THE DOMINANT MEDIA CULTURE AND THE EFFECT OF SPORTS ON AMERICAN SOCIETY
"We have to understand that there are differences between a capitalist lobotomy and socialist lobotomies."
- Suzanne Ross
Hollywood and the McCarthy "backlash"
Let me get one thing perfectly clear. I love Hollywood. Let me amend that. I love what Hollywood produces. That being said, the past 10 years or so have been down years for the entertainment industry. Films that depict angst, religious animosity and a refutation of traditional values are all the rage, despite the fact that movies like "Seabiscuit" elicit laudatory commentary and big business from a public thirsty for something wholesome. Rap music has merged with punk and a hard-edged "heavy metal" sound to serve a hybrid of the counter-culture, although Christian rock and especially country and western has found itself to be the most popular, with its patriotic themes of God, country and family.
But nobody does it like Hollywood. The American film is the true art form of the 20th Century, and I am part of it. I studied in the prestigious University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, as well as in the well-respected UCLA Writers' Program, which has produced numerous successful screenwriters. I have studied the so-called three-act "formula" screenplay, as well as all genre of film, from independent to studio blockbuster. I have written scripts and worked in Hollywood. I have an agent and I know show biz from the inside.
Why is Hollywood so liberal? The answer to that question is easy and complicated. First, it is not as liberal as many people think. There are "closet conservatives" in the industry, as well as some big names who lend themselves to causes. John Wayne, Charlton Heston and Frank Capra were just three well-recognized conservatives. I myself belong to an organization called Hollywood Republicans, which meets regularly and has a web site. There are groups of writers and producers who meet in "cells" to discuss "conservative" or family-themed scripts and projects. They wistfully talk about making "our kind of movies" with others who are considered "one of us" when they wrest control of the industry from the likes of Rob Reiner, who once said, "In my perfect world, the bad Senator will always be a Republican. When the conservatives make their movies, then they can do it their way."
Many of the "little people" in Hollywood - camera operators, stagehands, grips, etc., are Republicans, and there are plenty among the actors, writers, directors and producers. But the industry has been taken over by Left wing activists who have created the most stifling form of "thought police" in America today. It is the closest thing to censorship. We joke amongst ourselves that in Hollywood we are members of the Republican Witness Protection Program.
The first thing to address is the new sensibilities of fame. In the "old" days, actors came from the general population. Many served in the military. Guys like Lee Marvin, Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen were in the Marines or the Army, then were "roustabouts" who fell into acting because they had the looks and happened to be discovered. John Wayne became an actor because he injured himself and lost his scholarship to play football at Southern Cal. Their success was serendipitous. They certainly had egos and worked hard to get where they got, but underneath it all was a sense that they were just fortunate to have lucked into such a niche.
Too many of today's stars are narcissistic fools, although it is not all their fault. The "fame machine" of publicists, tabloids and television has created a juxtaposed "us vs. them" world in which they feel the need to insulate themselves from the great unwashed. This, however, comes at a terrible price of guilt. The fact is that very, very few actors are really that much more talented than the thousands who fail, and they know it. There are only a limited handful of stars who were destined for greatness no matter what.
Marlon Brando and James Dean had that kind of talent. Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant had screen presence. Sir Laurence Olivier was going to be a star. But for many other actors, their success was about luck, or something else. Many slept their way to the top. It would not surprise me to know that some made deal with Satan.
Jane Fonda was beautiful and talented, but was she really that extraordinary? Without the Fonda name, would she have become a star? Alec Baldwin is a handsome son of a gun with a great voice and screen presence, which goes for George Clooney, but in reality, there are plenty of unknowns who possess those same qualities. Julia Roberts strikes me as ordinary. Barbra Streisand is a singer extraordinaire, but an actress ordinaire.
So what is the point? The point is that the current crop of actors does not emanate from the populace like Wayne, McQueen or Eastwood once did. They do not come to Hollywood on leave from military service, or on their way home from an American victory in some foreign war. High school drama departments have become de facto gay youth clubs. The first gays I ever was aware were my high school drama teacher (who claimed to have served under Patton at the Bulge, by the way) and the students in his class. I did not care, although I took some heat from my jock buddies. I did not mind. I just knew I liked "Death of a Salesman" and the comic genius of Neil Simon.
The New Hollywood studies drama at elite universities and schools like the Actors Studio in New York, immortalized by the "Strassberg method" which emanated from a Russian drama teacher named Stavlinsky. After World War II, the second half of Stavlinsky's writings was discovered, revealing that the so-called "method" that propelled Brando and Dean was not what the author had intended, but the style became a fixture in the American acting scene.
When a handsome young man or gorgeous woman ascends to the top nowadays, they find their world turned inside out, with sycophants, managers, an adoring public, a fawning press, and more money than they could ever have imagined thrust onto them, seemingly overnight. Unlike athletes, who face competition from teammates and opponents, hear the boos of the crowd, and are subject to the ridicules of intemperate sportswriters, the actor is a protected species. They are not allowed to demonstrate "human" traits beyond platitudes about the rain forest, Alar on schoolkids' apples, or other things they know little about. Amazingly, an actress who plays a farmers' wife on screen, for instance, will be called before Congress to testify about the conditions of Midwestern farmers, as if their two weeks of preparation for the role somehow qualifies them.
Our newly inducted members of the Beautiful People's Club then have to deal with a question that nags at their innards. "Do I really deserve this?" The answer is, no more than the guy in their old acting class who did not get the break they got. That is not the answer they want to hear. Wracked by guilt over their own success, they develop a phobia for things that are earned, like national greatness, military objectives, and corporate success stories.
This does not apply to everybody. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are two of life's lottery winners who happen to have grown up together back in the day in Boston. They recognize how good they have it and refuse to play the swelled head. But they are exceptions to the rule. The biggest liberals in Hollywood tend to be utterly condescending and imperious, with little real respect for ordinary people.
Again, this does not apply to everybody. Rob Reiner is an enormous liberal, but to his credit he studies issues, puts his money where his mouth is, and has a genuine desire to help the community. I disagree with his politics but admire his passion. Sean Penn, Madonna and Barbra Streisand are blowhards who have no concept of reality, and there is little about their personal lives deserving of genuine respect.
Many conservatives have taken the position that actors are stupid because most of them never went to college, or even dropped out of high school, but this misses the point, too. They are not stupid. Acting is an important profession. I submit that if we closed all the movie theatres and video stores, and took away movies and TV shows, the worldwide clamor would be devastating. Folks need to be entertained. Entertainment also carries social importance. Certainly, Shakespeare's works are as much social commentary as entertainment. The Greeks before him used the stage to make political points, sometimes to the playwrights' physical detriment.
It was an actor, John Wilkes Booth, who felt destiny had put him in the misguided position to "save the Confederacy" by assassinating Abe Lincoln. Actors do not avoid college because they cannot get in. They are consumed by the passion to act, which spurs them to leave for Broadway or Hollywood as soon as they are out of high school, or causes them to drop out of college because a degree is not what will open doors for them. While many live in a kind of "dream world" of sex, drugs, and parties, most are intelligent. It was that intelligence and pursuit of creativity that pushed them into high school drama in the first place, where the ability to read well is essential to an actor. Acting requires perception and social empathy that are not normal traits of the Dumbellionite Class.
Most educated people will admit the majority of what they learned came from independent study and reading for pleasure in the post-college years, anyway. Working actors read many scripts that enlighten them to a myriad of issues. The really successful ones can employ advisors, and have plenty of time to read newspapers, magazines, and bone up on issues.
Let's face it, some of the most liberal actors are great at what they do. Tim Robbins is so far to the Left that he is almost a Communist. He does not look the part. He is tall, athletic and good-looking, and lands roles that portray him as business executives. His parents were folk singers, which may or may not explain why he has arrived at an egalitarian worldview that gives no credence to America's role as peacekeeper and savior. He just sees in this country exploitation, killing machine, corporate corruption and racism. He views people with his opinions to be the only ones capable of saving the world from us.
For these reasons, people such as myself have identified Robbins as something less than a traitor, but not much more than a hare-brained activist. It would be very easy to dismiss him and never watch his movies, except that he is responsible for some of my all-time favorite screen moments. He co-starred in the hilarious "Bull Durham" (1988), and in 1992 held together one of the greatest movie ever made, "The Player". That film was directed by another Leftist of remarkable antipathy towards conservatism named Robert Altman. Altman's art cannot be denied. He has the ability to create "conversations" among numerous characters that give his films, particularly "M*A*S*H" and "Nashville", an entertaining, documentary feel. This emanates from the French cinema verite embodied by Jean-Luc ("I have no script") Goddard.
Alec Baldwin told Jay Leno's audience that they should go to Republican Congressman Henry Hyde's house and stone the man and his family to death because they endorsed Clinton's Impeachment. The fact that he paid little price for this statement is extremely telling. First, any conservative who said anything remotely close to that would have been drawn and quartered. The reason for that is because conservatives are known to be intelligent, educated, serious people, so when they say something it is taken seriously This fact is understood and accepted by conservatives. People just dismissed Baldwin as a kooky actor, which is, in a nutshell, why their Dumbellionite statements never get traction. However, because they live in their little "look at me" worlds, these people have actually fooled themselves into believing they matter for something other than being a pretty or handsome popcorn mouthpiece on Saturday nights. They do not.
That is not to say they do not have a platform from which to build a case. Baldwin is not stupid. He certainly is not as stupid as his "killing Henry Hyde's family" statement would have the public believing. He has passion and cares about America, and for this he actually deserves some admiration. But where he and many of his ilk fail to get it is that their high profiles come with responsibility, at least if they plan to go public with their politics.
Baldwin may read the New York Times, but he fails to gauge the political winds. To him, a conservative Republican is an evil monster. It appears to me that one would have to scrape layers of insulation and adulation from Baldwin in order to get to any core understanding of people that is necessary in the political world. Baldwin thinks that conservative Republicans are racists, homophobes, heartless, baby killers, polluters, exploiters and imperialists.
Now, a Democrat like California's U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein could be sat down and rationally spoken to, and with. Senator Feinstein could see that Republicans want minorities to succeed, and might even agree that personal responsibility and a reform of old line affirmative action policies is necessary. Would Baldwin?
Senator Feinstein understands that Republicans may not endorse gay marriages, but believe gays should be allowed all the freedoms under the Constitution (just not more so). Baldwin probably could not be made to see this.
Feinstein understands that tax cuts are not "heartless," and has enough knowledge of economics to know that relieving the burden on the wealthy has the potential to spur growth. Her constituency and philosophy may differ on this, but she can see the reason in the Republican argument. Baldwin appears, from this angle at least, to be blinded by his narrower ideology.
Feinstein knows American soldiers are not gung-ho to kill children or drop napalm on farmers, but Baldwin seems pre-disposed to suspect the worst. Feinstein can listen to an argument that global warming may be a natural phenomenon, and she may produce sources to dispute it, but she is capable of reasoning the issue and understanding that it deserves further study. Baldwin is the kind of guy who is closed-minded on such things, easily dismissing Republicans as uncaring polluters, as if we breathe different air than he does.
Dianne Feinstein knows that in American history, this country has liberated millions and relieved suffering from one corner of the globe to another. Baldwin will have none of it. He will acknowledge our righteousness in World War II, but to him defeating Communism, and apparently terrorism, were little more than historical blips in which liberals were unfairly painted as enemies by the right.
The difference between a solid, respected Democrat like Senator Feinstein, and Alec Baldwin, is not just that Feinstein went to Stanford, and has immersed herself in a lifetime of knowledge, reading books, policy papers, and listening to advisors. She has dealt with the citizenry, asking for their votes, and she has worked closely with members of the political opposition, all with a common goal for America.
Baldwin was born with the gift of looks and vocal charisma. Once he hit it big (ironically playing the patriotic Tom Clancy character Jack Ryan in "The Hunt For Red October"), Baldwin's life changed. He became a multi-millionaire, with gorgeous women offering fantasy sex to him. Publicists protected him. Friendly interviewers promoted him. Tabloid fans adored him. Baldwin's temper, checked in his "previous life" by the norms of societal expectation, now could explode because he was no longer part of that normal society. He was a movie star. Suddenly, his opinion on matters of policy was elevated, and he believed his own importance. His story is hardly unique.
Ronald Reagan is often cited as "just an actor," but his political education was long and arduous. He cut his political teeth during the Red Scare, and Communists in Hollywood were not just a myth to him. They were real. He knew their names and he helped the government identify them. He went on the speaking circuit for G.E., and spent years learning issues and how to deliver them. He went through a maturation process, realizing that the Democrat party he had always identified with had left him, not the other way around. Slowly but surely, year after year, he became more politically savvy. When he finally entered the fray he was ready and never turned back.
Michael Moore is a disgruntled, angry little man. He made it big with a documentary about the Detroit automobile business. His premise was, essentially, that it was not fair for big corporations to make profits, and if they did not they should not be allowed to fire employees even if they could not afford to keep them on. It was Communist sophistry.
He made another documentary about guns that the fact-checkers discovered was filled with lies. America is a country in which legal gun owners hunt, and also protect their families with these weapons. Criminals who illegally own guns commit 99 percent of gun crime. Much of the crime that is prevented is done by legal gun owners stopping illegal gun owners from using their guns in the commission of crimes. But many criminals with illegal guns are minorities. Liberals like Michael Moore would prefer to shift the focus from this fact to the fact that most legal gun owners are white Republicans. He pointed to an isolated incident, the shooting at Columbine, as evidence that white gun owners are responsible for American crime. This is untrue, and Moore knows it. He says it anyway. Webster's has a word that describes this, and it starts with the letter "l." As far as I am concerned, Michael Moore should be excoriated for writing a book (the title of which describes him) called "Stupid White Males" just as much as I would be if I wrote a book called "Dumbass Negroes".
Most conservatives put their politics aside and frequent movies starring these liberals, because they really do not pay much attention to their pedantics. However, if an actor is on the cusp, so to speak, we may make another choice. Take Julia Roberts, who said "Republican can be found in the dictionary after reptile," which is not true. She demonstrated the truism that one is better to say nothing and be thought stupid than to open their mouth and remove all doubt. After years of hype, people are coming to realize she is highly over-rated. She received industry recognition for a movie that few outside the industry thought much of, when she portrayed the trashy, foul-mouthed "Erin Brockovich", a story about an isolated incident in the California desert in which the Pacific Gas & Electric Company inadvertently polluted the water supply of a tiny town. The implication, like Moore's work, is that big businesses are not the friends of the public, favoring tax cuts and pollution over the safety of kids. What is never mentioned in these portrayals is that companies like PG&E provide goods and valuable services desired by millions, at a fair price. They employee thousands, who fund dreams and families through the salaries and benefits derived through their success in a capitalist, free market system that is second to none in the world. They pay the taxes (plus make enormous charitable contributions) that provide the rising tide that lifts all boat in this, the greatest society ever conceived.
But Hollywood would just portray them as enemies. They cheer when they are slapped with billion-dollar lawsuits that result in job losses, higher prices, and help to grind the wheels of commerce down. Julia's average acting skills are now identified by many movie consumers who choose not to patronize her work.
Woody "Hemp Man" Harrelson is a Godsend to the Republicans. The fact that he is a Democrat discredits the Democrats more than Republican money can buy. Then there are guys like Mike Farrell and Ed Asner, who are washed up but try to stay in the public eye through political activism. Farrell is a sharp fellow who can give and take with the likes of Sean Hannity. Asner, however, is the old school liberal, still seething because the Communism he and his pals were associated with was identified for what it was. Asner has acting talent, but he has been known to vocally state that no Republicans would work on projects that he was involved. That was when he had enough clout to make such an outrageous edict stick. Unlike Farrell, Asner does not prepare himself for the interviews he conducts. Farrell at least has made the informed decision that, for instance, backing Pinochet over Allende in Chile was bad, and correlates that with invasion in the Middle East (??). Anyway, he at least knows some history. Asner just spouts nostrums about how we would get our heads handed to us in Iraq, which he said a few weeks before we destroyed Saddam. Asner eventually started doing interviews again, claiming that since Clinton was a liar, Bush must be, too. Farrell, to his credit, went on with Hannity and stuck to his (misguided) guns. Let me be clear, liberals like Asner and Farrell are not unpatriotic. If they have hard feelings against America, it is more out of a hope to make America a better place. Generally, they are of the "fairness" school of political discourse, which unfortunately is the same one that prompted Robert Oppenheimer to share atomic secrets with Soviet colleagues/spies. The idea is that it is not fair for one country - America - to be as powerful and successful as it is. They do not trust America to handle its power. Asner, Farrell and their kind believe in a better society. They are not bad people. They are due respect for their passion and desire to live in a better world, and to use their influence in so doing. Just because they do not have post-graduate degrees does not make them ineligible to voice reasoned opinions.
What is beyond reasonable belief is the fascination, indeed an actual love affair, between Fidel Castro and Hollywood. Surely these celebrities are aware of the thousands he has imprisoned and killed. Castro has probably murdered roughly 1 million people. The real truth will not be known until he is toppled. This information is common knowledge, not hidden from Hollywood.
When Castro toured the U.S. in his early days, he was feted by the New York Broadway crowd, surrounded by showgirls who appeared to be his sex offerings, while sycophant producers, actors and other show folk crowded around him like a guru. That was before his murderous repressions were known. Still, he gets the star treatment. It becomes hard to say that this man, an enemy of freedom and of America, could be idolized by anybody who does not, by virtue of idolizing him, hate America. Do they hate freedom? Is that possible? The answer is more complicated, obviously. There is something psychological about the mindset of celebrity, capitalism and patriotism that I make no effort to explain. Perhaps money, fame and idolatry place these celebs in a place they think is above the norm, as if the usual rules of conduct and decency are for somebody else.
Hollywood has labeled Castro a "genius" and a "source of inspiration to the world." Conservative media critic Michael Medved says these accolades are "sickening." Dennis Hays, head of the anti-Castro Cuban American National Foundation, compares the Cuban dictator's "hold" on Hollywood to a "cult" following, not unlike that of Jim Jones and David Koresh.
Saul Landau, who won an Emmy, produced documentaries on Castro.
He "has brought a greater equality in terms of wealth distribution than I guess any country in the world today," said Landau. Many of his policies are "praiseworthy." This analogy has been used countless times, but Hitler cut down on crime and Mussolini made the trains run on time.
Steven Spielberg dined with Castro, then announced that it "was the eight most important hours of my life." Spielberg may be a liberal, but "Saving Private Ryan" is one of the most patriotic movies ever made. Are conservatives just closed-minded about Castro? Can Spielberg's dinner and comments be misconstrued?
Jack Nicholson spent three hours with Castro in 1998.
"He is a genius," said Nicholson. "We spoke about everything."
He is "a source of inspiration to the world," according to supermodel Naomi Campbell. "I'm so nervous and flustered because I can't believe I have met him. He said that seeing us in person was very spiritual." She met Castro with fellow model Kate Moss. Castro is a notorious ladies man who has slept with hundreds, probably thousands of women. One can only guess at a Campbell-Moss-Castro menage a trois.
"Socialism works," "explained" economist/comedian Chevy Chase. "Cuba might prove that. I think it's conclusive that there have been areas where socialism has helped to keep people at least stabilized at a certain level."
Chase's statement is as telling as any. If he, and others like him, actually believe this, then there is a sense that there is no hope. It has to speak to a commitment to a certain hope or ideal that these people want to be true so badly that they will believe it is true no matter what. When O.J. Simpson was on trial, psychologists posited that he had worked himself into a mindset in which he actually convinced himself of his own innocence. Perhaps liberals have done the same thing.
American media moguls like the president of CBS TV, the head of MTV and the editor of Vanity Fair called Cuba "romantic…soulful and sexy…" according to the New York Post.
Robert Redford, Spike Lee, Sidney Pollack, Oliver Stone, Woody Harrelson, Danny Glover, Ed Asner, Shirley MacLaine, Alanis Morissette, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Kevin Costner ventured there like pilgrims.
Costner has been rumored to fairly conservative by Hollywood standards, but he went there in 2001 for the premiere of his film, "Thirteen Days".
"It was an experience of a lifetime to sit only a few feet away from him and watch him relive an experience he lived as a very young man," Costner said. This is at least a reasonable statement.
Cultural critic David Horowitz called Redford's 1990 film "Havana", "grotesque," in its fawning of Castro. Harry Belafonte and Ted Turner promoted Castro as if he was Winston Churchill. The New York Times said of the 2002 film called "Fidel", "This is an exercise not in biography but in hero worship." In Cuba, Belafonte railed against his own country and his President. Hollywood wants Bush to end the trade embargo imposed on Cuba since 1961, but Bush will not do so until Castro honors human rights, releases political prisoners and holds free and fair elections.
"It's very sad, and I wish Steven Spielberg and Danny Glover or any of these other guys would spend a little time with some of the political prisoners in jail before they make broad stroke comments about Cuba and Cuban society," Hays said.
He said he hopes celebrities will "open their eyes" before they promote Castro's Cuba.
"Remember, this is a man who has killed tens of thousands of his own citizens," continued Hays. "He's killed over 30 Americans, he harbors fugitives from U.S. justice, he has supported terrorism and narco-terrorism throughout the hemisphere, causing untold thousands of other citizens' deaths." Castro's is a "ruthless dictatorship that denies people the freedom of speech, the freedom of press, the freedom of association…What is the problem here? Short of Saddam Hussein, it's hard to find a figure in the world that has caused more human misery than Fidel Castro."
Yet Spielberg, who produced the depiction of the German slaughter of Jews, dines with a man who slaughters Cubans and Catholics
"[Spielberg is] totally blind to gulags in Cuba. [During his recent visit to Cuba] he made no mention of the thousands of people who are harassed and imprisoned on a daily basis," Hays added.
"Part of the Hollywood mindset is an almost childlike fantasy to escape to fantasy world," said Medved, the author of "Hollywood vs. America". "The one characteristic we connect most to really successful people in Hollywood is immaturity and that fits very well into utopian paradises of various kinds, like Cuba." Celebrities become "animated by guilt…One of the ways people deal with that guilt is they become revolutionaries, and Castro is perfect for them because he is an intellectual…[Castro] is a rich guy, he's always been a rich guy, he's from the elite like most of Hollywood."
Of Spielberg's eight most important hours of his life, Medved notes, "Not the hours when he met his wife, not the birth of his children, it was the eight hours he spent with Fidel."
"It just shows that Spielberg may be a talented filmmaker, but he hasn't got any moral brains," Horowitz, a former 1960s radical, said. "They say, 'isn't it wonderful, [Cubans] are all driving these vintage cars and they keep them running.' Well, it is not so wonderful because they are too poor to get anything else." It is a "national disgrace" that has "been going on for years and years." Castro is a "sadistic monster…the longest surviving dictator in the world," yet "[Hollywood] can't tell a dictator from a Democrat or a country deliberately and systemically impoverished by its leader. These people don't know anything. It's just depressing to even talk about it. They are 'useless idiots,' if I may turn [Vladimir] Lenin's comment around."
"[Castro] has acknowledged that he personally slept with over 1,000 women...it would be fairly common for Castro to go through four or five women a day," said Medved. "For people who have invested a great deal of life proudly trying to see how many beautiful women you can conquer, there is a natural tendency to identify with Bill Clinton or Fidel Castro."
Robin Bronk is the executive director of the Creative Coalition, a liberal celebrity-based activist group whose founders include Ron Silver, Christopher Reeve, and Susan Sarandon.
"Celebrity activism is as old as [silent film actress] Gloria Swanson," she said.
"We live in a society here in the U.S. where celebrities are put out there as opinion leaders. Just as they have their agent and their manager and their publicists, they are expected to have their issue," which "if utilized the right way, there are a lot of spokespeople who are speaking on behalf of issues that are not necessarily the best spokespeople.
"Typically people in the arts tend to be more liberal and less conservative. I think it's the nature of that constituency."
Filmmaker Saul Landau disputed the "celebrities are just stupid" angle.
"How the hell is he duping them?" he said. "They've got two eyes, they've got two ears. Cuba is the king of all of Latin American countries. You don't have millions of homeless people in Cuba, you don't have 42 million people who don't have access to medical care." Cuba, he says, OUTPERFORMS the United States "when you talk about the right to food, the right to shelter, the right to a job, the right to a retirement." This is tantamount to saying that the Redwood Pop Warner team has a better football tradition than Notre Dame.
"I have not seen any evidence that he is a sadistic monster or a brutal dictator," he added. "People in Miami who are running their anti-Castro lobby, are, in my opinion, not representative of the Cubans in the country. Cuban human rights violations take the form of procedural violations. They involve legal and political rights rather than economic and social rights. They broke a lot of eggs" to achieve their goals. "It's very difficult coming from the U.S., to imagine a political leader with whom you could have an intelligent conversation. Well, I guess you could with Bill Clinton, but you certainly can't with the moron that is in there today."
Castro has a "religious aura" about him, he says. "When he comes into room, a wind follows him. He intimidates people by his very presence, he emanates, he vibrates power."
Dear Christ Almighty!
The actual Cubans who experience Castro never say anything nice about him. In the 1950s, actress Lucille Ball was suspected of having Communist sympathies, but her husband, Desi Arnaz, had none. He recounted how Communists came to his house in Cuba and burned it down because his family was successful, and that he "hates" Communism. Actor Andy Garcia is a Cuban refugee.
"Sometimes, you feel like what's really going down in Cuba is protected in a way by the American media, and it's a shame, because the truth needs to come out," Garcia told Fort Lauderdale's City Link. "People need to be aware of what's really going on down there."
Garcia's 2000 HBO movie, "For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story", profiled a jazz musician who fled Cuba for America. "For me, there's no substitute for liberty and freedom. People die for that."
"People don't have a lot of information, and when they ask me about it, I tell them about the drama of exiles, the repression, the firing squads, the horror of Communism," singer Gloria Estefan, another Cuban refugee, told Exito Online in 1997. "My whole family paid a heavy price for freedom. My father not only fought in the Bay of Pigs, he volunteered to fight in Vietnam. He fought for these same freedoms. How could I forget that Fidel Castro was the person who did me so much harm?"
In 2002-03, Castro upped his crackdown on dissidents with the speedy convictions of at least 74 nonviolent government opponents in nonpublic "kangaroo-court" proceedings. Rounded up were independent journalists and pro-Democracy activists, including reporter-photographer Omar Rodriguez Saludes, writer Raul Rivero and magazine editor Ricardo Gonzalez, who received sentences up to 27 years each.
The U.S. State Department called the actions "the most egregious act of political repression in Cuba in the last decade." Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa said that Castro's crackdown was the "natural progression of a dictatorship that has been oppressing human rights for years." The House passed a condemning resolution, 414-0, and Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders and International PEN, among others, joined the chorus of condemnation.
Castro's "one hell of a guy," was Ted Turner's response.
He is "one of the most mysterious leaders in the world," said Barbara Walters (not considered a major liberal; she got her start in public relations under Bill Safire) on ABC's 20/20.
Castro relies on "the unswerving naivete and obtuseness of the American Left, which consistently has managed to overlook what a goon he is," wrote Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen.
He is "one of the Earth's wisest people," said Oliver Stone, who also made a loving documentary of Castro that was so fawning that HBO could not run it. New York VIPs paid up to $6,500 to jet to Cuba with Yoko Ono to meet with Castro.
"It's especially ironic that press and publishing executives are paying an enormous premium to meet with a man who is busy jailing journalists and writers for being journalists and writers," Mickey Kaus commented.
But why is Hollywood so liberal? It starts with anti-Semitism, Joe McCarthy and John Kennedy, who ironically was a friend and supporter of McCarthy. Joseph P. Kennedy backed McCarthy. McCarthy dated his daughter. Bobby worked for him. JFK refused to condemn him even after he was President, calling him a great American.
It would be nice to blame Hollywood's liberalism on Joseph P. Kennedy, who seems to be to blame for many other ills of the 20th Century. He made a big splash in Hollywood and squired plenty of actresses around. When his kids grew up they gravitated toward California, which became a home away from home. With their money good looks, they fit right in among the Hollywood set.
JFK's PT legend was built by John Hersey, who married one of Kennedy's former girl friends, in the New Yorker. JFK's life, from his prep school graduation to his Congressional debut; his health, his women, his Naval career; his Pulitzer, years in the Senate, the 1960 campaign fraud; his mob ties, friendship with Frank Sinatra, affairs with Marilyn Monroe, the death of Monroe; everything in his life and the life of his family has been dissected and is known. Virtually none of it was known when he and Robert Kennedy were alive and courting votes.
The reason for this is because Kennedy was a hero of the Left. The Left controlled the media. The "job" of the Left is not to reveal truthful accounts of events that shed a bad light on heroes of the Left. Its "job" is to reveal truthful accounts of events that shed a bad light on heroes of the right. They proved to be good at it.
Had they revealed 20 percent of the truth about John Kennedy, he would not have defeated Richard Nixon in 1960. He would never have been elected President. Neither would any other Kennedy, assassinations or no assassinations. JFK likely never would have beaten John Cabot Lodge for Massachusetts Senator in 1954.
The Kennedy myth is only one example of the way the media has long dominated what America thinks. There is good news, however. In this beautiful nation we live in, Truth is available. There are numerous people who seek and discover the Truth, and for those of us who do this, it sets us free. Hallelujah.
Howard Hughes was America's richest man. Riches denote success and hard work, the American Dream. It is the opposite of Communism, and therefore related to conservatism. Such people are more likely to be members of the Republican party. Hughes was a Republican, and to make matters worse, a supporter of Richard Nixon. For all the aforementioned reasons, the press attacked him. His biographer, Charles Higham, claims he was anti-Semitic because a poet who once was supposed to have written something anti-Semitic was on his payroll at one time. The problem with this charge is that, unlike the true anti-Semitic charges leveled on Joe Kennedy, or the anti-Semitic charges that the mainstream press did not report about Hillary Clinton, Hughes was mostly sympathetic toward Jews. He had some "run-ins" with Jewish film executives, but this describes anybody who rose to any kind of prominence in Hollywood.
Anti-Semitism may be the root of the liberal media in America. Film critic Michael Medved reported that over the years, he has received "…mail from viewers and readers in all regions of the country who suspect that the disproportionate number of Jews in Hollywood leadership positions might somehow account for the alienation of the industry elite from the American mainstream. Some of these letters…" Medved writes, "…appear to be sincere attempts by basically well meaning people to understand what's gone wrong with the popular culture. Others reflect anti-Semitic attitudes of the most poisonous and pernicious variety."
Since Hollywood became a place where Jews could succeed, it became a place where they could "fight back" against the anti-Semitism that they faced. Anti-Semitism became associated with elite WASPS, who did not allow Jews in their country clubs, which in turn were associated with the Republican party. The early Communists (namely Marx) were Jewish. Since their was prejudice against Jews in America, this helps explain why many American Communists were Jewish. The fact that millions of Jews died under Communism is a troubling issue for liberal Jews. Nevertheless, Jews became influential in Hollywood and the media, and in turn the media became liberal.
No "business in the world is so firmly associated in the public mind with the Jewish people as the American entertainment industry," said Medved. Kennedy, the son of one of the most virulent anti-Semites in the country, became associated with the Civil Rights Movement, which was populated by Jewish liberals, many in the film industry. Kennedy campaigned regularly in California, where he raised funds and lent himself to the glamour and glitz of the industry. He absolutely loved it.
Kennedy also came after McCarthy. It was the rise of Kennedy which coincided with the final ending of the so-called "blacklist" that had, according to myth, prevented Hollywood screenwriters and directors from working for a few years. Through the power of film, Hollywood painted a picture of an American Gestapo, peeking into bedrooms and trampling on the civil rights of poor liberals, who, God forbid, happened to be millionaire Jewish Hollywood bigshots. Very oppressed people.
Check out some of the trash that depicts McCarthyism, and you may notice something odd. The Senators, always readily identified as Republicans, are always fictitious. They are carefully chosen for their pursed lips, pinched expressions, uptight manners and general disaffection for humanity. But they are never based on real people. They are never McCarthy. Why? Because these "events" are not based on real things that happened. It is, virtually all of it, a damnable, Orwellian lie (to borrow from Ann Coulter, author of "Treason").
Hollywood was not always liberal. D.W. Griffith's "Birth of A Nation" (1915) was downright racist, but like Leni Riefenstahl's Nazi Olympics documentary, it was brilliant. John Wayne, often directed by the patriot John Ford, portrayed cowboy heroes, dominating screens in the 1930s, '40s and '50s. "Gone With the Wind" (1939) was a fabulous, endearing portrait of the Old South that would never be made today because it "glorified" a racist society. The Hayes Codes provided standards to protect viewers from so-called "indecent" activity like pregnancy and couples sleeping with each other. J. Edgar Hoover found out that Charlie Chaplin, a British citizen, was a member of the Communist Party, and had the temerity to inform Chaplin that he knew this fact.
In 1939, Frank Capra made "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington", starring Jimmy Stewart. I have sources that tell me a film was made 10 years later that depicted the Republican as a good guy, but I could not verify it. To the best of my knowledge, "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" is the last big screen film in which the Democrat was the bad guy, and even then it is only inferred. In Capra's classic, a Midwestern political machine based on the corrupt Democrat organization in Kansas City that Harry Truman rose to power in, is exposed by an idealistic young Senator (Stewart). Claude Rains plays the Truman character. He looked just like him, and in end gives a Senate floor mea culpa of his complicity with Democrat crimes, which is highly, precisely and to quintessential effect the same one "Give 'em hell Harry" should have given, but never did. All is not lost for the Democrats, however, because Stewart is still a Democrat, and the hope for the future. In reality, the Democrats just got more corrupt, and Hollywood would be their willing ally.
Capra made hopeful family pictures like "It's A Wonderful Life", and Hollywood had a decidedly patriotic feel to it. Daryl Zanuck was an American legend, and his 1962 classic "The Longest Day", featuring an all-star cast led by Duke Wayne, holds up to this as an accurate portrayal of D-Day. After a spate of quick combat pictures after the war, however, thing had changed. Film noir became stock in trade. Movies of dark psychological character study, social conflict and post-war angst hit the scene. "The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit", starring Gregory Peck, exploited the "failure" of the American Dream. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, audiences began to see something different, but they could not quite put their finger on what it was. It was subliminal, except when it was obvious.
Since the U.S. had been allied with the Soviets in the war, it seemed natural that Hollywood would put out movies depicting the Russians in battle. Fair enough. It seemed just as fair as making movies about the British. But the Soviet war pictures were different. They were less about realistic portrayal of their courageous defense of Stalingrad, and more about the "joys" of Marxism. Movies like "Song of Russia" were pure propaganda, promoting Communism as the future. Other films would show handsome Russian soldiers in foxholes with beautiful Russian girls and wise old Russian men, spouting phrases straight out of "The Communist Manifesto" while happily killing Nazis. Gregory Peck was in such a movie, and he must have been ashamed, not just because he was doing Stalin's PR., but because it was such utterly bad cinema.
As our good friend Slim Pickens would have said, "What in the wide, wide world of sports is goin' here?" Congress noticed these clunkers and began to ask, "Who in God's name is making this stuff?" Thus was born the House Un-American Activities Committee. Hollywood of course would have the gullible public believe HUAC was created simply to make those liberal Hollywood Jews stop making liberal movies. In reality, it grew out of the Venona project, which had identified hundreds of Communists working in the Democrat State Department, the Army, and both the FDR and Truman Administrations.
The 1950s have been described as an "American reign of terror" in Hollywood. Many of those questioned about their terrible stint on the Blacklist, when pressed further, often refer to extended periods in Paris or the south of France, where they found work in the avante garde French movie business which saw its heyday in that decade, led by the work of Jean Luc Goddard. A real "Gulag Archipelago". In the meantime, American boys fighting the very Communists they sympathized with were getting their asses shot off in the Chosin Reservoir.
Based on a great novel by Allen Drury, "Advise and Consent" was a 1950s film that holds up today as one of the best political movies ever. It revolves around the nomination of Henry Fonda to be Secretary of State. The fictional account portrays Fonda, based on Alger Hiss, and his nomination raises a huge hullabaloo. In Hollywood's perfect world, Hiss/Fonda is not convicted, and a bungling Burgess Meredith plays the Whittaker Chambers character. Instead of using his Christian resolve to uncover the Truth via his "pumpkin papers," he is discredited as a liar. It also offers an insidious plot to blackmail a bi-curious Republican Senator. It is good stuff, but definitely political revisionism.
1960 was the "official" end of the Blacklist. A young director named Stanley Kubrick had made a brilliant movie about military justice, "Paths to Glory", starring Kirk Douglas in 1958. In 1960, he directed the classic, "Spartacus". "Spartacus" starred Douglas as a slave of the Roman Empire, depicting his deadly rivalry with the Roman General Crassus (played to perfection by Laurence Olivier). The film was rife with social message. The slaves who rise up against their Roman oppressors are metaphors for the working class, especially minorities, rising up against white oppression. One black slave, played by ex-football star Woody Strode, gives his life so Spartacus can live. The fact that he was black was well calculated. Dalton Trumbo, a former Communist, wrote "Spartacus". He penned it under an assumed name because he was still Blacklisted. When it came time to edit the film for release, Douglas, a huge star and its producer, made the decision to list Trumbo as the writer. His power and the film's success combined with this act ended the Blacklist. In a notorious scene that was cut from the original but has since been restored, a slave named Antoninus (Tony Curtis) bathes Crassus/Olivier. Strange wordplay about a preference between snails and oysters at first seems irrelevant until one realizes it is Trumbo's effort to introduce a homosexual theme to the story, using snails and oysters as metaphors for straight and gay love. Isn't that special?
Hollywood would employ former Blacklisted writers and directors. There were not very many of them, and only a few of them possessed real talent. But the real "end of the Blacklist" was the new direction of film content. Film was established as the most powerful medium in the world, a combination of high art and cultural media. Hollywood was going to get their licks in. Big time.
In 1962, John Frankenheimer made "The Manchurian Candidate", which starred and was produced by Frank Sinatra. The film has alternately been described anti-Communist by some, not so by others, including Frankenheimer, who was (ironically as I shall demonstrate) a close friend of Robert Kennedy's. RFK was his guest the last night of his life. Based on a 1950s novel, the film shows an Army unit in Korea, captured by the Communists, and made to endure "brainwashing" techniques, which they cannot remember except in their sleep. Lawrence Harvey wins a Congressional Medal of Honor for actions that in reality never happened, but were programmed into the mind of the unit. He is the son of a Hillary Clinton-type dragon lady, played to perfection by Angela Lansbury. Her husband, his stepfather, is Senator Johnny Iselin, a McCarthy figure. The political affiliation is a little fuzzy, but it can be assumed he is a Republican, although another Senator is viewed as an ACLU liberal, yet still a member of Iselin's party (?).
The Iselin (McCarthy) character is depicted as a buffoon and a drunkard with no redeeming qualities. He makes scurrilous accusations about Communists in the government with no proof, and when asked to name how many, arrives at the random number "52" because of an available bottle of Heinz 52 catsup. It is without a doubt a classic film, and to its credit the Communists are shown to be bloodthirsty animals. There is some confusion because Lansbury and her husband are right wing ideologues, except that it turns out Lansbury is a Communist spy, using the cover of the right to plan the assassination of a Presidential candidate. The idea is for Iselin (who is unaware of his wife's espionage?) to become President. Presumably somebody like McCarthy in the White House is the worst possible scenario for America, and plays into Moscow's hands. The shooting is to be carried out by her son, Harvey, but Sinatra gums up the works by figuring out how he was brainwashed, and catastrophe is averted in the end.
One year later, Frankenheimer was back at it with "Seven Days in May", screenwritten by "Twi-Light Zone" creator Rod Serling. Serling's "Zone's" were a masterpiece of semi-liberal social conscience. Frankenheimer seized on another 1950s novel based on the real events of 1934, in which Republican industrialists recruited Marine hero Smedley Butler to orchestrate a coup d'etat against FDR. The novel and Frankenheimer's film fictionalize the event. It was, again, one of the best movies ever made, but completely liberal. Frankly, I have to ask why in 1963 the decision was made to examine a political conspiracy from 1934 when the worst political crime in U.S. history, the stealing of the 1960 election by Kennedy over Nixon, had occurred just three years prior. The answer to that question, my friend, is blowin' in the wind.
After JFK's assassination, "The Manchurian Candidate" was pulled because it hit too close to home, but in June, 1968 RFK was staying at Frankenheimer's Malibu home the night of the California Primary. He was tired and wanted to stay there. The enthusiasm of his victory that night convinced him to make the long drive on a twisting, turning Pacific Coast Highway, up the Santa Monica Freeway to downtown Los Angeles, where Sirhan Sirhan was waiting for him with a gun at the Ambassador Hotel.
Kirk Douglas is the Butler character In "Seven Days In May", an upright Marine whose politics are explained early by a fellow officer who says to him, "I though you'd be an ACLU lawyer by now, protecting the great unwashed." Douglas describes this officer as the kind who would be better suited for an army that goosesteps. Good dialogue, though. Burt Lancaster is the right wing Air Force General and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is modeled after Curtis LeMay, although the Lancaster swagger and charisma make him far more appealing. Frederick March is President Jordan Lyman, an ardent liberal who has just signed a peace treaty with the Soviets that presumably dismantles much of our nuclear arsenal. Lancaster does not trust the Soviet will honor their end of the bargain. Therefore he is convinced they will strike and America will be lost. A U.S. Senator is in on Lancaster's plot to take over the Presidency. They make him from California just to make sure he is affiliated with Dick Nixon. Nice touch. The public is solidly against the President, fueled by a right wing radio host in a prescient script device. In the end, the "protector of the great unwashed," Douglas, foils the plot and March's speech to the D.C. press corps is met by a standing ovation. Oh, those evil militarists and Republicans.
