Editor’s Note: PJ Lifestyle seeks to promote dialogue and debate across ideologies, cultures, and religions. This debate in particular — within the conservative movement regarding goals and tactics — is vital. Both Ron Radosh and Andrew C. McCarthy are exemplary exponents of their positions. I would like to encourage more debate and discussion on this subject, inviting others to respond to Krauthammer’s Daily Show appearance, McCarthy’s NRO article, and Ron’s PJM article cross-posted from his blog. I will attempt to weigh in soon. – DMS
Should Conservatives Oppose a Welfare State? Why Charles Krauthammer is Correct and Andy McCarthy is Wrong
Some Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz, have argued that if ObamaCare goes through, an entire group of people will want and like the services offered, thus creating a new dependent culture of people hooked on the supposedly universal and free medical care being offered. Hence, any chances of repealing or reversing it in the future will be doomed.
The events of the previous week have shown that this is an unfounded fear. More likely is that the inherent flaws in ObamCare, now more apparent than ever, will create a groundswell of public opinion demanding either its delay or a movement to scratch it completely and come up with a program that actually works to reform and improve health care in a meaningful way.
We now know, as Stuart Stevens reports in The Daily Beast, that even left-leaning Vermont, the state with the only openly socialist senator, has seen that the roll-out of the health exchanges has been “an unmitigated disaster.” And in the reliably blue state of Maryland, only 1,000 people were able to enroll on the state’s own website, which had as many glitches and software problems as the federal website.
While liberals and leftists argue that the program is solid, and that it is only the software that is bad, Stevens writes that the current problems serve to illustrate ObamaCare’s fatal flaw:
One of the president’s key selling points of the ACA was the promise that if you liked your plan, you could keep it. We’re learning that’s often not the case as Obamacare is implemented across the country. And in Vermont, there has been no pretense of such assurance.
As of January 1, 2014, in Vermont, the ability for individuals or employers with 50 or fewer employees to purchase health insurance from private insurance companies ceases to exist. As for policies already covering those businesses and individuals? Those cease to exist, as well. In other words, in Vermont, a good percentage of its population will have no choice but to buy health insurance through the state exchange.
Now Vermont, like the federal government, is using PR to try to get people to register, as well as trying other methods, such as urging applicants to try to phone in their applications or do it via snail mail. Why not go back to early 20th century methods while we’re living in the 21st century? Perhaps they should also try to revive the Pony Express.
Vermont, Stevens points out, has the highest insurance premiums in the nation. As good liberals, their government has stringent regulations on the insurance industry, thus preventing competition. ObamaCare will not help Vermont residents, since there are only two companies offering plans on the exchange. And rates are the same for everyone, whatever their age or condition of their health. What this reveals is the essence of socialist engineering to produce equality. To their eyes, it sounds good and moral since everyone pays the same and everyone gets equal treatment. The result: People in their 50s and early 60s — before they are eligible for Medicare — pay the same rates as a young person in his 20s! As Cynthia Cox, a healthcare expert at Kaiser, explains, “Younger people will have higher premiums in Vermont than they might if they lived elsewhere, whereas older people might have lower premiums than if they lived elsewhere.”
So if you are such a young person, who earns a starting salary of perhaps $25,000 a year, and you find out that to purchase a health insurance policy on the new exchange will cost you a small fortune, you will, instead, opt to pay the $95 penalty (or 1% of your income, whichever is greater) at tax time. If you become seriously ill before that, you will then enroll and get the medical care you need, assuming that the federal and state enrollment sites are working by then. This means, however, that when your decision is put together with all the other young people who do the same and do not enroll, the ObamaCare system will not have enough young people registered to pay for the elderly people with serious health conditions who have enrolled. At that point, the system crashes and is not fiscally sustainable. As Stevens puts it, “without a pool of younger, healthier participants, it’s difficult for any insurance plan to survive.
