset the many fiascos of the current administration in Syria, Benghazi, and Iran.

And so we get to the growing disaster of Obamacare, the problem of which was boldly displayed on television a night ago by Fox News’ liberal contributor Kirsten Powers. By now, most of you have heard of her angry rant about the cancellation of her very good insurance policy, which gave her exactly the coverage she wanted, which was not substandard, and which she would have to replace with a  policy on the exchanges that would cost more and give her less, and force her to pay for coverage she did not need or want. As Powers put it:

My blood pressure goes up every time they say that they’re protecting us from substandard health insurance plans, because there is nothing to support what they’re saying. I have talked about how I am losing my health insurance. I’m having, if I want to keep the same health insurance, it’s going to cost twice as much. There’s nothing substandard about my plan. All of the things they say that are not in my plan are in my plan, all of the things they have listed. There’s no explanation for the doubling of my premiums other than the fact that it’s subsidizing other people.

They need to be honest about that, that that’s the reason they don’t want to change it. It’s because they’re basically taking the people who are responsible enough to get health insurance in the individual market and asking them to subsidize other people. So they’re taking young healthy people and asking them to subsidize other people. I don’t think that’s going to last, frankly. I think they’re trying to buy time until they think they’re going to reach this next deadline.

Powers hits upon the very premise of Obamacare. It is meant not as a health policy, but as a mechanism for redistribution of wealth, created in the guise of medical insurance. By insisting that people pay for what they do not need, it is in effect a mandated policy imposed on the young and healthy, who are asked to pay big bucks for things they don’t need, to cover the costs of elderly people on the exchanges whose medical needs they will be paying for.

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Divided and United: The Songs of the Civil War

Produced by Randall Poster, Essays by Sean Wilentz and John Cohen.

Meant to honor the memory of the most divisive time in America’s past, the Civil War, this tribute to those who lived in our country at the time is a CD to cherish and play again and again. Indeed, nothing is more appropriate to explore the meaning of the War during its 150th Anniversary than listening to the stories of the soldiers. These citizens fought, lived, loved, and died in the thousands in this time of trouble.

If there is any justice in the music business, this compilation, produced by Randall Poster, music advisor for Wes Anderson’s films, assisted by the bluegrass guitar virtuoso par excellence Bryan Sutton, will win the Grammy for best traditional folk album. The much-abused and actually fairly meaningless term “folk music,”- since those playing the kind of songs on this album call themselves traditional singers and not folk-singers. So too does “Dr.” Ralph Stanley, who on these discs contributes “The Vacant Chair,” a song memorializing the death of Lt. John William Grout of the 15th Massachusetts Infantry, who died at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. Stanley, whose voice long ago passed from the quality he had as a young man, could be singing in the voice of chastened veterans who themselves might have seen many of their comrades fall in battle.

What makes the performances stellar and unique is that the artists are drawn from the royalty of the best Nashville has to offer. From the community of old-time and traditional singers and pickers, as well as others like the young New Yorker and banjo master Noam Pikelny, they each use their own musical taste to try and capture what they think is how the songs were meant to be played and sung in the era in which they were written.

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Make no mistake about the outcome of the mayoral election in New York City. It marks a triumph for the far Left, in the most important big city in the United States. The huge electoral majority for Democrat Bill de Blasio is much more than simply a victory of another “progressive,” as he calls himself. It is a victory for the old Communist Left and its descendants, the New Left of the 1960s, and marks a leftward turn in the Democratic Party nationally.

As an analysis in today’s Wall Street Journal by Sophia Hollander puts it, “New York overwhelmingly elected an unabashed liberal activist and political strategist who is sympathetic to the Occupy Wall Street movement and once spent time in Nicaragua supporting the Sandinistas.”

Just as Chris Christie’s gubernatorial win in New Jersey gives political clout to the anti-Tea Party Republicans nationally, and makes Christie a contender for the Republican nomination for president, the de Blasio win strengthens the most left factions of an already left-leaning party. It will work to push a candidate like Hillary Clinton further to the left in her campaign for the Democratic nomination, as well as give a bounce to those on the left who favor the nomination of Elizabeth Warren as their candidate of choice.

As a shrewd analysis by David Freedlander in The Daily Beast makes clear, it is also a victory for a third political party from which de Blasio emerged, the so-called Working Families Party founded by Dan Cantor, the brains behind the now defunct New Party — the openly socialist group which Barack Obama once affiliated with. It makes the WFP, Freedlander writes, one of the “political power brokers of the first order” in the new post-Bloomberg city administration.

Cantor, the party’s founder, was a labor organizer in New Orleans and New York who also worked with ACORN before he turned full-time to building the new political organization.

The strategy Cantor devised — of building a party on which voters for the Democrat can vote on election day not by pulling the lever on the Democratic slot, but on that of the Working Families Party — is shrewd. It gives the left a power base because many who voted for the Democrat are far to the left of the regular candidate, and hence, when a Democrat wins, that third party can say their votes provided the margin that put him over the top. The party can then make demands for a pay-off once the regular Democrat is in office.

