Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Parsing Kyrillos

Reading The Bergen Record’s top of the page headline this past Thursday (Aug. 16), was enough to set any Tea Party Conservative’s hair on fire:

“GOP hopeful open to tax hikes”

Underneath that headline, reporter Herb Jackson’s sub-header read:  “Menendez foe would consider closing some loopholes, deductions”

“Taking an extremely rare stance for a Republican Senate candidate in 2012, New Jersey nominee Joe Kyrillos said he is willing to support “smart” tax increases on wealthier residents, trying to distance himself from the budget philosophy of presumptive GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan.”

That’s what Herb Jackson, Washington Correspondent for the Bergen Record, said.  In his lead, there’s only one actual quotation-marked word:  “smart.”  None of this is what Kyrillos said.  Or what smart, conservative economists say.  Kyrillos and the “smart” economists agree.

“Analysts and consultants who track races around the country could not name another Republican Senate candidate who has gone as far as Kyrillos has on taxes.”

No, because they all pretty much agree on closing tax loopholes and deductions.  The question is, can you name another reporter who has gone as far as Jackson has in distorting a candidate’s position?  If you can, e-mail me, and I’ll publish their names in another post.

Just to make sure that Kyrillos is alienated from the Conservative base, Jackson continued on to say:  “A long-time ally of Governor Christie, Kyrillos may be seeking to capitalize on the popular Republican governor’s reputation for forging compromises with the Democratic-controlled Legislature, which has kept Trenton from being as gridlocked by divided rule as Washington is.”

Although in the beginning, Christie was definitely a moderate, by his own admission, he’s gone to the mat for Conservatives, vetoing a number of Liberal issues such as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.  Any friend of Christie’s is a friend ours.  Forging deals with the Democrats hasn’t kept us from being gridlocked; Christie’s vetoes have kept us from becoming the Communist Commonwealth of New Jersey.  He may be socially moderate, but Christie is most definitely a fiscal Conservative.  Thereby, so is Joe Kyrillos.

Jackson quotes Kyrillos in an interview on Aug. 14, 2012, as saying, “I understand over time we’re going to have to raise more revenue.”

One local Tea Party group was quite alarmed at this point, although a guest speaker urged them to take the Bergen Record with a grain of salt.  This group is hoping to invite the Senate candidate to speak to them and clarify his stance on these issues.  Raising taxes isn’t the same as raising revenue.

According to Jackson, “Kyrillos said he would not sign the anti-tax pledge promoted by Americans for Tax Reform, as has every Republican New Jersey House incumbent and the past two candidates for Senate.  “I want to do things differently than we have done.”

Quotes can be taken out of context, and often are by Liberal reporters.  Yet, when the report continues on page 8, at which point most readers would have thrown down the newspaper in disgust, Jackson tells us “Kyrillos was vague about what taxes he’d support, other than increases for hedge fund managers.”

Jackson then gets to the bottomline (too late for most readers):  Kyrillos states, “There are dumb ways to raise [revenue] and smart ways to raise it.  Bob Menendez wants to raise income tax rates, which I think is wrong in this economy.  I’m for simplifying the tax code [as is Paul Ryan] and getting rid of deductions and loopholes, much of which are enjoyed by upper-income Americans.”

He then quotes Democrat Senator Robert Menendez who claims, “In Trenton, he voted against middle class property tax relief to protect tax breaks for the wealthiest.”  To translate, apparently that bill that would have lowered middle class property taxes while unfairly raising upper income taxes, driving the wealthy (and their businesses and our jobs) out of the state.

It’s always best to go straight to the source, if you want to know a candidate’s view on a particular issue.  The same day the article was published, Kyrillos’ campaign put out this press release, which it’s unlikely anyone got to read:

Aug. 16, 2012 - press release

Raising Revenue the Smart Way: Lowering Taxes

Let's be clear: there’s a big difference between increasing revenue by raising taxes and increasing revenue from lowering taxes while closing special interest loopholes. Raising tax rates continues to be Bob Menendez’ solution, but after voting in favor of higher taxes more than 70 times it has yielded nothing but higher unemployment and crushing debt placed squarely on the shoulders of small businesses and middle class families. Throughout my career,

I have never voted for a broad-based tax increase, and in fact have saved New Jerseyans $11.9 billion in new or higher taxes.

My position continues to be what I outlined in my comprehensive jobs plan – cut income tax rates for every family and small business, reduce our job-killing corporate tax and close the special interest tax loopholes favored by Bob Menendez’ lobbyist pals, including management fees that get treated as capital gains rather than personal income. A simpler, more efficient tax code will reward hard work, boost job creation, and raise revenue by growing the economy.

Contact Information                         

Contact Name:
Meaghan Cronin

Contact Phone Number:
(732) 221-1162

Contact E-Mail Address:

New Jersey Tea Parties should invite Joe Kyrillos to their meetings to speak to them (his campaign office phone number is right under the press release); it’s the only way they’re going to know what he really stands for.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Book of Great Price

I thought I'd ordered the last of the endangered books – books that either criticize the current administration, expose the Liberal Progressives for what they are, or revise revisionist history (in other words, the authors tell the truth).  After all, I am unemployed and have to watch my spending.

However, I consider this an important cause, not only for the sake of preserving a history that can disappear as quickly as you can say “recycle” but for my education as well as those of future generations.  Since I have no children, my books will be passed on to a campus Tea Party.

