Ron Radosh

Ron Radosh


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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President Obama’s decision to submit the Iranian nuclear deal to the United Nation Security Council before Congress has had their 60 days to review it could be as problematic for Congress as making a judgment on the deal itself.

Congress felt its responsibilities were already being usurped when they learned the Iranian deal would be treated as an agreement rather than a treaty. In response to widespread protest, the White House had to permit the agreement to be submitted to both houses of Congress for approval. Yet fearing that a negative vote — certain in the House — would occur, the administration decided to go to the UN immediately. This makes any congressional veto useless; the provisions of the agreement almost impossible to turn back.

Yesterday, the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution endorsing the Iranian deal. The 15-0 vote, the Times of Israel reports, “clears one of the largest hurdles for the landmark pact, which will now go before the U.S. Congress where it may face an uphill battle for confirmation.”

Only after it was a done deal did U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power choose to raise the issue of Iran’s continuing human rights violations. These were studiously avoided during the negotiations, when the U.S. had leverage.

Now, like bringing the deal to Congress, this is all for show.

This brings to mind an episode from the 20th century, when an American president similarly sought to force Congress to accept a mechanism for guiding foreign policy that would be determined not by the United States, but by the international community. After World War I, another “progressive,” President Woodrow Wilson, sought to limit America’s sovereignty when he insisted that the Treaty of Versailles incorporate the creation of a League of Nations. The victorious powers at the Versailles Peace Conference then merged the League Covenant and the terms of peace in one single package.

When he brought the treaty home for Congress’s approval, which was needed because it was a treaty, Wilson insisted that the heart of it was Article X of the League’s Covenant — which he had helped to draft. Article X, he insisted, would put an end to aggression and to war. It read as follows:

The members of the League undertake to respect and preserve as against external aggression the territorial integrity and existing political independence of all Members of the League. In case any such aggression or in case of any threat or danger of such aggression the Council shall advise upon the means by which this obligation shall be fulfilled.

Instead of the approval he expected, he faced resistance. In March of 1919, Wilson met with members of both the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where he was asked whether joining the League under the terms of Article X would infringe upon American sovereignty. It suggested that if a League member nation was attacked, America would be obligated to defend it, even though it would not be in the national interest to do so. Senate Republican leader Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts pointed out that the United States had no obligation to preserve the territorial integrity of another nation unless it was authorized by Congress.

Wilson was also attacked by radical isolationists like Sen. William Borah of Idaho, who argued that the League was not revolutionary enough, and was a mechanism for imperialist European powers to control the fate of the world.

Much to Wilson’s shock and consternation, when the Senate voted, American membership was defeated because of unity between the conservatives and isolationists, both of whom — for different reasons — did not sanction American membership in the newly created world organization. Although Lodge had created “reservations,” especially in regard to Article X, which if Wilson had accepted would have led to a vote for U.S. membership, he refused –he demanded acceptance of Article X as it was.

The Senate vote in November 1919 was 39 for and 55 against on acceptance of the treaty with reservations. A second vote, on acceptance of the treaty without any reservations, was 38 for and 52 against. A third vote in March 1920 was held, and the treaty was rejected 49 to 35, hence not receiving the two-thirds majority that was necessary for ratification.

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Bernie Sanders had a good month.

Ten thousand people came out to hear him in friendly Madison, Wisconsin, 5000 in Denver, 2500 in Council Bluffs, Iowa, and 7500 in Portland, Maine. As the Wall Street Journal editors write, it’s a true “boomlet.” The editors, however, ask the fundamental question:

Could a 73-year-old self-avowed socialist from Vermont really win the Democratic presidential nomination?

The answer they give is one on which we all could agree — no.

Despite all his protestations that he is running to win and will do it, we can rest assured that Bernie will not be the Democratic candidate for president of the United States. He will not even be the vice president, and the anointed one — Sec. Hillary Clinton — will continue to publicly ignore him, unless and until she can’t.

What he will do, as I argued earlier, is succeed in pushing her to take even further-left positions than she already has. She wants to make it clear to her party’s base that she can be depended on to address the issues which have given rise to Bernie’s popularity.