The truth is, as Michael Gerson writes, that ObamaCare “could become an intellectual crisis for modern liberalism.” The software “glitches” could be fixed — although perhaps not in time for the January enrollment deadline. But even if they are, without enough young people enrolling, the program on its own terms is not likely to work. Its likely failure will show the follies of liberalism and the belief of all those who think socialist type planning can work. Those who really need the coverage because of pre-existing conditions, or those with new, serious medical conditions, will do everything to enroll. Those without these fears will sit back and opt for the small penalty fee. Oh yes, the government could change that to an enormous fee, but imagine the outcry of the young Obama supporters if it tries to do that.
Joe Scarborough is Out to Lunch while his program’s Guest, Bill Ayers, Spews Unchallenged Propaganda
This morning on MSNBC, Morning Joe did its viewers a major disservice, by reserving its book spot for none other than Bill Ayers, who was there to plug his new memoir Public Enemy: Memoirs of an American Dissident. To make matters even worse, Joe Scarborough, on set for all the other segments, mysteriously disappeared after the break. Ayers was left to be questioned by the non-threatening (not to say Scarborough would have been hostile to Ayers, but as a self-described conservative, he would by nature have offended Ayers’ sensibilities) Mika Brzezinski and journalist Mark Halperin.
The entire segment was structured as a propaganda coup for Ayers. It began with clips from Sarah Palin at 2008 campaign events, including the famous one in which she referred to Barack Obama as “palling around with terrorists.” If you watch the segment from the beginning, nothing Palin said is actually objectionable or wrong, although it was clearly broadcast again to show how unfair the vice-presidential candidate was to poor victim Bill Ayers.
Showing her own ignorance, Brzezinski welcomed him as a “founder of the militant anti-war group the Weather Underground.” In saying this, she from the start allowed Ayers to falsely paint himself for the benefit of his book sales and for the purpose of gaining his TV audience’s confidence.
Anyone at all familiar with Ayers and the WU knows that their goal was to destroy the “Amerikan Empire,” to bring down capitalism and build a revolutionary communist state, and to use force and violence — and bombings of police stations, Army recruitment centers, and, of course, the actual failed attempt to bomb a dance for new recruits at Fort Dix — as part of the necessary actions to destroy capitalism and act in a revolutionary fashion while living “in the belly of the beast.” A simple five-minute Google search could have found scores of articles about what Ayers really believes, including the many I wrote for PJ Media from 2008 on. Or Brzezinski could have picked up Peter Collier and David Horowitz’s classic Destructive Generation and, in one chapter, learned all they needed to know.
How David Horowitz Revealed the Truth about Ralph Miliband’s Legacy: What it Should Teach the British Left
You may not know the name Ralph Miliband, but the late Marxist professor is a household name in the UK. He was the father of Ed Miliband, the Labor Party’s leader and a possible future prime minister. When the conservative Daily Mail ran a story about the father’s influence on his son, the controversy began.
It started with an October 1 story by Geoffrey Levy in which the journalist wrote that young Ed wants nothing less than to fulfill his father’s dreams and return England from the legacy left by Margaret Thatcher to a new 21st century socialism:
Ed is now determined to bring about that vision. … How proud Ralph would have been to hear him responding the other day to a man in the street who asked when he was “going to bring back socialism” with the words: “That’s what we are doing, sir.”
Ed Miliband’s father, the story continues, was a full-throated Marxist, committed to nationalization and harsh socialist policies. Levy paints the senior Miliband as a man who hated the country he adopted as his own when he sought refuge from Nazi Germany, a man who was critical of the Soviet Union but still believed it was socialist, and who thought Gorbachev had successfully “democratized” Soviet society. Nothing had changed in his belief system, he wrote, since the time when, as a young man, he made the pilgrimage to Karl Marx’s grave in 1940, and he wrote:
I remember standing in front of the grave, fist clenched, and swearing my own private oath that I would be faithful to the workers’ cause.
Now, Miliband is buried in a grave 12 short yards from Marx’s grave, and his tombstone bares the inscription: “Writer Teacher Socialist.”
He had dedicated his life, he wrote near the end of his life, to realizing the socialist dream, and preparing the ground for “such an alternative.” With Ed as prime minister, Levy concludes, “perhaps that ground is indeed now being prepared.”