I’d barely given a sigh of relief that my spending spree was over, when I began listening to Glenn Beck discuss the plight of author David Barton.  Barton has written well over 25 books.  His latest is The Jefferson Lies.  He exposes the myths and lies that have been generated about Jefferson for about the last 30 years.  The chief generators have been black liberation theologists and their Liberal cohorts.

Warren Throckmorton, a college psychology professor, accuses Barton of making serious errors in The Jefferson Lies.  Among these errors was that Thomas Jefferson did not “invest” in the publication of a Bible of the times.  He was a “subscriber.”  However, in those days, that’s how publishers sold books.  Benjamin Franklin had subscribers as well.  On Glenn Beck’s program, Barton noted that a dictionary of the times gave “investment” as a meaning of “subscription.”

We “invest” in our educations.  I invested in a collection of books that may very well be out of print one day.  Several of my books are out of print, including China’s Destiny.  Strangely, Prof. Throckmorton gathered about him a group of gullible evangelical Christians to pressure Thomas Nelson Publishers to pull the book from the shelves, even though it’s a best-seller.

I don’t really need to read this particular book of Barton’s, though I admire him greatly.  Back in the mid-Nineties, my mother and I visited Monticello.  Being a history buff and a former reporter, Mom questioned our tour guide at length, long after the “been-there-done-that” tourists had left for the local amusement park or Williamsburg.

We’d already heard about Throckmorton’s theories and were curious as to the truth.  I knew from my history classes that it had been against the law for slave-owners to free their slaves.  According to our guide, by the end of his life, Jefferson was broke.  He would have freed the slaves, or his heirs would have, but the buyer insisted that the slaves go along with the property.

Barton tells us that slaveholders could have freed their slaves, but they had to post a bond for each slave to guarantee their conduct.  Monticello was a large estate and Jefferson had something like 120 slaves.  He didn’t have the money to pay their bonds.  Thus, they were sold, with the property, to the next owner.

As for Sally Hemming’s child, we asked our tour guide about that piece of gossip.  He said no one knew for sure.  However, Jefferson wasn’t at Monticello very often, being away on government business as legislator, ambassador, secretary of state, vice president and president, as well as penning the Declaration of Independence.    His brother Randolph, the guide said, ran his estate for him.  He looked very much like his brother, Thomas, and the suspicion was that Randolph was the father of Sally Hemming’s child, not the frequently-absent Thomas.

As for his alleged deism, a belief which states that there’s no need for organized religion, Glenn Beck produced a document signed by Thomas Jefferson, with the dated script “In the Year of Our Lord Jesus Christ, 1803.”  Critics say Jefferson didn’t write it, that he didn’t believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ, and that it was simply part of the printed text.  However, that specious argument would conclude that he wasn’t the author of any of that document’s text to which he signed his name.

Nevertheless, this Conservative Christian group was successful in pressuring Thomas Nelson Publishers into recalling the book from stores and destroying it.  Glenn rightly pointed out that the publisher’s researchers must do a terrible job of fact-checking, if the book had so many errors.  Nor, apparently, did they bother to fact-check the critic’s claims.  As editors often do, when the phone rings one too many times, or they get too many flaming e-mails, they crumple up like a piece of paper.  This fecklessness, along with the trend toward e-books and political correctness could spell the end of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and the beginning of a new age of censorship.

Censorship, if you bother to read into history, before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock, was one of the reasons the colonialists fled England for America.  The future of books – and history – is looking dim.

Even though my financial future is very uncertain, I still went to my computer and ordered up a copy of Barton’s book as soon as Glenn Beck’s program was over. no longer offers it, but I found a copy all the same and it should be on its way.  What did the Bible say about the man who, when he found a pearl of great price, he sold everything he owned to have it.

When Mom finds out I bought this book, she’ll either say, “What’s the matter with you?  You’re going to run out of money!”  Or:  “I want to read it as soon as you’re finished with it.”

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Crimes Against Marriage

While Vice President Joe Biden was shooting from the lip about hope and “chains,” a 28 year-old Virginia man, Floyd Lee Corkins II, posing as an intern at the Family Research Council’s Washington, D.C. headquarters, told a security guard, “I don’t like your politics” before shooting the guard in the arm.
The guard and others subdued Corkins, who was then taken into custody.  He’s been charged with assault with intent to kill and bringing a firearm across state lines.  Searching his backpack, authorities found a box of ammunition and 15 Chick-fil-A sandwiches.
The Family Research Council advocates conservative positions on social issues and opposes gay marriage and abortion.  Liberals look for any opportunity to blame a shooting on Conservatives and look away when their own distorted, socialist views fan the flames of insanity.  What was this particular Liberal doing with a gun, by the way?
Obama misrepresented himself during his first campaign, particularly to religiously conservative blacks and Hispanics, downplaying his stance on same-sex marriage and abortion.  Once he was elected and sworn in, his pro-marriage façade began to fade away.  According to David Limbaugh’s (yes, Rush's brother) new book, The Greater Destroyer:  Barack Obama’s War on the Republic:
“…Obama is by far the most socially liberal president in the nation’s history, a man who has reignited the nation’s culture wars and brought them to a fever pitch,” Limbaugh writes.  “A fierce abortion advocate, he holds radical views on a full range of social and cultural issues….  [his] administration reliably sides with the extreme left wing of the Democratic Party.”
Limbaugh gives factual evidence of Obama’s real stand on gay issues, “painting Conservatives and Republicans as intolerant homophobes who favor a ‘small America,’ as opposed to the inclusive ‘big America’ he purports to embrace.”
“During his [first] term, Obama also signed a hate crimes bill into law that adds “sexual orientation” as a protected class, and even extended his gay rights policy to America’s foreign affairs, introducing a gay rights declaration at the United Nations, marking the first time the U.S. had endorsed such policies in that forum.  He further mandated that U.S. foreign aid would be conditioned on the recipient country’s policy toward gay, lesbian, and transgender bias, and required all government agencies involved in foreign affairs to promote LGBT.”
Of course, that didn’t stop Obama from extending a $900 million grant to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (ostensibly in the hopes of “appeasing” the PLO), according to Limbaugh’s previous book, Crimes Against Liberty.                                                  

“While still claiming to oppose gay marriage, Obama strongly supports the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.  DOMA provides that states may refuse to recognize the validity of same-sex marriages in other states or territories; and prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages” thereby relieving clergy from performing the ceremony.”

