Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America serve up three bad martinis today. They react to Kim Jong-Un’s pathetic attempt to get attention by threatening to cancel next month’s summit with the United States over military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea. They also discuss revelations that Democrats are “rigging” primaries again as reports show the Democratic Congressional Committee (DCCC) is making polling data and email lists available to some candidates and not others. And they note two literal socialists won Democratic primaries for the state legislature in Pennsylvania, suggesting socialism is becoming increasingly acceptable to voters on the left.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America welcome a new Axios/Survey Monkey poll showing five incumbent Senate Democrats losing to specific or unnamed Republicans right now and a few others barely ahead. They also rip California for brazenly impeding efforts of federal immigration officials and wonder where all the liberal love for states’ rights was when Arizona wanted to enforce federal laws when the federal government refused to do it. And they swat down a Washington Post columnist for suggesting the U.S. pursue a socialist system and dig deeper into why so many people are not satisfied with the way things are going right now.
CNN is under fire for a story this week suggesting Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks to our political discourse today, part because ‘he was a socialist before it was cool,’ a pronouncement that Cold War scholar Dr. Paul Kengor says is a radical departure from what liberals claimed for decades following King’s death and he indicts our education system for anyone thinking socialism is “cool.”
On Monday, in connection with the federal holiday commemorating King’s birthday and his civil rights legacy, CNN’s John Blake wrote a story chronicling three ways that King, “speaks to our time.” The second contention stated that King “was a socialist before it was cool.”
In his piece, Blake cited several known positions that King held, including advocacy for a “universal health care and education, a guaranteed annual income, and the nationalization of some industries,” wrote Blake, noting that King also called for wealth redistribution at times.
Kengor says King’s sentiments on those issues are not new, but he says the left’s willingness to brand King a socialist is a big shift.
“[Blake] said, ‘There was a time in American politics when calling someone a socialist was a slur.’ I would add there was once upon a time in America when if you called Martin Luther King, Jr. a socialist, it was a racial slur. You weren’t allowed to do that,” said Kengor.
Kengor says King’s socialist positions were an issue of fierce debate in the 1980’s during the debate to create a federal holiday in King’s honor. Skeptics of the idea cited their discomfort with some of King’s positions on economic issues, and were roundly condemned as bigots or engaging in McCarthyism.
Since King’s passing, political activists and politicians on both sides of the aisle have suggested that King would support their particular issue. Kengor says the reality is much more complicated. he says on cultural issues, King was rather conservative.
Noting that King talked often about laws being unjust if they violated a person’s conscience, Kengor says he’s pretty confident about where King would line up on some key issues.
“I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t be willing to defend pastors and religious people who want to cite their freedom of religion and freedom of conscience when it comes to begging not to be forced by the state to make a cake for a ceremony that violates their sacred religious beliefs,” said Kengor.
Even on economic issues, Kengor says the King record is mixed.
“I don’t know to what extent we would call him a socialist, because I’ve seen other King statements that aren’t very socialistic. He would definitely be more of a mixed bag in where we would want to place him on which side of the aisle,” said Kengor.
However, Kengor says regardless of where King stood on a variety of economic issues, it is clearly proper to honor the civil rights leader for his leadership and sacrifices for the cause of racial equality.
“We do celebrate him for his racial achievements. That’s really the key point,” said Kengor.
Following the posting of Blake’s story, a Twitter user named Allie Lynn responded by saying, “The Venezuelan people dying because of socialism would probably disagree about their government being ‘cool.'”
Blake then replied saying, “I’m not sure a lot of people would link what’s happening to Venezuela to socialism; in fact everything I’ve read and talking to people from there attributes there collapse to other problems.”
Kengor is appalled, and suggests Blake visit the tomb of the late Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez.
“He can go there and say, ‘You know, sir, what you called twenty-first century socialism, which is even listed at Wikipedia with your name next to it because you coined the frame, it’s not socialism.’ Blake could provide the correctives and explain to the ghost of Chavez and also to the live body of Nicholas Maduro that they’re not actually doing socialism,” said Kengor.
Whether or not Blake was being flippant about socialism being “cool,” many millennials are more favorable towards socialism than capitalism. A majority between ages 18-29 oppose capitalism. A 2016 poll commissioned by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation found a third of millennials and 28 percent of the full population thought George W. Bush killed more people than Josef Stalin, who some scholars believe murdered 60-70 million of his own people.