That one article began the fierce war of words. Ed Miliband told the press that he found the story “appalling,” and “responded by accusing the paper of peddling ‘a lie’ and trying to ‘besmirch and undermine’ his dead father for political ends.” He wrote:
Fierce debate about politics does not justify character assassination of my father, questioning the patriotism of a man who risked his life for our country in the Second World War or publishing a picture of his gravestone with a tasteless pun about him being a “grave socialist.”
The editors of the Daily Mail responded by saying that Ralph Miliband sought to drive “a hammer and sickle through the heart of the nation so many of us genuinely love.”
Miliband’s friends were aghast. They particularly did not like tying Ralph Miliband in with the late historian Eric Hobsbawm, an unabashed Stalinist who in a famous late-in-life interview justified the millions Stalin killed as necessary for the triumph of socialism. Norm Geras, a moderate and truly democratic man of the Left — he has been at the forefront of condemning the current anti-Israeli stance and anti-Semitism of the Left in Britain — argued that Ralph Miliband believed in parliamentary democracy under socialism, and was anything but a Leninist who believed in “smashing the state.” Geras wrote: “he was never a Stalinist or an apologist for Stalinism.” Geras was particularly incensed about a column by Benedict Brogan, who called Miliband one of the Cold War’s “bad guys.”
Editor-in-chief of the Daily Mail Paul Dacre responded in both his own paper and in the pages of the left-wing Guardian. He explained his decision to run the first column in these words:
The genesis of that piece lay in Ed Miliband’s conference speech. The Mail was deeply concerned that in 2013, after all the failures of socialism in the twentieth century, the leader of the Labour party was announcing its return, complete with land seizures and price fixing.
Surely, we reasoned, the public had the right to know what influence the Labour leader’s Marxist father, to whom he constantly referred in his speeches, had on his thinking.
It was not Miliband who was evil, but the ideas he believed in and the system he favored for Britain:
Ralph Miliband was, as a Marxist, committed to smashing the institutions that make Britain distinctively British — and, with them, the liberties and democracy those institutions have fostered.
At this point, columnists whose own fathers and ancestors were also Marxist, or who at one point were themselves Marxist, took to the pages of the press. Theodore Dalrymple (who writes often for PJ Media) chimed in with his own thoughts, revealing that his father was also wrong and was himself a hard-core Marxist. He pointed out that the Marxist doctrine is both emotionally and intellectually dishonest:
I quickly grasped that the dialectic could prove anything you wanted it to prove, for example, that killing whole categories of people was a requirement of elementary decency.
Dalrymple brilliantly noted the main problem with the doctrine, which, as he notes, a belief in leads to justification for mass murder:
Marxism was also replete with heresies and excommunications that tended to become fatal whenever its adherents reached power. There was a reason for this. Marx said that it is not consciousness that determines being, but being that determines consciousness. In other words, ideas do not have to be argued against in a civilised way, but rather the social and economic position of those who hold them must be analysed. So, disagreement is the same as class enmity — and we all know what should be done with class enemies.
Why is Bill De Blasio’s 1988 trip to Nicaragua something New York City voters should consider when casting their ballot for mayor next November? After all, the major issues facing the city are its increasing debt from union contracts; whether businesses will be welcomed and allowed to flourish or be met by increased taxes that cause them to flee the city; and, of course, De Blasio’s commitment to put an end to the successful “stop and frisk” policies used by the city’s police force, which have led to less crime — especially in urban minority areas of the city.
So, why is it even being discussed? I raised the issue myself for the city’s voters in op-eds that appeared in the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Now, two other important articles have appeared that spell out why De Blasio’s defense of his pro-Sandinista activities in the ’80s is important, and worth reconsidering.
The first appears in today’s Wall Street Journal, and is written by their Latin American affairs editor, Mary Anastasia O’Grady. She points out that his old trip “should further enlighten New Yorkers as to the politics of the man who is the front runner in the race.” She points out that by the time he traveled to Nicaragua, the Sandinistas had been in power for almost an entire decade.
