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Posts Tagged ‘Ron Radosh’

Putin’s pathetic dupes on the Right and Left

by Mojambo ( 61 Comments › )
Filed under Cold War, Communism, Fascism, History, Marxism, Nazism, Politics, Progressives, Russia, Socialism, Tranzis, World War II at March 18th, 2014 - 7:00 am

Back in 1938 the folks on the right moaned and groaned about “the injustices of “Versailles and that Germany had a right to the Sudetenland because of all the Germans who lived there (despite the fact that the Sudetenland had never been a part of Germany)  and to force an Anschluss with Austria. The Left (including people who think jsut like Stephen Cohen) in the meantime  denied there was any starvation in the Ukraine, that the purge trials were justified, and that the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was a righteous one. The honeymoon between Right and Left lasted until Sunday morning June 22, 1941. People like Pat Buchanan will support any tyrant as long as that tyrant justifies his tyranny in terms of religion and “traditional values”.

by Ron Radosh

We live in strange times. The Cold War is over, yet when it comes to Russia seeking to maintain its control of Ukraine, a new group of apologists for Vladimir Putin has emerged. Once again, the group in the West supporting the hegemonic attempts of control of Ukraine by the authoritarian Putin regime is made up of stalwarts on both the Right and the Left.

Support for Putin on the Right comes from the paleoconservatives led by Pat Buchanan, the editors of The American Conservative, and the writers for the website Anti-war.com. The entire group comes from the precincts of what historians call the Old Right, a phenomenon that harks back to the old isolationism of pre World War II conservatives and the large group they organized, the America First Committee.  Their motivations have been succinctly summarized by James Kirchick.

A new concern has been added to the traditional non-interventionist trope. They are favorable to much of Putin’s growing domestic positions on issues such as the growing repression of gays in Russia, actions which they also look kindly upon and wish were social policy in the United States. Opposition to gay rights is combined with support for Putin’s attempt to build what he calls a Christian Russia, and concern for what Buchanan sees as something greatly lacking in the secular United States.  In his book Suicide of a Superpower, Buchanan titled two chapters “The End of White America” and “The Death of Christian America.” He seems to be saying, “If only we had a leader in the United States with the vision of Vladimir Putin.” Indeed, he asked in one column, “Is Putin One of Us?” His answer, as you have undoubtedly guessed, is yes:

Nor is [Putin] without an argument when we reflect on America’s embrace of abortion on demand, homosexual marriage, pornography, promiscuity, and the whole panoply of Hollywood values.

Our grandparents would not recognize the America in which we live.

Moreover, Putin asserts, the new immorality has been imposed undemocratically.

The “destruction of traditional values” in these countries, he said, comes “from the top” and is “inherently undemocratic because it is based on abstract ideas and runs counter to the will of the majority of people.”

Does he not have a point?

As he bluntly says, America is not the nation “we grew up in,” and Putin sees Americans as “pagan and wildly progressive,” a statement with which Buchanan obviously agrees.

On the Left, leading the charge that the neo-cons are again trying to push us into war — a charge they assert whenever anyone makes an analysis with which they do not agree — is The Nation magazine and its writers and editors. And the number-one supporter and apologist for Putin is the historian of modern Russia, Stephen Cohen of Princeton and New York University. […..]

In Cohen’s cover story in a recent issue of The Nation, of which his wife Katrina vanden Heuvel is both publisher and editor-in-chief,  he claimed that American media coverage of Putin and Russia is “less objective, less balanced, more conformist and scarcely less ideological than when they covered Soviet Russia during the Cold War.” According to Cohen, Putin has worked to support American interests in stabilizing his nuclear-armed country, assisted U.S. security interests in Afghanistan, Syria and Iran, and has magnanimously freed over 1000 political prisoners.

Evidently, Professor Cohen does not acknowledge that in Syria, for example, Putin has managed to box the U.S. into working with and bolstering the Assad regime, to which Russia constantly gives new battle-ready helicopters, and which to this day has brutally seen to the horrendous deaths of hundreds of thousands of its citizens, all brought down with Russian assistance. We are somehow supposed to believe that this is in our security interests.

