Commenter Archive

Comments by Joe NS

On “Real and Unreal Threats from Iran

@ narciso:

It may in fact be too big a risk. I'm just musing. But "letting Iran get the bomb," as you write, is the sticky point, isn't it? Obama's not going to stop them, so I guess that's equivalent to "letting" them get it on our part. So giving them that impression, as Obama clearly is, is certainly a spur to their finishing the thing before January, 2013. They're not afraid of us, at least not now.

No, the only people who will or will not do any "letting," on their (the Iranians') timetable, seem to be the Israelis. I don't envy them their choice, sort of like Travis and Bowie and Crockett at the Alamo. In that regard, Colin, I am much more in agreement with Sully than yourself. If the Iranians get the bomb, whether or not they use it, but especially if they do and regardless of its potency, it will likely amount to an end to the State of Israel over the not so long term.


@ Rex Caruthers:

I'm not a Satanist and the uppercase "H" is not a typo. Infer away.


@ Rex Caruthers:

Furthermore . . . what MacLeod said.


@ Rex Caruthers:

The Iranian people probably have a better sense of just how mad the mad mullahs really are. Most of them (the people), I trust, are not committed "Twelvers" and might be expected to decline the honor of incineration in aid of hastening the reappearance of the Twelfth Imam. That's all. Their judgment of the danger of Iran's having a bomb is critical, however. That they have the ability to dislodge the old men in Qom if sufficiently motivated I have few doubts.

As to who is "He," please.


@ narciso:

. . . but the point is not having to go there . . .

Who is "having to go" and where is "there" need clarification. Depending on the answers, yes, that would be the point.


Long ago, at Olde Contentions I advanced the proposition that Iran's obtaining the bomb was certainly a necessary and possibly a sufficient condition for the Iranian people to finally unite in overthrowing the mullahs. I recall that to the extent that anyone responded to my suggestion it was mainly to ridicule it. I haven't spoken of it since, but sometimes I wonder, given how crafty He can be, if I wasn't on to something. It's always in the last place you think to look that the key is found, isn't it?

Laugh away.


@ CK MacLeod:

Sheer gas-baggery! this "patrick" writes a detailed comment, with supporting documentation, and without responding to anything save by a logical quibble, which you bungle anyway, "patrick" is "out of his mind." This was a simple practcal question: Was McCarthy wrong? Was he mostly wrong? Was he right? Was he mostly right? That's all. You respond with windy declamation. The matter is elevated to a histrionic level: the survival of democracy in America. The surest sign of a bankrupt argument, one based in sentiment and deliberate ignorance of fact. You are sprinting for the goal and you don't even have a ball in your hands, just air. Get off the soapbox for a second and answer the question I put to you: Did those accused have the right to decline to answer the question of their communist party membership or sympathies and keep their government jobs? As a practical matter, that was all that was going on.

But of course answering the questions honestly would have thrown a whole different light on the matter. All these "progressives" and their causes might appear to be less than wholesome when seen to be in the service of a foreign power. Who tore the country apart over the refusal to answer the questions or, when they did answer them, to lie? It was the Left, not McCarthy. The Left and their abettors screamed at the top of their lungs that the question couldn't even be asked, that to ask it was to usher in Fascism, which conveniently made any answers irrelevant. Of course they would react that way. They knew the extent of the questionable activities of a great many people in government from the 1930s onward, some of whom had changed their minds about communism, true, but who wanted to reserve the right to protect others who had not. They screamed and screamed and created some smokescreen called "McCarthyism" to direct the attention elsewhere, anywhere but at them. They're still screaming incontinently, about a vicious "McCarthyism" that never was. It's their handy brain-dead, all-purpose mode of deflecting attention from the Left's multifarious mendacities and out-and-out treasons since 1917.

Of course, it was a rolling smokescreen. At first, McCarthy and Nixon and HUAC and, eventually, Truman, were simple wrong if not malevolent. Hiss had been framed. The Rosenbergs had been railroaded. Harry Dexter White and Lauchlin Currie and Owen Lattimore were completely loyal Americans. The CPUSA were just liberals in a hurry. After while those confabulations became impossible to sustain, so the smokescreen moved on. Hiss et al. weren't that important, a ridiculous assertion, but any old iron will do when you're desperately trying to change the subject. Espionage? Big deal and ho-hum. All's well that ends well. Notice how far we've come from the simple question of whether McCarthy was right. That's the purpose of a smokescreen, after all. Finally, 50 or so years later, after the treasons of the CPUSA and the revelation of 300 or so Soviet agents—they're were supposedly only a few bad apples—come to light via Venona and the collapse of the USSR, well now, the smoke wavers again: It was all so long ago. Who cares? What's really important was Joe McCarthy and "McCarthyism," alá Jon Lovitz, "Yeah, that's the ticket."