Around this time Marlon Brando starred in "The Ugly American", which despite its title was not liberal, but proved to be prescient. It was loosely based on the friendship developed between an American fighter pilot, shot down and fighting with guerillas, and Ho Chi Minh, who was fighting the Japanese during World War II. Marlon, the former pilot-turned-PR-executive, is named ambassador to a small Southeast Asian nation modeled on Indochina. The reason he is appointed is because of his friendship with a populist leader there who the U.S. fears may be a Communist. Brando assures them the man is not one, but when he gets there he discovers the man is. Their friendship turns into mortal enmity, and America's largesse, goodwill and social conscience are thrown back at us by savage mobs roiled by Marxist ideology. The final scene shows a press conference detailing the crisis, with a businessman changing the channel on his TV to show American indifference to the world's crises. Considering what happened in Vietnam over the next years, it proved to be a real cautionary tale.
In 1964 the first of the "bomb" movies came out. Kubrick further earned his place in the pantheon of film greats with his all-time classic "black comedy," "Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned to Love the Bomb". Explaining how a movie that ends in the world obliterated by nuclear (actually hydrogen) holocaust is a comedy leads me to suggest watching it. Only then you will know. The iconoclastic Kubrick made an iconoclastic film starring the extraordinary Peter Sellers in three roles. He plays the President, a lily-livered liberal in the mold of Adlai Stevenson. He plays Mandrake, a British Royal Air Force officer, and he plays Dr. Strangelove, an ex-Nazi scientist based on Werner von Braun, although some of have suggested that they see in the madman Henry Kissinger. Kissinger was not well known when the script by Terry Southern (who later wrote "Easy Rider" but died destitute) was turned in.
The premise is that an Air Force General, Jack Ripper (most of the characters are given descriptive names), played by the Communist bohemian and Sausalito weed smoker Sterling Hayden, goes mad. He is convinced that because water is fluoridated the Communists have conspired to deprive red-blooded Americans of their "essence," their "vital bodily fluids"…their semen. For this obviously stupid (believed only by right wing wackos) reason, Ripper overrides Air Force protocol and orders his nuclear attack wing to bomb Russia back to the stone age. Of course this is meant to show that the military is filled with lunatic fringe elements with their hands on the button. In an interesting bit of terminology, the words Soviet Union are never uttered, only Russia, presumably to "humanize" all those agrarian reformers. Thought I hadn't caught that, huh? Anyway, real-life pacifist George C. Scott, playing General Buck Turgidson, discovers Ripper's plan. He is another Curt LeMay take-off, bombastic and filled to the brim with sexual testosterone that seemingly can only be released by his bikini-clad girl Friday, or by bombing the Russkies to smithereens.
A plan is hatched to inform the Communists how to shoot down the wing, in order to prevent nuclear holocaust. Turgidson thinks that is a terrible idea and that as long as the boys are on their way, they should drop their payload on the bastards. The Russian Ambassador, however, puts a crimp in those plans by informing the President that this would set off a Doomsday Machine, guaranteed to destroy all life on Earth. Turgidson laments the fact that there is a "gap" between the Soviet possession of such a device, which the Americans lack, no doubt due to liberal malfeasance. Forced by the Doomsday scenario to avoid holocaust, the Americans and Russians work together to shoot down all the U.S. planes, save one. Meanwhile, Ripper kills himself and his aide de camp, Mandrake/Sellers, discovers the recall code. But the last plane, piloted by good ol' boy Slim Pickens, is as Turgidson/Scott describes, wily enough to evade radar, while damage from a heat-seeking missile has rendered it unable to receive the recall. They make their run. Pickens makes his cowboy speech about going "toe to toe, nuclear combat with the Russkies" and emphasizes the crew, including a young James Earl Jones, is due commendations "regardless of race, color or creed." With Pickens personally releasing and riding his bomb into a Valhallic destiny, the deed is done, leaving the Doomsday shroud to envelop the Earth. All is not lost, however, because Dr. Strangelove/Sellers, messianically saluting the President as "mein Fuhrer," describes how mineshafts can be converted into underground government societies for the next 100 years. The boys all smile when Strangelove says that in order to further the human race through procreation, many more attractive women than men would have to be recruited to do "prodigious sexual work." Unfortunately, monogamy would have to be a thing of the past. The end.
"Dr. Strangelove" may be one of the 10 greatest movie ever made, but its comic message was clear: The military is not to be trusted, nuclear weapons serve no good purpose, and the Soviets are likely to be victims of our aggression. Like a number of movies, however, its political message is stilted. Reagan said it was his favorite.
In 1965, a serious nuclear movie called "Fail Safe" was released. Henry Fonda is the President. A computer glitch launches The Bomb for the U.S.S.R. Fonda cannot recall it, and apologizes to the Soviet premier. His wife is visiting New York City, and in one of the worst political decisions in Hollywood history, Fonda tells the Soviets that in order to prove to them it was an accident, he will drop a 30-megaton nuclear bomb on the Big Apple! He carries through with his decision, despite his wife's presence there. The Soviets are portrayed as suffering their fate with dignified resolve.
"To Sir With Love" was a beautiful story about a black teacher, Sidney Poitier, who overcomes racial barriers to teach West London toughs and toughettes the meaning of life. It was, literally, banned in Alabama, which was ruled entirely by…the Democrat party. In 1967, Poitier again stirred the red-necks with "In the Heat of the Night", where he plays Virgil Tibbs, a competent Philadelphia cop stuck overnight in a Mississippi town. It must be 110 degrees at night. The white boys sweat like stuck pigs while Virgil is as cool as a cucumber in a Savoy Row suit. The sheriff, Rod Steiger, is discomfited by circumstances in which Tibbs is "lent" to him to solve a murder that happens to occur when he is there. In working together, layer after layer of characterization is stripped away in marvelous fashion, through the skill of director Norman Jewison (who tells everybody he is not a Jew, he is Methodist), until understanding between the two men become a metaphor for the healing of a divided America. Very good stuff.
In 1969, John Wayne infuriated the Left with "The Green Berets", a film that made no apologies in its all-out support of America's effort in Vietnam. It was lambasted by critics, but in a very interesting sign, sold out at the box office. It plays today and while it is heavy-handed, there is little about it that rings untrue. The soldiers do not swear, complain or bastardize their uniforms like the actual guys did, but their patriotism and military professionalism was the real deal. The Communists they fight in the film are shifty little pissants. This does not deviate from the essential truth.
In 1970, two films juxtaposed each other. "Patton" was an unlikely winner of eight Oscars. The pacifist Scott for all practical purposes took his Buck Turgidson character and refined him into the real-life Patton. In interviews, Scott said he found his research of Patton revealed an unbalanced man, but on screen Scott nailed him as the vainglorious, brilliant, driven warmonger he was. Steiger was offered the role first but turned it down because it glorified war. Vietnam was absolutely at its apex. It was very surprising that Hollywood would make such a film at that time. But director Frankin Schaffner had served under Patton, and after making "The Planet of the Apes" had the clout to call his shots. The film did not get America behind the war, but it did cause Nixon to start bombing Cambodia because the Patton story convinced him to get tough. The screenwriter, oddly enough, was Francis Ford Coppola, who may have done himself a turn. Coppola was no war lover, and wrote "Patton" as a man obsessed with war ("God help me, I love it so"), deluded by visions of Napoleonic grandeur mixed with Episcopalian Christianity and karmic reincarnation. The intent may have been to show a psychotic military man, to de-mask his heroism, and this may have been what prompted Scott to play it. From page to screen there are virtually no changes, but if Coppola was trying to put down the military by showing Patton's human warts, the result was a brilliant work that now is one of, if not the most, conservative pictures ever made. Watching "Patton" stirs wonderful pride in two countries (Great Britain is prominent in the film) that were tough enough to stand up to the Nazis when the rest of the world cowered in victimhood. Karl Malden's Omar Bradley is Patton's perfect foil, as is the Bernard Law Montgomery character. The film saved Coppola, who was about to be fired as "The Godfather" director. When he won the Oscar for "Patton", it gave him too much clout to get the axe.
At the same time, Robert Altman's "M*A"S*H" came out. It, too found an audience, and truth be told many who enjoyed "Patton" enjoyed "M*A*S*H". It was just plain funny, and the anti-military theme was subtle. Altman walked a brilliant tightrope between a pro-American and unpatriotic premise. There is no doubt that Altman intended it as an anti-Vietnam movie. It was written by former Communist Ring Lardner, Jr. Lardner had been Blacklisted, and this fact featured prominently in the politics of the film's aura. It was based on a sexy paperback novel about surgeons in Korea. The film was set in Korea, yet made every possible attempt to convey the image that it was actually Vietnam. Many of the movie's set pieces were deliberately Vietnamese in nature and costume, for that very purpose. To the extent that it was unpatriotic, it subtly described "regular Army" officers as unyielding, intolerant Christians, utterly blinded by stupid jingoism. The draftees, however, are funny and attractive as they drink and love their way through a bevy of good-looking nurses, all while saving lives in the style of comic Galahads. Altman showed genius as a filmmaker. The movie avoided real controversy because it was just so darn good.
"M*A*S*H" spurred a television show that ran for years. In the 1970s it played for its time and audience. Re-runs, however, strain its credibility beyond Altman's original themes. Two doctors played the "bad guy." The first was a complete buffoon. Frank Burns was prominently identified as a Republican. He is given zero good qualities. He is ugly, a bad doctor, a coward, a racist and all-around mean SOB who cheats on his wife with Major Margaret Hoolihan, who at least is given some character. She is half-Vixen, half-Fascist, naturally Republican, a patriotic American in the "worst way," who worships the idols of war. Over the years the writers gave Margaret a little development. Very little. Burns was replaced by Major Charles Emerson Winchester, a Boston Brahmin, naturally a Republican whose father "knows Truman. He doesn't like him, but he knows him." Winchester, like Hoolihan, is allowed a touch of humanity when the liberal writers felt charitable, but generally was available for all possible bashing. Two hero-doctors anchor the show by showing their intelligence, medical skills and tolerance as direct contrasts to the war effort. The CIA is lampooned, and a military effort that in reality featured MacArthur's Inchon campaign, perhaps the most brilliant invasion in history, is also played as foolish. In the end, the TV show and the film avoid being really and actually unpatriotic because they do feature an emphasis on the basic goodness of the American spirit under stress, but you will not catch me tuned in to those old re-runs.
TV shows began to veer into social territory in the 1970s, especially "All In the Family". Carroll O'Connor played Archie Bunker, the epitome of everything liberals despise. In turning him into a cartoon character, and also because O'Connor's acting skills were extraordinary, they came close to overshooting their mark and making Bunker more popular than creator Norman Lear, a liberal's liberal, wanted him to be. Since that meant success and riches, however, Bunker was allowed to develop his own little cult of personality. Bunker liked nobody except the Republicans and Nixon. He was a New York construction hardhat, like the ones who cheered Nixon. His venom was directed at blacks, Jews, Puerto Ricans, Orientals, Europeans, Catholics, gays, Democrats, liberals, Communists, and everybody. The assumption was that he was a Protestant of English or Irish origin, but the writers wrote in his complaints for "drunken Irishmen" and "fag Englishmen." His view of God was that if you did not believe in Him you were a Communist, but beyond that little was explained. His son-in-law, Rob Reiner, ate him out of house and home, exasperating Bunker with liberal nostrums. His wife, Edith, was a dunce who did not stand up to him unless the writers decided that night's episode would feature women's rights, but the next time out she was back to her mousy self.
Bunker's "castle" was constantly invaded by a host of blacks, women, Hispanics and other minority-types from the New York "melting pot," all of them smarter than Arch and able to run rings around him intellectually. The only characters outside of Edith who stooped to his low IQ were his dumbass white bowling and lodge pals. The show worked, for one thing, because after years of racial intolerance, white America was ready to loosen up, laugh at themselves, and accept a little affirmative action comedy at their expense. It also worked because Bunker developed a cult status that Lear had not predicted. There were those who agreed with his views, and sitting at home these Joe Six-Packs spent the 1970s yelling, "You tell 'em, Arch."
"The Godfather" (1972) was a stylized masterpiece. Its auteur director, Coppola, laced it with the subtlest Leftist message that may have avoided the radar of even longtime fans who have seen the film 10 or more times. When interviewed by producer Robert Evans, Coppola said he wanted to make a movie that was a metaphor for capitalism in America. Evans told him what he could do with his metaphors, but Coppola was brilliant and an authentic Italian, a Hollywood rarity at that time. His ethnicity was considered necessary in the making of a Sicilian mob picture.
In the classic Tahoe scene of "Godfather II", Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) tells a Nevada Senator that he is just as corrupt as he is. In the first film Pacino tells Diane Keaton (Kay) that his father is no different than the President, in that they are both powerful men who have other men killed. The "family" is depicted as a corporate empire that must change with the times like a car company, only the stock in trade of the mob was the transition from prohibition booze to heroin (although Michael's goal is eventual "legitimacy"). What gives Coppola's work authentic panache, as opposed to so many heavy-handed liberal messages, is that in "The Godfather(s)", his messages have the ring of truth.
The mid-1970s saw a spate of "government conspiracy" films, all with liberal themes that emanated from Watergate. None of them were about Kennedy stealing the 1960 election. Hmm.
"Chinatown" (1974) may be the best screenplay ever written. A historical look at 1930s Los Angeles, it actually condensed events from the 1900s with events that, uh, never happened but made for good drama. Written by L.A. native Robert Towne, directed by Roman Polanski, produced by Evans and starring Jack Nicholson, Faye Dunnaway and famed director John Huston, it told the story of how Los Angeles became a metropolis. In Towne's version, Huston "owns" the L.A. Department of Water & Power with a character based on actual L.A. City engineer William Mulholland. Mulholland had orchestrated the political deal which built the aqueduct that brought water from the Owens Valley into the L.A. Basin, allowing millions of Southern Californians to keep their lawns green to this day.
The Mulholland character is "sacrificed" at the altar of greed, embodied by Huston, who secretly buys the San Fernando Valley, knowing that once the water deal is set, it will be incorporated into the city, making him a gazillionaire. It is rather cynical, although nobody suggests the L.A. "city fathers" were boy scouts. The same old theme is that capitalism and American political power are corrupt. To make sure the audience is convinced the corruption is beyond redemption, Huston is in the end found out be an insatiable, incestual monster. He plays the role so well it brings up minds-eye imagery of his real daughter, Angelica. The film is utterly beyond any criticism, regardless of political colorization. For decades, film students and screenwriters have studied it. It spawned an artistic quest to lace the screen with symbols, metaphors, backstory, and twists.
"Chinatown" seems to be the apex of the American film period, the mid-1970s. The period from 1960 to 1979 is unparalleled, but the backstory of the people who created these classics is a telling tale of why the genre leans to the Left. In the 1960s, film schools became popular. Four schools emerged, and have held their place as the place to learn the craft. In Los Angeles there was the USC School of Cinema-Television. Their first big alumnus was "Star Wars" director George Lucas. UCLA combined their film school with their drama program, so as to bring actors, writers, directors and producers together. Coppola went to UCLA along with a future rock star named Jim Morrison, who would form The Doors with another UCLA film alumnus, keyboardist Ray Manzarek.
In New York, Martin Scorsese was cutting his teeth making student films starring Harvey Keitel at NYU. Columbia rounded out the "big four."
Steven Spielberg wanted to study film at USC, but when he was turned down he had to go to Long Beach State. It worked out for him. By the late 1960s, a small society of film geniuses began to assemble on weekends at the Malibu crash pad of actress Margot Kidder. Things usually got out of hand. There were a lot of loose girls, loose drugs and alcohol. As amazing as it is to say, substance abuse actually seems to have been the fuel for the genius of that film era. Spielberg, Coppola, Scorsese, "Taxi Driver" screenwriter Paul Schrader, Dennis Hopper, Nicholson and others were regulars. The partying was out of control. A slightly "classier" version of the same thing was going on at the Beverly Hills estate of Bob Evans, which was known to the "in crowd" as Woodland.
When the drugs started getting out of hand out at Kidder's place, an impressive young Los Angeleno would quietly walk out the door, go to his car, grab his shotgun and bullets, and head out to the beach. There, he would lock and load, then fire his weapon to relieve stress out at the Pacific Ocean. The man's name was John Milius. Milius had gone to the USC Film School with Lucas. He and Coppola had formed a friendship, then a creative partnership.
Everybody who knew these "young Turks" of the new Hollywood, which included writer/directors like Speilberg, Lucas, Schrader, Towne, Polanski and Coppola, producers like Evans and Dan Brown, and actors like Hopper, Nicholson and Clint Eastwood, concluded that the most talented of them all was Milius. Milius was a conservative Republican.
Everybody excused him for that. At Kidder's, he drank beer but did not imbibe in the heavy drug use, choosing instead to satisfy his gun fancy outside. Creatively, Milius' career was hung up on a "crazy" idea he had. Away from the Hollywood crowd, Milius knew a lot of Vietnam vets. He hung out with Green Berets, Rangers, Delta guys. He never served himself, but he was fascinated by the military and soaked their stories in. They had a lot of stories to tell.
In the late 1960s, Lucas and Coppola bought into Milius' plan to actually go to Vietnam with a camera and film crazy stuff. They would bring actors, and tailor a storyline around what they saw. It was based on a movie called "Medium Cool", which had sent actors to the Democrat National Convention in Chicago, where riots broke out, then fashioned it into a feature film.
Predictably, the U.S. government was not keen to the idea of a bunch of Hollywood wannabes prancing around the 'Nam "lookin' for the shit." It never came about. Coppola's ship came in with "The Godfather". Lucas made "American Graffiti" (1973) and "Star Wars" (1977). Milius was seen as a little bit ripe. Hollywood studios were not sure what to make of this conservative war buff. The big directing gigs did not come his way, but his talent as a writer - with a conservative bent - was apparent. In 1971 he penned the classic "Dirty Harry", starring Eastwood as a San Francisco cop who has little patience for Left wing judges, bleeding heart social workers, incompetent police captains, untrustworthy mayors, and especially child-killing, torturous serial murderers.
Milius would make a fine career writing in this genre. After a few years he, Lucas and Coppola decided to do something once and for all about their "Vietnam movie." Milius sat down and wrote "Apocalypse Now". The film began shooting in the Philippine jungles in 1975, and experienced more legendary problems than any film this side of "Heaven's Gate". For four years, it rained. Harvey Keitel was fired and replaced by Martin Sheen, who had a heart attack. Marlon Brando was overweight, overpaid and only would work for a few weeks. The Marcos government had to rescind their promise of loaning their helicopters because they needed them to fight those pesky Communist guerillas.
When the film was released in 1979, it bore only slight resemblance to Milius' original script. Years later, some of his personal vision was restored in a redux version, but the film morphed into something other than what Milius had hoped it to be. In "Hearts of Darkness", a documentary about the making of "Apocalypse", Milius laughed at how Coppola almost lost his mind in the jungle. He compared him to Hitler, sending armies into Russia without enough gas, as if will alone would win the day. Slowly Milius script was cut, pasted and changed around. His original described highly professional American intelligence and Special Forces operations, spelling out his vision of how the U.S. could have won the Vietnam War if they had been allowed to fight it all-out. Coppola's version became a dark look into the soul of madness. While the Brando character (Colonel Kurtz, based on Joseph Conrad's missionary Kurtz character, who "becomes God" among native Africans) spells out his strategy on how the U.S. could have won in the 'Nam, it is distinctly different from Milius'. Milius described legitimate warfare, while Brando/Kurtz said the only way we could have won would have been to commit the same kind war crimes and acts of genocidal terror as the Communists.
"Apocalypse" is a great film, one of the classics of all time, but nobody studies it at West Point. The Milius version might just have been given such a look-see. In 1984, Milius wrote and directed "Red Dawn", starring Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen. It describes a joint Communist Cuban/Soviet invasion of the Rocky Mountains. Aside from its Cold War warning, it was an ode to the gun lobby. In an early scene, a pick-up truck has a bumper sticker reading "You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers." A Communist soldier then pries a gun from the hands of a dead Colorado resident. A group of high school football players who had been taught how to hunt, fish and live off the land by their dad, take to the mountains and form a guerilla unit, attacking the Communist occupiers in series of daring raids. In the end, the Communists are defeated and World War III is won. The high school boys are memorialized for their courage and daring in the early, dark days of the fight for freedom.
"The Wind and the Lion" was a beautiful Milius film and story, with a pulse-pounding sound track. Brian Keith plays Teddy Roosevelt, who orders U.S. troops to Morocco to protect U.S. interests, as well he should have. Candice Bergen is an American socialite, kidnapped by a roguish Arab sand pirate, played by Sean Connery. The film is much more story, character rivalry and romance than history, but it does not hand us any of the usual garbage portraying the U.S. as racist exploiters. Instead, America under Roosevelt is portrayed as a modern power, unafraid to flex its muscles, but not willing to go overboard.
Milius writes and directs to this day. He has a tremendous love of history, a conservative trait. The reason for this is simple. History is the accurate description of great things done by conservatives. No wonder we love history. He is not the household name that Speilberg, Coppola or Lucas are. He says he is comfortable with the decisions he made, which were to be up-front about his politics regardless of whether it cost him. He freely admits that his conservatism indeed did prevent him from the kind of greatness that he was capable of.
The conspiracy movies included two fictional stories, "Marathon Man" and "The Parallax View", as well as the Watergate movie, "All the President's Men" (which Robert Redford produced after giving long consideration to a movie about how Kennedy stole the 1960 election…not!).
"Marathon Man" was directed by John Schlesinger, written by the great William Goldman (based on his novel), and produced by Bob Evans. Goldman, along with Towne, is considered one of the best screenwriters of all time. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1968) is an original screenplay that gets as much study as "Chinatown", and his book "Adventures in the Screen Trade" is a must-read for industry insiders. "Marathon Man" stars Dustin Hoffman as a Columbia doctoral student, obsessed with his thesis about his father, who committed suicide when he was "victimized" by McCarthyism. His brother is Roy Scheider, a super-secret agent for an organization that handles, apparently, what the FBI cannot and the CIA will not. His pal is William DeVane, and he is in league with the devil, a former Nazi dentist named Christian Zsell (played to perfection by Laurence Olivier), based on Joseph Mengele. Zsell is also known as the "White Angel". The plot revolves around millions of dollars worth of diamonds, smuggled to the U.S. by Zsell with DeVane's (and Sheider's) help. Hoffman accidentally gets involved and foils the plot. It is brilliant stuff in every way, shape and form, but coming on the heels of the Church hearings, the film plays on the public's belief that the CIA is corrupt, bent more on money and power than protecting the interests of freedom. The anti-hero is Hoffman. The backstory of his persecuted Jewish father strengthens the myth that fine liberals of conscience were the victims of the McCarthy witch-hunt. Like all films depicting McCarthyism, the victim is fictional and there are no scenes based on real events. This is because actual scenes of actual "victims," if they hold to the truth, will show actual Communists being caught in lies by public officials using perfectly normally and legal techniques of American justice.
"The Parallax View" was big liberal Warren Beatty's attempt to describe a similar conspiracy involving shadowy government agencies. It is entertaining and worth watching, but misses the mark. Beatty seems to be trying to piece together an explanation on how, or even who, killed Kennedy. "The Manchurian Candidate" may have inspired him. Beatty plays a journalist who goes undercover, allowing himself to be recruited by the Parallax Corporation, presumably a CIA front that trains assassins. His psychological profile is determined in part by watching a disturbing montage of scenes, ranging from love, sex and patriotism to war, gore and devil worship, mixed with the juxtaposition of wealth vs. need. The point seems to be that people go hungry while rich America has sex and kills people?
"All the President's Men" (1976) was Robert Redford's breakthrough from pretty boy star to filmmaker with clout. Redford, a former baseball player at L.A.'s Van Nuys High School whose classmates were Dodger Hall of Fame pitcher Don Drysdale and the sex angel Natalie Wood, had been typecast by his looks and blonde hair into Malibu beach boy roles early on. This offended his sensibilities as an artist. Redford is in some ways the patron saint of liberal movie stars, and his story is a common one. He is no Dumbellionite, even though he never went to college. Like so many, he was drawn like a bee to honey to the theatre, trekking to New York as a teenager. His liberal views apparently were formed in his youth, growing up in the Mexican section of Santa Monica and seeing racism up close (at least, that is the story he tells). His lack of formal education in no way speaks to a lack of political knowledge, but his success and looks speak to a certain amount of good luck while others his age were in Southeast Asia. This very likely created a guilt complex that Redford, a star with an ego, could not manifest upon himself, so he found a culprit in this country, which had provided him a forum to achieve so much.
Redford was behind the entertaining political movie "The Candidate" (1972), which goes a long way towards explaining how the game works. This film is really not a liberal one, which is what makes it worthwhile even after 30 years. It is supposed to be based on Edmund "Jerry" Brown, former California Governor Pat Brown's son. Jerry Brown at the time was a youthful Secretary of State who would go one to two terms as Governor. He was a new kind of pol, attractive, a bit of swinger who dated rock star Linda Rohnstadt, and representative of the Golden State image of the 1970s. They called him "Governor Moonbeam".
Redford plays the son of the former Governor of California, played by Melvyn Douglas. The old man is old school all the way, having schmoozed his way up the slippery slope through implied corrupt deals with labor unions and other Democrat special interests. Redford is a young man who played football at Stanford and is now a social issues lawyer of the pro bono variety, helping Mexicans in Central California. Peter Boyle knew him at Stanford and is now a Democrat political consultant who recruits Redford to run for Senator against Crocker Jarman, an entrenched conservative Orange County Republican. Jarman could be Reagan, but he is as much a composite of the traditional Republican: Strong on defense, down on affirmative action and welfare, a real "up by the bootstraps" guy who emerged from the Depression and World War II to make up our "greatest generation."
The film does an about-face on perceptions that, in many cases, turn out to be true. Redford is the rich kid with connections. Jarman beat the Depression like the rest of the U.S., without a social worker.
"How did we do it?" he mocks.
Redford's film wife is played by Karen Carlson, pure eye candy (but what happened to her career I cannot say?). She has ambitions of her own, and pushes him to do it because he has the "power," an undefined sexual charisma of the JFK variety. Redford plays a caricature of himself, handsome but considered an empty suit. His deal is he can say any outrageous thing because he cannot win anyway, and in so doing shows he has the brains. When he creeps up in the polls, the idealism gives way to standard politicking, complete with deals with his old man's crooked labor buddies. He wins, demonstrating the power of looks and TV advertising. In the end he expresses that he is not prepared for the task.
He then made a clunker called "The Way We Were" with Barbra Streisand that desperately tried to explain, apologize for, justify, glorify and approve of being an American Communist during McCarthyism, but just plain fails. He made the 1973 classic "Three Days of the Condor" (1973), with Cliff Robertson and Faye Dunnaway. He plays a CIA reader, a kind of pre-Tom Clancy research guy, a benign fellow among other benign CIA fellows, all of whom are murdered in a fuzzily explained hit by bad CIA fellows. After escaping, Redford tries to get to the bottom of it. Since he is a genius he has the intellectual tools to outwit his chasers. This is the film's highlight, revolving around the sexual tension between Redford and the redoubtable Faye, who he "kidnaps" in order to have a place to hide out, her apartment. The movie goes off the deep when the whole conspiracy turns out to be about the CIA's covert operations in the Middle East, where the U.S. apparently is planning the invasion (that never actually occurred) to take over OPEC. The message is that The Company murders innocents, the U.S. is a warmongering empire, and tool of capitalist greed. It is Redford's answer to Guatemala, Iran and Chile, where the people killed were generally Communists. Redford would rather show the CIA killing Chinese- and African-Americans and other non-threats.
"All the President's Men", based on the book by Woodward and Bernstein, was impossible to resist for Redford. Nixon! Oh boy! Again, Hollywood passed up the Kennedy-stole-the-election story. What a shock! You have to hand it to these guys, though; they have talent. "President's" was masterful, thanks in large part to Goldman, who knew how to condense the story. Redford tried to play it close to the vest, and comes close to making it come off as straight and narrow. The actual truth portrayed betrays the lack of objectivity, however, at the Washington Post. Redford is Bob Woodward, a former Navy officer and a Republican. This is revealed to Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) who gives him a furtive look upon learning this shocking truth. Jason Robards is Ben Bradlee, the Post's editor. We all know the story: The DNC is broken into by Cubans with White House phone numbers in their address books, and in investigating the burglary Woodward and Bernstein suspect a larger plot, which they uncover through dogged journalism that cannot be denied. The two writers are shown to be complete heroes. Hal Halbrooke plays "Deep Throat", the White House insider who gives Woodward the leads he needs to keep investigating. To this day his identity is unknown, and it remains entirely plausible that he was invented out of whole cloth.
The story is the story, and there is no room for liberal bias in that. To Redford's credit, he does not demonize the Republicans or sermonize. Implicit threat against the pair are made, but not expanded into anything. G. Gordon Liddy did volunteer to "off" Jack Anderson for revealing CIA assets in the U.S.S.R., but there is no evidence that Nixon's Republicans ever thought about blowing Woodward and Bernstein away. Domestic political murders, as best as I can tell, are the province of the Democrats. Even in Oliver Stone's "JFK", it is Lyndon Johnson who supposedly was in on the plan to kill the President.
The bias in "All the President's Men" is subliminal, but leave it to yours truly to see it. First, there is the acronym CREEP, which stands for Committee to Re-elect the President. There have been numerous such committees over he years, and they always go by the acronym CRP. But Woodward and Bernstein turned it into CREEP. Gotcha. There is also a scene in which Bradlee, who in real life was a drinking buddy (and God knows what else) of Kennedy's, getting the news that the story is progressing and has real legs.
"You run that baby," he tells Woodward and Bernstein, then does little jig as he leaves the office. This is telling. Redford and director Alan Pakula allowed it, probably because it let them impart their own happiness over Nixon's downfall through the character. In another scene, Robards/Bradlee tells the reporters, "There's not much riding on this. Just the First Amendment and the Constitution of the United States."
Now just hoooold on there, Ben. Was Watergate really about the Constitution? Was that august document threatened? This begs the question, Where was Bradlee and Post publisher Katherine Graham when the Constitution really was threatened by their pal JFK, who stole the 1960 election? Where were they when their pal Bobby Kennedy was wiretapping Martin Luther King? Democrat operatives had to break into homes, hotels and offices to wiretap Dr. King just as the Plumbers had to break into Dr. Fielding's office, and Larry O'Brien's. A free press is undoubtedly the cornerstone of Democracy, but it functions best when it is not populated by over-inflated egos who think they are the soul arbiter of freedom of expression.
My former editor at the San Francisco Examiner was a die-hard, old school liberal (in San Francisco?!). He once informed me that in his opinion he would rather have a free press than the right to vote, which is the very heart and essence of the liberal elite agenda. Of course he feels that way, he has all the power. He had risen to the top of a profession dominated by liberals, which gave liberalism all its power. Voting? Who needs voting when you have smart, educated liberals like him to tell the masses what to think? Such perfidy.
I informed this "man" that I would take the free vote over the free press. When push came to shove, I liked the tradition of "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine, the way pamphlets and knowledge were passed from town to town during the Revolution, spreading the intoxicating power of freedom. The British controlled the press, the government and the military, but the people controlled their ideas. When that editor discovered I was a Republican (in San Francisco) he almost had a seizure. He has since been discredited, which was not the first time that occurred in his checkered career. Free press? Free to lie about conservatives.
"The Missiles of October" starred William DeVane as JFK and Martin Sheen as RFK. Both of these actors portrayed the Kennedys better than any actors ever have. This is a patriotic film that depicts how close we came to nuclear combat toe to toe with the Russkies, and how the Kennedys saw us through the crisis. This may have been the beginning of Sheen's political awakening. He is an interesting character, liberal to the core but vastly different from the rest of the Hollywood Left.
Sheen's son, Charlie, who wrote the foreword to my biography of "Barry Bonds: Baseball's Superman" (www.sportspublishingllc.com, 2002) is actually a bit on the conservative side. Martin gets his liberalism from the Catholic religion. He was apparently like many other young celebs in fleshpot land in the 1970s; good-looking and hedonistic. While filming "Apocalypse Now" he had a heart attack, induced by his bad habits and the stress of filming that monster. This was an epiphany for him. He returned to the Catholicism of his Ohio upbringing.
There is no doubt Martin's liberalism is based in part on the enormous guilt he felt, first because that is what Catholics are made to feel, but more important because he knew his money and fame was a fleeting thing. Of course he had earned it, but like so many in the entertainment business, it had not been the result of a controlled plan. Entrepreneurs and most other successful people plot a life strategy, follow it, work hard and achieve their goals. Actors are subject to the fickle fates of producers' and agents' whims. Almost all of them look at struggling impresarios in the employment lines and the acting schools and say (to themselves), "There but for the grace of God <well, maybe not God> go I."
Sheen does believe in God. Those who have worked with him tell stories about his devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ. At every break, he approaches people with his Bible and the story of his Savior. Sheen is a man who asks, "What would Jesus do?" As discussed earlier, there are many aspects of Christ's life that seem socialist. This has been used by many to justify Communism as real Christianity. This approach loses luster when one studies history and economics (read Adam Smith), and determines that the best producer of wealth, which allows more boats in the water to rise with the tide, is the marketplace, not Communism.
Sheen may see a world in which companies like Chevron, Arthur Andersen and Bechtel are peopled by Benedictine Monks who produce the engine of wealth in the name of Christ. It is a utopian vision and one I am not here to criticize, but at some point folks need to make their decisions in the real world. One asks whether Christ, if he were President, would bomb targets in Baghdad, or worse, Dresden or Nagasaki. The first, obvious answer seems to be, Of course not. But if Christ were President, charged with stopping Saddam from killing thousands and Hitler from killing millions, and He knew that killing thousands would save thousands more on our side as well as theirs, and He did not have access to his supernatural powers, would He not do the same thing that FDR, Truman and Bush did?
Now I am definitely not going to say what He would do. I do not have the ability to make that prediction. He would be smarter and wiser than any human and probably come up with an answer we have never thought about. But Martin Sheen has no more access to Jesus' motives than I do. Furthermore, Sheen is a man who does things by symbol, understandable considering the iconography of his religion. He has accepted the wealth of his profession, living in a palatial Malibu estate. Occasionally, he shows up at a homeless shelter, where he sleeps on the street for a night, or works the soup kitchen, then returns to Malibu. With all due respect, does this really help anybody?
He gives a lot of money to charity. Good for him. He is a pacifist, which is fine, but this principle must be tempered by a reality about the world we live in. The freedoms that we cherish are protected by our power, which we have to fight for. At this point, America is pretty secure, but the world has many insecure places. We go there and have to do some pretty rough things to some pretty bad actors in order to make it safe for others. Sheen himself expresses admiration for Dwight Eisenhower, so there is hope for him. Ike was no pacifist. He understood that peace comes through strength. When it is all said and done, I like Martin Sheen, think he is an awesome talent, and respect his passion. That goes for many liberal activists. I actually have more respect for those who care, speak out, put their opinion on the line and have a social conscience - whether I agree or not - than with slackers who just live off the fat of the land with little knowledge or understanding of the world they exist in. In Sheen's case his Christianity is a big plus and beats the heck out of the karmic vicissitudes of many of his morally irrelevant cohorts.
In 1976, Martin Scorsese directed "Taxi Driver", starring Robert DeNiro. Calling this a "conservative" movie is a stretch, but it is a prescient look at New York attitudes that preceded the age of Giuliani. Paul Schrader wrote it. His story is a hoot in and of itself. He and his brother were raised in a strict Calvinist Pennsylvania family, emphasizing the strictest tenets of Scripture and absolutism. The Calvinists are big on pre-ordained destiny. Released from this environment, he came to Hollywood and tried everything. Naturally, he was a mess; a drug addict, an alcoholic and a heterosexual so confused he tried homosexuality just…to try it. Given the assignment to write a screenplay, he was holed up in a downtown L.A. hotel for weeks, then months. He had little social contact except occasional taxi rides to restaurants in and around L.A.'s skid row. He began to see the world from inside the taxi, and came up with a character and a plot revolving around the concept.
DeNiro's Travis Bickle is a Vietnam Marine vet, off kilter but moral, who is sickened by the crime, drugs and immorality of 1970s New York City, seen from the taxi he drives night and day. He has an ill-fated fling with a pretty campaign worker (Cybil Shephard), goes off the deep end and portrays himself as a possible assassination threat to a Presidential candidate, although this is never fleshed out. In the end, he commits an act of vigilantism to save the life of a teenage prostitute with potential (Jodie Foster), and like in "Death Wish" (Charles Bronson), is made a hero.
The message of "Taxi Driver" is that peace comes from strength. It was a popular theme in a number of flicks. Hollywood seemed to fail to grasp some important realities about its marketplace. Time after time, movies that veered away from "touchy feely" liberalism and gave teeth to conservative characters (Eastwood's "Dirty Harry", Bronson, DeNiro, and others) made boffo box office, yet the industry has never come to grips with itself. They return time after time to premises that insult conservative audiences, and wonder why the lines get shorter.
An example is "The Deer Hunter" (1978), starring DeNiro. The film breaks numerous rules in terms of length of time and attention to detail. It can truly be called art. Small town values of American patriotism, loyalty and religious faith hold a sad story of native sons ruined in the 'Nam. The Communists are shown for what they were, savage beasts with no redeeming value. The film is an enduring monument in film history and made huge coin, but its "failure" to hue to the liberal line, especially on the nasty subject of U.S. involvement in Vietnam, made enemies for it director, Michael Cimino. When Cimino made another bid for artistic greatness, falling short with "Heaven's Gate", Hollywood turned on him in a way they never would have if his failures were liberal failures. Directors like Woody Allen are allowed to make boner after boner because they all are peppered with potshots at conservatism, Republicans, McCarthy and Christianity. How charming he is.
As if to counter-balance "The Deer Hunter", good old Jane Fonda starred in "Coming Home" (1978) with Jon Voight. Saved by the pure benevolence of American goodwill from a treason trial, she was allowed to pursue her craft (she is excellent at it). "Coming Home" seemed to be the realization of the self-fulfilling prophecy she created in 1972. It was that year that she traveled to Hanoi, the heart of America's enemy, and allowed herself to be posed on Communist tanks, wearing an army helmet. It was blatant "aid and comfort" provided to an enemy during a time of war. Jane did not stop there. Like a modern day Tokyo Rose, she got on the radio and told the troops their wives and girlfriends were having sex with hippies and protestors back home. To this day, the G.I.s have never forgiven "Hanoi Jane". She tried to apologize and say she was wrong, but her heart was never in it.
Eventually she married CNN founder Ted Turner, a man who may not be the anti-Christ (but may be), and may not have achieved his success by invoking Satan (but may have). When Turner saw CNN employees adorned in "ashes" to worship Ash Wednesday, he went ballistic about "Jesus freaks" in his employ. Such a crime! Jane, in the first move she ever did that I liked (other than wearing skintight sex clothes in her hot-selling workout vids), declared she was a "born again Christian." That was the last straw for Turner, who divorced her. There is no word on whether Christianity took in Jane's life, but I wish her well.
In "Coming Home", she portrays the very cheating wife she described to the boys in her "Hanoi Jane" days. She tries to pepper the performance with an apology to her officer husband, Bruce Dern, but it ends up being more of an explanation, which in light of what we know about Vietnam does not wash. Two thumbs down.
In 1984 Sam Waterston starred as New York Times reporter Sidney Scheinberg in "The Killing Fields". Clint Eastwood was offered the role, but turned it down. He said it was because he is a "Western WASP," not an East Coast Jew, but he probably ran from it because he is a Republican and knew that Scheinberg had been a biased Vietnam reporter and did not want to promote that. Scheinberg filed numerous reports advocating the message that the U.S. was not doing the right thing in Vietnam. The early part of the film promotes the liberal myth that it was U.S. bombs and U.S. aggression that created the situation in Cambodia. The perfidy of such a concept is mind-boggling. The U.S. did create the situation in Cambodia, because it was U.S. Democrats, led by Chappaquiddick Teddy, who de-funded the South Vietnamese until they collapsed. Then they have the bluster to tell the world, using their powerful friends in the film industry, that the Cambodian holocaust was not because they disarmed the forces of freedom, but because the Communists were incensed at American crimes, therefore justifying their rampages of mass murder against innocent civilians. Is there some alternate Universe in which this can be true. Answer: No.
However, like a fair number of films that liberals make, "The Killing Fields" ends up promoting a semi-conservative message when it gets into truthful events that cannot be portrayed any other way. Pol Pot's murder of Cambodia is undeniable. In putting it on film, it simply speaks for itself. There is little to conclude in walking out of the theatres that showed "The Killing Fields" beyond the simple conclusion that, "Communists killed millions of people," which is a fact that does not allow for much leeway. Leftists still try to find that leeway, however.
When Ronald Reagan became the President, a shift to conservatism occurred in Hollywood and the media. Hustler founder Larry Flynt flirted with Christianity, but it did not take. When his editors suggested that the Reagan mood should portend more "family friendly" fare, Flynt fired that messenger and went from sick and disgusting to really hardcore porn (which is better than sick and disgusting). He aligned himself against the Republicans, who were asking 7-11s to keep their porn mags away from minors (a move since described by liberals as tantamount to Stalinist censorship). In 1998, Flynt became the mouthpiece of the Democrat party, a de facto Clinton spokesman and unofficial public relations firm for the DNC. In 2003 he decided to run for Governor of California as a Democrat. While his intentions may be to benefit the Democrats, he could not have harmed them more. Republicans need say nothing about this fact. It exists for what it is, on it face. Republicans just smile and say, "Hey, you Democrats, you can have Larry Flynt." They have him and he has them. A mariage made in…?
