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Ron Radosh

Ronald Radosh is an Adjunct Senior Fellow at The Hudson Institute, and a Prof. Emeritus of History at the City University of New York. He is the author or co-author of 14 books.
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Jeffrey Herf Writes the President of Brandeis

Friday, April 11th, 2014 - by Ron Radosh

My friend Jeffrey Herf, a brilliant historian and prize-winning author, has written a most powerful letter to the president or Brandeis University. He writes the following:

 I have had occasion to address the role of Islam and Islamism in fanning the flames of Jew-hatred. In publishing work that documents the role of the Islamist interpretation of the Koran in promulgating the most absurd and idiotic ideas about the Jews, I have faced intolerance from scholars working on the Middle East. They have denounced well-founded scholarship as “Islamophobia” or “Zionist propaganda” and denied that the Koran or Islamism could possibly have anything to do with anti-Semitism. Like Tony Kushner and Desmond Tutu, to whom Brandeis has given honorary degrees, they have erroneously argued that Arab and Islamist antagonism to Israel is exclusively the result of the alleged sins of Israel. As far as I know, neither has had anything of substance to say about the role of Islam and Islamism in fanning the flames of hatred of the Jews and of Israel. These critics have said that those of us who point to the anti-Jewish elements of the Koran and the Jew-hatred of modern Islamists are guilty of intolerance towards Muslims. I have seen this up close for years now. The last place I expected to find groveling, embarrassing appeasement of this rubbish was from the president of Brandeis University.

Read his entire letter at The Weekly Standard.

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The Nation Runs an Essential Story about Communist totalitarianism in Bulgaria

Thursday, March 27th, 2014 - by Ron Radosh

No, dear readers. I haven’t lost my mind. I’m recommending an excellent article, believe it or not, in The Nation magazine. The relatively new book review editor has chosen to make his lead review a discussion of the late Georgi Markov, assassinated by the KGB in London, and to use the pages to have Dimiter Kenarov tell his story. Called “A Capitaving Mind,” a take-off on the famous 1953 book by the late  Czech author Czeslaw Milosz, Kenarov reveals the nature of totalitarianism in the Soviet controlled “People’s Republic” in the post-Stalinist era Bulgaria.

Bulgaria was, he writes, a society of controlled totalitarian mediocrity:

 Faced with arbitrary conditions, artificial norms of production demanded by the Soviet-style command economy, comprehensive low pay, and the negative example of an incompetent party elite openly skimming off the state, ordinary Bulgarians were only too quick to learn the proper lessons.

Unfortunately, he writes that post-Communist Bulgaria, still controlled by the old apparatchiks who seized once state property and made themselves rich running the factories and businesses, the Stalinist past has been covered up, and regular citizens do not know why and how Bulgaria was under the control of the Soviet Union.  He also reveals how Markov was killed by the state security services in London. This is a compelling story everyone should read.

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Scott Walker: The Candidate who Can Reunite the GOP

Monday, December 2nd, 2013 - by Ron Radosh

At The New Republic,  Nate Cohn makes the case that of all GOP potential candidates for the presidency in 2016, only Scott Walker has the ability to unite all the factions in the current conservative movement:

There’s another potentially unifying mainline conservative, though, and he lurks in Madison. Scott Walker, the battle-hardened governor of Wisconsin, is the candidate that the factional candidates should fear. Not only does he seem poised to run—he released a book last week—but he possesses the tools and positions necessary to unite the traditional Republican coalition and marginalize its discontents.

Walker has the irreproachable conservative credentials necessary to appease the Tea Party, and he speaks the language of the religious right. But he has the tone, temperament, and record of a capable and responsible establishment figure. That, combined with Walker’s record as a reformist union-buster, will appeal to the party’s donor base and appease the influential business wing. Walker’s experience as an effective but conservative blue state governor makes him a credible presidential candidate, not just a vessel for the conservative message.

Remember, you read a similar assessment of Walker’s potential here last week! PJ Media gets you the news earlier and keeps you abreast of what’s important.

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The Tea Party and Alger Hiss

Monday, November 4th, 2013 - by Ron Radosh

A few days ago, Cass Sunstein wrote an article about how Alger Hiss explained the Tea Party. It was a foolish article, and now, Walter Russell Mead responds to it in an essential rebuttal, ”Is the Tea Party  Really All About Alger Hiss?” 

Calling the Tea Party “a huge intellectual problem for blue model liberals,” he first shows how despite all the obituaries, “it remains a significant force,” unlike its opposite, the short lived left-wing Occupy movement. The reasons for the Tea Party’s success, he writes, is not because there is a “right-leaning populist surge today because of Alger Hiss.” Rather, it is because “many Americans believe that President Obama’s liberal and technocratic agenda represents a threat to a way of life they value,” and because they blame “the establishment of both parties for the financial crisis and for the vast transfer of resources to the wealthy that came after the crash.”

As for how liberals view the world, Mead writes, “After decades of vicious invective and bile-spewing, liberals find the whole His subject dull and don’t want to think about the case anymore- but they just hate it when other people don’t appreciate their selfless dedication to the public good.” During the so-called Joe McCarthy era, he adds, “anti-Communist hysteria (as opposed to necessary anti-Communist vigilance) must be laid at the door of the vain and feckless liberals who let the country down in a critical time.”

Mead has helped us to see how they are still at their old tricks.

 

 

 

 

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What Awaits Edward Snowden in Venezuela

Friday, July 12th, 2013 - by Ron Radosh

In today’s Foreign Policy, a wonderful article appears, written by Peter Wilson, an journalist who lives in that country and has covered it through the Chavez era.  As Wilson reveals, what awaits Edward Snowden, should he actually ever arrive in that nation, is anything but a joyous time. Indeed, one might argue that if he does get exile there, he could be in a living hell—almost as bad as living in an American prison. As Wilson writes:

It’s true that many Venezuelans here admire you for blowing the whistle on clandestine U.S. espionage programs. But think twice before pulling a stunt like that here. We have our own version of the surveillance state, but the government’s opponents say that it’s more typically Cuban “advisors” who are listening in on calls through the state telephone company and the armed forces.

Try to mess with Cuban state security, ever vigilant in its service to Nicholas Maduro, and you will quickly find what living in a real totalitarian society is like. Here is what is likely going to befall you, should you decide to be a whistle-blower- to use the term you and your advocates use for what you did to our country- and this is what will become of your government job and largesse:

Don’t worry; you’ll be able to find a copy of the Guardian in Caracas. And yes, we still have a free press, even though the government has a habit of shutting down television and radio stations when they get too critical. Open dissent has its dangers. Just ask the 2.4 million Venezuelans who signed a recall petition against Chávez in 2004. Thousands lost their government jobs and are still barred — nine years later — from reapplying for state work. That’s what you get for just speaking out against the government here…

So I doff my hat to Peter Wilson, for so wonderfully describing the Venezuela Mr. Snowden seeks to move to. Good luck, Ed, you’ll need it!