Along with Putin, Cohen depicts the demonstrators in Ukraine as hardly “right-minded oppositionists,” but in reality as a group whose politics are never examined and which, he implies, is most likely made up of far-Right extremists and includes fascists and anti-Semites.  [……] The now ousted president of Ukraine is depicted by Cohen as presiding over a real democracy, and not anything like what he believes are the false portrayals by the  historian Timothy Snyder, whose articles in The New York Review of Books paint a not-so-rosy view of the old Yanukovych regime.

To Cohen, the crisis arose only because NATO expansion in Eastern Europe forced Putin and Yanukovych to rightfully protect Russia’s national interests. Moreover, U.S.-funded groups in Ukraine were interfering with domestic politics by bringing NGOs to fund democracy promotion, while trying to put provocative missile-defense installations in countries like Poland, meant to “subordinate Ukraine to NATO.”

He is angry that at the Sochi Olympics, the U.S. sent a low-level delegation, which infuriated Putin because it included “retired gay athletes.” How dare the United States do such a thing, knowing that Putin believes gay people should have no rights?  […..]

Professor Cohen,  we all remember, was sad at the demise of the Soviet Union. He hoped it would not collapse and that it would remain in existence under the leadership of his beloved Mikhail Gorbachev. The last Soviet leader, Cohen believed, would have created a democratic communist state built in the tradition of the purged and executed Bolshevik leader Nikolai Bukharin, of whom Cohen wrote an admiring biography.

The liberal columnist Jonathan Chait gets it correctly. Writing about those he terms Putin’s “pathetic dupes,” he singles out Stephen Cohen and accurately calls him “a septuagenarian, old-school leftist who has carried on the mental habits of decades of anti-anti-communism seamlessly into a new career of anti-anti-Putinism. The Cohen method is to pick away at every indictment of the Russian regime without directly associating himself with its various atrocities.” It is not surprising that Cohen is frequently a guest on the Kremlin’s TV propaganda outlet, Russia Today, just as he would have been welcome on Soviet stations in the Gorbachev era.  In a recent radio interview, Cohen writes:

I can’t remember any Soviet communist leader being so personally villainized, that is we wrote bad things about Khrushchev, about Brezhnev, about Andropov, but we disliked them because they represented an evil system. We didn’t say them themselves were thugs, murderers, assassins, which are words that we attach to Putin.

I think Professor Cohen should look a little more, because I recall plenty of people referring to the Soviet leaders as “thugs” and worse.

The truth is that Cohen analyzes Putin just as he analyzed the Soviet Union, for which he always apologized. In an interview in the new print Newsweek (not online), Cohen said:

We hit Russia’s borders under Bush because NATO was in the Baltics. Then we had this episode in Georgia in 2008 because we crossed Russia’s red line in Georgia. We’ve crossed it in Ukraine. I don’t understand why people don’t see this. That if you send, over a 20-year period, a military alliance which has it’s political components  – includes missile defense, includes NGOs that get money from governments but are deeply involved in politics in those countries, includes the idea of revolutions on their borders — then eventually you’re going to come up against a red line that, like Obama, they’re going to act on.

It’s the old apology for the Soviet Union by the Communists and fellow-travelers brought up to date to explain away Putin. Stalin and his minions in the West used to explain every Soviet action as a fault of “capitalist encirclement,” to which the poor USSR had to act to defend itself. So Cohen believes now we “went a bridge to far” in Ukraine. Putin had to act to defend the just national interests of Russia.

As for the suppression of gays in Russia, Cohen points out they were suppressed in America when he grew up. […….]In other words, we may not like it, but one has to respect the feelings of the Russian public, and not inflict our values and decisions on them. He goes on to say “it’s not our concern,” and sarcastically remarks: “Are we supposed to form a brigade and go there and liberate Russian gays?” That is, my friend the historian of Russia Louis Menashe puts it, “reminiscent of turning back criticisms of the USSR with: “What about the Negroes lynched in the South!”

Once again, leftists like Stephen Cohen join with paleoconservatives like Pat Buchanan in opposing a stand for democracy, and in charging critics of Putin with unfairly and aggressively opposing Putin’s supposed just and necessary policies. When will we learn the lessons we should have learned from the past?

Read the rest –  The New apologists for Vladimir Putin – on the Right and the Left

The anti-Semitic Jew Max Blumenthal, and what Peter Beinart thinks about his repulsive opinions

by Mojambo ( 101 Comments › )
Filed under Anti-semitism, Israel, Judaism, Leftist-Islamic Alliance, Palestinians at January 7th, 2014 - 8:00 am

Actually Max Blumenthal is 1/2 Jewish (his mother is not), yet his views about Israel and with it the anti-Semitic baggage that it brings fits right into the Left’s narrative. The end game of anti-Zionism is always anti-Semtism and extermination.

by Ron Radosh

The Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles today presented it’s year-end list of the top 10 Anti-Semitic and Anti-Israel slurs. It is an ecumenical list, including the usual suspects- led by Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei- and including Turkish Prime Minister Recip Erdogan, UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, Pink Floyd’s front man Roger Waters,  among others.

The ninth listing was reserved for writers, and is titled “The Power of the Poison Pen.” Sharing the Wiesenthal award are the novelist Alice Walker, given to her for comparing Israelis to Nazis, and for writing that Israelis engage in “despicable and lawless sadistic behavior,” and for seeking to “erase” Palestinians “from their own land.” Jews, she said, “know how to hate and how to severely punish others.”

Sharing the listing with Walker is none other than “journalist” Max Blumenthal, and the Wiesenthal Center makes it quite clear that a Jew can indeed be an anti-Semite, and that Blumenthal is one. Equating Israelis with Nazis, Blumenthal mentions the Holocaust “only to ask [is it right] to have the Jewish victims of the Nazis impose their independence on another people’s tragedy?” Blumenthal uses the term “Judeo-Nazis” and explains the Israeli-Arab conflict as the result of Israeli politicians “outdoing one another in a competition for the most convincing exaltation of violence against the Arab evildoers.” According to Blumenthal, it notes, Israelis incite “unprovoked violence against the Arab outclass.” They also “indoctrinate schoolchildren into the culture of militarism.”

Rabbi Marvin Hier, co-founder of the Wiesenthal Center, told The Jerusalem Post that he considers Blumenthal to be a “Jewish anti-Semite.” We “judge him by what he writes,” Hier added. “He crossed the line into outright anti-Semitism.”

As I have pointed out in earlier columns, Blumenthal had two appearances in Washington, D.C., one at the National Press Club and the other at the liberal New America Foundation, whose director Ann-Marie Slaughter approved his appearance.  Atlantic editor Steve Clemons promoted the first. Writing in his announcement for the event,  he said:


A group called “The Committee for the Republic” sponsored the event. According to Source Watch, it is an ad hoc group that includes C. Boyden Gray, Charles Freeman, Stephen P. Cohen, and William A. Nitze. All are self-proclaimed realists and conservatives who are opponents of both Israel and those they call neo-conservatives, whom they attack as supporters of the American Empire.

Clemons’ comment is particularly inane. How “untouched” and “taboo” is the long held anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist slander of Islamists and the far Left, that Israelis are the new Nazis? Anyone familiar with the decades of slander against Israel has heard the kind of tripe now emanating from Blumenthal since way before his own birth.

As to Blumenthal, Josh Block, CEO of The Israel Project, which publishers The Tower,  told the JP:

I am sure his colleagues at the Hezbollah newspaper where he was a writer for years are pleased and not at all surprised to see their guy on this list… Turns out the anti-Semites of Al-Akhbar and Iran’s Press TV discovered this modern- day Jewish Father Coughlin before anyone else.

What, I wondered, would Peter Beinart think about the characterization of Blumenthal as an anti-Semite? Beinart, of course, is the much heralded journalist who created “Open Zion” at The Daily Beast and for the past few years, has dedicated himself to a campaign that in his eyes is meant to save Israel from itself and rescue what he calls “liberal Zionism” from the catastrophe he thinks awaits the Jewish state, unless it abandons the settlements and adopts a new policy to promote peace with the Palestinians. Beinart is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, a publication not particularly known for having any fondness for Israel. Indeed, most recently, Beinart was subject to a rather savage critique by Shany Mor in the journal he once edited, The New Republic.

Mor says the following about how he thinks Beinart sees the issues:

Beinart’s discussion of suicide bombings is a good place as any to acquaint ourselves with the second theme of his writing. Any outcome or effect or result, however small or large, of the Israeli-Arab conflict is always and forever portrayed as an Israeli policy or the action of an Israeli subject on its Palestinian object. Where such a portrayal can’t credibly be made, Beinart will trace back an Israeli original cause….

No amount of self-criticism on the part of Israelis or Jews or their supporters is ever enough is for Beinart, while at the same time there is absolutely no expectation for any self-criticism or reflection by Palestinians or Arabs or their supporters.


Beinart chose not to directly answer my question as to whether or it was true that he gave such advice to Slaughter. Instead, he answered my query as to what he thought of The Wiesenthal Center labeling him an anti-Semite. He asked that I use his answer in full. It appears below:

Speaking for myself, as a Zionist who believes in the legitimacy of a democratic Jewish state, I disagree strongly with Max Blumenthal. I also disagree strongly with Naftali Bennett, who supports permanent Israeli control over millions of West Bank Palestinians who live under military law and lack the right to vote for the government that controls their lives.  And yet I think it was legitimate for Blumenthal to speak at New America, just as it was legitimate for Bennett to speak recently at the Brookings Institution. I believe that the correct answer to views about Israel with which one disagrees is to allow them to be expressed, and challenged. Indeed, that was the principle behind Open Zion, where I commissioned countless articles with which I strongly disagreed. If it were true that Max Blumenthal (who is Jewish himself) were an anti-Semite, as opposed to anti-Zionist, then I would make an exception to this general rule, as I don’t support offering a platform to bigots. But I have seen no evidence of that. Being anti-Zionist does not make you an anti-Semite: Ask the Satmar Rebbe.  […….]

Beinart’s equivocating remark reveals how accurate Shany Mor is in his analysis of Beinart’s methodology. First, Beinart simply states his disagreement with Blumenthal. One should not be surprised. Blumenthal attacked Beinart’s own recent book for defending Israel’s right to exist.  After just one sentence about Blumenthal, Beinart immediately goes into an attack on Israeli settlers for their “control” over Palestinians in the West Bank. He cannot simply condemn the reprehensible Blumenthal without having to use the occasion to launch yet another blast at Israel.

Second, he defends Blumenthal’s talk as “legitimate.” The issue, however, was not whether talking anywhere is legitimate. The issue is whether a major self-avowed center/liberal think tank, The New America Foundation, that is allied with the Obama administration, should be a venue for an anti-Semite who in this case, happens to be Jewish?  Beinart believes that, according to the logic of his answer, that anyone who has a view should have it expressed, and then challenged. As I argued earlier, as did Jonathan S. Tobin in Commentary, Blumenthal has plenty of venues to express his views. His book has been published, and The Nation featured an excerpt as a cover story. The issue is whether NAF should legitimize his out of the mainstream and anti-Semitic rants with its venue, thereby making his views appear to be important to be heard, rather than isolated to the fringe where it belongs. Moreover, no one at the event challenged him. Instead, writer Peter Bergen gave him a hearty welcome.

Next, Beinart says he does not believe in giving a bigot a space. In other words- and let me be clear about this- Beinart is saying in effect that Max Blumenthal is not a bigot. Really? The man whose incendiary chapter titles such as “How to Kill Goyim and Influence People” and “Night of the Broken Glass” are all meant to portray Jews as Nazis? Indeed, Beinart- who in fact has given Palestinian extremists a platform on “Open Zion,”- defends Blumenthal from the charge that he is an anti-Semite. Evidently, Beinart thinks Blumenthal is only “anti-Zionist.

As we all know- and Peter Beinart fails to comprehend- the new anti-Semitism comes in the form of anti-Zionism,  and virulent anti-Zionism is always accompanied by the refrains of classic old style anti-Semitism. Max Blumenthal is not only anti-Zionist, he believes in the total elimination of Israel as a Jewish state, and supports its demise. In his eyes, there is little difference between a conservative Israeli and a liberal one such as Beinart; to Blumenthal they are indistinguishable, and both are his enemies. If only Beinart was as tough with Blumenthal as Blumenthal is with him. Why else would Blumenthal be welcome, as Josh Block asks, in the pages of Hezbollah’s paper? Does Beinart really think someone with such extremist views deserves to be presented in a liberal American venue? If so, I would argue that says a great deal about the collapse of a principled liberalism such as Beinart himself used to stand for, at the time he wrote his first book.


I have news for Beinart. The real anti-Semites are the Islamists and Arab extremists and terrorists of Hamas and Hezbollah and the likes of those supported by Max Blumenthal, Noam Chomsky, Richard Falk and their brethren among old style Western anti-Semites, that now include the American left, all of whom collectively hate and despise Israel. The Wiesenthal Center hit its targets head on, and identified them all accurately. Their opposition to Israel is not that of the Satmar Rebbe, or any Jews who believe that Judaism is only a religion and who on religious grounds always opposed a Jewish state. Theirs is a modern style anti-Semitism, that stems from the kind of Marxist anti-Semitism that began with Marx himself, and that was the staple of the Communists in the 1920’s and the other Marxist sects, that supported the destruction of Israel in the name of anti-imperialism.

It is Peter Beinart who in fact gives comfort to the new and old anti-Semites alike, not the Wiesenthal Center. That he does so in the name of both liberalism and liberal Zionism is itself both a farce and a tragedy.  I ask one question of Peter Beinart: Do you really want to be known as a supporter of Max Blumenthal, and as one who really thinks he and his repulsive views deserve a hearing in our country?

Read the rest –  The anti-Semitic Jew Max Blumenthal, and how Peter Beinart views his repulsive views

Comrade Bill De Blasio takes control; and Gotham’s ‘divider-in-chief’

by Mojambo ( 142 Comments › )
Filed under Communism, Crime, Democratic Party, Elections 2012, Marxism, Politics, Progressives, Socialism at January 6th, 2014 - 12:00 pm

The inaugural of Bill de Blasio was totally vulgar and classless even by the vulgar and classless standards of the Left.

Got to love this reference to The New York Times [a]s Mona Charen quipped, if the Chinese Communists buy it, the paper will definitely be more rightwing.

by Ron Radosh

In the 1940s, the New York City subways and buses were represented — as they still are now — by the Transport Workers Union, whose chief at the time was “Red” Mike Quill. A fiery Communist who left the Party in 1948 but remained firmly on the political Left, Red was famous for his quip: “I’d rather be called a Red by the rats than a rat by the Reds.”

I’m certain that New York City’s new mayor, Bill de Blasio, wishes Quill were still alive. He would then have a major ally to work with when the time came for the MTA to negotiate a new union contract with the city. Judging from his inauguration, a parody of a left-wing gala dreamed up at the U.S. desk of the Castro brothers’ Foreign Ministry, de Blasio has taken his big win as a mandate to create social-democracy in one city.

De Blasio has pledged to make his term as mayor the time for implementation of a war against inequality. My colleague Roger L. Simon thinks he and those with him do not believe a word of what they say, that it is all “high comedy” and they “can’t be serious.” I disagree. The rhetoric may be old-fashioned and seem corny, but de Blasio is a certified red diaper baby, he was born and bred in an ideological cocoon of Marxism, and later, by his own word, was inspired by the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and Castro in Cuba.

He chose whom to appoint and who would speak at his inauguration, and if the talk was inflammatory and ideological, it was de Blasio’s intention. He would take the high road and let the words of his apparatchiks and celebrities like Harry Belafonte talk the talk for the true believers who would provide the inspiration. As Slate writer Matt Yglesias quipped on Twitter as he watched the speeches: “Daring of de Blasio to appear on stage with the embalmed corpses of Lenin, Mao, and Ho Chi Minh at his inauguration.”

Actually, it was not corpses who spoke. Rev. Fred A. Lucas Jr. told the audience that New York City was like a slave plantation run for the wealthy. Belafonte falsely asserted that Mayor Mike Bloomberg had increased the concentration of African-Americans in the city’s prisons. The city’s newly elected public advocate, Letitia James, called for a government “that cares more about a child going hungry than a new stadium or a new tax credit for a luxury development.” All this was even too much for the New York Times editorial board, who called the speeches “backward-looking … [and] both graceless and smug.” As for James’ comments, they were “the worst among them.” And Belafonte’s remarks, they noted, were “utterly bogus.”

Perhaps the owners of the Times were afraid that next on the mayor’s agenda might be Hugo Chavez-style press control or, God forbid, a takeover of the paper by the mayor’s press office carried out by administrative decree. No wonder the paper is considering a bid to sell to a Chinese magnate. As Mona Charen quipped, if the Chinese Communists buy it, the paper will definitely be more rightwing.

Jim Epstein, writing at The Daily Beast, understood what de Blasio is about better than anyone. Let him aim away, he writes, pointing out that “[h]is new job won’t afford him the political power of Lenin or Mao — or anything close to what would be necessary to reshape the city’s demography.” His plan to raise taxes on the rich will collapse in Albany where the state’s budget is created, the city’s budget has to be balanced by law, and he doesn’t have on hand the money he promised to the labor unions when new contracts are negotiated. Actually, he is only beholden to the teachers’ union in particular, since only they backed him in the primaries and did the legwork on his behalf.


The tragedy is that leftist do-good programs for the poor are self-defeating, and could make the city far worse. Moreover, they are based on a faulty understanding of why big cities like New York have both rich and poor living in their domain. Writing in the New York Daily News a few months ago, Ed Glaeser, a professor of economics at Harvard, explained that the city’s “extreme inequality reflects other extraordinary aspects of New York: the massive global financial markets based here, America’s most accessible public transit system, hyper-dense immigrant communities and broad social services, like public housing. These forces attract both rich and poor to New York, and New York should not be ashamed of that economic diversity.”

The poor flock to New York for the reason that it is there they think that there will be mobility that will let them eventually move up the ladder, making it what Glaeser believes is a “viable home for the poor.” It is and has been a port of immigrants who come to America via New York and view it as the starting place for their journey into the middle class.

Then there is the classic failure to comprehend the results of good intentions. Making the public welfare system give more to the poor in the form of various subsidies, Glaeser warns, means more of the poor moving to the city and hence an increase in the inequality. It also means more middle-class people moving out, as well as the wealthy that leave again for the suburbs or other states.


Malanga’s ten-year-old prediction proved accurate. He also wrote that the council, in passing extremist legislation that hurt the economy, “could have political ramifications for years to come, because the council serves as the local political minor leagues, preparing candidates for higher office in New York.” Indeed. The result is Mayor Bill de Blasio, a dream of the far Left coming to fruition. [……..]

So welcome, New Yorkers, to your future. The crowd at the inaugural cheered former Mayor David Dinkins — New Yorkers alive then well remember his time in office as a period of increased crime, a lack of basic services, higher taxes, a takeover of the streets by de-institutionalized mentally ill patients, and inefficient city government. Those who followed him in office successfully made the city a safe place to live and work in by undoing Dinkins’ failures.

The left favored what was bad for the city. Now with their man in office, New York City residents can see the past as their future.

Read the rest – Comrade De Blasio  takes the helm

Peggy Noonan has Comrade Bill pegged correctly with his despicable class warfare rhetoric. As Rodan and I have mentioned many times – New York City has become a victim of its fantastic success of the past 20 years (1994-2013). So many residents in New York City are not old enough or were not even born when the City was  in its crime ridden doldrums (late 1960’s – 1993) that the hipsters who habitate trendy neighborhoods such as Boerum Hill, Williamsburg, Park Slope, etc. take it as a given that it is a safe place to live.

by Peggy Noonan

Cities sometimes make swerves. That’s what New York did in November when it elected a left-wing Democrat, Bill de Blasio, as mayor. The city was saying, “Enough with the past, let’s try something new.” There’s no doubt they will get it.

Mayors Rudy Giuliani (1994-2001) and Mike Bloomberg (2002-13) led a renaissance of the city, which had half-killed itself in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s with bankruptcy, labor unrest and high crime rates. The city was thought to be unworkable, finished. For Mayor Giuliani the job was to stabilize, get the criminals off the street, let people feel safe again. Once that was done New York’s natural hunger and high spirits would reassert themselves, businesses would thrive and hire. He left behind a safer, more prosperous city. And there was the parting gift of his last days as mayor, during 9/11 and its aftermath, when—love him or hate him—he showed what a leader looked like.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers his inaugural address outside City Hall, Jan. 1. Associated Press

Mike Bloomberg, sworn in weeks later, had to lead the city as it righted itself, got over the trauma and refound its confidence. His job was to shake off the ashes and dust, expand and diversify the economy, help create jobs, lower crime rates even further, move forward. He succeeded. The other night at his last dinner as mayor, one of his daughters’ eyes filled with tears as she thanked him, in a toast, for leaving behind a city that her son could be proud of, love, and live in forever.

These imperfect men with their imperfect administrations and their big mistakes—they made a masterpiece. In the past 20 years, other American cities were going down—Detroit most famously—while New York not only became again what it was, the greatest city on the face of the Earth, but it looked like it, and felt like it.


Why did New York swerve from that path instead of continuing on it? A lot of reasons. You have to have some years on you to remember New York when it didn’t work—to even know that it’s not magically ordained that it will. You have to be older than 30 or so to remember when it wasn’t safe.

In 1991, there were 2,245 murders in New York. In 2013, there were 333. If you’re a 20-year-old voter, or a 40-year-old voter who came to the city from elsewhere, you don’t remember 1991, and how it felt. You don’t remember garbage strikes and grime. Your vision of the city is as it was in the Giuliani-Bloomberg era, a city ever rising.

And New York is a Democratic town. Sooner or later it was going to swerve. Though the largely untold story is that voter turnout in November was historically low. Only about a million of 4.3 million registered voters showed up at the polls. Bill de Blasio won in landslide, but it was a landslide from a severely reduced pile of voters.


No one knows exactly what’s coming, but Mr. de Blasio’s inaugural address on Wednesday was not promising. Whether you are a conservative or a liberal, you can choose, as a leader, to be a uniter or a divider. Mr. de Blasio seems very much the latter. He is on the side of the poor and the marginalized, which is good, but he took every opportunity to jab at those who are not poor and don’t live on the margins. “Big dreams are not a luxury of the privileged few,” he said. Whoever said they were? He is a political descendant of those “who took on the elite.” New York “is not the exclusive domain of the One Percent.” Who said it was?  [……]

This mayor will “reform” the stop-and-frisk policy of the New York Police Department. Exactly how, he didn’t say. But stop, question and frisk has been part of the kind of policing that helped New York reduce crime.

“We will ask the very wealthy to pay a little more in taxes so that we can offer full-day, universal pre-K and after-school programs for every middle school student.” The wealthy should not complain. “Those earning between $500,000 and one million dollars a year, for instance, would see their taxes increase by an average of $973 a year. That’s less than three bucks a day—about the cost of a small soy latte at your local Starbucks. SBUX -0.29%


There was no mention of the most famous impediment to educational improvement and reform: the teachers unions.

Mr. de Blasio acknowledges that his “progressive vision” is not supported by everyone. “Some on the far right continue to preach the virtue of trickle-down economics. They believe that the way to move forward is to give more to the most fortunate, and that somehow the benefits will work their way down to everyone else. They sell their approach as the path of ‘rugged individualism.’ ” But don’t worry, he doesn’t want to “punish success,” he wants to “create more success stories.”

It isn’t hard to unpack this. Those who oppose Mr. de Blasio are greedy and uncaring. They don’t offer a point of view, they “preach,” and what they preach is that the poor should be satisfied with the crumbs that fall from the tables of the rich. They “sell” this argument—my goodness, they’re trying to make money even while discussing politics—but the flawed product they peddle is “rugged individualism,” a phrase that hasn’t been used in this city in a century.  [……..]


An inaugural address is a big thing. It declares an agenda but also sets a tone. An attitude. The tone Mr. de Blasio set was that of a divider.

A uniter’s approach would have been one that was both more morally generous and more honest. It wouldn’t set one group against the other, it would have asserted that all New Yorkers are in this together. Something along this approach: “To those who earn half a million dollars or more a year, we know and understand that your weekly paycheck is already subject to federal, state and city taxes. Which means we know you already contribute a great deal, and not only through taxes. So many of our citizens are deeply civic-minded. They give their time and effort to helping their local churches and synagogues; to building civic organizations; [………]”

What was absent in Mr. de Blasio’s remarks was a kind of civic courtesy, or grace. The kind that seeks to unite and build from shared strength, the kind that doesn’t demonize. Instead, from our new mayor we got the snotty sound of us vs. them, of zero-sum politics.

It was not a promising beginning. Or rather what it promises is unfortunate. I already miss Mike.