Res ipsa loquiter.
"Top Gun", starring Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer in 1986, was a glamorous showcase film for the Navy. Actual Navy recruiters set up shop in theatre lobbies, signing up young hopefuls filled with visions of drinking beer while singing "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'", making afternoon delight with Kelly McGillis, while tear-assing through the skies like a bat out off freedom.
Vietnam backlash films like "Death Before Dishonor" and "Rambo" depicted buffed-up U.S. supermen gaining celluloid revenge against those pisspoor Commie rats. "Missing", starring Jack Lemmon, told a different story about an American lost to the death squads of a Latin American dictatorship propped up by the Nixon/Kissinger government. The message is simple: America is as evil as Communism because we get in bed with bad guys who oppose Communism. It gives no credence to the torture rooms and gulags of Communism throughout the globe. For years the liberal media said that as many as 300,000 went "missing" under Chile's Augusto Pinochet. Apparently, according to records available after the peaceful governmental transfer of power over a decade ago, the figure is less than 3,000. Still human rights abuses, but not genocide that places Pinochet in the same boat with Stalin or Idi Amin.
Then came "Platoon". How to explain Oliver Stone? First of all, he is, in my humble opinion, still the mot talented director in the game, even though he no longer is the hottest of properties. He has a knack for telling stories through symbols, metaphors, light and color, expressions, black-and-white imagery, sound effects and cuts that is truly revolutionary. Stone has been described as a personally repugnant human being; a liar, a cheat, a drug addict, an evil and brutal personality, somebody who may have invoked the devil to give him his fame and fortune. If so, he made a good deal in terms of creating product, because like him or hate him, Stone's work is first rate.
His interviews reveal an erudite, Cosmopolitan man who can turn on the charm, which belies the stories of repelling sex harassment that is really molestation. There is no question that he is intelligent, and there is also no question that unlike most of his colleagues, he can walk the walk as a Marine, having served in Vietnam.
This is supposed to be what authenticates him, and it certainly is a bona fide, but his fellow Marines have, at the very best, mixed feelings about the message he conveys. Stone came from affluence in suburban New York, went to Vietnam presumably out of patriotism, and was devastated by the experience. He became a total radical, driven stark mad by drug use, and fell hook, line an sinker into the counter-culture while at NYU's film school, circa 1970. Stone regularly talked about attaching a long scope to a rifle and "taking out Nixon," but apparently the Secret Service never heard of his Travis Bickle-like fantasy.
In 1976 he wrote "Midnight Express", a great film starring Brad Davis as an American college student imprisoned in Turkey for trying to smuggle heroin. It is a dark tale about human depravity that played to its 1970s audience of dropouts and drug abusers. It can be argued that it justified drug smuggling, but that would not be entirely accurate. It was just a strong piece about the will to survive, with a triumphant Hollywood ending.
In 1980, Stone made "Salvador", which was an amazing feat. It was political commentary on America's "evil" backing of right wing oppressors stomping poor Communist agrarians, but it was also a comedy, allowing for tour de force performances by James Wood and Jim Belushi. Woods is a down-and-out photo/journalist who captures the story. Belushi is his drinking companion who urges him to go to El Salvador not because a story is begging to be told, but because "you can drink and drive there."
Stone shopped "Platoon" around for years in various forms, advertising it as the experience of someone who had been over there. It was not an easy sell, since the story was too raw for a country trying to overcome the Vietnam syndrome, then fueled by the Reagan patriotism. It finally was made in 1986, and was hailed for its realism. It made stars out of Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, and Willem Dafoe. The realism is apparent in the language, the scenery, the heat and bugs, the sweat and toil, the "Cox's army" adherence to what was left of Army uniforms and equipment, the danger of night patrols and firefights, and the courage and the cowardice of regular guys doing one-year draft tours of "the 'Nam."
The essential story is only true if it describes William Calley and My Lai, or what that could have been if the villagers had been saved by a Messianic Sergeant Elias (Dafoe) instead of being gunned down by a Satanic Barnes (Berenger as a Calley knock-off). If Stone had simply made it the "My Lai Massacre", it would have been historically accurate, but what he did was pernicious. He wanted to convey to millions of moviegoers that My Lai was the norm, and he cast this ordinary platoon of grunts as driven to a My Lai-type war crime by the very nature of his view of our illegitimate role in Vietnam.
Stone was in Vietnam and I was not, but the history of Vietnam is not a history of ordinary units run amok in racist killing sprees. Stone infuses the story with humanity and heroes. Sheen plays Chris, an idealist, based on Stone's vision of himself. Want a fact? Here is a fact. Oliver Stone is not in the same league with the idealized Chris character. He is not a pimple on Chris's rear end.
Chris is a hero and a survivor. Dafoe, as Elias, is a Christ-like figure who protects his "brothers" and shows no fear, even when chasing "Charlie" into that most dangerous of places, the underground tunnel system. His death, portrayed on the posters, is a wide-armed crucifix, and it is avenged by Chris, his disciple who takes to the challenge with the passion of the converted. A final battle also shows something that rarely, if ever, happened. North Vietnamese regulars overrun the Americans. In actuality, they won all the battles against the NVA. Then, the commander has to make a call and have the whole "pod," friend and foe alike, napalmed in another stretch on history.
Berenger and his "super lifer" pals are shown to be corrupt, have a taste for death, and little accountability in a situation that lets them kill "gooks" with racist impunity. This is not out of the question. Soldiers are trained killers, and combat de-humanizes them. The Audie Murphy characterizations are not true, either. But Stone has created a vision of the Vietnam experience that is not portrayed as a special circumstance, but rather the average, the every day. His political message is very clear, and it is to discredit the objectives of the war. He also discredits a lot of his buddies who fought with him. He does demonstrate the inhuman behavior of the Communists, which as a combat Marine he saw for himself, but strongly urges the viewer to buy into the sickness of America.
In 1987 he again starred Charlie Sheen, this time as Bud Fox, along with Martin Sheen and Michael Douglas, in "Wall Street". Stone, like Coppola's "Patton", tapped into a part of America he really wanted to discredit, but instead glorified. Based on the go-go stock markets of the Reagan '80s, it is loosely based on inside arbitrageurs and junk bond kings like Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken. Fox/Sheen is an idealistic, ambitious young stockbroker, his father is his conscience, and Douglas as Gordon Gekko is pure tantalizing temptation. Fox must violate SEC laws and get inside information in order to do business with the "big elephant" Gekko. Gekko's star fades when a big deal-gone-bad has personal ramifications, and Fox turns a dime on him. The film is supposed to show that America is a greedy place that "produces nothing" in a "zero sum game" in which the rich only make money on the backs of the poor. Gekko's (Stone's) statements about economics are pure, unadulterated economic lies shown to be lies simply by…observing factual things. Where Stone may have had second thoughts was the reaction the film got. As the years went by, he and others were approached countless times by Young Republicans and Wall Street execs who told him the depiction of the exciting world of finance led them into that very career, which they thanked him for! Stone had hoped to create an egalitarian class. Instead, he created a decade full of Gordon Gekkos. They in turn fueled the dot-com boom. It was not unlike the Democrats who hoped to expose Oliver North and the Republicans in the Iran-Contra "scandal," only to discover that millions thought Ollie and his White House pals were doing God's work in fighting Communism.
Res ipsa loquiter.
In 1989 Stone came out with "Born on the Fourth of July", the true story of Ron Kovic, a gung-ho Marine who is paralyzed in combat in Vietnam. The film is realistic and compelling. Stone is a master and Tom Cruise as Kovic gives one of his best-ever performances, proving him to be a bona fide acting talent. The film depicts the heartbreaking American experience in Vietnam, and the character arc of Kovic is as complete as any ever captured. He returns home, desperate to believe that his sacrifice was in a noble cause, but this is chipped away by the well-known elements of '60s radicalism. The "generation gap" between longhaired youths and crew cut, religious parents is profound. Kovic sinks into the depravity of drugs and alcohol, but battles back to become a "hero" of the anti-war Left. He wheels into the 1972 Republican National Convention, where he tries to tell the clean-cut, well-heeled patriots that they are wrong and he is right. The idea is that they are all warmongers who have not fought, while he is a pacifist because he has. While there is truth to the premise, in choosing to tell this story, Stone establishes Hollywood as the home of solidly liberal ideas. In 1972, Nixon won 49 states over the ant-war McGovern. The idea that all those Americans, subject daily to reports from Peter Arnett and Dan Rather, the bias of Walter Cronkite, and the hate of the New York Times and the Washington Post, chose Nixon because they were bloodthirsty imperialists is just malarkey. Furthermore, Nixon had made 18-year olds eligible to vote. The concept that all of American youth protested in the streets is a myth. The anti-war movement was propped by TV that made pockets of outrage look like a widespread movement. The Silent Majority spoke out in '72. Big time.
Stone's depiction is fair in and of itself, but he takes advantage of the power of his medium in creating a mindset that such horrors as Kovic experienced are just part of the "Vietnam experience." Kovic's life mirrors soldiers going back to the Roman Legion and beyond. The Left has taken Vietnam as one of those core issues and stuck to it, just as they found themselves wedded to Alger Hiss, Bill Clinton and now the losing side of the War on Terrorism. McCarthy was going after genuine Communists, and genuine Communists were trying to enslave South Vietnam. It took some fighting to stop them. Nixon and Kissinger had the best plan available to them at the time, and the public recognized it. Watergate killed them and the Democrats used it to abandon our allies. Millions died because of them. Democrats will have you believe that we "created" the "killing fields." They have to say things like that, to cling to this nebulous theory, somehow unable to blame the rabid haters and murderers of Communist history, apparently because they are wedded to McCarthyism. Their movies are their best tool in perpetuating their lies. Not on my watch.
In 1991 Stone made his great bid, created a masterpiece, but in so doing laid himself out. A career that could have been the best ever was short-circuited, although one can give him begrudging credit for "trying." The movie was "JFK". It was an artistic achievement of light, shadow and hidden meaning, told through the symbiosis of different film styles. A great filmmaker could only have accomplished the mood it creates. It is a spiritual work.
But "JFK's" conspiracy premise is so over-the-top that it created a cartoonish cloud used to box Stone in. Stone did a lot of research and packs a mighty wallop in his attempts to "solve" or "answer" the Kennedy assassination mystery. He took some huge risks, came fairly close to pulling it off, but in the end did something to himself he must regret. He made himself uncredible. What he thought would happen is anybody's guess. Stone probably was so flush with success, Hollywood panache and faith in the power of film that he thought he could replace the legitimate historians. "JFK's" lesson is that a movie is still a movie - two or three hours of persuasive imagery, yes - powerful and compelling, but not fact. For years, Hollywood has promoted their causes in this manner, and yet the populace has shifted to the right. This frustrates them because they have no answer to this "problem." The proof of this is that the movies are and always will be the province of entertainment. When the Oliver Stone's try to rise above that they face a precipitous fall.
What really has set the Left back is not just the failure of the film medium to accomplish their goals, but also the lack of faith accorded college professors, school textbooks, and mainstream news. So who is left to tell the real story?
Weeeeeell, my friends, we are out there. We have been waiting in the wings all these years, gathering the facts in silence, not showing our hand, waiting for judgment day. The day of reckoning is upon us. Let freedom reign.
As for "JFK", it is a complicated piece of fiction that would require some real research to effectively discredit all of its lies. What it did in the theatre was have one asking, "Jeez, did that really happen?" or "My God, is this true?" or "Holy cow, I can't believe this could be." It is major sensory overload. Innocent civilians who knew things are killed. Deception and murder are used to cover up the sordid deeds. The film requires several viewings, and frankly time, probably years, to unravel it. What happens is that various reviews, reports from historical figures and historians are read and pieced together. After a while the discovery is made that a particular "witness" never existed, a certain "police officer" is a figment of Stone's imagination, smoke in the trees, conversations, special ops guys with the inside scoop (particular "Major X" played by Canadian Donald Sutherland) are invented out of whole cloth. A proposition is one thing, but "JFK" is "Alice in Wonderland", a "riddle wrapped inside an enigma, tied by a puzzle" or whatever it is Joe Pesci says. It is exhausting.
So who killed JFK? Oh, maaaaan! Stone's answer, as best I can tell, was Lyndon Johnson, in league with the joint chiefs, because Kennedy wanted out of Vietnam and they wanted in (because American industry needed the war?), working with right wing Birchers, who were part of rogue elements of the CIA (?), who were a "track," whatever that is, that could not be stopped because it was an inexorable connection starting in Guatemala ("good"), Iran ("good"), and Bay of Pigs ("not so good"), that had become dominated by Cuban exile "Republicans," working in league with the Soviets (KGB?), who recruited Lee Harvey Oswald, who learned to shoot in the Marines, who lived and married in Russia then came back, who promoted Marxism but was funded by Birchers (?), who was a patsy for the Dallas Mafia, who had Oswald-lookalikes say incriminating things, who worked with JFK, who worked with La Casa Nostra (who turned on him?), who were tied to Naval Intelligence (?), who operated out of a corner in New Orleans in which the Feds, the NIS and somebody else all had offices, who were tied to right wing homosexual businessmen, defrocked priests, gay prostitutes and guys with tempers like Ed Asner, whose activities were known by corrupt New Orleans lawyers and politicians, who were in league with the New Orleans International Trade Mart or something like that, protected by Dallas strip club owners, who hatched a plan that involved Cubans training in the Florida swamps or Latin America by gay militia commandos, who bought a bad Italian rifle with a bolt action release via mail instead of purchasing a better weapon through the black market or a store, who gave it to Oswald, who may or may not have fired at JFK but could not possibly have hit his mark from the Texas Book Depository, who with Secret Service agents working to kill the President had assassins disguised as police officers and bums in the bushes, a car wreck lot and a grassy knoll, and created a triangulated cross-fire that killed the President then got away.
Now, friends and neighbors, after all of that, at no time does Mr. Stone suggest that the assassination was the work of a fellow he later visited and said was a great man, named Fidel Castro, who is the most likely suspect.
Res ipsa loquiter.
Castro and the mob? Maybe. The confusion of Stone's plot twists is highly, precisely and to quintessential effect that with which the real killers want. Stone's film vastly hurts the attempt to learn the truth. He raises plenty of legitimate questions, mainly regarding the so-called "magic bullet," and he operates on at least one fairly solid foundation, which is that the Zapruder film seems to show more than one shooter. Saying Oswald was not a lone gunman is a premise I can give credence to, but beyond that God knows.
One thing is puzzling, and that is that in all the years since nobody has "stepped forward." Every so often somebody shows up on Larry King Live and says his father, usually a "Dallas cop," was the shooter, but these stories always have the crackpot feel to them. I want a deathbed confession from a Cuban, one of Sam Giancana's guys, something solid. When all the smoke clears, you still have a Communist sympathizer, Oswald, killing a President who just humiliated Kruschev over the Bay of Pigs, is a threat to Castro and is building up troops to fight Commies in Vietnam. It is plausible he had help and they were on the Grassy Knoll, they got away and Jack Ruby killed Oswald to shut him up. Maybe a little too convenient. The Warren Commission report came out only one year later, not enough time to sort out everything. The Church hearings were too open to get the real stuff beyond salacious sex. Secret CIA/FBI investigations might have been the only real answer, and who knows, maybe they were conducted, and maybe the gullible public cannot handle the truth. Who knows? Not Oliver Stone.
"Heaven and Hell" starring Tommy Lee Jones was more of the tired America-is-racist-and-hates-the-yellow-Communists stuff, but "Nixon", starring Anthony Hopkins, was a pleasant surprise. When word came that Stone was making a biopic of Nixon, everybody assumed the worst. The former President died in April, 1994 and Stone's film was in theatres by Christmas, 1995. The first puzzlement was the casting of the Englishman Anthony Hopkins in the role of a man from suburban (in his day, rural) Los Angeles. Hopkins pulled it off brilliantly, as did Stone.
Stone actually said that in researching Nixon, he came to "admire" him, a fairly common refrain among his biographers, including the late, respected historian Stephen Ambrose, and Tom Whicker, who wrote "One of Us". "Nixon" accomplishes what few biographies accomplish. It entertains while telling a complete story without being boring. This is a great challenge to filmmakers. "MacArthur", starring Gregory Peck, was dull, yet "Patton" was vivid. Numerous TV movies have failed to do much with the Kennedys. The only films about them were about short-lived events (two Cuban Missile Crisis films, and Stone's assassination thriller). A TV movie about Dwight Eisenhower starring Robert Duvall was a clunker. Randy Quaid tried to be Lyndon Johnson. Not. Nobody has ever gotten much mileage out of Abe Lincoln or Teddy Roosevelt, or Hitler or Stalin. "Gandhi" worked very well, but various Winston Churchill efforts sank of their own weight. Why? I may posses enough knowledge to teach at any film school, but I do not have the answer to that question.
"Nixon" worked creatively. Financially it did okay but was not a blockbuster. It was one of those movies that folks will return to, though, especially to study Nixon. What made it work was the Stone specialty of "theme." The average viewer easily misses it, but Stone infuses Nixon's life with the premise that dark forces aided him. It can be inferred by this that he means Nixon was evil, or the tool of evil, but he juxtaposes this with enough of Nixon's basic humanity to make him more of a pawn, pushed by something that "helps" him…or does it? I found the ironic twists of the Nixon-Kennedy rivalry fascinating, and Stone truly does exploit it. His theme is not a patriotic one, because he infers that there is a "beast" that cannot be controlled. He infers that the beast is embodied in the Central Intelligence Agency, which in turn controls the U.S. A sequence showing Nixon visiting CIA Director Richard Helms (Sam Waterston) was mostly cut out of the original film, but the video shows it in its entirety at the end of the movie. Helms and his agency are virtually said to be the devil. Flowers in Helms' office are shown to bloom and wilt in supernatural ways, presumably depending on Helms' evil whim. Waterston's eyes are shown to be coal black. He is Satan!
Nixon asks himself the rhetorical question, "Whose helping us?" while staring into a fireplace flame under a portrait of Kennedy. The theme is first brought forth in Nixon's college years, when his older brother dies, and apparently this frees up money through an unexplained source (an insurance policy?) that allows Nixon to go to law school. In light of two Kennedy assassinations, the answer to Nixon's question seems to be the same one that Mick Jagger gives in "Sympathy for the Devil".
"After all, it was you and me," Jagger sings, and Stone would have you believe it was the devil in silent concert with Nixon and his brand of…something. Jingoism, patriotism, xenophobia, bloodthirstiness? Nixon is seen on a couple of occasions shadowed by a devil-like winged creature (the beast), and his conversation with a female college student at the Lincoln Memorial ends with her identification of the beast as the controlling force in American politics. Presumably the girl is able to see this clearly because her heart is pure.
Stone invents secret cabals that never happened between Nixon and John Birch Texas businessmen, racist to the core, who along with a smirking Cuban are there to tell us that because Nixon was in Texas on November 22, 1963 he was somehow plotting JFK's murder.
The conspiracy link between "JFK" and "Nixon" exists in this reference, and the CIA "tracks" like the one Agent X talks about in "JFK", apparently tie Guatemala, Iran and the Bay of Pigs to subsequent events. The Bay of Pigs tie-in, led by E. Howard Hunt and his Cubans, Bernard Barker, Eugenio Martinez, et al, is real enough, but the assassination is one Stone insists is part of the same "track." Something on the list of "horribles," which Nixon discusses with H.R. Haldeman (James Woods), who then talks about "bodies," references to something I still have never figured out after watching the film 15 times. The Kennedy's bodies? Vietnam dead bodies?
Stone gives Watergate its due, but lets the actual events speak for themselves without embellishing it with more hate towards Nixon than that era produced of its own accord. He actually does a solid job of demonstrating the semi-legitimate reasons for creating the Plumbers in the first place, which was to plug leaks in light of Daniel Ellsberg's treacherous "Pentagon Papers" revelation, in concert with the bunker mentality caused by anti-war protesters threatening, in their mind at the time, a civil war like the one that forced Lincoln to declare martial law.
Stone also makes it clear that Nixon and his people were convinced that Kennedy stole the 1960 election, and he does not try to deny it (without advocating it, either). Murray Chotiner represents the realpolitik Republicans who, Stone wants us to know, pulled the same fraudulent tricks, when he says, "They stole it fair and square."
Nixon is depicted as foul-mouthed and quite the drinker. His salty language apparently was learned well into adulthood, and he did occasionally imbibe after years as a teetotaler, but his associates insist it was by no means a regular thing. Woods' Haldeman is no friend of the Hebrews, and Paul Sorvino, doing a big league Henry Kissinger, finds himself constantly at war with the inside Nixon team, put down for his Jewishness. Powers Boothe is a cold-blooded Alexander Haig, representing the reality of Watergate's final conclusion.
It never would have happened under J. Edgar Hoover, Nixon says, and Haig agrees that Hoover, who died just before Watergate, was a "realist" who would have kept it locked up. Nixon discusses suicide with Haig, who eases him out of that but never really tells him not to. When Nixon asks for any final suggestion, Haig says something the real man probably never said:
"You have the Army. Lincoln used it."
Nixon breaks down, incredulous that for all his accomplishments, he can be brought down by such a nothing event. Stone allows Hopkins to infuse this scene with Shakespearean irony. Stone gives Nixon his due in many ways. He demonstrates that he was utterly faithful to his wife, Pat, turning down a right wing lovely served up by the Birchers, while telling the girl that he entered politics to help people. His hardscrabble youth is nicely portrayed, with Mary Steenburgen playing his long-suffering Quaker mother. Young Nixon is utterly faithful to her and the honest, religious ethic of the family. But in a later scene, Steenburgen looks questioningly at his Presidential aspirations, saying he is destined to lead, but only if God is on his side. It is a telling statement playing to his theme that dark forces are the wind at Nixon's sails. He enters politics as an idealist, and becomes something else because he discovers he has the talent for it. He is industrious, in contrast to the Kennedys, and will earn everything he has simply by out-working everybody.
An entirely loving portrait of Dick Nixon would have no credibility. Stone does a great job with the movie, which is as balanced as it could be with a side of liberal righteousness.
In 1996, Stone made "The People vs. Larry Flynt", a telling sign of liberal taste. Flynt is a pornographer who has made millions doing just that. I have no problem with the fact that pornography exists, that he makes millions off it, and that it is protected by the First Amendment. But pornography is what it is. Like homosexuality, it is a sin that does not deserve to be justified or called something that it is not, namely art. Those who engage in pornography have every right to do so, and I would be a hypocrite to state otherwise. My point is that they are not engaging in moral activity. God will forgive pornographers, like homosexuals (in my opinion), if they ask Him to forgive them for what they do. I cannot say what happens to them if they do not ask for forgiveness.
The choice of a pornographer as the source of a glorifying Hollywood film, starring Woody Harrelson as Flynt, is not something that needs much commentary. It just states what it states. The liberals justify their endorsement of Flynt by pointing out that a former KKK leader named David Duke ran for office as a Republican in an election that lasted a few minutes, which he lost, over a decade ago. The media made a big deal of it. The Republicans disowned him and then nailed him for income tax evasion
Among Stone's other work includes "Any Given Sunday" (1999), as good and realistic a sports movie as has ever been made. It features an over-the-top performance by Al Pacino as a veteran pro football coach who can still motivate his over-paid, over-sexed, over-drugged, slightly thuggish, mostly black (except for a few White Aryan Brotherhood linemen) mercenaries with a speech that sends Knute Rockne to the bench.
He reportedly is working on the story of the 1934 Republican industrialists who recruited Marine hero Smedley Butler to overthrow Franklin Roosevelt, which was the genesis of "Seven Days in May". We are still waiting for Tinsel Town to take on Kennedy stealing the 1960 election. It could be a long wait. If any producers are reading this, I am offering my services at the Writers Guild minimum.
Martin Scorsese is no conservative and generally stays away from political, but it is worth mentioning that he is obsessed with Christianity. He is a Catholic, or a lapsed Catholic, and his New York youth apparently put the zap on his head in a big way. He went to church and believed in God, asked for his sins to be washed away in confession, but like the characters in "Mean Streets" (1973), he lived in Little Italy, where murder, extortion and immorality were a way of life.
Scorsese came up with some funky ideas, and laid it all out for the world to see in "The Last Temptation of Christ" (1988). It is actually based on a book by Nikos Kazantzakis, but like all of Scorsese's work the screen version must be attributed to him. It is hard to say what he is trying to accomplish. I call the film "Bronx Jesus" because he populates it with New York actors (Harvey Keitel as Judas, Willem Dafoe as Jesus), except for evil, which Hollywood always says has an upper crust English accent (a very telling psycho-trait regarding class envy perhaps). On the one hand, Scorsese loves his Jesus. He is obviously very personal to him. He has a vision for who Jesus was, and it is a human vision. This is the crux of the story, because if Jesus is "human," then His suffering and trials are not just for show. In order for Jesus to die for our sins, He has to feel our pain and be tempted just as any mortal would be.
The finale is confusing and I have only seen it once, so forgive me, but as best I can recall Christ accepts a "deal" from Satan. A dream sequence follows, in which Christ is apparently fooled by Satan, disguised as a little girl. Apparently, he did not die for our sins, and Scorsese's message is muddled, possibly leading us to believe that the screwed-up world we live in is because of this. The Catholics and other Christian groups were outraged. It is not quite the "risen Christ on Easter Sunday" message of hope that we have all been counting on. Personally, I do not see Scorsese as anti-Christian for making it, although I do come away from such expenditures of theology believing there are just things we will never know until we die, and we had best live good lives until then!
In "Cape Fear", Scorsese introduces a Fourth of July parade scene rife with sluggish Americana. The scene is slowed down, given morbid music, and depicts patriotic icons with bland expressions, going through the motions while an unenthusiastic crowd masks a black-and-white cancer. It also chooses to make DeNiro a really dangerous Christian who quotes Scripture, speaks in tongues and preaches while he commits his acts of violence. Outside of one episode of "The X Files" in which a sect of Hasidic Jews included some ghost-Jew character who kills in the name of same ancient Hebrew tenet, I cannot recall seeing openly Jewish killers on screen.
"A Few Good Men" is another example of great filmmaking by a liberal, Rob Reiner. It is a marvelous film and a great screenplay by future "West Wing" writer/ creator, Aaron Sorkin. It borrows from "Platoon" in that it portrays the "little guy" as the hero in the military, but frankly plays on a theme - officers sacrificing enlisted men - that was going on under Pershing in World War II, and was exemplified in the French Army in Kubrick's "Paths to Glory". It was done away with in the Eisenhower years. Congress wanted to make for a more Democratic Army around 1900, so they stopped loading West Point enlistment with the heirs of old military families, opting for ordinary "sons of the land." The Ikes, Bradleys and Stilwells that resulted from this policy went a long way towards creating an officer corps that bends over backwards to protect enlisted personnel. Reiner and Sorkin never served in the Army. I have. I know from where I speak.
The beauty of "A Few Good Men" is in the character arc of Lieutenant Daniel Caffey (Tom Cruise). His father is the former Attorney General of the United States, and in this capacity he was a civil rights hero. Caffey never lived up to his dad's high expectations, although he graduated from Harvard Law School. He is skating by in the Navy JAG corps to satisfy family tradition. Demi Moore is a dedicated JAG lawyer who wants to do great things. Kevin Pollack is the guy who got picked on when he was a kid, and now he is also a JAG lawyer. The three of them get assigned to a case involving two "poster" Marines accused of murder at Guantanamo Bay. The Commander at Gitmo is Lieutenant Colonel Nathan Jessup (Jack Nicholson), in a role he did not win the Academy Award for, which is unbelievable. Jessup is about to be Assistant National Security Advisor, so he is very high up the Pentagon food chin.
Cruise is a slacker who pleads his cases, and is offered a sweetheart deal by the prosecutor, a Marine buddy played by Kevin Bacon. If the Marines plead out, the case goes away and after six months they are out of jail. The Marines are straight up and down, and say no. Demi, a so-so actress who rises to Oscar performance in a role she was born to play, takes Cruise to task. Normally a sexpot, she is not portrayed as anything but a professional officer and lawyer here, and she wears it well. There is sexual tension with Cruise, but nicely underplayed. The elephant in the corner is the "code red" that everybody knows Nicholson ordered, but nobody can ask about. If he ordered the "code red," the boys are free, which leaves a slight fact discrepancy because a Marine died because of a hazing they administered. It is fair to ask why they are free if they were ordered, hung if not, since the actions are still the same.
Military justice protocol is significantly different from the free-for-all of regular criminal courts, and Nicholson hides behind it. Demi gets Cruise to stage two of his character arc by committing him to the case and to getting Nicholson to admit to the "code red," which Cruise plans to do because he knows Jack does not like "hiding" from him. The Nicholson ego is too big for that. A huge obstacle must be overcome first when a Marine voice of conscience (J.T.Walsh) commits an "honorable" suicide. He was their only real witness, and it sets Cruise back into the pattern of responsibility avoidance. Pollack has been shuffling along with "I no responsibilities here whatsoever" act, but his role in the script is made clear. He tells Cruise he wrote a paper on his famous dad in high school, and that he was a great trial lawyer. He tells Cruise his father would plead this case out in a second. Then he tells him it does not matter what his father would do, it only matters what Cruise does. He backs up Demi's earlier faith in Cruise as an attorney, and for the first time Cruise realizes he has special talent and can win. The finale is a doozie with Nicholson thundering away with a speech that Sorkin and Reiner must have really agonized over.
Nicholson represents the "warrior spirit" that protects Americas liberal peaceniks like…Reiner and Sorkin. He gives an incredible dissertation on what it takes to build a military and do the heavy lifting that protects our cherished freedoms. Reiner and Sorkin resisted the chance to demonize Nicholson into the tired old conservative boogieman; the racist white officer (one of the Marines is black), stupid, a war glorifier. Instead, they let Nicholson make a speech that has been memorized and made into legend by… conservatives and military officers. But Jack makes a mistake and lets Cruise lead him one step too far, admitting to the "code red" that wins the day. The twist, and the message, is in the final verdict in which the Marines are declared "not guilty" but are dishonorably discharged for "conduct unbecoming Marines." They are stricken, because the Corps is where they found their very essence. Cruise tells them they do not need a patch to have honor, a line of pure gold. The black Marine, an actor who seemed to have been discovered for this one role and then disappeared, gives the film its intended meaning. He says their conduct was unbecoming because they were not supposed to follow an illegal "code red" order (given to them by a Southern racist Christian, Kiefer Sutherland), against a weaker man, despite the consequences. Pollack, who identified with the weaker man and did not like the macho Marines, melts because he sees his childhood tormentors symbolically apologize to him. Cruise has now earned his spurs and is no longer just Lionel Caffey's son.
"A Few Good Men" is a barnburner. The Sutherland role is its most heavy-handed bias. When he is told Cruise's father "made a lot of enemies in your neck of the woods" - Dixie - by letting "a little black girl" go to an all-white school, the subtle message is that he is a racist. Sutherland is further painted as a Bible thumper, the kind who have little patience for those who are not. Hollywood just brutalizes Christians. Nicholson also sneers at Pollack's screen name, Lieutenant Weinberg, a point that probably worked more against the Sorkin/Reiner message than for it. Nicholson is pointing out that Jews tend to be lawyers, while the Anglos do the fighting. The effect of the reference, however, causes people to make mental note of the fact that he is basically right.
Reiner is an "issues" liberal. He is definitely a man of conscience with good intentions. He gives of his time, energy and money for a variety of causes to better society, usually by helping disadvantaged kids or the afflicted. Hooray for him. He cannot get too much applause for that. But he jumped on the anti-tobacco bandwagon, which is in my view real hypocrisy. First, Hollywood always displays macho men and femme fatale women smoking cigarettes and looking cool. Tobacco has been around for centuries. It is a legal product that people want. The fact that it is bad for you is simply common knowledge, yet trial lawyers, the biggest Democrat special interest group, file nefarious multi-million dollar class action lawsuits and tort claims against tobacco companies, as if some plaintiff who smoked for 50 years before getting lung cancer was forced by the company to do so.
During the Clinton years, the Democrats jumped on this issue like there was no tomorrow, actually making government ads against legal American tobacco corporations and the tobacco industry in a move that cannot be legal, civilly and maybe Constitutionally. These ads typically show a couple of (always) white tobacco execs plotting to poison kids, then laughing about it. Turn this ad around and direct it at anybody else and the hue and cry would be endless. These companies contribute enormous taxes and employ thousands. I myself was addicted to chewing tobacco (Copenhagen) for 16 years. I knew I had to quit, tried several times, but went back to it. I knew the dangers of snuff and that it was a disgusting habit. Nobody dragged my arm. I chose to do it, chose to quit, girded my will power and accomplished this task. Period. Just like George W. Bush when he quit drinking.
Speaking of alcohol, this is worse than tobacco. It causes drunk driving deaths and has to be as unhealthy as smoking cigarettes, but it is not a target. On top of that, the real kicker is that if you go to Hollywood parties, or hang out at certain industry hot spots in Studio City, Universal City, Beverly Hills, or Santa Monica, you will find movie executives puffing on huge cigars like the one Bill Clinton asked Monica to use as a phallic. Such hypocrisy.
Russell Crowe played a tobacco exec a few years ago opposite Al Pacino in a film that never got anywhere. The crux of the film was that Brown & Williamson, a tobacco road company with a long, venerable tradition in old Carolina, had…shock…hid the fact that cigarettes are bad for people. For decades.
Really? Bad for people?
Basically they went out and advertised their product like any other capitalist organization, in an effort to get people to buy it. People buy tobacco for the same reason I used to buy it. They know it is bad for them. They joke and call them "cancer sticks." Oh, but kids are being duped, they say. There is no group of individuals on Earth more acutely aware of the danger of smoking than kids, to my knowledge. When my daughter was six or seven she was all over this issue. These same anti-tobacco crusaders are the same ones who will argue six ways from Sunday that marijuana should be legal, too.
"Forrest Gump" (1994), directed by USC alum Robert Zemeckis, was considered a fairly conservative film, but it certainly does not advocate any "good Republicans" vs. "bad Democrats." You can search far and wide, and you will not find Hollywood films that openly portray a Democrat as the bad guy. I wrote a screenplay a few years ago called "A Murderous Campaign". It had all the elements of a great script. A beautiful porn star has an affair with a Democrat Louisiana Senator. She overhears him plotting the assassination of a political rival, but they find out she heard the plan. They try to kill her, so she goes into hiding and hooks up with a crusty old Washington reporter who is considered kooky because he has been accusing this Democrat of these crimes for years. A retired FBI friend of the reporter helps them. The Democrat announces a Presidential bid. The porn star uses her considerable charms and discovers that the Governor of New Jersey is the assassination target at a Statue of Liberty rally. She saves the Governor, and the plot is revealed, but the Democrat candidate goes into spin control. Nobody can really prove the plan. It looks like he will win the nomination, having weathered the politics of personal destruction. Finally, the porn girl and the reporter find the old father of the Democrat's chief of staff, a former Ku Klux Klansman who wants to get what he knows off his chest before passing from this mortal coil. He tells them about the drug smuggling operation the candidate has been running in the Louisiana Bayou. The reporter's FBI pal arranges a raid. They discover all the "smoking gun" evidence of a series of political murders going back years. The girl is re-united with her family, gets out of the porn business, the reporter wins the Pulitzer, and it is jail time for the Democrat. The end.
Creative execs who loved the verbal pitch when I simply described the Democrat as a "politician," a "candidate" or the "Senator" all passed when they read the part in the script that identifies him as an actual Democrat. Pamela Anderson would be perfect as the porn chick. I could see Denzel Washington as the reporter, and Gary Busey as the Democrat Senator. I was asked if I would change him to a Republican. My answer was that I wanted to maintain the realism of the story. See ya.
The film "Dave" went through a similar change. The story of a Presidential look-alike (Kevin Kline) who fills in for the secretly deceased real thing, the original story featured a Republican who brought his skills as a small entrepreneur to the job. Hollywood turned him into a Democrat, but kept his G.O.P common sense, such as when he and his partner look at the Federal budget and balance it by using the methods any small businessman would use. Naturally, pet liberal projects are all interjected while "Republican priorities" are given the heave-ho.
Indians are a favorite pet of the liberal establishment. "Dances With Wolves" is a fine movie. Most of them are. Nobody ever said these people are not brilliant. There is no real lie in "Dances" that I can see, but it does seem stylized. The Indians are pictured as peaceful, spiritual conservers of the land. Real-life Indians had every potential of being violent savages without anybody's prompting. Just ask the Mexicans who were systematically robbed by them every harvest until American mountain men with guns were recruited to provide a little security. The soldiers are dumbasses, as are most of the whites that Kevin Costner "escapes" from in his effort to find the real West. While Indians certainly knew how to preserve the land, an act of necessity for them, they took plenty from it without replenishment. Whites stripped and mined the land, but they also came up with ingenious technologies that re-generated the land.
A fair look at the clash of white-Indian civilization was in John Milius' excellent "Geronimo", the story of the last Apache captured and brought in, bringing to an end the Indian Wars in 1890. Gene Hackman plays the officer charged with negotiating and capturing Geronimo. It fairly shows brave Indians, a well-meaning government, circumstances that were beyond control of the ability to foresee, white settlers whose ingenuity made use of the land that was previously unheard of, and how these events brought about bad feelings in the Indian community. The film is even without demonizing either side.
Christians-as-psycho-killers is the theme of "Carrie". How original.
"Apollo 13" (1995) was Ron Howard's excellent, patriotic re-enactment of the 1970 moonshot that went awry. The Soviets offered their assistance, but NASA said they would handle their own house, and they did. It is virtually impossible to conceive that any other country on Earth could have produced astronauts and ground crew that could have gotten that ship home safely. Howard makes a film that has you waving the flag when you walk out. At least you should.
Steven Speilberg made "Schindler's List" in 1993. It drew raves and deserved them, but what was left out of this Holocaust story is the fact that it was the American Army that saved the concentration camp survivors. It was wonderful of Speilberg to glorify a flawed Polish businessman who saved a few thousand Jews, but the fact is that it was the United States who saved European Jewry by defeating the Nazis, and then by creating Israel.
Speilberg's "Amistad" (1997) may have been driven by some liberal guilt on his part, but like a few other movies that set out to tell a "shameful" story of America - in this case, slavery - the film reveals one of this nation's greatest triumphs. Granted, it requires a little thinking to arrive there, but it is there. The Amistad slaves were on trial for murder in America and they were acquitted. The triumph was the system of American justice. They were recognized as humans who had the right to fight for their freedom in an effort to return to their homeland, a huge first step in ending slavery. The film, whether it means to or not (and my guess is Spelberg meant to) demonstrates that the injustice of slavery was brought to the shores of colonial America before the country was born. It was an inherited evil. The system was brought down, piece by piece, by American citizens, using American laws written by Americans, all under the coda of an American ethic: Freedom, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It would be nice to say the Founders just put this in place in 1787. It took almost 80 years, but the thing had been around for thousands. It ended here. It did not end, as "Amistad" demonstrates, by a foreign power defeating us and ending it, or even by virtue of a big international lobbying effort, or through sanctions. It ended because we used the laws we created to end it. The film demonstrates the first strike of justice in an American courtroom regarding this terrible "institution."
"The Right Stuff", based on Tom Wolfe's book and directed by Phillip Kaufman, was a wonderful American story about the Mercury space program that told the tale of U.S. pilots just brimming with gusto, bravado and…the right stuff. "Saving Private Ryan" was gold, Spielberg's best work ever. Anybody who walks away from this 1998 account of America saving the world on D-Day, without a glowing respect for what we sacrificed, is an idiot or a "useful idiot."
"Strip Tease" was typical. In it, Burt Reynolds was depicted as so many Republican politicians are depicted: Stupid, immoral, greedy, corrupt…am I leaving anything out?
Hollywood continues to break down culture, values and societal norms. Because film emanates most often from the creative minds of writers residing in L.A. (occasionally San Francisco), New York or Europe, who are usually liberal, more likely to be gay than the average citizen, and seem to encourage breaking things down more than building them up, films often have a sour taste to them. While there is nothing openly politically conservative, there is much that is a quasi-endorsement of the Democrat National Committee. When Hollywood endorses traditional values, they attempt to purport the myth that it is the Democrats who are the traditionalists. I usually find it best to say nothing, simply letting the lie of it emanate for the public to observe without comment. But Aaron Sorkin is a de facto Democrat speechmaker, very talented, but so wrong, so in the clouds, that two of his latest works must be addressed.
"The American President", starring Michael Douglas as the Prez, and Martin Sheen as his chief of staff, was amazing hubris. It was a direct attempt to portray a Democrat in the White House as all that is upstanding and decent. The film actually made the ballsy effort at convincing the American public that the Douglas Presidency was pretty much the same as the Clinton Presidency, and that it was only a vast right wing conspiracy that saddled the man with problems, all of which were overcome in the Hollywood version by goodness and honesty.
There was no word about dead kids on railroad tracks or White House aides who knew felonious things about first ladies who walked across the grass to shoot themselves but had no grass stains on their shoes. Stuff like that. The Douglas President is just perfect, his only sin being that he is a widower who dates a woman. Sorkin serves this up with full G.O.P. indignation, as if the Republicans would care. In so doing he tries to differentiate from a man pursuing some happiness in his life with a man giving interns cigars to stuff in their orifices, jizzing all over the Oval Office, lying about it under oath, then saying that it is what the meaning of is is.
Wait and see. Condi Rice may be a Republican President some day. She is single. If she dates while in the White House, the Democrats will go on and on about it. It will start slow but the liberal media will build it and build it, and it will become an issue. Mark my words.