@ Rex Caruthers:

Yes, I mean that Stalin. Is there another one? And forget the Jews. We had our own reasons for spying on the Nazis. They had their reasons for spying on us. The equivalence you focus on is simple-minded and purely formal. Their reasons were not remotely our reasons in a lot of ways that matter. Your devil-may-care insouciance as to the question of which side of the conflict has the upper hand morally, as if the US and the USSR, the US and the Reich, were so many peas in a pod, and who can sort them out after all?—Well, it's puzzling, to say no more. Espionage has consequences, some of them lethal to one side or the other, so the sides would seem to matter, and the moral approbation we bestow on or withhold from one side would seem to matter even more. We're not talking about a novel here, Rex, where you may suspend disbelief and root for whomever you wish.


@ Rex Caruthers:

RCAR, your moral relativism is really getting out of hand. You need to get some sleep and clear your head. We're talking about Stalin's spies here, man. Would you be so complacently even-handed about all this if it were Hitler's spies in the 1930s? Oh well, we spy on the Nazis so it's all the same. Get real.


@ CK MacLeod:

Who said anything about McCarthy saving the world? Why would you make such a self-serving inference based on nothing above whatsoever?

I’m trying now to imagine what a world in which McCarthy and McCarthyism were 100% wrong would be like. . . . I guess that would have been a world in which the Soviet Union was more in the right than its propagandists ever claimed, yet had no sympathizers.

As a matter of simple logic this is an utter mess. What was McCarthy's contention? That some individuals in the Federal government were conscious agents of or were sympathetic to the USSR. That's called an existential affirmative. It's contradiction, i.e., that which would make him 100% wrong, is a universal negation: "There were no individuals in the government who worked on behalf of or were sympathetic to the USSR." Since that is patently false, its negation, by the rules of deductive logic, must be true. In other words, McCarthy was right. The point I was making is that he was more right than even he realized. But more pertinently, McCarthy's being 100% wrong in what's actually at issue here has nothing at all to do with the Soviet Union being in the right and having no sympathizers. You're getting at something there, but I can't make out what it is.

Secondly, you make a silly argument about a slippery slope from sympathizers to affiliates with a clear implication that absolutely everyone would be swept up in a wild chain of accusations. Hogwash! Read again:

McCarthy was not concerned w[ith] any citizen’s views, he was concerned with the views of those who could betray secrets or influence American foreign policy [emphasis supplied].

The interview with Howard Fast is illustrative. Howard Fast was a card-carrying communist, who worked for the government, who refused to admit it. So he lost his job. Are you saying that, not answering, he was entitled to keep it? That the government did not have good, prudential reasons for knowing the answer to that question? No one has a right to a government job, and Fast did not go to jail. William Philipp's, long-time editor of Partisan Review, and quite a lefty himself, was asked his opinion of the activities of HUAC. He said that he had no objections to writers, intellectuals, and filmmakers being communists or sympathetic to communism, yet, at the same time, he saw no reason why they should be excused for lying about it to a congressional committee. I think that that's just about right. McCarthy's entire argument was that some individuals who were or had been communists or communist sympathizers and were in a position to commit espionage or to influence American foreign policy so as to favor Soviet aims were also concealing those important and extremely relevant (in 1950) facts about themselves and their past political activities. Moreover, they were being assisted by others in government in concealing those activities. No one has a right to a government job regardless of his background, and no one has a right to lie about himself to keep a government job.

Finally, your remarks on the country surviving more or less intact are too complacent, I think. As it happens, Stalin got the bomb when he did because of espionage. When he did, 1949, is particularly relevant here because, in the opinion of many historians, without the bomb he would not have supported the North Korean invasion of the South in 1950, indeed he would have intervened to prevent it, a war that cost 38,000 American lives.

I think it obscene that there is even such a thing as the "McCarthy Era," as if the activities of that opportunistic and bumbling drunk were the most important thing going on then. It would be better to name it the "Hiss Era," after an elite traitor who was ferociously defended (for 40 years) even though he was as guilty as Judas, a man who may usefully stand for a whole lot of other people, in government and out, who were actively committed to the overthrow of the United States. McCarthy was a scapegoat. His accusations were turned back on him in an Orwellian fashion. McCarthy was the traitor! He betrayed American ideals! A bunch of hot air. Treason means something. Joe McCarthy certainly fell well short of the American ideal of a statesman, but he didn't commit treason. The people he was after did. It's truly grotesque.


