Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Paul Ryan for Veep: The "Right" Choice

In the lead-up to Mitt Romney’s announcement of Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his vice presidential choice, ABC’s announcer solemnly assured the audience that Ryan was a good choice because he would be very low-key and that he wouldn’t “demonize” the opposition. 

It took Ryan all of six minutes to make a liar out of the ABC announcer and even his new boss, promptly trouncing Obama as an economy destroyer.  Conservatives all across the nation were cheering Romney’s selection, gleefully anticipating the first vice presidential debate.

The 42 year-old Ryan was born and raised in Janesville, Wisc.  His father died of a heart attack when Paul was 16.  Ryan was the one who found his father lying in bed dead.  His father, grandfather and great-grandfather all died from heart attacks at ages 55, 57, and 59, respectively.

As a result, Ryan became involved in health and fitness training.  Take that, Michelle Obama.  You can be sure Ryan will lead by example not excoriation when it comes to fitness.  A fitness enthusiast and Green Bay Packers fan, Ryan promotes fitness as a daily routine for young people. Ryan is careful about what he eats, performs an intense cross-training routine known as P90X (Power 90 Extreme, a home exercise program that involves nutritional and dietary planning and an exercise program called “muscle confusion”, which essentially keeps muscles from getting bored and lazy) most mornings, and has made close to 40 climbs of Colorado's “Fourteeners” (14,000-foot peaks).

Ryan graduated from Miami University in Ohio with a bachelor’s degree in economics and political science.  After graduating in 1992, at his mother Betty’s urging, Ryan accepted a position as an aide to U.S. Sen. Bob Kasten.  After Kasten was defeated by Russ Feingold in 1992, Ryan became a speechwriter and a volunteer economic analyst with Empower America, an advocacy group formed by Jack Kemp and others.  Eventually, Empower America and Citizens for a Sound America emerged in 2004, becoming Freedom Works.

Successively, he worked as legislative director for Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, and speechwriter for Congressman Jack Kemp.  In 1998, Ryan himself won election to the House of Representatives.  Once in Congress, he offered various economic budget plans, most of which did not pass the Democrat Senate, but drew notice from Conservative members of the GOP.  He is now head of the House Budget Committee, no small matter for a vice presidential nominee.

Ryan’s acceptance speech this morning was outstanding, and put even the best of Obama’s speeches to shame.  Here’s a guy who knows how to deliver a well-written speech with energy and enthusiasm.  Not bad for a numbers-cruncher.

Romney accidentally introduced him as the next president of the United States.  Someday that may actually come true – and it certainly won’t be a “mistake.”  Ryan’s critics predict that, as he’s been in Congress for 14 years and thus “an inside,r” that he’ll succumb to deal-making and promise-breaking.

CBS News notes:  “As a 28-year-old, Ryan entered Congress brimming with idealistic views about forcing government to become leaner and less intrusive, principles he thought even fellow Republicans were abandoning too readily.

“’One of the first lessons I learned was, even if you come to Congress believing in limited government and fiscal prudence once you get here you are bombarded with pressure to violate your conscience and your commitment to help secure the people’s natural right to equal opportunity,’” Ryan wrote in a 2010 book.”  CBS’ report doesn’t mean he became one of them.  He doesn’t seem to have lost his limited-government vision at all.

Critics question Ryan’s own consistency. They note that he backed a costly prescription drug benefit during Republican George W. Bush’s presidency that added strain to the Medicare budget, which Ryan touted at the time as “one of the most critical pieces of legislation” enacted since he joined Congress. They also pointed out that he voted in favor of TARP.  He said in a June interview with The Associated Press that he took a “defensive” vote to ward off a more expensive Senate version. More recently, Ryan served on a bipartisan presidential debt commission but balked at its report because a tax increase was on the menu of options.

ABC News noted these five “problematic items” about vice presidential nominee Ryan:

“1. His budget plans include big cuts, and there's ample room for Democrats to continue with their “Romneyhood narrative.”  The nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates 62 percent of Ryan’s cuts are to programs for the poor.

2. Ryan’s budget proposals have included big changes to Medicare - including gradually replacing the program with a voucher program for private health care, and gradually raising the retirement age. That could scare older Americans, a crucial voting bloc.

3. He voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. While a lot of other Republicans did too, and it was proposed by the Bush administration, some have viewed it as a rejection of the conservative economic values Ryan and hard-line fiscal conservatives espouse.

4. He's easily pegged as Washington insider. He's been in Congress since 1999, and before that he worked as a congressional staffer.  Congressional approval ratings are abysmally low- a recent CBS News/NY Times poll showed that only 12 percent of voters approve of the way Congress is doing its job.

