Category Archives: Commentary

Remembering Robert S. Leiken || Newsmax

Remembering Robert S. Leiken

Earlier this month, on June 7, Robert S. Leiken, esteemed political science professor, enlightened anti-communist, died at the age of 78. He was active in the 1970s and 1980s as one of the most influential people to shape the U.S. involvement in Nicaragua during the Reagan years. And he was a liberal.

During the 1970s, he referred to himself as a Marxist, teaching in Mexico. He soon went to several think tanks, from the conservative Center for Strategic and International Studies in 1981 to liberal Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in 1983. It was in Carnegie where he edited “Central America: Anatomy of Conflict” a year later, which was highly critical of President Reagan’s foreign policies, especially towards the communists in Central America.

It all changed when he visited Nicaragua itself. Since the late 1970s, the freedom fighter group Contras — ragtag but for the most part sincere — were in an active war against the Soviet-backed communist Sandinista government.

The conflict, which only became worse throughout the 1980s, was the flashpoint of U.S. policy in Central America. When Leiken visited Nicaragua in 1984, after communicating with the son of future Contra leader Arturo Jose Cruz, he noticed how poorly the Communist government treated their poor. It was exactly what they promised not to do.

Several years later he said, “Sympathy with the Contras is becoming more open and more pervasive. I was stunned to hear peasants refer to the Contras as ‘los muchachos,’ the boys  — the admiring term used to once describe the Sandinistas when they were battling the National Guard.”

The National Guard were part of the previous Anastasio Somoza regime. Somoza was corrupt and overthrown by the Sandinista’s promising reform. Leiken further noted that the reigning corrupt communist government’s failures “polarized the country, led to disinvestment, falling productivity and wages, labor discontent, and an agrarian crisis.”

Leiken saw through the lies of the Nicaraguan government and its disinformation, as well. He experienced it first-hand. “These thousands of demonstrators were hardly ‘bourgeoisie,’ as the Sandinistas claimed,” he said before Congress. “They were overwhelmingly workers, peasants, and young people.” It was his hands-on experience that swayed the United States. It coming from a self-proclaimed Marxist showed that it wasn’t typical liberal bias.

Ronald Reagan even mentioned Leiken by name during his remarks at a fundraising dinner for the Nicaraguan Refugee Fund, and again a year later at a speech at the Heritage Foundation (in which, Reagan said, Leiken’s conclusion about the Communist government came “much to the distress of some of his liberal colleagues”).

The significance of not just Leiken, but the whole of the Contra insurgency, cannot be understated. The fight over the Contras was the fight of the century.

Before Nicaragua, with few exceptions, Communist governments were sequestered, more or less, across the Atlantic and the Pacific — China, Russia, Eastern Europe. Cuba was, and continued to be, a Communist threat. But Nicaragua represented a new front in their war against freedom, a new threat to America. Nicaragua, the largest country in Central America, was different. It not only was the linchpin of Communism close to the U.S., but emphasized the division between American conservatives and liberals.

As one Republican leader, Newt Gingrich said in 1983, “Because they fail to understand the nature of evil, radical Democrats support policies at home that favor the criminal rather than the victim.”

The Democrats, by being against intervention in Nicaragua, intended or not, said that they supported the Communist dictators, and did not care for the freedom fighters.

Leiken fought tenaciously for the Contras and against the Sandinistas and their liberal apologists in America because like Reagan, who compared the Contras to America’s founding revolutionaries, he knew that freedom was not only good, it was spiritual and that communist enslavement was wrong and evil.

As it turned out, Reagan was right, the Contras were right, we were right, Leiken was right and the Sandinistas were wrong and their liberal apologists were wrong.

Just as the left has always been wrong and American conservatism has been right. Leiken had the wisdom to change. Leiken became a great American because he had the courage to change. Robert Leiken, RIP.

Craig Shirley is a Ronald Reagan biographer. His Books include, “Reagan Rising: the Decisvie Years,” and  “Reagan’s Last Act: The Final Years and Emerging Legacy of Ronald Reagan.” He is the founder of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs, and has been named the first Reagan scholar at Eureka College, Ronald Reagan’s alma mater. He appears regularly on Newsmax TV, Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.