By then, any honest observer should have had no doubts about what they were up to.
O’Grady runs through the entire trajectory of the Sandinistas’ so-called accomplishments. For example, in 1980 — a short time after taking power in an armed coup — the Sandinistas assassinated a democratic opponent who had opposed the authoritarian Somoza regime that had been overthrown. They then moved to purge the first “directorate” of all moderate elements, leaving only committed Marxist-Leninists in power. O’Grady notes:
The crackdown that followed was ruthless. Cuban enforcers were brought in to help. Houses, farms, ranches and businesses were confiscated, and the independent media were muzzled. Central planning meant price controls for everyone. Even rural women carrying produce to market were arrested as speculators.
With blunt sarcasm, she asks how De Blasio could not know about this, since, after all, “he had only completed graduate studies of the region” at Columbia University.
She suggests that he nevertheless probably did know the truth, but thought that the “brutality could be explained away with good outcomes,” since to this day he still defends and approves of the Sandinistas. That his comrades “turned out to be greedy totalitarians who stole the spoils of the war for themselves doesn’t seem to matter.”
An even more important, though unfortunately little read, open letter to Mr. De Blasio appeared on the webpage of The New Republic, written by an outstanding American intellectual of the Left, Paul Berman. Paul Berman is the author of major books critical of the Islamists, and in particular he has been the most vociferous of the critics of Tariq Ramadan, the academic so many liberals and leftists regard as a man of moderation who should be taken seriously. Berman has shown him to be a slippery defender of radical Islam.
In his first open letter, titled “Bill de Blasio should Embrace Democratic Socialism in New York City,” Berman tries to establish his leftist credentials with De Blasio, obviously in the hope that he will go on to the second part. It is a silly and foolish choice. He makes it clear that he is a proud democratic socialist, and he argues that democratic socialism once had “an honored place” in the city’s history. To establish that, he goes back decades to the ’30s, ’40s and to the early ’60s, when anti-Communist social democratic unions had some political clout and, he notes, built institutions that lasted, such as cooperative apartment houses.
This is more of Berman’s romanticism, reflected in his early enthusiasm for Occupy Wall Street. It is too cute by half. He must realize that the kind of socialists he remembers and celebrates would be called “social fascists” by the kind of Left that De Blasio and his generation are part of. They have all but disappeared from sight, save for a few intellectuals like Berman who sit alongside him at Dissent magazine. Berman says little about the disastrous economic policies that De Blasio supports and that could bring the city to ruin.
His second open letter, titled “Why De Blasio’s Nicaraguan Work Worries Me,” shows Berman at his best.
Berman reveals just how he, in the same years De Blasio went to Nicaragua, came to learn what the Sandinistas were really about. His powerful article stands as a singular accomplishment, an example of how even a man of the Left, when honestly looking at reality, can ditch his early enthusiasms and think twice about the forces he was supporting.
Berman once was a Sandinista supporter. His first somewhat critical articles actually appeared in Mother Jones, an act for which its then editor, pre-filmmaker Michael Moore, fired Berman from the magazine. Hence Berman begins by writing that the international support for the Sandinistas “was earnest and sincere,” although some was “fanatically arrogant and shrill.” However, Berman is hoping to get De Blasio to read on, so he writes that he knows the future mayor’s “commitment to the Sandinista cause” and reveals that he was once “bold and adventurous and idealistic.” Hence he writes: “I salute you.”
Conservative readers, please do not stop at that paragraph. Berman is getting ready for the kill.
Do you know who Diane Ravitch is? If not, you should. No other educator has been acclaimed in so many places as the woman who can lead American education into the future. Her new book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, had a first printing of 75,000 copies and quickly made the New York Times non-fiction best seller list.