Now, de Blasio actually comes from that third party, and has staffed his organization with its activists. The strategy is an old one for New York City. In the 1930s and 40s, the left wing of the CIO trade union created the American Labor Party, a line on the ballot that allowed those further to the left than FDR to vote for him in the national election, while also being able to run candidates for local office on their own ticket. In the late 1940s, the anti-Communist leaders split and the Communist Party, USA and its followers took over the ALP. Henry A. Wallace ran on this line in 1948. As a result, he gathered enough votes to put New York City in Republican Tom Dewey’s column. To counter the ALP, the anti-Communist union leaders and politicians in 1944 created the Liberal Party, which became, for a time, the major power-broker in New York politics.

The only real national success the ALP enjoyed was to elect far left and pro-Communist Congressman Vito Marcantonio, who from 1938 to 1950 sat in the House and reliably followed the party line on every single foreign policy issue as demanded by Stalin and the Kremlin.  Now, the Working Families Party follows the same script mastered by the Communists in New York City in the 1940s, as the WFP has, in effect, become the rebirth of the old far Left ALP in a new guise.

Cantor himself signaled the meaning of de Blasio’s campaign in these words:

I think the basic view is that this thing has succeeded way beyond what anyone thought it might. The Working Families Party helped make the de Blasio ascension possible. The work we have done to inject issues of income inequality into the debate, from the first day—we have been articulating and advancing a policy of fairness over these last 10 years. The right’s view is that vast inequality is the price you pay for freedom. They are very clear on this. And our view is vast inequality is the price you pay for stupid rules. We are Rooseveltians. When people are secure that they are going to retire with some dignity, they are not less free.

Cantor’s party has already won major victories in races for the City Council, where it created a “Progressive Caucus,” whose supporters are drawn from:

A) the successor group to the old ACORN,

B) the Communications Workers of America,

C) the United Federation of Teachers,

D) and the successor union to the old Communist-led Local 1199, Dennis Rivera’s SIEU 1199 — still as far left as it was when the old CPUSA essentially ran it.

Bob McManus spelled it out correctly in the New York Post, where he wrote that the WFP is a “ a laser-focused, hard-left-leaning coalition of militant private-sector unions, grasping public-sector unions, and advantage-seeking hangers-on now masquerading as a ‘progressive’ mainstream political party.” Writing that the WFP is a vehicle for “advancing the narrow, often-reactionary interests of unions,” McManus stresses that de Blasio will have a far-left City Council giving him power to put across his economically dangerous schemes.

These include raises for unions, which are demanding retroactive pay increases (since they have been working without contracts for over three years); an end to pension reform; and, of course, higher taxes on millionaires to fund free pre-school education. No wonder de Blasio has pledged to stop the growth of charter schools favored by the African-American poor, whose interests he claims to represent. The UFT is against them, and that’s what counts.

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As we went shopping at our local Giant supermarket — the major chain in the Washington, D.C., area — my wife and I were confronted by a picket line of workers announcing the threat of a strike if their demands were not met. They gave us a two-sided leaflet. One side of it depicts Rosie the Riveter (why this image for supermarket workers?) with a clenched fist, and the banner headline “Standing Strong with Giant and Safeway Workers!” What were they complaining about, as they face upcoming contract negotiations? Better working conditions? Better hours? More vacation time? More time off? The answer: none of the above. The other side has a photo of one worker, a veteran employee who worked at Giant for almost three decades, telling us that the concerns “are of course the wages but more importantly keeping our good healthcare benefits.” Another, a seafood clerk of 15 years, tells us that his issue is “maintaining our health benefits for not just full timers but part timers also.”


Close-up of union logo on artwork.

They were protesting Obamacare! It seems that at first some workers were transferred to part-time from full-time positions a month or so back. I recall talking to someone at the meat department a while ago who informed us that the chain was reducing hours and hiring only part-timers. That’s why he was understaffed and we had to wait quite a while for service.

Now, as negotiations are coming, Giant and Safeway management have announced that all part-timers will lose their regular health insurance, and that only full-time employees will continue to receive it. Other chains, such as Home Depot, did the same a month or two ago. Economics writer Robert J. Samuelson explained that “the ACA may cause some companies to limit hiring or cut hours to escape the law’s requirement to provide health insurance. (The law exempts firms with fewer than 50 full-time workers; full-time is 30 hours a week or more.)”

As one of the picketing workers we spoke to told us, “We want our regular employee health insurance. We don’t want to be forced onto the Obamacare exchanges.” Now I assume that since they can’t get onto the official government website, they do not know whether, as the administration assures everyone, they can keep their own policies. (They can’t, of course, if the government has provided a better policy for them that the user is told they must accept.) These workers, or their union chiefs, have decided in advance that whatever policy the supermarket chain owners want their part-timers to accept, it will not be better.

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