The natural extension of "The American President" was the TV success "The Left Wing", er, "The West Wing". It differed from the screen version somewhat, but attempted to do the same things. Martin Sheen plays the President this time. It is a very instructive show about how government works, the "inside baseball" of politics, and the pressures of the job. It occasionally semi-advocates a conservative position from a Dick Morris "New Way" slant that demonstrates the need for moderation and compromise. But the show portrays idealistic Democrats who never sleep; workaholics who make Nixon look like a piker. When push comes to shove, traditional liberal views on education, welfare, affirmative action and the like win the day. The Democrats are utterly dedicated to Democracy, freedom and America, and this is just not something that, in light of the Clinton era that the show shadows, possibly rings true.
"The West Wing" gives no credence to their party being venial, corrupt, immoral, or the other things that the Clintons laced it with. Over time, its ratings plummeted for the very reasons that I stopped watching it. Being a fan of politics, I ate it up at first, accepting its liberal bias because I choose to be entertained by the medium of film and TV. But the contrast between all these perfect Democrats saving the country and the world from bad guys and Republicans every Wednesday, with the real thing, became too much to bear. When George W. Bush became President, the show could not stand on credible legs any more.
"Bob Roberts" was Tim Robbins first foray into political filmmaking. He draws on his family experience as traveling folk singers and fashions a story of a conservative, religious political candidate who signs family songs on the campaign trail. The film itself is good stuff, well acted and produced, but the message is clear: White conservative Christians are just frauds and cannot be trusted. One watches it and wonders what a truthful depiction of Jesse Jackson would look like. Or an inside look at Joseph P. Kennedy pulling the strings in Jack's Congressional and Senate campaigns? Or the inside deals that kept Teddy Kennedy in office after Mary Jo Kopechne was killed? How about Al Sharpton and the Tawana Brawley incident? "Bob Roberts" is one of those movies that you just watch and shake your head.
After Tim McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma Federal Building, the Left went berserk, although their own Ted Kazcysnski (the Unabomber) beat them back. What has emerged in the years since is that if a real bad guy looks like McVeigh, he does the "perp walk" and is displayed for the cameras. If he is black, a black Muslim, or some such thing, he gets the hidden suspect treatment. "Arlington Road" is Robbins as a right-wing wacko who plans to blow up the government. The message is that the right in this country is dominated by white racists who think nothing of killing many, because they are Fascists. It is heavy-handed and compared with Truth fails miserably.
Robbins made another "political" film." "Dead Man Walking" stayed on an even keel. Starring Sean Penn in a bravura performance as a murderer getting ready for his execution, it takes a surprisingly Catholic point of view, in which Susan Sarandon plays a nun who makes him take responsibility for his actions, ostensibly to save his soul. It could be interpreted as being against the death penalty, but this is actually a stretch.
"American History X" may not have have accomplished what it set out to accomplish. The film centers on a white supremacist in the once-pleasant, now-crime stricken Los Angeles beach enclave of Venice. Edward Norton plays the racist, but the dialogue is sharp and intelligent. While there is no question that Norton is not in the right, and that his racial hatreds have taken him down a perilous personal path, he makes certain biting commentary about race and society that are entirely true and worth agreeing with. Whether the filmmakers wanted whites (and blacks) in the audience nodding in agreement with a guy they would like to show to be a monster is not known. He is charismatic, and intelligent enough to see the light after being stigmatized in prison. With the help of a black teacher, he turns his life around, but sees the damage he has caused to those around him. Heavy-handed political bias cannot be helped. Norton's sidekick is an utterly reprehensible, stupid white racist of the worst stereotype, who blathers about those who do not agree with him as "Democrats."
"The Contender" was made by a former West Point guy who is a liberal, a rarity in and of itself. It does not take a highly liberal position, but it is not conservative. The film's message is that the right's overarching investigations into Clinton's sex life were intrusive, although it does not examine the fact that his lies came under legal oath.
The V.P. dies and a woman Senator is nominated to replace him. A rumor circulates that while in college she was gangbanged by a fraternity. She refuses to answer the allegations. A conservative Senator (Gary Oldham, who is actually conservative and later expressed dismay at script changes to make conservatives look worse than originally planned), opposes her because of her alleged youthful promiscuity. He is also in league with another Senator who he wants to get the nod. The President (Jeff Bridges) sticks by the nominee and after a few twists and turns she gets in. The charges are never publicly refuted, which is the film's message. She reveals privately that the gangbang story was false, and the moral is that politician's personal lives are not open season for the press. This resonates to an extent, but the timing of the film, in light of the Clinton scandals, makes it obvious that the purpose is to dissuade the public that Clinton's immorality is our business.
"Absolute Power" and "Murder at 1600" had me thinking that somebody read my screenplay, "A Murderous Campaign", used my idea but gave me no credit. Maybe. Both films ("Absolute" is a Clint Eastwood picture) play on the public perception that Clinton might just be a murderer. However, the President bears no resemblance to Clinton and neither film takes a partisan tone, although Alan Alda in "Murder at 1600" seems to be a caricatured right wing militarist.
"Wag the Dog" was straight out of the Clinton files. The President (partially shown, but apparently not resembling Clinton physically or politically) defiles a girl scout on a White House trip and it becomes public. In real life Clinton lobbed bombs at Iraq and Bosnia to get the story off page one. In the movie a Bob Evans-type movie producer (Dustin Hoffman) is asked to create fake footage of a war with Albania, in order to get the girl scout story off page one.
"Three Kings" starred the ultra-liberal George Clooney in a convoluted story of U.S. soldiers trying to get rich in war torn 1991 Iraq, possibly re-creating the theme of Clint Eastwood's 1970 film "Kelly's Heroes". "Kings" is not a highly political story, but leaves little doubt that it views the first President Bush's war in Iraq, particularly the Kurdish uprising that he encouraged and did not back, as a cynical American lie.
"Thirteen Days" re-created the Cuban Missile Crisis, elevating the Kennedys to virtual sainthood while painting Curt LeMay as an advocate for nuclear holocaust. It was a fantastic picture, like many of them, but in it is an interesting scene in which Kenny O'Donnell, played by Kevin Costner, tells a Navy plot to lie to LeMay about being shot at, because LeMay would supposedly have ordered a strike if he had been. The film paints this lie as the right thing to do because it advocates the Kennedy's position, which was to maintain level heads and a calm demeanor. However, in 1987 Ollie North was excoriated by the Left for lying about the funding of anti-Communist guerrillas, which was Reagan's position. Funny about that.
Mel Gibson is considered a conservative. He is a devout Catholic, and is coming out with a film that depicts the last hours of Christ, called "The Passion of Christ". He is coming under increasing criticism for daring to portray the Savior and suggest that he is who millions believe He is.
One lonely conservative voice has been trying to shout out from the "wilderness" for years. Lionel Chetwynd is a writer/producer who made "The Hanoi Hilton", which actually described the North Vietnamese as the evil torturers they were. The "Hilton" was the moniker given the infamous prison camp where American POW's were kept while Jane Fonda was flirting with our enemies. In 2003 Chetwynd produced "DC 9/11: Time of Crisis". It stars Lance Bottoms ("The Last Picture Show", "Apocalypse Now") as President George W. Bush. Liberal film reviewers criticized it. Do not believe them. It is good stuff.
For a brief time in the Reagan '80s, Hollywood made "conservative" movies, but they were little more than schlocky action war pictures like "Rambo". The basic premise behind these movies was to show macho heroes like Chuck Norris or Sylvester Stallone "returning" to Vietnam to "re-win" the war and rescue buddies imprisoned as POWs.
In truth, Hollywood provides a lot for just about everybody. Cable and pay TV have created romance channels, family channels, true story channels, history channels, and there is a lot of content that does not fit the traditional liberal profile. Christianity takes a lot of hits. A lot of TV shows love to make the perp a white Christians, militia guys and the like.
But there are movies that portray Christianity in a loving manner. Family values, patriotism, honor and virtue get their due. Conservatives will rail against Hollywood, and listening to them you get the idea that everything is a liberal conspiracy. Not so.
But there are a lot of high-profile films like "American Beauty". The message is that the family is dysfunctional, morality and convention are a thing of the past, and homophobes are probably military rocks who secretly want to get it on with other men.
Then there is "Seabiscuit", a beautiful tale of redemption, which tells a patriotic story of how in this great nation people can pick each other up, work as a team, and inspire a country.
There are a few Hollywood celebrities who are conservative. Actor James Woods keeps his Republican views to himself. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a moderate Republican. Comedian Dennis Miller switched over after 9/11. But the dominant media culture is very liberal. What is important to note is the velocity that one side (the liberals) are allowed to create, vs. the other side. A look at pop culture talk shows, comic acts and the like demonstrates that conservatives may be placed on shows, but usually in a token manner, outnumbered by liberals. The conservatives generally play it straight, are a little apologetic, quite polite, and are forced onto the defensive. The audiences seem to be liberal, which considering the fact that the country is much more conservative makes it obvious they are recruited and steered into cheering and backing the liberal point of view.
Comedians like David Letterman and Jay Leno softly chide the Democrats, keep it in the middle, and avoid vitriol. Dennis Miller never could help himself. He was a liberal in the Clinton years but the President was such a target that Miller lambasted him. He finally realized he was not a liberal.
But most comics who do politics are hatchet men (and women). Liberals actually come out and say with a straight face that it is conservatives who are vicious and closed-minded, but Chris Rock, Jeanine Garafolo and Bill Maher are obviously examples that this concept is a pure lie. Liberal comics cut Republicans to shreds, using the foulest possible language, which Republicans could never in one and one half million years get away with. Maher called George W. Bush a "little asshole." Is there some way to justify this? Answer: No.
However, what these liberal comics fail to realize (I suppose I am telling them) is that in so doing, they do the Democrats the worst possible service. Their hate speech may play for a hand picked audience steered to a TV laugh track, but out there in the living rooms of America are millions of ordinary people. These people hear advocates of the Democrat party swearing, promoting all manner of foul behavior, showing little in the way of morals or scruples. They are not hearing this from Republican counterparts. What happens is that (a) the immorality of Democrats becomes subliminally known to them, and then (b) the immorality of Democrats becomes actually known to them. This does not help the Democrats any more than it helps blacks associated with cop killing, ho-banging rap music. The final reality is that the great advantage the liberals have, which is control of most of the TV stations and film screens, is not just wasted but made to be a disadvantage. This helps explain why, despite this advantage, they are losing the political battle for the hearts and minds of America.
If the liberals then want to ask what they can do to win this battle, they are provided an answer that many suspect already, but is really not what they want to hear. The answer is to be more like the conservatives. Is there any other way to tell it? This answer is bad news for the Democrat party either way. If they become more like conservatives, they eventually become Republican. If they become less like conservatives, they marginalize the Democrat party. The future, as it stands now, is that the Democrats are going the way of the old Whig party. The challenge of this reality for Republicans will be to rule a de facto one-party system without getting heavy handed about it.
What the liberals will discover, if they have not already, is that people vote with their feet. At some point, sooner rather than later, Hollywood will realize that if they make movies that realistically, occasionally show Republicans to be "good guys" and Democrats as "bad guys," which reflect actual political events, audiences will be stunned in a good way. Many conservatives stay away from films because they are sick and tired of the liberalism. This is the heart and soul of America; people with families and discretionary spending income. If they tap into this market, Hollywood will revive itself from the moribund industry that it is today.
In the future, Hollywood owes it to one of their own, Ronald Reagan, to make a big-ticket bio-pick about how he saved the world from World War III. These kinds of movies are not easy. A TV movie about Dwight Eisenhower, starring Robert Duvall, was serviceable but not awe-inspiring. A movie about Winston Churchill was basically a yawner. Abe Lincoln has been depicted in various ways, but a true movie capturing his life has never really been made.
Charles Grodin hosted a television talk show during the height of the Clinton years. Grodin is a liberal. He is handsome, smart and funny as all get out. His movies are a blast - "Beethoven", "Midnight Run", "Foul Play". Surely this man was the answer to a new phenomenon of conservative talk hosts who had achieved spectacular success and audiences in the mass millions. Grodin brought in friendly Clintonistas and other smiling faces from the liberal establishment in Hollywood, New York and Washington. His show was watched by nobody and went the way of the Dodo bird. How?
This is not all that easy a question. It begs the larger question, Will liberals ever compete with conservatives in the political talk show market? Maybe, but as of this writing there is not the slightest indication that it will happen soon. Grodin found himself defending Clinton and attacking conservatives. All of the charismatic qualities he brought to his film roles - smiling discourse, charm and humor, a disarming self-deprecation - disappeared.
Grodin could never get traction because he had to battle against the grain of Truth. Defending Clinton was the defense of a political reprobate. Grodin just found himself digging holes he could not get out of. Attacking Clinton's attackers forced Grodin to try and discredit common sense notions of law and politics. It was a tricky game, one that perhaps only Clinton himself had the ability to navigate. But what really kicked it for Grodin were general liberal notions, which juxtaposed with simple facts about America. In telling true stories of America, one is at the same time promoting conservatism. Grodin could not do this. He had to steer and veer to avoid this. It was exhausting to see him try. Promoting liberalism leads one to the inexorable path of describing what is wrong with America. Grodin could sense this, and his ability to read the tealeaves told him it was not flying. He ended up being sour and dour. Adios.
If anybody could have starred at it, it was George Stephanopoulos. He was young, decent-looking and charismatic (albeit about five feet ye tall to a grasshopper). He was smart, knew all the players and the "inside baseball," and had gotten out without being tarnished beyond his efforts to discredit women assaulted by Clinton. In the Democrat world, that is a pretty good track record. He never made it.
Clinton himself has been discussed regarding taking over a talk show. What a disaster that would be. If actual callers called in he would get verbally assaulted. Efforts to control the calls would be obvious. He would be defending himself and getting in hot water. If he tried to branch out, he would just be digging holes for himself.
Once upon a time, before cable was big, before talk radio, Phil Donahue was a powerhouse. He dispensed liberalism, and he got ratings. Surely this meant America was a liberal country. After dropping out of the game and returning, Donahue discovered that the only reason people turned to him was because they had no choices. Now, with competition, the choice was conservatism. Bye Phil.
Mario Cuomo was supposed to be a big liberal hit on talk radio. He had a reputation as a great speaker. He was a man of the people; the humble Italian Catholic, the immigrant's son, his story was the story of New York: Problem: Liberal positions, stated in a talk radio format over two or three hours, have to be explained, and sense must be made of them. See ya, Mario.
So who is out there? In San Francisco a liberal talk host has succeeded for years. His name is Bernie Ward. He is strident and argumentative. Frankly, a pain. But he is in San Francisco, a bastion of liberalism, so he survives. This city must be the one place where conservative talk radio finds no audience? Where the liberal Ward will beat the conservatives, right? Think again.
Rich liberals have for years tried to fund a network to overshadow conservative talk radio. CNN devoted a program to the premise of "combating" conservative radio. In 1996, the DNC tried to establish a speaker's bureau designed to create alternatives. It never went anywhere. They trotted out Alan Dershowitz, Lowell Weicker, Jerry Brown, Gary Hart and Doug Wilder. Nobody will argue that the conservatives are smarter than these guys. The only explanation for why liberals draw as big an audience as a Carol Mosely-Braun for President rally is that their ideas are not as good. Some things are just empirical evidence. People do not want this liberal jargon shouting at them in their car radios any more than they want to be a character in George Orwell's "1984", listening to Big Brother on a speaker system. It makes one wonder whether they would have chosen someone other than Edward R. Murrow or Walter Cronkite had they had a choice, which they did not. Magazines like Mother Jones urge readers to call their radio stations and demand a change, but the only calls these stations get is, "When are you going to put G. Gordon Liddy on?" Conservatives constantly call CBS, NBC and ABC and demand that Dan Rather and Katie Couric get the axe, but it does not occur.
In 1994, the Republicans pulled out a huge win, a major refutation of Clinton and the longstanding Democrat hold on both the House and Senate. Conservative talk radio had played a major part, spoofing on the Democrats' check writing scandal. In January of 1995, radio listeners in San Francisco tuned into a station, KSFO/560 AM, and for 24 hours a day they heard conservatives. Ken "The Black Avenger" Hamblin, G. Gordon Liddy. Michael Savage. Michael Reagan, and a host of other local and national shows. The station was a hit, and has cleaned up in ratings' sweeps against every other San Francisco station ever since. On KNBR/AM 680 an atrocious sports host named Ralph Barbieri has long peppered his analysis with pithy anti-Republican commentary, thinking he is speaking to a liberal audience. KSFO and the conservatives have beaten him like a red headed stepchild for almost a decade. KNBR finally had to bring in an ex-NBA star, Tom Tolbert, to rescue what was left of their drive time share. It drives Barbieri batty that in a part of the country he thought was safe, conservative ideology whips him in the marketplace of ideas.
When Savage left KSFO, he moved over to KNEW/910 AM. Now, in San Francisco, liberals like Bernie Ward talk to a roomful of people at midnight while local and nationally-syndicated conservative superstars dominate all hours of the day on not one, but two talk stations.
So what is conservative talk radio, and why is it so important? There have been conservatives on radio for years. Paul Harvey was popular with homespun American style, telling populist tales of religion and small town values, giving his audience "the rest of the story." In the 1980s, talk radio was mostly the forum of the sports world. In Los Angeles, KABC introduced Dodgertalk, giving fans non-stop baseball news and interviews. Fans could call in and offer their two cents worth. In New York, sports fans called in to WFAN to opine about the Knicks, the Yankees, and the Rangers. Also in the 1980s, the cell phone became popular. With the economic upturn, more and more people were working in the cities, living in the suburbs, and listening to radio in their cars.
Two things favored conservatives off the top. First, people who drive to their cars to and from work, by virtue of having jobs, are more likely to be Republicans. But what really fuels the conservative talk radio engine is the fact that conservatives are more civic-minded and value knowledge more. Liberals tend to listen to music. They are more likely to be on the FM side of the dial. Conservatives usually have more education, and desire to better themselves and their communities. Part of that is to acquire more information. While others may be rockin' out to the Stones, conservatives want to make better use of their time and learn things.
Next, conservatives for years have been listening to spoon-fed media bias. They are tired of it. Conservative talk radio offered them something else after years of garbage. As a result of all the Left wing bias that conservatives put up with all their lives, in newspapers, magazines, school textbooks, college classes, Hollywood screens, and network news, conservatives had this little feeling in their guts. Dan Rather, Peter Jennings or Walter Cronkite would tell them something, conservatives would hear it, and a little reactor would go on telling them that what they were being told was not quite right. Doesn't add up. Off kilter. Now just hold on there, buddy. I'm sure that's wrong. Can't be. Are you sure about that?
It goes on like that for years. So the conservative have these feelings, but everything around him tells him he is in the wrong. Hollywood tells him he is wrong. Cronkite says he is wrong. His college professors definitely told him he was wrong. Before, those high school and junior high texts sure had some weird stuff in them. But the conservative is not liberal. Something keeps him from becoming that way. Something about those opinions does not make sense. This feeling sticks to him, and the feeling is that, hey, I still think I'm right.
Well, being a smart guy (or gal), and wanting to do the right thing, to stand up for what is right, the conservative begins to sort things out in his head. He starts to gather knowledge. He needs to arm himself with facts to countermand all this stuff which, as he gets older, wiser and more responsible, makes more and more difference to him. Facts.
The conservative makes a discovery. Trust me, it can be epiphany. It is like a religious experience. It may start with something small. Then it builds and grows. The bigger it gets the stronger it becomes. What am I talking about? I am talking about facts. Truth.
The conservative comes to the marvelous, beautiful realization that the facts favor his way of thinking.
This is power. Now it is no longer just opinion or emotion. Now he is on the right side of things.
Then one day he turns on Rush Limbaugh.
Rush Limbaugh changed everything. There is no more powerful force in American culture than Rush Limbaugh. He has moved mountains. He is responsible for a seismic shift in popular attitude. It cannot be emphasized too strongly just how huge this guy is.
Nobody is denying the importance of William F. Buckley, Barry Goldwater, and Ronald Reagan. They came before Limbaugh and set the stage for him to do what he did. Goldwater and Reagan were, as Teddy Roosevelt put it, "in the arena," battling for the votes, putting themselves in front of a steamroller of public opinion armed only with their intellect and confident knowledge of their righteousness.
Limbaugh will be the first to admit he is only a part of what moves conservatism. He works hand in hand and in between the mediums of entertainment, government and business. If he is not entertaining, he fails. If he does not succeed as a business entity, he fails. If there is no corollary between his opinions and the electorate, he fails. He triumphs, in brilliant fashion, in all three areas. His very worst detractors cannot possibly deny this.
Limbaugh was born into a family of Republican lawyers in suburban Missouri. He failed to meet the academic expectations set by his family, but not for a lack of intellect. He went to a small college in Missouri and made fair grades, but dropped out to pursue what he had always wanted to do: Radio. He had strong conservative opinions and wanted to express them on the air. There was virtually no radio forum in those days to allow for that. About the only thing for him to do was disc jockey work, but he got in trouble for airing politics and was fired several times. Straight news did not interest him. He wanted to be part of a cultural medium. He sensed all the things that conservatives sense, which was that he was right, he was not alone, and others wanted to hear him. But how?
Limbaugh drifted from job to job, in and out of radio. He worked for the Kansas City Royals baseball team, where he did public relations, making a pittance salary while surrounded by wealthy superstars. One of them, George Brett, shared his philosophy and they befriended each other. Limbaugh maxed out his credit cards and bought groceries at 7-11 because they would except cards the grocery store would not.
Slowly, he began to establish himself in the radio business. He ended up at a station in Sacramento, California, where he was allowed to be a full-fledged conservative. Liberals called in, infuriated at the very idea that some such opinions could be allowed on the air. Aw, free speech. Ain't it a bitch? This went on for a while, and the hate was brutal. Several times, the station told Rush he was about to be fired.
Rush told his audience what was happening. He said that unless those who agreed with him made their presence known, he was gone. Liberals kept calling in, spewing with vitriol. Then the conservatives started to call. They kept calling. Rush's job was saved. For now. It was touch and go, but word of mouth spread. (It is my considered belief that if the Clintons had access to a time machine and could venture back into history to kill somebody, it would be Rush Limbaugh, circa 1985 or '86, before he got big.)
Then, the beauty of capitalism kicked in. Rush began to beat the other stations in ratings. Advertisers wanted to do business with him. The best part of it was that advertisers discovered they got more bang for their buck from Rush's conservative audience. They hung with him through commercials, as they tended to be the kind of upright, tax-paying citizens who needed and purchased the goods and services they advertised. Rush was a hit in Sacramento.
In the Summer of 1988, the big experiment began. Rush was brought to New York City, where he would be syndicated nationwide. Reagan was still the President, but Bush was running and Michael Dukakis had a 17-point lead. From one end of the "fruited plain" to the other, unsuspecting voters turned on their radios and heard Limbaugh extol the virtues of America, capitalism, freedom, conservatism, and the Republican party. In direct correlation with the early rise of his show, Bush rose in the polls. By November he was elected President, and Rush was a national sensation.
The Democrats despised him. Over the next four years, he drove them out of their cotton pickin' minds. He had up-dates on animal rights, Ted Kennedy and other liberal gods, skewing them with hilarious voice imitations, fake songs lampooning their nostrums, and other sacred cows. But what made him successful was that he knew what he was talking about. Limbaugh did his homework and argued persuasively. He knew history and he had the facts in his favor. Filling three hours a day, five days a week, year after year, Rush occasionally exaggerated claims, and sometimes his predictions were not right. But he stated that he was right "99.9 percent of the time," and he was a lot closer to that than he was wrong.
The Left went after him with everything they had. They tried liberal talk shows, but their dismal failures just made Rush's success more obvious. Rush was overweight, so they made fun of him. A member of the Dumbellionite Class named Al Franken, who it has been scientifically proven is not a pimple on Rush's buttocks, wrote a book called "Rush Limbaugh Is A Big Fat Idiot". The book sold pretty well. Then Franken wrote another book, which was read by nobody. It turned out his first book only sold because Rush's name was on it. Nice. Then Rush lost weight and now looks terrific. Franken realized the only books he could write that would sell would have conservatives in the title, so he wrote a book using Fox News' "Fair and Balanced" moniker. It sold. Franken remains a Dumbellionite.
The liberals desperately tried to find something wrong with Rush, in his personal life, his family, his formative years, and his hard-luck period. Anything they could pin on the man. They found out his family was as upright as the one Beaver Cleaver grew up in. Rush never broke laws, never got in trouble, and did the right thing in every aspect of his life. He was as straight an arrow as they get. In 2003, the Left thought they "got" him when Limbaugh's addiction to painkillers was made public. Limbaugh simply took personal responsibility, never complained, and dealt with the results of his actions. When he returned to the radio, he was as big as ever.
In 1992, Rush went after the Clintons hard. When they won, it looked to be a major refutation of his power. Rush had become an icon of the right, a man that President Bush and the Republicans took very seriously - as did the Democrats. Criticizing him was not easy, since he had so many defenders and he possessed a platform. What Rush did more than anything was to expose the Left wing bias in the "dominant media culture," which he said was all of the media other than him. There was the media and the Left, all together. Then there was him.
Democrats complained and proposed Federal laws giving them equal time.
"I am equal time," Rush responded.
If Rush had three hours, they should have three hours to respond to him. Naturally, this meant that radio stations far and wide, who were making money hand over foot with Rush, were expected to put some boredom liberal on the air and watch their profits sink from a lack of listeners. Rush won in the marketplace of ideas, the freest possible example of choice, and conservatism was the winner.
Rush never blinked with the Clintons in the White House, stating that his show would be stronger than ever because now he had so much material, courtesy of their scandals. He was right again. He devised faux news reports describing "America held hostage" by the Clintons, and created hilarious songs bastardizing their lies, with a Hillary sound-alike responding "I don't recall" in Hillaryious fashion. A Sonny and Cher takeoff of "I Got You, Babe" turned into Hillary and Bill turning state's evidence on each other. He aired an Elvis impersonator singing a version of "The Ghetto", only it was a "liberal guy and a liberal gal" driving a Yugo to save mileage and do their part for the environment because "don't you know those SUVs are rapin' the land…?" only the liberals in the tiny Yugo are smashed by a Mack truck on the interstate. It was insane. He got a Teddy Kennedy sound-alike to do a parody of "The Wanderer".
"I'm a philanderer, yes I'm a philanderer," replaced "I'm a wanderer, yes I'm a wanderer," and "I sleep around and 'round and 'round," replaced "I get around and 'round and 'round."
Everybody recalled the first time they heard Rush. He wrote two best-selling books and had his own TV show. He spawned conservative magazines and newspapers like the Washington Times. People who filled in for him as guest hosts became stars in their own right. Rush is the singular responsible entity for conservative media today. His influence is what has created the paradigm shift that has changed the political landscape of America. He is as much a part of the Republican Revolution of 1994 and the Republican majorities that today dominate the executive, legislative, judicial, statehouse and state legislatures as any other force. He is a force of nature, he is an American, and he belongs to us. God bless him.
By 1995, thanks to his guest host spots and the demand for conservative content, others followed in his footsteps. Ken Hamblin called himself the "Black Avenger." Operating out of Denver, he represented the new "black conservative" movement which unfortunately has never materialized among blacks, but in a weird twist on affirmative action has become extremely popular with whites. Hamblin proposed a book with the questionable title "Please Don't Feed the Blacks", and was excoriated by the "brothers" for selling out. In the mean time, he doled out intelligence, patriotism, decency and common sense in huge doses, not concerned with any lack of so-called "street cred."
Larry Elder followed Hamblin's lead as a black conservative on KABC, the former L.A. sports station that now is conservative. In San Francisco, Michael Savage carved out a huge niche for himself. He started at KSFO, the conservative giant that was so successful that today KNEW has gone to the right, causing the liberals of the Bay Area many headaches with not one but two conservative stations in their midst. Savage is the most controversial of the conservatives, so hardcore that even Republicans tend to steer clear of him. He has been demonized as a hater, a warmonger, a racist and a homophobe. He does occasionally get out of control and says things he would be better off not saying. However, he has been painted unfairly. Savage has a Ph.D. He experienced what he says was reverse racism from colleges who would not hire him. He shades and exaggerates and generalizes, and probably would be the first to admit it. What makes his listeners so loyal is that every day, in between his rants and raves, he states pure, unadulterated Truths. He is not afraid to step on toes and talk about issues like race and homosexuality. He says things many feel but are afraid to opine. This is the core of his popularity. His detractors would have you believe his listeners are just racists, but Savage reaches "angry white males" who are not racist, but are sick and tired of being called racist.
Savage will say something like, "What America needs is not more tolerance, but more intolerance." Statements like this, heard on their own or appearing in print, seem hard to defend. What is required in order to "get" Savage is to hear him in context, over a period of time, and to be intellectually honest with ones' self. The "intolerance" statement, for instance, was in response to liberal attacks against the Patriot Act, and pervasive fear that Savage has about the future of not just American culture, but America itself. It was in response to his belief that oversensitive, Politically Correct, race-conscious Leftists can weaken this nation's resolve to a) maintain the traditions that make the U.S. strong, and b) worse, create moral relativism that could prevent us from doing the necessary work in winning the War on Terrorism. No liberal will be "turned around" by Savage, but if they are fair and honest about him they will not view him in the cartoonish manner that many do.
Savage expresses the outrage people feel over seeing bums in the street, but are afraid to say anything about for fear of being called heartless. When a black criminal commits a heinous crime but the media hides his race, but splashes a white criminal all over the news, Savage simply reveals it. He asks for a world in which everybody lives up to their responsibilities. His cosmopolitan background - immigrant son, New York Jew, one-time Democrat, man of the street - gives him what he calls a "compassionate conservatism." Savage rails about homosexual activists and filthy public displays, but has no animus for individual gays. He calls the Jesse Jacksons of the world what they are - charlatans - but he is not prejudiced. Savage is a man to listen to, and in so doing one discovers that the lies told about him are just that, lies.
G. Gordon Liddy drives the liberals as batty as Rush, because he was an official Republican "bad guy," the man behind Watergate. So what does he do? He drives a fancy sports car with the license plates, "H20GATE." Liddy, like Oliver North, makes no effort to hide behind his official actions, and was elevated to high status by the opinion of millions of American citizens that what he did was actually good. In Liddy's case, people view Watergate as something Kennedy and Johnson had done, and in light if the "civil war" atmosphere in the streets, and the desire not to let the Kennedys steal another election, the break-in was almost justified.
Liddy plays to highly macho sensibilities, is extremely sexual, loves guns, has a Pattonesque view of warfare, and takes on a conspiratorial, partisan view of the Clintons. He is nobody's fool, speaking several languages, and his education is first rate. He also has his pet peeves, such as "prison guards," who he has low regard for because they were his overseers when he served time.
Rush gave Sean Hannity his start, when he filled in for him. He is the most traditional, straightforward of the Republican hosts. Hannity is a good Catholic boy from Long Island, very strict and proper in his views regarding language, religion, morality, family values and the proper treatment of women. He is not afraid to have liberals on his show, and he is respectful towards them, drawing them in and, frankly, learning from them. His show lacks the fireworks of Savage or Liddy, and the factual evidence presented by Rush or Michael Reagan. It becomes slightly bland at times. Hannity co-hosts a Fox News program called Hannity and Colmes with liberal counterpart Alan Colmes. He is well suited for TV in appearance and smooth delivery. Colmes is a good man, but one feels a little sorry for him because, especially since the Bush Presidency started, the conservatives have been winning most of the battles. His attempts to oppose them, to meet the show's debate-style format, have left him grasping. Hannity needs to tone down his gloating just a little bit, but he is a gentleman (as is Colmes).
Michael Reagan is the former President's adopted son. Unlike his offbeat brother Ron, he is rock solid. Michael is totally unflappable, and loyal to his father in the manner of a true believer. His greatest trait is research and total knowledge of issues, including the most arcane policies, legislation, budgetary matters, and the like. He manages to dispense this while staying interesting, although he does occasionally go over his listeners' heads.
Bill O'Reilly is a TV star on Fox News. His foray into talk radio has been met with mixed reviews. O'Reilly may be the most opinionated of all the opinionators (with the possible exception of Rush). He is an Irish Catholic from the Boston area. His views are less conservative and more oriented towards common sense. He bills himself as an independent or a libertarian, which is the official line of Elder and Savage, as well. Like Savage, he criticizes the Republicans and makes a point of not walking in lock step with the party, which Hannity does and perhaps Reagan appears to do. O'Reilly's "non-partisan" assessment of himself is the party line of Fox News, which is accused of conservative bias. Like Fox, O'Reilly's approach walks a relatively new line. He calls his TV show, The O'Reilly Factor, a "no spin zone," asserting that only facts are allowed no matter how it plays out. O'Reilly is definitely conservative, but he is also right most of the time, which begs the question, If something that is right is considered conservative, then is it conservative or just right?
Some conservatives get irritated with O'Reilly because he calls it against the Republicans when he sees it that way. One can imagine that he would have jumped all over Nixon during Watergate. But his show has coincided with the Clintons, who were such easy targets, and the Bush Presidency, which has been easy to support. O'Reilly's final judgment may not be until he faces a crisis in which a Republican Administration or set of policies fails and is worthy of real criticism. This may or may not happen soon. What sets O'Reilly aside from Rush in particular is his attachment to non-political issues, especially involving children. He is seen as the champion of ordinary people, which fits with his blue-collar background (although his education, which includes places like Harvard, is top notch). O'Reilly is a bit full of himself. I do not know him or have inside information on him, but I sense that he takes himself way too seriously. Of course, there is no doubt that he is a power in this country.
Fox News is a source of controversy, especially during the Iraq War of 2003. Fox came about in part because of the success of Rush, who exposed liberal media bias. In turn, various conservative publications, like Human Events, Newsmax and sister book publications like Regnery sprouted up (or emerged from obscurity). Conservative writers became superstars, authoring best sellers. The Clintons became a cottage industry of books detailing their crimes and murders in Arkansas, their White House corruption, their sellout to China, illegal fundraising, and various derelictions of the public trust. Conservative writers and authors were matched with conservative magazines, newspapers and publishers, giving them a forum on conservative talk radio. The next step was to elevate them to the television screen.
By the mid-1990s, liberal media bias was no longer a "myth" or a complaint, but simply that with which was known by people who recognized facts. The conservatives had obviously shown themselves to be the driving force of American politics, first through Reagan, then in the post-Persian Gulf War period when George H.W. Bush had 91 percent approval ratings, and in the 1994 G.O.P. sweeps. Clinton was President, but he was so divisive and the source of so much political criticism that he helped Fox more than hurt it. In fact, he made it what it was.
Conservative talk radio was a hit, so TV seemed to be the next logical step.
Australian media mogul Rupert Murdoch, a conservative, bankrolled the operation and put the brilliant Republican media strategist, Roger Aisles, in charge. It was a hit from the beginning, with O'Reilly ascending to star status quickly.
The question has always been whether Fox is "conservative," biased to the right, or "fair and balanced" journalism, as they advertise themselves. This again goes to the question not necessarily of politics, but of common sense. If a sports columnist covers the New York Yankees and writes "the Yankes are the greatest sports franchise in history," is he biased toward the Yankees or simply stating a fact. After all, all empirical evidence and fact backs up the claim. Fox has covered the lies and abominations of Bill Clinton, the failure of the Democrat party, and the contrast of successful Republican events. In simply stating the truth, which favors the conservatives, are they biased? Obviously, it is more complicated than that and this question is proffered by a conservative, so take it under that context. But all things considered, the accusation of bias against Fox does not easily stick.
Like O'Reilly, the final judgment of Fox will not come until a Republican Administration really screws up and deserves to take a beating.
What seems to have happened is that for decades, the media in all its forms was liberal. It was so liberal that the liberals in the media thought of themselves as moderate. After McCarthyism, and then again after Watergate, liberals dominated the journalism schools. They were out to right conservative "wrongs," and in the tradition of Woodward and Bernstein to bring down Republican bigshots. Where the bias became obvious was when it contrasted with the country itself. In 1972, members of the New York media establishment were astonished that McGovern lost 49 states. Some said they did not know a single person who voted for Nixon. This was as telling as it gets. They operated in a bubble, a vacuum, completely unaware of what Middle America thought.
Liberals promoted Democrat agendas and Democrat candidates, but despite their best efforts found themselves, almost to their astonishment, with Reagan. Reagan then actually used their medium, television, to take his case time after time to the American people, instead of using Congress or the media. Aisles was working for Reagan at that time. The Fox brainchild started then. Reagan could make a direct speech instead of submitting himself to the tender mercies of a de facto Democrat press conference or interview with a liberal media personality, all of which semi-resembled the "blame sessions" that British Prime Ministers have to give, by law, in Parliament.
The liberals realized their bias was not winning them the country. In fact it was working against them, but coming to this realization was not easy to accept. Like admitting the truth about Hiss, it was too ugly. So Murdoch and Aisles decided to simply make this fact known on its face. Thus Fox was born.
Fox has consistently kept themselves fair. They present both sides of issues and bring in a variety of guests from all sides of the political spectrum. Where the bias accusation comes into play is from the skewed perspective of liberals, who have been so far to the Left for so long that when they see moderation, it looks conservative to them. Their longstanding inability to connect with the American public is a symptom of the same liberal sickness that does not let them see Fox as balanced.
A perfect example is Hannity & Colmes. Liberals see Hannity and decide the show is conservative, as if the liberal Colmes, who gets equal time, and the guests, who are as likely to come from the Left as the right, are not even there. For years, a typical forum on CBS News, or the morning talk shows, consisted of one conservative surrounded by liberals, like a Roman gladiator battling lions and swordsmen in a noble, losing effort. Suddenly Fox evens such forums out 3-3, or God forbid puts four conservatives and two liberals in a room, and they are, as Tim Robbins called them in a voiceover attempt at sounding like FDR, "19th Century Fox."
O'Reilly was accused of conservative bias, but perhaps to combat this he has gone out of his way to criticize the G.O.P. Still, the man is conservative and nobody can deny it. The show also features a bevy of very attractive women, which taps into something that country music fans have known forever. Beautiful, patriotic women are sexy as hell. After year and years of mean-faced, clipped-haired liberal women pursing their lips in agitation and outrage against evil Republicans, lovely, intelligent American women who dig this country is the freshest breath of air to sweep this fine land in a long, long time.
Many of the news commentators and reporters are accused of right wing bias, but the 2003 Iraq War revealed a basic truth that differentiates Fox from its competitors. CNN and other stations have long advocated that they are not American news organizations. They have made the decision that to maintain journalistic integrity, they must not favor the U.S., or advocate for the U.S. Conservatives have regaled them for this, and it is easy to do. There is a modicum of value to this approach. After all, they are charged with providing straight news, know matter how it plays out.
However, two things have discredited them. The first is history. America is not an infant country anymore. It has reached the point where it has a track record. There is no realistic way to look at that track record and not conclude that the U.S. is the one country that has done more to help the world, to save the world, to protect the world, and to make the world a better place, than all other nations in recorded history put together. But liberals are like New Yorkers who hate the Yankees, not because of their occasional failure but because of their constant success. The Oppenheimer mindset has pervaded them; they admit America is good, but its overwhelming goodness offends the sensibilities of fairness. It does not play into their notion of "equality," which they want to mold into an outcome in which all are given credit, even if credit is not due. Liberals deny history. Worse than that, they slipped, in Vietnam, during Watergate, and during the Reagan years, to not simply endorsing a neutral stance, but to an opposition stance. The conservatives were aligned with America. Liberals, in aligning against conservatives, therefore stood against America. They began to lie. When Rush Limbaugh came along, their lies began to be identified and exposed, en masse, for the first time.
While Fox openly rooted for the U.S. in Iraq, the other networks were exposed as friendly servants of our enemies. An example was CNN, where it was revealed that news chief Eason Jordan admitted that he had learned "awful things" of Iraq (torture, murder, assassination plots) but did not report them, because he had access to high-placed sources in Saddam's government. He was allowed to maintain a large staff in Baghdad, who became Saddam's de facto mouthpiece in America. Memos and faxes from CNN employees warning that Saddam was using them went unheeded. Instead, Bernard Shaw, CNN's anchor, chose not to "antagonize" the Iraqis by reporting truthful facts about them. CNN somehow deemed it more important to maintain a presence in Bagdhad, as if they were able to report scoops from there. When they did learn inside things, they did not report them. They could have embraced the banal silence of evil from anywhere.
Fox does not deny history. They embrace their Americanism, and in so doing they embrace patriotism. They made the decision, which came to a head when the U.S. went into Iraq to rid the world of Saddam, not just to cover the war, but to root for America. This nation's citizens do not want to see commentators on their screens who want Ho Chi Minh and the Viet Cong to win. They are funny that way.
"Useful idiots" and liberal media bias
"I can't believe it. I don't know a single person who voted for him!"
11 Film critic Pauline Kael, speaking about Richard Nixon, the day after Nixon won 49 states to George McGovern's one.
In 2003, two excellent books hit the shelves. "Useful Idiots" by Mona Charen described "how liberals got it wrong in the Cold War and still blame America first." "Treason" by Ann Coulter passed Hillary Clinton's "Living History" in sales, and described "liberal treachery from the Cold War to the War on Terrorism". They were preceded by Bernard Goldberg's excellent "Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News".
Now that the conservatives have made major in-roads in the media, liberals, bless their hearts, are pushing for government intervention. It is the first step in the "panic of the 21st Century," which is the decline and eventual destruction of liberalism as a force in American politics.
In 2003, liberals still dominate the editorial boards of most of the nation’s influential daily newspapers, the three major television networks, and Hollywood. But their hold is no longer what it once was. It is true that in the late 19th and early 20th Century, many newspapers were "owned" by political parties. William Randolph Hearst was a conservative who controlled media in his day more than any current mogul. Many feel that Rupert Murdoch controls "too much" media. He owns Fox, Fox News, its affiliates, Hollywood studios, some Internet sites, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the New York Post, plus assorted U.S., English and other newspapers, and various additional holdings. But he is not the largest owner of media outlets. He is just the most influential, the most successful and the one everybody is trying to copy (or soon will be).