Read the rest – New York’s Divider in Chief

America’s “useful idiot”

by Mojambo ( 101 Comments › )
Filed under China, Communism, Liberal Fascism, Marxism, Media, Movies at June 19th, 2013 - 12:30 pm

Hands down that has got to be Communist and Islamic apologist (and overrated filmmaker) Oliver Stone

by Ron Radosh

Our old friend Oliver Stone is at it again. This time, as The Hollywood Reporter informs us, he is being feted and wined and dined in the People’s Republic of China, where he is the star attraction at this year’s Shanghai International Film Festival. The festival will be screening his big flop Alexander, his film Savages, as well as an episode of his Communist propaganda series The Untold History of the United States.

I’m certain the ideological guardians of the Communist regime, who still reverently pay homage to the Stalinist dictator and founder of the People’s Republic Mao Ze Dong, will be thrilled to see how the official propagandist picture of American imperialism depicted by Stone and co-writer Peter Kuznick fulfills the ideological requirements of how the regime regularly treats history. They should especially enjoy his portrait of a benign Stalin who only wanted secure borders and fought for peace.

 As the report informs readers, Stone “brought thunderous applause to a crowd of more than 500 festivalgoers…when he praised whistleblower Edward Snowden as a ‘hero.’” So while Dick Cheney rightfully condemns Snowden as a traitor, a word that Snowden himself says is a badge of honor when bestowed on him by the former vice president, Oliver Stone gets the backing and support of an audience in statist China. The People’s Republic’s government controls propaganda and censors free news reports, has its own repressive gulag system of prison camps, and is anything but a free society. It has not dawned on the filmmaker that attacking the United States as not free in a land in which dissenters are arrested and persecuted on a regular basis shows anything but an understanding of what freedom and liberty are.


In response to a passionately worded indictment from an audience member accusing the U.S. National Security Agency of “eavesdropping on the world,” the celebrated — and provocative — director said, simply: “Snowden is a hero,” before launching into a brief discussion of the revelations about the U.S. spy programs and their aftermath….Stone went on to praise the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, and whistleblower Bradley Manning. He condemned President Barack Obama’s administration for prosecuting six whistleblower cases despite campaign promises of a more progressive administration.


“Mr. Stone, you sound like one of China’s angry young men,” chided Zhou.

Despite repeated attempts from the moderator to redirect the discussion and Zhou’s requests not to discuss political matters, Stone castigated the Bush administration, the Iraq war, the Kuwait Invasion and American imperialism.

Stone defended movies that criticize authority, from war movies to crime movies. But he did caution that violence must be used responsibly. He also pointed to the media’s influence on the culture of violence, from Newtown and Columbine to the Bush-era wars.

Cherish the irony. The Chinese hosts wanted the event to appear non-political, in order to highlight their film colony’s entrance into the world arena. But evidently they did not know Oliver Stone well enough.  As he noted, “Movies that glorify war give permission to the leaders to make war,” although his criticism was reserved only for the United States, and not to any of the many times that the Communist nations he supports have used their own media to do precisely that which he claims to find objectionable.

Next, Stone told the audience that his Showtime documentary series was the “toughest project” he has undertaken, since it is difficult to unravel the myths about the United States. Given, as I have shown in many different venues, that his entire series is one big myth — or, more accurately, one big lie –  it most likely is a task that proved very difficult for him to accomplish.

Moreover, Stone, who has made his share of very violent films, was ironically rebuked by Hong Kong director Johnnie To in a panel on “How Does Film Have its Influence on Real Life?”  The article tells us that To’s own films contain “a liberal dose of violence.” So director To told Stone that “movies are not textbooks or teaching tools,” and that everyone has their “own opinions.” I have not seen any of To’s movies, but coming from fairly liberal Hong Kong, To probably is not too favorable to the old doctrine of “socialist realism” or didactic films now favored by Stone. Hence, he argued with Stone, “movie violence will not remove violence in the real world.”

[……….] The norm for average Americans, of whom Oliver Stone knows very few, is the opposite of the kind of greed the people he hangs out with regularly display. But the corrupt government of China, where greed, rapacious behavior, and horrors galore are displayed by the rich apparatchiks, is more than happy to have Stone deflect its own citizen’s attention from the reality of life in China and instead have them angry at the United States.

One thing is certain. Oliver Stone will receive his Outstanding Artistic Achievement award from Communist China, and will still be able to hold a title more appropriate — the Number One Useful Idiot living in the United States.

Read the rest – Oliver Stone disgraces himself – once again – and this time in Communist China