5. This is both a pro and a con to Ryan, depending on who you ask, but he's notably further to the left on the issue of lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender rights than the base of the party. He broke with a lot of his party to support the Employee Non-Discrimination Act in 2007. He explained his reasoning for the vote in this way: ‘They [his gay friends] didn't roll out of bed one morning and choose to be gay. That's who they are.’”

Well, here’s the problem with ABC’s “problems”:

1.       The Democrats are welcome to continue with their ‘Romneyhood narrative.’  However, their narrative is problematic since Robin Hood was the hero who allegedly stole from the rich to give to the poor.  Historically, what Robin did was “steal from the government” and give the taxes back to the working people who had paid those taxes.  Robin couldn’t give anything back to the poor; they were already in debtors’ prisons.  In a bad economy like this, with high unemployment and an increasing deficit, raising taxes will be a hard sell for Obama, which he’ll have to do just to pay for Obamacare alone.  Pit a “community organizer” against a successful businessman and an economist (who delivers dynamite speeches)?  Please.  The bigger the cuts, the better.

2.      Ryan’s budget changes to Medicare are nothing compared to Obama’s.  Ryan (and Romney) have no intention of pulling the rug out from the millions of elderly who have come to depend upon this program, which initially was only supposed to support the indigent elderly, not the 83 percent of the elderly who could afford their own health care (at the time).  The change is gradual and in concert with a better health care reform that will make health care more affordable.  Wouldn’t it be great if you didn’t have to depend on either the government OR your employer for your health insurance?  Wouldn’t you really feel better if you only had to buy insurance for hospitalization and catastrophic illness, picking up the bills for things like check-ups, over-the-counter medications, and (gasp!) contraception yourself?  If you did, nobody would be able to “check up” on you later on.

3.      Ryan voted for TARP.  So did a lot of damned fools.  The silver lining in that cloud is that this wrong-headed move led to the birth of the TEA parties.  We’ve made it loud and clear that no one is ever going to sucker us again into believing “we have to do this” or “we have to do that” or the economic sky will fall.  Personally, I forgive Paul Ryan.  My older brother and even my mother were dumb enough to fall for that henny-penny warning that our economy would crash.  It has crashed – I’m now unemployed – and here we are, trying to pick up the pieces.  Just don’t do it again, Mr. Ryan.

4.      He’s easily pegged as a Washington insider.  Is he?  Why don’t we take  a look at what Americans for Prosperity’s Taxpayer Scorecard says?   Well, lookey what we have here:  AFP gave Congressman Paul Ryan a 95% (A) grade for being a fiscal conservative in 2010 (the 111th Congress).  Charles Rangel got 0 %.  There were other Republicans who got 100 percent, but 95% is cool.  If Ryan’s a Washington “insider,” then he’s the kind of insider we need.

5.      Ryan has gay friends.  That kind of "accusation" is so 1960, when the Sodomy Laws (which were state laws) were still in effect and the police could haul a homosexual off to jail for having sex with a consenting adult in his or her own home.  Even back then, my Conservative parents felt that, while homosexuality was morally wrong, so was putting someone in jail for doing something with a consenting adult that broke no other laws in the privacy of their own home.  There the Liberals go again, confusing us with Neanderthal Klansmen (who voted Democrat, not Republican in the “old” South).  The Republicans wrote and supported all the Civil Rights acts, not the Democrats.  Conservatives don’t have a problem with gay people.  They only have a problem with Liberal gay people forcing unwilling clergymen, through feeral litigation, to marry them.

Conservatives weren’t too sure about Mitt Romney.  He seems kind of moderate, but he certainly is trying, as is Gov. Christie.  Gov. Romney took a giant leap forward today in guaranteeing the Conservative vote on Nov. 6th.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Why I Stopped Watching the Olympics

“I speak for all mediocrities of the world.  I am their patron saint.  Mediocrities everywhere, I absolve you all,”  Antonio Salieri, Amadeus (1984)

Although I’m in no way athletically-inclined, a true athletic mediocrity, I was looking forward to watching the Summer Olympics as a diversion from the daily battle with the Neighbor from Hell.  I’m not keen on every sport in the Olympics – tennis, for instance, just leaves me bored.  But I enjoy the swimming and track and field events.  Basketball, especially women’s basketball, is not on the top of my list, but it was either that or take part in the Tattooed Lady Throw, for which I’d score foul points, so Women’s Basketball it was.

The Americans were playing against the Chinese.  One of them – I’m not sure which:  7, 10, 11, or 13; I only know she was very tall and muscular – spent most of the time I watched (which wasn’t long), fouling the smaller Chinese players.  The last time I knew or cared anything about basketball, knocking opponents out of the way, pushing them, shoving, and even sending one tumbling in a somersault was a considered a foul.  Not once did I hear a whistle or see any flags.  I never saw the Chinese players who were fouled given a chance at the basket.  The game simply went on its merry way, with the Chinese losing to the U.S. 114-66.