Obama denounced DOMA as unconstitutional and indicated he would not allow the law to be enforced the law or defended in court, Limbaugh says. 

Now we come to the Family Research Council:
"When the Family Research Council sued the Justice Department for internal documents related to the decision [to strike down DOMA], the DOJ withheld 27 pages of e-mails, providing Judicial Watch to file a Freedom of Information Request lawsuit.

“Judicial Watch President Tom Fritton complained, ‘The evidence suggests the nation’s highest law enforcement is refusing to enforce the law to appease another special interest group.’”

“All of this is troubling,” Limbaugh says, “because the administration, by waging war against traditional marriage, is placing the imprimatur of government on the view that supporters of traditional marriage are somehow morally flawed and bigoted.  As Archbishop Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said, ‘Our federal government should not be presuming ill intent or moral blindness on the part of the overwhelming majority of its citizens, millions of whom have gone to the polls to directly support DOMAs in their states and have thereby endorsed marriage as the union of a man and woman.’”
Obama cagily argues for same-sex marriage as a civil rights issue, but marriage is not a “right”; it’s a privilege.  Beyond deciding what they can do with their money, homosexuals have no particular right in this case, no more than anyone else does who, for instance, might want to marry their sister, their child or their dog, or engage in bigamy or polygamy.

Limbaugh writes further, “Indeed, the DOJ argued in a brief in a recent lawsuit that federal courts should rule that treating  same-sex couples differently from married homosexual couples should be the legal equivalent of racial discrimination.”  What’s more, Obama wants a federal mandate to allow same couples to adopt children and “the Office of the Navy Chaplains issue, then rescinded, a directive requiring Navy chapels to allow same-sex wedding ceremonies.”

“The assault on traditional marriage poses a threat to religious freedom,” Limbaugh cautions. 
"According to scholar Thomas Messner, if enough people come to believe that the support for traditional marriage is tantamount to bigotry – which is the precise argument the Left often makes – then believe in traditional marriage could “come to be viewed as an unacceptable form of discrimination that should be purged from public life through legal, cultural, and economic pressure.

“This concern is neither imagined nor exaggerated.  Messner describes three principle ways religious liberty could be suppressed:

1.      Entities holding to the traditional marriage view could be denied equal access to various government benefits, and public sector employees could be subject to censorship, disciplinary action, and even termination.
2.      Individuals could be subject to greater civil liability under nondiscrimination laws that include sexual orientation and marital status as protected categories.
3.      Proponents of traditional marriage could be subject to private forms of discrimination and a climate of contempt for the expression of their views.”

We already know what can happen if you criticize a “protected” group, like the 94 percent of Blacks who voted for Obama.  While it’s not surprising, if you were to question their ignorance about the Democrat party with which they align – why would you vote for a party that included Lyndon Johnson who, while invoking the War on Poverty, laughed about the N-people – your race - would be voting Democrat “for the next 200 years” because the Democrats had basically bought their votes? – you’d be strung up socially and probably fired from your job for suggesting such a thing.

Men, of course, have known for centuries that they don’t dare criticize a woman.

That an armed Liberal burst into the Family Research Council with a gun, shooting a security guard, tells us a good deal about the Democrats and their quest for equality.  What did Obama say about bringing a gun to the fight if “they” brought a knife?

We brought our credit cards to Chick-fil-A and, just as Obama promised, “they” brought a gun.

Do read David Limbaugh’s books, Crimes Against Liberty and The Great Destroyer.  


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Socialist Studies 101

Third grade in our elementary school was the stage at which our school was supposed to introduce us to history.  We’d mastered the reading and comprehension skills necessary to understand what we were being taught.  But when I received the book, I discovered the text was about something called “social studies,” not history.

As my mother dutifully put a paper bag book cover on the text, I complained about the subject matter.

“I thought I was going to learn history?” I squawked.  “I want to learn about history, the way [my older brother] did!  It’s not fair!”

“Well, it’s become social studies and it’s very important for you to learn it.  Your brother had to learn social studies, too,” she said in that very dismissive, parental way.

My brother said, “Yeah, but that was only last year.  Before that, it was called 'History.'”

My father stood watching and listening silently, as usual.  But his eyebrow was raised in dubious alarm.  He agreed with me; that social studies was an indefinite subject category where anything could be taught.  We learned a smattering of history but it was never very lengthy or informative.  In the earlier primary grades, we were taught a little about people like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

My brothers and I were the true children of the Sixties, that is, we were schoolchildren throughout the 1960s.  We were taught transformational, Noam Chomsky grammar, New Math, and ecology.  My older brother was taught that Lindbergh did not cross the Atlantic in 1927, for which my mother had to engage in a draw-out battle with the sixth grade teacher who flunked my brother and told my mother he was retarded.  Even when my mother showed her proof of Lindberg’s Atlantic flight, she refused to recant.  Fortunately, administrators were listening and the teacher was disciplined forthwith.