Recently, the leading magazine for left-liberal intellectuals, The New York Review of Books, featured a cover story about Ravitch by Andrew Delbanco. He compares the approaches of the educator most despised by the Left, Michelle Rhee, with Ravitch. He calls Ravitch “our leading historian of primary and secondary education.” Having established that, he goes on to note Ravitch’s condemnation of Rhee, which he says “borders on contempt.” Delbanco also dislikes Rhee. He does not agree with what he calls her “determination to remake public institutions on the model of private corporations.” Rhee is pro-corporate, a woman who wants “to introduce private competition (in police, military, and postal services, for example) where government was once the only provider.” In other words, Rhee stands with the enemies of the Left who want school choice for poor children, vouchers, charter schools, and competition, rather than more pay for teachers, smaller classes, and working with and through the teachers’ unions.
To Delbanco, people who hold such reviews are retrograde, “true believers” in “the promise of privatization.” To the journal’s readers, these code words are enough to know that Rhee is someone to oppose, and if Ravitch is on the other side, she is someone to support. Indeed, if they didn’t get the message, Delbanco adds that one lobbying group that favors charter schools is — horrors — funded by the Koch brothers, and the group also supports “stand your ground” laws.
Now his readers definitely know that Rhee is evil, and that Ravitch is good. He writes:
Through Ravitch’s eyes we see what Rhee refuses to see: the limits of what even the most skilled teacher can do in the face of such realities. “Poverty,” she says bluntly, “is the most important factor contributing to low academic achievement.” And so “we must work both to improve schools and to reduce poverty, not to prioritize one over the other or say that schools come first, poverty later.” This is an incontestably true statement — but not the kind of call to arms that gets you on the cover of Time magazine.
But, it definitely is the point you will see in the NYRB or The Nation, over and over and again and again.
So here are their differences, according to Delbanco:
Ravitch wants a return to broad-scale attack on social and economic inequities — to incremental, long-range strategies that do not promise quick results. Rhee, essentially, wants shock therapy for the schools.
In a nutshell, good teaching depends on a radical political program, one that pushes our nation to the Left and that will result in answering the problems of education. Thus Rhee does not like the teachers’ unions, which she accuses of being “a thuggish interest group that stands in the way of reform and holds the Democratic Party in thrall. She sees its overriding purpose as protecting weak or burned-out teachers who block opportunities for younger teachers who have better prospects of instructing and inspiring children.” Ravitch, on the other hand, makes her case for teachers’ unions “with more nuance and depth,” which means Delbanco agrees with the unions. So of course Ravitch is right. “She sees it as ‘the strongest voice in each state to advocate for public education and to fight crippling budget cuts.’” Of course, unions often stand against any reforms that would interfere with the power of bad teachers to keep their jobs at the students’ expense, because they have seniority and vote for the Democratic lawmakers who continually give them more benefits at the time of contract renewal.
There is much in Delbanco’s review that leaves out what Diane Ravitch really stands for. To learn this, one must turn to the very important article by Sol Stern that challenges and tears apart Ravitch’s views, and seeks to explain why and how Ravitch changed — she was once a major advocate for school reform who worked in the administration of George H. W. Bush, where she supported national standards and school choice. She gradually broke ranks and moved to the side of leftist political ideology as well as opponents of any school reforms.
With Sol Stern’s important critique, Diane Ravitch has met her match. Stern’s must-read article appears in City Journal and is titled “The Closing of Diane Ravitch’s Mind.” He writes:
She reinvented herself as a vehement political activist. Once one of the conservative school-reform movement’s most visible faces, Ravitch became the inspirational leader of a radical countermovement that is rising from the grass roots to oppose the corporate villains. Evoking the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King, Ravitch proclaims that the only answer to the corporate school-reform agenda is to “build a political movement so united and clear in its purpose that it would be heard in every state Capitol and even in Washington, D.C.” The problem is that Ravitch’s civil rights analogy is misplaced; her new ideological allies have proved themselves utterly incapable of raising the educational achievement of poor minority kids.
As the mayoral campaign of Bill de Blasio moves on, the revelation that the likely victor was a Sandinista supporter as a young man in the 1980s has begun to be noticed. It made de Blasio actually have to respond to his Republican opponent, Joe Lhota, who had condemned him as a “Marxist.” But instead of saying something to the effect that he was young, idealistic, and perhaps wrong about Nicaragua, he openly defended his positions.