Goldberg’s expose of elite media’s obliviousness to their bias revealed that they see their liberalism as objectivity. Bias to them comes from those who stray from the plantation and show themselves to be conservatives. They exclude themselves from self-criticism and use the First Amendment as a shield. They have no idea how to deal with competition or accountability. Bill Clinton complained that it was unfair there was no "truth detector" to compete with Rush Limbaugh. Liberals have tried to "blame" conservative success on the airwaves to "angry white males" who they would have you believe are responsible for racist militias and terrorist bombings.
Liberal Eric Alterman came out with "What Liberal Media?" to counter Goldberg’s "Bias", and Ann Coulter’s "Slander". Nobody bought it. They always fall back on the so-called Fairness Doctrine in hopes that it will save America from tuning in to what they like to hear.
Many on the Left who reproach conservatives are artists, who like journalists too often think of themselves as being above reproach. Many have great talent, which they somehow think equates with moral superiority. Richard Wagner, one of the world's greatest composers, was a racist anti-Semite. Beethoven and Mozart were for all practical purposes perverts. Herbert von Karajan, a celebrated 20th Century conductor, was an apologetic Hitler supporter after the Fuhrer's death. Paul Robeson supported Stalin long after his murderous regime was exposed (although Robeson eventually came to see the error of his views and "confessed" his "sins" on his deathbed).
Some artists are morally upright. Arturo Toscanini and Pablo Casals are examples, as was the wonderful actor Jimmy Stewart, who was a Republican, a World War II fighter pilot, and rose to the rank of Air Force General in the Reserves. But novelist Norman Mailer stabbed his first wife and worked tirelessly to release a murderer who, upon that release, murdered again. Mailer today rails against George Bush and the Republicans. It is a free world, but is he really eligible? On the other hand, guys like Mailer are great advertisements for why the Republicans are popular.
In the opera (now movie) "The Death of Klingman", Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Adama presents Palestinian terrorists hijacking the Achille Lauro and murdering Jewish-American passenger Leon Klinghoffer in a way that shows "neither side is beyond reproach." Jane Fonda committed treason. Woody Allen makes movies that lie about McCarthyism, but married his adopted daughter. All of this is worth considering when looking at web sites, banners and protest organizations starting with the words "Artists for…"
The "paper of record" is the New York Times, but their bias against Republicans and conservatives is so pervasive and obvious that in many quarters they have forfeited their position. The paper is and always will be influential. They have a huge worldwide subscription base and additional readership through newsrack sales and the Internet. A Times editorial or expose is still a day of reckoning for political figures. But much of what people read in this paper is now filtered through the lens not only of bias, but in light of the 2003 Jayson Blair scandal, credibility.
Blair was a young black reporter who was, basically, hired because he was black. His work was littered with inaccuracies and outright falsehoods, based more on shoddy work ethic and minimal "research" than any political axe grinding. His failures were well known to his editors, who if he were white would have fired him post haste. When his fake stories became public, he was let go amid great scandal. The "grey lady," as the Times is known, was hurt by other similar stories involving their staff. Eventually editor Howell Raines had to step down.
Media credibility can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. In the past 10 years, the conservative media has become the place where real news often emanates. The Washington Times is a conservative paper, loudly condemned by its competition for years. They were founded by the Reverend Syung Myung Moon, a multi-millionaire Korean Christian evangelist whose organization, known as "Moonies," practices a form of mind control over its adherents.
Moon's association with the paper set it back, but a funny thing happened along the way. Many of the best journalists in the country went to work for the paper. The Times has developed a reputation for providing some of the most truthful news in the business, which not surprisingly is not found anywhere else. It has become, again to the consternation of liberals, a big success. What has become more and more apparent is that many great journalists are conservative, but nobody read them for years because the big newspapers did not hire them. Today, most of the best-known writers and media personalities in papers, magazines, the Internet and on TV, are conservative. They have earned this through talent, hard work and honesty. Conservative media has had to be honest because their mistakes get magnified, while for years liberal news organs just slid by.
Nixon's Vice-President, Spiro Agnew, called the media the "nattering nabobs of negativism." Limbaugh pointed out that the media was negative by de-crying such talk shows as "Meet the Depressed" and "Slay the Nation." L. Brent Bozell documented liberal media bias. But it was Goldberg who seemed to have broken through an invisible barrier when he wrote a 1996 Wall Street Journal piece about bias. Goldberg was a longtime CBS news journalist, and his article raised hackles with news division president Andrew Heyward and Dan Rather.
Goldberg was threatened, and when he revealed what Heyward, Rather and others said to him, they all lied in denying it. His career was destroyed, although in reality he stepped up, becoming a best selling author and Fox contributor. The Left called him a traitor because Goldberg had been one of them, a liberal. But he had integrity.
He pointed out that liberal news outlets repeated figures on AIDS and homelessness that they knew were lies, but promulgated the concept of America (and by insinuation conservatives) as a heartless, uncaring place (and that only liberal news pandering felt this countries' pain).
He pointed out that Peter Jennings would refer to "conservatives" and "extreme conservatives" in relation to negative stories, but never referred to the likes of Ted Kennedy as "liberals" or "extreme liberals," and also never aired negative stories about them unless it could not be helped. Networks liked to show blonde-haired, blue-eyed "victims" of social injustice, to promote the concept that America was failing even its white citizens. The problem was often that they had to "scout" many white victims over a long period of time, passing up minorities in the process. Heyward had told Goldberg that "of course" networks tilt to the Left, but he then said he would deny saying it if he went public. Rather told Goldberg that he considered himself a "moderate," but Goldberg pointed out first Rather's obvious liberal tendencies, then explained that in Rather's world everybody was so liberal that they thought they were moderate. Liberals rarely admit to being liberals. Conservatives wear that label with pride. Res ipsa loquiter.
Goldberg pointed out that in 1996 Republican Presidential candidate Steve Forbes, "a rich conservative white guy, the safest of all media targets," had proposed a flat tax plan. It was a solid plan supported by many respected economists like Milton Friedman, among numerous others. CBS News reporter Eric Engberg did a segment of Reality Check using words like "scheme" and "elixir" to dismiss the plan as a con job, and invited only economists who disagreed with it to comment on it. Engberg called Forbes' plan "wacky." Goldberg pointed out that no network reporter would have called Hillary's health care plan wacky.
Liberal economic theory is best summarized by Clinton's campaign strategist, Paul Begala, who replied to a question about the "rich" from Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, ""Fuck them," Begala said.
In the 1980s, homeless advocates gave enormous, inflated figures describing the number of homeless in America. The networks repeated the figures, even though they were untrue. Goldberg pointed out that not only did they want to give the impression that Reagan's America produced more homeless, but in doing "man on the street" (literally) stories, executives wanted to show white families. Reporters went to homeless areas and found…bums. Dirty, filthy, alcohol- and drug-addled bums who had nobody to blame but themselves for their predicament. This did not fit the liberal schemata. Long, often-fruitless searches were conducted to find white families in shelters, to portray to the country the falsehood that Reagan's policies were affecting "everybody." Goldberg went to his bosses and complained.
AIDS created the same reportage. The media desperately wanted to hang the disease around Reagan's neck, claiming that "heartless Republicans" had let the disease spread uncontrollably - as if a mysterious virus emanating (we still are not sure) from African monkeys could just be corralled in no time by U.S. tax dollars. The media spent countless hours trying to convince the public that AIDS was not a gay disease. Normal people, through the process of living and experience over a period of years, eventually realized that AIDS was rarely spread to males through heterosexual contact. Bi-sexual men and drug addicts who contracted the disease through needles passed it on to women, and of course gays passed it on to each other through anal sex.
In Africa, the same myths have been passed down. Millions are said to die from AIDS. There is no question that it is an epidemic there. For reasons that defy any reasonable explanation, the disease is passed on among heterosexuals in Africa, whereas it rarely is anywhere else. This is a mystery beyond explanation. What the media, to this day, rarely report is that AIDS spreads rapidly in Africa because of immoral sexual habits and rape, but the real "secret" is that millions who have died or are dying from "AIDS" actually have other diseases. It is just easier to condense the deaths into a single killer: AIDS. President Bush has committed billions to fighting the disease, and amazingly liberals complain because he is endorsing an "abstinence program." The last time anybody checked, abstinence from sex and drugs stopped AIDS 100 percent of the time, but the Left does not want George Bush to tell African men who they can rape.
Homelessness did not go down under Bill Clinton. Reporting on it did. AIDS did no go down immediately under Clinton, but reporting on it did. ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN did 71 homeless stories in four years under the first President Bush. In Clinton's first four years, they did nine. Eventually, through science and research that had nothing to do with Republicans or Democrats, AIDS deaths have been reduced. Many gay men, in turn, have decided that since new "AIDS cocktails" can keep the disease in check, they can have unprotected sex and that being HIV positive is a "badge of honor."
In the modern news media, Catharine MacKinnon, a feminist ideologue who once equated all sexual intercourse with rape, is an expert. Conservative Phyllis Schlafly is a "right wing commentator." Clarence Thomas commits sexual harassment and Anita Hill is believed. The Christian Coalition is a conservative organization; the National Organization for Women (NOW) is a women's group. Robert Bork is a "conservative judge" but Laurence Tribe is a "Constitutional expert." Tom Selleck and Bruce Willis are "conservative actors." Barbra Streisand and Rob Reiner are political activists. Rush Limbaugh is a "conservative talk show host." Rose O'Donnell was a talk show host.
During the Clinton impeachment hearings, ABC's Peter Jennings prefaced all conservative politicians as "conservative" and "right wing," but just mentioned Senator Boxer, Senator Kennedy, Senator Barbara Mikulski, and so on. Dan Rather calls the Wall Street Journal editorial page "conservative" and the New York Times "middle of the road." They have not endorsed a Republican since Dwight Eisenhower. But hundreds of millions of ordinary citizens have.
When former Atlanta Braves' pitcher John Rocker spouted off to a Sports Illustrated reporter about "some kid with purple hair, next to some queer with AIDS, right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time, right next to some 29-year old mom with four kids," he accurately described a ride in the New York subway system. The media beat him up within an inch of his proverbial life for it. They never would have attacked Louis Farrakhan or Jessie Jackson for their intemperate remarks about Jews in the same manner, or for Hillary Clinton's anti-Semitic remarks during her 2000 Senate campaign.
Over the years, polls of major news organizations - the New York Times, Washington Post, the networks - revealed that somewhere between 70 and 90 percent of their journalists voted Democrat. Dismissing the issue of whether this "bias" is good or bad, it simply reflects a vast chasm between the public and the individuals who feed them their news. No wonder there is so much hunger for different content. The old days are gone. The public has gone through Watergate, cable TV, tabloids, and the Internet. They are a sophisticated, media-savvy lot who thirsts for real, true news. They do not trust as they used to, and will not be re-assured by FDR's "fireside chats."
The media are products of their environments, which are the coasts, Los Angeles, New York and Washington. They do not emerge from the heartland, and do not reflect the sensibilities of what many disparagingly refer to as "fly-over country." When they venture into America to cover campaigns, their reports often sound like they are from a foreign land. They are not members of the American Legion or the Kiwanis Club. They are not, by and large, church goers. A man like Gary Bauer, who runs the Christian Coalition, is said be "building a bridge to the 19th Century" by the Left wing moralist Anna Quindlen. Roxanne Russell of the CBS News Washington Bureau calls him "that little nut,". This is, in my view, is as egregious as talking about "that little Jewish nut case" who runs a pro-Israel lobby (Sam Schwartz), or "that dumbass Negroid" (Jesse Jackson) or "that little fairy, Billy Smith" who organizes gay parades.
Ted Turner is out-and-out prejudiced against Christians, calling them Jesus freaks and going into tirades when CNN employees display any Christian symbols. He calls Christianity a religion of "losers," somehow not making the connection with the rise of Christians from lion's food to the official religion of the Roman Empire.
Liberals in the press are amazingly hypocritical. Howard Cosell was far to the Left on the political spectrum, presumably in favor of women's rights. In the mid-1980s, when women were not yet major players in sport's journalism, I heard him interviewed on the radio by Lisa Bauman of KABC in Los Angeles. Lisa asked Cosell a standard question, and his reply was, "You have the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen." He never answered her question, condescending to her as a fraud trying to make it a man's business. Cosell was the first to tell the rest of America to open up their professions to competition from women, but not his, thank you.
After America won the Cold War, liberals divided into two camps. One camp tried to jump on the bandwagon, taking equal credit with conservatives for the victory. The others decided there was no victory.
"I don't know any American Soviet scholar who believes the United States ended the Cold war," wrote Frances Fitzgerald in "Way Out There in the Blue".
Bill Clinton would have you believe that his evasion of the draft and subsequent mysterious trip to Moscow at the height of the Vietnam War helped us win the Cold War. He gives Reagan and Bush no credit for winning it, stating that it is like "the rooster taking credit for the Sun rise."
After Reagan's "evil empire" speech in 1983, the Washington Post's Mary McGrory wrote, "The President…embarrasses them <members of Congress> with his talk of the Soviets as the 'evil empire,' but they think he has convinced the country that the Communists are worse than the weapons."
Anthony Lewis of the New York Times said Reagan's words were "primitive," and completely disregarded the idea that there was a good side and a bad side to the arms race. Seweryn Bialer of Columbia University worried that Reagan had ruffled Soviet "patriotic pride," arguing that the Soviet deserved to be given legitimacy. This would be like apologizing to Hitler for treading on "German pride" when American moralizing de-legitimized the Third Reich. Bialer apparently wanted to legitimize the gulags and the millions who died in them and (and at the time he made his comments) still were dying in them.
When the Bolsheviks murdered the Romanovs and abandoned the Allies in World War I, Beatrice and Sydney Webb of the New York Times and the infamous Times' Russia correspondent Walter Duranty offered rosy assessments of Lenin and Stalin. The Communists were blackmailing Duranty because they knew he was a homosexual.
"I have seen the future and it works," wrote Lincoln Steffens.
When word of Stalin's purges reached the U.S. in the 1930s, in which some 10 million were murdered by Stalin in terror-famines, causing Communist Party U.S.A. rolls to be drastically reduced, Duranty reported that the reports were all lies.
Franklin Roosevelt was stunned that his American-style charm offensive had not worked on "Uncle Joe" Stalin. Harry Truman confided in friends that his worry was not Soviet Communism but British imperialism. Bertrand Russell wrote in the Manchester Guardian that America during McCarthy's time was a reign of terror comparable to living in Nazi Germany, despite the fact that one percent of the American population voted "McCarthy going after Communists" as the biggest problem in the country in 1954. He polled well over 50 percent approval in that year's Gallup poll.
Arthur Miller wrote "The Crucible" and Woody Allen made "The Front" to depict
an era of "hysteria," even though it was the "Hollywood Ten," not the "Hollywood One Thouand!" Apparently liberals think Communist screenwriters have a "divine right" to work in Hollywood, as William Phillips, editor of Partisan Review, pointed out in a defense of McCarthy.
Angela Davis was the vice-presidential candidate of Communist Party U.S.A. She had smuggled a gun into San Quentin Prison, which was used to murder a judge and paralyze the district attorney. The press called her an "activist," stating that to call her a "Communist" would be "McCarthyism." In 2001, Arthur Miller referred to "McCarthy's fascism" on National Public Radio.
Bill Moyers, a true liberal who worked for Lyndon Johnson, admitted that the general assumption on the part of LBJ's administration was that "if we injected a little power" on Hanoi, the Communists would cease to resist. Under Kennedy, even the New York Times agreed with RFK's 1962 assessment that, "We are going to win in Vietnam." The paper opined that, "No one except a few pacifists here and the North Vietnamese and Chinese Communists are asking for a precipitate withdrawal. Virtually all Americans understand that we must stay in South Vietnam at least for the near future."
When the war was no longer Kennedy's, and especially when it became Nixon's, the Times and their chattering compatriots turned against the U.S. The "little power" was not used by the Democrats when they were in a position to make it work. By the time the Republicans came to the White House the Communists were dug in deep, and the press would not allow such power to be used. The American media was the greatest ally of Communism in Vietnam.
The anti-war Left explained American involvement in Vietnam as pure imperialism. The 1960s and 1970s represented the "golden era" of American liberalism. It was a period in which they looked to be close to having "won" the historical "battle" with conservatism. But they forfeited their "victory" because they endorsed Communism despite knowing full well what it was. They could not offer the excuse of "blindness" that American Communists of the 1920s might have been forgiven for.
The press was their willing accomplice. They misquoted an Army officer, changing his words into, "We had to destroy the village in order to save it." Peter Arnett of the A.P. had changed the quote from the original statement, which was that the Vietnamese had destroyed the town, and the officer said that had been a "shame." Arnett and his handlers shaped it and changed "town" to "village." Ben Tre, the town, was in fact a multi-storied town with buildings and paved streets, not a "village." They ran a Pulitzer Prize-winning photo of a screaming, naked child running from a napalm blast. Later, it was discovered the photo of the girl was taken after most U.S., troops had left, and the napalm was dropped not by the Americans, but by the South Vietnamese, who called in the attack when her village was raped and pillaged by Communists. The girl, Kim Phuc, eventually fled the Communists to Canada, and she expressed only hatred for what the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong had done to her people. Despite prodding, she refused to badmouth America.
Walter Cronkite's reports, which were viewed by the Communists as well as the American public, were filled with negativity about a corrupt government in Saigon and the "misery" that we brought to the country. Later, Cronkite stated that the U.S. "overreacted" to the Soviets and that "fear of the Soviets taking over the world just seemed as likely to me as invaders from Mars."
Reports from soldiers in Vietnam recounted press narratives that depicted civilians as terrified and dying, villages destroyed, napalm dropped indiscriminately. Those who were on the scene stated that most of the killing was done by the North Vietnamese, who killed more civilians resisting them than Hitler killed Frenchmen. The press wanted the public to think of the Marines as walking about villages, torching them with zippo lighters, while hundreds of non-combatants were routinely killed in U.S. bombings and operations. The press talked about the destruction of "homes" that were little more than straw shacks built by nomadic people, but they wanted the viewers to believe the U.S. was destroying dwellings that represented "a lifetime of backbreaking labor," according to CBS' Morley Safer, or villages that had "stood for a thousand years," according to Oliver Stone.
The descriptions of Americans fighting in Vietnam defy logic and everything we have ever known about U.S. service personnel, from the Revolutionary War to Afghanistan and Iraq. To buy the theory that suddenly the Americans were war criminals, "baby killers," and genocidal mass murderers of civilian populations, is to believe that a single generation of fighting men completely broke from all prior tradition, but a few years later re-grouped and went back to the old traditions of adhering to the proper conduct of war. One theory was that racism played a nasty role in the 'Nam, because the enemy and the ally were Oriental. If this were true, then our treatment of the Japanese and Chinese in World War II, when Americans were less "enlightened" than in the 1960s, would have lead to massive war crimes. What the world learned from the American media was a Big Lie, nothing less than a concerted liberal attempt to "bad mouth" our efforts at defeating Communism in Vietnam. Why? There is no easy, single answer. Certainly the Alger Hiss affair had created the need for the Left to downplay the dangers of Communism, as embodied by Cronkite's assertion that a Martian attack was as likely as a Soviet one.
When My Lai occurred, naturally the press went crazy. They created a cottage industry of reports and stories meant to characterize the tragedy not as the exception, but the rule. Movies about Vietnam, including "Apocalypse Now", "Casualties of War" and "Platoon", chose to center much of the story line around My Lai-style war crimes and civilian murders. In "Apocalypse", Martin Sheen as Captain Willard states after a civilian boat girl is killed by a trigger-happy American, "We tear them to pieces then offer them a Band-Aid. It was a lie."
The Truth is that the Green Berets dug 6,436 wells, repaired 1,210 miles of road, and built 508 hospitals and dispensaries. In the U.S., liberals displayed photos of Communist icons like Ho Chi Minh and Che Geuvara along with the North Vietnamese flag. This was the flag of an enemy that was starving, beating and torturing U.S. POWs in the most appalling manner possible. "Useful idiots" like California Congressman Ron "Red" Dellums said the Americans were morally equal to the Nazis. Jane Fonda traveled to Hanoi to do their bidding, then offered herself to Tim Hayden, the leader of the anti-war movement. Hayden said that our involvement in Vietnam showed the "real identity" of "our genocidal history." Noam Chomsky called it our attempt to impose "our particular concept of order and stability" on the world, and that we had become the most "aggressive power" in the world. For Chomsky, a learned man who knows how World Wars I and II started, to say such a thing leads one to conclude only that he is a liar.
The events that followed Watergate completely contradict the Leftist portrayal of the U.S. as a racist exploiter. After the Democrats sold out Saigon, resulting in the Cambodian/Laotian/Vietnamese holocaust, hundreds of thousands of "boat people" struggled against all possible odds to escape the Communists. Their destination was not France, England, Canada, Australia, Japan, the Philippines or any of all other possibilities on the face of the Earth. Their choice was America, home of the "racists," the "war criminals" and the "genocidalists."
These people are the best possible example of why America is the "land of opportunity." They arrived on our shores in the late 1970s, penniless, homeless refugees with no sponsors, no education, unable to speak English. They were the lowest possible class of people in American society. They settled into small communities, often dubbed "little Saigon," in places like San Francisco, Garden Grove, California, and Texas. They lived in the worst slums of the inner cities, where drugs and prostitution dominated street life. They moved about like ghosts, selling fruit, working as seamstresses, opening liquor stores. Within a few years, it was obvious that the bums and dwellers of the urban core were still selling and ingesting drugs, prostituting their women, and occupying street corners in the manner of complete unaccountability. The new immigrants, the Vietnamese, were now owning stores, buying real estate, and forging lives of success in their adopted homeland. It was a replay of how Jews had immigrated to Palestine after World War I with nothing, and within a few years simply excelled. Today, the children of the Vietnamese "boat people" are graduates of prestigious colleges like Cal-Berkeley and UCLA. Imagine how much more successful these people would be if America were not a racist country!
Folk singer Joan Baez was an outspoken critic of the war. In 1979, when word was coming back regarding Pol Pot and the Communist murder of millions, Baez was among a small core of liberals who felt guilty that that they had backed the forces of evil. She began a campaign to alert the world to the horrors of Southeast Asia after the Democrats gave them up. She contacted prominent anti-war activists, liberals all, and asked them to lend their support to the new cause. Almost none had anything to say. She personally appealed to Fonda, who replied coldly, "Such rhetoric only aligns you with the most narrow and negative elements in our country who continue to believe that Communism is worse than death…I worry about the effects of what you are doing."
George McGovern traveled to Vietnam, let the Communists show him what they wanted to show him, then reported back that it was "their country and their choice." No majority of people in the history of Mankind, including the Russians of 1917, ever "chose" Communism.
"To keep hope alive one must, in spite of all mistakes, horrors, and crimes, recognize the obvious superiority of the socialist camp," French existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre once said. If he had added "National" before "socialist," would his words be considered wise, as they are by millions of Leftists worldwide?
The Khmer Rouge were led by an intellectual who had studied Sartre in Paris, named Pol Pot. When his "Red Cambodians" took over, they decided to save bullets, so they chose to murder through clubbing, asphyxiation and, in a move Mandela's African National Congress might have learned from, dousing heads in gasoline then setting them on fire. But they were "keeping hope alive" by demonstrating their "superiority."
The Khmer picked up on the Stalinist tactic of famine, reasoning that a starving population would not have the strength to mount a challenge. They also killed almost all the doctors in Cambodia, with predictable results. They were neither the first nor the last great mass murderers of Communism, who since 1917 have run up quite a record. The Soviets murdered at least 20 million of their citizens. China killed about 65 million of her countrymen. North Korea killed 2 million. North Vietnam contributed about a million. Cambodia added about 1.5 to 2.5 million. Cuba has probably killed about a million.
The Democrat response to the latest round of killing, as embodied by Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut, was to deny he favored "abandoning an ally…The greatest gift our country can give to the Cambodian people is not guns but peace. And the best way to accomplish that goal is by ending military aid now."
Sydney Schanberg wrote in the New York Times in 1975 "it is difficult to imagine how their lives could be anything but better with the Americans gone."
To this day, liberals like Ed Asner argue that the Americans created the "killing fields". The theory is that if the U.S. had never been in the region in the first place, the Communists would never have had the "need" to commit such atrocities. Of course, this fails on two counts. First, we were not in the U.S.S.R. or Eastern Europe, and aside from a short period after Inchon we were not in North Korea. Asner would have you believe Communist holocausts were the result of our influence. I suppose Clair Chenault and "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell were the reasons Mao killed 65 million Chinese? Meyer Lansky is to blame for the Cuban atrocities. But where Asner and his ilk truly miss the mark is in their morally relativistic attitude, excusing this kind of horror as being somehow justified. A common sense view of Cambodian history from 1975-79 requires blame assigned to Pol Pot and his henchmen, nobody else. Is it so hard to do? Asner would certainly not assign blame on the Holocaust to somebody other than the Germans. In his line of reasoning, the death camps would not be Hitler's fault. Rather it was those Jews who took up too many positions in the Berlin and Vienna art world, or Marxists in the early years of the Weimar Republic, or American industrialists who helped the Germans build their industry back up.
Yet Anthony Lewis wrote, "We dragged a peaceful country into a useless, devastating war - for our own purposes."
When journalists tried to tell the truth about Cambodia, people like Richard Dudman of the New York Times Book Review insisted that the countries' "conditions, while hard, seemed by no means intolerable." Later, when the mass killings were impossible to dispute, the Left portrayed them as the result of the Khmer having been driven "mad" by our bombing campaign, which had "taught" them to hate and dehumanize. This was the central tenet of the early part of "The Killing Fields". Liberal lies about Pol Pot were part of a long tradition, however.
George Bernard Shaw, who saw the U.S. and Great Britain as bent on "ruling" the world, said of the Russian Communists, "We cannot afford to give ourselves moral airs when our most enterprising neighbor <the Soviet Union> humanely and judiciously liquidates a handful of exploiters and speculators to make the world safe for honest men."
By the time Jimmy Carter was President, nobody used the term "Cold War" any more. Conservatives like William F. Buckley found themselves swimming upstream, calling d'etente "impacted diplomatic hypocrisy…<that> has not achieved freedom for Eastern Europe."
Liberals did not see Nixon's opening to China for what it was. They felt it was about peace and a new understanding. In truth, Nixon and Kissinger brilliantly created a triangulated strategy of linkage and self-interests, pitting Communist Goliath against Communist Goliath.
Democrat Senator Frank Church of Idaho, who had tried to dismantle the CIA in a vain effort at making himself look "Presidential" prior to the 1976 elections, was still calling anti-Communism "stupid" in 1984. He claimed that it had forced us on the side of corruption and put the Soviets on the "winning" side.
The English socialist economist John Maynard Keynes, who for some reason was elevated to almost-godlike status by New Dealers, said in 1934 that, "Communism is not a reaction against the failure of the 19th Century to organize optimal economic output. It is a reaction against its comparative success. It is a protest against the emptiness of economic welfare, an appeal to the ascetic of it all."
"Despite what many Americans think," lied Dan Rather in 1986, as if he knew what "most Americans were thinking" from his perch in Manhattan, "most Soviets do not yearn for capitalism or Western-style Democracy." One wonders, deep down, what went through Rather's mind when he saw the images of the cheering crowds at the Berlin Wall's crumbling.
In 1921, Walter Duranty had written that Lenin was giving the Russian masses "what they want." When the famine/tortures killed millions in the 1930s, Duranty wrote nothing about it, painting a rosy, Pulitzer-winning picture of Russia. His apologists later said he had been duped, not shown the realities of Communism. Eventually his letters and contemporaneous documents showed that Duranty knew full well what was going on.
In the mean time, Malcolm Muggeridge of the Manchester Guardian reported on the famine, and for his efforts was branded a liar, not by the Communists but by the…Western Communists.
Journalist I.F. Stone was hailed upon his death in 1989 as the "conscience of investigative journalism" by the L.A. Times. His motto was "no enemies to the Left." He had spent a lifetime telling the world that Communists educated their masses better, provided better health care, and abolished unemployment, all lies. Singer Pete Seeger crooned against the immorality of American development, education, capitalism and the desire to make a better life for one's family. He sang odes to Stalin and Ho Chi Minh. If the myth of McCarthyism were true, he would have been censored and jailed. He was a millionaire.
Paul Robeson was convinced Communism offered an answer to racism. He claimed blacks would not fight for America. He was friends with Itzhak Feffer, a Jewish poet. He traveled to Russia while Stalin was in the middle of a pogrom against Jews. When he tried to meet with Feffer he was told he was "vacationing in the Crimea." Feffer was actually in prison and weighed less than 100 pounds. Stalin wanted to use Robeson, so he had Feffer "fattened up," given medical treatment, and allowed to meet Robeson under surveillance that Feffer knew about, but Robeson did not. Feffer drew his finger to his throat and mouthed the words, "They're going to kill us."
Robeson returned to the States, fully aware of Feffer's fate, but he lied and said rumors of Jewish persecution were "malicious slanders." To his credit (kind of), Robeson made a death bed confession in which he revealed the truth about Feffer years later. The American industrialist Armand Hammer somehow became known as a liberal friend of the Soviets who did business in Russia for decades. Whether Hammer was a spy was never proven, but he did "admire" Feliks Dzerzhinsky, the ruthless head of the Cheka (the pre-cursor of the KGB), pointing out that the shooting of "lax" railroad officials resulted in the trains running efficiently thereafter.
The history of Western "useful idiots" has few greater buffoons, however, than Jimmy Carter's Ambassador to the United Nations, Andrew Young. In 1977, Young stated that American foreign policy for the previous 20 years was a "tragedy," meant not to "feed the hungry" but as an "apparatus of repression," and that there was no "danger" from a militarized Communist world. He endorsed Carter's "human rights" approach to foreign policy in the post-Church, post-Watergate era. Regarding Soviet human rights abuses, he just said they had a "different concept of human rights." Isn't that special?
His explanation as to why millions had died in the famines was that the Sun "sets as early as three o'clock," which apparently it had not done during the time of the Czars. Hmmm. He also seemed unable to explain how blizzards, droughts, floods, grasshoppers, prairie fires, the "dust bowl" and other farm disasters in the American Midwest had not produced similar famines. Russian weather apparently was worse and had gotten that way beginning in 1917. Amazingly, Young was not evoking sympathy for the farmers (who deserved it), but for the Soviet government, who in his view had valiantly struggled to provide for its people against all odds. He could not see that the "odds" were stacked against them because their system was fatally flawed. This would be like a baseball team that insists that pitching, defense and fundamentals are unimportant, stressing instead that the players all wear high stirrups (if not, the penalty is death) and then cannot understand why they are unable to defeat the Yankees.
In 1921 and 1922, 5 million Russians starved because Lenin stole their grains after a bad harvest in 1920. George Orwell said in "1984" that those who made war called it peace, those who imposed ignorance called it strength, and those who imposed slavery called it freedom. He could have been describing the early, horrid years of Bolshevism.
Leftist economist Paul Samuelson wrote, "What counts is results, and there can be no doubt that the Soviet planning system has been a powerful engine for growth." MIT's Lester Thurow praised the Soviets' "remarkable performance" that "bear comparison with the United States." If anything in the history of history is inferior to something that is superior, Communism and the Soviet Union are inferior to the superior U.S. That's what the meaning of is is.
When the Communists moved into Africa, Andrew Young thought it was a natural occurrence since Cuba and Africa "shared in a sense of colonial repression and domination." The Cubans "brought a certain stability and order to Angola." When the Soviets tried Anatoly Shcharansky and Alexander Ginzburg for treason, Young thought it was an "independent" gesture. Young compared assorted murderers and rapists in American jails to Scharansky and Ginzburg, saying that the U.S. had "political prisoners," too. Eventually Young, who it might be said is an actual member of the Dumbellionite Class, had to resign because he was getting too friendly with known terrorists.
When Yuri Andropov took over the U.S.S.R. in 1982, the American media saw no big problem with his previous career heading up the KGB, which would be about the same as not having a problem with Heinrich Himmler succeeding Hitler as German Fuhrer.
Instead, Andropov was called an "intellectual" by Dusko Doder of the Washington Post. Lenin and Pol Pot had been intellectuals. So were the chattering classes of the American media. The whole thing rang of an elitism in which these people saw themselves as better than the American public, and certainly in a position to tell them what to think. It reminds me of my fuzzyheaded editor at the San Francisco Examiner who told me he would rather have a free press than the right to vote. How convenient.
When Mikhail Gorbachev took over, the Left went into a state of euphoria.
"Gorbachev has probably moved more quickly than any person in the history of the world," said Ted Turner. "Moving faster than Jesus Christ did. America is always lagging six months behind." Of course, Turner thinks Christ was nothing more than a Jewish carpenter. He somehow believes that Gorbachev "moved faster" than, just to name a few, Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, or Oliver Cromwell.
Mary McGrory said Gorbachev has a "blueprint for saving the planet." Dan Rather described him in the manner not of a human but of a deity, while Democrats like Tip O'Neill said he reminded them of a Wall Street lawyer who would make a good Mayor of New York. Considering the liberal hold in New York at that pre-Giuliani time, maybe Gorby would have been better than what they had.
Time magazine, in the ultimate liberal apology, named Gorbachev "Man of the Decade" for the 1980s and called him "Communist Pope and the Soviet Martin Luther." The liberals used Gorbachev as an excuse to call anti-Communism, especially McCarthyism, a "grotesque exaggeration" (Strobe Talbott, Time). Gorbachev's new Communist "human face" made Reagan's efforts to aid the Contras more unpopular. The Sandinistas were described as "peaceful" and "Catholic," even though they adopted rigid Castroesque atheism.
Reagan's decision to deploy SS-20s and Pershing IIs in Europe created a hailstorm of Leftist protest. Arlo Guthrie sang "Blowin' in the Wind", which is where his brain would be if America did not protect him from Communist military expansion. Dumbellionites stuck signs on their bumpers reading, "You can't hug your kids with nuclear arms."
In the mean time, the Soviets expanded their espionage into the "unilateral nuclear disarmament" movements in West Germany, the U.S. and Switzerland. Soviet defector Stanislav Levchenko told the New York Times that the Communists' "success so far has been great" in infiltrating the nuclear protest movement. The Russians were far ahead of the U.S. in nuclear arms on European soil, but the liberals wanted only the Americans to remove their weapons. A segment of American Christianity, particularly the Papist-controlled Catholics, joined the anti-nuke movement in what I believe was a misguided attempt at promoting "arms control."
Numerous groups calling themselves Ground Zero, the Council for Nuclear Weapons Freeze, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Women's Strike for Peace, Mobilization for Survival, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, and the Committee for Peace in a Nuclear Age, joined with Americans for Democratic Action, the Citizens Party and Communist Party U.S.A. to protest build-up. Many of the groups were Communist fronts or not even fronts. All of them were ripe for Communist espionage, infiltration and manipulation.
Anti-Communist Democrats of the JFK variety had become rare. Washington Senator Henry Jackson was an exception, but his party considered him a dinosaur. An American Communist named Vladimir Pozner, who had moved to the U.S.S.R., was allowed to become a media superstar in the U.S. The American softening on Communism had led Leonid Brezhnev to state that "the general crisis of capitalism" had proved "convincing confirmation" of Communist superiority. The Russians actually believed they were wining, thanks in large part to a Western press that allowed that impression to foment.
Democrats like Teddy Kennedy spoke of "the annihilation of the human race" as if his brother alone possessed the wherewithal to deal with the Soviet threat. The film "The Day After", which starred Jason Robards in 1982, was meant not just to scare the daylights out of Americans when it came to the prospect of nuclear weapons, but strongly supported the notion that World War III would start by accident, American hubris or some event other than Soviet global aims.
A bunch of scientists had devised something called the Atomic Clock. According to them Reagan had pushed the world to within "three minutes" of the proverbial Doomsday which has never occurred in the 20 years that since passed. Strategic Defense Initiative received the ultimate derision of the Left because the idea of a nuclear shield, which they called "Star Wars," would have given the U.S. ultimate power. Ultimate power in the hands of America is the greatest fear of the Left, and is the great dividing line of liberalism and conservatism. Today, America has achieved it, and liberalism has imploded into something far beyond reason and compromise. They are a defeated ideology. Therefore, their howls have no political aim left other than to discredit the winning side of history's debate. They would be gone and forgotten but-for the "useful idiots" of the liberal media.
The United States had made the Transcontinental Railroad, the Panama Canal, Mt. Rushmore, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the Hoover Dam, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, the atomic bomb, the hydrogen bomb, the nuclear bomb, airplanes, jet aircraft, space craft that had flown to the Moon and returned men safely to Earth, space craft that had gone to Mars and had the pictures to prove it, the space shuttle, and heat-seeking missiles. But SDI was somehow unattainable.
Let us call the rhetoric against SDI what is and was. Unpatriotic. At Reykjavik in 1987, Reagan was excoriated for not giving in on SDI. He even offered to give the technology to the Soviets. Gorbachev knew his system was not in a position to do with the knowledge what the Americans could do. On July 14, 2001, a dummy warhead was blasted out of the sky by a missile launched from 5,000 miles away. Even the Boston Globe admitted the new SDI test had been a success. Certainly, considering the effectiveness of heat-seeking missiles, the SDI concept was far from impossible.
Che Geuvara was the first "sexy" Communist. I.F. Stone called him "beautiful…a cross between a faun and a Sunday school print of Jesus." Guevara started Cuba's first forced labor camps, was called a "cruel fanatic," and shot little boys for stealing food. His actual will praised the "extremely useful hatred that turns men into effective, violent, merciless, and cold killing machines." The Marlon Brando (Colonel Kurtz) character in "Apocalypse Now" might as well have been modeled after Che. In that film Kurtz was so vile that the CIA had a hit ordered on him.
Norman Mailer wrote of Fidel Castro that he was a "the first and greatest hero to appear in the world since the second World War…the answer…" and proof that Communism was not corrupt. In fairness to Mailer, who served in World War II, is one of the world's great writers and is a thinking man willing to look into his own conscience, he said that early in Castro's tenure. He did not repeat these kinds of words when his mass crimes were revealed later.
Robert Scheer, however, has never veered from his original Communist leanings, in which he called North Korea in the 1970s a "paradise," spoke of the "greatness" of Kim Il-Sung, and that Heaven on Earth had been found in places like Cuba and China.
Katie Couric and Bryant Gumbel allowed themselves to be duped by Castro in 1992. After seeing the standard tourist view of Havana (which includes beautiful prostitutes who will engage in fantasy sex for a few dollars), they lied and said that Cuba has a higher standard of living than Mexico, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Colombia. Liberals somehow have gotten it into their heads that Cuba has a "terrific health care system," which is an abject lie. Peter Jennings attempted in 1989 to tell the U.S. that Cuba was a leader in the area of "heart disease and brain surgery," apparently because one of Castro's minions told him, "We are world leaders in heart disease and brain surgery." No American doctors (or any other doctors) go to Cuba to study techniques in combating brain disease and heart surgery, though.
The reality is that Castro's government elites do have access to health care, as do "health tourists" from Europe who receive health care for cheap prices. Ordinary Cubans just die of diseases or suffer in sickness.
When Reagan was battling Marxists in Central America, El Salvador's FMLN was never called "Marxist" by the Left wing press. They were seen as agrarian revolutionaries fighting a repressive, corrupt "regime" in San Salvador. The Left accused America of being "silent" about the thousands who were killed in El Salvador by "death squads" trained at the School of the Americas in Georgia, comparing us to the "silence" of Nazi Germany. Meanwhile, movies ("Salvador", "Missing" among others), documentaries, news reports and protests told the world in gory, regular detail about the deaths. People heard the stories, investigated, and in many cases made the determination that the Communists were worse than the "death squads." To believe the Left would require one to believe that torture and murder were taught and condoned by the U.S. for no reason other than they were good at it.
FMLN was Marxist to the core, but Senator Dodd only admitted that "some of them" were. He also lied and said the Sandinistas were not all Marxists. His lies were known by those heard them.
Amazingly, the Maryknoll Catholic order declared that, "For any Christian to claim to be anti-Communist, without a doubt constitutes the greatest scandal of our century…For Jesus, whether conservatives like it or not, was in fact a Communist…Jesus explicitly approves and defends the use of violence." This is going too far.
Sandinista president Daniel Ortega picked up on the Fonda theme that Saddam later used with Sean Penn. He invited "special guests" like Mary Travers (no relation to me) of Peter, Paul and Mary, along with such fine Americans as Betty Friedan, Abbie Hoffman, Ed Asner, Kris Kristofferson (who for some reason was named Veteran of the Year in 2002), Michael Douglas, Susan Anspach, Jackson Browne, Mike Farrell and Diane Ladd to Managua for some radical partying. The former wife of Rolling Stone Mick Jagger, Bianca Jagger, became the number one groupie of the Sandinista regime.
"Well awwwrrriiight!" as Mick once said. "Take yer clothes off an' let's have a look atcha."
Democrats took to the Sandinistas more than any previous Communist regime, because after China, d'etente, Church and Carter, they had thought the Cold War was over. Now it had started up again. They supported these Communists like few before them. California Democrat Congressman Mathew Martinez said the Sandinistas had an "indigenous form of government tailored to accommodate the needs of that nation," and the U.S. "supported subversion and terrorism." In 1984, Democrats penned the infamous "Dear Commandante" letter to Daniel Ortega, blaming the Reagan Administration for the "poor state of relations between the two nations." The letter praised Ortega for promising to hold free elections, since that was all they wanted Actually holding free elections was unnecessary to them.