Meanwhile, society was falling to pieces around us.  First, there was the Cuban Missile crisis, then JFK’s assassination, followed by riots in the ghettos.  Every night on television, it seemed, we witnessed student protests, burnings of the American flag, civil unrest in Europe, bombings, sit-downs, building take-overs on campus, and of course, the Vietnam War, over which my parents were divided.  Living in northern N.J., the riots in Newark were particularly affecting and frightening.  Social studies, indeed.

At the head of the socialist class was Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), formed in 1960.  SDS was one of the main representations of the country’s New Left. The organization developed and expanded rapidly in the mid-1960s before dissolving at its last convention in 1969.

In the academic year 1962–1963, there were nine chapters with, at most, about 1000 members. The national office (NO) in New York consisted of a few desks, some broken chairs, a couple of file cabinets and a few typewriters. As a student group with a strong belief in decentralization and a distrust for most organizations, the SDS did not have a strong central bureaucracy. The three stalwarts at the office, Don McKelvey, Steve Max, and the National Secretary, Jim Monsonis, worked long hours for little pay to service the local chapters, and to help establish new ones. Even during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October, little could be accomplished. Most activity was oriented toward civil rights issues and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) played a key role in inspiring SDS.

By the end of the academic year, there were over 200 delegates at the annual convention at Pine Hill, N.Y., from 32 different colleges and universities. It was then decided to give more power to the chapters, who would then send delegates to the National Council (NC), which would meet quarterly to handle the on-going activities. Also, in the spirit of participatory democracy, a consensus was reached to elect new officers each year. Lee Webb of Boston University was chosen as National Secretary, and Todd Gitlin of Harvard University was made president. Some continuity was preserved by retaining Paul Booth as Vice President. The search began for something to challenge the idealistic, budding activists.

It was at this time that the Black Power Movement was first gaining some momentum, although Stokely Carmichael would make the movement more mainstream in 1966.  He rose to prominence first as a leader of the SNCC and later as the “Honorary Prime Minister” of the Black Panther Party. Initially an integrationist, Carmichael later became affiliated with black nationalist and Pan-Africanist movements. He popularized the term “Black Power”. The movement made it impolitic for white activists, such as those in SDS, to presume to lead protests for black civil rights. Instead, SDS would try to organize white unemployed youths through a newly established program they called the Economic Research and Action Project (ERAP). This “into the ghetto” move was a practical failure, but the fact that it existed at all drew many young idealists to SDS.

At the summer convention in 1964 there was a split between those who were campus-oriented, and the ERAP supporters.  Most of the old guard were ERAP supporters, but the campus activists were growing.  Paul Potter was elected president, and by the end of summer there were ten ERAP programs in place, with about 125 student volunteers. C, Clark Kissinger of Shimer College in Illinois was elected as National Secretary, and he put the NO on a much more business-like basis. He and his assistant, Helen Garvey (she later produced the documentary Rebels with a Cause), mailed out the literature list, the newsletters and the news of chapter’s activities to a growing membership list. Kissinger also worked to smooth the relationship with the LID.

A small faction of SDS that was interested in change through conventional electoral politics established a program called the Political Education Project (PEP).  Its Director was Jim Williams of the University of Louisville, and Steve Max served as its Associate Director. This was never very large, and it was opposed by the mainstream SDSers, who were mostly opposed to such traditional, old-fashioned activity, and were looking for something new that “worked." The Johnson landslide victory in November played its part, as well, and PEP soon withered away. A Peace Research and Education Project (PREP) headed by Paul Booth of Swarthmore, met a similar fate. Meanwhile, the local chapters got into all sorts of projects, from University reform, community-university relations, and now, in a small way, the issue of the draft and the Vietnam War.

Then, on October 1, 1964, the University of California, Berkely, exploded into the dramatic and prolonged agony that was the Free Speech Movement.  Led by a charismatic Friends of SNCC student activist named Mario Savio, upwards of three thousand students surrounded a police car in which a student, arrested for setting up a card table in defiance of a ban by the University, was being taken away. The sit-down prevented the police car from moving for 32 hours. The demonstrations, meetings and strikes that resulted all but shut the university down.  Hundreds of students were arrested.

In February 1965, Pres.  Lyndon Johnson dramatically escalated the war in Vietnam by bombing North Vietnam in Operation Flaming Dart and introducing ground troops directly involved in fighting the Viet Cong in the South.  Campus chapters of SDS all over the country started to lead small, localized demonstrations against the war and the NO became the focal group that organized the march against the war in Washington on April 17.  Endorsements came from nearly all of the other peace groups and leading personalities, there was significant increase in income and by the end of March there were 52 chapters. The media began to cover the organization and the New Left.  However, the call for the march and the openness of the organization in allowing other groups, even communist front groups, or communists themselves, to join in caused great strains with the LID and some other old left organizations.

The first teach-in against the war was held at the University of Michigan. Soon hundreds more, all over the country, were held. The demonstration in Washington, D.C., attracted about 25,000 anti-war protesters and SDS became the leading student group against the war on most U.S. campuses.

Representing its move into the heartland, the 1965 summer convention was held at Kewadin, , a small camp in northern Michigan. Moreover, its National Office, which was previously located in Manhattan, was moved to Chicago at about the same time. The rapid growth of the membership rate during the preceding year brought with it a new breed with a new style:

“For the first time at an SDS meeting people smoked marijuana; Pancho Villa mustaches, those droopy Western‑movie addenda that eventually became a New Left cliché, made their first appearance in quantity; blue workshirts, denim jackets, and boots were worn by both men and women. These were people generally raised outside of the East, many from the Midwest and Southwest, and their ruralistic dress reflected a different tradition, one more aligned to the frontier, more violent, more individualistic, more bare‑knuckled and callus‑handed, than that of the early SDSers. They were non‑Jewish, nonintellectual, nonurban, from a nonprofessional class, and often without any family tradition of political involvement, much less radicalism. They tended to be not only ignorant of the history of the left and its current half‑life in New York City, but downright uninterested."  Kirkpatrick Sale,  SDS

What Sale doesn’t mention is that denim was also the prison uniform of the Fifties.

The convention elected an Akron, Ohio student, Carl Oglesby, President and Jeff Shero, from the increasingly influential University of Texas chapter in Austin, as Vice President—in preference to “old guard” candidates.  The convention voted to remove the anti-communist exclusion clauses from the SDS constitution, failed to provide for any national program, and increased the reliance on local initiatives at the chapters. As a result, the National Office’s leadership fell into ineffectual chaos. The League for Industrial Democracy, SDS’s nominal sponsoring organization, was disappointed with removal of the exclusion clause from the SDS constitution, as SDS was covered under LID’s non-profit status which excluded political activity. By mutual agreement, the relationship was severed Oct. 4, 1965.

On Nov. 27, 1965 there was a major anti-war demonstration in Washington, D.C. at which Carl Ogelsby, the new SDS president, made a very successful speech, addressed to the liberal crowd, and in circuitous terms alleged that the U.S. government was “imperialist” in nature. The speech received a standing ovation, substantial press coverage, and resulted in greatly increased national prominence for SDS.

The unexpected influx of substantial numbers of new members and chapters combined with the ousting of the previous leadership, the “old guard,” resulted in a crisis which dogged SDS until its final breakup; despite repeated attempts to do so, consensus was never reached on what form the organization should take or what role it should play. A final attempt by the old guard at a “rethinking conference” to establish a coherent new direction for the organization failed. The conference, held on the University of Illinois campus at Champaign-Urbana over Christmas vacation, 1965, was attended by about 360 people from 66 chapters, many of whom were new to SDS.  Despite a great deal of discussion, no substantial decisions were made.

Nationally, the SDS continued to use the draft as an important issue for students, and over the rest of the academic year began to attack university complicity, as the universities had begun to supply student’s class rankings, used to determine who was to be drafted.  The University of Chicago’s administration building was taken over in a three day sit-in in May. Rank protests and sit-ins spread to many other universities.

The summer convention of 1966 was moved even farther west, this time to Clear Lake, Iowa. The “Prairie People” continued to increase their influence. Nick Egleson was chosen as President, and Carl Davidson was elected Vice President. Greg Calvert, recently a history instructor at Iowa State University, was chosen as National Secretary. It was at this convention that members of the Progressive Labor Party (PL) first participated.  PL was a Maoist group that had turned to SDS as fertile ground for recruiting new members sympathetic to its long-term strategy of organizing the industrial working class.  SDSers were wary of being drawn into actions that smacked of red-baiting, which they viewed as mostly irrelevant and old hat. PL soon began to organize a Worker-Student Alliance.  By 1969 they would profoundly affect SDS, particularly at national gatherings of the membership, forming a well-groomed, disciplined faction which followed the Progressive Labor Party line.

The 1966 convention also marked an even greater turn towards organization around campus issues by local chapters, with the NO cast in a strictly supporting role.  Campus issues ranged from bad food, powerless student “governments,” on-campus recruiting for the military and, again, ranking for the draft.  Campuses around the country were in a state of unprecedented ferment and activism. Despite the absence of a politically effective campus SDS chapter, Berkeley again became a center of particularly dramatic radical upheaval over what SDS considered the university’s “repressive” anti-free-speech actions, and an effective student strike with very wide support occurred. Even Harvard endured an upheaval engendered by a visit there from Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

At this time many in SDS turned to a more anarchist-influenced politics and organized activities aimed at the country’s burgeoning countercultural community. These efforts were especially successful at the large and active University of Texas chapter in Austin where The Rag, an underground newspaper founded by SDS leaders Thorne Dreyer and Carol Neiman was touted as the first underground paper in the country to incorporate the “participatory democracy, community organizing and synthesis of politics and culture that the New Left of the mid-Sixties was trying to develop,” according to historian Abe Peck.   And SDS’ “Gentle Thursday” events, which included such activities as graffiti drawing (particularly the Peace sign – parents, don’t put the Peace Sign on your children), on the UT campus helped to galvanize the Austin cultural community and turn it into a potent political force.  Austin’s Gentle Thursday inspired similar activities at a number of other universities including Penn State and Iowa State.  Austin, also a center of civil-rights and anti-war activities, was in 1967 the scene of an SDS-generated free speech movement (the University Freedom Movement) that mobilized thousands of students in massive demonstrations and other activities.

The Winter and Spring of 1967 saw an escalation of the militancy of the protests at many campuses. SDSers and self-styled radicals were even elected into the student government at a few places. Demonstrations against Dow Chemical and other campus recruiters were widespread, and ranking and the draft issues grew in scale. The FBI (mainly through its secret COINTELPRO) and other law enforcement agencies were often exposed as having spies and informers in the chapters. Harassment by the authorities was also on the rise. The National Office became distinctly more effective in this period, and the three officers actually visited most of the chapters. New Left Notes, as well, became a potent vehicle for promoting some coherence and solidarity among the chapters. The Anti-War movement began to take hold among university students.

The 1967 convention took an egalitarian turn by eliminating the Presidential and Vice-Presidential offices and replacing them with a National Secretary (20 year old Mike Spiegel), an Education Secretary (Texan Bob Pardun of the Austin chapter), and an Inter‑organizational Secretary (former VP Carl Davidson). A clear direction for a national program was not set but they did manage to pass strong resolutions on the draft, resistance within the Army itself, and they made a call for immediate withdrawal from Vietnam. A women’s liberation resolution on the issue of “male chauvinism” was passed by conference attendees, for the first time.

That fall saw a great escalation of the anti-war actions of the New Left. The school year started with a large demonstration against university complicity in the war in allowing Dow recruiters on campus at the University of Wisconsin in Madison on Oct. 17. Peaceful at first, the demonstrations turned to a sit-in that was dispersed by the Madison police and riot squad, resulting in many injuries and arrests. A mass rally and a student strike then closed the university for several days. A coordinated series of demonstrations against the draft led by members of the Resistance, the War Resisters League, , and SDS added fuel to the fire of resistance. After conventional civil rights tactics of peaceful pickets seemed to have failed, the Oakland, California Stop the Draft Week ended in mass hit and run skirmishes with the police. The huge (100,000 people) October 21 March on the Pentagon saw hundreds arrested and injured. Night-time raids on draft offices began to spread.

In the spring of 1968, National SDS activists led an effort on the campuses called "Ten Days of Resistance" and local chapters cooperated with the Student Mobilization Committee in rallies, marches, sit-ins and teach-ins, which culminated in a one-day strike on April 26. About a million students stayed away from classes that day, the largest student strike in the history of the United States. It was largely ignored by the New York City-based national media, which focused on the student shutdown of Columbia University in New York, led by an inter-racial alliance of Columbia SDS chapter activists and Student Afro Society activists. As a result of the mass media publicity given to Columbia SDS activists such as Columbia SDS chairperson Mark Rudd, SDS put on the map politically and became a notorious household name. Membership in SDS chapters around the United States increased dramatically during the 1968-69 academic year.

Led by the Worker-Student Alliance and rival Joe Hill caucuses, SDS in San Francisco played a major role in the Third World Student Strike at San Francisco State College. This strike, the longest student strike in U. S. history, led to the creation of Black and other ethnic studies programs on campuses across the country.

SDS members from Austin, Tex., participated in a mass demonstration in San Antonio, Tex. in April 1969 at the “Kings River Parade.” San Antonio SNCC members called the demonstration to protest the killing of the killing of a black man by San Antonio Police Officers.

In the summer of 1969, the ninth SDS national convention was held at the Chicago Coliseum with some 2000 people attending. Many factions of the movement were present, and set up their literature tables all around the edges of the cavernous hall. The Young Socialist Alliance, Wobblies, Spartacists, Marsixsts, and Maoists of various sorts, all together with various law-enforcement spies and informers contributed to the air of impending expectations.

Each delegate was given the convention issue of the newspaper New Left Notes, which contained a manifesto, “You don't need a Weatherman to know which way the wind blows,” a line taken from Bob Dylan’s Sibterranean Homesick Blues. This manifesto had been first presented at the Spring, 1969, SDS National Council Meeting in Austin, Tex. The document had been written by an 11-member committee that included Mark Rudd, Bernardine Dohrn, and John Jacobs, representing the position of the Revolutionary Youth Movement (RYM) wing of SDS, most of which later turned into the Weather Underground Organization. The New Left Notes issue was full of the language of the Old Left of the 1930s, and was thus impenetrable and irrelevant to the majority of SDSers.

Once it became clear that the Worker Student Alliance (WSA) faction was the largest contingent with a majority of the delegates, the convention quickly fell into disarray, as the RYM and allied groups moved to expel Progressive Labor (PL) members and the WSA faction of SDS. The Black Panther representatives also attacked PL.

The RYM and the National Office faction, headed by Bernardine Dohrn, led a breakaway meeting from which PL and WSA members were barred. This group then voted by about 500 to 100 to expel PL from SDS, and then walked out of the conference hall with that 500. By the next day, there were two SDS organizations, which RYM termed “SDS-RYM” and “SDS-WSA.”

In the fall of 1969, many of the SDS-RYM chapters also split up or disintegrated. The Weatherman faction evolved into a small underground organization that first took to street confrontations and then to a bombing campaign. The Weathermen held one final national convention in Flint, Mich., from Dec. 27–31, 1969. It was at this convention, more popularly known as the “Flint War Council” that the decision was made to disband what remained of SDS-RYM. SDS-RYM was fully defunct by 1970, while SDS-WSA continued its activity.

SDS-Worker-Student Alliance (SDS-WSA) continued to function nationwide, with a focus on (a) fighting racism; and (b) supporting workers' struggles and strikes, including the 1969 General Electric strike and during the 1970 Postal Workers’ strikes, the WSA organized a support demonstration for the post office strikers,

Now calling itself simply SDS, SDS-WSA continued to publish the newspaper New Left Notes. It held a convention in Boston in 1971, at which a striking General Motors worker was a featured speaker.