Far be it from me to root for the Chinese against my own country’s team.  Still, after I watched this amazon knocking the Chinese players down like bowling pins, I began to hope that the Chinese would win.  What kind of game was this?  What happened to fair play and good sportsmanship?  I’d heard that basketball was the most violent, unsportsmans-like game in the whole world of athletics, even past football and rugby.  When I saw it, I believed it.  I turned it off and haven’t watched the Olympics since.

There’s another reason I turned off the Olympics.  That’s when I heard on Rush Limbaugh’s program that the Olympics were rigged.  Only a country’s three top-scoring players could compete.  That meant that if a fourth-ranked German diver was better than, say, a first-placed Australian diver, he still couldn’t compete.  This is all part of the New World Olympics evidently, as we witnessed in the Opening Ceremonies.

The Olympics are no longer about watching the best, the most-skilled compete, but the mediocre, the violently aggressive.  Socialism triumphs over Athleticism.  Instead of gold, silver, and bronze medals, perhaps they’ll hand out brass, aluminum foil, and lead medals.  They’ll cost much less and everyone can then get a brass-plated participation award and everyone will be happy.

I turned on the Olympics to watch winners and I wound watching whackers and whiners instead.  We can’t all be winners, but surely we can do our best and if we lose, lose with good grace and sportsmanship and not need society to hand us consolation prizes.  Pity is a very poor consolation prize indeed.  Such a thing, rather than consoling us, magnifies our mediocrity.

We mediocrities would rather you just let us leave the field in peace.  Even if we go home without a medal, we will still, at the least, retain our dignity.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

Who doesn’t want to be a millionaire?  Who wouldn’t love to live the lifestyle of the rich and famous?  Who wouldn’t love to live in a spacious mansion with servants, crystal chandeliers, and an indoor swimming pool?  Who wouldn’t love to drive around in a $400,000 Maserati, have a vacation home in the Caribbean, a villa in Aspen, and a townhouse in London or Paris?  What woman wouldn’t love to buy a $500 pair of shoes and a dress costing $2,000?

There is a superclass of people who can do these things and we gnash our teeth in envy at their lifestyles, in defiance of our scriptures that tell us envy is just as much of a sin as greed.  We then run into the nearby supermarket and spend our money on lottery tickets in the hopes that fortune will smile upon us and we, too, can be the envy of our neighbors.

The U.S. government levied progressive income taxes on its citizens as early as the War of 1812.  These were temporary taxes, usually to support a war.  In 1913, Congress passed the 16th Amendment, just before William Howard Taft left office, stating:   The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

Progressives have spent decades convincing us that the wealthy are evil schemers who are getting rich off the backs of the working people.  Yet, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the 10 percent of households with the highest incomes pay more than half of all federal taxes.  They pay more than 70 percent of federal income taxes.  While there may be individual millionaires who pay taxes at lower rates, they’re not even the One-Percenters about whom we’ve been told.  In 2009, 1,470 households filed tax returns with incomes above $1 million, yet paid no federal income tax, according to the Internal Revenue Service.  That’s less than one percent of the nearly 237,000 returns with incomes above $1 million.

According to the Tax Policy Center, for the Fiscal Year 2011, households making more than $1 million paid an average 29.1 percent of their income in federal taxes, including income taxes, payroll taxes, and other taxes.  Households with incomes between $50,000 and $75,000 paid an average of 15 percent in federal income taxes; households making between $40,000 and $50,000 paid an average of 12.5 percent and those making between $20,000 and $30,000 paid 5.7 percent.

You might think that’s fair; that the wealthy should pay more since they have more.  What’s not fair is to accuse them of not paying their fair share when they’re paying our share and more.  What’s more, they use fewer public services.  They pay more for our police officers, firefighters, teachers, and sanitation but they’re less likely to commit violent crime, are generally more careful with their property, and send their children to private schools, while still paying more than their fair share for educating our children.  And they create jobs.  Your jobs.

Finally, ask yourself what you’ve done to make yourself wealthier.  How well did you do in school?  Do you clip coupons?  Do you put away money for your retirement?  Do you pay your credit card bill on time?  Do you have a fixed rate mortgage?  Do you save and invest your money, or do you gamble it away in Atlantic City, trying to get rich quick?

Harry “Red Herring” Reid is hot on the trail of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to pressure him to reveal his income tax records for the last ten years.  He’s accusing Romney of being a tax-evading criminal, one of those less-than-one-percenters who paid no income tax.  Harry must be thinking of former Soviet Union-style justice, where the accusation was enough to send you to the gulag; it’s up to Harry to prove that Romney is a criminal.  Wayne Allyn Root has the right idea – let Romney challenge Obama – Romney’s taxes for Obama’s college records, which will indicate whether or not Obama was admitted to school as a foreign exchange student.