Liberals later transferred their affections from Communists to terrorists. New Mexico professor Richard Berthold said, "Anyone who can blow up the Pentagon has my vote." When an Orange County, California history professor said after 9/11, "I want to see the Arab world stand up and say, 'This is wrong,'" he was suspended. Michael Moore was pissed that the terrorists had killed so many New Yorkers, because New York had voted against Bush and for Hillary.
"This is not right," said Moore. "They did not deserve to die."
Moore preferred to see soldiers and conservatives die because we have "funded terrorism" and deserve the payback. Bill Maher, who had previously called George W. Bush a "little asshole," thought the 9/11 terrorists had demonstrated heroism. Robert Scheer congratulated Maher. Liberals got up, used their "bully pulpits" on TV and other forms of the media, denouncing America. They were criticized for it, faced no censorship or official rebuke, then tried to say that ordinary citizens recognizing them as cowards, unpatriotic, stupid or various combinations of these were "squelching" their right to dissent. It was all "McCarthyism."
Noam Chomsky called the U.S. a "leading terrorist state." Michael Lerner said we were the victims of terrorists because we could no longer "feel the pain" of others.
Are liberals less patriotic than conservatives?
"Innocence does not utter outraged shrieks, guilt does."
- Whittaker Chambers
Conservative author Ann Coulter asks in "Treason" whether this question is legitimate. She points out that liberals claim they are the ideology of the environment, minorities, women's rights, and a host of other special interests. She then posits the notion that if they can claim the "moral high ground" on these social issues, then is it out of bounds for conservatives to claim that they are more patriotic? Patriotism is a subjective word. If one reads Webster's or most mainstream dictionaries, and applies the meanings they give for "patriot" and "patriotism," it is not a big leap to arrive at the conclusion that the word fits the traditional concept of conservative more so than liberals.
However, many people would disagree with the Webster's meaning, and argue that it is based on old-fashioned, jingoistic concepts that, they might say, have been changed by new social notions based on modern perceptions of race, war and other events. It might be argued that to embrace old traditions is to give acceptance to notions that are unsympathetic or intolerant towards minorities. Or it fails to take into account new notions of appropriate military combat, and how these notions differentiate between old identifications of "enemies," "enemy combatants" and civilians, and new versions of these groups.
To "protest" American policies is viewed as "patriotic" by many. In and of itself it very well may be. Americans take pride in the fact that they do not march in "lockstep" with the President (differentiating us most obviously from totalitarians like the Nazis and the Soviets). We have a "loyal opposition" that operates with a two- or multi-party system. Dissent breeds compromise and moderation. That this is exactly how the Founding Fathers wanted it to be.
Certainly, Republicans "dissented" against President Clinton. Much of the "unpatriotic" label is attached to liberals who protest wars that Republicans lead us into. In 2003, many found fault with President Bush's premise that war in Iraq was the right thing to do. Conservatives pointed to many in the entertainment industry who howled about Iraq, and pointed out that they had not raised a ruckus when Bill Clinton bombed Bosnia, among other smaller engagements. This is not entirely true. Some (not all) of the liberals did protest Clinton's "war," but the notion of liberals dissenting with a Democrat is not big news in the media. A lot of the protest found little coverage. The press does like to publicize liberal complaints about conservatives, and vice versa. It is part of the news cycle.
I am not in complete agreement with all of Coulter's notions. I personally would have preferred her to be less strident and confrontational, and to take greater pains to point out that she does not consider all "liberals" to be traitors. If we lived in a country in which all the people were conservative, it would be one heck of a boring place. Unrestrained by the Left, the right would tend to get heavy-handed socially and too militaristic. I have argued that conservatism is the winning ideology of history, and find that almost impossible to disagree with. But conservatism is best served blended with a diversity of thought, religion, race, military ethos, and a host of other temperances.
I have argued that Dwight Eisenhower was the greatest man of all time, with the exception of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ike tended towards the Republican party, but was not a true conservative. He defeated one, Bob Taft, in order to get the party's 1952 nomination. Ike voiced skepticism about "extreme" notions of the political spectrum, in the military, the Military Industrial Complex, and in the Republican party, until the day he passed away. Ike lived in more moderate times and responded to those times. His philosophies will always ring true. It is a difficult dividing line sometimes, separating conservatism from moderation. Often, it is only defined by particular circumstances that can change.
What Coulter did do, successfully in my view, was identify historical facts that can be disputed, but in my view not successfully (for the most part). She did not expose every little old lady or man who considers him or herself to be "liberal," and state that this automatically means they are "traitors." Just as "patriot" has its dictionary meaning, so too does "traitor." It is not an easy definition to attach to people. Actions must occur in relation to events, by and large, usually with certain results or near-results.
Opinion is not treachery. Private and public discussions do not represent treachery. What Coulter set out to do was demonstrate events that had an effect, or a possible effect, on national security, during a time of war, crisis or even "preparation" for war, and show that certain actions (or inactions) had the "whiff" of treachery. This is dangerous territory. It comes close to moralizing, finger pointing, and has the enormous potential of biting conservatives in the back in the future. We have always been judgmental, because we feel some issues are important and require judgment in order to frame them properly.
Perhaps her version of "treason" might be called the "political" one, which could be equated with the "civil" requirements needed to "prove" a case, as opposed to the higher "criminal" requirements of "proof beyond reasonable doubt." Coulter is, like me, a partisan political animal. She views these issues as part of a "political war." She is out to win it, and she has taken no prisoners in this endeavor. She is divisive, has accepted this and all that goes with it, in the context of being a national media figure.
But Coulter, by being honest in her assessments (whether one agrees or disagrees with her), separates herself from, say, Hillary Clinton, who likes to take her shots but couches them in a political vein meant to get her points made without the kind of backlash that Coulter's books engender. True, Hillary is an elected official, and Coulter is not, but "truth in advertising" among the political classes is a worthy trait indeed.
Al Franken said that what the hates the most are conservative accusations that liberals love America less. In this, he has a point - to a point. Franken loves America. From what I have heard of him, he lacks, to use an Al Campanis phrase, the "necessities" to offer expert opinion. But he has all the right in the world to offer opinion, then take his chances. Franken compares liberal "love" and conservative "love" with children and adults. Conservatives, he says, love America "like a child loves his Mommy." It is the child's whole world and can do no wrong. Liberals, he says, love America like adults love their parents. They know the mistakes they made and want to learn from them.
Franken is, in my view, off the mark. He claims that one can turn to any page and find a lie in Coulter's books, then pointed one out. I read it several times but could not see where the lie was. Besides, it was a very obtuse and off-hand reference. Coulter's book puts the lie to Franken's "child" vs. "adult" argument, because her books are carefully researched and very, very little is ever shown to be untrue. Liberals think that if they call something a lie it is a lie, which does not make it a lie. Unfortunately for them, it too often reflects accurate portrayals of things they would rather have people not be aware of.
Liberals fail to realize that conservatives have been listening to these portrayals of them, and of history, and spent decades slowly, painstakingly, building a brick-by-brick case for their positions. Conservatives knew the only weapon they really had was true facts. Accusing them of lying at this point is like accusing an athlete who was not very good in high school, but through really hard work and desire became a professional star, of not having natural talent.
I would propose that the book you are reading is an example of why Franken's "child" analogy does not hold up to scrutiny. Within this work are the most devastating facts about America's darkest adventures: The Phoenix program; CIA-orchestrated coups in Guatemala, Chile and Iran; 100 years of brutal Jim Crow laws; and many other facts about us that are subject to public scrutiny. I would dispute any assessment of my work as being "Pollyanna" or hiding the truth. It is certainly not analogous to a little kid who loves his flawed parents without seeing their flaws. Instead, I have told the story of flawed people, a flawed nation, and a flawed ideology which, in my opinion, has been guided as the world's last, best hope by a loving God, and is the worst country on the face of the Earth with the exception of all other countries on the face of the Earth. Furthermore, I offer that all subjects throughout history could be hung on a giant dartboard. Wherever the dart hits, Franken and I can discuss whatever that subject is. We can do that 100 times. I propose that 99 percent of those subjects are ones I possess real knowledge of, while he possesses little. Then we can talk about who the children are, and who the parents are.
"Liberals have a preternatural gift for always striking a position on the side of treason," says Coulter. "Everyone says liberals love America, too. No, they don't." I have italicized what I disagree with. I think liberals are more likely to side with treason, but not always. Her blanket statement that liberals do not love America cannot be justified, either. But Coulter has hit on what I have already said. She is part of a small group of conservative writers and historians who are striking back. We have grown up reading the textbooks, seen the movies, listened and viewed the news broadcasts, the specials, the documentaries, listened to our college professors and read the books, all too often slandering and lying about the land we love. Liberals have written history since World War II. Not anymore.
Coulter may be a bit "ripe," but we have decided that we have the academic credentials, the smarts, the common sense and the wherewithal to tackle a domain that liberals have for too long tried to say only they are qualified to occupy. For decades, conservatives have operated on a certain amount of instinct. The average American has spent a lifetime hearing the liberal point of view. It has long ago ceased to pass the "smell test." The "little voice" that told us thousands of times, "I don't think so" or "that sure doesn't sound right" has resounded enough. Now we are armed with the facts.
The past 55 years have brought us to a point of division. The old enemy, Nazi Germany, was easy for everybody to hate. So was Japan. Communism seemed to be that way at first, but we never fought a war with the Soviets. We fought small wars with the Chinese and Soviet client states, but these wars did not materialize into the Armageddons that the militarists warned us the Communists were itching for. Because they lacked the kind of clarity of WWII, a fair number of Americans began to question the premise of who we were, what we stood for, and most importantly, why we fight. A large number of people in other countries began to ask the same questions, but they were not "burdened" by the patriotic loyalties that are in-grained into most of us in this country. When the U.S. won the Cold War, a funny thing happened. Psychologists, and just plain folks, could identify with the mindset.
It is the feeling one gets at the end of the school year when a rival or a bully has been beaten, or they are suddenly shown to be something other than what you "feared" them to be all along. They become humanized.
"He wasn't so bad," you say to yourself, although that feeling you had is still there. This kind of thing worked on our psyches all through the 1990s. Now terrorism has replaced Communism, but Osama bin Laden looks a lot different running scared than he did right after 9/11. Slowly but surely, our fears about terrorists wane a bit. It is a natural tendency.
None of this changes the historical fact about Communism, and terrorism, too. 15 years after the Berlin Wall crashed down, it is time to take an honest assessment of who the Communists were. If we can arrive at the conclusion that they were evil and they were a threat, then it is fair to ask who helped them, who failed to stand up to them. Because that side has been writing the history, and they do not want to credit McCarthy, Nixon, Reagan and Bush. They want you to think George Kennan, Adlai Stevenson, Dean Acheson, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy won the Cold War. With all due respect, and I mean this sincerely because all those people deserve some credit, that dog don't hunt.
History is important. The winners usually write it. The first drafts are influential but over time they are replaced. We must learn from history. From the standpoint of politics, Democracy, military strategy, and national security, history ranges from the really important to a matter of life and death.
Whittaker Chambers said in the 1950s, "In this century, within the next decades, <it> will be decided for generations whether all Mankind is to become Communist, whether the whole world is to become free, or whether, in the struggle, civilization as we know it is to be completely destroyed."
Chambers was a witness to the two great faiths of our time, God and Communism.
"Communism," he said, "is the vision of man without God." Coulter writes, "Liberals chose Man. Conservatives chose God." What is prescient in Chambers' statement is that Communism, despite its evil, and despite the hatred so many heaped upon it, is and always will be enticing. It was unavailable as a practical political outlet for Americans, but many in this country were drawn to it. They could not resist it. In so doing they did its bidding in secret, on the quiet. But Chambers posits that somewhere in the middle, between freedom and Communism, is a third choice that threatens to destroy us. What he was getting at, perhaps without really knowing it, is that there is this third way called ambivalence, and that this ambivalence is the slipshod, the fissure, the crack in society. This is where the "enemies" of freedom, who cannot call themselves Nazis, or Communists, or even nationalists, are able to operate. The devil works that way. Today, this is readily identifiable as terrorism, in the name of Fundamentalist Islam, which is a particularly devilish ploy. It uses a mainstream religion to further the works of Satan. Someday it will be something else, something that foments in Africa most likely; disease, anarchy, starvation, famine, hopelessness, racism. It will have a name some day. Mark my words.
The battle for the American soul since World War II (and there were battles prior to that) has turned on pivotal moments of triumph, failure and revenge. Hiss, McCarthyism, Kennedy over Nixon, Vietnam, Watergate, the Berlin Wall, and the Clinton Impeachment are the various watersheds. Even the writing of this book, and Coulter's book, is a part of this process. In 2004, conservatism is riding high. Conservatives are out to exact a certain amount of revenge for the lies of history. The Left will counter our books. It will go on until society has either inexorably surged to a higher place, or a "big event" moves us there.
What irks the Left most is that Vietnam and Watergate failed to score them the winning touchdowns. A political scientist like Alexis de Tocqueville might have surveyed the American landscape of the 1960s and '70s - literature, music, politics, culture - and said, "The Left has won." Musicians like Jim Morrison were singing about triumphal revolution, how "their side" had won. Then Nixon won 49 states in 1972. Everybody was shocked. But Watergate seemed to be the final nail in the coffin. What the Reagan Revolution told me were two things: Conservatism was the wave of the future and nothing could hold it back, and the Left never had enough gravitas to hold onto to the top slot in the corporation in the first place. Liberals differ on this because they think it was a freak occurrence, a setback, a sidebar.
Since 9/11, liberals have slyly gone from capitalizing War on Terrorism to "war on terrorism." Before the 2003 Iraq War, the "usual suspects" formed another wonderful organization called Not In Our Name, calling Bush's proposed fight "unjust, immoral, and illegitimate." They said 9/11 compared to "similar scenes in Baghdad." Their members included Jane Fonda, Ed Asner, Susan Sarandon, Casey Kasem, Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal, Edward Said, Ben Cohen, Kurt Vonnegut, and a guy who killed a cop, named Mumia Abu-Jamal.
This group is easily dismissed as "unpatriotic," and Coulter thinks close to treasonous when considering the War on Terrorism, but are they? They offer the opinion that invading Iraq was immoral and illegitimate. They have little standing to call it illegitimate. The U.N. provided guidelines for Iraq to meet for weapons inspectors, and they failed to meet the guidelines. The U.N. did not spell out a "use of force" justification, but it was well assumed that the underlying power of the resolution was to justify such force if worse came to worse. Congress absolutely authorized force, and many Democrats signed on to it.
The "moral" question is key to this argument, and should not be dismissed lightly. Real military men like Douglas MacArthur said they could not even describe war. George Patton "loved" it, reveling in its "g(l)ory," but he was something close to crazy. I am worried for his mortal soul because of the way he felt about it. Movies like "Saving Private Ryan" are considered realistic, but can never really capture what it is.
War is about people burning to death, having their limbs and extremities blown to bits, experiencing agonizing pain. Innocent women and children die in wars, sometimes caught in burning buildings that they cannot escape from. Soldiers returning from Afghanistan, which was by no means a major conflict comparable to Korea, Vietnam, or even the Persian Gulf War, were glazed over from the experience.
Bush framed the issue around Saddam's WMD. A great deal of the pre-war hype and "justification" for it centered on Saddam's human rights abuses, but I thought this should have been elevated to the level of the WMD danger. Not In Our Name made the compelling argument that killing so many people (and their predictions were of horrible civilian death tolls, certainly far more than what happened) could not be justified. It is not not fair to simply call them unpatriotic for not backing Bush.
But where these people were off the mark was in their blatantly political agenda. They were against the war on a number of levels. My take on these kinds of groups was that they (a) Did not trust American power and (b) Hated the idea that a Republican President would gain political clout by prosecuting a successful war. There was, as far as I could detect, a lack of honesty in their protest. It was not about innocent lives. It was about a Republican President. Ed Asner may have "protested" Clinton killing 2,000 civilians in Bosnia, but his protests and those of others lacked the vociferousness of the one directed at Bush.
The Iraq War was in American interests. This gets to the heart of what Coulter argues is either unpatriotic, treasonous, or somewhere close. Liberals seem to have a big problem with winning American military campaigns that advance our agenda. They think we are too powerful, and our agenda should not be advanced any more than it already is. Where I disagree with Coulter is defining this as treason, although it seems pretty unpatriotic to me.
On the other hand, when America is at war, many factors come into play that are forgotten by history. The morale of the country, the safety of the troops and the support for their cause, are all things of worthy consideration. It may be unfair to heep the "unpatriotic traitor" label on people who protest, just because fighting men are discouraged by them, and perhaps the enemy is comforted by them, but these factors are extremely important at the height of the conflict.
When President Bush exposed and identified Iran, Iraq and North Korea as the "axis of evil," liberals went ballistic. These people cannot call something evil because they do not think America is righteous. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote a very telling article that comes closer to backing Coulter's assertions than perhaps Coulter can make. She wrote that Democrats would have to fake enthusiasm for the War on Terrorism out of fear of being labeled McGovernites, a losing political reality, and lie. What a novel concept for Democrats!
On the other hand, some things are really simple. Saddam was a bad, bad man leading a murderous regime. The U.S. was in prime position to take him out. All the machinations which might go into taking out some other maniac in the world were already hurdled. Bush is the checkers player, not the chess master. He took him out. Democrat failure to see the simplicity and goodness of this act, then or now, is worthy of some hard questioning.
Alger Hiss has been explored in detail throughout this work. Ann Coulter devotes a fair amount of time and research to this controversial character. Whittaker Chambers' accusations may well have been unheeded except for the Venona project. After the Hitler-Stalin pact, Chambers had a revelation. He realized what he believed in, Communism, was evil. He decided to inform, and spoke with Adolf Berle, President Roosevelt's Assistant Secretary of State. He provided the names of two dozen spies in the administration. This included Alger Hiss and his brother, Donald. When told, FDR told Berle to go "fuck himself." Hiss was promoted, given more responsibility, more trust and more power. The espionage accusations began to float about Washington. Dean Acheson took up the cause of defending Hiss. But through Venona, Hiss's work on behalf of the Communists was confirmed.
What happened over the next years is actually quite simple. Republicans knew Hiss was a Communist and wanted him. Democrats either (a) knew he was a Communist and liked him because of it, (b) knew he was a Communist but did not care, or (c) refused to believe the prima facie evidence of Venona. Naturally, it became political. When Chambers was called before HUAC he named Hiss as a Soviet agent. There is little use arguing the point of Hiss's Communist work. It has been detailed herein, he was convicted, honest historians knew he was a Communist, and after the Soviets imploded their archives proved it, just as they proved most everything conservatives had persuasively argued for throughout the Cold War.
The question then comes down not to whether Hiss was a traitor - he was - but whether his defenders were traitors. The Democrats went after Chambers with all their strength. The American public believed him. Throughout the 1950s, the U.S. agreed with the Republicans, Nixon and McCarthy. Truman was virtually thrown out of office, with three out of four believing Truman's administration was infiltrated by Communists, four out of five supporting HUAC, and even 71 percent of Democrats refuting the Truman charge that Communist espionage was "playing politics" on the part of Republicans.
Hiss did not want to sue Chambers for libel for the reasons that are now obvious, which was that he knew he would lose. But the Democrats shamed him into it and paid for his Harvard defense team. They slandered Chambers (who was married) as a homosexual who had been the gay lover of his brother, which was false. Even if it had been true it had nothing to do with Hiss. Hiss's defense apparently was to keep calling Chambers a "queer." Chambers simply provided loads of documentation, State Department summaries, letters he had secreted away for years, and various other irrefutable proofs. Hiss's libel case was down the tubes. A reluctant Department of Justice was forced to step in. Had Hiss just backed off the libel claim (which the Democrats forced him into) he may have been home scot-free.
Truman's lawyers at Justice tried to spin the case as an investigation of Chambers. Republicans at HUAC, realizing Democrat lies were in danger of winning the day, wanted more proof from Chambers. Chambers had feared for his life from the Communists and hidden the most damning evidence in a pumpkin patch in Maryland. Over time, he had come to realize that the Democrats were almost as dangerous to him as the Communists. For that reason he had not played his entire hand at the libel trial. He had anticipated being hailed in to criminal court by the Democrats. He wanted a final "weapon" to prevent this. Thus were the "pumpkin papers." They were "definitive proof of one of the most extensive espionage rings in the history of the United State," wrote "Perjury" author Allen Weinstein. Hiss's guilt was no longer in doubt.
Hiss evaded and lied, claiming that Chambers had gotten into his house to use his typewriter to type up his letters and spy directions. To this day, the New York Times and The Nation "believe" Chambers broke into Hiss's house to write the voluminous documents, all on Hiss's typewriter and in his inimitable communication style. Of course they know the truth, but lie about it.
The Hiss case raises serious questions about the Roosevelt/Truman Administrations, and the Democrat party in the succeeding years. The troubling sell-out of Eastern Europe, the "loss" of China, and the U.N. charter favoring the Russians cannot be ignored. The attempts by Hiss and his defenders for 50 years to uncover "new evidence" that never went anywhere begs the question not whether Hiss was a traitor, but whether Democrats had a problem with him being a traitor. The heart of the matter is that, apparently, certain acts of treason against the United States of America, if committed by the right person with the right pedigree at least, are considered good policy by Democrats.
Certainly Truman kept Hiss on at the State Department. FDR-appointed Supreme Court Justices Felix Frankfurter and Stanley Reed were Hiss's character witnesses. 1952 and 1956 Democrat Presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson vouched for him. All of this happened after it was proven that Hiss was a Communist agent.
After McCarthyism, the dominant media culture in the U.S. became, more and more, overwhelmingly liberal. This was in response to the Hiss/McCarthy era. The twin towers of media paganism were that McCarthy was evil because there were no Communists, and Hiss was innocent because there were no Communists. It became the overriding theme of schoolbooks to this very day. It dominates the thinking of a majority of the press, in all its forms. When the Soviet cables further proving Hiss's guilt was made available in the 1990s, the Washington Post ran it on page three and still said there was "no evidence." The New York Times, who championed Hiss and trotted him out whenever Nixon met political defeat (California in 1962, Watergate in 1974), now just said the "distressing episode" was "over," and wanted it to go away. In the past 10 years, the "grey lady" failed to write the final truthful chapter on Hiss; defended Clinton in the same manner Democrats had defended Hiss in the 1950s; were identified as a "big-time" asshole by a Presidential candidate who gained points from a public that agreed with the assessment; hired an unqualified affirmative action writer who exposed the paper's lack of credibility; and continued to see its reputation besmirched by various other acts of journalistic irresponsibility. Now they wonder why the New York Post, the Washington Times, Newsmax and Human Events have so many subscribers.
Chambers wrote his autobiography, "Witness". Like so many books by conservatives who tell the truth, it was a huge best seller. He needed the money. None of the liberal newspapers or magazines would hire him.
Dean Acheson, the man as responsible as any (with the exception of Communist spies working in the Truman Administration) for letting China go Red, evoked Scripture in his defense of Hiss. The liberal Left seemed to be breeding a new kind of radical. England's version of Hiss was the dashing secret agent Kim Philby. Only the conservatives (and the American public) seemed to care. As Ann Coulter wrote, "Some of their young men would grow up to be poets and some would grow up to be Bolsheviks…. Salon liberals foolishly indulged their infatuation with Communism to the peril of the country."
Modern liberals would call that hogwash and cite Cronkite's statement that a Soviet world takeover was virtually impossible. They do not give any credence to the notion that the Communists were prevented from taking over by the likes of Chambers and McCarthy, by the brave boys who fought at Choisin Reservoir and Hue, and by Reagan's hardline on SDI. To say that a system that killed 100 million human beings in a relatively short number of years was no "threat," that they had no desire to dominate the world, and that they would not do anything they could to attain those goals, is a basic failure to recognize the facts.
Worse than that, it is recognition of the facts and, in more than just a handful of cases, a desire to aid in the enemy cause. That is treason. Liberals could not live in comfort in this great nation if they actively supported Communism. One could be a member of the party, but the public would not buy their books, their newspapers, listen to their broadcasts or go to their films. So they had to hide themselves, and attempt to convince a gullible country that Communism was not a domestic threat. I am part of that country, and I, along with millions of others, am not so gullible. Book after book announced, "there were no spies," "accusations of Communism were baseless," and "charges had no grounding in fact." Meanwhile, Chambers and other ex-Communists like Elizabeth Bentley and Louis Budenz, Soviet defectors and their documentation, the Pumpkin Papers, confessions in the Rosenberg case, numerous arrests, and decades of CIA intelligence and counter-intelligence, puts the lie to this proposition.
Then there was Venona. One of the greatest heroes in U.S. history was Colonel Carter Clarke, chief of the Army's Special Branch, who heard rumors that Stalin was cutting a separate peace with Hitler. He informed Roosevelt, who said "Uncle Joe" would not betray him and left the matter uninvestigated. Clarke understood something. He understood that someday FDR would not be President. He understood that the Democrats had a different…attitude about national security. Or, as Coulter writes, "The Democrats could not be trusted." So, cloaked in secrecy, he set up a special unit to listen in on Soviet cables. By war's end, the cables showed numerous Soviet agents in the Roosevelt/Truman government.
Hoover knew about it. Very few others did. McCarthy probably did not know about it. Certain friends in the intelligence community may have given him hints. It is amazing, but the Republicans, and surely most of the people handling Venona were Republican, never used what they had against the Democrats. Is there any chance that the Democrats ever would have sat tight on such a thing if they held this over Republican heads? I offer JFK's letting the cat out of the bag with the Bay of Pigs and Democrat Watergate politics that derailed arms control agreements and caused a holocaust in Southeast Asia. Beyond this, do I really need to answer that?
As John Earl Harvey and Harvey Klehr point out in "Venona", there was "a fifth column working inside and against the United States in the Cold War". It was entirely associated with the Communist wing of the official Democrat party. Not every American Communist was a spy, but hundreds were. Deciphering who the "fellow travelers" were from the dangerous plants, handlers and saboteurs was imperative. It required asking questions, and one of those questions was, "Are you now, or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?" Hiss and Harry Dexter White may just have been two of the highest-ranking Communists, but this did not mean there were not others above them, or that those below them were not a major security threat.
The Communist witness Elizabeth Bentley was called the "Blonde Spy Queen." Both then and now, liberals discredited her as a "neurotic spinster," "hardly a reliable informant," and in 1994 The Nation thought her naming of almost 150 people could not be counted on because she drank and made a few mistakes spelling names and remembering dates. They never said a peep over Hillary's numerous "I can't recalls" in relation to the various crimes she committed. Venona, however, confirmed Bentley's testimony.
Ann Coulter makes a phenomenal comparison in "Treason" that demonstrates just how deep the Communists were into the Democrat-led government.
"To understand how deep were the Soviet tentacles in the Roosevelt and Truman Administrations, try to imagine a parallel universe today.
"Paul Wolfowitze, Bush's Deputy Secretary of Defense, would be a member of Al Qaeda taking orders from Osama bin Laden.
"Alger Hiss, Assistant Secretary of State under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Identified as a Soviet spy in Venona."
Coulter goes on to compare Harry Dexter White, FDR's Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, who conspired with Soviet spy Frank Coe and Solomon Adler to kill "critical" loans to Nationalist China when they were desperately fighting Mao Tse-Tung, to a Treasury Department employee who might block a key loan to Israel that allowed them to fall to Al Qaeda terrorism or Arab invasion. Hoover knew all about White but was restrained from going after him by the Democrats.
Lauchlin Currie, FDR's administrative assistant, would be compared to Bush aide Andrew Card. Duncan Lee, head of the Office of Strategic Services, and like the others a Venona spy, would be compared to an assistant to CIA Director George Tenet. Harry Hopkins, identified by former agent Oleg Gordievsky in "K.G.B." The Inside Story", by Anatoly Akhmerov as a spy of "major significance," held current chief of staff Karl Rove's position.
FDR's Vice-President Henry Wallace said, "America's main enemy was Churchill and the British Empire." Peace would come about "if the United States guaranteed Stalin control of Eastern Europe." Wallace backed Stalin's seizure of Czechoslovakia, the blockade of Berlin, and described the gulags as "a combination TVA and Hudson Bay Company." Wallace was actually a Communist who, had Roosevelt died just a year and a half earlier would have been President, running for four more years as a war time leader in 1944. The Wallace story is about all we really need to know about Communist espionage and the Democrats. It answers the fundamental question. They were tolerated because they represented a political viewpoint that the party endorsed. Coulter compares Wallace to Vice-President Cheney being "starstruck" by Saddam Hussein.
Owen Lattimore was a roving strategist during the Roosevelt years, surrounded by Communist spies. His position would be comparable to Richard Perle surrounding himself with Al Qaeda operatives. Jospeh Davis, FDR's Ambassador to the Soviet Union, told the A.P. in 1946 that, "Russia <note that liberals always called it 'Russia,' as in `Mother Russia,' never the 'Union of Soviet Socialist Republics' or other totalitarian monikers> in self-defense has every moral right to seek atomic bomb information through military espionage if excluded from such information by her former fighting allies." This was Robert Oppenheimer's view. It was carried out by the Rosenberg's with the help of their brother. It can be compared to defense of Saddam's gassing of the Kurds, and frankly might explain why the current Democrats seem to be doing all they can to discredit and make sure we do not find Saddam's nuclear program. Could it be there are too many modern Democrat hands on them?
Harold Ickes, FDR's Interior Secretary (his son was Clinton's Deputy Chief of Staff), was a member of the Stalinist League for Peace and Democracy. Coulter compares him to Gale Norton being a member of the Al Qaeda front, Benevolence International Foundation. Roosevelt calling Stalin "Uncle Joe" would be like Bush referencing "Uncle Osama" or "good ol' Saddam." Truman called Stalinist Russia "our friends," which is like calling Hitler, Mao or Pol Pot a fine man. Stalin had killed 20 million when Truman said what he said, and Truman knew about it. Stalin's reasoning was that, "One death is a tragedy but a million is only a statistic." Hollywood loved that, letting Jon Lithgow say in "Cliffhanger" that "Kill 10 people you're a murderer. Kill a million and you're a conqueror."
The Communists, you see, thought they could not make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. One can only read this stuff and thank a benevolent God that a nation called the United States became extant and powerful enough, despite the traitors in her midst, to end such horrors.
McCarthy identified it as "a conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous venture in the history of man. A conspiracy so black that, when it is finally exposed, its principals shall be forever deserving of the maledictions of honest men." Truman liked "old Joe." Stalin, not McCarthy. McCarthy's "conspiracy" statement has been lambasted for decades. "Conspiracy" theories have since been associated with nutcases. In "Dr. Strangelove", Sterling Hayden's General Jack Ripper goes completely off the deep end, believing the commies have conspired to steal his "essence" through fluoridation. The intent is clear: Make people laugh at the absurdity of militarists and conservatives, and for God's sake remind them of McCarthy. For years I have sat in darkened movie theatres, heard such comparisons, insinuations, outright lies and utter biases, and whispered, often not so quietly, "Bullshit!"
Other top FDR Communists included Laurence Duggan of the Latin desk at State, Frank Coe (IMF representative), Duncan Lee (OSS) and atomic scientist Klaus Fuchs. Hoover constantly sent memos on all of the above-named people. The Prime Minister of Canada warned the Americans. Soviet defectors warned us. Ex-Communists warned us. Only the Republicans listened.
When Ike took over, he had Attorney General Herbert Brownell reveal Truman's appointment of spies to top positions. Truman said he had not seen the FBI report. Hoover produced the copy he had sent Truman. Why is so much of this "news" to you, dear reader? It is not revelation. It has been known for years. But the liberal information founts that tell you what they think you should know have made it necessary for you to be a researcher and an archivist in order to find it out.
By the way, you're welcome.
Lauchlin Currie warned the Soviets that their code had been cracked. Coulter pointed out that despite this they made few changes, attributing this to "Soviet work ethic" and stating that had they had a "profit motive" they might have done a more efficient job. There are times when I am ready to fall in love with Ann Coulter. Currie eventually fled like a rat to Colombia. Coe ended up in Red China. Another Communist, Noel Field, went to Hungary. Duggan committed suicide. White died of stress. Liberal historians and college professors would have you believe McCarthy drove them to their deaths or lives in various "Communist paradises." Eleanor Roosevelt, poet Archibald MacLeish, Drew Pearson (and his protege, Jack Anderson), and Edward R. Murrow were just a few of the "useful idiots" who spent years and a great deal of energy defending these dead, disgraced and defected Communists.
"McCarthyism" is the name attributed to all of this. Even many of the spies were identified long before McCarthy's Wheeling, West Virgina speech. The Rosenberg's, for instance, had nothing to do with McCarthy. They were "cause celebs" among liberal elites, writes Coulter, who also disproves much of the myth about McCarthy and Hollywood. The "horror," the "Gestapo tactics," the "totalitarian atmosphere," the "Nazi police tactics" of McCarthyism can be summed up in Coulter's description of what happened to the tiny number of affected writers:
"You mean he couldn't do screenplays under his own name and had to fire the gardener and clean his pool in Bel Air by himself? No! That is shocking!"
Actor Humphrey Bogart summed up it nicely when he referred to the Hollywood Ten as, "Uniquely untalented," explaining that those whose careers were "ruined" owed it more to bad scripts than bad politics. The liberals, who for some reason are made up of an inordinate number of Jews, took to the Rosenberg case as their own. They wanted to use it to show that the U.S. was "Fascistic" like the country we had just finished sending to the ash heap of history, and that we were bent on executing nice Jewish folks from the Bronx. As Coulter pointed out, the smiling personage of Ike, who had led the "Crusade in Europe," did not allow this image to add up. Mountains of evidence convicted the Rosenbergs then, and in subsequent years reams more corroborated guilt utterly and absolutely without doubt. The Left still protested on their behalf with great fervor.
They were "total Communists or complete idiots," according to Coulter, who demonstrates that they tried to equate Stalinist tyranny with McCarthyism. If you want to count a couple of suicides, then the score on this one is still Stalin 20 million, McCarthy three.
An engineer in the Soviet spy ring, Joel Barr, fled to Russia the day the Rosenbergs were arrested, with all his belongings still in his Paris apartment. Another, Alfred Sarant, left his wife and child (but took his neighbor's wife) just as fast. The Russians put them to work on radar-guided anti-aircraft artillery and SAM missiles, used to shoot down John McCain and his fellow pilots in Vietnam. In 1992, Barr came to the States to collect his Social Security benefits (once a New Dealer always a New Dealer), and Ted Koppel interviewed him on that bastion of fair and balanced news shows, Nightline. Despite the above evidence, Koppel said Barr's espionage was still in question, and that being a Communist was okay during World War II (of course Barr fled during the Korea War against Communism). The Left always tried to equate our "deal with the devil," alliance with Stalin, as endorsement of his ideology. Churchill had advocated "crushing" him in the 1920s. Image how history would have changed had Communism been snuffed out in 1927. Presidents Harding, Coolidge and Hoover refused to recognize Stalin. Roosevelt did. Coulter says that in 50 years Nightline will (unless conservatives have changed the nature of the medium, which they just may) air a special on American Taliban JohnWalker Lindh, shedding doubt on what he did in Afghanistan.
Barr was allowed to vote again. He liked Clinton.
Coulter saves her greatest revelations of Truth to McCarthyism, a term she disparages and compares to grouping the "violence o the Black Panthers, the Weathermen, SDS, and drunk drivers under the name 'Kennedyism.'" The fact that "HUAC" is linked with "McCarthyism" is an example, since HUAC was an organ of the House, but McCarthy was in the Senate.
Oscar Shaftel was a Communist who was fired from his teaching job in New York when people found out he was a Communist. Did he go to jail? No, he just became a journalist like all the other liberals, who in turn wrote the misinformed history of McCarthy for years. His fate was the result of the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee, which McCarthy was not associated with, but he is just one example of a man who was called for years a "victim of Joe McCarthy." McCarthy was "associated" with the Smith Act. Communists liked the Smith Act at first because it was used aggressively against Fascists and rounding up Japanese. They disliked it when it was used against them. McCarthy had nothing to do with it, either.
McCarthy did identify and have removed dozens of Soviet operatives working in sensitive government jobs. He also attempted to use discretion in his investigative techniques. But the liberals turned this against him. A case in point was the Democrat foreign policy wonk, Owen Lattimore. McCarthy suspected Lattimore but had not yet gained proof. He chose to keep Lattimore's name confidential until proof, one or the other, could be delivered. Drew Pearson (whose lies about Truman's Secretary of Defense, James Forrestall, had driven the man to suicide) then leaked Lattimore's name as proof that McCarthy was ruining people's reputations. Pearson ended up telling the truth by way of his lie, because eventually Lattimore was found to be Red.
McCarthy chose to refer not to "named Communists," but to "security risk number one" or "case number two" and the like. As early as 1948, Truman was saying it was the Republicans (who had formed HUAC and were being led by Nixon) who were "friendly" to Communists and who were comparable to Fascists. Meanwhile, hundreds of Communists formulated Truman's foreign policy, at a time when he let China go Red and the Soviets went nuclear.
"Anyone with liberals views" was called a Communist, said Helen Silverstein in 1947. Soviet cables proved her liberal views ran to Soviet espionage. Her husband was a spy, too. He was actually awarded a medal by the Soviets while in the employ of the Roosevelt Administration. McCarthy has been vilified for "destroying" people and investigating their "personal lives" by the same poeple who think it just fine that Hillary Clinton and James Carville could go after and attempt to destroy Paula Jones, Gennifer Flowers, Kathleen Willey and other women for having the temerity to have been sexually harassed, assaulted and raped by Bill Clinton. Liberals who call the 1950s a "frightening period" have a point only in the way terrorists might refer to the Bush Presidency as a "frightening period." If you were a Communist, you darn well should have been frightened that a real American like McCarthy was finding you out.
Ethel Roenberg's children described being called "commie" by their classmates. The San Francisco Chronicle compared these everyday taunts of schoolkids to American "totalitarianism." What Coulter points out about McCarthyism and its aftermath is that the liberals, knowing that Hiss, Rosenberg and association with 100 million murders, if admitted, documented, and exposed in the kind of thorough manner that Germany and Nazism were associated with the Holocaust, would end the Democrat party. They had to cling to their lies. Over time, conservatives moved on, ceding the matter to them. Not anymore. In the 1990s, Democrats were up against the wall with Bill Clinton in much the same way.
"'Blacklist survivor' Norma Barzman described her 'exile' in Paris thus," writes Coulter. "'We had dinner with Picasso every Tuesday night when we were at our country house in Provence. Yves Montand and Simone Signoret, Jacques Prevert were all friends. Plus we got to work with all the amazing European directors including Vittorio De Sica and Constantin Costa-Gavras. It was hard, but it was also the time of my life.'
"Meanwhile, back in the country they preferred people were being whisked off to Soviet gulags in the dead of night…
"10 Hollywood scribblers who subscribed to an ideology responsible for murder by the million refused to admit their membership in the Communist Party to a House Committee. All they had to do was 'fes up. But they felt they had the right not to tell the truth, so they were briefly jailed for contempt. This created a slight setback in their dinners with Picasso. The horror."
I could not have said it better myself.
The "Blacklist" of the 1950s is in no possible way comparable to the current blacklist. Elia Kazan, who named Communists and is one of the greatest directors of all time, is on the outs because of it. Openly conservative Republican screenwriters, directors and even actors are faced with de facto "Conservatives need not apply" signs up and down Sunset Boulevard. "Guilty By Suspicion" (1991), starring Robert De Niro, was the closest Hollywood film to telling the truth about the Blacklist. It involved a real director named Robert Merrill who had attended Communist meetings in the 1930s. The film naturally takes the position that even though he attended, and his friends attended, none of them were actually Communists. Their motivation was to feed starving Russians.
Eventually, the director was named. The studios asked him to cooperate and name the others who had attended the meetings. The director refused to "rat" on his friends and colleagues. His career dried up for a few years. It assumes that he was talented and in enough demand to maintain a position as an A-list director in a business that chews people up and spits them out regardless of political ideology. "Guilty By Suspicion" at least does not paint Merrill's case as being the direct result of Joe McCarthy's investigation, since his and almost all Hollywood people dealt with HUAC, not McCarthy, prior to Wheeling anyway. It addresses the legitimate question of whether it was fair to ask suspected Communists to name other suspected Communists. HUAC and others did lay a heavy hand on some of these people by taking the position of forcing them to choose between themselves and their colleagues, although it is a common police tactic used long before and since then. What the Communist apologizers fail to understand, however, is the urgency and importance of national security. Call me cold-hearted, but it is my personal belief that after the fall of Eastern Europe, the loss of China, the atomic explosion in Russia, American boys fighting in Korea, Communist expansion in Latin America, what we knew about Communist espionage in the West, and what the few who knew about Venona further knew at that time, asking people to cooperate in an effort to secure American safety and way of life was not unreasonable. As Coulter further points out, being a Communist was not illegal. Being identified as one just hurt careers in Hollywood, just as murdering ones' wife, getting caught masturbating in a theatre, or molesting kids would.
"They could still go to Paris or sell real estate…" writes Coulter. "They just couldn't work in the movies <for a few years>. That was the only price they paid for shilling for a mass murderer."
In all the years since World War II, there has never been a real film depicting Communist atrocities. Films and TV shows about the Holocaust abound. There have been depictions of Stalin and others, but they have always focused on the war, the strategy, and usually the suffering of the hardy Russian people. Nothing memorializes the 100 million dead, however. Not even Solzhenitzyn's "Gulag Archipelago" was made into a movie.