All that follows is from comments of "patrick" at: Since "patrick" provides all necessary links supporting his argument, I don't think his identity is important. This is an attempt to reply to soap-box platitudinizing on the subject of Joe McCarthy with facts.

This kind of broadbrush outburst shows historical ignorance. It ties McCarthy to activities he had nothing to do with, and it relies on a discredited version of history that paints McCarthy as one who hunted for Communists and spies that didn't exist. That view has been dramatically disproven by the release of KGB files and the opening of spy documents (such as the Venona transcripts) that shows that American Communists actively assisted Soviet intelligence efforts in the United States and elsewhere. Senator Joe McCarthy confronted government officials engaging in a concealment of communist involvement, and uncovered an excessively lax security posture with regards to Communists in sensitive U.S. Government posts. We now know that Alger Hiss, a high level State Department official in the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, was indeed a Communist and a Soviet spy, and that the Venona files reveal several hundred Soviet agents in the US Govt, so the fears of anti-Communists like McCarthy were well-founded.

Arthur Herman, in his is new book, "Joseph McCarthy: Reexamining the Life and Legacy of America's Most Hated Senator,", goes some way in restoring balance to our views on McCarthy from the familar broad-brush phony treatment of him as a bogeyman. He says that the accuracy of McCarthy's charges "was no longer a matter of debate," that they are "now accepted as fact." And The New York Post’s Eric Fettmann has noted: “growing historical evidence underscores that, whatever his rhetorical and investigative excesses — and they were substantial — McCarthy was a lot closer to the truth about Communism than were his foes.”(1)

(1) (source:

Here is a more detailed examination of these points:

1. Were Communists in Government a real security threat? Was Soviet spying and influence a danger? Yes and Yes!
The Venona transcripts prove that many (perhaps in the hundreds) of Communists in the US Government were spies for Stalin's USSR. Alger Hiss, Klaus Fuchs, the Rosenbergs, which in the 1950s the Left claimed were being falsely accused, were indeed spies for the USSR and gave the atomic bomb and other deadly secrets to the USSR. Alger Hiss was the most senior traitor in the US Government since Benedict Arnold, yet the left defended him and defamed his accusers, for 50 years. The Venona transcripts identified over 300 spies for the USSR that infiltrated the US Government, over 100 of them named. In many cases, the Soviet spies were commited Communists.

Some examples: " The 1940s Democrat Congressman Sam Dickstein (D-NY) it has been discovered was a Soviet agent (codename was crook). ... Harold Glasser, a US Treasury Department official (code-named Ruble) who passed scores of key State Department and Treasury policy documents to Soviet intelligence."
"The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America's Traitors," (Regnery, 608 pp, $29.95).

2. But did McCarthy help to uncover real security risks to the US? The claims that the targets of McCarthy were innocents or the wrong ones is false.

"Any list of identified communists uncovered by McCarthy would have to include Lauchlin Currie, Gustavo Duran, Theodore Geiger, Mary Jane Keeney, Edward Posniak, Haldore Hanson, John Carter Vincent, Owen Lattimore, Edward Rothschild, Irving Peress, and Annie Lee Moss.
... McCarthy also exposed scores of others who were causing harm to national security from their posts in the State Department, the Pentagon. The McCarthy probe resulted in the removal or further investigation by the FBI of 77 employees and a complete revamping of the security system at the GPO. Of the 110 names that McCarthy gave the Tydings Committee to be investigated, 62 of them were employed by the State Department at the time of the hearings. The committee cleared everyone on McCarthy's list, but within a year the State Department started proceedings against 49 of the 62. By the end of 1954, 81 of those on McCarthy's list had left the government either by dismissal or resignation."

Take the case of Owen Lattimore: "Lattimore had been Roosevelt's key advisor on China policy. Yet Evans showed evidence from 5,000 pages of FBI files on him -- files released only a few years ago to the public, although the White House had access to them. However, evidence before the committee showed that Lattimore had supported Soviet policy at every turn, even declaring that the Stalin purge trials in Russia, "sound like democracy to me." With then-Vice President Henry Wallace in Russia, Lattimore compared concentration camps to the Tennessee Valley Authority, and later urged Washington to abandon China to communism and to withdraw from Japan and Korea."


"It was also during the mid-to-late 1940s that communist sympathizers in the State Department played a key role in the subjugation of mainland China by the Reds. "It is my judgment, and I was in the State Department at the time," said former Ambassador William D. Pawley, "that this whole fiasco, the loss of China and the subsequent difficulties with which the United States has been faced, was the result of mistaken policy of Dean Acheson, Phil Jessup, [Owen] Lattimore, John Carter Vincent, John Service, John Davies, [O.E.] Clubb, and others." Asked if he thought the mistaken policy was the result of "sincere mistakes of judgment," Pawley replied: "No, I don't."

3. The US State Department had been compromised by Communist infiltration in the 1940s, and McCarthy brought that serious problem to light:

"Communist infiltration of the State Department began in the 1930s. On September 2, 1939, former communist Whittaker Chambers provided Assistant Secretary of State Adolph Berle with the names and communist connections of two dozen spies in the government, including Alger Hiss. Berle took the information to President Roosevelt, but FDR laughed it off. Hiss moved rapidly up the State Department ladder and served as an adviser to Roosevelt at the disastrous 1945 Yalta Conference that paved the way for the Soviet conquest of Central and Eastern Europe. Hiss also functioned as secretary-general of the founding meeting of the United Nations in San Francisco, helped to draft the UN Charter, and later filled dozens of positions at the UN with American communists before he was publicly exposed as a Soviet spy by Whittaker Chambers in 1948.

The security problem at the State Department had worsened considerably in 1945 when a merger brought into State thousands of employees from such war agencies as the Office of Strategic Services, the Office of War Information, and the Foreign Economic Administration - all of which were riddled with members of the communist underground. J. Anthony Panuch, the State Department official charged with supervising the 1945 merger, told a Senate committee in 1953 that "the biggest single thing that contributed to the infiltration of the State Department was the merger of 1945. The effects of that are still being felt." In 1947, Secretary of State George Marshall and Under Secretary of State Dean Acheson engineered the firing of Panuch and the removal of every key member of his security staff.

In June 1947, a Senate Appropriations subcommittee addressed a secret memorandum to Marshall, calling to his attentiom a condition that developed and still flourishes in the State Department under the administration of Dean Acheson. It is evident that there is a deliberate, calculated program being carried out not only to protect communist personnel in high places but to reduce security and intelligence protection to a nullity. On file in the department is a copy of a preliminary report of the FBI on Soviet espionage activities in the United States which involves a large number of State Department employees, some in high official positions.

The memorandum listed the names of nine of these State Department officials and said that they were "only a few of the hundreds now employed in varying capacities who are protected and allowed to remain despite the fact that their presence is an obvious hazard to national security." On June 24, 1947, Assistant Secretary of State John Peurifoy notified the chairman of the Senate subcommittee that ten persons had been dismissed from the department, five of whom had been listed in the memorandum. But from June 1947 until McCarthy's Wheeling speech in February 1950, the State Department did not fire one person as a loyalty or security risk. In other branches of the government, however, more than 300 persons were discharged for loyalty reasons alone during the period from 1947 to 1951."

4. What about the abuses of "McCarthyism"? Communists in Government posed real security risks, and as Sen McCarthy pointed out: "There is no reason why men who chum with communists, who refuse to turn their backs on traitors, and who are consistently found at the time and place where disaster strikes America and success comes to international communism, should be given positions of power in government."

Here is what some Government workers who were faced with :


Mr. Cohn. Mr. Fast, are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist party?
Mr. Fast. I must refuse to answer that question, claiming my rights and protection under the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution of the United States.\9\

Is this an unfair question to ask a US Government employee? Was it an unfair question to ask during the Korean war, when American
soldiers were fighting and dying in a war against a Communist military from China, North Korea and the USSR? Well, some Communists seemed to think so, this is why Owen Lattimore invented the term "McCarthyism", to discredit and mischaracterize the demand for loyalty among US Government officials as an assualt on free speech. It was not. McCarthy was not concerned we any citizen's views, he was concerned with the views of those who could betray secrets or influence American foreign policy.

4. Didnt McCarthy go too far in attacking the Army? No! McCarthy was investigating real security lapses at Monmouth bases, that were not properly attended to by the Army. The US Government knew Soviet spy Julius Rosenberg had recruited friends to work for the Soviets, many of whom were apparentely at the Monmouth Army base, and so were the targets of questioning and investigation. But the Army was covering up rather than cleaning up this situtation. McCarthy's investigation into it went up against powers larger than he was in Eisenhower and the Defense Dept, and in alliance with Democrats, they used it to destroy him.

But after McCarthy was destroyed politically, even his enemies did know that security at Monmouth had been compromised:

"The Army Signal Corps installation at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey was one of the nation's most vital security posts, since the three research centers housed there were engaged in developing defensive devices designed to protect America from an atomic attack. Julius Rosenberg, who was executed in 1953 for selling U.S. atomic secrets to the Soviet Union, worked as an inspector at Fort Monmouth from 1940 to 1945 and maintained his Signal Corps contacts for at least another two years after that. From 1949 to 1953, the FBI had been warning the Army about security risks at Fort Monmouth, but the Army paid little attention to the reports of subversion until the McCarthy investigation began in 1953.

During 1953 and 1954, the McCarthy Committee, acting on reports of communist infiltration from civilian employees, Army officers, and enlisted personnel, heard 71 witnesses at executive sessions and 41 at open hearings. The Army responded by suspending or discharging 35 persons as security risks, but when these cases reached the Army Loyalty and Screening Board at the Pentagon, all but two of the suspected security risks were reinstated and given back pay. McCarthy demanded the names of the 20 civilians on the review board and, when he threatened to subpoena them, the Eisenhower Administration, at a meeting in Attorney General Herbert Brownell's office on January 21, 1954, began plotting to stop McCarthy's investigations once and for all.

Virtually all of those suspended were eventually restored to duty at Fort Monmouth and anti-McCarthyites have cited this as proof that McCarthy had failed once again to substantiate his allegations. But vindication of McCarthy came later, when the Army's top-secret operations at Fort Monmouth were quietly moved to Arizona. In his 1979 book With No Apologies, Senator Barry Goldwater explained the reason for the move:

Carl Hayden, who in January 1955 became chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee of the United States Senate, told me privately Monmouth had been moved because he and other members of the majority Democratic Party were convinced security at Monmouth had been penetrated. They didn't want to admit that McCarthy was right in his accusations. Their only alternative was to move the installation from New Jersey to a new location in Arizona.""

It is foolish indeed to pretend that the Army is immune to having spies in its ranks, even today.
Muslim Army Chaplain Yee, has just been charged with espionage in connection with his counseling of Gitmo Al Quaeda suspects:

5. Given the prevalence of hundreds of Commnist spies in Government, and the record of administration officials failing to maintain security, why the destructive attitude towards a man like Senator McCarthy who wanted to stop it? Joe McCarthy was hated and denounced not because he smeared innocent people, but because he identified guilty people, and because he exposed lapses in the security procedures in the US Government, embarrassing Government officials. McCarthy's own faults and excesses gave McCarthy's enemies in the executive branch the ammunition to bring him down.

"Professor Arthur Herman. His new book, "Joseph McCarthy: Reexamining the Life and Legacy of America's Most Hated Senator," ... shows the vindication of most of McCarthy's charges. Herman, who is also coordinator of the Smithsonian's Western Heritage Program, said that the accuracy of McCarthy's charges "was no longer a matter of debate," that they are "now accepted as fact." However, the term "McCarthyism" still remains in the language."
Asked whether McCarthy had understood all the forces arrayed against him, Herman said no, that McCarthy hadn't realized he'd be fighting against much of the Washington establishment. President Truman was fearful that exposures would reflect on key Democrat officials, he said, and big media and the academic world were very leftist, a heritage of the Depression and World War II. High government officials also feared investigations of their past appointments and associations with people who turned out to be communists or sympathizers."

See also Arthur Herman's book and the various reviews:

6. The real relevance of McCarthy to today: McCarthyism was a serious attempt to remove from positions of influence the advocates of communism, the willing supporters of communism and communists, and persons who would prevent the removal of those who give aid and comfort to the enemies of America. It's a serious question, because just as we faced it with Communism in the Cold War 1950s, we face it with Jihadism today.
An analogous situation would be if an al-Qaeda or Hezbollah sympathizers were working in the State Department or another sensitive agency of government today and keeping such affiliation secret. Joe McCarthy demonstrated the fact that Communists had no more of a right work in our government than Nazis or a Klansmen or affiliates to terrorist organizations. Do Jihadists? If today, someone 'plead the fifth' on whether they were a member of Al Quaeda, or Hamas, or an islamic Jihadist organization, would we let them remain in sensitive positions in the Government? No, we'd remove them and rightly so.

7. The real more balanced story on McCarthy is now out there, raised by Conservatives who are challenging Liberals to own up to "McCarthyism is evil" as a fable:

Ann Coulter's new book "Treaton" is based partly on the theme of rehabiliting McCarthy after 50 years of demonization:
"McCarthy was not tilting at windmills. Soviet spies in the government were not a figment of right-wing imaginations. He was tilting at an authentic Communist conspiracy that had been laughed off by the Democratic Party." -Ann Coulter, Treason.

Medford Evans said: "The restoration of McCarthy … is a necessary part of the restoration of America, for if we have not the national character to repent of the injustice we did him, nor in high places the intelligence to see that he was right, then it seems unlikely that we can or ought to survive."

In summary:
The strawman view of McCarthy and McCarthyism as 100% wrong and a dangerous force in American politics is 100% wrong. Describing McCarthyism as a "witchhunt" is also false - there really was a serious problem of Communist infiltration into the US Government, in particular the State Department, at that time. It posed real security risks and real spies (many of whom were never caught) operated for years in sensitive posts. The demonization of McCarthyism for 50 years has served mainly as a useful rhetorical cudgel by Liberals against Conservative attempts to point out connections between Liberals and far Leftists and to descredit anti-Communism itself. But that demonization is a fraud, as anyone who honestly looks at the real historical record can discover.


@ CK MacLeod:

The travesty is that so many who in other contexts like to style themselves the fiercest defenders of liberty, and who are always ready to lecture their fellow citizens on the sacrifices that freedom requires and the dangers to freedom in one or another piece of legislation or executive decision, are ready to join the mob or look the other way.

That's overwrought and overripe. In your original post you question those objecting to a placement of a mosque tolerably close to the former WTC on the grounds that being "suspicious" of a mosque there is really suspicion of a mosque anywhere. I don't know that that's true, but I'll stipulate to it arguendo.

What is so hair-raingly un-American about being suspicious of mosques? The original attack on the WTC in 1993 was conceived, planned, and run out of a mosque in Jersey City. I have read that there is reliable evidence that Ayman Al-Zawahiri came to America around the same time or slightly earlier on a fundraising tour and was received with hospitality at a dozen or so mosques across the country (narc probably knows more about the basis of this claim). Zawahiri had participated in the assassination of Sadat. His Egyptian Brotherhood was involved in the famous "Black-Hawk Down" incident in Somalia. In short, his convictions, aims, and intentions could have been no secret to any imam on earth. In the UK a couple of years ago a journalist got into a mosque with a hidden camera and taped a lot of blood-curdling stuff. When it was broadcast on BBC 4, the predictable storm of outrage and indignation ensued. Apologies were duly extended. But six months or so later, another journalist went back to the same mosque and taped the exact same crap all over again! The FBI is suspicious of mosques, for crying out loud. But American citizens are expected to be immune to this really understandable suspicion on pain of being declared un-American? And no, lest we go down the same dead end again, it doesn't much matter if such behavior occurs in only 1% of American mosques, because that 1% would represent about a 1oo,ooo-fold increase on the number of churches and synagogues in which murderous plots have been hatched. No one is talking about shuttering mosques. People are only suspicious of them. They not only have a right to be, based in fact, but they have my sympathies as well.

In the 1930s what was le mot de jour a gauche? Oh yes, "Communism is twentieth-century Americanism." The Communists were on the correct side of a lot of progressive causes, influential in civil rights and union building. Just working-joes pursuing the American dream. Yet Meany and Reuther and Lewis were very suspicious of them, because they sensed that there was a hidden agenda in the Communist Party USA, and they at last expelled them from the unions. Gee, how un-American. How heedless of—how does that go again?—oh yes, "of the sacrifices that freedom requires."

Turns out that 50 or 60 years later, after the wails of lamentations over the dirt done to Alger Hiss and the Mississippi of tears shed over the Rosenbergs, that all the while the CPUSA was funded and directed by the CPUSSR. Turns out that Browder and Foster and their ilk could not have an opinion on the weather unless it went across some KGB officer's desk for vetting first.

Everyone surely remembers old "Tail-Gunner Joe" McCarthy. He stood on the Capitol steps and announced that he had in his pocket a list of the names of 60 or was it 70 (narc will know) conscious agents of the "communist conspiracy" employed by the federal government. And surely everyone remembers the ridicule McCarthy received, the utter disbelief that he had in his pocket anything more than a shopping list, which may have been true since he only ever named about six people, all of whom, as it happened, turned out to be actual security risks if not outright spies. But McCarthy was still a lying right-wing fool. And I'll tell you why. McCarthy flat out lied about the threat, as we have learned over the course of 60 years toiling away at the Venona Papers, which have so far ferreted out the existence of, not 60 conscious agents, but 360! Of whom only about 140 (narc?) have been identified. Joe McCarthy, un-American liar.


@ George Jochnowitz:

Uh, George, the United States is no particular need to demonstrate to anybody that it's "a free country."

It's a political question, and the only freedom critically at issue here is the freedom to praise or criticize or merely accept the travesty.

On “Sarah Palin shouldn’t be pretending Glenn Beck is normal

@ CK MacLeod:

I haven't defended Beck "passionately" or "furiously," but I have defended him because, as I said, while not in a position to watch his current show regularly, I have seen it and know perfectly well that the true load of crap being shoveled here is the contention that this man is somehow different in any important way from what he ever was. He's "imperfect," "emotionally unstable," "cartoonish"–I've said all those things and more, based on my observation of the man. First question: Those characterizations amount to a furious defense? Second: Do you understand English?

The one concrete example offered by Rocketman, re Bush, I responded to in detail. He has not bothered to re-reply to that. That's ok. He's not obliged to. What's not okay is that, instead, he offers up some jumble about tire manufactures that is utterly incoherent. And I defy you to clarify it on the basis of the actual comment. If I don't understand Rocketman's latest illustration it's not because I didn't see the show.


@ CK MacLeod:

Colin, Rocketman's diatribe, to which I was responding, is completely non-specific as to time. The only concrete reference he makes is to Beck's criticism of Bush–perforce the only thing I responded to or could–as being a "progressive." I'm pretty sure that that particular jibe is not of recent, i.e., post-CNN, vintage. Moreover, has Glenn Beck–his style, his mannerisms–changed dramatically in transiting to Fox? He was okay but then went off the rails? I doubt it.


@ Rocketman:

"The fact that I do not in my present circumstances have access to Beck does not mean that I do not occasionally "catch" his show in other venues, at the local beach bar, for instance. A few years ago, when he was on CNN, I watched him with some regularity."

You're sprinting clownishly for the goal and you have no ball in your hands.

'Nuff said?


@ CK MacLeod:

The fact that I do not in my present circumstances have access to Beck does not mean that I do not occasionally "catch" his show in other venues, at the local beach bar, for instance. A few years ago, when he was on CNN, I watched him with some regularity.


@ Rocketman:

Come now, Das Kapital? How much may any man of flesh and blood address that slab of pernicious Hegelianism on a TV show? I'm afraid that simply listing the topics Beck addresses without supplying his opinions of them is inadequate. If they're intellectually threadbare–as I'm perfectly willing to admit in advance they might be–I don't have cable, so I couldn't say–but Glenn Beck is not running a Great Books seminar ala Mortimer Adler.

If Beck is unwilling or even unable to address the fine points of the labor theory of surplus value does that in itself require that he be ignored or scorned? Who the hell on earth understood Marx's sophomoric economics besides Karl Marx?

As to the one substantive illustration you provide, I yield to no one in my high regard for George W. Bush. The iron integrity he exhibited in Iraq and as regards committing the nation to the absurd Kyoto Protocol must be praised to the skies. We should all be eternally grateful, in my opinion. But George Bush was first of all a Christian conservative, and he hearkened to the gospel call to enact the so-called "corporal works of mercy"–you know, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison–insofar as it is in one's power to do so; and lest we forget, GWB was President of the United States for eight years, which interregnum provided him with ample opportunity to act upon that particular commandment, as he did numerous times with regard to Federal aid to education, AIDS in Africa, and, with less conviction or sense, subsidies for senior-citizen purchases of medicines.

So Beck's criticism of Bush, as simple-minded as it undoubtedly is, might only be a clumsy reminder of another, preeminently Christian admonition: Apodite oun Kaisaros Kaiseri, "Render thou then to Caesar what is Caesar's," kai to theo tou theou "and to God what is God's." Bush did not always adroitly separate the responsibilities of the man from those of the office.

What I am urging is that Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, however, cartoonish and unsophisticated their policy prescriptions might be–and they are definitely not always so impaired–should not be contemned as if they were anything more than they ostensibly are: the product of cable television and AM talk radio rather than that of Charlie Rose or Alistair Cook. Their positions, however tendentiously proffered, may all be defended. The sometimes crazy uncle is still my uncle, and so I owe him at least an attempt to understand him that I do not owe, say, Barack Obama.


@ Rocketman:

More piling on Glenn Beck because he is not John Locke! What pathetic rubbish. Rocketman, as is depressingly routine, does not pause to provide us with a single instance of what exactly is so "wrong about so much history and its CONTEXT," that "it’s frightening." Boo hoo. Rocketman is frightened, poor lass. Of what, for God's sakes? And then to add the spectacular imbecility that children must be prevented from viewing Beck!!! As if that were a blow hot struck for freedom of inquiry, when it is the most mindless form of pointless censorship that can be imagined. Glenn Beck is not a purveyor of pornography that a responsible parent must guard against. What faux and repellant high-mindedness. What–may I say this?–preening crap.


@ Zoltan Newberry:

Zoltan, you Rapaholic, is that your work? It's got a good beat, Dick. You can dance to it. I give it a 10. Bravissimo!


One major reason the Federal Government wasn’t a “presence” in the “daily lives” of Americans up to the 1930s would be sheer technological limitations.

Not so fast. Newspapers were far more important in the 19th and early 20th centuries. In many communities two, three, and four or more papers appeared every day in multiple editions, which were avidly read, debated, and disseminated (Toqueville remarks on that somewhere). The telegraph started linking the nation in the late 1840s. The country had all the technology and media it needed to learn about doings in DC had there been one-one-thousandth going on there that impacted them, that could take their money or by changing a law or introducing a regulation put them out of business and out of work.

As to "presence" versus "influence," same practical diff. I don't care which you use. But the use to which you're putting influence here is too broad to be of much value in that it is hard to see how it distinguishes Kansas sodbusters from us or any other American who has ever lived since colonial times with respect to the government. We are all "influenced" by government in this thoroughly trivial way: the Federal government is a fact, like the height of the Empire State Building. But in a million ways never dreamed of before the 1930s, Americans are living with the demanding presence of federal rules and regulations if only in the mountains of paperwork that businesses of every stripe must fill out sometimes monthly, sometimes weekly, sometimes even daily under penalty of fine.


@ CK MacLeod:

[I]it takes a stupendous and all-embracing amnesia to miss the fact that from, say 1880 to 1920, or from 1850 to 2010, unimaginably vast simultaneous and interconnected transformations in all social, cultural, political, and economic realms, vastly disturbing as well as vastly expansive and innovative, were occurring. The new demands on inherited institutions of self-government were equally vast.

That is an expectoration of fact-free hand waving that is in some opaque manner meant to illustrate the necessity of so-called progressive political innovations. When in history do we witness the absence of those tiresome vastnesses? From the founding to the Civil War an entire continent was settled. Roads were built, canals dug, and the railroads spread to every town in America east of the Mississippi. By the 1880s at the latest the US had surpassed Britain in industrial might. The electrical grid and gas-lines were being laid down. From the cotton gin to the telephone, inventions cascaded and were quickly put to use on a mass scale. Overseas trade was exploding, with American manufactures traveling everywhere. Yet the Federal government remained, until the 1930s, a rather distant presence in American society and American business. The country also had several times experienced definite ups and downs. Judged by the drop in economic activity alone, the depression of the 1870s was worse than that of the 1930s. Neither FDR nor a New Deal was required to remedy matters.


@ CK MacLeod:

So sorry about the misspellings. I can't explain them, since I've correctly spelled "MacLeod" dozens of times before.

No particular event of the ones I cited constituted an act of despotism, true. But that's part of the frog-in-hot-water problem the country faces. Jefferson spoke of a long train of usurpations. But were they even that, and were They–a constitutional Crown-in-Parliament government–intending despotism? They certainly didn't think so. The colonies had non-voting representatives in Parliament (Benjamin Franklin was one, I think). George III was not remotely like Louis XIV or even Fredrick Wilhelm IV. There are more people residing in American territories today (I'm one of them) than inhabited all of British North America in 1776, excluding the Indians, but we have no more than non-voting representatives in Congress. We do not consider ourselves despotically treated; nor are we in any way that pertains to our status as residents of territories. It cannot be solely the fact of this or that level of consensual involvement with "abuses and usurpations" that determines the reality of the danger perceived by Glenn Beck (or myself) but their nature and if they do in fact demonstrate a clear and unsettling trend.

By the way, although the court acted in 1913, didn't the actual legislating of the income tax wait until 1916? Nor, in that regard, do I think that the absolutely unforeseen, unannounced, unanticipated (then), and pervasive expansions of the income tax, along with that nasty innovation called withholding, are really addressed by saying, matter-of-factly, "Oh well, it was legally passed, so what's your beef?"


@ bob:

How is it you missed this?:

Despotism introduced by a sequence of governmental self-aggrandizements rather than in one fell, tyrannical swoop is still objectively despotic to those in its path.

I've as much as admitted that what we are witnessing is not textbook dictatorship. So what is the purpose of your series of rhetorical questions? To refute a claim that's not been made? You're pushing on a rope here.

Of course one must vote, rally, and so on. The substance of the post seems to me to be the inadequacies or failings or outright stupidities of Glenn Beck, as well as Sarah Palin for applauding him. But Beck's approach to persuasion is just another way of going about the politics of the matter, one suited to a mass audience.

I've no idea really what the hell "high horse" you're babbling about, unless seeing the issue in constitutional terms reflexively qualifies as overreaching. I don't think so. Whether the Federal government has presumptive or derived rights to intervene so often and so massively–and with coercive power, mind you–in decisions better addressed by the States or, God forgive me for bringing this up, by private citizens, is a constitutional matter. The Supreme Court of the US had to be invoked to license several of the interventions I mentioned, so there's that; with persistent effort, it could be brought to reconsider them. In fact, with health care and the proposed EPA regulations intended to intimidate Congress into legislating a radical energy policy, it may very well come to that. So, I'll stick to my high horse, thank you. You're welcome to rock to and fro on yours.