Mona Charen’s column in today’s National Review Online notes:

“…there is no reason to believe that voters will hold Romney’s wealth against him. Americans don’t envy the rich; they aspire to become rich themselves. Class envy has limited appeal. Among recent prominent American politicians, it’s challenging to find a single one who is not a millionaire. Harry Reid has a net worth estimated at between $2.6 million and $5 million. Nancy Pelosi recently lost $8 million, bringing her net worth down to $26.4 million. John Boehner is said to have $1.7 million.

 Hillary Clinton, one of the most popular political figures in the country, is worth about $85 million. No one objected to her wealth when she ran in 2008, and no one suggests it would be a handicap in the future.

Ross Perot made history in 1992 and 1996, getting more votes than any third-party candidate in history. Voters didn’t resent his status as a billionaire; they admired it.

Al Gore could have picked up the tab when dining with the Clintons. His net worth clocks in at about $100 million. But he could have asked John Kerry to do likewise, as Kerry’s fortune is about $240 million.”

Obama’s camp is engaging in a witch hunt in which he may (figuratively and politically-speaking) wind up being burned at the stake on Nov. 6th.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Sikh the Truth

Our belated prayers go out to the families of the seven Sikhs murdered by white supremacist Wade Michael Page on Sunday in Oak Creek, Wisc.

Since 9/11, the Sikh community has been targeted because of their confusion with Muslims.  In fact, the Sikh religion is a generally peaceful religion that “keeps to itself” – like the Jews, they don’t seek converts, just peace.  That’s not to say that they won’t fight, especially in the face of tyranny.  Many Sikhs received the Victoria Cross during World Wars I and II.

Guru Nank Dev Ji founded Sikhism in the 15th century in the Punjab region of South Asia.  The term “sikh” in Sanskrit means disciple of student.  Over the centuries, the Sikhs have found themselves at odds with Indian Hindus, because the Sikhs don’t believe in the caste system, and of course, the Muslims – as everyone finds themselves these days.   

The Sikhs do believe in reincarnation, or karma.  Sikh is defined as “any human being who faithfully believes in One Immortal Being; the teachings of the ten Gurus and the baptism bequeathed by the tenth Guru; and who does not owe allegiance to any other religion.”  Sikhs believe in the equality of humankind, the concept of universal brotherhood of man and One Supreme God (Ik Onkar).

Most male Sikhs have Singh (lion) and most female Sikhs Kaur (princess) as their surname. Sikhs who have undergone the khanḍe-kī-pahul, the Sikh initiation ceremony, can also be recognized by the Five Ks: uncut hair (Kesh); an iron/steel bracelet (kara); a Kirkpan, a sword tucked in a gatra strap; Kachehra, a type of special shorts; and a Kanga, a small comb to keep the hair clean. Male Sikhs cover their hair with a turban, while female Sikhs may wear a turban or a headscarf.
As for what Wade Michael Page believed, white supremacism is a “theology” repugnant to all civilized Americans.  The Left is always trying to link Conservatives and Tea Partiers to these monsters who take the “manifest destiny” of the Caucasian race to the ultimate fate – killing those who aren’t like them.

The Sikhs believe in facing down tyranny.  According to one account, the temple priest fended off the killer with a butter knife until the women and children could get to safety before Page killed him.  Eventually, Page died in a shootout with the police outside the temple.  Accounts differ about how he met his end.  Initial reports said the police brought him down.  Today, the FBI said that he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Since 9/11, authorities report that bias attacks have increased on Sikhs because of their resemblance to Muslims.  Although it may anger Hindus, in fact, they are good Americans, for they believe in freedom of worship just as we do.   The Sikh community has our deepest sympathy.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

"Rooting" Out Obama's Past

Why, oh why, does Harry Reid lie, accusing GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney of ten years of tax evasion?  The IRS, now Obama’s own collection agency, surely would have caught up with Romney by now.  Ten years’ worth of a millionaire’s taxes is a lot of moo-lah.  If he has tax returns that Reid wants exposed, then the IRS already knows all about Romney.  They have investigators who live for the sport of hunting down tax evaders.  They can also add.

For one thing, the Obama camp wants to use Romney as a One-Percent whipping boy.  If you read any of the books about Obama such as Radical-in-Chief (Kurtz) or Culture of Corruption (Malkin), the notion of Obama taking on millionaires is absolutely risible.  He’s wined and dined millionaires far wealthier – and more useful – than Romney.  His vice president is a corrupt millionaire with a long list of quid pro quos (this for that).

Secondly, Obama knows a lot more books are out about him, exposing his radical upbringing through Frank Marshall Davis, his early decision to choose “community” (remember, the Greek word for “community” is polis – that is, political) organizing, his dirty dealings in Chicago, and his choice of not just socialist but outright communist assistants (particularly David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, who inherited their communist ideals from close family relations).  There are a lot more books out and a lot more people reading them.  If we can’t get our news from The Media, we’ll get it at  Real book lovers will be glad to know that the Books-A-Million store franchise is expanding – there’s one in Paramus Park Mall, on the second level, directly across from Chick-Fil-A.

Thirdly, there’s an independent researcher named Wayne Allyn Root, a former Libertarian vice presidential nominee and author of “The Conscience of a Libertarian” on the Obama trail.  Glenn Beck’s the Blaze features his column today.  Root says there’s a reporter in Indonesia right now who has absolute proof that Obama was an Indonesian citizen.  Root claims that Obama used his status as a foreign exchange student to obtain scholarships and favored admission to exclusive – and expensive – American colleges:  Occidental, Columbia University, and Harvard Law School.  Obama may be trying to distact Conservatie newshounds from exposing his past, using his own Harry "Red-Herring" Reid.

Root says he was a classmate of Obama’s and graduated the same year, 1983.

“We were both (according to Obama) Pre-Law and Political Science majors. And I thought I knew most everyone at Columbia. I certainly thought I’d heard of all of my fellow Political Science majors. But not Obama (or as he was known then- Barry Soetoro). I never met him. Never saw him. Never even heard of him. And none of the classmates that I knew at Columbia have ever met him, saw him, or heard of him.”

Root went on to become a Las Vegas oddsmaker.  He admits he only has his own testimony and that of his former classmates.  But he’s willing to “bet” that Obama isn’t hiding his school records because he was such a great student.  Root is urging Romney to call Reid’s bluff and offer to make his tax records public, but only if Obama makes all his college records public.
Root is willing to bet Obama will lose.  He cites a 2008 Wall Street Journal article, which noted Obama’s lack of transparency about his college records.  The WSJ noted that many contemporary presidential candidates – Bush, McCain, Gore, Kerry – were poor, “C” students, so there would be no academic reason for him to hide his records.  The WSJ suspected some sort of racial prejudice.  The paper also noted he graduated from Harvard Law magna cum laude, and was the president of the Harvard Law Review (allegedly without ever having written a single article).

 Root notes that at Columbia, Obama went by the name of Barry Soetero (his step-father’s name).  According to the WSJ, “Others speculate about ties to the Black Students Organization, though students active then don't seem to remember him. And on the far reaches of the Web can be found conspiracies about former Carter national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski, who became the candidate's ‘guru and controller’ while at Columbia in the early 1980s. Mr. Brzezinski laughs, and tells us he doesn’t ‘remember meeting him.’”

Stanley Kurtz’ research proves that Obama didn’t become involve in Black student organizations (although he hung out with them) – he hung out with Socialists and Communists.  He attended the 1983 Socialist Scholars Conference, normally held at New York University, but held that year at Cooper Union to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Karl Marx.  Marx visited the Cooper Union and the ecstatic college returned the favor by throwing a birthday party for him.

Kurtz says that Obama had the opportunity to make many connections at that, and subsequent conferences.  The author believes that the future made his career decision at that point, influenced by his mentor Frank Marshall Davis (wait until you read The Communist:  The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor by Paul Kengor, Ph.D – hey, Simon & Schuster/Mercury Ink:  there’s no period after the D in Ph.D.  Except at the end of a sentence.  If you need an experienced proofreader, I’m available.  Anyway, FMD had a real gripe against General Motors.) and the Socialists with whom he networked.

Everyone needs to read these books and columns about Obama by Conservative authors and pass the word on.  You know we’re never going to hear about any of this from the Mainstream Media.  Never mind The Hunger Games.  Put aside your supermarket paperbacks.  Throw them to the seagulls and start doing some real reading.  We have less than 90 days.  Start a Conservative book club.  Every member, take a book, like The Communist or The Amateur, start reading it – quickly – make notes and report back to your club.

Do your Obamawork!

Monday, August 06, 2012

Socialist Student Activities

The Student League for Industrial Democracy, the collegiage off-shoot of the League for Industrial Democracy, like all adolescents, wanted to assert its independence from its parent.  In 1935, it merged with other groups to form the American Student Union.

The American Student Union (ASU) was a national left-wing organization of college students of the 1930s, best remembered for its protest activities against militarism. Founded by a 1935 merger of Communist and Socialist student organizations, the ASU was affiliated with the American Youth Congress American Youth Congress. The group was investigated by Dies Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives in 1939 over its connections to the Communist Party USA.  With the group's Communist-dominated leadership consistently supportive of the twists and turns of Soviet foreign policy, the Socialist minority split from the group in 1939. The organization was terminated in 1941.

Communist International, or the Comintern, as it was known, held a theory based on its economic and political analysis of world capitalism, which posited the division of recent history into three periods. These included a “First Period” that followed World War I and saw the revolutionary upsurge and defeat of the working class class, as well as a “Second Period” of capitalist consolidation for most of the decade of the 1920s. According to the Comintern's analysis, the current phase of world economy from 1928 onward, the so-called “Third Period,” was to be a time of widespread economic collapse and mass working class radicalization. This economic and political discord would again make the time ripe for proletarian revolution if militant policies were rigidly maintained by the Communist vanguard party (Comintern), the Comintern believed.

Following the rise of Adolf Hitler in Germany, the party line of the world communist movement was changed from the ultra-radicalism of the so-called “Third Period”, which shrilly condemned Social Democrats as “Social Fascists," to a new phase of broad left wing cooperation known as the Popular Front.  Efforts immediately followed on the part of the Communist Party-sponsored Natioanl Student League (NSL) to unite with its Socialist Party counterpart, which in the middle 1930s was effectively the Student League for Industrial Democracy (SLID).

Initial peace feelers extended by the Communists to the Socialists were rejected in December 1932, but with the European situation worsening two joint conferences of the rival left wing groups were held in 1933 — one in Chicago under Communist auspices and another in New York City headed by the League for Industrial Democracy.   The two groups decided to retain their separate existence but to work together on matters of common concern, which paved the way for several joint activities which took place in 1934 and the first half of 1935.

In June 1935, Joseph P. Lash of the SLID proposed at a meeting of the organization's governing National Executive Committee that the organization should appoint a committee to negotiate a formal merger with the NSL. The NEC of SLID was divided on the matter, but after extensive debate ultimately resolved to appoint a six-member negotiating committee.

Following negotiations between the two participating groups, a Unity Convention of the NSL and SLID was held over the  Christmas holidays at the YMCA building in Columbus, Ohio.  Thus, the American Student Union was born. 

There was discord in the ASU over the organization's changing position to European armament after
1938, with the Socialist-oriented members generally favoring continuation of the organization's historic
opposition to militarism and Communist-oriented members arguing in favor of rearmament and
collective in Europe. The break came the following year, however, with the November 1939 Soviet
invasion of Finland.   The ASU leadership, consisting by that time of a Communist majority, dutifully
supported the military action of the Soviet Union, prompting the Socialist minority to split the

The ASU continued forward as a more clearly-defined Communist youth organization from that date
and entered a period of organizational decline. The group held its final convention in 1941.

The Student League for Industrial Democracy continued on with its work.  Its parent organization, the
League for Industrial Democracy still wanted to have a campus presence.  In the late 1930s and early
war years they organized summer institutes to educate students in union organizing and sponsored
lecture tours by Joel Seidman and LeRoy Bower.

After the war, with the campus population swelling with returning veterans on the GI Bill, renewed
interest in the LID began to be felt at the grassroots. The first post-war campus chapter was founded by
Frank Wallick at Antioch College. The LID engaged Jesse Cavileer and Elizabeth Healy to begin an
organizing tour of the country’s colleges, setting up SLID chapters at City College of New York,
Brooklyn College, Harvard and Cornell.

During the Christmas break of 1946-1947, a provisional conference was held at the Rand School to
reconstitute SLID. It was attended by representatives of 30 colleges and three high schools.  Forty
delegates from twelve schools attended the SLIDS first official post-war convention in April 1947 at
the Labor Temple in New York.  Papanek was elected president, John Roche vice-president and
Hannah Kaiser secretary. The convention passed a resolution banning all “totalitarians” from
membership, a measure designed to keep out Communists and other infiltrators. The Cornell chapter
was tasked with publishing a national organ, SLID Voice.

SLID enjoyed popularity in the immediate post-war years, before the concept of the Cold War and
McCarthyism had set in. By 1948 it had 700 members. The group’s activities during this period
included collecting funds to aid striking workers, walking on picket lines, toured Saskatchewan,
Canada (which had recently elected a social democratic government), successfully protesting against
segregation at the University of Michigan, less successfully against censorship of student publications
and organizing an annual leadership institute at Port Huron, Mich., at a facility jointly owned by the
Michigan CIO and the UAW.  Internationally the group led protests against the 1948 coup in
Czechoslovakia and repression against student activists in East Germany.

The SLID’s second official post-war convention was held in December 1947 at Wayne State
University in Detroit, in conjunction with a conference on “Community Sources of Prejudice.”
Fifty-one delegates from 16 colleges were present. The following year four regional committees were
formed: Ohio, Michigan, metropolitan New York and Upstate New York. Most of the organizers had
no difficulty establishing SLID recognition on campus.

The fortunes of the group declined sharply in the 1950s, and near the end of the decade it had under 100
active members.  Because of the escalating Cold War abroad and the dramatic rise and decline of the
Henry Wallace Progressive Movement (a third-party candidate running for president under the
Progressive ticket, endorsed by the Communist Party) at home, the SLID canceled its 1949
convention. Instead they met in April 1950, at the Rand School, where they approved more plans for
summer institutes and student opinion surveys. They also began to co-sponsor a lecture series with the
Young People’s Socialist League and Students for Democratic Action called "Conflicting Ideologies
of Our Time" which featured such speakers as Daniel Bell, Aaron Levenstein, and Ruth Fischer. SLID
also acquired one of their most famous leaders that year, James Farmer, who became Student Field

Farmer was a civil rights activist and leader in the civil rights movement.  He was the initiator and
organizer of the 1961 Freedom Ride, which eventually led to the desegregation of inter-state t
ransportation in the United States.

By the June 1951 convention in Detroit membership was down to 500. Farmer set out on an energetic
organizing tour of the Midwest from October 1951 to October 1952, visiting 22 colleges and 10 high
schools. The next spring, he also toured the West Coast.  In February 1953, Harry Lewak became an
organizer in New York. Through these efforts the SLID was able to maintain an active presence on
several important campuses, including Antioch, Oberlin, Harvard and Wayne, but the organization was
still in decline. In reference to group’s situation, its 1953 convention announced the beginning of  
“Operation Bootstrap,”  a series of initiatives to revive the group.

Factional problems also hindered the SLIDs progress. Bogdan Denitch, a Shachtmanite member
organized a “Red Caucus” with SLID and took control of the CCNY Evening Session chapter. 
Schachtmamism is a form of Marxism associated with Max Schachtman. It has two major components:
a bureaucratic collectivist analysis of the Soviet Union and a third camp approach to world politics.
Shachtmanites believe that the Stalinist rulers of Communist countries are a new ruling class distinct
from the workers and reject Trotsky’s description of Stalinist Russia as a “degenerated workers state.”

This group tried to change the nature of SLID toward a more Leninist “disciplined” group. After a
two-year fight with the National executive Committee they were expelled.

By the mid to late 1950s SLID had about 100 members and possibly three active chapters, the most
important one at Yale. The 1957 convention drew 39 delegates and the 1958 convention only 13. A
report of an organizing tour of the mid-west in 1938 recorded on functioning chapter at Madison,
Wisconsin, three to eight members at Ann Arbor, and one member each at Oberlin, Ohio State, Indiana,
Purdue and Minnesota.

SLID was represented at the founding convention of the National Student Association in Madison,
Wisc. in September 1948, and remained affiliated through the 1950s. According to Andre Schiffrin,
leader of the Yale chapter and later SLID president, none of the SLIDers were aware of that group’s
ties to the CIA.  In early 1952 SLID became an associate (non-voting) member of the International
Union of Socialist Youth.  It had to be an associate member because of its status as a tax exempt
“educational” association, which allowed union subsidies to LID and SLID.  In 1953, SLID affiliated
 itself with the Young Adult Council, the U.S. division of the World Assembly of Youth.

The fortunes of the group began to turn around in the late 1950s when Al Haber joined the SLID
chapter at Ann Arbor.  He was able to launch a radical student political party, VOICE.  Haber was
elected SLID vice-president in 1959, and became, successively, field organizer and president in 1960.
At his suggestion the group changed its name to the Students for a Democratic Society.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Socialism Goes to Work

In 1921, a faction of the Fabian Society broke off from the main group, calling themselves the League of Industrial Democracy.  They still held with the Fabian philosophy – in fact, they brought it with them.  LID wanted to make a broad impact on the world, especially the working world.  They saw promise in the growing dissatisfaction of nascent labor unions, which had begun forming in the mid-19th Century.  The labor movement’s anger was the perfect vehicle for their proposed reformation of the world.

The origins of unions' existence can be traced from the 18th century, where the rapid expansion of industrial society drew women, children, rural workers, and immigrants to the work force in numbers and in new roles. This pool of unskilled and semi-skilled labor spontaneously organized in fits and starts throughout its beginnings.  Later, it would be fertile garden for the development of trade unions. Trade unions as such were endorsed by the Catholic Church towards the end of the 19th century. Pope Leo XIII in his “Magna Carta”—Rerum Novarum—spoke against the atrocities workers faced and demanded that workers should be granted certain rights and safety regulations.

Trade unions are the successors to the guilds of medieval Europe, though the relationship between the two is disputed.  Medieval guilds existed to protect and enhance their members’ livelihoods through controlling the instructional capital of artisanship and the progression of members from apprentice to craftsman, journeyman, and eventually to master and grandmaster of their craft.  A trade union might include workers from only one trade or craft, or might combine several or all the workers in one company or industry. These things varied from region to region, based on the specific industrialization path taken in the place in question.