I was hired to write a screenplay about Josyp Terelya, who had been held in the gulags for years, but survived because of his strong Christian faith. Terelya described 20 years in the Soviet prison system in a book called "Witness" (the same name as Chambers' autobiography). The horrors of his captivity match anything that happened at Auschwitz. The difference is that Terelya was not held in this hellhole for three or four years, like most Jews, but for two decades. Hollywood never bought it.
Later, evidence surfaced that the decision by many Communists to take the Fifth was an order from Stalin, since they did more value to the "cause" as martyrs. On the home front, Owen Lattimore said that Stalin's show trials might be excessive to those on trial, but that it was okay because it encouraged others to tell the truth.
The mythmakers say that McCarthy caused people to commit suicides. It is not true. Dustin Hoffman's father in "Marathon Man" was supposed to have been driven to such an end, although to William Goldman's credit he does not directly attribute the death to McCarthy. A man named Ray Kaplan supposedly committed suicide before testifying after he said he was happy to do so. It had nothing to with McCarthy accusing him of Communism, but on the Senate floor a VOA employee stood up and shouted at McCarthy, "You murdered Ray Kaplan." The liberal press ran with it and turned it into "fact." McCarthy suspected Communists murdered Kaplan because he was going to expose their ring and its plans regarding the VOA. McCarthy biographer David Oshinsky was just one of many who built on the "driven to suicide" notion attributed to McCarthy.
"It would be as if Linda Tripp had turned up dead during the investigation of Bill Clinton, and liberals decided to blame Ken Starr," wrote Coulter.
McCarthy was not after Hollywood or "little guys." He suspected what all of us have suspected, that in the elite salons of the liberal establishment, "sedition always held a strange attraction for Ivy League types," wrote Coulter. Coulter veers from me in her association of George C. Marshall and even Dwight Eisenhower as part of an establishment that tolerated this sedition. My view is that a chairborn, striped-pants State Department desk chief, or a pampered Hollywood playboy, does not deserve the benefit of the doubt that I attribute to the likes of Marshall and Eisenhower. Marshall's supposed lack of vision regarding his own Marshall Plan and various accusations regarding Marshall's WASP standoffishness being the reason he failed to stop China from going to the Communists do not measure up to the sterling words of praise that every world leader had for his steadfast performance during World War II. While he may have allowed himself to "go establishment" after years surrounded by the Democrats, I will not berate General Marshall in these pages.
Ike was, and I repeat, the greatest single man this world has produced other than Christ. He and Marshall were attacked by McCarthy, which was stupid on McCarthy's part. McCarthy was feeling intense pressure by then from his liberal enemies. He had begun to drink heavily, and he made mistakes. Failing to respect Marshall and Eisenhower were his two biggest ones. Ike called him on the carpet and reamed him out up one side and down the other, the way only military men can do. There is an almost regal splendor to their use of swear words as cutting edges. Ike did so not because McCarthy was going after Communists. He spoke to Hoover and knew about Venona. But as titular head of the Republican party, facing re-election in 1956, trying to hold the fragile Republican majority that existed for those short years together, he saw McCarthy as hurting the cause. McCarthy's purpose was valid, but his methods had swayed from their original course.
In determining who "lost" China, Marshall is not the one to blame. Owen Lattimore, on the other hand, swayed Truman's policy away from Chiang Kai-Shek in favor of Mao Tse-Tung. When McCarthy went after him for it, he coined the phrase "McCarthyism." When called before McCarthy, Lattimore said he did not work at the State Department even though he took phone calls there, had an office there, and answered mail sent to him there. He regularly gave a State Department extension as the place to reach him. It was as if the liar James Carville or the infamous Thomason's said they "never worked at the White House."
Lattimore's lies resulted in perjury convictions. The New York Times consistently lies and says he was acquitted, when in fact they were later dropped on technicalities. Lattimore was a political gadfly, never assigned specific duties under FDR but used as a special advisor on foreign affairs. His hands were all over China. His own numerous writings are rife with apologist Stalinist propaganda. His own lack of official status with the White House was precisely what allowed him to work so closely with Communist spies. Whether FDR actually knew what he was and encouraged it is not really known. Perhaps FDR felt it was of value to have a "fellow traveler" working with Communists, who felt they could trust him. Maybe it started that way and became a dedication to the Soviet way. Maybe, and this may be a fair assessment of some (maybe not a lot) of the American Communists, they "loved" America but wanted her to change to socialism. They knew it would never happen Democratically. Since they felt they were the elites who were charged with thinking for the rest of us, they decided to take it upon themselves to do the "brave " work of letting the Communists into our world, for our own good, of course. Maybe they did not want the Soviets blowing us up with atomic bombs or attacking our cities, and they trusted "Uncle Joe" not to do that. The fact that they were "useful idiots" and worse, and Stalin would have bombed us to the Stone Age if he could have gotten away with it, is what makes them such historically dangerous figures.
To this day, however, liberals say that Lattimore resisted a "reign of terror" that in their minds is worse than the guillotines of 1790s Paris. All who believe in freedom are in Lattimore's debt, according to the Left. In reality millions who died under Mao should on their graves have the words, "Owen Lattimore sold me out."
Graduate students who attempt to research the truth about McCarthyism find themselves facing academic blacklists. I.F. Stone had advocated suppressing Fascist speech. Certainly anything opposing civil rights uttered by a white man was worthy of being made illegal, according to Stone. McCarthyism caused him to, uh, change his mind regarding free speech. Stone was a darling of the joined-at-the-world elite academia and journalism. He backed every Communist from Henry Wallace to Ho Chi Minh. In 1992 declassified Soviet cables identified Stone as a paid agent. A few years later, more Soviet archives confirmed it. He had an NKVD handler. Victor Navasky wrote, "if you accept the Venona documents, then you have to accept that I.F. Stone…was a Communist agent."
Stone's Communism raised the greatest firestorm among liberal reviewers of Coulter's book, which is interesting. Stone's identity was discovered and made public 11 years prior to "Treason's" publication, and re-confirmed nine years prior. Coulter's fairly short treatment of Stone was not new or revelatory. It rehashed known facts. Yet it has been used by more than any to discredit the book as "lies." Two things are striking about this. The first is that calling known facts lies is as credible as stating, "California is not a state in the American Union," or "There is no such thing as the Pacific Ocean." More telling, however, is the emphasis on Stone, who was not as big a name as Walter Cronkite or Edward R. Murrow. Stone was hailed as a "giant figure," but he really was only a giant figure among a small group of liberal elites. His treatment by reviewers shows that the reviewers are all liberals, and that Coulter stepped on some sensitive toes.
It is, sometimes, an uphill struggle, but a worthy one.
Just as the Left protects Stone's place in history with particular vigor, so to is David Horowitz vilified. Horowitz outrages liberals in the manner that Clarence Thomas outrages the black lobby. Because unlike Ann Coulter, a Connecticut WASP blonde who effects the airs of the upper crust, she is therefore "easy" to hate. But Horowitz is a New York Jew raised by Communists. He was weaned on Communism, spoonfed it, and knows it because he grew up with it, the way Bill Clinton was raised in the underworld of Arkansas' political Mafia. Horowitz knew where all the bodies were buried, who was on the take, the role of unions in the C.P., and how New York Jews used their identity in the post-war years to raise a moral front in the face of McCarthyism.
Horowitz's parents were fired from their job as New York City schoolteachers because they were Communists. In the subsequent years, these kinds of firings have been dredged up and reported as the worst kind violent, forceful hatred inflicted by the right on the Left.
"What actually happened to my father and American Communists in general bears little resemblance to these lurid images," Horowitz says, and in telling the truth he is called the worst kind of traitor to his "people." If "his people" are Jews, then it stretches credulity that a system that killed millions of Jews because they were Jews, particularly when Stalin initiated a specific anti-Semitic plan in the early 1950s (for reasons that are not clear), could be condoned by Jews.
Horowitz woke up to the radicalism all around him before it was too late. He had been part of the horrid world of Noam Chomsky and Gore Vidal. The hatred these two vipers of the Left spew for Horowitz today leaves many with the feeling that, if they could do it without leaving evidence, they would kill Horowitz after torturing him. Is this surprising since they shill for a system that did just that to so many?
Even though we now know that over 300 Soviet spies worked for the U.S. government (which is probably a very low figure), and McCarthy was going after them, he was beaten up beyond comprehension. Every insinuation and innuendo was made against him. His top investigator, Roy Cohn, was homosexual, but it is by far not confirmed whether his aide, David Schine, was. McCarthy was a bachelor until relatively late in late, but he dated women (including one of the Kennedy sisters), and married an attractive woman in the 1950s. The Communist playwright Lillian Hellman, who was portrayed lovingly by Jane Fonda, called Cohn, Schine and McCarthy "Bonnie, Bonnie, and Clyde." The Las Vegas Sun called McCarthy a "disreputable pervert." These attacks were very hurtful. The Left learned from them, using the "gay smear" campaign against J. Edgar Hoover's memory.
The amount and vociferousness of the lies against McCarthy piled up beyond comprehension. I have chosen not to detail all of it here. It is worthy of an entire book. I heartily recommend getting more on this in Ann Coulter's "Treason". Drew Pearson, who Coulter called the "Larry Flynt of his day," threatened blackmail on McCarthy's supporters. The New York Post ran a 17-page series of untrue charges. McCarthy began to sue the papers and won libel damages and apologies. McCarthy was accused of having the postman spy on the mail of a fellow Senator, exposing personal peccadilloes of opponents (alcoholism, adultery, homosexuality), and various other charges. Despite the allegations of criminal activity, slander and libel against McCarthy, nobody ever succeeded in proving anything in court, despite every possible advantage in gathering such facts if they had in fact been facts. McCarthy never paid a dime in defamation charges.
James Reston, the Washington bureau chief of the New York Times, despised McCarthy and assigned a reporter who had once been a member of the C.P. to cover him. Reston refused to concede that the reporter was biased.
McCarthy's war record had indeed been glorified somewhat beyond what it really was. This was completely normal among the post-war political class, but the press attempted to paint his Marine flying career as a total lie. They never went after Lyndon Johnson, who never actually joined the Navy but flew some junkets to the war, orchestrated paperwork that made him look like he was in the Navy, and then awarded himself the Silver Star. Later, Johnson manipulated FCC rules in order to assure himself of millions in radio stations in Texas, but the press let him slide on this, too. Meanwhile, McCarthy flew combat missions.
"…He took enemy fire from savage Oriental beasts and fired back as a tail gunner," wrote Coulter. Those Oriental beasts would have tortured him savagely if the plane had crashed and he had been taken as a POW.
The most lasting memory of McCarthyism is a bow-tied attorney named Joseph Welch berating him during the Army-McCarthy hearings with the famous utterance, "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"
The Chicago Sun-Times declared Welch's speech was in reference to McCarthy's "investigations into phantom Communists in the Army." Two such "phantoms" included Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Julius was an Army engineer. Ethel's brother was in the Army Signal Corps and worked with them on obtaining the secrets they gave to the Communists. It was precisely because of them and hundreds of other real and actual "phantoms" that McCarthy had gone after the Army. Cells had been discovered in the Army.
Ike and Marshall were both sensitive to these charges, for obvious reasons. McCarthy's mistake was in going after the Army, and even after them, in a blatant, public manner. He should have taken the matter to Eisenhower, presented the President with the evidence he had, and a smart decision on how best to handle it should have been made. I seriously doubt Ike would have told McCarthy to "Go fuck yourself," as FDR did when presented with evidence of Hiss's espionage.
Further inflaming the situation was Schine's special treatment after he was drafted, ostensibly so he could finish his work with the committee while going through basic training. Cohn had a crush on Schine, and the matter was largely his fault, not McCarthy's. Cohn was convinced, probably correctly, that Schine had been drafted specifically as "payback" for their investigation of the Army. It has been assumed that Schine was Cohn's gay lover, but most of the evidence actually points the other way - towards Schine being something of a ladies man.
Drew Pearson was apparently responsible for Schine being drafted, but Schine had a slipped disk that normally would have exempted him. Pearson maintained the pressure. Schine entered training, and the press hounded every step of the process. McCarthy was loyal to Cohn, who he believed was indispensable to his work. When the media went into overdrive, McCarthy began to drink heavily. Democrats "behaved like animals - sneering, interrupting, and catcalling…" during hearings, writes Coulter. Welch was the attorney for the Army. In a two-hour harangue of Cohn he portrayed the McCarthy-Cohn-Schine team as homosexual lunatics. Liberals, the great champions of gay rights, love to demonstrate the perversions of gays if it can be applied to Republicans. Welch went on and on, speaking in sing-song. He asked Cohn detailed questions that would have required him to refer to notes and documents. If Cohn did not have the answer at his fingertips, Welch patronized him, laughed at him, and made fun of the very notion that any Communists existed in America.
Cohn held firm, answered, "Yes, sir," or "no, sir," or "I will try, sir," and attempted to use common sense. The Democrats who lined the gallery were laughing at him. It was a "show trial," a "kangaroo court." Welch kept returning to a familiar theme, which was, "Where are the Communists?", "Who are the Communists," "name me some Communists," and the like. Cohn gave some names but was never allowed to finish his sentences. Welch asked about some suspected Communists, insinuating that Cohn had made false accusations without facts. Cohn attempted to explain that some people under surveillance by the FBI or under committee investigation were not proven to be Communists - yet - but that was the purpose of the investigation, to determine one way or another if they were, and what kind of security risk they might be. Cohn tried to reasonably point out the difference between a Communist and a Communist spy, and why a Communist in a sensitive government position was more dangerous than an average citizen who happened to be a member of the C.P.
This was the heart of the truth about McCarthy. He had not gone after Hollywood, because they were not government employees. HUAC and others had indeed gone after Hollywood because they had influence over society through the power of their medium. But McCarthy's concerns were not with Communists, but with Communist spies and saboteurs who were in a position to do real damage. These explanations were met by jeers and sing-song interruptions by Welch. However, in asking Cohn to name Communists, he walked right into it.
McCarthy interrupted at this point and said that in Welch's own law firm was a "Mr. Fisher," who was still an employee at that time. Fisher's name was known by McCarthy. McCarthy had not identified Fisher publicly, along with numerous other suspects, because the investigation was not complete and he wanted to name only true Communists, not shed suspicion on those who might be innocent. But Fisher's status was rock solid: He was a Red. He had been identified as one not by McCarthy or Cohn, but by Eisenhower's Attorney General. Fisher was a member of an organization that the U.S. government had determined was the "legal bulwark of the Communist Party."
"I have hesitated bringing that up, but I have been rather bored with your phony requests to Mr. Cohn here that he personally get every Communist out of government before sundown," McCarthy told the flabbergasted Welch. "Therefore, we will give you information about the young man in your own organization."
Welch had asked for Communists, and now he was being granted his request. They were in his law firm. McCarthy, knowing such a bombshell was best exploded in private, where the facts could be absorbed and pride did not have to be ruffled out in the open, had wanted to keep the information out of the discussion. Welch's badgering had gotten the best of him. Now Welch was placed in the position of having all that he stood and argued for fall apart in his face. Red with embarrassment, at that point Welch's response was really quite normal. He had been taken apart in front of God and everybody by a man he loathed and did not think had what it took to best him intellectually (this has always been the "secret weapon" of conservatives). Welch needed to, as the Japanese say, "save face." Admitting then and there that McCarthy was right on was not an option.
Fisher had been a big problem for Welch, who thought he had taken care of the matter the "liberal way." Welch said McCarthy was "cruel" and "reckless," and explained that Fisher had gone to Harvard Law School, which in Welch's view made him innocent of all wrongdoing, but told the commonsensical that the chances he was a Communist were greater due to his schooling.
Welch had indeed found out that Fisher was a Communist, who had worked for the National Lawyers Guild, the C.P. "legal bulwark" in question. Welch's method of "fixing" the situation was indeed telling. He had gone to the New York Times and told them about it. In return the Times had written a sympathetic story "explaining" that Fisher had been a member of the Guild. Officially, Welch had named Fisher, but the blow had been softened by a liberal story that for all practical purposes forgave Fisher for his indiscretion and painted him as a fine American. Of course, in the Times' world, being a Communist was the best example of being a fine American.
McCarthy and Cohn had not jumped on the Fisher case. They did not have all the facts and chose to wait until the case, like all the cases they investigated, were locked up tight. Now McCarthy was "naming" a man who Welch had already named. Welch was calling McCarthy cruel for naming him the man he named! Naturally, the New York Times excoriated McCarthy for naming Fisher after the Times had named him first.
"Little did I dream you could be so reckless and cruel as to do injury to that lad," Welch said to McCarthy. Apparently, stating that Fisher was a Communist (true) was cruel. Telling the New York Times that Fisher was a Communist but (wink, wink) we all know that make him a good fellow was not cruel.
Welch went on to say that he could not forgive McCarthy for providing the information that Welch provided. McCarthy pointed out that Welch had named Fisher first, and that Welch had "baited" Cohn. Realizing that McCarthy had logic on his side, suddenly Welch said, "I mean you no injury, sir," and "let's move on." Liberals always want to move on after their lies have been identified and exposed. The Clinton's way of doing it was to explain that they had to "move on so I can get back to work for the American people."
Welch looked at McCarthy and said, "Let us <us, he said, as in both of us, as in me, he should have said> not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"
I am a historian, and all my life I did not know the details of this exchange until I read "Treason" by Ann Coulter. Reporters, who had seen the exchange as it has been explained herein, but who were rooting for Welch, began to applaud. They built upon their own applause to create an imaginary victory for Welch; a desperate re-structuring of the truth, a denial of what they had just seen. McCarthy's identification of a tried-and-true Communist had answered Welch's question. Welch had defended this Communist, which was no different than defending a Nazi. The climate of liberalism had pervaded the media and the Democrats in the post-Hiss years. It was hateful and unpatriotic. It was so desperate to score points against McCarthy, the Republicans and conservatism that it had lost all honor or sense of truth. The question Welch asked McCarthy was blatantly applicable to their own sad state of affairs. Communism was better (to them) than being on the losing side of history, especially when the winners were the likes of Richard Nixon, Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn. In a way, it is understandable. A psychologist could surely name a syndrome that describes the mindset. But the Hiss/McCarthy era was the dividing line of American politics. Since then, the Left has reserved so much hatred for the right that they have never been able or willing to own up to their own perfidy. The Kennedys came along and provided illusions of grandeur. Vietnam and the counter-culture actually made them think they had won, or at least were winning. Tet had changed the dynamic in a lasting manner. Nixon took 49 states, but Watergate - surely, Watergate - was the final nail in the Republican coffin. But the G.O.P. was like a football team that keeps falling behind, and led by brilliant quarterbacks (think Roger Staubach winning the Heisman at Navy and the Super Bowl for Dallas), refuses to quit and, through sheer force of excellence, continues to surge forward with touchdown after touchdown. At this point, it is a runaway. Guess who is winning.
Reporters are supposed to be professional. In sports, very often an announcement will be heard or posted on the wall in press boxes, "No rooting." In 1975, the Boston media broke this rule when Carlton Fisk hit his "body English" home run to win game six of the World Series against Cincinnati. That day in 1954, they did the same thing, rooting for Welch with cheers, boos, catcalls, hissing at McCarthy in a shameless display.
Welch had put on the performance of a lifetime. He cried and sobbed for the victim Fred Fisher, then as soon as the cameras were off of him perked up and asked an assistant, "Well, how did it go?"
Bill Clinton must have seen this act, because years later at Ron Brown's funeral he came in laughing and telling a dirty joke. When he saw that the cameras were pointed at him his face went somber and he wiped an imaginary tear from his eye.
The New York Times then went into high gear to rehabilitate Fisher. The National Lawyers Guild became, in their subsequent articles, an organization that worked with unions and civil rights organizations. Attorney General Herbert Brownell had identified them as the C.P.'s law firm, much like "The Firm" that Tom Cruise worked for in John Grisham's novel/movie was the mob's law firm (that film could be used to explain how Southern pols like Bill Clinton who get away with what they get away with). Brownell did not say that the Guild "might" be Communist, or was "thought to be" Communist. The investigative powers of the United States Justice Department had conducted their investigation, done the analysis, and reached the conclusion that they were Red. The Times still called them allegedly subversive, which was like saying that the New York Giants, who won that year's World Series in four straight over Cleveland, were allegedly the World Champions.
The victim Fisher, the target of McCarthy's "assassination," one of those whose lives were "ruined" by the witch hunts, was made partner at a prestigious Boston firm, became president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, and made a ton of dough. Only in America.
McCarthy had revealed the truth. He had stumped Welch in open court, surprising him with a witty, think-on-his-feet riposte, the secret weapon of so many underestimated conservative minds. But in winning the battle he had lost the war. It was as if the New York Times told the Giants, after beating the Indians, that their official scorer ruled it for Cleveland.
If ever the O'Reilly Factor was needed it was then.
"What did I do?" asked McCarthy of his aides. They had no answer. The press played Welch's soliloquy, leaving out all the context of McCarthy's answers and remarks. Television portrayals forever after showed only Welch "shaming" McCarthy without the Fisher revelation. Certainly nobody ever pointed out that it was Welch, not McCarthy, who out named Fisher.
Coulter wrote that in the 1950s there was "no Internet, no Fox News Channel, no Rush Limbaugh. Nothing but Nina Burleigh gushing to the Washington Post: I'd be happy to give Joe Welch oral sex just to thank him for attacking McCarthy. (Actual July 1998 quote about Bill Clinton from former Time magazine reporter Nina Burleigh: 'I'd be happy to give <oral sex> just to thank him for keeping abortion legal.")
It seems odd that Nina is so concerned with abortion since she cannot get pregnant by swallowing what Sterling Hayden referred to as "my vital bodily fluids" in "Dr. Strangelove". Hayden's General Ripper seemed to have the contraceptive plan down pat.
"I deny them <women> my essence, Mandrake," he tells Peter Sellers.
The McCarthy myth became one of good (liberals) triumphing over evil (conservatives). It has given birth to a million (and that figure might actually not be an exaggeration) stories in every conceivable form of media depicting liberalism as the better idea, and conservatism as the dark underbelly of human existence. Despite this going on for decades, a huge number of honest, hard working, tax-paying, play-by-the-rules, non-racist citizens have chosen conservatism in a free society. This fact drives the Left batty.
One of the first films to paint McCarthy with the brush of liberal treatment was "The Sweet Smell of Success", starring Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis. It is a classic, like so many of them, and like many, conservatives must grit their teeth through its politics while enjoying it anyway.
Lancaster plays a heavyweight New York gossip columnist based on Walter Winchell. Winchell was the staccato-voice of "The Untouchables", a friend of J. Edgar Hoover, and a staunch anti-Communist. He wrote about Reds and they did not like it. Supposedly the film was based on the true story of Winchell and his sister. The implication, hinted at on screen but more than hinted at among the liberal press, was that Winchell had an incestuous relationship with her. When she falls for a musician, Lancaster plants a false story that he is a dope-smoking Red. The film does not directly depict McCarthy or his Senate hearings, but the idea conveyed was that innocent "musicians, artists and poets" were unfairly victimized by accusations of Communism. Even though most of the beat-poets and Communist sympathizers among the Greenwich Village crowd looked like Alan Ginsburg in those days, in "Sweet Smell of Success" the musician is player by Martin Milner. Remember him? Blonde-haired, blue-eyed, clean-cut, he was the embodiment of All-Americanism, cast perfectly as the veteran L.A.P.D. cop in the 1960s hit TV series, "Adam 12".
As for the real Winchell, the Left drove him out of New York. He moved to Hollywood, where his gossip columns single-handedly turned a journeyman left-handed pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels, Bo Belinsky, into the biggest playboy in baseball history.
McCarthy's drinking became acute during the Army-McCarthy hearings. In another encounter with Welch, a similar demand was made of him, to produce the name of a government whistle blower who had outlined Communist infiltration at Fort Monmouth. McCarthy had promised the source anonymity. He explained to Welch that sources would dry up if they were automatically exposed. McCarthy told Welch he was careful not to expose the names of suspected Reds until the investigation was conclusive, but Welch hounded him unmercifully.
McCarthy clashed with Eisenhower when he tried to hale the President into the Senate for questioning. Ike replied that he and the Army had conducted their own screening methods to keep Communists out of the Army, and invoked "executive privilege." Used against McCarthy it was brilliant. Used 20 years later by Dick Nixon it was devious. Going against Dwight Eisenhower was a bad tactic. McCarthy should have worked with the President behind closed doors, but it is entirely true that he was a publicity hound. Now his public style had gone too far.
"McCarthy's real threat to American Democracy <was> the fact that he has immobilized the liberal movement," Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey said. In John Frankenheimer's "The Manchurian Candidate", a Senator who is shot and killed bore some resemblance to Humphrey. He stated in the film that while the anti-Communist accusations by the McCarthy character may have led some to believe he was a "buffoon," he himself felt that if he were a "paid Soviet agent" he could not have done more damage to America. The Humphrey and movie quotes are telling, and prescient.
In a way both of them are right on, although neither would know nor understand why. Humphrey was right because hate for McCarthy did indeed wake up a sleeping giant. The New Deal was considered archaic by the 1950s. Macho Republicans and their patriot, flag-waving militarism were the order of the day. Truman was disgraced and the most popular man on Earth led the G.O.P., which for a brief period held both the House and Senate. Then along came McCarthy. The Left banded together in a way they never have since. They created a culture of media hatred that has hung over this beautiful nation like a nuclear Winter. The movie Senator was correct, and Ike knew it in his way. McCarthy may have been right, but in becoming the lightning rod for criticism all the focus of Communism was shifted away from espionage, sabotage, the Sino-Soviet pact, military expansion into Latin America, Cuba, and Eastern Europe. If McCarthyism had not occurred, perhaps a unified country would have been better prepared for Vietnam. This is just a theory and must be stated in accordance with the understanding that John Kennedy was a staunch anti-Communist. But the liberals may have been emboldened to go beyond the usual dirty tricks in stealing the 1960 election (again, however, the Joseph Kennedy influence is over and above all the usual complaints against Democrats).
Eisenhower was furious at McCarthy for his handling of the situation, and he viewed him as having led himself and the country down a dangerous path that, circuitously, had done damage that a "paid Soviet agent" could not have done. The point of this, however, is the damage done to America went hand in hand with liberal treachery, revenge and a desire to inflict more pain on the right than on Communism. Eisenhower knew the nature of these Democrats. He was a moderate and he knew how to work with them. After McCarthy even his prestige could not contain them.
The Left turned Communists who had been investigated by McCarthy into national heroes. Edward Murrow ran a brutal CBS special on McCarthy. The Senate voted to censure him. Interestingly, McCarthy had originally been a Democrat, but he was exposed to their corrupt machine. He also opposed segregation, which was entirely prosecuted by Democrat minions, so he chose the G.O.P. His politics were considered rather moderate.
"Only later, when it became clear that McCarthy strongly opposed a regime that sought the total destruction of the United States, was he reclassified a 'conservative,'" wrote Coulter. He was accused of being homosexual despite the fact that the woman he eventually married was described as a "ravishing beauty" who had been a bridesmaid of President Truman's daughter, Margaret. He employed women, gays and Jews when such a diverse staff was unheard of, and was popular with black voters. The segregationist Arkansas Senator William Fulbright, Bill Clinton's mentor a decade later, attacked him relentlessly. McCarthy called him "Senator Halfbright."
The nation turned on McCarthy, and it affected him brutally. This is a telling fact. McCarthy drank himself to death. Richard Nixon became deathly ill in 1974, had to be hospitalized and was thought to be near death while muttering incoherently how "insane" it was that he could be hated so much after having done so much to help make the world safer. Nixon recovered and gained a measure of revenge as an elder statesman, but these two Republicans, broken by their Leftist critics, were men of conscience. Their hearts never mended. They were consumed by questions of guilt, wondering where they had gone wrong and whether they indeed had deserved their fates.
Bill Clinton, on the other hand, never showed a sign of wear and tear. He just bluffed his way through, grinning and joking as if he had not a care in the world. The possibility remains that Clinton was able to handle the heat precisely because he (and his wife) have no moral conscience to burden them whatsoever. Or worse.
"They're murdering me, they're killing me!" McCarthy said weeks before his death. The successful anti-McCarthy playbook became the blueprint for numerous character assassinations, most recently launched against Linda Tripp, Newt Gingrich, Ken Starr, and led by Hillary and Carville, against all the women groped, assaulted and raped by Bill. The difference between McCarthy, Nixon and most conservatives accused of wrongdoing is that they get "caught" and punished. The Clintons just get away with it!
After McCarthyism, as Humphrey aptly pointed out, the Left became emboldened. The Sulzberger family, longtime publishers of the New York Times, were the boldest of the print media (Hollywood took the cake, both in terms of on-screen content and off-screen remarks). The current publisher of the Times is Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger. In the early 1970s, like Bill Clinton he evaded the draft and protested the Vietnam War. His father asked him point blank who Pinch would rather see shot and killed in a face-to-face confrontation, an American soldier or a North Vietnamese regular.
"I would want to see the American guy get shot," said Pinch. "It's the other guy's country." Of course Pinch would want the American boy to be killed. He would not have been one of his fraternity brothers. Calling it the "other guy's country" is, of course, a lie. The U.S. did not take the fight into North Vietnam. They were defending South Vietnam, where the Communist was invading "the other guy's country," or Cambodia, where they were running and hiding and using "the other guy's country."
Technically, Pinch did not commit treason when he said what he said, and even expressing such views in years of scathing Left wing editorials may not be treason. Ann Coulter was attacked by liberal reviewers and interviewers who tried to pin her into a corner, narrowing the definition of treason to its tiniest parameters. But Pinch's words, while not enough to land him in Ft. Leavenworth Prison, are treasonous. They are beyond contempt.
Despite popular misconceptions about the 1960s, Americans under the age of 35 supported the Vietnam War. At the time of U.S. withdrawal, only 20 percent of the country opposed the war. But the media ignored the Silent Majority and portrayed - to the world, particularly to the Communists in Moscow, Beijing and Hanoi - a nation bitterly opposed to the effort. It was a lie, and this lie cost thousands of American lives and, eventually, millions of Vietnamese and Cambodian lives. Technically, these misrepresentations on the part of the New York Times, the Washington Post, Dan Rather, Morley Safer, Walter Cronkite, Peter Arnett, and CBS News, were not acts of treason. They had the right to express their opinion. But to those who paid the price for their perfidy, it was treacherous, and with deadly results.
In Oliver Stone's "Nixon", there is a scene on the Presidential yacht Sequoia, which Nixon liked to take out on the Potomac River. In this scene, the subject is Vietnam, and the question is whether the U.S. can win. Nixon, and one or two other voices shoot back, in the fastest possible response, "No," then go into a discussion of the "Kissinger plan" of linking Soviet and Chinese détente with an honorable withdrawal from Vietnam.
First of all, the part of the conversation in which Nixon instantly said "no" to the possibility of winning in Vietnam never happened. The larger point is that by the time he took over the White House, the popular press had changed the paradigm in Southeast Asia, convincing millions it was in fact unwinnable. Nixon might have been able to aggressively win in 1962, but by 1969-70 he had to undo the mess created by Johnson. He and Kissinger did the best they could with what was left, and managed to turn lemons into lemonade though triangulated global diplomacy. For his efforts, Stone shows Nixon's steak during the Sequoia dinner scene dripping with blood, as if to suggest that Nixon was Pontius Pilate.
The concept that the country was entirely against stopping Communism in Vietnam simply does not hold with the most accurate polls of all, the elections of 1960, 1962 1964, 1966, 1968 and 1972. In 1960, JFK took an aggressive stance on the Indochina question to avoid the "soft on Communism" label. Nixon had served under a President who had prided himself on keeping the country out of conflicts. Both candidates, however, were popular because of, not despite, their anti-Communist credentials.
In 1962 the Democrats made gains after having stood up to Communism in Cuba, and Kennedy's creation of the Green Berets was a popular, even romantic, vision of America taking the fight to Communists.
In 1964, Johnson was elected after having started the war at the Gulf of Tonkin. The revisionists would have you believe he was elected as a peacenik while Barry Goldwater's "extreme" military policies were rejected. Actually, Johnson had portrayed Goldwater as an Arizona version of Dr. Strangelove, but conventionally defeating Communism was still highly popular.
In 1966, the Republicans, led by Nixon's tireless campaigning, won huge off-year electoral victories not opposing the war, but offering a better plan to defeat Communism than the one Johnson had, which was already showing cracks. In 1968, Johnson announced he would not run during the Primaries. Johnson's decision was not based entirely on an overwhelming mandate by the Democrats to pull out of Vietnam. While the Eugene McCarthy and later Robert Kennedy factions of the party indeed were made up of a large anti-war constituency, the party was divided. Many Democrats continued to support the war, which was the nexus for the Chicago riots. Nixon (and Wallace's popularity) in the '68 general election certainly shows that the U.S. was not one big anti-war rally. In 1972, Nixon won big. The country was convinced that peace, not a Bull Run-style withdrawal but an honorable result that saved South Vietnam from the ravages of the Reds, was at hand, and it was. The 1972 Democrats were divided because many of them had honor and disagreed with George McGovern's withdrawal policy.
All of this occurred despite the best efforts of the slanted media to convince the country that we were losing in Vietnam, had no hope of winning, and that "everybody" agreed that this was the scenario.
One cannot watch documentaries about the "killing fields" without rehashing the words of Pinch's dad, Punch Sulzberger's, who said in 1964, "I am not sure that what we offer the Vietnamese peasant…is any better than what the Communists offer."
Tell that to the thousands of boat people who went through every possible kind of hell to come to our shores during and after the Democrats turned the Nixon-Kissinger victory into genocide.
President Eisenhower had said he could not "conceive of a greater tragedy for America than to get heavily involved" in Vietnam, but events of the early 1960s most likely would have forced his hand. Nixon was aggressive. Goldwater's words speak for themselves.
"I would have said to the North Vietnamese, by dropping leaflets out of B-52s, 'You quit the war in three days or the next time these babies come over they're going to drop some big bombs on you.' And I'd make a swamp out of North Vietnam…I'd rather kill a hell of a lot of North Vietnamese than one American and we've lost enough of them."
This rhetoric is considered the essence of right wing militarism, but in light of short, completely successful Republican wars in Grenada, the Persian Gulf and Iraq, is it so inconceivable that a massive strike early could have cut the war off before it escalated? Opinion on this matter is divided, but the opinion of the New York Times, CBS and even the estimable David Halberstam is not what I would consider the final, expert analysis on the subject.
The Vietnam experience was described as a "quagmire," a word the liberals fell in love with. They trot it out every time this country goes into conflict, but it never sticks. In Iraq and Afghanistan, they call the difficult administration of these nations a "quagmire," but forget that the circumstances have no comparison with Vietnam. In both situations, we have invaded countries, defeated armies and occupy capitals. In Vietnam we never invaded the north or occupied Hanoi. Today, we face no prospect of Communist monoliths from Russia and China joining the fight, which was a big part of the Vietnam equation. The more I read about Vietnam and compare the 1991 and 2003 wars, the more I am convinced we should have bombed, invaded and occupied Hanoi, then dictated winning terms, and that we should have done it early on.
When America swept aside the Taliban in about five minutes in 2001, Maureen Dowd of the New York Times wrote, "Many who came of age during the Vietnam War, wincing at America's overweening military stance in the world, are now surprised to find themselves lustily rooting for the overwhelming display of force against the Taliban."
First of all, the only people who "winced" over American militarism were liberals. The victory in Afghanistan surprised nobody on the conservative side of the aisle. Dowd and her cohorts were rooting against us, but jumped on the bandwagon in time for the parade.
J.W. Apple of the New York Times admitted that George Bush's prosecution of American forces on the side of good made him realize Vietnam could have been won, too. The Gulf War had been rife with images of civilian casualties and Red Cross buildings shot by American ordnance, but even in a country whose propaganda was controlled by Saddam, post-war analysis determined light civilian casualties and damage. All the editorials that warn of overarching American military might seem to be preceded by dire warnings about our "humiliating withdrawal from Vietnam," which is something like Neville Chamberlain's ancestors referring to "Winston Churchill's humiliating entrance into World War II."
Prior to the Afghan conflict that followed 9/11, a Berkeley professor named Mark Danner predicted an American defeat in the style of the British and the Soviets. His reasoning was based on certain events that, upon analysis, state all we really need to know about who is better at handling defense of this country. He cited the Bay of Pigs, Vietnam, the Iranian hostage crisis, the Beirut bombings, and Mogadishu. Maybe Danner thought he had a bi-partisan list because he included Beirut in 1983, which was a terrorist act, not a war. The other events had little in common with each other, except they were all Democrat follies, and could be added to other wars that started badly because of Democrats. This included the Civil War (Democrats-turned-Confederates); World War I (the Germans waited nine years until the U.S. Republicans were out of office to attack); World War II (Roosevelt left the U.S. dangerously unprepared then let thousands die at Pearl so we could enter the war, instead of just showing leadership in the first place and joining with Churchill from a position of strength); and Korea (Truman's loss of China gave away much of what we had gained and encouraged Communist adventurism).
Danner went on to say that "defeating Al Qaeda would "require much greater power than America has shown itself to posses." It is a good thing Bush disagreed with Danner's now-shown-to-be-faulty-assessment. But was Danner's analysis faulty, or something worse? Was their treachery in his dire predictions?
Ann Coulter may be criticized for suggesting as much, and while technically Danner did not "commit the act of treason," he and many like him abet the shadowy hope of it in their continual barkings, their open antagonism of foreign policy that not only is in America's best interests, but frees thousands, sometimes millions of people from slavery.
Afghanistan was nothing compared to Iraq, however. Jimmy Carter and his crew came out of the woodwork to criticize the prospect of removing the worst despot on the face of the Earth from the Middle East, and giving freedom a chance to reign where only darkness heretofore had fallen. Carter's expert analysis on the Middle East was based on the Iranian hostage crisis (which some college historians had recently blamed not on him, but Eisenhower) and naming Andrew Young as Ambassador to the U.N. Young said of the Ayatollah Khomeini that he would "eventually be hailed as a saint." We are still waiting on word from the Vatican. In the mean time, Khomeini's grandson, a respected Muslim cleric, came to Iraq to praise the United States, pledging to coalesce moderate forces, work with us, and create a Democratic country.
American victories in the Middle East could be traced to Richard Nixon, who according to Henry Kissinger in "Diplomacy" had presented a "direct moral challenge" to the Soviet Union. Reagan had abandoned the "gradualism" of the Cold War and presented a "why not victory?" approach that carried over to three Middle East victories that form the backbone of the New World Order in this century.
When Reagan hard-lined Gorbachev over SDI at Reykjavik, the Left was shown to be quite clueless. Flora Lewis of the New York Times was astonished that Gorby had "concentrated practically all its propaganda on space defense," and that he "must have his own reasons." Time's cover story read, "Sunk by Star Wars." Countless liberal editorials and analyses referred to Reagan's mistakes, fumbles, errors, debacles and the general conviction that the greatest peace treaty since Appommatox had been lost because of a "colossal failure of leadership." These opinions, while not "treachery" in and of themselves, nevertheless reflected direct opposition to the stated aim and goals of the elected government of this nation. Given that a mere two year later those goals were shown to be the winning formula in one of the greatest victories ever achieved, an analysis of these analysts concludes that they were clueless, unpatriotic, or both.
When the Soviet archives broke open, along with the Venona cables demonstrating spies in the Communist wing of the Democrat party, reams and reams of confirmation came from the top Russian political, military and intelligence people answering Flora Lewis' question about Gorby's "own reasons" for letting SDI dominate his policy. The Soviets knew it could work, and Reagan used it to press our advantage all the way to the end.
Liberals who assess that Gorbachev won the Cold War for us are making an argument that makes about as much sense as saying that Robert E. Lee won the Civil War for the North. Ex-Communists and resistance fighters know better.
Reagan "is one of the most important figures of the 20th Century," said Ladislav Jakl, the founder of the Czech Society for Ronald Reagan. "My life in the last 10 years in a free country, it's mainly due to the work of Mr. President Reagan."
The film "MacArthur", starring Gregory Peck in the title role, begins with text that states that over 1 billion people were affected by MacArthur, his policies, leadership and military victories. In the song "Abraham, Martin and John", a liberal anthem of the 1960s, Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King and John Kennedy are credited with "freeing a lot of people." Lincoln and King certainly freed their share. How many JFK freed is debatable. But Ronald Reagan deserves songs and movies about him, because he is responsible for the freedom of millions, too. Whittaker Chambers had predicted that Communism would triumph because Americans could not match their passion, but his analysis was wrong, too.
Communist "passions" ran amok during the Cultural Revolution and in the "killing fields," just to name a few. Its faults were too exposed to too many to be excused. Reagan and the conservatives matched the passion of the Left with an abiding love for freedom, and were convinced that they were doing God's work in defeating Communism. When Reagan began to talk about God, morality and the absolutes of good and evil, reporters wanted him to "clarify" his remarks. He came at a time in which the Soviets had been led to believe, by the liberal media, that the kind of "cowboy jingoism" of Reagan, which was precisely what was needed to defeat them, had died with Watergate. Just as the Democrats were surprised time after time by the Silent Majority, so too were the Communists.
Chambers was prescient in his statement that if America could prevail, it would not be through war, but through a belief in God. This is utterly anathema to liberals, and as long as they choose not to invest some faith in the prospect, they will never get it and they will keep losing.
Eleanor Clift of Newsweek was one of those liberals. She said the Cold War as some kind of CIA cover-up, implying that the Soviets were on the verge of losing all along. Langley had propped them up because we needed an enemy, concealing the facts from the doddering Reagan until the appropriate time (apparently when ex-CIA Director Bush was in the White House). She also said that a child was better off in Cuba than in the United States. Shortly thereafter, she shipped her own children to school in Havana. Not.
It was the liberals who were wrong. They had been propping up the Soviets through their loving tributes for years.