Rediscovering America: Mark Levin Does It Again || Townhall

Rediscovering America: Mark Levin Does It Again

This piece was co-authored by Craig Shirley and Scott Mauer.

Some years ago an angry and frustrated taxpayer flew his private plane into the Internal Revenue Service building in Texas. Most liberals commentators wrung their hands over the act but failed to ask, “Why?” What did the IRS do to so infuriate this taxpayer into taking his own life to make a political statement? During the American Revolution, this would have been considered an act of courage and monuments would have been made to the man. After all, the Framers believed man was more important than institutions. But now it seems like Americans, mostly on the left, forgot what America should be.

Mark Levin, who hasn’t forgotten what America is all about, long a political heavyweight intellectual of the conservative movement in America, adds another accomplishment to his long resume with the publication of his new book Rediscovering Americanism. It is already a bestseller, but it won’t be reviewed by the perpetually failing Washington Post.

There is an inverse relationship between authors of and about conservatism and the Book Review section of the Washington Post. A good book by a conservative will never be reviewed, but a bad book written by a liberal about conservatism will always been reviewed. Hence, Levin has written another blockbuster, but like all of his previous books, won’t be reviewed by the shallow and corrupt book review section of the dying and embarrassingly wrong newspaper. Hence, liberal Rick Perlstein wrote a heavily plagiarized and shoddy book about Ronald Reagan, yet the Post Book Review section gave it not one, but two favorable reviews. Presumably one for being an ultra-leftist and the second for poor scholarship, even as everybody with an ounce of knowledge about Reagan denounced Perlstein as wrong.

No matter. Levin is now more consequential to the national debate than the Post. He has far more loyal listeners than the Post has subscribers. It should be noted the uber neo con, big government Republican publication, The Weekly Standard, also refused to review either of our books. (The rumor is TWS is coming out for the invasion of Nova Scotia next week.)

In a humble fashion, Levin notes in the opening that if this tome “can open a few eyes it will have served its purpose.” That purpose? To bring back true American beliefs, true American structures. To “rediscover Americanism,” like the Founding Fathers and Enlightenment philosophers intended, where men and women are born free to discover their own future, as designed by God. Levin quotes from the Declaration of Independence, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, even Aristotle and Cicero, to define that –ism that we should seek.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, many of the philosophers, statesmen, and civic leaders – not just of America but around the world, both contemporary and ancient – believed in the individual rights of man as endowed by their Creator. This is no clearer than in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” This was the prevailing view of the United States during its Founding, where the rights of man trumped all.

Until the Progressives came along in the very-late nineteenth century.

“It is best described as an elitist-driven counterrevolution to the American Revolution,” Levin writes, “in which the sovereignty of the individual, natural law, natural rights, and the civil society . . . would be drastically altered and even abandoned.” The Progressives believed that the American heritage – already a century old – was an impediment to “the pursuit of Utopian ends.” It is a collectivist (read: communist) belief that the group is superior to the individual, that a centralized authority must exist to run the lives of the everyday man and woman. Levin heavily analyzes Herbert Croly’s works, especially his Progressive Democracy in 1914, and how American heroes such as President Theodore Roosevelt admired the philosopher, even taking phrases he coined and putting it into the American lexicon.

This is the start of the unraveling of the American identity. Roosevelt created the Progressive Party, which had “a laundry list of proposed federal programs and policies covering” many parts of American life. Woodrow Wilson, prior to becoming president, authored several essays and speeches criticizing the Declaration of Independence, calling it “theoretical,” and later, as president, flat out said that “our life has broken away from the past.” Forget about history, progressives believe, because the collectivist future is all that mattered.

 So we are introduced to the conflict that has plagued America since, and where our country has come from, what it has become, and where it will go. Levin warns us that if we do not stop the progressivism that is rampant, then we are going to lose the country. “We have no choice,” he says, but to be on the offensive.

Rediscovering Americanism is an short, easy read, designed not for the hefty academics but for the common American, to show that rich or poor, educated or uneducated, rural or urban, we are all Americans, and we all fall under one roof, with the goal to bring back a country that our Founders wanted. Nevertheless, it is packed with analyses and connections only Levin can muster, chock full information. Some of the most important public intellectuals on American conservatism are Dr. Larry Arnn, Victor David Hansen, Newt Gingrich, and Mark Levin.

Levin does a wonderful job of mixing history, politics, philosophy, and conservatism into one book. It cannot be underestimated his importance to the conservative movement, and this book is a worthy piece to be placed in America’s future.

Craig Shirley is a presidential historian and author of four best sellers on Ronald Reagan, most recently “Reagan Rising.” He has a political biography on Newt Gingrich, “Citizen Newt,” coming out in August. Scott Mauer is Craig Shirley’s researcher. 


Murderers’ Row || CNSNews

Murderers’ Row

Craig ShirleyScott Mauer

By Craig Shirley and Scott Mauer | June 24, 2017

It’s become sort of a meme to dismissively say “so much for the tolerant left” whenever a leftist, a liberal or a collectivist commits an atrocity such as burning down a campus. The overuse and insanity of the phrase aside, it resonates precisely because it is true.

For decades, the left has touted themselves as the “tolerant” ones, whether tolerant toward minorities, LGBT, women, you name it. It’s pure politicization of making it a black-and-white, left-versus-right, tolerant-versus-intolerant dynamic. The left are the Earth Mothers and peace lovers, justice seekers; the right are the hawks and war-lovers, the intolerant, the racists, the homophobes. You get the picture.

It’s also delusional. In fact, it has been the left, not the right, that have primarily been the aggressors against other humans. This is not a recent shift either, but a constant.

The Democratic Party has a long and bloody history as the party of violence and the left-wing ideological embodiment of intolerance and savagery. We all know the Democratic Party was the architect of slavery, but not all know the Democratic Party endorsed lynching long after the Civil War. For years, the Democrats would not put an anti-lynching plank in their political platform and only did so in the 1940s, years after the Republicans did (who by the way, also freed the slaves and supported suffrage for women, again long before the Democrats).

The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, where the leftist and communist uprising violently overthrew both the Tsar and the provisional government of Russia, is a case in point. It was not a bloodless revolution, or even a revolution in which the extrajudicial violence was condemned. In fact, it was welcomed by its own leaders.

Vladimir Lenin, in 1918, said that never has there been a peaceful workers’ rebellion, and that “we must not depict socialism as if socialists will bring it to us on a plate all nicely dressed.” He continued, “When violence is exercised by the working people, by the mass of exploited against the exploiters–then we are for it!”

Such a sentiment was earlier embraced by the bloody French Revolution and subsequent Reign of Terror. These two revolutions were believed to be a radical departure from monarchist government, to be for the people’s best interests and for the betterment of the common man. But to quote The Who, “Meet the new boss; same as the old boss.”

We don’t even need to touch Josef Stalin’s and Adolf Hitler’s dictatorships, where both used their collectivist power–Stalin’s communism, Hitler’s national socialism–to terrorize, oppress, destroy, and murder. We don’t need to touch upon the long and despicable occupation of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe.

Sail across the Atlantic, and the United States has similarly been hit by leftist violence. The Democratic Party has long been the party of death and of violence. Most successful and near-successful assassinations of presidents have been committed by Democratic or leftist thugs. John Wilkes Booth was a Southern Democrat and Confederate sympathizer, who became enraged amid hearing of slaves being set free, and set out to murder President Lincoln for it.

Lee Harvey Oswald, killer of John Kennedy, was a known communist sympathizer, and even attempted to seek asylum in the Soviet Union when he visited there. “I am a communist and a worker, and I have lived in a decadent capitalist society where the workers are slaves,” Oswald had written in a letter asking for Soviet citizenship.

John Hinckley, Jr., hated Ronald Reagan and tried to kill him to impress actress Jodie Foster. The assassin of William McKinley in 1901 was an anarchist. Squeaky Fromme was a left-wing “flower child” who nearly killed Gerald Ford.

In 2006, British filmmaker Gabriel Range made a mockumentary depicting the assassination of then-president George W. Bush. The film was met with intense criticism, even by such networks as NPR and CNN, but still managed to gross nearly $1 million worldwide.

Similarly, starting in the 1990s and picked up by Broadway in 2010, the musical “Assassins” shows the assassinations of U.S. presidents throughout history, adding comedy and mockery to very-serious events. The actor playing Hinckley repeatedly shoots at a cardboard cutout of Reagan during the week of the Reagan funeral. How funny.

The chaos of the Vietnam War split the country in two, generally between party lines. That was the catalyst for the hippie movement, after all. But when it came to the Vietnamese boat people, the left weren’t very accepting. Thousands of freedom-seeking refugees attempting to escape from communist oppression sought asylum in the United States, and were soon turned away by many in the left. Jerry Brown in California objected to them, saying “There is something a little strange about saying, “Let’s bring in 500,000 more people’ when we can’t take care of the 1 million [Californians] out of work.”

Elizabeth Holtzman of New York echoed that, saying that accepting them would put the elderly, poor, and unemployed to the backburner. Most offensive of all, however, was Sen. George McGovern’s objection. “Asian people should stay in Asia,” McGovern blatantly said.

The vile Jane Fonda took out newspaper ads denouncing folk singer Joan Baez for championing the cause of the Vietnamese Boat People.

During the cultural and sexual revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, a leftist extremist group dubbed The Weathermen (and later the Weather Underground Organization) carried out a series of bombings and violent crimes. One of their more famous atrocities–which luckily killed and injured no one–was on February 28, 1971, when the United States Capitol was bombed on the ground floor, causing approximately $300,000 of damage. This wasn’t their first attack, either, as just the year before, a series of TNT bombs detonated at the San Francisco Police Department Park Station, killing one police officer and injuring fourteen others. They continued into the 1980s as well, though much less frequently than in the ’70s.

And then we have Planned Parenthood, which is unapologetic of its Final Solution for infants. Ever since Roe v. Wade in 1973, millions of infants have been murdered in horrifically brutal manners. The secretly-recorded tapes released last year are proof of their pride in this but still, they hand out Merit Badges to politicians who help the organization abort more unborn babies.

Liberals ignore their own hatred and their own rhetoric. They present themselves as the good guys” who are “tolerant,” yet turn a blind eye when they themselves commit some atrocity. These are the same people who behead President Trump and shoot President Bush and President Reagan for “art.” They are the same people who say Otto Warmbier deserved to die and be tortured by North Korea became he was white. These are the same people who shut down speakers and burn down campuses because they don’t like conservatives. Yet, when a lowlife Bernie supporter opened fire on congressmen, they dare to wash their hands and declare themselves free from sin.

Murder, thy name is collectivist.

–Craig Shirley is a presidential historian and author of four bestsellers on President Ronald Reagan, his latest being “Reagan Rising.” He has a political biography on Newt Gingrich, “Citizen Newt,” coming out August 2017. Scott Mauer is Craig Shirley’s researcher.


Reagan’s Berlin Wall speech 30 years later: ‘Tear down this wall’ || Fox News

Reagan’s Berlin Wall speech 30 years later: ‘Tear down this wall’


Victor Gold, Raconteur, Rest in Peace || CNS News

Victor Gold, Raconteur, Rest in Peace

By Craig Shirley | June 12, 2017 | 11:49 AM EDT

Several times a week, Vic Gold and I would discuss all manner of things. Our phone conversations were lively. We’d laugh, and more than once he would yell. But the most enjoyable result of every conversation was the knowledge he would impart; something new, every time.  That was Vic, smart and passionate about everything. It was the same with our monthly lunches which sometimes stretched out 2-3 hours. I am going to miss Vic Gold. He added a lot of spice to life, and the world will be less interesting without him.

While few individuals in politics were as passionate as Gold, even fewer could endear themselves to as many people as he had in his many years on this earth.   He passionately loved Alabama football, Bear Bryant, his wife Dale, his children Paige, Jamie and Stephen, writing (especially) movies, Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, the St. Louis Cardinals, George H.W. Bush, Cajun food and good conversation, not necessarily in that order. He did not like hypocrisy, pomposity, big government Republicans, Dan Snyder, neo conservatism, the United Nations, Donald Trump, the Weekly Standard, some of the people around George W. Bush, again not necessarily in that order. To say Vic suffered no fools goes without saying.

Often times, I thought his temper was in truth, just an act, especially if you caught the twinkle in his eye. Other times, it was real, whether yelling about something George W. Bush had done, like invading Iraq. However, his real passion was writing. He wrote the now legendary, PR as in President and The Body Politic with Lynne Cheney. He wrote provocative articles for National Review, The American Spectator and Washingtonian. For years, he did a point-counterpoint exchange on “Good Morning America” with Frank Mankowitz. He was always well-timed, even as late as last week he was posting for his blog, the perfectly named “The Wayward Lemming.” That was Vic, charting his own course, intense, erudite, a true romantic.

A favorite saying of his was, “Don’t burn bridges in front of you.” That did not mean he didn’t appreciate burning bridges in his wake. He was often quotable and always a good companion. He had the rare gift of being provocative yet a great listener, as well. He was incisive, without question, but also insightful; invaluable to every political leader with whom he worked. Most notably, in the grim final days of the failed 1980 presidential campaign of George H.W. Bush, it was Gold’s fiery and wise counsel that brought a fuming Bush back from the brink of breaking with the GOP and pushed him towards a reconciliation that would unify the party, deliver him the vice presidency and chart his course to the Oval Office. Not bad for someone from the wrong side of Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

Without Vic Gold, George HW Bush might never have been vice president and later president.

Vic was a product of the rough and tumble New Orleans of the Depression era 1930’s, and he never lost his street perspective. He viewed himself as a Damion Runyon-like character, part erudite writer and part streetwise character. He often used the language of Runyon. When he saw someone wearing a new suit, he might say, “nice threads.” He was an actor in a Frank Capra movie.

And why wouldn’t he see himself that way? He lived that life. One evening he might be dining with Spiro Agnew and the next with Frank Sinatra and some shady underworld figures. He told more than once of prowling Los Angeles or Las Vegas into the wee hours of the evening with Sinatra and the Rat Pack. He told stories that would make you double over with laughter. His friends were an eclectic bunch, from Sinatra and Jim Baker to Stan Musial.

He was a charming rascal, a throwback to a more exciting and interesting Washington, the town of Tommy Corcoran, Lyn Nofziger, Paul Corbin and other characters. Stories over the years about the volatile Gold were legendary. He was Agnew’s press secretary but quit many times in a fit of pique. Unlike the many candidates and leaders he worked with, he had his own code. He knew for years that Agnew had a mistress and could have sold the story, yet never talked about it. That type of integrity has long since been confined to amber in the tell-all consultant world of Washington DC.

On an instinctual level, he knew what the people saw and how they worked and he dedicated that insight to the service of his country, not himself. A rogue, a gentleman, an insider who preferred the fringe; Gold was a man of many things but most enduring and most important to him was to be a man of honor. At a time and in a town where men of such priorities are seen as parochial and providential, this city will have to do with one less. Famed journalist Jim Wooten once joked that the “working definition of insanity in Washington is Vic Gold.”

Where does nearly forty years of a friendship go? Vic was mercurial, hot tempered, and loving. He once told me he was not a hugger as so many men are today, but he’d hug his Daddy, his children, his wife Dale—and me. I mourn Vic Gold and I mourn his generation of Washingtonians. They were the last interesting people who could quote Dorothy Parker, Shakespeare and Dashiell Hammett. They drank, ate and laughed.

Unlike the modern generation of Washington operatives—blow dried, shallow, all talking points, little native intelligence, humorless, little charm and less grace—Vic’s generation was rough and loyal, tough and smart, funny and interesting, principled and sophisticated.

Vic said when you leave Washington, you should leave like a rock star. Vic has left Washington, and he’s left like a rock star.

Vic Gold, RIP.

Craig Shirley is the author of four bestselling books Ronald Reagan’s campaigns, including “Reagan Rising: The Decisive Years, 1976-1980,” out March 21, 2017. He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller, “December 1941,” and is the president of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs.