Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is a professor of political science and the executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. Paul Kengor is the author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004), The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007), The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan’s Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007) and The Communist — Frank Marshall Davis: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor (Threshold Editions / Mercury Ink 2012).

Saturday, 05 December 2015 04:37

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. These articles are republished from V & V, a web site of the Center for Vision & Values. Paul Kengor is author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004) and The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007). His latest book is The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007).

Bush, Obama, and Osama: America's Hour of Choosing

"In Bin Laden Announcement, Echoes of 2007 Obama Speech," declared the headline in The New York Times. It's difficult to find a newspaper that has demonstrated a more pro-Obama and anti-Bush bias than The New York Times, especially when dealing with the War on Terror. And so, I expected a headline like this in the Times. When I searched Google this morning, looking for a text of President Obama's statement on the death of Osama Bin Laden, the Times headline was the first thing that popped up.

That's too bad. A better banner would have been, "In Bin Laden Announcement, Echoes of 2001 Bush Speech." That's what I immediately thought when I heard the stunning statement by President Obama announcing the killing of Osama Bin Laden. President Obama stated:

Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama Bin Laden. . . .
The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens. . . . Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to Al-Qaeda's terror: Justice has been done. . . .
Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

For President Obama, it was a refreshing and surprising expression of American exceptionalism.

More than that, President Obama's words read like an exclamation point, on what President George W. Bush had said on September 14, 2001, during an unforgettable 9/11 memorial service at the majestic National Cathedral. Bush himself had organized the service. He picked the music, selected speakers, and carefully chose the words he delivered that afternoon.

Bush had declared the day a "National Day of Prayer and Remembrance." In preparing for his speech, he literally prayed that he could rise to the occasion and deliver his talk meaningfully in keeping with the somberness of the occasion. "I prayed a lot before the speech," he later told reporter Bill Sammon, "because I felt like it was a moment where I needed, well, frankly, for the good Lord to shine through."

Everyone in elite Washington was there: Former presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford sat in the third pew, as did Al Gore. The Clinton family sat in the front pew. An ailing Billy Graham, in a poignant display, struggled to address those gathered. President Bush approached the platform at 1:00 PM. He stated:

We are here in the middle hour of our grief. So many have suffered so great a loss, and today we express our nation's sorrow. We come before God to pray for the missing and the dead and for those who love them.
On Tuesday our country was attacked with deliberate and massive cruelty. We have seen the images of fire and ashes and bent steel. Now come the names, the list of casualties we are only beginning to read. . . .
Just three days removed from these events, Americans do not yet have the distance of history. But our responsibility to history is already clear: To answer these attacks and rid the world of evil.
War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder. This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. This conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way, and at an hour, of our choosing.

Note that last word, "choosing." Indeed, here is where both President Bush and President Obama - not to mention America and history - found common ground: This war, and that awful attack on September 11, 2001, crafted by the diabolical Osama Bin Laden, had not been our choice. Both Bush and Obama pledged that justice against Osama would come at a time of our choosing.

That time arrived, at long last, on May 1, 2011. Justice, indeed, has been done, and on America's terms, not Osama Bin Laden's.

When Winston Warned America: Churchill's "Iron Curtain" at 65

It was 65 years ago, March 5, 1946, when Winston Churchill delivered his "Iron Curtain" speech in Fulton, Missouri. It was a speech that rocked the world and changed history.

By then Churchill was no longer British prime minister. He and his conservatives had been replaced by Clement Attlee and the Labour Party, which busily nationalized everything under the sun, from car companies to healthcare, pursued Keynesian economic policies with reckless abandon, exploded the public sector, and piled debts that buried Britain for a generation. Churchill was out, and Britain's giant lunge leftward was in, enabled by an electorate that voted for "change."

Churchill and his work, however, were hardly finished. He had been called upon to save Western civilization at the start of the decade, when Hitler's Germany was at the gates. Now, he saw new vandals, equally dangerous, already inside the gates, and colored red. Stalin was their dictator.

Worse, the West, complacent and tired of war, had no clue of the threat; it could not see the wolf at the door. The former prime minister travelled to America to issue a wake-up call to the free world.

So, at little Westminster College, on March 5, 1946, at the invitation of President Harry Truman, Churchill cut loose:

Nobody knows what Soviet Russia and its Communist international organization intends to do in the immediate future, or what are the limits, if any, to their expansive and proselytizing tendencies . . . .
From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the continent. Behind that line lie all the capitals of the ancient states of Central and Eastern Europe. Warsaw, Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bucharest, Sofia, all these famous cities and the populations around them lie in the Soviet sphere and all are subject, in one form or another, not only to Soviet influence but to a very high and increasing measure of control from Moscow.

Churchill conceded these were tough words to hear on the "morrow of a great victory" over Nazism, one where Stalin's Russia had been an ally. Nonetheless, we could not be blind to reality, and simply wish away the dangers.

Of course, Churchill was exactly right, as anyone paying attention should have noticed. A month earlier, Stalin had delivered his Bolshoi Theater speech, which followed blatant Soviet violations of the Yalta agreement signed a year earlier. Moscow was installing puppet governments and refusing promises of free elections throughout Eastern Europe, all the while committing countless war crimes, especially in eastern Germany, where Red Army soldiers committed two million rapes.

The former prime minister spoke the truth.

Naturally, Stalin responded by blasting Churchill: "To all intents and purposes, Mr. Churchill now takes his stand among the warmongers."

Churchill expected Stalin's reaction. He also would not have been surprised to learn that members of Communist Party USA had gathered at Fourth Avenue in New York to prepare a P.R. strategy to smear his plans to launch "a new world war." The international Communist movement wasted little time.

Yet, Churchill was taken aback by the response of many progressive Americans. Eleanor Roosevelt was furious. She accused the courageous prime minister of "desecrating the ideals for which my husband gave his life." She took a personal swipe: "Perhaps it's just as well," she publicly sneered at Churchill, "that he [FDR] is not alive today to see how you have turned against his principles."

President Truman was stunned by the outrage among the liberal/progressive left. He had read the speech ahead of time, and seemed fine with it. Nonetheless, once confronted by angry reporters, Truman distanced himself from the former prime minister. According to historian James Humes, Churchill was so troubled by Truman's disappointment that he did not recover until he found a friendly smile (and a drink) at the Gettysburg home of World War II pal Dwight Eisenhower.

Journalist David Brinkley, who covered the speech, recalled that his fellow press people were appalled; they thought Churchill had lost his mind.

Of course, we know the rest of the story.

In the next few years, the Soviets blockaded Berlin, sponsored a coup in Czechoslovakia, and swallowed up Eastern Europe. According to the seminal work by Harvard University Press, The Black Book of Communism, at least 100 million people were killed by Communist governments - a conservative figure that, even then, is double the combined deaths of World War I and II. Soviet authorities like Alexander Yakovlev maintain that Stalin alone was responsible for 60-70 million deaths.

It took the rest of the world a while to awaken to Churchill's reality. When it did, it recognized the prime minister as a political prophet. But on March 5, 1946, Winston Churchill was a voice in the wilderness.

The Ted Kennedy Chronicles: A Look at the Latest Declassified FBI Files

Editor's note: A longer version of this article first appeared at American Thinker.

Another round of declassified FBI files on Senator Ted Kennedy has been released. Fittingly, in Kennedy's case, they once again raise all sorts of questions, from the moral to the political, to issues of national security.

First, however, allow me to pause with a sympathetic note. Among the documents within Kennedy's 2,200-page FBI file are materials from the mid-1960s on various lunatics threatening to shoot the young senator. Reading those pages is sad, particularly as they move from not only Ted as a target but also his brother Bobby. And then, it all struck home - like a punch to the gut - when I suddenly happened upon a June 6, 1968 Western Union telegram, sent directly to J. Edgar Hoover, which stated simply:


Bobby was gone, in the same manner as John before him, and now Ted was left as a living target. I don't care how much of a beef you have against Ted Kennedy and his actions and politics; that telegram chills your bones.

As to the politics, however, once again we have more declassified files on Ted Kennedy producing yet more unsettling questions. As readers of my previous columns and books know, Ted Kennedy made a confidential outreach to Soviet despot Yuri Andropov in May 1983, evidenced by a stunning KGB memo. The goal was to undermine Ronald Reagan's defense policies and, in my view, Reagan's re-election prospects as well. That document, which has since been resealed in Russian archives, is published in full in Dupes: How America's Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century, by Paul Kengor.

Do the latest FBI files produce anything at this level? Well, it's hard to equate degrees of outrage, but these items jump out:

Most serious are the documents relating to a July-August 1961 "familiarization tour" by Kennedy of several Latin American countries. Throughout, Kennedy expressed a curious desire to meet with "Leftists," wanting to know what made them "think the way they do." The documents note that Kennedy "met with a number of individuals" with "Communist sympathies." Kennedy asked ambassadors and State Department officials in these countries to help arrange interviews. One official was annoyed, describing Kennedy as a "pompous and spoiled brat."

Ted's behavior was not exactly angelic. Among his unique extracurricular activities, according to two of these documents (dated December 28, 1961, and October 20, 1964), was to attempt to "'rent' a brothel for an entire night."

This aspect of the files fits with the roguish-philandering image of the late senator. More serious, however, is a particularly sobering item: Among the Leftists that Kennedy reportedly met with was none other than Lauchlin Currie, former close aide to FDR. As one of these documents dryly notes, "Currie's name had been mentioned in Washington investigations of Soviet spy rings."

That's an understatement. As we now know, Currie was one of the most duplicitous Roosevelt advisers, widely suspected of Soviet espionage.

Why did Ted Kennedy want to meet with Lauchlin Currie?

Unfortunately, the FBI files provide no answers.

But that doesn't mean there aren't witnesses who could be contacted for further information. Among the living is John Tunney, a former Democratic senator from California who was Ted Kennedy's law-school roommate and close pal. Tunney was Kennedy's liaison to the Soviets in May 1983. In this FBI file, he is listed as one of the individuals who joined Kennedy on this Latin America tour.

Tunney likewise might be able to comment on another stunner in these files: A claim that Ted and his brother Bobby were looking to parade around America a group of 100 Vietnamese children maimed by American napalm. A March 1967 memo contends that the Kennedy brothers were "plotting" such a scheme as a way to humiliate President Lyndon Johnson.

The memo gives specific names and is grounded in what seems a very credible source.

Finally, a November 21, 1962, memo in these files reports a fascinating tidbit: the muckraking columnist Drew Pearson was planning to report that 19-year-old Teddy had been rejected from attending "a school at Fort Holabird, Maryland, while in the U.S. Army" because of "an adverse FBI report which linked him to a group of 'pinkos.'" According to this memo, when Teddy's dad, Joseph P. Kennedy, heard of this, he threatened to sue Pearson for libel if he dared to print one word.

Of course, Joseph P. Kennedy has been dead for decades. He's no longer a threat to our "journalists" doing their job. Will those journalists now, at long last, two years after Senator Ted Kennedy's death, pause to investigate some hard questions?

This latest FBI file begs yet more answers on the doings of Ted Kennedy.

Death of the Pro-Life Democrat?

Editor's note: A longer version of this article first appeared in American Spectator.

With the swearing in of the 112th Congress, an already endangered species is nearing extinction in the Capitol Building: the pro-life Democrat.

That the Democrats took a thumping last November is obvious. In the House of Representatives, over 60 seats changed from Democrat to Republican.

Less-remarked upon, however, was the equally dramatic switch to pro-life legislators, which, not coincidentally, accompanied that Democrat-to-Republican shift. Marjorie Dannenfelser, director of the Susan B. Anthony List, which seeks to elect pro-life women to Congress, counts 38 switches from "pro-choice" to pro-life legislators, plus another 14 seats where "unreliable" pro-lifers were replaced with "reliable" pro-life votes. In all, 52 seats were "strengthened" in a more pro-life position.

Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), longtime pro-life stalwart, celebrates that this January marks "the beginning of the arguably most pro-life House ever." Smith calls it

. . . another message to President Obama that the American people will not be fooled by the Obama administration's accounting gimmicks and phony executive orders. They expect their elected officials to stand up for life without backing down.