Most analysts know that Sanders’ campaign will soon falter. Political analyst Nate Cohn explains that while Sanders has been able to consolidate liberal supporters dissatisfied with Hillary Clinton’s ties to Wall Street, Clinton has a wide lead among moderate and conservative Democrats, including the white working class. Cohn also points out that Sanders is not likely to appeal to affluent, socially liberal but fiscally moderate Democrats, such as those who vote solidly Democratic in Silicon Valley.

The Sanders campaign reminds me of past efforts — all of them — by American socialists to enter the presidential contest. Eugene V. Debs, the leader of the Socialist Party in its heyday, ran for president five different times: 1900, 1904, 1908, 1912, and 1920. In 1920 he received 900,742 popular votes, about 6 percent of the ballots cast for president — the single largest tally any socialist candidate ever won in a general election.

Debs’ successor as head of the party, Norman Thomas, ran for president six different times, starting with each presidential election from 1928 through 1948. Thomas, like Debs, ran on the Socialist Party line not only against Republicans, but against the the left’s favored candidate, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and finally against Harry S. Truman. He received an infinitesimally small amount of the popular vote, as even leftist American voters deserted him in droves. But Thomas’s goal in running was to popularize the socialist program, and to accomplish that he thought an independent socialist campaign would be necessary.

The only left-wing, third-party candidate of any significance in 1948 was Henry A. Wallace, who ran on the Communist-dominated Progressive Party label. He took a scant 2.4 percent of the popular vote, with close to one million Americans casting their ballot for him. However, Wallace claimed to be what he called a “progressive capitalist,” and never espoused a socialist program.

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“We don’t have to be imprisoned by the past,” said President Obama last week, while announcing that Cuba and the United States had reached an agreement to end Cuba’s diplomatic isolation.

The U.S., he says, will soon open its embassy in Cuba, and Cuba will open its embassy in Washington, D.C. After all, Obama said, Cuba’s isolation began in 1961, the year he was born, and for many Democrats, liberals, and much of the business community and the farm lobby, it is time to let bygones be bygones and to end the embargo imposed by the United States half a century ago.

Obama continued:

Our nations are separated by only 90 miles, and there are deep bonds of family and friendship between our people, but there have been very real, profound differences between our governments, and sometimes we allow ourselves to be trapped by a certain way of doing things.

In other words, we should not be held captive by the shibboleths of the past. That’s standard progressive thinking — we must move with the times, and understand that the old ways of thinking are obsolete. Said Obama: “Americans and Cubans alike are ready to move forward.”

Those who agree with Obama’s opening to Cuba make the following arguments: the embargo hasn’t worked; the U.S. is only isolating itself; and the embargo has given Castro an excuse to blame Cuba’s tribulations and basket-case economy on the United States. To again quote Obama: “When something isn’t working, we can and should change.” In this, he has the support of the business community. A group called “Engage Cuba” is working with Procter & Gamble, Cargill, and the National Association of Manufacturers to establish lobbying for an end to the embargo. A vice president of the international division of the Chamber of Commerce has said:

There are so many state, local and federal entities that are going to be working to lift the embargo, and you start with travel … but you also need to keep your eye on the big picture.

They are pushing the additional argument that the influx of American tourists, combined with the new ability of American business to openly invest in Cuba and freely sell its products to the Cuban populace, will work to promote democratization and social change. Without this new interaction by business and vacationers, the Cuban regime will remain repressive.

All these arguments are highly tendentious and questionable.

Let us look first at whether or not it’s true that the embargo has been a failure. As Cuban writer Humberto Fontova points out, the purpose of the embargo was to put a monkey-wrench into Cuba’s sponsorship of international terrorism and the export of its revolution, not to interfere with its internal arrangements or to promote regime change. Towards its intended goal, it was more than successful. After Che Guevara’s dismal failure to foment revolution, Castro ordered an end to the formal spreading of revolution.