In an interview with Capital, a Manhattan-based publication, de Blasio argued that U.S. policies in Central America in the ’80s “were wrong,” and that he was only working with Jesuits and Catholics, with much of the work “done by nuns.” Well, there are nuns and then there are nuns. And de Blasio, by his own account, thinks he was on the right side, since those supported by the U.S. in the Reagan and Bush 41 years were regimes “very unfair to their own people.”
In standing firm in defense of his old positions, de Blasio has revealed how little he has learned. The truth is that the Catholics he supported in Nicaragua — including the nuns — were part of the regime-created “Popular Church,” an attempt to fuse Catholicism with Marxism in support of the Sandinista Front (FSLN), and were advocates of “liberation theology,” popular among the Catholic left in the region in those years. The regular Church, as in Poland, condemned the Sandinistas and was a strong opponent of the drift to totalitarianism.
Today, in City Journal, my old friend Sol Stern has perhaps the single best article on what a de Blasio victory might mean for New York City, and for the nation. As Stern writes, “Bill de Blasio was outed by the New York Times and then proudly stood his ground, politically and ideologically”:
De Blasio’s untroubled response to the Times’s revelations speaks volumes about New York’s rapidly changing political culture. It’s not that the next mayor will try to establish socialism or bring Sandinista ideas about the class struggle to government agencies. But de Blasio’s ascendency, perhaps even more than Obama’s, marks another step in the evolution of the Democratic party and big-city liberalism toward a twenty-first-century version of the old Popular Front. De Blasio’s City Hall will be open for business to each element of a self-styled “progressive” coalition of “inclusion.” No group or individual will be deemed too far to the left as long as they jump on the de Blasio bandwagon. Lining up to receive their fair share of the spoils will be the old Acorn organization, now renamed New York Communities for Change; the far-left Working Families Party; the United Federation of Teachers and other municipal unions; the radical Service Employees International Union, including the former Communist-led health-care workers’ union Local 1199; the civil liberties and homeless lobbies; and, of course, the onetime racial arsonist Al Sharpton, now posing as a wise elder and political power broker. To varying degrees, each will have a place at the municipal trough. Meanwhile, at the other end of City Hall—thanks to the successful efforts of the Working Families Party in many local races this year—the newly elected city council will tilt further left and will dole out even more cash to radical and activist community groups.”
Given that New York City is the financial center of our country, and hence important nationally, if the dark scenario laid out by Stern as a possible result of a de Blasio victory comes true, it bodes ill for our country as a whole. It is as important a development on the Left as was Scott Walker’s victory over the Left in Wisconsin.
To confirm how much the national Left is moving to support the de Blasio campaign, look no further than this article at Huffington Post by the New Left’s main 1960s leader and author of the Port Huron Statement that announced SDS to the nation, Tom Hayden. He likes de Blasio for one reason. His candidacy, Hayden writes, “should hugely excite the progressive base in New York politics after a long period of Republican rule. De Blasio did not leave his radical youth behind either; in the present day, he is a leading critic of stop-and-frisk and the massive economic inequalities dramatized by Occupy Wall Street.”
We used to call young Americans who went to Sandinista Nicaragua in the ’80s “Sandalistas,” a name of derision meant to mock the sandal-wearing leftists looking to help Daniel Ortega build the socialist future in Central America. As we all know, what was going on was a fight for freedom against the Marxist-Leninists, which included most of the Sandinista leadership, by those who wanted to defeat their attempt to build a second Cuba in this hemisphere.
Bill de Blasio, who most likely will be the next mayor of New York, is not just a simple run-of-the mill “progressive.” The New York Times just published a major story on his background, timed to run after the the New York City primary, which was likely the real election. (Rudy Giuliani’s victory on the Republican ticket was an anomaly, and the working-class voters whose ballots put him in no longer live in the areas from which he got the necessary votes.) Had voters known about de Blasio’s background before the primary, he may have lost the critical number of votes for his victory.
Indeed, the Times tells us of a whitewash: “References to his early activism have been omitted from his campaign Web site.”
No wonder. The story by Javier C. Hernandez reveals de Blasio was a far-left socialist who worked with an outfit called The Quixote Center. But he was not simply tilting at windmills; he visited a Nicaragua on the road to communism, and came back with “a vision of the possibilities of an unfettered leftist government.”
The Reagan administration was right in denouncing the Nicaraguan regime –which took power by a coup led by armed guerrillas — as a tyranny led by Communists. Hernandez writes: “Their liberal backers argued that … they were building a free society with broad access to education, land and health care.” The backers of Ortega’s coup were not liberals, but hardcore Marxists, socialists, and other anti-American members of the New Left. Soured on Cuba, they turned to Nicaragua as their new land of hope.
De Blasio told Hernandez: “My work was based on trying to create a more fair and inclusive world.” Like other blinded gullible leftists, he accepted the Marxist jargon peddled by the regime’s junta while ignoring that the Commandantes like Tomas Borge, Daniel Ortega, and the rest of the bunch were lining their own pockets with the most valuable properties. They were creating a wealthy nomenklatura modeled on Soviet lines which gave them access to the wealth and power no one else in the country could access. Led by Borge’s secret police, who were trained by the East German Stasi and quartered in a building with the sign reading “Sentinel of the People’s Happiness,” they crushed dissent, closed down the opposition newspaper La Prensa, and instituted major steps towards building a one-party system.
As the Times notes: “Mr. de Blasio became an ardent supporter of the Nicaraguan revolutionaries.” In 1990, he said publicly that his goal for America was “democratic socialism.”
As the New York Daily News reported, de Blasio took his 1991 honeymoon in Castro’s Cuba! I guess totalitarian Cuba is what he meant by “democratic socialism.”
De Blasio’s path to power reveals a local version of the path trod by Barack Obama — that of a “Long March through the Existing Institutions,” which is what the German New Left revolutionary leaders in the 1960s called the road to power. For the advanced capitalist countries, Mao’s Long March was not the way; rather, the path was political power by working through the existing political structure and moving to take over one of the mainstream dominant political parties.
In New York City, with his ally in the radical Working Families Party — affiliated with the former ACORN — de Blasio has shunned the real goal of socialism. Calling himself progressive, he has worked to create a majority to run New York that is anti-business and supports greater and greater entitlements. As Jonathan Tobin writes in Commentary, de Blasio’s “left-wing populism and hostility to both the business community and the police tactics that have helped fuel New York’s revival bode ill for the city’s future.”
If you want to understand how so many Communists and fellow travelers could defend Stalin’s bloodthirsty tyranny in the 1930s, ’40s, and ’50s, look no further than the behavior of a section of the self-proclaimed anti-war Left today. Global Research, a division of International Answer, reported yesterday that former Attorney General Ramsey Clark (1967-69) is now in Syria, where he is leading a delegation in support of the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
Joining him on the trip is former six-term member of Congress from Atlanta, Georgia, the virulently pro-Arab and anti-Israel Cynthia McKinney. (Her father blamed the loss of her ongressional seat on the Jews, who, he claimed, “bought everybody.”)
Also along for the trip were Dedon Kamathi of the All African People’s Revolutionary Party and the left-wing Pacifica Radio, and Johnny Achi of Arab Americans for Syria.
They are sponsored by the revolutionary socialist group International Answer, which ran anti-war rallies during the Bush-era Iraq War. Organizer Sara Flounders, who wrote the report and is accompanying the group, reported: “If anything, support [in Syria] for the government is much stronger now.”
Flounders and the group also praised the legion of gullible Western volunteers, who have flooded to Syria to willingly serve as human shields for Assad. They positioned themselves in areas they thought likely to be targeted by bombs. Calling the action “Over Our Dead Bodies,” they formed an encampment in 50 tents in the Mout Qassioun area of Damascus. “Democracy,” proclaimed organizer Ogarit Dandash, “will not come with American weapons.”