Kengor says students are taught well about the horrors of Nazi Germany and the ten million or more slaughtered in the Holocaust, but he believes our children are done a great disservice by not learning about the murderous trail left behind by communism.
“But that’s nowhere near the number that Stalin killed. It’s nowhere near the number that Mao killed. It’s nowhere near the percentage of his population that Pol Pot killed in Cambodia in four years, and on and on and on. They haven’t learned any of this stuff,” said Kengor.
Kengor blames schools, especially universities for ignoring or distorting the truth. However, he also has a firm message for the parents who send their children to such schools.
“Socialism is enjoying a popular resurgence. It’s very sad. That has to do with our colossal failure in education in this country. And people, if you’re sending your kid to one of these colleges where the kid is coming out a socialist and you’re paying the college to do it, shame on you.. Shame on you,” said Kengor.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton is cheering President Trump for a strong address to the United Nations this week and for perhaps already reaping critical results in his effort to isolate North Korea.
On Thursday, Trump announced a new round of U.S. sanctions aimed at North Korea and also reported that China is vowing to deal a major financial blow to the communist regime in Pyongyang.
“Today I’m announcing a new executive order I just signed that significantly expands our authorities to target individuals, companies, financial institutions that finance and facilitate trade with North Korea,” said Trump.
Bolton says this could be a very significant move.
“It’s potentially significant because if we were to sanction companies or banks doing business with North Korea, that could have a knock-on effect to other countries doing the same and could effect their ability to do transactions in the United States,” said Bolton.
He says it leaves those banks and corporations with a stark choice.
“Do you want to do business with us or do you want to do business with North Korea? Your choice entirely, but it’s going to be one or the other,” said Bolton.
Bolton likes the aggressive nature of the sanctions.
“Why didn’t we do this about eight or ten years ago? Why is it that we’ve waited this long? I think we have the answer. I think President Trump is determined to do something about North Korea and Iran and their nuclear programs,” said Bolton.
Bolton served as ambassador to the United Nations for President George W. Bush. So why didn’t these sanctions come then?
“There was a lot of discussion in the Bush administration about sanctions but (there was) a lot of opposition to really squeezing North Korea. Ultimately, I don’t think we did really anywhere near what we could have,” said Bolton.
He says there was virtually no chance for stiff penalties in the Obama years.
“There was no appetite for sanctions against North Korea. They were exercising what they called ‘strategic patience’ in the Obama administration. That’s a synonym for doing nothing and the North Koreans took advantage of it,” said Bolton.
Just as importantly, Bolton says the new sanctions turn the screws on China as well.
“The vast bulk of the institutions doing business with North Korea – financial, commodities, machinery, you name it – are Chinese. China, for 25 years, frankly, has two-timed us on their concern about the North Korean nuclear program. So this gives the president some bite,” said Bolton.
That may have already paid off Thursday, as, Trump announced news that seemed to surprise even him, as China appears ready to play hardball with Kim Jong-Un as well.
“China, their central bank has told other banks – and it’s a massive banking system – to immediately stop doing business with North Korea,” said Trump.
Bolton says if China is serious about taking this step it could have a huge impact on North Korea. However, he says it is very tough to determine if China is making good on such a policy.
“I think that’s difficult from the outside. God knows how many banks there are and how many new banks can be created that might be able to facilitate North Korean trade, for example with Iran,” said Bolton.
Trump made major headlines with his blunt talk about North Korea in his speech on Tuesday.
“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary,” said Trump.
Bolton says Trump struck exactly the right tone.
“I thought it was entirely appropriate. Some of these people who talk about what’s becoming or unbecoming to say at the UN. Honestly, the United Nations is not a church. You’re not supposed to be reverential towards threats to international peace and security and innocent American civilians,” said Bolton, who thought the Trump approach was refreshing after the past eight years.
“After eight years of global governance kind of rhetoric from Obama and the weakness that he projected, maybe some people are shocked when they hear what a real American president has to say. All in all, I think it’s the right thing for the president to do. In America, plain speaking is a virtue and it’s important that these other countries hear it,” said Bolton.
Bolton also lauded Trump for labeling the Iran nuclear deal an “embarrassment” and “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.” He says that puts the onus on Trump to get out of the deal soon.
“If you don’t certify but stay in the deal that you’ve described already as embarrassing, I think that’s unpresidential. It’s sort of a one shoe on, one shoe off foreign policy. He needs to lead with moral and political clarity. I think the way you do that is to say this deal is a disaster for the United States and its friends and allies and we’re getting out of it,” said Bolton.