Sally Kohn – Caped Avenger of “Progressivism”

September 25, 2011

This is a long post, sorry about that, but it was necessary to get it all said…

Hot Air points to this September 23rd editorial in the Washington Post written by Sally Kohn, described by the WaPo as a political commentator and grass-roots strategist. What they don’t tell you is that Kohn is a model “progressive”, a perfect vessel for the Obama agenda.

She is a thirtysomething lesbian academic with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from George Washington University, later receiving a dual degree from New York University School of Law in public administration and legal studies. Kohn was a Root Tilden public service scholar at the New York University School of Law.

According to her Wikipedia bio, she is a “community activist”, never holding a job in the private sector, her “work” experiences consist of being a:

“Senior Campaign Strategist with the Center for Community Change, where she served as co-Director. She also previously served as Executive Director of the Third Wave Foundation. Kohn held a program fellowship at the Ford Foundation, helping to manage more than $15 million in annual grants. She was also a distinguished Vaid Fellow at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. Kohn has consulted at organizations such as the Urban Justice Center. She was also a strategic adviser to the Social Justice Infrastructure Funders.

She has appeared on MSNBC shows The Ed Show and The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.  Kohn has also published op-eds for outlets including Fox News,The Washington Post, The Nation, The Christian Science Monitor, and USA Today. She is also a contributor to The Huffington Post. Kohn is the author of a forthcoming book, The Audacity of Audacity: Why Elections Don’t Matter — And Progressives Lose Even When They Win Them.”

And we have the modern liberal seal of approval, she is in a same-sex relationship with an adopted daughter – Willa has two mommies.

Kohn met her partner, Sarah Hansen, at the World Social Forum in Porto Allegre, Brazil, in 2003. Hansen works as an activist and consultant, and is the former Executive Director of the Environmental Grantmakers Association. They have a 3 year old daughter, Willa Eliza Hansen-Kohn.

So, given her pedigree as a thirtysomething product of government schools in the later 80’s and mid 90’s (the heady days of the Clinton Administration), a graduate of elite universities with degrees in “soft” science and the wonders of government intrusion (public administration) and a purveyor of an alternative lifestyle approved (some would say “promoted”) by the “progressive” social behavioral arbiters, it is clear that she ticks every box as a “progressive” authority on conservatism…and it is also a sure fire guarantee that she gets everything about conservative beliefs exactly wrong.

This editorial is filled with Marxist belief disguised as democratic populism. If you critically read her points, it is nothing more than a love note to Marx.

She starts her error filled ode to Marx with her exhortation to escalate the “class warfare”.

On Monday, defending his plan to raise taxes on the rich to pay for job creation, President Obama said: “This is not class warfare, it’s math.”

No, Mr. President, this is class warfare — and it’s a war you’d better win. Corporate interests and the rich started it. Right now, they’re winning. Progressives and the middle class must fight back, and the president should be clear whose side he’s on.

She is wrong about conservatism and conservative beliefs right from the start. She writes:

The class war began in 1971. That year, soon-to-be Supreme Court justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. wrote a confidential memorandum to a friend at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce about the “Attack of the American Free Enterprise System.” In the mid-20th century — from the New Deal to Social Security to environmental and civil rights laws — the government had cut into corporate profits while creating middle-class prosperity. Falsely believing that capitalism was under attack, Powell wrote: “It must be recognized that businessmen have not been trained or equipped to conduct guerrilla warfare with those who propagandize against the system.” His proposal, from which the modern conservative movement grew, was to equip business elites for that battle with aggressive policies to make Americans believe that what’s good for wealthy chief executives is good for them, too.

This is actually going to be a surprise to M. Stanton Evans (and would have been to the deceased William F. Buckley) as the generally accepted founding of modern conservatism was based on the Sharon Statement of September 11, 1960 and the subsequent founding of the American Conservative Union in 1964.

Justice Powell was not indicating a preference of corporation over people; he was highlighting the dangers of “progressive” attacks on the free enterprise system. This “confidential memo” was leaked to

‘…Jack Anderson, a liberal syndicated columnist, who stirred interest in the document when he cited it as reason to doubt Powell’s legal objectivity. Anderson cautioned that Powell “might use his position on the Supreme Court to put his ideas into practice…in behalf of business interests.”’

Powell wrote:

Social science faculties (the political scientist, economist, sociologist and many of the historians) tend to be liberally oriented, even when leftists are not present. This is not a criticism per se, as the need for liberal thought is essential to a balanced viewpoint. The difficulty is that “balance” is conspicuous by its absence on many campuses, with relatively few members being of conservatives or moderate persuasion and even the relatively few often being less articulate and aggressive than their crusading colleagues.

This situation extending back many years and with the imbalance gradually worsening, has had an enormous impact on millions of young American students. In an article in Barron’s Weekly, seeking an answer to why so many young people are disaffected even to the point of being revolutionaries, it was said: “Because they were taught that way.” Or, as noted by columnist Stewart Alsop, writing about his alma mater: “Yale, like every other major college, is graduating scores’ of bright young men … who despise the American political and economic system.”

As these “bright young men,” from campuses across the country, seek opportunities to change a system which they have been taught to distrust — if not, indeed “despise” — they seek employment in the centers of the real power and influence in our country, namely: (i) with the news media, especially television; (ii) in government, as “staffers” and consultants at various levels; (iii) in elective politics; (iv) as lecturers and writers, and (v) on the faculties at various levels of education.

Many do enter the enterprise system — in business and the professions — and for the most part they quickly discover the fallacies of what they have been taught. But those who eschew the mainstream of the system often remain in key positions of influence where they mold public opinion and often shape governmental action. In many instances, these “intellectuals” end up in regulatory agencies or governmental departments with large authority over the business system they do not believe in. [emphasis mine – ed.]

So, far from a blessing of corporate greed, it really was a prophetic vision of the end-game that was started by the 60’s counter culture and resulted in the Sally Kohn’s of today (one of the few things that she got right was that this was written in 1971 – 40 years ago). Pay special attention to the highlighted text. I can see where Ms. Kohn would take issue with this particular memo – it accurately describes both her and our current president.

Her next assertions are:

  • Between 1979 and 2007, the income gap between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the poorest 40 percent more than tripled.
  • Americans saw their real incomes decline by 2.3 percent in 2010.
  • Though our economy grew in 2009 and 2010, 88 percent of the increase in real national income went to corporate profits, one study found. Only 1 percent went to wages and salaries for working people.
  • Last year, American companies posted their biggest profits ever, and bonuses for bank and hedge fund executives not only reached record highs, but grew faster than corporate revenue. Meanwhile, almost one in 10 Americans is unemployed, and 15 percent live at or below the poverty level.
  • Three out of four Americans support raising taxes on the richest of the rich. Even a majority of Republican voters favor such tax increases.
  • 400 people control more wealth than the poorest 150 million Americans combined.
  • After all, according to the CIA, income inequality in the United States is greater than in Yemen.

First of all, what does bullet points 1 and 2 have to do with anything other than to make the attempt to claim that somehow the top 1% are causing a decline in the “poorest 40%”. In real terms, the “poorest 40%” are in the worst position to reap rewards from any economic growth due to lower levels of education or other factors (this isn’t a slam on poor people, I grew up in rural Mississippi without advantage but I found ways to succeed in spite of my conditions). This statement doesn’t address the sources of “income”. A lower skilled hourly worker getting only cost of living increases won’t experience the benefit of investing in the stock market and gaining dividends or income from sale of appreciated stock – curiously, these are things that the “progressives” want to “protect” these same people from. Too much risk, you know…

As far as the other assertions, we are in the third year of a global recession, the 2.3% decline in real incomes cuts across all incomes, the “rich” included. 75% of people don’t support tax increases without spending cuts, a majority of Republicans are not in favor of tax increases. There are only 310 million people in the US, so a large portion of the 150 million she quotes must be children, we only have roughly 150 million tax returns filed a year, almost 50% of which do not pay income tax. The swipe at corporations as the children of Satan is also a red herring – the same could be said about a “progressive” favorite, the public sector unions. According to the most recent Employer Costs for Employee Compensation survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics,

…as of December 2009, state and local government employees earned total compensation of $39.60 an hour, compared to $27.42 an hour for private industry workers-a difference of over 44 percent. This includes 35 percent higher wages and nearly 69 percent greater benefits.

We don’t really hear about the unfairness of this wage disparity, do we?

While she claims, “As a progressive activist who has marched against many wars, I try to avoid militant rhetoric”, she does a poor job of it.

  • ‘If “class warfare” isn’t the richest of the rich fighting tooth and nail against unions and any tax increases while record numbers of people lose their homes, what is?’
  • “If we’re at war, it’s time to escalate.”
  • Imagine a nationwide call to arms, as passionately nonviolent but as violently passionate as the pro-democracy movements sweeping the Arab world. [not sure about this – the passion seems to be more toward theocratic Islamic totalitarianism than “democracy”, but the “progressives” can’t afford to recognize that fact or they would have to admit that they are dupes. – ed.]
  • Instead of denying that there’s a class war in America, Obama must come out swinging for the good guys.
  • And imagine if this war between the rich and the rest of us defined the battle for the presidency in 2012.

One can hear the warmed over socialist echoes of 1960’s activism in her words. The ideas of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels are clearly present in her closing points:

  • The richest 10 percent of Americans control two-thirds of the nation’s wealth.
  • While the revolutionary spirit is brimming around the globe, progressive activists have been stymied by the seeming complacency of Americans in the face of this obvious inequality.
  • And millions of Americans could be inspired to try, in their own way, to topple our economy’s brutal inequality.
  • Imagine millions of Americans withholding mortgage payments to banks that refuse to adjust underwater loans.
  • Imagine divestment campaigns to pressure public pension funds and universities to pull their money from the private sector and put it into government bonds.
  • Imagine students staging sit-ins to protest teacher layoffs. Imagine families who have lost their homes squatting in vacant, bank-owned properties.

She closes with:

Yes, it’s class warfare. Which side are you on?

I think that is the essence of the 2012 election. Are you on the side of the Marxist/proto-communist “progressives”, or are you on the side of freedom, self-determination and liberty? I’m sure that Ms. Kohn would love to hear from you, as a convenience to conservatives, she helpfully give her email address: [email protected].

13 Responses to Sally Kohn – Caped Avenger of “Progressivism”

  1. Steve on September 25, 2011 at 3:24 am

    “In many instances, these “intellectuals” end up in regulatory agencies or governmental departments with large authority over the business system they do not believe in”
    — Powell

    Another reason why Cain was correct to say that the EPA would be the #1 government agency to shut down (and rebuild from scratch). That’s pretty much what you’d have to do with the DOE and many others… You’d need to gut them with a “Top—Down” approach, taking the liberal eggheads out of the equation 1st. Only a bold Conservative will do this. Not squishy Rino weaklings

    Hey Utah, what did you think about the Florida Straw Poll?

  2. Those weren't bran muffins, Brainiac... on September 25, 2011 at 5:15 am

    Marxists lie as easily as fish swim.

    Read You Can Trust The Communists (to be Communists) by Schwarz. Excerpt here:

    Available from many sources. Updated edition:

  3. invalid10 on September 25, 2011 at 6:05 am

    Marco Rubio at center of new “birther” conflict.

  4. utahprez on September 25, 2011 at 7:00 am

    I like Cain a lot. I wrote about him and a speech he gave back in February. People hold the fact that he was chairman of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City against him but that’s not a negative in my book.

    I would rather have him than Perry or Romney.

  5. ken_phd on September 25, 2011 at 7:36 am


    I think we’ve got our candidate. Let’s roll.

  6. anonymous un-RINO on September 25, 2011 at 7:45 am

    I’m starting to feel a concensus coming on.

    I don’t know much about Cain, but I know I don’t like the Big 2. I think those sentiments could be catching on.

    We need to put Cain in the box and vet him thoroughly. Let’s see if he can respond to the pressure. Perry certainly is failing that test. Romney is slicker than snot on a doorknob, and is impossible to vet in my opinion.

  7. invalid10 on September 25, 2011 at 7:52 am
  8. invalid10 on September 25, 2011 at 7:55 am

    Pope calls politicians a band of robbers

    “We have seen how power became divorced from right, how power opposed right and crushed it, so that the State became an instrument for destroying right — a highly organized band of robbers, capable of threatening the whole world and driving it to the edge of the abyss.”

  9. ken_phd on September 25, 2011 at 8:28 am


    Thanks for the link about Cain. The article appears to have been written by a Ron Paul supporter. In any case, Cain’s philosophy appears to be to change the tax code to keep the same amount of tax revenue coming in (revenue neutral) but to allow the economy to grow. I agree with that. Anything you disagree with?

  10. Freind of Herman Cain on September 25, 2011 at 8:43 am

    The Ron Paul supporters on YouTube are just mean and nasty. In the past, they never said a peep about Herman Cain, but now they are even more insufferable and obnoxious than they’ve ever been. I think that this Herman Cain victory gave a belly punch to Rick Perry but it’s also making the Ron Paul kids even crazier and more annoying than ever, which hardly seemed possible until now. I’d like for Ron Paul to go away just so I don’t have to listen to his obnoxious base.

  11. utahprez on September 25, 2011 at 9:49 am

    ken – I think I’m about to board the Cain Train. I’ve been watching him since he announced but have been looking for signs of electability. So much of the Republican sorting process has been sideshow for the last few months, he hasn’t really had the opportunity to break through. The Florida debate may have allowed him to do that while Perry and Romney were locking horns like two enraged RINOs.

  12. invalid10 on September 25, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Ken- that’s fine though I think it’s impossible to calculate. Both Rand and Ron Paul support revenue neutral when it comes to spending, but not when it comes to taxes so I think this approach makes sense.

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