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In Vanity Fair, Kurt Eichenwald Shows why Edward Snowden is no Hero

Thursday, June 27th, 2013 - by Ron Radosh

If you think that Edward Snowden is a hero, a man who is devoted to preventing an assault on our civil liberties by the omniscient and oppressive state, think again.

If you are among those on both the Left and the libertarian and paleo-conservative Right who think there are no legitimate national security interests at stake, and that Snowden has not harmed the United States, think again.

Before you reach a final conclusion, read this important article in Vanity Fair by Kurt Eichenwald, “The Errors of Edward Snowden and His Global Hypocrisy Tour.” As Eichenwald writes:

To hunt for needles, the N.S.A. needs a global haystack that can be used for data mining. That is what the data collection is all about; no one has any interest in listening in on innocuous calls or reading pointless e-mails. This is all about using computers—massive, massive computers—and using complex models and algorithms to find the needles, rather than hoping to guess how to keep Americans safe, just in case the Ed Snowdens of the world might get upset with more intelligent approaches.

Which brings us back to Snowden’s global hypocrisy tour. I think nothing has more thoroughly damaged Snowden’s “whistle-blower” persona than his bizarre—and, I would say, cowardly—decision to rely on some of the countries with the greatest history of oppression to help keep him out of the Americans’ hands. (Usually, when people engage in civil disobedience for a cause—which Snowden seems to want people to believe he is doing—they accept the punishment that will accompany their decision. Snowden, instead, has acted like a spy, fleeing to countries with deeply strained relationships with the United States.

Thank goodness, the author says, that Snowden was not around on the eve of World War II. Read his article to find out why.

Eichenwald knows his stuff. Let’s not make Snowden a hero- a status he does not deserve- before learning about what is really at stake and how he might have harmed our security by the desperate actions he has taken.

 

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Still Guilty After All these Years: 60th Anniversary of the Execution of the Rosenbergs

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 - by Ron Radosh

Sixty years ago tonight, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for “conspiracy to commit espionage,” not “treason,” as some press reports said this week.  Last year, I wrote a thorough report for Tablet Magazine on the issues in the case, bringing all we know up to date.

I made this point at the start of the article, referring to the arguments of all those on the Left who believe they were innocent, and were victims of a political witch-hunt:

The truth is that for those who accept evidence and reason, the debate should be over. Beginning with the first release in 1995 of the Venona decrypts of KGB messages to their agents in the United States, it became clear to even the most resolute doubters not only that Julius Rosenberg was a KGB agent who put together and ran an espionage ring made up of college friends who had become engineers or scientists but that his wife, Ethel, knew of and supported his activities. So, the question must be asked: Why did so many ignore the plain evidence of the Rosenbergs’ guilt? And why do so many continue to argue that the Rosenbergs were framed by the U.S. government?

Last Sunday, their dwindling band of supporters, led by Angela Davis and actress and “Vagina Monologue” playwright Eve Ensler, had their annual tribute at New York’s Town Hall. As long as people like these continue to spread their lies, it is our responsibility to remind everyone of the truth, and to counter their propaganda.

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James Kirchick Exposes the Truth about Ron Paul’s Dangerous New Institute

Thursday, April 25th, 2013 - by Ron Radosh

At The Daily Beast today, journalist Jamie Kirchick- the man who a few years ago exposed Ron Paul’s Newsletters- now takes on the nature of those who make up Ron Paul’s new Institute. The think tank, it turns out, is made up of an assortment of anti-Semites, anti-Americans, supporters of authoritarian Balkan regimes, opponents of America’s first “tyrant,” none other than Abraham Lincoln, 9/11 truthers, and proponents of the most bizarre conspiracy theories imaginable.

The group claims to be in favor of non-intervention. As Kirchick points out, “There is nothing inherently wrong with noninterventionism. It goes astray, however, when its adherents—in order to justify their belief that the U.S. should effectively not have a foreign policy—whitewash authoritarians abroad.” And that is precisely what they do, and key members of the group back a motley group, including Hugo Chavez’s chosen successor in Venezuela, Lukahsenko in Belarus, and of course, they favored the late Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic, whom they argued was not guilty of war crimes. Claiming to also be libertarians, Kirchick points out,  these “ so-called libertarians are defending nationalist politicians who never hesitate to use the full powers of the state in quashing the personal freedoms of their citizenry.”

He sums up their anti-government extremism in the following paragraph:

In the Ron Paul Institute, we see a group of people supposedly prioritizing limited government and personal freedom shilling on behalf of regimes which have actually implemented the very sort of surveillance state policies these civil liberties obsessives routinely cry are being imposed on unsuspecting Americans by Democratic and Republican politicians alike.

Read his entire article, and send it around to anyone who know who thinks Ron Paul has something important to say.

 

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Oliver Stone’s TV Series on Showtime–Dissected Before an Audience of its Fans

Friday, April 5th, 2013 - by Ron Radosh

At the Popular Culture Association conference one week ago, historian Richard Raack and I  dissected the Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick video series on Showtime. In his article at Accuracy in Media’s website you will find his introductory essay and the video of the session.

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A Major Take-Down of Howard Zinn by David Greenberg in TNR. Don’t Miss it!

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013 - by Ron Radosh

In The New Republic Online today, the magazine has finally posted David Greenberg’s major take-down of both radical historian Howard Zinn, and of Zinn’s biographer, Martin Duberman. The influence of Howard Zinn on the culture and of our country’s understanding of the past cannot be overstated. As Greenberg points out, Zinn’s book has sold millions of copies, and each year, more and more students in high schools and colleges are assigned his “People’s History” as a text.

Greenberg writes:

Zinn reduced historical analysis to political opinion. He assessed a work of history by its author’s partisan loyalties, not its arguments about causation, influence, motivation, significance, experience, or other problems he deemed “technical” in nature…. the fatal flaw of Zinn’s historical work is the shallowness, indeed the fallaciousness, of his critique of scholarly detachment. Zinn rests satisfied with what strikes him as the scandalous revelation that claims of objectivity often mask ideological predilections. Imagine! And on the basis of this sophomoric insight, he renounces the ideals of objectivity and empirical responsibility, and makes the dubious leap to the notion that a historian need only lay his ideological cards on the table and tell whatever history he chooses.

Later towards his conclusion, Greenberg says:

Zinn’s position wormed its way into the thinking of generations of graduate students, and it is distressingly easy today to find tendentious scholarship that exhibits a Zinn-like habit of judging historical acts and actors by their contemporary utility. As much as radical history contributed invaluable new arguments and perspectives to historical scholarship, it has also left an unhappy legacy of confusing or commingling political and scholarly goals. At its most egregious, this confusion takes the form of polemical potboilers such as Zinn’s or, worse, propagandistic screeds such as Peter Kuznick’s and Oliver Stone’s The Untold History of the United States.

Read the entire article. Kudos to David Greenberg, an honest and fearless liberal historian, for penning this important critique.

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Is “The New Republic” Firing its Jewish Editors? The “Washington Free Beacon” Gets it Wrong

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013 - by Ron Radosh

The Washington Free Beacon carries a story today about The New Republic, titled “Hughes Drops Jews.”  The implication by an unnamed staff writer is rather silly and misguided. The piece argues the following:

The New Republic has quietly dropped at least five prominent Jewish writers from its masthead in a move that may signal the publication’s continued drift away from a staunchly pro-Israel standpoint.

The group, the story continues,  is made up of “Daily Beast reporter Eli Lake, longtime TNR columnist James Kirchick, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, and onetime senior editor Lawrence Kaplan. Complicating the picture, former TNR editor Peter Beinart was also dropped from the masthead. Beinart is the publisher of Open Zion, an anti-Zionist Daily Beast blog sponsored by the New America Foundation.”

The only problem with the argument is, as the article notes later on, is that seven others were dropped as well, a group made up of “Gregg Easterbrook, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Jeremy McCarter, Maggie Scarf, R.V. Thaw, Alan Wolfe, and Robert Wright.” (Wolfe is also Jewish, which the author seems not to realize.)

Moreover, on the new redesigned masthead, plenty of those still listed are Jewish, including David A. Bell,  Peter Bergen, Nathan Glazer, Jack Goldsmith, David Greenberg, Yossi Klein Halevi, and Michael Walzer and perhaps a few others as well.

Clearly, with the exception of the excellent writer Paul Berman, who was made a Senior Editor, those let go are the type of so-called Peretz era neo-cons that TNR wants to make clear are no longer welcome in its pages. So it is politics, not religion or ethnic identity, that accounts for those now absent from its “Contributing Editors” list.  And although Peretz by agreement is listed as one of the “Editorial Advisory Board,” he too is persona non grata at the magazine.

As for the absence of Peter Beinart, I suspect that its editors are perturbed at the notoriety and grandstanding by Beinart, and consider him somewhat of an embarrassment, and fully aware that he has his own perch at Newsweek/Daily Beast, and hence they do not need him in their pages, although he once was an editor of the magazine.

Whatever accounts for their dismissal of these people, Chris Hughes has given us all one more reason to skip reading the magazine.

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Why Jews Critical of the President’s Policies on Israel are still Supporting his Re-election

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 - by Ron Radosh

In Tablet Magazine today, Lee Smith offers us a brilliant explanation of why so many Jewsih leaders who have consistently criticized Obama’s views on Israel- including Alan Dershowitz and Mayor Ed Koch- are still supporting the President’s re-election.  Smith calls it “The Alan Dershowitz Syndrome.” They don’t much like the President’s polcies, he argues, but they are concerned that if only Republicans support Israel, then the bi-partisan backing of the Jewish state could erode, and the left-wing opponents of Israel within the Democratic Party would triumph. Smith writes:

Without that broad agreement—that Israel is a valuable strategic partner in a region of vital U.S. interest, and a friend with whom America has shared values and principles—the relationship would be buffeted by all of Washington’s various political winds. By sticking with Obama in spite of all, Dershowitz and others are arguably protecting the bipartisan nature of the relationship, and at an especially vulnerable time.

As Smith writes, “ Accordingly, the old guard seems to believe that while Obama isn’t great for Israel, backing him is good for the health of the party and the Jewish state.” They want, in other words, to put off the time in which only conservatives support Israel, which would mean in effect the end of a nationwide consensus supportive of Israel.

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The Single Best Take on Obama Yet!

Friday, October 26th, 2012 - by Ron Radosh

Do not miss Matt Continetti’s absolutely superb and essential analysis of what makes Obama tick. You’ll find it here. The following paragraph appears towards the end of his essay:

The Obama coalition, piece by piece, has been disassembled. All that remains is the antiwar, anti-Republican core of the Democratic Party. There are more registered Democrats than Republicans, so Obama could still squeak out a second term. But he has forsaken independents and whites, the groups that swung to him definitively and significantly in 2008. He is losing independents, in some polls by double-digits. His opponent Mitt Romney is “winning the white vote by more than any GOP candidate since Ronald Reagan,” according to the Washington Post. If the 2012 electorate resembles the 2008 one, it is possible for Obama to win reelection. But if the electorate turns out to be more like the electorate in 2004 or, God help him, like in 2010, Obama will lose.

So if you want to know a brief history of Obama, who as Continetti writes is unmasked “not as a Kenyan Marxist, but as a thoroughly typical liberal Democrat who believes there is no trouble in the world not created by George W. Bush,” read his entire article. And make sure you pass it on to your liberal and leftist friends!

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A 1979 story by Vernon Jarrett Sheds New Light on possible Arab funding of Obama’s Higher Education

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012 - by Ron Radosh

Journalist Frank Miele, editor of The Daily Interlake, has come up with a tantalizing new bit of information from November 1979, that provides new information about proposed Arab funding of higher education for American blacks, and that substantiates a widely discredited report from a major African-American black political leader, Percy Sutton, who claimed in a TV interview in 2008 that that he was asked by Khalid al-Mansour (aka Donald Warden of The Black Panther Party) to write a letter of recommendation to help Barack Obama get into Harvard Law School.

Miele’s article talks to the issue of how Barack Obama’s college and law school education was funded, whether or not it came from wealthy Saudi money, and whether the proposed money- a fund that would spend “$20 million per year for 10 years to aid 10,000 minority students each year” and presented by al-Mansour to OPEC Secretary-General Rene Ortiz in September of 1979 ever was actually set up.

The shocker in Miele’s article is that the 1979 story was written by none other than Vernon Jarrett- the leftist journalist who was the future father-in-law of Varlerie Jarrett, now Obama’s top advisor. Jarrett, as Miele notes, was “one of the best friends and a colleague of Frank Marshall Davis,” the black Communist who became influential in the life of Barack Obama.  In his article, Jarrett wrote that those receiving these funds would help create a “new black advocacy for a homeland for the Palestinians” and presumably support other Arab interests in the Middle East.

Miele’s find deserves widespread attention. In 2008, Percy Sutton’s claim was denigrated as the ramblings of an old man close to senility, and had no legs. Now, Miele shows that al-Mansour was involved in trying to get Arab money for American blacks in 1979, and it gives new credibility to Sutton’s claim that he was approached by Mansour at the time Obama was trying to get accepted to Harvard Law.

 

 

 

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The Boss Has No Clothes

Friday, August 3rd, 2012 - by Ron Radosh

Finally, at TNR, Bruce Springsteen has received the put-down he has deserved for quite some time, written by the magazine’s long-time literary editor, Leon Wieseltier. The singer-songwriter has recently received two major rave articles, one by Jeffrey Golodberg in The Atlantic, and the other by David Remnick in The New Yorker. In his usual acerbic style, Wieseltier tears apart these two examples of bad journalism. He makes the following point:

David Remnick’s 75,000-word profile of Bruce Springsteen is another one of his contributions to the literature of fandom. Once again there is a derecho of detail and the conventional view of his protagonist, the official legend, is left undisturbed. It could have been written by the record company.

Calling both articles on Springsteen “articulate swoon” and “stenographic journalism,” and later makes the point that “nobody tries harder and less persuasively, to be everyman than Bruce Springsteen.”  Once a fan of Springsteen — I recall a column Wiesltier wrote many decades ago about hearing him in concert for the first time and how exciting he thought it was — he is candid to acknowledge his “musical decline” which includes “the sanctimony, the grandiosity, the utterly formulaic monumentality; the witlessness; the tiresome recycling of those antithetic figures, each time more preposterously distended…” You get the idea.

When it comes to Springsteen’s left-wing politics, Wieseltier does not let Springsteen off the hook:

Nothing has damaged Springsteen’s once-magnificent music more than his decision to become a spokesman for America. He is Howard Zinn with a guitar. The wounded workers in his songs do not have the authenticity of acquaintance; they are pious hackneyed tropes, stereotypical class martyrs from Guthrie and Steinbeck. Springsteen’s sympathy is genuine, but his people are not. His 9/11 and recession songs are bloated editorials: “where’s the promise from sea to shining sea?” His anger that “the banker man grows fat” is too holy: “if I had a gun, I’d find the bastards and shoot ‘em on sight” is not a “liberal insistence.” I prefer Dodd-Frank. The drawl in his voice is a production value, the grit a mannerism. A few minutes with one of Johnny Cash’s last records and it is impossible to take Springsteen’s vernacular seriously. A few minutes with Lucinda Williams (who is perilously close to becoming a prisoner of her own mannerisms) and the costs of preferring sermons to experiences are clear. When was the last time Springsteen wrote a song as moving and true as Alejandro Escovedo’s “Down in the Bowery”?

Or as Dylan once said of Phil Ochs, “You’re not a songwriter, Phil, you’re a journalist.”  In a nice turn, Wiesltier ends his article by turning the to 60′s sage Herbert Marcuse, who was upset that America would not have a revolution, but would “contain its contradictions without resolving them; it will absorb opposition and reward it.” Wieseltier agrees, and  notes that this is “good news, because we will be spared the agonies of political purifications.” And he notes, “protest songs become entertainment for the rich,” and its bard Springsteen “the idol of the elite.”

Kudos to Wieseltier for going against the grain, and for telling the truth about the much heralded so-called boss.

 

 

 

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The One Excellent Post-Mortem on Gore Vidal

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012 - by Ron Radosh

Coming just  10 days after the death of Alex Cockburn, came the literary star of The Nation and New York Review of Books, the vile Gore Vidal.  His life has been celebrated and heralded in scores of obits and articles. The most despicable is of course from The Nation, and the pen of historian Jon Weiner, who concludes that  Vidal “wrote as a citizen of the republic and a critic of the empire. We won’t have another like him.” Thankfully, and now Vidal’s vicious attacks leave only Noam Chomsky as his remaining successor.

But coming to the rescue with a first-rate analysis of Vidal is a real historian, David Greenberg of Rutgers University. Writing in Slate, Greenberg pleads readers to ignore the rosy tributes to Vidal, whom he rightfully calls an elitist who was not on the Left, like Weiner thinks he was, but as a man who “Toward the end of Vidal’s life, … discredited himself even on the left with his embrace of loony ultra-right causes, such as Ruby Ridge, Waco, and eventually Timothy McVeigh, who blew up the Oklahoma City Murrah building in 1995. Vidal feebly tried to justify these indefensible sympathies by pointing to the United States government’s abuses of power.”

I suspect Greenberg hadn’t as yet read Weiner’s praise of Vidal, which of course leaves out most of what Vidal believed and stood for. Greenberg writes:

The Sage of Ravello was an equal-opportunity apologist for terrorists, taking up the obscene theories (which, in an exquisite Orwellism, go by the name “truther”) that the Bush administration was complicit in al-Qaida’s 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Unfortunately, this delusion was excused in some quarters as eccentricity, the confusions of advancing age, or forgivable derangement brought about by the misdeeds of American politicians and policymakers which, one was perhaps supposed to infer, embodied the more proper targets of our censure.

Vidal’s views, Greenberg writes, “were the natural progression of thought in a man whose worldview was fundamentally racist and elitist, motivated by the fear that the reign of his own caste was ending as the walls of aristocratic privilege crumbled in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust.”

That The Nation and NYRB ran his pieces and gave him credibility testifies only to how any critics of what they see as the US Empire will publish anyone who a smart reader knows immediately is beyond the pale is testimony to the shoddy nature of their own world-view.

Any further celebrations of Vidal’s life will now have to contend with that written by Greenberg.

(Thumbnail image of Vidal on Tatler homepage by s_bukley / Shutterstock.com.)

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The Atlantic’s Important Put-Down of Peter Beinart’s ‘Open Zion’

Saturday, July 14th, 2012 - by Ron Radosh

On The Atlantic website today, journalist Armin Rosen has posted an important article about Peter Beinart’s “Open Zion,” which appears daily at the Newsweek/Daily Beast website. Beinart has become the poster boy for an individual who swears he is pro-Israel and pro-Zionist, but whose main contribution is regular criticism of Israel for not affirming the kind of liberalism he thinks it should espouse as national policy.

Recently, Beinart allowed an article to appear on his site by one Alex Kane, a writer for the website Mondoweiss, which Rosen writes “often gives the appearance of an anti-Semitic enterprise.” As Rosen writes, “By vilifying and dehumanizing one side of the conflict, the poison of anti-Semitism makes a constructive, forward-looking discourse far more difficult to achieve.”

Rosen manages in a brief article to expose Phil Weiss, a former writer for the paleocon American Conservative and The Nation (which used to sponsor his website) admits to being a conspiracy theorist who believes in the Israel lobby thesis of Walt and Mearsheimer. One of the articles he exposes that appeared on the Weiss site was one by Jack Ross who actually wrote that “it was not the appeasement, but the internationalist hubris and bellicosity of Chamberlain which started World War II.” You get the drift- the Nazis had nothing to do with it, as Rosen says.

The danger that Beinart does by running material like the Kane article, Rosen points out, is that “by carrying a byline from Mondoweiss, incorporates not just Kane but the Mondoweiss reputation and all of its sordid baggage into its larger conversation.” Beinart thus takes a marginalized relatively unknown far left and anti-Semitic website and its contributors and gives it a legitimacy it does not deserve.

Rosen does not raise another point, but I will. It is time for serious pro-Israel contributors like Benny Morris to stop writing for the site, thereby making themselves the equivalent of someone like Alex Kane and Phil Weiss. They should adopt the position that when it comes to anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers, you do not engage them in conversation, as if they have a point worth debating. Rosen ends with this wise piece of advice:

Publishing anti-Semites, or people who work for websites that traffic in anti-Semitic innuendo or conspiracy theories, empowers ideas aimed at obscuring the humanity of one side of an already-violent conflict. Kane’s inclusion actually undermines Open Zion’s confidence that honest intellectual engagement can contribute to the larger cause of understanding and peace. Instead, it reflects a depressing cynicism about the state of public discourse on the Middle East–a cynicism that believers in peace, and believers in the triumph of ideas over paranoia and bigotry, have both a moral and intellectual duty to reject.

Amen!

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The Backsliding of Democracy in Hungary: An Important Article by James Kirchick

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012 - by Ron Radosh

In Foreign Affairs online today, James Kirchick has an important report about the backsliding of democracy in post-Communist Hungary.  The slim legislative majority attained by the party of P.M. Viktor Orban has dismantled checks and balances, moved to overturn constitutional constraints, and to give the ruling party control of independent institutions, including the media. Once a leading dissident in the Communist era, Kirchick reports how the perks of power have worked to move Orban to the ranks ofthe far nationalist right-wing. “Even the best o fus,” he was told by former US Ambassador to Hungary Mark Palmer, “can be corrupted by power.”

The creation ofwhat the PM callsls a “new, modern right-wing culture” include control of the press, the renewal of anti-Semitism, and praise for Hungary’s quasi-dictator from the 1920′s through 1944, Miklos Horthy. Nationalism, Kirchick writes, “has replaced the pan-Europeanism of the past.” Having lived through Nazism and then Communism, the result is that some peple began “to question the basic precepts of liberalism itself.” In Hungary, like Greece, there is a new rise of both left and right extremism.

Kirchick’s article is a reminder that to create real democracy, defeat of Communism is not enough. As Kirchick sums up: “Fkdesz[the ruling party]has…undermined the spirit of democracy, chilling speech and dissent…Viktor Orban- once the great hope of a united and liberal Europe- has failed the democratic test.”

 

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How the Mainstream Media Ignores Obama’s Communist Mentor

Monday, July 9th, 2012 - by Ron Radosh

At The American Thinker today, Paul Kengor has an important article about how the media, including Obama’s many biographers, have ignored, downplayed the influence of, or failed to identify the politics of Obama’s mentor, the late Frank Marshall Davis, an ardent Stalinist and member of the Communist Party, U.S.A.

Kengor makes the following point in his conclusion, referring to David Maraniss’s best-selling new biography of the President:

And therein is the central liability in David Maraniss’s treatment of Frank Marshall Davis, even given the noteworthy new material he provided. His failures with Davis are symptomatic of his overall failure to deal with Obama’s politically radical past. In this, unfortunately, Maraniss is not alone. He is yet another liberal Obama biographer who has left the vetting to us conservatives — so we can be attacked as Neanderthal McCarthyites, or worse. So be it. Someone needs to do the mainstream media’s job.

To understand Obama, and how he got to where he is today, studying everything about his past is pertinent.  Kudos to Paul Kengor for studying what so many others have shied away from exploring.

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How a Univ. of Chicago Professor Might Have Stopped the Obama Presidential Library and Museum from Coming to the U of C

Thursday, July 5th, 2012 - by Ron Radosh

Last week, Univ. of Chicago Professor Charles Lipson caused a local storm and became a Chicago celebrity, when he conducted an interview with The Chicago Sun-Times, opposing a secret movement to bring the Obama Presidential library and museum to the University of Chicago.  As a result of the news story, Lipson made appearances on both local TV and radio, as well as CNN and the Fox Business Network. The newspaper then ran an editorial endorsing Lipson’s position.

Now, an article in Chicago Magazine  by author Carol Felsenthal provides all the information about the outcome. It is a fascinating article on this outspoken professor, once a liberal Democrat who now has registered as a Republican and intends to vote for Mitt Romney in the presidential election.

Lipson’s objection to the plan to bring the presidential museum to the University is because, as he says, a “celebratory museum” is “inappropriate for our school.” If the project included a think tank and a foundation as well, he argues that it would raise questions about how they got their money, and Lipson fears  that they would have a bias that would “downplay anything that was negative” and might become “a political and ideological arm of whatever president” was being honored.

Most upsetting is that Lipson reveals that Susan Sher, a close friend of Barack Obama and former chief of staff to Michelle Obama, who had worked closely with the First Lady when she was an officer at the University’s Medical Center, was a member of a secret committee established to study whether the Library and Museum should come to the U of C.   Lipson is afraid that the “highest levels” of the University had considered the Library coming to the U of C  a done deal, and hence had appointed a committee that included Sher in its ranks, so as to assure a positive outcome. Lipson considers the committee nothing but a fig leaf that would produce a faculty report favoring bringing the Obama museum to the University.

Lipson was so convincing that the Chicago Sun-Times, that ran his op-ed, then ran an editorial endorsing his position.

U of C liberals are not too happy with him. As Lipson puts it, “there are some people who think I’m crazy.”

Those of us who have fought the battle for real freedom in academia owe Professor Lipson our thanks. He has, possibly, made the Obama Presidential Museum and Library a building that now will not be part of the University of Chicago.

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Was Kirk Douglas Responsible for Breaking the Hollywood Blacklist? Two Authors Reveal the Truth and Destroy a Hollywood Myth

Thursday, July 5th, 2012 - by Ron Radosh

In The Atlantic online, John Meroney and Sean Coons explode yet one more myth about the Hollywood blacklist and the Communists. For many years, the now 95 year old actor has taken credit for singlehandedly ending the blacklist, by hiring the blacklisted  Communist writer Dalton Trumbo to write the script for the film “Spartacus.”

It wasn’t so simple, as Douglas claims in a new book,  I Am Spartacus!: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist, that has an introduction by George Clooney. Meroney and Coons show that in fact, Douglas was rather tepid and behind the times. Now that those who were blacklisted are all viewed as martyrs for civil liberties, they write, “it makes sense that Douglas wants to claim credit for” being the man who slayed the would be dreadful giant.

As the authors write, however, “the facts…are a little difference. In the 1930s and ‘40s, Stalinists seized control of the Screen Writers Guild and after World War II, many of the same operatives controlled and dominated a painters’ union as well as the unions representing readers, cartoonists, publicists and secretaries. They all worked together to pull a violent jurisdictional strike that blew the town apart for a couple of years.”

Not only was Douglas not the man who brought the blacklist of the Communists to the end. His production company secretly employed blacklisted writers, benefiting from “their discounted rates” for writing scripts. He used Trumbo well before Spartacus, it turns out, paying him what Trumbo’s daughter says was “only as a small fraction of what his salary would have been had he not been blacklisted.”

Moreover, they write that “Douglas had to be prodded to act on Trumbo’s behalf.” By that time, a year before the film came out, Otto Preminger had already given Trumbo screen credit for writing his film, Exodus.

So, now that the truth is out, will The Writer’s Guild rescind the 1991 award they gave Douglas for “breaking the blacklist?” Don’t place bets on that happening any day soon.

 

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British Historian David Starkey Takes on a Young British Leftist Journalist — and Demolishes Her!

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012 - by Ron Radosh

Here’s a nice video to make your day. A young British lefty journalist is given her due by her elder, historian David Starkey. Never has a leftist been put down so well! Enjoy:

YouTube Preview Image

 

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For Everything Else, There’s the Marx Card

Saturday, June 16th, 2012 - by Ron Radosh

Here it is folks, and it is not a joke! If you live in Chemnitz, Germany, and bank at the Sparkasse Chemnitz bank, you can get—-a Karl Marx Mastercard!