In 1972, SDS-WSA demonstrated at the Democratic National Convention in Miami against Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern’s retreating from his original stronger campaign positions against the Vietnam War. Several hundred SDS members staged a sit-in at the Doral Hotel as McGovern and his staff met upstairs with protesting members of Grassroots McGovern Volunteers and sympathizers angry over the same issues.

In Newark, N.J., SDS-WSA demonstrated against Anthony Imperiale and his North Ward Citizens’ Council, which opposed construction of Kawaida Towers, a housing project sponsored by a community organization led by Black nationalist and poet Amiri Baraka – the same poet who would write an anti-American poem about 9/11.

In 1974, National SDS(-WSA) voted to dissolve as a separate organization and reform as chapters of InCAR.  However, individual chapters of SDS continued to exist for some time. A chapter at Purdue University was active as late as 1976.

Unlike SDS-RYM and the Weathermen, SDS-WSA strongly opposed bombing and terrorism. In 1971, SDS-WSA published a pamphlet titled Who Are The Bombers? Still, the group was paranoid:  it warned readers against police agents sent into the anti-Vietnam War movement to foment violence to justify police attacks. It also sharply criticized the Weathermen, which had begun its campaign of bombings.

On June 26, 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court gave a unanimous opinion, in the case Healy v. James, stating that members of the SDS had been unconstitutionally deprived of their First Amendment right to freedom of assembly when a group was denied permission to form on the campus of Central Connecticut State College in New Britain, Conn.

These are the same people today who, as adults, claim that the U.S. government secretly planned the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In the 1960s, there wasn’t much in the way of objective media.  You listened and watched the Mainstream Media, or you got no news at all.  Today’s American citizens are better informed and more skeptical than they were in the Sixties.  Now when they drink the Kool-Aid, at least they drink it with a grain of salt.

We still have much work ahead of us to undo 50 years’ worth of political and cultural damage.  The Progressives play a game of Denial Dodgeball.  Obama insists he had no ties to William Ayers, the small c communist, yet he served with Ayers on foundations in Chicago.  In his own, premature biography, he admits to associating with anyone who had a radical point of view.

By the mid-1970s, the American public was growing weary of “long-hot summers” (the burning of cities) and radical street theater, watching as the protestors burned American flags and threw bags of feces at soldiers returning home from the Vietnam War.  Pres. Nixon (for all his faults) deemed Middle America “The Silent Majority.”  Conservative Americans took up this appellation with pride and still use it today.

Sooner or later, the “students” had to go to work, and they found “shovel-ready” jobs in academia, prepared for them by the radical professors who had trained them (who themselves had been trained by radical professors in the Thirties).  Others found work in the Media, and others still, in government.

The teachers, even before SDS, had worked their way down to the high school and elementary school levels.  Most students gulped their instructions down like Kool-Aid.  Only a few of us rebelled against their doctrine.  For us, getting a failing grade in Communist history was an honor.  We invite you to join the fight, and preserve our country’s unique, freedom-loving, free market-loving heritage.  The only advice we would urge you is to not use the enemy’s jargon.

An Occupy protest is scheduled for the Cleveland, Ohio.  This is actually a Tea Party movement, but its name is bound to confuse people:  Occupy the Truth.  Just as the name “Tea Party” has become branded, so has “Occupy” Whatever.  Tea Partiers, recognizing the name may stay away, and Occupiers, whose movement (unlike the Tea Party movement) has exhausted its momentum and increased its unpopularity, may just wind up showing up.

However, going to this rally thinking it’s something that it’s not, maybe Occupiers will hear the truth and see the light.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Wisconsin Socialist Studies Project

The formalization of the Students for a Democratic Society in the summer of 1962 was a curious time.  Six months earlier, the world had been roiled by a fearful astrological event called “The Great Conjunction.”  While it was of no moment at the time to Christians and Jews, Hindus and other religious groups trembled in fear that the end of the world was coming.  Feb. 4-5, 1962 was to herald the coming of a great apocalypse.  Some feared it meant the birth of the Anti-Christ.  Ironically, Barack Hussein Obama had been born exactly six months earlier, in Hawaii, under the eventual trajectory of the Great Conjunction.  New Agers (as they came to be called) hailed it as the coming of the Age of Aquarius.

The last couldn’t have been more wrong, from an astrological standpoint.  Yet the world did not physically end that day.  But it was the beginning of a terrible transformation for those who loved freedom.  The creation of the SDS was one of those catastrophes, a group of young radicals intent on shuffling off their radical fathers’ radicalism.

Here’s a little more history on how the Student League for Industrial Democracy paved the way for the Flower Children, the Hippies, and SDS:

The coming of the Great Depression had a radicalizing influence on many students, who saw world capitalism in a state of chaos. Members of the Intercollegiate LID energized by the 1932 Presidential campaign of Norman Thomas (the presidential candidate on the Socialist Party ticket in 1928), as well as competition with the Communist-led National Student League.

In 1932 the student members of the LID held their own national convention which abolished the old Intercollegiate Student Council of the LID and elected instead a new National Executive Committee and national chairman, Maurice Newfield.  The new independent organization began to issue a new national magazine, Revolt, (later named Student Outlook) and in 1933 formally adopted the name “Student League for Industrial Democracy” (SLID).

Between 1933 and 1935 SLID participated in protests over violations of student free speech, the reception of a “good will tour” of students from Fascist Italy, the Italian invasion of Ethiopia and instances of radical discrimination, often in conjunction with the NSL.

One of the group's most dramatic activities was organizing the National Student Strike Against War on April 13, 1934 and 1935, commemorating American entry into the First World War. The first strike, coordinated only with the NSL, drew 25,000 students nationwide, 15,000 of which were in New York City. The second demonstration however, in April 1935, drew 175,000 students, 160,000 outside of New York, and was co-sponsored by the National Student Federation of America, the National Council of Methodist Youth, the YMCA and YWCA, the Interseminary Movement, the youth section of the American League Against War and Fascism, among others. An important aspect of the two annual strikes was an Americanized version of the Oxford Pledge, in which students vowed, “We will not support the government of the United States in any war it may conduct.”

The Student League for Industrial Democracy proclaimed its goal to be the establishment of “a classless cooperative society in which men will have an equal opportunity to achieve the good things of life.” They took a Fabian approach to this long-term objective, advocating a minimum program which included the organization of labor, expansion of merit-based academic scholarships, defense of civil liberties and academic freedom for professors (to politically proselytize), and opposition to “any manifestation of militarism in education, especially the R.O.T.C.”

With the Student League for Industrial Democracy and the Communist-led National Student League working together so often, there arose sentiment in favor of amalgamating the two organizations. The NSL proposed this first in December 1933, and again the next year. The leadership of the SLID, however, was weary of the NSL uncritical view of the Soviet Union and less than democratic nature of the NSL.

Due to the unprecedented size of the April 1935 student strike, however, pressure from within the SLID ranks became difficult for its more cautious leadership to contain. This was especially true on the West Coast, where the local SLID members felt that anti-fascist unit was a pressing need in the wake of a local Red Scare. With its California chapters already planning an amalgamation conference for the fall, in June 1935 the SLID National Executive Committee relented by appointing a committee to discuss the merger with representatives from the NSL.

By October they arrived at an agreement to merge the two organizations at a convention that December into a new group to be named the American Student Union.  But by 1960, a new generation of students that grew up during the “Red Scare” of the 1950s rebelled against their fathers and formed Students for a Democratic Society, embracing a worldview of Communism.

Robert Alan Haber, a graduate of the University of Michigan was SDS’ first president.  FBI files at the time indicated his official title as Field Secretary, the former organization having dispensed with the “fascist” titles of President and Vice President.

Described variously at the time as “Ann Arbor’s resident radical” and “reticent visionary,” Haber organized a human rights conference in April of that year which marked the debut of SDS.  He invited four organizers of the 1960 NAACP “sit-ins” against segregated lunch counters in Greensboro, N.C., to the first meeting.

Haber’s father was an enthusiastic supporter of FDR’s New Deal with socialist-progressive sympathies.  Haber’ parents named him after former Wisconsin governor, congressman and senator Robert M. LaFollette, Sr., advocate of the Wisconsin Idea political reforms in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

The Wisconsin Idea refers to a series of political reforms reforms of the late 19th century and early 20th century whose strongest advocate was La Follette, Sr. The Wisconsin Idea was created by the state’s progressives to do away with monopolies, trusts, high costs of living, and “predatory wealth”, which they saw as the problem that must be solved or else “no advancement of human welfare or progress can take place.”

Reforms in labor and worker’s rights were one of the major aspects of the Wisconsin Idea. The progressive worker’s compensation program was first introduced by German immigrants, who were abundant in Wisconsin. The system was adopted from the existing Bismarckian system in Germany.  The idea was that the employer was obligated to take care of his employees and keep paying them as they grew old.  Many of the reforms were based on traditions and customs brought to the state by German immigrants. The emphasis on higher learning and well-funded universities stressed by the Wisconsin Idea was derived from the education system of Germany. Progressives also proposed the first state income taxes, as well as submitting the idea of a progressive tax. They also passed legislation prohibiting pollution and police brutality.

The Wisconsin Idea would go on to set an example for other states. The progressive politicians of the time sought to emulate and ultimately transcend the states of the east coast in regards to labor laws. Wisconsin progressives wished to make Wisconsin into a benchmark for other states to strive towards. Although many of the reforms went through in 1911, conservative opponents of the progressive party took control of Wisconsin in 1914, thus minimizing the effects of the reforms.  The Wisconsin Idea would continue to be a revolutionary precedent for other universities, and its educational aspects are still relevant today.  LaFollette, Sr., was the man who implemented much of this legislature, and he was among the earliest supporters of direct election of senators, which is now a national practice. These progressive politics also helped pass the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Amendments to the Constitution.

These proposed reforms, all of which were eventually adopted, included:

  • Primary elections, allowing the rank-and-file members of a political party to choose its nominees rather than caucuses usually dominated by political bosses.
  • Workers’ compensation, allowing workers injured on the job to receive a fixed payment in compensation for their injuries and related expenses rather than forcing them to go to court against their employers, which at the time was extremely difficult and had little realistic chance of success.
  • State regulation of railroads in addition to the federal regulation imposed by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC).
  • Direct election of U.S. Senators as opposed to the original method of their selection by the state legislatures, eventually ratified as the Seventeenth Amendment.
  • Progressive taxation,  where the wealthier pay a higher rate of tax than the less-affluent, made possible on the federal level in part by the adoption of the Sixteenth Amendment
All of this makes Wisconsin’s Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s election, and survival of a recall election, as well as the nomination of Wisconsin Republican Congressman Paul Ryan as the GOP’s presumptive vice presidential nominee, all the more wondrous.

The SDS may have rejected their fathers’ anti-Stalinism (to be absolutely correct).  But their fathers and mothers had laid the foundation for the next step in Progressivism, the eventual death of Capitalism, and the demise of freedom.

Tomorrow:  The Socialist Sixties