This is a reference to the "Bart Stupak Democrats," who voted yes on the "Obama-care" healthcare bill that provides taxpayer funding of abortion. They convinced themselves that President Obama's corresponding executive order will ban abortion funding. Most of those pro-life Democrats find themselves no longer in Congress. Some, like Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper (D-PA), were defeated in landslides.

Particularly telling, leadership of the House goes from Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), a tectonic shift in the pro-life direction, from one lifelong Roman Catholic to another - but with only Boehner applying "social justice" (not to mention the Church's teaching) to the unborn.

Likewise, the U.S. Senate includes notable pro-life gains. In Florida, Republican Marco Rubio registered a remarkable victory in a three-candidate race in November, trouncing a turncoat ex-Republican endorsed by Bill Clinton, the president who vetoed partial-birth abortion bans. In Arkansas, pro-life Republican John Boozman defeated incumbent Democrat Blanche Lincoln. In a major upset in Wisconsin, pro-life Republican Ron Johnson defeated Democrat incumbent Russ Feingold, a dependable vote for the abortion lobby. Other significant pro-life wins occurred in North Dakota, Indiana, and elsewhere. In Pennsylvania, pro-lifer Pat Toomey edged out Democrat Joe Sestak, who was atrocious on human-life issues.

In short, the Democratic Party, which was already heading down this path, now has preciously few pro-lifers in the House or Senate. We're approaching the point where you can count them on two hands, potentially one hand.

Alas, I say this with regret. I honestly do. I'm a pro-life Republican, but I know that the parties, and what they stand for, change over time. I'm far more concerned with the lives of unborn babies than political lives of Republicans. I don't support "pro-choice" Republicans; in fact, I've actively worked for their defeat. I'm an American deeply saddened by the Death Culture thrust upon this nation through the evil of Roe v. Wade in January 1973.

For a time, in the early years after Roe, it wasn't completely clear where the two parties, Democrat and Republican, would align on the matter of unborn human life. It has taken time, but, ultimately, the progression has been steady toward the Republicans becoming the party of life. Importantly, there are exceptions to this, but, by and large, certainly in Congress, the vast majority of Republicans are pro-life while the vast majority of Democrats are not.

Consider a fascinating analysis of Roman Catholic members of Congress, done by the National Catholic Register and National Right to Life. Their church is adamantly against legal abortion. And yet, of those Catholics with a dismal 0 to 5 percent pro-life ranking, all are Democrats, whereas of those with a solid 95 to 100 percent pro-life ranking, all are Republicans. That's a stunning religious-political shift.

Along this descent, there were Democrats who tried to stop the train-wreck. One was a governor in my home state of Pennsylvania, the late Bob Casey, who was distraught that his party, which prided itself as defender of the "little guy," was turning its back on the most innocent among us: the unborn child. When Casey pleaded for a speaking spot at the 1992 Democratic National Convention, Bill and Hillary Clinton and the self-proclaimed apostles of "tolerance" and "diversity," refused him. Looking back, that was a telling moment.

It's a sad development for the culture and the country. It further polarizes the abortion issue, more starkly along party lines. For pro-life Republicans in Congress, it's a loss, as they need pro-life Democrats as precious allies. No one - Republicans included - should celebrate such a moral demise in a once great political party. *

Saturday, 05 December 2015 04:34

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. These articles are republished from V & V, a web site of the Center for Vision & Values. Paul Kengor is author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004) and The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007). His latest book is The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007).

Changing the Mood: Two Inaugurals - JFK and Reagan

This January 20 marks the anniversary of two unforgettable inaugural addresses from two beloved presidents, Democrat and Republican: John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. For Kennedy's speech, this is the golden anniversary, 50 years; for Reagan, 30 years.

Both speeches were extraordinary. Kennedy's lasting line was, of course, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." Reagan's most memorable phrase was probably this one: "We're not, as some would have us believe, doomed to an inevitable decline. . . . Let us begin an era of national renewal." Reagan's line struck the New York Times, which, the next day, thrust the words "era of national renewal" atop page one.

In both inaugurals, there was no mistaking the message, or the mood that followed. Both initiated a profound, palpable, quite immediate change in the nation's morale and sense of itself. The shift was dramatic. Of course, it wasn't just the speeches that made the difference, but the men who made them, with the inaugurals their starting points.

As evidence of the specialness of these two men and their presidencies, consider what happened in between. Between Kennedy and Reagan there was an extended bipartisan disaster, with two Democrats as bookends, Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter, and two Republicans in between, Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Those four presidencies ended in defeat, despair, debilitation, or even ruin. LBJ was destroyed by Vietnam, and decided not to pursue reelection. Nixon resigned in disgrace and suffered a mental breakdown. Ford, not an inspiring figure, never won an election. Carter lost 44 states to Reagan. Harvard's renowned presidential scholar, the late Richard Neustadt, remarked that watching Jimmy Carter, one wondered if the presidency was "even possible."

Amid all this was Vietnam, the counter culture, Watergate, malaise, misery index, unemployment, double-digit inflation, 21-percent interest rates, energy crisis, oil shocks, the Soviets in Afghanistan, hostages in Iran, and on and on. It was a prolonged national nightmare.

Really, Kennedy's message of hope, so forceful on January 20, 1961, dissipated like dust in the wind.

But then came Reagan, precisely 20 years later, January 20, 1981.

The moment Reagan swore the oath, he committed himself to "national renewal." Unbeknownst to the press, those two words flowed directly from his personal pen. The theme pervaded the ceremony. On the reverse side of the tickets for the inaugural event was this promise: "America - A Great New Beginning, 1981."

It is not an exaggeration to say the change in mood began that instant, as the hostages were freed in Tehran - prompting The New York Times to double its top-of-the-fold headline: "Reagan Takes Oath as 40th President; Promises an 'Era of National Renewal;' Minutes Later, 52 U.S. Hostages in Iran Fly to Freedom After 444-Day Ordeal."

Those who experienced the moment, including presidential scholars in that era, agreed that Reagan achieved that renewal. As quick as the end of Reagan's first term, academic historians and political scientists - most of whom were on the political left - hailed Reagan for his "restoration of morale and trust" to the country and presidency. Specifically, a major 1985 survey by National Journal found scholars commending Reagan for "reviving trust and confidence" in an institution "that in the post-Vietnam era had been perceived as being unworkable." Harvard's Neustadt spoke for many of the scholars when he said that Reagan gave Americans a sense that "all was well," a sea-change from the Carter malaise.

Outside the academy, Time's dean of presidential correspondents, Hugh Sidey, said flatly: "No one can deny that Ronald Reagan restored morale to a country that needed it." Edmund Morris, Reagan's official biographer, and generally a cynic, went so far as to claim that Reagan transformed the national mood "overnight." The change was so rapid, said Morris, "that it can only be ascribed to him."

Most telling, similar assessments came even from the enemy's camp. If Ronald Reagan had read Russian, he would have been blown away by an assessment from the erstwhile Evil Empire. There, the publication, Literaturnaya Gazeta, informed Soviet citizens:

The years of [Reagan's] presidency have seen an unprecedented surge in America's self-belief, and quite a marked recovery in the economy. . . . Reagan restored America's belief that it is capable of achieving a lot.

The Communist publication closed glowingly: "Reagan is giving America what it has been yearning for. Optimism. Self-belief. Heroes."

Of course, Kennedy, too, gave that to America.

Today, it seems inconceivable that a president from either party would be universally seen as a hero, inspiring so much optimism and self-belief. Yet, in the last half-century, it happened twice, 50 years ago this January 20, with JFK's inauguration, and 30 years ago this January 20, with Reagan's inauguration. Those were good times, rare times - worth preserving, maybe even recovering.

Ronald Reagan: The Anti-Nixon/Kissinger

This February marks the birth centennial of Ronald Reagan. As a Reagan biographer, I'm often asked how Reagan was different from his predecessors, Republican and Democrat, and especially in the area of foreign policy. There were many ways, but here are two of the most fundamental:

First, Reagan actually believed he could win the Cold War. He committed himself to that goal early and unequivocally. To cite just one example, Richard V. Allen, his first national security adviser, recalls a discussion in January 1977, four years before the presidency, when Reagan told him flatly: "Dick, my idea of American policy toward the Soviet Union is simple, and some would say simplistic. It is this: We win and they lose."

In this, Reagan stood apart from not only Democrats like Jimmy Carter but Republicans like Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and their chief foreign-policy adviser, Henry Kissinger.

But there's another way Reagan was so different from the likes of Nixon and Kissinger in particular. It's a poignant example involving long-persecuted Soviet Jews. It was recently driven home to me, yet again, when I heard newly released comments by Nixon and Kissinger.

Kissinger and Nixon placed detente with the Soviets above all else. Their approach was pure Machiavellian realpolitik. They did not frame the U.S.-Soviet confrontation as good vs. evil, as Reagan did. Their goal wasn't to defeat the Soviet Union. Their prevailing priority was getting along with the Soviets. They pursued that objective at almost any expense, whether keeping Eastern Europeans captive behind the Iron Curtain or keeping Russian Jews from emigrating.

In the early 1970s, pressure had been building on the Nixon administration to lobby the Soviets to ease up on restrictions on Jews. Both Kissinger and Nixon were dismissive. How dismissive? The latest round of released tapes shows Kissinger offering an awful assessment to his White House boss on March 1, 1973.

"The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy," Kissinger stated coldly. "And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern."

Nixon responded: "I know. We can't blow up the world because of it."

Alas, here is a painfully instructive example of how Ronald Reagan so differed even from intensely anti-Communist Republicans of his era. Reagan would have been aghast at these comments. In fact, Reagan was willing to "blow up" negotiations with the Soviets over matters like Jewish emigration.

Reagan hounded Mikhail Gorbachev on this issue. About 10 years ago, the official "MemCons," or Memoranda of Conversation, from the various Reagan-Gorbachev one-on-ones were declassified, from the Geneva to Moscow summits. In these, Reagan repeatedly dug at Gorbachev on emigration of Jews, to the point where Gorbachev snapped at the president.

Such persecuted Russians (Jews and non-Jews) were constantly on Reagan's mind. Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci recalled that the president "would walk around with lists in his pocket of people who were in prison in the Soviet Union." Each time Secretary of State George Shultz prepared to meet with a Soviet official, Reagan pulled out the names - "some of whom we'd heard of but most of whom we hadn't," said Carlucci - and say, "I want you to raise these names with the Soviets." And sure enough, said Carlucci, "George would raise them and one by one they would be released or allowed to leave."

Reagan advisers confirmed this to me, including Shultz. When I asked Shultz about it, his typical understated expression widened into a giant grin. "Oh, yes," he told me. "He always had that list and never hesitated to give me a few names."

I believe that Ronald Reagan's feelings for Russian Jews might be traceable as far back as November 1928, when his devout Christian mother, head of the Missions Committee at their little church in Dixon, Illinois, brought in a Russian Jew named B. E. Kertchman. Kertchman spoke about persecution he faced. That empathy never left Reagan. Two decades later, in 1947, I discovered Reagan, as a young actor in Hollywood, a liberal Democrat, working with Eleanor Roosevelt to find safe haven for Europe's "Displaced Persons" (mostly Jews) after World War II.

Again, this is a striking contrast with Kissinger-Nixon, but it's more than that.

Reagan was seen as the ultimate Cold Warrior, giving no quarter to the "Evil Empire." Yet, his care for the everyday lives of human beings languishing in the USSR went largely unnoticed. That's too bad, as that concern is a moving testimony of where this president's heart guided him. That's something worth remembering as a nation remembers the life of Ronald Reagan this February 2011.

The Truth About Ronald Reagan's Mind - and Memory

Editor's note: This article first appeared at

Ron Reagan, son of the late president, continues to get attention because of speculation in his new book that his father may have begun experiencing Alzheimer's Disease during his presidency. Ron cites two examples where his father seemed confused or forgetful, one as early as 1984 and another from 1986.

Ron's speculation ignited a very strong response from his brother, Mike Reagan, who called Ron an "embarrassment."

The issue isn't going away, and is sure to be debated in the next two weeks leading to the centennial of Ronald Reagan's birth on February 6.

We've been down this road before. This is not the first time such speculation was raised, only to be quickly struck down by Reagan's personal physicians, specialists, and experts on the disease.

As a biographer of Reagan, I've dealt with this question many times. It's a matter best left to the clinicians who closely inspected the president.

For the record, the actual diagnosis of the disease, made public by Reagan's moving handwritten letter, did not come until November 1994, nearly six years after he left the White House - not to mention two years after a wonderful (and quite lucid) Reagan speech at the 1992 Republican National Convention. Reagan was not in the throes of the disease until well after his presidency.

That said, there are perhaps some helpful observations I can add to this subject. I offer them as someone who has interviewed hundreds of people who knew and worked with Reagan and as someone who spent countless hours at the Reagan Library studying the gigantic Presidential Handwriting File, a very illuminating archive of letters, speeches, and other documents featuring Reagan's actual handwriting. I never encountered any evidence - on paper or from eyewitnesses - suggesting that the president was "losing it."

But rather than just say this, I'd like to offer a viewable example to readers: a March 1986 exchange between Reagan and Secretary of Education Bill Bennett regarding an education report. This example occurred during one of the exact years cited by Ron Reagan as an episode when his father seemed "bewildered."

As Bennett knew, Ronald Reagan's memory was not only good but exceptional. In fact, several of Reagan's closest advisers, two of whom dated back to the gubernatorial days in Sacramento, have told me that they believe Reagan had a photographic memory. Knowing that Reagan's 75-year-old brain remained sharp, Bennett confidently put Reagan on the spot in front of a group of educators in the East Room of the White House. Bennett asked the president if he recalled a verse from a certain poem. Here's a direct transcript from the official Presidential Papers:

Secretary Bennett: Mr. President, I was telling the audience before you came that memorization figures in this book fairly prominently, and I am told that you're the world champion memorizer. Do you recall something that starts "There are strange things done in the midnight sun. . ." ?

The President: " . . . by the men who moil for gold." [Laughter]
Secretary Bennett: "The Arctic trails have their secret tales . . ."
The President: ". . . that would make your blood run cold." [Laughter]
Secretary Bennett: I give up. I give up. I give up. Do you want to finish, Mr. President?
The President: I don't know whether in school they still read Robert W. Service but to just conclude that particular stanza, it would then be: "There are strange things" - No, we've done that. All right.
Secretary Bennett: "The North Lights have seen . . ."
The President: "The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see was that night in the marge of Lake Lebarge I cremated Sam McGee."

This exchange doesn't strike me as evidence of an addled brain. This clip needs to be watched to be appreciated. Reagan had no notes, no TelePrompter - and no onset of Alzheimer's. I've seen innumerable examples like this over the years.

Nonetheless, this is an issue not likely to go away.

Reagan himself would have probably simply smiled and shrugged, perhaps with a gentle, "Well, there they go again. . . ."

Reagan and Alzheimer's: What the Public Doesn't Know About the 40th President

Editor's note: This article first appeared at

This February 6, 2011 marks the centennial of Ronald Reagan's birth. Reagan died June 5, 2004 at the ripe old age of 93. Ironically, throughout that long life, he had been a model of fitness. If not for Alzheimer's disease, it is quite possible we might be watching news clips of an elderly Reagan blowing out a bunch of candles on a huge birthday cake.

That Reagan lost his life to the scourge of Alzheimer's is, of course, well-known. The issue has re-emerged with the comments by his son, Ron, speculating that Reagan might have begun experiencing the disease earlier than disclosed, during his presidency even. That speculation is not new, and has been vigorously debated before, including by experts on the disease and Reagan's physicians. I'm not going to rehash the debate here.

What I would like to do, however, is use this as an opportunity to report something on Reagan and Alzheimer's that has been missed over the years. Indeed, less known were Reagan's quite significant, and rather moving, private actions, during his presidency, on behalf of those suffering the disease. As a Reagan biographer who spent several summers researching presidential papers at the Reagan Library, I swerved into these actions unexpectedly.

Remarkably, Reagan had been highly active in confronting Alzheimer's from the start of his presidency. He would make eight separate statements on the disease, averaging one for each year in the White House. In these, he called Alzheimer's "devastating," an "indiscriminate killer of mind and life."

His final presidential statement came November 5, 1988. It is chilling to read now, as it foretells Reagan's own condition in his final years, and given that it came precisely six years to the day (November 5, 1994) when Reagan would announce to the world that he himself had the disease,

Alzheimer's disease ranks among the most severe of afflictions, because it strips people of their memory and judgment and robs them of the essence of their personalities,

. . . explained Reagan.

As the brain progressively deteriorates, tasks familiar for a lifetime, such as tying a shoelace or making a bed, become bewildering. Spouses and children become strangers. Slowly, victims of the disease enter profound dementia.

That was Reagan himself in the end - robbed of his essence. It was an eerie harbinger of what was to come.

While those presidential statements fell through the cracks of history, less-known still, but quite poignant, was Reagan's behind-the-scenes correspondence with Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, daughter of beautiful Hollywood star, Rita Hayworth. Hayworth was suffering a premature decline due to, of all things, Alzheimer's disease.

Reagan was concerned about Hayworth, who he had known since his days as head of the Screen Actors Guild in the 1940s. Tucked away in the Presidential Handwriting File at the Reagan Library are touching letters exchanged between Reagan and Yasmin Aga Khan.

The first was dated November 15, 1982, in which Khan thanked Reagan for signing a proclamation creating National Alzheimer's Awareness Week. She detailed her mother's condition and how it had early on damaged the actress's emotional well-being, leading to bouts with alcohol, which made her "very difficult" as a mother.

Reagan responded immediately. His two-page letter on White House stationary was dated November 19 - an impressive turnaround given major demands in the world at the time. The 40th president referenced his own parents, including his father's "very great drinking problem" and how his mother,

. . . bless her soul, continually told my brother and me that this was a sickness and that he could not help it, so we must not hate him but understand and love him.

Reagan said he was grateful that "today we have real knowledge of Alzheimer's disease," and hoped for a cure. He thanked Khan for her efforts: "God bless you for what you are doing. You will be in my prayers."

On May 14, 1987, Rita Hayworth died. The president telephoned Khan to offer condolences, and released a public statement expressing regret. Two months later, on July 28, Khan wrote to ask Reagan if he would be an honorary patron for the 1988 Rita Hayworth Gala, which had the goal of raising $1.5 million for Alzheimer's research. Not even a week later, Reagan responded, saying he would be "very pleased and honored. . . . Thanks for asking."

Rita Hayworth's case is just one example of President Reagan's concern, public and private, for this disease and its victims. Little did he know it would one day claim him, too.

The centennial of Reagan's birth brings all sorts of remembrances, from celebrations by conservative groups to symposia by academic centers and universities. These gatherings will discuss numerous aspects of Reagan's life and career, from the Cold War to tax cuts to Hollywood. And with Ron Reagan's recent comments, the role of Alzheimer's will be front and center. Alas, for Ronald Reagan, there was much more to that story. *

Sunday, 29 November 2015 03:51

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. These articles are republished from V & V, a web site of the Center for Vision & Values. Paul Kengor is author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004) and The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007). His latest book is The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007).

President Carter's "Superiority" Complex

Former president Jimmy Carter told NBC News on Monday that his work at home and abroad has been "superior" to other presidents. "I feel that my role as a former president is probably superior to that of other presidents," Carter assessed. "Primarily because of [my] activism and the injection of working at the Carter Center and in international affairs, and, to some degree, domestic affairs."

In response to this boastful claim, we'll hear the usual defenses: Carter misspoke. Carter is a good man. Carter has good intentions. I catch myself saying these things.

But even if well-intentioned, we shouldn't avoid frank appraisals of Carter's role. In truth, and especially when it relates to foreign policy, Carter has done far worse than better. More, his failures have resulted from a remarkably strange trust in some awful dictators. Carter's infamous naivete has been destructive, long producing inferior results, not superior ones.

Carter has been so unique in this regard, and worse than other presidents, Democrat and Republican, that, in my latest book, we placed him on the cover as a symbol of duped Americans during the Cold War; specifically, the June 1979 photo of a smiling Carter kissing Soviet dictator Leonid Brezhnev. Carter did this as the Soviets were rapidly picking up more satellites worldwide than any time since the 1940s, and mere months before they invaded Afghanistan.

Sure, but Carter, in his NBC interview, was talking about his work as a former president, right? Yes, but that record isn't much better.

If you think Carter was misled by Brezhnev, consider his statements in recent decades regarding Kim Jong Il, Kim Il Sung, Fidel Castro, Yasser Arafat, Hamas, Iraq, Iran, and on and on. I can't list them all, but one case stands out -- namely, Carter's visit to the world's most repressive state: Kim's North Korea.

Carter made a June 1994 trip to this prison state, where he was manipulated on a grand scale. Other Westerners have made that trip and were subject to manipulation. The difference, however, is few took the bait, and none like Carter. Worse, Carter magnified the manipulation in reports at press conferences, in interviews, and in a piece for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

For starters, Carter dispelled speculation that Kim was dying. He found the aging despot "vigorous, alert, intelligent." Kim died mere days after Carter's visit.

Carter questioned the consensus that Kim was even a despot, telling Americans he observed a Kim engaged in "very free discussions with his ministers." I'm sure that's precisely what he saw.

Kim spearheaded a militantly atheistic regime. Yet, Carter, the born-again Baptist, found Kim "very friendly toward Christianity."

Kim's handlers marched Carter through their phony Potemkin village. Carter was totally hoodwinked, filing this incredible account of life in North Korea:

People are busy. They work 48 hours a week. . . . We found Pyongyang to be a bustling city. The only difference is that during working hours there are very few people on the street. They all have jobs or go to school. And after working hours, they pack the department stores, which Rosalynn visited. I went in one of them. It's like Wal-Mart in American stores on a Saturday afternoon. They all walk around in there, and they seem in fairly good spirits. Pyongyang at night looks like Times Square. They are really heavily into bright neon lights and pictures and things like that.

In truth, North Korea is a sea of darkness. As a well-known satellite photo attests, the country at night is draped in black -- that is, when the lights are not ablaze to fool high-profile visitors like President Carter -- in empty contrast to South Korea, which is awash in the glow of freedom.

Within one year of Carter's gushing appraisal, two to three million North Koreans (out of a population of 20 million) starved to death. They weren't packing Wal-Mart; they were eating grass, bark from trees, and, in some cases, human corpses.

Recall, too, the nuclear agreement Carter brokered while there, and not exactly with the enthusiastic go-ahead of the Clinton administration. Carter stood outside the Clinton White House and triumphantly assured "the [nuclear] crisis is over" -- words headlined by the New York Times and Washington Post. A few years later, North Korea announced it was a nuclear state, in direct violation of the "Agreed Framework."

Such doings by Carter have continued into the War on Terror.

With Jimmy Carter, the duping by despots during his presidency has continued into his post-presidency. It is not a record of "superior" service.

Please understand, I'm not trying to be mean. But self-serving claims like Carter's should be answered. Intentions are one thing, but results are another. The Carter record should not be celebrated nor emulated.

A Dose of Capitalism and Freedom

It has been almost 50 years since Milton Friedman, Nobel economist, released his classic, Capitalism and Freedom. The book has slowly slipped from my course syllabus, not to mention that of the political elite. And why not? What Friedman said is now obvious. Surely, Americans, given the indisputable superiority of the free market over the statist model, no longer needed reminding of the abject failures of socialism, collectivism, wealth distribution, prime-the-pump "stimulus" spending, Keynesian deficit spending, and other discredited policy prescriptions?

Well, after a century of examples of what works and what doesn't, look at how America voted on November 4, 2008. As Ronald Reagan said, freedom is always a generation from extinction; it must be handed on again and again. The teaching process never ends.

So, I dusted off Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom. To be sure, Friedman had his faults, particularly in monetary policy, but, generally, his thoughts on economic freedom and the dangers of collectivism and central planning are timeless -- especially right now. Consider this nugget from Freidman, critically relevant to the fundamental misunderstandings being painfully reenacted before our very eyes by the progressives now running America:

In the 1920s and 1930s, intellectuals in the United States were overwhelmingly persuaded that capitalism was a defective system inhibiting economic well-being and thereby freedom, and that the hope for the future lay in a greater measure of deliberate control by political authorities over economic affairs. The conversion of the intellectuals was not achieved by the example of an actual collectivist society, though it undoubtedly was much hastened by the establishment of a Communist society in Russia and the glowing hopes placed in it. The conversion of the intellectuals was achieved by a comparison between the existing state of affairs, with all its injustices and defects, and a hypothetical state of affairs as it might be. The actual was compared with the ideal.

Tragically, the intellectuals are still striving for that ideal, certain that if only they can get in charge, they can apply all their collective wisdom, learned in their arcane graduate schools, where history's real lessons are sacrificed at the altar of fantasy and superstition. They can create a better, just society.

"The attitudes of that time are still with us," wrote Friedman.

There is still a tendency to regard any existing government intervention as desirable, to attribute all evils to the market, and to evaluate new proposals for government control in their ideal form, as they might work if run by able, disinterested men.

What Friedman added next is sobering. Writing in 1962, he noted that "conditions have changed," as we "now have several decades of experience with governmental intervention."

Indeed, it was clear then, way back in 1962, that free economies vastly outperform managed economies. And that was before the collapse of the Soviet/central-planning model, the economic explosion resulting from the Reagan-Thatcher tax cuts, the repudiation of Keynes even in Britain, the bankruptcy of the European welfare state, the rise of the Asian Tigers, and more. What was obvious in 1962 was beyond obvious in 2008 -- or should have been.

And yet, Friedman sensed a lingering threat, one that hadn't sauntered off into the night. It was a "subtle" threat, not from enemies outside but from do-gooders inside. He warned of an "internal threat" from those professing "good intentions and good will who wish to reform us," who "are anxious to use the power of the state to achieve their ends and confident of their own ability to do so."

It's so subtle that Americans voted for such reform, or "change," decisively, on November 4, 2008, without even knowing it, giving the threat vigor.

Thus, the managers and planners are in charge, with their hands on the ship of state, seizing the resources that feed the most dynamic, prosperous engine that capitalism and freedom ever produced. The Invisible Hand has been waved off by the visible hands of the reformers. And they are spending us into oblivion. Not only did we hit unprecedented deficits in the first year of the Obama administration, but we're at debt levels unseen since World War II. The record deficit left by George W. Bush suddenly looks desirable.

Interestingly, Milton Friedman offered this parting thought: He said that if these individuals ever actually gained the power they craved, they would ultimately "produce a collective state from which they would recoil in horror and of which they would be among the first victims."

Are they recoiling in horror? I see no evidence. The planners and "stimulus" pushers seem to think the problem hasn't been enough planning and stimulus. That being the case, if other data pans out -- such as the astonishing Gallup poll suggesting a GOP landslide in November -- they may nonetheless find themselves the "first victims:" victims of an electoral revolt that drives them from power.

Once again, capitalism would be preserved by freedom.

Thirty-five Years Ago: When Ford Snubbed Solzhenitsyn

It was 35 years ago this summer that the conservative movement found itself in a defining moral struggle not with the liberal Left but with the establishment wing of the Republican Party.

Here was the context: Soviet dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn had published his majestic Gulag Archipelago, blowing the whistle on the brutality of the Soviet system, a chilling account by an eyewitness, himself a survivor. It was a stirring demonstration of the power of the pen and truth, casting light upon the darkness of an evil empire.

Pravda judged the masterful testimony "slanderous." For his transgression, Solzhenitsyn was arrested by the KGB, stripped of Soviet citizenship, and charged with treason. Unable to banish or shoot him because of his international celebrity, the Kremlin's thugs, repulsed as they were by decency, expelled the great moralist. The writer made his way west, eventually taking residence in the United States.

Of course, everyone in America wanted to hear from him. On June 30, 1975, Solzhenitsyn accepted a request from George Meany, the stalwart anti-Communist labor leader, to speak at an AFL-CIO dinner in Washington. There, the former prisoner cut loose, freely blasting away not merely at the USSR but at any effort to accommodate it, particularly through the prevailing policy of detente.

Solzhenitsyn told the AFL-CIO that America was "a country of generosity; a country of magnanimity." He gravely warned America about "unprincipled compromises," about sacrificing "conscience," and about making "deals with evil." He was especially concerned that America would be duped into trusting phony Soviet human-rights promises at the Helsinki conference, just weeks away.

Again, given Solzhenitsyn's credibility, everyone in America wanted to meet with him in 1975, to gather his wisdom.

Well, maybe not everyone. The one exception was the president of the United States, Republican Gerald Ford.

With Solzhenitsyn in town to speak to the AFL-CIO, he was literally down the block from the White House. It was an opportune time for Ford to meet with him. Conservatives, from Republicans like Ronald Reagan, Jack Kemp, and Jesse Helms, to anti-Communist Democrats like Scoop Jackson, urged the president to do so.

Ford refused. He was backed by his right-hand man in foreign policy, Henry Kissinger. The Ford administration was so wedded to detente, and to getting along with the Soviets, that it dared not offend the Brezhnev regime by meeting with Kremlin Public Enemy No. 1. And so, Solzhenitsyn was thrown under the bus. Ford desired to please Leonid Brezhnev more than displease Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

On Ford's refusal, several items of evidence have since emerged, including minutes from two specific Cabinet meetings. Those minutes are painful to read, as Ford made clear he would not jeopardize "progress" and the "continuation of detente" because of the dissident.

More distasteful, as recorded by historian Douglas Brinkley, Ford privately slammed Solzhenitsyn as "a god d--n horse's ass." Brinkley stated: "Ford complained that the dissident Russian writer wanted to visit the White House primarily to publicize his books and drum up lecture dates."

To be blunt, this was a stunningly idiotic assessment of a man who was both moralist and recluse.

If you want a gauge of how awful was Ford's snub, consider that it angered even the New York Times and Jimmy Carter. "Does President Ford know the difference between detente and appeasement?" asked the liberal Times in an editorial. As for Carter, he openly criticized Ford during a presidential debate.

Generally, Gerald Ford had been so bad that the editorial board at William F. Buckley's National Review actually considered endorsing Jimmy Carter in 1976. As Lee Edwards notes in his excellent new biography of Buckley, NR's editors (specifically James Burnham) at least considered that endorsement.

Likewise, Ronald Reagan was so upset that he challenged Ford for the Republican presidential nomination the next summer. The Solzhenitsyn snub was one of the final straws for Reagan.

Alas, one saving grace from this sad episode is that it helped produce the death of detente and the birth of the Reagan presidency, but only after an even more painful period, namely four horrendous years under President Jimmy Carter -- made possible by Gerald Ford. Ford gave way to Reagan. And with the advent of that seachange at the head of the GOP, accommodation was out and "rollback"-- i.e., the goal of undermining the USSR -- was in. It was that tectonic shift at the Republican helm that sealed the fate of the Soviet empire.

What a difference four years can make, especially for conservatives who stick to principle. Could history soon repeat itself?

Newsflash: Stalin Liberates Normandy

Call it another Twilight Zone moment; another ignominious contribution to the "you-can't-make-this-up" category. First, Mao Tse-tung was honored by oblivious New Yorkers, with their Empire State Building aglow in red and yellow in October, 2009, to commemorate the birth of Red China. Mao's nearest rival for trophy of top mass murderer in history was Joseph Stalin. Perhaps other clueless Americans could find a way to honor Stalin, too -- maybe closer to Washington, DC, the nation's capital?

Hey, don't laugh. The National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, has done just that, erecting a statue of Stalin. No, I'm not kidding.

Predictably, the mainstream press is not talking about this. The press is dominated by the same people who dominate our educational system; they are largely uninterested in the horrors of Communism. It is Joe McCarthy, not Joe Stalin, who consumes their Cold War outrage.

The only reason I know about this travesty is the vigilant work of Lee Edwards' Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, which has the heroic goal of trying -- desperately -- to educate Americans about the forgotten holocaust committed by Communists in the 20th century, which exceeded 100 million deaths, double the combined death total of the two world wars. Likewise worthy endeavors, such as the National Holocaust Memorial, do crucial work reminding us of Hitler's genocide. But aside from Edwards' organization, no other has formally assumed the task of reminding the world of the unparalleled carnage caused by Communist governments -- where, incidentally, Joseph Stalin led the pack.

As for the Stalin statue, Edwards' group has a website ( to call attention to this moral-historical slander. The site features a petition to remove the statue, with over 3,000 signatures from every state and over 40 countries, including some really upset folks from the former Soviet empire. Addressed to the National D-Day Memorial Foundation and President Obama's secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar, the petition demands that the "true history of World War II must be protected from distortion and misinformation which threaten to erase or alter well-established and documented facts."

Among those facts is a rather vital one, noted in the petition's next line: "neither Joseph Stalin nor Soviet forces played any part in the D-Day landing at Normandy."

Indeed, ironically, such disinformation was once the crass domain of Kremlin propagandists, cooked up to dupe gullible Westerners. Stalin himself had his in-house stooges retroactively invent him a gallant wartime role. Imagine that his arch-rival from the Cold War -- the United States of America -- would earnestly pick up that charge, under no threat of execution or imprisonment by the long-dead tyrant. Stalin is surely howling from his tomb.

Even then, the statue represents far graver distortion. Consider:

Stalin was morally complicit in the indescribable deaths of all those boys (non-Russian) who stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944. Five years earlier, during the dark of night August 23-24, 1939, Stalin's USSR and Hitler's Germany signed a secret pact. One week later, in keeping with that pact, Hitler invaded Poland from the west. Two and a half weeks later, the Red Army, likewise in keeping with that pact, invaded Poland from the east. World War II was on. The catalyst for Europe's ultimate liberation would come June 6, 1944, D-Day -- no thanks whatsoever to Stalin.

Importantly, Russian soldiers (not Stalin) deserve commendation for Hitler's defeat. In June 1941, Hitler betrayed Stalin, invading the USSR. It was a bloody rout. No country suffered as many dead as the USSR -- 40 times the combined death toll of America and Britain. A major reason for Russia's staggering losses was Stalin's Great Purge, where the tyrant murdered the nation's high command, leaving novices in charge of opposing Hitler's blitzkrieg. This was so irresponsibly, wickedly disastrous that Stalin's successor, Nikita Khrushchev, rightly blamed Stalin for the millions of Russian boys killed by the Nazis.

If this history is new to you, then you, too, are a victim. You're a casualty of America's educational system, from public schools to our woefully biased, scandalously over-priced universities. That likewise applies to those responsible for honoring Stalin at the National D-Day Memorial, who are probably oblivious. Really, their monument to Stalin is a monument to American education.

It's time to purge the architect of the Great Purge. The statue should be dismembered not peacefully but violently, befitting Stalin's character. I suggest a sledgehammer, with survivors of the dictator's savage campaigns, from Poland to the Ukraine to Siberia, each getting a whack. *

"A good government implies two things; first, fidelity to the objects of the government; secondly, a knowledge of the means, by which those objects can be best attained." --Joseph Story

Sunday, 29 November 2015 03:45

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. These articles are republished from V & V, a web site of the Center for Vision & Values. Paul Kengor is author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004) and The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007). His latest book is The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007).

The Forgotten Battle of World War II: Remembering the Aleutian Campaign

The Williwaw War: The Arkansas National Guard in the Aleutians in World War II, by Donald Goldstein and Katherine V. Dillon. University of Arkansas Press, 1992.

Every Memorial Day presents an opportunity to commemorate those who served in some faraway place long ago, many who paid that ultimate sacrifice. World War II offers its share of remembrances: Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941; Normandy, June 6, 1944; the Battle of the Bulge, December 16, 1944; to name a few.

Sadly, however, one series of battles continues to be ignored.

On June 3, 1942, the Japanese bombed Dutch Harbor, located at the Aleutian Islands, west of the Alaskan peninsula. Three days later, they landed on the islands of Kiska and Attu, culminating in the only battles of the war fought in North America. Many of the men there went through hell.

Remarkably, the battle is barely known.

One person who has not forgotten is renowned World War II historian, Donald Goldstein. Goldstein, a retired University of Pittsburgh professor, authored one of the only books on the campaign, called the "Williwaw War," named for the freezing, high-velocity winds flowing from Siberia and the Bering Sea, which made service in the Aleutians a constant misery.

"It was strategically very important who controlled those islands," says Goldstein. The Americans stationed there "kept the Japanese from the West Coast and from invading the U.S. mainland. . . . From a strategic point of view, you can't underestimate the situation there. Look at a map! The Aleutians aren't very far from Seattle."

In the Aleutians, American troops battled not only the Japanese, but debilitating weather and boredom. To combat the fierce and unpredictable williwaws, soldiers leaned forward as they walked, before falling on their faces as the winds abruptly ended. They battled blinding, waste-deep snow, dense fog, sleet that felt like a sandblaster.

To escape the climate, troops spent hours inside. The boredom was so bad that some drank anything they could find. There were stories of casualties from "torpedo juice." Morale was awful.

"War is boredom mixed with moments of stark terror," says Goldstein. "You sit and wait. And then all at once it comes."

And when it came to the Aleutians, it came with ferocity. Shortly after bombing Dutch Harbor, the Japanese took Attu and Kiska. Thirteen months later, in August 1943, American forces sought to drive them out. Kiska was easy, since Japanese forces had bailed out two weeks earlier. Attu, however, was another story.

Attu was taken back only after a horrible fight. Japan fought to the last man. Facing defeat, 500 Japanese soldiers committed suicide with their own grenades. Whereas Dutch Harbor witnessed fewer than 100 casualties, U.S. burial patrols at Attu counted 2,351 Japanese bodies. Total U.S. casualties were 3,829 -- 549 killed. Some believe it was the bloodiest battle of World War II.

And yet, few Americans have heard of the battle. Notes Goldstein: "Even [at the time] there was hardly any press coverage. If you ask most people today where Attu is they have no idea. . . . It's forgotten."

Do the veterans of this campaign feel neglected?

"Oh, yes," says Goldstein. "They're bitter. These guys never got the credit they deserve."

Many of the unrecognized survivors suffered premature deaths once they got home. One was Andrew Boggs Covert, a tall, lanky fellow who had worked at Pullman Standard in Butler, Pennsylvania prior to the war. Boggs found himself drafted into the Marines Corps as a 30-year-old with seven children. His surviving son, Jim, recalls riding to Pittsburgh to say goodbye to his father in 1942.

It was not a permanent goodbye, as Andrew survived the brutal combat. "He told me about some of the hand-to-hand stuff," says his son today. "It was traumatic. But he was matter of fact: 'Do it, take care of it, serve your country, get over it.'"

Still, getting over it was not that easy. Andrew died in October 1966 at age 54.

A survivor who outlived Andrew was Leonard Levandoski of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, a member of the 11th Fighter Squadron, who spent two grueling years at Attu.

A few years back, while writing for a newspaper, I tried to track down Leonard on a tip from the Department of Veterans Affairs: "This guy is perfect for you to interview," said the press person. "Every year he writes letters-to-the-editor trying to get people to remember what happened. He'll be thrilled to get your call."

When I called, Leonard's wife, Geraldine, answered. "Who is this?" she said slowly. When I gave my name and purpose, Geraldine began to cry. "Leonard just passed away," she told me. "He waited years for someone to call."

Many of those veterans have now passed away. The years have slowly faded, with no one calling about the Aleutians. It is about time we remember.

Helen Thomas Angers Her Media Colleagues -- Finally

Veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas announced her sudden "retirement" [in early June]. The source was an insight shared by Thomas outside the White House during a Jewish-American Heritage Month celebration. Asked about her feelings toward Jews and Israel, the 89-year-old conscience of the White House press corps opined that the Palestinian people "are occupied" by Jews, and that "Palestine" is "their land" and Israelis ought to "go home" to Poland, Germany, "and everywhere else." More pointedly, Thomas averred that Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine."

Thomas's statements are obscene in their historical, political, and moral ignorance and callousness. Jews, of course, lived in those areas prior to the founding of the modern nation-state of Israel. In fact, in large part because of what happened to Jews in those areas -- "liquidation" by Hitler -- Israel was created in May 1948. Thomas, more than any member of the White House press corps, should know this, as she actually lived through the tragic history.

No matter. Thomas believes what she believes, and now no longer works for Hearst Corporation, which responded by announcing her "retirement"--"effective immediately."

I won't dance on Thomas's grave. I'm fascinated, however, by her colleagues' sudden disapproval. In truth, Helen Thomas has been saying outrageous things for years. When she insulted Republican presidents like George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, liberals hailed her as "dean of White House correspondents," deserving of the opening question at press conferences. They adored her when she was a walking, talking Nickelodeon snapping at conservatives. Here are two memorable examples:

In his first week in office, George W. Bush launched his Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, providing federal money to local "helpers and healers." Importantly, these faith-based organizations were prohibited from proselytizing; they could assist the needy, but couldn't seek to convert them to a particular faith. Precisely because of that prohibition, many conservatives rejected the concept, fearing that it neutered these organizations.

But that wasn't how Helen Thomas saw it, as she made clear to the new president in his first press conference:

Thomas: Mr. President, why do you refuse to respect the wall between the church and state? And you know that the mixing of religion and government for centuries has led to slaughter. I mean, the very fact that our country has stood in good stead by having the separation -- why do you break it down?
Bush: Helen, I strongly respect the separation of church and state . . .
Thomas: Well, you wouldn't have a religious office in the White House if you did. . . . [Y]ou are a secular official. . . . [A]nd not a missionary.

To Helen Thomas, Bush had created not an Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, but an Office of Christian Apologetics and Crusading.

Another unforgettable Thomas moment -- much more damaging -- occurred two decades earlier at a Reagan press conference. At issue was the Strategic Defense Initiative, which, we now know, terrified the Soviets, and was decisive in the Soviet collapse. Thomas, however, saw SDI as a target for ridicule. Quite unprofessionally, she seized Senator Ted Kennedy's pejorative for the system: "Star Wars."

To this day, the damage caused by that term isn't appreciated. Ronald Reagan found that the Soviets employed the language to suggest that Reagan desired not a defensive system but an offensive system to launch war in space. Reagan privately complained that he "bristled" each time the media used the label. Here's an exchange with Helen Thomas:

Thomas: Mr. President, if you are flexible, are you willing to trade off research on "Star Wars" ... or are you against any negotiations on "Star Wars"?
Reagan: Well, let me say, what has been called "Star Wars"-- and, Helen, I wish whoever coined that expression would take it back again . . .
Thomas: Well, Strategic Defense . . .
Reagan: . . . because it gives a false impression of what it is we're talking about.

Thomas immediately rebuffed the president: "Even if you don't like the term, it's quite popular."

Reagan's request was reasonable: the program's name was the Strategic Defense Initiative. Professional reporters should use its proper name, not a name of political derision.

Of course, the Soviets were elated. From Pravda to Izvestia, they ran with the label. TASS, the official Soviet news agency, adopted it, commending the likes of Thomas (and Kennedy) for "getting it right" on SDI, for calling Reagan's "bluff." It was a coup for the Kremlin, a gem of a propaganda tool.

Similarly, Helen Thomas's recent comments -- on Israel -- again thrilled the enemy. In calling for Jews to leave Israel, Thomas (no exaggeration) toed the party line of Hezbollah and Al Qaeda, of Osama Bin Laden and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

That's a dubious achievement for the dean of White House correspondents. I'm impressed that her liberal colleagues are finally offended.

With Father, Through the Valley of Death

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death/I will fear no evil: for thou art with me. (Psalm 23:4)

My family and I drove aside the Mall in Washington, D.C., creeping along Independence Avenue in search of a parking spot. We were beyond the Washington Monument, further south near our ultimate destination: the Lincoln Memorial. It was part of an educational field trip to teach our children about the Civil War, and to embrace a teachable moment on how the nation's Civil War president fought for the basic rights and dignity of every human being, including those that the culture and law of the day considered not fully human.

Finally, we found an open meter next to the Department of the Interior. We put the baby in a stroller and crossed the street. At a fork in the path, I suggested we go left, while my wife said we should head right. We went right -- good call.

Before we knew it, we encountered more people heading in the same direction. Suddenly, we descended into a dip in the walkway, and then I noticed it, for the first time, completely caught off guard, truly taken aback: I was staring at the Vietnam War Memorial.

I'm embarrassed to say I had never seen it before. I always wanted to see it. Now, we had happened upon it, and it isn't the kind of thing you want to happen upon.

The scene was absolutely somber, just as everyone says. It's the spirit of the place. All those names, cast against the black -- all those boys whose lives were cut short in that war in Southeast Asia decades ago.

The mood is remarkably sad for anyone -- even those of us with no recollection of a single person on that wall -- but it's devastating for those lonely visitors who have a connection, who have intimate knowledge of someone on that wall; they see a face, and memories, when they see the name. There they are: touching the chiseled name, caressing it, speaking to it, praying for it, crying over it, or placing a piece of paper atop it and rubbing a crayon to bring it home. It's the only physical remainder left from their loved one, and so they want to be with it and take it back where it belongs.

I glimpsed an old man, kneeling, weeping, as he rested his hand on what must have been his long-deceased son. For a younger dad, like myself, to witness that sheer sense of loss, aside my own young boys, alive and well, not yet of age for military service, is jarring.

We poked along gradually, haltingly, speechlessly, taking in scene upon scene. We were in the valley of death.

Alas, as I neared the end, having lagged behind in a daze, sauntering past the dead, it suddenly dawned on me that I had been clutching the hand of my precious three-year-old, Abigail Joy, the entire time.

"Good Lord," I thought to myself, "what have I just done to this child?" This sweet, innocent girl. What had I exposed her to? Had I just traumatized this beautiful little girl?

In that flash, I expected to look down and see a sobbing, troubled, confused child, who would need explanations and parental counseling. Instead, I was amazed when she looked up at me, beamed, cocked her head to the side, blushed, and smiled. She was filled with joy over simply being with her dad, holding his hand in a leisurely walk down a path on a pretty day. She hadn't seen a thing on that dark, grim wall.

Abigail had been shielded, protected, with her dad. All she knew, in her universe, was that she was with her father, and all was right with the world. She had walked through the valley of the shadow of death with her father, and feared no evil, because she was with him.

Yes, the Psalm fits. It had also once fit for those same boys on that wall, as they crept through the rice paddies and jungles, as gunfire and grenades and landmines surrounded them, and, most poignantly, as they met their own final moments in their own valley. It fits today, too, for their parents, peering at that wall, reminiscing back to when their children were three-year-olds.

All of them: those soldiers, their parents, and passersby who happen upon that wall; they all have a Father to lead them, to be with them, who they can hold on to and look up to, as they enter the valley. Sometimes, it takes the vantage of a child to bring the message home. *

"A just security to property is not afforded by that government, under which unequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species." --James Madison

Sunday, 29 November 2015 03:42

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. These articles are republished from V & V, a web site of the Center for Vision & Values. Paul Kengor is author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004) and The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007). His latest book is The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007).

God Gets His Healthcare Bill

The most frustrating thing I've dealt with in professional life was eight years of outrageous, baseless charges against President George W. Bush on matters of faith. Even when Bush was simply asked about his faith, and responded with utterly benign statements, like saying he couldn't imagine surviving the presidency "without faith in the Lord," or noting he prayed before committing troops, echoing every president from Washington to Lincoln to Wilson to Carter to Clinton, he was viciously assaulted.

"We are dealing with a messianic militarist!" thundered Ralph Nader.

"He should not be praying," intoned Lawrence O'Donnell to the MSNBC faithful.

Repeatedly, I was called to respond to this nonsense. My retort was agonizingly simple: I merely ran through example after example of American Founders, presidents -- Democrats and Republicans -- saying either precisely what Bush said or something far more extreme, like Woodrow Wilson claiming God called upon him to found the League of Nations, or FDR mounting a battleship leading troops in a rendition of "Onward Christian Soldiers."

What I said rarely mattered. Every Bush mention of God was a signal, somehow, that this Bible-quoting "simpleton" was trying to transform America into a "theocracy."

Alas, there was another tactic I used: I quoted current Democrats on the campaign trail, from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama, invoking the Almighty. I knew that if these politicians reached the White House, they'd say the same as Bush, or much more -- with no backlash from the secular media. Quite the contrary, liberals would roll out the red carpet, enthusiastically welcoming faith into the public square.

All of that is prelude to my point here today:

The Religious Left, from "social justice" Catholic nuns and Protestant ministers to the Democratic Speaker of the House and president of the United States, have been incessantly claiming God's advocacy of their healthcare reform. That's no surprise, just as it's no surprise that the press is not only not outraged but silently supportive. There's nary a whimper, let alone howls, of "separation of church and state"!

Consider a few examples, most telling in light of passage of the healthcare bill:

Last August, President Obama addressed a virtual gathering of 140,000 Religious Left individuals. He told them he was "going to need your help" in passing healthcare. Obama penitently invoked a period of "40 Days," a trial of deliverance from conservative tormentors, from temptation by evildoers. He lifted up the brethren, assuring them, "We are God's partner in matters of life and death."

Like a great commissioning, in the 40 Days that followed the Religious Left was filled with the spirit, confidently spreading the word, pushing for -- among other things -- abortion funding as part of an eternally widening "social justice" agenda. The Religious Institute, which represents 4,800 clergy, urged Congress to include abortion funding in "healthcare" reform, adamantly rejecting amendments that prohibited funding. To not help poor women secure their reproductive rights was unjust, declared the progressive pastors. As the Rev. Debra Hafner, executive director of the Religious Institute, complained, federal policy already "unfairly prevents low-income women and federal employees from receiving subsidized" abortions.

Here we see the Religious Left's continued perversion of "social justice." Behold: social justice abortions.

Early last week, a group of 59 nuns sent Congress a letter urging passage of the healthcare bill. This came in direct defiance of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which insisted the bill "must be opposed" because of its refusal to explicitly ban abortion funding. What the bishops said didn't matter, one nun told Fox's Neil Cavuto -- supporting the bill is what "Jesus would do."

The liberal media cheered on the nuns, gleefully exaggerating the sisters' influence. In a breathtaking display, the Los Angeles Times beamed, "Nuns' support for healthcare bill shows [Catholic] Church split." Quoting the nuns, the Times reported that the letter represented not more than 50 nuns but over 50,000. Like Jesus with the loaves, the militantly secular/liberal Times had displayed miraculous powers of multiplication.

Finally, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, a Roman Catholic, invoked the Solemnity of the Feast of St. Joseph on behalf of the healthcare bill. She urged American Catholics to "pray to St. Joseph the Worker." Such overtures are hardly new for Pelosi, who routinely exhorts Democratic disciples to vote the liberal/progressive agenda as an "act of worship."

All of that is prelude, of course, to what happened the evening of March 21, 2010, A.D., with a rare vote not merely on a Sunday -- God's day -- but the final Sunday in Lent, the week before Palm Sunday that initiates the Lord's Passion. To President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and the Religious Left faithful, Jesus, presumably, has gotten his healthcare package.

Amid that process, secular liberals got religion, as their political soulmates spearheaded this "change" in the name of Jesus Christ. It's a quite radical departure from eight years of scourging George W. Bush every time he confessed he prayed. At long last, there is room for Jesus in the inn, so long as the Savior "supports" a certain agenda. Who says conversions don't happen?

Buchenwald and the Totalitarian Century

This spring 2010 marks some sordid anniversaries: 65 years since the discovery of the Nazi concentration camps that facilitated the slaughter of six million Jews and four million various others deemed "misfits" and "undesirables" by Hitler and his henchmen.

The ugly footage of corpses left behind is a visual reminder of the in-your-face insanity and inhumanity of Nazi fascism. Yet, less obvious is how seamlessly that form of totalitarianism was supplanted by another, one that haunted the scene even longer. For much of Europe in the spring of 1945, an Iron Curtain quickly descended across the continent, as Central and Eastern Europe was again gobbled up, this time by vicious Soviets who replaced vicious Nazis.

That changing of the guard took place at the level of the soldiers, the secret police, the local officials, and, yes, even the concentration camps themselves.

Consider: When Hitler's goons fled the concentration camps at the site of Allied guns in the spring of 1945, it was left to the Allies -- the United States, the United Kingdom, and the USSR -- to grapple with what they suddenly confronted. Once the survivors were freed and carefully transported, what would the Allies do with the camps?

For nations like America and Britain, steeped in Judeo-Christian notions of fairness and justice, the options for the camps ranged from the legal, meaning document them as evidence of Nazi war crimes for the Nuremberg trials, to the theological: exorcise them.

For the USSR, however, the next step was a no-brainer: use the camps. Indeed, fling the doors open and get 'em back in business. The Communists were not about to waste a perfectly functional, German-built concentration camp. If the Soviet system knew how to do one thing, it was to collectivize and redistribute squalor and death.

In truth, that unique Soviet solution ought not to be a surprise, as totalitarians like Vladimir Lenin had not only constructed similar facilities but had used the phrase "concentration camp" two decades before Hitler appropriated the term. Lenin's replacement, Joe Stalin, had annihilated tens of millions in such camps well before Hitler ramped up.

Thus, in the spring of 1945, the Russians saw an opening at the Nazi camps, tailor-fit to Communist ideology.

A crass case in point was Buchenwald, one of the more infamous Nazi camps, where hundreds of thousands had been incarcerated and upwards of 50,000 perished, some in the most sadistic fashion, from Jews who were gassed to priests who were crucified upside down. Americans liberated Buchenwald on April 11, 1945.

Not long thereafter, Buchenwald (located near Weimar, Germany) ended up in the Soviet zone of occupation. Knowing how to run a concentration camp, the Russians were eager to crank the wheels -- especially on Germans now at their feet rather than at their throat. For Stalin, Beria, Molotov, and a disturbingly high number of malicious colonels and lieutenants and common soldiers, it was payback time. Payback would be done according to Lenin's definition of morality: there is no morality, except that which furthers Soviet interests.

A witness to this poisonous worldview was a 22-year-old American citizen named John Noble, who lived in the Weimar area and got caught in the crossfire. He observed Red Army soldiers ransacking his neighborhood, rounding up innocents, and imbibing in special displays of depravity toward women: "In the house next to ours," Noble told Laurence Rees in Rees' outstanding book, World War II Behind Closed Doors,

Soviet troops went in and pulled the women out on the street, had mattresses that they pulled out, and raped the women. The men had to watch, and then they were shot. Right at the end of our street a woman was tied to a wagon wheel and was terribly misused.

The poor souls who survived this torment were shipped to various German-turned-Soviet hellholes for long-term incarceration. Noble was tossed into Buchenwald, which was conveniently renamed Soviet Special Camp No. 2.

The story of Buchenwald under Nazi management is bad enough; it was reproduced from Auschwitz to Dachau. But the 20th century is rich in unforgettable lessons. Among them, the world would do well to remember that Buchenwald was liberated only temporarily in 1945. Its demons did not rest, ready to leap into a new set of vessels. Stalinism provided them by the tank load.

Buchenwald and its ilk are cold, gray markers of the menace of totalitarianism. It is a headstone standing astride the 20th century like a giant grim reaper, robbing the world of 50 million lives in World War II and 100 million more under Communist regimes -- unprecedented carnage. It's an old story, a familiar evil, one born of an ancient source that every generation must be prepared to meet and defeat.

Speaking Truth to History: A Perfect Game

I'm not one to bother with the latest alleged blockbuster buzzing from the salons of Hollywood high culture. Over the course of two valuable hours, I can only take so many car chases, explosions, and run-of-the-mill depravity. Alas, I had a welcome respite from all of that last weekend when I joined a crowd of about 700 at Grove City College's Crawford Auditorium for a special screening of the newly released "The Perfect Game," made possible by Jim Van Eerden, a wonderful, talented man who graduated from Grove City College over two decades ago and who is the film's executive producer.

I will not attempt to don the hat of critic, assessing various esoteric elements of the work as "film." There were, however, some things that really stood out as I watched this moving story -- things in keeping with my normal hat as an observer of faith, politics, and history.

The movie is based on the true story of nine boys from Monterrey, Mexico, who made it all the way to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in 1957, where they won the legendary Little League World Series, and by no less than a perfect game tossed by pitcher Angel Macias. They were led by the inspiring tandem of a coach named Cesar Faz and a priest named Padre Estaban.

I saw a movie that should appeal to both sides of the political fence and, spiritually speaking, to an even wider audience.

Of course, this isn't a political movie. The message is one of faith and hope, a general principle that applies to every member of the human race. Nonetheless, here's a movie that liberals and conservatives alike can applaud. It embodies the American dream, pursued by poor Mexican kids, who struggle to make it out of their village, over the border, and across America, from Corpus Christi to Kentucky to I-80. They persevere on hard work and prayer. They endure the ugliness of the segregated South. They are underdogs, discriminated against, as are the African-Americans they encounter, not to mention the female sportswriter who follows them.

From a faith perspective, the movie is warmly ecumenical. The boys are first shepherded by their devoted priest, who blesses everything from Holy Communion to baseball gloves. When the priest returns to the parish mid-way through the boys' successful run, the team is fostered by another fatherly spiritual mentor: an African-American Baptist preacher, who encourages the boys and offers selfless service, as does his lovable wife. Intercessors range from Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Book of Psalms.

The movie's unafraid, unapologetic commitment to faith is splendid. It is commitment, frankly, that risks the wrath of the apostles of American secular culture. This will be the film's highest hurdle in achieving popular acclaim. Hey, so be it.

Yet, what most impressed me was the film's faithfulness to truth and history.

How many times have you watched a movie intended to inspire, that deals with a certain era, and find no mention of faith? You sense, given your knowledge of the way things used to be, that a church, a minister, a devout parent, a Sunday school teacher had to have been involved somewhere. You do a little research, only to find it was indeed a matter of faith that propelled the hero to greatness. And yet, tragically, the post-modern mavens expunged this "faith angle" from the script. It was just too "religious."

Instead, then, the final product is, in reality, a deceptive perversion of truth -- and not worthy of inspiration. The creators airbrushed the Creator who, in point of fact, made the entire drama possible to begin with. That's another kind of game: a quite imperfect one, a form of cinematic and historical fraud, produced by a dominant culture that violates trust.

Mercifully, that isn't what happened with "The Perfect Game." Here was a crew -- from writers to producers -- that spoke the truth. Truth was valued and honored. Whatever else you might say about the movie, from technical merits to some pretentious, impressive-sounding mumbo-jumbo, that's an artistic achievement as special as a perfect game. *

"To be prepared for war, is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace." --George Washington

Sunday, 29 November 2015 03:37

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is professor of Political Science and Executive Director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. These articles are republished from V & V, a website of the Center for Vision & Values. Paul Kengor is author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004) and The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007). His latest book is The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007).

A Candle for Iran? A Reagan Lesson for Obama -- from Christmas 1981

Twice in this space last summer, I wrote about Iran -- specifically, the dramatic June protests against the theocratic-totalitarian regime of Holocaust-denying despot Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. More than that, I focused on President Obama's reaction to the Iranian cry for freedom.

Obama's initial response was outrageous. It improved only after widespread criticism. Still, even given the improvement in his rhetoric, it was a telling display of our new president's tragic lack of recognition of what presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush termed the "March of Freedom."

I concluded those articles by emphasizing the need for Obama to employ the bully pulpit of the presidency to promote this vital groundswell of freedom in Iran. I noted how Reagan had done precisely that in places like Poland in the 1980s, with grand historical results. For Obama, this means not simply reacting to occasional incidents in Iran -- when they rarely present themselves -- but to be proactive, creative, to regularly call out the tyrants and encourage the dissidents. Obama must do this if he wants to push the freedom tide, if he wants to try to change the status quo in a dungeon like Iran, which for 30 years has been the world's worst terrorist state.

If I may, I'd like to offer a specific example from the Reagan playbook. It happened 28 years ago -- Christmas time -- this week. You will not hear about it in our public schools and liberal universities. That's a loss for liberals, too; they're missing a moving lesson that their guy -- President Obama -- could benefit from considerably.

The moment was December 1981. In the Evil Empire, "church watchers" were on duty, sitting in chapels monitoring the "stupid people" entering to worship. The Communist "war on religion" (Mikhail Gorbachev's apt description) was in full riot, as was the ugliness of Communist repression generally.

The prospects for shining light upon that darkness seemed bleak. The Soviets were on the march, having added 11 proxy states as allies since 1974. The new man in Washington, President Ronald Reagan, was sure he could reverse Moscow's surge. He would jump-start the process in Poland, a repressed Communist Bloc state -- but one where hope survived.

Just then, on December 13, the lights went out again. At midnight, as a soft snow fell on Warsaw, secret police raided Lech Walesa's Solidarity labor union. The Polish Communist government, consenting to orders from Moscow, declared martial law. Solidarity's freedom fighters were shot or imprisoned.

But as Poles prayed for light to pierce the shadows, some remarkable things began to transpire. A week and a half later, the Polish ambassador defected to the United States. Right away, President Reagan welcomed the ambassador and his wife into the Oval Office. They were overwhelmed. The ambassador's wife wept, as Vice President George H. W. Bush put an arm around her shoulders to comfort her.

The ambassador then made an extraordinary request:

May I ask you a favor, Mr. President? Would you light a candle and put it in the window tonight for the people of Poland?

Ronald Reagan rose and walked to the second floor, lit a candle, and put it in the White House window.

But Reagan wanted to do more. He saw a window of opportunity. So, on December 23, with Christmas only two days away, speaking to all of America in a nationwide address, the president connected the spirit of the season with events in Poland: "For a thousand years," he told his fellow Americans:

. . . Christmas has been celebrated in Poland, a land of deep religious faith, but this Christmas brings little joy to the courageous Polish people. They have been betrayed by their own government.

The president then took a remarkable liberty: He asked Americans that Christmas to light a candle for freedom in Poland.

It was a significant gesture, for Poland, for America, for a free world. Poles heard about it, and took it to heart; they talk about it still today.

What does this have to do with President Obama and Iran? Everything. To wit: How about doing something similar for Iranians today? Why not light a candle as a sign of hope for Iran's freedom fighters? If not a candle, then something -- some kind of overt public display.

Would such an action offend the Iranian leadership? Of course -- just as the light of day and light of truth repels a vampire.

The point, again, is for the American president to be proactive, creative, encouraging, to advance positive change. He can make these simple but profound gestures even as he proceeds with his domestic agenda. Reagan did.

Of course, there's an interesting juxtaposition: Both domestically and in foreign policy, Reagan sought to remove power from the state and transfer it to the individual -- whether through tax cuts for Americans or through undermining the Communist totalitarianism shackling Poles. Obama is looking to empower the state domestically, while not undermining the theocratic totalitarianism shackling Iranians. It's an instructive contrast.

And so, President Obama, I go back to my conclusion in my earlier articles: If you want to employ America as that light, as that beacon of freedom, then get going.

Bring a flicker of hope to freedom's dungeon. Shine it into the terror state of Iran.

Of course, proclaiming liberty to the captives means desiring it to be so. A proclaimer must first be a believer. Like Reagan, and, yes, like George W. Bush, you need to believe in the American ideal -- in the heart, the soul, the gut. You need to believe, as Ronald Reagan did, that America is less a place than an idea. Is Obama a believer? I said six months ago that time will tell. So far, the story isn't promising.

Who Was Nels Konnerup?

America honors its deceased presidents, its fallen troops, its late senators, and even its musicians and movie stars. But what about its veterinarians?

Well, there's one veterinarian who deserves pause for recognition. His name was Nels Konnerup. He recently passed away at age 92.

Born in Everett, Washington, on December 4, 1916, Konnerup was shaped by the crucible of the Great Depression. He survived it the old-fashioned, American way: faith and family, himself and his parents, hard work, rugged individualism. For the remainder of his life, he would lament Americans' slow surrender of responsibility from the self to the federal government.

Konnerup put himself through college at Washington State University. His subsequent contributions were numerous, with a resume of rich distinctions, including uniquely valuable service during the Cold War.

While many players fought for freedom during the Cold War -- ambassadors and admirals, soldiers and secretaries of defense -- Konnerup served the way he knew best: veterinary medicine. Circling the globe at a rate of 50,000 miles per year, he developed remarkable methods for pest control that saved the crucial livestock that fed billions from Asia to Africa to Central America.

In China from 1946-47, Konnerup boosted Chiang Kai-Shek's attempts to prevent Mao Tse-Tung from transforming the world's most populous nation into a giant killing field. He arrived with thousands of doses of vaccine for Rinderpest, a cattle disease with very high mortality. He quickly discovered a fatal problem missed by the bureaucrats in Washington: the lack of refrigeration at Chinese villages and farms. On the spot, Konnerup developed a clever method for preservation and delivery of the vaccine, applying a "rabbit-adapted attenuated vaccine," which he had been employing in Australia. It worked. He established a vaccine production laboratory in Nanking.

Unfortunately, other factors eventually triumphed in China, as Mao emerged victorious. The Communists kicked out Konnerup and his colleagues -- but kept his vaccine. Of course, they implemented something far more destructive than Rinderpest: Mao's Sinification of Marxism. Through collectivism and wealth redistribution -- a triumph of ignorance that was the antithesis of Nels Konnerup's creativity -- Red China exterminated tens of millions of human beings. Communism slaughtered what Rinderpest could not -- by leaps and bounds.

Konnerup went elsewhere, serving the U.S. government in several capacities. He was a secret weapon in ensuring that Marshall Plan aid to Europe, once delivered, was not eaten by flies and ticks. Think about it: American aid saved a starving post-World War II Europe. At the political and diplomatic level, it was the product of President Harry Truman, of Secretary of State George Marshall, of an isolationist Republican Congress that stepped to the plate and cut a badly needed check to our allies; all of this not only fed Western Europe but kept it out of the throes of Soviet Communism.

And yet, once that vital aid was underway, it would have died if the livestock it sought to replenish were destroyed by disease. Here, too, Nels Konnerup did what he did best: He had responsibility for the health of over 60,000 head of livestock destined to Europe by steamship. No small task -- but one he pulled off.

After that, Konnerup served Douglas MacArthur and the U.S. military government in Japan. Like MacArthur, he also went to the Philippines; there, he helped resolve the malnutrition wreaked by rodent damage. Both Japan and the Philippines were crucial Cold War allies.

In retirement, Konnerup kept his fertile mind busy. He wrote letters to editors and columnists who raised his ire. Somewhat of a curmudgeon, among his pet peeves was the junk science and "flawed sophism" of un-scrutinizing "self-proclaimed and self-anointed environmentalists." He was a man of real science and real environmentalism, not given to the bandwagon. He had little patience for the latest "crisis/emergency" treaty destined to shut down an industry or economy. He was skeptical of the newest claims of Armageddon by partisan politicians, amateur environmentalists, and assorted "nefarious nabobs."

"Let there be integrity in definitions!" urged a frustrated Nels Konnerup.

Alas, an aging Konnerup continued to battle the eternal, insatiable progressive push for centralization and federal-government dependency that had vexed him since the 1930s. A eulogist at his funeral said:

Nels looked forward to the afterlife . . . because he expected to see FDR after he died, and gleefully anticipated poking him in the backside with his pitch fork.

Nels Konnerup died where he began: in his native Washington state. There was no statue erected, no statement from the White House, no obituary in the New York Times, no CNN headline. There were, however, a lot of people, from Berlin to Beijing, who owed their health to this unheralded veteran of the veterinarian sciences, who showed that there are many ways to fight the good fight and serve your Maker. *

"All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree." --James Madison

Sunday, 29 November 2015 03:33

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. These articles are republished from V & V, a website of the Center for Vision & Values. Paul Kengor is author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004) and The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007). His latest book is The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007).

The Philosophy of Mao and Mother Teresa?

The death of ten to twenty million people is nothing to be afraid of. --Mao Tse-tung
Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being's entitlement by virtue of this humanity. The right to life does not depend . . . on the pleasure of anyone else. --Mother Teresa

I recently wrote about the spectacle of New York's tallest building aglow in red and yellow to commemorate the founding of Mao Tse-tung's People's Republic of China. Oblivious New Yorkers basked in the glow of a leader and nation that killed more people more quickly than any leader or nation in history. Within its first two decades, Mao's Red China annihilated 60-70 million people, exceeding the combined death toll of World Wars I and II.

As I said, I'm not surprised by such horrible historical ignorance. This is what our education system, from K-12 to universities, has taught -- or failed to teach. Besides, Mao was idolized by many of the 1960s leftists who today pervade our culture and politics.

Well, behold another painful exhibit: President Obama's director of communications, Anita Dunn.

Speaking on June 5 at a high-school graduation ceremony at the National Cathedral, Dunn provided the youngsters with some nuggets of wisdom. She cited "two of my favorite political philosophers: Mao Tse-tung and Mother Teresa."

I know that seems unbelievable. Yet, thanks to the advent of FOXNews, talk-radio, and the web, these things are no longer easily censored by the partisan mainstream media. You can look them up yourself.

Specifically, Dunn's comments were exposed by Glenn Beck on Fox. In response, liberals are attacking not Dunn but Beck. This is sadly predictable, as it has always been anti-Communism that upsets liberals.

It's maddening to have watched the children of the 1960s openly embrace Chairman Mao -- some for 40 years now -- and then, on a dime, cry foul (with the media's backing) when criticized. But so be it.

Dunn has since tried to argue that she was using "irony." Even more lamely, she claims to have borrowed from a comparison she heard from late Republican political strategist Lee Atwater.

In fact, if you actually watch and read Dunn's remarks -- CNN didn't quote them in full -- you'll see she was not being ironic. She was dead serious, going into precise detail on how Mao inspired her.

Almost as if she were describing a political squabble within the Democratic or Republican Party, Dunn spoke of "when Mao Tse-tung was being challenged within his own party on his plan to basically take China over." She added:

Chiang Kai-Shek and the nationalist Chinese held the cities, they had the army. They had the air force. They had everything on their side, and people said [to Mao], "How can you win? How can you do this?"

Therein was the core message in Dunn's parable: Inspiring the youngsters with the tale of Mao's triumph, Dunn said: "Against all the odds . . . Mao Tse-tung said, 'You fight your war, and I'll fight mine."'

Dunn told the graduates to "think about that for a second." As they so meditated, she prodded with this insight: Dunn told the teens that they "don't have to accept" others'definitions. They should not accept "external definitions." No, she told them, standing aside a crucifix, they must set their own definitions. "It is about your choices," Dunn instructed. "You figure out what's right for you."

She told the youngsters to establish their own definitions of what's right and wrong in following their own path.

To be sure, this was indeed Mao Tse-tung's philosophy: Right and wrong is not left to a single, universal authority -- to a Supreme Being -- but to oneself. Each and every human being is his or her own moral arbiter. This explains how Mao killed so many people without bothering his conscience. The Marxist-atheist created his own definitions. He decided it was right to let all those people die in order for him to follow his own path, according to his own definitions.

Of course, Anita Dunn obviously doesn't support killing 60-70 million people. But she does support a morally relativistic philosophy that is hurtful enough on its own. That philosophy, taken to its logical conclusion, allows for the kind of reckless madness advocated by Mao. This is a philosophy that, left to the wrong people -- to evil people like Mao -- can be extremely dangerous.

This is why moral relativism doesn't work, why it is nonsense, and why even its purported advocates rarely support it. (For a great book, see Greg Koukl's Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air) And it is why our schools shouldn't be inviting graduation speakers to deliver such inane messages to wide-eyed youngsters preparing to enter the world.

Alas, needless to say, none of this, from the moral relativism to Maoism, would have found approval from Mother Teresa. As the saintly nun from Calcutta put it, "There is only one God and He is God to all." We are not our own gods. There are external definitions of right and wrong -- set by God, not by ourselves.

That was Mother Teresa's philosophy, and it wasn't Mao's. When is America going to start equipping its youth with truth, both historical and moral? For now, we'll continue to reap what we've sown.

The Nobel Committee Dishonors Itself

Even CNN was shocked. Even the Obama White House was shocked.

"Only nine months into his presidency," reported a baffled CNN news anchor this morning. "President Obama has won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize. The announcement made jaws drop even at the White House."

When I first heard the news, I thought it was a joke.

The announcement from the Nobel Committee defies belief, even as I've come to expect the inconceivable from the committee. I learned long ago not to take the Nobel Committee seriously. And yet, this gesture far exceeds any previous towering leap of incredulity by the committee.

To be sure, I knew the Nobel Committee would at some point award Barack Obama its hallowed prize. That was a given. But right now, only nine months into Obama's presidency, when Obama himself would surely agree that he cannot name a single foreign policy accomplishment?

Actually, the situation is worse than that: According to news reports, nominations took place eight months ago, only weeks into Obama's presidency.

How could that be? Does this make any sense at all?

It does when you consider what the Nobel Committee has become, and how it operates according to leftist political objectives. The committee has honored Barack Obama in order to make a political statement in support and encouragement of his foreign policy. The committee knows that its award has nothing to do with the absent foreign-policy accomplishments of a presidency not even a year old, or a diplomatic record that doesn't exist. Its purpose is to help Obama pursue the kind of foreign policy favored by the leftists who run the Nobel Committee.

The European-globalists on the committee agree fully with the leaders who heaped praise on Obama during the UN circus weeks ago. They agree with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez that Obama has brought "hope" to the world. They agree with Fidel Castro's hailing Obama's lead on "climate change." They agree with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Obama agrees with him on America's past "ugly behavior." Like Moammar Kaddafi, they wish Obama could be president "forever."

This award is not a statement on what Obama has done but a rubber-stamp approval of his plans for America and the world. The committee wants to lend cover to Obama as he pursues a global course opposed by conservative Republicans back home and his generals and commanders abroad. To be sure, this is the kind of meddling in domestic politics that the Nobel Committee usually decries.

That said, I'm actually quite pleased with this action. Why? Because it further undermines the credibility of the Nobel Committee as an allegedly impartial organization. This further shows that the group is inherently political and unabashedly left-wing. In other words, this gesture has the noble effect of exposing the ignoble Nobel Committee for what it really is.

I would like to offer two quick examples from the very recent past:

In 2002, the Nobel Committee awarded President Jimmy Carter. Personally, I long supported recognizing Carter for negotiating the Camp David Accords, which was a great accomplishment in an otherwise disastrous presidency. And yet, the Nobel Committee waited over two decades to give Carter the prize. It awaited the presidency of George W. Bush, whose foreign policy these liberal Europeans doggedly opposed, as did a very vocal Jimmy Carter.

The committee's decision to finally commend Carter was motivated in large part by its desire to make a statement against Bush. It was a crass political move by the shamelessly partisan committee. It put a dark cloud over Carter's recognition; it stained the prize.

One more example: A decade before Carter, the Nobel Committee honored Mikhail Gorbachev.

Here, too, I think Gorbachev deserves accolades. I'm a conservative who credits Gorbachev for helping to peacefully end the Cold War. Unfortunately, the committee should have given Ronald Reagan a share in that prize. Instead, the committee specifically thanked Gorbachev for taking down the Berlin Wall, an action that Gorbachev had explicitly opposed from the outset -- thus prompting Reagan's Brandenburg Gate speech. What a farce!

And now, in 2009, once again, the Nobel Committee has honored a leader in a blatantly political way -- and in a way that dishonors itself.

Frankly, Obama supporters should be angry. This award, based on transparent political interests, will not be taken seriously. Had the Nobel Committee done this later, Obama's advocates would have something to applaud.

Instead, they will find themselves trying to defend the nonsensical -- or, at least, the left-wing nonsense of the Nobel Committee. *

"[O]f those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants." --Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 1

We would like to thank the following people for their generous support of this journal (from 9/10/09-11/9/09): William D. Andrews, Ariel, David J. Bean, James L. Blilie, Robert M. Buchta, Franklin Buchta, Priscilla L. Buckley, Thomas M. Burt, Dino Casali, David Cole, Walter J. Costello, Maurie Daigneau, Dianne C. DeBoest, Arthur D. Dickson, Jeanne L. Dipaola, Don Dyslin, Irene M. Elkins, Jane F. Gelderman, Hollis J. Griffin, Joyce Griffin, Joyce Griffin, Alene D. Haines, Paul J. Hauser, Hohn H. Hearding, Bernhard Heersink, Jaren E. Hiller, Thomas E. Humphreys, David Ihle, Burleigh Jacobs, Marilyn P. Jaeger, Edgar Jordan, Margaret Kearney, Edward B. Kiolbasa, Rema MacDonald, Woodbridge C. Metcalf, Robert A. Moss, David Norris, Gary J. Pressley, Patrick L. Risch, Philip E. Rosine, Irene L. Schultz, Thomas E. Snee, Leif Solberg, Carl G. Stevenson, Norman Stewart, Robert D. Wells, John V. Westberg, Robert L. Wichterman, James P. Zaluba.

Sunday, 29 November 2015 03:26

Kengor Writes . . .

Kengor Writes . . .

Paul Kengor

Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of the Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. These articles are republished from V & V, a website of the Center for Vision & Values. Paul Kengor is author of God and Ronald Reagan: A Spiritual Life (2004) and The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism (2007). His latest book is The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand (Ignatius Press, 2007).

Saving Obama from Himself: The Machiavellian Thing vs. the Moral Thing on Healthcare

The late Republican political strategist, Lee Atwater, a brilliant Machiavellian, used to invoke what he called "The Napoleonic Maxim:" Never interfere with the enemy when he's in the process of destroying himself.

If Atwater were alive today, how would he advise conservative Republicans in responding to the "healthcare reform" being pushed by President Obama and the Pelosi-Reid Congress? Would he suggest they do the Machiavellian thing or the moral thing? I'm hearing both options.

Consider the Machiavellian thing: Conservatives, particularly on talk-radio, are in an all-out frenzy to rally Americans to halt "Obama-care," and for good reason. But what happens, politically, if they succeed?

If conservatives succeed in stopping this train-wreck, they may save Barack Obama from himself. They will untie the albatross that could sink his ability to win a second term; ditto for another term by this radical-left Congress. And if Obama is reelected, he can do countless other things they will consider likewise destructive, from taxes to social policy to the courts to foreign policy, often under the radar.

While the analogy isn't perfect, think about the election of the Republican Congress in 1994, which was propelled by President Bill Clinton's early leftward lurch, most evident in Hillary Clinton's 1993-94 attempts to socialize medicine. The public responded by electing the Gingrich Congress. Forced to moderate, a more centrist Bill Clinton emerged, and easily won reelection.

That more moderate second term had some benefits, even producing balanced budgets. But it was a second term that included some terrible things, from partial-birth abortion to court picks that made conservatives cringe, not to mention the sordid impeachment trial.

So, conservatives urging a halt to "Obama-care" should be careful what they wish for: Could they help produce four more years of President Obama? Would that be best for conservatism? Would it be best for America?

That brings me to the counter-argument, raised by several friends of The Center for Vision & Values. Call it the "moral thing:" If the Obama-Reid-Pelosi plan is as bad as it seems, then, indeed, the higher priority ought to be to stop the Europeanization of our healthcare system -- to avoid unnecessarily revolutionizing the world's best healthcare system.

Since 2003, Barack Obama has openly advocated a "single-payer universal healthcare program," repeatedly and explicitly, as have his liberal colleagues in the Congress. Such a system, such an ultimate end-goal, potentially begun by this current plan, would permanently bureaucratize the system.

Ronald Reagan once said that the closest we will ever get to eternal life on this planet is a government bureaucracy. He was right. And if you turn America's healthcare system into a single-payer government system, it would be extremely difficult to turn back. It would be like unscrambling eggs. And what's at stake?

I'm greatly concerned with a toxic combination of inevitable rationing and what's being termed end-of-life counseling, which some fear may be mandatory. As someone who has been in the pro-life movement for years, plus studied history, politics, and, before that, worked full-time in healthcare -- both as a hospital employee and reporter for healthcare publications -- I've closely observed the long march by liberal "progressives" from the eugenics of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger to euthanasia. They got their way on abortion -- which, according to the AP, is covered in the current government "healthcare" plan -- and God help us if the door to euthanasia is cracked.

It also doesn't help that likewise steaming down the track are the modern left's parallel obsessions with "people problems" like "overpopulation" and "climate change."

None of this is good. And these forces are coming together at a time, a perfect storm, when the left has finally achieved the political power it has craved. This is the "crisis" it needs, to borrow from Obama's chief of staff.

For years, the political left has groped for control of the nation's healthcare. Now, at long last, the prize is in sight, thanks to the way Americans voted in November 2008.

This is not to say we don't have problems in our healthcare system. No one is saying that. But for the radical progressive, that isn't the issue. These folks dream of federal power, of central planning, of literal management of lives. This is their long-awaited, glistening moment.

Reform healthcare with legitimate reform, addressing real issues, like the genuine problem of the minority of Americans who, for whatever reason, are not insured. Do the moral thing.

Gore Unhinged

"How can anyone take this man seriously?" writes Marilyn, a frequent reader of our Center for Vision & Values articles.

Attached to Marilyn's email was this headline, "Gore compares climate change fight to war against Nazis." As the accompanying article noted, Al Gore, speaking at the World Forum on Enterprise and the Environment in Oxford, warned his audience -- mostly British -- of the imperative to confront climate change, as Britain and the Allies once battled Hitler.

"The former U.S. vice president said the world lacked the political will to act," reported the London Times, "and invoked the spirit of Winston Churchill by encouraging leaders to unite their nations to fight climate change."

Fancying himself a contemporary Churchill, Gore sounded the clarion call, declaring that the essential missing ingredient is courage and commitment. Like the brave Sir Winston in those ominous days of the Battle of Britain, Gore stoically exhorted: "We have everything we need, except political will."

As for those pusillanimous appeasers who cover their eyes to the need for urgent action? Presumably, they are modern Neville Chamberlains, appeasing the evil of global warming, just as history's Great Appeaser placated Hitler.

Predictably, Al Gore's extremist proclamations were largely ignored by the mainstream press that tragically serves as educator-in-chief to most Americans. This isn't the kind of headline deemed newsworthy by Katie Couric and CBS News.

That brings me back to Marilyn's email: How can anyone take this man seriously? Well, the fact is we've done just that for almost 20 years. Believe it or not, Gore stated precisely these things in his 1992 international bestseller Earth in the Balance. What Al Gore said in London last week is no different from what he has said -- and gotten away with -- for decades.

Consider some passages from Gore's 1992 manifesto: In one of the many deeply disturbing passages in a deeply disturbing book, Gore hailed ecological activists as "resistance fighters" and "people of conscience" engaging in a just war akin to the World War II resistance that fought the Nazis.

That thought alone is incredibly offensive, especially in what it implies of those who reject Gore's environmental prescriptions. In particular, however, the parallel is a grave injustice to those who suffered under the Nazis. Jews ought to be outraged. Gore's moral equivalency reveals a breathtaking lack of historical measure -- odd for a man who writes on the triumph of "reason."

Gore's Nazi metaphors are ubiquitous in Earth in the Balance. Warning of an "environmental holocaust," Gore exhorted: "Today the evidence of an ecological Kristallnacht is as clear as the sound of glass shattering in Berlin." Gore asserted that America's consumption of resources is reminiscent of Germany's descent into fascism.

As if his Nazi analogies weren't aggressive enough, the Nobel Peace Prize winner envisioned

. . . a kind of global civil war between those who refuse to consider the consequences of civilization's relentless advance and those who refuse to be silent partners in the destruction.

Yes, that's right: a "global civil war."

Consequently, Gore urged, the rescue of the environment must become the "central organizing principle" of all societies and modern civilization. This will require not just sacrifice and struggle but "a wrenching transformation of society."

Al Gore prophesied nothing short of environmental Armageddon, an apocalypse, and called for a crusade. The word crusade, in this case, had religious connotations, in contrast to when FDR, Eisenhower, or Reagan called for "crusades" for freedom.

Indeed, it is rarely recalled that Earth in the Balance carried the instructive subtitle, Ecology and the Human Spirit. This environmental manifesto was a sort of spiritual autobiography by Gore, his epistle to Mother Nature, his adoration of the Earth. This is evident in the chapter, "Environmentalism of the Spirit," where Gore insisted that the "environmental crisis" demands "a new faith in the future of life on earth."

So, in short, Al Gore's remarks in London are nothing new.

In a just world, or at least, in an America where "journalists" provided objective news coverage, these Al Gore absurdities would have been exposed long ago, and this man would have never gotten close to the vice presidency let alone the presidency. Of course, that's why journalists never touched them, in the hopes that Gore's scary statements would never see the light of day -- or of television cameras.

What's even scarier is that a majority of Americans took this man seriously enough to vote him president in 2000. We dodged that bullet, but Al Gore's dream lives on with sudden renewed vigor, as the most leftist president and Congress in American history stand poised to make it a reality. ("Cap-and-trade" is the first shot in their environmental salvo.)

At long last, Al Gore's "wrenching transformation" may be upon us, courtesy of Americans' choices at the voting booth. *

"If you live to be one hundred, you've got it made. Very few people die past that age. --George Burns

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