The Karl Marx credit card.

Read all about it here, and also here. With yet another irony, the Reuters report is written by a journalist based in Poland named Gareth Jones. A reporter by that same name in the 1930’s was one of the truth-tellers about the Soviet Union, and a man who exposed at the time the lies of Walter Duranty. I suspect that this Jones is more than likely a son or grandson of the first Jones, and is carrying on in his namesake’s tradition.

The first story asks readers for appropriate advertising tag-lines for ads for the card. Here are some of the better entries:

From Each According to His Abilities, To Each According to his Needs. For Everything Else, there’s Marx Card.

A spectre is haunting Europe – the spectre of cash back and low, low interest rates.

There are some things money can’t buy, especially if you abolish all private property.

Reach for the Marx Card when you get in the Red.

Double Reward Points for members of the Vanguard Party.

It’s Everywhere you Wan’t to Go but Can’t Due to Internal Travel Restrictions.

When you’re Short of Kapital Use the Marx Card.

When Seizing the Means of Production from the Ruling Class, Use the Marx Card.

When you care enough to use exchange values for the commodified forms of congealed labor power. Plus, now you receive special “Double Irony” points for every use.

Upgrades Available to the Che Guevara Gold Card: Free T-Shirt with every Application.

 

 

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NRO’s Stanley Kurtz Exposes Obama’s Hidden Radical Past

Thursday, June 7th, 2012 - by Ron Radosh

In a major scoop on National Review Online today, Stanley Kurtz has found that Barack Obama, contrary to claims made by his staff and supporters during the 2008 campaign, was a member of the socialist third party in Chicago, that was called The New Party.  Kurtz writes:

In 2008, candidate Obama deceived the American public about his potentially damaging tie to this third party. The issue remains as fresh as today’s headlines, as Romney argues that Obama is trying to move the United States toward European-style social democracy, which was precisely the New Party’s goal.

The New Party was a self-proclaimed socialist organization, the arm of Illinois ACORN, and an affiliate of Michael Harrington’s Democratic Socialists of America, which also supported the party. As Kurtz explains:

The documents reveal that the New Party’s central aim was to move the United States steadily closer to European social democracy, a goal that Mitt Romney has also attributed to Obama. New Party leaders disdained mainstream Democrats, considering them tools of business, and promised instead to create a partnership between electedofficials and local community organizations, with the goal of socializing the American economy to an unprecedented degree.

Kurtz’s outstanding research reveals that Obama and his campaign staff carefully worked to hide his own radical past, and his own now documented socialist views.  Now that the truth has been disclosed, will the MSM let its readers learn about it? The answer is obvious: getting out the truth is up to us.

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What do the Egyptian Elections Mean? Judith Miller’s First-Rate Analysis

Sunday, May 27th, 2012 - by Ron Radosh

Judith Miller, writing on the Fox News website, offers one of the best evaluations I’ve seen on the meaning of the Egyptian presidential elections. Miller is a top journalist and her report is filed from Cairo. Read it here.  The following paragraph posits the different candidates’ differences:

The two candidates who won the largest number of votes and now face a run-off in mid-June represent two traditional power centers that have battled each other for decades – ousted President Hosni Mubarak’s once omnipotent “secular” security regime that has ruled Egypt since 1952, and the Muslim Brotherhood, the 84-year-old organization that has struggled under-and-above ground to turn Egypt into an Islamic state.

Here is her conclusion, but read the whole article:

Analysts said that the coming weeks would see deals and rumors of deals allegedly made between the two competitors and those whose support each was seeking.  Maged Atef, a politically well-connected tour guide who helped several foreign journalists cover the elections, called the outcome of the presidential contest’s first round ironic. “With the country split roughly evenly between those who support the Brotherhood and those who support the feloul, or left-overs of the old regime,” he said, “those who despise both candidates– who would like to vote for ‘none of the above’ as president– may well wind up deciding which of the men they love to hate wins.”

 

 

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The Nation Magazine’s Favorite old Stalinists

Friday, March 30th, 2012 - by Ron Radosh

At The American Spectator, Paul Kengor has a first rate analysis of some of the top 50 “progressives” picked by The Nation magazine’s judge on the matter, Peter Dreier, who teaches at Occidental College.  The list includes two entries that are quite revealing about some who supposedly are called progressives. One was a secret Communist, the African-American baritone Paul Robeson, who if when he was alive anyone called him a Communist, he and his son Paul Jr. quickly responded that they were Red-baiting. The other is the late journalist I.F. Stone, who for a short time in his early years in journalism, was very close to joining the American C.P., and who signed up with the Soviet intelligence agency, then called the NKVD, back in 1938. Yet another was the advocate of birth control and eugenics, Margaret Sanger, who like the others, simply loved the land of Stalin.

“Progressives” really should think about what past figures they herald, or- do they really see these folks as role models?

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Exposing “The Global March to Jerusalem”

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012 - by Ron Radosh

At Jewish Ideas Daily, Alex Joffe dissects and exposes the so-called “Global March to Jerusalem,” funded in part by Iran and which includes the usual group of suspects—American leftists including Cornel West, Noam Chomsky and the leaders of Code Pink. And let us not forget Rev. Jeremiah Wright, of whom we have not heard much since the 2008 campaign. Read Joffe’s article and pass it around, so that when the violence takes place on March 30 in Jerusalem, which they of course say they do not want, you will know in advance what groups are responsible for it, and what their actual agenda is.

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The AIPAC Political Panel: Four Discussants Challenge Each other

Sunday, March 4th, 2012 - by Ron Radosh

Evening plenary: Below are practically verbatim summaries of what the following panelists are saying in today’s last session about American politics today..

Bill Kristol,

Donna Brazile

Mike Murphy

Paul Begala

Frank Sesno, moderator

Mike Murphy says Tuesday is going to be big. Sees surge for Romney in Virginia. Vermont, Mass., Idaho will be won by Romney. Ohio is close margin of error. Tennessee will be big.  Next Alabama and Mississippi. He thinks Romney could win Tennessee.

Donna Brazile: Says Romney will get enough delegates to be winner. Romney only has fifteen percent of delegates needed. By Tuesday night Romney will see about 280 but needs much more.

Bill Kristol:  headlines depend on Ohio. Romney is a weak front-runner. Foolish to say it was inevitable. It was a foolish message to give the voters. Thinks Romney will be in front but will be Santorum and Romney fighting it out. He doesn’t think this is the best Republican Party can get and hopes for another candidate.

Paul Begala: Says Romney is strongest candidate in a weak field. President can be beat but it’s a 50-50 deal. Says many Republicans are crazy and Santorum came out against college sex and JFK, a “holy trinity in my family.”

Kristol: Says will be a normal ticket and Republicans need a candidate that can reach regular middle-class America.

Brazile says Gingrich can’t win because  he can’t pick up enough although he can win 76 delegates in Georgia and he should pack it up and endorse Romney. Says that Republican turnout is down by double digits in many states and many don’t seem excited about their candidates.

Begala: ideological primary. Michael Moore would get one out of 5 votes in Democratic primary.

What are prospects of brokered convention? Begala: delegates chosen and instructed whom to vote for. If they can vote for what they want it could be madness. Thinks more likely for Romney scrambling to get last 100 if he loses Ohio. Could win a district in Georgia and then some in Illinois.

Begala says that Romney has been pushed to far Right by primaries and will lose Latinos and women’s vote as a result. Kristol disagrees — says Obama has only gained a few points against the Republican nominees.  Says he has changed position to placate extremes in party and stuck with his positions and can’t move away from them later.

What about Obama? Sesno says isn’t his fate tied to unemployment rate? Murphy says independent vote is all over the place. Will they stick to Obama or the other way towards the Republicans? Murphy thinks they have the time to get them back. They are hard to predict because they make a 45 degree switch in a few years. It will be a referendum on the economy which gives Republicans an excellent chance to beat Obama.

Brazile: Economy is improving; Obama has great organization in battle ground states, and Republicans can’t match it. Stronger as economy grows better.  She feels good about his prospects.

Kristol: politics is now volatile more than before and you can’t predict things. Huge swings on both sides more than past 80 years.

How will Obama’s claims about foreign policy play? Brazile says he has done “phenomenal job in defense and foreign policy.” Murphy says it could suddenly count. Kristol says depends on outcome of Iran crisis and others. Will it be seen as failure of US to act if things don’t work out?

Begala says it isn’t in the bag for president, but he can show he’s a leader and got Bin Laden. Murphy says election isn’t about the past but the future and will someone else be better and it will be a close election.

They don’t think Middle East will be a big issue, unless Iran becomes a big issue in the middle of the campaign. Kristol: Is US stronger than four years ago? What happens in the world is crucial. Brazile says she would tell the president to stick to the issues and how he handled things. Says AIPAC speech was “unequivocal and strong.”

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Will Israel Invade Iran? Bergman vs. Rubin

Thursday, January 26th, 2012 - by Ron Radosh

In this coming Sunday’s New York Times Magazine, the Israeli journalist  Ronan Bergman does a first rate job of reporting—based on interviews with virtually every major player in Israel’s government and intelligence community—on the question of what, if anything, Israel can do about Iran acquiring a nuclear bomb.  Here is what he says on how Israelis perceive the position of the Obama administration:

For their part, the Israelis suspect that the Obama administration has abandoned any aggressive strategy that would ensure the prevention of a nuclear Iran and is merely playing a game of words to appease them. The Israelis find evidence of this in the shift in language used by the administration, from “threshold prevention” — meaning American resolve to stop Iran from having a nuclear-energy program that could allow for the ability to create weapons — to “weapons prevention,” which means the conditions can exist, but there is an American commitment to stop Iran from assembling an actual bomb.

“I fail to grasp the Americans’ logic,” a senior Israeli intelligence source told me. “If someone says we’ll stop them from getting there by praying for more glitches in the centrifuges, I understand. If someone says we must attack soon to stop them, I get it. But if someone says we’ll stop them after they are already there, that I do not understand.”

On the big question, he concludes with the following paragraph:

After speaking with many senior Israeli leaders and chiefs of the military and the intelligence, I have come to believe that Israel will indeed strike Iran in 2012. Perhaps in the small and ever-diminishing window that is left, the United States will choose to intervene after all, but here, from the Israeli perspective, there is not much hope for that. Instead there is that peculiar Israeli mixture of fear — rooted in the sense that Israel is dependent on the tacit support of other nations to survive — and tenacity, the fierce conviction, right or wrong, that only the Israelis can ultimately defend themselves.

Bergman’s piece dovetails in many respects with the contrary argument of our colleague Barry Rubin, who writes in PJMedia today with a conclusion precisely the opposite of Bergman:

Iran will get nuclear weapons. Iran is not going to stop its nuclear drive (though it could stop short of actually building bombs or warheads ready to go). Western policies are not so bold or adventurous as to go to war; Israel’s interests and capabilities do not make attacking sensible. An attack would not solve but increase problems. And no matter how crazy you think Iran’s regime is, the inescapable predicable threat is not high enough to force policymakers to risk getting hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people killed, when the chance of avoiding such an outcome is very high.

So who is right? We report: You decide.

 

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The Unknown Truth About Arthur Miller’s Communist Past

Thursday, January 12th, 2012 - by Ron Radosh

At Tablet Magazine, writer Ron Capshaw has a terrific article on the secret life of playwright Arthur Miller as a Communist Party writer. Capshaw reaches this conclusion about Miller:

In his testimony before the HUAC, Miller stated that he “had never been under Communist discipline.” But his behavior as Wayne and then as Miller shows otherwise. As Wayne, he followed the Browder phase of perestrokia in literature. When the tide shifted away, Miller followed the Fosterite policy that the only good literature was the politically correct kind. Miller was not only a party member, he was also an obedient one, who was willing to submerge his own ideas of good literature and politics to the shifting vagaries of the party line.

Read Capshaw’s article that tells a long suppressed truth about the man many consider our nation’s greatest realist playwright. Miller’s fans at The Nation magazine won’t know what hit them.

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James Kirchick’s Important Take-Down of Ron Paul: Spread it Wide and Far

Thursday, December 29th, 2011 - by Ron Radosh

In today’s extra opinion pages—I believe only on the New York Times web page—James Kirchick dissects and takes down Ron Paul, better than any other commentator has done. The man who is responsible for finding Paul’s newsletters in 2008, and updating his findings a few weeks ago, Kirchick now ties together his findings in a dazzling put-down of the would-be libertarian.

Here is one of his main findings and conclusions:

As Paul told The Times last week, he has no interest in dissuading the various extremists from backing his campaign, which is hardly surprising considering he’s spent three decades cultivating their support. Paul’s shady associations are hardly “bygone” and the “facts” of his dangerous conspiracy-mongering are very much “in evidence.” Paul has not just marinated in a stew of far-right paranoia; he is one of the chefs.

Paul will not be the Republican nominee.  But the gathering attention and momentum might lead Paul to believe he should run as a third-party candidate in 2012, either on the Libertarian Party or some other ticket. If Paul does that, his candidacy could throw the election to Barack Obama.

It is disgraceful enough that voters in a major party’s caucus would even consider the candidacy of Ron Paul. Kirchick shows us why, and his article should be widely distributed.

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Panetta: Iran Will Not Be Allowed to Have the Bomb!

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011 - by Ron Radosh

At 60 Minutes, CBS News reporter Scott Pelley interviewed Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who makes it crystal clear that the United States will not allow Iran to develop a nuclear bomb.

Read the transcript, and above all, watch the video of the interview, so you can hear Panetta’s tone and watch his body language. This is not faking it for the purpose of grandstanding. Especially read this paragraph, in which Panetta announces our “common concern” with Israel:

Pelley: If the Israelis decide to launch a military strike to prevent that weapon from being built, what sort of complications does that raise for you?

 Panetta: Well, we share the same common concern. The United States does not want Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. That’s a red line for us and that’s a red line, obviously, for the Israelis. If we have to do it we will deal with it.

So the question arises: Will the Obama administration bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities before the 2012 election? If they do, will that mean no matter what other issues there are, Obama will win the presidency? If the administration does bomb Iran, conservatives and neo-conservatives will applaud the action (Except Ron Paul and his acolyte Andrew Sullivan) and the Left and liberals will denounce it. Hence, the outcome of the 2012 race will be more uncertain.

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Is Our President a Plagiarist? Here are the Facts: You Decide

Friday, September 9th, 2011 - by Ron Radosh

Writing at the website “FutureofCapitalism.com,” former New York Sun vice-president and managing editor Ira Stoll, who is also author of a biography of Sam Adams, thought something sounded very familiar when he listened to President Barack Obama’s speech last night. Stoll had been reading the new book by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum, That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back. What Stoll found is that a paragraph in the president’s speech was taken directly from their new book, without attribution.

Stoll gives his blog the title “Presidential Plagiarist?” The title has a question mark, because as you can see, it is actually a scaled down précis of the paragraph written by Friedman and Mandelbaum. Anyone can see,  however, that it is taken directly from their book. Usually, when a writer or speechmaker does this, he has a phrase that would say “as the authors of a new book have pointed out…” to make it clear that the information is not the speaker’s insight. I recall in the ’80s listening to a Reagan speech on television about Nicaragua, in which he attributed an insight to an article by my friend Robert Leiken that had appeared in an op-ed column a few days earlier.

So you decide whether or not this is a case of plagiarism. Here is what Ira Stoll writes:

“There are plenty of other points to make about President Obama’s speech on jobs, but one thing that leaped right out at me was how one section was lifted, without any credit, from Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum’s new book That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back.”

Here is Mr. Obama:

“We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union. But in the middle of a Civil War, he was also a leader who looked to the future – a Republican president who mobilized government to build the transcontinental railroad; launch the National Academy of Sciences; and set up the first land grant colleges.”

Here are Messrs. Friedman and Mandelbaum, on pages 37 to 38:

“Abraham Lincoln is best known, of course, for presiding over the federal government during the Civil War, but during that conflict his administration passed several landmark pieces of legislation that spurred America’s transition from an agrarian to an industrial society. One was the Homestead Act of 1862, which opened up the West for settlement by anyone who had not fought against the Union. Another was the Pacific Railway Acts of 1862 and 1864, which connected the eastern to the western part of the country and so laid the basis for a truly national economy. A third was the Morrill Act of 1862, which established a system of land-grant colleges, giving rise to institutions of higher education from Georgia to Californian and from Minnesota to Texas. …Lincoln signed the National Academy of Sciences into being on March 3, 1863, to bring together America’s best researchers to ‘investigate, examine, experiment, and report upon any subject of science or art’ whenever called upon to do so by any department of the government. Remarkably, all of this happened while we were fighting a civil war.”

Next time, the president’s speechwriters should be more careful or more honest. Or do they want their boss to be known as the plagiarist-in-chief?

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Two Not-to-Miss Articles from Peter Berkowitz and Fred Siegel and Sol Stern!

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 - by Ron Radosh

Two very important articles have appeared today. The first should be read by every Republican candidate, and every conservative who is involved in politics. In today’s Wall Street Journal, the Hoover Institute’s Peter Berkowitz writes about the need to compromise in politics, while remaining true to core principles. Contrary to Rush Limbaugh, who argues that those who compromise are “losers,” Berkowitz argues that “The notion of conservative purity is a myth. The great mission of American conservatism—securing the conditions under which liberty flourishes—has always depended on the weaving together of imperfectly compatible principles and applying them to an evolving and elusive political landscape.”

While everyone claims to be a Reaganite, Berkowitz shows how Reagan, still the no.1 conservative President in our recent past, often offered “strong words but restrained action.” This is practicing politics as the art of the possible, not as a sport in which one simply wins or loses. That means, as Rep. Paul Ryan acknowledges, maintaining a strong social safety net—not running on the dismantling of Social Security.

Berkowitz’s title says it all: “The Myth of Conservative Purity.”

The other essential article appears at The City Journal website, and is co-authored by Fred Siegel and Sol Stern. Titled “Naming the 9/11 Enemy,” Siegel and Stern argue that the coming 9/11 anniversary should be used to “reflect on the source of most terrorism today: revolutionary Islamism.”  The problem, they point out, is that “Americans have shied away from the implications of the historic struggle between the West and the political cultures that produced jihadism for 1,000 years before the United States was created.”

Instead, we deny facing the mindset of those who are Islamists, and who believe in a fanatical ideology which is quite different than that of the Soviets in the old era of the Cold War. The leaders of the old Soviet Union had a reason to want to avoid the physical destruction of their country, while Islam, the authors write, “is not a ‘secular religion’ as was Communism, but a religion recognized as legitimate by the Prophet’s devotees. Believers will not be persuaded by criticism, like that directed at the Soviets, about the failure to deliver material prosperity.”

They warn that we cannot view the Islamic world through our own terms, but we must take it on theirs. So heed their conclusion:

A timeless, extremist ideology based on a holy text; true believers’ resentment of the West; the easy availability of powerful weaponry to networked warriors—these realities will keep Americans guarding the ramparts for decades to come.

 

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The FBI Releases the “Operation Solo” Files—Showing us more Truth about American Communism

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011 - by Ron Radosh

Did anyone ever have any doubt that during its heyday and throughout the Cold War, the American Communist Party, or C.P.U.S.A., was anything but a vehicle controlled lock, stock and barrel by the Soviet Union and its Politburo? Now, the FBI has released the first in a long series of previously classified material—-that of the so-called Operation Solo effort.

SOLO referred to the secret recruitment of two bitter ex-Communists, Morris and Jack Childs. The Bureau urged them to rejoin the Party, and work within its ranks to feed information to them. Before long, Morris Childs became what in effect was the CP’s Secretary of State, traveling around the world to meet top Communist leaders, including those of both the Soviet Union and China. From his perch, he passed on to the U.S. Government all he learned first hand from Moscow’s top leaders.

You can find all of the releases here. They contain many gems. One of my favorites concerns the orders from one of the chiefs of the Soviet Politburo, Mikhail Suslov, who tells the comrades that the Party has to give up its thesis that American blacks composed a separate nation and had to fight for the right of self-determination for its majority in the black belt of the South. Suslov, who under Brezhnev would become the chief ideologue of Moscow, told them they cannot make policy based on 30 year old Comintern directives, at a time when American blacks lived in urban areas and were fighting for civil rights and desegregation. He gave them the go ahead to get involved in the freedom movement that was then beginning to emerge, and join its fight in order to try and give it direction.

Read the releases for yourself. You will find more proof that in the old Cold War days, it was the anti-Communists who were right, and not their legion of apologists.

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