Not that they want democracy. Unless, perhaps, it’s the “people’s democracies” imposed on Eastern Europe by Stalin at the end of the second World War.
BuzzFeed reported that McKinney praised the Assad regime on her Facebook page for its socially progressive policies:
I am in Syria now with former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, where residents enjoy free education and free healthcare. … Visited a Damascus hospital, the Grand Mufti, a school that has been turned into residences for Internally Displaced Persons. Ended the Day with Ogarit Dandash who founded “Over Our Dead Bodies,” a group of young people who climbed atop Mount Qasioun and dared U.S. bombs to target them. They are still there in defiant resistance to any war against Syria. Mount Qasioun should be the site of a peace party, not bombing strikes.
Just like with Cuba, free health care and free education for the loyal portion of the Alawite minority trump the over 100,000 civilians killed by Assad in the past few years. What are their deaths compared to the joy of establishing socialism? Stalin, after all, killed millions in his valiant attempt to create the communist future. Now, with Assad, Clark and McKinney feel they once again have a chance to start off where Stalin failed.
To be fair, I should point out that Clark’s views are even too much for some on the Left. Writing in Salon, Ian Williams pointed out a few years ago that “Clark has become the tool of left-wing cultists who defend Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, and Rwandan torturers as anti-imperialist heroes.”
In his interesting profile, Williams also puts his finger on why so many of his leftist comrades are reluctant to criticize Clark:
Many liberals and leftists cut Clark a considerable degree of slack. For a start he is almost the only person the American left has had in high public office since World War II, even if it was a retrospective success, since his long march leftward only began afterward. His views as the former attorney general are listened to with a respect that would be accorded to few others with such eccentric opinions. As a revered spokesman of the left, he is a perfect symbol for its near-impotence in American politics today.
To put it another way, they may think Clark is cuckoo, but since he was one of their own who actually held high office, they do not want to publicly attack him. You never know, after all, when something they support will be attacked and they might need Clark to jump in and come to their defense.
As for McKinney, she supported Muamaar Gaddafi during the Obama administration’s actions to topple his regime, and appeared on Libyan state TV in defense of the ruler.
Reading Charles Lane’s important column in The Washington Post about a new indie film, Una Noche (One Night), I promptly rented it “On Demand” on my cable system. It is also available as an iTunes download.
Filmmaker Lucy Mulloy is new to the business. This is her first film, and it is now available after premiering at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival in 2012, as well as the Berlin Film Festival that same year. Unless you live in New York City where some theaters are showing it, you have to watch it at home.
What Mulloy has done is to reveal the truth about daily life in Communist Cuba, in a way that Western visitors to Cuba have little understanding. Indeed, the very week that Mulloy’s film has been made available for viewing, The New York Times Travel Section featured two different articles extolling tourism to Cuba, and in effect encouraging its readers to avail themselves of the opportunity to engage in well-managed Potemkin Village tours, in which representatives of Cuba’s tourism industry – controlled by Cuba’s state-security apparatus – guide the gullible Americans to show them how joyous and happy the people are, and how wonderful the regime is that gives its people such a good life. They come back extolling the virtues of the Cuban government, joining in calls to lift the embargo on Cuba, and reporting on how well off things are for the people.
The first Times article informs readers that “ Those eager to get to Cuba just have to pay, and agree to take part in a busy, highly organized tour with very little free time.” Sure, if you had time on your own, you might wander off and see the parts of Havana that Mulloy shows us, and see how people really live and learn what they really think. When I went there in the mid-1970s, I did just that, and ended up getting arrested and thrown into a local holding cell in a police station for six hours because I took a photo of a giant line in front of a nationalized Woolworth store that had just received a rare shipment of plastic shoes from Eastern Europe.
The second Times article notes that “nearly every major tour company is now jockeying for the hearts and wallets of American tourists.” Why not? The tours cost a great deal of money, the food is reportedly mediocre (perhaps better than when I was there, and it was close to inedible) and you are given little time for any R and R- continually shuttled to one orchestrated activity after another. As they put it, “you can’t simply show up and luxuriate at the beach.”