"The Soviet Union is going to remain a stable state, with very stable, conservative <italics added>, immobile government…" stated 35 Sovietologists assembled for a 1983 Harvard/Columbia/Cornell study. "We don't see any collapse or weakening of the Soviet system."
Meanwhile, in a bar in Los Angeles, California, I told my then-roommate, an undergraduate student-athlete at USC named Terry Marks, that I was not sure we could ever "defeat" Communism without going to war.
"Not so," said Terry, ordering another pitcher of beer. "We'll just outspend 'em and they’ll collapse." Terry was a tough Irish Catholic kid from a family of 12 in upstate New York. He was weaned on common sense.
We drank beer, Reagan outspent 'em, and the Soviets collapsed. Terry went on to become the Godfather of my daughter, Elizabeth, and is sure to be the next president of Coca-Cola International.
But liberals like Walter Laqueur, chairman of the International Research Council at the Center for Strategic and International Studies at Georgetown said there was "no real solution" to the East/West "dilemma." Reagan infuriated these people by veering from their prescriptions both on the domestic and foreign policy fronts. He made a speech denouncing "Keynesian economics," which made the Left gasp, then moved beyond George Kennan's containment policies, which made them roar. Guys like Keynes and Kennan win the Nobel Peace Prize. Guys like Reagan won the Cold War.
When the Contras became a force in Central America, the Nicaraguan Sandinistas suddenly found new allies: American liberals. In an act that really and actually comes close to being worthy of a prison term for treason, Mike Farrell and his Hollywood pals hosted Sandinista Marxist leader Daniel Ortega at a star-studded Beverly Hills fund-raiser. They were willing to overlook his tirades against Zionists.
"I don't consider them a threat to my way of life, or the United States," commented Mrs. George Slaff, the wife of Beverly Hills' mayor. Of course not. Brave Americans had long ago died to secure America for Mrs. Slaff, but Communism was just fine for the "little brown brothers," as Ann Coulter wrote in "Treason". The usual Hollywood suspects at the Communist fund-raiser were praised for putting their careers on the line, when in fact the industry had gotten so Left wing that their actions could be interpreted as helpful to their careers. It was opposing Communism that put one in jeopardy by the 1980s.
The Sandinista-Contra conflict of the 1980s framed the beginnings of the Leftist statement, oft-repeated, that to oppose a Republican President is "not unpatriotic." They have been repeating this over and over for 20 years. To paraphrase Shakespeare, "The Democrats doth protest too much!"
The former Ku Klux Klansman, Senator Robert Byrd (D.-West Virginia), would go on to become the most powerful Democrat in the U.S. Senate. He did so on the basis of hate speech directed against Reagan and his efforts at fighting Central American Communism. Byrd is a typical example of how a filthy human being rises to great heights in the Democrat party, while actions that are not one-50th as bad will sink a Republican by virtue of strict G.O.P. self-policing.
Mary McGrory, who surely has no love for the KKK, could find nothing bad to say about Byrd, but when conservative commentator Pat Buchanan weighed in favor of the Contras she denounced his "ugly" tactics, such as urging that an ideology that killed 100 million be stopped. The Democrats just accused the right of "Red baiting," which is the same as "Nazi baiting" or "racist baiting." Telling the truth about liberal pet projects is "baiting."
The Reagan Administration's brilliant Iran-Contra operation bedeviled the Left. It ranked up there with Hiss, McCarthy, and Nixon - popular events that the American public supported but had to be destroyed by the Left. This time, the Left came close, and again inflicted some real damage to American foreign policy and prestige, but Reagan was too far along. He was winning and not even the liberals could beat him.
Liberals used Iran-Contra to denounce all of Reagan's anti-Communist policy. It was as if the mishandling of Chiang Kai-Shek in China in 1942 was just cause for dropping out of the entire Pacific war. Flora Lewis attacked U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick for stating in 1984 that, until Reagan, the Communists had major major expansions.
"Where?" Lewis asked.
Answer: South Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan, Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, South Yemen, Libya, Syria, Aden, Congo, Madagascar, the Seychelles, Nicaragua and Grenada. Somehow these people labor under the myth that conservatives do not acquire facts, or more likely, that their dominant position in the media will overshadow said facts.
Surely all the millions of people who lived in these countries "chose" Communism. Of course, nobody ever "invited" Communist takeover, no Communist government had ever been Democratically elected, and wherever Communism gained a foothold it created their number one export, refugees to non-Communist countries. Walter Mondale said fighting Communism had "undermined our moral authority." Liberal protesters referred to Reagan as "Ronald Ray-gun," and made the point that "Russians love their children, too." They always called them the Russians, not the Soviets, especially when referring to all those children trapped inside their evil system.
Anthony Lewis of the New York Times thought Reagan was unable to handle "complex" issues, despised his "religiosity" and his "black-and-white characterizations." Would Lewis have despised Patton's "black-and-white" strategy of stopping the Nazis, at any cost, at Bastogne in December of 1944? Somehow, the answer to that question is not as simple as it might seem. If a Republican were President under modern political circumstances, Lewis might well have found criticism of it. The point is that Lewis and others like him, in voicing these un-American platitudes, may not have been committing treason, but they were providing cover for it. History has exposed them on this.
Lewis hated the fact that we outspent the Soviets and built up an enormous arsenal. Simply having it, in his view, was as bad as using it. He had no grasp of the "peace through strength" concept. Reagan's plan worked and nobody was killed, but that does not matter to Lewis. It would be like criticizing a student for studying too much for a test that demonstrated the person to be the best student in the class, because it was embarrassing to the rest of the class.
Reagan won the Cold War by ignoring decades of liberal advice and strategy. He did it, as Frank Sinatra would say, "his way." Liberals never wanted to win the Cold War in the first place. It might prove embarrassing to the Communists. Norman Mailer came out and said that in 1984, while researching "Harlot's Ghost", he traveled to Moscow and roamed freely, extolling the churches and the "inexpensive working economy" he saw during his stay. He stated that he saw no evidence of a police state, and used his short stay as evidence that Reagan's "evil empire" speech was mere propaganda. A guy as smart as Mailer would seemingly have realized that he was an international figure, known by the Soviets to be a liberal and at the time writing a book about the CIA that they hoped might be embarrassing to The Company (it really was not). Mailer walked around downtown Moscow, a tourist haven which was hardly representative of the gulag archipelago. He could not say he was not tailed and spied on, or that what he saw was not orchestrated for his benefit. Either way, a few days as a Moscow tourist did not make him Alexander Solzhenitsyn.
The Nobel Peace Price went not to Reagan, but Gorbachev. Not winning the Nobel has become a badge of honor among conservatives. Apparently an American President would have to lose a war and get a ton of people killed in order to be eligible for one.
Coulter wants to know if Democrat non-support for the 2003 Iraq War was unpatriotic. It certainly was political. Congress authorized Bush to use the military in Iraq in October of 2002, and plenty of Democrats voted with the Republicans. But once the November elections were over (and they were soundly beaten), the Democrats became the "loyal opposition." There were exceptions, like Joe Lieberman, but the lead-up, the actual war, and its aftermath seemed to usher a new era of spin and deception on their part.
The 1991 Persian Gulf War and the 2001-02 Afghan action were splendid successes, and nobody could deny them. The Democrats who opposed these actions faded into the woodwork, and many tried to jump on the bandwagon during the victory parade. But Iraq was different. The best explanation is that George W. Bush and the Republicans had strung together so many popular, successful accomplishments that the Left simply could not take it anymore. It was like the Hiss and Clinton affairs. If they admitted they were wrong (or at least that the Republicans were right) on this one, it would be the proverbial "final nail" in their coffin. It would hand one too many political victories to Bush. It would make him impregnable. It would make them irrelevant.
So the Democrats, as if the October Congressional resolution did not exist, refused to come on board. The ones who had voted for the war, unlike the 1991 Gulf War aftermath, tried to deny Bush (and America) its victory even after it had won its victory. It was as if the Commissioner of Football refused to hand the Super Bowl Trophy to an owner he was feuding with. The directive, written or not, was that the war had to be opposed even in its wake, because the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" theory only strengthened the Republicans (and America).
The Democrat strategy points to a fundamental aspect of what their party has become. This truth has existed for decades, but it is more pronounced now than ever. The party only benefits when America fails. The Democrats oppose victory in battle, which furthers U.S. interests, because it does not further Democrat interests. The Democrats oppose a good economy, which furthers U.S. interests, because it does not further Democrat interests. Defeat of Communism, which furthers U.S. (and the world's) interests, is opposed by the Democrats because it does not further Democrat interests.
Is this treachery? Is this unpatriotic? In a free country people have a lot of leeway. Calling it treason or unpatriotic is not helpful. Just pointing to it and saying res ipsa loquiter is more instructive, and gets the point across more thoroughly. It is a losing philosophy used by a losing political party. They have been losing lately, and in 2004 they will ride this philosophy to the most complete political defeat in American electoral history.
The Left pointed to European countries, namely Germany, France and Russia, who opposed military action, and to the U.N., who of course opposed it, and sided with them. They ignored the fact that these countries had sold arms and armaments of WMD to Iraq, that they had supplied Iraq with technical and political espionage, and that their opposition to the war was about protecting these secrets and continuing to make money doing business with Saddam.
"They have good reason to hate us," former President Clinton said of Muslim terrorists. "After all, we sent the Crusaders to try and conquer them." For a smart historian, this was one heck of a stupid remark. First, it fails to address the reality of the Crusades, which was ended in 1290 after "a bunch of Europeans responded aggressively to the sack of Jerusalem by a mob of Muslim savages," who "spent the prior several hundred years grabbing a lot of territory that wasn't theirs," wrote Coulter.
Furthermore, the Crusades had nothing to do with the U.S., and the U.S. was not "imposing" Christianity on them. Finally, what ever happened to the "rule," which George H.W. Bush adhered to in deference to Clinton, that former Presidents abstain from political criticism of their successors. Clinton and Carter obviously decided it does not apply to Democrats speaking ill of Republicans. Res ipsa loquiter.
Al Gore fell in love with the tired old terrorist-domino theory while ignoring the other "rule" which keeps losing Presidential candidates from criticizing the winners.
"What we represent to the world is empire," said Gore, and he is partly right. But Gore referred to the "old" empire of Britain and Rome, not to the spread of freedom, Democracy and market opportunity that is inherent in the New World Order. Gore said that in responding to terrorism aggressively, we were only making more enemies, and that we were inviting more terror as backlash. This ignores the fact that the U.S. under Clinton had done little to thwart terror. Bush certainly seemed to have more of a domestic agenda on the table than a big anti-terror military campaign planned. But Gore and the liberals seem to think that we were supposed to have shut it down after the 9/11 funerals, ride the sympathy of Europe, and let the guilty roam free. He seems to think that letting Osama bin Laden skate, and to tell Saddam that he could build his weapons and orchestrate with terrorists with impunity, would not have resulted in further attacks against us because we would have been seen as nice guys. The most hypocritical side of the liberal argument, however, is that if Bush had not responded as he did, the Democrats would have been on him even worse than they are now. At least under those circumstances the Left would have been in the right, which this historian would identify as some truly groundbreaking history!
When Bush linked Iran, Iraq and North Korea as the "axis of evil," a brilliant move inspired by Reagan's "evil empire" speech, his critics complained that the three countries had little in common with each other. This made as much sense as saying that the Axis Powers of World War II, Germany, Japan and Italy, were not threats because they had little in common with each other. Or that only two of the Central Powers of World War I, Germany and Austria, but not Turkey, had much in common. When the question of war in Iraq came to a head, the Left then said that if we were to attack Iraq, then we should attack North Korea. When it suited their purposes, they found something "in common" between Saddam and Kim Jong-Il.
The liberals made fools out of themselves, essentially saying that, "Saddam has no weapons of mass destruction and if we attack him he'll use his weapons of mass destruction." In the war's victorious aftermath, they chose to give Saddam the benefit of the doubt on WMD over Bush. In this they come very close to treason, and very definitely exhibit lack of patriotism. A great American victory is hateful to these people.
They never give any credence to the numerous possibilities that still exist regarding WMD in Iraq, choosing instead to brand Bush a liar and hope the issue stays alive until 2004. Saddam knew if he used WMD the Americans would still defeat him and he would lose his edge with his Leftist allies. He hid them, first from inspectors, then from American troops, in places that will take a long while to find them. He could have destroyed them, but that is not likely. What he definitely wanted to do was embarrass George Bush, knowing Western liberalism would not let him down, and they have not. Treason? Maybe yes, maybe not.
Either way, it is not a very impressive liberal performance, and the voting public is watching. Robert Scheer, who is not just liberal and unpatriotic, but has genuinely favored North Korea over the United States since the 1970s, has been their biggest defender. Clinton and Carter offered absolutely no helpful advice, and continually offered their hopes and dreams, which any thinking strategist could quickly identify as not being in the best interests of the nation they once took oaths to "protect and defend." Teddy Kennedy said we should concentrate not on Iraq but North Korea, but once Bush took care of Iraq Kennedy no longer wanted to take care of North Korea. Their political lies are breathtaking.
Woody Harrelson once backed weekend traffic up on the Golden Gate Bridge for hours so he could demonstrate the value of pot smoking. He glorified hardcore pornography as the most important of Constitutional freedoms. His brother is a murderer (which gives he and Jesse Jackson something to talk about). He came out and said he was "tired of lies," as if there was some kind of alternate Universe in which things he said were not lies. He claimed that the attack on Iraq was part of a conservative conspiracy to wipe out "non-white" nations. Keep smokin', Woodrow.
Harrelson described Christopher Columbus as the spreader of white genocide, racism and the spread of European diseases (giving no credit for spreading the greatest religious and philosophical ideas in the history of the world) and said Americans were "stupid" for being so mad about 9/11. Yellow ribbons and flags were a "scourge" on the countryside.
My former editor at the San Francisco Examiner said after 9/11 he put a flag up, as if that made up for a lifetime of liberalism. I told him putting a flag up was never a bad thing, but he just thinks his right to tell me what to think (a free press) is more important than my right to vote.
Actress Jessica Lange denounced it as "un-Constitutional, immoral and illegal" war. Whether it was immoral or not could fall under the rubric of "opinion," but the fact that it was Constitutional and legal simply falls within…the facts.
"I hate Bush, I despise him and his entire administration," said Lange.
Susan Sarandon predicted that "thousands" would die, but that did not happen. She questioned what the plan was, and said we were going in "blind." The plan was highly, precisely and to quintessential effect that with which actually happened: "Shock and awe" followed by a quick, decisive victory, the overthrow of Saddam, the liberation of Iraq, and the very hard work of turning Iraq into a secure, Democratic country that the Middle East can look at and say, "Maybe there is another way" other than terrorism and anarchy. This part of the plan can be summed up as the administration of the country, the re-building of the infrastructure, clean-up operations against terrorists and rogue fighters, the capture of remaining Saddam cronies and family, and the creation of a government with the aim toward free elections. This perfectly describes exactly what has and continues to happen in Iraq, a place that is still dangerous and difficult, but is going according to plan. It would be nice if people would support the tough job we have endeavored to undertake instead of undermining it. Treachery? Probably not. Unpatriotic? It is just my opinion, I am conservative and take it with a grain of salt, but, hey, c'mon, it is.
Janeane Garofalo said, "Dropping bombs on the Iraqis is not going to disarm Saddam." It sure did not do him any good. Later she said Afghanistan was a "failure" (apparently other than freeing Kabul, sending Osama on the run, plus all the other good things). She said there was no reason to go after terrorism (other than 9/11, the USS Cole, the Khobar Barracks, and other acts). She said there was no evidence of weapons of mass destruction (other than the evidence which takes up many pages earlier in this book). Is it possible to take her seriously?
Singer Sheryl Crow said war is not the answer (other than, as Ann Coulter points out, "ending slavery, Fascism, Soviet totalitarianism, but other than that it has a limited repertoire.")
The "best way to solve problems is to not have enemies," Crow announced.
Sean Penn's ad in the Washington Post begged Bush to "help save America before yours is a legacy of shame and horror." After the war was won in record time with minimal casualties, Penn was not heard from. Bush may win 50 states in 2004. Penn recounted the "bitter experience" of his father dealing with McCarthyism, which ravaged his career and family so much that he went on to a brilliant directorial career ("Bonnie and Clyde") and raised his sons, Sean and Chris, in the exclusive Communist enclave of Malibu.
Various celebrities like Madonna spoke of karma and "cycles of violence," as if the 9/11 hijackers had nothing to do with cycles of violence. George Clooney claimed to have inside CIA information. What a surprise, it was not favorable to Bush. Richard Gere asked why their was so much "personal enmity" between Bush and Saddam (other than Saddam's attempt to assassinate his father in Kuwait in 1993). Dustin Hoffman was one of those guys who got it kind of right without realizing it when he said the war, aside from being "reprehensible," was about "hegemony, money, power and oil."
In reality, the answer to that is, "You say that like it is a bad thing." Of course it was, along with many other good reasons. The Iraq War was very much about American hegemony, which is the only good kind in the world today. We must be powerful, influential and have prestige in a part of the world where, if we are not, it can explode and have terrible ramifications in every corner of the globe. To say that oil is anything less than highly important is completely insane. Hoffman's statement is the crux of liberalism. He recognizes the truth. He just does not like it. Liberals do not want America to be powerful and in control, but offer no alternative. If the U.S. were to lose its power and prestige at this point, many of the victories of the 20th Century would be lost. The Left simply fails to see things from the standpoint of global realism. Viewed from that lens, the world is a dangerous, radically disordered place. The United States has emerged as the single country best able to maintain stability. Furthermore, and this point cannot be made more plainly, America wields its power more wisely and with greater judiciousness than any power ever has.
Michael Moore could only say that the U.S. has orphaned thousands of children with "taxpayer-funded terrorism." Moore does not seem to want or is able to see that America has done more for orphaned, poor, starving kids than any country ever has. He simply is not able to, or is unwilling to (although he is not actually stupid) understand the context in which many kids have been orphaned by American bombs. He would view the "Christmas bombing" of 1972, for instance, as a wholly terrorist act. He is unable to view something like in light of the need to keep Communism from spreading to South Vietnam. He places no blame on the mass murderers of history, saying only that they did what they did, and apparently were justified in doing so, because America "made them do it."
Many conservatives who dismiss them as "idiots" or, of course, "useful idiots", put down Moore and his mindset. The former term does not apply. The latter does. The Hollywood Senator in "The Manchurian Candidate" says Johnny Iselin (the McCarthy character) is not a buffoon, but rather a dangerous person. I look at Moore and those who think like him, and I am perplexed. How dangerous he is, I am not sure. There is no evidence that people who think like him are close to getting power. Jimmy Carter, in his later years, expressed views that were not far from Moore's, but he was unable to act on these instincts as President.
This is an important point. Power and the practical necessities of governmental politics make Moore's style of liberalism all-but impossible to practice in an official capacity. That is the good news. Carter had people like Andrew Young, who were "fellow travelers" of Moore six days of the week and twice on Sunday, but Young had to be fired. When liberals govern, they quickly learn that all the things they hated about the Establishment are essential. That is why conservatives govern better. They come in with open eyes and are not pre-disposed to hate but they now are in control of.
Conservatives also govern better because, in America, they view history as a beautiful story. What perplexes me is how liberals can see the same story and react with such disdain. We are near the end of a long history book that has attempted to come to grips with such questions. The study of anarchism, as embodied by Rousseau, Thoreau and Emma Goldman, is a powerful strain that will always run through society. Why it is powerful is beyond me. I can understand Nazism and Communism. They were pure ideologies carried to extremes. Their messages were aimed at populations that wanted to be told that they were better, were not to blame, the enemy had been identified and would be punished, and that government would solve all their problems. Hitler and Stalin believed that man would give up freedom for security. They both offered that.
But anarchism offers no practical solutions. Goldman thought a government run by anarchists would consist of volunteers who would do good deeds because human nature was inherently good. In some respects, this is part of the liberal mystique, and in a way it is sweet. It is dangerous, however, because it allows for such gullibility, and within the framework of politics and the two-party system, the liberals, frustrated and marginalized, have felt the need to create an enemy. Their enemy is conservatism. Seeing that the world is not and apparently never will be one big Peace Corps, they are now embittered anarchists, and hell hath no fury like an embittered anarchist scorned.
My efforts at dissecting liberalism are not meant to put liberalism down. I look at the overweight Moore, dispensing his vitriol at all that is dear to me, and I must reach down and find my Christian center to feel something other than hate for him. In the end, I can see that at some level he means well. There is no value in demonizing him. I suppose in trying to "understand" him I am involving myself in the moral relativism that I have tried to break down throughout history. But Moore is not a terrorist, and I cannot help but think about something former baseball manager Leo Durocher once said: "I might disagree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death you're right to say it."
The problem is that a lot of good Americans have died to defend Moore's right to speak, and he seems not to understand or appreciate it. When good Americans die for the right of foreigners to be free, Moore sees only darkness and deceit. He hides behind the Constitution. The Constitution may have been written just for that purpose, but I find it distasteful nevertheless.
When Moore laughed at people on the hi-jacked 9/11 planes and called them cowards for not fighting back, expressing horror that the terrorists had killed Democrats (the majority in New York) instead of, say, Republicans at the Mutual of Omaha building in Nebraska, he crossed the line. The author of "Stupid White Men" had become his title. For somebody to write a book with that title in a world kept safe precisely because white men are smart enough to create the technology that makes us powerful and safe is ridiculous.
Norman Mailer has become a pen pal of mine. He knows what a conservative I am but respects my honesty. I have been in communication with him about turning "Harlot's Ghost" into a screenplay. Mailer told me my desire for "empire" would take America on a terrible path, and that my theory that God has charged us with the task is "vanity." I replied that my view of empire is not the same as the British. My view that God has given us the mission is not vanity but responsibility, to be fused with humility and a hope to accomplish the task within "term limits" that do not leave the task open-ended.
I have found Mailer to be introspective and honest, too. He gets in trouble shooting from the hip, but I respect him. He said during the Iraq War that the destroyed World Trade Center was "more beautiful than the building was," that we were the "most hated nation on Earth," and that we fought the war because white males needed to win something after years of seeing blacks and Latinos dominate sports. When questioned on these comments, he demonstrated that he was being satirical. Mailer said Bush planned to make "China the Greece to our Rome." Not a bad idea, Norman.
Washington's Democrat Senator Patty Murray said that Osama bin Laden was popular because he built schools, roads, day care, infrastructure, and "made their lives better. We have not done that." Is there anything to say to that?
Harry Belafonte was such a victim of McCarthyism that he went on to become a multi-millionaire. He has used that status to rant against the right for years. He was shilling for terrorists and dictators as much in 2003 as he had been for Communists in the "good old days."
Ann Coulter described a psychiatrist's evaluation of the anarchist Ezra Pound, the anti-war protestor of World War II: "What is unquestionably the most outstanding feature of his personality is his profound, incredible, over-weaning narcissism." This seems to be a very simple explanation, yet the evaluation of Pound is so easily transferred to these Hollywood stars.
As the country prepared for war, celebrities described how their voices of dissent were being stifled. They described this on Entertainment Tonight, Sean Hannity's program, Leno and Letterman, and in any and all other forums of free expression. When the American Legion did not throw them a parade they acted as if being worshipped was their Constitutional right. They determined that sensible people disagreeing with them was tantamount to accusations on un-Americanism. Tim Robbins congratulated himself on his courage. Was Sean Penn allowing himself to be used by Saddam as a photo/op treason? Was Woody Harreslon talking about "American lies" unpatriotic?
The bad news is that unpatriotic liberals dominate the dominant media culture and all aspects of the education system. The good news is that this is changing. As Satchel Paige used to say, "Don’t look back, somethin' might be gainin' on ya." Well, conservatives are making their moves in the media, and there is no stopping us. Maybe, just maybe, God is on our side.
Our National Pastimes
According to legend, it started in a pasture in Cooperstown, New York in 1839. U.S. Army officer Abner Doubleday (later a Civil War hero), whose specialties were surveying, mapping and planning construction sites, apparently laid out a baseball diamond. The National Pastime was born. Later, the Doubleday story was refuted. Baseball came to America in bits and pieces, mostly emanating from the English sports of rounders and cricket, but the Hall of Fame was erected in Cooperstown anyway.
Union soldiers played baseball during the war. The first professional team was the Cincinnati Red Stockings, who went undefeated in 1869. The National League was formed in 1876, the American League in 1901.
Football started out as rugby, and in the late 19th Century became popularized under the "American rules" at East Coat colleges like Rutgers, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. The game was so violent that deaths piled up. The government had to enforce rules to make it safer.
Prior to World War I, professional baseball players were looked down upon by the upper classes. They were uneducated, chewed tobacco, drank heavily, consorted with gamblers and were not to be trusted with women. Christy Mathewson of the New York Giants was the first "role model" hero. An All-American from Bucknell, Matty was handsome, intelligent and upright. He was one of the greatest pitchers in history. He won 373 games for John McGraw's Giants, including three shutouts in the 1905 World Series against Connie Mack's Philadelphia A's. Mathewson was a tragic figure who joined the Army when World War I broke out, was exposed to mustard gas, and died from its effects a few years later.
The National League, known as the "senior circuit," was joined by the American League in 1901. In 1903 the first World Series was played between the Boston Pilgrims (later Red Sox) and the Pittsburgh Pirates. Boston surprised the baseball world by winning, but in 1904 McGraw refused to play his Giants against Mack's A's because the A.L. was a "busher league."
It was only 40 years after the Civil War when Ty Cobb entered the Major Leagues with Detroit in 1906. Cobb was the product of a wealthy Georgia family. His father was a state Senator. The father had gone on a business trip, but suspected Cobb's mother was having an affair. He snuck in through the bedroom window to catch her in the act, and was shot dead. The story was that she thought he was a burglar, but it was theorized that she was with another man, who murdered him, then covered it up with the burglar story. Cobb was devastated by the event. His psychological make-up was forever shaped not just by his idolized father's violent death, but the knowledge or suspicion that his mother had cheated on him, then killed him.
Cobb was met by enmity from the Northerners on the Tigers. He was described as "still fighting the Civil War," coming up from the South with a "chip on his shoulder." He was a violent racist, as was another star player of the late 19th Century, Cap Anson. Cobb was a remarkable player, though. He hit .367 lifetime with over 4,000 hits, revolutionizing the game. His violent temper, racism, and murderous rages, however, forever stained his legacy. Cobb may have been an intellectual genius, however. He became a manipulator of the stock market on a par with Joseph P. Kennedy, making millions when the country was in Depression. He never found happiness or peace, dying alone and unloved.
In 1912, the Boston Red Sox were led by a dashing young superpitcher named "Smoky Joe" Wood, who won over 30 games. Wood bested Mathewson in game seven of the World Series. The Mayor of Boston attached himself to the Red Sox, to his great political benefit. His nickname was "Honey Fitz". He was John Kennedy's grandfather on his mother's side.
Also in 1912, an American Indian named Jim Thorpe swept the pentathlon (today this would be the decathlon) at the Stockholm Olympics. King Gustav of Sweden told him he was the greatest athlete in the world.
"Thanks, King," said Thorpe.
At that same Olympics, a young Army officer, George Patton failed to medal in the modern pentathlon, which was a different event involving the firing of guns.
When America entered World War I, many baseball players served in the Army. The game was expected to revitalize morale after the war ended in 1918. Instead, it was embroiled in the worst controversy in its history.
Charles Comiskey was the tight-fisted owner of the World Champion Chicago White Sox. He cheated his players out of bonuses and paid them the minimum, even though the White Sox had a number of star performers. Eight White Sox players were approached by gamblers associated with a million-dollar bookie named Arnold Rothstein, agreeing to "throw" the 1919 World Series against the underdog Cincinnati Reds. After losing the Series, the "fix" was discovered. The players were charged. In 1920, they were all acquitted, and expected to go back to their team, which was at the time in first place again. But the new Commissioner of Baseball, Kennesaw Mountain Landis, banned them from the game for life on the grounds that the game could not afford a whiff of scandal. One of the banned players was "Shoeless Joe" Jackson, an ignorant South Carolina farmboy who was said to be too dim to have understood the concept of "throwing" the Series. Jackson got his nickname because as a boy he supposedly played without shoes, but the legend of his lack of intelligence was exaggerated. Jackson knew about the gamblers, but did not report it. He played hard, obviously not trying to lose. His ban from the game is steeped in tragedy and legend. Today many lobby that he should be post-humously admitted to the Hall of Fame. I vote that Jackson should be in.
The game was really saved by Babe Ruth, who was traded by the Red Sox to the Yankees prior to the 1920 season. Ruth had grown up in a bar in Baltimore, where his father was the saloonkeeper. He was an incorrigible youth, sent to an orphanage, where he learned to play baseball. He was the best left-handed pitcher in baseball with the Red Sox, who he led to two World Championships. Boston owner Harry Frazee, in order to finance a Broadway play called "No, No Nanette", sold Ruth along with several stars to the Yankees, who in their previous history had been an average team. Ruth transformed them into the greatest juggernaut in sports history. The Red Sox have never won a World Series since. This fact has been attributed by Beantowners to the "Curse of Babe Ruth."
Baseball, seeing the excitement created by Ruth's home run hitting, "juiced" the ball prior to 1920 and outlawed spitballs. During the Roaring '20s, Ruth was bigger than life. Yankee Stadium, the "House That Ruth Built," was erected. Ruth set career and single-season home run records. To this day he is arguably considered the greatest baseball player and athlete of all time. This subjective title is tempered by his drinking, his overweight physique, the fact that he did not compete against black players, and the sleek athleticism of later stars like Willie Mays and Barry Bonds. But Ruth still holds the "title" for two reasons. For one, his status as a star pitcher before becoming a slugger on the greatest teams in baseball cannot be matched. While others have broken his records, nobody ever stood as far above their contemporary competition as Ruth did. He revolutionized his sport more thoroughly than any athlete.
After World War I, football became a very popular sport, too. Previously, it had been relegated to the Ivy League crowd, but it became all the rage across the country. Doughboys who started college in their 20s took to the game in order to get their aggressions out. The first great team was the University of California Golden Bears, known as the "Wonder Teams".
Notre Dame University, a tiny Catholic school in South Bend, Indiana, had put their name on the map in 1913 when their end, Knute Rockne, devised a new play called the forward pass, which was used to defeat the mighty Army Cadets.
In the 1920s, Notre Dame began to travel about the country, taking on a barnstorming quality. Catholics flocked to their games and took to the team as their own. They became known as "Subway Alumni." Notre Dame traveled to Los Angeles to play Stanford in Pasadena's new Rose Bowl, and the University of Southern California in the new L.A. Memorial Coliseum. Following the USC game, a USC student manager named Gwynn Wilson asked coach Knute Rockne if he would like to set up a series home-and-home games with Southern Cal. Rockne said that he was taking a lot of heat from the Notre Dame administration for traveling so much, which took away from the players' school work. Wilson then went to Rockne's wife and asked her how she felt about it. Mrs. Rockne thoroughly enjoyed the California weather and shopping on Beverly Hills' trendy Rodeo Drive. She told Wilson she would insist on making the series a regular thing. When informed of his wife's desires, Rockne, who knew who the boss in his family was, agreed to the series. Thus, the USC-Notre Dame intersectional rivalry was born. The games were sellouts that drew national interest, and turned football into the popular sport that it is today.
University of Illinois running back Harold "Red" Grange thrilled fans with his exploits. His nickname was the "Galloping Ghost". He was signed to play professionally in the new National Football League, and drew capacity crowds to games in Chicago's Soldier Field, thus ensuring the success of the NFL.
Blacks were not allowed to play professional sports, but on the West Coast they played on integrated high school and college teams. Southern Cal's first All-American football player in the 1920s was black. Baseball's Negro Leagues produced some star performers, namely Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson and "Cool Papa" Bell, who was said to be so fast he could "turn the switch and be in bed before the lights went out." Over the years, baseball has attempted to create various "all-time all-star teams" and anoint "greatest player" titles to various players. As Negro League lore became more and more known, it has become commonly understood that some of the Negro League stars were better than their white Major League counterparts. All-time all-star teams that once included catchers like Bill Dickey, Mickey Cochrane and Johnny Bench now replace these players with the likes of Gibson, a home run slugger who, if he had played in the big leagues, would have challenged Ruth's home run records. It is a worthy argument that all-time pitching staffs that include Walter "Big Train" Johnson of the Washington Senators could substitute him for Paige, who gave us homilies like "never eat fried foods, it stirs up the blood."
The Negro League players barnstormed in the Winter, occasionally playing Major League all-star teams even up (or better). In the 1930s they traveled to Latin America. Tin pot dictators, eager to distract the masses from their repressive regimes, created baseball teams to entertain the people. The reason baseball is so popular in Latin America is because of the Negro League stars who brought the game there.
Sports and politics mixed when the Olympics were held in Berlin in 1936. The Germans used the world stage to display the facade of clean streets, a crimeless society, and the myth of Aryan physical supremacy. Adolph Hitler's display was almost successful, as German athletes performed remarkably. The image was broken up when African-American track star Jesse Owens of Ohio State dominated the sprint events.
German-U.S. sports rivalry preceded the war in boxing, too, where Max Schmelling defeated another African-American, Joe Louis. Many white Americans had rooted for the German over Louis, but when they fought a re-match, the Germans had begun aggressive military moves in preparation for invasion of Eastern Europe. Americans now backed Louis, a major turning point in race relations. When Louis knocked Schmelling to the canvas, he became a national hero and a god to his people.
Baseball star Lefty O'Doul had led barnstorming teams to Japan in the 1930s, where crowds of fans who took to the game received him as a star. Crowds yelled "Bonsai" while watching O'Doul and his mate's display their considerable skills. After World War II, O'Doul returned to U.S.-occupied Japan, where the citizenry was depressed by the experience of defeat in the war. His baseball exhibitions were a major part of reviving morale in Japan as the country picked itself up and became a member of the family of nations again. Brooklyn Dodger owner Walter O'Malley and others took teams to Tokyo to play exhibitions. The game became as popular in Japan as it is in America.
When World War II broke out, many Major League stars joined the Armed Forces. The most prominent of these was Ted Williams, a Southern Californian who had joined the Red Sox, hit .406 in 1941, and was considered the equal of Ruth as a hitter. Williams joined the Marines and became a fighter plot. After the war, he returned to baseball, winning Triple Crowns and MVP awards. When Korea broke out, he went back to the Marines, where he was John Glenn's wingman. Williams was a conservative Republican who made his opinions known, causing enmity among the liberal Kennedytites in the Boston media. His heroics, when compared to the liberal lies of his detractors, speak for themselves.
After Pearl Harbor, the Rose Bowl was moved to North Carolina. The Major Leagues debated shutting the game down. President Roosevelt urged them to keep playing for the sake of American morale. Joe DiMaggio was a superstar center fielder for the Yankees. Like Williams, he was a California native, and he became an enormous hero to Italian-Americans, who were perceived as being either mobsters or Mussolini Fascists. DiMaggio's hero status was protected by the New York media, but unlike the hero Williams he was closer to the Italian stereotype than his fans would have wanted to know. DiMaggio regularly hung out with New York Mafiosi.
Williams and DiMaggio represented an enormous influx of talented athletes from California. Theories even made their way around that the warm weather and the oranges somehow created bigger, faster athletes. There may be some validity to it. California indeed was populated by more physically able humans than the rest of the world. Originally, only the strongest and most fit braved the cross-country trip to California, so their offspring tended to be more physically impressive than other places. The weather created a population of people who played sports and performed outdoor activities on a year-round basis. Hollywood brought a new generation of impressive physical specimens to the state. Over time, handsome men marrying and having children with beautiful women produced athletic children. Sports became a way of life on the West Coast.
Over the years, no other state has produced more athletes than California. In 1976, if the University of Southern California had been a country, they would have placed third in the medals count at the Montreal Olympics.
California also was a more tolerant place than the rest of the country. In the late 1930s, a black athlete named Jackie Robinson rose to prominence there. Robinson prepped at Muir High School in Pasadena, where he starred in baseball, basketball, football, track and was L.A. city tennis champion. He moved on to UCLA, a state school that in its short history was dominated by its prestigious cross-town rival, USC. Robinson and another black star, Kenny Washington, put UCLA on the map, defeating the Trojans in football for the first time. Robinson ran track and played baseball, too. When the war broke out, he became an officer. In an incident at a Georgia Army base that foreshadowed the Rosa Parks incident, Robinson refused to give up his seat on a bus, and was court-martialed. He stood up for himself and was acquitted. After the war, he played professionally in the Negro Leagues when he was chosen by Dodger president Branch Rickey to break the color barrier.
Other Negro Leaguers like Paige and Josh Gibson had been passed up because Rickey was looking for just the right kind of player and person to handle the rigorous challenge ahead. Robinson possessed all the criteria. He was a superior player, but he was also a college man and an Army officer; handsome, articulate and dignified, with a lovely wife and young family. Brooklyn, a true melting pot, was the perfect place for the "experiment" to take place. Robinson was told that he had to be "man enough not to fight back" against his combative instincts.
His first few years in the league were grueling and excruciating, but he continued to triumph. Fans booed, called him by the "n-word," and threw black cats on the field. Other teams razzed him, threw at him and spiked him. Robinson refrained from punching his foes, but used other methods; thrown elbows, upturned spikes, bunts down the first base line resulting in body blows to offending pitchers.
When an entire stadium turned on him, Dodger shortstop Pee Wee Reese, who hailed from Louisville, Kentucky, went to Robinson and put his arm around him. It was a beautiful gesture. Robinson was a great player who became the first black in the Hall of Fame. His integrity and leadership qualities on the famed "Boys of Summer" teams, embodied by Roger Kahn's book, allowed blacks to integrate into baseball and other sports. Had the Robinson experiment "failed," it could have pushed back integration for years.
Robinson was a Connecticut Republican who backed Richard Nixon, although he withdrew his support when Nixon failed to intervene to get Martin Luther King out of jail in 1960. His son had problems coping with the pressure of being an icon's child, and Jackie himself succumbed to a heart attack in 1972, long before his time.
Following Robinson, black and Hispanic players became not just allowed to play, but dominant among the hierarchy of stars. The last vestige of sports integration was college football. In the 1950s, USC traveled to Texas with an integrated team. Their black running back ran for over 200 yards in the first half, leading the Trojans to a victory. The final nail in the coffin of segregation occurred in 1970. USC went to play the University of Alabama at Legion Field. SC, the dominant college football power in the nation under John McKay, had a roster filled with black stars. Alabama under Bear Bryant was still all white. SC's black sophomore running back, Sam "Bam" Cunningham, ran for over 200 years and four touchdowns in a 42-21 victory. When the game was over, Bryant went to his friend McKay and asked if he could "borrow" Cunningham. He took Cunningham into the losing locker room, placed him in front of the 'Bama team, and announced, "Boys, this here's what a football player looks like."
The next day, legendary Los Angeles Times sports columnist Jim Murray wrote, "We ratified the Constitution yesterday and welcomed Alabama into the Union." Bryant quickly filled his roster with black football players. The rest of the South followed suit. Within a few short years, blacks commonly populated not just football rosters but every aspect of college life in Dixie, including the cheerleading squads.
The Olympics also were a forum for politics and social change. In 1924, the Games were held in Paris, signaling peace in Europe after World War I. In 1932, Los Angeles "introduced" itself to the world as the city of the future by hosting the Olympics. In 1936, Germany used the Games to showcase themselves, and in 1948 London demonstrated peace in Europe, again. In 1960, the U.S. hockey team, comprised of college players, defeated the Soviets, comprised of world class professionals, at Squaw Valley, California. That same same year, UCLA decathlon star Rafer Johnson defeated his Bruin teammate, C.K. Yang, along with a Soviet decathlete, in a thrilling competition in Rome. Tokyo used the 1964 Games to show that they were a trustworthy country again. Germany attempted to do the same in 1972. The Black September wing of the PLO put a crimp in those plans. Jimmy Carter pulled the U.S. out of the 1980 Soviet Olympics after the Russians invaded Afghanistan, and the U.S.S.R. retaliated by not sending a delegation to L.A. in 1984 (the most successful Olympics ever held). In the 1980 Winter Games held at Lake Placid, New York, the Americans, again consisting of untested collegians, defeated the Soviets, considered the best team in the world (professionals, all of NHL caliber) in what was dubbed the "miracle on ice." In 2008, Beijing, China will no doubt try to put a happy face on their withering Communism.
Baseball expanded to the West Coast in 1958 when the Dodgers and Giants took their ancient rivalry to Los Angeles and San Francisco. Basketball became highly popular in the 1960s, developing into an urban art form dominated by black athletes like Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson. Amazingly, in the 21st Century, the new superstars of basketball are no longer American blacks. The end of the Cold War has revealed a treasure trove of basketball wunderkinds from Croatia, Lithuania, Serbia and other Eastern European nations.
Television changed the face of sports, and cable television even more so. College basketball's Final Four has become one of the most wildly popular institutions in the world. There is so much money in professional sports now that the athletes are the new economic titans of a gilded age. Gambling in Las Vegas and on the Internet has added a startling dimension to sports popularity. Even college baseball, once a lazy weekend activity for true fans, features its popular College World Series showcased on ESPN.
The Super Bowl is now a worldwide event. American sports have captivated every corner of the globe. In many ways, the charisma of American athletes, teams and their personas - colors, logo, symbols - have cemented the United States as the most influential of all nations.
American superstars like Barry Bonds, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Joe Montana are household names everywhere. It is not uncommon to go into a bar in Germany and hear Germans argue the relative merits of the Packers vs. the Cowboys. Sports has integrated society, made millionaires out of peasants, created rivalries, city pride, and identity, and transformed the landscape of entertainment.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism