I’ve been seeing a lot of statements by politicians of late – naturally – and one thing is striking me: the inability of people in politics to just admit when they don’t know things. All of them appear to be laboring under the impression that they have to have a pat answer to all questions – and as it is impossible for them to do that, they hem and haw around and end up saying things which are wrong and/or stupid.
To be sure, a wise politician will prepare him or herself with answers for likely questions – for GOPers this will be genuine MSM gotcha questions on social issues designed to feed into the overall Progressive campaign themes. But one cannot know everything – it just isn’t possible. And, of course, when a GOPer heads to a conservative or libertarian media outfit, he or she better be prepared for all sorts of smart, penetrating questions – a bit of study beforehand is wise. But even then, you’re still not necessarily going to have an answer for every question. I’m pretty well informed on matters of foreign policy but I, for instance, didn’t know who was in command of Iran’s al Quds force until I read about the Trump/Hewitt fracas over the issue (which seems to be a bit blown out of proportion by anti-Trump forces). Trump didn’t know either – and he should have just admitted not knowing and moved on (one thing about an admission of ignorance is that whatever series of questions your interviewer was planning for that subject are now wastebasket material). If I were running for office and someone leaped out and asked me a question I didn’t have a good answer to, I’d just say: “you know, that is a good question and I haven’t looked into the details of that matter – next time we talk, I’ll have something to say on it. Next question?”. I’d rather take a bit of heat for saying I don’t know something – when I don’t know about it – than take even worse heat by giving an ignorant answer, or getting huffy about the question, itself; or worst of all, lying about things and then getting called out on the lies later.
The main point I’m making here is that honesty is really the best policy. Especially in politics. This might seem counter-intuitive because, well, politicians tend to be people who spread enough bull to fertilize the Sinai. But the reality is that no matter how good a lie seems to be, it never works out in the long run. Well, strictly speaking, it never works out in the long run if you’re the sort of person who cares about the country and our people – those politicians who are just relentlessly on the make find that lies work well, in a sense. But for those who are trying to do something worthwhile, never fall into the trap of thinking that anything other than truth will work. Even if it results in you getting crushed this time around, it merely sets the stage for your ultimate triumph (or the triumph of your ideals, if you don’t get a second chance) – if a politician just tells the truth then in the long run that politician will be perceived as the best person, especially in contrast to the lying opponents who used lies to beat you at the previous election.
Level with the people. Tell them what is on your mind. Admit it when you don’t have the answer nailed down at the moment. Give a precise set of actions you will take once in office. Think about the candidate who has spent the whole campaign telling the truth – and then gets up in debate with the lying opponent: it will be a beautiful moment. “You just heard my opponent tell you a pretty story about what he/she will do – but it is just a fairy tale. It isn’t true.”. It just crushes the life out of someone who lies when someone who is known to be a truth-teller points out the Emperor has no clothes. It has happened before – when Reagan did his “there you go again” in the debate with Carter, that was Reagan saying, “it is just a fairy tale”. Here, take a look:
THE PRESIDENT. As long as there’s a Democratic President in the White House, we will have a strong and viable social security system, free of the threat of bankruptcy. Although Governor Reagan has changed his position lately, on four different occasions he has advocated making social security a voluntary system, which would, in effect, very quickly bankrupt it….These constant suggestions that the basic social security system should be changed does cause concern and consternation among the aged of our country. It’s obvious that we should have a commitment to them, that social security benefits should not be taxed, and that there would be no peremptory change in the standards by which social security payments are made to the retired people. We also need to continue to index the social security payments so that if inflation rises, the social security payments would rise a commensurate degree to let the buying power of the social security check continue intact.
In the past, the relationship between social security and Medicare has been very important to provide some modicum of aid for senior citizens in the retention of health benefits. Governor Reagan, as a matter of fact, began his political career campaigning around this Nation against Medicare. Now we have an opportunity to move toward national health insurance, with an emphasis on the prevention of disease; an emphasis on outpatient care, not inpatient care; an emphasis on hospital cost containment to hold down the cost of hospital care for those who are ill; an emphasis on catastrophic health insurance, so that if a family is threatened with being wiped out economically because of a very high medical bill, then the insurance would help pay for it. These are the kind of elements of a national health insurance, important to the American people. Governor Reagan, again, typically is against such a proposal.
MR. SMITH. Governor.
GOVERNOR REAGAN. There you go again. [Laughter]
Carter did the normal Democrat thing – claim the Republican wants people to die in the streets and then promise a sack full of free stuff if you vote Democrat. But Reagan utterly destroyed it – just by saying, “there you go again”. It means, “you’re just spreading BS, Carter”, and instantly the millions of Americans watching the debate understood it – here was a hack politician promising a world he cannot possibly give, confronted with a truth-teller. Reagan went on to win in a landslide just a few days later. We’ve been hammered by lies for quite a long while now – and people are aware of the lies. In 2016, the Democrat candidate will have to defend the lies – he or she will have no choice as Democrats cannot run far away from Obama’s record (remember: $2,500 reduction in insurance premiums? Keep your plan if you like?)…and when Hillary or Biden or Sanders is up there in front of a massive national audience telling the American people how evil the Republican is and how much free stuff he or she is going to give you for voting Democrat…”there you go again”. But it will only work if the eventual GOP nominee has not spent the campaign hedging and hemming and hawing and trying to triangulate himself into favorable coverage for a news cycle. Telling the truth can make you terribly unpopular at times – you have to endure that heat; embrace it; proclaim how proud you are to be condemned for speaking the truth…and just wait for your moment to point out that the other guy is full of nonsense from start to finish.
Speaking of being honest, here’s a fantastic summary from the Washington Post:
Syria has become the graveyard of U.S. credibility. The chemical weapons “red line.” “The tide of war is receding.” “Don’t do stupid [stuff].” These are global punch lines. “The analogy we use around here sometimes,” said Obama of the Islamic State, “and I think is accurate, is if a JV team puts on Lakers uniforms, that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.” Now the goal to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State looks unachievable with the current strategy and resources. “The time has come for President Assad to step aside,” said Obama in 2011. Yet Assad will likely outlast Obama in power.
What explains Obama’s high tolerance for humiliation and mass atrocities in Syria? The Syrian regime is Iran’s proxy, propped up by billions of dollars each year. And Obama wanted nothing to interfere with the prospects for a nuclear deal with Iran. He was, as Hof has said, “reluctant to offend the Iranians at this critical juncture.” So the effective concession of Syria as an Iranian zone of influence is just one more cost of the president’s legacy nuclear agreement.
Never mind that Iran will now have tens of billions of unfrozen assets to strengthen Assad’s struggling military. And never mind that Assad’s atrocities are one of the main recruiting tools for the Islamic State and other Sunni radicals. All of which is likely to extend a war that no one can win, which has incubated regional and global threats — and thrown a small body in a red T-shirt against a distant shore.
And Obama could just tell us that – tell us that he sees Iranian dominance as a net-benefit for the United States. But, he won’t do that – he won’t level with us. Instead, he dances around it…of course, he does that because he knows that if he just admitted to his real policy, the American people would rise in fury against it. But no one really calls him on it – because if we’re not to make friends with Iran, then we are faced with the stark requirement of going to war with Iran; and even hawkish people don’t want that…and even if we did get a temporary national consensus to go to war, as soon as things got rough, a lot of hawks would head for the hills and claim they never even heard about a war.
Whatever policy a person wants, let’s have it – but let us be honest about it.
But no one really calls him on it –
No one calls him out on anything. Obama lies every time he speaks. If only the GOP controlled the House and Senate so they had a platform for which to challenge Obama.
As a direct result of the ineffective political class, particularly the infuriating complacency of Boehner and McConnell, the only POTUS candidates I am currently considering are Trump, Carson, Fiorina, & Cruz. I believe the rest of the field, including Rubio, will simply be go along to get along politicians and this country can not afford that any more.
Jonah Goldberg has an article about Trump in the Sept. 4 online National Review. It makes some interesting points, but is basically a commentary on the fan-club adulation of Trump in spite of his well-publicized record. From the article:
Conservatives have spent more than 60 years arguing that ideas and character matter. That is the conservative movement I joined and dedicated my professional life to. And now, in a moment of passion, many of my comrades-in-arms are throwing it all away in a fit of pique. Because “Trump fights!”
Yes, I know Trump has declared himself pro-life. Good for him — and congratulations to the pro-life movement for making that the price of admission. But I’m at a total loss to understand why serious pro-lifers take him at his word. He’s been all over the place on Planned Parenthood, and when asked who he’d like to put on the Supreme Court, he named his pro-choice-extremist sister.
Ann Coulter wrote of Newt in 2011: “If all you want is to lob rhetorical bombs at Obama and then lose, Newt Gingrich — like recent favorite Donald Trump — is your candidate. But if you want to save the country, Newt’s not your guy.” Now Ann leads a chorus of people claiming that Trump is our only savior. Has Trump changed, or have Ann and her followers? Is there a serious argument behind the new thinking, or is it “because he fights!”?
It is entirely possible that conservatives sweat the details of tax policy too much. Once in office, a president must deal with political realities that render the fine print of a campaign pamphlet as useful as a battle plan after the enemy is met. But in the last month, Trump has contemplated a flat tax, the fair tax, maintaining the current progressive tax system, a carried-interest tax, a wealth tax, and doing nothing. His fans respond, “That shows he’s a pragmatist!”
No. It shows that he has absolutely no ideological guardrails whatsoever. Ronald Reagan once said, “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.” Trump is close to the reverse. He’s a mouth at the wrong end of an alimentary canal spewing crap with no sense of responsibility.
In his embarrassing interview with Hugh Hewitt last night, Trump revealed he knows less than most halfway-decent D.C. interns about foreign policy. Twitter lit up with responses about how it doesn’t matter and how it was a gotcha interview. They think that Trump’s claim that he’ll just go find a Douglas MacArthur to fix the problem is brilliant. Well, I’m all in favor of finding a Douglas MacArthur, but if you don’t know anything about foreign policy, the interview process will be a complete disaster. Yes, Reagan delegated. But he knew enough to know to whom to delegate.
If you want a really good sense of the damage Donald Trump is doing to conservatism, consider the fact that for the last five years no issue has united the Right more than opposition to Obamacare. Opposition to socialized medicine in general has been a core tenet of American conservatism from Day One. Yet, when Republicans were told that Donald Trump favors single-payer health care, support for single-payer health care jumped from 16 percent to 44 percent.
I’ve written a lot about my problems with populism. One of my favorite illustrations of why the populist mindset is dangerous and anti-intellectual comes from William Jennings Bryan. “The people of Nebraska are for free silver and I am for free silver,” Bryan announced. “I will look up the arguments later.” My view of conservatism holds that if free silver is a bad idea, it’s still a bad idea even if the people of Nebraska are for it. But Trumpism flips this on its head. The conservatives of Nebraska and elsewhere should be against single-payer health care, even if Donald Trump is for it. What we are seeing is the corrupting of conservatives.
Trump’s assaults on the press have only one standard: whether the journalist in question is favorable to Trump or not. If a journalist praises him, that journalist is “terrific.” If the journalist is critical of Trump he is a “loser” (or, in my case, a loser who can’t buy pants). Not surprisingly, Hugh Hewitt is now “third rate” because he made Trump look bad. I’m no fan of Arianna Huffington or Gail Collins, but calling them “dogs” because they criticized you is not a serious ideological or intellectual retort. (It’s not even clever.) I think Trump did insinuate that Megyn Kelly was menstruating during the debate. He denies it. Fine. But what in the world about his past would lead someone to give him the benefit of the doubt? This is the same man who said, “You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”
“….it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass…” Not exactly words I would like to see in a biography of a former (or sitting) president of the United States, but it appears that some have no problem with this. Maybe in our upside-down inside-out world where all the rules have been thrown out the window (Congress made irrelevant as a president, and/or five unelected presidential appointees, make laws, etc.) it is considered progress to have a president openly talk on television about being fellated (Trump) instead of denying it (Clinton).
Maybe that is the new standard of “honesty”.
He’s being honest in the sense that he’s not pretending to be something other than what he is – but I suspect he also hasn’t thought deeply about the matter. Clearly, he’s in tune with the frustration of the American people, but I get the sense that he just thinks highly of himself and thus believes he could do a better job than those who are in charge. But he isn’t guided by a world view – he’s a jumble of thoughts.
How many can name all of the signers of the Declaration of Independence? That is, all the great men who pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor to stand up and create a bold new nation?
My point is, there are great men who do not stand in the spotlight, whose contributions to the greatness of the nation are not always in the forefront of public awareness. I see Dr. Carson’s role as one of these heroes, not necessarily in the Oval Office but being just as important in his own way as a leader and lodestar for true Constitutional values.
My preference for president has been Walker, but I am starting to lean more toward Cruz. But there is not one person in the top fifteen in the race, aside from megalomaniac and tantrum-thrower Trump, I would not want in the government after the election, in one important role or another. It’s going to take the combined talents of a crew like this to turn the ship of state around before we are permanently grounded on the reefs of debt, lack of national security, erosion from within due to uncontrolled immigration and rampant divisiveness among Americans, a crippled economy, a growing Dependent Class, etc.
From a recent Michael Medved poll:
Donald Trump 25%
Ted Cruz 18%
Carly Fiorina 13%
Marco Rubio 10%
Ben Carson 9%
Scott Walker 5%
John Kasich 4%
Jeb Bush 2%
Chris Christie 1%
Rick Santorum 1%
Bobby Jindal 1%
Rick Perry 1%
Mike Huckabee 1%
Rand Paul 1%
George Pataki 0%
Jim Gilmore 0%
Lindsey Graham 0%
Keep in mind that Medved’s poll is probably limited to conservatives who read his online columns, so it does not represent the nation at large, or even Republicans at large. But this is why I see it as significant, because I think it is probably a better snapshot of true conservative support than many other polls. I confess to being stumped by the Trump phenomenon, understanding why people like listening to him “go after” the sacred cows of both the Left and the Right, but thinking of him as president?????? It baffles me.
I would support Cruz, Fiorina, Carson and Rubio before I supported Trump, but if it came down to Trump, I would have no problem voting for him. At this point, I could not care less if Trump is offensive. In fact good for him. Maybe it’s time people are offended. I am offended nearly everyday I wake up in this politically correct, Progressively governed nightmare of a country.
After the Hugh Hewitt interview, Donnie whined:
”Very low ratings radio host Hugh Hewitt asked me about Suleiman, Abu Bake al-Baghdad, Hassan Nasrallah and more – typical “gotcha” questions..”
One twitter response was:
”Hey Donald, you misspelled Suleimani and al-Baghdadi.” This was from the sane side of the aisle. The Trumpet side, however, was represented by a wide (/sarc off) range of opinions, all of which were versions of “So what?” As in “I feel good about him and don’t care what he does or does not know”.
My favorite, in terms of the throwing-panties-and-a-room-key-onto-the-stage school of objective analysis from a self-identified Rock Princess, was ” Who cares what their names are? They don’t have long to live after Trump gets sworn in as #45”
The same Trumpet Fan Club response to the fact that Fiorina knew answers to the same questions from Hewitt was, basically, “she cheated”.
At the risk of repeating myself – again, the nice thing about the truth is it’s easy to memorize, it doesn’t need a majority to prevail, and it has no agenda. And rarely, if ever, does someone avoid or distort the truth to advance something noble.
I’ve been reviewing the history of the last couple centuries, and I think all of the problems stem from two things:
1. People lying.
2. People refusing to call out the lies.
And it is the second part which has been most crucial in our descent into madness – we are so fearful of offending that even when someone is brazenly feeding us a line of bull, we won’t just say it.
From an article by Michael Youssef | Sep 06, 2015 in Town Hall:
America, and the West, seem to be sinking into the abyss, and it’s time to ask: Is God’s judgment now inevitable?
In contemplating the answer, we should consider some of the obvious reasons why judgment could come soon:
1. The blood of millions of innocent lives is shed and body parts are sold for profit in this country, while our government supports and funds such monstrous activity.
2. God’s purpose in Creation, and His declared purpose for marriage, has been ignored and ruled against by the highest court in the land.
3. Police authority is devalued by a great many people and undermined by political leaders.
4. God-fearing, Bible-believing Christians are forbidden by the U.S. administration from saying the name of their God in the military.
5. European businessmen and government officials cannot wait to do business with Iran—a leading state sponsor of the persecution and murder of innocent people.
6. Persecuted Christians from the Middle East and elsewhere are forbidden entry visas into the United States and Europe. And yet illegal aliens—terrorists among them—get in and are given support.
7. News programs report nearly every day on the rape and murder of Christian women and children by ISIS, while our government leaders cannot be bothered to condemn it, let alone do something about it.
8. A sex change operation can get you a call from the highest office holder in the land to commend you for your “courage,” while families of fallen soldiers receive nothing.
9. Those who announce their choice to reject God’s created order become heroes, while those who have taken a vow of poverty and serve the least among us are discriminated against.
With those, and many other government decisions made to marginalize righteousness and the righteous, can God’s judgment be far behind?
We can already see the signs of the lifting of God’s hand upon America through the cowardice of today’s politicians. Lying by public officials is rampant (and is even considered a virtue by many).
Politicians refer to their political opponents as terrorists, while at the same time, they refuse to label the real terrorists as such.Elected government officials, out of fear of criticism, hide behind parliamentary maneuvers to avoid obeying the Constitution and allowing religious liberty.
We are already reaping the leaders that we deserve.
As I read this essay, it occurred to me that it should, and probably does, resonate even with those who do not believe in the judgment of God. Even a secular mind can see the dangers of the points made and their inevitable conclusion.
At least seven of these nine points should be major components of any serious presidential contender. Number 2 is now, thanks to the organized efforts of a tiny fragment of our society but bolstered by an energetic Complicit Agenda Media and an activist Supreme Court, such a sacred cow that taking it on in this way would be political suicide—–but it is a matter that must be left to states and not part of federal authority and this is a point that must be made over and over again. As for Number 5, we can’t do anything about the corruption and venality of other nations and their leaders, but we do have the ability to severely restrict the ability of Iran to do business with anyone.
A strong national leader can do a lot to convince these leaders that their own best interests lie in working with the United States and not against us. Today, the U.S. is a toothless old tiger that superficially resembles the proud and strong nation we used to be but is really impotent. Impotent by choice, but impotent. And there is little to recommend siding with us when it is so clear that our time is over and there are other players rapidly approaching center stage, who should be made allies. This will not change until we change not just the name of the person in the White House but the underlying political philosophy of our national leadership.
This is the first post of I’ve seen of yours that is contrary to your stance on “don’t argue issues” While the list items are all important stuff, they are all entirely the “issues” you feel will bog our side down.
I’m not looking to argue with you. Personally, it seems impossible to not get caught up in some issues. It’s just that you are the standard-bearer of not getting bogged down in issues and you posted an all-issues posting.
btw, I notice in Rusty’s now-deleted post he missed this golden opportunity to argue with you but he chose instead to hit on some low-level bs. You guys were right about him. He has no idea how to debate. I vote we keep his postings for entertainment value. All in favor? What, just me? Oh, well…
I threw no insult, I merely stated you are not good at debate. Amazona lofted up a rare watermelon with her list of issues and you completely missed it. A good debater waits for opportunities like that.
My point was not that your post was bs, it was that you wrote about other stuff (aka “bs”) when you had an opportunity to argue Amazona on her own primary point. You missed an opportunity.
I welcome other opinions. I wish your posts were maintained but I have no impact on that process.
Also, as regards your suggestion to substitute “Muslim” for “Christian” in Amazona’s post, I did that and, actually, the post still stands true. I copied it into Word and did a search/replace and re-read it and it seems OK to me.
btw, I don’t know what blog you’re talking about. I’ve found a blogspot bog with posts no later than 2012, a Facebook page which is non-political and a website for lefthanded people
Bob, it’s not that I don’t think issues are important. Of course they are. I’ve got a whole list of issues that really matter to me. I think you have missed my point, which is that of all the issues that I care about, the only one that is relevant to federal office is adherence to the Constitution, so when something comes up that relates to that I find it significant.
So take a look at what you call my “all-issues” post.
1. Related to the expansion of federal power, contrary to the main body of the Constitution and made even more clear in the Tenth Amendment. The federal government has no place in this argument, until and unless an amendment is passed regarding the right to life. It certainly has no place in funding something like this. Check it out, and if you find anything in the Constitution that supports violating the Tenth Amendment and the First Amendment, please let me know.
2. Addressed that
3. I think the new attitude toward police is an important change in the moral fabric of our nation and I think that it has come down from the top, from the Oval Office in its efforts to spin public opinion against law enforcement. As this has been MADE an issue by our current president, it seems relevant for a candidate to state his or her opinion on this and his or her commitment to supporting law enforcement and using the power of the DOJ to enforce attacks on it when that is appropriate.
4. Another expansion of federal power in direct violation of the Constitution. If a candidate can’t campaign on a promise to follow the law of the land, he or she should not be a candidate.
5. Addressed this in my post—leadership, with this as one area where it is necessary.
6. Pointing out the utter failure of our immigration system—a federal issue—as well as failure to maintain national security, an enumerated duty of the federal government.
7, 8 and 9—–More on the failure of our current leadership.
I see this as very different from asking a candidate if he is “for” gay marriage or abortion, as these are states’ rights issues. As I have said, on these and similar issues I will fight for my stance, but do it where it belongs, at the state and local level.
The point I have tried to make is that our political system has degenerated into a constant bickering about issues and a complete state of ignorance about governance. When most young people state that in their opinion the biggest problem facing the US today is gay marriage, we ought to realize this means we are in trouble, as the very foundation of our system of government is being eroded until it is no longer functional—-but the political mind of the 2015 voter is about issues and personality and scandal and identity, and not about the best blueprint for governing our country.
I did note that you thought Rusty should have taken the alleged opportunity to jump on what you seem to think is a big gotcha—just curious, but why do you think the purpose of the blog is to jump on an “opportunity to argue” about a perceived inconsistency? Just what do you think Rusty could have “argued”? That any of these things are not true? That any of these things are not important? ?????????? Do you really see the purpose of the blog as one of just arguing, without making valid points about important things like how to govern the nation, or the problems it faces?
Rats. Thought I had ya but guess I was wrong.
BTW, “reasoned debate” is welcomed and encouraged here, it is just not defined as personal attacks in place of actual ideas, nor it is defined as merely regurgitating Leftist talking points and then becoming abusive when they are debunked or even challenged.
And there is no way a post of observations about problems in this country could possibly be considered “unconstitutional”. Actually, the Constitution guarantees me the right to state my opinion, as well as to repeat the opinions of others, which is what my post did. “Reasoned debate” might include disagreements with the quoted statements of the author regarding the validity of his observations, but it is just silly to use the quote to quibble about whether it should have said something else, or been vastly expanded to include all possible religions, or whatever else someone might imagine to be necessary to make the quote more acceptable.
I realized I didn’t answer your question regarding Rusty’s lost opportunity.
My original post wasn’t meant to be argumentative, it was intended as good old ribbing. I didn’t take your post as a refutation of your stance on the primacy of constitutionality. It seemed more like you read a good article, one that stirred you, and you quoted it not noticing all the issues points presented.
I knew you weren’t just listing issues, but were this a formal debate I could have made a lot of points dissecting that post. Which brings me to Rusty. Here is a guy that is always looking for something, anything, to argue with and he posts something fairly meaningless. All this time he argues useless points and he had an opportunity – likely unsuccessful in the long run anyway – to use your words against you and he simply didn’t see it. I was truly amazed at that.
No, your post was fine. I just meant a little teasing. But Rusty’s inability to jump on an opportunity like that is strange.
Do you have any idea what blog he referred to? I Googled his words but could find no such site. I’m always looking for other viewpoints to hash out.
Bob, I don’t know you well enough yet to know when you are joking, though I did think you might be in your comment. One of the problems with the written word is that it lacks nuance, so without a tone of voice or a grin or a wink it can sometimes be hard to tell if someone is being serious or pulling your leg. I didn’t take your comments as attacks or even criticisms, though.
One thing you may be figuring out about me is that I seldom pass up a chance to expand upon an idea, or get in another jab at something I think is wrong, which is why I took the opportunity to expand upon the points made in the article I quoted to illustrate some violations of the Constitution.
But we will get to know each other better as time goes on, and maybe you’ll even start to be able to tell when I am teasing, as Cluster did recently when I called him a big poopy-head. (Now I need to go try to find out who put a dead fish on my front porch…………)
As for the blog, when the trolls were finally kicked off this blog—-and it was a very ugly time, with them obsessed with personal attacks and using the most vile and filthy language and commentary—-Cluster felt much as you do about wanting to be able to continue talking with some of them, and started another blog where they were welcome. It didn’t take long for him to become completely disgusted with them, and he may have shut that blog down. But the trolls loved having an anti-B4V blog, and evidently started one of their own. I have never looked at it, but based on comments about it here from some who have it appears to consist to a great extent of the trolls looking at posts here and then using what we say as the basis for ongoing vitriol against us. It’s a pathology.
A point that slipped by because it didn’t seem worth spending a lot of time on is a comment by Rusty early in my failed effort to have a decent conversation with him—-at that point Cluster had made a comment in that thread, and Rusty said something to the effect that he hated the other poster. Hated. That is a very strong word, and in the context where it was used I thought it clear he was referring to Cluster—-the B4V blogger who had started a blog specifically so people like Rusty would have a voice. I think it is obvious that this is what anyone can expect if he doesn’t agree with the Left or its blog voice. Just an FYI. Don’t count on being able to “hash out” much of anything, if by that you mean presenting alternative points of view for rational discussion. I have been on this blog for more than ten years now, and I have been able to have one—-ONE—rational discussion with someone from the Left. It was about the meaning of the term “Natural Born Citizen” and it went on for quite some time, with opinions and court decisions and the like passed back and forth to defend one position or the other. Spook can tell you how to find it if you would like to see it. That’s a pretty bad record for the Left.
On the other hand, those of us who post here often disagree with each other. Mark and I have had several exchanges of differing opinions, and Cluster and I don’t always agree with each other. But the way we handle disagreement is vastly different from the way an opposing point of view is handled by the Lefties. Mark and I went ’round and ’round one time about who shot JFK without ever getting nasty or mean-spirited. I like exchanges like that, which is why I started coming to the blog, but in my experience the Lefties who came to this blog, and still lurk in its shadows, don’t want to talk, and for darned sure are not open to different ideas. They just like to fight, and fight dirty. They also seem to want to disrupt this blog, as we saw from gang attacks and posts that were resent as many as fifty times in a couple of hours. That is why I named them Blog Vandals.
What’s that? You want my opinion on who killed JFK?
I like the debate here. I just wish there were more voices. I always see you, Mark and Cluster, a smattering of Retired Spook and a bunch of one-off posts from folks I hadn’t seen before.
I do confess to shying away from topics on which I see you guys feel very strongly. A couple weeks back a topic passed on which I have not only strong opinions but painful, personal experience, but yours and Mark’s opinions were so strong and so dedicated, I felt it useless (and possibly infuriating) to argue, so I stayed mum. Fortunately, there are few national-level political issues on which I have direct experience.
I like the debate here. I just wish there were more voices. I always see you, Mark and Cluster, a smattering of Retired Spook and a bunch of one-off posts from folks I hadn’t seen before.
Bob, there used to be a lot more of us, and a while back, when Mark took a long sabatical, Cluster, TiredofLibs and I wrote dozens of posts — probably in the neighborhood of a couple hundred. Sadly, people have moved on and haven’t been replaced in large numbers. BTW, don’t be afraid to bring up any topic you want. Just be forewarned that uninformed opinions don’t get a lot of respect here.
We used to be a lot bigger – but we also did allow more Progressive comments, until that just became very, very difficult, for reasons we’ve noted.
Still, I like to see it keep going – and as long as Matt is willing to keep it here, I’ll keep posting. We have been at it since 2003, after all.
Bob, personal (and even painful) experience can inform a discussion, so don’t be scared off by our apparent dedication to any particular point of view. I, for example, had a very intractable point of view on Natural Born Citizen, till recently I read some additional information about the meaning of the 14th Amendment, and I had no trouble accepting it. I even posted that I had learned something that changed my perspective.
Just take a strong response to what you say as a challenge, not an attack, and if you think it is too strongly worded, say so. As I have pointed out, the written word lacks nuance and often what seems like a mild comment in one’s head looks a lot more aggressive in print.
So jump right in. You are obviously a smart guy, well spoken, and a welcome addition to the blog. I have said for a long time that I think there are a lot of people who read but don’t participate, and we would all like them to throw in their two cents’ worth.
As for not having personal experience on national-level issues, so what? For one thing, I’ll bet you do, if you think about it—-an IRS audit, a neighbor who was told he couldn’t fly an American flag, etc. A son or daughter who can’t find a job, a co-worker who is incompetent but can’t be fired or even disciplined because he or she is in a “protected class”. You don’t have to shoot or have a CCP to have an opinion on the Second Amendment arguments being made, and all you need is a few minutes online to familiarize yourself with the Constitution to have and defend an opinion on its relevance to contemporary American government. Being part of discussions on this blog has pushed me to do research I would probably never have done on my own, and vastly expanded my horizons, while I have gotten plenty of bloody noses in the process. There is a difference between good-natured (though sometimes spirited) rough-and-tumble and blood sport, and we do try to stay on the right side of that line.
And yes, if you want to opine on the JFK thing, go for it. I recently had a great conversation about this and I do find this one of the more intriguing mysteries of the age. I also like conversations about Bigfoot and UFOs, and all sorts of unanswered questions. While politics is incredibly important to us in our day to day lives and the future of our nation, sometimes we need to get off that serious track and delve into things a little less intense. I’m a rancher, a horsewoman, and am learning to shoot, so there are all sorts of things to talk about. Spook and I have all sorts of conversations about guns, both of us being Sig Sauer fans, and we trade dog stories as well.
BTW, while the 14th Amendment relates to Native Born Citizens, not Natural Born Citizens, some of the wording was informative in going back to the concept of Natural Born Citizen being someone born to a citizen parent. It was not a straight-line relationship between the two, but studying the one resulted in more research on the other.
Thanks for the kind words.
I’m still leery of bringing up my topic in that, when it came up a couple weeks ago, it seemed like a real sacred cow.
I know this example is over the top, but it is a mini-version of my experience when the topic came up. Imaging your uncle were a Holocaust survivor and you hear people argue fervently that Hitler has gotten a raw deal in history, wrongly labelled a bad guy, because he solved an overpopulation problem.
In re: JFK, we’ll never know what happened. So many agencies and organizations were doing so much shady stuff that when the assassination happened they all went into cover-up mode. Any good evidence is long gone.
There’s a recent book out that posits a Secret Service agent accidentally discharging his weapon during Oswald’s attack. It sounds interesting but I stopped reading JFK books a ways back. They get me too worked up.
It isn’t sensitive because neither I nor Amazona are all that worked up about it – not, at least, to any point where we’d actually get mad at each other over a disagreement. To be sure, I only know one other person who agrees with me on the whole JFK thing…so, in any argument, I’m bound to be the minority
I’m sorry if my muddled post made it seem like JFK’s assassination was my issue. I was just throwing in my two cents about JFK because it came up in Amazona’s post.
My issue is…(deep breath)…I believe you guys are dead wrong about Joe McCarthy/McCarthyism.
Depends on your position on McCarthy – to me, there was no “McCarthyism”…that was a myth created by people who were desperate to prevent the truth from coming out about just how deeply the Roosevelt Administration had been penetrated by Soviet spies. A lot of Republicans went along with this because, as per usual, they figured it was better to go along to get along…and all the elite opinion was against McCarthy (and no surprise when you discover, among other things, that Drew Pearson’s aide was an agent of Stalin’s NKVD). We know now that most of those on the lists McCarthy had (lists, by the way, not created by McCarthy but provided to him by other investigative sources) were, indeed, a collection of out-right spies and communist fellow travelers. A full revelation of the facts would have been devastating for the Democrat party – what the people found out was devastating enough, of course – and the Democrats wanted the investigation stopped…as they couldn’t stop it by telling the truth, they instead told a pack of lies – about McCarthy.
Remember what McCarthyism means – to either falsely accuse someone of doing wrong, or accusing someone of wrong-doing even if you don’t have any evidence of it. McCarthy didn’t falsely accuse anyone; and he had plenty of evidence. But a relentless propaganda campaign reversed the truth the lying spies were made out to be the honest patriots; the truth-telling Senator was made out to be the lying bully. And it isn’t the only time the left has managed this trick.
My issue is…(deep breath)…I believe you guys are dead wrong about Joe McCarthy/McCarthyism.
It’s not something we’ve discussed lately that I’m aware of. In what way are we wrong?
I saw it come up a couple times, not as a real debate topic so much as comments attesting to the raw deal McCarthy has gotten in history books. A couple weeks ago a book was recommended. I did not read the book but looked up it synopsis and reviews.
The crux of the discussion is basically that McCarthy hunted after Soviet spies, and after the fall of the USSR, his work was validated by discovery of proof that Soviet spies had existed in the State Dept., etc.
The problem with McCarthyism was not that its goal was incorrect, the problem with McCarthyism was that the means used brought to the United States the worst parts of life in the Soviet Union. One hears how, in Soviet Russia, people feared speaking, even in their own homes, for fear a neighbor would turn them in. And neighbors would turn people in because they themselves were pressured to turn in their friends and neighbors.
My uncle, who died a few years ago, was a very famous author and screenwriter – Academy Award, multiple Emmys, a Tony and millions of books sold. He was the real deal.
Growing up I heard many, many stories of the Red Scare days. He was never blacklisted but he went through the dance with the FBI. I’ve heard of people – not generic “people,” I mean actual individuals – who were not fortunate in their dance with the FBI. One of the few times I saw my uncle cry was when he described an old friend of his – a very unstable actor – who killed himself because of the harassment his family (and I mean whole family, cousins, in-laws, cousins of in-laws, etc.) suffered, suffering that ended with his suicide.
It wasn’t just actors and writers that faced this, it was everyone who worked for, or vendors or, the movie industry. Electricians, secretaries, janitors, etc. were routed out for being communit or homosexual.
All this happened to the people who had, just five years before, won WWII. This was the so-called Greatest Generation being harassed as being anti-American.
Joe McCarthy didn’t start the Red/Lavender Scare and he did not control the FBI agents ruining lives, but he was the face of the movement and he brought to America Soviet-style distrust among friends, neighbors and co-workers.
Shame on McCarthy, shame on that s**thead Robert Kennedy, shame on the FBI. That there were, indeed, some spies (who apparently did not help the USSR win the Cold War) does not lessen their shame.
Some spies? Actually, lots and lots of spies – the most famous like Alger Hiss and Harry Dexter White being the tip of a massive iceberg.
The biggest problem we have in the aftermath of McCarthy is that being a communist – or even just allied with communists – isn’t considered downright evil. People would excuse it – “oh, he just hung around communists in college out of youthful idealism”. But hanging about communists is like hanging around Nazis. To be sure, everything can be forgiven – but just as we would insist that someone who once flirted with Nazi ideals renounce them utterly, so should it have been with communist ideals which are just as bad.
Neither my uncle nor 99% of those harassed by the FBI had ever had any Communist affiliations, not even passing. The actor who killed himself had been a member of a union – not a Communist organization but an actor’s union not unlike the one Ronald Reagan headed – 30 years earlier. The problem is that EVERYONE in Hollywood was guilty until they either admitted guilt or threw the FBI onto their friends.
These people were the Greatest Generation, fought and lost friends in WWII and returned to be told they were un-American.
Also, my point was not that rooting out communists wasn’t a noble cause. My point was that the methods used by the government turned large portions of America into the same tyrannical state as the USSR. “You are guilty because someone said so and you are only not guilty if you tell us of others who are guilty.
My uncle flew fighter craft in WWII. My uncle wrote, produced and directed U.S. Army propaganda films. He did not hang out with Nazis or communists. He was called an anti-American saboteur by a 25-year-old FBI agent. His mother was told her son would soon be in jail for espionage. His wife’s nephew was pulled from classes and interviewed by police in the hallway…as though my uncle was sharing military secrets with a 16-year-old in-law.
As regards those “more than a few” spies caught, the most important spies – Klaus Fuchs and the Rosenbergs – were not caught my McCarthy. In fact, it was their capture that got the Red Scare really going.
So, thousands of American lives were damaged and/or destroyed and “more than a few” spies were caught. How much liberty are you willing to give up to catch “more than a few spies?”
I’d rather live in the Land of the Free, with more than a few spies, than Soviet Russia and..oh, yeah, still more than a few spies.
The Red Scare, so-called, was started because of the Korean War, coupled with the USSR getting the bomb…but as Amazona pointed out, that wasn’t McCarthy’s brief. He was worried about the infiltration of the highest, policy-making reaches of the American government. People like Hiss and White were perfectly placed to influence US policy in a manner detrimental to American interests. Hiss was deeply involved in setting up the United Nations; White was deeply involved in the Bretton Woods agreement and setting up the International Monetary Fund – Stalin must have done back flips of joy when he found his agents getting that kind of power, influence and access.
This is what McCarthy was trying to stop – that is what “McCarthyism” really is.
Correction, my uncle was not a fighter pilot. He was a pilot in the Army Air Corp.
Hoover was the one who set the FBI on people in, close to or affiliated with the entertainment industry. Hoover was the one obsessed with the private lives of others. Hoover was the one obsessed with homosexuality. Hoover was the one with the power.
God would have spared, I believe, if there had been even 10 righteous men – I think we’ve got at least that.
On the other hand, I do wonder if retain the overall national fiber to defend ourselves. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I had that question – and it was answered, “yes”. We didn’t lack for sufficient men and women to stand up and fight. Of course, we have approximately 60 million men fit for military service (bit over 59 million women, as well). That is a large pool to draw upon…and even if only 25% of the people really believe in the United States we could still get a larger military than we used to fight World War Two. On the other hand, do enough people really want to fight for it?
If you think about the youth who are Social Justice Warrior types, you immediately realize they don’t seem to have the stuff in them to shoulder a rifle…even supposing you could convince them to do so in defense of a nation they have been told is the source of all evil in the world. The other part of youth – those who have in spite of massive efforts to the contrary developed a abiding love and respect for the United States – how long will they want to keep joining a military which is never allowed to win a war? Where standards are lowered so that various social-engineering fads can be indulged in? Where being a believing Christian can jeopardize your career?
Nations do not really die because of internal collapse – though internal decay invites an attack which will destroy the nation. We are decaying rapidly – and Europe is much further down the road: I really think that the only thing stopping Putin from rolling into Germany is Poland…he knows that the Poles will fight, and fight hard…no one else in Europe seems much interested in it.
Bob, thanks for telling your story. You shined a light on a shameful period in American history, and it is clear it had a tremendous impact on you. Without intending to diminish the importance or truth of what you say, I do have a slightly different perspective.
Not of what happened regarding the witch hunt that focused on the entertainment industry, but on McCarthy himself.
McCarthy was a difficult man, hard to like, but he did put himself out there to stand up and name, by name, people who were part of the Communist Party who had high positions in government. This was later proved to be accurate, but by that time a firestorm had erupted.
It is my understanding that McCarthy was not part of what happened in Hollywood and New York, among other places. I understand that the witch hunt was initiated and fueled by the House Unamerican Activities Committee (did I get that name right?). The thing is, McCarthy was a SENATOR. He had nothing to do with this.
My political books are packed away while I try to get some carpet replaced and some book shelves built so I can have a separate library for them, so I can’t look up the things I remember reading to make sure I remember them correctly. But my memory is that there were several villains, including and perhaps most of all J. Edgar Hoover. My memory is that McCarthy, himself, was focused only on the Communists in high government positions.
The FBI was out of control, HUAC was out of control, and they damaged or destroyed many lives. While many people in the entertainment industry for some reason have always been attracted to/sucked in by the more radical Leftist movements, they did not pose any serious danger to the country, not like the dedicated Communists who were in high level government positions, of power and knowledge. They tended to dabble, to playact, much like Jane Fonda and Sean Penn and others who seem drawn to the drama of being rebellious so they can feel superior to the average guy on the street. They enabled serious Communists, they tried to slip in radical Leftist ideas into some of their books and movies and plays, but they were pretty superficial and of no real import, with no power.
I can’t tell you why the House, and the FBI, became so obsessed and ran amok. But it is my perception that what they did became inextricably tangled, in the minds of Americans, with the serious business of outing serious Communist infiltrators into our government. For all I know that was the intent of those who took one issue, that of identifying threats to our national security, and purposely muddled it to draw attention away from its seriousness, by dragging in the elaborate and melodramatic attacks on people who never posed a threat at all. That is the stuff of long and carefully researched books, if it can ever be explained at all.
My point has never been to minimize the damage done by the over the top hyper emotional melodramatic witch hunt throughout, for the most part, the entertainment industry. It was a grotesque and inexcusable exercise of power. But it is NOT what McCarthy did, or tried to do. My point is that, as you yourself said, McCarthy became the FACE of this abuse of power, its symbol, even though he was not part of it and if he was responsible for it at all it was probably just because he brought to the forefront the possibility of Communists planted in our midst, working against the country.
And so “McCarthyism” became a catchword for bullying, for making false accusations, for hounding people, for paranoia. And THAT is what I find objectionable. As far as I can tell, what Joe McCarthy did, himself, took courage and was done in the best interest of the country. This is not the same thing as what others, such as HUAC and the FBI, did, ostensibily for the same purpose McCarthy had, but without any real foundation, and in a very out of control, abusive way.
Words matter. I have argued against the Leftist claim of “pedophilia” in the Catholic priesthood, not because I find preying on immature young men anything but reprehensible but because what has happened has not been pedophilia but homosexual predation on post-pubescent young men. It is vile, it is immoral, it is disgusting, it is illegal, and the Church was wrong to allow it to continue. I have never tried to excuse it in any way. But I have objected to the efforts to change the way people look at it, to shift attention away from the PC attitude toward homosexuality by implying that Catholic priests molest children because they are children. The word is used wrongly for a purpose.
I feel much the same way about the acceptance of the term “McCarthyism” when I think McCarthy, himself, while not being particularly likable as a person, did a good thing and has gotten a bum rap, for whatever reason. McCarthy did not point a finger at Hollywood. McCarthy did not sic the FBI on writers and actors and directors or their families. And McCarthy was right—the people he named turned out to be serious Communist infiltrators into our government. You said “….. he was the face of the movement and he brought to America Soviet-style distrust among friends, neighbors and co-workers.” I see that as a leap from a simple fact to a very broad generality that is not only not true, but rather melodramatic. He did not bring “..Soviet-style distrust among friends, neighbors and co-workers.” He was a Senator, an elected official who had taken an oath to defend this country, and when he learned of dangers to the country he spoke up. I don’t think average Americans developed a “Soviet-style distrust” of their “friends, neighbors and co-workers”.
If you want to define the abuses of the era, the mistreatment of people like your uncle and his friends and others, I don’t think “McCarthyism” is either accurate or fair. “Hooverism” might be a better word, as Hoover was not only responsible for sending the FBI out to harass and intimidate people, he had a long record of doing this kind of thing in other examples as well. McCarthy had no power—he was just a Senator. Hoover had the power, Hoover used the power, and he did it for his own reasons.
This is another point of view of the infamous “Blacklisting” of Hollywood personalities.
Bernstein, Walter. “Inside Out: A Memoir of the Blacklist.” New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1996.
According to the experts, the start of the cold war with the Soviet Union began in July 1947 when Stalin refused to accept the Marshall Plan for the Soviet Union. Although Soviet—American tensions had been mounting ever since the Bolshevik Revolution, they were briefly relaxed during the alliance to defeat Nazi Germany. By the spring of 1947 the euphoria created by the allied victories was waning. Meanwhile the Soviet Union continued its free and unabated domination of a tattered Europe. Marxist principles appeared to be gaining a foothold in much of the world. It appeared to some Americans that the terrible sacrifices by so many during the war years had been in vain.
The menace of German agents, and fifth columnists had given way to Communist spies and “fellow travelers” more menacing than their predecessors, because they spoke without accents and looked much like the rest of us! The widespread and popular notion, many concluded, was that American Communists were conducting atomic espionage for the Soviet Union. It was in this capricious environment, that the conviction of Alger Hiss (1948), the rise and fall of Senator Joseph R. McCarthy (1950—1954), and the executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg would open the door to one of the most disquieting periods in American history.
In 1946, for the first time since the Hoover administration, the Republican Party had won control of Congress. Political events in Europe and the rest of the world bewildered most Americans. Early polls indicated official U.S. foreign policy at odds with that of the average citizen. As a result, President Truman came to be regarded by many as being soft towards Communism, especially domestic Communism. Because of the newly empowered Republican majority and to combat these increasing uncertainties, Truman put into effect the first of many of the so—called anti—Communist loyalty acts. However, rather than shoring up a perceived weakness within his administration, these executive mandates lent credence to Truman’ detractors, and fueled his own self—doubts.
A revitalized HUAC (inactive during the war years) now under the leadership of the contemptuous J. Parnell Thomas, (R—New Jersey—who would later himself be jailed for accepting kickbacks) launched multiple investigations into Communist infiltration of organized labor, the Federal government, and most audaciously—Hollywood. The assault on the film industry was in many ways a predictable aftermath of the recent release of films of predominantly liberal sentiment. The apolitical fledging American style Film Noir which took a disparaging view of life under any system of government, was cresting. And there was, it must be said at least a modicum of factual substance to the committees charges. A number of Hollywood directors, screenwriters, and actors had joined the Communist Party or contributed funds to its activities during the Depression of the 1930s. It was to these especially strident participants that HUAC was most mindful.
In September 1947, Thomas’s committee subpoenaed 41 witness, nineteen of whom declared their intention to be unfriendly (ie, to refuse to answer questions about their political affiliations). Of the nineteen, eleven were directly questioned about their membership in the Communist Party. German emigre playwright Bertolt Brecht left the country the day after his appearance, leaving just 10—the infamous Hollywood Ten.
To counter what they claimed were reckless attacks by HUAC, a group of Hollywood liberals led by actor Humphrey Bogart, his wife Lauren Bacall, John Huston, William Wyler, Gene Kelly and others, established the “Committee for the First Amendment” (CFA). The CFA traveled to Washington to lend its support as the eleven unfriendly witness’ began their testimony. However, as the eleven began to respond to their inquisitors with as much disdain, and often with histrionics far more brusque than their accusers, the embarrassed First Amendmenters began to unravel. Director Edward Dmytryk one of the Ten, said later, “I was so happy with the support of the CFA and others, but when (screenwriter) John Howard Lawson began haranguing the committee members, I died. We lost it right then and there!” Humphrey Bogart wrote a piece for the March 1948 issue of Photoplay magazine entitled “I’m No Communist”, in which he admitted being “duped”. His trip to Washington, he said, had been “ill—advised”. John Garfield wrote a similar article called ”I’m a Sucker for a Left Hook. Edward G. Robinson lamented “the Reds made a sucker out of me”.
The Truman administration was by now largely responsible for much of the anxiety and anti—Communist fervor surrounding the post—war period. As the elections of 1948 approached, the White House grew more and more unreasonable in imposing the loyalty oaths now being administered to all Federal employees. In a speech at a Democratic fund raiser, Truman vowed that all Communists and Communist sympathizers would be, without deliberation, removed from the government! The President now emerged more and more inclined to apply any tactics necessary to ease the discerned tensions. He played right into the hands of the tyrannical red—baiters.
I have always believed that if the hearings had stopped after this initial round, the majority of historians and academicians might have taken a more objective view of them. After all, the Hollywood Ten who were all held in contempt of congress, later admitted to being or having been members of the Communist Party.
In his autobiography “Inside Out: A Memoir of the Blacklist”, Walter Bernstein, contributing writer for The New Yorker, and former screenwriter, claimed that while he was working at Columbia Pictures, he and Director Robert Rossen, would set out deliberately to include some leftist point of view in a particular scene. They left it up to studio head Harry Cohn to delete the unwanted scenes. Rossen, an overt Communist, was perturbed at his exclusion as one of the original Hollywood Ten! He never got over “being snubbed in such an unsavory manner!” Here, for the first time, one of the key players of the Hollywood left admitted purposefully and deliberately to including pro—Communist messages in movie scripts.
It was the later HUAC hearings of March 1951 lead by John S. Wood (D— Georgia), and the 1952 Internal Security subcommittee headed by Senator Pat McCarran that the “naming—of—names” became the watch words. By 1951, Joseph R. McCarthy was in full blossom. The entire country, Congress, and the Truman administration share equally in what was to come. It was from these latter hearings in Washington and in Hollywood, that the infamous BLACKLIST evolved. By that time, and as a direct result of these more recent hearings, more than 324 people had been fired by the studios and were no longer permitted to work in the Motion Picture Industry, none more pathetic than actor Larry Parks. Parks literally begged the committee not to force him to his knees.
Abraham Polonsky. and Edward Dmytryk, two surviving members of the original Hollywood Ten were interviewed in the 1996 AMC production “Blacklist: Hollywood On Trial”. Polonsky still holds to his beliefs. He claims that the Party was simply a social club. Dmytryk rejects Polonsky’s cavalier demeanor asking, “is he still deceiving himself for Christ Sake! I’m surprised at that, he knows better. We worked for the Comintern, we were given directions by the Cominturn, the Party was in the middle of all of it! I eventually came to see the Party as a menace”. Edward Dmytryk went on to direct The Caine Mutiny (1954), Raintree Country (1957), The Young Lions (1958), Walk on the Wild Side (1962), and several other pictures.
At first glance it appears that the initial hearings were unjustified. Scholars and historians incorrectly grieve over how these initial hearings deprived hundreds of innocent people their ability to earn a living. But in point of fact, as a result of the 1947 hearings only the Ten unfriendly witnesses were sentenced; and only then for their refusal to admit and then disavow their affiliation with the Communist Party, however sophomoric and foreign that sounds today. The tenor of the times must be taken into consideration here. None can now say that in the late 1940s there was not a genuine Communist peril.
Producer (Salt of the Earth, 1954), Paul Jerrico was asked the inevitable question, “In the event of a war between Russian and America, would you support the United States?”. At the time, his silence suggested an allegiance to a “greater” cause. He is still steadfast in his beliefs. His reticence, he now claims, meant only that he opposed any war that would destroy humanity?
Had the Truman administration heeded the early signs of anxiety and mistrust, and been more forceful in putting them down, perhaps there would not have been a need for further hearings, or for a Joe McCarthy. In his biography “Whittaker Chambers”, Sam Tanehaus presents a contrasting view from what up to now has been the consensus attitude regarding Alger Hiss and Whittaker Chambers. Moreover, there is now compelling evidence to the guilt of Hiss. And there are suggestions that some in Truman’ State department may have been less than sterling.
The initial hearings did produce some tangible results. Whether or not they were just or popular is a topic for another day. It is legal in America to be a Communist. But open subversion is another matter. In that regard, the question must be asked “were these men in concert with the Soviet Union, or were they as Robinson, Bogart, and Garfield, simply duped, disillusioned, or seduced?”
Plenty of Progs were duped, of course…remember, the communists always use words like “justice” and “freedom” and “equality”…and people do take them at their word, because bothering to find out the truth takes effort…and if one has already committed one’s self, then it is hard to just ditch that, admit error and move on.
Sorry for the delayed response. I needed to research first.
Who exactly did McCarthy list as a communist that was later found to have been true? I know he started with a long list, like 200-300 names, dropped it to about 50 and finally settled on nine. I just researched all nine people and none of them turned out to be communists.
As for it being over-dramatic to say the Red Scare made us like the Soviets, consider this.
1. In Hollywood, New York, Washington and other enclaves citizens were pressured to confess or name names. My uncle discussed the lengths he and his friends had to go to in order to speak privately.
2. Phones were tapped and intimidation via FBI investigations of relatives and coworkers occurred constantly
3. Like Mao’s Cultural Revolution, artists and intelligentsia were targeted
As for McCarthy himself being innocent of the mayhem of the FBI and HUAC, I don’t buy it. He did not control those parties but his constant accusations-without-support and, of course, his speech in Wheeling helped foment the atmosphere of the Red Scare.
One doesn’t become the face of a movement for nothing. He was the face of McCarthyism because he was a leader of the movement.
And here we are at a point where we just have to agree to disagree. I understand that your perception is colored by personal and familial experience, and has a much stronger emotional content than mine, or Mark’s. Mine is that McCarthy probably did start the whole ball rolling with his original accusations, but you need to understand that mine is also influenced by my extensive readings on the workings of the Leftist manipulations of public opinion and that once the existence of known Communists in high levels of government became public there was probably a strong move to cloud that issue with a lot of chaff. Add the Left’s desire to throw a lot of distractions out there to set false trails and confuse to the paranoia of Hoover and his FBI and it doesn’t take long for facts to become trampled in the muck of too much happening to too many people.
Not all contemporaneous accounts of the Red Scare put McCarthy, as you put it, as “…a leader of the movement..” He was the leader of the movement to investigate Communists in government, but the rest of it seemed to take off with a life of its own, and although his name was linked to the Hollywood/artists/intelligencia pogrom, there doesn’t seem to be hard evidence that he was actually promoting it.
I would also like to point out that you, yourself, compared this to Mao’s targeting of artists and intelligencia, which I think is a good observation but also one that doesn’t seem to include McCarthy as an instigator as this has always been the focus of radical Leftist purges—-the Pol Pot targeting of people who wore glasses, for example, because this indicated literacy and education. McCarthjy was no Leftist.
It is not unfair to say that the Red Scare had its elements of similarity to Soviet Russia. What I think is unfair is to say McCarthy was responsible for this, because his focus was so much narrower and limited to people in government. True, there was a mob mentality that took over and spread into other areas, but you and I will just have to agree that we have a different opinion about how responsible Joe McCarthy was for that, and for the legitimacy of the broad term “McCarthyism”.
I will also point out another example of the Left hijacking a term and using it in a way that is the exact opposite of its true meaning: “Swiftboating”. The Swift Boat veterans came forth to set the record straight after John Kerry’s elaborate series of self-serving stories about his alleged heroism as the head of a Swift Boat team. The Left almost immediately started to use the term to mean making false accusations about someone—-the exact opposite of what the term should be taken to mean.
This is what they do. When the Left is threatened, usually by some sort or degree of exposure, they rally to mount an intensive media campaign to redefine terms and set up knee-jerk reactions to those terms, usually terms used in ways that have no relationship to reality. Having seen this over and over, and reading about the real McCarthy efforts, I have no problem seeing the term “McCarthyism” as a construct of the Left, to be used as a pejorative and designed to distract from the reality that we had highly-placed anti-American Communist sympathizers in positions to harm the country.
Just keep in mind that objecting to the use of the term “McCarthyism” as it has come to be used, and the demonization of the man Joe McCarthy, is not in any way an effort to excuse the way Americans were treated by other Americans in the era in question.
It was wrong. It damaged people, it destroyed people, and it was wrong.
BTW, even after I moved from being what I call an “Unexamined Liberal” I still believed that Whittaker Chambers had lied and that Alger Hiss was innocent. It was not until after the fall of the USSR and so many old confidential files were opened for examination did I learn that Alger Hiss HAD been working for the Communists, had a handler, engaged in passing information to his handler, and that Whittaker Chambers was not lying. I defended Alger Hiss and criticized Whittaker Chambers for many years.
We DID have people in this country trying to find out national secrets to hand over to the Soviets. It happened. A certain amount of paranoia was called for. And I can fully understand the concern over having overt Leftist messages woven through the fabric of “entertainment”. I object to it today and see the way it has distorted the thinking of so many Americans. It is a sly, insidious way to erode the fabric of a nation, it is used with great success, and that was one of the concerns of those looking into Communist influence in the arts.
While many of those targeted, or who thought they were being targeted, were innocent of any kind or level of wrongdoing, we do need to admit that much of what happened amounted to a self-inflicted wound—it’s not as if it was a secret that the government was on high alert for signs of Communist infiltration, and playing games like purposely putting Leftist agendas and ideology into movies to see if anyone would catch it was just asking to be put on a watch list, given the times. It is too bad—worse, it was just plain wrong—to lump an entire industry into an investigation, but even those who didn’t belong to the Party or get involved in politics knew it was going on.
We worked for the Comintern, we were given directions by the Cominturn, the Party was in the middle of all of it! Maybe not everyone “worked for the Comintern” but people knew that others did, and looked the other way. It was a nudge, nudge, wink wink kind of thing, a sly sense of being bad and getting away with it, and when it turned out to have serious consequences there was a lot of big-eyed astonishment and outrage. I’m not saying your uncle was one of those people, but there were a lot of them, and a lot of sympathizers and fellow travelers.
The statement that McCarthy never unearthed a real communist is based upon the fact that McCarthy never convicted and sent to jail someone accused of being a traitor – but McCarthy, as a Senator, had no power to indict, try or convict anyone. The most he could ever do was hold someone in contempt of Congress…which would then have to be voted on by his whole committee, then by the whole Senate, then referred to Justice…in other words, just about an impossible hill to climb, especially when Justice wasn’t terribly interested in prosecuting such cases. At all events, McCarthy wasn’t interested in sending anyone to jail – or even preventing them from be as Communist as the wanted to be. All he wanted was agents of the USSR removed from positions of power and influence in the United States government. He wanted them fired – and then not re-hired (as all too often happened when one of them was exposed).
Let’s have a look at some of the people McCarthy went after:
Lauchlin Currie. Canadian born U.S. citizen who became FDR’s White House economist in 1940 and played a huge role in discrediting the Chiang regime in China. He was first exposed as early as 1939 by Chambers, but kept on being employed. Venoma confirmed Currie’s treason.
David Karr. Assistant to columnist Drew Pearson – who routinely attacked anti-communist DC figures; McCarthy read into the Senate record reports from Civil Service investigators that Karr was a communist agent. Venoma confirmed this.
Leonard Mins. One time a member of the war time OSS, later working for a defense contractor dealing with radar technology (the highest of high tech for the day. Hauled before the committee by McCarthy he refused to answer any question regarding his communist connections, treated McCarthy with contempt (while McCarthy treated him with courtesy). Venoma confirmed his treason.
This is the way it worked – as FDR massively expanded the size of government in the 1930’s, large numbers of young, Progressive people were hired to man the new bureaucracy…and they brought along with them their friends from college, some of whom were communist agents. Over time, these communists rose up through the bureaucracy – telling their Soviet handlers what we were up to; lobbying for pro-Soviet actions on the part of the U.S. government, hiring and promoting their like in government, recruiting new agents. When the lax security apparatus of the Roosevelt and Truman Administrations did stumble upon these traitors, the invariable action was to relieve them of duty and allow them to gain employment elsewhere (in the immediate post-War world, very often at the United Nations or the IMF or other such multi-national bureaucracies). McCarthy was trying to put a stop to this – convinced that these people had played a huge role, over years, in shifting U.S. policy in a pro-Soviet direction (when they weren’t also stealing secret information and handing it off to the Soviets).
When one looks at things like the Yalta Agreement and the desperate moves we made to get Stalin to agree to enter the Pacific War, one can only assume that someone who was Stalin’s stooge had the ear of our Senior leadership (Hiss was at Yalta – his defenders endlessly point out that he didn’t speak during the sessions of the Big Three…as if that mattered! He got to talk to Roosevelt, in private, when Roosevelt was trying to figure out how to deal with Stalin…we can pretty much rely on it that any advice Hiss gave was given to him by Stalin). I’d really like to find out just who it was in the military bureaucracy who signed off on urging Roosevelt to get the USSR into the Pacific war at almost any price (the alleged reason we gave away so much at Yalta is that we needed the USSR to enter the Pacific war)…anyone who checked with Nimitz and MacArthur would have quickly learned that in early 1945, we didn’t need any Soviet help, at all, in defeating Japan.
Never in the course of human history had so many people of a particular government been suborned to treason – because for a communist, allegiance is to communism, not to his or her nation. McCarthy knew this and just wanted these people out of power…
Well, I guess we will indeed have to agree to disagree, though I’m not sure why.
We (Amazona & I, at least, Mark never commented on this aspect) agree McCarthy was a leader in the Red Scare.
We agree the goal of the Red Scare – routing out communist spies – was noble.
We agree that the government – which includes the Senate, I believe – was excessive in their investigations and prosecutions, and destroyed hundred of lives.
We disagree that McCarthy holds some responsibility.
That last item, I don’t get. Mark said earlier in this thread something to the effect that “hanging out with communists is the same as hanging out with Nazis.” So someone that hangs out with communists is bad, but a leader in a movement that destroyed American lives and liberty is, what, a good guy?
Lastly, I appreciate the names you listed, Mark, and I will research them, but the evils of the Red Scare, of which we’ve agreed McCarthy was a player, are not worth the four or five spies you listed. That those spies were undetected until the 90s demonstrates how little value thay had in winning the Cold War, and yet American lives and liberty were lost for them.
How is it we disagree? I just don’t get it…
I’ll clarify – my best estimate is that the number of people who were actually falsely accused is tiny. By “falsely accused” I mean, of course, that the person, upon investigation, was found to never have been a spy, never have been a member of the Communist party, never have been closely associated with known Communists. As more time goes on, we just find out that more and more of those accused of being spies or otherwise traitors were, indeed, spies and traitors.
good thread, btw