Trade unions and/or collective bargaining were outlawed from no later than the middle of the 14th century when the Ordinance of Labourers was enacted in the Kingdom of England. Union organizing would eventually be outlawed everywhere and remain so until the middle of the 19th century.

Since the publication of the History of Trade Unionism (1894) by Sidney and Beatrice Webb, the predominant historical view is that a trade union “is a continuous association of wage earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment.” A modern definition by the Australian Bureau of Statistics states that a trade union is “an organisation consisting predominantly of employees, the principal activities of which include the negotiation of rates of pay and conditions of employment for its members.”

Yet historian R.A. Lesson, in United We Stand (1971), said:

“Two conflicting views of the trade-union movement strove for ascendancy in the nineteenth century: one the defensive-restrictive guild-craft tradition passed down through journeymen's clubs and friendly societies, ... the other the aggressive-expansionist drive to unite all 'labouring men and women' for a 'different order of things'.”
Recent historical research by Bob James in Craft, Trade or Mystery (2001) puts forward the view that trade unions are part of a broader movement of benefit societies, which includes medieval guilds, Freemasons,Oddfellows, friendly societies, and other fraternal organizations.

Adam Smith noted the imbalance in the rights of workers in regards to owners (or “masters”). In The Wealth of Nations, Book I, chapter 8, Smith wrote:

“We rarely hear, it has been said, of the combination of masters, though frequently of those of workmen. But whoever imagines, upon this account, that masters rarely combine, is as ignorant of the world as of the subject. Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labor above their actual rate.  When workers combine, masters ... never cease to call aloud for the assistance of the civil magistrate, and the rigorous execution of those laws which have been enacted with so much severity against the combination of servants, labourers, and journeymen.”

As Smith noted, unions were illegal for many years in most countries, although he argued that price or wage fixing by employers or employees should remain illegal. There were severe penalties for attempting to organize unions, up to and including execution. Despite this, unions were formed and began to acquire political power, eventually resulting in labor laws that not only legalized organizing efforts, but codified the relationship between employers and those employees organized into unions. Even after the legitimization of trade unions there was opposition.

In 1921, LID assumed its new name and enlarged its scope to addressing society at large. LID’s stated purpose was to “throw light on the world-wide movement of industrial democracy known as socialism.” In 1922 Norman Thomas, the many-times presidential candidate from the Socialist Party, joined Harry Laidler as co-executive director of the LID.  Its campus presence waned until the Great Depression of the 1930s led to an increase in radical student activism. The collegiate section was reorganized into an autonomous Student League for Industrial Democracy in 1933. This merged with the Communist National Student League in 1935 to create the popular front American Student Union.  LID activity on campus remained somewhat dormant until 1946, when the Student League for Industrial Democracy was reconstituted.

According to Right

“In its early years, the LID addressed serious societal problems such as child labor, poverty, inadequate housing, the working conditions in factories, and the growth of monopolies. It became the home for those leftwing intellectuals known as the ‘Muckrakers.’ During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the LID initiated radio broadcasts and conferences to discuss the programs of the New Deal.  At that time the LID numbered among its members such influential intellectuals and labor leaders as Roger Baldwin, John Dewey, David Dubinsky, Sidney Hillman, Reinhold Neibuhr, and Walter Reuther. In the 1950s and 1960s, it was an active supporter of the civil rights movement.

Throughout its history, the LID has called itself a proponent of the labor movement, seeing it as a progressive force that is misunderstood by students and intellectuals. Its stated goal is to break down these perceived barriers by conducting “education for
increasing democracy in our economic, political, and cultural life.”

LID’s literature portrays the organization as a progressive, socialist labor group. However, in recent
history LID shifted from its progressive roots. In the 1950s the LID's pro-labor activities took on a
different slant when the group became involved with the CIA in efforts to combat communism. Today,
the organization is dominated by anticommunists. It focuses its energies on “democracy building”
programs in Eastern Europe, Africa, and Central America, and gives little energy to its domestic
program. Its board is composed mainly of neoconservatives associated with the Social Democrats,
USA and the international divisions of the AFL-CIO. The latter, the  Free Trade Union Institute
(FUTI) and its subsidiaries, the American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD), the
African American Labor Center and the Asian American Free Labor Institute, receive the vast majority
 of their funding from the U.S. government and are considered by many to be quasigovernmental
organizations that carry out U.S. foreign policy.”

However, LID was not above feting such Labor notables as George Meany, head of the AFL-CIO.  The
fact that their board features neocons associated with Social Democrats USA and international
divisions of the AFL-CIO is not necessarily a health sign.

The LID shifted from its progressive roots, having achieved its modest goals of child labor laws and
other safety reforms; its student affiliate, Student League for Industrial Democracy did not.  The
Student League for Industrial Democracy would give birth to the next generation:  Students for a
Democratic Society.  But SLID still had much work to do before SDS could take over.