Nevertheless, even today Cuba funds terrorist groups like Colombia’s FARC, and has recently tried to smuggle arms to North Korea. Most of the Cuban people, especially its brave dissident community, favor keeping the embargo as a means to pressure the government to ease up on its repression of human rights at home.

Journalist Michael J. Totten, who originally believed the embargo should be ended, changed his mind after traveling to Cuba for World Affairs Journal. Totten explained:

After spending a few weeks in Cuba in October and November, however, I came home feeling less certain that the embargo was an anachronism. The ailing Fidel Castro handed power to his less ideological brother Raúl a few years ago, and the regime finally realizes what has been obvious to everyone else for what seems like forever: communism is an epic failure. Change is at last on the horizon for the island, and there’s a chance that maybe — just maybe — the embargo might help it finally arrive.

Totten cited an interview he held with the Cuban exile Valentin Prieto, who argues that the U.S. should not promote, fund, assist, or legitimize a regime that is repressive. Totten concluded:

Cuba’s Communist Party would rather rule alone in a poor country than share power in a prosperous one. No matter what the United States does or does not do, Cuba will underperform until that changes.

It is the embargo kept in place that will, Totten thinks, force them to choose prosperity or power.

Let me single out a common argument (quoted here) made by former Republican Governor of Illinois George Ryan, who favors lifting the embargo. Said Ryan:

I think we ought to treat Cuba like we do any other country in the world … our biggest commodity is democracy, and we ought to be spreading that any place we can. And what made this country great is free trade.

This leads to the second point in the arsenal of arguments by Obama’s supporters — that an influx of investments and tourists will help change Cuba. Are we really spreading democracy by promoting a surge of tourists, most of whom will go for Potemkin-style tours and time spent in luxury hotels on Varadero Beach?

Clearly, Obama is replicating his policy towards Iran in Cuba. In both cases, he seeks rapprochement without demanding any change for the better within the two countries.

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After the murders at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church by a young white racist, a consensus has been reached on the issue of taking down the Confederate flag from South Carolina’s soldier’s monument, where it has flown since being removed from the state capitol in 2000.

The flag was flown from the capitol only since the early 1960s, when segregationists resurrected what was in fact the Confederate battle flag as their symbol for opposition to desegregation. Other states quickly followed South Carolina’s example.

Evidently, this may not be enough to satisfy the cultural enforcers on the American Left.

Suddenly, anything in our history that is somehow connected with the sin of slavery — and it was a sin against humanity — is fair game to be excised from America’s past. As John Hinderaker writes at Powerline, the Democrats are getting “their crazy on.” First it’s the Confederate flag, then statues, monuments, and our currency that celebrate racists, then perhaps the American flag itself.

Remember those leftists who after 9/11 refused to fly the flag, since they argued it stood for oppression?

For a few years, I lived in West Virginia. Throughout the state, and indeed in many buildings at Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, there are many buildings named after the late Sen. Robert Byrd. There are so many roads and institutions throughout the state honoring Byrd that you have to stop counting. Byrd, an honored Democrat who was considered the Senate’s master of its rules and a mainstay in the first two years of the Obama administration, was Grand Cyclops of the Ku Klux Klan.

After the Civil War, the Republicans were the party of civil rights; the Democrats the party of racism and the evolving system of segregation.

A few days ago, CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield moved on from the Confederate flag to demanding that Americans think about taking down the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. The Washington Monument will probably be next — after all, our first president was also a slaveholder.

Others have pointed out that Woodrow Wilson, upon taking office, moved to institute segregation in government offices as official policy. At Instapundit, Randy Barnett skillfully presents the entire racist record of Wilson’s presidency. How, he asks, can a scholarly center be named the Woodrow Wilson Center, or the political scientists’ association offer a Woodrow Wilson award, or professorships be named after him at Princeton University, at which he was once its president?

Others have noted the racist character of the multi-Academy Award winning 1939 release, Gone With the Wind. Should it no longer be shown or even celebrated, like MGM did at the time of its 75th anniversary with restored DVD box sets and screenings in both Atlanta and then throughout the country? I doubt that any plans for a 100th anniversary will still take place, as the studio obviously was planning.

For an excellent discussion on how we should handle impulses to expunge our past by rewriting history, I highly recommend a reading of film director Ronald F. Maxwell’s eloquent and powerful words, spoken on June 7, 2009, at the annual commemoration of the Confederate Monument in Arlington National Cemetery, and offered online at Huffington Post.

I know it may come as a shock to you that such a memorial exists. Even more shocking, however, is that President Barack Obama, as Maxwell writes, “to his everlasting honor, and in keeping with the tradition of his predecessors, on Memorial Day just two weeks ago sent a wreath to Moses Ezekiel’s monument to the Confederate dead.” Ezekiel, himself a Confederate soldier, went on to become one of America’s preeminent sculptors; he worked in Rome, to which he had moved. He had become, as his obituary in the New York Times stated, a “distinguished and greatly beloved American sculptor.”

President Obama sent the wreath despite having received a letter from a group of professors urging him not to do so. The list of signers includes very distinguished scholars such as James McPherson and Ira Katznelson. It also includes one Bill Ayers, who as we know is an expert in blowing up statues of which he disapproves. How did Obama deal with this? He also sent a wreath to the memorial of African-American soldiers who died fighting for the Union. Undoubtedly, the leftist professors would consider his doing so an act of “moral equivalency.”

Maxwell goes on:

We cannot wish our ancestors away, nor should we. In the act of designing and erecting these monuments and statues they are telling us what was important to them in their time. By leaving for us, their progeny, a record in stone, they are expressly calling upon us, their grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren to remember.

Shall we do as the professors who signed the letter to our president asked him to do — shall we heap scorn upon these monuments and chastise those who will not? Should we do as their doctrinaire kin in Afghanistan did? Shall we, like the Taliban, destroy our statues with dynamite because they offend a prevailing dogma? Shall we disinter the bones of our ancestors like the radical Jacobins of the French Revolution did, scattering their unearthed remains to the winds — first to be reviled, then ever to be forgotten?

These lines nail it. If we tear apart our past because contemporary standards have changed, we will lose our understanding of how our democracy has been constantly evolving since the birth of the republic.

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Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren is currently under attack for the publication of his important new book, Ally: My Journey Through the American-Israeli Divide. In it, Oren has dared to pull back the curtain on Obama’s — and his administration’s — antipathy for Israel.

Further, Oren has hit the Obama administration hard over the past week with three different columns detailing how dangerous the Obama administration actually is for Israel. Oren’s “How Obama Abandoned Israel” appeared in the Wall Street Journal, his “Why Obama is wrong about Iran being ‘rational’ on nukes” appeared in the Los Angeles Times, and — perhaps the most devastating of the three — his “How Obama Opened His Heart to the Muslim World. And Got it Stomped On” appeared in Foreign Policy.

In the FP column, Oren points to “the president’s naiveté as peacemaker, blinders to terrorism, and alienation of allies.” He concludes that the president is failing in his most important responsibility — keeping the country safe — by refusing to recognize the following:

Those who kill in Islam’s name are not mere violent extremists but fanatics driven by a specific religion’s zeal. And their victims are anything but random.

Obama’s allies, including J Street and other left-wing Jewish defenders of the president and his record on Israel, are now out in full force trying to blunt Oren’s effectiveness. According to Lee Smith (who is not Jewish) in an article appearing in Tablet, all of them fit the description of the “court Jew.”

Smith recounts how Jack Lew, Obama’s treasury secretary and an Orthodox Jew, was recently sent to address a Jerusalem Post conference in New York City, where he was heckled. An audience member yelled: “You’re a court Jew.” Smith points out that the term refers to a Jew “who walks with the stamp of official power”:

The term refers to a particular class of Jews who’ve existed throughout modern history, people who obtain privilege with the ruling authorities and who then take on a dual role: to convince the Jewish community of the beneficence of the ruling authorities, and also to intercede with those authorities on behalf of the community. In some cases, these “court Jews” have protected the Jewish communities in whose name they spoke. In other cases, they are remembered as agents of historical disaster, who helped lead Jews to the slaughter.

Smith writes that, despite growing evidence, these modern-day “court Jews” who think of themselves as independent thinkers are instead functioning as “court Jews” insofar as they are helping to sell Obama’s policies to the Jewish community:

[Without them it is] hard to explain why Obama still has the support of the majority of the Jewish community for policies that from any rational perspective — the perspective of any other minority group — cannot be seen as anything other than detrimental to the Jewish state.

Why else, Smith asks, would they not criticize Obama’s forthcoming Iranian deal even though it is the “opposite of what he told them it would be?”

As usual, Peter Beinart — the model for all “court Jews” — calls out Oren in the left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz, arguing that President Obama has not abandoned Israel.

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You will be well-rewarded if you take a break from our current political turmoil to read David Horowitz’s new book, You’re Going to be Dead One Day: A Love Story.

In its pages, you will not find the conservative warrior that you know from his speeches, books, articles, and his organization’s website. Rather, Horowitz, in this third memoir since he wrote Radical Son, presents us with a profoundly personal and moving philosophical inquiry into the meaning of life in the face of death — hence the jarring title (as if we didn’t know it already). But, it is also, as the title states, a love story chiefly about his wife April and the other people in his life he loves and treasures.

I have been friends with Horowitz for decades, since our high school days in New York City when we were comrades in arms in the American Communist Party’s youth organization. But I was not prepared for the power of his writing, and his willingness to bare his soul and inner feelings from the months of May through September of 2014. Those months, as we learn, were particularly difficult ones for his family. David, after what he expected to be a standard hip replacement operation, was left with what is called  “drop foot,” a condition leaving him unable to walk and in severe pain.

A short time after, April almost died in a car accident, and his son Jonathan was rushed to the hospital having suffered a heart attack at the age of 53. Thankfully, he survived.

This was not Horowitz’s first brush with mortality. At 60, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, which caused him to pass the Rubicon between a time when he enjoyed “robust health” and took it for granted to the realization that he was not going to be the exception. He could, he tells us, fill his head with happier reflections, but he won’t, writing that “thinking about our mortal condition, and the way it affects how we live in the here and now, remains as seductive to me as ever.”

Despite these setbacks and the unpleasant surprises life sometimes gives us, David Horowitz faces these tribulations as part of life, and still presses on with strength and optimism.

He has been “driven,” as he puts it, to “confront those who refused to give up [the] misguided” attempt to change the world and achieve the new socialist order that would supposedly triumph everywhere and solve all the world’s problems.

Now Horowitz tells us he is “a pessimist about humanity,” but at the same time an optimist about his own life. How can that be?

The answer, he believes, may lie in the “quasi-religious world” he was brought up in, where he was taught that “despite all improbabilities, despite the fact that our community of communist believers was tiny and hunted, the brave new world we were seeking was just beyond the horizon. History was on our side.” He admits that tragic experience taught him the “destructive folly of this faith, but habit and instinct continue to say otherwise.”

Life is indeed full of surprises. Like Whittaker Chambers, to whom Horowitz has often been compared, good came out of his youthful infatuation, and gave us a man who is now an energetic force devoted to fighting the lies of the Left.

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Why Hillary May Not Win the Presidency

June 10th, 2015 - 3:26 pm

Hillary Clinton must have read John Judis’ article “The Emerging Republican Advantage,” which appeared last January in the National Journal. In it, he argued that a “resurgent Republican coalition” is eroding what he once believed was an “emerging Democratic majority.” What changed is that what remains of the white-working class is deserting the Democrats in droves; and secondly, that Republicans are dramatically gaining the support of the American middle class, a group that Democrats used to take for granted. “The defection of these voters” Judis writes, “—who, unlike the white working class, are a growing part of the electorate—is genuinely bad news for Democrats, and very good news indeed for Republicans.” Reluctantly he concludes that we are still living in a Republican era.

Apparently, Hillary has gotten the message that if she is to win the race for the presidency, she will not be able to do it by relying on the old coalition that propelled her husband to victory. As Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman explained in the New York Times, her plan is to dispense “with the nationwide electoral strategy that won her husband two terms in the White House and brought white-working class voters and great stretches of what is now red-state American back to Democrats.” She is assuming nothing she does or says will win their votes, and hence, she has moved to the far-left and is running a campaign in which she will try to follow the path Barack Obama took.

Writing in National Review, editor Rich Lowry concurs that she cannot capture the voters her husband kept in Democratic ranks:

So the question for Hillary is whether a 67-year-old candidate who’s not a racial minority or particularly exciting can reenergize the electoral coalition defined by a youthful African American who rose to prominence on rhetorical flights of fancy about hope and change.

So rather than move to the center—Bill Clinton, after all, was previously the chair of the centrist New Democrat Coalition — she has decided to best both Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren by moving far to the Left.

She is also hoping, as Noah Rothman points out, that she will receive the votes necessary to win from the 31 percent of voters who are Americans of color, and will expand the Hispanic vote and hold the vast majority of black voters who cast their ballots for Obama. Hence all the vitriolic speeches about how Republicans are seeking to prevent minorities and African-Americans from voting. And by this approach, she hopes the party’s far-left base will all turn out.

Times columnist David Brooks points out that the reason she sounds so phony whenever she argues a point is because no one is sure she really believes what she is saying. That is because her goal is to win a demographic, not to run on conviction.  Brooks thinks she may be wrong to act on this strategy:

The mobilization strategy over-reads the progressive shift in the electorate. It’s true that voters have drifted left on social issues. But they have not drifted left on economic and fiscal issues, as the continued unpopularity of Obamacare makes clear. If Clinton comes across as a stereotypical big-spending, big-government Democrat, she will pay a huge cost in the Upper Midwest and the Sun Belt.

Is there a motive for Hillary waging a left-wing campaign beyond mere political expediency? I think the answer is simple: she believes what she says. Her husband was a centrist and did not come from a leftist background. Hillary did not either, but she became a leftist at college.

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If Hillary Clinton becomes president of the United States, she will undoubtedly bring with her to the White House her long-time trusted aide, confidant, and spinmeister, journalist Sidney Blumenthal. Blumenthal served in Bill Clinton’s White House as a special advisor, and was recently a staff member at the Clinton Foundation.

Perhaps the most noteworthy revelation coming out of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails from the time she was secretary of state is what they show about her relationship with Blumenthal. The New York Times report summarized it well:

In 2011 and 2012, Hillary Rodham Clinton received at least 25 memos about Libya from Sidney Blumenthal, a friend and confidant who at the time was employed by the Clinton Foundation. The memos, written in the style of intelligence cables, make up about a third of the almost 900 pages of emails related to Libya that Mrs. Clinton said she kept on the personal email account she used exclusively as secretary of state. Some of Mr. Blumenthal’s memos appeared to be based on reports supplied by American contractors he was advising as they sought to do business in Libya. Mr. Blumenthal also appeared to be gathering information from anonymous Libyan and Western officials and local news media reports.

Secretary Clinton wanted Blumenthal to come to the State Department with her, but — remembering how he orchestrated vicious attacks against Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign — the Obama administration turned down her request to bring him aboard. Nevertheless, while she was paying his salary for his work at the Clinton Foundation, she appointed him a special advisor to the State Department anyway, getting around the administration’s wishes.

As for the Blumenthal e-mails, Clinton forwarded his reports on Libya — where he had never been and about which he knew nothing — to others at State and elsewhere without identifying who wrote them. Most importantly, Blumenthal was sending out recommendations favoring those with whom he was involved in a prospective business deal.

Especially damaging was one sent in January 2012, about which the Times noted:

Blumenthal said that Libya’s prime minister was bringing in new economic advisers, and that a businessman, Najib Obeida, was among “the most influential of this group.” At the time, Mr. Obeida was a potential business partner for a group of contractors whom Mr. Blumenthal was advising.

Blumenthal was also one of the first to tell her that, according to Libyan officials, the Benghazi attacks were prompted by the obscure film Innocence of Muslims. A “’senior security officer’ had told Libya’s president,” the Times reported, “that Blumenthal reported that the attacks on that day were inspired by what many devout Libyan [s] viewed as a sacrilegious internet video.” Blumenthal added: “Some of the Libyan officials believe that the entire demonstration was organized as a cover for the attack.”

As we know, Hillary decided to go with the first version.

To those of us who have had contact with and are familiar with Blumenthal’s reporting, there is no doubt that he is incapable of being non-partisan or objective. Blumenthal always saw himself as a partisan fighter in the war against what Hillary Clinton famously called “the great right-wing conspiracy” — a term suggested to her by none other than Blumenthal.

To see what Blumenthal was all about in the ’80s, one must read Joshua Muravchik’s devastating review of Blumenthal’s 1986 book, The Rise of the Counter-Establishment, in which Blumenthal argues that a new conservative “elite” has been created and has built “an alternative presence” that, he claims, is more powerful and potent than the old liberal Establishment. Muravchick dissects the book, writing that it is nothing less than “an outburst, a formless outpouring of venom, bounded by no ethics of discourse, nor by logic, consistency, or accuracy.”

What it does show is that Blumenthal’s obsession with and hatred of those he brands “the Right” started in this era, if not before. And, as Muravchick shows, Blumenthal remains true to the New Left origins from whose ranks he started his political life.

Blumenthal would use any ammunition against her enemies, even if they came from conservative sources he hated. First, during the early days of the 2008 campaign, when Hillary was running in the primaries against Barack Obama, Blumenthal himself decided to use the work of various conservative news sources that were exposing Obama’s leftist background. Blumenthal sought to use this information in the hope of mitigating the damage that might be done by the release of information that showed Hillary herself was on the far left in her youth.

I wrote this up for the Weekly Standard in a column titled “Dueling Redbaiters: Which Candidate is the real Leftist?” I explained it this way:

Before you could say Comrade, Clinton’s close adviser Sidney Blumenthal was emailing out blog posts, articles, and reports from a wide array of conservative sources. Blumenthal’s missives went to “an influential list of opinion shapers — including journalists, former Clinton administration officials, academics, policy entrepreneurs, and think tankers,” as the left-wing activist and professor Peter Dreier reported on the Huffington Post (May 1).

Blumenthal sent out pieces from the ultra-conservative Accuracy in Media (AIM) –”With Obama, It’s the Communism, Stupid,” “Obama and the Fifth Column,” “Is Barack Obama a Marxist Mole?” — as well as items from more mainstream conservative publications, such as a Fred Siegel cover story from National Review, Fred Barnes’s “Republicans Root for Obama” from the Weekly Standard, and an older City Journal article by Sol Stern reporting Bill Ayers’s current role in developing a radical curriculum for K-12 teachers (“Ayers’s texts on the imperative of social-justice teaching are among the most popular works in the syllabi of the nation’s ed schools and teacher-training institutes”).”

This was shocking in its own way. Dreier noted that Blumenthal, the very man who coined the term “vast right-wing conspiracy” by circulating articles from the conservative media, was attempting to exploit “that same right-wing network to attack and discredit Barack Obama.”

The man would clearly stop at nothing to put Hillary over. But Blumenthal’s viciousness — which led those who knew his real character to call him “Sid Vicious” — led him during the time of the Clinton impeachment drama to go to new extremes. At that time, he served the same function for Bill Clinton that he did in the 2008 campaign waged by Hillary in the Democrat primaries. After Clinton’s tryst with Monica Lewinsky was made public, he painted the picture that it was Lewinsky who was the responsible party and had been stalking the president.

That led to a famous break with his once-close friend, the late Christopher Hitchens, who knew it to be untrue and detested both Clintons’ attempts to always blame his prey.

Paul Mirengoff explains more at

During the 1980s, Blumenthal became alarmed by the rise of conservatism as an intellectual-political movement. As a reporter for the Washington Post, he attacked those whom he viewed as in the vanguard of that movement, especially, it seemed, if they happened to be Jewish. Among his targets were Elliott Abrams (who, Blumenthal thought, didn’t take John Lennon’s death seriously enough), Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, and David Horowitz.

To that end, Blumenthal made an accusation that Michael Ledeen was responsible for a post appearing on Drudge Report, in which Drudge had accused Blumenthal of beating his wife. Blumenthal sued Ledeen for defamation, and he and his wife Barbara were subject to what any reader can see was a broad-based witch hunt meant to smoke out Ledeen’s political views, as well as scores of other personal and business matters having nothing to do with the allegation made by Blumenthal. Drudge eventually had to apologize and retract his accusation, which had no basis in fact. But Blumenthal used the accusation to go after the Ledeens — and possibly two-dozen other conservatives he listed as accomplices.

It was an opportunity to harass the Clintons’ critics, and to conduct a fishing expedition into the phrase he had given Hillary to use — that of “the great right-wing conspiracy.”

Michael Ledeen responded with an Open Letter to conservatives, warning others of what they would face when questioned by Sidney Blumenthal’s lawyers: the questions would deal with their views of Blumenthal, Clinton, and what one might have written critical of Blumenthal or the president, he warned. Ledeen noted that these forced appearances would be a chance to show how Blumenthal, contrary to his own claims, was anything but a defender of free speech.

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As each day passes, the Left is becoming more excited about Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders’ entry into the Democratic primaries.

Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson points out:

[Sanders’ campaign] is the first such effort by a democratic socialist since Norman Thomas waged the last of his six such campaigns on the Socialist Party ticket in 1948.

However, there is one big difference between these two socialist campaigns: Thomas ran on his own party’s ticket, and not within the Democratic Party primaries.

He was acting on Eugene V. Debs’ old axiom that if you don’t vote for the candidate you really want, you’ll definitely get the one you don’t. Certainly, Debs received the largest vote a Socialist had ever received in the 1912 presidential race, but even so, it was only 5% and did not affect the election results. Debs believed, as he said in his post-election statement, that the million votes cast for him presaged something they could build upon — and that both the Republican and Democrat parties would collapse, leaving the Socialists in place for eventual victory.

That did not happen, but there have been changes within the current Democratic Party that might make Debs happy. Sanders decided not to emulate Debs, but to run within a Democratic Party that has already become a social-democratic political party on the far left of the spectrum.

The late socialist leader Michael Harrington considered the Democratic Party to be part of “the invisible social democracy” in which those who wanted America to turn socialist had to engage. That is why Harrington supported the policy advocated by Communist Earl Browder during the WWII years, which was to work within and support the Democrats, hoping to push the party towards the radical policies the socialists desired.

Today, Meyerson says that Sanders is advocating policies that are “distinctly more progressive than last year’s standard Democratic fare,” amounting to “a slightly more social democratic version of the newly populist liberalism.”

With Sanders running at a moment when “Democrats are moving left in response to the deep dysfunctions of U.S. capitalism,” Meyerson believes this is the right moment to put forth even more radical measures than Democrats of the past would have dared to propose, including higher Social Security benefits, single-payer national health care, major raises in the minimum wage, higher taxes on the rich, and cancellation of a new free-trade agreement with the Pacific Rim nations.

Give both Sanders and Meyerson credit for saying what they really advocate. They want to bring America closer to what exists in the welfare states of Europe, where economies are on the verge of collapse due to left-wing programs that cannot economically be sustained.

Do Meyerson and Sanders really believe that such programs are economically viable, and that taxing the rich will bring in enough money to fund what they advocate? If so, they are delusional. They seem to think, as William Voegeli argues in his seminal book, Never Enough: America’s Limitless Welfare State, that our existing welfare state is limitless, and can be expanded dramatically so that the goal of equality by command will be realized.

Unlike the modest reforms Meyerson cites that Debs supported — an eight-hour workday, social insurance, and women’s suffrage — today’s socialists advocate such an expansion of government power and integration of the state with the economy that it would amount to destruction of the American idea.

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