Or read the transcript below:
(Transcription by J. C. Hendershot)
Interview with William Davis Eaton by Roger Aronoff
The “Take AIM” show on BlogTalkRadio, January 6, 2011.
ROGER ARONOFF: To kick off our first show of the new year, we’re going to be talking about the Tea Party movement’s influence on American politics, the 2010 elections that resulted in a Republican majority in the House for the 112th session of Congress, and about the new book Liberal Betrayal of America and the Tea Party Firestorm with its author, William Davis Eaton. William, welcome to Take AIM!
WILLIAM EATON: Thank you! I’m glad to be here!
ARONOFF: Great. Let me tell our listeners a little more about you. William Davis Eaton is an attorney, a professional arbitrator, and a former professor who has taught at San Jose University and the University of California at Berkeley, where he earned a doctorate degree in political science. He’s published articles on legal and constitutional matters, and has also served as an officer in the Maritime Service and the Air Force Reserve. His previous book, Who Killed the Constitution/The Judges v. the Law, dealt with judicial usurpation of power. We don’t normally expect someone with your views to have taught, or been associated with, Berkeley. Describe your political journey.
EATON: I can say that I got out of academia after my associations with Berkeley. I could see where it was going—it’s just gotten so intolerant, I didn’t want to put up with it. But, as I said to you previously, I’d like to begin this interview, if I may, by asking a few questions of your listeners, each and every one of them.
ARONOFF: Sure, go ahead.
EATON: First thing is, have you ever had a creeping, uneasy feeling that something was going on around you that just wasn’t right? You weren’t sure what it was, but there it was—and then, maybe, you came to resent having to speak in politically correct words instead of your own, and even got angry when you were bullied into being “nonjudgmental,” as they say—and you’re supposed to be “nonjudgmental” about all the political correctness and so forth, that you’re objecting to—and, finally, did you come to a conclusion that there’s something going terribly wrong with this country? Is there fear around the kitchen table—about your job, your family, or your children’s future, or even, finally, fear about the very existence of a free and democratic America? If you’ve experienced these sentiments or thoughts, and would like better to understand what has happened to us, then the book Liberal Betrayal of America may be just the one for you.
ARONOFF: Yes—go ahead.
EATON: Well, I was going to say our present winter of discontent began, actually, with an uprising on the Berkley campus on December [2nd], 1964. It was—
ARONOFF: Mario Savio.
EATON: Ah, Mario Savio! You’re right with it! You’re savvy!
ARONOFF: So how does that tie into what’s going on today? We’ll start with a rather broad question—
EATON: Give me a few minutes and I’ll explain. It’s important. In the summer of 1964, radical students all across the country banded together and planned a series of uprisings and protests and sit-ins for the coming academic year, the 1964-1965 academic year. They picked Berkeley as the lead-off target, and that did lead to the Free Speech Movement (FSM) and Mario Savio and all that. The key event occurred on [December 2nd], 1964, when they had a massive noon rally in Sproul Plaza, outside the administration building, which is also named Sproul—Sproul Hall. Savio ripped the existing situation, said, “Lay your bodies on it, get your hands on the levers, pull the machine down until it stops.” Then he said, “Now follow me. We’re going to occupy the administration building. There’s to be no resistance, no violence.” And in they went, about a thousand of ’em. In the meantime, the Chancellor and his staff were being hustled down the back stairs and into some waiting police cars to get them out of the way. The occupation was effective. The purpose at Berkeley was to so embarrass the Chancellor that he would be fired or have to resign, and they succeeded in that. They succeeded to the point where even the President of the University, Clark Kerr—the University, as most people know, has eight or nine campuses, I forget how many it had then—was asked to remove himself, too.
ARONOFF: And you were there at the time? You were a teacher there at the time?
EATON: I was there at the time. I was just finishing my Ph.D., and I was teaching—I taught several years there afterwards, and then moved on. I must say, I saw President Kerr once during the event, and his eyes were just glazed. He didn’t know what had struck him. Later on, he said, “We fully misunderstood what was going on.” But he always had a sense of humor—he said, “I leave this job as I came: Fired with enthusiasm.”
EATON: Anyway, after the Berkeley event—of course, we all know there were hundreds of such events across the country that year, and the next academic year—then the kids kept growing up and graduating. Some of them went into business, into news gathering, and so forth, all over the country, and, unfortunately, too many of them stayed and became professors, and we’re going through the second generation of that now. What the ones did that went out into society, they began what I think is traditionally called the “long march through the institutions of America.” They began to infiltrate the schools, the universities, the media, the churches, the family, the rule of law, elements of science, the judiciary, and the federal bureaucracy, among others. It affected religion and the family unit, and even patriotic loyalty. Then, finally, there came a moment of supreme victory. What had finally become evident was, what they had generated is what we’ve called the “culture war” all these years, and it was an attack on the culture, but it finally became evident that it was not just a cultural war, it was actually a civil war. It was a civil war with the exact purpose of any civil war, and that is a war within the country to capture and control, or destroy, the central institutions and ideals of the society, and to impose a different set of social, economic, and political values and institutions. It was that civil war that, in fact, was declared by Mr. Mario Savio on December [2nd], 1964. One of the favorite bumper stickers was “Question Authority,” and they wanted to question authority in order to destroy it—and at Berkeley, they did, and on many other campuses and, in fact, throughout the nation, to a very great extent.
ARONOFF: I was going to ask about your personal journey: Where were you, politically, at that time? How did your position evolve?
EATON: I sort of fit the maxim “If you’re not a liberal at twenty, you don’t have a heart, and if you aren’t a conservative at forty, you haven’t learned anything.” I maybe wasn’t quite forty, but I was learning! I learned a lot from the FSM. I learned how a revolutionary operation works, and that was what the administration missed: They didn’t realize that you couldn’t talk to these people. Chancellor Strong—an ironic name, in view of his weakness—would say, “I want to reach out to these people. I want to understand. What do they really want?” Well, they wanted his head on a pike, as someone told him.
EATON: That’s all they wanted! The administration never understood that. It was a real revolution: It was a total rejection of this society, and, for a long time, it became a civil war, as I said. People don’t like the term “civil war,” and it is a harsh term, but I believe it’s the correct term for this organization. In regard to your question, how did I come about all this, I went through the cycle of feelings and responses that I just asked the audience to ask themselves about, and, finally, I came to the same conclusion, that this country is being hijacked, and we’d better start doing something about it. I began making notes and writing paragraphs and chapters and so on, and this book finally came out.
ARONOFF: Was there an event through the years, or an epiphany on your part, that you trace back to, that you sort of changed from Left to Right in a way? What was that moment for you?
EATON: I don’t think there was a moment. I think it went very much like that series of questions and the responses that I went through. It just became increasingly clear that we were in deep trouble, and the more I thought about it, and found out who was running things, and how it was going, the more sure I became that we were faced with a Marxist-type revolution. That’s why I call it a “civil war.” For a long time—
ARONOFF: Now the title of your book is Liberal Betrayal of America and the Tea Party Firestorm. Describe that liberal betrayal.
EATON: The liberal betrayal was what happened during the “long march”—the takeover, or domination, or destruction, of major institutions of democracy, of the government. The Supreme Court is a good example: The so-called “living Constitution” that they work on, some of them—Justice Breyer spoke only recently, and very proudly, about it—it’s just the judges making up the law as they go along, and pretending that it came from the Constitution. Just like Chief Justice Marshall in Marbury v. Madison, that you referred to before—
ARONOFF: Wait, let me ask you about that, because that’s one that takes us back a ways, and it’s one of the really interesting chapters of this book. There’s so many topics, we’re not going to have time to get to nearly all of them, but this was something, when I was reading in your book about Marbury v. Madison—it had been a while since I’d read about it, but the point is that John Adams had been our second President, but he lost, after one term, to Thomas Jefferson, and during the period between his electoral defeat and leaving office, he had a lame duck session—similar to what just happened in this country in the last month—
EATON: Yeah. I’ll tell you one thing they did: The Federalists had lost the election, so they tried to stuff every office they could possibly find with Federalists, just to make it tough for Jefferson to govern.
ARONOFF: Correct. And one of the appointments was William Marbury, who, for some reason, didn’t take the position until—
EATON: Yeah. He was appointed to be—excuse me—a justice of the peace, and—
ARONOFF: In D. C.
EATON: He wasn’t, because the Secretary of State failed to deliver his commission. The new Secretary of State, the Secretary of State who happened to have failed to deliver his commission, was named John Marshall. Well, John Marshall was another of the “Midnight Appointments,” and he was appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. So it was very handy when Marbury came along to the Court and asked to force the delivery of the commission. This is when Marshall said, “I can’t do this, because the Constitution doesn’t provide for cases of initial jurisdiction of this kind.” The Court, of course, is an appellate court, and there are two or three provisions for the Court to hear initial cases, trial cases you might call them, but Marshall said this wasn’t one of them, sorry. He therefore invalidated a portion of the Judiciary Act of 1789, and that set the stage for what the Supreme Court’s been doing ever since.
ARONOFF: So that was, in essence, the first time that the Supreme Court took supremacy over a coequal branch of Congress, and, until then, it was never thought that that was a possible role of theirs, correct?
EATON: Yes, that’s correct. No one had ever thought of anything like that. It’s now, of course, called “judicial review,” and there is no basis for it in the Constitution whatsoever, but there it is. It developed, as I summarized there—we probably don’t want to get into all that—
ARONOFF: Right. Let’s take that point and do another one that’s possibly going to happen in the near future, and that is the Supreme Court looking at another piece of Congressionally passed legislation—we’ll call it “ObamaCare,” the health care bill—
ARONOFF: So now the Supreme Court will be looking at that, and early indications are that most courts seem to think that at least the personal mandate part of it is going to be found unconstitutional.
EATON: Well, that all depends on Justice Kennedy. That’s the way it is. Kennedy, you know—it’s really ironic, because when Reagan appointed Judge Bork to the Court, he got blindsided as much as the Berkeley administration was when the revolution hit them. They just went all out to destroy Bork’s character, and, of course, he was defeated, and Kennedy was the one that was appointed instead. Now, if they’d handled that differently, and really gone to bat for Bork, you’d have a solid five-to-four conservative Court today, instead of this four-to-four split with Kennedy as the mugwump, as they say—his mug is on one side of the fence, and his wump is on the other side—and he comes down one way or the other as he feels obliged to in a certain case. So we don’t know how it’s going to come out. I really don’t.
ARONOFF: Do you feel it’s pretty certain that you can assume four votes are going to be in favor of keeping ObamaCare and not ruling it unconstitutional in any way? I mean, the votes—
EATON: I’d be very surprised if any of those four found it unconstitutional.
EATON: It’s just, if they can do this, they can do anything—forget the Constitution, forget the rule of law, forget the Supreme Court having any kind of restraint on itself. It’s a very important case—maybe the most important since Marbury v. Madison, I don’t know. It’s just that this just runs through any pretext—they’d have to rely on the Commerce Clause, I suppose, but an individual not doing anything is not really engaged in commerce. But if somebody can invent a rationale to make it so, I don’t know. I did want to finish talking about the development of the civil war, because—
ARONOFF: Okay. Lead it into the Tea Party movement. Go ahead.
EATON: When they at last achieved an identifiable and undeniable commander-in-chief—well, you can guess when that was, the election of 2008, when Mr. Obama took office. The phrase “transformative change” kind of drifted in and out of his speeches as he ran for President, but nobody ever asked him to define it, he never defined it, and nobody paid much attention to it. “Transformative change”—what was that? Well, stop and think about it. What is “transformative change?” It means to transform the society from what it had been to what he wants it to be, which is something else. Well, what had it been? We know what it had been—a free democracy, citizens’ rights and so on, which they now disparage as mere “negative rights.” All the rights in the Constitution just tell you what the government can’t do to you—we need “positive rights”! We want a Constitution that says what the government can do, and must do! Well, Marx had a phrase for that. It was called the “dictatorship of the proletariat.” I think this is what Mr. Obama has in mind. He wants to transform the country and destroy the Constitution. He has stated, frankly, that we are no longer a Christian nation, we’re no longer an exceptional nation. What are we, then? Well, we’re some kind of a super banana republic, I guess. It’s a very dangerous thing, and I’m very, very skeptical about his “pivoting,” as they say, towards the center. A revolutionary will do anything that’s required to complete his work, and he told a gathering of his base of support—which is very radical, of course, MoveOn.org and the worst of the labor unions and so on and so forth—that this is not a short fight, this is a long fight. In other words, “Hang on, guys! We’ve got to fiddle around a little bit until we can get back to work again!” That’s the way I believe that he thinks.
ARONOFF: Okay. Less than a month after—
EATON: I put in my book, I don’t think there’s a drop of American blood in the man. He’s just not an American. The Republicans had a wonderful pin during the election—one said “I Voted for the American.” Anyway, I think he’s a very, very dangerous man, and very bright—you’ve got to watch out for him. So that’s what’s brought the civil war, as I call it, to its ultimate conclusion. We have now what I would analogize is something like a situation of containment, much like we had put the Soviets in at one point. We hadn’t beat them, but we’d contained them for the time being, and now we’ve got to keep fighting to keep them there.
ARONOFF: Less than a month after Obama became President, in February of 2009, CNBC correspondent Rick Santelli first brought up a “Tea Party” which, as you talk about in the book, led to quite a lot of things happening in a short period of time. Give us your take on the Tea Party movement, what it represents, what they’ve accomplished—
EATON: Yes, indeed, that was the next thing I had in mind. Santelli, of course—you’ve probably seen him on the tube—he’s a colorful character. He was ranting on, and, all of a sudden, it came to mind: Why don’t we have another Tea Party? Then the explosion occurred. It seemed spontaneous, but in fact it had been building along with the encroachments of the radical civil war movement—the opposition had been growing alongside it, at the same time, and that’s why these questions, I think, were being asked by people, me and others. Enough is enough after a while. The civil war actually had two commandments. Moses took ten, but these guys only needed two. One was, “Be politically correct,” and the second was “Be nonjudgmental.” That cements you in. You do what you’re going to do, and you say you can’t criticize it, you can’t judge it, so there it goes. But that gets worn out after a while, and, as many others have also put it, this awakened a sleeping giant. Santelli’s remarks were made on February [19, 2009], not quite a month after Obama was inaugurated, but Santelli, and others who were paying attention, could see where he was going. So the Tea Party was spontaneous in the sense that Santelli’s remarks were the spark that really set off what was building up in people’s minds anyway. What do they stand for? That’s what everyone wants to know. At the time, the coordinator of the National Tea Party Patriots was a man named Ryan Hecker. He decided he ought to go out and find out what they thought. So he conducted an online poll of about 500,000 Tea Party members over a period of two months, and he came up with what they called the “Contract From America”—not imposed from the top, but from the bottom-up. There were three points: Individual liberty, free market, and Constitutionally limited government. The Tea Party’s members have confirmed that it’s institutions based on these principles which have made America great and exceptional among nations. It’s to restore America to its greatness by returning it to the principles of its founding. That’s their basis. The composition of the Tea Party is interesting. They’ve been called all kinds of dirty names. When a President comes out and makes comments that Obama has, you really wonder. But the make-up is about 50% Republican, about 30% independent, and, believe it or not, about 20% liberal—many of whom have not previously been involved in politics at all. That’s the really interesting and invigorating part of it. It’s nonpolitical in one sense—of course it’s political, but it’s nonpartisan—perhaps that’s a better way to put it.
ARONOFF: Let’s jump ahead. I want to touch on a few other subjects. The time’s going fast and there’s so much to talk about, but let’s try to get in a few more things. So now, after about a year and a half or so of the Tea Party movement, we have the Congressional elections, and it’s estimated that some 40-plus—43 or 44—of the new 87 Republican House members are what are being called “Tea Party candidates.” And the question is, what is going to happen? Are they going to be co-opted by being in Washington, by the perqs and the power and the rules of Congress and having to compromise? Is it going to be diluted? What do you see happening here?
EATON: An example, not of Tea Parties, but of what happens when you go to Washington would be Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. She came from . . . Arizona.
EATON: She was a very conservative person. But they started inviting her to the parties, and so on, and she finally made a statement to the effect that the main thing that you should aim for in a court decision is the all-important “good impression.” Who’s she trying to impress? She had “grown”—that’s what they say in Washington. I don’t think the Tea Party’s going to go that way . . . but you go to Washington, you feel like you’re in a different country. I think it was a terrible mistake to make a national capital that had nothing in it but politics and business. They should have left it in New York. All the other nations of the world have capitals with a genuine metropolitan aura to them. They’re cities that are cities besides being seats of government. Anyway, the pressure is terrible. I don’t know how many will succumb to it, and how many won’t. I think this is a stronger movement than that. There’s an organization called the Daily Bell that operates out of Appenzell, Switzerland, and they’re very perceptive about what goes on in this country. I think their distance gives them a sharper focus. They look at the Tea Party, and they call it not a “movement,” but a “process.” They see it as existing for a long time—decades, maybe—that it really is something new, and big enough, and powerful enough, to hold together. I hope they’re right. You can’t answer it definitively—we don’t know. Individuals have their own temptations and their own ideas, and who knows? But I don’t think they’re going to cave in—
ARONOFF: One day into the 112th Congress, you’re already seeing reports that they’re scaling back on how much they’re going to cut. They had talked about $100 billion a year, and now they’re down to $50 or $30 billion, or whatever—and some had been talking to going back to 2008 levels, which would really be a lot more significant than even $100 billion a year. So the question is, are we already seeing a sort of backing down, a sort of conforming to the Washington norm now that they’re in there? Or is this still too early to tell what’s going to be happening?
EATON: I think on getting the tax situation resolved, they gave away far more than they had to, hundreds of billions more, ObamaCare kind of stuff, and that was very disappointing. They weren’t in operation yet, but anyway the old lame duck got pretty badly beat up.
ARONOFF: Let’s touch on a few other things from your book. You write in the book about something called “compassionology.” Tell us what it is, and how it applies to, say, LBJ’s Great Society, the idea of the federal government being so involved in health care—Medicare, Medicaid . . .
EATON: Yes. “Compassionology” is a euphemism for government programs that make people more dependent on government and less dependent on themselves. One of the elements of it is super-equality—that’s also called “affirmative action.” Then there’s the ideas of “diversity.” You have to have “diversity” everywhere. Athletics in college has been all screwed up because, to attain “diversity,” you’ve got to spend the same amount of money on the ladies that you do on the guys, and football, basketball, and so on are mainly male sports, especially football, and that’s messing up the college athletic situation. But the main thing is “victimology,” as I call it. Shelby Steele, who’s black, of course, a Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, calls it the “fierce grievance industry.” It just divides people off into their own feed lots. Any identifiable group that can be split off from the main group is, in disregard of the idea that we’re supposed to be a country of equals with diversity within equality. If you make them all victims, then what you do—in fact, what the whole movement of the civil war is, is to break down the psychological strength to resist dictators, either internally or of the hope for—they hope for—a new world order. A principle technique is to break down the family unit, destroy the family—including family-inculcated principles of religion, honor, patriotism, sexual behavior, and so forth. It’s to break down the individual responsibility needed for a healthy democracy. And the Tea Party is kind of, as Bill Buckley might have put it, “standing athwart history yelling ‘Stop!’ Enough of that!”
That’s what I mean. Multiculturalism is at the center of it. You don’t induce new entrants into the country, even illegal ones, to meld into the country—as we did with the old melting pot idea—but to put your native culture first, and American culture second. Blacks have been [unintelligible], by so-called “leaders” that aren’t really leaders—“warders,” I would call them—to induce guilt in the likes of racial prejudice and so on, and when racial prejudice on the surface disappears, it’s supposed to remain hidden in your breast anyway, and you keep doing it. But the whole “compassionology” thing, as I say, it turns on multiculturalism, and you can see it in a more advanced stage in Britain, even—the government is obliged to advance these cultural groups ahead of any national interest, and it splinters the country, and makes it easier to divide and conquer, as they say. So that’s—
ARONOFF: Let me ask you to put on your media watchdog hat, and tell us how you view the media and their role in this sort of transformation, when the media was sort of more just the unilateral sort of Walter Cronkite, “That’s the way it is,” to now, with the Internet and talk radio and Fox News, how it’s more diverse—if I may use that word!—and what is happening today in terms of the FCC’s efforts to make the media more “fair,” as they like to say. Give us your take on the media.
EATON: My view is that if the Democrats didn’t have ABC and CBS and NBC, they’d never get elected. Talk about campaign money! They get hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of free campaigning from their acolytes in the so-called “mainstream media.” But, as you’re suggesting, it’s not so mainstream anymore. That’s another comment that my friends in Appenzell, Switzerland, in the Daily Bell, comment on frequently. They compare the invention of the Internet with the invention of the printing press. For the press, of course, allowed people to read the Bible, and everything else that had been on scrolls and in monasteries before that. Here, the media [Internet] is exposing schemes and talking about ideas that you couldn’t circulate before. There was no way to circulate them. And [the Daily Bell] think the media [Internet] is going to have a very profound effect—as I say, comparable to the printing press—in opening things up, and, in fact, it probably had a great deal to do with the rise of the Tea Party movement. It was on Youtube that the whole thing exploded, when Santelli’s rant, as he called it, was picked up from the floor of the Chicago Exchange. It’s very diverse now, but, of course, Obama and his crew are going to try their best to shut down talk radio, and now they’re going on “Net Neutrality,” they want to make the ’net “neutral.” They don’t want to make it neutral! They want to make it pro-Obama, just like the principal media is. That’s hard to combat—but it can be done now, and it is being done.
ARONOFF: You talk about, in the book, how certain words are used as a form of bias. You give one example of how they call it “The People’s Republic of China,” the “Soviet Socialist Republic”—using the word republic when it’s really sort of the opposite of that. The use of words in our culture, and how people try to use these words to convey something—what’s your observation on that one?
EATON: You can take a lot of examples from Obama’s campaign—“Hope” and “Change.” “Hope” for what? “Change” for what? We don’t know for what. And when he gets in—my reading of Obama is, I listen to what he says, and then I’m pretty sure that he’s going to do just the opposite. He’s using words as any authoritarian agency would, to just simply mislead. He talks about his love of the middle class—well, if you’re going to get rid of a free democracy, what you’re going to have is socialism of some kind, and Karl Marx made it quite clear how you run that: You run it with a dictatorship of the proletariat. And if you’re going to have a dictatorship of the proletariat, the last thing you want is a lot of middle class entrepreneurs hanging around. So when Obama says he’s going to “help the middle class,” watch out! He’s after them! He’s just turned words on their head. The liberals have a nasty habit—you remember the fear that we were being subject to a “Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy”? That was simply projection, as the psychologists would call it, of what the liberals themselves were doing, subjecting us to a Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy, which is the whole movement of what I call the civil war. You have to read things very carefully, and listen to people very carefully, nowadays. It was Hillary Clinton, of course, who warned about the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, and it was also she who said, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Sorry, parents won’t do! If you get ’em out in the village—if you know what the village is, it’s an institution of some kind or other, and there are school books now that, for example, prohibit the talk of “mother” and “father.” Can’t talk about a mother and father, because that would offend people that have two mommies or two daddies.
ARONOFF: William, listen—unfortunately, we’re just about out of time. I just want to give you a minute or so to give your final thoughts, a summary, and then to tell people where they can find your website and buy your book—and then we’re going to have to leave it there.
EATON: Oh, dear, is it done already? I’m surprised. The book can be bought through Amazon.
ARONOFF: Amazon. And again, the name of it is Liberal Betrayal of America and the Tea Party Firestorm. Again, the name of the author, our guest today, is William Davis Eaton. Your final thoughts, please.
EATON: I do want to mention that I have a website, which is teapartyfirestorm.com, and, also, on Youtube, I have a nine-minute dissertation that would be helpful in fleshing out some of the things we’ve been talking about. But I feel that we are at a tipping point, and what I call the sociofacism that we’re being threatened by, but, as I say, we’re containing it now, for a while. America is an exceptional nation. It’s envied by the people of the world. We have the energy and the resources, if we’re determined to use them, to defeat the liberal betrayal of this country and to reassert America’s destiny and liberty. The basis of all that is the Constitution. That’s what makes us such an exceptional country. No one ever heard of a Constitution like that, and no one has today. If we live by it, and go back to it, we’re okay. If we can’t break through to do that, we’re in deep trouble.
ARONOFF: All right. Our guest today has been William Davis Eaton, an attorney, arbitrator, former professor at Berkeley and elsewhere, author of the new book Liberal Betrayal of America and the Tea Party Firestorm. Again, William Davis Eaton, thank you so much for being with us on Take AIM.
EATON: Thank you! I’m very glad to have been here!